Friday, October 23, 2009

NFL Pick 6 -- Week 7

Week 6 in the NFL was another 3-2 week for me, raising my overall season record (remember I skipped Week 1 this year) to 16-9 against the spread over five weeks. Last week I tried to continue my trend of picking some favorites, picking some dogs, picking some home and some away teams, and picking some big lines and some close ones, a trend which is likely to continue throughout the 2009 NFL season if I were a betting man. For a 3-2 week, my Week 6 certainly didn't feel very good, as I squeaked by with my Carolina and Atlanta picks over the weekend -- even though neither one of them played very well or looked particularly like they wanted to win their game -- and I got wiped up picking Seattle by a little at home and picking my Eagles to win huge on the road. So I struggled my way to 2-2 on a very rough Sunday for my picks, and then I was left with my "opposite" pick on Monday night of the Broncos +3 over the Chargers. Just like the game a couple of weeks ago where Indy at 6-0 was only a 3-point favorite over the 0-6 Titans, a line so small that it immediately smacked me and many others who are familiar with NFL betting as one of those "too good to be true" lines that usually indicates something, for the second time this season the "too good to be true" line ended up being, in fact, too good to be true. The undefeated Broncos not only covered with the points, but they beat San Diego outright in a game that wasn't really all that close after the Broncos clamped down on the Chargers in the second half. Anyways, that's about as scrappy a way as possible to get to another over .500 week, so I'm looking to continue the trend this week with some better calls as I attempt to extend my season against-the-spread percentage above the 64% where it currently sits. Documented, bitches! So here come the picks, again in no particular order:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers -5 vs. the Minnesota Vikings. I say the buck stops here this week with the Vikings and their undefeated season. I really can't stand having to give five points when playing the 6-0 Vikings, but Troy Polamalu is back prowling the secondary for the Steelers, Mendenhall is moving ahead having taken the starting runningback job away from Willie Parker with several good performances in a row, and of course Ben Roethlisberger throwing the ball should give the Steelers a good chance to win at home and give Minnesota their first taste of defeat in 2009.

2. Green Bay Packers -7 at the Cleveland Browns. The Packers have scored at least 23 points in every game this season, both at home and on the road, including dropping 36 at St. Louis and then 23 at Minnesota in Week 4, so this team knows how to score the ball away from Lambeau and can be counted on to do so again this week against a bad Browns team. Looking at how the Pack has fared this season against the NFL's worst -- a group of which the Browns are certainly a part -- they crushed the Rams 36-17 in St. Louis, and they also smacked down the Lions at home 26-0. Plus, Cleveland has allowed 34, 27, 34, 23, 3 (Buffalo) and 27 in their six games so far in 2009, including an average of 28.5 points per game allowed at home, while scoring in the single-digits three times and never more than 20 points yet on the year. This one just sounds like a solid beating by the Packers to me, and although you never like to give a touchdown on the road, in this case there seems to be ample evidence to put my money where my mouth is.

3. Indianapolis Colts -13.5 at the St. Louis Rams. Coming off an overtime loss to Jacksonville in the Rams' last best chance to win a game this year, I'm predicting the Rams to be off their game, and let me tell you even when they're on their game it's hard to tell the difference. The Rams have huge problems scoring the ball, with no receivers and only Steven Jackson who faces a stacked box every time he touches the ball, and on defense they're even worse. In six games this season, the Rams have given up 28, 9 (the Redskins), 36, 35, 28 and 23, and the two largest of those numbers both came against good offensive teams at home (36 to the Packers in Week 3, and 38 to Minnesota in Week 5). If the Pack dropped 36 on the Rams in the dome, and the Vikes put up 38 two weeks later, I'm thinking Peyton and crew should be good for at least 30 as well. And since I don't see the Rams scoring more than 15 points or so, that sounds like a Colts cover even with a nearly two-touchdown spread.

4. Atlanta Falcons +4 at the Dallas Cowboys. I know that Atlanta is the better team outright here, and I'm getting four points to boot? That's definite value in my book, even with the Cowboys coming off a bye week. Against many coaches that bye week thing can be a big difference, but for Wade Phillips I imagine the extra week just amounts to an extra week of loafing around and not really preparing for "America's Team". To think that a superior Falcons team is coming into town, and they could lose by a field goal and I still win with the Atlanta pick, this is one I just cannot stay away from this week despite the whole bye week thing.

5. Cincinnati Bungles -1 vs the Chicago Bears. This one is just a "feeling" game, as I don't think there is anything strongly pointing to one team or the other here, but I have a feeling the 4-2 Bungles aren't going to lose two straight games at home to teams with worse records than theirs. The Bears have not played well on the road this season, going 1-2 in giving up 21 to Green Bay, 19 to Seattle sans Matt Hasselbeck, and 21 to Atlanta, so I would expect a similar number around 20 or so for the Bungles this weekend. And at home, Cincinnati only gave up 12 points to Denver in Week 1 (really 6 points until that absurd miracle touchdown catch by Stokely to win in the final seconds) and 20 points to a solid offensive squad in Pittsburgh. The Bears' offense is somewhere between those two teams' in my view, and I expect them to score somewhere in the teens on Sunday at Cincy. So I'm looking for the Bungles to come out hard to avenge last week's loss to Houston which I know bothered them as a team, and find a way to win a fairly close game at home, maybe something in the 23-17 range, over the Bears.

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