Recap: I was pissed about the sh*tty 24-22 record. I know it’s over .500 and many ATS pick lists aren’t, and picking isn’t strategy, the main focus of the work here. But whatever, now that we can officially write “no bueno” in football columns, it’s still much less bueno.
So, truth be told, last week I wanted to go x wins zero losses already. Picked four games that were solid picks, and only four games – and thought was going to, and be 28-22 entering this week: Chicago, Washington, Kansas City, and most of all, the New York Giants. All of whom covered the spread and then some.
With the Bears winning in a big upset – and by a huge margin at that, and the Giants managing once again to lose a game they should have won, by not understanding the most basic mechanics of the clock.
Then, to make matters worse, after gifting the Patriots a key 40 seconds, the Giants did it again, between the two decisions – the awful first one and the more subtle but still obvious second one – making sure to leave the Patriots about 1:48 instead of about :28 seconds after the Giants kicked off with a one score lead.
They did it the second time by throwing a very quick fade with 2:06 on the clock, and so ensuring that the two minute warning wasn’t hit (even with Odell Beckham’s very elongated end zone catch/non catch that added another two seconds of clock runoff), thus saving the Patriots their last timeout once again. (That wasn’t nearly as bad as the first one, since at that point they need to score the TD, while on the play before the issue was making sure to get the first down and at all costs don’t stop the clock; and they instead throw a lower probability long pass and one right to the sidelines.)
Plus by having thrown to the “lower chance of a complete and higher change of a clock stopping incomplete” 5 yard line instead of the far easier 17 or 18 yard line (then again, more importantly, doing so to the sidelines so the clock was stopped anyway even with a completion), the Giants couldn’t even save themselves by getting a first down and running the clock down to near nothing before kicking the chip shot field goal.
For picking games purposes, the Giants were getting 7.5 points of course. But that’s secondary to the game, which the Giants should have won. (Plus last week’s against the spread piece had a rare title theme: “Patriots Giants” version, it read.)
Then, I reasoned, “ah, no one reads these picks” (forgetting that’s besides the point). Worse, I also reasoned “I’m 24-22 regardless of the foolish picks added late, other picks I forgot to add, bizarre endings in a few, so why would I go 4-0. does it really matter if no one reads?” So I added two close calls, for additional “fun.”
Dallas, and Cleveland. Dallas lost. And while of course Tony Romo now has the world, or at least Owner Jerry Jones, singing in the shower again my honeymoon faith in Browns coach Mike Pettine, ks over. And this question, also posed last week:
“So will we see the Browns who played the Steelers tough last year both times… or the Browns of old, who repeatedly get plastered by the Steelers almost every time? ”
Has now been answered.
Then, this. Calling the Texans upset of the Bengals. Building credibility, right? Tweet it out; own it; at least offer the pick for those interested, as 10.5 was a huge spread to over come for a win, far too big for the game, and an easy move to 5-2 on the week (29-24 is oh so much better looking than 28-24, isn’t it? It at least looks better.)
The minute I ran out the door in a rush, not hitting send on that tweet the second time, I figured the Texans would probably win. Bold move calling out an upset straight up no one was seeing, then last second don’t do; of course it happens.
It’s been like that with tweets calls this year.
So, while all picks were always “serious,” there is now a double downed effort to be more efficient and disciplined in these picks, from here on out, this season and beyond.
So, that was a pretty boring read, but real, and honest.
Am running the table this week, because only two official picks: It’s a tough week, and the secret is out of the bag on Chicago now not being a laugher like last year.
1. Buffalo Rex Ryans (usually referred to as the Bills, at +7.5) at New England Patriots
I’ll own this pick regardless. And I hate giving a qualifier – because the last time I picked the Bills over the Patriots my qualifiers as to why they might lose were far better than the pick – but the fact is Rex Rayan is not the very strong head coach I thought he was: I was wrong on Ryan. He had the potential, but he keeps making some of the same fundamental mistakes.
After week one and the Colts beatdown, that Bills team appeared to think it was the end all be all.
They then played the Patriots and lost soundly.
Now after beating the Jets, they seemed to again (though as the Patriots game has loomed in closer, it might have softend some this time around.) More telling, while unlike some in the media who seem to disparage Ryan’s press conferences, I like that he keeps them interesting and tries to be real. But his being “dumped” by a “a hot girl” who now calls you and you won’t call back was suggestive of a misplaced bitterness, lack of perspective, and misfocus.
Sure, wish the Jets had kept you, but talking about being dumped by a hot girl after they gave you six full years, four in a row with nary a playoff appearance, and as far away as ever – questioanble managament support or not – the last year?
It’s a business, there are 32 NFL head coaches in the whole U.S., Rex got more than his opportunity, and is now being paid $25 million plus or some such figure to coach again; and in the same division no less. Plus, Rex, that hot girl Jets isn’t calling you, so your analogy was awful as well as a little ridiculous, and but for a bunch of turnovers your team probably would have lost to the Jets.
Also, all this time off from practice as “reward” Ryan keeps giving his players the last couple of weeks belies the fact that practicing is still part of sport – a good thing; football, still as a paid entity, only created by our such interest in it, but still thus a profession and a very highly paid one; and champions like practicing more, not less, to improve their craft.
If the Bills had beaten every team this year by four touchdowns, okay, take a trip to the beach. “It’s not fair to the other teams for us to practice so much.”
But that’s not the case. In fact, quite the opposite: there’s considerable room for improvement and learning – not to mention, in a league where I constantly see players winded, and also after missed tackles getting up slowly off the turf during relevant ongoing play – very needed improved conditioning opportunity.
That said, the Bills should win this game. There’s a decent chance they won’t because Rex simply isn’t a good enough coach yet (and if anything seems to have regressed a little), and the team is not as good as the Patriots. But if ever there was a game crying out for a division equalizer, it’s this one.
The Patriots have been too dominant, are littered with injury, and winning on character and coaching. (And a last week a little gift of bad strategy play by the Giants; then after yet another uncharacteristic Brady breakdown in the game, the drop of a game ending interception.)
The Bills, their coach’s prattle aside, are hungry, lost earlier in the year to the Patriots in this key divisional matchup, need the game, have the talent to win it, are on a national stage, and get to play the Super Bowl champs.
If they are yet any kind of a team, this is their game of the season. After Monday Night, unless they lose a close one because Brady was phenomenal again even in the face of a non stop pass rush, we’ll know if they are yet any kind of team.
Rex (until he apparently got upset with the Jets for dumping him like a “hot girl” who he thinks now wants him back), has also it seems wanted to beat the Patriots more than anything ever since he became a head coach. And now, in a key divisional matchup, in solid but very vulnerable playoff race contention with a few other teams starting to come on strong, it once again really matters. And Ryan’s been pretty good at getting his teams fired up to play the Patriots.
The Patriots are vulnerable, they know it, and know they will be lucky to escape 10-0. The Bills have the ability to beat them if they come in and play like they’re trying to unseat the world champs, and come in with fire, but humility: realizing, as Vikings HC Mike Zimmer said – yelling it, even – about his team now leading the division (and keep in mind the Bills are FOUR games back from their own division lead) “It doesn’t mean anything,” and big whoop, at 5-4 and a squeaky heavy turnover aided win versus the somewhat stumbling Jets, they haven’t done anything yet.
Whether Rex, being hung up on hot girls/NFL teams not calling him back or not, can hep them achieve it, remains to be seen. Taking all these days off, while champions like the Patriots continue to work despite now a lot more injury bad luck than the Bills, doesn’t help.
But this, as was the Giants game, is the game for the Patriots to lose. The fact they didn’t lose that one gave them a freebie. The Bills should take advantage and make sure they get the loss this time.
2. Washington Redskins (+7.5) at Carolina Panthers
Carolina is good, and their record is impressive, but it’s not a diss to point out who they have played, with one of the easier schedules in the NFL so far. Again, it doesn’t mean they aren’t very legitimate, it’s just something to factor in.
Meanwhile, the up and down Saints seemed to have made the same mistake last week a lot of analysts did – that is, assume the Redskins were a poor football team, which they aren’t. (Though if the Saints did, somewhat surprisingly after being unseated at home as a large favorite against the previously one win Titans.)
The Panthers probably won’t just assume the Redskins are bad after that Saints game, and have shown the ability to dispatch of teams who are not as good as them – and the Redskins still certaintly qualify here.
And when the Redskins went into Atlanta as a 8 point (before falling to a 7 to 6 point) underdog in week 5 (getting hooked on a very iffy nearly half the field p/i call that all but gave them the 7 point TD with the traditional referee end zone pass intereference 1st and goal at the 1 assist in order to help ultimately knock the game into overtime.), the Falcons, as it turns out were at the begininng of a coming down heavily to earth streak, ready to lose 3 of their next four. That ain’t the Panthers.
But this also ain’t the same Redskins, and it still will be hard for the Panthers to get as up for them as the Packers, however problematic the Packers have been of late.
Once again, despite common perception, the Redskins (and once again, so long as Kirk Cousins is past that melt down stage of his career, or otherwise goes another game without coming unraveled – though that Panthers defense could provoke it) could easily win this game. And the Panthers, though dispatching a lot of teams by a two score margin (in part because of good turnover differentials) , tend not to blow teams out. So 7 points is simply far too many.
The Redskins may also very well easily win the game outright.
Close calls, not official picks:
Texans (+4) – they’re still in the division and even WC race
Bengals (+4.5) – they don’t become chopped liver by losing one game just bc it was low scoring instead of high scoring (meaing D gave up a lot of points)
Detroit (pick ’em): surprise surprise
Cowboys (-2) – but bigger battle than it appears, and Dolphins are right in the WC race if win, if lose probably are falling out.