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: Early Week 1 Bets

The NFL season starts three weeks from tonight but lines for Week 1 were available hours after the NFL schedule was released in April. Here are five games that interest me the most, including four where I endorse a bet at the current number:

Titans PK vs Raiders

I’ll be fading the Raiders as much as I can and I’m high on the Titans. Maybe not as high as some but I think this is a perfect spot for Tennessee who catch the Raiders playing at 10 Pacific Time. The Titans also have revenge on their mind from a narrow loss to the Raiders last season. Look for the Tennessee offense to expose Oakland’s defense.

Buccaneers PK at Dolphins

Take this number now because it will continue to move. It looks like the Buccaneers will end up going off as a favorite by kickoff. Miami hardly has a home field advantage and I think it will take Cutler some time to get used to his new home. Tampa Bay impressed last year in Week 1 by beating the Falcons in Atlanta and I expect another strong start for Dirk Koetter’s team.

Chargers +3.5 at Broncos

I explained why I like the Chargers and why I’m looking to bet against the Broncos in my season win totals article. It’s convenient they play each other in Week 1. The bad news is people will learn how good the Chargers will be this season since this is a national TV game and we won’t get much value on them going forward.

Under 47.5 in Eagles-Redskins

Last year these two teams played in Landover and the total closed at 45. It barely went over but the Eagles scored a special teams and defensive touchdown to help the game go past the total. Now the total is higher but it’s falling a little bit, so take this as soon as possible. I think the Redskins offense will sputter early with a new offensive coordinator. On the other side, I’ll trust that Jim Schwartz’s defense will be ready for the Redskins but can’t say the same about Doug Pederson and his offense. Division games tend to be tighter and low-scoring, and think this total is set too high.

Cowboys (if it gets to -2.5 or less) vs Giants

When Ezekiel Elliott was given a six-game suspension I immediately wondered how linemakers would react to the Cowboys Week 1 affair with the Giants. Obviously Elliott is a top running back but how much off a drop-off is a fresh Darren McFadden especially since Dak Prescott proved that Dallas has a very efficient passing game. The line ended up moving slightly after the Elliott announcement to keep this spread still over a field goal. I wouldn’t get involved yet but would love to take the Cowboys giving less than a field goal against a Giants team that has an aging quarterback and lackluster run game.

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.

Eagles Season Win Total Pick

I don’t think it’s a secret that the Philadelphia Eagles are going to struggle to win games in 2016. There has been nothing but negative press about the team since they hired Doug Pederson, whose only previous head coaching experience was on the high school level. Pederson played and was an assistant in Philadelphia, and comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree. He followed Reid to Kansas City and served as the offensive coordinator for a unit known for their methodical play. The Chiefs were second to last in offensive plays per game in 2015. Pederson inherits a mess left by Chip Kelly and takes over an offense that ran the second most plays last year.

I outlined the Eagles quarterback situation in my Week 1 preseason predictions. Since that game, Carson Wentz suffered broken ribs but hopes to return before the preseason is over.

The Eagles are thin at skill positions on offense. Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles were two players that Kelly brought in at running back and remain on the roster. Mathews is injury prone and Sproles is a situational back. Wide receiver is another area that is lacking in skill on the depth chart. Jordan Matthews isn’t a No. 1 receiver yet and there’s a lot of question marks after that. Kelly drafted and signed his own players who are used to playing in a high-tempo offense. It will be hard for the current players on the roster to adjust to how slow the Eagles will play.

The Eagles took another blow when offensive lineman Lane Johnson was suspended 10-games for a failed PED test. I watched the Eagles first preseason game and they couldn’t keep Chase Daniel or Wentz up right. It’s a bad offensive line and even worse if Johnson’s suspension is upheld.

My prediction for the Eagles season is they start 2-6 or worse. Sam Bradford will fail to play well and the Eagles fans will call for Wentz to start. Eventually Pederson will cave in and bench Bradford for the rookie. When Wentz is in it will be a downgrade at the quarterback position. The team will have less of a chance to win games but it will benefit them in the future. However, this bet is for this season and I don’t see a way the Eagles win eight or more games. Take the under on their season win total because I think they will finish with one of the worst records in the NFL.

Pick: Eagles under 7 (-165)

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 16 Picks

Eagles (-3) over Redskins: The Redskins can win the division with a win but I think the NFC East will be decided in Week 17. I was dead wrong about the Eagles last week but think they bounce back here.

Buccaneers (-3) over Bears: This is a revenge game for Lovie Smith against his former employers. The Bears are already thinking about the offseason and the Buccaneers have pride to play for.

Broncos (-3) over Bengals: Can’t see AJ McCarron doing well in a primetime environment against a great defense. The Broncos need this game more and I think they win by over a field goal.

NFL: Week 15 Picks

Giants (+5) over Panthers: I think this is the week the Panthers lose. The Giants are getting way too many points at home and the Panthers are on the verge of locking up home field advantage in the NFC. Finishing 16-0 would be nice for the team but success in the playoffs is more important.

Packers (-3) over Raiders: I think this will be a high-scoring game as well so I have no problem with taking a road favorite at a field goal. The Raiders are coming off a big win over the Broncos last week and think they have a letdown especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Raiders offense will move the ball but think they lose by a touchdown.

Eagles (+4) over Cardinals: I think this is a field goal game either way and the Eagles are a much improved team with Sam Bradford at quarterback.