Tuesday, October 14, 2014

No One Wants a Tie

Well, week 6 was as baffling as the five that preceded it. The Giants reverted back to their true selves after three impressive performances, though an extremely aggressive defense had something to do with that. A Cleveland defense that had a hard time stopping Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst shut down a Pittsburgh offense that was previously somewhat dynamic. Of course, the biggest eye-opener was Dallas. I mocked their defense at the start of the year and have been proven wrong, plus it looks as though they have quit wilting under pressure. After Romo went down in the first quarter and looked iffy to return, I remarked that they would lose by 50 after Seattle blocked that punt for a TD to go up 10-0. Good thing that I was full of beers and wings at that point as a huge heaping of crow was delivered to me before I left the pub.

A few other things that stood out to me on Sunday:
  • Wang Dang No Poontang for Mike Nugent. NO kicker is perfect, just look at Detroit’s three kickers this season, but to miss like that after the offense executed a beautiful two-minute drive was devastating. Oh yeah…and it left the game at a tie which killed many Teaser bets and knocked out many Survivor Teams (ties always lose in Survivor Pools, no matter if you pick winners or losers). Loads of people were unhappy. I am sure that his teammates kept it to themselves, except for that idiot Adam Jones. Yep, the same Adam Jones that plays on defense and had multiple opportunities to stop Carolina and preserve the win long before Nugent’s big miss. I think the defense is more accountable. Back-to-back very poor performances where they rarely had their opponent punting is a bigger cause for concern than a missed field goal.
  • After the Chargers erased a 50+ yard field goal by Nick Novak due to a holding penalty, they were faced with a 4th and 35….and tried a fake punt…..that wasn’t even close. Who is running that asylum? Hell, they should have just tried another field goal if they didn’t feel like advancing the ball.
  • Speaking of field goals, Tennessee’s Prevent defense almost prevented a win as the Jaguars woke up with a late TD, onside kick and could have won the game on a field goal if it was elevated a weee bit more.
  • It was kind of cool to look up at the Arizona game and see Michael Floyd score (happiness is a return of Carson Palmer for Cardinals receivers) and a short time later to  look up at San Diego scoring with a TD pass to his brother-from-another-mother, Malcom. By the way, he is still looking for that lost “L”.
  • No one does more with less than Atlanta’s RB Antone Smith. He ripped off another long TD; 41 yards against the Bears. HOW the Falcons are not using him more baffles me more than Eli with a good game.
  • The Jets had 31 yards rushing on Sunday…with a lot of it coming towards the end of the game. They were actually in single digits early in the fourth quarter.
  • Joe Flacco had FIVE TD passes in slightly over 16 minutes on Sunday. So much for Tampa having any hope this season. Their defense is BAAAAAD and it does not reflect well on defensive-minded Lovie Smith.
  • Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the Giants. Worst. Performance. Ever. To add injury on top of insult, the Giants had a TD to Larry Donnell taken off the board thanks to a holding penalty a few plays before the ill-fated pass to Victor Cruz. If they weren’t stinking the joint up so much, they would have settled for a FG instead of going for it on 4th down. Sad to see a good guy like Victor lose his season to an injury that he may never fully recover from thanks to bad New York karma.
  • Shutouts are rare in this offense-centric, defense-absent NFL but somehow a New York team has posted one in back-to-back weeks.
  • I love me some Ickey Shuffle…and so does Jeremy Hill. He paid tribute after his TD on Sunday. I still crack up every time I see that Geico commercial. Gonna get some cold cuts today!

Unfortunately, one constant about the NFL is the number of injuries that occur every week. I already mentioned Victor Cruz, but the list is long once again, especially if you include defensive players. So, owners are again scouring the waiver wire for Bye week and injury replacements. This week, we have the following:

QB: Derek Carr (OAK) - the kid looks polished and poised. I would only take a rookie QB if desperate or the matchup is right as they can disappoint as easy as they can impress. He did play well at home against a good Chargers’ defense and gets another home game this week versus Arizona.

RB: James White (NE) - this is a longer-term speculative pick up. With Steven Ridley out, Shane Vereen will get more time as will RB Brandon Bolden on a short week. However, White had a great camp and I believe that the Patriots see him as their future number 1 so this will be the trigger to start working him towards that this season.

RB: James Stewart (CAR) - he sits on almost every waiver wire and looks to be finally ready to start playing. The Panthers tried about six different backs while he and DeAngelo Williams have been hurt and none impressed. Starting RBs are tough to come by right now so it is worth a roster spot for Stewart if you need a RB.

WR: Odell Beckham Jr (NYG) – he is definitely a must-add now that Cruz is out.

WR: Andre Holmes (OAK) - he is Derek Carr’s go-to receiver and has almost 200 yards and three TDs in the past two weeks. His emergence is also helping out WR James Jones.

TE: Benjamin Watson (NO) – with Jimmy Graham out for a game or two, Watson makes the most sense as his replacement. He performed well in his time in Cleveland and is more of an offensive threat than TE Josh Hill. That being said, Hill is worthy of a pick up as well as he has found the end zone twice already this season while Jimmy Graham was playing.

TE: Jace Amaro (NYJ) – the Jets won’t completely abandon the run game every week so don’t expect 10 catches for Amaro every week, but he is now part of the weekly gameplan. Of course, he needs to lessen his Drops if he can truly be counted on, but he did show last week that he can handle the workload if called upon.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Free NFL Week 6 Picks

How easy was that Cleveland moneyline winner last week?! At halftime of the first games, I thought that there was no way that I would lose the Bears game and definitely no way I would win the Browns game. How wrong I was, but that is today's NFL....unpredictable. Somehow, we have avoided the upset in our Survivor pools, but each week gets a bit tougher in standard, non-reuse pools. Below is our slate for this week.

Sunday

Denver (-9) at New York Jets - It looks as if the Jets are finally benching Geno Smith and giving Michael Vick a chance. I don't see it making a difference. After the Broncos were trounced by Seattle in Metlife Stadium in the Super Bowl, they want to leave with happy memories of this game and will do so with ease. It is a big number, but the Jets don't have the defense to slow down the Broncos onslaught and don't have the offense to score with Denver. Play Denver in the first half at -6 for 7 units and in the game at -9 for 10 units.

Atlanta vs. Chicago O53.5 - this is a big total but these two teams have the offense and lack of defense to easily surpass it. The Georgia Dome will yield at least 4 TDs to each squad on Sunday and fantasy owners of either QB or WRs will have their stats stuffed by this game. I believe Atlanta will win this game and cover the 3.5, but I am sticking with the Total. Play the first half O27 for 7 units and the O53.5 for 8 units.

Minnesota (ML) vs. Detroit - The Lions are a bit banged up with Megatron possibly out and Reggie Bush missing practice. Minnesota and Teddy Bridgewater have had 10 days to rest and put the debacle at Green Bay behind them. They are returning home and catching the Lions at the right time. I expect a performance closer to the Atlanta game than the Green Bay game this weekend and for the Vikings to jumble the NFC North a bit more with a win. Play Minnesota to win straight-up for 6 units at +110.

San Diego (-7) at Oakland - I am not making the same mistake twice. I thought the line last week was way off versus the Jets and I stayed away since I thought I was missing something. I expected that line to be 10 points. Man, I walked away from loads of easy money. Oakland is terrible and a coaching change won't help them. I have seen the Chargers struggle on the road at Oakland before, but that won't happen on Sunday. Play San Diego for 8 units and happily give the TD.

6-point Teaser Of The Week (3-to-1 odds) for 2 units
  • Cincy -1
  • Minny +7.5
  • Denver -3
  • Tampa +9

Survivor Pick: Cincinnati

Season record
  • Sides   3-4  (-9.2 units)
  • Overs    3-5 (-10.8 units)
  • Parlay   0-3  (-6.0 units)
  • Teaser   1-3 (+0.0 units)
  • Moneyline 3-2  (+13.5 units)

Free NCAA Football Picks - Week 7

Saturday
Mich St -20.5 at Purdue Game 10 units
LSU -1 at Florida 1H 8 units
LSU -1.5 at Florida Game 8 units
Cal vs. Washington O70 Game 7 units
Clemson -6 vs. Louisville 1H 8 units
Clemson -9.5 vs. Louisville Game 8 units
Notre Dame -16.5 vs. North Carolina Game 6 units
Central Michigan +6 at Northern Illinois 1H 6 units
Central Michigan +10 at Northern Illinois Game 6 units
Florida Int'l +6 at UT San Antonio 1H 6 units
Florida Int'l +10 at UT San Antonio Game 6 units
East Carolina -15.5 at South Florida Game 6 units
Penn St +0 at Michigan Game 6 units


2014 Regular Season record:
ATS: 3-3 +3.5 units
Totals: 13-13 -2.9 units
Moneyline: 0-2 -5.0 units
Parlay: 0-0  +0.0 units

And Then There Were None

Week 5 in the NFL returned the only consistent teams in the NFL; Denver and Seattle, who delivered as expected. Other than that, the unexpected expectedly showed up. The Patriots completely reversed directions and dominated the last unbeaten NFL team in Cincinnati. The game was a rout and the Bengals made no effort to close the gap. After watching Carolina, St. Louis, Buffalo and especially Cleveland close or erase big deficits, one expected Cincy to make some sort of dent in the Patriots’ lead but that didn’t happen. The Broncos and Seahawks really are the only Elite teams in the NFL and Seattle will need to temper their propensity for poorly-timed penalties to be able to continue to succeed. Poor Percy Harvin. He scored a season’s worth of TDs on MNF that were all called back thanks to a penalty. I am almost ready to put San Diego into the mix but I want to see them take care of business in Oakland first.

On the flip side, there are a few very consistent losing teams in Oakland, Tampa, Jacksonville and the Jets. Whatever magic the Jets had last year is gone and soon will be Rex Ryan. Vegas can’t set a line high enough for me not to load up on Denver this weekend. Oakland is an utter mess and may not win a game this year. Jacksonville and Tampa are at least showing signs of life and may actually pick up a victory this weekend.

With a few more injuries and more teams on Bye, the waiver wire is again a popular destination for many fantasy owners. Here is what we have on tap this week:

QB Austin Davis (STL) - Davis has been airing it out quite a bit lately as the Rams continue to fall behind in games. This week should be no different versus San Fran. Add in that Zac Stacy is banged up and he will be a-flinging it come Monday night. If you need a Bye-week fill-in, you could do much worse.

QB Kyle Orton (BUF) - Orton is prone to delivering a big turnover, but he is also prone to tossing for 300+ yards. The Bills face a solid Patriots’ D on Sunday, but it is at home. With solid backfield dump off options in RB Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller and the dynamic Sammy Watkins on the outside, Orton should have another solid effort if you prefer The Neckbeard over Austin Davis.

RB Branden Oliver (SD) - Kudos to you if you plucked Oliver off the free agent tree prior to his game versus the Jets after seeing Donald Brown’s pedestrian 2ypg average since taking over for Ryan Mathews. If you didn’t, grab him this week. He has a tasty matchup in Oakland and, with an injured Brown, he will be The Man until Mathews returns.

WR Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG) - Beckham finally made his long-awaited debut last week and delivered with 10 fantasy points. He won’t see a lot of Targets each week, so he may only be a spot starter based on the matchup. Of course, the matchup this weekend versus Philly is one where you will want him in your lineup.

TE Tim Wright (NE) – The Patriots remembered that Tm Brady and the team were at their best when utilizing two tight ends that can catch the ball. Wright was worked into the gameplan and found himself open often against a solid Bengals defense. The Bills also have a quality D so I wouldn’t expect huge numbers. But, with multiple TE injuries and Byes, getting decent production off the waiver wire for this position is not easy to come by.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

NFL Week 5 Picks

The Redskins certainly didn't get the job done last week, but at least they allowed the Giants to cover the Total by themselves to mitigate the loss on the game. Sunday was very nice to us as the Packers won easily and didn't break a sweat and the Vikings performed as expected for me. The NFL is a beast to predict. However, it seems best to take off the top 3 and the bottom three and to flip the script on the other 26; as soon as a team looks good - bet against them. As soon as a team looks bad - bet on them. It is tough to do, but, right now, it seems to be the best way to make money in the NFL. Of course, Under/Overs are a little more stable; at least until the weather starts becoming more of a factor. Using that philosophy, we look into picks for this weekend.

Sunday
Chicago (ML) vs. Carolina - Time to flip the script on the Bears. They looked terrible at home versus their fiercest rival, but I can easily see the Bears going into Carolina and winning. Aaron Rodgers makes almost every defense look bad, so let's not throw the Bears D out yet. They are much better when facing mediocre offenses. That is exactly what the Panthers are, especially when they are one-dimensional. The Panthers' D is a shell of what it was last year and will not be able to contain Matt Forte and the Bears receiving bigs. Play 7 units on Chicago to win at +125.

Cleveland (ML) at Tennessee - The Browns had a Bye week to let the euphoria of beating the Saints subside and will go into Nashville believing in themselves. The should have Ben Tate back so they will be running the ball down the Titans throats with their triple-headed attack, allowing Brian Hoyer to complete comfortable passes to his mediocre wideouts, but he also has his best weapon in TE Jordan Cameron back. Tennessee has no one that scares anyone. 7 units on Cleveland to win at +120.

Indianapolis vs. Baltimore O49 - The Ravens have the better defense, but that isn't saying much. When the Colts play a good offensive team, they will give up at least 24. The Colts have the better offense and home field. They will score at least 24. Neither has a running game so more plays to score through the air. This goes into the 50s...possibly even 60.  7 units on the Over 49.

Atlanta +4 at New York Giants and O50 - The Giants are not near as good as they looked versus Washington, though Kirk Cousins had a lot to do with that. However, Atlanta's weak defense will make them look competent. I normally stay away from the Falcons outdoors but I like the four points against a Giants team that is not that good. Matty Ice will remind people how easy it is to score against the G-Men. Play Atlanta with the points for 6 units,  7 units on the Over 50 and  2-unit parlay on the Falcons and the Over.



6-point Teaser Of The Week (4.5-to-1 odds) for 1 units
  • Cleveland +8
  • Philadelphia -1
  • Detroit -1
  • Denver -1.5
  • San Diego -0.5

Survivor Pick: Philadelphia

Season record
  • Sides   3-3  (-2.6 units)
  • Overs    3-4 (-3.1 units)
  • Parlay   0-2  (-4.0 units)
  • Teaser   1-2 (+1.0 units)
  • Moneyline 2-1  (+12.1 units)

Heading Sideways

This appears to be the direction of 80% of the NFL. As soon as an arrow turns up for a team, such as the Atlanta Falcons, they head to Minnesota and leave with the arrow pointing down. As soon as you bury the Tampa Bay Bucs with a heavy down arrow after their annihilation at Atlanta, they go into Pittsburgh and beat a team that just turned up after beating Carolina. The rapid directional changes are what brings about mediocrity, unpredictability and increased viewing. T'is a bit frustrating though.

At the quarter pole of the season, we already have our first head coach firing. Dennis Allen was let go by the Raiders after showcasing how poor the low end of the NFL is to the London fans. I know the NFL disturbingly wants to go international, but sending the Raiders over as a representative was a real head-scratcher.

In addition to our first firing, we also have our first starting QB demotion, injuries not included. The Bills have replaced E.J. Manuel's starting job with a clipboard and have inserted Kyle Orton in as their starter. The Bills seem to be trying to ignite their offense, unlike the Jets, who are willing to suffer with Geno Smith. Maybe Jets fans need to wisely ban Bon Jovi music as well to get their team to notice.

Last year, the Lions gave us the first pizza-related injury with Nate Burleson crashing his car while trying to save a pizza from sliding off the front seat while driving. This year, they give us the first puppy-related injury. Joseph Fauria, we love you for your end zone dances and we love you for coming clean about injuring your ankle chasing your peeing puppy down a flight of stairs. Come back soon! The Lions are an odd bunch. Hell, they even had a lineman blow out his ACL against the Packers by doing the Discount Double Check!

I attended the Vikings-Falcons game last Sunday and could do a Waiver Wire list on just that game. QB Teddy Bridgewater looked fantastic. He was poised, he was accurate, and he made loads of good decisions. Having a reliable passing game provided the Vikings with the opportunity to find room for the flat-footed RB Matt Asiata to have a career day and to introduce the fantasy football world to RB Jerick McKinnon. He has the extra gear that Asiata is lacking. The Vikings will use this 2-back approach for awhile, but McKinnon will have the bulk of the load eventually, though I worry about Asiata being a goal-line vulture. Now, bear in mind, Atlanta's defense is terrible, so 500+ yards of output and 40+ points won't show up all that often. On the other side of the ball, RB Antone Smith is setting himself up to play a factor in the Falcons backfield. He has 13 touches and 3 TDs....and not cheap TDs. The kid has speed and moves. When they start feeding him more is anyone's guess. And then we come to WR Devin Hester. Not only is he still a factor in the return game, but the Falcons have done more with him than the Bears were willing to do. He recorded his second 5-catch game this season against the Vikings and took one of them to The House, using his return game moves to shake-and-bake his way to pay dirt. With Harry Douglas on the bench, he could be worth a look against the Giants this week.

One thing I like about Devin Hester is his humility. I will say that when the Bears visit the Falcons in two Sundays, if he has a big day, he will not stick it in the Bears’ face. He was given a great opportunity in Chicago and he wanted to be more than a return man. The Bears didn't need him in that role and let him find a job that would let him do more on offense. I am sure Chicago wanted him to retire a Bear, but it wasn't in the cards. Conversely, Steve Smith has to shoot his mouth off at the Carolina Panthers after having a big day, although much of it came on a tipped pass that was not intended for him. For him to call out the Panthers was classless. He had a nice career there, but was a non-factor in 2013 (as well as, 2009-2010) and they succeeded without him contributing much. They were moving on without him and were looking at running much more, thus lessening his impact on the game. PAYING him to go away stuck money in his pocket and allowed him to find a system that he still fit in. Steve Smith should just shut up and play the best ball that he can for the Ravens. Adding "Sr." to your name doesn't mean that you have grown up, Steve.

Friday, September 19, 2014

NFL Week 3 Picks

The first two weeks of the NFL season are in the books and they have followed the normal unpredictability that we have come to know, love, hate and shake our heads at. This sport is so Jekyll-and-Hyde that it drives us just as mad. It is no wonder that Vikings fans drink so much. Four Super Bowls…Four losses. No missed fields goals…until the Championship game clincher. A beat down in St. Louis followed by their own beat down at home followed by sad revelations about their franchise player who is now indefinitely off the team. Hell man, I had to take a few shots while tripping down that memory lane and I am not a fan. I am a fan at beating the spread, which proves to be very difficult in this sport, especially early in the season. Remember to always manage your bankroll! What is on tap for this weekend…

Sunday

New Orleans (-9.5) vs. Minnesota – sure…I just had to go there, didn’t I?! Truthfully, I liked the Saints even when it was thought that AP would play. New Orleans is one of those teams that you can expect to play bad outdoors on the road…though hard to bet against them in Cleveland. BUT, at home, they are a different animal. I have been lucky enough to attend a game and it is special. This game won’t be close. The Saints’ D will join the party this week and give everyone a feel good, not quite like what we saw in Atlanta versus Tampa, but it will be more than enough. Play the Saints for 10 units in the first half at -6 and for 10 units in the game at -9.5. I am hoping for a good 2H line as well and go for the sweep!

Houston (-1) at New York Giants – I guess one man can bring down a franchise. Not a lot has changed personnel-wise for Houston other than removing Pick-6 prone, Matt Schaub. Ryan Fitzpatrick has stepped into a nice set-up with the offensive weapons that the Texans have and has played conservative football, put up enough points to win and minimize the amount of time the D needs to be on the field and has watched the D dominate. JJ Watt is a MAN, baby! With Eli looking worse than a high school QB under center in the pros, this should be fun to watch! Houston wins this game and further embarrasses The Elite One. Play Houston and give the po’, measly point for 6 units.

Detroit vs. Green Bay O52 – Detroit’s defense is mediocre and not-so-smart. Green Bay has no defense (the Jets are not the offensive powerhouse that they appear to be in Lambeau). Both of these teams have weapons galore and will score into the high 20s and/or 30s. Play the Over 52 for 7 units.

New England (-14) vs. Oakland – New England’s revamped defense showed its teeth last week and is looking to do some chomping on Raider hide. Darrelle Revis takes James Jones out and who will produce for Oakland? This may be a shutout. The Pats need to work out their passing game and figure out who their go-to receivers are. They will do that in the first half and then let their running game, which looks good right now…and there was talk of Steven Ridley being cut late in pre-season, finish off Da Raiders. Play the Pats and give the big 14 for 7 units.

7-point Teaser Of The Week (2-to-1 odds) for 2 units
  • Saints   -2.5
  • Cincy    Pick ‘em
  • Patriots  -7
  • Bears    +10

Teaser of the Week (6-point 4-team). 3-to-1 odds.
  • Bears -0.5
  • Steelers -1
  • Cowboys Over 45
  • Bears Over 41

Survivor Pick: New Orleans

Season record
  • Sides   1-1  (-0.6 units)
  • Overs    2-3 (-2.4 units)
  • Parlay   0-1  (-2.0 units)
  • Teaser   0-1 (-1.0 units)
  • Moneyline 0-1  (-4.0 units)