Having already warned caveat emptor, I did treat it as an exercise in enjoyment, taking a relatively light hearted look at the schedule, just to gauge how good or bad my predictions would look after the first sixteen games of the season.I wrote that should I escape with anything above an 8-8 record, then I’d be happy. For happy, read as happy as Joe Flacco feels right now; I bombed with a 5-10 record. Yes, 5 + 10 is, hang on a minute...er, 15...thought so, but this calculator doesn’t half come in handy sometimes. I didn’t actually advise on anybody in the 49ers/Packers matchup, instead choosing to enjoy it for what it was, happy in the knowledge that we’d all be Packers fans for three hours. Boy, even that scenario blew up in our faces.
However, I’m (semi) glad to report that I picked out three contests as worthy of a small wager, which produced some success. As fate would have it, the one team to let me down of the triumvirate was the Seahawks. Earlier in the afternoon, the Houston Texans (my bet of the week) had easily covered the spread (-11) at home to Miami while New England (-6) made that line look ridiculous as they cruelly picked apart the Tennessee Titans on the road. Curiously, as kickoff approached in Nashville, the Patriots were available -4.5, a line that staggered me.
I was looking very shrewd and with only Seattle left, all I needed was for them to win by a field goal in Arizona. How difficult could that be? It wouldn’t be. How good was the Arizona defense on the day? Underrated. How come the game took seven hours to play? Is that all it took? It felt like longer.
At 13-3 down, my bet was dead in the water until Seattle’s D finally made the necessary adjustments to negate what John Skelton was doing at QB. So, naturally, when he went down and they wheeled out Kevin Kolb to replace him, I was already counting out my lovely English pounds. Turns out I was merely counting my chickens.
The shambles that Kolb had been advertised as (a marketing campaign that was mightily convincing) suddenly tore my heart from my chest and the pennies from my palm as he engineered an unlikely redemption for himself. He’s looked so terrible on so many occasions since joining the Cardinals that what he did last Sunday still doesn’t properly compute.
I’ll be adopting the same approach to predicting this week as I did last week, culminating in the bets that I believe represent the most value (including my ‘Aaron Curry’, which is the ‘can’t miss’ bet, second only to my bet of the week). With that in mind, I’m not too despondent at a 2-1 record in what was a treacherous week for those of us who look to beat the sportsbooks.
I’ve already posted my take on the Cowboys visit to CenturyLink Field this Sunday so what follows is a look at everything else the league has to offer.
CHICAGO BEARS at GREEN BAY PACKERS
Yes, yes, the Bears are my Super Bowl XLVII pick (you are going to tire of hearing that, but I can’t apologise just yet), but Jay Cutler’s made the first bone headed play even before kickoff, having already practically guaranteed victory at Lambeau tonight with his “good luck” to the Pack’s defensive backs.
Jay, what are you thinking? All I can think is that the rarified air he once inhaled in Denver is wreaking havoc somewhere in his noggin. To throw down the gauntlet on the eve of a trip to Green Bay, to face a Packers team who already can barely afford to lose this one (stupid, but true) is brave, but the last person to put up such a guarantee in this particular part of Wisconsin did so on the actual field at the coin toss before overtime, declaring that his team wanted the ball and were going to score. And look what happened that day.
Chicago are available +5.5 while the Pack can be backed -4.5. Aaron Rodgers has a chip on his shoulder this week, as will the entire Green Bay defense after Cutler’s cheek, but Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery really should threaten all night. The Bears may well feel a ‘Packlash’ here, but I take them and the points available.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS at BUFFALO BILLS
Do not dare go anywhere near this one. Nobody saw Buffalo’s troubles against the Jets coming as thick and fast as they did...did they? I actually liked KC +3 last week at home to the Falcons, but I should have realised that Matt Ryan only comes alive in the regular season. And I even wrote exactly that! Ignoring your own advice, now there’s a website all of its own.
There’s very little give on the line here as the Chiefs are best available +3.5 while Buffalo are asked to overcome a 3 point handicap.
Tamba Hali returns at OLB for KC, which is pretty huge, but C. J. Spiller’s numbers last week (14 rushes for 169 yards) was...pretty huge. Purely for interest, I like the Chiefs and the points.
CLEVELAND BROWNS at CINCINNATI BENGALS
I love these Ohio derbies. I have since I was young enough to appreciate the game (1984, if anybody cares enough...well, I care).
This one is easy. The Bengals were routed by the Ravens. The Ravens are good.
The Browns were pipped by the Eagles. The Eagles are believed to (still) be good. What’s not to like about Cleveland? How about Brandon Weeden’s 5.1 QB rating last week? I drink beer with a higher number than that.
Add on that cornerback Joe Haden begins his four game suspension and Cincy -6.5 looks very attractive. The highest line on the Browns is +7, but Weeden looks worse than inept. A week after winning money on Cleveland covering against Philly, only a fool would part with his money on them this week.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Dwight Freeney’s missing for the Colts this week, which is a huge blow with a Vikings team coming to town capable of racking up the yards. However, with Austin Collie poised to return at receiver for Indy, this one could develop into something of a shootout and I’d advise to buy the over/under at 44.5.
This is almost a ‘pick ‘em’ (PK) game and one to definitely avoid, but if you’re tempted either way, the line on each is Minnesota -1 and Indianapolis +1.5. Instead of focusing on the minutiae here, I’m going to want both teams to score as many points as they can. At the end of the season, this matchup will have very little consequence so let’s treat it with the fun it has tattooed all over it.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS at CAROLINA PANTHERS
Tampa Bay has already led the way this season. They held DeAngelo Williams and Cam Newton to a total of 10 rushing yards last week. If you thought that Brandon Weeden stole the back page ‘dreadlines’ last week, step forward the Carolina Panthers’ running game. It really is an astonishing statistic and Greg Schiano already looks likely to have a big say in what goes down in the NFC South this year. I like Greg Schiano. He’s an old school football coach and his young Bucs are buying into his program.
RGIII...say what you want about him, but please look up what John Madden said about him this week. Astonishing.
RGIII...he went to the Superdome and conquered N’Awlins and the Saints face a similar specimen this week in Newton. Now, Cam WILL gain more than 10 yards on the ground on his own this week while Drew Brees will look to utilise his receiving corps early and quickly and, much like the Vikings/Colts contest, this one could develop into a points fest.
I hate having to pick this one, but, forced to do so, I take the Saints -1. For those of a Panther persuasion, those big, black cats are available +3, which I can see being snapped up, too.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS at NEW YORK GIANTS
SPOILER ALERT – Lazy writing: Tampa Bay has already led the way this season. They held DeAngelo Williams and Cam Newton to a total of 10 rushing yards last week. If you thought that Brandon Weeden stole the back page ‘dreadlines’ last week, step forward the Carolina Panthers’ running game. It really is an astonishing statistic and Greg Schiano already looks likely to have a big say in what goes down in the NFC South this year. I like Greg Schiano. He’s an old school football coach and his young Bucs are buying into his program.
Up against Schiano this week is probably the ultimate old school football coach, but he’s not so much the angry old man any more. It’s surprising what winning two Super Bowls in five seasons will do for your personality.
The Giants’ giant problems in their secondary look to be eased this week as Prince Amukamara should play some part at cornerback, but I can’t look past Tampa’s D and love them +9.
The Big Blue are available -7 and, yes, they could easily win this one, but I don’t see them winning by ten.
HOUSTON TEXANS at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
My bet of the week came through last Sunday when Houston covered the 11 point spread at home to Miami, but I did watch more than a little nervously as the Dolphins held a 3-0 lead eight minutes into the second quarter.
Only at two bookmakers online (32RedBet and BETDAQ) are the Texans asked to cover a similar line to last week, where they’ll need to cover a 9 point handicap, but they’re generally available -7.
J.J. Watt was quite something as a rookie and quite a lot more than something last week. Wade Phillips wants to craft his pet project into the most dominant defender in the NFL and that upward curve should continue this week against a Jaguars offensive line struggling with injuries.
Blaine Gabbert was surprisingly effective in Minnesota last week, but the Houston defense will show him looks he didn’t see in Week 1 and the 2011 version of Gabbert may make an appearance.
Throughout the offseason, the Texans were strongly touted as Super Bowl material, something I never fully bought into and, even if they win by twenty points here, it gives us no further clue as to their standing as they’d have seen off the Dolphins and Jaguars.
Leave this one alone (although I’ll take the Texans -7 in this virtual scheme) and let’s see how they match up in Denver in Week 3.
OAKLAND RAIDERS at MIAMI DOLPHINS
The Raiders were a let down on Monday night only because their long snapper (the first time I’ve ever heard of Jon Condo) went down injured. That’s why they lost to San Diego. Yes, that was the only reason. Alright, that plus the fact that Darren McFadden was their offense. Talk about telegraphing to your opponent.
Oakland’s hurting at receiver, but it’s OK because Miami shipped cornerback Vontae Davis to the Colts before Week 1. I want to believe that the Fish are already looking ahead to 2013, which means they could be useful for some back door covers this season (late scores to ruin a bet on the favourite), but this line’s too short for that (Raiders -1, Dolphins +2.5).
In all honesty, the Raiders should cover here quite comfortably, but they’re travelling to the other side of the country and will kick off at 10 a.m. PT, which should always be accounted for when betting ATS.
For that reason, I should advise on Miami +2.5, but cannot risk anything on them this week. I’m not a fan of anything the Silver and Black hold dear, but like them -1.
ARIZONA CARDINALS at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
What’s not to like about Arizona this week? A tough question to ask us fragile Seahawks this week. Purely from an objective standpoint, they’re 8-2 SU (straight up) over their last ten games, a line I think we’re all used to seeing by now. However, that makes them quite a fascinating proposition on the spread this week.
I’m loath to be boastful, but I just knew Tennessee would have no answer for the Pats last week and am only saying so because I advised the line as a cracking bet.
Where I wrote above about the Dolphins possibly being good for a couple of back door covers this season, well, the Cardinals could be primed for the same thing here.
New England plays in Baltimore next Sunday night on primetime (a highly probable AFC Championship Game...again) and should they be out of sight in this one late on, may well allow Arizona to cover the spread, even as late as the last minute.
It has to be the Cards +13.5.
BALTIMORE RAVENS at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
If I told you that the Ravens were available plus points on the spread, would you believe me? Would you also bite my arm off? The answers are No and Yes in that order. Baltimore is available +2.5 (BetFred). I plain don’t get that.
Need I really offer up any reasoning here? Needless to say, this is my bet of the week.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS at ST. LOUIS RAMS
I’m going to wager that the Redskins (-3) are going to be one of the heaviest backed teams this week. My degree in ‘Quoting the Obvious’ serves me well quite frequently and I feel fortunate to be able to fall back on such an education.
Why wouldn’t they follow up last week’s stunner in the Superdome with victory in a dome rather less super? If only predicting the NFL were that easy, something that our very own Danny Kelly alluded to on Twitter after Week 1.
I’m not buying that RGIII will simply steamroller the Rams this week. Firstly, they’re on the road for the second consecutive week and secondly, I’ll take Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins over Patrick Robinson and Jabari Greer all day, every day.
I have a strong hunch that the Rams pull the mild surprise here. It’s not a game I’m going to follow with any money attached to it, merely a keen eye on events.
NEW YORK JETS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS
If Washington (-3) are one of the heaviest backed teams this weekend, then it’s likely that the Jets +6.5 will be found on the same lofty ground. I have to say that it’s an extremely enticing line, but one word of caution...ahem, four words of caution: Don’t trust the Je...five words of caution (did anybody really just ask for the Spanish Inquisition?): Do not trust the Jets.
They shocked the Bills last week (except the wonderfully fluid C.J. Spiller), but going into an NFL powerhouse with a swagger is more than mildly offensive. Especially into Pittsburgh.
OLB LaMarr Woodley is no fool and has already promised that the Steelers won’t be 0-2 after this week. You know what? That’s good enough for me.
Pittsburgh’s sore after last week and I fully expect them to win from scratch. Not even close. They’re only -5 in some places, which I’d much rather be on than the aforementioned Jets +6.5.
TENNESSEE TITANS at SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Since the birth of the AFL to the present day, the San Diego Chargers have been synonymous with offense: ‘Air Coryell’, Charlie Joyner, Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, LaDainian Tomlinson. I’ll quit while I’m ahead.
This year, I’m a big fan of their front seven, further boosted this past April by the drafting of Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes and it’s a defense that should keep them in many games, invaluable to us handicappers.
With the visit of Tennessee this week, that D, OK, secondary will be the first to face Kenny Britt since Week 3 of last season and while it’s a major boost for the Titans, exactly how ready will Britt be? The coaching staff’s talking about him playing 20-25 snaps this week and as luck might have it, Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer suffered a broken hand last week. Now, Jammer may still play this week, but one casual bash on the injury and he’ll be done for a couple of weeks at least. Of course, Britt wouldn’t be so careless...
San Diego’s available -6 while the Titans can be backed +6.5. Neither line interests me, but I take the Chargers for fun.
DETROIT LIONS at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
You want to know how worried the Lions are about going to San Fran after squeaking past the Rams at home last week? They claimed in midweek that Calvin Johnson is injured. It almost shouldn’t be allowed. It’s the antithesis to Bountygate.
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz fell for it hook, line and sinker last season when he let himself get rattled by Jim Harbaugh and THAT handshake, a handshake that’s been hard to...shake all week. You have to hand it to Harbaugh. Jeez, do I never give in?
I hope Detroit do a number on the Niners this week, naturally, and it’s not beyond the realms. However, I do see San Francisco being attractive -6.5, particularly with the Lions so desperately thin at running back. Matthew Stafford will need to win this one through the air and rely almost exclusively on his receivers, a tactic that may wear thin very quickly.
As much as it pains me, the home team to cover the spread.
DENVER BRONCOS at ATLANTA FALCONS
The over/under for this one is 51. I think I’d still be on the over if it was 61.
For spread betting purposes, I love the Falcons -3, a lot. (Broncos available +3.5).
To those of you who bothered to make it to the bottom of this post, I thank you sincerely. So, to close, my ‘Aaron Curry’ this week is Atlanta -3, my bet of the week is Baltimore +2.5 and I also really like Tampa Bay +9 and Cincinnati -6.5.
Please gamble responsibly.