Week 2 NFL Picks

(Home team in CAPS)

Jets (Pick) over BILLS

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I’m as excited as anyone to bring the Thursday Night Dumpster Fire back, but for the time being, 2-0 ATS will have to suffice.

Titans (+6) over LIONS

Detroit +3.5 last week was all too obvious a pick by the time kickoff had rolled around. I’m expecting a similar opinion about the Titans’ line by Sunday morning. While Detroit’s offense has kept that same uptempo pace that made them such a fascinating watch in the second half of last season, their defense was quietly torched for four passes of 25-plus yards in Week 1. Darius Slay, who allowed no receptions in coverage against the Colts, will likely shadow Tajae Sharp. Unfortunately for the Lions, that leaves the rest of their defense scrambling to cover Delanie Walker.

TEXANS (-2.5) over Chiefs

Prior to Keenan Allen suffering a torn ACL in Week 1, Rivers had averaged 8.1 yards per attempt against Kansas City. He averaged 6.0 YPA once Allen went down. Don’t let his 243 yards on the day fool you. His middling results were simply a byproduct of losing his No. 1 receiver mid-game. The Chiefs’ defense is in disarray and, quite frankly, an overrated unit without Justin Houston. Have yourself a day, Will Fuller.

Dolphins (+6.5) over PATRIOTS

New England’s victory over Arizona was more a testament to the brilliance of Bill Belichick rather than any sorta arrival for Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense. The Patriots are 6-10-2 ATS against the AFC East over the last three seasons.

RAMS (+6.5) over Seahawks

Any time you can take Case Keenum getting points at home, you have to do it.

(Actually, this line opened as Rams +4 in April. I’m just gravitating towards the value. Also, I’m an idiot.)

BROWNS (+6) over Ravens

15 of Baltimore’s last 17 games have been decided by a one-score margin. I was much more confident in Josh McCown’s play while he was under Marc Trestman’s tutelage in Chicago, but the Ravens clearly haven’t shown anything that warrants them being six-point road favorites in a division game. This spread is also inflated since Cleveland looked atrocious in Week 1. In April, for instance, the Ravens opened as three-point road favorites.

Bengals (+3.5) over STEELERS

A.J. Green has averaged 13.5 targets, nine receptions, 139 yards, and 0.75 touchdowns in his last four games against the Steelers. Did I mention he plays the Steelers this week?

Cowboys (+3) over WASHINGTON

Dallas just allowed their rookie quarterback to throw the ball 45 times in Week 1, all the while handing their rookie running back 20 carries. The results clearly weren’t there, but the opportunities were promising. This week, the Cowboys won’t have to worry about Johnathan Hankins, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Jason Pierre-Paul — all graded between 72.1 and 80.4 at Pro Football Focus — staring across from them in the trenches.

GIANTS (-5) over Saints

Last season, opposing quarterbacks averaged 8.5 YPA and a 124.7 passer rating at home against New Orleans’ secondary. If Eli Manning threw for three scores in only 54 plays against Dallas, just imagine what he’ll do versus the Saints.

PANTHERS (-13.5) over 49ers

Count the red flags: A well-rested Carolina offense (ding) coming off a loss (ding) now faces the 49ers (ding) on a short week (ding) at home (ding). San Francisco’s pace (second-highest in Week 1) also allows for more mistakes. The Rams weren’t able to capitalize, but at the end of the day, the same won’t be said about Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense.

CARDINALS (-7) over Buccaneers

As stated earlier, Belichick game-planned for the Cardinals’ offense perfectly. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, allowed Matt Ryan to pass for 334 yards and two scores in Week 1. Jameis Winston admittedly looked spectacular against the Falcons, but Arizona’s defense is slightly better. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman also combined for 157 yards. If David Johnson continues playing in 84 percent of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps and receives 94 percent of their carries, it should be smooth sailing for the home team.

BRONCOS (-6) over Colts

For what it’s worth, you couldn’t make me touch this spread at a book this week. I can see a scenario in which the Colts lose by two touchdowns, but also a Bizarro Jerry-like one in which they (miraculously) win outright. Don’t let that ruin the offensive outlook for either side, though. Sharps have apparently unloaded on the Over (46.5), assuring fireworks from both teams. (Trevor Siemian on DraftKings, anyone?)

RAIDERS (-4.5) over Falcons

Should the Falcons take Deshaun Watson or DeShone Kizer with the first overall pick?

CHARGERS (-3) over Jaguars

San Diego’s offense is going to be a disaster without Allen, but it should be able to stave off a torrential plummet against Jacksonville. Expect another week in which Danny Woodhead commands a majority of snaps and touches against a Jags defense that’s traveling East to West.

VIKINGS (+2.5) over Packers

I would feel much better about this line if it were Shaun Hill starting over Sam Bradford, but the fact of the matter is that Mike Zimmer is 25-9 ATS as Minnesota’s head coach, including 12-5 ATS at home.

BEARS (-3) over Eagles

Carson Wentz looked great last week (278-2-0), but that performance also came at home against a hapless Browns defense. His first road game in the NFL, let alone one that occurs in primetime at Solder Field, won’t be so pretty. Expect a big night from Jeremy Langford, who commanded 96.4 percent of the Bears’ backfield snaps last week. Philadelphia notably allowed a league-high seven runs of 10-plus yards to the Browns in Week 1.

Last Week: 11-5

This Week: 1-0

Season: 12-5

 

Week 1 NFL Picks

 

For the fifth consecutive season, I’ve chosen to keep my weekly picks on public display because…well, because I hate myself. Feel free to tweet (@notJDaigle) or email me (daigle10@icloud.com) with any questions or, more likely, vulgar comments.

(Home team in CAPS)

BRONCOS (+3) over Panthers

I realize everyone was looking forward to the return of the Thursday Night Dumpster Fire, but for one week at least, Thursday picks are safe.

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Buccaneers (+3) over FALCONS

I honestly don’t have a strong opinion on this game and, quite frankly, won’t be watching it. I do, however, have a strong “opinion” (read: celery units) on the Falcons finishing under their 7.5 season win total. I’m just assuming their inevitable collapse starts here.

EAGLES (-3) over Browns

Robert Griffin III averaged 8.1 yards per attempt in the preseason, making everyone forget that even if he were to play great right out of the gates, Cleveland’s defense allowed 4.5 yards per carry and 128.4 rushing yards per game in 2015. How Carson Wentz performs in his NFL debut doesn’t even matter.

JETS (+2.5) over Bengals

Without Hue Jackson, I fully expect the Bengals’ offense to regress negatively en route to missing the playoffs. Even if A.J. Green leads the league in receiving yards after Week 1 (and he definitely could), I don’t think it means much here.

SAINTS (-1.5) over Raiders

The Raiders acquired Sean Smith, Bruce Irvin, Aldon Smith, and Reggie Smith in free agency. While that should make their defense better this season, it’s still just a theoretical point in Week 1. Not theoretically, Drew Brees threw for 462 more yards, 14 more touchdowns, and averaged 1.2 YPA more at home last season.

Vikings (-2.5) over TITANS

Chalk me up as the only person still angry that Minnesota traded for a quarterback AFTER I invested in their Over (8) following Teddy Bridgewater’s injury. Yes, I feel much more comfortable with Shaun Hill striving for eight wins than I do watching Sam-fucking-Bradford shoot for nine. And by the way, this game sucks, too.

Chargers (+6.5) over CHIEFS

Rivers finished 0-2 against the Chiefs last season, averaging 220.5 yards, one pick, and a 58.9 completion percentage. At the same time, Keenan Allen didn’t take part in either game. Rivers averaged 344.1 yards and 2.2 scores when Allen started last season. I fully expect Kansas City to be in the conversation as a Super Bowl contender at season’s end, but with so many injuries to their defense in Week 1, they seem slightly overvalued here.

RAVENS (-3) over Bills

Before a torn ACL cut Joe Flacco’s season short in Week 11, he was on-pace for 4,466 yards, 22.4 touchdowns, and a career-high 661 passing attempts through the first 10 games of 2015. The Ravens’ defense has (understandably) been labeled as old and shaky, but fact remains that 14 of Baltimore’s games resulted in a one-score margin  despite the loss of their starting quarterback (Joe Flacco), perennial Pro Bowl pass rusher (Terrell Suggs), two starting wide receivers (Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman), two running backs (Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro), two tight ends (Crockett Gillmore and Dennis Pitta), and their starting left tackle and center (Eugene Monroe and Jeremy Zuttah).

Let’s be clear: Buffalo is going to explode in this game. Tyrod Taylor averaged 191.5 yards and 6.46 YPA in two games without Sammy Watkins last season, and 221 YPG/8.79 YPA when the latter started. But I still think Week 1 is the beginning of Baltimore’s run to the AFC Championship. (Yep.)

Bears (+6) over TEXANS

In seven starts with Denver last season, Brock Osweiler averaged 7.2 YPA (23rd) and a 48.7 QBR (25th). He should be better under the tutelage of Bill O’Brien, but his performance in the preseason (270 yards, two scores, 73.9 percent completion rate) has overshadowed just how bad he was in the regular season. With J.J. Watt’s back still aching, I admittedly love this bet (and may or may not have invested interest in the moneyline) much more than I should.

JAGUARS (+5.5) over Packers

It has yet to be confirmed whether Jordy Nelson will be on a snap count Sunday, but this is a great spot for Jacksonville whether he’s in there or not. After finishing -1.4 games below their pythagorean record in 2015, the Jags are returning even money on their 7.5 season win total this year. I have the Packers winning more games than any other team and Aaron Rodgers eventually being crowned 2016 MVP, but 5.5 points is entirely too many to lay on the road in the Florida heat, especially against an offense that finished fourth in explosive passing plays (passes that resulted in a gain of 25-plus yards) last season.

SEAHAWKS (-10) over Dolphins

Yep.

COWBOYS (Pick) over Giants

The bad: Dallas is 1-12 and 2-10-1 against the spread without Tony Romo over the last two seasons. DC Rod Marinelli rendered Odell Beckham (9-80-0) and Eli Manning (363-0-0) useless in 2015, but had issues stopping both the prior year. Although New York’s offense will surely be better, the Cowboys will regress positively in every category that tends to fluctuate from year to year. For instance, they ranked dead last in fumble recovery percentage, went 2-6 in one-score games, and finished -1.2 games below their pythagorean record. And we haven’t even touched on how their defense was the worst in history at creating turnovers. All that, as well as their simplistic schedule, should result in 10-plus wins whether Romo is healthy or not. (SPOILER ALERT: He isn’t.)

Lions (+3) over COLTS

By now, the Lions’ offense, which ranked fourth in pace over the final eight games last season, isn’t even a sneaky wagon that’ll drive one or two to the betting (and fantasy) promised land. It’s basically stopping at every corner, trying to pack more people in with each passing day. And with the Colts’ injury report looking more like their defensive depth chart, this one seems pretty easy. (Which means that I’m definitely on the wrong side.)

Patriots (+6) over CARDINALS

This isn’t so much about the line movement since Tom Brady’s suspension wasn’t not going to push this line from +1 to +6. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cardinals won this one by double-digits. Dating back to Week 17, though, Carson Palmer has completed 72 of his last 128 passes (56.2 percent) for five scores and 10 interceptions (including the preseason). Six points is just too many for that type of recent performance.

WASHINGTON (+3) over Steelers

Washington is ultimately in store for a disastrous year. Between its strength of schedule (second-toughest according to Warren Sharp) and Kirk Cousins’ inevitable regression following an absurd 20-3 TD-INT ratio over his final nine games, I personally have Washington finishing third in the NFC East, one spot ahead of the Eagles. (For what it’s worth, I also have the Steelers winning the AFC North due to their cupcake schedule.) Having said that, it’s stunning that Washington is getting three points at home. Pittsburgh is clearly a favorite for the betting public, and while three points is worth grabbing right now, it’s also plausible to wait this one out and nab the +3.5 once it gets there.

Or, you know, just bet it a second time Monday night.

49ERS (+2.5) over Rams

To take part in one of the sharpest bets in 2015, all you had to do was ignore public opinion about the 49ers in Week 1 and bet them as +1.5 home dogs against the Vikings. If you recall, Carlos Hyde then went out and ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-3 victory. If you still don’t understand what I’m getting it, just ask yourself if Case Keenum should be favored on the road.

Last Season (through Week 15): 112-110-4

This Week: 1-0

Season: 1-0

2016 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Outlook

The only thing the 2015 Dallas Cowboys had left to play for in Week 17 was pride and a $300,000 bonus for Darren McFadden, who was three yards shy of reaching his 1,000-yard incententive. McFadden had certainly earned the additional paycheck. Once starting running back Joseph Randle was forced to exit the game in Week 7 with an oblique injury, McFadden would average 4.75 yards per carry and a +6.21 Plus/Minus at DraftKings to finish the year (per our Trendstool).

Three quarters into that final game, pride had already been jettisoned, as Dallas trailed Washington’s B-team 34-16 with under 12 minutes to play. McFadden had reached the 1,000-yard mark earlier in the contest, so few people would’ve blamed him if he had just coasted until the final whistle. But the Cowboys were driving — on Washington’s side of the field, in fact — and were suddenly only 23 yards shy of recording their 24th touchdown on the year, which would at least allow them to finish 31st, rather than 32nd, in scoring.

First and 10: Kellen Moore pass incomplete deep right.
Second and 10: Kellen Moore pass incomplete deep left.
Third and 10: McFadden left end for 20 yards. Fumble. Touchback.

No single play summarized the 2015 Cowboys better: Expected to be good but ultimately very bad. Those expectations are evidently extending into 2016. Vegas isn’t taking the Cowboys’ 4-12 record at face value, as Dallas’ 9.5 win total this year is the highest in the NFC East and tied with that of notable teams such as the Chiefs, Bengals, and Vikings. The early consensus is that everything that could’ve gone wrong for the Cowboys last season did and that there’s no reason to think that the same will happen again this year.

You can read more at FantasyLabs, and find the rest of our NFL Previews here.

2016 NFL Preview: Oakland Raiders Fantasy Outlook

2015 was a celebratory landmark for the Raiders. Not only did they draft Amari Cooper, who was clearly the most polished wide receiver to come out of college last year, but they were also a road favorite for the first time since Week 2 of the 2012 season. That may not seem like much to the casual fan, but ask people who have cheered for Oakland for any substantial length of time and they’ll tell you differently.

Expectations for this year’s team are high — but the threat of relocation after the season looms large and diminishes some of the excitement surrounding this young-and-upcoming team. Still, for the first time since 2003 (the season after their unprecedented Super Bowl run), the Raiders are projected with a win total above .500. Opening the season at 7.5, the Raiders were soon bet up to 8.5.

Built around a young core of players who have been drafted within the last three years, the Raiders are favored by more points this year than they were last, and they’re dogs in only three games. Again, there’s a lot to like about this team.

You can read more at FantasyLabs, and find the rest of our NFL Previews here.

2016 NFL Preview: Buffalo Bills Fantasy Outlook

“Are we going to do ground and pound? Yeah, you’re darn right we are,” said Rex Ryan in his inaugural press conference as Buffalo’s head coach. Whatever it took for the Bills to be in the conversation as an average offense at season’s end. After all, they hadn’t pieced together a top-10 offense in the 10 years prior to last season, finishing higher than 20th overall only once since 2003. That would help explain why the team traded the farm for Sammy Watkins in 2014 and went out of its way to acquire LeSean McCoy last year.

The Bills finally reached the ‘mountaintop’ in 2015, finishing 13th overall in total yards and eighth in yards per play. Without injuries, they likely could have accomplished much more. But they did have injuries — a handful of them, in fact. Now the Bills are just hoping to build on what took them so long to achieve in the first place. (A turnaround for their defense, which finished bottom-five in Weighted Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average, wouldn’t hurt either.)

You can read more at FantasyLabs, and find the rest of our NFL Previews here.

2016 NFL Preview: Washington Redskins Fantasy Outlook

Even the most devout fans of Washington’s professional football team couldn’t have anticipated the type of season that 2015 would be. After all, owner Dan Snyder had spent the last few years (metaphorically) running on a treadmill, remaining complacent and employing the exact methodology that had resulted in a total of seven victories over the previous two years. There was no reason for Washington to finish with nine wins and a division title last season, especially since the team’s Pythagorean total in 2014 was only 4.7.

With a new starting quarterback in place, Washington transformed from laughing stock of the NFC East to surprise playoff team. This transformation was especially surprising because after starting 3-5 and generally disappointing on offense the team went 6-2 in the second half and became something of a juggernaut, averaging 32.75 points per game while winning the final four contests of the season.

You can read more at FantasyLabs, and find the rest of our NFL Previews here.

An Unbiased Podcast: Week 17 Lines

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John Daigle joins his buddy Corey to preview what they consider to be the most important of the Week 17 lines. They also discuss the return of Josh Freeman, the Vikings offense, what Chip Kelly did wrong, Washington, Eric Weddle’s ongoing battle with San Diego, Ryan Tannehill’s bleeding fetus, and wrap-up their fourth regular season with another edition of “Hypotheticals with Corey”.

Media Player Link:  An Unbiased Podcast

iTunes Link:  An Unbiased Podcast

Week 16 NFL Picks

(Home team in CAPS)

OAKLAND RAIDERS (-6) over San Diego Chargers

Washington (+3) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-3) over Chicago Bears

ATLANTA FALCONS (+7) over Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys (+6) over BUFFALO BILLS

DETROIT LIONS (-9) over San Francisco 49ers

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-12.5) over Cleveland Browns

NEW YORK JETS (+3.5) over New England Patriots

ARIZONA CARDINALS (-4.5) over Green Bay Packers

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-13.5) over St. Louis Rams

Pittsburgh Steelers (-10) over BALTIMORE RAVENS

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-5.5) over New York Giants

DENVER BRONCOS (-3.5) over Cincinnati Bengals

Last Week: 8-6-1

Season: 110-84-7, 56%