NFL Picks: Week 13 Picks, Leans and Preview

Picks

Falcons -3 vs Vikings: I have these teams even in my power ratings so I think the spread is right. I side with the Falcons though who really need this game to maintain their position in the playoff race and stay within striking distance of the Saints for the NFC South. The Vikings put a stranglehold on the NFC North with their win on Thanksgiving Day so this isn’t as important of a game for Minnesota. My only concerns are that the Vikings had more rest and time to prepare for this game, and the Falcons host the Saints on Thursday in Week 14. If you agree with the Falcons, I would wait a little bit to see if this goes down to -2.5 or you could just take the moneyline at around -145.

Seahawks +6 vs Eagles: It’s scary to step in front of the Eagles but this line is too inflated. If this game was on a neutral field, I think that the line would be around six. This game is in Seattle and they have one of the best home field advantages despite their team being down. The game is also at night so the crowd should be even louder. Along with the line value, I like the Seahawks as an underdog in a game they need to win.

Leans

Lions +3 vs Ravens: I think the line is right but the Lions have an edge with 10 days to prepare for this game and the Ravens coming off a Monday night game. Baltimore’s offense won’t be able to expose Detroit’s struggling defense and Matthew Stafford is much better than most of the quarterbacks the Ravens have faced. Continue reading

NFL Picks: 2017 Season Win Totals

It’s very hard to find value in the NFL betting market but one area to exploit is season win totals. Four teams popped out to me as confident plays and I saw four more that peaked my interest. Here they are starting with the Super Bowl runner-up:

Falcons under 9.5 wins (-105)

Super Bowl “hangovers” have been common lately where the loser of the big game in February doesn’t meet expectations the following year. The Carolina Panthers were the latest example after their season went off the rails early and they never were able to recover. I think the Falcons will follow their division counterparts especially after the painful way they lost last season’s Super Bowl. Despite being the main reason why Atlanta squandered a big Super Bowl lead, the Falcons will miss offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. In comes Steve Sarkisian who I have a lot of questions about. I believe the other three teams in the NFC South will be improved and could all compete for a division title, which will make it a challenge for the Falcons to reach double-digit wins.

Texans under 8.5 wins (-105)

A big part of the season win totals is perception of a team. The public thinks of the Texans as a playoff team that is a good quarterback away from making some noise in January. I think there are more issues than just quarterback with this Texans team, who were 24th in the NFL in point differential last season. They were hampered by Brock Osweiler and were without J.J. Watt for most of the season, but about everything else went right for Bill O’Brien’s squad. Their defense overachieved and one of the bright spots of that unit was cornerback A.J. Bouye, who departed to the Jaguars in the offseason. They got rid of Osweiler but I’m not convinced Tom Savage or rookie DeShaun Watson will have enough success to hide the flaws on this team. The main reason I feel comfortable with under 8.5 wins is Houston only being a four-point favorite at home against Jacksonville in Week 1. That indicates the Texans are only a point or two better than the Jaguars, who have a win total currently at 6.5.

Chargers over 7.5 wins (-150)

I mentioned a few teams that I think will negatively regress. Now here’s a team that I think will positively regress and exceed expectations. Even thought they had a losing record the Chargers were one of my favorite teams last season and I felt they were undervalued due to the amount of injuries on their roster. I think Philip Rivers is an above average quarterback who has a variety of weapons. The underrated part of their team is the defense, who have a strong pass rush led by Joey Bosa and two great cornerbacks. I like that they have a new coach in Anthony Lynn because he can’t be worse than Mike McCoy and his in-game mistakes. I can see the other three teams in the division being down and think the new team in Los Angeles will benefit.

Raiders under 9.5 wins (-110)

Staying in the AFC West but back to an under of a team that I think will regress. This is my favorite season win total play and was thrilled when I saw this at 9.5 because I think 8.5 wins would be more appropriate for this team. The reason for the inflated number could be because the Raiders are back to being a public side and now they are Las Vegas’ team. There were countless games last year where they needed everything to go right to win, and I think Jack Del Rio and his risky decisions won’t work with the same success this year. I love that Oakland is a popular over play and Super Bowl bet because it’s common for the preseason darlings to disappoint in the NFL.

Here are four more teams that barely missed the cut as a season win total play but I will be looking to play on or against these teams early in the season:

Broncos: I really question the Broncos, who are lined at 8.5 wins, quarterback situation and running game. They did bring in a new coaching staff but I think their defense will miss Wade Phillips.

Chiefs: The win total for Kansas City is nine and I have a hard time seeing the Chiefs win 10 games again with Alex Smith under center. They rely too much on having an edge in the turnover battle and special teams success for them to sustain winning seasons. I’m going to look to fade Kansas City in games where they are a favorite.

Dolphins: This team won 10 games last year despite having a negative point differential. Now they are lined at 7.5 wins and if this ever got to eight wins I would be much more interested in the under. I think Jay Cutler will be fine but the defense is a huge concern.

Rams: This is the one team I would consider over at 5.5 wins and will look to back them early in the season. Wade Phillips left the Broncos for the Rams and I think he can turn the pieces on the defensive side of the ball into a very strong unit. I also like that Phillips can mentor 31-year-old head coach Sean McVay, who is clearly a bright offensive mind. Really anything is better than Jeff Fisher so I can see the Rams being an under-the-radar covering machine.

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

Buccaneers vs Falcons Pick

Have a few games circled this week but wanted to lock this pick in before I the line moves. I like the Falcons to return home and cover a seven-point spread against the Buccaneers on Sunday. The Falcons are coming off an ugly 10-7 win over the Titans. Atlanta  had several chances to cover the spread in that game but failed to do so. I think this week is a great chance for their offense to get on track.

The Buccaneers blew a 24-point lead to the Redskins on Sunday. I think they will have trouble bouncing back after such a heartbreaking loss. In this game game last year in Atlanta, the Falcons jumped out to a 56-0 lead over the Buccaneers before winning 56-14. I don’t think Atlanta will win by that margin but I can see a comfortable win for the home side.

Pick: Falcons (-7) over Buccaneers

NFL: Week 4 Picks

There are a lot games to stay away from this week but I found three underdogs that I predict will cover and possibly win straight up.

Texans (+6) over Falcons: The line for this game was Falcons -3.5 before Week 3 action. The Falcons improved to 3-0 with a win over Brandon Weeden and the Cowboys. The Texans picked up their first win of the season at home against the Buccaneers. I don’t see why there was a 2.5-point line move in favor of Atlanta. A lot of people are impressed with the Falcons but they have won all there games as small underdogs. Now they have a different role as a big favorite and I think they struggle trying to cover this number. The Texans have a solid defense and will keep this game close.

Giants (+5) over Bills: The Bills are another team that the public is in love with after a 2-1 start. I was on the Bills last week and they dominated against the Dolphins. Now injuries have caught up with Buffalo as running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins are out for this game. The Giants have an extra three days to prepare for this one and are a few plays away from being 3-0. This is a pretty big number for quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the Bills to cover. I think Buffalo has a letdown after three grueling games against the Colts, Patriots and Dolphins.

Rams (+7) over Cardinals: The Rams burned me last week but they I’m going back to them this week. The lookahead line going into Week 3 was Cardinals -4 for this game. The Rams falling to the Steelers 12-6, and the Cardinals routing the 49ers by 40 points is the reason the line has reached a full touchdown. The Cardinals played a great game against the 49ers but that was set up by two interception returns for touchdowns in the first six minutes. The 49ers were only a 6-point underdog in that game and the Rams are a better team than the 49ers this season. Along with the line value, Jeff Fisher teams do great in an underdog role against division teams. Last year the Rams led the Cardinals going into the fourth quarter in Arizona. The Cardinals scored 21 fourth quarter points, including two defensive touchdowns to get the 17-point win. But the Rams played the Cardinals close and the score was misleading. Arizona is 3-0 but they beat the Saints, Bears and 49ers who are a combined 1-8 this season. My strongest pick of the week is to take the Rams against the spread.