Thursday, October 24, 2013

NFL Week 8 Primer - How To Pick Games Without Watching Them

Only Peyton Manning has thrown more TD passes than Dallas scapegoat Tony Romo this year.

 By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Joe's wedding this past weekend threw a large (but quite lovely) monkey wrench into football viewing this week. I drove south from Mt. Washington and arrived home just in time to see my beloved Patriots lose in embarrassing fashion. I was too thoroughly exhausted to watch any late afternoon games (although I hear Joe's Steelers came up with a win), and I barely managed to sit on the couch with a glazed look on my face as Indianapolis upset Denver.

For this reason, we didn't have our usual "Good, Bad, and Ugly" recap on Tuesday morning - it's hard for us to talk about things that happened over the weekend if we didn't see any of those things happen. So this week's picks will be interesting. How will we handicap games when we basically have no idea about how these teams performed in their last game? We'll just make it up and hope we're on the right track. Ironically, this is basically what we do even when we HAVE watched football all weekend. Let's see if it makes any difference.

Game(s) of The Week:

Dallas @ Detroit (1 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

It's the only early game where both teams have winning records. This seems to be a theme this season, probably due to only 14 of 32 teams (43.8%) being over .500 through seven weeks. Detroit and Dallas should be an interesting game regardless, though - Dallas has beat up on the NFC East (which makes you think they might not be very good), but two of their three losses are to Denver and Kansas City, and both were close (which makes you think they might be good after all). Detroit is a good litmus test for them.

Jaguars North @ Philadelphia (1 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

Just because they won on Monday Night doesn't mean they get rid of the Jaguars North moniker. They won at home, against a team starting a quarterback they've had on the roster for less than two weeks, and one who was cut by a team that is currently 0-6 and doesn't seem to care that he's gone. I'm not impressed. This gets Game of The Week status based on NFC East Rivalry (for some reason those just seem to matter more than, say, the AFC South) and Chip Kelly. Because Chip Kelly is awesome.

Washington @ Denver (4:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

A shootout, I guess? I know I'm forcing it but this week's slate is BRUTAL. You'll see. 

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams in CAPS):

Carolina (-6) over TAMPA BAY

JC: Who doesn't want to see Tampa Bay play with two and a half days of preparation? Where do I line up? This is the type of game that makes me very glad that NBA on TNT will be back next Thursday.

JP: The "Fire Schiano" billboard is already up in Tampa.

San Francisco (-17) over JACKSONVILLE

JC: Jacksonville pulled out a miracle cover against Denver because Denver's defense is horrendous and they used every trick play they could think of. San Francisco has a lockdown defense and Jacksonville's reserve of trick plays is empty. If San Francisco scores 20 points they cover this spread easily.

JP: Yeah, I just don't see how Jacksonville moves the ball here. But man, these gigantic spreads make me a little nervous...

PHILADELPHIA (-5.5) over Jaguars North

JC: I'm going to want to see them come up with a more impressive win than a Josh Freeman-led Minnesota team at home before I change my tune. If Vick is back (and it looks like he is), the Eagles should roll.

JP: The Giants still aren't any good, and Philly can put up points on anybody.

Buffalo (+12) over NEW ORLEANS

JC: I believe in Thad Lewis.

JP: I don't, but I still think this line is too high considering the Bills are 4th in the league with 15 takeaways. The Saints should still win, but I wouldn't be surprised if the opportunistic Bills defense makes this a game.

Pittsburgh (-3) over OAKLAND

JC: The Steelers have a run game! They can run the ball! And their defense can stop the run! They look like a real football team!

JP: Here are some scary numbers if you're a Steelers fan: The Raiders are 3-2 (4-1 ATS) vs Ben Roethlisberger, winning three of the last four against Pittsburgh. Also, the Steelers haven't won at Oakland since 1995... Yeah, I'm still taking Pittsburgh.

Washington (+13) over DENVER

JC: So, in the last three weeks, Denver has given up 48 points to Dallas, 19 points to Jacksonville (the equivalent of 40 against a normal team), and 39 points to Indianapolis. They've lost all three games against the spread. Last week, Washington scored 45 points and nearly gained 500 yards on offense. And Denver is STILL giving two touchdowns?

JP: I think we're learning that spreads this high for teams with poor defenses are foolhardy. Plus, as you illustrated above, the Redskins are really coming on offensively.

Green Bay (-9.5) over MINNESOTA

JC: Josh Freeman is apparently suffering "concussion-like symptoms," making him questionable for Sunday's game. Replacing him with Christian Ponder isn't exactly a huge upgrade. With Aaron Rodgers playing indoors (115.9 QB Rating, 43/7 TD/INT ratio) this line could be a touchdown higher and I'd still take the Packers.

JP: Ok, I hate big spreads, but it's hard to see the Vikings slowing down Rodgers and putting up points with their disastrous QB situation.

Seattle (-11.5) over ST. LOUIS

JC: The Rams just signed Brady Quinn.

JP: Ugh.

Here Are The Picks We Don't (Home Teams Still in CAPS): 

JC: DETROIT (-3) over Dallas

I'm currently buying the "beating up on the NFC East isn't impressive" narrative slightly more than the "losing by four total points to Kansas City and Denver is impressive" one. Dallas' defense showed up last week and knocked around Nick Foles, but I don't think they'll be able to do the same thing against Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson.

JP: Dallas (+3) over DETROIT 


JC: Cleveland (+7.5) over KANSAS CITY

Optimism abounds now that Brandon Weeden has been benched in favor of Jason Campbell. Jason Campbell isn't good - in fact, he's probably still the worst starting QB in the league (it's either him, Chad Henne, or whoever St. Louis throws out there Monday night), but he's an upgrade over Weeden and he won't commit egregious turnovers. If Cleveland's defense can cause a few sputters and stalls from the Kansas City offense (which has a tendency to sputter and stall on its own already), this should be a close game.

JP: KANSAS CITY (-7.5) over Cleveland

Arrowhead is a tough place to play when the Chiefs are good, especially when you don't have a QB. I'm getting less enthused by the Browns each day and buying into the Chiefs more with each game.

JC: New York Jets (+6.5) over CINCINNATI

I believe in Geno Smith. I also believe in the Jets' front seven against a fairly predictable Cincinnati offense.

JP: CINCINNATI (-6.5) over New York Jets 

Weren't you the guy that posted that "Geno Smith is the definition of up and down" graphic a few weeks back? Well, he was up last week, so I'll bet against him this week.

JC: ARIZONA (-2.5) over Atlanta

The Falcons rushed 18 times for 18 yards and got a miracle game out of Harry Douglas (not likely to happen again), and still only beat Tampa Bay(!) by eight(!!) at home(!!!). They're begging us to take Atlanta here, and I'm not biting.

JP: Atlanta (+2.5) over ARIZONA

I'll bite... I just can't bet on Arizona and give points. I JUST CAN'T!!! 

JC: Miami (+7) over NEW ENGLAND

I think the last three weeks have shown pretty conclusively that the Patriots shouldn't be favored by a touchdown over anyone except Jacksonville. Miami might not be able to block, but it shouldn't matter when the Patriots don't have a defensive front to speak of. Through seven games, the Patriots have an SRS (Simple Rating System: Scoring Margin adjusted for Strength of Schedule) of +1.0. The Dolphins have a score of +0.3 through six games. So if the teams are basically even, why are the Dolphins getting a touchdown?

JP: NEW ENGLAND (-7) over Miami

The Dolphins have come back down to Earth in recent weeks, while the Patriots are coming off an infuriating loss and are at home. My gut says Brady and the boys bounce back the same way they did after the Cincinnati game and light up the Phins.

Three Team Tease(s) of The Week:

JC: New Orleans (to -2), Green Bay (to +0.5), Seattle (to -1.5)
JP: At some point I will learn what it is you're teasing me about.

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 9-6
Season: 48-54-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 2-1
Season's Disagreements: 16-13-1
Teases: 4-3

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 8-7
Season: 45-57-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 1-2
Season's Disagreements: 13-16-1
Teases: 0-7

No comments :