College Mythical Picks debuted last week; this is the other flavor that is available here. That’s right; they are both on sale here for the unbelievably low price of:
Two for nothing.
Moreover, since the picks are free, you know immediately what they are worth.
For new readers, what I will do here is to make a wagering selection for “every” NFL game. I put “every” in quotation marks because that will not literally be the case. For example:
On weeks when I do not have the chance to write this stuff until Friday morning, I will not be making any “predictions” on the Thursday night game that happened the night before.
I have my annual Fall pilgrimage to Las Vegas booked. Sometimes I do not have time to make picks that week prior to departure and I do not take anything that resembles a computer with me on that trip.
Potentially, I might spend some time in Ireland this Fall/Winter visiting #1 son, daughter-in-law and grandson. I will not make picks that week if indeed that visit materializes.
In our retirement years, my long-suffering wife and I consider that we “travel for a living”. Therefore, there could be trips that intervene in such a way that there is no time to make picks and write one of these things. There is nothing “on the books” at the moment, but that does not mean something will not materialize on short notice.
Other than events of that type, my plan is to take the week’s slate of games, present the spread and the totals line and make some kind of wagering prediction for every game every week. Having said that, I must now say this:
It is foolhardy for anyone to try to beat the spread by betting on every game every week. That is one of the money management “strategies” that will send you to the poorhouse more often than not. Please, do not do this with real money!
Each week will begin with a rundown of the previous week’s picks keeping a running total for the year. Last year’s result was a humiliating and disastrous 114-159-8. That was my worst year ever; it followed on the heels of two other surprisingly good seasons where for 2011 and 2012 I not only came out above .500 but also would have shown a profit against the “Vegas vig.” Such mythical profitability has only happened 3 times in the 14 years I have been doing this, so I surely do not expect it to happen this year. I do expect to do better than last year’s level of suckitude…
I want to make something crystal clear at the outset. There is no inside information involved in any of these selections; I do not have access to coaches, players or staff for any NFL teams; I do not have a network of “spies’ and “informers” that have their fingers on the pulses of the various teams and who send me coded “intell reports” via carrier pigeon so that I can make these selections. I do this because I enjoy doing it and for no other purpose; I do not make real wagers on all the games that I talk about here. Ergo:
Please do not use anything written in any of these pieces as the basis for making a real wager involving real money on a real NFL game.
Anyone doing that would be dumb enough to think that a thesaurus is a well-spoken dinosaur.
Since this week marks the opening games of the 2014 NFL season, allow me to recount for you the exploits of an NFL Hall of Fame QB in the opening game of the 1951 NFL season. The Los Angeles Rams played the New York Yankees on that day; Norm Van Brocklin was the Rams’ QB on that day. All Van Brocklin did in the opening game of the 1951 season was to pass for 554 yards and 5 TDs.
Those 554 yards still stand as the single-game passing record for the NFL despite decades of rule changes designed to increase the offense – and specifically the passing offense – throughout the league. It has been a rather durable record.
One of those 5 TD passes went to a guy with one of the great names in NFL history, Vitamin Smith. Vitamin was what they used to call a “scatback”; he was listed at 5’ 8” and 179 lbs – and he played halfback. He also ran back kicks and punts. You just know that if he played today, he would have an endorsement deal with a company like GNC or One-A-Day…
In my NFL predictions earlier this week, I did not see 2014 as a banner year for the Buffalo Bills. A friend, who is a relocated Buffalonian, asked me why I always had to “put the Bills down”. I said that I had no intention to do so but that I also had no reason to believe that they were going to be any good this year. My friend said that “their coach will find a way to make them a playoff contender”. So, that sent me to the stats…
Doug Marrone in the Bills’ coach; he has worked his way up the coaching ranks starting in 1992 from position coach to offensive coordinator to college head coach to this gig where he is in his second year with the Bills. His head coaching record comes down to this:
Syracuse University: 4 years with a cumulative record of 25-25. Pardon me, but that record is not exactly what I would call “The Wow Factor! ” Moreover, playing in the less-than-awesome Big East Conference for those 4 years, his in-conference record was a meager 11-17. The majority of his wins came against out-of-conference cupcakes.
Buffalo Bills: Last year the Bills finished 6-10 putting them in last place in the AFC East, which is where they have finished for each of the last 6 seasons. In four of those 6 seasons in the basement of the AFC East, the Bills finished 6-10.
I do not intend to “put Doug Marrone down”. Nevertheless, until the Bills achieve something better than 6-10 and finishing last in the AFC East, I am not ready to accept as an article of faith that he will “find a way” to make the Bills into a playoff contender.
While speaking of teams mired in sub-mediocrity, let me talk for a moment about the Cleveland Browns. Since coming back into the league as an expansion franchise in 1999, the Browns have been over .500 exactly twice – in 2002 and again in 2007. Their cumulative record since returning to the NFL is 77-163. Moreover, the Browns as a franchise have an overall losing record against the Jax Jaguars; think about that…
While you are thinking about the Jaguars, the bottom line is that they are not very good. In the last 3 seasons, the Jags combined record was 11-37. It is no wonder that they have those tarps covering up the seats in Jax that the team cannot give away.
Why are teams becoming more focused on the position of “back-up quarterback”? Consider the 2013 season. Thirteen teams (40% of the league) had two QBs who started three games or more; back-up QBs see the field a lot more now than they did 30 years ago. Of those 13 teams who had to use two guys for at least 3 games last year, only 2 of those teams were playoff teams (Eagles and Packers) and the Packers squeezed into the playoffs with a most un-Lombardi-like record of 8-7-1. Keeping the starter on the field for more than 13 games is not a given in the league and unless you have a back-up that can keep you in the playoff chase, that can ruin a season.
They say it can take up to 5 years to evaluate a draft in the NFL and that is particularly true for the quarterback position. So, I went back to the 2009 draft and unless I missed a QB somewhere in the draft, here is the “Success Story” of that draft:
Here is the “Survivor”:
Here are the ones in hot pursuit of “Future Endeavors”:
Nate Davis (Lone Star Football League – an Indoor League)
Stephen McGee (CFL)
Pat White (CFL)
I guess you would have to say that the 2009 NFL Draft was low-grade ore with regard to the QB position…
(Thurs) Green Bay at Seattle – 5.5 (46.5): This is the opening game of the weekend and the Best Game of the Weekend. Over the last 20 seasons, the Super Bowl champion is 18-2 straight up in the opening game of the next season. The last time these two teams met, it was in 2012 in the infamous “Fail Mary Game” where the replacement refs blew the final call of the game so badly that the league and the referees’ union had to find a way to resolve the work stoppage to preserve the image of the league itself. The “real refs” will be on hand this week so the chances of such a monumental gaffe are significantly reduced – but not eliminated. I do not know that the Packers’ defense has been improved sufficiently to buck that winning trend for Super bowl champions on opening day. Having said that, any team with a healthy Aaron Rodgers playing QB is a dangerous opponent. I think there will be plenty of scoring in the game. I like the game to go OVER and I’ll take the Seahawks to win and cover at home.
New Orleans – 3 at Atlanta (52): This game opened with the Falcons favored by 1.5 points and flipped very quickly to this level. I think the Saints are the better team on offense – despite the return of Julio Jones to the Falcons line-up – and I think the Saints are the better team on defense. I cannot understand why this line might have opened with the Falcons as the favorite other than the fact that last year the Saints were only 1-7 as a road team ATS (against the spread). I am not much of a trend bettor so I’ll go with my assessment of the “better team” and take the Saints to win and cover.
Minnesota at St. Louis – 4 (44): I do not think either team is going to throw the ball effectively in this game. The Vikes’ passing game will be thwarted by a heavy and relentless pass rush; the Rams’ passing game will be delivered by Shaun Hill and received by Joe Flabeetz & Co. I think this is going to be an old-school game with lots of running back participation. George Halas and Vince Lombardi will be watching and nodding approvingly. I would not wager on this game with your money but I said I would make a pick in every game and so I shall use the standard Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip Protocol here:
Flip #1: Heads = Bet the Spread; Tails = Bet the Total Line
Flip #2: Heads = Take the favorite or the Over; Tails = figure it out…
The magic coin says to take the game to stay UNDER.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh – 6.5 (41.5): In the last 28 times these teams have met, the Steelers have won 25 times. If you want to check out an obscure trend, consider this:
In the last 15 games where the Steelers were favored at home, the game has stayed UNDER in 13 of those games.
As I said, I am not a trend bettor, but I do think this will be a low-scoring game because the Browns’ offense should be meager and the Browns defense should be strong. In fact, the last time these teams played and the total went OVER 41 was in January 2011. I’ll take the game to stay UNDER.
Jax at Philly – 10 (53): I mentioned above that the Jags are not a good team and have not been a good team for a while. However, bettors tend to overestimate how bad they are in season openers because in the last 15 years, the Jags are 12-3 ATS in opening games – and they have not been dominant favorites in those games. They find themselves in the same situation here. The Jags were equal opportunity stinkers last year; they had the 16th rated offense in the AFC and they had the 16th rated defense in the AFC. The Eagles play “breakneck speed offense”. Even though I am not enamored with the Eagles’ defense even a little bit, I find it difficult to see where 54 points will come from in this game. I’ll take the game to stay UNDER.
Oakland at Jets – 5.5 (39.5): Derek Carr will start at QB for the Raiders; he played well against scrubs in the exhibition games; here he will face the “varsity” in terms of a pass rush and linebackers. However, the Jets’ secondary might well be a prodigious pile of puke back there. So, how might Derek Carr fare in this game? And on that point turns the outcome of the game and the outcome of any wagering propositions – unless of course Jets’ QB, Geno Smith, demonstrates his ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and throw a bunch of INTs. Here comes another Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip… I’ll take the game to go OVER.
Cincy at Baltimore – 1.5 (43): This game opened with the Ravens favored by 3 points and the line has dropped steadily to this level. Based on last year’s stats, the Bengals are the better team on offense and on defense, in the air and on the ground. However, last year the Ravens were 6-2 at home while the Bengals were only 3-5 on the road. But this is this year and not last year… The Ravens will be without Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, had a concussion and is listed as “Probable” which likely means that he can tell lightening from thunder. I like the Bengals plus the points here.
Buffalo at Chicago – 7.5 (47): I told you above what I think about the Bills so I cannot turn around here and take them to win outright on the road against a team that can legitimately consider itself a playoff squad. However, that hook on top of a full touchdown’s worth of points makes the Bills attractive. I’ll take the Bills plus the points.
Washington at Houston – 3 (45.5): This line opened with the Texans favored by only 1.5 points and it has crept up to this level as the week moved on. What a hot mess this game looks to be. Last year, the Texans cruised in with a 2-14 record to stink just ever so much more than the Skins with their 3-13 record. Both teams have new coaches – no surprise there – and both should improve over last year’s performance. Nevertheless, this game is the Turd in the Punchbowl Game of the Week. I know how I want to play this game so I went looking for some trends that would “justify my pick”. Here they are:
Skins are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games versus the AFC South.
Texans are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games at home.
Texans are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite.
With no conviction at all, I’ll take the Skins plus the points. By the way, I will have no choice in the matter; I will have to watch this steaming pile of offal on TV on Sunday here in the DC area. Those of you in other parts of the world can enjoy another – better – game.
Tennessee at KC – 3.5 (43.5): Here is another game where the line has moved; it opened with the Chiefs favored by 6 points. I would love to see the number drop to an even “3 points” but I would also love to see a winning Powerball lottery ticket in my hands. Simple and straightforward here; I think the Chiefs are the better team. I’ll take the Chiefs at home and lay the points.
New England – 5 at Miami (47): The Pats have won 10 consecutive opening day games. They have new parts to incorporate into their game – like two new CBs – but that is nothing compared to what Miami has to patch together in terms of an OL and a defensive secondary. I like the Pats to win and cover – even on the road.
Carolina at Tampa Bay – 1.5 (39.5): This line opened with the Panthers as 2.5-point favorites and has flipped to put the Bucs in the role of the favorite. I think the Bucs will be much improved this year over last; I think the Panthers will have a hard time to duplicate their good fortune – and their good record – from last year. Cam Newton has a hairline fracture on a rib; he says he will play. The Bucs feature two WRs who are 6’ 5” tall and that will challenge the Panthers’ secondary. Make this a venue call; I’ll take the Bucs at home to win and cover.
SF – 4.5 at Dallas (51): The Niners opened as a 3-point favorite and the spread has grown as the week went on. The Niners have injuries, suspensions and distractions to deal with; the Cowboys merely have to deal with a lack of talent on defense. I prefer the Niners’ talent edge here. I’ll take the Niners to win and cover and I’ll take the game to go OVER as both defensive units yield points here.
(Sun Nite) Indy at Denver – 7.5 (55.5): This game is a very good one and it has the best QB-matchup on the card this week. The Broncos have Wes Welker on the “suspended list” and the Colts have Robert Mathis on the “suspended list”. Point and counterpoint… I see lots of offense and loads of points in this game. I’ll take the Broncos to win and cover and I’ll take the game to go OVER.
(Mon Nite Early) Giants at Detroit – 5.5 (47): Which team will be less able to get out its own way? I think that is the key to the outcome here; the team that makes the final blunder will lose. This game could end up 17-13 if the offenses stink it up here; or, this game could end up 38-35 if the defenses stink it up here. I have exactly no idea what is going to happen here. The Lions have a new coach and a new system; the Giants have their old coach and a new system. The Curmudgeon Coin Flip protocol is in effect and the coin says to take the Giants plus the points.
(Mon Nite Late) San Diego at Arizona – 3 (45): These may not be the two best teams in the league, but this ought to be a very good game. I think the Chargers can score points here but I am not confident that the Chargers’ secondary can deal with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn. Brew a pot of coffee to stay up for the late finish here because this should be a game that goes down to the wire. I like the Cards to win and cover and I like the game to go OVER.
Finally, it is never a good idea to look at a “losing streak” as something that is “due to end”. Each wager is an independent action; when on a “losing streak”, try to examine your methodology for making selections instead of raising the stakes to “get even”. Here is an item from a previous column by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times about trying to “get even”:
“Actor Mickey Rooney, who died this week at age 93, on the perils of gambling on the horses: ‘I lost a $2 bet 65 years ago and have spent about $3 million trying to get it back.’ ”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………