Friday, October 02, 2009

NFL Pick 5 -- Week 4

Week 3 went a little better than Week 2 for my picks, as I went 3-2 against the spread and raised my season record so far to a flat 5-5. So if I'd bet every single one of my picks so far through two weeks of the NFL season, I would have lost a grand total of a half of one bet, all due to the casino keeping the 10% vig on each bet. If I'd bet $110 to win $100 on each of my ten NFL picks so far in 2009, I would have lost $110 5 times for a total of $550 lost, and I would have won $100 five times for a total of $500 won. That $50 is the casino's vig, and it counts, so even a 5-5 record has me down a half a bet so far through two weeks of picking five games each week.

This weekend's NFL slate is full of very tough games to pick against the spread. The problem is that, out of 14 total games to pick from, 9 of them feature spreads of at least 6 points or more. While this makes for a fairly easy time picking winners straight-up, the large spreads often make it very difficult to determine the side of the line with more value. Basically, even when I feel fairly strongly that one team will win its game against an opponent I know to be inferior, that doesn't necessarily say much about that team's ability to win its game by double digits per se. Hence the difficulty. Anyways, I've never been one to shy away from picking the tough games, so here come my five picks for this week, as always in no particular order:

1. New York Giants -9 at the Kansas City Chiefs. I don't know how Todd Haley will end up faring as the new head coach out in KC, but for now if there's one thing I've learned from the first three games of the 2009 NFL season, it is that the Chiefs absolutely, ragingly, stink. Matt Cassell and his various backups haven't made anything happen at quarterback, Larry Johnson has completely disappeared in the backfield, and the team's defense is among the worst in the league. Conversely, the Giants are more or less clicking on all cylinders, with the running game finally catching up with Eli Manning's early success running the pass offense, and the Giants' defense is among the best the NFL has to offer. Even though the Giants are a big favorite on the road, in a very tough stadium to play in, I would be surprised if they did not win by at least 10 points on Sunday.

2. Miami Dolphins + 2 at home against the Buffalo Bills. Yes, the Dolphins have just lost their starting quarterback for the year in Chad Pennington, and yes I've lost picking the Dolphins twice already in this young season. But why not make it thrice? Here the Dolphins are at home, and they're playing against what I think is one of the league's worst teams in Buffalo. TO has completely disappeared from the Bills' offense, and he spent some time during last weekend's loss yelping and yowling at his quarterback on the sidelines already, and other than in Week 1 against the Pats, the Bills haven't exactly moved the ball well this year. Meanwhile, I still think Miami is a better team than their 0-3 record would indicate, they have one of the best front offices and management structures in the league, and here they are as desperate for a win as you could be, playing a bad team at home, and they're getting 2 points to boot. Smells like value to me.

3. New Orleans Saints -7 at home vs. the New York Jets. This is a battle between two teams who I had both picked wrong prior to the season starting, but both of which I knew I had underrated after just one game into the 2009 NFL season. The Jets have been great in three games this year, including big wins against the Titans and the Cheatriots early in the season, with a particular focus on their team defense. The Saints, meanwhile, have looked perhaps even better than the Jets in also going 3-0 so far, but the Saints' strength has always been their offense under league-best quarterback Drew Brees. As much as I don't love giving 7 points in this game, I just can't help but think that Drew Brees is going to do what he does best this weekend at home, consistently beating what is sure to be a constant blitz from the Jets and racking up a lot of yards and points as a result. And while I don't expect the Jets to play terribly on offense, one of these weeks is sure to see Jets' rookie qb sensation Mark Sanchez take a step back or at least not be able to keep up with his opponents. I think this is likely to be just such a week for the Jets as they pick up their first loss of the 2009 season.

4. Denver Broncos +3 vs. the Dallas Cowboys. This is another one like the Miami game I picked above, with a decent team playing at home and getting points against a potentially suspect team on the other side. In this case we're talking about the 3-0 undefeated Broncos, playing in their own stadium which is always a solid home field advantage, and they're playing the Cowboys who in my view have not looked particularly good over their last couple of games despite picking up a win last week on Monday night. Tony Romo has looked shaky at best for the most part this year so far, and the Cowboys' #1 runningback Marion Barber is expected to play a limited role coming back from his quad injury, and the team's #2 back is also out this week as well. Just like with the Miami game above, I think there is a good chance that the Broncos win their fourth game in a row outright this weekend against the Cowboys, but this one looks like solid value to me to be getting a field goal as well for insurance.

5. For the third straight week, I'm going to pick the Monday night game so I have something extra to look forward to while watching that game next week. In this case, I like the Minnesota Vikings -3.5 at home vs the Green Bay Packers. This game is almost Brett Favre's superbowl, although I bet he wants to smush the Packers in Green Bay even more than he wants to step on them in Minnesota, and so I expect him to come out fired up and ready to play, especially after last weekend's last-second heroics. I think these two teams are fairly even matched overall, but Minnesota is probably a bit more balanced with a solid defense to go along with a solid run-led offense. Even though I would prefer to be giving less than 3 points with this pick, I do think the Vikes will win the matchup in Minnesota this weekend and I think it likely will be by more than a field goal.

Best of luck to anyone plunking down some cash on the games this weekend.

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13 Comments:

Blogger BLAARGH! said...

Even though I hate football (ok, I used to love sitting around eating peanuts, drinking beer and yelling at the tv with my dad on holidays, but never had a great love for the actual game), I like reading your picks + recaps. Pretty fun to see how you fare week to week.

Having said that, I wish you'd get back to some poker content. I'm sure you have to be playing, at least a little. Did you blow through that 50k score ALREADY? Of course, I'm one to talk... haven't posted myself in a while, and at least you're still writing...
Happy weekend Hoy.

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