Friday, December 31, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 17 Picks

Carolina Panthers (+14) at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons all of a sudden, face a must-win game. They might lose the No.1 seed with a loss combined with a Bears win and/or the Saints win. Look for them to crush the Panthers at home.
Outright Win: Falcons
v/s the Spread: Falcons (-14)

Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) at Cleveland Browns
Another must-win game for the Steelers here. A Steelers win here gives them the No.2 seed. A Steelers loss combined with a Ravens win puts them out of the top 4 seeds in the AFC.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Steelers (-5.5)

Minnesota Vikings (+3) at Detroit Lions
The Vikings did have a upset win over the Eagles last week. Joe Webb looked good for a game, but will it carry over to the next game. Before we even think of that, will he even play this week, with Brett Favre back at practice? The Lions on the other hand are red-hot, with three straight wins (two of them on the road).
Outright Win: Lions
v/s the Spread: Lions (-3)

Miami Dolphins (+4.5) at New England Patriots
The Dolphins on the road against a Patriots team that has nothing to gain from a win here. Considering the Welker injury in Week 17 last year when the Patriots had nothing to play for, this seems like a text book "rest your starters" game. But, this is still a Bill Belichik coached team, with competitive Tom Brady running the offense. I will be surprised if the Pats starters are taken off before the 4th quarter.
Outright Win: Patriots
v/s the Spread: Patriots (-4.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7.5) at New Orleans Saints
The Saints' win here will help them only if the Falcons lose. Since both teams play at the same time, there is no way the Saints will know the Falcons' game result. So they will have to play hard to win here, just in case.
Outright Win: Saints
v/s the Spread: Saints (-7.5)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 16 Picks

Carolina Panthers (+15) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The line for this game can just not be high enough. Only thing holding it this low is that Troy Palamalu might not play and he is THAT important to the Steelers team. Even without him, if the Steelers should cover this if they really want to be considered contenders this season.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Steelers (-15)

Dallas Cowboys (-7) at Arizona Cardinals
This is one of those inconsequential games of Week 16. Still, the Cowboys would like to pad up their season record. More pride at stake for the Cowboys here.
Outright Win: Cowboys
v/s the Spread: Cowboys (-7)

Washington Redskins (+7) at Jacksonville Jaguars
As hard as it is to believe, the Redskins seem better with Rex Grossman at QB than with McNaab. Here again, the Jaguars are facing a must-win situation and that trumps the new QB jolt to a team.
Outright Win: Jaguars
v/s the Spread: Jaguars (-7)

Detroit Lions (+3.5) at Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins would really love to play all their games on the road. That seems to give them their best chance to win. The Lions may not be with their best option at QB. Still they are gritty enough on defense to hang with the big boys. And just might pull off their third win in a row.
Outright Win: Lions
v/s the Spread: Lions (+3.5)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 15 Picks

San Francisco 49ers (+9) at San Diego Chargers
Must win for the Chargers. Alex Smith starts for the 49ers after a big win against the Seahawks. How is this not a game where the 49ers are blown out to sink what little hopes they had of salvaging the season?
Outright Win:  Chargers 
v/s the Spread: Chargers (-9)
Cleveland Browns (+1.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals cannot be trusted to win close games, even at home. The Browns do just that. Keep games close. And if Mccoy can start for the Browns, they sure should get this.
Outright Win: Browns 
v/s the Spread: Browns (+1.5)

Washington Redskins (+6) at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were impressive in their loss against the Eagles. The Redskins should be cake walk when compared to that.
Outright Win: Cowboys  
v/s the Spread: Cowboys (-6)

Jacksonville Jaguars (+5) at Indianapolis Colts
If the Colts lose this game, they have an incredibly uphill path to the playoffs here on. But I don't think they cover the spread here.
Outright Win: Colts 
v/s the Spread: Jaguars (+5)

Kansas City Chiefs at St Louis Rams (NL)
There's no line on this game. It is hard to imagine that questions about the health of Matt Cassel can cause so much of an issue in the heads of odd makers. Whatever the case, the Rams are a tough out at home.
Outright Win: Rams 
v/s the Spread: n/a

Houston Texans (+1.5) at Tennessee Titans
This turns out to be a meaningless AFC South battle this week. Both teams spiraling downwards. Both the coaches on the hot seat. The Texans at least seem to be playing hard for their coach.
Outright Win: Texans 
v/s the Spread: Texans (+1.5)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Driver does it old school

It took Driver till Week 13 to get his show reel for the season going, but he crashed it with one for the ages.

Maybe it was the ugly throwback uniforms for the Packers last week vs the 49ers. Donald Driver made a play like it was from 1929. After the catch, he takes the ball 40 more yards for a touchdown. In the process, he breaks two tackles (with little help from Andrew Quarless), then makes Nate Clemens of the 49ers miss another tackle on a filthy juke move. And then ploughs through four 49ers tackers dragging them into the end zone.

Sit back and enjoy.....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 14 Picks

Indianapolis Colts (-4) at Tennessee Titans
Will Manning Face make another appearance this week? Even if it does, I think the Colts have enough to take care of business against a Titans team that is in free-fall.
Outright Win: Colts
v/s the Spread:  Colts (-4)

Oakland Raiders (+4) at Jacksonville Jaguars
A West coast team playing an early game in the east coast? 'nuff said.
Outright Win: Jaguars
v/s the Spread: Jaguars (-4)
Cincinnati Bengals (+8.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers managed to scrape out a win against divisional foe Ravens last week. They have another divisional match up to look forward to this week. The Bengals may be one of the worst teams in the league, but the spread is too big to lay the points in a divisional match up.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Bengals (+8.5)

Cleveland Browns (+1) at Bufallo Bills
The Bills after covering week after week, lost a bad one last week. I think they will bounce back and cover this one in spite of being the favorites. It also will help their cause if Delhomme keeps starting for the Browns.
Outright Win: Bills
v/s the Spread: Bills (-1)

New York Giants (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Will 'he' or won't 'he' start? Either way, its up to Adrian Peterson to take over and run the Vikings offense. The Giants might also have to do the same, with so many of their receivers on the injury list.
Outright Win: Giants
v/s the Spread: Giants (-2.5)

Atlanta Falcons (-7.5) at Carolina Panthers
One of the better teams in the league against one of, if not the, worst team(s) in the league. The Falcons will have to win in a blow out here though to keep their aura up.
Outright Win: Falcons
v/s the Spread: Falcons (-7.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2) at Washington Redskins
The Bucs might be feisty young team. But they had a couple of injury blows this week that could hurt them real bad (especially the loss of Aquib Talib). Still, they should have enough to take care of business against the Redskins.
Outright Win: Bucs
v/s the Spread: Bucs (-2)

St Louis Rams (+9) at New Orleans Saints

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NFL Stats Can Be Deceptive: Who Said Aaron Rodgers Was Not Clutch?

This post is also on Bleacher Report.

Of late, there has been a lot of talk about how Aaron Rodgers, the QB for the Green Bay Packers, has problems finishing off "close" games. The win-loss record for the Packers since Aaron Rodgers took over, in "close" games (decided by four points or less), is currently 2-14. Yeah, it does not look good.

Normally, I am a firm believer in the truism: "Stats never lie". But on digging a little deeper into this, we get a very different perspective of that record.

Here, I am going to try classify all those 14 games in terms of what impact Aaron Rodgers had on the outcome.

Side Note: In this post, I am going to analyze only games that qualify as being "close". It is to see how Rodgers fares in crunch time situations. Not an analysis of how good or bad he is overall. There are games where he has been lights out which might have been blow outs. There are games were he has looked awful, which were big margin losses for the Packers. There were games (especially in 2009) where the O line could not keep Rodgers standing even in consecutive snaps. But here, we talk about only games decided by four points or less.

The Wins

Surprisingly, the Packers under Aaron Rodgers never had a "close" game win until this 2010 season.

1. Vs Detroit Lions (Week 4, 2010): GB Win, 28-26
To be honest, this win, although looks close, did not require any "clutch" performance from the GB offense. The defense had to hold off the Lions from coming back and winning in garbage time. Although, they did accomplish that, it ended up being closer than the Packers would have liked.

2. Vs Minnesota (Week 7, 2010): GB Win, 28-24
This was another game, where the Packers had a big lead heading into the 4th quarter, and the onus was on the defense to hold off Brett Favre from taking that lead away. The defense intercepted Favre 3 times and help put this in the bag. But a scoring drive or two for the Packers for some insurance points would have been nice.

The Cough ups

There were some "close" games where, if you had to point the finger at ONE thing for the loss, you would have to blame Rodgers. Interestingly enough, almost all these games were in the 2008 season, which was the first for Rodgers as the starter. Yes, there could be multiple reasons for the following losses, but the common pattern I see in these games is that the Packers had the ball at crunch time and the offense under Rodgers failed to score for the potential win (or tie).

NFL 2010: Week 13 Picks

Houston Texans (+8) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles will want to get back to winning ways after their loss at the hands of the Bears last week. The Texans defense will have a big let down after their surprising shut out of the Titans offense. They are in for a rude awakening that Mike Vick ain't no Rustee Smith.
Outright Win: Eagles
v/s the Spread: Eagles (-8)

*  updated the rest of these picks on 12/04/2010 (Saturday)

Buffalo Bills (+5.5) at Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are on a surge after the firing of Chilli. They should be able to keep to take care of business at home here. But watch out for the backside cover by the Bills. They are real good at it this season.
Outright Win: Vikings
v/s the Spread: Bills (+5.5)

Cleveland Browns (+5) at Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are way better off with Henne under center. But the Browns have taken a few steps backward with Delhomme starting in place of Colt McCoy. Browns are still good to cover the spread here with Miami missing a lot of pieces on defense and no Brandon Marshall either.
Outright Win: Dolphins
v/s the Spread: Browns (+5)

Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at Tennessee Titans
The Titans are rushing in Collins to start this week. Even if he can play at 75% of his usual self, it will be a huge upgrade over good 'ol Rustee. The Jaguars will have to find ways to move the ball without Mike-Sims Walker.
Outright Win: Titans
v/s the Spread: Titans (-3)

Denver Broncos (+9) at Kansas City Chiefs
This is one of those revenge games of the weekend. The Broncos went ballistic against the Chiefs the last time they met. That's the best kind of bulletin board material to get the Chiefs play they hardest. Add to it the non-handshake thing too.
Outright Win: Chiefs
v/s the Spread: Chiefs (-9)

Washington Redskins (+7) at New York Giants
Usually NFC East rivalry games are expected to be close. Not this one. Expect the Giants to lay a beatdown on McNaab and his sub-par offensive line.
Outright Win: Giants
v/s the Spread: Giants (-7)

Chicago Bears (-5) at Detroit Lions