After a 4-2 week three weeks ago, I decided to complete crap down my own leg and go 0-6 two weeks ago. The beating was so severe I skipped last week’s picks to regroup and re-focus. (Actually my wife Kristen and I attended a wedding in San Francisco so I was traveling, but the weekend off was needed either way.)
Wheeler now has a commanding 16-24-1 lead on me and the first signs of shame have set in (I see he had a losing weekend last week when I was off – thanks, gambling gods). I’m not giving up, but I’m going to need a pretty big shovel to get out of the hole I’ve dug myself.
The good news for you? Here are several picks you can fade with confidence.
Cardinals @ Vikings
Both of these teams have major injury issues, but I like the Vikings to finally rebound after losing four straight games.
Sam Bradford has excelled at home this season, throwing six touchdown passes without an interception while posting a 111.3 rating in four games. After having a few hiccups over the last few weeks, I’m also betting that Minnesota’s defense plays well on Sunday and hey, now that Blair Walsh is gone maybe they’ll convert an extra point or two.
Wheeler: Cardinals +2
Stalter: Vikings -2
Ravens @ Cowboys
The Cowboys have established themselves as the top team in the NFC and a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They’ve won eight straight, have covered the spread in eight straight, and don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. That said, this is a good spot to take the underdog Ravens. For starters, for any opponent to beat Dallas they first need to slow down the Cowboys’ rushing attack. The Ravens own the No. 1 run defense in the league and are holding opponents to 17.8 points per game (fourth-best in the NFL).
The Cowboys, for all their success, are 5-11-1 against the spread in their last 17 home games. The line feels inflated and the Cowboys are due to lose one at the betting window.
Wheeler: Cowboys -7
Stalter: Ravens +7
Titans @ Colts
The Titans have gained a fair amount of attention over the last few weeks because of the play of Marcus Mariota and their offense. In their last three games, Tennessee has scored 36, 35 and 47 points. They also have had zero success against the Colts and in Indianapolis. The Titans have failed to cover the spread in nine of their last 10 games versus the Colts and are winless at 0-5 at the betting window in their last five games in Indianapolis. Granted, they might be due; the Colts aren’t exactly playing elite football at the moment. But I’ll side with history here and lay the three points.
Wheeler: Titans +3
Stalter: Colts -3
Oklahoma State @ TCU
How the hell is TCU favored by 4.5 points in this game? Makes zero sense. In fact, some books have the Horned Frogs as high as -5. Naturally Wheeler took the points with the better Oklahoma State team, and why wouldn’t he? He’s smart. I’m stupid.
This is the equivalent of jamming a fork in a plugged-in toaster just to see what happens but I’m going to do it. All the money is on OK State but the line is moving in the other direction. Vegas doesn’t make many mistakes and when they do, they’re not obvious like this one. I’ll bet into the movement and jam that fork right into that toaster.
Wheeler: Oklahoma State +4.5
Stalter: TCU -4.5
Iowa @ Illinois
I can’t make a convincing argument from a football standpoint as to why Illinois has a chance in this game, because there isn’t one. That said, this is a prime letdown spot for the Hawkeyes coming off their enormous victory over Michigan last Saturday. The line has already been bet down from 11.5 to 9.5, indicating the heavy money is on the home dog. Iowa is 1-4 against the spread in its last four trips to Champaign while the home team is 7-2 against the number in the last nine meetings between these two teams.
Wheeler: Iowa -9.5
Stalter: Illinois +9.5
Oklahoma @ West Virginia
Wheeler bets against West Virginia every week and since the Mountaineers are just 1-2 against the spread over their last three games, he’s fared well of late. I understand the love for Oklahoma given how good the Sooners have looked offensively, but they haven’t faced a ton of adversity over the past month. On Saturday night it’s supposed to be cold and wet in Morgantown. The Mountaineers have been disrespected and cast aside by the college football playoff committee so they’ll have plenty of motivation to pull off the small upset. Give me the home dog.
Wheeler: Oklahoma -3.5
Stalter: West Virginia +3.5