World Cup qualifiers are also this weekend, but probably passing on all of them. Only possible plays are Bolivia at home to Brazil in a meaningless game as Brazil is already qualified and Bolivia is out of the running. Bolivia’s players recently lifted their strike after threatening to not play in the final two qualifiers. They are not a good team, but play their home games high in the mountains and beat Argentina 6-1 a few months back. Hard to guess how motivated each side will be though.
All this is being factored into the price as Bolivia is only +300 to win and +250 to draw.
Italy has a tough game away to Ireland and can qualify with a win (+125). Roughly +200 on the draw or an Ireland win. Leaning towards a draw here as that will suit Italy just fine as they can still wrap up qualifying Wednesday versus Cyprus. Again, this is a pass for now.
Onto the NFL picks…
New England @ Denver +3.5
All kinds of goodness here. This probably means the Pats will win comfortably. Home underdog that no one is betting on who’s probably been as good as their opponent through the first four weeks of the year. Make sure to get 3.5 points though.
Cincinnati/Baltimore under 42
Having a hard time believing there will be 5-6 touchdowns scored in this one. The Bengals defense is underrated and very good.
Minnesota @ St. Louis +11
Pittsburgh @ Detroit + 11
Indianapolis @ Tennessee +4
New York Jets @ Miami +2
11, 18, 17, 19. That’s the percentage of money on each of the home teams listed above, all getting points. At some point, this is going to become the National Football League again where these become almost automatic plays again right? Right?
1. Jamarcus Russell now has 43 completions through four games. Tom Brady completed 39 passes in week 1 versus the Bills.
2. The Bears average drive versus the Lions started at the Detroit 46 yard line. The Lions averaged starting on their own 18. Said Lions coach Jim Schwarz:
We were poor on special teams. We were poor on offense. We were poor on defense. We were out-coached. We were out-played. Their trainers were probably better than ours in the second half.
3. The 49ers scored 35 points versus the Rams while only gaining 228 yards of total offense.
4. Aaron Rodgers trails only David Garrard in rushing yards for a QB this season (108-104). Rodgers’ 384 yards passing versus Minnesota was by far the highest single game total of his career. His previous high was 328 versus the Lions last year.
5. Houston’s defense entered week 4 allowing an average of 205 yards per game rushing. Oakland only gained 45 “led” by Justin Fargas with 10 carries for 24 yards and a Darius Heyward-Bey reverse for 20. 4th overall draft pick Darren McFadden had 6 carries for -3 yards.
Carolina – 3.5 v Washington
Giants -16 v Oakland
Teaser with Baltimore -9 v Cincinnati
At least he’ll be up to score 25 points for my fantasy team tonight.
Bengals -4.5 @ Cleveland
Giants -8.5 @ Kansas City
Oakland/Houston Over 42
Houston is allowing over 200 yards on the ground which just so happens to be the one thing the Raiders do well. Unrelated, looking at the box score from the 49er-Vikings game last week, San Francisco failed to move the ball with any sort of consistency. 250 yards a game of total offense is not going to be good enough unless your defense is a clone of the 2000 Ravens.
We almost had a miracle cover last week, but it was Jake Delhomme and the Panthers trying to cover the 6.5 as they drove down the field, trying for a meaningless touchdown late in their 21-7 loss to the Cowboys. This was maybe one of the worst games, if not only the year, but also the century, and I was not a better man for watching it (although I somehow faded F.Jones, S.Smith, and D.Williams in my fantasy games. Thank you, shitty football teams).
Speaking of mediocrity, Lou suggested this week during a Kelly’s Roast Beef run, wouldn’t it be fun if Sports Illustrated, as they do for champion teams, offered a video package for losing teams as well? Imagine the hilarity that would ensue! You are watching the MNF on ESPN, and suddenly a commercial comes on: “Mets fans! Subscribe or renew your SI package now, and get for free, “Epic Fail: The Story of the 2009 New York Mets! Call within the next 30 minutes, and get an autographed picture of Mets’ 2B Luis Castillo dropping a fly ball 3rd out at second base versus the Yankees!”
Some other suggestions include:
“Oh Butters!: The Story of the 2009 Cleveland Indians. Call within 25 minutes, and get a glove signed by Jhonny Peralta that has a large hole in it.”
“What the Fuck is Going On?: The Story of the 2009 Kansas City Chiefs/Oakland Raiders. Two crappy teams for one low price (although video is the same length due to lack of highlights)! Call now and get a ticket to attend sensitivity training with Raiders’ coach Tom Cable and Chiefs’ coach Todd Haley!”
“Different Coach, Same Ole’ Shit: The Story of the 2009 Cleveland Browns. Call within 30 minutes, and not only will you get an autographed picture of Braylon Edwards welcoming you to the locker room, one lucky caller will get a chance to coach the Browns for the final game of the season after Eric Mangini gets fired! Call today!”
We did have a miracle cover in football land, however it wasn’t in Pro or College football. In an epic high school football tilt in Vermont between Mt.Mansfield and Otter Valley (+3) ended in a last second touchdown for Mt.Mansfield, securing the win and the miracle cover. Somewhere out there, DeSean Jackson feels a little better about himself. So does Jake Delhomme; at least when he throws the ball away, he’s throwing it forward.
Finally before the picks, me, Lou, and the Degen Boys headed out for some Friday Night Football in Cambridge to see the Brown Bears (+3, as set by our own crew, although Darts argued that it should of been +4. We also had the over/under line move 2 and half points in 1.5 seconds; that’s what happens when degens are riding dirty (#6) to a college football game) take on the Harvard Crimson.
Harvard ended up holding on at the end of the game, 24-21, as Brown, who (I guess) had a shitty field goal kicker, decided to throw a Hail Mary instead of kicking a 42 yard field goal in the waning seconds. Brown’s main problem was they could only run it with consistency, not throw it, with their “White Cat” attack: a WildCat formation that featured all 11 players being white. A Rams fan at the bar suggested we call this personnel package: “The Snow Leopard”. Done and done.
Here are my picks for the week:
Indianapolis +10.5 vs Seattle
The Colts will destroy this team at home. Their offense is playing great, and Seattle is led by Seneca Wallace and Jim Mora Jr. After reading Lou’s blurb on the Seahawks, that’s all you need to know to put money down.
Oakland @ Houston Over 42
Oakland has a shitty offense, but both teams have shittier defenses. I see the Texans winning, 40-17.
6 point Tease of the Week:
Miami +8 vs Buffalo
NYG -3 @ KC Chiefs
Didn’t get this posted last night, but I took WVU -16.5 at home to Colorado last night on the basis of a couple of text messages from some gambling friends who are good at this whole college thing. The four of you who were following on Twitter know what happened:
4th Quarter – 2:00
TD West Virginia 35 – Colorado 17
Ryan Clarke 8 yd. run (Tyler Bitancurt kick)
4th Quarter – 0:03
TD West Virginia 35 – Colorado 24
Markques Simas 20 yd. pass from Cody Hawkins (Aric Goodman kick)
The WVU defender on the last play actually did a 360 in the air while not making any contact with the receiver or the ball. He looked more like a figure skater than a cornerback.
Going to stroll though my picks…
Oakland (+9.5) @ Houston
Houston will win this game. I think that is about a 95% certainty. I am pretty sure one of the reasons the line on this has to be 9.5 at minimum is because it gets teased down to a field goal if otherwise, and Houston must win this game.
Titans (-3) @ Jacksonville
Very tough game. Who the hell knows.
Baltimore (+1) @ New England
I did not see one moment of the Atl/NE game which I really wish I did to be commenting on/picking this game. With that said the Patriots looked bad in the Jets game and horrific for the Bills game while I have been nothing but floored by the Ravens thus far.
Bengals (5.5) @ Browns
Imagine this line at the beginning of the season if this was a Week 1 game. I say it’s the exact opposite with the Browns favored by 6 or so. At the moment, though, Cleveland looks like a train wreck.
Giants (-9) @ KC
Let’s see how many road favorites I take this week. I really don’t see Cassel doing much of anything in this game and to beat the Giants, or even to stay competitive you need a legit qb to handle the rush. If this game was in NY the spread may be plus 2 tds. At any rate, this is your two team teaser for the early games, bringing the giants and texans down to about field goal favorites.
Lions (+10) @ Chicago
In my opinion this spread line is at least two points off, probably 2.5.
Tampa Bay (+7) @ Washington
Both of these teams seem absolutely horrible at this point. I could see this as being the Redskin game that gets highlighted in their 2009 season video, beating up on a really awful Tampa team at home.
Seahawks (+10.5) @ Colts
Look for Peyton to have a huge day.
Jets (+7) @ Saints
No genuine confidence in Mark Sanchez at this point, but I can see the Jets D keeping Breeze from exploding all over the field. Do not see the Jets winning, but losing by between 4-8.
Bills (+1) @ Miami
The Bill running back situation is going to be a clusterfuck as they try to get Lynch back in the swing. I know Pennington is out but I don’t see that as being the worst thing in the world as it will force the Dolphins to open up the ground game which seems their strong suit anyway. Dolphins hit a field goal with 50 seconds to play to make it 24-20.
Rams (+9.5) @ Niners
Niners win by two scores easy.
Dallas (-3) @ Denver
If this game were to be played at any time after Thanksgiving I would be all over Denver. But it aint, so Tony gets the benefit of the doubt.
San Diego (+6.5) @ Pitt
I could see the Chargers winning this game, I could not see the Steelers winning this game by +14. Therefore, Chargers is the pick.
Green Bay (+3.5) @ Vikings
I really like Green Bay in this game, especially with points. Couldn’t you see Rodger’s going down the field first possession and throwing a 26 yard strike to Driver or Jennings? If that happens you are well on your way to a non-miraculous cover.
1-2 last week, would have been 2-2 or better had I listened to myself and those around me on New England and Detroit. That, friends is progress. First some news & notes around the league:
In the good coaching column:
Jim Schwartz – Detroit Lions
We’ve got to get to the point where a Week 3 win isn’t celebrated like a playoff win. We’re a 1-2 football team. Nothing more. We need to get this win behind us and get ready to play a great game every week. We need to expect to win every week, not just hope to win. Hope is not a good strategy.
Mike Tomlin – Pittsburgh Steelers
“I don’t have a doghouse,” Tomlin said. “A doghouse is something you have when you let things stew and don’t take action. He lacked a little detail in preparation last week … Young guys have to earn their opportunities. They have to make coaches confident with their ability to execute details of their assignments. He didn’t do that to my satisfaction last week and didn’t get any playing time on offense as a result. I took action, but I don’t take any baggage into this week.”
Jeff Fisher – Tennessee Titans
Fisher’s steady demeanor serves the Titans well and he’s probably as well equipped to hold an 0-3 team together as anyone. But he’s a big piece of why the team is there.
A hands-on special teams coach who was a punt returner himself, his plan for the return games after the Titans lost Chris Carr in free agency have proved completely insufficient. Kick returns are down from first to 29th, punt returns from 14th to 26th.
And the bad…
Jim Mora – Seattle Seahawks
Easterbrook makes a great point. When you’re throwing your kicker under the bus in week 3, chances are you’re not having a good season.
Chicago leading 25-19, Seattle reached third-and 2 on the Bears’ 29 with 33 seconds remaining, out of timeouts. The Green Men Group threw super short on third down and then super short on fourth down, both incomplete, game over. Both calls were super-short routes intended to pick up a first down. But look at the scoreboard clock. What about the end zone? To top it off, a busted defensive assignment on the third-and-2 left tailback Julius Jones split wide covered only by linebacker Lance Briggs, no safety in sight — a perfect opportunity for a go route by Jones. But Seattle quarterback Seneca Wallace never even look Jones’ way; and maybe Briggs was out on Jones because Chicago correctly guessed a super-short attempt was coming and crowded the middle. After coaches called ultraconservative passes when a deep strike was needed, coach Mora the Younger had the temerity to blame the loss on kicker Olindo Mare, who missed two field goal attempts, while hitting four. Since NFL place-kickers average about 85 percent success, Mare would have been expected to make five of six, which still would have left the Seahawks trailing when the double-whistle sounded.
Eric Mangini – Cleveland Browns
Benching a quarterback — like Mangini did Sunday with Brady Quinn — sends a message to the entire team that Quinn isn’t the right option. He has shown that he can’t put points on the scoreboard in this offense, and his failure to generate big plays down the field in the passing game were enough for Mangini to give him the hook.
But as a coach, the locker room expects you to stick with your decision because once you start playing musical chairs with the quarterbacks, the season is gone from the players’ perspective. Mangini must show this team that the decision he made was done for the right reasons, and by giving Quinn the rest of the day off on Sunday, he was telling his players that a lack of production will send you to the bench. Even though Derek Anderson wasn’t productive when he came into the ballgame, Mangini has to show confidence in him by providing an entire week of practice with the first unit and allow this team to rally around him — because you just can’t go back to Quinn after sitting him down.
Over/Under 16 games as head coach for Mangini???
Lastly, I want to focus on this:
Yesterday in the NFL, there was a clear gap between teams — the Bucs, Rams, Chiefs and Browns have no chance to win at all — and what’s disconcerting is that those teams are a long way from being competitive. Is the NFL becoming like baseball? To me, there are 10 good teams, 10 average teams, eight bad teams and four teams with no chance.
For the record, Carolina’s been as bad as the four teams listed so far this season as well. I’ve been doing a lot of betting on the teams listed above on the idea that the talent difference between two pro teams is usually not vast enough to justify double digit spreads, especially for a home team. Clearly, that’s not the case and it’s time to start treating these more like college games.
Baltimore @ New England -2
New York Giants -9 @ Kansas City
Cincinnati -4.5 @ Cleveland
San Diego +6 @ Pittsburgh
Already bet Cincinnati as their line has already moved all the way to 5.5 or 6.