Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some football picks. Because...I don't know why I still do this.

I am not giving up. I am not quitting my pools halfway through. Last year, I led most of them pretty much wire-to-wire, going mostly on gut instinct. This year, I am hoping to rise from second-last to first by using gut instinct. So far, my record is 64-52 straight up, and 69-47 against the spread. And every week, I slip further and further from the top of the standings, as everyone else in these pools just keeps on taking the favourites. I guess the theory there is that if there is a major upset, at least everyone loses. Well, here goes for one more week of sucking.

Arizona - St. Louis: I'm taking the Rams to win outright, because I need to make up ground in my pool. The Cardinals have looked good this year, they have played well for the most part, but they seem to play better against really good opponents and worse against really bad ones. And this is a game where St. Louis can prove they are not as bad as people think. It seems like they have come back down to earth, but they are all pulling in the right direction still, and I think they will upset the Cardinals. Cards are currently favoured by 3.

Arizona, 34-13. Well, colour me dead wrong. The Rams are still a dangerous team, but they're a dangerous bad team. And the Cardinals under Kurt Warner all of a sudden look like a force. They will win their division this year, and might even make noise beyond that. Most surprising to me was that the Cards put up this kind of defensive effort. Kudos Arizona, you have screwed me in my pool.

Atlanta - Oakland: The Falcons are favoured by 3, but they will win by more than that. Sure, the game's in Oakland, but Atlanta is the much stronger team. And they will be playing with an eye on the fact that if they win the easy games, they will make the playoffs. And they will win this one.

Atlanta, 24-0. I should have said, the spread should be eight times bigger than it is. The Falcons are not this good. But the Raiders are this bad. And although Oakland looked for a while as though they were playing tough, and might just turn a corner, it looks like they may well have thrown in the towel for the rest of the year. I would maybe suggest betting against them from here on out.

Buffalo - New York Jets: The Jets have won a few games of late, games that perhaps by all rights they shouldn't have won. They have played sloppy, and been tested by some very poor teams. The Bills are too good, and playing at home they shouldn't have much trouble here. Only a massive game from Favre could swing this the other way. Don't rule it out, but don't bet on it. Bills by more than the 5 point spread.

New York Jets, 26-17. Well, a big game from Favre, or a huge game from the Jets defense. Or an egg laid by the Bills. Either way, this game proves at least one thing - the Bills were over-rated early on, and the Jets were under-rated. I still think it's a long shot for the Jets to make the playoffs, but then I would have guessed that there was no way they'd have a winning record at this stage of the season either. After a great start, the Bills have lost their last two games and 3 of their last five. Bills lose. Bills don't cover the spread. Bills aren't that good.

Chicago - Detroit: In Chicago, take the Bears. In Detroit, take the Bears. In either city, take the Lions to cover the points. Chicago is favoured by 13.5, in a division game. It's too much. The Lions have been playing teams tough lately, and although they are not good enough to win this game (barring a really strange turn of events here and there), they are certainly good enough to cover the spread in a division contest.

Chicago, 27-23. The Lions not only covered the spread, they looked good doing it. There was a chance for them late in the game here, but of course they are the Lions and it was not to be. Only in a division game does Detroit have a chance to keep it closer than a touchdown. Bears are still not as good as their 5-3 record, and the Packers are in fact the best team in that division, but things will even themselves out by the end of the year. And the Lions will obviously still be in last.

Cleveland - Baltimore: Cleveland, plus the points. They are favoured by one, I guess the idea here is that most people think the Ravens are a slightly better team but Cleveland is at home. I think the Browns are actually a much better team than Baltimore, and are beginning to show it. If they keep up their good run right now, they could well make the playoffs despite their 0-3 start.

Baltimore, 37-27. Cleveland looked like they had this one in the bag. And then...what? They let their guard down and got smoked? Baltimore is supposed to have this amazing defense, and the Browns are moving the ball against it. Baltimore has a weak offense, controlled by a rookie QB. And yet...the Ravens come back and win this thing. Cleveland may well be at a point where they haven't learned to close out games. Or win them. But I still think they are better than Baltimore.

Denver - Miami: I'm taking the Dolphins in the upset. The Fish started the season really badly, and the Broncos started really well. Since then, Miami has tried all kinds of trickery and seems to be winning with smoke and mirrors. However, the Broncos, in the past few games, have really looked as though their start was smoke and mirrors. Denver, in fact, sucks. And Miami will surprise them. Broncos are now favoured by 3.

Miami, 26-17. The Dolphins certainly proved that Denver does, in fact, suck. The Broncos have now lost four of their past six, and although the Fish couldn't do anything but kick field goals through most of the game, there was nothing the Broncos could do about it. With the exception of one kickoff return and one three-play lightning drive, even the vaunted Denver offense was useless. Even Jay Cutler was useless. Big props to the Dolphins defense.

Indianapolis - New England: Last year, this was the biggest matchup of the season. This year, it's kind of a non-event. However, the winner of this game could still make a big push for the playoffs. The Patriots are still looking at a possible first-round bye, and they seem to be winning despite themselves. The Colts are losing despite themselves, and they are looking at the wild card at best. New England in the upset, the Colts are bizarrely favoured by 5.5 here.

Indianapolis, 18-15. Well, at least the Patriots covered the spread. The bizarrely large spread. But the Colts looked pretty darn good here. Now New England is tied for first in their division with the Bills, who lost yesterday, and the Jets, who won. And the Colts are 4-4 and have a good chance at that wild card.

Jacksonville - Cincinnatti: The Jaguars, on their best days, are still one of the best teams in football. On their worst days, they can lose to a team as bad as the Bengals. I find it hard to believe they would here, but I do think Cincinnatti has a very good chance to make a game of it. Jaguars to win, Bengals to cover the 7.5 spread.

Cincinnatti, 21-19. And the Bengals...make a game of it! More than that, they actually win that game! Now comes the streak where they finish the season 8-8...seriously though, the Bengals will win two more games this year. I mean it. And the Jaguars could still find themselves and catch fire and make the playoffs. More likely however, they will continue to fumble around, look confused, and lose to teams they should destroy.

Minnesota - Houston: The Texans are playing really, really well of late. Three wins in a row is nothing to discount. But all three of those wins have come at home, and the Texans are still 0-3 on the road this year. The Vikings haven't looked great this year, but they have played well at home. Take Minnesota to win, Houston to cover the 4.5.

Minnesota, 28-21. The Texans did not cover the 4.5. They looked decent, but this was just one of those games where home field and travel time really made a difference. Were this game in Houston, I have no douby the Texans would have prevailed. The Vikings are just not as good as their record right now. And their record is 4-4. Really. They aren't that good.

New York Giants - Dallas: The Giants are just too good for the banged-up, messed-up Cowboys. Dallas is, depsite their just-barely win last week, a pretty bad football team right now. They were supposed to be the NFC Super Bowl favourites this year. The Giants will put that to rest with a convincing destruction of Dallas. They will win, and cover the 9 points.

Giants, 35-21. They won, and covered the 9 points, and convincingly destroyed Dallas. Brad Johnson got yanked, but it wasn't really his fault. His team is sagging around him, and the Giants aren't going to give any quarter in a divisional game. Especially against a team who were supposed to be the best in the NFC. No respect for the Super Bowl champs. None now for the Cowboys, who with the Eagles victory over Seattle are now last in their division at 5-3. That could be a losing record by the end of this washout season.

Philadelphia - Seattle: The Seahawks looked really good last week against the Niners, but then the Niners also looked really, really terrible. That Hawks offense will be absolutely swamped by the Philly defense, there will be turnovers, and Seattle will fall to 2-6. Eagles to win, Eagles to cover the 6.5.

Philadelphia, 26-7. The Eagles will make the playoffs this year. Partly because Dallas is terrible right now, and partly because they are just that good. It looked for a while like Philly couldn't close this one out, but then their defense looked amazing. With the exception of that one play for the TD, the defense did indeed swamp the Seattle offense, which is lousy. Even without sacks until the 4th quarter, the Eagles proved a point here. They won, they covered the spread.

Tampa Bay - Kansas City: The Buccaneers had trouble with a pretty poor Dallas team last week, and they won't let it happen again. Tampa really is a good team this season, and the Chiefs are really terrible. KC looked good against a really sloppy Jets team last week. Tampa may be a lot of things, but sloppy isn't one of them. However, Tampa has been poor on the road this year, and KC has played much better at home - Bucs to win, Chiefs to cover the 8 points.

Tampa Bay, 30-27 (OT). Is Tampa maybe...not that good? They spot the Chiefs a 21 point lead. The Chiefs. 21 points. And then, of course, because it's the Chiefs, they let Tampa come back and take them to OT and win it. However, against any other team in the NFL, except maybe the Lions, the Bucs would have been totally hammered in this game. Maybe it's just that home-road thing. Or maybe the Chiefs are that, the Bucs were lucky to get this win after laying that egg. Bucs win, Chiefs cover spread.

Tennessee - Green Bay: The Titans look amazing. They have a great running game, and a great defense. But at some point in the season, just having an adequate quarterback is not good enough. Every now and then, you have to ask your QB to win a game for you, and I think Kerry Collins is just not that guy. But I do think this is that game. Packers are coming off a bye, they are rested and more healthy than they have been since Week One, and they will make Collins beat them. Collins will not be up to it. Pack in an upset.

Tennessee, 19-16. Well, at least the Packers covered the spread. And after Bironas missed that field goal at the end of regulation, I thought the Packers had this one. Frankly, in the third and fourth quarters, Green Bay looked like the better team. After that bye week, they are healthier again, and they will be a real force in the next couple of weeks. And the Titans are, indeed, for real. They will be 11-0 before they are even tested a little again.

Washington - Pittsburgh: Amazingly, the Redskins are favoured at home against the Steelers. Pittsburgh is obviously a better team, but it seems people are paying attention to the fact that they have not won a single game against their NFC East opponents this year. I'm paying attention to that as well. It's MNF, and anything can happen, but I think this trend will continue. I'm taking Washington by three. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was Pittsburgh by twenty.

Pittsburgh, 23-6. And it was, indeed, the Steelers by almost 20. I shouldn't have taken Washington by three. Or at all. Frankly, I ended up cheering for the Steelers, because of some lingering superstition I have where the final Redskins home game predicts the outcome of the election - if they win, the incumbent party wins. And if they lose, so too does the incumbent party. And more than winning my pool, I cheer for a loss by the incumbent Republicans in the States. Seriously though, why did Jason Campbell throw the ball on 4th and goal from the one-inch line?

I am now 71-59 straight up, and 78-52 ATS.

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