Last week didn't go as well as we hoped: 1-3-1 with the push coming in the Carolina - Oakland game. The three games we missed on (MIN +2.5, MIA -7.5, BUF -7.5) all missed by a half point. This is simply the randomness of the NFL rearing its ugly head. Minnesota was up by 3 late in the game on Thanksgiving only to turn the ball over on its own side of the field and allow Detroit to kick a game winning field goal. Miami was up 31-14 in the 4th quarter yet Kaepernick decided to play like his 2012 self. The result ... a back door cover. Buffalo never had the -7.5 spread covered and really needed an incredible game from LeSean McCoy to avoid the upset.
There were key injuries to the Miami offensive line as well as the Bills passing game so the lesson learned is to pay closer to attention to the injury reports which is what we will do this week. Also, we did take too much chalk even though the GE model had the Dolphins and Bills winning by double digits.
Well, we are not giving up and we will continue to make our picks with confidence. Like the crack addicts in the Tenderloin of San Francisco, we are obsessed with football and we strive to make some money this week. Even with a baby in one arm and a puppy in another, we can still do robust research for these games!
FYI, the GE model is 96-82 against the spread for the whole season, including last night's game between Dallas and Minnesota, and this is based on the point spread for the Pigskin Pick 'Em game on ESPN.com (yours truly happens to be in 1st place in his pool and ranks in the top 3% overall!). Definitely that is good since it means the model is profitable. The issue we are experiencing is picking the best five games each week since we are 29-30-1 with the Big Five Bets based on the point spread for the Westgate Supercontest. Clearly there are opportunities to be perfect with our Big Five Bets but we will need to carefully reflect on the last 12 weeks. That means avoiding favors with point spreads that are too high, even if the GE model tends to favor those teams.
We did get off to a good start this week with Minnesota covering the spread. The GE model liked them a lot but we didn't put them in the Big Five Bets since they seem to barely cover or not cover. We don't want people taking our advice to be shitting themselves when watching these games. Instead, we want you to feel comfortable early in the game that you made a good decision by following our predictions.
Here are the five teams we are going to roll with this week (with reasons below), this time time placing more emphasis on injuries to key players and avoiding too much chalk.
Kansas City is expected to lose to Atlanta by 2.55 points so clearly the GE model believes that the Chiefs will cover the spread of +4. With Gronkowski injured and the Chiefs beating the Raiders and Broncos on the road, we believe the Chiefs are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. If they can win the division title by taking care of the Raiders and Broncos at home and continue to play balanced football like they have all year, there is no reason why this team can't be playing for the Lombardi Trophy in Houston on February 5. That all sounds great; so what does this have to do with the Chiefs game this Sunday against Atlanta? The Falcons have a very, very good offense but if the Chargers can win in Atlanta and the Packers can almost win in Atlanta, then the Chiefs can most certainly beat the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. Heck, the Chiefs won in Denver last week and that is not an easy place to win a game. The Chiefs happen to be 4-2 on the road while the Falcons are 3-2 at home and seem to have issues with putting teams away with their awfully weak defense. The Chiefs are a healthy group with key offensive weapons like Tyreke Hill and Travis Kelce leading the way in the passing game and Spencer Ware chewing up the clock in the run game. We expect this game to be a shootout with an expected point total of 52.11 points. We also expect the Chiefs to keep pace with the Falcons and this game should be just as entertaining as the Chiefs' last game against the Broncos. Expect a very close and high scoring game.
The next team we like is another AFC West team: Denver Broncos. They are favored to beat the Jaguars by 7.88 points which is 3.88 points more than the published point spread of -4. This also happens to represent the second biggest differential for the week when comparing the GE point spreads with the Westgate Supercontest point spreads. The Broncos have a top 5 defense while the Jaguars have a bottom 5 offense. In fact, the GE differential between the Broncos D and Jaguars O is over 2 which tells us that we see Jacksonville being dominated at home. The Broncos can win on the road going 3-2 this season while the Jaguars continue to lose often at home with a 1-4 record. The Jaguars only home win this year was against the Colts by 3 and of course scoring points against the Colts is way easier than scoring against the Broncos. We wouldn't be surprised if the Broncos even shut out the Jaguars with injuries to Chris Ivory, TJ Yeldon, Allen, Hurns, and Julius Thomas while the Broncos defense is 100% healthy.
Baltimore has been a funny team this year. They have a great defense but an anemic offense. This explains the 6-5 record (seems similar to the Minnesota Vikings). The GE model loves the Ravens with them beating Miami by 6.63 points. This is the next biggest differential between GE point spreads and published point spreads after the Denver - Jacksonville game so there is good value here. It is tough to take a favor against a team with a better record but the Ravens are at home and giving up 3 points is not asking for much. Plus the Dolphins have struggled lately with injuries to three of their offensive lineman. Also, it looks like Devante Parker will miss this game and that is the only true vertical threat the Dolphins have. Without the ability to stretch the field, the run game for Miami will see stacked boxes from the Ravens defensive front 7 which is probably the best defensive front 7 in the league. Expect a low scoring game where the Ravens will dictate the tempo by winning the war in the trenches.
We should know better than to take the struggling Arizona Cardinals as a favor against a hot offense like the Washington Redskins. However, this game is in Arizona where the Cardinals will continue their Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde show this season (3-2-1 at home and 1-4 on the road). The Redskins are not all that great on the road (2-2-1) and they will be missing stud tight end Jordan Reed. This bodes well for the Arizona defense which ranks #3 according to the GE model. We also know that the Redskins struggle against a good run game and the Cardinals have one of the best RBs in the league with David Johnson. The Redskins have lost twice to the Dallas Cowboys and we all know who their RB is. The Redskins also lost very badly to Pittsburgh, a game in which DeAngelo Williams went off for 143 yards on 26 carries and 2 rushing TDs. He also had 6 receptions for 28 yards. Expect a similar game from David Johnson who should carry the Cardinals to at least a 3 point victory at home. In fact, the GE model has the Cardinals winning this game by 3.16 points so covering -2.5 for Arizona at home should not be a problem. Plus the Cardinals need to win this game or they can kiss any postseason chance goodbye.
Finally, we will go with a Monday Night game. The Jets have had a season to forget but their record of 3-8 is a bit deceiving. Their last three losses have been by 5 or fewer point so this team could easily be 6-5. The Jets now get a home game on Monday Night football, something that hasn't happened since 2014. The Jets will be amped up for a home game on national TV and to be a home dog when the GE model has them winning by 0.54 points is very good value. The Colts have a terrible defense and the current Vegas line shows no respect for the Jets. I am sure Jets head coach Todd Bowles will use that as bulletin board material to rally his troops. There is enough talent with the Jets offense to expose the Colts and poor Andrew Luck still has an awful offensive line trying to protect him. TY Hilton may also miss this contest which would make the Colts offense more one-dimensional.
OK, there you have it!
Here is who we like for all other games this week.
MIN +3 (COVER!)
We will have score predictions and over-under totals by Sunday morning. Good luck!