Week 4 ATS

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Niners quit on their coach today if things go south. There have been rumblings over the past few years of strife between the players and coach Harbaugh. There was even the bizarre story of Harbaugh the elder attempting to orchestrate a trade that would send him to the Browns. The Browns! What on earth would make you want to leave a squad you’ve completely turned around and made into a dominant force to go Cleveland? Cleveland! This is not to knock the fair city of Cleveland, but that front office treats coaches so poorly (poor Rob Chudzinski,) it makes you really wonder what kind of damage was done in SF to make Jim Harbaugh see the Browns organization as greener pastures.

San Fran still should have an advantage, especially since the Eagles are flying across the country and are on the road. The 49ers HFA, however, is pathetic. When they moved out of Candlestick, not only did they alienate their fans by making it a road trip out of SF to get to Santa Clara, they willingly left a tough place to visit. Candlestick was known for the swirling winds, loud fans and championship atmosphere. Santa Clara’s new stadium is a joke- it’s built on WiFi and phone jacks, and ordering sushi to your seat while you check out Twitter. It’s a nice place to visit if you want to hang out with other Silicon Valley types, but it’s a pitiful place to play a football game.

As far as the game goes, if the Eagles jump out to an early lead, it’s probably over. The Niners have had a poor start to the season, and have really struggled to score in the second half of games. To be fair, Philadelphia hasn’t set the world on fire in the first half, so there’s no guarantee this happens. There’s a good chance the 49ers just come out and annihilate the Eagles and get right back on the right track. But if momentum and negative feelings mean anything, the 49ers are not prepared for this game.

WASHINGTON (-3.5) over NY Giants
CHICAGO (+0.5) over Green Bay
Detroit (-0.5) over NY JETS
PITTSBURGH (-7.5) over Tampa Bay
BALTIMORE (-3.5) over Carolina
Miami (-4.5) over OAKLAND
HOUSTON (-3.5) over Buffalo
INDIANAPOLIS (-7.5) over Tennessee
SAN DIEGO (-13.5) over Jacksonville
Atlanta (-2.5) over MINNESOTA
Philadelphia (+5.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
New Orleans (-3.5) over DALLAS
New England (-3.5) over KANSAS CITY

Week 3 Picks

Instead of going crazy over the unwarrented public backlash about the end of the Eagles game on Monday, I’ll direct you to this wonderful article by Jimmy Kempski of philly.com.

After he bashes that jamoke Heath Evans, the second half is a breakdown of how the missed call everyone in America was complaining about was actually the correct call.

Do not let Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis, Jon Gruden and Heath Evans fool you. If you look at it logically, not throwing the flag was the correct call.

Anyway, nothing more this week, here are some picks:

 

ATLANTA (-6.5) over Tampa Bay
NEW ORLEANS (-9.5) over Minnesota
Green Bay (+1.5) over DETROIT
PHILADELPHIA (-6.5) over Washington
Dallas (-1.5) over ST. LOUIS
Houston (-2.5) over NY GIANTS
Indianapolis (-6.5) over JACKSONVILLE
CINCINNATI (-6.5) over Tennessee
CLEVELAND (+1.5) over Baltimore
San Diego (+2.5) over BUFFALO
NEW ENGLAND (-14.5) over Oakland
ARIZONA (+2.5) over San Francisco
MIAMI (-4.5) over Kansas City
SEATTLE (-4.5) over Denver
CAROLINA (-3.5) over Pittsburgh
Chicago (+2.5) over NY JETS

The Referee Conspiracy and Week 2 Picks

The NFL played a pretty neat trick on you, average football fans. You were thoroughly hoodwinked and/or bamboozled, and you didn’t even know what hit you. It was a perfect con.
How so? Well, how did you feel about the officiating this weekend?
I can’t tell you how pleased I was by the relative lack of flags in week one. If you were parachuted to the planet Earth from a distant planet, with no concept as to how American football is played, and you just had to soak up the culture of the game from scratch, the preseason would have left you with the opinion the men in vertical, monochrome stripes were the star players in the National Football League.
Chipping a tight end six yards down the field? Illegal Contact! Automatic first down! Clutching a receiver as he tramples over you? Defensive Holding! Automatic first down! 3rd and 19, and you and receiver collide seven yards downfield in a perfectly legitimate fight for the ball? Too bad! Defensive Pass Interference! First downs for everyone!
I was in attendance for the Patriots-Eagles preseason contest in August. An enjoyable affair for the most part, but the zebras did their very best to rain on everyone’s parade. There were several drives marred by consecutive penalties, many of which had neutral and opposition members of the crowd booing on penalties called on both sides. This is not to only bring up anecdotal evidence; a quick survey of teams and matchups around the league came to the same conclusions: the referees were specifically instructed to call more ticky-tack penalties on the defense. Everyone knew it, everyone acknowledged it, from Dean Blandino to your local play-by-play guy.
And for what, you ask? It’s obvious, isn’t it? the NFL attracts the casual fan through scoring. Offense is sexy. Long touchdown passes bring in the guy with a short attention span and the lady from work who usually doesn’t pay attention while the game is on. Defense, on the other hand, leads to bad press from concussions and writers/bloggers/anonymous internet posters complaining about 13-10 games, not to mention pretty-boy quarterbacks getting hurt and losing endorsement deals.
Fantasy football also takes a huge hit when offensive players get smacked around and injured. The fantasy market is in direct competition with the true football fan market. I play fantasy, but I know people who don’t give a damn about the local team, and only watch RedZone in lieu of their local squad. These people are slowly killing the sport. They don’t care about the health of the sport, only that their RB2 doesn’t get vultured by the goal line back. Defense be damned. Integrity of the game be damned. Who cares that the NFL is breaking scoring and yardage records with abandon? We want more!
And the NFL wants this. Which leads me to the crux of this post.
What did you think of the penalties in the preseason? “Way too many!” you may exclaim. “They’re ruining the game!”
Comparatively, what did you think of the penalties in week one? “Well,” you may respond, at least it’s way down from the preseason.”
Hook, line, and sinker.
According to the good folks at NFLPenalties.com, this is the highest amount of week one penalties they have on record. It’s quite clear the NFL called that many penalties in the preseason to make the amount of penalties they call in the regular season seem reasonable. By making the rate of flags in the preseason outrageously high, they’ve successfully tricked the public into thinking this absurd amount of penalties is totally acceptable.


I’m no Roger Goodell. As much like I’d like to trick the public into thinking my week one picks against the spread were totally acceptable, it’s inarguable that was by far the worst week I’ve ever had picking games.
I was fine straight up, but I was massacred ATS by extremely close calls multiple times. No excuses, it’s just how it goes; surely, the lines can’t be as cruel from here on out.
I was right about the Jags showing up to play against the Eagles, but the late scoop and score by Fletcher Cox was a classic backdoor cover when the Jags were about to walk away with the +10.5. The Jets won by 5 with -5.5 line. And the Steelers and Broncos blew massive leads to cough up their ATS victories. But hey, if you’re going to have a terrible week, it may as well be week one.
Straight Up: 9-7
ATS- 4-12

Follow these at your own risk:

Pittsburgh (+2.5) over BALTIMORE
You’d have to be crazy to take the Ravens right now, considering their current situation. No, I’m not talking about Joe Flacco’s monstrosity of a contract. And yes, I know it’s tasteless to make jokes about their current situation. The Steelers played pretty well last week too. I like this play.

Jacksonville (+6.5) over WASHINGTON
The Skins played very poorly last week, and RG3 was as godawful as ever. The Jags had a little fight in them last week. They may or may not win, but I like them with the points.
Jacksonville 21, Washington 20

Miami (-0.5) over BUFFALO
All aboard the Knowshon Moreno hype train! Seriously though, as well as the Bills played last week, beating the Patriots soundly was quite impressive. For all intents and purposes, this is a pick ’em.
Dolphins 28, Bills 20

CINCINNATI (-4.5) over Atlanta
Boy, did I blow it on Atl vs. NO last week. But I still thought the Bengals were incredibly impressive. This line should be a little lower, but I don’t think the Falcons will have that spark they came out with in week one, and the Bengals will win this game at home.
Bengals 26, Falcons 21

New Orleans (-6.5) over CLEVELAND
Boy, did my Super Bowl picks look terrible last week. There are two games that I think the quarterback will come out pissed off and annihilate the overmatched opposition. This is one…
Saints 35, Browns 12

New England (-3.5) over MINNESOTA
And this is the other. Always pick the Pats after a loss in the Brady and Belichick era, it’s easy money, even with how well the Vikes played last week. I’d be stunned if they follow up that abortion of a performance with another one in Minnesota.
Patriots 31, Vikings 17

Arizona (+0.5) over NY GIANTS
This is the most questionable line of week 2. How is this not higher? Is there something I don’t know? They Giants looked lost in Detroit. Eli was awful, their receivers didn’t know their assignments, their o line got bullied, the defense blew coverages, etc. etc… and the Cards beat a very good Chargers team. That weak home field advantage in MetLife surely isn’t worth enough to make this a +.5 spread, right? The Giants are FAVORITES? How? What am I missing?
Cardinals 27, Giants 17

TENNESSEE (-3.5) over Dallas
I couldn’t have been more wrong on the Titans. That offensive line is dynamite. They should handle the sorry Cowboys at home. Tony Romo looked cooked last week. Either his back is that bad, his colorblindness is acting up, or he lost his confidence. Any way you slice it, it’s bad news for Cowboys fans. Speaking of which, that was some pretty pathetic home field advantage they had last week. Getting outnumbered in your own stadium is even worse when it’s the biggest stadium in America. Cowboys fans are frauds.
Titans 31, Cowboys 27

Detroit (+2.5) over CAROLINA
I was very impressed with the Lions on Monday night. If they play like that, they should have no problem with the Panthers. Who’s covering Megatron?
Lions 33, Panthers 20

TAMPA BAY (-5.5) over St. Louis
This is less an endorsement of the Bucs than it is an inditement of the Rams. They were easily the worst team of week one. I see no reason a squad like that can go on the road and beat anyone.
Bucs 17, Rams 6

Seattle (-5.5) over SAN DIEGO
I love this Chargers team. A lot. In fact, if there was a game I was going to pick against the Seahawks, it’d be this one, on the road in the heat against a vengeful Philip Rivers and co.
But then I remember what I saw on opening night, and I remind myself there’s no logical way I can pick against Seattle until I see them lose.
Seahawks 30, Chargers 21

Houston (-2.5) over OAKLAND
The Texans were a pleasant surprise week one. The Raiders looked pretty bad. I could see this game go either way, though. I’ll go with the team that showed me some fight last week.
Texans 17, Raiders 10

GREEN BAY (-8.5) over NY Jets
I think Aaron Rodgers will pick apart the Jets. Sure, the Jets looked good against Derek Carr, but the best QB in the league should torch them. The Packers defense will play better at home.
Packers 28, Jets 13

DENVER (-13.5) over Kansas City
Wow, were the Chiefs bad against Tennessee. Throw in a couple crippling injuries on defense, and Peyton at home, and this smells like a blowout. Andy Reid will be getting flasbacks of his 2005 and 2012 Eagles squads this year.
Broncos 40, Chiefs 17

SAN FRANCISCO (-6.5) over Chicago
I don’t like this game at all. I like the Niners to regress this year, and the Bears to improve. The line is too high. But I can’t ignore the fact that the 49ers are at home and the D played well last week, and that the Bears blew an easily winnable game against the Bills. I must have changed my mind on this one five times, but I’d go with the home field in this spot.
49ers 24, Bears 17

Philadelphia (+2.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
The Eagles were the worst team in the NFL for a half against Jacksonville. Then they decided to play and blew the Jags out. The Colts were awful in the first half as well before showing up in the second half. Both of these inconsistent teams will have something to prove on Monday night. I like the Eagles’ supporting cast slightly better than the Colts. Indianapolis really do look like Luck and a bunch of guys off the street out there. If Robert Mathis were playing, I’d consider Indy. But I’ll take the Eagles here.
Eagles 31, Colts 27

NFL Season Preview (that is probably wrong) and Travis Picks vs. The Spread

     Before I issue my take on how the league will play out this year, as well as my week one ATS picks, I must issue a disclaimer:
A vast majority of NFL preseason prediction articles are shots in the dark. Some try to go as far as predicting every game, which is absolute folly. There’s no way to make judgements, based on a team’s current health and form, on a matchup 3 months from now. Reading one of these articles is most likely a waste of time (unless you’re that desperate for football that you’ll consume anything having to do with the NFL, much like myself). Nobody ever recalls their predictions at season’s end, unless they were correct, in which case you can expect them to gloat mercilessly.
Which I will do, if I’m right.
Here’s each division, with a short explanation of my train of thought. Feel free to pick it apart and call me an idiot. You’re probably right. The order, from left to right, is the projected order of finish in the division. Teams in italics are playoff bound.

AFC West: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders
The Broncos will finish first here, but not by a large margin; the Chargers will be on their tail and at least split the season series. They were on too much of a roll at the end of last season to think they’ll simply fade away, and Philip Rivers looks as good as he’s ever been under Mike McCoy. The Chargers will be a wild card team. The Chiefs will drift back to the middle of the pack, as Alex Smith will bore and frustrate Kansas City fans with his astoundingly average performances. The Raiders will be awful. Adding a bunch of veterans to a terrible team never works out. Al Davis lives on through his son.

AFC South: Colts, Jaguars, Texans, Titans
The Colts should consider themselves lucky they’re in such an awful division, much like the Eagles. Indy really isn’t much more than their quarterback, which is enough to win them some games. The Jags will be improved, but too much raw, undeveloped talent at the receiver position, along with a sieve of an offensive line, will doom them. The Texans should be better too, but how much do you trust Ryan Fitzpatrick? At least they should be able to generate a pass rush. The Titans may challenge for the position of worst team in the league. Their offensive line has potential, but it’s offset by an absolute dearth of talent at the skill positions.

AFC East: Patriots, Bills, Jets, Dolphins
The Pats added Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner to shore up their cornerbacks, who were last seen getting annihilated by Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship Game. If they can get a pass rush, and just a little production on offense by anyone not named Gronkowski, they can be a championship team. The Bills and Jets will both have very good defenses and challenge for a wild card spot, but will both come up empty because of inconsistent quarterback play. Expect to see Mike Vick and Kyle Orton at some point. The Dolphins will be middling as well, but their offensive line is in shambles and I’m not a believer in Ryan Tannehill.

AFC North: Ravens, Bengals, Steelers, Browns
The Ravens will wrest the AFC North crown back from the Bengals, but it will be a dogfight. Uncertainty at the running back position may be their Achilles Heel. The Bengals will finish in second and grab a wild card spot. Having a new offensive coordinator will throw Andy Dalton off in the early going, but AJ Green will help with the learning curve. The Steelers will be bad in the early going, make a late push, but come up just short of the playoffs again. Ben Roethlisberger will throw for a ton of yards and try to put the team on his back, but I don’t like their offensive line to 1) keep the run game going and 2) keep Ben off his back. The defense looks old in some spots and clueless in others. The Browns, lastly, will sorely miss Josh Gordon, and even though they have a nice defense, they don’t have the answer at QB.

NFC West: Seahawks, Cardinals, 49ers, Rams
The Seahawks will kill it at home and be mediocre on the road. The increased emphasis on Illegal Contact and Defensive Holding will cost them a few wins. The rest of the division will cannibalize itself. The Cardinals will have the best defense in the league and claim a wild card spot. The 49ers are in for a whirlwind season. All the turmoil with McDonald and Smith will upset their pass rush, and their star linebackers are crippled. I don’t foresee good things for them this season. The Rams will get to the quarterback, and that’s about it. They’ll miss Sam Bradford, who was actually having a very good season last year before he went down.

NFC South: Saints, Panthers, Bucs, Falcons
The Saints will be dominant this year. They loaded up in their secondary, got younger and faster at WR, and their O line improved vastly as the season went on. The Panthers will decline precipitously. Poor Cam will have no one to throw to (his top 4 receivers are gone), and their best offensive lineman retired. Their stout defense will have to win games for them. The Bucs will be better than last year, but loading up on Guards will only get you so far. I don’t believe in Josh McCown. There’s a reason he floated around the league for 10 years before having even a slight spell of success. The Falcons have shown me nothing on defense or the offensive line to make me believe they will bounce back. They’ll have no run game yet again. If their WRs stay healthy, then yeah, Matty Ryan will throw for a ton of yards, but they’ll be in garbage time.

NFC North: Bears, Packers, Lions, Vikings
The Bears and Packers will both be very good this year. If Aaron Rodgers stays healthy, there’s no reason his squad shouldn’t win 11 games. Bu the bears will surprise people. Their offense will be prolific. Jeffrey and Marshall will both repeat their monster performances last year as they win the division by a hair over the Packers. The Lions will be the Lions- Stafford will throw for a million yards and have an INT a game at least. They’ll outscore people sometimes, but be on the wrong end more often then not. Their highly-drafted D Line had better start producing, or they’re in for a long season. And the Vikings will be bad to start the season before switching to Teddy Bridgewater to give them hope for the future. Adrian Peterson is a surefire HOFer, but as we’ve seen time after time, he can’t do it alone.

NFC East: Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins, Giants
The Eagles will miss Desean Jackson, but should still score a ton of points. Their offensive line and system are too good for this division, and if the defense plays average ball, they’ll win 10 games minimum. They Cowboys, much like the Eagles, will have a fantastic offense. Romo, Murray, the O-line, Dez, Witten, the list goes on. It’s a shame they may have the worst defense of all time. Think about it: worst NFL defense from last year, minus Demarcus Ware and Sean Lee? This could get ugly. The Redskins have a lot of weapons on offense, but Robert Griffin does nothing for me. He had a great rookie year, but since his injury, he hasn’t been the same. Even when he’s healthy, he’s throwing off his back foot and looks shaky and tentative. The Giants, lastly, look abysmal. Eli has nobody to throw to, and even if he did, he’d chuck it to the other team. No O line, no defense. Stick a fork in them.

Seattle Vs Arizona

AFC Playoffs:
Wild Card: Chargers over Ravens, Colts over Bengals
Divisional: Patriots over Colts, Chargers over Broncos
AFCCG: Patriots over Chargers
NFC Playoffs:
Wild Card: Eagles over Bears, Cardinals over Packers
Divisional: Saints over Eagles, Cardinals over Seahawks
NFCCG: Saints over Cardinals
And, in the Super Bowl:
Saints over Patriots

These predictions will probably look pretty stupid come February. Oh well. Deal with it.
Anyway, on to something that I may actually know what I’m talking about:

WEEK ONE PICKS.

SEATTLE (-5.5) over Green Bay
As much as I like the Packers’ prospects this season over all, winning week one in the hornet’s nest that is Century Link Field is just too much to ask. Aaron Rodgers likes audibling at the line as much as any quarterback in the league not named Manning, and the noise will disrupt his mojo. The Raji injury really does it in for Green Bay. Expect Seattle to control the clock and the game.
Seahawks 31, Packers 24

Minnesota (+3.5) over ST. LOUIS
The Rams simply haven’t had enough time to digest the Bradford situation and give Shaun Hill reps with the first team. Cordarrelle Patterson should have a big day.
Vikings 24, Rams 17

CHICAGO (-6.5) over Buffalo
The Bears, at home, with a dynamite offense, will have no problem with the Bills. EJ Manuel will struggle.
Bears 38, Bills 10

Washington (+2.5) over HOUSTON
Alfred Morris and Roy Helu will carry the day. Redskins fans hopes will not be extinguished this early in the season, as long as JJ Watt doesn’t break RG3 in half. Ryan Fitzpatrick will throw a few picks and the Texans won’t recover.
Redskins 23, Texans 14

KANSAS CITY (-4.5) over Tennessee
Feeding Jamaal Charles should be enough to beat the Titans. I’m surprised this line isn’t higher. KC’s defense will stifle Jake Locker.
Chiefs 28, Titans 13

Jacksonville (+10.5) over PHILADELPHIA
No, the Eagles won’t lose this game. But usually, whenever everyone is absolutely sure a game will be a walk in the park, the favorite starts to get a little cocky, and the underdog gets pissed off and shows up to play. This line is a product of the ocean of hype the Eagles are pumping out right now. The Jags will not be as bad as they were last year. They’ll make the birds sweat it out.
Eagles 30, Jaguars 24

NY JETS (-5.5) over Oakland
The Jets won’t score a ton of points, but their home field and defense will be more than enough for the Raiders. The Jets run game will control the flow. Expect a lot of punting.
Jets 17, Raiders 9

PITTSBURGH (-6.5) over Cleveland
I’m not a big believer in the Steelers this year. But I believe less in the Browns. Neither team will score a lot, but the Steelers have enough in them to beat a sorry Browns offense by a touchdown. I think. The Browns will come to play on defense, but Antonio Brown will have a big day.
Steelers 24, Browns 17

BALTIMORE (-1.5) over Cincinnati
Joe Flacco will have a lot of work to do to prove his worth. His albatross of a contract denied the Ravens a chance to lock up several of their championship players. I think this year he takes a step back in the right direction after a disappointing 2013. Beating a good Bengals team at home is a good start. But it’s his defense that needs to come up big in this game. Contain AJ Green, and you stop the Bengals. I don’t have a strong feeling on this one, so I’m going with home field.
Ravens 20, Bengals 17

New Orleans (-2.5) over ATLANTA
I think the Saints will blow the roof off the Georgia Dome. The Falcons have done nothing to make me think they’re going to improve this year, and the Saints did nothing but get better.
Saints 42, Falcons 21

New England (-4.5) over MIAMI
The Dolphins just don’t have the horses to keep up with the Pats. Revis will lock down Mike Wallace, and Tannehill will have nowhere to go. The Dolphins always play the Patriots tough in Miami, though, so the game will be relatively close.
Patriots 31, Dolphins 21.

DALLAS (+4.5) over San Francisco
At home, in Jerryworld, Tony Romo will light up the battered 49er defense. Kaep and co. will rally in the second half and make it a high scoring affair. In the end, the Cowboys weapons will outshine the 49ers in a new edition of a classic rivalry that will little resemble Steve Young vs. Troy Aikman. Expect a lot of points.
Cowboys 44, 49ers 38

Carolina (+1.5) over TAMPA BAY
The Panthers will decline this year. But their defense can still handle the Bucs. Cam will lean on his tight ends and run game and let the Buccaneers make mistakes against Luke Kuechly and the boys.
Panthers 17, Bucs 14

DENVER (-7.5) over Indianapolis
I’ll bet all Peyton Manning has done for the last 7 months is watch film, alone in his basement, shunning Eli and Archie, shooing them away so he could watch slow motion replays of each play of that train wreck in February. He will awaken from his slumber this Sunday night and unleash his wrath on poor Andrew Luck and the Colts at Mile High.
Broncos 52, Colts 28

DETROIT (-4.5) over NY Giants
If you read the above NFL Preview, you’ll recall I have very little faith in the Giants. They may have some success against the Lions suspect defense, but Detroit should easily move the ball on big blue.
Lions 34, Giants 20

ARIZONA (-3.5) over San Diego
This could be the game of the week. Shame it’s on at 10:30 PM on the East Coast. The Chargers will show flashes of brilliance, but the Cardinals defense is just too good. I like Andre Ellington as a surprise performer this week.