Like the Philadelphia Eagles, I decided to take a Bye from writing this column last week. On my week off, I did what most people would do – I took a trip to Las Vegas to bet on sports. So no worries about being rusty; I was keeping sharp!
My last column had successful results, with me winning all 3 of my NFL picks and 2 out of 3 of my college football picks. That pushed me to 8-10 for the season in the NFL and 14-7 in college football.
As the season goes on, the picks become tougher as the lines get sharper. Let’s see if I can continue to break the code.
The Background: The Eagles are off a much-needed Bye week, after blowing late leads in their last two games, both losses. Head coach Andy Reid, upset with the defense’s performance recently, fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and replaced him with Todd Bowles. Philly enters Week 8 with a 3-3 record and takes on the undefeated Atlanta Falcons at home this Sunday afternoon. The Falcons, who have yet to lose, are coming off their Bye week as well.
The Line: Eagles -3; O/U 44.5
My Take: The more I look at this game, the more uncertain I am of how it’s going to turn out. The negatives for the Eagles: They are 3-3; they are inconsistent, at best; they turn the ball over too much; they get no pressure on the quarterback; they are changing defensive philosophies mid-season; and they are facing one of the best teams in the NFL. The positives for the Eagles: The Falcons aren’t very good on the road; the Eagles are historically excellent off their Bye week under Andy Reid; and every player knows they must step up now.
Uncertainty almost always leads me to pass on betting a game, but for the sake of this column, I’ll stick my head out and make a pick: The Atlanta Falcons plus the points. Taking a field goal in this game is too enticing. I have a very hard time laying points with a favorite who turns the ball over as much as the Eagles do. Until they are able to establish more consistency, I’ll have to play against them as favorites.
NFL QUICK HITTERS
• Detroit Lions -2.5 vs. Seattle Seahawks: The Lions are off a tough loss to the division-rival Chicago Bears, and even though they covered the 6.5 point spread, they needed a late, meaningless touchdown to do so. The Seahawks are also off a loss to a division rival, 13-6 against the San Francisco 49ers. Seattle got some extra rest in preparation for this game since they played last Thursday, and Detroit is on a short week because they played Monday night. Still, this is a good spot for the Lions. Seattle has a long trip to Detroit to play an early game, and they’re already not very good away from home. The Seahawks have lost to the 49ers, St. Louis Rams (19-13) and Arizona Cardinals (20-16) on the road.
• New Orleans Saints +6 @ Denver Broncos: This one should be a very high scoring game on Sunday night. The Saints’ defense is downright awful, but the Broncos’ stop unit isn’t all that great, either. After an 0-4 start, New Orleans has won two in a row. Denver keeps flip flopping between wins and losses, and is coming off their Bye. To me, 6 points is just too much in a game where I believe either team could win outright.
• Ball State -3.5 @ Army: Here’s a line that I just don’t understand. Army is terrible. They have one win on the year, over Boston College, and routinely get blown out of games, whether at home or on the road. They’re also only 2-5 against the spread. Ball State (5-3 straight up, 6-3 ATS) isn’t great, but they do put up a lot of points. So when this game opened at -4.5, I jumped on it. To my surprise, it moved down a point to its current line of -3.5. That always makes me hesitate, but I still like Ball State here.
• Maryland +2.5 @ Boston College: The aforementioned Boston College Eagles are a pretty bad team as well. They’re 1-6 on the season (SU and ATS), with the only win coming against Maine. They lost to Army but are somehow a 2.5-point favorite in this game. Maryland (4-3 SU, 4-2-1 ATS) isn’t great, but they shouldn’t be the underdog in this game. They’ve played solid football this season, and if it weren’t for a missed gimme field goal last week, they’d be 5-2. Take the points.
• Louisville -3.5 vs. Cincinnati: I’ve been riding Louisville all season, so why stop now? This won’t be an easy game for the Cardinals, but they should be able to cover the spread. Cincinnati is off a disappointing loss at the hands of Toledo last week, a game that spoiled their perfect season. But the Bearcats are still undefeated in conference (they’ve only played 1 conference game) and have hopes of winning the Big East. Louisville is the better overall team here, and should be able to pull ahead late. Note: This game is being played on Friday night.