Culture of Hoops

Steaming Hot NFL Picks: Week 8

Image courtesy of Marianne O'Leary/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Marianne O’Leary/Flickr.

It took eight weeks. Two months was the amount of time that passed before I didn’t have a winning week. I still boast a winning record at 13-8 and I have even had people tweeting me about them taking some of my winners. Thank you for reading to those people of course and even more thanks for letting me know you’re making money. For those of you reading and not betting, I am of course forever grateful.

Anyway, with Week 8 approaching, more trends are becoming clear for NFL picks, but none more helpful, in my opinion, than a team’s record against the spread. Of course because we are in fact betting against the spread. All season I have been referring to a team’s record last year against the spread. With seven or eight games played by most teams, the sample size is big enough. Which is excellent because no team is the same as last season.

At just about the halfway point, the best team in NFL against the spread is the “red rifle”-led Cincinnati Bengals, at 5-0-1. Not far behind them in the AFC are the Pittsburgh Steelers at 5-1-1, that’s a surprise considering they are just getting Ben Rothelisberger back this Sunday for the first time since Week 3. Do you know what those records against the spread tell me? I want no part of that game and neither should you.

Then of course there are surprise teams that are kicking tail this season, but are sub-par against the spread. Teams like my undefeated, pissed-off, New England Patriots. While they are obliterating every team (except the New York Jets) they face they are middle of the pack against the spread at 3-2-1 and 1-1-1 in Gillette. I would have never guessed that, but it means something else too. You do not have to avoid the Patriots, just put them in teases so you’re bringing some of those 10 or 11 point spreads down. As good as they are, everyone other than the quarterback is only human!

Okay, I’m getting off track, just like my picks last week. I need to redeem myself so let’s get started.

Straight bet of the week: New York Jets -3 @ Oakland Raiders
This is a gift. The Jets in my opinion are the second-best team in the AFC regardless of their record. One loss was to the seemingly unstoppable Patriots. The other was too a winless Philadelphia Eagles team when Chris Ivory, Eric Decker, and Sheldon Richardson were inactive for the Jets, hardly a full Jets team. If their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick can continue playing at at solid level and keep his turnover numbers down they are almost guaranteed a Wild Card spot, barring major injury.

As for the Raiders, well, they are the Raiders. Most weeks they are going to score a ton of points as well as give up a ton of them. Second-year man Derek Carr and rookie wideout Amari Copper have been developing quite a rapport. This week will be different for Cooper and the Raiders because they are playing the best defense the league has to offer; welcome to the NFL, rookie. Oh, and one other thing, Jets are 5-1-1 against the spread this season, 2-0 on the road. See you in Oakland!

O/U of the week: Arizona Cardinals @ Cleveland Browns/Over 46 1/2
The Arizona Cardinals are second in the NFL in points per game this season with 32.7. Cleveland is bottom 10 in the NFL, but still manages to hang 21 on their opponents and two weeks ago they almost scored 50 in an overtime loss to Denver. Arizona has had trouble defending the pass this season and the Browns will unquestionably be looking to launch the ball skyward in an effort to keep up with the fast-paced offense of the Cardinals. I know the “Dog Pound” in Cleveland is a tough place to play, but Carson Palmer and the Cardinals have been matchup-proof so far. Arizona will have no answer for Josh McCown’s big arm and his constant pounding of the ball to target animal Gary Barnidge, who himself is having a Gronkowski-ish season. Simple, over.

Eff you, pay me.

Easy pal, just a Goodfellas reference.

Three team tease of the week:
Atlanta Falcons -7 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
St. Louis Rams -8 vs San Francisco 49ers
Denver Broncos +2 1/2 vs Green Bay Packers

Falcons +2
Just about every week I have the Falcons in this column. Whether they are in a tease or straight, I keep winning with them, even the one game they lost, I still covered. The “Dirty Birds” and I have a nice relationship that has been consistently making money, so why stop now? More importantly, it is the Buccaneers rookie quarterback Jameis Winston’s first time in the Georgia Dome and even without Mr. Blank pumping crowd noise through the speakers or not, it is a loud hostile environment there. Rookie jitters will lead to a few turnovers and you know I LOVE getting points with a home team. Ba-zing!

Rams +2
Back on Week 2, I wrote that I would never bet with the Rams once they didn’t cover against the Washington Redskins after blowing out the Seattle Seahawks the week before. Well my friend, that’s the beauty of betting, you always come back. The Rams are undefeated in their division as well as 2-1 at home against the spread. Most of all, I like the Rams this week because the are playing the 49ers. They are just bad, and Carlos Hyde might be done for the season with an ankle issue. They are in no position to be beating the Rams at home, plus you’re getting points, again!

Broncos +11 1/2
The Packers are definitely a tough opponent, but the Broncos have a serious defense. With DeMarcus Ware looking like he will play this week after missing the last game, that pass rush will be in the face of Aaron Rodgers. For the record, I do not believe the Broncos will win this game outright, but one of my few rules is never bet against a home dog. So I won’t, just give me the points because there is no way this game won’t come down to the final possession; even if Peyton Manning craps all over himself, which seems to be becoming the trend.

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