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*This is the transcript of our Handicapping group wager chat on our Blazing Five. Taking it as it is, so forgive any typos, etc. It's just casual opinions shared. Also we may veer way off topic, but that's half the fun of it.
-- The team is back, The Impractical Gamblers, Season Two : Katz, Rabbitt, Skolman (defending champion), Savage and RC. Enjoy!... --
I was looking back at last season before publishing this -- Colin Cowherd beat everyone from our group in 2016. He beat Skolman by one win and me by two. This year, all five us are taking him down. Here we go...
COLIN COWHERD'S PICKS: GB, DET, BAL, PHI, SF
TEN -2 over OAK
I could not be more in on Marcus Mariota and the Titans this year. I could not be more out on the Raiders defense. This is going to be a high scoring game. The Titans are my dark horse Super Bowl pick. I think they win 10+ games and take the division. This is their home opener. They have a bunch of new weapons. This one could be back and forth for a bit, but ultimately I think the Titans have too much firepower.
WAS +1 over PHI
Why the hell is Philly favored here? Better QB: Cousins. Better WRs: Pryor and Crowder. Better TE: Reed. Better RB: Sadly, Rob Kelley because LeGarrette Blount is complete trash. Better coach: Jay Gruden. Home team: Redskins. I don’t really think this game will be that close either.
LAR -3.5 over IND
Scott Tolzien on the road. Not happening. Also the Colts are without Vontae Davis and Todd Gurley might run for 200 yards. This game will make the Rams look way better than they are.
GB -3 over SEA
Aaron Rodgers at home facing an overrated Seahawks defense. Need I say more?
NO +3 over MIN
The Saints are winning this game. I’ve heard a few pundits talking about the Vikings in a positive manner. Bad o line. Same old Sam Bradford. I love Thielen and Diggs and do think they will produce, but the Vikings will need to score with Drew Brees. Unlikely.
Rabbitt: Nothing like the opening week of NFL betting. Most of the time I tend to be pretty right on my early bets, and then as vegas gets a better handle on what is going on in the NFL, I tend to lose a lot more. Lets see if I can get out to a 5-0 start!
#5 NO +3 over MIN
Can I get an over/under on how many checkdowns Bradford throws on third and long? Honestly before they drafted Dalvin Cook I was getting behind what Min could do. Great defense + big ole' back that could put you in manageable second and third downs. Now I see a lot of 3rd and 7s in Sam Bradfords future. Those 3rd and 7s will be come 4th and 3's in a hurry. Brees is going to have way too many chances to carve these guys up.
#4 Dal -4 over NYG
I don't think ODBJ is playing. If he doesn't he almost certainly won't be "right". Zeke will be running angry, and out to get a thousand yards in one game. The whole team will have a "us against the world" mentality, and believe me they know the giants beat them twice last year.
#3 Was +1 over Phi:
Philly has done everything I imagine a bad team would do. Signed perpetually fat and injured WR Alshon Jeffery to pair with perpetually not interested deep threat Torrey Smith. Send off your best WR and security blanket for your terrible QB in Jordan Matthews. Sign a RB who ONLY the Patriots could figure how to use. Roll out your terrible offense vs an under rated Washington defense. Vs an offense loaded with scoring potential? I don't know what the argument for a philly win here is.
#2 Ten -2.5 over Oak:Oakland burned me a ton last year, because I thought they were paper tigers.They were, and still are. One of the worst defenses in the NFL is going to be absolutely chewed up by the emerging Titans powerhouse. This one is a HUGE win by the Titans.
Best bet: LAR -3 over IND:
I would imagine this is almost everyone's best bet. I mean seriously, Scott Tolzien vs what should be a vicious rams defense should be enough on it's own. I am guessing this line moves a ton the other way by the weekend.
ATL at CHI +7.0 Atl -7 *Best Bet* - I'm not sure why I'm stubbornly ramming a round peg into a square hole with this road favorite. I promise to behave after this bet. I know some of it has to do with the Bears being a best bet for some many on various podcasts and articles. I don't see a scrappy Bears team coming into this game, I see a poor group with key injuries and no WRs. Love the real life line dropping to 6.5 here.
JAX at HOU -5.5 JAX +5.5 - I love the Jax defense and I'm rolling with the idea that having Fournette brings some energy to the offense. Hide Bortles and let the D / Special Team get the job done. Played two close games last season.
OAK at TEN -2.0 TEN -2.0 - Oakland's defense is so bad, who knows what M.Lynch has in the tank and the Titans have revenge from last years late game loss vs the Raiders. Cross country trip might not be a huge deal in week 1 but the Raiders are waking up earlier than usual so that can't help.
IND at LAR -3.5 LAR -3.5 - My first reaction was to balk at a team as below average as the Rams being favored by more than a FG but then I stress test what it would take for me to be on the Colts. Probably 10.5.
NYG at DAL -4.0 NYG +4 - Need to take some points this week and what better place to do it than getting the better defense in a divisional matchup that routinely play close games. Here's to hoping if Dallas gets over the hump they do it with a late FG.
Lions +2 (Best Bet) - This is the only game I've put real money on so far. The Lions opened as 2.5 pt favorites. It swung all the way to +2.5 after week 3 of the preseason, when the Cards dominated Atlanta 17-3 in the first half and the Lions got rocked by the Patriots. The Cards performance was impressive on the surface, but then I read that they game-planned specifically for that week 3 matchup while the Falcons more or less treated it as the meaningless game it was. As for the Lions week 3 dud, they lost to a superior team. All that to say, this line shouldn't have moved. These teams are not that different in terms of overall talent. To the average fan, the Cardinals still have this darkhorse Super Bowl contender mystique, but I'd go as far as to say the Lions might they have the better overall roster. The Lions are 17-7 at home in the Stafford/Caldwell/Cooter era. I'll take a 70% win percentage against an average team like Arizona.
Seahawks +3 - This may be my Packer fan pessimism, but I don't like the vibe I'm getting from them right now. Bryan Bulaga is likely to play, but he'll be trying to block Michael Bennett on a bad ankle. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are already banged up. If any of these guys aren't 100% they don't have the depth on the O-line or defensive front 7 to deal with it. I think the Packers will have a hard time with the Seahawks pass rush, now featuring a probably more motivated Sheldon Richardson, and won't be able to get to pressure on a fully healthy Russell Wilson. If that's the case, its another game of "Aaron Rodgers against the world". I don't like to bet against him, but the time to do it is usually early in the season while the offense is still getting in sync.
Titans -2 - Tough start for the Raiders having to travel east for an early game. There's a ton of public love for the Raiders because everyone won money on them last year and now they have Marshawn Lynch. Unfortunately, their defense is bad and Lynch probably isn't in shape quite yet. I think Mariota moves the ball at will and wins a 38-28 type game.
Bears +7 - I was very surprised at how much Skolman loved this game given that it has all the makings of the traditional home dog upset. Most weeks it would've been enough to change my mind, but there just isn't enough that I like this week. Looking at the Falcons road performances last year, the schedule did them a lot of favors. I think the Bears defense is good enough to keep them in the 20's, which means they can stay in the game. Added bonus is the possibility of Trubisky leading a 2nd half back door cover if Glennon struggles.
Browns +9 - I hate to do this. The logic is very similar to the Bears pick - the public loves the huge road favorite despite the fact that they're much worse on the road. The Steelers offense averaged only 21.6 PPG on the road last year, including only 24 pts last year in Cleveland. The Browns have an improved and talented defense, a very good offensive line, and a fully healthy Corey Coleman.
@DET (+2.0) over ARI
Again, I cannot believe the Lions, at home, are getting points to Arizona. I'm not saying the Lions are a lock, but just the general flow of things…how do you not take the home favorite that just had a better 2016 regular season and 2017 offseason than the other team? I don't get it. The Lions don’t have the illustrious 'The HoneyBadger' (yucckkk), so that may be the problem.
@TEN (-2.5) over OAK
Oakland looks like they're trying to have the worst defense in football. Tennessee is the better team, and better at QB. Tennessee's defense is plausible and the Raiders' is not.
Tennessee was 7-3 in Mariota's last 10 games he played full/healthy (before he got hurt and they lost at JAC Week 16). During their 10-game spurt they beat three playoff teams – at MIA, GB, at KC. The Titans are improved since 2016 and Oakland is not – the Titans are a sleeping giant and get a strong win at home here.
PIT (-9.0) over @CLE *BEST BET
Cleveland has lost Joe Haden and Myles Garrett in the past week or so. They've also lost their minds starting DeShone Kizer.
The Steelers added Joe Haden and Vance McDonald the past week or so.
The strong get stronger and the Steelers-Cowboys Super Bowl starts right here with a blowout win.
My best bet and survivor pool pick of the week.
@ LAR (-3.0) over IND
I bet this at +3.0 weeks ago. I'd do it again at -3.0. The Colts are all kinds of banged up and the Rams will look fit right away – they are itching for a statement game with the new coaches…it's coming here. Nearly my best bet and nearly my survivor pick.
NO (+3.0) over @MIN
I think the Saints defense is the deep sleeper of the week, as is Ted Ginn. The Vikings are inept on offense and the Saints are good enough on offense vs. a tough Vikings defense. I just believe Mike Zimmer has sucked the life out of this team. The Vikes started 5-0 and finished 3-8 with wins over only bad teams down the stretch. The Vikings are a good football collection coached poorly a la Jeff Fisher/Rams circa 2014-2016.