NFL Week #15
2017 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BALANCE: $12,260. (+$2,260.)
OVERALL W-L RECORD: 53 wins / 39 loses / 2 pushes
Week #1 — 3 wins, 4 losses = net -$250
Week #2 — 1 win, 0 losses = net +$350
Week #3 — 7 wins, 2 losses = net +$1,070
Week #4 — 1 win, 1 loss = net -$20
Week #5 — 7 wins, 3 losses = net +$740
Week #6 — 2 wins, 2 losses = net -$40
Week #7 — 3 wins, 4 losses, 1 push = net -$280
Week #8 — 4 wins, 2 losses = net +$360
Week #9 — 2 wins, 2 losses = net -$270
Week #10 — 9 wins, 6 losses = net +$480
Week #11 — 3 wins, 4 losses = net -$280
Week #12 — 2 wins, 4 losses = net -$480
Week #13 — 4 wins, 2 losses = net +$360
Weel #14 — 5 wins, 3 losses = net +340
LAST WEEK’S UPDATE: Last week, I posted 5 wins and 3 losses — for a net win of +$340. That puts me at +14 games over .500 for the season after 14 weeks. Three weeks of the regular season remain.
WINLESS TEAMS UPDATE: The “bet on all winless teams” angle continues to slide. Last week, Cleveland (the NFL’s only remaining winless team) looked like they might win the game outright. But they lost and failed to cover in overtime. The system is now 7-10 for the season for a loss to 4 units. This week, the Browns are getting +7 hosting Baltimore.
THIS WEEK’S PICKS:
On to this week’s games (lines current as of Saturday afternoon). I made five wagers:
Philadelphia at NY Giants
The big question is — how much does the injury to QB Wentz change things for Philadelphia? Obviously, Eagles are not nearly as potent offensively. However, backup QB Foles appears to be a solid replacement. He’s experienced and played well enough in relief effort last week versus Rams. Foles has plenty to prove and gets his opportunity with a very solid team. While Foles could face problems versus tougher competition in playoffs, I don’t expect Eagles to suffer in this spot, versus an inferior opponent in the midst of a chaotic transition phase. Philadelphia comes off two very tough road games and plays as a visitor for the fourth time in last five games. That keeps me off the Eagles laying at least a touchdown (current line is bouncing between -7 and -7.5). As an overly cautious contrarian, I won’t lay this number in a game where Eagles could be road weary, especially against a divisional foe. But teasing Eagles down across all the key numbers to -1 looks to be worth a wager. This is more of an “against NYG” play, as we saw interim head coach Spagnuolo fail to ignite the offense, which is averaging just 13 PPG it’s last four outings. Eagles’ defense hasn’t played well in recent weeks, but they get a much softer opponent here. Look for Giants to continue struggling to score (most they’ve scored all in a game all season was 24). I think Giants loss by 20 to a very average Dallas team last week indicates they’ve lost interest. Eagles should get the easy win here. Teasing Philadelphia down to -1.
Cincinnati at Minnesota
Vikings will get the other spot on my teaser card. Lots to support a wager on Minnesota here. First, Vikings are clearly one of the class teams of the NFC. I was more impressed with Vikings’ never-give-up attitude loss last week at Carolina than in any of their wins. Vikings could have mailed in the game when down by 11 points, but refused and eventually tied the game late. That’s an impressive performance that reveals much about how solid this team is. I don’t think a Mike Zimmer defense will give up as many yards and points this week, especially versus a hapless opponent which looks to have thrown in the towel for the season. I correctly called for a Chicago win last week against deflated Bengals coming off the last-second loss to Steelers. Bears ass-kicked Cincinnati and now this team has to go on the road for a late-season game with nothing to play for. Hard to see how Bengals show up for this contest. Vikings did not come out of the Carolina game healthy. That keeps me off them laying -10.5. However, I see the Vikings as very teasable here from -10.5 down to -4.5. I can’t envision a scenario where Cincinnati keeps this close. Minnesota doesn’t make mistakes or commit costly turnovers. Vikings defense is solid enough to shut down any opponent, especially Cincinnati. Vikings are 5-1 at home this season and return back to the north for the first time since their big win against Rams in mid-November. Vikings eyeing NFC home-field advantage, so don’t expect a letdown here. Teasing Minnesota down to -4.5.
Arizona at Washington
Tough to predict motivation for both teams in this game. But strong lean is to Arizona getting +4. Cardinals showed some fight in their upset win at home last week hosting Tennessee. In fact, Cardinals have been feisty in last three games — two wins (Tenn and Jax) and a loss to Rams. Cardinals get a much softer opponent this week and certainly have enough talent to keep this within the margin. Redskins should be laying -3, at most. Losers of 4 of last 5, Redskins looked dreadful in previous two games. This should be a close game where points will matter. Shop around for best line and get the +4 which could matter (about half the books line this at +3.5). Even with the added -115 vig, I think there’s enough fuel in Arizona’s tank to cover the number. The best wager of all is probably Arizona +180 on the moneyline. Since there are lots of question marks for both teams and we especially aren’t sure what Washington will do coming off two bad games, this looks to be the best +EV wager on the board this week. For now, my only wager is Cardinals +4. But that moneyline bet should also be considered. Also of interest — Arizona +3 in the first half at -120/ Despite losing record, Cards are a better than average first-half team. I’ll play them getting the FG in a game that looks very unpredictable.
New England at Pittsburgh
I think Pittsburgh is a fraud. That might sound ridiculous for a team that’s won eight straight. But Steelers win lots of ugly non-covering games and seem to get opponents that continuously self-destruct. That won’t happen this week as we get what’s quite likely to be an AFC Championship preview. I had a funny feeling the Patriots might mail in a lackluster effort last week on MNF in what essentially was a meaningless game. If New England wins this game, that loss to Miami won’t matter. I suspect Bill Belichick knew exactly what he was doing and plans to make a statement this week. I look at Pittsburgh’s W-L record and aside from Minnesota, all I see are pigs. The line is probably tilted too far in favor of the visitor as there’s no way power ratings would have New England favored by -6 on a neutral field. So, the game line at -3 doesn’t seem to make much sense. However, this is one of those intuition games where I expect the better team to rise to the occasion and assert some dominance. We’ve seen that happen before with Patriots, and I think it happens again here. I’m laying the -3. I also expect the Patriots’ superior defense to be the difference in this game.
Dallas at Oakland
Last week, I noted Dallas had completely changed its offensive game plan into a run-run-run team and since that seems to be working, they will probably continue that focus. I think that leads to another UNDER here, in a Sunday Night game totally just a bit high at 46. Cowboys have played to the UNDER in 5 of last 6. Oakland has played to the UNDER last 4 straight. Total still high and based on what could be some outdated perceptions of both teams. Oakland’s offense is very mediocre (20th in yards / 21st in points), and Dallas is somewhat one-dimensional, even with RB Elliot on suspension (Dallas continues to run behind the OL and throw short passes). Yet, both defenses are ranked top 10 (Oakland #9 and Dallas #10). Both teams are still in the playoff hunt, though will need some help to get in as wild cards. I think that sense of desperation leads to a close, relatively low-scoring contest. I’d total this closer to 43. So, this number has value and I’m betting UNDER 46.
Teaser: Philadelphia -1 / Minnesota -4.5 (Risking $330 to win $300) — ties lose
Arizona +4 (-115) vs. Washington (Risking $245 to win $200)
First Half: Arizona +3 (-120) vs. Washington (Risking $240 to win $200)
New England -3 vs. Pittsburgh (Risking $220 to win $200)
Dallas / Oakland UNDER 46 (Risking $220 to win $200)
OTHER GAMES AND THOUGHTS:
GB at CAR — Packers’ QB Rogers listed as “probable.” That means he’ll most certainly start. Nonetheless, it’s surprising to see the line move from Carolina -1 to -3 (with added vig). The intangible here isn’t just Rogers as the QB but how he could inspire a better effort from the rest of the team. Packers have played well the last three weeks (yeah, I know — they struggled to beat Cleveland in OT). Rogers gives Green Bay added confidence. Green Bay must run the table the rest of the way versus three winning teams to make the playoffs. I expect they will give Carolina a tough fight here. Tempting to wager on Packers getting +3. If I was getting just a half-point more, I’d probably take the dog. But given some reasonable questions about Rogers being at 100 percent keeps me off the dog. I can’t imagine why anyone would play Carolina laying a field goal in this game, especially coming off a huge home win. I think that’s a horrible wager.
MIA at BUF — First thing to look at for a Buffalo home game in December is the weather. Temperatures expected to be in the 20s, but no snow. I can’t lay -3 with Buffalo given their offensive challenges. QB Taylor listed as probable. But I want no piece of Miami either, especially coming off huge home MNF upset over New England, on a short week of travel. Total looks about right at 39. No action.
HOU at JAX — Normally, I’d be on Houston getting +11. But Jacksonville has won 6 of 7 and is probably headed to a division title. Jaguars playing their third straight at home and face a beat up opponent with plenty of injuries coming off a terrible game last week. Houston committed numerous mental mistakes and stupid penalties. Texans’ defensive backs looked lost much of the second half. Really bad spot for Houston. Meanwhile, Jacksonville has scored 30 each of the last two weeks and could get there again. Versus a top-notch Jags defense, hard to see how Texans score enough points to keep up, especially with third-stringer T.J. Yates reportedly getting the start. Tempting to tease the favorite down to a smaller number (-5), but RB Fournette listed as questionable which makes Jacksonville less attractive. I’ll pass on the game instead.
NYJ at NOR — One expects New Orleans to massacre the Jets. I made one of my worst wagers of the season last week, believing in the Jets to show up at Denver. Instead, they were dominated in every phase of the game. Clearly, this team doesn’t play well on the road (1-5 ATS), with their only road victory at Cleveland (Jets are quite a different team at home). The line is now up to -15 due to QB McCown’s injury. Who’d have thought McCown would be worth so many points? The question mark is — how seriously will New Orleans take this game? They’ve played down to their level of competition twice at home this season, nearly losing outright to Washington and struggling badly versus Chicago. With game of the year on deck next week, playing Atlanta at home in the rematch, not sure New Orleans goes all out in this contest. Tempting as it is to take Jets, after that humiliation last week at Denver, there’s no way I touch these pigs in a road game.
BAL at CLE — I’ve been staring at this game for a bit and I still can’t figure out which side I like. That likely means — pass. Tough to predict the emotional state of Browns, which led 21-7 at one point last week and seemed destined to get their first win hosting Green Bay. The meltdown in that game could carry over to a lackluster effort here. Trouble is, Baltimore suffered perhaps a worse emotional blow last week losing at Pittsburgh. To the Ravens’ credit, the offense has looked spectacular of late, crossing the 20+ point mark for six straight games. So, one would expect points to come easy against Cleveland, which was soundly defeated by two touchdowns in the previous meeting. This is probably a square versus sharps divide, with the betting public all over Baltimore laying the -7 and the contrarians taking the Browns at home getting the points versus a division rival. I just can’t bring myself to take the Browns which has been so awful against the spread (just 3-10 this season). Strong lean to the OVER 41.
LAR at SEA — Two teams coming off tough losses last week. Both defenses looked awful. Obviously, Seattle is not the top caliber team that’s been so strong at home during the last several seasons. Seahawks just 2-4 against-the-spread. That’s reflected in a light number here, laying just -1.5. Value is probably with Seattle at this low number. But I’m not laying it against Rams coming off a loss who could be even more desperate for a win. Rain is predicted with some wind, so that could create issues with both passing games. Total seems a bit high at 47.5 — so the UNDER is definitely worth a look. First game produced a 16-10 final score. In a rematch that could be for the division title, I’m expecting a game played closer to the vest by both coaches. Watch the weather and if 47 starts popping up, move fast and grab the 47.5. This will be a game-time decision for me, barring some breaking weather news.
TEN at SFO — Seems strange to see a 3-10 team favored over a playoff contender, but 49ers do look like a completely different unit with QB Garopollo as the starter (now 2-0 both SU and ATS). Watching game at Houston last week, 49ers played smart tough football and are clearly a team headed in the right direction. Meanwhile, hard to figure out what’s going on with Tennessee, which is perhaps the biggest Jekyll-Hyde team in the league. They could lose each of the next three and finish at 8-8 (JAX and LAR are slated as the final two games), so this game is absolutely critical to have any shot at making the playoffs. That added motivation, especially coming off an embarrassing loss, would lead me to take the Titans normally, especially getting points. But Tennessee offense looked horrific in Arizona last week and I’m not convinced this is a unit that can fix its problems in a second straight road game. Lean to Titans here, but I’m not touching the game with my money.
ATL at TB — I’d be very wary of laying -6 with Falcons here. This could be a repeat upset of the caliber we saw last week when Miami shocked New England. Home dog has nothing to play for, so this game becomes their Super Bowl (it’s happened last few weeks — Cincy and Miami both covered as big dogs against the superior division rival). Looks like a possible repeat here. Atlanta will be focused on two huge games which are upcoming — versus New Orleans and Carolina. This is a game they could even afford to lose, assuming Falcons can run the table in the last two. So, I’m not sure Atlanta comes with a full force here or shows much, not on a short week with the Saints on deck. I may play this on game night, especially if line hits +6.5. At +7 this is an automatic play. Atlanta laying anything close to this number is the most square bet on the board this week. Strong advice to either take the dog or stay off the game completely.