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)

 

2012 Predictions – Thanksgiving, “Double Dip” Edition

A bonus combo pack of picks for Thanksgiving.
Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com. The Super Contest lines are not live, but instead are set and held the entire week.

The “Super Contest” picks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Thanksgiving Day” picks:

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

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

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

Bonus “Seven Out” Picks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pathetic!

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

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

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

Good luck this week, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The “Apathy has set in” pick:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Backup quarterback bowls” picks:

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck this week.

2012 NFL Predictions – Week 6, “Thursday” Edition

Most years about this time, I start to whisper, “Wow, it’s already week six, this year is going by too fast!” This year, however, it’s more like, “Is it over yet?” Translation – it is getting tougher with each passing year to enjoy the NFL. The several reasons for this, but at the forefront is the reality that the league is watered down with essentially random results week in and week out. That makes it tough to be successful handicapper, fantasy player or pool participant.

Sunday afternoon I texted a buddy this message, “If I go 0-5 this week, I think I’m be done with football.” Turns out, I went 1-4, but the fact remains, I almost called it a career before finding some fire to help me move forward this week. Still, I was close. Someday, I envision myself running a rehab center for addicted fans of football – the name of the center “One Game At A Time.”

And by “calling it a career”, I mean freaking going “cold turkey” without any peripheral football – no Sunday Ticket, no NFL rewind, no football related subscriptions, no picks columns, no picks, no bets, no pools and no fantasy. Well to be honest I have about 278 reasons why fantasy football is gone after this year regardless of whether I retire or not, but you get the idea, I would watch occasionally, but watch for the purity of the game, which would put all the power back in my hands.

I no longer sit through a crappy performance by my team just because they are the final play on a three team teaser. It wouldn’t take me nince hours to vacuum a house that normally takes 1.5 hours (humble brag, right! Yeah, I live in a mansion that normally takes 90 minutes to vacuum), I wouldn’t have to watch an otherwise unwatchable Monday night game because I have fantasy player X going against fantasy player Y. And I wouldn’t have to spend the time I spend on this freaking sport!

Some day very soon, you might show up on this site to see what teams you want to fade for the week and see the following:

I’M OUT THIS BITCH!

OK, enough about me, on to the game:

Pittsburgh (-6.0) @ Tennessee – The NFL changed the Rashard Mendenhall rushing touchdown to a receiving touchdown this week. Real nice, thanks, NFL. The effects of this monumental change will be felt for years to come as all fantasy league commissioners scurry to update the week 5 stat changes. In one of my leagues a two games will be affected where both winning teams will see a win snatched from their helpless hands. Great, I already had to sweat the Sunday and Monday night games, now I have to wait out the NFL until Thursday to make sure I get the win.

The ridiculous part of this change is that it was obvious that it was a touchdown pass in live action and even more apparent on the replay, how did it get by the officials? I thought the “real” refs were back. Honestly, the real ref vs. scab ref is a little like trying to tell the difference between New Coke and Classic Coke. If I am a ardent Classic Coke drinker and you put a can of New Coke in front of me, I would rather go thirsty than drink that crap. But if you blindfold me and give it to me, I couldn’t tell the difference. That’s pretty much how I feel about the scabs and the regular refs, don’t tell me and, for goodness sake, don’t let them speak and I probably couldn’t tell the difference.

  1. Rashard Mendenhall looked fantastic last weekend, so much that I actually might recommend suffering a torn ACL in week 16 of the previous season. Kidding, kidding, but he looks faster and shifter than ever. Of course, that might be the Jonathon Dwyer and Isaac Redman effect as well.
  2. We know the weapons the Steelers have on the outside, but don’t forget about Heath Miller tonight. In fact if you have a chance to play a few props, I would strongly recommend Miller for 1st touchdown, over 45 yards and “Yes” he will score a touchdown. The Titans can’t cover anyone, but they are atrocious against the tight end.

  3. The Titans might be the worst team in the NFL, but their emotionally leader, Chris Johnson, commented this week:

    “We need somebody in this locker room to make plays and give us a spark.”

    Uh, you mean somebody like you? I mean CJ_K the Titans have all that money tied up in you, I think they expect you to make plays and give them a spark. Wow, totally clueless. If I am Titans ownership, I would be willing to give Titans coach Mike Munchak another year sans CJ_K. I have to believe CJ_K is impacting the morale and chemistry of a very young team. In fact, the Titans would be better off just cutting his lousy ass right now.

  4. Matt Hasselbeck has been a solid quarterback to back as the starter for a home team underdog over his career, but this is not the Seattle Hasselbeck, this is the “I am hanging on for a paycheck while trying to mentor a young guy into a great quarterback, so I can someday land a head coaching job and continue to be the favorite son over my d-bag brother who is a self proclaimed fantasy football expert, yet somehow pops is favoring him because he gave him Alfred Morris as a sleeper this year” Hasselbeck. Remember, when Michael Jordan went to the Wizards? Albeit smaller scale, but just as big of a drop-off.
  5. The only way the Steelers don’t cover this number is if they come out flat. I don’t see that happening. Why? Well, while it might be might be thin, I checked out Roethlisberger’s biorhythm chart for 10/12/2012. Here it is:

The above shows Roethlisberger is ready to peak physically, which is good news. He is also very high emotionally, which will allow him to withstand the numerous “you’re a raper” taunts. Unfortunately, Big Ben’s intellect is so far down that if given the Wonderlich test before the game tonight, Vince Young might look like a genius. I have a solution for that – don’t let Ben call the plays or audible. Ben never calls the plays, so that part is a non factor. In terms of audibling, the Titans won’t present anything overly complicated nor present much resistance, therefore, even poor decisions by Big Ben likely won’t cost the Steelers.

Pick: Pittsburgh -6.0

Disclaimer: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com. The Super Contest lines are not live, but instead are set and held the entire week. In cases where I’ve made a contest pick, I will use that line, as opposed to the current line. Yeah, it’s a bit of a cheat and you wouldn’t be able to get that line once you’ve printed out my picks to head to the betting window but in the rare event that I win a contest bet but caught in the middle on a live play, rest assured I will adjust my record.

2012 NFL Predictions – Week 05 Picks, “Soccer Induced Quick Picks” Edition

I have spent the last two days at the soccer fields, so you get quick picks for NFL week #5. Mind you though, I put the same effort into each and every pick. But I must inform you that I feel this is the week where the odds-makers have caught on – very, very tough! Upon making my picks, I just about pulled out the UNO
Reverse card and reversed every one of them.

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 “SuperContest” picks:

Arizona (-1.0) @ St. Louis – I feel like the Cardinals are who I thought they were. Shame me for thinking otherwise and making them a top 5 play this week. Pick: Arizona -1.0

San Diego @ New Orleans (-3.5) – Why are the Saints favored in this game? And by 3.5, no less, wow!! – “Free Money”. Pick: San Diego +3.5

Tennessee @ Minnesota (-5.5) – Game was a pick’em in the pre-season, now it’s 5.5. So this Vikings team is good because they’ve beaten the Jags, a sleep-walking 49ers team and the Lions? Uh, ok. They might win but the line of 5.5 is way, way too many points. Pick: Minnesota -5.5

Seattle @ Carolina (-3.0) – I don’t completely trust Panthers safety Haruki Nakamura and his band of incompetent brothers roaming the defensive backfield, but I trust Russell Wilson on the road less. In fact, Russell might be the only quarterback capable of making Haruki look like a competent NFL safety. The Hawks really, really need to go to Matt Flynn, Wilson will be the guy long term but he is killing an otherwise very good team. Pick: Carolina -3.0

Baltimore (-5.5) @ Kansas City – How is this not a repeat of the 2010 playoff game between these teams? Oh and the Ravens just had their early season “mail it in” game against the Browns last week. It’s going to be a long day for the Chiefs. Pick: Baltimore -5.5

The “Good Bad Team” pick:

Miami @ Cincinnati (-3.0) – The Bengals beat bad teams badly, though Miami is pesky, I wouldn’t consider them good. Pick: Cincinnati -3.0

The “Final Destination” pick:

Atlanta (-3.0) @ Washington – The Falcons should have lost last week. You can only cheat death so long. . . Pick: Washington +3.0


The “Look Ahead” picks:

Green Bay (-6.5) @ Indianapolis – With a showdown against the Texans on deck, look for the Packers to get caught sleeping against the Colts. Pick: Indianapolis +6.5

Cleveland @ NY Giants (-8.5) – Come on, it’s the Giants, they’re giving more than a touchdown at home. I think we’ve seen how this ends multiple times over the last five seasons? And the G-Men have the 49ers on deck. Pick: Cleveland +8.5

The “Livin a lie” pick:

Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh (-3.5) – The Eagles are 3-1, yet have been out-scored by 17 points. Look for the “regression” to begin this week. Also, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t lose back-to-back games. Pick: Pittsburgh -3.5

The “Monday Night Hangover” pick:

Chicago (-5.5) @ Jacksonville – This feels way too easy. And I’ve already taken advantage of the “Free Money” offer from the books with the Chargers. This feels like a late Bears rally to win by a field goal. Pick: Jacksonville +5.5

The “Ass Kickin” picks:

Denver @ New England (-6.5) – Sorry, Peyton, still not buying. . . Pick: New England -6.5

Buffalo @ San Francisco (-9.5) – The 49ers are back home, re-focused and ready to take control of the NFC West. How do the Bills cover this game if the 49ers go up 17-0? Answer: they don’t! Pick: San Francisco -9.5

Houston (-8.0) @ NY Jets – How do the Jets cover this game if the Texans go up 17-0? Same answer from above. Pick: Houston -8.0

Colin Wynner calls the winners. “Rever. . .Revers. . .!”