NFL 2012 – Playoff Predictions, “Wildcard Weekend” Edition

Despite a losing record, Colin somehow managed to sneak into the playoffs and is ready for a “Giants-esque” type of run. The Giants of 2007/2011, not the Giants of 2012.  The goal is always the same – 11-0!  Let’s be honest though, an 11-0 romp through the playoffs would be less about my knowledge and almost entirely a function luck.  Look at this week’s lines, they’re tight, offering very little value on any team this weekend.  In situations like that, one should pass, but since I pick every game, every week here, I don’t know the meaning of pass.  But to help reflect my overall feelings about a game, I will give my confidence on each game; I will use the a  “tout trick” and give you a “stars” scale, like “my 100* Game of the Universe”, except I will keep it to 1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars representing a solid play and one star meaning John Anthony just flipped a coin to determine the winner.

Bottom line – I can’t get to 11-0, without a 4-0 start.  Let’s get it started with WILDCARD WEEKEND!

Here is the back of the Colin Wynner, Handicapper player card:

Career Playoff Record (1995-2011): 100-82-5
Wildcard Round: 37-30-1
Divisional Round: 36-30-2
Championship Round: 19-15

Super Bowl: 8-7-2

Playoff Best: 7-3-1 (2001)

Please note that these picks are made based on several years of experience in handicapping the playoff games, in fact I have developed a list of playoff rules to live by that you can read here.

Note: I use the Las Vegas Hilton Lines from vegasinsider.com.

Cincinnati @ Houston (-4.5)

Public Perception: Houston is limping into the playoffs by losing three of their last four games, including the dismantling at the hands of the Patriots four weeks.  Plus, the Texans let the #1 overall seed out of their grasp and are now forced to play Wildcard Weekend.

The Bengals, meanwhile, made playoffs with strong 7-1 2nd half of the season.  It’s a no brainer, right?  The Bengals will march into Houston and lay down the smack.

Teenage girl logic:  OMG, have you seen a Bengal shred a Zebra for their dinner.  Savages, which makes me think the Bengals will shred the Texans the same way.  But what is with the women Bengal having to do all the hunting for the man?  That makes me sick to think about that poor lady having to go on a murdering spree just to keep her family fed, while that deadbeat lays around doing nothing.  No way I can back a team named for such a chauvinistic species.

Trending: Playoff teams playing at home with a losing streak of more than two are 7-3 ATS since 2002.

If the gang from Scooby-Doo captured the 2012 Bengals and unmasked them, they would be: The 1995 Detroit Lions, who finished 7-0 to make the playoffs and were unceremoniously bounced by the Eagles in Philadelphia.

If the gang from Scooby-Doo captured the 2012 Texans and unmasked them, they would be: The 2006 Indianapolis Colts, who limped to the finish line after a 10-1 start had Colts fans talking about home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  The Colts found themselves in the same position as the Texans, having to play on Wildcard weekend.  The Colts survived the injury riddled Chiefs which catapulted them to the Super Bowl title, albeit probably the weakest champ in the history of the NFL.

The Bengals will cover if: They play smart football.  Look after watching this team the last month, they are a dumb team, led by a shaky head coach who seems to lack the ability to reel these guys in.  Whether it’s a bad turnover, a stupid, meaningless penalty or the butchering of clock, the Bengals cannot afford to make mistakes if they have designs on delivery Marvin Lewis a playoff victory.

The Texans will cover if: They show up with the past month in the past.  Or simply if the 10-1 Texans teams shows up.  They need a big play early to get the crowd fully engaged;  the longer they keep the Bengals in the game, the more likely the crowd will begin to expect “bad things” to happen.

Colin Wynner, calls the winner: Here is what I wrote about the Texans prior to the playoff matchup with the Bengals in 2011:

“Initially I loved the Bengals. But that was solely based on the Texans finish to the season; you know the way they lost to the Panthers (somewhat acceptable), Colts (totally unacceptable) and Titans (totally indifferent). But then I thought about the following – a. the Bengals struggled with the hopeless Rams, needed a wide-open receiver to fall down to beat the Cardinals and lost a must-win game at home against the Ravens. And based sheer incompetence of the other teams fighting for a playoff spot the Bengals backed into the playoffs. That’s not exactly a stellar finish to the season; b. The Texans remind me of the 2008 Cardinals, a team that went to the Super Bowl despite losing two of their last three games by a combined 69 points.”

Evoking the “remember history” playoff rule,  I pretty much feel the same way this season.  The late season swoon is more a product of circumstance of the schedule as opposed to exposing this team as a fraud.  The Patriots loss was acceptable, though I will admit the manner in which they lost was really, really bad.  Still that’s what the Pats do, pile it on and embarrass teams.  The Vikings loss came a week after clinching the division, when the Vikings were in full on desperation mode.  The Colts loss in week 17 was Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s first game back from cancer treatment, I think the Colts were slightly motivated. Yeah, they lost three of four but it is fairly easy to see that those were somewhat “acceptable” loses.  Now they “clean the slate” and start over.

Flipping to the Bengals, who exactly did they beat in their 7-1 stretch?  Their best win was probably over the Steelers in Pittsburgh, a game where the Steelers handed the Bengals a pick-6 along with a bad decision to go for the win with less than a minute left in game, rather than head to overtime.  The rest of the wins – Giants (who didn’t beat them this year), Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Eagles and Ravens (week 17, when the Ravens rested their starters).  Not exactly running through the heart of the 1927 Yankees lineup, more like the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks.

Bottom line – if this game were played a month ago, the Texans would be 7 point favorites, 2.5 points is too much of an adjustment considering the facts detailed above.  Houston 27 Cincinnati 17 (3 Stars)

Minnesota @ Green Bay (-7.5)


Public Perception: This will be third meeting in six weeks between these NFC North division rivals, and despite the almost weekly universal public backing of the Packers, it appears as though the Vikings are getting the majority of the early public action.  It might be as simple as the public has fallen in love with Adrian Peterson and the 7.5 feels like stealing money.

Teenage girl logic: When I was a little girl the Packers played in the Super Bowl and my parents drug me to this party where there was a ton of food but nothing good to eat.  Anyway, the highlight of my day was this Packer fan who brought his cheesehead with him to support the Packers.  My parents asked him if I could play with it and when he handed it to me, I was mesmerized by it.  It was very bright orangish/yellowish  color, I tried to pull off a piece because I was hungry.  Hey, I was a toddler, it’s what I did – eat and destroy things !  Well, it created quite a stir with this jack-off Packer fan who went nuts and ripped it out of my hands.  And he scolded me to boot.  Well guess what, Mr. Packer CheeseHead Freak, now I have the power and your beloved team is going to lose this week to my favorite player, Adrian Peterson.  #Packers = #EpicFail

Trending: Playoff teams playing at home laying 7.5 points are just 1-3 ATS since 2003.  Home teams in the third meeting of the season are just 5-9 ATS since 2001.

If the gang from Scooby-Doo captured the 2012 Vikings and unmasked them, they would be: The 2002 NY Giants.  Both teams were left for dead after falling to 6-6 in week 12, both won out to make the playoffs, both were shaky at quarterback (Kerry Collins), both rely heavily on their running game (Tiki Barber), neither had a premier receiver (Amani Toomer) and both lost a key offensive cog in the middle of the year (Ike Hilliard/Percy Harvin).  The 2002 Giants out-played the 49ers in the Wildcard game that year, but botched a snap on the game winning field goal attempt that cost them game.  This was despite the fact that an eligible receiver was literally tackled when releasing on the “FIRE” play.  I think the refs were confused because the eligible receiver had a number like 68 or something, therefore they thought – 1. He was ineligible; 2. he would have caught maybe one out of a hundred passes in practice, so it really did not matter; and 3. the defender was merely playing the ball.  Either way I expect the Vikings to play this game extremely close.

If the gang from Scooby-Doo captured the 2012 Packers and unmasked them, they would be: The 2006 New England Patriots.  The ’06 Pats were maybe the worst Pats team in the Belichick/Brady era, but they came within a Troy Brown dropped pass of playing in the Super Bowl against an over-matched Bears team.  This Packers team is the worst since Aaron Rodgers first season as the starting quarterback.  The defense is average at best, the offense had no real threat of the running game, the receivers are banged up and somewhat ineffective and the offensive line is a liability.  Yet, if they get hot, they could wind up in the Super Bowl.

The Packers will cover if: They render Christian Ponder completely ineffective.  We know the Packers will score some points; we also know that Peterson will get his share of yards, but if Ponder plays like he did in the Vikings first visit to Lambeau, the Packers are easy ATS winners.

The Vikings will cover if: Christian Ponder plays like he did in the season finale against the Packers.

Colin Wynner, calls the winner: I like the Vikings to possibly steal this game.  And yeah, I realize that picking the Vikings violates the “never back a shaky quarterback on the road” rule.  However, let’s be honest, for this game the rule can easily be modified to “never back a shaky quarterback on the road unless over half of the offensive plays involve handing off to Adrian Peterson.”  Plus, it’s a night game, it’s Green Bay, it’s at night – any inclement weather will be an advantage for the team that has Adrian Peterson.

Bottom line – I think the Vikings can win this game (“Don’t pick the dog unless you think they can win”), but I feel very confident that if they don’t they will be within the number.  Green Bay 27 Minnesota 21 (3 Stars)

Indianapolis @ Baltimore (-7.5)

Public Perception: The Ravens certainly haven’t won bettors over this season, in fact most likely the public jumped off them right about the time they hammered the Giants, I know I did (%^$&).  Regardless, my general feeling is that the public (a). loves Andrew Luck , Chuck Pagano and this Colts Cinderella story; and (b). believes seven points is too many for the Ravens to lay against virtually anyone.

Teenage girl logic: The Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, looks a little bit like a descendent of sasquatch, but it’s kind of hot!  His jaw line seems a little too large to be completely human and the neck beard is downright creepy.  Nevertheless, I would totally go out on a date with him.  And I totally see him winning this game.

Trending: Small sample size be damned, but the Colts are 0-2 ATS this season when facing a winning team on the road.

If the gang from Scooby-Doo captured the 2012 Colts and unmasked them, they would be: The 2011 Cincinnati Bengals.  The Bengals came from nowhere last season to make the playoffs with a rookie quarterback and young group of receivers.  They were the media darling upset pick last year during wildcard weekend, yet they shrunk in the  bright  lights of the playoffs.  That’s the 2012 Colts story.

If the gang from Scooby-Doo captured the 2012 Ravens and unmasked them, they would be: The 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers.  I am not going as far as suggesting that the Ravens will run the table and win the Super Bowl, but a guy like Ray Lewis retiring can spark some serious emotion; enough emotion that when coupled with a break or two that can carry a team to the title.  Think back to that Steelers team with the beloved, spiritual leader, Jerome Bettis set to retire, they went on an amazing run that featured huge breaks. They would not have been beaten by the Bengals, if Kimo doesn’t launch himself into Carson Palmer’s knee. They caught two huge breaks against the Colts the following week when Nick Harper ran into the Ben Roethlisberger tackle and then that idiot kicker missed a relative easy field goal at the end of the game.  You just never know we might see the Ravens, probably the worst team of the Ravens during the Harbaugh era, in the Super Bowl.

The Colts will cover if: They jump out to an early lead.  The Colts are built to play from ahead, and though they have had several amazing comebacks this season, most of those came against mentally weak teams like the Lions, Dolphins and Titans.  When the Colts stepped up the competition on the road, they were over-matched and out of the game early.  That cannot happen against the Ravens.

The Ravens will cover if: They utilize their best offensive player, Ray Rice.  For whatever reason the Ravens were hell bent the season on allowing Joe Flacco to throw the ball all over the place, even when it was apparent he was off his game or when the game situation dictated doing otherwise.  This team is built to pick their spots to throw..  Run to setup the pass, play defense and feed off the crowd.  Easy cover if they keep it simple.

Colin Wynner, calls the winner: I don’t believe the Colts can win this game outright, therefore, I would have to ignore the “don’t back an underdog unless you believe they can win the game outright” rule to play and hope that they keep it close or get a backdoor cover at the end of the game.  No thanks!

Bottom line – The Ravens get a huge emotional lift from the return of Ray Lewis, not to mention the emotion they will have knowing this is Lewis’ final season and possibly his final game at home, therefore, there is no way they want him to go out a loser with a disappointing loss at home.  Plus, when the Colts have ventured out against playoff caliber competition, they have been destroyed this season.  Finally, Andrew Luck has been un-impressive over the final month of the season, completing under 50% of pass attempts.  Baltimore 31 Indianapolis 10 (4 Stars)

Seattle (-3.0) @ Washington

Public Perception: The public appears to be slightly favoring the Redskins, which makes sense based on them being a home team underdog.  The public will over-value that fact without giving any thought to the matchup of the two teams.

Teenage girl logic: Wait a second, isn’t Seattle in Washington, how can they be playing Washington?  Does Washington have two teams, one in Seattle and one somewhere else in Washington?  Maybe one is a college team?  If so, then I think they will win because a pro team can beat a college team any day.

Trending: Road favorites in the wildcard round of the playoffs are 5-4-1 ATS.  Not sure that adds a lot of value, other than to dismiss the notion that home underdogs are some golden play.

If the gang from Scooby-Doo captured the 2012 Seahawks and unmasked them, they would be: The 2008 Baltimore Ravens.  The 2008 went on the road as a wildcard team, beating back-to-back division champs on their way to the AFC championship game.  The similarities between the two teams – rookie quarterback, stifling defense, a pounding running game and above average special teams.  Though I can see this Seattle team finishing the season by hoisting the Lombardi.

If the gang from Scooby-Doo captured the 2012 Redskins and unmasked them, they would be: The 2000 Philadelphia Eagles.  Remember nobody gave the Eagles any chance to beat the favored Tampa Bay Buccaneers in that 2000 wildcard game.  It certainly would not shock me if the Redskins won this game.

The Seahawks will cover if: Russell Wilson doesn’t revert to early season Russell Wilson.  As good as Wilson has been, he is still a rookie making a playoff start on the road in a hostile environment  that will likely be ratcheted up ten notches due to the drought of home playoff games for the Redskins.  Trust me, this place will be rocking given the Redskins fans are football crazed with 10 years pent-up frustration and it’s the late Sunday game.  Not that there is ever much productivity in Washington, but don’t expect any on Monday.  The Seahawks need to reduce that crowd to on the verge of passed out drunks early in that game or it’s going to be a long day for them.

The Redskins will cover if: Robert Griffin III is running less like Peter Griffin and  more like the RG III we have grown to love this season.  It was apparent last week that RG III’s leg  was hurting, even though he was able to out-run most of the defenders even with that defective limb.  If he is back close to mid-season, “take off from 76 yards” RG III, he is capable of putting this Redskins team on his back, neutralizing that Seahawks defense and leading the Redskins to an upset.

Colin Wynner, calls the winner: The Seahawks have been the best team in the NFL over the last month.  In terms of “true” power point differential, this is the biggest mis-match of the weekend at 6 points differential (subtracting out the 3 points for home field on the home favorites and adding three to Seattle).

Bottom line – RG III scares me to death, but Seattle isn’t going to let Alfred Morris run for two bills against them, therefore, the game will be on Griffin’s shoulders and I simply don’t see that knee improving that much this week.  Again, he is still faster than most of the NFL, but with the discomfort in the leg, he isn’t as willing to take off running, which enhances Seattle’s dominate defensive advantage. Seattle 23 Washington 14 (2 Stars)

Good luck and enjoy the playoffs!

NFL 2012 – Week 17, “Fantasy Teams, Part II” Edition

Part two of the 2012 fantasy teams, this part is the positive side of fantasy football, better known as the players who showed up this season or the “Anti-Eli Manning,” which also works.

Before I get to the teams, I wanted to take a minute to detail the reasons why I won’t be playing fantasy football next. In my opinion, fantasy football has become a commercialized joke.

In the simplest form, there are two personality types of people in the world – Type A and Type B. Type A personality traits include being overly competitive, goal oriented and achievement-driven. Given those traits, it’s obvious that a Type-A personality would measure success in fantasy football by winning rather than enjoyment. On the flip side, Type-B personalities, “do not mind losing and simply enjoy the playing game.” It’s clear which personality type is better suited playing a random game of luck.

To illustrate this, let’s say a Type-A and Type-B engage in a game of flip the coin. Probability tells us that it is likely that each person in this classic duel we will half of the flips. But let’s say the Type-A person goes on an incredible streak of calling the coin correctly ten consecutive times. Type-B guy is like, “Wow, that is impressive . Well done.” Type-A guy isn’t focused on what has happened, they are focused on continuing the streak. Now we all know, that whether Type-A guy has called the coin correctly 100 times in a row, the next call is 50/50. And if thrown enough, Type-A guy will regress to the mean, with streaks of brilliance mixed in. Each “streak of brilliance” is a killer for Type-A because he knows what can be. Whereas, Type-B, is smiling and enjoying watching the coin do a multiple flips in air.

Moreover, Type-B personalities love fantasy football for what it really is, entertainment. It keeps them interested in the game, after their teams are eliminated from the playoffs. I can imagine a Type-Ber giggling, like child watching Sponge Bob turn himself into various household items, when they sign into the league website on Tuesday morning to find out they won. I also think the Type-B guys put very little into the game like, “oh, shucks I missed free agents again this week” or “oh, my guy is on IR, maybe I should pick up his backup.” It’s the social aspect, not results, that keeps them coming back. They love getting together at the draft, maybe running a bit of smack talk during the season, and maybe, if everything breaks right for them they have a shot at a championship, but if not, “oh well, great season, see you all in August!”

I maintain both Type-A and Type-B people are the same when they start playing fantasy football, but any taste of success will drive the Type-A to reach higher levels of success. Soon, winning a division isn’t an accomplishment unless they win a playoff game, and so on. Remember the coin flip example from above. Once they’ve won ten in row, they want the 11th and if they lose the 11th, the other 10 don’t matter.

And that’s the rub, it’s in a Type-A’s DNA to be hyper-competitive and want to win, but once fantasy football has become essentially a coin flip and the losses mount, the Type-A goes crazy and eventually burns out. That’s when you find them holed up in their house buried under hundreds of fantasy football magazines.

But fantasy football has not always been a “coin flip.” In fact, back in the day (defining day – a time before fantasy football was engorged with zillions of fantasy experts, who actually make a living giving make believe advice for a make believe world), a Type-Aer had a huge advantage over “happy-go-lucky, winning doesn’t matter, just likes being part of something” fantasy player, he could out-work him for players in both the draft and the during the season. Those days are long gone, when every fantasy player has access to a version of the “weekly waiver wire recommendations.” There are no longer players that can be defined as sleepers, because once Matthew Berry announces them as a sleeper, guess what, they are no longer a sleeper. And these “fantasy sites” begin their fantasy football year so early and have so much time to fill, that they literally mention every player who might have a shot a scoring a tenth of a fantasy point in the coming year.

Now it’s a coin flip, essentially a lottery ticket where everyone shows up to the draft with a freshly printed draft cheat sheet that tells them who to draft, when to draft them and when to crack a joke about a guy being drafted to soon. These seasons could literally be played out with auto-draft on, for everyone, and then it’s a matter of avoiding injuries and getting the right mix of guys. A lottery draw!

That randomness is what will ultimately drive all Type-A players out of the game, because they know they have less control. I agree that there is randomness is virtually every facet of our lives and that shouldn’t be any different in fantasy football, but I ask you would you be happy if promotions given out by pulling a name out of a bingo machine? Exactly.

Therefore, the question becomes – can fantasy football be fixed? Can we mitigate the randomness and bring the Type-A back into the fold? Sure, I think it’s possible to fix this mess, while allowing some randomness for the Type-B’s. How? Glad you asked, here are some ideas:

  • Snake drafts should be Audi-5000’d immediately. All drafts should be auction style. Sure, it’s harder but they are far less “fantasy experts” willing to venture into the scary world of auction drafts, so it leaves room for an owner who does their homework, prepares a strategy and budget to have an advantage. An auction draft is a lot harder than crossing names off a list and drafting the next available player. Advantage: Huge to Type-A player
  • With snake drafts out of play, it would be easier to convert each league to a keeper league, with a significant amount of keepers, say five or so. When a player is acquired in the auction, the dollar amount becomes his number and to keep that player the amount rises each year. With that keeper amount rising each year, an owner cannot hang on to a rookie like Doug Martin until they have gone from the equivalent of A-List Vegas escort to waitressing the midnight shift in Laughlin (yeah, it happens that quick). This also opens up a bevy of trading options that otherwise would not be available, since at any point an owner may decide to scrap talent and build for next year. To avoid that getting out of hand, rosters are managed by a cap on player salaries. But those type of deals are what would keep a Type-A player motivated season to season, even in the face of losing. Advantage: Slight Type-A player, only slight because Type-A will likely throw in the towel way to early
  • Something has to be done to mitigate week-to-week randomness, whether it’s what I mentioned in Part I about carry over points or an all roster play or a percentage of bench points getting added to the final score. Putting something like this in play, kills two birds with a sinlge stone, as it will penalize the stagnant owner with a roster full of players on IR, but rewards the owner building the strong roster from top to bottom. Advantage: Slight Type-A player
  • Defensive teams should not be part of any fantasy league ever again. In my leagues where a defense was required this season, I witnessed a game that swung close to 50 points this season. And there were several games where the swing was at least 30 points. That is ridiculously random. There is no other position with that kind of swing, even quarterback if you were forced to start that worthless sack of dog crap Eli Manning. With defensive teams out, I would add in IDP and a return position to the weekly lineup. It works like this – one DL, one LB and one DB starts every week and gets points for defensive things – like forced fumbles, sacks, tackles, penalties,etc. The returner position can be any NFL player, but they only get points for returns, however, all returns are included – interceptions, fumble, punt, kickoff and blocked kicks. This gives an advantage to players willing to do some work, since, not surprisingly, most fantasy experts do not give fantasy advice on IDP. Advantage: Type-A player
  • Finally, I would implement something like the presidential veto where a player can potentially eliminate one of his opponents players score. There was an old Sports Illustrated/Athlon game called Paydirt, where each team had a play sheet with outcomes based on actual statistics from the previous season. One of the rules of the game was, when on defense, you had the ability to “key” on one offensive play. If the offense called that play, the result was an automatc no gain, if they didn’t the offensive outcome was taking with no regard to defensive adjustment. My idea would give owners the opportunity to “key” on one of the opponents player. If that player was the high scorer for your opponent, his score would be reduced by some percentage. But if that player was not the high scorer, points are added to your opponent for that week. Advantage: Wash, Type-B player will forget to use this more often than not, while Type-A player will over think and screw it up more often than not.

Don’t be surprised if I come back after a year off with a radical new league that mirrors the above ideas.

Ok, enough about me, let’s get back to the exciting conclusion of the 2012 fantasy teams.

To start off the “Anti-Eli Manning” side let’s introduce the “All-Rookie” team. This season seemed like there was an unprecedented number of rookies who played a major part in not only their teams success, but also their owners fantasy success.

There is an old fantasy football adage that states, “You can’t win the league with your draft, but you can lose it.” You see, most fantasy football championship are won with a fair amount of free agents comprising the winning lineups. Therefore it makes sense to recognize the top free agents pick-ups of 2012, with the “All-Waiver” team.


And without further ado, here are the “All-Fantasy” teams. These are the creme de la creme of fantasy players for 2012. Beginning with the 2nd team, players who were crazy good, but not quite the top.

And the fantasy superstars – the “All-Fantasy” 1st team:

NFL 2012 – Week 17, “Fantasy Teams, Part I” Edition

My final fantasy season has ended, therefore, it’s time to give out the fantasy “teams” for 2012. This year we have a nice selection of teams from the “Winston Wolf All-Stars” to the “All-Fantasy” teams.

Let get it started with the fantasy players who failed to meet the expectations of their fantasy owners, first up is the “Winston Wolf All-Stars.” These are the players who burst onto the fantasy scene early in the year and had their respective owners delightfully giddy until the curmudgeonly Winston Wolf sternly told said owners, “Let’s not start sucking each other’s %^&@$ quite yet!” Well played, Winston!

The “Eli Manning All-Stars,” aka “Fantasy Busts,” are comprised of the worst of the worst fantasy players in 2012. The criteria for this team is simply – highly drafted, highly depended upon, yet sucked worse than Nebraska’s defense in the Big Ten Championship game.

The “Tony Romo All-Stars are comprised of the fantasy who had otherwise productive fantasy years, but crapped the bed with the playoffs on the line in weeks 11-13.

The “Matty Ice All-Stars” are comprised of fantasy players who had otherwise productive fantasy years, but crapped the bed the first week of the playoffs, just like their namesake, Matt Ryan, seems to do on a annual basis.

The “Buffalo Bills All-Stars” are comprised of the fantasy who led their teams to the Fantasy championship, but then went “wide right” with the Lombardi on the line.

NFL 2012 – Week 16, “Eli Manning Sucks” Edition

Two weeks left in the regular season and yours truly needs a run to get over the Mendoza line. I stand at 107-114-3, meaning I need a 20-12 finish to thumb my nose at the odds makers, who will in turn hand me a hefty “juice” bill, still I win.

The good news is that in my “Contest” picks I am 39-33-3 for a modest profit of 2.7 units. I will take it, though I feel like it should have been a bigger year because (a.) I’ve improved in not only spotting value plays but have also moved away from trying to be consistently on the “Sharp” side. Sharps lose about as much as they win.; (b.) it seemed like an easy year; now maybe that is due to the improvement mentioned above, but most likely it’s simply the bad beats have been evened out by lucky wins. Still I can’t help but feel like I’ve more than a few “I knew better” moments this season; and (c). I spent more time on handicapping, despite a couple of weeks where I was goal to goal soccer, I still managed to do plenty of work.

Winning 20 of the last 32 games is a long shot, but it’s not over, just like it wasn’t over when CJ had Zach on the brink of elimination in Hall Brawl, it wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor and it wasn’t over for my fantasy team when Eli Manning shit his pants in week 15. Let’s get it on.

Special for this week, I’ve added a fantasy predictions for each game called fantasy three stars – where I rank the top three fantasy performers for the game.

You might be wondering why I would bother with a game I despise so much, well I figure that next year I might be able to become a fantasy “expert” since I won’t be playing.

Huh, you ask? How can you give fantasy advice unless you are in like 500 fantasy leagues? Look, the natural tendency for humans is to be biased, either for (all-in) or against (hedge), towards your players, as well as your opponents players. Think about a week like this, championship week for most fantasy leagues, I might be inclined to rank my opponents quarterback much higher than I actual believe as a hedge against myself. If I am wrong, I win my league, at a cost of enduring a few thousand angry tweets from owners who started quarterback “X” because of my recommendation. If I am right, I might lose my fantasy game, but that is a small price to pay for becoming the “fantasy go-to guy”, trust me that will have a payday all its own.

Next year I won’t be playing, so you can be sure to get an unbiased, and more often than not, correct opinion.

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com.

The “Super Contest” Picks

NY Giants (-2.5) over Baltimore – Here is a new drinking game for you and your buddies to try out during this game – every time a quarterback throws a ball off his back foot and recoils like he just got hit in the face with a dead trout, take a drink; every time a quarterback throws a pass that either is intercepted or misses its mark by roughly 10 yards AND has a bewildered look on his face like “how did that happen”, slam a full beer or drink a shot; and every time a quarterback takes a sack without being touched, take a drink. The winner of the game is the person who stays alive AND doesn’t have to have their stomach pumped at the local urgent care.

So, reason #2458 that I will never play fantasy football ever again is my tirade of intellectually challenged tweets directed at Eli Manning last week – the “EFF YOU ELI” type of tweets are not funny, it’s boring and mindless. And that’s where Eli took me last week, past the point of funny, sarcastic tweets like “Ryan Leaf thinks Eli Manning sucks at quarterback!” to the seeing red point where I was so mad that I could only muster several plain, profanity laced tweets to exhibit my clear disgust. It’s just not worth the pain and suffering.

And I am sure you’re asking yourself this question, “Colin, tell us are you not starting Eli this week in your fantasy championship?” Hell yes I am, and not because I don’t have a viable back-up (Sam Bradford would easily give me what I would be willing to accept from Eli – 250-1), but because I want to give Eli the chance to turn my white hot hatred for him around. Plus, he has generally been pretty good when his back is against the wall, oh, he also gets a garbage team in the Ravens, that can’t hurt.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Ahmad Bradshaw, 2. Victor Cruz, 3. Ray Rice

Cleveland (+13.0) over Denver – Prior to last weekend’s humbling at the hands of the Redskins, the Browns had lost by more than 13 just one time this season. So we got that going for the Browns. Plus, aren’t the Broncos due for a stinker? The answer is yes. Now I can’t see the Browns beating the Donkeys in Denver, but I do believe this game will be closer than the odds-makers are predicting.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Knowshon Moreno, 2. Peyton Manning, 3. Denver D

Seattle (+1.0) over San Francisco – Here are three possible reasons why Pete Carroll has been running up the score on his last two opponents – 1. He is practicing for running up the score on the 49ers, much like it gets easier to turn right on red at freeway after the first couple of times; 2. Pete’s a closet Bills fan and wanted to put an over-matched Chan Gailey out of his misery, plus he wasn’t too worried about Chan getting physical with him in the post-game handshake; and 3. Petey decided to start Michael Robinson at quarterback over Eli Manning and wanted to get him more points on that fake punt play.

Here is the deal, the game was still in question at 47-17, you just never know when Frank Reich and Andre Reed are going to walk through that door.

As for this game, it’s a totally different game if the 49ers lose that game in New England last weekend. This game, in terms of the division, is irrelevant to the 49ers, unless you are in the camp that believes the Cardinals can win in San Francisco with the division on the line next week. For Seattle, this game is everything, it’s at home, in prime-time, they’re all-in on this game and the results will show.

Oh, and by the way, that Russell Wilson 6-1 to win Rookie of the Year will be looking very promising after this prime time performance.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Russell Wilson, 2. Marshawn Lynch, 3. Sidney Rice

Buffalo (+4.5) over Miami – Yeah, yeah, the Dolphins cost me last week by hammering the Jaguars but trust me here, that was the closest 24-3 game in the history of the NFL. The Jaguars were within a touchdown of covering for the first 57 minutes of game, they failed on three 4th down plays inside Miami territroy and they had two touchdwons nullified by penalty. Add all that up and in my book that’s a bad beat.

And while there isn’t much the Bills do to get excited about, I like them for the following reasons – 1. it’s a division game, so it figures to be close; 2. Is there anyone from Buffalo that doesn’t enjoy a trip to Miami in late December?; 3. The Bills are a much better team wth C.J. Spiller as their full time back; and 4. the Dolphins are banged up at WR and their not exactly deep at that position, oh by the way, they also have a rookie quarterback.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. C.J. Spiller, 2. Reggie Bush, 3. Stevie Johnson

 

Washington (-5.5) over Philadelphia – I can’t believe it’s been 10 days since I watched Nick Foles throw a pass even Ryan Leaf thought sucked that completely changed the momentum of their game. The Eagles get back McCoy this week, so expect them to return to throwing the ball at a 75/25 ratio. I know it doesn’t make sense to me either.

I can’t quite tell yet if the Redskins are a serious threat to make a deep playoff run, or even if they are capable of winning a home playoff game, but they have been very impressive over the past few weeks. And this week they get back RG III, that and the mistakes the Eagles make should be enough for the Skins to cover easily.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Robert Griffin III, 2. Alfred Morris, 3. Pierre Garcon

The “Rest of the Week 16” picks

Cincinnati (+3.5) over Pittsburgh – In terms of participants, the AFC playoff scenario comes down to this game, the winner is the 6th and final team to clinch an AFC playoff berth. That cannot make the NFL happy, with all those week 17 divisional matchups on tap and nothing but seeding to play for. What happened to parity in the AFC this season? Well, the American Football Conference is a little like America the country with the Elites and the Poor, i.e. no middle class.

Of course we have the dominate teams in the Patriots, Texans and Broncos, each with a reasonable chance to post 12+ wins. But the real reason is some really, really bad football teams that have been owned by the NFC as the nine AFC teams already eliminated from the playoffs are a combined 8-26 against the NFC.

This is a tough game to call because on one hand you have the Bengals, a really dumb team, a team that makes costly mistakes, even Marvin Lewis referenced this after last week’s victory over the Eagles, “We survived ourselves tonight.” Uh, yeah, with a lot of help from the Eagles. I am not so sure the Steelers will be as accommodating.

But on the other hand, the Steelers don’t look right to me – Big Ben is a shell of himself, despite numbers that Eli Manning owners would take without hesitation, they drop too many passes, they have special teams breakdowns at the wrong time and they’re sloppy with the ball. And while it’s hard to see the Steelers losing three straight, especially at this point of the season, the Bengals are simply a better team.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. AJ Green, 2. Mike Wallace, 3. Andy Dalton

Detroit (+3.5) over Atlanta – If I am a Falcons fan I am still very nervous about the playoffs, even in the face of the giant win over the NY Giants. Why? Well, let’s look at the possible teams that might head to the Georgia dome for round two of the playoffs – Seattle, uh that’s a bad matchup for the Falcons; Redskins, better matchup for them than the Seahawks, but can’t you see RG III going in there and pulling off four to five back breaking plays to lead the Redskins to a win; Giants, sure the Falcons just whacked them 34-0 but this would be the “playoff” Giants not the “week 15, soil themselves” Giants. Falcons fan, in the words of Rocky Balboa after Apollo told him there wouldn’t be a rematch, “Don’t want one.”

The best matchup for the Falcons would be da Bears, a team essentially on fumes right now. Of course, I cannot see the Bears winning on the road in either San Francisco or Green Bay. So, the Bears are out. That’s right Falcons fans it’s time to start preparing for what has become an annual ritual in Atlanta – playoff failure.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Calvin Johnson, 2. Tony Gonzalez, 3. Jacquizz Rodgers

New England (-14.5) over Jacksonville – A casual sports investor might glance at this line and think to themselves, “That’s a tasty line, home team dogs getting double digits are golden.” That’s partially correct, home team dogs getting between 10 and 14 points are 29-16 since 2002, that’s gold. But home team dogs getting over 14 points are just 1-5 in that same period, that’s coal. This game is an prime example of what happens when a bug (Jaguars) hits a windshield (Patriots).

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Maurice Jones-Drew Tom Brady, 2. Aaron Hernandez, 3. Shane Vereen; Side note – One of my favorites things about week 16 of fantasy football is the ability to cut players that have jacked me this year, thus sending shockwaves to the league before they realize, “oh wait, we can’t pick him up next week.” MJD got cut this week for Ronnie Brown, for nothing more than the sport of cutting a guy who accumulated .4 points for me this year. And yet Eli Manning is taking all the blame.

Tennessee (+11.5) over Green Bay – I really don’t trust this Packers team to cover a double digit spread, especially with the following (a.) clinch the division last week in Chicago; (b.) needing like eight offensive pass interference calls to go their way to clinch the division last week, hardly a solid win; (c.) having very little to play for; sure they can get a bye, but what did that do for them last year; and (d.) sure, the Packers are 10-4, but their point differential is a rather weak +52, meaning they play to their competition. Translation, they cannot put teams away, thus the Titans hang around this week.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Aaron Rodgers, 2. Kenny Britt, 3. Jake Locker

Chicago (-5.5) over Arizona – I will let you in on a little secret, I played the Bears at over 9.5 wins on the season. Needless to say but the old rule of “don’t count your sheep until you’ve got the wool sweater in hand lest they pull the wool out from underneath you” applies here. Somehow this 8-3 Bears team has found a way to flounder to 8-6 and put me a “dormie” situation. That’s the bad news.

The good news is the Bears get the Cardinals and Lions to close out the year, and while making the playoffs is a secondary motivation to them winning me my over wins bet, it can’t hurt to have that as extra incentive. They have to win out to have a shot at the playoffs and probably keep Lovie smith employed. And even then, they need help, but really when you need Dallas to choke or the Giants to fall flat against the Ravens is that really that far-fetched. Blend it all together and it means Bears will sneak in with similar resume as the past two Super Bowl champions.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Brandon Marshall, 2. Matt Forte, 3. Chicago D

Carolina (-8.0) over Oakland – This is the most ridiculous line of the season – how can the Panthers be giving anybody over a touchdown, including eventual 2012 National Champion, Norte Dame. This is a team that is three weeks removed from a loss to the Chiefs, the Chiefs! That loss is about as bad as losing to that freakshow, Abi-Marie in a Survivor final three.

Survivor Tangent time – I need someone to tell me how Abi was not in the final three in place of Denise or Malcolm. And yes I am looking at you, Lisa and you, Skupin. It’s a very interesting final three with Lisa, Scoop and Abi. What’s Abi’s final tribal opening remark – “You cannot vote for these two morons, they’re morons. That is all.” After both Lisa and Scoop essentially tell the world for the 159th time that Abi is a social leper who is perhaps the most unlikeable person in the world, Abi can come back, this time in tears, with a closing remark of, “I, I didn’t realize how much people hated me, I’m just, just very direct in my comments, I speak what’s on my mind, I don’t mean to, to offend anyone. I am lovable. I guess all I am left to say is, if you vote for me, I will give you oral sex for a year. That is all.” Of course I am guessing that most if not all of the jury had already experienced oral sex from Abi, so that wouldn’t have carried much weight.

There is no way Abi had any chance to win and to be honest there was no way Scoop or Lisa had a chance to win against either Malcolm or Denise. Scoop and Lisa knew this and yet still decided that Abi had to go. The big loser in this is Scoop, as Lisa will undoubtedly parlay this into some ABC Family show alongside Molly Ringwold. But Scoop, man, you had a million reasons to keep Abi.

Whew!

You know what, I am buying what the house is selling here on the Panthers.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Cam Newton, 2. Steve Smith, 3. Darren McFadden

Tampa Bay (-3.0) over St. Louis – Have the Bucs already tuned out Sargent Schiano? That’s why these college coaches make for lousy NFL coaches, NFL players are men with massive power, college kids are under the control of “the man.” It’s that simple.

Still even with that, I believe the personal pride of the Bucs will show up for one last time in 2012, plus the Rams have had a successful season reagardless of what they do in these last two games. They mailed that game in last week and I look for more the remainder of the season. However, next year, look out NFL, here come the Rams!

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Vincent Jackson, 2. Tampa Bay D, 3. Doug Martin

San Diego (+2.5) over NY Jets – Rex Ryan must really, really hate Christians, otherwise how do you not give Tim Tebow a shot? Is the mere thought of Tebow leading the Jets to a victory and in the post-game thanking his Lord and Savior too much for the agnostic Ryan? I mean really, how much different is this Jets team than that Broncos team last season, both need to run and play defense to win, both are over-matched against talented teams, but at this point why not give Timmy a shot? Instead the Jets turn from Sanchez to McElroy. And I actually considered picking up McElroy to start over Eli Manning this week. Side note – goodness my twitter account is going to blow up Sunday if Eli sucks, but I vow to have at least 75% of the likely 100+ tweets be at least an attempt at being humorous and not the mindless display from last weekend.

One more comment on this Jets franchise – now I hear they are going to explore trading Sanchez (and his 8.5 million guaranteed) this off-season. Hmm, so that’s a little like me trying to trade a beat-up Yugo for a brand new BMW M5. Don’t get me wrong, I could definitely do that, in fact a dealer would be salivating at how they could rip me off on the trade-in and the price of the M5, yup, right up ’til the point I tell them, “oh, by the way, did I tell you that I still owe 24K on the Yugo.”

Actually, I lied, I have one more comment – do you realize that if the NFL did not allow NBC to flex games that this would have been the Sunday night game this week? We should all thank the god, that Rex Ryan thinks might exist, for that foresight by the NFL.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. San Diego D, 2. NY Jets D, 3. Ronnie Brown

New Orleans (+2.5) over Dallas – Come on, Cowboys fan you know this is a game that this team will inexplicable lose. After two back-to-back, ballsy performances, this Cowboys team will be back to the team “we’ve grown to know and love.” The only thing that could be better is if this was the ESPN game this week. Then we could get John Gruden’s take. You know classic comments like:

“Mike, this Cowboys team needs to pick it up. The playoffs are up for grabs, the Cowboys need to grab it and choke it.”

“This Drew Bress can make throws that no one else can make. I tell you what, I wouldn’t want to play corner against him, that’s for sure.”

“This Pierre Thomas is a one man wrecking ball. You see he gets to the corner, and BAM, he is like a truck running over a Carr.”

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Drew Brees, 2. Demarco Murray, 3. Jason Witten

Minnesota(+7.5) over Houston – It is funny to see the progression of chatter about Adrian Peterson’s remarkable season, it started with a few commentators asking discussing AP’s chance to join the 2K club (and thus becoming AP2K), after a 200 yard day, the talk quickly turned to “Can AP break Eric Dickerson’s record?” AP even told ED, “I can beat this, it’s mind over matter, I don’t need a blue pill . . .” Oh wait, wrong ED. Peterson told Dickerson, “You should be nervous.” Dickerson responded with, “Footballs are oval, back to you Al!” Actually, Dickerson held up a sign stating “he wasn’t nervous,” but last week Eric was spotted in Target buying new underwear and a month supply of Pepto Bismol.

After watching Vick Ballard (see Colts roster, he is the starting running back) run over the Texans last week, I think AP has a better than 5% chance of breaking the record this week.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Adrian Peterson, 2. Arian Foster, 3. Ben Tate

Indianapolis (-6.5) over Kansas City – Oh man did Jamaal Charles do a number on his fantasy owners last week. Honestly, I identified Charles as the #1 threat to me in my semi-final game last weekend, as I felt like there was no way he would do anything less than 100-1. I really, really feared the dreaded , “no effing way” game from him, like 225-3. What was that performance? Against the Raiders, no less. Surprisingly, however, the vitriol aimed at Charles was mild in comparison to Eli Manning. A simple Twitter search of “Jamaal Charles Sucks” yields merely seven tweets with my favorite being this one:

The same search using “Eli Manning Sucks”, yielded 123 tweets and that doesn’t include any of the dozen I sent out last weekend, because the tweet “Eli Manning sucks sweaty camel balls” was far too imaginative for me last weekend. Here is a sampling of my favorites:

Now there is something I need to use more often, references to Madden, but it would be better as a parody, like, “Eli Manning sucks, in fact one time in Madden 69:A gay porn parody, I caught him the locker room performing oral sex on some Massachusetts senator. Turns out he was working for Bob Kraft.” #LessThanZero

Poor thing, she should have taken the jersey off. TAKE IT OFF, TAKE IT OFF! Ba Da Bing!

Yikes, I have Carson as well, but fortunately my stick is still intact. Whew!

And my personal favorite:

That pretty much sums it up, he seems like that type of guy, which is why when he costs you, the hate is great.

Oh yeah, the Colts should cover this game easily when the Anti-Eli Manning, Andrew Luck goes wild.

Fantasy Three Stars: 1. Andrew Luck, 2. Reggie Wayne, 3. Jamaal Charles

Best of luck this week!

NFL 2012 – Week 15, “Russell Wilson for ROY” Edition

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com.

The “Super Contest” Picks

Houston (-8.0) over Indianapolis – I cannot believe that Andrew Luck is the favorite to win the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year. It’s not all that close either, as my good friends at sportsbook.com have Andrew Luck at -200. What has Luck done to deserve to that heavy of a favorite? Let’s take a look the these two quarterbacks:

 

Rating

TDs

Ints

Yards

QB 1

74.5

18

18

3,792

QB 2

104.2

18

4

2,902

 

Not close, right? It’s all QB2, aka RGIII, who is currently at +140 to the honor. RGII, could in fact be teh league MVP if he were to lead the Redskins into the playoffs as the NFC East division champs. Clearly, he has had a better season than Luck, but you say, it is about success of the team and wins. Fair enough, let’s assume that the Skins fall short of the playoffs, therefore let’s take a look at these two quarterbacks:

 

Rating

Wins

QBR (EPSN)

QB 1

74.5

9

67.4

QB 2

94.9

8

64.8

 

This is a much closer, but if I told you QB2 was available at 6-1, would you bother with laying -200? BTW, Russell Wilson is QB2. Wilson also leads Luck in touchdowns (20-18) and interceptions (9-18). The Seahawks, like the Colts, are most likely headed to the playoffs, so why isn’t there more buzz about Wilson? And if New England loses this weekend in New England (better than a coin flip chance), the Seahawks control their own destiny for the NFC West. Wouldn’t that make Wilson a shoe-in winner? Damn, I just talked myself into the 6-1 bet on Wilson!

Of course, three weeks from now I will be bemoaned the fact that the ROY award is that it is more like a gymnastics competition than a 100 meter dash. Damn that French judge!

As for this game, look no further than the Colts results on the road against quality competition – 41-21 loss at Chicago and a 59-24 dismantling in New England. Throw in three more facts – 1. The Colts have fallen behind in each of their last three games, needed to, one case miraculously, rally, to win; 2. The Texans are coming off a humbling loss to the Patriots, with a division title up for grabs this week, expect max effort from them; and 3. Outside of late game heroics, Andrew Luck has been very mediocre over the last month. I am not sure the Colts bring anything else to the table that would scare me off laying the big number.

The Colts are staring down a Texas sized ass-whooping.

Jacksonville (+7.0) over Miami – I have a theory that bad teams should cannot be trusted to cover touchdown or more spread. You know, it’s one of my many quirks. Even though, I am violating my “never take the Jags” again rule and the Jaguars have essentially screwed me this year by not coming clean on MJD, I simply am lured by the points and the Dolphins home record.

Seattle (-5.5) over Buffalo – Speaking of trusting teams, I am not sure we can trust Pete Carroll on the road the week before him and his old buddy Jim Harbaugh get together. Pete is known for lack of detail the week before big games. But this technically isn’t a road game since it’s in Toronto. Moreover, I really, really trust Russell Wilson and that Seahawks defense. And now that I have Russ as ROY, why not go all-in.

Pittsburgh (-2.0) over Dallas – I cannot see Mike Tomlin allowing the Steelers to play consecutive miserable games. Think about the last time the Steelers were in this position, two weeks ago in Baltimore after a wretched performance in Cleveland. We all know how that turned, well at least those of us who lost in their five figure survivor pool because of those scumbag Ravens.

Plus, the Cowboys are banged up, and coming off that emotional win over the Bengals leads me to believe their fate will be similar to the Chiefs last week who were in a similar spot.

Green Bay (-3.0) over Chicago – The Bears are on fumes, the Packers look re-fueled and ready to establish themselves as the team to beat in the NFC. Yup, it’s two teams headed in opposite directions, and the Packers will slap the Bears around to clinch the NFC North division.

The Rest:

Atlanta (-1.0), New Orleans (-3.5), Cleveland (PK), Baltimore (+3.0), Detroit (-6.5), San Diego (-3.0), Kansas City (+3.0), San Francisco (+4.5), NY Jets (+2.0)

 

NFL 2012 – Week 14, “Yay Fantasy” edition

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com.

The “Super Contest” Picks

Buffalo (-3.0) over St. Louis – I love the 2012 Rams! I love that in a year where my favorite teams have crapped the bed across the board, the Rams have provided me with a loss-less year against the hated, rot-in-hell 49ers. To quote Jesse Pinkman, “1-0-1, bitch!”

Everything comes with a price though, right? It sure does and the price of the Rams taking care of their divisional rivals (4-0-1 in division play) is that they barely show up to play non-divisional opponents and against the non-conference games, fuhgeddaboudit! However, it’s a smart move by Jeff Fisher, who probably realized about hour two of taking over the job that the Rams were talent depleted and had little to no chance of completely turning this thing around this year. So Fisher did the next best thing in year one, take care of the division. Every division game has become the Rams “Super Bowl” this season. And this in a markedly improved division.

You can pencil this in for next year – the Rams will be in the playoffs with at least nine wins. And Chris Givens will be a top 10 WR in fantasy football. Yay fantasy.

But as for this game, it’s the week after the Rams sold out in the five quarter performance against the 49ers. We’ve been here before, three weeks ago after a knockdown, drag out five quarter fight against the 49ers the clearly superior Rams came home to play the over-matched Jets. The result, Jets 27-13. Look for a similar result this weekend in Buffalo.

Cleveland (-6.5) over Kansas City – Get this – the Browns have been a 6.5 point favorite or more in just 21 games since 1989. Since 2003 they have been in this situation just four times. Four! But, guess what, I don’t care this Browns team is a young, feisty version of those once great Baltimore Ravens teams that could D-UP and run the ball. You have to love the Browns defense this week in a sneaky play that might make the difference in the fantasy playoffs. Yay fantasy.

Let’s also not forget that the Chiefs had a tremendous tragedy last week and while they were emotional prepared to play against the Panthers, it feels a little bit like this week the weight of the tragedy will hit them and with the, on the road this has the makings of a mail in game for them.

And I have mention the Bob Costas commentary on “guns arrrrre bad” last Sunday night. Essentially Costas took to the stage to tell America that in the wake of this tragedy we need stricter gun control laws. I agree that guns, in general, can have a net effect that is largely undesirable, especially when the gun is easily accessible in the heat of the moment. But when I heard that Javon Belcher shot his girlfriend nine times, I think that goes past the “I lost my mind and pulled the trigger” area and falls straight into “he was going to kill her even if he had to strangle the life out of her with his bare hands” It’s pretty simple, dude was deeply disturbed and, in this case the absence of a gun, would have meant the results would have involved a knife, rope and sturdy beam. This is a very sad tale indeed.

Still, I don’t watch Sunday night football to hear political agendas and my guess neither do you. Save it Costas!

Chicago (-3.0) over Minnesota – Vikings QB Christian Ponder got engaged this past week. Oh, that’s sweet! Let’s hope his bride to be isn’t marrying him for because he is the quarterback of the Vikings. I am thinking that is about to end very soon as he is horrible.

I have to admit this line feels very much like a trap to me. First off, outside of AP, the Vikings have zero offense. Zero! When Percy Harvin went down with an injury apparently the Vikings lost the ability to throw the ball. Now there offense is “hope AP breaks a long TD run” or “hope we can ride AP into the red zone for a field goal.” Moreover, the Bears defense even minus Urlacher is tough, so how exactly are the Vikings going to be in this game.

Throw in the reality that their rookie kicker is in the tank and quite literally, the Vikings only offense is AP. I don’t think that will be enough for the Vikings to win the game but several billion fantasy owners will be rejoicing when AP has the “no effing way” game for them – 200 combined yards and 2 TDs. Yay fantasy.

Cincinnati (-3.0) over Dallas – Just three weeks remain until I am officially fatnasy foorball free. I cannot wait. A game like this one is a big part of why I have grown to hate fantasy. Ask any fantasy player about who they like in this game and the likely answer will be the Cowboys, because they are playing “really good football right now.” Um, ok, so two weeks ago the Redskins strolled into Cowboys stadium and laid the smack down on the Cowboys, but in the process of trying to rally back, Romo and Bryant put up huge fantasy numbers.

Last week the Cowboys barely pulled one out against, quite possibly, the worst team in the NFL, but again Romo and Bryant put up huge fantasy numbers. Translation – the Cowboys suck, but the fantasy disease has infected so much that a majority of people actually think the Boys are playing well just based on fantasy numbers. Ugh!

In terms of this game, here is how it will go – after a pick-6 the Bengals take a 34-10 lead heading into the 4th quarter, DUH-DUH-DUH-TA-DA, here comes “Super Fantasy Man” and his sidekick, “Super Fantasy Boy” to save the day for some poor fantasy chump, who is the process of negotiating with themselves about “just give me one touchdown to Dez.” Done. Cowboys rally comes up short, but Romo and Bryant once again are positional high scorers for the week, and the fantasy community praises the “really playing great football” Cowboys. Yay fantasy!

Detroit (+7.0) over Green Bay – This game is the classic matchup of “the moveable object versus the resistible force.” The Lions are having trouble finishing a dump, while the Packers consistently leave the backdoor open in hopes that no one wanders in to steal their brand new Panasonic VT30 65 inch 3D TV.

It’s hard to make a case that the Packers cover this spread considering they will be without their two best defenders Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson, their best running back (Starks) and one of their top receivers (Nelson).

The case for the Lions is much more palatable – (a). after getting called out by an anonymous teammate this week, Suh will likely play his best game of the year in hopes that said teammate will apologize so Suh can stomp him; (b). The Lions are getting seven points, remember they can’t finish, but they can keep it close; and (c). It’s Calvin Johnson and it’s Sunday night, just imagine the number fantasy games that will flip when Calvin catches that garbage time TD that also happens to cover the spread for the Lions. Yay, fantasy!

The “Rest of the Picks” Picks

Philadelphia (+7.5) over Tampa Bay – This Eagles team has something going with Foles and Bryce Brown. Ten years from now Bryce Brown’s finish to the season will be known as the 2012 version of Maurice Jones-Drew’s 2006 season. Yay fantasy.

Baltimore (+2.5) over Washington – That was truly a gutless performance by the Ravens last week, but out of something bad comes, hopefully, something good and maybe the Ravens will begin utilizing their best player – Ray Rice. Just in time for the fantasy playoffs. Yay fantasy.

Carolina (+3.5) over Atlanta – It’ great to see Cam Newton finally piling up fantasy points like his rookie season. He’s also piling up the losses but who cares fantasy shmuck thinks Cam is “playing great football.” Yay fantasy.

NY Jets (-3.0) over Jacksonville – I have it on good authority that there “is no way the Jets lose this game.” Plus, I they’re my fantasy defense, so I have to pick them. Yay fantasy.

Tennessee (+5.0) over Indianapolis – It’s just time for the Colts, their number is up. Look you can’t be 8-4 ATS, have a soft number this week (should be 6+) and expect them to cover, plus Andrew Luck is hitting the rookie wall. Too bad for those trusting him as their only fantasy quarterback in the fantasy playoffs. Yay fantasy.

San Diego (+8.0) over Pittsburgh – I know Roethlisberger is back this week, but after watching Charlie Batch crying after beating the Ravens last week it makes me think this team will be spent and be lucky to survive the abysmal Chargers this week. Look, I get it Charlie, the Ravens cost me an entry in a 24K survivor pool, I was crying as well, but at the end of the day it was just one game you cannot bawl like an newborn who just became disconnected from the mama boob. Oh, and don’t even think of starting Roethlisberger this weekend. Yay fantasy.

San Francisco (-11.0) over Miami – Seriously, this the 49ers “flex their muscles” game. One of these weeks I am going to be right on them. Oh, by the way Colin, catchy name, Kaepernick should be in all fantasy starting lineups this week. Yay fantasy.

Arizona (+10) over Seattle – John Skelton is back and no, he shouldn’t be anywhere near a fantasy starting lineup this week. Yay fantasy.

NY Giants (-4.5) over New Orleans – I am closing out the picks with the two games that will likely impact the most fantasy matchups this weekend. This game is a late afternoon Sunday game with probably at least ten fantasy starters – Manning, Brees, Graham, Colston, Moore, Sproles, Cruz, Tynes, Bennett and Bradshaw. I am sure a few fantasy games will swing on the outcome of this game, which probably means it will end up being a 17-10 dud with Henry Hynoski scoring both touchdowns on short runs for the Giants and the Saints getting a defensive touchdown. Hey wait, I forgot to list Hakeem Nicks. No, actually it is a purposeful omission as Nicks is nicked up again. Seriously fantasy freaks, when will you learn that you cannot trust that guy to stay healthy? Yay fantasy.

New England (-3.5) over Houston – Statement game for the Patriots. No way I see them losing this game, so I merely have to hope that they really want to whack the Texans to send a strong pre-playoff message to them.

As for the fantasy starters, several leagues will come down to the wire to see which team advance in the playoffs on the backs of the following: Brady, Schuab (should be starting), Ridley, Foster, Welker, Hernandez, A. Johnson, O. Daniels, Lloyd, Graham, Gostkowski, Pats D, Texans D, Walter, Vereen and Tate. Yup, I can see now – Ben Tate stealing the show on Monday night, throwing up a nice little 80 and 2 TDs in a 17 point loss and swinging all of a handful of games to a guy who hasn’t changed his lineup in over two months. Yay fantasy.

Best of luck this week.

NFL 2012 – Week 13, “Rooting for the House” Edition

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com. The Super Contest lines are not live, but instead are set and held the entire week.

The “Super Contest” picks:
Cincinnati (-1.5) over San Diego – Even in the midst of this crap season by the Chargers I still had them favored in this game by 2 to 2.5 points. When I noticed the line I immediately thought, oh, Chargers are a great play. Then I thought back to that gutless effort by San Diego on Sunday against a Ravens team that neither wanted to be in San Diego nor attempt to win that game. And fresh in my mind was the Flacco give up 4th and 29 screen pass; though a screen pass carries the implication that there is at least some semblance of blockers out in front of the running back where as this was more of a two yard dump off that Ray Rice essentially willed his way through eight of the 11 Charger defenders for the first down. Did I mention the Chargers were gutless last weekend?

In fairness, I know what I’m get when betting on Norv, but goodness is there a head coach in the NFL who is so below average at every head coaching category? I don’t think there is, but by all means Bolt management, bring him back for another four years. The USA would do it!

Need proof, how about the lack of a timeout before halftime, which likely cost the Chargers points, or at least a chance at points. Norv steadfastly refused to call timeout even though QB Phil Rivers was screaming for one. Even the announcers were at a lost, as Ian Eagle feeble attempt to explain the non-timeout was absurd. Eagle, “Norv’s not calling a timeout here because the Ravens have their offense on the field.” WTF? Are you kidding me, Norv? If the Ravens are going to attempt a 4th and 1 from their 30 in the 2nd quarter of a game they are trailing, why would you stand in their way? Are you really worried about them scoring? Even if you plan nothing more than to run a couple safe plays, you have to call timeout there to force the opposition to punt and give yourself enough time to put some pressure on the defense. Pathetic!

Yeah, I cannot trust this Norv Turner Chargers team ever again.

Baltimore (-7.0) over Pittsburgh – Um, it’s Charlie Batch in Baltimore with the Ravens a win away from nailing the coffin shut on the Steelers in the division. In addition, dealing the Steelers another loss cripples their playoff chances. That is important to the Ravens as they have no desire to see a Roethlisberger led Steelers team that they defeated twice in the regular season, both times without the quarterback. Remember in Die Hard when John McClain didn’t kill the terrorist when he had the chance. That’s a rule in life to live by – never let someone who would should kill, live to haunt you!

San Francisco (-7.0) over St. Louis – This is a contradiction of my belief that when rebuilding a coach will focus from the division outward. The Rams are clearly rebuilding, but Jeff Fisher has the Rams playing at a very high level against the NFC West, as evidence by their 3-0-1 record against divisional foes. But this feels like a “flex their muscles” spot for the 49ers, who were out-played by the Rams in Frisco.

Dallas (-10.0) over Philadelphia – I have to admit that I am shocked by this line, regardless of how poor the Eagles are playing. The Cowboys have trouble covering any spread at home, how can Vegas give money away like this? Exactly, they’re not giving money away, they realize that the Eagles have officially quit after the loss to the Panthers and the Cowboys can throw up a big number to quiet the masses of fans clamoring for changes.

Miami (+7.5) over New England – I have always believed that there are two key spread numbers that tell the story about who to bet, with those numbers being 6.5 and 7.5. Without researching, I have blindly believed that 6.5 was a clear play on the underdog while 7.5 was an indication to make play on the favorite. Basically my logic is that why would the odds-makers not simply make a game a solid seven as opposed to adjusting the line a half point? The adjustment, in my mind, is to entice the action towards the natural comfort of the bettor. Most betters feel more comfortable laying 6.5 on the favorite for the obvious reason – they win with a touchdown margin, conversely, with 7.5, the bettor can afford a loss by a touchdown. In a nutshell, my plays are contrarian which side with the house.
Fortunately, it’s 2012 and we have the technology to research. Since 2002, teams favored by 7.5 are just 40-52 ATS, while teams receiving 6.5 points are 84-61 ATS. So, that actual numbers make logically sense to me but refute my blind theory. A number like 6.5 is frowned upon by the favorite loving general public, who are chalk bettors and can’t get their money to the window fast enough at 6.5.
A 7.5 point number is also hammered by public, chalk bettors with similar results, they don;t care about the .5 point because “the favorite is a better team and will win easily.” So, essentially what these numbers tell me is that betting the favorites will get me beat more often than not. Look at me, I’m a “sharp”!

The “Breaking the Rules” pick:
Jacksonville (+6.5) over Buffalo – I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was done taking the Jaguars and Chiefs. Of course, that was before Chad Henne showed up to save the day in Jacksonville. So, in the interest of fairness, I have amended my rule to “I will no longer pick a team quarterbacked by Blaine Gabbert.”

One more thing on this game, why is that by the end of the year whoever is quarterbacking the Bills has less arm strength than Chad Pennington immediately after his 18th shoulder fusion surgery. Think about it – from Flutie to Van Pelt to Losman to Edwards to Fitzpatrick – each of those guys have below average arms to begin with, but by December they literally cannot throw the ball more than 15 yards. Is there something in the water in Buffalo? Is it the 100 wings or so that the quarterback of Bills is mandated to eat each week? The result of these candy-ass armed quarterbacks is that the Bills become very easy to defend even for the Jaguars.

Kansas City (+3.5) over Carolina – Yeah, I am supposed to believe the Panthers are back because they beat the Eagles on Monday. Not buying it. First off, the two touchdown passes for the Panthers last weekend looked like they were in pre-game warm-ups without a defense. And let’s look at that defense of the Panthers that allowed a rookie, making his first start, to look like Walter Payton, imagine what Jamaal Charles will do to them. Without the turnovers, they probably lose that game. Just sayin’ they aren’t good and they certainly should not be giving points to any team.

 Edit: Wow, I just heard the news on ESPN about Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher. Terribly sad news for all parties involved. I will tell you can never understand the depths of where people will go when they lose hope. To say that this type behavior is not in everyone of us, is to say that not everyone of us has been pushed to the brink, made a terrible mistake, lost hope and completely bottomed out. Being a fan, handicapper, sports investor, soccer dad should prepare us well for bleak situations since things are never as bad nor as good as they seem. It’s important to remember that in all facets of life.

My prayers go out to the families of those involved in this tragedy.

The “PED Bowl” pick:

Chicago (-3.0) over Seattle – The big question is how much impact will not being on PEDs have on Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner? I guess we now we know why these guys are big, physical corners.
The funniest part of this story is that Brandon Marshall jumped in with the “guys are on Viagra” statement. That’s hilarious. And opens up a plethora of bad puns, “He hits you hard. . .” and “Oh no, an offside penalty on the Bears, that’s quite a boner. . .” But the reality is Viagra could in fact help an athlete. The drug is designed to expand the blood vessels, thus allowing more oxygen carried to the muscles, which might help an athlete with bursts of speed and strength. In addition to being ready immediately after the final whistle for the groupies.
I am sure the NFL is already putting together the “eunuch policy”, where a player has to prove they truly have erectile dysfunction by putting them through a series provocative tests.

The “Kick on the Balls” pick:
Detroit (-6.0) over Indianapolis – Look I have three kids, so I have seen plenty of my share of “turning of the head while sticking the foot out to trip your sibling” acts in my time. “What did I do,” is the typical response. I might even consider myself an expert. Given that there is no way Suh’s kick Matt Schuab’s balls was unintentional. I virtually guarantee Suh is a middle child.

Honestly, the Lions are a dumb team, but I don’t trust this Colts team on the road against any semi-competent team. Personally, I think Andrew Luck has hit the rookie wall, coincidentally right after I traded for him in fantasy (reason #2130 why I am not playing fantasy ever again).

And this line is way too high, I have no choice but to back the house.

The “though logic generally fails in the NFL, I will try, try again” pick:
Minnesota (+7.5) over Green Bay – Green Bay cannot protect the passer, Minnesota can rush the passer, therefore Green Bay cannot protect Rodgers from Minnesota.

The “we will make the playoffs” pick:
NY Jets (-5.0) over Arizona – What is there to like about the Cardinals this week? Sure the Jets looked bad against the Pats, but a lot teams look bad against them. Here is the deal with the Jets, they went to St. Louis a couple weeks back and spanked the Rams right after an embarrassing home loss to the Dolphins. Aren’t we essentially in the same spot for them this week? And guess what, let’s assume the Bengals, Steelers, Dolphins and Colts all lose this week, the 5-7 Jets would be just one game out of the playoffs with an upcoming schedule that includes the Bills, Chargers, Titans and Jags. I can absolutely see this team finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs.

Bottom line – the only way you can play the Cardinals in this game is if you believe the Jets have quit. I think the above contradicts that notion.

The “so what” pick:
Tampa Bay (+7.5) over Denver – I have to admit that I am very surprised by this Broncos team. I mean not as surprised as I was when I found out that Dustin from the Battle of the Seasons has done “a few gay porn movies.” Uh, wait, rewind that, what did he say? Quoting Dustin, “Frank is bringing up that I have done a few gay porn movies. So what?” So what? Wow, that was the day I realized that I am old, really old, like Methuselah old because I’m like that would be the last thing I would say if I did “a few gay porn movies.”

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but there was a day when once you’re in porn, your options were either porn or more porn. All of a sudden it’s socially accepted to be in porn? Are you telling me banks are now willing to give loans to porn actors trying to start a store named “Buck’s Super Stereo World”? Yeah, I’m old.

Anyway, this Tampa team will find a way to keep it close and if you’re so inclined maybe throw a few nickels down on the money line.

The “when do the playoffs start” pick:
Tennessee (+6.5) over Houston – I give you eight reasons why the Titans will cover – 1. Houston is bored with the regular season; 2. Matt Schuab’s balls still hurt; 3. Wade Phillips is more concerned with all goodies associated with the holiday season than he is with designing defenses to shut down mediocre offenses; 4. Tennessee is in the same boat as the Jets, except they’re thinking if we win this we have the Colts, Jags, Packers and Jets left, all winnable; 5. There is a new offensive coordinator in Tennessee, “it’s probably that pederast Loggains”, but nonetheless there’s new blood and a new system that an over-eating Phillips hasn’t thought about; 6. The Titans are 7-3 lifetime at home against the Texans; 7. Jake Locker has a 102.7 rating in his last two starts at home; and 8. The Texans are just 1-3 when giving 6.5 or more points on the road.

The “I only pick real teams” pick:

Oakland (+2.5) over Cleveland – I’ve got some balls picking the Raiders when they just suspended starting LB Rolando McClain. I mean we’ve already seen a rookie running back run for roughly 1000 yards against them with McClain, how many yards will Richardson have?

The disgruntled McCalin took to social media to vent with the following, “I can’t wait to play for a real team.” Hmm, Rolando, let’s hope that the “real team” has a need for an inside linebacker who can’t cover, runs himself into blocks, is not physical unless he holds a clear size advantage, is not a leader despite manning the “play calling” defensive position and is a cancer in the locker room. I am sure your agent’s phone will be ringing off the hook as every team in the NFL wants an ILB just like that. Don’t hold your breath Rolando!

Trust me, as I have it on good authority from my Raiders fan buddy, this suspension is a positive move for the Raiders. Plus, how pissed do you think the Raiders have to be at getting 2.5 at home against the Browns. They have to be madder than cat hater swerving in an attempt to hit a cat but narrowly missing.

The “eff the spread and pile up fantasy points or else” pick:
Washington (+3.0) over NY Giants – Look I am quitting fantasy football next season, that’s a given, but I am still playing this year and this game most likely will decide my fate in one of my leagues. Therefore, I need Manning, Nicks and Garcon to pile up fantasy points like it’s 1999. I don’t know what that means, but it seems like back in 1999 I could count on some sort of fantasy consistency.

Good luck this week.

2012 CFB – Week 14 “Seven Out”

I have a close friend who tells a story about a buddy of his who was a Vegas blackjack dealer, who, as the story goes, would become ice cold 10 minutes prior to going on his break . He would simply announce to the table, “everybody, it’s winning time.” I witnessed this once myself, it was truly remarkable. He broke at least eight straight hands, he would show a six, with a five under, then buy an ace, king. It does need mentioning, but we need more guys like him. Not necessarily the giving money away, but a guy who knew his status and could accurately convey to the players.

I am thinking that the same is true for yours truly with college football, as I finally got over on the “house” last week with a stellar 6-1 record. Not to say that I have everything figured out, but last week was the first week this season where I felt like I was reading English, as opposed to some undeveloped language from a third world country.

Much like the dealer, I am about to go on break, so I look to continue my assault on the odds-makers during Championship week and on into the bowl season.


Wisconsin vs. Nebraska (-3.5, O/U 49.0) – Ok, so I was ready to hammer the crap out of the Badgers in this game for the obvious reasons – a. Taylor Martinez in a big game, away from Lincoln; b. Bo Pelini in a big game, away from home; c. the abysmal performance by the Huskers in the fight for the “Heroes Trophy”; and d. the Huskers recent history in championship games. But then I read this column about how the Huskers spent 18 hours undergoing extreme military training in the spring of 2012.

Now those refuse to quit, play to the final whistle crazy comebacks make sense to me. The funny part is that in the column the players admit to being borderline lazy, self serving, essentially horrible team-mates. Yeah, essentially the reasons I played against them in virtually every game where I felt like they would need each other backs.

Anyway, they learned to dig deep, find strength where they though none existed, trust each other, help each other and most of all love each other. Yeah, whatever, good for them, I am only concerned about what I can use to my advantage over my adversary, the bookie! Also, I would file all that “feel good” crap under #ThingsIWouldHaveLikedToHaveKnown prior to picking against in every big game this season.

Well, now I know. Early Sunday morning, when an admin at the B1G conference office edits the list of conference champions, I expect the 2012 entry to look like the following:

2012 – Nebraska *

Play: Nebraska -3.5

UCLA @ Stanford (-9.0, O/U 46.0) – The Bruins had absolutely nothing to play for last week against the Cardinal and the result showed as much. Think about it, win and they head to Eugene to face an angry Ducks team or, lose, play a Stanford team that will likely be, based on a little something called human nature, over-confident. It was a no brainer then, it’s a no brainer now, even if coach Mora won’t admit it.

Here are three points to make my case for the Bruins this week – 1. The line has moved in Stanford’s favor, despite almost 2 to 1 bets on Stanford. That’s “sharp” money, which is worth about as much as “dull” money, but still someone, in some sports book thought enough of a “sharp” bet on the Bruins to move the number against the public action; 2. The Bruins have essentially had two weeks to prepare, they showed nothing last week, yet were able to absorb everything Stanford did. While the flip side, Stanford has had a short week to prepare a complete new game plan or hope that UCLA doesn’t make adjustments to the existing game plan; and 3. Never in the history of the NCAA has a team covered one week against an opponent, then cover the next week against the same opponent. Ok, you got me it’s 0-0, it’s never happened. Until this week.

Play: UCLA +9.0

Northern Illinois (-7.0, O/U 58.0) vs. Kent State – Kent State is the higher ranked team, yet they’re getting seven points, in a championship game no less. Lines like this are for the suckers, suckers who look at such things like rankings and determine how to bet based on some overweight, constipated mediot’s vote.

Rankings systems are so flawed, that they should be abolished and college football should play an 128 team triple elimination tournament for the season. Now that would be awesome!

Here is my case for NIU, there has been a significant amount of hoopla surrounding the possibility of Kent State bouncing an “AQ” conference school from a BCS bowl game. Now, I admit I don’t know everything, but I know when a power conference is in danger of losing a BCS payday there is a good chance that the referees for this game will be alums of NIU, including the guy with the Michael Turner calf tat and the guy with the cat named “Novak.”

Play: Northern Illinois -7.0

Georgia vs. Alabama (-7.5, O/U 50.5) – Doesn’t it feel like everybody is backing the Bulldogs this week? I haven’t heard one good thing about Bama. It’s Bama’s defense struggles with dynamic offenses, Bama should’ve lost to LSU and not even be in this game, Bama can’t rush the passer, the Tide’s defense is well below past versions and Bama’s offense lacks explosiveness. Ya da da!

Now I would think that type of disrespect would make Alabama players madder than an “actor” playing Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland repeatedly getting kicked in the nuts by a crying toddler while the proud papa tries to figure out how use the new digital camera.

I tell you these situations where everyone is on the same side and that side happens to be the worse of the two teams, are golden. Roll Tide! Alabama big time!

Play: Alabama -7.5

Oklahoma State (-5.0 O/U 87.5) @ Baylor – Whoa, the total is 87.5? Most reasonable bettors would think to themselves, “Hey, all I need is maybe two turnovers and two stops for this game to go under.” That’s logical until you look at the following: (a). This is the highest posted total in history of college football. Now I don’t know that for a fact, but I do know that, since 2006, the highest posted total was 83; just guessing here but I highly doubt any of those “three yards and a cloud of dust” games bak in teh day were touching the 80s. It’s so high that I side with the odds-maker here even if it seems unrelaistic.; (b). The three 80+ totals since 2006 have gone over the total in regulation. See trust the odds-makers!; (c). The arrogance of both offenses dictate that neither would consider a style of play to “keep the opposing offense off the field.”; (d). weather will not be a factor; (e). These teams are ranked #1 and #3 in yards per play; (f). Both teams are in the upper tier (#26 and #33 in the NCAA) of “yards per point”, an offensive efficiency stat. One of the main reasons they’re are not higher is that both defenses are so bad that the offenses rarely start with great field position, therefore, 80 yard drive for seven points is deemed less efficient than a 50 yard drive for seven points.; and (g). The tempo of this game figures to be in the 170-180 play range, which calculates on the low end to 90.5 points and 96.5 points on the high end.

Good enough for me.

Play: Over 87.5

Cincinnati (-5.0 O/U 40.5) @ Connecticut – The “third game flat” rule applies here as UCONN has won back-to-back games against Pittsburgh and Louisville. The latter was a emotional, overtime win, therefore, the Huskies are spent. Let’s throw in the fact that I think Cincinnati is the best in the Big East and it makes this game a no-brainer.

Play: Cincinnati -5.0

Oklahoma (-6.0 O/U 60.0) @ TCU– How disgusted do you think former OU greats like Dewey Selmon, Lee Roy Selmon, the Boz, Tommie Harris and Roy Williams are with this watered down, sissy version of the Sooners defense? And is there anything better than curmudgeonly old former players bitching about how “if they were playing, this type of thing would never happen!” I love to drop the 2012 Oregon Ducks back in the 70s or 80s and watch them run circles around those slow footed, smallish defenders. Now that would be entertaining.

Anyway somehow the Sooners, with the great defensive minds of the Stoops’ brothers, have allowed 97 points in the previous two games. The last time that happened was during the very forgettable John Blake era when they accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons. The biggest difference between then and now, is the Sooners were expected to lose big in those games. Now they’re still winning but getting gashed worse than an emo with a fresh supply of razor blades.

Now I ask you – can you trust a team that allows points by the bushel? No, you can’t. Because just when you exhale after OU takes a 10 point lead, that seems like you’re in the clear, TCU will take four plays to cut the margin back to three.

Plus, two more points for TCU – 1. The number seems light to me, so again I will side, and root, with the house; and 2. I can TCU springing an upset here because the most recent bowl projections have OU playing Oregon. Not one player on that starting defense wants any part of the Ducks.

Play: TCU +6.0

Best of luck this week, it’s 10 minutes until the bookies “break time”!

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com.

NFL 2012 – Week 12, “The Coin Flips” Edition

I got off to a rather below average start to NFL week 12 with a forgettable 1-2 Thanksgiving day record. And just for the record, the rule “never back the Cowboys as a favorite at home” has now reached the status of it cannot be trumped any other rule, ever!

The silver lining is that I started off 1-0 with my contest picks, which in reality are the only picks that I care about. Translation, I pick every game, but the vast majority are coin flips (see below).

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com. The Super Contest lines are not live, but instead are set and held the entire week.

The “Rest of the Picks” picks:

 

New Orleans (+1.0) over San Francisco – This is a tough one, with dueling theories at work. One theory is that the Saints are back to being the Saints. Of course, it’s not amazing that their resurgence has coincided with a schedule of patsies. Sure, they beat the Falcons a couple (I could write a 10,000 word dissertation about how the Falcons blew that game), but outside of that their wins have come against the Raiders, Eagles, Bucs and Chargers. And while the Bucs game was somewhat impressive against a quality opponent on the road, they needed a joke of a call in the end zone to hang on. And the Chargers had them beat until the refs decided to take matters into their hands. Therefore I am not ready to call them fully back yet. And by the posted number, neither is Vegas.

 

On the other hand, the 49ers are starting the wunderkind, Colin Kaepernick at quarterback this week. Kaepernick, who led a decisive victory over the Bears on Monday, also successfully performed open heart surgery on Tuesday and fed 10,000 from one 21 pound Butter Ball on Thursday.

 

Sure Colin looked great this past week, but the Bears looked disinterested on defense and certainly posed nary a threat on offense, meaning 49ers could do what they do best, play from ahead. In addition, Kaepernick threw at least three “one in a hundred” completions. A “one in a hundred” completion is a throw that an above average quarterback could make about one out of every 100 throws.

 

The 49ers are the superior team, but I don’t want to be tweeting after this game, “I cannot believe I backed Colin Kaepernick in his first road start.”

 

Cleveland (+1.5) over Pittsburgh – It’s pretty simple, the betting public does not believe the Browns can beat the Steelers even if it were Ronald McDonald taking snaps for the Steelers. And most year’s I would agree with that premise, but this Browns team is feisty. Plus, this is still the Ravens sandwich game for the Steelers, therefore, they will likely be caught looking ahead.

 

Oakland (+8.5) over Cincinnati – Come on, 8.5 points? Do the odds-makers realize that this is Carson Palmer heading back to Cincinnati with something to prove? And while it is true that the Raiders are inching ever so close to Chiefs/Jaguars, “pick against them every week”, territory, but this is just too many points. Here is a trend for you – since 2000 the Bengals have been a favorite of 8.5 or more just 13 times. In those games, they’re 11-2 straight up but just 4-8-1 ATS. Translation, great survivor pick, lousy side pick.

 

Chicago (-6.5) over Minnesota – This game is the reason I had to delay this column, as the odds-makers refused to post a number because of the injury to Jay Cutler and the prospect of Jason Campbell behind center. Once it was virtually official that Cutler was playing I finally got the 6.5 number. It’s interesting that the opening line with no Cutler was a pick’em! That’s 6.5 points for Cutler! That’s Peyton Manning country, Jay! Cutler’s agent should go to Bears management Monday morning demanding Peyton Manning money.

Buffalo (+3.0) over Indianapolis – Ok, so I am supposed to believe that the Bills and Colts are equal teams? Not in my book, in fact I have the Colts closer to five or six points in this game. I am reminded that the books don’t mind taking a position on a game. It looks like this is a spot where they are comfortable being exposed on the Bills, with three quarters of the action on the Colts and an ever so sly opposite juice movement on the Colts to -3 EVEN. To recap, the number is short to begin with, the money is on the Colts and the commission I have to pay to the play the Colts has gone down? “FREE MONEY!”

 

Seattle (-3.0) over Miami – If you’ve seen Ryan Tannehill play quarterback over the last month then you completely understand backing Seattle as a road favorite, despite this 10-18 ATS since 2001.

Tennessee (-3.5) over Jacksonville – Someone should tell Blaine Gabbert that the Jaguars are now “happier with their quarterback situation than they have been all year long.” The amazing thing is that Gabbert is so bad that people actually think Chad Henne is good.

 

Also, remember when MJD used to play football? Yeah, me too, that was fun! Reason number #1547 “why I am not playing fantasy football next year”, is these nagging foot injuries that keep running backs out multiple weeks, even though each week said running back is “questionable.”

 

Kansas City (+10.5) over Denver – Seriously, 10.5? Even Romeo Crennel thinks this line is way too high and his main goal each day is to breath.

 

Arizona (-1.5) over St. Louis – What a disappointing, horrid performance by the Rams last week. That is to be expected with a young team like the Rams. The good news for the Rams is that they are young and have roughly a zillion draft picks over the next two years as a result of all of the trading they did prior to the 2012 NFL draft.

 

The bad news? RG III looks like a once in a lifetime player. I never thought I would go here but I want to jump in Doc Brown’s Delorean to go back to a day before the Rams made the trade with the Skins and show Jeff Fisher the game tape of the Redskins dismantling of the Cowboys Thursday. That should be enough to get the Rams to shop Bradford, albeit with draft picks, as opposed to that #2 overall pick.

 

Oh and in my way back I would make stop in Vegas to hammer Notre Dame as the BCS champ.

 

Good luck this week.

CFB 2012 – Week 13 “Seven Out”, Part II

After a very Colin-esque, mediocre 1-1 start to the week, I attempt to finish off the “Seven Out” with a 2-2-1 record. Good luck!

Michigan @ Ohio State (-4.0, O/U 54.0) – Ask yourself this question – “Do you trust your money in the hands of Brady Hoke?” Me neither. Throw in the reality the Wolverines have nothing to play for. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes still have the undefeated season alive, as well as the ability to play this victim card, “woe is us, we went undefeated but the big, bad NCAA keep us out of our title shot.”

Play: Ohio State -4.0

Notre Dame (-5.0, O/U 46.0) @ USC – Trust me, there is no bigger fan of the Trojans this week than me as the thought of an Alabama/Notre Dame BCS title game, makes me want to puke. Unfortunately, I sat through the USC/UCLA game last week, if Lane Kiffen’s bunch can’t fight back when punked by their cross-town rivals, will they fight back against a significantly better Irish team? I highly doubt it. Plus, the Trojans will not have Matt Barkley, but they still have those atrocious offensive and defensive lines.

Actually, this game could be a adjusted line play of the day – Notre Dame -10.5 at +165. Translation, it won’t be close.

Play: Notre Dame -5.0

Stanford (-3.0, O/U 51.5) @ UCLA– I am not so sure Stanford wouldn’t be favored in this game even if the Bruins had some incentive to win this game. What a spot for the Bruins, huh? If they beat Stanford, they get a trip to Eugene and a date with the Ducks. No thanks, right, Coach Mora?

Lose to Stanford, and the Bruins head to Palo Alto to face the Cardinal next week. A Cardinal team that will show plenty today in a an effort to beat the Bruins, while UCLA can play a vanilla game, rest some dinged players and gear up for the Pac-12 title game.

The choice seems obvious, right?

Play: Stanford -3.0

Wisconsin @ Penn State (-2.5, O/U 45.0) – Wisky is in a similar position as UCLA this week, while Penn State has brought it each week of this season, despite the black cloud and, quite possibly, unfair bias against them. In what should be a close game, give me the team with more motivation.

Play: Penn State -2.5

Florida @ Florida State (-7.0, 42.5) – Sure, I over-value the SEC, but come on, why is Florida State favored by a touchdown in this game?

Play: Florida +7.0

Best of luck this week!

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com.