Rebirth of Gamblor: Week 1 NFL Picks

Written by Football, Sports

A few months ago in a conversation with Sports Illustrated, “Game of Thrones” creator George R.R. Martin compared a few football teams to the major houses in his ongoing masterpiece.  For this year’s picks, I thought I’d extend this and match each NFL team with their Westeros equivalent.  To open things off, I’ll begin with one of the most powerful dynasties to ever rule the league (realm) – the Dallas Cowboys as House Targaryen.  They first came to power in the early nineties, winning three crowns through the offensive triumvirate of Troy Aikman (Vhagar), Emmitt Smith (Meraxes), and Michael Irvin (Balerion).  Despite having complete dominance over the kingdom, their power eventually waned due to the madness of their leader, Jerry Jones (Aerys II).  Jones feud with his most capable minion, coach Jimmy Johnson (Tywin Lannister) led to the latter’s departure, and the lack of a capable hand managing the franchise led to the Cowboys fall from dominance shortly thereafter.  Since then they have been living in exile, hoping for a return to glory.

By the end of last season, Gamblor had retreated to the fetid depths from which it had emerged, its neon claws having gone dull and its scaly hide leaking ichor from the relentless wounds inflicted by a vastly overrated Philadelphia Eagles franchise.  Last season was a strange one.  As I mentioned at some point last year, good teams were winning against the spread, and bad teams were losing against it.  And it wasn’t just teams that performing well over the course of the season (such as San Francisco, who was 11-4-1 against the spread) that were doing well, it was teams that were expected to perform well at the beginning of the season that kept on winning.  At the beginning of the 2011 season, if someone predicted Green Bay, New Orleans, or the New England to be in the Superbowl, it would have sounded pretty reasonable.  All of these teams were great against the spread – New England was 9-6-1, Green Bay was 11-5, and New Orleans was 12-4.  And betting the over on these teams – normally a bad idea if the line is set properly – paid off as well, as games involving these teams hit the over at a rate of 11-5, 11-5, and 9-7, respectively.  For the casual gambler who likes to bet on the favorites and thinks every game featuring a strong offensive team is going to be a shootout, this is free money.  For the “sharp” gambler, who looks at every short line suspiciously, it’s trouble.

It’s been theorized that one of the reasons that last season turned out the way it did was that the lockout prevented bad teams from making up any ground during training camp.  If that’s true, you’d expect things to return to normal this year.  Unfortunately, there’s really no telling how the replacement referees are going to affect things this year.  I just hope things work out better for the computer than they did last year.

Away   Home Spread Gamblor’s Pick Bet Amount Son of Gamblor’s Pick Bet Amount Overall Pick Overall Bet
DAL at NYG -4 DAL $18.59 DAL $18.59
IND at CHI -9.5 IND $7.49 IND $11.87 IND $19.37
PHI at CLE 9 PHI $0.86 PHI $2.26 PHI
BUF at NYJ -3 BUF $25.93 BUF $30.10 BUF $56.03
WAS at NOS -9.5 WAS $7.78 WAS $16.27 WAS $24.05
NEP at TEN 7 TEN $27.88 TEN $48.41 TEN $76.29
JAC at MIN -4.5 MIN $9.51 MIN $33.85 MIN $43.36
MIA at HOU -10 HOU $85.58 HOU $97.73 HOU $183.31
STL at DET -9 STL $0.14 STL
ATL at KAN 2.5 KAN $1.66 KAN
SNF at GNB -5.5 SNF $7.92 SNF $7.92
CAR at TAM 2.5 TAM $13.97 TAM $14.99 TAM $28.96
SEA at ARI 2.5 ARI $27.66 ARI $91.52 ARI $119.19
PIT at DEN -1 PIT $2.09 DEN $3.40 DEN
CIN at BAL -6 CIN $5.83 BAL $9.76 BAL
SND at OAK 1 OAK $6.70 OAK $6.70

flashfiller

DALLAS COWBOYS
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NEW YORK GIANTS
Computer’s Pick: Dallas (+4)
Bet Amount: $18.59 (Gamblor only)
COMMENTS: Statistically, the line for this game is pretty much where it’s supposed to be.  Dallas usually starts off the season relatively well, but they’re going to be off to a slower start than usual this year due to injuries.  Whereas the Giants finished last season on an incredible tear and don’t seem to have any reason not to pick up exactly where they left off.  To make matters worse for the Cowboys, nobody seems to be giving the Giants any respect.  I expect them to come out strong for the season opener, and make pretty quick work of the Cowboys.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
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CHICAGO BEARS
Computer’s Pick: Indianapolis (+9.5)
Bet Amount: $19.37 (Consensus)
COMMENTS: I really liked what I saw of Andrew Luck in the preseason, but he’s going to have a really hard time avoiding the Bears’ pass rush.  Indianapolis won’t be nearly as bad as they were last season, so I think they have a pretty good chance of covering the spread here, either by delivering a close game or by scoring a couple of garbage touchdowns late in the game.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
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CLEVELAND BROWNS
Computer’s Pick: Philadelphia (-9)
Bet Amount: $3.12 (Consensus)
COMMENTS: Once again, Philadelphia comes into the season overrated.  But the Browns are bad enough that it probably won’t matter.  Cleveland’s defense might be able to slow the Eagles down for a while, but repeated three-and-outs by the offense will mean they’ll spend too much time on the field and eventually wear down.  I think the Eagles will end the first half with a slim lead and end the game with a big one, enough to cover this pretty hefty spread.
BUFFALO BILLS
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NEW YORK JETS
Computer’s Pick: Buffalo (+3)
Bet Amount: $56.03 (Consensus)
COMMENTS: The computer thinks this line should be bigger, and while I don’t necessarily agree, I *do* like Buffalo’s chances here.  The Jets defense is good, but they’re at least familiar, and the Jets offense is going to be absolutely helpless this season.  The points are a gift here.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS
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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Computer’s Pick: Washington (+9.5)
Bet Amount: $24.05 (Consensus)
COMMENTS: RGIII is going to be fun to watch, but it’s a shame that his first game in the league will be against a good team that’s going to be in full-on F-YOU mode.  The Saints are going to want to make a statement with this game, and the Redskins will pay the price.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
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TENNESSEE TITANS
Computer’s Pick: Tennessee (+7)
Bet Amount: $76.29 (Consensus)
COMMENTS: The Patriots are usually automatic, and based on the stats I listed above, it’s a pretty bad idea to bet against them, even when they’re facing a big spread.  Foolish Gamblor.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
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MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Computer’s Pick: Minnesota (-4.5)
Bet Amount: $43.36 (Consensus)
COMMENTS: Jacksonville is going to be awful yet again this year, and I think Minnesota has a lot of potential to improve considerably.  If Percy Harvin can put together a few big plays, the Vikings should be able to dominate in this game.
MIAMI DOLPHINS
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HOUSTON TEXANS
Computer’s Pick: Houston (-10)
Bet Amount: $183.31 (Consensus)
COMMENTS: This one should be a blowout, and the computer is right to back Houston in this one.  Miami is going nowhere this season, while the Texans could be a Superbowl contender come January.  I’m probably starting Ben Tate as an RB2 because he’s basically going to get an entire second half of garbage-time touches.
SAINT LOUIS RAMS
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DETROIT LIONS
Computer’s Pick: St. Louis (+9)
Bet Amount: $0.14 (Gamblor only)
COMMENTS: Another blowout that the computer is smart enough to avoid.  I feel bad for Bradford here.
ATLANTA FALCONS
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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Computer’s Pick: Kansas City (+2.5)
Bet Amount: $1.66 (Gamblor only)
COMMENTS: I’m surprised that Atlanta isn’t favored by more, considering how sharp their offense has looked in the preseason.  This feels like it might be a trap – I’d personally choose avoid this one and I’m glad the computer feels the same way.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
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GREEN BAY PACKERS
Computer’s Pick: San Francisco (+5.5)
Bet Amount: $7.92 (Gamblor only)
COMMENTS: Green Bay hasn’t looked particularly sharp this preseason, but that doesn’t make me worried that they’ll be any less of an offensive force this season than they were last year.  I think San Francisco won’t be able to match last year’s performance – I think they’ll be regressing to the mean this year and finishing at 9-7 or so.  I like Green Bay to cover here.
CAROLINA PANTHERS
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TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Computer’s Pick: Tampa Bay (+2.5)
Bet Amount: $28.96 (Consensus)
COMMENTS: Does anyone care about this game?  When in doubt, take the points, as Gamblor demonstrates here.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
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ARIZONA CARDINALS
Computer’s Pick: Arizona (+2.5)
Bet Amount: $119.19 (Consensus)
COMMENTS: I’m not sure why I’m so high on Arizona this season, but I feel like they’re going to surprise a lot of people.  Seattle, on the other hand, will disappoint a lot of loyal fans. Russell Wilson isn’t going to be able to parlay his preseason success into regular season wins, in my opinion – certainly not so quickly.  This is a rare thing, but I actually like most of the computer’s picks this week.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS
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DENVER BRONCOS
Computer’s Pick: Denver (-1)
Bet Amount: $1.31 (Conflict)
COMMENTS: I’ve seen too many Peyton Manning wins to bet against him at this stage in his career.  We’ll see how durable he is, but he’s always been masterful at winning regular season games.  I think he’s going to start out his season in Denver with a big game.
CINCINNATI BENGALS
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BALTIMORE RAVENS
Computer’s Pick: Baltimore (-6)
Bet Amount: $3.92 (Conflict)
COMMENTS: The Bengals are ready to implode.  I think the Ravens will exacerbate their offensive issues and really humiliate them in this game.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
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OAKLAND RAIDERS
Computer’s Pick: Oakland (+1)
Bet Amount: $6.70 (Gamblor only)
COMMENTS: I’m crazy, but I like Oakland here.  Phillip Rivers looked terrible in preseason, and Oakland finally has decent management staff.  The Raiders aren’t going to be particularly good this season – in fact they’ll probably be pretty bad – but this is certainly a game they can win.