Thursday, October 25, 2012

Week 8 Picks

Last week: 
8-3-2 ATS
10-3 straight up


51-51-4 ATS
59-45 straight up 

Starting to turn things around.  Here are the week 8 picks: 

Bucs (2-4) @ Vikings (5-2)
Predicted Line: MIN by 6.5

Actual Line: MIN by 7

Another low-scoring Thursday game.  I'll take the points, but say Vikes win again, 20-16. 

Panthers (1-5) @ Bears (5-1)
Predicted Line: CHI by 8

Actual Line: CHI by 9 

It's going to take more than a 5-1 start for me to believe in Jay Cutler.  Cam Newton is the far better quarterback, and yet he's a 9 point underdog.  Yes, the Bears defense is fifty times better than the Panthers defense, and yes these teams have momentum going in opposite directions, but based solely on the talent level and competitiveness of the quarterbacks, I'll take those points.  Bears 27-23.  

Chargers (3-3) @ Browns (1-5)

Predicted Line: SD by 3
Actual Line: SD by 2.5

I think the Chargers will play like crap, despite coming off a bye.  I think Norv Turner is too busy thinking about getting fired to adequately create a gameplan,  and I think Rivers is officially past his prime, and I think Ryan Matthews was a terrible 1st round fantasy pick for me and will continue to be so throughout the entire season with his fumbles and lack of speed. Also, the Bolts defense is not very good at all, and Trent Richardson might run all over them, and Cleveland has a better homefield advantage than people think.  Despite all that, I still think San Diego covers.  That's how little confidence I have in Cleveland and Brandon Weeden. Bolts 16-13. 

Seahawks (4-3) @ Lions (2-4)

Predicted Line: SEA by 2.5
Actual Line:  DET by 1.5 

After watching the Tigers completely blow game 1 of the World Series thanks to Verlander's inexplicably unlucky game, I'm too depressed to even think about this game.  If Seattle wins, the season is basically over.  I would feel a lot better if Detroit were the underdog so they could play off their own self-loathing as they like to do. But I digress ... 

The Lions' squad is full of obvious deficiencies,  but we expected this going into the year.  We knew the secondary would be awful and we knew the running game would struggle.  Most of the players have done what we expected. Nonetheless,  they are only a few plays away from being 4-2 or 5-1. 

In my opinion, only two players have massively underperformed, and those players are Stafford and Suh.  Both should be elite players at their positions,  based on their draft position and how they've played the last 2 seasons.  But both are liabilities.  Suh generates more penalties than sacks, and more bad PR than good plays on the field. Even when he gets a sack, he has to bend the guy backwards over his knee and slam his head to the grass, which wasn't necessary and just reinforces the notion that Suh is a villain.  

And Stafford continues to impersonate Joey Harrington with his complete lack of urgency on third downs, his inaccuracy on short passes, and his utter failure to recognize and navigate a pass rush.  The offensive line is getting blamed by people who don't know anything about football.  It's not Backus or Raiola's fault that Stafford can't step up in the pocket, move his feet, and deliver the ball quickly.  Scouts always talk about quarterback's footwork.  Peyton Manning is known for his footwork more than anything else.  Have you ever watched Drew Brees play?  What percent of plays does he physically step forward to evade the pass rush, and buy himself 2 seconds to throw? 90%?  How many times has Stafford done that through 6 games?  Once?  Maybe twice? 

Last season, Stafford was doing the little things that successful QBs do.  Stepping up in the pocket, looking off the safety, buying time with his feet, and throwing "catchable" balls that weren't just accurate, but hit the receiver perfectly in the hands.  This year, he's doing none of those things.  It's unexplainable.  Nothing has changed, other than adding Ryan Broyles and Riley Reiff and another year of offseason experience.  The only possible explanations are: 

1) He spent the offseason partying, drinking, and being a frat boy like Matt Leinart, instead of watching film and working out like any of the elite quarterbacks who actually try to earn their colossal contracts. 

2) The Madden Curse is manifesting itself in Calvin's quarterback.  

I'm leaning towards #1 as the reason why Stafford sucks this year. And unfortunately I don't think he will get much better as the year goes on. I think we've seen a big enough sample size to say that Stafford has declined. In 6 games, he's only had a QB rating above 80 one time.  That's downright awful. It's his rookie year all over again. 

This should be another game that comes down to the final 30 seconds or so, as all Detroit contests do, and I think it's time for things to bounce Detroit's way.  Lions 27-26 on a last second play. Why not.  

Jaguars (1-5) @ Packers (4-3)
Predicted Line: GB by 13.5

Actual Line: GB by 15 

Nothing in the NFL makes enough sense this year for me to lay 15 points.  Could happen, probably should happen, but there's a real good chance Jacksonville wins by some outrageous score like 12-9.  I will say Pack roll but the Jags cover with a late TD.  34-24. 

Colts (3-3) @ Titans (3-4)
Predicted Line: TEN by 2.5

Actual Line: TEN by 3.5 

In two road games, Indy has been blown out twice, scoring an average of just 15 points.  The Titans, on the other hand, got blown out in their first four games (I'm not including that abomination against Detroit as a "game"), but have now won two straight with Matt Hasselbeck.  It helps that Chris Johnson decided to play like an actual NFL running back, though it took him 5 weeks, which is the equivalent of about 4 million wasted dollars. It makes sense to like the Titans in this game, but I'm overriding common sense and sticking with my gut, which still says that Andrew Luck is closer to being an elite QB than people think.  Colts 23-20.

Patriots (4-3) vs. Rams (3-4) in London 
Predicted Line:  NE by 12
Actual Line: NE by 7 

The only thing I don't like about these London games is that somebody loses a home game. That's a huge disadvantage.  I don't have a clue how to remedy that problem, other than: don't play in London, or have a London team.  If I had to choose between those options, I'd say don't play in London.  We don't need a bunch of Brits telling us how futbol is better than football. 

Anyway, Patriots are long overdue for a blow out, and they always play well in London.  38-23. 

Dolphins (3-3) @ Jets (3-4)
Predicted Line: NYJ by 3.5

Actual Line: NYJ by 1 

Flip a coin.  Both teams are stupid.  It's tails.  Jets -1.  

Falcons (6-0) @ Eagles (3-3)
Predicted Line: ATL by 2.5
Actual Line: PHI by 3 

Apparently, Michael Vick used to play for the Falcons. I might've taken Philly if they were a home underdog, but I sure don't want them as a 3 point favorite, especially a week after they fired their defensive coordinator.  I know Andy Reid is 9-0 coming off a bye, but he's probably never faced a team like this year's Falcons in any of those 9 games.  This line just makes no sense.  Falcons 23-19. 

Redskins (3-4) @ Steelers (3-3)
Predicted Line: PIT by 3
Actual Line: PIT by 4

Nobody wants to bet against RG3 right now, and I'm back in that camp.  The Steelers will be without Polamalu again, and they have no healthy running backs, so they probably shouldn't be favored by 4.  Heck, I'll say Redskins in a stunner, 34-31. 

Raiders (2-4) @ Chiefs (1-5)
Predicted Line: KC by 1
Actual Line: KC by 1

Another important game in the battle for the #1 pick.  

Geno Smith, coming off two lousy losses, has possibly fallen behind USC's Matt Barkley for the top pick.  It's going to be pretty close anyway.  They should be the top two picks, although Kansas State's Collin Klein has been amazing and might come out of nowhere to be the #1 pick if he keeps up this pace.  

This game is horrible to think about.  Oakland's terrible defense against Brady Quinn ...yuck.  I don't even care what happens.  I'll just take the home team. 

Giants (5-2) @ Cowboys (3-3)
Predicted Line: DAL by 2

Actual Line: NYG by 3

I guess DeMarco Murray's injury is the reason this line is so strange.  But Dallas doesn't really use him anyway. The NFC East always ends up coming down to week 17, so I can't imagine the Giants running away with it in week 8.  Cowboys in a surprising stompdown, 30-13. 

Saints (2-4) @ Broncos (3-3)
Predicted Line: DEN by 4

Actual Line: DEN by 6

I do like Peyton coming off a bye, but I don't like Drew Brees as a touchdown underdog.  Forget everyone else in this game, this is a QB duel and it'll be closer than 6.  Broncos by 2. 

49ers (5-2) @ Cardinals (4-3)
Predicted Line: SF by 3

Actual Line: SF by 7

Way too many points to give a homedog.  And how can Alex Smith cover 7 points against a really good defense? I don't feel good about this pick either way, because the Cardinals could easily get shut out, but I will take the points and say Niners 20-16. 

That's the week 8 picks.  Let's hope the Tigers don't get swept.  And go Lions.   

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