NFL Picks: Super Bowl Props

I wrote briefly last week that I like New England -3 in the Super Bowl. Based on my prediction and handicap for the game, I was led to about a dozen game, team and player props that I like. There are so many props that it could be overwhelming but I carefully selected the ones below and believe each is worth a play.

First quarter under 13.5 (-125): It has been noted all week that the Patriots have played low-scoring first quarters in the six Super Bowls with Belichick and Brady. The last Super Bowl against Seattle started with a scoreless first quarter. There is worry here about the Falcons streak of scoring on their opening drive but with a total of 13.5, I still like it to stay under early on.

First half under 28.5 (-110): I lean under 58 for the full game but not confident enough to bet it. So don’t mess around and just take the first half in case the end of the game becomes a shootout.

No defensive or special teams touchdown (-190): Two really good offenses that take care of the ball. Super Bowls tend to be conservative so turnovers that lead to a score are less likely. This is a prop people like betting the yes because of the plus-money payout so there’s some value on the no.

Julian Edelman +2.5 (-115) receiving yards over Julio Jones: Dion Lewis stole the show in the divisional round and Chris Hogan was the focal point of the offensive attack in the conference championship game. I think it will be Julian Edelman’s turn in this game. Julio Jones was the non-quarterback star last round and the Patriots are known for taking away a team’s top option. I think they will focus their defensive attention towards him and limit his big-play receptions.

Taylor Gabriel +9.5 (-115) receiving yards over Chris Hogan: Because I think the Patriots contain Julio Jones, other receivers for the Falcons will get soft coverage. I can see Gabriel as one of the players that benefits plus this is a way to fade Chris Hogan coming off a career game in the previous round.

Falcons under 28.5 total points (-115): I think the Patriots will win and cover as three-point favorites. I also lean under for the game so it makes sense that I have a strong opinion of Atlanta staying under their team total.

Tom Brady over 310.5 passing yards (-120): This is a very public pick but I envision Brady throwing a lot and getting large chunks of yards based on how I see the game playing out.

LeGarrette Blount under 14.5 rushing attempts (-115): This is correlated to my prediction that Brady will throw for a lot of yards and also the fact that Dion Lewis will take some carries away from Blount. James White is another option in the backfield. I can see Blount getting wiped out of the game script, which would keep his attempts down since he’s a non-factor in the passing game.

Julian Edelman over 95.5 receiving yards (-115): Just in case Julio Jones breaks a long reception, take this one to protect the matchup bet.

Matt Ryan over 38.5 pass attempt (-120): I think the Falcons will be trailing most of the game so that sets up for Ryan to throw. When he’s not targeting Julio Jones, he can throw to Gabriel, Muhammad Sanu and a pair of running backs with receiving ability.

Julio Jones under 97.5 receiving yards (-115): I still like this one without Edelman attached to the matchup. Slight overreaction to this number after Jones torched a porous Packers secondary.

Muhammad Sanu over 52.5 receiving yards (-115): Another player that will see a boost because of Julio Jones getting most of the Patriots attention. Since I see Matt Ryan throwing a lot, I think the targets will be there for Sanu. Consider over 4.5 receptions as well.

Patriots under 115.5 rushing yards (-115): This is a team total for New England and I think they win by throwing the ball. It feels high based on how I see the game unfolding and it helps because Brady doesn’t rush for many yards himself.

Second half + overtime is higher scoring than first half (-135): I like first half under but worried about full game under because of scoring at the end. That logic leads to an obvious play on this prop, which I think is a strong angle for most Super Bowls.

Final score prediction for fun: Patriots 31, Falcons 24

NFL: Early Super Bowl Pick

I’m a little surprised the line is only New England -3. The Falcons have a historically good offense but the Patriots are experienced and a great team against the spread.

While the Falcons were routing the Packers on Sunday I decided that I will probably like the AFC team in the Super Bowl. Atlanta played as well as they could and because of that I think there’s some line value on the Patriots. If the Patriots played a closer game against the Steelers then this could’ve been under a field goal but Pittsburgh was really unimpressive.
I can’t pick against Tom Brady in this situation who has extra motivation after serving a suspension to start the season. I also can’t pick against Belichick with extra time to prepare.
I know I like the Patriots for the game and would lean under 58. However, these are two high-flying offenses so I don’t feel comfortable taking the under. Maybe Falcons team total under if anything. This also feels like a game where the two teams start slow so first quarter under and more points in the second half than first half are things I’m considering. I will write something with all the props I like next week when everything is released and lines settle in.

NFL: Week 11 Handicapping Preview

A few thoughts on some NFL Week 11 games that stick out:

Buccaneers at Chiefs (-7.5): Anytime Alex Smith and the Chiefs are giving more than a touchdown it’s usually a time to look at their opponent. The Chiefs continue to be a puzzling team to me. They really limped to the finish line to beat but not cover against the Jaguars. Last week they were outplayed for three quarters and then stole one against the Panthers. The Buccaneers are a team riddled by injuries. At one point they were down to their fourth-string running back and James Winston has hit a bit of a sophomore slump. The good news for Tampa is that Doug Martin is healthy, which could open up the offense to Winston and Mike Evans. I think it’s a good time to buy low on the Buccaneers who are getting a little healthier and catching the Chiefs the week before a big showdown with the Denver Broncos.

Bears at Giants (-7.5): The Giants are 6-3 but it’s hard to say they have been very impressive. They are coming off a one-point win on Monday night and have been on the right side of a lot of close games this season. Luckily for New York they catch the Bears off a humiliating loss in Tampa Bay. Alshon Jeffery is will serve the first game of his four-game suspension and Chicago will be missing a key piece in Kyle Long. The Giants play the Browns next week but after that I will look for opportunities to sell high and fade Ben McAdoo’s team.

Cardinals at Vikings (Pick): I think it says a lot about the Cardinals that they only beat the 49ers by three points coming off a bye week. They are being priced like a Super Bowl contender but I think Arizona is just above average. The Vikings are on a four-game losing streak but I saw a few encouraging moments from their offense last week against the Redskins. Minnesota is in a new stadium and have a great home field edge. It’s hard to find the courage to back the Vikings but I think this is the spot to do it against an overvalued Cardinals team.

Ravens at Cowboys (-7): The Cowboys are coming off a statement win in Pittsburgh, and now have won and covered eight straight games. Dallas has a Thanksgiving game next Thursday against the Redskins so this would seem like the classic “sandwich game” to fade the Cowboys. However, I don’t have much faith in the Ravens especially their offense. Because of that I would look at the under in this game, which is at 45. The Ravens don’t let up many points and I can see the Cowboys playing at a much slower pace after last week’s shootout.

Texas vs Raiders (-6): I could understand if the Raiders were six-point favorites at home but this game is on a neutral site in Mexico City. I know the Texans have a lot of injuries but there seems to be tremendous value on Houston. The Raiders seem to be one of the favorite public teams and this game is on Monday night. With the players on the field it might be hard to gather up a case for the Texans other than I think this point spread is way too high. Let’s just say I would consider the Texans at +6 if this game was in the Bay Area. So by that logic I should like them in Mexico.

NFL : Week 8 Handicapping Preview

Finished 2-1 last week in my Twitter picks as the Dolphins and Chargers won straight up as underdogs. Fell short on the Steelers.

This week is a tough week with six teams on bye and two more in London, which is a game I never like to pick. Last night was a bad Thursday game between the Jaguars and Titans so really limited on the games to select this week. Because of that I’m not really close to an official pick but could change my mind before Sunday. I have small leans on the Saints +2.5, Lions +2.5 and Chargers +4.5. The Saints would probably be a pick if they got to +3 but I missed out when it was at that number early in the week. It’s a bad spot for Seattle who just played five physical quarters against the Cardinals and now have to travel for an early game in New Orleans.

If anything convinces in the next 48 hours, I will tweet out what I like.

NFL: Week 7 Handicapping Preview

Didn’t write last week but went 3-1 with the picks I tweeted in Week 6. Here are my early thoughts on the Week 7 slate with Wednesday morning lines. I have three games I’m very close to officially picking and called those side strong leans. There are also a handful of other games I have interest in and shared how I approached those teams so far. As always I will tweet out official picks between now and Sunday.

Strong Leans:

Chargers +6.5 at Falcons

The Falcons are coming off a tough loss against the Seahawks and have the Packers on deck. Great time to fade the Falcons who struggled in this favorite role last season. Chargers with extra time to prepare.

Steelers +7 vs Patriots

Injured-player theory after the Ben Roethlisberger injury. We’re getting a full touchdown with a Steelers team at home who have a healthy Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Think Steelers bounce back after a clunker last week against the Dolphins.

Dolphins +3 vs Bills

One thing holding me back from loving Miami is they are coming off a big win against the Steelers but that could be a good thing for this team. Bills have won four straight but in an easy stretch of their schedule. Buffalo host New England next week so definitely a lookahead spot for the Bills.

Leans:

Packers -7.5 vs Bears

Best time to buy low on the Packers who are playing their fourth straight home game. Revenge for Green Bay after Chicago won at Lambeau on Thanksgiving night last season. Lookahead line was -10 so definitely some line value despite injuries at running back for Packers.

Redskins +1 at Lions

Don’t love the Redskins overall but think this is a bad matchup for the Lions who gave up 321 passing yard to Case Keenum last week. The injury status of Jordan Reed will likely decide if I officially pick this game.

Raiders +1 at Jaguars

Raiders have won three games on the road in the eastern or central time zone. They are tempting as an underdog here and seem to play better away from home.

Colts +3 at Colts

Not sure if the Titans should be giving a field goal against a team with a good quarterback. The Colts lost a heart-breaking game last week but they have to believe the division is still up for grabs.

Texans +7.5 at Broncos

The Brock Osweiler revenge spot isn’t part of my handicap for this game. I just don’t think Trevor Siemian should be over a touchdown favorite against an average team.

Vikings -2.5 at Eagles

No reason to back off the Vikings who are coming off a bye week and have an intimidating defense against a rookie quarterback.

Buccaneers -2 at 49ers

Buccaneers are also off a bye so this seems like a great spot for them. But have to hesitate to back them as favorites on the road.

NFL: Week 5 Picks

It’s only Thursday after but I have two picks I really like in the NFL.

Lions +3.5 over Eagles 

I was down on the Eagles before the season when they still had Sam Bradford. After they traded Bradford I was still down on them because I thought they would be in a rebuilding year with Carson Wentz under center. The Eagles have started 3-0 and I’ll admit that I was completely wrong about them. However, they are getting too much respect here and shouldn’t be a favorite by over a field goal on the road. They beat the Browns, Bears and caught the Steelers after they had a physical win against the Bengals. The bye week was the worst thing to happen Philly and Wentz got an extra week for people to tell him how good he has been playing. Detroit needs this game to save their season and maybe for Jim Caldwell to keep his job.

Bengals -1 over Cowboys 

I’ll keep this one short because I simply think the Bengals are a better team and don’t think the Cowboys have much of a home field advantage. I like that the Bengals played last Thursday and have an extra time to prepare. The Cowboys have had a very soft schedule and Dez Bryant looks unlikely to play. Dallas was down 14-0 at one point to San Francisco last week and the Bengals aren’t a team you want to play while trailing. I’m not a fan of Cincinnati’s offense but they basically just have to win here.

I’m fading both rookie quarterbacks who have combined for zero turnovers in seven games this season. Think they both slow down this week and make some mistakes. I am mulling over a few other games and will tweet out additional picks that I add before Sunday afternoon. I will say that I’m leaning towards the Ravens, Titans, Jets, Bills and Chargers against the spread but don’t fell confident enough yet to make any official.

NFL: Week 2 Handicapping Preview

Some thoughts on all 16 NFL games in Week 2. These are just opinions and I will tweet out any officials picks I make between now and Sunday morning.

Overreaction in the line?

Jets at Bills (+1.5)

Before Week 1 the Bills were a three-point favorite in this game. Money has come in on the Jets all week and we’ve seen a 4.5-point adjustment as of Wednesday night. The Bills looked awful against the Ravens especially on offense and now Sammy Watkins could be sidelined. I still don’t think that’s enough to justify the line move because Ralph Wilson Stadium will be rocking on Thursday night.

Chiefs at Texans (-3)

The line before Week 1 here was Texas -1.5. That seems fair to bring it up to a full field goal after the Chiefs needed a miraculous comeback to beat the Chargers in Week 1. However, the overreaction in this line comes from the Wild Card round last season. The Chiefs were between a three or 3.5-point favorite in Houston for that game. The Chiefs core remains intact and the difference for the Texans is Brock Osweiler will start instead of Brian Hoyer. Osweiler is an upgrade but not six points better. Remember the Texans were bet down to -4 against the Bears on Sunday morning. The Chiefs are much better than the Bears so seems like the value lies with Andy Reid’s squad.

Buccaneers at Cardinals (-6.5)

This line was at -8.5 before the Buccaneers beat the Falcons and Cardinals fell to the Patriots. The Cardinals were a -6 favorite against the Patriots before Rob Gronkowski didn’t make the trip to Glendale. When word got out that Gronkowski was out, the line ballooned to as much as -9.5. If the Patriots with Gronkowski were getting six then the Buccaneers should be over a touchdown underdog here. I don’t love taking bigger NFL favorites against the spread but this seems like the opportunity.

Colts at Broncos (-6.5)

Before I talk about the overreaction here, Trevor Siemian is a 6.5-point favorite over Andrew Luck. That is all I need to know to have a strong opinion on the Colts this week. The Indianapolis defense was horrible against the Lions but this line was -3.5 before last week. Siemian was fine in the opener against the Panthers but think he will show up flat here. A lot of value on the underdog with a huge edge at quarterback.

Bet against teams after crushing losses?

Saints at Giants (-4.5)

The Saints under Sean Payton have proven to be a much better team at home then on the road. Last week they blew a two-touchdown lead to the Raiders and lost by one point at home. Hard to see the Saints picking themselves up as they go outdoors to play the Giants. I’m not thrilled that the Giants are a favorite by this much but might be worth at shot.

Jaguars at Chargers (-3)

The Chargers picked up right where they left off from last season. In Week 1, they blew a big lead against division foe Kansas City. Now they return home where they have no advantage and the fans know they are leaving town after this season. San Diego’s offense stalled last week when Keenan Allen tore his ACL so not sure they should be a field goal favorite here.

Trust ugly ‘dogs? 

Titans at Lions (-5.5)

The Titans lost by more than a score to the Vikings but were unfortunate to give up two defensive touchdowns. Eliminating those costly turnovers would’ve made it a closer game. The Lions beat the Colts but now come into this game in a favorite role. Don’t think the Lions should be favorite by this many but you have to ask yourself if you are willing to back a team that is 5-28 in their last 33 games.

Ravens at Browns (+7)

Always have to favor home underdogs of more than a touchdown even if it’s the horrible Browns. This game could fall into the overreaction category because it was a 3.5-point line before Week 1. Josh McCown comes in for the injured Robert Griffin III, which I actually think is an upgrade for Cleveland. The Ravens offense was stagnant last week and Joe Flacco looks like he is still recovering from his knee injury. However, are you willing to back a really ugly underdog in this situation?

Seahawks at Rams

Not going to post a line here because the injury status of Russell Wilson will determine the spread. Although, some places have the Seahawks as a seven-point road favorite, which means they are assuming Wilson will play. The Rams played as bad as you can play on Monday night but don’t want to overreact to just 60 minutes of football. Jeff Fisher thrives in this situation as an underdog in a division game. The Rams also swept the Seahawks last season so if there was a situation for the Rams to cover, it would be in this game in their first contest back in Los Angeles.

Games I’m (likely) staying away from 

Falcons at Raiders (-5.5)

What have the Raiders done where they should be favorite by 5.5 against a team that’s only below average? The Falcons aren’t good enough to trust so I’m staying away.

Eagles at Bears (-3)

Carson Wentz was terrific in Week 1, which means I can see him struggling in this setting on Monday night. The Bears as a favorite usually doesn’t end well and Chicago’s home field advantage has really decreased over the last several seasons. Maybe look under in this game.

Packers at Vikings (+2)

Sounds like Sam Bradford will start but need to wait and see how he plays before taking the Vikings with confidence.

Dolphins at Patriots (-6.5)

Wish these teams weren’t playing each other so I could fade both of them here. Dolphins are playing their second road game in a row and went all the way to Seattle last week to lose in the final minute. The Patriots had a huge effort on Sunday night and this game is set up for them to have a huge letdown.

Bengals at Steelers (-3.5)

Steelers looked great on Monday night but Bengals are playing with playoff revenge. Can’t really pick a side here but can see if being a hard-nosed AFC North game where points are harder to come by.

Cowboys at Redskins (-2.5)

Never force a pick on a NFC East game. Such a hard division to figure out as we saw last week in Dallas.

49ers at Panthers (-13)

This is an awful schedule spot for the 49ers. They played on Monday night and now have to go across the country to play a 10 am pacific time game. The Panthers had four extra days to prepare and are coming off that Thursday night loss. Laying double digits in the NFL is tough but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Panthers dominate. A first half play might be a suggestion since the game is early.