Earlier this week my editor asked me why I continue to write these “Fading Kevin Wheeler” columns now that I’m 20-31-1 on the season.
Well, there are three reasons:
1) I’m an idiot. Pure, 100% stupid.
2) I hate myself.
3) I love our 101sports.com readers so much that I couldn’t just pull this column because then they wouldn’t have an opportunity to continue fading my picks and turning those losers into pure, hard cash.
Eagles @ Ravens
Philadelphia has major offensive line issues. Lane Johnson is still serving a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs and now the Eagles are down to their fifth option at right tackle. Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Matt Tobin are both hurt, and the team could also be without Allen Babre, who didn’t practice on Thursday due to a hamstring injury.
Right guard Brandon Brooks is also dealing with an anxiety condition that forced him to miss two of the last three games, so good luck trying to move the ball against the No. 4 defense in the league, Eagles. Baltimore is 7-6 on the season but 5-2 at home, winning by an average margin of 9.1 points per game over that seven-game stretch. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is 1-6 on the road and 1-6 against the spread away from Lincoln Financial Field this season. This feels like a lot of points to lay on a team that has had trouble moving the ball on offense this season, but the number doesn’t scare me.
Wheeler: Eagles +5.5
Stalter: Ravens -5.5
Patriots @ Broncos
Wheeler is smart and I’ll tell you why: While I continue to bet against heavy public teams this season, he simply backs the better team and he’s often proven right. It used to be that Joe Public got his ass handed to him consistently on Sundays, but Joe Public has raked all year. New England? Big public team, 10-3 against the spread this season. Dallas? Big public team this year, 9-4 against the spread. Pittsburgh? Big Public team, is 8-5 against the number. Oakland? Big public team this year, is 8-5 ATS.
That said, let’s re-visit reason No. 1 as to why I keep writing this column: I’m an idiot. So the Patriots are only laying a field goal against a Broncos team that can’t stop the run and is as dangerous offensively as a box of kittens. Why not back New England? Eighty-three percent of public bettors are laying the points with the Patriots on Sunday. That’s a massive amount of backing for New England. This is that too-good-to-be-true game that Wheeler and the public have won all season. The balance has to shift back to the sharps at some point. The Patriots are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven trips to Denver. Give me the home dog.
Wheeler: Patriots -3
Stalter: Broncos +3
Bucs @ Cowboys
The league may have caught up to Dak Prescott, who hasn’t thrown for 200 yards in any of his three games. He also faced two of the better defenses in the league in two of those games, having gone on the road to Minnesota and New York the past two weeks. The Cowboys still need to lock down the NFC East crown and secure the No. 1 seed in the conference. This line feels way too high given how well the Bucs have played of late, but I like backing home teams coming off a loss. Dallas rebounds with a statement win at home on Sunday.
Wheeler: Bucs +7
Stalter: Cowboys -7
Colts @ Vikings
There was a report on Friday that Adrian Peterson will make his return on Sunday. Granted, he may only touch the ball 8-10 times but his presence alone with lift a Minnesota team that still isn’t out of contention for a wild card spot in the NFC. The Colts had their opportunity to get back into the AFC South race and blew it with an ugly loss to the struggling Texans at home last Sunday. Now they have to deal with a potentially rejuvenated Vikings team that might also get safety Harrison Smith back from injury.
Wheeler: Colts +4
Stalter: Vikings -4
Panthers @ Redskins
The Panthers have nothing to play for on Monday night, while the Redskins are fighting for their playoff lives. Of course, Carolina had nothing to play for a week ago and manhandled San Diego. Cam Newton isn’t going to roll over and allow Josh Norman to get revenge on his former team. The Panthers might win this one outright (they’re 4-1 against the spread in their last five games in Washington, while the underdog is 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings between these two teams), but I like them to cover nonetheless.
Wheeler: Redskins -6.5
Stalter: Panthers +6.5