NFL Week #14 Picks and Analysis
Is the glass half full or half empty?
It’s all a matter of perspective.
So far this NFL regular season, I’ve posted 91 picks here at my website. I’m slightly above the .500 mark — with a 44-43-4 record. Total profit to date: $4.
That’s right, four bucks.
I suppose things could be much worse. After all, I could be in the red.
Let’s try to build on last week’s disappointment. I should have gone 4-1 but took two really bad beats. Moving on to Week #14.
2018 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BALANCE: $10,004. [+ $4.]
OVERALL W-L RECORD: 44 wins / 43 loses / 4 pushes
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 2-2-1 (-$60)
BUFFALO +4 vs. MIAMI — PUSH
FIRST HALF: BUFFALO +3 (-120) — LOST $330
TAMPA BAY +3.5 vs. CAROLINA — WON $300
FIRST HALF: LA Chargers +2 vs. PITTSBURGH — LOST $330 to win $300
TEASER: BALTIMORE +8.5 vs. ATLANTA / TENNESSEE -2 vs. NY JETS — WON $300
THIS WEEK’S PICKS: (Note: All lines are taken from Westgate Las Vegas as of Saturday afternoon):
INDIANAPOLIS +4.5 vs. HOUSTON — Risking $330 to win $300
FIRST HALF: INDIANAPOLIS +3 vs. HOUSTON — Risking $330 to win $300
Colts are coming off an uncharacteristically dismal offensive performance getting shut out 6-0 at Jacksonville last week. They face an equally formidable defense this week in Houston. Colts appear to be in a really bad spot here, going on the road for their second straight key divisional game. However, seeing how Indy had previously scored 24+ in eight straight games prior to the Jax loss, I have to believe they’ll revert back into top form. While Houston is the NFL’s hottest team at the moment, winners of 9 straight games, rarely do teams maintain such a high level of consistency. Houston’s hot streak has also given the Texans a 3-game lead in the division and all but wrapped up a playoff spot. This game would appear to mean much more to the Colts. I keep saying Houston will suffer an off-week, and this looks like it could be the time. I’ll certainly play a very live dog Indy coming off an embarrassing loss getting a generous number of points. Getting a field goal in the first half is also way too tempting to pass up, so I’m wagering on Colts in both the 1H and game line.
CLEVELAND (PICK) vs. CAROLINA — Risking $33o to win $300
This line has shifted in favor of the Browns, who are now favored in some places after opening at +1 dogs. Cleveland looked awful in Houston last week, but have generally played well against teams they know they’re capable of beating, and the Panthers look to be very beatable at the moment. Carolina has lost 4 straight games, has played badly, and could soon be out of the playoff race soon given the way the season is going. QB Newton has not been the game breaker all season, and now he’s without his favorite target, TE Olsen who is lost for the year. But the real problem for Carolina is the defense, which is being shredded for 30 PPG average the last five weeks. Losing at Tampa Bay last week and now going on the road a second straight week is a really bad spot for the Panthers. I’ll take a tougher Browns team that shows occasional flashes of improvement and players who may want to try and win the interim head coach (Greg Williams) a job heading into next season.
ATLANTA / GREEN BAY UNDER 51 — Risking $330 to win $300
Atlanta’s offense has disappeared the last month, scoring an average of just 17 PPG. That’s an indication of serious problems with the offensive staff, since the Falcons remain relatively healthy and have plenty of talent and experience at skill positions. I’m glad to fade the Falcons finding the end zone many times in an outdoor game this week, with temperatures expected to be around 25 degrees. Meanwhile, Packers have a new coach. I can’t imagine the internal distraction of firing former coach Mike McCarthy is positive for the continuity for the team and that shows no signs of reverting back to the high-scoring Packers of previous years (with QB Rogers healthy). Given so many question marks and the slump of both offenses recently, I’m betting UNDER 51. This total appears just a bit too high.
LA RAMS / CHICAGO UNDER 51.5 — Risking $330 to win $300
Rams have run up big scores in favorable weather conditions. Now, here’s their first real outdoor cold road test. I’m not as confident Rams will look as crisp in Chicago, with temperates forecast in the 20s and some wind possible. I say they’ll score less than their season average here. Meanwhile, Chicago will reportedly get QB Trubisky back under center this week. He could be out of synch given some time off. I have confidence DC Wade Phillips will draw up some things to confuse the Bears’ QB, who still makes some really questionable throws, at times. Rare to see a Bears game in December totaled this high. Both teams can certainly score points, but let’s hope the weather conditions slow things down a bit here. So, I’ll play the UNDER.
NY GIANTS -3 vs. WASHINGTON — Risking $330 to win $300
Washington might start Sonny Jurgenson this week the way things are going. They’re down to a third-string QB (Mark Sanchez) who hasn’t played much in the last two years. He showed serious layers of rust last week in Philadelphia when he was called off the bench and probably had a limited playbook. So, it’s hard to back the Redskins with the offensive problems coming into this game versus Giants. NYG have issues of their ow, since they’re without WR Beckham (who’s vastly overrated). But he does tend to stretch out the field. I think Giants will feed rookie RB Barkley heavy doses of the ball, with anticipated success. Look for a breakout game here versus team that might collapse down the stretch. Washington at 6-6 and playing to save their season, but they simply don’t have the healthy talent at QB to make a run. Incredibly, Washington is +9 on turnover ratio this season, and they’re still just a .500 team. So, they’ve been very lucky. The luck should run out here, so I’ll lay the points with Giants who have won 3/4 and played hard the last month.
LA CHARGERS -14 vs. CINCINNATI — Laying $330 to win $300
It’s almost unheard of me to lay two TDs in the NFL. I can’t remember the last occasion I did this. But Cincinnati looks to be a deflated team that has given up. Bengals lost by 14 and 15 points respectively at home previous two weeks against mediocrity and now play a road game against an opponent on a roll, with the incentive to try and earn a first-round playoff bye. Bengals defense is decimated by injuries. QB Rivers should have a field day. Some concern that Chargers will have a short week and must prepare for a grudge match against Kansas City next week. But Cincinnati with Jeff Driskell getting just his second NFL start, no AJ Green threat at WR, and so many injuries along both lines and at LB, Chargers should be able to name the final score here.
PHILADELPHIA +3.5 vs. DALLAS — Risking $330 to win $300
I’ll take the defending Super Bowl champs who might finally be getting into form here after a miserable first half of the season. Dallas has been quite a surprise, but this game provides another formidable test for Cowboys, and should go down to the wire. I also have to mention Dallas got every break in the game last week, and would have lost even though Saints played a horrible game and the referees gifted Dallas the win. So, I call that a false win. Eagles continue to have some injuries in secondary. However, Dallas strengths are at RB and defense. This game will probably decide the NFC East division winner, so look for things to be played close to the vest by both teams. Dallas wants a run-oriented low scoring game. Eagles probably want the opposite. I think Cowboys might dictate the pace here and the Eagles to sneak in with a cover, if not an outright win.
OAKLAND +10 vs. PITTSBURGH — Risking $330 to win $300
Pittsburgh hasn’t played four quarters of solid football in nearly a month. This is clearly an explosive team at times, but which also shows repeated indications of ill-preparedness. They’ve lost three straight covers and are now laying -10 on the road. I don’t get it, even if this is the lowly Raiders. There’s enough talent on Oakland’s offense to keep this within the margin. Raiders were feisty last week, backdooring the cover against offensive powerhouse Kansas City — a 40-33 loss. At home another week, I say Raiders will bring enough weapons to cover this very high number. No way we can lay this price the way Pittsburgh has stank the last three games.
OTHER GAMES / SOME THOUGHTS
The Kansas City-Baltimore game is one of the most intriguing matchups of the week. I might play the dog plus the points at +7, but it’s now around +6, so this rates as a pass. I’m also wary of Ravens traveling second straight game on the road coming off a win at Atlanta last Sunday. The QB Flacco (return from injury) distraction might also not be good for this team. Ravens haven’t announced the starter yet. Too many variables to handicap, so let’s skip this one.
I really want to play Tampa at home if they were getting +1o. But the line has dropped to +9, so that makes me hesitate. So-called revenge spot for Saints coming off 10-day rest and an embarrassing loss at Dallas. Bettors expect Brees and Co. to bounce back in a big way, but I lean to the other side. Bucs with Winston at QB has looked quite solid the last few weeks. Saints’ passing attack could be slowed someone by high wind gusts which are forecasted. It’s either play Tampa at +10 or no play here for me.
Buffalo really pissed me off last week, which should have easily covered the 1H (a punt returner fumbled late in second quarter and Miami scored a TD with seconds left), and won the game outright (weak-armed Josh Allen missed a throw which should have been an easy TD in the closing seconds). Instead of raking in $600, I took a loss and a push. Now, Buffalo is favored for the first time this season. No way I’m laying more than a FG with this team, even if they’re playing the Jets. In fact, Buffalo looks to be favored in 3/4 remaining games. So, they will look to this as a winnable game. Hard to figure out the mental state of the NYJ after such a disappointing road loss where they blew a 16-0 lead at Tennessee. I might normally take the dog with points in a game like this, but NYJ just don’t inspire enough confidence in this situation. They got destroyed by Buffalo less than a month ago.
All of Miami’s wins have been ugly. They now face their biggest game of the season, playing the Patriots, whom the Dolphins upset last season in a similar spot. New England might have turned a corner heading to homestretch based on how they demolished Minnesota at home last week. I see Patriots as a potential tease-play, from -8 to -2. But I won’t play the divisional favorites given how funky Miami plays at home, where they’re 5-1 straight up.
Denver has won 3 straight games and is now laying a FG+ on the road at San Francisco. I can’t play the road favorite here, which looks like a sucker bet. No one expects anything from the 49ers here, which looked terrible their last two road games. I suspect 49ers could make a game of this. Really tempting to take the +3.5 Hook on the 3 is the key.
Ugly game of the week looks to be Detroit playing at Phoenix. I’d be tempted to play on the home underdog Cardinals here getting +2, but I insist this team can’t be trusted with the Rosen-Leftwich offense. Looks like a scrappy game between two bad teams decided by a late FG, so the side or the total at 40 seems like too much of a gamble.
Minnesota at Seattle is a game I have no interest in. Vikings are a supreme disappointment. Probably some merit in taking the home favorite, but I’m passing on this one.
MY WAGERS ON NFL SEASON WIN TOTALS [UPDATED]:
Arizona Cardinals OVER 5.5 wins -180 — Wagering $450 to win $250 3-9
Buffalo Bills OVER 6 wins EVEN — Wagering $400 to win $400 4-7
Cincinnati Bengals OVER 6.5 wins -170 — Wagering $680 to win $400 5-7
Dallas Cowboys UNDER 8.5 wins +110 — Wagering $500 to win $550 7-5
Detroit Lions UNDER 7.5 wins EVEN — Risking $400 to win $400 4-9
Houston Texans UNDER 8.5 wins +120 — Risking $400 to win $480 8-3
Jacksonville Jaguars OVER 9 wins -145 — Risking $725 to win $500 4-8
Indianapolis Colts UNDER 6.5 wins +170 — Risking $400 to win $680 6-6
New Orleans Saints OVER 9.5 wins -145 — WON $500
Seattle Seahawks UNDER 8 wins (Best Bet) -150 — Risking $1,500 to win $750 7-5