NFL 2021 Week Twelve Picks, Post-Thanksgiving

November 28th, 2021 Comments off

Pittsburgh (+3.5) at Cincinnati
You can’t lose division games in the tight AFC North and expect to find a way into the postseason. And the Steelers definitely can’t hope to survive a season sweep by the Bengals. But that’s where this thing appears to be headed. Pittsburgh is going to need to force Joe Burrow to beat them through the air if they’re to have any chance. But they did that when they hosted the Bengals back in week three and they still managed to lose. So you never know, except sometimes you know. Bengals by six.

Tampa Bay (-3) at Indianapolis
Tom Brady has won more games in Indianapolis than Carson Wentz. That doesn’t actually mean anything, but it’s kinda fun. What does mean something is the question of whether the Buccaneers can play run defense against an opponent with an actual run offense. That’s what makes the difference here. But I don’t know the answer, so I think I’ll hedge and take the Bucs by a point.

Carolina (-2.5) at Miami
The Panthers aren’t anything more than an average team that knows how to take advantage of weak opponents. But that should be plenty to get them through this game. Carolina by four.

Tennessee (+7) at New England
Foxborough has not been great to Ryan Tannehill. Yeah, Tannehill and the Titans got the job done the last time they traveled to New England, eliminating the Patriots in the first round of the 2019 postseason, but not a lot was asked of the Tennessee quarterback that day. He completed 8 of 15 passes for 72 yards with a touchdown and a pick, while Derrick Henry (182 yards rushing, 22 receiving, two TDs) and the Titans D carried the day against the undermanned Patriots. And that was Tannehill’s only career victory in Foxborough. Including that game, he’s 1-6 all time in road games against the Patriots with a stat line of 150 for 248 (60.5%) for 1,632 yards (6.6 yards per attempt) with 6 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. That calculates to a passer rating of 69.5. The injured Henry won’t be there to carry the Tennessee O this weekend. And a Patriots D that has rounded into form to become one fo the best in the league (maybe the best) has probably taken note of the Titans’ struggles on the ground since Henry went down. I suspect the Tennessee D will find a way to show Mac Jones a few looks he isn’t familiar with, which will likely produce some rookie mistakes. But unless those prove back breaking, I don’t see a path to victory for the Titan’s here. New England by a field goal.

Philadelphia (-3.5) at NY Giants
Maybe the Eagles really have found the formula that will propel them through the rest of the season an on to success in the post. Or maybe they’re just in the midst of a strong mid-season run. We’ll see. What we can say for sure, though, is that the Eagles are able to field an actual football team. That’s all they’ll need this weekend. Philadelphia by 10.

Atlanta (-2) at Jacksonville
One of these teams is actually worse than the other. That’s so sad. Falcons by three.

NY Jets (+2.5) at Houston
One of these teams is actually worse than the other. That’s so sad. Texans by one.

LA Chargers (-2.5) at Denver
The Broncos have managed to stay in the mix in the AFC West even though they really don’t belong there. That’s nice for them, I supposed, but it isn’t sustainable. Chargers by a touchdown.

LA Rams (-1.5) at Green Bay
The Rams stumbled into their bye week with back to back losses to the Titans and 49ers. They really can’t afford to stumble back out. And yet I suspect Los Angeles is going to struggle yet again to move the ball on the ground. And one dimensional offenses don’t win games against the Packers at Lambeau. Green Bay by four.

Minnesota (+3.5) at San Francisco
Move the ball well on the ground and you beat the Vikings. Seems like the Niners should be able to make that formula work for them. San Francisco by a field goal.

Cleveland (+3.5) at Baltimore
Five of the Raven’s final seven games come against AFC North teams. They go in 0-1 in the division with a loss to the Bengals. They need to come out no worse than 4-2. And it’s probably going to take two wins over the Browns over the next three weeks to get them there. I think they at least make a good start of it. Baltimore by three.

Seattle (pick ’em) at Washington
This should just about do it for the Seahawks. Brand X by six.

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NFL 2021 Week Twelve Picks, Thanksgiving Games

November 25th, 2021 Comments off

Chicago (-3) at Detroit
I guess I’ll at least be able to stay focused on cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Bears by four.

Las Vegas (+7.5) at Dallas
Both of these teams this season have tended to do the exact opposite of what I expect. So I guess that means the Raiders are winning, because I’m taking Dallas. Though I’m not giving more than seven, so maybe the outcome is a blowout by the Cowboys. Shrug.

Buffalo (-6.5) at New Orleans
I can’t pick it this way, but I won’t be at all shocked if the Bills find a way to drop this one. Buffalo’s been inconsistent of late. And they’re traveling on short rest. Those are factors that can produce an upset. Still, I just don’t have it in me to pick the beat up Saints. So I’m going Bills by a field goal.

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NFL 2021 Week Eleven Picks

November 21st, 2021 Comments off

Indianapolis (+7) at Buffalo
The Colts offense is balanced enough to be able to pose a challenge to the Bills D. But the Indy defense, while solid, can struggle to stop the run. I think this game is close throughout, which means that a single odd bounce of the ball can potentially determine the outcome. But I expect Buffalo to come out on top. Let’s figure by four.

Baltimore (-5) at Chicago
The Ravens are an inconsistent team. The Bears are consistently disappointing. Baltimore by a field goal.

Detroit (+12.5) at Cleveland
Last weekend’s tie is probably about the best outcome the Lions can hope for this season. But the Browns are a mess. So I’m thinking Cleveland by six.

Houston (+10) at Tennessee
There’s no such thing as a trap game between divisional rivals. And even if the Titans aren’t fully focused and start slow, they’ll get their legs under them quickly enough. Tennessee by 17.

Green Bay (-1) at Minnesota
I’m not nearly impressed enough with the 2021 Packers to take them in an away game against a division rival with its back against the wall. Green Bay is going to win the NFC North. But they’re not wrapping it up this weekend. Vikings by a field goal.

Miami (-3.5) at NY Jets
I can’t come up with a single meaningful positive thing to say about either of these teams. They’re both terrible. And probably the home team is terrible-er. But who knows. Dolphins by a point.

New Orleans (+2.5) at Philadelphia
I don’t know what to make of the Saints. I also don’t know that I trust the Eagles to win more than one game in a row. This is a conundrum. I’m gonna look for Philly to continue to keep the ball on the ground. If they can pull it off, the Eagles should get a win. Here again, though, I suspect it’s by no more than a single point.

Washington (+3.5) at Carolina
I definitely don’t believe Brand X (now with less defense!) can win more than one game in a row. Panthers by six.

San Francisco (-6.5) at Jacksonville
If the Niners were 7-2 and at risk of looking past this game, I’d actually be tempted to take the Jaguars here. But San Francisco is in no position to look past any opponent. Still, it’s an early game on the East Coast after a short week. So I’m thinking 49ers by four.

Cincinnati (-1.5) at Las Vegas
Given the inability of either of these teams to stop the run, this game could be over by like 5:30 eastern time. I don’t know who wins. I’m going home team by a field goal.

Dallas (+2.5) at Kansas City
Everybody wants to be excited about Kansas City again. Wake me when they develop a defense. Cowboys by three.

Arizona (-2.5) at Seattle
The Cardinals can’t lose to the weakest team in their division and hope to hold off the Rams down the stretch. Arizona by six.

Pittsburgh (+5.5) at LA Chargers
This mediocre matchup is one of those games in which I’d take the home team in either stadium. Chargers by four.

NY Giants (+11) at Tampa Bay
There may be a thing or two Tom Brady wants to work out in this game. Buccaneers by 14.

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NFL 2021 Week Eleven, Thursday Night

November 18th, 2021 Comments off

New England (-6.5) at Atlanta
There’s nothing easy about playing on the road on short rest. But if you have to do it, the Falcons are the right team to face. Atlanta doesn’t do much well. They’re one dimensional on offense. And they haven’t been able to stop much of anything on D. I expect the Patriots to lean in to the ground game early and, unless the the Falcons find some way to slow that down, stick with it through the final buzzer. Still, traveling for a Thursday night game is a factor. So let’s figure New England by 11.

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NFL 2021 Week Ten Picks

November 14th, 2021 Comments off

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

Atlanta (+9) at Dallas
Last week, the Cowboys lost to a team they should have been have been able to handle with relative ease. But last week was upset week. I expect to see Dallas right the ship at Atlanta’s expense. Cowboys by 13.

New Orleans (+3) at Tennessee
This is not the Saints’ year. It might be the Titans’ year. Tennessee by seven.

Jacksonville (+10) at Indianapolis
Maybe the Colts are that much better than the Jaguars (or, actually, maybe the Jags are that much worse than the Colts), but I don’t think so. Indianapolis by six.

Cleveland (+2.5) at New England
Over the past two weeks, it’s started to look like the Patriots have got their legs under them. We’ll see how that plays out over the long term. In the short term, I think we see the New England D to hold Cleveland to 17 points or fewer, which should translate to the Patriots winning by at least 4.

Buffalo (-13) at NY Jets
On the road against a divisional opponent is always an uphill battle. Well, it’s almost always an uphill battle. Except when it isn’t. Bills by 17.

Detroit (+5.5) at Pittsburgh
The 2021 Steelers are uneven at best. The 2021 Lions give up more points on average than every other team in the NFL, and score fewer than 28. Uneven at best should be more than enough to get the job done. Pittsburgh by seven.

Tampa Bay (-10) at Washington
The most productive offense in the league against one of the least effective Ds. This is not a formula for a competitive game. Tampa by somewhere north of 14.

Carolina (+9) at Arizona
There was never going to be any solving quarterback in time for this matchup for the Panthers. Arizona by 20.

Minnesota (+3) at LA Chargers
In a division as competitive as the AFC West, you have to win the games you’re supposed to win. The Chargers are supposed to win this one. They will. Los Angeles by four.

Philadelphia (+1.5) at Denver
The Eagles win games on the ground. But the way you beat the Broncos is through the air. That could prove a difficult challenge for the visitors to overcome. Denver by three.

Seattle (+3) at Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers deserves to have his head taken off. Maybe the Seahawks can do it. Probably they won’t. Packers by a point.

Kansas City (-2.5) at Las Vegas
Have the Chiefs grown a defense? (This is not a sincere question. They hav not.) Las Vegas by six.

LA Rams (-3.5) at San Francisco
The Rams are a second tier team. But they’re still a solid step ahead of the Niners. Los Angeles by three.

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NFL 2021 Week Ten, Thursday night

November 11th, 2021 Comments off

Baltimore (-7.5) at Miami
This should be a banger. Ravens by 14.

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NFL 2021 Week Nine Picks

November 7th, 2021 Comments off

Another week when I forgot to post. Also haven’t had time to check my week eight results. So it goes.

Here’s what not to expect.

NY Jets (+11) at Indianapolis
The Colts are mediocre at best. The Jets can’t even remember what mediocrity feels like. Still, giving double digits on a short week feels extreme. Colts by nine.

Cleveland (+2.5) at Cincinnati
Sometimes the 2021 Bengals look like a professional football team. Not always. But a little more often than the Browns. Cincinnati by a point.

Denver (+10) at Dallas
You can say anything you like, but when you’re a seller at the NFL trade deadline, and it’s not to do with locker room issues, what you’re signaling is that you’ve started looking to future seasons. And that’s about right for Denver, who can perhaps compete against half the teams in the league. The Cowboys are not one of the teams the Broncos can compete with. Dallas by 17.

Houston (+5.5) at Miami
With the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on the line, look for the Dolphins to step up and shoot themselves in the foot with a win. Miami by a field goal.

Atlanta (+6) at New Orleans
A week to prepare to face Trevor Siemian should be enough for pretty much any NFL defense. If only the Falcons had one of those. Saints by four.

Las Vegas (-3) at NY Giants
Three? I mean, I know it can’t have been easy for the Raiders to concentrate on football this week. And then there’s the early game on the east coast. But still. It’s the Giants. I’m thinking Vegas by six anyhow.

New England (-3.5) at Carolina
The Patriots were far from perfect in Los Angeles a week ago, but they looked like they’d turned a corner. That should be enough, at least for the moment at hand. New England by seven.

Buffalo (-14.5) at Jacksonville
I’ll be shocked if this is still a game at halftime. Bills by 20

Minnesota (+6) at Baltimore
This should work out to be the second of at least three straight losses for the Vikings. It should be five, but that’s gonna depend on whether Aaron Rodgers pulls his head out of his ass in time to lead the Packers against the Vikings in two weeks. One way or another, the Vikings are on a fast track to the offseason. Ravens by nine.

LA Chargers (-1.5) at Philadelphia
You can count on the Eagles to play mostly competent football against lousy opponents. But they’re not hosting a lousy opponent this week. And taking advantage of the Eagles’ abundant shortcomings should allow the Chargers to get their feet back under them. Los Angeles by four.

Green Bay (+7) at Kansas City
We’re used to seeing Aaron Rodgers choke on the field in the postseason. But his midseason choke off the field is a creative new twist. If nothing else, I guess we can thank the idiot for keeping things bizarrely interesting. Kansas City by 10.

Arizona (+3) at San Francisco
YepBecause it’s a divisional game? Because the Cardinals stumbled against the Packers? I just don’t get the Niners giving three points here. Or, you know, any points. Cardinals by a field goal.

Tennessee (+7) at LA Rams
Part of me thinks the Titans should be able to keep this closer than seven even without Derrick Henry. But, eh, maybe not. Maybe if the game were in Nashville. Rams by eight.

Chicago (+6.5) at Pittsburgh
This game should offer a nice, clean illustration of the difference between not good and bad. Not good (Steelers) comes out on top by four.

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NFL 2021 Week Eight Picks

October 29th, 2021 Comments off

(Looks like I failed to post this on Thursday. But since I called the Thursday night game wrong — straight up, anyhow — I’m not gonna sweat it.)

Hey, I managed to avoid completely embarrassing myself in week seven. That’s pretty cool.

I managed to go 10-3 picking pure wins and losses last week. And 9-4 against the spread. For the season, that gets me to 65-42 (.607) straight up, 42-63-2 (.402) with the points.

I’m feeling pretty confident in my ability to mess things up this week.

Here’s what not to expect.

Green Bay (+6.5) at Arizona
Even considering Green Bay’s personnel issues, six and a half seems a bit much to me. I’ll be more than a little surprised if the Packers are able to travel on a short week, play shorthanded, and come away with an upset win. But I do think they’ll find a way to keep it close. Cardinals by a field goal.

Carolina (+3) at Atlanta
With each passing week it becomes harder to understand how the Panthers opened 3-0. The Falcons aren’t good, but they’re average enough win this one. Atlanta by four.

Miami (+13.5) at Buffalo
If the Bills aren’t the best team in the AFC, they’re certainly in the conversation. The Dolphins can’t really be considered as contenders for worst team in a conference that includes the Jets and Texans. But they’re pretty awful just the same. I typically shy away from bit spreads in divisional games, but not this time. Buffalo by 20.

San Francisco (-4) at Chicago
The Niners aren’t a good team. They’re not even close enough to average for me to believe they can win in Chicago by more than a field goal. But they move the ball on the ground well enough to pose a serious problem for a Bears team that can’t stop the run. San Fran by three.

Pittsburgh (+3.5) at Cleveland
If the Steelers had more offense, I’d pick them. But, you know. Browns by a point.

Philadelphia (-3.5) at Detroit
Yeah, uh, it looks like the Lions are the worse of these two bad teams. So let’s figure that’s about right. I mean, I don’t think anyone really wants to start examining the matchups closely, right? Philadelphia by three.

Tennessee (+1) at Indianapolis
The Titans are probably a better team now than the were when they beat the Colts in Nashville five weeks ago. The Colts are the same. Tennessee by six.

Cincinnati (-10.5) at NY Jets
The Jets are, um, well you know, terrible. Bengals by 13.

LA Rams (-14.5) at Houston
The Texans aren’t quite as terrible as the Jets. So they’ve got that going for them. Rams by 17.

New England (+5) at LA Chargers
Beating the stuffing out of bad opponents is nice. I mean, it’s what you’re supposed to do. But no one’s gonna take you seriously until you beat a few teams that aren’t terrible. The Patriots have an actual chance of doing that here. And if these teams were playing in Foxborough, I’d pick the Pats to take it. In Los Angeles, though, I’m gonna say Chargers by three.

Jacksonville (+3) at Seattle
You can lose to the Rams and Saints. You can even lose to the Steelers. But you can’t lose to the Jaguars. You just can’t. Seahawks by two.

Washington (+3) at Denver
I’m gonna take the home team that at least has a defense over the visiting team that doesn’t have an anything. Broncos by a touchdown.

Tampa Bay (-5.5) at New Orleans
Tom Brady may only throw a single TD pass in this game. And that might be enough. Buccaneers win a low-scoring game by three.

Dallas (-1.5) at Minnesota
It would be kind of helpful to know whether the Cowboys were going to have a quarterback. Let’s assume they will and say Dallas by three.

NY Giants (+9.5) at Kansas City
Oh, cool. An excuse in the waiting for the experts to declare Kansas City has righted the ship. Home team by nine.

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NFL 2021 Week Seven Picks

October 21st, 2021 Comments off

I’m not getting any better at this.

I went 10-4 straight up in week six. I can live with that. Against the spread? 2-12. That’s kind of horrifying.

I’m 55-39 (.585) straight up, 33-59-2 (.362) against the spread through the first six weeks of the season. I bet I can make it worse.

Here’s what not to expect in week seven.

Denver (+1.5) at Cleveland
I don’t know if one of these 3-3 is better than the other. I do know that neither of them is particularly good. And I know I’m taking the not good home team over the not good road team. Browns by three.

Washington (+7.5) at Green Bay
The worst defense in the league tries to stop Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. That story doesn’t end well for Brand X. Packers by 14.

Kansas City (-4.5) at Tennessee
Forget the outcome. Just bet the over. Titans by three.

Atlanta (-2.5) at Miami
I don’t know which team is awfuller. Miami probably. Falcons by a point.

NY Jets (+7) at New England
You can’t almost beat the Jets in your own building and walk away with any hope of salvaging your season. But, of course, you can’t not beat the Jets. Patriots by nine.

Carolina (-3) at NY Giants
Just finding enough semi-healthy guys to fill out the roster is a triumph for New Jersey at this point. Carolina by four.

Cincinnati (+6.5) at Baltimore
The Bengals could maybe beat the Ravens. In Cincinnati. Not here. Baltimore by three.

Philadelphia (+3) at Las Vegas
I guess distractions aren’t much of a detriment to the Raiders. Who knew? Las Vegas by a touchdown.

Detroit (+15) at LA Rams
Here we commence with the college football spreads section of the week seven schedule. I don’t know how to pick these games. The Rams are winning, obviously, but there’s no real guessing what the margin might be. Let’s just say it’s Los Angeles by 17.

Houston (+17.5) at Arizona
See above immediately above. Arizona by 16.

Chicago (+12.5) at Tampa Bay
Tom Brady has some demons to exorcise. Buccaneers by 27.

Indianapolis (+4) at San Francisco
These are not good football teams. 49ers by a field goal.

New Orleans (-4) at Seattle
The Seahawks are sunk. The Saints may be, too, before the season is over. But the Seahawks are there now. New Orleans by seven.

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NFL 2021 Week Six Picks

October 17th, 2021 Comments off

OK, well, I guess I can live with 11-5 straight up. I mean, I have to, because that’s how I did in week five. And that’s at least, you know, not quite as bad as I’d been doing through week four.

Of course, neither was 7-8-1 against the spread. So … yo soy fiesta, I suppose.

For the season, I now stand at 45-35 (.563) straight up, 31-47-2 (.400) with the points. Still not so much with the fiesta.

And I’m 1-0, 0-1 so far this week.

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

Miami (-3) vs. Jacksonville
I imagine 0-0 ties happen on the pitch at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at least sometimes. But maybe that would be too delightful an outcome to hope for in this game. Dolphins by a point.

Green Bay (-6) at Chicago
The Bears are who we think they are. Solid enough against bad to average teams, not so solid against good ones. Still, division match and all. Let’s say Packers by four.

Cincinnati (-3.5) at Detroit
The Lions totally could win this game. I mean, they won’t. But they could. Bengals by three.

Houston (+10) at Indianapolis
There was a time when getting 10 from the Colts in Indianapolis wasn’t at all embarrassing. That time is not now. Colts by six.

LA Rams (-8) at NY Giants
I’m not sure the Giants at full health could compete with the Rams. And the Giants are not at full health. The Rams traveling across the country for the second of two straight road games may result in this one looking close into the third quarter, but that’s about it. Los Angeles by 10.

Kansas City (-6.5) at Washington
Yes, the Kansas City defense is awful. But the Washington defense is awfuler. KC by six.

Minnesota (-2.5) at Carolina
I don’t know the difference between these teams. Frankly, I’m not sure there is one. Below average home team by three.

LA Chargers (+2.5) at Baltimore
I’m fairly sure the Chargers are a better team than the Ravens. But not by quite enough to overcome the cross-country travel factor. Baltimore by a point.

Arizona (+3.5) at Cleveland
I think the Cardinals are better than the Browns by just enough. Arizona holds off a late Cleveland drive and comes out on top by two.

Las Vegas (+4) at Denver
I’m sure the Raiders are completely focussed on this game. I mean, why wouldn’t they be? Broncos by a touchdown.

Dallas (-3.5) at New England
I’ve seen exactly nothing from the 2021 Patriots that would lead me to conclude they’re in any way ready to compete with the Cowboys. But maybe they’ll find a way to keep it kind of close. Cowboys by three.

Seattle (+5) at Pittsburgh
Neither of these teams has much of an offense. The home team at least sort of has a defense some of the time. Pittsburgh by six.

Buffalo (-5.5) at Tennessee
Just five and a half? I’d give double that anyway. Buffalo by 14.

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