Archive for November, 2017

Week Thirteen Picks

November 30th, 2017 Comments off

Now I’m feeling good about myself, which is insanely dangerous.

But what am I gonna do?

I finished week twelve 14-2 straight up, 8-7-1 against the spread. And I know that ATS record is awful. But I’ve grown accustomed to awful there. So I’m focusing on the straight up 14-2. That’s a nice little result.

It brings me to 119-57 (.676) straight up and 85-83-8 (.506) so far this season.

And that brings me to fear that a major correction is in the offing.

So, uh, here’s what you totally should not in any way expect in week 13.

Washington (+1.5) at Dallas
Don’t know about you, but I don’t really see anyone going off for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns this time around. And like the Cowboys themselves (apparently), I’m not sure how you replace that kind of production. Racists by a point.

Detroit (+3) at Baltimore
These two postseason pretenders have exactly one victory over a good opponent between them — and it happened back in week four. Nothing substantive changes here. The so-so home team adds the pelt of a solidly mediocre visitor to its sad little trophy case. Ravens by two.

San Francisco (+3.5) at Chicago
Well, at least the 49ers’ decision to start Jimmy Garoppolo gives ticket holders, Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, and those who can’t escape being part of the home viewing audience something to be excited about. I’m not sure Jimmy’s likely to turn the 49ers around single-handedly in his first start. But he should make things more interesting. Bears by one.

Minnesota (+3) at Atlanta
If this game were being played in Minnesota, I’d expect an easy win for the Vikings. In Atlanta it’s a bit of a poser. But Minnesota remains the more balanced team. And I like balance. So I’m holding my breath and saying Vikings by a point.

New England (-8.5) at Buffalo
Forget the history stuff. Yes, the Patriots have fared rather well against the Bills over the last 17 seasons. And, yes, Tom Brady‘s success in Buffalo has been well documented. As has Bill Belichick‘s success pretty much everywhere against pretty much everyone. (Though it’s odd to me that I’ve seen scant mention of the fact that a Patriots win in this game — which will be the 400th game of Belichick’s head coaching career — would break a tie with George Halas to give Belichick the best winning percentage in NFL history, .683.) But just set that stuff aside. It doesn’t matter. Here’s what does matter: The 9-2 Patriots at this point in the 2017 NFL season are a significantly better team than the 6-5 Bills. That’s it. The Patriots are only going to lose one more game this season and it’s not going to be this one. (Patriots fans are screaming through their screens at me right now, “The Pats aren’t losing to the Steelers!” And I ask, “Who said anything about the Steelers?” The fact of the matter is that a week 15 win in Pittsburgh, if it’s ultimately a step along the way to extending New England’s current seven-game winning streak to 11, would result in the Patriots going into their week 17 visit from the Jets with home field locked up and no reason to leave starters in past halftime.) OK, back to the moment at hand: New England by 10.

Denver (-1) at Miami
The Broncos are probably slightly less bad than the Dolphins. By enough that I expect them to break a seven-game losing streak while playing a second consecutive road game? No. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe. Or, you know, maybe know. Dolphins fall ass-backward into a three-point home win.

Houston (+7) at Tennessee
Week four was just an awfully long time ago, wasn’t it? Not so long, I’m sure, that the Titans will have forgotten. Tennessee by 13.

Indianapolis (+9.5) at Jacksonville
The Jaguars no doubt are going to be eager to put things back the right way around after an disheartening loss last week in Arizona. And that leads one to anticipate that the Colts may find themselves longing for a return to the glory of week seven before this thing wraps up. Jacksonville by … oh, let’s just figure it’s at least 27 again this time.

Tampa Bay (+1) at Green Bay
The Packers’ loss in Pittsburgh Sunday night marked the first time we’ve seen Brett Hundley play good football against a tough opponent. That’s a hopeful sign for Green Bay in terms of keeping their hopes of mounting a postseason run alive. It’s not such a great sign for the Bucs, who might have had a shot here otherwise. Packers by four.

Kansas City (-3.5) at NY Jets
The good news for the Jets is that they are not (for a change) the most dysfunctional football team in New Jersey. The bad news is that this really shouldn’t qualify as good news on any meaningful level. The worse news is that the Jets are in no position to turn away from whatever good news they can get wherever they can get it. And the terrible news is that the Chiefs are coming to visit this weekend in desperate need of a win to stop their three-game skid and maintain what little is left of their lead in the AFC West. Kansas City regains the confidence of absolutely no one in coming out ahead by a field goal.

Carolina (+4) at New Orleans
The Saints aren’t the same team that demolished the Panthers in Charlotte back in week three. They’re better. Still, I don’t expect Carolina to make the same kinds of mistakes they made in that game, certainly not with the NFC South title on the line (the Panthers can’t win the division in this game, but they can almost certainly lose it). So I’m expecting a narrower victory by New Orleans this time. Saints by three.

Cleveland (+13.5) at LA Chargers
The Chargers’ margin of victory in this game may well average out to a point for every fan in the building. So that’ll be, like, what, maybe 20?

LA Rams (-7) at Arizona
It’s possible, I suppose, that the Rams are thinking ahead to next week’s meeting with the Eagles. That could work to Arizona’s benefit. I guess. If it happens. Otherwise, the Rams finish the season sweep by once again humiliating the Cardinals. Los Angeles by something in the double digits (so, yeah, more than seven).

NY Giants (+7) at Oakland
If the Giants don’t have to try, neither do I. Raiders by 14.

Philadelphia (-5.5) at Seattle
I can’t see the Eagles traveling to Seattle and winning by 20-plus for a fifth straight week. But I’m sure they’ll be just as happy to win by six.

Pittsburgh (-5.5) at Cincinnati
The Bengals have looked almost passable recently against horrible opposition. This week’s matchup features an actual NFL team. It’s only by virtue of playing on the road against a division rival that Pittsburgh comes out ahead by a mere seven points.

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Week Twelve Picks, Post Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2017 Comments off

I’m thankful for the fact that I didn’t have a completely awful day on Thursday. Picks-wise, I mean. Outside of football, it was actually a pretty awesome day. So, yeah, no complaints here.

I went 3-0 straight up and 2-1 against the spread on Thanksgiving. That’s a decent start to a week. Let’s see how many ways I can find to squander the head start.

Here’s what not to expect on Sunday and Monday.

Cleveland (+8) at Cincinnati
The Browns can’t get through an entire season without recording a single win, right? Probably not. But, uh, show me where that win is coming? Doesn’t seem like it’s going to be this week. Bengals by 13.

Chicago (+13.5) at Philadelphia
I don’t know if you’ve heard this somewhere already but the Bears are not a very good football team. Not very good at all. Eagles by at least 20.

Miami (+16.5) at New England
Division games often turn out to be closer than one would guess just from looking at the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two teams. So let’s go with New England, but maybe by as little as three touchdowns.

Buffalo (+10) at Kansas City
It doesn’t really feel like either of these teams is going anywhere right now. But the Chiefs at least are probably still trying. Kansas City by six.

Tampa Bay (+9.5) at Atlanta
The Falcons still look to me like a team that finishes 9-7 at best, more likely 8-8. This and the rematch in Tampa three weeks from now are the winnable games for Atlanta. Falcons by a field goal.

Carolina (-4.5) at NY Jets
The Panthers’ success thus far this season has seemed kind of fake to me. But the Jets’ failure has been pretty real. Carolina by three.

Tennessee (-3) at Indianapolis
When the Titans, now 6-4, get to 10-4 after week 15, there will be talk about whether they can do some actual damage in the postseason. Could they really beat Kansas City on wild card weekend? Then they’ll lose three straight and everyone will act like they always knew it was too good to be true. Tennessee by four.

Seattle (-6.5) at San Francisco
Not a whole lot to watch for here. Seahawks by 10.

New Orleans (+2.5) at LA Rams
It’s been several weeks since the Saints faced a real test. But the Rams surely haven’t taken on an opponent as strong as the Saints all season. I’m going with the home team. Rams by one.

Jacksonville (-5.5) at Arizona
Even offenses that can move the ball through the air effectively have a tough time doing it against the Jaguars D. And since sometimes passing OK is about the extent of Arizona’s half-dimensional offensive attack, I’m not expecting this game to go well for the Cardinals. In fact, given that nothing here remotely favors Arizona, I’m looking for Jacksonville to chase the home fans out of the building early. Jaguars by 17.

Denver (+5) at Oakland
The slightly less bad team is at home, so let’s look for them to even up the season series. Raiders by four.

Green Bay (+14) at Pittsburgh
The Brett Hundley-led Packers offense has averaged 13 points per game. Thirteen. That kind of production doesn’t earn you wins anywhere, let alone against the Steelers on the road. Pittsburgh by 23.

Houston (+7) at Baltimore
The up-and-down Ravens are due for a loss. But the awful Texans are always due for a loss. Baltimore by nine.

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Week Twelve, Thanksgiving Picks

November 23rd, 2017 Comments off

OK, I’ve got this whole giant meal to cook. So I’m definitely not getting to games today that aren’t being played until Sunday and Monday.

Let’s just look at the magnificent slate of games the NFL has in store for us this Thanksgiving. I know that I for one am extremely thankful for the opportunity to make an early night of it while the Giants and Racists slog through the first round of the battle for the NFC East basement. (I rather suspect the second round will not get the call as the final prime time game of the regular season.)

Oh, right, results to date. Week 11 for me was a shrug straight up, 9-5, an ugh against the spread, 6-7-1. For the season, that lands me at 105-55 (.656) straight up and 77-76-7 (.503) with the points.

Here’s what you shouldn’t expect to see while you’re eating your turkey and miss while you’re sleeping off the feast.

Minnesota (-3) at Detroit
I’m willing to assume that the Vikings will do a better job holding on to the ball this time around (because, well, they could hardly do worse). And I think that should be enough to produce a win that will effectively (though not numerically) seal the NFC East title for Minnesota. Vikings by a field goal.

LA Chargers (-2) at Dallas
Here are two of the NFL’s most consistently inconsistent teams. You may buy into the notion that the Chargers have a legit chance of making a run at the AFC West title or a wild card spot, but I don’t. I think there are typically reasons for a team to head into the stretch with a record of 4-6. I do, on the other hand, believe the Cowboys have a legit chance of sinking into complete irrelevance over the final six weeks of the season (really, it will have been the final eight, but we’re two games, and two Dallas losses, into that stretch already). You beat the Chargers with ball security and a strong running game. And I don’t see either of those things happening for the Cowboys. So I’m thinking Los Angeles by seven.

NY Giants (+7.5) at Washington
Move it along, folks. Nothing to see here. Racists by nine.

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Week Eleven Picks

November 16th, 2017 Comments off

I don’t have the time or energy to write another intro, so I’m just tacking the rest of my picks on to the one that I posted Thursday, and got half right.

Last week. I went 12-2 straight up (not awful), 6-7-1 against the spread (awful). For the season, that gets me to 96-50 (.658) straight up and 71-69-6 (.507) with the points.

Here’s what not to expect in week 11.

Tennessee (+7) at Pittsburgh
The Titans are good enough to beat the Steelers. In Nashville. In Pittsburgh, I’m not so sure. In Pittsburgh on a Thursday night? I just can’t see it. I don’t see either of these teams having much success moving the ball on the ground in this game. I think that’s a bigger problem for Tennessee than it is for Pittsburgh. And I think unless the Titans D can set their offense up with a couple of big takeaways (which isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility), Tennessee’s destined to come up just short. Steelers by four.

Detroit (-3) at Chicago
Seems like the Lions ought to be just good enough to come out ahead in this game. But when I say just, I mean maybe just just. Detroit wins, but by just a point.

Kansas City (-10.5) at NY Giants
There’s a very good chance the Chiefs won’t lose another game until January, which is when they’ll next play a good team. There’s virtually a 100 percent chance the Chiefs won’t lose until week 12, which is when they’ll next play something resembling an NFL team. Kansas City by 17.

Tampa Bay (+1) at Miami
The hurricane delay game gets played just in time for absolutely no one to care. Tampa by two.

Baltimore (-2) at Green Bay
One of these teams is probably going to win this game. I think maybe it’ll be the one that sometimes has a defense. Ravens by a point.

LA Rams (+2.5) at Minnesota
The winner of this game retains a shot at the NFC two seed, while the loser takes a step toward the four. If I were smart, I’d probably pick the home team. But I’m not smart, so I’m going with the better team. Rams by a field goal.

Arizona (+1) at Houston
Ugh. I’m taking way too many road teams. But Tom Savage is just so completely awful. Cardinals by a point.

Jacksonville (-7.5) at Cleveland
Someone please stop me from picking all the road teams. Please, please, please. No, I didn’t mean you, Browns. You’re bloody impossible. Jaguars by 13.

Washington (+7.5) at New Orleans
Thank you, Saints, for being both the better team and the home team. I needed one of these. New Orleans by 10.

Buffalo (+4) at LA Chargers
Well, it appears the Chargers will have their starting quarterback on the field. And that they’ll be trying. Los Angeles by six.

Cincinnati (+2.5) at Denver
I really have no idea which of these two teams is worse. So I’m taking the home team to earn the honor of picking later in the 2018 draft. Broncos by two.

New England (-7) vs. Oakland at Estadio Azteca, Mexico City
The worst pass defense in the NFL vs. the greatest quarterback of all time. There’s a lot more one could say about this game. But none of it favors Oakland. So I’m just not sure there’s anything more one needs to say. New England by two touchdowns.

Philadelphia (-4) at Dallas
This should pretty much do it for the NFC East. Eagles by a touchdown.

Atlanta (+3) at Seattle
The Seahawks aren’t better than the Falcons by much. But they’re better just the same. Seattle by three.

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Week Ten Picks

November 9th, 2017 Comments off

Well, I knew 13-0 wasn’t a repeatable result.

But, uh, 8-5? Ugh.

I did ever so slightly better against the spread in week nine than I did picking straight up. There, I ended up 8-4-1.

That brings me to 84-48 (.636) overall and 65-62-5 (.511) against the spread for the season. Not terrible, I suppose.

But here’s the thing. I think my picking record’s about to get worse. Maybe a lot worse. Because when I look down the list of week 10 games, I see more double-digit spreads than I’m ever going to be comfortable with, and entirely too many road teams giving points. Somewhere in there I’m going to get bit in the ass. And maybe I’m going to get bit in the ass in more ways than one. It’s all a bit too frightening to ponder, frankly.

Here’s what not to expect.

Seattle (-6) at Arizona
I should go with the Cardinals here. I really should. The Seahawks are a seriously flawed and painfully inconsistent team. They’re traveling to face a division opponent on short rest after a heartbreaking home loss. All of that points in a bad direction for Seattle. But I can’t. I just cannot bring myself to pick the Cardinals to win two straight — or to beat a team that isn’t outright awful. Just can’t. Seahawks by a field goal.

Minnesota (-1.5) at Washington
Can I skip this game? Would that be OK? No? OK, then, let’s say the Vikings defense wins it. By a point.

Green Bay (+5.5) at Chicago
What about this one? Can I skip this one? Please? I just can’t come up with a reason to pick either team. And I can come up with plenty of reasons to pick against both. So, yeah. Bears? By three?

Pittsburgh (-10) at Indianapolis
There’s no real question about which team is going to win this game. I defy you to come up with one reason to think the Colts have even the slightest chance. It’s just a matter of by how many points. In Pittsburgh, I’d take the Steelers and happily give 20. In Indy? Ah, hell, Pittsburgh still has to be good for a two-touchdown margin of victory, right? Sure. Let’s go with that.

LA Chargers (+3.5) at Jacksonville
Set the over/under on total Blake Bortles pass attempts in this Jaguars six-point win at 20.

NY Jets (-2.5) at Tampa Bay
Fitz‘s revenge? Eh, probably not. Jets by four.

Cincinnati (+4.5) at Tennessee
If the Titans are looking ahead to Pittsburgh, they may find a way to lose. If they’re focused on Cincinnati, they should win by at least a touchdown. I’m going with focused.

New Orleans (-3) at Buffalo
The Bills live and die by turnovers. And the Saints just don’t give the ball away much. New Orleans by five.

Cleveland (+12) at Detroit
There’s no denying the awfulness of the Browns. But I just don’t think enough of the Lions to go giving 12. Detroit by eight.

Houston (+12) at LA Rams
This one promises to get ugly in a hurry. Rams by 20.

Dallas (+3) at Atlanta
If the Cowboys had been able to field a complete team, I’d have liked them to come out ahead by five or so. But since it appears they won’t be, I’m thinking the Falcons win straight up and it’s a push with the points.

NY Giants (-2.5) at San Francisco
It’s really hard to get through an entire 16-game NFL schedule without somehow stumbling into at least one win. And this might be the only winnable game left on the 49ers’ schedule (unless the Rams end up locked into postseason seeding heading into their week 17 game). San Francisco by three.

New England (-7.5) at Denver
The thing that’s likely to keep the Broncos in this game is not some kind of Denver magic (as way too many fans in New England seem to believe), but the fact that the Patriots, even coming off their bye, are dealing with injury issues. But the Pats still come out on top. Because the Broncos are still a bad football team. New England by nine.

Miami (+9) at Carolina
The Dolphins are done. Panthers by 13.

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Week Nine Picks

November 2nd, 2017 Comments off

Even I can’t complain about these results.

I went 13-0 straight up in week eight. It wasn’t exactly the toughest slate of games to pick. But still. And even with the added challenge of picking against the spread, I finished 9-4. I can’t imagine ever doing any better than that.

For the season, I now stand at 76-43 (.639) straight up, 57-58-4 (.496) against the spread.

And all of that points squarely to a major correction in week nine. Which is to say here’s what really, really not to expect.

Buffalo (-3) at NY Jets
A week ago, I said I’d have to consider buying into the notion of Buffalo as a contender for a postseason berth if they beat Oakland handily. And then the Bills went and beat the grog out of the Raiders. So I guess I’m officially on board the bandwagon. Maybe not enough to pick the Bills playing on the road on short rest — if they were playing a good team. But they’re playing the Jets. I expect the Bills to come out +2 in turnovers and +10 in points scored.

Denver (+8) at Philadelphia
The Broncos can make all the cosmetic changes to their starting lineup they want, they’re not suddenly going to become a good football team. And when you’ve got a not good football team traveling for the third straight week and playing a very good football team, it isn’t terribly difficult to peg the result. Eagles by 17.

LA Rams (-3.5) at NY Giants
For all the Rams success so far this season, I still suspect they’re a year away from being a truly dangerous football team. But the Giants are only a danger to themselves at this point. Los Angeles by six.

Tampa Bay (+7) at New Orleans
The Saints defense isn’t terribly good (which is going to present rather a problem in January), but it does a fine job of shutting down bad offenses. New Orleans by 10.

Cincinnati (+4.5) at Jacksonville
No one will ever be able to say Andy Dalton fell off a cliff at age 30. He only turned 30 on Monday, and he’d already fallen off a cliff by that point. Maybe the Bengals defense will hold the Jaguars’ margin of victory down to something like seven. But probably not.

Atlanta (+1) at Carolina
I refuse to devote to this game the energy it would take to flip a coin. So I’ll go with the home team. Panthers by three.

Indianapolis (+7) at Houston
The Deshaun Watson injury unquestionably derailed an exciting debut season for a young talent. But it didn’t really change a whole lot about 2017 for the Texans. They weren’t really going anywhere with Watson; they can just as easily not go anywhere without him. And with or without him, they’re still a better team than the Luck-less Colts. But maybe not a full touchdown better. Houston by 4.

Baltimore (+5.5) at Tennessee
I’m not sure I understand the spread on this game. In fact, if these teams were playing in Baltimore, I wouldn’t hesitate to take the Ravens. I suspect the Titans find a way to win it at home, but I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t come down to the wire. Tennessee by a point.

Arizona (-2) at San Francisco
The 49ers probably have their quarterback of the future. But not of the moment. And still, they’re at home. And facing an opponent that’s worse than many realize. San Francisco by a field goal.

Washington (+7.5) at Seattle
I’m not sure the Seahawks’ four-game win streak has been all that impressive. And I don’t expect to be any more impressed when they extend it to five. Seattle by nine.

Kansas City (+2.5) at Dallas
When it looked like the the Cowboys were going to have to play without their dickhead running back, I had the Chiefs coming out on tip by a field goal. But now that’s changed (again), so I’m flipping it around. Dallas by three.

Oakland (-3) at Miami
It would be almost impossible for both teams to lose this game. I think. Raiders by one.

Detroit (-2.5) at Green Bay
I don’t know. Brett Hundley‘s probably gonna have some degree of success at some point, right? Packers by four.

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