NFL: Wild Card Weekend Handicapping

Chiefs (-3) at Texans: A lot has changed to since the Chiefs and Texans played in Week 1. Kansas City lost five straight after their win at Houston but followed that up with 10 straight victories. It’s hard to find an impressive opponent in that 10-game stretch. They beat the Steelers with Landry Jones starting and the Broncos in Peyton Manning’s worst game of his career. The Texans started the season 2-5 but have bounced back to win the AFC South. The Houston defense has been dominant down the stretch.

The Chiefs are a field goal favorite on the road meaning they would be about a six-point favorite on a neutral field. This means Kansas City would be a nine-point favorite at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs closed as a 6.5-point favorite last week against the Raiders, and I think Houston is a better team than Oakland. So there’s line vale on the Texans but I don’t trust Houston enough to make this an official pick.

I am going to pass on picking a side in this game. One way I would approach this game is to take the Chiefs to cover the first half spread, and then take the Texans in the second half. The total of this game is 40 and I would only be able to take the under.

Steelers (-3) at Bengals: Four weeks ago the Bengals closed as a one-point favorite at home against the Steelers. Cincinnati still had Andy Dalton but money came in on the Steelers because they faced a must-win situation. Now there has been a four-point line move in a game with the same two teams at the same stadium.

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Steelers vs Seahawks Pick

This game is six days away but I think the best line is available now if you want the underdog. The Seahawks are currently a five-point home favorite against the Steelers, who are coming off a bye week. I think the line is too big and the Steelers are equal to the Seahawks on a neutral field.

The reason why I’m taking this game early is because of the injury status of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. If he is announced out for this game, the line will drop whether it’s justified or not. Thomas Rawls showed he is a capable backup in Week 11 but the public will like the Steelers more with a star running back out. Don’t wait on this one and take Pittsburgh.

Pick: Steelers (+5) over Seahawks

Bengals vs Steelers Pick

This is my strongest opinion of the week as long as Ben Roethlisberger plays. The quarterback is expected to start after missing the last four games in a knee injury. Pittsburgh went 2-2 in that span with wins against the Chargers and Cardinals. Running back Le’Veon Bell, and wide receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant have stepped up for the Steelers offense. The Steelers defense has always had impressive showings and seem to be improving as the year goes on.

The Bengals are 6-0 and coming off a bye. A lot of people are impressed with the team so far but I think this a week where the offense can be slowed down. Having a bye may have not been beneficial for this team who were really clicking on offense.

The Steelers need to win this game if they have any chance at the division. I think they should be the favorite in this game so I’ll take them at a pick ’em price.

Pick: Steelers (pick ’em) over Bengals

NFL: Week 3 Picks

Rams (+1) over Steelers: I think the wrong team is the favorite in this game. The Steelers are coming off a blowout victory against the 49ers but the result is misleading. The 49ers were coming off a Monday night game and had to make the long trip to Pittsburgh on a short week. The Rams had a letdown against the Redskins after beating the Seahawks in Week 1. I think the Rams bounce back and we are getting some value after their poor performance against the Redskins. The Steelers play the Ravens on Thursday night in Week 4 so this is a lookahead game for them.

Eagles (+1.5) over Jets: Another game where we can take advantage of overreaction. The Eagles are 0-2 and their offense is struggling. The Jets are coming off a big Monday win at the Colts. Coming back on a short week is a tough spot for New York. The Eagles would the favorite in this game if they won one of their first two games and I think now is the perfect time to buy low on Chip Kelly’s team.

Ravens (-2.5) over Bengals: This game is the season for the Ravens. They started 0-2 after falling to two AFC West opponents. Despite the two road defeats I think Baltimore still has a great chance of making the playoffs but they have to win this game. The Bengals might be a little better than the Ravens but considering home field and the situation, I think the Ravens cover.

Bills (+3) over Dolphins: The Bills were getting too much respect last week and closed as a favorite against the Patriots. They got in a shootout with the Patriots, and this Bills team won’t win games playing high-scoring games. They need to run the ball and play well on defense, which is what they did against the Colts in Week 1. There was a lot of preseason hype surrounding the Dolphins this preseason but they have not been impressive in games over the Redskins and Jaguars. I see this being a low-scoring game and the Bills winning straight up.

Lions (+3) over Broncos: Another situation where I will back a 0-2 team that needs to win. The Lions are a much better team at home and the building will be rocking on a Sunday night. Despite winning and covering in the first two games, I have not been impressed with Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. If Denver loses to Kansas City then this line is probably closer to a pick ’em. I’ll take my chances with the Lions.

Steelers Season Win Total Pick

Pick: Steelers over 8.5 wins (-135)

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has been in Pittsburgh for eight seasons. The team has won nine games or more in six of those seasons. Other than a pair of 8-8 seasons in 2012 and 2013, the Steelers have won more games than their posted season win total for 2015. The Pittsburgh defense was going through a rebuild in the two seasons where they finished .500 but now they are primed to win a second consecutive division title in 2015.

The offense has the pieces to be one of the best in the NFL. Le’Veon Bell is suspended the first two games of the season, for now, but is one of the best running backs in the league. His suspension is part of the reason why this win total isn’t at nine yet. When Bell misses time, Antonio Brown will see plenty of targets and is one of the most exciting wide receivers in football. Look for Ben Roethlisberger to have a big season under center.

The Steelers open the season against he Patriots in New England and Tom Brady could be suspended. There’s a chance for a win on opening night. Pittsburgh has to play at Kansas City and Seattle, and host Denver. However, I still see a lot of chances for victories and winning at least nine games is very reasonable. I think the Steelers will also win the division but will play it safe and make over 8.5 wins the official pick.


NFL: Week 17 Picks

Packers (-7.5) over Lions: I don’t think the Lions are a good team. They were on the right side of every close game and their only impressive win was back in Week 3 against the Packers. Since then Green Bay’s offense has clicked and they have become a force at Lambeau Field. They have scored 37 or more points in five of their last six homes games. The Lions strength is their defense but I still think the Packers can put up big numbers on Sunday. The Lions offense has struggled greatly with Matthew Stafford and center Dominic Raiola is suspended for the game. The NFC North and a first round is on the line, and Green Bay always seems to step up when some they need to. I think the Packers win in blowout fashion.

Under 48 in Raiders vs Broncos: The Raiders are coming off a win. The last two games following a win they scored a combined 13 points in the two contests. I don’t think they will score a lot in Denver, and the Broncos just want to win to clinch a first round bye. There isn’t an incentive for Denver to score a lot of points. They just need to take care of business and stay healthy.

Steelers (-3.5) over Bengals: Pittsburgh has won three straight games and clinched a playoff berth last week. Now they are playing in a primetime slot with the division on the line against Cincinnati. The Bengals also clinched a playoff berth last week after an hard fought win on Monday night against Denver. Now the Bengals have to come back on a short week to play the Steelers. I don’t think Cincinnati has much in them after defeating the Broncos. Andy Dalton had his best primetime game of his career and I wouldn’t count on him to have another strong national TV outing.

Contest Picks

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NFL: Week 14 Picks

Here are my Week 14 NFL picks and the rest of the contest picks:

Ravens at Dolphins (-3)

My line: Dolphins -1.5

Pick: Ravens

Steelers at Bengals (-3.5)

My line: Bengals -6.5

Pick: Bengals

Colts (-4) at Browns 

My line: Colts -2

Pick: Pass (Contest: Browns)

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