Friday, October 28, 2011

NFL 2011 - Betting Lines - Picks To Win, Versus the Spread and the Over/Under: Week 8

The NFL in week 7 featured a mass of injuries to key players, especially RB's.  These injuries will have a major effect on outcomes moving forward and I will be sure to make you aware of those effects with each game this week.  I fared very well in last week's picks, finishing well over .500 in each category and managed a perfect game score again last week.  With the success of last week, I am now over .500 in all three pick categories for the year.  This week is fraught with difficult matchups to choose and I see the potential for a number of upsets, especially against the spread.  This will be a week to really parse the team matchup information and make the most of it towards the picks for this week.  Here is how I fared in week 7's contests...

Winner: 8-5   :-D
Winner w/ Spread: 7-5-1   :-)
Over/Under: 8-5   :-)
Trifecta: 4
Strikeouts: 2
Perfect Team Score Predictions: 1 (Chicago)
Perfect Game Score Predictions: 0


*2011 Overall Record*
Winner: 69-34 (.678)
Winner w/ Spread: 49-49-5 (.500)
Over/Under: 49-52-2 (.485)
Trifecta: 19
Strikeouts: 10
Perfect Team Score Predictions: 7   [Week 1]: Atlanta, St. Louis, Detroit  [Week 2]: Arizona, Tampa Bay, Minnesota  [Week 4]: San Diego  [Week 5]: Jacksonville, Denver  [Week 6]: Atlanta, Oakland  [Week 6]: Chicago
Perfect Game Score Predictions: 2   [Week 1]:Atlanta @ St. Louis  [Week 2]: Tampa Bay @ Minnesota

NOTE: The team with a negative number in parenthesis "(-3)" next to their name is the favorite to win the matchup and the number represents how many points the favorite has to score more than the underdog to count as a winning bet.  The over/under for the game is represented by a number in parenthesis with the letters o and u "(o/u 46)".  The number represents the amount of points you are wagering whether or not the two team's combined score will be in excess of or short of.  Official betting lines courtesy of

Here are the picks and analysis for NFL game wagers: Week 7...

Indianapolis @ Tennessee(-8.5)  (o/u 43.5)

Savant Spread Pick: Indianapolis with the points; Tennessee to win ~ 20-13
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: Indianapolis 10  Tennessee 27 / Total Score 37 /
Winner: +  Spread: -  O/U: +

The Colts come in to week 8 off of the most lopsided win since the NFL merger at the hands of the New Orleans Saints 62-7 while Tennessee comes in off of a beat down of their own getting manhandled 41-7 by the Texans.  The Titans blowout loss was far more surprising than the Colts because this is supposed to be a team that has a real chance to win the AFC South in a Peyton-less division.  The Titans are amazingly ranked last in the NFL in rushing still even with former fantasy stud Chris Johnson healthy for every game.  There has been a real debate as to whether it is the O-line of the Titans that has failed the offense or Johnson himself, who many are arguing is out of shape because of the lockout and holding out through training camp and preseason.

The Colts look simply awful and the blowout against the Saints is more an aboration than the expected outcome for the Colts even as bad as they are.  They have been highly competitive against some good teams like a very near win against the Steelers a couple of weeks ago and I expect them to make a game out of this despite losing by a touchdown.  Keep in mind that they did not have their star RB, Joseph Addai for most of the game who was out with a hamstring, but he is expected to return this week and help out the ground game for QB Curtis Painter and Co.  I see no way they win, but I think they easily keep the game within 8 points by the end.  Two below average offenses will keep it a low scoring game and should not threaten the points line.

Jacksonville @ Houston(-9.5)  (o/u 40.5)

Savant Spread Pick: Houston and the points to win ~ 24-13
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: Jacksonville 14  Houston 24 / Total Score 38 /
Winner: +  Spread: +  O/U: +
*Perfect Team Score*

This is a game that is fairly predictable.  The Jaguars have been pretty bad on offense so far this season behind starting rookie QB Blaine Gabbert and despite not having all-world WR Andre Johnson for the last few weeks(who will also be out for this game) have been lighting up the scoreboard behind all-pro RB Arian Foster.  The defense has also played well above expectations having a resurgence after finishing as the NFL's worst pass defense in 2010.

Jacksonville looked fantastic on defense last week, shutting out a good Ravens offense for most of the game last week.  On some level though, as I looked at the film from that game, credit can be given to QB Joe Flacco of the Ravens for being very bad in that game to assist the Jags D.  RB Maurice Jones-Drew has had a heavy burden to carry all year and it will continue as the young QB learns how to be a pro on the job.  The Jaguars don't have enough talent on the field to matchup with Houston and should not be able to cover the spread while the Jags offense will be too poor to score enough points to help push the over line.

Minnesota @ Carolina(-3.5)  (o/u 47)

Savant Spread Pick: Minnesota to win ~ 27-21
Over/Under Pick: Over

Result: Minnesota 24  Carolina 21 / Total Score 45 /
Winner: +  Spread: +  O/U: -
*Perfect Team Score*

Minnesota lost to the defending Super Bowl Champion Green bay Packers last week in what was a surprisingly competitive game for the Vikings and rookie QB Christian Ponder making his very first NFL start.  Carolina picked up their second win of the year with another big effort behind QB Cam Newton and re-emerging superstar WR Steve Smith.  Absolutely no one could have predicted the Cam Newton revolution happening this fast for the Panthers.  Though they only have two wins, they compete in every game behind the broad shoulders of their QB and a solid defense.

In another surprise the Vikings rookie QB, Christian Ponder, made very fast strides in his first NFL start last week in a game against the last undefeated team in the NFL.  His single game performance gave everyone a good indication that he will be under center for all of the remaining games of 2011 while veteran QB Donovan McNabb sits the bench.  RB Adrian Peterson is up to his usual dominance posting 175 yards rushing last week.  Ponder's ascension has also led to the revitalization of WR Michael Jenkins, who immediately became the favorite target of the Vikings QB after he was little used in the passing game with McNabb.  Cam will make his fantasy owners proud, but it won't be enough to overcome AP's dominance and a renewed passing game under Ponder.  Between both teams and their offensive weapons, they should push the over line.

St. Louis vs. New Orleans(-13.5)  (o/u 48)

Savant Spread Pick: New Orleans and the points to win ~ 31-13
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: St. Louis 31  New Orleans 21 / Total Score 52 /
Winner: -  Spread: -  O/U: -

There is almost no chance the Rams can win this game.  Despite playing at home, news broke today that QB Sam Bradford will miss this game for the Rams and backup QB A.J. Feeley will take his place this week.  New Orleans just got done eating QB Curtis Painter's lunch last week and should do the same to A.J. Feeley and the Rams.  The story behind this game will be the Rams inability to cover all of the weapons on offense for the Saints and the Rams will be one dimensional on offense with no passing game to speak of.  This game is a lock for New Orleans to win with the points but the bad Rams offense will keep them under a moderately high points line.

Arizona @ Baltimore(-12.5)  (o/u 43.5)

Savant Spread Pick: Arizona with the points; Baltimore to win ~ 24-14
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: Arizona 27  Baltimore 30 / Total Score 57 /
Winner: +  Spread: +  O/U: -

The big news coming out of this game heading into the week is the loss of RB Beanie Wells for the Cardinals. This is a bigger loss than people think as Wells was quietly leading the NFL in yards per game going into last week's contest.  This is especially big against a Ravens defense that can really stuff the run.  Backup RB, LaRod Stephens-Howling, is a very small slash-back that can't get the hard yards up the middle that you need to be successful against the Ravens defense.  The Cards have all-pro WR Larry Fitzgerald to make big plays but with S Ed Reed over the top at safety, it will take the deep threat away from the Cards.

Baltimore looked atrocious on offense last week but it was a very strange play-calling plan.  RB Ray Rice only got the ball eight times in what was a very close game against the Jags that resulted in a loss.  They have one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL and they wil be an angry bunch after losing a agme they should have won last week.  The Cards can remain competitive though and should make it a better game than the odds makers seem to think.  Baltimore's great defense and the up and down nature of their offense will be inconsistent enough to keep the game under the points line.

Miami @ New York(N)(-9.5)  (o/u 43.5)

Savant Spread Pick: New York and the points to win ~ 29-16
Over/Under Pick: Over

Result: Miami 17  New York(N) 20 / Total Score 37 /
Winner: +  Spread: -  O/U: -

Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse for the Dolphins, they blow a 15 point lead at home to the very bad Broncos with Tim Tebow making his first start of 2011.  This team is beaten mentally and physically.  A lot of dissension has come from the locker room through the media and it feels like a team that has lost interest in trying to win.  Aside from that, this team is just bad.  There is little to point out on this team that is positive outside having their playmaker WR Brandon Marshall who can turn a small pass into a big gain.

New York looks like they have regained their stride after an embarrassing loss to Seattle at home a couple of weeks ago.  They will also welcome the return of their big bruising RB Brandon Jacobs who missed last week.  The Giants offense is still putting up points and QB Eli Manning is having a much better season than last year's interception-fest.  Miami has no chance in this game in New York.  Aside from being bad, they historically play worse in cold weather games in the northeast.  I foresee so much offensive dominance in this game by the Giants that I believe that no matter how bad the Dolphins are on offense, they will get the points line in the over.

Washington @ Buffalo(-6)  (o/u 46)

Savant Spread Pick: Buffalo and the points to win ~ 26-13
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: Washington 0  Buffalo 23 / Total Score 23 /
Winner: +  Spread: +  O/U: +

Washington ran into a buzz-saw last week in the young and talented Cam Newton who made plays for the Panthers in the likes we've never seen.  That's not to say that they didn't have their own problems in the game.  The biggest news coming into this week is the season ending injury to their RB1 Tim Hightower, who was making big strides as the team's workhorse coming over from Arizona last year.  This shouldn't hurt them to mcuh as they have a very capable and possibly equally as good backup in RB2 Ryan Torain.  QB remains the real issue for the Redskins.  QB Rex Grossman finally played his way out of the starting job and QB John Beck came in relief last week and played ok.

In the end it's not nearly enough to stop an explosive Buffalo offense that features relatively unknown names like QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who just inked a $59 Million dollar contract extension yesterday, RB and receiving weapon Fred Jackson and deep threat, WR Stevie Johnson.  This game will be played in Toronto which will factor in Buffalo's favor.  This game will be played on the ground a lot which will burn a lot of game time and keep the game lower scoring.  There will be plenty of rushing yards gained but not many scores.  Look for this game to stay under the points line.

Denver vs. Detroit(-3)  (o/u 41.5)

Savant Spread Pick: Detroit and the points to win ~ 21-10
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: Detroit 45  Denver 10 / Total Score 53 /
Winner: +  Spread: +  O/U: -
*Perfect Team Score*

If Tim Tebow's performance last week is any indication of what the Broncos can expect from him for the rest of the season, they can plan on not seeing the end-zone very often.  The Broncos made a miraculous comeback against the Dolphins last week but it took an incredible amount of luck and a team as bad as the Dolphins to allow it to happen.  There is no stock that can be put into this win by the Broncos with the level of luck and failure on the opposition's part to make it happen.

Detroit comes into the game a little beat up.  RB1 Javhid Best will miss another game with a concussion and QB Matthew Stafford has been in a walking boot all week after spraining his ankle at the end of the game last week, but he will start.  Denver will have no answer for Calvin Johnson(who in the NFL really does?) who will see the ball often.  RB Maurice Morris is a capable running back and will give them a good enough effort to the Broncos defense honest.  Detroit's fierce D-line is going to have a field day with Tebow, who was sacked 7 times last week.  Detroit wins easily even with key players hurt and/or out.  Tebow's under 50% completion percentage and an injury to RB Willis McGahee last week that will cause him to miss this game will be a big damper on point scoring in the game.  The under looks like a safe bet as Denver may only score single digit points.

Pittsburgh vs. New England(-3)  (o/u 52.5)

Savant Spread Pick: Pittsburgh to win ~ 34-31
Over/Under Pick: Over

Result: Pittsburgh 25  New England 17 / Total Score 42 /
Winner: +  Spread: +  O/U: -

For the first time in years this matchup will come down to a shootout.  This has been a defensive game historically but this year the Steelers have developed a new-found vertical passing game with elite depp-threat WR Mike Wallace and other young talented WR's Antonio Brown and Emmanual Sanders taking big strides in catches and YPC.  They still have a strong rushing attack behind RB Rashard Mendenhall to keep linebackers creeping up on the line and opening big passing lanes for QB Ben Roethlisberger.  I anticipate Ben and the WR's will have a huge day against an uncharacteristically bad pass defense by the Patriots who rank last in that category and very low in other major defensive categories.

To counter that bad defense, QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis have this team ranked 1st in offense and have been running up the score on every opponent they face.  In the last year it has been all but sure the Patriots are going to score 30+ PPG.  They will score 30+ in this game but the Steelers will greatly expose that very bad pass defense of the Patriots and will be victorious in a game that will feature little defense.  This game is a how-in to surpass the points line even as high as it is.

Cleveland @ San Francisco(-8.5)  (o/u 38.5)

Savant Spread Pick: San Francisco and the points to win ~ 27-10
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: Cleveland 10  San Francisco 20 / Total Score 30 /
Winner: +  Spread: +  O/U: +
*Perfect Team Score*

Cleveland comes into this game in what was one of the poorest performances on offense we have seen all season.  Incredibly it went for a win against an even worse offensive performance by the Seattle Seahawks, 6-3.  It's clear that offense just can't score points like it did last year when they had a healthy RB1 Peyton Hillis.  RB2 Montario Hardesty just hasn't been able to fill those shoes in 2011.  QB Colt McCoy has looked pretty good through a season and a half but he isn't progressing as fast as other young QB's around the league.  The defense is very good, holding Seattle to just the 3 points but it isn't enough to make up for how bad that offense has been so far.

If they could only manage 6 points against the Seahawks sub-par defense, it's not out reach to say that the 49ers top ranked defense could nearly shut them out.  To their credit, they have put up some points in other games and I expect that this game could get out of hand early and the 49ers may give up points in the end of the game when the score doesn't matter but expect a dominant performance out of the 49ers defense in this game that will keep the points line in the under.

SeattleCincinnati(-3)  (o/u 37.5)

Savant Spread Pick: Seattle with the points; Cincinnati to win ~ 19-17
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: Seattle 12  Cincinnati 34 / Total Score 46 /
Winner: +  Spread: -  O/U: -

This is definitely the game of the "weak".  Seattle looked awful in scoring only 3 points against the Browns last week and Cincinnati, though 4-2 will be without their biggest offensive threat, RB Cedric Benson to a league suspension and they haven't looked overwhelming in a win yet this year.  Young QB, Andy Dalton has emerged as one of the leagues finer young QB's and has developed a great rapport with rookie WR A.J. Green who has developed into a reliable playmaker for this team.

In what will be an ugly game, the Bengals will prevail despite facing one of the NFL's toughest home-field advantages in Seattle.  Seattle may also not have RB1 Marshawn Lynch for this game either as he was pulled last week with back spasms.  Seattle is frankly too bad of a team to win this game and neither offense will do much to push the over line so look under on the points.

Dallas @ Philadelphia(-3.5)  (o/u 51)

Savant Spread Pick: Dallas with the points; Philadelphia to win ~ 24-21
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: Dallas 7  Philadelphia 34 / Total Score 41 /
Winner: +  Spread: -  O/U: +

The definitive game of the week between division rivals, Dallas comes in off of a blistering win over the winless Rams where they discovered a gem buried deep in their RB depth chart and the Eagles come in well rested off of a bye week.  When RB Felix Jones went down to injury two weeks ago, Tashard Choice filled in but he has always had a problem with ball security so they were left no choice but to try out the rookie, RB DeMarco Murray.  Murray, in his first run of the season, tore off a 91 yard TD and went on to a history setting 252 yard effort that surpassed even Emmitt Smith in a single game in Cowboys franchise history.

With the addition of newfound RB DeMarco Murray and the usual suspects RB Tony Romo and WR's Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, this bunch should put up some points on Sunday, however, I put full faith into Andy Reid and the Eagles coming off the bye week.  The Eagles, under Andy Reid, are perfect after the bye week with an extra week of rest and preparation and I believe this statistic will hold up this week.

QB Michael Vick will finally have his legs after the week of rest in a season where he has been nicked and put out of games with injury.  Dallas will struggle to contain the rushing offense of the Eagles which is tops in the NFL behind the legs of Vick and RB LeSean McCoy.  The Dallas rushing game may gash that Eagles poor run defense on a few plays but they will manage to hold it in check enough to finish the game on top.  Eagles win in a close one but the defenses will hold up enough to keep the game under a high points line in this one.

Kansas City vs. San Diego(-4)  (o/u 44)

Savant Spread Pick: San Diego and the points to win ~ 28-19
Over/Under Pick: Under

Result: Kansas City 23  San Diego 20 / Total Score 43 /
Winner: -  Spread: -  O/U: +

San Diego looked brilliant for 3 quarters last week before blowing a large lead against the Jets in New York and Kansas City comes into this Monday Night contest off of a gift win from the Oakland Raiders who had to throw in QB Kyle Boller who had 3 interceptions at halftime and were then forced to throw in newly acquired QB Carson Palmer who had only been with the team for a week and aid in an interview that he only knew 15 plays in the playbook.  With that said, there isn't much to make out of the Chiefs shutout win over the Raiders as it was the Raiders who were just highly unprepared and gave the ball away 6 times.

San Diego has way too much talent to be playing the kind of football they have been playing this far in to the season.  They have too many elite players to be scoring so few points.  At some point one has to beleve that they will break out offensively and what better time to do that than in front of the national audience on Monday Night Football.  QB Philip Rivers and the Chargers have historically played very well on Monday Night and I expect that trend to continue.  Kansas City has been a nice redemption story turning their season around from 0-3 to 3-3, but they can't run this streak forever and a divisional matchup against San Diego is just the thing to end that streak.  Emerging RB Jackie Battle will help get some points on the board for the Chiefs but I expect San Diego to take over this game early and often.  Look for these teams to score enough points to push the over on the points line.

Those are the picks for week 8.  Good luck!

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