This week in sports: I'll take the ______ and the points

I hope this happens on Sunday. The Chargers causing a fumble would be much more helpful than fumbling it away a couple times. The Chargers have the #1 offense, the #1 defense and the #32 special teams. I don't think they actually have a measurement for special teams, but whatever it is, if it says any other team in the NFL is worse than the Chargers, it's wrong. I'd like a Charger's game to end in an emotion other than frustration. As for everyone else in the NFL, underdogs are 62-40-1 against the spread (ATS...for those in the biz). I don't think this has anything to with gambling gods or karma. Underdogs are 46-58 straight up (SU) so the lines are accurately reflecting the favorites being the better team, but so many teams are so close that getting any points at all is enough to make the difference. Last week there were two games decided by one single point. When I make my picks, I click on every underdog first, then go back and actually analyze whether I think the matchup determines that I should take the favorite and give the points. As a result, I am 56-43 ATS and 60-44 SU.

Miami @ Cincinnati (-2): I'd take the Dolphins and their good pass defense against the Bengals choosing not to run the ball even if the Dolphins were favored. But now I'm getting points to choose the better team? What are the Dolphins odds to win outright?
Not so bold prediction: The Dolphins win outright.
Bold prediction: Ricky Williams scores his first rushing TD of the year.

Jacksonville @ Dallas (-6.5): If there's a team you want to go up against when your starter just broke his collarbone so that your backup can get his sea legs back it's...well, it's actually the Bills, but the Jaguars are pretty close. Still, Dallas isn't good enough for me to confidently give 6.5 to anyone. So I'll the the Jaguars and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Jon Kitna throws a passing touchdown.
Bold prediction: Despite getting fewer carries, Felix Jones has more rushing yards than Maurice Jones-Drew.

Washington @ Detroit (-2.5): When's the last time you watched an NFL game and really felt that the crowd was making a difference in the game? I mean, I know that a good home crowd can be quiet when the offense is on the field allowing their team to audible and being loud enough that the opposing offense isn't able to communicate, but just watching the games it doesn't seem to make enough of a difference for an inferior Lions team to beat a superior Redskins team. I'll take the Redskins and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Calvin Johnson leads the game in receiving yards.
Bold prediction: Matthew Stafford has more rushing yards than Donovan McNabb.

Buffalo @ Kansas City (-7.5): Kansas City is 4-2 straight up and 5-1 against the spread. Is it possible that they are actually good? I keep looking for some kind of explanation, but their offense is average at best. Matt Cassel has three good games and three bad games under his belt. The Chief's opponents are 16-24. They are going up against the Bills, Raiders, Broncos, Cardinals, Seahawks, Broncos before they face the Chargers again. Is that an easy schedule? Yes. Can they lose three of those game? Easily. Do I also dislike question talkers? Yes, I do. Does anyone else watch Scrubs as much as me and Jessica? Probably not. In the end...the Bills REALLY suck and there's no way I'm taking Buffalo.
Not so bold prediction: Thomas Jones leads the game in rushing yards.
Bold prediction: Ryan Fitzpatrick has at least 50 more passing yards than Matt Cassel. (I think 100 was way too much.)

Carolina @ St. Louis (-3): The Panthers are bad (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS) and the Rams don't suck (3-4 SU, 5-2 ATS). I've got no problem taking the Rams here.
Not so bold prediction: This game goes under the 38 points.
Bold prediction: Jonathan Stewart has more rushing yards than Steven Jackson.

Green Bay @ NY Jets (-6): Ok. It's 3:45pm on Friday afternoon and I have about an hour's worth or work to finish before I go I'm going to pick things up a little bit. Green Bay is still very capable of being a Super Bowl quality team. 6 is a lot of points. So while I think the Jets are better, I don't trust them to cover 6 points.
Not so bold prediction: LaDainian Tomlinson leads the game in rushing yards.
Bold prediction: Greg Jennings and Donald Driver both have more receiving yards than any Jet.

Denver @ San Francisco (-1): This game is in London, so I'll take the Broncos and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Frank Gore leads the game in rushing.
Bold prediction: Vernon Davis has more catches than Brandon Lloyd.

Seattle @ Oakland (-2.5): I'll take the Seahawks and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Oakland scores at least 30 fewer points than last week.
Bold prediction: There is a defensive or special teams touchdown or special teams fumble.

Minnesota @ New England (-6): There's no way I can come up with something better, so I'm going with Bill Simmons' line "Either Brett Favre will start on a broken ankle or Tarvaris Jackson will start on two healthy ankles." I am having a really hard time picking a starting fantasy quarterback between Tom Brady against the Vikings or Kyle Orton against the London 49ers. Right now I'm leaning towards Brady because I think he can throw the ball against the Vikings and wants to show Randy Moss they didn't need him.
Not so bold prediction: Tom Brady leads the game in passing yards AND Adrian Peterson leads the game in rushing yards...those are both going to happen and it's still not a very bold prediction.
Bold prediction: Randy Moss scores a TD of at least 30 yards.

Tampa Bay @ Arizona (-3): Arizona is bad, Tampa Bay is not. Tampa Bay is better than the Cardinals so I will take the Bucs and the points. One piece of relevant information: the Cardinals are 2-0 at home, but it was over the Raiders and the Saints. I still feel comfortable with the Bucs.
Not so bold prediction: Josh Freeman has more fantasy points than Derek Anderson.
Bold prediction: LaGarrette Blount has more rushing yards than Beanie Wells.

Pittsburgh @ New Orleans (-1): This is the one game, and there are several this week, that I don't understand how the favorite is actually favored. I mean, who is actually betting money on the Saints. Have these people seen any games since the Super Bowl? The Steelers look dominant and the Saints look like they have problems. I'll gladly take the Steelers and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Rashard Mendenhall leads the game in rushing.
Bold prediction: New Orleans defense has more sacks than Pittsburgh.

Houston @ Indianapoli (-5.5): This game was the hardest for me to pick...and I'm still not sure I've settled on a decision. I agree with Simmons that you don't bet against Peyton Manning at night. I love quarterbacks and appreciate their impact on the game. I am mostly confident that the Colts will win, but I don't feel confident giving 5.5 points this season. Houston has won four times and both losses were by 14 points. Indy's point differential has been -10, +14, +14, -3, +10, +3. They have covered 5 points only twice. Oh, and the Texans already beat the Colts once this year. Can the Colts run up the score? I don't think so. But winning by 7 when the score is 45-38 doesn't really look like a blowout. And in the end, that was my deciding factor. 5.5 points is a much smaller spread when the game is getting above 70 points. 38-35 is a lot closer than 17-14. So I'm going with Peyton Manning and hoping he plays like Peyton Manning.
Not so bold prediction: Peyton Manning has more passing yards than Matt Schaub.
Bold prediction: Pierre Garcon has more receiving yards than Andre Johnson.


  1. I just realized that for the first time ever, the pick I made here was different than in my Yahoo pick 'em group. See, I told you I was confused about the Colts-Texans game. I picked the Colts here and the Texans there...and I put a score of 34-31 as a tiebreaker. I'll stick with the Colts, but I'll let you know on Monday before the game if I have flip-flopped.

  2. But this really is the year to be going with the underdog and taking the points. I can tell you this, I guarantee I will not pick this game as one of my official picks.

  3. I still haven't made a final decision on Colts-Texans...I'll do that on Monday. As for the rest of the games, I'm taking Pittsburgh -1, Tampa Bay +3, St. Louis -3, Miami +2, Jacksonville +6.5, Washington +2.5, Seattle +2.5.

  4. The only pick I really loved this week was St Louis -3, but that game is decided (St Louis more than beat the spread) so I can't in good conscience pick it.

    Instead of that, I will make my one pick for this week Tampa Bay +3.

  5. So who you got for Colts-Texans tonight?

    Also were you 4-3 for your other picks? A continued strong showing by you. In particular, underdogs TB, Miami, and Jacks won outright.

    Seattle did get slaughtered though and Oakland appears to be better now than they were at the start of the season. Will they start getting (gasp) favorable lines?

  6. Here were my picks for the weekend (was in Vegas by the time you posted this):

    Pats -6: I also agree with Simmons, and I don't think the Vikings are really that good.

    Rams -3: Carolina isn't good, and I've been high on the Rams all season (esp. at home in the dome).

    Seattle +3: I don't think the Raiders can score enough to keep up with the Seahawks, and last week was more fluke than reality.

  7. Every way I look at this game tells me the Colts are going to win. And since I think it's a bad idea to try and predict that one team will win, but not cover, I will take the Colts...but in an unofficial capacity.

  8. I think Sports Guy reverse-jinxed the Colts, and especially PEY, with his column at the beginning of the season. Of course, he was saying not to overreact, but you could sense what he was really saying was, "They are done. And if not, they will be by the end of the season."

    Peyton and the Colts = Duncan and the Spurs. Write them off at your own peril.

  9. I went 8-4 on my 'Not so bold' predictions and 4-8 on my Bold predictions. You can view the results here.