Friday, October 30, 2009

NFL Pick 6 -- Week 8

As I mentioned earlier in the week, my NFL picks went 4-1 against the spread in Week 7, bringing my 2009 season total to 20-10 for a solid 9-bet profit so far through 30 games even factoring in the casino's vig. That said, the games seem to be getting harder and harder to pick as the season rolls on, in particular as Vegas keeps adjusting its lines in the blowout-type of games higher and higher, culminating this week in the Chargers being favored over the Raiders by two touchdowns and a field goal as Vegas continues not to be able to make the lines high enough to approach the inequity in many of each week's games. This week is no exception as I find it nearly impossible to come up with five solid picks against the spread, but I'm going to stay at it and force myself to pick winners in five of this week's 13 NFL contests. Here are my picks, in no particular order as always:

1. Baltimore Ravens -3 vs Denver Broncos. Denver puts its 6-0 undefeated record to the test this weekend at Baltimore, and like with my pick in the Vikings-Steelers game last weekend, I think this is the week that Denver's luck finally runs out. Not only is Denver not quite as good as their 6-0 record would indicate, but Baltimore has the kind of defense that I think presents a very tough matchup for this Denver team. With the only two solid defensive squads the Broncos have faced this year -- the Bengals in Week 1 and the Cheatriots in Week 5 -- Denver needed a miracle last-second deflection to score more than 7 against the Bungles, and they needed overtime where the Cheatriots never got to touch the ball to win that game as well, so tough defenses can definitely get to this Broncos team. And after three straight losses to tough teams, coach John Harbaugh is gonna have his team whipped into a frenzy to get back on the winning path. I can't stand having to give 3 points to a 6-0 team, but in this case I expect the Ravens to cover the spread in a fairly close game to knock the Broncos from the ranks of the unbeaten.

2. Green Bay Packers -3 vs. Minnesota Vikings. This is another game where I like the favorite but do not necessarily like having to give the points to a very good opposing squad. But the bottom line is, as I discussed last week when correctly picking Minnesota to lose their first game of the season, Minnesota is not as good as your typical 6-1 team given the nature of a couple of their wins (Baltimore, San Francisco). What's more, we saw last week that the Vikes' running game is not impervious to defenders stacking the box to stop it, and when that happens and Brett Favre is forced to throw more than the team would otherwise prefer, bad things can happen. As soon as I watched that 4th quarter meltdown from Favre in Pittsburgh last week, I immediately had the feeling that he would find himself trying too hard this week to beat his old team in front of the Green Bay fans. I like the Pack to withstand the Vikes' offensive onslaught in what will probably be a high-scoring game, thus hopefully helping the Pack to build up more than the field goal spread in nabbing its 5th victory of the season on Sunday afternoon.

3. San Diego Chargers -16.5 vs Oakland Raiders. This line is pretty much crazy, and I have to be crazy to still be picking the Chargers to win a game by this amount since they obviously couldn't care less what their margin of victory is over the Raiders as long as they win the game. But, with how hard it is to find quality picks against the spread this week, I keep coming back to this one even as the oddsmakers continue to ratchet up the lines against the NFL's worst teams to try to even out the losses Vegas has been experiencing with all the recent NFL blowouts this year. But here's what I'm seeing that has me willing to take a flyer on this ridiculous line: the Chargers have scored 24, 26, 23, 28, 23 and 37 in their six games this year, and of those games, 24 came against Oakland and 37 against Kansas City in San Diego's only two games so far against the bottom tier of NFL teams. So I would expect the team to score in the neighborhood of 30 points against the shoddy Raiders' defense at home this Sunday in California. Moreover, Oakland has scored in its seven games this year 20, 13, 3, 6, 7, 13 and 0 points, including an average of under 6 points per game over its last five outings. Given this pattern I think the Chargers minus the huge 16.5 is still probably a winning play in Week 8.

4. San Francisco 49ers +13 at Indianapolis Colts. This is one that did not jump out at me on my first pass through the games this week, but I definitely see some value here in the underdog based primarily I think on how badly the Colts have beaten their recent opponents. But when I looked a little deeper at the numbers, I found that the 49ers have played three road games this year, all of them against teams with strong passing games (Cardinals, Vikings and Texans). Even though the 9ers are 1-2 in those three games, all the games were quite close (20-16 win at Arizona, 27-24 loss in Minnesota, and a 24-21 loss last week in Houston). So it's not that I believe the 9ers are going to win this game outright necessarily, but that with 13 points to play with, the 49ers are a good value that their coach Mike Singletary will inspire enough play in this one after two tough losses to keep the game reasonably close. Here I think the line has just gotten too big as again the oddsmakers look wherever they can for opportunities to get some extra points in games involving one of the NFL's premiere teams like the Colts certainly are.

5. Miami Dolphins +3.5 at the New York Jets. I do feel like the Jets may pull out a win by the end of this game, but I'm not confident enough in them winning to be willing to give more than a field goal to the visiting Dolphins on the day. These two teams played a couple of weeks back in Miami, which saw new Miami quarterback Chad Henne make several impressive throws on his way to a 31-27 victory over the Jets and their young qb Ryan Sanchez. In general, the heart of the Jets' offense of late has been the run game (Sanchise has not thrown for more than 172 yards in any game since Week 1), and with Leon Washington knocked out for the season in last week's game against the Raiders, I think the Jets' ability to move the ball and score points will be noticeably hampered. What's more, the Dolphins have suddenly scored 38, 31 and 34 points in their last three games since Henne took the helm, so there is reason to believe that the Fins can run up some points on the Jets again this weekend in New Jersey York. I would probably take either team plus more than a field goal here, but I especially think the Jets will have a hard time covering the spread in this one.

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Blogger StB said...

The Packers are beat up on the O-line (which sucked to begin with) and at WR. Unless they can consistently run the screen on every series, they will not win. The Vikes are a much better team.

1:10 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

Minnesota is not as good as your typical 6-1 team


9:35 PM  

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