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Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Steve Janus

Cincinnati Bengals +3

The Bengals come into this one off a 3-points overtime win at Buffalo last week, giving them yet another close call in 2013. Cincinnati had a 24-10 going into the 4th quarter, only to get outscored 14-0 in the final period. Luckily the Bengals were able to avoid a disastrous loss.

Due to the fact that Cincinnati rarely wins in a dominant fashion, it’s hard for a lot of people to back this team on week to week basis. That’s created a lot of value on the Bengals, as they are 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 games overall. The Lions on the other hand are a good team to fade off a big win. Detroit is 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games after a win by 10 or more points.

Overall it was a solid performance for Cincinnati and it actually sets them up in a promising spot to cover this week. Teams off an extremely close road win by 3 points or less, who have won 60% to 75% of their games on the season are 34-11 (75.6%) ATS with a line of +3 to -3 since 1983.

One of the promising things to take away from that Bills game was the play of quarterback Andy Dalton. After failing to throw a touchdown pass in each of his previous two games, Dalton completed 26 of 40 attempts for 337 yards and three scores. Cincinnati also had an impressive 165 yards on the ground. Given the Lions struggles defensively, the Bengals offense should be primed for a big game on Sunday. Detroit ranks 21st in the league against the pass (268.3 ypg) and 29th against the run (124.8 ypg).

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Joseph D'Amico

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers    
Play: Baltimore Ravens +3

Pittsburgh came off their skid last week to beat a very beatable New York Jets team. HC, Mike Tomlin's new methods seem to have a negative effect on his squad. At 1-4 SU and ATS, the Steelers haven't played the NFL elite yet. Things will get worse for Big Ben and company. Pittsburgh has done two things over the years to make them successful…run the ball and stop the run. Well, this season, the offense is averaging a mere 61 YPG on the ground (31st) and is allowing 114.8 YPG rushing on defense (22nd). Overall the "O" is posting a mere 17.6 PPG and as a team has been out-sacked, 19 to 5. The defense has just two takeaways through their first five games. Rival, Baltimore is 3-3 but the defending Super Bowl Champions have played far better competition and seem to be improving with each passing week. Receivers, Jones and Brown returned last week and the ground game of Rice and Pierce are starting to roll. Even OLB, Terrell Suggs (who was out most of last season) has 7 sacks. The Ravens need this game to establish themselves as contenders and quite frankly have superior personnel. The Steelers are 1-5-1 ATS their L7 games played at home while the Ravens are 6-2 ATS their L8 games played vs. the AFC.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

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NFL Pick:  Eagles

5-0-1 in NFL free picks after week 6

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Teddy Covers

Denver vs. Indianapolis
Pick: Over

The betting markets are still struggling with how to approach NFL totals in this lofty range.  Long term databases don’t have a bevy of data to consider because these totals in the mid to upper 50’s are a brand new phenomenon. 

As a result, there’s been a knee-jerk reaction, because most ‘sharp’ bettors can’t fathom betting Over 56 or 57 in an NFL game.  We’re virtually ensured that this total isn’t going to skyrocket because the wiseguys will come back on the Under if it does.

NFL totals are weakest and most vulnerable on the extreme margins.  My number for this game is in the mid-60’s, but the betting markets won’t allow that.  So, while this total is as high as it gets in the NFL, it’s simply not high enough for this particular matchup.

We all know how good this Broncos offense is.  They’ve scored at least five touchdowns in every game, averaging more than 44 per contest.  To put Denver’s 265 points in perspective, the second highest scoring offense in the NFL this year (Dallas) is averaging two TD’s less per game than the Broncos.  Peyton Manning can certainly be trusted to deliver another stellar performance on the fast track of Lucas Oil Stadium  where he played at a pro bowl level for more than a dozen years.

But the Broncos defense is clearly a problem area, even with Champ Bailey healthy again and Von Miller expected to return this week.  They’ve been picked apart by Chad Henne and Tony Romo over the past two weeks; gashed on the ground as well.

Andrew Luck and the Colts offense looked awful on Monday Night Football last week, but that’s been the exception rather than the rule.  No surprise here if the Colts trade touchdowns with the Broncos in a game that flies Over the total with relative ease -- the loser of this game could easily scores four TD’s or more!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Matt Fargo

St. Louis vs. Carolina
Pick: St. Louis

St. Louis is coming off a win at Houston last week and while the Texans basically handed that game to the Rams, I think it is a positive victory that they can build upon. That win made it two straight for St. Louis and going back to last season, it is 7-5 over its last 12 games which is pretty solid considering it took 31 games prior to that to get seven wins. The Rams are now 1-2 on the road this year but are 4-3 over their last seven games on the road so they have been able to get the job done. Going back further, they are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 true road games as underdogs and once again, I feel they are getting a number that is simply too high based on the opposition they are playing. Even though St. Louis had two defensive touchdowns last week, you have to think the offense should be able to move the ball here based on the bounce angle. Carolina meanwhile is coming off a road win as well as it hammered the Vikings 35-10. It has now won two of its last three games to move to 2-3 on the season as well as 2-3 against the number, dropping both games as a favorite which surprisingly were both on the road. Now the Panthers come in as a home favorite for the first time this season and as an inflated one at that. Going back a couple years, Carolina is 2-4 straight up in its last six games as a home favorite so not only does it not cover, it tends to lose outright on top of it. The defense has been playing exceptional as it is ranked second in scoring defense and third in total defense but it helps having played the 24th ranked schedule in the NFL. The only victories have come against teams that are a combined 1-10. on offense, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is coming off a career-high 143.4 passer rating against Minnesota but his consistency remains an issue. Why? He has never posted consecutive passer ratings of over 100 in the first six games. Additionally, he is 0-5 in his last five games following a game where he posted a passer rating of 100 or higher including a loss in Arizona after his big game against the Giants earlier this season. The Rams are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games following a win of more than 14 points and they fall into a great situation as we play on road teams after two consecutive game where they committed no turnovers. This situation is 67-32 ATS (67.7 percent) over the last 10 seasons. Meanwhile the Panthers are 1-5 ATS in their last six games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Marc Lawrence

New England vs. N.Y. Jets
Pick: N.Y. Jets

Ho hum. Another Tom Brady-led 70-yard scoring drive in the final 1:13 masked the fact that Bill Belichick’s gambling ways border on the insane. Instead, Brady again made the Hoodie look like a genius with a 17-yard touchdown strike with five seconds remaining on the clock to turn a certain loss into a win over New Orleans last week. What can the Pats do for an encore this Sunday? Only the football gods know at the moment, but our best guess it won’t as dramatic. Nor as satisfying in this division duel against an up-and-coming Jets squad hell-bent on snapping a 5-game regular season series losing skid. The Flyboys are 16-7 SU and 17-6 ATS as home dogs of 4 or less points against a division rival off a win, including a perfect 2-0 SUATS under Rex Ryan. And speaking of perfection, Ryan’s penchant as a competitive dog versus quality opposition is uncanny as he is 6-0 SUATS in his NFL career when taking less than 4 points in games against a .750 or greater foe. Tom and Bill had their turn last week. Tyrannosaurus Rex steps up to the plate this week.  We recommend a 1-unit play on the Jets.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Sam Martin

San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars

Jags looking much better offensively with the return of wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who has racked up over 300 receiving yards in his first two games back after serving a four-game suspension. We'll back the Jags this Sunday to stay close to San Diego, and we can't trust the Chargers away from home - especially after falling outright at Oakland in their last road games. San Diego in a letdown spot coming off a big win against the Colts last week and might be overlooking a winless Jags team this week. Jacksonville has scored 20 and 19 points since Blackmon returned to the field, and a similar score should be enough to earn this ATS cover.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Rob Vinciletti

Buccaneers vs. Falcons
Play: Under 43½

This game fits a nice totals system that pertains to teams like Falcons that are off a bye week and allowed 30 or more points in back to back weeks prior to the bye week. These teams have played under in 28 of 36 games. Tampa Bay has played under the total in 4 of this year. The Falcons have stayed under in 7 of the last 9 in October. The Falcons allowed 30 at home on Monday night football to the Jets and have an extra week to improve and shut down a Tampa offense that is not very good. Tampa does have a decent defense that could keep the scoring down. Look for this one to stay under the total here tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Bryan Leonard

Dallas +3

Now that the key number of 3 is starting to show it's time to jump in and back the better team in the Dallas Cowboys. When backing out games involving the two teams playing, it's clear that Dallas has played the tougher schedule. Cowboy opponents have posted a .552 winning percentage while Eagle opponents come in at .464. We are well aware that taking the points in Cowboy games the past 3+ seasons has resulted in a 37-16-1 spread mark, as Dallas always plays up or down to the competition. Dallas is also a profitable 10-6 ATS in the road dog role under Jason Garrett.

The Eagles have had just one season in which they posted a winning spread mark at home the last eight years, and they failed to cash in either of their first two home games this season. Philadelphia is on a current 4-12 spread run as home favorites.

The Cowboys are a banged up team right now which is partly the reason for this game sitting at the current line, but with Philadelphia off three straight road games the edge for the Eagles is limited. Dallas swept Philadelphia last year and have won 3 of the last 4 visits outright at Lincoln Financial Field. We feel that streak will continue.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

MTi Sports

Dallas +2.5

The Cowboys are a passing team the Eagles haven't matched up well vs similar teams.  Philadelphia is 0-9 ATS when hosting any team that has rushed the ball for 25 or fewer times per game season to date, and this includes their 33-30 loss at home to the Chargers earlier this season. 

DeSean Jackson had 6 of Foles' 22 completions last week against the Bucs and this is a negative indicator for the Eagles.  Philadelphia is 0-14 ATS since late 2010 at home off a game in which any receiver has six-plus receptions. 

Philadelphia was laying an average of 3.5 points in these 14 games, yet they are only 1-13 straight up, with their lone win by a single point.

Tony Romo has a completion percentage of better than 70% this season and a 14-to-3 TD to INT ratio.  The Eagles simply do not match up well vs similar teams.  The Eagles are 0-12 ATS when hosting a team that has a completion percentage of better than 65% and an average of fewer than 1.3 interceptions thrown per game. 

The Cowboys returned a punt for a TD last week against the Redskins and this qualifies them for a perfect play-on system that reads, "Road teams are 13-0 ATS on Sunday when they are off a win as a favorite in which they returned a punt for a TD, as long as they did not benefit from a three-plus takeaway margin as well.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Harry Bondi

WASHINGTON (pick'em) over Chicago

Although the record may not show it, the Redskins are getting better as RG III rounds himself into game shape. The second-year QB was rusty and unprepared for the season to start due to his myriad of injury problems, but after getting a bye two weeks ago he played his best game of the season last week at Dallas, despite losing a misleading 31-16 decision. Washington out-gained Dallas, 433-213, in total yards in that game and that provides us some line value this week. The Bears are just 15-21 ATS the last three seasons and have a bye next week. Since the start of last season, NFL teams are just 7-23 ATS when they have a bye the following week and are playing a team that does not have a bye on deck. Flat spot for the Bears. Must-win for the Skins. Take Washington.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Bob Balfe

Carolina Panthers -7

St. Louis got a huge win over the Texans last week on the road, but that is a struggling Texans Football Team. The Panthers play great at home and this team is starting to peak. The Rams are a very young football team and it will be very tough for them to run the football or operate against this defense. Carolina is starting to get going on offense and I think Cam Newton has a field day today as does this running game. Look for the Panthers to break this game wide open. Take Carolina.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Larry Ness

Cincinnati vs. Detroit
Pick: Over

The Bengals have been to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and while last Sunday’s 27-24 OT win at Buffalo was not the team’s best effort (Bengals’ D allowed Thad Lewis to direct two 4th-quarter TD drives to send the game into OT), the victory gives Cincinnati a 4-2 start to the 2013 season, propelling the Bengals to sole possession of first place in the AFC North for the first time since winning the 2009 division title.

Regulars are well aware that I’ve championed the Lions’ chances for improvement in 2013, right from the start. Here’s why I expected Detroit to rebound from LY’s 4-12 season. Moving the football wasn’t a problem for Detroit in 2012, as the Lions ranked third in total offense (408.8 YPC) but finishing off their drives was an issue, as the Lions averaged a modest 23.3 PPG. Consider that New England led the NFL in total offense but averaged 34.8 PPG, New Orleans was second in total offense and averaged 28.8 PPG and Denver finished fourth in total offense and averaged 30.1 PPG. One has to realize just how poorly the Detroit offense executed (when it mattered most) in 2012. Detroit’s defense wasn't bad either, as the team ranked 13th by allowing 341.1 YPG, meaning the team which finished the year outgaining foes on average by 67.7 YPG, would win just FOUR of its 16 games. The Lions were plus-67.7 YPG on the 2012 season, second-best in the NFL to Denver!

With the addition of Reggie Bush in 2013, I expected Detroit to fix the above issues. It’s NO surprise (at least to me), that in the three times in which Bush has played a full game (Weeks 1, 4 and 6) AND Calvin Johnson has also been available (he wasn’t in Week 5 vs the Packers), the Lions have scored 34, 40 and 31 points (35.0 per). Clearly, many of Detroit’s offensive problems have been corrected and let’s also note that the Lions' 13 takeaways are tied for fourth in the league, after finishing 27th with only 17 last year. The Lions have had a positive or even turnover margin in EACH of their six games this year, something they accomplished just seven times all of last season. No wonder Detroit has already matched its win-total from 2012 after just six games in 2013.

Matthew Stafford and the offense have scored 34 points off those takeaways (tied for seventh in the NF) and while Calvin Johnson has struggled with nagging injuries so far, Stafford has two new weapons this year. There is undrafted 6-7 rookie TE Joseph Fauria, who became the first TE in team history to catch three touchdown passes in a game last Sunday vs Cleveland, and 6-6 WR Kris Durham (eight catches vs Cleveland). Stafford seems poised for a big year (62.8% / 295.3 YPG / 12-4 ratio) as does Bush (376 YR / 4.8 YPC plus 20 catches for 261 yards with two TDs).

I’m NOT quite as sold on the Bengals but I will note that QB Andy Dalton did complete 26 of 40 passes for 337 yards and three TDs last week vs Buffalo (earning conference player of the week honors). Many call Cincy’s backfield of Green-Ellis and Bernard a “dynamic duo” but Green-Ellis averages a poor 3.3 YPC and Bernard a modest 4.0 YPC.

However, I get the feeling that the Lions have rediscovered their playoff form from 2011 (the team's 4-2 start has come despite playing FOUR road games already) and considering Detroit has averaged 37.0 PPG in its first two home games of 2013, should score here. The perfect conditions inside the dome at Detroit will also give Cincinnati' its chances as well. Go Over!.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Bruce Marshall

Houston vs. Kansas City
Pick: Kansas City

Other than Lem Banker's time-tested contrarian argument, it's hard to make much of a case for deteriorating Houston bunch that hasn;t covered a spread since preseason. Especially against the chemistry-rich and unbeaten Chiefs, who have Andy Reid wondering why it took him so long to get out of Philadelphia. Although the Texans might finally have a legit excuse to sit Matt Schaub (ankle), neither T.J. Yates (responsible for another Texan QB pick-six last week vs. the Rams) nor Case Keenum (who makes his first NFL start today) appear to be better alternatives for the suddenly under-fire Gary Kubiak. Will trust K.C.'s penchant for big plays on defense and special teams as we fade Houston until further notice.

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Jesse Schule

Cleveland @ Green Bay
Pick: Green Bay 1st Half

There is a lot of buzz about the Packers injury woes, with Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb the most notable players not expected to play this Sunday.

The result is that the Pack are only being asked to cover single digits against a Cleveland team that has looked awful with Brandon Weeden under center. The Browns have been blown out in all three of the games that Weeden has started this year, and he looked terrible at home last week.

Weeden was picked off twice in the loss to the Lions, and he's now thrown five interceptions, one more than he has TDs for the season. A trip to Lambeau is often a recipe for disaster for a struggling quarterback.

The Packers have been able to lean on their running game, with rookie Eddy Lacy gaining 219 yards on 46 carries the last two weeks.

Even without Cobb, I don't think Aaron Rodgers will have any trouble moving the ball at home with Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson as healthy targets.

I'm expecting this game to be a one-sided affair, with Green Bay getting in the endzone early and often.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Tony Karpinski

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins    
Play: Miami Dolphins -6½

Miami has had Buffalo's number and the Bills are using a 3rd string QB. Fueled by back-to-back defeats and aided by an extra week of preparation time, the Dolphins should continue their dominance over the Bills. Miami is 7-3 SU and ATS in its last 10 against Buffalo. The Dolphins have gone 4-1 at home during this stretch with the 4 wins coming by 9, 28, 27 and 14 points. The Dolphins are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 at home while the Bills are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 on the road. Lay the points and expect a BLOWOUT here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Jimmy Boyd

Carolina Panthers -6½

The Cardinals have turned things around recently, winning two of their last three games. While St Louis has also won two of their last three, one of those victories came against Jacksonville and the other was against a struggling Texans team forced to play with their back-up quarterback. Those victories are hardly impressive. The Rams amassed just 216 yards in the win over Houston, and 351 yards against Jacksonville, getting outgained in total yardage by their opponents in both of those games.

The Panthers defense has been tough all year, especially when playing at home. They have allowed a mere six points per game at home, and 13.6 points per game overall this season. The run defense ranks among the best in the league, and while the secondary has allowed a high completion percentage, they have not given up a lot of yardage. The offense appears to be improving with each passing week. They are coming off a 35 point performance on the road against Minnesota, and should have no problem beating up on this Rams team that has allowed 25.7 points per game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Kyle Hunter

Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs    
Play: Kansas City Chiefs -6

The Kansas City Chiefs continue to defy the odds as they roll on as one of the NFL's last unbeaten teams. The Chiefs defense is far better than they get credit for. This is a group that can really get after the quarterback. Houston has all kinds of problems right now, and I don't see this team bouncing back right away. The Texans issues are on both sides of the ball, and this team doesn't have chemistry right now. Houston loses the turnover battle every game, and that is how the Chiefs have been winning big. Kansas City is too disciplined for Houston. Take KC.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Red Dog Sports

St Louis vs. Carolina
Play: Under 42½

Carolina has 2 overs and 16 unders as a home favorite in the last 18 games while the St. Louis Rams have seen 2 overs and 16 unders before playing a division home game. The last 4 meetings have stayed under between the Rams and Panthers.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, October 20

Eddie J

San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans
Pick:  San Francisco 49ers

The (4-2)49ERS take on the (3-3)Titans. SF has turned things around outscoring their last 3 opponents 101-34. The Titans have the 29th ranked offense and things won't be easy vs an opportunistic Niners D which has created 8 turnovers in the last 2 games. The Niners have also averaged 181.7 rushing yards per game L3.

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