If you keep in close contact with me or at least have recently followed my recent Facebook and Instagram feed, you will know that life has changed dramatically for me a little more than 2 weeks ago but a good change ... our 2nd child came into the world! A beautiful and healthy baby girl! She was born right after Week 8 of the NFL. Week 8 our picks went 4-1. Since then, our record is 2-8. Coincidence? I think not! Like the Holiday Inn Express ad, NEVER underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep!
Well, I did manage to get about 5 straight hours of sleep last night so perhaps our picks will do better this week. Perhaps not. Buyer beware!
Overall our record is a dismal 22-27-1. We fully acknowledge that our overall regular season record by the end of Week 17 won't be strong even if we go on a major run the next 7 weeks. However, if we do go on a run, that still presents a great moneymaking opportunity. During past football seasons I like to use Christmas as a great motivator to bet the games wisely once we reach the 2nd half of the regular season. After all, Christmas presents are not cheap! So how will we generate enough cash to buy presents for our loved ones? With Jesus's birthday less than 6 weeks from now, here is what we will do to start building our bankroll for this holiday season (spreads based on SuperContest hosted by Westgate).
New England -3.5
Kansas City -3.5
One big home favor, three somewhat reasonable road favors, and one road dog. This is a decent blend of picks. Now for our reasons with some details about each game.
Game #1: Buffalo at Miami. Spread: Buffalo -6.5. Regression Model: Buffalo wins by 15.42 points. Probability Model: 63.04% chance Buffalo covers. The Bills are our top pick of the week based on both models. Why such a big delta and a high chance of covering the spread? Because these are still the crappy Miami Dolphins and after playing another bottom feeder in the Jets 2 weeks ago and then a Colts team without its starting QB, Miami goes back to playing a strong playoff contender. During Miami's first 4 games of the season, each opponent was a playoff team last year and three of them will most likely make the playoffs this year. Miami did not even come close to covering each of those spreads. Then the books adjusted by making Miami a historically huge underdog but the competition got softer. Miami is currently on a 5 game winning streak against the spread so now we have another adjustment ... a normal point spread. We know that the Bills have a mediocre offense but with their pass defense playing at a top 10 level and Miami's only true method of moving the football being the passing game, expect Miami to barely crack double digits. Buffalo has enough talent on offense to score at least 20 points and get us the cover. The Bills should continue their march to the NFL postseason with a W in South Beach this weekend. Prediction: Buffalo 28 - Miami 13.
Game #2: Cincinnati at Oakland. Spread: Oakland -10.5. Regression model: Oakland wins by 17.78 points. Probability model: 58.30% chance Oakland covers. Strange that just a year ago, the Raiders had no business being a favored team, let alone expected to win by double digits. What a difference a year makes! Jon Gruden was very successful when he turned around the Raiders 20 years ago and of course earned of the biggest revenge victories of all time when he took the Tampa Bay Bucs to the Promised land by beating the living crap out of the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. Some critics thought that perhaps Gruden lost his touch and probably should return to the broadcast booth after he traded away most of the top talent on his team last season in exchange for a plethora of draft picks. Plus the Kansas City Chiefs were very successful last year and it seemed poised to dominate the AFC West for the next few seasons. Here we are with 7 weeks left in the regular season and much to the delight of diehard Raiders fans, Oakland is just 1 game behind the Chiefs in the standings. The Raiders pass defense is still an abomination but the offense is clicking. Here we have the Cincinnati Bungles traveling cross country and they could be worse than Miami. After covering 2 of the first 3 games of the season, the Bungles are 1-5 against the spread since then. The opposite is true for Oakland with the Raiders failing to cover 2 of their first 3 games and now have covered 5 of their last 6 games. Clearly we have two teams heading in opposite directions. What has worked for Oakland is the run game. Raiders RB Josh Jacobs is just another former Alabama tailback having a strong start to his NFL career. According to Football Outsiders, the Raiders rank 5th overall in offense, 4th in passing offense, and 6th in rushing offense. Gruden after all is an offensive guru. The Bungles rank dead last in rush defense. Jacobs should have a field day and start him with confidence in your fantasy contests/leagues. Prediction: Oakland 35 - Cincinnati 17.
Game #3: New England at Philadelphia. Spread: New England -3.5. Regression model: New England wins by 11.53 points. Probability model: 58.70% chance New England covers. After an entertaining Monday Night Football game that featured two heavyweights slugging it out until the final second of overtime and then the disturbing end to the Thursday night game resulting in Myles Garrett indefinite suspension from the NFL, many of us have forgotten about the Patriots defensive dominance from Weeks 1 - 9. After all, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, current frontrunner for regular season MVP, ended the Patriots perfect record with a dominant 37-20 victory only to follow that up with video game like numbers against Cincinnati. Keep in mind that Brady has the hardware winning 6 Super Bowl titles with three of those championships in the last 5 seasons. Until someone gets him off the Iron Throne (see image at the top of this article), Brady is king and will make sure he reminds all of us that the Patriots are still the top dog when they travel to Philly in a matchup between the last two Super Bowl Champions. Also, keep in mind that the Patriots just had a bye week and since 2001 (the start of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era) the Patriots are 12-6 against the spread in games following a bye week. Make that 13-6 tomorrow. Just covering 3.5 points for a road game against a mediocre Eagles squad should be a walk in the park. Prediction: New England 28 - Philadelphia 16.
Game #4: Chicago at LA Rams. Spread: Chicago +6.5. Regression model: Chicago loses by 1.30 points. Probability model: 56.49% chance Chicago covers. Super Bowl hangovers are a real thing. Lose the big game, lose your mojo for the following season. The Rams started off this season well by covering their first 3 games. Since then, they are 2-3-1 against the spread with two of those covers against two inferior opponents: Falcons and Bengals. While the Bears are a fry cry from being the playoff team they were last year, they are still decent at 4-5. For most of this season, the Bears have been favored so now the books have made the right adjustment. We are getting 6.5 points so if this game stays close or even goes to OT, we cover. Both the Rams and Bears are dealing with an identity crisis and mediocrity so we will gladly take the dog here. Prediction: LA Rams 22 - Chicago 21.
Game #5: Kansas City vs LA Chargers in Mexico City. Spread: Kansas City -3.5. Regression model: Kansas City wins by 11.57 points. Probability model: 62.57% chance Kansas City covers. While the Chargers are considered the home team, this game will be played at a neutral site. Last year, the Chiefs were supposed to play in Mexico City against the Rams but due to poor field conditions at Estadio Azteca, the game took place in Hollywood which had all of the makings of a blockbuster film. That game featured probably the most offense ever in NFL history. Will we get something similar for this game? The Chiefs offense is humming again with QB Patrick Mahomes back and their defense still stinks after coughing up a 5 point lead late in their game at Tennessee last week. The Chargers are definitely a former shell of themselves from last year. A 4-6 record is nothing to write home about but each of those 6 losses were by a TD or less. Same could be said of the Chiefs 4 losses this season. One could say that both the Chiefs and Chargers are victims of some bad luck. So what happens south of the border on Monday Night Football? At high elevation, it would make sense to choose the team that is younger and faster. That would favor Mahomes and now that he is fully healthy and has all of his offensive weapons healthy, the Chiefs should have no problem covering a 3.5 spread against an aging Philip Rivers who is finally showing his age. KC has a prime opportunity to distance themselves from the Chargers. A Chiefs win puts them 3 games ahead of the Chargers with 5 games left in the regular season and helps them earn the tiebreaker. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid will make sure his squad is ready to take the reins of the AFC West. Should the Chiefs beat the Chargers in Mexico and then take care of business at home against the Raiders the following week, they should see themselves back in the postseason. Prediction: Kansas City 33 - LA Chargers 21.
There you have it. Place a small wager on the Bills in the morning, parlay the Raiders and Patriots in the afternoon, and then keep pressing your winnings on the Bears and Chiefs in the prime time evening games. With $100 wagers for the first three teams, you could turn $200 into over $1000 profit. Great way to start building your bankroll! Good luck!