New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins: Week 13 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (8-3) Miami Dolphins (5-6)

The Patriots are on quite a roll right now. Once called an “average team” by Tony Dungy when they stood at 3-3, the Patriots have now won 5 games in a row including their last 2 by a combined 65 points and 3 of 4 by 30 or more. They’ve scored 108 points in their last 2 games, a modern era record. As you can expect, the public is pounding them here in Miami. I love to fade the public every chance I get because, in the long run, the public always loses money. The odds makers know what they’re doing so it’s not a bad idea to be on the same side as them.

While they are coming off two huge wins, that might not be a good thing for their hopes of covering this week. Teams are 27-42 ATS since 1989 off of back to back wins by 24+. Teams in this situation tend to be overconfident and overvalued. I mentioned that the public is backing New England heavily, well they’re doing it despite the fact that the line has shifted from -6.5 to -7.5 in the past week. That may not look like much, but we no longer have touchdown protection with the Patriots. They could be overvalued (more on that later). The overconfident part should be self explanatory. They’re on quite a roll right now and might overlook the lowly Dolphins, especially with games against Houston and San Francisco next on schedule.

That being said, I’m not betting against the Patriots right now. If they’re not the best team in the NFL, they’re at least 1a to San Francisco right now. They lead the league in points differential at +163, as a result of all of their blowout wins (8 wins by a combined 167 points, 3 losses by a combined 4 points). For reference, San Francisco is next in points differential at +121. Going off of that, they also lead the league in net points per drive at 1.07 (meaning how much their offense outscores their opponent’s offense on a per drive basis). There are an average of 11 drives per game, so that means that they would beat the average NFL team by about 12 points on a neutral surface.

Even when we take their somewhat weak strength of schedule into account with DVOA (which is net points per drive based, but takes strength of schedule into account, as well as a few other things), they rank 2nd in the league, only .1 point behind San Francisco and in weighted DVOA, which places greater value on more recent games, they lead the league. Miami, meanwhile, ranks 17th in net points per drive, 20th in DVOA, and 21st in weighted DVOA.

If we take the difference between their net points per drive and New England’s, multiply by that 11 drives per game, and subtract 3 points for Miami’s home field advantage, we get that this real line should actually be around New England -9, so even with the line movement, they’re not overvalued. Also, while teams tend to struggle off of back-to-back wins of 24 or more, teams tend to cover as favorites after scoring 49 or more in a game, going 24-14 ATS since 1989, though just 0-2 ATS after doing in twice in a row (it doesn’t happen often).

Besides, the Patriots are not a smart team to bet against after week 9. In the last 3 seasons between weeks 10 and 17, they are 19-0, outscoring opponents by an average of 20 points per game, with the average final score being 39-19. Even taking the spread into account, they are 13-6 ATS. I mentioned this last week when they played the Jets. Teams are also 50-30 ATS since 2002 as road favorites after a win as road favorites. The Patriots are also a whopping 18-7 ATS as divisional road favorites in the Bill Belichick era.

Also, while the Patriots tend to struggle at home as favorites of more than a touchdown (6-11 ATS in the last 3 seasons), they are a covering machine in all other situations going 22-8 ATS, something else I mentioned last week. It might seem weird to say that the Patriots are more likely to cover as big road favorites than big home favorites, but it’s true. Besides, look at their road wins this year. They beat Tennessee 34-13, Buffalo 52-28, NY Jets 49-19, and St. Louis 45-7 (on a neutral surface). We could easily see another blowout here. It’s not a huge play, but New England should be the right side. I also like the over. In the Patriots last 19 games between weeks 10 and 17, the total has gone over 17 times. Meanwhile, the over is 16-1 in their last 17 divisional games.

Public lean: New England (80% range)

Sharps lean: NE 16 MIA 5

Final update: I thought about boosting this to 3 units, but, on principle, I rarely make big plays on lines higher than a touchdown (what happened between San Francisco and Seattle earlier this year is a perfect example of why).

New England Patriots 38 Miami Dolphins 17

Pick against spread: New England -7.5 (-110) 2 units

Total: Over 51.5 (-110) 1 unit




Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills: Week 13 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) at Buffalo Bills (4-7)

One of the most powerful trends in betting is known as the six and six trend, meaning teams who finished with 6 wins or fewer are 23-64 ATS as favorites of 6 or more since 2002. There are two issues with this trend. One, it’s very rare (it only happened 4 times all last season, going 0-4 ATS). Two, it’s even rarer that a situation will come up in which you can confidently use the trend. The Eagles were 8.5 point favorites in Cleveland earlier this year (they didn’t cover), but there was at the time there was no way to know that the Eagles would finish 6-10 or worse.

I used this trend with the Raiders’ game a few weeks ago, -6 against Jacksonville. Oakland sat at 1-4 and looked unlikely to finish 7-9 or better and now at 3-8, it appears that was true. The Raiders failed to cover, needing a big comeback to win in overtime against these same Jaguars. Now the Jaguars go to Buffalo and will once again be 6 point dogs. Buffalo stands at 4-7 and is a prime candidate for the trend. If you look at their schedule (vs. Jacksonville, vs. St. Louis, vs. Seattle, @ Miami, vs. NY Jets), it’s possible they could win 7 games or more, but unlikely given the way they’ve been playing (more on that later).

Speaking of the Jaguars, I did mention that these were those same Jaguars. Well, that’s not necessarily true. Key members of their secondary, Dwight Lowery and Rashean Mathis, have returned after missing several games with injury. Lowery didn’t play against Oakland and Mathis left mid game. Also, Chad Henne is now at quarterback for the Jaguars. I know Henne did play in that Oakland game, but he played poorly because he was unprepared. Now as the full time starter with Gabbert out, Henne has the Jaguars playing much better football. He’s inconsistent, but even at his worst, he’s not a whole lot worse than Gabbert.

That should be taken into account when calculating real line, but even if it isn’t, we’re getting line value with the Jaguars. Buffalo ranks 28th in net points per drive at -0.62 (why I don’t think they’ll finish 7-9 or better) and Jacksonville ranks 29th in net points per drive at -0.73, with net points per drive meaning points per drive minus points per drive allowed (points per drive being offensive points divided by total drives).

If you take the difference and multiple by 11 (the average number of drives per game) and add 3 point for home field, you get a real line of about Buffalo -4, before even taking into account Jacksonville’s improved injury situation and the quarterback upgrade. Buffalo does rank 23rd in DVOA, to Jacksonville’s 30th (DVOA is based on net points per drive, but takes into account strength of schedule and things like special teams), but I still like getting 6 points with an improved Jacksonville team. I think there’s still some line value, not even taking into account the six and six trend. Besides, while Jacksonville is 1-5 ATS at home, they are somehow 5-0 ATS on the road this year.

There are a few things shaky about this pick, what if Buffalo finishes 3-2 over their past 5 games? What if the difference in DVOA is significant? What if Henne has a stinker? Jacksonville is also in a bad spot as non-divisional road dogs are 30-49 ATS off a win as divisional home dogs and they win as home dogs against Tennessee last week. There’s also the fact that Jacksonville is a publicly backed dog. There’s also, very interestingly, the fact that teams that are exactly 4-7 are 6-2 ATS as 6+ favorites since 1989 (though only 4 of those 8 finished 6-10 or worse and it’s a small sample size). Still, I like the six and six potential and the line value potential so it’s a significant play on Jacksonville.

Public lean: Buffalo (60% range)

Sharps lean: JAX 10 BUF 8

Final update: No change.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 Buffalo Bills 17 Upset Pick +210

Pick against spread: Jacksonville +6 (-110) 3 units




Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers: Week 13 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) at San Diego Chargers (4-7)

Last week, I took the Chargers for a big play for several reasons. Philip Rivers was 31-19 ATS in week 11 or later. In the last 3 years, as mediocre as they’ve been, they were still 10-5 ATS in week 11 or later, including a cover the week before in Denver. As underdogs, as they were last week, Rivers was 12-4 ATS in week 11 or later, including 3-0 ATS as home dogs. I also felt the Ravens were not as good as their record and I noted their struggles as non-divisional road favorites in the last 2 seasons, going 1-5 ATS in those spots, including a loss in almost exactly this same situation in San Diego the year before.

Well, I thought I had it perfectly handicapped. The Chargers led throughout, including 13-3 with a few minutes left in the game. The Ravens a scored to make it 13-10, but the Chargers had the ball and a 3 point lead with about 4 minutes left. That is 4 minute offense time, go conservative and try to run as much as much time off the clock as you can. Norv Turner, instead, passed on 2nd and 3rd down and the Ravens got the ball back quickly with time to do damage.

However, good defense by the Chargers had the Ravens backed up to 4th and 29 and unless the Ravens could convert, they would lose and I would cover. So what happened? Flacco dropped back, all of his receivers were covered downfield, so he checked down to Ray Rice who broke about 4 tackles and somehow converted for 30 yards. Or did he? Replays showed he was short, but on review, the refs upheld the call. The Ravens drove down for a field goal and then won it late in overtime. It was an infuriating loss for me on a bad week.

That being said, I still feel like the Chargers were the right side, but they just got unlucky and this week, I once again feel they are the right side. We’re getting line value with the Chargers. Last week, this line was San Diego -3. Now it’s Cincinnati -2.5. That’s a 5.5 point swing. For what? Because the Bengals blew out the crappy Raiders? The Ravens did that too. Because the Chargers barely lost to the Ravens? This makes no sense. The Ravens were only -1.5 in San Diego and they barely covered. This line suggests the Bengals are better than the Ravens. I know I’ve been on record calling the Ravens overrated many times, but when the Ravens and Bengals played, the Bengals lost by like 30. There’s no way they’re better than them.

The net points per drive method of computing line value gives us a real line of Cincinnati -1.5, which means that because of the line movement, we are now getting line value. The Bengals rank 8th in net points per drive at .4 (net points per drive being offensive points divided by total drives minus defensive points allowed divided by total drives). The Chargers are 16th at -0.03. If you take the difference and multiply by 11 (average drives per game) and add 3 points for homefield, you get around Cincinnati -1.5. In spite of the huge line movement, the public is still pounding the Bengals. This is significant because the public always loses in the long run, so fading the public in the long run makes sense. I do it whenever I feel it’s appropriate.

Oh and all of those trends I mentioned earlier when talking about last week that were in the Chargers’ favor, those are still in play here. Philip Rivers is 31-20 ATS in week 11 or later. In the last 3 years, as mediocre as they’ve been, they’re still 10-6 ATS in week 11 or later. As underdogs, as they are here, Rivers is 12-5 ATS in week 11 or later, including 3-1 ATS as home dogs. They’re even better in week 13 or later, going 23-14 ATS in the Philip Rivers era, including 8-2 ATS as dogs, 2-0 ATS as home dogs.

Actually, because they lost last week, it opens up a few other trends. Home dogs tend to cover off a loss as home dogs, going 59-40 ATS since 2002. Meanwhile, teams are 26-10 ATS since 2002 off a loss at home in overtime, excluding road dogs. Home dogs are 8-1 ATS off a loss at home in overtime since 1989, including 5-0 ATS off a loss as home dogs. Once again, it’s a big play on the Chargers.

Public lean: Cincinnati (70% range)

Sharps lean: CIN 20 SD 5

Final update: This is one where I’m going to disagree with the sharps.

San Diego Chargers 24 Cincinnati Bengals 17 Upset Pick +120

Pick against spread: San Diego +2.5 (-110) 4 units




Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys: Week 13 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) at Dallas Cowboys (5-6)

2 weeks ago, the Cowboys stood at 4-5, but many people still gave them a chance to win this division. The Giants weren’t looking great and the Cowboys, having played a very tough schedule in their first 9 games, had a very easy schedule down the stretch with 5 of 7 at home, including at least 4 where they almost definitely were going to be home favorites. However, they barely beat Cleveland, needing overtime to come back and win after going down 13-0 early and then they lost to Washington, both as home favorites. Now the Redskins at 5-6 look like the team that’s more likely to take down the Giants, if anyone can.

The truth is, the Cowboys just don’t play well as home favorites. Since opening the new Cowboys Stadium in 2009, they are 9-17 ATS as home favorites, including just 2-7 ATS as divisional home favorites. Call it the Cowboys Stadium curse, call it whatever you want, but it’s prominent. Tony Romo struggles in general as large favorites in his career anyway, going 13-20 ATS as touchdown favorites and 6-10 ATS as double digit favorites. He’s been even worse in the division, going 1-7 ATS as touchdown divisional favorites and 0-4 ATS as double digit divisional favorites.

The Eagles, meanwhile, tend to thrive in this situation in the Andy Reid era. They’re 48-33 ATS as dogs, including 37-21 ATS on the road as dogs and 16-9 ATS as divisional road dogs. As touchdown dogs, he’s 13-6 ATS, including 7-2 ATS in the division. As double digit dogs, he’s 5-1 ATS, including 3-0 ATS in the division. For what it’s worth, he’s been double digit dogs against the Cowboys twice in his career as Head Coach of the Eagles and the Eagles won them both straight up.

Of course, these aren’t typical Andy Reid times. He’s generally been an accomplished Head Coach, but right now he’s 3-8, having lost 7 in a row and he’s basically a dead man walking employment wise. The Eagles are so banged up with injuries too and they very well may have quit. However, even if they have quit, they did show some signs of life on Monday Night against the Panthers, probably because they didn’t want to be embarrassed on National TV. Well, this one is on National TV too and against a divisional rival. This game is like their Super Bowl so if they were to ever give effort, this would be the week.

As bad as they’ve been, I don’t think the Cowboys deserve to be double digit favorites against anyone. The net points per drive method of computing line value doesn’t seem to think so either. The Cowboys rank 20th in net points per drive at -0.12 (net points per drive being offensive points divided by total drives minus defensive points allowed divided by total drives). The Eagles are 26th at -0.47. If you take the difference and multiply by 11 (average drives per game) and add 3 points for homefield, you get around -6.5, which is around where this line probably should be.

That line checks out with DVOA (which is net points per drive based, but takes other things into account and strength of schedule). The Cowboys ranks 15th and the Eagles 27th. It’s a little different than where they rank in net points per drive (the Cowboys have had the tougher schedule and the better special teams), but I don’t think you can say the Cowboys deserve to be 10 point favorites. This line shifted 2 points from last week, when it was at -8, which I don’t understand. The Cowboys lost as favorites and the Eagles finally were competitive in a game. Why did the line shift? At the very least, this line is 2-2.5 points too high.

Also, as bad as the Eagles are, no team has ever covered fewer than 3 times over the course of a season in at least the past 5 seasons. That makes sense because the whole idea behind spreads to try to make things even, make so even bad teams can cover, and make life harder for odds makers. The Eagles have either covered 1 or 2 times all season this season, depending on what line you had for their week 4 game (they beat the Giants by 2 and the line was -1.5 in some places and -2 in some others). If history is any indication, the Eagles will probably cover at least once more this season. I don’t see any time better than this one, with all of the trends in their favor in a game that should be their Super Bowl. It’s not a big play though because, I mean, it’s the Eagles.

Public lean: Dallas (50% range)

Sharps lean: PHI 5 DAL 4

Final update: Again, not shocked people stayed away from this game. The shitty Eagles or the Cowboys as double digit favorites? I have a little bit more confidence in Philadelphia than most people because all the trends say Philly will cover and I think they’ll actually give a damn this week on National TV against a divisional opponent as huge underdogs, but you couldn’t get me to make a big play on this one.

Dallas Cowboys 24 Philadelphia Eagles 17

Pick against spread: Philadelphia +10 (-110) 2 units




Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions: Week 13 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Detroit Lions (4-7)

The Lions are in a bad spot and normally this is the type of team I like to stay away from. They are favorites after a loss as dogs and will next be dogs. Last week, they lost to the Texans and next week they have to go to Green Bay. That’s called a sandwich game. Teams tend to take it easy in the middle part of that 3 game stretch because they are coming off a tough loss and have another tough game next on the schedule, with an easier game in the middle. Teams are 59-83 ATS in this spot since 2008.

It especially hurts that this game is a non-conference matchup and that their next game is against a divisional opponent, especially since a hated divisional opponent like the Packers. Non-conference favorites before being divisional dogs are 32-61 ATS since 2002 and teams have tended to struggle before playing the Packers over the past 2 years anyway. In the last 2 seasons, teams are 9-18 ATS before playing the Packers.

The Colts, meanwhile, will be extra focused. They are dogs before being favorites, a situation teams are 97-57 ATS in over the last 2 seasons. When you combine that with the sandwich game trend, you find out that teams are 111-57 ATS since 2008 as dogs before being favorites when their opponent will next be dogs. Yes, the Colts have a divisional matchup next, but because they are dogs as they will next be favorites, it won’t matter much. Since 2002, non-conference dogs are 67-44 ATS before being divisional favorites. It seems to matter more that the Lions have a divisional game next. If we go to back to 1989 to get a bigger sample size, teams are 33-19 ATS as non-conference dogs before being divisional favorites when their opponent will next be divisional dogs.

However, all this does assume that the Lions will take the Colts lightly and they could easily not. Yes, they are in a bad spot, but the Colts aren’t some scrubs. They are 7-4 and isn’t pretty hard to overlook a 7-4 team. The Lions, meanwhile, are 4-7 so while they may technically be favorites, they might not act like favorites on the field because their opponents have 3 more wins than them. In fact, if you look at history, teams are 72-61 ATS since 1989 as favorites against an opponent who has 3+ more wins than them. That’s not strong enough to be considered a trend, but it’s worth noting.

That asks the question, if Detroit has 3 fewer wins than Indianapolis, why are they favorites here and why favorites by 5 whole points? This is just the 20th time since 1989 that a team has been favored by 5 or more points against a team with 3+ more wins than them (they are 11-8 ATS, which is also worth noting). The public seems to be asking that question an awful lot this week because there’s a pretty strong public lean on the Colts, which is rare with dogs.

The answer is, I believe, that the Colts are not as good as their record would suggest and the Lions are better than their record would suggest. Using the net points per drive method of computing line value, this line should actually be Detroit -9. That might not make sense at first, but it will once you know that Detroit is actually -13 in points differential this year and Indianapolis, despite their record, is -43.

This method of computing line value doesn’t take into account things like special teams and strength of schedule, but DVOA does, so we can look at that to confirm what net points per drive tells us (DVOA is a formula based heavily on net points per drive, which takes into account strength of schedule and other things). In DVOA, Detroit ranks 11th in both regular and weighted (weighted weights more recent games heavier), while Indianapolis ranks 28th and 27th respectively.

In net points per drive, Detroit ranks 13th, while Indianapolis ranks 23th, so the gap is even bigger when we take into account schedule, which makes sense. Indianapolis plays in the easier conference in one of the easiest divisions in football and is playing a last place schedule (and has yet to face the toughest team in their division, Houston, at all). Detroit, meanwhile, plays in the tougher NFC in arguably the toughest division in football and is playing a 2nd place schedule. The NFC, by the way, is 27-19 against the AFC this season, which is why I say they have the tougher conference.

The reason Indianapolis has such a poor points differential in comparison to their record is that they’ve been blown out on several occasions and they only have one win by more than a touchdown. Their biggest win was by 17, while they’ve lost games by 20, 26, and 25. They are 7-4 because they are 6-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less, but that’s unsustainable.

Teams who win a game by a touchdown or less win their next game 52% of the time if it’s decided by a touchdown or less. Most of the time, there’s less skill involved specifically in winning close games than you think (there is skill involved in outplaying opponents, but not in consistently winning close games). The exception is teams with elite quarterbacks and I don’t think Andrew Luck is there yet. Detroit, meanwhile, hasn’t lost a single game by more than 10 all season.

The notable thing about the Colts’ 3 blowout losses is that they were all on the road. They really haven’t been a good road team this season. They are 5-1 at home, but only 2-3 on the road with 2 wins against crappy Jacksonville and crappy Tennessee, along with those 3 losses. They’re just 1-3 ATS as road dogs. They got blown out by the Jets on the road. That’s ridiculous! Andrew Luck’s home/road splits are very notable. His completion percentage and YPA is the same pretty much both home and away, but at home, he has 9 touchdowns to 3 picks and on the road, he has 4 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, which is perfectly understandable for a rookie.

Now that we’ve established that this line not only makes sense, but might actually be too low, it’s time to talk about line movement. This line actually opened at -3.5, but it’s now -5, despite action being on Indianapolis. This is what’s called reverse line movement and it’s often the sign of a trap line. It’s rare that you’ll see a trap line that wants more action on the dog, but this is a pretty rare case where we’re actually getting a ton of line value with the favorite.

Besides, I love fading the public, especially when they back a dog. The odds makers always make money in the long run so siding with them (and against the public) isn’t a bad idea, especially when the public is backing a dog. Odds makers want two things, to make money and for favorites and dogs to cover evenly (so the public can’t key in on just one). The public rarely backs a dog, but when they do, it’s a risky bet and that’s even in cases where it’s not a trap line. This is a special case.

I wish the Lions were in a better situation trends wise, but it’s definitely possible they won’t overlook their opponent just because their opponent has such a good record. The Lions do have a few things going for them trends wise. Home favorites are 9-4 ATS since 1989 off back-to-back losses at home. Meanwhile, home teams are 15-8 ATS since 1989 off back-to-back losses as home dogs, including 3-2 ATS as favorites. They’re also rested off a Thursday game, as teams are 117-97 ATS on a Sunday after a Thursday game since 1989. Meanwhile, teams are 26-10 ATS since 2002 off a loss at home in overtime, excluding road dogs. It’s a medium sized play on the Lions, who should be the right side in this one. Detroit is also my survivor pick in a super shitty week for survivor plays.

Public lean: Indianapolis (70% range)

Sharps lean: IND 16 DET 14

Final update: No change. Like the Jets’ line, this line has gone up to -6 in some places, which could bring the six and six rule into play. However, I still like the Lions for a big play. The line going up to 6 means we have opposite line movement because the public is on Indianapolis. Maybe this game will be decided by exactly 6. Maybe this will be an exception to the rule. I really feel like Detroit covers here and I like getting them at lower than 6. At 6 or more, it probably wouldn’t be a big play.

Detroit Lions 31 Indianapolis Colts 20 Survivor Pick (HOU, NE, NO, BAL, SF, ATL, CHI, GB, SD, SEA, DAL, DEN)

Pick against spread: Detroit -5 (-110) 3 units




New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons: Week 13 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (5-6) at Atlanta Falcons (10-1)

On principle, this line is too small. This line essentially suggests that the Saints and Falcons are equals (3 points for home field advantage) and while I agree that the Falcons aren’t as good as their record, I don’t think the Saints and Falcons are equals right now. Using this new method of computing real line and line value I’ve created, which I think makes more sense that methods I’ve used in the past and which is based on net points per drive, this line should be Atlanta -8.5.

How this new method works is this: Net points per drive is points per drive minus by points per drive allowed, points per drive being offensive points (non-return touchdowns, extra points, two point conversions, and field goals) divided by total number of drives. For example, if you score 3 points per drive (that’s a lot actually) and allow 2, your net would be +1. There are an average of 11 drives per game, so we multiply that number by 11 and that team would be -11 on a neutral surface against an average team. In order to compute line value from that, we take the differences between the net points per drive, multiply by 11, and then add 3 points for home field advantage. Atlanta is at +0.62, while New Orleans is at +0.14. 0.48 times 11 plus 3 is around 8.5.

In spite of that, the public is siding with the dog. It’s almost like the Falcons have been called overrated so many times that they’re underrated. Besides, I love fading the public, especially when they back a dog. The odds makers always make money in the long run so siding with them (and against the public) isn’t a bad idea, especially when the public is backing a dog. Odds makers want two things, to make money and for favorites and dogs to cover evenly (so the public can’t key in on just one). The public rarely backs a dog, but when they do, it’s a risky bet.

That being said, New Orleans has had the much tougher schedule. Net points per drive doesn’t take into account strength of schedule, but DVOA (which is a formula heavily based on net points per drive, that takes strength of schedule into account) does. Atlanta ranks 5th in net points per drive and New Orleans ranks 14th, but in DVOA, Atlanta ranks 12th and New Orleans ranks 16th. New Orleans is also playing better football of late and has the momentum. Weighted DVOA (which weights more recent games more heavily) ranks Atlanta 17th and New Orleans 14th.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s net points per drive is strong mostly because of 3 games: 40-23 week 1 against Kansas City, 27-3 week 3 against San Diego, and 30-17 week 8 against Philadelphia. The rest of their games have all been decided by a touchdown or less and if you took those 3 outliers out, they would be much worse than 5th in net points per drive. None of those 3 games are recent and that trio isn’t exactly a murderers’ row. Kansas City is the worst team in the NFL. San Diego hasn’t been anyone except Kansas City since week 2 (their other wins are against Tennessee and Oakland, also crappy teams). Philadelphia, meanwhile, hasn’t won any of their last 7 games and their 3 wins came by a total of 4 points.

All 3 of those games were also on the road, which is strange because this was traditionally a great home team that struggled on the road. This year, they haven’t won a single home game by more than a touchdown in 5 tries. They’ve won all 5, but they’ve all been close and New Orleans is the 2nd toughest team they’ve faced at home this season, toughest if you believe that the week 2 Broncos (before they got rolling) are worse than these Saints. The other 4 wins came against teams that are a combined 15-29.

There’s only so long you can play inferior teams close before one beats you and even if the Saints don’t win, 16% of all NFL games are decided by exactly a field goal so this could easily be a field goal game, which would cover this 3.5 point spread. The Saints also seem to own the Falcons in the Matt Ryan era, beating them 7 out of 9 times, including earlier this season. They’re also 3-1 in the Georgia Dome, as good as the Falcons normally are there. Those 3 losses are 3 of the 7 losses they’ve had at home since 2008 (30-4 against anyone other than the Saints).

Besides, Drew Brees is awesome as a dog off a loss, going 8-2 ATS in that spot since joining the Saints in 2006. I hate siding with a public dog and I wish this spread was bigger, but it’s a small play on the Saints. Also, unlike most weeks, I don’t like the under this Thursday Night. That generally hits on a short week because offenses tend to struggle on short weeks, but this game features two true franchise quarterbacks so I trust them to be prepared. There’s no play on the total.

Public lean: New Orleans (60% range)

New Orleans Saints 24 Atlanta Falcons 23 Upset Pick +170

Pick against spread: New Orleans +3.5 (-110) 2 units




Week 12 NFL Picks Results

Last week was one of the worst weeks I’ve ever had. I actually went 8-8 ATS somehow (I was shocked when I saw that), but I lost 7 of my top 8 plays. Fortunately I’m doing so well with prop bets that I’m going to end up in the black no matter what happens these last few weeks (well maybe not no matter what), but I feel like some explanations need to be made.

Dallas -3 over Washington 3 units

The Cowboys came into this one just 9-16 ATS as home favorites since 2009, but 2-1 ATS on Thanksgiving. Romo was 4-1 ATS on Thanksgiving and he had never lost a November home game. I thought those latter 3 numbers would nullify their general struggles at home as favorites and I didn’t want to back a publicly backed rookie quarterback on the road as a dog on a short week. Well, Griffin proved me wrong and I may have given up on the Redskins, a preseason sleeper team of mine, way too fast.

Oakland +8 over Cincinnati 4 units

Going into this one, teams were 36-16 ATS since 2002 off back-to-back losses of 21+ and the Bengals were 3-9 ATS in the Marvin Lewis era as touchdown favorites, but none of that mattered because the Raiders appear to have completely quit. By losing by 24, the Raiders became just the 13th team since 1989 to lose by 21+ in 3 straight. In case, you’re wondering, the previous 12 teams were 4-8 ATS in their next game so I will not be making a big play on this bunch of jokers next week.

Pittsburgh -1 over Cleveland 3 units

The Steelers had won 19 of 21 against the Browns since 2002. Dick LeBeau was 17-1 against rookie quarterbacks. Charlie Batch is an underrated backup who was 5-2 with the Steelers heading into this one. I expected the Steelers defense to carry them to victory and they did play well, allowing just 3.7 yards per attempt, getting a return touchdown, and forcing 10 punts to 14 first downs. Of course, none of that matters if you turn the ball over 8 times. Batch wasn’t awful. He had 3 picks, but one wasn’t his fault, but running backs and receivers fumbled a whopping 8 times, losing 5 in 6 point loss after losing 7 in their previous 10 games. There’s no way to handicap for that.

Tampa Bay +105 over Atlanta 4 units

This one pissed me off so much. ATS, I was actually right with this one. When the line is 1.5 or 1, I take the money line instead of the spread. Heading into this one, since 1989, there had been 414 teams who had been favorites of 1.5 or 1. Of those 414 teams, only 7 of those teams won by exactly 1 point, about 1.7%. It’s not worth the extra 15 cents for something that historically will only hurt me about 1.7% of the time. Well, this line was Tampa Bay +1.5. I took the money line. The Buccaneers lost by 1. I may stop doing this. It makes mathematical sense, but it makes you want to throw up when it goes against you and that’s just not worth it.

San Diego +105 over Baltimore 5 units

Speaking of wanting to throw up, the Chargers led 13-3 late. The Ravens got a score, but the Chargers had the ball up 3 with about 4 minutes left. Normally teams go into their 4 minute offense in this situation and run the ball and try to run the clock down as much as possible. Well, Norv Turner went into his 2 minute drill and passed on 2nd and 3rd down, having to punt without taking much time off the clock.

On the Ravens’ drive, they got backed up to 4th and 29 and a stop by the Chargers would have ended the game and won it 13-10 for the Chargers. So what happened? Flacco dropped back, all of his receivers were covered downfield, so he checked down to Ray Rice who broke about 4 tackles and somehow converted for 30 yards. Or did he? Replays showed he was short, but on review, the refs upheld the call. The Ravens drove down for a field goal and then won it late in overtime. PUKE!

Tennessee -3.5 over Jacksonville 4 units

I had this one handicapped perfectly. Divisional road dogs were 22-3 ATS since 2002 off a bye heading into this one, while teams coming off a road loss in overtime were 18-45 ATS (excluding teams that are road dogs). The only problem is that Chad Henne, for all of his faults, is a clear upgrade over Blaine Gabbert and as inconsistent as he is, he had a good game in this one and blew up all those trends.

Green Bay +2.5 over NY Giants 3 units

Don’t bet against the Giants when the public is doubting them. Just don’t do it.

Week 12 Results

ATS: 8-8 -7 units/$-890

SU: 8-8

Upset Picks: 0-4 -$1100

Over/Under: 1-3 -$230

Total: -$2220

Public Results ATS*: 8-8 -4 units

2012 results to date

ATS: 86-85-5 +4 units/-$1645

SU: 108-67-1

Upset Picks: 28-33 +$225

Over/Under: 8-7-1 +30

Parlays: 1-0 +100

Total: -$1290

Survivor: 10-2 (HOU, NE, NO, BAL, SF, ATL, CHI, GB, SD, SEA, DAL, DEN)

Public Results ATS*: 84-90-2 -1 unit

*I’m doing this to see how the general public does. Based on percent of bets on each team, if the more popularly bet team covers, it’s a public win, if not, it’s a public loss. If a team that has 50-59% of the action on it covers, the public gets “one unit,” if they don’t cover, they lose one unit, 60-69% is 2, 70-79% is 3, etc.