FIWK the NFL: Week 4

The NFL right now is a volatile muddled middle. Remember that week in August where the stock market had four consecutive days of triple-digit movement and at the end of the week we were right back where we started? That's the NFL so far. Overall the teams are really close in quality, but that doesn't mean you can just take the underdog and the points because the games are much more volatile. You're going to have underdogs winning outright and one point favorites winning by double digits. You're going to have Team A beat Team B by two touchdowns, Team B defeat Team C handily and then Team C takes care of business against Team A. Go ahead and look at Tennessee, NYJ, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville and Oakland and figure out what's going on there. I'm pretty sure there is a Super Bowl contender and 6-10 team in that group. Go ahead and add Washington, Dallas, NYG, Philadelphia (wait, that's all the same division), New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Atlanta. I would only feel confident picking 3-0 Green Bay and against 0-3 Kansas City and 0-3 Seattle...wait, no Seattle beat Arizona last week, who beat Carolina, who beat Jacksonville, who beat Tennessee, who beat Baltimore, who beat Pittsburgh, who beat Seattle. See that vicious little circle we're dealing with? For no particular rhyme or reason, I'm going to use point differential unless I have some reason not to.

Carolina (+6.5) over CHICAGO: Carolina -8, Chicago -9. Matt Forte good.

Buffalo (-3) over CINCINNATI: Buffalo +40, Cincinnati +3. Ryan Fitzpatrick good.

Tennessee (+1.5) over CLEVELAND: Tennessee +14, Cleveland -1. Chris Johnson has his best game of the year so far.

Detroit (+1.5) over DALLAS: Detroit +55, Dallas +2. Lots and lots of fantasy goodness.

Minnesota (-1.5) over KANSAS CITY: Minnesota -14, Kansas City -82. Adrian Peterson, duh.

Washington (-1.5) over ST. LOUIS: Washington +13, St. Louis -60. Tim Hightower good.

San Francisco (+8.5) over PHILADELPHIA: San Francisco +18, Philadelphia +1. Ok, let's slow down and take a look at this. I have picked every road team so far and I don't like that. I think the Eagles are better than the 49ers. But the Eagles haven't looked all that know what, I don't care enough, it's a lot of points and I'm going to try and stay consistent with my system of the week. LeSean McCoy good.

New Orleans (-7) over JACKSONVILLE: New Orleans +16, Jacksonville -33. Drew Brees good.

HOUSTON (-4) over Pittsburgh: Hey, a home team!! Houston +30, Pittsburgh -1. Andre Johnson scores a touchdown.

Nyg (+1.5) over ARIZONA: Nyg +11, Arizona +3. Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks, Larry Fitzgerald...lots of fantasy above-averageness.

Atlanta (-4.5) over SEATTLE: Atlanta -17, Seattle -37. Michael Turner good.

GREEN BAY (-12.5) over Denver: Green Bay +25, Denver -4. Denver lost by three, won by two, lost by three and I think they'll lose by 13? Yes, yes I do. James Starks good.

New England (-4.5) over OAKLAND: New England +25, Oakland +10. This has the potential to be a very entertaining game. I hope the Patriots demoralize the Raiders and break their spirit for the rest of the season. Tom Brady and Darren McFadden are good.

SAN DIEGO (-7) over Miami: I didn't even have to break out my homerness for this pick. San Diego -4, Miami -25.

BALTIMORE (-3.5) over Nyj: Baltimore +45, Nyj +22. Ray Rice good.

TAMPA BAY (-10) over Indianapolis: Tampa Bay 0, Indianapolis -38. LaGarette Blount good.

I'm actually surprised I didn't have to violate my system of the week. The closest for me were SF-PHI, HOU-PIT and TB-IND. My gut says Philly wins and covers, Pittsburgh wins outright (thank you for the points) and Tampa Bay can't cover 10...but I like this system, so I will stick with it.


  1. I don't know what it is about my lack of confidence in any of these picks, but I'm feeling surprisingly confident about my picks as a whole.

    I'll put down $10 on every game according to my picks above, including SF, HOU and TB.

  2. Ahahaha... I love how you dropped "Player X is good" down to "Player X good" about four picks in... that slayed me.

    Seeing those point differentials is super helpful. It is absolutely astonishing that Kansas City is already at -82 through three weeks (and they only lost by 3 last week).

    Here are my picks of the week. I'm at a fictional $800 right now; fictional $50 on each of the following:

    Buffalo -3
    Minnesota -1.5
    NYG -1.5
    New England -4.5

    And on these EPL lines:
    Manchester City -1 over BLACKBURN
    Over 2.5 goals, TOTTENHAM vs. Arsenal

  3. Some of these lines almost feel like cheating. Maybe I'm underreacting to the season so far, or maybe linesmakers are overreacting, but I am thrilled to only lay 1.5 points vs. the Chiefs or only 1.5 points vs. the Cardinals. Those teams are not good. The Vikings and Giants are at least decent. Doesn't this feel like stealing?

  4. $10 on Seattle +5.5: can I jump off the Matt Ryan bandwagon yet?

    $10 on Carolina +7: I'm fully on the Cam Newton bandwagon

    $20 on Niners +9: normally, I'm picking against the Niners playing the early game on the East coast, but they stayed out East this week, so that theory doesn't apply. Not sure what the o/u is, but I'm also putting $10 on the under.

  5. Of the four leagues I have $ involved, I went up against Aaron Rodgers in three of them. He of 400 passing yards, 4 passing TDs and 2 rushing TDs. I'm sure we'll get another series of articles tomorrow about how this compares to the all time greatest fantasy games ever.

  6. Can Philip Rivers be uncharacteristically inaccurate while still completing 68.3%? I've seen him over throw Vincent Jackson at least three times on wide open deep routes that were their bread and butter last year. Cost us a touchdown against the Patriots and had to settle for a field goal against the Dolphins.

    My biggest example is Vincent Jackon's touchdown today. He was so wide open, he had time to stretch for the ball, make the catch while falling down, get back up and score a touchdown. Last year it would have been a perfect pitch and catch giving Jackson plenty of time to showboat in any way he wanted.

  7. Who's winning the match, Pop??

    Not too shabby, at least for Aaron generally and Scoot getting the Niners. And how 'bout them Chiefs?! McNabb sez: Great. Googlily. Moogily.

    Happy to break even at $0 as always, ladies. La'ers!

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  9. And: Aaron & Royce, are you worried about Rivers' relative inaccuracy long term?

    See, to me, he's starting to feel like a Tony Romo Memorial 80% Guy. He'll get you 80% of the way to success (Romo on a game-by-game basis, Rivers more on a season-by-season basis), and then just can't get over the hump. The key difference, of course, is that Romo ends up unloading a Colt .45 into his foot, whereas Rivers seems to be let down by teammates and horrific luck - usually, in the form of Nate Kaeding.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum is Rodgers. A guy in his position should do EXACTLY what he did against a team like Denver. He gives you the 100% you need, and then kicks it up into "Best Fantasy Performance Ever?" territory just for kicks. I have no rebuttal...that was perfect

  10. I am still reeling from the fact that MP actually just signed off with "La'ers!"...

    Scott did you go 3 for 3? Well done sir.

    I went 4-2, losing to the Chiefs and Bengals of all teams. I am totally stunned that the Chiefs beat the Vikings. And also stunned about the Niners flat out beating the Eagles... thought they could cover the 9 points, but win?? Wow.

    Did nail both EPL bets. City -1 over Blackburn was like taking candy from a baby.

  11. You know what's better than Scott making $40 while going 3-for-3? Me making $80 while going 12-3. One of my best Sundays in a long time.

  12. 12-3 is super impressive. I liked your point differential lines a lot and I think that's an interesting avenue of inquiry going forward when we look at the lines.

    I made $100 on my 4-2 weekend, bringing me to $900 for the season.

  13. Hehe, your "taking candy from a baby" line had me thinking of a Tottenham chant calling Wenger a pedophile.

    Damn, Aaron, that is impressive. A tip of my cap, sir. Agreed about the point differential; that's one of my favorite stat-related revelations, courtesy of Bill Barnwell: using PD as a predictor of team performance.

  14. To be fair the point differential has been in vogue for many years now in the NBA, as Hollinger has used it to correlate regular season standings with predicted postseason success. The theory is the same as Barnwell's - the point differential can help you sort out when a team's "pythagorean wins" differ from their actual wins by a bit; i.e. their record looks much better or worse than the PD says it should.

    So it is only natural for me as an NBA booster to immediately cling to this philosophy in the NFL.

  15. I made $40 on my ATS bets, but lost $10 on the o/u bet, so I was +$30 this week, bringing me to a total $1,020.

  16. I made $80 with my 12-4 performance and am now up to $1,010.

  17. MP, to answer your question above about Rivers, I am not concerned about his accuracy long term. At least not yet. But I do find it strange and somewhat unnerving that he is missing throws that had become routine.

    (For example, his long ball to Vince Jackson had become such a fixture of our team that Aaron's fantasy team name in one league is actually "Rivers to Jackson".)

    That said, sometimes QBs go through issues like this and it's hard to tell if it's timing or something deeper, like a weird injury. My biggest fear is he develops some Kurt Warner-like malady where he lost his accuracy with the Rams, and had to take years away to get back to full health before his re-emergence with the Cardinals. But we're a long way off from that concern still.

  18. I actually feel like it's a lockout thing. Deep bombs are actually more timing related, then short see-open-guy-throw-ball passes. At least in the Chargers offense. (It's the complete opposite in a West Coast offense.) Rivers completion percentage is still so high because he is throwing shorter a little more often. His YPA is down to 8.19 from over 8.7 the last two seasons and he is currently 9th in the NFL after leading the league in this stat in 2009 and 2010.