Friday, December 04, 2009

NFL Pick 5 -- Week 13

One thing is clear over the past few weeks with my NFL picks: I am not doing well when I "force" myself to pick a single game, in this case the weekly Thursday matchups that started a three weeks back. Since that time, I have picked four Thursday matchups (two on Thanksgiving Thursday), and I believe I am 1-3 in those four picks. Even though each week I have felt like I really liked the Thursday night game winner, the bottom line is that the early returns of 1-3 are not good when compared to my season record in all games of 35-20, where I get to pick my own five favorite lines each week to make a play on. So you may or may not see me continue to pick the Thursday night games here, but I plan to continue to pick five games a week throughout the regular season because, well, I'm having an awesome year with the games, and frankly I've made a lot of money in my own personal Bodog account as a result. So, once again starting at an 0-1 deficit heading into the weekend, here are the rest of my Week 13 picks, as usual in no particular order other than their order on the odds sheet I reviewed for the week's schedule:

1. Buffalo Bills +3 vs. New York Jets. Loss. Jets by 6. One of those you're-right-but-you're-still-wrong games, as I knew the Jets would be ineffective as they always are this year. But I can't complain, I've had my share of you're-wrong-but-you're-right games as well this season. It's just the nature of picking the NFL.

2. San Francisco 49ers (pickem) at Seattle Seahawks. My football friends know I am not a big fan of this year's Seahawks, and even their vaunted home field advantage has not worked nearly as well this year as in years past where the team has lost to the Bears and the Cardinals in Seattle already this season. The 49ers have been equally inconsistent to be sure, and most concerningly they have lost five straight road games after opening the season with a win at divisional rival Arizona in Week 1. All this helps explain why we're looking at a pickem game here, one which many might see as two mediocre teams battling it out for nothing. I think, however, that the 49ers and their head coach Mike Singletary still believe they can make a run at the NFC West with a little comeback here over the next couple of weeks. With Arizona (7-4) playing the Vikings this weekend and then at the 49ers next weekend, the Niners know if they can beat Seattle on Sunday to move to 6-6, they can face the Cardinals next week in their home stadium with a chance to move right back into a 7-6 tie for the NFC West, which at that point would really be like being a full game up on Arizona since the Niners would have swept them on the season series. So Singletary should have his boys coming to play, while the Seahawks really do have nothing to play for, no stars on their team to try to showcase themselves, nothing. And looking at the Hawks' schedule this season, who the hell who's any good has this team beat? Seattle has 4 wins on the season, coming against the Rams, the Rams, the Lions and the Jaguars. Yeah the Jags are vying for a wildcard spot in the AFC, but don't kid yourself: Seattle stinks, and they already lost by two touchdowns once to this 49ers squad. I take the 49ers to win straight up.

3. Dallas Cowboys -2 at the New York Giants. Well, picking against New York already worked so well once for me this week, I'm going for it again on Sunday as the Giants continue to reel uncontrollably despite their 5-0 season start. I know allllll about Dallas's historical road swoons in December, and I haven't' made any bones about what I think about Wade Phillips as a head coach in this league. The Cowboys aren't going anywhere good this season in the end, of that I have no doubt. But try as I might, I just cannot get away from how unmitigatingly bad the New York Giants defense has been, because I know the Cowboys can run the ball as well as throw it when they are on. Taking out Washington, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Oakland -- the four worst shitpiler teams the Giants have played this year -- listen to these numbers the Giants have allowed in their seven other games this season, in order: Dallas scored 31 in Week 2, New Orleans scored 48 in Week 6, Arizona scored 24 in Week 7 (in a loss in NY), Philly scored 40 in Week 8, Chargers scored 21 in Week 9 (in a loss in NY), Atlanta scored 31 in Week 11, and Denver scored 26 in Week 12. So that's 31, 48, 24, 40, 21, 31, 26 in seven games against not-horrible teams this entire season -- a 31.5 ppg average -- including 31 by these same Cowboys earlier this year. Dallas is gonna put up a big number on this team again on Sunday afternoon, I have to believe. And after averaging 30.2 points per game themselves over their first five games of 2009, the Giants' offense has faltered along with Eli Manning's foot, hobbling its way to just 18.5 points per game over its last five outings. New York has lost two of its last three at home, and if you look at the likely playoff teams right now on their schedule this entire year, they are 1-5, with only that 2-point win at Dallas wayyy back on September 20 to show for it. I like the 'Boys laying a couple of points.

4. Minnesota Vikings -3 at Arizona Cardinals. Something just tells me we're going to be seeing a Cardinals at 49ers matchup next week for the NFC West lead, and to get there the Cardinals are going to have to lose to the Vikings this weekend. Which really should happen anyway in my view. I know the Cardinals are at home, but paradoxically this team is 5-1 on the road this year but only 2-3 in Arizona, including home losses to the 49ers, the Colts and the Panthers, so I just don't see much of a home field advantage here. And plus, let's be honest. The Vikes are a much better team than the Cardinals, especially with Arizona qb Kurt Warner still troubled by the effects of a concussion suffered two weeks ago at the Rams. It does sound like Warner will start, but it stands to reason that he will probably be off his best game with lingering headaches still a factor and with having only taken half the reps this week and even less last week. And nothing has changed with the Vikes' league-best runningback and soon-to-be NFL MVP at quarterback in Brett Favre, who remember has a decent 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions over his last four games. The Vikings have won four of their five road games this year by 12 points or more (admittedly three of which were against the Browns, Lions and Rams), but for once we aren't looking at a 13.5 point line here for the Vikes. I see this is a chance to get in on one of the hottest teams in the NFL, with several of the best players in the league between Favre, AP and Jerod Allen on defense, for just a 3 point spread against a team whose quarterback is iffy and who hasn't played well at home anyways this season.

5. Washington Redskins +10 vs. New Orleans Saints. Obviously the Saints are awesome, and obviously the Skins stizzink out loud. But, this game just has letdown written all over it to me. The Saints got all hopped up to play the New England Cheatriots on national tv last weekend, where they crushed in front of the whole nation to see, and they know the travel to divisional rival Atlanta next weekend who always seems to play the Saints tough. Buried in the middle here is a quick pitstop in Washington to play the 3-8 Redskins on the road, where a little known fact is that the Skins have somehow compiled an over-.500 record so far in 2009 at 3-2 in their home games. Granted, two of the Skins' three home wins came early in the year against the Rams and the Buccaneers, but just a short while ago in Week 10 the Redskins surprised basically everyone and beat the then 6-2 Denver Broncos at home as well. In fact, in all five home games this season the Skins have won three, lost by 8 to Kansas City and lost by 10 to the Eagles, so clearly the Skins have it in them to put up a good effort in front of their home town fans. I'm not necessarily saying the Redskins are going to up and beat the Saints outright this weekend, but I see definite value in this pick amidst a likely let-down for the Saints and getting a touchdown plus a field goal to boot.

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