Last week was a disaster. My picks went 0-4-1. I definitely can't win the second quarter contest and probably can't place in the whole contest after it. But I'm going to keep grinding away. It's the only option.
This week I stuck with my instincts and focused on the games I disagreed with Vegas on. Last week that approach would have yielded a 2-2 record, which is two more wins than I'd got.
I'll get right to my picks this week.
Chicago -3 @ MIAMI
In a week where the Patriots play the Chiefs on Sunday night, Football Outsider's DVOA metric says that this is the match up with the best teams of the week. The Bears are second by DVOA and the Dolphins are seventh - compared to 3rd and 9th for the Chiefs and Pats respectively.
But even Football Outsiders agree that they have the Dolphins overrated. Ryan Tannenhill behind a beat up defensive line is their biggest problem. They lost their Left Guard in Week 1 and their Center in week 4. Tannenhill had a completion percentage in the 70's prior to the center's injury and it's been in the 50's since then. Khalil Mack and team, rested off a bye, are going to wreak havoc on him all day.
I had this line as Bears -1.5 so I should pick Miami with the extra points, but I agree with Vegas. They are afraid of taking too much money on the Bears and they're moving the line to try to entice bettors to take the Dolphins. I don't think the line has moved enough. I like the Bears to get out to a big lead and hold it, 24-7.
Jacksonville -3 @ DALLAS
This is a bet on the return of good Blake Bortles. He's had an up and down season and he is coming off a down. The team felt pressure to score against a great Chiefs offense and forced things. Bortles threw 61 times - far too much for the Bortler - and threw four interceptions.
This week Jacksonville's offense will let the game come to them, because they're defense is going to manhandle Dallas' flailing offense. Not only is the offense bad, it's in distress, and they're tossing around blame like it's a hot potato. Here's Cole Beasley a couple of weeks ago saying the receivers are open and it's some one else's fault they're not getting the ball. Here's another wideout, Allen Hurns, questioning the play calls. Whatever the root cause of the issues - and I'm sure it's a confluence of factors - they are not going to be fixed this week against an awesome Jaguars defense.
Last year, Dallas would have had a path to victory in this game, running the ball. The Jaguars defense was incredible last year, but it was mostly dominant against the pass. This year they are a well rounded unit and stop the run as well as the pass. Dallas is going to stumble all day, and Bortles will make enough plays to win this game by two scores. Jacksonville wins 24-13.
Arizona +10 @ MINNESOTA
I had Minnesota as a 7.5 point favorite. I understand that Arizona is bad, but in what world do the Vikings deserve to be a ten point favorite? They lost that right when they got blown out at home against the Bills. Maybe Vegas is counting on them avoiding trap games after that one, but I don't see it.This is the perfect game for Arizona to win outright. The Vikings could let down again after redeeming their playoff loss last year with a huge win over the Eagles.
It's not just the situation I like. Arizona has the roster to be competitive in this game. The Cardinals defense is the best unit in this game by points and DVOA. They will keep Minnesota below 21 points so Josh Rosen will only need to lead the Cardinals offense to 13 or more points for a cover.
That shouldn't be too difficult. The Vikings defense is still slow and overrated. The Cardinals will isolate David Johnson on Anthony Barr in the passing game for a few large gains. And maybe the defense will force a turnover or two. Vikings will win, but in a close one, 20-13.
Buffalo +9.5 @ TEXANS
This is the exact game as Arizona @ Minnesota. How is Houston a 9.5 point favorite. They've only won two games - in overtime - by 6 points combined. The Bills have also won two games. I projected this line as Texans -5.5. I don't understand this.
I think people think this Bills team is the same from that week one rout in Baltimore. It's not. For one, Nathan Peterman will go down as the worst passer to ever throw in NFL history. I'm including all position players, punters, and kickers that may have thrown the ball on a trick play or two. He was benched and the offense has looked better with Josh Allen. And the defense has not given up more than 22 points in a game since their head coach, Sean McDermott, took over defensive play calling at half time of week 2. This team is not that bad.
The Texans are not that good either. They move between the 20's just fine, but when they get in the Red Zone the team shuts down. Watson is only completing 35% of his passes for 1.4 yards per attempt from inside the opponent 20. This means that they can't score touchdowns. Without touchdowns there's no way they can cover a 9.5 point spread. I think they'll just lose outright. I'm taking the Bills in an upset, 16-13.
BROWNS +1.5 vs. Chargers
I had this line as Browns -1 and it's actually moved to that number as of Saturday despite 55% of the bets on LA. Sharp money must be on the Browns to create that line movement. The contest line is stuck at Browns +1.5 because they can't move the line so I'm aligned with the sharps and I have the best line available! I'll take that every day.
The Browns are underrated still because they are the Cleveland Browns. Their owner is an embarrassment and so is their coach. But so much losing has finally brought in a bevy of talent that can overtake their coaching deficiencies. Baker Mayfield looks awesome and their defense is ferocious. This group is better than their logo.
The Chargers are the perfect team for the Browns to beat. They find creative ways to lose. A few years ago they had the top offense and defense and failed to make the playoffs. Just last year they started 0-4 with 4 fluky losses to start the season including 2 losses from missed field goals. This is going to be a sloppy game with an odd ending, but I'll take the home team. Browns win 31-28 in overtime.
Hopefully this week I'll do better than last. Feel free to tail me or fade my picks for easy money. Regardless of your strategy, best of luck this week. Remember to subscribe below to get my picks as soon as they're released each week.