Friday, December 18, 2009

NFL Pick 5 -- Week 15

What a week. I am still recovering from Wednesday night's big Mini FTOPS tournament where I managed to nab a cool 27 Large for my efforts, both emotionally and physically. I ended up having to stay home from work on Thursday, and I've experienced the same general burnout feelings that I've had after most of my other deep tournament runs, in particular ones where I've played the game for going on 12 hours straight or more. I am hoping to get a solid recap post up of my big score in the Mini FTOPS, but that is going to take some time and there's just no way I will possibly be able to do it in the detail I normally make my recap posts in, just due to the size of the tournament and the incredibly deep stacks which made for about a billion hands to play before getting down to the end. Hopefully on Monday I'll get that post up if at all possible as I really get a lot out of the process of reviewing my hands and screenshots, both in my successes as well as my failures.

For now, you'll have to be satisfied with my NFL Pick 5 for Week 15, as always in no particular order:

1. Kansas City Chiefs -1 vs Cleveland Browns. This one is pretty simple. Sure KC is not a great team this year, but they are decent and should be able to win at home against one of the NFL's absolute worst without too much trouble. 1 point should be doable for the Chiefs in this game, where I look for Matt Cassell to break out of his recent funk. The Browns got it way way up for their nationally televised game against their hated rivals in the Steelers who they could effectively eliminate from the playoff race with a win. This week Cleveland doesn't have a big reason to play for, and with word that the team is currently interviewing candidates to take over the team's operations, lame-duck coach Eric Mangini will probably be even that much more ineffective in this Sunday's game in Kansas City.

2. Buffalo Bills + 7.5 vs New England Patriots. This one is also pretty straightforward. The Cheatriots, mired in their worst season since their incredible cheating-fueled run began around the beginning of this decade, have yet to win a real road game in five tries in the 2009 season. Buffalo is bad, but they're a cut above the shitpiler teams in the NFL this year and have shown some spark on occasion on offense, and the Cheatriots are in a bit of a funk themselves. Many people have speculated that Randy Moss is going to come back with a passion this week after being called out for obviously not trying in last week's game against the Panthers, but in reality IMO Moss is a head case and I don't think he can just turn it off and on like that. And I especially like this line because it's more than a touchdown, which I think is favorable against a team like the Pats whose defense has let them down repeatedly here in the 2009 season.

3. Denver Broncos -14 vs. Oakland Raiders. I can't stand laying 14 points with just about anybody, but I really think this shapes up to be a great matchup for the Broncos. Although it's not quite as good as if JaMarcus Russell was going at quarterback for Oakland, Bruce Gradkowski's injury means that they will be starting Charlie Frye who hasn't thrown a pass in the regular season in over a year. The matchup of Denver's corners and generally strong defense against a rusty, inexperienced qb like Frye playing with poor receivers and very little running game I think spells very bad things for the Raiders. Oakland has only scored more than 16 points one time without Gradkowski at the helm this season, and against the shitpiler teams in 2009, the Broncos are 3-0, with wins by 21 points (vs. Cleveland), 20 points (@ the Raiders) and 31 points (at Kansas City). It's a risk but I'll take Denver and lay the points at home against a horrible team starting a totally inexperienced guy at qb.

4. San Francisco 49ers +8 at Philadelphia Eagles. Obviously this one goes against my personal fandom, but I try to be nothing if not objective about these games. I expect Philadelphia to win what is proving to be a crucial game almost every week as the rest of the NFC East continues to stay within striking distance of the Eagles even with just three games left to play in the season, but 8 points is just too much for me to ignore. This pick comes down really to reviewing the 49ers schedule more than anything else, and in particular how they tend to play on the road against good teams: At Arizona in Week 1 (Won by 4). At Minnesota in Week 3 (Lost by 3). At Houston in Week 7 (Lost by 3). At Indy in Week 8 (Lost by 4). At Green Bay in Week 11 (Lost by 6). Basically, when the Niners go on the road this year, they tend to play reasonably well, at least enough to keep it close if they aren't able to pull out the victory as has been the case so often on the road this year. And if they haven't lost by 8 points at the Vikings, at the Colts, at the Cardinals, etc. this year, then I'm not picking them to lose by that much at the Eagles either.

5. New Orleans Saints -7 vs. Dallas Cowboys. I'm doing the same kind of thing here that I did with the San Francisco pick above. In six home games this year (all wins, obviously), the Saints' smallest margin of victory has been 8 points, against the Falcons who always play them tough in the division no matter how good the respective teams are. The next smallest victory was already double digits, 10 points to the Panthers, another divisional rival. In the other four non-divisional home games in New Orleans this season, they played some pretty decent teams, some with formidable offenses and others with solid defenses, and beat them all pretty badly, including by 14 points over the #1 defense-having Jets early in the season, by 21 over the crosstown Giants in the middle of the year, and most recently also by 21 points over the Patriots just a couple of weeks ago. These guys get it up for home games, especially the nationally televised ones, and in this case the Cowboys are pretty much worse than those other teams I just mentioned, and they're playing the Saints at a bad time of year for them when they are near the low point of their season and battling history to boot. Oh, and Dallas's coach blows goats. I like the Saints by more than a touchdown here.

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