Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers Free Pick & Preview

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Atlanta Falcons (-1) @ Carolina Panthers Free Pick & Preview: Okay, I get it, this is obviously a trap game for the public bettor. And I see what Vegas sees in this one, really, I do, and yes, I’m making my Falcons pick anyway. What does Vegas see, you ask? Well, they see a Falcons team that can’t stop the run, has lucked out lately, and hasn’t really played elite football consistently all season long. They are just 1-3 on the road, and that offense that was supposed to dominate this season – they’ve been out-gained in 3 of the last 4 games and their opponents have gained more yardage through the air in 6 of their last 7 – even Jake Delhomme and the Panthers out-passed Matty Ice and the falcons. But despite all this, the hype train is running at full speed.

Then you have Carolina, a team that can run on anyone and has done so, has played well against two tough teams in two weeks, and are playing at home against a team that can’t stop the run (or pass for that matter). The Falcons are 5-3, the Panthers 3-5, and there you have it, the Panthers have some value at home if you look at it from those perspectives.

But, look out, I’m ignoring those things. I’m ignoring the Panthers 3-1 ATS record in their last 4 games. I’m going with the Falcons because their coaching staff doesn’t get side-tracked into believing they are something they aren’t. They run the ball well, and will do so against Carolina – they pass the ball better than Carolina, and make way fewer mistakes. They don’t do much for me defensively, but that’s okay, because Carolina loves to forget how easy gaining yards on the ground is. They love to become a passing team with the game on the line, and that has led to much failure.

I’ll ignore all that smart betting business for the simple fact that I can trust the Falcons to do the right thing and I can trust the Panthers to screw up a game where they played like the better team. Fair enough? I think so.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals Free NFL Pick

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Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals Free NFL Pick: Last time out the Bengals beat the Ravens in Baltimore, pulling a pretty nice upset both against the spread and straight up. The Bengals have had a week off to relax and ponder how easy it was beating up on the Bears. Palmer tossed 4 touchdown passes and Cedric Benson ran wild against his former team as Cincinnati steamrolled the Bears. The Ravens aren’t coming off a bye, but they are coming off a 30-7 win over the previously undefeated Denver Broncos last week. In that game they seemingly got their pass defense in a good place.

The Ravens have struggled against teams that can really throw it, giving up 436 yards to Phillip Rivers in a close win over the Chargers, and 3 touchdown passes by Brett Favre in a close loss to Minnesota. Carson Palmer also diced them up for 270+ yards last time out.But like I said, they looked good against the pass last week.

But here’s the deal, and it’s a situation I take very much to heart when picking games over the second half of any given NFL season; Unless there is some sort of extreme mismatch between two good football teams, the chances of a split are pretty good.

I think these two teams are very similar. The Ravens are probably even a little bit better. This game means a lot to the Ravens, sitting at 4-3 and 3rd place in the AFC North, behind the Bengals and Steelers. The Bengals aren’t going to lay down, but I think a lot of the Ravens, and a split with the Bengals looks like a good bet to me.

Washington Redskins vs Atlanta Falcons Football Pick

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Washington Redskins @ Atlanta Falcons (-10): Here’s the deal, and I want to be very clear on this, I wouldn’t bet much on this game, and I won’t, if I do at all. Why you might ask? Anyone can see that the Redskins are struggling mightily with more things than anyone can count.

Offensively they just can’t score points, and defensively they give up big plays and despite playing pretty stout during stretches, they are consistently put in a bad place by their bad offense. Then there’s the coaching troubles, the questions in the organization, and how just recently the owner of the team publicly discussed his disappointment with the players, saying that they have “let everybody down” and I’m sure even more will come out about team-dysfunctional before the game kicks off in Atlanta – but this is a trap game for the Falcons if I’ve ever seen one, and defensively the Redskins have the talent to shut down the run and make some big plays if the Falcons aren’t focused.

The Falcons just came off a game against the Saints on Monday Night where they played very well against one of the league’s best teams, and if they walked away from that game feeling like they can play and compete against the best, a moral victory of sorts, then they might be in for a battle against the Redskins. A week off for Washington might have been enough to get their offense on the right page with the new play-caller.

Listen, I know what I see, and I see a beat and battered Redskins team flying into Atlanta this Sunday. But this one worries me a bit, just an eerie feeling I guess, one that will keep my risking just a little if any. With my Falcons pick, I’m warning you.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Pick

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Kansas City Chiefs (+6.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Pick: First off, I don’t think the Jaguars have showed me enough consistency to be favored by 6.5 points against anybody in the league, even the Chiefs. A Chiefs team coming off a bye week. A Chiefs team looking for their first real win of the season (Can Washington really count?). A Chiefs team that just got rid of the guy that put himself before the team.

With Jamal Charles getting more touches, the Chiefs have more chances to hit the big play. With Matt Cassel getting more and more practice time with Todd Haley, this offense should get better and better as the season goes forward. I’m not sure what the addition of Chris Chambers will do for this team, but right off hand Chris can come in and make a difference as a guy that blocks well, and plays the right way.

I’ve liked the Jaguars for a long time, but they are a predictable team that just got more predictable when Jack Del Rio limited his quarterback’s audibles, telling him not to check out of MJD runs. (Don’t get me wrong, I would likely tell David Garrard the same thing, I just wouldn’t tell the media.) As if the Chiefs weren’t going to stack the box already.  The Jaguars don’t look like a well-coached team, and they certainly lack physicality outside of MJD.

This game has already moved to 7 at Bodog, and it could make that jump in a lot of books by the end of the week. So far, 62% of the bets like Jacksonville. The Jaguars have been favored twice this season, they’ve lost both ATS. This should be an ugly and close game, so the points look good enough to me.

San Francisco 49ers vs Houston Texans Free Football Pick

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San Francisco 49ers (+3) @ Houston Texans: One down game from the 49ers doesn’t have me going away from them here. Now, I like both teams. I thin the Houston Texans are going to put up some wins this season, no doubt, their 3-3 record thus far isn’t a fluke, but the 49ers are too tough for them. San Francisco is coming off a bye, and an off week of feeling that Falcon blasting from Week 5 might just be the thing they needed to step up their play. This will be Michael Crabtree’s first NFL appearance, after he finally signed his rookie deal two weeks ago. But I don’t think Crab will be the guy that makes the difference here, that title goes to the return of Frank Gore. That’s right folks, the spoon that stirs San Francisco’s offense will be back and starting in this one, and that Houston front 7 (or 8 during this game) will have their hands full. I expect the 49ers to win in Houston, so taking them to cover here (getting a field goal free) is just bonus!

San Diego Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs Football Pick

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San Diego Chargers (-4.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs: I know KC is tough at home, and I know this game was very close twice last year (though San Diego won both, KC covered each) but I’m with the public in this one. I think most of the spreads this week are pretty tough, but I like the Chargers by a touchdown here. I actually think San Diego played very well last week against the Broncos. They allowed two kick return touchdowns to Eddie Royal (well one punt and one KO) and besides that they were stingy on defense. They held a pretty tough rushing attack to 101 yards on 33 carries, and the secondary made some nice plays. And that’s all against a very efficient offense that boasts one of the best offensive lines in football. Kansas City doesn’t have that. Offensively, Phillip Rivers and company moved the ball fairly well, and LT actually ran with solid effectiveness against a defense that has shut down the run all season long. There’s some questions in San Diego, no doubt about it, and Kansas City has played pretty decent over the last couple weeks, going to OT with Dallas and getting their first win of the season against Washington, but I have to go with the Chargers here. Four and a half isn’t crazy. The Chargers have played some close games with some good teams, and at 2-3 on the season with Denver at 6-0, they can’t afford to take the Chiefs lightly. I’ll take the road favorites here.

Indianapolis Colts vs St. Louis Rams Free NFL Pick

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Indianapolis Colts (-13) @ St. Louis Rams: The Colts are too good to go against here. The Rams may have given Jacksonville a scare last week, and I know this is the NFL, so anything crazy can happen (see Philadelphia’s breakdown in Oakland last week) but does anyone really see the Rams having a chance here? I’ve never been a huge Peyton Manning fan, but I can respect the man’s work, and he does it perfectly. He has all the tools, the accuracy, and the know-how – not to mention the work he puts in to be great. And he’s going up against the Rams, a defense that doesn’t successfully stop anyone. Offensively, the Rams just aren’t good enough to oust the Colts. Not only are the Colts a team that makes you be efficient and methodically move the ball to stand a chance, but they have a front 4 that constantly puts opposing offenses in tough situations. And this week they will likely get Bob Sanders back. Yeah, that’s right, the Colts have done this all without their best secondary player, the human missile, Bob Sanders. Marlin Jackson (the best corner on the team) might also be back after missing the first handful of games. I know it’s a double digit spread, but if there’s ever a time to take a road favorite in this situation, it’s now. The Colts have a very quick strike offense with one of the best QBs of all time. They limit big plays defensively and get after opposing QBs. Marc Bulger is a turnover machine under pressure and he just happens to be quarterbacking the worst team in football. That’s all I’ve got, give me the Colts.