Thursday, November 12, 2015

NFL Picks Week 10: Midseason Mirage

That's Not Water
We're at that point in the NFL season where people are starting to draw Meaningful Statements from wins and losses, in the eternal hope of finding the underpriced Mo Mentum Team that the can bet profitably. But the problem with that strategy is that the mid-season is really too early for that kind of analysis. With the heavy use of bye weeks and Terrible Night Football, not to mention the constant drumbeat of injury and referee malfeasance, there just isn't the same kind of old-school worth out of that approach. For every correct read that you might make of a team that's coming on, there will be a half dozen more that just doesn't follow the pattern, but will be forgotten about.

Speaking of being forgotten about, last week's treading water moment got us back over .500 for the career, but with no margin for error or vig. We're clearly due for something better. And with that... on to the picks!

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Buffalo at NY JETS (-2.5)

If the Bills had the pass rush they were supposed to have, I'd be taking the road team under the theory that the Jets were going to have QB instability issues, since QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has a thumb issue, and QB2 Geno Smith is QB2 Geno Smith. But the dirty secret of Rex Ryan's teams has been that they don't get to the QB, and it eventually dooms them. Well, that and the fact that every team he faces prepares for the game like it's the Super Bowl. Look for the Jets' sneaky good WRs to be the difference here, the Bills to fail in the red zone due to a lack of healthy RBs, and for Jets Fan to spend the evening singing profanities at Ryan.

Jets 24, Bills 19

Detroit at GREEN BAY (-11.5)

Get well time for the Pack, who weren't able to make it all the way back last week from a deep hole against the Panthers. This week at home against the comatose Lions, who might not even have WR1 Calvin Johnson following their bye week after the UK beatdown against the Chiefs, it's time for a vintage Aaron Rodgers 40-burger.

Packers 45, Lions 24

DALLAS (+1) at Tampa


It's difficult to lose as many games in a row as the Cowboys have, though maybe playing football with the perpetual worry that DE/Eventual Felon Greg Hardy might treat you like a badly loved one helps inspire that sort of thing. In the slow humid track of Tampa, where home field advantage has been theoretical for the better part of a decade, I think they slug it out on better line play, in a game that no one should watch.

Cowboys 23, Bucs 20

Carolina at TENNESSEE (+5.5)

The Panthers are still undefeated and getting an increasing number of heroics from the deeper roster, but there are cracks in the armor. The pass rush disappears late in games, the DBs aren't special outside of CB Josh Norman (and even he can't keep up the current pace), and there's the sense that while they are for real and will have a first round bye, they just aren't the kind of club that's going to get better over the course of a season. This week, I think the Titans scare them and cover, and wouldn't even be shocked if they win.

Panthers 24, Titans 20

Chicago at ST. LOUIS (7)


An angry and intimidating Rams defense, at home, coming off a loss, against a short week Bear team that was pretty lucky to win in San Diego. While the Ram offense is still a festival of meh, it will be enough here, especially after the defense scores.

Rams 24, Bears 13

New Orleans at WASHINGTON (+1)


The Saints can't win on the road, and DC can't win period, but someone has to, so I'll go with a bounce-back game from their drop-tastic WRs. Besides, the Saints feels too good about themselves right now.

Slurs 23, Saints 20

Miami at PHILADELPHIA (-6.5)


Exhibit A in the Midseason Mirage set are the Eagles, fresh off their first feel-good win since last November, but now without rookie MLB Jordan Hicks for the rest of the year. Green has been running the ball well for the better part of two months now, and QB Sam Bradford might just be due for a game where he looks like a real live NFL QB for more than a half at a time. It also helps that the team is playing the weak sisters of the NFL for the next few weeks.

Eagles 38, Dolphins 24

Cleveland at PITTSBURGH (-4.5)


The Steelers have seen way too much of QB Not 1 this year, but at least they've got a running game, tolerable defense, and home-field advantage to help against the Factory of Sadness. So long as they don't lose the turnover war, I think they'll eke out a victory before an incredibly well-timed bye week.

Steelers 23, Browns 17

Jacksonville at BALTIMORE (-5.5)


One of these years, the Jags have to win a road game, but in Charm City, I'm not ready to pull the trigger for them. This isn't exactly a choice that screams out confidence, though.

Ravens 24, Jaguars 17

Minnesota at OAKLAND (-3)

Hard game to pick with RB Latvius Murray's availability in doubt, but the Raiders have a home field advantage, all kinds of clue on offense, and a growing sense of win from QB David Carr. Minny will also be hurt by the relatively slow track for RB Adrian Peterson.

Raiders 30, Vikings 24

NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) at NY Giants


The Giants have been the Patriots' Kryptonite for years now, but their defense this year is just a mess, and the Pats' are unmatched in their ability to not make mistakes with a long-form passing game. For once, this gets easy and ugly for the Empire against Eli Manning.

Patriots 34, Giants 24

KANSAS CITY (+5.5) at Denver


A lot to like for the road team here. Andy Reid with post-bye rest is dangerous, the Chief defense has looked a lot better recently, and the Broncos will not be at full strength on defense, thanks to eye pokery in the wee dumb minutes last week against Indy. I'm not sure if they win, but they'll be in touch all night, and cover.

Broncos 24, Chiefs 20

ARIZONA (+3) at Seattle


A great matchup for SNF, with the just better this year Cards needing to get it done on the road against a have to have it Hawks club that's usually death at home. It's a coin toss of a game, but the Hawks OL is just too threadbare to trust.

Cardinals 24, Seahawks 23

Houston at CINCINNATI (+10.5)


Cincy looks to continue the magic at home against a Texans team that's on QB Whatever, RB Whatever, and just one guy (WR DeAndre Hopkins) that you have to worry about. I think the Bengals wind up making this one ugly with turnovers.

Bengals 31, Texans 17

Last week: 7-6

Year: 71-56-1

Career: 689-688-46

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