Last week overall: 12-4
Last week ATS: 9-7 (+230/+6%)
Overall picks: 168-88 (.656)
ATS Picks: 136-113-7 (+$2680)
Lock picks: 12-5
Upset picks: 32-35 (+1538)
Week 17 recap: I managed to make money ($230 or 6%) despite losing a 5 unit and a 4 unit pick in my lowest money 16 game week of the season. This is because I nailed my 2nd 6 unit pick of the season. New England -3 at home over Miami seemed too good to be true, but it wasn’t and it came through huge for me this week.
I only had 5 picks of 3 or more units this week, because of how uncertain week 17 can be. Despite dropping my 5 unit (St. Louis -3 over Seattle) and my 4 unit (Arizona +6.5 over San Francisco), I was 3-2 in those 5 picks, hitting with New England as well as Oakland +4 over Kansas City and Tampa Bay +9.5 over New Orleans for 3 units a piece.
I want to comment on the St. Louis game and all of the terrible calls made by the officials. I’m not blaming my lost 5 units on the refs. I still think the Seahawks win that game even with correct officiating, but the officiating was horrible and needs to be mentioned.
The refs missed an off sides call on Aaron Curry in which Curry was actually looking around for a flag after the play, expecting to be called off sides. Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels (best football announcers on the planet) blasted the refs for missing this call. They also missed a low block on a punt and a pass interference call, both on the Seahawks.
Finally, they called a first down at least 1 yard short of the sticks, causing Al Michaels to scream “they gave him a first down?!?!” Now of course Steve Spagnuolo could have challenged the spot of the ball (as well as a very borderline out of bounds call on what looked like a clean catch), but someone seems to have stolen all of his red flags, because he didn’t throw one all night.
Overall, I was 9-7 on the week bringing me to 136-113-7 on the season against the spread, which I am pleased with, as this is my first season doing against the spread. I went 12-4 on the week straight up, bringing me to 168-88 straight up on the year (65.6%). Last year I finished 166-90, so I made a two game improvement. In 2008, I went 153-102-1.
This week I split four upset picks, hitting Oakland over Kansas City (+180) and Dallas over Philadelphia (+135) and dropping Washington over the Giants and Jacksonville over Houston. This brought my upset pick record to 32-35 on the season. Betting $100 on each of those games’ money lines, I would have made $1538 on the season, in addition to $2680 from my ATS picks (betting roughly $4500-$5000 per week). Last year, I went 19-29 on upsets and in 2008 I went 21-27.
On lock picks, I went 12-5 this year, down a game from 13-4 in 2009, and down 2 from 14-3 in 2008, which I find interesting. I don’t assign any monetary value to this record because I don’t think anyone should bet on a favorite on a money line, but it’s helpful for survivor pools.
I kept track of how I well or poorly I picked teams’ games this year and I actually used these in my picks some weeks.
I won 10 or more times betting on the following teams’ games
New England (11-4-1)
NY Jets (12-4)
San Diego (11-5)
Tampa Bay (10-4-2)
I lost 10 or more times with the following teams
New Orleans (6-10)
I like that ratio. I will keep a more in depth list of this on my site next year (record betting on a team, record betting against a team, total record betting on a team’s games, total money made betting on a team’s games, total money made betting against a team, total money made betting on a team). Overall, I was pleased with how I did this season and I hope I made some people some money. I will continue to post playoff picks and playoff ATS picks, but the bulk of the handicapping is over for this season.
First a note on betting on the playoffs, if you bet on every game in a week with 4 games, you have a 6.25% chance of losing all of your money. Remember that and be sure that you can be comfortable laying that much on a single week. If you bet $4000 a week in the regular season, but aren’t comfortable with the 6.25% chance that you lose $4000, don’t bet $4000. If there’s only 2 games being played, you have a 25% chance of going broke and, obviously, in the Super Bowl, a 50% chance.
New Orleans Saints 26 Seattle Seahawks 20
Spread: New Orleans -10.5
Pick against spread: Seattle 5 units (+500)
The Seahawks are the worst team to ever make the playoffs and only made the playoffs because of where they are located. You can read more about it here. However, this spread still doesn’t make sense. Even terrible teams haven’t been double digit home underdogs this year. The Seattle Seahawks are the first team to be underdogs by 10+ at home all season.
This seems like a trap line, feeding off the public overreaction to the Seahawks making the playoffs. With roughly 80% of the public betting on New Orleans, this trap seems to be doing its job. Another prominent trap line was in Super Bowl 42. The Patriots were double digit favorites on a neutral field. That line prayed on the public’s belief that the New York Giants were the worst team to ever make the Super Bowl and that the Patriots were awesome and invincible. A lot of people lost a lot of money that day.
The way Vegas lines work in the NFL is that Vegas determines which team is the better team and by how many points. Then they give the road team 3 points. That means this line would be -16.5 in New Orleans, easily the highest line of the season. That doesn’t make any sense because this line was -11.5 when these two met in New Orleans week 11. Seattle only lost that one by 15, a mere 3.5 ATS loss. And that wasn’t like they didn’t have a shot. The Seahawks had 494 yards of total offense in that 34-19 loss, but two costly and poorly timed Marshawn Lynch fumbles doomed them.
Now the Saints are expected to go into Seattle and win by 11. That’s no easy task. Even with their 7-9 record, the Seahawks are 5-3 at home. The Saints may be 6-2 on the road, but let’s look at their road games that were played outside, rather than in a dome. They beat San Francisco by 3. They had a huge blowout over the Buccaneers, who weren’t great at the time. They had a huge blowout over the Panthers (who didn’t). They beat Cincinnati by 4 and they lost to Baltimore. There are drawbacks to playing in a dome at home. Teams with home domes tend to struggle outside on the road.
The Saints have to make a fairly long journey to Seattle and play in one of the loudest stadiums in the nation. The Seahawks are going to have the momentum in this one. They are coming off an energizing win over the Rams and now people (including myself) are saying they don’t belong in the playoffs. That’s got to be motivation for them in this home playoff game. The Saints, meanwhile, could easily overlook the Seahawks here. The Saints are also possibly without Marques Colston, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, Jeremy Shockey, and Jimmy Graham. If any of those 5 do play, they’ll be limited by injury. Drew Brees won’t have the weapons he normally does.
Finally, while the Seahawks are the worst team to ever make the playoffs, other bad teams have made the playoffs before. The 9-7 Arizona Cardinals in 1998 made the playoffs with a differential of -53. They ended up winning their road playoff game by 13 in Dallas, the franchise’s first since 1947. The 8-8 Rams made in it 2004 with a differential of -73. They ended up winning in Seattle by 7. In both cases, it could easily be argued that the bad playoff team was simply overlooked.
I don’t think the Seahawks will win this game, but I really like their chances to cover this spread. Also keep in mind that the Saints are 3-9 ATS as double digit favorites in the Sean Payton era. I’m making this a 5 unit selection. It will be dropped to 4 if Charlie Whitehurst starts for the Seahawks, but it’s looking like it’ll be Hasselbeck.
Indianapolis Colts 30 New York Jets 20
Spread: Indianapolis -2.5
Pick against spread: Indianapolis 2 units (-220)
This game is a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. The Colts won that 30-17, for simple reasons. The Jets are a blitz and take away the opposing team’s top receiver team. Peyton Manning can pick apart defenses that blitz and he had so many options (Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark) that the Jets couldn’t stop just one. Wayne only had 55 yards, but Clark, Collie, and Garcon combined for 309 yards as the Colts offense totaled 461 yards of offense.
Things have changed since then. The Colts line is terrible this year, so while Manning can still pick apart a defense that blitzes, he’ll have slightly less time in the pocket to do so. The Jets have also added Antonio Cromartie so they have more than one good cornerback. Also, Austin Collie and Dallas Clark are out and Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne have been dropping passes all year.
Still, I like the Colts in this one. This Jets defense isn’t quite what it used to be. They gave up 38 points to a Bears a couple weeks ago and 45 to the Patriots. They can be scored on. Like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning can pick apart blitzes and Rex Ryan (as a coordinator or a coach) has only beaten Peyton Manning once and that was because Manning was benched mid 3rd quarter for rest purposes. If the Jets defense becomes picked apart, this really becomes a matchup between Peyton Manning -2.5 and Mark Sanchez in Indianapolis. Simply put, Sanchez would be screwed.
Manning might not have the weapons like he did last year, but he still has the mindset he did last year which is that his favorite target is the open one and that’s how you beat the Jets’ defense. You don’t play favorites with your receivers. Blair White and Jacob Tamme might not be Collie and Clark, but they can still get the job done. I like the Colts to win here at home and advance to the 2nd round against a fairly even spread.
Baltimore Ravens 21 Kansas City Chiefs 10
Spread: Baltimore -3
Pick against spread: Baltimore 4 units (+400)
I am kind of pissed off that the Chiefs were terrible last week. Not because I like this team or anything, but because I wanted to bet heavily against them. Their terrible loss to the Raiders last week has dropped this line to -3, meaning the Chiefs are field goal underdogs at home. I am still going to bet against the Chiefs, but not for 5 units as I would have if this were an even line.
The Chiefs have literally beaten up on, as Gordon Gee would say, little sisters of the poor all season. They’ve beaten one playoff team all year, the Seattle Seahawks, which doesn’t really count. The only +.500 team they beat was San Diego by 7, week 1, in a fluke game in which Matt Cassel threw for 68 yards. In that game, their 3 touchdowns came on a pick six, a punt return TD, and a long run. That fluke win is the reason why they’re in the playoffs. The Chargers avenged that loss with a 31-0 win later in the season.
The Chiefs have played 12 games against teams ranked 17th or worse against the run. This is significant because they are a run first offense. Baltimore has always been known as a run stuffing team, so much so that their 8th ranked run defense this year was mildly disappointing. However, when you look at their last few games, you see they’re really better than that. In their last 3, they have allowed opposing teams to rush for 219 yards on 70 carries, an average of 3.1 per carry. In their last 5, they have allowed 384 yards on 116 carries, an average of 3.3. Jamaal Charles and company could really be limited in this one.
Unable to run, this team will be able to be blitzed and as we saw against Oakland, who sacked Cassel 7 times, this offensive line can’t handle blitzes. Because of the spread, this is only a 4 unit pick, but I don’t like the Chiefs’ chances in this one. It would be 5, but we could see a push or a stupid backdoor cover to keep this one within 3. I don’t think Kansas City wins though. Teams that don’t rest starters and lose their week 17 by 17+ are 0-5 ATS the next week since 2002.
Green Bay Packers 31 Philadelphia Eagles 23 Upset Pick (+110)
Spread: -2.5 Philadelphia
Pick against spread: Green Bay 3 units (+300)
Andy Reid says Michael Vick could be benched this week if he struggles to pick up blitzes like he did week 16 against Minnesota, when he took 6 sacks. I don’t think Vick gets benched, but it just shows how far this team has fallen in the past month or so. Vick isn’t playing like he did in November when he was on top of the world. In fact, aside from those 8 minutes against the reeling Giants, he didn’t have a great month at all.
Now he has to face the Green Bay Packers, arguably the most athletic defense in the league. Dom Capers has a very athletic defense at his disposal and he blitzes really well with them, as we saw last week against Chicago. Philadelphia’s offensive line is terrible, surrendering 50 sacks this season, tied for 2nd most behind Chicago. Vick will almost certainly be under pressure all game and he struggles under pressure. Not to mention, this back 7 has the athleticism to limit long gains on runs and can slow down the Eagles speedy receivers.
The Eagles defense isn’t playing too well either. Other than last week’s fluke performance against the Cowboys, the last time they gave up less than 24 was week 11. Even Joe Webb led his team to 24 against this defense.
While the Eagles are struggling, the Packers are playing well right now. Their +148 differential leads the NFC and they haven’t lost a game by more than 4 all season, not even against the Pats in Foxboro without Aaron Rodgers. They’ve won their last 2, and teams that win their last 2, yet are underdogs in the first round of the playoffs, are 6-3 ATS since 2002.
The Packers also beat the Eagles week 1. Teams that beat a team in the regular season are 16-8 straight up against that same team in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is also 7-4 ATS as an underdog. Oh and don’t forget, the Packers were my Super Bowl pick to start the year. I’m taking Kuhn and Friends for 3.