NFL Pick$ Against The Spread That Don't Suck: Week 9
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/e-book is out, and if it guides you to place one smart bet or eliminate one stupid bet, it has paid for itself many times over. Get a complete lesson in NFL betting HERE.)
New Orleans Saints (-3) over Carolina Panthers*
Saints games, featuring their dominant offense and hilarious defense, have gone over a total of 50 points in five of seven games. Three of those games have topped 60 points, and one of the two that went under was against Detroit’s elite defense, and it still reached 47.
Four of the Panthers’ seven games have topped 50 points, one was against the Lions, and one hit 48.
This total is 48, and it seems a bit low.
The Saints have a quick offense (7th in pace)... but Carolina’s is pretty slow (20th). If Ron Rivera is smart, he’ll probably milk the clock and try to keep Drew Brees off the field. The Saints’ relative strength is their rushing defense, so hopefully they can stop this from happening, because winning money is fun.
This is incredibly simple, but so is making babies and that's fun. One great offense and two horrible defenses (yes, Carolina is 28th in defensive DVOA) should probably have a higher total than 48.
BET: OVER 48 (-110), $110 to win $100
Miami Dolphins* (-2) over San Diego Chargers
San Diego started the year playing defense, and that made me uncomfortable. The last few weeks, they’ve been horrible and have dropped to 27th.
The Dolphins will eventually realize that Ryan Tannehill is just a mediocre college wide receiver, but they’re running the ball really well (4th in DVOA).
These teams are 9th and 10th in total DVOA, and I think that’s pretty accurate. I think the metrics favor the Dolphins a little bit, but I also think they might be a bit overrated.
Cincinnati Bengals* (-11) over Jacksonville Jaguars
The case for Cincinnati:
- They went 8-0 last year at home with six double-digit wins, and are 3-0-1 this year, with two double-digit wins.
- The Bengals are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 home games.
- AJ Green is likely back.
- The Jaguars, sources say, are the Jaguars.
The case for Jacksonville:
- They are… goodish on defense? (11th in DVOA despite starting the season poorly).
- Cincinnati is 31st in rushing defense DVOA, and Denard Robinson is inserting his dreadlocks into defenses’ crevasses.
I think there’s a good argument that the Bengals should be favored by more, but with their struggles, the susceptibility to dreadlock penetration and the Jags’ surprisingly good defense, 11 points seems fair.
Cleveland Browns* (-6.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Something weird is going on with the Browns’ running game. Losing elite center Alex Mack didn’t help. They averaged 1.6 yards on 25 rushes against the Raiders and 2.3 ypc on 30 carries against Jacksonville. Tampa Bay has a solid run defense (11th in DVOA), and there’s a good chance the ineptitude will continue.
But Brian Hoyer is having a great year, and Tampa’s pass defense is 31st in DVOA.
Cleveland is improving on defense, and they have potential as a teaser piece. They’ve been a great Red Zone team so far, too, scoring touchdowns on 61.54% of appearances (10th).
BET: Browns teaser, if a partner presents itself
New York Jets (+10) over Kansas City Chiefs
As usual, I will give you a moment for laughter.
I’m going to keep this short. Kansas City is the much better team, but they’re not as good as their No. 4 DVOA mark, and the Jets’ stock is at rock bottom. I’m not confident in Michael Vick, but he can’t be a downgrade. That is not logically possible. Joe Namath’s rotting chest hair would not be a downgrade from Geno Smith.
This is a really good matchup for the Jets, relatively speaking.
They shut down the run. The Chiefs are not comfortable throwing a lot. To beat the Jets, you throw on the Jets.
Ten points is a lot in a likely low-scoring game.
BET: Jets +10 (-110), $190 to win $172.72 AND ML (+400), $30 to win $120
Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys (+/- I don't know)
Line not yet posted due to chance of Weeden. Check back.
Washington Potato Skins (pk) over Minnesota Vikings*
Since the Potato Skins can stop the run but do nothing else, it's gonna be Teddy Time!
But no chance I can back RG3 in his first game back after he looked horrible to start the year.
Philadelphia Eagles (-2) over Houston Texans*
The Eagles are 6th overall in DVOA, despite ranking 23rd in offense. They're benefitting from the top special teams unit in the league (unsustainably good?) and a surprisingly good defense (8th). Houston is just a below average team by all accounts.
I don't like the matchup for Houston, as they do most of their damage on the ground and Philly is 4th in run defense DVOA.
The Eagles' running game is coming around a little bit, and a shutout of the Giants and a close loss in Arizona is a pretty good recent sample.
BET: Eagles -2 (-110), $110 to win $100
San Francisco 49ers* (-10) over St. Louis Rams
The 49ers have had a really tough schedule. Dallas, Chicago, Arizona, Philly, Kansas City, Denver.
St. Louis hung tough for a bit at home in the first matchup, but got routed in the second half. The Rams managed just 4.4 yards per play, and Colin Kaepernick went off for 343 yards. Basically, the Rams’ horrible pass defense (32nd) can’t to the one thing you need to do to beat the 49ers: stop Kaepernick through the air. The 49ers defense is legit and shouldn’t have trouble.
I'm considering the Niners at -10, but I'd like another half-point or so.
Denver Broncos (-3) over New England Patriots*
New England’s offense is coming to life… but that’s coinciding with their defense declining.
Denver is the best team in the NFL right now by FAR (don’t fault someone for losing in overtime in Seattle), so this line implies that the Patriots are a decent-to-good team.
Denver is 1st in the NFL in offensive DVOA and 2nd in defense and I just don’t see a reason to go against them if you’re getting the key number of 3.
BET: Broncos -3 (-114), $228 to win $200
Seattle Seahawks (-15) over Oakland Raiders
The Seahawks should win by a lot. 15 is a lot.
Pittsburgh Steelers (pk) over Baltimore Ravens
I wrote this before the Ravens and Steelers played in Week 2.
Last year, they split the series. The home teams won by two and three.
In 2012, they also split. The away team won both games by three.
In 2011, the Ravens won by three on the road (and dominated 35-3 at home in Week 1).
Five of their last six meetings were 2 or 3-point wins.
Then the Ravens blew the Steelers out Week 2.
I like the Steelers a bit, but I can’t find enough reason to justify a bet.
Interesting Thing: The total is 47.5. The past seven Ravens-Steelers games have gone way under that total. But I’m not sure that’s meaningful; this Steelers defense is horrible and the Ravens are playing well on offense. Those aren’t the historical standards.
New York Gaints (+3) over Indianapolis Colts
I believe the Giants are better than they’ve looked, and the Colts are worse than they’ve looked. But this line seems fair, especially when you consider that Andrew Luck has only lost consecutive games one time in his career (Weeks 1 and 2 this year).
(AGAIN: If you want to bet sports smartly, you should check out my complete lesson in NFL and sports betting HERE. All the cool kids like learning all of the things for cheap.)
Last Week: 2-3 -$140
Total: 31-35 (.463) -$778.42
Hypothetical Supercontest Picks: 20-15 (This Week: Saints, Seahawks, Jets, Bengals, Texans)
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