If you look up the word “mediocrity” in a dictionary, you’ll find my Week 15 picks. I finished Sunday with an overall record of 7-7 ATS, going 3-3 ATS with my wagers. The three wagers that I won (Broncos, Cardinals, and Panthers) all won with ease, while the three wagers that I whiffed on (Rams, Bucs, and Jaguars) never really stood a chance. It was just one of those days.
Anyways, without further ado, here’s my recap from each game in Week 15.
Packers @ Bears
- Closing odds: Packers -3, total 43.5
- Predicted outcome: Packers 21, Bears 13
- Actual outcome: Packers 21, Bears 13
The Bears embarrassed themselves on Sunday afternoon. Green Bay played nowhere close to a solid game, but still managed to win comfortably despite numerous special teams mistakes. Jay Cutler’s well-documented struggles against the Packers continued as it appeared as though he may have been sipping from a flask on the sidelines for the majority of the game. The Bears failed to convert a third down opportunity in the entire game, and once again, their offensive line was brutal, allowing the Packers to put Cutler under relentless pressure all afternoon. It also didn’t help the Bears’ cause that Alshon Jeffery was pushing off a Packers’ defender on every ball that was thrown his way. Luckily for Chicago, they get to pay Arizona a visit next week in what should be a very winnable game. Meanwhile, Green Bay is once against rounding into form at the right time. The Packers really need to do something about their kicking situation though. I’m not sure if Mason Crosby has been drinking from the same flask as Jay Cutler, but something’s obviously wrong, as he whiffed on another couple of field goal attempts. The Packers return home next week to take on the Titans and will try to avoid a big letdown spot after clinching the NFC North on Sunday.
Giants @ Falcons
- Closing odds: Falcons pk, total 50
- Predicted outcome: Falcons 27, Giants 20
- Actual outcome: Falcons 34, Giants 0
Well, I can’t say I saw this one coming. It’s been evident this season that the Giants aren’t the same team as the team that won the Super Bowl last season, but I didn’t expect a shellacking like this. New York clearly missed the absence of Ahmad Bradshaw. David Wilson looked to be a fully capable replacement, but for some God forsaken reason, Tom Coughlin decided to use Kregg
Blumpkin Lumpkin out of the backfield in short yardage situations. Needless to say, that wasn’t a very smart move. Regardless though, the Falcons were never going to lose this game. For weeks they’ve had to listen to the national media call them a fraud so they were determined to earn themselves some respect. They’ve done that for the time being, but all respect will be lost when they inevitably bow out of the playoffs at the hands of the Packers or 49ers. That’s a given. Atlanta heads to Detroit on Saturday to take on the lowly Lions. Meanwhile, the Giants will have to put this one behind them quickly so that they can hand it to Baltimore next weekend.
Buccaneers @ Saints
- Closing odds: Saints -3.5, total 55
- Predicted outcome: Buccaneers 28, Saints 23
- Actual outcome: Saints 41, Buccaneers 0
OK, so I was a little bit off on this one. In fairness, this looked like it could have been a close game early on, but while Drew Brees was throwing touchdowns in the red zone, Josh Freeman was tossing horrible interceptions. I take full responsibility for putting my trust in Freeman. He’s useless. If you allow your offense to get shut out by the worst defense of the last decade, it’s time to call it quits. Freeman is not, and will never be, a true franchise quarterback so Greg Schiano may want to look elsewhere this offseason. As for the Saints, their season is over, but Drew Brees was on a mission to get back on track after tossing nine touchdowns in his previous three games. I think it’s fair to say he accomplished that mission. New Orleans will play the role of dream crusher when they travel to Dallas to battle the Cowboys next weekend.
Vikings @ Rams
- Closing odds: Rams -2.5, total 39.5
- Predicted outcome: Rams 20, Vikings 9
- Actual outcome: Vikings 36, Rams 22
Another swing and a miss. I really have to stop thinking that a team is capable of shutting down Adrian Peterson. The Rams did a great job of limiting AP to start the game, but as is always the case, Peterson managed to break off huge run after huge run as the game wore on. Even though St. Louis is extremely stout against the run, I don’t know why I thought they’d be able to shut down AP all afternoon. Once again, Christian Ponder stunk up the joint, passing for only 131 total yards, but somehow the Vikings managed to pull out a two-touchdown victory. I don’t know how this continuously happens. Minnesota is still alive in the NFC Wild Card hunt and will need to pull off a road upset in Houston next week to keep their dreams alive. As for the Rams, the highlight of their game was when Danny Amendola scored a touchdown and spiked the ball directly into the face of one of the ushers behind the endzone, causing his glasses to disintegrate in the process. As someone who wears glasses, I probably shouldn’t have found this funny, but I rolled around on the ground for a good two to three minutes laughing hysterically. I know karma will bite me in the ass real soon.
Redskins @ Browns
- Closing odds: Browns -4, total 40.5
- Predicted outcome: No prediction
- Actual outcome: Redskins 38, Browns 21
While I didn’t offer an official predicted outcome on the game, I did lean with the Browns -4. Big mistake. Brandon Weeden is a 48-year old rookie scrub. How the Browns picked Weeden in the first round of the NFL Draft is still mind boggling, especially after watching Kirk Cousins (a (much younger) 3rd-round pick) completely decimate the Cleveland defense all afternoon. The Redskins face a must win game in Philadelphia next weekend, but they can definitely be comfortable if Cousins has to suit up for an injured Robert Griffin III once more. Cousins started the game slowly and tossed an early interception, but was basically unstoppable from that point onwards. As for Cleveland, they were probably better off losing this game at it will likely land them a higher pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Browns need not be worried about winning a meaningless game next week because they’ll likely get stomped in Denver.
Jaguars @ Dolphins
- Closing odds: Dolphins -7.5, total 38
- Predicted outcome: Jaguars 16, Dolphins 14
- Actual outcome: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 3
This was my only losing wager on the day that I didn’t regret making. While the Dolphins ended up winning by three touchdowns, this game could have went a lot differently. Jags’ head coach Mike Mularkey opted to go for it on 4th-and-short in the red zone on two separate occasions, and the Dolphins defense held strong both times. The Jaguars left a minimum of six points off the board with those decisions, but more importantly, lost a ton of momentum. Jacksonville also scored a pair of touchdowns in the game, but one was taken off the board because an offensive lineman forgot to report as an eligible receiver, while another was reviewed and overturned. The Jaguars outgained the Dolphins in total yardage for the majority of the game, but the Jags were the Jags, and they ultimately found a way to get blown out. Jacksonville will be a double-digit home underdog to the angry Patriots next week, while Miami will try to win a meaningless game at home against the Bills.
Broncos @ Ravens
- Closing odds: Broncos -3, total 48
- Predicted outcome: Broncos 37, Ravens 24
- Actual outcome: Broncos 34, Ravens 17
The Ravens are who I thought they were. I’m not going to spend too much time here re-iterating what you already know. Joe Flacco is atrocious, Jim Caldwell proved to somehow be a worse play caller than Cam Cameron, and the Ravens defense has more holes than a golf course. How anyone in the world thought that the Ravens could win this game just boggles my mind. I love when people throw out meaningless stats about the Ravens’ home dominance, not even considering the fact that they’re a far worse team than they were in the past. Baltimore will try to rebound from their embarrassing performance when they host the Giants next week. I don’t like their chances much, especially when Peyton Manning calls up his brother Eli this week to let him in on the secrets to carving up Baltimore’s defense. While the Ravens are doomed for an early playoff exit, the Broncos certainly aren’t. At this point in time, I’m certain Denver will be playing the AFC Championship game.
Colts @ Texans
- Closing odds: Texans -10.5, total 48
- Predicted outcome: Texans 38, Colts 21
- Actual outcome: Texans 29, Colts 17
From one fraud to another. The Colts actually played a pretty solid game here, but still managed to lose by double-digits. No surprise. Indianapolis has only played four tough opponents this year, losing by double-digits to the Bears, Patriots, and Texans, while pulling off a miraculous comeback against the Packers in which they were getting lambasted. Andrew Luck surprisingly managed to protect the ball this week, but unfortunately protecting the ball comes at a cost, as Luck was only able to complete 13 of his 27 pass attempts for 186 yards. Indianapolis came undone at the seams when Mewelde Moore (what the hell is this guy doing on an NFL roster?) fumbled the ball away at the Texans 1-yard line and then later surrendered a touchdown on a blocked punt. I can’t say I feel all that bad. As for the Colts defense, they played surprisingly well for the majority of the game except for the fact that they forgot to cover some guy named Andre Johnson. No word of a lie, the Colts actually double-teamed Kevin Walter on one play and played Johnson one-on-one. What a joke. I could go on forever here so I’m just going to put an end to talking about the most overrated team I can remember in my lifetime. The Colts travel to Kansas City next week in what should be an easy victory against Brady Quinn and company, while Houston will look to avoid a letdown at home to the Vikings.
Panthers @ Chargers
- Closing odds: Chargers -3, total 45.5
- Predicted outcome: Panthers 26, Chargers 17
- Actual outcome: Panthers 31, Chargers 7
Holy fuck, the Chargers are bad. I was a little scared in betting on Carolina here, but that fear was quickly dispelled when Philip Rivers appeared to be in typical Rivers form early in the game. In fairness to Rivers, his offensive line is as putrid as Ed Hochuli’s officiating, but that doesn’t excuse his terrible performance and terrible season. It also didn’t help that Ryan Mathews broke his collarbone (again) early in the game, forcing the Charges to rely on the incapable Jackie Battle. Or maybe it DID help. Mathews is so useless at this point that Battle may be an upgrade. We’re truly in for a treat when San Diego travels to New York to battle the Jets next weekend. As for Carolina, they’re playing really good football right now. The Panthers lost a ton of games by close margins earlier this season which doomed their postseason aspirations, but I could easily make the argument that they’re playing like a postseason team right now. Cam Newton has been playing with great confidence in the last month and has re-solidified his position as a true franchise quarterback. Newton has a chance to continue padding his stats as the Raiders come to town next week.
Seahawks @ Bills
- Closing odds: Seahawks -5, total 44
- Predicted outcome: Seahawks 20, Bills 17 (OT)
- Actual outcome: Seahawks 50, Bills 17
The Seahawks are legit. This was the ultimate flat spot–coming off a HUGE win with the 49ers on deck next week–but the Seahawks weren’t phased at all. For the second straight week Russell Wilson was incredible, and in my eyes, he’s cemented his spot as the second-best rookie quarterback in the NFL this season, behind only RG3. To watch a rookie quarterback lead his team to 50 points in back-to-back weeks in nothing short of amazing. I shouldn’t sell anyone else on the Seahawks’ roster short either. Marshawn Lynch has put together another fine season despite being given big money in the offseason, Pete Carroll (much to my dismay) has proven to be one of the better coaches in the NFL, and Seattle has managed to continue their solid run without a top defensive player in Brandon Browner. We’ll truly be able to gauge how good the Seahawks are when they host the 49ers next weekend. As for Buffalo, what a disappointing season. C.J. Spiller looked great yesterday but as long as Chan Gailey is the head coach in Buffalo, Spiller will never reach his true potential. I’d vomit on a daily basis if I was a Bills’ fan. In a highly amusing note on this game, Pete Carroll decided it would be a great idea to rub salt in the wounds of Bills’ fans everywhere when he decided to run a fake punt up 47-17 in the game. What a clown.
Lions @ Cardinals
- Closing odds: Lions -6.5, total 43.5
- Predicted outcome: Cardinals 17, Lions 15
- Actual outcome: Cardinals 38, Lions 10
I took a lot of flack for my Cardinals’ pick yesterday which made it extra rewarding when they dismantled the Lions. Arizona picked up a total of 196 yards on offense, but somehow managed to win the game by four touchdowns thanks to Matt Stafford tossing pick-sixes left and right. I would continue on and on about how pathetic the Lions are but you already know, so I’ll just end it here.
Steelers @ Cowboys
- Closing odds: Steelers -2.5, total 46
- Predicted outcome: Steelers 20, Cowboys 13
- Actual outcome: Cowboys 27, Steelers 24 (OT)
I thought I was living in Bizarro World yesterday. Big Ben choked and the Cowboys won a game that they needed to win? What? I’m still expecting someone to pinch me and wake me up. I don’t think I’ve been underrating Dallas recently, but I do think I’ve been overrating Pittsburgh. I continuously compare Pittsburgh to Baltimore, but since the Ravens are so inept, it makes the Steelers look good when they really aren’t. Pittsburgh can’t run the ball whatsoever and they make too many stupid mistakes to be considered a legitimate threat in the playoffs (if they even make the playoffs). The Steelers face a must-win game against the Bengals next weekend, and while I’d normally dismiss the Bengals’ chances of beating any above average teams, I’m not entirely sure that Pittsburgh is above average anymore. Losing to San Diego and Dallas, two of the league’s biggest choke artists, in back-to-back weeks doesn’t inspire any confidence. As for the Cowboys, they’ve quietly strung together three straight wins since getting embarrassed by Washington on Thanksgiving. Dallas played a pretty solid overall game yesterday with the exception of a DeMarco Murray fumble in the red zone. Tony Romo didn’t turn the ball over while still making plays downfield and their pass rush did a solid job of pressuring Roethlisberger. The Cowboys face a must win at home to the Saints next week.
Chiefs @ Raiders
- Closing odds: Raiders -4.5, total 44
- Predicted outcome: Chiefs 17, Raiders 16
- Actual outcome: Raiders 15, Chiefs 0
Yuck. If you get shut out by the Raiders, you don’t deserve a single minute of my time so I’m refusing to recap this game. Kansas City was so epically bad in this game that I almost want to…. Ah, fuck it.
49ers @ Patriots
- Closing odds: Patriots -5, total 47.5
- Predicted outcome: Patriots 23, 49ers 21
- Actual outcome: 49ers 41, Patriots 34
Honestly, predictions aside, I feel pathetic for not watching this game right up until the end. The 49ers went up 31-3 in the third quarter and I mistakenly gave my wife the remote control, uttering the words “this game’s done”. I should have known better. Somehow, Tom Brady managed to revert into Tom Brady and led the Patriots on an epic comeback to tie the game at 31 apiece. But, Colin Kaepernick returned the favor and hit Michael Crabtree on a 38-yard touchdown pass in what ended up being the decisive touchdown. Of course, I saw none of this happen so I don’t know why I’m even writing about it. New England was predictably a little bit flat coming off of their blowout victory over the Texans, but credit goes to the 49ers for stymieing the Pats offense for two thirds of the game. San Fran also deserves some credit for not completely collapsing after giving up a 28-point lead in the third quarter. A lot of teams would have fallen apart in that situation, but the 49ers still pulled out the victory in a place where no road teams win in December. I’d love to see these two teams play again in early February. New England gets to unleash their anger on Jacksonville next weekend while San Fran is back in primetime for a huge Sunday Night Football matchup with the Seahawks.
Monday Night Football pick
The Tennessee Titans host the New York Jets on Monday Night Football tonight. While I’ll surely be doing something other than watching the game (or so I’ve led my wife to believe), I’m sure that there are a ton of people looking to chase their losses from Sunday’s games.
Tennessee is just playing out the remainder of their schedule in what’s been a disappointing season. They get the honor of hosting the final Monday Night Football game of the season, and they will undoubtedly have some fireworks ready for this one. Expect the team to pull out all the stops, gadget plays, funky returns, and fourth-down conversion attempts. This game could play out very similarly to the team’s game against Detroit earlier this season. Way back in Week 3 the Titans were coming off losses in their first two games and dipped deep into their bag of tricks for their meeting with the Lions. Jake Locker posted a career-best 113.0 passer rating in that game, and Tennessee won 44-41.
The Jets have allowed only 16 points over their last two games, but this week they get an extremely motivated Chris Johnson. Johnson has averaged 113.0 rushing yards per game in his career on Monday night.
Mark Sanchez’s struggles have been well documented this year, but he shouldn’t get much resistance this week from a Tennessee defense that has allowed opponents to score an average of 32.0 points per game at LP Field. Sanchez could be in for a big bounce back game, and Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell should have some success on the ground as well. Tennessee’s run defense ranks in the bottom 10 of the NFL as well.
I’m not really sure who’s going to win the game, but I do think that it’ll be much higher scoring affair than expected. I’ll be playing the over. Titans 27, Jets 23
Week 16 Early Lines
Falcons @ Lions +3 — All aboard the Falcons bandwagon! No one will be betting on the Lions here, but they did play Houston tight at home on Thanksgiving and they’ll be looking to atone for their embarrassing performance in Arizona. Atlanta looks like a big trap.
Titans @ Packers -11 — Regardless of how the Titans play against the Jets tonight, most people will lay the points with the Packers. Green Bay is rounding into form, but they’ll have to avoid a letdown after beating the Bears and clinching their division.
Raiders @ Panthers -8 — This looks like a lot of points to lay with Carolina, especially with the Raiders coming off of a shutout win. Oakland may be a publicly backed underdog here.
Bills @ Dolphins -4.5 — I think Buffalo may be a publicly backed underdog as well. Miami is coming off of a big win, while Buffalo is coming off of a demoralizing loss, but these teams are much more even than the spread indicates.
Bengals @ Steelers -4.5 — Another publicly backed dog. Cincy on extra rest, playing well, while the Steelers are in freefall right now. Pittsburgh is solid at home and beat the Bengals in Cincinnati earlier this year so I’m a little bit torn right now.
Patriots @ Jaguars +14 — It won’t be a landslide but more people will bet on New England here. “The Pats will be angry”, “The Pats never play poorly two games in a row”, “The Jags lost by 21 to Miami”. Enough said.
Colts @ Chiefs +6 — Indianapolis will be one of the most heavily bet teams in Week 16. The Chiefs suck, but the Colts actually aren’t that much better, so I think I know where I’ll be siding. The media’s been giving Andrew Luck a huge blowjob all year and has convinced the public that he’s an elite quarterback.
Saints @ Cowboys -3 — I think the Saints will be a small publicly backed dog. There aren’t too many people that are interesting in laying points with Dallas, while New Orleans is coming off of an impressive blowout victory.
Redskins @ Eagles +4 — The public will be all over Washington. In general, the public loves to side with teams that are in the “need to win” situation, completely throwing out the fact that the Eagles fucking hate the Redskins.
Rams @ Buccaneers -3 — Despite being thrashed by the Saints, the Bucs are still perceived to be a decent team. I see them getting 60-70% of the action here as they’ll be looking to atone for their devastating loss.
Chargers @ Jets -3 — The betting action here is solely dependent on how the Jets perform in tonight’s game. If New York wins, the line will go up and they’ll still get most of the action. If they lose in Tennessee, the Chargers will look like an appealing underdog.
Vikings @ Texans -7.5 — I think Houston will get the majority of the action here. No one is confident in Christian Ponder’s ability to move the ball, so they won’t look that appealing, even as an underdog of more than a touchdown.
Giants @ Ravens +1 — The Giants are going to get most of the action here. Both teams are coming off of embarrassing losses but many bettors will see this as a pick’em between Eli Manning and Joe Flacco.
Browns @ Broncos -12.5 — Denver could be a 17-point favorite here and they’d still get the majority of the action from the public. The Broncos are on fire right now and there won’t be too many people willing to play against them.
Bears @ Cardinals +5.5 — Chicago is in a big funk right now, but they’re still going to get all of the action here. The public won’t be convinced by one Cardinals’ win over the lowly Lions.
49ers @ Seahawks +1 — This one’s a toss-up so you’ll likely see close to 50/50 action. Both teams have looked great as of late, so an argument can be made for either side.