The Degenerate: Week 17, The Friday Pick (On Thursday): Getting Exotic

So, we can finally put the 2011 Eagles season to bed. It’s over. They did all they could down the stretch, but it was too little, too late. The Eagles ended the season with a nice winning streak but their problems went all the way back to the beginning of the season.

Eagle fans all have their own opinion about when it fell apart. Some people say Week 2 at Atlanta, when Vick got hurt and the Eagles blew a lead and went to 1-1. Others might say the Giants game, where the pass defense was exposed by Eli Manning (Victor Cruz??). But the moment that sticks out for me is Week 4, they have the 49ers on the ropes, leading 20-3 at halftime. But the 49ers come out in the 2nd half and thanks to a series of miscues by the Eagles, San Francisco pulls out a 24-23 win. We didn’t know at the time that the 49ers were actually a pretty good team, but that loss dropped the Eagles to 1-3 and the panic started to overtake the fan base.

We can look back at the 2011 season and dissect it 100 different ways, but bottom line it was a disappointment. High expectations and nothing to show for it. Ending the season on a four game winning streak is a nice consolation prize, but who really cares if they finish 8-8? I don’t.

Fire Andy? Probably not, we'll have him back in 2012.

Week 17 is always a crazy week for NFL gambling. You have some teams who are playing for division titles or playoff seeding, while a bunch of teams are just playing out their season and hoping to escape in one piece. So how can you handicap a game when both teams have nothing to play for? The short answer is you can’t.

The marquee game this week is the 8pm Sunday night game, Dallas v. NY Giants. Winner will win the NFC East, loser goes home. It can’t get more dramatic than that. On the opposite side we have our hometown Eagles hosting the Redskins. Both teams are eliminated from the playoff race, so neither has any real reason to give 100%. Will Washington come in and try to get some revenge against the Eagles? After all, it was their Week 6 loss to the Eagles that started the Redskins free fall from NFC East leaders to NFC East basement. But honestly if it wasn’t the Eagles then someone else would have done it. This Redskins team is not very good, and if you have to look to John Beck halfway through the season to jump start your offense, then you are in trouble.

The Eagles could have some motivation this week. Yes, it’s been a disappointing season (to put it mildly) but a win on Sunday will move them to 8-8 and also give them a 5-1 record against NFC East division teams.

Stephen McGee helped us hit our 'Christmas Eve Parlay'

But you know what? I have no idea what will happen. It looks like LeSean McCoy will be sitting, Asante Samuel is already OUT. What about Mike Vick? He’s been banged up this season, will he play 4 quarters of a meaningless game? Or will we see what Mike Kafka can do? Does DeSean Jackson put out 100%, or is he saving his body for free-agency? Will Jason Babin play the whole game and try to get the sack record? Will his over-aggressive play hurt, or help, the defense as a whole?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, and I’m not going to lay 10 points to find out. There are alot of other good matchups on the card this week, so we can look past the Eagles / Redskins game and find value elsewhere.

In Week 17 I only like to bet on motivated teams. Teams that know a win will mean something, and if they are playing a team who has already been eliminated then that makes it even more enticing.

At Thanksgiving we gave out the “Thanksgiving Threesome” (we went 2-1), last week we gave out the “Christmas Eve Parlay” (Eagles and UNDER – winner), and this week we are keeping the holiday theme alive with another exotic bet the “New Years Teaser”. I know Spike hates teasers, even more than he hates parlays but hey, this is a special occasion. So let’s close out the 2011 regular season with a winner.

Bet #1: (a.k.a. The “not a tease, more like a sure thing” pick)

Three Team Teaser:
Atlanta Falcons -2 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Francisco 49ers -.5 over St Louis Rams
New England Patriots -1 over Buffalo Bills

So I’m looking at three teams that still have a reason to play to win on Sunday, and they are playing against teams who are already eliminated from the playoff race. These motivated teams are laying high numbers (10+ in all cases) but with a 10 point swing on a 3 team team teaser these line will all drop below a field goal, so basically we are looking for just three winners. I think we will get it.

In case you didn’t already know, a teaser is a type of bet that gives you points to use in your favor. For this 3 team teaser, we are getting 10 points on each game. Since we are going with all favorites, we are getting 10 points taken off of the line. Sounds great, right? The downside is that it usually has higher juice (lose $60 for every $50 bet). So a $100 bet will lose $120. And all 3 teams have to cover the new spread in order for you to win your bet. Oh, and if any of the games push (or tie), then you lose the whole bet. So all those points come at a price.

Atlanta Falcons -2 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We all saw that beating that the Falcons took on Monday night against the Saints, Drew Brees was out to set a passing record and he didn’t let the Falcons pass defense get in the way. But this week Atlanta gets a whole different animal, the 4-11 Tampa Bay Bucs.

This is probably Raheem Morris’ last game as Bucs head coach, his team has lost 9 in a row, and they are 1-8 ATS in that span. That’s not a good resume to have to explain at annual review time.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons are looking to end the season on a high note.

The Bucs offense is 25th overall, and the defense is even worse at 31st. I don’t see how Tampa can hang with the Falcons who are coming off a bad loss to the Saints and who are looking for a positive end to their regular season.

I don’t think the Falcons want to limp into the playoffs on a two game losing streak. They are still playing for seeding, if Atlanta wins and Detroit loses then Atlanta moves to the #5 seed and plays the NFC East winner. If they end up as #6 seed they will either make a return trip to New Orleans where they just got slapped around, or take a trip out west to play the 49ers. So they need help to get that #5 seed and play the NFC East winner, but the first step would be to get a win on Sunday.

I expect the combination of “we need to bounce back  from an ugly loss” + homefield advantage will get them a win. HC Mike Smith could start resting starters if Detroit pulls out to a big lead against Green Bay but even if they cycle out some first stringers I still think they can get it done.

Let’s say Atlanta gets some revenge from a Week 3 loss and knocks off the Buccaneers. Atlanta wins 30-14.

San Francisco 49ers -.5 over St Louis Rams

Whenever you are one of the teams in the Week 17 “what team is the worst in the NFL” argument, you know you are bad.

Kellen Clemens vs. the 49ers Defense? I'll take the Niners.

St Louis is the worst team in the NFL (in my opinion). It took them a while to steal the title from the Colts, but coming into Week 17 they have taken over the  (not really) coveted #32 Overall Team Efficiency ranking at FootballOutsiders.com. St Louis has lost six games in a row, they’ve been shut out twice in their last four games, they are only averaging 11 points per game this season, and QB Sam Bradford is probably not playing this weekend. Besides that, they’re golden.

All you need to know about this game is that the Rams are #32 in offensive efficiency, and they are going against the 49ers, who come in at #2 in defensive efficiency. So, there is a very good chance that the Rams get shut out. I mean, the 49ers shut them out in Week 13, 26-0, why can’t they do it again?

The 49ers are also playing to secure a bye week. If they win they get a week off to rest up. If they lose they could be hosting a game next weekend.

That is some good motivation.

The line is 10.5, and the game is in St Louis. I’m not comfortable laying that many points on the road, but when we tease it down to basically a pick ‘em game, I’m all over the 49ers.

I think the 49ers defense will continue to dominate and shut down the Rams. I’m saying 49ers win 24-6.

New England Patriots -1 over Buffalo Bills

Remember back in Week 3 when the Bills were riding high? They were 3-0 and they were coming off a huge win over New England. My how times have changed. Fast forward to Week 17, the Bills are 6-9, and 1-6 in their last 7 games. And now they travel to Foxboro for a rematch with the Patriots.

Bill Belechik remembers that loss. You know he does. And his team is playing Week 17 to lock up the #1 seed in the AFC, homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Brady has the #1 seed, a model wife and he is working towards an NFL passing record. What about you?

Yeah I know, the Patriots defense sucks, #32 overall. Wow, and they’re still 12-3? Yeah, because they have the #2 ranked offense, Tom Brady is putting up yards like no one else (except Drew Brees) and the Patriots have found a way to win without having to rely on a shutdown defense.

Add into this equation that Tom Brady is still in the hunt to break Dan Marino’s single season passing record. Drew Brees may have gotten the headlines on Monday night by being the first to break Marino’s record, but Brady is only 190 yards behind him. And I think if it takes Brady throwing for 500 yards to break the record, then he will try to do it.

Buffalo is coming off a nice win over Denver last week, they shut down Tebow and broke a 6 game losing streak. But a win over Tebow isn’t as impressive as it may have been a few weeks ago. And don’t forget, the Patriots beat them the week before, so let’s call that a draw.

I hate the Patriots but this is the type of game where I love to bet on them. Similar to the “what about us?” motivation when they played Tebow two weeks ago, Belechik and the boys are probably sitting back saying “yo, we’re the #1 team in the AFC, Brady is close to the single season passing record, and all everyone is talking about is Drew Brees?”

I think they come out big and prove that they are a team to be reckoned with. I’ll say the Patriots get fired up, lock up the #1 seed in the AFC, get revenge for Week 3 and knock off the Bills. Pats win 34-24.

Enjoy your New Years Eve and the Mummers Parade. And let’s get a winner to end the regular season!

Fantasource

 

 

 

We’ll be back next week with a breakdown of the NFL playoffs, maybe some playoff prop bets and some Wildcard weekend picks!

Season Record: 22-17. You can see all my picks for the 2011 season documented here.

Questions, comments, links to share, etc… You can get in touch with me multiple ways:

Follow me on Twitter: @Fantasource
Email me: fantasource@gmail.com
Or just let me know your thoughts in the comments

 

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