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.

Calling the 2011 NFL Season Wins!!

The great thing about the NFL is that it is a league that is completely predictable. That’s right despite what you might think, the NFL is predictable, in fact so much so that it is almost eerie. Need proof, take the following numbers into consideration:

Season

Home Wins

Playoff Teams

+/- 4 Wins

2010

143

8

13

2009

146

6

13

2008

146

7

12

2007

147

6

10

 

Based on the data above we can be fairly certain of a few things for the 2011 season – 1. The home teams will win somewhere between 144-146 games; 2. We will have at least 6 new playoff teams; and 3. There will be at least 12 teams that have a difference of wins from 2010 of four or more.

Now based on the above data one would agree that the NFL is predictable, however, the big catch is that while being predictable at the summary level, it is capriciously un-predictable at the detail level. Yup, that’s the problem. Unfortunately, I cannot make a wager that there will be six new playoff teams; I actually have to figure out the specific teams and make the wagers accordingly!

Armed with a wealth of data at my finger tips, I set out to do a more thorough job of predicting the season win totals for every single team using the following parameters:

  1. Six 2010 teams will not be back in the playoffs in 2011. That might be a bit low but that should be safe.
  2. 12 2010 teams will have a difference of wins equal to +/- 4. That seems like the right number. In addition, my numbers tell me that at least two teams will have +/- 6 wins category, 3-4 teams will be in the +/- 5 wins range. Also, based on the data, more teams that fall into the plus range than the minus range. Therefore, I decided that I will have 7 “plus” teams and 5 “minus” teams. Of the 7 plus teams, 4 will be +4, 2 at +5 and 1 at +6. On the minus side, I have 2 at -4, 2 at -5 and 1 at -6.
  3. Home teams will win 146 games.

Steps to essentially back into the predictions:

  1. Predict the six teams that will not return to the playoffs
  2. Determine the win difference teams on both the plus and minus sides. This is much easier than one would think. First off, you can throw out any record that would cause a team to go over 16 wins or under 0 wins. Next, since the likelihood of 0, 1, 15 or 16 wins is about once every third season, I will eliminate those records as well. Then 14 win seasons happen about once a season, so I will allow one 14-2 team, but no 2-14 teams. After applying that logic, the list of candidates is reduced dramatically.
  3. Apply wins and losses to the teams identified in step 2.
  4. Apply wins and losses to the remaining teams.
  5. Normalize home wins to 146
  6. Final sweep to make sure I have followed the rules and fix teams that are seem slightly “off”. We call this step “Colin’s personal touch”. Yup, this is where the whole thing goes up in smoke!

Step 1:

Determine2010 playoff teams that will not return, in order of confidence:

  1. Seattle (99.99% they are out of the 2011 playoffs) – Pete Carroll thinks he is still in college with roster turnover representing graduation. And two words – Tavaris. Jackson.
  2. Indianapolis (95%) – This is the equivalent of the one foot tap-in, a gimmie! But Colin, you respond, the Pats without Tom Brady almost made the playoffs in 2008. True, but the Colts aren’t the Patriots as they have more holes than Tony Montana at the end of Scarface. Further, Caldwell has a deer in the headlights look when Peyton is whispering in his ear, “Don’t worry, I got this”, I imagine this year the Colts might want to employee someone whose only job is to make sure Caldwell is still breathing on the sideline.
  3. Kansas City (75%) – Still in the gimmie range, but tougher because you just never know about San Diego, however, I expect Denver will be tougher to offset a Charger implosion, Kansas City is one of those teams that benefitted from a weak schedule, playing teams at the right time and a lucky breaks that turned losses into wins. You know what – that almost never happens in back-to-back seasons. And the schedule is much, much tougher this season.
  4. Chicago (70%) – A more of a three-foot, knee knocker for 5 skins, but no team was luckier than the Bears last season. Change two plays last year – 1. Give Calvin Johnson what was rightfully his, a touchdown in week one; and 2. Remove James Jones fumble in week three – and the Bears would have been 9-7. Throw in they got Buffalo in Toronto, eh, and caught the Dolphins in the middle of a quarterback crisis and those NFC Championship participants are sitting out the playoffs out last season.
  5. Atlanta (35%) – Now it gets tough. And leaving the Falcons out is blasphemy to most ardent football fans. Someone has to go, we know that, so it might as well be the Falcons, who are not as good as the Saints or Eagles. Plus, look at their 2010 season, they had a considerable amount of good fortune – a. The first New Orleans game where the Saints missed a game-winning 35 yard field goal; b. the improbable win against the 49ers; and c. both wins against the Bucs were crazy lucky. They will be good, but reverse fortunes in four games and that is enough to keep them home.
  6. New York Jets (20%) – If we flashback to week 16 of the 2009 season, and instead of forgoing an undefeated season by resting their starters, the Colts play to win the game, the Jets don’t make the playoffs. Good fortune, right? It’s almost unprecedented, but last season the Jets continued their run of luck, especially true in four games of extreme good fortune – 1. Denver, the game ending pass interference call; 2. Detroit, when Julian Peterson commits the personal foul that allows the Jets to kick a game tying field goal; 3. The Cleveland game when Chansi Stuckey (possible imbedded Jet?) fumbles when the Browns would have had a first down in field goal range; and 4. The Houston game where the Texans inexplicably failed to cover Braylon Edwards deep down the sideline, despite that being the only way the Jets could win the game. That’s a lot of good fortune that has gone their way over the last two seasons. I expect it to end this season. The JETS are out.

Step 2:

Determine the 12 2010 teams that will have +/- 4 wins this season:

On the “plus” side (7 teams):

  1. Houston (12-4, +6) – Gulp! My plus 6 team is the Texans, gulp! Yes, the aforementioned team that blew a game by allowing a receiver to run free deep down the sideline. No worries though, Wade Phillips is here to save the day. Gulp! OK, here is the deal – it’s no secret that the Texans have 12-win talent, the Colts are without Peyton, the Jaguars ready to move to LA and draft Andrew Luck and the Titans are, well, meh! This is the most logical team to make that this type of leap. That’s it – logic!
  2. Detroit (11-5, +5) – The bandwagon teams never seem to pan out; you know the ones with all the hype in the pre-season as “the surprise team” and “the this is their year team”. Think about it, last season it was the 49ers and we know how that ended. The season before it was the 49ers and they failed to meet those expectations. In 2008 it was the 49ers, hang on, forget all that, maybe it’s the 49ers. Plus, in the middle of last season, I called the 2011 NFC championship would be the Lions @ St. Louis, so I have to stick with my original prediction.
  3. Dallas (11-5, +5) – Loads of talent, better coaching and more favorable schedule. Add it all up, throw it some better fortune and the Pokes are +5.
  4. St. Louis (11-5, +4) – There are six very losable games in the first seven weeks, but I have a good feeling about this team. Nothing more than that, it just feels like they are ready to make that move from mediocre to playoff factor. You know kind of like the “due” theory, uh oh!
  5. San Diego (13-3, +4) – This list is filled with perennial under-achievers. San Diego is the president of that club, but if they can get off to a decent start they will roll to an easy 13 wins in a very weak division.
  6. Cleveland (9-4, +4) – I love Colt McCoy, well the post-Texas version at least. This is a very solid team and good compete for a division if the Steelers falter. By my count they lost four games last season that teams normally win.
  7. Denver (8-8, +4) – This is all about John Fox, a great coach who basically needed a change from Carolina. If San Diego falters in any way, this is the team in the NFC West that will be a surprise division champ.

On the “minus” side (5 teams):

  1. Kansas City (4-12, -6) – We already know they’re not going back to the playoffs, so we know they won’t finish any better than 8-8. Throw in the tougher schedule which knocks them down another two losses. They won’t sweep Denver (one more loss) and they won’t beat San Diego (one). Of course, they will get one of the games back against Oakland, but still I need a -6, they’re it.
  2. Chicago (6-10, -5) – Six wins seems about right for them, though if Lovie gets the hook at mid-year and Martz takes over, flip them with KC and make both teams 5-11. Yeah Martz sucks that bad!
  3. Jacksonville (3-13, -5) – And I had to struggle to find three wins. The Los Angeles Jaguars are now on the clock.
  4. Atlanta (9-7, -4) – Mentioned above. The defense is terrible. They added Julio Jones, but unless he can play corner the Falcons are going to be a lot of shootouts this season.
  5. Oakland (4-12, -4) – I flip-flopped on this one. First I had them lucky to win two games, then I talked with my buddy, who I would consider a very realistic Raider fan, and he told me that no doubt the Raiders would be “at least 9-7”. That forced me to go back to the numbers. When I did, I eventually came back to my original assessment – losing Nnamdi doesn’t improve this team (a no brainer, right?), in fact, I think it makes them significantly worse (look at me, turning into Eric Dickerson as you read this, how about this for information – “Arizona in August is very hot , back to you Al”). There are very few corners that have earned 9th level wizard status, aka lockdown corner, i.e., a team will ignore said corners half of the field. So, losing Nnamdi opens up the entire field to opponents. That isn’t good. And they lost Zach Miller, they’re most reliable pass catching threat and replaced him with Kevin Boss, who isn’t a pass catching threat. And finally, they didn’t re-up Tom Cable, right when Cable had something working in Oak-town. Makes sense, right? You haven’t sniffed .500 since 2002, so instead of rewarding the coach, you let him walk for a guy named Hue. Don’t get me wrong, I love that move, not for football reasons but because it brings “eff-Hue” into play on a weekly basis.

Here are the 2011 official NFL Standings complete with record, division/conference/Super Bowl odds, season win total:

AFC East

Colin’s Prediction

Las Vegas Hilton

Rank

Team

W

L

Div

Conf

SB

Wins

Ov

Un

1

New England

13

3

-180

225

450

11.5

100

-120

2

NY Jets

9

7

175

500

1200

10

100

-120

3

Miami

6

10

800

3000

6000

7.5

100

-120

4

Buffalo

5

11

2500

10000

20000

5.5

-135

115

 

AFC North

Colin’s Prediction

Las Vegas Hilton

Rank

Team

W

L

Div

Conf

SB

Wins

Ov

Un

1

Pittsburgh

12

4

-150

350

800

10.5

-115

-105

2

Cleveland

9

7

1000

3000

6000

7

-110

-110

3

Baltimore

9

7

130

700

1500

10

-120

100

4

Cincinnati

5

11

2800

10000

20000

5.5

130

-150

 

AFC South

Colin’s Prediction

Las Vegas Hilton

Rank

Team

W

L

Div

Conf

SB

Wins

Ov

Un

1

Houston

12

4

OFF

1100

2500

9

-150

130

2

Tennessee

8

8

OFF

5000

10000

6.5

-120

100

3

Indianapolis

5

11

OFF

1100

2500

OFF

OFF

OFF

4

Jacksonville

3

13

OFF

5000

10000

6.5

100

-120

 

AFC West

Colin’s Prediction

Las Vegas Hilton

Rank

Team

W

L

Div

Conf

SB

Wins

Ov

Un

1

San Diego

13

3

-400

450

1000

10.5

-130

110

2

Denver

8

8

800

3500

7500

6

-120

100

3

Oakland

4

12

700

3500

7500

6.5

110

-130

4

Kansas City

4

12

700

2500

5000

OFF

OFF

OFF

 

NFC East

Colin’s Prediction

Las Vegas Hilton

Rank

Team

W

L

Div

Conf

SB

Wins

Ov

Un

1

Dallas

11

5

300

900

2000

9

115

-135

2

Philadelphia

10

6

-175

350

800

10.5

-150

130

3

Washington

8

8

2200

5000

10000

6

-120

100

4

NY Giants

7

9

350

1500

3000

9

100

-120

 

NFC North

Colin’s Prediction

Las Vegas Hilton

Rank

Team

W

L

Div

Conf

SB

Wins

Ov

Un

1

Green Bay

12

4

-325

225

500

11.5

135

-155

2

Detroit

11

5

400

1200

2500

8

-160

140

3

Chicago

6

10

800

2500

5000

8

120

-140

4

Minnesota

6

10

1200

2000

4000

7

-120

100

 

NFC South

Colin’s Prediction

Las Vegas Hilton

Rank

Team

W

L

Div

Conf

SB

Wins

Ov

Un

1

New Orleans

12

4

-120

500

2000

10

-160

140

2

Atlanta

9

7

130

700

800

10

-110

-110

3

Tampa Bay

8

8

600

1500

3000

8

120

-140

4

Carolina

3

13

3000

15000

30000

4.5

-110

-110

 

NFC West

Colin’s Prediction

Las Vegas Hilton

Rank

Team

W

L

Div

Conf

SB

Wins

Ov

Un

1

St. Louis

11

5

160

2000

4000

7.5

-110

-110

2

Arizona

7

9

200

2500

5000

7.5

-110

-110

3

Seattle

5

11

900

5000

10000

6

135

-155

4

San Francisco

5

11

200

3000

6000

7.5

130

-150

 

A couple interesting notes on the futures

  • Chicago is 8-1 to win division, but 25-1 and 50-1 for conference and Super Bowl, while Minnesota is 12-1 to win division but 20-1 and 40-1 for NFC and Super Bowl. Does that mean that the books think it is more likely that Donovan McNabb can lead a team to the conference championship via the road than Jay Cutler? I imagine Culter’s family started the warm bath water and pulled blade out of the razor at reading that comment.
  • Tampa Bay is 15-1, 30-1 as the projected third best team in the NFC South, yet the projected winner of the NFC West is 20-1, 40-1. While the NFC West may be a joke, they get a home playoff game in a (outside of San Francisco) tough place to play. Oh, by the way, the last three seasons the NFC West winner has knocked off the best wildcard team in the playoffs.

Playoff predictions:

AFC:

Wildcard RoundPittsburgh over Baltimore and Houston over Cleveland

Divisional RoundNew England over Houston and San Diego over Pittsburgh (hey at least New England can finally win a playoff game, possibly putting the curse of Asante Samuel to rest)

AFC ChampionshipSan Diego over New England

 

NFC:

 

Wildcard Round Detroit over St. Louis (the streak is over, see the bookies know what they’re doing) and Philadelphia over Dallas

Divisional Round Green Bay over Philadelphia and New Orleans over Detroit

NFC ChampionshipGreen Bay over New Orleans

 

Super Bowl XLVI – San Diego over Green Bay

And the big question is – can Norv Turner lift the Lombardi trophy without help?

Finally, I am taking 20% ($2000) of my bankroll to place on futures, here are those bets:

  • Houston over 9 wins – $300 to win $200, I hate laying that kind of juice but there doesn’t seem to be any possible way the Texans don’t win at least 9 games (look at those last four lines – San Diego to win a Super Bowl and a Houston prediction that states they cannot win less than 9 games, I am crazy!)
  • Jacksonville under 6.5 – $240 to win $200 – They are on the clock. . .
  • San Diego over 10.5 – $260 to win $200
  • San Diego to win AFC and Super Bowl, $100 on each
  • Dallas to win NFC East, $100 to win $300
  • Detroit over 8 wins – $320 to win $200
  • Detroit to win NFC North – $100 to win $400, to win NFC and Super Bowl, $100 each
  • St. Louis over 7.5 wins – $220 to win $200, to win NFC and Super Bowl, $100 each

Enjoy football and remember Colin Wynner calls the winners!