Version 2.0

While the Vikes stumbled in Motown, the season picks up steam as we zoom into Week 2.

After encountering a speed bump last week in Motown, the Vikes will be looking to gain speed Sunday in a divisional bloodbath vs the Bears.

Last week: 4-2 ATS

Season to date: 4-2 ATS

Week 2 picks: (home team in CAPS)

Tennessee Titans and HOUSTON TEXANS OVER 43: Sure, the Texans were handed a gift due to an incorrect interpretation of a new rule designed to protect the long-snapper. But they were good enough to cash in and squeeze out a prime-time road win, no easy chore at this level. It’s the type of win that galvanizes a team early in the season. The revamped Titans are interesting, so expect something in the neighborhood of 27-17, just enough to push the number north and you into the winner’s circle.

Even his harshest critics can't deny Romo's toughness.

Even his harshest critics can’t deny Romo’s toughness.

Dallas Cowboys (+3) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: I picked Dallas to win the NFC East, and this is exactly the type of game they must grab if they have any intentions of reversing recent swoons. Can they handle prosperity after finally beating the Giants in Jerry’s new palace? KC rolled in a laugher last week vs hapless Jacksonville, so it’s tough to truly quantify any progress thus far under Andy Reid. While I think KC has the makings of a WC contender in the weaker AFC, this is a game Dallas scraps out. Barely. Will they commit to the run? Romo’s rib injury could be a blessing in disguise as they win the battle of the trenches. Fun game, roll with the ‘Boys.

New Orleans Saints (-3) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Alert! Alert! Franchise in distress! Anarchy on the horizon! If you think that’s a stretch, clearly you haven’t followed the early soap opera follies of Greg Schiano’s Bucs. The former franchise QB losing his captaincy after three years? The same QB reportedly missing a team picture? Players only meetings? A hideous loss to the Jets? Yup. Oh yeah, they’re playing the Saints who for the record, are back to being the Saints. Capitalize on a bad situation that appears destined to get worse. Saints, big.

Carolina Panthers and BUFFALO BILLS UNDER 44: The Panthers were game in a narrow home loss to Seattle last week while the Bills were pinched ostensibly at the gun by the Pats. Despite flashing in his debut, expect Doug Marrone to play it safe with rookie QB E.J. Manuel. That, coupled with a dearth of explosive weapons for Cam Newton to utilize,  should add up to a relatively low scoring game that keeps this one below the number.

Denver Broncos and NEW YORK GIANTS OVER 54.5: One Manning equals a lot of points, two Mannings equals a ton of points. The game plan? Lace up the Nike’s and air it out from the coin flip. Over!

CINCINNATI BENGALS (-6.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers: Ordinarily, I would be reticent to roll with such a high number in a divisional showdown, but the Bengals are by far the superior team. Forget history and pride, this is a mismatch. Treat it as such. The energy of the home opener coupled  with the sting of a tough loss in Chicago against a solid Bears team will have the jungle in a frenzy. Big Ben will be on the run all night behind a ravaged front five, and without much help in the backfield, a hungry and athletic Cincy defense will be salivating.

Advertisements

And they’re (almost) off!

AFC East

Still the man, but for how much longer?

Still the man, but for how much longer?

1. New England Patriots (11-5) Brady’s arm, strong running game and elite coaching enables Pats to feast on shallow division once more.

2. Miami Dolphins (8-8) Improving, but porous O-line could derail season. Liked this team a lot more in July.

3. Buffalo Bills (5-11) You want to believe, but where’s the evidence?

4. New York Jets (4-12) The circus is already underway. Dig in, Jets fans. 

AFC North

Absolute beast, and only getting better.

Absolute beast, and only getting better.

1. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) Most talented roster in AFC must take the next step: playoff success. I’m confident they will.

2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7) Proud champions will not go as quietly as some think.

3. Cleveland Browns (7-9) Ascending, but not fast enough. Still, the Brownies could catch a few quality teams napping.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-10) Descending, but proud. The logo stands for something, always has. Will it be enough to avoid the basement?

AFC South

Year 2 of the "Luck Era."

Year 2 of the “Luck Era.”

1. Houston Texans (11-5) Plenty of divisional wins in forecast, but how far can you truly ride Schaub? Not sold.

2. Indianapolis Colts (9-7) Luck’s efficiency improves, while the overall W/L record takes a baby step back.

3. Tennessee Titans (7-9) The absolute definition of irrelevant: good enough to avoid # 1 overall pick talk, nowhere near good enough to further the conversation toward anything pertinent.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) Yikes. Hello, blackouts. Again.

AFC West

Plenty of regular season wins, but plenty of January blemishes for Peyton.

Plenty of regular season wins and plenty of January blemishes for Peyton.

1. Denver Broncos (11-5) I like Denver, but not nearly as much as others. Good team, but far from dominant. Could be bumpy at points, particularly the first 5-6 weeks.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) Andy Reid slowly cleans up the stench from last season as Alex Smith dinks and dunks KC to a winning record. Barely.

3. San Diego Chargers (7-9) Crossroads for Rivers, which way will he turn? Very tough team to gauge. Show me.

4. Oakland Raiders (2-14) Pryor adds intrigue, but the trenches are pitiful. Overall dearth of talent leads to another coaching change in Oakland. This team is B-A-D.

NFC East

No greater unknown in the NFL. Is he ready?

No greater unknown in the NFL. Is he truly ready?

1. Dallas Cowboys (10-6) I’ve played this game before and been burned. But really, working in definitive terms, who’s better?

2. Washington Redskins (9-7) It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure.

3. New York Giants (8-8) Poor LB’er play and decaying pass rush will force Eli to win shootouts every week. He’s good, but he’s not that good. Let’s be honest: he was spotty last year.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-11) I believe in Chip Kelly, just not immediately.

NFC North

Will the leader of the Pack once again lead his team to a divisional crown?

Will the leader of the Pack once again lead his team to a divisional crown?

1. Green Bay Packers (10-6) Defense was sliced up at the ‘Stick last January. Good team, but not a lock for divisional supremacy. 

2. Chicago Bears (9-7) If Cutler clicks with his new HC, this division goes thru the Windy City.

3. Detroit Lions (8-8) Bush helps, but there’s something about this team…not sold.

4. Minnesota Vikings (6-10) Playoffs last season, this season, not so much.

NFC South

Truly elite?

Truly elite? I believe so. Matty “Ice” has arrived.

1. Atlanta Falcons (11-5) Class of an interesting division. Championship balance?

2.  New Orleans Saints (10-6) Welcome back, Sean Payton. Welcome back, playoffs.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) How will Freeman respond? Is Revis 100% healthy? Is Schiano the right man for this job? Lots of questions, are there enough answers? Could go either way.

4. Carolina Panthers (7-9) Exciting, but flawed.

NFC West

Flip a coin for divisional supremacy.

Flip a coin.

1. Seattle Seahawks (12-4) Super Bowl talent, athleticism and depth. Best team in the NFC.

2. San Francisco 49ers (10-6) Second best team in football’s best division. Love Kaepernick, but he’ll miss Crabtree. Secondary issues, too.

3. St. Louis Rams (8-8) They’re coming, but in all probability, remain a year away. Still, buckle that chin strap when Fisher’s team rolls in.

4. Arizona Cardinals (6-10) With a little luck, the Cards might hang around into December. Can Patrick Peterson make an impact at WR? Bruce Arians inherits decent talent in the desert.

Coinage!

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

Maintaining Jedi-like focus during World Series nuttiness has proven difficult for many mere mortals in the Bay. Lucky for you, my middle name is Obi, nickname Wan.

Let’s blast Week 8, Solo-style, shall we?

Season to date: 23-18-1 ATS

Last week: 5-1 ATS

Week 8 picks: (home team in CAPS)

New Orleans Saints (+6) over DENVER BRONCOS: Work this sizable line to your favor and bank on a solid effort from a decaying but still proud team getting nearly a full TD. Strap in for a shootout in Mile High, and while there’s a pretty good chance the home team emerges with the “W,” Brees and the Saints keep it tight and secure a cover.

NEW YORK JETS (-2.5) over Miami Dolphins: Plenty of smack hitting the walls leading up to this one, which suits Rex Ryan’s squad just fine. New York rewarded me two weeks ago by blasting the Colts and also handled their business against the Pats, easily covering a double digit number. I like Ryan Tannehill, and Miami is improving, but the Jets get this one at the gun, and cover the number yet again.

ST. LOUIS RAMS (+7) over New England Patriots: I’m banking on the Giselle’s stumbling into some late-night, off-the-radar drug-feuled orgy bash in London tonight, which should lead to a tired and uncharacteristically sloppy Tommy B on Sunday. It’s the only way I’m able to rationalize this pick, quite frankly. Just a gut play, nothing more. Move along.

Carolina Panthers and CHICAGO BEARS UNDER 43.5: The Bears are very good, the Carolina Panthers are not. Even worse, their freakishly gifted QB has some serious body language and leadership issues. Not good. Bears put the squeeze down on D, keeping this one under en route to the win.

Just because.

DALLAS COWBOYS and New York Giants over 47.5: These games in Big D are always fun and usually involve plenty of  4th quarter fireworks. Unfortunately for Dallas, Eli is almost always the one holding the match and the fuse. This game has 50+ points written all over it. Roll with the over kids.

TENNESSEE TITANS (-3.5) over Indianapolis Colts: Soft Colts run defense + rejuvenated Chris Johnson = tough day for Indy on the road.

BT’s “6 pack of picks” Version 6.0

Only a matter of time kids…

Riding high after consecutive 4-2 weeks ATS, pushing my season record above the break even point for the first time in ’12.

Lucky for you, I plan on staying there.

Was considering an additional play of over/under 2.5 K’s for A-Rod tonight, but quite frankly, I’m not even sure if he plays. Sit him, Joe!

Good luck, and remember: never up, never in.

Last week: 4-2

Season to date: 15-13-1

Week 6 picks: (home team in CAPS)

Cincinnati Bengals -2 over CLEVELAND BROWNS: The relatively small number is simply too inviting to pass up given the current state of the Browns defense. Cleveland ranks 29th in total yards allowed per game (423) and have been lit up to the tune of nearly 30 points per game. After tripping vs Miami, Andy Dalton and AJ Green absolutely need to cash in, and they’ll do just that, on the road.

NEW YORK JETS -3 over Indianapolis Colts: Despite heavy criticism, I rode Gang Green last week against the Houston Texans, and was rewarded nicely on the national stage. This week, I’m flipping to a different chapter from the same psychological playbook as the Jets extend their season with a win at home. While the Jets lack the talent to win the division, some proud holdovers remain from recent back to back AFC Championship Game teams. The Colts conversely, are rebuilding and understandably emotionally spent after fighting so hard last week for their ailing head coach. New York wins ugly, covering the 3 spot in the process. 

Redemption?

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers -6.5 over New York Giants: Last season, the better team represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Giants were more diverse and explosive on offense and pounced on the Niners offensive limitations (and uncharacteristic mistakes). The script has changed. The 49ers run the ball with great proficiency and Alex Smith continues to evolve with more weapons on the perimeter. Colin Kaepernick is a dangerous wrinkle for Jim Harbaugh, while the defense handles the rest. Mix in a some O-line issues for the Giants and Hakeem Nicks’ injury, and the Giants fall hard Sunday in the Bay. Revenge.

Denver Broncos and SAN DIEGO CHARGERS over 49.5: Both teams allow a fair amount of yards and are vulnerable to the big play, which strongly appeals to the over in what should be a fun shootout between Manning and Rivers. Cha-ching!

ATLANTA FALCONS -9 over Oakland Raiders: For most teams, the bye week is a terrific opportunity to regenerate  and reposition for a lengthy stretch run. For the Raiders, it was merely a brief respite from getting pummeled. The Raiders have a lot of work to do, and it doesn’t get any easier here. The comfy confines of the Georgia Dome along with a fast track makes this a nightmare for an Oakland secondary pieced together with spit and tape. If Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline had their way in Week 2 (35-13 Miami win), what happens here? Laying 9 points is always unsettling, but in this case, it shouldn’t be. Mismatch.

St. Louis Rams + 3.5 over MIAMI DOLPHINS: As expected, Jeff Fisher’s team is growing more efficient in small increments and improving weekly. Very quietly the Rams are riding the wave of a hot streak winning 3 of 4, including consecutive division wins over Seattle and Arizona. Expect a low scoring game in South Beach decided by 3 points either way, which makes the extra .5 very appealing. Follow this line over the weekend, as a Money Line play could provide nice value if you like the Rams as much as I do here.

BT’s “6 pack of picks” Version 5.0

Admittedly, I was concerned.

For the first few weeks of the NFL season, I had about as much control over my picks as Jim Lehrer  had during Wednesday’s Presidential Debate: none.

I was in a slump, trying to mechanically fight my out of it, rather than simply trusting my instincts.

Lucky for you, the back of my baseball card is pretty good.

At the end of the day, you just have to tee it up, let ‘er fly, and deal with the consequences.

I’m back in the short stuff.

Last week: 4-2

Season to date: 11-12-1

Week 5 picks: (home team in CAPS)

Chicago Bears -4.5 over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS After Monday’s beat down in Big D, the Bears roll into Jacksonville winners of 3 of  4 with a chance to cash in against a spotty team with an apathetic fan base. The Jags are dead last in sacks, getting to the QB just twice thus far. That means one thing: less pressure on Jay Cutler, ensuring that “Good” Jay shows up and leads the team to a relatively stress-free win.

Cleveland Browns +8.5 over NEW YORK GIANTS I’ve seen the Giants choke on this type of number numerous times over the past decade or so. The Giants are the better team and should find a way to pull it out in the end. However, the Cleveland’s defense, Trent Richardson and some key NYG injuries make it way too risky to lay a touchdown plus. Give me the Brownies to cover the number.

Legend vs. Legend

Denver Broncos and NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS over 51.5 Honestly, I’m far from convinced that Peyton Manning’s arm strength has returned  as much as so many talking heads yakked about this week. If they actually watched the game, rather than being fooled by the numbers, they would know that precious few of those 30 completions traveled very far in the air. The Broncs were aided by an embarrassing Raiders defense, making Peyton look better than he actually was. Still, these two iconic QB’s should find a way to shine enough to tilt the number over. Barely.

CINCINNATI BENGALS -3 over Miami Dolphins: Nice matchup of two very talented, young QB’s. Lucky for Andy Dalton, his WR’s are simply more advanced and explosive than Ryan Tannehill’s weapons. Add it all up, and the Bengals pick up win # 4 on the year. If you’re concerned with the cover, buying .5 point should quell those fears. With a small spread, take the better team at home every time.

NEW YORK JETS + 8 over Houston Texans: By no means am I fooled or leaning toward this pick with my heart. This one is pure business. The Jets are brutal, and it’s only going to get worse. Without Revis and Holmes (and a running game, and a natural pass rush, and an accurate QB and…) the season is absolutely over. However, every proud dog has his day, and with the entire nation watching, the Jets rally, ride emotion, and find a way to stick around and lose late. But they cover.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS and Buffalo Bills over 44.5: Bills have to be a bit demoralized after squandering a 21-7 home lead last week against the Pats, while the Niners are pumped to return to home turf after a lengthy two week roadie. The crowd will be howling and the defense greased up, which should lead to a few Ryan Fitzpatrick miscues. Short fields = points, while points = OVERS.

 

BT’s “6 pack of picks” Version 4.0

Baby steps.

While the Steelers late nap in Oakland robbed me of a momentum-building 4-2 week, at this point, I will settle for 3-3. The Jets and Chiefs rewarded my faith, while the Redskins and Bengals combined to nail the over in the Nation’s Capital. Took a flier on the Rams in Chicago and was rightfully burned, and while the Ravens knocked off the Pats, they failed to cover the number. That’s .500 in any language, folks.

Before diving into this week’s picks, how about a hearty “Welcome back!” to the zebras. You were sorely missed.

Last week: 3-3

Season to date: 7-10-1

Week 4 picks (home team in CAPS)

New England Patriots (-4) over BUFFALO BILLS: Injuries have ravaged the backfield for the boys from Western New York, leaving them one-dimensional against the mad scientist. Advantage, Pats. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled mightily in this rivalry, combining for 11 INT’s in his last 4 games against NE. If Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller were healthy, the line and the outcome might very well be different. If. I like the Pats to pull away on the road.

San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) over NEW YORK JETS UNDER 41.5: Interesting stat on Alex Smith: Of the NFL’s 32 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 30 passes, only Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick has attempted fewer of at least 20 yards than Smith. Minus Revis Island, you would imagine that changes on Sunday in New Jersey. The Jets don’t run the ball well against average defenses, let alone stout, disciplined ones like SF. The Niners are very good and very focused following last week’s head scratcher in Minny. Not a good look for a Jets team with 7-9, 8-8 written all over it. By the way, who exactly covers Vernon Davis? Ugggggh.

New Orleans Saints (+7.5) over GREEN BAY PACKERS:  No, I do not think the Saints rebound from such a dreadful start. They are cooked. I do, however, see enough cracks in GB’s armor to take the touchdown plus, hope for an early Drew Brees score and pray that they are able to hang on. Proud, experienced teams usually go down swinging, and I’m hoping Brees and the offense have a few haymakers in reserve to reward this play.

Oakland Raiders and DENVER BRONCOS OVER 48.5: Is it rust, or is this simply the new Peyton Manning? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle, and he should improve as he gains chemistry and familiarity with his new ‘mates. The Raiders secondary, while game down the stretch vs Pitt, remains a week-to-week issue and is in for a long season. They simply lack the horses to keep things in the high teens. However, I like what I saw from Carson Palmer last week, and a 64 yard scoot from RUN DMC should keep the box stacked, opening things up downfield. Fun game, shootout. Enjoy.

Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: The Jags are always dangerous because MJD is capable of exploding for 150 + against anyone in the league. That threat alone makes this one, on the surface, a bit of a risky play. However, Jacksonville’s defense ranks 28th in the NFL, which means AJ Green could flirt with 2 bills on the day. I viewed Cincy as a playoff team in August and I view them as a playoff team entering October. Playoff teams find ways to win games like this.

Washington Redskins and TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS OVER 47.5: Tough to ignore certain trends, and on this one, I’m working the numbers to my advantage. The ‘Skins average 33 ppg and the Bucs average 20. Add it up, and ding, we have a winner. Defensively, Washington allows 33.7 ppg while Schiano’s crew allows 22.3 ppg. Add it up, and ding, we have a winner. Or at least, we should have a winner.

 

BT’s “6 pack of picks” Version 2.0

Pleading for civility in Week 2. Yeah, right!

Week 1: 2-4 ATS

Season to date: 2-4

Week 2: (home team in CAPS)

CINCINNATI BENGALS (-6.5) over Cleveland Browns: Simply put, I like the ingredients at play in this one. An angry team with playoff pedigree coming off an embarrassing loss on national TV, in their home opener, against a terrible Browns team with an overmatched rookie QB under center. Yes, Andy Dalton took some licks on Monday night, but he’s young, and good, and should bounce back in a big way.

Baltimore Ravens (+2) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Speaking of nationally televised beat downs, how impressive did the Ravens look in Week 1? Wow. The Eagles, on paper, have enough weapons to certainly keep this close, and maybe even steal one, so tread lightly. However, the more I watch Philly, the less I like them. It’s pretty obvious, something is missing, and the Ravens, look more than capable of exploiting it.

What exactly is Michael Vick at this point in his career?

NEW YORK GIANTS (-7) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Plenty of issues in the secondary, but the Lombardi Trophy still resides in New Jersey. I think Big Blue takes a step back this year, and has intermittent struggles throughout, but all things considered, this simply can’t be one of them if they have any plans of defending their belt. 24-13 sounds about right.

Oakland Raiders (-2.5) over MIAMI DOLPHINS: Lost in the comedy of special teams errors Monday Night against the Chargers was the fact that the Raiders defense actually played pretty well (Tommy Kelly aside). High-flying WR Denarius Moore returns in a limited role, which should open things up for Carson Palmer. Once that happens, RUN DMC takes over in a big way. The Raiders are touting this as a must win game. They get it.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Dallas is well rested and quite frankly, this is the type of game that could ultimately shape their season and playoff seeding in January. Seattle rates among the toughest venues in the NFL, but with a spruced up secondary, a healthy running game and big game weapons on the perimeter, look for Romo and company to emerge with an impressive double digit victory. If Dallas can’t jump on a rookie QB, are they really the threat most people think they are?

Denver Broncos / ATLANTA FALCONS over 51: Sit back, relax, grab your favorite snack and beverage, and enjoy the explosiveness of the modern day NFL. This one has 34-31 written all over it.

AFC Preview

The race is on!

 

EAST

1. New England Patriots: (11-5) Tom Brady and his small army of game-changing tight ends and core of receivers will once again light up the scoreboard, and while I like their defensive draft picks, the aura is slowly eroding in Foxboro. The Pats are good, and remain the class of a strange division, but I don’t like this team as much as others do. They’ll win double digit games, but big picture, are very vulnerable. This very well could be their last “great” season for a while.

2. Buffalo Bills: (10-6) It’s been a while since the pride of Western New York has had a legitimate chance at stealing the spotlight from their downstate neighbors, and that’s about to end. The Bills will run the heck out of it, and have enough perimeter weapons to cash in when opponents stuff the box. Mario Williams was a massive addition, one that propels the Bills into the playoffs.

3. New York Jets: (6-10) Strap in, this will get ugly. Tebow will keep it interesting, but offensively, the Jets have zero vertical weapons coupled with a below average running attack. While the defense will be good, this team lacks the necessary poise, leadership and maturity to navigate what promises to be a bumpy season for Gang Green. Does Rex lose complete control?

4. Miami Dolphins: (3-13) It’s never fun hitting the reset button, as  Miami is clearly doing, but in this case, it’s absolutely imperative. Slowly but surely, Joe Philbin will rebuild this organization the most effective way: from the inside out. It will eventually pay dividends…by about 2015.

NORTH

1. Baltimore Ravens: (12-4) The best team did not represent the AFC in last year’s Super Bowl, thanks to a 22 yard shank-job by Billy Cundiff. The Ravens are too well-coached , too balanced, and too hungry to let that happen again. Top to bottom, this is the class of the conference, even without Suggs for the first 6 games.

2. Cincinnati Bengals: (10-6) This young, ascending group will jump over the aging Steelers and they will do so by early November, for good. To hell with history, I like the QB, the defense, and at the end of the day, I like this team. They’ll be playing in January for the second consecutive season.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers: (9-7) The swoon has set in. If you examine last season’s finish, the warning signs were evident: smoked in San Francisco 20-3, with a pair of cosmetic wins against doormats St. Louis and Cleveland, before drowning in Denver in the Wild Card game. Look past the great history, and accept the Steelers for what they are: aging and vulnerable.

4. Cleveland Browns: (4-12) Let’s face it, the Browns are good for one thing, and one thing only: betting the under. They are  boring, and for the most part, remain stuck in mud. Hopefully Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden represent a new day in the ‘pound, but I won’t believe it until I see it.

SOUTH

1. Houston Texans: (10-6) Tough blow last season, losing Matt Schaub and other key parts throughout the year. It’s easy to assume that the injuries alone derailed a possible Super Bowl appearance, but I’m not so sure. I like this team, actually I like them quite a bit, but I don’t love them. With guaranteed wins against rebuilding Indy and Jacksonville, the Texans will win a fair amount of games, but to me, they remain a bit overrated. Tread carefully.

2. Tennessee Titans: (9-7) Yes, they are handing the keys to a young QB, which usually means trouble. However, this team is extremely well coached, and their RB is ready to dominate from snap # 1 after last season’s slow start. If the Texans aren’t careful, this could be one of the big surprises in the conference. I like the direction of this franchise quite a bit.

3. Indianapolis Colts: (6-10) Andrew Luck will prove within the first month of the season why he is one of the most polished, enticing talents to ever hit the league. The kid has it all, and for that reason alone, the Colts will surprise a few times this season.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: (6-10) I actually like most of their offensive weapons, except their QB. I’m simply not a Blaine Gabbert fan. If he matures and spreads the wealth to TE Mercedes Lewis and rookie WR Justin Blackmon responsibly, I can be converted. Maurice Jones-Drew is an absolute superstar, although lengthy holdouts usually equate to nagging injuries. That alone worries me.

WEST

1. Kansas City Chiefs: (11-5) Last season, KC was absolutely rocked with season-ending ACL injuries to three key players, setting an irreversible tone. They still competed, even with Matt Cassel missing 9 games and an overflowing trainer’s room. This year, they are healthy, added a few pieces, and will enjoy a relatively benign schedule.

2. Denver Broncos: (9-7) I’m not buying all of the Manning hype, not yet. His numbers against the Niners this summer were very deceiving. Pretty on paper, suspect when watching live. His ball floated a few few times, and until he regains his fastball, his margin of error is not nearly as wide as most think. He’ll have a good season, but can he really be the Messiah? I have my doubts.

3. Oakland Raiders: (7-9) Ironically, the Raiders will fail to reach .500 this season, yet, they’ll be a superior team to the mess Hue Jackson handed off to Dennis Allen. It starts with discipline and erasing pre-snap penalties, and I believe they will take a big step in the right direction. Yet, in this division, subpar CB play is dangerous, and they’ll struggle to find that balance all year. However, if Darren McFadden finally plays all 16 games…

4. San Diego Chargers: (6-10) I know, Antonio Gates is in great shape, poised for a monster season, right up until his foot begins barking again, and it will. Vincent Jackson is gone, Ryan Matthews injured his clavicle early this summer, and Norv Turner is still the coach. I love their uniforms, and that’s about it.

They suck, he doesn’t…

The "race" continues...

28) St. Louis Rams (0-4) Current QB: Sam Bradford, 23 (49.7 completion %, 70.8 QB rating) Given the overall weakness of the NFC West, it’s not too late for Spags’ crew to get healthy–provided they can get healthy. Despite the early bumps, the organization remains committed to Bradford, the overall # 1 pick last season. He’s the real deal, and everyone in the league knows it. Remember, growing pains come with rebuilding efforts, especially with QB’s. They can go 0-16, and in my opinion, still wouldn’t draft Luck, and instead, would trade down and stock the drawers with picks.

Next: BYE (outscored 113-46 thus far)

29) Denver Broncos (1-3) Kyle Orton, 28 (8 TD’s/6 INT’s, 80.8 QB rating) Kyle Orton’s a decent NFL quarterback, and if anything, skews closer to the top than the bottom. Problem is, the Tebow chants will quickly fade to shouts for Luck if the Boys in the Mile High don’t reverse things soon. Wrong team, wrong time for Orton, bottom line. Here’s one thing I know for sure: in 5 years, Orton is still employed. He may very well be holding a clipboard by then, but definitely still employed.

Next: vs. San Diego (outscored 111-81 thus far)

30) Indianapolis Colts (0-4) Curtis Painter, 28 (last game: 13-30, 281 yards, 2TD/0 INT) He already has 4 MVP awards, and watching the Colts this season only reinforces one thing: he deserves a 5th this season, even without taking a single snap. It’s been a long time since the loss of one player so adversely affected a professional team.

The end?

Heck, even the Pats won double figure games without Brady a few years ago. Here’s the real question: do the Colts have the guts to draft Luck if Peyton (and team doctors)  declares himself ready to play next season? It’s the ultimate gamble, and it’s a fascinating subplot.

Next: vs. Chiefs (outscored 108-63 thus far)

31) Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) Matt Cassel, 29 (64.9 completion %, 4 TD/5 INT, 75.2 QB rating) This thing is an absolute mess, but amazingly, there’s an NFL city that currently has it worse. If that’s possible. Embarrassing.

Next: @ Indianapolis (outscored, 126-49)

32) Miami Dolphins (0-4) Chad Henne, 26 (expected to miss the rest of the season with a seperated shoulder) Imagine getting told you’re safe thru the bye-week, and the bye-week is only a few days away. Welcome to Tony Sparano’s world. This has been ugly from the outset, and is crumbling quicker than Lebron James in the 4th quarter. Not that it really matters, but Chad Henne is lost for the season with a shoulder injury, and they still have to play Dallas, the Jets (twice), Pats, Eagles and Giants. Ding, ding, ding….we may very well have a winner.

Next: BYE (outscored 104-69)

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.

STUD.

Week 1: 4-2 ATS

Week 2: 4-1-1 ATS

Year to date: 8-3-1

Week 3 picks: Friday morning

  • About Brandon Tierney

  • Archives

  • BT’S Tweets

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Archives

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 18,855 other followers

%d bloggers like this: