NFL 2012 – Week 20, “Conference Championship” Edition

I love being on the opposite end of a two point game where I am laying 2.5 points, it really warms my heart.

Here is the back of the Colin Wynner, Handicapper player card update with 2012 stats:
Career Playoff Record (1995-2012): 105-85-5
Wildcard Round: 40-31-1
Divisional Round: 38-32-2
Championship Round: 19-15
Super Bowl: 8-7-2

Playoff Best: 7-3-1 (2001)

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

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

Baltimore @ New England (-8.0)

Interesting Sub-Plot: The possibility of God intervening on behalf of the Ravens. As Ray Lewis himself told the freezing, “get me the eff out of here” Solomon Wilcots after the Ravens victory over the Broncos, “No weapon forged against you shall prosper. . .” {hugs Peyton Manning}, “No weapon, no weapon, God is amazing and when believe in Him, man believes in possible, God believes in the impossible. . .” I guess, loosely translated, that means that no one thought it was possible for the Ravens to win in Denver and God showed them!

All kidding aside, there might be something to this divine intervention theory. Think about what had to happen for the Ravens to escape with a victory – a. the oldest defense in the NFL playing on short rest and approaching close to a combined 200 plays in two weeks, yet somehow made several key stops in overtime; b. how many times to do see a defensive back with deep responsibility take such a poor route to the ball and then mis-time his jump? Never or rarely. It’s almost as if the ball changed paths at the last second and Rahim Moore got a slight push in the back as he leaped, hmmm; (c.) the fire-able move by John Fox to take a knee with 31 seconds and two timeouts left, as if his mind was suddenly frozen, hmmm; and (d.) the pick by Manning, where the entire left side of the field was vacated, yet P-dog choose to run into the defensive penetration and then throw a pass that in comparison to a throw by an 8-years girl, would have made the girl’s pass look like it was fired by Tom Brady.

Is God on Ray Lewis’ side? Maybe. But I think the better question would be – Is God against the opponent of Ray Lewis? Right, remember “no weapon forged against you will prevail . . .” Maybe God punished the citizens of the Colorado by having their beloved Broncos lose, for their egregious decision to legalize marijuana. And we know that those radical New Englanders have passed many of laws that might not have in alignment with the Big Man upstairs. Advantage Rayvens!

Teenage girl logic: I love the way people from Boston talk. So, in my best Boston accent, here is how I see this game playing out – “Look, ya bastaards, it’s going to be a real pissah for ya come the marnang, when you wake up with banger to find out ya beloved Paats got tha wicked shit kicked out of ’em.”

Trending: The Patriots are 13-5 ATS in their last 18 games when playing a team after losing the previous matchup.

The Ravens will cover if: Their defense has enough left in the tank to play a full four quarters. This is the first time since 1991 that a team will play a game after facing 87 or more plays on consecutive weeks.

The Patriots will cover if: They show up, right, I mean this is the greatest team in the history of the world, with the greatest quarterback on Earth and coached by the best coach, field general since the inception of time. They just need to make it to the field on time.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner:  We were two plays away from an exhilarating, infinitely more enjoyable conference championship Sunday. Come on, admit it, Manning v. Brady, Broncos v. Patriots was “can’t miss” football. Throw in the intrigue of the Seahawks v. 49ers III and it was a “honey, I don’t think I am going to make it to the kids soccer game” kind of day. Thanks to the divine intervention play and the Seahawks celebrating a little early we now are facing possibly the worst conference championship Sunday since 2005. That year featured the Steelers v. Broncos, a game that had all the excitement of a Lance Armstrong interview, and the Seahawks v. Panthers, a game where the Panthers ran out gas, and were promptly run out of the Qwest field.

I can see this game being a lot like that 2005 Seahawks/Panthers tilt. The 2012 Ravens are a mirror image of those 2005 Panthers in a bunch of ways. Both faltered down the stretch, thus limping into the playoffs, yet both got hot by winning a couple of playoff games, including a huge road upset in the divisional round. If you remember, Steve Smith was un-coverable for those first two playoff games, amassing 4 touchdowns and 22 receptions for 306 yards. While the Ravens have not had a Steve Smith, they have had a receiver step up in each game, against the Colts Anquan Boldin put the team on his shoulders, while Torrey Smith was virtually un-coverable by the ghost of Champ Bailey last weekend.

What’s it all mean? Well, that 2005 Panthers literally ran out of gas against the Seahawks, a rested, focused bunch. The Patriots are in a similar situation as they barely broke a sweat last week in dispatching the over-matched, over-rated, under-achieving Texans.

And guess what? The world is on the Ravens, forcing the odds-makers top drop the line to from 9.5 to 8; that movement is laughable as a drop from 9.5 to 8 is statistically unlikely to factor into the outcome of this game, as just two of out 264 games played in 2012 season ended on a nine point margin. An eight point margin has a slightly higher probability of hitting with 11 games such games ending there. Still, there is less than a 1% chance that getting 9.5 is going to be the difference between cashing or not and just over a 4% chance that an investors will avoid the dreaded push. No that movement is all to get into psyche of the sports investor. I’ve mentioned it before that while all sports investors primary motivation is to win, a secondary motivation is to be on the “sharp” side. This movement reeks of “sharps” hammering the Ravens and the investor doing whatever they can, including but limited to the following blood doping, HGH, testosterone, to get to the top of the “sharp” mountain. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the so-called “sharps” are pumping the Ravens early and often in hopes to get a better number to lay on the Patriots. Unless, of course, you believe and trust everything that comes out of a “sharp.”

With the world on the Ravens, let’s look at the case for the Pats – 1. the aforementioned 174 plays by the Baltimore defense over the last two weeks, that could equate to almost three regular season games. In addition, a high percentage of those plays are high leverage. Oh and have I mentioned that the Ravens defense is one of the oldest in the NFL?; 2. Everyone points to last year’s game as the reason the Ravens will be close, with a chance to pull off the upset in this game. Remember thought that the Ravens had a bye last year and won a home game before traveling to Foxboro. In fact, the last time the Ravens were in this situation was in 2008, they were beaten soundly by the Steelers, a game where the Ravens defense four years younger.; 3. The Pats up tempo offense is tough to stop, and Brady is awesome, but the Pats key to rolling in this game is dynamic duo of Verren and Ridley . Those guys play every play like they are competing for more playing time, and can’t you see Belichick telling each of them, “Well, we will just have to see how things play out today” in terms of their playing time. By kickoff each guy is like a rabid dog; and 4. Flacco is now at “elite” status because Boldin took over the Colts game and he completed three hail-mary passes against the Broncos. Uh, ok. In my book, still shaky, on the road, remember my rules. . .

New England 34 Baltimore 23

San Francisco (-4.0) @ Atlanta

Interesting Sub-Plot: What will Mike Smith do next? Dude looks, and acts, like he is in way over his head. Let’s totally forget about the pathetic, “playing not lose” play-calling late in that game and strictly focus of three egregiously bad decisions. First off, why did Smith choose to kick the extra point not once, but twice with very little time remaining the third quarter? The Seahawks jumped offside twice, which means the Falcons could have tried a two point attempt from the half yard line. I guess Smith adheres to the old adage,”Don’t go for two, until the 4th quarter.” Goodness that type of thinking is so Musbergerian.

The second flub by Mr. Smith was then he decides to burn his final timeout with 13 seconds left, which in and of itself would have been fine if the Falcons were not going to attempt a field goal on the next play, therefore, why leave 13 seconds on the clock? So the Seahawks can run a couple of plays? Great thinking there Mensa boy. The most humorous part of this was the way Smith sprinted down the sideline to get the timeout, he even breathed a sigh of relief, like “whew, I got there, I got the timeout.”

Finally, the onside/squib kick that gave the Seahawks the ball at their own 46 yard line with enough time for two plays. Too bad the Seahawks lost their kicker, Steven Hauschka to a strained calf a week earlier, because he has the leg to connect from well beyond 55. This might not have been Smith’s fault but really isn’t every play ultimately the coach’s responsibility.

Teenage girl logic: San Francisco seems like a cool city, it’s in California, so it has to be somewhat cool, right? Whereas, Atlanta seems really boring to me. Where is Atlanta? In Georgia? Where is Georgia? Is that even in America? I learned about Georgia in world geography class and I think it’s in Eurasia or something. Why on earth would they play this game in Eurasia? That’s just stupid. Anyway, I picked the 49ers to win the Super Bowl before the playoffs began, so duh, this is an easy win for them!

Trending: The team winning the high scoring divisional round game is 1-12-1 ATS in the conference championship game.

The 49ers will cover if: They don’t dig a deep hole like the Seahawks did a week ago. The 49ers are a team built to play from ahead or at least within a score of their opponent. And even though they have been very explosive under Kaepernick, they are not good catch-up team on either side of the ball.

The Falcons will cover if: They get out to a fast start, get the crowd involved and then keep their foot on the pedal. Despite the comeback last week, this team’s psyche is still fragile as is their fans, believe me the first sign of trouble for them and the Georgia Dome will be as silent as Manti Te’o has been this week amid rumors that he concocted a fake girl friend.


Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: The “sharps” are selling the idea that this is just too much “value” to pass on the Falcons. Ok, but you know what else is an extremely good value? The three week old bread rack at your local supermarket. That’s great value for a loaf of bread, in fact, practically free, but good luck choking it down without slathering on the butter mask the moldy, stale taste. But once you’ve used an excess of butter, the value is sucked out. Again this might be another case of the “sharps” either attempting a very tempting middle -3 on SF and +4.5 on Atlanta.

I so agree that the public is over-valuing the 49ers. It’s not all that close either, case in point the Falcons closed last week as 2.5 point favorites, after opening around a point to a point in a half favorites. If we use the low end opening number for a comparison of the Falcons and Seahawks, we would get the Seahawks graded two points better than Atlanta. After the Seahawks took the lead last Sunday, a bookmaker posted their NFC Championship game line at the 49ers -4 over Seattle. Meaning the 49ers grade out a roughly a point better than the ‘Hawks and three points better than Atlanta. That should put this line at a “pick.” Granted, the margin of error in this example is significant, but not four points worth. So, yes, there is great value on the Falcons.

But you go ahead and back the Falcons. And then sit back watching the following – 1. Mike Smith looking constipated. Believe me is hard enough to coach in the NFL playoffs when you’re regular; 2. Matty Ice being Matty Ice. He completed two desperation passes when the Seahawks essentially were thinking about the big celebration they were about to have in the locker room. Sorry, that game was only close because he and Smithy-poo got tight late. So, yeah, he hasn’t proved anything to me yet.; and 3. 70,000 fans thinking, and waiting for, something to go wrong. Let’s face this Atlanta bunch is somewhat apathetic to begin with, but put them through the Braves repeated playoff failures, the Michael Vick fiasco, the Petrino fiasco, the 2008 playoffs (game turned on a Michael Turner fumble that was returned for a touchdown), the 2010 playoffs (the Packers obliterated them with a lasting memory the Tramon Williams pick-6 off a Matty Ice, back footed, weak out pass) and the 2011 playoffs (where they failed a zillion times on fourth and one and were rung up by the Giants) and this group is more uptight, fidgety and pessimistic than Jesse Pinkman. Tell me you couldn’t show up at the Georgia Dome Sunday afternoon to successfully study for the MCAT test if the 49ers take the opening possession for a touchdown, followed by a Falcons three and out that includes a short armed, bounced ball to a wide open receiver by Ryan, then tack on three more points on an another 49ers scoring drive and then top it off with a tipped pass that is picked and returned for six points. 17-0 49ers, Falcons fans will be finding their “happy place.”

San Francisco 27 Atlanta 20
I just threw on my “Joe Public” sweater vest, yup, I am a square! Good luck this weekend!

NFL 2012 – Divisional Playoff Predictions, “Sunday” Edition

I knew I was in trouble in that Packers/49ers game when I ran into one of my kids soccer teammates dad who is a huge Packers fan. Dude was decked out in high end Packers gear and when asked, “How are you feeling about tonight?” His reply, “Totally confident! Kaepernick is very beatable and it’s his first real test.” Uh, how that turn out for you?
So I suck at calling primetime playoff games. Good thing neither of these games are in primetime. On to the Sunday picks.

Here is the back of the Colin Wynner, Handicapper player card update with 2012 stats:
Career Playoff Record (1995-2012): 103-83-5
Wildcard Round: 40-31-1
Divisional Round: 36-30-2
Championship Round: 19-15
Super Bowl: 8-7-2

Playoff Best: 7-3-1 (2001)

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


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

Seattle @ Atlanta (-2.5)

Interesting Sub-Plot: Matty “Ice” Ryan with his 0-3 playoff record facing a team with a monster defense. Guess what Super Bowl winning quarterback was once 0-3 in his playoff career? Yup, you got it, Saturday’s playoff goat, Peyton Manning! Ok, so maybe it’s not the best comparison when attempting to build up Ryan, but still Manning has won a Super Bowl, Matty has a chance this year. Slim, slim chance but nonetheless a chance.

Teenage girl logic: Seahawks are like a evolutionary freak, a sea creature that can fly. That’s weird. While the Falcons are a normal bird in the sense that they fly and live in the normal atmosphere not underwater. The Seahawks are creepers, I hate creepers that stare at you and your privates – oooohhhh, gross, go Falcons!

Trending:  1. Home playoffs teams favored by 3 or less points are just 8-13* ATS since 2002 (updated as of 1/12/2013); and 2. The Seahawks are 4-11 ATS since 2002 after a game where they covered the spread by a touchdown after trailing at the end of the first quarter; just 1-4 ATS in the Pete Carroll era.

The Seahawks will cover if: They can weather the Falcons crowd and storm early in the game. Believe me, it won’t take much to take this Atlanta crowd out of the game, in fact at the first sign of trouble the Georgia Dome will sound like a library.

The Falcons will cover if: The Falcons defense can keep Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch in check. It would be easy to put this game on Matty Ice, but the Falcons defense is really the key here, they have to be able to get off the field on third downs.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: Here is an interesting fact about falcons – they are able to fly at heights well above their prey but when ready to pursue they go into an amazing dive. Hmmm, interesting that the falcon and the Falcons seem to be the same. Both are able to fly high above their prey (regular season), but when they are ready to pursue (the Lombardi) they go into an amazing dive. Very interesting!

Up until this week, I fully expected them to take a dive again, in fact, I stated more than a few times that “I couldn’t wait to bet against this team in the playoffs,” but for this week, this one game, this specific moment in time I believe the Falcons will find a way to win this game. I cannot deny that on paper the Seahawks are a significantly better team, that they present matchup problems for the Falcons, in a league all about matchups and have a significant special teams advantage.

But here is my logic on the Falcons – 1. It feels like the spot for them and if they have any pride at all, they have to be ready to explode after hearing about how they cannot win a playoff game, they are the weakest 13 win team since their 2010 team and that the Seahawks are that much better than them; 2. On the flip side, it feels like the spot for the Seahawks to be a little flat, they have had an amazing run of domination mixed in with highly emotional performances. At some point doesn’t that have to catch up with a team and they lay a stinker?; and 3. It’s a 10AM PDT kickoff for the Seahawks on back-to-back east coast trips. Uh, that’s not good.

Bottom line – The best bet in this game is the Falcons -0.5 in the first quarter. Really that first quarter is going to tell us all we need to know about this game, if the Falcons don’t jump the Seahawks early, get a lead and get the crowd fully engaged, then they will allow ghosts of playoff past to creep into the building. If that happens, we can hang a nice “0-4” on Matty Ice’s resume. Not. Going. To. Happen. Not. Today. Not. This. Time.

Atlanta 31 Seattle 14 (4 Stars)

Houston @ New England (-9.5)

Interesting Sub-Plot: If you happen to be born into a Patriots family and by default you are a Patriots fan but your year of birth was, let’s say, 2002 or later, you most likely have known nothing but football heartache. I mean unless at the age of one you were some child prodigy who was banging out musical compositions that would make Mozart look like he was playing on a PlaySkool mini-piano, then you have no recollection of the Pats winning their last Super Bowl in 2004. Actually, it’s quite the contrary for those poor souls, who have a yearly ritual of asking pops, while sobbing profusely, “when dad, when will the Patriots finally win a Super Bowl?”

Teenage girl logic: I really despise the Texans because I hate Cowboys and I hate people who have that ridiculous “Don’t mess with Texas” bumper sticker. What does that even mean – “Don’t mess with Texas?” You can’t mess with a state anyway. That is so stupid. Screw the “don’t mess with the Texans,” the Patriots are going to mess with you big time!

Trending: Teams that covered a regular season matchup by 10 or more points are just 4-10* ATS in the playoff matchup (updated as of 1/12/2013).

The Texans will cover if: Matt Schaub can avoid the back breaking mistakes that he seems so adept at making. Think about how the game looks last week if Schaub doesn’t keep the Bengals around with that horrible pick-6 or if he can find a way to convert in the red zone. Blowout city, right? And let’s flash back to the 1st Patriots game when the Texans were driving, down at the time just 7-0, and Schaub is baited into a horrible end zone interception. Five plays after that pick, game ovah!

The Patriots will cover if: They don’t miss kickoff! Right, I mean this is team has really, really shown the world that not only can they put up big numbers but they can play great defense as well. Well, with the exception of that total statistical anomaly in the San Francisco game, where the 49ers hung 41 on them. But that doesn’t count when evaluating this juggernaut. Their mere presence should be enough to cover this spread.


Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: There is a great temptation on my part to bang the Pats given that we have already seen the “major divisional round” upset with the Ravens taking out the Broncos. But let’s try to make a case for the Texans – 1. The Patriots were probably looking ahead to the matchup with the Broncos, but now with Denver soiling themselves, they will be fully focused on — New Orleans and a rematch with the 49ers. Yup, I think they’re looking ahead and preparing themselves for another painful Super Bowl loss; 2. Think about the playoff games the Patriots have played in since the game that I say officially ended their run (2006 Colts game where they blew the 21-3 lead). Since that point, the Pats are just 4-4, with only the 2011 game against Broncos game being a dominate performance and honestly who didn’t see that coming. They have either struggled mightily or been beaten in the other seven games. This Texans team is not 2011 Broncos; and 3. This is eerily similar to the 2010 season. In each season, we had the late season Monday night Patriots ass whipping, that was followed by the whipped team playing the rest of the season in a funk and both the 2010 Jets and 2012 Texans rallied to win ugly playoff games. Sure we have heard from the Pats that they remember that game and are taking the Texans seriously, but are they? Come on, the Pats didn’t have the amazing Gronkowski for that game and still laid down the smack on Bum’s Son’s defense.

Yeah, that’s too thin to put hard earned money on. Plus, the biggest difference between the 2010 Jets and the 2012 Texans is the secondary, that was a strength of the Jets while the Texans are quite mediocre in the back seven. The Jets could matchup with the Patriots on the outside, the Texans cannot, meaning there will be an intense amount of pressure on the Texans D-Line to disrupt Brady up the middle. Too much pressure for them to live up to.

Bottom line – Believe me I have 10,125 reasons to back the Texans in this game, but smart money is sticking with my most important playoff rule – “Don’t back a shaky quarterback, especially on the road.” Matt Schaub is about as shaky as you get.

New England 34 Houston 17 (4 Stars)
Good luck!


NFL 2012 – Divisional Playoff Predictions, “Saturday” Edition

The Colin Wynner express was rolling toward the 11-0 holy land when out of the blue it was sent caroming into the desert roughage by what I will call the “Joe Webb experience.” And to think, I actually made this comment regarding Webb, “I still love the Vikings with Webb, their game plan doesn’t change with him – play defense and get the ball to Peterson, but now they add the element of the zone read two hours before kickoff.” We all know how that worked out. Maybe Christian Ponder is worth three points.

The “Joe Webb experience” gave me a strong desire to hurl myself off a 700 story building into a pit of fire (the pit of fire is the fallback, just in case the 700 story plunge doesn’t do the trick). But I resisted and rebounded Sunday with a perfect 2-0 record. But the primary reason I refrained, was so I can bring you the 2012 NFL playoffs divisional round winners.

Here is the back of the Colin Wynner, Handicapper player card update with 2012 stats:


Career Playoff Record (1995-2012): 103-83-5

Wildcard Round: 40-31-1
Divisional Round: 36-30-2
Championship Round: 19-15
Super Bowl: 8-7-2

Playoff Best: 7-3-1 (2001)

Please note that these picks are made based on several years of experience in handicapping the playoff games, in fact I have developed a list of playoff rules to live by that you can read here.
Note: I use the Las Vegas Hilton Lines from vegasinsider.com.


Baltimore @ Denver (-9.5)

Interesting Sub-Plot: Peyton Manning playoff stats in this situation are quite interesting. First, his career record with the temperature below 35 degrees is 0-3, with losses to the Jets and Patriots twice. Game time temperature in Denver – 18 degrees! In fact, at 18 degrees this will be the coldest playoff game Manning has ever started. Of course, many a Denver fan will point out two facts – 1. Manning has never lost a home playoff game where the temperature was below 35 degrees; and 2. Manning played exceptional in two cold weather home games late in the year. Fair enough, Donkey fan, but I will point out that Manning has never won a home playoff game in those frigid conditions and that the final two games of the season were against Cleveland and Kansas City, good luck with that logic. And for the record, the temp was 51 and 35 for those games so – EAAAHHHHH, sorry wrong answer!

Secondly, Manning is just 1-3 in the playoffs when coming off a bye. Guess what? The Broncos had a bye last week. And lastly, it appears that Manning will don a glove on his throwing hand to mitigate the cold weather. Hmmm, very interesting, I guess there will be no glove lost in this game.

Teenage girl logic: I love Colorado, it’s a great place to visit and a better place to live. Yeah, I’ve only been there once but I can tell it’s a perfect place with perfect people. Go Broncos!

Trending: Teams that covered a regular season matchup by 10 or more points are just 4-9 ATS in the playoff matchup.

The Ravens will cover if: Anquan Boldin takes this game over like he did last week against the Colts. “Q” might be at the beginning of a 2008 Fitzgeraldian run through the 2012 playoffs.

The Broncos will cover if: They don’t let the Ravens hang around. The Ravens are a “keep it close, steal it at the end” team. The Donks absolutely cannot let the Ravens jump out to any sort of lead in this game. just ask the Titans about that (2000 and 2008). On the flip side, if the Broncos put up two quick touchdowns, the Ravens are done!

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: The was a day where you could drop a double digit number in the divisional playoff round and sip on Courvoisier while watching a 44-3 blowout. That doesn’t happen in the current NFL, well unless the team double digit dog is quarterbacked by Tim Tebow coming off a incredibly emotional Wildcard round win (see how I did that). The history of what I will call the “NFL – parity edition” tells us to take the points in these situations. Sure we are roughly 10 years into this edition, but the days of the of #1/#2 seeds laying the hammer in the divisional round is long gone.

So you’ve got that and the following: 1. It’s likely that the week off truncated the momentum for a Broncos team riding an 11 game winning streak; 2. The glove! The glove gives us litany of literary play on words, like the promiscuous young lady telling her boyfriend, “No glove, no love!” Or my personal favorite from the Naked Gun 45: Nordberg found innocent of murder, “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit!” Well, here is one for this game, “with glove on hand for support, the Broncos shit their shorts!”; 3. The Ravens are in much better shape for the rematch, from the offensive line to the defense; 4. The emotion of Ray Lewis and the corresponding influence on the rest of the Ravens; it can’t hurt, but, I agree, the angle itself is weak, since it was obvious Ray left it on the field last week. Still if the Ravens keep it close, Ray-Ray might make a huge play somewhere late in this game that has a major impact on the outcome or at least the spread; 5. The Broncos have to be looking ahead to the showdown with the Patriots, right? and 6. It bears mentioning again – it’s too many points.

And, yes, I know this is the blueprint for playoff disaster by going against probably the single biggest playoff rule, “never back a shaky quarterback in the playoffs, especially on the road”, in the history of the playoffs or rules. Furthermore, there is a better than average that after this week, I will be bitching about not follow my own rules, along with updating the “rules” with this new one called the “never bet against NFL” rule. Yeah, it’s probably only me and like four other guys who know that the NFL would love to see a Brady and Manning matchup up for the AFC championship, in primetime no less. Eff-it all, give me the Ravens and the points

Denver 26 Baltimore 21 (3 Stars out of 5 possible)

Green Bay @ San Francisco (-3.0)

Interesting Sub-Plot: The fact that this is the “all-in” moment for Jim Harbuagh with his decision to hand the starting QB job to Colin Kaepernick. In week one, former starting quarterback, Alex Smith played about as well as one could play in leading the 49ers to a victory in Lambeau. If the 49ers lose this game with Kaepernick playing a key role in the loss, will that become the second strike against Harbuagh? What’s the first strike, you ask? Harbaugh’s charmingly self – yeah, he is so obstinate and generally unlikable that I believe he will start every job with 0-1 count, a little bit like it seems Carl Crawford does every at-bat.

Teenage girl logic: I had no idea that those gaudy “cheesehead” things were so popular, but apparently in addition to the normal “cheesehead” you can get a cheese sombrero, a cheese fireman’s hat, a cheese tie, a cheese cowboy hat, etc. etc. Yikes, with all that crazy cheesehead crap donning the rather large humans in Packer-land , a home game in Green Bay must rival a tattoo convention and most nights on Bourbon street for biggest “freak show” ever. And my goodness, they have cheese earrings as well. How tacky! But I see can totally see this girl named Sarah wearing them. Uh, she is such a slut! I can imagine that guys would be all like, “Oh, Sarah how cute, you have cheesehead earrings.” ARGH, I can’t stand her, she is so ugly and the only reason guys like her is because she is a total whore! ARGH! Oh wait, this is where I am supposed to make a pick, right? OK, OK, enough about sluts, I think the 49ers are going to win the Super Bowl, so DUH, they are going to win this game!

Trending: Home playoffs teams favored by 3 or less points are just 7-13 ATS since 2002.

The Packers will cover if: If, “the most worthless piece of shit in the world” (as a fantasy buddy of mine calls him) a.k.a. Jermichael Finley, shows up ready to be the difference. Look it seems almost impossible for Finley to be a non-factor given that he is 6-4, 240, runs a 4.4 40, posesses amazing balance and athletic giftedness but somehow he does. Yup, most games Finley is invisible. And when not invisible he can be found dropping key third down passes or pointing first down when coming up a half yard short or tweeting “YOTTO.” YOTTO (“Year Of The TakeOver”), is an acronym coined by Finley after his breakout year. Interestingly, I coined the YAYWIGFAL to describe his play the year after his YOTTO year (“Year After YOTTO When I Got Fat And Lazy”). He can be difference in this game for the Packers, if 1. he shows up ready to play; and 2. Rodgers and McCarthy have enough trust left in him.

The 49ers will cover if: Colin Kaepernick plays less like Colin Wynner and more like Colin Kaepernick. I’m not going to lie with me at quarterback in this game, the number is probably close to Packers -7.5, so Kaepernick is worth close to 11 points more than me, but the junior Colin has the potential to lay an egg here, or in other words – there is massive pressure on this kid. So far he has handled the pressure in every spot, but this is the biggest, brightest stage of his career, and one where the 49ers are expected to win.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: This is tough, really tough, man! On one hand you have the “Lindsay Lohan doing porn” inevitable factors, like Rodgers is going to be harassed all day long by that 49er defense line and David Akers will miss a bushel of field goals, while Billy Cundiff sticks pins in an Akers voo-doo doll. Those are the gimmies, but that’s not going to get me the much sought after W. I firmly believe to have a winning week this week, I need this game. Sure when I interviewed before the game, I will tell the world, “they all count the same in the standings.” But this game, this game is a game I need, a game I want badly.

Therefore, I have to dig deeper for this one. Truth be told I loved the Packers from the start of the week. But that’s three parts of “the public would be all over 49ers” (thus giving me the playoff rule “it’s never a bad idea to be on the same side as the house”) and one part “revenge for week one.” The revenge card is an over-played, never truly works like you think it will.  Plus, from my rudimentary “bet metrics” the money appears to be fairly well divided, therefore, we can totally throw out the “it’s never a bad idea to side with the house” rule.

Desperate situations call for desperate measures, so I went go to the biggest 49er fan I know “Da Carz”, who has always had an unrealistic view of his team. So, I asked him how nervous he was on a scale of 1=already booked my flights to New Orleans to 10=I am wearing Depends just to be safe. His response, “I am about a five. I believe in my team, but Aaron Rodgers is the wildcard. If they did not have a good quarterback, I would not be worried.” Hmm, a five, huh? Thanks for nothing!

Despite his middling response, he gave me exactly what I needed. Here is the deal – last year in a similar spot “Da Carz” told me that the 49ers were about to visit “Lock” city against the Saints, so reading his comments this year, he’s not a five, he’s a 9.9999, meaning he’s probably played the game out in his mind which caused him to shart himself.

So here we go, I jumping off the building here holding my balls and screaming “Geronimo” (wait, is that insensitive?). I think Kaepernick is shaky, at least shaky enough that if the Packers put up the first points of this game the pressure will go from, in terms of the aforementioned Lohan, “if this B-Movie, and my over-acting, work for me, I might be able to claw my way back into fringe blockbuster movies, plus I will be able to continue pay rent, always a bonus” to “only one option left – hard-core porn. And rent is now a 50/50 prop each month.” I also am not buying that Justin Smith is back to anywhere near 100%, something the Packers will figure out on the first series and make adjustments to aid their one liability in this game, the offensive line.

Bottom line – the Packers have been there, done that in hostile road playoff game environments. The 49ers needed five turnovers and two miracle drives from their backup quarterback to pull off a win against a “good quarterback” last year. All cheese, all the time!

Green Bay 24 San Francisco 20 (2 Stars)

Coming up – the Sunday divisional round picks!

Good luck this weekend!


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 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 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.