NFL Week 13 Picks

Just the one… Philadelphia @ Atlanta (-6). Good luck out there.

Week 13 NFL Ramble Drill

Some thoughts on last week:

When this happens in a game, I think that means it’s time for Bobby Bowden to retire.  The play is almost Longest Yard-esque, I wonder if the QB banged his girl or didn’t pay for that lineman’s dinner the night before.

Who would of thought the Miracle of the Year would have came from the CFL?

The Chinese News version on what REALLY happened with Tiger on his adventure of a Thanksgiving.

Ron Artest used to drink at halftime when he was with the Bulls. Thanks to the article on ESPN, I now know that, “Hennessy is a French cognac.”

Last week’s epic Oakland @ Dallas tilt featured both teams having NO turnovers.  I think this is proof that God doesn’t exist.

Here are the lines:

NCAA:

Texas -14 vs Nebraska Big12 Championship

NFL:

Minnesota -3.5 @ Arizona

Detroit @ Cincy Under 42

6pt Teaser

SD -7.5 @ Cleveland

NYG +8.5 vs Dallas

Thursday Links

“Henry’s handball, Tiger Wood’s Car Crash, Roger Federer losing … That’s it….I’m throwing my Gillete away” – TFLN

According to the NY Times, pro athletes are having a hard time selling their houses after changing teams so now they’re leasing to one another.

“I’ll never buy again,” said the veteran Nets guard Keyon Dooling, who rents the downtown Orlando condominium he bought in 2005 to a Magic player. “That was a learning experience. I’ll never buy again as far as where I’m playing. It’s not a good idea because you can never predict how long you’re going to be in a situation. You could be stuck with a piece of property that you never go to.”

Dooling’s teammate Courtney Lee, a rookie with the Magic last season, considered buying in the same condominium building before Dooling advised him against it. Good thing, since Lee is now with the Nets, where he rents on a month-to-month basis from the former Net Bostjan Nachbar, who is playing in Turkey.

I think that’s the first Bostjan Nachbar reference on this blog.

Tony Dungy getting some props.

Tony Dungy continues to provide understated excellence on Sunday Night Football. Somehow, he’s able to illustrate and tactfully disapprove better than any of the more animated commentators filling the airwaves. Instead of openly criticizing Bears QB Jay Cutler, he said, “I didn’t think anyone could overthrow Devin Hester.

Someone should do a study on why people do obvious studies.

Good stuff from the Football Outsiders game charting project. Some highlights:

Believe it or not, there was someone who played worse than Mr. Russell on offense, and his name is Chris Morris. While subbing for Samson Satele at center in the first three weeks, I nearly JaMarcussed my pants charting all his blown blocks and inability to handle a simple stunt. Either he’s getting bowled over on passes, or whiffing linebackers on runs. While he has returned to his natural position as a guard, every once in a while I’ll see him diving around in on my TV, only to fall to the ground while his man wraps up the running back.

Chris Spencer has pretty much proven that he’s not a starting-caliber NFL center. He’s a detriment as a run blocker on almost every play. The bad news is that Max Unger, drafted to be Spencer’s replacement, has started every game at guard and has looked even worse. The pinnacle of this duo was a play against Dallas when Unger and Spencer tried to double-team Jay Ratliff. Ratliff not only pushed the pair into the backfield, he actually put Spencer on his back.

When Jamarcus Russell isn’t being used a part of the English language, he’s busy being compared to an airplane.

Jamarcused, Jamarcian?
Jamarcused? Jamarcian?

Some good stories on recently passed Wizards owner Abe Pollin.

The online dating site OKCupid has started a blog that delves into the statistics of online daters. I read the whole thing in one sitting. Captivating for a superdork like me.

Site-wide, two-thirds of male messages go to the best-looking third of women. So basically, guys are fighting each other 2-for-1 for the absolute best-rated females, while plenty of potentially charming, even cute, girls go unwritten.

The medical term for this is male pattern madness.

As you can see from the gray line, women rate an incredible 80% of guys as worse-looking than medium. Very harsh. On the other hand, when it comes to actual messaging, women shift their expectations only just slightly ahead of the curve, which is a healthier pattern than guys’ pursuing the all-but-unattainable. But with the basic ratings so out-of-whack, the two curves together suggest some strange possibilities for the female thought process, the most salient of which is that the average-looking woman has convinced herself that the vast majority of males aren’t good enough for her, but she then goes right out and messages them anyway.

Moving on…

Old data on NFL home underdogs late in the season, but interesting.

Lastly, the World Cup draw is tomorrow and the US, along with Mexico, basically got screwed.

EDIT: AWESOME draw for us.

Random NFL Notes

Some NFL goodness this Wednesday…

What’s wrong with Jay Cutler & the Bears?

“At the end of the day, every single thing that’s going on with Chicago’s offense, and I haven’t even mentioned a running game that is probably also the worst in the NFL, everything is conspiring against Cutler. So now you’ve got a decision to make as an offense. Do you try to play the game to throw four yard passes, three-step drops, five-step drops, just so he doesn’t throw interceptions?”

It was difficult to know what to make of Cutler’s mechanics early on [versus the Vikings Sunday]– the guy’s obviously talented enough to complete quick outs — but I was astonished to see Pace get no help with Allen on any of those plays. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner managed to combine the protection leakage of wide sets with the inflexible non-production of a quick-screen-only offense. It was mind-blowing.

The one good thing to come out of Bobby Petrino’s “tenure” with the Falcons was bringing in Louisville alum Chris Redman at QB.

“I remember walking into a machinery company, CSS, and trying to sell them insurance,” Redman recalled Monday. “I was wearing a suit, and I walked into the lobby hoping they’d recognize me – sometimes people would, and sometimes they wouldn’t, which made it even more awkward. I remember thinking, ‘Wow. What am I doing?’ Talk about a humbling feeling. As many times as I’d complained about football practice, this was a real job and a real complaint.”

Thanks to an unlikely opportunity and his ability to parlay it into a shocking renaissance, Redman, 32, is back in a far more comfortable environment. Two years after signing with the Falcons following the short and ill-fated pro stint by Bobby Petrino, Redman’s offensive coordinator at Louisville in ’98, the quarterback is playing a key role in the team’s push for a second consecutive playoff berth.

Some fantastic breakdown of the Saints Monday night game by NFP’s Matt Bowen. (Click both links)

New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is known as a pressure coach, but he called this game with coverage principles in mind — often rushing only three and dropping eight into coverage when the Pats put Brady in the shotgun on passing situations. And that’s a standard against Tom Brady and the Patriots, but what Williams played on the back end usually isn’t. Instead of dropping eight and playing Cover 2 — which most teams do against New England to play a safety over the top of Randy Moss on the numbers — Williams used man coverage principles. Most often, the Saints played a version of “Cover 1 Robber,” where FS Darren Sharper played the deep middle of the field, and either a linebacker or an extra defensive back played a “rover” position — sitting 10 yards deep in between the hashes. What this did was allow the Saints to play man coverage with outside leverage — forcing everything to the middle of the field — and allowing Mike McKenzie to pick off Brady by jumping the underneath route. Because he had the help to do it with the “rover” sitting 10 yards off of the ball.

In Gregg Williams’ defense down in New Orleans, or any defense in this league that plays man-to-man coverage in the backend, the corners are taught, instructed and expected to play with the techniques that allow this defense to work.

In McKenzie’s case on Monday, he played a lot of “off-man” coverage, where he aligned at a depth of 7-yards, aligned on the receiver’s outside shoulder, with his feet planted in a football position. The reason for the outside leverage is due to the safety help in the middle of the field. To give you a different perspective, in any type of Cover 0 alignment (no safety help) McKenzie would align in the inside shoulder of the receiver, using the sideline, or the boundary, as his extra defender.

Playing “off-man” coverage is the toughest thing for any defender in the NFL, much harder than aligned in a press position, where the corner can get his hands on the receiver and mirror his hips off of the line of scrimmage.

But, in both cases on Monday night, McKenzie used his flat-foot techniques and his pre-snap keys to make two big plays in the game on a slant route and on the fourth-down out route he broke up while defending Randy Moss.

NFL Week 13 Early Leans & Stats of the Week

0-0 last week for 0.00 units which makes week 12 my 4th best of the season. Sad but true. Back to the usual posting schedule this week.

Stats of the Week

1) The New Orleans Saints are averaging 37 points/game this season and are on pace to barely exceed New England’s 2007 record of 589 points. They lead the NFL with 22 interceptions; FS Darren Sharper got his 8th Monday night.

2) Drew Brees is averaging over 9 yards per pass attempt this season. Only 23 other quarterbacks have ever averaged 9 yards or more per attempt in a season, and half of them are in the Hall of Fame.

3) Cleveland’s Brady Quinn was 15/34 for 100 yards against the Bengals on Sunday. 2.94 yards/pass attempt.

4) St. Louis’s Steven Jackson leads the NFL with 238 carries. Since 1970, the league’s leading ball carrier has played for a team with a losing record just six times.

5) The Jacksonville Jaguars lost their two west coast games this season by a combined score of 61-3. No team does close wins and blowout losses quite like the Jaguars.

6) New England’s Wes Welker leads the league with 98.4 receiving yards per game.

7) Prior toVince Young’s drive, Tennessee had gained 433 yards of offense on the day. They moved the ball effectively all game and have averaged 29 points since the bye week/Vince Young took over. Sadly, their odds of making the playoffs are not very good.

8) Tennessee has covered every game in their 5 game win streak. They visit Indy(-6.5) Sunday.

9) In the who cares department, Peyton Manning leads the NFL in Pro-Bowl balloting through week 12. The Colts set an NFL record Sunday, winning 11 games for the 7th season in a row.

10) Denver(-4.5) is in Kansas City on Sunday where they have won 7 of their last 8 games. The one loss was last season when the Chiefs were 2-14.

Early Leans

Phhiladelphia @ Atlanta (+6)

Site Name Change

Van Tran while visiting the site and viewing Lou’s most recent picks

“Lou should change the name to ‘Miracle Covers: Losing at Sports.'”

Pastability, let’s take a look at some things…

It was over the Thanksgiving holiday when I remembered one of my favored forms of NFL gambling, which is to parlay the money line on two or three heavily favored teams.  Unfortunately it seems that Allen Gowin’s bookie does not really do money line bets which is a shame, but here is an idea for Sunday if you have such capabilities.

Cincinnati, Philadelphia, San Diego

With the help of our friends at parlaycalculator.com, you are getting essentially a 2/3 return on bets (one hundred nets you 163 and change).  A couple of thoughts on this.

*  This may seem obvious as this is a bet centered entirely on winning the game and not covering a spread, but you want teams involved where you say to yourself, “I’m not sure on what’s going to happen, but I simply do not see X losing this game.”  Going to the example of this Thanksgiving, Green Bay and Dallas looked very strong to win the game.  Some may at that point may have felt like getting a better return on their money by throwing in a Giant addition, but do you really want to bank on an essentially .500 team on the road against a team with a winning record?  This may wreak of hindsight but whatever.  People might object here that I did not include two heavy home favorites, Minn and Atlanta, in the parlay.  But the problem is I could see the Bears and/or the Bucs winning.  If you don’t, throw the fuckers in, but for me, it doesn’t pass the crucial test.

*  I am not a huge fan of this strategy for college games.  The NFL is crazy enough, but when you add nineteen year old qbs and kickers, football can escalate to a new level of weird.  Just see some of USC’s recent games in the last few years.  However, if you are looking for some recommendations I would stick with proven programs like Boise State (not when they’re 40 pt favorites).  Right now  on television I am watching Pitt/W Va.  How shocking was that a few years ago when Pitt won in West Virginia with W Va playing for the BCS championship?  I would have bet my house on that money line.

Some thoughts on the lines this weekend…

I am not guaranteeing I am putting money on any of these games, just some thoughts.

Clemson and Tennessee only giving up three points to South Carolina and Kentucky respectively seems a bit outrageous to me.  I might have to parlay that.

I do not have any figures in front of me but I bet there is a decent amount of unbiased money going on the Panthers against the Jets.  Carolina is playing very well and 5 Ints are quickly becoming known as “The Dirty Sanchez.”  But I like the Jets this week.  The Jets are giving three points at home to a hot Carolina team, but the Jets have a very solid defense and Jake Delhomme is due to lay an atomic bomb this week after a month of very good football.

WK 12 Quick Picks

NCAA:

Alabama @ Auburn Under 48

NFL:

Indy @ Houston Over 47

Teaser 6pt

Philadelphia -3 vs Washington

Cincy -8 vs Browns

NFL Week 12 Early Leans & Stats of the Week

Stat #1: I fail at NFL this year. Anyone picking exactly opposite of me this season would be +34 units through 11 weeks which has to be some kind of record. I’m leaning toward being thankful I’m not losing more money and not even betting this week. And that’s before looking at the lines.

2. Since starting 6-0 the Denver Broncos have scored 37 points.
2b. The Cleveland Browns scored 37 points on Sunday. They had zero turnovers for the first time in a year.

3. The Cleveland Browns last 16 games by points scored (obviously going back to last season): 6, 6, 9, 10, 0, 0, 20, 6, 3, 20, 6, 14, 3, 6, 0, 37

4. Three teams are unbeaten on the road this season, The 10-0 Saints and Colts and the 7-3 Arizona Cardinals.
4b. Arizona’s Tim Hightower is 2nd in the NFL in receptions by a running back (47) behind Ray Rice (56).

5. The New Orleans Saints lead all NFL defenses in takeaways with 29. The next closest team is the Eagles with 23. This will be mentioned approximately a dozen times during Monday night’s Pats-Saints game.

6. The Jacksonville Jaguars are 6-4 despite having a league low 10 sacks. Denver Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil leads the NFL with 12.

7. I imagine this is similar for all quarterbacks, but Jay Cutler for his career is 13-23 when throwing an interception and 8-4 when he does not. With the Bears, those numbers are 2-6 and 2-0 respectively. Cutler has thrown at least one pick in his last six games, including pulling off a Dirty Sanchez against San Francisco two weeks back. He leads the NFL with 18 INTs on the season.

8. Vikings QB Brett Favre has thrown only 3 interceptions all season. For his career, Favre averages an INT for every 33 pass attempts. This season, that ratio is 1 for every 103.

9. The Pittsburgh Steelers had 515 total yards on offense in their loss to the Chiefs on Sunday.

10. Buffalo’s Terrell Owens had 281 yards receiving in his first 8 games as a Bill. He’s doubled that total in his last two games. This play had a lot to do with it:

2009 NFL Week 11 & UFC 106 Picks

Go here for Eric Foster’s UFC picks and take whatever he says that strikes your fancy. He is better at handicapping MMA than you or me.

I’m going big and/or home this week on my NFL picks. Lots of bad teams getting too many points.

Seattle +11 @ Minnesota
Atlanta @ NY Giants -6 (now at 6.5 or 7)
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay +11
NY Jets +10.5 @ New England
Washington +11 @ Dallas

Indy @ Baltimore +1.5 and Tennessee @ Houston -4.5 are going to be game time decisions.

Good luck out there.

EDIT: Screw the 1.5 point line, Baltimore/Indy OVER 44.

Week 11 Rambling Drill

Looks like women’s soccer is still getting chippy out there.   One would think said aggression would only be reserved for referees who make bad calls or miss them, but I digress.  At least NBA refs can come out of it saying, “Hey, at least we aren’t as bad as those guys!”

Three things on the debacle that was the Pats game:

1) Prior history did factor into the call; however, Bill made mistakes in both cases where he should of been aggressive when conservative, and vice versa.  Take the 2006 AFC Championship game, where the Pats, up 34-31, (after Tom misses a wide open Troy Brown on 3rd and 4), have a potential 4th and 4 from their own 46 yard line with 2:26 left.  The defense, who has played 3 games in the playoffs (and 40 over the last 3 years), and the team, which had the flu run amok in the locker room during the week, all in an enclosed dome, is gassed.  THIS is when you go for it on 4th down.  Never mind the better field position which makes sense; the fact that if Peyton got the ball, he was 90% going to score a TD in this scenario vs a very below average Pats D.  Anyone watching the game knew this, Bill somehow didn’t.  Only up 3, he punted, they scored, and Tom threw a INT with 20 seconds left.  This game affected the Belichick’s decision in 2009.

2) In last week’s game, up 34-28 with 2:10 left in the game, Belichick claimed he, based on a computer simulation named ZEUS that claimed an optimal Manning would score a TD on a 70-yard TD drive 30% of the time, decided he had better odds to go for it on 4th and 2, after missing Welker on a predictable out pattern on 3rd (more on this in a minute).  He claims they decided on this BEFORE the drive started, which I claim bullshit, because after 3rd down, the punt team ran out (which is why Bill used his final timeout, which cost the team a challenge that was 50/50 on getting overturned, better than nothing).  He claims that the reason he went for it all was so Peyton wouldn’t get the ball back.  Well in that case, he employed a strategy that would make Ken Whisenhunt and Andy Reid look like geniuses.

It actually starts on 3rd and 8 from the Indy 23 yard line with 3:49 left in the 4th after a Peyton INT, up 31-21.  If you are REALLY concerned with your defense (who had played a B- game at this point) not being able to hold Peyton, this is the time to bleed clock, run the ball, and play Dick Jauron ball.  Yes, fans in NE boo, but this is the correct play IF your goal is to give Peyton the least time possible.  You either a)take the 45 seconds off or b) make Indy use on their 3 TOs, and kick the FG.  The 3 Indy TOs (good coaching, Jim Caldwell) was a big factor in them having a last stand when the Pats get the ball back again, along with the 2 minute warning.

So, Peyton, thanks to a vanilla base defense, scores a quick TD, 34-28.  Pats get the ball back at their 20.  After using a timeout before coming out of the huddle on 1st down (?), the Pats have one left (and challenge with it).  The Pats are short handed at running back and unlike Miami in September, who lined it up and ran all over the Colts all night, possessed the ball for 45 minutes (and still didn’t win), don’t have their power back in S.Morris and F.Taylor, who are both injured.  They have been running the ball out of mostly shotgun formation via Kevin Faulk (12 for 78); L.Maroney was running well, but fumbled at the 2 yard line late in the 3rd (which ended up being the biggest play of the game, IMO).  They instead have to employ the shotgun dive play on 1st down, stuffed for no gain.  OK, second down, it’s Welker time, and they get him on a 8 yard hitch play.  After this as an O-coordinator, you need to know that Indy WILL NOT LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN.  With 2:16 on the clock, if you are seriously in dire straits to bleed clock, this is when you bring out the BIGs and line it up.  For these reasons:

a)I actually think at this point, you could get a better matchup out of a 2 TE formation vs the Colts personnel as supposed to the shotgun vs Tampa 2, where they know the plays the Pats’ WR run very well, as well as the fact they know the likely hood of the Pats going deep versus the on 3rd down is highly unlikely; all they need is the 1st to end the game.  Not only this, the TEs were actually the ones who ended up being wide open out of these formations (Baker 2-31; Watson 2-57), and a solid bootleg fake-fade (the Ben Coates play) might be a better sell to a potentially blitzing defense, rather than a predictable slant/hitch to Welker out of the shotgun (which almost got picked off  because even the rookie Melvin Bullitt knew this).

b) Running up the gut rarely nets a huge loss, even if you don’t have your best BIG personnel.    The Pats are famous for employing a 40/50 power wham-play (where the TE motions across the formation, and as the ball is snapped, takes on a DT while the center pulls) in these scenarios.  They did this play vs a smallish Atlanta team, with Sammy Morris, on 4th and 1 from their own 28 and gained 5 yards.  Granted they don’t have their big backs, but you’d think Bill would pull Maroney to the side and go, “All I need from you is a positive gain here; and no fumbles”.  Hell, even bring Kevin Faulk out there, run a sweep, run something.  The point is, 4th and 1/shorter is a heckuva lot better than 4th and a long 2.

c) Say if you run, and you don’t get it, the clock goes to the 2 minute warning, where you get a free TO to discuss things, AND a freeroll challenge b/c unless it’s 4th and a inch, you are probably passing it.  On any big pass plays, it’s a good idea to have a challenge in your pocket if you go for it in this situation.  Having a freeroll challenge is optimal, AND even having a timeout in the back pocket for when Indy, or the Pats, gets the ball back after this possession is better than none.  Also, well all know why punting is the optimal situation here because of the fact unlike in 2006, we are up by 6 points, so the Colts NEED a TD.  If the punter is having a bad day, another reason to go for it; Hanson was having a good day.  Instead, the Pats dial up their best 4th down play, miss it by a half of a yard, and Peyton gets the ball at the 29 and he obviously scores.  Ugh.

3) At least it can maybe motivate this team to play better.  The Pats have had leads on the road this year and haven’t been able to close out games, mostly thanks to missing a big back closer like Dillon in 2004.  The defense is young and hurting on D-Line, but improving.  And the last two coaches to go for it in a similar situation, Sam Wyche and Barry Switzer, both went to the Super Bowl those years.  So, if anything, the Pats can start by taking it out on Jets.  However, if they lose that game, combined with all of the things that have gone on in my life and with Boston sports this year, I may kill myself.

The Picks (almost tempted to take Washington +11 @ Dallas, but only if Hunter the punter is QB):

PIT @ KC Under 40

A bit low, but with Bowe out, L.Johnson gone, I see no way KC scores on Pittsburgh, even w/o Polumalu.  Plus if the Steelers get the lead, they can finally work on their running game this week.

Teaser 6pt:

SF +12.5 @ GB

NYG -0.5 vs Atlanta

NBA Teaser for tonight!

Denver -5 @ LAC

GS +12 vs Portland