Mythical Picks – NFL – Weekend of 11/22/09

As happened last week, I just know that I am going to get last night’s game exactly right. Sadly, wagering is like investing. You cannot do it with hindsight. If we could do that, then no one’s IRA or 401(k) would have tanked a year ago…

Here are a dozen comments on things taken from last week’s Mythical Picks:

    1. I said that the wrong team was favored and that Carolina would win outright against Atlanta. Bingo!

    2. I said the Dolphins defense should hold the Bucs under 14 points so I took the UNDER. Had the defense done so, the game would have been UNDER. But they did not so the game went OVER. Downer!

    3. I thought the Jets would beat the Jags but I took the Jags with the points. The Jags won outright. Bingo!

    4. I also thought the Jags/Jets would go UNDER. It went OVER. Downer!

    5. I said the Bengals had a legit shot to win the game against the Steelers outright so I took them with 7 points. The Bengals did win outright. Bingo!

    6. I said it was difficult to see the Saints scoring less than 30 points. So, I took the Saints and laid a bundle of points. The Saints did not score 30 points and did not cover. Downer!

    7. I liked the Titans to win and cover. They did both. Bingo!

    8. I liked the Broncos to win and cover. They did neither. Downer!

    9. I liked the Eagles/Chargers game OVER. It went OVER. Bingo!

    10. I liked the Cowboys to win and cover. Yeah, right… Downer!

    11. I liked the Pats with the points and the game to go OVER. Both things happened. Bingo!

    12. I liked the Ravens to win and cover. They did. Bingo!

Notwithstanding a few successful prognostications from last week, no one should begin to think about using any information herein as the basis for making a real wager involving actual money on an NFL game this weekend. If you did that, you would be ready for a promotion from “Village Idiot” all the way up to “Metropolitan Idiot”.

Comments:

Given all the QB changes that have happened during this season, it is important to note that there are two QBs in the NFL who have started all 153 regular season games in this decade and to recognize that accomplishment as something of significance. Those two QBs would be Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.

Here is Steve Rosenbloom’s commentary on Jay Cutler after Cutler threw 5 INTs in a loss to the 49ers last week:

“We thought Cutler was going to be the Bears’ first franchise quarterback since Sid Luckman about 60 years ago. Turns out, he’s the first Bears quarterback to throw at least four interceptions in a game twice in the same season since Bill Wade 47 years ago.”

The Bears had an equally ominous pair of numbers in that game with the 49ers. The Bears were penalized for 75 yards. The Bears had net yards rushing of 43 yards. Yuck!

The KC Chiefs won their second game of the season last week equaling last year’s total. What I do not understand about the Chiefs’ roster philosophy is their focus on aging wide receivers. Bobby Engram is 36; Chris Chambers is 31; Bobby Wade and Mark Bradley have been around the block more than a couple of times; back in training camp, the Chiefs had Amani Toomer, who has to be north of 35, on the roster. The Chiefs are not going to “make a run” this year and do not look like contenders next year. Ergo, why not get a better look at some young WRs who might become very good just about the time that the rest of the team gets very good?

When the Browns fired GM George Kokinis after the team with the team at 1-7, most folks focused on what this might mean in terms of Eric Mangini keeping his job. I thought that a truly stupid comment from owner Randy Lerner slipped under the radar in the frothing over Mangini and his future in Cleveland. Lerner reportedly said he intended to hire a “strong, credible and serious” football man to guide him and the team into the future. Excuse me, Mr. Lerner but you just hired a coach and a GM about 9 months ago. At that time, what were you looking for? A weak, phony and giggling football man?

Nine months ago, Randy Lerner thought he had hired one or two guys that would take the Browns from mediocrity to higher levels. And, how did that work out? Now the same guy is going to make some more executive personnel decisions with the same expectation of improvement. And, why should that work out any differently? Unless he gets damned lucky this time…

The Browns just put two starters, TE Steve Heiden and P Dave Zastudil on IR for the rest of the year. Given the talent level on the squad, no addition to the front office or the football staff will make those moves beneficial to the team.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins put Ronnie Brown on IR for the year. That will hurt the Dolphins in the running game and in the “Wildcat”. That offensive formation/gimmick just works a lot better when Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are the backs handling the ball.

JaMarcus Russell has lost the starting QB job to Bruce Gradkowski. There is no injury involved; this is a performance issue. Raiders’ fans may be looking forward to the week when Darrius Heyward-Bey is benched in favor of Fred Biletnikoff at WR…

In Buffalo, Trent Edwards will not start at QB this Sunday. Interim coach, Perry Fewell said that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start against Jax on the road. It is not clear to me how this shuffling of the cards is going to make things better for the Bills.

I read a report where Roger Goodell said the NFL may put two games in London next year. If that is the case – - and I hope it is NOT the case – - then the league should take two or more of the teams that have difficulty selling out their home stadiums (e.g. Jax, Oakland, Detroit, St. Louis, Arizona) and put them in the London game. At least the Brits will show up and put fannies in the seats as is not always the case in those cities. Forget “showcase games”; start scheduling “revenue-enhancing games”.

The Games:

(Thurs Nite) Miami at Carolina – 3 (43): I predict that the Panthers will gain more yards rushing in this game and gain more yards passing in this game and win the turnover battle in this game – - and still lose this game by a touchdown. Final score should be something like 24-17. I tell you; picking the winner in last night’s game is really easy…

Indy at Baltimore – 1 (44): Surely one of the best games of the weekend – - if not the best one of them all. This game opened the week with the Colts as a 1.5 point favorite and the line has moved to the Ravens steadily as the week moved on. I guess the thinking is that the Colts spent themselves with that comeback against the Pats last Sunday. Peyton Manning is averaging just a tad over 300 yards passing per game this year. Do not be fooled by the fact that the Ravens’ defense pitched a shutout last week; the Ravens’ defense has not turned the clock back several years; that shutout came because the opponents on Monday night were the Browns. I like the Colts to win the game outright so I’ll take them with that point – - even on the road after that emotional win last week.

Washington at Dallas – 11.5 (41.5): Last week was the first time all year that the Redskins scored more than 17 points in a game. Last week the Cowboys were all but shut out by a mediocre Packers’ defense. The Skins have lost two games they should have won this year (KC and Detroit) and they won a game last week they should have lost (Denver is a better team.) So, they will probably win another game this year that they should not win; will it be this week? I don’t think so. However, the line is fat enough that I’ll take the Skins with that helping of points and hope they can get another special teams’ TD this week…

Cleveland at Detroit – 3.5 (38.5): Please note that the Lions are favored by more than a field goal in an actual NFL game that counts in the standings. It has been a while since that happened. Clearly, this is the worst game of the weekend. In fact, if ESPN goes through the videotape archives and puts together the ten worst games of the decade, I promise you this makes the cut.

    You know how TV stations will pixilate portions of a picture to avoid showing someone flipping the bird or flashing unclothed frontal body parts at the camera. Well, CBS has this game this weekend and they ought to consider pixilating the entire screen to prevent viewers from seeing obscene football.

Detroit is marginally better at home than on the road; Cleveland stinks no matter the latitude and longitude. Cleveland has a short week and a short trip to make in order to play the game. In this kind of situation, I will accept any small edge that might attach to the game. I’ll take the Lions and lay the points. [Honestly, I did not expect to type that sentence this season.]

SF at Green Bay – 6.5 (42): The strength of the Packers’ offense is throwing the ball – - if they can keep Aaron Rodgers vertical. The weakness of the Niners’ defense is against the pass. Oops. My problem with this game is that I am not sure I believe that the Packers’ defense has miraculously cured all of its problems as of last weekend’s domination of the Cowboys. I am going to choose to believe that both teams will be able to score a goodly number of points so I will take the game OVER.

Buffalo at Jax – 8.5 (43): This is another “perfect storm match-up”. The Jags live by running the ball very well. The Bills die by giving up yards on the ground in large quantities. I do not like that spread but I do think that the Jags ability to run the ball will keep the score low. The absolute ineptitude of the Bills’ offense will also keep the score low. So, I’ll take the game UNDER.

Pittsburgh – 10 at KC (40): Just what the Chiefs did not need – - a Steelers’ team showing up needing to win the game this week and at least cranky – if not downright hostile – about losing a second time to Cincy last weekend. Unless the Chiefs get ten points from their special teams play, I do not see how they are going to score in double digits here; the suspension of their best WR, Dwayne Bowe makes an ordinarily meek offense even meeker. I’ll take the Steelers and lay the points here.

Seattle at Minnesota – 11 (46): Frankly, I cannot come up with an angle in this game that favors the Seahawks. Most importantly, the Vikings offensive line is better than the Seahawks’ defensive line and the Vikings defensive line is better than the Seahawks’ offensive line. Unless the Vikes turn the ball over about 5 times, I think they win handily here. I’ll take the Vikings to win and cover.

Atlanta at Giants – 7 (46): Here is a fact not worth remembering. The visiting team has won every match-up between these two teams; that is every one that has ever been played going back 30 years into history. The Giants have had two weeks to figure out how to break their current 4-game losing streak. They did very well with the bye week last weekend; while they rested, both Dallas and Philly lost. Falcons’ RB, Michael Turner, is out this week; that is not a blessing for QB Matt Ryan. Flying in the face of 30 years of football history, I’ll take the Giants to win and cover here.

New Orleans – 11.5 at Tampa Bay (50.5): The Saints are still undefeated but they have not played well or looked like world-beaters for the last couple of weeks. The Bucs still have only one win but they have been competitive for the last two weeks since Josh Freeman has been the starting QB. Is a trend developing here? Well, consider that Freeman has made the Bucs’ passing attack resemble an actual NFL-level passing attack and that the Saints have more injuries in their secondary than the Wehrmacht suffered at Stalingrad. On the other hand, the Bucs’ defense in the past two weeks has not had to deal with offensive firepower that resembles the Saints’ firepower in any but the most superficial ways. I think the Saints will score lots of points and I think Gregg Williams’ defense will put some confusion between Josh Freeman’s ears. I’ll take the Saints to win and cover and I’ll take the game to go OVER.

Arizona – 9 at St. Louis (47.5): Last season, the Cardinals could not win a game on the road until playoff time. This year, they are 4-0 on the road and 2-3 at home. Go figure… The Rams have been awful at home, on the road, in a boat and with a toad [/Dr. Seuss] for the last couple of years. The Rams do not score points; in their 9 games this year, they have scored only 100 points; that is 40 points less than the next lowest scoring team in the NFC (Washington Redskins). I’ll take the Cards and lay the points and I like this game to go UNDER.

San Diego at Denver (no lines): This should be a very good game and it is certainly one of the most important games of the weekend. Both teams are 6-3 but the Broncos have a 1-0 lead head to head. A win for Denver here will give them a game and a half lead in the AFC West and the win would break a 3-game losing streak. The Chargers come into the game on a 4-game winning streak. Obviously, the lack of any lines reflects the question of who will be the QB for Denver this week. The fact that there has been no “news” out of Denver other than the fact that Kyle Orton did not practice leads me to conclude that Chris Simms will be under center and Tom Brandstater will be the guy on the sidelines with a helmet in hand just in case… I see this as a low scoring game – - total in the high-30s to low-40s. I think San Diego will be favored. If they are favored by a full TD or more, I’d take the Broncos with the points.

Jets at New England – 10.5 (44.5): Rex Ryan said he was not in his job description to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings. He got to bask in the glory of a win over the Pats early in the season. That was when Mark Sanchez was the second coming of Joe Namath and when Tom Brady was still acclimating to real NFL football games after a year on the shelf. Neither of those conditions obtains in mid-November. Oh, and by the way, the Pats are 5-0 at home this year. I think the Pats will ring the bell many times here. I like the Pats to win and cover and I think the game will go OVER. [I don’t think the Pats will take the game OVER by themselves, but I don’t think the Jets will need 2 TDs to take the game OVER.]

Cincy – 10 at Oakland (36): Will this weekend usher in the Bruce Gradkowski Era in Oakland? Doubtful, but he will be the starting QB. Strangely, that probably represents an upgrade at the QB position… In the first nine games of the season, the Raiders have scored a total of 88 points. However, before anyone gets carried away, Gradkowski’s career record shows him as a 53% completion guy. We are talking journeyman here, folks. Coach, Tom Cable, said it was an “easy decision” to sit JaMarcus Russell. If it was that easy, why did he release Jeff Garcia during training camp? Meanwhile, Cincy comes in off two huge wins over division rivals, the Steelers and the Ravens. This looks like a game where the Bengals balloon might deflate just a bit. I see the game as a low-scoring affair so I’ll take the Raiders at home with the points even though the Bengals are undefeated on the road this season.

(SNF)Philly – 3 at Chicago (45): Donovan McNabb goes back to his roots for this game. The Eagles have been out-of-sync for the last several weeks. If they harbor playoff thoughts, it is about time for them to put it in gear. One big obstacle for the Eagles is the large number of injuries they have incurred this season with Brian Westbrook’s being the latest and the scariest one. The Bears have been a mess for the past couple of weeks too; see the remarks in the “Comments” section above. This looks like a game where the team that makes the last mistake will lose. I think that will be the Eagles so I’ll take the Bears with the points.

(MNF)Tennessee at Houston – 5 (48): This is another of the best games of the weekend. The Texans won the first meeting between these teams back in September. The Titans were still unraveling at that point but have certainly played much better in the last three weeks. Houston, coming off their bye week, can take a 3.5 game lead on Tennessee in the AFC South with a win here; that would de facto end the Titans’ chances for a miracle run that might carry them to the playoffs. The loss of Owen Daniels is indeed a big deal for the Texans; he is one of the top five tight ends in the game. I think this line is fat. I’ll take the Titans with the points.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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Comments

  • Terry Godfrey  On November 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Jack, this is great! I can see that you’d be really busy keeping up…it must be like a full-time job. I may become inspired to start paying closer attention to the sports scene.

    Best to you and Peggy.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Terry:

    It’s what I do. And as a “retired guy”, all I am doing is what I want to do – - so this represents what I want to do.

    Welcome aboard…

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