First, a review of last week’s Mythical Picks:
I liked Bears/Lions UNDER 47.5. Total score was 51. No!
I liked Eagles/Cowboys OVER 54.5. Total score was 43. No!
I liked Seahawks/Niners UNDER 40.5. Total was 22. Yes!
I liked Skins/Colts OVER 51. Total was 76. Yes!
I liked Titans/Texans UNDER 43. Total was 67. No!
I liked Browns +2.5 against Bills. Browns lost by 16. No!
I liked Ravens -5 over Chargers. Ravens lost the game. No!
I liked Jags +3 against Giants. Jags won the game outright. Yes!
I liked Bengals -3.5 over Bucs. Bengals won by only 1. No!
I liked Rams -7 over Raiders. Rams won 52-0. Yes!
I liked Steelers -3 over Saints. Steelers lost the game. No!
I liked Panthers +3 against Vikes. Panthers lost by 18. No!
I liked Cards -2.5 over Falcons. Cardinals lost the game. No!
I liked Pats/Packers OVER 58. Total was 47. No!
I liked Broncos/Chiefs OVER 49.5. Total was 45. No!
I liked Broncos -1 over Chiefs. Broncos won by 13. Yes!
I liked Jets +6.5 against Dolphins. Jets lost by only 6. Yes!
That was a revolting mess of Mythical Picks. Last week’s record was 6-11-0 bringing the season record to 88-119-3. Those numbers stink like six-week-old gym socks.
If I had to find a bright spot in last week’s miasma, it would be that my picks did better than the Curmudgeon Coin Flip Games did. Theoretically, a coin flip game should be correct 50% of the time – or relatively close to 50%. Well, last week the coin was 2-4-0, which is ever so slightly worse than 6-11-0, and the season record for the Coin Flip Games now stands at 12-21-0. That is a good distance below .500.
Clearly, no one should think there is any insight contained in any of these picks and no one should think of using information here as the basis for a real wager on an actual NFL game involving real money. Anyo0ne stupid enough to do that might also consider this a good idea:
Conduct a drive-by shooting while riding a unicycle.
The new owner of the Bills, Terry Pegula, has terminated the Bills’ “experiment” to play some of their home games in Toronto. The idea of playing a home game there – and an exhibition game once in a while too – started in 2008. The idea got a 5-year extension in 2012 but the Bills announced a “postponement” of the effort earlier this year. The word now is that the Bills will stay in Buffalo and play all of their games there.
The Packers used to play one of their games each year in Milwaukee so there is precedent for a team having a “shared home field” in the modern NFL. The Packers called a halt to that in 1994. Now that the Bills have ceased to play some games in Toronto, the only shared home field situation exists with whatever teams donate one of its home games to London each year.
Back in my NFL Pre-Season predictions, I said that the Steelers’ secondary would be a problem for them and I wondered if going into the season counting on Ike Taylor to be “the guy” in the defensive backfield would work. Well, Taylor has been injured and the rest of the secondary is coming apart like a Wal-Mart sweater. Last week, the Steelers gave up 5 TD passes to the Saints and lost 35-32. Things are not looking up in Pittsburgh.
Having said that, the Steelers’ secondary looks as if it has at least 3 Hall of Fame caliber defenders back there when you compare it to the Skins’ secondary. Forget stats for a moment; there were 4 plays in the Skins/Colts game last week where the Colts had a receiver open by a minimum of 10 yards – and in one case, it was probably closer to 25 yards. If one were to describe the Skins’ performance in pass defense last week as “inept” and “amateurish” and “bumbling” and “downright incompetent”, one might begin to convey an image of how bad it really was.
The Bucs lost by a point last week. Late in the game, they had completed a pass that would have set up a chip shot field goal that would have won the game. The problem is that they had 12 men on the field for the play and the refs did not catch it until the replay. [Aside: You might think that with an extra man on offense, the Bucs might have found someone open for a TD; but that is nit picking.] What happened here is that the Bucs invented a new way to lose a game. That is a big part of why the Bucs are 2-10 with 4 games to play.
The Jets “moved on” again – although truth be told, going back to playing Geno Smith as the starting QB seems more like “returning to the scene of the crime” than it does to “moving on”. Of course, the explanation here is that the coaches determined that Geno Smith gave the Jets the best chance to win. Well, the game plan and the play calling would seem to put the lie to that blatheration. All Geno Smith did for 90% of the night was to hand the ball off to a running back or a wide receiver on a misdirection play. They could have had Joe Namath out there on Monday night and he could have executed the offensive game plan the Jets exhibited.
Memo to Jets’ owner, Woody Johnson:
1. If you or your GM “ordered” the coaches to play Smith and that is the game plan they executed, they are telling you loudly and clearly that Geno Smith is not competent to play QB in the NFL. If you do not get that message and keep interfering, they may need to resort to mooning you during a game to make their point.
2. If the coaches decided on their own to play Geno Smith and give it a go with an unorthodox game plan, give them a tad of credit because it almost worked.
3. No coaches in the history of the NFL – or any other level of football – could get this roster to the playoffs. Either your scouts cannot construct a menu of competent players to draft or your personnel people cannot tell the difference between a player and a poser. Your losing record reflects incompetence in lots of places – including possibly in the owner’s suite at the stadium.
The Broncos beat the Chiefs by running the ball last week. It is not often that a team with Peyton Manning at QB wins by running the ball but that is what happened. CJ Anderson ran 32 times for 168 yards and the Broncos held the ball for almost 39 minutes to win in KC. The Broncos now lead the Chargers by 1 game and the Chiefs by 2 games in the AFC West.
The Chargers beat the Ravens in Baltimore 34-33 with a short TD pass in the final minute of the game. The Ravens are 7-5 – as are the Browns and the Steelers – in the AFC North and are looking up at the Bengals at 8-3-1 with 4 games left. Philip Rivers was 34-45 for 383 yards and 3 TDs in the game.
The Browns threw in a stinker last week losing to the Bills. The Browns led at the half 3-0 but they managed to trail the Bills 26-3 in the fourth quarter when Johnny Football got his first real NFL action. He scored a TD but it was way too little and way too late. And thus, a quarterback controversy comes to Cleveland…
Unless you are an inveterate Pats’ fan, you had to enjoy watching the Packers/Pats game last week. The game was devoid of coaching gaffes, goofball game plans or abjectly ineptitude on the field. If these two teams were to meet again in the Super Bowl, I would not complain even a little bit.
At the other end of the NFL spectrum last week:
The Jags beat the Giants 25-24. The Giants led 21-0 in the second quarter and 21-3 at halftime. The Giants outgained the Jags by 71 yards for the game and sacked Blake Bortles 7 times. And they still lost…! The Jags had two defensive TDs in the second half along with a game winning field goal with 38 seconds to play.
The Raiders – building on their victory over the Chiefs the previous week – went to St. Louis and lost 52-0. In Raider history, the only loss more ignominious than that happened in 1961 – back about the time when the Raiders were invented. The Raiders had the ball for almost 37 minutes in this game. How did they lose? Well 5 turnovers (including a Pick Six) played some part in the loss…
(Thurs Nite) Dallas – 3.5 at Chicago (51): Here are two unpredictable teams. The Cowboys’ defense looked as if it would be dominant early in the year but it has looked “vulnerable” for the past couple of weeks and then looked bloody awful against the Eagles last week. The Bears at 5-7 have seen their season go from “promising” in August to the outhouse by the end of November. Here are the questions for the game:
Will “Good Tony Romo” or “Bad Tony Romo” show up?
Will “Good Jay Cutler” or “Bad Jay Cutler” show up?
Will the Bears even try to run the football once in a while?
Which defense – if any – will stop the other guys?
Will the Cowboys start their annual “December swoon”?
What the hay…? I will turn this selection over to the Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip Protocol and the coin says to take the Cowboys and lay the points. Obviously, the coin knows nothing about the Cowboys tendencies in December…
Baltimore at Miami – 3 (45): The Dolphins beat the Jets last week even though the Jets ran the ball down the Dolphins’ throats for much of the game. The only way the Dolphins put a stop to that nonsense was to put 8 men in the box – and sometimes 9 – and to dare the Jets to throw the ball. If they even think of resorting to that this week, Joe Flacco, Steve Smith and Torrey Smith should torch the defense. The Ravens’ secondary is not a standout unit so there will be opportunities for Miami to show its stuff in the passing game. I like the Ravens plus the points here and I like the game to go OVER.
Pittsburgh at Cincy – 3 (47): This is a must-win game for the Steelers if they harbor any thoughts of winning the AFC North. Neither team distinguished itself last week even though the Bengals got a win over the Bucs. I think this will be a low scoring game so I will take the Steelers plus the points here.
Indy – 3.5 at Cleveland (49): The Colts have a 2-game cushion over the Texans in the AFC South with 4 games to play; the Browns – like the Steelers – need to win this game to stay in contention for the AFC North crown. I do not care whom the Browns decide to play at QB, the Colts will have the best QB on the field. The uncertainty in this game is that the Colts are not nearly as dominant a team on the road as they are in their home dome. This is another Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip Game and the coin says to take the game to go OVER.
Houston – 5 at Jax (42.5): The Texans have to have this game to stay near the Colts because at 6-6 their only realistic playoff hope is to win the AFC South. The fact that the Texans travel to Indy next week for a showdown with the Colts could give them incentive to win here to set up that game or it could provide a distraction since the Jags look eminently beatable with their 2-10 record. I have little faith in either team to dominate the other on offense. [Aside: Maybe the Texans should consider starting JJ Watt at QB. He seems to do about everything else for the team…] Statistically, the big difference in this game favors the Houston offense (by 54 yards per game); defensively, the teams are almost dead even. I think this will be a low scoring game so I will take the Jags plus the points.
Giants at Tennessee “pick ‘em” (46): This is the “B.O. Plenty Game of the Week”. The Giants bring a 3-9 record to the game having lost their last 7 games and losing last week to the less-than-formidable Jaguars. The Titans welcome the Giants with a 2-10 record and a 6-game losing streak. Allow me to channel – for the purpose of paraphrasing – the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning from her anthology Sonnets from the Portuguese to express my feelings about these teams:
How do I disparage thee, let me count the ways…
The Giants lose by an average of 5.1 points per game; the Titans lose by an average of 10.5 points per game. The Giants lose games they tend to keep close; the Titans lose some games by big margins. I will not predict which team will find a way to lose this game but I will count on both defenses to continue to stink. (Giants are 14th in the NFC and Titans are 16th in the AFC) I’ll take the game to go OVER. You should take whatever opportunity you have to change the channel if this game tries to infect your television set…
Carolina at New Orleans – 10 (49.5): Here we have a head-to-head game between two of the miserable teams in the NFC South. The Panthers are 3-8-1 and can still win the division title. The Saints have a huge opportunity here; they are tied with the Falcons atop the division at 5-7 and the Falcons have to go to Green Bay on Monday night where visiting teams have not fared well this year. Normally, I would simply take the Saints as the home team here because historically the Saints are dominant at home. However, the Saints have lost their last 3 games in the Superdome. At the same time, the Panthers are not any better on the road than they are at home this year with a 1-4-1 road record. Here is the contrast in the game:
Panthers are 11th in the NFC in total offense.
Saints are 1st in the NFC in total offense.
Panthers are 8th in total defense in the NFC.
Saints are 15th in total defense in the NFC.
I hate laying double-digit spreads. Nonetheless, I smell a shoot-out and a blow-out here. I’ll take the Saints and lay the points and I like the game to go OVER.
Tampa at Detroit – 10.5 (41.5): The only thing about this game that I might find interesting is this:
How will the woebegone Bucs lose this time?
I would need a crystal ball connected to a Ouija Board operated by a communicator with the spirit world to answer that one. Therefore, I’ll just consider this a low scoring game where I want to take a generous helping of points. I’ll take the Bucs plus the points and hold my nose in the process.
St Louis – 2.5 at Washington (44.5): I am going to assume that the Skins’ defensive secondary has had their heads surgically removed from their asses this week and that they will play to a level of merely “less-than-fully-competent” here instead of “are-you-effing-kidding-me awful”. I also suspect that the Rams might just read too much into last week’s 52-0 domination of the Raiders. I see a low scoring game and so I’ll take the Skins plus the points.
Jets at Minnesota – 5.5 (40.5): Statistically, the Jets’ offense is better than the Vikes’ offense by 11 yards per game and the Jets’ defense is better than the Vikes; defense by 21 yards per game. Geno Smith might actually play better in front of a hostile road fanbase than he would in front of his hostile home fanbase. I like the Jets plus the points here.
Buffalo at Denver – 9.5 (47.5): The Bills can pressure the QB. So what? Peyton Manning has seen pressure before and picked it apart. I like the Broncos here to win and cover.
KC at Arizona “pick ‘em” (40): The oddsmakers want me to pick ‘em. OK, I’ll take the Cards at home to win the game. I think they are the better team.
SF – 8 at Oakland (41): Here is the central question regarding this game:
Will the inept Raiders’ offense (16th in the AFC) outperform the bumbling Niners’ offense (12th in the NFC)?
These geographical neighbors do not play often; since 2002, they have met only 3 times and the Niners have won each time. In 5 of their last 6 games, the Niners have failed to score 20 points; in 6 of their last 7 games, the Raiders have failed to score more than 20 points. This is another Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip Game and the coin says to take the Raiders plus the points.
Seattle at Philly – 1.5 (48.5): This is the Game of the Week. These two good teams need a win here for different reasons.
The Seahawks lead the Niners by a game in the NFC West and they are currently the first wildcard team in the NFC. They play the Niners again next week in Seattle; it would be nice to have that 1-game cushion going into that game because after that the Seahawks have to go on the road to Arizona.
The Eagles lead the NFC East by a game but they have another game with the Cowboys next week in Philly. They would prefer to have a 1-game cushion for that encounter because the Eagles are on the road for their final two games.
The Eagles are 55 yards per game better than the Seahawks on offense; the Seahawks are 81 yards per game better than the Eagles on defense. I like this game to go OVER.
(Sun Nite) New England – 3.5 at San Diego (50.5): This is the only other game on the schedule this week that deserves consideration as the Game of the Week. The Chargers need this game a whole lot more than the Pats do; the Chargers are at home where they are 5-1 this season; the Pats are on the road – for the second week in a row – where they are 3-3 this season. The signs point to the Chargers and there is that half-point hook on the field goal in the spread. I’ll take the Chargers plus the points at home.
(Mon Nite) Atlanta at Green Bay – 12.5 (55): I may hate myself for this, but I cannot see the Falcons defense throttling the Packers offense for more than a series. I’ll take the Packers and lay that huge spread; I think this game will be a romp.
Finally, here are some inspirational words from Pats’ QB, Tom Brady:
“You never get over losses. I’ve never gotten over one loss I’ve had in my career. They always stick with me.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………