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NFL Lines 2014, Week 5 Recap

Another winning week, as I went 8-6-1 (my first push of the year!), and 2-0-1 with my best bets. To date, my overall record is now 39-36-1, and my best bets are 5-0-1.

This week, I think we learned a couple of things. One, several teams are simply broken. We already  knew this about certain teams (Oakland, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville), but this past week revealed a number of others. For instance, the Steelers are broken. Despite winning on the road against Jacksonville, the way they struggled to do so and the beating they took at the hands of Baltimore, and the last-minute loss against the Bucs shows that this is a team in disarray. It’s no coincidence they lead the league in penalties. That is one undisciplined team.

The Bears are another broken team. It seemed unlikely that their offense would do them in at any point this year, but Jay Cutler’s turnovers against the Panthers showed that they aren’t a strong enough team to absorb those mistakes.

The Vikings without Teddy Bridgewater, Cordarrelle Paterson, and Adrian Peterson are a broken team. The Jets are a broken team. Atlanta is a broken team. And perhaps most surprising of all, New Orleans is a broken team.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 5

Thursday Night Recap

Well, 0-for-5 on the Thursday night games this year! As I said in the write up, Christian Ponder…oof. Get well soon, Teddy Bridgewater.

Sunday’s Games

Chicago +3 at Carolina

The team that can’t score (Panthers) vs. the team that can’t play defense (Bears). Meanwhile, even with injuries to their offensive line, the Bears should have enough weapons to hold up against an injury-riddled Carolina defense.

Cleveland +2 at Tennessee

Let’s see what teams coming off a bye week can do this year. Against Jake Locker, the Browns need to be able to win this game. This game features two teams with multiple-RB threats. Bishop Sankey of Tennessee was the most highly touted rookie RB this season, but so far has been a bust and outshined by both Terrence West and Isaih Crowell of Cleveland. Ben Tate, though, should return to his starting role for the Browns this week.

St. Louis +6.5 at Philadelphia

The Eagles actually started as an eight-point favorite in this game, which the public apparently thought was too much against Austin Davis and Zac Stacy. Bill Barnwell of Grantland seems to be of two minds on the Eagles. On the one hand, he seems to think they’re a pretty good team. On the other hand, he notes that so far this season Philadelphia has beaten only Jacksonville, and teams that have beaten only Jacksonville. Hmmm….

Atlanta +4 at NY Giants

I think the Falcons could be about ready to give up on the season. But there’s hope for them yet against a team Matt Ryan should be able to throw against.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans -10

This seems like a lot of points to give for a team that’s been as dismal as the Saints this year. But New Orleans is decidedly better at home, and Tampa Bay might just think that their last-minute victory over the Steelers on the road last week was the Super Bowl. Look for Drew Brees & Co. to take out some frustration in this game.

Houston +6.5 at Dallas

Another interesting line move: Dallas was originally only a four-point favorite, but Cowboys fans moved the line by almost a field goal. Oh, Cowboys fans. You’re delightful.

Buffalo +7 at Detroit

Kyle Orton? Kyle Orton.

Baltimore +3 at Indianapolis

Toughest game of the week to call. I’m going with the Ravens, simply because the competitiveness they bring will be a stark contrast to what the Colts have seen the last two weeks.

Pittsburgh -6 at Jacksonville

Sorry, Jaguars, but I think the Steelers might have some feelings to work out over their crushing loss to the Bucs last week. And here you are, another team from Florida.

Arizona at Denver -7.5

The Cardinals have a good defense, but Drew Stanton vs. Peyton Manning? No thank you.

Kansas City +5 at San Francisco

The 49ers looked a bit more like their old selves last week, but the Chiefs are rolling. As long as Alex Smith doesn’t overdo it in this revenge game, they should be fine.

NY Jets at San Diego -6.5

The Chargers have trouble at RB, but I think Geno Smith will find it hard to move the ball against this defense.

Cincinnati (Pick) at New England

The Patriots rarely lose back-to-back games in the Bill Belichick era, but they rarely look as bad on offense as they do this year. The Bengals coming off a bye week could be the worst thing for New England right now. If Pittsburgh and Baltimore both win earlier in the day, the Bengals will be all the more motivated to stay ahead of their division rivals.

Seattle -7 at Washington

Another team coming off a bye week in Seattle, although Washington’s been off since a week ago last Thursday when they were shellacked by the Giants. The Seahawks should easily dominate this game.

Best Bets

This week, I like Denver -7.5, Seattle -7, Kansas City +5

NFL Lines 2014, Week 5 Thursday Night

Minnesota +7.5 at Green Bay

I hate (potentially) taking Christian Ponder on the road, but I’m counting on a couple of factors to keep this one close:

  • The weather. A sloppy field makes it tough for either team to move the ball.
  • Teddy Bridgewater might play.
  • Green Bay is an up-and-down, semi-competent team. Not the kind of group I want to count on to win by eight.
  • One of these Thursday night games will be competitive, right?

NFL Lines 2014, Week 4 Recap

A much better improvement this week compared to last week! I went 8-5 with my picks, bringing my season total to 31-30. Even better, all three of my Best Bets came through, so I’m 3-0 on that front. I also went 4-1 in taking home favorites, which has been my weakest sector to date.

Here’s a quick look at the results from week 4:

Correct Incorrect
Buffalo at Houston -3 NY Giants at Washington -3.5
Tennessee at Indianapolis -7 Miami at Oakland +3.5
Carolina at Baltimore -3 Green Bay at Chicago +2
Detroit -1.5 at NY Jets Philadelphia +4 at San Francisco
Tampa Bay +7 at Pittsburgh New Orleans -3 at Dallas
Jacksonville at San Diego -12.5
Atlanta at Minnesota +3.5
New England at Kansas City +3

Some notes:

  • EJ Manual was as bad as I expected, and is now being replaced by Kyle Orton, the Keanu Reaves of NFL quarterbacks.
  • Teddy Bridgewater!!
  • The Ravens probably are that good, and Carolina (with its injuries on defense) are that bad.
  • So long, Dennis Allen
  • Three supposedly good teams came into the week desperate for a win: Green Bay, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Only the Saints lost.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 4

Thursday Night Recap

Well, true to form this year, the Thursday night game was a blowout. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way I expected. Hard to predict that any QB, much less one who’s played as well as Kirk Cousins has this year, will throw four interceptions. And he lost a fumble, too. Oof.

Onto the picks!

Miami at Oakland +3.5 (in London)

This game is Roger Goodell’s annual folly to try to have American football catch on overseas. Not gonna happen. Way past time to give up this ridiculous notion. I’d rather see attrition before a team is actually placed in London. As for the line, the Dolphins couldn’t even say if Ryan Tannehill would be their starter this week, and I’m supposed to take their side? I’ll take the team that went into Foxboro and almost stole a game from the Patriots last week.

Green Bay at Chicago +2

This was a surprising line. Sure, Green Bay has been winning in Chicago for years with Brett Favre and now Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers have hardly been impressive this year. Yes, they will be the more desperate of the two teams, as they look to avoid going 1-3, but the Bears have recovered nicely since losing a number of defensive starters.

Buffalo at Houston -3

EJ Manual on the road? No thank you.

Tennessee at Indianapolis -7

A lot of points – the second week in a row the Colts have been favored by a touchdown – but no way would I put money on Charlie Whitehurst.

Carolina at Baltimore -3

I can see Carolina winning this game, but I’m guessing Baltimore will do enough to pull out the win.

Detroit -1.5 at NY Jets

The Bears just destroyed the Jets on Monday night, and now the Lions (who likely have a defense at least as good as the Bears) are giving only 1.5 points against a team coming off a short week?

Tampa Bay +7 at Pittsburgh

Tampa Bay is awful. They don’t have a QB. Their star RB is hurt. But if Vegas isn’t willing to make the Steelers a 10-point favorite, I’m not going to back them.

Jacksonville at San Diego -12.5

It’s a lot of points, but the Jaguars are awful even with a likely upgrade at QB in rookie Blake Bortles. The Chargers have two hurt RBs, but I think their defense is good enough to keep this one from being close.

Philadelphia +4 at San Franscisco

This was a surprising line. I could almost see San Francisco being a three-point home favorite, but four? Seems just a bit too rich against a team that can pile on the points.

Atlanta at Minnesota +3.5

I believe in Teddy Bridgewater.

New Orleans -3 at Dallas

This was the surprising line of the week. Dallas seems like a live team, while New Orleans looks lackluster at best. So why are the Saints favored on the road here? No idea. But if Vegas says they’re the team to beat in this game, I’ll go with it.

New England at Kansas City +3

Kansas City looked good enough last week to convince me they can win this game.

Best Bets

Not a lot to like this week. But if I had to pick three games, I would go with the Colts, Lions, and Chargers.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 4 Thursday Night

Extremely disappointed with ESPN’s decision to suspend Bill Simmons for voicing his opinion about NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell being a liar. I count on Bill’s input and analysis in making my own NFL picks each week. Not that I follow him in lockstep, if anything, the opposite is true – if I find myself too much in agreement with him, I’ll try to find some games to switch. So for the next two weeks I’ll be on my own.

This week, I’m introducing a new wrinkle to the picks. In addition to picking all of the games, I’ll also be noting which games I think are the best bets. For instance, last week I had more confidence in my San Diego and Cincinnati picks than any others.

 

NY Giants at Washington -3

What I recently said about not overplaying the home favorites not withstanding, this line feels about right. It’s a divisional matchup, so it shouldn’t be surprising if it’s a close game. Washington is dealing with a lot of injuries this week, but they are better on both offense and defense than the Giants, and the home team has been outstanding on Thursday nights.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 3 Recap

Another mediocre week – 7-9 altogether, for a running total of 23-25 on the year. In terms of the obvious blunders:

  • I should’ve considered the injuries to St. Louis more significantly, and should not have overweighted their win against the hapless Bucs the week before
  • Is Kirk Cousins this year’s Nick Foles? These Washington games are not going to be easy to pick until I can figure out how consistently Cousins will play, especially as NFL teams see more and more tape of him.
  • 14 points is too many to give, particularly against a team with nothing to lose like Oakland.
  • The Bears are basically the Cowboys.

My main weakness is taking home favorites – I’m 8-13 in those games. Unfortunately, I don’t compensate for that in any other area: I’m 2-1 in taking home dogs, 8-6 in taking road dogs, and 5-5 in taking road favorites. Giving the points with the home team is the most common wager sports fans make, so it’s important not to fall into the trap of becoming a homer.

Looking ahead, week 4 marks the start of the bye week for the year. How will the teams going on bye in week 5 look at their matchup this week? Will they already be on vacation, or are they going to go all out knowing they have two weeks until they have to play again?

NFL Lines 2014, Week 3

Thursday Night Recap

Well, that was a disaster. In taking the Bucs and the points, I made mention of them not overthinking things. Should’ve listened to myself in the Week 2 Recap, when I named the Bucs as one of the NFL’s terrible teams this year. From now on, no overthinking.

Week 3 Games

San Diego +2.5 at Buffalo

Sure, sure, Buffalo has looked good so far this year in winning at Chicago and trouncing Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins at home. But the Chargers D is much better than the Bears, and Phillip Rivers is a tad better than Tannehill. Further, San Diego has looked even better (in my opinion) than Buffalo this year. They could be due for an emotional let down after last week’s huge win against Seattle, and it’s the ol’ “West Coast team plays a 1 p.m. game on the East coast,” but I think the Chargers experience playing much tougher competition than the Bills will pay off for them this weekend.

Dallas at St. Louis +1

I’m confused as to why Dallas is favored on the road here. I know St. Louis QB Sam Bradford is out for the year, but they looked pretty fiesty in winning on the road in Tampa Bay last week, and they were projected to have one of the better defenses in the NFL this year. Dallas can’t depend on its defense, so it needs its offense to carry it. Against the Rams’ D (who have a bye week to look forward to next week), I don’t see them getting it done.

Washington at Philadelphia -6

This is another of those “ugh” games I mentioned on Thursday. I’d stay away from it, but I’ll go with the home team, even though it seems like a lot of points. Maybe Kirk Cousins can win in Philadelphia. But maybe the Eagles defense gets a little better every week, and wins going away.

Houston +1 at NY Giants

This game started with the Texans as a 2.5-point favorite. but New York money has made the Giants a home favorite. I’m not sure what the Giants have going for them, other than the support of their seemingly delusional fans. I suppose the Giants will win a game at some point this season, but I don’t see it happening this week.

Minnesota +10 at New Orleans

I know the Vikings looked terrible last week (save for their game opening scoring drive) against the Patriots, but most teams facing Bill Belichick coming off a loss would look bad against New England. Yes, Adrian Peterson is out and there’s a cloud hanging over the team because of him. Yes, Drew Brees is a good QB at home. But I’m not ready to give 10 points with a team that’s winless on the season and couldn’t win in Cleveland.

Tennessee at Cincinatti -6.5

At this point, I’m willing to give just about any number with the Bengals’ D. Against Jack Locker back to doing Jake Locker things, all the more reason to do so.

Baltimore -2.5 at Cleveland

I hate picking the evil Ravens over Cleveland, but history has not been on the Browns’ side in this matchup.

Green Bay at Detroit -2.5

This is another of the “ugh” games. Aaron Rodgers is the better QB, and Eddie Lacy is a better RB than the Lions’ two-headed monster of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, but I just don’t trust the Packer’s woeful D against a team with this much offensive fire power, particularly when they’re playing at home.

Indianapolis -7 at Jacksonville

It’s a lot of points to give on the road with a winless team, but the Jaguars are just awful, and the competition Indy has faced this year should make this feel like a scrimmage to them.

Oakland at New England -14

It certainly seems like too many points, but with the way the Patriots dismantled the Vikings on the road last week and how bad the Raiders have been, you get the feeling Vegas wished it could’ve made the line Patriots -21.5. I don’t see Belichick and Brady taking their foot off the gas.

Arizona +3 at San Francisco

The biggest red flag in taking Arizona is that Carson Palmer is out. Oh, and their backup QB isn’t doing so great either. But I’ll take the home team getting points against a team that looked shaken in losing to the Bears at home last week.

Denver at Seattle -5

Was Denver looking ahead to this game in escaping at home against the Chiefs last week? Maybe. But for this one, I’m going with the old adage of simply not going against Seattle at home. Not overthinking it, see?

Kansas City +3.5 at Miami

Here’s hoping the Chiefs don’t wilt in the heat the way the Patriots did.

Pittsburgh at Carolina -3

The Panthers struggle to score, which is probably why this line is only three points. Cam Newton has no one to throw to, but I think his defense carries the game.

Chicago at NY Jets -3

I think this is a pretty even matchup. The Jets have the better defense (although both teams’ secondary are terrible), the Bears have the better offense. I’ll take the defense at home.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 3 Thursday Night

Tampa Bay +6.5 at Atlanta

This is one of about 12 “ugh” games this week, as I’m calling them, so named because it seems there’s no good way to play it. The only thing going for Tampa Bay is that they’re getting nearly a touchdown. I talked last week about teams giving more than six points covered only once. They also shouldn’t be as bad as they seem this year. Maybe the short week will keep them from over-thinking things.

Vegas opened the line with Atlanta -5.5, but heavy betting on the Falcons moved the line a full point. The public is not usually a good barometer for predicting how games will turn out. If they were, Vegas wouldn’t continue to offer sports betting.

Home teams have been very good in the first two weeks of Thursday night football this season, but the Falcons got pretty beat up (physically and psychologically) in Cincinnati last week, and they don’t have much of a running game.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 2 Review

Overall, I was 7-9, which puts me at 16-16 for the season. Here’s a look at how my picks came out this week:

Correct Incorrect
Detroit at Carolina -2.5 Miami +1 at Buffalo
Arizona -2 at NY Giants Jacksonville +6 at Washington
New England -6 at Minnesota Dallas at Tennessee -3
Atlanta at Cincinnati – 5.5 New Orleans – 6.5 at Cleveland
Seattle at San Diego +5.5 St. Louis at Tampa Bay -6
Houston -3 at Oakland NY Jets at Green Bay – 7.5
Philadelphia +3 at Indianapolis Kansas City at Denver -11.5
Chicago at San Francisco -7

A few notes on the results:

  • Big spreads are tough to beat. Other than New England, no team giving six or more points covered. If I had taken the points every time the line was 6 or more, I would’ve gone 12-4!
  • Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Oakland are terrible.
  • Seven(!) road teams won this week.
  • A lot of players went down with an injury this week; these will need to be monitored before making picks for week 3.