At the end of the first week of our friendly competition, Marty and I find ourselves in a too familiar place for the casual gambler: in debt. Hereís how it looks:
Mike : $-23.64
Despite our best efforts, we both had losing weekends. Technically, I had a winning weekend and a losing Monday Night, but I digress. Despite only winning 2 of his 5 bets, Marty is in ďthe leadĒ because he only lost $4.55, and I am down $23.64. I went 2 for 4, but I lost the most money on my so-called lock of the week. The Patriots escaped Baltimore with a victory, but certainly did not cover the 21 points it needed to. I got caught up the dominant Patriot hype and overlooked one of the first rules of gambling on the NFL. Home underdogs on a nationally televised night game are normally a great bet. I lost sight of that, and made a huge mistake. Hereís how Iím going to rectify my mistake and get back in the black:
Game: St. Louis Rams +6.5 at Cincinnati Bengals
The Rams are getting healthier and better week after week. Theyíve won 3 of their last 4 games, and this is not a team that has thrown in the towel, looking for a top draft pick. Marc Bulger missed last week with a concussion, but heís listed as probable to start against the Bengals. In his last 3 starts, he's completed 73% of his passes, and the only interception he threw was on the play that he got concussed. Since the bye week, Stephen Jackson has had 100 or more yards from scrimmage every game. That is including last week, when, in Bulgerís absence, he had 167 total yards. This team is clicking and they wonít be stopped by this Bengals team that has been perennially inconsistent. Just look at Chad Johnson this season. Heís the superstar of this team, and nobody knows which Ohco Cinco is going to show up. He had a huge game in week 2, having 209 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Likewise, he had a huge week 2 weeks ago against the Titans, scoring 3 touchdowns. The problem is that in between those 2 games, he went 8 games without a touchdown. Itís not only their #1 receiver thatís having an off year, but their #1 Running back, and their star quarterback are also not playing up to their ability. The Bengals are coming off a Sunday Night game, in which they got thoroughly stomped by the Steelers. They are 0-3-1 ATS this year, after a divisional game. Iíll call for the straight up win, but Iím taking the points, just in case. Iíll take a streaky team on the upswing over inconsistency any day of the week. Rams: 31, Bengals: 28
Game: Miami Dolphins +7 at Buffalo Bills
The Dolphins, despite being winless, have been keeping it close the last month or so, barring last weeks Jets game. They knocked on the doorstep against the Giants and the Eagles, and also this Bills team. The Dolphins actually played better for most of the game against the Bills. They were only trailing the Bills for 46 seconds. Unfortunately, it was the last 46 seconds of the game. Marshawn Lynch led the drive to tie the game in the 3rd quarter, as well as the drive to win the game in the 4th. However, Marshawn Lynch hasnít played a game since, due to a sprained ankle. He is a huge part of the Buffalo offense, and you can contribute the Bills poor performances in the last three games to his absence. They got creamed by the Pats, creamed by the Jags, and barely beat the Redskins because of a fluke double time-out by Joe Gibbs. Lynch is listed as questionable, so he might not play. Even if he does, itíll be on a sore ankle, which will most likely hamper his ability. The Dolphins have come close more often then not, and they just canít put it away. I see another close game, on Sunday. Bills: 17 Dolphins: 14
Mikeís Lock of The Week Game: San Diego Chargers -1 at Tennessee Titans
Vince Young is a BAD quarterback. I mean, he's a leader, and he's good at scrambling, and the system that he's in caters to his skill set, but as of right now, Vince Young is not a good quarterback. The less he throws for the Titans, the better. Unfortunately, with this Chargers team coming to Tennessee gaining momentum, Young will probably have to pass more than the coaches would like. I respect the hell out of this Titans defense, but San Diego has the best athletes in the NFL, and I see the Titans falling down early, and they'll be hard-pressed to make a come back. The Titans don't utilize their home field. Their home wins this year came against the Texans, Panthers, Raiders and Falcons. Not that impressive. On the other side of things, they have lost at home to the Colts and the Jags. When faced with a higher quality team at home, the Titans can't hold their ground. One of the most telling stats in the NFL is that fewer turnovers win games. The Titans this year have a negative turnover margin, which says to me that their 7-5 record is more of an anomaly. The Chargers are second only to the Patriots in that category, with a turnover margin of +14 for the season. That's reason enough for me to make this my lock of the week. Chargers: 31 Titans: 14
Mike's Stay Away Game:
Game: Indianapolis Colts -9 at Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are coming off a game where they should have beaten the best team in the NFL. Many people are tempted to pick them at home against a slightly lesser team, because theyíre still getting 9 points. However, the loss to the Patriots is demoralizing. The fans wonít be as into it, the players wonít have that same fire in their belly. Itís a shame they have to face the Pats and Colts in back to back games. If it were another team, Iíd take the Ravens and the confidence they should have after a game like last Monday Night, but not against a Colts team. The Colts know how to win. Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning can control the ball and eat the clock. This is a good thing for a football team that wants to win. Itís not so good for a gambler that wants them to beat the spread. The Colts should win this game, but I donít have the slightest idea if it will be a blowout, or one of the recent squeakers the Colts have been pulling out. So, Iím staying far away from this game, and advise you to do the same. Colts: 24, Ravens: 14
I also advise all of you to stay away from all of Martyís picks. Youíve been warned.
Marty: I expected a better week than the one I had. At least I nailed my lock of the week though and the Jaguars game. Speaking about the Jaguars, that is where we will be starting...
Game: Jacksonville Jaguars -10.5 VS. Carolina Panthers
Prediction: Jaguars: 27 Panthers: 14
Reasoning: The Jacksonville Jaguars have covered three of their last four games at home, and the only game they didnít cover was against the Colts who they just covered against on the road. The Jags are 8-2 against the spread their last ten games. They are playing some great football heading into the playoffs. The Panthers? They are 4-6 against the spread in their last 10 games, but if you take away their game on Sunday against 49ers the last time they have covered the spread, or even won a game for that matter, was against the Cardinals on October 14th. The Jaguars are 13th in the league in points per game averaging 22.3 points per game. The Panthers on the other hand are giving up 21.4 points per game, and have given up 14, 31, 31, 20, and 20 points the last 5 games. David Garrard has really put some life back into this offense and Fred Taylor looks like the Fred Taylor of old who used to always rush for 100 yards. Old man Vinny is going to be in for a really long day as well against this Jaguars defense that likes to attack ferociously.
Game: Oakland Raiders @ Green Bay Packers OVER 41.5
Prediction: Raiders: 23 Packers: 27
Reasoning: I donít see Favreís injury affecting this game too much or affecting the score. The Packers are averaging 26.9 points per game which is good enough for 5th in the league. The Raiders have given up an average of 21.7 points per game as well. I canít believe Iím about to say this, but the Raiders offense is picking up some steam and has been improving. They just put up 34 points against the Broncos, and they put up 20 points on the road against Kansas City the week before as well as 22 points on the road against a tough Vikings defense. The Packers point total recently is pretty scary too, they scored 27 points on the road against Dallas with Rodgers in most of the game and the four games previous to the Dallas game they had scored at least a whopping 30 points each game. Seven of the last ten Packers games have gone OVER. The Raiders have gone OVER the last three games as well. These two defenses are vulnerable as well as both are just ranked in the middle of the pack. I expect both teams to put up some points and for the record I expect the game to be a lot closer than most people think.
Marty's LOCK OF THE WEEK: Game: Cleveland Browns -3.5 @ New York Jets
Prediction: Browns: 30 Jets: 20
Reasoning: Iím feeling really confident about this game here. The New York Jets have the 25th ranked defense in the league. The Cleveland Browns have the 6th ranked offense in the league lead by the emerging Derek Anderson. The Jets donít have a good match up here at all. I can almost guarantee that Kellen Winslow will have a big game, because nobody on the Jets can cover Winslow. Their best LB is currently on IR (Jonathon Vilma) and they donít really have a safety that can physically match up with Winslow. When the Jets faced the Cowboys their TE Jason Witten had 4 catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, when they faced the Steelers Heath Miller was the leading receiver for the Steelers, and against another good TE in Todd Heap they allowed 7 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown to him. In fact the Jets have allowed a TD to a TE in every game except for games against the Dolphins (both times), Eagles, Steelers, Bills (one time), and Redskins, and in two of those games against the Steelers and Redskins the TE was the leading receiver. The Jets havenít really been that great at home either this season, they are 2-3-1 against the spread at home. That tie is also against the 0-12 Miami Dolphins. The Cleveland Browns on the other hand are 8-2 against the spread their last 10 games and have been playing terrific football. They are 4-2 against the spread on the road, but those two games were against the 12-0 New England Patriots and this past Sunday against the Cardinals. The last time these two met was week 8 last year when the Browns shocked the Jets and beat them 20-13. This is an exquisite match up for the Browns.
Marty says STAY AWAY FROM... Game: New England Patriots -10.5 VS. Pittsburgh Steelers
Prediction: Patriots: 29 Steelers: 22
Reasoning: I know, I know, I know...I know people have had a lot of success betting on the Patriots this season, but this isnít the week to do it. I also know that the Steelers have struggled on the road this season. The last two weeks havenít been flukes though. The Patriots are very much beatable, and their weakness is no longer hidden. Their biggest weakness on offense is protecting pressure up the middle; their biggest weakness on defense is being able to stop the run for a whole game. The Steelers match up perfectly as they are one of the best blitzing teams in the league, I would say the best blitzing team in the league. They have an excellent 3-4 scheme where their blitzes are so exotic that they get a lot of pressure on the QB. Tom Brady can be rattled and the Steelers are the type of team Brady doesnít like facing. On the other side of the ball Willie Parker is one of the better backs in the league and was the leading rusher before ďPurple Jesus.Ē I also believe that the Steelers have become a much better throwing team this year and their passing game could give the Patriots fits. I noticed in the Eagles game that every time the Eagles would go into their 4 or 5 WR sets the Patriots had some trouble covering them. Also, when Boller got a shot to go into the shotgun he did a great job at times at completing some big passes for first downs. This is a new Steelers offense that likes to spread the defense out when they can; Iím looking at Roethlisberger to have a pretty good game. You also have to know that the Patriots are the Patriots and can snap at any time. Be smart, and stay away from this game.
Mike:For the "Mike v. Marty" matchup this week, we're betting on the Cowboys/Lions game at Ford Field. Marty thinks that the Cowboys will blow the Lions out of the water, whereas I think that the Lions will at least keep it close.
Mike v. Marty Game: Detroit Lions +10.5 vs. Dallas Cowboys
Mike's Bet: $15
Am I overcompensating for picking against the double digit home dog last week with this pick? Probably. Despite the 4-game losing streak, the Lions are still in the thick of the NFC playoff race, and I just don't think they've given up. Every game now is critical in their quest to make the playoffs, and they know it. It may not be enough to beat the Cowboys, but they will certainly keep it close. Detroit has been very good in Ford Field this year. They are 4-2, with their only losses at home being against two playoff teams, the Giants and the Packers. Dallas, on the other hand, is set up for a trap game. They're coming off a huge win against Green Bay last Thursday, and next week is a big divisional rivalry game against the Eagles. For all intents and purposes, they will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. All of these things are a recipe for a let-down. If you remember, the last time Dallas was a road favorite by double digits, they were extremely lucky to leave Buffalo with a win. Normally, double digit home dogs are reserved for the Patriots this year, or when a really good team travels to a really bad team. I don't think the Lions, with their offensive weapons, qualify as that poor of a team. At the very least, they can be competitive. Couple that with the back against the wall mentality that the Lions should have, and this game should be close. Dallas: 27 Detroit: 20
Game: Dallas Cowboys -10.5 @ Detroit Lions
Marty's Bet: $25
Prediction: Cowboys: 38 Lions: 17
Reasoning: I donít think so Mike! You bring up the point that Detroit is 4-2 at home with their only losses coming against two playoff teams in the Packers and the Giants, but the Dallas Cowboys are better than both of those teams. I donít see this as a trap game because the Cowboys have had 10 days to get ready for this game, and they have done fine in games before facing a division rival. Anyways, their game against the Eagles wonít mean nearly as much as those games usually mean this time of the year. Also, even though the Lions are 4-2 at home this season they are 3-2-1 against the spread. The Dallas Cowboys are 7-2-1 against the spread in their last 10 games. This is where it gets good though, the Cowboys are 4-1-1 their last 6 road games. They are a very solid road team and they shouldnít have too much trouble playing against a weaker opponent in the Lions. I know they struggled against the Bills, but that was the Bills first MNF game in a very long time and they played their best game of the season, the Lions wonít do that on Sunday. The Cowboys have the 2nd ranked offense in the league behind only the Patriots. The Lions are exactly the opposite because they have the 31st ranked defense in the league! Including the 31st ranked pass defense going up against Tony Romo and Terrell Owens. The Lions are coming off a 42-10 loss to the Vikings and their morale is hurt, they arenít playing like they did earlier this season which was with a lot of spark. The Dallas 3-4 defensive scheme should be after Kitna all day. The Cowboys are just the better team all around.
St. Louis +6.5 at Cincinnati
Miami +7 at Buffalo
San Diego -1 at Tennessee
Detroit +10.5 vs. Dallas
Jacksonville -10.5 vs Carolina
Oakland @ Green Bay Over 41.5
Cleveland -3.5 at New York Jets
Dallas -10.5 at Detroit
All material copyright 2006 its respective owners.
Site scripted and designed by Mike Maloney.