Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

BRAD WILTON

Break up the Jaguars!

After losing their first 8 games to start the year, Jacksonville has picked up wins and covers in 2 of their last 3 games, and I will side with them plus the points in their game this Sunday at Cleveland.

Who are the Browns to be laying points to anyone right now?

Cleveland has lost their last pair, and 5 of their last 6 games straight up, and the Browns are just 1-2 when installed as the home favorite this year. Overall, Cleveland is just 3-8-1 their last dozen as the home favorite.

Real chance for the Jags to notch another win, so my recommendation is to take the points with Jacksonville, as Cleveland drops to 3-9-1 their last 13 when listed as the home chalk.

3* JACKSONVILLE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Chris Jordan

I'm playing on the Chicago Bears against the Minnesota Vikings - the second week in a row I'm playing against the Purple People Eaters. Last week we had to lay the points with Green Bay, this week the Vikings are favored and I believe that's a gift with the Bears.

I'm not too worried about Minnesota and its Hall of Fame running back, Adrian Peterson, who has been dealing with a sore groin and has been very cautious throughout the week. While he ranks second in the league with 997 yards rushing, he's also been limited for three weeks with this injury and was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. AP-All Day has been playing through hamstring and groin injuries throughout the season.

The Bears still have plenty to play for, and given they've already beaten Minnesota once this year, I think they'll have enough confdence to sweep the season series when they take the field today.

Yes, the Vikings have won eight of their last 10 against the Bears at the Metrodome, but this year the Bears are the better football team. They have the No. 8 offense in the league, led by the seventh-best passng game. Sure, Chicago's revolving door on the quarterback position will swing open for Josh McCown once again, but he's starting to find a groove.

Filling in for injured starter Jay Cutler, McCown has completed 97 of 148 passes for 1,106 yards with seven touchdowns versus just one interception. He has a 100.8 passer rating and ranks seventh in the league overall, among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts.

Chicago may have a makeshift lineup, but its playing well and continues to keep its eye on the postseason. Lay the number.

3♦ CHICAGO BEARS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Jeff Benton

Sunday freebie is the New England Patriots over the Houston Texans.

Wow! After starting the year 2-0, Houston has proceeded to lose their last 9 games, including an outright loss to lowly Jacksonville last weekend at Reliant Stadium. The Texans are now a money-burning 1-9-1 against the spread in their 11 games this season, and I want no parts of them in the home underdog role against a Patriots team that is flying-high after their comeback from 24-0 last Sunday night at home against Denver.

This is a rematch of a playoff meeting last season in Foxborough, as the Patriots dumped the Texans 41-28 as the -9 1/2 point favorites in a game Houston simply could not stop Tom Brady. Doubt the Texans nicked up defense stops Tom Terrific today either, as New England has been able to cover their last pair and 3 of their last 4 when listed as the favorite.

Go ahead and lay the road lumber, as New England hands Houston another ugly loss as the Texans season from hell continues.

5♦ NEW ENGLAND

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Brett Atkins

My free play for Sunday is on the Arizona Cardinals plus the points in Philadelphia against the Green Birds..

Though what I'm about to say will throw you for a loop, it's the truth, and it's going to be exciting. I can't wait to see quarterback Nick Foles and Carson Palmer in a shootout at Lincoln Financial Field. They're not the sexiest names under center in the NFL, but you know what, they've got their own niche with their respective teams, and they're keeping their squads alive in the NFC Playoff hunt.

Palmer was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after accumlating 314 yards and throwing two touchdowns in a 40-11 shellacking of the Indianapolis. Palmer became the first Cardinal in franchise history to have at least 300 yards passing, at least 70 percent completions and a minimum-110 passer rating in consecutive games.

Opposing him is the man who has taken the starting position from Mike Vick, and was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month in November. Foles has thrown 16 touchdowns versus no interceptions this season, and leads the league with a passer rating of 128.

Now, why am I taking the road dog in this one if the Eagles are in after a bye week and have been playing cohesive since a 1-3 start to the season? Because even though Philly has won five of its last seven, the Cardinals arrive in Philly on a four-game win streak and in the middle of a heated NFC West race with San Francisco. It's undoubtedtly a given the Seahawks will win the West, and while the 49ers have been walking around with a chip on their shoulders, as if everything will just get handed to them, the Cardinals are putting in blue-collar work.

And they have no choice but to win these games, as they close the season in Seattle and versus San Francisco on the  last two weekends. And I'm sorry, but when you have a veteran like Palmer, together with a guy like Larry Fitzgerald, and a team playing with unbridled confidence, well, all I have to say everyone else in its path is be careful.

Arizona has covered four four of the last five meetings, while the Eagles have failed to cover nine of their last 10 against winning teams. Take the road pup here, and be sure you're getting that extra half point on this line, and taking +3.5.

5♦ ARIZONA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Andre Gomes

Tennessee / Indianapolis  Under 46

Tennessee is coming from an important road win at Oakland last week, but that was achieved while having a negative overall DVOA in that game, so their performance wasn't that good. In fact, they had also recently defeated St Louis on the road, while having a negative DVOA as well, so the Titans are winning but not playing great football in the process. Tennessee is a run oriented team, especially since they lost QB Jake Locker for the season. This is their pass/rush split since their bye week back in week 8:

Pass%  Rush%
0.39         0.61
0.61        0.39
0.54        0.46
0.59        0.41

They only had one game with more than 60% of pass plays and that was against Jacksonville, in a game where they were down in the score and so, needed to take more risks. However, it's important to mention that they showed a decent pass offense over their last two games. On the other hand, the Titans' defense is average. Tennessee will now face an Indianapolis team on an important divisional game for both teams. The Colts are also run oriented and they like to run the football a lot, unless they get down big early in the game and then, they have to throw the gameplan in the trash and throw the football a lot, like it happened with 79% pass plays against St Louis and 72% pass plays at Arizona last week.

On the first game played between these two teams earlier in the season, Indianapolis won at Tennessee by 30-27. It was a game where both teams surprisingly showed a great running game, with the Titans having their second best game of the season regarding rush DVOA with +30.2%, while Indianapolis had their best running game of the season with +38.9% DVOA! However, I don't expect that to happen today, where both teams will indeed use their conservative playbook by calling a lot of running plays, but without having the efficiency that they had on the game played at Tennessee. Therefore, I believe this will be a low scoring game and so, I'll be taking the Under in here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

RIchard Witt

Minnesota Pk

Yes, the Vikes give up a passel of points, and have trouble closing out games . . . but given the current state of affairs with their stop unit, the Bears face similar issues!  Unpolished no-show by Chicago when visiting St. Louis last weekend spoke volumes, and there's no light at the end of the tunnel for Team Halas, this month . . . Bears have only won twice in Minny over the past decade, and say farewell to this house of horrors with yet another loss . . . take Minny

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Bob Balfe

Cleveland -7

Jacksonville has not gotten the production they have needed this year from MJD. This passing attack is weak based on just having limited personal at receiver.  Cleveland is a legit top 5 defense.  This is a good football team and now Brandon Weeden finally gets a chance to get his job back after going down with injury early in the year.  I don’t think the Jags have enough offense in this weather and in this environment to stay in this game today.  Take Cleveland.

Houston +7

New England made a historical comeback last week against the Broncos at home.  It is very hard to switch the flip and get back into game mode after celebrating a big win like that.  With that being said if there is a team that could do it without a doubt it is this Patriots team.  Houston has a great defense.  This team has been hit hard with the injury bug this year, but have quality players.  New England is so banged up on defense that they should not be favorites at this price on the road.  This team has lost key guys on the defensive line and key tacklers on defense.  This New England Secondary is also banged up.  Gary Kubiak will return to the sideline today so that is a huge emotional lift for this Houston team.  Take the Texans.

Minnesota -1

Chicago’s Defense is awful.  I didn’t think I would ever say such a thing, but it is true.  Josh McCown seemed to be a great fit as a backup a few weeks ago, but guess what?  That is incorrect.  Minnesota can run the football and they have the ability to stop the fun.  This Vikings team is feisty and it is their team that is the big threat in the return game this year.  I just don’t see Chicago winning football games with Cutler out of the lineup.  We saw how awful they were last week in St. Louis.  Today they are in a similar environment and I expect Peterson to carry his team at home today.  Take Minnesota.

Miami +2

Usually it’s tough this time of year for a warm weather team to come up and play football, but it is not that cold today.  My problem with the Jets is simple.  Geno Smith throws too many INT’s and these receivers are as weak as it gets as a unit.  Miami has a lot of speed on defense and can create a lot of turnovers.  The Dolphins are at least making smart decisions and not turning the football over.  Look for Miami to get a big road win and be back in the wildcard hunt.  Take the Dolphins

Denver -6.5

One major thing I try to avoid is going against Seattle and KC when they are at home.  Denver has some defensive injuries that could be a problem today, but this KC offense is just not built to go up and down the field and I just see it impossible for them to pace a high powered Denver Offense with so many weapons.  For as bad as we think it is for Denver it is 10 times worst for Kansas City.  The Chiefs are really starting to doubt themselves now losers of 2 straight.  This is a good football team with a great defense, but they have injury on the front 7 today and I just don’t see them stopping a hungry Denver team that let a game get away from them last week.  There will always be a man open today for Denver.  Take the Broncos.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

DB Consensus

Atlanta Falcons vs Buffalo Bills
Pick: Buffalo Bills

Buffalo has the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL and the team believes in it's wild card chances. QB Manuel played a great game last week without his top 2 WR's and this week both Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods return. Atlanta has been overrated for years now, constantly falling short in the playoffs and big games. In 2013, at the first sign of adversity, this Falcons team totally collapsed and is now mailing it in. Buffalo names it's score in Toronto.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Bruce Marshall

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s too bad Jacksonville didn’t begin its recent uptick a few weeks sooner, or it could be in the wild card mix like almost everyone else in the AFC. Unfortunately for Cleveland, it might be ready to drop out of the same with QB Brandon Weeden, who was forced back into the lineup last week vs. Steelers due to Jason Campbell’s apparent concussion. Not so coincidentally, the Brownies have failed to cover all games TY started by Weeden. Jags can hang around if Chad Henne has another error-free efforts as he did in last week’s win at Houston.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAYS

Buffalo -3.5 over Atlanta: Neither of these teams are heading to the playoffs this year, but the Bills are still playing hard, while Atlanta is not. The Falcons have lost 5 in a row and haven't looked good on either side of the ball during that stretch as they have scored 13 or less in 5 of those games, while allowing 30.4 ppg during the stretch. in fact the Atlanta defense has been pretty bad all year as they have allowed 28.1 ppg overall and 30.4 ppg on the road. The Bills are off a much needed bye week and they had a nice win prior to the Bye in beating the Jets by a 37-14 count. Atlanta put it all out on the field last week vs the Saints and will have nothing left here vs a much more motivated Buffalo squad.

Kansas City/ Denver Over 49: Gotta feel like these teams will put up more points than the last game. The Chiefs offense is no longer playing the conservative game. They have started to open up te offense and I see them continuing that here vs this bad Denver defense, that has allowed 283.2 ypg through the air this year and 26.3 ppg. It's even worse for them on the road, where they have allowed 311.6 ypg passing and 32.8 ppg this year. The Chiefs offense has been solid of late, averaging 26 ppg in their last 3 games, while they have put up 25 ppg at home this year. KC has to open up the offense cause the Broncos will score points, especially after blowing a huge lead last week vs the Patriots. This game will be a shootout.

2 UNIT PLAYS

New England -7 over HOUSTON: Gotta go with the momentum that the Pats have right now. This is a team that is fighting for home field advantage through the playoffs and they are coming off the huge comeback win over the Broncos last week. Houston is not playing well at all and are just waiting for the season to end. New England will not take mercy on them in this one. Pats by 10+ in this one.

Miami/ Jets Under 40: All game 12 divisional games since 2008 have gone 25-9 to the under. Neither offense is playing all that well right now as the Jets have put up 14 points or less in 4 of their last 6 games, while Miami has scored just 18.8 ppg in their last 5 games. Miami has allowed 19.3 ppg in their last 3 games, while the Jets have allowed just 20.6 ppg at home. Should be a typical Miami/ Jets low scoring game.

Tampa Bay +7.5 over CAROLINA: Tough spot for the Panthers as they have a game vs the Saints on deck and they are facing a Tampa Bay team that is playing much better right now. Schiano has gotten hold o his team and they look so much better with Glennon at QB. The Panthers were outgained in their last 2 games despite winning both, and let's also note thatthe Panthers are 2-13 ATS at home off BB wins if they are facing a team seeking revenge. Tampa should keep this one close. 

1 UNIT PLAY

Chicago/ Minnesota Over 50: Both teams have played plenty of high scoring games this year as Bears games have gone 8-3 to the over, with 55.6 ppg being scored, while Viking games have gone 9-2 to the over, with 55.7 ppg being scored in their games. Minnesota has averaged 25.5 ppg and have allowed 34.3 ppg at home, while the Bears have averaged 32.2 ppg and have allowed 34 ppg on the road. Both offenses are more than capable of scoring on these very bad defenses and that should get us about 55 points in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

John Fina

Minnesota Vikings -1

Today the Chicago Bears will be on the road as they take on the Minnesota Vikings. We will side with the Minnesota Vikings! For a long time, the Chicago Bears have had a decent defense. In fact, when the general public hears the name "Chicago Bears", they think of a team which has a good defense. That is simply not true anyone. Every since the Chicago Bears lost Lance Briggs, their run defense stinks. The Chicago Bears rank dead last in run defense (giving up 145 yards a game, on average). This is bad news for the Chicago Bears today as the Minnesota Vikings have one of the best running backs in the league (Adrian Peterson). We have full confidence that Adrian Peterson will get a lot of touches, and successfully move the ball down the field. This will also help control the game clock for the Minnesota Vikings, and keep the Chicago Bears offense off the field. In this divisional matchup, the home team has had long term success. In fact, the home team is 16-6 ATS in the last 22 meetings. With everything said, we will side with the Minnesota Vikings.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Tony Mathews

St Louis Rams +7.5

Explanation: We will grab the points with the St Louis Rams as they face-off against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

The St Louis Ram offense is starting to run on all cylinders. RB Zac Stacey is becoming a big playmaker, which is opening things up for Tavon Austin and Jared Cook. This is a well rounded offense, that can score points.

The San Francisco 49ers are one of those teams that is almost always over-valued. This team is just not the same team as last year, and it is clearly showing by their performance on the field.

Along with the 49ers being over-valued, another reason why this line is set so high is because the 49ers already beat the Rams this season. However, that game was very early on in the season (9/26/2013). Since that time, this Rams team has gotten much better. Don't be fooled by past results, as time and time again, it has proved to not be an indicator of future results.

The St Louis Rams still have a chance at the Playoffs, however, they need to win this game. With that motivation in mind, along with the way this team has been playing, they should be able to keep this game within reach.

Grab those points!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Jeff Alexander

Oklahoma City Thunder -8½

The Thunder were crushed 100-81 in Minnesota in the season's first meeting, but they didn't have Russell Westbrook for that contest. Look for them to have their revenge tonight at home where they are on a 26-13 ATS run when out for revenge for a defeat to an opponent. They have won by an average of 9.9 points in this spot. Additionally, the Thunder have won 7 straight at home against the Timberwolves by an average of 12.9 points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Andre Gomes

76ers / Pistons Over 206

Detroit is coming from a home loss against the Lakers due to a huge late choke by getting outscored 15-29 in the fourth quarter. Defensively, the Pistons got crushed once again via outside shooting. The Lakers didn't even try to attack the rim, they settled for jumpers and with success, as they shot 14-31 3pts, while scoring just 28 points in the paint. Detroit's offense was the complete opposite with an incredible 76 points in the paint and 31-53 FG at the rim! The Pistons also scored 25 fast break points.

The Pistons will now host Philadelphia and this will be a tough matchup for Detroit, especially on defense. The Pistons struggled on their perimeter defense and even though Philadelphia isn't a very efficient team, they attempt a ton of treys plus they have Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes in the frontcourt who shoot a lot from the outside and who will force both Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond to get out of their comfort zone. Of course that on the other side, Detroit will have a mega edge down low against Philadelphia, who is coming from two games where they allowed 60 and 52 points in the paint. Both teams are also in the top 6 regarding fast break points, so this will be an uptempo game with both offenses outplaying the defenses. Therefore, I'll be taking the Over in here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

Freddy Wills

Chicago Bears +102

I like the Bears here who are still playing for the playoffs. You'd think there recent struggles are due to the fact that Jay Cutler has been injured but Josh McCown has actually played better than Cutler this year posting a 100.8 QB rating. The Vikings secondary is awful and the Bears should have a major advantage with their big receivers. Minnesota is 30th in total defense and last in scoring defense. Minnesota's offense has been streaky and that's mainly due to the QB play. I think the Bears defense which has struggled this year will show some pride when they get to face a bad offense like Minnesota. Minnesota has not played well at home on offense all year with less than 300 yards per game. I look for the Bears to come up with a huge win and stay in contention.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

River City Sharps

East Carolina -11.5

This looks like a nice spot tonight for the Pirates as UNC Wilmington visits. East Carolina has started off the season at 6-1, and their only loss was a really tough loss at Duke where the Pirates played great. Meanwhile, Wilmington is coming off an embarrassing loss to SF Austin and this doesn't look like the spot to get healthy. East Carolina scores 96 ppg at home and is only allowing 48 ppg in those home games, while shooting almost 44% from the 3-point-line in those contests. Wilmington really struggled from beyond the 3-point-arc, shooting just over 21% for the season. East Carolina is also the better FT shooting team and we expect them to take care of business here tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, December 1

OC Dooley

Bears / Vikings Over 50.5

Late word around the noon eastern time that a pair of key offensive performers for both sides WILL be able to play despite injury concerns.  Chicago is already without lead quarterback Jay Cutler and needs to depend on the rushing attack.  Even though not at 100% efficiency Bears elite rusher Matt Forte will be in the starting lineup while Minnesota superstar runner Adrian Peterson also will be able to participate.  In the case of Peterson he must be licking his chops as he is facing the worst rush-defense in the NFL this afternoon.  On average the Bears are allowing a hefty 145 rush yards per game and already have yielded rush touchdowns.  Peterson is just 154 yards away from reaching TEN-THOUSAND for his career and he could reach that in this particular contest in front of the HOME fans.  Chicago’s offense continues to be led by reserve Josh McCown who has been excellent (7 touchdown passes versus just 1 interception) as he has completed nearly 66% of his attempts.  For those who are into percentages my database research indicates that in the past three years with a high total of at least 45-and-a-half points Minnesota has gone a staggering 7-0 OVER/HOME

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