Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Week 13 NFL Picks: Use Your Illusion

Here's a Mr. Science moment from this here blog that you can actually use in your daily life. I'll try not to make it a habit.

Quick quiz. You are out somewhere in a noisy setting, and get a call that you have to take on your cell phone. Being unable to go somewhere quiet and unwilling to let it go to voicemail, what do you do?

Well, if you are like most people, you curl up into a ball, stick a finger in the ear that you aren't taking the call with, and have a thoroughly unsatisfying experience of not hearing the person who called you.

Believe it or not, there's a better way.

You see, our brains work differently than what we're trying to compensate for here. We do have the ability to focus on a single voice in a hubbub of other sounds; we do it for just about all of the speech that we hear, in natural stereo.

The phone companies know this, and have engineered the phone calls you get to not just be about the call. Both ends receive background noise, both from their own phone and the person they are talking to. It generally makes for a better call. Sticking a finger in one ear just means that you are going from stereo to mono, and makes the call worse.

So, if you are having trouble hearing the person you are speaking to, try this instead: cover the receiver. That will cut down on the background noise without losing the stereo effect, and give you more of what you are trying to hear.

A similar effect happens in this week's NFL picks. The short week requires focus and a distressing amount of thinking about the Lions. You can also add the sheer thankful knowledge that this is the last Thanksgiving you'll have to watch Andy Reid waddle his way around the field. Or, at least, so we all pray.

And with that, on to the ever-faster and faster picks!

* * * * *

TENNESSEE at Detroit (+11)

We're really starting to get close to Perfection here, folks. Last week saw the Lions grab a big early lead against a mostly punchless Bucs team on the road. But displaying the true heart of an anti-champion, they seized the toilet bowl ring and flushed it with both hands. This week, they get the no longer perfect Titans at home, in their annual tradition of making everyone who watches NFL games wonder why in hell the Lions have to be on our television every year like this. It'll be as bad as always, but on the bright side, you won't have to watch very much of it at all.

Oh, and bonus points to LemDale White for freely admitting that if he's not getting carries, he's pretty much not paying attention to the game. Way to go, LemDale! With that attitude and your ever-increasing Fat Loadedness, you won't have to worry about watching many NFL games after, say, 2010. In Seattle, TJ Duckett is nodding with slow approval, content to know that his role as Last Fat Useless RB is secure.

Titans 24, Lions 6

Seattle at DALLAS (-13)

Everything is all better now in Big D! At least until they have to go on the road for a playoff game, completely crap the bed, then have Adam "That's Mister Spectacular Waste of Sperm and Dignity To You" Jones get into a slap fight for the ages with Terrible Owens. Tony Romo will attempt to play peacekeeper and bruise a hangnail, causing him to miss the entire 2009 season, leading to the complete and utter collapse of Jerry Jones' vast criminal enterprise.

But that's all *later*. This week, they'll pound the Seabags at home, because the Seabags never travel well even when they aren't horrible, and because the NFL always gives the Cowboys a bye on Thanksgiving. Them, and whoever plays the Lions.

Dallas 31, Seahawks 16

ARIZONA at Philadelphia (-3)

Is there a number I would not take the Cardinals at in this game? Well, it is a bad match-up for them, what with the long travel, short week, and opponent that is "best" at stopping the passing game. They also have a secondary that frequently gives up big plays, and a defense that's best at rushing the passer -- the one thing that the Eagles have been more or less good at preventing on a consistent basis all season long. And with Cap'n Andy "If There Is A Wrong Decision To Make, I'm Going To Make It" Reid going back to Donovan McNabb for the start in this one, maybe Number Five has one big final Last Hurrah And Screw You Fat Man game in him.

In talking about The Benching in IM the other day, site contributor Dirty Davey talked about the theory that Bloatboy Reid had to make the move because McNabb had permanently lost the locker room after the Chunky Super Bowl, and after Terrible Owens left town with his balls in one of those little Chinese hand exercise cases. Even if this *were* the case, however, didn't the Fatso GM do the Bloated Sack Coach a terrible, terrible disservice by keeping him around after that? Wouldn't it have been far, far better to move him on immediately afterwards, keeping the star WR and getting us to the next QB while Brian Westbrook was still, you know, a football player?

There is no way to spin the events of the last month to be anything but this: Andy Reid is trying to get fired. Asking for it. Begging for it. Expect him to show up in Week 14 wearing a tutu with diapers, under the theory that it makes his players feel young and pretty. Or that he's going to an All Wildcat offense, with AJ Feeley as his new star #1 WR. We're through the looking glass here, people.

Oh, and Tim Hightower vultures three touchdowns, and Boldin and Fitzgerald combine for 250 yards by being Big And Damned Strong; if you hated seeing what Plex Burress did to this team, you're really not going to like either of the the Cardinals' monsters. Perhaps a shootout, and maybe we'll see Andy finally eat his challenge flag. You know he wants to.

Cardinals 38, Eagles 27

San Francisco at BUFFALO (-7)

Great googly moogly, who saw 50-plus points coming out of the Bills on the road? Those I-AA Chiefs don't want anyone to forget that but for one slip-up against the Broncos, they'd be right there in the mix for Historically Awful Team, despite Tyler Thigpen getting twiggy with it for roto players. That's what you get when your defense consists of 11 guys trying to get a turnover, rather than, you know, play defense. Oh, and it also doesn't hurt that Herm Edwards is also attempting to see what he needs to go to get fired. Herm, I suggest some good pro-Nazi sentiments. It's extreme, but it'll get the job done.

For the Bills. Trent Edwards woke up just enough to make Lee Evans' roto owners put down the needle. Meanwhile, the Niners wasted early chances on the road in Dallas, then got torched on big plays en route to the big loss. Count on way too much attention from Chris Berman on this one, because the game meant something 15 years ago. For him, that's positively recent.

(Oh, and give me the home team, just because the West Coast Team is going to the East Coast time zone for a 1pm EST game, which makes them lucky just to put on their uniforms correctly, never mind play a football game. Honestly, NFL players on all West coast teams? You suck.)

Bills 24, Niners 16

INDIANAPOLIS at Cleveland (+4.5)

Oh, NFL, you so had your chance to evade the Manning Menace. Now here they are, 7-4 and with three very beatable teams in the next three weeks. They might not even be out of the division yet, if the Titans decide to gag up the Thanksgiving game. And they play the Browns in a game that's plainly shocking, seeing as it's not in prime time, with the home team flip-flopping between the not-ready Brady Quinn and the not-good Derek Anderson.

Can the Browns win this game by simply putting the ball on the ground 30 to 40 times with Jerome Harrison, rather than Jamal Lewis? Of course. Are the Colts really all that good yet, just because they squeaked out another last-minute win on the road last week in San Diego? Of course not. But what I wrote last week still holds; they are doing it with mirrors, and that's all you need when the opposing coach is highly susceptible. (For the record, I think Romeo Crennel is more of your classic backwoods rube, while Norv Turner is more of a paste-eating toddler. However, this is one of those things on which men of good conscience can disagree.)

Colts 27, Browns 17

Carolina at GREEN BAY (NL)

I heard that some honk over at the World Wide Lemur, as part of some dubious site betting game, would up losing out on a million dollar payday thanks to the Panthers spitting the bit against the Falcons last week. Now, far be it for me to laugh at another man's misfortune, but, um...


Seriously, dude? You put yourself in large jeopardy on the right arm of Jake Delhomme, a man that threw four picks against Oakland and had back to back games where he didn't break 100 yards, in a road dome? What's next, finding out what Chris Weinke is doing with his life and throwing some big dollars behind that? Heck, I'm sure Rich Kotite is just a shot of confidence away from turning things around at the Circuit City, too. (Don't tell him. He's really counting on this for the holidays.)

This week, the Panthers continue their Fraud Exposure road tour in Green Bay, where the Packers are coming off a turnover-fest loss in New Orleans that ruined all of their good momentum after a Bear crushing. I'm looking for the home team to immolate the weak road 'Cats with Mssrs. Rodgers, Grant and Jennings.

And by the way, screw all those people who want to see Giants-Jets in the Super Bowl. Give me Packers-Jets instead, if only so we can destroy any notion that Packer Fan really has much lingering good feelings over Saint Brett. Two weeks of effigy burnings and grilled pork products might provoke a spectacular arterioscleretic killing spree, but you don't break a media meme without breaking a few fatality records. (Of course, this also assumes the Packers actually make the playoffs, which is far from an even bet.)

Packers 31, Panthers 9

MIAMI at St. Loius (NL)

Back to the punk beating grind for the Dolphins, who didn't much like it when they had to step up in class for the Patriots last week in Miami. They've still got a puncher's chance for a low wild-card, which would honestly be a fine outcome after last year, thanks to their kitten-soft schedule.

As for the Rams, it's not like they are offering much up in the way of resistance these days. Could we see an interim coach firing this year? C'mon, Rams Management, give us something memorable for your NFL Films retrospective. I can just hear Harry Kalas now. "2008 was a season of transition... and transition... for the St. Louis Rams."

Dolphins 26, Rams 17

New Orleans at TAMPA BAY (NL)

If the NFC South has taught us anything -- and you can be excused from my season-long record here into thinking that it hasn't -- it's that home field matters a lot. If you could combine the Saints' offense with the Bucs' defense, you'd have the other top seed in the conference opposite the Giants, and a much more interesting conference championship opponent. Instead, you see what the relative value of offense versus defense, at least for the real world.

In this game, count on Jeff Garcia to dink and dunk his way to around 20 points, and for the Bucs to put the Saints into enough long third downs to force a mistake or two. Because as good as Drew Brees is, he's still a bit pick-prone. He'd have to be, considering that he throws the ball something like 50 times a game, isn't very tall, and relies on a million receivers to all run the right route.

Finally, there's this. If you think the Saints are on a roll now and going to rattle off a bunch of wins, consider that tonight's win over the Pack was the first time all year that they've won two games in a row. Time for Ugly to beat up on Fun. (Multiple jokes about my first marriage deleted here, in that ex-wife jokes say more about you than the ex.)

Bucs 24, Saints 16

NY GIANTS at Washington (+3.5)

One has to wonder, really, what it's like in Giant Land these days. Dallas is deluding themselves into thinking that a mini winning streak and a reinstated Adam Jones won't somehow combust in the playoffs. Philadelphia self-destructed with more drama than any sane man can stand. And here's the Redskins, suddenly looking gritty but ordinary again, starting mediocre wideouts and riding Clinton Portis too hard, because they have to for any kind of shot at the playoffs.

This game is another one of those lines that I don't quite get; this Giants team has done nothing but win, and more or less control every game they've played, with the exception of the increasingly inexplicable Browns loss. In this division game, they'll do what they always do; grind the opponent into a fine paste, and hear the lamentations of their women. You've got to respect that sort of thing.

Oh, and Jeff Lurie? Steve Spagnuolo would make for a fine next coach. Let's take a chunk out of this organization.

Giants 27, Redskins 20

Atlanta at SAN DIEGO (-5)

Here's one of those games that the Chargers win just to fool people into thinking they are some kind of sleeping giant of goodness. In reality, what they are is a team that is struggling with a terrible coach, an overrated running back, and a quarterback that seems to throw footballs laced with helium.

The Falcons are 7-4 and on the periphery of the playoffs; a road win here would be immense for them, and maybe I'm not giving them enough credit as road warriors yet. But in a Vengeance Game against his old team, I don't see Michael Turner getting it done, and the big Charger wideouts are a bad matchup for them. They've had a wonderful year, but they aren't ready to make it all the way to the playoffs in their first year.

Chargers 27, Falcons 21

Pittsburgh at NEW ENGLAND (-1)

After two straight 400-yard passing games, with a good mess of running yards added in, extremely stupid people are wondering if the Patriots would dare to choose Matt Cassel over Tom Brady.

Cassel is younger, cheaper and healthier, and if he somehow takes the Patriots all the way to the Super Bowl, maybe it's defensible. Besides, it's not like the Patriots aren't good and heartless. After this week's game, where the Steelers will fail to protect the quarterback, feel exposed on running back depth, and play close but lose, that dumbness will only grow. (Don't worry, Dreamboat fans. It'll stop when Cassel loses a home playoff game against a hot wild-card. I'm thinking that'll be the Colts, just to really make you hurt.)

Patriots 20, Steelers 16

'enver at NY JETS (-7.5)

The very worst division leader ever lost at home to Oakland last week, and no, it wasn't even close. Color me shocked, really, considering how bad the Raiders have been and how much the White Rat enjoys pounding them, but perhaps JeMarcus Russell isn't completely hopeless after all, especially when Darren McFadden has a spark. Or maybe I'm calling 'enver that for, well, a reason.

Feel free, if you want, to seriously reconsider those whole Jay Culter to Brandon Marshall is the new Tom Brady to Randy Moss meme that dumb people were pushing in the first month of the season. I have no idea what happened to Eddie Royal in this game, but from the little that I watched, the Broncos' offense consists of a quick hitting running play that doesn't get enough and two plays of Cutler throwing the ball all over the place.

The Jets are in rarefied air here, with a big home number to deal with, a growing amount of wildly premature Jets-Giants Super Bowl hype, and a tremendous running game in Thomas Jones and Leon Washington behind Faneca, Woody and other desperate men who are trying to make sure Saint Brett can't chuck his way out of a win. I don't think this will end well; Favre has, after all, ended his last 216 playoff appearances with back-breaking picks that people have somehow talked themselves out of remembering. But for this week, they're going to roll in a shootout (assuming the weather isn't crappy).

Jets 38, Broncos 24

Kansas City at OAKLAND (Now with an O!) (-3)

Somewhere out there, I am sure, there exists a sports gambler with a firm sense of conviction as to who to take in this dogfest. Clearly it's the home team, coming off the big road win in Denver, as opposed to the I-AA Chiefs, who somehow gave up 50+ points to a Bills team that looked like they were on their way to playing the third quarterback, just from having no better ideas.

But before you get too happy, Raider Fan, keep in mind that you are coached by a person that had no idea how to actually react to offensive touchdowns last week, and that the game is at home, in front of people who might not know how to act in the presence of an actual positive offensive performance.

Also, the Chiefs can score. They just can't defend anyone.

So, yes, I'm going with Oakland, but if you are putting real money down on this one, Seek Help. Quickly.

Raiders 27, Chiefs 20

CHICAGO at Minnesota (-3.5)

Both teams coming off good wins here, with the Vikes getting it done in Jacksonville while the Bears enjoyed their de facto bye in St. Louis. How hard was it for the men from Chi-town? There fans were called out for not making enough noise. In St. Louis. Yes, Rams Fan is not putting up much of a fight at this point.

As for the Vikes, they scored 30 points in a game where quarterback Gus Frerotte was 12 for 20 for 120 yards, a pick and no touchdowns. That's what you get when your defense scores early, and the home team gives you two turnovers on their first two plays. They held the Jags to 14 carries for 35 yards, got two touchdowns on the ground, and more or less just ground them into paste. But I don't like their chances of doing it to the Bears, if only because the Bears look like they can throw the ball enough to score 20 points... and the Bears are going to make Frerotte beat them.

Bears 23, Vikings 16

Jacksonville at HOUSTON (-3.5)

One of those MNF games that didn't even look good on paper when it was announced. Both teams are surprisingly poor this year, with the Jaguars' losing all semblance of predictability due to their banged-up offensive line, and the Texans' from the failure of the defense to develop the way they were expected to. It all adds up to more points than you might expect, especially since David Garrard is going to score like a top 10 quarterback this week... but it won't be enough. Too much Steve Slaton, and, more importantly, Andre Johnson.

Texans 34, Jaguars 27

Last week: 9-7

Year to date: 93-75-4


CMJDAD@gmail.com said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

DMtShooter said...

Memo to self: compile the Steelers won-loss record against my spread picks, just so the Dad can find something else to complain about. (You'd think that with that O-line, I'd be the least of his worries...)

CMJDAD@gmail.com said...

yeah, the O-line sucks, but bitching at you is so much more rewarding.

CMJDad said...

Yep, I was right. Keep up the good work. Steelers 33-10 over the Pats.

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