After going only 3-7-1 ATS in Week 7, I rebounded nicely with an 8-4 ATS performance in Week 8. I did whiff on my two mid-week picks though as both Arizona and Kansas City got annihilated. Regardless, I’m now up to an 18-12-1 ATS record with my recommended wagers this season for a very profitable +15.67 units.
I really like the board this week. I’m a little scared that I’m on the same side of a couple huge public plays, but for the most part, I haven’t swayed in any of my opinions this week. Hopefully I can duplicate my performance from last weekend.
Broncos @ Bengals: This is a tough game to start out with. I always try not to overreact to what I saw in the previous week so I don’t want to overvalue Denver after a destruction of a poor Saints team, but I think the Broncos are the right side. If you forget about the first quarter of the Broncos-Falcons matchup in Week 2, Peyton Manning has thrown for 17 touchdowns and only one interception. The Bengals will welcome cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick back from injury but Manning will still have plenty of opportunities to exploit weak defensive backs like Terrence Newman and Nate Clements. The Broncos shouldn’t have a problem rushing the ball either as the Bengals allow a poor 4.4 yards per carry, and weren’t able to contain Willis McGahee in last year’s matchup, allowing him to go off for 101 yards and a touchdown. Cincinnati will have to keep pace with Denver in this contest and they’re simply lacking the weapons to do so. A.J. Green is by far Cincinnati’s biggest offensive threat but he figures to get a steady dose of Champ Bailey all afternoon. The Broncos are fresh off of limiting Drew Brees to just 213 yards passing last week which is almost unheard of nowadays, so they should have no problems shutting down Andy Dalton. The Bengals offense has converted on only 28% of third down opportunities this season and they just don’t have what it takes to sustain long drives consistently. Cincinnati has totalled only 483 yards in their last two home contests against the Steelers and Dolphins, and with another good defense coming to town; I think you’ll see their struggles continue. Broncos 28, Bengals 16
Cardinals @ Packers: Here’s another game where it’s tough not to overreact to what I’ve seen recently. The Cardinals just aren’t the same team that won games against the Seahawks and Patriots to open the season. In their last four games, they’ve scored a combined 36 points, which is actually fewer points than Green Bay scored in a Week 6 matchup with the Houston Texans. The Cardinals defense has been keeping their final scores respectable, but their offense is absolutely atrocious. Arizona has by far the worst offensive line in football, surrendering a whopping 33 sacks in their last five contests, and that won’t bode well against a Green Bay defense that leads the NFL with 26 sacks. There’s a very strong chance that John Skelton doesn’t finish this game. What makes matters worse for the Cardinals is that they’re coming into this game on a short week after playing on Monday Night Football, so it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to fix their offensive line problems in only five days. It should be noted that the Cardinals offensive line has been equally as pathetic in run blocking and there’s realistically no chance that LaRod Stephens-Howling is going to pick up significant yardage on the ground. On the other side of the ball, there are a lot of similarities in that the Packers offensive line is the clear weak point of the team, while the Cardinals excel at getting to the quarterback. The big difference however is that the Packers have a Pro Bowl quarterback under center while the Cardinals have a future car salesman under center. Jacksonville was able to keep things relatively close against Green Bay last week and I think the Packers will use that as a wakeup call en route to a destruction of Arizona. Packers 26, Cardinals 7
Dolphins @ Colts: Miami is a team that is built for winning on the road. The Dolphins take the second fewest penalties in the league, possess a solid defense, and are able to control the clock on a consistent basis with a solid running game. The Colts have given up some massive rushing totals to opposing running backs this season and will have their hands full with the tough running duo of Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. Indianapolis suffered a number of significant injuries to their defense earlier this year and while they’re slowly getting healthier, they’ll still struggle to stop the run. Ryan Tannehill has been listed as questionable but it sounds like he’ll play which is good news for the Dolphins considering how inconsistent Matt Moore has been in the past. If the Colts are going to pull out this game they’ll need an incredible performance out of Andrew Luck, which could prove to be a major problem. Indianapolis has done a nice job of maintaining a good pass-run balance in their victories this season, but have been exceptionally poor when they’ve asked Luck to continuously drop back and throw the ball. The Colts won’t be able to run the ball against the Dolphins number one ranked rush defense so this is shaping up to be a pass-heavy game plan for the Colts. Miami excels in these types of situations because they boast arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL in Cameron Wake and are able to steadily generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Additionally, Luck’s favorite target down the field is Reggie Wayne but he’ll be in tough against Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith who has been able to erase every other top wideout he’s gone against this season. Despite being on the road, this looks like a favorable matchup for Miami. Dolphins 20, Colts 14
Ravens @ Browns: The Ravens head into this week in one of my favorite betting spots—coming off of a bye week after a blowout loss. Houston has had a couple of weeks to stew over their beatdown at the hands of the Texans and will do their best to dispel all the notions that they’re no longer a playoff calibre team. Baltimore has relied too heavily on the arm of Joe Flacco in the last few weeks and will likely get back to a game plan that features a steady dose of Ray Rice. The Browns give up 131.6 yards per game on the ground and have notoriously had difficulties slowing down Rice, who accounts for almost 30% of his team’s total offense. In Baltimore’s last two trips to Cleveland, the Ravens have accumulated a total of 451 rushing yards en route to winning by an average of 12 points. The Baltimore offense will be fine but it’s the defense that seems to have everyone concerned right now. The Ravens gave up a total of 610 yards on the ground in their last three games heading into the bye week and will have their hands full with Trent Richardson. Baltimore is an incredibly well-coached football team and you can be sure that head coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Dean Pees will devise a scheme to shut down Cleveland’s ground game. Richardson was only able to muster 3.4 yards per carry in Cleveland’s first meeting with Baltimore this season, and considering Ray Lewis was only an average run stopper, his presence won’t be missed too much this weekend. Realistically, Cleveland should have lost by at least five points at home to the Chargers last weekend if Robert Meachem hadn’t dropped a wide open pass that would have gone for a touchdown. Baltimore has won the last nine meetings with Cleveland and most of those games haven’t been close. I don’t expect this one to be close either. Ravens 24, Browns 10
Bills @ Texans: This one seems like a no-brainer—the Texans are one of the top rushing teams in the league and the Bills are terrible in run defense. If only betting on the NFL was that simple. Do you really think Buffalo is going to come out of their bye week and let Houston run all over them? Defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt will have made a number of adjustments to his team’s rush defense in the last two weeks and you can be sure that Arian Foster is going to see a ton of eight-man fronts and run blitzes this week. Andre Johnson has regressed and the Texans are really lacking any secondary targets, so if the Bills can keep the Texans running game in check, they have a legitimate chance to win this game. With the Bills concentrating on stopping the run, Matt Schaub will inevitably be able to hit some play action passes down the field against a Buffalo secondary that lacks consistency, but I’m not sure if Houston is comfortable taking those shots all game. The Bills offense is very similar to the Texans offense except for the fact that they have a shkeef at quarterback. Buffalo’s running game has been extremely effective this season and they figure to have two fully healthy, quality running backs coming off of their bye week. Houston has given up only 83 yards per contest on the ground but they haven’t faced an offensive line as physical as Buffalo’s in quite a while. Ultimately, the Texans are the more talented team here but talent doesn’t always win out. This is a huge game for Buffalo as they’re looking to keep pace in the AFC East while the Texans may be looking ahead to a big battle with the Bears next weekend. The Texans sleepwalk their way to a narrow victory. Texans 26, Bills 23
Panthers @ Redskins: With the exception of a blowout loss at the hands of the Giants, the Panthers have lost five games by a combined 18 points. Carolina could easily be above .500 right now if they caught a couple of breaks and we catch them here against an overvalued Redskins team. Washington has been one of the worst home teams in football over the past couple of seasons and all of the hype surrounding Robert Griffin III has hidden the fact that their defense is porous. I really like the fact that Carolina’s head coach Ron Rivera has finally decided to go with Jonathan Stewart as his number one running back. Stewart struggled last week in Chicago but should find plenty of running room against a Redskins run defense that has really fallen off as of late. Even if the Panthers are only able to generate some moderate success on the ground, they’ll have a ton of chances to beat the Redskins in the passing game as Washington surrenders a league-worst 314.2 passing yards per game. With all of the comparisons that have been drawn between both quarterbacks in this game, you can be sure that Cam Newton will be motivated to prove that he’s still the best up-and-comer in the league. I really like Carolina’s chances in this game because they’ve been much improved against the run in the last few weeks. The Panthers were awful in run defense to start the season but haven’t allowed any of their last three opponents to top the century mark in rushing yards, mainly due to the emergence of rookie middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Carolina has proven it can hang with the big boys this season by taking the Bears and Falcons right down to the wire. I think this is the week where they finally get the job done. Panthers 31, Redskins 28
Lions @ Jaguars: It appears as though the Lions may finally be turning the corner, while the Jaguars have lost their three home games by a combined total of 75 points. This one looks like easy money, right? I’m not so sure. As long as Jim Schwartz is coaching Detroit there will be no such thing as easy money. It’s become way too easy for opposing defenses to limit Calvin Johnson as opposing secondaries are dropping a safety deep down the field and rolling all of their coverage to Megatron’s side of the field. It’s become virtually impossible for Matthew Stafford to find his favorite target down the field, but that hasn’t stopped him from throwing errant passes in his direction. The Jaguars are fresh off of limiting Aaron Rodgers to 172 yards passing last week and it’s entirely conceivable that they could disrupt Stafford this week, especially with Stafford’s tendency to be a slow starter. Ultimately, Detroit is going to score some points because they’re just too good offensively to be shut down for an entire game, so Jacksonville is going to have to keep pace. Blaine Gabbert is a horrible quarterback but he showed signs of progression last week against Green Bay. Gabbert notoriously struggles against strong pass rushing teams but he was able to stand in the pocket and make some solid, accurate throws last week. Nearly the entire Lions secondary is listed on the team’s injury report this week so Gabbert should be able to exploit some mismatches down the field. Detroit has three huge games on deck against the Vikings, Packers, and Texans, and knowing Jim Schwartz’s track record of having his team ready for lousy opponents, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jags pull off the “shocker” here. Jaguars 23, Lions 22
Bears @ Titans: Chicago is in a terrible spot here. Usually I love betting against teams after emotional wins, but add in the fact that the Bears have back-to-back games against the Texans and 49ers on deck, and you have the recipe for a huge letdown. Jay Cutler looks like he’s reverted back to the Cutler of old that likes to pound back a bottle of Jack Daniels prior to each game. He may still be suffering the ill effects of being dismantled by Ndamokung Suh a couple of weeks ago, or he just may be the steaming pile of garbage that I always thought that he was. Cutler has thrown for a total of 256 yards in his past two starts, and to make matters worse, his offensive line has completely deteriorated in the face of pressure in the past couple of weeks. Tennessee doesn’t particularly excel at getting to the quarterback but the Bears offensive line looks like it’s susceptible to even the worst of pass rushes right now. Cutler will undoubtedly take a bunch of sacks in this game and will probably gift the Titans with some great field position on a couple of occasions. That’s really the only way that Tennessee is going to be capable of putting up points here. Chris Johnson looks like he’s getting back on track but he’s not as elusive as he once was and the Bears don’t miss tackles, so I don’t expect the Titans to move the ball consistently on the ground. Matt Hasselbeck will face a lot of third-and-longs and just doesn’t have the arm strength to beat the Bears secondary in the majority of those situations. Sadly, the Titans are still in the thick of things in the AFC Wild Card race and a loss here would effectively end their season. Teams tend to follow up home overtime losses with inspired efforts and I think the Titans might be able to catch Chicago in a big flat spot here. Titans 19, Bears 17
Vikings @ Seahawks: I wish the Vikings hadn’t gotten blown out last Thursday night because I would have loved grabbing the Seahawks as a 3-point home favorite here. Instead, the line is up to 4.5 in most spots, and while I still like Seattle, I’ve lost all line value with the home team. Christian Ponder has been epically bad in his last two outings. In fact, the Vikings offense as a whole hasn’t been all that efficient in the last month as they’ve turned the ball over 10 times in just four games. Seattle has one of the best defenses in the league and I just don’t see this as a good opportunity for Ponder and company to get back on track. Minnesota’s two biggest weapons are Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, and both have a nightmare matchup in this game. The Seahawks give up only 84.9 yards per game on the ground, and if you remove their Week 7 matchup with San Francisco from the equation, they give up an average of only 72 yards. Peterson is going to have a tough time overpowering the Seahawks’ strong defensive front. As for Harvin, he excels in the short passing game but will be going up against two of the best press cover cornerbacks in the league in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Ponder has yet to attempt a pass more than 30 yards down the field this season so I think there’s a great chance that the Seahawks will be able to keep the Vikings dink-and-dunk passing game in check. Offensively, Seattle should be able to move the ball pretty effectively. Minnesota struggled to keep a mobile quarterback in Josh Freeman in check last week, so they’ll likely struggle against Russell Wilson here as well. Wilson has been exceptional at home this season, compiling a quarterback rating of 116.9 and throwing for six touchdowns and no interceptions. This game smells like a rout. I think I just talked myself into wagering on the Seahawks this week. Seahawks 27, Vikings 9
Buccaneers @ Raiders: A big win over the Vikings has everyone back on the Bucs bandwagon. Well, not me. Oakland has become a pass-first offense and goes up against a Bucs defense with a horrible secondary and a non-existent pass rush. Carson Palmer has developed a strong chemistry with Denarius Moore and with Aqib Talib not around to cover him, Moore should have another strong outing. Oakland’s defense has been the whipping boy of the NFL for years, but they’ve quietly gotten better over the last few weeks. Tampa Bay is going to feel the loss Carl Nicks and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t win another game this season—he’s that important. Tampa’s offense runs through Doug Martin and with Davin Joseph already absent on the right side, Martin will spend more time on the ground than running away from defenders. This is a team that hadn’t won a road game in forever before Minnesota handed them the game on Thursday night. They had some extra rest but they have to travel to the West Coast which is never easy. Vincent Jackson has probably had some big games against the Raiders dating back to his days in San Diego, but to be honest, I don’t even care to look because with Josh Freeman throwing him the ball, this won’t be one of those games. If the Raiders can stay out of their own way, they’ll win this game with ease. While Raider defenders running into one another makes for good video, this game won’t. Unless you put some money down on this game, do all you can to avoid watching it. Raiders 20, Buccaneers 10
Steelers @ Giants: A strong defensive showing by the Giants last week hid how poorly their offense performed against the Cowboys. At one point last week the Giants had only four first downs but led by 23 points. Eli Manning appeared poised for a big season, but his numbers have actually tailed off slightly from last season. The team hasn’t called on Manning to provide the type of fourth quarter heroics that he did last season which is part of the reason for his declining statistics, and the absence of Hakeem Nicks hasn’t helped either. Whatever the reason, the team has compiled a 6-2 record and appear to be in a good situation to pick up win number seven at home against the Steelers. Pittsburgh is going to have to travel to and from the game on Sunday which means fatigue could be a factor, although the late start time should temper that some. This would have a much greater impact if the game were at 1:00 PM. I’ll still chalk it up as another reason to like the Giants on Sunday. Pittsburgh’s 1-3 on the road this season and the continued absence of Troy Polamalu doesn’t bode well for their chances at stopping the Giants. Offensively, the Steelers have leaned heavily on Heath Miller and will have a favourable matchup against the Giants who have given up the third-most yards to opposing tight ends on the season. Pittsburgh should be able to get some points, but the Giants will get stops when they need them. Without Polamalu, I think the Giants are going to score at will and Eli Manning will get back on track. Also, Ahmad Bradshaw has been running with a chip on his shoulder the last few weeks and I think he eases some of his pain with a big game here. Giants 38, Steelers 21
Cowboys @ Falcons: Everything on the surface points to an Atlanta victory here, especially with the game being played in Atlanta, but this is just the kind of game that the Cowboys usually win. As badly as I wanted to take a crowbar to Tony Romo’s knees in the first half of last week’s game, he showed in the second half why he is a Pro Bowl-caliber NFL quarterback. If Dez Bryant makes that catch in the back of the endzone, no one would be questioning Tony Romo and the Cowboys right now, and that leads to some value in backing the Cowboys here. Dallas will again be without DeMarco Murray for this contest, but Felix Jones has done just enough over the last two weeks to keep this offense rolling. Defensively, the Cowboys re-built their secondary in the offseason with the intention of building a unit that could stop the Giants. As I mentioned earlier, the defense had plenty of success in slowing the Giants last week. The Falcons present a similar test as they rely heavily on their big two receiving threats. With Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne lining up opposite Julio Jones and Roddy White all game, the Cowboys should be able to limit what Atlanta is able to do offensively. While there is always the possibility of seeing this, or this, or this when Tony Romo lines up under center, the man is 19-2 in the month of November, and when I said that this is the type of game that Dallas usually wins, I meant it: the Cowboys are 3-0 in their last three meetings with teams 7-0 or better. The Cowboys built themselves to beat the Giants in the offseason and that happens to match them up well with the Falcons. I think they pull off the upset. Cowboys 23, Falcons 20
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 Broncos over the Saints, and for the first time in a while I didn’t have to sweat out the pick at any point in the game. That probably won’t be the case again in the near future.
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 have already used Houston and Green Bay at this point, so there are a lot of options available for this week:
Denver at Cincinnati
Green Bay vs. Arizona
Baltimore at Cleveland
Houston vs. Buffalo
Washington vs. Carolina
Detroit at Jacksonville
Chicago at Tennessee
Seattle vs. Minnesota
Atlanta vs. Dallas
New Orleans vs. Philadelphia
Like most others, I’ve already taken the Texans and Packers so they’re not available to me this week. I think Green Bay is relatively safe but I don’t want to touch Houston with this being an obvious look ahead spot for them.
I’ll also quickly wipe off a bunch of road teams. I feel pretty confident in Denver and Baltimore winning on the road and definitely considered them, but ultimately I think there’s a better home option. I wouldn’t go anywhere near the Lions or Bears.
The home options are Washington, Seattle, Atlanta, and New Orleans. One of those options stands out from the rest so I’m going to go with the Seahawks over the Vikings. I probably won’t have a chance to use Seattle again this season and they’re a pretty dominant home team. I think the Seahawks win this game approximately 70% of the time and that’s safe enough for me at this point in the season.
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 – W 41-27
Week 6 – Atlanta Falcons – W 23-20
Week 7 – Oakland Raiders – W 26-23 (OT)
Week 8 – Denver Broncos – W 34-14
Week 9 – Seattle Seahawks –
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.
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.
Another week goes by without a 6* play. I like five games this week and would have considered both of my 5* plays as 6* plays if I could have gotten a more advantageous line. Oh well, maybe next week.
5* Dallas Cowboys +4 (-110) – SportsInteraction
This line seems to be dropping at most sportsbooks right now, so bet it as soon as you can. This would have been a 6* play if I could find the Cowboys at 4.5. I’m pretty confident that they’re going to win outright.
5* Baltimore Ravens -3.5 (-110) – 5Dimes
There’s a lot of action on Baltimore so this line is probably going to hit 4. I would bet this one as soon as possible as well. Barring a significant injury to someone on Baltimore, this line isn’t dropping to 3.
4* Seattle Seahawks -4 (-105) – Pinnacle
I’m comfortable laying four points here so I’ve bet this already. It could go down to 3.5 but it looks like more people are betting Seattle right now, so I think this is more likely to hit 4.5.
4* Buffalo Bills +10.5 (-115) – SportsInteraction
It looks like the sharps are grabbing the points with Buffalo so this line will likely get down to 10. Grab Buffalo as soon as you can.
3* New York Giants -3 (-113) – Pinnacle
This line isn’t going any lower than three points so you should probably bet this one now as well. Depending on your sportsbook, you may see a 3.5 so be sure to do some line shopping to get the best line here.
Here are the results from all off my wagers this season: