Sunday, October 4, 2009

You Betcha!

Another week, another post in which I try to pick the winners of NFL games against the spread. But just as Yoda once instructed Luke on Dagobah, there is no "try," only "do." Thus far, through two weeks, it's been all "do" for me, as evidenced by an astonishing 24-8 record against the spread. The early weeks of the NFL season are always the best time for picking winners as it takes the betters and the sports books a little bit of time to get on the same page. This results in several weekly "bargains" being available when the lines come out. Now, in the fourth week of the season, there are fewer bargains to be had and it becomes a little bit more like guesswork.

Last Week:

Against the Spread: 12-4
Mortal Locks: 3-0
Net profit: $196.66

Overall Totals:

Against the Spread: 24-8
Mortal Locks: 5-1
Net profit: $208.70

Week 4 (road teams are always listed first):

1) Oakland (+9) vs. Houston (-9)

The Texans defense has been giving up big plays to opposing RBs all year, and they might very well do so again today against Darren McFadden. But while the Oakland ground game might have success, there's little hope for much of an aerial attack so long as JaMarcus Russell is under center. I don't expect this to be a blowout as Nnamdi Asomugha should be able to contain Andre Johnson somewhat, and I do expect one long TD play from Oakland's stable of sprinting WRs, but in the end the Texans have too many weapons to not win this game by more than nine points. Take Houston in a must-win game for them.

2) Tennessee (-3) vs. Jacksonville (+3)

It's Chris Johnson vs. Maurice Jones-Drew in a battle of two of the best ground games. With the Titans a disappointing 0-3 to start the season, this is another of those proverbially must-win games. But while both teams employ a similar offensive strategy, it's the Jaguars who have better balance and are better equipped to come back if they fall behind early. This should be close, but I like Jacksonville at home getting three points. Look for Torry Holt to finally have his first TD as a member of the Jags.

3) Baltimore (+1.5) vs. New England (-1.5)

This is the marquee matchup of the week as both teams can make a case for being the best team in the league. The Patriots have looked inconsistent, but each week Tom Brady gets a little sharper and the confidence in him as the league's best QB returns. Baltimore's Joe Flacco, however, has also been elevated from the role of "careful steward" to that of a legitimate weapon. On paper, the Ravens are the better pick here...but games aren't played on paper. There's a good chance Wesley Welker returns from injury this week, and that's one more weapon for Brady to lead the Pats to victory. They'll cover. Take the Pats.

4) Cincinnati (-7) vs. Cleveland (+7)

Who predicted Cincinnati's shocking upset over the Steelers last week? This guy right here. I know the Bengals are on the road this week, and I know they're sort of a rough 2-1, but only having to cover a TD against Browns? This is the week Carson Palmer finally clicks on all gears and reminds us why he's so vital to their success. Cleveland is simply awful and a QB change is not going to make a huge difference. Take the Bengals to cover easily.

5) NY Giants (-9.5) vs. Kansas City (+9.5)

One of the league's best teams versus one of its worst. It's a big spread, but the Giants beat Tampa last week 24-0 and I don't see the Chiefs being able to muster much more of a fight than the Bucs did. Plaxico Burress is not missed on this team one bit. Take the Giants and the equally electrifying Mario Manningham to cover.

6) Detroit (+10) vs. Chicago (-10)

Detroit finally won last week, avoiding the ignominious honor of losing 20 games in a row. It was a legit win, too, as rookie QB Matt Stafford showed why he was worthy of being the league's #1 draft pick this off-season. It will not be the last game the Lions win this year, but their next win won't come this week. Ten points is a tempting spread to jump in and take the Lions, but all signs point to the Bears really opening it up on offense. Jay Cutler is finally looking like the stud QB they traded for, and his WRs are as talented as they are raw. By the end of the year, this should be one of the league's best passing offenses. You'll see a lot of that today as the Bears score at least five TDs and cover the spread.

7) Tampa (+9) vs. Washington (-9)

The Bucs have been getting dogged on a lot this year, and their o-3 record deserves it. But with losses to Dallas, Buffalo and the Giants, the schedule hasn't exactly been favorable. This week they play the 1-2 Redskins who just lost to Detroit. I'm not saying Tampa is going to win, but with Washington only averaging about 13 points a game, asking them to cover nine points is a lot to expect. Tampa has a new QB under center this week and, while that might lead to some defensive points for the Skins, I think it'll be a net gain for the Bucs. Look for Tampa to cover and possible win.

8) Seattle (+10.5) vs. Indianapolis (-10.5)

No Marvin Harrison? No problem. Peyton Manning is having a great season (again) and spreading the ball around with ease. Meanwhile, Seattle will be missing the keys to their offense as Matt Hasselbeck and Julius Jones are both expected to sit out with injuries. It's a big spread, but the Colts have a mighty big offense. Also, if the Colts' defense could hold the Cardinals to just 10 points on the road last week, don't expect Seattle to do much better. Take Manning and his Colts to cover.

9) NY Jets (+7.5) vs New Orleans (-7.5)

Another marquee matchup as two undefeated teams clash to maintain perfection. The Jets have been a true revelation this season thanks to Rex Ryan's defense and the mature QB'ing from USC rookie Mark Sanchez. Can the defense slow down the league's best offense? A little...but not enough. Drew Brees has a very quick release and just doesn't sacked very often. I think this will be close in the first half and I predict a huge day for Leon Washington, but the Jets don't have enough punch to keep with the Saints on offense. In a fun game, take the Saints.

10) Buffalo (PK) vs. Miami (PK)

Terrell Owens didn't catch a pass last week for the first time in FOREVER. He's been on his best behavior this week, but there's little doubt he'll be getting a ton of targets this week. He's a ticking time bomb and he will eventually go off. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have a new QB as Brad Pennington's season is over due to a shoulder injury. Chad Henne has a good arm, and the Buffalo defense is hurting all over, but he's basically a rookie...and rookies make mistakes. With Marshawn Lynch returning from a 3-game suspension this week, look for the Bills to own Miami in this "pick" game.

11) St. Louis (+10) vs. San Francisco (-10)

Two big injuries of note here: Mark Bulger is out for the Rams, and Kyle Boller is in. Given Boller's mobility and concussion-free brain, this is a good thing. For the 49'ers, Frank Gore is out, rookie Glenn Coffee is in. I like the rookie, but there's no replacing Gore. I think St. Louis will lose, especially without their top WR Laurent Robinson, but I think this will be a lot closer than ten points. I think Boller is going to provide a spark this week and get Donnie Avery involved downfield. The Rams will beat the spread.

12) Dallas (-3) vs. Denver (+3)

Denver is one of the weaker 3-0 teams you'll ever see. They aren't bad, and by the end of the season they may very well deserve the good record they'll likely have, but their current record is a bit of smoke and mirrors. Dallas is hurt with injuries to Marion Barber and Felix Jones, but Tashard Choice is more than capable of filling in, and Barber will probably get a few carries today, too. But really look for Tony Romo to pour it on today. That Denver secondary is beatable and Dallas has the speed to do it. Also, DeMarcus Ware gets his first sack this week. And his second. Dallas easily covers.

13) San Diego (+7) vs. Pittsburgh (-7)

A combined 3-3 on the season, the Bolts and the Steelers have both been disappointments. This week the Chargers get LT back, while the Steelers will be without Willie Parker. As a 7-point underdog, I think this game is a steal. Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie can hang with Pittsburgh's talented WRs, and the Chargers should be able to get pressure on Big Ben Roethlisberger. Take the Chargers to WIN.

14) Green Bay (+4) vs. Minnesota (-4)

Brett Favre against the cheeseheads? Hard to believe, but that's what happens when you refuse to retire when it's time. Favre has helped the Vikings to a 3-0 record, and he usually plays highly motivated during Monday Night Football games. Even so, this will be the moment where anyone who still questions whether the Packers made the right move regarding the replacement of Favre with Rogers will finally succumb to reality. Favre is done. Rogers is the present and future. Green Bay is still putting things together, but they will on Monday night. They'll beat the spread.

Mortal Lock #1: Cincinnati (-7)
Mortal Lock #2: Tampa Bay (+7.5)
Mortal Lock #3: San Diego (-7)

Flushed with last week's success, I've wagered a total of $160 his week:

1) Dallas (-3): $20 to win $17.39
2) Buffalo (PK): $20 to win $18.18
3) New England (-1.5): $20 to win $18.18
4) San Diego (+7): $25 to win $17.86
5) Tampa Bay (+9): $40 to win $36.36
6) Cincinnati (-7): $25 to win $23.81
7) 5-game parlay picking Cincinnati, TB, Buffalo, Dallas, San Diego: $5 to win $109.03
8) 7-game parlay picking Cincinnati, NY Giants, Tampa, Buffalo, St. Louis, Dallas, San Diego: $5 to win $393.56

Happy betting.


Anonymous Scott said...

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Didn't I tell you never to bet on Tony Romo?

October 4, 2009 at 7:49 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

Wow. You're 8-4 heading into tonight's game, by my count. Very impressive, "kraigala." Very impressive indeed. Until the last four weeks, I had no idea you were such an NFL betting shark. I'm honestly thinking about making bets based on your advice (when and if I ever have money again), though that will undoubtedly stop you dead in your prognosticating tracks.

I would have picked the Cowboys too, but they looked really awful today. I would NOT have picked the Rams. (I'm damning myself with faint praise here; no way I would have gone 8-4 against the spread.) Do not overestimate -- or even estimate -- the Rams. And Singletary has a pulse in San Fran!!

October 4, 2009 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

As a casual gambler myself, I do have one nitpick about this feature -- I'd prefer the points only expressed on one side of the equation. We can handle the mirror number ourselves. Like I said, very picky. Sorry. Ignore me.

October 4, 2009 at 9:32 PM  

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