by Chris Alan
First, a quote from Jerome Bettis writing for Sports Illustrated (.com), “It's hard to say who the best team in the NFL is, but it's not coming from the NFC.”
My pre-season Super Bowl teams were the Green Bay Packers versus the Baltimore Ravens. In the AFC picture I still really like the Ravens but am starting to jump on the Jets bandwagon, and the Steelers are also making things interesting. Those are my front runners to earn a bye week heading into the Playoffs
On the flip side, there’s no compelling team in the NFC. Green Bay is hurting, though still capable. The Atlanta Falcons are making me wish I knew more about them, it’ll be interesting to see them play the Philadelphia Eagles this week. The NFC East race is still wide open and full of teams known for late season revivals.
Around this time of year it makes good strategic sense to start picking teams to loose rather than a team to win. During the Lions perfect 0-16 season, their opponents were picked very often. This week, the Panthers and Bills both have their bye week, but for those who like to plan ahead I suggest looking at their upcoming schedules and reserving a few of their opponents. Carolina at St. Louis in week 8 and at Seahawks in week 13 are both opportunities to pull off a low spread win with a mediocre team, a great move strategically when statistically feasible.
As for the other winless team, I think the 49ers can start to redeem their season. Despite way too many turnovers, the 49ers played both the Saints and Eagles very close till the end. If they can protect the ball and win their five remaining division games they could turn team President Jed York into a prophet.
I got three out of four last week, pretty good, but missed my Pick of the Week. Luckily, most of the people reading this are those I explicitly sent the link to, so hopefully no one hates me too much. Yet. Probably a good time for a disclaimer.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within are solely for entertainment purposes and should not be used for monetary investments.
On to this weeks picks:
Pick of the Week: Chicago Bears -7.5 hosting Seattle Seahawks
Offensively, I don’t consider the Bears to be very good, but having Cutler back under center will give them a boost and they should improve over the course of the season. The way the Bears will win most games this year is with their defense, which is top notch. The Seahawks are perennially in the middle of the worst division in the NFL. Chicago is undefeated at home, and the Seahawks have yet to win a road game this season, and even when the Seahawks are good they don’t win road games. I wish the spread was lower, but it’s not. My final analysis, there is no easier home game on the Bears schedule. Confidence level: 4 out of 5.
Safe Pick: New York Giants -10.5 hosting Detroit Lions
Looks like the Giants are a force to be reckoned with once again, just like they were on paper back in August. Certainly won’t be picking against them in my Pick of the Week for the rest of the season. The only caveat is that even when they’re good, the Giants tend to loose too many home games. Like their Super Bowl year, when they went 3-5 at home. Though the following year they redeemed themselves with a 7-1 home record, so this game should be safe. Confidence level: 4.5 out of 5.
Spread Pick: New York Jets -3.5 at Denver Broncos
I don’t like picking away teams, but I don’t have many options. The Texans are hosting the Chiefs, but if anything I would pick the Chiefs as the underdog, I imagine their defense and running game will control the game. If Sanchez can continue his interception free season his defense will safely corral the Broncos, with or without Revis. Confidence level: 3 out of 5.
Underdog Pick: Dallas Cowboys +1.5 at Minnesota Vikings
Both Tony Romo and Brett Favre turned the ball over 3 times last week. Coming into this game, Tony Romo has fewer distractions, fewer hurt elby-bones and an extra day to recover. Both teams were popular Super Bowl picks from the NFC during the offseason, are both are desperate to get back on track. I think Dallas is in a better position to do so, and this is about as high of a confidence level I get for an underdog. Confidence level: 2.5 out of 5.
San Francisco 49ers -6.5 hosting Oakland Raiders
I like the 49ers to win their first game here, but would never pick them to do so. The Raiders have finally started moving in the right direction this year, and if they bring the same intensity as last week they can control this game. I also think picking this game is as dangerous as picking a division game, both teams really want bragging rights in the Bay Area.
Baltimore Ravens +3.5 at New England Patriots
I really like the Ravens, and as I mentioned they were my summer pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. This is a big reason why I didn’t make them my underdog pick, I fear my prior judgement clouds my thinking. Additionally, the Patriots are fresh off their bye week and Deion Branch is more familiar with his new offense than most mid-season acquisitions.
Pick of the Week: 0-1 with -3.5 spread total.
Safe Pick: 1-0 with -7.5 spread total
Spread Pick: 1-0 with -1.5 spread total
Underdog Pick: 1-0 with +2.5 spread total
Thursday, October 14, 2010
by Chris Alan