IMPORTANT: I am not an “expert,” but my analysis is still worth reading. I’m not an expert because nobody is an expert, and if someone calls himself an expert, he’s probably not an expert.
The point of this column is to give a unique angle of analysis — the bettor’s perspective — the psychology and resources of which are far superior to the brain-dead “the popular team should win because they should” that you see from “experts” on ESPN and elsewhere, who don’t even acknowledge point spreads.
There is a solid chance these picks will lose money, so I’m not recommending that you bet on them blindly. But I do recommend that you read for a new perspective. And plenty of stupid jokes. Doesn’t Ben Roethlisberger look like Will Ferrell if he ate nothing but KFC for a month? (It’s funny because Roethlisberger is the athlete… zing!)
Please don’t hesitate to call me a moron on Twitter if inspiration strikes. Now would be a good time.
OK… to the bets!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5) over Atlanta Falcons*
The Buccaneers have Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, Austin Rastafarian-Jenkins, Muscle Hamster (maybe, but Bobby Rainey ran for 144 yards in his absence) and one of the most productive QBs in the NFL in 2013. Unfortunately, that last part is Josh McCown, and in 2014, he looks like Josh McCown again.
If Josh McCown decides to continue being Josh McCown, this team will have Josh McCown results. It will be Greg Schiano all over again, especially since the defense has been surprisingly underwhelming. They gave up 8.1 yards per attempt to Austin Davis last week. AUSTIN DAVIS. If you knew who he was three weeks ago, you are his overprotective uncle, Uncle Big Baby Davis. And that was a week after giving up 230 yards (6.8 ypa), 2 TDS and no picks to DEREK ANDERSON.
Fortunately for Josh McCown, the antidote to being Josh McCown is playing the Falcons.
Both teams might throw for 700 yards.
44.5 seems a bit low for the total. Atlanta has gone over 44.5 at home in six of their past eight home games.
BET: OVER 44.5 (-110), $110 to win $100
Buffalo Bills* (-2.5) over San Diego Chargers
The Chargers just beat Seattle? How are they not favored?!
(They just beat Seattle on the ROAD, Buffalo is sneaky-great at home, and the Chargers are coming cross-country all the way to BUFFALO. They are also not used to eating pounds of wings at the legendary DUFF’S and their bloat will lead to baby chicken wing brothers for Philip Rivers’ 99 kids.)
I wrote this last week, but it all bears repeating:
ALSO IMPORTANT: EJ Manuel’s name does not have periods in between the “E” and “J,” so I have concluded that his name gets cut off because people are afraid to type his real name, EJaculatory.
MOST IMPORTANT: The Bills sucked last year, overall, but they were stealthily really good at home. Their results:
Two-point loss to the Pats. Win over the 12-4 Panthers. Win over the Ravens. OT loss to the Bengals. 10-point loss to Kansas City (they would’ve won if Jeff Tuel didn’t start). 37-14 beatdown of the Jets. OT loss to the Falcons. 19-0 win over Miami.
Not a single bad game.
If you need further convincing, throw in the Bills’ superior defense (6th in the NFL in DVOA last year!).
The Chargers look improved on defense, but that’s not saying much, and believe it or not, they’re a very run-heavy team. They were 7th in the NFL in rush percentage last year and are 8th this year.
Will Philip Rivers look like New Old Philip Rivers (the current version, the good one) if forced to throw against Buffalo’s stout defensive line? I’m not sure. I lean Buff and Duff’s.
EJ Manuel may suck, but for the time being, I still believe the Chargers’ defense sucks more.
Bills -2.5 (-110), $55 to win $50
Dallas Cowboys (-1.5) over St. Louis Rams*
The Cowboys got no love the first two weeks. They proved the doubters right in Week 1 and then wrong in Week 2. By that pattern, you must bet your life savings on the Rams! Trends!
This is as easy a matchup as could possibly be for Dallas’s (putrid) defense, and if they can’t be passable here, they can’t be passable anywhere. They did it last week. I think they can do it again. The Rams are starting Austin Davis. AUSTIN DAVIS AUSTIN DAVIS.
The Rams defense just got torched by Bobby Rainey and DeMarco Murray looks great and seriously, the Rams look like they could be very very bad.
BET: Cowboys -1.5 (-110), $55 to win $50
New York Giants* (+2.5) over Houston Texans
What would this line have been in Week 1? I’m speculating, but I think it’s Giants -2.5. Regardless of the actual number, I can’t imagine Houston would’ve been 2.5-point favorites. Maybe I’m stupid for believing in a team that looks godawful. But it’s TWO DAMN WEEKS, and as bad as the Giants look, they can’t possibly have an average turnover margin of -3 the entire year.
Sell high on the Texans (they had the No. 1 pick, they have Ryan Fitzpatrick and beat the POTATO SKINS AND JAGUARS), and buy (very) low on the G-Men.
BET: Giants ML (+112), $100 to win $112
New Orleans Saints* (-10) over Minnesota Vikings
The Saints’ defense is taking a lot of crap, mainly because they gave up 170 miles of passing yards to Matt Ryan, and then lost to the Browns. But the Browns only averaged 4.5 yards per play — thank the -2 turnover margin for your win, Cleveland.
The Saints are a different animal at home (even though Saints aren’t animals). Reminder: They went 8-0 in New Orleans last year and won six of eight by double-digits.
If their defense truly is much worse this year (but why would it be?), then this isn’t a good bet. But there isn’t much evidence to support that yet. Matt Ryan is very good, you know.
(NOTE: I don’t normally recommend paying extra juice on teasers, but there’s an exception for everything.)
BET: TEASER (-130), Saints -3/Colts PK, $260 to win $200
Tennessee Titans (+6.5) over Cincinnati Bengals*
The Bengals at home last year: 8-0, six of eight wins by double digits, the other two by a TD. GINGER AT HOME IN GINGER NOLE.
If AJ Green is out (it seems like he’ll play), things might be different. But the Bengals are better at every position (soak that in, Andy), and this line implies that the Titans are mediocre. I think they’re bad.
BET: TEASER (-110), Bengals -.5/Colts PK, $110 to win $100
Baltimore Ravens (-1) over Cleveland Browns*
Fun Fact: The Browns are 5th in the NFL in offensive DVOA right now. That probably means nothing, especially since they managed just 4.5 yards per play last week, but it does mean we might have to wait for Johnny Football. Brian Hoyer looks acceptable at the moment, and their running game is doing things.
The Ravens have improved massively on offense, going from dead-last in yards per play last year… to 23rd!
Seriously, though — the defense is legit, and now that Joe Flacco only looks like the third-worst quarterback in the league, Steve Smith looks like Steve Smith and they aren’t that horrible… they’re actually a pretty good team.
The Browns aren’t playing defense (30th in DVOA so far), and while their offense has been surprising, it will be more surprising if that continues. The Ravens are the first legit defense they’re facing. It could get ugly.
Ravens -1 (-110), $110 to win $100
Detroit Lions* (-2.5) over Green Bay Packers
Simple: The Lions’ defense is MUCH better than the Packers’. The Packers made Geno Smith look like Aaron Rodgers for much of a game AT HOME last week. Really. The Lions can be good at times on defense.
The Pack probably have a bit of an edge on offense, but it isn’t huge. The Lions are the better team. They’re at home. It’s under three. Simple.
Lions -2.5 (-110), $220 to win $200
Washington Potato Skins (+6.5) over Philadelphia Eagles*
Damn, people are really down on the Potato Skins?
I’m as much of a Kirk’s Cousin’s Hater as anyone… but you don’t have to be that good to move the ball on the Eagles.
Washington’s defense looks pretty good so far, actually (1st in DVOA, albeit against a cakewalk schedule) — and Philly’s looks mediocre at best.
Yes, Philly has the better offense. But you’re buying low on Washington here, and I think this line is a bit inflated. Remember: The Eagles were just 4-5 at home last year. Also: Their red-zone offense is really struggling (37.50%, 27th). It’s a theme after doing the same last year.
Washington +6.5 (-110), $55 to win $50
Indianapolis Colts (-7) over Jacksonville Jaguars*
I’m not one for trends… but… last week was Andrew Luck’s first consecutive loss in his career. If he loses, intangibles don’t exist and there is no god and we’re all gonna die.
BETS: The two teasers.
Oakland Raiders (+14) over New England Patriots*
Fourteen points is a lot. The Raiders also suck. Do not watch this trash.
Arizona Cardinals* (+3) over San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers’ defense has been middling for a while and is coming off that embarrassing chokejob against the Bears.
Colin Kaepernick in Arizona? It could get ugly.
But I’m not sure I can trust Drew Stanton.
BET: Arizona +3… maybe
Denver Broncos (+4.5) over Seattle Seahawks*
The Seahawks coming off a loss, in their impenetrable dome of solitude.
The Broncos and Peyton Manning on Super Bowl embarrassment revenge.
Aquib Talib is ProFootballFocus’s top-graded cornerback so far. Is the Broncos’ defense significantly better than last year’s? Is their offense worse?
Many questions. Many intrigue. Many eyeballs. No dollars needed.
Kansas City Chiefs (+4) over Miami Dolphins*
I know the Chiefs offense can be ugly. But as amazing as Jamaal Charles is… Knile Davis is a damn good replacement. The Chiefs showed a surprisingly big pulse in Denver last week.
These teams seem very similar. Good defenses, below-average quarterbacks, below-average offenses…
Except that the Chiefs defense does not look good. And they’re banged up (Eric Berry, Tamba Hali). And I understand this line.
Carolina Panthers* (-3) over Pittsburgh Steelers
What’s with the Panthers hate? The Steelers look AWFUL so far, and didn’t have high prospects coming into the year. The Panthers went 12-4 last year and were dominant at home on defense. DOMINANT. Against a leaky rush defense… what isn’t there to like here?
This line makes no sense to me. Please explain it. Really.
BET: Panthers -3 (-120), $480 to win $400
Chicago Bears (+2.5) over New York Jets*
I’m also confused about this line. How are the Jets favored? Their weakness (horrible secondary) plays right into Chicago’s strengths (Alshon + Brandon).
That said, the Jets offense looks like it can score points against bad defenses, and the Bears have a bad defense. I don’t see why both teams won’t have success. The total seems low.
BET: OVER 45.5 (-110), $110 to win $100
(What are your picks? Tweet me. I wanna hear.)
Last Week: 5-2 (.714) (+550.36)
Total: 9-9 (.500) +$618.86
Hypothetical Supercontest Picks: 6-4 (This Week: Giants, Ravens, Lions, Bills, Panthers)
By the way, check out SportsGrid’s NFL Power Rankings, below: