So far 8-7 ATS and 11-4 SU ... needing the Saints to win by more than 7 and feeling pretty good about it. Also needing Brandon Jacobs to score less than 25 tonight in order to win the A League and keep my slim playoff hopes alive.
Some random news:
>Matt Leinart is out for the year with a broken shoulder. But is this a bad thing for Houston? Rookie T.J. Yates (a 5th rounder from UNC) is probably just as good and comes with no baggage. He's a game-manager with an average arm and as long as he limits the mistakes and lets Arian Foster control the game, Houston will be okay, at least as far as making the playoffs. But do you realize that the quarterbacks in the AFC postseason are going to be Brady, Roethlisberger, Flacco, Sanchez, Carson Palmer and TJ Yates? Can't we just skip the first two rounds and just right to Pittsburgh @ New England?
>Suh is going to be suspended, at least two games. I'm not surprised, but I am extremely annoyed. Suspensions shouldn't be given out based on reputation. 99% of the players in the league would not get suspended for doing exactly what Suh did. Imagine if Wes Welker did that. It would be considered 'fiery' and 'intense.' Then again, Wes Welker would never do something that stuhpid.
>The Bears lost, keeping them tied with Detroit at 7-4. The Bucs and Eagles also lost and are both 4-7, which means they aren't making the playoffs unless they win 5 straight and get some help. Atlanta and Dallas are also 7-4 after wins, and if the Giants somehow beat the Saints then both of those teams will be 7-4 too, which would be six 7-4 teams fighting for four playoff spots. But I think the Saints will win, knocking the Giants to 6-5 and giving Detroit an edge.
But, if the Giants do win, the Lions @ Saints next week becomes even more pivotal. Because a Lions win would make the Saints 7-5 and possibly crush their playoff hopes. Too bad our best defensive player had to get suspended ... but at least we'll get a whole game out of Nick Fairley.
>Indy fell to 0-11 and has a commanding lead in the Luck Draft. St. Louis and Minnesota are the only 2-win teams, and neither is in the market for a QB. But both are definitely in the market for the #2 pick (LT Matt Kalil probably). The rest of the top 10 is going to include some QB-needy teams, such as Miami, Washington, Seattle, Kansas City ... and also some teams that might be ready to jump ship on their current QBs and start over, such as Cleveland, Arizona, Jacksonville, and maybe Philly. There's going to be a lot of intrigue in the 1st round again, and with possible franchise quarterbacks in Barkley, Jones and Griffin, it might be another great Draft.
That also means there will be less action early in the Draft on DEs, LBs, CBs and OTs ... the positions that Detroit needs to address. My hope right now is that with the 20th-ish pick the Lions land OLB Courtney Upshaw from Alabama. Or the other Bama defender CB Dre Kirkpatrick, but he'll probably go in the top 10.
That's all for now. Go Saints.
My bad not getting the picks up before Thanksgiving ... but I have a 10 day old baby so I'm not apologizing too much. I took Green Bay -6, and although I had a glimmer of hope for the Lions I wasn't the least bit surprised that Green Bay covered. It was a predictable loss, but it doesn't change the fact that the Lions (now 7-4) have lost their Wildcard lead and now need to win some tough games (@New Orleans next Sunday night, @Oakland in two weeks, vs. San Diego the week after that) to keep themselves in playoff contention. Week 14 against Minnesota is the most winnable game left, but even that won't be easy. As for Week 17 at Lambeau ... our only hope is that Green Bay rests the starters and lets us win, but they probably won't do that if they're 15-0, which they probably will be. So while winning in the Superdome doesn't seem plausible, Detroit has to look at their primetime game in New Orleans as a must-win.
You know what would suck? If our second best player acted like a complete ass, slammed a guy's head into the turf 3 times, stomped on his arm, got ejected, denied the whole incident after the game, and gave himself a real good chance of getting suspended for the vital contest in New Orleans. It's likely that Suh will get fined (maybe 30K or something) because the incident really doesn't deserve suspension, but given his reputation and previous run-ins with Goddell, I won't be shocked if he gets suspended for 1 game and fined up to 100K.
I've defended Suh every time in the past, but this really was inexcusable. But I blame Schwartz as much as I blame Suh. Suh is just taking on the personality of his head coach. They're both a couple of hothead punks who need to learn some freaking discipline. The Suh play wasn't the only reason we lost, but it sure as heck didn't help.
The other primary problem was Matt Stafford, who played really poorly for the third straight game. Once the game was 27-8 with under 3 minutes left, Stafford could have aired out a few bombs to Megatron, likely throwing a pick but maaaybe scoring and trying the onside kick and going for the improbably comeback, but instead he chose to pad his stats with a meaningless 9 completions for 60 yards and a TD, running the clock down to the final seconds and giving the Lions no chance at winning. It was a page right out of the Harrington book. And because of that final drive, Stafford finished the game with an almost respectable QB rating of 66.5. But prior to that garbage-time drive, Stafford was 23/35 for 216 yards and no TDs (3 picks, plus 2 picks that were dropped, one of which would have been a pick-six), so his QB rating in the actual game where the Packers D was trying was a horrendous 46.8.
Wait ... I thought all Stafford had to do was stay healthy?? You mean he might not actually be great in every game?? Say it ain't so!! Blame it on his finger!! Surely it's got nothing to do with the fact that he's just an undisciplined punk who spends too much time partying and not enough time earning his $72 million dollar contract.
Anyway ... that's enough about the Lions. Let's get to the week 12 picks.
Cardinals (3-7) @ Rams (2-8)
Predicted Line: STL by 3
Actual Line: STL by 2.5
Let's get the NFC West out of the way ... I like the Rams, 27-14.
Bills (5-5) @ Jets (5-5)
Predicted Line: NYJ by 7
Actual Line: NYJ by 9
HUGE game in the AFC Wildcard race. Bad timing for the Bills, who just lost Fred Jackson for the year, and lost center Eric Wood last week, and lost starting CB Terrence McGee the week before, and still don't have NT Kyle Williams back from the foot injury that's kept him out for 6 weeks. They play their third straight road game against the Jets, and NFL teams are 11-24 ATS in third straight road games over the last few seasons. As much as I want the Bills to win, I just can't pick a team that's missing 4 of their best players to injuries. Jets 23-10.
Browns (4-6) @ Bengals (6-4)
Predicted Line: CIN by 6.5
Actual Line: CIN by 7
It's hard to believe the Browns have 4 wins. They've only scored more than 17 points once this season. In their last five games they've scored 14, 12, 12, 10, and 6. But look at who they've beat this year: Tavaris Jackson, Kerry Collins, Blaine Gabbert, and Chad Henne. Dalton is better than any of those guys, and the Bengals D is really becomming solid. But they lost star CB Leon Hall two weeks ago, and AJ Green is still less than 100%. Even if Green plays, Joe Haden can probably shut him down, and Cincy doesn't really have an offensive playmakers outside of Green. Let's go with Browns +7 ... Cincy wins a snoozer, 13-9.
Texans (7-3) @ Jags (3-7)
Predicted Line: HOU by 3
Actual Line: HOU by 5
Huh? Matt Leinart by 5 on the road?? Yeah I know he's got an All Pro receiver, a great running back and a great offensive line ... but can't the Jags put 8 in the box and force Leinart to convert some 3rd downs? That Jacksonville defense is pretty underrated, and I don't think anyone realizes how bad Leinart is going to be. I like the Jags in a massive upset, 17-13.
Panthers (2-8) @ Colts (0-10)
Predicted Line: CAR by 6.5
Actual Line: CAR by 3
Whatever. Indy doesn't deserve to be within 3 of anybody. Cam Newton is going to CRUSH them. Even if the Colts were trying (which they aren't), this game wouldn't be close. Panthers 34-17. Why hasn't Jim Caldwell been fired yet...?
Bucs (4-6) @ Titans (5-5)
Predicted Line: TEN by 3
Actual Line: TEN by 3.5
Both teams need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Titans are probably a little bummed that Hasselbeck's injury wasn't more serious; Jake Locker looked like a stud last week in Atlanta. But Hass will play, and either QB should be successful against the struggling Bucs D. Tampa hasn't been able to stopp anyone since Gerald McCoy's injury; even the ghost of Chris Johnson should be able to put up solid yardage. This game is really pretty even. Both teams are just a notch above average. I like Tampa and the points. How about Titans 23-20 in OT.
Vikings (2-8) @ Falcons (6-4)
Predicted Line: ATL by 12.5 (AP out)
Actual Line: ATL by 9
Like Carolina, Minnesota is much better than their 2-8 record indicates. If either of those teams had Cleveland's schedule, they'd be a tidy 6-4 and looking at a Wildcard. But alas, Christian Ponder's going to take another loss here, and that stinks for Detroit because it means the Vikings are nearing pretty close to a top 5 pick next April. The big prize after Andrew Luck is stud left tackle Matt Kalil from USC. Minnesota could certainly use him.
With no Peterson in this game, it'll be Toby Gerhart, a white dude from Stanford, and that isn't going to work. Unfortunately for Detroit, Atlanta's going to win big, 34-14.
Bears (7-3) @ Raiders (6-4)
Predicted Line: OAK by 4.5
Actual Line: OAK by 4
In a way turn of events, Kyle Orton was cut by the Broncos on Tuesday. Then the madness ensued; Chicago, KC, and several other teams with undesirable quarterback situations placed bids. For whatever reason, KC got him, and Chicago is stuck with Caleb Hanie in the wake of Cutler's broken thumb.
Since nobody knows anything about Hanie, here's the Wikipedia scoop: played college football at Colorado, was undrafted in 2008, barely made the Bears roster as their 3rd string QB, played in a few games last year, had terrible stats, lost all the games he played in ... so yeah, you're probably wondering the same thing as me. Why isn't this line ten points higher?
I'll take the Raiders, 33-17. Matt Forte can only do so much.
Redskins (3-7) @ Seahawks (4-6)
Predicted Line: SEA by 4.5
Actual Line: SEA by 3.5
I hate these kinds of games. Rex Grossman against Tavaris Jackson. Who gives a freaking crap. Seahawks at home by 6.
Patriots (7-3) @ Eagles (4-6)
Predicted Line: NE by 5.5
Actual Line: NE by 3.5
Vick is officially ruled out, so it'll be Vince Young against Tom Brady. That was enough to make me lean towards the Patriots, but when Philly's best player (Asomugha) was carted off the field in practice and ruled out for at least this week, it became a no-brainer. No chance that Philly can slow down the Pats offense. Pats by 13.
Broncos (5-5) @ Chargers (4-6)
Predicted Line: SD by 3.5
Actual Line: SD by 6
A lot of athletes are described as 'polarizing.' LeBron, A-Rod, Kobe ... but usually, 'polarizing' is just a euphamism for a guy everybody hates. How many players are actually liked by half the fans and disliked by half the fans? Isn't Tebow the only truly polarizing player in sports? You can't not have an opinion on Tebow.
My opinion has shifted all over the spectrum, but I'm getting pretty close to deciding what I think. He's got Roethlisberger's body, Mother Teresa's heart, and the arm of a slightly-above average high school quarterback. He can miss a wide open receiver from 5 yards away, or he can hit an open Eric Decker 45 yards downfield. It makes no sense, it's utterly unpredictable, but he's got one thing that Phillip Rivers and all other pro quarterbacks do not have: the heart of Mother freaking Teresa.
So I don't know, maybe the Chargers will blow the crap out of the Broncos and make the AFC West a good race. They probably should. But I'm sure as heck taking the points, especially given the way Von Miller is playing right now, and the fact that Champ Bailey might be able to shut down Vincent Jackson, and the fact that Antonio Gates is just one big stupid injured foot pretending to be a football player. Chargers straight-up, I guess, reluctantly, but by less than 6.
Steelers (7-3) @ Chiefs (4-6)
Predicted Line: PIT by 8
Actual Line: PIT by 10.5
Giants (6-4) @ Saints (7-3)
Predicted Line: NO by 7.5
Actual Line: NO by 7
and Saints 31-17.