Chuck’s Choices: NFL Week 15

Blake BortlesLast Week: 2-3

Season: 34-29-2 (.540)

The Best Laid Plans…

Week 14 was a long, strange trip. Our two winners were fairly comfortable victories, with the Browns winning by 14 points as 1.5-point favorites and never really being threatened, and the Jaguars coasting to a lop-sided 51-16 win over the Colts. The first two losses were lost causes almost from the start. The Bengals never seemed to threaten the Steelers after losing QB Andy Dalton to a broken thumb in the first half, ultimately losing by 13. The Buccaneers fell behind the Saints 14-0 and never recovered in a 24-17 loss. The Monday night win we were hoping for with the Dolphins never really had a chance against a hot Eli Manning/Odell Beckham Jr. combo as the Giants finished off Miami 31-24 in a game which was not as close as the final score.

The good news is that there are still three weeks left in the regular season, and all sorts of opportunities await us in our quest to end up in the black. Before we get to this weeks picks, here are a few others we like this week–just not enough to make the final cut as one of the five best Chuck’s Choices: Kennedy, my 8-year old neighbor, almost talked me into the Falcons (+3 at Jacksonville). In the end, it was just nonsensical to ask a team who has lost six games in a row to cover a spread on the road. It was all I could do to lay off the Browns this week (+15 at Seattle). You’d have to be a nitwit to pick against the Seahawks at home, but sometimes the nit-wittiest picks are the wisest. Another of our staff, Steve the Desert Tortoise, liked the 49ers at home (+5.5 vs. Cincinnati) and this could have very well made the cut for Week 15. It was a simple case of having five other picks in which we were more confident. And here they are:

Chuck’s Choices for Week 15

(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo as of Friday night.)

Jay Cutler

Bears QB Jay Cutler

Bears (+5.5) over VIKINGS  Since 2010 these two teams have played 12 times, with the Bears holding an 8-4 advantage. In games Chicago has lost to the Vikings in that time span, they have lost only once by more than five points (21-14 in 2012). In fact, their last 10 games this season, the Bears have lost by more than five points only once, and that was a 26-20 overtime loss to the 49ers. The point is, even though the Bears have a poor record, they are playing good football. After having their playoff hopes pretty much dashed last week, you might expect a letdown. But this is a game with a division foe against whom Chicago has had success. John Fox will keep them playing hard, and the Vikings still have enough key injuries on defense to allow the Bears to stay in the game and give K Robbie Gould a chance to redeem himself. Bears 27, Vikings 26

RAVENS (+7) over Chiefs Yes, the Chiefs have won seven games in a row and, yes, the Ravens were humiliated by the Seahawks 38-6 at home last week. Kansas City, however, is not Seattle. The Chiefs are not a team with the offensive firepower nor the mentality to cover a 7-point spread on the road. Coach John Harbaugh, like Chicago’s John Fox, will not let his team give up at the end of the season. The Chiefs have not played an early game in the Eastern time zone since week 4, and may not score until they wake up at halftime. Chiefs 20, Ravens 17

Phillip Rivers

Rivers is still playing hard

CHARGERS (-2) over Dolphins  This could be the last game for the Chargers on their home field in San Diego, as the most experts see them moving to Los Angeles next season. Maybe that has something to do with this game, and maybe it doesn’t. What makes a difference is that the Chargers are still playing hard, and the Dolphins seem to have left early for the off-season. How motivated can they be, making a cross-country trek after getting beaten by the Giants on Monday night? San Diego is 5th in the league against the pass. They are 29th vs. RBs in fantasy on the year, but have been very good in the past three games, limiting opposing runners to around 13 points per game. Though they probably will be in the lineup, Miami standouts WR Jarvis Landry and RB Lamar Miller are both nursing injuries. Chargers 37, Dolphins 20

Broncos (+7) over STEELERS  It is always wise to take a team with a good defense who is getting points. The Broncos have a great defense and they are getting spotted a touchdown. The Steelers have a fabulous passing game with Ben Roethlisberger and a fleet of great WRs, but Denver has given up only two touchdowns to wide receivers all season. On the other side of the ball, the Steelers are 27th in the league in surrendering points to WRs. The loss to Oakland was not on QB Brock Osweiler, as his WRs had the dropsies all afternoon. That won’t happen again. Coach Gary Kubiak will probably try to run the ball against the Steel Curtain, but will have to let Osweiler take some shots downfield eventually. Broncos 24, Steelers 21

Drew Brees

Saints QB Drew Brees

SAINTS (-3) over Lions  There are several trends, spelled out on R.J. Bell’s Pregame.comthat make the Saints a good proposition here. In their last 14 prime time home games, the Saints are 13-1 against the spread (ATS). In the Lions’ last 22 games played in December or later, they are 4-18 ATS. As a road underdog, Detroit is 4-13-1 ATS. The Saints love playing in New Orleans, and QB Drew Brees loves showing off for the home crowd. His time with coach Sean Payton looks like it may end after this season, and Brees looks like he is making the most of it. The defense has been the Achilles’ Heel for the Saints, but has improved much under new coordinator Dennis Allen. This may be a very entertaining Monday Night Football game, indeed. Saints 45, Lions 37

*Follow me on Twitter: @Chuck_Pod

*Hear all the picks each week on the Fantasy Pulse Podcast with Josh Johnson and Nick Wagner on Dynasty Football Warehouse



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Chuck’s Choices: NFL Week 14

New England PatriotsLast Week: 1-4

Season: 32-26-2 (.552)

Beware the Fall of the Undefeated

I discovered a trend in the NFL that is so blatant that I cannot believe anyone, including myself, did not stumble upon it much earlier this season. In fact, I am so late in getting to the party that we may not be able to cash in on it at all in 2015 and can only hope it holds true in similar situations next year. We will call this the “Curse of the unbeaten.”

Take yourself back to a place early in the NFL campaign, when sportscasters, commentators and tweeters–anyone, really, who had an interest in pro football–was dumbfounded at how many undefeated teams there were to begin the season. At one time there were six NFL teams who were at least 5-0–the Falcons, Packers, Broncos, Bengals, Patriots and Panthers. All were, as they say, on a roll and clearly out-classing their respective divisions (with the exception of the Falcons and Panthers, who both reside in the NFC South). One-by-one each of those teams, except Carolina, has seen their winning streak come to an inglorious end. The interesting thing, however, has been how those teams performed after that first loss.

The first was the Falcons, who won five in a row before losing in New Orleans 31-21. The next week they had to hang on to beat the Titans (but lose to the point spread as 6-point favorites) 10-7 in Tennessee. Subsequent games saw them lose at home to Tampa Bay and then on the road to the 49ers. Atlanta, in fact, has not won another game, going 1-6 since starting the season without a loss in five games.

Next up is the Green Bay Packers. 6-0 before suffering their first loss on a Sunday night in Denver 29-10. The following week produced a loss at Carolina followed by a surprising upset at the hands of the Lions at home. Unbeaten in six straight to start the season, the Pack then suffered three straight losses.

Then there is Denver, who began their own slide just a week after beating the Packers. After having their 7-0 record spoiled in a 27-24 loss in Indianapolis, the Broncos proceeded to get pounded by the Chiefs at Mile High Stadium. That was followed by a scary 17-15 win at Chicago. Since then they seem to have righted the ship, but another team had dropped two games in a row after being knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten. By this time, surely, someone would have picked up on this phenomenon.

The trend continued with the Bengals (8-0). Sitting fat and happy, Cincinnati welcomed the lowly Houston Texans to town for a Monday Night Football game. The Texans surprised America by stealing a 10-6 victory and handing the Bengals their first loss of the season. One week later, the Bengals suffered their second straight loss, 34-31, to the Arizona Cardinals. (To be fair, the Bengals were a point spread winner in this game as 4-point underdogs.)

The New England Patriots are the latest undefeated team to have their streak end, going 10-0 before a 30-24 loss at Denver. They quickly moved to 10-2 after a stunning 35-28 loss at home the following week to the Philadelphia Eagles, and now face a dangerous Houston team on the road this weekend.

To sum it up, there were six teams who started the season with at least five wins in a row. Five of those teams are no longer undefeated. If you would have bet against each of those teams in the game following their first loss of the season, you would have won four and lost one (.800). Another interesting aspect of this research reveals that, overall, the five teams who have had their winning streaks stopped this season are a collective 8-16 in games after their winning streak. The Broncos and Bengals seem to have “weathered the storm” of the post-streak blues, going undefeated after losing twice following their respective streaks. The Falcons, Packers and Patriots, however, are a dismal 3-12 following their hot starts.

Post Streak Records

This, now, leaves only the Carolina Panthers, who look like they may skip happily through the rest of the season without a loss. If they should stumble and lose one before the current schedule ends, rest assured we’ll be ready. The one caveat here is, of course, my favorite handicapping axiom: A trend will only last as long as it takes you to identify it.

Chuck’s Choices for Week 14

(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo as of Friday night.)

Andy DaltonBENGALS (-3) over Steelers  When making a case against the Steelers, I have to refer to their record on the road this season. They have played five road games and have lost at New England, Kansas City and Seattle–three pretty good teams. Cincinnati is a pretty good team, too, and their defense is at least as strong as those in KC and Seattle. The thing that really makes the difference here is the Steelers defense. Though they are second in the league in fantasy points given up in the running game, they are 28th against Wide Receivers, 26th vs. TEs and 22nd against quarterbacks. Those categories happen to be where the Bengals are strongest. Bengals 31, Steelers 10

BROWNS (-1.5) over 49ers  San Francisco is playing their second straight road game in the early time slot. They somehow beat the Bears last week, and I’m betting they can’t pull it off twice in two weeks. the Poor House is filled with gamblers who put their money on the Cleveland Browns, but there is reason for the fans to get excited this late in the season despite a 2-10 record. That reason is Johnny Manziel. Whether the team’s motive is  to find out what “Johnny Football” can do on the field (they kinda have an idea what he can do off the field), or they simply want to sell late-season tickets, the stadium will be packed with Dawg-Pounders elbowing their way in for a first-hand look at Cleveland’s latest heir to the quarterback throne. If Manziel has the wisdom to let people like TE Gary Barnidge and RB Duke Johnson help him, this should be a breeze. If he thinks he can do it himself, it still might be enough to beat the Niners. Browns 17, 49ers 12

Jameis WinstonBUCCANEERS (-4.5) over Saints  It is not often you see Tampa Bay favored by 4.5 points over anyone. (According to RJ Bell at, this is only the sixth time in the past five years that they have been favored by more than a field goal.) Is is not often you have any reason to pick Tampa Bay as a 4.5 point favorite in an NFL game. This is one of those occasions, and most of the reasons have to do with the Saints. They are abysmal on the road, and especially so on natural turf. There last two road games on the natural surface were losses by a collective 86-31 score. Their defense is still the worst, even after getting rid of DC Rob Ryan. They have given up over 5100 yards and 35 touchdown passes. If those reasons weren’t enough, let’s throw in the fact that they have very little purpose in playing anymore. Their big chance was last week, when they came very close to handing Carolina their first loss of the season. It did not happen, and now they are 4-8 and going nowhere. It looks like Head Coach Sean Payton is headed elsewhere at the end of the season, and QB Drew Brees simply looks old and tired. On the Buccaneers side, it’s an entirely different scenario. They are in the playoff hunt and their number-one draft pick, QB Jameis Winston is the most popular guy in town. Their rushing game is averaging 4.8 yards per attempt, while giving opponents only 3.5 YPA. The cannons at Raymond James Stadium will boom early and often on Sunday. Buccaneers 28, Saints 12

JAGUARS (-1) over Colts  I know the Colts have dominated their AFC South opponents over the years, and have 16 straight-up wins (13-2-1 ATS). I also know the Colts have beaten the Jags six straight times. Sometimes those streaks need to come to an end, and here is where the end occurs. In compiling that 16-0 division win streak the Colts have had an Andrew Luck, or at the very least a healthy Matt Hasselbeck, at the helm. Luck is inactive for this game, and Hasselbeck was beaten to a pulp last week by the Steelers. That leaves journeyman Charlie Whitehurst or a crippled Hasselbeck to lead an undermanned Indy team into Jacksonville against a team still energized about their future. Blake Bortles is lighting up the fantasy world with crazy numbers against a Colts team who ranks 30th against WRs and 25th vs. QBs. The one weakness in the Jags defense is against the run, and Indy has no rushing attack to speak of (27th in the league). Jaguars 27, Colts 13

ndamukong suhDOLPHINS (+1) over Giants  In order to win this game, the Dolphins must control one thing–turnovers. The New York Giants are +9 in turnover differential this season, and are one of 13 teams in the league this year with a differential of +2 or better. They are the only one of those 13 teams with a losing record (6-7). Earlier it was mentioned that the Saints had given up more than 5100 yards on defense this season. The Giants are the only other team to give up more than 5000 yards. On the Miami side, the team is still playing hard for Coach Dan Campbell, and the added luster of the national TV audience on Monday Night will surely add to that excitement. It will be interesting to see how Eli Manning and the Giants’ offensive will hold up to the Dolphins’ pass rush, which has produced 25 sacks since the head coaching change four games into the season. Neither defense is very good against the pass, so this may be an entertaining Monday night affair. Dolphins 45, Giants 39

Follow me on Twitter: @Chuck_Pod

Hear me each week on the Fantasy Pulse Podcast with Josh Johnson and Nick Wagner





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Chuck’s Choices: NFL Week 13

Mariota TitansLast Week: 2-3

Season: 31-22-2 (.585)

Being on the Wrong Side of a “Bad Beat”

For those of you not familiar with it, there is a term in handicapping called a “bad beat.” It happens when the team on which you bet loses by the point spread on a fluke play late in the game. In most cases it involves a fumble recovery run in for a touchdown or a pick-six. In the case of Chuck’s Choices, it happened last Monday night as the Cleveland Browns were poised to kick the game-winning field goal, and the Baltimore Ravens not only blocked the kick, but ran it in for the winning score with no time remaining.

Desert Tortoise


These things happen to even the best prognosticators. And even though they hurt at the time, they provide a lifetime of stories to tell your buddies when it inevitably happens to them. If there is any consolation in last week’s debacle, it is that even if the Browns had made the field goal, it would have only been a push, as they were favored by three.  This thought did little to quell the trucker language that came from my staff at our regular Tuesday morning meeting of the minds. For the record, I never had any idea that an 8-year old knew those kind of words. Kennedy’s mom must have let those slip. Steve the Desert Tortoise was no angel either, and I’m sure I would have blushed had I known “turtle language.”

Eventually I got them focused enough to get to work on this week’s picks. As always, we promise to do better this week.

Chuck’s Choices for Week 13

(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo.)

Alshon Jeffery

Alshon Jeffery

BEARS (-7) over 49ers  Being a Bears fan, it was tough to include them in the “Fabulous Five” picks this week. (Hello heart? This is the head…) When it finally came down to it, I decided there was enough over-riding evidence to go ahead and tab this Chicago team. It is simply a matter of which team is playing better football right now. The Bears are 3-3 in their last six games, but they have lost those three games by a total of eight points, to the Lions, Vikings and Broncos. The 49ers have won only three games this year, and all of those came at home. On the road they have five losses by an average of 21 points. Only once have they kept the final spread closer than 16 points (a 30-27 loss to the Giants). Coach John Fox has Chicago playing smart and tough. It helps that TE Martellus Bennett and WR Alshon Jeffrey will both be healthy on Sunday for the Bears, while the Niners will be without RB Carlos Hyde and TE Garrett Celek, and WR Torrey Smith is on the injury report with a back issue.  Bears 29, 49ers 9

TITANS (-2.5) over Jaguars  This is silly. I have no tangible reason to like the Titans in this game. After all, the Jags are still in the race for “supremacy” in the AFC South, only two games back. The Titans have won two games this year, and both of those have come on the road. In their last 20 games at home, the Titans have covered only three times. Maybe it’s time Tennessee takes a page from the Aaron Rodgers handbook and simply r-e-l-a-x. There is no playoff this year, but there is still the development of rookie QB Marcus Mariota. The Titans defense is good against the run, and middle-of-the-pack against wide receivers. There is reason for optimism in Nashville, and the Titans will give the home folks something to look forward to in 2016. Titans 35, Jaguars 21

Adrian Peterson

Peterson leads the NFL #1 rush offense.

VIKINGS (+2) over Seahawks  Seattle has won two games in a row, and they are now good enough to be favored on the road against a division leader? Those two “wins” were over the 49ers and the Steelers. Before last week’s game against Pittsburgh, all of the talk was about how the bad the Steelers were when they played out of their time zone. There has been nothing said this week about the Seahawks record when they play outside of their time zone. Here it is: Seattle has played four games this year on the road, out of the Pacific time zone. They lost three of them (at St. Louis, Green Bay and Cincinnati) and barely got out of Dallas with a 13-12 win over the Matt Cassel-led Cowboys. The betting public still thinks Seattle is the same team who went to the Super Bowl the last two years. Until they wise up, it is a good idea to fade them on the road.  Vikings 28, Seahawks 17

RAMS (+5) over Cardinals  This is simple. Rams Coach Jeff Fisher wants, more than anything, to beat the teams in his division–the NFC West. Just take a look at their record this season. The Rams have four wins, and three of them are over the Seahawks, Cardinals and 49ers. Now they come into a divisional game against the Cardinals with four straight losses, forcing the odds-makers to install them as underdogs for this Sunday’s game. Arizona is sitting on a three-game lead in the division and Coach Bruce Arians is a big-picture guy. He won’t risk playing anyone who is not 100 per cent healthy this week, with the Vikings coming to town next week. The Rams are inspired. The Cardinals are not. Rams 23, Cardinals 14

Washington Redskins

The Skins look to stay hot at home.

REDSKINS (-4) over Cowboys  The Redskins are world-beaters at home, and I will stick with them until they break that trend. They have won five of six at home, and came within a play of tying the game against Miami in the first game of the season in a 17-10 loss. It is scary to imagine the mindset of the Cowboys this week. When Tony Romo went down earlier in the year, the mantra was to hang on until he got back. Even though they lost every game without him, the NFC East is so inept that the ‘Boys were still in the hunt upon Romo’s return. Now he is gone again. There is no hope in Jerryville. The only question is how the ‘Skins will react to being favored, and to being first in the division. We will discover much about their character this Sunday. Redskins 27, Cowboys 20

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Chuck’s Choices: NFL Week 12

Jameis WinstonLast Week: 1-3-1

Season: 29-19-2 (.604)

It Was a Bad Week

I swear I will never, ever pick against the Carolina Panthers–at least for the remainder of this season. If I have even a tinge of an idea of picking against them, I will simply stay away from their game. The Panthers have made a fool of me–and many handicappers this season–and will be respected in this column until they at least lose a game. My apologies to the Panthers, their fans, and my friend Pam who reminds us on Facebook each week to “keep pounding.” I am assuming that’s a Carolina catch-phrase and that Pam is neither a carpenter nor a masochist.

Suffering losses on the Redskins, Jets and Bears (at least the Bears put up a fight) last Sunday, the weekend was salvaged a bit by wins on Chiefs routing of the Chargers and a push on the Patriots (-7) against the Bills.

What did we learn over the weekend? The ‘Skins are no good away from D.C.; the Jets are losing their mystique on defense; it’s not too late to jump on the Chiefs’ bandwagon and the Patriots are looking rather mortal.

Chuck’s Choices for Week 12

(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo.)

An inspired Saints "D" makes the difference

An inspired Saints “D” makes the difference

Saints (+3) over TEXANS  How do we want to look at this? The Saints have won three of their last five games, or; The Saints have lost their last two in a row. Because I’m picking New Orleans in this game, I will take option Number One. I will also point out that the one road game the Saints have won this year was at Indianapolis on artificial turf. They have lost every road game they have played this season on real grass. Fortunately for us, the Houston Texans decided to install the pseudo-turf in their stadium this season. Plus, the Texans have not played a team this year at home with the passing attack of Drew Brees (Chiefs, Bucs, Colts, Titans, Jets). Houston, you might have a problem. The Saints are off of their bye, with a new defensive coordinator. That means a lot of guys trying to impress their new boss. Saints 42, Texans 20

Buccaneers (+3) over COLTS  The Indianapolis Colts are 5-5 this season, with wins over all three of their rivals in the “murderous” AFC South, along with triumphs over Denver (with a crippled Peyton Manning) and the suddenly deflated Falcons. The Bucs are 5-5 and still believe they have a chance at the playoffs. Aside from TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is out again with a shoulder injury, Tampa Bay is one of the healthiest teams in the league right now. Here is an oddity: Despite the fact that the Buccaneers play their home games on natural turf, their two road wins have come on fast, artificial surfaces in New Orleans and Atlanta. The ESPN fantasy numbers help here too. The Colts are 22nd in the league in points allowed to opposing RBs; 23rd against QBs and 27th versus Wide Receivers. Buccaneers 35, Colts 18

Washington Redskiing

Home Sweet Home for Kirk Cousins and the Skins

REDSKINS (+2.5) over Giants  The ‘Skins played like their were playing a game of Shirts and Skins against the Panthers last week, but Carolina has made a lot of teams look silly. The poor showing actually helps in this situation, as Washington is getting points at home, where they are a different team. At 4-6 and still very much in the hunt for the top spot in the NFC East, all four wins have come at FedEx field in D.C. They have lost one game at home, 17-10 to the Dolphins in a game the Redskins were withing one play of tying up at the end of the game. Sitting atop the division is none other than the New York Giants at 5-5. There is motivation galore on the Washington side of the ball in this game and, believe it or not, they have the talent to win this one. Redskins 27, Giants 24

49ERS (+10.5) over Cardinals  Hey, call your friends, here’s a crazy one! The 49ers can play some ball at home. Like the Redskins, they save their best stuff for their fans at Levi’s Stadium, beating the Vikings, Ravens and Falcons, and putting up a good fight before losing to the Packers 17-3. They did have a clunker against the Seahawks, but they should show up in this one, with QB Blaine Gabbert finding the going much easier in San Francisco after getting beaten up in Seattle last week. Here’s another tidbit: Arizona may not be used to their role here. According to R.J. Bell at Pregame, this is only the second time they have been a double-digit favorite on the road since 1989. The Cards are a great team, but with a three-game lead in the NFC West, it will be hard for them to be interested in doing anything but escaping with a win. Cardinals 21, 49ers 17

Josh McCown

McCown is back at QB for the Browns

BROWNS (-3) over Ravens  Seriously, it is very hard to pick the Browns in any week. The Ravens, however, are so beat up that they have new players in almost all of the skill positions. Normally we would like a team with a QB playing his first game after the starter (Joe Flacco) goes down. This is not a normal time. There are lots of negatives on the Baltimore side, and lots of positives on the Cleveland side, including home field. Coach Mike Pettine has also benched Johnny Manziel–and probably gained the respect of the entire team. The better QB (Josh McCown) is now starting. Finally, there is the fact that the Ravens used to be the Browns before they were spirited away by owner Art Modell in 1996. The folks in Cleveland still remember that, and relish any opportunity to beat the tar out of the Ravens. Considering the health of the team, the new Browns have a good chance to kick them when they’re down this Monday night. I must apologize to Josh and Nick at the Dynasty Pulse Podcast. In our weekly ATS discussion, I foolishly picked the Ravens. I have changed my mind.  Browns 31, Ravens 6

Good Luck!

Follow me on Twitter: @Chuck_Pod

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Chuck’s Choices: NFL Week 11

ChargersLast Week: 3-2

Season: 28-16-1 (.636)

Using Fantasy Numbers to Enhance Your Handicapping

One of the by-products of the Fantasy Football craze is easy access to statistics that can be a great help in handicapping football winners against the Las Vegas point spread. The staff here at Chuck’s Choices uses fantasy stats many times to get an idea of how a game is going to unfold, and that is a major advantage in trying to decide which team will come out on top. It’s easy to do. Simply go to a fantasy website (my league uses ESPN Fantasy) and look up players for the week. Across the line it will give you a number (OPRK) that corresponds to the ranking of each players’ opponent for that week.

Let’s take the Dallas at Miami game this week for example. Much of the conversation has centered around the return of Tony Romo at QB for the Cowboys. To be truthful, no one knows how good–or bad–Romo will be when he steps back on the field. Will he give the team a lift, or will he be rusty and look like a player who has taken six weeks off? One thing that is evident, however, is on the other side of the ball, where the Cowboy defense ranks 31st in the NFL against running backs, and Lamar Miller has been on quite a roll for the Dolphins.

Now, I can’t guarantee that a good game by Lamar Miller is going to mean a victory for Miami. I can assume, however, that there is a good chance the Dallas defense holds true to form. Tony Romo has no control over that side of the ball. It’s not about knowing what will happen, because no one knows that for sure. It is about knowing what has a good chance of happening. In this particular case, a strong game for the RBs on Miami isn’t enough to persuade me to pick the Dolphins this week, but you get an idea of how fantasy statistics can help you in making intelligent choices in ATS winners. On to the main event…

Chuck’s Choices for Week 11

(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo.)

You like that!

You like that!

Redskins (+7) over PANTHERS  I swear to goodness that if I lose again picking against the Panthers, I will never, ever pick against them again. Let’s dive in and hold our breath. Yes, Carolina is 9-0. They are a very, very good team and deserve every accolade they have received this year. There are indications this week, however, that the Redskins have a good chance of playing this one very close. 1)Believe it or not, the 9-0 Panthers have not been as impressive at home as they have been on the road. Away from Carolina, the Cats have won four games by an average of 11.5 points. On their home field, that margin is cut to 6.8 points. 2) The Redskins defense is 6th in the league against tight ends. Cam Newton’s biggest receiving threat is TE Greg Olsen. 3) The Panthers goal is to win the game and stay unbeaten. They can stay unbeaten with a 3-point win as well as a 10-point win. 4) The Redskins are in the hunt for first in the NFC East (but, isn’t everybody?). 5) You like that! Panthers 29, Redskins 27

Jets (-3) over TEXANS  There was a time when picking the Jets as a road favorite was a sure way to a long, painful death. Then again, there was a time when you could never find the Jets as a road favorite. I have to believe, however, that if the Texans had been beaten by the Bengals last week, this line would be at least a few points higher. Therefore there is value in taking New York. As it is, the Texans come home to Houston as heroes, having ruined the Bengals perfect record. That was last week, this is now. New York Coach Todd Bowles is intent on making sure his defense gets back on track this week, and the Lone Star State is a good place to get well. The Texans, according to R.J. Bell at, have the lowest averages in the NFL in yards per rush and yards per pass, and they have not faced a defense like the Jets this year. The Green and White won’t need a lot of offense this week. Jets 17, Texans 3

Coach John Fox knows the Broncos.

Coach John Fox knows the Broncos.

BEARS (+1.5) over Broncos  This line started out with Denver installed as a 3.5-point favorite on Sunday. It was announced that Peyton Manning was injured and the line dropped to -1 on Monday. When I did my ATS spot on the Dynasty Pulse Podcast on Wednesday, the game was at pick’em. At that time, hosts Josh Johnson, Nick Wagner and I all took the Bears. I’ll admit it is dangerous, picking against a team who is starting a brand new quarterback. Any of you who read this column or listen to the podcast know that I think it is usually a good strategy to go with a team in a first start by a new quarterback. In this case I am making an exception. Chicago Coach John Fox knows new Broncos QB Brock Osweiler well, having coached him in Denver from 2011-2014. There will probably be nothing Osweiler or the Broncos do that will surprise the Bears defense in this game. Here are a few more things to consider: The Denver defense, as good as they may be, has given up 25 points per game in the last two, while Chicago’s offense has averaged 27 points per game in their last three–and two of those games were against some pretty good defenses in the Vikings and Rams. The Bears are the hot team here. Bears 27, Broncos 14

Chiefs (-3) over SAN DIEGO  Like the Chicago Bears, the Kansas City Chiefs are on a roll. After losing six games in a row, and with the “demise” of Broncos QB Peyton Manning, the Chiefs think they can catch Denver in the race for the AFC West title. They may be right. They have now won three in a row, capped by a humiliation of the Broncos last Sunday in Denver. On the Chargers’ side, they have been destroyed by injuries. The only wide receiver of any consequence who will be playing this Sunday is Stevie Johnson. Another favorite target of QB Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and his backup Ladarius Green are both probable, but less than 100 per cent. The offensive line looks like a patchwork quilt. Kansas City is 31st against wide receivers and that would be their downfall this week if San Diego had any wide receivers remaining. The Chiefs “D” is in the Top-7 in all of the other important categories. Chiefs 35, Chargers 27

Patriots Defense

The Defense makes the difference on MNF.

PATRIOTS (-7) over Bills  Perhaps the most important number to remember here is 7, which is a one-digit number. That is important because, as a single-digit favorite, New England is 28-8 in the regular season at home against the spread. If the Pats are double-digit favorites, that record goes down to 6-12 during that same period. Much has been made of the Patriots loss of WR Julian Edelman, but how many times has Bill Belichick overcome losses like that? The Bills put a scare into New England when these two teams played in Buffalo earlier in the season, coming back from a 24-point deficit, only to lose by eight. That was enough to get the Patriots attention–especially on defense. Here are a few more numbers: New England is 11-2 straight up on Monday Night Football, and 9-4 against the spread. In fantasy numbers, the Bills are 25th in the league against wide receivers. On the big stage, the Patriots impress. Patriots 42, Bills 10

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Chuck’s Choices: NFL Week 10

LV SportsbookLast Week: 3-2

Season: 25-14-1 (.641)

If any of you watch the hit CBS drama “NCIS: New Orleans,” you know that when Agent Pride (Scott Bakula) sends his crew out to investigate their current case, he will always implore them to “learn stuff” as they head out the door. In handicapping football games, as in most cases in life, it always helps to remind yourself of the same thing. Last week I learned that maybe the Dallas Cowboys are not going to win another game before Tony Romo returns from the IR.

Despite another Dallas loss, the CC staff (myself, Steve the Desert Tortoise and my 8-year old upstairs neighbor Kennedy) posted another winning week, hitting on a few underdogs who won straight up (Colts and 49ers) and having to sweat out a Vikings win over the Rams in OT. Our other loss came at the expense of the Dolphins’ debacle in Buffalo. It may be time to rethink the new-look Miami team on the heels of their coaching change. After two straight wins over relatively weak competition, they have lost two in a row on the road to a few good teams (New England and Buffalo). It will be hard to back them this week too, as they travel to Philadelphia  for their third straight road contest.

Chuck’s Choices for this week

(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo.)

Look out this week, Cam.

Look out this week, Cam.

TITANS (+5 1/2) over Panthers  It is very hard to pick against an undefeated team like Carolina. After all, they have done everything that has been asked of them in racing out to an 8-0 record in 2016. Take a look, however, at what they have been through in the past four games. They beat the Seahawks in Seattle, followed by a win at home over the Eagles, an overtime squeaker over the Colts and a hard-fought 8-point win over Green Bay. They certainly have run the gauntlet, and now must hit the road to take on a Tennessee team who seems to be finding their stride after a big win over the Saints on the road. By all rights the Panthers should win this game easily, but if ever there was a spot for Carolina to catch its breath and suffer a letdown, this is it. The Titans play hard, and might just knock the Panthers from the ranks of the unbeaten. Panthers 17, Titans 16

REDSKINS (+1) over Saints  In my weekly guest slot on the Fantasy Pulse podcast on Dynasty Football WarehouseI make picks on all of the week’s NFL games along with hosts Josh Johnson and Nick Wagner. It was on this game that I found my favorite trend of the week. The Saints have played four games on the road this year, and have lost three of them. Those three losses, at Arizona, Carolina and Philadelphia, have all been on natural turf. Their one road win was in the dome at Indianapolis on artificial turf. Drew Brees and company need a fast track to work their magic. They won’t find one in Washington, D.C. You like that!  Redskins 37, Saints 24

Blake Bortles may have a field day vs the Ravens

Bortles may have a field day vs the Ravens “D”

Jaguars (+5 1/2) over RAVENS  These teams have identical 2-6 records, and each team’s win have all been by three points. The problem is that Baltimore is favored by 5 1/2 points. There is also one more big difference. Despite only having two wins, the Jags are only two games behind the division-leading Colts. The Ravens are unfortunate enough to be in the same division with the Bengals and the Steelers, and are probably looking toward next year by now. Oh, and they have no one to catch passes from Joe Flacco. On the Jacksonville side, QB Blake Bortles may find lots of room to throw against a Ravens defense ranked 31st in the NFL against fantasy wide receivers. Jaguars 31, Ravens 21

RAIDERS (-3) over Vikings  Minnesota finds themselves in a tie for first in the NFC North with the Packers. The good thing for them is that they play Green Bay next week, and the winner of that game will be atop the division no matter what happens this week. This is a classic look-ahead game for the Vikes, and nobody wants to get hurt this week in Oakland. On the other hand, the Raiders are finding their groove and it looks like everyone is healthy, including RB Latavius Murray and WR Amari Cooper. The Silver & Black simply want it more on this given Sunday. Raiders 22, Vikings 17

KC Coach Andy Reid is 18-3 following a bye week.

KC Coach Andy Reid is 18-3 following a bye week.

Chiefs (+6) over BRONCOS  Yes, of course, all of America is expecting Denver to bounce back after suffering their first loss of the season last week in Indianapolis. How did that work out for the Packers? Think back to the first meeting this season, when the Broncos recovered a late fumble for a defensive TD and a fluke win when it appeared the teams would be going to overtime. Let us also not forget that, after losing five games in a row, Kansas City has won two in a row and is coming off of a bye and, according to R. J. Bell at, Andy Reid is 18-3 as a head coach after a bye week. The Chiefs need this game to remain in contention for a wildcard spot, so desperation plays into this contest too. Finally, we have to keep reminding ourselves that Denver is not the offensive juggernaut they used to be, and are winning games with defense this year. It is hard to give this many points with a signal-caller (Peyton Manning) who is now 30th in the league in Quarterback Rating (QBR). Broncos 21, Chiefs 20

A final note…

Steve the Desert Tortoise’s Money Line Parlay of the week: Titans and Chiefs




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Chuck’s Choices: NFL Week 9

LV SportsbookLast Week: 2-2-1

Season: 22-12-1 (.647)

When is an even score not an even score? When you’re betting games at the sports book. Last week the Chuck’s Choices gang got wins with the Chargers and Cowboys, losses on the Falcons and Titans, and a push on the Saints in that 52-49 record setter in overtime in New Orleans. Because you must lay 110 to win 100 in the Las Vegas books, winning as many as you lose means…you lose. We are still doing well for the season, hitting almost 65 per cent for the year and that keeps a smile on everyone’s faces–and groceries on the shelves.

With every setback comes a lesson, and here is what we learned from Week 8: 1)The Falcons might not be as good as they looked to start out the season. 2)It is best to stay away from the Titans until, well, next season. 3) The home-field magic may be returning for Drew Brees and the Saints.

This Week’s Choices

(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo.)


Stefon Diggs lead the Vikings against the Rams

VIKINGS (-1) over Rams  There is much talk about the Rams defense, but not many people know the Vikings rank 6th in the league against running backs in terms of Fantasy Football points. One thing the staff at CC knows is that Jeff Fisher is so intent on beating the teams in his division (Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona) that his team has a hard time winning the following week. St. Louis has already beaten the Seahawks and Cardinals this year, then lost their next game. Last week they humiliated the 49ers. Minnesota is on a roll, winning three straight, and they have the defense to neutralize the Rams running game, namely Todd Gurley.  Vikings 30, Rams 16

Dolphins (+3) over BILLS  It seems everyone has forgotten how good the Dolphins have been since changing head coaches, simply because they ran into the juggernaut called the Patriots a week ago. Miami was the darling of the football world after two convincing wins under new Coach Dan Campbell. Now they take on a Buffalo team who has lost 3 of their last 4 games. Look for the Dolphins to get back on track in an important contest to see who keeps within spitting distance in the AFC East. Dolphins 24, Bills 22

Is Gabbert the answer in SF?

Is Gabbert the answer in SF?

49ERS (+7) over Falcons  This is crazy. After all, the Niners are one of the worst teams in the NFL. They are benching quarterback Colin Kaepernick in favor of journeyman Blaine Gabbert, RB Carlos Hyde is gimpy with a stress-fracture, RB Reggie Bush is out with a knee injury and they just traded their tight end to the Broncos! I believe the bettors are only looking at how bad the 49ers are, and forgetting that this Atlanta team has just lost 2 of their last 3 games, and had to sweat out a win over the Titans to avoid losing three straight. Now they must travel across country to take on a San Francisco team who has the ability to play over their heads on their home field. It’ll be tough for the Falcons. Falcons 19, 49ers 17

COLTS (+5.5) over Broncos  There is, often times, an over-reaction to one game–especially if it is the biggest game of the week on prime-time television. Such is the case with the Denver Broncos. They rolled over the Packers at Mile High Stadium and, like magic, Peyton Manning is 25 years old again? Remember what Denver was before last week’s game: a team dependent on defense, with an offense just good enough to get the job done. Remember also that the Broncos have not been exactly stellar on the road this year, getting a gift fumble to win in Kansas City; leading by only two points before winning by 10 in Detroit; getting a Pick-6 to beat the Raiders, and then eking out an overtime win in Cleveland. Now they hit the road after one of their biggest wins ever to prepare for a Colts team which doesn’t seem to present much of a challenge. It is truly hard to do. The coaching shakeup  in Indy might inject some energy into a lethargic, but division-leading Colts team on their home field. They might win this outright. Colts 25, Broncos 20

Dez is back in Big D.

Dez is back in Big D.

COWBOYS (+3) over Eagles  Sometimes the trends guide you, and R. J. Bell at Pregame has pushed me over the edge on the side of the Cowboys this week. According to Bell, Dallas is 29-13 against the spread (ATS) as a home underdog, and the underdog in the Dallas/Philadelphia series is 26-8 ATS. This is a double-whammy for the ‘Boys, and it only helps that Dez Bryant is another week healthier. This is Dallas’ last game before Tony Romo comes back, and they are desperate to keep themselves in the NFC East race for his return. Sam Bradford has thrown one TD and three interceptions in his last two games. Dallas will do it on defense this week. Cowboys 17, Eagles 10.

Follow me on Twitter: @Chuck_Pod



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