And the season of frustration continues…
If you’ve been betting on the NFL games based on my weekly picks, then you know how bad it’s going for me. But even if you haven’t gone with my recommendations, you can probably sense this has been a rough season for me because I haven’t updated the blog with my against the spread record in about four weeks. My loyal readers will remember that last year while I was rolling to a 57% win rate for the season, I couldn’t give enough updates about my incredible record. Not so much this year.
But let’s quickly dig through the carnage:
- Going into Monday night’s game, I’m 5-7-1 against the spread for week 10.
- A particularly maddening week considering 3 losses (Detroit-Chicago, Carolina-San Francisco, Denver-San Diego) and the push (Houston-Arizona) hinged on one or two plays in terms of which team ultimately covered.
- For the year, I’m now 62-79-5 against the spread, 17 games below .500, a 44% win rate.
- In other words, now you know why I’m working three jobs. Income from two of them goes directly into the black hole known as my gambling account.
- If I want to end the regular season with any sense of respectability, I pretty much need to hit on 62% of my picks each week for the final seven weeks.
Based on how the first 10 weeks have gone, I have very little faith in hitting that goal. But here’s the funny thing: Over the past seven weeks, I’ve actually made a profit on my football bets and I continue to nip at the heels of the people in 1st place in my Pick ‘Em leagues. How is this possible?
Because more than in any other year, I’ve been nailing my highest confidence picks. Yeah, a 5-8 week overall may look like shit, but if I’m putting huge bets on those five wins and only small bets on those eight losses, the net result is still profit.
In one of my Pick ‘Em leagues, we rank our top five confidence picks. You assign 7 points to the most confident pick, 5 to the next most confident, and then 3 points go to your third, fourth and fifth most confident picks for the week.
Since week 4, I am 21-14 on my confidence picks (a 60% win rate!), and I’ve gotten 6 of the 7 “most confident” picks correct.
In my 2013 reality where my cumulative picks absolutely suck, thank god I’m crushing the confidence picks. What this means for my readers is that when I do my weekly picks going forward, I will indicate which picks are my most confident. That way we can still win some money together. Deal?
We have a lot of random thoughts in the notebook today so let’s jump right in:
More Gambling Facts
- The desperate gambler in me spent time on Sunday going through every NFL team’s against the spread record for the year, trying to find any possible edge for the season’s stretch run. Unfortunately 26 of the 32 teams have covered somewhere in the range of 40-60% of their games, not far enough away from a coin flip to confidently bet on or against them blindly.
- The teams who have been the best against the spread this year? Dallas (7-3), San Francisco, Carolina, New Orleans, NY Jets, Kansas City, Oakland (all 6-3).
- And the worst teams against the spread? Atlanta (2-7), Jacksonville (2-7), Houston (2-7), Tampa Bay (2-6), Chicago (2-6-1).
Fun With Playoffs
- By my count, 12 NFC teams & 11 AFC teams are still technically in the playoff hunt.
- That’s an incredible 72% of the entire league still thinking they might be playing football in January.
- Six of the eight divisions have at least three teams fighting for playoff spots (only the NFC South and AFC South have less than three teams with playoff aspirations).
- We always expect the wildcard spots to come down to the final couple weeks, but the incredible part about this season so far is that no team has come close to locking up its division yet.
- Usually we get a couple divisions (I’m looking at you, AFC East) where some team has a four-game lead by now. But this year, no division leader has more than a 2.5-game lead. If you want to say Seattle probably has its division locked up, I won’t argue too hard against you. But that’s the only one.
- Correction: You can also pencil the Colts in for the AFC South title. Forgot that Jake Locker was done for the season when I wrote that previous paragraph. Sorry, but a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Titans team is not overcoming a two-game deficit to Indianapolis.
Greatest Roller Coaster Game Of The Year
- Baltimore 20, Cincinnati 17
- Any week 10 recap column really should start and end with the Dalton-to-Green (by way of Ihedigbo) hail mary.
- Sunday’s early slate of games was looking like a giant letdown in terms of excitement (except for the Detroit-Chicago game)…the majority were blowouts or close games between two teams we weren’t interested in watching. And with the Ravens leading 17-0 at halftime, there was no reason to think this game would be any different. But then the Bengals slowly cut it to a one-score game (really slowly…it took them until midway through the 4th to get to the elusive double-digit mark in points scored).
- But when Andy Dalton threw an interception to James Ihedigbo with 1:55 left, it was a fitting end to a boring game between two teams that don’t look like Super Bowl contenders. Dalton would be the goat, Ihedigbo to some extent would be the hero.
- The Bengals would officially be delisted as a power in the AFC, and the Ravens would join the rest of its AFC North brethren as possible division winners.
- Except a 3-and-out on the ensuing drive by Baltimore gave Cincy the ball back with 1:28 left at their own 40 yard line. Exactly 88 seconds later, Dalton heaved the ball 51 yards into the end zone where a group of Bengals and Ravens tipped the ball to Ihedigbo, who was standing a little bit behind the cluster of players, and he promptly tipped it high into the air as if he wanted to buy extra time in the hopes that someone would swoop in and catch it. A.J. Green did just that, grabbing the most inexplicable touchdown of the season to force overtime.
- It was at that moment that the roller coaster did more roller coaster things. For the Bengals it meant a second chance to improve to 7-3 and re-establish itself as a player for a #2 seed in the conference. For the Ravens it was the potential end of their season. Dropping to 3-6 would pretty much render the rest of their schedule meaningless.
- But the final twist of the roller coaster was in overtime…nothing dramatic. Just a Cincinnati drive that ended when Marvin Lewis chose not to kick a 50-yard field goal so instead Giovani Bernard lost 11 yards on a 4th down attempt. Then the Ravens kicked a game-winning field goal, quickly ripped the goat status off of Ihedigbo, and staved off playoff elimination for another week.
- Not a very pretty game, but a wild roller coaster ride that just so happened to include the craziest play of the year.
Division Winner By Quarterback Attrition
- So the Lions are in sole possession of 1st place in the NFC North. And they’ve certainly played well enough to be in that spot, but even Detroit fans have to admit that if the Lions go on to win the division, a big assist should be credited to the problems with the quarterbacks of the other three teams in the North.
- The Vikings probably never had a chance this year, but the Ponder-Cassel-Freeman merry-go-round hasn’t helped.
- The Bears looked like they had morphed into an offensive juggernaut just as recently as three weeks ago, but then Jay Cutler tore his groin, came back extremely early by playing on Sunday, and now has an ankle injury that forced him to exit his game early. No one knows if he’ll be able to play next week. Oh, and the Bears are two games behind Detroit now because the Lions swept the season series.
- And then there’s Green Bay. Only one game behind the Lions and with the benefit of having beaten Detroit once already. But not only is Aaron Rodgers out for a few more weeks, the guy the Packers deemed as best suited to replace Rodgers is also out with an injury. So instead of Seneca Wallace, Green Bay will be starting Scott Tolzien next week.
- Once again I’m not saying the Lions don’t deserve to be in the mix for the division title, but they probably don’t deserve to be the heavy favorite to win it either.
Football Makes No Sense (Week 10 Version)
- If you had argued hard enough last week, you could have convinced me that Indianapolis isn’t quite as good as they’ve looked so far this year. You could even have convinced me that a Jeff Fisher-coached team would play hard no matter that their season is over and they’ve been forced to use their backup quarterback the rest of the year. Maybe you could have convinced me that the Colts wouldn’t totally dominate the Rams on Sunday.
- But not even 100 of the best football minds and/or the best debaters could have made me think the 3-6 Rams would travel to 6-2 Indianapolis and cruise to a 38-8 win.
- Football makes no sense.
- Here’s how bad it was for the Colts on Sunday: I honestly thought they were going to set an unofficial record of their offense never once being shown on the Red Zone Channel. I’m not exaggerating when I say it took a few minutes into the 3rd quarter of that game before the RZC finally featured Andrew Luck and the Colts offense trying to put something together. No matter how horrific the game is (even some of the 9-6 final scores of years past), we always see every team’s offense in the red zone at least once during the first half of the games. Not Indy on Sunday.
- One more note on this game: Jeff Fisher threw his challenge flag after the Colts finally scored a touchdown. Except as we all know by now (or at least we all should know), you can’t do that. Touchdowns are automatically reviewed. Coaches who throw the flag get penalized a timeout (or get assessed a 15-yard penalty if they are out of timeouts). Strangely enough, Fisher didn’t seem to know, the broadcasters never mentioned it, Andrew Siciliano, overseer of the Red Zone Channel, never mentioned it. Even the dozens of football writers, bloggers and analysts I follow on Twitter didn’t make much out of it. Am I the only one who still gets hot & bothered when coaches don’t remember this rule?
Fun With The Transitive Property
- If Jacksonville just beat Tennessee by 2 points in week 10, and Tennessee beat St. Louis by 7 two weeks ago, and St. Louis destroyed Indianapolis by 30 yesterday, shouldn’t Jacksonville beat Indianapolis by about 39 or so when they play later this season?
The Opposite of Fun With the Incognito-Martin Situation
- First of all, after reading THIS ARTICLE in which Terrelle Pryor shares his thoughts on locker room culture, I couldn’t help but think… Can we officially call Pryor the “Anti-JaMarcus Russell”? Russell was the 1st overall pick by Oakland who was supposed to be the team’s savior. Instead he sucked at football, got fat, had a substance abuse problem, was not a good locker room guy, and was out of the league within a couple years of being drafted, totally crushing the Raiders’ chances for the next few years. Then there’s Pryor…a guy who Oakland picked in a supplemental draft, was not supposed to be anyone’s savior, is making minimal money, was an afterthought because Matt Flynn was going to be the Raiders’ starting QB, and now he’s made football in Oakland fun again, seems to genuinely be a good leader and locker room guy, and looks like he’s actually cherishing his opportunity.
- I heard Peter King report on “Football Night in America” that there was at least one contending team who would be interested in Richie Incognito if the Dolphins released him. I found myself repeatedly saying “Please don’t be the Patriots, please don’t be the Patriots.” And it’s not because I’ve formed an opinion where I think the guy is bad news. It’s just because the added distraction isn’t necessary. No need for another circus around the team during the stretch run (although a smaller part of me thinks, “If that’s what they need to solidify the O-line, giddy up!”).
- I guess I’m throwing myself onto the “insensitive” side of the debate with this opinion: I personally think way too much media and public attention is being paid to this story. Remember when two Washington Wizards players actually brought guns into the locker room and threatened one another with them? We didn’t even spend half as much time and energy on that story as we have on this Dolphins story. Listen, I know this current situation is going to cost some people their jobs, and naughty words were said, and one guy is claiming to have a mental instability. But this is just way too much for a situation where no person was physically harmed. And the way in which the media decided to label the villains and victims of the story before having any real facts…it just bothers me that this is now going into week 3 of leading the news. Can we please focus on something interesting instead? Like maybe the amount of times Matt Flynn has been picked up and released over the past three months?
- It’s not going to happen, but if the Chiefs were to go 16-0, would that completely tarnish the accomplishments of the 2007 Patriots and 1972 Dolphins, the only two teams that have gone undefeated? It’s kind of a special accomplishment right now…only two teams have done it, both those teams capped off those seasons with Super Bowl appearances…
- This Kansas City team doesn’t belong, and I’m sure we won’t have to worry about this much longer.
- During the boredom of the early games on Sunday, I started wiping dog hair off my furniture. And I got to thinking: I use shed-control shampoo when I bathe my dog; I put fish oil in her food because it’s supposed to help with shedding; That food already includes “ingredients for a healthy shed-free coat; And I probably give her other things that help fight shedding. She still sheds a ton. If those products are all doing their jobs, does that mean my dog would have alopecia without them? If I stop using these products, will her entire coat spontaneously fall off?
- Take it from someone who still gets flashbacks of the Pollard-to-Brady’s-knee hit from 2008, that hit Peyton Manning took on Sunday was almost identical, only Manning was turned slightly more away from the angle of the hit so his knee didn’t twist as much, and he also was lucky not to get his cleat stuck in the turf as he spun around. Otherwise it would have been goodbye to Denver’s season.
- And hey, if you’re one of the five people out there who thinks Denver’s season could still be salvaged without Manning, then you must also admit that Manning is not the NFL’s MVP this year. You can’t have both.
- THIS might have flown under your radar on Sunday. Worth noting the three football stadiums where throwing a football in the parking lot is a crime.
- And finally, I’ll leave you with a peek behind the blogging curtain. Many times I get comments on the blog that are obvious SPAM. But every now and then I get a confusing comment that doesn’t look like SPAM but also doesn’t look like a real human wrote it. The one I got this morning was particularly…insane:
Hope your week 10 was better than mine was. Week 11 picks coming on Thursday.