Last week overall: 11-5
Last week ATS: 7-9 (-920/-7 units)
Overall picks: 112-64 (.636)
Upset Picks: 1-3 (-80/-2 units)
ATS Picks: 72-97-7 (-9890/-76 units)
Survivor picks: 10-2 (NE, PIT, BAL, GB, NYG, PHI, NO, SF, DAL, SD, ATL, NYJ)
Upset picks: 18-23 (+1610/-3 units)
2010 Total: +6408
2010/2011 Total: -1872
Seattle Seahawks 20 Philadelphia Eagles 13 Upset Pick (+130)
Pick against spread: Seattle Seahawks +2.5 (+105) 4 units (+420)
The Eagles season is over. Despite huge expectations and talks of being potentially the best team ever in the preseason, the Eagles are now 4-7 and effectively out of the playoff race, down 3 games to the Cowboys with 5 to go. On top of this, this happened in heartbreaking fashion. The Eagles led the Patriots 10-0 at one point, but still lost in blowout fashion 38-20. Now they have to fly across the country for a Thursday Night Game. There’s no way they give their all this week.
I’ve mentioned how bad road teams have been on Thursday Night Football over the past two years, 5-10 ATS. However, the Eagles are just the 2nd team in the last 2 years to travel 3 time zones for a Thursday Night Game. The first was the San Francisco 49ers traveling to Baltimore last week and we all know how that ended. The 49ers looked completely flat. Now imagine the 49ers had been effectively eliminated the week before despite preseason Super Bowl and “Dream Team” expectations. That’s how flat the Eagles are going to look this week.
And the Eagles aren’t just traveling anywhere. They have to play in Seattle in Qwest Field. The Seahawks are 25-14 ATS at home since 2007, as opposed to 13-26 ATS on the road. They lost last week at home, but that shouldn’t hurt them. If anything, it helps them. Since 2002, the Seahawks are 17-9 ATS off a home loss, 6-1 ATS at home off of a home loss. The Seahawks have actually been playing sneaky good football since week 3, going 6-2-1 ATS and that includes a loss last week to the Redskins. They beat the Ravens at home a few weeks ago. I think they can easily beat a very flat Philadelphia team.
One last note, I’m putting a unit on the under, 44.5 (-115). The under has hit on 5 of 6 Thursday Night Games this season, including 5 straight. The one game it didn’t hit featured Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees in the opener. Even Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford took a while to get on the scoreboard last week. Offenses are just generally sluggish on Thursdays because they have had so little time to prepare. This trend actually does date back a bit. The under is 21-14 since 2008, but it seems to be more prevalent this season.
Tennessee Titans 21 Buffalo Bills 17 Upset Pick (+105) 2 units (+210)
Pick against spread: Tennessee +1 (+100) 0 units
The Bills started the season off 5-2, but now have lost 4 straight. They didn’t get blown out last week in New York against the Jets like they had in their previous 3, losing by a combined score of 106-26, but it was still a loss, a 4 point loss to a division rival in the Jets. Even more heartbreaking, they had a chance to win it on their final drive, but Steve Johnson dropped a catchable ball over the middle that he could have taken for a touchdown and then Johnson and Fitzpatrick were on the wrong page in the end zone on another incompletion. That loss dropped them to 5-6 and effectively ended their season. They’re going to have trouble getting up this week for the Titans.
On top of that, it’s not like they’re playing some team like the Patriots or the Packers who they would give 100% no matter what. The Titans aren’t terrible, but they’ll hardly elicit strong enough emotion from the Bills for a 100% effort from them. The Bills are favorites here before being underdogs (at San Diego) and after a loss as underdogs, as they did last week in New York. Excluding teams coming off a bye, teams are 41-62 ATS in this situation since 2008, though only 15-20 ATS as favorites of less than 3. Still, I don’t like the Bills’ chances here to give 100%.
Even if they did give 100%, I’m not sure they’d win this game. The Titans are a decent team and the Bills are really not playing good football right now. They’ve just lost too many key guys to injury, including center Eric Wood and nose tackle Kyle Williams. They haven’t been the same since losing those two. They’ve also lost Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller couldn’t do anything on the ground in his absence last week against the Jets.
The Bills have lost 4 straight and I wouldn’t bet on them to win here as favorites over a decent Tennessee team. I don’t necessarily love Tennessee because I don’t have any big situations to back them up, but I feel confident enough to put a couple units on the money line. I’m not putting any on the spread because it’s so small and I get better juice with the money line. 1 point games are rare.
Chicago Bears 16 Kansas City Chiefs 10
Pick against spread: Kansas City +7.5 (-120) 2 units (+200)
I thought the Bears would be okay without Jay Cutler. They had a good running game and defense and a quarterback who looked good in the NFC Championship game last year. I was wrong. It really looks like his NFC Championship game performance was a fluke as Caleb Hanie really struggled against the Raiders, who don’t have the best defense. He committed 3 turnovers and struggled to move the ball even though the Raiders were selling out on the run to stop Matt Forte. Forte was kept in check and the Bears defense, though they played well, were just on the field too much to win.
The Chiefs have similar quarterback issues as Tyler Palko is terrible, but their defense looked pretty good against Pittsburgh. I expect another good defensive performance from a solid defensive bunch against a struggling offense. I don’t love Kansas City or anything, but I’m not taking a bad quarterback against a solid defense -7.5. No way.
I do have some trends to back me up. Teams are 27-13 ATS after a loss as 10+ home dogs since 2002, 12-7 ATS after covering, but not winning. In this situation, they are 18-12 ATS when on the road in their next game. The Chiefs are in this situation after losing to the Steelers as double digit dogs at home last week.
Meanwhile, the Bears are favorites before being underdogs most likely (at Denver next week) and after losing as underdogs to the Raiders. This is called a sandwich game. Even if they aren’t underdogs next week, they deserve to be and there is a very good chance the Bears could overlook the lowly Chiefs with a trip to Tebow Town next on schedule. Favorites before being underdogs and after losing as underdogs are 41-62 ATS since 2008, excluding teams coming off of a bye, 26-42 ATS as favorites of more than 3, 11-16 ATS as favorites of more than 7.
As I said earlier, I don’t love Kansas City. They’ve been blown out a lot in the past 2 years. Despite a modest 14-14 record in their last two seasons (including playoffs), they have a whopping 8 losses by 20+ points, including losses to a Broncos team that finished 4-12 last season, and a Dolphins team that is currently 3-8. However, I like them enough in this situation to put a couple units on them to cover, but not win.
Atlanta Falcons 24 Houston Texans 17
Pick against spread: Atlanta -3 (+105) 1 unit (-100)
Poor Texans. They’ve lost another quarterback for the season. Matt Schaub went down before their bye and Matt Leinart went down during last week’s win over the Jaguars. People are wondering how the Texans can possibly survive without Leinart. I’ll tell you how. He was Matt Leinart. Matt Leinart isn’t good. I don’t know too much about TJ Yates, but at the very least, he’s not worse than Matt Leinart.
The rookie Yates was a 5th round pick out of North Carolina of the Texans in April. He looked decent against the Jaguars, going 8 of 15 for 70 yards and closing out a 20-13 win over lowly division rival Jacksonville. In contrast to Matt Leinart, who went 12 of 16 for just 57 yards, Yates actually seemed interested and capable of throwing more than 5 yards downfield. As long as Yates doesn’t overstep his boundaries and allows the running game and defense to do their thing, the Texans won’t be any worse off with Yates than they were with Leinart.
Two things Leinart’s injury does is distort this line and allow the Texans to go into “nobody believes in us” mode. This line probably would have been Atlanta -1 with Leinart, yet shifts 2 points with Yates, which doesn’t make any sense because, as I said early, Yates isn’t worse than Leinart. We’re getting line value with Houston. Also, Houston should bring a high level of energy to make up for a backup quarterback starting. Nobody believes them right now and no one is more dangerous than a good team no one believes in. Atlanta could also overlook them.
All that being said, I’m taking Atlanta. I would have taken Atlanta even with Leinart in the lineup. I just think it’s one thing to beat Jacksonville with a mediocre/terrible quarterback. It’s another to beat a good team like Atlanta with a good quarterback. Atlanta is quietly playing good football of late, going 6-2 in their last 8, losing only to Green Bay and New Orleans and they had chances to win both of those games. They are on the road here, but they haven’t had too much trouble on the road on turf in the Mike Smith era, going 9-5 ATS in that situation. In total, including their home dome, they’re 28-16 ATS on turf under Mike Smith.
I would have picked Atlanta to beat Houston by about 7 regardless of whether TJ Yates or Matt Leinart made this start. However, I’m not betting heavily on Atlanta now that Yates is in the lineup. As I said early, we’re not getting any line value with Atlanta and the scariest thing in sports is a good team that feels no one believes in them. I’m putting 1 unit on Atlanta just because I think they win here and this line is still pretty small.
Oakland Raiders 27 Miami Dolphins 20 Upset Pick (+130)
Pick against spread: Oakland Raiders +2.5 (+105) 3 units (-300)
The Dolphins really haven’t looked too bad in their last 4. They beat up on 3 really crappy teams, the Chiefs, the Redskins, and the Bills, so I thought it was a fluke, but they hung with the Cowboys last week on Thanksgiving, only losing by 1 off a game winning field goal. They have 10 days to prepare for this game coming off a Thursday night game, a situation teams are 37-27 ATS in since 2008. Unfortunately for them, they haven’t done well off of a close loss in the Tony Sparano era, going 4-8 ATS after a loss of a touchdown or loss in that span since Sparano took over in 2008.
The Dolphins also now head home, where they play significantly worse football under Tony Sparano. As opposed to 20-10 ATS on the road, the Dolphins are just 9-21 ATS at home under Sparano. As favorites, they are 5-13 ATS under Sparano, as opposed to 21-17 ATS as dogs. Put those together and you find out that the Dolphins are 4-10 ATS as home favorites under Sparano.
The Dolphins have bucked all of those trends in their last 2 home games, costing me a lot of money, but doing it against the Redskins and the Bills is one thing. Doing it against the Raiders is another thing entirely. Besides, Vegas has caught onto them and is no longer underrating them. They were -4 at home for crappy Washington and -1.5 at home for slightly less crappy, but still crappy Buffalo. Now they’re -2.5 at home for Oakland, which suggests that Miami and Oakland are equal. If anything, they’re overrated now.
As I said earlier, beating Oakland at home won’t be like beating Washington or Buffalo. Both of those teams, which had similar lines coming in, suck. The Raiders might not be great, but they’re 7-4, though you could argue against their strength of schedule and quality of wins. They’re still at least a decent team. They do have to travel 3 time zones for a 1 PM ET start and they could be caught looking forward to the Packers next week, as teams are a lowly 3-8 ATS before playing the defending champs this year, which is most of the reason why this isn’t a huge bet, but I still like Oakland this week for several reasons, not limited to Miami’s struggles at home.
I don’t know what the Miami/Philadelphia in Miami line next week will be, but Miami is in a tough situation this week either way. If they’re favored in that one, they’re in their first of two as home favorites here, a situation teams are 29-44 ATS in since 2010. If they’re dogs in that one, then this game is a sandwich game for the Dolphins. They’d be favorites before being dogs and after losing as dogs. Teams in this situation are 41-62 ATS, excluding teams off a bye, since 2008.
Meanwhile, Oakland is coming off a win in which they allowed more than 21 points. Teams in this situation are 144-100 ATS since 2008. This might not make a ton of sense at first, but it does when you think about it. Good teams can allow a lot of points and still win, therefore, teams that do this are good. That means Oakland is good. I don’t know about good, but they’re at least average and they have less trends working against them here. Besides, I do find this line a little ridiculous. Miami is not as good as Oakland. It’s a pretty decent sized bet, 3 units, here on Oakland.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Cincinnati Bengals 10
Pick against spread: Pittsburgh -6.5 (-110) 3 units (+300)
The history in this divisional “rivalry” is staggeringly bad for the Bengals, hence rivalry in quotation marks. Under Marvin Lewis, the Bengals are 5-13 ATS against the Steelers, including 4-9 ATS in revenge games. For contrast, Marvin Lewis is actually 9-3 ATS in revenge games against all of the other NFC North teams combined, Baltimore and Cleveland. For more contrast, divisional dogs of 7+ are 42-31 ATS trying to get revenge for a loss as a dog. Not the Bengals against the Steelers, however. The Steelers are actually really good against teams trying to get divisional revenge in general, 13-8 ATS under Mike Tomlin and 20-12 ATS with Ben Roethlisberger.
The question now becomes, can the Bengals turn this around? They are playing better football this year, but I still like the Steelers in this one. The Bengals aren’t at full strength, missing cornerback Leon Hall. They lost to Baltimore and almost lost last week at home to the lowly Browns. They also lost by 7 to the Steelers in Cincinnati.
Speaking of that game, that line was -3 in favor of the Steelers and they covered. Shouldn’t this line be at least -9 instead of -6.5? We’re getting line value with the Steelers off of a sorry showing in a near loss in Kansas City. More on that later, but for now, I have to mention some other trends working for Pittsburgh and against Cincinnati.
The Steelers, like any good team should, get better as the season goes on. Ben Roethlisberger is 22-13 ATS after week 13 (including the playoffs), in his career. Ben Roethlisberger also has a very strong career divisional ATS record, as any good quarterback should, going 29-18 ATS in divisional games. Meanwhile, the Bengals are coming off a near win over a divisional opponent last week in the Browns. Teams coming off a divisional win of 4 or less are 36-53 ATS since 2008, with the logic being that they exhausted too much energy to win a close and meaningful (divisional) game. This is especially relevant for the Bengals, as they trailed and won in come back fashion, which takes a lot out of a team.
All of the trends don’t go for the Steelers. The Bengals are 15-8 ATS as dogs since 2009. They really seem to relish this underdog, spoiler role. Meanwhile, the Steelers are in their first of 2 as home favorites, a situation teams are 29-44 ATS in since 2010. However, the majority of the trends favor the Steelers.
Now back to the Steelers’ performance last week. I really do think it distorted this line at least 2 points, and my logic for that argument is mentioned earlier. However, I don’t think this matters. Mike Tomlin is very good off of a loss as favorites, going 11-6 ATS in that situation in his career. They didn’t lose last week, but that doesn’t mean he’s not an awesome motivator off of a disappointing performance. Off of a game in which they didn’t cover, Tomlin is 18-12 ATS.
The Steelers have had trouble covering as large favorites since 2009, as they are 5-8 ATS in this situation. This has been seen this year, with teams like the Jaguars, Colts, and Chiefs hanging within a few points of the Steelers, and it’s part of the reason why the Bengals are actually a publicly favored underdog. The majority of the money, and no small majority, is on the Bengals. In addition to getting to bet against a public dog (always a good thing), this does give us line value because as bad as Roethlisberger has been as big favorites, he always comes to play as large favorites within the division, going 10-4 ATS in this situation in his career.
I’ve outlined the many reasons why I like the Steelers this week. I’m taking them for 3. I think they bounce back from a poor performance against a bad team and continue their divisional dominance over the Bengals, who are overrated by Vegas, banged up, and a publicly backed underdog. I’m not taking them for any more than 3, however, because Andy Dalton is a pretty good quarterback who has hung within 7 of the Steelers and Ravens, but I still do really like this spot for the Steelers.
Carolina Panthers 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 Upset Pick (+150)
Pick against spread: Carolina +3 (+110) 3 units (+300)
Tampa Bay’s season is over and in heart breaking fashion. The now 4-7 Buccaneers led the Titans in Tennessee 17-10 late, but allowed 13 4th quarter points and turned the ball over on their last 2 drives, costing me 4 units in the process (Tampa Bay +3.5), and losing 23-17. They had high expectations coming into the season and actually led the division at one point, at 4-2, holding a tie breaker with the also 4-2 Saints. However, they’ve lost 5 straight and now sit 4 back of the Saints and 3 back of the Falcons. I find it very hard to believe they’re going to be able to give 100% this week, even against a divisional opponent like the Panthers, as their opponent is just 3-8.
On top of that, Tampa Bay is really bad at home under Raheem Morris, for some reason, 6-16 ATS since he took over in 2009 and 4-14 ATS as underdogs or favorites of 3 or less. I think Carolina can capitalize on this. They’ve played two divisional games so far, hanging within 3 of the Saints and leading the Falcons in their 4th quarter, before a few killer turnovers. The young, Cam Newton led Panthers play divisional opponents tough and have the type of offense to exploit a banged up Tampa Bay defense and win in a shoot out. It’s also worth noting that teams are 140-96 ATS in their 2nd of 2 road games since 2008. The Panthers are in this situation.
I don’t have a ton of trends for this, but I really think Tampa Bay is going to be flat this week and given their struggles at home under Raheem Morris, I think the Panthers have a very good chance of taking advantage of them and picking up a win here. Besides, they’re on 5 game losing streak. The atmosphere in the locker room must be terrible and I’m certainly not picking a bunch of losers to win straight up, let alone as favorites.
New York Jets 26 Washington Redskins 9
Pick against spread: NY Jets -3 (-110) 3 units (+300)
Rex Grossman played well against the Seahawks last week, completing 26 of 35 for 317 yards, 2 touchdowns, and unfortunately 2 interceptions. However, the Redskins still did win in Seattle, a very tough place to win. He looked decent the week before in a losing effort to the Cowboys, going 25 of 38 for 292 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a pick in their overtime loss to their division rivals. However, Grossman is still not a very good quarterback. He’s a turnover machine with 14 interceptions to 10 turnovers and he’s inconsistent. The fact that he was good last week means he’s due for a stinker this week. Actually, and this is an embarrassing stat for the organization, the fact that the Redskins won last week means they are due for a stinker. Since 2002, the Redskins are 22-44 ATS off of a win. Ouch.
Meanwhile, the Jets are really good off of a win in the Rex Ryan era, 16-9 ATS. Rex Grossman is due for a bad game, and who better to have it against them one of the best pass defenses in the league, the New York Jets. I don’t give Grossman much of a chance against Rex Ryan’s defense in what should be a blowout win.
A few other trends work against Washington. They are playing the Patriots next week and teams are 10-17 ATS before doing that since 2010, the 2nd worst record before playing any team in that time period. Weirdly, teams have the worst ATS record before playing Arizona, but maybe that’s just because they play so many crappy NFC West teams.
The Jets, meanwhile, are coming off a win after allowing 21+ points. Teams in this situation are 144-100 ATS, 91-57 ATS as favorites. One trend does work against the Jets, as they are coming off of a close divisional win. Teams are 36-53 ATS after a division win by 4 or fewer since 2008, 15-30 ATS as favorites, but given that there are other trends working for the Jets, I don’t have any problem betting them.
Besides, I really feel like this is going to be a blow out. As I said early, Rex Grossman is due for a bad game, as is this entire Redskins team if history is any indication. The Jets have a very good pass defense and should force several turnovers and keep the Redskins’ offense from moving the ball too much. Mark Sanchez is at his best when he doesn’t have to do a lot and if the Jets defense can dominate, it will keep Sanchez from having to do too much and allow the Jets to win comfortably. I have no problem taking them -3 here on the road.
Denver Broncos 17 Minnesota Vikings 10 Upset Pick (+100) 6 units Survivor Pick 10-2 (NE, PIT, BAL, GB, NYG, PHI, NO, SF, DAL, SD, ATL, NYJ) (+600)
Pick against spread: Denver +1 (-105) 0 units
All Tim Tebow has to do is win here to cover. And all Tim Tebow does is win. It’s really that easy. Tebow has won a whopping 4 straight games as underdogs, but Vegas doesn’t seem to have caught on as they’ve made him 1 point road underdogs to the 2-9 Minnesota Vikings without Adrian Peterson. Maybe Tim Tebow will have some trouble winning against a team that can legitimately put a lot of points on the board, but the Vikings are not one of those teams, especially not without Adrian Peterson. Oh, and the Broncos defense is pretty good too in large part because Von Miller is a beast.
There are some trends to support me. The Broncos are in their 2nd of 2 road games, a situation teams are 140-96 ATS in since 2008 before a home game. The Vikings, meanwhile, play the Lions next week. Favorites before being divisional dogs are 51-73 ATS since 2008, though 20-19 ATS as favorites of less than 3. Meanwhile, favorites before being divisional dogs and after losing as dogs (The Vikings lost in Atlanta last week) are 43-65 ATS since 2002 and 20-28 ATS as favorites of less than 3.
Drilling down deeper, favorites before being divisional dogs of 7+ (which the Vikings almost surely will be at Detroit next week) are 34-55 ATS since 2002, 17-27 ATS as favorites of less than 3. Favorites before being divisional dogs of 7+ and after losing as dogs are 12-23 ATS since 2002, 6-11 ATS as favorites of less than 3. The point is, the Vikings aren’t in a good situation.
I know this is getting boring because I’m picking the Broncos as my pick of the week every week, but I’m doing it again this week. Not a lot has been working for me this season, but I’ve bet on Tebow in all 6 of his starts and he’s gone 5-1 ATS, winning me 20 units in the process. I’m not changing that in his 7th start, especially since all he has to do is beat a bad team with no offense and there are trends to support him.
New England Patriots 38 Indianapolis Colts 6
Pick against spread: New England -20.5 (-105) 1 unit (-105)
Brady + Manning = yearly epic showdown. Brady + Orlovsky = 20.5 point line. It’s funny how one guy can change everything. For those wondering, this is the 5th time since 1989 that a line has been 21 or higher. No team has ever covered a line of 21+, going 0-4 ATS in those 4 games. 3 of those games actually featured Brady and the Patriots. They were amazingly 21+ point favorites three times in 2007, though they didn’t cover once.
So am I taking the Colts? Yeah, right. The Patriots are playing very good football right now on both ends of the field. They’ve scored 109 points in their last 3 games and haven’t allowed more than 25 points since week 3. Since their week 3 loss to the Bills, the Patriots defense is actually amazingly allowing only 18 points per game over their last 8. Given how bad Dan Orlovsky (who gets the start over Curtis Painter) is, the Colts could easily be held in single digits this week.
Meanwhile, the Colts’ defense sucks so the Patriots should score at least 30 again, probably more. The Patriots have won their last 3 by 18+ and If it wasn’t for a bullshit late score by Philadelphia against a prevent defense last week, they’d have won their last 3 by 21+ and those games were against the Jets, Chiefs, and Eagles, all of whom could beat the Colts with ease. The Patriots should cover this 21 point line here in blowout fashion. I honestly think we could see 62-7 here again. And if you think the Patriots won’t run up the score here, then you don’t know the Patriots. Oh, and fun fact (unless you’re a Colts fan) the Colts’ money line here is +1300 (+1400 at some places). That’s the definition of a long shot.
Cleveland Browns 16 Baltimore Ravens 13 Upset Pick (+235)
Pick against spread: Cleveland Browns +6.5 (-110) 3 units (-330)
The Ravens sit at 8-3 with wins over the Steelers (twice), the Matt Schaub Texans, the Jets, the Bengals, and now the 49ers. They should be the best team in the AFC, but they always play down to the level of the competition, losing to the Jaguars, the Titans, and the Seahawks on the road and needing a comeback to beat the Cardinals in Baltimore. Given that, the Browns have a chance here in a game that they really shouldn’t have a chance in.
The Ravens are coming off of a win on Thanksgiving over John Harbaugh’s brother Jim and the San Francisco 49ers, who were previously 9-1. Teams are 37-27 ATS since 2008 after Thursday Night Football, so the Ravens should have an edge, but they really haven’t played well off of wins this season. They’ve been very inconsistent so the fact that they won last week might actually hurt them this week, especially as they play a poor opponent.
As for the Browns, they have been playing a little better of late. They almost beat the Bengals last week. They also almost beat the Rams, losing by 1 on a missed chip shot field goal, and beat the Jaguars. None of those teams are as good as the Ravens, but as I said before, the Ravens tend to play down to the level of the competition so if they can hang within a few points of those opponents, they can hang within 6 of the Ravens here. The Browns are also in a very powerful situation, in their 2nd of 2 as divisional dogs of 6+. Teams in this situation are 17-7 ATS since 2002.
The Browns have a chance to win here given how badly the Ravens have played against bad opponents this season, so I’m putting one unit on the high money line. I’m also pretty confident they’ll cover since we’re being given 6.5 points with them. If the Ravens don’t play well, I find it hard to believe they’ll beat the Browns by more than 6. There’s also a strong trend with the Browns.
Dallas Cowboys 19 Arizona Cardinals 17
Pick against spread: Arizona Cardinals +4.5 (-110) 2 units (+200)
It’s December. Normally this is the most wonderful time of the year, but not for Tony Romo. Tony Romo’s struggles once the calendar turns December are well documented. Despite an 18-2 career record in the month of November, Romo is actually only 7-13 ATS from week 13 on. I guess you could call him The Grinch. Signature Romo in December games seem to be losing to bad teams. As a favorite, he’s just 9-7 straight up in the month of December, so he could easily lose here.
Normally, teams are 37-27 ATS since 2008 after Thursday Night Football. However, Tony Romo is just 1-4 ATS after the Cowboys’ annual Thanksgiving game. The Cardinals have it stacked against them a bit this week too, after a close divisional win last week. Teams are 36-53 ATS after a divisional win by 4 or fewer since 2008, but the Cowboys are no slouch of an opponent as I expect the Cardinals to still give a good effort. Dogs in that situation are just 21-23 ATS, so that pretty much neutralizes that trend. Besides, the Cardinals always give the Cowboys a good game, beating them in Arizona in 6 of their last 7 matchups.
Besides, I think the Cowboys are a bit overrated and the Cardinals are a bit underrated. The Cowboys have struggled with the Redskins and Dolphins in their past 2 weeks and that was in November when Romo is normally good. In fact, they’re 1-4 ATS in their last 5. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are 3-2 in their last 5 and almost beat Baltimore in Baltimore. I don’t know if Arizona can win, but I like them for a couple units to cover.
Green Bay Packers 34 New York Giants 17
Pick against spread: Green Bay Packers -7.5 (+100) 3 units (-300)
I found it funny during the MNF game that one of the commentators mentioned a quote from Tom Coughlin in which he said “if we don’t make the playoffs this year, it will be a historic collapse.” I found this funny because there would be nothing “historic” about it. The Giants do this every year. They start out great and inevitably slide in the 2nd half. This year they started 6-2 and now they are 6-5. In the first half of the season under Tom Coughlin, the Giants are 47-17 straight up, a winning percentage of 73.4%. In the 2nd half, they are 24-35 straight up, a winning percentage of 40.7%. That’s insane!
The Giants are really reeling right now and are coming off a huge loss on MNF, 49-24 to the Saints. Teams coming off a loss of 21+ on MNF are 11-23 ATs since 2002. The Giants looked demotivated last week and with 5 days to prepare, normally teams are unable to shake those low feelings.
Meanwhile, the Packers are undefeated and coming off a win on Thursday Night Football. The Giants have just 5 days to prepare. The Packers have 9. That obviously is an advantage for them. Teams are 37-27 ATS coming off Thursday Night Football since 2008. I did some research on teams coming off of Thursday Night Football playing teams coming off of Monday Night Football. There weren’t a lot of instances as the schedulers normally try to avoid such a scenario, but the team coming off Thursday Night Football is 9-5 ATS since 1989, 9-3 ATS against a team that lost on Monday. I know that’s not a lot to go on, but it’s enough and it makes sense that the Packers would have the advantage here.
Not like the Packers really need the advantage. Since 2009, they’re 32-16 ATS. That’s the best record in the league ATS since then. If you cut out the two games last year that Rodgers missed, they’re an even better 31-15 ATS. They’re undefeated for a reason. They’re playing out of their mind. They didn’t even look that good in Detroit and Atlanta against two quality opponents on the road and won both by double figures.
On top of that, the Packers are in their 2nd of 2 road games here. This is a situation teams are 140-96 ATS in before a home game since 2008. Road favorites after winning as road favorites, meanwhile, which the Packers are, are 41-24 ATS since 2002. The Packers are the best team in football by far and the Giants are reeling once again in the 2nd half. I don’t see the Packers having much trouble with them. If this line were 7 and not 7.5, I’d put 4 on it, but I’m putting 3 on it here.
San Francisco 49ers 20 St. Louis Rams 10
Pick against spread: St. Louis +13 (-110) 1 unit (-110)
The 49ers loss to the Ravens in Baltimore on Thanksgiving raised some doubts about their ability to play with the big boys, though it was almost unfair that they had to travel on 3 days rest across the country to play one of the best teams in the league. We’ll get a better feel for this team when they play Pittsburgh in a couple weeks. However, the Rams are not one of the big boys. In fact, the way they’re playing right now, they’re a bunch of little babies. They’re 2-9 and 0-3 in the lowly NFC West against such teams as Seattle and Arizona.
The 49ers are now well rested. Teams are 37-27 ATS since 2008 after Thursday Night Football. They’re also in their first of two as divisional favorites, a situation teams are 84-56 ATS in since 2002. The Rams, meanwhile, are on the road. Excluding the 2011 49ers, NFC West teams are just 19-31 ATS on the road in the last 2 years and 11-19 ATS on the road within the division since 2009.
The Rams are also dogs and rightfully so. NFC West teams are 25-17 ATS as divisional favorites since 2008, while the Rams are just 3-7 ATS as divisional dogs under Steve Spagnuolo. All that said, I’m taking the Rams, but only for a unit because they have so much working against them. This line is very big and the 49ers aren’t built to blow teams out. They should win by 10 or so, but I’m not willing to lay 13 with this team against anyone.
New Orleans Saints 34 Detroit Lions 20
Pick against spread: New Orleans -9 (-105) 2 units
Remember when the Lions were 5-0? Good times. The Lions now sit at 7-4 and the playoffs are in serious jeopardy. They’ll also be without Ndamukong Suh who slammed an offensive lineman’s helmet into the turf 3 times and then stepped on his arm…er I mean tripped…and was hit with a 2 game suspension.
Their 2 wins since their 5-0 start were against the Panthers in a game that they trailed big early and against the Broncos before they made their offense more Tebow friendly. They looked awful against Green Bay, got blown out by Chicago, and also lost at home to San Francisco and Atlanta, two teams that had worse records than them coming in. Their struggles didn’t start after week 5, however. They needed comebacks to beat Dallas and Minnesota and didn’t really look that good on MNF against the Bears, who were 2-3 at that point.
The Lions also are an immature team that has not handled adversity well this season. When they trailed in their biggest game of the season, Suh responded with the kind of violence that doesn’t belong on the football field. When they lost their first game of the season, Jim Schwartz blew up at Jim Harbaugh because his handshake was too strong. And, of course, they really haven’t played well at all since their first loss, another sign of a team that can’t handle adversity. They may be coming off of Thursday Night Football, a situation teams are 37-27 ATS in since 2008, but I really don’t like them in this situation coming off their biggest loss of the season.
Meanwhile, the Saints are rolling, after a 49-24 win on MNF football. Teams normally carry that emotional high over well into their next game, even on short rest. Teams are 24-11 ATS off a MNF win of 21+ since 2002. This isn’t a huge bet because the Lions have had more time to prepare for this game than the Saints and teams coming off Thursday games are 9-5 ATS against teams coming off Monday games since 1989 (though 0-2 ATS against teams coming off a Monday win) and because it’s such a big line, but I like the Saints for a couple.
Jacksonville Jaguars 16 San Diego Chargers 13 Upset Pick (+125) 2 units
Pick against spread: Jacksonville Jaguars +1.5 (+105) 0 units
In the past week, the Jaguars have fired their head coach and sold the team. I don’t think the organization has been this newsworthy in…ever. The Jaguars are bad anyway at 3-8 and they could easily be very distracted in this one. In the last 17 instances, teams are 5-12 ATS the week after firing their Head Coach midseason and I don’t think any of those teams were sold midweek.
On top of that, the Jaguars really don’t care about anything other than divisional opponents. Since 2008, the Jaguars are 5-15 ATS after a divisional game and 1-9 ATS after a divisional loss. In that same time period, they are 12-25 ATS against non-divisional foes. In all under Jack Del Rio, they went 19-30 ATS after a divisional opponent. Del Rio is gone, but I doubt that culture will change all that quickly.
That being said, I refuse to bet on the Chargers as favorites. They’re a bunch of losers. They have lost 6 straight and their 4 wins came against the Kyle Orton Broncos, the Donovan McNabb Vikings, the Chad Henne Dolphins, and the Chiefs who got revenge on them and all 4 of those wins were by 10 or less. There’s no other way to put it. Until they fire Norv Turner, they’re a bunch of losers. They’re not bad players, they’re just losers and I refuse to bet on them as favorites.
Besides, the Chargers are in a bad situation here as well. Philip Rivers is just 3-10 ATS as non-divisional road favorites in his career and 1-8 ATS with Norv Turner as his Head Coach. The Chargers had to travel all the way across the country for this game and the Jaguars could play off the energy of the home crowd and win the way they did against Baltimore at home on MNF earlier this season (who gave the Jaguars two MNF games?!).
LV Hilton Super Contest: Denver +1.5, Seattle +3, Green Bay -7, NY Jets -3, Pittsburgh -6.5 (25-34)