Overall, Week 7 was a pretty terrible week for me. I went just 3-7-1 ATS on Sunday, but there’s a reason that I don’t bet on every game every week. I went 2-1 with my recommended wagers and managed to turn a profit despite having a dreadful overall record.
For the most part, I’m an anti-public bettor, and this happened to be one of the few weeks in the season where the sportsbooks got destroyed by the public. Indianapolis, Green Bay, Dallas, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh were all huge public plays and they all covered. The only big public play that didn’t cover was Oakland against Jacksonville, and I happened to be on the wrong side in that game as well. A number of outcomes certainly could have gone a little differently, but as a colleague of mine used to see, it is what it is.
Anyways, without further ado, here were my thoughts from Week 7.
Titans @ Bills
Closing Odds: Bills -4.5, total 46.5
Predicted Outcome: Titans 27, Bills 24
Actual Outcome: Titans 35, Bills 34
I can’t really say that either team was deserved to win this game. Chris Johnson finally had a dominating performance as he rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns on only 18 carries, but the Titans’ defense was so pathetic that it didn’t even matter. Tennessee’s stop unit allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to torch them for three touchdowns until he finally made the bonehead throw that was inevitably coming. I now see why Bills’ fans hate him so much. Fitzpatrick will get most of the blame for the loss, but in the end, it was Buffalo’s defense that cost them the game, allowing Tennessee to convert on 4th-and-goal from the nine-yard line to win the game. The Bills are lucky to be on their bye next week because they have to do something to fix their defense. As for the Titans, they could somehow get to the .500 mark next week if they can beat the Colts at home, but I’m guessing they’ll find a way to blow it.
Cardinals @ Vikings
Closing Odds: Vikings -7, total 39
Predicted Outcome: Cardinals 20, Vikings 16
Actual Outcome: Vikings 21, Cardinals 14
The Cardinals were truly pathetic this week. Minnesota did everything possible to try to lose this game and they still managed to win by a touchdown. Christian Ponder threw for 58 total yards and gifted the Cardinals’ offense with two horrible interceptions, but the Cards weren’t able to do anything with their great field position. Part of the blame falls on John Skelton, who was horribly inaccurate, but the rest of the blame falls on the Cardinals’ offensive line that surrendered a whopping seven sacks. That total would have been much larger if LaRod Stephens-Howling hadn’t delivered a solid 104-yard performance. Arizona plays San Francisco on Monday Night Football next week, and it’s hard to imagine them moving the ball against the 49ers’ defense. It’s very likely that their 4-0 start turns into a 4-4 start. Meanwhile, the Vikings continue to win games with smoke and mirrors, and will have a solid chance of improving to 6-2 on Thursday Night Football against the Bucs this week.
Browns @ Colts
Closing Odds: Colts -1, total 46.5
Predicted Outcome: Browns 24, Colts 23
Actual Outcome: Colts 17, Browns 13
The outcome of this game literally came down to one play. Brandon Weeden hit Josh Gordon with a perfect strike down the middle of the field what should have been a 55-yard touchdown, but Gordon forgot to catch the ball. Whoever decided that it was a good idea to open the roof at Lucas Oil Stadium deserves a huge raise because it looked like Gordon completely lost the ball in the sunlight. I was considering betting on the Browns earlier this week, but ultimately I decided against it. I would have lost my mind. Cleveland actually didn’t play a poor game, but because they botched an extra point in the first quarter, they were seeking a touchdown in the fourth quarter instead of a field goal. That made things so much more difficult for them. Add in the fact that Trent Richardson re-aggravated his injury and couldn’t muster anything against the Colts’ terrible run defense, and what you have is another classic Browns loss. Cleveland really isn’t as bad as I thought they’d be this season as they’ve remained competitive in every single game. As for Indianapolis, they’ve rotated wins and losses, so they’ll look to buck that trend against the Titans, who are likely to be flat coming off of their late game heroics.
Ravens @ Texans
Closing Odds: Texans -6.5, total 47
Predicted Outcome: Texans 17, Ravens 13
Actual Outcome: Texans 43, Ravens 13
It’s games like these that make me lose sleep. In my Monday recap last week, I wrote about how the Ravens are doomed without LarDarius Webb, especially since the Texans are coming off of a blowout loss. So what changed in a week’s time that made me pick the Ravens to keep it close? Well, it seemed like everyone in the media was down on Baltimore, with Tom Jackson even going so far as to predict that they’d miss the playoffs this season. I just figured that this would be great bulletin board material for John Harbaugh’s squad, especially with an inspired Terrell Suggs returning from injury, and especially since I would be getting the Ravens as a full touchdown underdog (which never happens). Obviously I was wrong and I should have stuck to my gut instinct. The Ravens are as bad as advertised right now, particularly because they refuse to use their best player, Ray Rice, effectively. Cam Cameron is hands down one of the worst—if not the worst—offensive coordinators in football. If Norv Turner is ever looking to replace Hal Hunter as the OC in San Diego, Cameron would be a great fit. As for the Texans, this should have been expected. They’re the most complete team in the league and will continue to dominate inferior opponents as the year goes on.
Packers @ Rams
Closing Odds: Packers -5, total 45
Predicted Outcome: Packers 23, Rams 20
Actual Outcome: Packers 30, Rams 20
This game was actually a lot closer than the score indicates. The Rams were able to match the Packers in yardage from start to finish, but in the end, Aaron Rodgers was leading his team to touchdowns while Sam Bradford had his offense settling for field goals. Rodgers has been lights out in the last couple of weeks and it looks like he’s finally returned to his 2011 form. The Rams boast a very strong pass rush and a great secondary, but Rodgers had no issue carving them up on Sunday afternoon. Green Bay is a double-digit favorite at home to the Jaguars next weekend and shouldn’t have any problems improving to 5-3 on the season, with or without Greg Jennings in the lineup. As for the Rams, the wheels may start to fall off as they play the Patriots and 49ers in the next two weeks. I don’t know who Jeff Fisher pissed off in the NFL front office, but it’s clear that the NFL schedule makers gave him the huge shaft.
Cowboys @ Panthers
Closing Odds: Cowboys -2.5, total 45
Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 28, Panthers 17
Actual Outcome: Cowboys 19, Panthers 14
If you like watching mistake-free football, this wasn’t the game for you. Tony Romo was actually pretty reliable in this contest but he wasn’t getting any help from the rest of his offense. Miles Austin has re-acquired fumbleitis, Dez Bryant still can’t catch a pass if he’s in the end zone, and the offensive line feels the need to commit at least one false start penalty per drive. Against a good team, Dallas may have been blown out on Sunday, but the Panthers are far from a good team. Cam Newton is in orbit right now. He really has no clue what he’s doing out on the field and the Panthers’ front office isn’t really helping him out with the personnel that they’ve surrounded him with. Carolina couldn’t get anything going offensively until Cowboys’ stud linebacker Sean Lee left the game with a foot injury, and even then the Panthers still had trouble moving the ball. Carolina’s season is officially over, and at this point the best case scenario for them is a top five pick in the NFL Draft. As for Dallas, this is a game that they would have typically lost in years past, so it’s hard to shit on them for pulling out a road win. We’ll see if they’re really for real when they look to beat the Giants again next week.
Redskins @ Giants
Closing Odds: Giants -6.5, total 51.5
Predicted Outcome: Redskins 31, Giants 20
Actual Outcome: Giants 27, Redskins 23
This was one hell of a game. The Redskins probably should have won handily, but their four turnovers allowed the Giants to hang around. Robert Griffin III played a solid game, but it looks like he’s been watching a little too much Michael Vick footage as he’s starting to become too nonchalant with the ball. If RGIII was a little more seasoned, the Redskins would have been able to pull out the win. Instead, the more seasoned Eli Manning tossed an inexplicable 77-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz to win the game and cement the Giants as the best team in the NFC in the general public’s mind. I’m not going to spend too much more time on this game because it basically went down as I expected. The Giants were sleeping for the first half after disposing of the 49ers last week, and nearly laid a complete egg at home in classic New York Giants style. What I really want to focus on is why Ahmad Bradshaw and Tom Coughlin were freaking out on each other on the sidelines. Bradshaw looked like a man possessed. My best guess is that Coughlin told Bradshaw that Halloween’s not for another week and he can quit doing his best Reuben Droughns impression. I would have given up half of my salary to see Bradshaw stomp a hole in Coughlin’s head. Oh well.
Saints @ Buccaneers
Closing Odds: Saints -1.5, total 49.5
Predicted Outcome: Buccaneers 24, Saints 21
Actual Outcome: Saints 35, Buccaneers 28
Before I even watched a second of this game, the Bucs were up 21-7 and I was berating my friends for having bet on the Saints this week. But then the Bucs did what they do best and shat themselves on home turf. In all honesty, there was a point in the game where I started cheering for New Orleans just because I wanted to see Greg Schiano have a mental breakdown on the sidelines. I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard watching a football game in a very long time, if ever. Whether it was LeGarrette Blount getting repeatedly stuffed at the goal line, or Vincent Jackson being crowned the slowest receiver in the NFL history, or the Bucs wearing the worst jerseys of all-time, everything seemed to be extremely comical. My only explanation for this shitshow is that karma is finally starting to catch up to Schiano. It can’t be that New Orleans played a good game because they allowed Josh Freeman to throw for over 400 yards, which prior to this week would have been considered impossible. The Saints will be an underdog in Denver next weekend and once again their offense will have to carry them because they have no hope in hell of stopping Peyton Manning. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay should lose in Minnesota on Thursday night but they strangely play better on the road than at home, so maybe it’ll be closer than I think.
Jets @ Patriots
Closing Odds: Patriots -11, total 48
Predicted Outcome: Patriots 52, Jets 13
Actual Outcome: Patriots 29, Jets 26 (OT)
Well, I was way off on this one. I loved the Patriots this week, but they just didn’t play well. To put things into perspective, New England was awful for the first three quarters and still managed to hold a double-digit lead over the Jets going into the fourth. This is the second week in a row where the Patriots completely collapsed late in the game, but they were lucky to pull out the victory this time around. In the past, the Patriots would always respond to adversity with a solid performance, but this doesn’t look like the same Patriots team from years past. As for the Jets, I have severely underrated them in the last couple of weeks and they’ve made me pay twice now. Their defense didn’t allow anything down the field and forced Tom Brady into throwing a bunch of slip screens and checkdown passes that didn’t generate many first downs. Even Brady’s first touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski needed a world class catch from Gronk to put the points on the board. What really shocked me in this game is how well Mark Sanchez played. Sanchez threw a couple of his patented ducks here and there, but for the most part he was able to consistently generate first downs. I doubt it’ll happen again next week against a solid Miami defense, but maybe I’ll be wrong again.
Jaguars @ Raiders
Closing Odds: Raiders -6, total 44.5
Predicted Outcome: Raiders 27, Jaguars 16
Actual Outcome: Raiders 26, Jaguars 23 (OT)
Just when I thought I’ve seen it all, a game like this comes along. The NFL should launch a full investigation into Mike Mularkey because I’m convinced that he bet on the Raiders money line in this game. Mularkey went for it on fourth down at midfield with a two touchdown lead, decided that he was going to ask his backup quarterback to keep throwing the ball with that same lead, and then starting burning timeouts late in the fourth quarter that set up a potential Sebastien Janikowski game winning field goal. Janikowski missed the field goal and Mularkey looked like he was depressed on the sidelines. Even with Mularkey helping the Raiders win the game, Oakland still could barely get the job done. If Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert didn’t leave the game with injuries, the Raiders probably would have gotten blown out. That’s truly pathetic when you consider just how bad Gabbert is. I can’t write about either of these teams anymore—it’s just too painful.
Steelers @ Bengals
Closing Odds: Steelers -1, total 47
Predicted Outcome: Bengals 30, Steelers 23
Actual Outcome: Steelers 24, Bengals 17
This was one of those games where I wish I had a do-over. I got too caught up in the fact that this was the Bengals’ Super Bowl and didn’t bother to look at the fact that Cincinnati is pathetic. The Steelers probably played their worst half of football of the season in the first half on Sunday night and still managed to end up tied 14-14 at the intermission. It was at that point that I knew that the Bengals stood no chance whatsoever. Andy Dalton is useless. I just don’t understand what people see in him. Aside from the fact that he’s terribly inaccurate, he basically refused to throw the ball anywhere near A.J. Green yesterday. Note to self: Do not pick the Bengals to beat a playoff caliber team at any point this season. As for the Steelers, they’re probably the favorite to win the AFC North now that the Ravens have completely fallen apart. Pittsburgh has a winnable home game against the Redskins next week but will have to avoid the inevitable letdown spot. It would be nice to get some bodies back in the lineup as well considering they played this game with a bunch of second stringers at almost every position.
All in all, Week 7 was a poor week from an overall standpoint but I luckily cashed in on two of my three bets. Hopefully I can redeem myself with the Monday Nighter.
Monday Night Football pick
The Chicago Bears host the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football this week. The Bears are 4-1 and coming off their bye, while the Lions are fresh off a comeback win over the Eagles.
The narrative out there is that Detroit’s offense is broken. Matthew Stafford has apparently regressed considerably, and the team doesn’t have a running game. You shouldn’t believe that to be the case. The Lions average an NFC-leading 419.6 yards of offense per game. Their offense has stalled in the red zone, but expect them to break that trend sooner or later. The Bears famously employ the cover-2, and rarely get out of their base defense. They tallied an NFL-record five interception-return touchdowns in their first five games. The Lions have seen plenty of cover-2 so far this year and Matt Stafford knows to dink-and-dunk and limit Chicago’s chances of making a big play.
Chicago’s success has come largely from their ability to pick up defensive scores and build up their lead with the ground game, limiting Jay Cutler to the role of game manager. In their win over Detroit last season, Cutler threw the ball only 19 times. In their loss to Detroit, Cutler threw the ball 38 times. Detroit’s defense is among the top 10 in the league against the run, allowing only 3.7 yards per carry. When the ball is in Cutler’s hands, expect Detroit’s ferocious front four to get to him and force turnovers. Detroit wants to get their “bad guy swagger” back, and they’ll get a chance to do it on the Monday night stage. This game comes down to the wire. Bears 27, Lions 24
Week 8 Early Lines
Last but not least, the early lines for Week 8 have been posted. Here are my thoughts:
Buccaneers @ Vikings -6.5 – This will probably be close to 50/50 action. Minnesota has actually fared well in the favorite roll this season, but people will still have a tough time laying points with them.
Patriots @ Rams +6.5 – New England’s stock is extremely low but I still see them getting the majority of the action here. This line is a little bit inflated considering the Packers were only 5-point faves in St. Louis this week.
Colts @ Titans -3.5 – The Titans will get a little more action here but it won’t be a landslide. Tennessee has won two straight games but it could have easily been two straight losses, so I’m not sure I’d be comfortable betting on them when they’re laying points.
Jaguars @ Packers -13 – The Jaguars will probably be the least attractive double-digit underdog of all-time. I’ll be surprised if I can find one person who wants to make a solid case for Jacksonville here.
Chargers @ Browns +3 – This is the first trap alert of the week. People will be lining up to bet on the Chargers, but the Browns have been competitive all season. I’m not sure how San Diego will react to their epic Monday Night Football collapse.
Falcons @ Eagles -2.5 – The Falcons are still undefeated so most people will love getting them as an underdog in this game. The Eagles are capable of playing great or laying an egg, so it’s tough to gauge them right now.
Dolphins @ Jets -2.5 – Here comes another big trap. The Jets beat the Dolphins in Miami so how are they only favored by 2.5 at home to the Dolphins? Well, Miami is better than New York and they’re coming off of a bye.
Redskins @ Steelers -4.5 – The Steelers are a public team so they’ll probably get most of the action here but it’s hard to pass up RGIII when he’s getting points. Could be a good upset spot.
Raiders @ Chiefs -1.5 – Both teams are garbage so it’s hard to imagine any lopsided action in this game. The Chiefs are coming off the bye so they’ll probably get a few more bets.
Giants @ Cowboys -1 - The Giants may be the most heavily bet team this week. The defending Super Bowl champions as an underdog will be too hard to resist for most bettors. They did get owned by Dallas in Week 1 though.
Saints @ Broncos -6.5 – New Orleans will be a publicly backed underdog here. Again, people don’t realize that the Saints literally can’t stop anything and will hope that they can put up enough points to keep it close with Peyton Manning.
49ers @ Cardinals +6.5 – The Cardinals stock is extremely low right now and even though they have a great home field advantage, it will be tough to be them. Most people will be backing the 49ers off of extra rest.