Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Bob BalfeFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Buffalo +5.5 over SeahawksFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Seahawks have been impressive this year and who can forget the 58-0 blowout last week against the Cardinals. People want to put this team in the elite category, but they are just 2-5 on the road this year. Outside of Seattle this is another average at best football team with a rookie QB. The Seahawks also are thin at cornerback with Browner out and now his backup out. There is going to be someone who is constantly going to get picked on in that secondary. The Bills have a capable run game with CJ Spiller and I think brings Seattle back down to earth in Toronto today. Remember that the NFL is a business and the reason why they play this game in Canada is to spark interest. Maybe there will be a team in Toronto one day. The Bills need to start being more competitive in their home games at the Rodgers Centre. Take Buffalo.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Scott Delaney

I am on a 54-31-2 freebie run right now, and look to improve with a potential playoff showdown taking place in the Georgia Dome.

As much respect as I have for Matt Ryan, I'm not sold on the rest of his teammates, and that's why I cannot back his Atlanta Falcons in this game today. I like the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who currently hold a one-game lead over Washington and Dallas in the NFC East. Atlanta, on the other hand, has already clinched the NFC South title.

Now I realize the Falcons are hoping they can wrap up home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs with a win, but they also need both Green Bay and San Francisco to lose tonight. And in no way shape or form is either of that cut and dry, regardless of them playing tough opponents this week.

I see that Atlanta has lost back-to-back games only three times in Mike Smith's five years as coach, all during the 2009 season, but I'm not sure how in the hell his Falcons lost by 10 to the Panthers last week in a game Carolina dictated for the most part.

On the other hand, the Giants got revved up for this potential playoff showdown with a 52-27 rout of the New Orleans Saints, improving to 3-0 against the NFC South on the year.

And even though Atlanta has not given up more than 31 points in a game, make note the Giants have topped 40 points three times, and have surpassed 35 points two other times. I just don't know if the Falcons are ready for an Eli Manning-invasion.

The line tells me this game could go either way, which has to be surprising when looking at the records. We're talking about an 11-2 team hosting an 8-5 team. And the line is virtually a pick'em? Yes, to me a 1-point spread is a pick.

Looking at the betting numbers, these are the games the Giants thrive in, as they're on an 11-2 ATS run against winning teams, and 6-2 when taking on an NFC foe. On the other hand, the Falcons are mired in ATS slides of 2-6 against winning teams and 1-4 both overall and against the NFC.

Take the road team in this one, as I think the Giants will end up on the winning side.

3♦ N.Y. GIANTS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Chuck O'Brien

There was a point in the season where I thought the New Orleans Saints were on their way back to the top of the NFC South. They methodically clawed their way back to .500, at 5-5, following an 0-4 start. And for that brief moment, I thought the Saints were about to put their off-season doldrums behind them.

Enough with those thoughts, cause even though they're playing at home, the Saints come into this one after a 52-27 demoralizing loss to the New York Giants. It was the third straight setback for New Orleans, which at 5-8 are most certainly out of the playoff picture.

But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) are clinging to their hopes of making the NFC Playoffs as a wild card team, an can extend their chances to next week if they can pull this one out. And even though New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees torched the Bucs when New Orleans won 35-28 in Tampa Bay back on Oct. 21, I am taking my chances with the road pup in this NFC South clash.

I know the Buccaneers' defense ranks dead last against the pass, allowing a whopping 311.6 yards per game through the air, but they also rank first against the run, and that could pose a problem when the Saints look for balance.

In fact, I think the Buccaneers may be in a better position to display more balance on offense, as I love what running back Doug Martin has been doing for Tampa Bay's ground game, as he ranks second in the NFL with 1,612 yards from scrimmage (1,234 rushing, 378 receiving) and is tied for NFC lead with 10 touchdowns rushing, and how quarterback Josh Freeman has attacked this season and has already surpassed 3,000 yards in the air for a third straight season.

Tampa Bay is on a 6-1 run at the books, and has covered 20 of its last 27 on the highway. On the other hand, the Saints are mired in a 2-7 spread slide when hosting the Bucs. I'm taking the points and want you to be sure you're getting the half point on this spread, and don't be scared to buy the number up 4, if your book is already offering you a 3-1/2.

3♦ TAMPA BAY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Chris Jordan

My free pick for Sunday is going to be in the oldest rivalry in the NFL, as I take a look at the Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers, and as strange as this may sound - I love the Bears in this opportunity to score an outright win. Now I'm not going to stipulate a moneyline play here - you can do that on your own - but I will tell you to buy the half point up on Chicago and be sure to take the full +3 points in this game.

While I know a win at Soldier Field would give Green Bay the NFC North title, but take note, a victory by the Bears quite possibly would salvage their season. The Bears, who are sitting in sixth place overall in the NFC, has dropped four of five after a 7-1 start.

There are three games left on the slate, and the looming postseason. But make no bones about it - this the Bears' playoff game. Nothing else matters.

I am well aware that Green Bay has won five straight and seven of eight against Chicago, including a conference championship a couple years back. And it's no secret the Packers' defense has given quarterback Jay Cutler fits through the years. He's 1-7 with twice as many interceptions (16) as touchdowns (eight), including a game with Denver.

All that being said, I lean on the ol' everything looks too good to be true theory, and am not going to buy into the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, when I've seen them melt down in other circumstances.

Green Bay's defense is a bit dinged up, including cornerback Charles Woodson, who remains sidelined by a broken collarbone.

Besides, with everything I pointed out easily telling us Green Bay should win this game, why in the hell is the line so low? Nah, I'm not falling for it. Buy the half point up, take +3 and look for the Bears to claw themselves a cover.

4♦ CHICAGO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Matt Rivers

Sunday free play winner in the NFL on the Colts plus the generous points at Houston.

Houston is fresh off their Monday night shellacking in New England in which they allowed 42 points to be scored on them. That makes 120 points allowed their last four games. Not too good when you consider you are asking the Texans now to cover -10 points or so against the prolific Indianapolis attack.

The Colts have averaged 26 points per game over their last six, and if they can come close to that average, I doubt seriously if Houston will be able to get on top of this massive impost.

The Texans have failed four of their last seven as the favorite, while the Colts have cashed in on three of their last four when listed as the underdog.

Just enough leeway here for Indy to find an open back door and grab the money as the underdog.

2♦ INDIANAPOLIS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

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Jacksonville Jaguars + over Miami DolphinsFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Dolphins fell to 5-8 last week and after a very encouraging start to the season Miami has lost five of the last six games. The last two weeks Miami has played pretty close with elite teams however and this is still a very tough team to rush against. Jacksonville is 31st in the NFL in yards per game on both sides of the ball and the Jaguars are surprisingly the worst rushing team in the NFL. Both teams likely will be passing in this game and this could be a game that plays out as a higher scoring affair despite a very low total with two limited offensive teams. Miami has failed to cover in all three games as a favorite this season and the Dolphins will be a tough team to trust laying a full touchdown in any match-up. Only two times have the Dolphins won by more than four points and they caught a lot of breaks in both of those games. Jacksonville has played four straight competitive games. Look for a motivated Chad Henne to have a strong game against the team that dumped him and Miami is 10-33-1 ATS as a home favorite since 2003 while the Jaguars have covered in six of the last seven road games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

John Ryan

Carolina Panthers vs. San Diego Chargers    
Play; Carolina Panthers

The simulator shows a high probability that Carolina will win this game. Given projections like this from my simulator, I always like playing a combination bet using a 7.5* on the line and a 2.5* using the money line. Carolina has a long proven history when playing struggling teams. They are an impressive 25-10 ATS (+14.0 Units) when playing against a bad team winning between 25% to 40% of their games with this game taking place in the second half of the season in all games played since 1992. Chargers are immersed in a 0-7 ATS run in non-conference games over the last 2 seasons; 1-8 ATS after a playing a game where 50 total points or more were scored over the last 2 seasons. Supporting this graded play is a proven system posting a 44-15 ATS mark for 75% winners since 2006. Play on road teams where the line is +3 to -3 after 2 consecutive games where they forced 1 or less turnovers and now facing an opponent after a game where they committed 1 or less turnovers. 45% of the games played based on the criteria of this system have covered the spread by seven or more points. Cam newton has been given fewer progressions to make and it has paid off big for the Panthers as he has thrown 11 TD and just 2 picks in his last 6 games. The Chargers stunning win against the Steelers last week marked only the third game where they had no turnovers. The Chargers are doing a nice job against the run, but teams are attacking their pass defense. Opponents have run the ball just 38% of the time and now the Chargers have to defend both run and pass threats with Newton under center. using the ‘belly reads’ has made it very difficult for opposing linebackers to get enough depth in coverage and simply when they turn their back to get that depth is when newton takes off with the ball. Simple enough for the Panthers, but a true nightmare for the Charger defense. Take the Panthers.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Kelso

Eastern Kentucky at Illinois
Pick: Eastern Kentucky

It is difficult to gauge just how good Eastern Kentucky is but the fact the Colonels are 2-0 on the road says there certainly is some substance there and I am comfortable in taking the 15 ½ against an Illinois team that has remained undefeated while playing down to some of its opposition this season. While Illinois has a giant statement win at Gonzaga, 85-74, it is of note against weaker teams has played with less fire. For instance, the Fighting Illini beat Western Carolina by 8, Gardner-Webb by 1 and Hawaii by 1 in overtime. Eastern Kentucky will come to play on the big stage and has the firepower to keep it within the number all the way.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Dwayne Bryant

Jaguars +7.5

Yes, I know.  It's the Jaguars.  But Miami doesn't belong laying more than a TD against any NFL team.  They're 0-3 ATS as a favorite this season and the last time they were chalk by a TD or so, they were spanked by the Titans, 37-3.  Losing left tackle Jake Long to a triceps injury two weeks ago certainly hurts the Miami offense.

The Jags actually play much better on the road (5-1 ATS this season) and they have a travel edge here despite being the visiting team.  While the Jags only traveled about 500 miles from Jacksonville to Miami, the Dolphins had to travel across three time zones (about 4,200 miles) to come home after playing in San Francisco last Sunday.  I'm sure Jags QB Chad Henne will be plenty focused and motivated to beat his former team.  I'm grabbing the points with JACKSONVILLE, as I'm expecting a close game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Joe Gavazzi

Kansas City +4

History, fundamentals and current form combine for an underdog winner with KC. The dog has covered 11 consecutive games in this series. The Chiefs stand 8-3 SU 9-2 ATS at this series site. While KC is suffering through a 2-11 SU season, it is arguable that the Raiders season has been less successful. They are 3-10 SU ATS with a League worst -104 net AFP. They enter on a 6 games losing streak and are 1-7 ATS home recently. They feature a League worst defense allowing 31 PPG and despite the return of RB McFadden last week they ran just 16 times for 61 yards vs. Broncos. For the season they average 22 rushing attempts for 81 yards. There is little wonder they are 3-10 ATS. Chiefs at least have a prolific ground attack which averages 32 rushes for 150 yards. Against the Raiders defensive front allowing 131/4.6, they should clearly dominate overland. Combined with historical edges and Oakland's current form; it is no surprise that the Chiefs get this victory.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Jeff Scott Sports

5 UNIT PLAY

Giants +1 over ATLANTA: I feel the G-Men are ready for another late season run, They may not make it back to the SB, but they are primed to finish the season. I know that Matty Ice is dynamite at home, but The Giants have been one of the better road teams the last few years and as good as Matt Ryan has been I would rather have Eli at the end of what should be a close game. The Atlanta offense seems to be slowing down some as they have scored just 22.5 ppg in their last 4 games and a closer look shows that those 4 games were vs N. Orleans, Tampa, Carolina and Arizona, which are not some of the best defenses in the league. The Giants are  25th in the league in total defense, but Atlanta does have no running game and that should allow a strong Giant pass rush to put some heat on Ryan. The Falcons are not playing their best ball right now, while the Giants are in late season form. Look for the Giants to pull away in the 4th.

3 UNIT PLAYS

Tampa Bay/ New Orleans Over 54: This should be a fun one and should put up around the same 63 points these teams put up in their first meeting. Drew Brees has has a few bad games in a row, but he did throw for 420 yards and 4 TD's last time these teams met and he will once again be facing the worst pass defense in the league. Just how bad is the Tampa pass defense? Well they have allowed 311.6 ypg overall and 312.7 ypg, plus last week they allowed Nick Foles to complete 32 of 51 tosses for 381 yards. There is no way they slow down Brees and this offense in this one. On the other side we have a Tampa offense that has grown through the year, especially on the road where they have averaged 28.7 ppg on the year. Josh Freeman been good this year and the Tampa offense has averaged 239 ypg and 7.3 ypa, which is 7th in the league. Josh should have a good game vs a New Orleans defense that allowed 284 ypg passing on 7.9 ypa this year. Saint home games have averaged 54.8 ppg, while Tampa road games have put up 55 ppg. I feel that these teams can put up a few more than that and get this game into the 60's. KEY TREND--- The Over is 12-1 the last 13 games when Tampa Bay is off a home game.

HOUSTON -10 over Indianapolis: This is the perfect spot for a Houston blowout of the Colts. Yes they are playing on a short week but that can sometimes help a team off an embarrassing loss as they want to get right back out on the field. Also playing a familiar foe shouldn’t hurt a team that that is on a short week. Houston’s defense has struggled of late but Andrew Luck is tied for the lead in the NFL in INT’s so their vaunted pass rush should be able to pressure Andrew into some mistake. In the other side this very good Houston offense should get back on track vs a Indy defense that is 22nd overall and 23rd in points allowed (25.3 ppg). Just feel that Houston is in desperation mode and will not let this one slip away. A win here gives them the division and they will get it by at least 2 TD’s.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Harry Bondi

ST. LOUIS (-2.5) over Minnesota

For a team that went 1-1 against the mighty Niners and really should have gone 2-0, the Rams really aren't getting much respect here from the oddsmaker. The Vikings are coming off a big upset win over Black-and-Blue Division rival Chicago and have now been thrust into the unfamiliar role of chasing a playoff berth. Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher is at his best when facing one-dimensional offenses, so look for St. Louis to limit AP's production and make QB Christian Ponder try and beat him. Vikes have struggled on the road, going 1-5 ATS, while the Rams have covered 4 of 6 in the home dome and are 4-1 ATS against teams with a winning record. The price is right. Lay the short number.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 16

Erin Rynning

Detroit at Arizona
Play: Under

Something must give today when Detroit heads to the desert to face the Cardinals.  The Lions have lost five games in a row, but the Cardinals have been much worse having dropped nine straight.  However, we’ll be focusing on the total for this contest.  The Cardinals were embarrassed in grand fashion last week losing to division rival Seattle 58-0.  If there’s a unit to rebound from last week’s thumping it will be Arizona’s defense.  This is a prideful group with solid talent; keep in mind the defense slowed down the Patriots early in the campaign when very few teams have.  They’re at their best with their pass defense as well, which is a strong match-up against the Lions – cornerback Patrick Peterson will shadow Calvin Johnson.  However, their offense is entirely a different story.  The musical chairs will continue today at quarterback with rookie Ryan Lindley under center.  He’s been awful with a 42 QB rating and zero touchdowns and five interceptions.  Of course, behind this offensive line, many NFL quarterbacks would struggle mightily.  Arizona lost their back-up center last week and will shift their line once again today – sandwiched around two rookie offensive tackles.  It’s close to a college battery with quarterback/offensive line for the Cardinals.  I think the Lions will face a more uphill battle against the Cardinals defense, while their own defensive line can control Arizona’s inept offense.  Play this game UNDER the total.

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