The Black Cat – Winning NFL Picks against the Spread

Welcome to the 2023-2024 Black Cat NFL Picks

2006: 58%
2007: 58%
2008: 62%
2009: 49%
2010: 60%
2011: 53%
2012: 43%
2013: 52%
2014: 45%
2015: 60% Hilton Contest Winner w/ 65%
2016: 45%
2017: 48%
2018: 55%
2019: 47%
2020: 49% (57% dogs)
2021: 50% (54% dogs)
2022: 50%

Week 2: 3-4 (9 – 13 Stars)
Week 3: 6-5 (15 – 15 Stars)
Week 4: 4-4 (9-10)
Week 5: 3-4 (9-12)
Week 6: 2-6 (8-18)
Week 7: 2-3 (7-8)
Week 8: 3-3-2 (9.5-12.5-5)
Week 9: 6-4 60% (15-11 58%)
Week 10: 3-2-1 60% (9-6 60%)
Week 11: 4-3-1 57% (13.5-6.5 67%)
Week 12: 6-1 86% (14-3 82%)

November Winning Streak: 19-10-2 (66%) Units 51.5-26.5 (66%)

Overall: 42-39-4 (118 – 115 Stars)

Favorites: 13-10-3
Underdogs: 17-19
Over/Unders: 12-10-1

For posting notices: Threads @blackcatnfl

Week 13

86. SF -3 Philadelphia (2.5 Stars) O/U 47.5
49ers 28, Eagles 23
I favor SF’s defense – the best in the business – and rate their offenses equal. I believe SF will be extremely motivated after what we saw last year in the championship. About the only thing that would make you lean Philadelphia is home field advantage in a major game. I like SF to win turnovers and ypp. I’m pushing this a bit because the line is pretty solid, but I want to make a call on this one.

87. Pittsburgh -6.5 Arizona (2.5 Stars) O/U 41
Steeelers 24, Cardinals 15
Both teams hope to showcase improved offenses in this one and the running games should be strong. I can’t predict what exactly will happen in the passing games but Pittsburgh “exploded” last week to 268 yards in addition to 153 on the ground. Arizona’s defense got smoked by the rams on the ground for 228 and managed 229 yards of offense under Kyler. So just on those recent trends, you got to like Pittsburgh. Ultimately, bank on the Pittsburgh defense to win the turnover and pressure battle, which will generate a 5-10 point edge. Steelers may be returning Minkah and face a very beaten up Cardinals secondary, which might push me to think a 10+ win.

88. Cleveland +3.5 Rams (2.5 Stars) O/U 40.5
Last weeks, the Rams overcame a banged up passing game with an outstanding effort by RB Williams. That won’t happen this week, it could be the exact opposite. Because we haven’t seen much of Kyreen lately and where this game fits in the scope of many more compelling games, I’ll be conservative with 2 stars.
Browns 23, Rams 21

89. Miami -9.5 Washington (2.5 Stars) O/U 49.5
Dolphins 33, Washington 21
I can’t see how the Miami Dolphins don’t break every single game passing record in the history of the NFL, unless they just decide to run the ball in the entire 2nd half. I might not take this at 10 or over but at 9.5? Ok.

90. New Orleans +4 Detroit (2 Stars) O/U 47
Saints 22, Lions 24
New Orleans will undoubtedly have their hands full stopping the Lions rushing attack, but they may compete effectively through the air. I like the Saints chances of wrapping this game up within 3, and it could be even closer than that. Detroit is not the same on the road, with rare exception.

91. Indianapolis -1 Tennessee (2 Stars) 42,5
Cols 23, Titans 22
Both teams enjoyed their opponent imploding in front of them, but the Titans offensive numbers are simply painful to look at and don’t build confidence. Pressure on the Qb pushes me to Indianapolis. I know these RBs both want to show each other up, I don’t expect any measurable difference but that may play out differently in real life.

92. Houston -3 Denver (2 Stars) O/U 47.5
Texans 26, Broncos 21
I expect Texans to win in the air and on the ground, with a good 1 ypp advantage on every play worth around 7 points. They may face more pressure though on the Qb, so pulling it down a bit for that.

93. NY Jets +2 Atlanta (2 Stars) O/U 33.5
Jets 19, Falcons 18
This one is a coin toss, so this is just take HF and the points. Maybe the Aaron Rodgers news is somehow motivating?

94. Cincinnati +8.5 Jacksonville (2 Stars) O/U 38.5
Jaguars 24, Bengals 17
Cincy got killed in the rushing game last week, and they need to do better. Jacksonville wasn’t lighting it up against Houston last week, though. I just can’t trust Jacksonville to win by 9 points, I think it is too much. Statistically, they matchup well enough to make me want to make a play here.

Week 12

79. Cleveland +1.5 Denver (3 Stars) LOSS
Browns 24, Broncos 22
Cleveland has been competitive regardless of who their Qb and running back is. Denver is just hilariously bad at defending the run and the rushing stats could eclipse the passing stats for the Browns. Could be a decent amount of pressure on Russell Wilson.

80. Denver/Cleveland Over 37 (2 Stars) ***WIN***
I have this up at 48, so I clearly see this differently than Vegas and that’s a margin that no starter really would seem to justify. I don’t necessarily see this correlated to a Browns victory however.

81. Pittsburgh -2.5 Cincinnati (2.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Steelers 24, Cincinnati 19
Generally you have to like the Steelers against an inexperienced Qb. The new offensive coordinator situation could be a spark too. I expect a very productive running game from the Steelers.

82. Atlanta +1.5 New Orleans (2.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Falcons 21, Saints 20
My computer thinks Atlanta is the better team here, and it is usually about right at least 65% time on who will win a game so take them and the points. This will be close though.

83. Indianapolis -2.5 Tampa Bay (2.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Indianapolis 24, Bucs 19
We saw how bad Tampa’s defense can be last week when they gave up a perfect game. Indianapolis rates pretty well as an offense too, objectively speaking.

84. Baltimore -3 LA Chargers (2.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Ravens 27, Chargers 22
Chargers will have to contend without Joey Bosa, which could be a real factor against a team like the Ravens that can run the rock well. I don’t think Chargers can keep pace running or passing.

85. Chicago +3 Minnesota (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Chicago 26, Minnesota 27
Looking for Justin Fields to provide a massive bump for the Bears. You have to think he’s the better Qb in this game even if the passing game heavily favors the bears. But it is the potential on the ground for both of these Qbs that could be a difference maker.

Week 11

71. LA Rams +1 Seattle (4.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Rams 24, Seahawks 20
Stafford returns to help pepper targets at the WR. Aside from that, there’s nothing that separates these two teams at all so just take home field.

72. Baltimore -3.5 Cincinnati (3.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Ravens 24, Bengals 17
This looks like a great matchup on paper and Cincy continues to be hot. But the Ravens strength is pass defense, and Cincy could barely run the ball last week. I do think the Ravens are far less dominating in their own division, but 3.5 isn’t asking a lot at home. Baltimore’s rushing advantage is massive and – for a guy who can’t hit deep balls – the Ravens should still have a substantial advantage getting air yards.

73. Minnesota +2.5 Denver (3.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Vikings 24, Broncos 23
When you bet against the Broncos, you only need to ask yourself if the team can run the ball. And yes – Josh Dobbs can!

74. Houston -5 Arizona (3 Stars) PUSH
Texans 27, Cardinals 19
Full disclosure, I am not giving Arizona any credit for Kyler Murray. I figure if the other Qb is as good as he has been for Minnesota, why should I think Kyler will be an upgrade here? The passing game of Houston is far more explosive than Arizona, so I’m hanging my hat there.

75. Detroit -7.5 Chicago (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Lions 29, Bears 19
Detroit has been lighting it up at home, and they get perhaps the worst defense in the NFL.

76. Philadelphia +3 Kansas City (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Eagles 22, Chiefs 23
It should be a tight game with a good chance of closing within a FG.

77. Pittsburgh +1 Cleveland (2 Stars) LOSS
Steelers 24, Browns 23
No Watson, no win. I actually got this at 2.5 when the news broke, but the point is the Steelers should be able to eek out another unexciting win. As a dog, they have been $$$ all season.

78. Pittsburgh/Cleveland Over 33 (2 Stars) LOSS
Nobody is expecting fireworks here, but the Vegas line is getting laughably low. I think you just got to go over now and hope for the best. At least if it is really this low, I think that favors the Steelers winning due to Cleveland being unable to function.

Week 10

65. Houston +6.5 Cincinnati (4.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Texans 19, Bengals 21
Both team Qbs are hot as can be coming in, but these defenses can be really tough against the pass and 6.5 is a lot of cushion considering the Bengals may feature a banged up Jamar Chase. So I won’t go as far as to call an upset but I think the game will stay close and maybe surprisingly defensive, especially against a number that seems to have gone a bit high against the underlying data.

66. Jacksonville +3 San Francisco (4 Stars) LOSS
Jags 24, 49ers 23
After beating up on some bad teams, the 49ers look strangely vulnerable with a secondary that has not been great. Coming off those losses and with the benefit of a long bye, few bettors have the stomach to think the 49ers will do anything but win. But I see value here in what could be a very competitive game.

67. Washington +6.5 Seattle (2.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Commandos 20, Seahawks 24
Gino will be hard pressed to look terrible against the Washington secondary, but he hasn’t looked good. Washington airs it out a lot and figures to at least make this exciting. Could be a surprisingly entertaining game.

68. Buffalo/Denver Over 46 (2.5 Stars) PUSH
Target: 50.5
It won’t be surprising to see Buffalo score some points, but Denver should be able to run the ball and Russell Wilson has not been too bad this season. I expect some points from Denver against a middling Buffalo defense that will put the total high.

69. Cleveland +6.5 Baltimore (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Browns 17, Ravens 21
The Ravens have been sleepwalking through the NFC West, but they’ll have to start playing football again when these two stellar defenses face off. You might think this slugfest will go under, but 38 isn’t really making me drool on offenses that may be competant. I expect the passing games of both teams to be pretty dormant while they run the rocks, so 6 points here could be a lot.

70. Steeelers/Packers Under 39 (2 Stars) LOSS
Target: 36
There’s not much good going on with either offense, but the Steelers D can play. Expect the Steelers usual script of playing close to the vest and winning with a walkoff FG. The margin here is thin but it will probably slide just under.

Week 9

55. Miami +1.5 Kansas City (3 Stars) LOSS
Dolphins 28, Chiefs 26
The Chiefs have enjoyed a tremendous pass defense, but I suspect that may be a function of some pretty bad opponents and it won’t apply to the Dolphins. I see the passing metrics being very close, and the real advantage in this matchup coming from the Dolphins rushing game.

56. Green Bay -3.5 LA Rams (3 Stars) ***WIN***
Packers 19, Rams 12
It’s pretty clear Stafford won’t play, so I’ll ride the Packers at home.

57. New England -3 Washington (3 Stars) LOSS
Patriots 26, Commanders 19
While both teams figure to struggle running the ball, there could be a surprising amount of ariel fireworks in this one.

58. Atlanta -3.5 Minnesota (3 Stars) LOSS
Falcons 21, Vikings 15
Atlanta upgrades to Heinenke while the Vikings keep getting worse.

59. Indianapolis -2.5 Carolina (3 Stars) ***WIN***
Colts 29, Panthers 23
The Colts haven’t been winning, but they have been scoring. That’s more than you can say for the Panthers here. I see solid advantages in ypr, ypp, and pressure.

60. Las Vegas -1.5 NY Giants (3 Stars) ***WIN***
Raiders 32, Giants 24
I like betting the “fired everyone” bump, and the strong running games of these two teams will keep the chains moving and could lead to a surprisingly high score. The Giants – who somehow almost won last week with -9 net passing yards and who’s coach seems to be paid to put a hit out on his own Qb – is my favorite target of 2023.

61. Miami/KC Over 50 (2 Stars) LOSS
Even though it is chalky, I do like the over here. It may correlate well with a Dolphins win, as we can feel confident the Chiefs won’t go down easy. Target: 55 points

62. Baltimore/Seattle Under 44 (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Seattle will lean in their running game and try to mire this game in the mud. Baltimore will just shut down if they jump out to a lead. So I see an under here even though 44 is a solid projection – game script should be in your favor.

63. Philadelphia/Dallas Over 47 (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Dak has played great games against Philadelphia in his career (7-1), so you can count on this one being an exciting back-and-forth.

64. Cincinnati/Buffalo Under 50.5 (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Even though both defenses can be amazingly porous, my simulations came up at 44.

Week 8

We’ve had a couple bizarre weeks where anyone and everyone has won, but I’m going to look for a pretty chalk weekend with all teams in action. And yes, this is all SUPER chalk. I’m curious to see what happens in a weird season where I’m somehow scoring like 12% on dogs.

47. Kansas City -7 Denver (5 Stars) LOSS
Chiefs 31, Broncos 19
In this bizarre double-header, the Chiefs return to Denver but no reason to think it won’t be just another KC rout of this truly awful team. This line certainly doesn’t seem too high betting that Denver will be out of it late in the 4th quarter.

48. Indianapolis +1.5 New Orleans (5 Stars) LOSS 
Colts 24, Saints 19
Saints really don’t have much of an offense, and that increasingly isn’t a problem for the Colts. The biggest question is really why this line is so close? Even if you like Kamara, you have Jonathan Taylor firing up again under his fat new contract. I don’t love this matchup really but it is a lopsided matchup at a near pick’em! It has been a good year for all home teams too, as if home field advantage suddenly matters again.

49. Detroit -8 Las Vegas (5 Stars) ***WIN***
Lions 30, Raiders 17
Detroit returns home where they play their best football. It is a big moment for the Lions actually hosting a MNF game! I feel like they may have looked past last week to this one but will show up here. Hard to feel positive about the Raiders when Josh Jacobs hasn’t shown explosion all year and he is facing a stout run defense, and Garoppolo is coming back into the lineup – maybe. I don’t think this game comes down to the last possession.

50. Philadelphia -7 Washington (3 Stars) PUSH
Eagles 30, Washington 20
The WTF have absolutely no answer for AJ Brown and Devonta Smith, and I expect them to play quickly from behind. Washington may have some moments again but most of them will be ended with sacks and punts. It feels like I’m being generous looking for a 10 point game and feel really good it’ll be at least 7 or 8.

51. Baltimore -9.5 Arizona (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Ravens 28, Cardinals 17
Lamar never loses to NFC teams, and this looks like a joke of a matchup for him anyway.

52. Miami -9.5 New England (2.5 Stars) ***WIN***
Dolphins 32, Patriots 20
Miami is an offensive bully and when they win – they win big! If you can’t punch them back in the mouth, it is gonna be a long long day and points will be cheap.

53. Cincinnati +5 SF (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Bengals 24, 49ers 27 (OT)
Yeah, I know SF has lost 2 in a row but we haven’t really seen the Bengals yet and I expect them to come out like their lives depend on it. Having a Qb issue in SF isn’t a positive either.

54. NY Jets -3 NY Giants (2 Stars) PUSH
Jets 24, Giants 19
Giants are absolutely terrible, and yes – I realize they are playing the Jets.

Week 7

42. Indianapolis +2.5 Cleveland (4 Stars) ***WIN***
Colts 24, Browns 22
I don’t care in the slightest that the Browns won last week. I think it is almost completely meaningless. The Colts loss was very disappointing to me and they were terrible, but most teams aren’t terrible every week so I’m optimistic the tea leaves point my way here on both sides. I am not banking on much offense from the Colts (or the Browns honestly), but we’re looking for turnovers and sacks in a defensive-led victory.

43. Tampa Bay -2.5 Atlanta (3 Stars) LOSS
Bucs 23, Falcons 17
Tampa was embarrassed by Detroit last week, and Atlanta is just downright embarrassing. The Falcons have a terrible passing game, and the Bucs will sack them to death. This also looks like a very defensive win.

44. NY Giants/Washington Under 39.5 (3 Stars) ***WIN***
30-35 points
Giants can’t protect the Qb to save their life, and Sam Howe takes way way too many sacks. With this many sacks, I simply see more punts than points!

45. Miami/Philadelphia Over 51.5 (3 Stars) LOSS
55-60 points
I mean, duh. Seems almost chaaeap right? I think Philadelphia has a good chance of winning this game, and that’ll take a LOT of points.

46. New Orleans/Jacksonville Under 40 (2 Stars) LOSS
35-40 points
This might be close, but on a short week, banged up Qbs or backups, I see game scripts with lots of running and neither defense really gives a lot of room to run!

Week 6

35. New Orleans -1.5 Houston (5 Stars) LOSS
Saints 20, Texans 14
Result: Despite losing last week, Houston is oddly falling in my top 5. Needless to say that’s ridiculous but these anomolies do self-correct over time, generally sooner than later. The same indicators said to ride the Bengals to finally rebound over the Cardinals last week.

36. Washington +2 Atlanta (5 Stars) ***WIN***
Skins 21, Falcons 18
Result: This is also a bit of a reversion-to-the-mean expectation. Washington’s biggest problem is they are letting WR1s go nuts on them. Fortunately, this won’t be an issue this weekend. Washington is flirting in bottom 5 territory and I think they are due to move up the ranks a bit. I just like this game as being in Washington’s wheelhouse and the public is very down on them after the Chicago debacle.

37. Tampa Bay +3 Detroit (4 Stars) LOSS
Bucs 24, Lions 23
Everyone is excited for the lions, but the Bucs defense has been very good and they will make the Lions sweat this one a bit. If they win the turnover battle (and I think they will), it’ll be enough to win the game. David Montgomery should be a concern for this defense. In a week where there are so many obvious-seeming blowouts, this stands out as a game where the underdog can compete.

38. Indianapolis +3.5 Jacksonville (2 Stars) LOSS
Colts 23, Jags 24
Last week – at least on Threads – I said Jacksonville was in a good spot to upset the Bills. And they did, although I thought they looked pretty much like crap trying to blow the game for most of the 2nd half. So I did not come away impressed, they won a game they were in a good spot to win and didn’t look all that great doing it anyhow! I feel better about Indianapolis with a vet under certain, Taylor back in the fold with the other back blowing up defenses anyway – this team also coming off another win.

39. Philadelphia -6.5 NY Jets (2 Stars) LOSS
Eagles 28, Jets 19
In a weekend with a lot of likely-ugly blowouts, I’m putting my chips on this one because it is such a great matchup for Phily. They are incredibly hard to run against, which leaves the Jets to do damage with – ahem – their Qb.

40. Chicago/Minnesota Over 43.5 (3 Stars) LOSS
Terrible defenses, 2 Qbs who have been very productive, even without JJ this smells like a lot of points and the number is pretty low! Gotta love this one for about 53!

41. Dallas/LA Chargers Over 51 (2 Stars) LOSS
I think both running backs will go off, and those Qbs will be efficient with 2nd/3rd and short all day. I say 55+.

34. KC -10.5 Denver (3 Stars) ***WIN***
Chiefs 34, Broncos 17
This projected score feels about as automatic as it gets, even if the Chiefs don’t blow out other teams very often. 175+ yards rushing, probably 300+ passing, a pretty large ypp advantage, some pressure on the Qb. For the Broncos, not much here although Wilson’s day may not be statistically terrible if you have to play him.

Week 5

I’m stuck at .500 but this could be a breakout week as I can really follow some data now. I ran hundreds of thousands of simulations microanalyzing every play from this season and here is what I found that deviated most from where Vegas and the betting public sit!

27. Arizona +3 vs. Cincinnati (5 Stars) LOSS
Prediction: Arizona 24, Cincinnati 20
Analysis: As we approach this stage of the season, it’s time to let the data do the talking. Arizona’s performance this year has been nothing short of remarkable, given their challenging schedule. Even facing Cincinnati, another formidable opponent, we can’t ignore the issues plaguing Joe Burrow and his offense. It’s time to trust the data, even if some bettors are holding onto different expectations. The Cardinals rushing advantage is very substantial.

28. Miami -10.5 vs. NY Giants (4 Stars) ***WIN***
Prediction: Dolphins 33, Giants 17
Analysis: It’s a dire situation in New York, to say the least. When you can’t find excitement in laying 10.5 points in this matchup, it’s hard to imagine when you can. The Giants don’t just lose; they MELT under pressure like a scene out of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Statistically, the Dolphins have just eye-popping advantages in both the pass and rushing game that lead the week’s board in BOTH categories, as well as sacks. Unbelievable!

29. Houston +2 vs. Atlanta (3 Stars) LOSS
Prediction: Texans 21, Falcons 20
Analysis: The stats favor the Texans, making them a solid small underdog. Admittedly, small underdogs haven’t been the best bet for me this season, but I believe it’s only a matter of time before they pay off. Small edges in the passing game, sacks and turnovers outweigh Atlanta being the better rushing attack in this game.

30. NY Jets +2 vs. Denver (3 Stars) ***WIN***
Prediction: Jets 26, Broncos 23
Analysis: It’s puzzling to see the Jets as underdogs when they have Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook running against the Broncos. Additionally, the Broncos’ best wideout will be covered in “Sauce”. I anticipate the Jets’ passing game will show significant improvement against a more manageable opponent. This small underdog could turn out to be a significant value play thanks to a massive edge in the running game, one of the best this weekend!

31. Green Bay -2 vs. Las Vegas (2 Stars) LOSS
Prediction: Packers 23, Raiders 19
Analysis: In this matchup, my trust lies with Jordan Love and the Packers, given their more successful track record compared to the Raiders. We’re riding this lean with confidence because while the two teams stack up very evenly, the fatal mistakes will be made by the Raiders.

32. Dallas +3.5 vs. San Francisco (2 Stars) LOSS
Prediction: Cowboys 21, 49ers 23
Analysis: It appears that San Francisco is getting a bit too much of a points cushion in what is likely to be a closely contested game. Giving them more than a field goal seems excessive, so we’ll take the Cowboys to cover. I even feel they have the edge everywhere but the running game – where they are still reasonably competitive.

33. Washington vs. Chicago Over 44.5 (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Prediction: 52 total points
Analysis: I’m sure this matchup makes you feel a bit sleep and bored, but the Skins should be able to push 30 points against the Bears horrendous defense and – frankly – I can see the Bears scraping enough together to get into the low 20s too! I think both teams will have some success getting rushing yards and be at least serviceable through the air.

Keep an eye out for potential updates before kickoff on Sunday, and for more notifications, follow me on Threads!


Week 4

Sunday was a pretty great day but “I have a bad feeling about this!” settled in before the double kickoff nightmare of Monday night. It was a rough week as ZERO small underdogs won and just a couple random big underdogs came home to roost. Probably the most painful one was the Rams +2.5 losing seemingly-predictably by 3. On the bright side of the ledger, I hit 4 of the 5 over/unders which was a nice debut considering it was the first full slate of over/unders I have posted in 15 years.

19. Atlanta +3 Jacksonville (3 Stars) LOSS
Projected Score: Falcons 21, Jaguars 21
I see this as a tight “flip a coin” game, so I’ll take 3 on the neutral field.

20. Pittsburgh -3 Houston (3 Stars) LOSS
Projected Score: Steelers 23, Texans 17
I’m having a really good year and riding Pittsburgh as a dog has primarily been my fuel. Now as a favorite, they are still a good value as the overachieving Texans step up in class. Pittsburgh is a winning franchise and they know how to win. 3 or more feels like another good deal. The Steelers defense is real and historically, they have destroyed young Qbs on the road. This could be very lopsided but I’ll generously spot the Texans 17 based on calculations.

21. Minnesota -4.5 Carolina (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Projected Score: Vikings 24, Panthers 14
While the Panthers didn’t cover for me last week, the stats with a veteran Qb were notably better. So Bryce Young starting is not a positive. And this game does stack up as a “reversion to the mean”-type event. 4.5 is a tough number to justfify, however, but the air advantage is pretty massive. If I had played more reversion to the mean last week, it would have gone much better for me for sure.

22. Las Vegas +6 Chargers (2 Stars) LOSS
Projected Score: Raiders 23, Chargers 26
6 points is asking a lot for a team that figures to win all their games this season by a FG. Since when do the Chargers blow anyone out? Ok, maybe they win by 6 but I don’t see much upside here for the Chargers. I also see some signs that the Raiders are due for a good game.

23. NY Jets +8.5 KC (3 Stars) ***WIN***
Projected Score: Chiefs 20, Jets 15
I feel like we really know who these teams are. While the Chiefs are almost certainly going to win this game, this is not a team really known over the years for blowing out their opponents, last weekend being more of an abberation. Sure, taking the Jets feels a bit like flushing money down the toilet especially if they do indeed look as bad as we expect, but the numbers point to this side of the deck.

24. Chicago/Denver Over 46.5 (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Everyone is expecting this to be a pretty dull game, but with two terrible defenses on the field this could be a lot of points. I don’t know what Chicago will actually do offensively, but I’d be running Justin Fields every play after watching the Miami/Denver tape. Personally I like Chicago in this one but the computer likes Denver, but things really can only get better for the Bears. Maybe the Broncos can improve on defense this week too, cut it down to 35. I see this game 50+.

25. New Orleans/Tampa Bay Under 40 (2 Stars) ***WIN***
I have this game solidly in the 30s, it has all the earmarks of a boring defensive battle. It doesn’t hurt that Carr may not play against a really tough defense, or at least could be limited.

26. Seattle/NY Giants Over 47.5 (2 Stars) LOSS
I think this could be a pretty high scoring game too, also in the 50s. SO this total seems a bit low to me.

Week 3

We are not here to make you feel good and beach you off. While I haven’t had a strong overall season in many years, my underdogs still win. Vegas gives us a 50/50 – sometimes a 60/40 – and I’m pretty good at ferreting out the mongrels they add a couple points to for those willing to take the ugly step-child. So yeah, I know the other Qb is prettier and better but I evaluate the whole context and understand the NFL is a league where the top and bottom really aren’t all that far apart. So here are the ugly ducklings this week that I think will win you some cash!

7. Carolina +5 Seattle (4 stars) Seahawks 19, Panthers 17  LOSS
Reason: The 5-point spread seems a bit generous. Given the current state of both teams, this game should be closely contested. The Panthers, with a veteran quarterback now leading them, have a genuine chance to secure a victory or at least keep the game competitive until the final whistle. The quarterback change might make a difference.

8. Pittsburgh +2.5 Las Vegas (4 Stars) Steelers 21, Raiders 19 ***WIN***
Reason: The Steelers’ dominant defense was on full display last week, and they’re unlikely to ease up against the Raiders on Sunday Night Football. Gotta love Steelers – a winning team every year – as an underdog to…Vegas? Almost smells worthy of calling it a “trap”!

9. NY Jets +2.5 New England (4 Stars) Jets 19, Patriots 17 LOSS
Reason: Objectively, the Jets should handle the Patriots, as any improvement on the Patriots’ part hasn’t materialized yet. The Jets, despite criticism of their quarterback, are a known quantity from last season. Weather conditions may also limit the Patriots’ somewhat limited passing attack. This game has a premium for the winless Patriots having to win.

10. Tampa Bay +5.5 Philadelphia (3 Stars) Eagles 24, Bucs 21 (OT) LOSS
Reason: The Buccaneers appear capable of giving the Eagles a run for their money. This could have been a competitive match last season, and the Eagles are showing early signs of vulnerability, which might hinder their ability to contain the Bucs’ offense and put points on the board.

11. LA Chargers +1 Minnesota (3 Stars) Chargers 28, Vikings 27 ***WIN***
Reason: There is no arguing that – in a close game – the Vikings know better how to win those. And if you fear Justin Jefferson going all “Tyreek Hill” on the Chargers, that’s a very rational fear. And the (likely) unavailabily of Austin Eckler in this one is a concern. And typically, when we tell you why the other side is very attractive, that doesn’t turn out great for our win/loss record. All that aside, my algorithmic analysis does hate the Vikings defense and I am going with the Chargers here in a critical battle of two very offensively-explosive 0-3 teams.

12. LA Rams +2.5 Cincinnati (2 Stars) Rams 17, Bengals 14 LOSS
Reason: Regardless of Joe Burrow’s status, the Bengals’ offense is struggling, while the Rams have surprised with their balanced attack and defensive capabilities. The Bengals will fight to win this game, but it’s not certain they can match the Rams’ well-rounded performance. This is a 2022 line in 2023.

In this week’s NFL predictions, we’re also leaning heavily on the over/under bets despite last week’s “under” selection being a bust. These selections are driven by instinct rather than computer analysis, although the computer seems to concur in most cases. Let’s delve into our “Captain Obvious” 2-star over/under picks for this week:

  1. Colts/Ravens Under 43.5 ***WIN***
    • Reason: This game’s potential for a low score is influenced by the weather conditions and the absence of key running backs.
  2. Steelers/Vegas Under 43 ***WIN***
    • Reason: Both teams are expected to focus on a ground-and-pound style of play, keeping the scoring on the conservative side.
  3. Patriots/Jets Under 36 ***WIN***
    • Reason: Watching these offenses play is about as thrilling as watching paint dry, which justifies our bet on a low-scoring game.
  4. Broncos/Dolphins Over 48 ***WIN***
    • Reason: The Broncos’ defense allowed an abundance of points against Washington, and they now face the league’s top offense. Additionally, Russell displayed his deep-threat capabilities last week. While Waddle’s absence is a blow, Cracraft’s recent performance offers some hope. But let’s face it, it’s going to be all about Tyreek Hill.
  5. LA Chargers/Vikings Over 54 LOSS
    • Reason: Even if the over/under was set at 74, we’d still favor the over. With two potent offenses and rather pitiable defenses, this game promises to be a high-scoring affair.


Week 2

In Week 1, a lot of offseason hype proved irrelevant and teams more-or-less picked up where they left off last season. Unders also came through at a record-pace last week, with several teams missing the bus for their game entirely. For Week 2, we follow a similar approach that teams will largely pick-up where they ended the 2022 season and mitigate but tweak expectations from Week 1 to avoid an unbalanced over-reaction from 1 game.

As always, remember that sports betting involves risk (particularly when you follow OUR advice!), and these predictions are for entertainment purposes. Enjoy the games and good luck with your wagers!

Game #1: Tampa Bay -2.5 vs. Chicago (4 Stars) ***WIN***
Projected Score: Bucs 24, Bears 17

Reason: The projection suggests a 5-point gap from the spread, making Tampa Bay a solid bet. The Bears’ poor finish last season, coupled with a lackluster performance against the Packers in Week 1, raises concerns about their defense and offense. While Tampa Bay has room for improvement, their running game should be better than last year, making this a favorable pick.

Game #2: NY Jets +9 vs. Dallas (4 Stars) LOSS
Projected Score: Jets 17, Dallas 22

Reason: This is a good betting game because we know EXACTLY who these teams are from last year. If anything, it is the Jets who have made significant upgrades surrounding their efforts to win with Aaron Rodgers. With a dynamic duo at running back, they could outperform their pathetic 2022 offense even without Rodgers. Dallas coming off a 40-0 win creates inflated expectations, making this an attractive cash-in opportunity for the Jets backers.

Game #3: Las Vegas +8.5 vs. Buffalo (4 Stars) LOSS
Projected Score: Bills 24, Raiders 20

Reason: This projection is closer than the Vegas line suggests. Week 2 often sees top teams rebound from losses, but it’s crucial not to overestimate them. The Raiders can challenge the Bills in the running game, and Josh Allen’s turnover risk could be exploited by a team better than the Jets. Expect a closely contested match.

Game #4: Jacksonville +3.5 vs. KC (3 Stars – Over parlay 51) LOSS
Projected Score: 27-27 (OT win for KC?)

Reason: Like the Bills, the 0-1 Chiefs might face an overconfidence premium. Surprisingly, this projection calls it a pick ’em game, with the Jaguars’ offense expected to shine. Consider this in a parlay with the over, as a defensive battle is unlikely, and the Chiefs can match the Jaguars’ scoring.

Game #5: Washington +3.5 vs. Denver (3 Stars) ***WIN***
Projected Score: Washington 17, Denver 16

Reason: This pick isn’t necessarily an endorsement of Washington, but rather a cautious approach towards Denver’s hype. There’s no compelling reason to believe Denver has improved significantly, making this a battle of struggling teams. Take the points in what could be a closely contested game.

Game #6: Pittsburgh +2.5 vs. Cleveland (2 Stars) ***WIN***
Projected Score: Steelers 19, Browns 17

Reason: Despite doubts about Cleveland’s performance, the projections and Vegas odds indicate a fairly even matchup. The Steelers have a passing game edge and a potentially turnover-rich defense, which could make them a strong pick for Monday Night Football. Expect a low-scoring affair, although the line has already moved down this week.

Chargers/Titans Under 45 (2 Stars) LOSS
Projected Score: Chargers 21, Titans 17
Reason: A rare venture into over/under territory! This pick leans toward the under due to a full touchdown gap from the projection. Both the Chargers and Titans have shown a commitment to the running game, which might not make for the most exciting game but could result in a lower-scoring affair. Chargers may be without Eckler for some or most of the game, which may hurt rushing productivity and force them to the air more, so that’s a bit of a wildcard.