Mythical Picks – NFL – Weekend of 9/23/12

So, how did last week’s Mythical Picks turn out?

    I liked the Bucs +7.5 against the Giants. Giants won by only 7. Yes!

    I liked Saints/Panthers Over 50.5. The game went well Over. Yes!

    I liked the Pats – 13.5 over the Cards. The Pats lost the game. Boo!

    I liked the Colts +1.5 against the Vikes. The Colts won outright. Yes!

    I liked the Ravens/Eagles Over 46. The game just nudged Over. Yes!

    I liked the Ravens +2.5 against the Eagles. Ravens covered. Yes!

    I liked the Chiefs on the money line against the Bills. Bills won. Boo!

    I liked the Chiefs +3.5 against the Bills. Bills won by 18 points. Boo!

    I liked the Bengals – 7 over the Browns. The game was a Push.

    I liked the Texans – 7 over the Jags. Texans covered easily. Yes!

    I liked the Raiders – 1 over the Dolphins. Raiders lost by 22 points. Boo!

    I liked the Cowboys – 3 over the Seahawks. Seahawks won outright. Boo!

    I liked the Redskins – 3 over the Rams. Rams won the game. Boo!

    I liked Jets/Steelers Under 41.5. The game stayed Under. Yes!

    I liked Titans/Chargers Over 43. The game went Over. Yes!

    I liked the Lions +6.5 against the Niners. Niners won by 8. Boo!

    I liked the Lions/Niners Over 46. The game was a Push.

    I liked the Broncos +3 against the Falcons. Falcons won by 6. Boo!

In Week 1, the Mythical Picks produced a bland 8-8-1 record. That was followed by these results in Week 2: 8-8-2. Therefore, the overall record thus far is 16-16-3. As Chester A. Riley was wont to say in the old TV series, The Life of Riley:

What a revoltin’ development this is!

Based on the first two weeks of the NFL season, the Mythical Picks have been mythically unprofitable in a Vegas sportsbook. Sure, they could have been worse; but that is not exactly the objective of a “prognostication piece.” In any event, no one should take any information that follows here and consider it informative with regard to selecting a side to back with real money in any NFL game this weekend. Anyone stupid enough to do that would also take a job selling Mayan calendars for 2013.

General Comments:

Earlier this week, Steve Sabol passed away and I wrote about his contributions to NFL football through NFL Films. Since I am sure it would take an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA to make this happen, I would urge those folks to take a time-out from disagreeing with each other on everything to do something constructive.

    I propose that each player wear a “Steve Sabol Patch” on his jersey – or helmet – for the rest of the 2012 season.

Seriously folks, he made all of you a whole lot of money. This cannot be contentious, can it?

As of this morning, Drew Brees has thrown a TD pass in 45 consecutive games. John Unitas holds the NFL record for TD passes in consecutive games at 47 games and it has stood for 52 years. Unitas’ record stretched from 1956 to 1960; they only played 12 games per season back then. Prior to Unitas, the record was 23 consecutive games and it was held by Cecil Isbel back in 1942/43. If you never heard of Isbel, you certainly have heard of the guy who caught a lot of his TD passes – - Don Hutson.

Greg Cote reported in the Miami Herald that the Dolphins have booked a Cirque de Soleil show into Sun Life Stadium from January 10 to February 3, 2013. Interestingly, that would be when the NFL playoffs will happen and the NFL has a formula to determine which team in the playoffs would be the home team. So what is going on here?

    A. Dolphins’ owners already know they are not going to host a playoff game – probably because they know they are not going to be in the playoffs.

    B. Dolphins’ owners did not realize what they had done when they signed that deal with Cirque de Soleil until it hit the papers.

    C. There is an awfully cheap “buy-out clause” in the Cirque de Soleil contract.

It might be a blend of A, B, and C above…

Last week, Eli Manning threw for 510 yards and 3 TDs to bring the Giants back from a 2 TD deficit and beat the Bucs. In the 4th quarter alone, he threw for 243 yards and produced 25 points. The two teams combined to score 4 TDs in the final 7 minutes of the game. Did the two defensive units go on strike?

The Saints are 0-2 so far; they are the only team in the NFC that has not won a game. [There are 5 teams in the AFC that remain winless as of today.] The Saints’ defense has allowed 75 points and 922 yards in 2 games. Drew Brees’ stats and consecutive games with TD passes do not amount to much when the defense gives up 37.5 points per game. Maybe the Saints should institute a “pay for performance incentive” for the defensive unit…

The Eagles are 2-0 and have outscored their opponents by a total of 2 points. The last time that happened in the NFL, it was 1950 and Harry Truman was President. Somehow, the Eagles have won in the first two weeks despite turning the ball over 9 times in those 2 games. Highly unusual… This week the Eagles fly to Arizona to play the Cardinals. The Cardinals are also 2-0 and they have outscored their opponents by a total of 6 points. Anyone smell OT happening in that game?

The Eagles are 0-2 against the spread but they are 2-0 in the standings. Just a hunch here, but I think Andy Reid prefers it that way…

Oh, by the way, the last time the Cardinals opened an NFL season with a 3-0 record was in 1974 and Gerald Ford was President.

Someone needs to illuminate the Bat Signal in the sky so that Batman and Robin can get on the case. There had to be an arch-villain loose last week who slipped Quaaludes into the sideline Gatorade for the Patriots. How else might you explain that dismal offensive performance against the Cardinals?

    Holy somnambulance, Batman…

After beating the Giants on the road in the season opener, hoards of folks proclaimed that the Cowboys were “playoff bound” and that there was a football renaissance in Dallas. Now, after a trip to Seattle where the Cowboys laid an egg against the Seahawks, hoards of folks have rushed to label the Cowboys as nothing more than a bunch of “pampered over-rated turkeys”. Take a deep breath, folks. The truth almost certainly lies somewhere in the middle.

After beating up on the Colts and scoring 41 points in that game, hoards of folks proclaimed that the Bears were at least “playoff bound” and that their offense was potent enough to win games even if the defense might toss in a stinker once in a while. Now, after a game against a porous Packers’ defense which smothered that newly minted Bears’ offense, hoards of people have the Bears as a simmering mass of mediocrity. Cut back on the caffeine, folks…

The Jay Cutler confrontation with J’Marcus Webb has taken on a life of its own. This situation is part of the total package that the Bears acquired when they traded for Cutler. He has a cannon for an arm; he can take a pounding during a game; he is a competitor. He is also surly and has the social graces one normally associates with the Visigoths. When they “bought” the arm, the Bears also got the boor. Personally, I see similarities between Jay Cutler and Jeff George in terms of their physical skills and their degree of lovability. Time will tell if that comparison is a valid one.

The fact of the matter is that Jay Cutler was correct in his assessment that the Bears’ offensive line – and J’Marcus Webb in particular – were not playing very well against the Packers. Cutler was wearing Clay Matthews like an overcoat in that game. The Bears OL is not a good unit; in fact, the Bears’ OL may not even be an average unit. So, Jay Cutler was correct in his assessment of what was going on and wrong in his way of delivering the message. That has happened before and it will happen again. HiHo!

The Redskins lost their game to the Rams at the end and everyone saw Josh Morgan lose it and throw the ball at Cortland Finnegan to put the Skins in the position to attempt a 62-yard field goal to tie the game. That field goal attempt had as much chance of succeeding as any random Kardashian female has of being accepted into a convent. Nevertheless, that is not why the Redskins lost that game. The Redskins defense allowed the Rams an average of 7.1 yards per play and Josh Morgan had precisely nothing to do with that. In addition, the Redskins had a punt blocked – for the second game in a row. Josh Morgan did not have anything to do with that either – in either game.

Here is a headline from the NY Post last Monday after the Jets wet the bed against the Steelers last week:

When is Tebow’s Time?

Remember, the Jets and Rex Ryan told us there would be no QB controversy when they traded for Tim Tebow. In NY? Are you kidding me?

The Raiders are supposedly taking a “new approach” to achieve excellence now that Al Davis is the Commissioner of the Celestial Football League. Last week, the Raiders’ record sank to 0-2 when the Raiders’ defense allowed Reggie Bush to rush for 172 yards (and 2 TDs) and yielded Ryan Tannehill’s first TD pass in the NFL. The Raiders led 10-7 at the half but were outscored 28-3 in the second half. That caused Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle to pose these questions:

“The philosophical question of the day, then, is: What are we seeing on the field now? Is it the growing pains of a new beginning, or just an old Raiders plot with new actors?”

There are no profound questions to ponder about the Jaguars; that team just stinks. Exclamation point. Last week, their QB-of-the-Future, Blaine Gabbert, took another step towards becoming their QB-of-the-Folly. His final stat line in the Jags’ loss to the Texans was 7-19 for 53 yards and 1 TD; the Jags’ total offensive output for the day was 117 yards and 23 of those yards were attributed to Chad Henne who came in for Gabbert.

Jags’ DE, Jeremy Mincey offered this observation after that game:

“All of it was weird. We’ve got to fight. We’re not in too big a hole. We’ve got to climb out of that hole and pull it together.”

    Memo to Jeremy Mincey: Best way to get out of that “hole” is to put down the shovel and stop digging!

The Chiefs are also 0-2 and have not been close in either game. Last week, they gave up 35 points and that was an improvement from Week 1. Like the Saints, the Chiefs have given up 75 points in their first two games; unlike the Saints, the Chiefs do not have an offense that can hope to make up for that kind of defensive incompetence. The Saints and Chiefs meet this week in New Orleans. The scoreboard there might roll up points like a pinball machine.

The Tennessee Titans are 0-2 and the cumulative score in those two games is:

    Opponents 74 Titans 23

Just to clarify here, that is not good…

The Bills’ “substitute RB”, CJ Spiller stepped in for Fred Jackson when Jackson injured a knee in Week 1. As of now, Spiller leads the NFL in rushing with 292 yards on 29 carries. That is 10 yards per carry, folks…

The Chargers and Falcons are both 2-0 and they play each other in San Diego this week. Every indication points to a good game here. Nonetheless, as of Wednesday morning, there were still 10,000 unsold tickets for the game at Qualcomm Stadium. Last week, the Chargers’ home opener was in danger of being blacked out in San Diego until the eleventh hour; that game was against the Titans so you could rationalize that the opponent was not that appealing. However this week, that excuse does not play.

The Games:

Tampa at Dallas – 8 (46): The Bucs are 1-1 but the loss last week to the Giants exposed the fact that their defense just might be vulnerable to the pass giving up 249 yards and 25 points in the 4th quarter. The Cowboys are 1-1; this is their home opener; they should be motivated to put on a better show this week than they did last week in Seattle. If the Cowboys play like a bunch of Cowpies again this week, the grimace on Jerry Jones’ face might shatter his face. I like this game to go Over.

St. Louis at Chicago – 7 (43): This line opened the week at 10 points; it was as low as 7 points at mid-week and remains there at most sportsbooks although it has gone back up to 8 points at a couple. The Bears’ defense is better than the Redskins’ defense that the Rams torched for 31 points last week; then again, the Rams scored 23 against the Lions in Week 1 and the Lions defense is not too shabby. The issue in this game is the Bears’ offense and which version of it is planning on taking the field on Sunday. RB Matt Forte is “unlikely to play”; let me translate that for you:

    Either he will sit out the whole game or he will rush for 150 yards. One or the other…

I do not trust the Rams on the road yet. I’ll take the Bears and lay the points, mythically of course.

SF – 7 at Minnesota (43): This line opened at 6 points, moved to 7 points and has stayed there all week long. The Niners have looked extremely good in the first two weeks of this season and the Vikings have looked less-than-mediocre. One interesting storyline to this game is the “return” of Randy Moss to Minnesota and the fact that former Niners’ head coach, Mike Singletary, is the linebacker coach/assistant head coach for the Vikings. The Vikings’ offense will need Adrian Peterson to have a good day against the Niners’ defense; that is not a given. In fact, I will not be surprised to see that the Niners’ rushing offense has more yards than the Vikes’ rushing offense here. I like the Niners to win and cover even on the road.

Detroit – 3.5 at Tennessee (46.5): I do not understand this line even a little bit. The Titans have been scorched in two games [See above] and the Lions’ loss last week was to a very strong Niners’ team. I get the fact that this game is not in a dome where the Lions play best but still… This line looks so inviting that it smells like a trap because my brain tells me that the Lions should win in a walk here. Very cautiously – and mythically – I’ll take the Lions to win and cover.

Cincy at Washington – 3 (49.5): The Totals Line here opened the week at 46.5 and rocketed to this level almost immediately. You can find the line at 50 at a couple of sportsbooks this morning. Neither team inspires confidence; both teams seem perfectly capable of shooting themselves in the foot – or in an even more sensitive part of their collective anatomy. The Skins lead the NFL in penalties enforced so far this year. The thing I do expect is a lot of scoring because both defenses have had trouble stopping opponents. I like this game to go Over.

KC at New Orleans – 9 (52.5): Here is a battle of teams with 0-2 records; on paper, this might be the “Worst game of the Week”. Let me be clear; I would not wager on this game if I were in Las Vegas this weekend. In case you had not noticed, the largest point spread of the week is on this game and the favorite is an 0-2 team. Yeah, that makes the game an attractive betting proposition. There is no way I want to back the Chiefs on the road after the debacles of the first two weeks and there is no way I want to back the Saints after seeing what levels of ineptitude that defense can achieve. I am flipping a coin here in Curmudgeon Central in accordance with standard coin-flipping protocol and the coin says to play the game to go Over. Why not?

Jets – 1 at Miami (41): I think folks have gotten carried away by the Dolphins’ blowout win over the Raiders last week. Sorry, but I am not ready yet to believe that Ryan Tannehill is the second coming of Dan Marino in Miami. Maybe he is; but I need just a bit more evidence than 1 TD pass in 2 games. And here, the Dolphins go up against a good defense – one that ought to be able to keep Reggie Bush from running amok to take pressure off Tannehill. The downside to backing the Jets is one simple constant factor that can be expressed in two words:

    Mark … Sanchez

Folks, he is the NYC equivalent of Tony Romo. He can look great and he can find ways to confound you with his ability to make mistakes. Nevertheless, I want the Jets in this situation and I’ll give the point.

Buffalo – 3 at Cleveland (45): This game is the Worst Game of the Week despite the fact that the Bills have won a game. If this were the Monday night game, less than 2% of the East Coast audience would be awake at the start of the 4th quarter. Added to the lack of football interest here, these are two of the dreariest cities in the US that I have ever visited. For no good reason at all, I’ll take the Browns plus the points just so I do not have to continue to think about this game.

Jax at Indy – 3 (43): This game has the potential to be the Worst Game of the Week. After all, it has the Jags in it. What puts it a half notch above the Bills/Browns game is that it also has Andrew Luck in it; and since it is interesting to see how the #1 overall draft pick develops as a QB, this game has an element that the Bills/Browns game does not have. They say it is always better to be lucky than smart. In this game, it is better to have Luck at QB than Gabbert! The dilemma in this game is:

    Can anyone actually wager on the Jags on the road?

    Are the Colts really a field goal favorite over anyone now?

My answer to those profound questions is simple. I’ll take the Colts and lay the points.

Philly – 3 at Arizona (42): This line opened at 5.5 and dropped to 3 points quickly. The Totals Line opened at 44 and dropped slowly to this level. Not only are both teams 2-0, there is the added storyline of Kevin Kolb going up against his former team and coach. The Eagles have fallen behind twice and come back to win by a point twice. That is not the way the coaching staff has scripted the game plan and that is not a good long-term strategy for a team hoping to make the playoffs. The Cardinals held the Pats offense in check last week and kept the team in the game for a late score to win so I cannot see any reason that this one will not go down to the wire too. I’ll take the Cardinals plus the points at home and I’ll take the game to stay Under.

Atlanta at San Diego – 3 (47): Here is another game between undefeated teams. The Falcons face the same equation the Raiders faced last week:

    Short Week + Long Flight = Bad News

The Chargers have only given up 24 points in 2 games but that is a mirage. The Raiders and the Titans do not have explosive offenses; the Chargers’ fans had best not expect their heroes to hold the Falcons to 12 points this week. By the same token, the Falcons defense is not likely to hold the Chargers to any lack of points given that the Falcons let the Chiefs score 24 points a couple of weeks ago. I’ll take this game to go Over.

Houston – 1 at Denver (44.5): I enjoy watching Peyton Manning play QB. I would enjoy seeing Peyton Manning play against his brother in the Super Bowl. I know for sure that Peyton Manning is an upgrade at QB for the Broncos, a team that made the playoffs last year. I also think that Houston is the better team and will win this game even in Denver. I’ll take the Texans and lay the point.

Pittsburgh – 3.5 at Oakland (45.5): The Raiders cannot be this bad, can they? The Raiders did not really give up the farm to acquire a franchise QB last year only to provide him with mediocrity in terms of people to catch his passes, did they? If the Raiders put out a performance like the one they offered last week in Miami, they might not score 10 points against a good Steelers’ defense; this is a gut-check game for the Raiders. I know the Steelers do not play well historically on the West Coast, but I will still take the Steelers to win and cover here. I need to see more from the Raiders before I take them against a playoff-level team with less than 10 points.

(Sun Nite) New England at Baltimore – 3 (49.5): Here is a meaningless trend for trend-watchers:

    Baltimore has won 11 consecutive games in Baltimore.

    This game is in Baltimore.

Even though both teams lost last week in agonizing fashion, this ought to be an awfully good game to watch. The Ravens lost by one point; the Pats lost by 2 points and watched a game-winning field goal sail wide left. The Ravens – uncharacteristically – gave up a 94-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to fall behind and lose. The Pats – uncharacteristically – scored only 18 points last week in their loss. Both teams “need” this game even though neither team will be eliminated if they lose this game. I like this game to stay Under.

(Mon Nite) Green Bay – 3 at Seattle (46.5): This line is as confusing to me as the one in the Lions/Titans game above. The line opened at 6 points and has been cut in half during the week leaving early bettors with two full points to middle. There are storylines here:

    Matt Flynn was with the Packers and signed with Seattle as a free agent.

    Flynn lost the starting job to rookie Russell Wilson who played for Wisconsin last year.

Forget the storylines, here are the questions that need answers:

    Which Packers’ defense will show up?

    Can the Packers run the ball even a little bit against the Seahawks?

    Will the Seahawks rush for 175 yards or more?

    Will the Packers throw for 300 yards or more?

I’ll take this game to go OVER.

Finally, Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle had this comment after David Akers tied the NFL record for the longest field goal in NFL history at 63 yards after it “doinked” on the crossbar:

“When David Akers’ 63-yarder took that big bounce, I was hoping it would come back down and perch on the crossbar. Just to see how the replacement refs would handle it.”

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

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Comments

  • tenacious P  On September 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Miami Dolphins only make the NFL playoffs if they can play the Oakland Raiders seven times during the regular season. Steve Sabol makes me again ask the question: what causes cancer?

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On September 22, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Tenacious:

      I agree; Dolphins’ fans should not rush to put down deposits on playoff tickets.

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