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Beating the Book: 2009 Beating the Book-Week 3

Chris Liss

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Beating the Book

By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor




Betting Tips

Nine wins is more acceptable, and I feel good about my two best bets, the Jets and Giants, coming in. I really like the slate this week - which has not been a reliable predictor of success in the past - so take that for what it's worth. About half the games came to me right away - Vikings, Titans, Bucs, Bengals, Cardinals, Panthers - and most of the rest fell into place after some thought. I always hesitate to articulate it like this because when games you felt good about go completely wrong, it can shake your confidence. But I'll roll the dice and put it out there nonetheless - this is a minimum 10-win slate, barring tragic and unforeseeable circumstances in several games. (Things like quarterback injuries, swine flu outbreaks, lightning strikes, etc.) Of course, if I have a bad week, I'll redefine "tragic and unforeseeable" to include fumbles, backdoor covers, defensive line injuries and poor effort.


EARLY GAMES

Browns +13.5 at Ravens

These massive lines are usually coin flips to me. It's more fun to take the favorite because you'll often benefit from the early blowout and always have a chance to cover late even if the game is close. But they really do come in about 51 percent of the time for the underdog, so it's just a question of whether that slight edge is worth the trade-off in morale as you watch the games. My preference for stress and misery over calm, detached enjoyment is well documented. Back Cleveland.

Ravens 24 - 13


Giants -7 at Buccaneers

Most readers of this column know I'm a Giants guy, but I don't like the way this game sets up for them, coming off a dramatic win in Dallas against a hated rival. Moreover, the Giants might be without their best player, Justin Tuck, who suffered a shoulder injury. Tom Coughlin is good at keeping the team motivated, but it's human nature to have letdowns against teams you're supposed to beat, and without Tuck, they won't cover the seven in Tampa unless they're sharp or lucky. Back the Bucs.

Giants 20 - 19


Packers -7 at Rams

I had a lot of trouble with this game because I wanted to buy the Packers off the home loss - they could easily go into St. Louis and roll. But the public is thinking what I'm thinking, and it's apparent that no one is really docking Green Bay for its tough start. Back the Rams at home.

Packers 23 - 17


Chiefs +9* at Eagles

Not knowing if any of the Eagles top skill players will play makes this tough, even if we assume my made-up line is close enough. On the one hand, I like Philly at home coming off an embarrassing loss. On the other, the Chiefs dominated the Raiders in yardage and have thus far shown up to play both weeks. There's too much uncertainty here for me to make a serious call, but it's past midnight and time to pick. I won't flip a coin because it screwed me last week on the Bills-Bucs, but I'll just type out both answers and see which one feels right. Take the Chiefs.

Eagles 24 - 16

* no line - made it up


Falcons +4 at Patriots

I have a nagging Patriots hunch which I almost went with, but I'm concerned that's grounded in the mystique associated with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick from years past. And, who knows, maybe five years from now, Matt Ryan and Mike Smith will have won a couple Super Bowls, too. Back the Falcons.

Patriots 30 - 27


49ers +7 at Vikings

Based on the first two games, I'd say the 49ers are a pretty good value, getting a full touchdown against a Vikings team that merely beat the Browns and Lions, and not all that impressively. But past performance does not guarantee future results, and I don't think the 49ers grind-it-out style plays well on the artificial turf - San Francisco could be forced to rely more than it would like on Shaun Hill's arm. Back the Vikings who win easily.

Vikings 27 - 17


Jaguars +3.5 at Texans

Why is this line only three and a half? Shouldn't it be more like six or seven now that Jacksonville has established its doormat status, and Houston's win in Tennessee shows it's a contender? But didn't Jacksonville only lose by two to Indy in Week 1, while Houston was destroyed by the Jets? I'm going to remain agnostic here and predict a close game between two division rivals. Back the Jaguars.

Texans 24 - 23


Redskins -6 at Lions

It's extremely rare for the public to back a home dog, especially one that hasn't won a game since 2007. But people were so disgusted with Washington's two-point home win over St. Louis last week that 73 percent are on the Lions. It's also rare for me to take a road favorite, but I just want the team no one else does. Back Washington.

Redskins 27 - 20


Titans +2.5 at Jets

I'd like this more if it were the full three, but most books I've seen have moved it to 2.5 for now. Still, while the Jets had their way against two powerful offenses with quarterbacks coming off injuries, the Titans are a run-first team with a top-notch offensive line that should neutralize much of New York's aggressiveness up front. And with Chris Johnson, they can still strike for big plays. Moreover, Darrelle Revis, who did such a fine job on Andre Johnson and Randy Moss (the two keys to the Texans' and Pats' offenses, respectively), is wasted on Justin Gage or Nate Washington. The bottom line, Mark Sanchez will face by far his best defense so far and a team desperate to win. Back the Titans who win outright and keep their season alive.

Titans 19 - 16


LATE GAMES

Saints -6 at Bills

The Saints have played well so far, but one game was against the Lions at home, and one was against an Eagles team missing its starting quarterback. It's just not yet clear to me that the 2009 version is fundamentally different from their high-scoring squads of 2007 and 2008. But the line assumes that these Saints are the real deal, and Buffalo is the middling team it usually is. Maybe so, but what if those assumptions are wrong? Then this is a gift. Back the Bills.

Saints 31 - 30


Bears -2 at Seahawks

This is a sucker line, begging the public to take the newly triumphiant Jay Cutler-led Bears against a Seahawks team that got beaten up in San Francisco. But Seattle is a tough place to play with all the crowd noise, and Cutler is mistake prone even without that. Even if Matt Hasselbeck doesn't play (and we doubt he will), we like Seattle. Back the Seahawks.

Seahawks 17 - 16


Steelers -4 at Bengals

Could it be time to buy the Steelers low and sell the Bengals high after their road upset over Green Bay? Maybe if this line were a "pick 'em." But Pittsburgh laying four in Cincy is like the Bengals getting 10 in Pittsburgh, and that doesn't strike me as bargain. Back the Bengals who give the Steelers all they can handle in what's essentially a 50/50 game. Let's call it Cincy outright, but whoever wins, it's ending on a last second field goal. Back the Bengals.

Bengals 20 - 17


Broncos -1.5 at Raiders

I was all set to take the Broncos then read something about how the Raiders easily could be 2-0, and the Broncos 1-1, and in that case, the public wouldn't assume Denver was the better team, and this line would be at least three. Yeah, I get it, but it doesn't resonate. The Chiefs outgained Oakland significantly, and Denver has the better passing game. Moreover, struggling in Cincinnati doesn't look so bad after Week 2. Back the Broncos.

Broncos 21 - 19


Dolphins +6 at Chargers

While the Dolphins played an impressive and entertaining game against the Colts on Monday night, in the end, it seemed like they showcased their weaknesses as much or more than their strengths. Yes, they moved the ball well, but bogged down in the red zone often and were terrible on defense. But the Chargers, too, are a mess without star nose tackle Jamal Williams, a banged up offensive line and a coach who's probably worth a field goal a game to the other team. We'd like to bet against both these teams this week but have to make a choice. When in doubt, take the points. Back Miami.

Chargers 23 - 20


SUNDAY NIGHT

Colts +2 at Cardinals

Far too much was made of Miami's time of possession advantage last week as they got it in part by ushering Peyton Manning and the offense quickly through their end zone. But whatever the reason, Indy's defense spent nearly an extra 15 minutes on the field and now has to travel to Arizona off a short week. The Cardinals are also significantly better at home. Back Arizona.

Cardinals 28 - 21


MONDAY NIGHT

Panthers +9 at Cowboys

I really don't know who Dallas is - a terrible defensive team with an erratic quarterback and no go-to receiver, or an explosive passing team with a great offensive line and a defense that can get to the quarterback. This line presupposes it's the latter, and I'm taking a desperate 0-2 Panthers team on the chance it's something in between. Back Carolina.

Cowboys 27 - 24

We went 9-7 last week to go 15-17 on the season. We were 124-122-10 on the regular season last year. From 1999-2008, we are 1308-1140 - not including ties - (53.4 percent).

Article first appeared 9/23/09