First, let us look at how last week’s Mythical Picks fared:
I liked Steelers/Vikes UNDER 42. Not even close. No!
I liked Vikes +3 against Steelers. Vikes won outright. Yes!
I liked Ravens -3 over Bills. Bills won outright. No!
I liked Bengals-4 over Browns. Browns won outright. No!
I liked Colts -8 over Jags. Colts won by 34. Yes!
I liked Seahawks -2.5 over Texans. Seahawks covered. Yes!
I liked Seahawks/Texans OVER 41.5. Game went Over. Double Yes!
I liked Cards/Bucs UNDER 40.5. Total score was 23. Yes!
I liked Bears +3 against Lions. Lions won outright. No!
I liked Chiefs -4 over Giants. Chiefs won by 24. Yes!
I liked Jets +4 against Titans. Titans won by 25. No!
I liked Chargers +2.5 against Cowboys. Chargers won by 9. Yes!
I liked Raiders +3.5 against Redskins. Not enough points. No!
I liked Broncos -10.5 over Eagles. Broncos won by 32. Yes!
I liked Broncos/Eagles OVER 58.5. Total score was 72. Double Yes!
I liked Pats/Falcons UNDER 50. Total score was 53. No!
I liked Saints -6.5 over Dolphins. Saints won by 21. Yes!
I liked Saints/Dolphins OVER 47.5. Total score was 55. Double Yes!
This was a mythically profitable week – the first one of the year. The weekly tally was 11-7. Thus begins my slow climb from a level of abject failure towards the first objective – reaching .500 for the cumulative picks of the season. As of this morning, the cumulative record now stands at 27-40-1.
Just in case someone might misinterpret the words of the numbers in the paragraph above, no one should take anything here as authoritative information regarding this week’s NFL games. Only a dolt would use this content as the basis for making a real wager involving real money on an actual NFL game this weekend. Here is how dumb one would have to be to do something like that:
When presented with the choice between two evils, you choose “Both!”
Maybe I am a dumbass, but I do not understand something I read on CBSsports.com earlier this week. Niners’ safety, Donte Whitner, is going to go to court to have his name changed to Donte Hitner. We have gone through this before with Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Johnson; we could dismiss that because Chad Whomever was a certified flake and a prototypical “look-at-me” person. However, in Whitner’s case, the reason for the name change makes little sense to me; here is what was on CBSspsorts.com:
“Donte Whitner tweeted out that he’s legally changing his name to ‘Donte Hitner’ because he’s sick of being fined for what he thinks are legal hits.”
He cannot possibly believe that changing his name will have an effect on the folks at NFL HQS who adjudicate what is a legal and illegal hit – - can he? If he does, then he would be even dumber than someone who take these Mythical Picks and use them for actual betting purposes.
After the Browns won their second game in a row last weekend, I went back to find some of the things that folks said about the Browns tanking the season in the wake of the Trent Richardson trade. The main thrust of most of that thinking was that the Browns would use their own high pick to take a franchise QB next year or – if their pick was not high enough – then use the pick from the Colts to trade up to the level they needed to be at to “get their guy”. That may have been the case; that may still be the case; we will know much more next May. If in fact, that is the “secret plan” of the Browns’ braintrust, Browns’ fans have to hope that the group currently in charge of the team has a better instinct for quarterbacking than previous incumbents. Since the Browns rejoined the league as an expansion franchise in the late 90s, they have had a parade of mediocrity at QB. I have constructed this list from memory, so I have surely missed some of the guys the Browns have started at QB in the last decade or so:
That is a pretty bleak list…
Here is a stat I ran across last week that is most unimpressive if you are a St. Louis Rams’ fan:
In each of the first four games of this season, the Rams have trailed by double-digits in each one of them.
The Rams came back to win their opening game against the Cardinals. However, since then they have been outscored 97-42. The Rams face the Jags this weekend in the Stink-a-Rini Game of the Week. Since the Jags have failed to score 10 points in three of their four outings this year, it might be difficult for the Rams to keep up this string of infamous performances…
Speaking of the Jags, they made a trade late this week sending OT, Eugene Monroe to the Ravens for a fourth and a fifth round pick in next year’s draft. Monroe was drafted 8th overall by the Jags in 2009; he missed all of the 2012 season with an injury but was the starting LT for the Jags this year; he is only 26 years old. This trade means one of two things to me:
1. Monroe was about to become a free agent and would likely attract attention from other clubs next spring. More than likely, Jax would have to pay extra to keep him with that team and this was a way for the Jags to get something for him.
2. The Jags recognize that this squad is awful and needs lots of new bodies to compete and the way to do that is to trade off assets to get extra draft picks.
If the Jags trade away Maurice Jones-Drew before the trade deadline, I will lean toward #2 above.
Last week, one of the offshore sportsbooks that offers odds on the eventual Super Bowl winner in February had the Jags at 5000-1. This week, that same sportsbook has taken the Jags off the board; they are not taking bets on the Jags anymore.
Last week, the Jags were steamrollered by the Colts 37-3. Blaine Gabbert was back in control of the offense – such as it is – and went 17 for 32 with 3 INTs. Maurice Jones-Drew ran the ball 13 times for 23 yards. For the first four games of the season, Jags QBs have thrown a total of 1 TD pass – ONE.
After the Chiefs carved up the Giants to send the Giants to an 0-4 record for the first time since 1987, Antrel Rolle took umbrage at the criticism that his Giants’ team took. Rolle tweeted that he thinks the Giants can go 12-0 from this point and finish the season at 12-4.
Memo to Antrel Rolle: Expect a visit from the NFL folks who administer random drug tests sometime very soon.
In losing to the Chiefs, the Giants converted only 1 out of 14 third down situations. It seems as if the Giants use each week as an opportunity to demonstrate a new way to screw up and failing on third down plays was last week’s demonstration.
The Chiefs are off to a 4-0 start to the 2013 season and doubled the number of wins for all of last year before the calendar turned from September to October. The Chiefs are playing well but allow me one cautionary note:
Three of the Chiefs wins have come at the expense of the four teams in the NFC East. Let me merely suggest that there are no juggernauts in that particular division.
The fourth win came at the expense of the Jags – a team that might be considered a semi-pro team by the time the 2013 season comes to a close.
The Pats beat the Falcons in Atlanta last week 30-23. As a result of that game, Tom Brady made NFL history. According to a stat I ran across:
Tom Brady is the only QB in NFL history to have more than 100 wins than losses as a starter.
With the win over the Falcons, his record as a starter is 140 – 39.
The Redskins spotted the Raiders two early TDs and came back to win that game 24-14. Matt Flynn started at QB because Terrelle Pryor had a concussion the week before and the Raiders held him out of the game. Flynn was awful. Matt Flynn started a game for the Packers and set a team record passing for 480 yards in one of those meaningless late season games where the Packers were resting their starters. Then he signed a big free agent contract with Seattle in 2012 that reportedly guaranteed him $10M. When he lost the starting job in Seattle to Russell Wilson, the Seahawks traded him to the Raiders for a fifth round pick in 2014 and a conditional pick in the 2015 draft.
Memo to Matt Flynn: Invest that $10M wisely. You have no more NFL paydays of that kind in your future.
The Titans clobbered the Jets 38-7. There was some good news and some bad news for the Jets in that game:
Good News: Geno Smith was 23 for 24 for 289 yards.
Bad News: Geno Smith threw 2 INTs and fumbled twice.
By the way, Geno Smith has turned the ball over 11 times in 4 games (8 INTs and 3 lost fumbles). I know Jets’ fans might not want to hear this but those stats look very “Sanchez-like”. And the NYC tabloids are all over this matter. Here is a headline from the NY Post earlier this week:
“Rex can’t be afraid to bench Smith for Simms”
More ominous for the Jets is that their defense could not stop Jake Locker and/or Ryan Fitzpatrick once Locker had to leave the game. The Jets are not likely to beat anyone in the NFL if they give up 38 points.
In the first of the season’s “London games”, the Vikings beat the Steelers. Neither team looked particularly good in this game but the Vikings are no longer listed among the “winless teams for 2013”. The Steelers at 0-4 are squarely on that list; by the way, the last time the Steelers opened a season with four straight losses was in 1968.
The Steelers are 0-4 and Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked more often than any QB in the NFL this year.
The Giants are 0-4 and Eli Manning has thrown more INTs than any QB in the NFL this year.
In case you were looking for a recipe leading to losing football seasons…
The Bills beat the Ravens 23-20. The Ravens somehow managed to make this a close game despite Joe Flacco throwing 5 INTs in the game. Another bad thing happened to the Ravens in that game; the Bills ran the ball very effectively on the Ravens’ defense.
The Chargers beat the Cowboys 30-21. Midway through the second quarter, the Cowboys led 21-10 and never scored again. Philip Rivers threw for 401 yards and 3 TDs; he completed 83.3% of his passes. The Chargers added 112 yards rushing to the mix as they shredded the Cowboys’ defense.
The Broncos beat the Eagles 52-20. I wonder if it was actually that close. Peyton Manning was 28-34 for 327 yards and 4 TDs. That gives him 16 TD passes this season without throwing an INT. That ties an NFL record for most TD passes prior to an INT for a season; the co-holder of the record is Milt Plum with the Cleveland Browns back in 1960. That may or may not impress you but here is a stat that should make you sit up and take notice:
Peyton Manning has thrown 16 TD passes in 4 games this year.
No other team has scored more than 15 TDs in 4 games this year.
The Broncos had scored 179 points in 4 games; that projects pretty easily to 716 points for a season. The NFL record for points scored in a season by a team belongs to the 2007 New England Patriots; they scored 589 points. The Broncos are on pace to eclipse that record sometime in the 14th game of this season.
As I have pointed out several times in these Mythical Picks essays, the Eagles’ defense is porous; the secondary cannot cover and does not tackle.
After leading 20-3 in the second half, the Texans gave away a Pick Six to force the game to OT and then lost on a field goal. That was the 3rd consecutive game where Matt Schaub had thrown a Pick Six and it has led to this offering from a restaurant in Houston:
You can buy a “Matt Schaub Burger”. With it, you can Pick Six toppings … and … you will pay dearly for them.
The gallows humor of that particular restaurant is cute. The real question is how the Texans will react/respond to such a dispiriting loss.
The Browns beat the Bengals last week by a score of 17-6 and Browns’ TE, Jordan Cameron caught 10 passes bringing his total for the year to 30. The Bengals’ offense seemed terribly out of sync in the game – or was it the play of the Browns’ defense that put them out of sync…?
Tampa Bay led the Cards for most of the game. Rookie QB, Mike Glennon, threw two late INTs leading to a comeback by the Cards to win the game 13-10. Rumor has it that Josh Freeman was “forced” to watch the game from a suite in the stadium instead of from the sidelines with the rest of the squad. Bucs’ coach Greg Schiano said that the decision for Freeman to sit up “in the stands” was a “mutual decision” made between him and Freeman. Given the obvious schism between these two individuals, why do I not believe that?
Finally, this morning there might actually be a resolution to the soap opera in Tampa. The Bucs announced that they released Josh Freeman. I suspect that Greg Schiano has “crossed the Rubicon” in Tampa with that move. If the team does not show marked improvement now that Freeman – and all if his “issues” and “distractions” are removed from the equation -, it may just be Schiano who is next to be released.
By the way, just as Geno Smith seems to be “Sanchez-like” with all of his turnovers this year, what Mike Glennon did with those two late INTs was extremely “Freeman-like”. Just saying…
The Lions beat the Bears 40-32 and Jay Cutler’s evil twin showed up to play QB for the Bears. “Evil twin” Cutler tossed 3 INTs and lost a sack-fumble for a TD in the game.
The Saints beat the Dolphins 38-17; and in the process, the Saints demonstrated that they are “for real” this year. Last year, the Saints’ defense was the worst in the league by a sizable margin; this year, the defense is stopping people. There was never a serious question about the Saints’ ability to score points but the emergence of Jimmy Graham as the best tight end in the NFL – or at the very least one of the Top 3 – makes the Saint’s offense as potent as the one that took the team all the way to a Super Bowl championship.
Last night’s Browns/Bills game was hardly “QB friendly”. The Browns lost Brian Hoyer early in the game; the Bills lost EJ Manuel later in the game. Nonetheless, the offenses for both teams were on display last night with a final score of 37-24 in favor of the Browns – who by the way have now won three straight games.
The bye weeks continue and the teams absent from action this week all need to regroup. The winless Steelers and the winless Bucs get the week off. The Redskins have one win (over the hapless Raiders) and the Vikings have one win (over the winless Steelers).
All four teams can use a bye week here.
KC – 3 at Tennessee (39): The Chiefs at 4-0 are a positive surprise team for their fans. The Titans at 3-1 are a positive surprise team for their fans. Recall that the loss on the Titans’ record was an OT loss to Houston in Week 2. If the Titans go with a conservative game plan due to the absence of Jake Locker (not a surprising choice for the Titans’ coaching staff), this game could turn into a defensive/field position kind of game. Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler might look down and start smiling. I would not wager on this game for real; but since the protocol here requires a selection in each game, I’ll take the Titans plus the points.
Baltimore at Miami – 3 (43): The Ravens’ offense needs to get itself on track. Even in games the Ravens won this year, the offense has had dull periods. The Browns shut out the Ravens for a half and it was a defensive score plus a special teams score that managed to beat the Texans. The Miami defense is good; the Ravens’ offense needs to wake up here. I think this will be a defensive/low-scoring game and so I’ll take the Ravens plus the points.
Jax at St. Louis – 11.5 (42.5): If you watch this game, you have masochism problems and need to seek help. If you wager on this game you have a gambling problem and need to seek help. Here is the only reason I can think of to watch this game:
Are the Rams sufficiently inept to allow the Jags to keep the game closer than double digits?
The Jags have not done that yet this year and with the Broncos, Chargers and Niners up next, it might be a while until the Jags have another such opportunity.
The Rams are a mess too. They have had 10 days to prepare for this game – and with the Jags as an opponent that seems like a waste of a long week of preparation. The Rams’ pass rush ought to have a good day here. I hate to lay double-digit points and I refuse to lay them with a team as bad as the Rams have been. I will not take the Jags on the road against any pro team with less than 17 points. Therefore, I have to figure out what the scoring in this game will be like; can the Rams put up enough points to take the game OVER if the Jags continue to stay at 10 points or less as their level of production? Only because I said I would make a pick in every game, I’ll take this stinkeroo to stay UNDER.
New England at Cincy – 1 (45): This is certainly one of the Top 3 Games of the Week. The last four times the Bengals played against a QB who had won a Super Bowl, they came away winners; they have beaten Ben Roethlisberger (twice), Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers. Now, here comes Tom Brady… The loss of Vince Wilfork in the middle of the Pats’ defense is a significant loss. I think this game might turn into a shoot-out and in that kind of game I like Tom Brady’s chances better than Andy Dalton’s. I’ll take the Pats plus the point and I’ll take the game to go OVER.
Seattle – 2.5 at Indy (44): Here is another of the Top 3 Games of the Week. You just know that the announcers are going to try to bill this as a game between “Kid Quarterbacks” and come up with cutesy descriptions of them needing time outs and all that nonsense. I hope they gag on that silliness. The Seahawks traditionally do not travel well, but they are 2-0 on the road this year. The Colts have shown variety in their game this year; everything does not come down to Andrew Luck forging a miraculous drive in the 4th quarter of the game to get a win. The Colts’ rush defense will be tested by Marshawn Lynch here but remember that that same rush defense stood up to Frank Gore and the Niners a couple weeks ago. Purely a hunch, but I’ll take the Seahawks and lay the points – even on the road.
Detroit at Green Bay – 8 (53): If the Lions want to be taken seriously as contenders in the NFC North, they need to follow up on their win over the Bears last week with a top-flight showing on the road here. The Packers have had the week off hopefully to try to address a couple of issues:
The Pack red zone offense has been strangely inefficient so far
The defensive secondary gives up yards by the bushel.
However, one thing that the Packers did not have to spend a lot of time on was the fact that the Lions are now 2-0 in the NFC North and the Packers are 0-0. I think both offenses will feast on the defenses in this game. I do not like the idea of laying more than a TD’s worth of points in this game but I also do not yet trust the Lions as a road team. Rather, I will take this game to go OVER.
New Orleans at Chicago “pick ‘em” (48): These teams are a combined 7-1 for the season and the game is not one of the “Top 3 Games of the Week”? Well, that gives you an idea how good the matchups this week are… I think this game could become an “ego battle” between Jay Cutler and Drew Brees. [“Okay, I saw that, now take a look at this throw…”] If that happens, this game might have a Total Score in the 60s and the winner will be the team that creates a big turnover late in the game. Rather than guess which team that might be, I’ll take the game to go OVER.
Philly at Giants – 2 (54): Let me cut to the chase here… Neither of these teams is any good; the only reason this game is interesting is that it is a division game and every team in the division is not any good. Ergo, the winner here takes a step toward being the least worst team in the division meaning they get to host a playoff game. Oh swell… The team that makes the last mistake here will lose the game. I have flipped a coin here in Curmudgeon Central and the coin says to take the Eagles plus the points.
Carolina – 1 at Arizona (42): This is a plain vanilla game. There is no particular attractiveness to it but there is also no reason to avert your eyes. The Panthers are coming off their bye week; the Cardinals are coming off a come from behind win over the winless Bucs. I will not be watching this game but I will have my eye on the crawl at the bottom of the screen to check the score as it evolves. I’ll take the Panthers to win and cover.
San Diego – 4 at Oakland (45): This game will start at 8:30 PM in the Pacific Time Zone meaning that if I want to watch it the kickoff will be at 11:30 PM in the East. The time change is due to the Oakland A’s having a playoff game in the same stadium and the time it takes to covert the field from baseball to football. Philip Rivers is playing the way he did several years ago; he looks like a QB that can grab hold of a game by the throat and make the game submit to his will. He has not looked that way for the last two years. The Raiders expect to have Terrelle Pryor back at QB here and that has to be a plus compared to the way Matt Flynn wet the bed last week against the Redskins. The flip side of that is that Darren McFadden is injured once again. [This guy spends more time in a repair shop than a 20-year old Yugo.] The way this game unfolds depends a lot on who can play at or near normal efficiency for the Raiders. They might keep it close; they might get blown out. I am flipping a coin here and the coin says to take the Chargers and lay the points. Even on the road? Whatever…
Denver – 7 at Dallas (55.5): These lines are all over the place. As of this morning, I can find Denver as a 7-point favorite at a couple of places and a 9-point favorite at one other. And there are spreads in between those two extremes. The Total Line has variance too. I can find it as low as 55 this morning and as high as 57. The Cowboys’ defense ranks 28th in the league even though they have not played against Peyton Manning this year. Ooops, he is coming to town this week. The best reason to check out this game is Peyton Manning and his pass catchers. If the Cowboys’ secondary does not play a lot better than they did against the Chargers last week, this game will be out of control very quickly. I like the Broncos to win and cover here and I like this game to go OVER. I would not be surprised to see a final score something like 45-31.
(Sun Nite) Houston at SF – 6.5 (41.5): This game completes the trifecta of the Top 3 Games of the Week. The Niners will know the results of the Seattle/Indy game prior to kickoff; either outcome for that game should provide the Niners with motivation here. This game is an important one for the Niners who have to chase down the Seahawks because they get a slight breather in the schedule for the next month facing the Cards, Titans, Jags and Panthers in their next four games. The Texans lost a game last week to the Seahawks that they never should have lost. The pivotal Pick Six play was a bad call from the beginning and then Matt Schaub executed it about as badly as one might imagine. I think the Niners’ defense will be able to control the Texans’ offense better than the Texans’ defense can control the Niners’ offense. I’ll take the Niners to win and cover at home.
(Mon Nite) Jets at Atlanta – 9 (43.5): If this were a Sunday game, it would not be a game I would tune in to see; this would be the game I flipped to during time-outs hoping to miss some stupid commercial. However, on Monday night … This is a must-win game for the Falcons; they are at home and if they lose here, they run the risk of falling out of the NFC South division race. Geno Smith is averaging almost 3 turnovers per game; I do not think the Jets are good enough to overcome that kind of performance this week; he needs to “get it right” this time. If both Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill are really injured and cannot play in this game, Geno Smith might be waaay over his head. For a game that looks to be low scoring (the Jets’ defense is a good defense) that is a very fat line. I’ll take the Jets plus the points.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………