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.
Last week proved to be a tricky one all around, with some bad beats along the way costing us some wagers. A 7-9 finish is the nature of the beast, but we must be aiming higher, especially with just two weeks of the season to go. Typically, the final weeks are difficult to forecast, as teams try out younger players and skew what we thought we knew. Try to maintain an appreciation of the changes as the week progresses and act accordingly.
Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com
(Saturday) HOUSTON (-1.5) at TAMPA BAY (Over/Under 53)
Houston’s pivotal victory in Nashville has set them up beautifully for a postseason berth, but there is still business to attend to before they can don their caps and pull on their t-shirts. There is an unmistakable grit to this roster, deficient in talent though they may be at key spots. Whether it is a grind-it-out rushing attack led by Carlos Hyde, a key pass from Deshaun Watson or a defensive stop by a player you’ve likely never heard of, the Texans get it done. That they have been made road favorites is a huge vote of confidence by Vegas, but it should be noted that the Bucs were originally one-point favorites. Line moves like this can sometimes be a buyer beware situation, with the Houston hype train back on the tracks.
Despite only being able to grip a tennis ball in practice last week for a time, Jameis Winston looked none the worse for wear in Detroit, casually throwing for 458 yards (bettering his Week 14 yardage by two), four touchdowns and just one pick. That is an 8:4 touchdown to interception ratio over the past two games, a real positive for Winston and the Bucs. Losing Chris Godwin is a blow, and to see him felled by the same injury (hamstring) that took out Mike Evans is particularly cruel. At 7-7, the Bucs have really turned the ship around (ahem) and are in prime position to cause an upset against a weak Texans back end.
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