Mythical Picks – NFL – Weekend of 12/15/13

Given the way these things have been going this season, the question of the moment has to be: How badly did I embarrass myself with last week’s Mythical Picks?

    I liked Jags +3 against Texans. Jags won the game outright. Yes!

    I liked Chiefs -3 over Redskins. Chiefs won by 5 TDs. Yes!

    I liked Chiefs/Skins OVER 44.5. Chiefs went OVER by themselves. Yes!

    I liked Ravens -6.5 over Vikes. Ravens won by only 3. No!

    I liked Pats -11.5 over Browns. Pats won by only 1. No!

    I liked Raiders +3 against Jets. Jets won by 10. No!

    I liked Raiders/Jets UNDER 40.5. Total score was 64. Double No!!

    I liked Colts +6 against Bengals. Bengals won by 14. No!

    I liked Saints -3 over Panthers. Saints covered easily. Yes!

    I liked Saints/Panthers OVER 45.5. Total score was 44. No!

    I liked Lions +3 against Eagles. Not nearly enough points. No!

    I liked Lions/Eagles OVER 54. The game was a Push.

    I liked Steelers +3 against Dolphins. Steelers lost by 6. No!

    I liked Bucs -2.5 over Bills. Bucs won by 3 TDs. Yes!

    I liked Broncos -12 over Titans. Broncos won by 23. Yes!

    I liked Rams +6.5 over Cardinals. Cards won by 20. No!

    I liked Chargers -3 over Giants. Chargers won by 23. Yes!

    I liked Seahawks/Niners OVER 41. Total score was 36. No!

    I liked Niners -2.5 over Seahawks. Niners won by 2. Double No!

    I liked Packers -1 over Falcons. The game was a Push.

    I liked Bears/Cowboys over 49.5. Total score was 73. Yes!

So, last week’s Mythical Picks went 8 – 11 – 2. While that is hardly “profitable” and is certainly not anything to be proud of, I do have to say that there have been significantly worse weeks of mythical picking this year. The season record now stands at 86-133-7. There is no polite way to describe that record. It just stinks!

Clearly, no one would want to use any information that follows here as the basis for making any decisions regarding a real wager on a real football game that involved actual coin of the realm. Anyone stupid enough to do that would try to enlist in the Bolivian Coast Guard..

General Comments:

    Bonus NCAA Football Insert:

    The Linfield College Wildcats lost their Division III playoff game last week to Wisconsin-Whitewater by a score of 28-17. The Wildcats season ends with an 11-1 record, which is their 58th consecutive winning season in football extending a streak that goes back to 1956.

The Jags best the Texans last Thursday night in a most dreadful game. The Texans outgained the Jags by 125 yards; the Texans held the ball more than 35 minutes; the Texans held the Jags to 4-14 on third down situations. And they lost the game… Do you think maybe those 14 penalties totaling 177 yards had something to do with that; they gave the Jags seven first downs via penalty!

Allow me to summarize for you the futility and ineptitude of the Texans’ 2013 season in a single sentence:

    They lost twice to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Steelers hosted the Dolphins in a game that had plenty of wildcard implications and the Dolphins came out with the win. The game marked the return of WR, Mike Wallace to Pittsburgh for the first time since he signed a 5-year $6M free agent contract to go from the Steelers to the Dolphins. I hope the Dolphins’ fans are happy with Wallace’s 3 TD catches so far this year and the fact that Brian Hartline is the team’s leading receiver. In this “homecoming game”, Wallace managed to catch 2 passes for 19 yards and 0 TDs. Oh, swell…!

Another WR made a splash in the free agent market last off-season when Greg Jennings went from the Packers to the Vikings and executed a scorched Earth policy in doing so. He questioned Aaron Rodgers’ leadership; he said the Packers’ organization had an inflated view of itself relative to the other teams in the NFC North; he was – to put it politely – a jackass. In 12 games this year, Jennings has 48 catches and 3 TDs. Hi Ho…!

The Cowboys laid a giant egg on MNF last week. Dallas likes to refer to itself as “Big D”. Let me see if I have this right:

    Every December, the Dallas Cowboys take a Dump on the field nailing Down a Deluge of Defeats.

The saga of the Washington Redskins has been on every sportscast and most sports pages this week. Overshadowed by the soap opera atmosphere is this inconvenient truth for Redskins’ fans:

    Robert Griffin III has regressed significantly this year.

His completion percentage is down 5.5%; his interceptions have more than doubled in 12 games as compared to 15 games last year; his quarterback rating is down from 102.4 last year to 82.2 this year. Let me be clear… Last year, with just about the same roster, Griffin played extremely well. Coming back from knee surgery, he has played poorly – it is not that he has failed to excel, he has played poorly. Forget all the other falderal going on; you could make a rational case for sitting his fanny on the bench simply for lack of production on the field.

Last week’s loss to the Chiefs would have been embarrassing for a high school team. The Redskins’ special teams gave up 300 yards total in punt returns and kickoff returns (and 1 TD too) during the game. Meanwhile, the Redskins’ total offense for the day was only 257 yards. How to describe that game?

    Feeble?
    Pitiful?
    Woeful?

    How about all of the above…

The Eagles/Lions game last week provides football bettors with an important lesson. During the week, the Total Line hovered between 54 and 54.5. Last week I mythically took the game to go OVER 54. Once the Sunday weather manifested itself on the East Coast, the Total Line at various sports books plummeted to as low as 48.5 and still reports said the preponderance of the money went to the UNDER.

The game total was 54. My mythical pick was a Push; bettors who liked the OVER on Sunday in Las Vegas got a win. The lesson is that winter weather is indeed a wagering factor and waiting to see the weather report can make a big difference in wagering outcomes.

By the way, the NFL mavens might want to review the tapes of the Eagles/Lions game as they plan for their outdoor Super Bowl game in February at Met Life Stadium.

In what looked to be at least 6 inches of snow on the field, the Eagles managed to put up a total of 478 yards of total offense including 299 yards rushing. The Lions fumbled 7 times in the game losing 3 of them. The Eagles gave up a kickoff return for a TD and a Punt return for a TD in the game and still won. Highly unusual…

It is a shame that Peyton Manning has trouble with his passing in cold weather games. Last week in Denver against the Titans, he only managed 39 completions in the game for 397 yards and 4 TDs.

The Niners’ margin of victory over the Seahawks was a meager 2 points. Nevertheless, the Niners did something that other teams have had difficulty doing; they controlled the ball by running it very successfully against the Seahawks’ defense. The Niners averaged just under 5 yards per carry (33 carries for 163 yards) in the game.

The Bills and Bucs played a dismal game. Neither team gained 250 yards of total offense; there was a total of 15 punts in the game; there were 7 turnovers in the game (5 by the Bills). This loss assures that the Bills will have a losing record for the ninth consecutive year.

Philosophy majors can debate if the chicken or the egg came first. NFL fans have a more pragmatic question facing them now that the Jets scored 37 points in beating the Raiders last week.

    Is the Jets’ offense in gear with Geno Smith at the controls – or –

    Is this just what happens when you play the Raiders’ defense?

The Falcons led the Packers 21-10 at halftime in miserable weather conditions in Green Bay. Nonetheless, the Falcons found a way to lose the game 22-21 with a sack-fumble leading to the game winning TD in the 4th quarter.

The Giants are mathematically alive for the playoffs but it does not look good for the G-men. At halftime last week, they trailed the Chargers 24-0 and they let the Chargers have the ball for almost 37 minutes in the game. That is not the kind of performance you see from a “playoff-caliber team”.

The Colts scored zero points in the first half against the Bengals and trailed 14-0. As usual, the Colts rallied in the second half scoring 28 points; the problem was that the Colts’ defense continued to allow the Bengals to find the end zone and the final score was 42-28 favor of the Bengals.

The Pats got a phantom pass interference call from the officials in the final minute of the game and beat the Browns 27-26. That was not the only phantom pass interference call in the final minute last week. There was a similar call in favor of the Ravens in their game against the Vikings. Various talking heads on ESPN have said that they no longer know what constitutes pass interference and what does not. Here is the real problem:

    I am not sure all of the NFL officials on the field know what constitutes pass interference and what does not.

There are lots of “Drinking Games” such as you have to chug a beer every time your team gives up a TD or an offensive play greater than 20 yards. Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle invented an NFL-related “Eating Game”:

“How to gain 10 pounds while watching TV on Sunday: Take a big dip of guacamole every time the quarterback flaps his arms and otherwise elaborately signals for a change in formation and play, and the play goes for 1 yard.”

The Games:

Washington at Atlanta – 7 (50): This game is the Stinkeroo of the Week. Both teams won their division last year; both teams were talking “Super Bowl” for this year; both teams are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs already with identical records of 3-10; both teams stink. Will the insertion of Kirk Cousins at QB for the Skins give the team a lift? Cousins started one game last year and the Skins beat the Browns behind a strong performance by Cousins. Can the Skins’ secondary cover Roddy White, Tony Gonzales and Harry Douglas? The answer to that is: “No, they cannot.” The Skins’ best chance in this game is to run the ball because that is something the Skins do well and the Falcons do not defend the run well. If the Falcons look at their schedule, they might conclude that this is their best chance to get their fourth win of the year because they have the Niners and Panthers next. I like the Falcons at home to win and cover. I also like the game to go OVER.

SF – 5.5 at Tampa Bay (41): After starting 0-8, the Bucs have played respectably if not well. They have won 4 of their last 5 games. Even though the Niners seem to be a step up in competition, the Bucs are at home and it will be a long trip for the Niners to get to the game. Might there be a small diminution in emotion on the part of the Niners after their big win over the Seahawks last week? That angle plus the fact that I think this will be a low-scoring game leads me to take the Bucs plus the points.

Arizona – 2.5 at Tennessee (42): A loss here will not eliminate the Cards from the playoffs – but it will put their chances in great peril. A loss here extinguishes the dim hopes that the Titans have for playoff participation. The Cardinals have won 5 of their last 6 games. The Titans have lost their last 4 home games – including one to Jax. The Cards are the better team here. I’ll take the Cards to win and cover even on the road.

New Orleans – 6 at St. Louis (47): I believe the Saints clinch a playoff spot with a win here. The Rams cannot make the playoffs. Here is one of the most meaningless trend angles I have come across in a while:

    Over the last 12 seasons, the Rams are 2-9-1 ATS in Week 15 games.

Having nothing whatsoever to do with that trend, I like the Saints to win and cover here and I like this game to go OVER.

Seattle – 6.5 at Giants (41.5): As my sports prognosticator friend in Houston likes to say, this is a “body clock game”. The Seahawks will kick off at 1:00 PM EST but their body clock will tell them it is only 10:00 AM. That is about the only negative thing I would have to say about the Seahawks with regard to this game; their offense is more productive than the Giants’ offense and their defense is stingier than the Giants’ defense. Right now, the Seahawks have the best record in the NFC and the importance to them of “home-field advantage” is significant. I think the Giants are in for a long day here. I like the Seahawks to win and cover and I like the game to go OVER.

Chicago – 1 at Cleveland (44): Jay Cutler is back under center for the Bears; Josh McCown held the fort admirably and the Bears still have a shot at the playoffs. The Browns have lost 4 in a row and the last two have been heartbreakers. The Bears’ defense gives up 382 yards per game. I cannot take a team with that kind of defense on the road. Rather, I will take the game to go OVER.

Houston at Indy – 5.5 (45.5): The Colts will clinch the AFC South title with a win here; the Texans can only hope to break their 11-game losing streak. The Colts and Texans have played 11 games in Indy since Houston came into the league; the Colts have won every time. I see the Colts starting fast this week and keeping their foot on the gas. I like the Colts to win and cover and I like the game to go OVER.

Buffalo – 2 at Jax (43): This game is the runner-up for the Stinkeroo of the Week. This game matters to no one; the best thing about the game is that it is in Jax in December instead of being in Buffalo in December. The Jags have won 4 of their last 5 games to attain a less than horrid status as a 4-9 team. Meanwhile the Bills have demonstrated an aversion to travel recently losing their each of their last 3 road games by 13 or more points. I’ll take the Jags at home plus the points. Just to be sure I let you know how shaky that selection is, consider:

    The Jags rank 16th in the AFC in total offense – and –
    The Jags rank 16th in the AFC in total defense.

New England – 1.5 at Miami (46): I think this is the Blue Ribbon Game of the Week. This is one of only two games this week where both teams have winning records and this game has significant playoff implications. With The Broncos loss last night to the Chargers on Thursday Night Football, the Pats can claim home-field advantage in the playoffs if they win out. Of course, they will have to do that without the services of Rob Gronkowski but there is that carrot hanging out there on a stick for them. The Dolphins and Ravens both have 7-6 records and lead the chase for the second AFC wildcard slot in the playoffs. Both teams need to win this game. The Pats have trailed by double-digits in each of the last three games and have come back to win all three. That is not a winning formula – but it has worked for the Pats since late November. Here is an interesting statistical note:

    The Pats are 13th in the AFC in total defense
    The Dolphins are 13th in the AFC in total offense

Purely a hunch, I like the Dolphins at home plus the “point-and-a-half”.

Philly – 5 at Minnesota (51): The Eagles have won 5 games in a row; they lead the NFC East by a game. In those 5 straight wins, the Eagles have scored an average of 31.5 points per game and their defense has not given up more than 21 points in any of those games. The Vikings list Adrian Peterson as “doubtful”; the fact that he was in a walking boot on Monday would indicate he will not be at peak efficiency if he does play.

    The Eagles are 2nd in total offense in the NFC
    The Vikings are 15th in total defense in the NFC.

Assuming the Eagles do not just mail it in here, they look to be the better team. I’ll take the Eagles to win and cover on the road.

    By the way, with Christmas approaching and with Nick Foles working some magic at QB for the Eagles, might I be the first to call him “Saint” Nick Foles?

Jets at Carolina – 11 (41): These two teams caromed off their courses last week in opposite directions. The Panthers had won 8 in a row and they crashed and burned against the Saints. The Jets had been playing like cadavers for about a month scoring only 20 points in 3 straight losses; they put 37 points on the board against the Raiders.

    Scenario 1: Panthers bounce back with a vengeance after that loss because they are not yet assured of a playoff slot and throttle the Jets who are only 1-5 on the road this year.

    Scenario 2: The Jets finally found out how to work the gadgets on the control panel for their offense and the Saints exposed the vulnerabilities in the Panthers’ defense so the Jets pull the upset here.

I think there is a Hybrid Scenario here. I think that both defenses are going to dominate this game. I like the game to stay UNDER and I like the Jets plus that huge helping of points.

KC – 4.5 at Oakland (41.5): Back in the old AFL days, this rivalry was the Hatfields and the McCoys. If the Chiefs win, it will be the first time they have swept the raiders since 2006; much more importantly, if the Chiefs win, they will clinch a playoff spot. I am trying to think of how the Raiders might win this game but other than things like the entire Chiefs’ squad coming down with food poisoning, I do not see it. I like the Chiefs to win and cover here.

Green Bay at Dallas – 7 (49.5): One thing is for sure. Given that spread, the oddsmakers are pretty sure that Aaron Rodgers will not be the Packers’ QB in this game. The Cowboys’ defense is just dreadful giving up 426.8 yards per game; the Packers’ defense is marginally better at 369.4 yards per game. If Sean Lee cannot play LB for the Cowboys in this game, Eddie Lacy and James Starkes could each go over 100 yards in the game. I do not like Matt Flynn at QB for the Packers; I do not trust Tony Romo in an important December game. It is coin flip time. The coin says to take the game to stay UNDER.

    The coin obviously does not know anything about the defensive units in this game.

(Sun Nite) Cincy – 3 at Pittsburgh (41.5): The Bengals are 9-4 and look to be playoff bound. However, all 4 of their losses have been on the road and this game is in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are not eliminated from the playoffs yet, but it would take a whole lot of Pixie Dust for them to sneak into the sixth seed slot. This is nothing but a venue call. I’ll take the Steelers plus the points.

(Mon Nite) Baltimore at Detroit – 6 (49): This is the “other game” where both teams will kick off with winning records. The Ravens have won 3 games in a row albeit the last two were in doubt down to the final seconds. The Lions on the other hand have lost 3 of their last 4 games. The Lions do light it up on offense with almost 410 yards per game on average; the Lions on defense are not so fearsome giving up 355 yards per game. The Lions are a significantly better home team than they are a road team; the Ravens are 1-5 on the road. The balance of this game will tilt depending on the effectiveness of the Ravens’ defense keeping the Lions from running amok. I think that like is fat. I’ll take the Ravens plus the points.

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

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Comments

  • Doug  On December 14, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Two thoughts: The Skins and Falcons are both very bad this year, but the Falcons need this loss badly. I think they need to draft Eric Ebron.

    The Panthers faced a Saints team that played a great game last week. I predict Carolina will win this game by more than 20 points.

  • Doug  On December 16, 2013 at 8:11 am

    The Skins doubled the Falcons in total yards gained and could have easily won the game in spite of seven turnovers. It must have been raining inside the Ga Dome! Atlanta managed only 243 total yards!

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On December 16, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Doug:

      It was not raining inside the dome. However, suffice it to say that neither team covered itself in glory in that contest.

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