Tag Archives: Seahawks

Beating Vegas: Follow the Road

Minnesota Vikings -2.5 at Carolina Panthers

The Vikings are still top five in the NFL when it comes to total offense and total defense.  Quarterback Case Keenum has seen his popularity go from “he should be benched when Teddy Bridgewater is healthy” to “MVP candidate.”  Although the last claim may be a reach, the first one is definitely just words put together to make an incoherent sentence at this point.  Keenum is completing passes at a rate of 67.5% – his 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions show a competency at the quarterback position but doesn’t tell the whole story about just how affected he’s been under center.  The running backs Murray and McKinnon aren’t making defensive linemen lose sleep but they do help to maintain a balance to this offense which has helped the likes of Adam Thielen who has over 1000 receiving yards this season.  The Vikings defense is one of two who have not let opponents gain 1000 yards on the ground against them yet this season.  The Carolina Panthers though, are fifth in the NFL with 1533 yards aren’t going shy away from their offensive philosophy though. Although running back Jonathan Stewart leads the Panthers with 531 rushing yards, it’s quarterback Cam Newton’s 515 yards at a clip of 5.8 yards a carry that is the real threat in the backfield.  Cam Newton lost his favorite target, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo via trade, but it seems that move has pushed the talents of Devin Funchess foward, which is what the Panthers franchise has been waiting for. The Vikings though are second in the NFL in touchdowns allowed by receivers with 12 and although this Vikings team hasn’t faced a quarterback like Cam Newton -who brings the package of “unpredictability” to the table – in the last three weeks they took care of Jared Goff and Matt Ryan pretty easily.

The Pick: Vikings -2.5

New Orleans Saints -1.5 at Atlanta Falcons

Keeping it in the NFC South, this Thursday night is a good one between the Falcons and the Saints.  The Falcons are 7-5 and in the next four weeks they must play the Saints, the Bucs, the Saints again and then the Panthers.  Getting back into the playoff picture won’t be an easy task for the reigning NFC Champs.  Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian seemed to finally have things on a roll for a few weeks but then hit a roadblock against Minnesota last week.  This week they play against a Saints defense that isn’t as good as the Vikings, but is miles ahead of what they were last year.  The Saints are holding quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 61% which isn’t too bad,  but Atlanta has been humming away at a 66% completion rate and have finally found ways to get the ball to stud wide out Julio Jones.  The story in this game will be about one thing:  which running back duo will outperform the other.  it is the Saints’ rookie Alvin Kamara (over 600 rushing yards and over 600 receiving yards)  and Mark Ingram (over 900 rushing yards) versus the Falcons’ Devonta Freeman 589 rushing yards and Tevin Coleman with 561 rushing yards.  Now, by just looking at the numbers you can tell which tandem has caused more panic to defenses throughout the league but the Saints rush defense is allowing five yards a carry while the Falcons are allowing 4.4 yards a carry.  Watch the line on this game as it gets closer to game time, if the Falcons are getting three points before kickoff, take Matty Ice and the boys, but until then. . .

The Pick: Saints -1.5

Seattle Seahawks +2.5 at Jacksonville Jaguars

Both of these teams have very one dimensional offenses;  the Jaguars try do do any and everything in their power so that quarterback Blake Bortles won’t have to throw the ball, while the Seahawks offense is – Russell Wilson.  That’s not being cute either.  They struggle to run, have no real threat in the receiving game (calm down Doug Baldwin groupies. . .) and it seems that the majority of their big plays are never scripted – they are just Wilson creating while on the run.  The Jaguars will just run the ball, and run the ball and run the ball. . . rookie running back Leonard Fournette has carried the ball more than 200 times and is averaging 4 yards a carry.  This is a testament to his ability and the offensive line because defenses are stacking the box against Bortles every single week.  Last week the stout offensive attack of the Eagles was able to take advantage of the banged up Seahawks secondary but could not get anything done on the ground.  That doesn’t bode well for the Jaguars.  The Jaguars defensively though, are one of the best units in the league and that is much due to pass defense that is as stingy as they come.  Nobody will get much done in this game.  Expect a score of 20-13.

The Pick: Under 40

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Are the Rams Good?

Green Bay Packers +2 at Dallas Cowboys

In what will be called the “marquee match-up” this Sunday, the Packers will go into Dallas.  The Cowboys are 2-2 and still have yet to be a “good” team.  The Packers standing at 3-1, may just be the brand of “good” that the Cowboys need to get a “W” against to prove to the world that they are still playoff contenders.  The public’s money is going HEAVY on the Green Bay Packers here and this is why: 1. The last time the world saw the Packers play was on national television, making short work of the lowly Chicago Bears; and 2. The Aaron Rodgers-Factor.  Rodgers is one of the most visable players in the NFL and if he is ever getting points, the public is quick to jump on it.  Why shouldn’t they?  I’ll tell you why.  The Cowboys pose the same threat to the Packers as the Falcons did a few weeks ago.  The Cowboys average rushing yards a game are right at what Green Bay allows (114 in comparison to 111) and as long as Prescott can complete intermediate passes against the zone coverage, which he does well, the Cowboys should have little resistance from the Pack.  Of course though, there is : the Aaron-Rodgers-Factor.  And although he is off to another impressive start to the season, the Packers offense is painfully one dimensional.  Go with the team at home, who people are doubting and have better balance on offense.

The Pick: Cowboys -2

 

Seattle Seahawks +1.5 at Los Angeles Rams

I honestly never thought I’d see the Rams be a favorite ever again.  I mean, it’s the Rams.  Remember they took that “bust” Jared Goff last year in the draft.  Yeah. . .about that.   Jared Goff has the third best Quarterback Rating in the league at 112.2 and has thrown 7 touchdowns with only one interception.  As a team, the Rams have the best offense in the league and are 3-1.   The Seattle Seahawks are still a “good” defensive team, and although being a “good” defensive team is usually a. . .”good” thing – it loses it’s value when not too long ago you were the “best” defense.  Things get really put into perspective when you factor in the Seahawks offensive game plan is pretty much “let Russell Wilson create.”  It seems that over-night the Rams have become a viable player in the NFL while the Seahawks have been slowly regressing.  This game is usually close anyway – just got to ride with the hot hand at the moment.

The Pick: Rams -1.5

 

Arizona Cardinals +6.5 at Philadelphia Eagles

Well look at what we got here.  One team I’m not too high on and the other is a team I basically told everyone to bet against for the whole season.  Listen here. . . Yes, the Arizona Cardinals are traveling to Philadelphia, and yes, the Cardinals are looking pathetic but we’re taking the Cardinals this week – why?  Because 70% of the public is taking the Eagles to win this game by a touchdown.  6.5 is a lot of points in the NFL and you still have to believe that Bruce Arians is one of the best coaches in the NFL.  The Cardinals have special teams talent and defensive talent to give the Eagles a headache this week.  The Eagles last two wins came against win-less teams and they won both games by the smallest of margins.  The Cardinals are desperate for a big win, they throw the ball a lot (2nd in the NFL in passing yards) and that is the weakness to the Philadelphia defense.

The Pick: Cardinals +6.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Beating Vegas: Tennessee Turn Up?

Last week Beating Vegas went 50/50 on College and NFL picks. That’s just not going to cut it here, so let’s knock out these NFL picks!

Seattle Seahawks +3 at Tennessee Titans

In two weeks, the Seattle Seahawks have put up a whopping 21 points.  The offensive line isn’t what it used to be and quiet as kept. . .neither is Russell Wilson.  Wilson’s completion percentage is 56% and he’s averaging 5.4 yards a pass.  Those are pretty below average numbers for a guy who’s held in such high regard today.  It’s not all his fault though, the pass protection isn’t great and his receivers – if we’re being honest – they’re a pretty overrated group (sorry Doug Baldwin fans. . . all four of you).  Tennessee is a team, on the other hand that NEEDS to piece this thing together.  Quarterback, Marcus Mariota is putting up better numbers than Wilson – but  not by much, but unlike Seattle, he has weapons.  Running back Derrick Henry just may have taken over the reigns last week when Demarco Murray went down with a hamstring injury (day-to-day) and the young receiving core has talent with Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Rishard Matthews.  They’re just a young team that is finding ways to put it all together – at least one would hope.  The Titans need a signature win and this is their opportunity, to hit a heavy weight while it’s tending to it’s wounds.

The Pick: The Titans -3

Houston Texans +13.5 at New England Patriots

While Texans coach Bill O’Brien is muddling through the early goings of this 2017 season (blowout loss to the Jaguars and barely beating the Bengals) he has to take his team, led by rookie quarterback Deshawn Watson to go against his former boss, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.  O’Brien was awarded stripes while being the offensive coordinator at New England, than won people over by accepting the job at Penn State during it’s darkest times and eventually becoming head coach of the Texans.  It’s been rough though, as this once heralded “quarterback guru” has been shuffling through mediocrity under center since he arrived.  Now a rookie quarterback enters New England, where under Belichick rookie quarterbacks have gone 0-8.  Add to the fact that Watson is averaging less than 5 yards a pass and his second leading target is his under achieving running back Lamar Miller – things can get crazy.  This Texans defense is “supposed” to be one of the better ones in the league, but in two games they’ve netted three sacks and zero interceptions. New England on the other hand shook off their week one cobwebs and got their swagger back against New Orleans last week 36-20 (game wasn’t even that close – Brees through a garbage time TD with about 5 minutes left).  Houston is going to struggle to score and there will be more than a few three and outs. This will benefit the New England offense who by the second half will wear down this defense.

The Pick: Patriots -13.5

Miami Dolphins -6 at New York Jets

It’s easy to pick against the Jets because. . .it’s the Jets.  When a team is noticeably tanking, you take that into consideration, but this is a rivalry game and coach Todd Bowles is coaching for his life right now.  On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins are only looking up, as they bring to New York one of the more complete rosters in the NFL.   Miami went to L.A. and squeezed out a win against a gritty Chargers team that has a knack for blowing close games and now come back to the east coast to play their rivals in New York.  Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler looked like he didn’t forget a step in the Adam Gase offense and looked calm and in control throughout the game.  Cutler throwing over 70% completion rate, which is pretty much what the Jets allow at about 11.4 yards a pass.  Josh McCown is doing what he can on offense but with no real running game to help him out and only one real target in Jermaine Kearse, the frustration settles in quick.

The Pick: Miami -6

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Lynch vs Peterson

The NFL off-season gets fans in a frenzy and for good reason.  It’s in the off-season where the draft happens and free-agency happens, and it’s because of these tools that fan-bases are given new hope.  Whether the hope is fabricated optimism or reality is to be revealed as the actual season unfolds, but until then it’s all open for debate.  This season, the Raiders went and acquired running back Marshawn Lynch and the New Orleans Saints signed free agent running back Adrian Peterson.

They are both products of the 2007 NFL draft, Lynch going number 12 to the Buffalo Bills, while Peterson went number 7 to the Vikings.   Comparing the numbers side by side, Peterson is clearly the better running back.  In some discussions, Peterson is looked upon as the best back to emerge out of college in the last decade.  His production, when healthy, is always league-best or close to it.  His last three seasons have been a sea-saw of consistency though. In 2014, he played one game and was suspended because of  child-abuse charges and in 2016 he tore his meniscus (right knee) and was limited to three games of action where he didn’t average over two yards a carry. . . 2015 though he led the NFL in rushing yards, yards per game, carries and rushing touchdowns. . .

Peterson found himself a free agent in this off-season and the only team he’s ever played for, the Minnesota Vikings were ready to let him go.  The New Orleans Saints signed Peterson to a two year, $7 million contract, with a signing bonus of two and a half million dollars. It was an interesting move for the Saints, whose running back Mark Ingram had a career high in rushing yards with 1043 and averaged over five yards a carry.  Considering the Saints, who led the NFL in passing yards last year, are team who’s offensive attack is concentrated around Drew Brees and the passing game – it was an interesting signing to say the least.  Maybe, the Saints will focus on a more “ball-control” oriented offense, to help preserve the health and stamina of their veteran quarterback?

Marshawn Lynch’s story is a bit different from Peterson’s.  Actually it’s a vastly different scenario.  After 2015, Lynch retired from the NFL altogether, sitting out the 2016 season but when the Oakland Raiders showed interest in the Oakland native, he was all about “the comeback.”  A year off might’ve been what “Beast Mode” needed as he had an injury plagued 2015 season, that saw him finish the season with a little over 400 yards at less then 4 yards a carry.  After Seattle traded his rights to the Raiders, Lynch was signed to a two-year contract worth $9 million with a $2 million signing bonus.  Lynch joins an Oakland Raiders team that some feel may be the only team to challenge the New England Patriots in the AFC.  Last season the Raiders had a very balanced offensive attack, finishing ninth in passing yards and fifth in rushing yards.  The rushing yardage total was more because of the offensive line than the actual ball-carriers though.  The Raiders worked with a running back by committee system, and it’s leading rusher was Latavius Murray who finished with less than 800 yards on the season (in a twist of irony, Murray signed with the Vikings this off-season).

So who got more bang for their buck?

Of course this is all built off of assumption, but everything points to Marshawn Lynch having more of a positive impact with the Raiders this season than Adrian Peterson will with the Saints.  Peterson, looked bad the last time we saw him – before he got hurt and he’ll be definitely splitting carries with Ingram in the backfield.  Drew Brees, might like the insurance policy that is Adrian Peterson, but the way this offense moves, and the language it uses, his comfort-level with Ingram will be hard to dethrone.  Lynch on the other hand, is on a team that truly believes with this offensive line, a well rested and newly motivated Marshawn Lynch will give them the consistency they need in the backfield.  Lynch retired from Seattle, because he wasn’t happy there anymore – let’s not get that twisted.  Lynch is looking forward to representing his hometown, especially on a team that is so focused on winning a championship like the Raiders.

For Peterson, it might be a season that we’ve seen once too many times for sports-greats.  Peterson is a lock to get into the hall of fame one day, but this might be a season that leaves his fans remembering him NOT as the dominant back he once was, but as a veteran hanging on to his glory days – and cashing out while he can.

G.W. Gras

@GeeSteelio

Silver and Black Beast

Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch announced his retirement the same day as Super Bowl 50 back in early 2016.  He left behind a legacy of being bruising-back, with a very specific personality.  His final season though in 2015, was one to be forgotten.  A sports hernia injury limited him to half the season where he had his lowest yards per-carry average in five seasons (3.8 ypc) and when he did return in the playoffs, he was held to 20 yards rushing by the Carolina Panthers.

He has sat out an entire year after this and now is ready to play again.  And he wants to play for his hometown team, the Oakland Raiders.  Alrighty then. . .

The Raiders are in need of a running game.  One would guess that the current starter is Deondre Washington, who ran for over five yards a carry on limited opportunities behind Lativius Murray.   Although the Raiders organization likes Washington, they are a team that feels they can challenge the Patriots in the AFC – and a healthy Marshawn Lynch just might be what pushes them ahead.

Lynch and the Raiders have apparently come to an agreement and it’s all pending a trade with the Seahawks, who still own Lynch’s rights.

If the Raiders aren’t going to have to shell out a lot of dough for Lynch, it’ll be worth the gamble.  Lynch provides them a strong running game as well as a tough and veteran presence in the huddle.

There are a few red flags though when considering this move.

The most obvious is that Lynch’s running style is violent and after years of running as hard as he does, are we to believe that a 30 year old back, who is a year removed not only from the game of football but also a sports hernia injury, can be the player he once was?   And even if he is that  guy on the field – remember the mention earlier of his specific personality?

Lynch is on another planet.  He gives the media a hard time and is pretty much a loner.  His playing style goes in contrast with his personality – he does not exhibit the “brute” type of energy off the field.  He is more of a recluse, who tells corny jokes while staring at the floor.  For a team like the Raiders, it’s obvious they all gel together.  From Derek Carr all the way down, the culture has been remixed in Oakland and everyone is feeling good about themselves.  Lynch could potentially throw a wrench into that harmony.  As stated by Matt Calkins of the Seattle Times, Lynch was integral to building the culture in Seattle and “that gave him locker-room clout that might not await him in Oakland.”

The Oakland Raiders averaged 4.4 yards a carry last year, and know that in order to maintain the success their offense had this year, and to maintain the progression of their young quarterback Derek Carr they would like to keep that the same, or obviously, get better.  If Lynch has at least one more good run left in him, it will turn out to be an upgrade for a team that already boast one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NFC West: First Round Mock

It was just less than five years ago that the NFC West was thought to be the toughest division in football.  Every team had a tough defense, and the division games were grueling matches, usually decided at the line of scrimmage.  Now a days, it’s more like a Seahawks team with a lot of bark, an under achieving Cardinals team and two of the most poorly run franchises in the league in the Rams and the 49ers.

Here we will discuss the best option for these squads and what they should do with their first round pick.

San Francisco 49ers: 2nd Overall Pick
Finished 2016 with a 2-14 record
Def Yards: 32nd Off yards: 31st

Talk about a complete disaster.  The San Francisco 49ers were once considered one of the most cherished franchises in the league, but last year further cemented the “bottom feeder” persona that they really are.  The team’s best player is an above average running back in Carlos Hyde and a veteran left tackle in Joe Staley.  They went out and signed wide receiver Pierre Garcon but at quarterback they are looking at Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer.  The “woes” don’t stop there either.  Defensively they are led by two veteran linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Navorro Bowman – but as 2016 showed, that isn’t scaring anybody. . .


Automatically, people may say: “You need to build this team around a quarterback,” and if that’s the case, have your pick with these “maybe-average-at-best” options, in Deshaun Watson and Mitchel Trubisky.   But just what can a rookie quarterback do with this team?  Exactly.  The only real option for the 49ers here is to auction off this pick to the highest bidder.  There is no shame in trading back and getting more picks, when you have one of the worse rosters in the NFL.  Since nobody has been able to get a clear feel on how teams feel about these quarterbacks, trading back may still ensure the Niners securing Watson or even maybe a Pat Mahomes or Brad Kaaya (Kaaya in maybe the 4th round).  But aside from the quarterback position, the Niners can benefit by getting multiple picks in rounds as last as the 4th or 5th and start plugging in players in positions of need. . . which will be easy because the 49ers need everything.

Los Angeles Rams: 5th Overall Pick
Finished with a 4-12 record
Def Yards: 9th    Off Yards:32nd

The draft helps bad teams like the Rams, get a good early pick to bolster areas needed.  Defensively, they were in the NFL’s top ten of yards given up, but finished dead last in offensive yardage.  They have a potential bust in their quarterback selection last year, have a weak offensive line and no real receiving threat.  .  . They most likely would’ve went on the offensive side of the ball, but unfortunately this pick is owned by the Tennessee Titans, so. . . that’s it for the Rams, who will continue to be a brutal on the offensive side of the ball.

Arizona Cardinals: 13th Overall Pick
Finished with a 7-8-1 record
Def Yards: 2nd    Off Yards: 9th

This Arizona team confused just about everybody.  Even I touted them as the best team in the league last year and was left looking as if I had no business talking football ever again. . . keeping that in mind, let me continue to talk about this sport of football. . .  The Cardinals lost two safeties in the off-season, but at the start of 2017 they’ll have a healthy Tyrann Mathieu back there, and he is possibly the best at the position.  Patrick Peterson is the lone corner on this team, so expect the Cardinals to go after Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey. BleedingGreenNation.com referred to him as “a tone setter in the secondary,” and his aggressiveness proves this to be true.  The issue is, he’ll probably be scooped up by Buffalo with the tenth pick, because they just lost Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots in free agency.  This leaves them with options though at corner, and the versatile  Adoree’ Jackson of USC comes to mind.  Not only is he a great athlete at the position (11 passes defensed and five interceptions) – his versatility as a kick returner and a wide receiver can open the door for a mad-scientist-head-coach like Bruce Arians.

The Cardinals, lacked a “spark” or “energy” last season, Jackson is the kind of electric player who can provide that to this franchise. It may be a bit of a stretch at the 13th spot, but I just believe he’s a better corner than Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore and way better than Washington’s Sidney Jones.  Jackson is a player, who loves the spotlight and his kind of attitude would fit in great with Mathieu and Peterson.

Seattle Seahawks: 26th Overall Pick
Finished with a 10-5 record
Def Yards: 5th  Off Yards: 12th

The Seahawks are the one team in this division that seem to take winning seriously.  Even with that being understood, their franchise quarterback Russell Wilson has a tough go the last few years when it comes to not being sacked.  Some of it may be attributed to his inability at times of trying to do more than he can, but the sack numbers since 2013 to 2016 are: 44, 42, 45 and 41 — and last year he coupled that forty-one with his lowest number of touchdown passes, 21.  Seattle “helped” Wilson by signing tackle Luke Joeckel to a one year deal. . . Joeckel has been more of a “joke-el” after being selected with second pick overall in the 2013 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.


Seattle will most likely address this offensive line issue, although this draft doesn’t really have any standouts – at least not too many ‘first-round’ standouts.  The minds at Pro Football Focus ranked this unit as the worst in the league, and although my pick for them is somewhat of a gamble, the selection here is LSU guard Ethan Pocic. He can play both center and guard, but it is likely when drafted he would start out at guard.  LSU’s offensive line is one of the more dominant in college football, it didn’t matter if Leonard Fournette or Derrius Guice ran the ball – the ground game was able to pick up yards in chunks.  He is a patient player, who was trusted to make adjustments from the line.  He finished 2016 as a First-Team All American and SEC player. Some folks have him as a late second round talent, but I have him as one of my top three offensive linemen in the draft.

G.W. Gras
twitter @GeeSteelio

How the Falcons Will Beat Seattle

The table has been set for the Divisional Playoffs.  For the Atlanta Falcons, fresh off of their bye-week, are to play host to the Seattle Seahawks.  The Seahawks’ wildcard win over the Detroit Lions, was less like a play-off game and more like a scrimmage.  Seattle had the privilege of playing against a quarterback like Matt Stafford, a running back like Zach Zenner and a wide-out like Golden Tate.   Now, one isn’t going to bash the three mentioned as they are all NFL talents, worthy of sporting a jersey on game-day but – they are not on the level of what Atlanta offers at those positions. 

The running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman provide the most complete one-two punch an NFL backfield has to offer.  With Freeman averaging 4.8 yards a carry and Coleman averaging 4.4 – the drop off, is not noticeable and neither does it change the offensive strategy of the  Falcons.  Going against a Seattle defense that allows 3.5 yards a carry, the Falcons know they have to do more than just run up the gut against Seattle.  What is odd about Seattle’s rush defense though is that they’ve allowed 16 rushing touchdowns, which puts them in the bottom third of the NFL in that category (Freeman and Coleman have combined for 19).

The pass defense of the Seattle Seahawks looks impressive from a numbers standpoint: allowing on 223 passing yards a game, hold opposing qb’s to a quarterback rating of 84.5 and have only allowed 15 passing touchdowns against them.  Let’s look deeper into that though. . . For such a “storied” secondary – they’ve only nabbed 11 interceptions on the year.  Looking at their schedule they’ve only played four, of what you would call “top tier” quarterbacks this season in Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan – losing against the first two names and winning against the latter two.

The win against New England still saw Brady with a 71% completion percentage and over 300 yards passing and the win against Atlanta came after Seattle was on a bye-week.  Atlanta meanwhile was on their second away game, the previous one being a grueling win at Denver (a better defense than Seattle).  Even with that, Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes in the third quarter (including a 30 and a 40 yard touchdown pass) but they ultimately ended up losing by two points.

Matt Ryan is en-route to being the NFL’s MVP and deservedly so.  He has posted career highs in touchdown passes (38), QB rating (117.1), completion percentage (69.9%) and yards per attempt (9.3).   Ryan finally has a supporting cast of players who have names that don’t have either “Julio” or “Jones” on their driver’s licenses.  And although Julio has had a remarkable season (over 1400 yards and 83 receptions), Matt Ryan has been putting all his guys to use.  Of Matt Ryan’s 38 touchdown passes only 6 have seen Jones on the receiving end of them.  Ryan has been able to dissect whatever his opposition throws at him in order to find the best window of opportunity.   This becomes easier for Matt Ryan against the Seahawks this time around, because of the injury to All-Pro safety Earl Thomas will be watching the game from the sidelines.

Defensively, fans of the Falcons won’t brag about it, but the bottom line is this:  the defense allows 25 points a game and they offense puts up 33 points a game – do the math.  Especially considering the Seahawks only put up 22 points a game – this plays right into the hands of Atlanta.  Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks in 2013 and 2014, which includes a Super Bowl win ( Super Bowl XLVIII).  If there is anyone who knows how to work the below average offensive line of the Seahawks and make Russell Wilson uncomfortable, it would be him.  Also, keep in mind, the defense has some of the main cogs that he coached, and he’s going to use that knowledge to his advantage as well.  The Falcons defense was horrific when he got there and now they are average at best, but have some nice pieces in it like Keanu Neal and Vic Beasley Jr.

At the early going Vegas has this game at a four point spread with the Seahawks being the underdog.  No doubt when this game inches closer to kick-off the spread will become shorter because the public will still see the Seahawks as they shouldn’t and still see the Falcons as the “soft” team they’ve been in playoffs before.

Times have changed.

Falcons win 29-19.

G.W. Gras

@GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Army-Navy

Last week “Beating Vegas” went two out of three – still above 60% for the year.  This week, with only one college game, the classic “Army-Navy Game,” we’re going to have to try our hand with some NFL action as well.  The system has been working all year at “Beating Vegas” – keep winning with us!

 

Army +6.5 vs  Navy (game played in Baltimore)

At 60-49-7, Navy is the all time leader in this rivalry, which has them owning the Black Knights since 2002. Yikes.  Last season, Beating Vegas won this game by telling folks to take the under and this year the over/under is  set at 47.  In the last four years, the highest the point total has gone up to is 41 (we should note, that the two years prior total was at 48).   The reason for this is that these two programs run similar offenses and the playbook for these teams haven’t changed for, maybe, decades.  There is also “honor” in this rivalry, so “running up the score” won’t occur much either.  The rushing statistics for both of these squads are impressive and nearly identical, except in touchdowns where Navy has scored 54 on the ground, compared to Army’s 37.  Statistically, it would appear that Army’s defense is superior to Navy’s but let’s chill out for a second – Navy has a REAL college football schedule.  Navy is in an AAC Conference that was quite impressive this year.  The Midshipmen had  impressive back to back wins against two bowl eligible teams in Houston and Memphis.  Navy has had to rely on their offense to pull them through some tough competition, while Army beat up on Morgan State and Lafayette.  They both lost in similar fashion to Air Force, Army beat Temple, Temple beat Navy, Navy beat Notre Dame and Notre Dame beat Army — what does this tell you?  Nothing.  There are no stats to help gauge where to go with this one.  Smart money has Navy still winning this game and keeping the streak alive.  On a side note, both teams will be sporting some really sick jerseys for the game.  Seriously.

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The Pick: the under at 47

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Denver Broncos +1 at Tennessee Titans

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What is this?  An NFL game?  How’d this happen?  This one has Marcus Mariota squaring off against one of the best defenses in the NFL, in the Denver Broncos.  If you’re expecting excitement – don’t.  Although, Marcus Mariota is having an impressive season so far, IF the Titans win this game, it will have very little to do with the former Oregon Duck.  The only way to beat tough defenses like this is to run the ball.  The Titans have the means to do it behind this offensive line and Demarco Murray. Murray has cracked the one-thousand yard rushing mark this year and is doing it at a rate of 4.6 yards per carry.  His back up Derrick Henry, hasn’t been used as much as many thought he’d be used this year, but when he comes in the yards per carry only drop by a tenth. . . For all the talk of Denver’s defense, they are giving up 4.2 yards a rush, pretty average by NFL standards; but they’ve allowed the fewest passing yards this year and they hold teams to a 55.3% completion rate which is best in the league.  Considering that the Titans don’t have the most elite wide outs in the world, as mentioned earlier, Mariota will have his struggles.   The Broncos offense has talent but is a struggle due to their quarterback position, regardless if it’s Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch.

The Pick: the under at 43.5

Atlanta Falcons -6 at L.A. Rams

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The Falcons had a taste of one of the NFL’s best teams last week (yes, the Chiefs ARE legit) and it was two Matt Ryan interceptions that ultimately costed them the game.   Even with that, Ryan has the best QB Rating in the league (among those who played more than 8 games. . .) and is having an MVP caliber season so far.  The Los Angeles Rams. . . are pretty much awful.  They have the NFL’s worst offense and have a rookie starting at quarterback who looks like one of the worse rookies we’ve seen start at quarterback.  Jared Goff may get lucky this week though as he’s squaring off against the worst pass defense in the league.  Teams have figured out the Rams though.  Stack the box, force their rookie quarterback to make throws to his average receivers.  Atlanta has a lot to prove and this is a soft landing spot after a tough loss.  Take this spread now before it finds it’s way to -9 before kickoff.

The Pick: The Falcons -6

Seattle Seahawks -2.5 at Green Bay Packers

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Admittedly, these are two teams and two quarterbacks I personally do-not-like – BUT – for the sake of making some coin, let’s take a look here.  Both team’s have no offense line and both defenses like to blitz.  Both quarterbacks like to throw on the run, and both offenses are plugging different guys at the running back position.  Seattle won’t get the calls they usually get in Green Bay, Green Bay gets calls everywhere they go – and surprisingly enough the defenses aren’t that much different except in one category – passing touchdowns.  The Seahawks have only allowed 11, where the Packers have allowed 24.  Things may change drastically for Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” now that All-World-Safety Earl Thomas is out for the season though. . . This is a tricky game, and Beating Vegas usually doesn’t like “tricky” but what we do love this week are overs/unders.  Aaron Rodgers will without a doubt test the middle of this secondary without the presence of Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson, who always finds pay-dirt (someway. . .somehow) will find holes against a secondary, who’s back end won’t keep up with the speedy wide-outs the Seahawks package out there.  Enjoy the fireworks.

The Pick: the over at 46.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Titans/Broncos under 55.5; Seahawks +9.5; Falcons +6 and Bucs/Saints over 39

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Vegas Is Getting Smarter

Beating Vegas has been ON FIRE with it’s college football picks!  So far this year we are 11 for 13 so let’s see if we can keep that luck going.  Safe to say everyone took a hit with the NFL last week as two big time favorites this year in Pittsburgh and Arizona looked flat out awful.  New week, new story – so keep checking for this column weekly and visit mybookie.ag so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Tennessee Titans +6.5 at Houston Texans

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At this point, some teams and players start shaping up into what they will be for the rest of the year.  For the Titans, this looks like a squad that is confused on the field and has a quarterback who is suffering from the sophomore jinx.  Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota appears to be thinking too much.  Usually thinking is a good thing, but he hasn’t been “reacting” to situations quick enough in the pocket – he’s somewhere between ‘trying to make the big play’ and ‘trying not to turn over the ball’ – and failing at both.  The Texans were just shut out on National television by a third string, rookie quarterback and are now playing in the comfort of their own home against a division rival they know well.  The Texans have beaten the Titans in eight of their last ten meetings, and they’ve done so by nearly twenty points per win.   This Titans team is far from making the jump to being competitive and they’ve got a quarterback who seems to be trying to drive this offense  from the back seat.  Take the better coach and better depth (even without J.J. Watt).

The Pick: Texans -6.5

Seattle Seahawks +2.5 at New York Jets

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The big story here is that Russell Wilson suffered a sprain ACL in his left knee last week against the San Francisco 49ers.  The Seahawks are expecting Wilson to play, even if not at 100% which will work right into the Jets’ hands.  Wilson hasn’t been “killing it” this year anyhow.  In three games he has two touchdown passes, an interception and a lost fumble.  The Seahawks offense doesn’t know what it wants to be: “Smash-mouth”
, Aerial – or balanced.  Regardless of what they think they are – they’ve looked really sloppy so far this year.  Speaking of “sloppy” . . . The New York Jets were downright pitiful last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, losing 24-3.  Well at least their offense looked pitiful. . .Eh, Ryan Fitzpatrick looked pitiful.  Fitzy threw six interceptions and appeared to be confused with which jersey color he should’ve been throwing to the whole game.  The Jets will keep this game simple against a Seahawks defense that will feast on those floater passes Fitzy likes to throw.  This game will be ugly, but it will be in New York, meaning Seattle has to make that coast to coast travel that all teams dread.  The Jets will be looking to rebound against a wounded Russell Wilson.  The public will be riding the Seahawks on pure reputation against the Jets – the public is usually wrong.

The Pick: The Jets +2.5

Illinois +21 at Nebraska

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Talk about two universities going in completely different directions. . . yikes.  Illinois is the bad side of the coin as it looks like head coach Lovie Smith may have taken on more than he can handle with this roster and it’s lack of talent.  On the heavier side of the coin is Nebraska, who is so far, undefeated and both sides of the ball seem to be in sync with each other.  Illinois has gotten shelved by UNC and Western Michigan and although quarterback Wes Lunt isn’t a bad player, it’s the lack of talent around him.  The offensive line isn’t impressive and outside of wide receiver Marcus Turner, they lack little to know play making ability.  Nebraska is led by quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. who has been a duel-threat nightmare for defenses so far this year averaging over 300 yards and three touchdowns a game.  The offense has two capable running backs and Nebraska is a team that can go four wide at the wide receiver position and depend on all of them.  The trend in Vegas is that Nebraska is 4-1 ATS in it’s last five games, while Illinois is 1-5 ATS in it’s last six games.  Expect that trend to continue, even with this big number – Illinois just can’t match up with Nebraska on the field.

The Pick: Nebraska -21

Western Michigan -3.5 at Central Michigan

You got to love the Mac Conference.  We won with Western Michigan earlier this year in an easy cover against Illinois (yes, the team that we’re going against this week as well) and this week they’re going against Central Michigan.  Both squads average about 41 points a game between them and defensively they allow on average about 23 points a game between them.  Last year the winner of this game was Western Michigan 41-39.  The over/under for this game is set at 55 and this is the kind of game where these two will be lighting each other up until late in the fourth quarter.

The Pick: The Over 55

If You Must: Take Wisconsin +10.5 against Michigan.  Don’t like riding a team two weeks in a row, but they were the underdogs last week and flat out won, this week, Wisconsin is the first true test for Michigan who has been playing cup cakes so far this season.  Michigan is playing a team now that will “punch back” and they haven’t faced that at all this year.  Michigan will most likely still come away with a win, but Wisconsin will hang around.  This might be a preview of the Big Ten Title game and both teams know it.

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4 Game Tease of the Week: Dolphins +19, Browns +19.5, Raiders +15.5 and Stanford/Washington Under 57

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Fourteen

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: Blessed you all with the double whammy of Army and the Under last week – and also told you guys there was NO way New England was going to NOT cover against the Texans.  This week starts the college bowl season, which is a tricky time.  Some teams want to show the world how good they are on a bigger stage, while others are disappointed to not be in a “premier” bowl game.  Some teams/coaches are motivated and others aren’t – these games go beyond just the talent on the field.

The Cure Bowl: San Jose State (-3) vs Georgia State

Games like this are the reason people say “there are too many bowl games.”  San Jose State has five wins this year while Georgia State has only one more than the Spartans.  Things looked grim from week one when Georgia State lost to Charlotte University.  Charlotte is a school in it’s first year transitioning to an FBS school. . . ugh.   Regardless of how it started, Georgia State put together a pretty decent offense led by quarterback Nick Arbuckle, who threw for 26 touchdowns and over 4000 yards.  Georgia State makes sure every one on their depth chart gets touches it seems, so there is no way to “isolate” their best weapon.  That isn’t the case for San Jose State’s offense.  They are a one trick pony who keeps the ball in the hands of their running back Tyler Ervin.  Ervin has racked up over 1400 rushing yards and he’s taken it across the end zone 13 times.   Believe it or not though, Ervin has managed that 1400 yard feat over a year of inconsistent run totals.  One week he’ll manage 50 yards, another week 200, then 22 and then 160 – it’s seriously one of the more bizarre outputs you’ll see this season.  Georgia State knows in order to stand a chance in this game they will have to sell out to stop the run.  It’s worth the gamble.  San Jose State has a good secondary, but they will be spread thin throughout this game.

The Pick: Georgia State +3

The Camellia Bowl: Ohio University (+7.5) vs Appalachian State

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It’s always interesting when conferences like the MAC and the Sun Belt square off.  These are the conferences fighting for some respect among the “big boys” and the bowl games are a perfect platform to square off against each other.  For the Sun Belt stands Appalachian State who has a 10-2 record and won six of those match ups by twenty or more points.  Appalachian State finished the season with the Sun Belt’s best defensive unit, letting opponents only average about 18 points a game.  Representing the MAC Conference is the Ohio Bobcats who surprised some folks this year with an upset win at Northern Illinois and nearly stealing a win at (then) ranked Minnesota.   Both teams will be playing this one for some respect and taking home a bowl win of any magnitude would be huge for either school.  Appalachian State has drawn a .500 record against the spread this year and this spread might be too big to cover against a school that can score and get up for any game like the Ohio Bobcats.

The Pick: Ohio +7.5

The N.Y. Jets (-3) at Dallas Cowboys

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Don’t look now, but the New York Jets may actually be the hottest team in the AFC right now.  The most suspect part of Gang Green’s ensemble is their quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and right now he is playing some of the best football of his career.  The wide receiver duo of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are playing as good as any one-two punch in the league.  Decker is 125 receiving yards short of 1000 and Marshall is 13 yards short of 1200.  The Jets have balanced out their attack which has opened up the field more for running back Chris Ivory who is on pace to break the thousand yard mark this week.  The Cowboys are a complete disaster and although that Monday Night Football win against the Redskins keeps them in the running for the NFC East, the truth is, they are horrible.  Or at least Matt Cassel is horrible.  You have to almost feel bad for Cassel.  He didn’t think he was this bad either.   The Cowboys aren’t able to do anything with Dez Bryant, and even when they do get him the ball, he’s at times so frustrated he tries to do too much and ends up yelling incoherently about something. . . The Cowboys’ defense has actually not been given enough credit this year – that unit has played pretty well, but they are usually put in bad situations or are on the field for too long.  Darren McFadden has been a surprising source of offense for the one dimensional Cowboys approach but he’s going up against the best rush defense in the league.  Not only is it the best rush defense in the league, it is also a defense that keeps opponents at an NFL’s best, 56% completion percentage against them.

The Pick: The Jets -3

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If You Must:  The Steelers are at home and are a six point favorite against the Denver Broncos.  It looks wrong.  It looks weird.  Looks like Vegas wants everyone to ride with the Broncos getting the points.  Just play against the majority this week and see what it gets you.  There are few offenses that can square up against Denver and this Steelers offense just might stand in that pack of a few.  Denver will rely on Osweiler in this game more than in any previous game so it should be a telling game.  Take the Steelers -6.

Tease of the Week: (four gamer) Falcons/Jaguars Over 37; Jets +9; Patriots -2; Seahawks -2.5

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio