NFL Pick$ Against The Spread That Don't Suck: Week 8
Every week, I’ll pick NFL games against the spread and track my results. Last year went surprisingly well, but I promise I'll mock my inevitable failures.
I've sucked donkey penis the last two weeks, but short-term donkey fellatio is a necessary evil of sports betting. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
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.
(ALSO: Want to learn everything there is to know about Smart Sports Betting -- the basics, interpreting the best advanced NFL stats, adopting the psychology of winning bettors and much more? My book is out and it will be half-price, $4.99, for one week only. If it guides you to place one smart bet or eliminate one stupid bet, it paid for itself many times over. Buy it HERE.)
Denver Broncos* (-9) over San Diego Chargers
The over/under isn’t as high as you’d expect (51), but that should make sense to you if you’ve read my stuff.
Last year, the Chargers had a putrid defense and fantastic offense… but their games with Denver were three of the Broncos four lowest-scoring games of the year.
The reason was Mike McCoy’s gameplans. He took an already slow-paced offense and slowed them down even more. San Diego held the ball for 38:49, 38:03 and 35:07. McCoy realized the Broncos are almost unstoppable on offense, so he shortened the game and minimized the impact his team's weakness (defense) had on the game.
Mike McCoy is a smart man.
I’m not sure I can back San Diego to cover, because Denver’s defense is massively improved (2nd in DVOA). But I can back Mike McCoy to keep his gameplan that worked three times, and I like the under even more now that both teams' defenses are better.
BET: UNDER 51 (-105), $105 to win $100
Atlanta Falcons (+3.5) over Detroit Lions
This line is fair.
I still believe in the Falcons' offense, but Detroit has been No. 1 in the NFL in DVOA for quite a few weeks in a row, and they're still tied for first in yards per play allowed. They are really, really good. Even with their offensive struggles, this makes sense.
If Calvin Johnson were to come back, I might consider a Lions play. Their offense has gone from kinda-bad to really bad in his absence. They need him.
Also, the sample size on games in London is tiny, so I have no idea how it will affect both teams.
Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(Now we get to hear how great Teddy Bridgewater is again after hearing how great he was for dominating the Falcons and then bad for being bad against the Lions, etc.)
Chicago Bears (+5.5) over New England Patriots*
New England’s offense is trending up, but the defense is trending down. They got gashed by Chris Ivory, who is a talented fellow, but that’s still quite bad, all things considered (poor offensive line, Geno Smith, etc.).
But Tom Brady looks like he’s not dead, so that’s a plus.
My first instinct was that this line was too steep, but what the hell have the Bears done this year? The offense is struggling (17th DVOA), and I don’t buy the above-average defensive metrics for the time being. They’re clearly wizardry.
Just look at the Bears’ results. The wins in San Francisco and Atlanta were nice… but the rest of that resume is just embarrassing.
Kansas City Chiefs (-7) over St. Louis Rams
The Chiefs are 3-3 and lost to the Titans, who might be the worst team in the league.
They’re also 9th in DVOA and won in San Diego and at home vs. New England. The nearly won in Denver and San Francisco.
They look like a nice potential teaser piece, as long as Jeff Fisher doesn’t decide to put Jonny Hekker in at quarterback.
Seattle Seahawks (-4.5) over Carolina Panthers*
Carolina’s defense is 29th in DVOA and after seven weeks, I believe they are genuinely awful. Seattle’s had two bad weeks in a row, and I don’t know what the hell happened last week, but one horrible week isn’t enough to panic.
The Seahawks are still fourth in total DVOA and inarguably a top-five team in the NFL, and against a Panthers team that is quite bad, 4.5 doesn’t seem like much.
BET: Seahawks -4.5 (-110), $110 to win $100
New York Jets* (-3) over Buffalo Bills
The Bills are better than the Jets by all metrics, but I don’t like how they match up with the Jets. The Jets look bad when teams can gash their secondary. Buffalo probably can’t do that (most teams can). They’ll stop the run.
If Geno Smith can be competent, I really like the Jets. The Bills’ relative weakness is their secondary, so that’s the key.
BET: Jets -2.5 (-125), $125 to win $100
Miami Dolphins (-5.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars*
The Jaguars just shut down the Browns (3.6 yards per play), which, as weird as it is to write, is a damn impressive achievement. They’re 13th in defensive DVOA somehow, which probably overstates things, but if I were a Jaguars fan, I’d be happy with anything that looks good enough to overstate things.
But Miami’s defense is very, very good (4th in DVOA) and this should be an ugly, low-scoring game and 5.5 points seems about right for the superior, yet mediocre Dolphins.
Houston Texans (-2.5) over Tennessee Titans*
Houston’s defense is the only not-horrible unit in this game (and their special teams, but whatever).
Cincinnati Bengals* (-1) over Baltimore Ravens
There are two ways of looking at this.
- The Ravens have been much better this year. Based on that— specifically the last three weeks – they should be favored.
- The Bengals have still been good overall at home this year, and have been ridiculously good at home in recent history – and they should be favored by more.
I avoid reacting to small sample sizes as much as possible. The Bengals have been awful the last three weeks – but the tie with Carolina at home wasn’t so bad, and the other two games were on the road. One sorta-bad home game doesn’t cancel out last year’s 8-0 performance at the Gingerdome, with six double-digit wins.
I’m considering Cincinnati, but Baltimore has been really good (2nd in DVOA overall), and I’ll need to hear if AJ Green is playing. If he plays, I might pull the trigger.
Philadelphia Eagles (+2.5) over Arizona Cardinals
This game is (more) proof that records are meaningless. Yes, these are two pretty good teams. Probably Top-10-ish. Philly is 6th in DVOA and Arizona is 15th – I’d put them both closer to 10, but their 5-1 records make them seem like top-five teams, and that’s funny. One of them has Carson Palmer and the other has 94 injured offensive lineman and can’t run the ball.
That said, the Eagles shockingly found running room on the Giants two weeks ago (22 carries, 149 yards for LeSean McCoy), but they’ll probably go back to struggling against Arizona. If not, I take the mean words back.
The Eagles’ defense is massively improved and might even be good (8th in DVOA), but without a running game, they could have a lot of trouble against a top-5 defense. 2.5 seems fair.
Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers*
The Colts are the better team, but they’re also 30th in run defense DVOA and significantly worse on the road than at home. 2.5 = fair.
The Steelers’ offense is legit, most of the time. Their defense is horrible. There’s a reason the total is 49 despite featuring two slow-paced teams (20th and 21st in pace).
Cleveland Browns* (-7) over Oakland Raiders
The Browns should dominate on offense, but their 25th-ranked DVOA defense is why seven points makes sense here. Derek Carr hasn’t had much success overall, but he shows a lot of promise.
I like it as a teaser piece, though.
BET: Teaser, Chiefs -1/Browns -1 (-110), $110 to win $100
New Orleans Saints (-1) over Green Bay Packers*
This is like the Bengals game. The Packers have been the much better team so far (3rd in DVOA vs. 21st). Given this year’s stats, the Packers should be favored.
But given Drew Brees’ history at home, the Saints should be favored by more.
To put it in perspective: The Saints haven’t been favored by less than a field goal at home since Week 12 of 2012. (Though to be fair, they didn’t cover.)
The market knows that the Saints are great at home. They know that the Saints are 36-17 ATS in their past 53 home games. But I think the Saints’ stock is too low due playing four road games so far, and that the Packers have mostly feasted on an easy schedule so far.
There’s no such thing as an auto-bet, but the Saints at home as less than three point favorites is close.
BET: Saints -1.5 (-109), $109 to win $100
Washington Potato Skins (+10) over Dallas Cowboys*
I was on the Romo bandwagon alone for a while, and it made me sad. Now everyone is here, and we’re praising the offensive line, and it all makes so much sense.
I’m not convinced the defense is better than mediocre, but it does seem mediocre.
The Potato Skins can stop the run and run decently and that is all. They are significantly worse, and this line makes sense.
(AGAIN: If you want to win money betting on sports, you should buy my book HERE for half-price, $4.99, this week only. All the cool kids like learning all of the things for cheap.)
Last Week: 1-3 (.250) -$350
Total: 29-32 (.475) -$638.42
Hypothetical Supercontest Picks: 17-13 (This Week: Saints, Seahawks, Jets, Bengals, Texans)
By the way, check out SportsGrid's NFL Power Rankings, below:
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