LAST WEEK: 8-8 ATS - Seventh straight week at/above .500
SEASON TO DATE: 98-79 ATS
THURSDAY THREE FAN PICKS: 1-2 ATS / 4-2 ATS on the season
FRIDAY FIVE CONFIDENCE PICKS:2-3 ATS last week, but still 21-10 ATS on the season.
Here's the link to this week's Friday Five:
One of the best things about sports is that it contains within it an infinite number of on-going soap operas, mini-series, comedies, dramas, ABC After School Specials - Why Ricky Took Ritalin - and even the occasional Broadway musical.
"When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way,
from the moment you stand up on media day
When you're a Jet if you step in some poo,
You've got fifty-four brothers pointing fingers at you.
If you make a mistake, son
You'd better atone
Because when you're a Jet, man
You're always alone."
Okay, that's all the fake lyric writing I have in me this morning, but I think Matt Stone and Trey Parker will be calling us very soon.
The various story lines in sports are what keep us interested. Do we love dynasties or do we love to hate them? Are we drawn in by the heart-warming tales of triumph, or do we prefer when Goliath comes along and rights the universal ship? Are we thrilled when players go down with life-threatening injuries, mumbling, "I'll bet he can't sexually assault girls now," or do we like to see historic rivals battling it out at full strength? Whatever your likes, dislikes, passions, or detestation, sports has it all.
Combine that with gambling and you have a well that will never run dry, because depending on where you're sitting the story changes. Last week we couldn't believe that the San Diego Chargers couldn't stop a fourth down and twenty-nine and will probably never trust them again. Half of you reading this might have a fonder memory of Ray Rice being the most amazing human athlete you've ever seen and have vowed to always take the Ravens no matter what. Well, this week (spoiler alert) - both of those perspectives are the right ones to have.
Within the various plots in sports, there are trends. As gamblers, we seek those out and scrutinize whether they're relevant or obscure. As we've discussed here at TSZ, blindly following historic numbers is a fools game, but there are certain statistics that are tough to argue with. Last week we read that teams favored by double digits playing against division rivals are 2-22 ATS and yet we still rolled the dice on the Denver Broncos thinking, "This is one of those two." This week Marco found a couple of compelling stats which we will include in our analysis, the most compelling of which was that after Week 10, teams with more rest win/cover 74% of the time. That is significant to us, and (second spoiler alert) explains several of our choices today.
Before we get to our picks, we have a couple of warm TSZ welcomes to make.
TSZ Welcomes: First of all, give mass media, scrutinizing, spotlight shining welcome to Jet Joe. It wasn't intentional, but now that I see the connection, the song above is for you Joe. We also have a new behind the scenes follower - Noah G. - who is a long time BFF of mine. His scintillating Thursday Three submission may have just landed him a TSZ job as Executive Director of One Liners. Glad you're here, buddy.
If you didn't read yesterday's post, remember that my mother-in-law says this will be the week of the "ground animal" - specifically cats. Meowwww.
Okay, let's get rolling on our Week 13 Picks ATS, which as usual begins with Thursday Night Football. And would you look at that - it's actually a good game. Somebody please post when the last time that happened. As usual, our picks come first with the line in parentheses and HOME TEAMS in CAPS.
Thursday Night Football
New Orleans Saints (+3.5) over ATLANTA FALCONS: The Saints are playing inspired, playoff-focused football, which is good because their playoff essentially begin tomorrow. We like Jacquizz Rodgers getting more touches for Atlanta, but no matter who gets the victory it won't be by a margin larger than three. Although Atlanta is 10-1, they've only beaten two teams with records above .500 - Denver in Week 2 and Tampa Bay last week - and at home they're average margin of victory is about 4 points. New Orleans resume isn't much stronger, but one of their two strong wins came against Atlanta three weeks ago. The numbers pit a Saints team that is 11-2 SU in its last 13 versus the Falcons (6-1 ATS within their division recently) against a Falcons team that is 16-3 SU in their last 19 as a favorite. In a dome, on turf, in a shootout, we'll take Drew Brees to keep it close enough to cover and probably win.
CHICAGO BEARS (-3.5) over Seattle Seahawks: The Seadderall Seahawks (thank you Noah G.) are going down in a blaze of secret methamphetamine use. Maybe that's why Pete Caroll looks so good at 61. With cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner out on suspension for violating the league's drug policy, a karmic retribution has now been dealt for the Replacement Ref blunder weeks ago. If there is reincarnation, Seattle will be coming back as a slow-moving water mascot like a manatee. As for Chicago, Brandon Marshall will go off against a secondary full of untreated ADHD backups as Seattle falls to 14-4-1 ATS in their last 19 as an underdog. Bears in a blowout at home.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5) over BUFFALO BILLS: Okay, okay. We like Kool Aid. We'll drink some. The Bills aren't talented enough to be favored by more than three points against any team in the NFL. The Jags are playing better football behind their new mustached leader Chad Henne and stud wideouts Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts. Even TE Mercedes Lewis is back to having fantasy value. Jacksonville is 6-0 ATS on the road this year and the road team has won 6 of the last 8 meetings between these two teams. Take the ground animal getting the points.
Carolina Panthers (-3.5) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Brady Quinn dates gymnast Alicia Sacramone resulting in a Curse of the Hot WAG.
SuperCam continues to date himself, which is a good omen for his land dwelling, cat team. The Panthers have also been very good on the road recently 7-2 ATS while the Chiefs can't even win in the confines of Arrowhead 3-13 SU over two seasons worth of home games. Panthers by a touchdown.
New England Patriots (-7.5) over MIAMI DOLPHINS: Marco's cousin coached Tom Brady's sister in soccer. Due to the three degrees of separation, Marco bets Brady covers every week. Vinny, on the other hand, is two degrees of Kevin Bacon from the "Dance Moms" woman who looks like a manatee. We were going to say push, but Marco won rock-paper-scissors. And this line is ridiculous. Can you say Friday Five preview? Only if you can also say, "Here's a frapaccino guys."
NEW YORK JETS (-4.5) over Arizona Cardinals: This is our first case of the Young and the Rested. With the extra down time/prep time, the Jets team will take advantage of a Kolb-less Cardinals offense. New York's RBs Greene and Powell will rush for a combined 200 yards as they control time of possession and the scoreboard. The Cardinals have never beaten the Jets in New York, but if you really want a solid bet, the Under is 10-3 in Arizona's last 13 road games.
Indianapolis Colts (+4.5) over DETROIT LIONS: Andrew Luck needs one more victory to break the record for most wins by a rookie QB taken #1 in the draft. This, along with a group of 6,000 shaved-headed senior citizens making the trip to D-town, will motivate the Colts as they continue to position themselves for playoffs. Although one of TSZs biggest fans points out that Luck has 14 turnovers and only 4 TDs on the road this year, we believe he will take care of the ball and keep this game close just long enough for Jim Schwartz to screw it up. The Lions are the only Young and Rested who won't rebound well after losing to Houston on Thanksgiving Day - a game I think we all agree they should have won...several times.
Minnesota Vikings (+9.5) over GREEN BAY PACKERS: Compelling stat alert - A team playing their second consecutive road game after losing the previous game on the road cover 60% of the time. Minnesota fits that criteria, plus that's a huge line for a division game against a team that if nothing else plays for pride well. We'll take that percentage along with the large point spread. Stats don't support this pick with Green Bay going 8-1 ATS in their last 9 division games and the Vikings stinking it up at 2-12 SU in their last 14, so if you're going to go you're own way, this might be one to do it with.
San Francisco Forty Niners (-7.5) over ST. LOUIS RAMS: They tied a few weeks ago, but this 49ers offense with rookie QB Colin Kaepernick is more explosive. Expect San Francisco to put up more points and give up fewer this time around. Your fake punts won't be enough this time, Jeff Fisher. Fool me once, shame on you. SF by at least two touchdowns. We're trying to create west coast media bias - please join the hype.
Houston Texans (-5.5) over TENNESSEE TITANS: Another rested team. Although the Texans are now 0-9 ATS after an OT game, we believe that streak comes to an end on Sunday. Cornerback Jonathan Joseph says he will play this week and he will greatly improve the struggling Houston secondary. With inverse ATS records within their division recently (Texans 8-2, Titans 2-8), this line feels too good to be true. This is cause for pause as we like to say here at TSZ, but we believe recent play and injuries drove this line down.
Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: You screwed us too many times ridiculously inconsistent Chargers. As Ron Burgundy would say "Go fuck yourself San Diego." Plus they are playing a ground animal. Hiss, hiss, grrrrrr. San Diego also sucks against the AFC North - 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10. Go Dalton, go Green, go to SoCal and stomp the crap out of the Philip and the Downward Spiral Gang.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7.5) over DENVER BRONCOS: Before betting lines were published, we looked at this match-up and agreed to take the Bucs if they got at or over a touchdown. Granted the Broncos have a better pass defense by a long shot, but Tampa Bay runs the ball well and stops the run better. They are the ATS Darlings of the NFL at 8-2-1 ATS on the season, 5-0 ATS in their last 5 road games, and 6-1-1 ATS as an underdog. We appreciate the more consistent Tampa Bay of 2012 and vow not to bet against them...this week.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (-1.5) over Cleveland Browns: Crack open a Dos Equis, Cleveland Browns, because you are officially the most interesting team in football. You grasp defeat from the jaws of victory, win games by fewer points than turnovers you create, are an ATS Bowl playoff contender, and are dwelling in the cellar at 3-8. Now, we'd like to introduce you to your West Coast Doppelganger - the Oakland Raiders - except for the competitive part of your character. Blast from the past, Colt McCoy is back and hasn't aged a bit. At fifteen, he is the youngest (looking) player in the league and still can't throw a completion, while the Raiders offense is ready to explode after so many deflating losses. Denarius Moore and Brandon Meyers lead the Oakland offensive attack as Carson Palmer gets a do-over and pretends the Browns are the Bengals.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-0.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers: Remember at the beginning of the season when Joe Flacco said he was one of the top QBs in the league? What a joke?! Flacco is now right under Cutler on our shit list. Put either one of them on Chiefs and see how elite they would feel. The Ravens do play better at home - haven't lost in 16 games, but they are a surprising 2-6 ATS in their last eight. Meanwhile, the Steelers are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 road games. Talk about a Shitty Stats Bowl. This is where the line is in our pool right now, so feel free to write with questions as it moves.
DALLAS COWBOYS (-7.5) over Philadelphia Eagles: Philadelphia has no Vick, no Desean Jackson and they waived Babin who leads the NFL in sacks since 2010. They also don't have anything to play for at this point. Dallas, on the other hand, is in the same boat as New Orleans - clinging to their playoff lives. Young and Rested, Romo and Bryant will put together their best game of the season at the right time, breaking the current Dallas streak of 0-8 ATS at home. Pathetic, right? Don't think Vegas doesn't know that you know that we know all of that shit. Cowboys put down the "pointy birds" once and for all.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (+2.5) over New York Giants: Very young and very rested, RG3 will give New York fits in the traditional "week off" after their "week on." The Giants are toying with the idea of playoff mode, but they already have 7 wins and know they probably only need three more with five to go. They pace themselves. The Redskins, on the other hand, are 4-0 ATS in their last four against the Giants and 9-2 ATS within their division. We think this is Las Vegas's reverse psychology with a 2.5 line that begs you to take the Giants. Now I'm really confused. Doesn't it hurt your brain sometimes.
So there you have it global TSZ readers, followers, or just plain fans. We hope you got something out of our picks. We always get something out of yours, so don't forget to submit your Thursday Three. The more submissions we get, the better your chances of winning. That's just plain science. Here's the outline in case you need it.
Vinny and Marco
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