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Vegas Martin’s Week 5 NFL Bets

Posted by in NFL Picks on October 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

This week is a tough one in the NFL. There will be a lot of tight games. I wanted to come out and find a solid home team to take, but I didn’t really like any of the home favorites. The Saints are a 3-point favorite against the Vikings, but I’m worried about that banged up Saints defense against Adrian Peterson. The Panthers spread is too high for me and I still have the Chiefs win over the Broncos fresh in my head. I’m not about to test the 49ers over the Pats or Texans over the Colts. The Cardinals lost Anquan Bolden, so I’ll stay away from them. I’m not sold on the Giants covering against the Seahawks without Plaxico Burress. The Jaguars may be a good home team to take, but I don’t like their chances against a tough Pittsburgh defense. The Ravens/Titans is too close to call. After eliminating those games, the two that I like the most are the San Diego Chargers -6.5 and Chicago Bears -3.5 over the Lions.

My big game of the week is the Chargers -6.5 over the Miami Dolphins, which I put 10 units on. I am a little nervous after I saw 2/5 of ESPN’s panel pick the Dolphins, but 9/10 picked the Chargers on this expert panel. Everyone has the New England game fresh in their mind. Let’s set a few things straight. Matt Cassel is not Philip Rivers and the carousel of mediocre backs (LaMont Jordan, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk) that New England has are not LaDanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. Phillip Rivers has the 2nd highest passer rating in the league and Matt Cassel is 15th. Rivers has 10 TD passes, Cassel has 2. Rivers is averaging 9.3 yards per attempt (ranked 1st), Cassel is averaging 6.2 YPA (ranked 25th). Rivers has 16 20+ yards plays, Cassel has 4. Rivers has been sacked twice, Cassel has been sacked 10 times. I could go on on, but I think that’s enough.

The Dolphins have a very weak secondary (ranked 26th) and Cassel doesn’t have an arm, so that takes the deep ball away, and the Pats can’t be expected to do anything offensively by dinking and dunking the ball down the field. The Chargers are 1st in PPG, the Patriots are 28th. The Dolphins gave up 293 yards against the Jets and 445 yards yards (361 passing) to the Cardinals. The theme: both those teams can throw the deep ball, which is what the Dolphins have struggled against. All 31 of the Cardinals points came by the 4th quarter in that game to boot. The Chargers should have more than enough offense to take down the Dolphins and cover in comfortable fashion. The Dolphins have been generating sacks (10), but Rivers has only been sacked twice this year. With the Dolphins 26th passing defense that’s allowed 6 passing TDs (2 from Favre, 3 from Warner, 1 from Cassel) in 3 games, allowed QBs to complete 68.7% of their passes against them (ranked 30th), and managed only 1 INT, I like the Philip Rivers vs. Miami defense matchup.

Ronnie Brown had an exceptional game against the Patriots, but I say he doesn’t repeat that type of performance. In week 2, he had 11 touches against the Cardinals and only managed 25 yards and don’t mistake the Cardinals run defense (ranked 14th) for the Bears, Ravens, or Eagles. New England has the 25th ranked run defense that allows over 140 YPG. That’s why Ronnie Brown broke out that week. The Chargers are 13th against the run, allowing just 100 YPG. Last week, the Chargers held Darren McFadden to 20 yards on 7 attempts and Michael Bush only managed 48 yards on 14 attempts. What’s more impressive is that the Chargers have only allowed 1 rushing TD all season.

In my power rankings I would put the Chargers second behind the Cowboys and the Dolphins are in the mid 20’s. This is my game of the week, but there are some naysayers calling for the Dolphins upset, so be warned.

I also like the Chicago Bears -3.5 over the Detroit Lions, which I’m putting 6 units on. The Bears are 11th in points allowed, the Lions are 32nd. The Bears are 16th in points scored and the Lions are 26th. First, the Lions can forget about running on this defense and we all know about their amazing receivers, but Kitna is playing banged up and his offensive line is useless, so I expect the Bears to get a lot of pressure on him, hit him, get him rattled, and force him into making turnovers. Detroit’s pass offense is still only ranked 16th, so they’re not necessarily setting the NFL on fire with their passing game. The most alarming stat for the Lions is their rushing defense. Their rushing defense is ranked 32nd, allowing 207.7 yards per game. That’s right, in 3 games, the Lions have allowed more than 600 rushing yards. We all know the Bears love running the football. The Bears are ranked 10th rushing with 133.5 YPG and that includes a game against the Eagles 1st ranked rushing defense. You may say the Lions are due for a win, but I’m not buying it. The Lions may get their win in week 5 against the Texans, but I don’t think it’ll happen this week. Not if they can’t stop the run. As long as the Bears protect the football, I don’t see the Lions coming out of this one with the W. Their offense is one-dimensional and their defense is lousy.

WARNING/UPDATE: Bears WR Brandon Lloyd will be out, which hurts the Bears offensively, but I expect them to pound the rock with Matt Forte. WR Marty Booker is also questionable. The Bears 2 starting CBs Vasher and Tillman are listed as questionable. With the injuries at WR and in the secondary, I’m a little concerned how the Bears can do with these injuries. Assuming it’s just Lloyd that misses this game, I can still see them covering, but they’ll need their starting corners if they want to stop Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams.  Good news if you took the Bears: the Lions starting RG and RT are doubtful, so Kitna may be ambushed from the right side.  Roy Williams also has a banged up knee, but is probable.

My final play of the week is a 1-unit underdog parlay that pays 5:1. I’m parlaying the 49ers and Buccaneers moneyline. Everyone likes the Pats to rebound, but Cassel still sucks and the Pats can’t stop the run, which means Frank Gore should have a field day. With the 49ers at home, I think this one has upset alert on it. I also like the Bucs to upset the Broncos. The Bucs defense has been playing phenomenal. They’re getting pressure on the QB and generating turnovers. The Broncos defense should lose this one for the Broncos. The Broncos have serious defensive issues and Earnest Graham, Warrick Dunn, and company have been doing a tremendous job at moving the chains. In fact, the Bucs have the 7th ranked offense and the Broncos have the 30th ranked defense. I say the Bucs control the clock, play solid defense, and stun the Broncos on their home turf.

Vegas Martin’s 2008-2009 NFL Season Record:

– Straight Up: 38-21 (.644)
– Against the Spread: 32-26-1 (.552)
– My “Spreads to Take” Record Against the Spread (ATS): 12-9 (.571)
– Betting Units: +5
— Monday Night Football Record ATS: 4-1 (.800)

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