Let me preface this article by saying this is not a betting cheat sheet. I do not claim anymore knowledge of the game then anyone else and I do not expect anyone to place wagers on any picks I may make. I'm not trying to convince anyone to bet. The point of this spread analysis is similar to the Pick'em post MHR runs weekly, with an obvious difference.
For me, Pick'ems are too easy. Each week there are more then a few no brainer picks, which makes only a select amount of picks interesting. For me, picking which team will cover the aforementioned spread is more interesting, as it makes it tougher to make picks and adds in a couple factors into making your pick besides simply "Team A is better then Team B."
A beginners course on spreads: The definition according to Wikipedia: "A spread is a range of outcomes and the bet is whether the outcome will be above or below the spread."
For example, let's say the spread is "Team A -3 AT Team B."
The AT is obvious, and indicates the Team B is the home team. The -3 is directed towards Team A. The easiest way to read it is like a math problem. Subtract 3 points from Team A's final score, and the winner of this adjusted outcome wins the bet against the spread. In this scenario, if you were to wager on Team A, you would need them to win by more then 3. If you wager on Team B, you would win your bet with Team B losing by less then 3 points or winning outright. If Team A wins by 3, this is called a push, and all participants get there money back.
For a more in-depth FAQ for the numbers and terms, WalterFootball.com has a good page for it.
Now, onto the point of this post.
Washington -2.5 AT Minnesota: Pick Minnesota. I like this pick because it helps a lot to be at home on a short week, as Miami taught Cincy last Thursday. Also, with Ponder over Freeman, this team is not as bad. Ponder kinda sucks but he's nowhere near as lost as Freeman. The Skins, while looking good over the past couple weeks, are becoming slightly overrated. Also, I don't like teams winning an emotional game then playing a mediocre-to-bad the next week. Usually see a let down.
Tenn -12.5 AT Jags: Pick Tenn. I don't like Tennessee to win by this much, but the Jags are horrendous. Always a bad idea to bet on really bad teams.
GB -1.5 AT Philly: Pick GB. This is a classic case to people overreacting once a QB goes down. Everyone thinks they'll lose the next week and get blown out. If this was the Packers of anyother post 2010 SB team, I'd take Philly. But the Pack has a run game and a very good D now. These can help cover poor QB play, especially against a mediocre team.
AT Pitt -3 Buff: Pick Buff. Another classic mistake. Because they are generally a contender, people refuse to give up on the Steelers. The fact that they are favored amazes me. No way Buff loses, especially after Pitt literally gave up last week.
AT NYG -7 Oakland: Pick Oakland. Same thing as the last pick, although with another factor. Yes, Oakland looked horrible last week, but teams have a tendency to balance themselves out even after terrible losses. Look at the Jets last week, no one thought they'd win because people are too knee jerk. There's no way the Giants win this by more then a TD, they're even worse then Oakland.
Seattle -6.5 AT Atlanta: Pick Seattle. Falcons are the sexy pick here because, like the Gmen and Steelers, people just refuse to believe they are as bad as they are. But this pick goes beyond the "They're good, They're bad," reasoning. Seattle's weakness in their recent scares has been their offensive line, but that's not a problem because the Falcons can't rush the passer. I feel bad for Ryan, because he's got nothing on his OL and his vaunted receivers are injured, which is a death sentence against this secondary. Seattle has been susceptible to the run but like the OL vs. pass rush reasoning, ATL can't run.
Cincy -1.5 AT Balty. Pick Balty. I hate the Ravens as much as the next Broncos fan, but you gotta be realistic here. I don't think they're as bad as their record, nor do I think the Bengals are as good as there's. Baltimore has been amazing under Harbaugh at home, with last years Broncos loss 1 of 4 the past 2 years. On the otherhand, the Bengals have struggled on the road, and followed up blowing out the Jets at home to dropping a stinker in Miami, a place where this Baltimore team won. And as bad as losing in Cleveland looks (who's another team that isn't as bad as people think), the Bengals did the same. The Bengals have some nice wins against good competition at home and some bad losses on the road. I expect this trend to continue.
Detroit -2.5 AT Chicago. Pick Chicago. Besides the Lions loss, the Bears have been in every game this year. Besides that I don't really have any good reasons for picking the Bears. When I'm in doubt, I take home underdogs. People love to take road favorites but they don't cover spreads as well.
AT San Fran -6 Carolina. Pick San Fran. Another sexy pick is this Panthers team. I like their chances to make the post season, but let's not pretend they're on the 9ers level just yet. Cam's looking good in this streak, but against top defenses, he's been mediocre. I expect San Fran to stop the Panthers run game and force Newton to beat them, which I do not see him doing.
AT Arizona -2.5 HOU. Pick AZ. Remember How I was saying there are some overrated teams? MHR, meet the most underrated. Do they look pretty? No, but they have some decent wins in their belt and some not so terrible losses. They've lost 4 times, 3 of those being to the 9ers, Seahawks, and Saints. Besides the Saints game, the Cards played tough and hung in there towards the end. Also consider how good they are at home.
Denver -7 AT SD. Pick Denver. No explanation. I'll never bet nor pick against my team. Although I expect this to be a good game.
AT NO -7 Dallas. Pick NO. I don't think the Cowboys are bad, but I give them no shot in this game. The Superdome is near impossible to play in. You put that game in primetime? You have some nutcases hammered after drinking all day and will rattle Dallas.
Miami -3 AT TB. Pick TB. Talk about a terrible game to pick. If this were a contest of which organization will be most distracted, this would be the game of the century. But as for the football field, we will see players, coaches, and FO's all in hot water and have little to no job security. Expect that to adversely effect the on field product. As I said earlier, I like taking home underdogs when I'm in doubt, and I think the Bucs' distractions are a bit more in the past then Miami's. On top of this, I think there is some talent on this team, enough to take advantage of this whole Martin distraction the players and coaches will feel. Also hurts for the Dolphins that one incident has cost them 2 OL on an OL that sucked to begin with. With all this, I'm still not confident the Bucs will pull it out, but at least I'm getting points.
Favorite Pick of the Week: Buffalo. Torn between this one and the Packers, but with Manuel coming back, and how well this D has played, I have trouble seeing them lose this game, let alone by more then 3.
Now again, I'm not condoning betting or anything of the sort. If you are vehemently opposed to this type of thing please just ignore this and move on. But if you would like to debate my picks I'd welcome the discussion. Also, if you'd like to make your picks against the spread, I will do my best to collect them all and compare how we all do next week.