Writer's Note: I'm Carl's intern who went 57% ATS on nearly 250 documented NFL plays over 3 years on an independent blog before hopping onto Barstool, and I'm above that mark this season (61%).
Coming off of back-to-back perfect weeks, I won’t dare to use the “h” word, but let’s just say I’m encouraged by recent results. Can't let anything get in the way today.
Am I milking this minor elective surgery for dramatic effect? You betcha.
But it’s a fact that I’m now on an unnamed opioid (no free ads) until I'm able to breathe outta my right nostril for the first time since the 90's. I can’t feel my face but I can still feel the board, so let’s keep rollin’. Not all heroes wear capes. I'm sure Kellen Winslow Jr. would agree that me being sky-high on modern medicine while sitting on my ass and typing out this silly blog in the comforts of my home is the equivalent to military service:
Let's get to the picks!
Broncos (3-5) @ Raiders (5-3); 3:05pm CT
Pick #1: Broncos +3.5
Action: 44% of bets on the Broncos
This comes down to defense. Denver is in the top-10 and Vegas is in the bottom-5.
I've complimented Gruden to death for churning out an above-average offense despite limited talent, but Denver's D will be too much for him today. The Broncos improved defensively from last year through growing familiarity with Vic Fangio's system, and they're only continuing to trend up this season. Throw in the return of cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan, and this defense is stacked.
On the offensive side, the Broncos have gotten off to anemic starts over the past two weeks, but Drew Lock proved that he can keep his team in games through 21-point 4th Quarters in each of those weeks. Although that's impressive, Denver does NOT want to rely on that type of desperate play moving forward.
Facing a Raiders D that ranks dead last against the run, Denver will look to score early and gain control of this game on the ground to avoid digging themselves into a hole for the third straight game. The return of Broncos Guard Graham Glasgow off the COVID-19 list will only help this.
But let's just say that the Raiders take an early lead. Given that Drew Lock has shown he can shred Prevent defenses in the 4th Quarter, he's in luck because the Raiders essentially play Prevent D for all four quarters. Vegas can't rush the passer and they refuse to blitz. They just lay back and whisper "do what you want to me, daddy."
With Denver playing for their season and the Raiders possibly looking ahead to their match-up against the Chiefs next Sunday night, Denver will keep this game within a field goal.
Pick #2, Teaser: Chargers +7.5 (teased from +1.5) and Niners +16 (teased from +10)
Chargers (2-6) @ Dolphins (5-3); 3:05pm CT
Action: 32% of bets on the Chargers
People shat on me for picking the Dolphins over the Rams two weeks ago (winner), but now it feels like everyone is on the Fins.
I get it: the Dolphins have won 4 straight while the Chargers are constantly finding ways to lose. It comes down to coaching. Brian Flores has done an elite job of turning around a disgusting team while Anthony Lynn has seemingly missed all the fine details to win close football games (which will put him on the chopping block by the end of this season). Miami has the coaching edge, but LAC has the talent. This is exactly why you should tease the Chargers up through the 3 and 7.
The Chargers may blow a win because of poor play-calling and/or time management, but they have the firepower to either jump out to an early lead or toss up TD's in garbage time to keep it within one score (big game for Keenan Allen coming because Miami has no answer at the slot corner). At LAC +7.5, that's all you need. Since the Chargers were able to keep it to one score against the Chiefs/Bucs/Saints earlier this season, they can certainly do the same against Miami.
Tua looked much more like himself in his second start last week, but the Cardinals D was pretty banged up. Everyone wants a piece of the exciting action to back Tua, but I think we all need to chill our boners. Opponents have doubled Miami's yardage (913 yards to 457 yards) over the past two weeks. Scores for Miami are coming from all sorts of places besides the offense, and that's just not a sustainable recipe for winning football.
Injury-wise, the Chargers O-line is getting healthier (Bulaga and Turner) while the Dolphins have taken some recent hits. Tua lost his #2 WR in Preston Williams to the IR (foot) last week, and the Miami D had to place DT Christian Wilkins on the COVID-19 list this week. The Dolphins' health is going in the opposite direction the Chargers.
It has finally become sexy to bet on the Dolphins, and that should be ringing all of your alarms to NOT bet on them today. Grab the Chargers with added teaser value.
Niners (4-5) @ Saints (6-2); 3:25pm CT
Action: 31% of bets on the Niners
This is a classic case of betting on a team that got blown out in prime time last week against a team that blew out their opponent in prime time last week. Fade recency bias: buy low, sell high.
This reminds me a lot of when I took the 49ers over the Rams in Week 6 (winner). The way to beat the Niners is through deep passing, and not through runs or short-to-intermediate passes. The Rams and Saints operate through the latter, and that puts them at a disadvantage against the San Fran D. I won't drop a "noodle arm" on Drew Brees because he's the most efficient short-to-intermediate passer on the planet, but him ranking dead last this season in Intended Air Yards per Pass (5.8) won't cut it today.
And we gotta acknowledge that we just witnessed the best game the New Orleans Saints will play all year this past Sunday night. Past Brady’s bedtime, the Bucs came with a bizarre game plan that resulted in only 5 total rushing attempts while the Saints threw a parade that included action for all three of their QB's. You have to look at the Saints' full body of work this year to realize that only two of their wins have exceeded a margin of one score. I just can't see this one being a blowout.
Casual bettors are avoiding the Niners because of Nick Mullens at QB and some continued injuries to skill position studs like George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Raheem Mostert. It's obviously a downgrade in talent, but when it comes to Kyle Shanahan, it's always the next man up (like JaMycal Hasty, Richie James, and Jordan "when he's healthy" Reed). The success of the 49ers offense hinges more heavily on Shanahan's scheme than the players within the scheme. Get ready for some unfamiliar names finding the end zone today.
Taking a step back for a general NFL betting note, always be cautious of spreads in the 8-10 range. It usually means that the public thinks it should fall in the 13-14 range while books lean towards the 7-8 range. This disparity explains why dogs getting 8-10 have hit at nearly 60% ATS over the past decade.
It feels gross and it should feel gross. But let's side with the books and add some teaser insurance with a Niners team that is grinding to keep playoff hopes alive.
Alright, call me soft, but I won't be drinking on pain killers today. I’ll leave the libations to you as we look to lock up the third straight week of perfection.