WEEK 9 NFL PICKS, and "Game of the Week"

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    WEEK 9 NFL PICKS, and "Game of the Week"

         Sorry that I'm lagging a bit behind...but I'm still having lots of technical problems posting. It's a royal pain in butt. That said, onward into Week Nine (9), with the "Game of the Week" being:

    1.) (4-3) Chicago Bears (+11) @ (5-2) Green Bay Packers: Huge Monday Night road game for the Bears, who must go into Green Bay without star LB Lance Briggs, and QB Jay Cutler: http://www.suntimes.com/sports/football/bears/23404217-419/trestmans-stern-test-readying-banged-up-bears-for-packers.html. The Packers are on a roll, having won four straight games, despite some significant injury problems of their own: http://www.packersnews.com/article/20131028/PKR01/310280389/Ascending-Packers-shrug-off-injuries-stay-focused?nclick_check=1. In this fierce divisional rivalry game, an eleven point spread seems a tad high: PICK: Bears;

    2.) (6-2) Cincinnati Bengals @ (3-4) Miami Dolphins (+2.5): A 2.5 point spread? Really?? If the Dolphins thought that the Patriots' pass rush was tough, wait til they experience what the Bengals have to offer: PICK: Bengals;

    3.) (2-5) Atlanta Falcons (+7.5) @ (4-3) Carolina Panthers: Though a 7.5 point spread may seem to be a tad high, these Falcons are a far cry from the group that earned an NFC Championship game birth last season. The 2013 edition of the Falcons think defense is something that's put up around a home. As for the Panthers, their front seven is developing into one of the games' best, led by their firey MLB, "Crazy Luke" Kueckley: PICK: Panthers;

    4.) (1-6) Minnesota Vikings (+10.5) @ (4-4) Dallas Cowboys: Time for the Vikings to consider trading away some of their aging stars, like RB Adrian Peterson and DE Jared Allen, for draft picks. The Cowboys never cease to amaze, as to find improbable ways to give away games. Last weekend in Detroit, they outdid themselves by allowing Matthew Stafford and company to march 80 yards in 50 seconds for a game winning TD, during the final 1:12 of play. Perhaps the Cowboys' coaching staff should take a cue from WR Dez Bryant, and give their players the verbal butt-whipping that they so richly deserve. What? Jerry Jones says no? Oh, never mind: PICK: Cowboys;

    5.) (6-1) New Orleans Saints @ (4-4) NY Jets (+5.5): The Jets showed us what they're really about last weekend in Cincinnati. If their "D" couldn't contain Andy Dalton, how can they be expected to fare against Drew Brees? The Patriots must still be kicking themselves for that costly conference loss to this Clown Car franchise: PICK: Saints;

    6.) (3-4) Tennessee Titans @ (3-5) St. Louis Rams (+3): Both teams will be starting back-ups (Ryan Fitzpatrick for Tennessee, and Kullen Clemens for the Rams). In what should be a boring, low scoring game, look for ex-Titans' coach Jeff Fisher to pull out all the stops to gain a measure of revenge against his former employer: PICK: Rams;

    7.) (8-0) Kansas City Chiefs @ (3-5) Buffalo Bills (+3): One has to begin to wonder about the Chiefs. Sure, they're unbeaten. But, in their last two games against Houston and Cleveland, both of which were played in Kansas City, the Chiefs barely eeked out wins. Though the Bills have a poor record, they have played nearly every opponent tough. Still, is a three (3) point spread enough of a cushion to roll dice on an upset?: PICK: Chiefs;

    8.) (4-3) San Diego Chargers (PK) @ (2-5) Washington Redskins: RG III suffered another knee injury last weekend, in Denver. Though he'll play, it's hard to envision him breaking out of his season long funk. Mike Shanahan should have been fired last season for letting the obviously injured Griffin play in the play-offs. By so doing, he may have ruined the Redskins' best hope of escaping another decade of mediocrity: PICK: Chargers;

    9.) (3-5) Philadelphia Eagles (PK) @ (3-4) Oakland Raiders: Michael Vick is hurt yet again. So, rookie Matt Barkley will start, just north of the cite of his glory days, at USC. But, while the Eagles are hoping that Barkley can demonstrate that he's the man for their vacant QB job, the Raiders may have already found their guy in Terrelle Pryor: PICK: Raiders;

    10.) (0-7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+16.5) @ (7-1) Seattle Seahawks: Though I'm extremely tempted to take Tampa and those 16.5 points, the unfortunate truth of the matter is that the Bucs couldn't score a TD even if the Seahawks replaced their DL with tackling dummies: PICK: Seahawks;

    11.) (3-4) Baltimore Ravens @ (3-5) Cleveland Browns (+2.5): It's really simple...if the Ravens are to have any hope of defending their championship in the play-offs, they must win this game: PICK: Ravens;

    12.) (2-5) Pittsburgh Steelers (+7) @ (6-2) New England Patriots: No game has been easy for the Patriots this season. So, a seven point spread seems a tad high. Expect the Steelers to do whatever they can to pressure and hit a swollen handed, overburdened Tom Brady. To help Tom out, the OL needs to step up, and establish the run. On defense, the Pats must be prepared to deal with a fleet set of Steeler WRs, set on running deep post routes, a variety of bubble screens  and slants. Don't let Pittsburgh's 2-5 record lull you into a state of complacency. The  Roethlisburger led Steelers are still a dangerous team. Anything less than a solid, full 60 minutes of football, and the Pats will head into their bye week on the heels of a stinging defeat:  PICK: Steelers;

    13.) (5-2) Indianapolis Colts @ (2-5) Houston Texans (+2.5): Both teams are coming off a bye week. Look for the Texans to play the Colts tough, behind rookie QB Case Keenum. In his first start two weekends ago, the "K-man" played well in hostile Kansas City, albeit in a losing cause. Still, as I explained regarding the Chiefs/Bills game above, is a 2.5 point spread worth risking hard earned greenbacks, against a good Indy team led by QB Andrew Luck?: PICK: Colts.     

         BEST BETS: Bengals, Raiders, Ravens, Saints, Chargers, and Rams.

         As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome, especially with regards to the Patriots' game. Goodnight, my friends. 

         GO SOX!! Let's deal those Cards their final defeat of 2013 in our beloved Fenway Park, and close 'em out!!!!   

       

     

     

     
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    Re: WEEK 9 NFL PICKS, and

    Oakland is more than "just" north of Los Angeles (especially if you are driving). Other than that I can't necessarily disagree with any of your picks. The Chiefs are really starting to look like the 2011 49ers. Solid, but conservative offense and a heck of a good defense feasting on a below average schedule. If the Chiefs can split with Denver they probably have to be considered the super bowl favorite for the AFC because that is a very loud stadium.  

     
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    Re: WEEK 9 NFL PICKS, and

    After seeing my last week’s pick of the week squeak through on a three point victory with a Vegas line of 2.5 points, I’m suddenly wondering whether three point wins are significantly more likely than two point wins.  If you’re behind by four points with three minutes to go, you go for seven points so that you can get three points ahead.  If you’re behind by five you go for the touchdown, then the two point conversion to get three points ahead.  In Pittsburgh’s case they were behind by 11 and they got a touchdown, so they went for a 2 point conversion and made it.  That left them three points behind.  So, the question of the day here at the University of Beating Vegas like a Drum is, if the line is 2 or 2.5 points, do you as a rule want to try to stay on the 3 point side?  Also, should you avoid drawing to an inside straight?  I’ll run the numbers later. 

    Week 8 was remarkable in terms of few real surprises and so most ranking moves up and down were modest.  I had to check results twice to see if my new data was being read.  Of note:  the top teams have plummeted down so that they’re getting bunched up in the 12-4 or 13-3 power rating range.  Indianapolis is almost a legitimate challenger to Denver’s dominance.  On the other end, the New York Giants at #28 are now the toast of their little town at least for a week, partly because they beat #30 Minnesota, partly because the Jets at #29 are toast.

    New England is stuck at #13, with just a tenth of a point move upward.  Nice victory, but one previous opponent, the Jets, took a little plunge and that dragged New England’s ranking back down to #13. 

    I like the fact that Gronk is fully back and that Amendola may kick off his rust by next week.  I’m unhappy that Kenbrell Thompkins lined up in only 14 plays last week and that he caught zero passes.  Just a guess that KT was playing injured this week and maybe he’ll be back in a week or three.  Tom Brady’s swollen hand seems to be one reason for a production dropoff.  That hand will heal in a week, and certainly in three weeks. 

    It seems like the Pats are playing lots of bad teams these days.  As suspected, the Dolphins appeared to have no pass protection whatsoever, and so Mr. Tannerhill had to dance a lot more than he wanted.  Next up, Pittsburgh, a team that I relied on to be a victim last week. 

    Somewhere on my research list is a Captain Ahab rule:  do wannabe rivals, especially division rivals, tend to mortgage their games before and/or after the big game in order to play the rival tough?  Do they practice for two weeks against the rival, almost ignoring the winnable games before and after the showdown? 

    My all-numeric rankings for week 9:

    1   den   12.8   (last wk. 1)

    2   sea   12.6   (last wk. 2)

    3   gb   12.6   (last wk. 5)

    4   sf   12.6   (last wk. 3)

    5   car   11.7   (last wk. 8)

    6   ind   11.5   (last wk. 4)

    7   dal   11.1   (last wk. 6)

    8   no   10.7   (last wk. 7)

    9   cin   9.9   (last wk. 11)

    10   det   9.6   (last wk. 12)

    11   kc   9.6   (last wk. 9)

    12   sd   9.3   (last wk. 10)

    13   ne   8.7   (last wk. 13)

    14   az   8.4   (last wk. 16)

    15   bal   8.1   (last wk. 18)

    16   ten   8.0   (last wk. 15)

    17   oak   7.5   (last wk. 14)

    18   cle   7.3   (last wk. 21)

    19   buf   6.9   (last wk. 20)

    20   hou   6.8   (last wk. 19)

    21   stl   6.6   (last wk. 25)

    22   mia   6.4   (last wk. 22)

    23   phi   6.3   (last wk. 17)

    24   was   5.8   (last wk. 26)

    25   chi   5.5   (last wk. 28)

    26   atl   5.4   (last wk. 23)

    27   pit   5.2   (last wk. 29)

    28   nyg   5.0   (last wk. 30)

    29   nyj   4.7   (last wk. 24)

    30   min   3.9   (last wk. 31)

    31   tb   3.9   (last wk. 27)

    32   jac   1.8   (last wk. 32)

    My own point spreads

    visitor / home / my points / Vegas’s opinion / Difference

    cin   mia    -3.7   -2.5   -1.2

    atl   car    13.3   7.5   5.8

    sd   was    -3.7   0   -3.7

    no   nyj    -1.8   -5.5   3.7

    ten   stl    1.3   -3   4.3

    min   dal    15.1   10.5   4.6

    kc   buf    0.8   -3   3.8

    tb   sea    14.1   16.5   -2.4

    phi   oak    3.5   0   3.5

    pit   ne    8.5   7   1.5

    bal   cle    -1.4   -2.5   1.1

    ind   hou    -1.7   -2.5   0.8

    chi   gb    10.9   11   -0.1

    After going a winless 0-4 the Pittsburgh Steelers had to do without a ping-pong table in the clubhouse.  After falling behind 2-4 Oakland by 21-3 at the start of the fourth quarter, maybe this week they’ll have to eat toasted moose doots for breakfast.  An 18 point deficit isn’t too great a plan for beating an opponent.  Pitts closed the gap with 1:24 to go in the game but the onside kick failed.  I had Oakland by two touchdowns and in the end, Pitts still failed to cover the spread.  There’s some luck in this business but, if the difference is great enough, numbers can often beat bad luck.  So, I’m 7-1 in games of the week, 87.5%.  Easy pickins. 

    Sorry, but I have no Game of the Week at all for week 9.  In stark contrast to week 8’s juicy selections I have only three potential leaners, just the luck of the draw, and the leaners don’t look healthy for a number of reasons.  So, the three non-leaners don’t qualify as one of my games of the week.  A 6-point difference is usually my limit for real picks and 4 points for leaners. 

    No calls:

    As a rule I dislike big overdogs because they tend to go down.  Next, I’m starting to mistrust blowouts in division games.  On the injury front, Carolina has one player with a groin pull, who would be questionable for next week at this point.  Atlanta has three players, LT Sam Baker, RB Jason Snelling and LB Stephen Nicholas, who might get healthy for the Carolina game. 

    atl   car    13.3   7.5   5.8

    I don't like a St. Louis leaner without Sam Bradford because things happen in the weeks following a QB change.  The opposition starts to figure out your new QB's weaknesses, and all those numbers from your old QB's play tend to skew current results.

    ten   stl    1.3   -3   4.3

    Minnesota at Dallas is too many points.

    min   dal    15.1   10.5   4.6

    -----

    pit   ne    8.5   7   1.5

    Not that much of a pick against the spread, but at least the numbers lean positive.  Pitts had a long flight home this past Sunday / Monday, if that matters.

    By the way, in that Denver at New England game in week 12, my numbers favor Denver by only 1.7 points.  It’s a potential barnburner of a game.

    And GO SOX!  Two home games, if needed!

     
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    Re: WEEK 9 NFL PICKS, and

    In response to ccnsd's comment:

    Oakland is more than "just" north of Los Angeles (especially if you are driving). Other than that I can't necessarily disagree with any of your picks. The Chiefs are really starting to look like the 2011 49ers. Solid, but conservative offense and a heck of a good defense feasting on a below average schedule. If the Chiefs can split with Denver they probably have to be considered the super bowl favorite for the AFC because that is a very loud stadium.  



         Geez Louise...I knew that someone would bring this up. I'm quite aware of the considerable distance between Oakland and Los Angeles. I took some "journalistic liberties" in using the phrase, "just north of USC".

         That said, I have to agree with you about the Chiefs. Even though they're still unbeaten, they're not that all that good. They are taking advantage of a weak schedule. Still, a three point spread isn't enough to entice me to pick the Bills, even though I can envision Buffalo pulling the upset.

     

     
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    Re: WEEK 9 NFL PICKS, and

         Greg Cote of the Miami Herald picks Dolphins to upset Bengals on Thursday Night Football: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/30/3721611/greg-cotes-thursday-nfl-pick.html 

     
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    Re: WEEK 9 NFL PICKS, and

    Steelers breaking 7? i like the honest & bold pick... this game will be another CLOSE game as every single one is this season. I'm hoping we dont get trapped in this one but the Steelers offense really doesn't scare me. Their pass D does. we need to try and est. the run with Ridley and that'll give us our best chance

     
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    Re: WEEK 9 NFL PICKS, and

    In response to joepatsfan111111's comment:

    Steelers breaking 7? i like the honest & bold pick... this game will be another CLOSE game as every single one is this season. I'm hoping we dont get trapped in this one but the Steelers offense really doesn't scare me. Their pass D does. we need to try and est. the run with Ridley and that'll give us our best chance



         Hope my "bold pick" is dead wrong, and that the Pats win easily. But, with Brady's passing hand looking like it's twice it's normal size, I see the Steelers giving them trouble.  

     
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