Friday, October 30, 2009

Week 8 Picks

The Eagles have a huge game against the Giants this weekend, and they haven't been playing especially well leading up to it. An inaccurate QB, injured RB, and pass-happy coach - any of this sound familiar? - don't help the situation. But are we witnessing a setup for another November/December playoff run, or the beginning of McNabb's decline?

  • Houston -3.5 at Buffalo - I don't like Houston on the road, especially against a defense which is turning the opposition over like Buffalo. But the Bills are a terrible team, who've won the last two weeks in spite of being badly outplayed. I wouldn't be shocked if Buffalo squeaks out another ugly win, but I'll put my money on the better team and take my chances.
  • Cleveland at Chicago -14 - You know you're a bad team when you're a two-TD underdog to a team that just lost 45-10.
  • Seattle at Dallas -10 - Too many injuries for the Seahawks. They'll play better than last week, and make it a game for a while, but the Cowboys pull away in the end.
  • St. Louis +4 at Detroit - If the Rams don't win this week, they'll become the second 0-16 team in two years. They'll play with a desperation that the banged-up Lions won't match.
  • San Francisco +13 at Indianapolis - I'm not confident of this pick...the Colts are capable of blowing anyone out, but the 49ers are a well-coached team, so I'll take the double-digit points.
  • Miami +3.5 at NY Jets -3.5 - I don't think Chad Henne and the Dolphins respond well to their bitter come-from-ahead loss against the Saints. The Jets defense will create turnovers and will be the difference in the game.
  • New York Giants +1 at Philadelphia - This line has moved two points in the Giants' direction, and I tend to bet against moves like that. But there's too much evidence in the Giants' favor: Four wins in a row in Philadelphia, rarely losing three in a row under Tom Coughlin, and no Brian Westbrook.
  • Denver +3 at Baltimore - Undefeated and I get three points? Yeah, I'll take that.
  • Jacksonville +3 at Tennessee - Winless and giving three points? And Vince Young is playing? The Jags are my Lock of the Week.
  • Oakland +17 at San Diego - Who knows if the Raiders will bother to show up this week? They played this division foe tough enough to win in week 1, so I'll take the chance they do it again.
  • Carolina at Arizona -10.5 - Bad matchup for Delhomme, against the #1 rush defense. He'll have to pass a lot, which means 3+ picks for the Cards.
  • Minnesota +3 at Green Bay - It doesn't seem possible that the Pack could be swept by the Favre-led Vikings, but I can't give points in a game this tight.
  • Atlanta +10.5 at New Orleans - The Saints are unbelievably hot, and I think they'll win, but Atlanta's a good team, and will show up for this division battle.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 7 Wrap

It seems I've definitely levelled off. Although I still have a winning record for the season, I was a loser again this week (5-7-1) and a disturbing 16-24-1 for the last three weeks.

  • Indianapolis at St. Louis +14.5 - Colts 42, Rams 6 - LOSS. Did I really pick the Rams? That has to be a mistake.
  • Minnesota +5.5 at Pittsburgh - Steelers 27, Vikings 17 - LOSS. I had this locked up til that crazy tipped-screen-pass-returned-for-a-TD in the last minute.
  • New England -15.5 at Tampa Bay - Pats 35, Bucs 7 - WIN.
  • San Francisco +3 at Houston - Texans 24, 49ers 21 - PUSH.
  • Green Bay -9 at Cleveland - Packers 31, Browns 3 - WIN.
  • San Diego -5.5 at Kansas City - Chargers 37, Chiefs 7 - WIN.
  • New York Jets at Oakland +7 - Jets 38, Raiders 0 - LOSS. Sure makes those Eagles look good, eh? Hey Andy, the Jets ran for over 300 yards against the Raiders...good gameplan, genius.
  • Buffalo at Carolina -7 - Bills 20, Panthers 9 - LOSS. The Panthers outgained the Bills by a 2-1 margin, but lost handily thanks to more turnovers from Jake Delhomme.
  • Bears at Cincinnati even - Bengals 45, Bears 10 - WIN. Just like I predicted...a 35-point blowout for the Bengals. Ok, maybe not, but I'll take the win.
  • New Orleans at Miami +7 - Saints 46, Dolphins 34 - LOSS. I sure was looking smart when Miami was up 24-3. Not so much after the Saints scored the last 22 points of the game.
  • Arizona at New York Giants -7 - Cardinals 24, Giants 17 - LOSS. The Giants were 17-2 against the Cards in their last 19 games in New York. But pussy coaching from Tom Coughlin and bad decision-making from Eli Manning cost them in the end.
  • Philadelphia -7 at Washington - Eagles 27, Redskins 17 - WIN. The Eagles looked bad, but the Redskins were worse.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Week 7 Picks

In spite of last week's smackdown, I'm coming back for more. Looking for my first winning week in the past three.

  • Indianapolis at St. Louis +14.5 - It's really hard to pick a home team to lose by more than two TDs, even if it's the Rams.
  • Minnesota +5.5 at Pittsburgh - A lot of times I would take the Steelers, at home, in a big game. But they've been killing me this year, so I'll take the undefeated team with the points.
  • New England -15.5 at Tampa Bay - Though Tampa is technically the home team, this game will be played in London. I can't imagine that a winless team will be excited to travel across the pond for a matchup with the Pats, so I think they'll come out flat and get crushed.
  • San Francisco +3 at Houston - The Texans can't seem to get over that .500 hump, and I expect the Niners to be both well-prepared after a bye week.
  • Green Bay -9 at Cleveland - The Browns are terrible.
  • San Diego -5.5 at Kansas City - I haven't been impressed with the Chargers, and Norv Turner is a lousy coach, but this is their season. They have to show up and play a big game, or their playoff chances are pretty much done.
  • New York Jets at Oakland +7 - The odds can't be good that the Raiders put together a good performance two weeks in a row, but the Jets haven't been playing well, so maybe the Raiders can keep it close.
  • Buffalo at Carolina -7 - Yes, I was burned by the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bills last week, but I'm not buying in. The Panthers run all over them at home.
  • Atlanta +4 at Dallas - The Falcons are playing a lot better right now, and the Cowboys haven't beaten a winning team in a while.
  • Bears at Cincinnati even - The Bengals have a better running game and are playing better defense than the Bears right now. Should be a very tight game - the kind the Bengals have been winning and the Bears have been losing.
  • New Orleans at Miami +7 - Look for a very similar game to the Colts/Dolphins, where Miami controls the clock running the ball, and the Saints score quickly through the air. Should be a close game.
  • Arizona at New York Giants -7 - The Giants' pass defense was exposed last week, but I don't trust the Cardinals on the road, on the East Coast, or against a good team.
  • Philadelphia -7 at Washington - The Eagles play well in prime time, and the Redskins are struggling. Yes, these NFC East games are usually low-scoring slugfests, and the Redskins beat them twice last year, but I'm still taking the Eagles.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eagles trade for a LB

Poor Joe Mays.

Nicknamed 'Headbuster' by his teammates for his hard-hitting, the linebacker who was handed the starting job when Stewart Bradley went down has so far been replaced this season by Omar Gaither, Jeremiah Trotter (fresh off the couch after a two-year layoff) and now Will Witherspoon, just traded from the Rams and expected to start in the middle of this defense Monday night.

Witherspoon is a good player - he's the best LB on the team right now - but it really says something about the Headbuster when he's not just third on the depth chart, but constantly being bumped for guys they're bringing in from the outside.

It highlights yet another roster miscalculation by the Eagles - first-guessed in the preseason by this blogger - that they are suffering from a lack of depth at key positions (MLB, OT) and scrambling to find answers.

Although it's panicky, I do like the Witherspoon move. He's an instant upgrade talent-wise, although he's a better fit on the weak side instead of the middle. And I'm not sure how long it'll take him to learn the system, but there's no question the Eagles are stronger at LB after this trade. They had to give up promising young WR Brandon Gibson, who I see as an eventual starter in this league, and a fifth-round pick. But since the Eagles seem to have completely given up on Joe Mays, they had to do something to improve.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 6 Beatdown

This is the week I've been waiting for.

The crushing loss that undoes a season's worth of winning. The 'just one more' that you should have resisted, and quit while you were ahead. But I kept on going, and 4-10 was my reward:

  • Houston +5 at Cincinnati - Texans 28, Bengals 17 - WIN
  • Detroit +13.5 at Green Bay - Packers 26, Lions 0 - LOSS
  • Baltimore at Minnesota -3 - Vikings 33, Ravens 31 - LOSS - The Ravens 17-point comeback falls short, but not short enough to pay off.
  • New York Giants +3 at New Orleans - Saints 48, Giants 27 - LOSS - Think the Saints are any good?
  • Cleveland at Pittsburgh -15 - Steelers 27, Browns 14 - LOSS - 15 > 13
  • Carolina at Tampa Bay +3 - Panthers 28, Bucs 21 - LOSS - The promising young QB came back to earth
  • Kansas City at Washington -6.5 - Cheifs 14, Redskins 6 - LOSS - This would have been a lot funnier if the Eagles hadn't lost to an awful AFC West team as well.
  • St. Louis at Jacksonville -10 - Jags 23, Rams 20 - LOSS - I was so conflicted about who to pick in this game, I almost copped out and picked the under instead. The O/U? 42.5
  • Arizona at Seattle -3 - Cards 27, Seahawks 3 - LOSS
  • Philadelphia -15 at Oakland - Raiders 13, Eagles 6 - LOSS
  • Tennessee at New England -9.5 - Pats 59, Titans 0 - WIN - In the second half, with New England winning 52-0, Tom Brady was still in the game, throwing a TD pass. That's why I don't genuflect at the altar of Bill Belichick.
  • Buffalo at New York Jets -10 - Bills 16, Jets 13 - LOSS - That Rex Ryan/Mark Sanchez magic wore off pretty quick, eh?
  • Chicago at Atlanta -3 - Falcons 21, Bears 14 - WIN - When do the Falcons and the Saints play? That might be a decent game.
  • Denver +3.5 at San Diego - Broncos 34, Chargers 23 - WIN - Brian Dawkins 6-0, Eagles 3-2. Coincidence?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday Shame

We've certainly seen that before.

It was the Bengals game from last year, without stumbling into a lucky tie. 54 called passes and 13 called runs even though the Eagles never trailed by more than 7 points. No matter how inaccurate the QB was, or how many passes the receivers dropped, Reid kept throwing, and throwing, and throwing.

It was the Giants game from two years ago, where a RB averaging 8 yards/carry was ignored in favor of exposing an inexperienced OL to non-stop pass blocking.

It was the same problems on defense - inability to cover the TE - magnified by the mysterious personnel decision of bringing back Trotter after two years off, while one of the best cover LBs in the history of the NFL (Derrick Brooks) has no job.

It was every game McNabb has ever played, failing to recognize obvious blitzes pre-snap, holding the ball too long, and bouncing passes to open receivers.

For all of the brilliance of Reid and McNabb, and I must remind myself constantly this is the best coach and QB the Eagles have ever had, they stubbornly refuse to learn from their mistakes. As a fan, it is painful to watch.

I give credit to the Raiders, who badly outcoached and out-executed the Eagles. They played their best game offensively and defensively of the season, and JaAwful looked JaMediocre at times, which is pretty damned good for him. I also give credit to the officials, who mysteriously disappeared for most of the game, failing to call an offsides penalty when the Raiders actually made contact with the Nick Cole before the snap, missing the most obvious running-into-the-kicker penalty I've ever seen, and ignoring three pass intereference penalties which were not ticky-tack questionable, but involved receivers reaching up and trying to catch a ball with one hand while the other was held down by a DB.

But in spite of the Raiders' great day and the officials bad one, the Eagles have no excuse for losing. A few more catches instead of drops, a few more called runs, a little more recognition on defense, and the Eagles escape with an ugly win instead of crushing loss. If they simply beat the Raiders, who have set NFL records for futility over the past six seasons, they are tied for the lead in the NFC East and tied for the second-best record in the NFC. Instead, they're just another 3-2 team with a terrible loss on their resume and no more easy games left on their schedule.

One thing we can count on for sure, though: We'll see this game again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Week 6 Picks

  • Houston +5 at Cincinnati - The Texans aren't great on the road, but since the Bengals have been involved in so many close games, I feel a lot safer with the points.
  • Detroit +13.5 at Green Bay - I like Green Bay to win, but Detroit should be able to keep it within two TDs.
  • Baltimore at Minnesota -3 - It wouldn't surprise me if a pissed off Ravens team came out swinging after two tough losses...but how can I pick against AP when Cedric Benson just torched them for over 100 yards?
  • New York Giants +3 at New Orleans - Sean Payton is dangerous with an extra week to prepare, but I like getting points on a 5-0 team, especially one with a QB playing in his hometown for the first time.
  • Cleveland at Pittsburgh -15 - Giving 15 points in a division game is usually a recipe for disaster, but if the Browns only had 23 yards passing against the Bills...
  • Carolina at Tampa Bay +3 - Two reasons to pick the winless Bucs: I don't like giving points with a 1-3 road team, and that Josh Johnson kid can play.
  • Kansas City at Washington -6.5 - The Skins are lousy, but they'll show a little heart this week and beat the hapless Chiefs.
  • St. Louis at Jacksonville -10 - Wow, this one is hard. I either have to give 10 points with a team that just lost by 41, or I bet on the Rams. Really bad choices, but I'll go with a bounceback game for the Jags.
  • Arizona at Seattle -3 - The Seahawks are a much better team with Hasselback in the lineup, especially at home.
  • Philadelphia -15 at Oakland - The Eagles have never won in the Black Hole, and they haven't played well on the West Coast in recent years ***Correction: The Eagles are 6-0 in their last six games at Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego***...but these Raiders don't even try. I can't wait to watch JaAwful against this defense.
  • Tennessee at New England -9.5 - A terrible pass defense against Tom Brady, that doesn't sound like a good formula for the Titans.
  • Buffalo at New York Jets -10 - I'll consider picking the Bills again after Dick Jauron is fired, not before. They lost to the Browns.
  • Chicago at Atlanta -3 - With Michael Turner running again, the Falcons will be touch for the Bears to handle.
  • Denver +3.5 at San Diego - I'm doing it, I'm going to start treating Denver like a 5-0 team. And even Josh McDaniels can outcoach Norv Turner.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Week 5 Wrap

My worst week so far, barely keeping my head above water.

  • Cleveland at Buffalo -6 - Clowns 6, Bills 3. Loss. The winning QB was 2-17 for 23 yards and a pick. The Bills are finished, Dick Jauron is finished, and everything that T.O. touches turns to shit.
  • Pittsburgh -10.5 at Detroit - Steelers 28, Lions 20. Loss. That late pick six hurt. Run the damn ball!
  • Dallas -9 at Kansas City - Cowboys 26, Chiefs 20 (OT) Loss. Even the Raiders didn't need OT to beat the Chiefs.
  • Minnesota -10 at St. Louis - Vikings 38, Rams 10 Win.
  • Oakland at New York Giants -15.5 - Giants 44, Raiders 7 Win. Remember when I said that drafting JaMarcus Russell was a huge mistake that the Raiders would regret? And no, Brandon Jacobs still didn't score any points for my fantasy team.
  • Tampa Bay at Philadelphia -15 - Eagles 33, Bucs 14 Win. Thank goodness for technology - stuck on the golf course on Sunday behind a parade of crippled sloths, I was able to watch the NFL Sunday Ticket on my iPhone. That Josh Johnson kid looks pretty damned good for playing in his second game. Nice decision-making under pressure to go along with his athletic ability.
  • Washington +4 at Carolina - Panthers 20, Redskins 17 Win.
  • Cincinnati +9 at Baltimore - bonus play: Over 42.5 - Bengals 17, Ravens 14 Win/Loss. The NFL's 3rd-ranked offense scores 7 points against a fired-up Bengals defense.
  • Atlanta at San Francisco -2.5 - Falcons 45, 49ers 10 Loss. The Niners won by 35 last week, and lost by 35 this week. Good luck figuring this shit out, I certainly can't.
  • Jacksonville at Seattle NL - no line, no pick. Seahawks 41, Jags 0. Jags win by 20 then lose by 41. Makes perfect sense.
  • Houston at Arizona -5.5 - Cards 28, Texans 21. Win. Weird, this game was decided by a turnover in the fourth quarter...who could have possibly seen that coming? (Hint: check my previous post.)
  • New England -3.5 at Denver - Broncos 20, Pats 17. Loss. I guess I need to wake up and start treating these teams like what they are...Denver is undefeated and the Pats are mediocre. Preconceptions have been killing me on these two.
  • Indianoplis -4.5 at Tennessee - Colts 31, Titans 9. Win.
  • NY Jets -1.5 at Miami - Dolphins 31, Jets 27. Loss. What does this game tell us? Are the Fins for real under Chad Henne? Was the Jets defense a mirage?

7-7 this week, 38-23-1 for the season.

A quick thought about NFL disparity...when's the last time there were so many truly terrible teams in the NFL? That old adage about Any Given Sunday is being put the rest this year, as teams like the Bucs, Raiders, Chiefs, Titans, Redskins, Bills, Browns, Lions, Rams, and Panthers are completely incapable of beating anyone but each other. (Note: the Jags and Niners, who lost by 41 and 38 respectively this week, are not even included in this club.) That's 1/3 of the league which has no chance of winning each week.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Week 5 picks

The Eagles and I are back in business this week. Let's hope I fare as well as the Birds after a bye (10-0).

  • Cleveland at Buffalo -6 - I'm really tempted to pick the Browns after the Bills' sorry performance against Miami. But I'm counting on the Bills to show some pride and bounce back at home. If they don't, they're headed toward a 2-14 implosion of a season.
  • Pittsburgh -10.5 at Detroit - The Steelers have burned me twice this season, but I'm sticking with them. I usually love double-digit home dogs, but I can't envision a scenario where the Lions win, and I can't pick an underdog unless they have at least an outside shot of winning.
  • Dallas -9 at Kansas City - I've already heard a couple 'experts' hedging about this game as a possible upset. I'd love to see it, chance. KC can't rush the passer or cover anyone, which means Romo won't be forced into mistakes, which means the Cowgirls win.
  • Minnesota -10 at St. Louis - Couldn't be a better setup for a home dog...getting double-digit points against a team coming off an emotional Monday Night win! Everything screams St. Louis, which means the Vikes cover easily.
  • Oakland at New York Giants -15.5 - JaAwful loses the battle of first-round washouts to David Carr. And maybe, just maybe, Brandon Jacobs scores some points for my fantasy team this week.
  • Tampa Bay at Philadelphia -15 - I still have nightmares about the last time these teams played, when the Eagles were a heavy favorite but lost to a 61-yard FG as time expired. Or maybe it was 91 yards, I can't remember. I know it was really fucking long and never should have gone in, but it did. I wouldn't bet on a repeat, though.
  • Washington +4 at Carolina - Here's an interesting stat: The Redskins haven't played against a team with a win yet (0-0 Giants, 0-1 Rams, 0-2 Lions, 0-3 Bucs, 0-3 Panthers.) Yes, the Redskins suck, but I can't give four points with a winless team.
  • Cincinnati +9 at Baltimore - Sure, the Ravens got screwed by the refs last week, but here's a little secret no one's talking about: their defense just isn't what it used to be. I don't know who wins, but I expect a close, high-scoring affair. So here's a bonus play: Over 42.5
  • Atlanta at San Francisco -2.5 - This should be a fascinating game. The Falcons have a better QB, the 49ers have a better defense. The deciding factor: as good as the Falcons have been over the last two seasons, they haven't won many games on grass.
  • Jacksonville at Seattle NL - no line, no pick. Wouldn't it be great to see the Jags get to 3-2 and be back in the playoff race after being left for dead at 0-2?
  • Houston at Arizona -5.5 - My first thought upon seeing this game: Wow, the O/U should be 50! I was close, it's 50.5. There won't be much defense on either side, but you can count on Houston to have a couple foolish turnovers in a big road game, and that will make the difference.
  • New England -3.5 at Denver - I'm going to keep picking against Denver until I'm right.
  • Indianoplis -4.5 at Tennessee - How often can you take an undefeated team giving only 4.5 points to a winless team? I think the Titans have a chance for a desperate, last-stand, familiar opponent type of game, and apparently the oddsmakers agree. But as Parcells famously said: You are what your record says you are. The numbers speak for themselves: 4-0, 4.5, 0-4.
  • NY Jets -1.5 at Miami - I'm supposed to be impressed that Miami hung 38 on a horrid Buffalo team? Give me a break, Chad Henne vs. Rex Ryan is no contest at all.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Week 4 Notes

I left on Thursday last week to visit lovely Chicago and watch my alma mater stumble past the Fighting Illini. Got back late last night, and was having too much fun over the weekend to bother posting my picks. But here are my thoughts on the Week 4 results:

  • What's up with the NFC East? - The Best Division in Football is a respectable 6-3 against non-division opponents this season. The catch? All six wins came against winless teams (Chiefs, Bucs, Panthers, and Rams) and one of the losses came against a team on a nineteen game losing streak! That puts the NFC East at 6-1 against horrible teams, 0-2 against good teams.
  • Man up and go for it - The Saints went for fourth-and-goal from the one, failed, and two plays later scored on a sack-fumble. The Bengals went for it on fourth-and-11 in OT, instead of punting for the tie, and kicked the winning field goal a minute later. The Chargers punted on fourth-and-two with less than a minute to go in the first half, down 21 points, and went on to lose a close game.
  • Alas, we hardly knew ye - I'm a big believer in coaching continuity, and allowing coaches several years to develop a winning program. But Dick Jauron looks clueless in Buffalo, and he needs to go. You give up 38 points to an 0-3 team starting a new QB in his first NFL game...there's no excuse for that. Eric Mangenius and Jim Zorn will be right behind him, on his way out the head coaching door. Wade Phillips deserves to go too, but he may end up staying by default. What good coach wants to work for Jerry Jones?
  • Weapon X - Kudos to coaches McDanies and Nolan in Denver, who have found a way to keep Brian Dawkins on the field without him getting exposed in coverage. Some pretty good coaches on the Eagles couldn't figure out how to do it, and now he's making big plays for a 4-0 team halfway across the country.
  • Hail to the Redskins - Have you ever seen a worse 2-2 team? This is a completely failed organization, from the owner to the coaches to the players themselves. Where are the bright spots, the developing young stars? If Dan Snyder really wants to win, he needs to hire a Bill Cowher/Mike Shanahan/John Gruden type and get out of the way for ten years. Let the new coach/GM clean house next season, and cut all the awful overpriced free agent signings during the uncapped year, then rebuild slowly through the draft. There's no quick fix for thie team.
  • ILL...INI - Memorial Stadium in Champaign is one of the most cramped and poorly-designed stadiums I've ever seen, and I've been to the Vet. It took me 25 minutes to get to the bathroom and back during halftime. The Romans designed a better sports arena two milennia earlier.
  • Sorry, Pat and Geno - I'm a Philly guy, but I'd trade a cheesesteak (provolone, with) for Giardonno's deep dish sausage pizza anytime. It's not even close. Another weekend food highlight: Crawfish Etoufee from Moe Joe's. Wash it down with a glass of Dead Guy Ale from the tap, and you've achieved the perfect meal.