I am not going to lie to you and pretend that I just want to check to see how Mythical Picks did last week. I already know they did really well:
I liked Redskins -3.5 over Eagles. Redskins covered easily. Yes!
I liked Packers -3.5 over Lions. Packers won by 4. Yes!
I liked Cards +10.5 against Falcons. Falcons won by 4. Yes!
I liked Bucs -1 over Panthers. Bucs won by 6 in OT. Yes!
I liked Bucs/Panthers Over 48. This was a Push.
I liked Browns +9 against Cowboys. Cowboys won by 3. Yes!
I liked Rams -3 over Jets. Jets won outright. Boo!
I liked Jags/Texans Over 40.5. Total was 80. Yes!
I liked Bengals/Chiefs Under 43.5. Total was 34. Yes!
I liked Saints/Raiders Over 54. Total was 55. Yes!
I liked Broncos -7.5 over Chargers. Broncos won by only 7. Boo!
I liked Pats -9 over Colts. Pats won by 35 points. Yes!
I liked Steelers +3.5 against Ravens. Ravens won by only 3. Yes!
Pardon me while I take a moment in the spotlight here after a hugely mythically profitable week of selections. The record last week was 10-2-1 and that brings the season total to 93-70-5.
Lest anyone be tempted by last week’s performance and conclude form the results that I can make those kinds of selections every week, let me assure everyone that this is an outrageously successful week of picking. If I could really pick 10 out of 12 games correctly every weekend, they would bar me from sportsbooks in Las Vegas. The fact is that I cannot.
Therefore, only a very dumb person will take any information or opinion herein and use it as the basis for deciding which side to back in a real wager involving real money on an NFL game this week. A person that dumb would likely spend an entire day trying to put all the M&Ms into alphabetical order.
In their last three games, the Oakland Raiders’ defense – or what masquerades as a defense out there in Oakland – had given up 135 points. That works out to a cool 45 points per game. Look, the Raiders’ offense is not great by any stretch of the imagination but it does not really matter in the situation where your defense is giving up 45 points per game. That kind of performance is simply outrageous.
I read or heard somewhere – but do not have the citation – that Carson Palmer has thrown 5 “Pick Sixes” since coming to the Raiders in the middle of last season. That does not help things along…
Chad Henne threw 4 TDs and had the Jags in an OT game against the Texans last weekend. Henne is a mediocre QB but he is better at this point than Blaine Gabbert is. The sad news for Jags’ fans is that the team traded up to get Gabbert last year.
Matt Schaub needed a big day to keep the Texans in the game against the Jags last week. All he did was to throw for 527 yards in the game; that tied for the second highest total in NFL history. Norm Van Brocklin holds the record with 554 yards in a game against the New York Yanks on Opening Day of the 1951 season.
As might be expected, one of Schaub’s receivers had a pretty good day too. Andre Johnson caught 14 balls for 273 yards – almost 20 yards per catch. Wow!
I realize that Byron Leftwich played much of the game against the Ravens with two broken ribs and that has to have affected his performance. Nonetheless, I wonder if he is still up to the task of being a team’s “Caretaker QB”. Just asking…
The Saints have clawed their way back to .500 after a disastrous 0-4 start to the season. The defense is not great, but it has improved significantly over what it was in the first few weeks of the season. The way the NFC playoffs are shaping up, the first wild card looks like it will be either the Packers or the Bears depending on which team wins the NFC North and which finishes second. The second wild card slot looks to belong to either the Bucs, Saints or Seahawks at the moment.
Vikings’ fans will be shouting now that the Vikes are also in the mix for that second slot too. Well, the next two weeks will determine if that is really the case. Coming off their BYE Week, the Vikings have two road games in a row in their division – - at Chicago and at Green Bay. We shall see…
The signing of Peyton Manning was a huge move by and for the Denver Broncos. However, the Broncos are winning games with their defense and with their offense; it would be wrong to conclude that the Broncos’ defense is merely along for the ride.
Against the Chargers last week, the defense sacked Philip Rivers 4 times and intercepted 2 passes.
Von Miller has 13 sacks for the season.
In the first half against the Chargers last week, the Broncos’ defense held the Chargers to 54 yards offense and only 2 first downs.
In addition, the Chargers were 0 for 8 on third downs in the first half.
By the way, the AFC West race is over – barring a catastrophic set of circumstances in Denver. The Broncos lead the division by 3.5 games over the Chargers. Neither the Raiders nor the Chiefs could win the division without an intervention by a Fairy Godmother.
Speaking of things that are “over”, the Eagles’ season is cooked to a crisp. Eagles’ fans have been calling for a “new QB” for years starting with wanting Donovan McNabb out of the lineup and they have been calling for Andy Reid’s head on a plate too. Well, last week, they got to see rookie darling, Nick Foles try to play behind that makeshift offensive line. To say it did not work well would be a humongous understatement. Eagles’ fans are likely to get all their wishes fulfilled this season; I hope they are happy with the results…
By the way, remember how stupid Andy Reid was to hire Juan Castillo to be his defensive coordinator and how there were calls for Castillo to be fired because he was a boob and did not have the confidence of the players? Well, Castillo has been gone for a month and Todd Bowles has been calling the shots since then. Under Castillo, the Eagles never gave up more than 27 points. Under Bowles, they have given up 28 or more points in all four of the game where he has been the defensive coordinator. Yup, it was all Juan Castillo’s fault…
Looking at the rest of the Eagles’ schedule, they have Carolina this week and that is a “winnable game” because the Panthers are not very good either. After that, I am confident that the Eagles will be underdogs in each of the rest of their games and I can foresee them losing all the games after Carolina this week. Now if they happen to lose to Carolina and go on to lose out for the season, that would give them a season that began with a 3-1 record and then finished off with 12 straight losses. Oh, by the way, with only 3 wins, the Eagles could be picking in the Top 3 of the NFL Draft in 2013.
Matt Ryan threw 5 INTs against the Cards last week but the Falcons still won the game. I do not have the desire to go and look up if that has ever happened before; if it has, I surely do not recall it. How could that happen? Well, the Cards’ offense was pretty anemic; that’s how. The Cards used 2 QBs for the game (John Skelton and Ryan Lindley); they combined to produce a stat line that read 11 for 27 for 71 yards. When you subtract the sack yardage, the net passing yards for the game was only 42 yards.
The Lions can kiss away any playoff hopes they may still have. Their loss at home to the Packers last week sealed their fate. Last year, the Lions started the season with 5 straight wins and a lot of folks got carried away talking about a Lions’ resurgence. It sounded good at the time and it filled a lot of copy. Here is the problem:
Since that 5-0 start in 2011, the Detroit Lions have gone 9-13.
This is not a “return to relevance” for the Lions’ franchise. It is more like a “return to Lionhood” for the franchise after a rare 5-game winning streak.
The Dolphins’ season is not in as bad condition as the Eagles’ season, but it too is over. They seem not to be able to run the ball anymore; the defense is not playing as well as it did earlier in the year and Ryan Tannehill is just not ready to carry the team by himself yet. In tennis terms, that would be Game … Set … Match.
When you do the accounting for the Colts’ season, please chalk up the loss to the Patriots last week to the Colts’ defense. I realize that the Pats returned a kick for a TD and also returned two INTs for TDs. Even if those things never happen, the Pats would have won by 14 points. The Colts did not cover well; they did not tackle well and they did not rush the passer well. Ladies and gentlemen, that is The Terrible Trifecta.
These picks are out much earlier in the week than usual because of Thanksgiving. Many of the lines used here will change by the time the games start. We are finished with BYE Weeks and have full 16-game slates from here on out. However, this week, we have four games with no lines posted yet because of player uncertainties. Whatever…
(Thurs) Houston – 3.5 at Detroit (50): Which Texans’ defense is going to show up Thursday? The one that was dominant for the first half of the year or the one that allowed Chad Henne to light them up last week. If the lackadaisical defense shows up here, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson will go wild. The Texans took the Jags lightly last week and still won. This week they play a road game against an opponent from “the other conference” as the first of three consecutive road games. Next week the Texans head to Tennessee; and in two weeks, they have to go to New England for a MNF game. The Texans are in no real danger of losing the AFC South race, but a win here keeps them in control of the schedule with regard to the “home-for-the-playoffs” slot. This is purely a venue call; I’ll take the Lions plus the points.
(Thurs) Washington at Dallas – 3.5 (47.5): This is a division game that might be important to both teams if the Giants continue to stumble. If the Giants do not stumble, this game is meaningless because no NFC East team is getting a wild card slot in the playoffs. Neither of these teams is consistent from week to week and in the case of the Cowboys they can be inconsistent from series to series thanks to the ability of Tony Romo to make astoundingly wonderful plays in one series and then to make astoundingly boneheaded plays in the next. I am tossing a coin here in Curmudgeon Central; the coin says to take the game Over.
(Thurs) New England – 7 at Jets (48): The Jets’ season is in the ICU on life support. A loss here would give their season this inscription:
ITBNTL – - – In The Box, Nail The Lid
The Jets have to be up for this game – if they have any pretense of being professionals. The Jets always play the Pats tough; in the previous meeting they lost in Foxboro in OT. I think the line is fat so I’ll take the Jets plus the full TD worth of points.
Oakland at Cincy – 8 (49): The Bengals have won 2 in a row and have gotten their record back to .500. If they have any hope of getting a playoff slot, they cannot afford to lose to a team like the Raiders. This is a long trip for the Raiders and it is in the early time slot on Sunday. Historically, the Raiders do not play well under those circumstances. Of course, for the last three weeks [see above] the Raiders have not played well no matter what the circumstances. After this week, here is the Bengals’ schedule:
At San Diego
If the Bengals can keep playing the way they have for the past 2 weeks, they could be 9-5 when they take on those AFC North opponents in the last two weeks of the season. Raiders’ head coach, Dennis Allen, was a defensive coordinator and earned his shot at a head job by doing well with defensive units. So how can the Raiders’ defense be so horrid? Here is another point to ponder:
How warmly will the Bengals’ fans welcome back Carson Palmer given the way he forced a trade to get out of Cincy?
This game could turn into a rout. In any event, I like the Bengals at home to win and cover.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland (no lines): Steelers’ QB this week will probably be Charlie Batch but who will be the backup? Anyone got Kordell Stewart on speed dial? Should the Browns look at last week’s game with the Cowboys as a positive, (they were up double digits in the second half) or as a negative, (they lost the game)? When the lines appear – as they surely will – look at the Totals Line. It is unusual to see an NFL game with a Totals Line below 37 points; this one might be 34 or 35 points.
Buffalo at Indy – 3 (51): Yes, the Patriots pantsed the Colts last week and the Bills will do the same here if the Colts’ defense plays the way they did last week. However, if the Colts’ defense is less putrid than it was last week… The Colts’ problem is that their defense can indeed be as putrid as it was last week and the Bills have shown the ability to move the football. I think the Bills are a live underdog here so I’ll take the Bills plus the points and I like this game to go Over.
Tennessee – 2.5 at Jax (43.5): The Titans demolished the Dolphins two weeks ago then had their BYE Week and now draw the Jaguars. Other than having to travel to the game, that has to be considered a “soft spot in the schedule” for the Titans. If Chad Henne’s performance last week against the Texans is duplicated here, the Jags should win handily. I doubt that it will. I am tossing my coin one more time here in Curmudgeon Central and the coin says to take the game Under.
Denver – 11 at KC (44): This line opened at 7 points and shot up to this level in 24 hours. You can find the line at 11.5 points at one Internet sportsbook this morning. What the Broncos need to do now is to avoid a letdown that would put the Chargers back in the AFC West race. They have a soft schedule; they need to find ways not to beat themselves or for this week specifically to take a downtrodden opponent lightly. The Chiefs are not a good team but they have played close games against some good teams this season:
They beat the Saints in OT (only win of the year).
They lost to the Ravens by 3.
They lost to the Steelers by 3 in OT.
I am not trying to make the Chiefs out to be a good team; they are not. They do seem to find a way to dial up a decent effort, however, against superior teams and the Broncos are a superior team at the moment. I think the game will be low scoring and I think the Chiefs will be focused so I’ll take the Chiefs plus those double-digit points.
Minnesota at Chicago (no lines): I have never been Jay Cutler’s biggest fan, but if you have seen the way the Bears’ offense has played in the 6 quarters that Cutler has missed this year, you have to say that he is the key to that unit. The Vikings had last week off; meanwhile, DaBears went to SF for a Monday night game and took a beating. Without Cutler, I think the Bears are in trouble for this game; with Cutler, I think the Vikings are in trouble for this game. Here is another game where the Totals Line might show up in the mid-30s if Cutler is not going to play.
Atlanta – 1 at Tampa (48): This is a division game that means something to both teams. It is one of the top three games of the week and it should go down to the wire. In terms of playoff positioning, this game means a lot more to the Bucs than it does to the Falcons. I think this game will turn into a shoot-out. I like the game to go Over.
Seattle – 3 at Miami (37.5): The Seahawks had a BYE Week and now have a long trip to play a fading Dolphins’ team. If the Seahawks want to be a playoff team, they are going to have to beat mediocre teams even when they are on the road. This game is a “playoff preparedness test” for the Seahawks. On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins too had extra time to prepare for this game coming off a Thursday night contest last week but the Dolphins do not enjoy a big home field advantage – - unless of course they host transcontinental visitors. I think the Seahawks’ defense will hold the Dolphins in check sufficiently here. I like the Seahawks to win and cover.
Baltimore at San Diego “pick ‘em” (47): This game opened with the Ravens as 2-point favorites. The Ravens’ defense looked good against the Steelers last week, but that was against Byron Leftwich with 2 broken ribs. Philip Rivers may not be having the best year of his career, but he will be better than that. Another caution for the Ravens has to be the play of Joe Flacco and the offense on the road. Last week, the Ravens only TD came on a kick return. On a visit to KC earlier this year, the Ravens managed to win the game 9-6. This is a venue call; I like the Chargers to win the game.
SF at New Orleans (no lines): Given the way the Niners defense played against the Bears on Monday, they looked like the best team in the NFC. Here on a short week, they travel to New Orleans to take on a team that does know how to move the ball and how to score. It will be interesting to see two things about the Niners:
Can that dominant defense show up two weeks in a row?
Who will play QB for the Niners?
This is another of the top three games of the week. The Saints have this important game and another one as a return match with the Falcons on tap. Oftentimes, I tell you not to watch a game or to bet on it. For this game, I would tell you to watch the game no matter what; and if you find you cannot bet on the game, take that as a blessing so you can watch the game just for the pure enjoyment this one should provide.
St Louis at Arizona – 2 (37.5): Will Ryan Lindley be the QB for the Cards again this week? Does it matter? Will the Rams stink out the joint as they did against the Jets last week or was that an aberration? This is a division game between two teams that had some hopes back in September before reality set in. I agree this will be a low-scoring game and so I’ll take the Rams plus the points. Remember, the deal here is that I have to make a pick in every game…
Green Bay at Giants – 2.5 (49.5): This is the third of the top three games of the week. The Packers’ OL is a patchwork unit at the moment. If the Giants are going into their typical “stretch-run-mode”, their defensive line needs to dominate this game and make Aaron Rodgers into a merely above-average QB. The Giants had a BYE Week to get their heads straight and their bodies healed a bit. A win for the Giants puts them in a good position to get a BYE Week in the playoffs – something they do not have right now. I think this is the week that Eli Manning wakes up from his month-long nap. I like the Giants to win and cover.
Carolina at Philly (no lines): The execs at ESPN cannot be thrilled about this MNF matchup; if there were really “Truth In Advertising” this game would be marketed as The Roadkill Bowl. The teams bring a combined 5-15 record to the table. The Eagles hoped to be superlative this season. They have been superlative; they are the NFL’s biggest disappointment. Both teams here have demonstrated the ability to fashion a come-from-ahead-loss. That could make things interesting in the fourth quarter… You might consider a side bet to this game:
Which coach – Ron Rivera or Andy Reid – will be fired first?
This is one of those “do not bet” games; since it is the only game on Monday, you might force yourself to watch it but this is not “Must See TV”. The Panthers have scored more points than the Eagles this season and they have allowed fewer points than the Eagles this season. Yes, they are on the road, but Philly fans are not going to be happy to see the hometown heroes in this sorry condition. My gut tells me that the Eagles will lose this game – - not that the Panthers will win it – - and then go on to lose out for the rest of the season.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………