November 05, 2012

NFL Odds, Week 8: Around the League

This picking winners ATS circus needed a turnaround, that of which the New Orleans Saints are looking to embark upon, so why wouldn’t I include them last week as one of three sure things? They’re all sure things before a ball’s been kicked/thrown/run and last week I couldn’t possibly lose. Hell, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees had my back as did...the Buffalo Bills. 

Chris Johnson racked up too many yards to fit on to this line at a laughable 10.8 yards per carry and down the swanny went my three timer. Buffalo really was a gimme -3, but who knows when Johnson will actually feel like running for more than 1.6 YPC on any given...Sunday, isn’t it?

Having gone a stupid 1-6 in my previous seven picks, a 2-1 record last week feels like relative nirvana so all apologies to anybody feeling the heat from their wallet; handicapping can drain you.

What awaits in Week 8, apart from the chance for the Seahawks to bury the memory of last week’s loss in San Fran on the Ford Field turf we love to hate.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. My 11-9 record ATS before last week was on legs shakier than a shaken Bambi so I reverted to going on a hunch. Ain’t it ridiculous? Apart from Pink Floyd ever playing together again, we have everything we ever need at our fingertips and yet gut feel gets me over the line in Week 7. Same again this week.

I’m not upset at being 13-10 (I’m not too proud of it either) and if Bill Belichick were to look at it, you’d get “it is what it is”. Yes, Bill, it is. For that, I may just tip up your lot, playing as you are in my home town this week. Wembley welcomes Welker. I have a hunch he may feature.       

The acronym ‘BAL’ below each team denotes Best Available Line, for those new to this.

BAL Dolphins +2.5...BAL Jets -1

One of those odd occasions when both teams can cover the spread as long as the Jets win by two. Which could easily happen.
This will be played against a backdrop of ill feeling emanating from the fall out of their matchup in Miami in Week 3. Reggie Bush is a marked man, even though the green half of New Jersey would never admit it. 

Jets safety LaRon Landry has put the bullseye right between the 2’s on Bush’s jersey and this really is one to watch. I won’t be, obviously, as events in Detroit at the same time are far more hypnotic. Both of these are adept at covering with the Jets perhaps a surprising 5-2 (Dolphins 4-2) and it isn’t one I’d advise on laying down your hard earned for.

In the grand scheme of the AFC, this game is probably inconsequential, but I can’t get enough of this rivalry. It’s rich in history, but don’t bank on getting rich betting on it.


BAL Chargers -1...BAL Browns +3

Are we really expected to be able to trust San Diego, even -1? Of course! They’re playing a 1-6 Cleveland team. This is like buying money. Except it isn’t. 

What I’m about to type could make me look like Lord of the Idiots (George Costanza, I borrow your lines from time to time), but don’t be fooled by the Browns’ record SU. They’re 3-3-1 ATS and 2-1 ATS at home. That makes them dangerous to bet against this week and do you want to back the team that blew a 24 point half time lead last time out? You do? You go for it.

San Diego does have a bunch more to play for than Cleveland and you would hope they’d feel stung by the turnaround suffered at the hands of the Broncos, but this is a Norv Turner coached team so the odds on them being fired up on the road after a bye week are pretty remote.

Take the Browns for a small wager.


BAL Colts +3.5...BAL Titans -3.5 

For those who read this regularly (and I really must thank you both once again), you’ll know I now hate picking Indianapolis and with Tennessee on something of an upward curve, it’s difficult not to like the Titans to cover.

The Colts have developed a consistent record ATS this season, which reads LWLWLW. Naturally, they’re going to fail to cover this week, right? At least we hope so, what with Matt lining up under center in Nashville.
As SU form goes, Indy last won on the road on December 26, 2010 and if the same Chris Johnson bothers to show up as the same Chris Johnson of last week then he’ll dance all day on a Colts run defense that ranks 26th in the NFL and the Titans will definitely win. It’s tempting to say Tennessee will cover easily here, but I’m wary and I don’t like wary.

Much like with Cleveland, a small bet on the home team.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ‘at’ ST. LOUIS RAMS (Wembley Stadium, London)

BAL Patriots -6.5...BAL Rams +7

Forget that St. Louis is the home team here. They may have been in London since the start of the week and designated the home team, but they’ll feel like the road team come kickoff; Patriots fans will outnumber Rams fans by at least two to one.

The same thing happened last year when Chicago was the road team against Tampa Bay. The Bears are very popular in the UK and the fan ratio was something more like 5:1 come kickoff. You could almost feel they weren’t going to lose and they never came close to doing so.

Yes, the away home team may have lost to the Seahawks and squeaked past the Jets at home over the past two weeks, but I fancy them strongly here. The home away team should keep this one close though and are an impressive 5-2 ATS this season, which does make me lean their way, but I was at Wembley in 2009 when Tom Brady looked sublime against the Buccaneers (a very poor Buccaneers team though) and can see him lighting up the stadium again this week.

It should help New England that they’ve been here before and I do wonder what St. Louis makes of it all. From a Seahawks standpoint, I hope they simply don’t get it, but I think they’ll cover the spread.


BAL Jaguars +16...BAL Packers -15.5

Green Bay -21, anybody? Nobody would be offended. That said, I can’t back a Packers team giving up this many points as they can be expected to take their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter and I’m not about to be stung by a garbage time score and the accompanying back door cover. 

Maurice Jones-Drew doesn’t play for Jacksonville, the man who accounts for almost a third of the Jaguars’ offensive output. That said, I can’t back a Packers team giving get the picture. 


BAL Falcons +3...BAL Eagles -1

This line looks huge. In favour of Atlanta. At first glance. 

At second glance? This line looks huge. In favour of Atlanta.

We have Mr. Regular Season on our side, form that Matt Ryan’s taking in his stride this season, at least if you look at the black and white of a 6-0 record. Two of those wins could easily have been, and probably should have been, home losses to the Panthers and Raiders, two pretty terrible teams, if we’re honest. It’s staggering to think that the Falcons could have played down to such a level, but it could simply be a case of them believing their own hype. They still sit atop many of the Power Rankings lists, but it won’t last.

The crux of their home form could simply be that they’re happier as a road team. They’ve won their three home games by a combined 11 points. On the road, that number jumps out to 47 and includes victories in San Diego and Washington. 

Philadelphia. Where to start with Philadelphia? A team seemingly endlessly beset by internal strife, they’ve dropped two (close ones) straight and are 1-2 ATS at home. Something else to consider this week is Michael Vick. Will he try just a little too hard against his former team? When he tries a little too hard normally he rarely emerges with the winning ticket. Yes, he may just be inspired this week, but I’ll still take the Falcons and the three points in my back pocket.


BAL Redskins +5...BAL Steelers -4.5

Why do I love Washington +5? They’ve covered the spread in three of their last four, but it’s tough to ask a team led by a rookie quarterback (even one as dynamic as Robert Griffin III) to go to Pittsburgh having lost a heart breaker to a division rival (Giants) a week earlier on the road. However, despite them being a tad erratic this season, they are 3-1 ATS as the underdog.

The Steelers are gradually nursing themselves back to health (Troy Polamalu aside) and before stifling the Bengals last Sunday night were 1-4 ATS, but lest we forget that this is Pittsburgh with Ben Roethliberger at quarterback and they are of course more than capable of winning this by ten.

I like the ‘Skins as an underdog though and stick to my opening rhetoric.

BAL Panthers +9...BAL Bears -7.5

In a perfect snapshot of how these two teams’ respective seasons have gone, Carolina enters this one on the back of the firing of GM Marty Hurney and Warren Moon citing racism as the reason for any criticism of quarterback Cam Newton.

Chicago have had to deal with the shattering news that receiver Brandon Marshall was fined this week for wearing orange cleats against Detroit on Monday Night Football. Serious stuff. 

Yes, here we are, back with my Super Bowl XLVII pick and of course I’m happy at this week’s matchup. However, it’s not such a sure thing ATS. As much of a shambles as the Panthers have (surprisingly?) been this season (and ATS...2-4), the only other time they’ve been an underdog on this scale was when they were afforded eight points in Atlanta, a game they really should have won SU, but the Falcons are better on the road anyway, as we know.

Then there’s the not insignificant fact of the Bears possibly looking past this one and a schedule presenting far greater challenges than the clawless bunch coming to town this week. After this comes an improving Titans (a), Houston (h), San Francisco (a), Minnesota (h), Seattle (h), Minnesota (a), Green Bay (h).

The Panthers could just be quite the good thing here.


BAL Raiders +1.5...BAL Chiefs -1 

The erratic Raiders at the even more erratic Chiefs with both teams sharing 2- 4 records ATS. This is probably the most dangerous game to bet on this week. I’ll leave you to it as I don’t have an opinion on this one and don’t want to have an opinion on this one.

BAL Giants -1...BAL Cowboys +2.5

This is the time of the season when must win games absolutely exist, a far cry from the euphoria felt in Dallas when they assertively stole the W from the defending Super Bowl champions in their own back yard on opening night.

Should the Cowboys not repeat their Week 1 feat here, they’ll be two-and-a-half games behind the Giants and temporarily out of the wild card race behind Green Bay and Minnesota and quite possibly Arizona and Seattle...and that doesn’t even include the possible threat still posed by New Orleans. That’s a dark horizon indeed yet all is not that bad...hang on, it is if you want to bet on Dallas ATS.

Every bad run in sports comes to an end against some embarrassed team, but the Cowboys are 0-5 ATS in their last five home games and the Big Blue are 4-1-1 ATS since their Week 1 wake up call, an alarm that clearly had the desired effect.

The Giants could easily return to the Super Bowl while Dallas has played well since their bye week and should really have won in Baltimore two weeks ago, going down 31-29 despite being the better team on the day. The latter point is a part of following sports teams I know only too well and I’ll always embrace the pleasure-pain principle. 

That can only mean I take the rollercoaster Cowboys to beat the Giants for the first time in four attempts in their new stadium, including the 2.5 points on offer.


BAL Saints +6...BAL Broncos -5.5

I can’t wait for this one, no matter that it starts at 1:20 a.m. GMT. I ain’t missing it and the un-Godly hour only adds to the sense of occasion. 

This one is for enjoyment purposes only so I’ll be accompanied by the finest bottle of Malbec I can lay my hands on and the very handy six points available on the Saints. Yes, they may well lose to the Broncos, but they’ve won three on the bounce ATS and I like my chances with my hard earned on them this week.

Just for further enjoyment, buy on the over/under of 55.


BAL 49ers -6.5...BAL Cardinals +7

This just looks like a good line on Arizona. Yes, I’ll give you that they’re on the slide somewhat and may struggle to develop any semblance of a running game, but in what could be a physical divisional matchup on Monday Night Football, I like the Cardinals receiving a touchdown start. 

OK, to recap, my ‘Aaron Curry’ is Carolina +9, my bet of the week is Atlanta + 3 while I also like St. Louis +7 and New Orleans + 6.

Please gamble responsibly.

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