Papas Picks: Top 5 2010 NFL Week 9 Underdogs
I was just 2-3 last week, marking one of the few times I’ve lost a week this season. I still think I made some solid selections. Going against the Lions doesn’t look as good now that the Redskins lost, but Washington absolutely didn’t come to play in that game, which is evidenced by Ryan Torain’s 9 rushes for 10 yards. I took the Jags, seemed easy, it was. I had Tennessee, and I still like that one if Vince Young doesn’t fall down and sprain his left pinky toe-nail. What a baby. Miami just went to Cincinnati and kept the Bengals’ disappointing season going strong. And then I might have stretched it on the Vikings – but that game ended up being closer than it was moving. All in all – shoot, I lost a week – on to Week 9 and what looks like another profitable experience.
Week 9 Free Picks
Arizona Cardinals (+9) @ Minnesota Vikings: Just based on Brad Childress being a numskull, and now a lame-duck coach, and the Vikings horrendous record this season, and their inability to rush the passer or complete drives- just based on those things, I’ll take any team and 9 points, even the hapless Cardinals.
Indianapolis Colts (+3) @ Philadelphia Eagles: You probably can’t remember me picking the Colts as an underdog ever, well, that’s because they’re always favored. Anytime I get points and Peyton, I do my best to get him on my ballot – if you can dig it? I know Lucky keeps telling me that Vick is going to stop the Colts from doing what they do defensively, and that should make a mediocre defense pretty bad, but I’m ignoring that little know-it-all.
Miami Dolphins (+5.5) @ Baltimore Ravens: 5.5 is a lot of points for a game that’s about to be separated by a field goal. These teams are actually very much the same – both have QBs that can get it done very well, and can look very bad – both have decent running games that were better the last couple years than they are this season. And both have very good defenses that don’t rate out as good as they are. Miami playin’ well on the road, I’ll take them.
Detroit Lions (+4.5) @ HOME VS. New York Jets: Call me lots of things, but I might be on to something here. The Lions can throw it, they can do it efficiently, and they have game breakers (not just Calvin Johnson, but Nate Burleson and Jahvid Best as well) – plus some solid guys that consistently help them move the ball, Brandon Petitgrew for one. They’re at home, they’ve been playing well, Stafford’s back and gunning – should be closer than you expect in New York.
Buffalo Bills (+3) @ HOME VS. Chicago Bears: I will be happy when I’m right about this one. The Bills are ready to win, two OTs in a row, they played better than both of the teams they lost to, eventually that has to be a win – why not this week against Jay Turnover and the Teddy’s?
NFL UPSET OF THE WEEK
I’m going for less of a big risk this week, but I still think that if Arian Foster runs more than Schaub throws, the Texans beat the Colts – if only Kubiak could pull his head out far enough to see that. The funny thing is, he did it once. Anyway, this week the Texans try to get back on the saddle against San Diego, one of the real statistical anomalies in sports. #1 D, #1 O, 2-5 on the season. Crazy. I think they go to 2-6, because if they’ve been good at something, it’s playing to the level of their opponents and finding a way to lose.
Miami Dolphins @ Baltimore Ravens Football Betting Predictions: A normally pathetic road team, the Dolphins have actually gone undefeated away from Miami this season, starting the year 4-0 on the road (and oddly, winless at home). The Dolphins are a lot tougher, on both sides of the ball, than your average sports fan would think, especially defensively. For example, one would probably think that Baltimore is one of the best defenses in the league while Miami is no better than middle of the road. Only the Dolphins are playing very tough against some of the better teams in the league over the last 3 games, while Baltimore has really been struggling with a trio that includes Buffalo, Denver, and New England.
In those three games, the Ravens have given up five more points than Miami has, nearly 100 more yards than Miami has (easily taking the cake in passing yards against (243-318) and rushing yards against (80-99.3). Defensively, the Miami no-names, and Karlos Dansby, are having one heck of a season – unrecognized by many, of course.
The other thing Baltimore has working against them is how they should have lost against the Bills, barely winning the rushing battle against a bad run defense, and getting torched by Ryan Fitzpatrick and his trio of lights-out receivers, Lee Evans, Steve Johnson, and Roscoe Parrish – but they won. I always love picking against a team that won when they should have lost, especially when they had two weeks to mull it over like Baltimore did – good enough for me! I’ll take them road water-mammals!
NFL Week 9 Free Picks New England Patriots @ Cleveland Brown: The Browns are tough. And the Patriots have made some very questionable calls over the last couple games, and eventually that kind of garbage is going to get them in the jugular. That old “Go for it on 4th down from midfield with a minute left when you’re up 3” should have done them in against San Diego, but they pulled it out. Their little “two QB sneaks to waste time” call against Minnesota, when they were up just three points, should have backfired – but they scored on the next play to look like geniuses. And they’ve just played a lot of close games (against good teams, mind you, but still) and that eventually adds up. They’ve lost the yardage battle 5 times in the 7 games they’ve played this season, but they still have Tom Brady, they still have one of the best coaches (at least preparation-wise) in football, and their defense bends without breaking quite well.
But I’m taking the Browns, a team that should be a lot healthier coming out of their bye. Peyton Hillis, who has become a battering ram for this Browns team, comes out of the bye left off the injury report, and that’s good news for the Browns. The Pats have been decent against the run, but with Cleveland’s offensive line doing work, and Hillis healthy, Cleveland should be able to run effectively against the Pats.
I know Colt McCoy doesn’t seem like a guy you’d want to wager your gambling money on, being a rookie and a project and all, but he can keep a play alive with his feet, and he’s an accurate passer – completing 66% of his passes in two games against the likes of Pittsburgh and New Orleans, not your run of the mill teams. Cleveland has played tough against good teams, and I think that continues at home this weekend.
New England Patriots @ Cleveland Brown (+5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons NFL Week 9 Free Picks: 70% of the sportsbook action is coming in on the Bucs and that big spread. What do the masses see? Oh, I don’t know, at least a couple of the things that I’m seeing. Though the more I look at the numbers, the more I wonder about my Buccaneers pick here. But I’m sticking with it, because, at the very least, I have some momentum and 9 points on my side, that has to worth something.
What really irks me about the Bucs is their average points against versus their average points for. Now, it would suggest that the Bucs should no way be an above .500 team, let along rocking the best record in the NFC (tied with the Falcons, of course). The Bucs average 4 points less per game than they’ve scored. Now some of that has to do with them getting blown out in their losses to good teams. New Orleans took them by 25 points a few weeks ago, and the Steelers routed them 38-13 in Week 3. Then you have to recognize that the games they do win (amazingly, five so far this season) are by small margins. Only one of their wins (@Carolina 20-7) has been by more than a field goal. They actually have 3 wins by 3 points, one win by a point, and the Carolina win. They have yet to beat a team with a .500 record or better, tallying their wins against Arizona, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and those tough-tough Panthers… Of those teams, I’d probably say Cincinnati at least has the talent to be good, and St. Louis can be tough at home.
But hey, they have learned how to win – even when they don’t play their best, and it’s not like they are without weapons, or a little friend by the name of momentum. They’ve won 3 of their last 4, two of them road games, and now they play a Falcons team coming off the bye. I’ll take them.
New York Jets @ Detroit Lions Point Spread Betting Picks: Really? A field goal and a half a point are all that separate the dastardly Lions and their ginormous home field advantage? I feel like stealing candy from a group of kids, wait, that’s what we’re doing when we’re taking the Jets. I say “WE” because it’s exactly true, this has to be the most lopsided betting line of the season, as over 70% of ladies and gents are taking refuge on the Jets side of this line. Should WE be worried? You bet, anytime the books take that kind of money on one side of a small line like this, something might very well be up. But I can’t help myself, I’m going to continue to think the candy I’m taking is right from the sportsbooks, and their silly Halloween costumes. I’ll just chalk it up as an early birthday/really early Christmas present.
The Jets might not have the secondary statistics that we’ve all expected, but you know that Lions team won’t be able to run the ball even against the Jets base D. So New York can keep the secondary full of trouble for Matthew Stafford – and I just have a feeling that Revis is getting more and more healthy, and that can only be good of the Jets. Remember, they shut down one of the better offenses in the league last week – holding Green Bay to just 3 field goals is an impressive feat. So maybe they’re back?
Calvin Johnson is a beast, one of the truly unguardable players in the league – but I don’t see the Jets letting him beat them, so I see the Jets winning by double digits.
Central Florida Knights @ Houston Cougars Point Spread Pick: Houston just isn’t the same kind of football team without Case Keenum at quarterback, and because of that they’ve struggled keeping up with teams that can run with consistency. The Central Florida Knights run the ball very well. In fact, they’ve out-rushed all but one opponent so far this season (NC State). That ability to keep the ball on the ground and gash their opponents has led the Knights to six wins already this season, most recently winning 4 straight games and scoring at least 35 points in every single contest. Did I mention that they’ve won 6 straight games against the spread? A gambling gem quite possibly?
The only teams Central Florida has lost to are North Carolina State and Kansas State, and both games came right down to the wire, CFU losing by a touchdown or less in both.
I know that Houston can score, and they can throw the ball. Not quite like they used to, but they aren’t to be sold short – they can still produce offensively. I just think the consistency of that Central Florida rushing attack, led by Ronnie Weaver’s 638 yards and 10 touchdowns, as well as Jeff Godfrey’s dual threat at the quarterback position (4 touchdowns throwing, 5 rushing), will be too much for the Cougars to counter. That’s why I expect the Knights to win outright on the road at Houston.
Central Florida Knights (-2) @ Houston Cougars
Hawaii Warriors @ Boise State Broncos Point Spread Picks: I highlighted this game and originally wanted to take the Warriors. I pointed this one out early last week as a game that would have good value on the road dogs – but after careful consideration, I’ve decided that as good as Hawaii has played thus far, they haven’t faced anything like what Boise State is going show them, a very good defense and one of the best offenses in the country. This game started as a 23.5 point spread and quickly was bought down to 21 as early money recognized the Warriors solid play this season. Hawaii is 8-1 ATS and 7-2 straight up, losing to USC and on the road at Colorado.
Not only has Hawaii won 6 straight games, but they shut down a pretty good offense (Idaho) last time out, and beat a very good Nevada team, holding the Wolf Pack to just 21 points – Nevada’s worst offensive output of the season. They’ve been playing very good football – but even so, Nevada, Fresno State, and Idaho don’t hold a candle to the Broncos on their blue turf in Boise. This game should be a blowout – just like most of the games the Broncos host.
And then the kicker, this time, more than any, is a great time to bet on Boise. They’ve had 4 more days of preparation, and anybody that’s done any research can tell you that Boise does their best work when they have extra time to prepare. They have one of the best head coaches in football, and he gets the most out of those extra hours on the practice field.
Hawaii Warriors @ #4 Boise State Broncos (-21)
Washington Huskies @ Oregon Ducks Week 10 College Football Picks: This game is going to absolutely be the biggest in-conference joke of the season. The Huskies rely on Jake Locker for so much of their ebb and flow that his absence all by itself would almost certainly kill the Huskies. And then you add in the reality of playing Oregon, at Oregon, and I don’t even think I can begin to explain the coming discrepancy in yards and touchdowns that is about to happen.
Oregon scores 55 points per game and they’ve lit up some solid defenses, some defenses that the Huskies could hardly touch. They dropped 42 on a good Arizona State defense, threw up 53 on USC defense that is, at the very least, fast. And torched Stanford for 52 points as well. To put that last one into perspective, the Huskies couldn’t manage a single point against the Cardinal.
Oregon has gained 800+ more yards than their opponents in their last 4 games. The Huskies haven’t even out-gained 4 teams this season.
I know UW is trying to change their culture, trying to recruit players that can compete on the level of teams like Oregon – but it’s not there yet. With their best player, and leader, watching from the sidelines, the Huskies will be Lucky if this game is 50-6 when the final whistle blows. LUCKY. I know this line has moved drastically since I took my best on Tuesday, but I still think 35 points would be tough for this UW team to cover, even if almighty Jake was playing.
Washington Huskies @ Oregon Ducks (-28.5)
Week 10 NCAA Free Picks Baylor Bears @ Oklahoma State Cowboys: This spread has moved around on me since Tuesday. It opened at 9 then took a dive down to 7 at a couple books (and that’s where I got it) only to climb back up to the 8.5-9 zone as I write this preview on Thursday afternoon. But I don’t think the spread is going to matter, I just think the Cowboys are going to come out and clean up shop on the Bears.
Baylor has been competitive in almost every game they’ve played this season, but then again, that’s how you get to 7-2. The problem is, I don’t know how many worth teams they’ve played against. The one good team they’ve played is TCU, and the Horned Frogs out-rushed the Bears by 192 yards and out-passed them by 103 yards. TCU won that game, 45-10, and I’m willing to say it wasn’t that close. Baylor’s 7 wins this season look like this, Sam Houston State, Buffalo, Rice, Kansas, Colorado, then Kansas State and Texas. Those last two aren’t bad, the Wildcats are solid and Texas can certainly play well (they can play terribly as well, hence them finding themselves on the outside of the Top 25).
This week, when Kendall Hunter (over 1000 yards rushing already) and Justin Blackmon use their game breaking ability against the Baylor Bears, that should give the Cowboys an easy double digit win.
#21 Baylor Bears @ Oklahoma State Cowboys (-7)
Illinois Illini @ Michigan Wolverines Week 10 NCAA Football Picks: The Illini just seem like the much better team here. They have faired better against the spread, they’ve played close games against good teams, they’ve out-rushed every opponent they’ve played this season outside of Ohio State, and they have accumulated a point differential of +10 (and most of those plus points have come from the Big 10 conference schedule.
The Illini came up 11 points short against Ohio State, then slammed Penn State, Indiana, and Purdue. A 10 point loss to Missouri, and a poor game against Michigan State were their only other losses so far this season.
Michigan is finding out how to lose again, coming in with three straight losses (though against pretty solid teams) 17-34 against Michigan State, 28-39 against Iowan, and 31-41 at Penn State.
This game will have lots of running, but in the end I think it comes down to defense. Illinois has a pretty dang good one, allowing just 16.8 points per game this season, playing their best football over the past 5 games. Michigan doesn’t have one. They’ve given up at least 34 points in 4 straight games, and 4 touchdowns or more 6 times this season.
I know Denard Robinson is a stud, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes for nearly 400 yards of offense in this game. But he doesn’t play defense, and that’s where Michigan needs a couple game changers. They might not score fast, but Illinois is going to drive the ball down the field with relative ease, and that should end in a win for the Illini.
Illinois Illini (+3) @ Michigan Wolverines