The Black Cat – Winning NFL Picks against the Spread

Welcome to the 2021-2022 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)

Week 2: 3-4 (Stars: 11.5 – 17.5)
Week 3: 2-3 (Stars: 9 – 9.5)
Overall: 5-7 (Stars: 20.5 – 27)
Favs: 1-2
Dogs: 4-5

Week 4

Disappointed in last week, I veered too much from the computer data when it actually spit out an incredibly strong week. I won’t make that mistake again! In more true black cat form, the underdogs went 66% while the favorites were 0-2. This week, I fearlessly post a slate of 9 games with 5 favorites! So I’ll win at least 4 underdog games….

13. Chicago +3 NY Giants (4 Stars)
After posting one of the most embarrassing losses in a string of embarrassing losses against the Cowboys, one might rightly think the Giants are poised to rebound against the lowly bears. But the stinging loss came with mounds of injuries, specifically every wide receiver on the team and every guy who covers the wide receivers on the other teams. It is so bad, many fantasy football experts are expecting Darnell Mooney to have a catch this week! This game is setup for the kind of 1950s-style ball that the Bears live for.
Bears 22, Giants 21

14. LA Chargers -5.5 Houston (3.5 Stars)
This does qualify as a rebound play. Statistically, it is hard to get to 5.5 on the road against a Texans team based on what we’ve seen so far from the “please plug me in” chargers. Why is Mike Williams smiling? Because he stands to be the only receiver of up to 400 yards from returning superstar Justin Herbert.
Chargers 29, Texans 20

15. Seattle +3.5 Detroit (3.5 Stars)
A good game to start everyone in fantasy football, as defense will be a non-factor. You wouldn’t expect fireworks with Gino vs. Goff but you’re gonna get them! And we’re on team GINO! If you aren’t sold on this game being a FF cheat code, consider that St. Brown will be praying from the sidelines.
Seahawks 28, Lions 27

16. San Francisco -1.5 LA Rams (3.5 Stars)
Garropolo is a winner, I think he has the most wins in NFL history even if he’s probably less wanted around the NFL than the 49er Qb who kneeled. I’m looking at the running game here and even though the 49ers running game is powered by a backup and a WR, it still seems more explosive and stable than whatever the heck is going on with the Rams and that waste of a 3rd round RB pick I spent in August.
49ers 21, Rams 16

17. Washington +3 Dallas (3.5 Stars)
Now you know I’m sticking with the computer this week when I recommend this hot mess of a game! Dallas has won the last 472 games over Washington, mostly by running the likes of Pollard and that broken down other guy down their throat. Will that happen again? Probably. We actually have slightly more confidence in Washington producing some passing yards and CeeDee Lamb dropping a critical throw and – remember – this IS a certified Black Cat UNDERDOG pick and those things are like gold. For all the people all pumped up about Cooper Rush, forget it. Both he and this offense still SUCK!
Commanders 20, Cowboys 19

18. Baltimore +3 Buffalo (3 Stars)
This figures to be a very competitive game, with a ton of offense both through the air and on the ground. History does not favor the Bills in close games, they haven’t won a close game in many opportunities (see “Allen didn’t get to touch the ball”). Lamar is Mr. Win Close Games. So I not only like the Ravens covering this, they may pull it out!
Ravens 27, Bills 26

19. Indianapolis -3.5 Tennessee (3 Stars)
In a battle of two of the best RBs today, the Titans are really having trouble getting their running game off the ground while Taylor should have a strong day.
Colts 21, Titans 15

20. Las Vegas -2.5 Denver (3 Stars)
While Denver’s offense should remain a bit of a puzzling hot mess, I think it is time for the Devonte Adams show to begin! If you are like me and start Derek Carr because you didn’t bother to draft anyone else, this may be your weekend. Finally the Raiders face an offense that even they can stop!
Raiders 26, Broncos 25

21. Pittsburgh -3.5 NY Jets (2.5 Stars)
FF Defense Rankings are drooling over the Steelers so much in this battle against Zach Wilson, I had to check if TJ Watt was back! He’s not, but the mistake-prone Jets should hand the ball over so readily even the Steelers O can’t screw this one up.
Steelers 25, Jets 19

Week 3

8. Denver +2 San Francisco (5 Stars) **WIN**
Everything went SF way last week – if everything is you lost your starting Qb! Now they enter primetime with their version of Kirk Cousins against what I think is THE BEST Qb in the NFL when he’s on his game, Russell Wilson. Denver is due to catch fire with their offense and SF will never really be a dynamic scoring team.
Broncos 20, 49ers 17 

9. Tennessee +2 Las Vegas (4 Stars) **WIN**
I take no pleasure picking against the Raiders but the Titans are a perennial playoff team on their backs and they will not go away into the night quietly. Maybe my predicted score is too low because the Raiders will be equally fiesty but I just see the Titans rebounding from their recent humiliation…
Titans 23, Raiders 21 

10. NYG -1 Dallas (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Yeah Dallas won, ok fine. It’s not like the Bengals are lighting it up with that line! Back to reality…the Cowboys are cowdung.
Giants 21, Cowboys 17

11. Washington +6.5 Philadelphia (3 Stars) LOSS
It is so easy to overrate SNF/MNF primetime routs, but the reality is they are rarities and don’t continue week-after-week. You really can’t rate Phily much higher and Washington much lower so I’ll just play that.
Commandos 24, Eagles 27

12. New Orleans -3 Carolina (3 Stars) LOSS
NO won’t give this game away too, and Carolina just doesn’t have much. A team mostly hoping for their oft-injured RB to go off. He’ll play, right?
Saints 26, Panthers 20

Week 2

I studied where these teams were last year, what happened last week, and how much Vegas has/hasn’t reacted – or perhaps, overreacted! And here is what fell out the most:

1. LA Chargers +4 Kansas City (3.5 Stars)  **WIN**
Note: although I’m listing this first, it is the 2nd lowest rated pick of the weekend (so far)!
While the Chiefs were a vastly better team in 2022 and this line would be a favorite play, the Chargers may have closed the gap considerable – and even exceeded the gap! I liked what I saw last weekend and if this were a neutral field, I would feel good about the Chargers chances to win. Expect these AFC West battles to be absolute life-on-the-line dog fights! Even though the Chiefs had an absolute laugher, the hardware came away more impressed with the Chargers.  The line shows some respect to the Chargers improving, but not enough based on early returns. The Chargers running game is much more bankable in my fantasies.

2. Minnesota +2.5 Philadelphia (5 Stars)  LOSS

Both teams had great debuts, but the computer sees a much improved team in the Vikings. Because of this, the feeling is the wrong team is favored by 2.5! The line shows some respect to the Vikings improvements, but not enough based on early returns. The Vikings come to the game with the #1 wideout in football, although AJ Brown didn’t seem shabby last weekend.

3. Washington +2 Detroit (5 Stars)  LOSS

I don’t trust the Washington team, but there’s not much argument that – while Qb1 remains upright for a couple more weeks – their passing game has seen a major upgrade from the 2021 edition. This feels like a 2021 line to me and the team that is more improved at the moment is Washington.

4. Pittsburgh +2.5 New England Patriots (4.5 Stars)  LOSS

Here’s another line that shows a bit of movement towards a stronger 2022 Steelers team, and overlooks a pretty shoddy start by the Patriots. Of course, the ridiculously strong opener by the Steelers pasting Cincinnati is tempered by their losing one of their two defensive all-stars! And I appropriately downgraded them because of this, but I think Vegas downgraded them even more than I did. I like any Steelers team getting points against a very young Qb!

5. Tampa Bay -2.5 NO Saints (4 Stars)   **WIN**

So here I’ll take a stab at a favorite, buyer beware! The Saints have garnered a few more points than they would have seen last year, but I don’t see that as having been earned. Tampa remote-controlled it into an easy win over the Cowboys. I’ll take the Bucs by at least a FG on the road!

6. Arizona +5.5 LA Raiders (4 Stars)   **WIN**

Here’s my favorite rebound play of the weekend. Arizona was steam-rolled by the Chiefs. Ok, fine. Many other teams will be too! I really like the Raiders in this game and they will probably win it, but I don’t expect the Cardinals to rollover and this will likely come down-to-the-wire in my expectations! I just don’t think Arizona is a very popular team and people see the Raiders as hanging on in the West.

7. Seattle +9.5 San Francisco (3 Stars) LOSS

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher. I loved everything I saw with Seattle. Both teams have lost veteran Qbs from last year. Who knows what the 49ers will get from under center. If they want a RB battle, I really liked what I saw Rashard Penny. I can’t get over a TD favorite on this game and it may be even closer than that!