2011 Week 2 Picks

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May 122012


All spreads from Bodog, all money lines from 5dimes

Last week overall: 8-8

Last week ATS: 6-9-1 (-920/-7 units)

Overall picks: 8-8 (.500)

ATS Picks: 6-9-1 (-920/-7 units)

Lock picks: 1-0

Upset picks: 1-3 (-105)

I sucked last week. I’m sorry. Weeks like this happen, especially week 1. I put a lot of work into making sure this week is better. I researched more trends and found a continuous problem I had betting on road favorites, typically not a lucrative situation. I also have a better feel for the teams. So let’s see how this turns out. Remember, if you had listened to me all last year, you would have made an amount of money greater in size to your original bankroll. You do not need an online masters in criminal justice to make your football betting decisions, just a little time and research. There are a lot of people online with advice for this but I know the teams and games and plan to have a great year. Even with a MBA information technology and limitless information on the internet, it all comes down to how much you know about the game. So hang with me. 

New Orleans Saints 23 Chicago Bears 20

Pick against spread: Chicago +7 (-120) 3 units (-360)

This is a matchup of the team that finished 2nd in the NFC South in 2010 and the team that finished 1st in the NFC North in 2010. Chicago is coming off a win against the team that finished 1st in the NFC South in 2010 and New Orleans is coming off a loss to the team that finished 2nd in the NFC North in 2010. New Orleans doesn’t stand a chance right? Wrong. Though the Saints finished 2nd in the NFC South last year, they look like the best team in the division right now as Atlanta continued its late season struggles from 2010 in week 1 of this season. Meanwhile, the Bears are the 2nd best team in the NFC North at best after Green Bay won the Super Bowl last year. The Saints are also at home in this game, where they don’t often lose.

However, I’m not so sure the Saints will cover. The Saints haven’t fared well as 7+ point favorites in the past 2 years. They’re 6-12 ATS in that situation. They’re also coming off an emotional loss to the Packers in the season opener. Since the 2004, when the NFL started having the Super Bowl champion play on the opening Thursday night, teams coming off a week 1 Thursday night loss are a mere 2-5 ATS in the next week. Meanwhile, Chicago looks to have fixed things up in the offseason. Their offensive line isn’t quite as bad and Jay Cutler looks like a completely different quarterback and one I’m no longer terrified to bet on, especially as an underdog. I don’t think they’re 4 points worse than the Saints like this line suggests.

Detroit Lions 27 Kansas City Chiefs 10

Pick against spread: Detroit -9 (-105) 1 unit (+100)

The Bills +6 over the Chiefs were my big play week 1, but even I didn’t expect the outcome of that game. The Bills dominated the Chiefs 41-7, meaning in the Chiefs last 3 games that mattered (week 17 last season against Oakland, AFC Wild Card against Baltimore, and the opener this year against Buffalo), they have been outscored by 102-24. I’m actually not happy they lost by that much. They have been exposed as complete frauds after somehow making the playoffs last season. I no longer feel like have some sort of secret. There’s not going to be as much value betting against them going forward this year. In one week, they go from 6 point favorites over a 4 win team from 2010 to 9 point underdogs to a 6 win team from 2010.

Granted, the Lions, that 6 win team, are better than that would suggest. Matt Stafford is back and healthy and they appear to have one of the better passing attacks in the league. They also have a fantastic pass rush. This is the type of game Kansas City does horribly in. The Lions could jump out to an early lead, aiding by the Chiefs missing safety Eric Berry for the season, force the Chiefs to give up on their bread and butter, the run, and allow the Lions’ pass rush to gun for Cassel on every play. Cassel doesn’t do well under pressure and the Chiefs offensive line is ridiculously terrible.

However, I’m a bit nervous about betting the Lions as 9 point favorites. This is a situation they haven’t been in since 2000 (they didn’t cover) and they’ve struggled mightily as a favorite of any kind in recent years (4-7 ATS). However, they’re also much more talented than they’ve been in recent years and the Chiefs flat out suck. They covered on several occasions as favorites last season, including week 17 against the Vikings. In fact, they’ve actually covered in their last 3 instances as favorites. They’re getting better and it shows.

New York Jets 17 Jacksonville Jaguars 12

Pick against spread: Jacksonville +9 (-105) 2 units (-210)

The Jets pulled out another close win last week against the Cowboys. I don’t know how they do it. They always seem to pull one out right at the end and I think it’s time we stopped seeing them as just lucky, but rather a team that’s just good at pulling out close wins. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars won this week just 5 days after cutting their starting quarterback. For those of you keeping track, the Jaguars are now 2-0 straight up the week after they cut their starting quarterback in the Jack Del Rio era. What a weird organization!

The Jets may be great at pulling out close wins, but they aren’t small favorites here. They’re favored by 9 points. They won 13 games last season, including the playoffs. 4 of those wins were by more than 9 points (New England week 2 before they got everything together, the then winless Bills week 4, the lowly Bengals week 12 in a game they trailed at half time, and the Bills again week 17 in a weird game where they didn’t even play their starters). Winning big is just not this team’s MO. In the Rex Ryan era, they’re 1-3 ATS as 7+ point favorites. If it wasn’t for the Jaguars poor ATS record out of the division (10-20 ATS since 2008), this would be a bigger play.

Buffalo Bills 27 Oakland Raiders 13

Pick against spread: Buffalo -3.5 (+100) 4 units (-400)

I’m surprised Buffalo isn’t a bigger favorite here. They’re coming off a 34 point victory over the Chiefs and yet they’re only 3.5 point favorites here at home over a Raider team that had more penalties and penalty yards than completions and passing yards last week (15 penalties for 131 yards, 13 completions for 105 yards). Vegas is obviously not sold on Buffalo yet. I think there’s still value with them.

By all indications, this is a 7 to 9 win team. They’re not terrible anymore. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent quarterback at worst and they have a rebuilt front 7 with Marcell Dareus and the resurrection of Shawne Merriman. They’re not just a half point better than Oakland which is what this line is saying (remember, 3 points are added since the Bills are at home).

On top of all this, the Raiders have a short week after Monday Night Football, and have to play a 1 PM game in the eastern time zone as a west coast team, a situation that isn’t kind to teams, including the Raiders. They’re 1-4 ATS in these situations in the past 2 years. On top of this, they’re coming off a close (3 points or less) road win. Teams in this situation are 23-47 ATS since 2000.


Washington Redskins 31 Arizona Cardinals 23

Pick against spread: Washington -4.5 (-105) 2 units (-210)

I’ll admit it. I thought Mike Shanahan was losing it when he benched Donovan McNabb, who he had acquired for a 2nd and a 4th round pick, for Rex Grossman, a former bust first round pick. Last week, Rex Grossman threw for 305 yards in a win. Donovan McNabb threw for 39 in a loss. Whoops! Anyway, Rex Grossman should have another strong game. The Cardinals gave up 422 passing yards to Cam Newton, a rookie quarterback with 14 college starts on the road in a lockout shortened offseason. They can’t get to the quarterback and they can’t cover anyone.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are playing a 1 PM ET time game on the East Coast as a West Coast team. This is a situation teams are 33-52 ATS in since 2003. The Cardinals are 1-5 in this situation in the past 3 years. Also, I’m not sure this line is right. The Redskins are only 1.5 point better than Arizona? Really. Kevin Kolb is a decent quarterback, but they have no pass defense and a terrible offensive front. This is far from a complete team, while the Redskins looked very good last week. They’re also in their 2nd straight home game. Teams who start the season with two straight home games are 19-11 ATS since 2000.

Baltimore Ravens 20 Tennessee Titans 9

Pick against spread: Baltimore -6.5 (-105) 1 unit (-105)

I don’t like betting on road favorites, especially road favorites of 3+. That has been one of my mistakes in the past and I’m hoping to clean that up. The reason betting on road favorites is not lucrative is simple. They’re typically trap bets. You see, NY Giants -3 over Washington at Washington and say, wow New York is definitely 3 points better than Washington and bet it. However, you forget to take home field fully into account. That line actually means New York is 6 points better than Washington. Plus, home underdogs tend to play with a chip on their shoulder.

However, but I’m not betting on the Titans. The Titans suck. Matt Hasselbeck didn’t look good in the opener, which makes sense because he’s almost 36 old and learning a completely new offense in 7 weeks after spending most of his career in Seattle. Chris Johnson didn’t look great, partly because they didn’t fix their terrible offensive line in the offseason, and partly because he held out in the offseason and didn’t get to practice with the team. Their defense also didn’t play well. Kenny Britt was seriously the only Titans who had a good week last week.

Meanwhile, Baltimore cemented themselves as one of the elites in the league last week. They won 12 games last year and after blowing out the Steelers by 4 touchdowns last week, they look poised to win that many games again. I’m taking them but only for a unit.

Pittsburgh Steelers 20 Seattle Seahawks 9 Lock Pick

Pick against spread: Seattle +15 (-110) 3 units (-330)

The Steelers lost by 28 points last week and yet they come back this week and are favored by 15 points. I know the Seahawks are bad, but most teams who are double digit underdogs against a team coming off a loss are and those teams are 62-36 ATS since 2002. Besides, it’s not like the Steelers possess an explosive offense or anything. They ranked 12th in points last year. I don’t like taking teams like this as big favorites. The only reason this isn’t a 4 or 5 unit pick is because it’s the Seahawks. They suck. For this reason, the Steelers are actually my straight up lock pick this week. Tarvaris Jackson vs. the Steelers? Anyone give him any chance to win? I didn’t think so.

Green Bay Packers 31 Carolina Panthers 23

Pick against spread: Carolina +10.5 (-115) 3 units (+300)

The Packers won the Super Bowl last year. They spent the offseason celebrating capped off with a win week 1 at home against the Saints in the first NFL regular season game of the season. This is a pretty familiar story. The last 7 Super Bowl champions have done it. They win the Super Bowl, they celebrate, they win week 1 in front of an emotional home crowd.

Then what? Well, of those 7 Super Bowl champions, only two covered the next week. They get knocked back to reality so to speak. The Packers are riding high right now. It’s safe to say the Packers probably won’t put forth much effort against the lowly Panthers. I also like that this line is so big. Betting on home double digit underdogs, isn’t necessarily a highly lucrative situation, but in certain cases I think it is, and this is one of them.

Their pass defense looks like it could be a legitimate problem this season. Drew Brees threw for 419 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no picks last week against them. I realize Drew Brees is really good, but there’s still reason to be concerned there. Cam Newton should have a decent game against them after setting the rookie passing yards record on the road last week. That’ll keep this one close.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 Minnesota Vikings 13 Upset Pick (+140)

Pick against spread: Tampa Bay +3 (-110) 4 units (+400)

The Buccaneers and the Vikings are equal? Huh? That’s what this line says. The Vikings lost in San Diego in a game where Donovan McNabb threw for 39 yards. 39 yards! If it wasn’t for a Percy Harvin return and a huge game by Adrian Peterson (only 98 yards, but that’s very impressive considering he only got 16 carries and the Vikings were unable to get in a rhythm running the ball trailing for most of the game).

I don’t know if he can count on both of those things this week. Harvin obviously isn’t going to return a touchdown every week. He’s not that good. No one is. Meanwhile, Peterson is really, really good, but with the exception of one 46 yard run, he had 52 yards on 15 carries last week. This isn’t a knock on Peterson’s talent, but Minnesota’s offensive line is horrible. He’s talented enough to break a big one every once in a while, but he’ll struggle on most carries between the tackles because of his blocking. Take away that kick return and that 46 yard Peterson run, which set up a 3 yard McNabb touchdown throw, and the Vikings score 3 points last week.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers almost beat Detroit last week. Detroit is a good team. A lot of people will say, they lost at home, they’re an iffy bet on the road, even against the lowly Vikings. Well, those people would have lost a lot of money on this team last year. The Bucs were a mere 4-4 at home, but somehow went 6-2 on the road. They beat New Orleans in New Orleans and hung within a touchdown of Atlanta and Baltimore on their home fields.

They also only lost once last year to a sub .500 team (Detroit who was in the middle of a 4 game winning streak). Minnesota is almost certainly a sub .500 team. Oh, and they got better in the offseason with key guys coming back from injury and a strong draft. They should have no problem this week.

Cleveland Browns 24 Indianapolis Colts 19

Pick against spread: Cleveland -3 (+110) 1 unit (+100)

Remember when I had the Browns winning 11 games on the strength of a weak schedule and making the playoffs. Good times. They still have an easy schedule, but all of a sudden, the Peyton Manning less Colts, the Dolphins, the Titans, the Raiders, the Seahawks, and the Jaguars don’t seem like such easy games if you can’t beat the Bengals. Colt McCoy had a great preseason, but couldn’t even complete 50% of his passes in the opener (19-40), while the Browns’ weak front 7 made Cedric Benson look like…well not Cedric Benson.

I’m picking the Browns here. I don’t like overreacting to one week and I think the Browns could still have a decent season with how easy their schedule is. The Colts aren’t any good either. Kerry Collins is a traditionally slow starter and probably doesn’t have the playbook completely down yet. They won’t go 0-16 like some are saying. They’ll win some games, but they’ll come later in the season. However, I’m not putting any more than a unit on this. I don’t trust the Browns right now.

Miami Dolphins 23 Houston Texans 20 Upset Pick (+130)

Pick against spread: Miami +3 (-110) 3 units (-330)

Home underdog alert, that would be Miami in this case. However, they lost as a home underdog last week, so they’ll lose this week too right? Not so fast. Not only are teams who open the season with two straight home games 19-11 ATS week 2 since 2000, the Dolphins are home underdogs in back-to-back weeks. They haven’t had to leave home yet and they’re angry and motivated by being underdogs at home in back to back weeks.

Meanwhile, the Texans are coming off an emotional blowout victory over the Indianapolis Colts. I know Peyton Manning didn’t play, but that didn’t matter. They ran the score up in that game. They wanted that win so badly. Now they have a relatively easy test against Miami before playing the Saints and the Steelers. They won’t be 100%.

Also, there’s a chance Arian Foster won’t play this week either. They didn’t need him last week, anyone can run on the Colts, but the Dolphins had one of the best run defenses in the league last year. The Texans will need Foster back if they have any chance of running on Miami. Besides, if there’s two things the Texans haven’t done well in their franchise history it’s cover as road favorites (2-5 ATS), and cover after a win (16-29 ATS).

There are 3 reasons this isn’t a 5 unit selection. 1, Miami was 1-7 last year at home. That has to mean something right? 2, they’re coming off of 14 point loss on MNF. Teams coming off a 17+ point loss on MNF are 17-35 ATS the following week. 14 isn’t 17, but it’s close enough to be concerned. 3, Chad Henne is one of the most inconsistent players on the planet. He was good last week, so logic says he’ll struggle this week.

Dallas Cowboys 31 San Francisco 49ers 17

Pick against spread: Dallas -3 (-135) 2 units (+0)

Huh? The Cowboys are only 6 points better than the 49ers? That’s what this line says. I know the Cowboys lost last week and the 49ers won, but the Cowboys outplayed an above average team in the Jets in New York for 50 minutes before spontaneously combusting, while the 49ers led by a mere 2 points at home over quite possibly the worst team in the league in Seattle before Ted Ginn Jr. improbably scored twice on special teams in just over a minute.

So why am I not all over the Cowboys? Well, for one thing, I’m going to stay away from road favorites from now on, at least betting heavily on them. Also, this feels like a trap line. San Francisco is a good home team (at least in comparison to how they are on the road), while the Cowboys are coming off a crushing opening game loss and might not be trustworthy going forward after how they imploded. However, I’m certainly not going to bet on the 49ers to win and this line is small enough (3) that I have to at least think the 49ers have a good chance at winning to bet on them.

I’m taking Dallas. The only reason this isn’t a mere 1 unit bet is that the Cowboys are in their 2nd straight road game, normally a fairly lucrative betting situation, especially coming off of a loss. Teams tend to be undervalued by Vegas in that situation and cover at a decent 60% clip since 1996, a fairly long time. The Cowboys won in this situation last season under Jason Garrett so that also helps me make this a 2 unit bet.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 Denver Broncos 13 Upset Pick (+185)

Pick against spread: Cincinnati +4.5 (-110) 3 units (+300)

As pathetic as the Raiders were week 1, with more penalty yards than passing yards, the Broncos were even more pathetic, mostly because they lost to the Raiders. They couldn’t stop the run (33 carries for 188 yards by Raider running backs), they couldn’t run (12 carries for 25 yards by Bronco running backs), they fumbled 4 times, losing 2 and committing 3 turnovers, along with 10 penalties of their own. Kyle Orton barely completed 50% of his passes (24 for 46) and the crowd predictably soured on him with chants of “TEBOW TEBOW.”

After all that, they’re favorites. Huh? The Bengals aren’t great, but they did win last week and they’re better than 1.5 points worse than Denver. The Broncos can’t run or stop the run. This is bad for this matchup. Andy Dalton isn’t a very good quarterback, but the Bengals won week 1 because Cedric Benson, freshly released from prison, ran for 121 yards and a score on 25 carries. That took the pressure off of Dalton. That should happen again this week. Meanwhile, Kyle Orton isn’t a very good quarterback either. If the Broncos can’t run, he doesn’t play well. The Broncos couldn’t run last week and I don’t see that being any different this week.

On top of that, two trends go in favor of Cincinnati big time. One, Denver is 2-14 ATS as favorites of 3.5+ since 2008. This is hilarious, but also pathetic. Two, Marvin Lewis is 9-4 ATS in the 2nd of back to back road games. This spread might have been 6 points had Champ Bailey’s status not been in doubt for this game and I would have made this a 4 or 5 unit pick at least in that case because teams that finish with 6 wins or fewer are terrible as 6+ point favorites.

However, Bailey’s likely absence still definitely hurts the Broncos. He’s their only good defensive back. Without him, they can’t stop the run or the pass and as the great John Madden would say, if you can’t stop the run or the pass, you probably can’t stop the other team’s offense. I’m still taking Cincinnati for 3. The Broncos suck as 3.5+ point favorites, the Bengals are good in the 2nd of two road games, the Broncos don’t match up well with the Bengals, the Broncos don’t deserve to be more than a field goal favorite over anyone right now, and the Broncos are coming off a deflating week 1 loss to an archrival.

The Broncos are at home in the 2nd of two home games to start the season and a good home team, but I think Kyle Orton would probably rather be on the road than at home right now to be honest. No one’s chant his backup’s name on the road. I’m taking the Bengals for 3.

New England Patriots 31 San Diego Chargers 28

Pick against spread: San Diego +7 (-105) 1 unit (-105)

At first glance, San Diego looks like a smart pick here. Philip Rivers is 12-4 ATS as an underdog and the Patriots just gave up over 400 yards to Chad Henne. However, Philip Rivers is 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS against Tom Brady including the playoffs in his career. That one ATS win by the way came as a 14 point underdog in the playoffs. I’m still going with Philip Rivers. 7 points is a lot and I’m not sold on New England’s defense this year, but I’m not making this a big play.

Atlanta Falcons 31 Philadelphia Eagles 26 Upset Pick (+135)

Pick against spread: Atlanta +3 (-125) 4 units

The Falcons lost last week, unfortunate for me since I picked them. However, that was kind of predictable. The Falcons struggle on the road, outside, against quality opponents. Two of their 3 losses in 2010 were outside in Pittsburgh and in Philadelphia. They also lost to New England in New England, the Giants in New York, and Carolina in Carolina in 2009, so this is nothing new. 5 of Matt Ryan’s last 8 regular season losses have been on the road outside and aside from Carolina, all of those have been quality opponents.

That was my mistake. I underestimated the Bears and didn’t think they were a quality opponent. I also made the mistake of betting on a road favorite, something I’m aware of this week. Oh well, live and learn. One positive did come from the Falcons loss to the Bears. Vegas is now really underrating them so much so that they’re home underdogs now. Matt Ryan has lost at home 3 times in 3 years, including the playoffs.

Remember when I said I’d stay away from road favorites? Well, the Eagles are road favorites and not just road favorites, but road favorites in a tough place to play. Besides, I’m not so sure the Dream Team should be sitting pretty right now. They struggled in the preseason. Jeremy Maclin is still not 100%. Their offensive line is terrible once again and teams seem to have figured out Michael Vick. Vick was 14 of 32 against St. Louis’ banged up secondary last week. The only reason they won was because St. Louis suffered a ton of injuries and shot themselves in the foot countless times. I don’t believe in this team’s ability to win in Atlanta as favorites. I say both of these teams will be 1-1 at the end of this.

St. Louis Rams 24 New York Giants 21 Upset Pick (+180)

Pick against spread: St. Louis +4.5 (-110) 2 units

Rams. Giants. The injury bowl on Monday Night Football. Let’s look at the injury reports. Osi Umenyiora for the Giants, out. Prince Amukamara for the Giants, out. Terrell Thomas for the Giants, out for the season. Jonathan Goff for the Giants, out for the season. Marvin Austin for the Giants, out for the season. Hakeem Nicks for the Giants, probably out. Steven Jackson for the Rams, out. Danny Amendola for the Rams, out. Bradley Fletcher for the Rams, probably out. Ron Bartell for the Rams, out for the season. Jason Smith for the Rams, possibly out. Sam Bradford for the Rams…he’ll play, so it could be worse, but not much.

I was hoping this line would be somewhere over 6. I think the Giants have a really good chance to finish 6-10 with early injuries and a brutal 2nd half schedule and teams that finish 6-10 are terrible at covering as 6+ point favorites. Unfortunately, this line is 4.5 so it’s not close enough for me to use that.

However, I still feel like this line is too high. The Rams were one of the best ATS teams last year and I think they’re still being underrated this season. Meanwhile, Vegas doesn’t seem to realize how badly the Giants are hurting. They aren’t just missing those guys with injuries, they lost 2 starting offensive lineman, their starting tight end, their slot receiver, and a starting defensive tackle in the offseason. They looked horrible last week.

Also, don’t discount Steve Spagnuolo’s impact as St. Louis’ head coach. He used to be a New York coordinator so that gives them an advantage. Teams employing a former assistant of their opponent (provided the opponent has not since changed regimes), were 7-3 ATS last season.

LV Hilton Super Contest Picks (for anyone playing: Tampa Bay +3, Buffalo -3, Chicago +6.5, Atlanta +2.5, St. Louis +5.5 (2-3 on the season) 


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