NFL Picks: Week 9

Written by Football, Sports

You’re in the wrong place – the picks for Week 9 of 2010 will be posted HERE on Thursday morning. You really should go read them because Gamblor is absolutely KILLING it this year. Enjoy!

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Gamblor had another lackluster performance last week, going 6-7 and dropping $34 in the process, which means it has now fallen just below fifty-one percent for the season (weighted win percentage of 50.9%) and is now dipping into last season’s winnings to support its incorrigible habit of betting on underdogs, who are thus far 54-60-1 for the year.  My own picks were terrible, going 3-10.  The most thrilling part of my football weekend wasn’t actually until Tuesday, when I learned the results of Monday night’s game – I had changed the channel with a minute and a half remaining expecting that New Orleans would be able to kill the clock with ease.  What a pleasant surprise!

I saw it suggested (plausibly) last week that New Orleans’ kicker John Carney was shaving points at the behest of the books against Miami (he missed a key extra point near the end of the game, and booted the ball out of bounds on their final kickoff to give the Dolphins terrific field position), but I certainly don’t believe that anymore. Carney nailed an otherwise meaningless extra point with just three minutes left in the game, putting the Saints up by 11 against a spread that originally opened at -10. This would be bad news for the books, of course, because most of the money early in the week went towards the Saints. The action was getting so lopsided that by Monday afternoon they had moved the spread all the way to -11.5 and even -12 in some places. Which meant that the sportsbooks, already suffering quite badly this year, were in very realistic peril of getting middled. Fortunately, Mike Bell came to their rescue in a huge way, fumbling the ball away on third down and giving Atlanta the opportunity to cover the spread with a late field goal.

(To watch this video, right-click and hit play)
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This is the first year I’ve paid attention to line movement, so I’ve overlooked the prospect of hitting a middle until now. I’ve mentioned before that the sportsbooks don’t like to move the lines very much – but this year, facing an unprecedented number of blowouts, an expanded salary cap, and several of the worst NFL teams in decades, they’re in full-on panic mode and will be moving the lines a lot more than usual. The prospect of a middle actually seems like a pretty good investment, especially now that the two-point conversion has made score differentials like 5 and 2 much more common. For those who are unfamiliar with how a middle works, it’s pretty simple.  Imagine the spread opens at -6.5 on Monday, and you put a $11 bet down on the favorite, standing to win $10. Everyone else does too, so the book gets spooked and moves the line to -7.5 by Thursday in hopes of getting more people to bet on the underdog. If you then put in another $11 bet on the underdog, it won’t matter what the final score is – the most you can possibly lose is $1 (if you lose one bet, you’ll win the other – laying down $22 and getting $21 back). But on the slim chance that the game is decided by a single touchdown, your favorite bet (-6.5) will win $10, and your underdog bet (+7.5) will also win $10, for a total of $20. So basically you’re taking a 20 to 1 shot that the spread is going to be exactly right.

The question then becomes one of how often the “middle” actually pays off.  According to my database, the spread is exactly right only about once per 30 games.  Of course, since a good portion of the time the spread includes a half-point to prevent pushes, and if you’re playing for a middle you’re most likely going to have a half-point on each side (bets of, let’s say, -3.5 on the favorite and +4.5 on the underdog), it’s important to include games where the spread is correct to within half a point.  Games which (with the spread factored in) are decided by a half point or less are much more common – they occur once every 16 games.  So in principle if it’s possible to get a middle, it’s probably worth taking a shot at it.  Of course, since I don’t normally put my bets in until Friday, it’s not something I expect to be attempting this year – but in the future if I see a lot of line movement late in the week like we did with the New Orleans game, I might give it a shot.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed my digression here.  I’ll be back with another top 5 feature next week – and if you haven’t watched it yet, and you like to watch hot chicks talk about Dungeons and Dragons, you should go watch the video that Shi Ne (aka The Sports Report Girl) put together for last week’s Halloween post.  Here are the week’s picks, along with a nifty printable summary sheet so you can follow both Gamblor’s and my own predictions at home, if you happen to be so inclined.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS
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ATLANTA FALCONS
Gamblor’s Pick: Washington (+10)
Bet Amount: $31.18 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: Washington’s defense put forward a spectacular effort against Philadelphia, but it wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for their lack of offense. And they’ll be able to keep Matt Ryan and Michael Turner in check much the same way. Atlanta is going to be suffering a tremendous letdown after such a fierce effort against the Saints. This game will mean a lot more to the Redskins, who will be able to actually put forward a competitive effort this time around. It’s hard to have faith in such a poorly-managed squad, but if Vegas thought this game was going to be a blowout, they’d have made the spread a lot bigger.
ARIZONA CARDINALS
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CHICAGO BEARS
Gamblor’s Pick: Arizona (+3)
Bet Amount: $0.56 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Chicago looks to be getting together after a healthy dose of Cleveland’s Miracle Rejuvenation Tonic, while the weaknesses that Arizona has successfully concealed for much of the season were on full display against Carolina last week. My feelings on this game aren’t all that strong, but I do think Old Man Warner’s arthritic hip will act up in the cold and Sulky Jay will be looking forward to the upcoming winter of discontent enough to deliver a solid outing. My only concern is that the line feels a little trappy – with Chicago’s strong day against Cleveland and Arizona’s woes against Carolina, expect lots of money on Chicago.
BALTIMORE RAVENS
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CINCINNATI BENGALS
Gamblor’s Pick: Cincinnati (+3)
Bet Amount: $8.26 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: Baltimore certainly looked like a complete team against Denver, but they won’t be able to run the ball nearly as well against Cincinnati’s ground defense forces. Chicago couldn’t. Houston couldn’t. And oh yeah, Baltimore couldn’t either when these teams met in Week 5. I’m not sure why Vegas is giving Baltimore the edge here.  Sure, revenge is a factor, but enough to flip the home-field advantage for two divisional rivals who sport a similar record? Gamblor actually thinks this line isn’t too far off from where it belongs, but it irks me (and the Bengals, no doubt) to see Cincinnati coming off a 45-10 thumping of a solid Chicago team and a week of rest to be viewed as underdogs at home against a team they have already beaten.
HOUSTON TEXANS
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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Gamblor’s Pick: Houston (+9)
Bet Amount: $30.81 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Sure, I know I said I’d keep picking Indianapolis until someone proved me wrong, but that didn’t mean that I’d stop picking them for good once it happened. Houston’s defense is way too soft to contain Peyton Manning – he’ll torch them and Schaub won’t be able to keep up – and might even end up getting hurt trying.
MIAMI DOLPHINS
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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Gamblor’s Pick: Miami (+10.5)
Bet Amount: $3.38 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: New England has looked great lately – even in London, where I thought they’d show up flat. Miami managed to beat the Jets, but I doubt they’d have pulled that off without three huge plays from their defense and special teams (a fumble returned for a touchdown by Jason Taylor and the two kickoff returns by Ted Ginn). Bill Belichick will have watched the tape of the Saints game enough times during his week off to recite each play from memory, and he’s got the personnel to imitate Sean Payton’s game plan exactly. Should be a very easy win for the Patriots.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
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TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Tampa Bay (+9.5)
Bet Amount: $42.08 (Hedge and Flip – 92%)
WHY I AGREE: Tampa is going to win a game sooner or later this season. And of course it won’t be here. But Gamblor sees this line as an out-and-out trap and I can’t disagree – especially since I’ve seen the line move down from its original value of +10. This is the only great (okay…decent) vs. horrible machup this week, and lots of bettors will be dumping money into Green Bay as a result. I don’t have any genuine answers for how Tampa will manage to stay close with the Packers (um…let’s say desperation?) but I firmly believe the result of this game will surprise a lot of people.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Gamblor’s Pick: Jacksonville (-6.5)
Bet Amount: $22.92 (Flip – 90%)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Jacksonville has shown that they’re capable of being competitive in games against tough teams – let’s not forget that nobody has come closer to beating the Colts this season. Then again, they got pummelled 41-0 in Seattle and only just barely beat St. Louis before losing to the winless Titans. Kansas City hasn’t proven a damned thing. But they haven’t really had a chance to – their schedule has included Baltimore, Philadelphia, the New York Giants, Dallas, and San Diego – and they beat Washington and should have beaten the Raiders, too. Jacksonville is nowhere near good enough to lay these kinds of points, even at home. Which, incidentally, is exactly how Gamblor sees it – but I’m personally envisioning a different outcome and a much closer game.
DETROIT LIONS
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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Gamblor’s Pick: Detroit (+10)
Bet Amount: $31.75 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: I’m not even entirely sure Seattle can beat Detroit, let along rout them as this line suggests. I know Seattle is supposed to be great at home, but a home crowd only really helps a good team – it doesn’t do much for a lousy one (just ask Kansas City or the Lions). The public consistently underestimates Oakland’s ability to keep games close (myself included), and I think Seattle is their mirror image in this regard. Everyone expects the Seahawks to serve up a magnificent offensive performance and blow away their opponents whenever Hasselbeck is healthy, and sometimes they do, but more often they serve up a generous helping of disappointment. Seattle has got a good track record against weak teams so far this year (beating Jacksonville 41-0 and rolling over St. Louis 28-0) but Detroit’s offense should keep them in this game. There’s no way I’m laying 10 points with a 2-5 team – even when they’re playing against a 1-6 one.
CAROLINA PANTHERS
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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Gamblor’s Pick: Carolina (+13)
Bet Amount: $26.30 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Who or what on earth can stop Drew Brees? A Robotech warrior made of out kryptonite piloted by Chuck Yeager? A defense that includes six down linemen, nine linebackers, and a secondary featuring fourteen steroid-enhanced hybrid clones of Ronnie Lott and Darrell Green? I think it would be kind of funny if Thomas Morestead (the Saints’ punter) waited until halftime to show up for one of their games, just to see if anyone would notice. I’m not happy taking anything less than 14.5 points against the Saints, so I’m picking them yet again here.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
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NEW YORK GIANTS
Gamblor’s Pick: San Diego (+4.5)
Bet Amount: $10.33 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: It all seems to be coming together for San Diego right now, and it seems an awful lot like they’re stealing it from the New York Giants. Shawne Merriman has finally emerged bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from his tequila-induced slumber, Rivers is remembering that as long as he puts enough air under the ball one of his behemoth receivers will pull it down, and Darren Sproles will be getting more and more carries as Ladanian Tomlinson’s age continues to show. By contrast, Eli Manning and the Giants can’t seem to anything right lately and I swear Tom Coughlin is getting more senile by the hour. Curiously, the line for this game opened at 3.5 and has moved to 4.5 in response to the public’s enthusiasm for the Giants, so this would have been one of those “middle” opportunities I was discussing earlier, with the target being a 4 point Giants victory. That’s a very real possibility here.
TENNESSEE TITANS
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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Tennessee (+4)
Bet Amount: $70.44 (Hedge and Flip – 92%)
WHY I AGREE: By a curious coincidence, this game also featured another middle opportunity – the spread opened at -5.5, meaning that a bet on Tennessee followed by a similar bet on San Francisco with the new spread of -4 would pay off double if the Niners won by 5 points. But I actually don’t think that’s likely to happen – I think there’s a very strong possibility that Tennessee is going to win this game. It’s certainly true that they’re only just starting to dig out from the colossal hole they have found themselves in since the beginning of the season, but they have to be feeling quite fine about their 30-13 rout of Jacksonville last week. Having Vince Young under center is going to give them as sense of “New Directions” style glee, and they’ll be facing a San Francisco team that just had their heart broken by Indianapolis. The Titans couldn’t stop Maurice Jones-Drew, but the 49ers don’t have anyone who is healthy or good enough to duplicate that feat, so they’ll have to depend on Alex Smith to get their offense moving. He won’t lose the game for him, but he won’t win it either. And Vince Young is primed to become the next coming of Steve McNair – win quietly, win close, win ugly…but just win.
DALLAS COWBOYS
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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Gamblor’s Pick: Dallas (+3)
Bet Amount: $9.02 (Flip – 86%)
WHY I AGREE: I’m still not convinced about the Eagles. They always seem to surprise everyone when the odds are stacked against them, but suffer a huge letdown when expectations are high. Factoring in the home field advantage, the spread tells me that this game should be a toss-up. Dallas has a lot of offensive talent, but didn’t hold up well against the Giants. And considering how thoroughly the Eagles dominated the Giants last week, it’s easy to envision a solid win for the Eagles. But I don’t see that happening here – Andy Reid will find some way to blow it. Hopefully the Cowboys are smart enough to actually send someone with DeSean Jackson goes deep (there is NO excuse for the Giants failing to shut him down after seeing him burn the Redskins), and they’ll be able to pull out an exciting win.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS
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DENVER BRONCOS
Gamblor’s Pick: Pittsburgh (-3)
Bet Amount: $15.22 (Flip Conflict – 90%)
WHY I AGREE: Denver has come back to earth with a resounding thud. Pittsburgh knows how to beat the Ravens, and they also know how to imitate them. Denver’s weaknesses were very much on display last week. The Stellers will blitz Kyle Orton relentlessly, and he’s too methodical to be able to take advantage of the man coverage. They’ll get to him a lot. Ben Roethlesberger will helm a characteristically chaotic game, and the Steelers might only win by a few points, but they’ll definitely win.

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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

Total

57

58

1

54

61

1

5439

10691

50.9%

-$34.33

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