I’m not typically one to toot my own horn, but I think my performance last week deserves some tooting. I gave out eight picks across three different posts and only had one loss. For those of you who don’t like mental math, that’s seven winners, bringing my season record to 10-7. I’m not asking for a raise, but if my editor could pass the word along to whoever’s in charge of that decision, I certainly won’t turn down more money. It’s not time-sensitive but all this bragging is definitely leading to an 0-3 week, so hurry. Okay, that’s enough talking about how great I am. Before we get to this week’s picks, let’s take a quick look at my picks from last week and talk about how great I am.
Packers -4.0 1st Half: This was incredibly close to a bad beat. The Steelers blocked a field goal to end the half and ran it back for a touchdown. It was called back for offsides and Green Bay got another crack at it, but honestly, the call was suspect and this could have easily become a losing pick. I guess that’s why they call it gambling.
Browns/Vikings under 26.0 1st Half: Stress-free winner here. This game was admittedly WAY lower-scoring than I expected, but I hit the nail on the head with the long, clock-draining drives. First-half unders are quickly becoming my bread and butter.
Lions/Bears under 21.0 1st Half: This is another one that definitely could have lost. The Lions made three trips inside the Bears’ ten-yard line that didn’t end with points. Looking back on it, this week could have gone from 3-0 to 1-2 in the blink of an eye. A win is a win is a win though so I won’t be complaining about any of these.
Now, let’s get to some picks.
Packers @ Bengals First Half O/U
As I said in the intro, first-half totals are quickly becoming my bread and butter. I should start calling these articles “Texas Roadhouse Props” or something like that; come for the bread and butter and everything else is just a bonus. Anyways, I’m going back to another first-half under. On the surface, you look at these two teams and might think they’re two good offenses that will score a lot of points, but the Packers have had slow starts to games and the Bengals are yet to hit 30 points in a game. The defenses have also been surprisingly not terrible either, especially in the first half. Cincinnati is allowing about nine first-half points a game while Green Bay allows about 13. The Packers also added linebacker Jaylon Smith, who hasn’t hit the bar he set back in 2018, but there’s a chance he’s rejuvenated in Green Bay.
At this point, I think a bot could probably write these picks for me. That’s right, we’re talking pace again. The Bengals are the second slowest team in the league, they’ll huddle up every play and take their time snapping the ball. The Packers come in at seventh slowest as well. Like I say every week, these two teams will sustain possessions, get first downs, and drain the clock; especially in neutral situations where they don’t need to put points on the board early. Lastly, neither team is overly pass-heavy on offense, with Green Bay in the middle of the league and Cincinnati actually towards the bottom, only passing on 53% of plays. Eventually, I’ll get burned by going under on first halves, but I’m gonna keep eating the bread until I get cut off and have to order an actual meal, and by that I mean bet something else.
Pick: UNDER 25.5 First Half Points (-110, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Total
Tampa Bay is coming off a slugfest with the Patriots on Sunday night where they squeaked out a win. Tom Brady and the Tampa offense struggled, but it was pouring rain and the Patriots have a strong defense. Aside from last week, the Bucs offense has been firing on all cylinders, scoring at least 30 points in each of their first three games. The Patriots were able to slow the Bucs by using a lot of different looks on defense, but it’s not like the book is out on how to stop them. Antonio Brown even dropped a touchdown that would have added at least another six points to the total.
Miami has allowed 27.2 points per game this season, including a game where they only gave up 16 points against the ultra-conservative Patriots’ offense. Part of the problem for the Dolphins this year is how many “explosive plays” they give up, especially through the air. 13% of passing plays the Dolphins have faced this year have gone for 20 or more yards, while the Bucs have had passes of over 20 yards on 12% of their passing plays. Combine those two stats with Tom Brady’s high average depth of target, and that’s a recipe for putting points on the board. The Dolphins haven’t been great in the red zone either, allowing touchdowns on 62.5% of red zone possessions. And of course, it wouldn’t be Jake Roy pick if I didn’t mention pace. We’ve got two fast-paced teams here; more plays should translate to more possessions, and more possessions should equal more points.
Pick: OVER 29.5 Points (-120, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Colts @ Ravens First Half Spread
We head to Monday Night Football for our last pick of the week with the Colts traveling to Baltimore to play the Ravens. Coming into this year I had the take that the Ravens were like the Philadelphia 76ers, in that they bring back the same core team every year, and never win a championship because of it. I guess you compare them to the modern-day Yankees as well. Now, I’m all in on the Ravens. All of a sudden, they’re passing the ball more than ever with great success as Lamar Jackson is making a case for another MVP. Now, I’m super high on the Ravens and think they really could win a title.
Aside from me changing my opinion on my own stupid comparison, I like the Ravens in this game for a few reasons. As I said, Lamar Jackson is playing great football with both his arm and his legs. The Colts’ secondary has been shaky all year, allowing explosive plays on 11% of passes, while the Ravens have a higher percentage of explosive passes than any team in the league. Teams have been daring the Ravens to beat them through the air and it isn’t working. The Colts also could be in trouble on offense. Quenton Nelson was placed on IR last week, adding another hole to a unit already ranked last in pass blocking according to ProFootballFocus. The Ravens’ defensive line has been strong so far, generating 2.5 sacks per game. Not to mention Carson Wentz has two sprained ankles which may make it difficult for him to extend plays and be successful against pressure.
Pick: Ravens -4.5 First Half (-115, DraftKings Sportsbook)
The Turkish Grand Prix (Formula 1) is this Sunday morning at 8 ET. Lewis Hamilton will be starting in last place due to a penalty related to car repairs, I won’t bore you with the details. Hamilton is typically contending for the victory and very well could this week, but traffic on the track will make it difficult for him to work his way up to first place. At the time of writing this, Max Verstappen is the favorite to win at -125. He desperately could use a win to help in his fight for his first career World Driver Championship. With Hamilton starting from the back of the grid, if Verstappen wins qualifying, there’s a good chance he builds a gap too big for Hamilton to overcome even if he can get towards the front of the pack. If you’re looking for an appetizer for the Sunday NFL slate, turn on ESPN2 at 8 a.m. and watch the madness.
The Pick: Max Verstappen to win the Turkish Grand Prix (-125, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Featured Image by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)