Last week was a bland week for Mythical Picking. I made 13 selections and the record for the week was 6-6-1. That is about as exciting as a tofu on white-bread sandwich. The season record for NFL Mythical Picks now stands at 81-50-4.
The Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip Protocol had a less-than-successful week. There were 2 Coin Flip Games and the record was 0-1-1. About halfway through the NFL season, the coins’ record stands at 8-8-1. That is about what one ought to expect from flipping a coin…
The Best Picks from last week were:
- Lions +6 against Vikes. Lions won straight up by 6 points.
- Cowboys -7 against Browns. Cowboys covered easily.
The Worst Picks from last week were:
- Packers – 7.5 against Colts. Colts won the game outright.
- Broncos “pick ’em” against Raiders. Raiders won handily.
Notwithstanding the positive season record for NFL Mythical Picks, no one should think of using any information here as the basis for making a real wager on a real NL game this weekend involving real money. You would have to be this stupid to do something like that:
You think pasteurize means out of sight.
The Miami Dolphins look to be on a roll having won 3 games in a row. Their record now stands at 4-4 which may not look like an outstanding record, but it is sufficient to put the Dolphins in second place in the AFC East a half-game ahead of the Buffalo Bills who have now lost 3 games in a row. If the playoffs were to start today, they would be in the playoffs as the #2 wild-card team in the AFC; their win over the Steelers a couple of weeks ago would be the tiebreaker that put them there.
In case you did not know, the last time the Dolphins were in the playoffs was all the way back in 2008. Last week, the Dolphins beat the Jets 27-23. The Jets are now 3-6 for the season and I know that it is not de rigueur for an NFL team to toss in the towel in November, but it is pretty much over for the Jets as of this moment. Yes, they might win out and wind up 10-6 and sneak into the playoffs; yes, they might also plant some magic beans that grow into a beanstalk and … What the Jets need to do is to start one of their raw rookie QBs to find out if he can even pretend to be an NFL QB somewhere down the line. The current offensive “system” for the Jets is not working; they got into the red zone 5 times last week and scored only 1 TD; note they lost by only 4 points …
Oh, one more thing about the Jets … It may be time for them to think about moving Darelle Revis from CB to Safety. “Revis Island” is no longer inaccessible; someone has built a four-lane causeway out to the island.
Last week, Jay Ajayi ran for 111 yards against the Jets’ defense. If there is any good news for the Jets in that number, it is that the Jets’ defense held Ajayi under 200 yards – a mark he surpassed in his previous 2 games.
The Bills were the other AFC East team in action last week and they lost to the Seahawks 31-25. There were some “controversial calls” by the officials in the game and there were some totally botched calls by the official in the game. In several of Dan Jenkins’ novels about football and the NFL, he has as characters in the books NFL referees who have bet on the games on the side and use their calls to assure that they cash their bets. That is fiction and I doubt that any NFL official does anything close to that. But if you wanted to make a made-for-TV-movie with that sort of thing as a plot element, there is NFL game footage from this year that can be used in the made-for-TV-movie to lend full credibility to the plot element.
The Seahawks’ OL continues to “struggle” – to put it politely. Against the Bills the Seahawks ran the ball 12 times for 33 yards. Their leading “rusher” was WR, Tyler Lockett who ran for 13 yards on a reverse; the second leading rusher was Russell Wilson who gained 10 yards on 3 carries. Notwithstanding this sort of OL play, the Seahawks lead the NFC West by 2 full games as of today.
In other NFC West action, the Panthers beat the Rams 13-10. Which of these two situations obtained in this game:
- The Panthers ‘defense got back on track and played the way they did last year
- This was the Rams’ offense showing that it is – well – offensive.
You make the call…
Like the Seahawks, the Panthers’ OL needs to step up its game significantly. The Rams sacked Cam Newton 5 times in this game and most of those sacks came in situations where the Panthers’ OL was overrun.
The Rams’ fans were not happy with the performance of Case Keenum at QB; after all, the Rams were still scoreless at the end of the 3rd quarter. The fans began chanting for rookie, Jared Goff, to come into the game; after those chants went unanswered some of the fans began chanting for Tim Tebow.
Memo for Rams’ Fans: Just be aware that both Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin are not available to enter a game at QB because they are both – – dead.
By the way, the recipe for beating the Rams now seems pretty apparent. If you can put the squeeze on RB, Todd Gurley, and make the Rams try to beat you through the air, you stand a good chance of winning the game. The Panthers did just that and came away with the win – in the week after Cam Newton went to talk to the Commish about him not getting calls for roughing the passer. Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle had this to say about that meeting:
“Cam Newton going to the NFL commissioner to plead for more protection — isn’t that odd for a guy who claims to be Superman?”
The Saints beat the Niners 41-23. So, just how bad is the Niners’ defense? The Saints – a team known for its dominant passing attack – ran the ball for 248 yards (Mark Ingram had 158 of those yards by himself.). Lest you think that running game put Drew Brees on ice for the week, it did not. Brees threw for 323 yards and 3 TDs.
The Chargers beat the Titans 45-33. Titans’ QB, Marcus Mariota, handed the Chargers 2 TDs in the game losing a fumble that turned into a Scoop-and-Score and then throwing a Pick Six. There you have 14 points for the Chargers and the margin of victory was 12 points. The Chargers rode RB, Melvyn Gordon’s, big day; Gordon ran for 196 yards and a TD on 32 carries.
The Raiders beat the Broncos in a nationally televised game 30-20. Latavius Murray was dominant in this game rushing for 114 yards and a TD. It is not often that the Broncos allow an opponent running back to gain 100 yards in a game. On the flip side, the Raiders’ defense came to play shutting down the Broncos’ run game. The Broncos tried to run the ball 12 times and gained a total of 33 yards. The Raiders had the ball for 41:28 in the game. The Raiders are in first place in the AFC West by half-a-game over the KC Chiefs.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs beat the Jags 19-14 last week. Chiefs’ TE, Travis Kelce, was ejected from the game after getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from the official for his objection to a non-call in the end zone. That is no big deal; every pass receiver worth his salt in the league does something like that on a weekly basis. Kelce’s protest was a bit more melodramatic than usual and he got a flag. What he did next was pure meatheadedness:
He reached into the pocket of his pants and took out a towel that was there and threw it at the official. At that point the official gave Kelce a foreign language lesson by bidding him Sayonara!
The Jags outgained the Chiefs in this game 449 yards to 231 yards and they gained more than 200 yards on the ground. Normally, those stats result in a victory; not here. The Jags also turned the ball over 4 times leading to 13 of the Chiefs’ 19 points. In another statistical anomaly, the Chiefs were 1 for 13 on third down – – and still won the game.
The Falcons beat the Bucs 43-28 last Thursday night to get the week off to an interesting start. This was an entertaining game – not something that you could say about most of the Thursday Night Games that have preceded it this year. Matt Ryan threw for 344 yards and 4 TDs while Jameis Winston threw for 261 yards and 3 TDs.
The Cowboys beat the Browns 35-10. The Dak Prescott/Ezekiel Elliott Show carried on. Prescott was 21 for 27 for 247 yards and 3 TDs; Elliott averaged just over 5 yards per carry and scored 2 TDs. The Browns trailed 21-10 at the half which means that the Browns were within hailing distance of the lead. Then in the second half the Browns amassed a total of 28 yards offense. YIKES!
With a record standing at 0-9, the Browns are now just a bit more than halfway to a winless season. Here is the rest of their schedule:
At Ravens (tonight): Browns are a double-digit underdog
Vs Steelers: Browns will be a big underdog here
Vs Giants: Giants will be in the middle of a playoff race
BYE Week: Browns will not lose here…
Vs Bengals: Bengals have won the last 4 meetings
At Bills: Bills might be vulnerable this late in the season – but it is in Buffalo
Vs Chargers: May be a meaningless game for the Chargers.
At Steelers: Last win for Browns at Heinz Field was in October 2003.
The Ravens beat the Steelers 21-14 to take the lead in the AFC North after the Ravens had lost 4 games in a row. Basically, the Ravens’ defense dominated the game; a meaningless score in “garbage time” makes the game look a lot closer than it was. Consider:
- Steelers did not score a point in the first 3 quarters of the game
- Steelers had a total of 68 yards offense in the first half.
- Steelers were penalized 70, yards in the first half.
- Steelers’ RB, LeVeon Bell was held to 32 yards on 14 carries.
The AFC North looks as if it is going to be an interesting race down to the wire on Jan 1 2017…
The Giants beat the Eagles 28-23. Note the difference here is 5 points and realize that the Eagles eschewed 2 very makeable field goals to go for it on 4th down – unsuccessfully both times – in the game. Eli Manning threw for 257 yards and 4 TDS to win the game in the Meadowlands. The Giants lost WR Victor Cruz and OG Justin Pugh to injuries in that game. If both are out for an extended period of time, that could be problematic for the Giants.
The Colts beat the Packers 31-26. Andrew Luck played like a $100M QB in this game; the Colts went into the red zone 4 times and got 3 TDs on those ventures. The Colts also scored a TD on a kickoff return. After the game, Aaron Rodgers called out teammates with regard to “insufficient effort”. That is never a good sign… The Packers are in third place in the NFC North a game behind the Vikes and half a game behind the Lions.
The Lions beat the Vikes last week 22-16 in OT. That is the 3rd straight loss for the Vikes whose offense continues to “sputter” – to be polite about it. Let me be clear about something here; the Vikes were never going to ride their offense into the playoffs; if they were to get there this year, it was going to be defense and special teams that carried the day. Well the defense was good-but-not-great here; there were special teams’ hiccoughs and the offense stunk.
- Since their BYE Week, the Vikes offense has averaged 292 yards per game.
- Last week, the defense allowed the Lions to get in field goal position to force OT.
- Then the defense allowed the Lions to drive 87 yards for a winning TD in OT.
- Place kicker, Blair Walsh missed a PAT and had a field goal blocked in the game.
The NFC North race sees the Packers on the ropes and the Vikes stalled while the Lions are en fuego. The Lions are 5-4 and in every win, they trailed in the final 2 minutes of regulation time. Might the Lions be a “Team of Destiny” in 2016?
There are 4 teams on their BYE Week this week:
- Buffalo needs to regroup; they have lost 3 games in a row.
- Detroit gets a week off to prepare for Jax next week and then the Vikes on Thanksgiving.
- Indy gets a week off hoping for a Houston loss on Sunday.
- Oakland gets a week off basking in the glory of first place in the AFC West.
One more thing before I get to the games and the lines for the week… There are a couple of games that may be important in terms of the standings and the playoffs and that sort of thing this week. However, there are no lines that jump out at me as luscious wagering options. Sometimes, you get a week like that. Hi-Ho!
(Thurs Nite) Cleveland at Baltimore – 10 (45): This spread has wandered during the week. It opened at 9.5 points; it went up to 10 points and stayed there for a day or so; then it came down to 9 points and is sitting at 8.5 points this morning with one sportsbook quoting8 points. The Ravens beat the Browns by 5 points in Week 2 in Cleveland. At this moment, the Ravens lead the AFC North and the Browns are winless. I think this will be a low scoring game so I am torn between taking the Browns plus the points or taking the game to stay UNDER. Decision made; I’ll take the game to stay UNDER.
Houston – 1.5 at Jax (42): This game was a strong contender for the Dog-Breath Game of the Week even though the Texans are in first place in the AFC South. The Texans have yet to win a game on the road this season but the Jags are hardly fearsome at home going 1-3 in their own playpen. Both QBs in this game have shown a propensity to turn the ball over – usually at the worst possible times. I am going to predict that Blake Bortles will be the more egregious turnover machine here. I’ll take the Texans to win and cover even on the road. Here is a meaningless trend that supports the pick I just made:
- Road team is 7-2-1 ATS in the last 10 games between these teams.
KC at Carolina – 3 (44): The Chiefs are on a roll – and they are on the road. The Panthers have their backs to the wall in terms of making the playoffs this year – and they are at home. Purely a venue call here, I like the Panthers to win and cover.
Denver at New Orleans – 2.5 (49): That line is not a typo; Denver is a road underdog here. Last week against the Raiders, the Broncos showed that their defensive backfield injuries leave that part of the defense vulnerable and the Broncos also showed that opponents can run on their D-Line this year. [The loss of Derek Wolfe last week to a stress fracture of the elbow will not help with run defense at all.] The Saints are not a running team – – but last week they ran the ball really well – albeit against the Niners – so this game could hinge on the ability of the Saints to run the ball a bit in order to make Drew Brees even more difficult to defend. The Saints’ defense is not a good unit by any means, but the Broncos’ offense with injuries at RB and no long passing game to speak of will not test that unit much. Hunch call here; I like the Saints to win and cover.
LA at Jets – 2 (40): This game just missed out on the label “Dog-Breath Game of the Week”. The Rams are not interesting nor are they any good; the Jets are not interesting nor are they any good. Imagine the excitement leading up to kickoff for this showdown between Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick. My body is breaking out in hives just thinking about that one. Venue call here; I’ll take the Jets at home and lay the points.
Atlanta at Philly “pick ‘em” (50): Let me be concise; the Falcons are the better team here and they are 4-1 on the road. I’ll take the Falcons to win the game here.
Minnesota at Washington – 2.5 (42): The Skins will be without Pro Bowl LT, Trent Williams for 4 games starting here. If the Vikes DL can exploit that absence and pummel Skins’ QB, Kirk Cousins, this could be a big win for the Vikes. The problem is that the Vikes offense is the worst in the NFL by a decent margin. If the Vikes’ defense does not score, turning the ball over and assuring good field position may not be sufficient. I will call this a Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip Game and the coin says to take the Skins to win and cover at home. This call by the coin flies in the face of the following trend:
- Vikes are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games.
Green Bay – 3 at Tennessee (49.5): The Titans like to run the ball; the Packers only allow 75.8 yards per game running. The Packers might be able to show some balance on offense if they had an actual RB on the roster who was healthy enough to play. Maybe James Starks can return there? I like the Titans’ defense in this game and I like the fact that they are at home. I’ll take the Titans plus the points.
Chicago at Tampa “pick ‘em” (46): Here we have the Dog-Breath Game of the Week. The Bears are 0-4 on the road this year; meanwhile the Bucs are 0-4 at home this year. The oddsmaker wants me to “pick” the winner. Even though I’d rather pick my nose, I’ll take the Bears to win the game.
Miami at San Diego – 3.5 (48.5): Are the Dolphins for real? They are riding a 3-game win streak and the running of Jay Ajayi to second place in the AFC East. The Chargers are 4-5 but in the AFC West, that is nowhere near what the team record needs to be to command “relevancy”. The Chargers’ defense is strongest against the run so this game will be very interesting. I am calling this a Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip Game and the coin says to take the Dolphins plus the points. This time, there is a meaningless trend that agrees with the coin’s selection:
- Dolphins are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 games between these two teams.
SF at Arizona – 13 (48): The Cards should be able to run the ball at will against the Niners’ defense. In their last 3 games, the Niners have lost by 18 points, 17 points and 29 points. I hate laying double-digit points in NFL games, but the Niners lose by those margins frequently. I’ll take the Cards and lay the points – reluctantly.
Dallas at Pittsburgh – 2.5 (49.5): This would have been the Game of the Week had not the Sunday Night matchup been on the card. The way to beat the Cowboys is to stop the run and force Dak Prescott to beat you when he does not have that running game to collapse the defense inside. I do not think that the Steelers have that sort of defense. I think Dallas has a legitimate shot to win the game outright so I’ll take them plus the points here.
(Sun Nite) Seattle at New England – 7.5 (48.5): Here we have the Game of the Week – – and it just might be a Super Bowl foreshadowing. We do know that these two teams met in the Super Bowl recently in the famous game where Malcom Butler intercepted a pass on the 1 yardline to preserve a win for the Pats. I think there will be plenty of scoring in this game so I’ll take the game to go OVER.
(Mon Nite) Cincy at Giants – 1.5 (47): Neither team can afford a loss here but the odds are that one of them will wake up Tuesday morning with another game in the loss column; remember, it is possible for the game to end in a tie The Bengals are 1-3 on the road this year; the Giants are 3-1 at home this year. Venue call’ I’ll take the Giants to win and cover.
Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:
“NFL TV ratings are down. I pondered why on Thursday night as I switched from something like the 25th televised football game of the week to a rerun of ‘Hogan’s Heroes.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………