Week 4 was my best week to date. After going an abysmal 4-9 ATS in Week 1, I have gone a combined 26-13-2 ATS in the last three weeks, including 10-3 ATS last week. I also nailed the Bears and Rams in their respective games this week, which I don’t count towards my overall record.
Week 5 stands out as one of the more difficult weeks that I can remember in recent memory. When the lines first came out early on Monday, there was only one game that stood out to me as a game worth wagering on. As the week has gone on, not a whole lot has changed. The oddsmakers did a really good job at setting numbers this week, but hopefully I can put together a fourth straight winning week.
Falcons @ Redskins: I’m not going to read too much into the Falcons’ close call at home to the Panthers last week. Carolina needed to win that game desperately and Atlanta was in a predictable flat spot. I will however read a lot into the mismatch that the Redskins’ ground game poses for the Falcons’ defense. Washington ranks 2nd in the league in rushing, averaging 171 yards per game. The Redskins dual rushing threat of Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III should have a field day against the Falcons’ defense that surrenders 5.2 yards per carry. With Washington being able to move the chains on the ground, Griffin III won’t be facing the third-and-longs that usually get rookie quarterbacks into trouble. Defensively, the Redskins will have their hands full with Matt Ryan and company, but it’s important to note that Washington’s defensive line has held up considerably despite the loss of Adam Carriker to injury. If the Redskins can continue to maintain gap control with their front three, they should have the luxury of dropping more players into coverage to slow down the Falcons’ aerial attack. It’s no secret that Matt Ryan isn’t as comfortable on the road as he is at home, and while he’s played well away from home to start the season, he’s turned the ball over far more frequently on the road in the past. I like the upset here. Redskins 28, Falcons 27
Eagles @ Steelers: I know that the Steelers are coming off of their bye week, but I feel as though I may have severely overrated them heading into this season. The Steelers are ranked dead last in the league at rushing the football, averaging only 65 yards per game and a disgusting 2.6 yards per attempt. Pittsburgh will finally get Rashard Mendenhall back from injury this week, but I fear that the Steelers’ rushing problems stem from their subpar offensive line and not from their running backs. Philadelphia is fresh off of limiting the Giants’ rushing attack to a total of 57 yards rushing, so I’d expect them to be able to clamp down on the Steelers in this contest. Ben Roethlisberger should still be able to convert some third downs, but in the end, the Eagles are one of the last teams that you want to be facing third-and-longs against all afternoon. Philadelphia has one of the league’s best pass rush tandems in Jason Babin and Trent Cole, who combined for a solid 29 sacks last season. Rest assured, the Eagles’ pass rush will be giving the Steelers’ offensive line fits all day long. Meanwhile, it seems as though Michael Vick got the memo to protect the ball. He was never in danger of turning the ball over against the Giants last week, and was even willing to take a sack when need be. Philadelphia will work LeSean McCoy heavily into their game plan for the second straight week, en route to another tight victory. Eagles 20, Steelers 17
Packers @ Colts: This is probably the most difficult game of the week to handicap. Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this week and it undoubtedly came as a shock to most of the Colts’ players. It’s just impossible to predict where their heads will be at for this week’s game. In the past, we’ve seen individual players and even entire teams rise to the occasion in adversity, but we’ve also seen situations where they’ve laid a complete egg. I think the latter is more likely. The Colts are a fairly young team as their roster averages just over 26 years of age, and the loss of Pagano will certainly be huge. Aside from the Colts’ mentality heading into this came, they’re just not equipped to deal with the Packers on both sides of the ball. Green Bay isn’t the juggernaut that people think they are, but they should still be able to move the chains with ease. Indianapolis doesn’t really do a good job of stopping anything, and if the Packers can establish the run with Cedric Benson, Aaron Rodgers will be able to work the play action game all afternoon. On the other side of things, Andrew Luck isn’t going to like Clay Matthews rushing him from his blind side. The Colts have struggled to hold up in pass protection this season and stopgaps like Winston Justice will have their hands full with the Packers’ pass rush. I’m never comfortable laying points on the road with teams that aren’t playing their best, but I think the circumstances warrant it on this occasion. Packers 31, Colts 14
Browns @ Giants: The Browns are getting a lot of love this week. I’m a big football fan and enjoy reading other prediction and picks blogs out there on the internet, and it seems like the Browns are a consensus play amongst everyone. A couple of people that I respect have even gone with Cleveland to win this game outright. I just don’t see it happening. There’s no doubt that the Giants have been battered by injuries and will head into this game shorthanded, but there’s still enough talent on both sides of the ball for them to win this game comfortably. In the last couple of years, New York’s success has been entirely contingent on whether or not they can run the ball successfully. Last week, the Giants could muster only 57 yards on the ground and they predictably struggled to score points against the Eagles. This week, they go up against a Browns defense that gives up 117.2 yards per game on the ground. Eli Manning is deadly when he can work his play action passes and operate out of favorable situations. With Cleveland’s Pro Bowl calibre cornerback Joe Haden still serving a suspension, I don’t see this Browns’ defense slowing down the Giants. The common mistake that most people are making in handicapping this game is that they’re expecting the Browns to duplicate the success that the Eagles had on the ground last week. New York surrendered 191 yards rushing to Philadelphia last week, but it’s important to note that they had to be concerned about the Eagles’ other offensive weapons. With Cleveland, the combination of Greg Little, Travis Benjamin, and Ben Watson aren’t exactly the scariest downfield threats. New York rolls. Giants 34, Browns 13
Titans @ Vikings: The most common mistake made by NFL bettors is overreacting to last week. The Vikings marched into Detroit and escaped with a victory while the Titans got obliterated by the Texans. Let’s quickly delve into those two games. Minnesota picked up only 227 total net yards against one of the league’s worst defenses and won the game on the back of two special teams’ touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Titans’ starting quarterback Jake Locker got injured early in the first quarter, forcing a veteran who takes few first team reps in practice nowadays, to come into the game and take on arguably the league’s best defense. I doubt you’re going to see a repeat of what happened last week. Matt Hasselbeck will be starting at quarterback for Tennessee this week and he’s always been good at protecting the ball. Since Hasselbeck entered the league in 1999, he’s never thrown more than 17 interceptions in a full season. Essentially, he’s a veteran version of Christian Ponder. Both teams will rely heavily on their running game, and while it may seem as though Minnesota would have a huge edge, the Titans will get inside linebacker Colin McCarthy back from injury this week, which will really help in all aspects of their defense. Ultimately, I’m just not comfortable with the Vikings being in the favorite role. I think Tennessee bounces back after an embarrassing showing last week. Titans 23, Vikings 20
Dolphins @ Bengals: The Dolphins aren’t going to the playoffs this season, so this one’s simple—the Bengals will win and cover. Cincinnati has proven to be a slightly above average football team that only seems to lose games against playoff calibre teams. Aside from the fact that the Dolphins aren’t nearly as talented as the Bengals, I just don’t know how Miami is going to get up for this game after back-to-back overtime losses. That would be demoralizing for any team in the NFL. Even if Miami does show up for this game, they aren’t equipped to deal with all of the big play weapons that the Bengals have on offense. I’m not the biggest fan of Andy Dalton as a quarterback, but he’s really done a good job spreading the ball around to A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins, and Jermaine Gresham. What will really be interesting in this game is to see if Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline can duplicate their success from last week. The Bengals were literally missing half of their cornerbacks due to injury last week against the Jaguars, but it looks like Cincinnati will be getting everyone back this week, including starters Leon Hall and Nate Clements. As long as the Bengals’ secondary remains intact, I think the Tannehill to Hartline connection was a one week wonder. Bengals 27, Dolphins 17
Ravens @ Chiefs: This is a really tough spot for Baltimore. Yes, the Ravens have had extra time to prepare for this game, but they’ll be facing a motivated Chiefs’ squad that is looking to prove themselves after getting shellacked at home last week. The Ravens also have a couple of big games against the Cowboys and Texans on deck, so it would be very easy to overlook Kansas City in this spot. The Chiefs were stomped by the Chargers last week in large part due to committing a ridiculous six turnovers. Kansas City is now -13 in turnover differential on the season which is truly an amazing number when you consider that the worst turnover differential in the league last season was -16. I’d say a regression to the mean is due. Romeo Crennel will have undoubtedly preached about the importance of protecting the ball all week, and I’m confident that the Chiefs will get back to what they do best, running the ball. The Ravens have given up 6 touchdowns on the ground this season, so there’s definitely an opportunity for Kansas City to find the endzone with their rushing attack. Additionally, this is only the 10th time that the Chiefs have been a 6+ point underdog at home since 1989 and that’s because of their significant home field advantage. I’m not willing to put any money down on Kansas City this weekend because it’s entirely possible that they get blown out here, but I’m really feeling the upset. Chiefs 20, Ravens 18
Seahawks @ Panthers: I’m going to go against one of my cardinal rules and actually take the Seahawks on the road. The Panthers’ last minute loss to the Falcons last week was devastating. Cam Newton held up the team bus after the game while he was busy crying like a baby in the locker room. This is not a team with the proper mindset right now. The Seahawks have been notoriously bad on the road in recent years, but they really match up well with the Panthers. Carolina needs to run the ball successfully in order to win games and it’ll be very difficult for the Panthers to accomplish that against a superb Seahawks’ defensive front. Cam Newton is a very good quarterback in a number of areas, but he’s struggled with interceptions this season as he consistently stares down his receivers. With the Seahawks presumably shutting down the run (they’ve given up just 3 yards per carry on the season), Newton will be facing a lot of unfavorable situations. Newton will inevitably be guilty of trying to “do too much” and try to force some balls into coverage downfield. On the other side of things, the Seahawks aren’t much different than the Panthers in that they need to run the ball productively as well in order to emerge victorious. Fortunately for Seattle, the Panthers give up a whopping 4.9 yards per carry and 134.8 yards per game on the ground. This looks like a game that Seattle can dominate in the trenches, and despite their history of pissing themselves on the road, I think they’ll pull this one out. Seahawks 23, Panthers 17
Bears @ Jaguars: How the hell are the Jaguars going to be competitive in this game? Blaine Gabbert is fresh off of throwing for 186 yards against a group of high school cornerbacks, so I have no clue how he’s going to move the ball against Chicago. The Bears could be flat coming off of their blowout victory over the Cowboys on Monday, but even then, they should be able to beat Jacksonville by more than a touchdown. The only chance that the Jaguars have of winning this game is if they can force Jay Cutler to revert into a turnover machine. One problem though—the Jaguars have generated just 2 sacks in 4 games this season. Cutler’s going to have a ton of time in the pocket to make plays downfield. I really don’t want to spend any more time on this game. 90% of the public is backing the Bears so I wouldn’t be completely shocked if the Jags miraculously keep this game close, but I just don’t see it happening. Bears 31, Jaguars 10
Broncos @ Patriots: This may be the game of the week from a viewing perspective, but I want no piece of betting on it. I’m going to side with the Patriots but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Broncos were competitive and even pulled off the outright upset. New England absolutely obliterated Denver twice last year, scoring a combined 86 points en route to a regular season and a postseason victory. While the Broncos offense has changed drastically under Peyton Manning, their defense has remained relatively unchanged. I don’t see what’s stopping New England from putting up another high point total this week, especially after the way they finished last week’s game against the Bills. The main question is whether or not Denver’s offense can keep up. I’m a big fan of Peyton Manning and I was quick to defend him after his poor Week 2 performance against the Falcons, but it’s concerning that his only road game as a Bronco thus far was such a poor performance. One game isn’t much of a sample size, but it makes me wonder if Manning can replicate his success at home on the road. What particularly bothers me about the Broncos is that they frequently blow pass protection schemes and that may really come back to bite them against New England’s strong front seven. For the Broncos to remain competitive, they’ll need another strong performance out of Willis McGahee. Manning is not equipped with the arm strength to deal with long third down situations as he has been in years past, so he’ll need a successful ground attack to open things up for him. New England gives up just 3.4 yards per carry and 85.2 rushing yards per game, so I’ll side with the defense. Peyton Manning is usually a great bet as an underdog, but I don’t like his chances this week. Patriots 37, Broncos 24
Bills @ 49ers: This is one of my favorite betting spots. The 49ers are coming off of a blowout win and the Bills are coming off of a blowout loss. This is very similar to the Falcons-Panthers game from last week except for the fact that the Bills have to travel 2,700 miles. San Francisco is a solid football team but they have a huge revenge game on deck against the Giants next weekend. Aside from all of the non-football factors, I’m not quite sure I’m comfortable laying double digits with an offense that has a game manager at quarterback. The Bills’ defense is not as bad as advertised, and they’ve already rebounded well this season after giving up 48 to the points to the Jets in Week 1, so I think they show up to play again this week. Offensively, I think the Bills can move the ball with some consistency. The Bills will be without a pair of offensive linemen with left tackle Cordy Glenn and right guard Kraig Urbik missing this week’s contest due to injury, and while the losses of Glenn and Urbik will definitely hurt the Bills in the long run, I think that Buffalo will implement a shorter passing game this weekend that suits Ryan Fitzpatrick’s weak arm. San Francisco doesn’t give up a ton of big plays but they’re susceptible to a dink-and-dunk type of offense as evidenced by their Week 3 loss in Minnesota. I might be crazy but I really think that Buffalo can pull this game out. Bills 20, 49ers 19
Chargers @ Saints: It still boggles my mind that people think that the Saints are going to turn things around. This team is done. They’ll be lucky to pick up a handful of wins this year with their inconsistencies on both sides of the ball. Many people will read too much into their 1-point loss to the Packers last week and think that that game was actually close. The Saints benefited from some horrible officiating and a fluke injury to Aaron Rodgers to make the game look competitive, but in reality, they were the second best team from start to finish. I don’t know how New Orleans is going to generate any stops in this game. The Saints give up an average of 463.2 yards per game, which is over 40 yards worse than the second worst team in the league. They stink against the run and they can’t pass rush, having registered only 6 sacks through 4 games. New Orleans is 28th in the league in time of possession mainly because their defense can’t get off the field, and also partially because their offense has been lacking consistency. The Saints are a bad football team and things aren’t going to get better. San Diego makes a statement and wins in a blowout. Chargers 42, Saints 24
I lost my survivor pick when New England blew it at home in Week 2, but I’ll continue providing my insight on a week-to-week basis. Last week, I went with the Packers over the Saints, and while the game ended up being close, it really shouldn’t have been. I strongly suggested avoiding the Falcons and Cardinals, and even though both teams won, you probably would have lost a couple of years of your life had you taken either team.
My general rules of thumb for making survivor picks are:
a) No division games
b) No road teams
c) No underdogs
I should point out that I occasionally stray from these rules if there is one pick that I’m really confident in.
Most people will be considering one of the following eight games this week:
Green Bay at Indianapolis
NY Giants vs. Cleveland
Minnesota vs. Tennessee
Baltimore at Kansas City
Chicago at Jacksonville
New England vs. Denver
San Francisco vs. Buffalo
Houston at NY Jets
I’ve already used Green Bay and Houston so I have to drop them from my list. I would never advise picking a road team anyways, so I’m going to drop Baltimore and Chicago as well.
That leaves four games. Forget that I took New England earlier in the year—I wouldn’t consider them anyways because Peyton Manning has historically been outstanding in an underdog role. There are better options this week and the Patriots will have plenty of games where you can take them in the future.
We’re now left with the Giants, Vikings, and 49ers and this becomes easy for me. I have both the Vikings and 49ers losing outright so I’m rolling with the Giants over the Browns. New York may be the most heavily picked team this week but I don’t care because I think that they have the best chance of winning their game. I’d estimate that the Giants beat the Browns approximately 80% of the time, while the 49ers are somewhere around 70% and the Vikings somewhere around 60%.
Week 1 – Houston Texans – W 30-13
Week 2 – New England Patriots – L 20-18
Week 3 – Dallas Cowboys – W 16-10
Week 4 – Green Bay Packers – W 28-27
Week 5 – New York Giants –
AGAINST THE SPREADSHEET
Week in and week out, you will get a look at my spreadsheet which shows my confidence in each selection.
The “Strength of Pick” column indicates how confident I am in my selection with 1 being the most confident and 14 being the least confident.
The ‘Initial Reaction’ column indicates my confidence when the game lines were first released late Sunday night/early Monday morning.
The ‘Mid Week’ column indicates my confidence on Wednesday.
The ‘Final Selection’ column indicates my final picks against the spread.
It’s one thing to show you a table indicating who I like in each game, but it’s another thing to actually show you where I’m throwing my money down.
I rate my plays on a scale of 3* to 6* with a 6* play qualifying as my top play. I would estimate that 1 out of every 25 plays earns a 6* distinction, with approximately 50% of my plays earning a 3* distinction.
There was a point this week where I actually considered betting on only one game. As time has gone on, I feel that that’s pretty stupid since I’ve been so hot in the last three weeks. One game sets itself apart from the rest though. Here are my three plays this week:
5* San Diego Chargers +3.5 (-110) – Bet365
I would have liked to get the Chargers at +4 in this game but couldn’t find it anywhere. Regardless, I think San Diego wins this game outright so I’m not too worried. You may be able to hold off until game time to get a better line because people will be lining up to bet the Saints.
4* Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 (-109) – Pinnacle
Pinnacle has the only 3.5 on the board right now so I’d suggest betting this game as soon as possible. Pittsburgh isn’t a better team than Philadelphia so any line over 3 points is great value with the Eagles.
3* Buffalo Bills +11 (-120) – 5Dimes
This is why shopping for a line is so important. Every major sportsbook has the Bills as a 9.5-point underdog right now, but 5Dimes has this line way up at 11. Jump on that as soon as possible, or hope that some other sportsbook bumps it up to 10 by game time.
Here are the results of each individual selection I’ve made this season: