Week 8 was a great rebound week for me. I went 8-4 ATS on Sunday and for the second straight week I hit two out of my three recommended wagers. I usually write this recap on Monday morning and wonder what the hell I was thinking with a lot of my picks, but I can only say that for a couple of games this week. My biggest regret is making the Dolphins only a four-star play when I was confident enough by game time to have made them my biggest wager of the season. Oh well.
Anyways, without further ado, here were my thoughts from Week 8.
Patriots @ Rams
Closing Odds: Patriots -7, total 46
Predicted Outcome: Rams 24, Patriots 23
Actual Outcome: Patriots 45, Rams 7
OK, so maybe I was a little bit off here. The Rams scored an early touchdown on a bomb from Sam Bradford to Chris Givens, but then proceeded to give up 45 unanswered points. Ultimately, the Patriots are a much better team, but I just wasn’t comfortable backing them as a touchdown favorite when they’ve played so poorly in their last couple of games. Big mistake. The Patriots followed the blueprint that the Packers laid out for them last week and simply torched the Rams defense from start to finish. That’s a hell of a way for New England to go into their bye week. As for the Rams, it’s clear that they’ll be competitive against average and below average teams this season, but they can’t hang with the big boys. As for the NFL schedule makers, what the hell were they thinking scheduling a game in London on the same day as Chelsea v. Man United? Someone needs to lose their job over that one.
Colts @ Titans
Closing Odds: Titans -3.5, total 47
Predicted Outcome: Titans 27, Colts 17
Actual Outcome: Colts 19, Titans 13 (OT)
This was a pretty disappointing loss. The Colts played a pretty solid road game and probably deserved the victory, but Matt Hasselbeck missed a wide open Jared Cook for a walk-in touchdown with 1:15 left to go in the fourth quarter. The Titans were forced to punt the ball and never got to see it again. That’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. I should have known better than to put my hard earned money on Old Man Hasselbeck. The Colts’ game-winning touchdown drive was really something to behold, but it left me wondering where that had been all game. Indianapolis is still far too inconsistent for my liking and will have a tough home game against Miami next weekend. The Colts are right in the thick of things for an AFC Wild Card spot and could run their record up to 5-3 with a victory in that game. On the other side of things, Tennessee’s season is all but over as they have a brutal schedule coming up beginning with a home date with the Bears next week.
Jaguars @ Packers
Closing Odds: Packers -16, total 45.5
Predicted Outcome: Packers 27, Jaguars 14
Actual Outcome: Packers 24, Jaguars 15
Another double-digit underdog strikes again. I knew that the Packers would struggle moderately due to the amount of injuries that they have on both sides of the ball, but I never expected this. The Jaguars defense did a great job keeping the Packers offense in check, limiting Aaron Rodgers and company to 238 total net yards. With Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson on the sidelines, this could have been expected considering the Packers have virtually no running game whatsoever. What’s surprising here is that the Jags offense was able to move the ball with some consistency as Blaine Gabbert had one of the best games of his professional career. Maybe someone on the Jags coaching staff told Gabbert that he should refrain from drinking until after the game. And despite all of that, Jacksonville still managed to lose the game by nine points. This is a really bad football team who will have their hands full with the Lions next week. Green Bay has the luxury of hosting Arizona who will be playing on a short week, but it remains to be seen how healthy they’ll be heading into that contest.
Chargers @ Browns
Closing Odds: Chargers -3, total 40.5
Predicted Outcome: Browns 24, Chargers 21
Actual Outcome: Browns 7, Chargers 6
The Chargers are pathetic. Philip Rivers didn’t even turn the ball over this week and they still managed to find a way to lose to the Browns. Rivers didn’t get any help from his receivers as Robert Meachem dropped a couple of balls, including one that probably would have went for a touchdown, while the rest of the receiving core struggled to get any separation from the Browns’ defensive backs. In classic Rivers fashion, he let his frustrations out on his offensive line and the referees, choosing to berate one or the other after every single offensive play. In my honest opinion, Rivers is as big a part of the problem as Norv Turner is in San Diego. The Chargers will have to forget about this loss quickly as they host the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. If Turner is still the head coach for that game it’s probably because he has some naked pictures of General Manager A.J. Smith somewhere. I’m confident the Chargers will find a way to make that game interesting. Cleveland was also epically bad this week and probably would have lost to any other team in the league. They’re extremely unfortunate to have to play the Ravens off of their bye next week, especially since Baltimore has had two weeks to stew about their blowout loss at the hands of the Texans.
Falcons @ Eagles
Closing Odds: Eagles -3, total 43
Predicted Outcome: Falcons 23, Eagles 17
Actual Outcome: Falcons 30, Eagles 17
#FireAndyReid was trending on Twitter yesterday afternoon and for good reason. Reid is useless. Even with the effects of Hurricane Sammy affecting the weather in Philadelphia, the Eagles found a way to throw the ball 35 times and run the ball only 24 times, seven of which were Michael Vick scrambles. It probably didn’t help that they were down two touchdowns before they had picked up a first down. There’s going to be a lot of talk in Philadelphia about replacing Michael Vick at quarterback, but I don’t agree with that. Vick isn’t a good player by any stretch of the imagination, but Reid constantly puts him in a position to fail. There’s no way that Vick would struggle as much if the Eagles were committed to giving LeSean McCoy the ball regularly. Philadelphia could easily be 0-7 right now and if they can’t move the ball consistently against the Saints next week, their season is all but over. As for Atlanta, they just continue to get the job done. The Falcons had great balance in their gameplan and kept the Philadelphia defense guessing all afternoon. They host Dallas on Sunday Night Football next week which should be another winnable game with the Cowboys reeling off of a tough emotional loss.
Seahawks @ Lions
Closing Odds: Lions -3, total 42.5
Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 22, Lions 14
Actual Outcome: Lions 28, Seahawks 24
This was a close game from start to finish and really could have gone either way. Honestly, I’d rather stomach the ATS loss here because it was completely worth it to see Pete Carroll demoralized on the Seahawks’ sideline. I despise that guy with every fiber of my being. Seattle played a pretty solid road game and was in position to pull this one out even though their defense wasn’t stellar. The Seahawks did their best to limit Calvin Johnson and were successful in doing so (in part because Johnson was dropping balls left and right), but gave up a number of big plays to Brandon Pettigrew and Titus Young. In classic Matt Stafford fashion, he spent the entire first half sleeping but woke up just in time to lead his team to victory. Detroit has a very winnable game in Jacksonville next week but could be flat coming off of this hard fought victory. A good head coach would have his team ready for that game, but Jim Schwartz doesn’t fit that description. As for Seattle, Russell Wilson played a great game but the Seahawks got caught up in trying to match points with the Lions rather than sticking to their bread and butter by running the ball frequently. Prior to the game, if you had told me Marshawn Lynch was only going to get 12 carries, I would have guaranteed that Seattle would lose. That’s just plain dumb. The Seahawks will look to get back on track as they return to the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field to battle the well-rested Vikings next week.
Dolphins @ Jets
Closing Odds: Jets -1, total 39
Predicted Outcome: Dolphins 19, Jets 13
Actual Outcome: Dolphins 30, Jets 9
The Dolphins are for real. The Jets are not. It’s simple as that. Miami dominated New York in every aspect of the game and were able to secure a three touchdown victory even after losing Ryan Tannehill to injury early in the game. At one point late in the first half, the Dolphins had 20 points, while the Jets had 26 total net yards. Public perception heading into this game was that the Jets were starting to turn things around after a narrow loss to the Patriots last week, but they’ll never turn things around with Mark Sanchez at quarterback. I’m not going to say that Tim Tebow is a great option under centre, but at this point, there’s nothing to lose. The Jets hit their bye next week so this would be the perfect time to make a change unless Rex Ryan’s three-foot gut continues to tell him otherwise. Miami heads to Indianapolis where one of those two teams will leave with a 5-3 record. Unbelievable.
Panthers @ Bears
Closing Odds: Bears -7, total 41.5
Predicted Outcome: Panthers 20, Bears 17
Actual Outcome: Bears 23, Panthers 22
I nailed this one on the head but it makes me sick that the Panthers weren’t able to pull out the win. Carolina dominated Chicago for three and a half quarters but Cam Newton did what he does best and gifted the Bears with an opportunity for a comeback after throwing an untimely pick six. It’s really unfortunate for Newton as he actually played pretty well for the most part, with the exception of a couple of terrible decisions. I really wouldn’t read too much into this game though. The Panthers were desperate, while the Bears were coming off of short rest and clearly had a banged up starting quarterback. Jay Cutler was nursing some sore ribs and it didn’t help that he was hit on nearly every dropback. Assuming that Cutler is close to one-hundred percent next week, the Bears should have their way with the Titans. The Panthers, on the other hand, will have a rough time trying to slow down Robert Griffin III in Washington next week, especially after losing a close game in this fashion.
Redskins @ Steelers
Closing Odds: Steelers -4.5, total 44.5
Predicted Outcome: Redskins 31, Steelers 28
Actual Outcome: Steelers 27, Redskins 12
My initial instinct in this game was to take the Steelers, but as the week wore on, I convinced myself that the Redskins would be able to pull this one out. I thought the “Dick LeBeau factor” was being overplayed since Robert Griffin III really doesn’t play like a rookie, but obviously I was wrong. LeBeau ran his career record against rookie quarterbacks to 14-1, probably because RGIII was so distracted by the hideous Steelers uniforms. Washington hurt themselves with a ton of stupid mistakes including a whopping ten drops, two of which came on easy touchdown catches. The drops made a huge difference in outcome of the game, but ultimately, the Redskins defense really couldn’t stop anything. Ben Roethlisberger was under no duress all afternoon and was able to find wide open receivers all afternoon. Big Ben shouldn’t get too accustomed to a clean pocket because the Steelers face a road trip to New York to battle the Giants next week. Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III will show Cam Newton what a franchise quarterback really looks like when they battle the Panthers.
Raiders @ Chiefs
Closing Odds: Chiefs -1, total 42
Predicted Outcome: Raiders 21, Chiefs 14
Actual Outcome: Raiders 26, Chiefs 16
It was painful to write the preview for this game, and it’s equally as painful to write the recap. When Brady Quinn was injured in the first quarter, I thought that my Raiders pick was going to go down the shitter with Matt Cassel trying to win his job back, but the Chiefs proved to be just a hopeless even with Cassel at the helm. Cassel actually played surprisingly well in his return to the lineup but a botched snap, a muffed punt, and untimely penalties led to the Chiefs’ downfall. Luckily for Kansas City, they travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers on Thursday night. That might go down as the worst football game in the history of the NFL. As for Oakland, they’ve now won two straight games against the Chiefs and Jaguars, and have a winnable game at home to the Bucs next Sunday. There’s no point in breaking down Oakland’s performance here because they’re completely inconsistent from one week to the next.
Giants @ Cowboys
Closing Odds: Giants -2.5, total 48
Predicted Outcome: Giants 26, Cowboys 20
Actual Outcome: Giants 29, Cowboys 24
This game literally took years off of my life. I’m a diehard Cowboys fan and I knew that a loss was coming, but to lose in this fashion is truly depressing. Think about this sequence of events. Fall behind 23-0 as your starting quarterback pisses himself, score 24 unanswered points to take the lead, give up the lead after your running back fumbles running into his own offensive lineman, and then squander a chance to win the game when your receiver’s fingertip touches out of bounds. This kind of stuff inevitably happens to Dallas so it really doesn’t come as a shocker that they found a way to lose this game. On the bright side, Jason Garrett was actually able to get the plays in on time this week and the Cowboys didn’t take a single delay of game penalty. That’s a step in the right direction. Things don’t get any easier for Dallas as they face a showdown against the Falcons at the Georgia Dome next Sunday night. As for the Giants, they’ll consider themselves lucky to have won this game. They were essentially gifted the game by Tony Romo and still almost found a way to lose. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz really struggled to separate themselves from the Cowboys’ cornerbacks, but they’ll be happy to see a banged up Steelers defense come to town next week.
Saints @ Broncos
Closing Odds: Broncos -6, total 55.5
Predicted Outcome: Broncos 38, Saints 28
Actual Outcome: Broncos 34, Saints 14
Once the Broncos went up by ten points at halftime I knew that this game was over, so I proceeded to watch The Walking Dead and Dexter before catching the end of the World Series. Subsequently, I’m not equipped to give a full recap of this game other than what I saw in the early going. Denver got off to their usual slow start but still managed to take a ten point lead into halftime and considering that they’ve been dominant in the second half this season, the Saints gave themselves no chance. Usually the Saints offense is able to keep the team in the game, but the Broncos front seven did a great job of applying pressure to Drew Brees which didn’t allow him to get into any sort of rhythm. Maybe Brees can get back on track next week against an Eagles defense that has really struggled to get pressure on the quarterback this season. Denver will have a tough matchup against a Cincinnati squad coming off of their bye.
All in all, Week 8 was pretty solid. Most of my predicted outcomes were fairly close to the final scores with the exception of a couple of bad picks. Hopefully that momentum carries over into tonight.
Monday Night Football pick
The Arizona Cardinals host the San Francisco 49ers tonight. The 49ers have had an extended rest after beating Seattle last Thursday, while Arizona is coming off a 21-14 loss against Minnesota.
Arizona’s defense boasts one of the more impressive streaks in the NFL today, limiting opponents to 23 or fewer points in each of their last 16 games. In four home games, they’ve allowed an average of just 15.5 points against. The offense will be led by quarterback John Skelton, who at times may look like he’s pounded back a bottle of Jack Daniels before the game, but he’s a perfect 6-0 at home as a starter. Skelton threw three touchdowns against San Francisco in Week 14 of last season, a 21-19 home win for the Cardinals.
The 49ers are 8-3 on the road under Jim Harbaugh, but if you take away their 34-0 thrashing of the Jets, their average margin of victory on the road is just 5.3 points, and none of those wins came by more than eight points.
The landscape of the NFC West has changed dramatically this season. The games have been smash mouth, grind ‘em out battles. With the oddsmakers giving a full touchdown to the Cardinals, I’ll gladly put my money down on Arizona in what is likely to be a close game. 49ers 17, Cardinals 16
Week 9 Early Lines
Last but not least, the early lines for Week 9 have been posted. Here are my thoughts.
Chiefs @ Chargers -8.5 - I would be really uncomfortable laying more than a touchdown with the Chargers. Even though the Chiefs are terrible, I imagine most bettors will agree with me.
Broncos @ Bengals +3 - The Broncos will take in a lot of action here. The general public tends to only remember what they’ve seen in the past couple of weeks. Denver was busy beating up on New Orleans while Cincinnati got owned by Pittsburgh at home.
Dolphins @ Colts +2.5 - Miami was more impressive in their victory in this week so they’ll probably see the majority of the action here. I’m not comfortable backing the Dolphins as favorites, especially as road favorites.
Ravens @ Browns +3.5 - This may have the most lopsided action of any game. Baltimore is coming off of their bye while Cleveland looked lackluster in their victory over San Diego. The Browns have been HUGE moneymakers as underdogs in the past couple of seasons.
Bills @ Texans -10.5 - The Bills can’t stop the run and the Texans run the ball more than any other team. I can’t imagine anyone wants to bet on Buffalo in this game even though they’re a double-digit underdog.
Panthers @ Redskins -4 – The Redskins will get most of the action here but it won’t be extremely lopsided. Washington just got blown out while Carolina almost won in Chicago, and again, a lot of people only remember what they saw last week.
Lions @ Jaguars +4 - No one is going to bet on Jacksonville here. Public perception is that the Lions are back on track but they have a couple of divisional games against the Vikings and Packers on deck. This could be a look ahead spot.
Bears @ Titans +4 – This is almost identical to the Lions-Jags game. Everyone will be betting Chicago here but they have a couple of huge games against the Texans and 49ers on deck. They might look past Tennessee here.
Vikings @ Seahawks -4.5 – The Vikings may be a publicly backed underdog here. The Seahawks have come back down to earth a little bit and Minnesota has been a good underdog play this year.
Bucs @ Raiders -2 - I think the Bucs will be a publicly backed dog here as well. They’ll be going into Oakland on extra rest and looked dominant against the Vikings. I can’t imagine I’ll bet a single dollar on this game.
Steelers @ Giants -3.5 – This smells like a 50/50 action game. The Giants didn’t look good against Dallas while the Steelers beat up on the Redskins. Pittsburgh has a ton of injuries though.
Cowboys @ Falcons -5 - Dallas is a public team but no one wants to bet on a team led by Tony Romo. Atlanta will get a lot of action here, but this is the type of game that the Cowboys typically win.
Eagles @ Saints -3.5 – I don’t know what to think about this game. The Saints will probably get more action because they’re favored but I’m really not sure. Both of these teams don’t look very good right now.