Week 15 NFL Picks Against the Spread

Last week: 6-2
Year to date picks against the spread (ATS): Official picks: 37-31-1. Total picks ATS: 41-31-1

Recap: Grumbling: Loved the Giants, didn’t add to last weeks picks on Monday. Liked the Rams and Dallas a lot (But only because Dallas was getting 3.5, and not 3, since figured there was still a goo chance the game would be close and they would blow it at the end, which naturally is what happened), but usually don’t do this piece until late Saturday or Sunday. Woulda Coulda Shoulda. Had I added them all it probably would have been reversed. So, since am doing this week’s, quickly and without too much commentary, they’ll probably all lose:

Picks: 3 official. 1 extra:

Bears +4 (at Vikings)
Look for the possible upset. Though not an official pick here of Chicago however; the line was 5.5, and at 4 this is an iffier pick. (So naturally, since I’m not officially making the pick, the Bears will win. Though since am tallying unofficial picks (4-0 so far), who knows.)

Ravens +7 (v. Chiefs)
Baltimore’s kept almost every game close this season. Granted, they don’t  have a QB any more, but they sill have a very good head coach. Chiefs are hot, but they showed frailty earlier in the year, and even if they don’t again, Baltimore’s not the easiest place to play.

Giants +5 (at Panthers)
The Giants can beat any team in the league, including the Panthers. Too bad they don’t have someone actually helping them manage end game strategy decisions. (They actually botched last Monday as well, though this time, unlike in other instances this season, they didn’t also wind up losing as a result.)

But the call here is that the Giants, who also have a very suspect (but smart and turnover hungry) defense, and iffy O line play, still pull off the upset.

Though who knows with these Panthers – they’re playing better and better; and, most impressively of all, and the reason for their success – are playing as a team. And thus there’s still a decent chance they solidly outplay the Giants (remember the Eagles, who aren’t the Panthers, did it earlier in the year as well).

But more likely it’s a good game, and the Giants do it once again – that is, beat an unbeaten team late in the year.

Denver +6.5 (at Steelers)
Pittsburgh is playing out of its mind right now. And, like the Seahawks, is one of those teams who don’t have a great record, but that no one wants to face in the playoffs if they make it in.

Simultaneously, the near labeling of Brock Osweiler as a big improvement over an obviously injury riddled and slowed Peyton Manning, may have been a little too premature, (When the Broncos won with Peyton it was because of the defense and in spite of Peyton, but when they won with Brock, yeah, what a great QB, or so some of the proverbs went. But it’s not as simple as that.)

Denver’s also missing some safeties, but their defense is still staunch, and this is a great test to see what they can do.

They’re still a great team – even with Gary Kubiak as head coach. (Remember Kubiak’s long and largely unsuccessful tenure in Houston, finally turning them into a very strong team before immediately turning it around to lose 14 almost close ones in a row to close out the brief “strong team” period at 2-14.) And they might even be better than Pittsburgh. Though again right now it looks like maybe not.

But they are getting 6.5 points here. This is an excessive volume if the game, despite Pitt’s blazing offense – and if so possibly in part because of Denver’s D – stays close.


2015 NFL Season Week 14 Picks Against the Spread – Who Let the Dogs Out Version


Late in the season isn’t exactly a good time to pick a lot of underdogs, as teams become more and more who they are, and often what we expect. But this is the week of the underdog. Either that, or it’s the week of really bad picks. Thus:

1.  Washington Redskins +3.5 at Chicago Bears

Skins stink on the road.  But they surprise.

Pick: Redskins

2.  Detroit Lions (-3) at St Louis Rams

St. Louis has to win just enough so that we keep suffering from the mass delusion that Jeff Fisher is a good head coach. Plus, the Lions are probably past their embarassment now about getting nearly their entire top level staff fired, and having their 90 year owner publicly calling them out to the world.

Even if they did then finally blow an otherwise season sweep of the Packers, by an ill timed (if also bad call) facemask and ensuing longest Hail Mary for the win in the entire history of the NFL.

Pick: Rams

3.  Seattle (+11) at Baltimore Ravens

Jimmy Clausen has had such a bad career it’s kind of hard to realize he wasn’t drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the first round. (Carolina, 2nd round, 2010)

But Baltimore’s not a bad team, and shouldn’t be an 11 point dog at home to anybody even if Elmer Fudd or Brian Billick were playing quarterback.

Okay, if either of those two were, maybe they should be; but not with an actual NFL backup, even an iffy one.

Incidentally, Clausen played for the Bears earlier this season, against these same Seahawks in week 3: He passed for 63 total yards, and the Bears lost 26-0.

Also, Albert Breer should be forced to sit in an alternate universe and carefully watch the Seahawks’ entire 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons, with a boilerplate average starting QB at the helm, instead of Russell Wilson. Then rewrite this piece, which, verbatim, has the following absurd lead in, from NFL.Com: “One-time game manger Russell Wilson has become a major driver of his team’s success.” (Though in fairness, game manger might be a much larger step up from game manager than I had always assumed it to be, and thus the lead in less ridiculous.)

Pick: Ravens

4. San Diego Chargers (+11) at Kansas City Chiefs

Philip Rivers, unless he stays sick and doesn’t play (not anticipated) sometimes pulls games out of a hat in December. Chiefs are playing well, but might sleep a little on this team that has fallen miserably.

It’s a division game, and the spread is a bit over the top given the unpredictability between division rivals, even if the Chargers are badly banged up.

Pick: Chargers

5. Oakland Raiders (+6.5) at Denver Broncos

Hard to imagine this same Oakland team that has finally settled in to lower mid level mediocrity is going to beat the same team that recently beat the Patriots, and that a few weeks back also dominated the Packers like they were a farm club.  But they will.

Pick: Oakland

6. San Francisco 49ers (+1.5) at Cleveland Browns

Be better if Kevin Patra were held to a year of eating fruitarian drinks, whatever those are, but he probably won’t have to, as Johnny Football’s only incompletion, and turnover, is during his one drop back where he pulls a beer out of his side pocket and doesn’t get the top off and the whole can fully guzzled before being sacked and stripped of the ball (and beer can).

Ha ha we can joke all we want, beer drinking quarterbacks are a serious NFL quarterback problem. As are the Browns.

Pick: Browns

7.  Atlanta Falcons (+7.5) at Carolina Panthers

The Panthers, despite the ludicrous “Riverboat Ron” nickname, used to sometimes outplay the Falcons as huge underdogs and then lose at the end because they liked punting on 4th and short past midfield with a small lead when a mere 1st down wins the game outright.

Now the Panthers are genuinely better. A lot better. And they will lose: Probably by being afraid of playing to win at the end (and blowing their perfect season), and so Matt Ryan gets a chance to beat them again. And does.

Pick: Falcons

8. New Orleans (+4.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers;

The Saints party like it’s 1999.

Wait, the Saints only won 3 games in 1999, Mike Ditka’s last season as head coach there.  While the Bucs lost in the last minute of the NFC Championship game on a controversial replay.

So maybe after the game.

Pick: Saints. If not, maybe the Saints should bring back Rob Ryan, and consider getting some new defensive players instead of a new coordinator. Or both.

Week 13 NFL Picks Against the Spread

Last week: 1-1 Unofficial picks: 0-0 (See last paragraph last weeks picks.) Year to date picks against the spread (ATS): Official picks: 29-26-1. Total picks ATS: 33-26-1

Recap: Last week went with the Cowboys. Against an undefeated team whose coach probably asked them why they were 10-0 and undefeated in almost 365 days regular season if go back to last year, yet still not even a favorite (and in some places an underdog) against a debacle 3-7 team who’s not even very good at home. Which probably get then pretty riled. And rightly so.

This quote from a silly comedy movie, and tweeted by Tony Romo, inspired:

Here’s a better inspirational Tom Berenger movie:

This flick, a sort of far softer (and much nicer) “pulp fiction,” relied on an inspirational book which wouldn’t support a team like the Cowboys, who have made excuses (Romo’s not playing!) but would support a team like the Vikings, who don’t.


1. Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings:

3 points would be a more comfortable line here, since this game does involve a team that came within a 2nd & goal from the 1 yard line of winning its second Super Bowl in a row last year, and finished out the 2012 season by almost going to the championship game. A club now with its back up against the wall. But so far it’s not quite been the same team; while the Vikings have been quietly growing. This game will show whether that growth has continued.

Pick: Vikings

2  Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) at St. Louis Rams

Sure the Rams might win, in, of course, true recent history Jeff FIsher fashion. The Jekyll and Hyde Rams, a moniker that’s been fitting since Fisher took over.

Now that they’re all but out of the playoff race, and can’t harm the Cardinals chances too badly even by beating them, they might yet win again and sweep. They outplayed the Cardinals (but lost) one of the two games last year and beat them by 2 points earlier this one.

The Cardinals remember that, and don’t like it. But the Rams seem to play this team well. They may again, but they’re still a a largely up and down but fairly mediocre team with no offense, and a defense that still doesn’t always tackle correctly. And going up against one of the best teams in the NFL, coming into the game knowing they will get the Rams best shot – which given the Rams history is a lot different than the Rams frequent mediocre ones.

And while beating the Cardinals seems to unfortunately define the Rams season for them – and why in part they’re a scary team for the Cardinals to play right now – keep in mind this is now Jeff Fisher’s 20th season as an NFL head coach. It’s included only 6 playoff appearances, and a Rams team that each year continues to do no better than the quick spike in improvement from its prior dismal depths it showed the first year Fisher, now in year four, took over.

Pick: Cardinals

3. Carolina Panthers (-6.5) at New Orleans Saints

And then there were none.

Pick: Saints

4. Denver Broncos (-5.5) at San Diego Chargers

Denver’s a very strong football team, but new QB Brock Osweiler is still somewhat unknown; and Denver’s also getting a lot of publicity off of beating an injury riddled Patriots team in a game they were solidly losing until near the end. And injury riddled or not, under QB Philip Rivers the Chargers have typically played pretty good football late in the season.

Pick: Chargers

5. Indianapolis Colts (+9) At Pittsburgh Steelers

The way the Steelers have been playing, it’s hard to see them losing. Particularly considering the easier schedule the more questionable, and normally almost entirely Andrew Luck led Colts – now still playing with a so far successful but not taking the stats column by storm 40 year old quarterback  – has had. But 9 points is still too many for a game that is far from a near lock.

Pick: Colts