Taking a look at last week’s Mythical Picks:
I liked Panthers/Redskins Over 47. The game went Under. Boo!
I liked Packers -10 over Cardinals. Packers won by 14. Yes!
I liked Lions -4 over Jags. Lions covered easily. Yes!
I liked Bears -3 over Titans. Bears won by 31. Yes!
I liked Bears/Titans Under 43.5. Bears scored 51 by themselves. Boo!
I liked Broncos -3.5 over Bengals. Broncos won and covered. Yes!
I liked Ravens – 3.5 over Browns. Ravens covered. Yes!
I liked Texans -10 over Bills. Texans won by 12. Yes!
I liked Dolphins/colts Under 43.5. Total was 43. Yes!
I liked Vikes/Seahawks Under 39. Not even close. Boo!
I liked Bucs/Raiders Under 46. Total was 74. Boo!
I liked Steelers/Giants Over 47. The game stayed Under. Boo!
I liked Cowboys +4.5 over Falcons. Falcons won by 6. Boo!
I liked Eagles/Saints Over 51.5. The game went Under. Boo!
That would have been a mythically unprofitable week against the vig at 7-7-0. The season total for Mythical Picks remains in the mythically profitable range standing at 74-60-4.
As usual, no one should use any information here as the basis for making a real wager involving real money on an actual NFL game this weekend – - or any other weekend for that matter. Anyone dumb enough to do that probably also thinks that Babylon is what the preacher does every Sunday morning.
The season is half over so let me take a moment in the middle of these weekly Mythical Picks to mention 14 players who have stood out – positively and negatively – for the first half of the NFL season.
Matt Ryan: Falcons are the only undefeated team in the league and Ryan has been playing at a very high level.
Peyton Manning: Before the season, there were concerns about his neck and his “arm-strength”. Based on 8 games, he is just fine…
Cam Newton: Suffering a significant sophomore slump.
Michael Vick: Running for his life but making way too many bluderrific mistakes.
Andrew Luck: Seems to be “as advertised”, a star in the making.
Robert Griffin III: Super-exciting player getting less support that Terrell Owens’ baby-mamas.
Ryan Tannehill: A pleasant surprise indeed in Miami.
Russell Wilson: A pleasant surprise indeed in Seattle.
JJ Watt: Dominating defensive tackle (9.5 sacks in 8 games) who is all of 23 years old. Wish I were his agent…
Charles Tillman: Has forced 7 fumbles (recovered one of them) and intercepted 2 passes both returned for TDs.
Nnamdi Asomugha: Question on plays to his side of the field is this:
Will he get burned by the receiver or miss the tackle?
Doug Martin: First round pick who is 3rd in the NFL in rushing behind Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch.
Alfred Morris: Sixth round pick who is 4th in the NFL in rushing behind Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin.
Tim Tebow: Explain to me why the Jets traded a pick – any pick at all – to acquire a punt protector…
Three teams stand out as positive surprises for me this year:
Indy Colts: They were 2-14 last year and changed coaches. As of this morning, they sport a 5-3 record and would be in the playoffs if they began now.
Tampa Bay Bucs: The team flat-out quit last year, changed coaches and is now a .500 team for the first half of the 2012 season.
Miami Dolphins: No way I expected them to be 4-4 at the halfway mark.
Three teams stand out as negative surprises for me this year:
Philly Eagles: I thought they would sneak into the playoffs this year; at this rate, they will need to sneak out of town.
NY Jets: Teams with “Super Bowl talent” and “Top-shelf coaching” are not supposed to be 3-5 at the halfway mark.
Detroit Lions: With the talent on that team, they have outscored opponents by a total of 4 points in half a season.
Just a few observations regarding last week’s games:
Ravens won despite Joe Flacco only throwing for 153 yards.
Browns had the ball in the red zone 5 times against the Ravens and kicked 5 field goals.
Bills held the Texans to 21 points but the Bills’ offense decided this was the day to pull a no-show. Say what?
Andrew Luck averaged over 9 yards per pass attempt against the Dolphins last week. Very impressive…
Matt Ryan averaged over 10 yards per pass attempt against the Cowboys last week. Even more impressive…
Robert Griffin III averaged 5.5 yards per pass attempt against the Panthers last week. Not impressive…
Eli Manning averaged 5.2 yards per pass attempt against the Steelers last week. A very “un-Manning-like” performance…
Carson Palmer threw the ball 61 times in the Raiders’ loss to the Bucs last week.
Denver – 3.5 at Carolina (47): Last week the Broncos flew to Cincy and came home with a win; this week, the flight is about 250 miles longer to get to Charlotte. The Broncos have scored 30 or more points in their last 3 games and Von Miller has 9 sacks in 8 games this year. Last year, the Broncos made the playoffs with a significantly flawed team; this year, the Broncos are playing solid football on both sides of the ball. The Panthers have already fired their GM; somehow, I have to think the coaching staff has to sense that all of them are sitting on a knife-edge in Carolina. Broncos’ coach, John Fox, was the Panthers coach for 9 years and this is his first “homecoming”. Peyton Manning is hot and Cam Newton is not; I think the game comes down to that. I like the Broncos to win and cover and the game to go Over.
San Diego at Tampa – 3 (47.5): Both teams are 4-4 for the season and both teams are 2-2 at home and on the road. It would seem as if there were no “angles” for this game; but historically, the Chargers have not fared well playing on the East Coast in 1:00 PM games like this one. The positive factor here is that the Chargers had extra time to prepare for this game coming off a Thursday night game against the hapless Chiefs last week. I think the Bucs are a team on the rise and the Chargers are a team that can be great one week and miserable the next. Do not expect Doug Martin to run wild on the Chargers’ defense. The question is the degree to which the Bucs’ secondary – not a top-shelf unit by any stretch of the imagination – keeps Philip Rivers from running wild on them. I like the Bucs to win and cover here and I like the game to go Over.
Tennessee at Miami – 6 (44): This may be the worst game of the week – or one of the worst. It is certainly the game I would have the least interest in watching if I had my druthers. The Titans’ play last week drew an irate tantrum from their owner, 89-year old Bud Adams. While the Titans were getting humiliated, the Dolphins lost a heartbreaker to the Colts. So, which team comes to this game with a better psyche? The Dolphins play excellent run defense; they have gone 22 games without allowing an opposing RB to go for 100 yards in a game. Tennessee plays horrible defense. Time to flip a coin since I said I would make a pick in every game of the season. The coin says to take the game Under.
Buffalo at New England – 11 (51): The Bills were competitive against the Texans last week. The question now is can they demonstrate that kind of effort two weeks in a row. Here is a meaningless historical fact:
The Pats have won 22 of the last 24 games against the Bills.
Here is something a tad more meaningful. While the Bills were playing the Texans last week, the Pats were resting up and preparing for this game. I do not want to back the Bills on the road. At the same time, I do not like laying double-digit spreads in NFL games. So, out comes my coin for the second time and the coin says to take the Pats and lay the points. I do not like that, but that is what the coin says to do. I take some solace in the fact that the Pats scored 52 points against the Bills earlier this year in Buffalo. Whatever…
Oakland at Baltimore – 7.5 (46): Here is another West Coast team flying 3000 miles to play a 1:00 PM game. The Raiders have not been a good road team for a while now; the Ravens are an excellent home team having won their last 13 regular season home games. For some reason, the Raiders have not packed their running game as part of their gear this season. If they ever decided to pack it, this would be a good time to do so because the Ravens do not stop the run very well giving up 140 yards per game on the ground. Looking at the game through the other end of the telescope, Tampa’s Doug Martin ran roughshod over the Raiders last week for about 250 yards and three TDs. This week, the Raiders have to find a way to stop Ray Rice; good luck with that. Oh, by the way, Joe Flacco is a lot better at home than on the road too. I like this game to go Over.
Giants – 4 at Cincy (48): The Giants lost last week yet managed to keep their lead intact in the NFC East because every team in the division lost last week. Here are some meaningless trends relative to this game:
The Giants have their BYE Week next week. In 2012, teams are 6-18 against the spread in the games just before their BYE Week.
Giants and Bengals have only played each other 8 times. The home team is 8-0 in those games.
The Bengals have now lost 3 in a row at home.
Here is a more meaningful item. In the last four games, Eli Manning’s passer rating has been 68.4; and in those 4 games, he has thrown for 200+ yards only one time. I suspect he will “get well” against a mediocre Bengals’ defense this week. The Bengals have lost 4 consecutive games and their three wins this season have come against the Browns, Redskins and Jaguars – not exactly Murderer’s Row. The Giants D-line should dominate here. Just a hunch, but I like this game to go Over.
Atlanta – 1.5 at New Orleans (53): If the Saints hope to make a run to the playoffs, this is a game they need to win. In fact, the Saints may need to be in win-or-go-home mode for quite a while. Here is an irrelevant historical fact related to this game:
The Saints have been the favorite in every home game they have played since December 2008.
They are the underdog in this game.
The Saints’ streak of giving up 400+ yards to the opponent now stands at 8 games this year. I think this will be an offense-dominated game. I like the Falcons to win and cover and I like the game to go Over.
Detroit – 1 at Minnesota (47): The line opened with the Vikings favored but it has moved to the Lions since Sunday night. This is an important divisional game for the two teams at the bottom of the NFC North; any aspirations about “moving up” will require a win here. The Vikings will not have Percy Harvin at full strength; Harvin sprained an ankle against the Seahawks last week. The Vikes expect him to to play but not to practice all week. Christian Ponder has not played well in recent weeks.
Last week against the Seahawks, his stat line was 11-22 for 63 yards and 1 INT.
Three weeks ago against the Cards, the stat line was 8-17 for 58 yards and 1 TD.
In that game against the Cards, Ponder completed 1 pass for 4 yards in the second half and ended the game with four consecutive “three-and-outs”.
I do not like the Lions on the road but I like the Vikings even less. I’ll take the Lions to win and cover here. Reluctantly…
Jets at Seattle – 7.5 (38.5): Mark Sanchez gets to play against his old college coach – the one who said he was not ready to jump to the NFL back when Sanchez made himself available for the NFL draft. At home, the Seahawks have beaten the Pats and the Packers – albeit the win over the Packers had more than a little bit to do with a replacement ref blowing the final call of the game. On the road, the Seahawks have lost to the Cards and the Rams. Check it out; the Seahawks are at home this week. The Jets – after flying for 5 hours to get to the game – do not play run defense well; they have been pushed around this year and the Seahawks have Marshawn Lynch ready to run the ball between the tackles. I agree this game will be low scoring as indicated by the Totals Line, so I will take the Jets plus that generous helping of points. Yes, I know. Mark Sanchez will have to play in a very hostile environment this week and that means he could exceed his usual number of blunders for a game and that such an excess of blunders could turn this game into a rout. Nevertheless…
Dallas – 2 at Philly (44.5): The last three Cowboy losses have all been by less than 7 points; the team has been in all of those games and then found a way not to win. On the other side of the field, the Eagles are a certified mess. The Eagles have turned the ball over 6 times in the red zone this year in their 8 games. Just to clarify, that is not a good thing at all! The Eagles always play the Cowboys tough but this is not a game anyone should wager on. It is not a particularly interesting game to watch either – unless you have a compulsion to watch bad teams find new and better ways to flush games down a commode. The loser of this game will be toast with regard to making the playoffs; the winner will not be in good shape “playoff-wise” but they will not be toast. Given the Eagles OL injuries and the play of their subs, there ought to be an Over/Under proposition bet on the number of sacks by DeMarcus Ware. My coin will be pressed into service for a third time this week and the coin says to take the Eagles plus the points. Why not? These are, after all, Mythical Picks…
St Louis at SF – 11 (38.5): This is a division game where both teams are coming off their BYE Week. Rams’ WR, Danny Amondola is listed as probable for this game and that should help the Rams’ offense – a unit that definitely needs help. As noted above, I do not like laying double-digits in NFL games but in this case, I can see the Rams scoring 10 points or less for the game. Remember, the Niners’ defense has allowed the fewest points in the league so far. Therefore, I’ll take the Niners and lay the points.
(Sun Nite) Houston at Chicago – 1.5 (41): This is the best game of the week; the combined records for the two teams add up to 14-2. The Bears have won six games in a row; the Texans are undefeated on the road. Those legendary Bears’ defensive teams – the ones from 1963 and 1985 – each returned 4 INTs for TDs in their seasons. The 2012 Bears’ defense has already returned 7 INTs for TDs. Say what…? The Texans have a big edge in their defensive line going against the Bears offensive line. Jay Cutler will not just sit back and pick the opponent apart this week; he will be “on the move” just about every time he does not hand the ball off to a running back. The game should turn on turnovers. If the Bears can continue to force multiple turnovers from the Texans that result in short fields and/or defensive scores, the Bears will win in a walk. If not, the Texans have the advantage. I will go with the idea that a team good enough to sport a 7-1 record at this point in the season can avoid multiple turnover mishaps. I like the Texans plus the points and I like the game to stay Under. By the way, the Bears play the Niners next week so this game represents the first half of a tough two-game segment in their schedule.
(Mon Nite) KC at Pittsburgh – 11.5 (42.5): This looks like anything but a marquee matchup for MNF in fact it could be the worst game of the weekend if the Dolphins/Titans game is not. The Chiefs are the favorite in the clubhouse for the label, “worst team in the NFL”. The Steelers’ offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, is not a warm and fuzzy kind of guy; moreover, when he was head coach at KC last year, he and Chiefs’ GM, Scott Pioli, fought an old-fashioned “loser-leaves-town internal battle” and Haley lost. Now Haley gets to call plays against his old team and his old antagonist will likely be sitting up in the booth “evaluating the talent”. After 8 games, the Chiefs are minus-20 in turnover differential; that is simply mind-boggling. Here is the deal:
After this game, the Steelers have three division games in a row and two of those games are against the Ravens. That sequence of AFC North showdowns will likely determine the AFC North championship.
Matt Cassel will be the Chiefs’ QB and Ricky Stanzi will be the backup QB should Cassel be injured because Brady Quinn suffered a concussion against the Raiders two weeks ago.
Do not count me as surprised if the Chiefs have trouble getting to double digits in this game. Do not count me as surprised if the Chiefs’ defense this week is imperceptibly different from the Chiefs’ defense in weeks past despite the fact that a new defensive coordinator will call the plays. I smell a blowout of epic proportion brewing here. I’ll take the Steelers and lay those double-digit points. I will not be surprised if the final score is something like 34 – 6.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………