Monday, December 22, 2014


This blog is relocating to a much more relevant social media outlet:

I will be writing primarily about two of things I care about most:

1) how to end global poverty,
2) and the plights of the Detroit sports teams.

Also I have been droppin mad tweets over here:

I am a social media fiend!   Farewell blogspot.  We had some good times.   

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

non picks

Forgot to finish the week 5 picks.   Decided to take the rest of the year off.  Maybe I'll start up again next year.    Go Lions.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

week 5 picks

Last week:
5-8 ATS
6-7 straight up
5-8 over/unders

24-37 ATS (39%)
30-31 straight up (49%)
33-28 over/unders (54%)

Let's be honest, there's no way to pick the games above .500 against the spread when you can't even pick the games .500 straight up.  And this season, with about five inexplicable upsets every week, it's like trying to guess heads or tails.  Completely pointless.

The Cowboys beating the Saints by 21?
Minnesota stomping an Atlanta team that just racked up 56 points on Tampa, while Tampa meanwhile goes to Pittsburgh and trashes them?
Eli Piece of Shit Manning scoring 45 points and a near-perfect QB rating?

It's all just nonsense.

There are 5, and only 5, constants in the NFL right now.  Here they are:
1) Seattle is good
2) Denver is good (as long as Peyton doesn't get hurt)
3) Andrew Luck is good
4) Jacksonville sucks
5) Oakland sucks

These five truths are undeniable from week to week and will remain.

Nothing else in the NFL makes one bit of sense.  Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees have lost all reliability.  Conversely, guys like Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick might just put up 7 TDs next week.  No one knows what defenses are good, what offensive lines are good, what running backs or receivers will produce from week to week. Absolutely nobody knows anything.  LeSean McCoy has 4 fantasy points in the last 2 weeks. Combined.  Adrian Peterson is done as a Viking forever.  DeMarco Murray, currently putting up vintage AP numbers, could easily put up 32 yards on 22 carries next week.  No one knows.

So what the hell.  Here are my worthless week 5 picks:

Vikings (2-2) @ Packers (2-2)
Predicted Line: GB by 7.5

Actual Line: GB by 8.5

You know the NFL is screwed up when these teams have the same record and AP is closer to going to prison than playing for the Vikings.  No reason to think Teddy Bridgewater (or Christian Ponder potentially) and Matt Asiata will be any match for the Lambeau crowd.  Rodgers might be finally rolling.  Pack 34-13.
(Under 48)

Bills (2-2) @ Lions (3-1)
Predicted Line:  DET by 6

Actual Line: DET by 7 

Ah yes, the Jim Schwartz Bowl!

The big story this week of course was the benching of former 1st round pick EJ Manuel and the promotion of neckbearded Kyle Orton to lead the Bills.  This probably means a safer, more steady offense, and a heavy dose of CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson.  It also means less athleticism and less arm strength, which ideally means less chance of Sammy Watkins burning the still-yet-to-be-exposed crappy Lions secondary.

Speaking of which ...

Darius Slay is honestly not bad.  I'm just saying.  He looks like the best corner Detroit has had in 10 years.  I hope I am not speaking too soon.

And I like Detroit's safeties right now.  They can tackle and they haven't made mental mistakes, being out of position, committing unnecessary interference penalties.  Considering I've yet to see Jim Caldwell make a facial expression or speak a single word during a game, I guess I have to give him the benefit of the doubt that he's instilling discipline into the defensive players.  Overall tackling is the best its been since the early 90s.

No doubt, we'll miss Stephen Tulloch over the course of the season.  But DeAndre Levy is well on his way to a Pro Bowl season, which should be his second consecutive if it wasn't all a garbage popularity contest.

So, if Detroit's front 7 can contain the running game, make big stops on 3rd downs, and force Orton to beat them with his arm, they'll have a great chance to be 4-1 and avenge Jim Skunkhair Schwartz for all his fiendishness and crappy coaching.  But that's a big if.   Chris Ivory ran all over Detroit in the 1st half last week, and if the Jets stuck to the run they might've ended up with the win.  So we will see.  It would be nice to see Suh do something vicious to Orton in this game; he is overdue for a signature Suh play.

On the flip side of the ball, Detroit's offense will hopefully take advantage of Schwartz's hubris and idiotic "wide 9." Run right at their linebackers, catch the DEs in overpursuit, and use the tight ends in the middle of the field.  Feature Golden Tate out of the slot until they can stop him.  If any team knows the blueprint for how to beat a Jim Schwartz defense it should be Detroit.  And if Calvin is back to full health, then this game should be no contest.

Normally, I would say I'm against picking Detroit as a large favorite unless the opponent is completely incompetent, which Buffalo is not.  But this season feels different.  Honestly.

I see something different in Matt Stafford.  He seems to have grown up, to have moved from 'trying to look cool' to just playing to win.  He's no longer trying to fake the intangibles; he genuinely seems to be displaying them.  His poise in the pocket still isn't good, but it's kind of adorable in a messy way.  His footwork is bad, but he compensates in other ways.  He still makes bonehead decisions, especially on 3rd down, and throws the ball away before he needs to.  But to me, he's a different quarterback this year.

I'm not sure if Joe Lombardi or Jim Caldwell should get the credit for this apparent transformation.  I would just give the credit to Stafford himself for growing up.  Either way, I think this week is a big opportunity to make a statement that these are not going to be the 'same old Lions.'

Detroit 27-16.
(Under 43.5)

Bears (2-2) @ Panthers (2-2)
Predicted Line: CAR by 3

Actual Line: CAR by 2.5

I am incapable of picking Bears games correctly. Just when I think Jay Cutler has stopped sucking, he sucks worse than ever.  Also, I can't stand Cam Newton.  Better just stay away from this game.
Panthers 26-24.
(Over 46)

Browns (1-2) @ Titans (1-3)
Predicted Line:  TEN by 3

Actual Line:  TEN by 1 

No idea. Let's just take the home team and move on. Titans 23-20.
(Under 44)

Rams (1-2) @ Eagles (3-1)
Predicted Line: PHI by 8.5

Actual Line:  PHI by 7 

Sure looks like a blowout on paper.  But I don't fully trust Philly yet, especially their defense.  Eagles 27-23.
(Over 48)

Falcons (2-2) @ Giants (2-2)
Predicted Line: ATL by 1

Actual Line: NYG by 4.5

Nope, no way I'm falling for the Giants in any way, shape or form.  Falcons 28-13.
(Under 50.5)

Bucs (1-3) @ Saints (1-3) 
Predicted Line: NO by 12
Actual Line: NO by 10 

The Saints' 1-3 record is misleading; they are 0-3 on the road, and really should have won 2 of those games.  They'll continue to be unstoppable at home.  Tampa just doesn't match up.  New Orleans 44-17.
(Over 48.5)

Texans (3-1) @ Cowboys (2-2)
Predicted Line: DAL by 2

Actual Line: DAL by 6

What a stupid line. These are still the same Cowboys.  Houston 24-18.
(Over 46.5)

Ravens (3-1) @ Colts (2-2)
Predicted Line: IND by 4.5

Actual Line: IND by 3.5

I will say Colts by 3, 24-21.
(Under 49) to come later ...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Week 4 Picks

Last week:
10-6 ATS
9-7 straight up
8-8 over/unders

19-29 ATS
24-24 straight up
28-20 over/unders

Manning, Rodgers, Brees, and Brady are now a combined 2-10 against the spread.  In my preseason preview, I said that Andrew Luck would take his place among those top 4 elite QBs sometime around week 9 of this season.   Apparently I was 6 weeks off.  Andrew Luck is the #2 quarterback in football right now, behind only Peyton Manning.

Brees, Brady and Rodgers haven't exactly played in such a way to stay atop that list, but Luck has earned his way among the elite with consistently elite play.  The formerly elite are just regressing: Brees because of age; Rodgers because of the curse of the celebrity-chick-girlfriend; Brady because of both.    (Seriously, that curse was a real thing even before Justin Verlander completely fell apart.  Aaron Rodgers is this year's marquee victim.  Man, he looked ordinary against Detroit.)

Giants (1-2) @ Redskins (1-2)
Predicted Line:  WAS by 6.5
Actual Line:  WAS by 3 

Front row seat on the Kirk Cousins Bandwagon!  Redskins 31-14.
(Under 45.5)

Oops ...

Packers (1-2) @ Bears (2-1)
Predicted Line:  CHI by 3

Actual Line: GB by 2 

If I'm picking based on common sense and what I think I know in the core of my being, I'm taking the Packers.

If I'm picking solely based on what I've seen this year, I have to take the Bears.   No question.

Ugh. I don't know.  I guess I'll say Bears 26-24.
(Under 51)

Bills (2-1) @ Texans (2-1)
Predicted Line:  HOU by 2

Actual Line: HOU by 3

Both of these teams had a legitimate opportunity to jump out to a 3-0 start and they both flopped.  Houston proved that without Arian Foster their offense is absolutely morbid, while Buffalo I guess re-proved that they don't know how to utilize a RB-committee for the millionth time.

With Foster questionable, I guess I'll play it safe and say Ryan Fitzpatrick probably shouldn't be trusted as a favorite of any number when he doesn't have a running game.  Bills 17-16.
(Under 42)
*If Foster definitely plays I'll change the pick to Texans 23-16; stay tuned.

Titans (1-2) @ Colts (2-1)
Predicted Line: IND by 8

Actual Line: IND by 8 

I generally like to take the points in a divisonal matchup with a high spread.  However, with Jake Locker unlikely to play, that means it's the heralded Charlie Whitehurst versus the second best QB in the NFL.  In Indy.  Let's say Colts 31-13.
(Under 46.5)

Panthers (2-1) @ Ravens (2-1)
Predicted Line: BAL by 1.5
Actual Line: BAL by 3.5 

Ravens 16-13.
(Under 41)

Lions (2-1) @ Jets (1-2)
Predicted Line:  DET by 1.5
Actual Line: DET by 2 

With these two teams currently occupying the #1 and #2 spots in total defense, most pundits are calling for a low-scoring defensive battle.  To me, that's just sloppy, lazy analysis.

To argue that these are the best two defenses in football is beyond asinine; it's ridiculous.  Neither of these defenses is even a top ten unit; in fact I would say both are below the line of average.  Not to say they don't have playmakers and solid run stuffers - they both do.  But neither of these teams has an NFL-caliber secondary, and the Lions just lost their best linebacker for the season due to a sack dance.  The cost of losing Tulloch can't go underestimated.

What this game comes down to should be simple:

Lions offense - B+
Lions defense - C+
Jets offense - D
Jets defense - C+

Detroit's offense has Calvin Johnson- the best damn player in the NFL - along with Reggie Bush, Golden Tate, Joique Bell, a very good offensive line (it's true!) and a QB who can get the ball to them. Oh, and a couple of worthless 1st round pick tight ends.

The Jets offense has no one to be afraid of.

With both defenses good but not great, and the Lions having a massive advantage in offensive personnel, the only way this game could go in favor of the Jets would be if Rex Ryan coaches the pants of Jim Caldwell.

Oh, wait.


Let's say Jets 27-25.
(Over 44.5)

Bucs (0-3) @ Steelers (2-1)
Predicted Line: PIT by 7.5
Actual Line: PIT by 9

I know Tampa is abysmal and McCown is hurt, but I don't think Pittsburgh is good enough on either side of the ball to be favored by 9.  Couldn't Mike Glennon play the garbage-time game of his life and complete the backdoor cover easily?  He's playing for a job and a future contract, after all. Let's go Steelers 27-20.
(Over 45.5)

Dolphins (1-2) @ Raiders (0-3)
Predicted Line:  MIA by 3
Actual Line:  MIA by 4 

Stupid London games.  Dolphins 20-10.
(Under 40.5)

Jags (0-3) @ Chargers (2-1)
Predicted Line:  SD by 14.5
Actual Line:  SD by 13.5 

Jacksonville has lost by margins of 17, 31, and 27.   They rank dead last in both passing defense and rushing defense thus far.  All Blake Bortles has to do in his debut is not poop his pants and it'll be a success. Eh, what the heck, let's say Jacksonville covers.  Bolts 31-24.
(Over 45)

Falcons (2-1) @ Vikings (1-2)
Predicted Line: ATL by 4.5
Actual Line: ATL by 3 

Speaking of rookie debuts, Teddy Bridgewater gets his first start against an Atlanta team that just scored 95 points last Thursday.  And he likely never gets to play a game with Adrian Peterson in his backfield.  That guy's luck turned from incredible to horrible in a hurry.  Yikes. Falcons 26-6.
(Under 47)

Eagles (3-0) @ 49ers (1-2)Predicted Line:  SF by 3
Actual Line:  SF by 4.5

My upset special: Philly 27-17.
(Under 51)

Saints (1-2) @ Cowboys (2-1)Predicted Line:  NO by 3
Actual Line:  NO by 3

Some things are way too obvious.  Like Drew Brees against the Cowboys defense.  Saints 35-24.
(Over 54.5)

Pats (2-1) @ Chiefs (1-2)Predicted Line:  NE by 4.5
Actual Line: NE by 3

Upset Special part two.  Charles comes back in the big way, New England kicks lots of field goals.  KC 24-19.
(Under 46)

That's it for this week, Go Lions!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Week 3 Picks

Followed up a stunning 3-13 week with a 6-10 week, to bring me to 9-23 against-the-spread this season.  Thinking I might just quit here.  Also ended up 7-9 straight up, as underdogs won 7 games outright.  Peyton, Rodgers, and Brees are now 0-6 ATS and only 3-3 straight up.

I did manage to go 9-7 in over/unders, so at least I did something right.   I'm now 20-12 on the season in O/Us, and 15-17 straight up, which is pathetic.  If I can go on a run of being above .500 in about six straight weeks, I may consider not deleting this blog from existence.

Week 3 picks:

Bucs (0-2) @ Falcons (1-1)
Predicted Line:  ATL by 5.5

Actual Line: ATL by 6.5

Tampa has lost to QBs Austin Davis and Derek Anderson so far this year.  Common sense says they can't beat Matt Ryan.  But, Atlanta's defense can't be trusted to cover much of anything against a halfway comptent offense.  We're due for a big Vincent Jackson game.  Falcons 24-22.
(Over 45)

Packers (1-1) @ Lions (1-1)
Predicted Line:  GB by 2
Actual Line:  DET by 1 

As a general rule, the Lions should never be favored against Green Bay.  Even if it's only by one point.  I'll say Pack pull out a back-and-forth game, 37-33.
(Over 53)

Chargers (1-1) @ Bills (2-0)
Predicted Line:  SD by 1

Actual Line: BUF by 1 

Ryan Matthews was lost for about a month last week, as were about 15 other relevant fantasy players.  I don't think the Bolts will miss a beat.  I definitely could see a letdown after upsetting Seattle last week, but that seems less probable than Jim Schwartz coordinating the defense of a 3-0 team.   Chargers 27-23.
(Over 44.5)

Cowboys (1-1) @ Rams (1-1)
Predicted Line:  STL by 1.5
Actual Line:  DAL by 1 

Three straight games with a spread of 1 point.  Ugh.  I guess I have to take Romo and the Dallas offense to be able to outscore Austin Davis.  Plus DeMarco Murray is the odds-on favorite to lead the NFL in rushing at this point, especially with AP going to jail and Charles hurt. (And McCoy oddly being platooned with Darren Sproles).   Cowboys 44-34.
(Over 45)

Redskins (1-1) @ Eagles (2-0)
Predicted Line:  PHI by 6.5
Actual Line:  PHI by 6.5

How can you possibly pick against Kurt Cousins right now?!  I mean, yeah it was the Jags defense, but he put up a 109 QB rating with no mistakes last week.  That's good against anybody.  I actually want the Skins 29-26 in a dramatic comeback.
(Over 50.5)

Texans (2-0) @ Giants (0-2)
Predicted Line:  HOU by 3

Actual Line:  HOU by 2 

Copy-pasted from last week:
"After watching Eli Manning in person, I vow not to pick the Giants once this entire year.  What a pathetic sack of crap." 
Texans 24-6.
(Under 41)

Vikings (1-1) @ Saints (0-2)
Predicted Line:  NO by 12.5
Actual Line:  NO by 10.5

There could be no better remedy for the Saints - the most disappointing 0-2 team by far - than to finally get a home game against the drama-drenched Vikings who were forced to willingly bench their superstar player because of media outrage, highlight by losing a major sponsor (Radisson) and admonishment from the state's governor.   (Oh what a surprise, there's an election in 2 months)  

If AP indeed is gone for the year, consider Minnesota in full-fledged tank mode.  Saints enjoy a 38-6 bye week.
(Under 50)

Titans (1-1) @ Bengals (2-0)
Predicted Line:  CIN by 7

Actual Line:  CIN by 7

I never want to lay 7 points with Andy Dalton, but throw in the injury to AJ Green and it's not even close.  Bengals 20-16. 

(Under 43)

Ravens (1-1) @ Browns (1-1)
Predicted Line:  BAL by 1

Actual Line: BAL by 2 

Brian Hoyer looks pretty solid.  Browns 17-16.
(Under 42)

Colts (0-2) @ Jags (0-2)
Predicted Line:  IND by 12

Actual Line:  IND by 7 

Only 7? Really?  I mean, the Jags are losing by an average of 24 points per game so far, and the Colts are suddenly in desperation mode.   Can't make this line high enough.  Indy 44-10.
(Over 45.5)

Raiders (0-2) @ Patriots (1-1)
Predicted Line:  NE by 13

Actual Line:  NE by 14.5

The days of me trusting Tom Brady to cover large spreads are done.  Pats 26-20.
(Under 47)

49ers (1-1) @ Cardinals (2-0)
Predicted Line:  ARZ by 1

Actual Line:  SF by 3

Gotta take the points with the homedog in a division matchup.  San Fran's defense isn't the same without Navarro Bowman. Niners 23-21.
(Over 42.5)

Broncos (2-0) @ Seahawks (1-1)
Predicted Line:  SEA by 4.5
Actual Line:  SEA by 4.5

I could see a blowout happening either way in this Super Bowl matchup.  Guess I'll take the points.   Too bad this isn't the Sunday Night game.   Seahawks 27-26.
(Over 49)

Chiefs (0-2) @ Dolpins (1-1)
Predicted Line:  MIA by 3

Actual Line:  MIA by 4.5

Not only is Jamaal Charles out for KC with an ankle, but so is stud safety Eric Berry. And of course stud linebacker Derrick Johnson was lost for the season week 1.  That's their 3 best players.   I'm thinking maybe this spread should be higher.  Fins 27-13.
(Under 42)

Steelers (1-1) @ Panthers (1-1)
Predicted Line:  CAR by 2.5
Actual Line:  CAR by 3.5

Man, Cam Newton sure seems like a douche.  I would hate playing for that guy if I was on Carolina.  This spread seems a little off;  that half a point isn't making sense to me.  I guess Carolina 27-24.
(Over 42)

Bears (1-1) @ Jets (1-1)
Predicted Line:  CHI by 4

Actual Line:  NYJ by 2.5 

Speaking of spreads that make no sense .... huh?  How are the Jets favored?  What the heck am I missing?  Bears 23-13.
(Under 45.5)

Go Lions!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Week 2 Picks

With a 3-13 ATS record week one (8-8 straight up), that marks my single worst week of picking the games in 5 years.  I have just put myself in a hole I won't be able to climb out of all season.  I was 11-5 on over/unders if that counts for anything.

The strategy of siding with the top QBs backfired, as Rodgers, Peyton, Brees and Brady went 0-4 against the spread and 1-3 straight up.  Lots of stupid upsets and backdoor covers.  Nice job of Jay Cutler to lose a home game as a 7 point favorite.  Somehow I forgot what a loser he is.

One of the biggest stories nobody is talking about is the Chiefs losing their best defensive player Derrick Johnson for the season.  Their run defense just plummeted considerably and so did their already slim wildcard hopes.   Same goes for Houston, losing Clowney for 4 weeks, probably longer.

I also think it's a little self-righteous how everybody is trying to make an example out of Ray Rice, now calling for Goodell's job.  Yeah the guy is scum and deserves to be suspended for the year, maybe for life.  But let's not be naive;  he got caught on video doing what dozens of players do every year and get away with, because they aren't on video.  Goodell handled the situation terribly, but I don't think you fire a commissioner every time they mishandle a situation.  Unless he gets caught in some kind of cover-up scandal, which at this point appears quite possible.
*Edit - appears likely.

Here are the week 2 picks:

Steelers (1-0) @ Ravens (0-1)
Thursday Night
Predicted Line:  BAL by 1.5

Actual Line:  BAL by 3 

Instead of delving into the nuances of an unpredictable AFC North or discussing the disgusting Ray Rice situation  ... here's this instead.  This is why we love football.

Steelers 20-18.
(Under 44.5)

Lions (1-0) @ Panthers (1-0)
Predicted Line:  CAR by 1

Actual Line:  CAR by 3 

Cam Newton is apparently closer to probable than questionable at this point, which explains the spread.  With Cam's rib injury limiting his mobility and ability to throw the ball, and with Carolina's complete lack of offensive weapons, Detroit's piss-poor secondary has a chance to survive two weeks in a row without getting exposed.

Two quick sidenotes ...

1.  For your enjoyment - here is one of the worst sports articles I've ever read, comparing Calvin Johnson (the best WR in the NFL hands-down - maybe the best overall player - and a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer) ...  to Kelvin Benjamin (who has played 1 game in the NFL, and by my count is maybe the 8th best receiver in the NFC South.)

2.  In case you were wondering what an ass Cam Newton is, watch this.  Not only are his body language and tone of voice completely dismissive and arrogant,  but the way he is wearing that hat suggests elite levels of doucherity.   Also, he can't seem to speak a coherent sentence.  He says over and over that he needs to be protected with Suh and Fairley, instead of from Suh and Fairley.  I understand misspeaking once...but saying it wrong 5 times in a row?  I am of the opinion that he's just an self-obsessed idiot.

Unfortunately, he's a pretty talented idiot, and worse yet, the Panthers have a great freaking defense.  If Detroit couldn't run the ball whatsoever against the crappy Giants (30 attempts, 76 yards, 2.5 YPC), how are they gonna run on Luke Kuechly and last year's #2 rushing defense?    Easy answer:  they're not.

But if Joe Lombardi and Caldwell neglect the 1st and 10 runs and commit to throwing the ball 60 times, Detroit can plan on racking up crazy yardage against a lousy secondary.  Stafford is clearly back to 2011 form;  after two stupid seasons of sidearm flicks and undisciplined mechanics (and an 11-21 record), you can already see a drastic and positive change in the Lions quarterback.  Credit Caldwell, credit Lombardi, credit Stafford himself.  Who cares.  The guy is on his way to an efficient and dominant season.  The sidearm didn't show up once Monday Night and that spells a playoff run.

Of course, the O-line needs to protect Matthew from a scary Panthers pass rush, and that won't be easy.  We won't have another turnover-free game.  But Calvin could easily top 150 yards again, and if Carolina chooses to double-team Megatron (which the Giants stupidly did not do to their own demise), that gives Ebron and Tate a chance to finally make some noise.    The one Lion who needs to step up is Joique Bell.  He looked like he spent a little too much time with Mikel LeShoure this offseason; another game full of those worthless 2 yard runs and the RB timeshare will be history.

Overall, I love the Lions chances to win their road opener.  There will be mistakes early and some adversity playing on the road, but they'll get it done in a comeback.  23-17.
(Under 43.5)

Dolphins (1-0) @ Bills (1-0)
Predicted Line:  BUF by 2
Actual Line:  MIA by 1 

Both teams won last week as huge underdogs.  Remarkably one of them will be 2-0.  I'd like to see it be Buffalo.   Bills 16-10.
(Under 43)

Jags (0-1) @ Redskins (0-1)
Predicted Line:  WAS by 7
Actual Line:  WAS by 6 

Redskins haven't shown to be good enough on either side of the ball to cover this many points.  Beware the Allen Hurns and Cecil Shorts combo!!   Skins win 26-24.
(Over 43.5)

Cowboys (0-1) @ Titans (1-0)
Predicted Line:  TEN by 3

Actual Line:  TEN by 3.5

Turns out the Cowboys D is as bad as advertised.  Tony Romo is much worse.  Holy crap was he bad.  Can I go back and change my 8-8 prediction for Dallas?  They aren't winning more than 4 games.   Philly might win the East at 6-10.

The Titans just beat up on the Chiefs;  I'm not gonna pretend like I watched a minute of that game, but hey, Jake Locker's numbers look very solid.  Good enough for me to start wondering if Tennessee might challenge Indy for the AFC South.  I'll go ahead and say Titans 37-27.
(Over 49.5)

Cardinals (1-0) @ Giants (0-1)
Predicted Line:  ARZ by 3

Actual Line:  ARZ by 3 

After watching Eli Manning in person, I vow not to pick the Giants once this entire year.  What a pathetic sack of crap.  Cardinals 28-0.
(Under 43)

Patriots (0-1) @ Vikings (1-0)
Predicted Line:  NE by 4.5
Actual Line:  NE by 3 

I knew I shouldn't have picked Brady to cover 6 points on the road.  How many times does he freaking have to dupe me into thinking he can still cover big spreads?!   Screw it;  Vikings win 27-26. The AFC East is Buffalo's division to lose!
(Over 49)

Saints (0-1) @ Browns (0-1)
Predicted Line:  NO by 5.5
Actual Line:  NO by 7 

I don't typically like the Saints outdoors, on grass, or against the AFC.  Brian Hoyer seems to know something about backdoor covers and inexplicably close contests.  I'm not feeling this spread at all.  Saints 24-20.
(Under 47.5)

Falcons (1-0) @ Bengals (1-0)
Predicted Line:  CIN by 4.5
Actual Line:  CIN by 5 

Massive overanalyzing of the matchups leads me to want to take Cincy to cover.  Their roster is so superior to Atlanta's.   But there is one simple fact compelling me to take Atlanta.

Matt Ryan > Andy Dalton

I will say Bengals 24-23.
(Under 48)

Rams (0-1) @ Bucs (0-1)
Predicted Line:  TB by 3

Actual Line:  TB by 6 

Apparently the Rams quarterback will be some guy named Austin Davis, with Shaun Hill out with a thigh injury.    All I can find out about Austin Davis is that he was undrafted in 2012 and cut from a couple practice squads.  Hmm ...  Also, Rams stud DE Chris Long is out for up to 2 months with ankle surgery.   So take the Bucs in a no-brainer, right?

Nah.  6 points for Josh McCown to cover doesn't seem right.  Plus, the Bucs D just got lit up by Derek Anderson and DeAngelo Williams.  No reason to think Zac Stacy can't rush for 130 yards and keep it close.  How about Tampa 24-20.
(Over 43.5)

Seahawks (1-0) @ Chargers (0-1)
Predicted Line:  SEA by 5.5
Actual Line:  SEA by 6 

I have a feeling I'm going to pick every single Seattle game wrong this season.  They are capable of blowing out anyone, but I have to think on the road they'll have some close calls.  I like San Diego this year and I'm sticking to what I think I know.  Bolts keep it close, but fall to 0-2.  Seattle 27-24 in OT.
(Over 44.5)

Texans (1-0) @ Raiders (0-1)
Predicted Line:  HOU by 3
Actual Line: HOU by 3 

Oakland is going to give the Giants a serious battle for the #1 pick.

Coincidentally, Houston plays the Giants next week, which means Ryan Fitzpatrick will be sitting at 3-0 ... and could be headed into this year's annual Highly-Improbable-Matchup-of-Undefeated-Teams.  Against his former team - the potentially 3-0 Bills!  Gotta love the drama!  

But just by virtue of Ryan Fitzpatrick being a road favorite, I'll say the Texans do not cover, and win 17-15.
(Under 39.5)

Jets (1-0) @ Packers (0-1) 
Predicted Line:  GB by 12.5
Actual Line:  GB by 8.5 

Looks like we're getting about 4 points of value on this spread because the national public watched Green Bay get beat up in Seattle.  They've now had a few extra days to prepare for possibly the worst roster in the NFL.  With Cobb, Nelson and Lacy all healthy, the Packers will score early and often. Green Bay 38-26.
(Over 46)

Chiefs (0-1) @ Broncos (1-0)
Predicted Line:  DEN by 10.5

Actual Line:  DEN by 13 

Despite the loss of Derrick Johnson and the horrid play of Alex Smith last week, I don't like laying this many points in a division game.  Broncos 37-27.
(Over 51.5)
*EDIT -- changed my mind.  Broncos 37-20.

Bears (0-1) @ 49ers (1-0)
Predicted Line:  SF by 4

Actual Line:  SF by 7 

Nice overreaction line to the Bears loss against Buffalo.  I'm all over that.  Niners 27-26.  Wouldn't be shocked to see Chicago pull the upset.
(Over 48.5)

Eagles (1-0) @ Colts (0-1)
Predicted Line:  IND by 3

Actual Line: IND by 3 

On Monday afternoon, LeSean McCoy left a 20 cent tip on a $60 bill at a restaurant in order to make a statement about the importance of good customer service. Apparently the waiter was rude and disrespectful.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.  Why 20 cents?  Why not 2 bucks?  10% would have still been a bad enough tip to make a statement.  I also would really like to know what was so disrespectful. Was the guy racist? Does he have a grudge against football players who bullied him in high school?  Or is he just a crappy waiter to everyone.  This story should be analyzed in greater detail - not for the controversy or drama, but because it's perplexing and fascinating.

I'll take the Colts 31-27.
(Over 54)

Go Lions!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Week 1 Picks

My history of NFL picks: 

2009 - 67.3% - straight up 
2010 - 51.7% - against the spread (ATS)  
2011 - 54.3% ATS 
2012 - 50.4% ATS, 61.5% straight up   
2013 - 53.1% ATS, 66.0% straight up;  also 52.0% over/unders

Packers @ Seahawks
Thursday Night
Predicted Line:  SEA by 4
Actual Line:   SEA by 6 

In nearly every fantasy league, the Seahawks D/ST were the first to be drafted.  Likewise, Aaron Rodgers was a consensus top three fantasy quarterback.  But weirdly enough, I would not start either option in this matchup. (In fact, I picked up Ryan Fitzpatrick to start over Rodgers this opening week.  That's how much I don't want to play a QB against Seattle's secondary in Qwest Field.)  The combination of Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman should be able to eliminate any passing attack in the NFL, including Denver's, as we saw last February.  There's only one way to score on the Seattle defense, and that is to run the ball early and often.  

Thus, Green Bay figures to have a chance, due to the surprising emergence of Eddie Lacy.  (Who, interestingly, is the only running back from Alabama's dominant 2010 team to have any success in the NFL, while his highly-touted former teammates (Richardson and Ingram) have sucked).  With Lacy, the Packers can neutralize the historically good Seattle secondary by establishing a ground game early and forcing the safeties to play closer to the line of scrimmage. This opens up the play-action, where Rodgers is deadly.   

Green Bay's D, with newly acquired Julius Peppers alongside Clay Matthews, should be able to put pressure on Russell Wilson and keep Marshawn Lynch in check. I don't see Seattle scoring more than 20-24 points with their lackluster receivers.  (Unless Percy Harvin breaks a huge play or two).   I'm going to take the Packers in a bit of a shocker to kick off the season.  27-23.  
(Over 46) 

Saints @ Falcons
Predicted Line:  NO by 2.5 
Actual Line:  NO by 3 

I'll be picking against Atlanta for the majority of the season, at least until the public realizes how bad the Falcons defense is.  Most people think they'll bounce back into playoff form. I highly doubt it.  Sure, Julio Jones is back, and the offense won't be stagnant anymore.  But they ranked 32nd in rushing yards a season ago, and Steven Jackson didn't get any younger.  Devonta Freeman (impressive instincts and vision) will be solid someday, but it'll take too long for old-school Mike Smith to pull the plug on S-Jack's dwindling career.  

But the biggest issue at hand here is Drew Brees carving up a very poor Atlanta secondary.  Only Oakland allowed a higher QB rating last season, and only the Rams gave up a higher YPA.  And even the homer website The Falcoholic understands Atlanta doesn't have a pass rush.  They won't be able to pressure Brees, nor can they cover his receivers.  Long day for Atlanta's D, lots of mop-up duty for the Saints RBs.  New Orleans 35-20.  
(Over 51.5) 

Vikings @ Rams
Predicted Line: STL by 3 
Actual Line: STL by 4 

In the week one battle between Matt Cassel and Shaun Hill, there truly is no winner.  

Rams have the better coach, the better D by far, and homefield advantage. 

Vikings have Adrian Peterson ... and that's about it.   Sounds like a pretty even matchup.  I'll say Rams 20-17.  Go Shaun Hill! 
(Under 43.5) 

Browns @ Steelers
Predicted Line:  PIT by 7

Actual Line: PIT by 7 

There's nothing sexy about Brian Hoyer, but it was a smart decision to start him over Johnny Football, for many reasons.  The best reason is that his experience and instincts gives Cleveland a better chance to win some early games than Johnny learning on the fly and flipping everybody off.  Cleveland actually has the two best players in this game (Joe Thomas, Joe Haden) and with a healthy Ben Tate, they could things interesting.  

But Pittsburgh has a lot better depth and overall talent, not to mention superior coaching, quarterbacking, and homefield advantage. With Haden locking down Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton could make a big name for himself early.  27-17 Steelers. (Over 41)  

Jaguars @ Eagles
Predicted Line:  PHI by 8.5

Actual Line:  PHI by 10 

That feels like too many points to give too early in the season.   Eagles settle for too many field goals and win 26-20.
(Under 53) 

Raiders @ Jets
Predicted Line:  NYJ by 5
Actual Line: NYJ by 5.5

I loved the Raiders decision to go with rookie QB Derek Carr over Matt Schaub.  (Interesting that Carr is the only rookie QB starting in week one, in a group that includes Bortles, Bridgewater, and Manziel.)  Not sure how much Oakland's decision had to do with Carr looking NFL-ready, or Schaub looking embarrassingly terrible.  Either way, I loved it.    The Jets suck too much on both sides of the ball to be favored by six points, even against Oakland.  I'll say Jets win 21-17. 
(Under 40) 

Bengals @ Ravens
Predicted Line:  BAL by 2

Actual Line: BAL by 1.5

A couple of woefully overpaid and underperforming quarterbacks, and two very solid defenses.  I'm gonna take the under (43).   And although I can't see many teams stopping the duo of Gio Bernard and AJ Green, I'm gonna go with Baltimore to win.  Favored by less than 2 points at home, the Ravens essentially open the season as disrespected home underdogs to their division rival.  That should play up enough motivation.   Baltimore 22-17.  
(Under 43) 

Bills @ Bears 
Predicted Line:  CHI by 6.5
Actual Line: CHI by 7 

Let's see if Jim Schwartz brought his trademark undisciplined stupidity to the Bills defense...  Yes, I'm thinking he did.  Anytime your center is screaming "I'll fucking kill you!" at your defensive end, you know it's gonna be a great season.  Also, EJ Manuel not being voted as a team captain is very indicative of trouble with the offense.  He's got a Josh-Freeman-esque-something-is-wrong-with-him vibe.  

As for the Bears, the defense is going to be terrible, but the offense is going to so good that it won't matter.  Forte, Marshall and Jeffery combine for 5 TDs, and the Bears roll 38-13. 
(Over 48.5)  

Redskins @ Texans 
Predicted Line:  WAS by 1.5
Actual Line: HOU by 3 

Two teams eager for a rebuilding.  Washington is finally done with Mike Shanahan's shenanigans of changing starting running backs every 45 minutes, and Houston is officially done with the Kubiak/Schaub Era, and ready to begin a new era under the terrifying Watt/Clowney twosome.    Our starting QBs here aren't all that exciting - Robert "Twitter" Griffin vs. Ryan "He Went To Harvard" Fitzpatrick."  But there is talent aplenty on both these teams, and a new excitement and hope, and solid running backs who will shoulder a big load all season.   

I'm anticipating a close contest that comes down to the wire.  Ultimately, RG3 will either be a hero or a goat.  I'm leaning toward goat.   Texans 26-24.
(Over 45) 

Titans @ Chiefs 
Predicted Line:  KC by 5.5
Actual Line: KC by 4 

The Titans have all kinds of potential to be the league's worst team this season.  I have them pegged at 5-11 because of a decent defense and easy schedule, but if Jake Locker flops in his make-or-break fourth season they could wind up 2-14 or worse.  It all hinges on Locker, the former #8 overall pick who is playing for a new contract. Unfortunately, he has no top-notch weapons surrounding him.  Justin Hunter is a quasi-intriguing 2nd year sleeper, Kendall Wright is a good possession guy, and Nate Washington is always good for a 60 yard TD once every two months ... but the running game is going to be awful with a couple of tortoises in Shonn Greene and Bishop Sankey. 

I think Locker would thrive in an Alex Smith or Russell Wilson situation, with a great running game and a coach who knows how to groom QBs. Locker has the athleticism to make a few plays a game.  But he can't carry a team as untalented as Tennessee to more than a handful of wins.   Jamaal Charles will have a big day here as Dwayne Bowe serves his one-game suspension.  Knile Davis will vulture a TD.   KC 27-20.  
(Over 43.5) 

Patriots @ Dolphins
Predicted Line:  NE by 3
Actual Line:  NE by 5.5 

With 83% of the betting on New England as 6 point road favorites, I am inclined to go the other way.  This line seems too high considering Tom Brady stopped being Tom Brady about four years ago, and his stats have steadily declined across the board.   But with Revis shutting down Mike Wallace and the Dolphins subpar O-line unable to contain the Pats front 7, I don't see Miami scoring much more than 13 or 17 points.  New England should be able to muster 24 points just by running the ball and Brady dumping it off to Vereen and Edelman.   I'll say Pats 26-17. 
(Under 47) 

Panthers @ Bucs
Predicted Line:  CAR by 1.5
Actual Line: TB by 2.5 

This is slated to be the lowest scoring game of the week, with the over/under set at 39 points.  With Carolina's astounding lack of offensive weapons and Cam Newton's myriad of injuries, combined with the Panthers fierce front 7 on defense, I am thinking I'll take the under.   Vincent Jackson should have a good game against Carolina's nonexistent DBs, while Doug Martin gets routinely stuffed at the line.  The Panthers' D will dare Lovie Smith to abandon the run and make Josh McCown beat them.  I think McCown will do just enough to win Lovie's debut.  Bucs 16-13.     Cue the Cam-Newton-is-a-whiner stories.   
(Under 39)

49ers @ Cowboys
Predicted Line:  SF by 2.5

Actual Line:  SF by 5 

Everybody in America seems in agreement that Dallas's defense could be historically bad this year, with the losses of Sean Lee and DeMarcus Ware.   Possibly true.  But there are a vast number of really bad defenses in the NFC this year (Falcons, Redskins, Giants, Bears, Vikings, Eagles, even the Lions), that I don't understand the microscopic focus on how bad Dallas will be.   What the Cowboys do have is an impressive cast of offensive weapons - Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten, and breakout candidate Terrance Williams  - to surround a competent and sometimes elite quarterback.  In other words, the Cowboys will give up a ton of points, but they'll also score a ton of points.  Are they really so different from Chicago and Philly?  

The Niners are in a bad spot right now, as Kaepernick looked terrible in the preseason, Aldon Smith is suspended for being an idiot, and Navarro Bowman is out for the foreseeable future.  This is too many points to give with a homedog, especially one with great backdoor cover potential.  Niners 26-24. 
(Under 51) 

Colts @ Broncos
Sunday Night

Predicted Line:  DEN by 6.5
Actual Line: DEN by 7.5 

Let's keep this analysis very simple: 

Denver's offense:  A++
Indy's offense:  A-
Denver's defense:  A-
Indy's defense:  D 

I love Andrew Luck as much as anybody, but there's no way he can match Peyton in this game.  Denver's defense can throw Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, TJ Ward and Aqib Talib at Luck, who lacks a running game.   Peyton can rack up 5 TDs while mixing in a healthy dose of Monte Ball.  This will be the first of many blowouts for the Broncos. Denver 48-30.  
(Over 55) 

Giants @ Lions
Monday Night
Predicted Line: DET by 5
Actual Line: DET by 6 

I have the Giants going 3-13 and picking #1 overall next season, so clearly I don't think much of them.  But does Detroit really have the mental fortitude to be 6 point favorites against anybody in any situation?   Can we honestly trust the Lions secondary to not give up 250 yards to Victor Cruz?  Can we trust Matt Stafford to not go 2 for 12 on 3rd downs and throw a couple idiotic picks into coverage?   Can we trust Jim Caldwell to bring anything innovative or inspiring to this offense?   The answers at this point are 'no' to all those questions. 

On paper, Detroit should kick the crap out of the Giants, running all over them with Bell and Bush, sacking Eli a half-dozen times, completely shutting down the Giants sad little running game, and racking up 500 yards of offense, led by 200+ for Calvin.  Throw in a pick-six or two, and Kellen Moore should be able to play most of the 4th quarter while the Lions enjoy a 4-touchdown lead.   

But honestly, I see this game playing out more like this:  Lions go up 7-0 early, make lots of dumb mistakes and end up tied 10-10 at halftime when it should be 28-0, and then the defense shuts down Eli in the second half while Calvin takes over the game, and we end up with an underwhelming but somehow simultaneously convincing 27-10 win that never really feels as dominant as a 17 point win should feel.    
(Under 47) 

Chargers @ Cardinals
Monday Night

Predicted Line: ARZ by 3
Actual Line: ARZ by 3 

70% of bettors have San Diego pulling the road upset, but this game is much more complicated than Phillip Rivers > Carson Palmer. 

The Cardinals may have lost Darnell Docket and Daryl Washington this offseason, but they added Antonio Cromartie, who along with Patrick Peterson can shut down Keenan Allen and whoever else Rivers wants to throw to.  Ryan Matthews has to have a great game for San Diego to really have a chance. 

San Diego's D is better than most people think, but it doesn't have adequate answers for Fitzgerald, Ellington, and Michael Floyd.  Arizona is simply better on paper than the Bolts, and as long as Carson Palmer doesn't completely screw it up, they should be able to get the win at home.  I'll say 24-20. 
(Under 45) 

Go Lions!!