Firstly, I just want to say that my fantasy Bball draft has been postponed until tonight at 10pm, so results will be up sometime tomorrow maybe? Also it's been turned into a keeper league; I can keep 3 guys for next year. Which means I'll be drafting John Wall and Blake Griffin about 5 rounds too early. On to the week 7 picks!
Bengals (2-3) @ Falcons (4-2)
Predicted Line: ATL by 4
Actual Line: ATL by 3.5
Okay guys, this is the part where I try to explain why I'm 9-17-2 against the spread the last two weeks. I try to explain all the fluky games that didn't go my way because of missed field goals or bad penalties or simply because I was misinformed. The truth is, it's hard to pick against the spread, and this season has been wacky. That said, I think I've used two primary criteria for picking games which have proven to be faulty:
1) The more desperate team will win. That has been proven false.
2) The more talented team will win. Also false, and I'm starting to wonder if the teams I thought were stacked with talent are actually just stacked with big reputations.
As I throw out those two ideas and try to pick more based on recent trends and common sense, I think my picks will at least climb back over .500.
Let's start with what looks like an easy one and a line that's questionably low. Atlanta is rock solid at home, and this low line is a direct reflection of them being blown out at Philly last week. I'm not buying too much into that game. Kevin Kolb is underrated and Philly has a kick-butt offense. Atlanta is still solid.
I don't buy into Cincinnati at all. Carson Palmer's arm strength is all but gone, but he still tries to float deep balls regularly and he's not having much success at all. Matt Ryan is 11-3 ATS at home, and Mike Smith is 10-2 ATS following a loss. It all adds up to a Falcons victory, +3.5.
Redskins (3-3) @ Bears (4-2)
Predicted Line: CHI by 2
Actual Line: CHI by 3
By losing last week to Seattle at home, Jay Cutler proved that he's still not a good NFL quarterback, he proved what an idiot Mike Martz still is, and he proved that Chicago is not a playoff team. But, he also successfully made this line curiously low. Washington isn't playing well right now. They can't stop the run, they can't stop the pass,and they don't have the personnel to exploit Chicago's biggest weakness - pass protection. I see a big game coming for Matt Forte, and the Bears defense/special teams keeps them alive. All they've got to do is win by a field goal, so I'll take the Bears.
Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Dang you Jay Cutler, why do I keep forgetting how terrible you are!?! I will not take the Bears. I'll take the Redskins -3.
Eagles (4-2) @ Titans (4-2)
Predicted Line: TEN by 4
Actual Line: TEN by 3
Okay, so apparently all the games are going to be lines of 3, no matter who's playing. All right then.
Both of these teams are better than people realize, and this game should be pretty awesome. Kevin Kolb is running Reid's west-coast offense to near perfection right now, and although he'll be without DeSean Jackson, he's still got a nearly identical player in Maclin, not to mention a perfect west-coast tight end in Celek.
Tennessee is coming off a MNF blowout and Vince Young is slightly hurt, which might be the best thing that could happen to the Titans offense. Kerry Collins is a better game-manager. But Young is expected to play. Who knows. Either way, Chris Johnson should have his way against Ernie Sims and the lackluster, banged-up Philly defense.
I think this looks like a shootout (which of course means it's be 10-13) but will go with the Titans +3.
Jaguars (3-3) @ Chiefs (3-2)
Predicted Line: KC by 5
Actual Line: (No line - Garrard)
David Garrard hasn't been practicing since his concussion last week, and is unlikely to play. Compounding to the Jags problems, backup Trent Edwards has a thumb sprain and might play, but might not. The third stringer is Todd Bouman, the notorious 38 year old from St. Cloud College. He's currently on his fifth separate stint with the Jaguars. Must be related to the GM or something.
Anyhow, the current Vegas spread is set for 7 and that's assuming Garrard doesn't play, which is a safe bet. This is a lovely week for me to be playing against Maurice Jones-Drew in fantasy; no competent QB means 9 Chiefs in the box which means MJD continues to struggle.
These are probably the two teams I know the least about. I can't get any kind of read on Jacksonville. Beat the Colts, then lose at home by 30 two weeks later. Who are they?
Seven points is a lot, but I'll take KC.
Steelers (4-1) @ Dolphins (3-2)
Predicted Line: PIT by 3
Actual Line: PIT by 3
Another three point line, but this one is right on. And I'm thinking this fits the classic "Letdown game for the rapist QB returning from suspension, while the defensive leader who just got fined $75,000 for trying to kill two guys on the sucky rival team takes the day off and plays hands-off to make a point to the NFL that they are interfering too much" ... so I'll take Miami -3.
Quick note on the Steelers-Browns "rivalry,' because it's been a while since I vehemently raged against the stupid idiot Steelers. Last week, my wife (who spent 5 years claiming to be a diehard Steelers fan before I unearthed the obvious lie) asked me who the Steelers were playing. It's a typical Sunday question. Usually around 3pm when the Steelers game is practically over, she suddenly REALLY cares if they win or lose. Last week, I replied unimportantly "The Browns."
"Ugh!" she yelled in disgust. "We HATE the Browns!"
That's when I went off.
"You would!" I yelled. "Only you Steelers fans would pursue a rivalry with the worst team in the AFC, the perennially pathetic losers who haven't won a championship in their city in over 50 years and are no threat to you whatsoever! You could be rivals with Baltimore, or Cincinnati, but NO! You egomaniacal jerks have to beat the snot out of Cleveland twice a year and call it your rivalry! You make me sick! That'd be like the Lions saying their big 'rival' is Grand Valley and beating the crap out of them while the fans go crazy and congratulate each other on their awesomeness. You make me sick!"
She was not impressed by my unexpected rage, but merely replied, "It's because Cleveland is an hour away from Pittsburgh."
"Oh yeah.... forgot about that. Sorry."
That pretty much sums things up in a nutshell.
Uh, I'll take Miami -3.
Browns (1-5) @ Saints (4-2)
Predicted Line: NO by 13.5
Actual Line: NO by 13
Finally a line of more than 3! Wish I could just pick the Saints and call it a win for me, but that's the stinking thing about the spread picks. I miss the old days where this was a gimmie.
For this line, I'm leaning towards the Browns. As I've said before, Sean Peyton doesn't like to run up the score, and prefers to win gut-it-out games. On top of that, Colt McCoy looked pretty impressive against Pittsburgh last week in the big rivalry game and will get another start. What a gross way to begin an NFL career: at Pittsburgh (best defense ever), at New Orleans (best fans & Super Bowl champs). I do not envy Colt McCoy.
I do, however, love having Peyton Hillis on my fantasy team. Looks like another TD and 100 yards for me. I'll go Cleveland -13.
Rams (3-3) @ Buccaneers (3-2)
Predicted Line: Bucs by 4
Actual Line: Bucs by 3
Don't look now, but both of these teams have three wins. Actually, you can look now. There's no reason not to. Look whenever you want.
Can you believe it? Sam Bradford and Josh Freeman, both NFL quarterbacks with better records than Brett Favre, Tony Romo, and Phillip Rivers. Weird. They've beaten good teams too. Dare I say, both of these teams are solid.
But the major difference to me is Steven Jackson. He's quietly having an MVP season and should have zero problems running against Tampa Bay. He gives Sam Bradford a major luxury every single week - no dime coverage on 1st and 2nd down. I think the key stat in this game is that Tampa is 1-9 ATS at home under Raheem Morris. Everybody's going to point to St. Louis's lousy road record, but what about Tampa's lousy home record?
Rams are the better team (I think), so I'll take them -3. Sidenote: I picked up Josh Freeman during Peyton Manning's bye week. Hoping for at least 1 TD and 150 yards. All I need is 10 fantasy points and I'll be happy. Please Josh, I'm 5-1 and can't afford for you to make me lose singlehandedly. Don't mess this up.
49ers (1-5) @ Panthers (0-5)
Predicted Line: SF by 4
Actual Line: SF by 3
Of course, what else would the line be. That's six games with a line of 3. Insane.
Well this is certainly the Crap Bowl of the season. Could either of these teams possibly be more disappointing? No. No they could not.
I still like San Francisco's chances to win the NFC West at 6-10, but only in spite of Alex Smith, who has probably become the worst starting QB in the NFL outside of Buffalo. Well, unless you count Carolina QBs in that mix. They have been completely and totally worthless. Jimmy Claussen is headed back to the bench for this game, which means Matt Moore will be the one doing nothing. The running backs have both been disastrous (which I blame entirely on LT Jeff Otah's injury and think things will change when he comes back) and there's really no way anyone can bet on Carolina right now. I've gotta take San Fran +3.
Bills (0-5) @ Ravens (4-2)
Predicted Line: BAL by 15
Actual Line: BAL by 13
Man, it seems like Vegas is getting really uncreative. Close games get a line of 3 and blowouts get a line of 13. That's the general rule. OK, well I guess I'll take Baltimore.
Cardinals (3-2) @ Seahawks (3-2)
Predicted Line: SEA by 4
Actual Line: SEA by 5.5
Ah yes, the epic Battle for NFC West Supremacy!!
Uh, geez. This game promises to be ugly and hideous and full of stupidity. The best player on the field (Larry Fitzgerald) looks like he was ready to quit about 4 weeks ago. The next best player on the field .... I have no idea. Maybe Lofa Tatupu? Sheesh. I gotta think it'll be a close game and Arizona will cover.
Patriots (4-1) @ Chargers (2-4)
Predicted Line: SD by 1
Actual Line: SD by 3
My gut reaction is to take the Chargers because of how badly they need to win. I'm thinking, the Pats are flying cross-country and coming off an emotional win. I'm thinking the Chargers need this game after losing to St. Louis and will be fired up at home. But then the following brilliant quote entered my brain, and I'd like to share it with you.
"The team that NEEDS to win probably isn't that good to begin with."
On that note, realizing how bad San Diego's defense is and how generally amazing Tom Brady is, not to mention the injuries to Gates and Floyd (both on my fantasy team - ARGHGHG!!), I am going to pick New England to win outright and call it the Upset of the Week.
Raiders (2-4) @ Broncos (2-4)
Predicted Line: DEN by 6
Actual Line: DEN by 8
Duh, I don't know what I was thinking guessing 6. Bruce Gradkowski is still out with a shoulder, and Jason Campbell has a torn knee of some kind. I completely forgot that Kyle Boller is starting for the Raiders. Folks, you might want to check if the Denver defense is available in your fantasy league and pick them up right away. If I didn't have Baltimore and Pittsburgh, I would have already done so.
Can't imagine the Raiders staying competitive against the well-oiled Kyle Orton Machine. Nnamdia Asmougha will cover Brandon Lloyd to death, but that will leave Royal, Williams, Gaffney and the lot to gain 300+ yards. Hopefully Knowshon Moreno will have a worthwhile fantasy game for me too. He certainly should. Oakland can't stop the run.
It's always risky to pick favorites to cover spreads of 7+, especially teams as fundamentally flawed as Denver, but it's also pretty risky to roll with Kyle Boller. I'll take Denver +8. In fact, make it this week's LOCK.
Vikings (2-3) @ Packers (3-3)
Predicted Line: GB by 3
Actual Line: GB by 2.5
Hmm... so what should I say about Brett Favre? The 19 years in Green Bay, the sex-phone scandal, some witty Dockers joke? He's just too easy of a target right now.
This is a definite 'stay-away' game when it comes to betting. Not that I bet real money. But you know, if I did. There's no telling with either of these teams, especially in the emotional Favre Bowl where 50% of the fans will be unsure who to cheer for.
Green Bay has been decimated with injuries - Ryan Grant, JerMichael Finley, Clay Matthews, Atari Bigby, Ryan Pickett, Mark Tauscher - and has relied too heavily on Aaron Rodgers to carry them. He hasn't really been up for it. They've lost two consecutive overtime games, though, so let's be honest: Green Bay could easily be 5-1.
Minnesota hasn't had injuries - they've just been Favred to death week after week. The dude is forcing throws and looking like a 41 year old. He's staring down receivers - something he NEVER did in his prime - and losing velocity. He's just flatout playing badly. And the worst problem is, Adrian Peterson is being underused. He ranks 8th in the NFL in carries and is 13th among RBs in receiving targets. That's too low for a player as good as AP.
Both of these teams are flawed, but also extremely dangerous. Don't forget about the Randy Moss - Charles Woodson matchup.
I think injuries are the difference in this game, and Minnesota eeks it out. You just can't lose 6 of your 10 best players to injuries and expect to keep winning. I'll take the Vikes -2.5
Giants (4-2) @ Cowboys (1-4)
Predicted Line: DAL by 3
Actual Line: DAL by 3
Whatever. I have no chance of picking this game right. I either take Dallas because they're 'desperate' and they lose AGAIN because they're 'stupid', or I pick New York because Dallas keeps beating themselves with idiotic penalties and turnovers and then Dallas fixes all their problems and wins. Either way, I'll pick this game wrong. Only one way to choose. Heads is Dallas, tails is New York.
And tails it is. Go Giants!
Stay tuned for embarassing results and thoughts on the Lions next game, at home against Washington. Stafford will be ready to go by then. Is that a good thing?