Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rambling Gambler: Pick Six Week ELEVEN

Ramblings and Gambling

By Erik Laurinovics, for The Football ERA
Another week, and another two for six with the picks. That's three in a row now, I believe! At this point, it seems like it'd be a lock for anyone reading these picks to do the opposite and feel confident about going 4/6. The non-call on Roddy White (grabbing someone by the head and throwing them to the ground is a legal move now?) and the hail mary in the Jags-Texans game only reinforces the belief that there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop the slide at this point; my season is likely doomed to be a losing one of epic proportions. If nothing else, it's becoming humorous at this point and provides a good story or two at the office every week. Nonetheless, I still feel confident that I'll get some good weeks in here before the year is done, and hopefully having a full 16 games again will give me a better chance of finding some winners.
The week 10 results are in, and we got hosed.
Baltimore +1 over ATLANTA: Offensive PI on White puts the Falcons at the 43 yard line with 20 seconds to go. Maybe they win, maybe they don't, but that wasn't a good way for this pick to go down.
Houston +1 over JACKSONVILLE: "Play of the year." From game-winning field goal drive to a one-in-a-million type of loss. I'm still not convinced the Jags are any good.
PITTSBURGH -4.5 over New England: I spend the entire off-season and first few weeks of the season telling everyone that the Steelers injured o-line will be there downfall. I was forced to eat my words and hop on the Steelers bandwagon. So, naturally, the injured offensive line blows it. Many are starting to write them off after this loss, but they may have just been beaten by a good football team. I'm not jumping ship yet.
Kansas City +1 over Denver: What is with Denver being involved in these AFC West beat downs? This one completely blindsided me.
Cincinnati +7.5 over INDIANAPOLIS: As expected, the Bengals make enough mistakes to lose but have enough talent to keep it close. Just like in the Pittsburgh game, they were in position at the end to drive for a win, despite all of their mistakes. There's a good football team in there, somewhere.
Philadelphia -3.5 over WASHINGTON: Wow. Guess I was right about Vick helping that offense. Historic performance, and the easiest cover of the year, for me.
2010 Overall Record: 18-40-2
Week 11 Picks:
DALLAS -6.5 over Detroit
Given the underachieving-nature of the Cowboys this season, this is a risky pick. It's really a matter of faith, actually... Do you believe Jason Garrett makes a difference? After what I saw last week, I do. The streak of five consecutive losses was not only ended- the Cowboys throttled the Giants. The defense may have taken their foot off the gas near the end of the game, but the Cowboys were in control throughout. Experts, fans, and everyone else agree that the talent is not the issue on the Cowboys, which is why they were a trendy preseason Superbowl pick. I believe that we finally saw that talent come together put to good use last week, and that's the team we all envisioned before week one. Despite the poor record, Dallas actually has the 4th ranked passing offense and should have no trouble throwing the ball against Detroit's average secondary (17th). Both defenses have fared poorly so far this year, but again, it's hard not to like what Dallas did last week. The defense may have allowed a late rally and given up yardage, but they forced three turnovers and held one of the league's top rushing attacked to 3.8 YPC. I'm willing to bet on the chance that the Cowboys keep it together and put up another good game this week.
NEW ORLEANS -12 over Seattle
Two weeks ago, I picked the Giants, on the road, to cover a 7 point spread over Seattle. I made a point that I want to bring up again this week. The Giants were the best team Seattle has faced all year, by far. Seattle has wins against mediocre teams (NFC West). So what happened next? The Giants pounded the Seahawks 41-7. The following week, the Seahawks got to pound the Cardinals, which shouldn't really be a surprise at this point. So what do I think is going to happen when they go on the road and face the Saints? Probably something similar to what the Giants did. I don't think I'll ever stop saying the Seahawks are a bad team this year. They may win the NFC West, but again, that doesn't say much. They have not put together a good game against a quality opponent all year, and they still have a horrible track record on the road. Ranked 30th offensively and 27th defensively, the Saints won't have much trouble on either side of the ball... They rank 7th and 7th and 3rd, respectively. It's an awful mismatch on paper, an awful mismatch with any betting statistics I can come up with, AND the Saints are coming off a bye. Until Seattle shows up against a good team, I'm picking against them any time they face one.
Green Bay -3 over MINNESOTA
This one has two teams going two different directions right now. Green Bay had two solid wins against the Jets and Cowboys, and now comes off their bye week to face Minnesota. The Vikings have been slowly circling the drain it would seem, with nothing but doom and gloom being reported from the locker room. Losing Randy Moss will hurt the offense and allow teams to pay a bit more attention to AP, who coincidentally had his least productive game of the year last week. Where there's smoke, there's fire, and I don't see things improving much in Minnesota. Brett Favre is already promising to retire, so it can't be good. 
Statistically speaking, the teams are evenly matched, with the Pack being slightly better on offense and the Vikings being a bit better on defense. Their first matchup this season was actually only 4 weeks ago, so we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Green Bay took care of the Vikings (with Randy Moss) at home, and they should be able to handle the Vikings (without Randy Moss) on the road. I expect this to be a low scoring game and definitely see a push as a realistic possibility, but I don't think the Minnesota can win this one. The under (44) looks appealing as well.
Atlanta -3 over ST. LOUIS
Last week was enough to convince me that Atlanta is actually one of the better teams in the league. They got away with that offensive PI, but they did a very good job getting out to an early lead against Baltimore. Matt Ryan and Roddy White look more unstoppable every week. Standing at 7-2 and having added the Ravens as a quality win, they are now one of the names mentioned when someone says, "Best in the NFC...".
The Rams have put together a very respectable season so far, and have played particularly well at home. Nonetheless, they have a flaw shared by all teams in the NFC West- an easy schedule. The Rams have not beaten a team with a winning record, even though San Diego was a nice upset. Atlanta is easily the toughest opponent they have faced, and St. Louis is coming off a week 10 loss where they allowed the Troy Smith led 49ers to throw for over 350 yards. This year is a huge improvement for the Rams, but they're not quite ready for the top of the class yet. Their 18th ranked passing defense should give the Falcons plenty of opportunities to get the ball down field and open up the run game. I don't see the Falcons losing, so I'm not going to worry about a field goal spread.
Cleveland +1.5 over JACKSONVILLE
It's hard not to like, and respect, what the Browns have accomplished these past few weeks. They shocked the world with an upset of the Saints, kept it rolling when they demolished the Patriots, and very nearly knocked off the Jets last week. I figured they were due for a long season when Colt McCoy stepped in, but since the Pittsburgh loss, the Browns have played good solid football. That can't be discounted, despite the their record or season statistics. The Jaguars won on a miracle play last week, but the Browns defense will provide a tougher challenge for the offense this week. In their past three games, the Brown have only allowed 19 points a game; not bad considering the three teams they've faced. In those same three games, they've average 154 yards rushing. Cleveland is also a good 2-1-1 ATS on the road this year. That, combined with the emergence of Peyton Hillis and a great run game, is enough for me to take them this week.
PHILADELPHIA -3 over New York Giants
Well I'm sure as hell not going to bet against Michael Vick... are you? I'll get to some more logic soon, but in all seriousness, I don't see how you bet against what we just saw last week. Sure, maybe it was a fluke, maybe it was the bad Redskins D or lack of a pass rush... but what if it wasn't? What if Vick is really ready to be that good? He was unstoppable last week and we're in store for another prime-time NFC East matchup this week. This will be a true test to see how repeatable that level of play is for Vick. His performance last week alone is enough for me to let it ride and try the Eagles again for another week.
Enough gushing though, and we'll look at some numbers. Offensively, these are two of the top teams in the league, as the Giants rank 2nd and the Eagles 3rd. Defensively, the Giants have an edge, as they currently allow the fewest yards per game in the league, while the Eagles are 11th overall. While only 2-2 at home, the stats are misleading, as both home losses were games in which Kevin Kolb took the majority of the snaps at QB. Vick is 4-0 straight up and 3-1 ATS when he's been the starting (and ending) QB for Philly. I see no need to bet against that trend here.

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