Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surviving in a Suicide League - Week 8

By Chris Alan

By the time the Ravens and Bills were playing in overtime last week I was rooting for Buffalo to pull off the upset and make me a 2008 Detroit Lions-esq perfect 0-4 in my picks. Personally I think it was a horrible call by the refs to allow a ball carrier to be picked up from the ground, carried backwards and get stripped from the ball. Or maybe I just don’t understand the point of forward progress, but either way I pulled out my first Pick of the Week win. Off to Vegas I go.

In previous years I could at least convince myself that I knew what was going on, but at least no one else seems to know what direction most teams are heading in this topsy turvy year for the NFL. Last week the only team to outscore the Kansas City Chiefs were the Oakland Raiders. Amazing.

Last year the Saints take away stats were an anomaly, but it seems hard to pin their offensive collapse on the loss of Reggie Bush. The 49ers loss can at least be pinned on Alex Smith getting knocked out of the game. Watching the Eagles collapse toward the end of the game was heartbreaking, made me cry a little on the inside, but their bye week comes at the perfect time. Michael Vick will return to form, and DeSean Jackson should be recovered from his concussion.

I bet Eli wishes the Manning Bowl came later in the season. The Giants are on a roll and are making a solid case to be tops in the NFC, while the Colts losing Dallas Clark for the season is devastating. Oh well, he’ll get another shot in 4 years.

Interesting note, every single home team is favorited this week, though San Francisco’s “home” game in London doesn’t really count. Very weird, or maybe Vegas just got lazy.

Philosophical Riddle of the week: If Brett Favre misses a game does he still earn a million dollars?

Pick of the Week: New England Patriots -6.5 hosting Minnesota Vikings
The Patriots have a regular season home game winning streak going back to 2008, and they’re playing at the top of their game. The Vikings have not yet won on the road this season. Additionally, the Patriots remaining non-division home games this season are against the Colts and Packers. Their rivalry with the Colts makes that a dangerous game to call, the Jets are probably the only team that hates the Patriots more. The Packers closed out last season hot and are better than the Vikings. There are no other home games to hold on to the Patriots for, play them now if you have them. They do play the Browns, Lions and Bears on the road, but I shy away from away games whenever possible.
Confidence level: 4 out of 5.

Safe Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -7.5 hosting Buffalo Bills
From what I saw, the Bills played solid against the Ravens and if they’re able to shake off their loss they could steal this game. I’m going to follow the latest chick pick and give the Chiefs a likely playoff berth before mid-season. Kansas City was lucky enough to draw the NFC West this year, but that gets evened out by playing the AFC South. I’m projecting a 4-4 record from those 8 games. 3-1 against the NFC West where they’ve already beaten San Francisco, and 1-3 against the AFC South where they’re currently 1-2 with a game against Tennessee remaining. Anyway, Arrowhead Stadium is notorious for being a hard place for visitors and the Chiefs are currently undefeated there this season.
Confidence level: 3.5 out of 5.

Spread Pick: Oakland Raiders -2.5 hosting Seattle Seahawks
There are 8 games with a 3.5 point spread or less. All of them are tossups. My number one reason for picking this game is why not. Additionally, Oakland is 2-1 at home while Seattle is 1-2 on the road. Oakland is finally playing with spirit and will go all out.
Confidence level: 3 out of 5.

Underdog Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers +1.5 at New Orleans Saints
I’m surprised the Steelers are the underdog here, would have expected them to be favorites by a tiny margin. After starting 2-0 the Saints have alternated loses and wins. And, as I mentioned, maybe Vegas just got lazy this week. I can’t wait for week 15 when the Steelers host the Jets to see which team is tops in the AFC, but right here, right now, the Steelers are better than any NFC team, including the reigning champs.
Confidence level: 3 out of 5.

Side Notes:
With so many close spreads, there are multiple underdog picks one could make. I like the Redskins over the Lions in a grunge fest rematch from their embarrassment last year. The Broncos should “upset” the 49ers in London even if Alex Smith played, which he’s not. Miami is undefeated on the road while the Bengals are less than stellar this year.

As for the favorites, dear San Diego, please show me why you’re ranked number one in both defense and offense this week. Your statistical anomaly of a season is making my brain hurt. But, at the same time, please don’t sneak into the playoffs once again, I’m tired of that story line. I’m rooting for either Kansas City or Oakland to win the division, and am hoping it comes down to their matchup in week 17. However, I’m not as sold on the Raiders and am worried Chiefs will have a win and in game with a loss giving the Chargers a back door entry into the playoffs without paying the cover charge.

Pick of the Week: 1-2 with -24.5 spread total: Texans(5-L), Bears (6-L), Ravens (7-W)
Safe Pick: 2-1 with -31.2 spread total
Spread Pick: 2-1 with -8.5 spread total
Underdog Pick: 1-2 with +7.5 spread total

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