Weekly Analysis

NFL: OVER/UNDER WIN TOTAL PREDICTIONS NFC NORTH

Tuesday, 26 August, 2014

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I continue on my divisional coverage of predictions for over/under win totals. Today we will focus on the NFC North. A division that has as much talent as any division in the NFL, but has fallen short of living up to it on an annual basis.

Lets see if this is the year that the Lions, Packers, and Bears thrive and give the NFC a run for their money.

Vegas Has It Right On
Green Bay
Many have Green Bay circled as one of the easy picks to topple Vegas’s set line of ten wins. They do look like a strong team but surpassing double digit wins is always a challenge. This is a division that hasn’t changed much personnel wise. All teams know each other very well. That’s a challenge in my mind to get through a division with ease. We’ve seen it for years in the NFC East, and the same can be said here. Vegas has this one right on. I can see them getting 11 wins, tying the number at ten, or falling just short at 9 wins. I wouldn’t put money on them.

Beats The Number
Detroit Lions 8 wins
Talk about a team that had some ugly losses a year ago. Detroit’s average season hit a landslide as they dropped their last four games. That finish was the writing on the wall to send former head coach Jim Schwartz packing. Now the question is can Caldwell boost the talent-laden Lions. I believe he can and that the Lions beat the number of 8 wins. All it’s going to take is true maturity from a team filled with great young players.

Falls Short
Chicago 8 wins
Throughout the Lovie Smith era this Bears team had its ups and downs. They got to the Super Bowl and had success based on a ferocious defense that had key players everywhere. The defense aged and truly hasn’t been the same in a solid three seasons. Marc Trestman is an offensive guy and will continue to thrive this year. I’m just not sold that they get it done even with vast improvement on the defensive side of the ball. They’re similar to the Cowboys. They’ll be in games and look fantastic in highlights, but when it comes to wins and losses they fall short.

Minnesota Vikings 6 wins
I’m an old Big East college football fanatic. I certainly was down on Geno Smith after watching him at West Virginia before his last season in the Big 12. Teddy Bridgewater is in my eyes going to struggle as well. He is slight of frame for an NFL quarterback and has worse accuracy issues in my estimation than Smith. Over the long haul I believe Bridgewater can become a decent starter but it’s going to take some serious growing pains. He was fortunate to play in a watered down Big East and AAC. Louisville’s upset win over Florida caused Bridgewater’s stock to rise similar to an NCAA basketball player having a great March Madness. Neither a veteran in Matt Cassel or a year one Teddy Bridgewater is capable of getting this team a combined six wins. AP of two years ago isn’t coming back anytime soon either.

NFL OVER/UNDER WIN TOTALS AFC NORTH

Monday, 25 August, 2014

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Last week I took a look at the AFC East division for win totals. Today I’ll take a look at the AFC North. In the north the Bengals, Ravens, and Steelers have all had their share of successes over the last five years. Baltimore got it done with their reliable defense and steady arm of Joe Flacco. Pittsburgh’s nucleus hasn’t changed much either with the arm of Big Ben.

Cincinnati though over hauled their team when Carson Palmer demanded out. Right about that time is when the Bengals saw a drastic difference in the way the team played. It doesn’t mean Carson was a poor quarterback, it’s just a mark on the time line of the franchise. They retained Marvin Lewis which many people disagreed on and made better personnel decisions with their draft picks.

Still, oddsmakers do not have them out in front by much in the division. Lets take a look at the division and give a pick on over/unders.

Cincinnati 9– Pick Over
Many are doubting Andy Dalton’s contract and ability. They can doubt but there is no doubting the core of talent on the Bengals. It’s a sound team that has youth and growing talent on both sides of the football. In Baltimore and Pittsburgh both teams still have aged talent and question marks from last season. Both should be better but the Bengals have in my mind the best team in the division. They’re a bit underrated from the oddmakers because of the continued love for Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

Baltimore 8.5- Pick Over
Things just were in complete disarray a season ago in Baltimore. The Super Bowl hangover was in full affect. A new offensive system with Gary Kubiak should help riddle the offensive woes that lacked the punch to help their defense. Ray Rice’s down season wasn’t just shocking to fantasy football owners but to the Ravens overall. They’ll have a new look this year and be able to gain an extra couple of wins because of it.

Pittsburgh 8.5- Pick Under
Sometimes an organization needs to gut things out and make tough decisions. Since Hines Ward retired this team has lost its identity offensively and got worse on defense. They’ve become faster on defense but that’s not going to alleviate big plays from happening. Offensively I still don’t believe there is enough premier talent to get them back atop this division.

Cleveland 6.5- Pick Under
A few weeks ago I liked the over here. Normally I wouldn’t let preseason play sway my conviction but I’ll go a different route here. 6.5 is a steep number for a team with large question marks at quarterback and with a surely suspended top receiver in Josh Gordon. If the set win total was 5-5.5 my hesitancy to stick with the over wouldn’t of swayed. It’s just too large of a number in a tough division.

Preseason ATS Chargers vs 49ers

Sunday, 24 August, 2014

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Today’s free play focuses on the San Diego Chargers vs the San Francisco 49ers. Surely there will be some heavy hearts as the bay area is affected by an Earthquake in Napa Valley.

The line on this game is currently at minus five for the San Francisco 49ers. The first two games of the preseason the 49ers have had as basic of a vanilla offense as a team can have. This is nothing new as the 49ers played similar in last years preseason with Colt McCoy as backup.

It looks like bettors are anticipating an aggressive game plan from the 49ers tonight. But how many series will Kaepernick actually play? That’ll be a tough mark to predict. In all likelihood the 49ers will need to rely on big series from struggling backup Blaine Gabbert to procure a point spread cover here.

In order to get this cover the 49ers will need to get the job done defensively. I think that’s where the spread does have the advantage in the 49ers favor. This defense has played decent in the preseason but will turn it up another notch as the starters are on the field longer. San Diego struggled mightily against the Seahawks defense and likely will see similar pressure and style of play.

Nab the 49ers today as a free play, as the defense should hold up and keep the Chargers from getting a high amount of points. Final score San Francisco 24 and San Diego 13.

Redskins vs Ravens Saturday Free Play

Saturday, 23 August, 2014

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Yesterday was nearly all chalk for Friday’s preseason games on the larger spreads. Seattle annihilated the Bears while the Packers and Patriots cruised as well. Packers bettors had a bit of a scare as the Raiders made things interesting late, but it wasn’t enough to knock off the largely backed Packers.

Saturday features a gamut of preseason football action. Eight games are featured with closer point spreads than Friday’s minimal board. All are between 2.5 and 3.5 point spreads besides for the Denver Broncos at 7 points.

I have a couple of premium plays of the eight games on the board today, but lets take a look at the Redskins vs Ravens as a free play

Lets focus on Washington vs Baltimore. These two teams are close in proximity in the Maryland area. Fan bases are extreme on both sides, so this will be played as one of Saturday’s more prominent games.

With the way Baltimore’s 2nd and 3rd string finished out their game last week, you’d expect a much stronger start today. They held a 34-10 lead against Dallas in the third quarter only to let Dallas score three straight touchdowns and cut the lead to 34-30. They held onto win but you can believe the Ravens staff wasn’t thrilled with the lack of effort in protecting the lead.

Washington on the other hand is 2-0 and had strong efforts from their defense. Similar to the Ravens second and third string defenses, they also had a pour effort against the Browns in the fourth period. They gave up three touchdowns and gave up a hail mary that would of sent the game into overtime in the regular season.

Some may want to play the under in this game because of the way the defenses played last week. I’ll stay away from that angle. Washington played a dreadful offense with the Browns inexperience of Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer struggling. In week one they faced a Patriots team that struggled with Ryan Mallet under center.

Baltimore’s first two weeks were awfully similar to the Redskins experience. They throttled the 49ers in week one with Blaine Gabbert and Josh Johnson getting the majority of snaps.

I’d look for the Redskins to have the advantage here as 2.5 point underdogs. The combination of RG3 and Kirk Cousins is a much higher upgrade than the Cowboys and 49ers. The same can be said for the defensive effort the Redskins will get from their first unit for a half or three quarters over a few series from the 49ers and a half from the Cowboys.

Enjoy today’s free play and look under today’s picks for the rest of today’s premium plays.

A LOOK AT TONIGHT’S PRESEASON FOOTBALL GAMES

Friday, 22 August, 2014

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I have a premium play tonight in the Panthers vs Patriots. The current line is -5 on the Patriots side. Lets take a look at the other games on the slate tonight.

For the first two weeks of the preseason I recommended passing on any action. If you did lets hope that patience pays off over the final two weeks and into the regular season.

Tonight is the first night in preseason that we’ve seen a couple of big numbers on the board. Green Bay is a 7.5 point favorite and New England roughly around 5-5.5. Obviously with starters getting major playing time that has an effect on the point spread.

In case of Green Bay they have a polar opposite of talent compared to the Raiders. Oakland has an aging backfield that brought in MJD and a quarterback coming off one of the lowest of lows from a starter in ten years. Matt Schaub appears to be in the Donovan McNabb mold, when McNabb was on the descent of his career. He showed a flash here or there in Washington before caving completely in Minnesota. Still, a 7.5 point spread may not be justified.

One that I do like as a free play is the Giants and Jets under the total. These two teams play every year in the preseason. Right now you’d have to give the edge to the defenses over their offenses. The Jets have always had a better defense than offense so that’s not new. For the Giants they’ve struggled immensely offensively in the preseason. Even if Eli plays a half or three quarters, I do not believe they have the capable backups to string together a successful fourth quarter.

Enjoy tonight’s preseason games and study hard for your upcoming fantasy football money league drafts.

BEST BYE WEEK FANTASY FOOTBALL STRATEGIES

Tuesday, 19 August, 2014

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In fantasy football planning is everything. Being a manager consists of proper preparation. You can draft the best team on paper and be left with all types of issues. Poor play, injuries, team inconsistencies that reduces team talent, and the crucial all important bye weeks.

Bye weeks can be your best friend in leagues that managers give up in. It happens all the time. The classic manager that digs her or himself a hole and flat out stops managing the team. You can catch a break with pure luck as the owner hasn’t set his lineup and has two to three players sitting out on a bye week.

That’s a process of pure laziness on those owners behalves. Here are a few simple strategies to pre-plan not having a major hole on those ever-crucial bye weeks.

Know your team
It’s a simple thought but knowing your team shouldn’t catch you by surprise. You don’t want to be coming off a fantasy football win and then figure out on Tuesday that you have two potential starting receivers on bye weeks. You should know this way ahead and bolster your bench positions before hand. If the bye week is week six that gives you a month and a half leeway to figure things out. You can either do that via a trade or managing the waiver wire. Risking a loss in a likely 13-14 game regular fantasy football season can’t be tolerated, especially in a money league.

Quarterbacks and Tight Ends Deserve the Highest Attention
I see this mistake far too often as well. An owner will invest heavily through auction or standard drafts at getting an elite tight end or quarterback. Their plan is a no-brainer and to start that tight end or quarterback all year. This strategy seems acceptable but it’s not. That’s two combined weeks having to use a lower tier non-starter. To make up this ground you need to offset this with favorable matchups. Your current backup quarterback or tight end does not have to be your starter that week. Look at a backup quarterback that’s starting because of an injury. Last year Josh McCown paid huge dividends for fantasy owners and there are countless other examples of this.

Upgrade, upgrade, and upgrade
Do not be a lazy fantasy owner. Take it seriously and find the resources to make your team better. All information is out there to make an improvement for any bye week scenario. Analyze and make the proper moves for those two to three tough bye week decisions a year.