As usual, I need to see how last week’s Mythical Picks turned out:
I liked Panthers/Bucs UNDER 40.5. The game went Over. No!
I liked Niners -16.5 over Jags. Niners won by 32. Yes!
I liked Cowboys +3.5 against Lions. Cowboys lost by only 1. Yes!
I liked Giants/Eagles OVER 53. Not even close. No!
I liked Chiefs -7.5 over Browns. Chiefs won by only 6. No!
I liked Saints -11.5 over Bills. Saints won by 18. Yes!
I liked Dolphins +6.5 against Pats. Not enough points. No!
I liked Bengals/Jets OVER 41. Bengals went Over by themselves. Yes!
I liked Bengals -6 Over Jets. Bengals won by 40. Double Yes!!
I liked Raiders +2.5 over Steelers. Raiders won the game. Yes!
I liked Redskins/Broncos OVER 58. Game went Over. Yes!
I liked Falcons +2.5 against Cards. Cards won by 14. No!
I liked Packers/Vikes OVER 47. Total score was 75. Yes!
I liked Seahawks -10.5 over Rams. Seahawks did not cover. No!
Last week was a winning week for Mythical Picks with an overall record of 8 – 6. Lest I bask in the glory of a winning week too long, let me remind everyone that the cumulative record for NFL Mythical Picks so far this season stands at a miserable 48-78-2.
Despite a mythical winning week last week, no one should think of using any information here as the basis for making a real wager on an actual NFL game this weekend if said wager involves any actual negotiable currency. Anyone who would do that would have an SAT score approximately equal to the jersey number worn by your typical NFL running back.
The Washington Redskins led the Denver Broncos 21-7 (thanks to two defensive plays early in the third quarter and four turnovers by Peyton Manning) but things turned ugly quickly for the burgundy and gold. In the final 20-25 minutes of the game, the Broncos outscored the Skins 38-0. From the point where the Skins led 21-7, the Skins had 8 possessions; here is a breakdown of those 7 possessions:
1 possession lasted 8 plays
1 possession lasted 4 plays
1 possession lasted 5 plays
3 possessions lasted 3 plays
2 possessions lasted 2 plays
If that is not bad enough, the total offensive output for the Skins in the second half was 109 yards. Moreover, the last four possessions for the Skins in the second half ended in an interception.
As ugly as those stats are, the Eagles’ showing against the Giants was worse. Remember the forecast that Chip Kelly’s “Warp 9 Offense” was going to revolutionize the way offensive football happened in the NFL? Well, last weekend’s performance was pretty pedestrian. The Eagles total offense was 201 yards for the day; they ran the ball 19 times for a grand total of 48 yards; they turned the ball over 3 times. More interesting to me is the fact that the Giants ran off 71 plays while the Eagles “Warp 9 Offense” managed to run off only 56. I do not recall anyone suggesting that Tom Coughlin’s offense breezed along at “Warp 11”…
The Eagles will put Nick Foles back in as the starting QB this week since he passed the “concussion tests” required by the new league protocols and Matt Barkley will take a seat on the bench.
One more Eagles’ note – sort of … Former Eagles’ WR, Freddie Mitchell, will be a guest in the Crossbars Hilton for the next 37 months after a conviction in a fraud case where he and 2 co-defendants tried to scam $2M from the IRS – of all places. Here is a link to a story about all this; if you read it, you might want to think about what might have ever led these guys to think this might actually work…
As to the Giants, they are on a 2-game winning streak after starting the season at 0-6. More importantly, they are only 2 games behind the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys at this point and the Giants have the Cowboys one more time this year. The NFC East will be won by the least worst team there…
The Bills gave effort against the Saints but the Bills are not nearly good enough as a team to go into the Superdome, turn the ball over 3 times to the Saints and come out with a win.
The Jags were simply no match for the Niners in London – or anywhere on Planet Earth for that matter. The Niners ran the ball 38 times gaining 221 yards; that is 5.8 yards per carry. The score was 28-3 at halftime but the Jags did manage a TD in the second half to get them into double-digits for the day.
Before giving way in the fourth quarter, Jets’ QB, Geno Smith, found a way to throw a pair of Pick Sixes while the Bengals’ defense smothered the entire Jets’ offense for the day holding the Jets to 243 yards on offense. The final score, 49-9, accurately reflects what happened in this game.
By the way, please raise your hand if you had the following back in August:
At the halfway mark in the 2013 NFL season, the division leader with the largest lead over division rivals would be the Cincy Bengals in the AFC North.
I did not…
Another team that is doing significantly better than I thought they would back in August is the Oakland Raiders. After their win over the Steelers last week, they have a 3-4 record and what looks to be a pretty cushy schedule in front of them between now and December 15 when they host the KC Chiefs. Between now and that game in December, here is the schedule:
That schedule will rack up a ton of frequent flyer miles for the Raiders, but there are no top-shelf teams on that list. As of this morning, the cumulative record for those six opponents is a meager 18-28. The Raiders could be 7-6 or even 8-5 when they take on the Chiefs in December…
The Steelers are a mess. They do not throw the ball well; they do not run the ball well; the defense is not good enough to make up for those offensive deficiencies. The Steelers are 2.5 games behind the Bengals in the AFC North and are in last place in that division. I do not know if they need to “win out” to make the playoffs, but they do not have a lot of room for error left.
The Falcons are also a mess and it is possible that they cannot overcome their current situation because of injuries. Roddy White did not play again last week; Julio Jones is out for the year. That reduces the Falcons’ threat for a vertical passing game allowing defenses to play the run hard. Last week against the Cards, the Falcons ran the ball 14 times for a total of 27 yards. That just don’t feed the bulldog… Oh, and committing 10 penalties in that same game did not help the Falcons’ cause either.
The Falcons are 2-5 and are looking at a second-half schedule that would be formidable even if they had all their players healthy and ready. Still on their dance card are the Niners, Seahawks, Packers and Saints. Things could get ugly in Atlanta…
By now, you have to have seen the final couple of plays in the Lions/Cowboys game on ESPN or NFL Network at least 100 times; and you have to know that Calvin Johnson had 329 yards receiving in the game – the second highest total in NFL history. Forget about the Dez Bryant emoting on the sidelines; the story here is about the singularly bad pass defense for the Cowboys. In recent times, the Cowboys have spent heavily on their defensive secondary. They paid Orlando Scandrick a bunch of money and they spent a high draft pick on Morris Claiborne and they spent a lot of money to sign Brandon Carr. Nonetheless, that secondary has been torched 4 times this year for 400+ yards passing in a game. The Cowboys have 8 games left to play this year and no team in NFL history has ever given up 400 yards passing 5 ties in the same year…
The Dolphins jumped out to a 17-3 halftime lead over the Pats and then proceeded to score nothing more in the second half losing the game 27-17. Then after the game, the team got one of those dreaded “distractions”. Law enforcement officials served Dolphins OL, Mike Pouncey, with a grand jury summons related to the Aaron Hernandez investigation. I have no idea what the grand jury summons has to do with Pouncey or how he might be linked to the Aaron Hernandez matter – but if you want to explain the concept of an “outside distraction” for a football team, this would be a good example.
The Colts had the week off but given the state of the AFC South, here is a prop bet to consider:
The Colts will have the AFC South Championship assured by December 1st:
The Texans also had the week off; nevertheless, Dwight Perry found a way to make reference to the Texans in the Seattle Times:
“Singer Wayne Newton’s yacht unexpectedly sank at a Lake Mead marina.
“Newton immediately rechristened it the SS Houston Texans.”
Six teams have byes this week. The Jaguars will have the happiest Monday of the season next week not having lost on Sunday.
The Cardinals’ 4-4 record would have them tied for first in the NFC East – but puts them 3 games behind the Seahawks and 2 games behind the Niners in the NFC West.
The Broncos can use the week off to hone their offensive skills since their scoring average has dropped below 43 points per game now.
The Lions can take an extra week to look at the film of that game against the Cowboys last week and feel good about themselves.
The Giants can sit back and watch the rest of the NFC East teams play this week and see what sort of blooper highlight reel entries those teams can come up with.
The Niners take a 5-game win streak with them into their bye week; that has to be a good feeling.
(Thurs Nite) Cincy – 3 at Miami (43): One of the Bengals’ strengths is their defensive line; one of the Dolphins’ weaknesses is their offensive line. Adding to the Dolphins OL woes this week are reports that OT, Jonathon Martin, has gone AWOL from the team after being the victim of a prank in the team cafeteria. If that is what follows, “Once upon a time…”, the story is not likely to have a happy ending. That should give you a hint how I am leaning in this game. The Dolphins have lost 4 games in a row and cannot afford another loss here. Meanwhile the Bengals want to keep the pedal to the floor and maintain their 2.5 game lead in their division. I like the Bengals to win and cover here.
Atlanta at Carolina – 7.5 (43.5): The Panthers have some extra rest here coming off the Thursday night game last week while the Falcons have to go on the road for their second consecutive game. The Panthers’ defense is rock solid; the Falcons’ defense is light and airy. Matt Ryan is the better QB, but Cam Newton shows signs that he now gets the concept that playing QB at the NFL level involves physical and mental skills. I do not like that half-point hook on the spread line, but I think there is a real possibility that the Panthers lay the wood to the Falcons here. So, I’ll take the Panthers at home and lay the points.
Minnesota at Dallas – 10.5 (47.5): The Vikings’ pass offense is pretty bad – but so is the Cowboys’ pass defense [see above]. The Vikings defense gives up 32.5 points per game while the Cowboys’ offense is worth just under 30 points per game. As of yesterday evening, Leslie Frazer said that he was not ready to announce who would start at QB for the Vikings in this game. Given the way the Vikes’ three QBs have played this year, he could pick a name from a hat because those three are the “Manny, Moe and Jack” of NFL QBs. Only if Tony Romo’s evil twin shows up for this game will the score be close. I’ll take the Cowboys and lay the points. I also like this game to go OVER.
New Orleans – 6.5 at Jets (45.5): This line opened the week at 3.5 points and jumped up to this level very quickly. No offense to Andy Dalton – by the way, I think he is a very good QB – but if he can light up the Jets’ defense, what might Drew Brees do to that same unit? Ever since the Ryan brothers have reached the level of coordinators, they have played each other 4 times and Rex has won all 4 encounters. I think the Jets’ defense has too much pride and too much talent to put out another stinker like they did last week. Purely a hunch, but I’ll take the Jets at home plus the points.
Tennessee – 3.5 at St. Louis (39.5): Can Kellen Clemens play as well this week as he did last week against the Seahawks? That would seem to be the great unknown in this game. There will not be a lot of points on the scoreboard here. I am flipping a coin here in Curmudgeon Central and the coin says to take the Rams plus the points. Why not? These are Mythical Picks…
KC – 3.5 at Buffalo (40.5): The Totals Line opened the week at 42.5 and has dropped steadily all week. Like the bettors, I think this will be a low scoring game for two reasons:
The KC defense should put the clamps on the Buffalo offense.
The KC offense only averages 24 points per game.
Mitigating those indicators of a low-scoring game is the fact that the Bills give up an average of almost 27 points per game and have not held any opponent under 20 points all season long. However, flying under the radar is former overall #1 pick, Mario Williams, who has 11 sacks in 8 games this year. My gut tells me to take the Bills plus the points because this game will indeed be a low-scoring affair.
San Diego – 1 at Washington (50.5): The Chargers have to fly to the East Coast for another “early game” here. They have done that twice already this year and won both of those games; is this the one where they regress to the mean? Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ passing game will test the Skins’ defense. The Chargers’ defense will likely give up more than the 20 points per game they have averaged so far this season. I like this game to go OVER.
Philly at Oakland – 2.5 (45): The luster of the “Chip Kelly Era” in Philly is gone. If the Eagles are going to succeed with his style of offense, the roster needs a serious makeover on offense and much better players on defense. The Eagles have not scored an offensive TD in 2 games; they are flying 3000 miles to play this game in a place where they have not performed well in the past. If you watched the Eagles game last week at home, you would not dare take them on the road this week. At the same time, the Raiders are not a dominant team; in fact, it might be polite to call them merely “inconsistent”. I really do not like the spread in this game so I’ll take the game to stay UNDER with the idea that both offenses will find enough ways to avoid scoring to keep both teams around 20 points in the game.
Tampa at Seattle – 16 (40.5): Let me sum this game up for you succinctly:
Bucs start a rookie QB who has been tres ordinaire so far this year.
Seahawks have one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
I think the most important thing to watch for here is the effort on the part of the Bucs. A couple years ago, the Bucs quit on then-coach Rahim Morris leading to his departure from Tampa; the question now centers on the degree to which the team continues to respond with energy and effort to Greg Schiano. I think Seattle will roll here – and perhaps score on defense too – so I’ll take the game to go OVER.
Baltimore – 2.5 at Cleveland (41): It took a while for the Browns’ coaches to start Jason Campbell at QB, but he really is the best QB they had on the roster since the start of the season. Neither team seems to be able to run the ball very well. I’ll take this game to stay UNDER.
Pittsburgh at New England – 6.5 (44): The Steelers do not rush the passer very well; the Pats’ defense is a patchwork unit that seems to be held together with spit and bailing wire. Very simply, I think this will be an offensive game. So, I’ll take the game to go OVER.
(Sun Nite) Indy – 2.5 at Houston (44.5): Both teams come to this game from their BYE week. Case Keenum starts for the Texans over a nominally healthy Matt Schaub. It was only last year that the Texans signed Schaub to a contract extension; now, with half of this season left to go, the signal here is that Schaub is the odd man out in Houston unless case Keenum seriously soils the sheets in consecutive games. I think Andrew Luck will be able to move the ball effectively against the Texans’ defense; with regard to Case Keenum, the jury is still out. I’ll take the Colts and lay the points – despite the fact that this game is in Houston and the Texans are the desperate team.
(Mon Nite) Chicago at Green Bay – 10.5 (50): This is the only game on the card for this weekend where both teams enter the game with a winning record. The Bears had last week to get Josh McCown ready for his start here; the Packers still have Aaron Rodgers to play QB for them this week. This year’s iteration of the Packers can run the football between the tackles; Eddie Lacy looks like a big addition for the Packers; meanwhile, the DL for the Bears is an injury-riddled unit. I do not want to take the Bears here but I do not like that half-point hook in the spread line so I’ll take this game to go OVER.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………