Saturday, October 20, 2012

The rest of the Week 7 picks

"Thanks for scoring that TD. Lemme make sure to never give you the ball again, alright?"

After a good couple of weeks for me, the underdogs had their day last week, and I went 6-8 overall and ATS in my picks. To be fair, I picked a bunch of upsets, just not the right upsets. Also, I will continue picking against the Bills all season. If they lose, I'm right. If they somehow win, I'm wrong, but I just don't care. Just an altogether better way to spend a Sunday.

This week has begun in better fashion, as The 49ers won a brutal game over the Seahawks, and Jim Harbaugh decided to fuck with millions of gamblers by declining a last minute safety that would've pushed the game to 15-6. That safety would've given me a push, but other people who had the -7 or -7.5 line would've lost money. There is no reason that safety was declined besides gambling. Just no way.

Tennessee at Buffalo (-3.5)

As I mentioned before, I will not stop picking against the Bills, especially since last week they ran into a Cardinals team with no offensive line, or offense, and still almost lost the game. Chan Gailey still has a predilection to NOT giving the ball to his two best offensive players (CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson) and instead runs gadget Brad Smith plays or lets Ryan Fitzpatrick throw yet another wounded duck deep in the general direction of a downfield receiver. The Titans look like a garbage team, and the Bills should win this one and reinsert themselves into the playoff hunt (the Bills chance to make the playoffs hinges on them beating all the bad teams on their schedule). Also, they need this one, as they play Houston and New England in the next two weeks (4-5 is a lot better than 3-6, obviously). But they're this year's Bills, and they are just sure to crap the bed. Chris Johnson will probably have his one good game of the year, Matt Hasselbeck will have his swan song as an NFL QB, and Ryan Fitzpatrick will throw another three picks for good measure.

Pick: Titans win, cover

Arizona at Minnesota (-6.5)

The Vikings are better than what they showed last week (they were due for a letdown), and the Cardinals are just as bad (or worse) than what they showed last week- playing the Bills will help. The Vikings have a good pass rush- well, anyone wood against the turnstiles that make up the offensive line of the Cardinals- and their offense should be able to move the ball on an overrated Cardinals defense.

Pick: Vikings win, cover

Cleveland at Indianapolis (-2.5)

Tough pick here, since Indy has been good at home this season. But for some reason, I still have this gut feeling that the Browns pull off another win. They have a strong running game going against a horrible Colts run defense, Brandon Weeden shows varying degrees of competence, and the return of Joe Haden has completely changed the makeup of the Browns defense. God knows why, but I'm feeling the Browns this week.

Pick: Browns win, cover

Baltimore at Houston (-7)

Baltimore's defensive core has been decimated by injuries; which is to say, all their "big name" players- Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and LaDarius Webb- have some sort of injury. But seven points is a ton for a team whose pass defense was just eviscerated, and whose offense was exposed as somewhat one dimensional- and that's against a poor Packers defense. Joe Flacco is no Aaron Rodgers, but he should have success against the Texans. Unfortunately, though, I don't think the Ravens depleted front will be able to hold back the Texans run and play action attack.

Pick: Texans win, Ravens cover

Green Bay (-5.5) at St. Louis

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers announced that they were back in grand fashion, as Aaron Rodgers threw SIX touchdowns and swung like ten million fantasy matchups. Still, questions remain about their defense and offensive consistency without Greg Jennings. The Rams aren't an amazing team, by any means, but they have the defense to stick around. Packers should win, but the Rams will make the game ugly and stay somewhat close. The Rams are about one stud receiver away from contending seriously. But not yet.

Pick: Packers win, Rams cover

Dallas (-2.5) at Carolina

Carolina just looks all out of sorts this year, and Cam Newton has yet to regain his mojo after last season's gangbusters start. The Cowboys beat themselves in last week's game against the Ravens, but I don't think this game will be close enough for the Cowboys to shoot themselves in the foot yet again. Cowboys have too much on both sides of the ball, and the Panthers are stuck spinning their wheels.

Pick: Cowboys win, cover

Washington at NY Giants (-6)

The Robert Griffin III hype-bandwagon has reached full steam heading into this matchup with the Giants. There's no doubt that Griffin has been remarkable this season, fully looking the part of franchise savoir. Unfortunately for the Redskins, their defense is banged up, and doesn't look up to stopping the Giants dynamic attack. The Giants look to be the class of the NFC at this point; the Redskins, the entertaining sideshow.

Pick: Giants win, cover

New Orleans (-2.5) at Tampa Bay

I like the Saints here, despite the trainwreck football they've played this season. It's not that I think the Saints are especially good or yet again playoff bound. I just think Tampa Bay is a bad team, and won't be able to keep up with the Saints passing attack.

Pick: Saints win, cover

NY Jets at New England (-10.5)

The wonderful wrinkle of this season has been seeing the Patriots lose close games against clearly inferior opponents. They've lost the ability to close out games, basically, and it is SO MUCH FUN TO WATCH. The Jets, though, can barely throw the ball- the best way to beat the Patriots- and an old, overrated defense. Hmmm, Jets overrated defense against Patriots star-crossed offense? I guess I'll take the better team to win and the points.

Pick: Patriots win, Jets cover

Jacksonville at Oakland (-6)

Ah, here's this week's "only if I was in the Clockwork Orange Ludovico machine" game. Oakland put up a spirited effort against the Falcons, only to lose in a heartbreaker. The Jaguars took a bye last week, but I doubt anyone really missed their presence. Oakland should get the win here, but the Jaguars defense will keep them in the game. I look forward to not seeing the highlights afterwards!

Pick: Raiders win, Jaguars cover

Pittsburgh (-1) at Cincinnati 

Both teams have looked stunningly mediocre this season, but, at the end of the day, I trust the offensive ability of the Steelers more than the Bengals. If Roethlisberger has time, he can find Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown downfield and the Steelers can continue to try and run the ball with their tenth string running back. The Bengals don't have a good enough defense to stop the Steelers consistently, and their offense is going through fits this year without a solid running game and the lack of a complementary receiver for AJ Green.

Pick: Steelers win, cover

Detroit at Chicago (-6.5)

Detroit may think they got their mojo back after last week's victory over the headcase Eagles, but the Bears should give them a rude awakening. Coming off a bye week, the Bears should be able to succeed against a weak Lions secondary, and the Bears' defense should not have much trouble shutting down the Lions "chuck it to Calvin Johnson and pray" offense. The Bears look pretty good right now. I can't to see how that affects all my Chicago friends and the always level-headed, reasonable Chicago media. If the Bears win this one comfortably, you can bet the words "Super Bowl" will be plastered across front pages, and the spirit of Ditka will be invoked in thousands of calls to local sports radio.

Pick: Bears win, cover

Last Week (ATS): 6-8 (6-8)
This Week ATS: 1-0 (1-0)
Overall: 51-41
ATS: 42-49-1

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Most Dangerous Game: Week 7's Thursday Night Pick

Alright, I've been lazy this whole season and posting a pick for the Thursday night games on my twitter. I'll start doing it here, time permitting. (Shameless plug alert: read my stuff at !!!)

Before  I give my pick, some thoughts on the Thursday Night game. If I can't even muster the energy to write a pick out on Thursday, how does the NFL expect players to play on Thursdays? Four days are not enough time for a player to recover from Sunday's game- a week is barely enough time. For a league that has pledged support for "player safety," Thursday night games every week are a joke, a transparent cash grab (Thursday is a prime-time TV night, and it prevents the NFL from stacking up too many games on Sundays- maximum exposure is the goal). If they want to put any games on a Thursday, they ought to be after a bye week. But, no, the players will continue to struggle under this compressed schedule, the quality of the games will continue to be poor, and the NFL's promises to attempt to truly make the game safer will continue to ring hollow.

Fine. It's not really news to say that the NFL is a hypocritical. At the very least, they shouldn't be so outrightly hypocritical. Money over safety, every time.

Seattle at San Francisco (-9)

Nine??? Nine points? The Seahawks are definitely not a great team on the road, but they do have the defense to limit the 49ers offense (hell, they limited the far-superior Patriots last week). While I don't see the 49ers losing two games in a row, especially since they were embarrassed last week, this won't be a cakewalk. The 49ers defense should be able to limit Marshawn Lynch and frustrate Russell Wilson, and their offense should be able to eventually get by the Seahawks. But by more than nine? These Thursday Night games have all been somewhat sluggish, for one or both teams. As the season moves on and the deterioration of player's bodies continues, it won't get much better. Besides, the 49ers offense hasn't shown it can beat elite defenses, especially with Alex Smith's finger woes. Niners take this one, but by a touchdown or less.

Pick: 49ers win, Seahawks cover

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back from the woods for the Week 6 Picks

The Bills latest attempt at pass coverage.

It's been two weeks, but I'm back, and (legitimately!) better. Over the past two weeks, I've nailed my overall picks (21-8) and stayed steady against the spread (15-14). Looks like I'm close to figuring out this season...

Which, of course, means I already screwed up my first pick of the week, taking the Steelers to cover and win. As a result of some bad coaching by the Steelers, the Titans won by three. Well, whoops. Time to soldier on.

Cincinnati (-2.5) at Cleveland

This Bengals team doesn't have quite the mojo it did last year; Andy Dalton is struggling without a running game, and the defense isn't covering up his mistakes as well as it did last year. The Browns, meanwhile, have yet to get a win this year, but they're not as bad as everyone thinks. Well, they're not 0-16 bad. They have to get a win sometime, and they've been playing better as of late, so, why not? Cleveland gets a W, followed by another long losing streak.

Pick: Browns win, cover

Indianapolis at NY Jets (-3.5)

Though the Jets put up more of a fight last week than expected, this is still a broken football team without Darrelle Revis. Sanchez and Tebow are in a race to the bottom at quarterback; their best receiver is Jeremy Kerley; and they have a commitment to ground and pound football straight from the 1950s. The Colts, on the other hand, are plucky and playing for their leukemia-stricken coach (yes, it's insensitive to say, but it is motivating the Colts- just watch the postgame from their win over the Packers). New York seems to be getting the points here because they're at home, but I fail to see the advantage 80,000 angry, drunk Jets fans will give the team as they relentlessly boo Sanchez. So I like the Colts here.

Pick: Colts win, cover

Kansas City at Tampa Bay (-4)

You could only get me to watch this game if you strapped me in Clockwork Orange style. The Buccaneers relish in playing boring football (or, GRITTY NEVER SAY DIE CHARACTER BALL BY COACH GREG SCHIANO), while the Chiefs have not led a game yet- their one win came in overtime. Tampa Bay has more talent on both sides of the ball and Kansas City is starting Brady Quinn. at quarterback. Seems easy enough.

Pick: Buccaneers win, cover

Oakland at Atlanta (-9)

Oakland is just a terrible team. And they're playing across the country against one of the best teams in football right now. While those two sentences should be enough, fine, I'll say a little more: Oakland's corners are awful, and the Falcons have really good receivers. On the other side of the ball, the Atlanta defense is sturdy, and the Raiders have a quarterback who looooooves to throw interceptions almost as much as Ryan Fitzpatrick and Michael Vick's lovechild. I just don't see how the Raiders stay in this game.

Pick: Falcons win, cover

Dallas at Baltimore (-3.5)

Baltimore is one of the better teams in the league, but they have an odd tendency to play down to their opponents as well as not give the ball to their best player, Ray Rice. The Cowboys are coming off a bye, and the extra rest should be enough to keep them in the game- but not enough to win. The Cowboys defense has been extremely vulnerable, and Tony Romo is still finding new and ingenious ways to screw up in the 4th quarter.

Pick: Ravens win, Cowboys cover

Detroit at Philadelphia (-3.5)

With the emergence of the Vikings in the NFC North, the Lions increasingly look like they're going to be squeezed out of the playoff picture (I still believe in the Packers). Their secondary is horrible, and the lack of a halfway competent running game has left the offense too one dimensional to compete week to week. Philly, meanwhile, is a great team bearing the burden of a terrible coach. The Eagles should hand the ball off to LeSean McCoy 20+ times a game, but instead they allow Michael Vick free reign to turnover the ball as much as he wants! Since I can't figure out how good either of these teams are compared to one another, I'll just take the home team to win and the points.

Pick: Eagles win, Lions cover

St. Louis at Miami (-3.5)

I thought that at least if the Bills sucked this year, the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill would too. But: they don't! The Dolphins solid defense and running game have led them to be 3-2, and they have the ability to stay in most games and beat bad teams. The Rams are by no means a bad team, but they're on the road, out of the comfort of their dome. I think the Dolphins pick up another win and further depress me with their competency.

Pick: Dolphins win, cover

New England (-3.5) at Seattle

New England's offense has spent the past six quarters absolutely rolling on offense (to be fair, two of those quarters were against the Bills). Their offense is, to use a hoary cliche, a well oiled machine. The Seahawks, though, relish the opportunity to throw sand into the machine, clog up the gears, and make the game ugly. Their defensive secondary and pass rush should do enough to slow down the Patriots; but their offense, led by Russel Wilson (whose closest comparison is Tim Tebow, because, improbably, they find a way to win in the end despite all empirical evidence pointing to them being bad quarterbacks) won't be able to keep up with even a sputtering Patriots team.

Pick: Patriots win, cover

Buffalo at Arizona (-4)

I imagine the Cardinals gathered to watch tape on the Bills and burst out in laughter throughout. The Bills aren't getting beat on defense by fancy schemes, trick plays, weird mistakes or pure talent; they just don't execute at even the most basic level. Apparently, "coverage" and "tackling" are optional in the defensive scheme, as well as "getting close to the quarterback." They just don't do those things. On offense, the Bills try running the ball about two times, and then they give up on it (or they're already down by two touchdowns because of their atrocious defense) and let Ryan Fitzpatrick try to throw deep passes down the sideline, always in vain. Goddamn, I hate watching this team. My fifth grade flag football team could score on this defense (I have a feeling even I, a slow offensive lineman, could burn Aaron Williams and Leodis McKelvin). Jim Kelly could come out of retirement and throw a better deep pass than Fitzpatrick. Hell, Jack Kemp could do it better from his grave.

The Cardinals have a good defense and their half-competent offense should be just fine against the Bills carcass of a defense. No, I'm not bitter at how this season's gone at all. I can't wait to sarcastically clap when the Bills allow less than 40 points. Can't wait!

Pick: Cardinals win, cover

Minnesota at Washington (-2)

Tough to figure this one out. The Vikings are good, but I don't know if they're good enough to improve to 5-1 on the road against a not horrible Redskins team. On the other side, RG3 is returning from a concussion and the Redskins defense has been decimated by injury. I guess I'm going with the Vikings in a close one. Just to complete an absolutely horrible weekend for Washington sports.

Pick: Vikings win, cover

NY Giants at San Francisco (-6.5)

Game of the week, by far. San Francisco's been the better team so far this season, but the Giants are...well, the Giants, meaning they constantly confound expectations. Like a six point spread for the defending Super Bowl champs. While both coaches have tried to play the "underdog" card this week- hell, they've competed for the title in an attempt to motivate their players- the 49ers have more to play for in getting even after last season's NFC Championship game. I think this will be a close one, high scoring, but I trust the 49ers defense to get a stop wayyyy more than I trust the Giants. In a close game, that's all that matters.

Pick: 49ers win, Giants cover

Green Bay at Houston (-3.5)

Green Bay's been less than impressive this season- Aaron Rodgers is struggling, the running game is a joke, and the defense hasn't improved much since last season. The Texans are one of two undefeated teams in the NFL- but they haven't played anyone good yet (sorry, Broncos). I'm feeling some upsets this week, so I think Rodgers puts on a vintage performance, shreds the Texans secondary, and wins a close one.

Pick: Packers win, cover

Denver at San Diego (PK)

The Broncos must be glad that their contract with Peyton Manning is only guaranteed for one year, because right now, at least, he just doesn't have the same skills as he used to. His celebrated cerebral-ism is still there, but his inability to throw with as much zip as he used to is killing him. He can dink and dunk down the field, but that does only so much. The Chargers aren't a great team by any means, but they have an effective offense and they're playing at home. I think they should take this one. My only reservation is that Norv Turner is still coaching the Chargers, and it's on national television. Never a good combo.

Pick: Chargers win

Last 2 Weeks (ATS): 21-8 (15-14)
This Week (ATS): 0-1 (0-1)
Overall: 45-33
Overall (ATS): 36-41-1