Archive for September, 2011

The Crystal Ball - Week 4

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Week three was kind of brutal, the straight up picks fell off to 9 -7 taking the season record down to 33 – 15. Picking against the spread still failed to make the break-even point coming in at 7 – 9 for the week the record falling to 20 – 27 – 1 for the season thus far but we are looking to come back this week; of course we were looking for that last week also.

My disclaimer goes like this. These picks are for amusement value only; not to be confused with the recommended picks of the site. I participate in a pick ‘em league and these represent my view of the weekly games for that league though I occasionally modify my picks there as injury news becomes clearer later in the week. My versus the spread results are against the line at the time I made the pick, usually the Tuesday before the games are played; I try to get these posted no later than Wednesday after seeing the practice reports.

Week 4

Buffalo at Cincinnati – Cincinnati is showing the growing pains and inconsistency of a rookie quarterback, the defense is inconsistent as well. Buffalo seems to be for real; the offensive line is a huge surprise here and the defense also has exceeded expectations, a possible let down but Bills win 27 – 21.

Carolina at Chicago – The Panthers offense has been sporadic and could use a bit more balance their defensive injuries and lack of depth are a concern. Chicago needs to remember that it is within the rules to run the ball, the defense needs to get rest to be most effective, Bears win 21 – 17.

Detroit at Dallas – Dallas has some offensive line issues and injuries to their receiving corps; the defensive secondary is an issue as well. Detroit will be getting their first round draft pick to improve what is already the best defensive line in the league, Lions win 24 – 21.

Minnesota at Kansas City – The Chiefs played a better game last week than any other so far this year but they have a lot to overcome. The Vikings need to play a second half even, they have blown big first half leads with sloppy second half play, and something has to give, Vikings win 24 – 21.

New Orleans at Jacksonville – Jacksonville has a rookie quarterback and a rather thin receiving corps which invites defenses to stack the box, one-dimensional teams do not beat good teams. New Orleans offense is potent, the defense is getting better, Saints win 31 – 17.

Pittsburgh at Houston – The Steelers are on a short week and if they have an issue it is matching up with good receivers which will be a problem this week. Houston is still working some things out on defense but the offense is dynamic and can make big plays at any time, Texans win 28 – 21.

San Francisco at Philadelphia – San Francisco has a reasonable defense but the offensive line and the offense in general is not good. The Philadelphia defense is not good up front; Vick’s playing style means he takes too many hits, but he makes the offense work, Eagles win 28 – 17.

Tennessee at Cleveland – The Browns have a limited offense though they play hard, injuries to the offensive line have hurt as they lack overall depth. Tennessee has lost their most effective offensive weapon but their defense is solid and Hasselbeck has been playing well, Titans win 21 – 17.

Washington at St. Louis – St Louis has been struggling, a difficult schedule, mediocre defense, injuries, and a lack of depth have all contributed. Washington has played good defense overall; the offense is not particularly dynamic but has been generally successful, Redskins win 24 – 21.

Atlanta at Seattle – The Seahawks offense almost looked as if it existed last week, getting Rice on the field helped them but this will be a more difficult task.  Atlanta is at their best when their offense is balanced, the defense is still vulnerable to the deep ball, not likely this week, Falcons win 24 – 14.

NY Giants at Arizona – The Arizona defense has been bad against bad teams; the offense has some talent but not enough to overcome their defense. New York may be the most beat up team in the league, both the defense and offense have been missing key components, Giants win 28 – 14.

Denver at Green Bay – The Broncos have some talent but poor defensive depth; their running game has been inconsistent and won’t get better this week. Green Bay is playing well offensively though the defense has been challenged, the secondary can be beaten, Packers win 31 – 17.

Miami at San Diego – Miami has to travel across country after a disappointing loss to play a much better opponent; the team is better than their record but will not get to show it here. San Diego has very explosive offense and the defense is solid as well, Chargers win 28 – 17.

New England at Oakland – The Raiders have a powerful running attack behind a surprisingly effective offensive line and the defensive front plays very well. The New England defense has been really bad against the pass, the offense has been generally unstoppable, Patriots win 31 – 24.

NY Jets at Baltimore – New York has been developing a passing game since their running game has stalled out, one deep threat will not be enough. Baltimore can lose focus and has some exploitable flaws in their pass defense but they should be paying attention here, Ravens win 24 – 21.

Indianapolis at Tampa – The Colts played a solid defensive game but the offense is still out of synch, they are improving but still not there. Tampa Bay has been winning ugly; they would like to get their running game going and need more consistency, Buccaneers win 20 – 14.

Crystal Ball - Week 3

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Week two gives us a better look at who these teams are the straight up picks went 13 -3 making the record for the season 24 – 8 while the packs versus the spread for the week 7 – 8 – 1 leaving the record there at 13 – 18 – 1. This week is a bit odd in that the NFC has two inter-division games where the quarterbacks may not be available and at this point in the week things are not clear (and may not be until game time). If Romo and Vick do suit up the question then becomes can they finish the games against two pretty good pass rushes? For the record my choices assume these players are starting, I am somewhat less certain that they will finish their respective games though.

My disclaimer goes like this. These picks are for amusement value only; not to be confused with the recommended picks of the site. I participate in a pick ‘em league and these represent my view of the weekly games for that league though I occasionally modify my picks there as injury news becomes clearer later in the week. My versus the spread results are against the line at the time I made the pick, usually the Tuesday before the games are played; I try to get these posted no later than Wednesday after seeing the practice reports.

Week 3

Denver at Tennessee – Denver has a number of injury issues on offense that are still up in the air at this point; the defense is limited. Tennessee can run the ball and will use that to bring the defense up so they can make plays over the top in the passing game, Titans win 28 – 20.

Detroit at Minnesota – The Vikings have real issues on both sides of the ball, the running game is all Peterson but they have little else going for them. Detroit is playing well offensively; the defense is suspect in the secondary but the defensive line is strong, Lions win 28 – 17.

Houston at New Orleans – Houston has a very good offense with a number of weapons and a very good line, the defense has improved but is still learning. New Orleans probably has the most varied offensive scheme in the league, the defense has the home field advantage this week, Saints win 28 – 24.

Jacksonville at Carolina – The Jaguars have very little offensive punch at this point, the passing game is largely non-existent, and the defense is average. Carolina has been featuring their rookie quarterback and he has responded well; expect some fall off there, Panthers win 24 – 17.

Miami at Cleveland – Cleveland has improved but has limited resources; the offensive line certainly misses Steinbach. Miami is a good team but they are not designed to come from behind and have lost to two offensive power houses, this week is easier, Dolphins win 28 – 17.

New England at Buffalo – The Bills are playing good basic football, Fitzpatrick has been solid and the offense balanced. New England continues to present a variety of offensive weapons and can seemingly score at will; the defense is less reliable but good enough, Patriots win 31 – 21.

NY Giants at Philadelphia – New York may have the most significant set of injuries of any team in the league right now, a bad week to be understrength. Philadelphia has some real weaknesses on defense and will need to improve the run defense, assuming Vick plays, Eagles win 24 – 20

San Francisco at Cincinnati – The Forty-niners offensive line is not very effective; this leads to the defense which is not bad being on the field too long. Cincinnati is rebuilding but they are getting very good play from their rookie skill players, Bengals win 21 – 17.

Baltimore at St. Louis – St Louis has a short week and a number of injury concerns, they are young and showing it by making too many mistakes. Baltimore was outplayed last week but was also flat; something not likely to happen two weeks in a row, Ravens win 28 – 17.

Kansas City at San Diego – The Chiefs lost their primary offensive weapon and the offense has no rhythm so far this season, the defense has been shredded the past two weeks. San Diego has a number of offensive weapons; the defense is solid and getting better, Chargers win 31 – 14.

NY Jets at Oakland – Oakland has played well considering their patchwork offensive line, the running game is potent, and while the defense is solid up front it is subject to breakdowns. The New York defense is living up to its billing and the offense is versatile, Jets win 27 – 17.

Arizona at Seattle – The Seahawks are not very good in any aspect of the game at this point though they have historically played better at home. Arizona has some offensive potential though the offensive line is mediocre; the defense is not good, but probably good enough this week, Cardinals win 24 – 20.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay – Tampa Bay can struggle offensively and is best in games where they can control the tempo and play with a lead, not the likely scenario for this week. Atlanta has been up and down the last two weeks but the level of play overall is on the rise, Falcons win 28 – 24.

Green Bay at Chicago – The Bears are built around their defense, the offense is inconsistent though and the offensive line is inconsistent at best. Green Bay stumbled a bit last week but should be focused here; the offense can make big plays seemingly at will, Packers win 28 – 21.

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis – Indianapolis is learning how to play offensive football without Manning and it looks to be a very slow process. Pittsburgh has reasserted themselves defensively, the offensive line is not particularly good at this point of the season but not an issue this week, Steelers win 28 – 10.

Washington at Dallas – Washington has started well but has limited weapons available and the play at quarterback can be somewhat erratic. Dallas has injury issues but the surprise here has been the play of the defense which is coming along quickly, Cowboys 24 – 20.

The Crystal Ball - Week Two

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Week one is behind us and perhaps so is some really bad special team play, that of course remains to be seen. For week one the straight up came in at 11 – 5 while the packs versus the spread were a very disappointing 6 – 10. Need to get a better handle there, that is for sure.

The standard disclaimer goes like this. These picks are for amusement value only, not to be confused with the recommended picks of the site. I participate in a pick ‘em league and these represent my view of the weekly games for that league though I occasionally modify my picks there as injury news becomes clearer later in the week. My versus the spread is as the line stood at the time I made the pick, usually the Tuesday before the week; I try to get these posted no later than Wednesday.

Week 2

Arizona at Washington – The Arizona defense is not particularly good, their pass rush is poor; the offense has some weapons but is inconsistent. Washington is also inconsistent but they have some balance, the defense can get pressure which protects their secondary, Redskins win 24 – 17.

Baltimore at Tennessee – The Titans have issues on both sides of the ball, the offense has limited weapons the defense is suspect against the pass. Baltimore may be slightly down after coming off of a big win over a division rival but has more than enough talent edge here, Ravens win 28 – 14.

Chicago at New Orleans – Chicago looked good last week at home but has a tougher test in store in an unfriendly environment; the offensive line will be tested. New Orleans has a versatile and prolific offense; the defense will improve as the season progresses, Saints win 28 – 20.

Cleveland at Indianapolis – Cleveland has a balanced offense and the defense is improved but the lack of a pass rush is an issue. The Colts basically have to develop a new offensive playbook on the fly; they are not as bad as they looked, this game is a character test as much as anything else, Colts win 24 – 20.

Jacksonville at NY Jets – Jacksonville has limited offensive resources outside of their running game, and the defense is inconsistent. New York is defined by their defense and is not going to be challenged by a one dimensional opponent; the offensive production is inconsistent, Jets win 28 – 14.

Green Bay at Carolina – The Panthers played well last week but have a more difficult task, their defense lost Beason and the secondary does not match up here. Green Bay has had a couple of extra days to prepare and to get their defense focused, the offense should roll again, Packers win 31 – 17.

Kansas City at Detroit – Kansas City has some offensive line concerns and need to be able to sustain drives to protect their defense from being exposed. Detroit has an explosive offense and a defense that is aggressive and very strong up front, a plus matchup this week, Lions win 31 – 20.

Oakland at Buffalo – The Raiders have to travel across country on a short week, the defensive line looks solid, the offense a work in progress. Buffalo could be a bit flat after their win but the offensive line played better than anticipated and the run defense is decent, Bills win 21 – 14.

Seattle at Pittsburgh – Seattle has issues on both sides of the ball but the offensive line play will be particularly challenged in this matchup. Pittsburgh should have no problem focusing on this game; the defense should be particularly effective this week, Steelers win 28 – 10.

Tampa Bay at Minnesota – The Vikings have various weapons but they are inconsistent on both sides of the ball, the flaws seem to show up at the most inopportune times. Tampa Bay has a solid defense; the offense is solid if unspectacular, Buccaneers win 21 – 17.

Dallas at San Francisco – San Francisco has a decent defense but the offensive line is not effective; the offense is limited and inconsistent. Dallas has a better than expected offensive line and plenty of weapons, the defense is aggressive but thin, Cowboys win 28 – 17.

Cincinnati at Denver – The Bengals have a number of issues on offense but have a running game that gives them some options. Denver will need to execute better, particularly in terms of getting their running game established; defensively they are improved but inconsistent, Broncos win 27 – 21.

Houston at Miami – Miami faces another prolific offense and on a short week, their offense has good potential but not to enough to keep up in a shootout. Houston has the offense to score on about anyone, the defense is coming along but the secondary has issues, Texans win 28 – 24.

Philadelphia at Atlanta – The Falcons are a ball control team and do not play well from behind; the defense is sound but does not have good speed a matchup problem here. Philadelphia has big play capability from anywhere on the field and the defense is still a work in progress, Eagles win 24 – 21.

San Diego at New England – The Charger special teams took a hit losing their place kicker on the first play of the season; the offense is explosive and will need to be. New England has started off with an offensive explosion; the defense is not quite as solid, Patriots win 31 – 24.

St. Louis at NY Giants – St Louis has a number of injuries that will limit impact their offense; the defense is also nicked and still missing some pieces. New York has some defensive injuries, perhaps the extra day will help there; the offense needs to execute the running game better, Giants win 28 – 21.

The Crystal Ball - Week One

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Opening week this season seems likely to produce some really ugly football as teams are going to have timing problems coming off of the shortened offseason. This may lead to some big plays and game plans that are just flat out not going to work. Teams with the most coaching and personnel continuity are going to do better overall and settle down fastest. Still there could be some very odd results, my evaluation is normally based that these things average out but when breakdowns occur within a game is often critical to the flow of the rest of the game. It could be an entertaining weekend, in a car wreck sort of a way.

I participate in a pick’em league and these choices reflect the picks I make for that league; I can make changes until the first game kicks off and will (rarely) based on last minute injury information. These picks are for amusement value only; please do not confuse these choices with the real picks made on this site by those who are focusing on the best choices available as they see them. The line used is a line in effect when I picked the game (usually the day prior to the article being posted).

Week One

New Orleans at Green Bay – The Saints play one of the more complicated offenses in the league and the lack of preseason means they will likely take a bit to get things going, they will not get much time. Green Bay is relatively intact and should be ready to play; the defense will be the difference, Packers win 24 – 17.

Atlanta at Chicago – Atlanta has a limited pass rush but may be able to get pressure this week, if they can’t though the secondary will be exposed. The Chicago defense that matches up well and they have the special team advantage but will have to avoid turnovers in what rates to be a close contest, Bears win 20 – 17.

Buffalo at Kansas City – Buffalo always seems to be rebuilding, the offensive line is suspect and the defense is undergoing changes but they have talent in spots. Kansas City has added a bit to their passing attack and the running game is still good, the defense needs more consistency Chiefs win 24 –17.

Cincinnati at Cleveland – The Bengals are breaking in a rookie quarterback and will try to play ball control to limit his exposure. Cleveland is breaking in new schemes on both sides of the ball which rates to present execution issues but the new schemes suit their current personnel better, Browns win 24 – 14.

Detroit at Tampa Bay – One of the questions facing Tampa Bay is will their pass rush improve, it will need to get pressure in this game, the offense is generally balanced and sound. The Lions offense can be explosive the defense relies on the line play which can be very disruptive, Lions win 24 – 21.

Indianapolis at Houston – The Colts offense is based on Manning’s timing both by scheme and personnel, without him it does not work, the defense is somewhat improved, no one will notice. Houston has changed defensive schemes, not all of the pieces fit well; the offense will carry them, Texans win 28 – 14.

Philadelphia at St. Louis – St Louis is moving in the right direction on both sides of the ball, the offensive line should be solid and the defense improved but they are still developing. Philadelphia has an explosive offense and has added a lot on the defensive side of the ball that will need to coordinate, Eagles win 27 – 24.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore – The Ravens have had to make some changes along the offensive line and the defensive secondary is somewhat inconsistent both of which may be exposed this week. Pittsburgh has a good defense and the offense can be explosive, the offensive line play can be spotty, Steelers win 24 – 21.

Tennessee at Jacksonville – Tennessee is coming to town with a new offense and substantial defensive changes and their offensive centerpiece has had less than a week in the system. Jacksonville has improved their defensive personnel; the offense is not prolific but has sufficient weapons here, Jaguars win 21 – 14.

Carolina at Arizona – The Panthers are another team starting a rookie quarterback on the road with limited offensive weapons, the defense is not bad but generally is on the field too long. Arizona has some growing pains to work through as they adjust to new personnel but have the talent edge here, Cardinals win 28 – 17.

Minnesota at San Diego – Minnesota will be reworking their offensive and defensive fronts as long time stalwarts were cut, retired, or suspended; Peterson will be the focus offensively. San Diego has all of the pieces to have a playoff run if they can avoid their self-destructive tendencies, Chargers win 28 – 17.

NY Giants at Washington – The Redskins at times looks more like a soap opera than an NFL franchise, a lot of distraction there; the offense is limited though the defense is likely to be improved. The New York defense has started out with some early injury issues but had some depth, the offense is decent, Giants win 24 -20.

Seattle at San Francisco – Seattle has had massive personnel changes especially on offense that are likely going to take some time, the defense has improved but time will tell. San Francisco has turned over their coaching staff; they will be transitioning philosophies but slowly given their roster, Forty-niners win 21 -14.

Dallas at NY Jets – The Cowboys have made substantial changes to the offensive line to coordinate and likely a much more aggressive defensive plan to fine tune. New York continues to run their typical aggressive (and successful) defense but need to open the offense up more to take pressure off, Jets win 28 – 21.

New England at Miami – Miami has a good defense but need to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, offensive personnel has changed probably resulting in less wildcat. New England has become more conservative offensively; the defense should be very hard to run against, Patriots win 28 – 20.

Oakland at Denver – The Raiders changed head coaches again and lost a portion of their offensive line along with one of the best cover corners in the NFL. Denver will primarily be a running team but have a vertical threat if defenses crowd the line; the defensive pass rush should be decent, Broncos win 24 – 17.