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Monday, November 30, 2015

Ravens: Masters of Close Finish - NFL 2015 MNF 12

The total absolute point difference for all 10 Baltimore Ravens game is 41, an average of 4.1 points. They have played 5 games in which the margin of victory was 3 points or less. Their biggest loss was by 8 points, on the road to the 9-2 Arizona Cardinals.

At 3-7 Baltimore is all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Heading into tonight's matchup -  Baltimore At Cleveland (-4.5; 41.5) - the Ravens are without starting Quarterback Joe Flacco.

Matt Schaub is slated to start for Baltimore but for the Ravens, the defense continues to be the biggest concern. The Ravens are giving up 24.9 points per game and this Cleveland Browns team scored 33 points on them, in the game that all but doomed their season.

Oddly enough that was the only game the Browns won with Josh McCown at the helm. Cleveland is 2-8 for the season and their absolute point difference is 125, an average of 12.5. Both their wins were by 3 points.

The Browns have lost 5 games in a row while scoring 13.6 points per game. During that same stretch, the Ravens are 2-3 while scoring 20.6 per game but this was with Joe Flacco at quarterback.

The question: Can Baltimore's defense hold the Browns to under 20 points? In games that McCown started and finished, Cleveland averages 21.5 points.

There are no numbers to predict the winner but all simulations show the Baltimore Ravens to lose by no more than 2 points.

So, I take Ravens (UNDER).  Pick wisely, and come back for Thursday's picks and tonight we find out how close the Ravens are to being dominant next season.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

NFL 2015 Week 12 - EvenMoney's Game of the Week (Bucs vs Colts)

Tampa Bay At Indianapolis (-3; 46.5) is a must win game for both teams, yet only one team risks being eliminated from playoff contention with a loss.

Both teams are 5-5 but the Indianapolis Colts are tied for first place in the AFC South. The Colts must win because, after today's matchup, their remaining schedule features their three division rivals. All three opponents are vying for the division title. The Colts face two other AFC teams in play for the Wild Card.

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: lose this game and they can conceivably pack it in for the year. Though they will not be mathematically eliminated, they would be reliant on too many scenarios - losses - by other teams.

After this game, the Bucs too will face their three division rivals. By the time they face the Chicago Bears, the Bucs will either be out of playoff contention or have more control of their destiny.

Instead of getting too deep into each of today's teams scenarios, let's just say I see the Colts going 2-3 after today, and the Bucs 3-2.

For today's matchup, it really depends on which Bucs offense shows up, specifically Quarterback Jameis Winston. He is experiencing the normal adjustment that rookies face. Winston has thrown 15 TouchDowns and 9 Interceptions. The TouchDown numbers are spiked due to last week's game versus the Philadelphia Eagles when he threw 5 TDs. Otherwise he would have thrown almost as many TDs as INTs.

The good fortune for the Bucs is that they are second in the NFL in Rushing yards. They will face a Colts defense that is near the bottom in Passing and Rushing Yards, while giving up 24.8 points game.

Facing the Colts, scoring 21 points should be a given for the Bucs, who are 4-1 when their defense holds a team to under 21 points.

The question: Can Tampa Bay hold Indianapolis to under 21 points?

The Indianapolis Colts have scored 21+ points in 7 of their 10 games. With backup Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck at the helm, the Colts are 3-0 and he will start in place of the injured Andrew Luck.

What does this mean for the Bucs? It means Tampa Bay should take the air out of the ball and limit the Colts' possessions because in a high scoring game, the odds are with the Colts.

So, I take the Bucs (OVER). Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until then see whether the Colts' home becomes Buc'town.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Can Green Bay Lead from the Middle of the Pack? NFL 2015 TNF 12

The Green Bay Packers are in a precarious position. They are competing for playoff positioning against two teams: the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals.

Each of these 3 teams have 3 "should win games" on their schedule and they face one another in the coming weeks. Arizona is one game ahead of Green Bay in the NFC, and Green Bay is tied with Minnesota in the NFC North division.

So, Chicago at Green Bay (-8, 45) is not the game for the Packers to try reverting to the style of play from the early part of this season when they won their first 6 games.

The Packers have to come to terms that they are a team that lost 3 games in a row. This past Sunday's win against the Minnesota Vikings put them back on the right track but they are not fully back. Gone should be, in their memory, the attitude they should win games by 10 points.

If the playoffs were to start today, 5 of the 7 teams the Packers beat would not qualify. The Packers defense gives up too many yards. During the first 6 games, they scored first and were able to control the pace. Most of the teams they beat did not feature high octane offenses, which meant the Packers defense could take risks to force TurnOvers.

In today's game, they face a Chicago Bears team that technically cannot hurt them on offense. The Bears are content to score 23 points and let their defense handle the rest.

The Packers beat the Bears 31 - 23 in this year's earlier matchup. The Bears defense has improved since early in the season. Their focus is to not allow big passing plays, which could be seen as a test for Aaron Rodgers.

Conversely, Green Bay can see this as an opportunity to put the past behind them and be content to mainly rush the ball. This will limit the amount of time their defense is on the field.

The numbers point to a win by Green Bay (.842) but not covering the spread, because the Packers are more comfortable in high scoring games. As such, look for that slim chance of a Bears victory (.158).

I take Bears (OVER) even though I see a Packers victory. Pick wisely, come back for Sunday's picks and until then watch out for the leader of the pack.

Monday, November 23, 2015

To Be The Man... - NFL 2015 MNF 11

Last Sunday, teams and fans around the country saw the New England Patriots pull out a last minute victory over the New York Giants. With each victory many fear the prospect of another undefeated regular season for the Patriots.

Though realistically the next true and last chance to spoil this outcome lies in next week's matchup against the Denver Broncos, the Buffalo Bills do pose some challenges for the New England Patriots.

One is familiarity, which can also work in the Patriots' favor. Second is Patriots looking ahead to next week. Third is Ric Flair's adage: To be the man, you gotta beat the man.

This is not just on Tyrod Taylor. It's not even on just Rex Ryan, though he had six seasons as the head coach of the New York Jets to unseat the Patriots.

This, this leviathan is on the Buffalo Bills and the other AFC East team who are just content to pray and pray for the Patriots' downfall. Are these three teams simply going to wait until Tom Brady retires?

Even after Brady retires, do they think Bill Belichick is not already preparing a new strategy or scouting for a comparable quarterback?

So, tonight's Monday Night Football game is Buffalo At New England (-7; 47.5). Whereas I called the upset special for the Houston Texans to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, I am not giving the Bills the same leeway.

The Buffalo Bills have to prove their real defense is the one that has kept 5 teams under 20 points five times this season.

This game is of utmost importance to Buffalo. A loss tonight and the AFC will have 8 teams vying for the final 2 playoff spots, with 5 of them holding a 5-5 record, the same one the Bills will have with a loss.

The New England Patriots have scored 27+ points in all 9 games. The Bills defense has only allowed that many points in 3 games, including the Week 2 matchup when the Patriots put 40 on them and won by 8 points.

The question is whether the Bills offense can put up 27+ points against the Patriots defense? The Bills scored 32 points in their previous matchup -- 19 points came in the fourth quarter, after they were down by 14 points.

The numbers break as Patriots (.842) to win by 14 points and Bills (.158) to win by 1 point.

So, I take Patriots (UNDER).  Pick wisely and come back for Thursday's picks. Tonight we find out whether the Bills are ready to dethrone the Patriots.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

NFL 2015 Week 11 - EvenMoney's Game of the Week (Bengals vs Cardinals)

Cincinnati At Arizona (-4.5; 48) pits two teams that are currently in second place in their respective conferences. This game has major consequences for teams chasing these two division leaders.

By tip-off time, Arizona will know whether it has sole possession of second place in the NFC. Barring a major losing streak, Arizona locks up the NFC West with a win.

This matchup comes down to the Cardinals offense versus the Bengals defense. The Cardinals have scored over 24 points in 7 out of 9 games. The Bengals defense has not yielded over 24 points this season, and is first in the NFL in Points Allowed.

This is not smoke and mirrors, as the Bengals have done this against 7 teams that score 21+ points per game.

When two top teams square off, something's got to give. In this case, the question is whether the Bengals "bend but don't break" defense can work against the Cardinals.

The Cardinals lead the league with 36 Extra Point Attempts and have attempted 18 Field Goals. Can you really go against that much offensive firepower?

So, I take the Cardinals (OVER). Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until enjoy two top teams try to take that next step.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jaguars On The Hunt for a Playoff Spot! NFL 2015 TNF 11


Tennessee At Jacksonville (-3; 42.5) signals a chance for the Jacksonville Jaguars to take a sharp turn in the franchise's fortune. The Jaguars have not made the playoffs since the 2007 season.

Since then Jacksonville has not had a winning season. With only a 3-6 record, the Jaguars can only aim for the playoffs because the AFC South division is having a terrible year.

Two teams are tied for first place with a 4-5 record. If Jacksonville wins tonight and both the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans lose on Sunday, there will be a three-way tie for the division.

Even if either or both teams win, the Jaguars can remain just one game off the lead with a win tonight against the 2-7 Tennessee Titans, who are last in the AFC South.

This game comes down to defense. The Jaguars defense has given up 31+ points in 4 games, and 20 points or less in 4 games. Facing a Titans team that has scored 14 points or less in 6 games, this is Jacksonville's chance to make believers of themselves.

On the other side of the ledger, the Titans defense has given up 27+ points in 5 games, and 20 points or less in 4 games. The Jaguars have scored 20+ points in 6 games.

Both teams have been wildly in consistent and no true pattern has evolved, but the Tennessee Titans have only won when they have scored over 34+ points. This can be a question of pace and whether the opponent can run the ball. Jacksonville cannot.

The question: can Jacksonville score 24 points while holding the Titans to under 21 points?

The numbers do not point favorably to either team when it comes to the spread, but Jacksonville is picked at .579 while Tennessee is at .421.

I take Jaguars (OVER). Pick wisely, come back for Sunday's picks and until then watch the Jaguars on the hunt for a playoff spot.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Texans Playing With House Money! - NFL 2015 MNF 10

The Houston Texans can do no wrong tonight. They will literally be playing with house money. The current line is Houston At Cincinnati (-10.5; 46.5).

Even with a 3-5 record, the Texans are only a half-game behind the Indianapolis Colts for the AFC South division lead. A win tonight and they will be tied with a chance at making the playoffs. The two teams have a comparable strength of schedule for their remaining games, which means their meeting in Week 15 could decide the division.

A win tonight against the undefeated (8-0) Cincinnati Bengals can be the restart Houston needs. So far, the Texans have been inconsistent, partly due to key injuries, specifically to Running Back, Arian Foster.

The Texans are near last in NFL Rushing at 87.9 yards per game and 6th in Passing at 281.5 yards per game. Much of this has to do with falling behind early in games and having to abandon the run. There has been some inconsistency at the quarterback position with the benching of Brian Hoyer. Now that the Texans have released Ryan Mallett, the position is for Hoyer to stabilize or lose for good.

The Texans should approach tonight's game with reckless abandon -- Pass first, go for it on 4th down when reasonable and speed up the game, possibly with a hurry up offense. This might be the best strategy because the Bengals defense is currently second in the league in points (17.8). This is interesting because they are not Top 10 in any other major defensive category.

The Bengals allow opponents to rack up yards while killing lots of clock and then limiting them to Field Goals. On offense, their offensive talent can score quickly- 3rd in points (28.6) while being 14th in actual Third Downs Made.

Houston's defense suffered two weeks where they gave up over 40 points (48 and 44). If the Texans defense can give up at or below the 25.6 points per game it allows, then not losing by 11 points is very likely.

The question: can the Bengals score 28 points tonight against a Texans defense that has proven to be an enigma?

The numbers break Bengals (.789) and Texans (.211), but I'm going out on a limb because I think Hoyer has a chance to be real Texas gunslinger while the defense holds up.

So, I take Texans (UNDER).  Pick wisely, and come back for Thursday's picks and tonight we find out just how desperate the Texans are for a win.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

NFL 2015 Week 10 - EvenMoney's Game of the Week (Patriots vs Giants)


New England At NY Giants (+7; 54.5) provides one of two remaining chances for the Patriots not to have an undefeated season. To beat the New England Patriots, a team needs a veteran quarterback who can challenge them. The next time for this to occur will be against the Denver Broncos in Week 12.

There were two previous weeks (1 and 6) when the Patriots faced teams with quarterbacks that posed such a threat. Since then, the Patriots have been able to bomb away and run through teams, knowing no matter the points they give up on defense, their offense will have a chance to surpass it.

The New York Giants have a veteran, championship level quarterback in Eli Manning, who is Top 5 to Top 10 in Completions, Attempts, Comp. Percentage, and Passing TouchDowns. Contrast this with the Giants being 24th in the league in Rushing at under 100 Yards per game and ZERO TouchDowns.

For the Giants to be competitive, Eli needs major help from the defense. Though much maligned for lapses of bad play and giving up 25.1 points per game, the Giants defense is Top 3 in Interceptions and Forced Fumbles.

Still they are ranked last in Sacks and hope the return of Jean Pierre-Paul provides immediate help. New York will need an effective pass rush to control Tom Brady and a Patriots offense that has scored 27+ points each game, averaging 34.5ppg and besting opponents by 16.63ppg.

Before taking that to the bank, do note that the large margins of victory has come against 4 teams with a combined record of 10-22. In the other 4 games, New England won by an average of 7.25 points.

That is not to say that Tom Brady is not having a superb season where he is Top 5 to Top 10 in 8 leading categories.

The question is simple: can the Giants defense hold the Patriots to 27 points or under? If so, then the Giants have won 4 out of 5 of games when their defense holds up.

So, I take the Giants (UNDER). Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until then watch two Super Bowl winning teams and quarterbacks give you a glimpse of the near future.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Can Buffalo's Tyrod Taylor Earn His Wings? NFL 2015 TNF 10

The Buffalo Bills (4-4) have not made the playoffs since the season ending 1999. Since then they have finished .500 or better four times, including this past season.

The coaching change to Rex Ryan was supposed to signal a continuation of that winning path, even though he made wholesale changes.

Three losses to division leaders and a slip up against the Jacksonville Jaguars has everyone writing the Buffalo Bills off. Two of these four losses came with starting Quarterback Tyrod Taylor injured.

Head coaches with big personalities, especially ones with a defense first philosophy, often make people think quarterbacks are interchangeable. So far, the Bills have realized this is not the case.

Buffalo's only chance to win lies on Rex's willingness to open up the offense and rely on Taylor's arm, decision-making and legs. For Quarterbacks who have started 4 or more games this season, Taylor is Top Five in QB Rating, Pass Percentage, Passing Yards Per Attempt and Rushing Yards Per Attempt.

Tonight Buffalo At NY Jets (-2; 41.5) pits Taylor against a Jets defense that is still Top 10 in the NFL but has slipped a bit due to recent lapses in the secondary and missed tackles.

After four seasons as a backup in Baltimore, this game is important for Taylor because it's his chance to be in the rising star quarterback conversation.

For the Buffalo Bills, this game is their playoffs. A loss tonight means they will need to finish the season 6-1 to earn a Wild Card spot.

The question: can Buffalo score 24 points? The Jets have not won a game this season when the opponent scores that much or more.

Though the Bills usually score 24+ when Taylor plays, these results are against teams with losing records and poor defenses.

I take Jets (OVER). Pick wisely, come back for Sunday's picks and look forward to the day Tyrod Taylor earns his wings.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Who Are Da Bears? - NFL 2015 MNF 9

Chicago At San Diego (-4; 50)  has Wild Card playoff implications for both teams, but moreso for the Bears because they will be just one game behind the NFC logjam for the final playoff spot.

It is a tall order because, even after a win tonight, Chicago is likely to go no better than 4-4 in their final 8 games. But, what if, the Bears are not who we thought they were?

The Bears are only 2-5 but 4 of their losses have come to teams with .500 or better records. Four of these teams would qualify if the playoffs started today. Three of these losses were to division foes who know them well and two could have been wins -- lost by 3 points twice.

The blowout losses were to NFC West teams. In Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, the Bears trailed 28-20 at the half and then Quarterback Jay Cutler got hurt. The Bears went on to lose 48-23.

The next week they were shut out 26-0 on the road at Seattle with Jay Clausen at QB. With Cutler back from injury, Chicago won their next two matchups versus AFC West opponents.

The next two losses -- one due to questionable calls against them at Detroit -- were against fellow NFC North opponents.

Tonight's game will pit the Bears against another AFC West opponent, the San Diego Chargers who are 2-6 and currently on a four-game losing streak.

The Chargers are normally involved in high-scoring affairs because they have offensive firepower and score 23.88 points per game. In return, they give up 28.38.

San Diego has not yielded less than 24 points in any game this year. In both their Wins, the opponent scored, at least, 27 points.

In 3 of their last 4 games, the Bears have held teams to under 24 points.

The question: Do Da Bears have enough offensive firepower to withstand the Chargers' air assault?

The numbers break only on the percentages, not the spread: Bears (.684) and Chargers (.316)

So, I take Bears (Under).  Pick wisely, and come back for Thursday's picks and tonight we find out whether "da Bears are who we thought they were".

Sunday, November 08, 2015

NFL 2015 Week 9 - EvenMoney's Game of the Week (Packers vs Panthers)

Green Bay At Carolina (+2.5; 46) could decide whether the race to the NFC playoffs has intrigue or becomes humdrum. For it to remain riveting, Green Bay has to lose. 

From there, it does not matter the outcome of the matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the St. Louis Rams because 10 teams will fully be in play for the Wild Card.

A week ago, before the loss to the Denver Broncos, the Packers looked unbeatable, as if this season could go down as one talked about for generations. They had won 6 games by 10.5 points. They had a balanced team, where the running game paced them and helped them maintain leads.

Even Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in on the act (160 yards in 6 games), while throwing it on everybody, averaging 8.16 Yard per Attempt , heading for roughly 4,000 yards for the season. Was Denver's defense the driving force to Rodgers's poor 3.5 Yards per Attempt performance? Or was it something that had been looming but hidden?

Mike Tyson famously and accurately quipped, "Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth." Until facing the Broncos, Green Bay had scored first in all of its games, even the come from behind win against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Carolina Panthers are more of a team that builds momentum as the game progresses. They are as likely to fall behind by 3 points as they are to take a 7 point lead.

Though the underdog, the Panthers have more than a puncher's chance to beat the Packers back into the playoff pack; they have Cam Newton.

Using the previous metrics, through 6 games, Cam was on his way to 3400 yards for the season and had 245 yards rushing.

Third in the NFL, Cam Newton averages 13 yards per completion and this is not due to his receivers' YAC (yard after catch). The Panthers use long passes to open up the running game and they lead the NFL in Rushing, where Green Bay's defense is near the bottom.

This is a toss-up for the win, with Carolina getting the slight nod because they are at home. The numbers break as Panthers (.526) to win by 7 points, and Packers (.474) to win by 5 points.

So, I take the Panthers (OVER). Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until then watch which team triumphs.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

What Can Browns Do For You? NFL 2015 TNF 9

With only 10 teams above .500 and 4 of them undefeated, what do you make of NFL 2015? There are three tiers: the undefeateds; the average, at 4+ wins; and the upset-minded.

The Cleveland Browns are of the latter caliber. Up until two weeks ago, before losing to the St. Louis Rams, the Browns looked average, like they could make a slow push to the playoffs.

These past two weeks, with losses at a combined 32 points, have pushed Cleveland down, to the point where no one is giving them a chance to win this Thursday Night Football matchup.

Cleveland at Cincinnati (-11.5; 45) stands as the Browns last chance to salvage the season or merely save face. With Johnny Manziel starting in place of injured Josh McCown, the odds are slim that Cleveland reaches the 28+ points it would take to beat the Bengals.

Cincinnati is one the of undefeated teams, beating opponents by 9.42 points per game. No opponent has scored more than 24 points all season.

That's where division rivalry comes into play. In their two NFC North matchups, the Bengals won by an average of 5 points and had to fight to the bitter end for both wins.

Division rivalries count for something and these two teams have split their past 6 games, with current standing and home field meaning very little. Winners have done so by 10+ points in five of the games.

Cleveland's defense gives up 24 points by seemingly walking on the field; and on average 27 points per game for the year. The weight of this game is on Johnny Manziel's shoulders.

That's a tough order, so I take Bengals (UNDER). Pick wisely, come back for Sunday's picks and look forward to the day Browns can do something for you.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Carolina In My Mind - NFL 2015 MNF 8

A win tonight and the Carolina Panthers will remain the lone undefeated team in the NFC. Let's not look ahead because next week they face the Green Bay Packers who got handled and handed their first loss yesterday.

Even if we were to look ahead, Carolina has a chance to finish 14-2, provided they win tonight. Tonight's Monday Night Football matchup against the Indianapolis Colts can be problematic because the Panthers have not fully distinguished themselves.

Though they stand at 6-0, the Panthers have not beaten a team with a winning (over .500) record. The Panthers have been winning ugly, with defense being their calling card.

Coupled with a defense that only gives up 18.33 points per game, their offense puts up 27 points per game. The Panthers are about ball control -- the running game, which shortens the game and their opponents' opportunities to score.

On the other side, the Colts are near the bottom in scoring at 21 points per game. Their strength is the passing game which should make for an interesting battle against Carolina's defense.

Could this be the sleeper game where the Panthers fall behind early and are forced to abandon the run?

I'm thinking Carolina can win even if it comes down to that because Indianapolis gives up too many yards. The Panthers will get to, at least, 20 points.

The question for Indianapolis at Carolina (-5.5; 45.5): can the Colts score 18 or more points against the Panthers defense?

So, I take Panthers (Under).  Pick wisely, and come back for Thursday's picks and enjoy having Carolina on your mind.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

NFL 2015 Week 8 - EvenMoney's Game of the Week (Giants vs Saints)

After their 0-3 start, the Saints have been rising to the top, winning three of their last four games. A win today and the New Orleans Saints are in the race for a Wild Card playoff spot.

The Saints will need help from other teams, mainly the Chicago Bears beating the Minnesota Vikings. After today's game, New Orleans finish the year with a soft schedule where they can go 6-2.

Today's game: New York at New Orleans (-3; 50) is a must-win for any of this to matter. For the Saints, it is hard to pinpoint what has led to the recent wins. In the past four games, they have scored 5 more points while giving up 3 less points. Yet, no one area of the game jump out as the catalyst for this turnaround.

Chances are it is momentum gained from their win against the Atlanta Falcons; the inverse of how they started the season.

The New York Giants have not gotten traction this season. Plagued with injuries at the Wide Receiver position and no consistent running game, Quarterback Eli Manning is being asked to do more.

Manning has been steady but the Giants go as their defense does -- giving up 22 points per game. A team that scores 24 or more points has a 75% chance to beat the Giants.

Today's question: Can the New Orleans Saints muster enough offense to beat the New York Giants?

The Saints have scored 26 or more in their 3 wins, and average 19 in their 4 losses.

This is a toss-up for the win with Saints getting the slight nod. For our purposes, the numbers break to Giants (.895) to win by 2 points and Saints (.105) to lose by 2 points.

So, I take the Giants (UNDER). Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and continue rising to the top.