Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Some more footballin'!

Anyone who has taken my advice this year has probably had a fairly lousy year in their pool. I've been helping my buddy John make his picks in his office pool. Fortunately, it's one of those pools that require you to weigh your picks. Like, 16 points through 1 point. And on the plus side, the top few picks I send him each week are usually accurate, so we're hanging in there, points-wise. But I am second-last in my office pool (thanks in no small part to forgetting my picks one week). And then - the couple of pools where I am playing against the spread - I am doing exceedingly well. So I certainly hope no one is taking my advice. I am merely writing down these picks here as a point of reference for me, and so I can go back and check them out after the season ends. Now, if only the Skins would be as good as they seem. And the Giants and Cowboys would be as good as they are. And the Rams would be as bad as they are. And the...ah, screw it. The NFL is messed up this year.

Oh and Matt - I do these picks early in the week, because I have just watched many of these teams play either yesterday or the day before. So they are fresh in my brain, and I go by gut feeling. Clearly, it isn't working for me this year, but the past two years this method has earned me money. And of course, I reserve the right to change these picks before the games begin, if for example Donovan McNabb gets hit by a bus. (And I sure hope he doesn't get hit by a bus.)

Pittsburgh - Cincinnatti: Pittsburgh is good. More than that, they're great. And the Bengals haven't seemed to be able to get it together. But Cincinnatti can still be an explosive team if they get it together, they could well get it together this week, and upsets like this have been known to happen. Last week. And the week before. And the week before that. So who knows? I'll take the Bengals to cover the 9.5 (as it stands today) spread, but the Steelers to win. They are coming off a bye...not that it's meant anything before, this year.

Steelers, 38-10. OK. This was not the game the Bengals were going to win. The did not get it together, and boy, are they ever missing Carson Palmer. But not as much as they are missing a run defense. And a pass defense. And a running game. And some character. And a hope in hell of winning a game this year. OK, the Bengals will win a game this year. It just won't come against a team as good as Pittsburgh.

New York Giants - San Francisco: OK. The Giants can't be as bad as they looked last week against Cleveland. Can they? What? The Niners are not a team that can be considered elite, or even good, and they certainly don't have the talent of the Browns. Maybe. More than anything, I just can't see the Giants losing two weeks in a row. And I see them wanting to make a statement here. Saying we ARE still the best team in football. And who knows, maybe they still are! And they are at home...they will cover the 10.5 spread. As it stands today.

Giants, 29-17. Well, the Giants did win. And they did cover the spread. So I was right. But I sure didn't feel right after watching this game. I said that New York would come out and make a statement here, cementing their status as the best team in football. And they didn't. In fact, they looked pretty bad. The only team that looked worse was the Niners. Who are dreadful.

Houston - Detroit: The Lions ARE 0-5 terrible. They are one of the worst football teams in recent memory. However, that doesn't mean they can't pull one out of their butts and win one, here and there. They almost beat the Vikings, after all. They will win at least one game this year, but it won't come in Houston, with the Texans riding high after that amazing last-second win over Miami this week. Lions to cover the 9 points, Texans to win.

Texans, 28-21. Again, I'm right. Barely. Detroit actually showed some heart in this one, coming back to bring the score within a TD toward the end. Houston started off huge, still riding off the high of last week. But they faded quickly down the stretch, and the Lions almost made a real game of it. Lions cover, but they are still incredibly lousy. Texans win, but they are terribly that good yet.

Dallas - St. Louis: OK. Tony Romo is out. That is a given, and that means there could well be a major letdown for Dallas. But against the Rams? The Rams, who just beat the Skins in a dramatic last-second victory? Oh, God I don't want to call this one. So I'll push. Dallas to win, Rams to cover the 7 points.

Rams, 34-14. Well, the Rams covered the spread. And then some. And then some more. To the best of my recollection, Tony Romo doesn't play linebacker. What was with Stephen Jackson running roughshod over this defense? And Brad Johnson acquitted himself decently at QB, except for the three picks. But Dallas got outplayed thoroughly here. I still can't believe the Rams are this good, but I do believe that the Cowboys are in complete disarray with their various injuries and headaches and distractions. The Rams will come down next week, but the Cowboys will stay down for a while. I must admit, I went against my own advice this week and at the last second, in my pools, picked the Rams to win. I just thought there had to be a big upset this week, and this was the one that was most likely.

Tennessee - Kansas City: The Titans remain the only unbeaten team. Despite their win over the Broncos, the Chiefs remain a terrible team. By the laws that govern football this year, that means that Kansas City should beat the Titans by about forty points. But they won't. I think. Titans to win, and cover the 7 point spread.

Titans, 34-10. OK, Titans won and covered the spread. Perhaps the NFL is returning to the sort of balance and regular play that I need to do well in my pool. This is how it should be. The Titans are very good. The Chiefs are very bad. But is anyone else amazed at Tennessee's division? With Jacksonville and the Colts in there, I figured they would be the best division in football this year. And the Colts are 3-3. And the Jaguars don't make any sense. Only the Titans are holding up their end of things.

Tampa Bay - Seattle: Tampa Bay beat a very good team, Carolina, this week. And I still believe in the Panthers. And the Buccaneers beat them badly. The Seahawks lost to a beaten up team in Green Bay, and they are as bad as they seem. Away from home, the Hawks don't stand a chance. Except for this year, when they could well win this game by thirty. But they won't. I think. Tampa to win, Tampa to cover the 10.5.

Tampa, 20-10. OK, Tampa didn't cover the 10.5. They came close. And this game was not as close as it seemed. Seattle put together but one convincing drive in the entire game, their offense is absolutely abysmal. And the Hawks defense looked pretty good against the run, but had a really hard time keeping Jeff Garcia from throwing the ball. The Buccaneers are quite good, the Seahawks are definitely terrible.

New York Jets - Oakland: The Jets aren't necessarily for real yet, but they certainly look good. The Raiders have been, for the most part, playing pretty hard, but they suck. The Jets are getting three points in Oakland, and they deserve it. Favre and the Jets to win, and to cover.

Raiders, 16-13. OK, it took a blown timeout call at the end of regulation. And it took a massive 57-year field goal by Sebastien Janikowski for the Raiders to prevail here. But maybe they've turned a corner. It's possible. They have been playing hard all year, just finding ways to lose every game. Perhaps now they have found a way to win? At least against mediocre teams?

Chicago - Minnesota: The Vikings looked pretty terrible against the even-more-terrible Lions last week. The Bears looked stunned against the Falcons. (And rightly so - that finish said more about the Bears than it did about Atlanta.) The Bears have trouble closing out games, but if Minnesota is as bad as they looked this week, they won't win in Chicago. Since it is a home game for the Bears, I will take them over Minnesota in a battle of two enigmatic, probably subpar teams.

Bears, 48-41. Are you kidding me? At least I was right...but those offenses don't look subpar, all of a sudden. And the Bears special teams look like they may be more than just Devin Hester (who was injured in this one). I still think both of these teams basically suck, but the Bears are slightly better. In Chicago. Take the Vikings in Minnesota, folks.

Washington - Cleveland: A week ago, I would have said the Skins could never lose to the Browns. Then they lost to the Rams, who are worse than the Browns. I would also have said the Browns could never beat Washington. Then they beat the Giants, who are better than Washington. So...I still think the Skins should (and will) win this game. Just not by the 7 points I see on the line right now.

Redskins, 14-11. Yep. Maybe my skills are coming back. Washintong won, but Cleveland covered the spread here, with a bit of a letdown after the massive Giants win last week. And the Skins played with a chip on their shoulder after their loss to the Rams. Washington is not as good as they seemed early, and Cleveland is not as bad as they seemed early. These are both pretty decent teams.

New England - Denver: The Broncos are not as good as they seem. The Jaguars proved that this week, hammering the Broncos all over the field. The Patriots are still pretty good, even though they were hammered by the Chargers. I am betting on the fact that this was more a re-awakening by San Diego than it was a descent into lower-level mediocrity by the Patriots. And I think New England will win this Monday nighter, at home, against an over-rated Denver team.

Patriots, 41-7. Well, Denver certainly proved in this game that they are, indeed, over-rated. But...is their offense over-rated as well? 0 points through the first three quarters? Sure, there were lots of turnovers. But wow! It turns out that San Diego hammering New England was NOT a re-awakening of the Chargers, just another weird anomaly. But the Broncos are exposed, and they must be awfully thankful that San Diego lost to the Bills. Looks like it will be a difficult struggle to the finish for Denver, while the Patriots will not be dominant, but will make the playoffs.

Miami - Baltimore: The Fish are for real, despite that incredible last-second loss to the Texans. They are genuinely, deceptively, a mediocre team. So too are the Ravens. This week was either Peyton Manning's re-awakening, or the exposing of the Ravens defense as merely good, and not spectacular. If it was the Ravens coming down to earth, Miami wins. If it was just the Colts finally taking off, Baltimore wins. I am betting on Baltimore not being that good. So Miami wins, Ravens cover the three.

Ravens, 27-13. The Dolphins magic may well have worn off here. And it turns out that last week was not the Ravens coming down to earth. And it was not the Colts taking off. It was a bizarre, flukey, stupid anomaly game in the NFL this stupid, bizarre, anomaly-filled season. At least the Ravens covered the spread.

Carolina - New Orleans: The Saints beat up on a weak Raiders team this week, but do they ever look good! And the Panthers were embarassed by a pretty good Tampa team. My gut tells me that the Panthers are still as good as I think they are, and that means they are better than the Saints. But barely. Carolina's at home, I'll take the Panthers to win. And because I'm a sissy, New Orleans to cover the three point spread.

Panthers, 30-7. I was too much of a sissy, shoulda listened to my gut. I am totally convinced now. The Panthers are still terrific, and that Buccaneers game was another of those stupid anomalies that have permeated the NFL this year. There is still a chance that every single team in the NFL could finish this season at 8-8. It could happen. Stupid football.

San Diego - Buffalo: The Bills are favoured in this one, which is understandable to a degree, because they have a better record. However, the Chargers, I believe, have caught fire. And San Diego, playing at their highest level, is three times better than Buffalo at their highest level. Chargers to win, obviously cover the spread, and then run it right up on the Bills. Who are good, but they're not there yet.

Bills, 23-14. OK, the Chargers have not caught fire. They are merely a team that is hot one week, cold the next. Depending on where they are. We will have to flip a coin to see which Chargers team will show up next week. In England. The Bills have still not convinced me they are for real, but they will beat every team that plays like the Chargers did today.

Indianapolis - Green Bay: The Colts may well be for real. They might have regained their winning ways in their convincing victory this week over the Ravens. I am betting on the Ravens losing it rather than the Colts getting it back, but Indy should still be able to beat a badly beaten up Green Bay squad. I'll be cheering for the Packers, but I'll take the Colts against the spread and straight up.

Packers, 34-14. For once, I am thrilled to be wrong. The Colts have not bounced back. They are not yet the Colts of old. Nor are they guaranteed to become the Colts of old this season. The Packers are great at Lambeau, Favre or no Favre. And Aaron Rodgers looked really, really good today. So too did that Packers defense. I won't be picking against this team again this season. At least at home.


  1. Hey Eric, I read your post and I see your reasoning for making your picks early in the week. Honestly, I tried that last year and I must say I really screwed up miserably. Anyone, (yourself included) can change their picks provided that the said game(s) have not yet started. I am a pathetic (49-39) straight up this season so maybe I shouldn't be offering up any advice. And while I'm at it, I will definitely use different methods when selecting winners for NFL games the rest of this season and in future seasons because obviously what I'm doing is not working.

  2. Yeah, it worked really well for me last year, in fact the last three years. And it probably will next year as well. And I would suggest that 49-39 is NOT pathetic straight-up this year - everyone leading the straight-up pools I'm in has gone with nothing but the favourites in every game, and although I'm near the bottom, I'm only down by five or six actual points. It's been a lousy year for everyone, not just you and me. Well, mostly it's been a lousy year for the Detroit Lions. But also the bettors!

  3. The De(fea)troit Lions are nothing but an EMBARASSMENT... end of that discussion. My (49-39) is pathetic because if I wouldn't have changed/ would have stuck with some of my selections I could have been (71-17) at this point on the season beating every 'so called' expert wearing a suit and tie.