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: Preseason Week 1 Handicapping Preview

Some see the NFL preseason as bad football but I see it as great opportunities to find point spread value. Unlike the regular season, coaches usually open up about their game plan. If you read articles and tweets from beat writers, you will find out how many snaps the starters will play and how the team will approach the game.

It’s too early in the week to know about how teams will approach these games but I have found three contests in Week 1 of preseason where I think I have a strong angle.

One thing I look for when picking preseason games is quarterback competitions. There are several teams with two of more quarterbacks that still think they will win the job and will be giving their maximum effort when they get an opportunity. I also looked at teams with new coaches. The best way to win over a fan base and impress the local media is to win in your home debut. There a several of those cases right off the bat.

Buccaneers at Eagles (-3) 

The Eagles haven’t played a game under Doug Pederson but the pressure is already on the first-time head coach. It started when the team re-signed Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel followed Pederson from Kansas City to Philadelphia. It looked like those two would battle for the starting quarterback job until a third player entered the picture. The Eagles traded a package of draft picks for FCS star Carson Wentz. It looks like Bradford is the favorite to start in Week 1 of the regular season but it can’t help his confidence that his coach wanted a player from North Dakota State so desperately that they traded valuable assets for him.

Philadelphia is a market that wants to win now and the media isn’t shy to share their honest opinions about the team. Because of that I think Pederson will want to make a statement in his first home game in charge, even if it doesn’t count in the standings. Quieting the media and satisfying the fans early should be motivation for the Eagles to want to win the game.

As mentioned before, the quarterback competition for the Eagles is still up for grabs so we should see four quarters of play from three motivated players who think they can win the job. Chase Daniel is familiar preseason situations from his days with the Saints and Chiefs so this pick is partly on him to play well. The motivation for the new coach and quarterback competition leads me to taking the Eagles.

Pick: Eagles (-3) over Buccaneers

Cowboys at Rams (-3.5)

The NFL is back in Los Angeles and the Rams open their preseason schedule at home against the Cowboys. A few factors have me favoring the Rams against the spread in this game even though they are giving more than a field goal. Motivation is the first reason as the Rams will want to put on a show for their new fan base and collect a win.

The Rams are another team with a quarterback competition. Case Keenum is listed as the starter for now but rookie Jared Goff has to believe he can win the job, and St. Louis might leave the first team offense out so the first overall pick gets a fair shot.

This pick is also a play against the Cowboys. Dallas was plagued by injuries last season and it’s already beginning in training camp. Backup quarterback Kellen Moore broke his ankle and running back Ezekiel Elliott has been banged up. The Cowboys main priority is to get out of the preseason without anymore injuries, so I’m guessing Tony Romo and the starters will only see one series if they suit up.

The Moore injury really hampers the Cowboys in this game as rookie Dak Prescott is now the backup. Jameill Showers is Dallas’ other option. I’ll take the Rams here as they have a huge edge when it comes to the quarterback position and the motivation angle.

Pick: Rams (-3.5) over Cowboys

Texans at 49ers (-3)

The biggest takeaway from the 2015 preseason was that Chip Kelly wants to win and isn’t afraid to run up the score. Philadelphia finished the month 3-1 with a point differential of +56. Kelly showed off his hand-picked offensive offensive weapons and the buzz was so great that the Eagles became a Super Bowl favorite because of their exhibition game play.

Things didn’t work out in Philly and now Kelly is back on the west coast with the 49ers. He faces a huge challenge as he tries to resurrect the career of Colin Kaepernick and attempts to get the most out of Blaine Gabbert. It doesn’t look pretty but these two players will be looking to impress their new coach and win the starting job. Kelly will let both play and he’s a coach you want to back in preseason based off his track record.

The Texans have a new quarterback and running back this season but here’s another team that just needs to get out of the preseason without anymore injuries. Most notably, J.J. Watt is in danger of missing the start of the regular season after undergoing back surgery. Houston will want Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller to get used to the new offense but I’m going to predict Houston will wait until the second or third game of preseason to put them on display. The 49ers are a bad team but I feel comfortable in supporting Chip Kelly in this spot.

Pick: 49ers (-3) over Texans

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.

NFL: Week 12 Picks

Here are my Week 12 NFL picks and the rest of the contest picks:

Under 49 in Eagles vs Titans

Lions (+7.5) over Patriots

Vikings (+9) over Packers

Bengals (+2) over Texans

Buccaneers (+6) over Bears

Chargers (-5) over Rams

Giants (+3.5) over Cowboys

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Colts vs Texans Preview

Big AFC South showdown on Thursday night when Indianapolis travels to Houston. I don’t have an official pick for this game and want to explain my reasoning. The Colts are a three-point favorite on the road. If you take away Houston’s home field advantage then Indianapolis would be a 5.5 or six-point favorite. It would make them over a touchdown favorite if this game was at Lucas Oil Stadium, and that line would be way too high and never get posted. So there is definitely value on the Texans here who I think would be a two-point underdog on a neutral field against the Colts.

The problem with Houston is they are coming off an overtime game in Dallas on a short week. The Texans allowed 75 plays to the Cowboys, and you have to wonder if the defense will be tired on Thursday night. The Colts dominated the Ravens statistically on Sunday and ran 80 plays of their own.

The value is on the Texans but the situation favors the Colts. That’s why I wouldn’t pick this game but would take the Texans +3 in a contest. I will be posting my college football and NFL picks either Thursday night or Friday morning this week.

NFL: Week 5 Picks

I like quite a few games in the NFL this week but narrowed it down to three very confident picks. I started the week 1-0 in contest picks. Here is my thoughts on the rest of Week 5:

Bears at Panthers (-3)

My line: Panthers -0.5

Analysis: The Bears are the better team but offensive line injuries is why I’m only leaning towards Chicago.

Pick: Pass (Contest: Bears)

Browns at Titans (-1.5)

My line: Titans -1

Analysis: Really don’t know what to expect from this game. The Titans have struggled three straight games and the Browns are coming off a bye. I’ll give the edge to Brian Hoyer.

Pick: Pass (Browns)

Rams at Eagles (-7)

My line: Eagles -6.5

Analysis: Eagles haven’t impressed me at all this season. The Rams are coming off a bye and Jeff Fisher has a great history as an underdog. I think the Rams can win this game straight up.

Pick: Rams

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