2012 NFL Season
Straight Up: 134-72-1
Against the Spread: 96-106-5
I feel like a bit of a broken record, but we were on the wrong side of a couple close spreads and it resulted in a tough week ATS. We’re still picking winners at about a 65% clip, but against the spread needs to be better, and it will be. We were 5-11 against the spread last week and 10-6 straight up. Let’s do better this week! (straight up pick is in bold):
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(Spreads from Sportsbook.com as of 12/11)
Eagles +3.5 vs Bengals
I’m going to grab this game while I can get it at +3.5. The Eagles have been much maligned all season, but they’ve actually shown some nice improvement the last two weeks, narrowly losing in Dallas and winning on the last play of the game in Tampa. Nick Foles is providing a stability that couldn’t be found under Michael Vick and maybe, just maybe, a strong finish to the season could save Andy Reid’s job. The Bengals have all the tools to make the postseason, but you have to wonder if they’re ready for the moment after watching them squander a victory at home against the Cowboys. I think the half point is important here. If I was in the business of predicting exact margins of victory (I’m not), I’d go with the Bengals by 3, so let’s take them to win, but the Eagles to stay within the number.
Giants +1 @ Falcons
This should be an excellent game between two of the top teams in the NFC. I expect the Giants to be a popular pick here, but that’s not going to dissuade me from taking them. It’s a pretty common thought these days that the Falcons have been imposters all season. If you look at their schedule, it really hasn’t been that difficult and they’e often just managed to win games against inferior opponents. To further prove that, they have the easiest strength of schedule in the league, with their opponents having just a .391 win percentage. However, wins are wins, and you are what your record says you are, and for the Falcons, that’s 11-2. On the other side, this is around the time the Giants start to get dangerous. They’ve worked through their usual early/mid season lull and are rounding into form just in time for the playoffs. I honestly think they’re the better football team here, so let’s take them to pick up a nice road victory in Atlanta.
Saints -3.5 vs Bucs
I’m going to the well once more as, perhaps I’m just a glutton for punishment, but I’m backing the Saints again this weekend. Look folks, the Saints can’t stop anyone and they won’t stop the Bucs. I’m imagining they’ll give up somewhere north of 28 points. It’s difficult to take a team that you know will give up that many points, but I just think the Bucs are going to have even more trouble containing the Saints. The Bucs have the worst pass defense in the league, giving up an impressively high 311 yards per game. Drew Brees should have a field day with that, just as he did in Tampa back on Week 7. Expect a shoot out, expect to see some scowling defensive coordinators, and expect the Saints to pull out the victory. Take them to cover the 3 points.
Packers -3 @ Bears
In what should be another very entertaining game, I like the Packers to go into Chicago and pick up a win. I take a look at the Bears schedule and I see a team that plays great against average teams and seems to disappear against the top teams. Due to their propensity for the big play, the defense is now grossly overrated by the media and public, especially without Brian Urlacher. The offensive line can’t protect Cutler at all and he’s really showing the signs of playing 12 games behind them (missed 1 due to injury). The Packers are far from perfect themselves, missing defensive star Clay Matthews, but it doesn’t take an elite defense to keep the Bears offense at bay and Aaron Rodgers shouldn’t have much trouble against, as I said, an overrated and overhyped defense that is completely reliant on turnovers to get stops. Take the Pack to win by more than 3 here.
Rams -3 vs Vikings
This is a game that I went back and forth on a few times, but ultimately landed on backing the home team giving 3 points. The Rams have won 3 straight and are 4-2 at home (officially 4-3, but one ‘home’ game was in London) and at 6-6-1, their playoff aspiration are still alive. On the other side, the Vikings, too, find themselves in the hunt for a surprising playoff berth, sitting at 7-6 going into the week. The Vikings have one offensive weapon and despite everyone knowing that, no one seems to be able to stop it. Adrian Peterson has 1600 rushing yards on the dot and has said he hopes to break Eric Dickerson’s rushing record this season. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that it will be priority #1 for the Rams to contain AP as best as possible. The Vikings are also a different team on the road, going just 1-5 on the season. This should be a close game, likely low scoring, but let’s take the Rams to do just enough to cover the number.
Browns -0 vs Redskins
The only line I could find here was as a pick-em, so I’m going to take the Browns. The Browns have really flown under the radar this season, as people see them at the bottom of their division and assume, ‘Same old sorry Browns’. That’s just not the case, though. Since starting 0-5, the Browns are 5-3, suffering 3 losses in games they were certainly in at the end. They’re 4-3 at home, including a couple impressive victories over the Bengals and Steelers. This line (and my pick) is obviously influenced by the strong chance that RG3 will not play, and I’m banking on that being the case. Kirk Cousins has proven himself to be a viable backup in limited action, but it just changes the dynamic of the team when your leader is not out there. I think the Browns pick up a solid victory here and perhaps open a few eyes in the process.
Dolphins -7 vs Jags
Something just feels wrong about giving the Dolphins 7 points, but not nearly as wrong as asking the Jaguars to stay inside any number. The Dolphins are not a good team by any stretch of imagination, but they’ve got a heck of a lot more going for them than the Jaguars, arguably the worst team in the NFL. I really don’t think there’s much else to be said about this one; take the Dolphins to win big.
Broncos -3 @ Ravens
It’s difficult to find a team that’s hotter than the Broncos. They’ve won 8 straight, all by at least 7 points. Peyton Manning is having one of the best seasons of his career and definitely has fans in Denver thinking about that Lombardi Trophy. In Baltimore, things are going as well. Much maligned offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was relieved of his duties earlier this week, and while you could see some offensive improvement, offense really wasn’t the issue. The fact of the matter is that the Ravens defense is not nearly what it once was and even though they’re still a very good home team, I don’t see how they will be able to stop Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. I expect a good game, probably more high scoring than some would expect, with the Broncos pulling it out. If you like to buy points, I’d considering buying this one down to 2.5, but I’m taking the Broncos at -3.
Texans -8 vs Colts
A lot of people might see this and think, ‘How can you take a Texans team that just got clobbered by the Patriots over one of the hottest, up-and-coming teams in the league!?’. Well, it’s simple. The public is going to love the Colts in this spot, but the sharp money (re: guys who actually profit) will be backing the Texans and that’s where you want to be. The last time the Texans got embarassed on national TV? They responded with a 43-13 beatdown of the Ravens. They’ll be playing with a chip on their shoulder, for sure. The Colts are a good story and should be good for years to come, but they are a bit of a fake 9-4. Aside from Green Bay, they don’t have any wins over teams that would make the playoffs as of right now. They’re also just 3-3 on the road this season, including blowout losses at the Jets and Patriots. I expect the Texans to win big here, so bet them with confidence, they will take care of business.
Bills +5.5 vs Seahawks
I’m expecting this game to be a bit closer than some people think. The Bills aren’t a very good football team, but as I said before, with Fred Jackson out, CJ Spiller touches the ball more and that’s much better for the team as a whole. The Seahawks are coming off an absolute demolition of the Cardinals, 58-0. That game was at home, though, and the Seahawks are a different team on the road. All 5 of the Seahawks losses have come on the road, and while I don’t think they will lose this game, I think it will be close. It’s not a traditional home game for the Bills, either, as this one will be the annual game up in Canada, but I think they should be able to keep this close enough to cover the points. Let’s take them to cover, but the Seahawks to win.
Carolina +3 @ Chargers
In a battle of two teams I’ve faded all season, I’m going to look for Cam Newton to keep things going and will the Panthers to a victory in San Diego. I don’t want to downplay the Chargers win in Pittsburgh, but it just seemed flukey to me. You have to give the Chargers credit where credit is due, but I don’t think they turned over a new leaf or anything like that. The Panthers also aren’t a very good team, but Cam proved last week that he can single-handedly carry them to victory if he so chooses. I’m not a fan of either of these teams and this might be a battle of who makes less mistakes, so let’s take the Panthers to cover the spread and pull the upset on the road.
Lions -6.5 @ Cardinals
Everything about this spot indicates I should take the Cardinals: coming off a tough loss with something to prove, better at home than on the road, 90% of the public is on the Lions but the line has moved down at some books, etc. But I just can’t. The Cardinals, aside from having a serviceable defense, don’t really do anything well. It’s not just dumb luck that they’ve only scored 6 points in their last 2 games. They can’t run or pass the ball and they’re only offensive weapon, Larry Fitzgerald, barely touches the ball anymore. They’re a mess of a team and despite the fact that Detroit can’t seem to do anything right either, they’re clearly better. I think Detroit lets out a bit of the frustration of their season this week and pounds the Cardinals, so let’s take them to cover the 6.5 points.
Steelers -2 @ Cowboys
The Steelers kept hitting snooze on their alarm clock last week, and by the time they woke up they were down 27-3. They end up controlling the rest of the game, but the damage was done and they picked up an awful loss at home against the Chargers. It will get more difficult this week, as they head to Dallas for a Superbowl 30 rematch. The Cowboys are actually playing pretty good football lately, winners of 4 of 5 and firmly in the hunt for a wildcard spot, or even a division title. I think last week was a wake up call for Pittsburgh and I expect a big bounce back here. This game will go a long way for both teams in determining if they’re playing in the postseason, and who would you rather have to win a big game: Ben Roethlisberger or Tony Romo? Me too. Let’s take the Steelers -2.
Raiders -3 vs Chiefs
So far, I’ve been able to say how great some of these games are this week. This is not one of those situations. Just 5 wins between the two of these teams, they’re two thirds of the season why the Broncos were the first to lock up their division. This will be a mess of a game and I genuinely feel sorry for anyone who lives close enough to either of these markets to get this as your late game. I’m going to take the Raiders, purely because I think they’re the better team. The key word is think, as this one is really just a toss up to see which team will be slightly less awful. Let’s pick the Raiders for that.
Patriots -6 vs 49ers
This is a tough one, and it should be an enjoyable game. I wouldn’t be shocked if the 49ers could stay inside the number, but I’m looking to back the Pats here. If you could make a case for any team being hotter than Denver, it would be the Patriots. They’ve won 7 in a row and as I said last week, their 3 losses are by a total of 4 points. In other words, they’re a couple of breaks away from being undefeated. They are as good right now as anyone and they would for nothing more than another opportunity to show that to the world. The 49ers are a great team and if anyone is capable of beating New England right now, the 49ers are. I just see the Patriots defense being able to give Kaepernick more trouble than anyone will be able to give Brady. Let’s take the Patriots to cover the 6 points.
Titans -2 vs Jets
I’m not sure when this could have seemed like a good idea as your Week 15 Monday Night Football game, but alas, we must play the hand we’re dealt. The Jets have actually won 3 out of 4, but there’s really no reason to be excited about that. Wins over the Jaguars and Cardinals don’t really count anymore and the one loss that’s sprinkled in there was of the blowout variety to the Patriots. The Titans aren’t particularly good either, but they did get up to play in their last nationally televised game at home against the Steelers, so perhaps we see something similar. Chris Johnson should have a field day against a porous Jets run defense, so let’s take him to shoulder the load and lead the Titans to victory. Take them -2.