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Sunday, 17 November 2013

TPL Picks: Week 11 - Game of the Week + Spread Bets

While the real world continues to meddle and prevent us putting out pieces during the week we can at least still provide our readers with our weekly picks piece, this time including a game preview!

Last week didn't exactly go to plan with out picks, none of us went over .500 as the Jags and Bucs claimed their first wins of the year while Toby's No. 1 team Indianapolis were embarrassed by St. Louis. But as least Toby was once again 2-1 in his spread bets!

This week sees three monster games, and all at different times so we can sit and enjoy them all (well, apart from Monday Night where Jon Gruden will once again ruin it for everyone). The 49ers return to the scene of their Superbowl loss as they take on the Saints at 4.25pm ET while New England travel to Carolina to face the best defense in the NFL. But our game of the week is in Denver where the Broncos will host the AFC West leading and undefeated Kansas City Chiefs...





Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) @ Denver Broncos (8-1)
Sunday 8:30pm ET

Let's start with the main thing, Peyton Manning's ankle. For those who didn't see the end of Denver's game against San Diego last week, Manning was hobbling around like you wouldn't believe. It looked awful and put his health in doubt for this week, but he's been practicing all week and because his high ankle sprain is on his right ankle, which isn't his plant leg, he can play through it. What it does do though is hamper his ability to climb the pocket and slide to avoid the rush, which he'll need to do against Kansas, because what's going to be coming after him is a nightmare for any QB.

Kansas boast one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL with outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, both are capable of beating great tackles and utterly abusing bad ones. With Ryan Clady injured the Broncos have been starting Chris Clark at left tackle and despite an ok first few games he's looked decidedly shaky recently, including against the Colts where Robert Mathis beat him to force a safety and get multiple QB hits on Manning. With these two coming off the edge consistently Manning is going to need to move up in the pocket, if he can't because of his ankle then he'll be taking shots all night, and if he can then he might be getting hit there anyway. 2nd year nose tackle Dontari Poe has been in great form this year and not just in the run game, he's been able to push the pocket and prevent QB's stepping up to get away from the outside rushers.

With that kind of pass rush the Broncos will have to get the ball out quicker than they normally might, which means we'll probably see a lot of Wes Welker this week. How the Chiefs cover him will be interesting, the Colts gave the league a blueprint for slowing the Broncos down which was to play aggressive man coverage on the outside, but who do you put on who? The Chiefs have Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith as the recognisable names at corner, and both are very good, but could they handle Welker out of the slot? They also have rookie sensation Marcus Cooper who was a 7th round pick by the 49ers before being cut by them, KC picked him up and he's been playing brilliantly for them, but do you trust him in man coverage against Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker or Eric Decker? It's impossible to be certain if they'll assign each corner to follow a receiver, or pass them across the field and allow Flowers to keep playing the left side and Smith the right but we know Peyton Manning eats up zone defenses, they Chiefs simply have to play man coverage all day and hope they can get to Manning before the coverage breaks down.

On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs offense has been playing vanilla all season. Whether this has been a play to keep things back for these two games against the Broncos or simply because that's all they can do we don't know, but what we do know is that their game plan will feature a heavy dose of Jamaal Charles. He's been averaging 24 touches a game and has found the endzone 8 times this year, already tied for a career high. The problem for the Chiefs is that best way to attack the Broncos defense is through the air. Denver has the 9th best rushing defense (by DVOA) and a lot of that has come without Von Miller, who's been getting better with each game since his return, conversely they have just the 24th best pass defense. The Chiefs ought to resist the temptation to go pass-crazy in the classic "we have to keep up with Peyton" mindset thanks to their defense, but it's important that they score points here. The Colts defense played the Broncos well but still gave up 33 points, the fewest they've scored in a game is the 28 they put up last week on San Diego. Which means Kansas are likely going to have to match the season-high 31 points they scored on the Giants in week 4. Perhaps they could do this by using their $50 million receiver Dwayne Bowe a little more, but Bowe has a terrible career against Champ Bailey and even this current iteration of Champ should be ok against Bowe.

Despite their record the Chiefs are underdogs by more than a touchdown, which to be honest sounds about right, they're going to need to do something special to beat the Broncos. Maybe Reid creates a few possessions by going for 4th downs and using onside kicks, and just maybe they do have a few tricks up their sleeves. I don't doubt this will be a close game for a long time, but come the 4th Quarter I think the Broncos will be able to pull away.


Toby's Spread Picks (Last Week: 2-1, Overall: 10-16)


Cleveland (+5.5) over Cincinnati

Joe Haden should have a great battle against AJ Green and his presence will limit Dalton and the passing game. The Bengals defense has taken a beating recently and is missing it's 2 best players. I still think they'll win, but it'll be close.

Detroit (-3) over Pittsburgh

The Steelers stink and the Lions are going to be full of confidence. Calvin Johnson is unstoppable while Suh and Fairley should have a field day against that O-Line.

New England (+3) over Carolina

The Panthers are a terrible match up for New England. They can pound the ball on the ground, have a mobile QB and a set of linebackers who should be able to run with Gronk. But at the same time the Pats are great coming off their bye week, Danny Amendola is as healthy as he's been all year and Brady was zipping the ball around again 2 weeks ago. Also Aqib Talib is fit and will shadow Steve Smith all day.

     


Toby Durant 
Phil Gaskin 
Gur Samuel 
Colts @ Titans

Colts 
Colts 
Colts 
Jets @ Bills

Jets 
Jets
Jets
Ravens @ Bears

Bears 
Bears
Ravens
Browns @ Bengals

Bengals 
Bengals
Bengals
Redskins @ Eagles

Eagles 
Eagles
Eagles
Lions @ Steelers

Lions 
Lions
Lions
Falcons @ Bucs

Bucs 
Falcons
Falcons
Cardinals @ Jaguars

Cardinals 
Cardinals
Cardinals
Raiders @ Texans

Texans 
Texans
Raiders
Chargers @ Dolphins

Chargers 
Chargers
Chargers
49ers @ Saints

Saints 
Saints
Saints
Packers @ Giants

Giants
Packers
Giants
Vikings @ Seahawks

Seahawks 
Seahawks
Seahawks
Chiefs @ Broncos

Broncos 
Broncos
Broncos
Patriots @ Panthers



Patriots 
Patriots
Panthers
Last Week: 

5-9 
7-7 
7-7 
Overall: 
89-57 
87-59 
92-54 

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