Saturday, October 24, 2009

You Betcha!

Last week was a modest return to the win column for this...column. After suffering through a miserable 5-9 week, my first below .500 on the season, I bounced back with a solid, money-winning 8-6 performance. This week I'm getting my picks out a day early, so take note that betting lines may change prior to kickoff. There's always some movement of the lines on game day, so it's often best to try to lock in the best bets before Vegas clues in.

Last Week:

Against the Spread: 8-6
Mortal Locks: 2-1
Net profit: $16.63 (note: a $5 parlay bet did not go through)

Overall Totals:

Against the Spread: 45-29 (.608)
Mortal Locks: 9-6
Net profit: $105.12

Week 7 (road teams are always listed first):

1) San Diego (-5.5) vs. Kansas City

The Chargers are a talented 2-3 disaster while the Chiefs are an untalented 1-5 coming off their first win and playing scrappy football of late. It might be time to admit the Chargers just aren't as good as advertised. Philip Rivers is having a fine year, but the Charger defense is in shambles and the offense can't seem to get more than field goals once inside the red zone. I do think the Chiefs will make a game of this, but I also think this is the week the Chargers either get it together or fall off the radar completely. Needing to cover less than a TD, I'm taking the Chargers to find their way back into the playoff hunt. Tomlinson should find the end zone at least twice this week.

2) Indianapolis (-14.5) vs. St. Louis

A 5-0 juggernaut against an 0-6 team in serious danger of not winning a game the rest of the season (they've got Tennessee in week 14 circled on their schedule, I'm sure). Mark Bulger, when protected, is capable of directing some scoring drives for the Rams, but Peyton Manning's Colts are coming off a bye week, playing in a dome not unlike their own, and they're simply clicking better than any other offense in the league. They also get oft-injured Bob Sanders back on defense and his presence always causes trouble for opposing offenses. Two TD's and a half point may seem like a lot to cover, but it's not. They should be up by three TD's at the half.

3) Green Bay (-9) vs. Cleveland

The Browns are not what I would call a good team. Far from it. Even so, even with one of the worst QB situations in the league, even with one of the most ancient do-nothing RBs in the league, the Browns have shown some fight of late...playing Pittsburgh last week a lot closer than the 13-point loss would indicate. I don't have a good feeling about this spread, but the Cleveland defense has been serviceable of late, and their hit and miss (and miss) offense seems due for a decent day. Call it a hunch, but at home I think Cleveland can keep this one within the 9-point spread.

4) Minnesota (+5.5) vs. Pittsburgh

Count me amongst the group of people just waiting for the day when Brett Favre comes crashing back down to earth. It's coming. In spite of that inevitable future, the Vikings are an exceptionally balanced attack (right now) and at 6-0 it's somewhat unfathomable that they're being given 5.5 points here. It's not that I think Pittsburgh can't cover this spread, but this is one of those lines where you take the Vikings just because it's a silly spread. An undefeated team playing great football getting almost six points as an underdog? Take it. I know Antoine Winfield is likely out, and I know Big Ben Roethlisberger has been tearing up secondaries of late, but take the Vikes.

5) New England (-15.5) vs. Tampa Bay

This game is being played across the pond in jolly old England. Speaking of England, have you heard about the play I wrote for the upcoming BritBits6 production? (smooth segue, Kraig...smooth) As a general rule, avoid betting on games where international travel and foreign stadiums are involved. It gets too unpredictable. How will the turf be? How will the players handle the jet lag? How will the neutral crowd impact things? I hate answering those questions...because you can't. The Pats are coming off one of the most impressive thrashings in the history of pro football, and the Bucs are a woeful 0-6. This would seem to be an easy spread for the Pats to cover, but I'm going against them here. I expect both teams to keep it on the ground more than expected, and that should lead to a lower-than-expected score. I think THIS is the week the Bucs finally cover. Just don't bet on it, okay?

6) San Francisco (+3) vs. Houston

This is a battle of two Jekyll and Hyde teams---you never know which team is going to show up. The 49'ers are well rested coming off a bye week, but the big news is the return of Frank Gore to the lineup, as well as the debut of rookie WR Michael Crabtree. Having been blown out by Atlanta before the bye, I think Mike Singletary is going to have these guys ready to roll. Count on it. Houston is a tough offense to deal with, and they're coming off an impressive win against the Bengals, but take the underdog here in what should be a close, tough game.

7) NY Jets (-7) vs. Oakland

A few weeks ago this spread might've been closer to 20 points, but since then the Raiders have shocked the Eagles while the Jets have gone into freefall, losing three in a row. After the upset of the Eagles last week, I don't have a clue what to expect from the Raiders. Their offense is still awful, but the Raiders do have playmakers...the equivalent of a bad heavyweight fighter who can still hurt you with that one good punch. Expect the Jets to rely heavily on the legs of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington to take the pressure off rookie QB Mark Sanchez. That should keep the score down and keep that 7-point spread in play. That said, gimme the Jets. The Raiders might come out with some added confidence this week, but this is a perfect get-right game for the Jets. Take the Jets to cover...barely.

8) Buffalo (+7) vs. Carolina

Trent Edwards is out, Ryan Fitzpatrick is in. Big deal. Buffalo's offense is a disaster either way. Their defense has gotten a bit healthier, but Carolina should have little trouble moving the ball on the ground. I'd also expect Steve Smith to get more looks than in recent weeks and that's usually trouble for opposing defenses. Carolina is an enigmatic team (like many so far), but there's no mystery to Buffalo. They're a mess. Take Carolina to cover.

9) Chicago (Pk) vs. Cincinnati

The Bengals were upset by the Texas last week but they're still getting a lot of respect in the point spread. This game is a straight pick'em, but I think you have to pick Chicago here, even on the road. The Bears were very solid in a road defeat to the Atlanta Falcons. While they still can't get the ground game going, Jay Cutler has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Add in the lost of Antwan Odom on the Cincinnati defensive line, and I think the Bears will have plenty of success this week. This one may not even be close. Take the Bears.

10) New Orleans (-7) vs. Miami

Just how good is Miami? They've been on a roll of late with Chad Henne under center and the wildcat offense running crazy, but are they good enough to stay within a TD of what is possibly the best team in the NFL? I'm not buying it. I've been betting against Miami most of the season, so maybe you should just ignore this pick, but asking the Saints to cover seven points after demolishing the Giants last week seems like a bargain. Take Drew Brees and his powerful Saints here.

11) Atlanta (+4) vs. Dallas

From strictly a football perspective, here's a fun game to watch. The Falcons are a great team, but the Cowboys are coming off a bye (always a plus) and they know this is a good litmus test for where they are. The Cowboys will be as healthy as they've been since the start of the season, getting Felix Jones back, but should they be favored here? As much as I think the Cowboys have been unfairly maligned in the mainstream media (their only losses were last-minute defeats to the Giants and the Broncos...combined record of 11-1), it's hard to see them as a favorite here. They still have problems stopping good WRs (hello, Roddy White) and they don't look like a team ready to blow anyone out. I hate picking against the Boys, but if the Falcons are getting four points...take the Falcons.

12) Arizona (+7) vs. NY Giants

I like the Cardinals more than most, but this line is a dramatic overreaction to last week's debacle between the Saints and Giants. True, the Giants were dominated from start to finish, but the Saints represented the first competition New York had faced in several weeks. Now they come home to face a fairly one-dimensional offense. The Cardinals are awful against the pass, and Manning has significant firepower at his disposal with Steve "don't call me the other" Smith, Mario Manningham, and Hakeem Nicks. Coming off the loss, I love the Giants to reassert themselves as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. It'll be a shootout, but expect the Giants to cover easily.

13) Philadelphia (-7) vs. Washington

Speaking of over-reactive lines, how do you like the Eagles as only a TD-favorite against the pathetic Redskins? I like it a lot. Somehow I don't think that Jim Zorn turning over the play-calling responsibilities is going to miraculously revive the offense. And somehow I don't think the Eagles, a team with arguably the most explosive, most multi-faceted offense in the league, is going to stumble the week after they were humiliated by the Raiders. On Monday night? In front of a national audience? Not a chance. The Eagles will roll.

Mortal Lock #1: Giants (-7)
Mortal Lock #2: Eagles (-7)
Mortal Lock #3: San Diego (-5.5)

This week's bets:

1) San Diego (-5.5): $25 to win $22.73
2) NY Giants (-7): $25 to win $21.74
3) Philadelphia (-7): $25 to win $21.74
4) Minnesota (+5.5): $25 to win $22.73
5) New Orleans (-7): $20 to win $19.05
6) Chicago (Pk): $20 to win $18.18
7) 4-team parlay picking Giants, Eagles, Chargers and Bears: $10 to win $117.39

Happy Wagering.


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