WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and "Game of the Week"

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    WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and "Game of the Week"

     

    Starting this Monday night, New England gets to play the two other best teams that the NFL has to offer.  I wouldn't be surprised to see New England play both of them in the same order in early 2013, assuming that this Mayan calendar thing doesn't cut us off early. 

    Home field advantage is crucial.  I favor New England by 7.7 points over Houston.  New England lost Julian Edelman, which is big, but at least Hernandez and Welker are available so that Brady has targets.  On the Houston side, they lost a third cornerback and so they're triple hurting.  What they have left on the bench is a 2011 second rounder and a 2011 fourth rounder.  Houston's favorite pass containment tool, the blitz, doesn't work that well against Brady.  Brady has something like a 145 quarterback rating against the blitz.

    San Francisco, the NFL's #1 home tiger and road kitten, has one of the NFL's worst commutes to New England, some terrible windy, sleet-covered place full of precipitation.  Worse, The Niners want to defeat Seattle, at Seattle, the very next week because SF hasn't sewn up home field yet.  I tacked on an extra 2.4 points for a possible trap game.  Total:  New England gets a prohibitive 12.8 point advantage.  I wouldn't be surprised to see it as my game of the week next week, but we'll see.  An 8:20 p.m. start makes it all the colder for San Francisco and gives New England the comfort of running two night games in a row, but my stats can't add that in. 

    1   ne   15.5   (last wk. 1)

    2   sf   12.8   (last wk. 2)

    3   hou   12.6   (last wk. 3)

    4   den   11.9   (last wk. 6)

    5   sea   11.6   (last wk. 7)

    6   nyg   11.3   (last wk. 5)

    7   atl   10.5   (last wk. 8)

    8   gb   10.2   (last wk. 10)

    9   chi   9.7   (last wk. 4)

    10   cin   9.4   (last wk. 14)

    11   bal   9.4   (last wk. 9)

    12   was   8.7   (last wk. 11)

    13   tb   8.6   (last wk. 12)

    14   buf   8.5   (last wk. 20)

    15   pit   8.4   (last wk. 22)

    16   dal   8.0   (last wk. 13)

    17   min   7.9   (last wk. 16)

    18   mia   7.8   (last wk. 21)

    19   stl   7.7   (last wk. 19)

    20   no   7.6   (last wk. 17)

    21   ind   7.2   (last wk. 24)

    22   cle   6.8   (last wk. 25)

    23   car   6.7   (last wk. 15)

    24   sd   6.7   (last wk. 23)

    25   det   6.5   (last wk. 18)

    26   nyj   6.2   (last wk. 26)

    27   az   5.9   (last wk. 27)

    28   phi   4.3   (last wk. 28)

    29   ten   3.3   (last wk. 29)

    30   jac   1.4   (last wk. 30)

    31   oak   1.4   (last wk. 31)

    32   kc   1.3   (last wk. 32)

    Last week, Vegas got back to being predictably stupid and Atlanta cruised over New Orleans, just about as I predicted.  6-5 with two pushes this year.

    This week's point spreads:

    Visitor / Home / My points / Vegas / Difference

    den   oak    -11.6   -10.5   -1.1

    ten   ind    7.5   5.5   2.0

    dal   cin    5.4   3.0   2.4

    sd   pit    10.0   ?   ?

    stl   buf    6.8   3.0   3.8

    kc   cle    11.3   5.5   5.8

    phi   tb    5.1   7.0   -1.9

    bal   was    1.1   0.0   1.1

    atl   car    -4.8   -3.5   -1.3

    chi   min    1.7   -3.5   5.2

    nyj   jac    -2.6   -2.5   -0.1

    mia   sf    13.3   10.5   2.8

    az   sea    12.8   10.5   2.3

    no   nyg    7.0   6.0   1.0

    det   gb    10.2   6.5   3.7

    hou   ne    7.7   4.0   3.7

    I was really hoping that Vegas would come out with a line on the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Chickens!  San Diego looks like it's about to take a swan dive and 10 points is a pile.  OddsShark figures the game as a 2-point spread.  If anyone comes out with a point spread of less than 4 points before game time, I'm going with Pittsburgh no matter who quarterbacks.

    My fallback would be Cleveland.  Kansas City was dysfunctional two weeks ago before the disaster, the pity win is over, and I don't think that KC got any better in 7 days.  I think of Minnesota as a leaner. 

     
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    Re: WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and

    I'll take Miami (plus 10.5) and the saints (plus6) with those points all day long. both games will be close unless saints blow out jints.

    I also like this matchup with Texans and will happily give up the 4 points.

     
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    Re: WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and

    In response to HonkeyTonkman's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Hey Paul shouldnt the Jets be able to beat on the Jags,atleast Jets can run the ball and have a defense what do the Jags have?

    [/QUOTE]

    Jacksonville scored 37 points at Houston three weeks ago.  How?  Search me, but then they beat Tennessee two weeks ago. 

    The past two years, the Jets have been famous for absolutely dying in December.  I think it's because the team drinks like a fish, overall, and they have no stamina.  The Patriots work like heck to build their own stamina, and they seem to win all of their December games.  To my eyes, the Jets seemed to be really falling apart earlier this year.  They don't score much lately.

    The Jets are #26 on my rankings above.  Jacksonville is near the bottom, and appropriately the Jets are slightly favored.  No away game is a cakewalk for a #26 team.

     

     
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    Re: WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and

    In response to coolade2's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    I'll take Miami (plus 10.5) and the saints (plus6) with those points all day long. both games will be close unless saints blow out jints.

    I also like this matchup with Texans and will happily give up the 4 points.

    [/QUOTE]


    I agree with the general tactic of sometimes taking a huge underdog and all those points.  Not this week, not with Miami and New Orleans.  Both 5-7 teams have just had their playoff hopes dashed last week, and somehow I expect a mail it in philosophy from the both of them.  San Fran has all sorts of nightmare scenarios ahead if they don't beat Miami after losing to lowly Saint Louis twice.  New England is not at all in the bag for them, and then they have to go to Seattle for the division championship. 

    The Giants?  They're a streaky team, beating the good teams and laying down for the bad. 

    The Texans game is forecast to be played in New England weather, with a SSW wind averaging 22 mph with gusts to something fierce.  Brady loves short, hard December passes.  Houston won't be able to bomb away.  So, the game becomes a leaner for New England at this point.

     
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    Re: WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and

    In response to JintsFan's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    boy oh boy 3 tough games and 2 of them at home-who made Pats schedule this year, Bellichick? either that or paid someone off to get to the SB and get THAT the next season

    [/QUOTE]

    Kraft bribed the commish so that his team would never have to play the Patriots.  That alone is worth its weight in gold. 

     
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    Re: WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and

    Postscript:  They're spotting Pittsburgh 7 points.  That's too close to par for me.  I'll go with Cleveland this Sunday.

     

     
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    Re: WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and

    In response to Paul_K's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to coolade2's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    I'll take Miami (plus 10.5) and the saints (plus6) with those points all day long. both games will be close unless saints blow out jints.

    I also like this matchup with Texans and will happily give up the 4 points.

    [/QUOTE]


    I agree with the general tactic of sometimes taking a huge underdog and all those points.  Not this week, not with Miami and New Orleans.  Both 5-7 teams have just had their playoff hopes dashed last week, and somehow I expect a mail it in philosophy from the both of them.  San Fran has all sorts of nightmare scenarios ahead if they don't beat Miami after losing to lowly Saint Louis twice.  New England is not at all in the bag for them, and then they have to go to Seattle for the division championship. 

    The Giants?  They're a streaky team, beating the good teams and laying down for the bad. 

    The Texans game is forecast to be played in New England weather, with a SSW wind averaging 22 mph with gusts to something fierce.  Brady loves short, hard December passes.  Houston won't be able to bomb away.  So, the game becomes a leaner for New England at this point.

    [/QUOTE]


    Hmmm...  Got me thinking about the psychology of those teams that have lost close games with playoff implications... Like miami.  Also san Fran coming off a close loss.  How does this play out...?

    The 64m question.  Upon further review...

    Miami traveling is a consideration.  As is the bounce back factor for SF.   so... 49ers win close game 7-8 pts.  but phins cover.

    Next, saints @ jints.  Again taking dog allows 3-4 pt win for jints which would help them...and you know every ny-loving ref will try and make sure that happens... But...   in spite of this...  what determines this game is the overriding factor of QB performance. Brees gets it done  . 

     

     

     
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    Re: WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and

    In response to JintsFan's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to Paul_K's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Postscript:  They're spotting Pittsburgh 7 points.  That's too close to par for me.  I'll go with Cleveland this Sunday.

    [/QUOTE]


    yeah but they will be playing a pro QB this time

    [/QUOTE]

    yeah but Roethlisberger may also be a bit rusty his first game out, and he may be playing partly wounded underneath all that flak jacket equipment.  Gambling on last minute player recoveries isn't my strength at all.

     
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    Re: WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and

    Houston is a very interesting matchup and test (for both teams). At this point Houston is having some troubles with their depth. It makes them vunerable. It also is another example of why BB is a better GM than most give him credit for as he may have a little less in his "first" 11 on O or D but significantly deeper and broader in the rest of the roster than most if not all other teams.

    A recent commentary on the upcoming game pointed out that Houston's D has batted like twice as many passes as the next highest in the league and with Brady throwing shorter, flatter passes this could be a REAL issue in this game. At the same time Houston's troubles in their secondary could be a weakness that Brady & friends will take serious advantage of. And if they catch Houston trying to go "light and fast" to help coverage the running game could kill Houston.

    On the other side fo the ball this is certainly a test of the Pats D in every way - run D, pass rush, pass D, tackling, coaching, etc.

    With Talib, Dennard, Arrington and McCourty trying to work into a specific set of roles this will be a test but also a real chance for some learning. Now you might think "learning?! at this point in the season they better already know". But Talib is new, Dennard is a rookie, Arrington is trying to work in the"star" role and be able to communicate and know where help will be in every situation and McCourty is solidifying his role as quarterback of the secondary. All this means that while this is a big game to win it could help this team BECOME better as the playoffs approach even if they lose.

    I am not sure what I would be thinking if Houston were totally healthy. But at this point of the season it is very rare, especially these days, for a team to be totally healthy. I think, based on what these two teams are looking like recently and what BB does in tough games during the last quarter of the season (the home stretch if you will) and perhaps it being a home game I think our O will dominate during enough drives to win this. The spread will depend to a large extent on how far the D has come. I expect the game to be on the line till at least the last 5 minutes or so. It could go down to the wire. But if the D comes up big it could be all but over with 10 - 12 minutes to go.

    My expectation is that the ending might be similar to the Miami game in that a drive sometime in the fourth quarter will all but put it away. I dont know how late that drive will be.

     
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    Re: WEEK FOURTEEN NFL PICKS and

    In response to portfolio1's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Houston is a very interesting matchup and test (for both teams). At this point Houston is having some troubles with their depth. It makes them vunerable. It also is another example of why BB is a better GM than most give him credit for as he may have a little less in his "first" 11 on O or D but significantly deeper and broader in the rest of the roster than most if not all other teams.

    A recent commentary on the upcoming game pointed out that Houston's D has batted like twice as many passes as the next highest in the league and with Brady throwing shorter, flatter passes this could be a REAL issue in this game. At the same time Houston's troubles in their secondary could be a weakness that Brady & friends will take serious advantage of. And if they catch Houston trying to go "light and fast" to help coverage the running game could kill Houston.

    On the other side fo the ball this is certainly a test of the Pats D in every way - run D, pass rush, pass D, tackling, coaching, etc.

    With Talib, Dennard, Arrington and McCourty trying to work into a specific set of roles this will be a test but also a real chance for some learning. Now you might think "learning?! at this point in the season they better already know". But Talib is new, Dennard is a rookie, Arrington is trying to work in the"star" role and be able to communicate and know where help will be in every situation and McCourty is solidifying his role as quarterback of the secondary. All this means that while this is a big game to win it could help this team BECOME better as the playoffs approach even if they lose.

    I am not sure what I would be thinking if Houston were totally healthy. But at this point of the season it is very rare, especially these days, for a team to be totally healthy. I think, based on what these two teams are looking like recently and what BB does in tough games during the last quarter of the season (the home stretch if you will) and perhaps it being a home game I think our O will dominate during enough drives to win this. The spread will depend to a large extent on how far the D has come. I expect the game to be on the line till at least the last 5 minutes or so. It could go down to the wire. But if the D comes up big it could be all but over with 10 - 12 minutes to go.

    My expectation is that the ending might be similar to the Miami game in that a drive sometime in the fourth quarter will all but put it away. I dont know how late that drive will be.

    [/QUOTE]

    Both the Houston and San Francisco games are learning experiences, in the sense that New England will probably play Houston in January and maybe San Fran after that.

    Part of Houston's game is innovation.  Their defensive line swats away twice as many passes as the next NFL team.  Chandler Jones is the perfect candidate to learn how to swat passes -- tall, long defensive end, jumps well, can bull rush now. 

    On the other side, Tom Brady is tall, has a quick release, has a good release at the top of his throw and can fake the linemen into jumping early.  BB has been giving his D-linemen paddleball rackets in practice to simulate the extra height that Houston players can get.  Either lob touch passes over their reach or scheme to devise clear throwing lanes.  An extra day of practice is useful here.

    The rule is, learn how to double team J.J. Watt no matter where he lines up. 

    Houston's #1 pass receiver is 230 pounds, sort of an Aaron Hernandez lite.  Talib has some height and bulk to cover him and can run with him. 

    Houston has a hot running game with a strong bull-rushing running back.  This runs smack into New England's strength.  Wilfork with his 375 pounds or so is a load up the middle, Brace is an avalanche if slow, the rest of the D-line is huge and the linebackers are all oversized except for Hightower who is even bigger at 270.

     
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