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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NFL Week Twelve Picks

November 26th, 2020 Comments off

Hey, look, it’s only Thursday and I’ve made all my picks.

Numbers first. I finished week 11 with a record of 8-6 picking straight up, 9-5 against the spread. For the season, that puts me at 103-57-1 (.643) straight up 73-83-5 (.469).

Here’s what not to expect in week twelve.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Houston (-3) at Detroit
I can’t begin to figure the identity of either of these teams. Thing is, neither can they. I’m going to guess that short-term trends turn out to be slightly more of a factor than short-week travel. Texans by two.

Washington (+3) at Dallas
I plan to nap off and on through this game. I’ll wake up just in time to the final turnover (of what I imagine will be a combined five or six) that seals the home team’s four-point win.

Las Vegas (-3) at Atlanta
These teams really aren’t all that different. Except that more often than not the Raiders find ways to win whereas the Falcons find ways to lose. Las Vegas by a touchdown.

LA Chargers (+5.5) at Buffalo
The Chargers are better than most think. The Bills aren’t as good as most want to believe. The home team should still win, but I expect the visitors to give them a pretty good scare. Buffalo by a (last-second) field goal.

NY Giants (-6) at Cincinnati
The Bengals now have absolutely nothing going for them. The Giants, at 3-7, are in position to take the NFC East title. Somehow. New Jersey by seven.

Tennessee (+3) at Indianapolis
Having lost to the Colts in their own building two weeks ago, the Titans absolutely need a win here to stay alive in the AFC South race. Which is unfortunate for Tennessee, because the Titans are losing this game. Colts by four.

Carolina (+3.5) at Minnesota
The Vikings should be able to control the game on the ground, set the tempo, and find a way to win. Not that any of it matters. Minnesota by three.

Arizona (-2.5) at New England
The Patriots are good enough to win some game, but not good enough to win enough of them. That may also be true of the Cardinals, but only because the NFC West is a tough division. Arizona takes this game by six.

Miami (-7) at NY Jets
Let’s figure a starting quarterback with a thumb injury is a problem and look for the Dolphins to win this one by only six.

Cleveland (-7) at Jacksonville
Just seven? Seriously? Because? Browns by 17.

Baltimore (+4.5) at Pittsburgh
The Ravens had started to circle the bowl even before Covid hit their locker room. I’m gonna guess an extra three days doesn’t change a whole lot about either team or this matchup. Assuming the game is actually played, look for the Steelers to complete the season sweep and move one step closer to locking up the NFC North. Pittsburgh by six.

New Orleans (-6) at Denver
The Saints get yet another game in which whom they line up behind center doesn’t much matter. New Orleans by four.

San Francisco (+6.5) at LA Rams
This should just about do it for the Niners. Rams by four.

Kansas City (-3.5) at Tampa Bay
You’ll hear mostly about quarterback play, and for good reason, but this game really comes down to which is the more complete team. Hint: It’s Kansas City. Chiefs by nine.

Chicago (+8.5) at Green Bay
The Bears aren’t simply going to hand the Packers the NFC North. Thing is, though, the Bears ultimately don’t have the firepower to keep up. Green Bay by seven.

Seattle (-5) at Philadelphia
Yeah, these teams are both division leaders. But only one of them plays in a real division. Seahawks by six.

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NFL Week Eleven Picks

November 22nd, 2020 Comments off

I suppose I could have done worse in week 10. Well, I could have picking straight up, anyhow. Against the spread? I’d have fared better throwing darts.

I was 10-4 straight up, 4-9-1 with the points. Ugh.

That puts me at 95-51-1 (.650) straight up, 64-78-5 (.452) against the spread.

So far this week, I’m 1-0, 0-1 respectively.

Here’s what not to expect through the remainder of the week.

Philadelphia (+2.5) at Cleveland
In a lot of ways, the Browns are as solidly mediocre a football team as the Eagles. Cleveland has a much better win-loss record than Philadelphia largely because the Browns offense is able to control the ground game and, more important, hold on to the ball. That’s the difference this season, and the difference in t his game. Cleveland by a touchdown.

Atlanta (+3.5) at New Orleans
Yes, it does seem like the Falcons are bad enough that they should be getting more than the standard three from a division rival that just lost its starting quarterback. Also, the Saints have a strong D. New Orleans by six.

Cincinnati (+1.5) at Washington
If one of these teams can move the ball on the ground, they’ll get the win. I’m not sure either can. So I’m taking the home team and thinking the margin’s a field goal.

Detroit (-2) at Carolina
Neither of these teams can be counted on to win. But one of them has to lose. And the home team does a better job of hanging on to the ball. So let’s go with them. Carolina by a point.

Tennessee (+6) at Baltimore
I’m not sure the Ravens should be giving six to anybody at this point. Baltimore by three.

Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Jacksonville
Under most circumstances, a road team giving more than two scores should give one pause. But not under these circumstances. The Jaguars are terrible. Steelers by 14.

New England (-2.5) at Houston
The league’s second most productive rushing offense takes on its worst run D. I’m not sure there’s much more that needs saying. New England by 10.

Miami (-3.5) at Denver
Here are two teams moving in opposite directions. Miami by seven.

NY Jets (+9.5) at LA Chargers
The Jets continue their aggressive run at 0-16. Chargers by 13.

Green Bay (+1.5) at Indianapolis
Neither of these teams lacks for offense. The home team also has a D. And balance wins in the NFL. Colts by four.

Dallas (+7) at Minnesota
This looked like a pretty good matchup back in the … well, you know, the mid-’70s. Neither of these team is good. One of them is terrible. Vikings by 10.

Kansas City (-7.5) at Las Vegas
The Chiefs only loss of the season came at the hands of the Raiders. In Kansas City. Maybe the Chiefs avenge that loss here. But if Kansas City wins, it won’t be by more than a touchdown in a road game against a strong division rival. And maybe it won’t be at all. Raiders by a point.

LA Rams (+4) at Tampa Bay
This is probably the best game of the week with strength matching up with strength in virtually every aspect of the game. Which makes it almost impossible to predict. So I’ll just go home team by three and look forward to seeing how it plays out.

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NFL Week Eleven, Thursday Night

November 19th, 2020 Comments off

Let’s just get right to what almost certainly won’t happen, shall we?

Arizona (+3) at Seattle
YepThe Seahawks have stumbled of late. They can’t afford to continue that trend here. A second loss to the Cardinals would land them two games back in the division race with only six games left in the season. That’s not a position they can afford to be in. Is knowing that enough? Not hardly. But hosting on Thursday night is a nice advantage. And I expect Seattle to make it pay. Seahawks by a point.

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NFL Week Ten Picks

November 15th, 2020 Comments off

Well, this week’s off to a smashing start. Thanks to my gross overestimation of the Titans, I’m headed into Sunday’s game at an 0-1 deficit both straight up and against the spread. That’s fun.

Week nine was no great shakes for me either. I finished 9-5 straight up, 8-6 with the points to land at season records of 76-47-1 (.643) and 60-69-4 (.466) respectively.

Not sure there’s much more to be said at this point, except here’s what not to expect today and tomorrow.

Houston (+4) at Cleveland
I don’t know that the Browns are quite there yet, but they’re at least solidly average (and probably a bit better than that). The Texans are clearly awful. Cleveland by seven.

Washington (+3) at Detroit
What happens when you don’t have a defense and your opponent suddenly develops an offense? That’s right, you lose. Brand X by a field goal.

Jacksonville (+13.5) at Green Bay
Try not to look too closely at this one. Packers by 17.

Philadelphia (-4) at NY Giants
We’re halfway through the season and a win here would land the 2-7 Giants just behind the 3-4-1 Eagles for the NFC East title. So, yeah, it’s one of those. If New Jersey can keep it close enough to lean on their ground game, they can win this. And they kept it close in Philly a few weeks back. So I’m thinking Giants by three.

Tampa Bay (-6.5) at Carolina
The Bucs need to get right. The Panthers won’t make it as easy as some might expect, but the visitors should still manage a win. Tampa by four.

Denver (+3.5) at Las Vegas
I’m not entirely convinced that the Raiders have developed a defense. But that shouldn’t present too much of a problem this week since the Broncos don’t have an offense. Las Vegas by six.

LA Chargers (+1.5) at Miami
There’s a possibility that the Dolphins are turning into an actual football team. If they could only figure out how to stop the run they might be semi-dangerous. Miami by a point.

Buffalo (+2.5) at Arizona
When these teams are good, they’re very good. I think the Cards are bit more consistent. Arizona by a field goal.

Seattle (+2.5) at LA Rams
The Seahawks more than likely are the better team here. But not by all that much. And they’re playing a second straight road game. Rams by four.

San Francisco (+9.5) at New Orleans
There’s no mystery here. The Niners are in no condition to keep up with the Saints. New Orleans by 14.

Cincinnati (+7.5) at Pittsburgh
The Steelers have their quarterback. That’s about what you need to know. Pittsburgh by 10.

Baltimore (-7) at New England
The Ravens are a challenge for the Patriots when the Patriots are good. And the Patriots aren’t good. Baltimore by 13.

Minnesota (-3) at Chicago
This game almost looks like it matters even though it doesn’t. Bears by six.

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NFL Week Ten, Thursday Night

November 12th, 2020 Comments off

Well, would you look at this. An actual football game between actual football teams on a Thursday night. I wonder who in the scheduling office screwed up?

Indianapolis (-1) at Tennessee
I’m not sure I understand the line on this. Nothing against the Colts, who have been playing pretty solid ball. It’s just that the Titans are a bit better, the Titans are at home, and the Colts are traveling on short rest. To me, even though I expect a tight match, that says home team by three.

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NFL Week Nine Picks

November 8th, 2020 Comments off

Yep, week eight was a complete disaster for me.

And, you know, it kind of was a disaster for everyone, including most of the teams that went in as favorites. So there’s that, which makes me feel not at all better about the fact that I finished 7-7 straight up, 5-9 against the spread.

For the season, through week eight, I’m 76-42-1 (.643) picking them straight, 52-63-4 (.454) with the points. I’m not happy about any of it. And my 1-0 start to this week hasn’t helped much.

Let’s have a look at what not to expect on Sunday and Monday, shall we?

Denver (+4) at Atlanta
The home team is probably less bad. And even if it’s close, the way you beat the Falcons if you happen to be one of the few teams that’s not just straight out better than they are is by passing effectively and not turning the ball over. These are things the Broncos can’t do. Atlanta by six.

Seattle (-3) at Buffalo
The Bills are the second least impressive division leading team in the league (though it’s a distant second, obviously, given the disaster that is the NFC East). The Seahawks are among the best teams in the league. And Seattle’s now in the business of collecting wins to ensure home field through the postseason. The outcome of this game should be clear by the middle of the second quarter. Seahawks by 14.

Chicago (+6.5) at Tennessee
A second-tier team playing at home ought to be able to beat a third-tier team playing on the road. Right? Titans by seven.

Baltimore (-1) at Indianapolis
This is one of those matches that probably comes down to where the game’s played. It’s being played in Indy. Colts by a field goal.

Carolina (+10) at Kansas City
Are the oddsmakers just, like, worried about hurting the Panthers’ feelings or something? Chiefs by 21.

Detroit (+4) at Minnesota
The Vikings dressed up as an actual NFL team for Halloween. It should be interesting to see if they can carry the illusion through a second straight game. Minnesota by three.

NY Giants (+2.5) at Washington
I challenge the assertion that is a professional football game. Brand X by a point.

Houston (-7) at Jacksonville
Even the Texans shouldn’t be able to find a way to lose this game. Houston by four.

Las Vegas (pick ’em) at LA Chargers
The Raiders are supposed to be the better team here. I’m not convinced they are. Or at the very least, I don’t think they’re better by much. And the Chargers are at home. Los Angeles by a point.

Pittsburgh (-14.5) at Dallas
This should be ugly. Steelers coast through the second half (because why not?) and only come out ahead by 20.

Miami (+5.5) at Arizona
The Bills are underperforming substantially enough that the Dolphins should be in contention in the AFC East. And yet … . Cardinals by a touchdown.

New Orleans (+4.5) at Tampa Bay
That Tom Brady’s just lucky he plays in the weak NFC South where none of the other teams have any real talent. Buccaneers by three.

New England (-9.5) at NY Jets
With apologies to the home crowd (which is to say my home crowd) these Patriots aren’t good enough to be giving two scores to anyone. New England by seven.

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NFL Week Nine Thursday Night

November 5th, 2020 Comments off

Ugh.

Green Bay (-6.5) at San Francisco
There are actually some interesting games on tap for this weekend. Neither of the bookends — this and Patriots-Jets on Monday night — are among them. This one might have been OK if the Niners hadn’t been so completely devastated by injuries and Covid. But so it goes. Packers by nine.

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NFL Week Eight Picks

November 1st, 2020 Comments off

My rollercoaster ride through this ridiculous NFL season continues.

I went 11-3 picking straight up and 10-3-1 against the spread in week seven, which gets me to 69-35-1 (.662) straight up, 47-54-4 (.467) with the points.

And I’m off to an 0-1 start straight up and against the spread in week eight.

Whatever.

Here’s what not to expect today and tomorrow.

New England (+4.5) at Buffalo
Between Covid-19 opt-outs and injuries, I’m not sure the Patriots have the capacity to field a team right now. Buffalo effectively wraps up the AFC East, winning by a touchdown.

Tennessee (-7) at Cincinnati
The Bengals are starting to put it together on offense. Starting. And they’re not even that far along on D. Titans by 10.

Las Vegas (+2) at Cleveland
The Browns’ lack of a defense is going to hurt them. Sooner or later. But not when they’re hosting another team without a D. Cleveland by a field goal.

Indianapolis (-3) at Detroit
I’m not sure you should expect a lot of offense in this game. Colts by a point.

Minnesota (+6) at Green Bay
The Packers look great against weak opposition. Green Bay by 14.

NY Jets (+20) at Kansas City
Is there any reason for the Jets even to make the trip? Chiefs by 24.

LA Rams (-3.5) at Miami
When do we start talking about how easy the Bills have it in the AFC Least? Miami is already looking ahead to 2021. Los Angeles benefits with a six-point win.

Pittsburgh (+4) at Baltimore
A divisional matchup between two of the league’s most balanced teams with first place in the AFC North on the line. This should be a hell of a football game. Ravens by three.

LA Chargers (-3.5) at Denver
If the Broncos had an offense, they’d probably win this game. Chargers by a field goal.

New Orleans (-4.5) at Chicago
If the Bears had an offense, they’d surely win this game. Saints by four.

San Francisco (+3) at Seattle
The 49ers discover what an excellent football team looks like. Seattle by 10.

Dallas (+11) at Philadelphia
The NFC East is a disaster. Eagles by nine.

Tampa Bay (-12.5) at NY Giants
See previous. Bucs by 20.

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