Friday, October 2, 2015

NFL Picks, Week 4

This week's NFL TV maps: 506sports

There is a national game at 9:30 AM eastern: New York Jets "at" Miami, which is being played in London (hence the oddball start time). 
The closest thing to a "national" afternoon game is New York Giants at Buffalo, on FOX at 1 PM. Minnesota-Denver and Green Bay-San Francisco pretty well split the 4:25 PM audience n FOX. 

As always, home team in CAPS.

Baltimore (-2.5) over PITTSBURGH

I made this pick on twitter last night. And then...hoo boy, that game.

I'm more than mildly surprised I haven't seen evidence that Pittsburgh has released kicker Josh Scobee. I hate to say that about another person's job, but we're three weeks in and the guy simply isn't getting his job done. Scobee got two cracks at a field goal in the final 2:30, which would have bumped the Steelers lead from 3 to 6 and forced the Ravens to drive for a touchdown instead of a field goal. The distances were 41 and 49 yards. Not gimmes, but in this day and age, anything under 50 yards the kicker should be expected to hit it. Scobee shanked both to the left.

The bottom line is Baltimore had to have this game to have any credible opportunity to be a playoff team this season. And while they got the win, I don't see this team contending for anything substantial. The offense is too limited due to the dearth of talent after Steve Smith at the WR position.

As for Pittsburgh, either Michael Vick is going to improve with reps (not that likely at his age and stage of career), or their season may very well be in jeopardy when Roethlisberger gets back if Big Ben is actually out for 6 weeks.

New York Jets (-1.5) over MIAMI* 
I kind of look at the Jets and Bills as sort of the same team: great defense, loves to send pressure, questionable quarterback. Miami faced the Bills at home last weekend...and lost 41-14. Now they get to travel to London to "host" the Jets. Even if it goes better, there is a lot of ground to make up to even approach respectability.

Jacksonville (+9) over INDIANAPOLIS 
I love Matthew Hasselbeck. I have many fond Seahawks memories he is front and center for. I don't love the idea of Matthew Hasselbeck starting for a Colts team giving 9 points. If I'm being honest, I'm not even sure I trust Andrew Luck starting for a Colts team giving 9 points right now. Between the turnovers (there have been lots of them), the continued lack of defensive resistance, and the very apparent in-fighting between the coach and front office, the Colts are clearly not firing on all cylinders right now.

Houston (+6.5) over ATLANTA 
Look, I like Atlanta, I like their former-Seahawks-defensive-coordinator head coach. I believe this 3-0 start can very well turn into a double digit win season and playoff berth. No, really. Look at their schedule! But they are not a great team. They could very well get there under Dan Quinn, but it will take a couple of years. Do I like them to beat Houston? Sure. Do I like them to run away with the game and cover an almost 7 point spread? Not yet. Remember, the Falcons have trailed in the 4th quarter of all 3 of their games.

Carolina (-3) over TAMPA BAY
Good defense plus rookie quarterback make Jameis Winston something something. Morph into Captain Turnover? Don't mind if you do.

BUFFALO (-5) over New York Giants 
Two facts about the New York Giants:
1. Since the start of 2013, the Giants are 5-0 against Washington, and 9-21 against everyone else.
2. Last year on Thursday night of Week 4, the Giants beat Washington 45-14. They proceded to lose 7 of their next 8 games.

Oakland (-3) over CHICAGO 
Wait a minute, is that right? Oakland is a road favorite in this game??? Let me try this again.
Oakland (-3) over SORRY, CHICAGO
That's just sad, Bears.

Philadelphia (-3) over WASHINGTON 
The Eagles are undefeated when starting the game against a below average quarterback and winless when starting the game against an above-average one. Washington will start Kirk Cousins in this game. Ipso facto.

Kansas City (+4) over CINCINNATI 
Either Andy Dalton really has turned a corner and I'm going to (figuratively) go broke betting against him this season, or he's still the same guy who folds when he's consistently pressured and he just hasn't hit upon a defense that's been able to consistently pressure him yet. I'm still leaning towards the latter.

SAN DIEGO (-7.5) over Cleveland 
One the one hand, that's a lot of points for an inconsistent Chargers team to be giving. On the other hand, it's Josh McCown on the road. Yeah, I'll pick the not-Josh-McCown side.

Green Bay (-8.5) over SAN FRANCISCO 
Under Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers faced the Packers 4 times (twice in the regular season and twice in the playoffs) and won all 4 matchups. These are not Jim Harbaugh's 49ers. And Jim Harbaugh is not there to coach them. And Vic Fangio is not there to coach the defense either. It will not be pretty.

Minnesota (+7) over DENVER 
Call me crazy, but the Vikings seems like a team built to give the Broncos trouble. They have a terrific running back (albeit behind a weaker OL) to grind out yards. They have a steady (if young) quarterback to avoid turnovers. And they have a defense that should be able to pressure Peyton Manning, and who knows how that's going to end up at this point.

ARIZONA (-7) over St. Louis 
The Rams' season isn't over yet, and the only chance they have against the unstoppable freight train Bruce Arians has magicked up in the desert is to knock Carson Palmer out of the game.

Dallas (+4) over NEW ORLEANS 
So you're telling me I have to pick the Saints or Brandon Weeden? Well I'm not going to do that. I'll take the points, because frankly I don't trust either one.

SEATTLE (-10) over Detroit 
I'd like to say I expect a comfortable, 60-minute win that kick starts the Seahawks on another run like last season ended on (well, almost ended on...kind of ended on...last regular season ended on). But I don't trust the offense enough yet. So why pick them to cover a 10-point spread? While it will look ugly for the better part of the first half, Seattle will get there, either as the offense kicks in or because Matt Stafford starts chucking the ball to the home team. It's also a terrible idea to bet against Pete Carroll's team in prime time (week 2 being the exception).

This week: 1-0 (Whoo-hoo!)
Last week: 9-7 (.563)
Season: 22-25-1 (.469)

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