I looked at NFL win total bets twice: once in June when the lines first came out, and again in August after bettors had some time to chew on them and we got some movement. Now, since I was testing out some betting strategies, I didn't actually play these, but it is still valuable to go back and review my performance.
The idea was that I picked my 10 favorite plays in June, and then if the line moves in August were favorable, I grabbed them again. These are the plays I end up with.
Atlanta Falcons OVER 9 wins (+105) (June line) - win Miami Dolphins OVER 7.5 wins (-110) (June line) - loss Miami Dolphons OVER 6.5 wins (+140) (August line) - win New Orleans OVER 10 wins (-125) (June line) - loss New Orleans OVER 10 wins (+125) (August line) - loss Kansas City UNDER 8 wins (-110) (June line) - win Tampa Bay UNDER 6 wins (-120) (June line) - loss Tampa Bay UNDER 6 wins (+105) (August line) - loss San Fransisco OVER 10 wins (+105) (June line) - push San Fransisco OVER 10 wins (+110) (August line) - push Indianapolis UNDER 5.5 wins (-135) (June line) - loss New York Giants UNDER 9.5 wins (-120) (June line) - win Denver UNDER 9.5 wins (-120) (June line) - loss Denver UNDER 9 wins (-110) (August line) - loss St. Louis UNDER 6 wins (-120) (June line) - loss
This... was a disaster. These plays went 4-9-2 for a value of -4.81 betting units. On average, my preseason predictions were off by +/- 3.1 wins. Since the league wins 8 games on average almost by definition (STUPID TIES notwithstanding), +/- 3 is pretty goddamn terrible. Pointing out that my plays are disastrous might be fun for you, but the idea in making predictions is to not only dance around when they are successful, but acknowledge when they have failed so that future predictions may be improved. Let's consider what, to me, appears to be a rather apparent influence on the success or failure (mostly failure) of my predictions.
Of the 32 NFL teams, 6 began the season with new quarterbacks via either the draft or trade. (Not included on this list are teams that changed quarterback via competition, such as Tennessee or Arizona, because replacing a QB this way is unlikely in my opinion to drastically change the quality of play). 7 teams also had new coaches (I am including New Orleans on this list). There is some overlap here, so this covers a total of 11 NFL teams. Here's the list: DEN, NO, IND, JAX, TB, STL, WAS, MIA, OAK, CLE, and SEA.
Average preseason error for these 11 teams: 3.96 wins Average preseason error for remaining 21 teams: 2.63 wins
This is too big a difference to ignore. Clearly, my system does a very poor job of considering the impact of changes at the quarterback and head coaching spots. What does my top 10 list of June look like if I exclude these 11 teams?
KC UNDER 8 wins (-110) NYG UNDER 9.5 wins (-120) SF OVER 10 wins (+105) PHI UNDER 10 wins (+105) NE UNDER 12 wins (-110) ATL OVER 9 wins (+105) CHI UNDER 8.5 wins (+105) GB UNDER 12 wins (-110) PIT OVER 10 wins (-125) DET OVER 9.5 wins (+105)
In these 10 bets, I would have gone 5-3-2 for +1.75 BU. Stopping at 10 bets is sort of arbitrary. If I include bets for all 21 teams not included on the list above, and exclude those bets which I calculate have a negative value due to the vig, I would have added the following plays:
MIN OVER 6 wins (+100) CIN OVER 7.5 wins (-130) BAL OVER 10 wins (-110) TEN OVER 7 wins (-130)
These plays bring my record to 8-4-2 for +2.52 BU. That's a pretty nice record, in my opinion. (Based on the August lines, I would have gone 7-5-3 for +2.12 BU - and even more dramatic is that on those 11 excluded teams I would have gone 2-2-7.)
Of course, it would be better if my system wasn't so deficient that it can't properly calculate the impact of a new coach or QB. Solving that dilemma will also improve my overall performance because these teams all play each other and interact with each others performance. But reviewing my predictions and identifying deficiencies is an important part of the process.
I haven't updated this in a few weeks because it didn't really need updating. Denver, New England, Houston, San Fransisco, and Atlanta, in some order, were the top 5 for three straight weeks. And then, suddenly... they weren't.
I was actually on the Seattle bandwagon pretty early. In fact, after week 3 I thought there was value in betting them to win the NFC championship and the Super Bowl. But then they sort of faded, and the computer model put them to the side. At least, that was the case before they ran off 3 straight blowouts and climbed all the way to the top of the rankings.
Okay, so technically they are at the top, but it is very close to a 3-way tie between Seattle, New England, and Denver - all are within a couple of percentage points, which is most certainly within the margin of error. What I find amazing about the computer model's projection is that they are the favorite to win the Super Bowl at this point, even though they are NOT the favorite to win their division (the odds of this happening, which require Arizona to beat San Fransisco along with a Seattle victory this weekend, are only 9%). So, Seattle is even with New England and Denver, even though those teams have a good chance at a first round bye and will play at least 1 game at home in the playoffs.
Poor Houston, on the other hand, has had a rather precipitous fall from the top. While they were never the favorite, they had spent 11 straight weeks in the top 5 (including 5 weeks at number 2) before falling off with 2 losses in their last 3 games. I've seen alot of people walking around town proudly wearing their "Houston Texans AFC South 2012 Division Champion" t-shirts. Wear it proud, Houston: it's looking like that's all you are going to get this year.
First, the teams that are completely done. Zero shot. Mark it down.
PHI, WAS, DAL, CAR, NO, DET, MIN, STL, AZ, MIA, NYJ, BUF, TEN, JAX, CLE, SD, KC, OAK.
That's 18 of the leagues' 32 teams. Some of them haven't officially been eliminated from contention yet (DAL, NO, and WAS are still alive for the NFC wild card, and DAL and WAS could still win the NFC East), but they have been eliminated by sucking. Let's look at the rest of the teams, in increasing likelihood of claiming a title this year.
TIER 4: Technically alive, but on life support
IND, PIT, CIN, TB, SEA, BAL
Atlanta is getting all the press for being a fraudulent 1-loss team, but NOBODY in the league is a bigger phony than the Baltimore Ravens. "Finding a way to win" is a euphemism for "lucky as shit." Remember that.
TIER 3: The Lurkers
NYG has spent some time in the upper tier this year, but when they lay eggs like they did against WAS this past weekend it is hard to take them seriously. Of course, they did beat Green Bay two weeks ago. The Pack and the Bears have a roughly equal shot at the division title, but Chicago is actually better, so I give them much more chance of actually advancing and winning the Super Bowl.
TIER 2: The Contenders
ATL, CHI, SF, HOU, DEN
4 of 5 have a hammerlock on their respective divisions, with only the NFC North still in question. However, all 5 have some question marks. Atlanta has wins of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 4 points this year. The wins count, but they also point out that their record may outstrip their true talent level. Chicago is 8-4, but 7 of them have come against teams that are already out of the Super Bowl hunt. They are 1-4 against contenders. 3 of those losses have come by at least a touchdown (not counting the overtime Seattle game this past weekend). San Fransisco has somehow embroiled itself in a quarterback controversy with 5 weeks left to go*. Houston and Denver have looked the most impressive, but neither has looked as good as the top team.
(*quick sidebar: if Alex Smith loses his starting job to a concussion injury, the only logical conclusion is for players in the future, specifically San Francisco players, to try and conceal future head injuries for fear of losing their jobs as well. Not only is this bad for player health, but it may turn out to be bad for the team in the long run as well. I do not like the decision by John Harbaugh.)
TIER 1: The Favorite
After some early season stumbles that saw their odds drop, a 6-game winning streak since starting 3-3 has put them back at the top of the league (they were also my preseason favorite to take the title). They are sure to win their division. The only mark against them at this point is that they will have to fight to get a first-round bye.
Last week: 1-4 (20%), Overall: 23-20-2 (53.4%), Fake rank: 225 (out of 745)
To make matters worse, the Giants took a huge hit to their Super Bowl chances by surrendering a 10-point, 4th-quarter lead to the Steelers. They are basically off the board - in 100 simulated runs, they won zero of them. Part of this is because the Bears are basically sucking up all the oxygen in the room - they are winning the NFC in half of my simulated runs, leaving table scraps for Atlanta, San Fransisco, Green Bay, and the Giants to fight over.
On the flip side, a team that has managed to claw back into their division race with a win is San Diego, who spent he last 3 weeks in a freefall after collapsing late against Denver. Their odds of winning the division nearly doubled after their win last week, increasing from 17% to 31%. Still, Denver remains the favorite for the AFC West. That, along with the AFC North, which is basically a coin flip between Baltimore and Pittsburgh right now, are the only divisions that remain meaningfully competitive at this point.
I recovered from my 1-3-1 performance last week with another 3-2 week.
Last week: 3-2 (60%), Overall: 22-16-2 (57.9%), Fake rank: 99 (out of 745)
This week's picks:
AZ +11 MIN +4.5 BUF +10.5 KC +7.5 CAR +3
Yes, I picked Arizona again, even after that abominable performance on Monday night. I also have a terrible track record picking against Houston, but here I am again with Buffalo +10.5. So...3-2 again? I'm happy with 3-2 again.
Am I alone here in not really believing in the Falcons? Nobody from last week's top 5 lost (Houston was on a bye week), but San Fransisco's path to the NFC West became much clearer with losses by both Seattle and Arizona. New England continues to benefit from a weak division. At this point, the odds are being driven by standings, since the following divisions show a winner with 90%+ confidence at this point:
NFC East (Giants win 98% of 100 simulations run)
NFC South (Atlanta, 96%)
NFC North (Chicago, 93%)
NFC West (San Fransisco, 100%)
AFC South (Houston, 100%)
I left New England (89%) and Denver (82%) off this list. The only truly competitive division at this point appears to be the AFC North, with PIttsburgh (37%) and Baltimore (61%) slugging it out.
I think I'm doing pretty darn good at this fake Supercontest thing. In fact, after another solid week, I tried to explain to Suzi how good I was doing. In doing so, I made the mistake of noting that you have to finish in the top 20 before indicating my current standing.
Then I said: "And out of 745, I would currently be tied for 50th! That's in the top 7% of all entries!"
Blank stare, followed by: "so you AREN'T in the top 20."
Last week: 3-2 (60%), Overall: 15-9-1 (64.6%), Fake rank: 50 (out of 745)
This week's picks:
IND +3 KC +3.5 NYG +4.5 OAK +8.5 BUF +4.5
New England retains the top spot after taking care of business in Denver. Philly loses to Pittsburgh, but still leapfrogs San Diego after their loss to New Orleans. And Atlanta finally appears on the list after a 5-0 start.
After running this model for a month now, I'm noticing that it takes some pretty wild changes week to week on Super Bowl odds. This is because it is a highly dynamic model that is sensitive to changes in the initial conditions.
The way each model run starts is by simulating each game of the season, and predicting winners and losers. It then seeds everybody based on NFL playoff tiebreaker rules and plays out the playoff brackets to determine a Super Bowl winner. So not only does this model tell me Super Bowl winner odds, but season win totals, division winners, and conference winners as well. Let's look at how our front runner, New England, has changed over the course of the season in each of these categories.
Starting with our win predictions, we see that in the preseason the model thought New England would win an average of 13.7 games this year. After 5 games and a 3-2 start, this has dropped to 11.8. However, their division odds have actually INCREASED from the preseason. They started at 91%, and have gone up to 95%. Why have they gone up if their expected win total has dropped?
This is where the importance of a dynamic model comes in. Division odds are not just a function of New England's performance, but the performance of the three other teams in the division as well. Pre-season, I was very bullish on Miami: the model predicted 10.7 wins for them. Now, they still figure to finish in 2nd place in the division, but their expected win total is down to 7.6. This drop by their nearest competitor has allowed New England to stay strong in the division.
This dynamic plays out on a larger scale at the conference and Super Bowl level. Relatively small changes in the initial conditions week to week play out as significant swings at the Super Bowl level.
The second part of judging a forecast is to look back at how it has done. At the end of the season, I will have made 18 predictions for each team (1 per week plus 1 preseason) that can be tested. However, because there are many more results than predictions, it may take a few years before I can have any confidence that this method is accurate predicting outcomes - and more importantly, how that level of confidence changes as we get closer and closer to the end of the season.
I have a dream. Specifically, a gambling dream. In this dream, like in many dreams, it starts with flying. I am flying through the sky, borne westward towards a gleaming city of lights. And hookers. Lights and hookers. I descend, the glittering lights (and hookers) stretching towards me and past me, and now I am among them, gliding across the landscape until I reach the palace at its heart. Once there, I am suddenly thrust into an arena, thrown into combat against the best of the best, until I am the last man standing, crowned champion of the Las Vegas Hotel Supercontest.
Put on every year by the Las Vegas Hotel, the Supercontest is becoming the World Series of sports betting. With an annual purse of nearly $1M, a $1500 entry fee gets you a chance to pit your NFL picking skills against the very best. The only problem? The $1500 entry fee. Until such time as my successful gambling renders me capable of tossing down $1500 on what is essentially a game, the best I can do is play along at home.
Each week, the hotel posts the card with the lines to be used for that game. Contest entrants must select 5 plays among those games to submit. A win gets you 2 points, a push 1 point, and a loss nothing. I will be picking along this year and keeping track of my virtual standing against the pros. Here are my Week 1 picks.
MIA +13 over HOU
By now, my foolish infatuation with this Miami team is well documented. I've picked them OVER wins, I picked them as part of my Super Bowl plays, my Conference plays, and my Division winner plays; and now I'm betting on them week 1.
IND +9.5 over CHI
Apparently I have a thing for picking rookie quarterbacks.
PIT +1.5 over DEN
This one at least makes sense. Jump on the betting against Peyton bandwagon now while there is still room. This is going to be a full ride by Week 4. That is, if Peyton is still playing in Week 4 and hasn't been sidelined with further neck trauma.
JAX +3.5 over MIN
Yeah, they are both bad, but Minnesota is worse than people realize, especially without a healthy AP.
CLE +8.5 over PHI
Did we learn nothing from overrating PHI last year? I sure hope not...
Also receiving consideration: SF +5 over GB, DAL +4 over NYG, CAR -2.5 over TB.
Back when the first NFL over/under lines came out, I took a look at where I perceived the value to be. Now that we are closing in on the start of the NFL season, let's take a look at how Vegas has responded with the lines that I thought were the most playable after they first came out in June.
Miami The play in June: OVER 7.5 WINS (-110) The play today: OVER 6.5 WINS (+140) Value up or down? Up - the over is an even more attractive bet now What happened: They have selected Ryan Tannehill, a rookie and mediocre Big Ten quarterback, as their starter, which has everybody running scared. If anybody else wants to join me on this bandwagon, there is plenty of room...
New England The play in June: UNDER 12 WINS (-110) The play today: UNDER 12 WINS (-105) Value up or down? Up... by a nickel What happened: Nothing. That's why it has only moved a nickel.
Philadelphia The play in June: UNDER 10 WINS (-105) The play today: ...um... Value up or down? Down? I think? What happened: So the new line is 10.5 wins, +120 on the over, and -150 on the under. Do you see the weirdness here? They raised the line by half a game - that's what you do when the over is getting pounded. But THEN they jacked up the juice on the under, which is what you do when the under is getting pounded. Weird. In any case, I don't see any value at that number and these prices. Obviously if I liked under 10 wins I like under 10.5, just not paying -150 for it.
Tampa Bay The play in June: UNDER 6 WINS (-120) The play today: UNDER 6 WINS (+105) Value up or down? Up and away What happened: It seems that bettors believe last year was the fluke, not their 2010 campaign (when they unexpectedly went 10-6). They can go right on believing that as far as I'm concerned.
New Orleans The play in June: OVER 10 WINS (-125) The play today: OVER 10 WINS (+125) Value up or down? Waaaay, way up What happened: Bettors are more worried about Bountygate than Vegas thought they would be. Bookmakers don't like to move the win total, because it gives sharp bettors the opportunity to catch a middle. Instead, they'll move the juice. How big a move is this? Moving from -125 to +125 changes the implied odds from 55.6% to 44.4%. That means Vegas anticipated about 55 out of every 100 bettors would take the over, and instead only 44 did. Vegas is begging and pleading with you to take the over, so that they have somebody on the other side of all that under cash.
San Francisco The play in June: OVER 10 WINS (+105) The play today: OVER 10 WINS (+110) value up or down? Up, also by a nickel What happened: Bettors think Seattle got better, which maybe takes an easy win off the board. (Bettors are wrong, by the way.)
New York Giants The play in June: UNDER 9.5 WINS (-120) The play today: UNDER 9 WINS (-140) Value up or down? The market has all but collapsed What happened: Nobody, but I mean nobody, is believing in this Giants football team. Half a win and two dimes is a huge move. They might win 10 games out of spite now. Ok not really.
Kansas City The play in June: UNDER 8 WINS (-110) The play today: UNDER 8 WINS (-130) Value up or down? Down a smidgen What happened: The market seems to think that Todd Haley was the problem, and not this crappy football team.
Denver The play in June: UNDER 9.5 (-120) The play today: UNDER 9 (-110) Value up or down? Basically unchanged The half of a game turns a 9-7 season from a win to a push, but since they aren't going to get to 9 games, I wouldn't worry about it.
Baltimore The play in June: OVER 10 WINS (-110) The play today: OVER 10 WINS (+130) What happened: They are the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL. Here's another team that Vegas is suddenly paying you to take the over on. Every year they get older, lose some players to free agency and retirement, have a couple of injuries, and the public is ready to count them out. And every year they still win 10 games.
Seattle The play in June: OVER 7 WINS (-110) The play today: UNDER 7 WINS (+135) What happened: The public really likes Matt Flynn, I guess. Except he's not even the starter now, some other guy is, after they paid Flynn all that money? *confused*
Atlanta The play in June: OVER 9 WINS (+105) The play today: OVER 9 WINS (-135) What happened: I wasn't the only one who liked the over. And I STILL like the over, although obviously not quite as much.
If you're looking for a place to start in sports betting, here's as good a place as any: bet on the road dog.
In our previous discussion on NFL win totals, we noted the natural bias of the public to bet on the over, resulting in the market tilting slightly in that direction. While it was not enough on its own to make a blind bet on the under a winning proposition, it resulted in more value existing in under bets.
Vegas bookmaker Todd Fuhrman (@ToddFuhrman) recently tweeted that "those that call themselves 'dog' or 'favorite' bettors are limiting their opportunity for profit; value comes on both sides." What he is saying is that by blindly ignoring one side or the other, you will miss opportunities to capture value, and this is true. That's why I don't call myself a 'dog' bettor. However, I do find myself betting the dog much more often than the favorite, since that is where the value exists.
To illustrate this point, let's look at results from the last 4 years of football**, 2008-2011. The following results include both regular season and playoffs (week 1 from 2008 is missing in my database):
*A quick sidebar: If Vegas was getting equal action on each side of these bets, then we would expect this record to be 0.500. This actually illustrates one of the common misunderstandings about Vegas (one that I myself had until a bookmaker set me straight on Chad Millman's "Behind the Bets" podcast). I will often refer to Vegas as a market-maker similar to a stock broker like e-Trade that just takes a cut out of each transaction, and I will continue to do so because it is a helpful analogy, but this isn't exactly right. Bookmakers mostly got their start by being sharp bettors themselves. They not only want to extract their fee, but they want to bet against the public as well. That's why you see that road underdogs are better than 50% ATS. A true market-maker would aim for this number to be 50%, but Vegas can let it drift higher because the majority of bettors continue to take the favorites. Vegas is betting on the underdogs, as they are winning.
**Another quick sidebar: my baseball database is not as extensive as my football database, so my conclusions are not as robust, but I will say this: blindly betting the away team in baseball has been a losing proposition so far this year, but not as much as blindly betting the home team (-$76.20 vs. -$139.75 assuming a standard $10 bet). Blindly betting the underdog to this point in the season has actually been quite profitable: $269.50 in the black vs. $485.44 in the red for the favorites. While I expect that will balance out over the year, the basic point remains: road teams and underdogs provide more opportunity for value.
Assuming a standard vig of -110 on every bet, a winning percentage of 52.4% is required to break even. That means that a completely blind system of betting road underdogs was profitable over the last 4 years of NFL games. Not terribly profitable, but also not terribly time-consuming either. Is this team an underdog? Are they on the road? Done and done.
The system I use is 55.6% over that same time span, albeit only betting on 70% of games. (I don't bet on every game, because if the game is priced right, then the cost of the vig means there is no value to be extracted. Think of it like a stock that is priced right - it isn't going to go up, so after I pay a broker $20 to buy it and then sell it at some point down the road, all I've done is lose $20.) This means that by refining your system with additional information - finding additional value that exists beyond these basics - you can further extend your lead on the betting public and, by proxy, Vegas.
Here's the first thing you need to know about betting win totals in the NFL: when in doubt, take the under. Remember, everyone likes to talk about beating Vegas, but talking about Vegas is like talking about beating eTrade. They are just making a market and taking a cut. The public, and their expectations about how a team will perform, is what truly sets the market. The public is who you have to beat.
Why take the under? Because the public likes the overs. It's a simple matter of math: unless the New York Giants beat a team of gridiron-loving aliens Space-Jam style, the NFL will finish every year with a .500 record: 256 wins, 256 losses. But, if you add up the win totals for every team that were just published by Cantor sportsbook, you don't get 256. You get 262.5.
So is beating the house just a simple matter of taking every under? No, because you have to pay Vegas for the privilege of betting on their market, also called the vig. If you were to bet every single under this year, the expected bet value is -90%. (Betting the over, by contrast, would have an expected outcome of -250%.)
Let me quickly define expected bet value. Obviously, every bet is either a win or lose. Expected bet value is, if we could make the bet multiple times, how much we would win on average. A bet with a positive value is what we are after. As long as we make enough of them and do the work right, the individual outcomes don't matter; we will come out on top in the end. In investing, we would call this an expected ROI, or return on investment.
We have to be smart about which teams we take. To that end, I have calculated expected win totals AND 95% confidence intervals for each team. The confidence interval is just as important as the win total, because it will change my opinion about whether to bet a number depending on if the vig is -110 or -130. Put simply, the more confident I am that a team can beat the total, the higher the expected bet value, and the more likely I am to take it. Here are my top 10 bets.
(Full disclosure: Note that, while I will be revisiting these bets throughout the year, I don't plan on actually laying any money on these myself, as this is a new, as-yet-untested betting system I am trying out here. Plus, I don't like tying up any significant portion of my bankroll on bets that don't pay out for 8 months.)
10. Atlanta Falcons OVER 9 wins (+105) Last year: 10-6 This year: 9-7 Expected bet value: 7.3%
Yes, after talking about unders for 500 words, I'm starting off the an over bet. Don't worry, the unders are coming later. I've actually got 4 overs and 6 unders in my 10 bets here, but the unders are all higher expected value. This bet is a function of the +105 moneyline. The most likely outcome for Atlanta, in my estimation, is 9-10 wins this year. However, because Vegas is paying you to take this side of the bet - everybody else wants the under - the slightly better than 50/50 shot of winning has a positive expected value outcome.
9. Miami Dolphins OVER 7.5 wins (-110) Last year: 6-10 This year projection: 9-7 Expected bet value: 7.7%
In general, there are three reasons I'll bet a team: they were better/worse than everyone thought last year; their strength of schedule changed significantly between this year and last year; or an offseason roster change has resulted in the team being over/under valued. Miami falls into category 1: they were an unlucky 9-7 team last year.
8. New Orleans OVER 10 wins (-125) Last year: 13-3 This year projection: 12-4 Expected bet value: 13.3%
Here's the biggest category 3 change on the board. The Saint's offseason turmoil is well documented. Head coach suspended, multiple players suspended, and QB Drew Brees still isn't under contract. However, they still play in an incredibly easy division and Brees, one way or another, will be back. I see a less than 10% chance that they go 9-7 or worse.
7. Kansas City UNDER 8 wins (-110) Last year: 7-9 This year projection: 5-11 Expected bet value: 15.0%
KC was lucky to even get to 7 wins last year, grabbing a couple of late season victories after changing head coaches. Maybe Todd Haley was the problem, but I don't think Romeo Crennel is the solution.
6. Tampa Bay UNDER 6 wins (-120) Last year: 4-12 This year projection: 5-11 Expected bet value: 16.2%
Firing the worst head coach in football was probably worth a win, but that's all I'm crediting them with.
5. San Fransisco OVER 10 wins (+105) Last year: 12-4 This year projection: 11-5 Expected bet value: 17.8%
This is my last over bet on the board, and I was honestly surprised to see it one float to the top. So surprised, in fact, I had to go back to their schedule to see where their wins will come from. If they go 6-0 in their weak division, they have to go 4-6 against GB, DET, MIN, NYJ, BUF, NYG, CHI, NO, MIA, and NE. MIN, NYJ, and BUF are Ws. GB (away) and NE (away) are probably losses. That leaves them to win one of NYG, DET, and CHI at home.
If you have anymore doubt, look at that moneyline: +105. That means the public, who LOVES to bet overs, is fading SF this year. If you are on the wrong side of the public, you are probably doing it right.
5. Indianapolis UNDER 5.5 wins (-135) Last year: 2-14 This year projection: 4-12 Expected bet value: 21.7%
Swap in Andrew Luck for Curtis Painter last year, does this team get 4 more wins? I don't think so.
3. New York Giants UNDER 9.5 wins (-120) Last year: 9-7 This year projection: 7-9 Expected bet value: 23.9%
This one hurts me, but setting aside their glorious postseason last year, NOBODY thought this was a good team last year. They were one Tony Romo lob pass from staying home this past offseason, and probably firing their coach. Plus, this year the schedule gets tougher - in fact, they have what I figure to be the toughest schedule in the NFL this year; their out of division schedule includes games against GB, PIT, BAL, SF, and NO. They still play in one of the toughest divisions in football. I'll be delighted to be wrong about this one, but expectations are low.
2. Denver UNDER 9.5 wins (-120) Last year: 8-8 This year projection: 6-10 Expected bet value: 25.2%
I know, I know, Peyton Manning. 6-10 might be low, but 10-6 is WAY too high. We all know that Denver was lucky to even get to 8 wins last year. Here's an over/under for you: how many games until Manning's neck explodes?
1. St. Louis UNDER 6 wins (-120) Last year: 2-14 This year projection: 3-13 Expected bet value: 35.4%
Sam Bradford, aka David Bromstad from HGTV's Color Splash, is going to be out of the league in 2 years. They were terrible last year, and have the second toughest schedule in football this year, with two divisional matchups against SF, plus GB, NE, and DET. In fact, the only truly bad team they have on the schedule is TB, and that game is on the road. St. Louis fan(s), you have a rough season ahead.
Denver had something like 18 snaps inside the 5 yard line against Indianapolis last week that resulted in a total of 3 points. At home. Watching them flaccidly trying to punch it in was no doubt reminiscent of Ted Haggart's sexual encounters with his wife. Just didn't seem to be that into it.
PITTSBURGH (-2) over Baltimore
Why am I convinced that Pittsburgh is the best team in the league? Their three opponents are 0-3 against them, and 6-0 in their other games. Not only that, but in the three games against Pittsburgh, those three teams have an average margin of defeat of 13 points; against the rest of the league, they have an average margin of victory of 16 points. That's a 29 point goddamn swing. And THAT is some fucking statistical analysis.
Cincinatti (-3) over CLEVELAND
Jake Delhomme is back! Red alert! Red alert!!
GREEN BAY (-14.5) over Detroit
Detroit, you really disappointed me last week.
Carolina (+13.5) over NEW ORLEANS
Are we still sure New Orleans is an elite team? They've only beaten their opponents by a total of 8 points in the two games they've won, and those teams have a combined record of 1-5 right now.
ATLANTA (-7) over San Fransisco
The Falcons take care of business at home against bad teams.
ST. LOUIS (+1) over Seattle
Seattle needed two kicks run back for touchdowns and their huge home field advantage to eke out a win against San Diego. St. Louis, meanwhile, just took care of some goddamn business at home against Washington.
NY Jets (-5.5) over BUFFALO
That was quite a show by the Bills offense last week, but it also included some mitigating factors, including a kickoff return for a touchdown, and that New England's defense sucks balls.
Indianapolis (-7) over JACKSONVILLE
Okay, Indy, I give, I give. I'll stop betting against you. Jesus Christ you take that shit personally.
Houston (-3) over OAKLAND
Goddammit Houston, way to shit the bed at home when you could have ended Dallas' season. Now I need to continue hearing about the Cowboys as if they are a legitimate team. FUCK. And Sebastian Janikowski, you are a worthless sack of crap. You have one job, and you get paid more than anybody else on the planet to do it: kick a ball through some steel poles. How do you miss THREE TIMES?!
SAN DIEGO (-8.5) over Arizona
Jesus, Arizona is bad. I have no idea how they actually score any points.
PHILADELPHIA (-6) over Washington
At what point are we all going to admit that Michael Vick is for real? I still hear people saying shit like "well, he's being playing against bad defenses, let's see him do it against a real team." He's not just playing against bad defenses, he is destroying them like he destroyed all those dogs. It's like the Detroit Lions defense lost a dog fight and he had to put them down in the cruelest way possible.
Chicago (+3.5) over NY GIANTS
Wow, Tom Coughlin, way to be a fucking disciplinarian, that shit is working out GREAT. Eight - EIGHT!!! - personal foul calls against Tennessee last week. That's as many yards of penalties as Vince Young threw for. I'm not picking this team again until his withered red face is fired.
MIAMI (+1) over New England
I'll take the points for the home team in the division game. Did you like how that sentence made it sound like I know what I'm doing? It's funny, because...
Someday in the not too distant future, I will be taking my PE exam. On that magical day, I will no longer be spending all my free time studying for said exam, and may once again write something on this here forum on a more regular basis. Someday. But at least today you get some more of my expert advice.
NY GIANTS (-3) over Tennessee
Daytrader and I had a long heart-to-heart about the Giants last week during half time of their butt whupping by the Colts. Ultimately, we feel it came down to the coaching. The Giants came out in a dime defense, which means you take out all your big fat linemen and play the pass. The Colts responded by saying, "Thank you very much," putting all their big fat linemen in, and then running the ball down the Giants gullet.
Merely a week after watching Houston run up and down the field on the Colts, the Giants, perplexingly, came out throwing. Then, down three scores at the half, they had to keep throwing and throwing. All those drop backs gave Freeney and Mathis, the Colts defensive ends, lots of opportunities to sack Eli. And sack him they did, including a strip-sack that led directly to a Colts touchdown.
In short, the Giants coaches were outsmarted. Or they outsmarted themselves. This week, they get back at home against a Tennessee team that suddenly looks out of sorts. And with Chris Johnson coming to down, I don't expect to see them try that dime defense bullshit again.
At least, these are the things I tell myself so I can sleep at night.
NEW ENGLAND (-14.5) over Buffalo
I give you your suicide pool whipping boys of 2010, the Buffalo Bills!
Cleveland (+10.5) over BALTIMORE
I don't have alot of rules in life, but this is rule #1: never take a team favored by more points than they have scored in a game all season. Baltimore has only scored 10 points in each of their first two games.
TAMPA BAY (+2.5) over Pittsburgh
Once you are done laughing, listen up: Pittsburgh is going to be starting their eighth string QB this weekend (I think Steelers starting quarterback is up their with cop and fireman as the most dangerous job in America right now), and Tampa Bay showed they can stop a team with a shitty quarterback and a good running game (Carolina). So I'll take the points at home, thank you very much.
Cincinatti (-3) over CAROLINA
What, exactly, happened to Matt Moore? The way that bandwagon crashed it looks like it was driven by Dale Earnhardt.
Atlanta (+4) over NEW ORLEANS
Here's the real question: which QB should I start in my fantasy league, Drew Brees or Matt Ryan?
KANSAS CITY (+3) over San Fransisco
Wait, you mean I get a 2-0 team hosting an 0-2 team AND three points?
Detroit (+11) over MINNESOTA
See Rule #1: Minnesota scored 9 points week 1 and 10 in week 2, and yet is favored by 11 here. This is my upset pick of the week: I say Detroit wins outright and ends Minnesota's season. HOUSTON (-2.5) over Dallas
Is this a misprint? It's only 2.5 points, not 12.5 points? Because I would still take Houston. Dallas is done. I tried to warn you, Suze.
Washington (-2.5) over ST. LOUIS
What a choke job by Washington. Nice job blitzing on fourth and ten, leaving the best wide receiver in the game in single coverage. Although when Gary Kubiak elected to punt instead of kick the 53-yard field goal (or just trying for the first down) inside Washington territory in overtime, I thought that was game over for Houston. What a total lack of testicular fortitude.
Philadelphia (-2.5) over JACKSONVILLE
Andy Reid's mistake wasn't making Michael Vick the starter. It was making such a big deal out of Kevin Kolb in the first place. We're talking about KEVIN KOLB, for fuck's sake. Andy Reid once again proves Rule #2: Walrus' are terrible at making decisions. Don't let a walrus coach your football team.
DENVER (+5.5) over Indianapolis
Hold your horses, Colts fans (get it?) Denver isn't liable to hand the game over to you the way the Giants did last Sunday night. Let's see them earn one first before making them heavy road favorites.
SEATTLE (+5.5) over San Diego
This line is an over-reaction. Seattle is still a very tough place to visiting teams to play.
ARIZONA (-4.5) over Oakland
Let's just keep going, okay?
MIAMI (-2) over NY Jets
I'm not saying that drunk driving is ever okay, but isn't it a hundred times worse when a rich guy does it? Braylon Edwards could pay a guy $100k a year just to drive him around when he's drunk, the same way Plaxico could pay a guy $100k a year to carry his gun for him. At least when a poor guy is doing it, he can justify it: what was he supposed to do, leave his car there?
Green Bay (-3) over CHICAGO
Wow, you mean Chicago beat both Detroit AND Dallas! That's amazing, that they were able to beat those two horrible teams, only one of whom they technically should have lost to. Give me a break.
I may have mentioned this before, but it needs to be said again: I am like a crackhead about to get my crack fix on crack rocks. I am EXCITED FOR THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. I'm been watching any football-like substance I could get my eyeballs on for the last 9 months, including high school football, college football, pre-season football and, god help me, futbol. So while some other people might not like the new Thursday opening night tradition, for me, it is like finding an oasis in the desert. And in that oasis, there is a football game on.
I'm taking over the picks column this year; not that Daytrader did a bad job, per se. I mean, he did PICK all of the games, as in, he did manage to announce a choice about what his opinion of the outcome would be successfully. But if you were gambling based on his advice, then you are not reading this, because you sold your computer at the pawn shop and your electricity has been shut off. Also, you were murdered by your bookie for unpaid debts. Such a tragedy.
Home team listed in caps:
NEW ORLEANS (-5) over Minnesota
A rematch of the NFC championship game at the same stadium. So what's changed since New Orleans won this game by 3 points last year? As far as I can tell, the Saints are as good as ever, while Minnesota has gotten worst: Sidney Rice, their #1 receiver, is out; Percy Harvin, their #2 receiver, can't see straight through his migraine headaches; and Brett Favre, who took a brutal pounding in the NFC title tilt, is already getting injections in his ankle just thinking about facing this defense again. That has to be worth at least 2 more points.
In fact, I can't believe Favre is playing. If he wasn't on this silly consecutive games streak, he probably sits this one out, right? Or stays retired until Week 4?
Carolina (+6.5) over NY GIANTS
Speaking of rematches, here's another: in the last game the Giants ever played in the old stadium, Carolina came in and beat them by, if I remember correctly, 1000 points. Again, I have to ask: what has changed? Yes, I am a Giants fan, so maybe my pessimism about the season is clouding my judgment, but the Giants have to prove to me that they are going to be a different team this year, and a breakout pre-season by their #5 wide receiver is not what I mean.
(Quick side note: do you think it sucks as a professional athlete having a name that rhymes with "boo"? Victor Cruz, the aforementioned breakout, would get the "Cruuuuuuuuz" call every time he made a play, but if you were paying attention, it just sounded like booing. Same thing for former Yankee great Mike "The Moooooose" Mussina.)
Miami (-3) over BUFFALO
I looked at this game long and hard for my suicide pool pick. Buffalo is going to be one of those teams you can pick against all year (ultimately, I decided to wait until Buffalo goes back to Miami to pick them). Quick, name a player on Buffalo. The only one I can think of is Lee Evans, which I sometimes get confused with Bob Evans, which just makes me hungry. But Miami will win this game; they get a break by going to Buffalo in early September, when it is still warm, rather than, say, late September, by which time upstate New York has transformed into a frozen hellscape from which none may escape.
PITTSBURGH (+2.5) over Atlanta
Ben Roethlisburger didn't play defense, and Troy Polamalu is back. This is going to be a low scoring game - take the points on the home team.
Detroit (+6.5) over CHICAGO
Detroit, one of last year's punching bags, is going to be significantly better this year. Sure, significantly better doesn't have to mean good, or even over .500; it can mean 6-10. But they've got a young team with some talent at a spot other than wide receiver now that Matt Millen is making the draft picks anymore.
Chicago, meanwhile, is a team in total disarray. Just remember when Ndakomong Suh is running back his strip-sack of Jay Cutler for a touchdown, and everybody is booing (Cutler doesn't rhyme with boo, so you can tell the difference), I warned you.
Cincinatti (+4.5) over NEW ENGLAND
Before you go crazy, check out this. Yes, the day the NFL season kicked off, Tom Brady was in a car accident. Yes, I know he's fine. That's not the point. It's an omen: this Patriots season is when the wheels finally come off. It's over. And if that's still not enough of an omen, check out this.
Cleveland (+3) over TAMPA BAY
The line (3 points) means the bookmakers think the Browns and the Bucs are just as good (or, if you prefer, just as bad), but I don't buy it. The Browns showed life at the end of last season (winning against Pittsburgh and putting 41 up on KC down the stretch), and Josh Cribbs is a legitimately exciting player. The only thing exciting about the Bucs is that I get to pick against them in my suicide pool all year.
JACKSONVILLE (-2.5) over Denver
If nobody shows up to your home games, does it still count as home field advantage?
HOUSTON (+2) over Indianapolis
Is the AFC South the best division in football? Tennessee has Chris Johnson, the best player in the game and, once Kerry Collins' corpse was pushed overboard last season, finished 8-2 after their 0-6 start. Indy is the reigning AFC Champion and still has Peyton Manning. And with even a reasonable amount of luck last season, rather than the multiple groin kicks they received, Houston would have finished 10-6 instead of 8-8.
One of those should-have-won games was against Indy, IN Indy, when they lost a touchdown on a freaky goal-line fumble that was overturned on replay when Houston stupidly called a timeout that gave the refs time to review it, AND when the choker of a kicker choked on a kick.
If Houston is ready to make the next step, they win this game at home. And I think they are.
TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Oakland
Go ahead, pick Oakland. Three Chris Johnson touchdowns and 250 yards later, you'll feel really dumb.
PHILADELPHIA (+3) over Green Bay
The football pundit-industrial complex has gotten very excited about Green Bay this pre-season. Until I see them do it in the regular season, I'm taking the points for the home team.
San Fransisco (-3) over SEATTLE
The lines are always very conservative week one. If this game was replayed in a month, this would be at least a touchdown. And I would STILL take San Fransisco. Seattle may be the worst team in football, and they have a new coach straight from college, which never. Ever. Works.
Arizona (-4) over ST. LOUIS
After Matt Leinart's junior year, when he won the Heisman, he was the consensus overall #1 pick. Instead, he went back to school, took a single ballroom dancing class as his entire course load, lost the national championship game, slid to #10, couldn't beat out an elderly man for the starting job, and then, when the elderly man finally retired, instead of getting that job, he was traded to Houston. The lesson, as always: don't take ballroom dancing classes.
WASHINGTON (+3.5) over Dallas
I wouldn't want him as my Super Bowl quarterback (unless they institute a rule change where vomiting is worth 3 points), but D McNabb, in week one, at home, in revenge mode against a Dallas team that embarrassed him in the playoffs? I'm okay with that.
My bigger concern for Washington is Clinton Portis, who couldn't get on the field last year without suffering a concussion. I think by the end of the season he would get a concussion if he had an especially vigorous bowel movement. He was openly considering retirement before the season. Is his heart (or his brain) really going to be in it to win it this year?
NY JETS (-2.5) over Baltimore
I'm hoping that Hard Knocks and the Jets preseason was an elaborate ruse to make other teams think they would be throwing the ball this season, and then they will come out Monday night and rush for 300 yards while Sanchez has 10-15 drop backs. Also, I'm hoping Antonio Cromartie can make it through the game without getting another woman pregnant.
KANSAS CITY (+4.5) over San Diego
Remember when SD almost lost to Oakland in their first game on Monday Night last year? I remember.
Last night, I watched almost the entire Boise State/Virginia Tech college football contest. Why did I do this, when I couldn't give less of a shit about college football? Because I am a junkie, and I've got the shakes. The NFL season is so tantalizingly close, but I need it. I need it now. College and playing Madden aren't doing it anymore. If there was a way I could start turning tricks (or, preferably, turn Suzi out as my ho) to get my football fix now, I would be typing this from a street corner.
This means that our essential NFL coverage here at the OC is about to crank up, with all the (horrible) NFL picks and (meaningless) power rankings you can shake a stick at. And it starts with the annual Pro Football Picks League on Yahoo!(.)
Last year, I overdid it with checking the options boxes, as we had both confidence points AND picking against the spread. This year, I've dialed it down: you just have to pick winners (no spread), but the confidence points remain. If you want to join, here's the info:
Guess what...only three more NFL games left this season...well four if you include the Pro Bowl, but I'm probably not going to analyze that game. Looking back at last weekend we again found three of the four games as boring blowouts. These playoffs have really been uninteresting. Maybe this week will be better. But before we go into this week, let's take a look at the standings:
Jesse: 12 (3-1 last week) Jim: 11 (3-1 last week) The Suze: 9 (2-2 last week) Daytrader: 6 (2-2 last week) Rose: 6 (3-1 last week) Greg: 4 (2-2 last week)
With four points at stake for each correct pick this week, who knows what will happen! OK...now for this weekend's games.
New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts (-7.5) Well the Jets shocked the world last weekend by beating the Chargers. Being a nine point underdog definitely helped with people betting on them, but I don't think most people thought that they would actually get the victory. While the Jets did play their game, the Chargers really helped out. Three missed field goals (two of them very makeable) and a very bad coaching decision to on-side kick with a timeout and the two-minute warning left really helped the Chargers lose the game. Now I don't want to take anything away from the Jets because they did play their type of a game, but I think that if San Diego makes one of those field goals the Jets probably lose.
Switching to the Colts, they shut down the Ravens last week. Only allowing three points to a team that blew out the Patriots the week before is something to say about the Colts' defense. And I don't need to say much about the offense. Peyton Manning looks unstoppable right now.
So now we look to this game. The Jets run the ball better and play better defense than the Ravens, but the Colts' offense is better than the Chargers' offense. Looking at last week, it would seem that the Colts would have the advantage. But the Jets' defense has been able to change and adapt to each offense they've played. But the Colts should have a little revenge factor here. If they didn't pull their starters in that Week 16 game against the Jets, they probably would have won, most likely would still be unbeaten (assuming they kept their starters in against Buffalo too), and more importantly the Jets wouldn't be in the playoffs. I personally like both of these teams and will root for the winner in the Superbowl, but I think the Colts have just too much firepower. If the Jets were playing anyone else besides Peyton Manning I probably would go with the Jets, but Manning is just too good and I think the Colts will be able to put up points.
Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints (-3.0) Wow, the Vikings brought the Cowboys back down to earth last week. The Minnesota defensive line got to Tony Romo and basically showed all teams that Romo cannot handle consistent pressure. I think teams are going to look at that for next year. But back to the Vikings, not only did their defense do the job, Brett Favre did his job and was perfect. Just look at that first touchdown pass to Sidney Rice. Favre threw it over 40 yards and Rice didn't even have to move his arms and the ball just appeared in his hands, who was in full stride! And the Vikings sent a message by pouring it on at the end by throwing a 4th down touchdown pass with less than two minutes to go up by 24.
Moving to the Saints, I didn't expect their performance last week. I was on the Cardinals' bandwagon. But New Orleans just came out and took it to Arizona, after the Cardinals scored a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Reggie Bush had his breakout game last week, with a rushing touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown. Their defense played well enough to stop a Cardinals' offense that looked to be unstoppable.
But for this game things will be different. The Vikings are on the road where they are only 4-4 this season. The real question for me will be can the Vikings' defense get pressure on Drew Brees. And I'm not sure. Two of their starting defensive linemen are injured, and even though they both will probably play, I doubt they'll be 100%. If they can't get to Brees, I see the Saints being able to throw on the Minnesota secondary. And that might open up the Saints' running game. If New Orleans can win time of possession I think they should get the win. But what about the Vikings' offense and Mr. Favre? Some people are a little worried that Favre will have a poor game, but I'm not one of them. Favre will be playing very close to where he grew up, and it will be an emotional game. And he ALWAYS plays his best in these type of emotional games. Here is the key for me. Can Adrian Peterson run the ball? If he can I like the Vikings. As much as I would like to see a Favre-Manning Superbowl, I think that Favre will lose another NFC Championship Game, and I'm taking the Saints.
After yesterday's football results, three players remain out of 16 in the $50 buy-in suicide pool Suzi and I are participating in this year. Two of them are me and Suzi. The third is Suzi's boss, Colin. The rules of the pool are simple: you must pick a winning team to stay in it each week, and you cannot pick a team twice. Last man standing wins, with 2nd and 3rd place prizes also given out. The pool of teams which could be selected from was reset for the playoffs.
I claimed to Suzi that there was an optimal, clearly correct course of action to be taken. She resisted, saying that the facts were not all in yet. What follows is a wordy, esoteric, and ultimately pointless exercise in calculating the odds and value of each possible selection and outcome. However, there will be tables. So that's something to look forward to.
Well the Wild Card week of the NFL Playoffs consisted of three duds and an instant classic. I don't know if that then qualifies it as a "good" football weekend, but that Packers-Cardinals game was fun. Hopefully this week will have more competitive games, and historically the Divisional Round does have the best match-ups.
But before we get into analyzing this week's games, I want to update the standings for the Unofficial Playoff Pick 'Em League that I'm keeping track of.
Now, this week you get 2 points for every correct pick (against the spread) so if you didn't send me your picks you can still get in the action by sending them to email@example.com. As you can see, everyone else is still tied with Rose and Greg.
OK, now to the analysis!
Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints (-7.0) In case you were wondering, the over/under on this game is 57. And I would take the over in a heartbeat. These are arguably the best two offenses left in the playoffs, and maybe not so arguably the worst two defenses left. In my mind, I pretty much equate these two offenses. They both have a quarterback that can throw the ball and receivers that can catch the ball. I give the Cardinals a slight edge in the receiver category, but the Saints get an edge in the running category. But do you think that these teams will even try to run the ball? As I mentioned, the defenses are both pretty lame, so it comes down to intangibles for me. The Saints have the home field advantage, but the Cardinals have the experience advantage. The last game that the Saints won was a 26-23 win over the Falcons on December 13th. That's a long time to go without a win. The Cardinals are flawed, especially on defense, but the Saints are overrated. I see this game being close, so that alone tells me to pick the Cardinals against the spread, but I see Arizona winning this game, so I'm definitely taking the Cardinals. Quick fact: Since the NFL went to this 6 team conference playoff structure in 1990, no NFC #1 seed lost their first game since the Cowboys lost to the Giants in 2007. The Giants lost as the #1 seed last season. Might the new trend continue???
Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts (-7.0) The Colts have lost their last THREE home playoff games when they've had a Bye in the Wild Card Round. That's pretty incredible. The Colts have won more regular season games in the 2000s decade than any other team in any other decade in NFL history, yet they have only one Superbowl title. I guess you could call them the Atlanta Braves of the '90s, although Atlanta did lose FOUR times in the World Series that decade. But the playoffs have been a struggle for the Colts. Some argue that it's because they never play out their games during the end of the regular season since they have everything clinched. I'm not so sure about that. The past two years they've been knocked out by the Chargers, a team that is built to beat them. I don't think that Baltimore is that kind of team. The Ravens can obviously run the ball, and that will eat up the clock and keep the Colt offense on the sideline. But the Ravens cannot win this game through the air, which means that the Ravens cannot fall behind. And I'm not sure that the Ravens' defense can stop Peyton Manning. The loss of Wes Welker was a huge deal for the Patriots last week, and Tom Brady didn't have anyone to throw the ball to. The Colts have a deep and talented receiving corp. I can't see the Ravens stopping the Colts. I think that this game might be the only blowout of the weekend as the Colts cruise.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings (-3.0) Well this match-up isn't as good as Packers-Vikings would have been, but it's damn close. The "red hot" Cowboys head to Minnesota and take on their old nemesis from the '90s Brett Favre. Just how much is left in Favre's tank? That's the question for this game. He looked great against a lame duck Giants team during the last week of the season, but before that...yuck-o. This game is going to be won in the trenches. Offensive line versus defensive line. These two teams might be the two best balanced offensive and defensive teams left in the playoffs, which means that the winner has a good shot of representing the NFC in the Superbowl. So that means that the winner is going to be the team that wins the all important (and often forgotten) Special Teams battle. A kickoff or punt return for a touchdown. Maybe the punter that is better at playing the field position game. Perhaps a long field goal. Things just look too even everywhere else. Two gun-slinger quarterbacks...two good running games...two good receiving corps...two defenses that can get to the quarterback. I don't know enough about these team's Special Teams to make a confident pick, but I like Dallas in this game. Wouldn't it just make sense for Dallas to win and Arizona to win and then have the NFC Championship Game played in Jerryworld? Of course it would.
New York Jets vs. San Diego Chargers (-9.0) Did you know that if the Ravens win and the Jets win, the last game ever played at Giants Stadium would be the AFC Championship Game? Wouldn't that be something? Anyway, that would require the Ravens to win (which I don't think is going to happen) and the Jets to win (which you'll have to read on to find out what I think). The Jets just shut down the Bengals last week, and should have won by more if Braylon Edwards catches that long touchdown pass. But San Diego is on an ELEVEN game winning streak! WFT! Phillip Rivers is poised to win his first Superbowl this season, joining him with Eli Manning and Ben Roethlesberger (who has two), basically cementing that 2004 draft quarterback class as one of the best in NFL history. But speaking of 2004, let's not forget that the Jets went into San Diego in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and beat the Chargers, albeit with Drew Brees at quarterback. Now, I know that Mark Sanchez is a rookie quarterback, but last year as a rookie Joe Flacco of the Ravens won his first two playoff games, so it can be done. The Jets' defense is for real, and although Thomas Jones is a little banged up at running back, have you seen Shonn Greene. And let's not forget kicker AND last week's punter Jay Feely. I know that he's a kicker, but he's a damn good football player. If the Jets can run the ball and control the time of possession, they might gave a chance to win. Regardless of winning though, I think the Jets will keep it close enough to cover, although if they get down big early, it'll only get worse if they need to rely on Sanchez to throw all over the place. We might see a new playoff interception record by the Chargers' defense.
So even though the NFL Regular Season is over, it doesn't mean that I can't make incorrect playoff predictions and embarrass myself further on this blog. In our Yahoo Pick 'Em league, we started with 12 teams. After a week or two, two teams basically stopped picking, thus leaving 10 teams remaining. Out of those 10 teams, I finished in 8th place. Which sucks! On further review, if we did NOT use Confidence Points, I would have finished 10th. My win-loss record was the worst. But since I wrote a weekly blog (most weeks) and told everyone my picks I influenced everyone else to pick the opposite and then they won. Other people would have done bad also if I didn't disclose my picks, at least that's what I tell myself to make me feel better.
Anyway, there are four games this weekend. Interestingly, three of the four are rematches of games played LAST WEEK! And two of those three are in the same location! Also, if the Ravens would have lost last week to the Raiders, all FOUR games would have been rematches, since the Texans would have gotten in and then played the Patriots. I doubt that's ever happened before. I doubt that even these three match-ups have ever happened a week later before either. Just a piece of meaningless NFL trivia that I find interesting. OK...to the incorrect picks!
New York Jets vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) People (Texan fans) can say that the Jets backed into the playoffs, and in reality, they did. I firmly believe that if the Colts didn't pull their starters out against the Jets a few weeks ago then the Colts would have won that game. I completely disagree with the Colts taking them out in the first place, but that's not the Jets' fault. If the Texans, Steelers, Broncos, and any other team complaining would have WON a game earlier in the season, this would all be a moot point. (Texans: Lost to the Jets in Mark Sanchez's first NFL start, Steelers: Lost at home to Oakland and on the road to at the time 1-win Cleveland, Broncos: Home losses to both Oakland and Kansas City, and a road loss to the Redskins.) So I'm sick of the "backing in" complaint. Plus, last week the Jets would have beaten the Bengals regardless of who was playing for Cincy, and their starters did play a good portion of the game. So that brings us to this week. The Jets DESTROYED the Bengals in New York just a few days ago, but this one is in Cincinnati. Now I'm sure that the Bengals will sell this game out, but they've had a tough time selling out this season, and that's with a WINNING TEAM! If the Jets can play defense like they did last week and run the ball, they'll control the clock and win the game. I'm sorry Bengals, a 37-0 whoopin' last week cannot be ignored, regardless of who was playing. My bold prediction from last week comes true as the New York Jets win a playoff game.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (-4.0) Where were the Eagles last weekend!? With a chance to get the #2 seed in the NFC, giving them a home game next week and a BYE this week, the Eagles lay an egg (hehe) in Dallas, inflating the egos of a football team that has no reason to have such a big ego. Might I remind everyone that the Dallas Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since 1996! And I have to say that history is NOT on the Cowboys' side. Not only because of that stat, but might I remind people about two years ago, when the Giants, who were swept by the Cowboys in their 2 Regular Season games, went to Big D and beat the #1 seed Cowboys in the Divisional Round. And not only that, but this is an Eagles team that has gone to FIVE NFC Championship Games, including last season's game. Philly has the experience and Dallas does not. I cannot expect the Eagles to play as bad as they did last week. They are notorious for having 3 or 4 dud games a season. (Losing in Oakland and getting blown out by New Orleans at home, granted that was when Kevin Kolb was the quarterback.) As much as I hate rooting for either of these teams, I know that if the Eagles win, they'll lose in the NFC Championship Game (or to the Patriots in the Superbowl) so I like the Philadelphia Eagles to figure things out against Dallas and get it done.
Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots (-3.5) This is a little interesting game now isn't it. Six days ago if you told me that the Ravens would travel to New England and asked me to pick the winner I would say "Patriots" without hesitating. But now, Wes Welker is injured, and there should be no complaining about why he was in the game. He was in the game because he's a football player and he "plays to win the games". He didn't even get hit on that play, so no crying Patriots fans. So even though I don't have a problem with the way he was injured or the reason why he was in the game, it is a fact that he will NOT be in this game. And that greatly affects the Patriots pass attack. However, might I drop a name to all of the saddened Pats fans. Kevin Faulk. Kevin Faulk is the exact same player as Wes Welker. Good hands, scrappy player, gets first downs. And even though Randy Moss will probably get a lot more attention, the Patriots won those three Superbowls without a true #1 receiver in my opinion, which is why I believe that Tom Brady is deserving of the credit he gets. I know that Baltimore went to Miami and Tennessee last year and beat them in the playoffs, but I can't see the Ravens going to New England, where the Patriots are undefeated this season, and winning this game. So I'm sticking with my hypothetical prediction of six days ago and picking the New England Patriots.
Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals (-1.0) I find it a little ridiculous that the Packers are the underdog in this game. The Packers dismantled the Cardinals last week, and even though they had nothing to play for (and is why they took out a good deal of their starters not far into the game) they should have had a better performance. Green Bay looks unstoppable right now. Their passing offense is clicking. Their running attack is starting to catch its stride. Their defense is playing like one of the best in the league. A lot of people are jumping on this bandwagon. And why shouldn't they? Their path to the Superbowl would go through Arizona, New Orleans, and Minnesota, all teams that have taken several steps backwards in the recent months. And I like Green Bay to travel deep into the playoffs, IF they win in the desert. And I'm not so sure about that. I bring up the playoff experience again. The Cardinals went to the Superbowl last year, and lost by the second best play in Superbowl history in my opinion. (That Santonio Holmes catch does NOT beat out the Manning-Tyree combo in Superbowl XLII. I've seen TD catches on the sideline like that before, Mike Wallace had one to beat the Packers earlier this season and Greg Lewis caught one for Minnesota to beat the 49ers earlier this season too. I've NEVER seen anything like that Manning-Tyree hook up. The combination of Manning escaping the rush and Tyree catching the ball with his helmet and with Rodney Harrison draped all over him...incredible! What are we supposed to be talking about?) I think this is going to be a close game, and I just have a feeling that the Arizona Cardinals are going to win this game, just like they won every playoff game last year when everyone else thought that they would lose.
12. Panthro (aka Brad): 47 points, 0 weeks won 11. Gomer (aka Dustin): 359 points, 0 weeks won
Fraternity brothers who apparently got bored with the NFL. Brad picked Week 1, and then got distracted by, I'm going to go ahead and guess Japanese tentacle porn. SOMEBODY GET HIM A BLANKET! Dustin picked through Week 7, and then he, too, disappeared.
Tier 4: The Professors of Fail
10. Plaxico's Gun Holster (aka Jesse, aka me): 908 points, 0 weeks won 9. Particle Men (aka Rick): 926 points, 1 week won 8. Stock Brokers (aka Daytrader): 930 points, 1 week won
This group represents, by my estimation, 18+ years of higher education. Apparently none of it involved picking winners in football games. At least student loan holders don't break your thumbs if you miss a payment!
Tier 3: I'll Still Respect You In The Morning
7. I heart football (aka Sister Rose): 945 points, 0 weeks won 6. JaMichael (aka Yaworm): 955 points, 1 week won 5. Plaxico's Sweatpants (aka Fat Tony): 965 points, 2 weeks won
This group didn't quite make it to a .500 record on their picks, but didn't poop all over themselves either. Plus, I think one of them might have been using a random number generator.
Tier 2: The 1000+ Point Club
4. Punt Party (aka Greg): 1,022 points, 3 weeks won 3. Michael Vick's Rape Stand (aka the Suze): 1,053 points, 4 weeks won 2. MinicooperChickGoPats (aka Selma): 1,115 points, 3 weeks won
I can't believe that neither Selma or the Suze won this. Selma visited for a week before Thanksgiving, and that's when I found out that she did actual research for this! Unfortunately, part of that research included reading Daytrader's picks column, which likely held her back from the ultimate prize.
The Suze won the most weeks AND had the most correct overall picks, going 138-115. She was hampered by her Week 15 performance, in which she correctly picked 4 games that she neglected to put any points on. However, even that would not have been enough to overcome the insurmountable lead of...
Tier 1: The Champion
1. Brett Farve is the Antichrist (aka Jim): 1,132 points, 2 weeks won
That's right, ladies and gentlemen: the winner of our NFL pick league does not know how to spell Brett Favre's last name. Truly, this is the sport of kings.
Believe it or not this is the last week of the regular season. It seems like the NFL season started yesterday. Remember when the Giants started 5-0. And who can forget when Mark Sanchez and the Jets beat the Patriots. And speaking of the Patriots, remember that 4th and 2 play against the Colts. And what about that crazy tipped ball in Week One to give the Broncos that win over the Bengals. But alas, the regular season has come to an end and my Giants are out of the playoffs. Now I can finally watch the games and enjoy them.
OK...to the picks. This week is probably the hardest to predict since some teams just don't care anymore, others don't play their starters, and well I just can't predict any games right. But here's my last stab in the dark. I'm taking TEN underdogs btw.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills (-8.5) Only in Week 17 would you see a spread like this. The Colts ended their season last week. Yeah, I know they're 14-1, but no Superbowl this year. This team doesn't know how to restart itself after it starts resting their starters. I imagine that they aren't going to play anyone meaningful, so that's a big advantage to Buffalo. But the real question is are the Bills' first teamers better than the Colts' second teamers. I say yes, but not by 8.5 points. I like the Colts to cover. Confidence Points: 2
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cleveland Browns (-1.5) Cleveland has been playing better recently, but Jacksonville is still in the AFC playoff hunt. I think the Jaguars should at least be a one point favorite. I'll take the team that still has something to fight for and go with the Jags. Confidence Points: 6
Chicago Bears (-3.0) vs. Detroit Lions A game that has no meaning. But Chicago played the Vikings tough last week, tough enough to win. The Lions don't have anything going well for them. Chicago is going to play and that means that three points should be an easy cover. I like the Bears. Confidence Points: 16
San Fransisco 49ers (-7.0) vs. St. Louis Rams I've tried to fight for this Rams team, but they are pretty hopeless. The 49ers are a team that I feel is going to improve next season. And I think that helps them in this game. Sorry St. Louis but I'm done hoping that you can cover these spreads. Go with San Fran. Confidence Points: 11
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.0) vs. Miami Dolphins Can the Champs stay alive and make it into the playoffs? Actually, both of these teams have an outside chance. Pittsburgh's chance is slightly better than the Dolphins, but Miami is at home. And the Steelers have done this to themselves. I don't think that either team will make the playoffs even if they DO win, but I think Miami has the better chance of winning this game. Confidence Points: 3
New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings (-9.0) The Giants were embarrassed last week at home against the Panthers. But to be fair, almost no one saw that one coming. And I admit that I didn't see the Vikings losing to the Bears last week. The Vikings are definitely playing to win to give themselves a shot at the #2 seed in the playoffs, but I don't like Favre. He's breaking down. Minnesota might win this game, but I don't think (perhaps hope is the better word) by more than a touchdown, so I'm going with the Giants to put up a fight. Confidence Points: 10
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Another meaningless game in the standings, but not so to the Bucs in my opinion. They've been playing better and BEAT the Saints in New Orleans last week who weren't resting their starters. I have a good feeling about this team. Watch out for Tampa next season and watch them win at home today. Confidence Points: 9
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers (Off(0)) Fact: New Orleans is on a two game losing streak, their only two losses of the season. Fact: New Orleans has nothing to play for. Fact: The Panthers beat the Giants last week without their best offensive player. Fact: The Panthers would be in the playoffs if they never started Jake Delhomme. Fact: The Panthers will win this game. Confidence Points: 12
New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans (-8.0) The Pats will either be the #3 or #4 seed in the AFC, which doesn't really matter since no one will have any idea who the #5 or #6 seed will be until the end of the day. The Texans could be one of those Wild Card teams. They need some help with the win, but it's not impossible. But haven't we seen this from Houston before? I like the Patriots to cover, if not just outright win. Confidence Points: 4
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (-3.0) Ugh...who to root for as a Giants' fan. It would have been nice for the Giants to have won last week so I could root for the Eagles. I really don't like either team, but if you put a gun to my head and told me to root for one in this case I would choose Philly. But I'm not really rooting for anyone. Anyway, the Cowboys can thank the Giants for that loss last week which has allowed them to lose this game and still get in. Does anyone think that the Cowboys are going to win this? Haven't we seen this all before? Dallas has lost their last 7 regular season games. Why should this be any different? Fly Eagles, fly. Confidence Points: 8
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos (-13.0) I don't actually know why, but I can see no reason why Josh McDaniels would bench Brandon Marshall? He's their best player, and the Broncos need to win AND get a little help to get into the playoffs. Josh McDaniels is not Bill Belichick, no matter how much he thinks he is. This is a Bronco's team that lost at home to the Raiders WITH Marshall. Thirteen points is too much for me. I like the Chiefs. Confidence Points: 7
Baltimore Ravens (-10.5) vs. Oakland Raiders It's simple for Baltimore. Win and you're in. Oakland beats good teams and lose to bad teams. But I don't see it happening here. 10.5 are a lot of points, but I think the Ravens will get it done and get into the playoffs. Confidence Points: 14
Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) The Packers have a Wild Card spot and the Cardinals could get #2, 3, or 4 seed. What's interesting is that these two teams could potentially meet next week in the Wild Card round. In fact, that makes the most sense to me. So I expect that this is going to be a pretty routine game. I think that the Cardinals have more to play for with the possibility of getting that #2 seed, so I'll take Arizona. Confidence Points: 13
Washington Redskins vs. San Diego Chargers (-4.0) Seriously, the Chargers are only four point favorites?! WOW! I think that the Chargers will play their starters and I think the Redskins are just a defeated team. Gotta go with the Chargers here. Confidence Points: 15
Tennessee Titans (-4.0) vs. Seattle Seahawks Another meaningless game. I think Seattle will play well at home and that Vince Young will kill himself in the off season. That was pretty tasteless. Oh well. Confidence Points: 1
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Jets (-10.0) Well will the Bengals play their starters? If they do I think that they'll win. If they don't, the Jets will probably win, but not by ten points. If the Jets get into the playoffs most people will say that they didn't deserve it. They probably wouldn't have beaten the Colts last week with Peyton Manning, but that's how the cookie crumbles. Bold prediction alert: If the Jets make the playoffs they will win at least one playoff game. With all that being said, I'll take the Bengals. Confidence Points: 5
So we can finally stop believing in Tennessee now right? They're done. Finito. Caput. Let's move on to some other interesting topics of this week in football.
The NFC playoff picture is much easier to sort out than the AFC. Dallas and Green Bay currently are in the Wild Card spots, but the Giants aren't far behind. It looks like if they finish tied with either of the teams ahead of them they should make the playoffs (if I did my tiebreaking procedures correctly). The AFC race is still up for grabs. Currently the Broncos and Ravens hold the Wild Card spots at 8-6, but even with the Titans' loss last night, there are still five 7-7 teams that are fighting for those spots. In the next two weeks a good portion of these teams will go head to head. These are the most intriguing games of the next few weeks. OK...to the picks.
Buffalo Bills vs. Atlanta Falcons (-9.0) Both teams are out of the playoff hunt, but still have some questions to answer. There is an interim coach in Buffalo who might want to be promoted to head coach next year (which is NOT a good career move), and what will happen with Terrel Owens next season? In Atlanta, are they going to keep on playing Mat Ryan and Michael Turner? Or will they rest them for next season? I feel like Atlanta is going to play for next season, while Buffalo has a few things to prove still. I'll go with the Bills. Confidence Points: 12
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-13.5) With San Diego's win last night, the Bengals will be hosting a Wild Card game in the first week of the playoffs. They're currently tied with the Patriots for the #3 seed, but I don't see much of a difference between the #3 and #4 seed this year, especially since the two Wild Card teams are going to be around the same caliber. Thus I can't see the Bengals needing this win. The Chiefs don't need it either, but I think they still have something to prove, especially with Matt Cassel. The points are too high for me, so I'm going with the underdog Chiefs. Confidence Points: 5
Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns (-3.5) This is a battle between two bad teams that have both beaten the Superbowl Champion Steelers. I think these teams are starting to click better at this point in the season, but it's certainly too little too late. I really have no idea if this is going to be a shootout or a snoozefest, but either way I'll take the Raiders...I think they're the best of the worst. Confidence Points: 13
Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers (-14.0) Seattle laid an egg at home last weekend to a Tampa Bay team that came in with one win. Coincidentally, the Bucs' two wins have come against both of these teams. The Packers' heartbreaking loss to the the Steelers last week has made their playoff hopes a little more uneasy. Still, if they win out they're in, but it's not as much of a lock as it was the past few weeks. That being said, the Packers are going to come out swinging. Even with such a large spread, Green Bay has to make a statement and I think the Packers are going to win big. Confidence Points: 11
Houston Texans vs. Miami Dolphins (-3.0) The Dolphins lost a tough game last week in Tennessee, after they had a great fourth quarter comeback. But due to a lot of other losses, they're one of those 7-7 teams in the AFC Wild Card hunt. Actually, both of these teams are. The Texans eked out a win in St. Louis last week, but this one is going to be a bigger test. I like the home team here. The Texans have gotten close before and never figure out how to get into the playoffs. I think that trend will continue and Miami stays alive. Confidence Points: 10
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots (-8.0) Will this be the end of the line for the Jags? Due to it being an away game, the one hundred or so Jaguar fans will be able to see this game. Jacksonville did play well against the Colts last week, but just couldn't get it done. The Patriots on the other hand got their first American road win in Buffalo last week, which is important since they're going to have to go on the road in the playoffs. I like New England to win the game, but I don't like the eight point spread. I think the Pats will win by a touchdown, so I'm going with Jacksonville. Confidence Points: 1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (-14.0) Too bad for the Bucs that the Saints lost last week. Because then I would have liked them for a trap game. Not anymore though. The Saints are going to put on an old fashion whoopin'. They need to make a statement and there aren't many better teams to do that to besides Tampa. Big win for New Orleans here. Confidence Points: 15
Carolina Panthers vs. New York Giants (-7.0) Big game for the Giants here. They basically have to win out in order to have a chance to make the playoffs. (They could lose one and have the Cowboys, and maybe the Packers, lose out and still make it.) This will be their last home game in Giants Stadium, and I think that will make a difference. I like the crowd to get on the Pathers' relatively new QB Matt Moore, and with DeAngelo Williams (doubtful) and Jonathan Stewart (questionable) injured for this game, I don't see the Panthers winning via the passing attack. Will the Giants cover? Eh, I never know, but I like their chances in this game. Go Giants! Confidence Points: 9
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) A must win for Pittsburgh here. I believe that the winner will get into the playoffs. The Steelers have a knack for staying in it, e.g. game winning TD catches last week against the Packers and in the Superbowl against the Cardinals. But I don't like them against this Ravens' team. These teams know each other too well. And Pittsburgh is not immune to losing at home. This is a tough call, but I think the Ravens have what it takes. Confidence Points: 2
St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals (-14.0) The Cardinals almost lost to the Lions last week and the Rams almost beat the Texans last week. Every time I pick the Rams to cover (usually not to win) they get blown out, and when I pick against them on large spreads like this they make it close. So I'm going to pick the Rams again. So everyone else should pick the Cardinals. Do it. And then watch as the Rams cover. Confidence Points: 4
Detroit Lions vs. San Fransisco 49ers (-12.5) I'm really not sure with this one. The 49ers struggled in Philly with the Eagles last week, but so to most people. After benching Donte Culpepper, the Lions came roaring back (boo) against the Cardinals. It's a lot of points for the 49ers. I'll take the Lions and the points. Confidence Points: 8
New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts (-5.5) Well the Colts have it all sewn up and don't have to play for anything anymore. They don't have a meaningful game for three weeks. But they are 14-0. All of the previous Colts teams that have packed it in during the end of the regular season (and then usually lose in the playoffs) weren't undefeated. I don't see them giving away a loss. If it's close, they're going to try to win. I can't see the Jets flying out of the gate and blowing the Colts away, so I think Peyton is going to play the whole game (unless the Colts are routing) and say that Indy makes it 15-0. Confidence Points: 7
Denver Broncos vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-7.0) A win would almost give the Eagles the NFC East. With the Vikings' loss last week, Philly could potentially get the #2 seed and a first round Bye. Both teams have a lot to play for, as the Broncos are one of the two current Wild Card holders in the AFC. Brian Westbrook is supposed to be back for the Eagles this week, and I actually think that may hurt the Eagles since they're been playing so well without him. The Eagles don't usually lose in December, so I'm picking Philly, but I wouldn't be too surprised if the Broncos steal one here. Confidence Points: 6
Dallas Cowboys (-6.5) vs. Washington Redskins It's strange that the Sunday night game is the first game on the list where the home team isn't favored. Dallas obviously came off their biggest win last week in beating the Saints and the Redskins laid an egg hosting the Giants last week. Nothing would give the Redskins more pleasure than beating the hated Cowboys and severely hurting their playoff chances. I think getting embarrassed at home will rile up the Redskins, and I also think that Dallas may come into this game still riding the high of beating the Saints. That to me equals trouble for Dallas, and I like Washington here. Confidence Points: 3
Minnesota Vikings (-7.0) vs. Chicago Bears Last week was another poor performance by Favre and the Vikings last week. Favre almost got yanked in the 3rd quarter, up 7-6, since he was taking such a beating from the Panthers' defenders. This is Chicago's Superbowl, but they just don't have the players to compete. Jake Cutler needs reliable receivers and also needs to not be like the old Brett Favre. I like the Vikings to bounce back and try to solidify that #2 seed. Confidence Points: 14
Some changes this week, both in the actual rankings and in my approach. First, I'm abandoning the old format, which, believe it or not, was kind of onerous to produce each week. Second, I'm doing them really really late this week because my stupid job that pays me got in the way of my awesome blog that costs me time and effort. I'll be counting down from the bottom up, so you can feel the suspense building. Who will be #1? Will it be the only undefeated team left that is the consensus best team in the league? Hmm.
32. Buccaneers 31. Rams 30. Detroit
This group is collectively known as the Suicide Pool All-Stars. In 15 weeks I have picked against Detroit four times, St. Louis six times, and the Bucs twice. Needless to say, I'm doing quite well in my pool.
29. Chiefs 28. Seahawks
The Matt Hasselback era is over in Seattle.
Is this team talented? We've heard over and over again about Jason Campbell being good but having difficulty because he's played in a different offensive system every year, even dating back to college. And after the Redskins ran a play where everybody, INCLUDING THE LINEMEN, ran out in a pattern to catch a pass, resulting in the quarterback (who was actually the field goal kicker) getting creamed as he threw the world's most predictable interception, I think the title of worst coaching staff is well in hand. If I was a Redskins fans, I would have been shopping for a new TV on Tuesday, because this one would have had a remote stuck in it.
Kyle Orton is winning in Denver while Jay Cutler chases the Bears single season interception record. At the start of the season, everybody talked about Orton's record as a starter being better than Cutler's, but more as a fascinating oddity than anything with real meaning. At some point, the numbers no longer lie.
25. Browns 24. Raiders
The Suicide Pool killers. The Browns have one of the most exciting players in football in Josh Cribbs (I would have said most exciting if not for DeSean Jackson). And the Raiders... let's see if I can get this statistic right: the teams that the Raiders have beaten collectively have the best record of any set of teams that a team has beaten this year. Did I say that right? What I mean is that they have beaten very good teams, including playoff contending Pittsburgh, Denver, Dallas, Philadelphia... and also Kansis City.
23. Falcons 22. Bills 21. Panthers
The Underachievers. Although Carolina has gotten markedly better since they benched their catastrophe of a quarterback. By the way, John Fox should be fired in Carolina for two reasons: one, for not benching Delhomme after the first 4 games; and two, for not only NOT benching him, but continuing to call more pass plays than running plays after it was clear that Delhomme was a head case and their running game was still dominant.
Beware the Crabtree Curse!
19. Jets 18. Steelers 17. Jaguars 16. Texans
Collectively known as the 7-7 hopefulls. They are ranked not in the order in which they could potentially make the playoffs (the Texans would be last since they lose all the tiebreakers) but in the order in which I think they could finish 9-7. The Texans have the best chance precisely because they don't actually have anything to play for anymore. They melt under the spotlight.
15. Giants 14. Cowboys
The Giants are a game behind and hold the tiebreaker. The Cowboys just pulled off the upset after the other shoe finally dropped on New Orleans. One of them is in, one of them is out of the playoffs. Neither of them will do much once they get there.
13. Ravens 12. Titans
Speaking of coaches who should be fired for not quickly addressing their quarterback situation, Jeff Fisher, you are done.
11. Broncos 10. Dolphins
BOLD PREDICTION ALERT: The Dolphins will be the best team to not make the playoffs this year.
Way to be inspired by your teammate's death, Bengals.
8. Patriots 7. Cardinals
This Arizona team is better than the one that went to the Super Bowl last year.
I think they might be overrated, even by me.
I had been blaming Brad Childress for underutilizing Adrian Peterson. Now it turns out that its Brett Favre's fault; he's been audibling out of run plays at the line so he can throw it, cause he's a gunslinger and a cowboy and Favre Favre Favre. That makes alot more sense.
Anytime Donovan McNabb drops back for more than 3 seconds, I get a bad feeling in my stomach; I know he's about to launch the ball downfield to a wide open DeSean Jackson. Just unbelievable how that keeps working.
In the 2001 World Series, the night after Tino Martinez hit a game tying 2-run homer with 2 out in the ninth off Byun Yung Kim, Scott Brosius came up against the same pitcher in the same situation: 1 on, two out, down by two. We all thought: no way lightning strikes twice, right? That's what we were talking about as Nick Folk lined up for a game icing chippy field goal at the end of Saturday's game: no way Folk misses this kick so soon after Suisham missed his, right?
Except this time the Saints didn't capitalize on the gift from the Gods. As all the pundits say, will it be better for them to get that loss out of the way? Or have their close calls against poor teams this season been more indicative of their play, and instead they are just super duper lucky? I'm inclined to the later.
Since I don't have a lot of time to go through all of my picks right now, I'm going to just do today's Christmas Night Game between the Chargers and Titans. Look for the continuation of my Pulitzer Prize winning NFL Picks blog tomorrow. Merry Christmas.
San Diego Chargers vs. Tennessee Titans (-3.0) So lemme get this straight. The San Diego Chargers, which are on a 9 game winning streak and haven't lost a game in December since 2005 (!!!), are the underdog against the 7-7 Tennessee Titans. OK...just wanted to make sure that I got all of my facts right. OK, the Titans have been playing much better, winning 7 of their last 8 where that only loss was to the undefeated Colts. But right now the Chargers are basically playing like the Colts, and as most people predict, the Chargers should beat the Colts (undefeated or not) in the playoffs for the third straight year. I know that people (Jesse) believe in Tennessee, but not tonight. How can you not take San Diego? I certainly can't find a reason not to, so I'm flying high on the Chargers. So high that... Confidence Points: 16
I apologize to all of my loyal readers that were devastated that that I wasn't able to give you my picks so that you could choose the opposite and make a killing. But don't worry. I'm back to give you my advice so you can make a few bucks before Christmas. Here's my picks.
Indianapolis Colts (-3.0) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars People are calling this Jacksonville's Superbowl. I believe that is because this will be the first time that the Jags play in a sold-out stadium. The Jags are the worst team that would still make the playoffs if the season ended today...oops, not correct -- Dallas would still be in on the NFC side. Everyone loves the Jaguars because they think the Colts are going to mail this one in. I say "Ha." The Colts are going to knock the Jags out of the playoffs with a big win tonight. Confidence Points: 14
Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints (-7.0) Oh Dallas, why can't you and December be friends? I will say that it can't be entirely blamed on a "collapse" this time. The Cowboys' schedule is brutal, and thus they will finish outside of the playoffs. New Orleans has looked shaky in the past weeks, but they always show up to play the "better" NFL teams, especially at home. This one's a no brainer. Saints. Confidence Points: 13
New England Patriots (-7.0) vs. Buffalo Bills Did you know that the Patriots have not won a road game at the other teams home stadium? Their lone road win was in London against the Bucs, which was technically a Tampa home game. Why didn't the NFL let New England be the home team in for the game played in England!? Well anyway, I'm not sold anymore on the Patriots. Bill Belichick is going out of his way to prove that he's the smartest head coach, and in several games this season that's resulted in losses. If he didn't have 3 Superbowl rings I'd say he'd be on the hot seat. I'm picking the Bills. Confidence Points: 1
Arizona Cardinals (-12.0) vs. Detroit Lions The Cardinals laid an egg last week in San Fransisco (get it...cardinals are birds). But these are the Lions...who got destroyed last week against the mediocre Ravens. Considering that the Cardinals lost by 15 after turning the ball over SEVEN times, let's me know that that game was a fluke. Gotta go with Arizona here. Confidence Points: 12
Miami Dolphins vs. Tennessee Titans (Off(0)) I guess this can be considered a playoff game for both teams. They're both in the hunt (Miami more than the Titans), and it should be all but assured that the loser won't make it. Unlike Jesse, I do NOT believe in Tennessee and thus pick Miami. Confidence Points: 6
Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5) Yawn. Chiefs. Confidence Points: 2
Houston Texans vs. St. Louis Rams (Off(0)) The Texans can't lose this game right? I mean seriously. They can't right. Right. They won't. Go Houston. Confidence Points: 16
Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets (Off(0)) Who is going to start at QB for the Jets? Sanchez or Clemmens? Will Atlanta have Michael Turner or Matt Ryan back? I don't know. The Falcons are pretty much out of the playoff race in the NFC, while the Jets are still kinda in it. I think New York will hang around a little longer before crushing their fans' hopes and missing out. I'll take the Jets. Confidence Points: 5
San Fransisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-9.0) This is a pretty high spread in my opinion. The Eagles won that game against the Giants basically in the same manner as the Giants beat the Cowboys the week before. This could be a trap game for the Eagles. They tend to have an irregular heartbeat every once in a while and lose games they shouldn't (::cough:: Oakland ::cough::). Here comes the other Bay Area team, but I think the Eagles are gonna show up. With a win here and a Dallas loss, the Eagles will pretty much have the NFC East sewn up. I'll take the Eagles to cover. Confidence Points: 7
Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens (-10.5) Another tough spread here. The Bears actually played the Packers pretty well last week, but still lost. The Ravens really bounced back nicely thanks to the Lions. The Bears want this season to end, and the Ravens are still alive in the AFC Wildcard. I think that they might be able to get it, but that requires a win here. I fairly confident that they'll get the win, but covering the 10.5 points??? Eh, alright. I'll stick with Baltimore to have another big win. Confidence Points: 8
Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos (-14.0) No Bruce Gradkowski for the Raiders, and apparently no JaMarcus Russel. Gradkowski is injured, physically...Russel is injured, as a good quarterback. So the Raiders turn to Charlie Frye. This is gotta be a blow out for the Broncos. Those 14 points should be no problem to cover with a Raiders team playing on the road that basically has no quarterback. So since all logic points to Denver, I'll take the Raiders. Confidence Points: 3
Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Diego Chargers (-6.5) Big game in the AFC, basically a fight for the number two seed in the playoffs and a first round Bye. If the Chargers lose and Denver wins, Denver could make a come back into the top spot in the division. The loss of Chris Henry is going to be emotional for the Bengals, but shouldn't affect their play recently since he's been out with an injury since November. If this game was in Cincy I would probably take the Bengals, but in San Diego, I gotta go with the home town Chargers. Confidence Points: 11
Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) If the Raiders can win in Pittsburgh, why can't the Packers? I never realized how much Troy Polomalu meant to the Steelers' defense. This team isn't going to make the playoffs and they need to focus on lowering Ben Roethlisberger's sack total (hehe). The Packers are pretty much going to get the #5 seed in the NFC and I think they continue their winning ways this week, continuing the Steelers' losing streak to 6 in a row. Confidence Points: 10
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Seattle Seahawks (-7.0) Yawn. Seahawks. Confidence Points: 9
Minnesota Vikings (-9.0) vs. Carolina Panthers Ah, the battle between the Giants' two remaining opponents. When Favre and the Vikings played the Cardinals two weeks ago, I thought we were seeing the Favre of last December. Brett played better last week against the Bengals, but I'm not sold on him yet. Even though the Panthers are struggling this year, I think they still have some fight in them. Nine points on the road is a lot in my opinion, so I'm taking the underdog Panthers. Confidence Points: 4
New York Giants (-3.0) vs. Washington Redskins The Redskins have looked a lot better the past few weeks. They should have beaten the Saints two weeks ago. They should have beaten the Cowboys a month ago. But they didn't. They did beat the Raiders last week and their defense is playing well. But this is a divisional game, and these teams know each other well. If the Cowboys lose on Saturday night, the Giants know that they control their destiny to get into the playoffs. I think they'll be prepared for this game, especially after losing a game against the Eagles last week where they played very well offensively. The Giants need the game and the Giants win this game. Confidence Points: 15
I have good news for all you traumatized gamblers who can no longer read this column on your mobile device because Daytrader's horrible picks have either caused you to pawn it, or you cannot operate it with your grotesquely mangled thumbs. The self-correcting nature of the universe has sprung in to action and destroyed his internet connection, leaving him unable to disseminate his wretched gambling advice on an unsuspecting population.
Not all news is good, however: my internet connection is just fine. (Home teams listed in CAPS.)
BROWNS (+10) over Steelers
When Pittsburgh lost in Kansas
City three weeks ago, they did something far worse than lose to a bad
team and harm their playoff chances in the process. They gave the Suze
a strike in our suicide pool. Suze may not be a football expert. She
may insist on calling football teams by their corresponding baseball
team names (she was very pissed when the Royals beat the Pirates). But
that doesn't matter. What matters is that the Steelers are on the wrong
side of Suze mojo and I will be betting against them every opportunity
that I get. Suze mojo turned Bruce Gradkowski into Joe motherfucking
Montana last week. Stay out of its way.
Confidence points: 1
Saints (-10.5) over FALCONS
Last week, I saw lots of people in
Atlanta cheering for Michael Vick. These people all had something in
common. Some particular trait. You might say that their was something
coloring their opinion of Vick, something that made them race out and
cheer for him. And that trait is that the Falcons suck, and they had to
root for something. What did you think I was talking about?
Confidence points: 11
Packers (-3) over BEARS
Only 3 points? Is it possible for me to
put more than 16 confidence points on this game? Yeah, yeah, division
game, Bears at home, blah blah blah. Two teams headed in two different
Confidence points: 16
Broncos (+7) over COLTS
Okay, hear me out. The following are true facts.
The Broncos have more wins against teams with winning records than anybody else in the league. The Colts have only 6 wins by more than 7 points. Of their 6 home wins, only 2 have come by more than a touchdown.
Convinced yet? No?
Confidence points: 10
Bills (PK) over CHIEFS
Sometimes a line makes no sense. There are only two possible reasons. One, I am an idiot (possible). Two, there is something the oddsmakers know that I don't. Either way, I recognize what my gut is telling me: stay out of the way.
Confidence points: 2
Bengals (+6.5) over VIKINGS
Vegas may have shrugged off Favre's horrible performance last game and the second half of last year, but you know better. Right?
Confidence points: 8
PATRIOTS (-13.5) over Panthers
Another classic "Angry Redneck" game for the Pats, where the Pats are the drunk angry redneck coming home from a rough day at the coal mine, and the Panthers are their wife on who he will be taking out all his frustration on (see: whupping of the Jets after that loss to the Colts). At home, coming off of two excruciating losses, against a team that will either be starting a career backup or Jake the TAINT* Delhomme at QB? Better turn up the TV now, neighbors, cause its going to get ugly.
*Touchdown After INT, the alternative to Pick Six as proposed by Bill Simmons
Confidence points: 7
Jets (-3) over BUCCANEERS
The Bucs rolled up over 500 yards of offense last week, and scored only 6 points. Six! Enough yards to go the length of the field five times, and only 6 points? Plus, you know the Jets will win the next 3 games before disappointing their fan base with a Week 17 loss that knocks them out of the playoffs.
Confidence points: 6
JAGUARS (-2.5) over Dolphins
The Dolphins have a bad habit of playing down to the level of their competition. That's why they can beat the Patriots one week, and lose to Buffalo another week. In other words: another stay away game from a stay away team.
Confidence points: 5
Lions (+13) over RAVENS
The Ravens point totals in their last 5 games: 14, 20, 15, 16, 7. For a team averaging barely more than 2 touchdowns a game over the last month, 13 points sure seems like alot.
Confidence points: 4
TEXANS (-6) over Seahawks
The Texans crumbled under the weight of expectations this season. Now that they are solidly out of the playoffs and barely within shouting distance of .500, those expectations are gone, and they can once again get everybody's hopes up for the future. This one will be a blowout.
Confidence points: 13
Rams (+13) over TITANS
Yes, I still believe in Tennessee. Maybe I'm just trying to justify the fact that I put 16 confidence points on them last week, but they definitely could have won that game. It was much closer than the final score indicated. The game basically ended on a 4th and 5 with the game still close, when Tennessee elected to have Vince Young throw a fade route to their rookie wide receiver on maybe the most important play of their season so far. Chris Johnson is still alive, right?
Having said that, 13 points seems like a lot.
Confidence points: 3
RAIDERS (+1) over Redskins
One team is playing at home after an emotional win over an AFC powerhouse. The other is flying across the country after a much-talked about embarrassment in New Orleans. What am I missing here?
Confidence points: 12
Chargers (+3) over COWBOYS
Wait, wait, wait... I'm GETTING points for a division leader on a 7 game winning streak against Tony Romo in December? And its not even my birthday!
Confidence points: 15
GIANTS (-1) over Eagles
This game was decided earlier in the week, when the Eagles gave Andy Reid a 3-year contract extension. This game ends with the clock expiring as the Eagles try to line up for a game winning field goal because Reid and McNabb both forget that they have a timeout left. Jim is gently weeping right now. There there, Jim.
Confidence points: 9
Cardinals (-3) over NINERS
The hell with the Titans. I believe in Arizona(tm). Thank you, Jesus, for healing Kurt Warner's brain.
Why am I suddenly a fan of the New Orleans Saints? Is it because they embarrassed the Giants' division rival Redskins? (Kinda.) Is it because Drew Brees is a one of a kind talent? (Nah.) Should I keep asking myself questions and answering them in parenthesis? (Probably not.)
The real reason is that Saints' coach Sean Payton is an ObscureCraft reader! What? It's true! Well, at least, I think it is. Check this out: last week, I wrote about the folly of resting your starters heading into the playoffs even if you have a perfect record, citing the epic Week 17 matchup between the Patriots and Giants in 2007. This week? Sean Payton says that the Saints are going for it. Take it away Peter King:
Payton's about to have a lot more admirers around the United States.
He told me Saturday he's not going to take the foot off the accelerator
down the stretch, not even if the Saints have homefield advantage
clinched in the NFC playoffs. The Saints, instead of taking the last
game or two to let players heal for the playoffs, will try to make
history if they're in position. They're aiming for a perfect season.
Payton loved what Tom Coughlin
did in 2007, having his Giants play the Patriots like it was the
seventh game of the World Series in a meaningless final game of the
regular season, going down to defeat valiantly and narrowly, and
setting up the Giants' 4-0 playoff run that ended in the Super Bowl
upset of the perfect Patriots.
Okay, so Washington totally botched the response to Katrina. You're even now, right?
Another first playoff game loss on the way... what a waste of Peyton Manning's career
Quietly, these team is on a 6 game winning streak.
I don't have anything meaningful to say about the Bengals, so instead I'll say this: when did Luke Wilson decide to get fat and sell out?
Under the radar doesn't seem extreme enough to describe the Cardinals. Can you be under sonar?
With five weeks left in the regular season, the playoff picture is starting to clear up. The Saints and Vikings seem to have complete control of their divisions in the NFC and the Colts and Bengals have the inside track of clinching their divisions. As usual, the real races in football come down to the Wild Cards. Five teams are in the hunt for the two Wild Card spots in the NFC and EIGHT are in the hunt for the two spots in the AFC. These five weeks are going to separate the men from the boys.
A few interesting spreads this week. Four games have spreads over a touchdown, four have no spread (two of them are Off, but still two straight up Pick 'Em's are rare), which leaves ten games within one touchdown. I think it's been pretty obvious over the past few weeks that I have no idea who to pick, but I think this week is going to be even harder to be confident in the picks. Anyway, here I go embarrassing myself with bad picks again.
New York Jets (-3.0) vs. Buffalo Bills At 5-6 the Jets are one of the eight teams in the AFC Wild Card hunt. Mark Sanchez did less to lose the game last week against the Panthers than Jake Delhomme, and thus the Jets got a sloppy win. The Bills somehow throttled the Dolphins last week. Maybe the Bills have some fight in them. For a team like Buffalo, a game like this is what they are looking for right now. A loss by the Jets pretty much eliminates them from playoff contention, and even though the Jets won last week, Sanchez wasn't the reason. For a nationally televised game, I think the Bills show up and ruin whatever is left of the Jets' season. Confidence Points: 3
Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) vs. Atlanta Falcons Both of these teams eked out wins last week against bad teams (Washington and Tampa Bay). The Atlanta win helped them stay in the hunt for an NFC Wild Card spot, and Philly's win has them in the driver's seat. This is a big game for tiebreaker situations. It'll be tough for Atlanta to get in, even with this win, so I think this is a game that Philly CANNOT lose. Even though I see the Eagles due for an upset, I think Philly will win a close one by a touchdown and still cover. Confidence Points: 11
St. Louis Rams vs. Chicago Bears (-9.0) All of the high hopes that everyone had for the Bears (Jesse!) have been for naught this year. Jay Cutler leads the NFL in interceptions, even with Delhomme and Sanchez playing in the same league! I keep on picking the Rams (which is probably by I keep on losing) and I think I'll continue this week. Nine points just seems too high for a team as lousy as the Bears. I'll take St. Louis and the points. Confidence Points: 5
Detroit Lions vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-13.0) I can't see the Bengals losing this game (although they did lose against the Raiders) so the real question is will the Bengals win by 13? With spreads this high it's really tough to figure this one out. I just feel that the Bengals will want to put up some points, especially at home, and try to send a message as they head into the playoffs. Confidence Points: 13
Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts (-6.5) I must admit that I was impressed with Vince Young's 99 yard game winning touchdown drive last week against the Cardinals. But playoff talk (where the Titans are included in those 8 AFC teams) just seems unrealistic after an 0-6 start. (Although it would be interesting if they do make the playoffs after starting 0-6 and the Broncos miss the playoffs after starting 6-0.) BTW, the Colts have won 19 straight regular season games. And with a spread under a touchdown, picking Indy is a no brainer. Confidence Points: 15
Denver Broncos (-4.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs Denver impressed me last week in basically dismantling the Giants. But this is a divisional game, and in divisional games weird things happen. The Chiefs are like the Bills: they want to ruin someone's season. But I don't see that happening. Now that Kyle Orton is back at quarterback, I like the Bronco's chances. The Chiefs should give a good fight, especially at home, but with Denver only giving 4.5 points, I'll take the Broncos. Confidence Points: 12
New England Patriots (-5.5) vs. Miami Dolphins Looks like the Patriots aren't the cream of the crop in the NFL anymore. This team is getting too smug and the blueprint to beating them has been exposed. That being said, they show up for divisional games, and that is exactly what this one is. The Dolphins inexplicably lost to the Bills last week and they won't be in the playoff hunt anymore after this game. Give me the Pats win big. Confidence Points: 10
Oakland Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Off(0)) The Steelers almost beat the Ravens with third-string quarterback Dennis Dixon playing at Baltimore. This week it looks like Ben Roethlisberger will be back at quarterback (hence the Off(0) spread) and does anyone seriously think that the Raiders will win, especially in Pittsburgh and with the Steelers fighting for a playoff spot? I didn't think so. Give me the Steelers. Confidence Points: 16
New Orleans Saints (-9.5) vs. Washington Redskins The Redskins have played two close games versus divisional opponents the last two weeks, but both ending in losses. I like their fight, but I don't like them in this game. The Saints have too much firepower. And with this not being a divisional game, I gotta pick New Orleans. Confidence Points: 9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers (-6.0) With Jake Delhomme's broken finger, the Panthers finally have an excuse to bench their terrible quarterback. Their backup, Matt Moore, is unproven in this league so I can't see him coming in and lighting up the scoreboard. The Bucs have been playing well (albeit in losses) recently and as far as I'm concerned, the Bucs should be favored and should win this game straight up. So with that being said, I'm taking Tampa. Confidence Points: 8
Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0.0) Here's one of the two straight up pick 'ems without the line being off. The Jaguars right now hold the final AFC Wild Card spot (betcha didn't know that) and the Texans, only one game behind, need to hop over 6 teams to get that spot. I don't know if the Texans can lose games in any different type of fashion, so with that logic, I choose Houston to win. It'll help make the Wild Card picture more interesting. Confidence Points: 4
San Diego Chargers (-13.0) vs. Cleveland Browns Cleveland sucks! Cleveland sucks! Cleveland su-u-ucks! Yeah Cleveland sucks! Prediction: San Diego will be up by 13 with 13 minutes left into the first quarter. Chargers please. Confidence Points: 7
Dallas Cowboys (-2.0) vs. New York Giants Ugh, the Giants. Well here's your chance to not only get back into the Wild Card picture, but in the divisional picture. A win by New York leaves them only one game behind the Cowboys and gives them the head-to-head tiebreaker since they will have beaten them twice. A loss by the Giants, and they're in trouble. This is December, the Cowboys' kryptonite. I always pick the Giants and they never win, nor cover. I'll root for the Giants, but I'll pick the Cowboys. (Look what I've done now that I've moved to Texas! ARGH!!!) Confidence Points: 1
San Fransisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks (0.0) The other pick 'em game. I don't really get the spread. I guess that the 49ers are better, but since Seattle is at home I guess that cancels it out. The 49ers have been improving now that Michael Crabtree as been integrating more on offense. Seattle is bad. Real bad. I don't think that playing on the road is going to phase the 49ers too much, so I'll pick San Fran. Confidence Points: 14
Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals (Off(0)) This spread is off due to the uncertainty at quarterback for the Cardinals. If Kurt Warner is back, I like the Cardinals to throw the ball all over the Vikings. If Matt Leinart is quarterback, I STILL like the Cardinals to throw the ball all over the Vikings. Even though according to Yahoo Arizona is the favorite, there is no question that Minnesota would be the favorite either way. They just can't determine a spread number without knowing who will play. So I'll take the upset and go with Arizona. Confidence Points: 2
Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers (-3.0) Here are two Wild Card fighting teams, although in different conferences. But still, wins are wins. Baltimore eked out a win last week at home in overtime against Pittsburgh's third string quarterback. The Packers stuffed the ball down Detrot's throat last week on Thanksgiving, but I smell something funny here, and no it's not the cheese in Wisconsin (boo). Give me the Ravens. Green Bay is due for a bad game, remember that game in Tampa... Confidence Points: 6
The dumbest argument we have about football every year is whether or not teams want to go undefeated. Or, more specifically, should a team with a perfect record that has nothing to play for continue to play their starters?
Funny, I thought this had already been decided when the Giants and Patriots played in Week 17 of 2007. Both teams had sown up their playoff seeding, but the Patriots had 16-0 on the line. Instead of resting the starters and letting come what may, both teams played their guts out in one of the best contests of the season. The momentum of that game carried both teams to a Super Bowl rematch.
And so I make this bold prediction: if either the Saints or Colts rest their starters with a perfect season on the line in Week 17, they will lose their first playoff game.
The Saints have the best chance to go undefeated, because the 10-1 Vikings will keep them fighting for home field advantage.
The Colts, as usual, will rest their players (i.e. cover them in rust) and then lose their opening playoff game as a result.
Has any team every gone 10-1 with less fanfare?
Nobody wants to face this team in the playoffs right now. They are on a six game winning streak.
Cincinatti is going to need new shoes after this cakewalk of a schedule they are on (ohsnap)
I don't have the brain power to think of anything clever to say at the opening (not like I ever say anything clever to begin with), so I'll just say FUCK-A YOU BRONCOS, and I really also need to say FUCK-A YOU GIANTS.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons (-12.5) Big chance for the Falcons to get right back into the playoff picture here thanks to the Giants' loss. A win here would give them the same record, although New York holds the tiebreaker via their head-to-head win last week. I don't know though. Tampa has shown a little life recently, and that's a lot of points, basically two touchdowns. I think the Bucs have enough life to cover the spread. Confidence Points: 6
Miami Dolphins (-3.0) vs. Buffalo Bills This seems like a small spread since one would think that the Dolphins are superior to the Bills, even though their records might not completely reflect that. The Bills keep on losing, although they seem to have some more life since their quarterback change. That being said, the Dolphins are the superior team, and unless it's real bad weather in Buffalo (which I don't know if it is or not because I live in Texas and don't feel like taking the two seconds to look it up online) the Dolphins should win by more than 3 points. Confidence Points: 14
Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-14.0) This game would have been a total lock for me to pick the Bengals two weeks ago, but losing to the Raiders makes me rethink that a bit. The Browns played a hell of a game last week in Detroit, but hey, that was against the Lions. Cincinnati is certainly better than Detroit, but 14 points is a lot. I imagine that Cincinnati will make a statement and try to crush the Browns, but the Bengals have been involved in a lot of fluky types of plays. I'll take Cleveland and the points. Confidence Points: 4
Seattle Seahawks (-3.0) vs. St. Louis Rams A classic rivalry between the two bottom feeders of the NFC West. Both of these teams used to rule this division in the last 10 years, but now are in complete rebuilding stages. They're both bad, and I guess I'm biased towards St. Louis since their coach used to correctly coach the Giants' defense. I'll take the home team Rams. Confidence Points: 7
Carolina Panthers vs. New York Jets (-3.0) How are the Jets favored in this game? Mark Sanchez has definitely caught Jake Delhomme's interception bug. Will Sanchez give it back? I doubt it. I expect a LOT of running since both teams are afraid of their quarterbacks giving the ball away. With that said, DeAngelo Williams one ups Thomas Jones in my opinion so I pick the Panthers. Confidence Points: 8
Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-9.0) Washington has looked a lot better in their last two games. A few field goals away from beating Dallas at home and possibly wondering if Jim Zorn deserves to stay (oh wait, he's not calling the plays anymore...that's why they're doing better). That said, this is a game the Eagles always show up for. This will be a rout as the Eagles start turning up the heat on the Cowboys for the division title. Nine points are enough for Philly to cover. Confidence Points: 3
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) vs. Houston Texans Here you go Houston. Here's your chance to make up for the missed field goals to tie the last two games. You beat the undefeated Colts people will start believing in your again (only to be crushed since you're not going to make the playoffs AGAIN). Oh wait, you didn't replace your kicker (I believe that this is true but I've been quite sports deprived the last few days). That makes the three and a HALF point spread even more interesting. If you miss the tying field goal, Houston still covers. Don't worry Kris Brown, I don't think this one will be left up to you. The Colts will cover and thus it won't be your fault. Confidence Points: 13
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers (-13.5) Now that the Chargers are back in the lead in the division, they'll be on cruise control. I know that the Chiefs upset the Steelers last week, but I just can't see them doing it again, so then it comes down to points. San Diego can be explosive, so I like their chances. Pick the Chargers to cover the big spread. Confidence Points: 5
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. San Fransisco 49ers (-3.0) The Jags have quietly been putting together a playoff caliber season, but no one is talking about them because, as the Jaguar fans like to point out at home games, no one cares. But I think they like it like that. Flying low under the radar. San Fransisco hasn't really been impressing me anymore, so I'll take the underdog Jags. Confidence Points: 11
Arizona Cardinals vs. Tennessee Titans (Off(0)) No spread since it's unknown if Kurt Warner is going to start at quarterback for the Cardinals. Again, I could probably find this information out now, but I think that would be cheating since I made these picks back on Wednesday. Either way, I think the Titans are due for a little shock back to reality. Vince Young might be the quarterback of the future (and probably is) but Arizona is the best team that he will have faced so far, and that's enough for me to think that he's not going to have a good game. I'll take the Cardinals in the pick 'em. Confidence Points: 1
Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings (-10.5) Jay Cutler of the Bears also has a case of the picks. I think this one will be closer than people think, but I like the Vikings to pull this one out anyway. That is all. Confidence Points: 12
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens (Off(0)) This is Off since we didn't know who would be quarterback of the Steelers. I actually do know that Big Ben will be out and third string QB Dennis Dixon will get the start. Seriously. I guess the Steelers think that they can afford to lose this game. I picked the Ravens before I knew that fact, and with that knowledge now I would have put a lot more confidence points on this game, but I'm going to be consistent and stay true with my original picks. Confidence Points: 2
New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints (-3.0) Ah, the game of the week. Too bad I have to wait until Monday night to see it. The Patriots have to make up for blowing the game against the last undefeated team that they played (that being the Colts a few weeks back) Again the Saints get all of the tough games at home. But they actually don't need to go undefeated. They'll easily win their division, although the Vikings only have one loss so they'll need to stay ahead in the race for home field advantage. I say this is the day the music died in the Big Easy. Belichick will gain some respect back as the Pats not only win, but win BIG in this game. Confidence Points: 9
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Last week I did all of my picks by flipping a coin and using a random number generator to get my confidence points. Unfortunately, even that method got me only 4 correct last week. So what...who cares? (Getting old yet?)
So I'm hosting Thanksgiving right now and will only give you today's picks. Sorry to disappoint. Here are my picks...if you're smart you won't use them.
Green Bay Packers (-11.0) vs. Detroit Lions It's unfortunate that the Lions traditionally host this Thanksgiving game...because they SUCK! However, it was a thrilling game last week against the Browns. Do you think this game will be broadcasted in Detroit if it's not a sell out? Will the local FOX affiliate show nothing but Shamwow! infomercials? Too bad that game with the Browns wasn't today so everyone could see two bad teams light it up on each other. The Packers seem to be back on track. It's a lot of points, but Green Bay will spoil Thanksgiving for the Lions. Confidence Points: 16
Oakland Raiders vs. Dallas Cowboys (-13.5) The Cowboys have only scored 14 points total in the last two games, with both touchdowns coming in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. The Cowboys survived a scare at home against the lowly Redskins last week, and the Raiders shocked the Bengals. Wouldn't that mean that I should take Oakland, especially with 13.5 points? NOPE! Why you ask? Because I'm retarded. But Dallas ALWAYS plays well on Thanksgiving. And Oakland is a bad team, although they have beaten the Bengals and Eagles, but they were in Oakland. Stick with the Cowboys...they'll still have more games to fall apart and miss the playoffs. Confidence Points: 15
New York Giants (-6.5) vs. Denver Broncos The Giants broke their four game losing streak last week with a squeaker of a win over Atlanta in overtime after they blew a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter. Denver is coming into this game on their own four game losing streak where they have blown a 3 game lead in the AFC West and now trail the Chargers. The Broncos are going to start Kyle Orton this week and are going to be playing at home. Quick note: the last time the Giants played at Denver was a prime-time Monday night game on September 10, 2001. Today they will play a prime-time night game. New York City should be on high terror alert tomorrow. Anyway, enough of the banter. I feel like the Giants have righted their ship and that the short week after a win will help keep the momentum. I like the Giants to win. (Big surprise right.) Confidence Points: 10
Its not your fault, Daytrader. Its not your fault. Its not your fault. Its not your fault.
After a week in which he got only two picks right - technically, he got one right and a coin he flipped got one right - we've decided that he'll take a mental health holiday from making NFL picks. I didn't do much better, as we both got caught up in the Underdog Swing. The season started with every favorite covering due to the plethora of horrible teams this year. The inevitable over-reaction came last week, when the lines dropped and underdogs were covering all over the place. So where does that leave us this week? After 10 weeks of football, have we finally figured these teams out? (Home team in CAPS.)
CAROLINA (-3) over Miami
I had to read this line a couple of times. Last week, Miami was maybe the best 3-5 football team in the history of the NFL. Since Chad Henne took over at quarterback, the team is 3-3 with losses to New Orleans, at New England, and at San Diego, all quality opponents. I just didn't understand what was going on. That is, until I saw this. Oh.
Confidence points: 4
Washington (+11) over DALLAS
They say that one of the signs of global warming is the shifting of the seasons. Maybe that explains why Dallas' annual December collapse is happening three weeks earlier than usual.
Confidence points: 3
DETROIT (-3.5) over Cleveland
I'm calling this game the Turd In the Punch Bowl. The combined statistics of Matt Stafford, Brady Quinn, and Derek Anderson: 51% passes completed, 5 yards per attempt, 9 touchdowns, 26 interceptions, a QB rating of 50.9. In other words, just flip a coin and move on with your life. Thinking about this game too much might cause brain damage. Instead of broadcasting this game there should just be a test pattern on the TV for 3 hours.
Confidence points: 1
San Fransisco (+6.5) over GREEN BAY
Which Green Bay is going to show up? The one that throttled a suddenly flailing Dallas team last week, or the one that couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag named Tampa Bay two weeks ago? Now that the Curse of Crabtree was broken by the even more powerful Curse of Cutler last week, I say San Fran gets back on track with a win.
Confidence points: 2
Pittsburgh (-10) over KANSAS CITY
Cincinatti showed everybody the blueprint on how to beat Pittsburgh last week: play good defense. Too bad for Kansas City they can't do that.
Confidence points: 12
Seattle (+10.5) over MINNESOTA
The line has moved down from 11 since it opened. That tells you I'm not the only one who thinks this is too high. If the Lions weren't so pathetic they could have capitalized on a sloppy Vikings team last week. Seattle is slightly less pathetic, so take the points.
Confidence points: 5
NEW YORK GIANTS (-6.5) over Atlanta
Either the Giants straightened out their defense over the bye week and will get back on track, or they lose this game and finish the season 7-9. The Giants have been punished by Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, and Donovan McNabb over the last few games. Matt Ryan is good, but he's not in that class yet.
Confidence points: 6
TAMPA BAY (+11.5) over New Orleans
A shaky looking Saints team + an improved Tampa Bay team + waaay too many points = underdog cover.
Confidence points: 10
JACKSONVILLE (-9) over Buffalo
Do you still get a home field advantage when the home field is empty? In any case, Buffalo is a mess right now. Remember, only two things grow in upstate New York: rutabagas and despair. And Buffalo, you don't look like no rutabaga to me.
Confidence points: 11
Indianapolis (-1) over BALTIMORE
I'm giving this game my "WTF" Award of the week, because I saw this line, and said "WTF?" I didn't even say what the fuck, I actually said WTF, because that's how we talk now as a society and I'm kind of sad. This line opened with Baltimore favored by a point and moved 2 full points in one day. I don't know if this is supposed to be a trap game for Indy, or if the big win over the Cleveland Steamers got everybody back on the Baltimore bandwagon, but bet the farm on Indy.
Confidence points: 14
Arizona (-9) over St. Louis
Kurt Warner returns to the scene of the Greatest Show on Turf. He is going to light the Rams up. This is my suicide pool pick of the week as well.
Confidence points: 15
San Diego (PK) over DENVER
This game has no line, so we call it a pick 'em. The game is off the board because nobody knows if the starting QB for Denver will be Kyle "Neckbeard" Orton or Chris Simms. Is Chris Simms actually Phil Simms son, or did they just make a bad copy of Phil like Stewie did on Family Guy last Sunday?
Confidence points: 16
OAKLAND (+9.5) over Cincinnati
Trap game trap game trap game trap game trap game for Cincinaaaaaatti! Coming off the big win at Pittsburgh, Cincy is probably feeling pretty confident heading into matchups with Oakland and Detroit over the next two weeks. I predict Oakland catches them napping with a feisty, ugly 13-10 win.
Confidence points: 7
NEW ENGLAND (-10.5) over New York Jets
New England is like a man coming home from a bad day at the office (loss to Indy), stopped off at the bar for a few drinks on the way home (all the talk about Belichick's 4th down decision), and now he's home, stinking of beer and ready to beat his long suffering wife (the Jets). We're all okay with domestic violence metaphors, right?
Confidence points: 13
Philadelphia (-3) over CHICAGO
What's the only difference between Jay Cutler's time in Chicago and the Challenger explosion? Jay Cutler hasn't killed a teacher yet.
Confidence points: 9
Tennessee (+4.5) over HOUSTON
Poor Houston. Poor, snakebit Houston. They lose three games on goal-line fumbles. Three! Three games! Three whole games! And now they get an inexplicably hot Tennessee team featuring Chris Johnson, the best running back in the game right now. Sorry Houston, but I believe in Tennessee.
So do to my lack of expertise when making expert NFL picks, Jesse and I
have decided to switch places in our football 69 and I will rank these
teams which I apparently know nothing about.
This past week (as we have discussed a little so far) has been quite
controversial. The 4th and 2 by New England was not the right decision
in my opinion, but I might be biased based on the pussy NFC East
division which is all about field position.
The other decision that not many people are talking about is the
kneel-down-instead-of-scoring-a-touchdown by the Jaguars while they were
trailing by a point against the Jets. The Jags decided to bleed the
clock and kick what was basically an extra-point field goal to win
instead of taking a sure touchdown to take the lead with about 1:30
left. This might be crazier than Belichick's decision because at least
he was leading at the time. If the Jags botch that kick and miss they
lose, when they were given the opportunity to score and didn't take it.
Not many people are talking about that decision because it worked
(unless you're a disgruntled fantasy football played that had Maurice
Jones-Drew and needed a touchdown to win your match-up and then didn't
get it because he took a knee instead).
Anyway, here's MY rankings. Note that some losing teams may be ranked
higher than they were last week and some winning teams might be ranked
lower because I disagreed with Jesse's rankings a bit last week.
The Colts take the number 1 spot because they stopped the Pats on 4th down and beat a very good team, unlike...
...the Saints, who almost lost their first game. Against the ST. LOUIS RAMS. They've looked very shaky for the last three games.
This team could be 8-1, and have swept the Steelers and the Ravens. The defense is for real.
Old Man Favre has his Hoverround on cruise control with this cakewalk of a schedule. I just hope he doesn't fall asleep at the wheel and roll into the Grand Canyon.
The arrogance of the Great Bill Belichick backfires for the second time... the first being when the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. GO GIANTS WOOO!!!
In yesterday's epic and, at least for Patriots' fans, calamitous matchup between the aforementioned Pats and the Indianapolis Colts, Bill Belichick did the stupidest thing ever done by a head coach in the history of the world. At least, that's what I've heard. Take it away, designated stand in for stupid opinions about football everywhere, Peter King:
Belichick was talking to Brady on the sidelines. I was sure they
were talking about trying to draw the Colts offside with a hard count;
there was no way he'd be authorizing going for it on fourth down. But
back went Brady to the field, and he lined up in the shotgun, and
started calling signals without the head-bob you normally associate
with trying to draft a team offside.
"My God,'' I thought, "he's going for it!''
things had to factor in here. One: Belichick didn't want to give
Manning the ball with two minutes to go; he'd just seen Manning take
the Colts 79 yards in six plays for a touchdown. Two: He trusted Brady
to get two yards. Let's place the odds of Brady getting two yards at
60, 65 percent. The odds of Manning going 72 yards to score a touchdown
in less than two minutes ... that's maybe 35 percent.
You might say Manning's chance of taking his team 72 yards are better than 35 percent. Not sure I would.
Oh shit, Peter King is trying to do math. Here, put those numbers down before you hurt yourselves, and let the professionals try it.
The goal of any decision is to select the most optimal one with imperfect information. We typically do this by assigning percentages. Peter King has started down this path, but got halfway down it before he got distracted by a shiny object in the woods. Look out Peter King! That's a bear trap! NOOOOO!!
Once you are done gnawing your leg off, take my hand. I'll lead you the rest of the way.
It's mid-November and that means that football is back on Thursday nights! WOOOOOO!!! Unfortunately it's on the NFL Network and most of the country can't see this game. But so what...who cares? (Is that line getting old yet?) It's just the Bears and 49ers. Yawn.
Last week the underdogs finally broke through and covered 10 of the 13 games played. Will the trend continue this week? Hopefully not, since I only picked 5 of 15 underdogs this week. Now to my unfounded banter!
Chicago Bears vs. San Fransisco 49ers (-3.0) The 49ers have lost 4 straight games and haven't looked in sync at all. Their defense is giving up points and their offense isn't scoring enough...wait are we talking about the Giants or the 49ers? The Bears are a strange team. Some weeks they look dominate and some weeks they look pathetic. However, I think Chicago is up for a victory tonight in a battle of two NFC wanna-be's. Confidence Points: 11
Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans (-6.5) If you're not on the Vince Young bandwagon then you need be psychologically evaluated for suicidal thoughts. He's led the Titans to two straight wins. Their only wins of the season. Tennessee is running the ball for over 200 yards almost every game and has looked unstoppable these past two games. With all of that said, I'll take the Bills. Confidence Points: 7
New Orleans Saints (-13.5) vs. St. Louis Rams What's up with this spread? Less than two touchdowns for the Saints? They went to Miami and were down by THREE touchdowns at one point and still came back to win by more than two touchdowns. Last week they were down two touchdowns to the Panthers and still won (although they didn't cover). I'm glad to see that the Saints finally have a "difficult" road game this season, but I can't see anyway that the Saints don't cover, so they get the pick. Confidence Points: 14
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins (-10.0) Well the Bucs won their first game last week with help of sack- and pick-happy Aaron Rodgers as well as a blocked punt touchdown. Although it was good to see that the Tampa players played hard. Miami didn't have a good showing in New England last week (even though those bastards covered the spread by a half point...FUCK-A YOU DOLPHIN!!!) but I can't see them falling into the same trap that the Packers fell into last week against the Bucs. Tampa will go back to its losing ways as Miami covers at home. Confidence Points: 10
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings (-16.5) Detroit came out strong last week in Seattle, only to lose big. The Vikings are coming off of their Bye after they won in Green Bay. This is a big spread (obviously) and not ill-advised. I think the Vikings will win (and they'll make sure of that) but I like the Lions' chances of keeping it close, so I'll go out and pick Detroit to cover. Confidence Points: 6
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets (-7.0) The Jags survived a late scare by the Chiefs last week playing in their half-empty stadium. Seriously, I watched part of that game (unlike anyone in Jacksonville) and there were more empty seats than a in preseason WNBA game. The Jets are coming off of their Bye and now trail New England by 2 games in the AFC East. However, if New England loses this week in Indy and the Jets win, they'll be one game back with another match-up with the Pats left this season and would be playing for the division lead. But the Jets have to keep pace first and I think the Bye Week will help. I like the Jets to get back to where they were at the beginning of the season and win this one comfortably. Confidence Points: 3
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.0) This game is for first place in the AFC North and what a game it should be. The Bengals beat the Steelers earlier in the season and handled the Ravens last week. But the Steelers are on fire right now. They are clicking in every phase of the game and I just can't see the Bengals going into Pittsburgh and leaving with a win. So then it comes down to will the Steelers cover the spread and I like those chances. If it was a ten point spread then I might reconsider, but at seven, give me the Steelers. Confidence Points: 5
Denver Broncos (-3.5) vs. Washington Redskins The Broncos aren't on such a mile high (get it) any more after losing two straight. Plus, combined with some Charger wins, San Diego is only a game behind Denver in the AFC West. I assume that the Broncos' two losses have driven this spread down and I'm grateful for that because the Redskins SUCK. This is just what the Broncos need to get back on the winning track. Confidence Points: 15
Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) vs. Carolina Panthers The Panthers have been looking better the past few weeks, including that semi-meltdown against in New Orleans last week. They are following the Titans strategy of handing the ball off to their running backs so their crappy quarterbacks can't throw interceptions. Atlanta got a healthy dose of the Redskins last week to give them some confidence, and with a 1.5 point spread this game is pretty much a pick 'em. The Falcons can run the ball almost as good as the Panthers but they can throw the ball a hell of a lot better. That's enough for Atlanta to get the pick. Confidence Points: 9
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders (-1.5) Another pretty much pick 'em spread. I really couldn't care less about this game between two shitty teams. I flipped a coin and the coin told me to pick Kansas City so there. Confidence Points: 1
Dallas Cowboys (-3.0) vs. Green Bay Packers Dallas won in November last week against the Eagles. The Packers got embarrassed last week in Tampa. I sure that the Packers will play tough this week, especially at home, but the calender says that it's still November and Dallas doesn't yet have a lead large enough to blow, so the Cowboys will take care of things in Green Bay. Confidence Points: 2
Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals (-8.5) This is a scary game for me this week. All logic says stick with the Cardinals, but the Cardinals two weeks ago got dismantled by a Panthers team that is pretty much in the same league as the Seahawks. I sense this as a trap game for the Cardinals, but I really can't pick against them (can I?) Nope. I'll take the Cardinals with for some reason a ridiculously high amount of confidence points even though I obviously have no confidence in them, so don't b surprised if the Seahawks cover, if not win. Confidence Points: 12
Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Diego Chargers (-2.0) As I predicted, the Eagles lost last week. They also did it in typical Eagles fashion: no timeouts in the fourth quarter, no challenges left, losing timeouts on ridiculous challenges, continuously failing on 3rd and 4th and 1. San Diego beat the Giants due to a two minute drive against a defense filled with holes and poor decisions by the Giants' coaching staff. Putting both of these things together would suggest that the Chargers should have no problem against the Eagles. If the Broncos lose to Washington, San Diego would be set up to tie them for the division lead, but I don't think the Broncos will lose nor the Chargers win. Philly rebounds and gets the win. Confidence Points: 8
New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts (-3.0) Here it is. The game of the season. These two teams seem to play every season, and these are always good games. If the Colts win they have a good shot of running the table and going 16-0 and in my opinion, it would be good for the NFL to have the Colts tie the Pats' record. These two teams have been the most dominate in the NFL the past decade, with the Steelers getting an honorable mention. Both of these teams are running out of time to keep it going and basically for me this pick comes down to the home field advantage. Therefore I like the Colts. Confidence Points: 4
Baltimore Ravens (-11.0) vs. Cleveland Browns The Ravens need this victory to hang around in the AFC Wild Card picture. After being swept by the Bengals, they need to bounce back against the inferior Ohio team. The Browns are a hot mess. They have two incompetent quarterbacks, both making big money. It's a high spread and the game is in Cleveland, but I think the Ravens are going to want to make a statement. I'll take the Ravens and the points. Confidence Points: 13
Exactly one half of all football games have been played. The Colts and Saints will make the playoffs. Are we sure about anybody else?
I didn't have room to expand on this in the rankings below, but these two coaching decisions need to be addressed:
1) The Giants should not have kicked that field goal against the Chargers. If they go for the touchdown and make it, they win. If they go for the touchdown and miss, then the Chargers have to go the length of the field. Yes, they can kick a field goal and tie it, but that is a better outcome than what actually happened. Kicking the field goal was the safe but wrong choice. The Giants have been making alot of wrong choices lately.
2) But that wasn't even the worst field goal decision in the NFC East this week. What was Andy Reid thinking? A 52 yard field goal is hardly a sure thing, and then they were still down by 4! Who cares that its 4th and 11: victory favors the bold. Reid was doing what he thought would cover himself with the media, NOT what would give his team the best chance to win.
Enough bickering over minutiae: on to the ranks!
The 8-0 Saints still have yet to play a difficult road game.
I guess their logo is a horseshoe for a reason; that was a lucky, lucky win against Houston.
New England needs to win in Indianapolis, not only to give them a shot at home field for the playoffs, but to protect their record as the only 16-0 team in NFL history.
The Bengals are about to go on a 3 game road trip, just in time to derail all those "The Bengals are for real!" stories.
Doesn't the Viking mascot look like he could be one of the Village People?
So that's two weeks in a row where I haven't gotten any picks correct in the late Sunday games. So what...who cares? (Apparently I care.) This week is a big week for a lot of teams. Depending on the outcome of some of these games, we might know right now which teams are going to be in the playoffs. I'll give my picks, but I suggest that you pick against them.
Washington Redskins vs. Atlanta Falcons (-10.0) Well the Saints got another favorable call last week in their win over the Falcons. Regardless though, the Falcons are the #2 team in the NFC South and are on course for a Wild Card berth. The Redskins are coming off of their Bye, but this isn't an ideal match-up. Washington might hang around for a bit, but I'll take Atlanta and the ten point spread. Confidence Points: 12
Arizona Cardinals vs. Chicago Bears (-3.0) It looks like Arizona is going to stay in first place in the NFC West, even though both the 49ers and Seahawks aren't too far behind. This team is very volatile. After a great game on the road against the Giants, they got beat down by the Panthers. The Bears are another team that I have questions about. They beat the teams they're supposed to and lose against the good teams. This is a game between two evenly matched teams in my opinion, but I think Arizona is due for another good game so I'm picking the Cardinals. Confidence Points: 8
Baltimore Ravens (-3.0) vs. Cincinnati Bengals This is an odd spread for me to understand. A few weeks ago the Bengals beat the Ravens in Baltimore. Wouldn't you then think that they would be the favorite at home? I guess this is due to the Ravens' defense looking a lot better last week when they beat the previously undefeated Broncos. Cincinnati had their Bye last week after destroying the Bears, so I don't know why people are down on them. I think the winner of this game is heading to the playoffs and I've been impressed with the Bengals this season so I'm going with them. Confidence Points: 1
Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts (-9.0) The Texans are 5-3 and are in second place in the AFC South...second to Indy. The Colts looked a little off last week hosting the 49ers, scoring their only touchdown on a halfback option pass. After a shaky start, the Texans are looking better. I don't think that they can beat the Colts on the road, but I think 9 points is a little too much, especially after last week for the Colts. I'll probably be proved wrong and the Colts will romp, but I'm taking the Texans to lose, but by less than 9. Confidence Points: 2
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots (-10.5) The Dolphins had TWO 100-yard kickoff returns for a touchdown last week against the Jets, and still barely won. The Dolphins' Wild Cat looked good last year against the Pats, but with the Patriots coming off of their Bye I'm sure they spent a lot of time on defense working against it. I'm also sure the Dolphins will show some new looks, but New England playing too good right now. It's a lot of points, but I like the Patriots to cover (as long as they can play good kickoff return defense). Confidence Points: 6
Green Bay Packers (-9.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers This game is known as the Battle of the Bays. Although "battle" might not be the correct term for this game. The Packers lost a tough game at home against Brett Favre last week, but now that's over there isn't a better bounce-back team than the Bucs. People have said that the UFL's Florida Tuskers could beat the Bucs head-to-head and I'd agree with that. This team has a good chance of going winless. The 9.5 points are a joke to me. Green Bay will be up by more than that halfway through the first quarter. The Packers win big in Tampa. Confidence Points: 13
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.5) Remember when the Jags were favored by like 10 points hosting the Rams after they lost 41-0 the week before against the Seahawks? Yeah...I didn't think so. Well it happened and the Rams lost in overtime. Here we are again, with the Jags favored at home after getting blown out by the previously winless Titans. WTF!? Just based on that, I take Kansas City. Confidence Points: 4
Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints (-13.5) The Panthers salvaged whatever is left of their season with an impressive win in Arizona last weekend. The Saints (as noted before) again got a little help from the zebras. This could be a trap game for New Orleans and dare I say the Panthers pull off the upset in New Orleans? Oops, that's italicized, so I doubt it. The Saints having to win by two touchdowns tempts me to pick Carolina, but I've been burned by not picking New Orleans almost every week, so I pick the Saints to cover. Confidence Points: 9
Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks (-10.0) This might be another bore-fest between two pretty bad teams. Detroit comes off losing to a team that hadn't won a game in over a full calender year. The Seahawks laid an egg (get it) in Dallas last week, when I thought they were a little better than that. Since Seattle is a home, and they are better than the Lions, I'll take the Seahawks, even with the 10 point spread. Confidence Points: 10
San Diego Chargers vs. New York Giants (-4.5) This is a big game for both teams. If San Diego loses, I can't see them getting into the playoffs this season. If the Giants lose, it'll be really tough for them to get in. I think the Giants could still get it because they have games against Atlanta, Dallas, and Philly. But if the Giants lose this game then they'll go into their Bye on a four game losing streak and basically telling everyone that they are a mediocre team at best. In my mind this is going to be a close game, and the Giants have proven to win close games. Based on that, I'm taking New York, but on the other hand, if it's a close game, they might not cover. Just some food for thought. Confidence Points: 5
Tennessee Titans vs. San Fransisco 49ers (-4.0) Well the Titans got their first win last week against the Jags under previously suicidal quarterback Vince Young. Now they head to San Fransisco, a team that's been close in a few games, but hasn't gotten the victory in their last few games. This is a must win for the 49ers if they want to stay close with the Cardinals and I think San Fransisco sends Mr. Young back to the psych ward. Confidence Points: 11
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-3.0) This is the battle for the NFC East. A lot of people left both of these teams for dead a few weeks ago and crowned the Giants the division champions. Well that was premature ejaculation. The Eagles destroyed the Cowboys in the season finale last season, sending the Eagles to the playoffs and knocking out the Cowboys. A lot of people think that this is a revenge game for Big D. I think it's going to be a trend game. Philly loses games in November while Dallas wins. Then in December Dallas loses while Philly wins. Therefore, I pick Dallas and predict the Eagles get revenge later in the season. Confidence Points: 3
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.0) vs. Denver Broncos The Broncos got handled last week in Baltimore. I said I was on the Broncos bandwagon until they lost, and now I think I'm jumping off and switching to the Steelers'. Pittsburgh is coming off its Bye and is ready for a smash-mouth football game, which I think this will be. Denver can afford to lose another game and still be in control in the AFC West, whereas Pittsburgh has to worry about Baltimore and the Bengals. Three points on the road isn't enough to sway me from going with the Steelers. Confidence Points: 7
OK...so last week I was perfect in the early games. But then I was wrong on all of the late games. So what...who cares? This week features a lot of nice underdog picks. However favorites have been consistently covering the spread every week, regardless of how ridiculously large the spreads are.
I also went 0-2 in my bold predictions last week. (Although I should get half a point for that Miami pick.) I don't know if I'll be so bold this week, but perhaps another italicized pick might slant out of the page.
Houston Texans (-3.0) vs. Buffalo Bills In a relatively weak AFC this season, the Texans are in a good spot to make the playoff run everyone has been talking about. However, they probably will suck in December like they do every year and miss out. But it's not December yet and this spread is ridiculously low for a Buffalo team that hasn't beaten anyone worthwhile, so the Texans get my pick. Confidence Points: 13
Cleveland Browns vs. Chicago Bears (-13.0) This is a spread that is way too high in my opinion. The Bears have LOST their last two games (granted both on the road) and the Browns are TERRIBLE. If Green Bay beats the Vikings and the Bears win, they're right back in the NFC North, but I smell a trap game here. The Bears may win, but I like Cleveland to cover. Confidence Points: 8
Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys (-9.5) Dallas gets a mediocre team at home and that should mean a win. They looked awfully impressive last week in beating the Falcons and the odds-makers proved me wrong yet again. The Seahawks are a team that either shows up and dominates or goes away fast. But Dallas has had a few hiccups in games like this. I think their win last week raises their confidence too much and the Seattle show up for this game. Confidence Points: 7
St. Louis Rams vs Detroit Lions (Off(0)) This will be the game that nobody watches. I don't know this for a fact, but I imagine that this will be blacked out in Detroit for not having a sell out. So that means the only people that will get this game are people in the St. Louis market. The funny thing is that I think this will be an exciting game. There will be lots of turnovers and probably some big plays. I think the Rams are due for a victory, but honestly I have no idea...everything I've just said is probably complete bullshit. Confidence Points: 3
San Fransisco 49ers vs. Indianapolis Colts (-12.0) There isn't much to say about this one. The 49ers have been struggling (although I think they have found a QB in Alex Smith), and the Colts are on complete cruise control. Perhaps the spread is a little high, but since it's in Indianapolis I'm going with the Colts. Confidence Points: 11
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets (-3.0) I've been trying to figure out why the Jets and Giants are playing at the same time. Is there another obscure Jewish holiday that starts at sundown like there was last time? But then I realized that this Sunday's Jewish holiday is Yom Brett Favre. The New York market wouldn't get to see the Viking-Packer game if the Jets played in the late game, therefore the NFL decided to put the two New York teams up against each other. Anyway, back to this game. The Jets looked great in Oakland and for a half Miami looked great against the Saints. These two teams met up a few weeks ago and Miami gave the Jets a heavy dose of the Wildcat. I think it's too soon for these two to play again and this time the Jets will be ready and will prevail. Confidence Points: 1
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles (NL) This is game one of NY vs. Philly on Sunday and this one is almost as important. The winner takes control of the NFC East (Dallas may also be in the picture) and would be a legitimate win for either team. The Giants are coming off of two losses to two very good teams and the Eagles are 1-1 against two very bad teams. I don't know how into this game the Philly fans will be with the World Series game coming up later in the day, and Brian Giant-killer Westbrook is a little banged up (although he always seems to be beat up). The road team has been winning the games the last few times these teams have hooked up, so I'm going with New York. Confidence Points: 4
Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) Again this is a spread that I question. The Ravens have lost three in a row and by the way the Broncos are UNDEFEATED. But the Ravens are coming off of a Bye and maybe they've figured out their defense. That said, I'm not picking against the Broncos until they show me that I should, so Denver gets the pick. Confidence Points: 5
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans (-3.0) This spread CANNOT be right. The Titans are WINLESS. I know they're coming off of their Bye, but starting Vince Young is not going to magically give the Titans a win. The Jags aren't a great team, but they are better than the Titans. I'm not picking the Titans until they win a game, so go with Jacksonville. Confidence Points: 10
Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers (-16.5) Vegas is BEGGING you to pick the Raiders. Sixteen and a half points for a 3-3 team going up against a 2-4 team is ridiculous! And Oakland almost beat the Chargers in Week 1! That doesn't phase me...I'm going with San Diego even with their shitload of points. Confidence Points: 6
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers (-3.0) Ah, the game that has been giving FOX a hard-on since the beginning of August. Brett Favre returns to Green Bay. Do they boo or cheer? I say cheer. As for the game, both teams are pretty evenly matched. Here's the deal-breaker for me: Brett Favre is going to be extra pumped for the game, all 53 Packers are going to be pumped for this game. 53 > 1 ==> Packers get the pick. Confidence Points: 9
Carolina Panthers vs. Arizona Cardinals (-10.0) Last year in the playoffs the Cardinals exposed the weaknesses of Jake Delhomme and he had a pick-fest and the questions started. Since then he has continued to play poorly and the questions continued. On Sunday the questions will end and so will Delhomme's job as starting quarterback of the Panthers. If Carolina losses they're virtually out of the playoff picture and it will be time to look towards the future and see what else they have at that position. The Cardinals are back to Superbowl form and will win big. Confidence Points: 12
Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints (-10.0) The Falcons fell apart in Dallas last week and now have a probably more difficult task this week on the road in New Orleans. The Saints would have lost that game last week in Miami if the Dolphins continued running their Wildcat offense in the second half. The only thing the Saints haven't done is play a divisional game. This will be their first one and these are the games they need to win. They might get the win, but I like Atlanta to bounce back and at least cover. Confidence Points: 2
I'm going to give an early "watch" recommendation to ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary series. Consisting of 30 hourlong docs, each directed by a different filmmaker, the series is produced by resident ESPN loudmouth Boston sports fan, Bill Simmons.
So far three episodes have aired: Peter Berg's take on the Wayne Gretzky trade, Barry Levinson's film on the Baltimore Colts marching band, and Mike Tollin's autopsy of the United States Football League.
I'll be honest, Berg's film, Kings Ransom, really didn't grab me. It was good and everything, but I know so little about hockey, that I wasn't aware that Wayne Gretzky had played for a team other than the LA Kings. As a documentary, it wasn't the best film either -- it doesn't do a good job of transcending the story... or really framing the story for those of us who don't follow hockey or remember the trade.
The strength of the next two installments more than makes up from the weakness of the Berg piece. Barry Levinson's The Band That Wouldn't Die swooped in to show the true potential of the series. In 1984 the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis -- quite famously, actually, without warning, in the middle of the night. Levinson turns his camera to the team's marching band, who kept performing in hopes of convincing the NFL to award a new team to Charm City. Of course, any fan of the Cleveland Browns -- or the New York Giants for that matter -- can tell you that they did. The story of the Colts' move and the band are even more interesting that the memory of the Ravens trouncing the Giants in the Super Bowl.
The third film in the series, Mike Tollin's Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?, cleared the bar set by Levinson's film. Tollin, who actually worked as a TV producer for the short-lived sprint football league, gave us a documentary that featured The Donald as a villain and The Bandit as a hero. Alright, Burt's not in it that much, but when he is, he shares the screen with a giant stuffed bear. I'd be remiss in not recommending any series that gives us even a frame of Burt and his stuffed bear. Anyhoo, the USFL documentary was fantastic -- great vintage footage of the league, a compelling narrative, a bad guy, cancer, Burt, it has it all.
And coming up in the future? The next installment is directed by none other than Albert Maysles, one of the most respected documentary filmmakers ever. His resume already includes Salesman, Grey Gardens, and Gimme Shelter. Tomorrow he adds Muhammad and Larry, following an aged Muhammad Ali as he gets prepared for a 1980 title bout against Larry Holmes.
There are also films by Steve James (who gave us Hoop Dreams -- he's doing a documentary on Allen Iverson), Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA) is tackling George Steinbrenner, Ice Cube (NWA) is going to take a look at Al Davis moving the Raiders out of LA, John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) is going to take a close look at Marion Jones. They're even going to let Steve Nash direct a film -- I expect it to score a lot of points and lose in the playoffs.
Give "30 for 30" a chance. It airs at 8pm on Tuesday nights on ESPN, and I'm sure that the other ESPN channels rerun it incessantly. Because that's what ESPN does.
I begin by admitting that last week didn't live up to the hype. As Jesse alluded to earlier in the week, the refs made that Giants-Saints game look more lopsided than it really was. The Vikings let the Ravens come back and make it a little more interesting, but the Ravens continued their new tradition of blowing it, this time with a missed field goal. And Denver proved me right by handling the Chargers. The closest games were the two overtime games between the Jags and Rams (ugh) and the Bills and Jets (double ugh).
This week isn't as loaded with marquee games like last week, but there
still are a few gems out there, so don't get too disappointed. The Vikings will get another test this week and for some reason people think that there is going to be a good game in Dallas this week. WTF! Plus, the away team is favored in 7 of the 13 games this week. May this be a good time to pick some underdogs? Let's find out.
Green Bay Packers (-9.0) vs. Cleveland Browns Do you remember when Eric Mangini was coaching the Jets and people referred to him as the Man-genius? No really...it's true. He needs to stop acting like he's Bill Belichick. The Packers feasted on the Lions last week...so I see no reason why they can't do the same against another lowly team. I'd be upset if I were the Packers and only got a 9 point spread. Confidence Points: 11
San Diego Chargers (-4.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs Congrats to the Chiefs for getting their first win last week...although it did come against the Redskins. San Diego was easily handled by Denver last week and this needs to be a bounce back game for them. The AFC is looking awfully weak this year, so San Diego is only a few games away from getting back in the playoff picture. This is a must win and 4.5 points is enough for me to go with the Chargers. Confidence Points: 8
Indianapolis Colts (-13.0) vs. St. Louis Rams Well the Rams took Jacksonville to overtime and the Jags only lost to the Colts by 2 so St. Louis has a chance right? WRONG. Indy is coming off a Bye and they're playing unbelievable right now. The Colts play in a dome, so the Rams won't have an advantage there and their best receiver just got injured. I can see Indianapolis up by 13 in the first quarter. The 13 point spread doesn't scare me; Colts win big here. Confidence Points: 13
Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5) This might be the best game this week. As I said earlier, the Vikings almost blew an 18 point lead against the Ravens (well actually they did, but came back). I'm not sold on this team yet. I think old man Favre is going to come out and the Steelers are going to make some plays on defense. Pittsburgh needs a quality win, and I think the Vikings are due for a let down seeing as they've come close twice now. Plus, I have a side bet on the Steelers to win straight up with Jesse, so I'm picking Pittsburgh. Confidence Points: 5
New England Patriots (-14.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers This is a pretty big spread for an away team. Last week the Eagles were favored in Oakland by 14 and the Raiders won! But the Pats won by 59 points last week!!! I smell something fishy here, and no it's not Tom Brady's pussy. Will the Bucs cover? Hmm...it's not a bold prediction, just an italicized one, and that's not enough for me to pick them. New England wins easily (I think). Confidence Points: 10
San Fransisco 49ers vs. Houston Texans (-3.0) Which 49ers team is going to show up this week? Which Texans team is going to show up this week? I can't answer either of these questions. So it's off to the intangibles. San Fran is coming off a Bye week. Texans are playing at home. 49ers are starting Michael Crabtree at wide receiver. I need to pick an underdog. Therefore I pick the 49ers. Confidence Points: 1
New York Jets (-6.0) vs. Oakland Raiders This is a tough one for me. Oakland played very well against Philly last week, while the Jets continued to stumble to their third straight loss. Logic would tell me that this trend would continue, but logic doesn't always work in the NFL. I think the Jets should stop throwing the ball and go back to the run. Oakland is ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing defense so that doesn't look good for them. Except I don't think the Jets WILL stop throwing and I don't like the Jets to cover this. They may get the win, but not by 6, so I'm picking the Raiders. Confidence Points: 2
Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers (-7.0) I would have never thought that the Panthers would be favored by 7 points after the horrible start that they had this season. Buffalo intercepted SIX passes last week against the Jets and Jake Delhomme is tied with Mark Sanchez with 10 interceptions this season. Sounds good for the Bills right? Except that the Bills had to win that game in overtime and only scored 16 points! The Panthers are playing better and should get this win at home to keep their season going. Confidence Points: 9
Chicago Bears vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-1.0) Ah, the one point spread...basically a pick 'em. Both teams suffered tough losses last week, so the real question is which one is going to be able to bounce back. Again, with the AFC being weak this season, the Bengals can probably afford to lose this game. The Bears need this win to stay in the hunt in the NFC. I think Chicago gets the victory based on necessity. Confidence Points: 4
Atlanta Falcons vs. Dallas Cowboys (-4.0) Let's all have a good hearty laugh at the spread makers here. I know that the Cowboys had a Bye last week, but seriously, this team isn't good. If you recall, all of their wins have been against teams that were winless when they played. Last I checked, the Falcons are 4-1 and playing great football. I don't think Atlanta is looking past this game to next week's match-up with New Orleans, so I really don't get this spread. I'd pick the Falcons if they were favored by 4, so I'm definitely taking Atlanta with this spread. Confidence Points: 7
New Orleans Saints (-6.0) vs. Miami Dolphins New Orleans' offense is on a roll right now. Regardless of the bad calls last week, they still executed their offense. The question for me is can the Dolphin defense slow them down? Miami's wildcat offense just keeps getting better and better every week. And they're coming off a Bye week, and I can only imagine what crazy plays they're drawn up. I don't think New Orleans has the defense to stop them, so Miami is going to get its points. Can they keep up with the Saints? Again, that depends on Miami's defense...and I say they will. There is my bold prediction: Miami over New Orleans. Confidence Points: 3
Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Giants (-7.0) This spread surprises me. I would have thought that it would have been Giants favored by 3. Apparently people have faith in the G-Men. Arizona's offense is looking like it did last year...when the Giants went to Arizona and beat the Cardinals. The Cardinals' offense is similar to the Saints', but I think the Giants will be able to get pressure on Kurt Warner, unlike what happened in New Orleans. This is a big game for both teams as they each look for a quality in conference win. I may be a little biased, but I like New York to come out strong and get a big win for Big Blue. Confidence Points: 6
Philadelphia Eagles (-7.0) vs. Washington Redskins What can be said about this game? Philly lost to Oakland and now is a favored on the road by a touchdown. That goes to show you the lack of faith people have in Washington. The previously winless Chiefs went to Washington and won by 8. I think the Eagles fix the problems they had last week in Oakland, while the Redskins continue to create ones in Washington. If the Redskins lose I think Jim Zorn gets fired. That's bold prediction number 2, and since I like Philadelphia in this game, Zorn should start clearing out his office. Confidence Points: 12
If you care enough about football to read these rankings, then you already know who the top team is. While four undefeated teams would all like to be the best, the New Orleans Saints claimed the top spot for the first time this season after knocking off the Giants in controversial fashion (well, controversial around these parts, anyway).
With 4 teams coming into the week looking for their first win, the Titans made a similarly bold claim to be the worst team in football, after a historic 59-point trouncing at the hands of the resurgent New England Patriots. In between these two extremes is lots of regressing to the mean, as over one-third of the league is within a game of .500.
Looking for this week's bold prediction? You won't have to read too far to find it. Promise.
As long as they don't get caught looking ahead to their matchup with the Falcons on Monday night in two weeks, the Saints should get to 6-0 against the Dolphins this week.
If you have the Colts left in your suicide pool (which I do), congratulations! They play the lowly Ram this week.
Yes, they could easily be 4-2 with losses to the Niners and the Ravens on Sunday. Settling for a field goal and leaving the Ravens time to come back was a bad coaching decision.
BOLD PREDICTION ALERT: The Broncos will be the first team in the NFL to secure a playoff spot. (Bold prediction record: 1-1).
Last week, I asked if we'd ever see the Tom Brady of 2007 ever again. We got our answer on Sunday, and it was: HELL YES BITCHES.
A great job by Ed Hochuli in New Orleans late in the first half, fully explaining why he didn't overturn a Scott Shanle
fumble return. Instead of just saying, "The ruling on the field
stands,'' Hochuli explained that Shanle was on his way down and his
knee was on the ground while the ball was beginning to come out of
Shanle's grasp; but because the ball was in Shanle's grasp at the
moment the knee hit, it couldn't be ruled a fumble.
A great job By Ed Hochuli? Are you fucking KIDDING me? That was one of the worst officiating jobs I have ever seen. King also had the nerve to call out the Giants for being "abysmal", "pathetic", and "awful". Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about your column, Peter King.
Let's review together, shall we?
2nd quarter, 1st and 10 at the New Orleans 43. Pierre Thomas runs to the right for an 8 yard gain around a block from wide receiver Marques Colston. Oh, did I say block? Because what I meant was one of the most blatant wide receiver holds you'll ever see. The cornerback was past him, and Colston had him around the throat as Thomas ran by. Instead of 1st and 20 from the Giants 47, its 2 and 2 from the Saints 35. The drive would result in a touchdown.
2nd quarter, 1st and 10 at the New York 47. Brees throws a deep pass for Colston down the left side, covered by Corey Webster. As both players look back for the ball, their feet become tangled, and Colston trips to the ground as the pass lands incomplete. A textbook incidental contact call?
(b) Inadvertent tangling of feet when both players are playing the ball or neither player is playing the ball.
Nope, defensive pass interference. Instead of 2nd and 10 at the New York 47, its 1st and 10 at the 12 yard line. The drive would result in a touchdown.
2nd quarter, 1st and 10 at the New York 34. The play, above, misunderstood by Ed Hochuli and Peter King. The Giants are driving down the field at the end of the half. Eli drops back to pass, and is sacked. He fumbles the ball, and a Saints player picks it up. As he runs the ball back for a touchdown, he is chased down by a Giants defender. The defender tackles him and jostles the ball loose (replay clearly shows the ball moving out of the New Orleans players hands as he goes to the ground), and pops out when he hits the turf. It rolls into the end zone, where a Giants player recovers it for a touchback. Except the New Orleans player is ruled down by contact!
So what happened? King quotes Hochuli as stating that the ball is in Scott Shanle's "grasp", which is a sign that something is wrong right there. "In the grasp" refers to a rule regarding tackling; if the refs decide a player is "in the grasp and control" of a defensive player, even if he hasn't been tackled to the ground, he may rule that a tackle has occurred. A fumble, on the other hand, occurs when a player loses control of the ball. Since the ball is clearly seen to be coming out of Shanle's hands when he is going to the ground, then the ground did not cause the fumble. The defensive player did.
The result of this play, by the way, was a touchdown.
But wait! There's more!
3rd quarter, 3rd and 5, at the Giants 27. On a critical drive by the Giants that basically sealed their fate, Eli passed the ball to Hakeem Nicks, who had position on the defender. The defender stops, and jumps back through Nicks, who is unable to catch the football because there is a man shoving him. Textbook pass interference? Off course not. The Giants are forced to punt.
4th quarter, 4th and 10 at the New Orleans 10. The final indignity. Forced to go for it on 4th down, Eli rolls out and hits Dominik Hixon for a touchdown. Except its called back by a completely phantom holding penalty on Shawn O'Hara, who doesn't appear to even come into contact with a Saints defender on the play. Pushed back to the 20, the Giants are forced to kick a field goal.
These were not insignificant plays, and there were not just one or two. It was a consistently bad job by the refs that consistently favored the home team. It was blatant and embarrassing and frustrating. The frustration could have been eased if maybe somebody, ANYBODY, had noticed it. But instead all we get is a tongue bath for Drew Brees and "the best team in football."
The Giants defense did not play well, and they might have lost anyway. But it would have been close. Playing against the Saints AND the refs, they had absolutely no shot.
It's Friday and that means NFL picks time! I know you can't contain your excitement, but trust me, don't blow your load now. Wait until this weekend. There are A LOT of good games this weekend and I think we'll find out who is legit and who isn't.
This week was difficult for me to pick. I think the spreads were set perfectly. It took me a long time to make my confidence point picks and frankly I'm not really confident on any of them. Good teams are playing each other, bad teams are playing each other, and spread is really trying to help the underdogs in the good team-bad team games. OK...now let's get to the picks.
Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-5.0) What Texans team is going to show up this week? This team is consistently inconsistent. One thing we do know is that thanks to the Bengals, this game will be exciting and won't be won until the last minute. With the exception of the Bronco's game, the Bengals have won them all. So I'll assume that the Bengals will continue to win, but will it be by a field goal or touchdown? I say touchdown and like Cincinnati in this one. Confidence Points: 12
Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers (-13.5) Thirteen and a half points is a big spread for the Packers. The Lions only lost by 8 to Pittsburgh last weekend, but that was at home and the Steelers haven't looked all that good this year. I don't think that the Packers are going to look past this game. They are currently two and half games behind the Vikings in their division and they've been beaten by the Vikings. They can't afford to lose (and they won't) but will they cover? I say Packers cover, and they better because... Confidence Points: 14
Baltimore Ravens vs. Minnesota Vikings (-3.0) Ah, the traditional three-points-for-playing-at-home spread. This will be one of those good games I mentioned before. The Ravens have beaten themselves in their two losses (dropped catch on 4th down against the Pats, three defensive penalties that lead to a touchdown against the Bengals). But the match-up I like is old man Favre against Ravens' safety Ed Reed. I smell a bad game by the Vikings and pick the Ravens. Confidence Points: 1
New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints (-3.0) Again the three point spread for playing at home. Personally I think this game means more to the Saints than the Giants. Beating the Jets was a statement win, except that the Jets then lost to Miami last week and maybe they aren't as good as we all thought. The Giants are a legit team and a win over New York would be impressive. The Giants have a lot of injuries and if New York was at home I might pick against them, but they're in New Orleans and 1) the Giants LOVE playing on the road and 2) they LOVE being underdogs. The Giants will come marching in and then out with a victory. Confidence Points: 6
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-14.0) Pittsburgh can't lose this game, can they? I mean Derek Anderson went 2-17 throwing the ball last week. You can't win doing that, right? Oh...what's that...Cleveland won! WHAT THE FUCK! But I can state with some confident that Pittsburgh is no Buffalo. Will the Steelers cover this huge spread? I don't know but I'm picking Pittsburgh anyway just because I'd be too ashamed to pick Cleveland. Confidence Points: 4
Carolina Panthers (-3.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers The Panthers won their first game against a terrible Redskins team. A terrible Bucs team is just what they needed to get a winning streak going. Carolina is in the class of whatever is right above terrible. As long as they keep playing terrible teams, I'm going to keep picking the Panthers. Confidence Points: 11
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Washington Redskins (-6.5) OK, here is one that the spreadmakers got wrong. Washington owner Dan Synder has zero confidence points in the Redskins right now. Both of the Redskins' wins (against winless St. Louis and Tampa Bay) have been by a combined score of FIVE POINTS and you think that Washington will win by SEVEN POINTS! I'd even go further on to say that the Chiefs, who came oh so close last week to beating the Cowboys, will win big. Kansas City is the logical choice here (which probably means that Washington will crush them...oh well). Confidence Points: 7
St. Louis Rams vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (-9.5) OK...can somebody explain to be how a team that lost last week 41-0 could come into the next week as a 9.5 point favorite? Oh...what's that....they're playing the Rams. Hmm...I guess that makes sense. The Jags are another consistently inconsistent team. The Rams just flat out suck. But they're coming off of a good game last week yardage-wise against the Vikings. I smell an upset. I'll take the Rams here. Confidence Points: 3
Philadelphia Eagles (-14.0) vs. Oakland Raiders Last week I picked against my beloved Giants for you Oakland and I got completely bitch-slapped for that. This week you get NO love from me. Philly is a team that will continue to score points when they are blowing a team out, so Oakland has no chance of covering this spread. Oakland is so bad that I'm calling a Michael Vick touchdown pass against the Raiders in an Eagles rout. Confidence Points: 9
Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks (-3.0) A lot of people are on the Seahawks bandwagon now that Matt Hasselbeck is "beck" from being "hasseled" (hehe) from a back injury. I'm not so convinced. Arizona's offense looked good in the first half last week against the Texans and then kinda sputtered in the second half. I still like Arizona, and with the 49ers coming back down to Earth, I think the Cardinals are going to win this division. Confidence Points: 10
Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots (-9.5) Man, can the Titans catch a break? This team is a perfect example of how important momentum is in a short 16 game season. Last year they won their first TEN games, while this year they LOST their first five. And it can very well be six after a trip to New England. The Pats had a tough loss in Denver last week, but with the Jets losing they kept pace in the AFC East. I like the Pats to win and cover this, but I wouldn't be shocked if the Titans won this game outright. Confidence Points: 8
Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets (-9.5) Rex Ryan's defense was obviously not prepared for the Miami Wildcat offense last week. Buffalo just wasn't ready to play last week. I think both teams are going to improve this weekend, but I don't think Buffalo has the right quarterback or coaching staff to be a good team. The Jets need to win this, and they need to win by a lot in order for them to be taken seriously again, and I think they will. Confidence Points: 5
Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) Another good game between a pair of one-loss teams. Hopefully this game will be as dramatic as the one last year between these two teams, when Chicago scored with 11 second left to take the lead, only to lose on a last second field goal by Atlanta. Jay Cutler has improved from his opening game disaster, but I'm not sold on them yet. Atlanta was dominate last weekend in San Fransisco, embarrassing the 49ers. I think Atlanta, not New Orleans, is the team to beat in the NFC South and the Falcons are going to get the win. Confidence Points: 13
Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers (-3.5) I. Am. Sold. On. The. Broncos. Give me more Broncos. This team is fun. This team knows how to come back and win. And this team needs to prove itself against the Chargers. They're beaten some good teams thus far, but this is the biggest game for them this season. San Diego needs this game or else they can kiss the division good-bye. And I think that's exactly what's going to happen after the Broncos pick up the win. Confidence Points: 2
Through week 5, 5 teams remain undefeated, and 4 teams remain defeated. If I told you before the season that the Titans and the Broncos were involved, how many people would put them in the right group? Those aforementioned Broncos finally break into the top 5 after a nice win at home against the Patriots.
The Giants retain the top spot for at least one more week, but after fattening up on cupcakes, it may be time for a trip to the dentist. Dr. Brees and the New Orleans Saints await in what is easily the best matchup of the week.
This weeks big mover are the Seattle Seahawks, jumping up 8 spots to number 15 after a convincing win over the Jaguars. The NFC East has suddenly become super competitive! How big a difference is Matt Hasselback over Seneca Wallace? Read on to find out!
The season officially begins next week in New Orleans.
Peyton Manning is the MVP. Just give it to him now...
...with apologies to Drew Brees.
At some point, opponents will have to stop stacking the box against Adrian Peterson, because Brett Favre is proving that he can beat them.
Uh... so about all that doubting I've been doing this season...
Many thanks to Jesse for filling in for me last week. I thought his picks were expert-worthy (they were better than mine). I'm glad to let you know that my thumbs are still intact, although I don't know how I got that scar over my right kidney or why I woke up in a tub of ice water. Those Mafia guys are such jokesters.
But now I'm back to spend another hour writing this blog entry that I'm sure at least half of you don't read. Is it because it's about football? Is it because I'm writing it? Is it the deadly Daytrader-NFL combination? Whatev. It's a good excuse from doing work. OK...now to the picks.
Cleveland Browns vs. Buffalo Bills (-6.0) Buffalo got spanked last week in Miami. Cleveland played well against the Bengals and almost pulled off a big upset. Hopefully Cleveland has figured out that Derek Anderson should be their starting QB. I don't think trading Braylon Edwards to the Jets will hurt this offense (not that there is much to hurt anyway) so I like the Browns to cover if not win Confidence Points: 5
Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5) vs. Detroit Lions The Steelers got back on track last week with a big win over San Diego and they might get back Troy Palomalu on their defense. Detroit might be without Matt Stafford at QB and, oh by the way, they're the motherfucking Lions. I think this spread might even be too small for Pittsburgh so they're the clear pick in my opinion. Confidence Points: 11
Dallas Cowboys (-8.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs Can we finally say that Tony Romo is the most overrated player in the NFL? The Cowboys' two wins have come against the Bucs and the Panthers, who have a combined record of 0-7. Being fair and balanced, I point out that their two losses were against the Giants and Broncos with a combined record of 8-0. Kansas City's record: 0-4. Am I clear on this one? Go with the Cowboys. Confidence Points: 9
Minnesota Vikings (-10.0) vs. St. Louis Rams The Rams are the worst team in the NFL. They've been shut out twice in four games. OK, they almost beat the Redskins, but the Redskins lost to Detroit and barely eked one out against the Bucs. The Vikings are findings ways to win and the past two weeks it hasn't been Adrian Peterson but now 40-year-old Brett Favre. Favre is going to struggle later in the year, but not now so the Vikings should have no trouble with this one. Confidence Points: 13
Oakland Raiders vs. New York Giants (-15.5) I find it hard to believe that the spread on this game hasn't been Off (0). It is unknown if Eli Manning is going to start. I, as a Giants fan, have no idea. Are the bettors saying that David Carr can beat the Raiders by 16 points? What would the spread be if they knew for a fact that Eli Manning was going to play...24 points? Regardless of who plays QB for the Giants, I think they're going to win this one, but on the same token, regardless of who plays QB for the Giants, I don't see them covering this spread. They run the ball and take time off the clock when they have a lead, so as painful as this is for me to do, I pick Oakland to lose but cover the spread. Confidence Points: 4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-14.5) I find it interesting that this game, unlike the previous one, was Off(0) until Donovan McNabb said that he was going to start. Then it went to 14.5. Tampa Bay is on par with Oakland in the sucky catagory. I don't get it. Regardless, McNabb is going to come out throwing the ball and don't forget that Tampa lost to Washington last week. Even though there is a big spread, I like the Eagles to win and cover. Confidence Points: 3
Washington Redskins vs. Carolina Panthers (-3.5) I've picked the Panthers every week that they've played so far and they just keep on disappointing me. But Washington is a complete mess right now. They just hired an "offensive consultant" without talking to their head coach. Oh, and did I mention that they got the guy from a retirement home in Michigan whose most difficult job was calling numbers at Bingo!?!?!?! How can I choose either of these teams!? The deciding factor is that Carolina had a Bye last week and hopefully they worked on some new stuff. I'll go with the Panthers...this team did go 12-4 last season right? Confidence Points: 6
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens (-8.5) The Bengals keep playing tight games and have won most of them (the lone exception is the loss to Denver in Week 1 on that fluke tipped pass). But they had problems last week with Cleveland and they really shouldn't have. I have learned this year that Baltimore is going to cover at home. So enough said about this game. Confidence Points: 10
Atlanta Falcons vs. San Fransisco 49ers (-2.5) This is an interesting match-up between two one-loss teams. The 49ers were one Hail Favre pass away from being 4-0, while the Falcons really got out played by the Pats in their only loss. San Fransisco has been playing very good football at home and I think they'll win, and with a small spread I pick the 49ers. Confidence Points: 7
New England Patriots (-3.0) vs. Denver Broncos This is going to be a good game, and in my eyes the game of the week. This is the fifth game where the Patriots are playing a team that is undefeated coming into the game. They look much better than they did their first two games, but so is Denver. The Denver defense has given up 26 points ALL SEASON! That's less than a touchdown (with extra point) a game. Now I think the Patriots are going to score more than 6.5 points this game, but I think Denver will too, and I like the Broncos in the upset at home. Confidence Points: 2
Houston Texans vs. Arizona Cardinals (-5.5) Houston has had flashes of brilliance and flashes of ignorance this season. This is a team that I cannot figure out. Arizona is coming off of their Bye and I think it came at a good time for them. They're 1-2 and they needed to work on basics. I think they're going to be throwing the ball better and then that will open up the run. The Texans' defense might be able to get to the immobile Kurt Warner, but I think the Cardinals will be able to beat the unstable Texans. Confidence Points: 8
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Seattle Seahawks (Off(0)) I don't really follow either of these teams so I'm not 100% sure why there is no spread. Perhaps it's due to not knowing if Matt Hasselback will start at quarterback for the Seahawks. The Jags have looked a lot better since their 0-2 start, and I guess their fans can watch the game since it'll be in Seattle. The Seahawks play well at home and for a game that I really don't have a read on, that'll be enough for me to go with Seattle. Confidence Points: 1
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) vs. Tennessee Titans This is the Prime-Time match up on Sunday night this week and boy the schedulers must not have seen this coming. The Titans STINK! I thought for a while that this was due to playing some tough teams, but they just stink. Their defense is no good, their pass offense is no good, they can run the ball, but they're always playing from behind and this week will be no different. Peyton Manning is playing maybe his best football ever, and this spread is a joke. Unless Vegas knows something that I don't, the Colts will win BIG this weekend. Confidence Points: 14
New York Jets (-1.5) vs. Miami Dolphins Going into last week, this match-up would have been a total walkover for the Jets. But the Jets lost last week and the Dolphins, after losing starting QB Chad Pennington, crushed the Bills. Now this is going to be an intriguing game. I think the addition of Braylon Edwards to the Jets is going to help Mark Sanchez and give him a receiver that he can just throw a jump ball to. Edwards will probably just drop it, but at least it won't get picked. I'm not jumping off the Jets' bandwagon yet and I think the spread is small enough to go with New York. Confidence Points: 12
The NFL is becoming the story of the haves and the have nots.
The haves? That would be the Giants, Saints, Colts, and Vikings, each sitting at 4-0. What? Oh, yeah, and the Broncos. Whatever.
Even more unfathomable, at least two me, are the six - count 'em, SIX - defeated teams so far. That'd be the 0-4 Rams, Buccaneers, Browns, Titans(!!), and Chiefs, as well as the 0-3 Panthers. And that doesn't even include the 1-3 Lions, or the Raiders, Redskins, Bills, or Seahawks, whose only wins have come at the expense of those defeated teams. Whatever happened to any given Sunday? The only thing that might happen on any given Sunday is that there could be 6 teams that lose by three touchdowns.
At least it makes the rankings a little easier.
The news that Eli Manning will have to play the rest of the season with pain in his heel does not fill me with joy and sunlight.
The hype about a Manning-Manning Super Bowl begins right.... NOW.
A 98-yard interception return for a touchdown AND a strip sack for a touchdown? The Saints are good, but there was more than little bit of luck in that win over the Jets, too.
If you are part of the Vikings offensive line, and you wake up on Tuesday morning to hear Brett Favre getting all the credit for your amazing performance Monday, do you want to shoot yourself, or are you already used to QBs taking all the credit?
I'd say something negative about Tom Brady's performance, but I don't want to get charged with a 15 yard penalty.
Daytrader, your usual guide through the world of losing money on football gambling, is unable to type this week due to a problem involving his bookie, a 300 pound Italian man, a car door, and his thumbs. So I apologize for the lateness of these substitute football picks. Although I hear Vegas is open 24 hours. Just sayin'.
Chicago Bears (-10.5) over Detroit Lions My sincere congratulations to the Lions for getting that huge, rabid monkey off their back last week with a win over the Redskins. And not just because I called it (everybody with a picks column not named "Daytrader" called that one correctly). It was just really getting sad. Now, back to the business of losing. If you still have the Bears available in a suicide pool, congratulations on making it to week 5! Confidence points: 12
Cincinatti Bengals (-5.5) over Cleveland Browns For those of you that aren't degenerate gamblers, I feel this line requires some explanation. The goal of a Vegas line is not to say, "we think the Bengals are 5.5 points better than the Browns." Instead, they are saying, "we think that if we set the line at -5.5, then we'll get the same number of bets on the Bengals and the Browns." The line started the week at -5, and has moved to -5.5, which indicates that more money has been going on the Bengals than the Browns. For once, humanity has given me a reason to continue having faith in it. This line could move to -10 and I'd still take the Bengals over the Browns. The Browns quit on Eric Mangini faster than he can finish a meatball sub. Confidence points: 14
Indianapolis Colts (-10.5) over Seattle Seahawks Seattle has great fans and one of the last remaining home field advantages in football. What? This game is in Indianapolis? Oh. Confidence points: 4
New York Giants (-9.0) over Kansas City Chiefs Scott Pioli, general manager for the Chiefs, used to be the GM for the New England Patriots. Matt Cassell, quarterback for the Chiefs, stepped in as QB for the Patriots last season after Tom Brady got injured. This offseason, Pioli left for the Chiefs and traded for Cassell. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I guess Bill Belichick was the brains behind the Patriots operation after all, because Cassell and the Chiefs have been embarrassing. Confidence points: 11
Baltimore Ravens (+2.0) over New England Patriots *rubs his eyes* *blinks* *rubs his eyes again*
Huh. That still says that the Ravens are two point underdogs to the Patriots. Weird. I still think its a typo. Confidence points: 10
Tamba Bay Buccaneers (+7.0) over Washington Redskins Dating back to the start of last season, the St. Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions have won three games, and have been the worst teams in football by a wide margin. In the last two weeks, the Redskins beat the Rams at home by two, and lost to Detroit. Those three combined wins? Two have come against the Redskins. The Redskins shouldn't be favored by 7 against most high school teams right now. Confidence points: 13
Tennessee Titans (-3.0) over Jacksonville Jaguars If such a thing exists as the best 0-3 team ever, then the Titans may be it. I'm about as enthusiastic about this game as the city of Jacksonville (yes, blacked out again in J-town). Confidence points: 6
Houston Texans (-9.0) over Oakland Raiders Over the last two weeks, the Texans have been gashed by two of the best running backs in the game, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew. Quick, name the running back for the Raiders. Yeah, that's what I thought. Confidence points: 5
Buffalo Bills (-2.0) over Miami Dolphins The only thing more surprising to me than Buffalo being a road favorite at any point during this season is the fact that I'm picking them. Although its possible that Miami surprises us this weekend by running the Wildcast for 30 straight snaps. When you can't even get your best quarterback named Chad behind center, it might be time to try something... wild. *sigh* Confidence points: 7
New Orleans Saints (-7.0) over New York Jets I am excited for this game. Is the Jets defense as good as we think it is? Ditto for the Saints offense? Can Mark Sanchez handle a big game on the road against a quality opponent? Will I finally break down an admit that I'm jealous of Daytrader and his NFL Sunday Ticket package, since I will be stuck watching the goddamned Texans and Cowboys this Sunday? From a gambling perspective, however, all those question marks mean I have no idea what to make of this game. That's why... Confidence points: 1 Dallas Cowboys (-3.0) over Denver Paper Tigers Much like the stock market, you can make money in gambling when teams (stocks) are overvalued or undervalued. Rarely do you get such a potent combination of an overvalued and undervalued team meeting in one game. The Broncos are 3-0, but two wins were against crummy teams, and one win was due almost entirely to a single miracle play. Meanwhile, for all the talk fo their demise, the Cowboys are 2-1, with the one loss coming by only 3 points against the Giants, one of the best teams in football. This one is a no-brainer. Confidence points: 8
San Fransisco 49ers (-9.5) over St. Louis Rams The Rams are just happy the Lions finally lost, so they can get that pesky question about who is the worst team in football out of the way. Confidence points: 2
San Diego Chargers (+6.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers This may be a must win for Pittsburgh, but I can't see them scoring enough points to beat the Chargers by a touchdown. Whether they win or lose, the Chargers will at least cover. Its also possible, now that we see Tennessee (the team they beat week 1) isn't as good as we thought either, that Pittsburgh is just a bad team. Confidence points: 9
Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) over Green Bay Packers Will this be the highest rated Monday Night Football game ever? Admit it: as much as you bitched about Favre in the off-season, you cannot wait to watch this game. Confidence points: 3
The top 5 remains unchanged from last week, with all of our early contenders winning handily. I can promise you this, however: next week, things will change. How do I know? Because next the #4 Saints play the #5 Jets in the biggest game of the season so far.
But this is not the only huge match up looming on the NFL horizon. Curious? Read on!
The Giants look to have the top spot locked down for a few more weeks as they feast on a lineup of cupcakes. Next stop: Kansas City.
Just so you don't think I'm being a homer, I promise this right now: if Baltimore wins in New England this weekend, they will be the top team in next week's rankings.
The transition from Tony Dungy to the other black guy they got to replace Tony Dungy has been seamless.
The Saints proved two things this week. 1) Drew Brees will not throw 60 touchdowns this year. 2) They don't need him to.
What a huge game against the Saints this weekend. The unstoppable force meets the immovable object. In my pants.
Well last week was more like it. Maybe going with my football gut is the way to go. Let's quickly recap what we learned from week 2:
The Saints offense can score points at will against teams other than the Lions.
The Eagles defense sucks a big fat dick.
The Jets are for real.
The Patriots' dynasty is over.
The Giants still cannot score touchdowns in the red zone.
The Cowboys will not win a playoff game with Tony Romo as their starting quarterback.
There were a lot more things that we learned, but I'm not in the mood to keep on listing them. Watch some goddamn ESPN if you want some more lessons. OK...now to the picks.
Washington Redskins (-6.5) vs. Detroit Lions Can you believe that this crappy game is a game to watch?! People are thinking that this game is winnable for the Lions. The almost equally shitty Rams went to Washington last week and ALMOST WON! Will Detroit pull off the upset? I say: NO! Washington got its wake-up call last week and will take care of this one...enough I say to even cover the spread. A heavy dose of Clinton Portis will do the trick as Washington goes back to its smash-mouth NFC East roots. Confidence Points: 4
Green Bay Packers (-6.5) vs. St. Louis Rams The Rams had their chances last week in Washington and failed. Green Bay is another team that got unexpectedly (although I expected it) stung last week. The Packers' defense is suspect, so good thing the Rams can't score points (only 7 points all season!). This one shouldn't be too tough for the Packers. Confidence Points: 16
San Fransisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings (-7.0) Two 2-0 teams clash in this one that is a little spicier than we all would have thought a few weeks ago. The 49ers have surprised me these last two weeks, winning two divisional games, and I've paid the price by not picking them both weeks. The Vikings haven't really surprised me beating Cleveland and Detroit (ooh, you want a cookie for that) so this is a real test for them. Seven points seems a lot and Favre has a lifetime losing record when he plays in Minnesota, so I'll take the 49ers. Confidence Points: 5
Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots (-4.0) People aren't talking about this game, but it's a BIG game for both of these teams. The Pats can't afford another loss with the way the Jets are playing, and Atlanta can't afford to lose right now with the way the Saints are playing. The Pats have been flat all season, except for the 4th quarter against Buffalo, but I can't see them staying that way. They need this win and I think they'll turn it around so I take New England at home. Confidence Points: 6
Tennessee Titans vs. New York Jets (-2.5) Last year the Jets went into Tennessee and handed the Titans their first loss giving them a record of 10-1! Now the Titans sit at 0-2 while the Jets are flying high at 2-0. Tennessee lost both games by 3 points, which explains the small 2.5 point spread. I got a feeling that the Jets put so much into that Patriots game last week that they might let this one slip away. I think the Titans get the win they desperately need. Confidence Points: 1
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Off (0)) Like I mentioned last week, the Off (0) spread means that legally there is no betting on this game, but since we're playing for fun, this is an old fashion pick 'em game. I almost think it's silly to have no spread because I think whoever the Eagles start at quarterback will win. Kevin Kolb was able to score points against the Saints, the problem was that the Saints scored more...a lot more. The Chiefs looked good against Baltimore in Week 1 on offense, but bad last week so I have to go with the Eagles here. Confidence Points: 15
New York Giants (-6.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Here's another 6.5 spread for the Giants...just like Week 1. The Giants have yet to score a touchdown inside their opponents' 20 yard line. This baffles me when you have the running attack that they do. I don't like the play calling when they get there. But they have to finally score at least once there this week right? Right. The Giants will win this game and I think finally be able to cover. Confidence Points: 14
Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens (-13.5) Hmm...this looks familiar. The Ravens a 13.5 favorite at home against a team that sucks. I have no doubt that the Ravens will win this game, the question is will they cover the spread. I didn't see anyway it would happen in Week 1 when they were tied with like 3 minutes left to go, but they went out of their way to cover the spread when they could have just sat on the ball and won. This is going to be a cursed spread for me with this team, so now I'll wait to get beat the other way. I'm picking Baltimore. Confidence Points: 7
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans (-4.0) The Jaguars are horrible. The Texans defense doesn't look good. But their offense way good enough to beat Tennessee, in Tennessee, in a shoot out. If the Texans win, they're back in the conversation in the AFC South. Jacksonville has a lot of problems and there has already been talk of looking to draft Florida QB Tim Tebow next year. THEY'RE ALREADY THINKING ABOUT NEXT YEAR! Take the Texans on this one. Confidence Points: 13
New Orleans Saints (-6.0) vs. Buffalo Bills There is no doubting the Saints' offense anymore. Drew Brees is the real deal. But I still have questions about their defense. They haven't faced an offense with the ability to attack, and in my eyes they aren't going to face one this week. Buffalo hasn't looked too bad this season, but I see the Saints winning by at least a touchdown. Look for New Orleans to go 3-0. Confidence Points: 8
Chicago Bears (-2.0) vs. Seattle Seahawks This game shouldn't be too hard for the Bears. They knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers last week with a solid performance by Jay Cutler. I still don't like this team in the long run, but this week Seattle is starting backup QB Seneca Wallace. He played a good portion of the season last year for the Seahawks and led them to a 4-12 record. Seattle is tough at home, but the Bears should win this one. Confidence Points: 11
Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.0) vs. Cincinnati Bengals This is a good AFC North match-up. The champs are coming off a tough loss in Chicago while the Bengals went to Green Bay and outplayed the Packers. The Steelers needed a wake-up call and I think they'll get back to smash mouth football. Cincinnati may be able to throw the ball against the Steelers, but Pittsburgh can both throw and run the ball against the Bengals. I don't see the champs losing two in a row, so I pick the Steelers on the road. Confidence Points: 10
Denver Broncos (-1.5) vs. Oakland Raiders This is an interesting game from a spread point of view. At the beginning of the week Oakland was favored by 2.5 points (most likely from being home for the game) and people must have bet all over the Broncos for that big of a swing. Denver has won both games against the state of Ohio, which includes an improbable freak play to beat the Bengals. Oakland's defense has been keeping them in games and I think they're an underrated team. Last I checked Oakland isn't in Ohio, so I pick the Raiders. Confidence Points: 3
Miami Dolphins vs San Diego Chargers (-6.0) San Diego lost to Baltimore last week because they didn't trust their strength, the passing attack. Miami lost last week because they couldn't stop the quick pass attack of the Colts. It's unbelievable that they controlled the ball for over 45 minutes and STILL lost. That has to be demoralizing for that team. Look for San Diego to throw all over Miami as the Chargers roll in this one. Confidence Points: 9
Arizona Cardinals vs. Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) This should be a good game on Sunday night. Both of these teams have lethal passing attacks and questionable defenses. The kicker for me is that the Colts seem to be able to run the ball a little better than the Cardinals. Plus they're playing at home. With a small spread, if the Colts win they probably cover, so I'm going with them. Confidence Points: 12
Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys (-9.0) If Dallas didn't want to lose their home opener in their new crazy stadium then they shouldn't have opened against the Giants. There are too many problems in Dallas for this team to be a real threat: Tony Romo, Wade Phillips, Jerry Jones, just to name a few. Carolina looked better against Atlanta last week, but still didn't get the W. Nine points is a big spread. I imagine that Dallas is going to really try to run up the scoreboard to try to makeup for the loss last week and I think they'll win, but Carolina will stay close enough to cover. Confidence Points: 2
What's that saying? Nobody knows anything? I think we learned that this week in the NFL, as reflected in the huge shifts in the Power Rankings for week two, starting at the top. 3 of the top 5 teams and 6 of the top 10 from last week lost.
The Giants stake their claim to the top spot after the last minute victory in Dallas Sunday night. Filling out the top five are two of the biggest movers of the week, with the Saints shooting up 12 spots to number 4, and the Jets, uh, jetting up 10 spots to round out the top 5. As for the biggest drop? That information has been blacked out by the NFL.
There is a bold, manly prediction buried in the rankings this week. Want to know what it is? Read on to find out!
There won't be a tougher road game this season than the one the Giants played on Sunday night to open up Jerry Jones' Ego Stadium.
With all the other contenders looking shaky, the Ravens have established themselves as the class of the AFC.
Time of possession. Total yards. Rushing yards. The Dolphins dominated the Colts on Monday night in every category except for the one that mattered: the final score.
They still haven't really beat anybody (Lions and a McNabb-less Eagles), but they aren't just winning games. They are destroying their opponents.
Whatever your team allegiance, you have to love the Jets talking smack in the media all week to the Patriots and then backing it up on the field.
OK...so I only got 2 of 16 picks right last week. But to my defense they were the picks that I gave the most confidence points to. And it was Week 1 so no one really knows anything about the season yet (unless you are: MinicooperChickGoPats, Punt Party, Brett Favre is the Antichrist, Michael Vick's Rape Stand, I heart football, Gomer, Particle Men, Panthro, and Plaxico's Sweatpants). So this week I'm throwing away my football brain and listening to my football gut.
But before I give you my picks for this week I want to rant a bit.
Rant #1 goes to the Baltimore Ravens who for some reason after being up by 7 with less than a minute to go GOES for it on 4th AND GOAL instead of kicking a field goal to be up by 10. Granted they scored a touchdown putting them up 14, but if they didn't get it they would allow the Chiefs to drive down the field and score to tie. If they kicked the field goal (the obvious choice) they would be up by two scores and would definitely win. But they went for the touchdown because THEY WANTED TO COVER THE 13 POINT SPREAD! There is NO other logical reason and the NFL should investigate the Ravens for betting on their own team. Someone else please offer me any other reason.
Rant #2 goes to my beloved New York Giants. While I will always root for the win regardless of the score, YOU ALWAYS GIVE UP THE SPREAD AT THE END OF THE GAME! They always give up garbage touchdowns which both ruins the spread for loyal Giants fans and hurts their own defensive ranking both in actual NFL statistics and in fantasy. Now I know that I'm being totally hypocritical in these two rants, but whatevs.
OK...now to the picks.
Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons (-6.5) The Panthers are sticking with Jake Delhome entirely based on the reason that they've guaranteed him $20 million and that their new backup A. J. Feely won't be able to do any better. I think this is a team that is on the decline, but they can't have 3 terrible performances in a row, can they? The brain says Falcons, but the gut says Panthers. Confidence Points: 2
Minnesota Vikings (-10.0) vs. Detroit Lions Adrian Peterson ran all through the Browns' defense in the second half last week and this week he gets possibly a worse defense. Minnesota's defense is better than the Saints', so I don't see the Lions scoring many points. As long as Favre sticks with the game plan like last week the Vikings should have an easy time again. Confidence Points: 13
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Green Bay Packers (-9.0) The Packers did NOT look good last week against the Bears, who were without their defensive leader Brian Urlacher for the entire second half. The Bengals should have beaten the Broncos last week, but they need to score more points. I think the Bengals will score more points, maybe not enough to win, but enough to cover the spread since Green Bay loves the close games. Confidence Points: 9
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans (-6.5) Well the Texans looked HORRIBLE last week against the Jets and the Titans held their own against the Steelers and probably would have won the game if they hit either of those two early field goal tries. Kerry Collins does a good job of managing games. He doesn't win the big ones, but since this one isn't big, the Titans should win this one. Confidence Points: 14
Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-3.0) Interesting match up this week between two teams that need to figure themselves out. Both looked good last week in pushing two playoff teams from last year to the end, but they both lost. Since the Chiefs are at home and they should get Matt Cassel back at quarterback by brain says KC, but the gut says go with Oakland. Confidence Points: 12
New England Patriots (-3.5) vs. New York Jets The spread has been going down all week on this one, which means that people are betting on the Jets. The Pats barely squeaked one out Monday night against Buffalo (who loves giving away MNF games) and the Jets overachieved last week and are getting very cocky in talking smack to the Patriots. All of this together would mean that the Patriots are going to destroy New York, but the gut says that the Jets are going to find a way to win. I think this is going to be a dangerous team this season. Confidence Points: 1
New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Even) This game wasn't being bet on at the beginning of the week (the Off(0) spread), but now you can gamble on this game now with no spread. This is all due to no one knowing who is going to start at quarterback for the Eagles. Regardless of who starts for Philly, I think the team with the better defense is going to win and there is no question that the Eagles' defense is superior to the Saints' so I'm going with the Eagles. Confidence Points: 8
St. Louis Rams vs. Washington Redskins (-10.0) The Rams scored ZERO points last week in Seattle and now they take on Washington. I know that the Redskins scored 17 points in New York last weekend, 7 were on a fake field goal at the end of the first half and 7 were on a touchdown during garbage time at the end of the game, so that means that Washington should win this one 3-0 (actually it doesn't). Last year the Rams only won 2 games, but one was IN Washington so I like the Rams to at least cover if not win. Confidence Points: 3
Arizona Cardinals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.0) This home game is being blacked out in Jacksonville for not being able to sell out their home stadium. The Cardinals looked rusty against the 49ers last week, but started to get things going at the end. I think they carry that into this week and get back to Superbowl form against a team that should be embarrassed that they can't sell out their home field. Go with Arizona for this one. Confidence Points: 11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Buffalo Bills (-5.0) Buffalo let one get away last week, but they showed that they might be a problem for some elite teams. Tampa Bay is NOT an elite team and they scored points last week against an overrated Cowboys defense. I think TO has a big game at home and the Bills win this one. Confidence Points: 7
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers (-1.5) Both of these teams had big wins last week against divisional foes. Seattle completely outplayed the Rams (which wasn't hard to do) and the 49ers stunned the defending NFC Champion Cardinals. To me this one comes down to who has more playmakers on the field. I think the 49ers are on the way up and the Seahawks are on their way down, but I think Seattle is still a little higher up so they get the pick. Confidence Points: 5
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.0) vs. Chicago Bears Both of these teams lost key defensive players in Week 1. The Steelers were still able to win their game while the Bears couldn't get it done. Ben Rothlisberger won the game for Pittsburgh, while Jay Cutler lost it for the Bears. I think the trends continue and the Steelers win a hard fought game in Chicago. Confidence Points: 10
Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos (-3.0) The Broncos won last week on a fluke while the Browns just lost the game. Denver did keep it close for a long time against the Bengals so they were in that game. Cleveland was in it for the first half against the Vikings, but their defense imploded in the second half. This is a game that Denver SHOULD win and I think they will. Confidence Points: 16
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers (-3.0) Both of these teams struggled against teams that they should have beaten, but did win in the end. The Ravens would be a 3 point favorite if this game was played in Baltimore, so this point spread is basically based on home field advantage. With some running back controversy in San Diego, and the Ravens having a better defense, I like the Ravens to win this one on the road. Confidence Points: 6
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys (-3.0) Same situation here as above. The 3 point spread is based on home field advantage. This home field advantage is a little different since the Cowboys are opening their $1 billion + new stadium filled with reportedly over 104K fans, largest in NFL history. But the road team usually wins in this rivalry and I don't think the occasion will hurt the Giants. As seen from their Superbowl run a two years ago, they love being the underdog. This one should be good and I'm going with my Giants. Confidence Points: 4
Indianapolis Colts (-3.0) vs. Miami Dolphins Miami didn't look very good in Atlanta last week, but neither did the Colts. Only managing 14 points at home was a little discouraging, but I think that helps the Colts this week. The older Manning will get the pass attack back on track and lead the Colts to a victory on Monday night. Confidence Points: 15
Some quick hits on week one before we get to the rankings.
Pittsburgh, New England, and Indianapolis won their games by a combined 6 points.
Buffalo, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City all fired their offensive coordinators the last week of the preseason. All three teams lost.
Jay Cutler's Chicago Bears are 0-1. Kyle Orton's Denver Broncos are 1-0. Jay Cutler's career record is now 17-21. Kyle Orton's career record is now 22-12. At some point this starts meaning something, right?
Is it too late for me to change my sleeper pick from the Bears to the Jets? It is? Shoot.
The Steelers headline a top five filled with teams that got a good scare in their first game. Such as...
If the Bills didn't try to run that last kickoff back...
Welcome back, Osi Umenyiora.
If Michael Vick isn't waiting in the wings, does Donovan "Mr. Glass" McNabb rush back from the broken ribs to try and play this upcoming weekend? I doubt it. Get that QB controversy machine revved up!
Hey, Colts, you only won by two. You know Marvin Harrison is still a free agent looking for work, right?
When he first decided to move down to Texas, DT and I discussed how he could best watch his beloved New York Giants now that they wouldn't be the local team anymore. In the end, the decision was made to drop three bills on DirectTV's NFL Sunday Ticket package. My original estimate was that 6 games would definitely be available over the airwaves, and 8 games would not be available, leaving 2 up for grabs depending on the matchups. That meant, in the worst-case scenario, DT would be paying $300 for 10 games, for a cost of $30 per game. While Daytrader will undoubtedly argue that isn't fair because there is additional value to having the Sunday Ticket package in that he gets to watch every game, not just the Giants. Whatever. Week 1 Results What DT said: "Both Dallas and Houston have a 1 PM game (or I guess 12 in
Texas) and the Giants play host to Washington at 4:15 on Fox. CBS
never has a late game the first weekend since that's when the US Open
Men's Final is. Looking at the other 4:15 games I'm sure that the
Giants game is the marquee match-up so do you think that we would get
that game? I give it a maybe."
What I said: "If the Giants-Redskins play at 4pm with no Dallas or Houston game at that
time, I guarantee that Redskins-Giants would be the game here, so put
that one as a yes."
What actually happened: Giants-Redskins was indeed broadcast.
Now that you all have signed up for the OC Pick 'Em League (group ID 19207, password boobs), I'm sure you're all wondering who to pick. It's not easy. I mean how can you compare Vikings and Browns? Vikings are savages from northern Europe, while Browns own Seven-Elevens and drive taxis. How can I compare them!?
While there are tons of totally arbitrary ways of making picks based on absolutely NO football knowledge at all (and often these methods give great results), I feel like talking about football to my computer and will pass on my weekly picks to you and attempt to give reasoning based on some sort of self-proclaimed football knowledge.
Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.0) The NFL's opening game tomorrow is set up to be a good one: The Superbowl Champs host the reigning AFC regular season champions. The game is in Pittsburgh, which I think is a big deal. In my opinion the Titans aren't going to be as good on defense. Pittsburgh brings back almost the same team as last year and they win games like this. Since they're at home and are favored by less than a touchdown I pick the Steelers to win. Confidence Points: 7
Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons (-4.0) Both of these teams were surprises last year. They weren't supposed to be good and they both made the playoffs. The Dolphins are flying under the radar now that Tom Brady is back with the Patriots, but I like their style. The Falcons added Pro-Bowl tight end (hehe) Tony Gonzalez which will give second year QB Matt Ryan a reliable target, but I have a hunch that Miami might eek this one out. Confidence Points: 2
Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) These are two teams with some questions this year. Last year was tough for both, especially for Denver after completely collapsing and losing the AFC West. Carson Palmer is supposedly healthy while Kyle Orton isn't and probably won't play. I'd buy the Bengals before the Broncos this season so I pick Cincinnati to win at home. Confidence Points: 5
Minnesota Vikings (-4.0) vs. Cleveland Browns I'm shocked at how small the spread is for the Vikings. I don't even care about Brett Favre. The Vikings have Adrian Peterson and the NFL's best run defense. The Browns don't even have a starting quarterback. Unless Favre throws 4 interceptions (which very well may happens) the Vikings win big. Confidence Points: 15
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts (-7.0) Jaguar fans will be able to watch this game since they're not playing at home, but it won't be one that they'll enjoy. Peyton Manning is going to show everyone that HE is the reason that the Colts have been so good for so many years. This will be a statement game for the Colts and that's why I'm picking them. Confidence Points: 10
Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints (-13.0) The Lions went winless last season and are starting a rookie quarterback in Week 1. That doesn't sound good for them to pick up a win, especially since the Saints have one of the best offenses in the NFL. But I'm not picking outright winners, I'm picking against the spread. The Saints defense is horrible and I believe that the Lions will lose, but cover the spread nonetheless. Confidence Points: 4
Dallas Cowboys (-6.0) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Other than their new gigantic punt-blocking jumbo HD screen in their new stadium there has been NO news coming out of Dallas this preseason. I think that's a good sign for a team that has been nothing but underachieving for the past few seasons. Tampa redid its entire team in the offseason and this is going to be a rebuilding season. There is no way that Dallas can't win by less than a touchdown. Confidence Points: 16
Philadelphia Eagles (-1.0) vs. Carolina Panthers This is one of the best Week 1 matchups in my opinion. Both of these teams have questions and with a 1 point spread this is basically a pick 'em game. Carolina was undefeated at home in the regular season last year and the Eagles tend to be slow starters so the Panthers get the pick this time. Confidence Points: 1
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens (-13.0) The Chiefs are in a rebuilding mode, but I think they'll be better than most people think. Matt Cassel (who may not play) will give them a legitimate passing attack. Baltimore's defense is NOT going to be as good after losing their coordinator, but their offense will still help them win this one. But just like the Lions-Saints match, I think the Chiefs will lose, but still cover the spread. Confidence Points: 9
New York Jets vs. Houston Texans (-4.5) The Jets are starting rookie QB Mark "Dirty" Sanchez and they have questions all over the offense. The Texans have been getting better and better and I think this is a good Week 1 matchup for them. The Jets will need time to come together, and I'm a little worried about the spread, but I still think Houston takes it at home. Confidence Points: 8
Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants (-6.5) A classic NFC East battle in Week 1. Obviously there are questions about the Giants' receivers, but there are the same questions about Washington's QB Jason Campbell. I think this is the best divisional foe for NY to face Week 1 and I think the Giants will get it done through defense and running the ball. Confidence Points: 11
San Fransisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) The 49ers are still without their first round pick Michael Crabtree and without him I don't like their offense. Arizona's passing attack is just too good and I think their defense should be able to hold off the lowly 49er offense. I feel the spread is too low and this should be a cakewalk for the Cardinals. Confidence Points: 12
St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks (-8.5) I don't know why everyone is on the Seahawks. Their running game is questionable and is their aging QB Matt Hasselback. Seattle does play well at home, but I like the Rams. I think they'll play hard for their new coach and they have some play makers, so I go with the Rams to at least cover, if not win. Confidence Points: 6
Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers (-3.5) This is another tough call for me. I'm not sold on Jay Cutler as the savior for the Bears. He throws too many interceptions and the Bears don't have any receivers, plus he's a baby. The Packers should win this game, but last year they lost SEVEN games by FOUR points or less! That's why they should win this game, but don't so I pick Chicago. Confidence Points: 3
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots (-11.0) The T.O. show heads into New England to check on the health of the Golden Boy Tom Brady. The Patriots have dismantled their defense this past year, but I'm not concerned about it with the Bills coming in. The Bills may score points, but the Pats will score more and T.O. is going to start complaining fast. The Patriots are my pick here. Confidence Points: 14
San Diego Chargers (-9.5) vs. Oakland Raiders The Raiders are a mess and they will be a mess until Al Davis dies. San Diego's offense will get them all the points they need. The Raiders defense has some talent, but I don't trust their offense. The Chargers will get things done in Oakland as they begin running away with the AFC West. Confidence Points: 13
Welcome to the Obscure NFL Power Rankings. For those that are unfamiliar with the concept of power rankings, here's how it works: the official OC Power Rankings committee convenes in a top secret location to debate the relative strengths and weaknesses of each team. Teams are then ranked accordingly, through the use of a top secret algorithm developed through the use of a DoD research grant.
The goal of the power rankings is to provide insight beyond the simplicity of a won-loss record, and provide deeper contextual meaning. You should then use this information when making your picks for the ObscureCraft Pick 'Em League (group ID 19207, password boobs), which everyone is going to play cause its lots of fun!
Okay, its actually just me (with a little input from DT) deciding which teams are better, colored by my own prejudices and ignorances. (This is the same way college football picks winners, by the way).
I have only a few rules in life, but here are three of them: When you win the Super Bowl, you automatically get to be number one in the first preseason poll. When you go 0-16, you are definitely last in the preseason poll. If you lose another 5 games, I might drop you from the list completely. And when you sign Michael Vick to your team, I reserve the right to make as many dog fighting related puns during the season as I can come up with.
Here are the top five. The rest are after the jump. Yes, I'm ranking and commenting on every single team
Super Bowl champions automatically get the top spot in the preseason ranking barring any major injuries or personnel losses, although...
...does anybody doubt the return of Tom Brady once again makes the Patriots the favorites to win it all?
I don't know why, but I just think the Eagles are going to have a good season, doggone it! It just seems like they have more of a pitbull mentality than last season. (Translation: this is the time of year when everybody picks the Eagles, only to watch them lose the first 3 games of the season.)
Hey, did you know that the Colts finished last year on a 9-0 run before that flukey, ref-assisted loss in the playoffs?? And Peyton Manning is a full year removed from his knee surgery?
A trendy pick for the playoffs powered as much by their potential on-field performance as their crappy division.
Football season is almost here, and that means that football fever is about to flare up again. Instead of taking our antibiotics this year, ObscureCraft is throwing the medicine away and basking in the delirium of football mania. Each week during the football season you will see more football related content than a Detroit Lions' season ticket holder. Didn't get that joke? Here's what I have to say to you:
To start the season off, I've started a football pick 'em league on Yahoo! Fantasy Sports. If you enjoy having fun, read below. If you don't want to play because you hate fun and America, then why don't you take your ball and go back to your cave, Osama, because we don't want you here!
Each week during the football season you pick each game against the spread. The person with the most correct picks at the end of each week wins the week, and the person who gets the most correct overall wins the season.
Yahoo! will publish the matches and
the spreads for you. All you have to do is put a check mark next to the
team you think will be the winner. It's that simple!
Step 1: Check out each week's matchups and spreads Step 2: Carefully consider the teams involved, their on-field performance so far this year, the location, the injury report, the weather report, and anything else you think might influence the outcome Step 3: Make your picks and watch the games Step 4: Lose to Rose EVERY FUCKING YEAR HOW DO YOU DO IT ROSE
Because he was only the starter for one season in college. His draft stock was artificially inflated because he played at a high profile school (USC), but he has not proven his ability to perform on a high level against elite competition over a long period of time. He will be exposed in the NFL.
Because there is no such thing as a Mexican quarterback in the NFL. THEY TOOK URR JIBBS!!!
Because the Jets drafted him. Not only did they draft him, but they traded up to a higher position in the draft to get him. Remember when everybody said it was a good idea for them to give up on the rest of Chad Pennington's career for one season of old Brett Favre? Chad Pennington led the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and a division title. Brett Favre led the Jets nowhere. The Jets suck.
Because 60% of all quarterbacks wash out in the NFL. This prediction is
right more than half the time even if you didn't tell me that we were
talking about a Mexican who wanted to be quarterback for the terrible
New York Jets. (took ur jibs)
And because Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Jets an A- on his draft report card. Not only that, but he called Mark Sanchez a "franchise maker". Not unless the franchise is a Taco Bell! Jesus will punish the Jets as his way of punishing Mel Kiper Jr. for spending his life preparing meaningless mock drafts for ESPN, which I am then forced to listen to, because I am ESPNs monkey.
There is also something called
Suddenlink Cable, but it looks like it's run by some redneck in the
middle of nowhere. They don't get any of the professional sports
channels and their website says that they are still in the process of
getting Caller ID for digital phone service. I think I'll pass on that
I'm with Suddenlink. I assure you we're run by a very professional,
experienced management team. We don't currently offer NFL Network, but
we'd love to. More information here.
In regards to negotiations with the NFL Network, the linked article states:
Suddenlink has tried repeatedly to reach a deal to carry the NFL
Network. We even offered to give them their own channel, widely
available to Suddenlink customers who want it. We told the NFL they
could make that channel available for free, or set whatever price they
wanted for it, and keep all revenues from it, including all advertising
revenues. Under that option, Suddenlink would have made no money.
The NFL declined that offer and all others, reiterating that they
would accept nothing less than the nearly $100 million in guaranteed
payments they demanded three-plus years ago. We've made multiple new
proposals since then; the NFL has not, effectively refusing to
negotiate with us.
First, let me say this: Pete, please excuse Daytrader and myself for our comments. While you may not fit the stereotype of the redneck Texan, I assure you that we both fit the stereotype of the loud, obnoxious, know-it-all New Yorkers. (But you guys really need to work on the caller ID thing.)
[When Daytrader and Rose decided they were moving to College Station, it was time for DT to figure out the details. No, not where they would live, or how he would finish his degree at a school in upstate New York from southeast Texas. The big question was: how would DT get to see the Giants play football on Sunday? With the release of the 2009 schedule, we decided to hash it out.]
From: Jesse To: Daytrader Subject: To satellite or not to satellite?
The NFL has released the 2009 schedule. Here's how I see it shaking out for you to get games over the air once you move to College Station.
From my experience last year, you can count on getting all nationally televised games and all games played against Dallas. On top of those, if neither Houston or Dallas has a game during the day on Sunday, you have a reasonable chance of seeing the Giants, depending on the matchup.
In 2009, the Giants have 5 prime time games + 1 non-primetime game against Dallas = at least 6 games will be on the air here. So, if you decide to get Direct TV with the NFL package, you'll be paying for, at most, 10 games, possibly less if you get lucky on a random Sunday or if the Giants get flexed later in the season. So, the question is: how much would you pay to watch a single regular season game?
Albert Haynesworth hit the free-agent jackpot Friday morning by reaching agreement on a seven-year, $100 million deal with the Washington Redskins that could end up maxing out at $115 million based on his performance, according to sources.
I read that entire article. Nowhere does it mention this:
On October 1, 2006, in the third quarter of a game against the Cowboys, running back Julius Jones scored on a rushing play. Center Andre Gurode fell to the ground, and his helmet was removed by Haynesworth. [...]
Haynesworth reached down and pulled off his helmet; in video evidence
of the play. [...]
Haynesworth tried to stomp on Gurode's head, but missed. A second
stomp opened a severe wound on Gurode's forehead, narrowly missing his
3 years ago, during a game, Albert Haynesworth, a 320-lb defensive tackle, pulled another player's helmet off and then stomped as hard as he could on his face. Today, he signs a contract for $100M dollars. I only have two questions:
- How does any story about this guy not include at least some mention of a 5-game suspension for Stomping A Dude's Face, and - Is there any question that this guy was on steroids at the time?
Roger Clemens threw part of a bat at Mike Piazza during the 2000 World Series, and this gets brought up time and again as evidence that he was on steroids. Well, this guy STEPPED ON SOMEBODY'S FACE WITH HIS 320 POUND BODY. And yet... nothing. Where is the outrage? Where are the red-in-the-face sportscaster's demand that records be erased and awards be stripped and Hall of Fame induction be denied?
I am typically a self-aware person. I am not usually deluded. Or, to be more correct, I know when I am deluding myself, but will move forward anyway. For example: I know that exactly 5 people will read this article, but I will move forward with the writing anyway as if this were a widely-circulated newspaper column. And, no, I don't think I had any delusions about how this postseason would actually play out, as I proved here:
"That is, unless the Giants lose to the Eagles in round 2."
That prediction was made before the Eagles had even gotten past the Vikings. Sometimes, this whole football business can be so painfully predictable, as the Baltimore Ravens victory on February 1 over these same Eagles will prove.
But, when it comes to the Giants, there was one place where I totally and completely deluded myself. I thought the Giants could win without Plaxico Burress.
I truly believed that. Plaxico shot his own damn self on November 28th. On that day the Giants were 11-1, and averaged over 29 points per game. Since then they are 1-4, averaging only 17 points per game.
I rationalized. The only game they really needed to win the rest of the year was the game against Carolina (which they won, further reinforcing my delusions). Brandon Jacobs was hurt, and that was the real reason that scoring was down. Blah blah blah.
Make no mistake: the Curse of Luis' Deli was in full effect yesterday. It was in full effect on November 28th when Plax put on those fateful sweatpants. I think Luis might have dressed Plax that night, and then made sure the gun was loaded before sticking it in Burress' waistband.
If I may make some further bold predictions:
The Giants will do everything they can to bring Burress back next season unless he is actually in prison.
If they can't get him, they will go hard in the off-season after any available wide receiver over 6'3" tall.
If they fail at both of those tasks, the Giants will not make the playoffs next year
Last prediction: after the awful job he did yesterday, Kevin Gilbride, the Giants' offensive coordinator, should be shown the door. Whenever the Giants' ran the ball, good things happened. Whenever they threw the ball, bad things happened. They should have continued running the ball until the Eagles proved they could stop them. Instead they let Eli throw helicopters into the wind until the drives ended or the ball was picked off. Incredibly frustrating.
Jim, I bet you think your taunting has gone unnoticed. Maybe I'm the only one who read your Plaxico Burress-inspired version of "Janie's Got a Gun" in the comment thread for this article, but I read it. But guess what? The Giants are going to beat the Eagles on Sunday.
Who have the Eagles won against? They beat the Giants immediately after Plaxico shot himself. Then they beat a terrible Cleveland team that had quit on their coach. They followed that up with a loss against a Washington team with nothing to play for in which they only scored three points. They beat a terrible Cowboys team to make the playoffs.
And then they played the Vikings, the only possible playoff matchup that gave the Eagles an advantage at either coach or quarterback. The Vikings were barely able to beat the Giants backups a week earlier.
Meanwhile, the G-Men have had a week off. More importantly, Brandon Jacobs is healthy. I've learned my lesson about betting on my teams in the playoffs, but if I didn't have a stake in this game, I'd be putting cash on the Giants. Mark it down: the Giants are going to the Super Bowl. For realz.
When the Giants lose their first playoff game a week from Sunday, you can look back and blame me for this column. I am about to jinx them by rating which AFC team represents the most interesting Super Bowl matchup, from 1 to 6.
6. Miami Dolphins
I'm not going to lie. When I had the idea for this list, I thought this spot would go to New England or the Jets. Can you imagine it? The Patriots: A rematch from last season, when the underdog Giants swooped in and ruined the Patriots perfect season. The Patriots would be back for revenge, this time as the underdogs. What a great matchup that would have been.
Or the Jets: New York vs. New York. Brother against brother, father against son, obnoxious jerkoffs against loudmouth assholes. The subway Super Bowl, even though you can't ride a subway to Giants Stadium or Tampa Bay, where the game would actually be played.
But instead, we get the Dophins. The best I could come up with is that their coach is named Tony Sparano, which is pretty close to Tony Soprano, like in that show that took place in New Jersey, which is where the Giants play, even though they are actually called the New York Giants. Damn it all.
5. Baltimore Ravens
Rematch of Super Bowl XXXV, when the Ray Lewis-led Baltimore Ravens defense held the Giants to one special teams touchdown in a 34-7 pasting. This matchup might be more intriguing if there was more than a single Giants starter left from that Super Bowl run.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Two stud quarterbacks from the draft class of 2004, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, each go for their second Super Bowl ring. As an added bonus, my employer is a Steelers fan, so excessive gloating on the day after the Super Bowl could have severe career ramifications.
Did you know that there is a burger joint in Pittsburgh that has an item on the menu called a Rothelis-burger, which is made with a 7-pound beef patty in honor of the number worn by the QB? I think 7 might also be a reference to the number of people in Pittsburgh who still have jobs today.
3. Tennessee Titans
You probably think that this game is interesting because it would represent a matchup between the two top-seeded teams in the playoffs, or the two teams who were at the top of the standings all year, or because it matches the Giants against Kerry Collins, the quarterback who took them to Super Bowl XXV. You would be wrong.
No, this game is interesting because it matches two teams whose names mean the same thing. Giants! Titans! This game is going to be huge!! Get it?!?!? Most exciting Super Bowl matchup for me since the Buccaneers played the Raiders.
2. San Diego Chargers
In 2004, the Chargers drafted Eli Manning number one overall. He refused to sign with them, forcing a trade to the Giants. Who did the Giants send back? Philip Rivers, the number 3 overall pick and current QB for San Diego. Rumor has it that Chargers fans are still not incredibly pleased with Eli. This could be the biggest potential storyline in the playoffs, if not for...
1. Indianapolis Colts
Manning vs. Manning. Eli and Peyton, fighting it out for their mother's love in the biggest game of the year. NBC, the network that airs the Super Bowl this year, will have a collective boner for 2 weeks. Advertisers will be falling over themselves to throw money at them. It will be the most watched Super Bowl in history. Oops, they got a semi right now just thinking about it.
It will be the most over-hyped storyline since Jerome Bettis going home to Detroit to win a Super Bowl in his final game. In fact, I'm already sick of it. Every advertisement in the month of February will have either Eli, Peyton, or Archie, who will probably send a sample of his sperm to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton after the game.
That is, unless the Giants lose to the Eagles in round 2. Dammit all.
Now that the Giants have taken care of business against the Carolina Panthers and locked up the top seed in the NFC, I hope I can stop hearing about how the Giants can't win without Plaxico Burress.
In the car on Sunday before the big game, I actually heard this from a sports talk "expert" on the radio:
"I think that Plaxico Burress is more important to the Giants than Brandon Jacobs. Yes, I know that the Giants have won without Plaxico, and that Jacobs is important to their running game, but I just think that the Giants can't win without Burress."
Wait: so even though the Giants have won without Plaxico, you don't think they can win without Plaxico? Does somebody dress you in the morning, or do you do it all by yourself?
All this talk started because the Giants lost two games in a row. Did you know that two games now constitutes a losing streak? Yes, they dropped from 11-1 to 11-3. Their season is over!!
Fortunately, Giants coaches knew what nobody else seemed to be able to figure out: the only game they needed to win the rest of the year was the game against the Panthers. Even if they lost that game they would still get a first round bye in the playoffs, but winning at home against the Panthers would lock up the number one seed.
That's it. So no need to rush Jacobs back before he was ready. No need to dig too deep into the bag of tricks. Because losing a game or two at the end of the regular season doesn't mean anything. Because the NFL is not like college football.
Somebody who enjoys college football explain to me:
Why should one or two losses at the beginning of the year completely end somebody's season? Why should it matter what your margin of victory is? Why are colleges allowed to schedule games against clearly inferior opponents? And why are they allowed to play more games at home than on the road? And why don't they play the same number of games?
This year's championship will be played between Oklahoma (12-1) and Florida (12-1). Texas (11-1) was left out, even though Oklahoma lost to Texas. Does this make sense to anybody who isn't me? You know how it would make sense? If Texas had lost a playoff game. But they didn't, because the simple concept of a playoff still manages to elude the brain trust behind college football
And I don't wanna hear about who won what conference or tradition or blah blah blah. If it takes you more than 3 seconds to explain yourself, then it is dumb.
Why did the Giants win the Super Bowl last year? Because they won every game in the playoffs. I did not have to bring up margin of victory or strength of schedule or conference strength or anything like that. Because the NFL is real football. College football is like a Salvador Dali painting of actual football.
You know what really grinds my gears? Pretty much everything about the game of football. Jesse has been making me watch alot of football lately, and I have to say... this game is pretty goddamn irritating. And no. It's not because I'm a girl. It's because
there are just some things are fucking stupid about the sport of football.
instance, somebody tell the quarterback that his job is not to get the football
and then stand there before getting tackled. His job is to throw the
football! Throw! The! Fucking! Football! Throw it! I even get mad when the
quarterback I'm supposed to be rooting against does this. I guess my
anger at somebody paid millions of dollars failing to do his job right exceeds
my caring over who wins some stupid games.
Speaking of not caring: I don't care who is "In The Hunt" for a playoff spot.
This is a stupid phrase. Nobody is hunting anything. Is
phrase even grammatically correct? Do you go "In The Hunt" for deer? No, you go
fucking hunting. And when you catch it, you kill it and eat it. And I
doubt the Dolphins or Cowboys are turning to cannibalism any time soon
(however, this method would ensure a spot in the playoffs).
But that phrase isn't even half as dumb as "Control Your Own Destiny."
Are they "In The Hunt" for a playoff spot, or are they questing for a
magical spear that can be used to destroy mankind? Stop trying to make your
sport sound like a fantasy novel read by pimply teenage boys or a made-for-TNT
And guess what: when I go into a business meeting with a client, I don't stand
up and introduce myself as "Suzi, graphic designer, Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute." You know why? Because nobody cares what college I went to. (Well,
that and everyone would think I went to a 2-year tech college after earning my
GED.) But if I was a football player, apparently everybody has to know what
college I went to, because it is somehow relevant to what is happening on the
field. Hey, football player who introduced himself as attending the "U
Already Know" yesterday: no, I don't already know. And I don't care.
And finally--quarterbacks who can't be bothered to look up at the fucking play
clock before getting a delay of game penalty... What is your fucking deal? Or
perhaps you just need a refresher on simple math. That's just a penalty
that no one should get unless they want to get flogged in the middle of the
And don't even get me started on the name... Might as well call it soccer. The only time the foot is involved is when they fuck up, and they have to kick the ball to the other team. Hey, fuckupball. Now there is a name that makes sense.
While watching the Panthers/Buccaneers Monday night game, the Suze asked: Why do the referees use hand signals to indicate penalties? Don't they have microphones?
The answer is not, as I originally stated, that the NFL has a larger-than-usual following among deaf people. Instead, the answer is a combination of utility and tradition.
Here's the utility: When football was started and microphones were not available, the hand signals were necessary as a way for the referees to signal to the press box and the coaches on the sideline what penalty had been called. The hand signals are still used in that capacity today - you may notice, the Suze, that the referee will signal the penalty to the sideline before announcing it over the PA system. This gives the coach the opportunity to indicate whether or not they want to accept the penalty (on procedural penalties where the coach will not ever decline, such as a false start, this step is skipped). The hand signals are also used exclusively in football games throughout the country at the high school level and below where microphones are not available to the refs.
However, you, the Suze, are not at a high school game, and you are not the coach on the sideline (although I would absolutely LOVE to see that). So why do you need to see the hand signals? Tradition, plain and simple.
You know what really grinds my gears? When you get two highly paid professional tackle football commentators together, and they don't seem to know what the fuck they are talking about.
At a critical junction in yesterday's Giants-Eagles super football fantastic number-one throwdown, Eli Manning steps up in the pocket on third down near the 20 yard line and fires a pass to Kevin Boss for a critical first down at the 3. Uh-oh, I thought. He looked really close to the line of scrimmage. And, sure enough, the yellow flag was thrown. Illegal forward pass, five yard penalty, and loss of down. The Giants were going to have to settle for a field goal try.
Football might be the world's most misunderstood sport. To a casual viewer the game feels random and jumbled, giant men slamming into each other with no rhyme or reason. When a big play happens it is exciting, but most people, even football fans, might have a hard time explaining what the men slamming into each other did differently this time that made the huge play possible.
Of all the major team sports, football is by far the most complex. There are
more men on the field, the action happens faster, and the way we watch
it on television obscures more than it illuminates. The camera (and
the viewer) follows the football, but much of what happens to make each
play possible happens away from the ball. Did you see how the wide
receiver got open down the sideline? Or who threw the crucial block to
make that long run possible? Only if it was caught on camera, and only
if you know where to look.
Sometimes it seems like the people who love the game the most understand it the least. Check out the Hall of Fame sometime: fully one third of the players in the Hall of Fame are either running backs or quarterbacks. These positions make up, at most, 3 of the 22 positions on the field at any given time. Does this give anyone else the impression that maybe even "educated" football men don't really understand the contributions of everyone on the field?
In his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN, Gregg Easterbrook helps make his readers better football fans. He highlights the hidden ways that football games are won, and also seeks answers to the ways in which the game does not make sense.
A typically illuminating paragraph from this week's column:
"Minnesota cornerback Antoine Winfield sacked Carolina quarterback Jake
Delhomme, picked up his fumble and ran it back for six points. TMQ
suspects this play was an uncalled "automatic" -- if Winfield saw a
certain alignment, he was free to blitz. On the play, Delhomme only
looked to his left, with Winfield coming from his right. The Vikings'
corner left his man uncovered, but Delhomme never looked that way. From
film study, Minnesota coaches must have noticed a formation or
down-and-distance situation in which they were certain Delhomme would
never look to his right."
The viewers at home saw the play happen, but TMQ is able to see the play and figure out what made this play different from the others where the quarterback wasn't forced into a fumble. Insights like this help lift the cloud of brutality and violence from football and help to reveal the intelligence and insight that goes into every play.
It is this same gift for insight that Easterbrook applies to the world outside of football in his column. In between highlights from the previous weeks games we'll find TMQ commenting on the hot topics of the day like global warming, vehicle fuel efficiency standards, and, this week, government bailouts of investment banks:
"[A]ttached to the bailout is no requirement that the AIG top managers
who lavished money on themselves, justifying it on decisions now known
to be "inexcusable" (Paulson's word), give up any of their bonuses,
which are now effectively tax-supported. At the moment of the Treasury
Department's maximum power over AIG, the federal government asked
nothing of company officials. Essentially Treasury said, "We propose
the taxpayers give up $85 billion, and you give up nothing." The Bush
administration sure drives a hard bargain! This is the same basic
agreement -- $700 billion in return for no concessions about pay -- the
White House now wants to reach with the financial industry as a whole."