Today's Free Picks for
Posted Thursday, November 28 at 11:15 AM EST
What you see below is our early leans. Many of the selections below will stay the same and some will be moved into official plays with wagers on Sunday. However, there is also the possibility that we see, read or get a sense that something is not right with one of our selections and change our pick. There are several different criterion we use to grade a game and make it an official play and a lot of things can happen or change between Friday and Sunday.
We’re intent on providing our readers with the best possible selections and doing so on Sunday instead of Friday just makes more sense. We made that change last year and ended up going 81-57. Again, we’ll have all write-ups (except Monday Night Football) posted on Friday but our actual wagers won’t be posted until Sunday morning between 10 AM and 12:00 PM EST.
Oakland +10 -105 over KANSAS CITY
4:25 PM EST. Last week, the Raiders headed to the East Coast to square off with the New York Jets and left many wondering if the Raiders were still in Oakland when that game kicked off. Closing as a 3½-point favorite, the “Nation” attracted plenty of interest, as they came into their clash with Gang Green riding a three-game winning streak. However, Oakland not only failed to cover but they were absolutely obliterated by the Jets who easily put together their most impressive win of the 2019 season when they routed the Raiders 34-3. Market presence and credibility are two things we stress adamantly. The result of Oakland’s massive egg has evaporated whatever credibility the Black and Grey held coming into their match with the Jets. Remember, this was the same Jets’ squad that was Miami’s first win of the season. Moreover, New York had won just three games on the year previous to the blowout victory over Oakland, two of which came against bottom-feeders such as the Giants and Redskins.
On the flip-side, Kansas City’s reputation speaks for itself and by default, the Chiefs brings with them an enhanced market presence that sets them up for an overlay in most scenarios. This is especially the case as we get closer to the postseason. The Chiefs were last in action two weeks ago on a Monday Night stint against divisional rival, Los Angeles. The “Kingdom” would march into the City of Angels and defeat the Bolts 24-17, producing a cover for their backers as a 5½-point choice. When you couple that positive last impression that the Chiefs left with its backers (although they should’ve lost by three TD’s against the Chargers) combined with their overall dominance against Oakland both straight-up (9-1 SU in the last 10 matches) and against the spread (7-3 ATS in the previous 10 contests), it becomes clear where the premium to get behind a team will be. Kansas City laying double-digits to these guests is a clear-cut symptom of an overreaction. It is clear that Oakland had no interest in the Jets and were thinking ahead to this game. Adhering to our philosophies in fading such events along with buying low and selling high, the variables prompt us to take a hard look at Oakland, who is almost certainly working with inflated points.
CINCINNATI +3 -106 over N.Y. Jets
1:00 PM EST. The Jets might be the hottest team in the league after posting three straight double-digit wins. That run of success now has Gang Green spotting points on the road in Cincinnati, which is a much different role than they one they were in over the last few weeks when they were a pooch to Giants, Redskins and Raiders, respectively. Two of those three teams are among the worst to suit up in the NFL this season, but that win over Oakland may have given the Jets some legitimacy in this market, however, don't get caught up in the playoff chatter this team is generating this week. That 34-3 win over the Raiders made the back pages in The Big Apple, but quarterback Sam Darnold's exploits after the game were far more publicized on Page Six. We'll leave the more delicate details of the evening for the gossip columns, but there is no denying that the second-year quarterback and a few teammates were out celebrating with a bit of the bubbly. One source said it was like, "They'd just won the Super Bowl," which is pretty hilarious when you consider the Jets started the season 1-7 with Darnold missing multiple games with mono. It appears he's feeling better. There is no doubt the Jets' stock is soaring, while the Bengals continue to sink into the abyss. It’s also worth noting that Oakland has K.C. this week, which means they could have been caught looking ahead last week when they flew across the country for an early game.
Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor tried to rid himself of one Andrew Gregory Dalton, but that cat came back. Dalton is set to start this week for the Bengals and Taylor said, “It was not an easy decision, but it's in the best interest of the football team." Regardless of who suits up for the winless Bungles, we doubt there will be much interest in a team that had cashed three tickets this season and just one in the last five games. There is no X's and O's case that can be made to get behind the Bengals, but we're not in that business, nor are we interested in predicting the outcomes of these games. What we will do is look for teams that are spotting more points than the should be and this week, the Jets fit that bill. No team wants to go winless and the Bungles just might be inspired to play hard now that their quarterback will be able to throw the ball five yards. We know at least one Bengal that will be highly motivated to get his job back. Can Cincy get off the schneid? Damn right, it can.
MIAMI +10 -110 over Philadelphia
1:00 PM EST. We suspect what little goodwill the Dolphins built up after two straight victories, including a road win in Indianapolis as an 11-point underdog, is long gone after back-to back drubbings by both the Bills (37-20) and Browns (41-24). Just two weeks ago, the Fish were taking back a measly converted touchdown at home to a quality Buffalo outfit and now they are getting double-digits to a battered and beaten Eagles side that was booed off their home field last Sunday. Something here doesn't add up.
The Eagles entered that game against the Seahawks down wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor. A pair of Pro Bowl offensive lineman in Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks and they were without lead runner Jordan Howard. Jeffrey and Agholor were back at practice Wednesday, as was Johnson, but he is still in the league's concussion protocol and has not been cleared to play. Meanwhile, tight end Zach Ertz was absent from Wednesday’s practice because of a sore hamstring. Finally, Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz is dealing with a bruised throwing hand, which he dinged up on a muffed handoff to backup running back Miles Sanders in the third quarter of that ugly 17-9 loss to Seattle. We believe the "next man up" philosophy more than most, but stepping up and winning a game is much different than being asked to cover an inflated number on the road against uninspiring non-conference competition. If the Eagles get a few bodies back, this line will likely go up. Also factor in the fact that Philadelphia will host the Giants on Monday Night Football next week and you have the perfect recipe for a "look ahead" situation. Hold your nose and take these foul Fish. We hate this game and won’t spend much time on it.
DENVER +3 -103 over L.A. Chargers
4:25 PM EST. We've read that this is a "must-win" for the Chargers, as the Broncos have already been eliminated from playoff contention at 3-8. However, the Bolts are 4-7 and despite their still being alive mathematically, we're going to go ahead and take Philip Rivers behind the barn and mercifully end this season. Tom Brady thinks Philip got old this season, as the 38-year-old pivot looks like he's 58 after throwing 15 interceptions to just 14 majors. Sure, he's passed for 3000 yards for the 14th straight season, but many of those yards have come with the Chargers trailing and are not an indication that Rivers still has "it." Trust us when we tell you he doesn't. The only reason Philip is still starting in lieu of Tyrod Taylor is because he's currently the NFL ironman at quarterback with 219 straight starts, which is the second-longest behind Brett Favre's 297. Philip Rivers is Jameis Winston now only worse because Winston can run. Rivers is an immobile QB that puts up the same stats as Winston only without the running yards. It’s the same crap week after week…..28 out for 42 for 397 yards and four picks. 380 yards, 3 picks, 270 yards, 3 picks. Dude is going to turn it over and while we cannot predict turnovers, in this case it would be unreasonable not to expect at least two on the road against a ferocious defense.
With the visiting team’s QB’s time at the helm is coming to an end, the Broncos might be ready to welcome the future here in Week 13. Second-round draft pick Drew Lock is practicing after suffering a thumb injury back in the preseason. Lock is still a game-time decision, but he's going to be the QB for the Broncs sooner rather than later. Lock was a stud at Missouri and he brings an absolute cannon for an arm to the battlefield. Lock's best season at Mizzou was actually his junior year in 2017 and had he declared then; he may have been a first-round draft pick in a loaded class that included Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. Instead, he returned to the Tigers but failed to match the big-time numbers he posted the season prior. That decision no doubt lowered his draft stock, but the Broncos may have gotten a real deal. With many of his contemporaries from the 2018 draft all starting, is it unreasonable to suggest that Lock can step in a make a difference here late in the season? The Broncs are playing for next year, no doubt, but there is no reason not to take Lock for a test drive and put his highly touted fastball to work. Even if Lock doesn't get the nod, this incarnation of the Chargers should not be spotting road points inside the division "must-win" or not.
That said, we're very likely passing on the Broncs because there are too many unknowns for us to get involved. Four starters on the defensive side of the ball are listed as questionable. Duke Dawson and Shelby Harris could miss the contest, while Vic Fangio said on Friday that both Von Miller and Alexander Johnson are 50-50 bets to play. What makes this an even bigger deal is backup linebacker Josey Jewell is also hurt and could sit. With Denver clearly playing for next year, caution must be the approach regarding the core players. If there’s any chance Von could do further damage to his knee by playing through the pain, it’s probably best for both he and the Broncos to shut him down. Even if you’re riding the “Trade-Miller” train, it doesn’t make sense to watch him blow up his knee and destroy any potential value he’d have on the market. Denver's pass rush could be non-existent today and that would be a massive reason to not get behind them. There are better games.
INDIANAPOLIS -2 -104 over Tennessee
1:00 PM EST. A closer look at the last three weeks just might give us some insight as to who the undervalued squad is in this tight race between two of the three teams duking it out in the AFC South. The Texans have a one-game lead over both the Titans and Colts, but they’ve got a tough game with the Patriots on Sunday Night Football. A loss and this division race will be blown wide open. Now back to the two 6-5 teams in question. First, let’s look at the suddenly surging Titans, who are racking up a ton of points after posting a combined 77 in back-to-back wins over the Chiefs and Jags. The victory over Kansas City really pads the résumé, but if you watched any of that game, you know that Tennessee got the break of all breaks after K.C. botched a field goal attempt and instead of going up by eight and getting the fuck out of Dodge, the Chiefs lost all momentum. The Titans marched down the field for the game-winning touchdown and credit one must credit them for doing so, but had that kick been made, at best, they would have been in position to tie it up with a 2-point conversion. That victory is going to hold much more weight than the Titans 42-20 downing of Jacksonville, but those big points certainly give the Titans more curb appeal for wagerers looking for a play.
When you lose to the lowly Dolphins, it’s going to take a lot more than beating up on Jacksonville to get your credibility back. Nevermind that the Colts had to play Brian Hoyer at quarterback or that he was without T.Y. Hilton, when you drop a game outright as 11-point chalk, this market is not going to be very forgiving. Much will be made this week, as the Colts I.R. is still loaded with pass-catching tight end Eric Ebron joining Hilton, along with starting running back Marlon Mack and a few key members of the defense on the sidelines this week. Those injuries and the recent run of success by the Titans is likely why this number has dropped since opening at -3 in favor of the Blue Horseshoe. If that number continues to come down, this game might make our board, but there appears to be more appealing options to choose from this week.
HOUSTON +3½ -105 over New England
8:20 PM EST. The Patriots record is now 10-1. Forgotten quickly is the pounding the Pats took from the Ravens four weeks ago because they had a bye the the very next week and then they went out and beat Philadelphia and subsequently Dallas last week in the driving rain. At 10-1 and coming off three high profile games in a row, the Patriots will now play their fourth high profile game in a row.
Give the Patriots credit for doing what it takes to win games and also give the refs credit for aiding the Patriots by calling penalties on things that aren’t even there. It’s one thing to miss a call, that happens to every referee in every sport, but to make up stuff that didn’t happen gives the league and its officials a bad look. In New England’s win over Dallas last week, the Cowboys were called for tripping twice.
The NFL informed the Dallas Cowboys on Monday that the two controversial tripping calls against left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick should not have been called. Both penalties proved to be critical drive killers. Smith’s came in the first quarter and turned a second-and 13 into a second-and-23. The Patriots blocked a punt two plays later, which quarterback Tom Brady turned into the only touchdown of the game. The Frederick penalty negated a first down catch by Ezekiel Elliott as the Cowboys were driving for a potential go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. It’s been 10 years since two tripping calls happened in the same game to the same team but the ones last Sunday didn’t even happen! The refs made up something in their minds and it’s getting out of hand already. Although this editorial has nothing to do with this game v the Texans, it just might because all eyes will be on the refs again in this prime time game and perhaps New England won’t get every call. Perhaps, just perhaps, the Texans in their own crib will get a call or two.
We saw Lamar Jackson rip apart the Patriots “great defense” and Deshaun Watson plays a similar style. We’re seeing New England win every week but it’s been by slim margins lately against weak opponents. The Pats also have not played against a winning record while on the road other than their loss to the Ravens. Furthermore, the Patriots have the visiting Chiefs next week to keep their No. 1 seed and that could take away focus from this game. Finally, New England has a flu bug going around. Eight players missed practice on Wednesday and even if they all recover, it’s still an exhausting sport that is difficult to play at a high level every week when one is healthy. It takes at least a day or two to get one’s strength back after battling a flu bug. With K.C. on deck and with this being the Pats fourth high profile game in a row, all the Texans have to do is come in and not play stupid and then the Patriots become very beatable. Houston isn’t exactly built to beat New England but what they have done over the years is put up points against them and should they do that here, New England cannot go punch for punch with them anymore.
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Early leans & analysis (Risking 0 units - To Win: 0.00)