NFL Week Seven Picks

October 25th, 2020 No comments

This season’s just never going to make sense to me.

Just isn’t.

I could try to explain it away (believe me when I tell you I have tried to explain it away to myself), but it doesn’t matter.

I’m clueless. As my 6-8 finishes straight up and against the spread in week six demonstrate. For the season, I’m not 58-32-1 (.643)straight up, 37-51-3 (.423) with the points. But I’m off to a 1-0 start across the board in week seven. So that’s awesome.

Here’s what not to expect on Sunday and Monday (and whatever days they end up postponing games to at the last minute).

Detroit (+2) at Atlanta
Neither of these teams is good. But the matchup of a pass-based Atlanta offense vs. a Detroit D that’s mostly vulnerable on the ground favors the slightly less bad road team. I think. Lions by a field goal.

Cleveland (-3) at Cincinnati
It holds up year after year: When the worst team in the AFC North isn’t the Browns, it’s the Bengals. Cleveland by a touchdown.

Pittsburgh (+1.5) at Tennessee
If I were smart, I’d pick the home team. But I must not be smart, because I keep thinking about how little opportunity the Titans have had to prepare for this match. And about how I suspect the Pittsburgh O is going to be able to wear down the Tennessee D on the ground. Steelers by two.

Carolina (+7) at New Orleans
I’ve seen nothing that leads me to believe that either of these teams is anything other than solidly average. That favors the home team, though not by a touchdown in a division game. Saints by four.

Buffalo (-10) at NY Jets
The Bills clearly aren’t great. But they’re very good. And the Jets are very, very bad. Buffalo by nine.

Dallas (+1) at Washington
Ummmm. Yeah, I don’t know. Dallas? By a field goal?

Green Bay (-3.5) at Houston
In which the Packers perform just well enough against weak opposition to allow the ever-fawning football media to declare that all is right with the world. Green Bay by six.

Tampa Bay (-4.5) at Las Vegas
This might have been a fun game to see if it had stayed in prime time. Or it might not have been. It all depends on whether the Raiders offense can keep Las Vegas in the game. I suspect they’ll manage through around the middle of the third quarter. In the end, though, it’s Tampa by 10.

Kansas City (-7.5) at Denver
Look, everybody, it’s the Chiefs! The wonderful, wonderful, unstoppable Chiefs! Kansas City should win by two touchdowns, but ends up winning by two field goals.

San Francisco (+3) at New England
We’ll have a better sense of who the Patriots are when this game is over. With a full week of practice, New England should be able to handle a banged-up and ultimately average San Francisco squad. Might take them a good half of football to get going, but the Patriots should come out ahead by at least a touchdown.

Jacksonville (+7.5) at LA Chargers
Seven and a half strikes me as not quite half enough. Chargers by 16.

Seattle (-3.5) at Arizona
There seems to be an expectation out there that the Seahawks roll in this game. I’m not buying it. I suspect Seattle wins. But I think it’s a shootout, and I’ve got a feeling it could come down to a turnover. Seahawks by a point.

Chicago (+6) at LA Rams
Sooner or later, reality is going to catch up with the 2020 Chicago Bears. It may as well start here. Rams by seven.

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NFL Week Seven, Thursday Night Pick

October 22nd, 2020 No comments

Oh, would you look at that. There’s a football game tonight. Sort of.

NY Giants (+4.5) at Philadelphia
The home team here is a little less bad from the guys making the trip down the New Jersey turnpike. So let’s just say Eagles by a field goal and have done with it, shall we?

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NFL Week Six Picks

October 18th, 2020 No comments

Yeah, it just keeps getting worse. Or, you know, I just keep getting worse.

Truth is, I’m having trouble getting engaged in this season. Or staying engaged, I guess. When there’s a game in front of me, I’m into it. Otherwise, I spend the time I usually dedicate to thinking about football wondering how anyone thinks it’s a good idea to play football during a pandemic.

Anyhow, that’s my excuse for going 9-5 straight up and 6-8 against the spread in week six, and for why I currently sit at 52-24-1 (.682) straight up, 31-43-3 (.422) against the spread for the season.

And still here I go with ill-advised and ill-favored picks for week six.

Here’s what not to expect.

Houston (+3.5) at Tennessee
The Titans’ extra short week following their Tuesday evening pummeling of the Bills, and the leveling factor of division rivalry, are the only things that keep this game close. And it still won’t be that close. Tennessee by six.

Cincinnati (+7.5) at Indianapolis
If this game were being played in Cincinnati, and there was such a thing as home field advantage this season, a spread of just more than a touchdown in Indy’s favor might make sense. Under existing conditions. not so much. Colts by 14.

Atlanta (+4) at Minnesota
There’s no in-season fix for the Falcons. But the same more than likely can be said of the Vikings. Minnesota by a field goal.

Denver (+8) at New England
It’s hard to imagine this will be the week when the Broncos’ offense finally gets some traction. (Maybe week six of the 2021 season?) Patriots by 13.

Washington (+2.5) at NY Giants
Does this actually qualify as a professional football game? Brand X by three.

Baltimore (-9.5) at Philadelphia
The NFC East is just a power pack this season, isn’t it? Baltimore by 20.

Cleveland (+3.5) at Pittsburgh
I think the Browns could actually win this game — if they can sprout a defense. Or, alternately, it it works out the Steelers don’t actually have much of an offense. I’m inclined toward option two. Cleveland by a point.

Chicago (+1) at Carolina
One of these teams is better than I’ve been giving them credit for. But I’m not sure which. (Maybe it’s both.) So I’m picking the home team to win by three.

Detroit (+3) at Jacksonville
The coin came up tails. So that’s Jacksonville. By one? I guess.

NY Jets (+9.5) at Miami
Even the division rivalry thing can’t make a game of this uneven matchup. Dolphins by 16.

Green Bay (-1) at Tampa Bay
The notion that Aaron Rodgers is (or ever has been) a better quarterback than Tom Brady is absurd. The notion that the 2020 Packers are a more balanced and complete team than the 2020 Buccaneers is on the money. Green Bay by four.

LA Rams (-2.5) at San Francisco
It’s probably time the Niners start thinking about the draft. Rams by seven.

Kansas City (-5) at Buffalo
I’m not sure the Bills are quite ready for this match yet. Kansas City by three.

Arizona (-1) at Dallas
The Cowboys’ season ended last week. I think everyone knows that. Cardinals by a field goal.

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NFL Week 5 Picks

October 11th, 2020 Comments off

I’m not sure there’s a point in continuing to try to predict the outcomes of games that may or may not be played. But at least for one more week, I’m doing it anyhow.

I lost power due to a storm on Wednesday evening and didn’t get it back until close to midnight Thursday, as a result of which I wasn’t able to post my Tampa Bay-Chicago pick before the game. So I’m just going to have to ask you to trust me when I say I was going to take the Bucs and give the 4.5 points. So that’s me 0-1 straight up and against the spread so far this week.

I went 10-5 straight up and 6-7-2 with the points in week four, which landed me at an illustrious 43-19-1 (.690), 25-35-3 (.421) on the season coming into the weekend. Let’s see how much worse it can get.

Here’s what not to expect (even if you expect any games to be played at all).

Carolina (+2.5) at Atlanta
With matchups like this on the schedule, it’s easy to understand why the NFL persists with this mistake of a season. Falcons by four.

Las Vegas (+11) at Kansas City
The Chiefs are better than the Raiders by enough that they should be able to win by more than 11 at home. But, you know, division rivalries are weird. Kansas City by eight.

Arizona (-7) at NY Jets
So far this season, the Cardinals haven’t lived up to expectations. But the Jets certainly have lived down to theirs. Arizona by six.

Philadelphia (+7) at Pittsburgh
It looks like the only thing that can keep the Steelers from spending the entire season beating up on weak opponents is Covid-19. We’ll see how that turns out. Pittsburgh by 10.

LA Rams (-7) at Washington
Surprisingly, it works out that halfway changing the name of a football team does not dramatically change that team’s ability to compete. Rams by 11.

Cincinnati (+11.5) at Baltimore
This might be a pretty good matchup. Next season. For now, let’s just figure the division rivalry factor keeps it closer on the scoreboard than it is on the field. Ravens by a touchdown.

Jacksonville (+5.5) at Houston
I guess the thinking in Houston was that this season didn’t have enough disruptions built into it already. Texans by three.

Miami (+8) at San Francisco
I don’t even know who’s playing in this game. And I’m not sure I care. San Francisco by four.

Indianapolis (+1) at Cleveland
Pretty even matchup between what appears to be a pair of fairly good, but ultimately unbalanced teams. In a situation like this, you go with home team by three.

NY Giants (+7.5) at Dallas
The Cowboys can’t really be as bad as they’ve looked. Unless they are. The Giants can definitely be as bad as they’ve looked. Dallas by nine.

Minnesota (+7) at Seattle
After a slow start, the Vikings have a solid one-game winning streak working. That might be as good as it gets for Minnesota this season. Seahawks by 10.

LA Chargers (+8) at New Orleans
The Saints are almost certainly a better team than the Chargers. But maybe not by quite as much as one might have anticipated. New Orleans by four.

Buffalo (-6.5) at Tennessee
The best bet is that the game doesn’t get played. If it does … eh, Bills by seven.

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Week Four Picks

October 4th, 2020 Comments off

It’s starting to look like I could finish week four perfect straight up and against the spread.

I got the Thursday night game right. And as positive Covid-19 tests roll in left and right, for all I know Thursday night’s game could turn out to be the whole of the slate.

Let’s assume the NFL manages to avoid having to reschedule or scrap the whole thing, though, and just take a look at what not to expect in the off chance they play some of these games (sometime between Sunday and Wednesday).

Jacksonville (+2.5) at Cincinnati
Pondering a game like this, it’s easy to see why the NFL would want to press on with the 2020 season despite the very real risks of this pandemic. I mean, professional football just doesn’t get any more exciting than this, does it? One of these teams has to win. I figure it probably turns out to be the marginally more competent Jaguars. Jacksonville by a field goal.

Cleveland (+3.5) at Dallas
I know the Browns have a better record than the Cowboys at this point. But still, really? Three and a half? Are we expecting most of the Dallas offense to call in sick? Dallas by 13.

New Orleans (-3) at Detroit
It’s looks to me as if the 2020 Saints may have some real problems. But so do the Lions. New Orleans by a point.

Seattle (-5.5) at Miami
Cross-country travel is the only factor that prevents a blowout here. Seahawks by a touchdown.

LA Chargers (+7) at Tampa Bay
The Bucs offense is still finding its way. The Chargers have yet to find their offense. Tampa by nine.

Baltimore (-14) at Washington
This game should be over by the end of the first quarter. Ravens by 20.

Arizona (-3) at Carolina
The Cardinals aren’t consistently playing up to their potential. The Panthers have no potential. Cards by four.

Minnesota (+3.5) at Houston
Through three weeks, these two teams don’t have win between them. The Texans at least have the excuse of having played an absolutely brutal opening schedule. Houston by a field goal.

NY Giants (+13) at LA Rams
Sooner or later one of the New Jersey teams is going to win a football game. I think. But it’s not going to be this week. Rams by two touchdowns.

Indianapolis (-3) at Chicago
The Bears are 3-0. Their opponents are a collective 1-8. The Colts are 2-1. Their opponents are a collective 1-9 (through Thursday night’s Jets loss). So you tell me how to size up this match. I think the Colts are probably slightly better. But maybe not by enough to win by more than three even with a very short road trip. Let’s say Indy wins it straight up and it’s a push with the points.

Buffalo (-3.5) at Las Vegas
There was a time when these teams regularly engaged in very entertaining postseason matches. We might get back there sooner than later. But only if the Raiders are able to develop a defense. Buffalo by six.

Philadelphia (+7.5) at San Francisco
Seven and a half seems like an awful lot for a banged-up team to be giving. Then again, the Eagles. San Fran by 10.

Atlanta (+6.5) at Green Bay
I don’t have much to say here. Packers by a lot. What’s a lot? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely more than six and a half, and probably less than, I don’t know, 49.

New England (+7) at Kansas City
You can’t get an actual line on this game, so I just stuck with what was there before the whole thing was thrown into doubt following Cam Newton’s positive Covid-19 test. New England was already facing an uphill battle here. The Patriots defense has been shaping up promisingly, but it’s not ready for this kind of a challenge yet. Maybe the Pats O could have stepped up against a suspect Chiefs D and made it a game. But it’s probably too early in the season for that, too. With New England maybe traveling to Kansas City on the day of the game to play with Brian Hoyer behind center? Forget it. (I like Hoyer as a backup. But he’s not at this point going to come off the bench to lead a team to victory over the defending champs.) If the game is played, Chiefs win it by at least 10.

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Week Four Thursday Night Pick

October 1st, 2020 Comments off

I have no idea what I’m doing.

Still here? OK, look, I was 10-5-1 picking straight up in week three. And 6-10 picking with the points.

Should I keep going? All right, but I’m only going to give you the wrong pick on one game right now. Because I love to keep you in suspense. “How will he fuck up the rest of his picks?” Wait and see. Wait and see.

Here’s what not to expect this evening.

Denver (+1) at NY Jets
It can’t feel good to be getting a point from the Jets. Maybe beating them with some kid who got the job because his uncle knew somebody (or something like that) at quarterback will help. Broncos by a field goal.

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Week Three Picks

September 27th, 2020 Comments off

Well, this week is off to a fine start. I called the Thursday night game backward. And, of course, I should have known. You know, given the quality of the teams and the ease of playing on the road on a Thursday.

Let’s see how much deeper I can dig this hole, shall we?

Here’s what not to expect over the rest of week three.

Chicago (+3) at Atlanta
There’s really no picking this game. Even if one were to set aside the still results from these teams’ first two games — the Bears fared well against what we assume are weak teams while the Falcons have performed poorly (and heartbreakingly — if you care about the Falcons) against what we assume are strong teams — it’s not clear that Atlanta’s going to be able to field a team. I guess I’ll assume they are (lot of assumptions here) and hedge a bit by saying home team takes it by a point.

LA Rams (+2) at Buffalo
The Rams have looked good so far this season. But the Bills have looked better. And since Buffalo’s playing at home and the Rams are making the long trip east, I’m thinking Buffalo by a touchdown.

Washington (+7) at Cleveland
This may be a bigger game than many realize. The winner will pretty much have the season they were going to have anyhow, while the loser will face exactly the same fate. Exciting stuff. Browns by six.

Tennessee (-2.5) at Minnesota
Someone should probably tell the Vikings the preseason was canceled, not postponed. The Titans certainly seem to have figured it out. Tennessee by nine.

Las Vegas (+6) at New England
The Raiders offense has been playing very well so far this season. We’ll see if it holds up with a cross-country trip on a short rest. I expect Las Vegas will put up some points. Enough points? Probably not. The Patriots should have a good day against a Raiders D that struggles to stop the run. And that should be enough. New England by seven.

San Francisco (-3) at NY Giants
Anyone know if there’s an over/under on significant injuries in this game? I’m thinking 3.5 would be reasonable. Niners? By two points.

Cincinnati (+4) at Philadelphia
I’ve been able to confirm that there will indeed be a football in play throughout this week’s game. But no one has been able to assure me that either team will recognize it. Eagles by three.

Houston (+4) at Pittsburgh
After this week, the Texans get a short break from what’s been an absolutely brutal schedule. They can look forward to that, anyhow. Steelers by 14.

NY Jets (+11.5) at Indianapolis
The Jets are just not ready. Colts by 10.

Carolina (+6.5) at LA Chargers
The Panthers probably couldn’t win this one at full strength. They’re not at full strength. Chargers by 13.

Tampa Bay (-6) at Denver
Playing in Denver has posed a bit of a challenge for Tom Brady over the years. But winning there hasn’t exactly been impossible for the GOAT. And a fairly weak Broncos team should make the hurdle a little bit easier to clear. Bucs by four.

Detroit (+5.5) at Arizona
Can a team be done after two games? Probably not. But also probably yeah, maybe. Cardinals by 14.

Dallas (+5) at Seattle
Bet the over. And expect fireworks. Seahawks by three.

Green Bay (+3) at New Orleans
The Saints have looked a bit off. Might be just a factor of the unusual circumstances of this season. Might be something else. But it’s something. Packers by a field goal.

Kansas City (+3.5) at Baltimore
The Ravens are just better than the defending champs right now. Still, this should be a spectacular football game. Baltimore by six.

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Week Three Thursday Night

September 24th, 2020 Comments off

I’ve decided I should try to put less thought into my weekly picks.

Why? Because last week, I had next to no time to ponder the games and came out 14-2 picking straight up, 8-8 against the spread. The latter doesn’t matter, since I’m not a gambler and since I go into a season knowing I have no chance of predicting margins of victory before I have a decent set of stats to work with — around week five. The former feels pretty OK.

Here’s my note on tonight’s game. I’ll follow up with the rest once I’ve had a chance to think about them a bit less.

Miami (+3) at Jacksonville
The Jaguars are maybe pretty average. I mean that as a compliment. And even if I didn’t, it would be more than enough at home against the Dolphins on a short week. Jacksonville by six.

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Week Two Picks

September 20th, 2020 Comments off

Hey, look at that. I got the Thursday night game right straight up and against the spread.

Let’s see how much of a mess I can make of a solid start.

NY Giants (+5.5) at Chicago
I don’t think the Bears are quite in regular season form yet. But that’s mostly because I don’t think any team is really in regular form yet. Except maybe the Giants. It’s possible that what we saw Monday night against the Steelers is about what the 2020 Giants are going to be able to bring to the field. Chicago by a touchdown.

Atlanta (+3.5) at Dallas
This matchup at this point in this season goes to the home team. Cowboys by a point.

Detroit (+6) at Green Bay
Division games are often closer than the relative strengths of the teams would otherwise suggest they should be. And still six doesn’t strike me as half enough. Packers by 13.

Jacksonville (+7.5) at Tennessee
The Jaguars might not be so bad after all. Then again, they might. In any event, the division rivalry factor keeps this one closer than it ought to be. Titans by six.

Minnesota (+3) at Indianapolis
One of these teams has to be better than it looked in its opener. Maybe. Vikings by three.

Buffalo (-5.5) at Miami
The Bills are the better team. But Miami isn’t an easy place to play, particularly early in the season when it’s 90 degrees at game time. Buffalo by a field goal.

San Francisco (-7) at NY Jets
Hold on a second. I just need to check on something real quick. … Yeah, works out the Jets are still the Jets. Niners by four.

LA Rams (+1.5) at Philadelphia
I don’t think there’s any way any NFL team’s defense is playing its best football after a single game in a pre-seasonless season. But the Rams D certainly appears to have come strong out of the gate. I like what that says about the team. Los Angeles by three.

Denver (+7) at Pittsburgh
Both of these teams are playing on short rest. The better of the two — and, one suspects, by no small margin — is hosting. Steelers by 10.

Carolina (+8.5) at Tampa Bay
I think we might see a more typical game from the Bucs’ new quarterback this week. Three TDs and 350-ish passing yards, maybe. Something like that. Enough to fuel a comfortable win by the home team. Tampa by two touchdowns.

Washington (+7) at Arizona
Brand X looked better than expected last week at home. I’m not counting on them to keep it up. Cardinals by five.

Kansas City (-8.5) at LA Chargers
I can’t imagine anyone needs me to say anything about this game. Since it’s in Los Angeles, maybe the Chiefs only win by, like, 10.

Baltimore (-7) at Houston
The 2020 Texans can’t catch a break, can they? Ravens by three touchdowns.

New England (+4) at Seattle
It’s not that I don’t think the Patriots can win this game. They can. If it were in Foxborough, they probably would. (And if they meet again on a neutral field in early February, when the Patriots offense has had more time to come together, I suspect they will.) But in Seattle, even without the usual noise conditions, I just think it’s a lot to ask. Seahawks by a field goal.

New Orleans (-5) at Las Vegas
New Orleans by 14. I don’t know what else there could be to say.

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Week Two Thursday Night

September 17th, 2020 Comments off

Looks like I’m not gonna get to all of this week’s games before the exciting Thursday night matchup kicks off. So I’ll knock this one off and get to the rest when I do.

Oh, also, as for week one, ugh.

I can go on all day about how impossible it is to pick football games without actually knowing anything about the state of the teams competing in them. But it won’t make 9-7 straight up or 5-10-1 against the spread look or feel any better. So I guess I’ll just move on.

Here’s what not to expect in week two.

Cincinnati (+6) at Cleveland
It’s virtually a given that one of these teams will manage not to lose. Seems like maybe that will be the home team. I think. Probably. Browns by four.

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