My mother-in-law has a horse and a donkey. Their names are Peanut and Moonshadow. They're very big, very cute, poop a ton, and live to eat hay. I mean they absolutely love the stuff. Would they rather eat apples and carrots and cookies? I don't know, but even after eating those things, they still love to eat hay. They go nuts for the stuff. When the chore of feeding them falls upon me, even if I'm just a few minutes late, Peanut and Moonie start banging up against the corral and whinnying like a couple of junkies.
What amazes me is the enthusiasm with which they receive the hay - the same exact hay they've been eating three times a day for the past decade. Snorting and bucking and naying, they get all excited as I toss out the dry, flaky pieces of...the exact same hay they had three hours ago. If I walk by the corral between feedings they're at the fence line as if to say, "Got some of that hay, got any of that delicious golden, yummy hay? Do you? Do you? Do you?" It's unbelievable.
Until I remember how I feel on Tuesday morning, with the last bits of Monday Night Football still coursing through my veins, and three long days until Thursday. Got any football? Got any football? Got any delicious, fast-paced, helmet-flying, concussion-causing, spread-determining football? C'mon man. I need some football.
Well, it's Thursday at last. We posted our Jets-Pats Thursday night picks already, and here come the rest of them.
Can I get a "Ha-aay."
Preseason Stats: 29-19 ATS; 13-3 O/U
Regular Season to Date: 4-11-1 ATS; 11-5 O/U
HOME TEAMS IN CAPS, winners bold, and all of our Expert Picks back at The Spread Zone.
San Diego Chargers (+7.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: It's a Christmas day miracle, everyone. Chip Kelly's offense isn't just for college kids anymore. It's amazing. It's beautiful. It's the second coming of...well, nothing we've ever seen before, so it's really a first coming. Climb on the bandwagon - there's plenty of room for everyone. Hey, can you move over a little? This guy wants to get on, too.
That's right, Chip Kelly and his high-falutin', super-secret offense scored 33 points in 32 minutes, embarrassing the defending NFC East champion Washington Redskins on Monday Night. After that, however, they scored zero points for the rest of the game as their low-falutin', super-secret defense let the Redskins back into the game with three touchdowns in the last 16 minutes. Sound familiar? That's because the exact same thing happened in San Diego three hours later. The only difference - San Diego was playing a better team and lost. There should be no line here. Also, San Diego has hit the OVER in six of their last seven road games while Philly - even before Kelly - was a regular OVER at home. Did you know the last four teams to open play Philly in their season opener went on to win the Super Bowl. Start planning the parade San Diego. Take the points, and the OVER 54.5.
Expert Picks: 4-1 Chargers
Cleveland Browns (+6.5) over BALTIMORE RAVENS: Miami cornerbacks Dimitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll both had high praise for the arm of Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden. "The one Carroll got was a better spiral," said Patterson, "but we both agree that all three throws were some of the hardest we've ever intercepted." Having shaken off the early season jitters and studied his color chart fastidiously - brown, brown, brown - we're confident the young-ish 29 year-old sophomore will make better decisions in Baltimore this week - like handing the ball to Trent Richardson.
I'd feel better with the extra half point here, but that's why they call it the hook. Four out of Baltimore's last five games against the AFC North have stayed UNDER the total, while the last OVER between these two teams was in September of 2010 when they reached a staggering combined 41 points. With all four AFC North teams losing last week, the Cleveland Browns are playing for sole possession of first place, people. That hasn't happened in like...EVER. Take the points and take the UNDER 43.5.
Expert Picks: 3-2 Browns
HOUSTON TEXANS (-9) over Tennessee Titans: If there's anything we should have learned from last week, it's to stay away from the favorite with big lines. Unfortunately, we're not that smart. Houston has owned this series in recent history, winning 5 of 6 against the number with the OVER hitting in four of their last five meetings. This is opening day at home for a Texans team that not only managed to escape defeat last week in San Diego but has set the bar very high for themselves the past couple of years. Am I just mad at myself for drafting Chris Johnson? Maybe, but I still say lay the points, take the OVER 43.
Expert Picks: 3-2 Titans
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-2.5) over Miami Dolphins: This is one of the tougher games on the schedule to cap this week, which is why we're playing it safe and hoping to get Luck-y at home. Andrew Luck has not lost at home since September of last year when the Colts were upset by the Jags in the third game of the 2012 season. Since then, he is 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS, failing for the first time last week as 11 point favorites against the Oakland Raiders.
Miami, on the other hand, broke a four game road SU/ATS losing streak when they beat the Cleveland Browns last week. Are you really reading too much into that? The more compelling stat is that the UNDER has hit in 6 of Miami's last 7 road games, so they do play tough - just not quite tough enough to win. Lay the points and take the UNDER 42.5.
Expert Picks: 4-1 Colts
Carolina Panthers (-3) over BUFFALO BILLS: Why isn't anyone jumping on the Bills bandwagon after they pulled off the unlikely miracle cover last week against the New England Patriots? Because at the end of the day, the Patriots made tons of mistakes, the Bills didn't, and they still lost the game. Can I get another Hallelujah for Chip Kelly?
The Carolina Panthers have one of the more underrated defenses in the league. They shut down Russell Wilson and the Seahawks last week - also in a loss - and they should be able to put enough pressure on Bills rookie QB EJ Manuel to force a couple of early mistakes. The Bills of late have been hitting the UNDER a lot, and I don't see that changing on Sunday. Lay the points on the road and take the UNDER 44.
Expert Picks: 4-1 Panthers
ATLANTA FALCONS (-6.5) over St. Louis Rams: Jared Cook had a coming out party last week in St. Louis and on both of my fantasy teams, but it was all just barely enough to beat the Arizona Cardinals at home. The defending NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons, on the other hand, are coming off of a disappointing, goal-line standing, NFC championship-reminiscent loss to their once-again division rival New Orleans Saints. Yes, the Rams have been stellar against the number on the road of late going 3-1-1 SU while covering all 5 games, but this game sets up nicely to be a bit of a letdown after eking out a non-covering home win against a division rival.
Atlanta was 6-2 SU at home last year, but only 3-5 against the number with the UNDER surprisingly hitting in 6 of those games. Numbers may not lie, but they don't always tell the whole story either. We're ignoring all of these stats and going with the Falcons at home and the OVER 47.5 in a bit of a shootout.
Expert Picks: 3-2 Rams
GREEN BAY PACKERS (-7.5) over WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Although RGIII got his preseason snaps in during the first half of last week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he still never looked entirely comfortable inside or outside the pocket. There seemed to be uncertainty in what he could or could not do, and that type of indecisiveness will turn Operation Patience into Operation Punishment up in Wisconsin. Green Bay is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games, and although
they've hit the UNDER in 4 of their last 6 home games, those were in the cold autumn and winter months. This is September for crying out loud. Give the 'Skins the points and watch the teams put up 50+. Green Bay 31-21
Expert Picks: 5-0 Packers
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-3) over Dallas Cowboys: We admit it. Kansas City is a blind spot. We know it was just the Jags they beat last week, we know it's why their defense is flying off the fantasy waiver wire, and we know that Alex Smith did not transform into an elite quarterback overnight. We also know that even as 2-14 team last year, the Chiefs finished the season 3-3 ATS at home with the UNDER going 4-1-1 in those games. Besides, could they have possibly hired a coach that knows how to deal with the 'Boys better than Andy Reid? Dallas also fared well against the number last year, going 5-3 ATS on the road with the UNDER hitting 6 times in 8 games. We give a slight lean towards laying the points and a heavy lean towards the UNDER 46.5.
Expert Picks: 3-2 Chiefs
CHICAGO BEARS (-6) over Minnesota Vikings: Ugh. We've read this script, seen this movie, and it isn't pretty. This will be an incredibly boring field position battle all day long as Minnesota's front four pressures Jay Cutler into mistakes that will be someone else's fault and Adrian Peterson gets lots of short carries with a few medium-sized ones sprinkled in. The score will be 13-3 at the half, and the Bears will run away with it in the second half, winning 23-13. Chicago has owned Minnesota at home, outscoring them 77-20 in their past two visits to the Windy City, and against division rivals at home the Bears have hit the UNDER in 6 of their last 7 games.
The Bears have also won 6 of 7 of their last matchups, and Minnesota has only won two games (2-11) in Chicago since 2000, the last one coming in 2007. The average margin of victory against the Vikings since Cutler arrived is 16.75 points. Plus, over the past 11 seasons, the Vikings have only averaged 1.45 wins/year outdoors, including losing all five outdoor contests last year.Give up the points and bet UNDER 42.
Expert Picks: 4-1 Bears
New Orleans Saints (-3) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: The New Orleans Saints are back and they let the NFL world know not only with a 23-17 win over division foe Atlanta but with a goal-line stand inspired by new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan whom they hired "five minutes" after he was let go by the Cowboys. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, spent last weekend in New York finding new and exciting ways to lose. A late hit penalty put the Jets in field goal range and sent the Bucs spiraling towards what appears to be another dismal start. Our surprising pick here is not the Saints, but the UNDER. The Bucs do play tough defense at home and couple that with Ryan's new schemes in New Orleans and we might have a final score something like 27-17 Saints. Save the cheerleader, save the world. Lay the points and take the UNDER 47.
Expert Picks: 5-0 Saints
Detroit Lions (-1.5) over ARIZONA CARDINALS: When the Arizona met Detroit Lions in last December's Underachievment Bowl, the Lions were spiraling out of control while the Cardinals were looking for a way to stop the bleeding. Turns out Lion fur is a wonderful haemostatic agent (medication used to stop bleeding). The Cards pummeled the Lions at home 38-10. Enter Reggie Bush. Exit repeat performance. This game will not appear in our Friday Five, but will appear in the Sports Center Top Ten as Bush breaks another long touchdown for Detroit. I also like the OVER here. The Lions should have put up another 21 points against the Vikings and Arizona has Carson Palmer behind center now. Although both teams have solid defenses, I think this will end up being a late score wins the game in a shootout type dealie. Take the Lions and the OVER 47.5.
Expert Picks: 4-1 Lions
Jacksonville Jaguars (+5.5) over OAKLAND RAIDERS: As well as they played last week in Indianapolis, we're not ready to say the Raiders are worthy of this many points against anyone - even the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. This is like the moldy hay you sometimes get in the middle of the winter. It smells funky, it sticks together rather than falling apart easily into flakes, but you know what - the horse and donkey still eat it anyway. In fact, they love it. Take the road dog and the UNDER 39.5.
Expert Picks: 4-1 Jaguars
NEW YORK GIANTS (+4.5) over Denver Broncos: Ah, the good old Aw Shucks Golly Bowl. This feels like an annual event, but the truth is Peyton and Eli haven't seen each other since 2010 when Peyton's Indianapolis Colts handed the Giants a 38-14 shellacking. Since then, Eli has won another Super Bowl and Peyton has been traded to the Denver Broncos. If you haven't seen Peyton and Eli's "Football on Your Phone" Direct TV promo, then you must:
Last week the Giants looked awful. Six turnovers, no running game, and they were still hanging around the Cowboys on the road. Meanwhile, in Bronco-land, Denver was lighting up the Ravens to the tune of 5 second half TDs and a 49-27 final score. We believe Denver is good, but we also believe this number is slightly inflated because of the performances of both these teams last week. Give up the points and take the OVER 55.
Expert Picks: 4-1 Denver - what do they know?
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-3) over San Francisco Forty Niners: Trendy pick here would be the Forty Niners after the Kaeped Crusader threw for 400+ yards and new addition Anquan Boldin caught half of those yards in a convincing home win over the Green Bay Packers. Granted Seattle struggled on the road, but they also won which is more than we could say for them last year when away from the safe confines of CenturyLink Field. This game has been anticipated since last season when the 'Hawks put the hurt on the Forty Niners 42-13 last December. This game will look nothing like that, but the result will be a Seahawks win and cover as they continue their home dominance. Give up the field goal and watch a surprising OVER 44.5.
Expert Picks: 3-2 Seattle
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (+7) over Cincinnati Bengals: The Cincinnati Bengals have been to the playoffs two years in a row and are some analysts favorite to with the AFC North The Pittsburgh Steelers are a perennial playoff team and are always a favorite to win the AFC North. Last week the Bengals lost a tough road game in Chicago while the Steelers layed an egg at home in an embarrassing loss to the Tennessee Titans. Now the Steelers are done, the Bengals should coast to the playoffs again, and Big Ben is just a stupid clock in England, right? Wrong. The Steelers are a prideful organization with a top ten defense, a Hall of Fame quarterback, and a 5-1 SU/ATS record against Cincinnati the past three seasons. Plus it's Monday Night Football. No way the Steelers get embarrassed again. We like them to cover, win, and keep this game UNDER 40.5.
Expert Picks: 3-2 Cincinnati
I know what you're thinking - that a lot of favorites. Here's the thing, with ten favorites and six dogs this week, if we nail the dogs we're looking at 14-2 ATS week. How's that for confidence in the wake of tragedy?
That's all the ha-ay this week fellow horses and mules. Spread it out, make it last, and most importantly enjoy the heck out of it.
Tune in tomorrow for our Friday Five promo and the Professor of Parlay's Picks of the Week. Oh, and if you run into any TSZ Insiders at The Spread Zone this weekend, remember to thank them for sharing their Thursday and Monday Night picks.
Good luck out there,
Vinny and Marco