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Against the Spread: 2011 NFL Picks: Week 8

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- If only Tim Tebow would hold a prayer circle for my NFL picks against the spread, I might be able to mount a comeback like the one the Denver Broncos did last weekend.

Through seven weeks, my record against the spread is 13-20 with two ties. My victories last week were on the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets. My losses were on the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions. The Colts pick, at +14, is the worst pick in retrospect, although I still find it hard to argue with the pick.

Tim Tebow, QB of the Denver Broncos

"You could've had the Colts on a 55-point teaser and you still would've lost," jokes Bryan Leonard, a professional sports handicapper with Pregame.com who is also part of the Tuesday Group, a collection of professional bettors in Las Vegas who get together to handicap the games each week.

That one game highlights all the problems I've had with logical thinking during this NFL season. The lockout cut down training camp to only a handful of days, so it was expected offensive units wouldn't gel yet. Instead, we have some of the most prolific offenses we've ever seen, with a record number of points and touchdowns scored. We've had several rookie quarterbacks start from day one, like Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, who were supposed to fail miserably. That definitely hasn't happened. We have teams coming off of bye weeks that look discombobulated, not rested and well-prepared.

If you feel the same way, it's comforting to know we're not alone.

"Even the guys who bet for a living are having a hard time," Leonard says. "Think about it now. New Orleans scores 62 points on a Monday night and now heads to St. Louis to play a winless team. Normally, every wiseguy and his brother would be on the Rams in that game. I have yet to find a guy who will jump in front of it. The linesmakers can't put the lines high enough. It's a one-way train and everyone is getting run over week after week."

Logic is failing, but it really means that gamblers should consider turning away from situational views and instead look at the matchups more closely, some say.

"Logic is one thing. If we're talking about trick or treats for Halloween this weekend, people have been tricked into searching for the impact of the lockout and bye weeks rather than looking at the matchups," says Paul Bessire, the general manager and creator of the Web site PredictionMachine.com. His Prediction Machine is a quantitative way to break down NFL games as it simulates each contest 50,000 times to come up with a pick against the spread.

"I don't think the lockout or these rules have had that great of an impact," Bessire says. In noting the game where the St. Louis Rams came off a bye week and still got obliterated by the Green Bay Packers, Bessire asserts that "it doesn't matter if they had one week, two weeks, or 10 weeks -- they shouldn't have been expected to keep it within two scores. It comes down to the matchups."

With that, let's get on to the picks for Week 8 of the NFL season. As I'll remind you through the entire season, these are for entertainment purposes only. Once again, I have enlisted the help of PredictionMachine.com's Paul Bessire, who offers analysis of the data his model provides for the games I've picked this week.

I have also collected commentary from Pregame.com's Leonard, whose analysis focuses on the spread movement by Vegas oddsmakers to determine where the public and professional money is moving on each game. These trends prove to be critical for bettors who are on the hunt for inefficiencies and value.

Read on for the first game pick, where the Dallas Cowboys travel to play the Philadelphia Eagles. And as always, I encourage you to leave comments below with your favorite picks against the spread this week. I'm looking for more thoughts this week, as I continue to struggle to find value.
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