OK, the Big Five Bets have been in a bit of a tailspin the last two weeks after notching 4-1 weeks in Weeks 3 and 5. Sadly we went 3-7 the past two weeks. Week 6 should have been a 4-1 week if we didn't switch New Orleans with Philadelphia and Dallas with Oakland. You live and learn and Week 7 seemed promising with four of the picks we missed on all covering the spread in the 2nd half (Bears, Titans, Bills, and Falcons) only to see the defense blow it at the end and lose the game outright. In fact, three of the four teams we whiffed on were covering the spread in the 4th quarter. Just bad luck I suppose.
This week we start with the Tennessee Titans. Thursday Night games are always tricky to predict given the short rest. Even trickier is predicting divisional matchups. However, given what the GE model predicted as well as few other things working in Tennessee's favor, we couldn't resist but select the Titans to cover the -3 spread and add them to the Big Five Bets for Week 8. Fortunately we were correct as they dominated the Jaguars en route to a 36 - 22 victory. Click here for the full pre-game analysis.
Now who will we select for the 4 other teams this week? Strangely, the other 4 teams we are going with are also the same 4 teams that Fox Sports Radio sports personality Colin Cowherd is going with (click here for his Blazing Five Picks) and is one of the reasons we have been obsessed with picking against the spread in the 5 games we feel most confident about each week. Cowherd went 4-1 last week and is 21 - 14 this season. We are 18-17 for this season so clearly we are glad that our picks are inline with someone who has done well with this kind of prognostication.
Here are the 4 other teams we like with our analysis.
Indianapolis Colts +2.5
New Orleans Saints +2.5
Arizona Cardinals +3
Atlanta Falcons -3
- The GE model has the Colts losing to the Kansas City Chiefs by 1.16 points so it's not like +2.5 is incredible value but we like the Colts for several reasons. First off, they are a home underdog and the public is betting against them. Home dogs without the public's love have done well this season with the spread (21-9) and this is in accordance with the HE formula (basically take home dogs that the public is going against). Also, Andrew Luck has performed very nicely when he is a home dog in his career. Nine times the public have not had faith in Luck winning at home since joining the Colts in 2012 and each time the Colts have covered the spread and in fact won 8 times outright (only loss was to the Patriots who seem to own the Colts). Luck also has a huge differential in QB rating and completion percentage when comparing home and away splits. We know the Colts defense is not great and the Chiefs are a solid team but the Colts defense did fine last week in Tennessee and the Chiefs are a much better team at home than away. Also, the Colts O-line seemed to protect Luck very nicely against the Titans after the Titans had 12 sacks in their previous 2 games. The Colts do allow the most QB sacks out of all 32 NFL teams unfortunately with 25 so far this year but fortunately the Chiefs are not getting after the QB by ranking dead last in QB sacks with just 8. The way we see it, we get a pretty good team at home against a team of similar quality but the Colts are getting 2.5 points. Take the points and the Colts! We will have LUCK on our side!
- We go with another home dog in the Saints. This time, the GE model really likes the home dog. The Saints are actually favored by the GE model to win by 1.09 points so there is also good value in the moneyline wager for the Saints. The public still has a man crush on the Seattle Seahawks and of course for good reason: they are one of the best teams in the NFC and have been since 2012. They just don't do as well on the road as they do at home. In the Pete Carroll era (dating back to 2010 after he avoided the turmoil at USC), the Seahawks are 40-13 at home but 24-24-1 on the road. Drew Brees, like Luck of the Colts, is pretty solid as a home dog covering most of the time and winning outright most of the time. Brees also has a favorable home-away split with his QB rating and completion percentage. Even though the Saints pass defense is not great, it's not nearly as bad as it was last year and the Seahawks aerial attack has been mediocre this season. Brees is clicking on all cylinders with the talent on his offense and we suspect the Saints will get up to an early lead and force Seattle to play catch up. We will march on with the Saints and not fight on with Pete Carroll!
- The Cardinals are an interesting team. They have a strong GE number ranking 2nd overall with the #12 offense and #2 defense. Yet, they are 3-3-1. They have feasted on the inferior teams (Bucs, Jets, 49ers) and have had trouble with the good teams (Patriots, Bills, Rams, and Seahawks). Well the Panthers are not a good team but the public seems to think they are. Yes, the Panthers have been a Super Bowl contender often in the Ron Rivera / Cam Newton era but this is a new season and we don't see the Panthers shaking off the Super Bowl hangover any time soon. The secondary for the Panthers is awful and Newton is not producing like he did last year. The Cardinals boast a strong secondary and a good pass rush. In fact, the Cardinals are near the top in the league with QB sacks. The Cardinals also were a strong road team last year going 7-1 in the regular season and we suspect they will want to get revenge for losing in the last two postseasons to the Panthers in Carolina. The GE model has the Cardinals winning this game by 7.68 points which is a HUGE differential compared to the point spread. This one is a no brainer here with value so go big with the Cardinals.
- The Falcons failed us in the 4th quarter last week and understandably so given that the Falcons are not known for defense. They rank 1st for offense based on the GE numbers but 28th in defense. They were up by 10 points against the Chargers in the 4th quarter and just couldn't put them away. So why do we have hope in Atlanta this week? Well the GE model still likes the Falcons and in fact has them winning by 6.57 points. That makes -3 good value. Plus the Packers got lucky last week by knocking Brian Hoyer out of the game. The Bears defense was gassed considering that Matt Barkley (we really hate USC!) couldn't do anything on offense which gave someone like Aaron Rodgers so many opportunities to perform surgery on the Bears. We just don't see that happening here. The Packers defense is nothing special and the Falcons have so much talent to expose the holes the Packers have in their secondary. The crowd noise can also be an issue for the Packers and if this game becomes a track meet as is expected by the GE model, we would rather put our money on Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman than the aging Jordy Nelson and the patchwork RBBC the Packers have put together. The Falcons will get back to their winning ways.
OK, there you have it! Here are our predictions for the rest of the games.
- Cincinnati -3. The GE model has them winning by 4.17 points. I expect this game in London to be a shootout and AJ Green should go off even with Josh Norman playing.
- Oakland +1. The Raiders are a funny team but so are the Bucs. This is a stay away game but we think the Raiders are a better team and they stay perfect on the road this season.
- Detroit +2.5. The Lions had the luxury of playing the last 3 games at home so it's time to hit the road. The Texans simply don't have the same defense without JJ Watt so expect Matt Stafford to have a field day in this one.
- Cleveland +3. The GE model really likes the Browns here and has them winning by 3.90 points. So why not add them to Big Five Bets given they are a home dog? Because it is CLEVELAND! Seems like the winning ways of the Cavs and Indians haven't rubbed off on the Bad News Browns. With a QB carousel in Cleveland, it's hard to trust them but we will take 3 points at home against another inferior opponent.
- Buffalo +6.5. The GE model actually has the Bills winning by 1.63 points. So why not get behind them for the Big Five Bets since they have been great at covering the spread this season? Injuries and the revenge factor, that's why. Bill Belichick has never been swept by a divisional opponent since he took over for the Patriots in 2000 and I am sure the Pats are not happy about getting shut out at home to the Bills in Week 4 when Tom Brady was still serving out his suspension for Deflategate. Also, the Bills offense is shorthanded with no LeSean McCoy and a bunch of no-names for WR. Still we think this game will be close so we will take the Bills but wouldn't be surprised if the Pats win by double digits. Kind of a stay away game.
- Denver +5.5. Another tough divisional game to figure out here and you have to think the Broncos will exact revenge against San Diego. The GE model has the Broncos winning by 7.92 points and the Broncos D is solid. Still, the Chargers have been a pleasant surprise this year even after losing three key players for the season in Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, and Jason Verrett. The Chargers 4 losses so far this season have come at a combined total of just 14 points. Still, we think the Chargers have to be a bit road weary and playing at Mile High is never easy.
- Philadelphia +4.5. The Eagles are a solid home team but haven't shown us much on the road and now they face a formidable divisional opponent in the Cowboys who are well rested after coming off a bye week. The game is also being played in an intimidating place like AT&T Stadium and is on national TV. Still, we have to stick with the Eagles since this game should be close and the Eagles are getting 4.5 points. The GE model has the Cowboys winning by 2.40 points so expect this game to come down to the wire with a game winning field goal for either team.
- Minnesota -6. This is the most chalk we will take this week. The GE model has the Vikings winning by 9.23 points so there is decent value. The Bears do get Cutler back and this game is in Chicago. Plus the city of Chicago may feel galvanized by the Cubs should they be on the verge of winning the World Series. Too may wild cards here for us to put the Vikings in the Big Five Bets but they do boast a strong defense and the Bears are simply not that good.