Thursday, September 26, 2013

Week 4 picks

Week three recap:
11-5 straight up
9-6-1 against the spread

32-16 straight up
23-22-3 against the spread

What happened in week 3 -- The Chiefs, Dolphins and Bears became the surprising 3-0 teams, with the Saints, Pats, Broncos and Seahawks being less surprising but equally undefeated.   The Jags fell to 0-3, which is to be expected, but the Giants, Vikings, Redskins, Bucs, and Steelers also saw stayed winless. Really, all five of those teams had realistic playoff hopes which are now in the burning dumpster.

Green Bay and San Francisco shockingly fell to 1-2, Josh Freeman was benched indefinitely for rookie Mike Glennon, Aldon Smith left the NFL for rehab, Nate Burleson broke his arm in a car accident (idiot), and Peyton Manning looks like he might be in store for the best season any QB has ever had.  Lots of other stories and injuries and idiosyncrasies, but let's just jump into the picks.

Week Four picks

49ers (1-2) @ Rams (1-2)
Predicted Line:  SF by 4

Actual Line:  SF by 3

It sure looks like this line is too low at first glance, but then consider the injuries:  San Fran is without Aldon Smith, Vernon Davis, and maybe Patrick Willis.  That's a pretty impressive list of injured players, and then when you consider their ineffective running game and Kaepernick's apparent decline, this spread starts to make sense.   Especially when you consider that the Rams took the Niners to overtime both times they played last year, resulting in a Rams' win and a tie.  Jeff Fisher does know how to coach against these guys.

But, I'm a believer in sticking to what you believe, and I believe in Colin Kaepernick, and I won't let two games dissuade me from that.  If this line were a few points higher, I'd lean toward the Rams, but 3 points is a nice bargain.   49ers 27-23.

Bears (3-0) @ Lions (2-1)
Predicted Line:  CHI by 1.5
Actual Line:  DET by 3

Stafford is better than Cutler, Calvin is better than Marshall, and Bush+Bell is pretty close to a constantly banged-up Forte.  Both offensive lines struggle, though the Bears are a little better.

The Lions have the superior defensive line, but the Bears are much better in the back 7.

As far as talent, these teams are closely matched. Detroit probably has the edge because of Calvin and Suh, the two best players in this game, and because of a slight QB edge.  But if it comes down to coaching, depth and execution, the Bears are clearly the better team.  This should be one of those back-and-forth games that the Lions either escape with a miracle or blow it with a stupid penalty. I'm thinking the latter.  Bears 26-24.

Steelers (0-3) vs. Vikings (0-3) in London
Predicted Line:  PIT by 1.5
Actual Line:  PIT by 3

The case against Minnesota: lousy team with a lousy coach starting their backup QB against a desperate team with a great coach.

The case for Minnesota:  are we sure Matt Cassel isn't a significant upgrade over Christian Ponder?

Vikings have the best player in the game (AP), a matchup nightmare with Jared Allen, and the strange possibility of Cassel sparking a breakout game for Kyle Rudolph and/or Cordarelle Patterson.   Steelers really have nothing to be excited about - no running game, no blocking, Roethlisberger going through the motions, and a defense of has-beens.

Speaking of Roethlisberger, his career arc is a amazingly similar to the original Big Ben, referring, of course, to the afroed superstar who played for the Pistons.  Both guys had a unique and defining trademark (help-side defense for Wallace; lucky-ass plays on 3rd and long with 2 minutes left for Roethlisberger), and both guys had a severe and unmaskable set of weaknesses (any semblance of an offensive game for Wallace; accuracy, decision-making and decency as a human being for Roethlisberger).   Both guys relied on great teammates and the Big Ben moniker to carve out mini-legacies and play in a few championship games, and were even considered Hall of Fame players in their primes. Then, as they entered their early 30s, both guys were utterly exposed as the mediocre players their fan bases always knew they were.  

So in other words, don't be surprised if Roethlisberger ends up 3rd string on the Raiders before long, a pathetic shell of his former self.

I'm taking the Vikings in a bit of a shocker, 20-16.  

Ravens (2-1) @ Bills (1-2)
Predicted Line:  BAL by 3

Actual Line:  BAL by 3.5

I'm all about the Ravens as the most underrated defending champs I've ever seen.  That defense is seriously good.  And Ray Rice's backup, Bernard Pierce, might be better than Ray Rice.  And Buffalo might be without Mario Williams, Jarius Byrd, Stephon Gilmore, AND Leodis McKelvin for this game.  That's 4 of their best defensive players.  Ravens win 24-20.

Bengals (2-1) @ Browns (1-2)
Predicted Line: CIN by 4.5

Actual Line: CIN by 4

Joe Haden against A.J. Green is the only reason to care about this game.  That is a heavyweight matchup.  Because of Haden's potential to shut down Green, this could be low-scoring, so I'll take the points.  Bengals 16-13.

Colts (2-1) @ Jags (0-3)
Predicted Line:  IND by 9.5

Actual Line:  IND by 9

Another homedog that I don't know what to do with.  Jacksonville is an abomination, but 9 points for a road favorite with a lousy defense.  I mean, the Colts defense is crap, right?  And Justin Blackmon and MJD are back.

So I should take the points and say Colts by 6 or something. But I just keep siding with Andrew Luck. The dude's unstoppable.  Heck, it worked for me last week.  Colts 27-13.

Seahawks (3-0) @ Texans (2-1)
Predicted Line:  SEA by 5

Actual Line:  SEA by 3

A fourth straight homedog.  There's just no way you can pick against the Seahawks right now, the way Russell Wilson is playing.  And that stupendous freaking defense.   Seattle 28-13.

Cardinals (1-2) @ Bucs (0-3)
Predicted Line:  ARZ by 2.5

Actual Line:  TB by 2.5

So the Mike Glennon Era finally commences!  It's about time!

Just kidding.

We've got Revis shutting down Fitzgerald, Glennon shutting down himself, and a pretty good Cardinals defense putting 10 in the box against Doug Martin.  Sounds like a battle of field position.  Arizona has the league's best punt returner, and Tampa seems to hate their coach, so I guess I'll take a fifth straight road team to win straight up.  Cardinals 13-6.

Giants (0-3) @ Chiefs (3-0)
Predicted Line:  KC by 4.5

Actual Line:  KC by 5

Andy Reid and Tom Coughlin have coached against each other like 30 times.  So that's one reason to think this game will be close.  Plus, the underdogs have the better quarterback, which is another logical reason to take the points.  And aren't we overdue for one of those 12 catch, 230 yard games for Victor Cruz?  I don't know, call me crazy, but Giants 30-27.  Watch the G-men claw their way back into the playoff picture.

Jets (2-1) @ Titans (2-1)
Predicted Line:  TEN by 3.5

Actual Line:  TEN by 3.5

I continue to understand nothing about these two teams.  Guess I'll take the points at least.  Titans 23-20.

Cowboys (2-1) @ Chargers (1-2)
Predicted Line:  SD by 1

Actual Line:  DAL by 2

Our sixth homedog of the week, but this is the least logical one.  Dallas is not trustworthy, on the road or anywhere.  HOWEVER, my DeMarco Murray crush appears to be well-founded, and his injury problems appear to be overstated.  If he keeps running like he's been running, he's got a chance to be the best running back in the league not named Adrian Peterson.   For that reason, and that reason alone, I'm stupidly taking the Cowboys +2.   Let's say 26-23.

Redskins (0-3) @ Raiders (1-2)
Predicted Line:  WAS by 3

Actual Line:  WAS by 3.5

Make that seven homedogs.  Unprecedented.

Washington sure looks awful, and Terrellee Pryor looks feisty, but like I said about the San Fran game, you've got to stick with what you know, even if it doesn't seem to make any sense.  And I know two things:  RG3 is not as bad as he's looked so far, and Oakland is barely a NCAA roster.   So I'm giving those 3.5 points, and I'm actually thinking the Redskins go on the road and finally snap out of their funk, winning something like 27-21.

Eagles (1-2) @ Broncos (3-0)
Predicted Line:  DEN by 10

Actual Line:  DEN by 10.5

I have to agree with, who says that the 2013 Broncos need to be treated like the 2007 Patriots, meaning they should be favored by around 20 no matter who they play.  That offense is going to score at least 35 points every game.  And against this ghastly Philly defense .... the sky's the freaking limit.  Let's say Denver 49-35.

Patriots (3-0) @ Falcons (1-2)
Predicted Line:  NE by 3

Actual Line:  ATL by 2

Brady is 16-7 against the spread as an underdog in his career.  That's 70%, which is good enough for me.  Plus all those Falcons injuries .... Pats 24-23.

Dolphins (3-0) @ Saints (3-0)
Predicted Line:  NO by 8.5
Actual Line:  NO by 6.5

The Cameron Wake injury should have bumped this spread up a few points.  It's gonna be another massive Drew Brees game, and while Ryan Tannehill has far surpassed my expectations for him, he's not going to be able to keep pace.   Saints 34-27.

Alright.   Go Lions.
(Picked the road team in 11 of 15 games ... this is gonna be a brutal week)

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