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Written Wednesday November 4th, 2020 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed) ALERT, ALERT, BIG RED ALERT!!! We have a 5-star pick for just the third time this season! Here is the record of those high-confidence predictions over the past three seasons (I started rating my picks in 2018 – too bad I didn’t do it in 2017 since we had great lucrative year!): 2020 SEASON: 2-0 RECORD Week #1: Cards +7 at 49ers (win) Week #7: Jets +13 vs Bills (win) 2019 SEASON: 2-2 RECORD Week #5: 49ers -3.5 vs Browns (win) Week #7: Bears -3 vs Saints (loss) Week #14: Raiders +3 vs Titans (loss) Week #17: Cowboys -12 vs Redskins (win) 2018 SEASON: 3-0 RECORD Week #12: Ravens -10.5 vs Raiders (win) Week #12: Bills +3.5 vs Jaguars (win) Week #14: Saints -8 at Bucs (win) OVERALL: 7-2 RECORD (77.8% WIN RATE) Again, I feel obligated to remind you an important piece of advice: do not bet your house on a single bet. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t bet more than 5% of your bankroll on one selection. Before we get going, here is a quick review of the performance of this year’s NFL picks: 5 STARS: 2-0 record 4 STARS: 4-2-1 record 3 STARS: 6-7 record 2 STARS: 1-4 record 1 STAR: 4-2 record OVERALL: 17-15-1 record (a 53.1% win rate) While the overall winning percentage is decent, notice this interesting trend: PICKS RATED 4-5 STARS: 6-2-1 record PICKS RATED 1-2-3 STARS: 11-13 record In other words, the best plays have been hitting at a higher rate. All right, let’s get started! PICK #1 (5 STARS): DENVER BRONCOS +4 AT ATLANTA FALCONS Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The Falcons will be benefiting from three extra days of rest since they played last week’s Thursday night game. Still, I absolutely love the Broncos in this matchup. I even sent an alert to my mailing list subscribers and my Facebook/Twitter followers as early as Monday to let them know I was taking Denver. At the time, I bet the Broncos +4 points at -105 odds. I was convinced the line would only deteriorate as the week would progress and so far I’ve been right. At the time of writing (Wednesday morning), Pinnacle now has Denver +4 at -113 odds, while many bookies have dropped their line to 3.5. I believe it might even go as low as 3 points. Despite some key injuries on defense, Denver remains very solid on that side of the ball. They have lost Jurrell Casey, Mike Purcell and Von Miller. Still, their 11 starters have an average 2020 ProFootballFocus grades of 68.3, while the league average is 61.6. They have a much better defense than Atlanta’s. On offense, you might want to give the edge to the Falcons, though. However, Calvin Ridley is on the wrong side of questionable due to a foot injury he suffered last week. He is a big part of their offense. The big question is how Drew Lock will perform this Sunday. He had a good first outing against the Titans. He got hurt in Week #2 and had two straight disappointing games upon his return. Indeed, he did not throw a single TD pass versus four picks in those two matchups. Last week, trailing 24-to-3 early in the third quarter, it looked like Lock would finish with another poor performance, but he threw 3 TD passes in the second half to seal a stunning 31-30 comeback win over the Chargers. This game will certainly boost his confidence, and facing a suspect Falcons secondary should also help. A few interesting trends: The Broncos are 4-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last five games as road underdogs; The Falcons are 0-4 ATS over their past four matches as home favorites. Final note: it would help the Broncos if the coaching staff realized that Phillip Lindsay is a superior running back than Melvin Gordon. Give him more touches for crying out loud! Lindsay has rushed for over 1,000 yards both in 2018 and 2019, while averaging between 4.5 and 6.4 yards per carry in each of his three years in the NFL. Meanwhile, Gordon averages 4.2 yards per rush and he doesn’t look as explosive. I know that Gordon was given a fat contract, but you need to put your best players on the field if you want to win! PICK #2 (3 STARS): WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM -3 VS NEW YORK GIANTS First of all, I tend to back favorites coming off their bye week, as they held a 98-60-5 ATS record during a four-year span. Washington will be much more rested than New York. Not only are they coming off their bye, but the Giants fought hard against the Bucs last Monday night, which means they are getting one less day than usual to game plan and to rest for this upcoming divisional matchup. Notice that Washington will be at home for a third consecutive week, and also a fifth time in six weeks! Their lone road game during this time period was in New York, which wasn’t a long trip. Speaking of making a trip to New York, do I need to remind you that I love betting teams that have lost the first meeting between two division rivals? Back in Week 6, the Giants won a close call by a 20-to-19 score against Washington. At times, Daniel Jones looks like a franchise quarterback. He makes good throws and you start thinking he is the future of this organization. And then he makes dumb mistakes that leaves you scratching your head. He just doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes! He is a turnover machine. I like what Kyle Allen has done this year. He has thrown four TD passes versus just one interception. Granted, he faced the Giants and the Cowboys, which are not among the league’s best defenses, but he still did his job. He has also completed close to 69% of his passes, which is impressive. He seems to have a good connection with Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas. The Giants have beaten the spread on five of their last seven matchups in Washington, though. Still, I’m going with Washington. According to PFF grades, Washington has a slightly better defense, and a much better offensive line. PICK #3 (2 STARS): SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -2.5 AT BUFFALO BILLS It is very rare that I bet against the same team three weeks in a row, but that happens to be the case here. I am fading the Bills once again, the team that made me win my biggest wager ever last season (over 6.5 regular season wins). I have nothing against Buffalo; I just go where the value is. In this case, I think getting Seattle to lay just 2.5 points is good value. The Bills defense has been a huge disappointment this season, and they have not done much better than Seattle’s unit. Buffalo has allowed less points per game, but the average PFF grades of the 11 Seattle defensive starters stands at 63.7 versus 58.4 for Buffalo. Based on those figures, it’s hard to claim that the Bills defense is clearly superior to Seattle’s. On offense, no one is doubting the fact that the Seahawks are more powerful. They have the better quarterback for sure. At wide receiver, Buffalo has a good trio with Diggs-Brown-Beasley, but in my opinion Lockett and Metcalf are more dominant. Also, Seattle’s running game has been more convincing, although Buffalo’s ground game finally got going against the Patriots last week. Finally, the offensive lines are fairly comparable; I might even give a small edge to Seattle here. The Seahawks are 7-1 ATS on the road when facing a team with a winning record. However, they have been a losing bet against the spread in their last four matchups on turf. Meanwhile, the Bills are 3-8 ATS in their past 11 games as home underdogs. Even though the Seahawks will be playing an early Sunday game as a West Coast team, I’m taking them as 2.5-point favorites. UNOFFICIAL PICKS Last week, many people told me they appreciated the fact that I added unofficial picks to my weekly write-up. So back by popular demand, here are some leans: Colts +2.5 vs Ravens (I came close from making it an official one-star pick, but didn’t pull the trigger. Philip Rivers scares me a little bit. The Colts defense against the run ranks 2nd in the NFL in terms of yards-per-carry average, which matches up well against Baltimore. The Ravens are 0-4 ATS in their last four trips in Indy, and hold an overall 1-10 ATS record over the past 11 meetings with the Colts. Many players from Baltimore won’t practice this week after being in close contact with Marlon Humphrey, who was diagnosed with covid-19); Lions +4 at Vikings (I love betting weaker teams in a divisional road game coming off a big straight up loss. In this case, Detroit lost by 20 points last week. They are looking for revenge after losing both meetings versus Minnesota last year. Kenny Golladay is out, which hurts Detroit’s offense. The Vikings defense did surprisingly well last week against the Packers, despite fielding seven rookies. They might go back to normal and allow tons of yards/points this week); Saints +5.5 at Bucs (Tampa loses one day of preparation due to playing the Monday nighter, but will be looking to avenge a Week 1 loss to those same Saints. New Orleans beat the spread in the last four meetings with Tampa and you cannot ignore the fact that they are 20-6 ATS in their last 26 games as underdogs and 6-2 ATS on grass. The Saints could get both Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas this week); Cards -4.5 vs Dolphins (We did not learn much about Tua last week since Miami’s defense and special teams won the game for them. Their defense has allowed just 11 points per game over the past three games, but I believe they are not that good and will revert to the mean. The Cards are another favorite coming off their bye week and have not had to travel in any of the last three weeks); Under 50 points Broncos-Falcons (this total seems high considering I expect both offenses to have trouble moving the ball on offense); Over 41.5 points Patriots-Jets (if we pretend like all Patriots and Jets games had a total of 41.5, the over would have gone 8-7. However, if you remove games where Cam Newton and Sam Darnold were out due to injuries, this record shoots up to 8-4. Some might argue the under is 7-1 in the last eight meetings between these two clubs, but I’m still backing the over). Best of luck my friend! Professor MJ Twitter https://twitter.com/DavidBeaudoin79 Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/ProfessorMJ https://www.youtube.com/c/ProfessorMJ/featured
Written January 9rd, 2020 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed) The picks went 3-1 last week. Let's stay on the winning track! Minnesota Vikings +7 or San Francisco 49ers -7 ? The 49ers got a much-needed bye week, thanks to a goal-line stand in the final moments of last regular season game against the Seahawks. The additional rest will allow San Francisco’s defense to get a boost, with the return of Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford and Jaquiski Tartt. Let’s face the reality: the Niners defense did not dominate nearly as much in the second half of the season. In the first seven games, San Francisco’s defense allowed an average of 11 points per game. That number exploded to 26 points per game during the final nine contests. Part of this steep raise can be attributed to the strength of opposition, but we’re still talking about a huge spike! The weakest link on the Niners defense is when it comes to stopping the run. They finished 17th in the NFL in terms of rushing yards allowed per game. The bad news is Minnesota excels at running the ball. Dalvin Cook looked fast and fresh last week in New Orleans after sitting out the last two regular season games. Both quarterbacks finished with similar passing completion rates, passing yards and TD passes. The one difference lied in the number of interceptions thrown: 13 for Garoppolo versus just 6 for Cousins. I was impressed with Minnesota’s defensive line last week. They pressured Drew Brees all game long, and pretty much shut down the running game (except some unconventional runs by Taysom Hill, which is unlikely to happen against the Niners). Both teams have a well-balanced attack and a stout defense. I expect a hard-fought game, where the Niners will come on top by a close margin. For this reason, I’m taking the Vikings +7 points in San Francisco. Tennessee Titans +9.5 or Baltimore Ravens -9.5 ? The Titans defeated the defending Super Bowl champions last week by beating the Patriots 20-to-13. The line for this game opened at 10, but dropped to 9.5 since then. Let me tell you right away that I’m going with the Ravens laying 9.5 points. It’s easy to get excited over the great win by Tennessee last week, and the amazing performance by running back Derrick Henry. However, don’t forget the Titans got a 9-7 record this year, compared to 14-2 for Baltimore. Tennessee lost games against the Jaguars, the Broncos and the Panthers this season. They can be great at time, and bad at others. I’m betting it will be an off day for the Titans this weekend against a Baltimore team that is riding a 12-game winning streak. Did you know Ryan Tannehill led the league in passer rating? Still, for some reason I don’t trust him too much. Against a stingy pass defense last week, he struggled quite a bit. He completed just 8 passes out of 15 for a total of 72 yards. That’s not reassuring. The Ravens will focus on stopping the run, and dare Tannehill to beat them. I don’t think it’s going to end well for the Titans. These two teams met in Tennessee last season. I know the rosters were fairly different, but the Ravens won 21-0, a game in which Derrick Henry rushed for just 21 yards on seven carries. The Ravens finished the season with more than 200 rushing yards per game on average, a feat that had never been accomplished before. Lamar Jackson showed he can throw too; over his last eight games, he threw 25 touchdown passes versus a single pick. That’s impressive! One final telling statistic for you: the Ravens beat their opponents by at least 10 points in eight of their final 10 games. That included meetings with some very strong teams. I’m betting Baltimore -9.5 points. Houston Texans +9.5 or Kansas City Chiefs -9.5 ? The Chiefs seem to be peaking at the right time. After starting the season with a 6-4 record, they concluded with six straight victories. All of them occurred with a margin of at least 7 points! Meanwhile, it seems difficult to trust this Texans’ team. They are very inconsistent, as shown by their playoff win against Buffalo last week. They started slow by trailing 16-to-0 and rallied to win in overtime. Also, their negative point differential of -7 during the regular season is a shame for a division champion! The revenge factor goes in favor of K.C. since Houston pulled off the upset at Arrowhead back in Week #6. The Chiefs led 17-to-3 after one quarter in this game; they won’t let them off the hook this time around. Both QBs threw for exactly 26 TD passes. However, Watson was the victim of 12 interceptions versus just 5 for Patrick Mahomes. Another key argument is the defensive side of the ball. Houston’s defense was not very good; they finished 28th in terms of total yards allowed per game. As a comparison, the Chiefs defense finished 17th in that category, but they improved dramatically over the second half of the season. Indeed, they allowed just 11.5 points per game during their last six games. Therefore, I’m going with the Chiefs -9.5 points. Seattle Seahawks +4.5 or Green Bay Packers -4.5 ? The final meeting of the weekend involves two fierce competitors at quarterback: Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. Based on the point spread, it should be the closest game of the weekend. The Seahawks have been plagued with injuries at the running back position, and also on the offensive line. However, they might get a couple of guys back: Duane Brown and Mike Iupati. With “Beast Mode” getting accustomed to being back on the field, Seattle will try to mimic what the Lions did to the Packers a couple of weeks ago, a game in which they racked up 171 rushing yards. I’m going to take the Seahawks and the points in this game, even though Seattle is 0-5-1 in their last six meetings at Lambeau Field. To me, the Packers passing offense relies too much on Davante Adams. Seattle seems to have more weapons with Tyler Lockett, Jacob Hollister and the emergence of rookie D.K. Metcalf, who looked like a beast in Philly last week! On Green Bay’s side, Lazard, Valdes-Scantling and Jimmy Graham are too inconsistent. The Packers have the better defense, though, especially with the Smiths (Preston and Za’Darius). Still, we’re talking about evenly matched teams. I can see this game ending on the final drive with either team moving on to the NFC Championship game. Under this setting, I’m taking the underdogs: Seattle +4.5.