Just a quick overview of what is to follow. I will be doing a SMOTE (Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under, Trends, Evaluation) for all 4 games that are featured this week, the Saturday games will be one post and the Sunday another. I will go over why I feel a certain way about each of the first three and then include some trends that may be relevant. The reason the acronym is SMOTE is because you will all be smitten with me after these picks.
Going forward I will track all my picks for the year and by sport (football won’t last forever).
(All lines are provided by Bovada.lv as of 1/6/17)
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans 4:35 p.m. ET on ESPN/ABC
SPREAD: Raiders +4
Originally I was writing this blurb about how I felt that the Texas at -4 were the pick, and by the end of that writing I completely flipped and am now on the Raiders train…tentatively. I will not be touching the spread of this game with a 40 foot pole except maybe in a teaser that gets the Raiders to about +11. Look, having a full field goal advantage for the Raiders (them being able to lost by 3 and you still win) is great. What is not so great is them starting a 3rd string QB in his first career start. Don’t just don’t, but if you must go with the Raiders.
If Houston loses this game they should automatically be disallowed from next year’s playoffs. I feel so bad for the Raiders, but pity doesn’t win stacks.
Over/Under: Under 37
HIT THE UNDER. Rookie QB making his first start, Assweiler… enough said. Trends will further cement this pick.
Directly from Oddsshark “the Texans have gone UNDER in nine of their last 12 home games. Houston scored 20 or fewer points 10 times this season and the McGloin/Cook QB combo for the Raiders was only able to lead the team to six points in Week 17.” I don’t see this game having more than 30 COMBINED points.
Throw out all of the Raiders trends, with the QB situation they have you are better off having a goldfish make the pick for you (shout out to Larry from PMT).
Houston is 18-2 in their last 20 as a favorite, 1-6 ATS in their last 7, Under in 9 of 12 Texans home games as well as the under hitting in 5 of their last 6.
The weather will be a non-factor in this one.
Look this game is crap. It will feature two back up quarterbacks in Connor Cook and Brock ‘Assweiler’ Osweiler (don’t @ me about Brock Osweiler, that dude ain’t an NFL starter). The Raiders must be completely broken after seeing their dreams crumble on the right leg of their best player not named Khalil (Mack). The Texans who play in the AFC South, aka the NFL’s equivalent to AAA. To make matters worse for the Raiders are missing their stud left tackle making their game plan of keeping the ball on the ground that much more difficult. Cook is making his first start against a solid D, and while the Raider’s D is no juggernaut the Texans O is a cream puff incapable of pretty much everything. Expect a defensive struggle and even with the under being so low take it and run. If at all possible throw that under in a teaser and feel your pockets get lined.
Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks 8:15 p.m. ET on NBC
Spread: Lions +8
I don’t foresee this as a high scoring game. The Seahawks are completely one dimensional and that one dimension isn’t all that great. Look, I like Russel Wilson but I am not scared by his receiving core and with a crap OL and nonexistent running game the Lions will be waiting for him. In 3 of their last 5 match-ups they score has been within 5 points, the other two being retaliative blowouts by the Seahawks.
They are great at home, 7-1 this year to be exact. As dumb as the nickname is the 12’s will be disrupting Stafford and his offense all game. The Seahawks defense averages 17 points allowed per game at home and while the loss of Earl Thomas is huge the Lions don’t have the scary speed threats that can take the top off this defense consistently (something they will need to do considering their own lack of a running game).
Over/Under: Over 44
I don’t know. The Seahawks have been trending over with 4 of their last 5 going as such. The Lions are the opposite with the under hitting in 8 of their last 10. The Seahawks have a good to great defense and the Lions have a pretty good D. Both teams are missing their top running threats and are one dimensional offensively making scoring seem difficult on the surface. The o/u is 44 and the Seahawks have been under that mark in only 6 games this season, while the Lions are 8-8 by the same metric. Vegas did a good job on this one, but if you must take the over, I just got a feeling.
Detroit has been terrible ATS in their last 5 at 1-4 and 2-5 on the road in their last 7. They have hit the over in 4 of 6 verses the Seahawks, but that is a little bit of a loaded stat as they haven’t played much recently (2015, 2012, 2009, 2006, 2003, 1999).
Seattle has also been bad recently ATS at 2-4. The over has been hit in 4 of their last 5 and 5 of their last 7. They don’t play much vs. the Lions but in their two most recent match-ups each has won a game with the total point differential being +1 Lions.
A quick look at their schedule tells me that the Lions beat (IND, PHI, LA, WAS, MIN, JAC, MIN, NO, CHI) who they are supposed to and lost to who they are supposed to (GB, HOU, NYG, DAL, GB) with two outlying loses to the Bears and arguably the Titans. They don’t beat good teams and despite all of their inconsistency the Seahawks are a good team. Like many of their recent games, I expect this game to be a close one that will come down to the 4th quarter where, admittedly, Stafford seems to glow. Really, the Lions are a middle of the Road team that got a lucky schedule and did just enough to get this far, but this will be it for them.
OAK @ HOU: Raiders +4, Houston to win, Under 37
DET @ SEA: Lions +8, Seahawks to win, Over 44
MIA @ PIT: Steelers -10.5, Steelers to win, Over 46
NYG @ GB: Packers -5, Packers to win, Over 44.5
Keep an eye out late tonight or mid-day tomorrow for my Sunday picks.