Well friends we’re back with another year of handicapping fun. For the 4th straight year we ended up with a profit and if you played along with me you would have seen a 65% profit margin(which we all can agree is nice on the pocket-book). If you follow me on twitter and listened to my plea to throw everything you have on the under the night of the Steelers-Chiefs rain bowl Monday nighter you made a LOT more money. If you don’t follow me on twitter you probably should: @Cpt_Handsome as I frequently tweet out game day betting options based on either in-game plays(we made a lot of money betting on Denver to beat San Diego when they were down 24-0 at the half), or late information. But if you just want an easy read once a week, this is the place to be. I promise I’m done advertising myself. So let’s get to the games:
-Baltimore +7.5 @ Denver – The Ravens beat the Broncos in Denver en route to a Super Bowl victory last year. Most people who watched the game agree that officiating played a large role in “stealing” this one from the Broncos and I tend to agree. At the end of the day though the Ravens won and that’s who got paid out. This year both teams have some serious personnel changes to get acclimated to. Baltimore lost leaders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, as well as stud linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and receiver Anquan Boldin. They did bring in Elvis Dumervil and he should help Suggs immensely. The Broncos obviously lost Dumervil, and will be without Von Miller for the first 6 games of the season. This HURTS the team defensively. They did sign Wes Welker who will be an immediate Manning favourite as well as Dan Koppen and Louis Vasquez who will be studs on their o-line. Both teams will go through some early growing pains as they learn about each other but should ultimately be just fine. Denver will probably win this one but more than a TD to the defending champs on opening week? That seems like a LOT. Especially against a Ravens team that has enjoyed fast starts the past few years. Take the points
PICK: Baltimore +7.5
-Tennessee +7 @ Pittsburgh – Last year the Titans beat the Steelers in a major upset. The Steelers lost their best receiver, their leader on defense and have a mess of a running game. So why the heck does anyone think they should be favoured by a TD in this one? Tennessee is who they are. A team that struggled last season but showed moments of solid play. They have one of the most explosive backs in the league and a receiver who could be a star if he can get it together. They probably have more playmakers than the Steelers do these days. Pittsburgh still has home field advantage and a much better QB so they’ll win the game but do yourself a favour and take the points here.
PICK: Tennessee +7
-Atlanta +3 @ New Orleans – Everyone is all over the Saints bandwagon now that Payton is back and I too believe they’ll be better. They’re still the second best team in the division though. Atlanta is better at every position other than QB and TE. Atlanta has more weapons on offense(the only team who can boast that) and a better defense(and if Umenyiora can get it back together this squad might be really good). Brees may throw for 500 yards but they’ll settle for field goals due to an incredible “bend-but-don’t break” defense put forth by the Falcons. Take the better team getting points here and look at the very high OVER(54) as well.
PICK: Atlanta +3
-Kansas City (-3.5) @ Jacksonville – Unlike the rest of the planet I am not buying into the Chiefs hype this year. They’ll be the second best team in a division that only has one real NFL team in it. They can rejoice with Miami about being better than two AWFUL teams. All of that said, I am buying into the lack of hype about the terrible Jags. They don’t have a QB, they lost their stud receiver for the start of the season due to suspension and even when he does return he’s turning out to be a sideshow(see: Britt, Kenny). They have one real player on offense in Maurice Jones-Drew and one real player on defense in Paul Posluszny and that’s it. Kansas City isn’t good, but my high school team would cover this spread so they should too.
PICK: Kansas City (-3.5)
-Miami +1 @ Cleveland – Every year, everyone in the football world starts the year thinking the Browns will be a better team and will get close to .500. Every year the Browns start horribly(1-12 in their past 13 season openers, 12 of which were at home) and get slightly better on their way to a 4 or 5 win season. No reason to expect any better this year. The Dolphins are one of those over-hyped teams like the Chiefs who will be 2nd place in a terrible division. They will be better than 2012, but won’t win the 10 games it will take to make the playoffs. They are better than the Browns though. The have better players at every position aside from left tackle and running back and will win a nice low-scoring game outright. NOTE: No Money Line play is available now, but if you can get the Dolphins to win at even or +anything, take it!
PICK: Miami +1
-Seattle @ Carolina +3.5 – Finally taking a home team and it’s a home dog. Seattle is a pretty over-hyped team as well and isn’t great on the road. They have injuries to contend with(Harvin, Clemons) and Wilson will have a LOT of pressure on him, unlike 2012 when he was a nobody who could do whatever he wanted. This reeks of the 2012 Lions who everyone expected to take another step forward but didn’t. Carolina has been slowly getting better and doing it the right way(through drafting and development). They boast 2012 defensive rookie of the year Luke Kuechly, and a pass rush that most should fear. They may not win this one, but more than a field goal is too much to give.
PICK : Carolina +3.5
-Minnesota +5 @ Detroit – Anyone else confused here? Minny was easily the better of the two teams last year and beat the Lions twice. This year the Lions should be better, but a 5 point favourite? I don’t like Christian Ponder either, but I love Adrian Peterson and the Vikings defense is better than the Lions D. This one seems a bit off. Reggie Bush doesn’t make anyone that much better.
PICK : Minnesota +5
-Oakland +9.5 @ Indianapolis – This pick says more about my lack of confidence in the Colts than any confidence in the Raiders. Oakland is terrible. But the Colts were a bit of a mirage in 2012 and expecting them to cover double-digits is asinine. Just remember how many of their 11 wins came by less than a TD last season? They don’t blow teams out and this one will stay within a field goal.
PICK: Oakland +9.5
-Arizona @ St. Louis (-4.5) – I generally hate laying more than a FG with any divisional favourite unless it happens to be the Patriots playing the Bills or Jets but I really like the Rams. Jeff Fisher has quietly built a very good defense and is putting the pieces together for a very effective offense as well. Arizona is unaware that they need to rebuild and is instead trying to get something out of Carson Palmer. What they are going to get this week is a lot of moaning after he is eaten by the St Louis defense. This one probably won’t be overly high scoring, but St. Louis will cover. Also look at the UNDER(41) as these games are usually very low-scoring.
PICK: St Louis (-4.5)
-Green Bay @ San Francisco(-4.5) – This is another game where two teams who faced off in the playoffs last year will play again. Green Bay doesn’t have a great defense and the 49ers have some injuries there so consider the OVER(48.5) but at the end of the day this game should come down to the running game. Both teams have QBs who can get the job done but the 49ers running game is miles ahead of where the Packers are and that will be the difference.
PICK: San Francisco (-4.5)
-NY Giants +3.5 @ Dallas – At the end of the day, this one comes down to who wants it more. Both teams are fairly similar in skill, both teams feel they should have won the division in 2012 and both teams have a LOT of pressure on them. At the end of the day I believe the Giants handle that pressure better than the Cowboys do. It should also be noted that the Giants have never lost at the Cowboys new home. Eli Manning will start the year on fire(as he always does) and lead the team to a high scoring victory. Take the points and the Money Line +165.
PICK: NY Giants +3.5
-Philadelphia @ Washington (-3) – Chip Kelly is another guy everyone is in love with and seem to believe he’s going to turn this team around in a hurry. That’s a little ahead of where these guys are. They have a number of Kelly type talents on their roster and all of Vick, Jackson and McCoy should see massive improvements this year, but they still have a terrible offensive line and a defense that surrendered 58 points in 2 games against the ‘Skins last year. With RGIII just returning to the fold, Washington may not be firing on all cylinders yet, but they’re still considerably better than the Eagles. Washington wins by more than a few.
PICK: Washington (-3)
-New England (-8.5) @ Buffalo – EJ Manuel was just announced as the starter for this game and that moved the line down a point which makes this even sexier. The Bills are a mess. Their best player(by a mile) is a running back in a league where Quarterbacks rule. Even if Manuel is the real deal he doesn’t have a ton of talent to work with. Stevie Johnson has talent but is sort of a headcase and isn’t to be trusted. Beyond that they will HEAVILY rely on the run which is something the Pats defense has proven it can stop. On the other side the Patriots lost everyone this offseason; Hernandez was arrested, Gronk is still hurting, Welker left etc and the sky was said to be falling. Until everyone realized they are still the Patriots. Danny Amendola is a younger, cheaper Wes Welker, and providing he stays healthy will have a massive year, Zach Sudfield will fill in at TE and put up great numbers until Gronk is back to 100%, and rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, already a Brady favourite, will have an incredible rookie year. The Pats love to make statements and will do so in week 1 with a massive blowout. Also look at the OVER(50.5) as these two teams love to score a lot of points when they play against one another.
PICK: New England (-8.5)
-Cincinnati +3 @ Chicago – OK this one is just stumping the heck out of me. Who’s the better team? Cinncy, right? And home field should give you about 3 points? So why does this line make them equals? They’re not. Cinncy’s defense is better than the Bears(I said it!) and they have a better QB, a better star receiver and if Giovanni Bernard is the guy we think he is, he might be close to Forte’s level. Beyond all of this the Bengals o-line is light years better than the Bears’ and even though most organizations fail to realize this, THAT IS WHERE YOU WIN FOOTBALL GAMES!! Take the Bengals against the spread and take them +135 to win it outright.
PICK: Cincinnati +3
-Tampa Bay (-3) @NY Jets – This is one of my favourite picks of the week. The Jets are terrible and are forced to start Geno Smith as Rex Ryan got his favourite QB hurt in a meaningless pre-season game. Geno has looked terrible at times and absolutely horrendous the rest of the time. He has no offensive weapons to speak of, and the Jets downgraded their defense this offseason. Let it be stated that if you bet on the Jets at all this year, you probably hate money. Tampa on the other hand, improved greatly this offseason. Adding a stud cornerback from these very Jets they improved the one area where they were really terrible in 2012. Offensively they are very strong and will score a lot of points. They’ll still probably give up a bunch but not to these clowns.
PICK: Tampa Bay (-3)
Houston(-3.5) @ San Diego – Houston might be the best team in the AFC. San Diego is awful. This line is a joke. Sure Ryan Matthews might be a little healthier this year and Philip Rivers may only throw 30% of his passes to the other team but that doesn’t put this team in the same stratosphere as the Texans. Perhaps this line is representative of the workload Arian Foster is expected to get, but Tate is a VERY good second option and the Texans have a solid receiving corps who will torch the San Diego secondary if Foster does in fact have a lighter workload on the docket.
PICK: Houston (-3.5)
As I do every year I’ll let you know what bets I’m making and we’ll keep track of how much money you’d be making if you followed my lead. Last year we started with $2000 and ended up with $3342.66 for a 65% profit. Yeah that was nice. Let’s do it again. NOTE: I know the sexy thing to do these days is to play “units” but I want to speak to the guy who doesn’t know what that means, so I’m going to continue to play using dollar amounts. It makes me less cool, but more friendly to the guy who wants to learn more about handicapping.
Starting Bankroll: $2000.00
Current Bankroll: $2000.00
New England(-8.5) – laying $110 to win $100
Tampa Bay(-3) – laying $110 to win $100
Houston (-3.5) – laying $220 to win $200
That’s it for now, but please remember, BET WITHIN YOUR MEANS!!
*All lines come from bet365.com, the site I use.