I got off to a rather below average start to NFL week 12 with a forgettable 1-2 Thanksgiving day record. And just for the record, the rule “never back the Cowboys as a favorite at home” has now reached the status of it cannot be trumped any other rule, ever!
The silver lining is that I started off 1-0 with my contest picks, which in reality are the only picks that I care about. Translation, I pick every game, but the vast majority are coin flips (see below).
The “Rest of the Picks” picks:
New Orleans (+1.0) over San Francisco – This is a tough one, with dueling theories at work. One theory is that the Saints are back to being the Saints. Of course, it’s not amazing that their resurgence has coincided with a schedule of patsies. Sure, they beat the Falcons a couple (I could write a 10,000 word dissertation about how the Falcons blew that game), but outside of that their wins have come against the Raiders, Eagles, Bucs and Chargers. And while the Bucs game was somewhat impressive against a quality opponent on the road, they needed a joke of a call in the end zone to hang on. And the Chargers had them beat until the refs decided to take matters into their hands. Therefore I am not ready to call them fully back yet. And by the posted number, neither is Vegas.
On the other hand, the 49ers are starting the wunderkind, Colin Kaepernick at quarterback this week. Kaepernick, who led a decisive victory over the Bears on Monday, also successfully performed open heart surgery on Tuesday and fed 10,000 from one 21 pound Butter Ball on Thursday.
Sure Colin looked great this past week, but the Bears looked disinterested on defense and certainly posed nary a threat on offense, meaning 49ers could do what they do best, play from ahead. In addition, Kaepernick threw at least three “one in a hundred” completions. A “one in a hundred” completion is a throw that an above average quarterback could make about one out of every 100 throws.
The 49ers are the superior team, but I don’t want to be tweeting after this game, “I cannot believe I backed Colin Kaepernick in his first road start.”
Cleveland (+1.5) over Pittsburgh – It’s pretty simple, the betting public does not believe the Browns can beat the Steelers even if it were Ronald McDonald taking snaps for the Steelers. And most year’s I would agree with that premise, but this Browns team is feisty. Plus, this is still the Ravens sandwich game for the Steelers, therefore, they will likely be caught looking ahead.
Oakland (+8.5) over Cincinnati – Come on, 8.5 points? Do the odds-makers realize that this is Carson Palmer heading back to Cincinnati with something to prove? And while it is true that the Raiders are inching ever so close to Chiefs/Jaguars, “pick against them every week”, territory, but this is just too many points. Here is a trend for you – since 2000 the Bengals have been a favorite of 8.5 or more just 13 times. In those games, they’re 11-2 straight up but just 4-8-1 ATS. Translation, great survivor pick, lousy side pick.
Chicago (-6.5) over Minnesota – This game is the reason I had to delay this column, as the odds-makers refused to post a number because of the injury to Jay Cutler and the prospect of Jason Campbell behind center. Once it was virtually official that Cutler was playing I finally got the 6.5 number. It’s interesting that the opening line with no Cutler was a pick’em! That’s 6.5 points for Cutler! That’s Peyton Manning country, Jay! Cutler’s agent should go to Bears management Monday morning demanding Peyton Manning money.
Buffalo (+3.0) over Indianapolis – Ok, so I am supposed to believe that the Bills and Colts are equal teams? Not in my book, in fact I have the Colts closer to five or six points in this game. I am reminded that the books don’t mind taking a position on a game. It looks like this is a spot where they are comfortable being exposed on the Bills, with three quarters of the action on the Colts and an ever so sly opposite juice movement on the Colts to -3 EVEN. To recap, the number is short to begin with, the money is on the Colts and the commission I have to pay to the play the Colts has gone down? “FREE MONEY!”
Seattle (-3.0) over Miami – If you’ve seen Ryan Tannehill play quarterback over the last month then you completely understand backing Seattle as a road favorite, despite this 10-18 ATS since 2001.
Tennessee (-3.5) over Jacksonville – Someone should tell Blaine Gabbert that the Jaguars are now “happier with their quarterback situation than they have been all year long.” The amazing thing is that Gabbert is so bad that people actually think Chad Henne is good.
Also, remember when MJD used to play football? Yeah, me too, that was fun! Reason number #1547 “why I am not playing fantasy football next year”, is these nagging foot injuries that keep running backs out multiple weeks, even though each week said running back is “questionable.”
Kansas City (+10.5) over Denver – Seriously, 10.5? Even Romeo Crennel thinks this line is way too high and his main goal each day is to breath.
Arizona (-1.5) over St. Louis – What a disappointing, horrid performance by the Rams last week. That is to be expected with a young team like the Rams. The good news for the Rams is that they are young and have roughly a zillion draft picks over the next two years as a result of all of the trading they did prior to the 2012 NFL draft.
The bad news? RG III looks like a once in a lifetime player. I never thought I would go here but I want to jump in Doc Brown’s Delorean to go back to a day before the Rams made the trade with the Skins and show Jeff Fisher the game tape of the Redskins dismantling of the Cowboys Thursday. That should be enough to get the Rams to shop Bradford, albeit with draft picks, as opposed to that #2 overall pick.
Oh and in my way back I would make stop in Vegas to hammer Notre Dame as the BCS champ.
Good luck this week.