Week 7 betting preview

brady postgame2

Week 7 of the NFL is here and I’ll be breaking down all of Sunday’s games from a betting perspective. Last week was a pretty average week. I went 3-2 against the spread on The Nickel Package but added three picks to my Recommended Wagers, and finished 4-4 against the spread for the week. I’ll try to be a little bit more selective this week even though I have a strong opinion on most of the games.

Before I get into the write-ups for this week, I’ll let you know that I am not locking in any of my plays as of this writing. I’m on a lot of ugly underdogs this week so I’m going to wait until game time on Sunday to get the best possible lines. I will grade my wagers this week based on the lines that I post in my Sunday morning betting update.

The Nickel Package Record: 17-11-2 ATS (60%)

As always, you can check out The Nickel Package podcast, which includes my top five plays in order of confidence for the week. Each week, Joe Fortenbaugh from the National Football Post joins me to analyze those picks and provide additional insight to the games I’ve selected. You can listen or download the MP3 file here.

Recommended Wagers Record: 22-18-2 ATS (55%)


New England Patriots @ New York Jets

Friday Line: Patriots -3.5, total of 43.5

Public Consensus: 74% on the Patriots, 74% on the over

The Pick: The Patriots are going to be a pretty trendy pick this weekend after their come-from-behind victory over the Saints last week, but this isn’t a good matchup for them. For starters, New England will be missing a ton of key players on both sides of the ball. Danny Amendola’s absence will be negated by Rob Gronkowski’s return to the lineup but aside from Gronk, Tom Brady will be stuck with the same group of unreliable receivers that he had when the Patriots barely scraped by the Jets in Week 2. New England won’t have the luxury of relying on their running game either; the Jets lead the league in rush defense, surrendering just 3.0 yards per carry. The Patriots only managed 13 points against the Jets in their earlier meeting this season and all signs points to a similar strong defensive showing from New York this week. Meanwhile, the Patriots have also been decimated on the defensive side of the ball. They’ll be without Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Aqib Talib for this contest—their best player on their defensive line, their best linebacker, and their best cover corner. Geno Smith was awful in Week 2 against New England, but that game was on the road on national television; a spot where most rookie quarterbacks tend to struggle. The Patriots have given up 4.5 yards per carry without Wilfork in the lineup so Smith should be able to rely heavily on Bilal Powell to move the chains on the ground.

In the end, there’s been a huge overreaction to last week’s contests. New England isn’t nearly as good as they looked against New Orleans and New York isn’t nearly as bad as they looked against Pittsburgh. The Jets already showed that they can hang around with the Patriots, and this time they’ll pull off the upset. Jets 20, Patriots 17

The Wager: This is my favorite play of the week. The Jets’ loss to the Steelers last week—a game where Pittsburgh was coming off of a bye and essentially playing for their season—has created some great line value. The Patriots have just one win by more than a touchdown this season. Jets +3.5

The Trend: The Patriots are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games against AFC East opponents.


San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Friday Line: Chargers -7.5, total of 45.5

Public Consensus: 52% on the Chargers, 91% on the over

The Pick: On paper, this would seem like one of the biggest mismatches of the week but I actually like Jacksonville to hang around this weekend. You can look at the X’s and O’s and they all favor the Chargers, but you can’t forget that this is a west coast team playing out east on a short week. San Diego has notoriously been a poor road team and you only have to go back two weeks for evidence of that fact, as the Chargers lost by ten points to the lowly Raiders in Oakland. San Diego is going to score their points—that’s a given—but in typical Chargers fashion, a thing or two will go wrong along the way. The real question here is whether or not the Jaguars can score enough points to keep pace. The return of Justin Blackmon to the Jags’ receiving corps has paid immediate dividends in the last couple of weeks, as Jacksonville has actually looked like they have some semblance of an offense. The Chargers have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, surrendering 8.3 yards per attempt, so there’s definitely an opportunity for Chad Henne to move the ball through the air here. San Diego also doesn’t have much of a pass rush as they’ve been limited to 14 sacks in their six games this season. I know what you’re thinking; the Chargers just held Andrew Luck and the Colts to a measly nine points… there’s no way the Jaguars can score here! Well, that game was at home and Indianapolis didn’t do themselves any favors by dropping passes all game long.

It’s not easy to win by more than a touchdown on the road in the NFL, even against the lowliest of teams. Although they’ve yet to keep a game within single-digits, the Jaguars have shown steady improvement in recent weeks. It’ll be easy for the Chargers to overlook them, especially coming off of a big win on Monday Night Football. Chargers 26, Jaguars 24

The Wager: You’d think I would have learned my lesson after I took the Jaguars +7.5 in their 37-3 Week 4 blowout loss to the Colts, but obviously I haven’t. I just think this is too many points for the Chargers in what appears to be a horrible spot. I’ll go back to the well with Jacksonville one more time. Jaguars +7.5

The Trend: The Chargers are 0-6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a win.


Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs

Friday Line: Chiefs -6.5, total of 39.5

Public Consensus: 76% on the Chiefs, 51% on the under

The Pick: The Chiefs are an impressive 6-0 to start the season, but their quality of competition has been far from impressive. Aside from playing a decent Titans’ defense this season, Kansas City has gone up against Jacksonville, Dallas, Philadelphia, Oakland, and the New York Giants; five of the league’s worst defenses. The Chiefs have been very efficient offensively but they don’t pose much of a threat down the field because Alex Smith is incapable of throwing the ball more than 20 yards. Say what you will about the Texans, but they have talented personnel on defense and this week they’ll be afforded the luxury of playing a lot closer to the line of scrimmage. Smith’s dink-and-dunk style won’t be nearly as effective with the Texans’ defenders not having to respect the downfield pass. Houston surrenders the least yardage per game in the league; better than the likes of the Seahawks, Jets, Panthers, and even these Chiefs. The Texans have been burned this year by constant mistakes on the offensive side of the ball that have either led to points or to unfavorable situations for the defense. Well, Matt Schaub is sidelined this week which means that the chances of a pick six are reduced from 100% to a number much more reasonable. Case Keenum gets the nod at quarterback for the Texans and while Keenum has never seen any NFL action, this isn’t necessarily a huge problem. The Chiefs don’t have much in terms of a scouting report on Keenum heading into this week, and we often see opposing defenses struggle against a young quarterback—see Thad Lewis vs. Cincinnati last week.

In the end, this won’t be a walk in the park for Kansas City. Houston has been embarrassed in back-to-back games and they’ll put in a spirited effort to avoid the same situation this week. If the Chiefs aren’t careful, this could result in their first loss of the season. Texans 19, Chiefs 16

The Wager: It was only three weeks ago that the Texans nearly upset the Seahawks. This is a very capable football team that isn’t much different than the team that won a playoff game a year ago. I’ll go with the old stock market mentality; buy low on the Texans, sell high on the Chiefs. Texans +6.5

The Trend: The Chiefs are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game.


Cincinnati Bengals @ Detroit Lions

Friday Line: Lions -2.5, total of 46.5

Public Consensus: 60% on the Bengals, 69% on the over

The Pick: This year’s edition of the Detroit Lions looks like a far cry from the Lions’ teams that would choke away games in the past. Detroit pulled off a road win in Cleveland last week despite only having Calvin Johnson on the field for about half of their offensive snaps. Johnson has been practicing this week which means he’ll be much closer to one hundred percent this weekend. The Bengals’ top three cornerbacks—Leon Hall, Terence Newman, and Adam Jones—are all 5’11 in height, which will be a huge issue against 6’5 Megatron. Cincinnati also hasn’t been particularly good in run defense this season so Reggie Bush will have the opportunity to have a big game on the ground. Detroit has scored an average of 37 points in their home games this season and should be able to exploit some mismatches against the Bengals’ defense. Unfortunately for the Lions, their defense isn’t likely to force many stops against the Bengals either. Cincinnati loves to run the ball to establish the pass, and that shouldn’t be too difficult against a Lions’ run defense that surrenders a ridiculous 5.4 yards per carry. Detroit’s pass defense isn’t much better either as their pass rush has basically been non-existent this season while their secondary is comprised of a bunch of scrubs. Similarly to Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green shouldn’t face too much resistance down the field.

In the end, I could make a solid case for both teams here. There a couple of big factors that sway my decision though. The first is that I trust Matthew Stafford a hell of a lot more than Andy Dalton, who has turned the ball over 11 times in his last six road starts. The second is that the Bengals have failed to impress me away from home this season, losing to the Bears and Browns, and narrowly beating Thad Lewis and the Bills last week. Lions 27, Bengals 23

The Wager: I think this line is pretty accurate. I do think the Lions have a small edge but their defense is so bad that I just don’t trust them laying points against decent opposing offenses. The Bengals have also fared pretty well in the underdog role in recent years. Pass

The Trend: The Bengals are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 games against a team with a winning record.


Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

Friday Line: Dolphins -7.5, total of 42.5

Public Consensus: 62% on the Bills, 63% on the over

The Pick: This game reminds me a lot of Chiefs-Raiders from last week. I want to make a case for the Bills because this point spread just looks too high, but ultimately, this looks like it could be a runaway for the Dolphins. Thad Lewis is set to get a second straight start for the Bills and while he performed admirably against the Bengals last week, things will get a lot tougher for the young quarterback on the road. Miami isn’t the most raucous environment in the league, but this is a division game and the Dolphins haven’t played in two weeks, so I’d expect the crowd to be somewhat disruptive here. Lewis will try to lean heavily on his running backs to put him in manageable situations all afternoon, but the Dolphins are pretty good at stopping the run and will have had two weeks to prepare for this ground attack. While I have faith in the Dolphins defensively, the same can’t be said for their offense. Miami’s offensive line is a huge liability as they’ve surrendered a whopping 24 sacks through just five games. The bye week will have helped Miami get some of their issues sorted out, but they still won’t be able to completely stop the Bills’ solid pass rush. The Dolphins should be able to exploit the Bills’ secondary though. Ryan Tannehill has been relatively good this season when you consider that he’s been under duress on almost every dropback, and he should be able to put up points against a Buffalo pass defense that’s given up 12 passing touchdowns this season.

Normally I’d lean heavily towards the underdog in divisional matchups like this but the Bills don’t inspire any confidence on the road. They’ve already lost to the Jets and Browns by at least a touchdown and now they face a solid Dolphins’ team that’s had two weeks to prepare. Dolphins 27, Bills 17

The Wager: After the Bills took the Bengals down to the wire last week I circled the Dolphins as a play here, but this line is way too big for my liking. I was hoping to get Miami at under a touchdown coming off their bye but the oddsmakers haven’t done me any favors. Pass

The Trend: The Bills are 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 games following an ATS win.


Chicago Bears @ Washington Redskins

Friday Line: Redskins pk, total of 50

Public Consensus: 52% on the Redskins, 56% on the under

The Pick: Everyone is trying to figure out how the Redskins are favored in this game. Well, the answer is simple… Chicago just isn’t as good as people think they are. The Bears made Brandon Jacobs look like the second coming of Walter Payton last week so I’m not sure I like their chances against an offense that is predicated on running the ball. Robert Griffin III looked a lot more mobile against Dallas last week and I think he’ll continue to improve as the season goes on. The Bears have given up 41 first downs via the run this year (third most in the NFL), so if there’s ever a game where the Redskins could get the read-option back on track, this would be it. RG3 should also be able to consistently move the ball through the air. Chicago gives up a whopping 8.3 passing yards per attempt and they’ve only managed a paltry eight sacks in six games this season. This isn’t the same Bears’ defense that we’ve seen in years past. On the other side of things, most people will look at the 31 points that Washington gave up to Dallas last week and think that the Redskins’ defense is still atrocious. Well, that’s not necessarily the case. The Redskins only allowed 213 total yards to the high-powered Cowboys’ offense last week and would have been in a good position to win that game if their special teams hadn’t allowed two huge returns. If the Redskins could limit Tony Romo and company, I think I’ll give them a shot against Jay Cutler. Cutler is receiving far better pass protection this season but that hasn’t corrected his turnover issues as the former Vanderbilt product has committed nine turnovers through the first six games of the season.

Chicago’s last three wins have come against the Giants, Steelers, and Vikings. In two of those three games, the Bears only managed to eke out a tight victory. Despite their loss last week, the Redskins looked like a different team coming off of their bye week, outgaining the Cowboys 2:1 in total yardage. I think this is the week where they get over the hump. Redskins 31, Bears 24

The Wager: There’s just no line value here. I was hoping the Redskins would be a home underdog in the +3 range, but instead this game is a pick’em. With that being said, I’m so convinced that this is the trap of the week that I’m going to be stubborn and bet the ‘Skins anyways. Redskins pk

The Trend: The Bears are 1-9-1 ATS in their last 11 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game.


Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles

Friday Line: Eagles -2.5, total of 55

Public Consensus: 83% on the Cowboys, 58% on the over

The Pick: Nick Foles > Michael Vick. There, I said it. Foles went up against a solid Bucs’ defense last week and absolutely shredded them. Most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over a single time as we’ve seen Michael Vick do with frequency in the past. Foles should have his way with a Cowboys’ pass defense that surrenders 308 yards per game through the air, especially with DeMarcus Ware’s pass rushing presence watching from the sidelines. Dallas has given up 23 pass plays of 20 yards or more, and that number is likely to increase drastically this week against a Philadelphia team that loves to take shots down the field. The Cowboys also give up 4.4 yards per carry which means that LeSean McCoy should be able to continue his awesome start to the season. Unfortunately for the Eagles, their defense is just as porous as the Cowboys’ defense. The Eagles have relinquished at least 273 yards passing in every one of their games this season, so Tony Romo is in line for a huge game here. The big problem for the Cowboys in this matchup will be their lack of a running game. DeMarco Murray is once again injured, and his normal backup Lance Dunbar is also out as well. Fifth-round rookie Joseph Randle, who only managed 17 yards on 11 carries against a weak Redskins’ defense last week, will get the majority of carries at tailback this week. Without the luxury of a solid running game, Romo will be facing plenty of third-and-long situations all afternoon and we all know how that’s going to end.

As a Cowboys’ fan, it pains me to pick against my team but I just don’t have a good feeling about this matchup. Foles is a definite upgrade over Vick and I can’t see Romo matching points without Murray in the backfield. It also doesn’t help that everyone in the world thinks this will be a cake walk for Dallas. Eagles 28, Cowboys 24

The Wager: This is simple—I don’t want to pick against my team for the second straight week. I think the Eagles are the right side and they’d be on my card this week if I were a neutral NFL fan, but I’m not. Pass

The Trend: The Cowboys are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a win of more than 14 points.


St. Louis Rams @ Carolina Panthers

Friday Line: Panthers -7, total of 42

Public Consensus: 53% on the Panthers, 57% on the over

The Pick: St. Louis somehow managed to beat Houston by 25 points last week but I doubt we’ll see a repeat performance this week. The Rams stink. “Captain Checkdown” Sam Bradford may have picked apart a deflated Texans’ defense last week, but that’s not going to happen against the Panthers. As I’ve repeatedly mentioned in the past, I think Carolina has the best front seven in football and they should be able to consistently get into the backfield and disrupt Bradford. The Rams have had their running game working ever since Zac Stacy took the reins from Daryl Richardson, but he won’t have much success against a Panthers’ run defense that gives up 3.8 yards per carry. The Panthers’ biggest weakness is their secondary but Bradford is incapable of burning opposing teams through the air, so I don’t hold out much hope for the Rams’ offense in this one. Meanwhile, Cam Newton is starting to come to life. Carolina carved up a weak Vikings’ defense on the road last week and they shouldn’t face much resistance against a Rams’ defense that’s given up 25.7 points per game this season. Newton finally used his legs to pick up some first downs last week and that made a huge difference for the Panthers’ offense which had stalled on many occasions in previous games. DeAngelo Williams has also proven to be a big asset in the backfield as his 4.3 yards per carry this season have allowed Newton to work out of more favorable situations. The Rams give up a woeful 4.6 yards per carry so the combo of Williams and Newton should be able to keep the chains moving for the Panthers.

I’m not ready to change my opinion on the Rams. St. Louis’ two-game win streak is a facade as they’ve beaten a lowly Jaguars’ squad and a Texans’ team that looked like it gave up after falling behind early last week. Carolina has notoriously been a team that starts slow and steadily improves as the season goes on. Panthers 26, Rams 13

The Wager: I’ve gone back and forth as to whether or not to make the Panthers a play this week, but I’m going to decide against it. I feel as though my negativity towards Sam Bradford could possibly be clouding my judgement here. Pass

The Trend: The Rams are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 meetings in Carolina.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons

Friday Line: Falcons -6.5, total of 43

Public Consensus: 50% split, 59% on the over

The Pick: I really have no idea what to expect from this game. On one hand, you have a Bucs’ team that’s seemingly not as bad as their record indicates, but still manages to collapse at the end of every week. On the other hand, you have a Falcons’ team that’s also probably better than their record indicates but is completely decimated by injuries. Atlanta is expected to be without Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Steven Jackson for this contest. Fortunately for the Falcons, they’ve had a full two weeks to prepare for this shit show, but unfortunately, I’m not sure that makes much of a difference when Harry Douglas, Drew Davis (who?), and Kevin Cone (who?) make up your receiving corps. Unless Tony Gonzalez makes 100 catches this week, I’m not sure I can envision the Falcons moving the ball consistently. I’m sure Atlanta will try to establish the run in this contest but it’ll be difficult to do so against the Bucs, who boast one of the best rush defenses in the league. Atlanta’s injury woes also transfer over to the defensive side of the ball. The Falcons’ front seven has struggled mightily without Kroy Biermann and Sean Weatherspoon in the lineup, especially in run defense. Atlanta’s season stats show that they only surrender 4.2 yards per carry but that number is actually misleading as the Falcons have given up 5.4 yards per carry without Biermann and Weatherspoon in the lineup. Doug Martin should be able to pick up some big yardage on the ground and take some pressure off the shoulders of Mike Glennon. With that being said, this is Glennon’s first career road start and there will definitely be some growing pains in a hostile Georgia Dome environment.

I’m pretty torn on this one. I think the Bucs match up well but I’m concerned that so many people are writing Atlanta off here, especially coming off of their bye week. I’ll take the easy way out and pick this game to land right on the number. Falcons 24, Buccaneers 17

The Wager: As you can probably tell by my write-up above, I don’t have much of a read on this game. Pass

The Trend: The Buccaneers are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games against a team with a losing record.


San Francisco 49ers @ Tennessee Titans

Friday Line: 49ers -3.5, total of 40

Public Consensus: 85% on the 49ers, 92% on the over

The Pick: Here’s another example of where the public is betting the road team like this game is already over. Am I supposed to be sold on San Francisco now that they’ve beaten a reeling Houston squad and an inept Carson Palmer? Colin Kaepernick has been awful for most of the season and while he came to life in the second half of last week’s contest against Arizona, I’m not convinced that that success is going to continue into this week. Kaepernick seemingly connected with Vernon Davis on every pass attempt last week but the Titans are pretty good as stopping opposing tight ends, so that connection will likely get disrupted this week. Tennessee should also be able to keep Frank Gore in check as they’ve only allowed one opposing rusher to top 100 yards this season, and I’ll give them a pass since it was Jamaal Charles that did so. On the other side of things, the 49ers’ defense has also suffered a drop off since last season. San Francisco gave up over 400 yards to the Cardinals last week and they’ve really struggled to get to the quarterback this season, registering just 14 sacks in their six games. Ryan Fitzpatrick is by no means a good quarterback (in fact, he’s pretty garbage), but if Carson Palmer can move the ball against the 49ers I hold out hope for anyone. The 49ers have also given up 236 yards on the ground in their past two contests which means that Chris Johnson could possibly enjoy some success rushing the football this week.

This is only San Francisco’s third road game of the season and in their only other road contest against a good defense they were held to three points by the Seahawks’ defense. Granted, the Titans’ defense isn’t in the same echelon as the Seahawks’ defense but they’ve only allowed two of their six opponents this season to top the 20-point mark. This game has upset potential. Titans 17, 49ers 16

The Wager: No one’s giving the Titans a chance in this game. I’ll guarantee that the entire ESPN Sunday morning crew takes the 49ers to win this game, but I see this as a close contest from start to finish. Solid value with the home team here. Titans +3.5

The Trend: The Titans are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating less than 250 total yards in their previous game.


Cleveland Browns @ Green Bay Packers

Friday Line: Packers -10, total of 46.5

Public Consensus: 60% on the Browns, 71% on the over

The Pick: I can’t believe how many times I’ve seen TV segments this week wondering how the Packers are going to compete without Randall Cobb and James Jones in the lineup. Are you kidding me? Aaron Rodgers is a stud; he’ll find a way to get the ball to Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, and even Jarrett Boykins, who he connected with late in last week’s game. There’s even a chance that Jones suits up in this contest so I wouldn’t worry too much about the Packers’ offense. Rodgers will also have the luxury of handing off to Eddie Lacy, who should be able to pick up good yardage on the ground as the Browns’ defense is forced to respect Rodgers’ ability to beat them deep. Cleveland has one of the league’s best pass defense but it’s easy to put up good numbers when you face Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco (on the road), Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, and E.J. Manuel/Jeff Tuel. The Browns’ first real test came last week against the Lions where they were torched for four touchdowns by Matthew Stafford. As good as Cleveland has been this season, this is a huge step up in class. Meanwhile, Brandon Weeden continues to prove that he should probably be working as a game show host somewhere because he seems to love giveaways. Weeden tossed a pretty breathtaking backhanded interception last week and has now thrown 22 picks in his 19 career starts. It’s not like Weeden can rely on a running game either. Willis McGahee will be turning 60 this week and Chris Ogbonnaya is nothing more than a reliable checkdown option out of the backfield.

At first glance I thought this was a big line but Green Bay tends to destroy teams at home. The Packers played an awful game against the Lions two weeks ago and still managed to win by 13 points. Last week they went to Baltimore without Clay Matthews and still pulled off a road victory in one of the hardest places to win in the NFL. I don’t think they face much resistance this week. Packers 28, Browns 13

The Wager: If you’ve read my write-ups in the past, you’d know that I’ve never been a fan of taking double-digit favorites. I’m not about to change my stance now. Green Bay probably covers here but I’ll lose zero sleep over passing on this one. Pass

The Trend: The Packers are 34-16-2 ATS in their last 52 home games.


Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Friday Line: Steelers -2.5, total of 41

Public Consensus: 53% on the Ravens, 72% on the over

The Pick: I’m not ready to say that the Steelers are back, but they took a big leap forward last week winning in New York. The return of Heath Miller has proven fruitful for Ben Roethlisberger as he finally has a reliable option down the middle of the field. Le’Veon Bell’s return to the lineup has also done wonders as the Steelers finally have some threat of a running game. Bell’s rushing numbers haven’t been good this season but he’s a three down back that can help out Big Ben in pass protection; something that was missing earlier on in the season. With that being said, the Steelers aren’t going to walk all over the Ravens’ defense. Baltimore surrenders just 21.5 points per game and that number is inflated because they were torched by Peyton Manning in the first week of the season. The Ravens can also get after the quarterback as they sit third in the league with a stellar 22 sacks through six games. That doesn’t bode well for a Steelers’ decimated offensive line that’s already given up 19 sacks on the season. The good news for Pittsburgh is that their defense should be equally successful against the Ravens’ offense. I know I’m beating a dead horse here but once again I have to point out that Joe Flacco is an absolute atrocity on the road. So far this season, Sergeant Unibrow has compiled a sorrowful 61.6 QB rating away from home, throwing for just four touchdowns and a whopping eight interceptions. Pittsburgh’s defense was an abomination earlier in the season but the bye week seems to have done wonders for them as they looked like an elite stop unit last week. Ray Rice has managed only 2.8 yards per carry and 39.4 yards per game this season so Pittsburgh’s defense should be forcing third-and-longs all afternoon.

I don’t think the Steelers are as good as they looked last week and I don’t the Ravens are nearly as bad as they looked last week, but I still give Pittsburgh the edge here. I can envision the Steelers moving the ball effectively but I can’t say the same for the Ravens. Steelers 21, Ravens 14

The Wager: I’ve seen enough Steelers-Ravens games in my lifetime to know that these games always tend to come down to the wire. Usually you’d like to have the underdog in those instances, so I’m going to lay off Pittsburgh here even though I’m fairly confident they’re the right side. Pass

The Trend: The Ravens are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games in October.


Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts

Friday Line: Broncos -6, total of 56

Public Consensus: 56% on the Broncos, 79% on the over

The Pick: The game of the week pits Peyton Manning against his former team. The national media keeps talking about how important this game is for Manning, but has anyone talked about how important this game is for Andrew Luck? This is Luck’s first chance to prove that the Colts made the right decision in letting Manning go. The Colts lost a sloppy affair to the Chargers on Monday Night Football, but as I mentioned in last week’s Nickel Package podcast, that was clearly a huge look ahead spot for Indianapolis. Throw that game out the window and look at this week’s matchup. Prior to last week, Luck had lost six games in his NFL career and the Colts are 6-0 ATS in the following game. Simply put, the young quarterback out of Stanford always tends to rebound. The Broncos will welcome Von Miller back into the fold on defense but that’s not likely to shore up all of the deficiencies that they’ve had so far this season. For Pete’s sake, Denver allowed Chad Henne to move the ball consistently last week! They have the worst pass defense in the league, surrendering 8.5 yards per attempt and an unbelievable 337.7 yards per game. The Colts are a pass heavy offense and I can envision Luck carving up this Broncos’ defense. On the other side of things, Manning is a stud—we all know that—but it’s important to note that after not turning the ball over in the first four games of the season, he’s turned the ball over four times in the past two weeks. The former Colts’ signal caller will feel a lot of pressure in this contest and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that turnover run continue. Last year, Manning had a run of six straight games with at least one turnover, so let’s not forget that he is indeed mortal.

Denver’s amazing start to the season has them completely overvalued right now. They barely pulled out a victory in Dallas a couple of weeks ago and this Colts’ team is very similar to that Cowboys’ team. Luck will be able to match scores here and this one will come down to the wire—ah hell, I’ll go for the glory and take Indy to win outright. Colts 34, Broncos 31

The Wager: I’m going to continue betting against the Broncos while the public persists with their belief that this team is invincible. We’ve seen some chinks in the Broncos’ armor in recent weeks so I’ll look to capitalize on another inflated line. Colts +6

The Trend: The Colts are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a loss.