Welcome to SLICED SPREAD, the place on Inside Pulse Sports for weekly NFL picks against the spread, head to head survivor picks, and score prognostications.
Heading into Week 4 of action, I really thought that the theme was going to be course correction. With ten underdogs covering the spread in Week 3, I figured Week 4 was bound to be the week where the favorites finally broke through.
Well, as the old adage says, the NFL giveth, the NFL taketh away … and by the time the early games concluded, the underdogs had a whopping record of 7-1 ATS, which dropped me to 2-6 to start the week as follows:
–CB WIN: Detroit Lions (+14.5, lost H2H 28-26 to a flat Green Bay team as I predicted)
–CB LOSS: Buffalo Bills (+4.5, lost H2H 38-14 to the Jets and I am now a believer in Gang Green after thinking they blew out the inferior Bills in a division game the Jets historically tend to keep too close for comfort)
–CB LOSS: Carolina Panthers (+13.5, lost H2H 16-14 to the Saints in a near-killer for my H2H Survivor Pool Picks)
–CB LOSS: San Francisco 49ers (+6.5, lost H2H 16-14 to a Falcons team who barely scraped by at home)
–CB WIN: St. Louis Rams (+0.5, won H2H 20-3 over the Seahawks in a game I knew St. Louis would win)
–CB LOSS: Cleveland Browns (+2.5, won H2H 23-20 to shock the offensively challenged Bengals)
–CB LOSS: Denver Broncos (+6.5, won H2H 26-20 to stop the Titans in their tracks)
–CB LOSS: Baltimore Ravens (+1.5, won H2H 17-14 with a last-minute spread-crushing TD to prevent the Steelers from going 4-0 without Big Ben at QB)
Thankfully, I was able to recover and go 4-2 the rest of the week – special props to the Jacksonville Jaguars for coming through against the Colts as I suspected they might – and so I’ll take that 6-8 record as a positive sign that things will turn back around as we hit NFL Week 5 at full speed.
Onto the breakdown!
SLICED SPREAD: NFL WEEK 4 BREAKDOWN
WEEK 4 ATS: 6-8
WEEK 4 LOCKS ATS: 1-2
WEEK 4 H2H SURVIVOR PICK: WIN (New Orleans over Carolina)
THIS SEASON ATS: 28-34
THIS SEASON LOCKS ATS: 3-9
H2H SURVIVOR TEAMS USED:
Tennessee (Week 1, Win)
Green Bay (Week 2, Win)
New England (Week 3, Win)
New Orleans (Week 4, Win)
SLICED SPREAD: NFL WEEK 5 PICKS
Home teams are shown in CAPS
Point spreads shown in ().
Denver (+7.5) over BALTIMORE – Last week, the Ravens and Broncos both proved me wrong last week. Baltimore won in dramatic fashion when Joe Flacco threw a TD pass in the closing minute to take down the Steelers, and the Broncos showed some guts and gumption on the road by beating up the Titans. The toughness both teams demonstrated in Week 4 and the high spread here makes my decision easy. I’ll take the points in a close one. Ravens win 24-21
*LOCK IT UP: NY Giants (+3.5) over HOUSTON – The Giants put on a pass-rushing clinic against the Bears on Sunday night, turning Jay Cutler and Todd Collins into their own living Crash Test Dummies. In other news, the Texans got back on track against the Raiders in a game that got close late but was never really in jeopardy. The 3-1 Texans have proven they are formidable opponents on any given Sunday, but I think the reinvigorated 2-2 Giants will win in this spot and reestablish themselves as NFC contenders. After all, sometimes the most dangerous team is the not the team that has proven themselves, but the team with something to prove. Giants win 27-24
Green Bay (-2.5) over WASHINGTON – The Packers and Redskins both won close calls last week. However, Clinton Portis is now injured and Donovan McNabb looked unimpressive in his return to Philadelphia as a division rival. I still think the Packers are the better team and if they truly are a Super Bowl contender, they’ll have to consistently show they can win away from Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers and Company will do just that in DC. Packers win 30-20
*LOCK IT UP: St. Louis (+3.5) over DETROIT – Just like I did with the Chiefs for the first three weeks of the season, I am going to stick with the unsuspecting hot-handed Rams and ride this little win streak for as long as I think it will last. Honestly, I can’t believe the winless Lions are favored against anybody right now – outside of Buffalo, N.Y., at least – regardless of where this game is being played. Rams win their third in a row. Rams win 28-21
Chicago (-2.5) over CAROLINA — After seeing Jay Cutler and Todd Collins get knocked around like Crash Test Dummies last week, I was thinking that I might go with the Panthers at home. I then came to my senses and realized that this game is going to come down to a defensive battle, and in that area I feel like the Bears have the edge. With the concussed Jay Cutler now officially sidelined this week, the starting quarterbacks in this matchup are “where-have-you-been” veteran Todd Collins and “never-has-been-anywhere” rookie Jimmy Clausen. Since we have no idea what to expect from those two, let me throw out these two additional nuggets: 1) Panthers wide receiver / playmaker Steve Smith is out; and 2) Bears standout defensive end Julius Peppers is going to be as pumped up as he can possibly be when lining up against his former team. By the end of the day, therefore, Clausen will see stars and the Bears will get a hard-fought cover. Bears win 19-13
*H2H SURVIVOR PICK: INDIANAPOLIS over Kansas City, BUT…
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Kansas City (+8.5) over INDIANAPOLIS – That’s right, for the first time this season, I am splitting my head-to-head Survivor pick away from my against-the-spread prediction. The Chiefs have not done me wrong as underdogs in each of their first three games, and I strongly feel that they will come off their bye week to play the Colts hard and tightly enough to cover the spread. With that said, I just can’t see the Colts losing two in a row, especially with this game at home where Peyton Manning will look to buckle down and bounce back following a road loss to the Jags. Colts win 31-24
Jacksonville (-0.5) over BUFFALO – I really don’t like this game at all. All logic would point to a Jacksonville cover based on the fact that this is essentially a pick’em spread, but I’m sure there’s a reason for that. The Jags won their most important game of the year against the hated Colts last week, and the Bills were simply decimated by the Jets. Yet here we are, and here I am, awfully leery of a Jags team that is bound for a letdown, but at the same time I just can’t bring myself to pick the Bills – who I said would go 0-16 this season – to flat-out win against any other team in the league. Jaguars win 16-12
Atlanta (-2.5) over CLEVELAND – The pesky-at-home Browns are coming off their first win of 2010, and while they stung me last week in a very similar spot, I can’t go against a Falcons team who marched into New Orleans two weeks ago and out-paced the Saints. Falcons win 21-17
Tampa Bay (+6.5) over CINCINNATI – The Steelers truly dismantled the favored Bucs before their bye week, trouncing them 38-13 in Tampa. During the Bucs’ time off, the Browns beat the Bengals 23-20 with Cleveland as home dogs. Therefore, I’ll take the points and pick the fresher underdog team with less to lose here to cover, though the Bengals will muster up just enough offense scratch this one out. Bengals win 16-14
ARIZONA (+6.5) over New Orleans – I was thinking that this could be a breakout win for the Saints, who so far this season have won by margins of 5, 3, and 2 points in their wins, and lost by 3 points in their lone loss. However, as enticing as it is to think Drew Brees can win any game by a touchdown, the Saints simply haven’t gone out and done it yet in 2010. Whether it’s Derek Anderson or Max Hall at the helm for Arizona, I’ll take the points until New Orleans proves they can go back to their gun-slinging ways. Saints win 20-17
Tennessee (+6.5) over DALLAS – If the Titans can go into New York and upend the Giants two weeks ago, then they can easily give the Cowboys fits when traveling to their house too. Dallas played with all of the desperation in the world to save their season, but it’s now been two weeks since that euphoric moment in Houston and I sense that there will be a little bit of a letdown before the Cowboys recover and pull away late. Cowboys win 27-21
San Diego (-5.5) over OAKLAND – I tend to read the Chargers pretty well, and after last week’s 41-10 demoralization of the Cards, I have a feeling they will travel well this week and beat the Raiders like they consistently do every year. Chargers win 35-24
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Philadelphia (+3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO — I really want to like the Niners in this situation, especially with Michael Vick sidelined due to injury. However, there is at least one game every season where Andy Reid pulls the rabbit out of the hat and the Eagles notch an illogical victory that they have no business getting. It’s a shame for Coach Reid that his voodoo never works in the Playoffs, but that’s a digression worth shelving until January rolls around. In the interim, Kevin Kolb steps up on Sunday, the Eagles win, and Mike Singletary holds impromptu tryouts in the parking lot after the game, if of course he doesn’t get jettisoned off the premises himself. Eagles win 27-23
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
*LOCK IT UP: Minnesota (+4.5) over NY JETS — Before the Randy Moss trade, I was finally going to go with the Jets after they won three division games in succession against the Patriots, Dolphins and Bills at my expense. As a normally pessimistic Jets fan, I would love nothing more than to see them destroy Brett Favre, and adding Randy Moss to this already combustible mix makes me want to see the Jets crush the Vikings even more. Alas, what my heart wants doesn’t coincide with what my mind is thinking, which is that this game suddenly went from a convincing Jets win to back in play. You just can’t underestimate a newly energized Randy Moss, especially when he already torched a still-possibly-hamstrung Darrelle Revis once already this season. I’ll take the points in what will be a personally heart-pounding NY win. Jets win 31-28
As you may or may not have noticed, I am actually rolling the dice with 13 out of the 14 road teams against the spread this week, with Arizona as the lone home cover. I didn’t plan on doing that but it is an interesting calculation nonetheless, one that I hope pays off dividends this week and gets me back to over .500 for the season.
That’s it for this week’s edition of SLICED SPREAD.
See you next week – CB.
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