Week 9 NFL Picks

Earlier this week, my uncle Harry pointed me to Mike Tanier’s piece in the New York Times about the negativity of NFL studio analysts. The quotes were all unsurprising and seemed to confirm what I figured out sometime in the middle of last season: it is almost a complete waste of time to watch any NFL coverage on television, whether it be a pregame, postgame, or midweek show. NFL Matchup, which is in the prime 3 AM Sunday morning time slot on ESPN and re-airs at 7:30 AM, is really the only exception.

This is not to say that no studio analysts ever provide interesting and insightful commentary but if you want to glean that information you are going to have to sit through a lot of coverage of the hot button news cycle issues like Tim Tebow and Terrell Owens as well as dozens of largely undifferentiated former players trying to make a name for themselves in media and hold onto their new jobs. Some of these analysts are good but most of them spout cliches, compensating for their lack of truly unique insight by speaking condescendingly to the viewer. It’s too burdensome to figure out who is good and who is bad because they are usually mixed together.

NFL coverage on the internet is much more efficient because you can choose what and who you consume. This is how I get almost all of my information and analysis and I really don’t feel like I am missing anything by largely ignoring the television medium. For quantitative reasoning, Football Outsiders and Grantland’s Bill Barnwell (former FO writer) are brilliant. For news, ProFootballTalk and Shutdown Corner do an excellent job of presenting what is happening and what it means. Twitter leads to interesting columns and links on Yahoo, CBSSports, FoxSports, ESPN, and elsewhere and is directly tailored to what I am looking for.

Anyways, on to the picks. This week I struggled with my decisions more than any other week so far so it will be interesting to see how that plays into my results. As always, the picks are done with my friend Asif who writes Uninformed Commentary. We are tied through eight weeks and I’d really like to start pulling ahead.

Previous Records:
Week 8: 6-7
Season: 61-50-5

Week 8: 6-7
Season: 61-50-5

Atlanta (-7) @ Indianapolis

Ryan: This line seems a few points too low…for the last two weeks, the Colts ceased being feisty. Headed into their bye last week, the Falcons had started to put it together the previous two weeks, beating the Panthers and Lions.

I loved Peyton Manning’s unsubtle dig at Phil Simms this week after Simms had said that Manning wouldn’t let the Colts draft Andrew Luck. Via PFT:

“I don’t talk to Phil,” Manning said, via Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star.  “Phil doesn’t talk to me.  He did text me after that, saying ‘Hey, sorry to drag your name into this.’  I wrote back, ‘Phil I don’t know what you’re talking about.’  He said, ‘Well on my show, Inside the NFL, I made this statement.’  I said, ‘Phil, I hate to break it to you, but I don’t watch your show, along with a lot of other people that I don’t think watch that show.’  Giving himself a little more credit than probably was merited.”

I bet that Manning was lying; he totally does watch Inside the NFL. Falcons cover.

Asif: Indianapolis has entered automatic bet against territory. The Colts suck really, really bad. Any chance Andrew Luck considers the fact that he may have to play for Jim Caldwell next season and just stays in school? Wouldn’t you rather be a college student in Palo Alto than a millionaire in Indianapolis? I can keep hoping, can’t I? Falcons cover.

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-8)

Ryan: As I wrote in my Tuesday Trends column, the Saints are a complete enigma. They’ve given up over 100 yards rushing in seven of their eight games including each of their past six. LeGarrette “Chronic” Blount returns this week for the Buccaneers after missing the Bucs’ last two games and I’m expecting him to finally deliver on my 2nd round fantasy pick investment.

The Buccaneers beat the Saints 26-20 in Week 6 (seems like forever ago even though it’s been less than three weeks) and I haven’t seen anything out of New Orleans to justify a 14-point differential from that result this week. Buccaneers cover.

Asif: I’m willing to buy that last week’s debacle against the Rams was just a fluke for New Orleans. That said, more than any other “contende,r” the Saints have a maddening tendency to lose easily winnable games. I still don’t believe that Tampa has any business being in contention for the NFC South, but here we are at Week 9 and they’re still lingering. I’m thinking the Saints make a statement this week. New Orleans covers.

Cleveland @ Houston (-11)

Ryan: The Texans are 4-0 against the spread against really bad teams so far this year, having covered versus the Colts, Dolphins, Titans, and Jaguars. The Browns have looked hapless whenever they play teams with any degree of legitimacy–they’ve beaten the Colts, Dolphins, and Seahawks but their four losses have come by an average of 11.25 points. Texans cover.

Asif: This line may seem a bit high to you, but allow me a question. Can you give me any reason that the Browns would be able to play Houston close with Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty hurt? Because I certainly can’t. Texans cover.

NY Jets @ Buffalo (-1.5)

Ryan: This is the best game of the early slate Sunday and has pretty significant implications for the AFC playoff picture. The Jets need to at least split their season series with the Bills to have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. This game could very well come down to fumble luck or a touchdown on defense or special teams. Based on nothing other than a gut feeling, Jets cover.

Asif: Given that the Bills have been steadily good all season and the Jets have vacillated between impotent and just good enough my gut feeling is that this line is way too low. Luckily for the Jets, the weather apparently won’t be a factor in this game. I still don’t trust Mark Sanchez, though. Bills cover.

Miami @ Kansas City (-4)

Ryan: The 0-7 Dolphins have actually been pretty feisty the past two weeks, losing to the Broncos and Giants by a combined six points.

Despite being in control for the first 3.5 quarters, the Chiefs were extraordinarily lucky to win against the Chargers on Monday night. This game feels like it has letdown potential for Kansas City as it enters the match-up having just beaten a division rival to attain a share of first place in the AFC West with a short week to prepare for a presumably inferior opponent. Dolphins cover.

Asif: With this week’s game against Miami, two remaining against Denver, and with Phillip Rivers’s new mission to get Norv Turner fired, the suddenly first-place Chiefs are in the driver’s seat for the AFC West title.

Miami is so bad that I can’t think of anything else to say about them. KC covers.

San Fransisco (-3.5) @ Washington

Ryan: Jason Cole became the first credible source (read: not a sports talk radio caller) I’ve seen to suggest that Mike Shanahan be fired. I didn’t think this would happen until at least Week 12 but here we are. Incidentally, I don’t know if I will ever be able to read Jason Cole in the same way again after watching this clip because I now know that he looks and sounds exactly like my former boss from an internship I worked at immediately following college. The most apt description for said boss is that he was like Scrooge before his heart grew two sizes. Never forget.

Anyways, the 49ers are pretty good, at least until Frank Gore gets hurt (which, if they keep giving him 20 carries per game, is a near certainty to happen sometime in the next few weeks). More than even the Packers, who have looked spotty for full halves in almost all of their games, the 49ers have been trustworthy. 49ers cover.

Asif: Have the people who set this line watched any football since Week 1? The Redskins appear to be making their annual collapse while the 49ers are solid in every facet of the game. They could play this in Dan Snyder’s back yard with the Niners as 15-point favorites and I’d still pick San Fransisco to cover.

Seattle @ Dallas (-11.5)

Ryan: The Cowboys got absolutely destroyed last week but luckily for them, the Seahawks don’t exactly have the personnel to replicate what the Eagles were doing to dominate both sides of the ball. This feels like one of those games where Tarvaris Jackson heroically leads a touchdown drive in the final two minutes to cut the Seahawks’ deficit from 17 to 10. Seahawks cover.

Asif: I’m hesitant to pick Dallas to cover this large of a spread after how thoroughly Philadelphia owned them last Sunday night. Then again, Seattle is quarterbacked by Tarvaris Jackson. Cowboys cover although this game has Romo-pocalypse written all over it.

Denver @ Oakland (-8)

Ryan: This game is going to be prime viewing if you are a big fan of errant passes. Line is a little too high and we may just see a Tebow resurrection. Broncos cover.

Asif: Tim Tebow sucks and everyone with eyes can see it. START BRADY QUINN ALREADY, HE IS CLEARLY THE FUTURE. Carson Palmer may have no arm strength left, but at least he knows how to throw a spiral. Raiders cover.

Cincinnati @ Tennessee (-3)

Ryan: Still no respect from Vegas for Andy Dalton and the Bengals who won on the road in Seattle last week. As long as they keep up the disrespect, I’ll keep riding the red rocket. Bengals cover.

Asif: I checked twice, this line is not backwards. These two teams are trending in opposite directions and this may be the easiest game of the week to pick. Bengals cover.

St. Louis @ Arizona (-3)

Ryan: In NFC West match-ups that don’t involve the 49ers, a) saddle up for a featured game on the Black Zone Channel, and b) take the home team. Even if John Skelton is involved, which looks to be the case. It’s not a good sign for Kevin Kolb, or the Cardinals for giving him a fat extension before he arrived in uniform, that going to someone with four career starts and a 47.6% completion rate doesn’t seem like that much of a downgrade. Cardinals cover.

Asif: This week’s Derp Bowl. Arizona actually showed a little life against the Ravens last week, but I wonder how much of that was due to the fact that Joe Flacco should be playing in the UFL (call him elite again ESPN, I dare you). Now that St. Louis has actually pulled off a win I’m a bit more comfortable picking the Rams to cover.

NY Giants @ New England (-8.5)

Ryan: This line seems a point or two too high. The Patriots have an absolutely horrid pass defense and, while they can win this game in a shootout, I think it will likely be within one score.

The Giants are a weird team; they’ve beaten the Eagles and Bills but lost to the Redskins and Seahawks. Their performance one week is in no way indicative of what it will be like the next. I never, ever, ever want to gamble on or against them in real life but in this space the stakes (my pride) are low. Giants cover.

Asif: Much like every other Giants team in history, the 2011 NY Football Giants play right to the level of their competition. 8-point favorites against the Dolphins? No chance in hell the Giants cover that. 8.5-point dogs at New England? I’d be very surprised if the G-men get blown out. Giants cover.

Green Bay (-5.5) @ San Diego

Ryan: Despite winning all of their games, the Packers have not been perfect–yesterday, Aaron Schatz wrote that the Packers are the best team in the NFL but are overrated (ESPN insider subscription required):

Despite being undefeated after seven games, the Packers are not on par with historically dominant teams of the recent past such as the 2007 New England Patriots, the 2001 St. Louis Rams or the Packers themselves in 1996. DVOA says they have been only 29.4 percent better than an average NFL team. From 1992 through 2009, each season had at least two teams with a DVOA rating over 30 percent after Week 8, with one exception: 1994, when only Dallas qualified. Both last year and this year, no team was able to meet that mark after eight weeks, and that includes this year’s Packers.

In case you are wondering what it is like to root for a team that just won the Super Bowl, is the best team in the NFL, but “not on par with historically dominant teams of the recent past,” it’s at least slightly more enjoyable than rooting for a team like the Chargers that is “extremely underrated at 4-3.” NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR PARTYING.Hopefully, whatever in the world is wrong with Philip Rivers–bad luck, the strain of being a leader, hiding an injury, recently having his sixth kid, or the stress of Obama’s burdensome tax policy–lingers at least one more week before being corrected. The “overrated” Packers cover.

Asif: I take back what I said earlier, this is the easiest game to pick this week. To Ryan’s earlier Aaron Schatz quote, you’d think Aaron would have learned not to call teams over or under-rated after he spent the entire 2007-08 postseason calling the Giants overrated, only for them to beat his beloved 2007 Patriots in the Super Bowl. SCOREBOARD SCHATZ. Packers cover.

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (-3)

Ryan: Based on home field advantage and the last two weeks, where the Ravens lost to the Jaguars and almost lost to the Cardinals while the Steelers beat the Cardinals and Patriots handily, one would expect the Steelers to be favored by a point or two more in this game. BUT MAYBE THAT’S WHAT VEGAS WANTS YOU TO THINK.

It is possible that Baltimore overlooked its last two opponents and can harness themselves for greatness as it did in embarrassing Pittsburgh 35-7 Week 1. I really don’t know what to expect from this game as far as who wins or loses or covers but I’m excited to watch it even if defense dominates. Gun to my head, Ravens cover.

Asif: Two weeks ago, I thought that Baltimore may be the best team in the NFL. Since then, Joe Flacco has done everything in his power to convince me that they’re not. I still like the Ravens D, and I still think that the Steelers are old. I’ll ride with Baltimore to cover for one more week.

Monday Night:

Chicago @ Philadelphia (-8)

Ryan: All hail the mighty football gods for giving us another dank primetime game!

The extent to which the Eagles dominated the Cowboys on both sides of the ball last week cannot be overstated. It was beautiful football to watch as long as you aren’t a Cowboys fan or Eagles hater. So, essentially it was beautiful football to watch for Eagles fans. This line seems just a bit too high and leaves Philly susceptible to the back door cover. Bears cover.

Asif: Ugh, do the Eagles have to be on in primetime every week? I remain unconvinced of Chicago’s ability to beat good teams so I’ll take Philly to cover.


One Response to Week 9 NFL Picks

  1. Ace Ventura says:


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