A couple notes before I get to the picks. First, I just want to say I’m switching to using lines from the Las Vegas Hilton, available here. There’s no real reason for this, other than the fact that some of the readers of the blog have requested it. Keep that in mind when considering picks.
Second, while this blog has debuted DEGEN, I will continue making my own independent picks, without relying on the DEGEN calculations. These picks, as always, are based on computer power ratings and my own scouting/beliefs about the short and long term trends around the NFL. At times, these believes will obviously clash with the more mechanical DEGEN.
Onto the picks!
1. Steelers -6 @ Titans
This line opened at a fairly juicy Steelers -4.5. It has now moved to -6, which sounds about right. I remain a skeptic of the Steelers ultimately, as they haven’t shown all that much. Last week, they were only able to eek out a two point win against a soon to be cellar dwelling Eagles team, and have shown little the rest of the year as well. The Titans stink, but they’re still a professional football team. This game could obviously be a laugher for the Steelers, but forced to choose either side of this line, and I want the home dog.
2. Bengals -1 @ Browns
I used to have a saying. “I’d rather eat my own gun than watch a Bengals-Browns game.” Nothing changes.
That said, I still need to make a pick here. While obviously it’d be nice to just take the easy route, and take the home underdog Browns, this line seems light to me. The Bengals are a decent team, and the Browns are not. It’s not clear to me why this line differs all that much from the above Steelers @ Titans game actually. The Browns are worse than the Titans, and while the Bengals are worse than the Steelers, it’s not by much. This line should be closer to 3.5 or 4 I think. Accordingly, take the road favorite and pray.
3. Colts +3.5 (+100) @ Jets
The Jets avoided a full blown implosion on Monday night, but still lost in spite of a kick return touchdown. I think this is a week when it catches up with them. They took out all the stops, but I think the implosion picks up where it left off here. Plus, there’s that whole Andrew Luck has walked through an invisible archway thing. The Colts are no worse than the Jets at this point. Honestly, I think they’re probably better. Give me the points, especially without a vig, and I also recommend moneyline action here on the Colts.
4. Chiefs + 4 @ Bucs.
We don’t even know if Cassel will play. On the other hand, that might be a good thing for the Chiefs. I don’t know why I just can’t quit Tampa Bay. Maybe it’s their dickhead coach. I like Schiano in the same way I was a fan of Josh McDaniels in Denver – something about childish incompetents appeals to me. Chiefs look about as bad as any team in football, and while the Bucs kind of do too, they’ve also shown signs of life on occasion. I think Bucs -4.5 or 5 or so is closer to being correct, so accordingly, I’ll take Jaassh.
5. Raiders +9 @ Falcons
I don’t understand why this line isn’t 14. Atlanta, while being a bit of a sham, is undefeated, and playing at home. Oakland has been a total tire fire with an inability to stop anyone meanwhile. This line should be 14, with Atlanta leaving the backdoor open, for an Oakland cover. At 9 meanwhile, the backdoor is much smaller, so you need to think Oakland can somehow win to bet them in this game. I’m not smart enough to see that. Computers love Atlanta by 17 or more here FWIW.
6. Cowboys +3.5 @ Ravens
This line also seems low to me. The Ravens have been in that mix for the best team in the NFL, along with the 49ers, Texans, Patriots, Falcons, and maybe Bears. The Cowboys look like the same team they’ve been for a decade. Okay, but rarely threatening to win the Super Bowl or something. +3.5 is the line I’d expect from the Bears/Packers/Giants @ Ravens, not the line I’d expect to see from a decent, but not much better Cowboys team. The one concern I have is that I’ve picked the Ravens almost every week. Things have gotta catch up with them in time.
7. Lions +3.5 @ Eagles
I’ve got no love for this pick. This sounds about right to me given how much I’ve thought both these teams are overrated. But for some reason, people thought the Eagles were some kind of powerhouse early in the year, and maybe they’ll show a bit of that this game. I guess I sadly think the Lions are even more of a sham than the Eagles are. The numbers all like Philly here, but computers are famously unreliable when it comes to Andy.
8. Rams +3.5 @ Dolphins
These two teams are indistinguishable to me. If you have a strong belief about either squad, bet that way. I don’t. With identical teams, I’ll take the team getting more than the standard 2.5 point home field edge. Bonus: The Rams are on long rest, coming off a Thursday game last week.
9. Patriots -3.5 @ Seahawks
Ugh. I’m a Patriots fan, but this bet is mandatory. It’s a beloved road favorite vs. a home dog coming off a loss. The computers say this is a coin flip, or lean slight Seattle. I basically agree with that. The Patriots passing offense is no longer unstoppable with a questionable offensive line, and I think Seattle can stop their renewed rushing attack. Bonus: Every Patriots fan in the world expect them to win by 20. I’d honestly wait a day or two. I expect this line to go higher.
10. Bills +4.5 @ Arizona
There was a time when I thought Arizona had taken leap into being the Jets. A few shitty games later, that happened, but mostly because the Jets have totally fallen apart. I’ve gotta think the Cardinals can clamp down on the Fitzpatrick project, and maybe get a return or defensive 6 for the cover here? Bonus: I rarely pick totals myself without the aid of DEGEN, but I have to love the under 43 here.
11. Minnesota @ Washington.
There’s no line here right now because of RG3’s uncertainty, but I just want to say, if this line opens with Minnesota getting any points, that’s the side I want. This should be a pickem or Minnesota -1.
12. Giants +6.5 @ 49ers
I think the 49ers are the best team in football. Problem is, this line kind of reflects that. Do I really think we’ve seen enough from a dinged up Alex Smith to think they’re gonna cover nearly a touchdown vs. the General? All the computers like San Francisco here. I think it’s generally a good rule to bet against the anointed best team in football however, so I’m gonna take Eli, and hope he’s more Eli than Peyton. This is a real hold your nose bet though.
13. Packers +3.5 @ Texans
This is a tough one. Brian Cushing is out for the year with an ACL injury. The Texans have shown a lot of weakness in going undefeated, while the Packers have just shown a lot of weakness period. I think I’ve gotta lean on the team that just came off a “kick in the pants” loss to get it together, and keep it within a field goal. It wasn’t too long ago this team was at risk of going undefeated, before Romeo Crennel got involved.
14. Denver +1 @ San Diego
Oh Phil. Why can’t I quit you. This is mostly a pick against Denver, who has this funny habit of going down by 21 before getting the game close again. Accordingly, the computers kind of like them. I do not however. You need to actually win one of these games before I come to believe that it’s more than piling on points and yards against defenses that aren’t really trying. San Diego just lost a ridiculous game vs. the Saints, but generally looked okay there. Take Phil, take Norv, and get ready to wonder how this happened to you again.