FIWK the NFL: Thursday Quick Pick Week 12

New Orleans at ATLANTA -9.5

Atlanta is atrocious & New Orleans is a top-4 team (Seattle, KC, Denver,  & NO in whatever order you like). However, the last 4 games these 2 have played in Atlanta have either been a Falcons win, or a Falcons loss by 3. So, you get the feeling this won't be a Saints blowout. Wait no, it will; Atlanta is atrocious. The Saints cover easily: Saints 35, Falcons 18.

While we're on the Saints, I want to say a few things about the Brooks-Brees play from last week. Watching the play live, I think that call is made 9 times out of 10 - regardless of which 2 players were involved. The hit looked brutal at the time, and given the league's inclination to protect passers (ESPN's Ashley Fox had an interesting take on why this is for the better), it's a relatively easy call for officials to make.

Do I think it was the right call? Yes & No. Yes for what I said above. No for 2 reasons: I'm not sure any defender wouldn't do the exact same thing (even knowing the flag was coming); and, it screwed the Niners out of winning a huge road game (that they didn't deserve to win). Personally, I don't have a huge issue with how this played out.

That is, until, Brooks was fined. I have a very hard time understanding how the NFL was comfortable with this fine. There was no malice behind the hit. The contact to the neck/head area was very awkward & unlikely to happen again. Brooks is aligned to hit Brees' chest, yet Brees lowers his shoulder at the last moment feeling the pressure. This causes Brooks' arm to align with Brees' shoulder, which is still a legal hit. However, the motion of both players in that exact moment caused Brooks' arm to slide up and wrap around Brees' neck. This all happens in less than a second.

There's a reason we advise drivers to maintain a safe driving distance of 3-seconds behind the car in front of them: IT TAKES TIME TO REACT. There's zero chance of any individual not named Ender Wiggin of being able to react quickly enough in Brooks' situation to avoid the contact to the head/neck area. That, combined with the lack of malice behind the hit, as well as the fact that everything Brooks did in the few seconds preceding contact all were very much w/in the new rules of the game makes this a very harsh fine at best, and a foolishly-approaching-a-slippery-slope fine at worst.

I'm very curious to see what how the NFL monitors this moving forward.


  1. I appreciate that as a 49ers fan you can agree with the call on the field. I've talked to several and no one else was able to separate bias from their opinions. I wonder if the penalty was called, but the 49ers still won, would there be nearly as much outrage?

    As for the fine, it is my understanding that the amount is a standard amount and the league is trying to be consistent with fines on personal fouls. It's hard to design a fine system that is dependent on whether the offended player gets injured or walks away unscathed.

  2. If the Niners still won, I think the outrage would be much lower since the play reversal can so easily be traced to the game outcome.

    Are they fining all personal fouls? Cause that's news to me. If that's the case, I guess this specific fine can't be argued. But, I would then absolutely argue against that plan - I don't see how fining all personal fouls is the best route here.

  3. As for the Saints-Falcons. I liked the Saints a lot more when the line opened at 7.5...but like them a lot less at 9.5. I think I'm staying away from this bet.

  4. For the rest of the weekend, I putting:

    $55 on Baltimore -3.5, Dallas +2.5
    $44 on Carolina -4.5
    $33 on Kansas City -4.5
    $22 on Houston -10, New England +2.5

  5. I thought they are fining all personal fouls of a certain type. In this case, it was standard for hits to the neck/head area.

    This was from 2011, but it gives you an idea.

  6. I completely agree with Scott about the stupidity of the fine rule. You have a binary rule already in place for hits; it's the penalty on the field. Fines are related to player behavior and therefore must necessarily involve intent.

    Those situations should be judged on an individual basis. And on a side note I can't believe that the NFL players' union allows for fines like this.... fines should not be used as an extension of the on-field rulebook's penalties. That makes no sense.

  7. I also want to take a step back. Aaron - don't you agree with Scott's "time to react" argument? I feel like this happens at least once a game. Usually with a RB lowering his helmet right before contact and therefore getting blasted in his head. How's a defender supposed to react to that? Only go for the legs in all tackles?

  8. tl;dr version: I have no idea why I picked the Saints to cover...

    So, every week I set my own line for each game on Tuesday or Wednesday. I typically do this before I see any lines myself as a way to force myself to think about each teams recent performance, etc. I don't use data (oops) to set these lines, so it really is about evaluating what a team has done over the prior 4-6 weeks.

    On average, my lines are about 2 points off what the books set them at. When you compare who's line (mine or the books) was closer to the final score, the books are closer 50-55% of the time. Essentially, I'm a slight loser when it comes to beating Vegas.

    However, I've been using this method for the last 3+ years to determine which lines I want to take in this space and in another game I play with weekly $1 bets. In that game, I have a winning record when it comes to picking 3-4 lines a week 'that I like'. These are typically picks where my line is 4+ points off from Vegas.

    I set the line at Saints -4.5 on Tuesday. After finishing my post yesterday, I somehow talked myself into the Saints easily covering 9.5?

    Morale of this overly long story: oops. Don't be dumb.

  9. The morale of your overly long story is low. The moral of your overly long story is not to forget your rigorous analysis and go with your gut later.

  10. As for fines, I agree that they should be subjective, but in reality, they aren't. (Too many commas?)

    My observation in how I place lines compared to Vegas is that my system is probably pretty close to most sharps and books, except that I don't account for injuries or bettor behavior. I find myself going against public teams quite a bit. Not because I don't like them or think they are worth betting on, but because the public pushes the line too much in the wrong direction. The Panthers at home against the Patriots was the most recent example of that. Home field advantage exists and is in large part due to subconscious officials bias from groupthink. Bettors went with the Patriots and the line did not reflect that fact that the game was in Carolina.

  11. I reaaaaaally want to delete your first response.

  12. Here are my additional picks - actually based on my 'system' before I forget to post:

    $44 on Chiefs -4.5
    $44 on Carolina -4.5

    PS - not going to be able to do the traditional picks post.