NFL Picks: Week 10 (updated x2)

Written by Football, Sports

UPDATE 2:  The half-point movement in the Monday night game has convinced Gamblor to put down a small ($5.12) hedge bet on the Cleveland Browns.

UPDATE:  The biggest news is that the  line in the San Diego game has slid all the way down from -2.5 to -1, which means Gamblor is slightly more enthusiastic about Philadelphia and makes it feel like this game is a trap – the majority of money was already on San Diego, so why would the books move the line down and entice more?  The Tennessee and Carolina lines have each moved a half point, but it hasn’t affected things much or made any major impression on me.  I was spot-on in my assessment of last night’s game – and so was Gamblor, actually (who thought the spread was just about perfect) but unfortunately it came out on the wrong side of the coin toss this time.  It’s a lot easier to relax about comparatively minor losses like this, of course, when you’ve got such a huge bet to worry about later on in the week.  I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that Dallas comes up big this week.  An updated summary sheet is here.

Gamblor went huge in Week 9, hitting its top two picks (including its biggest bet of the year thus far) and finishing with a record of 10-3, a weighted win percentage of 71.6%, and a profit of $120. And it managed all this despite suffering two of the worst bad beats it has endured all year. The first was courtesy of Jacksonville’s defense, who gave up two touchdowns to the Kansas City Chiefs in the final three minutes. The second was delivered by Matt Stafford, who tossed a pick-six with twenty seconds left to blow the Lions cover of a 10 point spread after they opened the game with a lead of 17-0. Of course, complaining about a pair of losses during such a great week is like complaining that you don’t like the way your maid Carlotta folds your undershirts after she irons them.

My own picks were merely adequate, going 7-6, which is precisely why Gamblor gets to risk real money and I don’t. Vegas certainly enjoyed their weekend, as Tampa Bay delivered a stunning upset over the Green Bay Packers (one which I’m very proud to have predicted last week – though I certainly didn’t envision them winning outright) and underdogs carried the day with a dazzling record of 10-3.  Which brings me to the week’s feature…

(To watch this video, right-click and hit play)

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To celebrate Tampa Bay’s stunning upset of the Packers last week, I thought I’d put together a countdown of Gamblor’s top 5 upsets (so far) of 2009.  You’d think that Oakland’s surprising defeat of Philadelphia in what was called a “lock of the century” by Colin Cowherd and enthusiastically endorsed by many others would qualify, but Gamblor didn’t actually call this one as an upset – it thought the +14 spread was just about perfect and put down a sizable hedge bet on the host. But the following games featured spreads that Gamblor thought were far too low – thus indicating a good potential for the underdog to prevail.

The Top 5 Gamblor-Predicted Upsets of 2009:

5.  Cincinnati Bengals 17, Baltimore Ravens 14. Baltimore was favored by 8.5 points in this Week 5 game, as most bettors failed to give the Bengals proper credit for their offseason improvements (that had led to a 3-1 start) and got burned as a result.  A late touchdown with just 0:22 on the clock from Carson Palmer to Andre Caldwell put Cincinnati over the top in this game that cracked Gamblor’s 90% threshold, netting a gain of $26.30 for the computer.

4.  Houston Texans 34, Tennesse Titans 31. Tennessee had lost their first game of the season in a tough overtime loss to the defending Superbowl champions, but the following week Gamblor thought the 6.5 points the Titans were laying against the upstart Texans was too few – it was a trap.  Houston scored the last 10 points in the game, helping the Titans to accelerate downwards during the initial phase of their disastrous 2009 season and delivering $29.37 to Gamblor’s coffers in the process.

3.  Arizona Cardinals 27, Seattle Seahawks 3. The Seahawks had been given far too much credit by far too many people prior to the 2009 season, and by Week 6 their problems had become apparent.  Gamblor believed that their strength at home should have engendered a much larger spread than the 3 points they were giving to the Cardinals, and thought it spotted a trap here.  It did.  The Cardinals demolished the Seahawks, proving their dominance and providing Gamblor with $27.19 as a reward for its faithfulness.

2.  Green Bay Packers 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38. Tampa Bay ended a streak of eleven straight losses by coming back from an 11 point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Packers and potentially put a dent in their playoff hopes.  Gamblor felt that the spread of 9.5 wasn’t nearly high enough to compensate for the Buccaneers’ ineptitude against Green Bay’s offensive machine, and consequently loaded up heavily on the underdog.  This was one of the highest points of the season for Gamblor as it risked $42.08 and took back $40.08 in what wasn’t even its largest bet of the week.

1.  Tennessee Titans 34, San Francisco 49ers 27. In this delightfully exciting Week 9 game, the winless Titans headed to the bay to face a tough San Francisco team that was laying only 4 points.  This was actualy quite a fashionable pick amongst football handicappers, and Gamblor smartly fell into line, risking $70.44 to win $69.07 in what was its largest bet – and victory – of the 2009 season so far.

Gamblor doesn’t have any major upsets predicted for the coming week.  Instead, it is wagering almost exactly 1/5 of its current bankroll on the Cowboys to cover a 3 point spread against the Packers.  A printable summary sheet is here and my thoughts on the games are as follows:

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CHICAGO BEARS
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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Chicago (+3)
Bet Amount: $22.58 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Both Chicago and San Francisco have followed a similar pattern – after a very encouraging start to their season, they have both started to slide substantially. They’re both despearate for a dominant performance from their offense, but neither will find it against the other’s defense in this game. I’m expecting a tight game here, with the home field advantage being all that puts San Francisco over the top – but by just more than the requisite 3 points.
BUFFALO BILLS
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TENNESSEE TITANS
Gamblor’s Pick: Buffalo (+7)
Bet Amount: $0.95 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: The Titans effort against the 49ers showed that they’re not ready to give up on their season just yet. Buffalo won’t have made any major improvements over the bye week; their woes stem from a lack of talent rather than any major organizational issues. Terrell Owens might be able to have a decent day against the Titans’ depleted secondary, but the Bills have to figure out a way to get the ball to him first. Chris Johnson will pick up where Houston’s Ryan Moats left off, and Tennessee’s faithful fans will be rewarded for their perseverence.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
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SAINT LOUIS RAMS
Gamblor’s Pick: St. Louis (+13.5)
Bet Amount: $3.98 (Hedge and Flip)
WHY I AGREE: I wish I could stay away from this game. St. Louis knows very well that they have no chance to win this game, while New Orleans has no incentive to put forth any serious effort either. I’d expect Sean Payton to use this (and the following week’s) contest to work out the kinks in his running game and defense. I think the Rams will probably cover here, but only because the spread isn’t nearly as large as it ought to be and feels a bit like a trap. The Eagles were giving 14 points when they went into Oakland a few weeks ago; are the books telling us that the Eagles are better than the Saints? Or is it that the Raiders are worse than the Rams? Or maybe it’s that the fans at the Edward Jones Dome will provide more of a lift to the Rams than the ones in Oakland’s black hole did for the Raiders? None of these is remotely true. I’m glad I don’t have any more than the minimum on the line here, but I’ll take my chances and round this one up.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
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MIAMI DOLPHINS
Gamblor’s Pick: Tampa Bay (+10)
Bet Amount: $15.56 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: There’s really no point in playing this game. Miami has suffered some tough losses and has a worse record than they deserve, so they won’t let an easy victory like this over a geographical rival slip away. They’ll be scoring at will, and their defense will stop Tampa Bay with relative ease. Freeman did a nice job against Green Bay in leading the Buccaneers to their first victory of the season, but he won’t get nearly as much help from his defense and special teams this time.
DETROIT LIONS
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MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Gamblor’s Pick: Detroit (+16.5)
Bet Amount: $29.22 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: This should be an easy victory for the Vikings, but I’m not so sure it will be. Divisional games are always closer, and this Detroit team sees this Vikings team twice a year – they know them well. A healthy Stafford and Calvin Johnson will enable Detroit to move the ball offensively, and their defense may actually manage to stop Farve if Childress isn’t smart enough to leave the ball in Adrian Peterson’s hands for the majority of their offensive plays. Although Jared Allen will wreak havoc in the Lions backfield, this is just too many points to pass up for a divisional rivalry.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
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NEW YORK JETS
Gamblor’s Pick: Jacksonville (+7)
Bet Amount: $1.33 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Despite losing to the Dolphins, the Jets completely dominated their last game before the bye week, as well as demolishing the Raiders the week before. And they did it all on the ground. Jacksonville is susceptible to a strong ground attack, and Sanchez will be able to supplement the rushing game with a few well-timed play-action passes. But will Jacksonville be able to strike back? It’s not likely. Rex Ryan will have plugged the holes in his special teams. The Jets will be a bit distracted by their upcoming rematch with the Patriots – in New England, but they’ll be able to handle the Jaguars. If they had beaten Miami I’d be concerned about them showing up complacent, but they’re coming off a loss so they should be focused.
CINCINNATI BENGALS
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PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Cincinnati (+7)
Bet Amount: $21.25 (Hedge Conflict)
WHY IT’S WRONG: The Bengals pulled off a surprising upset of the Steelers when they met earlier this season, but don’t expect them to repeat that at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won’t take them so lightly this time, and will prepare with proper respect for the improvements Cincinnati has made since last season’s disaster circus. After a short week, the Steelers will be a little light on gas, but with a free win against Kansas City lined up for next week, they won’t be afraid to let it all hang out here. I think that Cincinnati will stay in this game for a while, but ultimately Pittsburgh is the better team and they’ll be able to pull away during the second half.
DENVER BRONCOS
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WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Gamblor’s Pick: Washington (+3.5)
Bet Amount: $24.09 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: After last week’s loss to Pittsburgh, Denver is looking for someone to kick around. Enter the Washington Redskins. The Broncos will want to build some momentum going into next week’s rematch against the surging Chargers, and Washinton is in complete disarray. The fans HATE Snyder and won’t offer much support to a team that got ruined in Atlanta the previous week. Furthermore, and I know it was ages ago, but Denver would love to avenge one of their Superbowl defeats, so they won’t let up once they get ahead. The margin of Washington’s losses has been getting progressively bigger each of the last four weeks (3, 8, 10, 14) and I fully expect that trend to continue here.
ATLANTA FALCONS
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CAROLINA PANTHERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Carolina (+1.5)
Bet Amount: $25.23 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Atlanta had a pretty easy time with Washington while Carolina completely shit the bed against New Orleans. I think Matt Ryan will look very sharp in this game against a Carolina secondary that had their spirits crushed in the second half against the Saints. With Michael Turner also running rampant, Carolina will find themselves in big trouble here, much like the 49ers did a few weeks back.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
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OAKLAND RAIDERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Oakland (-2)
Bet Amount: $21.06 (Flip)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Sadly enough for the Raiders, one of the only teams they’re good enough to beat is also one won’t they won’t take seriously. Kansas City is engaged in a major rebuilding project, but they’re still able to get motivated against comparable opponents, as they showed against Washington. Look for lazy play, lots of penalties, and major frustration as the Raiders lose to a team who – in their own deluded minds – they’re vastly superior to.
DALLAS COWBOYS
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GREEN BAY PACKERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Dallas (-3)
Bet Amount: $175.49 (Flip – 92%)
WHY I AGREE: Since this is Gamblor’s biggest pick of the season, and this bet has the potential to consume one fifth of my entire bankroll, I’m going to devote a few more words to this contest than usual. Gamblor sees this spread as horribly tilted – given Green Bay’s strength at home and their complete dominance in their games against St. Louis, Detroit, and Cleveland this year, and the disparity between Dallas’ performance at home and on the road, it doesn’t believe that Dallas should be favored in this game at all. Fully 347 of the 360 different models believe that if past performance predicted future results, Green Bay would cover the spread 80% of the time – or more. Twenty-three of the models see Green Bay covering this spread greater than 90% of the time – with a high value of 91.3%. Which means, from Gamblor’s perspective, this line is an epic trap – Vegas knows that Dallas is going to completely dominate this game and is trying to scare money away from Dallas and onto Green Bay by offering them such a favorable line.

From a human perspective, this line doesn’t seem so far off. Dallas has been very strong this season, and many of us had the chance to watch Green Bay provide the pathetic Buccaneers with their first victory of the season after the networks cut away from an incredibly boring Arizona-Chicago game. Not only was it Tampa’s first win, but they won using a rookie quarterback who had never started a game in the NFL before. Green Bay’s problems with their offensive line have been very obvious to anyone who has seen this team play over the last several weeks – Aaron Rodgers has been under constant pressure and Dallas certainly has the personnel to keep this up. The Dallas offense is very strong in every facet of the game. They were able to get the job done against Philadelphia, and have been held to less than 20 points just once this season. And the better teams that Green Bay has faced (Minnesota – both times, and Cincinnati) were able to put up more than 30 against Green Bay’s weak defense. So things seem to be lined up well for the Cowboys, and in normal circumstances I’d feel very comfortable picking them to win this contest easily.

But of course with a bet of this size it’s impossible to avoid second-guessing yourself. The 90% model has been so hot this season that (even though I know my statistics well enough to know better) it feels like it’s due for a letdown. Green Bay has lost two in a row to fall to 4-4 and will be playing with a lot of desperation – their playoff chances are very much at stake here. And given how dominant Dallas has been lately, you’d almost expect them to be laying more points – especially since bettors aren’t fazed by the line and are flocking to bet on the Cowboys in droves. It’s never easy to play in Green Bay when it starts getting cold, and the Packers fans can provide the team with an incredible boost at times.

But there are some other signs to help me relax. The weather in Green Bay on Sunday is forecast to be 45 degrees and sunny – perfect football weather. And Vegas has already moved the spread as far as they’re going to – it opened at 1.5 and currently sits at 3. It won’t budge from here – the sportsbooks are not going to leave themselves open to getting middled by the most common final score differential in football.

I’m glad I don’t have to make my own decision whether to pull the trigger on this one – my sportsbook was offering a line with zero juice (yet another source of worry, of course) so I’ve already gotten my bet in. The die has been cast. I’ll be watching breathlessly on Sunday to see how this one turns out, but I’m happy to say that I believe in Gamblor’s judgment on this one.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
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ARIZONA CARDINALS
Gamblor’s Pick: Arizona (-9)
Bet Amount: None (Flip)
WHY I AGREE: Seattle was the beneficially of five Matt Stafford interceptions, and still only barely beat the lowly Lions.  Arizona should dispatch them with ease
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
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SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Philadelphia (+1)
Bet Amount: $20.68 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: Last week while watching Dallas beat Philadelphia, I referred to Andy Reid as a “fat idiot.”  I stand by my statement.  I’m sure you’ve already heard enough about his poor play selection and ham-fisted clock management skills.  But he’s not the only reason that Philadelphia is a vastly overrated team.  Their problems go all the way to the top.  Any team that offers $1.6 million to a tainted quarterback of questionable ability who could be bought for far less needs to take a serious look at its general management staff.  San Diego is surging in a big way, and once they figure out how to deal with LT’s diminished production they’ll be practially unstoppable.  So why do I like Philadelphia to cover the spread?  Simple – because San Diego won’t be thinking about anything else other than their upcoming rematch with Denver, and because the Eagles thrive as underdogs.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Gamblor’s Pick: New England (+3)
Bet Amount: $33.77 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: Very tough to make a call on this one – it’s the game of the year for both of these teams, so it’s fair to expect some fireworks.  Peyton Manning has never looked better in his career than he has this season, but his head coach has never faced these Patriots before.  Bill Belichick knows the Colts well.  They would love to be the ones who end the Colts’ threat of duplicating New England’s perfect regular season record, so I’m giving the Patriots the edge here.  Plus, it can’t hurt to have those points.
BALTIMORE RAVENS
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CLEVELAND BROWNS
Gamblor’s Pick: Cleveland (+11)
Bet Amount: $5.12 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Gamblor thinks Cleveland should be getting more points here, and I fully agree.  What we don’t agree on is whether this one is a trap.  Cleveland is awful, and this game really has no business being shown on Monday night.

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Week

Zack

Gamblor

Weighted Wins

Weighted Picks

Weighted Win %

Profit

Win

Lose

Push

Win

Lose

Push

1

7

9

9

7

1339

1727

77.5%

$155.71

2

9

7

11

5

970

1292

75.1%

$98.97

3

9

7

6

10

607

1552

39.1%

-$61.75

4

8

6

5

9

288

963

29.9%

-$70.33

5

6

8

6

8

655

1217

53.8%

$15.46

6

7

7

8

6

625

1231

50.8%

-$10.53

7

8

4

1

3

9

1

246

1161

21.2%

-$127.43

8

3

10

9

7

709

1548

45.8%

-$34.43

9

7

6

10

3

1152

1609

71.6%

$119.67

Total

64

64

1

64

64

1

6591

12300

53.6%

$85.34

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