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I only have one Best Bet so far this week (I may add another when the line on the Atlanta at Green Bay came comes out - and I will email you with that analysis if I do have a Best Bet or Strong Opinion on that game). I haven't had many Best Bets so far in the NFL, but I am 3-1 on my 4 Best Bets so far and I will start to have more Best Bets (I usually average 3 or 4 per week). But, I'm not going to have Best Bets just to have Best Bets and you get only what I play.
San Francisco (+3 1/2) 3-Stars at +3 (-115 odds or better) or more and 2-Stars from +3 (-120 or worse) to +1.
3 Star Selection
SAN FRANCISCO 23 New England (-3.5) 17
I’ve been on the 49ers twice as Best Bets (1-1 in those) and once as a Strong Opinion (win over Detroit ) and I’m on them again this week against a Patriots’ team that is favored due to reputation rather than reality. New England was demolished 13-38 at home by the lowly Dolphins in week 3 prior to their bye week and the Pats have been out-gained 4.7 yards per play to 6.0 yppl while being out-scored by an average of 16.3 to 19.3 against a schedule that is 3.6 points easier than an average schedule. It’s no surprise that the Patriots’ offense is struggling without Tom Brady, as backup Matt Cassell has averaged just 5.0 yards per pass play despite facing teams that would allow 6.5 yppp to an average quarterback. Opponents are blitzing Cassell into submission (he’s been sacked 10 times) and the rushing attack has been just mediocre (4.0 ypr against teams that would allow 4.0 ypr to an average team). The real question is what has happened to the defense? New England has allowed 6.0 yppl to teams that would combine to average just 4.9 yppl against an average team, but those numbers are misleading given that the Patriots played decent defense in two games while getting destroyed by Miami , who averaged 8.1 yppl in their stunning win. The Patriots’ defense wasn’t really good prior to that game, as they allowed 4.9 yppl to Kansas City and New York , who would combine to average just 4.9 yppl against an average defensive team (adjusted for New England facing KC’s Croyle and Huard and not the horrendous Tyler Thigpen). If the Patriots are average at best defensively, and they haven’t shown in any game that they’re any better than that, then they’ll struggle against a good 49ers’ attack that has averaged 5.9 yppl in 4 games against teams that would allow 5.7 yppl to an average team. The Niners also have an advantage over New England ’s sub-par offense, as they’ve allowed just 5.2 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yppl against an average stop unit. The 49ers held 3 of 4 teams to 4.9 yppl or less before Drew Brees lit them up last week and Matt Cassell is no Drew Brees. Expect San Francisco to keep the Patriots around their average of 16 points. My math model using this year’s stats only favors San Francisco by 11 points in this game, but New England ’s stats have been skewed by one horrible game. However, I decided to take the Miami loss out of the equation and I still get San Francisco by 3 ½ points in this game. Of course, I’d get the Niners by about 7 points if I also took out their worst game (last week’s loss to the Saints), but I’m trying to create a best case scenario for the Patriots and the Niners by 3 ½ points is it. In addition to the line value, San Francisco applies to a very strong 99-34-4 ATS statistical match-up indicator that is 60-21-3 ATS when applying to home teams. You might think that the Patriots are due to kick some ass after losing to Miami , but the Pats are just 7-10 ATS as a favorite following a loss under coach Belichick, including 0-3 ATS after a bye week. I’ll take San Francisco in a 3-Star Best Bet at +3 points or more (-115 odds or better) and for 2-Stars from +3 (-120 odds or worse) to +1.
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Dr. Bob Opinions/Leans
BALTIMORE 17 Tennessee (-2.5) 16
The Ravens and Titans have had two of the best defensive teams in the NFL so far this season with Baltimore allowing just 3.5 yppl in 3 games and Tennessee yielding only 4.2 yppl. Baltimore’s defense has taken a couple of hits with the injuries to CB Samari Rolle and S Dawan Landry and the Ravens went from allowing just 2.7 yards per pass play in their first 2 games to given up 6.2 yppp to the Steelers on Monday night. Baltimore has a history of struggling against the pass when either Rolle or fellow CB Chris McAllister are out, but the secondary still looked decent last week and the run defense is outstanding (3.2 ypr allowed to teams that would combine to average 4.0 ypr against an average team). Tennessee won’t have any success running the football in this game, but Kerry Collins should post decent numbers by picking on backup CB Fabian Washington. Baltimore’s offense depends on the running of bruising back Le’Ron McClain (215 yards at 4.1 ypr), but the Titans are 0.6 ypr better than average at defending the run (3.8 ypr allowed to teams that would average 4.4 ypr against an average team) and Ravens’ rookie quarterback Joe Flacco (just 4.6 yards per pass play) isn’t going to have any success throwing against a very good Tennessee pass defense that’s yielded just 4.5 yppp to teams that would average 5.8 yppp against an average team. Baltimore does have an edge in special teams, but my ratings favor Tennessee by 3 ½ points. I’ll still lean with Baltimore, however, based on a 122-54-8 ATS statistical indicator and a 74-32-3 ATS statistical profile indicator that suggests the Ravens are the type of team that should cover as a home underdog.
Atlanta 0 GREEN BAY (pick) 0
I have a possible Best Bet on this game, but there is currently no line. Check back on Friday or Saturday (after the line goes up) for that analysis.
Chicago (-3.5) 26 DETROIT 19
It’s unlikely that Detroit will continue to play as poorly as they have been playing and bye weeks are usually a good tonic for ailing teams (underdogs after a bye are 40-20 ATS if they lost 3 or more consecutive games before their bye week), but I will still lean with the Bears in this game. Detroit has been out-gained by an average of 5.0 yards per play to 7.3 yppl by a mediocre schedule of teams and even significant improvement won’t be enough to win this game unless the Bears are completely flat. Chicago is still a below average offensive team (I rate them at 0.2 yppl below average), but the Bears’ defense has been very good so far in allowing 4.9 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yppl against an average team. My ratings favor Chicago by 9 ½ points in this game and the line value favoring Chicago is more significant than the favorable situation applying to Detroit.
CAROLINA (-9.5) 27 Kansas City 16
Kansas City is much better with rookie quarterback Tyler Thigpen on the bench and Damon Huard was at quarterback last week when the Chiefs upset the Broncos. Kansas City was in a very good situation last week, so don’t overreact to that one win. The Chiefs’ pass attack is still bad with Huard at quarterback, as he was 0.7 yards per pass play worse than average last season (5.5 yppp against teams that would allow 6.2 yppp to an average quarterback) and he has averaged just 5.5 yppp on 49 pass plays this season (against teams that would allow 6.8 yppp). Kansas City’s rushing attack suddenly looks pretty good (5.0 ypr) after Larry Johnson toyed with the Broncos’ defense for 198 yards last week. Overall the Chiefs are 0.5 yards per play worse than average offensively, but they’ll be up against a Panthers’ defense that’s allowed just 4.8 yppl this season to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl against an average team. Kansas City’s scoring opportunities will be limited and Carolina could easily pull away in this game with a slightly better than average attack going up against a bad KC stop unit that’s surrendered 6.2 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.3 ypppl against an average team. My math model favors Carolina by 15 points, but Kansas City applies to a very strong 55-16-2 ATS statistical profile indicator. The Chiefs also apply to a negative 19-50-1 ATS letdown situation that is based on last week’s upset win. I’ll lean with Carolina based on the line value even though the technical analysis slightly favors Kansas City.
HOUSTON 24 Indianapolis (-3.0) 23
Peyton Manning misses all of training camp and the pre-season and he hasn’t looked right the first 3 games of this season while averaging just 6.0 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 6.2 yppp to an average quarterback). The bye week should help Manning work out the kinks and I still rate the Colts’ pass attack among the league’s best, but Indy’s rushing attack has been bad (3.6 ypr) and Houston should be pretty fired up to be playing a game at home after starting the season with 3 road losses (home dogs or picks are 7-4 ATS at home after 3 consecutive road losses). I had high expectations for the Texans this season and I used them last week for a Best Bet winner in their 27-30 overtime loss as a 7 point dog. Houston’s offense finally played up to their potential last week, averaging 6.3 yards per play against the Jags, and that unit should perform well against a Colts’ defense that has had a tendency to struggle without reigning NFL Defensive MVP Bob Sanders in the lineup (he’s out 4 to 6 weeks with an injured ankle). The Colts gave up 403 yards at 5.8 yppl to the Jaguars in their first game without Sanders, which is a worse than average performance, and I think the Texans will move the ball pretty well in this game. Houston’s defense hasn’t looked good this season, allowing 5.8 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.2 yppl against an average team, so Manning could bust out with a good game if the bye week served to get his timing back. My ratings favor Houston by 1 point, so I’ll lean with the Texans plus the points.
San Diego (-6.5) 27 MIAMI 21
The Chargers were lucky to get the spread win last week as a road favorite at Oakland, as they scored their final touchdown while trying to run out the clock after being down 0-15 at the half. The Chargers were in a bad situation last week and this week they face a Dolphins team that applies to a 38-8-3 ATS momentum situation and a 23-3 ATS home underdog off a bye angle. Miami destroyed New England 38-13 prior to their bye week and the Dolphins aren’t a bad team. Miami has a pretty good offense with a better than average rushing attack (4.4 ypr against teams that would allow 4.3 ypr to an average team) and a decent quarterback in Chad Pennington, who lit up the Patriots with 17 of 20 passing for 226 yards. Miami played great defensively against the Patriots, allowing just 3.7 yards per play, but they were exploited by Kurt Warner and the Cardinals for 7.8 yppl in week 2, so it’s tough to say how that unit will play today. San Diego’s explosive offense has averaged 6.4 yppl against teams that would combine to allow 5.2 yppl to an average team and the Chargers should move the ball at their normal pace in this game (although I do think Philip Rivers will have a tough time keeping up the 8.5 yards per pass play average). Miami is certainly capable of keeping this game close against a mediocre Chargers’ defense that’s allowed 5.5 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl against an average team (they miss Shawne Merriman). My ratings favor San Diego by 7 ½ points and using this year’s games only would result in a prediction of Chargers by 12 points. San Diego does apply to an 84-41-4 ATS situation, but that angle isn’t as good as the situational analysis that favors Miami. This game is tough to call with the line value favoring San Diego and the technical analysis favoring Miami.
PHILADELPHIA (-6.0) 21 Washington 12
Washington looked confused by their new offense in their opening 7-16 loss to the Giants, but the Redskins appear to have figured out the new attack and have won 3 straight games, including their upset win in Dallas last week. That win was no fluke, as the Redskins have established themselves as one of the best teams in the league. Washington is now 0.4 yards per play better than average on offense (5.6 yppl against teams that would allow 5.2 yppl) and they’ve only turned the ball over 1 time in 4 games. That good fortune isn’t likely to last but Washington can rely on their underrated defense is they start to turn the ball over more. Washington has allowed a modest 5.4 yppl this season, but they’ve done so by holding 4 very good offensive teams (NYG, New Orleans, Arizona, and Dallas) to 1.0 yppl below the 6.4 yppl that those teams would combine to average against an average defensive team. The pass defense has been especially impressive in holding Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, and Tony Romo to just 5.9 yards per pass play. Donovan McNabb has above average passing numbers (6.6 yppp against teams that would allow 6.0 yppp to an average quarterback), but he’ll probably struggle some too against the Redskins great pass defense. Philly’s rushing attack has been bad (3.8 ypr) and star RB Brian Westbrook will miss his second straight game this week. Westbrook’s absence actually doesn’t make the offense any worse, as he was averaging just 3.8 ypr this season while good backup Correll Buckhalter has averaged 4.1 ypr and 4.4 ypr for his career. While Philly rates at 0.3 yppl better than average offensively, their defense is what makes the Eagles a Super Bowl contender, as they’ve allowed just 4.5 yppl to teams that would average 5.6 yppl against an average stop unit. These are two of the top teams in the NFL and my math favors Philly by just 4 points, which is too bad because the Redskins apply to a negative 1-17-1 ATS subset of a 14-45-2 ATS letdown situation that is based on their win as a big dog last week. I’ll favor Philly to cover based on that situation despite the negative line value.
NY GIANTS (-7.0) 26 Seattle 16
Seattle has been a below average team so far this season, but the Seahawks get some much needed help on offense with the addition of starting wide receivers Bobby Engram and Deion Branch, who have yet to play this season and have both been upgraded to probable for this game. Seattle has had to scramble to find receivers to fill their roster with Engram and Branch out and with Nate Burleson getting injured in the first game of the season. Only Billy McMullen has been good (7 catches for 124 yards on 15 passes thrown to him in 2 games) and the wide receivers have combined to average just 5.3 yards per pass attempted, which is a horrible figure for wide receivers. Bobby Engram has consistently averaged 8.3 ypa in recent years and Branch has an average of 7.5 ypa in two seasons with Seattle. Throwing those two in with McMullen should put Matt Hasselbeck at around 8.0 ypa to his wide receivers, which would result in going from 4.9 yards per pass play that Hasselbeck is at now to 6.2 yppp, which is his career average. Seattle has a good rushing attack (4.9 ypr against teams that would allow 4.6 ypr) and the Seahawks are suddenly an average offensive team after rating at 0.6 yards per play worse than average through 3 games. Seattle won’t likely have too much success in this game against a very good Giants’ defense that has been 0.9 yppl better than average (4.3 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.2 yppl against an average team). Seattle’s defense has been mysteriously mediocre so far this season, allowing 5.2 yppl to a schedule of teams that would average 5.2 yppl, and that unit is up against a good Giants’ attack that has averaged 6.2 yppl (against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average attack). The suspension of Plaxico Burress hurts the attack, as Burress has gained 259 yards on 28 passes thrown to him (9.3 ypa) while the other receivers Smith, Toomer, and Hixon have combined for an average of just 6.9 ypa. After making all the adjustments I still get New York by 11 points mathematically. Seattle applies to a very good 38-8-3 ATS underdog momentum situation, but New York applies to a 64-29-4 ATS statistical profile indicator. I’ll lean with the Giants.
DENVER (-3.0) 27 Tampa Bay 26
Denver has been fantastic offensively this season (6.7 yards per play against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average team), but the Broncos can’t stop their opponents from being just as effective (they’ve also allowed 6.7 yppl – to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yppl against an average team). The visiting Buccaneers are nothing special offensively overall (5.3 yppl against teams that would allow 5.2 yppl), but Earnest Graham (334 yards at 5.9 ypr) and Warrick Dunn (197 yards at 4.7 ypr) should be able to run wild against a Broncos defensive front that’s allowed 5.0 ypr to teams that would combine to average just 4.2 ypr against an average team. Tampa Bay represents the best defensive team that the Broncos have faced so far (the Bucs are 0.4 yppl better than average), but Denver should still be able to put up enough points to keep up with what their defense allows. My math model favors Denver by 1 ½ points and there are indicators favoring both sides in this game, so I’ll lean with Tampa Bay plus the points.
New England (-3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
This game is part of Dr Bob's Best Bets package, which includes all of Dr. Bob's Best Bets, Strong Opinions and other withheld games. For the analysis of this game and all the Bets and Strong Opinions for this week click here
DALLAS (-17.0) 33 Cincinnati 13
Cincinnati is now 0-4 after losing to the previously winless Browns last week and they will once again be without quarterback Carson Palmer, who was a game time decision to sit out last week’s game. Ryan Fitzpatrick was horrible, averaging just 3.7 yards per pass play against a Cleveland secondary that had been having problems defending the pass. Fitzgerald has averaged 4.8 yppp on 182 career pass plays and he’s also thrown 11 interceptions, which is a lot of picks for so few passes (he threw 3 last week). The Cowboys may not be in a sympathetic mood for the winless Bengals after getting upset by the Redskins last week and my math model favors Dallas by 20 points in this game.
ARIZONA (-1.0) 23 Buffalo 19
The Bills may be 4-0, but they’ve played a pretty easy schedule with just one decent opponent (a 20-16 win at Jacksonville) and they rate as below average from the line of scrimmage. Buffalo has averaged a modest 5.3 yppl this season against teams that would combine to allow 5.6 yppl to an average team and the Bills are just barely better than average defensively (4.7 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 4.9 yppl against an average defensive unit). Buffalo annually has the NFL’s best special teams and they rank highly in that area again this season, so they are an above average team overall. Arizona, however, is also an above average team, as the Cardinals have been 1.0 yppl better than average offensively (5.9 yppl against teams that would combine to allow just 4.9 yppl to an average team) and only 0.1 yppl worse than average on defense (5.4 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.3 yppl against an average team). Arizona’s offense takes a hit with the injury to star WR Anquan Boldin, who had amassed 366 yards on 35 passes thrown to him this season (10.5 ypa). Kurt Warner still has Larry Fitzgerald to throw to (10.4 ypa on 40 passes thrown to him), but the two receivers replacing Boldin combine to average 8.1 ypa so there will be a drop in production from the pass attack – although it will still be good. My math favors Arizona by 3 points after adjusting for the losses of Boldin and DL Bertrand Berry, who had 3 sacks in 3 games before getting hurt. Arizona applies to a 31-6 ATS bounce-back situation while Buffalo applies to an 84-41-4 ATS situation. The line value favors the Cardinals, and the angle favoring them is a bit stronger than the situation favoring Buffalo. I’ll lean with Arizona to hand the Bills their first loss.
JACKSONVILLE (-4.0) 20 Pittsburgh 17
Jacksonville applies to a 46-11-4 ATS subset of a 122-54-8 ATS statistical indicator in addition to applying to a solid 240-152-12 ATS statistical profile indicator. While those angles are worthy of a play on the Jaguars, my math model suggest a play on the Steelers. Pittsburgh may be thin at running back, but losing Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall isn’t such a problem considering those two were averaging a combined 3.8 ypr this season. New starting back Mewelde Moore has a 4.8 ypr career average (although mostly in the advantageous role of 3rd down back) and he is a much better pass catcher, so having Moore get more snaps may help the offense. Pittsburgh will certainly probably throw the ball more and that is a good thing in this game considering how bad the Jaguars’ pass defense has been (7.4 yards per pass play allowed to teams that would combine to average 6.0 yppp against an average team). Overall the Jags have been 0.7 yppl worse than average defensively, which is only slightly better than Pittsburgh’s offensive rating of -0.8 yppl. Where the Steelers have the advantage is their stifling defense (3.8 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.2 yppl against an average team) against a Jaguars’ attack that has averaged just 5.0 yppl in 4 games against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average team. Jacksonville is actually better than that offensively, as their patchwork offensive line struggled in the first two games with 3 new starters. The line has come together in recent games and Jacksonville has been 0.2 yppl better than average offensively over their last two games, which is about what I expect from them going forward. However, my math model favors Pittsburgh by 1 point even if I only use Jacksonville’s better offensive stats from their last two games. The line is too high and I’ll lean slightly with Pittsburgh even though the technical analysis strongly favors Jacksonville.
NEW ORLEANS (-3.0) 27 Minnesota 23
Drew Brees is playing at an incredible level, as he’s averaged 8.8 yards per pass play against a schedule of teams that would combine to allow just 5.7 yppp to an average quarterback. It may be tough for Brees to maintain that high level of play, but he should post good numbers against a Vikings’ defense that is once again very good defending the run (3.1 ypr allowed) but every mediocre against the pass (6.2 yppp allowed to teams that would combine to average 6.2 yppp against an average defense). Minnesota’s offense has been better since Gus Frerotte was inserted at quarterback in week 3, as the Vikings have averaged 5.0 yards per play the last two games against good defensive teams Carolina and Tennessee, who would combine to allow just 4.6 yppl to an average team. I expect Adrian Peterson to have a big game running against a soft Saints’ defensive front that’s allowed 5.4 ypr this season (to teams that would average 4.5 ypr against an average defensive team). New Orleans has been average in pass defense, but Frerotte has been better than average in his two games, throwing for 5.8 yppp against teams that would allow just 5.2 yppp to an average quarterback. My math model favors New Orleans by 6 points and the Saints apply to a very good 61-21-2 ATS Monday night situation. Minnesota, however, applies to a 55-16-2 ATS statistical match-up indicator and a 56-16-5 ATS game 5 angle. Tough call here, but I’ll lean slightly with New Orleans.
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8* NFL TOTAL OF THE WEEK
Cincinnati Bengals vs Dallas Cowboys on 10/05/2008 at 1:15PM
Conditions: 70 degrees with light winds swirling inside the mostly enclosed venue It was just a matter of time before the Cowboys experienced the bad "T.O Factor" and their first bit of adversity in 2008. After sleepwalking through a 26-24 loss to the Washington Redskins Sunday afternoon, the Boyz received their quarterly wakeup call. The call that nearly all NFL teams receive. Ask the Broncos? Dallas was admiring themselves far too much heading into last week's divisional matchup against Washington -- that all changed their home loss to the hated Skins.
Bengals' defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who spent 10-plus years with the Cowboys as an assistant coach and coordinator and is now the Bengals' DC. He knows the subtle weaknesses of Tony Romo and will force his hand early on in this game. Expect the Bengals to give up everything underneath on Sunday afternoon, but eventually realize that Romo has grown enough to exploit the soft holes in their zones.
We expect zero man coverage from the Bengals, little to no blitzing and a ton of exotic looks. If Cincy had an ounce of talent on the stop-side of the football we'd consider giving them a chance and jump head first on the 17-points Dallas is giving up. Romo is careless, that's his gunslinger mentality, and he'll give the Bengals more than one short field on Sunday.
The winless Bengals are a mess; and with or without Carson Palmer this game is all about offense, big plays by both defenses and a lot of points as a result. With Palmer under center the two teams will combine to cross the 60-point mark, without him the contest still topples 50 in total points. There's no guarantee Palmer will play (TP sources report he will throw on Thursday, practice on Friday and start Sunday), but the Cowboys are the real story here. They will be more balanced in their play calling and shred a piss pour Cincy defense. Dallas can throw four capable receivers at the Bengals defense and Cincinnati has no matchup answer for TE Jason Witten.
However, Dallas' pass defense is suspect, and no matter who is tossing the football to Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh -- this is the strongest total on the Week 5 card.
Once Palmer is announced as the starter for Sunday's game, the total in this game will creep upward. Get down on the current 44 mark now.
The OVER is 6-1 in Bengals last 7 games after accumulating less than 150 yards passing in their previous game.
The OVER is 5-1 in Cowboys last 6 games after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game and is 4-1 in Cowboys last 5 games in October.
Cowboys score at least 35 points Sunday making this a Big Game OVER the TOTAL play.
8 UNIT Play on the OVER
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Washington Redskins vs Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia and Washington have made it a habit of going under, turning the trick in 20 of the past 31 meetings. The trend that grabbed my attention is the one that reveals the Skins going under in 19 of 23 games on the road versus good defensive teams--allowing less than 285 yards per game since '92. The Eagles have slipped under in 12 of 15 as favorites of 3 1/2 to 9 1/2 and in 24 of their last 31 at home in October.
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20 Unit NFL TOTAL OF THE WEEK** (76% Overall this NFL Season)
New England Patriots vs San Francisco 49ers on 10/05/2008 at 1:15PM
This pick falls into one of my top NFL systems and both of these teams are solid defensively. New England's defense has allowed just 19.3 ppg this season and 10 points in their only road game while the 49ers defense has allowed just 262.5 ypg at home this season and 18 ppg. The O/U is 1-5 for the 49ers in their last 6 games as a home dog of 3 points or less and the Patriots offense has struggled without Tom Brady this season averaging just 16.3 ppg. The O/U is 1-5 for the 49ers in their last 6 home games and their offense will not be able to get much done against the Patriots veteran defense. The O/U is 5-11 for the Patriots in their last 16 games as a road favorite of 3 points or less and I look for an offensive struggle by both of these teams Sunday afternoon. Take the Under as my NFL Total of the Week and make sure you get on my NFL Smash of the Year which I have winning hands down Sunday as my 76% season run continues.
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DEN / TAM Over 48.0
Analysis: The Denver Broncos have gone 'over' in all four of their matchups this season. It's not a fluke. The Broncos can't stop anybody, allowing an average of 34.3 points in their last three games, while averaging nearly 34 points.
The Broncos have one of the worst defensive fronts in the NFL. Their linebackers are below average, too. In addition, cornerback Dre Bly has slowed up considerably. Tampa Bay can attack this. The Buccaneers don't have great skill position players, but they have a very sharp offensive-minded coach in Jon Gruden. He'll have veteran Brian Griese probe Denver's many weak spots. Earnest Graham is an underrated running back and veteran Warrick Dunn can be effective, too, versus this defense. The Buccaneers have gone 'over' in eight of their last 10 games.
Tampa Bay's defense is good, but small. It's not a dominant unit. Jay Cutler certainly can pass on the Buccaneers. Brandon Marshall may be the best wide receiver in the AFC right now. Denver has gone 'over' in 14 of its past 17 home games. The Broncos also have gone 'over' 81 percent of the time during their last 27 games on grass. The Broncos also are 11-1 to the 'over' following a loss.
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JAC -4.0 vs PIT
This game is an absolute gift at this price - considering that Jacksonville has been pretty much the only NFL team to enjoy success against Pittsburgh over the past 10 years.
It's even more of a gift considering that Pittsburgh is coming off TWO highly physical games in back-to-back weeks (Philadelphia/Baltimore)....so physical - that both of its top running backs are banged up (one for the year).
This means Ben Roethlisberger is going to have to throw behind an offensive line that - to put it lightly - doesn't have a prayer this Sunday with the recent injury to guard Kendall Simmons.
When Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has to throw the ball more than 20 times a game - the Steelers are a terrible 1-7 ATS in the last eight situations.
Jacksonville picks up a BIG VICTORY to keep them from going under .500 (a huge factor in the NFL) and moves the Pittsburgh Steelers to 0-15 ATS in their last 15 road defeats. They've failed to cover the previous 14 by more than 11 points!
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Jack Clayton Guaranteed Selections
5* Chargers at Dolphins
I'm not sold that the Dolphins have turned things around after one stunning blowout win at New England. This is still a young, rebuilding team with a lot of holes and inexperience. The Chargers were not impressed with the way they beat New England, with trick plays and overshifts on the offensive line. "Gimmicky," cornerback Quentin Jammer said. The Chargers have spent time each day this week preparing to face the Miami Dolphins and their highly successful version of the single-wing offense. The Dolphins call it the "Wildcat" offense, and they scored four touchdowns in six snaps against the Patriots. The key in this game is the Chargers versatile, wide open offense against a weak Miami 'D'. This offense is No. 8 in the NFL and scoring a ton of points through the air and the ground. The Chargers are 13-4 SU/ATS as a favorite under Norv Turner. Miami doesn't have strong wideouts and and QB Chad Pennington has just 2 TDs, one pick in 3 games. They won at New England with the ground game, but the Chargers have a speedy secondary and can focus all their defensive effort in stopping the run and blitzing, something they did a lot of in the second half last week at Oakland. The Dolphins are 1-7 SU/ATS their last 8 in Miami. Play the Chargers.
3* Chargers/Dolphins Over
Both defenses are ranked in the bottom half of the NFL, with the Chargers at 28th. The defense gave up 26 points to Carolina and 39 at Denver. At least the offense is loaded, ranked 8th in the NFL, with a great offensive line, plus QB Philip Rivers has 10 TDs and 4 picks, alongside RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. They toasted the Jets in a 48-29 rout. Miami has defensive deficiencies that can be exploited by an good offensive mind like Norv Turner. Miami's offense is much better this season, with a stronger offensive line, a capable, veteran QB in Chad Pennington, plus RB Ronnie Brown. The Dolphins are 17th in total defense with a very young unit. Look for a lot of scoring, play the Chargers/Dolphins over the total
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At 4:15 pm, our selection is on the SF 49ers plus the points over New England. Without Tom Brady, the Patriots' vaunted offensive attack has sputtered. As evidence, consider that, at this time last year, WR Randy Moss had 22 catches for 403 yards and 5 touchdowns. But since QB Matt Cassel took over, Moss has only nine catches for 111 yards. Perhaps we should not be surprised that New England has fallen on hard times. After all, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Giants last year, and for the last eight years, the loser of the Super Bowl has struggled mightily the following season. I'm not one to believe in jinxes, but it's worth noting that the only Super Bowl loser to return to the Playoffs over the past 8 seasons was Seattle in 2006 (notwithstanding the face that the Seahawks posted four less wins that year). Also, dating back to 1986, .400 (or better) Super Bowl runners-up are an awful 0-18 ATS as road favorites of -4 or less (or pk) against non-division foes! Finally, .400 to .799 home dogs of +2.5 to +10.5 points are a super 39-10 ATS vs. foes off an ATS loss as a favorite of more than 10 points. With New England off a 38-13 loss as a 13-point favorite vs. Miami, we'll fade the Patriots and take San Francisco on this Sunday.
At 4:15 pm, our selection is on the Arizona Cardinals over Buffalo. Last week, Arizona was blitzed by Brett Favre and the Jets 56-35, but off that embarassing loss, fall into a super 26-0 ATS system of mine. For this game against Buffalo, Arizona has been installed as a favorite of a point, but since 1980, .181 (or better) NFL home teams are 26-0 ATS if they are not favored by more than 3 points; they lost their previous game, and surrendered 38 or more points in the process; and they are matched up against a .290 (or better) opponent which scored 28 or more in a win of more than 11 points in its previous game. With Buffalo off a 35-14 blowout of St. Louis, this Cardinals/Bills game perfectly qualifies in our 26-0 ATS system. The Cardinals opened the season with back-to-back wins, but have dropped their last two games to fall to 2-2 on the year. But since 1990, Arizona is a sparkling 40-18 ATS at home off 2+ losses, including 26-3 ATS when priced from -5.5 to +5 points. System Game of the Month on the Cardinals.
At 4:15 pm, our selection is on the Arizona Cardinals over Buffalo. Last week, Arizona was blitzed by Brett Favre and the Jets 56-35, but off that embarassing loss, fall into a super 26-0 ATS system of mine. For this game against Buffalo, Arizona has been installed as a favorite of a point, but since 1980, .181 (or better) NFL home teams are 26-0 ATS if they are not favored by more than 3 points; they lost their previous game, and surrendered 38 or more points in the process; and they are matched up against a .290 (or better) opponent which scored 28 or more in a win of more than 11 points in its previous game. With Buffalo off a 35-14 blowout of St. Louis, this Cardinals/Bills game perfectly qualifies in our 26-0 ATS system. The Cardinals opened the season with back-to-back wins, but have dropped their last two games to fall to 2-2 on the year. But since 1990, Arizona is a sparkling 40-18 ATS at home off 2+ losses, including 26-3 ATS when priced from -5.5 to +5 points. Take the Cardinals
Opinions Niners & Seattle
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Chicago Bears / Detroit Lions
I know that going on a team that went so awful in the first three games looks strange, after all the Lions lost all three games by a mile and their defense is dead last in the rankings with 430.2 yards/game allowed.
After those dismal performances the Lions enjoyed a much needed bye week and this factor could be very important. Bye weeks are bad for teams that are enjoying a winning streak and the momentum could easily disappear, but on the other side, if a team is playing poorly a bye week is the best that could happen because the team will have more time to fix some errors.
That is the case of the Lions on this game: their defense looked dreadful in the first three games and an extra week to prepare this game is an important fact, meanwhile the team is already competent on the offense. The Lions have talented receiving tandem of Calvin Johnson (6-5, 239 pounds) and Roy Williams (6-3, 211), who creates matchup issues for every defense.
And the matchup is extremely favorable to the Lions, I remember that both the Bears' starting cornerbacks are possibly sidelined -- Charles Tillman (shoulder) and Nathan Vasher are questionable for this game and both missed several practices this week.
I read an interesting interview with Lions head coach Colleto who said the following:
"The philosophy hasn't changed," Colletto said Thursday. "We've just got to get on top a little bit quicker, do something sooner. We can't play the run-run-pass, run-run-pass -- we're not gonna do that. And we haven't, really, because of the score situation."
"But we just want to be a little more aggressive."
"We've got to manufacture more points faster," Colletto said. "We'll probably play a few more receivers in the game a little more often than we've been doing.
So I'm expecting that the Lions explore the secondary unit problems of the Bears and took advantage of them.
Meanwhile the Bears' offense is having some problems as their passing leader Brandon Lloyd is out for this game. I remember that Lloyd in 4 games had 249 yards for 15 catches (16.6 avg) and without him, the Bears will miss the most important weapon to explore the worst passing defense of the league until now.
Their only reliable offensive weapon is RB Matt Forte, who is coming from a very physical and exhausting game last week against the Eagles, where he was both the rushing leader (19 carries for 43 yards) and the passing leader (5 catches for 42 yards) for the Bears, so is normal that he somehow might disappear in this game, because of the effort last week was so big that it's almost impossible to carry on with so much effort made it.
I think the Lions are a valuable home dog in this game, they are 4-0 ATS after a bye week and this bye week was a bless for them, note also that they are 19-7 ATS after 3 or more consecutive losses against the spread since 1992 and I expect the Lions to be competitive in here so I'm taking the Lions in this game.
PLAY 1* UNIT ON DETROIT LIONS +3
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4* Arizona -1.5
Buffalo is the better team but I like this setup. Arizona is off a bad loss to the Jets where they fell behind big in the 1st half and couldn't catch up. Their division is wide open and they have enough offense to play hard and bounce back at home. Buffalo is playing well but they aren't special. The last 2 weeks they've been shaky, nipping Oakland late and trailing for quite awhile vs the hapless Rams. Some teams have a hard time mentally to deal with success and the way their past 2 games have gone they seem that way. Byes next week (Buffalo) can be a big red flag and sitting at 4-0 I don't see them matching Arizona's intensity in a non-conference game. One last thing. Well over 60% of the wagers have come in on Buffalo but Arizona has moved from a pick to a small favorite. Seen this movie before, smart money is on Arizona, public is on the 4-0 "red-hot" Bills. Take Arizona -1.5 for a 4* Regular Play.