Monday Night Football

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings, 7:10p (Vikings -3, O/U 48)

AP coming home, with a new team.  Saints running game has not been all that great since Drew Brees has come to town.  With AP and Ingram in the backfield, the load isn’t all on Brees’ right arm.  Given the Saints addition of the Vikes former franchise star, the Vikes still have that staunchy defense and Bradford has brought some consistency to their air game since Favre retired after the 2010 season.  Brees will be missing Brandon Cooks badly but he is still great and can make something out of that offense however I feel the loss is bigger than the gain.  Yes, I’m aware that AP lead the league in rushing after his major knee injury 3 years ago but he’s 32 and now in a high powered passing offense with Ingram taking touches from him.  Expect the Vikings to play well.  Vikings win 24-20

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos, 10:20p (Broncos -3, O/U 43)

Not much has really changed with the Chargers other than a city change and oh yeah, Keenan Allen is back and healthy again.  It seems as if he’s had some horrible season ending injuries the last bunch of years but when he’s healthy, the Chargers are hard to beat.  That being said, their going into Denver.  This defense is still mostly staffed with players who helped get them to the Super Bowl a few years back.  Don’t count out the Chargers defensive front, lead by Joey Bosa.  They made their presence known last year.  Don’t expect anything less from them.  Denver still doesn’t have a formidable QB which spells trouble for Thomas and Sanders in the fantasy realm but CJ Anderson is giving them another weapon to use.  There isn’t an expectation that there are going to be any major scoring but I do expect it to be over the 43 point O/U marker.  Chargers win 24-21

 

NFL Week 1: Season Opener

Welcome back to another NFL season!

This year, it just feels like it is going to be a great one.  The draft came and went with lots of quality depth for the running back and wide receiver positions.  Fantasy draft season hits and you’re suddenly thrown into the conundrum of taking a seasoned vet or one of the 4 rookie backs that could start and make huge impacts?  And talk about depth at receiver!  Outside of the top crop of players guaranteed to vie for the 200-250 point mark in most PPR leagues, there is some amazing depth there for your WR2-4!

Then pre-season hits. You’re excited, waiting for the first big crack of pads and game action regardless if they are guys who will be cut in 4 weeks (and Hardknocks).  Football is back!  A couple key injuries here and there and then you’re wondering why Greg held the damn draft so early in the pre-season…….but you don’t care because it gives you an excuse to play GM for your team and scour stats of the waiver wire players for that undrafted diamond in the rough stud!

Man, what a time of the year…

Fast forward to the first game of the season, Chiefs @ Patriots.  Pats -9, O/U 48.5:

Rule of thumb for the past 15 years or so has been, don’t bet against the Pats at home, EVER!  Chances are, out of 8 games, you’ll be in the black, handedly, every year.  Their ATS coverage at home since 2003 is amazing (75-54-4, 58.1% covers).  The only team better than them is Seattle 73-46-4 (61.3% covers), and those figures include playoffs.  Needless to say, SHOCKER! I mean, the only thing not shocking about that game was that the Chiefs were going to cover the 9 points Vegas gave them.  They had to have been reminded by that fact all week and possibly helped create a “chip on the shoulder” mentality that they weren’t being respected coming into this game.  Let’s be honest though, we know the Pats are REALLY good at home especially when it’s a feature game, but 9 POINTS!?!?!  That’s a spread you reserve for the Pats/Jags or the Pats/Browns, not the Chiefs.  I figured they’d cover but still lose…..because, well…..it’s the Pats at home.  I couldn’t have been more wrong about the final score.

Covers.com had the game at Pats -9, O/U of 48.5. I figured that the Pats secondary would make it difficult for Smith to be relied on solely, so I planned on his usual 1 maybe 2 TD’s through the air and maybe 250 yards, effectively like a pro vet QB, managing the game well.  I expected Hunt to make a small impact in his first game, maybe 70 yards and a score.  I expected the Pats to have their run game stall because of the Chiefs stingy defensive front and I expected Tom would exploit the defense on a handful of plays to keep the Pats ahead with his numerous air attack weapons.

Not once could I have predicted Hunt tearing off 148 yards on the ground with another 98 through the air along with 3 TD’s, (dramatic pause), ALL after losing a fumble on his first ever carry! Nor did I see Smith tossing for 368 and 4 scores while completing 80% of his passes.  No one, however, could’ve seen this coming, Tom Brady completing just 44% of his throws and end up with 0 TD’s, (another dramatic pause) 0!!!!  They only averaged 3.5 yards rushing as a team, mostly thanks to Gillislee and White (side shocker no one saw coming, Gillislee having 3 rushing TD’s).

So the Chiefs defense did what I thought they’d do but the pass rush against Brady was alive last night!  Brady had a bunch of time in the pocket for most of the night despite the 3 sacks but he felt the pressure amount the longer he held the ball (which was evident on a play where no one was all that close to him and he flinched in the pocket, ducking down as if to brace for a sack and quickly stood straight back up to fire an incompletion).  The Chiefs did all of this while amassing 15 penalties for 139 yards to which the Pats got 4 first downs from and set up a few close TD’s at the Chief’s goal line.

First game, in the books, complete shocker.  Expect a big bounce back next week since that usually happens when the Pats lose bad.

Check back Sunday morning for a preview of Sunday’s games complete with spread and over/unders from Covers.com along with my predictions for each game along with Colin Cowherd’s Blazing 5.

Week 2 NFL Picks

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills,
1 p.m., TV: CBS, LINE: Bills +1.5, O/U: 45:
The Patriots came into week one with questions at quarterback until the courts overturned his 4 game suspension. Tom put on a clinic and absolutely made the NFL eat some sour grapes with his play and yes there was even radiogate. McCoy is expected to play given his hamstring issue but wasn’t very effective carrying the ball in week 1 but is still a viable option for Taylor in the pass game. The Bills have a stingy looking defense against a very good Andre Luck and the Colts. Bills win this one despite Gronk having a big game. My Pick: Bills 21-20.

Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers,
1 p.m., TV: CBS, LINE: Panthers -3, O/U: 41:
Houston couldn’t stop a thing last week against the Chiefs. With a stacked defensive line, Alex Smith should’ve been under tons of pressure and it should’ve been closer and yes, they were predicted to win. Hoyer didn’t have a great game and now Mallett is under center. He has a strong arm with a lot of talent but his downfall is never living up to his potential. With a shot in Houston and not sitting behind Brady, maybe it’ll liven up the kid. Kuechly is out with a concussion from last weeks game against the Jags but with him out, the Panthers still stuffed the Jags. Mallett seemed to get the offense going last week almost making a comeback. The Panthers didn’t have a whole lot of options in the air game but Stewart looked like his old/healthy self with a huge game given the low expectations. My Pick: Texans 24-20.

Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears,
1 p.m., TV: FOX, LINE: Bears +2.5, O/U: 46:
Palmer tore up a Saints secondary that was suspect going into the game. The Bears also got lit up by a fantastic looking Packers air game. Ellington may be out but that air game will be as strong as ever. The Bears put up a good fight against Green Bay at home but with Cutler making mistakes and even late in the game when he needs to be at his best, it gives the Bears a disadvantage where they don’t need it. Where they make up for it is Forte however, he’s not the guy who has the ball in his hands every play to make better decisions. My Pick: Cardinals -2.5.

San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals,
1 p.m., TV: CBS, LINE: Bengals -3.5, O/U: 48:
The Bengals have been unreal at home and another monster on the road and especially ugly late in the seasons. Keenan Allen had a career game last week with a missing Antonio Gates. Tyler Eifert also had a career game in last week’s matchup against the Raiders. With these two offenses on point to start the season off right, the defenses won’t have a chance to keep the end zone clear of celebrations. I’m just surprised there isn’t a side bet for Adam “Pacman” Jones getting into trouble again, seeing that he had a fit of rage last week that costed him some good cabbage. My Pick: Bengals 31-24.

Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns,
1 p.m., TV: CBS, LINE: Browns +1.5, O/U: 41:
Mariota looked like a seasoned vet last week torching the Buccs secondary for 4 scores. This week also marks the first career start for Johnny Manziel who looked good at times and bad at other times. This is also the second week in a row 2 Heisman wining quarterbacks will be facing each other. Last week it was the last 2 years winners and this week is the winner from 3 years ago versus last year’s winner. Mariota has workable weapons, Manziel doesn’t. My Pick: Titans 22-20.

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings,
1 p.m., TV: FOX, LINE: Vikings -3, O/U: 44.5:
The Vikings did not look good at all last week but in the new home they turn it around. They didn’t feed Adrian Peterson the rock like they should’ve but that changes today. Teddy is still young and doesn’t have the control of the team like a vet can. The Lions offense has always been decent and Ebron looked to have a good start to his sophomore bid. My Pick: Lions 20-17.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints,
1 p.m., TV: FOX, LINE: Saints -10, O/U: 47:
Division rivalries are always good games but Winston seemed to be exposed by a not that great Titans defense. Saints secondary got torched by a healthy Carson Palmer but recoup against a raw Winston. Brees looked like himself and on the road even. Look for him to explode at home and expose the Buccs again and then some. My Pick: Saints 35-17

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants,
1 p.m., TV: FOX LINE: Giants -2, O/U: 49:
The Giants looked pretty resilient last week in Dallas and nearly won the game but gave it up late. Eli looked like typical Eli and look for that to continue against a Falcons team that gave the Eagles fits early last week and even beat them. The Falcons can be iffy on the road in outdoors games and the Giants aren’t favored that much but the offense didn’t look great. My Pick: Falcons 23-17.

San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers,
1 p.m., TV: FOX, LINE: Steelers -6, O/U: 46:
The 49ers came out of the gates with a nice upset win. The defense put together a great game against an offense that was poised to do great things given the momentum coming off of last season. Big Ben and the Steelers had some lapses in judgement when covering Gronk last week but with over a week to prepare and seeing what things did work for the 49ers and their run game, they have a big game and really show us who the 9ers are. My Pick: Steelers 33-14.

St. Louis Rams at Washington Redskins,
1 p.m., TV: FOX, LINE: Redskins +4, O/U: 41:
The Rams came out and had decent expectations going into the Seahawks game last week and nearly lost it but fended them off for a huge upset win. They always play tough defense at home but have never had a consistent starter behind center. Now that Foles is in town, the guy gives a great deep ball threat and the Redskins have been a dumpster fire for years but the defense can stop drives but if the offense can’t get anything going, it’ll wear them out and open them up. My Pick: Rams 31-19

Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars,
4:05 p.m., TV: CBS, LINE: Jaguars +6.5, O/U: 42:
The Dolphins enjoyed a nice win last week against the Skins but this week against the Jags could prove to be a tougher play, defensively anyways. The Jags usually have a decent defense but still allowed the Panthers to score 20 without a whole lot of offensive weapons. The Jags will hold the Dolphins buy not enough due to the offense being stuffed by a much improved Fins defensive front. My Pick: Dolphins 24-14.

Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders,
4:05 p.m., TV: CBS, LINE: Raiders +6, O/U: 42:
What to make of the Ravens. They had a hard time getting anything going on offense last week agains the Broncos but the defense looked really good and even after losing Suggs for the year after tearing his Achilles. The Raiders got off to an ok start but after Carr left the game with a hand injury, all hope went out the door. With Carr back this week, some of that hope is back. This will be another low scoring affair but with the better team coming out on top. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders keep it close however. My Pick: Ravens 20-17.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles,
4:25 p.m., TV: FOX, LINE: Eagles -7, O/U: 54.5:
The Eagles might’ve started slow but finished big last week against the Falcons last week. The Falcons still took them to the woodshed long enough to get the win but give the Eagles a few extra minutes last week and they would’ve pulled it out. The defense still got blown out of the water in the air game even with Maxwell as a new edition. The Falcons still had some big time targets to throw to but the Cowboys don’t have Dez in the lineup. They do however have good depth of trustworthy receivers that can step up and contribute. 7 is a pretty big spread for these two to go at it. My Pick: Eagles 30-25.

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers,
8:30 p.m., TV: NBC, LINE: Packers +3.5, O/U: 50:
The Seahawks have lost some key members on their defense especially since one of them is by their own doings, not figuring out the Chancellor thing yet. The Packers are unreal at home, always count on them to ride high with Rodgers behind center. The Packers had a 12 point lead in the NFC Championship game in Green Bay last year. They let that game slip away and the Hawks pulled off some kind of miracle. That doesn’t sit well with Green Bay who haven’t beat them since 2010, 5 matchups ago. Rodgers will be out for blood and with James Jones filling in for Jordy Nelson in the best possible way last week, that’s going to make them that much more dangerous this year. The Seahawks put together a decent offensive performance in a tough road matchup against the Rams last week. They normally don’t score like that on the road and to be up in tough Green Bay, they won’t duplicate over 30 points but Jimmy Graham helps. My Pick: Packers 31-26.

Week 7: Monday Night Mash-up

Houston Texans @ Pittsburgh Steelers,
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Steelers -3. O/U: 44.5:

The Texans go into Pittsburgh on a 2 game skid. They are 1-2 on the road and the offense has been all ground game and Arian Foster. Fitzpatrick has shown leadership in close games and has shown he can sustain some long drives but isn’t going to have that massive 300 yard game. The defense has helped but it is not dominating like everyone thought it would be. Yes, Clowney went out early in the season but they practically have the same defensive line as last year and have only 10 sacks with Watt having 4 of them. They have games with 1 or none and they dumped a ton of money on Watt and a 1st overall, 1st round draft pick on Clowney. There is a possibility that Clowney may return tonight but if he does, how effective will he be and how much will we see him?

The Steelers are 25-2 on Monday night at home and 8-0 of those at Heinz Field. However the Steelers haven’t been that impressive, especially their defense. They are older, slower and can’t hang with the young speedy receivers that are beating them. Big Ben has been picking it up since weeks 3, 4, 5 but hit a wall last week against the Browns. Speaking of Brown, Antonio Brown has been their star catching 5 of Ben’s 8 TD’s. The two-headed rushing monster of Bell and Blount in the back field has helped. The offense ranks 8th in passing and 4th in rushing but are 31st in the league in the red zone. The Offense is there, the defense is not. The defense will have a hard time against the Texans rush game. Watt will have a tough time getting to Ben but if he does he will have a doubly hard time bringing him down.

Take the Steelers to win with the points, and this one will score in the Over because neither defense is overpowering. Steelers 27-21

Colin Cowherd went 3-2 yesterday and yes, it turns out that the Chiefs/Chargers game was a trap bet and we now know that the 49ers can’t fill major defensive players’ roles with more than 2 defensive stars being out, I thought they would.

MATCHUP SPREAD (H) WISE GUYS AGREE W/L/P HERD’S RECORD WISE GUYS
Bengals @ Colts (-3) -3 Y W 20-12 18-14
Dolphins (+3) @ Bears -3 Y W 21-12 19-14
Giants (+6.5) @ Cowboys -6.5 Y L 21-13 19-15
Chiefs (+4) @ Chargers -4 Y W 22-13 20-15
49ers (+6.5) @ Broncos -6.5 Y L 22-14 20-16