Ugh, Cardinals!

Ugh, Cardinals!

In case you were buried under a rock and missed the news, the Arizona Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray with the #1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Cardinals twitter account quickly changed their nickname to “#KardsGotKyler” as though they just drafted transcendent player who would guarantee the Cardinals an annual trip to the playoffs.

The reality, this move is like playing your life savings on the lottery. Sure, you might win the big prize, but that doesn’t make the move any less stupid. Kyler Murray might become the GOAT, leading the Cardinals to six of the next ten Super Bowls, just like I might win the lottery with everything I own on it. Again, that would not make the decision to draft Murray smart, just lucky.

To call this move stupid is an understatement, this is colossally stupid, this is “set a franchise back five years” stupid! Why? Well, let’s dissect the move in greater detail.

  • It seems obvious that the Cardinals had Murray graded way higher than any other NFL team. There is zero evidence to suggest otherwise. The Cardinals entire strategy was to make it seem like Murray was the pick, then maybe wasn’t the pick, they held out as though they didn’t know what they were going to do until the very last minute. Literally, they took the entire 10 minutes to make the choice, while the rest of the NFL sat back and laughed. From what has been reported, no team had any interest in moving up to get Murray. I am thinking the Cardinals could have gotten Murray with the 5th pick at the very worst and probably could have got him in the teens.
  • The above doesn’t matter if the Cardinals did not have a significant investment at the quarterback position already, as well as holes all over the roster, you take the quarterback that your head coach “has” to have to be successful. But the reality is the Cardinals do have a significant investment, not only in cash but draft equity, at quarterback. And the roster is not full of holes, it is one giant hole!
  • The comparison to the Rams and Jared Goff applies here. Goff under a head coach with little offensive imagination, struggled mightily. Rams hire boy wonder McVay and he turns a mediocre Goff into a Super Bowl loser; still Goff has two playoff wins which is more than Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes and Marcus Mariota. This seems like a fair comp, Cardinals have rookie Rosen thrown into the fire with a defensive minded head coach and, an offensive coordinator who has fired mid-season; not exactly setting the kid up for success. He clearly struggled, but, in my opinion, he was better than Goff as a rookie. Keep in mind that Rams roster was overall better than the Cardinals last year as well. The Cardinals, protecting their investment in Rosen, hire a quarterback guru in Kingsbury. The seemed like a perfect plan. Kliffy gets two years to get the most out of Rosen, while the Cardinals rebuild the roster. At that point the Cardinals know what they have in Rosen, and if the final assessment is, he is not “the guy” then they move on to another Oklahoma quarterback who won the Heisman because the BIG 12 plays less than zero defense. If you think about two years from now – Trevor Lawrence, a true franchise, transcendent player will be in the draft. The point – the Cardinals have no idea what they have in Rosen, you cannot give up on a player until you know what he is!
  • Raise your hand if you trust Kyler Murray’s dad. Hmm, no hands raised . . . Raise your hand if you think it is curious to choose a sport with a life expectancy of three years versus a sport you could play 20 years. Hmm, all hands raised . . . Look Kyler’s “life-long love” of football is reason 25,000,001 that he decided to give the money back to the A’s and pursue a football career. He netted 11 million on this deal out of the box and 17 million over the next three years. Fast forward three years – uncle Kliff will be looking for a new job, Kyler will be heading back to the A’s and Rosen will have at least three playoff wins under his belt – book it! Sure, that is the worst-case scenario but that is significantly more likely than Kyler winning three playoff games in that period.

The above does nothing to address the limitations Murray has on the field.

The size problem. Murray fan boy – “Look at Russell Wilson.” Realistically, Wilson is at least an inch taller than Murray, has bigger hands (that is a big deal in the NFL, ball is slicker and tougher to grip) and had played professional baseball, which undoubtedly matured him. In my mind, Russell seems like a better leader and more mature than Murray, also a big deal in the NFL. And Russell was a third-round pick who was drafted on an already Super Bowl roster. How long will the Cardinals give Murray before they give up on him? I mean they just kicked a slightly used #10 pick to the curb after a year.

The “BIG12” problem. Murray fan boy – “Look at Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes.” I say look at the Alabama game – 31-10 when Bama essentially got bored, allowing Murray to pile up stats, giving the illusion that the game was close. When the game in the balance, Murray looked pedestrian against a defense that is much closer to the one he will face in the NFL. As to the comps, Mayfield has a significantly better roster, plays in a place where winning six games is considered a huge success and played with virtually no expectations last year. Let’s see what happens this year with a mountain of expectations as the newly anointed team to beat in the AFC North.

It is hard to argue with the success Mahomes has had and if Murray turns out to be Patrick Mahomes, I supposed the Cardinals will proclaim the move a success. My argument against the Mahomes comp would be Mahomes sat a full year, under a proven quarterback guru, plays behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and had a surplus of weapons the Cardinals can only fantasize about. In addition, while mobile, Mahomes is more of a pocket passer who uses his legs to create time and space. Murray is the opposite, uses his legs to create plays. Good luck with that in the NFL, where everyone is as fast.

At the end of the day, it’s not Murray’s his fault, props to him and his family for getting what he got. And props to his pops if the master plan to get 17 million more up front, hope for success in the NFL that will garner him a huge quarterback contract, but if that doesn’t happen, he returns to MLB. That is genius!

No, the fault here is clearly on the Cardinals, specifically Michael Bidwell. I have read a lot of vitriol aimed at Steve Keim over the last 24 hours, please people, this poor guy is nothing more than Bidwell’s puppet and ultimate fall guy. This move to draft Murray was not about the product on the field but rather filling seats and filling them with millennials as was the decision to hire Kingsbury in the first place. It makes a lot of sense, millennials don’t really care about results, hell, they forget who won an hour after the game. No, they want to part of the experience, they want to follow like-minded people. Exit old curmudgeon, defensive coach, enter young, fresh-minded, fireworks guy with a cool haircut and dope threads.

There was a time where NFL players referred to the Cardinals as the “arm pit” of the NFL. It seems like that is the Bidwell’s comfort zone because they are certainly doing all they can to return to that dubious moniker. No one will want to play here, but millennials will eat up the experience. Fill seats, right, Mike?

If you are golfer, you understand the value of a mulligan. A chance to redo a poor shot is invaluable in golf, which is why very few, if any are ever allotted. This feels a lot like Steve Keim and Michael Bidwell used a mulligan to erase a 180-yard shot that landed on the green a mere 15-feet from the pin, in hopes they can hit a shot inside 10-feet. Problem they cannot putt so either way it doesn’t matter!

Stayed tuned for next year’s draft, when the Cardinals, drafting first again, pull the trigger on . . . Heisman winner, Oklahoma quarterback, Jalen Hurts! They still can’t putt, but maybe one of these days they will knock it in from 180 out and maybe I will hit the lotto.

2018 NFL Playoff Picks – Super Bowl Edition

February 3rd, 2002, 17-years ago to the day, the mighty Rams fell, and Pats dynasty was born! Quite literally it was a dynasty that never was versus what we now know as the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL.

I have railed the Pats more than anyone, I will admit I hate them, but in the words of Wes Mantooth, “I pure, straight hate them, but, dammit, do I respect them.” Of course, when I play the game, “Three sports wishes,” one of them is always simply call the “tuck rule” a fumble. It is fun to wonder if Tom Brady becomes the “cannot win the big one” guy. Again, Boston fans in 2001 weren’t exactly the most stable of fan bases. The Pats were 0-2 in Super Bowls, the Red Sox were sitting on 85 years of failure, the beloved Celtics drought had reached 15 years and the Bruins were the black sheep of the Boston sports family. Imagine if the Pats lose that game to the Raiders, does fan base with an inferiority complex allow the amazing Belichick to hang around? Is there pressure from the fans to keep Drew Bledsoe?

Ah, it’s fun to dream! The derivative of that sports wish – the Rams win Super Bowl 36!

Enough with the fantasies, on to the game. For me, it is simple, dress the Pats team in any other costume and the Rams are a clear favorite, as they were the better team the entire year, save for two game blips on the radar – a sub-freezing loss in Chicago and a mind-freeze against the Eagles. But it’s the Pats, this mythological figure known as the “God of victory.” I admit I bought into the Pats hype for about 48 hours, here is a sampling of the non-sense:

“You give Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare and he will shut down any offense” – Right, it’s not like the Eagles hung 41 on him last year.

“Tom Brady is the GOAT” – Literally, “GOAT” as in “Greatest Athlete of All-Time!” Put down the crack pipe! Thomas Brady is on the verge of losing his 4th Super Bowl, not sure he belongs in the same category as even Joe Montana. Joe Montana? Stick with me here, let’s imagine that the 80s version of the NFL, decided that they needed their star QBs, like Montana, to hang around until they were grandfathers, so they changed every rule to help not only offenses but also help keep the quarterbacks healthy. No more vicious Leonard Marshall hits, but rather a poised Montana standing in the pocket picking defenses apart with zero fear. Let’s also imagine that when the 49ers were planning to jettison Montana for a younger, more athletic, equally effective version in Steve Young, Montana stormed into Eddie D’s office and demanded Young be traded. How would that have turned out? Very possible that Montana wins two, maybe three more Super Bowls, but for sure he would have got at least one. You get the parallel’s with Brady, the NFL and Jimmy G.

“The Rams do not deserve to be in the Super Bowl” – That may be the case. But I would argue the Rams played the Saints to a virtual draw prior that horrific call, in the “toughest place to play in the NFL” and against a “QB/Coach combo that had never lost a home playoff game.” Moreover, the Rams rallied back from a 13-0 deficit ion that game – not the Pats would have righted the ship v. the Chiefs if Andy Reid decided to coach the first half.

“The NFL wants the Pats to win the Super Bowl” – I love a good conspiracy theory, but this one is seriously flawed. As I stated back at the beginning of the playoffs, the NFL is morphing into a scripted league, using officials to dictate desired outcomes. Of course, that is outlandish, but imagine this exchange from Raj to Al Riveron, the head of officiating:

RG – “Al, revenues are looking good for 2018, you can pass along to your employees that bonus money should be solid. Of course, that is based on ratings in the playoffs, which, as you know, has some fluidity. Our numbers tell us that the highest possible rating would be achieved with a Rams/Pats Super Bowl.”

Done.

Now onto the part about the Pats winning the Super Bowl. I mentioned before that the NFL is in a transition phase this year, from Brees to Mahomes, Roethlisberger to Josh Allen, Manning to Darnold, Stafford to Mayfield and, wait for it . . ., Brady to Goff. The NFL is not sending Brady out as a winner for two reasons – 1. Transitions of this nature are abrupt, old guy loses, then disappears for good. There is no riding off into the sunset, but rather dragged behind a horse as the credits roll.; and 2. As captain obvious would state, “the Rams have been the benefactor of the calls this post-season!” Why is that? Well, let’s look back at the Eagles regular season game for answers – the LA Coliseum was reported to be 60/40 Eagles fans. The NFL needs to develop a fan base in LA or “Stan’s world” is going to be empty on most Sunday’s in the fall. And in LA you don’t build a fan base by losing in the Super Bowl – titles are all that count. In fact, I think you can safely book it that the Rams not only win this year, but next year as well. Back-to-back titles should get enough people willing to cough up Junior’s college savings for end zone seats in the new Rams palace.

There you go a strong case for the Rams, based on math – better team and based on a very believable “WWE-esque” scenario.

One final thought – Brady’s comfortability in the pocket is paramount to the Pats success, he simply does not want to get hit. He has heard the stories of Earl Campbell, who takes three hours to get out of body due to his NFL wrecked body. Tom Brady doesn’t want any part of that and when he gets contact, he isn’t the same player, in fact, it’s not even close – see the Steelers game for proof. I think it goes even deeper for Tommy though, I think the threat of getting hit by an opposing defensive line makes him skittish, see Giants 2011 Super Bowl game as proof. As good as Brady is that is his kryptonite. His dreams have been haunted by Aaron Donald for two weeks. Furthermore, as most everyone knows I have long been an advocate of taking 15-yard personal foul shot on Brady early. It amazes me that teams don’t do this, the 15 yards would be a drop in the ocean compared to the effect on Brady. The Rams have just the player who will have no problem delivering a cheap shot – Ndamukong Suh.

Given that, I will boldly predict the following – 1. One flagrant personal foul on Brady by Suh; and 2. Some rule change this off-season to eject a player if, in the referee’s mind, the foul was “flagrant.” #MorePowertotheNFLRefs = #MoreScriptingtheNFL

Monday morning headlines:

Boston Globe: “Fans chant ‘One More Year’ as Brady ties Jim Kelly with record fourth Super Bowl loss!”

LA Times: “Government shutdown looms as Trump continues his personal agenda.”

“Rams win Super Bowl!”

Rams 31 Patriots 27

2018 NFL Playoff Picks – Conference Championship Edition

0-8!

Oh and eight!

0 and $%#^@&^ 8!

So, how did your divisional weekend end up? I will admit it takes some serious skill to go all “Golden Sombrero” back to back days. And to make matters worse, I lost this prop bet, “Divisional Weekend wins by Colin Wynner vs. Total Hits in the World Series by Manny Machado.” I thought that was a lock after Machado mustered just four hits (by the way, enjoy South Side of Chicago, Manny)!

There is some good news – I won a prop bet last week, in fact I won four props bets! Unfortunately, that was out of 18 total prop bets. So, for those non-mathematician’s that was 4-14 or 4-22 on the weekend. BTW, if my “man” asks about me, please don’t tell him where I am.

Enduring a weekend of suck like that had Colin on the brink of posting one final tweet – “Goodbye cruel world . . . ”

“. . .of handicapping.”

But the sun came up on Monday, and on Tuesday and by Wednesday I had enough excuses in my quiver that I was making a case that I should have been 8-0. Well, maybe not 8-0 but I had at least rationalized the losses to keep me from the ledge.

Well, what exactly went wrong? The following were the main stories that dominated my thinking and formed my opinions, and ultimately led to my picks last week:

  1. “Prove it to me” and “I will pay to see it” – Mahomes and Goff. After being burnt by first time QB’s the week before, I needed these two quarterbacks to prove they were ready for the pressure. Both guys absolutely proved they can handle the moment, albeit with a lot of help from teammates, the refs and the other team. Oh and I did in fact pay to see it!
  2. “The Pats are done” – I am sticking to this, they are done and this version is seriously flawed. They did absolutely nothing different than what I expected – short passes and a lot of running. The problem was the Chargers scheme to stop the Pats was a joke, as if Belichick sent Anthony Lynn a recommended game for beat the Pats and Lynn implemented every bit of it. You know like a Jedi-mind trick.
  3. “This miracle run by the Eagles was over and over in a big way” – A huge part of that thinking was the wear and tear they endured over the last six “all-in” weeks would leave them emotional spent and hit them hard in Nawlins. The fact is it did, but the Saints were incapable of putting them away (missed field goal, touchdown called back for bogus holding and three lousy Brees throws that should have been touchdowns). Think about this – if Brees hits a wide open Ted Ginn Jr on the first play, does that game end closer to 41-20 or 20-14? Exactly.

Obviously, the above made me feel better that I was the victim of two teams not showing up, some bad luck, plenty of bad calls, both refs and coaches (PI on 4 and 3 in LA; McVay going for the touchdown on 4th from 1, up 8?!?). However, you don’t post a big, fat zero without some serious flawed logic that includes overlooking some obvious things:

  1. Winning back-to-back playoff games on the road is tough (teams off a road win, back on road now just 15-37 since 2002). The reality is I only picked one (Chargers) of the three teams in that situation last week to win. I completely ignored the sacred playoff rule of “pick the winner.”
  2. Speaking of the “pick the winner” rule. I got too caught up in the disparity of the divisional round SU results versus ATS results. Since 2002, 16 out of 64 divisional games the SU winner did not cover the spread, meaning 75% of the time the winner covers the spread. I picked both the Chiefs and Rams to win but not cover based on that notion. In hindsight, one of those I would have either outrighted the underdog or picked the favorite to cover – if I could climb in Doc Brown’s Delorean so I could tell my last week self one thing, it would be “pick the winner, fool!”
  3. I committed the “Cardinal Sin” of handicapping – I let my personal feelings sway my picks. I wanted the Pats to lose, I want them to be done, I am sick of them, I am sick of the AFC East and it’s utter incompetence at every level – players, coaches and management – for 18 years now; likewise, the 2018 Eagles are a trash team with a couple of really unlikable players (Michael Bennett), no way I wanted this miracle run to continue; and as a man of faith, I like Nick Foles and what he stands for, but I was done with the “Nick Foles” magic show. I built a case based on those feelings and ignored glaring facts that would have refuted my feelings, and no, I have never worked for the Ada, Oklahoma prosecutor’s office!

Conference Championship Team Rankings – things are tight, really tight, I mean the WWE has gotten exactly what they wanted, any of the remaining teams could win this thing. As a twist, I turn back the clock to look at what could have been for the historical team for each of the remaining teams.

1.New Orleans Saints (+225, +240, +195)

Historical Team: 2009 New Orleans Saints. Remember the 2009 Saints needed Favre be the “oh no” version of Brett Favre to pull that game out. Also, in 2018 the Saints would have had to scored a touchdown in overtime to end it or the Vikings would have gotten a chance.

2.Kansas City Chiefs (+475, +500, +260)

Historical Team: 2001 St. Louis Rams. You know if you put the 2001 Rams in 2018, they beat the Patriots silly. Can you imagine the number of penalties on Ty Law and Otis Smith would have incurred in that game? Even if Tom Brady “fanboy” Clete Blakeman was the ref.

3.Los Angeles Rams (+600, +500, +400)

Historical Team: 2001 Chicago Bears. Given the win over the Cowboys, I think their historical team is closer to the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But for fun let’s imagine the 2001 Bears beat the Eagles to advance to the play the Rams. Thinking the Rams win that game against the regular Bears 31-10, against mini-Bears with regular size Ditka coaching 49-7 and 91-0 against mini-Bears, with no Ditka. #SuperFans

4.New England Patriots (+600, +600, +375)

Historical Team: 1993 Buffalo Bills. The most interesting thing about the future odds this week is the significant drop for the AFC teams. Like suddenly, the AFC teams are better because the Chiefs and Pats beat two teams that didn’t get off the bus! For the 1993 Bills, let’s imagine Scot Norwide makes that field goal against the Giants, or maybe Levy doesn’t play for a 47-yard field giving the 1990 Bills the win. Does that spark four straight Super Bowl wins? Doubtful, but they might have pulled off 2-2 and beat the Cowboys in 1993.

Geaux Saints! Emotional Hedge week!

Conference championship round notes (since 2002):

  • Home teams have won the last 10 conference title games, 8-2 ATS; Overall home teams are 26-10 and 20-15-1 ATS. (Chiefs and Saints)
  • Home teams winning but failing to cover in the divisional round are 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS; 1-6 to the Over (Saints)
  • The Pats have been an underdog in the conference title game just twice, 0-2 ATS

My playoff rules (you know the ones I didn’t bother following last week or the week before) can be read them here.

The back of Colin’s player card:

Note: Lines are courtesy of 5dimes.eu

Patriots @ Chiefs (-3 -115, 55.5)

Girl (Tomi), don’t go away mad, just, for the love of God, go away.” – Motley Crue (1989)

Oh boy, you’re thinking, here we go again . . . Colin’s letting his personal feelings get in the way of the “right” pick! Not so fast, keep reading.

Did you know – the last time Tomi Brady won on the road in the playoffs, most of the Pats roster was in school – high school, a handful in junior high. The year was 2006, the opponent was the Colts, the score at one point was 21-3 in favor of the Pats, final score was 38-34 Colts. Can you believe the GOAT, Tomi Brady, choked that game away? Or the greatest coach in the history of the world, blew an 18-point lead to Peyton Manning of all quarterbacks?

The thing is that 2006 Pats team was seriously flawed, a team that was forced to play a WR at DB, a team with zero deep threats, a team that won the divisional round against the Chargers by sitting back and letting the Chargers, well be the Chargers. Sound familiar? Compare that to this year, serious flawed team with no deep threats and beat the Chargers in the divisional round by the Chargers being the Chargers, ill-prepared to play football on the biggest stage.

Given that, this Pats team is beatable, the question is – how do you go about beating them Pats? Well, it starts with defense, and hey, I am no defensive coordinator but scheming to the beat pats doesn’t seem like rocket science. Here are three simple things I would do:

  1. Hit Tomi early, even if you have to take a 15-yard penalty. Dirty? Yeah, no doubt that is cheap and dirty, but isn’t that what is missing from this kumbaya, soft-ass league right now? Chiefs defender, ask yourself this question, “Do you want to win the Super Bowl?” Or you would rather hope to get Tomi’s signed “game used” jock after he dispatches you? For reference on how to treat a quarterback in this scenario, re-watch the 2009 NFC Title game between Saints and Vikings, where the Saints, albeit being the “bountygate” game, repeatedly hit Favre and it had an impact on him. And if that had an impact on a tough guy like Favre, imagine the impact on the soft, Ugg wearing, underwear model, Tomi. Think about the first passing play of this game and Brady gets nailed, he won’t be comfortable the rest of the game. Can the Chiefs get to him? Well they rank 7th in adjusted sack rate, which is very comparably to the Steelers, who gave the Tomi fits in the final month of the season. Uh, so YES they can.
  2. For the love of God, you do not sit back in a zone, attempting to take away the one thing the Pats cannot do – throw the ball deep. The good news is the Chargers provided the blue-print for what NOT to do against the pats. It’s physical man coverage with creative blitzing or DIE against the Pats. Sure, Edelman is hyper quick off the line and may beat man coverage initially, so maybe you bracket him and take your chances with Phillip Dorsett or Chris Hogan. Even if Edelman is able to shake loose, if the Chiefs accomplish point #1, the ball is likely to come out too quick or fall at Edelman’s feet because Tomi will be rattled.
  3. Punish the receivers on these short passes. I think this was the Chargers game plan as well, but like the Chargers do, they failed to execute. This all about energy and effort, something the Chargers lacked from the opening kickoff, I have to believe the Chiefs will bring max effort.

Now can the Chiefs do these three things? Yes, I believe they not only can but will. And, yes, I thought the same about the Chargers, however, here are the differences:

  1. Chiefs are not road weary;
  2. The Chiefs have NFL plus-level linebackers;
  3. As mentioned several times the Chiefs will not sit back in a zone and let Tomi dink and dump them to death;
  4. It seems like everyone made a huge deal about the Chargers D-Line based on their play against the Ravens – that had more to do with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens ineffectiveness. The reality is the Chargers D-line is average, the Chiefs D-line is above average; the Chargers linebackers would struggle to earn starting spots at Ala . . ., uh, I mean Clemson, the Chiefs linebackers are much better. The Chargers do have an advantage in the secondary, of course, they negated any advantage by sitting in a zone.

All that said, I still expect the Pats to put up points, therefore, the Chiefs offense will have play more like their first half against the Colts. Oh, there is some good news, the Chiefs have the number #1 offense in the NFL.

I have no doubt Billy B will have a plan but that plans breaks down when Mahomes gets out of the pocket. What happens then? Mahomes will make plays, big plays. The Pats area better against statuesque quarterbacks, and not the Greek God statue, but rather the inability to move statue.

Look both of these games this weekend are tight, they obviously could go either way, in fact the best play of the weekend might be to play the +500 on the prop that the game is decided by exactly three points.

But, I am tasked with making a pick, and at the end of the day, Jim Nantz will ask Andy Reid what the difference was this year, Reid will respond, “It was just our time, Jim, just our time.”

One final thing that is incredibly annoying – the Pats playing the “nobody respects us” card. That is unbelievably weak. I appreciate the three other teams in the final four have not resulted to such tactics to create motivation for themselves, honestly Pats act like you have been there before, because you have. This week, Julian Edelman told America to “bet against us.” Done.

Chiefs 35 Patriots 31

Prop Bets:

Game is decided by exactly 3 points (+500)

Sony Michel over 75.5 Rushing Yards (-110)

James White over 5.5 Receptions (-110)
Julian Edelman over 6.5 Receptions (-120)
Patrick Mahomes over 13.5 Rushing Yards (-125)
Longest Completion by Patrick Mahomes Over 44.5 (-120)
Longest Reception by Tyreek Hill Over 37.5 (-120)
Sammy Watkins over 58.5 Receiving Yards (-110)


Rams @ Saints (-3 -120, 56.5)


“The shapes up to be the best game of the weekend.” – Captain Obvious

Let’s walk through how Colin sees this game playing out:

  1. Though the Saints have an advantage in special teams, much of it is due to FG/XP but keep in mind the Rams were without Zuerlein for a fair portion of the season. Both teams do have excellent ST coaches, therefore, I would not rule out a special team play factoring in the outcome of the game. In a tight game like this, a blocked punt or big return can flip the outcome. Therein lies the unpredictability of football – if you can find a “blocked kick” prop, play it. Should be a pretty decent chunk of change.
  2. Much like last week, the Rams game plan will to run the ball a ton and use play-action to setup big plays down the field. The loss of DT Sheldon Rankins for the Saints should not be discounted as he is a run stuffer and pocket mover, the Rams will have an easier time with the interior line of the Saints. That should allow the Rams to control the clock, take the crowd out of the game and wear the Saints down – at least that would be my plan.
  3. The Rams defense is hard to gauge as they played much better last week than the regular season numbers would have indicated they would. Of course, that was Dak Prescott and not Drew Brees. Still, it seems like Suh was saving himself for the playoffs, even Corey Littleton showed up and the secondary was solid as Talib makes a big difference in what they want to do. It even seemed like Wade Phillips was alive last week, which is also good news for the Rams.
  4. If I am a Saints fan, I am a little concerned about Brees’ arm and that something might be wrong. He missed three deep balls last week, that should have been touchdowns; he got by last week, but he won’t this week with a better overall opponent. Granted some of that might be time off and working out the rust, but I am more inclined to believe his arm is dead. Not good news for the Saints.
  5. The good news for the Saints is they have Taysom Hill, who looks like he wakes in the morning and immediate head butts a brick wall. Hill hit Kamara with a perfectly thrown rope on a post route for a touchdown last week on a trick play that I am guessing Payton was hoping he wouldn’t have to use until the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, it was called back by a ridiculous holding call, but I have to say, as a Rams fan, I hope Wade Phillips saw that on film as I am sure there is a variations of that play that will be in the game plan. FWIW, that would have been a touchdown against the Rams had Payton been able to hold onto it for this week.

It would be a major disappointment if game was not highly entertaining, but not “NFL 2018” entertaining, where no one is stopped but rather this should be an old school game, every possession is precious with players playing at a high, high level.

I honestly do not see the shootout we witnessed in the regular season, given that, I would make the under the play of choice. Again, I can see this ending on an exact 3-point victory

Here is the deal, every Super Bowl winning team, save the 1972 Dolphins, has had a loss at some point in the season, some of those losses have looked ugly, so ugly that if you just watched that game you might wonder how that team could ever hoist the Lombardi. The Rams had a couple of those games down the stretch, and, for me, as noted a pessimistic fan, I felt like they had no chance of advancing in the playoffs. Last week they showed me they were a lot closer to the team early in the year than the team in December. The Rams had one goal this year – win the Super Bowl or the season would be a bitter disappointment. It is not stretch to think this team saved it’s best for playoffs. And their best this week should be good enough win their fourth NFC title.

Rams 27 Saints 24 (Rams +3.5 -125)

Prop Bets:

Game is decided by exactly 3 points (+500)
Alvin Kamara Over 40.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
CJ Anderson Over 45.5 Rushing Yards (-110)
Gerald Everett scores a TD (+380)
Gerald Everett Over 2.5 receptions (Even)
Gerald Everett Over 23.5 receiving yards (-115)
Mark Ingram Under 42.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
Taysom Hill scores a TD (+333)

2018 NFL Playoff Picks – Divisional Round Edition

After blazing through one of the easiest, sweat-free covers to start off the 2018 post-season, Colin was dreaming of hoisting the mythical “11-0!” trophy . . . THUD! What was that? Well, the THUD was the hamstring of SeaBass, better known as “fat turd kicker.” With no kicker, the Seahawks were in 4-down territory and “go for two” mode the entire second half; a 4th&4 touchdown and two two-pointers later I get notched by a half point. That felt a lot like drawing aces against a five, splitting, drawing another ace, splitting again and drawing yet another ace; when all is said and done, I sit with 4x my original bet, A-8 (19), A-7 (18) and two A-10 against a five. Of course, you know the story, dealer turns over a six, draws a 10 to 21. Loss, loss, push and push. Still dazed and confused on Sunday, I was flat for both games and my performance on the field showing as me and my “first-time playoff QB starter” buddies combined for ZERO wins!

I have documented playoff rules that I follow religiously and what did I do? I broke rule #1 – “Never back a shaky quarterback in the playoffs, especially on the road!” I may have to amend this rule add another corollary, “always bet against a first-time starter in playoffs.” Funny thing, it makes perfect sense, or at least it did after the first three possessions in the Ravens/Chargers game, that quarterbacks making their first start in the playoffs struggle mightily. It got me thinking back to one of my favorite “what-ifs” in all of sports – what if the tuck rule is ruled a fumble? Remember that through three quarters, Tommy Terrific played more like Tommy the Tool, leading the Pats to a whopping 3 points and a mere 176 yards passing in a home playoff game. What if the Raiders win that game? Is TB12 more like Peyton Manning? I maintain it is possible that a loss there hurts both Brady and Belichick, despite what we know 17 years later. Also, remember this is long before the city of Boston signed their “new millennium” deal with the Devil. The “chowds” were part of a sad sack of fans with a massive inferiority complex; these are fans stating “wait until next year” after an opening day Red Sox loss. Think about this – would Belichick and Brady been around for the 2003 season if they blew a home playoff game in 2001 and then missed the playoffs the following year?

The point is this – it’s hard to win in the playoffs and, yeah, it does get in the heads of a quarterback or a coach. Think about how much different Marvin Lewis’ career would have been had Kimo von Oelhoffen not taken out Carson Palmer’s knee on the second play of the game? The Bengals might win the Super Bowl that year! Instead, Marvin leaves Cincinnati without a playoff win. That was in Palmer’s head as well. In 2015, he played his worst two games as a Cardinals player in the playoffs.

The thing is with these first-time starting quarters (and coaches for that matter) is they need things to go right for them, they need an early lead. Lamar Jackson was at a disadvantage having played the Chargers three weeks before (side note: I am so scarred by the Norv Turner/Mike McCoy Chargers, that I completely over-looked the fact they have a coach who cares about more than one phase of the game). You tell immediately the moment was way too big for Lamar, but still had the Ravens jumped out to an early lead he probably would have leveled off and been fine. Again, it did not help that he had the toughest first round matchup and a team familiar with the Ravens offense.

For Trubisky, he put his team in position to win so it’s hard to put a large portion of the blame on him but he didn’t play well in the first half and he was a victim of a coach who mid-way through the first was probably wondering why the hell he didn’t tank week 17 and play the Vikings, as opposed to deal with Nick “the jump ball magician” Foles. All that said, if that first Eagles possession goes two-yard rush, incomplete pass and Khalil Mack sack on third down, the Bears probably win by two touchdowns.

Oh well, what do you do? You try to get better and find winners. On to the divisional round, but first let’s look at the futures:

I lost my #2(Ravens), #3(Bears), #9 (Seahawks) and #12 (Texans). I nailed the Texans as the “2008 Dolphins” as non-competitive and Deshaun Watson was exactly what you would expect out of a first-timer. The Seahawks also was a call as they masqueraded as the 2012 Colts, a team that came on strong but was one and done. Ravens and Bears? Well, I was a lot closer for the Ravens (2001 Pats) save the “tuck rule.” I blew it on the Bears, Nagy and company just were not ready.

This week’s ranking of the remaining playoff teams, with Super Bowl odds (beginning of playoffs and current). For fun I dug around and found a historical team each 2018 NFL playoff most closely resembled.

Full disclosure – I am still holding a Saints (20-1) and a Texans (25-1) Super Bowl future. I think I will let the Texans future ride – no hedge.

1.New Orleans Saints (+225, +240)

 

Historical Team: 2009 New Orleans Saints. Oh, the disrespect, they go from +225 t0 +240 because they have to face off with donkey dick Nick Foles. Goodness, this Eagles team is annoying. As I stated last week right here, “I remember that 2009 season, nobody gave them a chance to win the Super Bowl, despite being the #1 seed in the NFC. Everyone was in love the Cardinals . . .” Final Score – Saints 45 Cardinals 14

2.Kansas City Chiefs (+475, +500)

Historical Team: 2001 St. Louis Rams. I was very tempting to move them down as this first-time starter has me second guessing myself worse than Chrissy Moltisanti.

3.Los Angeles Chargers (+600, +1100)

Historical Team: 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. Based on the win against the Ravens, I changed their historical team from the 2014 Bengals to the 2005 Steelers. They might get on one of those runs where they play well enough and Vince McMahon, er, Paul Tagliabue, will honor Phillip Rivers career with a Super Bowl, just like he did with Jerome Bettis. Keep in mind, Tags was getting ready to retire, so he was showing Goodell how to stage the outcome of playoff games. Man, did Goodell take it to the next level!

4.Los Angeles Rams (+600, +500)

Historical Team: 2001 Chicago Bears. I still don’t trust Goff, but the path just got infinitely easier with the DD-Nick and the Eagles pulling off the upset.

5.New England Patriots (+600, +600)

Historical Team: 1992 Buffalo Bills. Just like last week, I think we all agree “just fking go away already.”

6.Indianapolis Colts (+2800)

Historical Team: 1994 Green Bay Packers. I certainly can see them winning in Kansas City but this run in going to come to an abrupt end with a Lombardi – this year! Look out next year.

7.Dallas Cowboys (+3000, +2050)

Historical Team: 2015 Minnesota Vikings. Here is something I find hilarious – the Cowboys are one of the final eight teams in the NFL and are currently 20.5-1 to win Super Bowl. The 4-8 Nebraska Cornhuskers are 25-1 to win the CFP title next year. I will let you decide where the value lies. I said it last week – “Dak simply cannot do enough to make a deep playoff run.”

8.Philadelphia Eagles (+3500, +1600)

Historical Team: 2000 St. Louis Rams. The Eagles are still the 2000 Rams, Az Hakim still fumbled that punt, the Eagles just got lucky and recovered it (blocked FG). Now go get your ass beating in Nawlins, get back to booing Santa and throwing batteries at opponents.

Geaux Saints!

 

Some Divisional Round weekend notes (since 2002):

  • All four home teams are favored by 4 or more points, last time that happened was 2014, home teams went 3-1 SU but just 1-3 ATS
  • Saturday divisional games – home teams 28-6 SU, 20-14 ATS and the over is 23-11; the Patriots have had 8 of those games – 8-0 SU, 5-3 ATS and over is 7-1
  • Sunday divisional games – home teams just 18-16 SU, 10-23-1 ATS and the over is 14-20; the Pats are 2-1/2-1/2-1 on Sunday’s at home
  • Home teams have swept the four games but never finished 4-0 ATS
  • All four games have gone over the total twice but never under the total
  • The “pick the winner” system in the playoffs breaks down as 16 times a SU winner has failed to cover; wildcard round just 4 times has the SU winner failed to cover or push the spread

My playoff rules (you know the ones I didn’t bother following last week) can be read them here.

The back of Colin’s player card:

 

Note: Lines are courtesy of 5dimes.eu

Colts @ Chiefs (-5.5, 57)

Hmm, let’s see we have a quarterback making his first playoff start and a coach who is well known for playoff failure. Uh, ok, count me in!

There is this theory about dome team failure when going on the road playing a non-dome team due to the dome team being “soft.” The numbers do back that up to some extent – in 28 instances, dome teams 7-21 SU, 10-18 ATS and 10-18 to the Over. Compare that with instances of non-dome road teams – 115 instances, 50-65 SU, 66-45-4 ATS, 58-56-1 to the Over. As a potential Colts backer this had me curious – like am I on the wrong side – until I looked over the 28 instances. The Texans appeared 3 times, at Ravens and twice at Patriots, average line was Texans +11. Maybe not as much being soft as just simply not as good. The Cardinals also appeared three times, once with Ryan Lindley starting a playoff and the other with Palmer/Arians playoff duo. The Falcons/Saints combine for nine appearances, with a combined record of 2-7, I guess Matty Ice and Breezy might be a little soft. But the meat on the bone of this “theory” is the Colts, nine times they have played outdoors in the playoffs since 2002 but have been favored in just one game compiling a 3-6 record. Then it donned on me where this theory started, I am sure this is some moron “chowd” fan who based this entire theory on the 2003/2004 games between the Manning-led Colts and the tough as nails, Brady-led Patriots. Those two games earned Manning the reputation as a playoff choker and the Colts as soft because they play in a dome.

Fair enough, though I witnessed the Colts on the road at night in a must-win game in an open-air stadium open a can of whoop-ass on the Titans. Just saying not sure “soft” is how I would describe this Colts team. Yeah, so “chowd” take dumbass theory and stick down Southie where the sun don’t shine.

That weak sauce theory is not enough to overcome the first-time QB and “shaky” coach. Just picture that stadium if the Colts receive the opening kickoff, go 10 plays and go up 7-0, that stadium and sideline will be TIGHT!

Chiefs 34 Colts 31

 

Prop Bets:

 

  • Marlon Mack Over 74.5 Rushing Yards (-114)
  • Longest Completion by Patrick Mahomes Over 44.5 (-110)
  • Longest Reception by Tyreek Hill Over 32.5 (-110)
  • Chester Rogers Over 29.5 Receiving Yards (-114)

Cowboys @ Rams (-7, 49.5)

 

Here is the deal with the Rams – it all comes down to Goff as I have no doubt the Rams defense will be ready to play as will the offensive line and the skill positions. The Rams are the better team on all levels except at linebacker, but that doesn’t matter if Goff looks like he did the last five weeks of this season and in the playoff game last year – against Falcons, the defense forced two punts out of the box, but Goff could not capitalize on great field position, then Pharaoh Cooper happened. Next thing you know 10-0 Falcons and Goff had the “Peyton Manning face.” Unfortunately, I have zero confidence in Goff, meaning I am willing pay to see him prove me wrong.

Rams 24 Cowboys 20

 

Prop Bets:

 

  • Todd Gurley Over 38.5 Receiving Yards (+100)
  • Todd Gurley Under 87.5 Rushing Yards (-114)
  • Michael Gallup scores a TD (+200)
  • Gerald Everett scores a TD (+380)
  • Gerald Everett over 2.5 receptions (-135)
  • Gerald Everett over 25.5 receiving yards (-115)

Chargers @ Patriots (-4, 47.5)

BREAKING NEWS: Rob Gronkowski told the world today that playoff Brady is “hyper focused, because he knows if you lose you go home!” I am sure the ESPN cannot wait to pair him with Jason Witten next year for Monday nights.

Did you get that – “next year?” Yep, everyone wave bye-bye to Gronk, this is his last NFL game! In fact, anyone remember the 1998-99 Chicago Bulls? The Bulls finished off the Jazz for their second three-peat in eight years that season, then everyone left in the off-season – Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Jackson. That’s the Pats except without the title and the affectionate hugs for each other. Belichick, Brady, Gronk all gone next year. Thank you, Chargers, you have done America a major service. We should give them a Purple Heart or something.

Chargers 23 Patriots 17

Prop Bets:

 

  • James White Over 44.5 Receiving Yards (+120)
  • Sony Michel Over 66.5 Rushing Yards (-110)
  • Rob Gronkowski Under 49.5 Receiving Yards (-130)

Eagles @ Saints (-8, 51.5)

Remember last year when everyone in America was waiting for Nick Foles to have that clunker you knew was coming? Me too, well it did happen but Matty Ice’s red zone woes and the WWE decision to ignore the pass interference when Jaylen Mills pushed Julio Jones to the ground, then tried to hump him while he was down – yeah, nothing to see here – just deciding a game is all. This miracle ride is O V E R and it ends with an ugly beating in the Superdome. Look thanks Eagles for beating the Pats, for that reason, the 2017 team will have special spot in the hearts of most Americans but now you are in over your heads, and the inevitable blowout loss is coming.

I have noticed a lot of people like the Eagles this week, the most common reason – “the Eagles have revenge on their minds in the re-match!” Oh Lord, of course, a city like Philly has been brought up to think all re-matches of a previous one-sided match will fall their way. Look Eagles fans, I hate to break it to you but if the Rocky movies remotely resembled reality, Clubber Lang would have beaten Rocko worse in the second fight. In fact, if we sat two operators using CompuBox to track the first fight between Lang and Balboa and the second as well, I think you be surprised that Rocky took twice the beating in the re-match but he didn’t go down and at least he “wasn’t breathing heavy. . .”

But I was curious about these re-matches and maybe a couple of these Eagles backers were onto something. I ran two queries – both queries had criteria of previous matchup in the same season, non-division game and at the same site; the first query was where the home team won by 21 or more points, or in layman’s terms – a curb stomp; and the second query the home team won by double digits, or in layman’s terms – a good swift ass kicking. The results for the first query, 9-0 SU/4-5 ATS but an average margin of victory of 10.6 points (that’ll do). The second query presented an opportunity on Eagles – 16-4 SU/7-12-1 ATS, average margin of victory just 6.8 points. Hmm, I needed a third query, a scenario where the previous matchup was a 40+ point win. The third query results are 1-0/1-0 with a margin of victory of . . .

Saints 41 Eagles 20 (21!)

Prop Bets:

 

  • Drew Brees Most Passing Yards in Divisional Round (+500)
  • Ted Ginn Jr Over 49.5 Receiving Yards (+115)
  • Golden Tate Over 39.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
  • Saints -14.5 (+200)

Good luck to all!

 

2018 NFL Playoff Picks – Wildcard Weekend Edition

Here we go NFL playoff time – and for the second consecutive year, Colin’s lifelong favorite team, the Los Angeles Rams, are in the post-season. The Rams goal and Colin’s goal are the same – run the table in the 2018 NFL post-season. Now if I am setting odds on who can run the table, I make Colin a slight favorite to go 11-0 over the Rams going 3-0. Oh man, you are thinking, Colin has lost his mind. Going 3-0 at true coin flip odds is a 12.5% chance of the Rams winning out and rough .05% chance of Colin going 11-0. And we know the Rams will be favored in at least one (divisional), and probably two (Super Bowl) of their games, giving them a bigger advantage. What you don’t know is that I received a visit from an old, crotchety 90 year Colin last week and he bestowed upon me “The Sports Almanac 2000-2030.” With that in hand, I am looking to begin a “Biff Tannen” run through the playoffs.

Let’s start it off with my ranking of the playoff teams, with current Super Bowl odds. For fun I dug around and found a historical team each 2018 NFL playoff most closely resembled. Full disclosure – I am holding a Saints (20-1) and a Texans (25-1) Super Bowl future.

1.New Orleans Saints (+225)

Historical Team: 2009 New Orleans Saints. This all about the lack of respect they are receiving heading into the playoffs – and not the eerie voodoo magic that the 2018 Saints and 2009 Saints both finished 13-3 and lost to the same exact teams (Bucs, Panthers and Cowboys). I remember that 2009 season, nobody gave them a chance to win the Super Bowl, despite being the #1 seed in the NFC. Everyone was in love the Cardinals and the Vikings that year. Sure, after dispatching the Cardinals and retiring Kurt Warner, they needed more voodoo magic to beat the Vikings and then needed “Hank Baskett” to happen to win the Super Bowl, but they got it done. They will be an incredibly tough out again and remember in current the “WWE” version of the NFL, everything is scripted – Brees v. Brady with Brees getting his second sounds like a winner.

2.Baltimore Ravens (+1600)

Historical Team: 2001 New England Patriots. Remember the 2001 Rams or the “greatest show on turf;” remember the 2001 Raiders, a team that set a bunch of offensive records. Probably not much, right? Because the Pats rode a terrific defense, great running game and moderately efficient passing game to a Super Bowl title. Sounds like the 2018 Ravens to me. Their toughest game will be this week with the Chargers. Get by that and we might see Lamar Jackson hoisting the MVP trophy after throwing for a Brady-esque 132 yards. After the week 16 game against the Chargers, I texted a friend, “Shh, I think this Ravens team is going to win the Super Bowl.” The “shh” part was hoping no one else would draw that same conclusion and the odds would remain in the +4000 range.

3.Chicago Bears (+1000)

Historical Team: 2003 Carolina Panthers. The 2003 Panthers team blew out an over-matched NFC East wild-card team (check), exposed a fraudulent Rams team in the Ed Dome (check) and completely shut down the Eagles in the NFC title game. Look there is no question the Bears can get to the NFC title game, but there it gets dicey, not sure they can beat the Saints in New Orleans. But I will say they have personnel to pull it off and they are a very dangerous team.

4.Kansas City Chiefs (+475)

Historical Team: 2001 St. Louis Rams. As good as this Chiefs offense is, don’t you feel like this team is going to fall a little short? Just like that 2001 Rams team. And just like that 2001 Rams, the Chiefs have a coach who doesn’t give two craps about anything but offense and that includes clock management, defense, special teams, game management, etc. That is going to get you beat in the playoffs, despite having superior talent. Furthermore, Mahomes has looked human at the end of close games, save for the answered prayer pass to Tyreek Hill against the Ravens, I go into playoffs with zero confidence he can lead a 4th quarter game winning drive. As it normally does, the NFL down to matchups, if the Chiefs get the Colts/Pats/Rams, they could win the Super Bowl. But if they end up with the Ravens in the divisional round, it’s one and done for them.

5.New England Patriots (+600)

Historical Team: 1992 Buffalo Bills. Besides the obvious “just fking go away already” parallels, that 1992 Bills team caught every break on their way to another royal ass beating in the Super Bowl. At what point does the NFL intervene and re-align the divisions so the Pats have some competition? I mean the AFC East is like the old BIG 8 after Oklahoma got hit with probation, Nebraska and the seven dwarfs. And what do we have? An inferior team that very well could have two home games to get to the Super Bowl. To be honest, when I was evaluating the playoff teams for a hedging opportunity, I threw the Pats out as a team to consider. Just like I did the 1992 Bills. I think this Pats team is done. Mark it down – your read it here first – Pats will not win the AFC East next year!

6.Los Angeles Rams (+600)

Historical Team: 2001 Chicago Bears. I am sure you don’t remember that 2001 Bears, in fact nobody does because despite posting a 13-3 regular season record, no one took them seriously. Sure enough the 2001 Bears were one and done with a 14 point loss in the divisional round. Again, the Rams are my team and while I admit I am a pessimistic fan, this team has some serious problems, most notably at QB. After watching Jared Goff mis-fire for the last month, I have returned to my pre-season feeling that the Rams “missed a spot” when putting together the talent laden, high priced roster and that spot was at quarterback. Prove me wrong – JaGoff! I also threw the Rams out of hedging, as I strongly believe they are one and done.

7.Los Angeles Chargers (+600)

Historical Team: 2014 Cincinnati Bengals. The 2014 Bengals were 8-3-1 heading into December, holding a 1.5 game lead over the Steelers, they preceded to lose twice to the Steelers, thus fumbling away the division and putting them into a horrible wild-card weekend matchup with the Colts. Buh-bye. I strongly considered adding a Chargers future, but the matchup with the Ravens is so grossly bad that I cannot see them getting out of wildcard weekend.

8.Dallas Cowboys (+3000)

Historical Team: 2015 Minnesota Vikings. I personally think the Cowboys can win this weekend, unlike the 2015 Vikings, but the parallels between the teams are striking. Play great defense and play a bunch of close games. When those close games break their way, they get win a division, but no one really takes them seriously as evidence by the 30-1 odds. Dak simply cannot do enough to make a deep playoff run.

9.Seattle Seahawks (+3000)

Historical Team: 2012 Indianapolis Colts. Much like the 2012 Colts, the Seahawks got off to a rough start (4-5) and had a division rival run away with the division early, relegating the Hawks to playing for a wild-card. They will be a tough out, but like the 2012 Colts team, no way they win three road games and then beat the AFC team in the Super Bowl – too many flaws, including the fatal flaw of being a terrible road team.

10.Indianapolis Colts (+2800)

Historical Team: 1994 Green Bay Packers. There is a lot to like about this Colts going forward – Luck is back, very good coach and a young fast, super aggressive defense

11.Philadelphia Eagles (+3500)

Historical Team: 2000 St. Louis Rams. Let’s be honest this Eagles got lucky to be in the playoffs, just like that 2000 Rams team. And just like that Rams team, the mediots are pumping the Eagles like a true threat to run the table. Well, let’s remember what to that 2000 Rams team. They got owned for three quarters by the upstart Saints team lead by second year quarterback Aaron Brooks and an above average defense. If not for a future HOFer playing quarterback, there is no doubt they would have lost that game by three touchdowns. But Kurt Warner lead the Rams back to within three and the sad-sack Rams defense forced a punt late in the 4th quarter. Here we go, the Rams are heading to New York to play a horribly, over-rated Giants team. Of course, it was at that point that “Az Hakim” happened, who fumbled the punt and the game away. Ironically, the Eagles were the benefactors of another Rams fumbled punt in their week 15 matchup. As a Rams fan, I would to see the Eagles in the NFC championship, that tells you how much I think of them.

12.Houston Texans (+2800)

Historical Team: 2008 Miami Dolphins. I could have picked either of those fraudulent Dolphins division champs (2000, 2008). There was no bigger fan of Dolphins those years than the Ravens, likewise the is no bigger fan of the Texans this year than the Colts. And if the Texans were able to beat the Colts, the Pats will be not only giddy, but relieved to get essentially another bye week in the divisional round. Zero chance.

Geaux Saints!

Some wildcard weekend notes:

  • This year marks the third straight year that all four home teams (higher seeds) are favored. The home teams are 6-2 SU and 4-4 ATS.
  • Since 2013, home teams are just 10-10 SU and 8-10-2 ATS.
  • Since 2002, home teams giving less than 3 points are just 2-6 SU and a dreadful 0-7-1 ATS. Cowboys, Texans and Ravens fall into that category this weekend.
  • Since 2002, home teams are 36-28 SU and 29-32-3 ATS

I compiled a list of playoffs rules that I use as a guide for making my “holy grail” run to 11-0, you can read them here.

The back of Colin’s player card:

Note: Lines are courtesy of 5dimes.eu

Colts @ Texans (-1.5, 48.5)

This seems like the easiest game of the week – Indianapolis all day. My main concerns are 1. Luck throwing a ridiculous interception that turns momentum to the Texans; and 2. The fact the world seems to be on the Texans, and the only thing worse than being on the side of the public is being on the side of the public underdog.

I cannot do much about #2 above, the heart wants what the heart wants. As for #1, I witnessed a horrible Luck turnover, which was returned for 6 and put the Titans right back in the game. They still throttled the Titans.

Colts 31 Texans 27

Seahawks @ Cowboys (-2.5, 43.5)

Here we have mirror image teams. What is the difference? For starters, the Cowboys are at home. Their defensive front seven should eat all day against a very mediocre Seattle offensive line and they will be able to move the ball on the ground themselves. Biggest concern is Russell Wilson doing, well, Russell Wilson things. Yeah, that could be the difference, and I am giving up the coaching matchup as well, but I will gamble the Cowboys linebackers are fast enough to keep Russ contained.

Cowboys 24 Seahawks 16

Chargers @ Ravens (-3, 41.5)

I really like this Chargers team and I feel like if these two teams were on opposite sides of the bracket, they very well could meet in the Super Bowl. But unfortunately for the Chargers the draw this terrible matchup against the Ravens. The Ravens will have success running the ball and will harass Phillip all day. While I think this game will be close, I can easily see it getting out of -hand in favor of the Ravens.

Ravens 23 Chargers 13

Eagles @ Bears (-6.5, 41.5)

Props to HBO for re-running the entire series of the Sopranos over the next week. I plan to record all episodes and plow through them over the next month (get ready for a barrage of Pauly Walnuts comments). I remember the last episode of the Sopranos like it was yesterday – fade to black it was gone, forever – the next day I was moderately depressed about not having the show in my life. It’s been long enough where many of the episodes will seem brand new, so it’s like I get to watch the most amazing show ever as though I have never seen it before. That is awesome!

You know what else has been missing, albeit for only a year, and will great to have back – pessimistic Eagles fans, bitching and moaning about their team. It’s like hitting a daily double next week – Sopranos and miserable Eagles fans all back in the same week.

Bears 27 Eagles 10

Good luck to all!

2018 Week 16 NFL Predictions – Fantasy Football Super Bowl Edition

Sweet, we have finally reached the best week of the year – Fantasy Football Super Bowl week. It’s the only fantasy week of the year where work slows down enough that “stealing” company time to manage fantasy is not needed. For me personally this week represented the week I could exhale with the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to play the Grinch, or the anti-Santa by pulling presents Christmas Eve to return because I knew I was about to come into some extra cash. Those presents stayed put! Good luck to all those playing this week.

Here are my official week 16 NFL picks to lay the foundation for my fantasy picks. Week 14 was exemplary (11-5); Week 15 not so much (7-9).

SuperContest

Plays (5 best plays of the week):

Ravens (+4) at Chargers – I love living in age where people’s attention span is equivalent to the time it takes to complete a “regular” bowel movement. For example, this week the Chargers are darlings of the NFL, now every “expert” is labeling them the as the “team to beat.” Not sure I get the love? I mean sure they have mounted two amazing comebacks over good teams in the last three weeks – both in primetime, which always adds to the “recency bias.” But if we dig deeper on those three games, we find the Steelers had them down 16 at half, in third quarter the Chargers were benefactors of a tipped pass touchdown and a punt return touchdown with two uncalled clips (Oh man, NFL refs have had a bad year). BOOM, tie game. Granted they took care of business to close out a win but still they were bad enough to be down double digits and needed some breaks to get back in the game. The middle game was a “mail in” spot against the Bengals, which the Chargers did. The Chiefs game was filled with good fortune as well, including the PI in the end zone on 4th down and the non-OPI in the end zone on the touchdown. Given that – four points seems like gift and I will back a rookie on the road in a must-win game for the Ravens. Pick: Ravens +4

Falcons (-3) at Panthers – Hmm, I’ve been asking myself this question – does laying points on the road with this Falcons seems a good idea? No, no it’s not. But here is deal the Panthers are on a short week after seeing their playoff hopes dashed on Monday night by the Saints. Furthermore, the Panthers defense sold out to win that game, not sure they show up this week. I mean what is the difference between 6-10 and 8-8 for a team that was 6-2. The Falcons will show up in this spot in attempt to gain some momentum heading into 2019 as well as fool their fans into thinking 2019 will be the year. In terms of fantasy, I would be very concerned about Christian McCaffery this week, thinking they might limit his work. Plus, without one-armed Newton checking down to him every play, his receptions will suffer. Holding my nose . . . Pick: Falcons -3.5

Broncos (-3) at Raiders – The Donks were eliminated with that “crap the bed” effort against the Browns. Teams that are eliminated from the playoffs in week 15 and go on the road to face a division opponent in week 16 are like 2-95 against the spread. That’s probably not true, but you get the point. Pick: Raiders +3

Rams (-14) at Cardinals – The books have clearly not paid attention over the last three weeks. What is there to like about this Rams team right now? Answer: Absolutely nothing! They have two players right now – Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley. Take those two players away and this team is the “same old sorry ass Rams of the 90s or aughts or 10s!” (Good Lord this is a horrible franchise.)  The Rams offensive line is horrible, meaning teams with a pulse of a pass rush can put pressure with four guys. The Cardinal can rush the passer a bit. On defense, the Rams linebacking core might be the worst set of linebackers in NFL history. All you need to do is block the front four and Corey Littleton will run himself out of every play. David Johnson will eat and eat a ton this week. Picture the faces of Rams fans at halftime when the Cardinals are leading by 7 (think deer in the headlights). Pick: Cardinals +14

Bengals (+9.5) at Browns – Can you imagine waking from a 16 week nap and seeing the Browns -9.5 over the Bengals? Would you even bother asking what happened this season to lead to that spread before running the book, while trampling over other bettors to get down on this game? Nope, I wouldn’t have asked and I would run over my 99 year grandma to get down on the Bengals (not really). Pick: Bengals +9.5

The rest:

Chiefs (-2.5) at Seahawks – No doubt Patrick Mahomes will feast on that soft-ass Seattle secondary, but keep in mind a couple things about this game. First, the Seahawks can run the ball and control the clock, the Chiefs cannot stop the run. That will shorten this game and keep the Chiefs offensive possession to a minimum; and second, the NFL always sends their most incompetent refs to Seattle for primetime games, thus giving the that buffoon Goodell full control over the out-come. Everyone remembers 2013 Royal Rumble in Phoenix, right? Look I don’t care how dominate CM Punk was in that match, The Rock was getting the WWE title that night. The only difference between the NFL and WWE is the players think the NFL is real. Pick: Seahawks +2.5

Redskins (+10.5) at Titans – Wouldn’t this be so Titans to blow this game and miss the playoffs. Tell me I am wrong Titans fan! At the very best for the Titans, they win by a touchdown in a game they are clearly caught looking ahead to the massive week 17 matchup with the Colts. Pick: Redskins +10.5

Bills (+13.5) at Patriots – Have you heard the news – Tom Brady is done, the Pats dynasty is over . . . Pick: Patriots -13.5

Jaguars (+4) at Dolphins – The Dolphins can still win the division! Beat the Jags and the Bills in Buffalo and then they just need the Pats to lose to the Bills and Jets in Foxboro. So, let’s picture the scene in Miami – 1PM – 20K in the stands, all riled up to motivate the Phins to the playoffs; 1:30PM Scorecard reads Pats 21 Bills 0, 20K fans exit stadium because “this is south Florida, we have options on how we spend our Sundays.” Dolphins exit playoff talk 2.5 hours later. Pick: Jaguars +4

Buccaneers (+7.5) at Cowboys – This Bucs team is feisty, and the Cowboys really cannot be trusted to cover more than a touchdown. The best part of handicapping the NFL is the multiple buy low opportunities . . . Pick: Cowboys -7.5

Giants (+9.5) at Colts – Remember the comment about “buy low” opportunities in this league? Yeah, there are also multiple “sell high” opps . . . Pick: Giants +9.5

Bears (+4) at 49ers – As a life-long Rams fan, I love what this 49ers team is doing right now. They are the vintage Joe Bugel Cardinals (for those old school Cardinals fans) or the more modern version of the Norv Turner Chargers. Once eliminated they play their best football, leaving their fans excited about next year, but also convincing the front office keep the core of the roster intact. “If only we had Jimmy G for the entire year!” They are like the fantasy guy who goes off in the playoffs after finishing 1-11 and keeps coming back donating money. Pick: 49ers +4

Vikings (-6) at Lions – Here is the classic “let’s give our fans some hope for next year, while destroying a hated rival’s season game.” Look Matt Patricia, despite being less likeable version of Belichick, has produced a couple huge home wins this year – New England and Green Bay – maybe he can get another one. And is unlikeable at Matty P is, he is infinitely more tolerable than Mike Zimmer, the red-ass who looks like he never laughs and goes 150% in a game of Corn Hole. Though you have to give Zim some credit as it appears he made the right call in firing of OC John Defilippo. Either that or it was a flat as hell Dolphins team coming off their biggest win of the season. Yeah, probably the latter. Pick: Lions +6

Packers (-3) at Jets – I need the Jets to win out to PUSH an over 6 wins play. Can I get there? Not likely, but the first part seemed like at least a coin-flip shot, until that selfish prick Rodgers decided he would play. I am guessing his decision was mostly based on the weather forecast that called for mild temps with little to no wind. Good conditions Mr. All about me to put up season-stat padding numbers. Pick: Packers -3

The coin flips:

Texans (+1.5) at Eagles – I have no idea how this game will play out. On one hand you have a Texans team loaded with talent but under coached and extremely lucky to have 10 wins. On the other hand you have an Eagles team left on the side of the road for dead but somehow resurrected themselves for one game and is now considered a “Super Bowl” contender with Nick Foles back at the helm. Let’s pump the brakes for a minute, the win last week was less about the Eagles and more about that shitshow the Rams put on the field, which was an embarrassment to football at any level. Ok, so the Texans, fighting for the division, are the obvious pick here, right? No, if there is a team in the 2018 NFL that would blow a seemingly insurmountable division lead, it’s the Texans. I could on and on and back and forth with angles for this, but it literally is a coin flip game. Heads, Texans, tails, Eagles . . . Pick: Texans +1.5

Steelers (+5.5) at Saints – The Steelers will be in full desperation mode here if the Ravens find a way to win in LA (not out of the question). Couple that with the Saints on a short week, with the #1 seed all but locked and this game will be tight. Plus in case you haven’t been watching the Saints offense has looked about as bad as the Rams the last three weeks. The big difference is the Saints have several playmakers on defense, the Rams have one. Pick: Steelers +5.5

SFL Super Bowl Pick:

Ragin Asian (-7.5) vs. Weekend Warriors

We’re going with an old school break it down, position by position:

QB:

Mahomes (WW) v. Mayfield (RA) – As mentioned above, I believe Mahomes will feast on the Seahawks secondary giving him a clear advantage in this matchup. As we all know every team in the NFL has talent and the margin between winning and losing is razor thin, therefore, I think the Bengals will be motivated after Mayfield’s antics in the Browns blowout win in Cincinnati earlier in the year, plus they must feel a little slighted about the line. WW is going to need to lay the hammer down in this matchup, creating an advantage that will be hard to overcome. To do that, Mahomes will need 35+ and Mayfield will need a poor. Unfortunately, I do not see that happening and I am going to call this matchup close as I think the Seahawks will own time of possession and keep Mahomes off the field. Pick: Weekend Warriors 29.0-17.5

RB:

Mixon, Henry, C. Thompson (WW) v. Barkley, Chubb, Cook, Ingram (RA) – If RA is going to take home the championship belt, this is where the game will be won. All four RA backs will post solid numbers, RA will need one of them to be spectacular; Barkley is the most likely as home run hitter amongst this group; plus I expect a slight letdown from the Colts defense; the Vikings have a renewed commitment to the run that gives Cook a shot to go all “Derrick Henry” this week. Speaking of Derrick Henry, him and Mixon have all the makings of a massive flop this week as both have tough run d matchups. Plus, considering 50% of the career fantasy points Henry has scored have in the last two weeks, a regression to the mean is in order. Of course, Henry might just be on one of those runs, Lord knows he has fresh legs. Thompson is an interesting start here (based on the lineup I would submit), as he is likely to get more involved in a game where the Skins figure to be playing from behind. Any way you toss match-up, it’s a lop-sided number for RA. Pick: Ragin Asian 78.0-33.5

WR:

K. Allen, Hopkins, R. Anderson, Crowder (WW) v. C. Davis, Landry, Smith-Schuster (RA) – RA starting the “poo-poo” platter of WR that doesn’t scare anyone this week. On the flipside, there are big concerns for WW as to Keenan Allen’s health, and even if he plays he has a tough matchup against the exceptional Ravens corners; WW really needs Hopkins to go off, which actually might happen as he has an already weak Eagles secondary but a spot where I can see the Eagles defense to be flat. Anderson has a good matchup and no worrisome weather. The question is can WW make up for the difference in the running backs. The answer – not enough. Pick: Weekend Warriors 60.0-35.5

TE:

Engram (WW) v. Brate (RA) – I am not a fan of Brate this week against the Cowboys, terrible matchup for him and he is coming off a career game – see “Regression to the Mean” Wikipedia page. Engram has an equally bad matchup against the Colts. You know what – who cares, this game will not be decided by the tight ends. Pick: Push 2.5-2.5

K:

Tucker (WW) v. Gostkowski (RA) – Tucker has better kicking conditions, plus he will probably be “geeked up” playing in a soccer stadium, another who cares matchup. Pick: Weekend Warriors 10.1-8.7

Final prediction: Too much firepower for Asian this week and he hoists the trophy for the first time – 142.2 to 135.1

Colin’s Picks:

If you remember this from week 14: Colin’s Picks: 1 unit on The GSW Rule (+575) and .5 unit on Weekend Warriors (+1500). I am sitting on +6.5 units if the Weekend Warriors win the title this week. I put the Ragin’ Asian money line at about -300, as much I as want to let it ride, I can lock in profit and I am pretty confident this an uphill battle for WW. Therefore, I will play 6 units on RA at -300, locking in a measly .5 unit for profit either way. A win is win!

And despite my 7.1 prediction that would lead one to believe WW is the play, I will take Ragin Asian and lay the 7.5, too many questions for WW and too much explosive ability for RA – Pick: Ragin Asian -7.5

Props to Ragin Asian for winning the 2018 SFL Title*

*won title after the Master of FF retired

SFL 3rd place pick:

Freshman 15 vs. Sidewinders (-13.8)

Any time you have a third-place game the normal question is motivation – who is motivated to play a meaningless game? Well, this I can tell you this third place game carries a prize for the victor and a huge can of “jackshit nothing” for the loser. On paper this game is not close – F15 (Newton, L. Miller, J. Gordon all likely out) has very little to be excited about this week, while Sidewinders is loaded with “something to prove” players (Gurley, Watson, Thielen). Not. Going. To. Be. Close. Pick: Sidewinders -13.8

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and best of luck this week!

2018 Week 14 NFL Predictions – Fantasy Football Playoffs Quarterfinals Edition

Greetings, Fantasy Footballers! Colin Wynner here to add some levity to the most stressful time of the year. And no, it’s not the stress form the holidays, it’s from the fantasy playoffs! Yes, that is a fact, right now those involved in fantasy playoffs are not worried about what gift to get their significant other but rather are spending inordinate amounts of time pondering the following questions: can Patrick Mahomes keep up his amazing season?; will Saquon Barkley hit the rookie wall?; and what is the weather forecast for Green Bay and how will that affect Julio Jones and Devante Adams this week?

After hanging up my draft charts for good at the end of the 2017 season, I have been asked at least a dozen times if I missed fantasy football. My response has been a resounding “NO” or maybe a “Hell, NO!” Of course, I have no idea how I will pay my mortgage in January without the influx of fantasy winnings, but still I have not missed the fantasy football or regretted retirement.

Given that, when the commish asked me to put together a fantasy playoff prediction column, I jumped at the chance. See for me, I am feeling as much stress as your typical Coloradoan after visiting the local dispensary; this would be fun. Yet, I had to ask myself how much I really knew about the 2018 fantasy season. Sure I am still watching and engaged in football, but I doubted if I knew detailed stats about any player, other than what is publicized in the media (for example, Mahomes TD passes). For my prep, I challenged myself to the top 20 at each “key” position – QB, RB, WR and TE – and compare that to actual results. Here are my predictions for QB/RB lists:

QB and RB are by far these two easiest positions to “guess” players in the top. Look there are only 32 starting quarterbacks to start with and, as stated above, I still have a vested interest in the NFL. Meaning I know who I have backed on the road and been burnt (looking at you Darnold), who manages games, who has been injured and who is lighting it up. Pretty much the same story for running backs, teams with a primary RB are well known to me and likely in the top 20 due to activity.

Not surprising the numbers look good! I only missed six players and had five bad calls (all in RB, S. Barkley, J. White, M. Ingram, L. Miller and L. McCoy), the worst of which was the omission of S. Barkley. I guess I completely forgot about him, just like the Heisman voters did in 2017. #StillBitter

The biggest surprise to me was just how much L. McCoy has sucked this year. Imagine having McCoy and L. Bell as your first two picks! Did you imagine that? Ok, now clean up the puke!

Here are my WR/TE lists:

Oh boy! Name recognition can only get you so far. Some good calls, like A. Thielen, but these positions featured far more bad to bad AF calls – K. Stills, Fitz, A. Miller, L. Wilson, C. Clay and D. Walker. I think I got confused on B-List comedy actors when I slotted Luke Wilson into the 19th position. I completely forgot that Delanie Walker was out for the season, which shocking considering I lost a few clams when Mike Vrabel decided to give the ball, on a dive play no less, to the now TE for the Titans, Luke Stocker. The game turned on that play and the subsequent refusal to tackle Lamar Miller on a 98-yard TD run. Lamar Miller out ran the entire Titans defense – let that sink in! Oh, and that explains my Lamar Miller top 10 pick above as well.

And what is a NJOKU? If you asked me who Mark Andrews was last week, I would have told you that famous surgeon, who performs the ACL reconstruction for athletes.

Overall, however, I think that exercise made my point rather well, I really have no clue who is performing well fantasy-wise this season as my lists were mainly composed of name recognition, media hype and recency bias.

Ok, with that aside onto the predictions. Here is the criteria I am using to make these fantasy predictions:

  • Matchup – the single biggest factor in fantasy football is the matchup.
  • Team situation – is the team fighting for something? If not, coaches are more likely to pack it in and hand off to a third team RB, than to risk an injury to a multi-year contracted star.
  • Player – both situation and performance to-date. Look we have all seen it – sometimes these guys lay an egg regardless of the matchup. I think back to Adrian Peterson’s rookie season in 2007, raise your hand if AP killed your 2007 fantasy season in week 14 (me):
    • Week 13: 15-116-2; 1-10-0 25.1 FP
    • Week 14: 14-3-0; 0-0-0 .3 FP
    • Week 15: 20-78-2; 1-17-0 22.0 FP
  • My gut – served me well over the course of 25+ FF seasons, sometimes you just feel a guy is due for a stinker or ready to go off.

Before I get to my official predictions, a few disclaimers:

  1. This is for entertainment purposes, so enjoy, don’t take it personal. Fantasy football is like an Apple Pie from Costco, it’s exceptional, so good that most people grab a slice, what is left, if you’re lucky, is a small piece. That small piece is your skill when it comes to fantasy success; the large portion of the pie is random luck that decides most fantasy seasons.
  2. I am using the “dance with the one who brought ya” approach to lineups. By the way, that is great advice to follow, the last thing you want to do is bench your season-long starting quarterback for journeyman like Ryan Mallet in a playoff game. Don’t over-think it, except for . . .
  3. Weather. Bad weather should give an owner serious concern. It’s hard to predict weather tomorrow, let alone three weeks from now, but we all know the bad weather spots. And bad weather affects teams with disappointing teams more than teams fighting for something. Makes sense, right? How eager would you be to get hit in sub-freezing temps with 20 MPH winds just to go from three wins to four?

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business and start with the futures market, the odds to hoist the “Colin Wynner” trophy (isn’t that what leagues do – name the trophy after a retired legend?):

  • Desperados (+175) – That is a big plus that A. Luck got his stinker out of the way in week 13, also, he has three dome games for playoffs; A. Jones and E. Sanders have terrific match-ups the entire playoff season. B. Cooks and S. Diggs have a tough match-ups in week 14, but each has very favorable matchups in weeks 15/16. {Editor’s Note: Horrible news on Sanders, but next man up, Devin Funchess! Odds went from +150 to +175; The Boys to +225 from +250}
  • The Boys (+225) – Top seed but losing Conner is a big loss, and if that turns into a multi-game absence it will be tough to overcome. That said, this team goes as goes A. Kamara and M. Thomas. The matchups are favorable for both, starting with a revenge spot in Tampa this weekend. After that, a tougher matchup awaits in Carolina, but lookout in the Super Bowl if they survive the next weeks as the Saints boys might light up the fantasy scoreboard for 60+ points.
  • The GSW Rule (+575) – Pulling J. Samuels out of the dumpster may prove to be the key move of the playoff season. How the Steelers use him remains to be seen especially considering the comments by Tomlin about “using a committee approach.” Look Tomlin is an amazing leader, which in the NFL gets you 2-3 wins you shouldn’t get, but in terms of game day coaching and game management he makes Marvin Lewis look like Belichick. I am not buying for a second that there will be a committee, Samuels will get most of the touches. How effective he is remains to be seen? GSW did draw the toughest match-up in the first round, meaning their playoff run might be short lived.
  • Sidewinders (+650) – T. Gurley, who almost single-handedly won fantasy owners the title last year, will be the key. Will the Rams limit his activity? Although the Rams are fighting for home field advantage, I am not sure coach McVay cares, he didn’t last year. That could be a concern beyond this weekend, that they limit Gurley’s touches to preserve him for the playoffs. I am not a huge fan of the match-up this week in Chicago, but the thing about Gurley is the receptions, he might get shut down on the ground, but catch 8-100-1. If the Snakes prevail in week 14 they are very dangerous moving forward.
  • Ragin Asian (+1200) – The “fighting Saquon’s” are the ultimate “meh” team in this playoff season. Not much to get excited about in the lineup but any given week this roster could rise up with a 170 and end someone’s season. Though, I doubt they can do that three straight weeks
  • Weekend Warriors (+1500) – The cliché’s for this team are endless – “just give us a chance” and “everyone counted us out but they don’t know the heart of the 19 guys in this locker room” and “survive and advance.” The formula for success is simple – P. Mahomes, K. Allen and D. Hopkins need to put up 75+ points each week, that should get them to 145 or so and make them an extremely tough out.
  • Runnin Rebels (+1800) – After a devastating 2017 Super Bowl loss, RR’s motto was “unfinished business.” They have a chance but the week 14 matchups for his stars are not good – Zeke v,. Eagles and Ertz v. Cowboys. Gronk is a mess but maybe he will step up for the playoffs. Maybe RR can get the league to pass an emergency rule change awarding 10 fantasy points for every brace a player wears during the game – if that happened, Gronk (elbow, knee, ankle and neck) would post a 50+ on his own.
  • Freshman 15 (+3000) – Le’Veon Bell, Le’Veon “effing” Bell! Unless Newton and Kelce have a 2017 Gurley-esque playoff run this season will end without a title and likely without a playoff win. There are enough wildcards at WR to make things interesting and maybe Lamar Miller will break off another 98-yard TD run, but that seems very unlikely to happen three straight weeks.

Colin’s Picks: 1 unit on The GSW Rule and .5 unit on Weekend Warriors

Before I get to the week 14 fantasy matchups here are my NFL picks for the week, which is what I largely used for fantasy projections.

SuperContest Plays (five best plays of the week):

Colts at Texans (-4.5) – this Texans team is living a lie, while the Colts have played much better than expected this season, yeah they laid an egg in J-Ville last week but this is the NFL it happens. I expect max effort from the Colts and again this Texans is highly over-valued right now. Should be an “over” game, so all fantasy players should perform close to expectations. Pick: Colts +4.5

Falcons at Packers (-5.5) – Stick with me here – Aaron Rodgers seems like a dreadful person; I mean his family is estranged, former teammates struggle to find anything good to say about him and his longtime coach, McCarthy, did not have the affection for him that one would think he would. If add that up the sum comes out that he is a self-absorbed prick. Well, I guess all QB (and most WR’s) fall into that category, so let’s say A-Rod is a self-absorbed prick on steroids. Anyway, I think Mr. State Farm has been playing QB to get McCarthy fired, because he didn’t like “Big Mike.” Now that Mikey is gone, expect the best game of the season from the puppet master – “See, it was always McCarthy’s fault!” Oh and it’s going to be 27 degrees on Sunday, that is too cold for a team that wished the season ended last week. Pick: Packers -5.5

Saints (-8) at Bucs– I will take some grief for this pick as this might be the biggest “square” play of the week. And yeah, it is true I hate laying points in the NFL (home tams catching more than a TD are a modest 100-92 since 2002), but I love revenge spots especially when it involves a guy walking around with a perpetual chip on his shoulder, Brees, and a coach, Payton, who loves running up the score to hide his own insecurities. Remember that modest 100-92 mentioned above, change it to a revenge spot (previous meeting was a win) and home teams are a “foreclosure on the horizon” 19-25. Make it 19-26! Pick: Saints -8

Eagles at Cowboys (-3.5) – I hate this Eagles team, I mean really hate them but, in terms of the Cowboys hype, let’s not pull Vince and Jules move here, and as Winston Wolf put it, “start sucking each other’s *(%^#” quite yet on this Cowboys team. There a ton of reasons to fade this Cowboys team – the offense essentially is either hand to Zeke or throw an out to Amari and hope the tackling is the equivalent of a 4th grade pick-up game; the Boys are emotionally spent after four monster wins in a row, Eagles, Falcons, Skins and Saints; did you know the Cowboys are now everyone’s sleeper pick for the Super Bowl?; and finally, it’s still Jason Garrett roaming the sideline for the Cowboys. The defense is legit but I expect a little let down from them, which might be a good thing for Eagles receivers and Carson Wentz. Pick: Eagles +3.5

Rams (-3) at Bears – The best gift I can receive this holiday season would be the Bears at home in the playoffs favored by a 3.5 or more. Oh man, hello early retirement! That said, this is a tough spot for the Rams – who locked up the division last week and are ripe for a letdown. Weather should not be too bad but I expect the Bears to treat this like their Super Bowl, you know because they know what everyone knows – they have ZERO shot at the Super Bowl this year. Quick tip for Bears fans – make sure you get either the NFC North Champs or the NFC Wildcard Winner t-shirt, don’t hold out for something better. Pick: Bears +3

Still like but these games did not quite make the cut:

Ravens at Chiefs (-6.5) – This is the SPOY! Sucker Play Of the Year! As everyone knows with commercialization of fantasy football, information is available to highest degree we have ever witnessed in history. What that means is the books are forced get creative to churn profits, sure they loot on the 10-team $20 parlays that never win, but that doesn’t get the Sportsbook director his giant bonus. So, what do you make of a -6.5 line, that has crossed over a key number of 7? Doesn’t that create an illusion that “sharp” money is moving the line to -6.5. That illusion is then turned into public betting action because everyone wants to be considered a “sharp.” It’s the ultimate mind game. Chiefs roll – the idea that this Ravens defense is good enough to keep it close is a fallacy. Pick: Chiefs -6.5

Jags at Titans (-4.0) – Think about the Jags season, opened 3-1, essentially anointed as the AFC champs, seven games later they are 3-8 and done. Life comes at you fast when Blake Bortles is your quarterback. And they fit the mold of “out of contention” teams in the last quarter of the season – play tough at home against a division opponent. The other games – road and non-division are mailed in. Oh, and I did mention I hate the Titans and their moron coach. I guess the NFL thinks anyone who touched the cape of Belichick can coach. Still this is a great spot for the Titans. – Titans -4.0

Patriots (-7.5) at Dolphins – See the Bears, this is the Super Bowl for a team with ZERO shot, that team being the Patriots, just making sure you were paying attention. The Dolphins seem to be stuck in perpetual mediocrity, like the movie Groundhog Day, they are just good enough to not get a high draft but not good enough to win something. Beware of K. Drake this week, had one of his biggest games last year against the Pats. – Dolphins +7.5

The “WTF are they doing giving points to anyone?” games:

Jets at Bills (-3.5) & Giants (-3.5) at Redskins – Have to take the points in both games here. I really don’t care if Gary Sanchez (the Yankees strikeout machine catcher) is playing quarterback for the Skins, Eli Manning giving points on the road is free money. Jets +3.5; Redskins +3.5

Lions (-2.5) at Cardinals – Yep, two things I love doing backing Matty Stafford as a road favorite and getting stomped in the balls. Cardinals +2.5

Games I wouldn’t bet with your money (hey wait, I still have a fair amount of “your” money!):

Panthers (-2) at Browns – This Browns team is frisky, well at least they were until last week when they laid an egg in Houston. I guess that is what you get with a rookie QB, inconsistent play. I bet Mayfield is longing for the quarterback friendly Sooner offense and the soft AF Big 12 defenses! Quick tip from Colin – if you want to make some money in 2019 – find out the starting quarterback for the Sooners next season and pound his Heisman futures. That is a virtual lock as Heisman voters are a collection of “Shallow Hal’s,” caring more about physical appearance than substance. As long as the BIG12 plays defense like they have for the last 10 years, the quarterback of the best team in the BIG12 put up numbers that will make Heisman voters drool, even if those numbers have a terrible personality, are selfish and have a steaming case of herpes. Good luck with that. #StillBitterTour2018 Wait, what game was I picking prior to the rant – oh yeah, the Panthers have big problems. Browns +2

Broncos (-5.5) at 49ers – Yuck, Case Keenum on the road giving 5.5. Did you know – Nick Mullens threw for 414 against the Seahawks last week. Yes, he did. 49ers +5.5, to keep it close.

Vikings at Seahawks (-3) – Did you see some guy named Mullet threw for 414 last week v. the Seahawks? Yes, I did. Have you seen this Vikings defense struggle on the road? Yes, I have. High scoring affair here, but Vikings +3 walk off with an outright win.

The NFL double digit dog system (Home Teams >= 10 points since 2002 = 41-35; Road teams >= 10 points since 2002 = 191-218).

Bengals at Chargers (-14) & Steelers (-11) at Raiders – Raiders +11 will keep it close; Bengals (Chargers -14) will not.

Ok, on to what you came here for – the “experts” picks on the fantasy games for week 14, a.k.a. Playoff Round #1:

Week 14 Matchups:

The Boys (-7.8) vs. Weekend Warriors

WW has a punchers chance here but the pressure is all on Mahomes, Allen and Hopkins to go off, the rest of the cast will have a difficult time keeping up with the depth of The Boys. The Chiefs have a supposed tough matchup against the Ravens, though I have seen Cam Newton shred the Ravens defense in the past five weeks. And while the Ravens have played better on defense since that game, their opponents have been the Bengals, Raiders and Falcons. Not exactly murderers row of offenses. I know you are thinking, “wait, the Falcons offense is pretty good.” My response to you would be to read the Atlanta newspaper, rumor has it that Matty Ice’s wife suspected him of cheating on her and wanted him out of out their house but she couldn’t stop him from getting in, so she called the police, who politely gave her the answer, “Ma’am, put an end zone in front of the door.” This number is light at 7.8 but I am taking the points here . . .
Pick: Weekend Warriors +7.8

Deperados (-15.1) vs. Freshman 15

My only concern for Desperados is the WR’s four road matchups, in four outdoor venues, with three of the four in potential bad weather. I really don’t like Cooks this week for a variety of reasons but mainly Jared Goff looks like he spent the bye week pumping iron and the ball felt so much lighter that he overthrew Cooks multiple times. Well, either that he didn’t adjust for the altitude in Detroit.

I hate laying points, absolutely hate it but sometimes you must do it. . .
Pick: Desperados -15.1

Ragin Asian (-3.2) vs. Runnin Rebels

This is the one game this week where I will not be surprised to see a 30+ point margin. Problem is I don’t have a clue which side will win. Maybe I will “please” (opposite of a teaser, where you give 6 points, RA -9.2 and Runnin Rebels -2.8 at 6-1 for two teams) both sides of this and leave an open spot to give me a 3-1 shot down the road. Hmm, if only I could bet on these games.

This is a “gun to my head” pick, and I love those, so gun to my head, I will take the Asian minus the points, simply more explosiveness on that side of the fantasy ledger.

Pick: Ragin Asian -3.2

Sidewinders (-3.1) vs. The GSW Rule

This should be the best game of the weekend, culminating on Monday with a battle of QB v. WR on the same team – Cousins v. Thielen. You can pencil Thielen in for 9 catches, 100 yards, a TD and a couple comments for Peter Carroll. Cousins will need to find TDs to two other receivers to pull out the win. He will, give me the points and a half unit on the underdog money line . . .

Pick: The GSW Rule +3.1 and The GSW Rule +145 money line (.5 unit)

Good luck to all this week – enjoy!