Plenty of surprises at mid-point of NFL season

Trent Richardson Browns Facebook 2

The NFL has become so unpredictable it’s become funny listening to so-called experts make definitive statements about what’s going to happen. So far the 2013 season has been one of the most unpredictable in years, and there have been tons of surprises. Last night’s Bengals/Dolphins game was one of many games that had to drive betters crazy, as the game ended up turning on a safety in overtime, which saved anyone who bet the under and killed everyone who bet the over. Of course these things happen all the time and that’s part of the fun (or agony) you know may be in store for you as you browse the lines each week with sites recommended by sites like SportsBettingPal.com, but the overall unpredictability of the NFL has added to the drama. Just consider some of these highlights:

- Who would have guessed that the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans could be this bad? The collapse of these teams has been stunning, even in a league that usually produces surprises.

- The Kansas City Chiefs are the last undefeated team in the NFL. Last year they earned the number one pick in the NFL draft by having the worst record in the NFL. Of course many predicted improvement with Andy Reid taking over for a team that was coached by the epicly inept Romeo Crennel, bit 8-0 is certainly a surprise. Now don’t let that fool you too much, as the Chiefs have been winning some close games against mediocre teams and have been very fortunate with turnovers, so the second half of the season could change this storyline quickly.

- The Cleveland Browns traded Trent Richardson, and then proceeded to win three straight after everyone had assumed that they tanked the season. Brandon Weeden played like a bust, but then Brian Hoyer came in and played like an All Pro. That’s the NFL.

- The New York Jets were left for dead even before the season started, but they’re 4-4. One week their defense look like the ’85 Bears, and the following week they give up over 40 points to Cincy along with five touchdowns for the erratic Andy Dalton.

All of this has added to the fun of picking games against the spread, but it also drives home the point that nothing is a lock in this league. Keep in mind that you’re playing probabilities, and that it can often pay to go against conventional wisdom.

  

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Can Trent Richardson carry the Browns in week 3?


Image source: Browns Facebook page

The first two weeks of the NFL season are always wild, as we really don’t know what many teams are made of. Keep that in mind when you’re looking at the NFL lines to make your picks. It’s easy to get caught up in the preseason hype or grand conclusions based on week one of the regular season.

Many of the fans in Cleveland and the experts around the country were convinced that Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden would be “busts” after their tough debut in week one against a very touch Philly defense, but then both players bounced back with excellent games against Cincy in week two. If you ignored the hysteria and took the Browns last week, you would have either pushed if you had 7 points or you would have been a winner had you shopped around and gotten 7.5 points. You can always shop around for the best odds on our NFL live lines page powered by SBR which gives lines from seven different sources.

This week, the Browns are 3 point dogs at home against Buffalo. I like the Browns, but this one is far from a lock. Richardson and Weeden have a bright future if you look at last week’s game, but they’re still rookies, so they’ll have more tough games like the week one debacle. This game is tough to predict.

I like San Fran giving 6.5 points on the road against the Vikings. The 49ers look like the best team in the NFL right now, and while the Vikings look better, they’ll have a tough time against this monster defense.

  

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!

  

NFL Draft kicks off tonight

Football fans everywhere will be glued to their TV screens tonight as the NFL Draft starts at 8 PM EST on ESPN and the NFL Network. Millions more will be following the action on Twitter, which has become the ultimate meeting spot for sports fanatics. You can follow me our NFL guru, Anthony Stalter, during the draft on Twitter @AnthonyStalter, and you can follow me @clevelandteams. Yes, I’m a tortured Cleveland Browns fan, so the draft is my annual Super Bowl.

Cleveland will be one of the pivotal teams in the draft with the #4 pick, and many are predicting that they will take running back Trent Richardson. But the Minnesota Vikings are making noise about trading out of the #3 pick, and that could mean Richardson goes to a team at #3. These tow teams will be pivotal in a draft that could be very hard to predict after the first two picks.

You can follow Anthony’s NFL draft coverage at ScoresReport.com. You’ll see his mock drafts along with analysis of the top draft prospects and sleepers.

There are so many mock drafts out there these days that you can OD on all the various projections. Of course Mel Kiper and Todd McShay at ESPN has some of the best information out there. Here’s a 7-round mock draft at NFL.com that would make me and other Browns fans very happy. Michael Lombardi’s first round mock draft would be even better, as he has the Browns getting Richardson and then Micheal Floyd dropping down to them at #22.

Search around and you’ll find plenty of information and speculation about your own team. Then you can load up on beer and munchies, invite some friends over and enjoy the show tonight.

  

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