Free picks: Can Vick and Philly rebound this week?


Image courtesy of Cleveland Browns Facebook page

When you look at the week 2 NFL lines, you see the huge influence of week 1 performances on conventional wisdom for the nest week’s picks. Yet we also know that in the NFL these days, matchups matter and a team’s performance can vary wildly from week to week, particularly in the first two weeks of the season.

Look at last night’s games. Green Bay’s defense looked pitiful in week 1, yet they had a great game last night and made Jay Cutler look like a clueless rookie. Don’t get too wed to week 1 performances.

Which brings us to Micheal Vick. He had a terrible game last week against a young Cleveland defense that pressured him all day. Now he’s going up against the Baltimore Ravens who beat up the Bengals last Monday night. The line is Philly favored at home by one or two points, but most of the action seems to be falling on the Ravens.

But will Vick repeat his bad performance from last week? Of course we don’t know, but we can’t just assume that he’ll make the same mistakes. Plus, Baltimore is on the road following a Monday night win. That’s a very important factor as they have a short week.

Meanwhile, the Bengals are also coming off a short week, and they are 7 point favorites against the Browns. This one is much harder to predict and I might stay away from it. You need to be careful about the Browns, as Brandon Weeden looked terrible in his first NFL start and Trent Richardson looked very rusty after not playing at all in the preseason. But these rookies are very hard to predict, and if they get their act together the Browns could be a tough opponent for Philly.

Just some food for thought . . .

  

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Free picks for week one NFL action

The NFL is finally back after college football kicked off last week and the Cowboys surprised a lot of people on Wednesday night, so it’s time to get geared up for Sunday’s full lineup of games.

We have a new NFL lines page where you can find lines from a variety of sportsbooks. We’ll also be getting free picks through the year from our friend Vegas Vic, and you can subscribe to Doc’s Sports Service for weekly picks.

The theme for week one is hype. If you’re going to have any success, you need to dig way deeper than the hype you hear over and over again from ESPN and most national pundits. If you only listen to them, you’re probably convinced that Russell Wilson is the second coming of Steve Young and that the Browns can’t win a game. Wilson may end up being good, but none of us have any idea based on a couple of preseason performances. Those stats matter very little, and frankly they don’t make him any taller or more accurate. Meanwhile, everyone is down on the Browns. The team is very young, so naturally they might struggle. But what if Trent Richardson really is healthy? What if Brandon Weeden’s arm looks as good as it did in the preseason? Despite all the hype, I still think Weeden will be a much better pro quarterback than Wilson.

The key to picking games is understanding uncertainty. Just about every pundit assumed Dallas couldn’t beat the Giants. Adam Schein said the Cowboys had “no chance” to win that game. That’s an absurd statement in today’s era of unpredictability in the NFL. You have to dig much deeper.

Cleveland is a 9.5 point underdog at home against Philadelphia. If you base your bets on ESPN power rankings, you’ll probably jump on Philly. But we really have no idea how good the Browns might be with those new players, so I would avoid that game.

Because week one is so hard to predict, I like teaser bets that go counter to the hype. So you can tease down the 7 points New Orleans in giving at home to Washington down to 1 point – essentially making this a pickem game. I Like RGIII, but he’s going on the road to face Drew Brees in his first game, and the Saints have a chip on their shoulder.

I would pair this up with Arizona getting 3 points at home against Seattle. The spread here has shifted from Arizona giving 3 points to getting 3 points, all due to the Russell Wilson hype and the drama surrounding the Arizona quarterback situation. You can tease this up so that Arizona is getting 9 points at home against a rookie quarterback drafted in the third round!

There are never any guarantees of course, and all of this is just for fun. I recommend getting input from professional handicappers as they have so much more information on these games. But the preseason hype offers up some opportunities, and you can usually do better going against the herd.

  

NFL season kicks off tonight

The 2012 football season is finally here. College football kicked off last weekend, with Alabama humiliating Michigan in one of the most high-profile games of week one. Now the NFL gets into the act tonight with the Dallas Cowboys traveling to New York to face the Super Bowl Champion Giants.

Our NFL lines page is now more robust, as it’s powered by SBRodds and features lines from a number of sportsbooks.

We’ll be posting free picks throughout the year from some top handicappers. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you probably won’t do very well just following the herd. For example, last year everyone was convinced that the Cincinnati Bengals would have trouble winning one game with their rookie quarterback. They made the playoffs. This year you’re hearing some of the same stuff about the Cleveland Browns. But if Trent Richardson turns out to be healthy and Brandon Weeden pans out, this team could surprise some people. Meanwhile, the Bengals have lost two starters on the offensive line and Andy Dalton might be facing a sophomore slump. The NFL can be very unpredictable, so be careful about listening to the loudest voices.

Another hyped player this year is Russell Wilson. Yes, he’s looked good in preseason, but let’s wait to see him play one in one real game before electing him to the Hall of Fame and handing the division to the Seahawks.

You don’t have to bet of course to enjoy picking against the spread, as the are plenty of free football pools out there. Still, there are few things like spending a fall weekend in Las Vegas where you can spend the entire day at the sportsbook. Enjoy!

  

Will we get an epic Super Bowl?

The NFL has been on a roll. Recent Super Bowls have produced incredible games, unlike a generation ago when it became an annual blowout. After getting past the nasty labor dispute this offseason, the NFL season hasn’t missed a beat, and we might be heading for an epic showdown in the Super Bowl. Just imagine a matchup between the Packers and the Patriots!

First, you have a battle between two quarterbacks who define this era in the NFL. Tom Brady is the current king of the hill with three Super Bowl titles and amazing stats. He led his team to an undefeated season and then suffered his only significant blemish to his resume with a loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. With Aaron Rodgers you have a quarterback who many believe has surpassed Brady as the best of the NFL. Rodgers capped an epic run last season with an incredible performance in the Super Bowl against the Steelers, and now he’s leading the Packers to a potential undefeated season.

Next, you have two high-profile franchises. While being a small-market team, the Packers are one of the legendary franchises in the NFL who reclaimed their glory with a title last season. With New England you have the team that has dominated the past decade behind Bill Belichick, who many consider to be the best coach of his generation.

Finally, you have two teams that represent the modern NFL with the emphasis on scoring over defense. The game has changed as the NFL tried even harder to protect the quarterback. With these changes, guys like Brady and Rodgers have an even easier time, which then translates to huge stats. But fans love offense!

A matchup between these two teams would be an epic event.

  

Are you ready for some football?

New England Patriots cheerleaders perform during a NFL football game against the New York Giants in Foxborough, Massachusetts September 1, 2011. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

After a brutal off-season, the NFL kicks off tonight with a great match-up between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints in a battle of the past two Super Bowl winners. Check out Anthony Stalter’s 2011 NFL Preview for all of his predictions, and then check out the latest NFL lines to get ready for your office pool.

We’ve included some cheerleader pics for your viewing pleasure so check out more after the jump.

The Redskins cheerleaders are in mid-season form:

Washington Redskins cheerleaders perform in between the first and second quarter their pre-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on August 12, 2011. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg
Washington Redskins cheerleaders perform in between the first and second quarter their pre-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on August 12, 2011. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

These Denver Broncos cheerleaders are loaded with energy:

The Denver Broncos cheerleaders perform at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on August 20, 2011. UPI/Gary C. Caskey
The Denver Broncos cheerleaders perform at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on August 20, 2011. UPI/Gary C. Caskey
The Denver Broncos cheerleaders perform at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on August 20, 2011. UPI/Gary C. Caskey
  

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