Well, it’s official: I’m in a slump. I was cruising along pretty well for the first 6 weeks, going 54-37 (59%), but since then my record is 18-22 (45%). Now, this isn’t horrible, and I don’t yet think it’s time to start panicking and tweaking The Machine. But it is worrisome that The Machine isn’t getting better as the season goes on, which, obviously, it should be.
In any event, this isn’t a good look – after all, I’m writing a weekly post in which I pick NFL games. And man, it looks even worse when I say things like this:
“…I think the Giants defense is formidable and should do well at home.”
Wow. McDermott says the Giants defense is formidable and “should do well at home”, so go ahead folks and bet your hard-earned cash on the Giants. The score was 48-10 Rams at the end of the third quarter…sheesh.
All that being said, there was a small bright spot: although I lost two of my Super Hot Picks – one of which was the Rams/Giants disaster, the other the Falcons/Panthers dud (how could you Julio?) – I did hit on the Redskins, which was cool because I need to justify why I pick them every single week (slowly climbing to 0.500, I’m now at 0.375 with them). Recaps of my Super Hot Picks:
Philadelphia 51, Denver 23
Maybe I’m not watching enough Broncos games because I’m not getting how their defense could allow that many points (even acknowledging that the Eagles offense is very good). Sometimes a game can just get away from a team, and we know that the Denver offense wasn’t doing the defense any favors (by going 3-and-out four times and Brock throwing 2 picks), but 31 points by half time? It’s true the Eagles had a few short fields, but they also scored touchdowns on four drives of 75 yards or more (and yes, some of those drives had some big plays). I hung my hat on the Bronco’s defense for this pick and that was a mistake I won’t make again (just kidding, I’m picking them to cover against the Patriots, see below).
Los Angeles Rams 51, New York Giants 17
No need to discuss this. I’m the last person in the world to find out that the Rams are actually really, really good. Sure, the Giants are sub-par (I had them ranked #25 heading into the week), but if you’re a good team, you’re supposed to dominate bad teams and that’s what the Rams did. I think I’ve learned my lesson, and I’m done fading the Rams (just kidding, I’m fading them again this week against Houston, see below).
Washington 17, Seattle 14
I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t bet on the underdog unless you truly think they have a chance to win the game. Not sure I would have bet the Redskins to win, but I felt pretty confident that they could cover the 7.5-point spread. That being said, a couple of things happened in this game that may have tipped it in my favor: Seattle kicker Blair Walsh went 0-3 on field goal attempts and the Seahawks lost 138 yards on 16 penalties.
Here’s where I’m at:
All Picks: 72-59, 55.0%
ESPN Leaderboard Rank: 6872, 96% (full disclosure, this includes the Thursday night Seahawks/Cardinals game which was a win for me)
Super Hot Sizzling Picks: 13-11 (54.2%)
Bankroll: +$71 (betting $11 on every game)
OK, time to move on. We’ve got a whole slate of games that are just waiting for me to predict correctly.
Looks like I’m taking the favorites on three big-spread games, and I don’t feel good about any of them. Detroit can easily put up the points to cover the spread against the Browns, but at some point Cleveland has to show up to a game and maybe this is it? I don’t know what to make of the Carolina/Miami game, I just know that if you have two teams that have been playing somewhat unevenly all year (as I think these two have), you should probably take the dog and the points. Finally, the Pittsburgh/Indianapolis game is the one to worry about. There’s a notion floating around for the past few years that the Steelers, under Coach Tomlin, “play down” to the competition. Here’s a tweet after their loss to the Bears in Week 3:
The Steelers are now 5-13 in their last 18 on the road against teams with a sub .500 record.
— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) September 24, 2017
I think the notion is somewhat anecdotal, but there’s obviously some truth to it. Someday I’ll do a more full-blown study on this, but for now, we can take a look at Tomlin’s record next to the only other coaches to lead the Steelers since 1969, Chuck Knoll and Bill Cowher:
This is quick and dirty – we’re not taking into account a lot of factors here, like home field, QB injury, etc. – but compared to Cowher and Noll, Tomlin’s teams don’t fare as well against below average teams. But on the flip side, he makes up for it by having a better record against above average teams. Meh, it’s a wash. In any event, it’s possible the Steelers may not take the Colts seriously, but they’re still a much better team, and besides the above “notion”, I can’t see any other reason not to take them and lay the points, so that’s what I’m doing.
SUPER HOT DRIED UP TURDS ON THE SIDEWALK PICKS OF THE WEEK
(Probably being too hard on myself there, but I need some negative reinforcement this week)
Minnesota at Washington, Vikings by 1.5
My ATS pick: Washington
Heck yeah I’m taking the Redskins again! This will be the 9th straight time, and as I noted above, I’ve got little regrets from taking them so often (even though I have losing record with them). I finally took the time to see why I’ve got them ranked so high and it’s mostly this: they’ve lost 10 fumbles and have only recovered 4. Basically, The Machine thinks that they’ve just been unlucky and are really a Top 10 team! They upset the Nordic invaders: Redskins 21, Vikings 19.
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville, Jaguars by 4.5
My ATS pick: Jacksonville
Not much to say about this one except that The Machine is totally on the Jaguars bandwagon. I’ve got them as the 5th best team in the league, and the Chargers 22nd. If QB Blake Bortles can take care of the ball, the Jaguars have a chance to win a lot of games. I think they dominate the Bolts: Jaguars 21, Chargers 12.
Cincinnati at Tennessee, Titans by 5.5
My ATS pick: Bengals
My pick of the week; I just can’t wrap my mind around this spread. On a neutral field, the Titans would be favored by 3, does that sound right? Aren’t these teams more like equals? Football Outsiders DVOA has the Bengals at 23 and the Titans at 18, but they’re about equal in ANY/A – Bengals are ranked 21st, Titans 22nd. On top of that both of their pass defenses are about the same: Bengals are ranked 10th in opponent ANY/A, the Titans are ranked 12th. So I’m going to hang my hat on to the fact that the Bengals have a slight advantage in the passing game. Andy Dalton and A.J. “Eye of the Tiger” Green lead Cincinnati to a win in a tight one: Bengals 17, Titans 16.
That’s all for now, have a great week all.