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.

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.

2012 Predictions – Thanksgiving, “Double Dip” Edition

A bonus combo pack of picks for Thanksgiving.
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:

Detroit (+3.5) over Houston – One of the drawbacks of a handicapping contest is that if you want to select a Thursday game, all of your picks for the weekend must be submitted early. That obviously allows an additional 48 hours for a key player from a team you selected to go all “Stanley Wilson” or “Barret Robbins” and end up AWOL a couple nights before a game. Therefore, I generally stay away from the Thursday games unless there is a spot that is too good to pass.

That is the case with the Lions this week. I know, I know coaching is an issue, but isn’t Jim Schwartz Gary Kubiak, before Kubiak became the Kubiak we know laud over? Think about the Texans back before Wade Phillips, loads of talent, a fantasy cornucopia, but unable to finish most game, which left them the poster children for mediocrity. Sounds just like the 2012 Lions.

So, why do I feel so strongly the Lions are the play in this game? Well, for starters the line is 3.5, so unless the Lions are down a point and fail on 4th down deep in their own territory with precisely enough time for the Texans to run three plays, fail to make a first down and kick a covering field goal, we should be ok with the hook. In other words, the 3.5 makes this a value play.

In addition, the Texans fall into gambling rule #872 – never trust a team with a huge division lead, on the road, as a favorite, coming off an emotional overtime win against a team from the opposing conference, on a short week.

San Diego (+1.0) over Baltimore – Speaking of gambling rules, here is another (#409) – never trust a team traveling cross country in between games against a heated division rival when the line looks too good to be true. Oh, and the heated division rival happens to be the Steelers. The Ravens are just 5-10 ATS after Steelers games since 2004.

And if you think I am crazy to back Norv Turner and Jim Schwartz, thats nothing compared to what’s coming up. . .

Carolina (+2.5) over Philadelphia – That’s right fans, let’s throw Ron Rivera into this three team, “I was a great coordinator, but suck ass as a head coach” bad coaching parlay.

The gambling rule for this game is as follows (#95) – never back a soft team, that has clearly quit on their head coach, when said head coach has been spotted checking out real estate on the opposite coast, in any situation, period! The corollary to this rule is as follows, “if the game in question comes after a Thanksgiving feast where the head coach consumes enough food to feed a third world country, then triple the bet.” Poor money management scheme there, but I don’t write the rules, I just follow them.

Tampa Bay (+1.0) over Atlanta – Despite this being a division game, when the Falcons look in the rearview mirror they don’t see the Buccaneers old rusted “Buffalo Bill” beater of a van, they see a brand spanking new black and gold Maserati driven by Drew Bress and the hard charging, Joe Vitt led Saints. Therefore, this game falls into the “huge division lead” rule, as well as the “look ahead” rule (pretty standard top ten rule, #9, that states be wary of the team with a big game looming).

Also, one of my theories that I never have had the resources to prove but seems true is that NFL coaches will gladly accept a loss in a “lose the battle, but win the war” way. Given all the factors mentioned above, I can see Falcons coach Mike Smith and his staff mailing this game in an attempt to bring a good old fashioned swift ass kicking down on his team that they can then use as a re-focusing point of instruction. Sounds logical, right?

NY Giants (-3.0) over Green Bay – Green Bay has revenge on their minds as they travel to New York to face the defending champion Giants! You want to know what happened to the last team that had revenge on their minds when they played the defending Super Bowl champs? Well, it was Last season, when the Falcons took on these same Packers, the Pack romped. And that was in Atlanta.
Gambling rule #645 – “Revenge is over-rated!”

The “Thanksgiving Day” picks:

Dallas (-3.5) over Washington – The rule (#18) – “never, ever back the Cowboys at home as a favorite” is trumped by rule #491 – “No way in hell all three underdogs cover on Thanksgiving.”

RG III is amazing but let’s not get crazy here – he is still a rookie having to go on the road (albeit in the equivalent of a library), on a short week with the rookie wall rapidly approaching.

NY Jets (-7.0) over New England – This game is the equivalent of a younger brother, who almost never is able to beat his older brother in the annual Thanksgiving day game of one-on-one, getting a crack at the elder after recent knee surgery and a battle with the flu (why didn’t he get the mercury laced, population control flu shot that was made mandatory by his employer, you ask? Well, grasshopper, that is an entirely different column). If he can’t get him this time, when will he?

Bonus “Seven Out” Picks:

And here is a Thanksgiving day bonus, my first couple “Seven Out” losers:

Texas (-7.5) over TCU – Given the picks above it just didn’t seem right not to include Mack Brown, who is the college football equivalent of a “great coordinator, horrible head coach”, as he should absolutely be in the NCAA hall of fame, in the recruiter section, but would not sniff the HOF as a head coach, if the criteria went beyond “I won most of my games because my talent was so far superior, I couldn’t lose.” So, yeah, why not, let’s throw him and the perpetually under-achieving Longhorns into the Turkey day selections.

Iowa (+14.0) over Nebraska – Remember last week I wrote that I am snake-bit when picking the Huskers? So, I went with the total instead. I lost by a single point!

Why do it again? Well, the most important factor is motivation. For the Huskers it’s the “bigger fish to fry” syndrome. Yeah, they have to win, but one look at the Hawkeyes and the Huskers are like, “next!”

For the Hawkeyes, however, this is a self-created rivalry, their “big game”, their “season saver”, their “bowl game” and this is for the “Heroes Trophy.” Little hayseeds in Iowa grow up dreaming about hoisting the “Heroes Trophy” triumphantly above their heads after a stunning victory over the far superior rivals to the west.

Side note – effing “Heroes Trophy!” Really? Now if I was tasked with creating a cheesy B1G trophy for this annual pillow fight, I would have done much better than this meaningless “Heroes Trophy.” This is a conference that has games with trophies such as “Pual Bunyan’s Axe” and “Floyd of Rosedale.” Despite being hokey, those trophies are freaking sweet. It’s almost like Iowa decided on the whole “Heroes Trophy” thing because they were like, “we’ll never have it anyway, so let’s stick them with this hunk of junk.”

Pathetic!

I mean shouldn’t the Iowa/Nebraska trophy have something to do with beef? What about a gigantic wooden butchers knife, simply called “The Butchers Knife.” Think about it, Husker players could then, legally, do the throat slitting gesture. Or what about a giant golden cow, wait that’s already been, unsuccessfully, done. You could also go with the “Our Beef is Bigger than yours” trophy.

It would have even been more creative to simply lift the Iowa/Iowa State trophy name, “CyHawk” and go with “CornHole” or “CornHawk” or “CornEye.” If they choose that cheap way out, my favorite would be “Husker Hawk”, with the trophy being a mythological half Hawk, half Human dressed in overalls and sporting the gayest grin in history.

I half expect when Nebraska wins, but fails to cover, they accidentally leave the trophy in Iowa City. And when Iowa calls to inform them, Nebraska responds with, “ahh, you know what we will pick it up next time we come to Iowa City, in two years.”

Good luck this week, and Happy Thanksgiving!

NFL 2012 – Week 12 Predictions, “Not Buying it” 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:

Oakland (+4.5) over New Orleans – What does it take to be a road favorite by more than a field goal in the 2012 NFL? Well, it takes beating a “circling the drain” team and putting up a miraculous goal-line stand where the opposing team totally butchered not only the play calling but also the execution. NFL fans, I give you the 2012 New Orleans Saints.

What’s interesting is the Saints were -3.0 over Oakland in the preseason, when everyone thought the Raiders would be atrocious and the Saints were a Super Bowl contender, now the Saints are a shell of the preseason image and, true, the Raiders are atrocious, but somehow that warrants a 1.5 movement toward the Saints? Not buying it odds-makers.

San Diego (+7.5) over Denver – So, I am not 100% convinced on this Denver team quite yet, as I think they are the leading candidates for the annual “Winston Wolf, Let’s not start sucking each other’s [BEEP] yet” team. You know the team that looks too good to be true to start the season, has the fan base all-in on them but then falls off a cliff around week 12 taking the overzealous, un-realistic fans with them.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I thought last week was the spot for the Broncos to lose and they destroyed Carolina. So, this week is the spot, right? Well besides that, here are two more reasons why I like the Chargers this week:

  1. Every week there is at least one game that I will call the “teaser killer” game of the week, well every week except two weeks ago when every favorite, public loving team won and covered (goodness Vegas quit whining about it, I am pretty sure you get it all back and then some). Well, 0this week we have four “teaser” plays where you can essentially get the favorites down to a field goal or less. Play all four of those teams on a teaser and you can get roughly 2.5-1. Not bad considering you get a clearly better team in what amounts to a pick’em. Here are some quick stats to back-up that statement – only 7% of the overall games in the last three years have ended on either one or two points; furthermore, only 6% of favorites of more than a touchdown have landed less than a three point margin; and 86% of those teams have won outright.
  2. This is an absolute must-win for the Chargers. A loss here means the Bolts are, for all intents and purposes, doen for 2012 as they would be down four games with six to play. Factor in the Broncos have Northwest Montana twice (Kansas City) and the University of Maine (Oakland) as three of their remaining six games and the Chargers cannot lose this game if they have any designs on winning the division. The wildcard seems unlikely as well.

Cleveland (+7.5) over Dallas – What would be more “Dallas” than the Cowboys losing to Cleveland at home after a huge victory over the Eagles on the road? Yeah, that pretty much seems like the script for this team, especially with the big “Cowboys and Indians” Thanksgiving day game on the horizon. Personally, I think the Cowboys and Redskins game should be a Thanksgiving staple. And what would be better if in every one of those games there was some egregious call against the Redskins at the end of the game that cost them a win. That’s the Thanksgiving story from the Indians perspective, Pale Face!

This game also has the potential to be a “teaser killer” game and when you throw in the Cowboys are starting a three game home stand, the big national game mentioned above and the fact the Giants are circling the drain, the Boys have some hope at the division. It is conceivable that they will completely over-look this AFC team looking ahead to the two division match-ups on the horizon. So, give me that plus the fact the Browns have been competitive in just about every game this season and I believe the Browns are the right side.

Philadelphia (+3.5) over Washington – Washington is in a similar position to the Cowboys, big game looming on a short week. Here is a trend for you from one of the best sites on the web for a sports investor, sportdatabase.com – teams favored by more than 3, with a Thursday road game the following week playing at home are just 22-36 since 1989.

Perfect, so the Eagles have that going for them. In addition, the loss of Vick helps this team because it will (a), force Andy Reid to prepare and coach; (b). change the focus from the quarterback to the best player on the team, Shady McCoy; and (c). unify the team around the oldie, but seemingly insurmountable, mantra of “us against the world.”

Green Bay (-3.5) over Detroit – Hmm, ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth called Ndamakong Suh the third best DT on the Lions. Yeah, I bet Schlereth would have had no problem blocking him with that little weasel 260 lb body of his. Mark, leave the bashing of NFL players to the guys like me who never played in the NFL. Suh couldn’t give two craps about me talking junk about him, but with you, he is apt to hunt you down so he can deliver the patented “Suh Stomp” to your steroid enlarged head.

The Packers situation coming off a bye week and playing on the road as a favorite, this week has been a very profitable 76-46-2 or 62.3%. And since 2010, when the new practice rules for bye weeks went into effect, this situation is 10-3-1 or 76.9%. So, let me get this straight, I get a 75% trend and I get to bet against the Lions? Sign me up.


The “Apathy has set in” pick:

Arizona (+9.5) over Atlanta – The Falcons can go one of the following two ways – 1. Come out pissed off and drill the Cardinals; or 2. Realize that the division is practically wrapped up and now that the undefeated season cannot happen, come out flat and barely win. Three straight division games are up after this battle with the Cardinals, including a re-match with the Saints means the Falcons will likely come out flat. The Cardinals have some value on the money line as well.

The “Loser is out, uh, so is the winner” pick:

St. Louis (-3.5) over NY Jets – Let’s be honest neither of these teams is going anywhere this season, but you have to like the direction the Rams are headed as opposed to the Jets. In fact, this game is like two cars passing on the road, the Jets headed to “the Arena”, while the Rams are headed towards “the Power team.”
The reality for the Jets is they are much closer to Jack ‘Cap’ Rooney than Willie Beamen (Any Given Sunday), nevertheless they still collectively act like Beamen. In other words, Maverick, their ego’s are writing checks their talent level cannot cancel. This team is a complete train wreck.

So, what can the Jets do? Well, for starters they have to address the GM and coach, both need to be relieved of their duties. And for the naysayers who will point out the Jets are just two years removed from the second of two consecutive trips to the AFC championship, I will remind everyone of how they got there in the first place – a lot of good fortune.
Need proff? In 2009, the Colts laid down at halftime of a game they had well in hand essentially handing the Jets a victory that kept their playoff hopes alive. The following week Cincinnati no-showed as the Jets clinched a playoff berth.

The Jets were extremely fortunate to make the playoffs again in 2010, though the 2010 edition of the Jets was the best of the Ryan era by far. Remember the three game stretch of extreme luck for the Jets in that season? Let me remind you, beat the Lions in overtime when a Lions penalty keeps a drive alive and rallied from down 10 with less than five minutes to play; the following week the Jets beat Cleveland in overtime, when again the football gods smiled upon them as Chansi Stuckey fumbled after picking up a first down at the Jets 32; and the following week the Texans were up four with less than a minute to play but decided to give up the one thing the Jets needed to win the game, a deep pass, down the sideline no less.

The “I’ll have the turd a sandwich with a glass of urine” picks:

Houston (-14.5) over Jacksonville, Cincinnati (-3.5) over Kansas City – The first question you have to be asking is “Which team is the turd sandwich?” I am glad you asked. The Jags are definitely the turd sandwich. I know that might be surprisingly, considering I picked the Chiefs to win the division with 11 wins. One would think I would be madder than a “bobcat caught in a piss fire”, but shockingly I still believe there are more redeemable parts on the Chiefs. And we know that, while vile and disgusting, “It’s no slurpee” urine can at least sustain the body’s need for hydration. Outside of the bread, what value is a turd sandwich? The body has already considered it waste once, plus you don’t even get the digestive calorie burn because your intestines are like, “Wait, is that sh.., yeah it is! Boys we’ve got a day off!”

There is very little to like about the Jags. For starters, Gabbert is not the answer at quarterback, despite his comment stating that the Jags are, “. . .happy with their quarterback situation.” Uh, Blaine, get ready for the Tebow circus in 2013. Also, remember when every fantasy geek couldn’t get to the computer fast enough to pick up Rashard Jennings? And yet, four weeks in and the Jags steadfastly refuse to let anyone else carry the load despite Jennings yards per carry barely out-doing the collective GPA of the Kentucky Wildcats starting five. Therefore, either the backup to Jennings is the running back equivalent to Russ Bellomy (Michigan’s worthless back quarterback) or the Jags are determined to pay off those fantasy owners that blew their FAAB budget on Jennings. Even “can’t miss” rookie Justin Blackmon looks lost (I remember ripping the Rams for not only passing on RGIII but also allowing Blackmon to get away from them, glad I know less than Bill Polian’s mailman about talent evaluation).

The Jags have a don’t have simple path back from the abyss, but here is an option that might help – sell the team to the Magic Johnson led group, move the team to LA and, most importantly, change the nickname from Jaguars. You want to rid yourself of all that suck!

The path back for the Chiefs is much easier – fire GM Pioli, Crennel, his staff and start over at quarterback with either Geno Smith or Matt Barkley. The defense, when disciplined, can still play at a high level.

Remember, last week I swore to never, ever, ever, pick either the Chiefs or the Jags again this season.

The “Fool me once, your bad, fool 8 times . . .” picks:

Carolina (+1.5) over Tampa Bay – See New Orleans above. I am just not quite ready to buy Tampa as a road favorite; in fact since 1989 the Bucs are just 18-27-1 as road chalk. Therefore, I am giving Carolina one final shot with this ultimatum – win this week or I cast you into the Chiefs/Jags smorgasbord, they will be the “puke soup.”

The “Reason 1302 why I will not be playing fantasy football in 2013” pick:

New England (-9.5) over Indianapolis – So I heard all week how New England beats Indianapolis, but look for a back door cover by the Colts. OK, so if I logic this out based on that premise being true, then I have the following – the Patriots are going win and the Patriots are going to have the game covered at some point late in the game. I’m always nervous about a late game, backdoor cover against me, but I never play it that way. In fact since 1989, there have only been 35 games where a team favored 7.5 to 10 points has had a game covered after three quarters, failed to cover the final but won the game. So, it’s a bad bet if you don’t believe 1. That a team can win outright; or 2. A team will be within a single score the entire game.

I don’t believe Indy can win this game outright, plus the Pats need a great performance and Indy is due for a stinker. And I truly believe the Pats are up two scores for most of the game.

And I just traded for Andrew Luck this week, so you got that going for the Pats this week.

The “Backup quarterback bowls” picks:

Pittsburgh (+3.5) over Baltimore – If you happen to be a player on the Steelers not named Ben Roethlisberger would you have a chip on your shoulder since this line moved seven points once word came out that Big Ben was sitting out? I certainly would. And don’t rule out the impact of Roethlisberger being out in terms of the Ravens, there will be a certain amount of letdown by them and when coupled with the added focus by the Steelers, this is stealing money.

Look this game is always a battle, a la, “Zach v. C.J,” from the Battle of the Seasons in the “physical” challenge in the Arena this week. Side tangent – that was as good of a battle as you can get in reality TV. First off, I was overly impressed by the grittiness of C.J., until Zach mentioned that C.J. was a MMA fighter. After that it didn’t seem like as big of a deal, despite the fact Zach is like twice as big. Anyway, props to Zach, who once he out-thought C.J., he really had him at his mercy.

One more thing on C.J,, I love that he has the bible verses like Tebow on his eye black, but that had to create some serious conflicts for MTV, right? Like I can imagine prior to bringing C.J. on the show, they had him in and told him, “Look, we are fine with you putting the bible verses on your eye black and you can talk mention God a half dozen times or so, but one mention of Jesus and you’re done, we will erase you from all episodes.”

I think the Steelers show up with a gritty, C.J.-esque performance.

Chicago (+6.0) over San Francisco – This is way too many points for a team that relies on defense, special teams and is balancesd on offense, Cutler or no Cutler. It’s not like the Bears are handing the reins over to Caleb Hanie, this is a proven, moderately successful quarterback in Jason Campbell. It’s not fair to judge Campbell on the performance against the Texans where the weather was a joke, he had to come in off the bench and it was the Texans defense after all. With a full week of reps, he will be much better and give the Bears an opportunity to win.

Good luck this week.

2012 NFL – Week 09 Predictions, “Finally above the Mendoza Line” 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:

Seattle (-4.5) over Minnesota – It must be awesome to be a Vikings fan in 2012. Take a look at the image below:


The optimism axis is on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being, “Yeah, we are so effing winning the Super Bowl!” and 1 being, “Oh-Fer-Geez, we suck, eh!” Realistically, the Vikings optimism was a façade to begin with, as they have followed a distinct pattern of being a pretender which includes beating several bad teams with a single quality win just to throw off the pundits. Their defense was dominated poor offensive teams and Christian Ponder was getting a healthy amount of “fantasy” love. Opponents took note, made adjustments, and circled the game as a red letter game. Now the Vikings look lost.

The question is – will the completed season graph for the Vikings look like a roller coaster or a “Oh ya, ya know my teers locked up and went over the cliff.” Check the remaining schedule – Chicago twice, Green Bay twice, Houston, St, Louis and Detroit. Maybe two wins, maybe.

Pittsburgh (+3.0) over NY Giants – I have Hakeem Nicks on one of my fantasy teams this and I also happen to have a white Hakeem Nicks jersey. Needing a huge week out of Nicks last week, I decided to throw the #88 jersey to attempt to bring some good karma to Mr. Nicks. Plus, I enjoy wearing NFL jerseys as normal garb, the reactions always assume and entertain me. This particular day was no different as I was at the bank when one of the teller, er I mean banking specialist, asks me, “It’s that an Akeem Nicks jersey?” I turned to him with an incredulous smile, like, you’re kidding, correct, but I could tell he was serious. So, I wanted to mess with him, with something like, “No, it’s a Stevie Nicks jersey. I’m a huge Fleetwood Mac fan and this 88 jersey symbolizes their best year, 1988” or “Actually, it’s a Carl Nicks jersey, yeah, he lost 175 pounds, improved his 40 time to 4.58, got traded to NY and now plays receiver for the Giants.”

And why was he asking? “He better show up this weekend, I have him on my fantasy team.” And now you know that he is number 88, buddy. You can file that under #ThingsYouWouldntKnowBecuaseYourPrintedDraftListDoesntHavePlayerNumbers or “Reason #758 why I won’t play fantasy football in 2013.”


In terms of the game, do you trust the Giants as a favorite at home? Me neither.

Dallas (+4.0) over Atlanta – I could have done without Rob Ryan guaranteeing a victory after I made this pick. However, I will stick with it for three reasons – 1. Dallas rarely gets blown out, regardless of the situation; 2. Atlanta has been begging to lose for over a month now; and 3. I agree with Rob Ryan – I am guaranteeing a Cowboy victory as well.

Indianapolis (+2.5) over Miami – Wow, I guess beating the Jets gets you into “we can now give points on the road” territory. I feel like Indianapolis matches up really, really well with the Dolphins.

Oakland (-1.5) over Tampa Bay – This is a statement game for the 2012 Raiders, a statement in terms of are we for real or pretenders. They could not ask for anything more from the schedule makers, getting the Bucs at home after a long, long flight. The Bucs simply are not good on the west coast, 2-6 SU/ATS since 2003.

The “Rest of the Winners” picks:

Houston (-10.5) over Buffalo – The Texans have been a double digit favorite four times in the last two seasons. They are 3-0-1 in those four games. Plus, Buffalo isn’t exactly a “keep it close” type of team. Look for the Texans defense to suffocate the Bills, force at least three turnovers and use the aggression that the Bills will likely have on defense (because of the Mario Williams chatter this week) against them with mis-direction plays and more bootlegs than a Mississippian during prohibition. Of all the games this weekend, this one is likely the largest margin of victory, something like 34-7.

Jacksonville (+3.5) over Detroit – According to Blaine Gabbert the Jaguars are “quite happy with their quarterback.” Sweet, that is little like you the readers being happy with me as your college football totals consultant. It might not be that bad, but come on, Gabbert isn’t exactly lighting it up for the Jags. Still, the Jags have plenty of fight in them and if they Lions didn’t make the playoffs last year, there is no way they’re giving points on the road. The pre-season line for this game was 4.5; Jacksonville is at least what we thought they would be, but Detroit is significantly worse than expected, way, way more than a single point.

Philadelphia (+3.0) over New Orleans – Here we go:

  • I get the feeling that the Saints bounty players aren’t going to stop bitching about the NFL presiding “judge” until the NFL agree to let their mothers rule.
  • Speaking the bounty players, do you think about now Saints fans are actually hoping Vilma’s suspension is upheld? He has been horrible.
  • I have to give Andy Reid credit by sticking with Vick, in spite of the intense pressure to make the switch. He realized that if he goes with Foles against the Saints, he wouldn’t know what he had because of the suck that is the Saints defense.
  • Some national pundits believe the winner of this game will make the playoffs this year. Uh, ok. That’s not going to happen. Though I will grant you the loser of this game definitely will not make the playoffs

Carolina (+3.0) over Washington – This game feels like something will happen early where the score will get off a traditional track. And because I feel like the game will be a one or two point game.

Green Bay (-10.0) over Arizona – Remember when the Cardinals were 4-0? Yeah, that was fun! Now at 4-4, with the world against them this is where you would expect the unexpected from this team similar to what we witness in their week two win over the Pats. Here are three reasons why that is not going to happen – 1. The defense fueled much of that victory over the Patriots. The current state of the Cardinals defense is not close to that team, they’re tired and they lack faith that the offense can do anything; 2. The Packers had a close call last week that should wake them up to the reality that on any given Sunday. . .; and 3. The NFC underdogs that were sporting a 34-4 record through week 6, is now just 39-14-1 or 5-10-1 over the last two weeks. There are six NFC underdogs this week, I fully expect no better than 3-3 and I already three games I like better – Carolina, Dallas and Philly. It’s a numbers game.

Denver (-5.0) over Cincinnati – I hate laying 5 points here, but this Bengals team has given me no choice. I wanted to believe that Marvin Lewis would be successful this season despite the terabyte of data telling he would not. I’ve backed them too many times this season, only to see them crap the bed. Never again!

Baltimore (-3.5) over Cleveland – The sucker bet of the week, and yes I am biting. Here is the deal the Ravens crawled to their bye week after playing that brutal stretch of four games in 22 days. Now what we saw out of the Ravens prior to the bye is what is driving this line, not the relative strength of the two teams. I fully expect a rested Ravens team to maul the Browns.

Tennessee (+4.0) over Chicago – The Bears are another NFC team that has been begging to lose for the last couple of weeks.

Last week against the Panthers, Jay Cutler had just 84 yards passing through three quarters. 84! How could the Panthers anemic secondary limit Cutler to such a paltry total?

Good luck this week. And rememberColin Wynner call the winners!