Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week 11 Picks

Week ten recap:
9-5 straight up
8-5-1 against the spread
7-5-2 over/unders

99-48 straight up (67.3%)
76-65-6 against the spread (53.9%)
22-15-3 over/unders (59%) 

It was a good week to pick underdogs.  My picks were 10 to 3 in favor of underdogs, and underdogs indeed went 8-4-1 against the spread, including 7 straight up victories.  None was more shocking than the Rams annihilation of the playoff-bound Colts, although the Jags and Bucs getting their first victories of the season was also noteworthy.  Now the 2-win teams (Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota) are only a game away from the #1 overall pick, which will equate to either a franchise QB, a once-in-a-decade pass rusher, or a bevy of future first round picks. In other words, get ready for some poorly-disguised tanking.  

Perhaps no team had a better week 10 than the Lions, who swept the Bears, took sole control of the division, saw Seneca Wallace get hurt (who the hell is Scott Tolzien??), and exposed how truly terrible the Bears defense is. Forget the Wildcard. Detroit is now playing for a division title and maybe a homefield playoff game.  

And that's particularly lucky because the Wildcard is not going to be easy.  Carolina has won 5 straight, Arizona is 5-4 and might have the best defense in the NFC, and of course San Francisco will be in the mix.   Detroit's upcoming schedule --  @Pittsburgh, vs. Tampa, vs. Rodgers-less Packers, @Philly, vs. Baltimore, vs. Giants, and @Vikings -- is extremely favorable, as six of those seven teams have terrible defenses, and none of them have a top-ten quarterback.  In fact, the only quarterback I'm slightly afraid of on that docket is Nick Foles (AKA my fantasy savior).  

Speaking of fantasy darling QBs, I've seen enough from both Foles and Case Keenum to say they fully deserve a shot to be their team's starting QB next season.  Keenum looks eerily like a 2006 Romo (that's a compliment, by the way) and Foles - who doesn't really fit the Chip Kelly offense - looks like he has an elite arm and rare pocket poise.  It'll be interesting, as the 2014 draft is loaded with read-option QBs.  The last thing Philly needs is to keep Foles, draft a QB, and then have a controversy all year long.  What they should do is invest in the defense, let Foles play 2014 like he's the man, and if he fails, get a QB in 2015.  Marcus Mariota - the Oregon phenom sophomore - will likely stay in college for one more season and then be the top pick in 2015.  Just saying.  

The biggest bummer of the week was Jake Locker - who I started with confidence in two of my three leagues - breaking his foot early in the game against Jacksonville.  He's lost for the year and his future with the Titans is in limbo.  Their playoff hopes (along with the Raiders, Bills, and Chargers) are also morose at best. 

I'm making two bold and fairly stupid predictions right now.  Both the Ravens and the Giants will make the postseason.  The Giants - who started 0-6 and were blown out in four of those games - are now 3-6, soon to be 4-6, with three remaining games within the division.  They'll win the East at 8-8 on a tiebreaker.  The Ravens, who were looking dead in the water at 3-5, are about to go on a 5-game winning streak, and will ultimately win the AFC North in a winner-take-all matchup against Cincinnati week 17.   

And of course, 9-0 Kansas City plays 8-1 Denver this week, and then against two weeks later.  We'll get to that shortly.  

Here are the week 11 picks. 

Colts (6-3) @ Titans (4-5)
Predicted Line:  IND by 6

Actual Line:  IND by 3 

Getting some line value here, thanks to the Colts' massive loss against St. Louis.  But in a battle between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andrew Luck, this line seems kind of silly, right?  Especially considering that Chris Johnson has reverted back to 2.5 YPC.   Indy's defense is bad, but Tennessee's offense under Fitzpatrick is just as bad.  

Let's not overreact to the Rams-Colts game.  That was basically just four huge plays - a fumble, a punt return, two long passes - that went in favor of the Rams.  The Colts had more yards and more first downs by a considerable number.  The Rams do have an excellent defense, but the Colts aren't nearly as bad as they looked on Sunday.  I think it's a good bargain to take the favorites here since the line is so low.  It'll probably be Indy by 4.5 by gameday.  Indy 27-20.    By the way, what happened to Trent Richardson?  Is he still alive?
(Over 43) 

Lions (6-3) @ Steelers (3-6)
Predicted Line:  DET by 3
Actual Line:  DET by 3 

Isn't it amazing how much better the Lions are than the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers?  We have the better passing game, the better running game, the better quarterback, the better offensive line, and I daresay, even the better defense.  

Now on the flipside, Pittsburgh has a far superior coach and a great homefield advantage, so by no means is this a gimme.  Our cornerbacks were completely hapless against Marshall and Jeffrey, so I'd similarly expect solid games from Antonio Brown and Sanders/Cotchery, which will probably keep the game close.  But Pittsburgh's slow, old defense won't be able to stop the Calvin/Reggie tandem.  Their pass rush, which used to be so dominant, is barely existent at this point. LaMarr Woodley is still good, Polamalu is obviously still a stud, and middle linebacker Lawrence Timmons is one of the best chase-and-tackle guys in the league.  But the rest of the defense is very below average.  Their starting cornerbacks (Taylor & Gay) don't stand a chance against Calvin Johnson.  Also, this might be the long-anticipated return of Nate Burleson!!  I can't hardly contain my excitement. He might catch 2 passes for 13 yards.  

I realize I have been taking the Lions like a homer all season, and I'm doing my best to look at this objectively ... but I still just see a huge mismatch in so many areas.  Roethlisberger loves to get sacked, the Steelers can't block, Suh and Fairley in the middle ... yeah, I'm taking the Lions.  27-23.
(Over 47.5) 

Falcons (2-7) @ Bucs (1-8)
Predicted Line:  ATL by 1.5
Actual Line:  ATL by 2

This is a no-win situation for me.  I've taken Atlanta in 4 of their last 5 games and lost each time.  They are coming off three straight blowouts (all against playoff-caliber teams, granted).  They can't seem to compete with anyone since losing Julio Jones.  They even lost to the Jets in a game which they were favored to win by 10.  

But then there's Tampa.  How has Greg Schiano not been fired yet?  He's made a complete mockery of that franchise, he's more dispised by his fan base than any coach in any sport right now.  And yet, the 1-8 Bucs could conceivably be 5-4.  They outplayed Seattle in Seattle two weeks ago, and then those same Seahawks turned around and pummeled Atlanta.   So I'm actually inclined to take Tampa.  What the heck.  Bucs 27-24.  
(Over 43) 

Jets (5-4) @ Bills (3-7)
Predicted Line:  NYJ by 1

Actual Line:  BUF by 1 

Two rookie QBs, two pretty good defenses.  This is a classic coinflip.  So, I literally just flipped a coin.  I'm taking the Jets.  Let's say 23-21.
(Over 41) 

Redskins (3-6) @ Eagles (5-5)
Predicted Line:  PHI by 4

Actual Line:  PHI by 3.5

Question:  who is the best quarterback in the NFC East right now?  Is it the two-time Super Bowl MVP?  The reigning Rookie of the Year who was recently worth three 1st round picks?  Or the guy who routinely throws for 400 yards and 3 TDs in losing efforts?   

How about none of them.  Nick Stinkin Foles has not thrown an interception this season, he has SIXTEEN touchdowns and among QBs with 100 attempts, he's first in YPA, first in QB rating, and tenth in completion percentage.  There are TEN quarterbacks who have thrown at least twice as many passes as Foles and yet have thrown fewer touchdown passes:  Flacco, Brady, Ben, RG3, Tannehill, Eli, Palmer, Luck, Alex & Geno Smith.  

Matt Stafford has thrown 237 more passes than Foles, and has three more touchdowns.  

I know it's skewed by the 7-td performance, but we can't act like the 7-td performance didn't happen.  This guy is throwing the deep ball better than anybody right now.   

Everybody I've read is jumping all over the Redskins because of that half-point.  If the Eagles only win by 3, whatever.  I'm rolling with Foles.  Philly 30-23.
(Under 53) 

Ravens (4-5) @ Bears (5-4)
Predicted Line:  CHI by 1.5
Actual Line:  CHI by 3 

If I'm going to pick Baltimore to make the playoffs, I guess I ought to back it up.    Although Josh McCown is an upgrade over Cutler, he's not going to revitalize the offense entirely;  Baltimore's defense is extremely good and has been underrated since week 2.  Plus Matt Forte looks like he's wearing lead shoes.  On the other side of the ball, Baltimore's crap offense should be able to move the ball against the Bears' crap defense.  This game has ugly written all over it. Let's say Ravens 20-16.
(Under 46.5) 

Browns (4-5) @ Bengals (6-4)
Predicted Line:  CIN by 4.5
Actual Line:  CIN by 6

Two many points in a divisional game, with the Bengals missing their two best defenders, and Joe Haden covering A.J. Green.   Cleveland's defense is good.   Bengals 16-13.  
(Under 42.5)

Raiders (3-6) @ Texans (2-7)
Predicted Line:  HOU by 3.5
Actual Line:  HOU by 7 

When you're on a 7 game losing streak, your franchise QB falls apart mentally and then induces cheers from the home crowd when he gets injured, your franchise player (Foster) needs back surgery, your coach inexplicably passes out on the sideline and Wade Phillips takes over, you just released your prized free agent acquisition in the middle of the season,  and your playoff hopes are completely obliterated as your watch Andrew Luck dominate the division just like Peyton Manning used to .... the best possible remedy is a home game against Matt McGloin.  

Who is Matt McGloin, you ask?  I have absolutely no idea.  Apparently, he is an undrafted rookie QB from Penn State.  As a general rule, when you only complete 57% of your passes in college and lose to teams called Ohio and Virginia, you aren't going to succeed in the NFL.  Oakland can't wait to get Terrelle Pryor back.  Texans 24-14.  Here comes the big Ben Tate game we've been waiting for all these years.   
(Under 42)

Cardinals (5-4) @ Jaguars (1-8)
Predicted Line:  ARZ by 6.5
Actual Line:  ARZ by 7

Copy-pasting on this one:  "I'm not a fan of laying a touchdown on the road with a mediocre team, but this is a special case because the Jaguars are an abomination. They got their fluke win out of the way, so now they'll continue to do what they do best - lose by double digits." 

Cards 24-16.
(Under 41) 

Chargers (4-5) @ Dolphins (4-5)
Predicted Line:  MIA by 2.5
Actual Line:   SD by 1.5 

93% of the betting on the road team. Nobody wants to touch the Martin-Incognito fiasco right now.  Whatever - I'll take the home dog.  This spread doesn't make sense for two evenly matched teams.  Miami 23-20.  
(Under 45.5) 

Vikings (2-7) @ Seahawks (9-1)
Predicted Line:  SEA by 12.5
Actual Line:  SEA by 13

Minnesota is the shrewd pick here, as Seattle has looked vulnerable against the run lately and AP is somewhat of a legend in the making.  It wouldn't shock me at all if Peterson had a monster game and kept it close, maybe even pulled off the upset.  But the more I think about Christian Ponder against the league's best secondary in the league's toughest stadium, the more I envision his stat line being something like 9 for 22 for 85 yards and 3 INTs. Seattle 27-13.  
(Under 46)

49ers (6-3) @ Saints (7-2)
Predicted Line:  NO by 3.5

Actual Line:  NO by 2.5

I was hoping to take the Niners to cover in a close game, but this spread is too low.  Saints by a field goal I guess.  33-30.
(Over 47.5) 

Packers (5-4) @ Giants (3-6)
Predicted Line:  NYG by 4.5
Actual Line:  NYG by 6

I'm going to have to pick against Scott Tolzier just on principle.  Giants 27-20.
(Over 42) 

Chiefs (9-0) @ Broncos (8-1)
Predicted Line:  DEN by 4.5
Actual Line:  DEN by 8

There's at least a 40% chance the Chiefs win straight up, so I've gotta take these points.  Denver 31-27. 
(Over 49.5)

Patriots (7-2) @ Panthers (6-3)
Predicted Line:  NE by 1.5

Actual Line:  CAR by 1 

Carolina is simply the better team. Panthers 26-16. 
(Under 46) 

Go Lions!!!! 

PS - Flying to India tomorrow.  

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