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Money Mouth: Divisional Round Picks

| January 15th, 2016

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I have no idea what’s going to happen this weekend. Not a single result would surprise me. So I’m going back to picking SOMETHING for these games. I finished the season six over .500. Still have a chance to get to ten over. But I need a strong performance. (For some reason I didn’t include spreads last week but I would have gone 2-2 any way you slice it.)

PATRIOTS OVER 23.5 PTS VS. CHIEFS

Here’s what Bill Belichick knows: his offensive line can’t protect Tom Brady from the Chiefs pass rush. And since no coach in history has been better at self-evaluation, he won’t ask them to try. Instead Brady will go to the quick-release pass attack with Edelman Edelman Edelman and neutralize Houston, Hali and company. I think it works. Not sure if Pats are healthy enough to win but they are healthy enough to score.

PACKERS +7 AT CARDINALS

I am going to be rooting very hard in this game so I’m making an emotional hedge. Would love to lose this one.

PANTHERS OVER 23.5 PTS VS. SEAHAWKS

Here are the Carolina scores over the last 8 games: 27, 44, 33, 41, 38, 38, 13, 38. I say they play with a chip on their shoulder as the media at-large keeps trying to convince fans the team is overrated. (2015 Panthers remind me an awful lot of the 2006 Bears. Nobody thought that team could make the Super Bowl until their plane landed in Miami.) Bold prediction: Panthers beat them up.

I will not be making a selection in the Broncos/Steelers game as there’s no point. Unless someone can prove to me Roethlisberger will be healthy it’s a sucker’s wager. But without Antonio Brown I’d need a big number to take Pittsburgh.

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Playoff Picks: Wildcard Round

| January 8th, 2016

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Administrative Note: We’ll resume our postseason positional analysis columns on Monday with running backs, Tuesday with wide receivers, Wednesday with tight ends & Thursday we’ll wrap up the offensive side of the ball with our analysis of the line. (Defense will come after the division round.)

KANSAS CITY AT HOUSTON

Am I willing to embrace the notion of Brian Hoyer winning a postseason game? No, I’m not. Am I willing to cast my support unabashedly for Andy Reid in a postseason game? No, I’m not. But since I picked the Chiefs to make the Super Bowl in August I might as well continue seeing red. And on a football note, the Chiefs don’t look to throw the ball downfield so their short passing attack should be able to neutralize the Houston’s greatest asset: Watt, Whitney and the pass rush. Chiefs 20, Texans 13

PITTSBURGH AT CINCINNATI

Here’s what I keep hearing from folks analyzing the wildcard round: nobody wants to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here’s my follow-up question: why? The Steelers controlled their road to the postseason and lost to Marc Trestman and Ryan Mallett! (And the game wasn’t particularly close.) Then in Week 17 the Steelers were horrible against Cleveland, with Big Ben throwing ugly picks to second-rate linebackers. If Austin Davis weren’t starting for the Browns and they didn’t decide to fumble away the second half, the Jets would be in the playoffs. So is Pittsburgh just going to turn it on? Bengals 24, Steelers 22

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Bears & Bucs Play Out the String (Christmas Edition!)

| December 24th, 2015

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THE GAME POEM

THOUGHTS ON THE TAMPA BAY BUCS

  • Bucs offense is simple. They want to hand the ball off a zillion times to Doug Martin and then make plays down the field to Mike Evans off play-action. If their running game is shut down it greatly limits their effectiveness to move the ball/score points.
  • Earlier in the week I paired the Bucs and Bears as two teams that weren’t ready to put themselves in the thick of a playoff chase. Four weeks ago the Bucs were 5-5 and positioned well to make a run at the 6th seed. Since then they’ve lost to a Luck-less Colts, a Saints team playing out the string and were roughed up last Thursday night by the Rams until mounting a late comeback. This is a team with a lot of weapons and a bright future. But they’re not there yet. The question will be whether Lovie can get them over the top in 2016.
  • Tampa’s rush defense is very good, allowing 30 less yards per game on the ground than Chicago. If the Bears think they’re going to control this game on the ground it’s unlikely. The way to attack Tampa is to isolate a couple familiar fellows at the backend of their secondary (Conte, Wright…etc.) and throw the ball down the field. The question will be whether any of the Bears receivers can get any separation.

NEW CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

Each year, from Thanksgiving until Christmas, I (like many) indulge in the joy that is the Christmas movie. And it surprises me that movies and television shows still find their way into the rotation. This last year produced two new additions.

A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS

It’s television the way television used to be made in the days of soundstages and cigarette holders and Dean Martin. Everything about it is a throwback and it’s still completely original. The highlight? George Clooney popping out repeatedly from behind Christmas trees to deliver the chorus of Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’.

DIFFICULT PEOPLE, “DIFFICULT CHRISTMAS”

The best new comedy on television in 2015 was Julie Klausner’s Difficult People and the final episode of the season, the Christmas episode, might have been the best. The highlight? Klausner getting fired from her job as a gift wrapper for reciting the story of Capturing the Friedmans to a customer.

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks For Week 13

| December 3rd, 2015

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Had a solid 2-1 day last week without putting the slightest bit of thought into the picks. My goal every year in gambling on football is to be 10 games over .500 at the end of the season. Have some to work to do down the stretch to achieve that.

GREEN BAY & DETROIT OVER 46.5 PTS

The Lions have finally started running their offense: drop Matthew Stafford back and throw bombs to Calvin Johnson. (Surprised it took promoting Jim Bob Cooter to recognize what the entire football watching public has seen for years.) I think Detroit puts up 24-30 on Green Bay and the Packers, who’ll play with desperation, should be their equal. 46.5 is a high number but it wouldn’t surprise me if this game goes into the 60s.

CHICAGO -7 VS. SAN FRANCISCO

Explanation will be available tomorrow in the game preview.

BUFFALO & HOUSTON UNDER 41 PTS

Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is from the Parcells/Belichick school of game preparation. What does that mean? It means he’ll look at the Bills tape and say, “We’re not going to let Sammy Watkins beat us.” And if you watch enough of the Bills you realize they are one team when Watkins is effective and another team when he’s injured/taken out of the game.

The Texans offense isn’t any good. Both teams should be in the teens.

Season Record: 19-15-2

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Art of Men’s Thanksgiving Day Games Thread (Including Da Bears)

| November 26th, 2015

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Art of Men, one of our main sponsors, is quickly becoming a force in the service world. They now have 1,600 members committed to doing good in the communities that need them. Last Saturday several members – including myself – provided 250 Thanksgiving turkey dinners to families in NYC’s Spanish Harlem. For full details on the event CLICK HERE.

I urge all readers of this site to simply go to ArtofMen.org on their phone and pop their email address into the space provided. You won’t regret it.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Packers. Thanksgiving.

| November 25th, 2015

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THE GAME POEM

“Turkey: A large bird whose flesh, when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude.”

-Ambrose Bierce

THOUGHTS ON GREEN BAY PACKERS

  • Green Bay’s defense hasn’t been great this season but they are actually ranked 8th in the league in points allowed per game. They are not in the top 20 of total yards, rushing yards or passing yards surrendered so what’s the reason for this anomaly? Turnovers. Packers are +8 on the season.
  • A defense’s touchdown-to-interception ratio is a stat I’ve begun paying attention to in recent weeks and the numbers really are quite telling. The two best ratios in the league are 8-10 (Denver) and 12-15 (Carolina). The worst ratio is New Orleans’ 28-4. Packers are 13-11, right near the top of the sport. (Bears among the worst at 19-5)
  • An interesting statistical tidbit from The Guardian (of all places):

By nearly every other quarterback’s standards Rodgers is having a brilliant season but he is not quite clicking with some of his receivers and his completion rate for the last three games stands at 52.1%, 57.4% and, on Sunday, 47.1%. Over that same same spell he has still thrown eight touchdowns and just one pick – he is Aaron Rodgers after all – but the fact that the chemistry between quarterback and receivers isn’t quite there (he has the lowest completion rate of his career in 2015) may cause trouble come the playoffs.

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks For Week Nine

| November 5th, 2015

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Can’t complain about my picks a week ago. Saints flew by their number. Packers never approached theirs. And the Bears / Vikings game was a coin flip. 2-1. Four games over .500 on the season. This week…

ST. LOUIS +3 AT MINNESOTA

One team I think is very good. The other team is the Minnesota Vikings. And if Teddy Bridgewater struggled against the Bears defense, what is he going to do against one of the best defenses in the sport?

GREEN BAY -3 AT CAROLINA

No comment. Well one comment. Where are all the people who argued the Packers wouldn’t miss Jordy Nelson? They seem awfully quiet to me. The Packers are consistently credited for having magnificent drafts and an unending basket of talent. But it’s never been true. They have an all world quarterback. But even he misses his best and most reliable weapon.

CHICAGO & SAN DIEGO OVER 49 PTS

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Season Record: 13-9-2

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Bears Schedule, Cutler Thought, Around the League & More!

| November 3rd, 2015

AUDIBLESNEW

NEXT FOUR BEARS GAMES…

…are absolutely brutal. But they also allow this front office and coaching to evaluate young players in valuable positions.

  • The Chargers are not good but they love to throw the ball and will throw for a zillion yards against this secondary.
  • The Rams & Broncos defenses will be the best defenses the Bears face all season.
  • The Packers are the Packers.

The Bears can play well for the next month and find themselves 2-9.

ONE THOUGHT ON JAY CUTLER

Interestingly his leadership is never questioned when he plays well. The reason? It was always bullshit. Jay’s problem is not personality. It is interceptions.

AROUND THE LEAGUE!

(1) Who have the Packers beaten this season that impresses you? The best team they’ve beaten is St. Louis and on that day Nick Foles kept throwing the ball to them. The NFC does not have a great team.

(2) Why don’t the Lions have 8-8 in them? Since 2001, here are the Lions win totals: 2, 3, 5, 6, 5, 3, 7, 0, 2, 6, 10, 4, 7, 11 and currently 1. While the whole league tends to spend most of their time in the 7-9 win range the Lions have only been in there twice in 14 years. They either make the playoffs or they’re awful. No middle ground.

(3) Todd Gurley is averaging more than 6 yards per carry. No other back in the top in the league in rushing averages over 5.

(4) Great late Monday night Tweet from Sam Farmer: “@LATimesfarmer: Luck is like a radio signal that keeps going in and out. We’ve got Luck. We’ve got Luck. Nope, we lost him again. Now, he’s back.” Colts owner Jim Irsay better act quickly or he will lose his star QB.

(5) Backup quarterbacks in the NFC are now 0-7 in games they’ve started. And people wonder why the starters get the money they get?

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks For Week Eight

| October 29th, 2015

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Three picks last week. Rams beat the Browns easily. Patriots barely scraped by the 28.5 number. Colts decided to spot the Saints about 70 points. Mediocre week but I knew it was coming. This week, I rebound.

GREEN BAY PACKERS UNDER 24 AT DENVER

Packers haven’t been convincing offensively in a month and the Broncos are one of the better defenses in the game. What scares me about this bet? I could very easily see Peyton Manning throwing points the other way. (I can’t believe that’s where we are with Manning.) I’m betting on Gary Kubiak committing to the run game, keeping Rodgers on the bench and still losing 20-17.

CHICAGO BEARS +1 OVER MINNESOTA

Hot hand.

The Bears have been a covering machine, even if I had an early line and pushed with them two weeks ago. Having seen enough of the Vikings I’m simply not that impressed. Love Cutler’s record against Minnesota, especially at home.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OVER 27 VS. NYG

Giants last three opponents were quarterbacked by Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford and Matt Cassel and they surrendered 27-27-20 points. Drew Brees is hot right now and I don’t think the Giants defense can withstand this onslaught.

Season Record: 11-8-2

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks for Week Five

| October 8th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 3.01.04 PM That’s more like it. The Dolphins crashed and burned. The Bears were never going to be beaten by more than a field goal. Detroit was every bit the equal of Seahawks in Seattle. 3-0, over the hump and back in the saddle again.

Chicago Bears +10 over Kansas City

Didn’t understand the line when it was released. Don’t understand it now. Usually that means I’m lost but I just don’t see this game as particularly lopsided and that’s an awful lot of points. More to come tomorrow…

PACKERS UNDER 27.5 PTS HOME TO ST. LOUIS

Packers always score a boatload of points at home. But I like them at 27 or below for two reasons:

  • This Rams defensive front can be hell for Aaron Rodgers to deal with for four quarters, especially Aaron Donald in the middle. Rodgers won’t have any time to look down the field for big strike, quick point plays. No big plays means points will take longer to score.
  • Todd Gurley. That was a “wow” performance from Gurley a week ago and I expect him to get better week-to-week. Want to keep Rodgers off the field? Feed Gurley.

NEW YORK GIANTS -7 VS. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Niners are dead. They are the worst team in football. They have the worst quarterback in football. And they are going to play the eventual Super Bowl champion in primetime? No chance.

Record: 6-5-1 (+$40)

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