Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rambling Gambler: Pick Six Week FIVE

Ramblings and Gambling:
By Erik Laurinovics, for The Football ERA

This season is beginning to feel long. I was at the sports book of the Las Vegas Hilton this past Sunday, and I don't think I heard anyone talking about winning a bet, other than a couple of Jets fans. I overheard nothing but conversations of busted parlays and teasers, and I felt the same pain. No one has been completely reliable this year, and we're down to one undefeated team in week 5. It's been difficult to survive in the inconsistency of this season, but hopefully some teams will settle down soon and give us a consistent identity for at least a few weeks.

Here's the damage from last week:


GREENBAY -14.5 over Detroit: So things seemed good at 28-14, and then, magically, the Packer offense disappears, reappearing only very occasionally to give the Lions the ball. Someone turned on the cruise control a bit too early, and blew it for everyone.
Cincinnati over CLEVELAND: There are really no excuses for this game. I watched the whole thing, and the Browns were really in control throughout. The score was close, but you never got the feeling that Cincinnati could win the game. I was surprised.
Indianapolis over JACKSONVILLE: Yes, I know the Jags always play Indy tough, and are always a threat to cover in these games. I yes, I knew that before the past week. This Jacksonville team seemed bad enough to buck the trend of close games between these two, but they found a way to win.
NEW ORLEANS -13.5 over Carolina: At home against a bad team and... nothing. In fact, the Saints nearly lost outright. What the hell? Where in the world is last year's offense? I can't imagine Mike Bell took it. Lousy Saints.


NY Jets -5.5 over BUFFALO: Apparently betting against Buffalo works every other time.
Baltimore +1.5 over PITTSBURGH: Ah, vindication. I finally got one against Pittsburgh! Great game to watch, and Baltimore really handled Pittsburgh well and controlled most of the game. Now, when Ben Roethlisberger comes back, it'll be another story. The Steelers will be scary when he's leading the offense.

2010 Overall Record: 9-14-1

Picks of this week...

Minnesota +3.5 over NEW YORK JETS

You can put me down as a believer in the Randy Moss trade, as this is the sole reason for this pick. Do you remember how Randy Moss did after the Oakland trade? If rumor is true, and he was unhappy in New England, I think we can expect a big production increase in Minnesota. Immediately, it will allow Percy Harvin to get open more and open running lanes for AP. When/if Sidney Rice comes back, this offense will be loaded. The trade immediately makes Minnesota much more effective on offense, and makes this pick a bit easier. The Jets are not going to run for 200+ on the Williams' Wall and that will put the game squarely on Mark Sanchez. While he may have some success, he won't be able to outgun Favre, Moss, and AP. Even if the Jets somehow win, I don't see them covering more than a field goal.

San Diego -6.5 over OAKLAND

Common sense would dictate to avoid San Diego this week, as they seem to lose every other week, yet I'll return, like a moth to the flame... waiting to burn... In all seriousness, though, we really need to downgrade our expectations about Oakland. They were a trendy pick to improve, and yes, I thought they would too, but Jason Campbell did not work out, and Bruce Gradkowski is still Bruce Gradkowski. Houston dismantled Oakland fairly easily, and the Raiders could not keep up, even though Houston has the worst secondary in the league. San Diego somehow comes into this game with the top ranked defense, and given that, I think the Raiders will have a difficult time scoring points. The San Diego offense, on paper, should do quite well. Of course, on paper, they should have done quite well against KC and Seattle. I think any pick on the Chargers requires a bit of faith at this point, but I think this is the week faith may be rewarded. Oakland is becoming less and less effective while the Chargers seem to be picking up steam. Oh yeah, and McFadden is out this week. He's been an integral part of the Raider offense and a top back so far this season. They'll miss him. San Diego can cover a TD.

St. Louis +2.5 over DETROIT

Don't look now, but the Rams are 3-0-1 against the spread! Other little known facts about the Rams: 19th ranked passing, 21st rushing. 21st ranked pass defense, 20th ranked against the run. Not bad for a team widely considered to be the worst in the league. Sam Bradford has improved that offense. Bradford's numbers are in fact quite remarkable, and if he sustains his level of play, he'll have a shot at breaking Dan Marino's YPG record for a rookie QB. While the Rams defense is still yielding yards, they are not yielding points, surrendering the fourth lowest points per game average at 13.0. Though Detroit may have impressed against Green Bay, they were unable to capitalize on their many opportunities and lost the game as a consequence. Green Bay showed that Detroit's offense is containable, even if Calvin Johnson has a huge game. With Stafford out, Detroit has been unable to generate a consistent attack. I wouldn't really be surprised if this game was a low-scoring, ball-control affair or a high-flying shootout, but I think either way, the Rams will come out on top. They are keeping themselves in games and have already managed to put away a couple. Detroit is another beatable foe.


Is the anti-Chris Johnson blueprint out? He's now been held to 34 yards against Pittsburgh and 53 yards against Denver, ranked 1st and 12th against the run, respectively. CJ dropped 142 and 125 against Oakland and the Giants, ranked 31st and 22nd against the run. Tennessee lost ATS against Pittsburgh and Denver, and won ATS against NYG and Oakland. I don't think any one team is more dependent on one player than the Tennessee Titans. Vince Young is still not a NFL caliber quarterback, and has not topped 173 yards so far this year. That entire offense IS Chris Johnson. Dallas enters this game ranked 8th against the run, and I'm betting that they can slow CJ down enough to win the game and cover. The Cowboys should be able to force turnovers and create opportunities, just like the Steelers and Broncos. This is the most offensively talented opponent the Titans have faced this season and I think their defense will be exposed a bit this week. If the Cowboy offense can maintain momentum from their performance against the Texans, they may be able to run away with this one early.

Green Bay -2.5 over WASHINGTON

The Packers are on a bit of a slide the past couple of weeks, going 0-2 ATS against Chicago and Detroit. However, these were both division games, and the Pack is also 2-0 ATS against non-division opponents (Philly and Buffalo). Watching the Packers play the Lions, it's hard to come up with an explanation for that type of meltdown. The offense imploded in the second half with three turnovers and zero points. Given the number of opportunties Detroit had, I thought the defense actually played as well as could be expected in that situation and at least prevented the Lions from stealing that game. Still, Green Bay is becoming a bit harder to bet on after the past two weeks and mounting injuries to the defense, and this line is a reflection of that. Washington also won last week, but it didn't look pretty. McNabb threw for 125 yards, and the ground game generated a solid 169 yards, but outside of the first quarter, they couldn't put points on the board. Bear in mind, this was against a less-than-impressive Eagles D, and Kevin Kolb, who is making me wonder how he was ever annointed a starter in the first place. We KNOW the Green Bay offense is good. We do not know the same about Washington, and on top of that, their defense is ranked 31st in the league. I like Green Bay on the money line, and based on the matchups, I think covering 2.5 won't be a problem. In what looks to be another tough week, this pick looks even better.

Houston -2.5 over NEW YORK GIANTS

This may seem a little counter intuitive at first, as the Giants have the 2nd ranked pass defense and their 9th ranked passing offense gets to face the worst secondary in the league. However, I think this comes down to the Houston run game and Arian Foster. Last week, Houston faced Oakland and won easily. Oakland currently has the 3rd overall pass defense, but ranks 31st against the run. Houston took advantage, gaining 249 yards on the ground, and Schaub was an efficient 192/2/0. If you watched the game, despite the score, you could see that Oakland never had a chance. They could not slow Houston down. I expect similar results against New York. The Giants come in with the 22nd overall run defense, so we'll see how they do containing Arian Foster. He's looked unstoppable. This game will definitely be a shootout, and the Giants should be able to throw all day long. Turnovers will be key, and the Giants hold a turnover differential of -4, with a shocking 13 giveaways threw 4 games. The Texans are -1, with 5 giveaways on the season. Sloppy play will lose this game as both offenses will capitalize. The Texans will control the ground game and take better care of the ball, and will cover a field goal if they continue to do so.

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