The loss of Carson Palmer certainly diminishes our hopes of Cincinnati controlling this game, but backup Ryan Fitzpatrick is no slouch. We’re going to let our bet ride. That said, if you haven’t already played it we wouldn’t. Arizona (ML) and Houston (+)(ML) are also looking attractive at this point as “also like” rated opinions. For record keeping purposes we’re still going with the Bengals as a week 4 B rated opinion.
Archive for September, 2008
After going 4-0 with our rated Saturday picks last week, Sundays 0-3 calls brought us down to earth a bit. The timing of my money management comments on the home page was spot on… where I advised NOT to use a progressive betting scheme after our recent run of hot picks. (For more in depth analysis of our money management practices please do read our brief article linked at the top of our home page.)
Allen was kinda liking the Beavers and the points a little bit yesterday because of the short week, but we hedged because there was not enough value to make a play. Who knew they’d thump the shit out of USC? This week Big Al has a thumper from the MAC as a highly rated play. A couple weeks ago we had an attractive line and nice situation with Texas playing Arkansas - the game was delayed and the game has been rescheduled. We still think the Longhorns will win and probably cover, but the line has been adjusted and the value in the match-up deflated, so punter’s proceed with caution (this week Texas is an “Also Like” rated pick in our rankings). This week we do not have an A+ rated pick, so there will be no emails, we do have A rated opinions on both Saturday and Sunday:
Ball State - The Cardinals were emotionally devastated when star receiver Dante Love suffered a spinal fracture in last weeks game. The good news is Love’s surgery was successful, and he’s expected to be able to walk and enjoy a full life, although it probably won’t include football. This is Ball State’s home coming, and they simply have too much fire power for the Flashes. We’ll call a 21-28 point margin of victory.
Western Michigan - The Broncos bring their high octane offense to the Owls. The experienced Temple squad is struggling to put up points this year, and they won’t be able to hang. It’s the first game playing on an off surface for WMU - or this would be a higher rated pick. Still, we’ll call WMU to win by double digits.
Rice - Rice has been able to move the ball well against superior competition. This is 3rd of 4th road game for North Texas. The line is high, but we have a 21-28 point margin of victory for the Owls.
Purdue (ML) - Boilermakers better on both sides of the ball, and playing at a surprisingly higher than anticipated level this year. While Notre Dame still is not meeting expectations. Big Al says this is his upset pick of the week.
Also Likes: North Carolina (+)(ML), UConn, Fresno St, Texas, Cincinnati, SJST (+)
Carolina - Panther’s, a power rushing team, getting healthier on the O-line for this game. Atlanta is 2-1, but those wins are against Miami and Detroit. The Falcons are a run first offense but we don’t see Turner cracking a hundred against this defense. If the rookie QB has to go to the air things could get ugly. We’ll lay the points and call a double digit victory for the Panthers.
Cincinnati - The offense showed signs of life last week, and they are hungry for their first win of the year. Cleveland is a power rushing team, but they are banged up on the o-line and haven’t been able to establish any control at the line of scrimmage. They’ll post some points, but won’t be able to stop the Bengals, who we expect will win by a TD.
Chicago (ML) - The up and down Bears catch the Eagles in a nice spot, coming off two emotional games (Monday at Dallas, and at home vs intra state rival Pittsburgh). This looks like a classic let down play. We expect this one to be a lower scoring contest, with Philly struggling to run in the redzone. Our call is Chicago by 3 in a lower scoring contest.
Also Likes: Houston (+), New Orleans
The third week saw something of a return to normality, straight up games were a respectable 11 – 5 but the against the spread results regressed to a more normal (for me) 6 – 10. This takes the season results to 32 – 15 straight up and 27 – 19 – 1 versus the spread which is still better than I am accustomed to on that side of things.
Please note that these picks are not to be confused with the normal business of Football Forecasters and are not the recommended picks. Personally I do not bet football and anyone who has followed this little feature for any length of time will understand why. I participate in a pick’em league and these choices reflect those picks though my league choices are subject to last minute changes based on the latest injury and practice reports. Generally, these picks will appear on Wednesday evenings and are presented just for their amusement value.
Arizona at New York Jets – The Arizona defense has had some rather soft play, the offense can put up points but the defense has to get more stops. The Jets return from a disappointing trip to the west coast, Jets win 24 – 21.
Cleveland at Cincinnati – The Bengals offense showed some signs of life last week in a losing effort, the defense is still a problem though. The Browns have weaknesses in the secondary that Cincinnati is very capable of exploiting, Bengals win 28 – 24.
Green Bay at Tampa Bay – The Packers have a balanced attack and a solid defense though injuries in the defensive backfield are mounting up. Tampa Bay has an opportunistic defense that plays aggressively but the offense is not particularly dynamic, Packers win 27 – 21.
Atlanta at Carolina – Atlanta can play well when they can get the running game going, it opens up the passing game and keeps their defense off the field. Carolina has a defensive front that can defend against the run and ample offensive weapons, Panthers win 24 – 14.
Minnesota at Tennessee – The Vikings changed quarterbacks and it made a small difference last week though the defense gets the credit for that win. Much the same is the story for the Titans even to the emphasis on the ground game, very similar teams, Titans win 24 – 20.
Houston at Jacksonville – The Jacksonville offensive line is beginning to come together a bit and they were able to establish their running game last week. Houston has had a variety of defensive difficulties and a rather difficult schedule, which continues here, Jaguars win 20 - 17
Denver at Kansas City – The Broncos offense is very good and the defense merely poor; this week the defense will look better than it is. Kansas City cannot stop the run and doesn’t have the offensive weapons to survive a shoot out, Broncos win 31 – 14.
San Francisco at New Orleans – Martz has made some changes in his approach as the Forty-niners are getting the running game established early and setting up the pass. The New Orleans offense is as potent as ever but injuries on defense have been costly, Saints win 28 – 24.
San Diego at Oakland – Oakland came close to the upset last week but failed too often in the red zone settling for field goals when they needed touchdowns. The Chargers are a lot better than their record indicates and the record is about to start getting better, Chargers win 28 – 17.
Buffalo at St Louis – The Bills have a team that is fundamentally sound and balanced on both offense and defense. The Rams have injury problems and weaknesses on both lines and in the defensive backfield as well, Bills win 24 – 17.
Washington at Dallas – Dallas has a number of ways to win; they can create big plays offensively or defensively. Washington has been playing well in their new offense but lack depth and are still learning a new offensive system, Dallas wins 28 – 17.
Philadelphia at Chicago – The Bears are primarily a defensive team that relies on a ball control offense. Philadelphia is a defensive team intended to be as disruptive as possible, with Westbrook out the defensive team dictates the winner, Eagles win 24 – 17.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh – The Ravens offense is still their defense, which has been playing very well, but sometime they are going to need more. Pittsburgh is not blocking the pass well and Roethlisberger has been getting hit a lot but as long as he is in, Steelers win 27 – 21.
Last weeks top rated pick, A+ rated TEXAS, was cancelled due to hurricane Ike. With the cancellation we went 5-0 with last weekends football picks. This weekend we have identified another A+ rated pick in the college ranks, which we have emailed to all the supporters who have donated to our site fund - so guys please check your emails because Big Al has a “pounder” and the game is played early on Saturday! We are already off to a good start this week after hitting A rated underdog Colorado as a late Thursday afternoon ML call (which we posted 1 hour before kick-off).
There are some solid Money Line (ML) upset value picks out there this weekend. Teams denoted with (ML), we prefer to play on the ML to pull the outright upset (for site record keeping purposed these picks are designated W or L with the points). In the “Also Likes” categories we prefer to hit these ML picks at 1 to 2 percent of bankroll on a two team parlay, which makes for a generous low risk payout.
On to our top rated football picks for the weekend:
CINCINNATI - The Bearcats are a solid squad on both sides of the ball, and Miami-OH is down this year. Big Al says Cincinnati is a solid play and wins comfortably by two TDs.
AIR FORCE (+): A nice line value play with the points because Utah has been blowing away the competition. Look for the highly tuned Falcons option to keep them in the game. Keep in mind this one is taking the points as we do expect Utah to notch the W.
Also Likes: Troy(+) with the points, BYU, Alabama, Penn State
BUFFALO - They’re for real, solid up and down the roster on both sides of the ball. Oakland is one dimensional and they’ll have a difficult time punching it in the endzone. Bills by double digits, and if Oakland turns it over this may get ugly.
CAROLINA (ML) - This one should be a relatively low scoring tightly fought field battle that could go either way and will be undecided into the final minutes. The Panthers are at +130 on the ML which is solid line value for the type of battle we expect will play out - our top rated underdog pick on Sunday. This one is at an even FG so we prefer to play it on the ML….
Also Likes: Pittsburgh (+)(ML), Atlanta, Arizona (+)(ML). When a dog is getting the heavy FG consideration is given to taking the points as the majority of games are decided by a FG… however, we feel these Sunday dogs have the potential to outright win.
COLORADO (ML)(+) Big Al likes the home team playing on national television to stay in this one, and thinks they may out right win the game. Colorado is a fundamentally solid team on both sides of the ball, while WV isn’t the same without Rodriquez and they are traveling. Solid ML value with the home dog.
The second week was a bit strange as Ike created the early bye and the weather influenced how a couple of games played out which is expected in December, not so much now. The results weren’t too bad this week going 10 – 5 straight up and a rather remarkable 9 – 5 – 1 against the spread. This takes the season results to 21 – 10 and 21 – 9 – 1 respectively so it appears I am still better against the spread than I am straight up though by the slimiest possible of margins..
Please note that these picks are not to be confused with the real business of Football Forecasters and are not recommended picks. Personally I do not bet football and anyone who has followed this little feature for any length of time will understand why immediately. I participate in a pick’em league and these choices reflect those choices though my final league pickss will not be finalized until after these are published. Generally, these picks will appear on Wednesday evenings and are just for amusement value.
Tampa Bay at Chicago – The Buccaneers are starting the quarterback that Chicago released to keep Kyle Orton and their best receiver looks to be hobbled. It is unclear that the Bears even have a best receiver, both teams have defense going for them, Bears 21 – 17.
Houston at Tennessee – Houston had an unexpected bye that was not really a bye at all considering they still prepared for the cancelled game. The Titans have been playing well and have “owned” Houston in recent outings, Titans win 21 – 14.
Arizona at Washington – The Redskins are still acclimating to a new offense and showed progress in last week’s win but also had the turnover edge going for them. The Cardinals have a variety of well-developed offensive weapons at their disposal, Redskins win 28 – 20.
Carolina at Minnesota – Minnesota has squandered opportunities in two losses so far this season, last week at the final moment. Carolina gets Steve Smith back after negotiating two last minute wins without him, Panthers win 28 – 24.
Kansas City at Atlanta – The Chiefs could be starting their third-string quarterback this week and their offense was not that good to start with. Atlanta has a lot of holes to fill but their running game is solid, Falcons win 20 – 10.
Miami at New England – Miami has some fundamental issues along both their offensive and defensive lines; it looks to be a long season. The Patriots have adjusted their game plans to feature more defense and their running game, Patriots win 24 – 10.
Oakland at Buffalo – The Raiders picked up a win in Kansas City by virtue of a solid running game and opportunistic defense. The Bills are a better team than many thought, sound on both sides of the ball, Bills win 24 – 14.
Cincinnati at New York Giants – The Bengals offense is still having issues particularly with their line play. The Giants defense can take advantage of a good offensive line and their offense has been playing very well, Giants win 28 – 14.
New Orleans at Denver – The Saints secondary is hurting at bad time and they do not have a power running attack to slow the game down. The Denver offense has been very impressive, particularly the passing game which bodes well here, Broncos win 31 – 24.
Detroit at San Francisco – The Lions defense is ugly bad, their offensive line is poor but they have a good passing attack when actually throwing to their own players. The San Francisco offense is coming together slowly, Forty-niners win 28 – 21.
St Louis at Seattle – The Rams offense has been disappointing and their defensive secondary porous. Seattle means never being able to start the same wide receivers two weeks in a row, they have more receivers injured than many teams carry, Seahawks win 21 – 14.
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia – The battle for Pennsylvania rates to be a good game, the Steelers are playing well though their pass blocking is average. Philadelphia is coming off of a tough Monday night loss but are playing very well, Eagles win 21 – 17.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis – These teams have six or seven starting offensive linemen out for this game, neither offense looks like they are comfortable. The choice here comes down to Manning over Garrard, Colts win 21 – 14.
Cleveland at Baltimore – Baltimore has fundamental issues with their offense but their defense is solid. Cleveland has failed to live up to expectations but this week should be better as the Ravens don’t have the weapons to attack their defense, Browns win 17 – 14.
Dallas at Green Bay – Dallas will have to watch out for a let down after a hard fought win on Monday night. Green Bay is playing very well with the un-Favre but their secondary is beginning to show signs of age, Cowboys win 28 – 24,
New York Jets at San Diego – The Chargers have had two last minute losses; their offensive problems are with the toes of Tomlinson and Gates, defensively their pass rush is lacking. The Jets are still feeling their way around on offense a bit, Chargers 24 – 21.
TEXAS: Big Al says Arkansas is terrible and Texas easily pounds them by 5 TDs this week. A+ pick of the week at 4-5% of bankroll.
USC: We usually don’t like big network games as wagering picks, but in this one USC just has too much explosiveness going for them over Ohio State. Al says the Trojans should roll to a 3 score victory margin.
SJSU: Yep, we went against them last week and Al hit an A rated play with Nebraska because it was a bad match-up for the Spartans. In this situation San Jose State benefits with a very strong match-up advantage over San Diego State. Spartans are exposive and quick and the Aztecs will have difficult time keeping them out of the endzone. We’re getting some line value because of last weeks results, we’re hitting SJSU with a 4% of bankroll pick and will call on them to win by double digits.
College “also likes”: These are plays we analyzed and kicked around in the discussion - I like these picks on a low exposure two-team parlay (Oregon with Iowa State(+) at 1.5% of bankroll).
ARIZONA: Our official pick to win the NFC west is now Arizona (with Kurt Warner at QB). These team is the real deal. They are committed to the run and Whisenhunt has Warner is working on being a game manager rather than a gunslinger. The offensive and defensive lines are vastly superior to Miami’s, and that’s where this contest will be dominated by the Cardinals, who will win this one by double digits. Our strongest NFL game of the week.
TAMPA BAY: We made a very bad call with Detroit as our top ranked NFL pick last week, vastly over rating what we thought would be an improved run defense. Atlanta will NOT be able to run on Tampa like they did on the Lions. We’re a little concerned with Garcia on the bench, but still like the Bucs to post 17-24 points. We don’t see Atlanta putting up more than 17 and more likely 10-14 points. They won’t score over the top on this defense. We’re hitting the Bucs with a 3% of bankroll B-rated pick.
BUFFALO(+): Jacksonville has been impacted harder by injuries than any team in the league for this weeks game. It looks like they’ll be without their 3 starting interior lineman. The Jags are a power run oriented team and their facing what appears to be a vastly improved Buffalo run defense. Consider former Jags DT Marcus Stroud is now on the other side of the line and we have a situation that nicely favors the road team getting points. We think this one will be decided by a FG either way, and won’t be surprised if the Bills pull off the outright upset.
NFL “also likes”: The scorecasting models don’t support it but my gut really likes Detroit on the ML (+140) this week. Fundamentally Green Bay is the better team, however there are several situations here pointing to Detroit making this a competitive contest. We also like Philadelphia on Monday night to be competitive with Dallas, if the Eagles don’t get run over this one should be close. A low exposure two teamer at 1.5% of bankroll Detroit(ML) and Philadelphia(+) is a sharp play.
Good luck and play sharp. Please read our money management strategy linked from the home page to fully understand our recommended betting strategies.
Kurt - Football Forecasters
The first week results are in and something rather strange has occurred. I actually went better against the spread than straight up. This week I went 11 – 5 straight up and a rather remarkable 12 – 4 against the spread. That is certain to end this week so I will just enjoy the feeling.
Please note that these picks are not to be confused with the real business of Football Forecasters and are not recommended picks. Note that I personally do not bet football as anyone who has followed this little feature for any length of time will understand immediately. I participate in a pick’em league and these choices reflect those choices though my final league choices will not be finalized until after these are published. Generally, these are published on Wednesday evenings and are just for amusement value.
Tennessee at Cincinnati – The Bengals defense was not in evidence but they have been missing for a few years now but the offense was absent last week as well. Tennessee has a decent defense and an offense that the Bengal defense can make look good, Titans win 21 – 17.
Buffalo at Jacksonville – The Jaguars offensive line has taken a couple of injury hits and they will need to improve their offensive efficiency to have a chance this week. The Bills looked solid on both sides of the ball and have a tough task this week, Bills win 24 – 21.
Oakland at Kansas City – The Chiefs also had a quarterback injured in last week’s game, the talent fall off is not quite as noticeable as that other guy though. The Raiders offense has to be termed as struggling so points could be hard to come by here, Chiefs win 17 – 10.
Indianapolis at Minnesota – The Colts have to get the offensive line settled in the face the Vikings front seven, not an easy task. The Minnesota running game is their strength they have the ability to wear down Colts defense if they get ahead, Vikings win 27 – 21.
Chicago at Carolina – Chicago looked very good last week but their offense is still suspect and the defense can be dominant if they can stay rested. The Panthers feature the kind of running game by attrition designed to wear down undersized defenders, Panthers win 21 – 14.
Green Bay at Detroit – The Detroit defense really is as bad as it looks. The offense has weapons but suffers from some inconsistency. The Packers defense is likely to generate some take-aways and the offense should have no problems, Packers 28 – 17.
New York Giants at St. Louis – The Giants defense looks like they have not lost a lot despite being down two defensive ends. The Rams secondary was hardly in evidence last week and will have problems again, Giants win 27 – 17.
New Orleans at Washington – The Saints offense needs to be able to field a steady running game but they have big play potential all over the field. The Redskins are going to take a while to get the rhythm of the west coast offense, Saints win 24 – 17.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay – The Atlanta running game may be better than anticipated though they will find themselves up against a different level of competition this week. The Bucs defense will be a lot tougher for Matt Ryan to get a read on, Bucs win 20 – 10.
San Francisco at Seattle – The Seattle receiving corps has been decimated, four receivers down so far, it is hard to figure out who will be on the field this week. San Francisco is working the kinks out of the Martz offense, very slowly, Seahawks win 17 – 10.
New England at New York Jets – This is a game where the view certainly has changed with the injury to Brady. The Jets have the better quarterback now but the better talent is still on the other side of the field, Patriots win 24 – 20.
San Diego at Denver – The Chargers are coming off a last minute loss and an overall poorly played game. Denver is leading the division at the end of week one and get back their best receiver but this is going to be a battle, Chargers win 24 – 20.
Miami at Arizona – The Dolphins are in the midst of a rebuilding effort and are playing hard but need better performances from both lines. Arizona has a lot of offensive play-making ability but their defense is still suspect, Cardinals win 28 – 14.
Baltimore at Houston – Houston was dominated by a very good defensive team in week one and face another quality defense but this time at home. The Baltimore defense is playing at a very high level and will need to be to carry their offense, Texans win 24 –21.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland – The Browns face another quality well-balanced team at home, they have to find a pass rush as their secondary cannot cover indefinitely. The Steelers offensive line play in week one looked solid, Steelers win 28 – 17.
Philadelphia at Dallas – This looks to set the early favorite for the NFC East and perhaps the conference. Both teams looked dominate in their first game, this will likely go to whoever wins the turnover battle, hard to go against the home team, Cowboys 28 – 27.
The injury to Tom Brady is unfortunate for the Patriots and the NFL. I have seen the replay several time as there is no way to avoid it. Two things, first this was not a dirty play as there is no indication of intent to harm the quarterback in any way. This was just Pollard keeping moving toward the QB. Brady had his foot planted and his weight was forward; the vector of force was in a bad direction for his knee. Pollard did not throw his shoulder at it or grab and lever the leg. This was mostly just unlucky.
Secondly though was that Brady already had an injury to his right foot. The impact of that injury may have directly contributed the knee. Because of the prior injury, he was not moving his feet as normal. The ball was away when the contact was made, ordinarily a quarterback would have brought the weight off of his plant foot at release, because of favoring the right foot one might suspect he was slow getting his left foot out of the turf.
This is common; a player with one injury gets another. Football is a violent sport and players have to play with various injuries but there is a point at which the risk begins out weigh the benefit through diminished performance and increased risk of further damage. It really doesn’t appear that was the case with Brady but it is a factor to keep in mind the next time someone gushes enthusiastically about some player’s determination to “play hurt”. (Anyone have Shawn Merriman’s phone number?)
Brady is out for the season, and will have surgery, so the AFC race suddenly opened up. That in no way is to suggest that New England has become a non-factor in the conference but they are likely in a real fight for their division. They are going to have to change their essential game plan to emphasize the running game and rely more on their defense. Right now, everyone is making up scenarios favoring various teams; each of them about equally as valid, which is to say not very.
MIAMI - Forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but I posted this last night and it didn’t seem to take…. Like the situation where the Jets former starting QB, who understands all the opponent blitz packages and defensive schemes, is playing against his former team. This contest should be up for grabs and a solid ML value on the home team.