Monthly Archives: September 2016

BTL Week 4 NFL Picks

So me and Jon Snow have a few things in common. We both stand under six feet tall (rumors are the King in the North is maybe 5’7″), both of us look good in long hair (see my Dave Grohl phase circa 2012) and WE BOTH KNOW NOTHING!!!

6-10 against the spread in Week 3.  Pittsburgh the most reliable thing in the NFL (outside of NE) got lambasted by the second coming of Jesus Christ (Carson Wentz). The Rams somehow scored 37 points. And I forgot the holy grail of gambling rules; never take the West coast team traveling East and playing the morning game! Dammit Arizona, I knew you were frauds!!

I did say last week felt a little wonky. But wow, not even close on some of these. Which goes to show you, making gambling a life choice will land you on the street or in the cross-hairs of some very unsavory characters real quick. BUT, I do this for fun, so no Cousin Vinny looking to break my thumbs. Speaking of cousins, even the untouchable Cousin Sal is off to a slow start this season. Not as bad as me but hey, not everyone is perfect.

So I got a busy week coming up so I’m doing all my picks before the Thursday Night game (TNF), as to usually picking the Thursday game and then coming out with the remaining games Saturday morning.

Here we go, trust nothing except for Belicheck.

Last Week: 6-10 / To Date: 22-32 :/

(Pick in bold, home team in caps)

Dolphins +7.5 over BENGALS

The Bengals could very easily be 0-3 and really should be. Andy Dalton has been running for his life for the majority of the first three games. His offense is deprived of weapons and Miami brings a quality defense to town that should limit Cincinnati’s offensive upside. The Bengals  have failed to pull away from anyone lately and I don’t see why the Dolphins can’t stay within a touchdown of them. I like the Bengals to win but the Fins to cover.

COLTS -2.5 over Jaguars

The infamous London Game, this contest has marked the firing point for many coaches and GMs of years past. And it really couldn’t have drawn two better contestants to get possibly axed. The Colts barely escaped with the win last week thanks to a series of fortunate events that turned in their favor. The Jaguars are a dumpster fire and this loss may just put an end to one of the worst tenures by a head coach in NFL history! Now I don’t think either team is good enough to blowout the other and seal the coaching fate for the other side. However, one team has Andrew Luck and the other has Blake “I make my stats in garbage time” Bortles. Take Luck to win.

Titans +5 over TEXANS

It has been a rough week for Houston. First they get waxed on Thursday night by the Patriots. Then, their franchise cornerstone J.J. Watt gets put on IR for the year and his career may be in jeopardy. And now they’re laying 5 points at home? Sorry but I think the mental toll of the Pats ass-whipping combined with the Watt news has this team distracted. And it’s not like the Titans are bad, they hung with a top 5 Minnesota team in Week 1 until a couple of ball bounces didn’t go their way. They hung with Oakland last weekend as well. The Titans can run the ball and play good defense, that is a recipe to keep any game close. Take the points and I like the Titans to win.

Browns +7.5 over REDSKINS

The Browns are 0-3 but they have been more frisky than terrible. They hung with both Baltimore and Miami till the very end and their only no doubt loss came to what may be a top 5-7 Eagles team in Week 1. As for the Redskins, nothing in their first three games leaves me impressed. They look terrible and Cousins is the main reason for that, I just don’t see swallowing 7.5 at home for the Skins when they haven’t been able to separate from anyone of the last three weeks. These are two terrible teams and I expect it to be close. Grab the points and the Browns to cover, Redskins to win though, barely.

JETS + 2.5 over Seattle

This all depends on the health of Russell Wilson. That knee injury looked bad last week, I am surprised that he is even considering playing. With that said, this would’ve been a tough game even with Russell healthy as the Jets pass rush is likely to make life hell for any quarterback and Seattle’s Achilles Heel so far this season has been protecting Wilson. I know Ryan Fitzpatrick looked absolutely terrible last week and there is a strong chance Eric Decker misses this game BUT, I will not fall victim to my golden rule of gambling two weeks in a row! I’m picking against the West coast team traveling across country and playing the early game. This feels like an ugly war of attrition contest, and I like the Jets to cover and possibly win.

PATRIOTS over Bills

The line is even as we do not yet know if Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett or even Julian Edelman will be suiting up for quarterback. And it doesn’t matter, it will never matter because this is Belicheck and 16-0 is not out of the question this year. The Patriots are coming off a mini bye, they’re playing at home and going up against Rex Ryan who Belicheck has owned as of late. The Bills showed some spunk last week but Carson Palmer very well could have pulled a Ryan Fitzpatrick with his interceptions (6 instead of 4). The Pats don’t turn the ball over, their defense is probably the best version we’ve seen in years and Josh McDaniels is offensively light years ahead of whatever Rex might try to dial up. Pats at home to win and start 4-0 without Brady, if you don’t think that means something to Belicheck, then you don’t know him at all (not that I personally do but that sounded like a good line).

Panthers -3 over FALCONS

The Panthers have sputtered to a 1-2 start, eclipsing the total amount of losses they had in the entire 2015 season. But as Ron Rivera said, they haven’t played “a bunch of slappies” either. The Falcons looked good on MNF as they ran through, over and around the hapless Saints defense, then again, I think the local high school team could’ve that night. The Panthers are more talented, they have a legit defense to keep Atlanta’s running game in check and I think Cam breaks out with one of those Cam games. Gun to my head I can’t go with Atlanta as a home dog. Carolina in a touchdown win.

Raiders +3.5 over RAVENS

The Raiders grinded out a tough road win over Tennessee last weekend. Meanwhile, grinding it out seems to be the only thing Jon Harbaugh’s team can do lately. Baltimore is one of five undefeated teams left and they might just be the worst 3-0 team ever with squeakers over the Bills, Browns and Jaguars. Not exactly a murderers row of opponents. This is a game where the Raiders need to win to solidify their place in the upper tier of the AFC. And I think they can, just based on talent alone. But every year there is a team that somehow manages to stay undefeated that no one believes in, and the Ravens smell like that team. But, I just can’t lay the 3.5 points to a team that talent wise, is not on the Raiders level. Baltimore could squeak another one out, but I like the Raiders to cover.

Lions -3 over BEARS

The Bears are the #1 contender for worst team in the NFL. The Lions are not good but they aren’t that bad either. I know the Lions are without some of their biggest names on defense but I just don’t see how Chicago gets to 23 points without some type a day from hell from Matthew Stafford. It is a division game and nothing about Brian Hoyer and Alson “I’m questionable to play this week” Jeffrey scare me, not even with rookie Jordan Howard getting a full workload. Lions to win and win impressively.

Broncos -3 over BUCCANEERS

These are two teams I was completely wrong on entering the season. Most everybody talked themselves out of Denver repeating the same basic formula that led to the SB 50 win, kicking the living shit out of offenses week in and week out. I was on the Tampa hype train early and still think they have strides to make but if I were betting on this game, I’d look at one thing. The defenses. Denver is competing for the leagues best (with Minnesota) and Tampa has allowed nearly 34.0 points/game to start the season. Including letting the punch-less Rams put up 37 on them. I didn’t know that was humanly possible. Defense travels and QB Trevor Siemian might just be the latest in John Elway’s genius decisions that have made Denver’s roster a living nightmare for the rest of the league. Take Denver laying the 3 points.

CARDINALS -8 over Rams

Last week’s performance in Buffalo validates my gut feeling that Carson Palmer is not an elite QB. I think the Cardinals go as he goes and with him getting up there in age, he can’t be trusted week in and week out. I do trust Bruce Arians to have the words needed to get his team right in time for this week’s divisional tilt with the high flying Rams (sarcasm). This feels like a regression towards the mean game. I expect the Cardinals to lock up Gurley and force Case Keenum to beat them with Tavon Austin passes 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage (thats what $30 million guaranteed gets you Rams). Case Keenum forcing passes into that Cardinals secondary? This could get ugly quick. Take Arizona giving the 8.

CHARGERS -4 over Saints

It’s been a wonky year so far and maybe, just maybe the threat of relocation has riled up the SD fan base into making the Chargers a legit home field advantage again. Or maybe the Saints are fielding the worst defense we have ever seen. It’s a tough call. I don’t like the Saints traveling West and playing outdoors. I like the way Philip Rivers has operated the offense this year while losing cornerstones Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead. Despite Brees returning to San Diego for the first time sine he left, sometimes you just can’t outscore a bad defense. And Monday night’s showing has me convinced that the Saints may win maybe 4 games this year? Take the Bolts at home.

NINERS +2 over Cowboys

The Dez Bryant injury news continues to worsen. And after getting burned repeatedly the last two weeks by Carolina and Seattle (both on the road), maybe SF just needs some home cooking to get themselves back on track. Yes the Cowboys looked impressive last Sunday night, against the worst team in the league playing their backup QB, I would hope they played well. Something about this game tells me to go with the Niners. I think it is going to be a close game, I’m banking on Dez Bryant not being a 100% (possibly missing the game), and for Dak Prescott to run into a situation where he has to win a game on his own. Oh, and don’t be surprised if we see Colin Kaepernick make an appearance if Blaine Gabbert struggles again. Niners to cover and possibly win.

STEELERS -4.5 over Chiefs

I should’ve known, never make any statements that say “team such and such is one of the most reliable teams in the NFL” (even though I just did 8 paragraphs up, but different rules apply to Belicheck). This feels like a get right game for Pittsburgh. Le’veon Bell makes his annual return from a September suspension (have him on my fantasy team, fist pump!), the Steelers just got embarrassed by “the pick that saved Philly” and is Kansas City really going to get 6 interceptions from Big Ben? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I like the Steelers to eventually pull away from KC because I just don’t think they can match them point for point. Steelers at home giving 4.5

Giants +5 over MINNESOTA

The surprise of the NFL so far has been that the Vikings haven’t skipped a beat after losing both their starting quarterback and running back. The defense is as good as it gets, and it just may be better than the one in Denver. Zimmer is a great coach who finally got his shot (ala Bruce Arians). Sam Bradford has been the perfect acquisition for a team that relies on not making mistakes. So why am I taking the Giants after last week’s Odell vs. kicking net fiasco pretty much summed up their loss? The Giants live for this game, the Vikings offensive line is banged up and the Giants pass rush is legit. The Giants also have been the second best run defense so far (GB #1) and have suffocated the run game. I see a defensive battle in this game. Eli has been as efficient as any QB in the league and while he can be prone to the dumb turnover, lets not act like Sam Bradford still isn’t Sam Bradford. I like the Vikings to still win but 5 is too much to be laying for a Giant team that usually performs in prime time. The G-Men to cover.

 

 

Best Bets:

Lions -3 over BEARS

PATRIOTS over Bills

STEELERS -4.5 over Chiefs

-MikeV87

 

 

 

 

BTL Week 3 NFL Picks

The Spaghetti Vendor struck back in Week 2 going 10-6 against the spread. I was almost unanimous with my early slate in covering seven of the first eight games. Only to trip up in the late afternoon games that featured a little too much of the “everybody believes in us” Kool-Aid; Oakland, Tampa.

Through the first two weeks I stand at 16-16 against the spread; well, 16-17 if you count the “PBS football clinic” Belicheck and company ran for three and half hours Thursday night. I swear, this is the last time I go against Belicheck. Everybody and their grandmother thought surely their was no way for Belicheck to actually pull out a victory against a probable AFC playoff team right? I mean not with Jacoby freaking Brissett?! Done. I’ve learned my lesson, I will never go against God’s gift to football (Belicheck, not Brady). Well……except if Eli is in the way (like really? Eli Manning of all people, is the freaking kryptonite to the greatest coach of all-time? The football gods must have a weird sense of humor). Anyways, I digress, onto my picks.

As I said before, my record is a tick below .500. The season has been pretty wonky so far, most teams haven’t fully revealed their scent yet. But I think I’m pretty close to being on the plus sides of these picks………..or I may just start turning to mush. Gambling is a hell of a drug right?!

(Home team in caps, pick in bold)

Last Week: 10-6 / To Date: 16-17

Week 3:

Cardinals -4 over BILLS

Okay, okay, Let’s get this out of the way first. The Cardinals proved me wrong last week. Doesn’t really change my opinion other then I gave the young Bucs too much credit. I know Arizona looked off against NE in Week 1 but those Pats very well might go 16-0 again. They slammed down the gauntlet in an absolute must win at home. Now they get to travel east for a road date with Buffalo. Rex Ryan just fired his OC, even though the defense has been the bigger problem. I think any road game going across country to play the early game is tough but I trust Arian’s to battle it out and hold the pathetic Bills offense in check while the offense takes care of business. Take AZ laying the four points.

Lions +7 over PACKERS

My instincts were right Sunday night about my Green Bay Packers. Starting out with two straight road games in tough for any team. But given the current level or should I say, offensive ineptitude the Packers and particularly, Aaron Rodgers, is playing at, Green Bay can’t be trust to lay 7 points to anyone except maybe the Browns. Now Rodgers could snap out of it and Lions aren’t world beaters. I just don’t think that Green Bay can get to 27 points with ease anymore, it may take more time for this group to step up. I like the Lions to keep it competitive throughout, they have a good shot to win if the GB offense/Arod have a repeat of last week and Demarious Randall gets no safety help again. Take the Lions and the points.

Raiders +1 over TITANS

The Raiders bandwagon got a little lighter last week. The darlings of the AFC got a rude awakening when they let Atlanta run them up and down the field. Which may happen from time to time with this YOUNG of a roster. Stacking success, I said it last week, it is the last thing that a team like the Raiders need to learn. To be playing at their potential week in and week out. Through two weeks the Raiders set the defensive record for most yards allowed. Not good at all. Now Tennessee played a very good Vikings team to a draw until their defense took over and played well enough at Detroit to squeak out a win. The Titans defense looks dependable, their running game is solid, so I expect them to put points up on Oakland. But, I just like the overall talent edge the Raiders possess to win on the road. Oakland is the better team, it’s games like these where they need to show it. Oakland and the point in a close one.

DOLPHINS -10 over Browns

The Dolphins are another team that started out with two very tough road games; in Seattle and in Foxborough. With hopes for some home cooking, they couldn’t have drawn a better opponent to get them back into the win column, the Browns! Cleveland gave Baltimore a run last week but Baltimore may be the “good bad team” this year. Ten is a lot for a team like the Dolphins to be swallowing at home but the Browns are injury-riddled, talent-less and are tanking. Go with the team that needs a win desperately. The Browns are just desperate to get the season over with.

Ravens -1 over JAGUARS

The Jags had everybody nearly fooled about being a possible playoff contender, turns out they may just suck at the first 30 mins of football. The Ravens also got down big to the Browns (which worries me, really? Down 20-2 to the freaking Browns!!) but rallied late. I’m really torn on this game, on one hand I down trust either team too much after the first two weeks but I surely trust Jon Harbaugh more than Gus Bradley. Take the Ravens laying one, but be cautious of a Bortles comeback.

Broncos +3.5 over BENGALS

Home team usually gets 3 points, so the line here says that the Bengals are a half point better than the defending SB champs. After last week’s dismantling of Indy and the way this defense CONTINUES to play as if it’s the 2015 Playoffs all over again, I can’t swallow the 3.5 points when Denver just needs to get to 17-20 points because I do not see Andy Dalton and his limited offense so far being able the score 20 plus points. Trevor Siemian is the perfect quarterback for this team and after going into Carolina and handling that stage, I think he has more than enough to win this game. Take Denver and the 3.5, they are as dependable as its gets (until next week when Cincy plays out of its mind on Sunday).

PANTHERS -6.5 over Vikings

This one is a tough spot for the Vikings. Fresh off a two game winning streak and fresh off losing their franchise running back for the year most likely. Minnesota has to travel to Carolina and this has all the makings of a let down game. The Vikings defense is legit and I look for them to keep Cam Newton in check, but I’m just not sure they’re ready to play lights out again for the second week in a row. The Panthers got their swagger back last week but also showed they can’t be trusted to put opponents away for good as the Niners made attempts time and again to back door cover. But I’m going with the Panthers being a touchdown better than Minnesota. Take the Panthers laying 6.5.

GIANTS -3.5 over Redskins

This has all the makings of that “Eli shits his pants game” that happens a couple times a year. The Giants look to be markedly better than the Washington professional football team (nod to Joe House), they have the skill players and the quarterback to hang thirty on this team. So why am I so nervous? Well, because Eli could throw 4 touchdowns or 4 picks in this game and neither would surprise me. So why am I picking them? Kirk Cousins sucks, thats why. He duped all of us into thinking he was a franchise quarterback, hell he even duped the Redskins front office (should’ve signed that extension Kirk). This team is not particularly good on either side of the ball and at home, I like the Giants to make an early statement for the NFC East (until they blow this game and remind all of us that gambling on them is basically waterboarding yourself). Take the Giants and pray for some good signs early from Eli.

BUCCANEERS -5 over Rams

Yep, taking the home favorites a lot this week. This one is a rather easy call. The Rams have yet to score a touchdown this year. I’m still buying Tampa and Jameis stock by the handfuls even in the wake of last week’s beatdown. Jameis will bounce back at home (as most young QBs do) and the young Bucs have enough firepower to score at least 17 on LA. As for the Rams, i don’t care how good your defense is, I see no possible way the offense gets to double digits on the scoreboard. One of my best bets of the week, Tampa giving 5.

Niners +10 over SEAHAWKS

I have said before that I don’t like swallowing double digit points often, and especially this early in the season. The Seahawks have scored one more offensive touchdown than the Rams have this season and that came on a two minute drill in Week 1. Their offensive line might be bottom 5 in football. Russell Wilson is already hurt and the Seattle offense suddenly is lacking elite playmakers on the outside. As for San Francisco, they are flawed, but but some reason I like them this year. Being that it is a division game, and yes on the road, I just haven’t seen enough from Wilson and company to really play downhill and make this a blowout. The only that happens is if Gabbert makes some crucial turnovers to the Seahawks elite defense. That is a very real possibility, but i’m still grabbing the points, SF to cover.

CHIEFS -3 over Jets

This one was another tough one to call. The Jets are dealing with some injuries with their WRs. Brandon Marshall may not play. Meanwhile, the Chiefs look to welcome back Jammal Charles, albeit in very limited action. Since the Chiefs are getting healthy and the Jets may not be fully 100% at receiver, I like KC to take this game. Not much else to say here, go with the home team.

COLTS -2.5 over Chargers

I’m convinced that outside of Andrew Luck, the Colts are absolutely terrible at football. It’s like those years when the Mariners had Griffey or ARod, hell even Felix Hernandez and for the love of god they could never muster enough talent around them, and they wasted some of their best years. So why am I picking the Colts when the Chargers have looked far better in the first two weeks. Self preservation. Indy NEEDS this win. Start 0-3 and could can almost write them off. It might not be pretty but Andrew Luck will put this team on his back to notch the Colts first victory this year. Colts at home because their playoff lives depend on it.

Steelers -3.5 over EAGLES

Probably the lock of the week along with Tampa over LA. The Steelers look to be the second best team in the NFL so far. They have elite talent at every level on offense and Le’Veon Bell isn’t even back yet! Carson Wentz and his merry band of birds have looked good so far…..against Cleveland and Chicago, probably two of the bottom 5 teams in the NFL. Here they get to play with the big boys. I don’t see things going smoothly for Wentz once he gets down 10 in the first half. The Steelers are as dependable (health permitting) as it gets.

Bears +7 over COWBOYS

Risky play here going with Brian Hoyer here but a few things stand out to me. The Dallas Cowboys have not shown me enough to be favored by 7 at home. If they hung 27 plus on NYG and WAS to start then yes, you deserve the -7. Second, it’s Sunday Night Football, these Dallas games are always close. I look for a high scoring affair, taking the over (44) in this game is another savvy bet. But I like for the Bears to hang with the Boys long enough to make it interesting. I like Dallas to win but not by more than a score.

SAINTS -2.5 over Falcons

Drew Brees gets to come home to his fortress of solitude. Now the dome hasn’t been as untouchable recently as you might believe, but, Atlanta’s defense is pretty shoddy and I see another Saints v. Raiders Week 1 affair in store for MNF. If this was in Atlanta, I’d give the nod to them, but it is not. I’m taking the better coach, better offense and better quarterback in this one. Saints laying 2.5

 

Best Bets:

Steelers -3.5 over EAGLES

BUCCANEERS -5 over Rams

DOLPHINS -10 over Browns

 

-MikeV87

 

 

BTL Packers Podcast 3.2

Starting like its 2014 but playing like it’s 2015. That is the dilemma the 2016 Green Bay Packers find themselves in after two less than impressive performances against Jacksonville and Minnesota.

Is Aaron Rodgers to blame? Mike McCarthy? Should we just chalk it up to a slow start?

In this episode we delve into the details that we see from the Packers in the first two games. So give us a listen and let us know your thoughts.

 

 

As always, like and share the podcast. We’ll see you for episode 3.3 after Week 5!

 

-MikeV87

BTL Week 2 NFL Picks

6-10 against the spread last week. OUCH!!! Thats almost as bad as the beating our native Rams took!

I’m not going to sugar coat it, I fell behind the eight-ball faster with my picks than Andrew Luck and the Colts did against the Cooter led Lions last week. But in the world of gambling, there is always tomorrow! There is always another game and so far in Week 2 I am 1-0 with my pick of the Jets +1 over BILLS. Here are my picks (I can’t get any worse right)

(Home team in caps, pick in bold)

Last Week: 6-10 / To Date: 7-10

Week 2:

STEELERS -3.5 over Bengals

The NFL Game of the Week is first up on the docket. The Steelers had as an impressive win as anyone did last week with Big Ben in mid-season form, Antonio Brown un-guardable  and being able to run the ball at will. Then again it was against the Redskins, are they really that good? As for the Bengals, they squeaked out a win versus a quality team in the Jets. This screams that old talking head reference, “you know, you can throw records out the window when these two teams matchup” Phil Simms-esque type of line. Bengals are a good team, but can they put up 30 plus points on the road, i doubt it. Only thing that stops this Steelers team is health and Belicheck, and the Bengals can’t count on either on Sunday.

Titans +6  over LIONS

I believe in a Cooter led Lion’s offense. I love their addition of Marvin Jones, the “Catch Brothers” Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah and Matthew “I may finally be putting it all together” Stafford. They hung 39 on the road versus the Colts. Two problems though, the Colts might really, really suck at football (sans Luck), and the Lions are still the Lions. Do they really deserve to be getting 6 points at home? I still believe that the Titans were victimized by a top 5 NFL defense that once of couple of balls bounced the wrong way, their fate was sealed against the Vikings. The Lions don’t own anything close to that defense. If the line was -3 or lower, I’d grab the Lions. For now I’m gonna need one more week to see if Jim Bob Cooter is the next Mike Martz. Take the Titans and the points.

Ravens -6 over BROWNS

The experts are talking a lot of Ravens playoff sleeper buzz, and I’m buying. They had the injury-season from hell last year. A coach named Harbaugh still calls the shots and they get to face the ass crack of the NFL in their old ancestral home. Don’t over think this one, the Browns are tanking and the Ravens know what a 2-0 start usually means in the Harbaugh era.

Cowboys +3 over REDSKINS

Yep, get use to it, taking another road dog. This one can really go either way, but gun to my head, I like Dallas to control the clock and the game with their elite rushing attack. I know Zeke Elliot got off to a slow start last game but I look for that to be corrected this week. Cousins really disappointed me on Monday night, I’ve already dropped him from my fantasy team. Too many missed throws that could’ve been had. Division games are always close, it could be a loser leaves town match. I like the Cowboys to keep hope alive and I’m getting points.

Saints +5 over GIANTS

I didn’t get to watch last week’s game for the Giants (too busy crushing beers at the river), so I can’t tell you if their off-season makeover on the defensive side of the ball is completely legit. It is not like the Giants lit up a hapless Dallas D either. They’re home so I expect for them to play better against possibly even worse defense in New Orleans. So why am I going with the Saints as the road dog? I just can’t get past the 5 points, -3 then yes, I’d take the G-Men. 5 seems a little much with the firepower the Saints have to make it interesting, despite Brees’ road struggles. I like the Giants to win a close shootout, but the Saints to cover.

PANTHERS -13.5 over Niners

I am usually not one to take the home favorite with this high of a spread (especially my misfire w/Seattle last week). The Niners looked very good against possibly the worst NFL offense in quite a while. I was listening to Michael Lombardi this week on BSPN (Bill Simmons Podcast Network), he had some pretty interesting facts on the Niners offense. Most revealing was that Gabbert’s yard/completion was below 6 yards. If the Niners can’t stretch the field vertically, you can forget about running on the Panthers (despite last week vs DEN). You have an angry Panthers team that absolutely cannot start 0-2. If the Panthers start out fast, like they did all of last year, I don’t see the Niners making comeback. Despite my fears of a late backdoor cover, this is a statement game for Carolina.

Dolphins +6.5 over PATRIOTS

Gronk is very iffy to play. The Dolphins defense played fantastic in Seattle last weekend and the Patriots may be due for a let down game. I always have faith in Belicheck but for the Pats to be giving 6.5 with Garoppolo, just seems a little high for me. I think the mantra of the Brady-less Pats during these four games is to just win, no matter the fashion. I like the Pats to win but my gut says watch out for the Dolphins to make things interesting. Especially without Gronk.

HOUSTON -2.5 over Chiefs

That was not a pretty win by KC last weekend to let a weaker Chargers team hang with them blow for blow until the end. Houston has all the right things in place to make a unabated run for the AFC South crown, but it all comes down to the health of J.J. Watt and the arm of Brock Osweiler. With the plethora of skill players now at his disposal, Brock has the ability to play any way they want. Ground and pound with Lamar Miller, outside the hashes with the human highlight reel DeAndre Hopkins and a suitable running mate in Will Fuller. If Watt and his talented defensive mates play up to par, I don’t think KC can keep up. Take Houston.

RAMS +6.5 over Seahawks

I am very torn on this game. In my opinion it goes either of two ways, a Seahawks blowout (w/possible Jeff Fisher firing, I don’t care if he just signed an extension!!) or a an ugly knock em out street fight like last week with the Dolphins. The Rams have always had the Seahawks number, including two wins against them last year. The Seahawks offensive line is an absolute disaster, the Rams boast probably the best front four in the business. I just can’t see Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn being quite for two weeks in a row. Especially with the first regular season game in LA in over 20 years, I know my So Cal faithful will be boozed up like Eagles fans at The Vet back in the 80s! I still believe the Seahawks squeak this one out but Donald and Quinn will make Russell Wilson’s life a living hell while doing so. Rams to cover.

Buccaneers +7 over CARDINALS

I was literally just about to put Cards -7 up there and then I realized that my instincts about them being frauds (more specifically Carson Palmer, the rest of the team may be legit) after last years playoff run maybe right. The only reason I picked the Cards to cover last weekend was because I thought Belicheck was throwing away this game when Gronkowski was ruled out. I think the Cardinals are really talented but I am not sold on Carson Palmer. I think he’s hit his regression this year and I think Jameis and his Bucs have enough spunk to really make things interesting in this game. The Buccaneers have all the weapons to go blow for blow with the Cards. “In Shape James” (nod to Bill Simmons), is athletically gifted enough to evade the Cards pass rush and make plays downfield. The only caveat is that the Bucs played a horrid Atlanta team that may be bottom 5. I’m sticking with my gut, the Cards are not for real and 7 is too much to be laying with this talented of a team coming to town.

Jaguars +3 over CHARGERS

I cannot for the life of me figure out why the Chargers are getting -3 in this game, even with the home field advantage (which they don’t have if you’ve ever been to a game there). The Jags played my Packers down to the wire in Week 1. I knew the game was going to be tough but the heat was way more of a factor than i thought it would be. The Chargers played great in KC, recent history has shown us that they are a far better away team than home team. I just don’t see a Bolts win here in the wake of Keenan Allen being done for the year. I think the Jags, especially defensively are good enough take get the to job done. Take the Jags and the points.

RAIDERS -4.5 over Falcons

Momentum is a real thing, despite what Bill Barnwell may tell you. The Raiders have plenty of it after Jack Del Rio just beat Sean Payton in a nut-sack game to see whose balls were bigger. The Raiders have the makings of elite talent everywhere you look. And now they get to come home and face an abominable Falcons team that just got shellacked by Jameis and his Bucs? The only thing that worries me is this is a young team and the ability to repeat success and stack quality wins without getting too ahead of themselves is the last thing a good team needs to do to before becoming a legit contender. We’ll find out this weekend.

Colts +6 over Broncos

The Colts maybe in there first steps to going 6-10 and getting Pagano fired, or they maybe be stepping into their first upset victory of a 10-6 playoff season. I have no clue, this team is so jekell and hyde it could be anywhere in between. I do know this, the Broncos, until I see Trevor Siemian take some major strides in pushing the ball downfield, should never be favored by more than 4 against anyone with the offensive firepower of Andrew Luck. I don’t care how good your defense is, I don’t see you blowing out the Colts and holding a double digit lead without him mounting a comeback. It’s in their DNA, they get down and then they rally. Plus the Colts always play Denver well. Something tells me that the Colts can more than cover, and maybe even win. The first one to 20 points takes this game.

VIKINGS +2.5 over Packers

If you have ever listened to me on the BTL Packers Podcast, you know me as the pessimistic Packers fan. I prefer the term realist but call it what you want. I was very concerned about the first two games. I foresaw the tough game with the Jags in the heat. I am even more wary of the Vikings game in their new dome, AP coming off a bad game looking to make amends and that crazy talented Zimmer-coached Vikings defense who has always kept Rodgers under wraps. It is going to be a close game either way. I don’t see the Packers being able to pull away even if they play well. I like Rodgers with all his receiving weapons and I like the GB secondary. Thats about it. I am very worried about the middle of the Packers defense against the run, I am worried about a new addition to the offensive line playing his first nationally televised game in a dome that may or may not have crowd noise piped in. I think Eddie Lacy is still one more off-season away from fully getting back into shape. And I am worried about the most annoying trend ithat is happening in big Packer games lately; someone vital to the defense/offense ends up out for the game or worse sometime in the mid-first quarter. I think the Vikings knew they could squeak past the Titans, not show any relevant film of a Bradford led offense. I expect the Vikings best shot, because I know Zimmer has them convinced they can still win the division. I don’t like picking against my team, but take the Vikings to cover and possibly win.

Eagles +3 over BEARS

Not an entertaining matchup, I don’t have a whole lot to say here. I like the talent on the Eagles slightly better than the Bears. It will be Carson Wentz’s first road game and a nationally televised one at that. I was impressed by what some football experts had to say about his first start. I’ll take Philly and the points.

Best Bets:

Jags +3 over CHARGERS

Ravens -6 over BROWNS

STEELERS -3.5 over Bengals

-MikeV87

 

 

The Principles of VBD. A beginners guide to gaining an edge in your next fantasy football draft.

I recently had a conversation with my co-worker James last month. We were bullshitting about our general thoughts on the upcoming football season. Both of us were being as completely vague and coy about who we really liked in fantasy this year because we ran in the same money leagues and didn’t want to give anything away.

Then he asked me a question I’ve never been asked before, “What drafting apps do you use?”, my answer probably surprised him, “I don’t use any”. I use a technique called VBD.

For those of you that don’t know, it stands for “Value Based Drafting”. It is the sabermetric version of choosing your fantasy football team. The only reason I’m am writing about it is because in all the leagues that I’ve played, I have never heard of someone else using this method. Or, they are only being coy and not telling. Which, truth be told, is as exactly as I acted during the last 4 years. In 2011, I bombed my draft, plain and simple. I was in year 3 of playing fantasy football and thought going with the gut feeling was always the best way to pick your team. After that 2011 draft; that included Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates in the first three rounds, I knew that the strategy had to change.

In 2012, I googled “fantasy football draft strategy”, only to come across VBD. It explained the process of drafting a pool of players through a snake order. “Snake drafts“, which is a crucial term because, “auction drafts” operate in completely different way. With snake drafts, the Value Based Drafting strategy argues that there is a determinant number value associated with every player in your draft based on the projected stats, positional baseline and average draft position that is the bones of every draft. Your goal is not to only draft one of the top players at their position, but to draft the most valuable player versus their draft pool. Look at VBD as baseball’s WAR (WAR= Wins Above Replacement; a numerical value of a players worth to his team by the number of wins he adds to their win total, i.e. Trout), VBD is a just a number value on how Tom Brady compares to Josh Gordon. Both are out four games, how do I account for that?

Step 1: Projecting Stats

As I said earlier, this is a sabermetric way to looking at drafting, doing the math is crucial. Luckily for you, this step is provided very easily by the numerous online sites you can get stat projections at; ESPN and FFToolbox.com to name a few. Based on what your league scoring is, by simply crunching the numbers in what these projections spill out is a speedy way of clearing the first step. And take it for my word, trying to input too much of your own personal opinion (bias) into how many stats you think is applicable to certain players is risky. These expert sites are paid to well for their opinion and you are better off taking the law of averages. I got myself into that trouble a year ago when I thought to add my own thoughts into how many touchdowns Andrew Luck would throw, Eddie Lacy’s yardage total, and that Justin Forsett was the new Frank Gore. Yeah, you can tell how that turned out last year.

So this year I decided to just take the ESPN rankings and do the math off of their projections. Why project stats? Well you must come up with a fantasy point total that each relevant player will accrue during the course of a season. Let’s take Antonio Brown.
Below is a graph as to what the experts at ESPN project for Brown in 2016:

TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
197.2 134.5 1811.8 13.5 10.7 3.9 25.2 0.1 252

What is great is that they accumulate his projected points in the last column. Only one problem, those projected points are for standard scoring only. If you play in point-per-reception leagues like myself (most people do), you’d be short changing him about 134 points. So the math is easy on this one, 252 + 134.5 receptions = 386.5 points you can expect Brown to score.

You continue to do this for every relevant fantasy player. Got different league scoring settings? QB touchdowns are 6 points? You got more math to do. Score interceptions as -3 points instead of -2, you got more math to do. Your job is to calculate every possible scoring outcome by the projections you want to use. That is what gives you the most accurate point values. Otherwise it will be like comparing apples to oranges if you just trust the standard ESPN point values or any other sites values. Tailoring the math to your league scoring is a must!

Step 2: Finding your Baseline

Remember when I said you had to calculate the stats for “every relevant” player? What does that mean, relevant player? Most of you are familiar with ESPN’s Top 250 fantasy players. An all-encompassing list that ranks every player from every position in order. But like I said, their list is usually tailored for their standard format, that helps very few of us out. Finding the baseline part of VBD was the part that intrigued me the most when I first read about it. We all know enough about fantasy football to compare Aaron Rodgers to Eli Manning to Kirk Cousins. But what happens when we are forced to compare Eli Manning to Michael Crabtree? Who is more valuable? How do you quantify that other than saying, “well I like Crabtree more than Manning because quarterbacks are crazy deep” (Matthew Berryism right there). Okay I get that, but how much more valuable? Again, I need something quantitative.

In comes your baseline. There are a couple schools of thought on this one. One is that you establish your baseline as the worst starter in a certain position group. The other is to take the average starter from your position group and compare him to everyone else. I’ve only done the former, not the latter, so that is the one I will be explaining to you.

Take quarterbacks for example, in a 10 team league, there will be at least ten quarterbacks starting the majority of the time for those ten teams. Quarterback #10 is your baseline (In this case, Phillip Rivers). He has a value of zero (think WAR, replacement level). All the quarterbacks above #10 are projected to be better than him by the number of points they will outscore him by.

Lets compare Aaron Rodgers to our baseline QB:

All we’re doing here is subtracting Rodger’s projected points from our baseline. That number is Rodgers VBD value.

Projected Points VBD Value
Aaron Rodgers 385.64 59.49
10th QB: Philip Rivers 326.15 0

Remember that concept, number of points a player outscores his position group by, that is the essence of VBD. As you may have heard Matthew Berry harp over and over again on his podcast, your job is to win weeks, you do that by assembling a roster that gives you the best chance to outscore your opponents, i.e. his players of similar position groups to yours. You assemble a roster that consistently outscores your opponents position groups, you’re in good shape. That is why Rob Gronkowski is so valuable, having Gronk on your team gives you a significant advantage at the tight end position week in and week out.

Back to establishing your baseline real quick, I don’t want to jump too far ahead into VBD point values because miscalculating your baseline can skew the numbers and perceived value, which is bad for you.

Let’s take a sample league: Best of the Best (one of my money leagues I’m in)

PPR 10 teams: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 W/R/TE flex, 1 K and 1 DEF

Your following baselines would be the 10th QB, 20th RB, 30th WR, 10th TE, 10th K and 10th DEF as values of zeros. But what about the flex position? Wouldn’t that bump the baselines down 10 more spots for each of the RB, WR and TE groups? Well, yes and no. In a 10 team PPR league, WRs hold the most extra value, so do running backs that haul in receptions north of 40 for the year. So yes, extra value is put into those groups. Tight Ends are a different story, most leagues don’t value them much. And position scarcity is to the point where unless someone grabs 2 of the top 5-6 TEs, you are not going to face a TE in their flex spot.

So where do the baselines lie for the skill position players? If we assume most players are using their flex for RBs/WRs, we bump their baselines down 10 spots. But what about byes? What about injuries? Surely not everyone will play all 16 weeks, other players must fill that spot. This year I decided to add 5 more spots to not only the skill position groups but QBs as well to cover for byes and possible injuries.

My baseline for a 10 Team PPR league went as follows:
QBs: 15, RBs: 35, WRs: 45, TEs: 15, K: 12, DEF: 12 (I only added 2 for kicking and defense because they are the least valuable commodities in fantasy football.

I once I added up all the relevant players projected stats, it started to really made sense to see who came up as league average in some spots. Derek Carr for QBs, James Starks for RBs, Travis Benjamin for WRs etc. Those are league average players to a T.
That pretty much explains finding your baselines, the more flex spots you employ, the more difficult to it is to account for concrete baselines. Use your best judgement on what your league places more value on and you should be fine.

***(P.S. Your league uses IDP players instead of a Defense? No sweat, run steps one and two and you can now value defensive players versus your regular offensive players. Same concept applies!)

Step 3: Calculating VBD Values

So you’ve now found your baselines, here comes the number crunching. As we saw with the example graph in Step 2, each players VBD value will be subtracted against his position group’s baseline. You do this for all the players above the baseline. You will get numerical values associated with each player and it becomes clear who is the most valuable versus not only his peers at his position group but his peers in the entire draft field!

There is not a whole lot more to explain to this step. It is the most tedious of all the steps, it is basically homework for your fantasy team, but hey, you want to win don’t you? Dominate even right? This is what separates you from the competition. Let your other league mates rely on the Fantasy Focus Podcast and NFL Network shows for their edge.

 

Sooooooo we could be done with this step, but if you’re still reading, lets up our game a little bit and talk the advanced course in this step.

Step 3b: The Brady Plan

I conveniently came up with the name this year, as I, like a lot of other players, were willing to wait for Brady as a discounted price. Normally a top 3-4 QB taken if he was to play the entire 16 game slate, experts had Brady as the 8th-10th QB taken off the board. Seasoned vets like myself loved the price. But what was Brady’s true value if you paired him with another quarterback for those first four weeks? How high could you draft Brady and not overpay for him?

So you draft Brady, cool, but now you can’t start him for the first month of the season. Are you forced to not play a QB? No, you draft a backup to start in place of him. That backup gives you value for 4 weeks, that value can be added to Brady’s value. Dragon Ball Z fans will remember the fusion technique where two warriors fused into one super warrior (sorry, had to get a DBZ reference in). It is the same concept! Brady’s value is not only his remaining 12 games but also the 4 games you get from your backup. Calculate Brady’s stats, for arguments sake, take the stats of your baseline QB (Derek Carr), divide by 16 and then times that number by 4 and add to Brady’s projected stat line. See graph below:

Projected Points-Pts/Gm Current VBD Value
Tom Brady 230.4 = 20.95/Gm – 22.6
Derek Carr 253=16.87/Gm 0

In the next graph we’ll add Carr’s 16.87 per game average X 4 games to Brady’s value:

Updated Projected Points Current VBD Value
Tom Brady 230.4 + 67.48 = 297.88 + 44.88
Derek Carr 253 0

 

So now you get a true understanding of where Brady is valued even with the suspension. Initially his perceived value had him in the back end of the top 10 QBs and with a negative VBD. By adding in a probable waiver wire QB for the first four weeks, Brady jumps to the #3 QB just ahead of Andrew Luck. He’s worth being taken as the 3rd QB off the board, but you don’t need to worry about taking him that early. Wait, but don’t wait too long or you will squander a massively undervalued asset.

You can do this for every player facing suspension and/or injuries at the beginning of the season (Le’von Bell, Josh Gordon and Tyler Eifert).
The very last step in calculating VBD values after crunching the numbers and accounting for games missed etc., is to order your list from the highest to the absolute zero values.

You’re done right? A list compiling every player’s value relative to his peers no matter position. You can just draft off that list right? WRONG

Step 4: Compare your list to ADP

ADP? Another three letter acronym introduced this late? How much longer is this going to go on?!?!

Do not fear, most of you know ADP as “Average Draft Position”. It is far more common to me that my league mates know about ADP versus VBD. ADP lists are compiled over thousands and thousands of mock drafts done by different sites; Yahoo, ESPN etc. as the average draft position of a player. You will see Antonio Brown atop nearly every single list this year. You will see Todd Gurley in the top 10 of ADP. It is as close as you can get to a consensus as to what the majority of people value players by.

So you have your VBD list, it is now time to compare your list to a well-respected ADP list to see which players are undervalued, overvalued or properly valued in ranking. You could choose ESPN, Scout.com or any of the other reputable sites that you trust. My only caveat is to make sure it tailors to your league. I was able to find a site that complied thousands of 10 team PPR drafts. It had filters for 8,12 and 15 teams, standard or PPR. The more specific you can get your ADP list, the better your comparisons will be.

For most of the first 25 spots or so, your VBD and ADP should go about chalk. I wouldn’t get too cute if a player is off by a couple spots, there is no need to worry about that.

Anything (+/-) 6 spots I note. see below

VBD Rank Player Pos. VBD # Plus/Minus Notes
23 Mark Ingram RB 151.41 V Solid
24 Doug Martin RB 118.82 Plus 6 Last RB in tier 2, alright as RB1
25 Eric Decker* WR 113.6 Plus 24 Massively undervalued / ADP 53 / Wait till 4th/5th
26 Mike Evans WR 103.7 Minus 10 Rebound likely, TDs can only go up
27 Brandin Cooks WR 102.7 V Solid draft position / solid pick here

Once the difference gets above 20 to 30 (2-3 Rounds difference), then there is a serious under or overvaluation going on. Your main goal in any fantasy sport is to find value with every pick. When I compare both lists, I’m looking for the undervalued players. Players who give me the same value if I were to pick them in Round 3 but their ADP says I can get them in Round 5 or later. Why spend market value on anything when you can get it for cheaper? I don’t care what walk of life you’re from, that is a principle that everybody understands.

Here is a list of the most undervalued players of the first 100 picks:

Eric Decker +24, Jordan Matthews +27, Theo Riddick +54, Ameer Abdullah +26, Emmanuel Sanders +25, Danny Woodhead +11, Larry Fitzgerald +21, Torrey Smith +54

It also highlights overvalued players. These are guys I will most likely never draft. Nothing against them, I just don’t see value there. In doing my VBD list this year, I consistently found that the two position groups that had the most overvalued players were QBs and TEs. If the ADP were to go chalk, I most likely would’ve never have picked a QB or TE in the first 100 picks.

Here is a list of the most overvalued players of the first 100 picks:

Eddie Lacy -13, Thomas Rawls -13, Delanie Walker -23, Ben Roethlisberger -35, Greg Olsen -20, Kelvin Benjamin -29, Michael Floyd -17

As you see in both lists, VBD is not Nostradamus when it comes to predicting outcomes. But after the first week, the sample size just isn’t big enough. Plus, this assume that each player would be drafted at the said ADP position, if you were grab Big Ben at pick 123, that’s awesome value.

The final part of this step is rearranging your draft cheat sheet into a concrete and concise list. The graph you see above in Step 4 is what I use to draft on. I don’t need 20 different papers. I just need my own personal draft board and I stick to it. I’ve found that less is more when it comes to cheat sheets. It is my very own list that I worked hard on and I trust in it. Anything more is just unnecessary clutter.

So that wraps up the process of Value Based Drafting. Hope got something concrete out of this and maybe this will push you to become a more prepared fantasy player in the years to come. I’m going to end on some questions that will cap off this post.

Is it okay to stray from your VBD list?
Absolutely, being flexible when it comes to the draft is an essential quality to have. Does it makes sense to draft that 5th WR before you have taken any RBs or filled in any other part of your roster? Not really. My goal in the first 5-7 rounds is to just take the BPA (best player available). After that, or even a little before that, I look to fill in my blank roster spaces that best match draft need and VBD value. If I’m stuck on a certain player or position group, I fall back on my draft board list as a guide.

Do personal feelings on players get in the way of the order of your list?

All the time. One of the first disagreements I had with my VBD list was Devonte Freeman. VBD value had him as the 5th overall player. ADP had him as the 22nd overall player. I thought there was no way I’d ever spend a 1st Round pick on a guy I had serious questions about role and repeat production. So I decided to move him down into a ranking I felt more comfortable taking him at. If I get him at that ranking, I’m fine, if not, no sweat off my back. Was probably never ever going to draft him anyways.

Anything else you would recommend for your VBD list?

The notes part I found very helpful. I go as little as “#1 Pick”, to complete sentences on role, production, projections and personal input.

 

 

Well that will do it. If you finished all of this, you should get some type of medal. I know it was long, but VBD is not the easiest process to describe. But take it from me, it gives you an advantage. I have never finished lower than 3rd place in my main fantasy football money league. Knowing all this doesn’t make you the smartest man in the room. But it will likely make you the most prepared man in the room, and that is often all the advantage you need to crush your league and become a champion.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave comments, share to post, or get right to work on your 2017 Fantasy Football Draft!

-MikeV87

BTL Week 1 NFL Picks

Got a gambling problem? Tired of getting beat in Fanduel? Need to throw more money away on reckless parlays and 6-team teasers?

Then I have you covered! Welcome to my weekly edition of making picks versus the NFL spread. And I am already off to a roaring start with picking Carolina last night (really Denver? We really going with the “QB does just enough to not lose this game” plan for a second year in a row……sigh). On to the picks:

(Home team in caps, pick in bold)

To Date: 0-1

WEEK 1-

Packers (-5.5) over JAGUARS

My team up first. I was tempted to have the Jags cover here. The Packers are notorious for starting out slow. A hot, muggy and hellacious afternoon bodes well for the Jaguars. But Aaron Rodgers is on a mission this year, he has all his weapons fully healthy, and as much as it would be a hot take to pick the Jags, I’m not taking Bortles over Rodgers. Packers roll in the second half and hold off a late Jags rally to cover the spread.

RAVENS (-3) over Bills

I think everyone is sleeping on the Ravens this year. After one year of subpar football, everyone thinks this is the reincarnation of the Browns. The Bills are decent but in my opinion over-hyped because of their coach. I think Baltimore surprises people with a solid home opener win this weekend.

Bears (+6) over TEXANS

I was iffy on this. With the recent wave of health news, J.J. Watt cleared to play, and potentially Kevin White a no-go on Sunday, everything is trending towards a comfortable home win for Houston. But I can’t fully trust Osweiler in start one with all the weapons that has to jell. I look for Chicago to keep it close late and come through on the backdoor cover. Texans are better, but 6 points points better with all these questions?

EAGLES (-3) over Browns

Not a lot to go on here. Philly gets the nod just because they are home. It is a pretty terrible matchup to watch when you considered the quarterbacks playing. I have no interest in this game, neither should you unless you are a degenerate gambler (you’re reading this so…..).

FALCONS (-2.5) over Buccaneers

I really like the burgeoning Bucs offense. In shape year 2 Jameis. The Mike Evans rebound, the Dougernaut rolling like its 2015 and Charles Sims becoming Dion Lewis 2.0. So why did I go with Hotlanta?! History. The history bodes well for Matty Ice and his team when it comes to home openers (7-0). Julio Jones continues his historic year from ’15 and the dirty birds start 1-0.

TITANS (+2.5) over Vikings

Again, another game I’m torn on. The Vikings with Bridgewater would’ve been 5 point favorites, without they still get a respectable 2.5. But I just gotta give the young Titans team a little more credit than Vegas is. I think it comes down to both defenses playing to a draw and I like Mariota to make a late drive when it counts. Shaun Hill to do the same thing? Not so much.

Bengals (-2.5) over JETS

Pound for pound, Cincinnati might have the best talent spread over their 53 man roster than anyone else in the league. If Dalton can remain at that 2015 level, this is a scary team. The Jets at home versus a tough conference opponent spells trouble for them. I think they slightly over-achieved last year and reality will hit them square in the jaw on Sunday. They have a ways to go to compete with the AFC upper-echelon.

Raiders (+1.5) over SAINTS

The sleeper darlings of the 2016 off-season, everybody loves the Raiders. It has almost gotten to the point where the love may have gone too far. ……Almost…… I’m still buying stock in Carr, Cooper and most importantly, Khalil Mack. He has the chance to jump to that mid-2000s Demarcus Ware level. Both teams have solid QBs, both teams have awesome skill position players. But only the Raiders have a pass rusher who shifts the balance of power. Raiders to cover and win.

CHIEFS (-6.5) over Chargers

I feel two ways about this game. It’s either a blowout (see above pick), or Rivers does one of his annoying backdoor covers. I don’t know why but I feel a blowout here. The Chiefs are home, their defense is legit. Their running certainly didn’t miss Charles last year (4th in Running DVOA) and I think Kelce breakouts in a big way in Week 1, just like last year. Chiefs in a romp.

SEAHAWKS (-10.5) over Dolphins

Very few teams are as good as Seattle in coming through on that double digit spread and not letting up on the backdoor cover. Seattle is my pick for the NFC’s top dog. With Green Bay and Arizona following close by. Miami has a new offensive minded guru in Adam Gase, but Century Link Field is not going to be their coming out party. The Ryan Tannehill break through will have to wait one more week.

COLTS (-3) over Lions

Reality tells me that not much has really changed for the Colts. It is the same team with older vets, no offensive line and a so-so defense. The Lions meanwhile look to give Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter the easy job of replacing Calvin Johnson. The Lions have weapons; Golden Tate, newly acquired Marvin Jones and PPR machine Theo Riddick. So why am I picking Indy? Yeah, you guessed it, Andrew Luck. When Luck is on, his ceiling is higher than Stafford’s even with a healthy Megatron out there. I’m betting like its 2014, lets see if 2015 doesn’t rear its ugly head.

Giants over COWBOYS

The award for the most interesting game of the week goes to these guys. I’m surprised it wasn’t already flexed into Sunday night (do we really need 3 more hours of Garoppolo-Deflategate-Gronk-Deflategate-Spygate-Deflategate talk from Collinsworth). This game pits Eli-Odell versus the future of Dallas with Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliot and Dez. How one handed cacthes is Odell going to make? Does Ezekiel go for 200 yards in his rookie debut? Is Dak the new coming of Jameis Winston with a 4th round price? I don’t know which one comes true but I trust Eli more in Week 1 than the young Cowboy rookies. Either way, it should be an entertaining game.

CARDINALS (-7) over Patriots

I don’t like the Cardinals as much as everybody else does. Maybe I’m still bitter about that 2016 Divisional Playoff loss. And you’re probably right, but as talented as their roster and coach are, I think Carson Palmer is in for a major regression. I think the 2016 Playoffs showed his true colors………So why am I picking Cards over Pats. Because the Pats have no Brady (4 games), no Gronk and Jimmy Garoppolo in start one. I don’t think Belicheck even cares about this game. It’s going to be a Cardinals blowout but some how Belicheck takes things from slaughter and uses them to win the AFC East and a playoff bye down the road, but he doesn’t give a shit about this game. The Cardinals do.

Steelers (-3) over REDSKINS

I really think the Skins are going to put up a good fight in this one, but I think the Steelers offense will be too much for the Redskins to keep up with. Even with the newly acquired Josh Norman. Should be an offensive show, but look for Ben to crack 30 points first and not look back.

NINERS (+2.5) over Rams

I think the Rams are over-hyped. As dominating as their defensive line is and their commitment to ball control and slow pace on offense. They have absolutely no quarterback. Now to be fair, neither do the Niners. But some part of me feels Chip will call plays to quickly get the ball out of Gabbert’s hands, maybe even Kaepernick’s too. Don’t put it past him to shuffle in the backup QB for some read option packages. Something about this game just screams to take the home dog and the points. It’s probably just Case Keenum.

 

BEST BET(s):

Cincinnati (-2.5)  over JETS

Giants over COWBOYS

CARDINALS (-7) over Patriots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BTL Packers Podcast 3.1

Here is Season 3 of our BTL Packers Podcast. Give us a listen to find out our thoughts on the cutting of Josh Sitton, signing of Jared Cook, which Packer makes the leap this year and much, much more!

 

We’ll be back in two weeks to recap Week 1 & 2. Give us a like and share the podcast. Find us at http://www.btl-sports.com

Enjoy!

 

-MikeV87