NFL Pick$ Against The Spread That Don’t Suck: Week 14
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 am having a horrid year.
(NOTE: I by no means expect future success, but I did dig myself out of a bigger hole last year to end profitable. So, it can be done.)
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.
(NOTE: All offensive and defensive ranks are given not by traditional stats, but DVOA. You can find complete rankings HERE and an explanation of it HERE. Briefly explained: It’s the best widely-available stat to rank offensive and defensive performance, because it adjusts for game context and strength of schedule.)
(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.)
Chicago Bears* (+3.5) over Dallas Cowboys
Overall: Bears (23rd), Cowboys (15th)
Pass Offense: Bears (14th), Cowboys (10th)
Pass Defense: Bears (28th), Cowboys (22nd)
Rush Offense: Bears (12th), Cowboys (4th)
Rush Defense: Bears (15th), Cowboys (19th)
If you take out Dallas’s (very impressive, obviously) win in Seattle, what have they proven? They didn’t get a real matchup vs. Arizona (Brandon Weeden played), and the best team they’ve beaten all year was New Orleans, at home. And scoring 38 points vs. New Orleans is close to the norm, so I’m not impressed.
Yes, DeMarco Murray and the offensive line are great, but DeMarco Murray also (allegedly) fucked a college teammate’s wife.
I’m betting the Bears, because Jay Cutler would never do anything bad to anyone.
(In all seriousness, I think Dallas’s stock is too high, and the Bears’ too low.)
BET: Bears +3.5 (-110), $47.50 to win $43.18 AND ML (+170), $10 to win $17
Miami Dolphins* (-2.5) over Baltimore Ravens
Overall: Dolphins (6th), Ravens (4th)
Pass Offense: Dolphins (11th), Ravens (6th)
Pass Defense: Dolphins (4th), Ravens (19th)
Rush Offense: Dolphins (2nd), Ravens (13th)
Rush Defense: Dolphins (14th), Ravens (17th)
Massive game between two surprisingly good teams. I do not understand how Ryan Tannehill is commandeering the 11th-ranked pass offense and Joe Flacco the 6th, but I suppose that lumbering Hen won a Super Bowl, so I should shut up. Baltimore is having a good year almost solely due to Flacco.
Given the Dolphins’ excellent pass rush (3rd in adjusted sack rate), their much better defense and running game – 2.5 points seems a little low. I’m surprised it dropped from 3, but then again, I’m losing money this year.
I have to take Miami here, because the only statistical edge I see for the Ravens is Flacco, and I’m a Flacco hater and will live by the Flacco, die by the Flacco. Baltimore has given up 5.6 yards per play (22nd) to Miami’s 4.9 (3rd), and they haven’t faced a defense close to Miami’s level all year.
BET: Dolphins -2.5 (-110), $110 to win $100
Cincinnati Bengals* (-3) over Pittsburgh Steelers
Overall: Bengals (17th), Steelers (13th)
Pass Offense: Bengals (20th), Steelers (5th)
Pass Defense: Bengals (9th), Steelers (29th)
Rush Offense: Bengals (14th), Steelers (10th)
Rush Defense: Bengals (32nd), Steelers (19th)
To visualize that 32nd ranked rush defense for Cincy: They gave up 77 yards and 5.5 yards per carry to Trent Richardson.
This is a team that was widely considered the most-talented team in the NFL entering this year, and this is a team that was lucky to escape with a one-point win in Tampa Bay last week, and a team that couldn’t top 3 yards per play at home vs. Cleveland or in Indianapolis. This was a great home team, but is now a home team that tied a horrendous Carolina team, and lost 24-3 vs. Cleveland.
Then again, they’ve also won in New Orleans, and swept Baltimore. There’s no sense to be made here – just a team that has played a few great games, a few horrendous games, and some in between. They’re mediocre, with upside.
The Steelers, however, have been horrible on the road. Crushed in Baltimore. Beat down Carolina (but that doesn’t count anymore). Barely won in Jacksonville. Crushed in Cleveland. Lost at the Jets. And barely escaped in Tennessee.
With the Bengals’ strong pass defense, Andy Dalton’s impressive home record entering this year and the argument that Cincy might be the better team, especially when you factor in AJ Green’s four missed games, I think they’re a solid bet.
Then again, did you see Andy Dalton’s picks last week? Cover your eyes.
BET: Bengals -3 (-114), $57 to win $50
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) over Cleveland Browns
Overall: Browns (21st), Colts (10th)
Pass Offense: Browns (12th), Colts (9th)
Pass Defense: Browns (6th), Colts (12th)
Rush Offense: Browns (27th), Colts (24th)
Rush Defense: Browns (28th), Colts (26th)
I was ready to ride the Manziel train, but the Browns bitched out. No beating around the bush: Hoyer has sucked since mid-October. I liked Cleveland but now I’ll stay away.
Jacksonville Jaguars* (+5) over Houston Texans
Overall: Jaguars (32nd), Texans (22nd)
Pass Offense: Jaguars (32nd), Texans (15th)
Pass Defense: Jaguars (13th), Texans (17th)
Rush Offense: Jaguars (26th), Texans (21st)
Rush Defense: Jaguars (20th), Texans (18th)
As I keep preaching, Houston is surviving wholly because of turnovers. They’re first in the NFL, at 2.3 per game. Aside from that, they’re not very good.
Fun Fact: Jacksonville is 2nd in the NFL in adjusted sack rate on defense… but dead-last, by a longshot, on offense. That means, whether it’s their offensive line’s fault or Bortles’ or (likely) both, they’ll probably struggle against JJ Watt. And that could mean lots of turnovers.
I think there might be line value on Jacksonville, but I don’t trust Bortles here, at all.
New York Giants (pk) over Tennessee Titans*
Overall: Giants (25th), Titans (29th)
Pass Offense: Giants (21st), Titans (27th)
Pass Defense: Giants (24th), Titans (25th)
Rush Offense: Giants (23rd), Titans (18th)
Rush Defense: Giants (25th), Titans (30th)
No, the Giants are a good team, but they’ve been unlucky. They’re recovering just 33.33% of their fumbles, dead last in the NFL. They’ve been sloppy – they’re sixth in total fumbles – but, damn, that’s some bad luck. Last week's choke-job in Jacksonville? They fumbled three times, lost them all, and that was the main catalyst.
It’s strange to say that they’ve been playing fairly well recently, because they’re on a seven-game losing streak, but they really are. The schedule has been BRUTAL. They played great in Seattle, kept San Francisco and Dallas close, and should’ve won in Jacksonville.
Assuming they aren’t completely demoralized (they might be), there’s a lot of value here. Tennessee is horse semen. And if you were wondering, they’ve recovered the third-highest percentage of fumbles. So they’ve had good luck AND suck. The Giants just kinda suck.
BET: Giants -1 (-101), $202 to win $200
New Orleans Saints *(-10) over Carolina Panthers
Overall: Saints (14th), Panthers (28th)
Pass Offense: Saints (7th), Panthers (25th)
Pass Defense: Saints (27th), Panthers (20th)
Rush Offense: Saints (7th), Panthers (22nd)
Rush Defense: Saints (29th), Panthers (22nd)
It will be a shock if New Orleans loses, but 10 points is fair and not in teaser range.
Washington Potato Skins* (+2.5) over St. Louis Rams
Overall: Potato Skins (27th), Rams (20th)
Pass Offense: Potato Skins (23rd), Rams (26th)
Pass Defense: Potato Skins (32nd), Rams (18th)
Rush Offense: Potato Skins (17th), Rams (11th)
Rush Defense: Potato Skins (10th), Rams (11th)
The Rams have been horrendous at time, and they’ve also beaten Seattle, San Francisco and Denver. They make no sense, and I also don’t know what to make of Colt McCoy maybe being decent. Does this mean Vince Young and Tebow are next... again?
New York Jets (+5.5) over Minnesota Vikings*
Overall: Jets (26th), Vikings (24th)
Pass Offense: Jets (31st), Vikings (30th)
Pass Defense: Jets (23rd), Vikings (11th)
Rush Offense: Jets (6th), Vikings (5th)
Rush Defense: Jets (9th), Vikings (27th)
The Jets, ridiculed as always, have kept every game close this year except for two embarrassments vs. Buffalo, a respectable 14-point loss in Kansas City, and an embarrassing shutout in San Diego. That’s it.
5.5 points doesn’t make sense, except for #LOLJETS or whatever. And I got a decent price on +7.
BET: Jets +7 (-128), $128 to win $100 AND ML (+230), $27 to win $62.10
Denver Broncos* (-10) over Buffalo Bills
Overall: Broncos (1st), Bills (9th)
Pass Offense: Broncos (2nd), Bills (24th)
Pass Defense: Broncos (5th), Bills (2nd)
Rush Offense: Broncos (8th), Bills (28th)
Rush Defense: Broncos (2nd), Bills (4th)
Denver, despite their minor, exaggerated “struggles” has scored 31+ points at home in five of six games. They scored 41 vs. Arizona, 42 vs. San Francisco and 39 vs. Miami, three of the only defenses that can claim to be better than Buffalo’s.
Buffalo is first in the NFL in adjusted sack rate, so that’s a worry. Denver is first in pass protection, but part of that is Peyton’s propensity to always get rid of the ball quickly, even if he’s hurried. A pass rush is his biggest enemy. This is my only worry, but the fact that he had good success vs. Miami eases that worry.
Still, I’m gonna wait and see if this drops at all.
BET: Denver in some capacity, probably
Arizona Cardinals* (-1) over Kansas City Chiefs
Overall: Cardinals (18th), Chiefs (8th)
Pass Offense: Cardinals (17th), Chiefs (13th)
Pass Defense: Cardinals (7th), Chiefs (15th)
Rush Offense: Cardinals (31st), Chiefs (3rd)
Rush Defense: Cardinals (3rd), Chiefs (21st)
I like Arizona a little bit, but Drew Stanton + Marion Grice (or an injured Andre Ellington without practice) doesn’t inspire much confidence.
San Francisco 49ers (-8) over Oakland Raiders*
Overall: 49ers (22nd), Raiders (28th)
Pass Offense: 49ers (8th), Raiders (4th)
Pass Defense: 49ers (1st), Raiders (26th)
Rush Offense: 49ers (19th), Raiders (32nd)
Rush Defense: 49ers (6th), Raiders (13th)
San Francisco off a loss, in a great matchup against a horrible team, right in teaser range. Eight points is a bit much on the road, but I’d certainly lean that way if not for the teaser potential.
(Actually, there’s not a good partner, so I’m thinking outside of the box here. And by thinking outside of the box, I mean biting on a silly teaser that I would normally never recommend.)
BET: 3-team, 7.5-point teaser (+120), Saints -2.5/Broncos -2.5/49ers -.5, $200 to win $240
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+10) over Detroit Lions*
Overall: Buccaneers (31st), Lions (11th)
Pass Offense: Buccaneers (16th), Lions (19th)
Pass Defense: Buccaneers (29th), Lions (3rd)
Rush Offense: Buccaneers (1st), Lions (30th)
Rush Defense: Buccaneers (29th), Lions (1st)
The Bucs suck, but they’re improving on defense. The Lions have struggled all year on offense, and the Bucs have lost by more than 10 points just twice this year.
Philadelphia Eagles* (-1) over Seattle Seahawks
Overall: Seahawks (5th), Eagles (7th)
Pass Offense: Seahawks (16th), Eagles (18th)
Pass Defense: Seahawks (10th), Eagles (8th)
Rush Offense: Seahawks (1st), Eagles (16th)
Rush Defense: Seahawks (5th), Eagles (8th)
Should be a great game, should be interesting to see Mark Sanchez get his first shot against a real defense.
New England Patriots (-3.5) over San Diego Chargers*
Overall: Patriots (2nd), Chargers (16th)
Pass Offense: Patriots (3rd), Chargers (4th)
Pass Defense: Patriots (16th), Chargers (30th)
Rush Offense: Patriots (20th), Chargers (25th)
Rush Defense: Patriots (16th), Chargers (17th)
The Patriots, as you and everyone would expect, are ridiculously good off of a loss (35-15-1 in their last 51). Which is why I’m a bit surprised this is only 3.5, as that’s assuredly common knowledge.
I’m sure there’s nonsense propagating about the Pats losing in Green Bay, but Aaron Rodgers was on a 16-game home winning streak, with 15 wins of 7+ points. Losing by five was basically a win.
San Diego has had a pretty damn easy schedule, in terms of the offenses they’ve faced. And they’ve still sucked. The Pats have put up 34+ in six of their past eight.
I’m gonna wait, just in case, to see if this drops to -3, but I don’t see that happening.
BET: Patriots -3.5 (-109), $109 to win $100
Atlanta Falcons (+13) over Green Bay Packers*
Overall: Falcons (19th), Packers (3rd)
Pass Offense: Falcons (8th), Packers (1st)
Pass Defense: Falcons (31st), Packers (14th)
Rush Offense: Falcons (15th), Packers (9th)
Rush Defense: Falcons (31st), Packers (23rd)
So, Aaron Rodgers is now on a 17-game home winning streak, with 16 wins of 7+ points. But this is 13 points, and it seems like the market has finally caught up. Off a big win against an offense that can score here, I don’t see any value.
BET: TEASER, Dolphins and Texans, maybe
(AGAIN: If you want to bet sports smartly and have a shot at making money, you should check out this complete lesson in NFL and sports betting HERE. All the cool kids like learning all of the things for cheap.)
Last Week: 4-6 -$162
Total: 51-55 (.490) -$1249.26
Hypothetical Supercontest Picks: 31-29 (This Week: Patriots, Giants, 49ers, Jets, Dolphins)
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