A subset of these picks will become actual picks sometime on Saturday and it will be perfectly legal. This is my annual weekend visit to Las Vegas and I will spend a lot more time in the sportsbooks than I do at all other Las Vegas activities combined. However, I must confess that this year I have agreed to take a lesson from “The Professor” in craps and to join him in a fling at the table. That confession does not negate my statement that I will spend more time in the sportsbooks than anywhere else – - unless of course “The Professor” and I each win a few grand at the craps table during our fling there…
Last week’s prognostications here stunk like the armpits of a shirt worn by someone who worked in a cheese factory on the hottest day of the summer. The ATS picks were 2-7 taking the season total down to 25-31. Meanwhile, the Over/Under picks were 2-3-1 making the season total for these picks a plain vanilla 15-15-1. Blechhh…
Here are some comments from last week’s Mythical Picks:
I said the Giants/Saints game would be a litmus test for the Giants. The logical conclusion from that statement is that the Saints are definitely acidic because they left the Giants red from the beating they put on “Big Blue”.
Notwithstanding my comments about his lack of on-field success so far this year, JaMarcus Russell led the Raiders to a win over the Eagles last week that should have the Eagles crimson red with embarrassment.
I took the Packers to win and cover 13.5 points against the Lions. They did that and shut out the Lions in the process.
I took the Chiefs with points against the Redskins and said that the Skins should not be 6.5-point favorites against the Helen Keller Middle School. The Chiefs won the game outright and the Redskins never found the end zone against the defense ranked 32nd in the league.
Those last two comments represent the totality of my on-point remarks last week.
I liked the Giants with 3 points against the Saints. Not … even … close… At least I said to take the game OVER; the Saints went OVER all by themselves.
I said I would be surprised if the Browns scored over 13 points against the Steelers. They scored 14; but they covered while I took the Steelers.
I liked Seattle/Arizona to go OVER. I might have had a shot at that pick had the Seahawks’ offense not taken the day off to go grocery shopping.
I said the Pats had not been scoring enough to give 9.5 points away so I took their game UNDER 43.5. The final score was New England 59 and Tennessee 0.
I took the Chargers to win and cover. They did neither.
Just looking at the results from last week, only a dunce would begin to consider taking information here and using it to decide how to deploy one’s actual money on wagers involving NFL football games. In fact, such a person would be so stupid that it would make it very difficult indeed to believe in Intelligent Design…
The word is that Michael Crabtree will play this week for the 49ers having had a BYE week to try to figure out what he is supposed to be doing. As his negotiations came down to the nub, MC Hammer attended the final sessions as someone brought along by Crabtree. I have not read what Hammer’s role in any of this was, but I am sure of one thing:
He did not give Mike Singletary any fashion advice that Singletary would follow at any locus in the known universe.
If you look at the play-by-play recap of last week’s Steelers/Browns game, you will come across a 4-minute span in the third quarter in which:
The Browns intercepted a pass…
The Steelers recovered a fumble…
The Browns recovered a fumble…
The Steelers recovered a fumble…
And the Browns recovered yet another fumble.
That’s right; there were five turnovers (four fumbles lost and an interception) in four minutes. NFL Films will likely intersperse clips of the Keystone Kops with that footage…
In horseracing, there is an old adage that a surefire way to win a race is to take your horse to the front and then continue to improve its position at every marker on the track. The Pats adopted the message in that adage in last week’s 59-0 shellacking of the Titans. Even with the Titans at 0-6, the suggestion by the Titans’ owner that this is significantly the fault of Jeff Fisher is colossally stupid – - so stupid that you might think the Titans’ owner were channeling Danny Boy Snyder.
What the Titans have to do right now is to recognize two fundamental realities:
1. They are not going to the playoffs this year.
2. They have a fundamental QB question to which they must have an answer by January 2010.
Kerry Collins is one of the Titans’ QBs and he is 37 years old; he is not the guy to carry this team to the playoffs and maybe to the Super Bowl anymore. Perhaps he can be a backup to play a few games should the “main man” get nicked, but that’s it. Therefore, the Titans have to find out very soon if Vince Young is ever going to make it as an NFL level QB. That question remains unanswered and the final verdict there will be critically important to the Titans as they decide what their team focus and direction will be in the off-season.
Adrian Peterson has played in 36 NFL games. In 18 of those games, he has gained 100 yards or more rushing. Not bad…
When Jets’ fans stop focusing on the fact that Mark Sanchez had not played in a football game in cold weather conditions prior to last weekend, they might want to focus on the fact that the Jets lost a game to the mediocre Buffalo Bills even though the Bills had to go to their backup QB – Ryan Fitzpatrick – for much of the game. Forget meteorological angles; that simple fact is not a good omen for Jets’ fans….
The Washington Redskins should be designated as the NFL Welcome Wagon Team for 2009. The Skins gave Lions’ coach, Jim Schwartz, his first win ever. The Skins gave Chiefs’ coach, Todd Haley, his first win ever. In fact, the Redskins have a history of doing that for new coaches. There was this guy who went 1-15 in his rookie year as an NFL coach; the only team he could find a way to beat was the Washington Redskins in a Monday night game. You may remember him from tales of NFL lore; his name was Jimmy Johnson.
Let me go on record here, three months in advance of the Super Bowl game:
If the Saints and Colts are in the Super Bowl, I want OVER.
SF at Houston – 3 (44): Much more important than the arrival of Michael Crabtree for the Niners is the return to action of Frank Gore at RB. With a BYE week behind them, that means they have had to listen to Mike Singletary harp on their embarrassing loss to the Falcons for two weeks now – - and that cannot have been a fun environment. Look at the Niners’ schedule and you will see that they actually need this game. Upcoming games against the likes of the Colts, Packers and Eagles on the road and a home game against Chicago are hardly “gimmees”. I like the Niners to win this game outright, so I will take them with the points. And, because the Texans’ offense is a good one, I’ll also take this game OVER.
San Diego – 5 at KC (44.5): Even though they won in Washington last week, the Chiefs’ OL gave up 4 sacks and allowed Matt Cassell to be hit more than a few times. The Chargers defense seemed incapable of putting any real rush on a passer on Monday night against the Broncos. This will be a test for the Chargers; if they do not get a couple of sacks and lots of hits on Cassell, you can officially stick a fork in them. I do not particularly like either side in this game but since I said I would make a pick in each game, I’ll take the game UNDER.
Indy – 13 at St. Louis (45): Shop this line if you like the Rams; you can find it as high as 14 in a couple of sportsbooks. The Rams are in a position to lose their 17th game in a row this weekend. Having seen the Rams’ pass defense, I cannot imagine them holding the Colts below 27 points. I can see the Colts holding the Rams to 10 points. The Colts’ front seven on Quaaludes would put more heat on a passer than the Rams’ front seven would on amphetamines. I’ll take Indy and lay the points.
New England – 15 vs. Tampa Bay (45): This is the annual NFL London game. The weather forecast is for rain on Friday and Saturday and then windy on Sunday. At first glance, that should not help the Pats passing game. However, the Bucs’ lack of a pass rush should more than make up for the weather conditions; after all, the Pats found a way to score 59 points in a snowstorm last week, so weather does not seem to be an immediate disqualifying condition for them. The Bucs are a bad football team that deserves mention in the same discussion with the Rams, Lions and Browns. They have two inexperienced QBs and one experienced QB; the problem is that the experienced QB is not very good so the Bucs are hurting at QB. Mythically, I’ll take the Pats and lay the ton of points here – - because mythically I cannot lose any actual dollars.
Minnesota at Pittsburgh – 4 (45): Clearly, this is the best game of the weekend. It might even be a Super Bowl preview; both teams have a legitimate shot at being in uniform at Landshark Stadium in Miami in February. The Vikes’ defense came apart at the seams last week against the Ravens once Antoine Winfield had to leave the game. As I am writing this, there is no indication that he will play on Sunday. The most encouraging news there is that the Vikes did not make a trade for a CB by the trade deadline this week indicating to me that Winfield is not done for the season even though the replays of his injury make you want to look away. The Steelers can and will throw the ball against anyone; if the Vikes’ defense represents damaged goods, that cannot be a good sign for the folks in the Twin Cities. I like the Steelers to win and cover here.
Green Bay – 7 at Cleveland (41.5): Coming off a shutout win over the Lions, at first glance this game looks like another walk in the park for the Packers. However, looking at the schedule, you will notice that the Packers have a return date next week with the Minnesota Vikings back home at Lambeau Field. There would be no surprise here if the Packers’ players had that game in mind as they took the field this Sunday. And if the Packers OL is distracted or unfocused even a little bit, that could spell a lot of trouble for Aaron Rodgers. The Packers won handily last week, but the Lions – as in the Detroit Lions – sacked Rodgers five times in the game. I think the Browns are a dismal football team so I cannot see them exploiting the Packers’ OL or the Packers’ less than stellar defense in any grand way. Oh, and there are reports now that a flu is running through the Browns’ team curtailing practice sessions – - but with Eric Mangini at the helm, even that may be false or exaggerated information. Recall that the Packers winning record so far this year has come at the expense of two miserable teams (Rams and Lions). I trust neither of these teams as far as I can throw a piano; for mythical purposes only, I’ll take the Browns at home with the points.
Buffalo at Carolina (no lines): You do not know who will play QB for the Bills; that is why there is no line. Unfortunately for the Panthers’ fans, they know exactly who will play QB for the Panthers. If Trent Edwards actually suffered his second concussion in a year as reported – - there is always the possibility that announcement was made to conceal a real injury to his lower body – - the Bills would be nuts to let him play. I am assuming here that Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the QB on Sunday for the Bills and I am assuming that he will be the better QB on the field. No matter; the Bills’ run defense is not stellar and the Panthers should be able to control the game on the ground. I look for Carolina to win by 7-10 points and for the game total to be under 40.
Jets – 6 at Oakland (35): The Jets won their first three games; then they lost the next three games. Oakland stunk out the joint for the first month of the season; then they beat a good Eagles’ team outright last week as 14-point underdogs. If you can figure this game out, you can probably also square the circle. Historically, the Jets do not play well in Oakland but this game is happening in the present and not in the past. Here is what is going on in the present; the Jets have a rematch with the Miami Dolphins upcoming next weekend. The Raiders could easily be an afterthought. No way will I have any coin of the realm on this game this weekend, but mythically, I’ll take the Raiders with the points.
Chicago at Cincy – 1.5 (41.5): There are loads of angles in this game. Cedric Benson gets to play against his old club – - the one that jettisoned him after several less than productive seasons in Chicago. Jay Cutler gets to show off his new contract extension. Chad Ochocinco has said he will spin the Bears’ CBs around like a top. Devin Hester may actually catch a long TD pass one of these months so Sunday might be that day. Both teams sport winning records at the moment; neither team is “scary good”. Purely a hunch; I’ll take the Bears with the points.
Atlanta at Dallas – 4 (47.5): Both teams can run the ball well; neither team excels at stopping the run. That would lead me to believe that this will be a fast game where the clock runs a lot and the score is low. I’ll take the game UNDER.
New Orleans – 7 at Miami (47): If the Dolphins defense can keep the scoring down to the point where the Over/Under wager is not in the books by the end of the third quarter, then the Dolphins have a shot at winning the game outright. The only way for them to do that is to shorten the game and run the ball effectively. Miami is third in the AFC East at the moment; losing here could put them in a bad way with two road games in the division on tap for the next two weeks. I like the Dolphins at home with a full TD’s worth of points.
Arizona at Giants – 7 (46): Just a guess, but the Giants did not have a happy week of practice with lots of lighthearted banter back and forth among players and coaches. Arizona manhandled the Seahawks last weekend; they do not figure to do that with the Giants – particularly at Giants Stadium and on a national Sunday night telecast. Unless Eli Manning is seriously injured such that the offense cannot operate efficiently, I think the Giants will romp and stomp here. I’ll take the Giants and lay the points.
Philly – 7 at Washington (38): Will the Eagles throw in another clunker this week? If so, the Skins can win the game outright. Will the Skins be “unpredictable” with someone new calling the plays or will their offensive unit be completely discombobulated? Last week, fans chanted to the owner’s box, “Sell The Team”. What will it be this week:
“Can The Dan”?
“Dump The Dwarf”?
Alternatively, will Fed Ex Field have as many Eagles’ fans in green as it does Skins’ fans in burgundy so that none of this matters? I have no idea which of these myriad possibilities will come to pass but I do see this as a low scoring game so I’ll take the game to go UNDER.
Last week’s four Delaware Dabbling picks were perfect – - in a perverse sort of way. I got all four of them wrong. Trust me; that is as difficult to do as getting all four correct…
I will be taking a scheduled airline flight to get to Las Vegas this weekend – - but if anyone were to have access to a magic carpet and used that access to get to the great State of Delaware for the purpose of playing their parlay cards, here are four picks that one might play in such a magically mythical scenario:
Pittsburgh – 4
Giants – 7
Indy – 13
Chi + 1.5
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…