Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Steve MerrilFOR TFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Miami vs. IndianapolisFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: MiamiFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Indianapolis is now 0-1 ATS as a favorite, and while they won another close game last Sunday, the Colts are surviving on borrowed time.  We see another good opportunity to fade the overrated Colts so shop around and get the best number on the underdog Dolphins.
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The Dolphins got a workmanlike 23-10 win last week as they were in a defensive grinder with Cleveland.  The Browns have a sneaky good defense this season so we’re willing to give Miami a pass for their minimal offensive production last week.  The Dolphins were unable to run the ball (20 yards total), but there’s a high likelihood that Miami’s running game will get going this week.  Indianapolis’ defense was gouged on the ground by the Raiders.  The Colts allowed 171 rushing yards on 33 carries.  That’s a whopping 5.2 yards per rush so Miami’s running game should produce much better numbers in this game.
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The Colts were out-played by the Raiders last Sunday and Indianapolis should have lost that game.  They were out-yarded 372-274 by a bad Oakland team with a terrible offensive line and an inexperienced quarterback.  That win and failed pointspread cover by the Colts came as no surprise as we played against the overrated Colts and took the Raiders plus the generous points in this spot last week.  Miami is now 7-2 ATS as a single digit underdog under HC Philbin.  They went 6-2 ATS in this role last season, and they won and covered as 2.5-point underdogs last week in Cleveland.  Indianapolis is now 0-1 ATS as a favorite, and while they won another close game last Sunday, the Colts are surviving on borrowed time.  We see another good opportunity to fade the overrated Colts so shop around and get the best number on the underdog Dolphins.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Sean Higgs

Washington Redskins vs. Green Bay Packers    
Play: Green Bay Packers -7

With both teams in off losses, we should expect a battle. As I look at this game a couple things jump out at me. We are going to start with the Redskins off their Monday Night Football loss. I thought that if RGIII was under center, his health wouldn’t be the question. And I don’t think it was. The problem was he looked out of sync early. Add in running back Alfred Morris’ stone-hands and the Redskins never recovered from a self-inflicted would. What really worries me is the defense. I know this was a ‘new’ offense under former Oregon HC Chip Kelly. I really did not think that a college offense would take be successful. Now, this isn’t the wildcat fad of a few years back. This is an entire system, not running direct snaps 6 times a game. The Washington defense was not up to the task. I know Philly had revenge from last year, but in a MNF home opener, I would think at least part of the team would show up.
The Green Bay Packers are also off loss. Not sure how they feel about the NFL saying the officials made a mistake that possibly cost them a shot at a win. But I can pretty much be 100% sure that they are going to come out like gang-busters here in their home opener. As the season progresses, I rarely make statements like this. But, I will do it now in week 2. If the Redskins had trouble at home with Vick, how are they going to regroup on a short week and handle Aaron Rodgers off a loss? Again, I am not from the school of what happens 1 week automatically carries over to the next. I know people will be down on the Redskins, and that the Packers are the better team and should win. This defense just allowed nearly 500 yards. They will be looking to make a statement at home that they are better than that.

My Final Thoughts –

As I write this review the Packers are being favored by less than a TD. Obviously, if you are a GB backer you will want to jump all over this number. Something tells me though that this line is going to move up and probably rather quickly. With a tough road game up next at Cincinnati, the Packers are in no position to overlook any team. Coupled with the fact that Redskins are on a short week, plus off a tough divisional game, I am going to back the GREEN BAY PACKERS at this price.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Steve Janus

Indianapolis Colts -2

No one expected the Raiders to come out an play as well as they did in Week 1. Not to say the Colts weren’t motivated for the season opener, I’m not 100% convinced that Oakland had their full attention. I don’t think they were ready to chase around Terrell Pryor, who was the only thing that kept the Raiders in that game. Pryor had 112 of the 171 yards rushing for the Raiders. Star running back Darren McFadden was held to just 48 yards on 17 attempts (2.8 ypc). Miami’s duo of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas combined for just 17 yards on 18 attempts. Even the Colts suspect run defense should be able to slow down Miami’s lackluster running game.

If you watched the Colts last year you wouldn’t be worried about their poor showing against the Raiders. This team didn’t win pretty in the majority of their games. The thing you should be focusing on is that they won the game and are now 8-1 at home with Luck as their starting quarterback. There clearly seems to be a lot of value on the Colts laying less than a field goal against a Miami team that I think is getting too much credit for beating a bad football team. Indy should be a lot more focused this week and it’s nice to see that they are 6-1 ATS following an ATS loss and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games vs a team with a winning road record.

You also have to remember that it’s difficult to win on the road and even harder to do so in back-to-back weeks, especially for a mediocre team like the Dolphins who are just hoping to make the playoffs. The fact that Miami is just 18-37 ATS in their last 55 games following an upset win as an underdog adds even more value on the home team laying just 2-points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Jamie Tursini

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks    
Play: Seattle Seahawks -2½

Here's a classic example in the line as an overreaction to Week 1. The 49ers played at home vs a Packer team that will struggle on defense all season like last. And their defense will not be as good as last year. The Seahawks clearly (believe it or not) were looking ahead to this match up and past the Panthers in Week 1. And may have let the pre-season predictions (many had them #1) get to their heads.

The Seahawks have the best home field advantage in the NFL, and at home Sunday night this place will be hopping. The number should be Seattle -4 to 4.5. But remember the books are looking for two-way even action. If that was the number, 49er money would be one-sided and rightfully so. So lay less than a FG and reap the rewards afterwards.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Chip Chirimbes

Cleveland Browns +7

The Super Bowl champs could not have asked for a better home opponent in need of their first win as the Cleveland Browns come to Baltimore. The history of these two off the field is one for the book but the Ravens have defeated the upstart Browns 10 straight time. Why am I not surprised the Browns only scored 10 points last week and then I realize they have a new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. The problem for the Ravens is that they do and will miss the dearly departed who either retired or left for greener pastures but their talent level has dropped. Look for the Browns to keep this one close.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Joseph D'Amico

Chicago Bears -5½

Minnesota plays their 2nd straight Divisional road game. QB, Christian Ponder threw 3 interceptions while the Vikes blew an 8-pt lead in week 1. The Bears were the NFL's top takeaway team a season ago and started this year with 3 more in their victory over the Bengals last week. More importantly, Chicago's OL did not allow a sack against a talented Cincy defensive front-7. I must side with Chicago here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Jim FeistFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Denver Broncos at New York GiantsFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: New York GiantsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This is one week the Broncos are happy to be on the road with all the rain and flooding in Northern Colorado. This matchup is even more special as it's Peyton Manning vs little brother Eli Manning. Is this a must win spot for the Giants? Could be, but not quite yet. If this was a division game then the stakes would be much higher. Denver is missing two of it's biggest defensive players in LB Von Miller and CB Champ Bailey. The Giants need to exploit this and score first. On defense the Giants need to pray, they are thin at linebacker and their secondary isn't much better. The only bright spot about last week's loss is that the Giants are 5-2-1 ATS their last eight games after allowing 30 points or more. Even though the line has dropped on this contest from an opener of 6 to 4 1/2, we still have two key numbers with the Giants in +3 and +4. I'm taking the points here in week two as the Giants look to correct that embarrassment from week 1.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

SPORTS WAGERSFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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CHICAGO -5½ over MinnesotaFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Vikings 10-point loss to the Lions in Week 1 was about as flattering a score and you’ll ever see to the loser. Detroit left many points on the table. They scored 40 but could have just as easily scored 57. The Lions moved at will and they scored pretty much at will as well. Minnesota’s offense is weak, its defense is weaker and once again the Vikings are on the road. Then there is the all-important QB position. Either you have a good QB or you don’t. When the bright lights are on, a quarterback is the lead singer and all the attention is on him. If he shines, he is bathed in that spotlight. If he sucks, he shields his eyes from the glare. Christian Ponder sucks. Against a weaker Detroit offense, he threw three picks, was sacked four times and fumbled once. Last season, Ponder would often have trouble reaching the century mark in passing yards, an almost unthinkable struggle in today's pass-heavy NFL. The Vikes offensive strategy; ride Peterson and keep things simple for Ponder so he doesn't make the big mistake, is one that worked to a certain degree last season but fizzled out as the year wore on and it didn’t work last week. Chances are it’s not going to work this season either.
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By contrast, Jay Cutler is a good QB that has the arm, smarts and potential to be great. Better yet - Jay Cutler was never sacked last week against a very tough Bengals defense. That speaks volumes about how much this new, shorter passing scheme can help Cutler remain healthy. He passed for 242 yards and two scores against a good Bengals secondary and was able to spread the ball around to his four main receivers. Marc Trestman has been a quarterback guru in the past this positive start sure had to make Cutler feel poised and confident out there. Cutler has a bevy of quality receivers and he also has a great one in Brandon Marshall, who went off for 8 catches and 104 yards last week. The Vikings defense not only surrendered 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns to the Lions running backs, but they were also scorched by both Joique Bell and Reggie Bush as receivers. This bodes well for Matt Forte, another weapon in the Bears arsenal.
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Peterson had nice games against the Bears last year but he was great against everyone else. He also had a freak year that will not be duplicated this season. Without his lead blocker Felton, the outlook is less cheery. The Bears shut down the Bengal's rushing effort and no doubt will load up for Peterson again. The Bengals only passing success came with A.J. Green (who has no equal on the Vikings to be sure) and that was somewhat to blame because Charles Tillman was sick and throwing up during the game and even needed an IV during halftime. Folks, we have no idea why the Vikings are getting so much credit here. They are inferior by a wide margin in every key department that includes QB, offense, defense, special teams, coaching, receivers, intangibles, momentum and of course the field on which this game will be played on.
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Cleveland +6½ over BALTIMOREFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Baltimore gets a little extra rest for this game after that Thursday night debacle in Denver but do they really deserve to be this big a choice over Cleveland? We think not. The Brownies had a difficult time against the Dolphins but that was the first game with new offensive schemes and we assure you they’ll be better prepped this week. The oddity of the opening game for Norv Turner's new offense is that he elected to run Trent Richardson only 13 times while Brandon Weeden threw 53 passes. Weeden threw for 289 yards and one score but had three interceptions and six sacks. Weeden had an off game but he’s much better than that and we now get the benefit of some extra points with the Brownies because of their poor showing against Miami. Don’t overpay to wager on the Ravens.
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The Ravens come off the biggest season opening loss by a Super Bowl champ ever. It could have been even worse than the scoreboard suggested. The problem was exactly what the fear was - the Ravens defense did take a hit with the losses of several key players and the offense was just stunted without the likes of Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. And they were facing a Denver team without Champ Bailey, Von Miller or Elvis Dumervil. Problem is, they have the same issues this week and we guarantee you that Joe Haden will be all over Torrey Smith, the Ravens only reliable receiver. Haden held Mick Wallace to one catch last week. Cleveland’s defense did an outstanding job in holding the Dolphins running game in complete check. The Brownies defense looks like it might be one of the most underrated in the league. With a depleted offense with a serious lack of talent, Baltimore is going to have problems sustaining drives and scoring points. Joe Flacco looked like the same average QB he’s always looked like and this year he has far less talent to throw to. The Ravens championship team swept the Browns last year, winning 23-16 at home and 25-15 in Cleveland. However, in both those games, Cleveland had a chance to win them outright. This season, the Ravens are worse and the Brownies are better. Additionally, the Brownies are a strong bounce back team with 10 covers in 14 tries after losing straight up. We’re calling for the upset here but will gladly scoop up these generous points.   
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ARIZONA +105 over DetroitFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This line is off. There is no way the Lions deserve to be favored in Arizona but because Detroit has more appeal after a win and racking up 40 points, they are falsely being billed as such. That Lions win last week came in Detroit against a team without a quality QB. Yet that team, the Vikings, scored 30 points despite turning it over four times while Adrian Peterson had one good run the entire game. The Lions were as sloppy as ever and they are going to find the going much more difficult in the desert. Reggie Bush went off for 191 all-purpose yards last week in his Lions debut but the chances of a repeat or anything close is remote. Again, that was against a pathetic Vikings defense. Detroit’s offense is a formidable one for sure. Matthew Stafford is among the top 4-7 QB’s in the league but these are still the Lions, a team that stumbled through a 4-12 record last year, which saw bad decisions from both the coaches and players, along with plenty of undisciplined penalties. Nothing has changed. They did the same thing last week only they played a team that made more mistakes than they did.
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St. Louis needed a 14-0 fourth quarter last week to defeat these Cardinals by three points. The Cardinals come off that close loss in St. Louis but at least the offense is looking better. With Carson Palmer at the helm, the passing game was better than any time since Kurt Warner was still there. The rushing effort was decent as well, which translates into great when you are talking about the Cardinals who have never, ever, had a formidable rushing attack. At least no one still living has ever seen it. Carson Palmer has already paid big dividends. He threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns and gave the Cardinals a good chance to win. He even made Larry Fitzgerald look like the elite receiver he really is. Palmer was sacked four times and lost a fumble but that should improve as the season progresses. The important thing is that the Cardinals finally have a quarterback and Palmer takes a step down in class when facing the Lions defense as oppose to the one they saw on the road in St. Louis. The Cardinals always play better at home and in particular on defense. They were bombed by Jared Cook last week but no other receiver gained over 41 yards and Daryl Richardson was held to only 3.0 yards per carry in his own stadium. Detroit came in here last year and was whacked 38-17. That was against a very weak Arizona team. This year’s edition of the Cardinals is so much better with a solid defense, a veteran QB with new life and an entirely new coaching staff led by HC Bruce Arians and his outstanding credentials. Wrong side favored.
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San Diego +7 over PHILADELPHIAFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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WOW, did you see that?! That was awesome! Welcome to the NFL Chip Kelly! Turn on any radio or NFL preview show and the first thing that’s talked about is that display by the Eagles on Monday Night Football. It was one of the highest rated MNF games in history and Chip Kelly and the Eagles delivered the goods by running the most 1st half plays in 53 years and running up a 26-7 halftime lead. The second half saw the Redskins make it much closer but many people are suggesting that Chip Kelly was milking the clock and the Redskins closed the gap in garbage time. Philly Chip has to learn that, unlike in college, in the NFL, you put a foot on the throat of an opponent until it quits twitchin’. In any event, it was an exciting display and it caused the Eagles stock to skyrocket in just one week.
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Week 2 lines are almost always an over or under-reaction to Week 1 results and that’s the situation here. The Redskins were ill-prepared for an offense they had never seen before. This is not college football where 95% of the players will never play football again after graduating. These are the best players in the world and if Chip Kelly thinks he’s going to “change” the game, he’s crazier than Lindsay Lohan during a bender.  It’s been tried before with Dan Fouts and the Chargers back in the 70’s and to a lesser extent with Dan Marino and the Dolphins in the 80’s. Between them, they have zero Super Bowls and Michael Vick is no Dan Fouts or Dan Marino. In fact, you can’t run an offense like Chip Kelly wants with a guy like Vick. He’s not good enough and he’s not smart enough either. With all those plays last week, Vick ended up throwing for just 204 yards and he’s a hit or two away from not finishing a game. And let’s not forget that a rusty Robert Griffin III, who did not play a single down in the preseason, threw for 329 yards and two scores on Philly’s defense.
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San Diego blew a 28-7 lead but don’t ignore that they scored 28 points on a heralded Texans defense. Philip Rivers hit eight different receivers on just 29 pass attempts. There is no way he gets to stop at only 29 passes thrown. Last week RG3 threw 49. The Chargers looked very good for nearly three quarters and they, too, were adjusting to a new coaching staff and new schemes. The Bolts are very likely to be better offensively this week against a weaker defense than the one they saw last week. The kicker here is that the Eagles played a hugely emotional game on Monday night and won. They have Andy Reid and the Chiefs coming in here for another prime time game on Thursday. In terms of situational betting, that being, the Eagles stock has soared in one week, they’re coming off a hugely emotional Monday night win, they have another prime timer up on Thursday and this number is an over-reaction to last week’s display, it doesn’t get much better than this.  Upset possibility.

Pass MLB & CFL

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Rob Vinciletti

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3½

The Bucs should be 1-0 and they know it. A bad penalty cost them the game last week and now they must make amends against a New Orleans team that held of late goal line stand taking down Atlanta last week. Division home dogs like Tampa off a road favored loss at -3 or more have been solid through the years and are covering at an 80% clip in week 2. Tampa is also 6-0 ats in the first month of the season with division revenge and they were smoked 41-0 last time they played the Saints. New Orleans has failed to cover 16 of 9 times starting in week 2 games vs teams who are winless and are 1-8 to the spread in the first month of the season as a favorite of 3 or more vs teams under.500. Look for Tampa Bay to get the cover.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Ross BenjaminFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Diego @ PhiladelphiaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: San Diego +7FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Mark me down as one of the few observers that isn't sold on the fact that Chip Kelly's offense will be a long term success at the NFL level. Of course the early returns were spectacular in their opening week road win versus Washington. However, you also witnessed how fast a team can get back in a game versus the Eagles when facing a large deficit. If Michael Vick had a hard time staying healthy running Andy Reid's offense, then he's one bad read option away from a hospital bed in this attack. The Chargers gave one away last week versus a very good Houston Texans team. They squandered a 28-7 lead in the 2nd half losing on the last play of the game 31-28. One of the positives that can be taken from that game was the fact that Philip Rivers looked very comfortable running the offense of the new coaching staff. Look for San Diego to get Antonio Gates more involved this week. This one will go right down to the wire.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

NFL Betting Picks

Kansas City Chiefs -3

It was an impressive season opener for the Chiefs, even if it was against the Jaguars. Kansas City went into Jacksonville on Sunday with a new head coach, new quarterback and new attitude after two straight losing seasons and beat the Jaguars 28-2 as 3.5 point favorites. The Chiefs led the NFL allowing just 178 yards against on defense last week, and their offense was efficient with Alex Smith going 21 for 34 for 173 yards with 2 TDs and adding 120 yards on the ground. The Cowboys also enjoyed a Week 1 victory in a wild 36-31 victory over the Giants. The Giants had six turnovers in that game, and what should worry Dallas fans a little bit is that they still won by less than a touchdown. Manning was able to throw for 450 yards and 4 TDs to go with his 3 INTs, even with the Cowboys knowing that he was going to be throwing for the most part of the second half (only 14 rush attempts the entire game). Tony Romo looked good and the Cowboys established a running game, but this week they will go into Kansas City for the Chiefs home opener in what should be a crazy atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium. When the Chiefs are a good football team they have one of the best home field advantages (in their last winning season in 2010 where they were 10-6 on the year they were 7-1 at home). The Cowboys have a trend of playing poorly after a win going 4-14 ATS in their last 18 games following a straight up victory. This is a much improved Kansas City team and I'll lay the 3 points with them at home this week as they look to start 2-0.

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Broncos vs. Giants
Pick: Over

The betting markets aren’t used to NFL totals in the mid-50’s.  And there’s a significant sentiment among sharp bettors that NFL totals this high are ‘one-way-only’ bets – they’re either taking the Under, or passing on the total.  In the modern NFL, that’s a flawed strategy, in my opinion.

Look no further than the TV games from last week.  We had five national TV games on opening weekend: Broncos – Ravens, 49ers – Packers, Giants – Cowboys, Redskins – Eagles and Chargers – Texans.  All five FLEW over the total, by 27, 15, 17, 8 and 15 points respectively – none of them were particularly close.  ‘Square’ bettors cleaned up betting Overs in those contests. ‘Sharp’ bettors took the Under in every one of those games, and lost every dollar they wagered.

Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes in the opener against Baltimore.  The Ravens don’t have an elite defense, but it’s certainly not a bottom tier unit.  Denver dominated in the trenches offensively – Manning’s jersey was relatively clean for most of the night.  And when Baltimore blitzed, the Broncos elite receiving corps was matched up in single coverage, and Manning found them for big gainers all night long.

The Giants secondary is not an elite unit, by any stretch of the imagination.  New York’s defensive strength is supposed to be up front, on the defensive line; a team that can theoretically generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing.

But that certainly wasn’t the case at Dallas in Week 1.  Cowboys QB Tony Romo took only two sacks and was pressured only six times on 51 drop-backs.  If Peyton Manning has all day to throw, Denver could approach this total all by themselves, especially now that the Giants have lost yet another key player from their secondary, with Prince Amukamara expected to sit after suffering a concussion last week!

But there’s no question that Eli can throw the deep ball every bit as well as his brother. The G-men had three 100 yard receivers in their opener (Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle), and tight end Brandon Myers had seven catches on his own.  Despite playing behind a banged up offensive line, Manning had time to find all three receivers for long gainers – this is not a ‘dink and dunk’ offense, by any stretch of the imagination.

Denver’s defense is solid, not spectacular, especially without the suspended Von Miller bringing his pass rush and the injured Champ Bailey locking down opposing receivers in the secondary.  The Ravens put together four long scoring drives (all 55+ yards) against the Broncos on opening night.

The Giants had 45 passing plays and only 14 rushes against the Cowboys. Despite playing with a huge lead for most of the second half, the Broncos had a 2:1 pass-to-run ratio themselves; a ratio that speaks volumes about the modern day NFL.  It’s a passing league these days, with long gainers in bunches and the clock stopping on every incompletion.

Both previous Manning vs. Manning matchups have gone Over the total.  Expect another Over in the latest installment of this rivalry on Sunday afternoon.

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John Ryan

Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers
Prediction: Green Bay Packers

The simulator shows a high probability that Green Bay will win this game by 10 or more points. Supporting this graded play is a proven system posting a 30-8 ATS mark for 79% winners since 1983. This system is also 8-1 ATS over the past five seasons. Play on home favorites of 3.5 to 10 points (GREEN BAY) solid team from last season that outscored opponents by 4 or more points/game and after a playing a game where 50 total points or more were scored. Simple and very profitable, but remember the accompanying research, systems, and game situations serve to reinforce the play produced by the SIMulator. Speaking of the SIM, it shows strong projections that they will gain better than 125 rushing yards and will gain more than 400 total offensive yards. In past games, Packers are 30-14 ATS since 1992 when they gain more than 125 rushing yards. They are 58-33 ATS when they gain 400 or more total offensive yards since 1992. The Packers have far too many weapons and depth on offense for Washington to contain. I also believe that James Jones will be targeted a lot more this week. Rodgers is one of the best at spreading the ball all over the field and identifying the best matchup after the snap. Take Green Bay.

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Jimmy Boyd

Kansas City Chiefs -3

In week one, the Chiefs looked nothing like the team that finished with a 2-14 record last season. The defense posted a shutout, with the only points allowed coming from a safety on a blocked punt. Offensively, Kansas City moved the ball with an efficiency that was lacking most of last season. With Alex Smith at quarterback the offense was turnover free, a welcome change after finishing -24 in the turnover margin last season.

If not for the Giants six turnovers last week, the Dallas Cowboys would be starting the season with a 0-1 record. They tried to blow the game in the final minutes, showing us that the Cowboys are nowhere near as good as the preseason hype. This week they are on the road against Kansas City, and without turnovers and home field advantage, I don't see a scenario where Dallas can win this game. In head-to-head meetings between these teams, the home team is 4-0 ATS. The Cowboys are also 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS win.

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Jack Jones

Carolina Panthers -3

The Panthers certainly had their work cut out for them last week as they were up against one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl in the Seattle Seahawks. Still, you have to like their effort despite coming up short. I was especially impressed with the defense, which I believed to be one of the most improved stop units in the league in 2013 with the additions they made this offseason.

They drafted defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short early to bolster their defensive line. Also, linebacker Jon Beason is back healthy this season, which is huge as he is the leader of this defense. He pairs well with second-year pro Luke Kuechly, who registered a league-high 164 tackles last year. Defensive ends Greg Hardy (11.0 sacks in 2012) and Charles Johnson (12.5 sacks) form one of the most underrated pass-rush tandems in the NFL. Quietly, Carolina finished 10th in the league in total defense (333.1 yards/game) last season. It will be even better in 2013.

Carolina held Seattle to just 12 points and 18 total first downs. The offense didn’t look the greatest, but Cam Newton still completed 16 of 23 passes and showed some poise by not forcing anything and avoiding any interceptions. He gave his team a chance to win against arguably the best defense in the league, and now he will be up against one of the worst defenses in football. The Bills ranked 22nd in the league in total defense (362.9 yards/game) last season and 26th in scoring defense (27.2 points/game) despite spending a lot of money on that side of the ball.

Buffalo may have played New England tough last week, but its defense was shredded for 431 total yards in what what a bigger blowout than the final score would indicate. In fact, the Bills were outgained by a total of 145 yards in the loss. The offense only managed 286 total yards, and C.J. Spiller was held to just 41 rushing yards on 17 carries, averaging 2.4 per rush.

The Panthers are 51-29 against the spread in their last 80 games after allowing 14 points or less in their last game. Carolina is 6-1 against the number in its last seven road games. The Panthers are 7-2 against the spread in their last nine games following an ATS loss. The Bills are 2-10-1 against the number in their last 13 games following an ATS win. The road team is 4-0 against the number in the last four meetings. Bet the Panthers Sunday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Doug Upstone

Buffalo Bills +3

Both teams lost after coming close to upsetting at home last week. Buffalo was a pleasant surprise while Carolina showed a lot of the same concerns offensively. This week Buffalo is at home again and has a great chance to upset at +3 to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. They should be highly motivated and the game should probably be a pickem so take the dog with the extra margin.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Nick Parsons

Giants vs. Dodgers
Play: Over 8

The Giants annihilated the Dodgers 19-3 yesterday behind 22-hits.

With a couple of confirmed "gas cans" on the bump tonight, I'm once again expecting a higher-scoring affair.

Ryan Vogelsong (3-5, 5.82 ERA)

Vogelsong was lucky to earn a no-decision for his effort vs. the Rockies on Tuesday, giving up five runs off eight hits with two walks over five innings, failing to register a strikeout.

The big right-hander has now allowed 12 combined runs over his last three starts.

Unfortunately for Vogelsong, a date vs. the hard-hitting Dodgers is likely not what the doctor ordered as the last time he faced them he gave up a ghastly seven runs over just 4 2/3's innings of work (and note that Vogelsong is a disturbing 1-2 with a pathetic 6.37 ERA on the road this year).

Edinson Volquez (9-11, 5.99 ERA)

Volquez is also coming off a no-decision vs. the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, giving up three runs off four hits with one walk over six innings.

He's now allowed seven runs over his first 11 innings of work for LA.

And unfortunately for Volquez, facing the Giants has been a disaster for him this season, already 0-1 with a ballooned 7.31 ERA in three starts vs. them (also note that the beleaguered right-hander owns a deplorable 6.47 ERA road record).

The Bottom Line

There is no love loss between these clubs and despite how hot the Dodgers have been this year, it may come as a surprise to learn that the Giants own an 8-7 edge in the season series.

After today, they'll have just one three-game set left at AT&T Park at the end of September.

I believe all signs once again point to a slug-fest. Consider a second look at the "over" in this one.

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Larry Ness

Rams at Falcons
Pick: Over

Atlanta went 13-3 last season to earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs for the second time in three years. Head coach Mike Smith and QB Matt Ryan finally earned their first postseason victory after three defeats by beating Seattle but Atlanta fell one game short of the Super Bowl by blowing a 17-point lead in a 28-24 loss to the 49ers in the conference title game, at home. The Falcons were done no favors by the NFL’s schedule makers, as they were forced to open the 20123 season at New Orleans, in Sean Payton’s return to the sidelines, after being suspended for the entire season due to “Bounty-Gate.”

The combination of Peyton and Brees entered Week 1’s showdown with Atlanta, 10-2 SU in their careers vs the Falcons and ‘escaped’ with 23-17 win, winning for the 11th time in 13 meetings. The Falcons hardly went down without a fight, as Ryan had the Falcons “knocking at the door” late in the game but Atlanta was not able to get in the end zone, despite having a 1st and goal from the New Orleans’ seven-yard-line. As for the Rams, who went a surprising 7-8-1 in Jeff Fisher’s first season (2012), they made a nice comeback at home vs the Cards, rallying from 24-13 third-quarter deficit, scoring 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points (StL won, 27-24).

Sam Bradford was 27-of-38 for 299 yards with a two TDs and just one INT in Week 1 and he had to love the play of his re-worked OL, led by FA acquisition Jake Long. "I can't say enough about those guys up front," Bradford said. "They played outstanding, and I think it shows that we've taken leaps and bounds from where we were last year." Actually, the OL improved quite a bit last year as well, as after allowing a league-worst 55 sacks in 2011, the Rams’ OL cut that number to 35 in 2012, then didn’t allow a single sack vs the Cards. In fact, the Rams have not allowed a sack in three straight games going back to LY, the first time they've achieved that feat since 1973!

An issue that St Louis may not yet have solved is what top do without RB Steven Jackson. Jackson, who set the franchise record with 10,138 rushing yards over nine seasons (including eight straight 1,000-yard years the last eight), will be on the field on Sunday, but in an Atlanta uniform. The post-Jackson era got off to a poor start in Week 1, as the Cards rushed for just 64 yards on 28 attempts (2.8 YPC). Note that Fisher’s team was an impressive 7-1 ATS as a road dog in 2012. Matt Ryan's 56 wins are the most by a quarterback in his first five seasons in NFL history and he’s got excellent WRs (White, Jones & Douglas) plus with TE Gonzalez coming back (changing his mind about retirement), the Falcons’ passing game will again be a major force. Jackson dropped an important pass late in last week’s loss but overall, his Atlanta debut was promising, as he ran for 77 yards on 11 carries plus caught five passes for 45 yards.

The Rams put up 27 points on a solid Arizona defense despite not playing all that well in Week 1 Sam Bradford has some speed with his outside receivers now plus the addition of TE Jared Cook is huge. I’ve already mentioned Atlanta’s offensive ‘weapons’ and the Falcons can score on anyone. This game features two dome teams playing in an environment in which both are capable of putting points on the board. Go OVER!

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Bruce Marshall

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Pick: Houston Texans

It's not just the buckwheat flapjacks making the folks smile at the Pancake Pantry, as Titan fans are a bit excited about a possible breakthrough win earned last week at Pittsburgh. But Jake Locker (only 125 YP vs. the Steelers) hardly posted Aaron Rodgers-like numbers in the opener. Now, Tennessee faces Gary Kubiak's Houston side, which has emitted go-with vibes all summer and has offered very good value the past few years (26-12-1 overall vs. line). Texans' Clemson rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins appears to be the perfect fit to finally provide a complement to Andre Johnson, while DE J.J. Watt & LB Brian Cushing will hurry Locker into errant throws.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, September 15

Andre Gomes

Carolina Panthers -3

Carolina played a good game last week against Seattle, especially on their defense. They stopped Marshawn Lynch very well (2.7 Y/C), but Russell Wilson was quite sharp with 23/33 C/ATT and defeated them at the end. On the Panthers' offense, Cam Newton didn't have a good passing game, while their running game worked quite well with 134 rushing yards and 5.2 Y/C! Now at Buffalo, I have no doubt that Carolina's defense will have another good performance. Buffalo's offense didn't impress me last week against New England and I expect them to struggle even more against a good defensive team such as Carolina.

So, the key for this game will be on the matchup between Carolina's offense and Buffalo's defense. New England's running game exposed once again Buffalo's poor run defense last week with 158 rushing yards and 4.5 Y/C. Carolina's running game was impressive against Seattle and now against one of the poorest run defenses of the league, I expect them to look good once again. In terms of the passing game, Buffalo's pass defense looked competent against the Patriots last week, but New England's receiving corps is so depleted right now that Tom Brady can't do a lot right now, as seen already on their week 2 game against the NY Jets as well. I believe Cam Newton should be able to have a decent passing game in here, so I believe Carolina is the better team and that they'll prove this today with a comfortable win.

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