September 20, 2007

Week 3 NFL Against the Spread Picks

As if to prove that Week 2 only paid the most amateur of NFL handicappers, Jeremy and the Magic 8 Ball narrowly squeaked out winning weeks while Brien, Russell and I all ended up 2-3. That means Jeremy gets to go first, for hopefully the last time this season.

As always, Sheridan's Odds are used, current as of 3:15p ET Friday.

Jeremy and Magic 8 Ball
So my contributions to the blog have been minimal at best this week. Nothing like starting work the week that we have [a new client named Orenthal]. It's like trying to jump onto a car moving at 120mph. But anyway, I've got a few moments so here are my and the Magic 8 Ball's picks of the week:

WASHINGTON (-3.5) over Giants. I think the 'Skins win this game in much the same way they beat the Eagles as sans Brandon Jacobs, the Giants have no running threat and the 'Skins pass D has been fantastic. So long as Campbell doesn't beat himself, it's just a matter of putting up enough points to beat this spread. Magic 8 Ball Pick: WASHINGTON (-3.5) over Giants. "Signs point to yes [Redskins will beat the spread]."

Minnesota (+3) over KANSAS CITY. I still have seen no signs of life from this Kansas City team and only got beat picking against them last week because Chicago has no offense. Tavares Jackson isn't that impressive either, but even on the road he'll lead the team to cover this spread. Amazing that the line has these two teams dead even given that home field is generally worth two points. Magic 8 Ball Pick: Minnesota (+3) over KANSAS CITY. "No [Kansas City will not beat the spread]."

Indianapolis (-6) over HOUSTON. I have been very impressed with Matt Schaub's leadership and his play, but they haven't exactly had stiff competition, not to mention the fact that Schaub is going to be without the guy who he threw to over 50% of the time. Colts win by a TD on the road in front of boisterous and fired up Texans fans. Magic 8 Ball Pick: HOUSTON (+6) over Indianapolis. "Signs point to yes [Texans will beat the spread]."

Buffalo (+16.5) over NEW ENGLAND. Listen, I think the Pats will win without a doubt. But anytime the line gets this inflated, especially for an NFL game, and especially for a rivalry game, I gotta take the 'dog. Magic 8 Ball Pick: NEW ENGLAND (-16.5) over Buffalo. "Yes [New England will beat the spread]."

Carolina (-4) over ATLANTA. Falcons have scored ten points in two games. Carolina's D showed weakness against the Texans, but they're not that weak. Further, Carolina's run defense is very strong putting more pressure on Joey Harrington to pass... not a good combo. Magic 8 Ball Pick: Carolina (-4) over ATLANTA. "My answer is no [Falcons will not beat the spread]."

So I'm going with four road teams this week, and may have run into the bear trap of picking the one home team that I did with my heart instead of my head. There are definitely some tough games on the board this week to pick straight up, let alone against the spread.

After a hurting first two weeks, I'm just hoping for the best...

Indianapolis (-6) over HOUSTON: The loss of Andre Johnson is huge for the Texans.

Detroit (+6.5) over PHILLY: What Philly secondary? Lito's still out and Donovan has struggled.

DENVER (-3) over Jacksonville: Denver finally converts yards into points.

OAKLAND (-3) over Cleveland: Last week wasn't the first time the Browns have lit up the Bengals. Doesn't mean they're good.

WASHINGTON (-3.5) over NY Giants: Giants have given up 80 points in the first two weeks, and the entire offense is hurt.

Now that everyone has played two games, there are three groups of teams when you look at the league in terms of against-the-spread (ATS) performance: teams that are 2-0 ATS, 1-1 ATS, and 0-2 ATS. Since we still don't know too much about the teams, we need to use what we know about other gamblers to make our picks. The key question to answer here is whether you think Vegas will cling to pre-season projections or will overreact to week 1 & 2 performances in setting the lines. Starting next week, I think you'll see a lot more weight placed on 2007 performance, but for now 2006 is still fresh in people's minds. We'll use that to our advantage by ignoring pre-season expectations and concentrating on what happened on the field the past two weeks.

Dallas (+3) over CHICAGO - Dallas (2-0 ATS) is putting a lot of points on the board. Chicago (0-2 ATS) doesn't look like the same team as last year. (BONUS PICK: The number for this game is 42.5, take the under and pocket the money)

Tennessee (+4.5) over NEW ORLEANS - Tennessee is 2-0 ATS and New Orleans is 0-2 ATS. This line is a perfect example of pre-season expectations carrying over to week 3. You should be able to get a +150 moneyline (per on this game. I'd recommend taking the Titans straight up.

OAKLAND (-3) over Cleveland - Both teams are 1-1 ATS, but this is a situation where Cleveland's big win last week will be overvalued by odds-makers.

TAMPA BAY (-3.5) over St. Louis - The Rams (0-2 ATS) haven't looked good at all this year, and last week showed us that the Bucs might not be the doormat people thought they would be.

GREEN BAY (+4.5) over San Diego - You probably think I'm crazy with this one, but hear me out. The Packers are 2-0 ATS (and 2-0 straight up) this year. The Chargers were completely overmatched by the Pats and struggled to beat a Chicago team that isn't very good. They're also coming off a huge Sunday night game last week against the Patriots, and play division games the next three weeks (KC, @DEN, OAK) leading up to their bye week. So if San Diego is going to overlook one game in the first half of the season, this is it. I don't trust Norv to keep the team focused enough to be prepared to play a surprisingly good Packers team. On the other hand, what the hell do I know, I'm 4-6.

Brien's right. Week 3 is when you have to stop quoting Dennis Green. Some teams are not what we thought they were.

Detroit (+6.5) over PHILLY - What is there to like about Philly? No Westbrook. McNabb looks hurt. Lito Sheppard out.

San Francisco (+8.5) over PITTSBURGH - San Francisco is overrated, but Mike Nolan has AFC North experience. There's just enough defense and Frank Gore to keep them within a TD...I hope.

Indy (-6) over HOUSTON - Andre Johnson is just too big a loss to overcome. Plus, when was the last time Peyton looked bad two straight weeks?

Buffalo (+16.5) over NEW ENGLAND - If you want to crown their ass, crown them. I would REALLY like that extra half point though.

God, that's only four? I'll pick a home team.

OAKLAND (-3) over Cleveland - I'm just blindly hoping last week was a total aberration, and Cincy is really not very good.

Jeremy: 6-3-1
J-Red: 6-4-0
Magic 8 Ball: 5-4-1
Brien: 4-6
Russell: 3-7

(consensus picks in bold)
Magic 8 Ball: CAR, HOU, MIN, NE, WAS
Russell: DEN, DET, IND, OAK, WAS
Brien: DAL, GB, OAK, TB, TEN

16 Responses:

Brien said...

On a related note, I'm extremely unhappy that Two Minute Warning (an awesome site for NFL gamblers who also happen to be stat geeks) has put all its content behind a subscriber barrier (with a $150 price tag). They went from being a site that offered a lot of tools to let you handicap the games yourself to a site that makes you pay money for their picks, with some statistical info thrown in. If anyone knows a good site for gambling stats ( has some info, but not nearly enough to satisfy me), let me know.

"ben" said...

I found one good one.

Brien said...

Not that I'm surprised, but we all stayed away from the land mine game of the week: Arizona (+7.5) at Baltimore. We really have no idea how good either of these teams are right now. Performance over the past two weeks would lead me to pick the Cardinals, but I still think the Ravens are good enough to win by 20. Stay away from that game.

Russell said...

I'm just surprised that Oakland, worst team in the league last year and 0-2 this year, was a consensus pick to win a game. I hope we're right, though given our consensus track record, it doesn't look good.

J-Red said...

I was tempted to change all my picks that would have been consensus picks. I felt it wouldn't be fair since I see all four sets of picks before posting them.

Landmine games:


Those are all three "what the hell?" games. The question marks on both teams are far too huge.

Brien said...

Wow, I thought two of your landmine games were among the 5 easiest games to pick (and agreed on the other one). I guess we'll see what I know this week.

J-Red said...

I think a landmine game is any game where I could see either outcome in a big way, and not even flinch.

If you told me StL 49, TB 10. I'd buy that. If you told me TB 27, StL 3, I'd buy that too.

Same with Saints and Titans.

J-Red said...

And just as a reminder, with the Magic 8 Ball, Jeremy is asking "Will [home team] cover?".

Russell said...

I think I'm with J-Red on this. StL and NO (and SD) have not met expectations yet, but I'm not ready to right them off for the year after two weeks. All three teams have almost unlimited talent on offense, and that's going to produce points some time, it's just a question of when. I wouldn't bet against NO in the Superdome looking an 0-3 start in the face, but I think my record so far speaks for itself.

Brien said...

We'll see. Every year there's a few teams that are projected to do well, but after a few weeks we find out that they just suck. I think the Saints might be one of those teams this year. I don't think the Chargers suck, but I think they might overlook the game this Sunday against a team that's better than they think.

Russell said...

Referring back to consensus picks and such, Vegas has to love it when more money goes to the wrong side of a game. We have no dissension for the second straight week. Does that mean we all have the same perspective or that the line isn't really at the 50% bettor point? Did 50% of the bettors really take CLE (+6.5) last week? If so, what games were they watching week 1?

Brien said...

I've read some analysis saying that Vegas doesn't even try to get equal action on both sides. They have the best handicappers in the country working for them, so they pick a line that gets more than 50% on the losing side. It's a dangerous game, but it seems to work.

J-Red said...

If the Vegas handicappers really thought Cleveland and Cincy should be less than 6.5, and all the action fell on Cincy, they might have been making a bet of their own. The difference is the handicappers are geniuses, and their bet is smarter than middle America's.

If I don't go 4-1 this week, I'm picking against all WTF lines next week.

Jeremy said...

Damnit... this is what happens when you make your picks before the updated injury reports come out. Minnesota starting a green QB in a horribly hostile Kansas City environment... I might have to change that pick. But I'll stick to it because KC is just that bad.

J-Red said...

Bollinger isn't entirely green. He was all kinds of shades after the Jets started him in Baltimore last year.

Russell said...

Both Mikes on Mike and Mike in the Morning took PHI just because it's such a WTF spread. J-Red, your strategy of taking the contradictory team might be a good one. Sometimes, Vegas knows more than we do, but it still doesn't make any sense.

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