This week in sports: Home dogs

Last week every home team was favored. They went 8-5 ATS and 9-4 SU with the Chiefs being the only home team to win and not cover. I picked eight underdogs and only five favorites, but still went 8-5 overall. This week has seven home underdogs. For the year home underdogs are 22-16, which isn't really significant enough to draw any conclusions. Let's make some overly generic predictions before getting to the slightly more specific predictions. I think home underdogs will go 4-3 ATS (I know...such a bold prediction) and since I always take the Chargers, I have to find two more home dogs I think will lose. Between Buffalo (vs. Chicago), Cleveland (vs. New England), Detroit (vs. NY Jets) and Cincinnati (vs. Pittsburgh), who are all underdogs by 3-4.5 points, I think one team will get blown out, one team will lose, but cover, one team will win outright and one team will provide an extra game so that my odds of getting this prediction right are much higher than you think. Although Chicago @ Buffalo is actually in Canada (saying Canada makes it seem so much farther away...driving from Buffalo to Toronto only takes about two hours, and most of that is because there is a big lake in the way), so do we count them as a home dog? Are they half home, half neutral site? Would this allow me to say that 3 or 4 home underdogs will beat the spread this week? Can I be less bold?

As for the Chargers, Bill Simmons put it best that Norv Turner is completely capable of going on a six game winning streak, saving his job and frustrating Chargers fans that he saved his job. As a total Chargers homer, I don't exactly know how to feel about Norv Turner. We have discussed how Turner is one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL, while lacking significantly (so far) as a head coach. I love the Chargers offensive game plans. Philip Rivers ability to throw deep passes accurately means we are always in the game, capable of scoring quickly and overcoming large deficits. But something about the way Norv Turner coaches means we are in holes early a little too often. I want to keep Turner and his offensive playcalling (he has won several Super Bowls this way), but I can't stand always failing to exceed expectations. No team in the NFL fears me as a Chargers fan. I know that we are capable of beating everyone in the NFL, but we are also capable of losing to the Raiders, Rams, Chiefs and Seahawks. Ok...I need to rein in my emotions and move on to something a little more objective...

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-8.5): This line confuses me more than any other this week. Maybe people don't know that Tampa Bay is 5-2? Atlanta is also 5-2. Matt Ryan plays better at home. Roddy White is the best receiver in football right now. But 8.5 points? Vegas is saying, and half the betting public is agreeing, that the Falcons will win by 9? The only teams Atlanta could beat by nine are a combined 5-9 (Arizona and Cleveland). The only teams able to beat the Bucs by nine are a combined 10-5 (Pittsburgh and New Orleans). Now, I'm not saying the Bucs are better than the Falcons, but I think it is significantly more likely that either the Bucs win, the Falcons win by 3, or the Falcons win by 7 than the Falcons covering 8.5. I want to say this is a good example that you always have to remember that a bookmaker's goal is not to predict the winning margin. Their goal in establishing the line is to get half the people to bet one side and half on the other so that they don't lose any money, but collect a commission from everyone. Atlanta is a sexy team. Matt Ryan shaves on TV. Michael Turner was second in the league in rushing two years ago. Bettors can't pick Josh Freeman out of a lineup. They compete to come up with crappy cars to which Carnell Williams should change his nickname. Especially this year, I'm taking the Bucs and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Roddy White leads the game in receiving yards.
Bold prediction: Mike Williams has more receptions than Roddy White.

Chicago (-3) @ Buffalo: What are your thoughts on these neutral site NFL games? The 49ers had seven home games in Candlestick-3Com-Monster (not like Monster cables...isn't that confusing and sucky for the company that paid the money)-Candlestick and one home game in Wembley Stadium. The Bills have seven home games in Buffalo and one in Toronto. Although both these teams have been bad enough that this probably increased their attendance. Buffalo's defense has one interception on the year. Jay Cutler...well, other than his four interception game against DeAngelo Hall a couple weeks ago (that's right, it was the Bear's offense vs. DeAngelo Hall and DeAngelo Hall won), he has thrown surprisingly few interceptions this year. I mean, surprising for him. Ryan Fitzpatrick is completely capable of outplaying Jay Cutler. When I first looked at this game, my immediate thought was, "I have no confidence in the Bears to cover any spread." Then I started looking into my usual metrics and realized that Buffalo is REALLY bad. I couldn't find a single positive thing to say about them...other than that Ryan Fitzpatrick can throw for a lot of yards, but many losing quarterbacks do that anyways. In fact, I couldn't find many stats that didn't say Buffalo is the worst team in the NFL. So you know what...I still don't have any confidence in the Bears. I'm taking the Toronto Bills and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Matt Forte leads all running backs in this game in fantasy points.
Bold prediction: Greg Olsen catches a touchdown.

New England (-4.5) @ Cleveland: Is New England the best team in the NFL right now? They are the only team with one loss. They're defense is below average, but their offense is top five. They have Tom Brady and Bill Belichik. They have annoying fans, like this guy. I'm going to say no. There is no best team in the NFL right now. Cleveland doesn't suck...well, they're not the worst team in the NFL. Someone might take a look at this line and be confused that the Patriots are only a 4.5 point favorite. Not me. This line feels right. Cleveland has kind of been screwed by the schedule. Every team they have lost to is currently 5-2. (Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Baltimore, Atlanta, Pittsburgh). They two teams they have faced with less than a 70% winning percentage, they have beaten. But New England is the kind of team that takes care of business and beats lesser teams by at least a touchdown. I'm taking the Patriots to cover.
Not so bold prediction: Wes Welker leads the game in receptions.
Bold prediction: The Law Firm and Peyton Hillis both score touchdowns.

NY Jets (-4) @ Detroit: Another game that falls under the - "Wait, isn't one team a lot better than the other? How is the spread only four points?", but actually is an appropriate line - category. The Jets defense is good, but not as good as last year. The offense is ok, but Sanchez is still inconsistent. The Lions defense is a little better than totally sucky and Ndomok-Ndamoku- Ndamukong Suh is playing like he should have been the #1 overall pick in the draft. The offense has Megatron and no one is making jokes that he should change his nickname. At the very least, the Lions are able to lose close games instead of getting blown out. I'm saying the Jets win by a field goal or Detroit scores a garbage time TD and I'm taking the Lions and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Calvin Johnson leads the game in receiving yards.
Bold prediction: There is a defensive touchdown in this game.

Arizona @ Minnesota (-8.5): Arizona is 3-4. Minnesota is 2-5. Arizona is bad. Minnesota is also bad. Without Randy Moss, Percy Harvin gets a lot more attention. Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL, but Brett Favre looks like he's 50 and is playing like he's 60. I have no confidence in a 2-5 team to cover 9 points against anyone, much less a team led by Brett Favre, that just waived its best receiver after trading for him four weeks ago. I would have loved for the Patriots to sign Randy Moss. It would have been hilarious for the net result of Brad Childress' actions was a 1-3 stretch and donating a draft pick to the Patriots. Remember, the Cardinals are bad, but the Vikings are bad also. I'm taking the Cardinals and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Adrian Peterson leads the game in rushing yards.
Bold prediction: Percy Harvin has more rushing+receiving yards than any Cardinal.

New Orleans (-6.5) @ Carolina: You know why you have so many home dogs this week? Because the visiting teams are above average or good and the home teams are really, really bad. Drew Brees is still completing 70% of his passes (70!!!!) and leads the league in passing TDs. Matt Moore is dead last in passer rating. Dead. Last. Worse than Derek Anderson. Worse than rookie Sam Bradford. Worse than Alex Smith. Alex Smith. I'll wait until that sinks in. Their starting running back this week, The Daily Show, is averaging 2.8 yards per carry with one touchdown. I honestly can't see how the Panthers can get within a touchdown. I'm taking the Saints to cover.
Not so bold prediction: Drew Brees leads the game in fantasy points.
Bold prediction: Exactly one non-quarterback has double digit fantasy points.

Miami @ Baltimore (-5.5): Remember, I've tried to tell you that the Dolphins are decent. They're above average. They play well against most teams. They're undefeated on the road and have only been blown out by New England. Baltimore likes to play three point games. I just realized that I never did a recap of my predictions last week, but off the top of my head, my favorite 'Not so bold' prediction last week was picking the underdog Dolphins to win outright and they beat the Bengals 22-14. This should be a good game between two teams with winning records with all kinds of playoff implications and CBS agrees with me showing it all over the country. So in a close game, I'll take the Dolphins and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Ray Rice leads the game in rushing yards.
Bold prediction: The Dolphins win outright.

NY Giants (-6) @ Seattle: Charlie Whitehurst was drafted in 2006 by the Chargers and is now in his fifth year in the league. In 2006 had had a carry for 14 yards and a touchdown. He also had a rush of -1 yards, which is probably just a kneel down. He has never attempted a pass in his career. He's a quarterback in the NFL, who has never attempted a pass in his five year career. This week he's starting against the Giants. He's been on my favorite team for four years and the only thing I know about him is that he went to Clemson. And you know what...with the Giants traveling across the country and the Seahawks success at home, I think New York slips a little early in the game and has to fight its way back. I'm don't think the Seattle is a better team, but I'll take the Seahawks and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Ahmad Bradshaw leads the game in rushing yards.
Bold prediction: There is a defensive or special teams touchdown.

Kansas City @ Oakland (-2.5): I'd be happy with either team winning in this game. An Oakland win would mean the Chargers are one game closer to catching the division leading Chiefs. It would also show that the Chiefs are not as good as their 5-2 record. They just kind of feel like they should be 5-3. Matt Cassel and Jason Campbell are average quarterbacks at best. A Chiefs win would mean that I am correct, because I think the Chiefs are a better team than the Raiders and there's no way they should be getting points to play in Oakland. I would pick the Chiefs to win outright, but now I'm getting points to choose the better team? Thank you and good day. I've even got two bold predictions about this game.
Bold prediction #1: No one gets 100 yards rushing or receiving.
Bold prediction #2: There are more lost fumbles than interceptions.

Indianapolis @ Philadelphia (-3): Another good game between two teams with winning records, but not as many playoff implications because they are in different conferences. Both teams LOVE throwing the ball. Both teams actually play decent defense against the pass, but do a bad job defending the run. In games like this, it is usually not the team that out-strengths the other team that wins. It's the team that can improve their weakness enough that its not a liability that wins. That means this game will not be decided by which team in passing better, but which team in running the ball better. I don't necessarily mean running for the most yards because that will almost certainly be the Eagles with McCoy and Vick rushing more than Brown and Hart. I mean the team that occasionally runs on third and short and gets the first down. As of right now, I don't know which team I am picking to win, but I do know that I am taking the Colts and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Peyton Manning leads the game in passing yards.
Bold prediction: Jeremy Maclin has more fantasy points than Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon or DeSean Jackson.

Dallas @ Green Bay (-8): Green Bay has already shown that they can score nine points and still cover 8. Dallas is 1-6 AND 1-6 ATS. That's either some bad lines by Vegas and the betting public or some REALLY bad play by the Cowboys. And they were losing before Jon Kitna became their starting quarterback. At what point do they enter the discussion of the #1 overall pick? (Not for a while...Buffalo and Carolina are still much worse than the Cowboys) Green Bay is still one of the better balanced teams in the NFL and I will be picking against the Cowboys until they give me reason otherwise. I think the Packers win by double digits.
Not so bold prediction: Aaron Rodgers leads the game in fantasy points.
Bold prediction: Aaron Rodgers has more fantasy points FROM RUSHING than Marion Barber.

Pittsburgh (-4.5) @ Cincinnati: Isn't Ben Roethlisberger like MANY-1 in the state of Ohio or something? The Steelers have the best defense in the NFL and Carson Palmer keeps getting completions after bouncing off opposing corners and safeties. (Side note: I started typing Troy Pol... into Google prefilled "Troy Polamalu" first and "Troy Polamalu hair" second. I was planning on typing the second one.) The Steelers don't make mistakes like other teams do and I think the Steelers cover this one easily.
Not so bold prediction: Hines Ward leads the game in receptions.
Bold prediction: Terrel Owens and Chad Ochocinco combine for more fantasy points than Hines Ward and Mike Wallace. (and I hate typing that)


  1. I'm taking Tampa Bay +8.5, New England -4.5, New Orleans -6.5, Miami +5.5, Green Bay -8, Kansas City +2.5, Indianapolis +3.

  2. I'm late, but took the following:

    Saints -7: The Panthers suck. Enough said.

    Ravens -5: Ravens playing at home after a bye week? The Dolphins playing their 2nd game on the road? I'll take the Ravens, thank you very much.

    Chiefs +3: I think the Chiefs are legit, and the Raiders are getting too much love after 'strong' wins over poor teams (Denver, Seattle).

  3. Woah - what happened to my comment here?

  4. I took TB +8.5, Miami +5.5, NE -4.5, Indy +3, and Pitt -4.5. I have no idea why this didn't post, but I'm pissed. I miraculously went 3-2 even though TB and Indy barely covered.

  5. Updated standings:

    Aaron: 28-23-2
    Scott: 15-11-2
    Royce: 16-15-1
    MP: 0-0

  6. I went 5-6 in the 'Not so bold' category and 6-7 in the 'Bold' category. My favorite predictions were Aaron Rodgers having more fantasy points from rushing than Marion Barber (pretty sad for Barber), the Chiefs and Raiders combing for more lost fumbles than interceptions and there being exactly one non-quarterback in the NO-CAR game with double digit fantasy points.