First, a look back at last week’s Mythical Picks:
I liked Chargers +9 against Broncos. Broncos won by 14. No!
I liked Lions -3.5 over Falcons. Lions won by only 1. No!
I liked Vikes +2.5 against Bucs. Vikes won by 6. Yes!
I liked Pats -6 over Bears. Pats won by 28. Yes!
I liked Rams/Chiefs UNDER 45. Total score was 41. Yes!
I liked Rams +7 against Chiefs. Chiefs won by 27. No!
I liked Seahawks -5 over Panthers. Seahawks won by 4. No!
I liked Seahawks/Panthers OVER 44.5. Total was 22. Double No!
I liked Jets -2.5 over Bills. Bills won by 20. No!
I liked Jags +6 against Dolphins. Dolphins won by 14. No!
I liked Ravens over Bengals “pick ‘em”. Bengals won the game. No!
I liked Eagles/Cards OVER 48. Total was 44. No!
I liked Steelers +3 against Colts. Steelers won by 17. Yes!
I liked Raiders/Browns OVER 43. Total was 36. No!
I liked Packers/Saints OVER 55.5. Total was 67. Yes!
I liked Cowboys -9.5 over Skins. Skins won by 3. No!
Last week was another disastrously bad week of mythical picking. The tally for the week was 5-11-0 dragging the season record down to 49-75-2. The idea that these picks will be “mythically profitable” at the end of the season is clearly a pipe dream; the quest to get back to the .500 level looks like an expedition to scale Mount Everest. Nevertheless, proving that I am immune to embarrassment, I shall soldier on…
Even the Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip Games are going south. A coin flip ought to be right half the time. Last week the Coin Flip Games were 0-2-0 taking the record for those games down to 7-13-0. If this trend continues, I may have to call them Coin Flop Games…
In any event, nothing in the past performance from last week – or since the beginning of this season – should tempt anyone to use information herein as the basis for a real wager involving real money on an actual NFL game this weekend or any other weekend. Nonetheless, to be sure, I want to say this to anyone who might consider such a stupid act:
You are so dumb that blondes tell jokes about you!
Given how badly the Bears played in New England last week, I am not sure that they would have been able to go poo in the woods on that day. The Pats won the game 51-23 and everyone wanted to point to Tom Brady’s stat line for the day:
30/35 for 354 yards and 5 TDs with 0 INTs
Five TDs and five incomplete passes for the day… A noble performance. I think there is another stat line from the game that is more interesting and perhaps more revealing:
7 targets, 7 receptions for 61 yards and 1 TD.
That was the stat line for TE, Tim Wright. If you recall, he is the guy the Pats got from the Bucs (plus a 4th round draft pick) in the Logan Mankins trade back in late August. As I recall, the majority opinion at the time was that Bill Belichick must have taken leave of his senses. Well, if the Pats’ O-line can protect Brady sufficiently to allow him to play as he did last week and if Wright continues to catch everything thrown at him, the Pats will come out well ahead on that deal.
The other little vignette from the game that bears mentioning is the sack dance done by Bears’ DE, Lamarr Houston. Demonstrating that he has not had sufficient ballet training, he leaped into the air, landed on his feet, promptly tore his ACL, and is out for the year. [Aside: Perhaps he was merely channeling his inner Stephen Tulloch…?] The reason this injury is noteworthy is that the sack dance happened when the Bears trailed by 4 TDs in the 4th quarter when the Pats had already pulled Tom Brady from the game. This was one of the most meaningless sacks in the history of NFL sacks and worthy of exactly no celebration at all. I wonder if Lamarr Houston can spell ASSHAT…
The Bills trounced the Jets 43-23 last week. Geno Smith did not make it out of the first quarter of the game; he went to the bench as a “coach’s decision”. Rex Ryan had no choice; Smith was 2/8 for 5 yards with 3 INTs at the time he grabbed some pine for the rest of the day – and for the beginning of the Jets’ game this week. That is not the salient point here.
Consider what the Jets’ offense accomplished with Michael Vick running the show. Vick’s stat line was:
18/36 for 153 yards and 0 TDs with 1 INT.
I have been skeptical about Geno Smith’s ability to become a quality NFL QB ever since the Draft that brought him to the Jets. I am even more skeptical about that proposition today than I was then. Nevertheless, the bigger problem here is that the entire Jets’ offense is below mediocre. That kind of performance by Michael Vick is indicative of an offense that just does not work. Yes, the Jets can run the football; but the Woody Hayes era of 3 yards and a cloud of dust is over.
Oh, by the way, Percy Harvin was targeted 11 times in the game and he caught 3 balls for a total of 22 yards.
The Jets’ offensive problems has only a little to do with the “offensive scheme” and a whole lot more to do with the fact that the team lacks sufficient talent to execute any meaningful offensive scheme. The blame for that resides in the lap of the Jets’ GM who has assembled this team and who has a bunch of cap money left unspent this year. Moreover, the GM was instrumental in the selection of Geno Smith as the new “franchise QB” once the Jets realized that their previous “franchise QB” (Mark Sanchez) failed to live up to expectations.
The Chiefs beat the Rams handily last week. Here is an interesting stat for the Chiefs:
They have not allowed a rushing TD yet this year.
They are the only team in the league that can say that.
The Dolphins beat the Jags by 14 points last week. In that game, Blake Bortles threw 2 Pick Sixes. Do the math, folks… Oh, by the way, he lost a fumble too. Bortles has raw talent and is on a learning curve but he is hardly an average QB yet. For the season, he has thrown 13 INTs and 4 of those have been returned for TDs.
The Steelers beat the Colts 51-34; that game was one week after the Colts’ defense shut out the Bengals. No, that does not make any sense to me either. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 522 yards and 6 TDs in the game. Part of the reason he could do so was that he was rarely pressured – let alone sacked or even hit.
The Saints beat the Packers handily last week. That win keeps the Saints in the NFC South race but there were two other things that came from the game that are more interesting to me:
1. Neither team punted in the game.
2. Aaron Rodgers “tweaked a hammy” in the game and was “less than fully mobile” for much of the game. Rodgers’ condition going forward is most important to the Packers.
The Texans beat the Titans by 2 TDs and Arian Foster ran for 151 yards. Foster is back in form; that is his fourth consecutive game with 100+ yards rushing.
In the Eagles/Cards game, the two teams combined to throw 104 passes in the game. Those passes produced a total of 740 yards of combined passing offense. What is more interesting to me is that in this game there were ZERO sacks.
The Saints beat the Panthers on a late TD pass by Russell Wilson. That outcome led to:
1. The Panthers held onto the NFC South lead by the slimmest of margins
2. The Seahawks stayed only 2 games behind the Cards in the NFC West race.
The Lions trailed the Falcons 21-0 at the half and won the game 22-21 on a last second field goal. I do not want to be abstruse about this next point, so let me be blunt:
When you lead by 3 TDs at the half, you damned well ought to win that game.
The Bengals beat the Ravens by 3 points last week. The Bengals lead the AFC North for now but interestingly, all four teams in that division are over .500.
The Browns beat the Raiders last week; that is their 4th win for the season and it matches the number of wins the Browns had all of last year. The Browns hardly dominated the game; the Raiders’ defense held the Browns to 39 yards rushing and only allowed the Browns to convert 2 of 12 third down situations. Three turnovers by the Raiders were instrumental in continuing their winless ways. By the way, the last time the Raiders won a game was last November 17 when they beat the Texans. Check the calendar; they are coming up on a full year of losses pretty quickly.
The Bucs lost again last week in OT to the Vikings. The Bucs’ offense was anemic; they gained 159 yards passing (28 attempts) and 66 yards rushing (23 attempts); they converted 1 of 12 third down situations. Looking at those numbers more closely, the Bucs’ offense was worse than merely anemic…
Here are the teams on their Bye Week:
Falcons will try to figure out how to hold a 3 TD halftime lead in case they have one against the Bucs next week.
Bills will be rooting for the Pats and Dolphins to lose this week as they prep for the Chiefs to come calling next week.
Bears will try to get either their offense or their defense to play decently by the time they take the field in Green Bay next week.
Lions will get some R&R, bask in the knowledge that they lead their division at the halfway mark and prep for a visit by the Dolphins next week.
Packers will hope that the week off will give Aaron Rodgers’ leg time to heal so that he is ready for a game with the Bears next week.
Titans will try not to focus on the fact that they are only one game ahead of Jax in the standings as they prep for a trip to play the Ravens next week.
(Thurs Nite) New Orleans – 3 at Carolina (49): The Panthers lead the division with a 3-4-1 record; the Saints are ever-so-slightly behind the Panthers at 3-4-0. The winner of this game will be the division leader and the other two teams in the NFC South (Falcons and Bucs) can be considered irrelevant. It is too early in the season to call the game “critical” for either team, but it an important game. The Saints defense played well against the Packers last week. There are two possibilities here:
1. The defense has begun to “get it” and is coming together now
2. The defense took advantage of a hobbled Aaron Rodgers
I think it is a bit more of #2 than #1 here. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ defense played the way it was projected to play all year long against the Seahawks last week but the Panthers’ offense was pathetic generating all of 266 yards in the game. The Saints lead the NFC in total offense while the Panthers are 13th in the conference in total offense. The difference between the two teams is a meaningful 113 yards per game. Even discounting the Saints’ road woes, I think their offensive advantage is worth a field goal. I’ll take the Saints to win and cover.
San Diego at Miami – 1.5 (44.5): Statistically, these teams are pretty evenly matched.
Chargers are 8th in total offense in the AFC
Dolphins are 7th in total offense in the AFC.
The difference is 1.7 yards per game
Chargers are 6th in total defense in the AFC
Dolphins are 4th in total defense in the AFC.
The difference is 7.3 yards per game.
Make this purely a venue call. I’ll take Miami at home and lay the points.
Jax at Cincy – 11 (43.5): This is a sandwich game for the Bengals. They beat a division rival (Ravens) last week and have another division rival (Browns) on tap for next week. Here in the middle are the visiting Jags who have begun to play decent defense but who cannot seem to generate any consistency on offense. Believe it or not, the Bengals’ defense ranks dead last in the AFC; you could win a bar bet or two on that proposition this week. Last week, the Jags shot themselves in the foot multiple times and lost a game they could have won. Are they on the brink of a turnaround – or are they going to revert to “customary Jaguars ineptitude”? I do not have an answer there but I do notice a double-digit spread on the game. I’ll take the Jags plus the points.
Tampa at Cleveland – 6.5 (43.5): The Bucs are 1-6 for the year and here is a glimpse into the foundation of that incompetence:
Bucs are 16th in the NFC in total offense.
Bucs are 16th in the NFC in total defense.
That is a recipe for STINK. The Browns do not win prettily; that is for sure. Nonetheless, the Browns are 4-3 on the year; a win here followed by a win next week over the Bengals could actually put the Browns in contention for a playoff slot. I believe that is what former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, would call irrational exuberance. I think the poor defense of the Bucs combined with the poor defense of the Browns (15th in the AFC) will allow for some scoring to happen. I like the game to go OVER.
Washington at Minnesota “pick ‘em” (43.5): The word this morning is that RG3 will start at QB for the Skins. That announcement moved the line exactly one point; the Vikes opened as a 1-point favorite. Both teams bring losing records to this contest but the Skins’ offense is simply better than the Vikes’ offense. I like the Skins to win this game and I like the game to go OVER.
Philly – 2 at Houston (48.5): There is no history between these two teams; they have only met three times. The Eagles are in the midst of a stretch of games that do not involve division foes; after the Cards last week and the Texans this week, their next 3 games are:
Panthers at home
At the Packers
Titans at home
The key here is the ability of the Eagles’ defense to keep Arian Foster from running wild. Oh, it might also be a good idea for them to block JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney on passing downs so that they do not break Nick Foles like a match stick. I’ll take the Eagles and lay the points on the road.
Jets at KC – 9.5 (41.5): As noted above, the Jets’ offense is a mess – to be polite about it. Nonetheless, this is the kind of game that Andy Reid’s teams tend to struggle with. I like the Jets plus the points here and I like the game to go OVER.
Arizona at Dallas – 4 (48): I can find this line at only one Internet sportsbook; all the others have the game off the board as of today because of the uncertainty of Tony Romo’s ability to play this weekend. Just a hunch, I’ll take the Cards plus the points.
St. Louis at SF – 10 (43.5): The Niners need a win to stay within striking distance of the Cards in the NFC West. The Rams are not going to be in playoff contention but the Rams will play hard in every game. The Niners had last week off after the Broncos waxed them by 25 points two weeks ago. I do not want to lay that double-digit spread so I’ll take the game to go OVER.
Denver – 3 at New England (54.5): Clearly, this is the Game of the Week. These are two very good teams and no one can complain about the quarterbacking in this contest. I see this as a points-a-palooza game. I like the game to go OVER. I recognize the advantage the Pats get when they play at home. I also like the Pats plus the points.
Oakland at Seattle – 15 (43): After contemplating the Broncos/Pats game, looking at the woebegone Raiders and the underachieving Seahawks is about as appealing as a fart in an oxygen tent. The Raiders are last in the AFC in offense; if the Seahawks defense decides to play to the level it showed last year, the Raiders might not get to double digits; remember, the Seahawks held the Packers to 16 points and the Broncos to 20 points this year. That defensive effort seems to be the key to the game because the seemingly moribund Seahawks’ offense ought to wake up quickly here once it encounters the mild resistance of the Raiders’ defense. I hate double-digit spreads; I really do. However, the match-ups plus the venue plus the fact that the Seahawks need a win here to stay relevant in the NFC West and/or the NFC wildcard races points to a lopsided score. With no enthusiasm at all, I’ll take the Seahawks and lay the points.
(Sun Nite) Baltimore at Pittsburgh “pick ‘em” (48): Were it not for the Broncos/Pats game, this would be the Game of the Week. The Steelers have a slight offensive advantage; the Ravens have a slight defensive advantage. It would not be any surprise at all if this game were decided by a field goal with 5 seconds left on the game clock; that seems to be the script for AFC North games almost as if a pro ‘rassling script writer were calling the shots. Both teams are 5-3 and chasing the Bengals in the division. Purely a venue call, I’ll take the Steelers to win the game.
(Mon Nite) Indy -3 at Giants (51): The Colts rank first in the entire NFL in total offense and in passing offense; they average 452.3 yards per game. The Colts have a 120 yards per game advantage on offense. On defense, the Colts also hold an advantage of 32 yards per game – and that includes the monstrous game the Colts allowed last week against the Steelers. The Colts’ disadvantage here is the venue; it is not Indy and it is outdoors. I still think the Colts are the better team here so I’ll take them and lay the points even on the road.
Oh, in case you didn’t notice, there are no Curmudgeon Central Coin Flip Games this week. Whatever…
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………