By Paul McGuire
We’re late into the NFL season and it’s the perfect time to cherry-pick games involving teams that are faced with must-win situations if they want to advance to the playoffs. Meanwhile, the rest of the league has given up and biding their time before the season ends.
I almost had a perfect Week 14 until my Sunday was spoiled by the damn Arizona Cardinals, who upended the San Francisco 49ers. On a positive note, everything else materialized including the Big Bet on New Orleans and the Lean bet on the UNDER in the low-scoring Denver Tebows vs. Chicago Bears game that ended in dramatic fashion. The Chinatown Chicken is on a roll and won another Upset of the Week pick. Lastly, we improved to 3-0 this season with two-team teasers. It’s the most profitable advice I’m dispatching.
Let’s get down to Week 15′s selections…
Big Bet (2-2): New Orleans – 6.5
A small gathering of weeping, old Italian women holds vigil on Drew Brees‘ lawn because they all saw an image of the Virgin Mary in his mole. They say seven rosaries for every touchdown he throws. The Weeping Women believe in the power of Brees’ mole and so should you because the New Orleans Saints covered the spread the last five weeks and are 6-1 ATS since mid-October. The Minnesota Vikings are banged up, particularly on offense. QB Christian Ponder got yanked from last week’s game to due to a hip injury, but he’s expected to play on Sunday. RB Adrian Peterson should be back after sitting out a couple of weeks nursing a sprained ankle. Alas, even with a healthy AP, the Vikings won’t be able to score enough points to keep up with the Saints’ potent offense. The Vikings D is going to have its hands full trying to handle Drew Brees and his vast arsenal of offensive weapons.
Wicked Chops College Fund Lock of the Week (1-2-1): Cincy -6.5
I’m in a tough bind here after losing a nice chunk of the college fund Chops set aside for his kid. Chops still has faith that we’ll turn it around. After all, we’re investing for the long haul and I don’t want his kid to be forced to attend the local community college or have to take out a rendonkulously high-interest college loan. We’re seeking redemption this Sunday with the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s not that I believe in ginger QB Andy Dalton, rather, I’m fading the anemic St. Louis Rams. This pathetic squad is 2-11 ATS this season and the lowest-scoring team in the league with 11.8 PPG. Even though they put up 13 points on Monday night, the late 4th-quarter TD occurred during garbage time. The Rams have only scored three offensive TDs in the last four games. Keep fading them.
Leans (2-4-1): Houston -6.5 and Chicago/Seattle UNDER 36
The Houston Texans have a shot at a #1 seed in the playoffs, even with a third-string QB leading the way. Rookie T.J. Yates won last week’s game with a sensational 80-yard drive and threw a touchdown with two seconds left on the clock. The come-from-behind win for the Texans clinched their first-ever playoff berth. This week, they take on the Carolina Panthers, a team that can’t seem to hold onto a lead. The Texans’ stifling defense should keep the Cam Newton show in check. I’m also leaning toward the UNDER in the Chicago/Seattle game. The Seachickens are hot, but they played Monday night and have a short week to prepare for Da Bears at Soldier Field. Even though the Bears are 0-3 since they lost Jay Cutler, their run defense is top notch, barely allowing 100 yards per game. They should contain Seachickens RB Marshawn Lynch and will force QB Tarvaris Jackson to beat them in the air. Without Cutler or RB Matt Forte, don’t expect much scoring from the Bears. I don’t care who wins this game, but all signs point toward a defensive struggle. Ergo, bet the UNDER.
Chinatown Chicken Upset of the Week (2-2): Denver + 6.5
The chicken that plays tic-tac-toe in Chinatown is a Buddhist and doesn’t buy into all of this “God loves Tim Tebow” hype. However, the chicken hates the New England Patriots’ head honcho Bill “Belicheat” Belichick. Pretty boy Tom Brady leads a powerful offensive machine and no one in the league has figured out how to stop TE Rob Gronkowski. But, the Denver Tebows have a gritty defense that has the utmost faith in their leader. The plan is to keep the game close for three quarters then let Tebow work his last-second miracles. The Patriots defense is extremely suspect, so no lead against Tebow will be safe. The Pats should win a close game, but covering by more than a touchdown is problematic.
Step into the Teaser (3-0): Green Bay and NY Jets
We’ve been hot with the teasers and I even mentioned a potential second two-team teaser in last week’s column that also hit (San Diego and the NY Giants).
Anyway, this week’s teaser is Green Bay and the NY Jets. Undefeated Green Bay is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road games but I’m worried about Kansas City because the Chiefs fired their head coach and you never know how a team will respond in their first game with a new coach. Trimming the spread down to under double digits eliminates that X-factor.
The NY Jets are in the hunt for a wild card spot in the playoffs and the Philadelphia Eagles are currently standing in the way of that goal. QB Michael Vick returned last week after sitting out a few games with cracked ribs, but he’ll have a difficult time throwing to DeSean Jackson, who will be exiled onto Revis Island. CB Darrelle Revis will squash any deep threats to Jackson, which will allow Gang Green’s defense to focus on stopping RB LeSean McCoy. During the Jets three-game winning streak, the defense shut down their opposition’s running game by allowing 83.7 rushing yards per game. The Jets are a three-point underdog on the road, so teasing them would force Philly to win by double digits.
That’s it for now. Best of luck this weekend. Time to make some cheddar.