Last week was a second straight 50-50 week for me, as we saw some impressive performances in the late games that messed up my record. Going into the 9:15pm kickoffs (4:15pm ET) I was 6-2-2 against the spread and things looked great… and then the Oakland Raiders put in their best offensive performance since 2002. The Dallas Cowboys terrorized Seattle’s offensive line, Rodgers was pressured more than ever before and the Colts made an improbable 4th quarter comeback to force overtime. Thus is the life of a spread picker over win-loss picker.
Going into Week Nine we hit the half-way point of the season so it’s a good time to review my performance so far. An overall record of 53-58-6 is an ok performance but not where it needs to be. For that 52% target I talked about at the start of the season I would need to be on 62 wins. So I’m a shade over 1 win a week under where I want to be. Doesn’t sound like much but it’s added up to a large deficit that will be hard to overcome. Fortunately, my best bets have been better off. They’re 12-12 on the season. That’s just 1 win off the profit line.
This week marks one important thing; we’re done with London games for another year. So no more early starts for American fans and no more figuring out how the travel and neutral field will affect both the line and the teams.
We also have 6 games on bye, leaving just 13 to pick some best bets from. After last weeks performance and the recent firings of the General Manager and Team President, it’s a shame not to have the chance to bet against the Lions again. Arizona, who have featured frequently on my best bets, are also off. Among those teams playing there are some important things to consider. Firstly Tyrod Taylor will be back under center for the Bills. Buffalo’s playoff hopes have taken a heavy blow in his absence due to EJ Manuel’s awfulness.
Then there are 2 stars who returned poorly last week. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Dez Bryant didn’t look right in week eight, hopefully, it was just some rust that needed to be knocked off and they will be closer to their usual brilliance this week.
Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) over DALLAS COWBOYS
Our first point of concern here is that Jason Peters is still not practising due to a back injury he picked up in week seven against Carolina. Peters is a fantastic left tackle and just the guy needed to control Greg Hardy. If he’s out then Hardy will probably unleash his own unique style of chaos on the Eagles offense.
But beyond that you wonder what the Cowboys can do. Their passing game has been non-existent since Tony Romo’s injury, and even with Dez Bryant back and the Eagles are struggling against number one receivers you doubt how much Matt Cassel will be able to get the ball to him. The Eagles run defense is very good, underpinned by the great defensive line who will be a tough test for the Cowboys Offensive Line, even with the epic run blocking of La’El Collins.
The Eagles offense, which looks to be sticking with Sam Bradford under center, is far from perfect, though. There’s a chance they could give away a few turnovers, but with the Cowboys only managing 14.5 points a game in their last 4 outings covering a line less than a field goal shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
St. Louis Rams (+2) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Todd Gurley is insanely good at this football thing. He walked away with our Offensive Rookie of the Year award in our mid-season awards show earlier this week and has made the Team of the Week the last 2 weeks. Minnesota have to try and combat Gurley with the 26th best run defense…. Good luck with that. While the Vikings sit at 5-2, one win better than the Rams and are the home team but they’ve played an incredibly soft schedule, with just 1 team currently above .500 (Denver) and 2 games against Detroit. Quite simply they’re not as good as their record suggests, and the Rams are about to show that up.
St. Louis’ superb defense has its foundation along with their much-vaunted defensive line, but that’s not the only place they excel. Janoris Jenkins (CB) is playing some of his best football at the moment, and TJ McDonald (SS) is one of the most underrated safeties in the NFL. The Rams have even found production from Mark Barron, who washed out at Tampa Bay but has flourished as an emergency linebacker these last few weeks. Sure, the Vikings still have Adrian Peterson, but Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t progressed in year 2 as one would hope and he’s going to be under siege all day.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-14) over Washington Redskins
I’m picking this game primarily because I don’t really like any of the other game lines.
New England have the best points differential in the NFL, +116. That makes an average winning margin of 16.5 per game. And hey, that’s more than this line!
There are other reasons to like the Patriots, though. They finally have some relief from the raft of injuries on the offensive line as last years center Bryan Stork returns to the team. Current center David Andrews has been great, especially for an undrafted rookie, so there’s a tricky decision to be made but doubtless the one who doesn’t start at center will get the spot at guard. There’s also the increasing role of Danny Amendola and the returning Brandon LaFell to add potency to an already brutally efficient offense.
Washington, at 3-4 and coming off a bye, aren’t a bad team. Sitting at 3-4 with a –20 points differential they have many bright spots; Rookie running back Matt Jones has looked good, 2nd year corner Bashaud Breeland is making a name for himself while Jordan Reed continues to be a sneaky good receiving tight end that many fans don’t know about. But then there’s the fact that in 2007, when a 7-0 Patriots hosted the Redskins in Foxboro it was a 52-7 bloodbath…
TNF: Cleveland (+11.5)
Oakland Raiders (+4) over PITTSBURGH STEELERS
CAROLINA PANTHERS (+2.5) over Green Bay Packers
BUFFALO BILLS (-3) over Miami Dolphins
Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5) over NEW YORK JETS
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-8) over Tennessee Titans
Atlanta Falcons (-7) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (+1.5) over New York Giants
Denver Broncos (-5) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Chicago Bears (+4) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Last Week: 6-6-2 (2-1-0)
Overall: 53-58-6 (12-12-0)