Wet Wednesday: I like to drink beer while watching the NFL

There's a Thursday game this week. And I'm out of town tomorrow and Friday. And the Chargers have a Bye. So I'm giving you my picks today. I don't know what the Chargers having a Bye has to do with making my picks today, but it does explain the picture above. It actually takes place on the deck of an aircraft carrier because San Diego is a Navy town and there are many goodwill opportunities entertaining several thousand sailors before they ship off on a six month deployment.

There are 32 teams in the NFL. Every team has played 8 or 9 games, four wins is probably .500 or really close. There are 22 teams with between 4 and 6 wins. 22. Over two thirds of the NFL has 4 wins. Only 6 teams are more than two games back in their division (32-6=26 teams within two games of the division lead). And that includes 2-6 San Francisco who is only two games behind the 4-4 Rams and Seahawks. Since I've only had two days to prepare, instead of the normal four, I will only be making a prediction if I feel it's appropriate and/or relevant to my thoughts at the moment.

Baltimore @ Atlanta (-1): I'll take the underdog Ravens and the point, but I'm not very confident. The NFL Network got super lucky that their first game features two 6-2 teams. Should be a great game that a quarter of football fans are able to see. Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Roddy White, Michael Turner, playing in Atlanta, AFC vs. NFC, two pretty good (not great) defenses. This game could be 37-34 or 17-14. Even Football Outsiders says these two teams are as close as possible.

Detroit @ Buffalo (-3): How sad for Lions fans that they are a three point underdog to a winless Bills team? Don't worry Lions fans...I got your back. Well, this week at least...and only because you're getting three points. If you were 1 point favorites I'd be taking the Bills so fast you'd think I was born on the shore of Lake Erie. After looking at the map, it turns out that Detroit is also on the shore of Lake Erie (it's a big lake)...kind of...so that joke doesn't really work. But that's ok, because we have the Lions playing the Bills and that's the NFL version of slapstick comedy.
Not so bold prediction: Ndamukong Suh does not attempt a PAT. I can't think of any way I could have incorporated Suh and a PAT in a prediction last week.

Minnesota (-1) @ Chicago: Will people stop thinking the Vikings are good already? Oh wait, they're only giving one point to an possible worse Bears team? I'm ok with that. It's not that I have any faith in Lord Voldemort or Jay Cutler...it's that Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin are better than anyone on the Bears. So I'll take the Minnesota.
Not so bold prediction: Someone throws an interception. How many interceptions would it take for this to be a bold prediction? 3? 4? 5?

NY Jets (-3) @ Cleveland: Peyton Hillis looked good against the Patriots and Mark Sanchez is Mark Sanchez. Right now, the Jets have a 25% chance of winning despite Sanchez, a 25% chance of winning because of him, a 25% chance of him not hurting them and a 25% chance that he costs them the game. I'll take the Browns and the points.

Cincinnati @ Indianapolis (-7): The Bengals won the AFC North last year by running the ball more than they threw. This year they are throwing 57% of the time and they are losing. And they have Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens and who wants to cheer for them? Indianapolis has already shown that they can be beat when teams run the ball. In fact, if Marvin Lewis gets smart and runs the ball against the Colts the Bengals will win outright. I don't think Marvin Lewis wises up and the Colts cover.

Tennessee (-1) @ Miami: I thought the Dolphins were good. Then the Ravens showed me they were above average. That and their starting quarterback being injured gives me a little more confidence to say that the Titans will win by at least one point. Chris Johnson is good. The Titans passing game is sneakily effective (#5 in yards per attempt and #3 in passer rating...what's that? the Chargers are at the top of both those lists? Interesting.)
I wanted to make a prediction that Vince Young will have more rushing yards than the Dolphins starting QB...but Young hasn't been running as much and his ankle is bothering him.

Carolina @ Tampa Bay (-6.5): I'm trying to remember how the Panthers won a game...checking...oh yeah, it was against the 49ers. In a game where the Panthers starting quarterback threw two interceptions (one more than the 49ers), one of which was returned for a touchdown, they lost two more fumbles (four total turnovers to the 49ers one), San Francisco didn't miss a field goal, Frank Gore ran it 19 times for 102 yards (5.4 avg), DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 73 yards on 33 carries (2.2 avg)....ah, here it is...Matt Moore threw for 308 yards and David Carr attempted 13 passes. Anyways, back to the 5-3 Bucs and the 1-7 Panthers...I'll take the team not depending on Jimmy Clausen and Mike Goodson. The Bucs easily cover.
Not so bold prediction: Jimmy Clausen sucks in this game.

Houston @ Jacksonville (-2): The Texans are so good on offense and so bad on defense, you wouldn't think they spent 7 of their last 8 first round draft picks on defensive players. So I guess they average out to be an average team? Hey, look at that. They're 4-4. And last year they were 8-8. And in their last 56 games they are 29-27. But this year the Jaguars are also kind of average. And as has always been the case this year, when two teams are really close, I take the _____ and the points.
I hope UCLA alum Maurice Jones-Drew has a good day.

Kansas City (-1) @ Denver: I really, really, really, really, really, really, really hope the Broncos win this game. I'd love to go into week 11 with the 4-5 Chargers only one game behind them 5-4 Chiefs and the 5-4 Raiders. But I think the Chiefs are a decent team and Denver is bad...so in an emotional hedge (just like last week against the Raiders) I am picking the Chiefs to beat the Broncos by at least one point.

Dallas @ NY Giants (-14): And I thought they couldn't make the spread big enough to convince people to take the Cowboys...well, they kind of couldn't. It opened at 13.5 and jumped to 14 pretty quickly. Many bettors found opportunity in the Giants -13.5, but not in the Giants -14. It is kind of unfortunate that Jason Garret's first game as a head coach is as a 14 point underdog. So here's my thinking...that this season favorites are only 3-7 ATS when favored by double digits. That I don't like having the favorite up by 17 with four minutes left in the game because you can just smell the garbage time touchdown coming. The Cowboys have some talent and I'd rather err on the side of a new coach firing his team up more than the old coach than saying that nothing will change under a new coach and they will continue to suck. So I'll take the Cowboys and the points.
Not so bold prediction: The Cowboys lose outright.

Seattle @ Arizona (-3): The Seahawks don't like playing well away from the rainy comfort of Seattle...but they're still better than the Matt Leinart-Derek Anderson-Max Hall-Derek Anderson led Caridnals...so I'll take the Seahawks and the points.
(This game doesn't deserve any more thought or effort on my part.)

St. Louis @ San Francisco (-6): Remember earlier when I mentioned that the Panthers beat the 49ers? Yeah, me too. Now, I'm not saying the 49ers are really bad...just below average...at best...maybe a little less than that. In fact, Football Outsiders and ESPN Insider both say the 49ers are the better team. Even with Troy Smith at quarterback. Me, I say I feel comfortable taking a 4-4 team plus 6 points over a 2-6 team. Not saying I feel super comfortable, given that I believe in the power of statistical analysis...as long as it agrees with what I already think...but this seems to be the common sense play here.
Frank Gore and/or Steven Jackson will run for 100 yards.

New England @ Pittsburgh (-4.5): So the Steelers were up 27-7 in the 4th quarter over the Bengals last week and the Patriots went and lost to the Browns. This is a good line because it really makes you think. Everything feels like the Steelers are going to win at home...but will they win by more than three? It almost feels weird...I'm probably picking the Steelers to cover, and earlier I picked the Cowboys +14...but if I was forced to pick either the Patriots or Cowboys to cover with something really serious on the line, I would probably end up taking the New England Brady & Belichik's. But I really think the Steelers are going to win and I hate specifically trying to predict that one team will win while the other covers. So much like a couple weeks ago when I ultimately picked the Colts, this week I'll take the Steelers to cover.

Philadelphia (-3) @ Washington: The Eagles are better. In fact, the Eagles are much better. As in, I have no idea how anyone could pick the Redskins...oh yeah, the Redskins beat the Eagles 17-12 earlier this season. Still, I think the Eagles are better and they easily cover.


  1. Aaron, fix your html syntax for your Jets-Browns game, it ate half your comment.

  2. My picks for this week:

    Falcons -1: I think these two teams are even, so I'll take the Falcons getting 2 points (3-points for home field advantage...).

    Lions +3: I'm in your boat - I think the Bills are bad.

    Rams +6: I don't have enough faith in my own team; that said, I can see us winning 24-10 and the whole Bay getting excited again...

  3. I'm gonna pull an Aaron and start putting up at least some commentary next to my picks. I'll take:

    Detroit +3: I think this game will be a shootout, and I boldly predict over 60 total points will be scored.

    Special bonus commentary - your line "we have the Lions playing the Bills and that's the NFL version of slapstick comedy" is one of my all-time favorite lines of FIWK. I'm dying here. It could only be a more slapstick game if both teams agreed to use defensive linemen to kick all their extra points.

    Tennesee -1: The Dolphins could conceivably win a close one, but the Titans could also absolutely destroy Miami. I predict that noodle-arm Chad Pennington is making the Pennington face on the sideline by the 3rd quarter, the Titans win by double digits, but Brandon Marshall still has a big day. That's right Aaron, 3 predictions. Take that.

    TB -6.5: Carolina is atrocious. Wtf happened to Steve Smith? Is Klausen really that terrible that he can't sling Smith the ball occasionally?

    St Louis +6: Troy Smith? Laying 6 points? Really? Hell freaking no. By the way, "I believe in the power of statistical analysis... as long as it agrees with what I already think" is an awesome line. That is a flat-out Simpsons-quality line. Great work.

    Philly -3: Agree with Aaron that the Eagles are way better but the line is too low because the Redskins won the last matchup. Vick looks better every week and I think he puts on a show in this one.

    Side note: I would take NE +4.5, because I like when a good team gets more than a field goal, but the Steelers are also good enough that it makes me nervous. I will not make a pick for this game, but will predict that New England rises to the challenge for this game and makes everyone question the rankings of the best teams in the AFC.

  4. Wow, I just wrote a freaking essay in the comments and then Google ate it. EFF YOU GOOGLE!

    My goal was to make my picks and provide commentary, but now I'm so pissed I'm just making picks. Commentary may or may not follow later.

    Detroit +3, Tenn -1, TB -6.5, St Louis +6, Philly -3

    Aaron - I have to tell you that your line "we have the Lions playing the Bills and that's the NFL version of slapstick comedy" is one of my all-time favorite lines on FIWK. I'm dying here. That matchup could only be more slapstick if both teams agreed to have defensive linemen kick all the extra points in the game.

    Also, your line about "I believe in the power of statistical analysis...as long as it agrees with what I already think" is flat-out Simpsons-quality. Absolutely awesome work. Strong week by you.

  5. Oh! It didn't eat my comment after all! Wtf is going on here?

  6. I don't know what happened with Cleveland or the Colts. I'll try to fix it the next time I'm sitting at a computer. I basically said that Peyton Hillis is good, Mark Sanchez is not, and Marvin Lewis is an idiot. Browns and Colts cover.

  7. HAHA - that's the best succinct roundup you've ever done. Brilliant!

  8. Ok, I fixed it. I hope the comments are still appropriate and funny.

  9. Uh - I prefer you go back. What's with that Sanchez link? I'm mad at you.

  10. Scooter, you've never seen that photo? That's one of the iconic "Mark Sanchez is a d-bag and USC sucks" pics on all the internets.

    I also think it perfectly captures the sentiment "Mark Sanchez is *Mark Sanchez*".

  11. I'm taking Detroit +3, Cleveland +3, Tampa bay -6.5, st Louis +6, Dallas +14, Philly -3.

  12. Aaron I liked the +14 pts that Dallas was getting, but didn't have the stones to back them after their recent embarrassments. Good job by you.

  13. I went 4-1 yesterday on my picks here...but went 5-8 overall. Cutler and Favre combined for 5 interceptions. The Bengals threw twice as much as they ran. The Broncos won. The Cowboys won. Neither Frank Gore nor Steven Jackson ran for 100 yards in an overtime game.

    I don't know what to think of Week 10 and my performance.

  14. Royce, your prediction of Bills and Lions scoring 60 didn't quite make it. Pennington was knocked out of the game due to injury, the Titans lost, Marshall had 3 catches for 34 yards.

    Maybe you should keep your bold predictions confined to basketball...

  15. I am bowing out of the bold predictions game after that catastrophe. Ouch. Aaron that is way harder than it looks. Like a great athlete, you make your craft look easy.

    I cannot believe I haven't done anything NBA related yet. I'm a total disgrace.

    I am 3-1 on picks this week entering tonights Philly game.

  16. Royce, are you waiting for the Heat to confirm their ineptitude before writing about them, or are you too busy waxing Kevin Durant's MVP trophy? Either way, I'd love for you to set it aside and weigh in on the Nooba.

    I gotta be honest, I still don't understand the vocabulary of lines, points, and picks. The whole +/- thing confuses me. I guess what I really need is a translator - and I distinctly remember having this conversation on the Thread - or, rather, an interpreter, to look at the math and say, "This time is favored by this many points. Do you want to take them or not?" Is that how it works?


  17. The vast majority of our discussions on this thread center around the point spread of football games. When you place a bet in a Vegas casino, they also take a small commission, usually 10% or less. So when I make a $20 bet, I actually give them $22 and if I win, they give me back $42. Ideally, Vegas wants half the bettors on one side and half on the other. That way none of their own money is actually at risk and they still get to keep all the commission money from the losers. However, when the Colts are playing the Bengals, it's really hard to get half of the bettors to pick the Bengals to win, so they provide an incentive, either with odds (a different type of bet that I can explain later) or a point spread (a.k.a betting line). People may think the Bengals only have a 20% chance of winning, but maybe half the bettors think it will be a close game and will bet on Cincinnati +7 points. So those that think the Colts will win will have to think long and hard and decide if they think the Colts will win by more than 7 points.

    The quick way to look at a line is to simply say Vegas thinks the Colts will win by 7 points. But they more in depth way to look at it is to understand that Vegas is actually saying half the betting public thinks the Colts will win by at least 7 and half thinks the Bengals will win or lose by less than 7. When we talk about the line moving, it means Vegas was wrong about the betting public. Let's keep the betting public the same, but say that Vegas put out the first betting line at 6 points. Since there are some people who think the Colts will win by 7, they are actually betting on the Colts, along with the entire half the thinks they win by more than 7 and fewer people are betting on the Bengals. So maybe 55-60% of bettors are picking the Colts. Well if the Colts cover 6 points, than the casino has to pay out its own money, since it is only collecting bets from 40-45% of bettors on the Bengals. So they move the line from Bengals +6 to Bengals +7 on Tuesday or Wednesday. Now, some people who thought the Bengals would lose by 6, who weren't betting either way when the line was at 6, will come in and bet on the Bengals +7 as they now have more incentive to bet on the underdog. This way the casino gets back to having half the bettors on each side of the game.

  18. You need to do a little thing on the +/- also, in other words how to say in words Colts -7 or Bengals +7.

    Colts -7 = Colts need to win by more than 7 points to win the bet, i.e. they are having 7 points subtracted from the final game score

    Bengals +7 = Bengals can lose by less than 7 points and still win the bet, i.e. they are getting 7 points added to the final game score

    Is that the easiest way to say it?

  19. Though Aaron's explanation is probably more helpful in the long run, I greatly appreciate Royce's Cliff Notes version. Maybe this week, Aaron you can give a Cliff Notes/MP Is An Idiot blurb on each game, just to humor me. I don't ask for much.

  20. The Bears have the most annoying record in the NFL. Is Jay Cutler good or is he the second coming of Lord Voldemort? Is Matt Forte a decent fantasy play or is he overrated? Is Brian Urlacher balding or does he shave his head? I would feel more comfortable taking the Dolphins if either of their first two quarterbacks weren't on the IR...but the Bears do have a better record...but I think the Dolphins are the better team...and Tyler Thigpen isn't that bad, so I'll take the Dolphins at home to cover the 1.5 points.

  21. Dolphins to cover, easily, the 1.5 points

  22. Easy, eh?

    I think Aaron's explanation about his pick was fully on display last night. I find it shocking you both chose this game as one of your "locks" of the week.

  23. I said I'm bowing out of bold predictions, then make the dumb "easily cover" prediction. Ugh. I deserve that.