Thursday, October 30, 2008

NFL Picks, Week Nine: The Fatal Four-Way

Before we begin this week's picks, a brief musical interlude. It'll make everything seem nicer. Besides, there's titty, and hey, the Phillies are World Series champions. Who can be angry about anything?

Here's how invested I am in this NFL season. I'm in two head to head fantasy leagues -- one for work, the other a legacy deal with friends. I'm also in a third league which is points based, with a live auction and keeper protects. I blog about the NFL, of course. I'm seriously considering a 1,200 mile round-trip roadie to Porkopolis to see the Eagles play the Bengals in mid-November outdoor weather. And finally, there's this picks column.

In short, there's never going to be a week in which everything goes well, since we're in that magical Sucker Bet World that is a 4-way parley.

For the most part, it's gone pretty well. In the friends head to head league, I'm in second with a 7-1 record. That's the league where I have Tony Romo, which means the next couple of weeks will be far too much patchwork (Jeff Garcia, may you burn in hell for not going deep last week), but I should make the playoffs and have a puncher's chance.

In the work head to head league, I'm in first, and life has gone just swimmingly. In the points league, despite having Tom Brady go down in week one, I had a huge week to draw to sixth, within hailing distance of money. In all three leagues, I own Steve Slaton, which has made me all kinds of happy.

And then there's the picks, which had been good up until last week, when we took it all day without lube and gave back six games to the happy side of profit.

Atsa's spicy meatball! Made out of the entirely wrong kind of meat.

So this week, if the law of averages means anything (and it doesn't), these picks are solid gold, baby. Bet the 401K. Bet the house. Hell, bet the money you'll make from recycling my empties from last week. Now, we're talking real money.

On to the picks!

* * * * *

Jets at BUFFALO (-5.5)

J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS Fan has started to see the Ugly Side of The Favre Experience: vertical punt picks that defy any rhyme, reason or sense. It's one thing when such things end your playoff game, since that involves a quick, mercy-killing blow to the back of the head. It's quite another when they single-handedly almost cost you a home game in October against Herm (Herm!) Edwards and the I-AA Chiefs.

It didn't help, of course, that the Jets' offensive play-calling in that game was straight from the Andy Reid playbook of refusing to let your running backs get bruised, or your power running offensive line hit someone in the mouth. (You know, for an ex-offensive lineman, Andy really must hate himself. That, and the weight gain, and the parenting issues. Anyway, moving on.)

The Jets have a bona fide home-run hitter in the backfield in Leon Washington. Sure, he's nobody's idea of a 20-carry a game guy, but when the guy rips off two big touchdowns, maybe you should, you know, give him a chance at three. Eric Mangini chose to save him on the sidelines and let Saint Brett TAInt the game up. (Touchdown After INTerception, or the area between... err, just go to Urban Dictionary.)

Anyway, Saint Brett led them to the big comeback, so all is forgiven, right? Um, er, no, not so much. New York Fan has seen this movie before, and it doesn't end with Shaky Vertical Punt QB leading the team to a playoff win. It just ends with J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS Fan smashing his fist against something heavy, which is a sad but accurate description of his wife. (Whoa, where did that come from? The Phillies won! Be happy!)

Anyhoo... the Jets head north and west to battle the presumably With Electricity Bills, who spent their last weekend looking sad, but powered, on the road in Miami. The Bills need the game to solidify their shaky standing in the AFC East; the Jets need the game because after that punchbowl turd in Oakland two weeks ago, no one thinks they can win on the road. With their quarterback showing less competence for the job than his wife shows in defending him... I like the home team.

Bills 27, Jets 20

Detroit at CHICAGO (-13)

The Bears come off a bye and get the still winless but not yet completely quitting Lions, who led the Redskins for most of last week's game in Detroit before looking down and remembering what those uniforms stood for. On the road against a rested Bears team, with the continuing shocking development that is Kyle Orton Being More Than A Game Manager, I'm not seeing the effort. Or, more importantly, any kind of running game.

Bears 24, Lions 10

JACKSONVILLE at Cincinnati (-7.5)

The league's other winless team hosts the presumably annoyed Jaguars, who showed why they can't be trusted in a home loss to the Browns. (Hint: It involves the people who stand next to the center when he snaps the ball to David Garrard. They aren't very good at, well, playing football.) The Bengals are cursed all over, won't have Carson Palmer to get kicked around anymore this year, and start a mammal and a biped in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Any further resemblance to an NFL quarterback is accidental.

Bengal Fan is currently offering seats for this game for your recycling empties, and getting no takers, since Jacksonville Fan exists only in theory, and never in cold weather. Look for Chris Henry to spray entire sections of empty seats with a sub-machine gun, all the while screaming, "*NOW* WILL YOU FIRE MARVIN LEWIS?"

Jaguars 28, Bengals 17

BALTIMORE at Cleveland (-1.5)

Two flawed teams that are still very much alive in their division race, because their division, is, well, dramatically flawed, albeit not quite West-esque.
The Ravens had a good time at home last week in stomping the Raiders, and even brought out the bucket of confetti with a two-QB alignment that saw Joe Flacco catch a long touchdown from back-up QB Tony Smith. Somewhere, Kyle Boller is eating Haagen-Dazs and listening to emo music.

The Browns took out the Jaguars on the road, despite the Jags' coming off the bye. In a game where it will come down to which quarterback makes the big mistake, my money is on Derek Anderson to blow it first. It also doesn't help him that his home crowd will be crying for Brady Quinn, and later on, just crying.

Ravens 20, Browns 16

GREEN BAY at Tennessee (-5.5)

I'm loving the Pack in this game. They're coming off a bye, getting a Titans' team that won their Statement Game over the Colts, and have a short week from the Monday night game. With a big lead in the division, this is the time for them to give one up, especially to a Packers' team that won't have to worry about stopping actual NFL wideouts. So long as they can give Aaron Rodgers any time to throw, I think they're going to score enough to cover, and even win. Besides, if the Titans are still undefeated in November, television stations will start giving the '73 Dolphins airtime again, and no one wants to see that.

Packers 24, Titans 20

TAMPA BAY at Kansas City (+8.5)

Once again, if you are betting this game, you are more or less betting that the Chiefs will actually score some points, which, given that they are starting Tyler Thigpen, doesn't give me much hope. (No, showing a pulse against the Jets doesn't count.) Look for the Bucs to actually run the ball on the Chiefs' awful run defense, unlike, say, the Bretts... and for Ernest Graham to finally pay off for his fantasy owners. Oh, and Warrick Dunn will vulture a touchdown, just to make you hate Jon Gruden nearly as much as his quarterback harem does.

Bucs 16, Chiefs 7

ARIZONA at St. Louis (+3)

Come now, the Cardinals have to finally show up on the road, don't they? Well, no -- they held a significant lead in Carolina last week and still threw the ball nearly every down. As I have the sneaky great Kurt Warner this year in fantasy, I'm fine with that; I'm also really looking forward to betting against them in the playoffs. Can we make a division winner play a road game, just on general principles?

This week, they get the Rams, who have been a frisky thing since the switch from Scott Linehan to Jim Haslett. Had they held on for the win last week in New England, they'd probably be the favorite in this game. But they didn't, they might still be missing Stephen Jackson, and the Cardinals can get after the quarterback.Finally, there's Warner's chances for some Old Testament revenge in his old home town, and lots of Brenda Warner flashbacks to keep the home crowd quiet, if not incontinent. Expect a gross shootout.

Cardinals 38, Rams 28

Houston at MINNESOTA (-4.5)

Kind of a fun game, in that the Texans take a huge step up in class to face a flawed but intriguing Vikings' team that they might match up well against, since Matt Schaub has been quietly great for a month. Unfortunately for the road team, the Vikes are coming off the bye, and while Brad Childress Eats Paste, he's also from the Andy Reid School, which means he knows what to do with extra time to prepare for a game. If Steve Slaton does anything in this game, my Man Crush will be complete.

Vikings 24, Texans 14

Miami at DENVER (-3)

The Broncos come off a very needed bye, while the Dolphins were enjoying their day of beating the Bills senseless. As much as I hate to go anywhere near enver -- yes, the D is missing, if if was ever actually there in the first place -- the bye and high altitude is too much to overcome. Also, it's high time that Jay Cutler had a big day again. But I'd feel a hell of a lot better about this game if Champ Bailey was around.

Broncos 31, Dolphins 24

Atlanta at OAKLAND (+2.5)

I was really impressed by Matt Ryan and the Falcons last week. They came into Philadelphia and gave a rested home team all that it could handle, and they've got the skill players -- Michael Turner, Jerious Norwood and Roddy White -- that can keep the chains moving.

But this week, they go coast to coast and face a truly great corner in Nnamdi Ahmadinejad Asomugha, and I think this game has just got letdown written all over it. Betting the Raiders is never for the faint of heart, but I look for Zach Miller to have a big game and for the road team to just be a little snakebit.

Finally, there's this. The Falcons lost last week's game on a blown muffed punt call with just over two minutes left, because they didn't have a timeout left for an instant replay challenge. When that kind of thing happens, I think it shakes a team a little, because they are suddenly thinking about whether their rookie coach is going to cost them games. It's all part of the Maturation Process, which is never smooth.

Raiders 24, Falcons 23

Dallas at NY GIANTS (-9)

Notice that this line opened at 7... and well, I still think it's way too low. The Cowboys won't be able to move the ball at all, and eventually, the Giants are just going to wear them down with the running game. Expect to see incompletions and sacks against Brad Johnson, followed by interceptions and sacks from Brooks Bollinger. As for the over/under to Countdown TO Meltdown, it's with five minutes left in the third. I'm taking the under.

Giants 28, Cowboys 17

PHILADELPHIA at Seattle (+6.5)

Seneca Wallace looked competent against the Niners in San Francisco, causing Mike Singletary to film a Coors Light commercial in his very first game. This just in: the Eagles' defense is better than the Niners'. And the Seabags don't have the running back (Julius Jones smokes cigarettes, TJ Duckett smokes nothing) that can keep the Eagles' defense honest.

Seattle has a good home field advantage, and Mile Holmgren has authored plenty of Andy Reid nightmares over the past few years. But they can't stay keep McNabb and (especially) Westbrook off the board for long, especially now that the quarterback has everyone but Shane Andrews and Reggie Brown (presumably) working on offense. Combine this with the Phillies' breakthrough, and Philly Fan is going to have to see a doctor from that uncomfortable facial ache. (Those smile muscles are really getting a workout.)

Eagles 31, Seahawks 16

NEW ENGLAND at Indianapolis (-5.5)

The marquee game that isn't. Don't be fooled by the laundry, folks... neither of these teams is very good anymore, and if either of them make it to a playoff game, they're going to go down. Hard.

Of course, this also supposes the NFL teams have any relation to themselves from a week to week basis. The only thing we know about the Patriots is that without Tom Brady, they have no real margin for error, unless the opposition trips over themselves, a la Denver last week. All we know about this Colts' team is that they are killing their fantasy team owners, they can't stop the run without Bob Sanders, their wins have been Houdini acts, and their special teams suck. Against the madness that is Bill Belichick, that's enough for a close cover, if not an out-and-out win.

Patriots 24, Colts 21

PITTSBURGH at Washington (-1.5)

Our good friend CMJ Dad hates it when I pick the Steelers; he's convinced that I am the Jinx to End All Jinxes.

Of course, a much bigger jinx is a bottom five offensive line, a #1 wideout who likes the chronic, and a fluke injury to your long snapper in the middle of a game, leading to the go-ahead safety on a punt. The perils of a Thursday picks column, folks. (Oh, and while you are at it, please get yourself a punter who can walk. That was just embarrassing.)

The Skins have been winning with mirrors for a while now, and nearly gave up the first win of the year last week to the Lions before getting a punt return touchdown from Santana Moss (who doesn't even have that job usually). They also don't rush the quarterback very well, which means they'll only sack Big Ben four times, rather than 10. For him this year, that's an easy day.

But rest easy, Dad. If I'm still losing on this bet this week, I promise to go through the entire history of the picks column and show the Steelers' won-loss record against my picks. That'll be fun for, well, no one. Go Steelers!

Steelers 24, Redskins 21

Last week: 3-9-2

Year to date: 58-50-4

1 comment:

CMJDad said...

I got my eye on you, Shooter.

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