Here we are again this year, back for more NFL picks. It is with great pleasure that I take the reins from Jeff Pasquino after writing a guest edition last year. As someone who has won and lost their fair share of money on the NFL (and many other sports), this is bound to be a fun and unpredictable ride. Join me, won’t you?
As with the format in previous years, this article will help those of you who compete in confidence pools and in ranking selections, which may come in handy on those Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as totals or over/unders) with 1-3 “Stars”, which basically highlight the best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted for those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools.
At this point in the season, hopefully you have accumulated a decent bankroll and are actively seeking opportunities to expand said bankroll. It is never a straightforward exercise to build a fortune wagering on this fickle game of pro football, but in my experience, it gets easier as the season wears on.
The Las Vegas lines remain efficient, but at times waning team motivations and quarterback and coaching unrest, among other things, can open some windows for us. Picking your spot is the key; there is no shame in avoiding a game completely if you feel the line is right where it should be. Seek edges wherever you can find them, though.
The bye teams this week are the Broncos, Texans, Patriots, Jaguars, Eagles and Redskins.
Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com
(Thursday) LA CHARGERS (-1) at OAKLAND (Over/Under 47.5)
The Chargers proved all the doubters wrong last week, throttling the much-fancied Green Bay Packers in front of a majority Cheesehead crowd. Suddenly, the marquee players are showing up for Los Angeles – Hunter Henry is fully healthy and is as talented as any tight end in football; Melvin Gordon III has some juice back in his legs; Russell Okung is back protecting Philip Rivers’ blind side; Melvin Ingram III is injecting some life into the pass rush. All of this points to a resurgent team poised to go on a run in an AFC that is ripe for the picking.
And yet we have seen this script before with the Chargers on so many occasions. A circle the wagons home win could be followed by a major disappointment. The Raiders, currently an underdog according to Vegas, will relish in creating said upset. Jon Gruden, ever the shrewd tactician, will remind his players of how good this Chargers team is, using the Packers win as an example. While Rivers may have his moments to carve the Raiders up – most every quarterback has against Oakland – the spot here favors the home team. The short week tends to favor the team that doesn’t have to travel. Derek Carr is more than capable of trading blows with Rivers, so take the points in this intriguing AFC West duel.
BALTIMORE (-10) at CINCINNATI (Over/Under 46.5)
The season’s first meeting between these teams was closer than many predicted, with the Ravens winning by only six points at home. Things have changed since then. Cincinnati’s head coach Zac Taylor made the decision during the team’s bye week to bench veteran starting quarterback Andy Dalton, handing the job to rookie Ryan Finley. It remains to be seen what kind of effect the move will have on the locker room. It is entirely possible that players will naturally let their effort level drop in protest, or simply because this is a winless team on the road to nowhere (except the number one pick in April’s NFL Draft).