The race for the "Big Apple" should yield plenty of twists and turns. Buckle in!

The race for the “Big Apple” should yield plenty of twists and turns. Buckle in!

ARIZONA CARDINALS: (5-11) 2013 O/U: 5.5 Will a brutal division offset a new head coach, new philosophy and new QB? Close call. I watched Carson Palmer up close with the Raiders, and the former #1 pick can still spin it. Larry Fitzgerald, enjoy your respite from your recent tortured past. Good enough to win more than 5.5 games? Yes. Good enough to matter from late November on? No. Verdict: OVER.

ATLANTA FALCONS: (13-3) 2013 O/U: 10 Previous playoff failures aside, Matt Ryan is entering a stretch in his career that will produce gaudy stats and plenty of wins. Enjoy the ride, Atlanta. This team is loaded, and SHOULD have been in New Orleans playing Baltimore last February for the Lombardi Trophy. Verdict: OVER.

BALTIMORE RAVENS: (10-6) 2013 O/U: 8.5 Speaking of Baltimore, congrats to a great organization and terrific fan base on an amazing run towards glory. Now, hold on to that feeling when things go awry this season, because they will. Too many injuries and other defections to overcome. Verdict: UNDER

BUFFALO BILLS: (6-10) 2013 O/U: 6.5 The Bills last winning season came in 2004. The perpetual rebuild continues: new HC, new QB’s, etc. I’m rolling Missouri-style when it comes to this team: SHOW ME. They’re intriguing, but until they actually crack thru, I’m not buying anything Bills related. Verdict: UNDER, but close and by all accounts, they’re slowly emerging from the abyss. SHOW ME. 

CAROLINA PANTHERS: (7-9) 2013 O/U: 7 I’m a Cam Newton fan, period. Verdict: Over, 8-8.

CHICAGO BEARS: (10-6) 2013 O/U 8.5 Jay Cutler, meet Marc Trestman. You’re going to like this guy, trust me. Verdict: OVER

CINCINNATI BENGALS: (10-6) 2013 O/U 8.5 On paper, Cincy has as much balance as anyone in the league. Vertical weapons at TE should make life easier for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to connect on some quick strikes. Tough early schedule gives me pause, but this team is still ascending, and they were pretty good last season. Verdict: OVER.

CLEVELAND BROWNS:  (5-11) 2013 O/U 6 See, Buffalo Bills. Verdict: UNDER, but improving.

DALLAS COWBOYS:  (8-8) 2013 O/U: 8.5 New contract, new play-caller…same old Tony Romo? Tough division, and given RG III’s injury and questions for Big Blue on defense, I’m expecting a revival in Big D. Verdict: OVER, but tread lightly.

DENVER BRONCOS: (13-3) 2013 O/U: 11.5 Peyton Manning + Wes Welker + Oakland + San Diego = wins. Verdict: OVER.

DETROIT LIONS: (4-12) 2013 O/U 8 Better balance for Matthew Stafford with Reggie Bush on the scene, allowing more methodical drives, which in theory, should keep the defense off the field more than last season. Last year was a disaster, but clearly, this team has the talent to win double figures. Verdict: OVER, barely. 9-7, 10-6 feels right for this squad. 

Leader of the Pack.

Leader of the Pack.

GREEN BAY PACKERS: (11-5) 2013 O/U: 10.5 Are they getting better or are they beginning to level out? Tough call. This is one I’d probably stay away from given the conflict between my brain and my eyes. The last time I watched this team play, they couldn’t tackle a QB. Granted a very, very fast QB, but a QB nonetheless. They were shredded at the ‘Stick, yet my brain says Aaron Rodgers will once again dominate the regular season. Verdict: Over, with sincere hesitation. Translation: stay away.

HOUSTON TEXANS: (12-4) 2013 O/U: 10.5 Plenty of horses, but last season’s swoon should be reason for slight concern as the Texans dropped 3/4 to close out the regular season. Are you truly a Matt Schaub believer? I’m not. Verdict: UNDER, but close. 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: (11-5) 2013 O/U: 8.5 Seamless transition for Andrew Luck, who never stopped winning after leaving beautiful Palo Alto. However, there were more than a few charitable bounces that Indy cashed in. What happens if they bounce the other way this season? Are they good enough to close the gap. If it’s my money, I’m leaning towards no. Verdict: UNDER.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: (2-14) 2013 O/U: 5 Would you risk a penny on any team with real, legitimate QB concerns? Of course not. Verdict: UNDER, as the Blaine Gabbert “era” officially ends.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: (2-14) 2013 O/U: 7.5 Plenty of talent for Andy Reid, and Alex Smith should stabilize the circus that emerged under center last season. How bad was Matt Cassel? Wow. As long as they don’t ask Smith to shoulder too much, the Chiefs should be much improved. I watched Smith mature with my own eyes in the Bay Area, and while I recognize some obvious physical limitations, he’s smart and tough. Exactly what this franchise needs right now. Verdict: OVER, Wild-Card threat in AFC.

MIAMI DOLPHINS: (7-9) 2013 O/U 8 Very, very tough call. All summer I’ve positioned Miami as a Wild-Card threat in the AFC, but O-line issues might be too big to overcome. One thing working for Miami (aside from a fair amount of talent) is the dearth of talent in their own division. They should bag enough wins to push the number past 8. I’m sticking with my instincts here. Verdict: OVER

MINNESOTA VIKINGS: (10-6) 2013 O/U: 7.5 I could be wrong, but the 2012 Vikes felt and looked like a team that somehow stumbled upon 10 wins. While that might be unfair and a 2.5 drop in wins represents a radical twist, I think they are “capable” enough to do just that. Verdict: UNDER, not sold at all. 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: (12-4) 2013 O/U: 11 I’ll just save everyone the trouble: it’s over. The league has changed quite a bit since ’05, the last time the Pats hoisted the big one. Respect Brady immensely, and they should once again win the division, but the erosion is obvious. Why is everyone so afraid to say it? Prediction: UNDER, 10-6.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: (7-9) 2013 O/U: 9 They won 7 games without Sean Payton, which means they’ll win at least 2 more with Sean Payton. Love the fact that it’s an even 9. I like this play quite a bit. Prediction: OVER.

NEW YORK GIANTS: (9-7) 2013 O/U: 9 I like the fact that the 9 stands alone here as .5 would probably force me to go the other way. Terrific coaching, team pride and QB play should push the number north of 9. If not, a push looks more likely than a loss here. This team always bounces back under Coughlin. Right? Verdict: OVER. I think.

NEW YORK JETS: (6-10) 2013 O/U: 6.5 I like the Jets defense quite a bit and if Chris Ivory stays healthy, along with Bilal Powell they should be able to run the ball with enough efficiency to surprise a few teams. The sooner Mark Sanchez disappears, the better. Is Geno Smith the real deal? Regardless, an overall dearth of talent at the skill positions makes this offense pedestrian, at best. Verdict: OVER, BARELY (or complete implosion)

OAKLAND RAIDERS: (4-12) 2013 O/U: 5.5 GM Reggie McKenzie is gutting the roster, and understandably so. Things are real bad in Oakland. By deleting bloated contracts and underachieving, lazy veterans the cupboards will slowly fill with hungry, viable NFL talent. The question is, will Dennis Allen be around to enjoy the fruits of his GM’s purge? My gut says no. This team is terrible.  Al Davis was lost for a decade, and it shows. Verdict: UNDER

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: (4-12) 2013 O/U: 7.5 By early October, Chip Kelly will be reaching into his own pocket, hoping to book Bowling Green for a layup win. Tough camp for Philly as injuries and Riley Cooper’s stupidity have dominated the NovaCare Complex. Who’s playing QB, by the way? Verdict: UNDER

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: (8-8) 2013 O/U: 9 I want to respect the logo, they’ve earned it. The Raven’s stumble could open the door for a revival in Pittsburgh, and at the very least, inspires enough to lay a little wood on the Steel Dawgs. Verdict: OVER, barely.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: (7-9) 2013 O/U: 7.5 What the heck happened to Phillip Rivers’ career? He should rebound, but not enough to invest any real coin in the Bolts. Tough call. Verdict: UNDER

Less posing minus Crabtree?

Less posing minus Crabtree?

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: (11-4-1) 2013 O/U: 11 They’ll miss Crabtree and Dashon Goldson, but Jim Harbaugh is a brilliant head coach, and he has a great locker room. This team loves football, and has strong interior play on both sides of the ball. Love Kaepernick, but Boldin’s odometer is running high and the division is getting better. They desperately need a young WR to emerge. Verdict: UNDER, but a playoff lock and viable threat for the title. 10-6 sounds right.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: (11-5) 2013 O/U: 10.5 Last time Seattle played the 49ers, they beat them to a bloody pulp. It’s the kind of loss that empowers one franchise and possibly raises question for another. Another playoff lock, I think they edge out SF for the division by a game. Verdict: OVER, legit.

ST. LOUIS RAMS: (7-8-1) 2013 O/U: 7.5 Ignore the sub-500 mark from 2012 for a moment, as it doesn’t tell the entire story. This team improved as the year progressed, and oh yeah, by the way, also had the best divisional record: 4-1-1. Sam Bradford remains the key, but Fisher will have this team ready to roll after laying the foundation last season. Ascending. Verdict: OVER.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: (7-9) 2013 O/U: 7.5 Interesting offseason for Tampa, as Greg Schiano and ownership drew a line in the sand for Josh Freeman: it’s time. I like Freeman, always have, and think he responds nicely. Improved field position courtesy of a revamped secondary will help. I’m buying the Bucs. Verdict: OVER, and playoffs.

TENNESSEE TITANS: (6-10)  2013 O/U: 6.5 Aggressive play by Tennessee in FA tilts the needle in the right direction, and given the small bump in wins, I’m inclined to roll the dice and push the number to 7, possibly 8. They’re not as bad as most people position them to be. Verdict: OVER, barely.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS: (10-6) 2013: 8.5 RG III is great for football, and like everyone else, I’m rooting for a quick and full recovery for the second year star from Baylor. That knee, however, has been problematic for quite some time. When it comes to green, I’m rolling with my head over emotion and sentiment and I’m simply not convinced he’ll hold up for the  duration of the season. Plenty of holes on the roster. Verdict: UNDER

*Team record from 2012 in ( ), followed by updated Vegas Over/Under projected win totals in ’13.

***If you take this too seriously, you’re insane.


BT’s “6 pack of picks” Version 8.0

Week 8

Week 1: 4-2 ATS

Week 2: 4-1-1 ATS

Week 3: 3-3 ATS

Week 4: 3-3 ATS

Week 5: 4-2 ATS

Week 6: 2-3-1 ATS

Week 7: 4-2 ATS

Season to date: 24-16-1 ATS

Week 8: (home team in CAPS)

BALTIMORE RAVENS (-12.5) over  Arizona Cardinals: Ray Lewis is angry. The Cardinals are bad. And soft. Advantage Ravens, big. I actually fear for Kevin Kolb’s safety.

Give the man some respect!

NEW YORK GIANTS (-9.5) over Miami Dolphins: Lost in the glow of the “Tim Tebow Show” last Sunday in Miami, this just in: Miami is brutal. Oh yeah, quietly, the Giants remain in the thick of things in the NFC, leading Philly and Dallas by a game for the top spot in the division. Eli Manning has been terrific, connecting for 11 TD’s against only 5 INT’s. His QB rating of 101.1 currently ranks top 5 in football. Miami is hopeless, and the Giants will step on them early and often. Destruction.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS  (-9) over Cleveland Browns: I went from not giving Jim Harbaugh’s crew enough credit early on, to perhaps giving them too much credit here. 9 points for the (at times) offensively-challenged Niners is dangerous, until you consider just how anemic the Browns have been lately. Peyton Hillis remains banged up, and the depth chart will get a test on Sunday, with injuries to WR and TE. This much I know: San Fran’s D is legit. Lay the points.

(Monday Night) San Diego Chargers @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS OVER 44: The Bolts average 24 points per game, and really, Phillip Rivers has been…bad. That’s not going to last very long, and this looks like a spot for him to bust out in a big way. Mix in Dwayne Bowe and his big play ability on the other side, and 44 points seems very, very attainable.

CAROLINA PANTHERS (-3.5) over Minnesota Vikings: Simply put, I don’t (yet) trust Christian Ponder away from the friendly confines of his home dome, and I trust him even less with a gimpy Adrian Peterson behind him. I do expect AP to suit up despite being limited in practice late in the week, but I don’t expect much on the stat sheet. Even in the NFL, needles only go so far. Jam with Cam!

Grab it!

Cincinnati Bengals (-3) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Few people know it, and even fewer people say it, but by every viable metric, Cincy has a top 10 defense: total points allowed, points per game against, total yards allowed, etc. Mix in the fact that Seattle simply can’t score (27th ppg), and I’ll take my chances. Even in Seattle, and the 12th man elements.

The “Suck for Luck” Race…

Welcome! Please just wipe your feet before kicking our ass, thanks.

Simply put, you won’t find a better scouting report. From top to bottom, every physical trait grades out like a perfect SAT score, every intangible, tougher to quantify, but praised nonetheless.

If your franchise is in need of a facelift, Andrew Luck is your man.

Quite frankly, he may be the best prospect in team sports, ever.

Here’s what he does well:

Arm Strength, Quick Release, Durability, Tough and Tenacious, Size, Learning Rate, Football IQ, Awareness, Intangibles, Pinpoint Accuracy, Pocket Passer, Play Action Passer, Scrambler, Throws on the Run Well, Field General, 1 Step Drop, Makes Proper Progression Reads with the 1 Step Drop, 3 Step Drop, Makes Proper Progression Reads with the 3 Step Drop, 5 Step Drop, Makes Proper Progression Reads with the 5 Step Drop, 7 Step Drop, Short Passing Game Mechanics, Medium Passing Game Mechanics, High Character, Tireless Work Ethic, Fiery Motivator, Composure, Clutch Factor, Production, Potential.

Here’s what he needs to work on: NOTHING.

Losers, start your engines!

Ready, set…go!

28. Miami Dolphins- Good news for Tony Sparano: when this season mercifully comes to an end, he’ll be in prime position to serve as a mafia lackey in some two-bit movie, or he’ll ease right into the world of infomercials peddling BluBlockers at 3:17 in the morning. One thing he won’t be doing is coaching this team next season. They’re not terrible, but they’re already 0-2 and with the Bills much improved, this season has 5 wins stamped all over it. No way he survives that.

No kidding.

29. Minnesota Vikings- Sadly for the Vikes, this is one race they want to win, but won’t. Not with Adrian Peterson in his prime, abusing LB’ers in the open field. They’ll squeeze out just enough highlights to keep things somewhat respectable, even pull off an upset or two–keeping them on the outside looking in for # 12.

30. Indianapolis Colts- To say the offense has sputtered minus Peyton Manning is being kind. They simply suck. Even worse, the defense has decayed to the point where it’s an obvious weakness. This unit is accustomed to playing with the lead, pinning it’s ears back, and attacking QB’s. This year, they’re being lulled into trench battles, and getting pushed around every snap. Peyton Manning hid so many deficiencies, it’s scary.

31. Seattle Seahawks- Not only are they wretched, but they’re faceless, too. Besides Tarvaris Jackson, can you name a single starter? OK, maybe you vaguely remember Mike Williams’s renaissance season of ’10, but here’s the ultimate indictment for any NFL team: not a single player was drafted from their roster for my fantasy league. And there’s 12 teams. Unwatchable. Great stadium, brutal tenants.

32. Kansas City Chiefs-  How in the world did these jokers win the AFC West last season? It started poorly, and it’s getting worse. KC has been outscored 89-10 thus far, and Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry are lost for the season. Did they sit around and do keg stands and bong hits in training camp? Because it sure doesn’t look as if they touched a field at any point. Embarrassing.

Honorable mention, San Francisco 49’ers- If not for a gift from the schedule-makers in Week 1 (Seattle), Jim Harbaugh’s crew might very well be on this list. Yes, they were very competitive against Dallas, but in a passing league, they lack two key ingredients: a passer and receivers. I’ve already sounded the “Frank Gore” alarm in the Bay Area. 42 carries, 2.5 YPC. Not good.


Week 1: 4-2 ATS

Week 2: 4-1-1 ATS

Year to date: 8-3-1

Week 3 picks: Friday morning

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