Saturday, September 29, 2012

Week 4: Hovering around .500

Bills hope to have Fred Jackson back- only way to stay in game

Wow. Last week was brutal. Between the horrible replacement refs (finally, finally gone) making football literally unenjoyable to watch and CJ Spiller going down with a horrible (looking) injury, it was the worst Bills win I think I've ever watched. As for my picks, most of my upset picks were horribly wrong, and a bunch of teams I was certain of faltered. Still, I ended up at 7-9 overall and 8-8 ATS. Which isn't horrible. That's just about all I can vouch for in terms of my picks right now: they're not horrible. Trust about half of them.

Onto the Thursday night game that already happened. Note on Thursday games: I tweet out my picks before the game.

Cleveland at Baltimore (-12)

I thought Baltimore would take this handily, and they did, just not handily enough. Browns covered the spread. The Browns could use like ten thousand new receivers, though. After some extensive research watching them last week, I can safely say that they are one again frontrunners for the most boring team in the NFL. When was the last time you actively watched a Browns highlight?

Half right pick: Baltimore wins, covers

New England (-3.5) at Buffalo

The Patriots have lost two straight games, but if you listen to angry Pats fans, like the ones who I work at summer camp with, they should be AT LEAST 2-1 (those fahckin' replacement refs!!!). To be somewhat non-biased, though, they haven't looked like the Patriots of old in either of those games- something's a little off on offense and the defense, though improved, isn't a world beater yet. If the Bills had a fully healthy Fred Jackson or CJ Spiller (both might play, but both are less than 100%- and Chan Gailey might be bluffing on these injury reports), I'd say they have a chance. The Bills offense is completely around the run game now; Gailey can't trust Ryan Fitzpatrick on a game to game basis, but he can trust two stud running backs. But Spiller and Jackson will sit out and play injured, respectively, and these Patriots don't lose three games in a row. Unless the Bills defensive line has a superhuman effort and forces Tom Brady into mistakes, the Pats should win this easily- the Bills offense just isn't at full strength, and the defense hasn't show it can shut down elite offenses yet.

Pick: Patriots win, cover

Minnesota at Detroit (-4)

Can anyone remind me why I should like the Lions and this spread? The Lions haven't looked very good this year. especially as they got lit up by the Titans last week. Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford are both ailing, which basically hinders the whole offense, and the defense has never been anything special. Minnesota, meanwhile, has a power running game and a rapidly improving QB in Christian Ponder. They know exactly what they want to do on both sides of the ball and execute. If they can beat the 49ers, I don't see the hobbled Lions faring much better against them.

Pick: Vikings win, cover

Carolina at Atlanta (-7)

Carolina has kind of looked like garbage this season. Last year's regression over the second half of the season by Cam Newton seems to have continued, and the defense has shown a disturbing fear of tackling. This does not look like the team many thought could contend for an NFC South crown (which, right now, looks to have three mediocre to bad teams in it). The one good team in the NFC South, the Falcons, have blown me away defensively this year. Their success in the regular season is pre-ordained, it seems. What remains to be seen is whether it can continue in the playoffs.

Pick: Falcons win, cover

San Francisco (-4) at New York Jets

It's hard to quantify just how important Darrelle Revis is to the Jets defense. On many defensive plays, he was tasked with covering one whole side of the field, leaving ten other defenders available to disrupt the other side. Without him, the dynamism of the Jets defense disappears, and with that, the Jets are immediately much worse overall. The offense is made to play with a great defense; they won't be able to stay in high scoring games. Meanwhile, San Francisco had a misstep last week in Minnesota, but I still believe in their overall talent- the defense, at its best, is nearly unbeatable and I don't think the Jets have the personnel to overcome that.

Pick: Niners win, cover

San Diego (-1) at Kansas City

Make no mistake: the Chiefs are really, really bad. The team they beat last week, the Saints, are just somehow, shockingly, worse. San Diego ran into a great Falcons team last week and looked beat from the start, and I'll still take them over the Romeo Crennel lead Chiefs. The Bills crushed them; the Chargers ought to be able to as well.

Pick: Chargers win, cover

Tennessee at Houston (-12)

Houston's looked really good this season, but I'm hesitant to take a twelve point spread in ANY game this season, especially since Tennessee had their offensive awakening last week. The Texans are still a better team, but the Titans should hang around and keep this game within ten. Kind of like Browns-Ravens, but with a little more excitement.

Pick: Texans win, Titans cover

Seattle (-3) at St. Louis

Well, I was very wrong about the Rams last week, but they're still a better team than last year. The Seahawks controversial totally ludicrous win last week has overshadowed the fact that their defense shut down the Packers for four quarters, and that they have one of the better secondaries in the league. On offense, they have a strong running game and Russell Wilson does just enough to pull out wins (even if they are, ahem, contentious). Seattle should take this one on the road, but I expect the Rams to stay within seven or ten.

Pick: Seahawks win, cover

Miami at Arizona (-5.5)

Alright. I give. The Cardinals are a good football team, anchored by a great defense and an offense that doesn't make mistakes. They will struggle, though, if they go down in a game- they are built to play ahead. Fortunately, the Dolphins, without Reggie Bush, are not the team that will give them that challenge. Arizona, somehow, gets to 4-0.

Pick: Cardinals win, cover

Oakland at Denver (-7)

How is Denver getting seven points here? Peyton Manning looks to be 60% of his 2010 self- that was his worst season- and the defense hasn't stepped up to make up for their deficiencies. The Raiders found their running game last week and found a way to win against the Steelers. That being said, I don't feel comfortable picking them to win in Denver. Popgun arm Peyton Manning finds a way!

Pick: Broncos win, Raiders cover

Cincinnati (-1) at Jacksonville

Wait, what? If the line is this low because of Jacksonville's home field "advantage", that's hilarious.This is the stadium that covers whole sections in tarps to prevent blackouts. I know. I've been there. The Bengals are just like last year; they'll beat every bad team they play and stay competitive with the elite. The Jaguars are slowly improving, but I don't see them winning, and a 1 point spread is basically asking me to pick a winner. Bengals look good to win here.

Pick: Bengals win, cover

New Orleans at Green Bay (-7.5)

I was so, so, so goddamn wrong about the Saints. They are comically bad. The Packers are angry after the debacle on Monday night and will shred the Saints' atrocious defense. Drew Brees might be able to keep it close for a bit, but nothing can overcome the bad mojo surrounding this team. Run, run away from the Saints bandwagon, all ye who have decided to remain on it while it burns. Sorry to one of my favorite high school teachers ever/ beacoup Saints fan for that.

Pick: Packers win, cover

Washington at Tampa Bay (-2.5)

Tampa Bay doesn't play pretty, but they play consistently ugly, and it keeps them in most of their games. The Redskins are this year's most entertaining team, which is good if wins and losses don't mean that much to you. The Redskins defense has been hobbled by injuries, and the offense might not be able to get past the no-nonsense Buccaneers defense. The Bucs will take this one at home, ugly, just how they planned it.

Pick: Buccaneers win, cover

NY Giants at Philadelphia (-2.5)

Philadelphia has won two of it's games by a point each; and got blown out by the Cardinals last week. Consistent through all that is tons of turnovers and a horrible offensive line. The Giants, meanwhile, have bounced back from some early season shakiness. Of course, just when you think they've fixed their issues, they manage to screw up. Still, I think the Eagles good record has been a result of a lot of luck, and I think the Giants have a better overall team.

Pick: Giants win, cover

Chicago at Dallas (-3.5)

If I had any money to bet, I would stay away from this game. The Bears were much improved last week, but it's always possible for Jay Cutler to lay an egg in primetime. The Cowboys won an ugly one last week against the Buccaneers. The Bears defense can keep them in any game; I'm just not sure about the offense yet. The balanced offensive attack the Cowboys are capable of should be enough to squeak out a win.

Pick: Cowboys win, Bears cover

Last Week (ATS): 7-9 (8-8)
This Week (ATS): 1-0 (0-1)
Overall: 24-24
Overall (ATS): 21-26-1

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