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Archive for October, 2019

Week Six Picks

October 10th, 2019 No comments

Now, that’s more like it.

I got my ass kicked in week five. It wasn’t so bad picking straight up. I finished the week 9-6, which no one could argue is a successful outcome, regardless of whether it’s on the right side of .500. Against the spread? Brutal. 5-10. That’s just embarrassing.

That awful week picking with the points gets me below .500 for the season, too. I currently stand at 37-40-1 (.481). I’m still OK straight up, 51-26-1 (.660), but I’m sure I’ll find my way into the tank with the “easy” picks soon enough.

Here’s what not to expect in week six

NY Giants (+17) at New England
If the Giants were bringing their offense with them to this game, it would probably be meaningful to cite the bit three predictive stats. And that would go like this: passer rating differential, Patriots +38.7; scoring differential, Patriots +14.9; takeaway/giveaway differential, Patriots +12. Then it might make sense to point out that the critically outmatched Giants are traveling on short rest. And then it would only follow to observe that all indicators point to a blowout. But the thing is, New Jersey isn’t bringing an offense into this game. That seems sort of problematic all by itself, doesn’t it? Patriots by three touchdowns (maybe they make the extra points; maybe they don’t).

Carolina (-2.5) vs. Tampa Bay at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
The Panthers have been benefiting lately from much better quarterback play than they had when these teams met in Charlotte four weeks ago. Is that enough? Maybe just. Carolina by a point.

Cincinnati (+11.5) at Baltimore
The best you can say about the Ravens is that they’re uneven. But the best you can say about the Bengals is that their season will be officially over after just another 11 weeks. Baltimore by 13.

Seattle (-1.5) at Cleveland
Picking against the spread gets a lot easier when you have a favorite that’s consistently underestimated and an underdog that’s consistently overestimated. Seahawks by seven.

Houston (+4.5) at Kansas City
YepThese teams are virtually identical on paper. Or close enough to merit a look at the predictive stats, anyhow. Passer rating differential, Chiefs +6.9; scoring differential, Chiefs +1.4; takeaway/giveaway differential, even. That sure appears to point to a victory by the home team, though the uncertain condition of Patrick Mahomes’ ankle throws a bit of a wrench into the works. Let’s go with Kansas City by three.

New Orleans (+1) at Jacksonville
The Jaguars are pretty tough when the competition isn’t. Saints by six.

Philadelphia (+3) at Minnesota
If you can limit Dalvin Cook, you can beat the Vikings. I think the Eagles can limit Cook. Philadelphia by a field goal.

Washington (-3.5) at Miami
If the Crimson Tide are trying to persuade Tua Tagovailoa to stick around for his senior year, they should make him watch this game. Washington by virtue of some kind of accidental touchdown.

San Francisco (+3) at LA Rams
Someone needs to tell the Rams that you don’t get an automatic bid to return to the Super Bowl just because you think you should have won the last one. Or don’t. I don’t really care. Anyhow, it might already be too late. Niners by a touchdown.

Atlanta (-2.5) at Arizona
Everyone knows that neither of these teams has a defense. I’m also not convinced either has an offense. Maybe the Cardinals are developing one. But I don’t know. I’d like to see them beat a tough opponent before I get too excite. That’s not happening this week no matter what. And frankly, I don’t think they’re quite ready to beat the Falcons anyhow. Atlanta by a point.

Dallas (-7) at NY Jets
I keep trying to tell you the Cowboys aren’t all that good, and you keep refusing to listen. But “not all that good” only goes so far. And it stops quite a ways before you get to “might lose to the Jets.” Dallas by 10.

Tennessee (+2) at Denver
I want to put my faith in the Tennessee defense. But I can’t. Not in Denver. Not right now. Broncos by three.

Pittsburgh (+7) at LA Chargers
I don’t know where seven comes from. I mean, yeah, the Chargers are winning this game. (Do the Steelers even have a quarterback right now?) But I don’t know how you look at this Los Angeles team and conclude they should be giving a touchdown to anyone. Except maybe Miami. And they already played that game. Chargers by four.

Detroit (+4) at Green Bay
There isn’t nearly so much separating these teams as one might be tempted to imagine. But there’s at least enough to make home field matter. Packers by three.

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Week Five Picks

October 6th, 2019 No comments

I sort of saw week four coming. That is, I knew I was scheduled to take a beating with my picks. I didn’t know it was going to happen by way of an early upset week. But that’s what we got.

It’s hard to perform well picking straight up in any week when more than half of the games are won outright by the underdogs. It’s harder still when seven of those dogs are playing on the road.

So I’ll take my 8-7 finish straight up and against the spread in that context. And hope for better moving forward.

Overall, if you don’t count the Thursday night game (which I got straight up and missed with the points thanks to an unsuccessful two-point try), I currently stand at 42-20-1 (.674) on my straight picks and 32-30-1 (.516) picking against the spread.

Let’s see how much worse I can get. Here’s what not to expect in week five.

Baltimore (-3.5) at Pittsburgh
I’m not sure anyone knows at this point where either of these teams is headed. For the moment, they look like a couple of fairly typical second- or third-tier teams. If I thought the Steelers could stop the Ravens’ ground game, I’d be sorely tempted to take Pittsburgh straight up. But I don’t. So I’m expecting the road team to win and the home team to make it a game. Ravens by a point

Chicago (-5.5) vs. Oakland at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
Blah, blah, blah, Khalil Mack … . I mean, look, all that stuff everyone else has said or written about Mack making his former team look silly in this game probably turns out to be accurate. But that’s the case regardless of whether I repeat it. Chicago by 13.

Arizona (+3) at Cincinnati
One of these teams is going to turn out to be worse than the other. Probably. I think it works out to be the Bengals. Arizona by four.

Jacksonville (+3.5) at Carolina
My gut says the Jaguars win this game. My head counters with, “How?” And my gut shrugs and say, “Rush offense?” Gut may be right, but head controls the writing. So … Carolina by a field goal.

Minnesota (+5) at NY Giants
I’m not sure this game is so uneven that the home team should be getting five points. I think Minnesota comes out on top, but I think they do it with D while their offense continues to sputter. Vikings by three.

New England (-15.5) at Washington
I’m pretty sure no one needs me to do this, but I’m gonna do it just the same: Passer rating differential, Patriots +41.7; scoring differential, Patriots +18.4; takeaway/giveaway differential, Patriots +9. Another view of the same variables: The Racists have allowed more points per game on average (29.5), and more actual points in three out of four games, than the Patriots have given up so far this season (27). The only way this game is competitive is if New England falls asleep. Patriots by 24.

NY Jets (+14.5) at Philadelphia
The Jets are a disaster. But the Eagles haven’t shown themselves to be a team you pick to blow out opponents. Philly by nine.

Tampa Bay (+3) at New Orleans
You know what? I think right now, just for this brief moment in time, the Bucs might be a better team than the Saints. Tampa pulls out another impressive road win. This time the margin is a single point.

Atlanta (+4.5) at Houston
The Texans are a tick above average. The Falcons are at least a tick, maybe two, below. Houston by a touchdown.

Buffalo (+3) at Tennessee
I hope you like defense. Titans 10-6

Denver (+6.5) at LA Chargers
The Chargers have yet this season to beat a good team. That trend continues. Los Angeles by 10.

Green Bay (+3.5) at Dallas
My generally unfavorable opinion of the Cowboys hasn’t shifted any. But, man, you’re not beating Dallas if you can’t stop the run. Cowboys by six.

Indianapolis (+11) at Kansas City
The Colts have neither a defense that can keep the Chiefs out of the end zone nor an offense that can take advantage of the Chiefs’ D. Kansas City by 14.

Cleveland (+4) at San Francisco
Following a brief pause, the Browns go back to being the Browns. As long as they can hold on to the ball, the well rested 49ers should beat a Browns team that’s traveling for a second straight week by at least six.

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Week Five Thursday Night Pick

October 3rd, 2019 No comments

Well, it’s happened again. Or, you know, for the first time this year.

Thursday evening has arrived and I’ve failed to work through all of this week’s games.

So here’s what almost certainly won’t happen tonight. I’ll get to the rest sometime before Sunday.

LA Rams (+1.5) at Seattle
I don’t trust either of these teams. Either or both of them may be championship material. And either or both could be one or two bounces away from a sub-.500 season. As far as I know right now, though, this is a fairly even match. And it’s a short week. So I’ll go with the home team. Seahawks by a field goal.

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