We’re three weeks into what I am calling the toughest handicapping season in recent memory. Historically, I start fast, really fast, my best being 36-12 in 2007, but this year after three weeks I a single game above .500. Traditionally this is the week that I start heading south, so naturally I am concerned since I don’t have much margin to head south. The question is why has this year seemed so difficult? Well, one of the reasons for me personally, is that I am spending most of time working on identifying my five SuperContest picks. Each week I develop my power ratings, set my own line and then compare to the actual line. Most weeks, I eliminate roughly 6-9 “non-play” games from consideration, leaving me with 7-10 games to focus on for the contest. Those 6-9 plays get no attention until I write this picks column.
But I think the biggest reason for this being a tough season is the fact that the league is upside down this season, meaning that teams have been consistent bet against teams in the past few years are now bet on teams. For example, we have the Lions, Bills, Raiders and Redskins a combined 8-2-2 ATS and 10-2 overall. This year our eyes tell us those teams are bet on, but our heads are telling us “are you effing crazy”. Hence the old habits die hard and lead us to mediocrity. But this is the week, I’ve got it wired.
“Super Wynner Contest” Week 2 Recap
SuperContest Week 2 Recap
- Carolina, Tampa Bay and Seattle winners; Cleveland and NY Jets losers
- Tampa Bay was the best call of the week; in fact, I feel totally locked in on Atlanta (Tampa’s opponent last week), 3-0-0 in their games this season.
- I hate when teams win but don’t cover, I especially hate it when it is my pick. The Cleveland game marked back-to-back weeks (Washington in week two) of a prison-style raping.
- The Jets were a dead money pick, but I am willing to lose a few battles to ultimately win the war.
- It felt like Carolina was the right call, even though they needed a late touchdown to cover 3.5. The Jaguars TD before half had the producers of Friday Night Lights claiming that it was unbelievable.
- The Seahawks also felt like the right call but my advice for anyone betting on the Seahawks is to either not watch or invest in a straight jacket.
LHSC: 3-2, 6-7-2 (Tied for 307th)
NFC Worst – “The Quest for 6 Wins”
San Francisco @ Philadelphia (-9.0)
NY Giants (-1.0) @ Arizona
Atlanta (-4.5) @ Seattle
Washington (-2.5) @ St. Louis
Unfortunately, the 49ers delivered a right cross to the “quest for 6-10”, with an unbelievable, come from behind win against Cincinnati. First off, what are the 49ers thinking? Keep it up 49ers and you will never solve your porous quarterback situation. Hopefully, the Eagles will lay the smack down early and often on the 49ers this weekend to quell any notion the 49ers have of winning 7 games. Just give up, Harbaugh, the world knows you want Andrew Luck!
St. Louis continues to shine. I truly believe this team is better than have played but the fact remains that they likely will be 0-7 after week eight, provided they don’t find a way to lose to “bye week” (Washington, New Orleans, Dallas and Green Bay). Not all is lost with the Rams, however, this is the team that will single handedly keep the 6-10 dream alive. Think about it at 0-7 (or 1-6 if they get the Redskins this week), they will have nine games left – @Pittsburgh, @Cleveland, Cincinnati, and all six NFC West games. Let’s pencil in losses to the Steelers and Browns. That leaves them needed to lose a single game to ensure 10 losses. While it might be too much to ask to lose a home game to the Bengals, we can safely give them a loss in Seattle. Then they sweep the rest of the games, which means we render the 49ers road win meaningless.
Seattle did what was expected of them – look completely inept on offense but win anyway, thus keeping Tavaris at the helm.
The Cardinals were the better team on Sunday, but I appreciate them inventing a way to lose. At this point in the season, we cannot afford to have NFC West trying to be heroes by wining on the road. I also noticed the while Kevin Kolb looks good for the first three quarters, he might have a bit of Red Sox in him (the inability to close).
Major concerns going forward:
- The Rams mailing in the season when they go 0-7. They are the secret second half weapon that we will unleash on the rest of the NFC West in the second half. Plus, if 6-10 wins the division, at 0-7, the Rams only need to finish 6-3 to win the division, host a playoff game and drive some team’s fans crazy that their 11-5 team missed the playoffs.
- Seattle’s offense is a concern, but the reality is they only need to win two more home games against the Rams and 49ers. I could care less what they do in the rest of the games – those two games are their NFC Championship and Super Bowl.
- I’m not all that worried about the 49ers or the Cardinals, the NFC West teams with victories over teams outside the division. We can afford two more abnormal wins by both teams, so there is some margin.
For this week, we have an above average chance to post a 0-4:
San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith commented this week that the Eagles defense “isn’t applying as much pressure from the linebackers and secondary”. Uh oh, that is bulletin board material, Alex! I can’t believe that he called out the back seven of the Eagles and they “suck”. It’s going to be a long day for you Mr. Smith!
You got that and this – the 49ers stayed in Ohio this week; given that and the fact they suck, there is no way they can win an early East coast game this week.
Pick: Philadelphia -9.0
Had the Redskins won Monday in Dallas, this would have been the Rams first win. Unfortunately Rams fans can add that to the list of “reasons to hate Dallas”.
Pick: Washington -2.5
My gut tells me the Cardinals find a way to beat the Giants (trying the reverse jinx here). For starters, Larry Fitzgerald might have the proverbial “no effing way” fantasy game here against the Giants secondary. Next, I expect the Cardinals to be fired up enough to tackle a 5′ 8″, 170 pound receiver. And lastly, the Giants are coming a huge road win against the Eagles, they’re not that good, but they think they are.
Pick: Arizona +1.0
I have been screaming it to anyone who would listen – “Atlanta is not a good team”. What that really means is the Falcons are not a playoff team, nor are they capable of beating playoff teams, but they’re good enough to hammer bad teams. I think Seattle qualifies as a bad team.
Pick: Atlanta -4.5
New England (-6.0) @ Oakland – Tom Brady went all “makeover” on us this past week when he went from a “soap opera” look to an “in the navy” look by cutting his locks. Why would Brady go to such an extreme? My theory is that Belichick never liked the Brady’s hair, but in an effort to be “human” he made Tom a deal, “you can keep the hair until you choke away a 21 point lead by throwing four interceptions”. Yup, that’s pretty much how it went down.
There has been a lot of talk this week about how great the Belichickian Patriots are after a loss. And it’s true they are 17-7 ATS after a loss. But here’s the deal, I heard so much about it that I think it tipped the scale to the opposite side. Plus, I come full circle on the Raiders – they are physical and fast. That’s a lethal combination; just ask the little girls who play for the University of Nebraska!
Pick: Oakland +6.0
Juana Wynner’s Week Four Picks
San Francisco @ Philadelphia (-9.0) – What kind of a team name is the 49ers? The Eagles is a much better name.
Pick: Philadelphia -9.0
Pick: St. Louis +2.5
Tennessee @ Cleveland (PK) – I hate Cleveland. Their team name is just so stupid and I don’t understand it.
Pick: Tennessee +1.0
Minnesota (-3.0) @ Kansas City– Adrian Petersen is my man. He will lead the Vikings to a victory this week.
Carolina @ Chicago (-6.5) – I think that the Bears have what it takes to go all the way. They can easily beat Carolina by a lot.
Pick: Chicago -6.5
Pittsburgh +3.5, Dallas -2.5, Jacksonville +7.5, Atlanta -4.5, Arizona +1.0, Miami +6.5, Denver +12, New England -6.0, Baltimore -4.5, Indianapolis +10.0, Buffalo -3.0
Colin’s note: “The Rams have been doing good”!?! Yeah, real good, in fact they have been doing great! And they better keep it real close!
Detroit @ Dallas (-2.5) – To me, this seems like a huge mismatch. I am not sure Dallas is good and Detroit seems like they’re really good. It’s a Lions no-brainer, right? Not so fast, the Cowboys are favored, which gives me pause about the Lions. I think that is exactly what the odds-makers want, which is why the posted a 2.5 line. A 2.5 line on the Cowboys acknowledges the Lions are a better team, but only slightly in the eyes of the public, whereas my true line of pick’em (where the game should be according to Colin) represents a more significant difference in the two teams. With Dallas being a one of the three or so blind public teams, posting a 2.5 gets their action whereas pick’em might not. Let me explain, public bettors love playing the favorites, simply because the favorites generally represent the better team and most everyone feels more comfortable if they have the better team. So, if the books post a pick’em, the books are telling the public the Lions are three points better than the Cowboys. And when coupled with the following factors, Cowboys rash of injuries; playing after a Monday night win; the Lions impressive start; and the general malaise surrounding the Cowboys start; the public lays off the game. Post is at 2.5, the public perceives Dallas as virtually equal with only needing to win by a field goal or in other words – HAMMER TIME!
Me, not so much, I will take the free 2.5 points. Thanks!
Minnesota (-3.0) @ Kansas City – I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but I see the Vikings racing out to a big halftime lead and then have to hold on for a four point win, when Dwayne Bowe drops a pass in the end zone on fourth down.
Pick: Minnesota -3.0
Carolina @ Chicago (-6.5) – Cam Newton is a covering machine, but at less than a touchdown the Bears offer great value. Not “Great Value”, like the cheap Wal-Mart generic brand of everything (though you can barely tell the difference between Dr. Great Value and Dr. Pepper, uh, you might want to head back to the lab, Wally!) but truly a great value.
The Bears are another team capable of laying the smack down on bad teams, but incapable of beating good teams.
Pick: Chicago -6.5
Tennessee @ Cleveland (PK) – Yup, the Titans are officially the 2011 team I cannot pick correctly. The craziest thing about this game is that the winner is going to be 3-1. 3-1! You have to like the Browns in this situation, given the facts that the Titans just lost their most explosive offensive player in Kenny Britt, with no viable replacement and they have no running game. Looks like the Browns and under.
Better hurry to the betting window with a Titans and over bet!
Pick: Cleveland PK
Megan Wynner’s Week Four Picks
New Orleans (-7.5) @ Jacksonville- I think that Jacksonville will win because they have a cool motto at least better then New Orleans! Also they have awesome team colors!
Pick: Jacksonville +7.5
Detroit @ Dallas (-2.5) – I think that the Detroit Lions will win because lions are stronger than cowboys are. I also think that lions are a stronger team. Therefore, they probably will the Dallas Cowboys.
Pick: Detroit +2.5
Minnesota (-3.0) @ Kansas City – I think that the Minnesota Vikings will win because they are doing good so far. Therefore I think they can destroy Kansas City by a lot!
Pick: Minnesota +3
N.Y. Giants (-1,0) @ Arizona- I think that Arizona Cardinals will win because they are my states team! Also they made it to the super bowl in 2008. I also like their motto.
Pick: Arizona +1
Pittsburgh @ Houston (-3.5) – I think that the Pittsburgh Steelers will win because they won the super bowl in 2008. I also like their team colors! In addition, I think they will be able to outplay the Houston Texans.
Pick: Pittsburgh +3.5
Denver @ Green Bay (-12) – I think the Green Bay Packers will win because they won the super bowl this past year. Therefore, the Packers will be able to outplay the Broncos! I also like the Packers team colors and their uniforms.
Pick: Green Bay -12
Miami @ San Diego (-6.5) – I think that the Miami Dolphins will win because they have an awesome motto! I also think that they can outplay and communicate more than San Diego Chargers! Lastly they have cool uniforms.
Pick: Miami +6.5
New England +6, Baltimore +4.5, Indianapolis +10, Philadelphia -9, St. Louis +2.5, Tennessee PK, Buffalo -3, Chicago -6.5, Seattle +4.5
Colin’s note: I think these two are cheating by sharing their mini write-ups. Now Minnesota “is doing good so far”. If I lose to either of these clowns, I will never pick another game for the rest of my life!
New Orleans (-7.5) @ Jacksonville – This game is receiving the most overall betting action and the most lopsided action of the week – at 90% of the money on New Orleans (thanks to Pregame.Com and their SportsbookSpy tool for this information). Wow, I love how the public thinks – the Saints will load up crazy blitzes on the rookie quarterback, thus confusing him and forcing him into mistakes. Very sound logic and something that I can buy into, except for one thing – the Jags can run the ball on this Saints team. Plus, I imagine the Jags will screen the Saints to death in an effort to offset the massive pressure.
Call me crazy, but I like the Jags to keep this one close.
Pick: Jacksonville +7.5
Buffalo (-3.0) @ Cincinnati – I am not sure the world is ready for the Bills to be 4-0. The Bills are a solid team, but let’s be honest they have been lucky to win the last two weeks.
Imagine the following scenario: Bills win, the Pats and Jets lose. The Bills would be 2 games up at the quarter pole. Not. Going. To. Happen.
Pick: Cincinnati +3.0
Miami @ San Diego (-6.5) – The Sharps are hammering the Dolphins. That seems a little harsh considering, the Norv Turner lead teams have under-achieved for merely five years. Cut the guy some slack, it takes time to learn to be an NFL head coach.
Turner-itis has spread to his otherwise heady quarterback as last week while milking the clock, Phillip Rivers snapped the ball with 23 seconds left on the play clock. Wow!
Pick: Miami +6.5
Pittsburgh @ Houston (-3.5) – To me this is the biggest no-brainer of the week, but it’s not the side you think. Let’s a take a look at the Steelers so far this season – humbling loss to the Ravens, where they couldn’t do much of anything or stop much of anything; a ho-hum blowout of the Seahawks and a narrow victory over the Colts. Not impressive at all! The most disturbing game was the Colts, where Steelers could not protect Roethlisberger nor could run the football against the historically bad Colts run defense. And the defense struggled stopping the run and the pass. It takes some time for the rational person to eliminate the pre-suppositional bias towards a team like the Steelers. Everyone views them as Super Bowl caliber, but if you open your eyes and eliminate the bias, you too will see this team is not good.
Pick: Houston -3.5
Denver @ Green Bay (-12) – The Packers don’t seem to be a typical defending Super Bowl champ. Generally we can count on the Super Champ from the previous season losing inexplicable games and failing to cover the majority of the games by barely win games where they are the heavy, but over-valued, favorite. One of the reasons for this might due to the number injuries they sustained last season. The guys coming back from injury are hungry to win a Super Bowl as players, not as stage 5 clingers. Therefore, we are seeing great effort as though they’re still hunting.
Pick: Green Bay -12
NY Jets @ Baltimore (-4.5) – I did a little research to find this fun fact – in addition to the Titans I have incorrectly called every Ravens and Colts game this year. So, hold the phone on the official “2011 team I cannot pick” team.
This feels like a three point game to me, so the extra 1.5 or 50% is a gift.
Pick: NY Jets +4.5
Indianapolis @ Tampa Bay (-10) – I love the Bucs tenacity, but this team seems destined to play every game close. They are the ultimate grinder team.
Pick: Indianapolis +10
Book it! Colin Wynner calls the week four winners!
Good Luck to all!