Archive for December, 2020

NFL Week Sixteen Picks

December 26th, 2020 Comments off

OK, let’s just get this over with, shall we?

I went 10-6 straight up, 7-8-1 against the spread in week fifteen, which lands me at 133-73-1 (.643) and 99-228-6 (.457) respectively for the season.

None of that is particularly good. But I’m off to a 1-0 start both ways in week sixteen. So there’s a Christmas miracle for you.

Let’s see how I manage to mess it up. Here’s what not to expect.

Tampa Bay (-10) at Detroit
If you land as the five seen in the NFC this season, your prize is a wild card round game against the NFC East “champions.” If that’s not an incentive for the Bucs to take care of business this weekend, I’m not sure what would be. Tampa by nine.

San Francisco (+5.5) at Arizona
The Cardinals are still in the hunt. The Niners are not. There are good reasons for that. Arizona by a field goal.

Miami (-3) at Las Vegas
I’m not sure what’s gone wrong with the Raiders. Or what’s gone right with the Dolphins. But here we are. Miami by three.

Atlanta (+10.5) at Kansas City
The Chiefs just need to win one of their final two home games of the season to sew up home field in the AFC playoffs. I don’t think they’ll opt to wait a week. Kansas City by 17.

Cleveland (-9.5) at NY Jets
The Jets got their win for this season last week. Browns by seven.

Indianapolis (-2) at Pittsburgh
The Schedule was always going to catch up with the Steelers. And now it has. Colts by six.

Chicago (-7.5) at Jacksonville
I think we can just go ahead and say that the Jaguars are on the clock. Bears by nine.

NY Giants (+10.5) at Baltimore
The Giants (sort of) look like they’re playing for something. The Ravens actually art playing for something. Baltimore by 13.

Cincinnati (-7.5) at Houston
The Texans should at least be “good” enough to beat the Bengals at home. I think. Houston by four.

Denver (+3) at LA Chargers
Sometimes you have to play a game even if it doesn’t matter and no one cares. Chargers by six.

Carolina (+1) at Washington
There’s still a solid chance Brand X “wins” the NFC East title with a losing record. But I think we’re going to have to wait a week. Washington by three.

Philadelphia (-3) at Dallas
Uh, yeah, sure. Eagles by a point.

LA Rams (+1.5) at Seattle
With a win here, the Seahawks can clinch the NFC West and the conference three seed. They may need all 60 minutes to get it done, but they’ll get it done. Seattle by three.

Tennessee (+3) at Green Bay
Both teams need a win. Either can get a win. One is at home. Packers by a point.

Buffalo (-7) at New England
The battle is over, but I’m not sure the Patriots are done fighting it. They’ll make the postseason just a bit tougher for the division champs. New England by three.

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NFL Week Sixteen, Christmas Day

December 25th, 2020 Comments off

Minnesota (+7) at New Orleans

“You’ll want all day to-morrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge.

“If quite convenient, sir.”

“It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I’ll be bound?”

The clerk smiled faintly.

“And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”

The clerk observed that it was only once a year.

“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin.

Now, what was I saying?

Oh, right. Um, Saints by 10.

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NFL Week Fifteen Picks

December 19th, 2020 Comments off

This week is off to a typically unspectacular start thanks to my foolish belief that Raiders season wasn’t quite in the tank yet. Works out it is.

So for a second consecutive week, I’m 0-1 straight up and against the spread heading into the weekend.

Last week’s bad start gave way to an 8-8 finish, both straight up and with the points. (And what’s weird is that there were no splits. I either got a game right or got it wrong both ways.) That put me at 133-73-1 (.645) and 92-110-5 (.457) respectively through week fourteen.

Let’s see how much worse things can get. Here’s what not to expect over the next three days.

Buffalo (-6) at Denver
Buffalo will wrap up their first AFC East title in 25 years with a win here. The Bills are going to take the division even if they figure out a way to lose this one. But there’s very little risk of that. Bills by a touchdown.

Carolina (+8.5) at Green Bay
I feel like the Panthers could have a shot at an upset here if they could just, you know, become a football team sometime before kickoff. That would be a surprise development. But you never know. Packers by 17.

Tampa Bay (-6) at Atlanta
The Buccaneers look like a team that’s likely to hit a brick wall pretty early in the postseason. Until then, it should be fairly clear sailing. Tampa by four.

San Francisco (-3) at Dallas
Does it matter? I guess the Niners might have a defense, at least comparatively speaking. I’m not convinced they have an offense, though, which can present problems. Still, let’s say San Fran. By a point.

Detroit (+10.5) at Tennessee
Something tells me the Lions’ complete lack of a run defense is likely to be a factor here. Titans by 20.

Houston (+7.5) at Indianapolis
The Texans are toast. Colts by 13.

New England (+2) at Miami
The Patriots have a tendency to struggle in Miami even in the best of seasons. This is not the best of seasons. Dolphins by a field goal.

Chicago (+3) at Minnesota
Both of these teams are done. The visitors are just a little bit doner. Vikings by four.

Seattle (-5.5) at Washington
The Seahawks are the better team. But they’re not nearly consistent enough to be giving more than a field goal on the road. Seattle by three.

Jacksonville (+13) at Baltimore
This is gonna be ugly. Ravens take their foot off the gas in the second half and still come out ahead by 14.

NY Jets (+17.5) at LA Rams
This is gonna be uglier. Rams don’t take their foot off the gas. They win by 28.

Philadelphia (+6.5) at Arizona
The Cardinals are a hard team to figure. The Eagles are just bad. Arizona by six.

Kansas City (-3) at New Orleans
I don’t know which of these teams wins on a neutral field (say the one in Tampa). On a not neutral field, I’m taking whichever team is at home. Saints by a point.

Cleveland (-5) at NY Giants
The Giants are getting better as the season wears on. But I don’t think they’ve quite caught up with the Browns. Cleveland by three.

Pittsburgh (-12.5) at Cincinnati
The fire vs. wood matchup in my solstice bonfire likely will prove more competitive than this game. Steelers by 14.

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NFL Week Fifteen Thursday Night

December 17th, 2020 Comments off

LA Chargers (+3.5) at Las Vegas
The Raiders have developed a real talent for losing football games over the past four weeks. They’re gonna miss the postseason as a result. But even they shouldn’t be able to find a way to win a home game against a very weak opponent playing on short rest. Right? Las Vegas by six.

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NFL Week Fourteen Picks

December 13th, 2020 Comments off

If I’d listened to the halfway reasonable part of my brain, I’d have started this week 1-0 straight up, 0-1 against the spread. But I didn’t. So I’m off to a 0-1 week across the board as a result of the Rams dismantling of the Patriots on Thursday night.

It’ll be fun to see just how much more damage this weekend can do. Though in all honesty neither my week thirteen results — 11-4 straight up, 8-7 with the points — nor my season so far — 125-65-1 (.657); 84-102-5 (.453) — are anything anyone could get excited about.

Still and all, here’s what not to expect between now and whenever the week fourteen action wraps up.

Houston (-1.5) at Chicago
Neither of these teams does much of anything right. And the matchup helpfully pits weakness against weakness. I’m just taking the home team and having done with it. Bears by a point.

Dallas (-3) at Cincinnati
Can the Bengals actually be this bad? Cowboys by four.

Kansas City (-7) at Miami
If the Dolphins are for real, they’ll win this game. Chiefs by six.

Arizona (-3) at NY Giants
The Giants actually appear to be putting something together. I don’t think it’s enough to carry them deep into January, but it should continue to serve them well enough in a mid-December home game. New Jersey by a field goal.

Minnesota (+7) at Tampa Bay
You can’t really run the ball against the Tampa Bay defense. And that strikes me as problematic for Minnesota. Buccaneers by 10.

Denver (+3.5) at Carolina
The Panthers are making slow but steady progress in the right direction. The Broncos have no direction. Carolina by a touchdown.

Tennessee (-7.5) at Jacksonville
I feel neither a desire nor any real need to think about this game. Titans by 14.

Indianapolis (-3) at Las Vegas
The 2020 Raiders have played their best football against the toughest competition. And if they can move the ball on the ground in this game, they should be able to continue that trend. I’m not sure they can pull it off against a strong Colts D, but I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the home team. Vegas by three.

NY Jets (+15) at Seattle
The Seahawks have struggled of late. And still it’s hard to understand why the Jets bothered to leave New Jersey this week. Seattle by 21.

Green Bay (-8.5) at Detroit
Sooner or later, the Lions always go back to being the Lions. Packers by seven.

New Orleans (-7.5) at Philadelphia
I’m not sure it matters who starts at quarterback. For either team. Saints by nine.

Atlanta (pick ’em) at LA Chargers
I’m not convinced there’s a meaningful difference between these teams. But the matchups look to favor the home team if only ever so slightly. Chargers by a point.

Washington (+3) at San Francisco
Do I pick the crap team in a divisional race or the crap team playing out the string? I think I’ll just take the crap home team and call it a day. Niners by four.

Pittsburgh (+2) at Buffalo
Both offenses are overrated. The Steelers defense may be for real. Pittsburgh by three.

Baltimore (-3) at Cleveland
The Ravens are cooked if they can’t come up with a win here. The Ravens are cooked. Browns by three.

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NFL Week Fourteen, Thursday Night Pick

December 10th, 2020 Comments off

New England (+4.5) at LA Rams
I honestly have no idea what to make of the 2020 Patriots. Every time I think I know what kind of team they are, they find a new way to prove me wrong. I do know that playing a second straight road game is always tough. And so is playing twice in five days. Plus, you know, the Rams are a pretty good team that’s trying to wrap up a division title. I think if I were smart, I’d probably take the Rams straight up, even if I liked the Patriots to keep it close. But, whatevs, I’m stupid. New England by a field goal.

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NFL Week Thirteen Picks

December 6th, 2020 Comments off

The good news for me (I think … I guess) is that I probably can’t do any worse picking against the spread in week thirteen than I did in week twelve.

When the Covid Bowl featuring Ravens-Steelers finally wrapped up at 3 a.m. on Friday (or, you know, something like that), I was a respectable 11-4 picking straight up for the week, and an absolutely dreadful 3-12 with the points.

For the season, that puts me at 114-61-1 (.651) picking them straight, 76-95-5 against the spread.

Let’s see what horrors await in week thirteen. Here’s what not to expect.

New Orleans (-3) at Atlanta
The Saints didn’t have much trouble with the Falcons in New Orleans two weeks ago. And I don’t know what’s changed other than location. So let’s figure the home team finds a way to keep it semi-respectable and say Saints by four.

Detroit (+3) at Chicago
Sometimes it turns out that an organization really did just need a new coach. And sometimes it turns out that an organization needs a new organization. Bears by a touchdown.

Cleveland (+5) at Tennessee
The Browns have made a case for being taken seriously. The Titans have given no one any choice but to take them seriously. It may be a fine distinction, but it’s a distinction all the same. Tennessee by a field goal.

Cincinnati (+10.5) at Miami
The Dolphins are trying to catch the Bills. The Bengals are cruising toward a top five pick in the 2021 draft. Miami by two touchdowns.

Jacksonville (+10) at Minnesota
The Vikings are going nowhere. The Jaguars are going in reverse. Minnesota by 13.

Las Vegas (-7.5) at NY Jets
Sometimes it seems like the Raiders just don’t care whether they win or lose. And sometimes (this time) they face an opponent so bad they don’t need to care. Las Vegas by 10.

Indianapolis (-3) at Houston
Division game. In Houston. Yeah, the Texans should probably be able to keep this one one close-ish. (It’ll be a different story in Indy two weeks from now.) Colts win it straight up; it’s a push with the points.

LA Rams (-3) at Arizona
With their chances at a wild card berth diminishing with each loss, and a division rival in town, I expect the hot-and-cold Cardinals to run hot the week. Arizona by a field goal.

NY Giants (+11) at Seattle
It’s possible to cast this game as a matchup between division leading teams. Because the Giants play in the worst division ever. The Seahawks’ lack of a defense shouldn’t prove too much of an obstacle to victory this week. Seattle by 14.

Philadelphia (+8.5) at Green Bay
Except that they’re still in the running for the NFC East title (at 3-7-1), there’s very little reason for the Eagles even to board the plane. Packers by 17.

New England (+1.5) at LA Chargers
The Patriots at least seem to be trying to rise above their mediocrity. The Chargers appear to have settled in to theirs. New England controls the game on the ground and comes out ahead by a point.

Denver (+13.5) at Kansas City
So the thinking here is what? That the Broncos, having lost to the Chiefs by 27 points in their own building just a few short weeks back, will find a way to cut that margin in half in Kansas City? Nope. Just don’t see it. Chiefs by 27 again.

Washington (-7.5) at Pittsburgh
The Steelers will be playing on five days rest, and with an ailing quarterback. Lucky for them they don’t have to face an actual professional football team. Pittsburgh by seven.

Buffalo (+1) at San Francisco
The Bills should be able to win this game, which probably means they’ll lose it. But I’m still picking Buffalo by a field goal.

Dallas (+7.5) at Baltimore
The Ravens are fading. The Cowboys have faded. Baltimore by 10.

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