Archive for December, 2011

The Crystal Ball - Week 17

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Week sixteen was a very good 13 – 3 straight up with which brings the season record up to 162 – 78. Picking against the spread was another below average week 7 – 8 – 1; which means I am doomed to a losing record against the spread for the first time as I go into the final week of the season 109 – 126 – 5. The final week has all games being played on New Year’s Day this week so these are being posted on Thursday, a day later than usual to try to figure out who is being rested going into the playoffs the following weekend. There is a lot of guesswork in week seventeen as we try to figure out which teams have packed it in and who will be resting players.

The standard disclaimer goes like this; these picks are for amusement value only. They are not to be confused with the recommended picks of the site. I participate in a pick ‘em league and these represent my picks for that league though I may modify my picks there as injury news updates come in later in the week. My versus the spread results are against the line at the time I made the pick, usually the day before the picks get posted; this week that will be Wednesday evening after reviewing practice reports.

Week 17

Tampa Bay at Atlanta – Tampa Bay has been generally playing horribly and it looks like they are playing out the string waiting to go home for the off season. Atlanta is in the playoffs and could rest players here as they will be on the road next week but it likely would not matter a lot, Falcons win 28 – 17.

Baltimore at Cincinnati – The Bengals win and they are in the playoffs, they have a limited offense and solid defense but will need to be at the top of their game. Baltimore is playing for a first round bye and need the rest, they have been very inconsistent on the road, Ravens win 20 – 17.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland – Cleveland has been struggling on offense all season injuries have been an issue the defense has played well under the circumstances. Pittsburgh needs help if they are to change their seeding for the playoffs but need to win to take advantage of any help, Steelers win 24 – 14.

Detroit at Green Bay – Green Bay has a banged up offensive line facing a strong defensive line, if Rodgers is still in the game at the end of the half it would be a mistake. Detroit is in the playoffs and cannot help their position much the game plan may be vanilla, Lions win 28 – 21.

Tennessee at Houston – The Texans are locked into the third seed in the playoffs and are likely to rest players and pull starters early since a win here is largely irrelevant. Tennessee is in the playoff picture but even with a win would need some help, the running game has to get going, Titans win 21 – 17.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville – Jacksonville is still playing but the offense is ineffective outside of the running game, the defense has lapsed a bit of late. Indianapolis also is playing hard and can deprive themselves of the first pick in the draft with a win here, Colts win 21 – 17.

NY Jets at Miami – New York threw over sixty passes last week not a game plan they can live with, the defense has been somewhat flat. The Dolphins are playing well, the defense in particular has been solid; the offense is reasonably productive but they have limited options, Dolphins win 21 – 17.

Chicago at Minnesota – The Vikings have been in most of their games but without Peterson and with a limited pass offense the prospects are dim. Chicago has lost most of the key pieces of their offense in the second half the season, the defense is solid though overworked, Bears win 24 – 20.

Carolina at New Orleans – The Panthers have been playing well offensively and will be a popular dark horse next season the defense has injury issues and has been ineffective. New Orleans should probably not be playing this too hard as it is unlikely they can improve their playoff position, Saints win 28 – 24.

Buffalo at New England – Buffalo had one offensive touchdown among their forty points last week, probably not going to happen this week. New England has clinched a bye but needs a win to assure home field advantage; the offense line is nicked up, Patriots win 31 – 17.

Washington at Philadelphia – The Redskins have been inconsistent offensively but the defense has a good pass rush and will need it. Philadelphia has been up and down all season and it is difficult to predict how they will play in a game that has no payoff for them, Eagles win 28 – 20.

San Francisco at St. Louis – St Louis has had a difficult year; injuries to the offensive line and defensive secondary have led to another high draft pick. San Francisco needs to win to assure a first round bye but will likely rest up some of their nicked up players, Forty-niners win 24 – 10.

Seattle at Arizona – The Seahawks have been playing solid defense all season the offense is centered on the running game. Arizona has played better over the second half of the season as their defense has stepped up a bit, Fitzgerald is still the primary offensive weapon, Cardinals win 21 – 17.

Kansas City at Denver – Kansas City has been playing good defense and the offense has picked up somewhat since the coaching change. Denver has a very good defense and an offense that can grind out yards and ultimately field position, but cannot afford mistakes, Broncos win 20 – 14.

San Diego at Oakland – The Chargers have the talent to beat about anyone, the offense has ample weapons but mental errors keep cropping up. Oakland is struggling a bit but have a steady running game to control tempo and will need for the defense to get some stops, Raiders win 28 – 24.

Dallas at NY Giants – The Cowboys control their destiny here, win and they are in; the defense has had some curious lapses and the offensive line has its problems as well. New York faces another must win situation, if the defensive front gets pressure and the receivers receive, Giants win 27 – 21.

The Crystal Ball - Week 16

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Week fifteen went 9 – 7 straight up with one of the more upset scattered weekends of the season; the season record moves to 149 – 75. Picking against the spread was an average 8 – 8; which still leaves the season record moping along at 102 – 118 – 4. The NFL schedule has moved most the of games forward to Saturday this week leaving one day less of preparation and healing available. There are three games that look to have potential for the last team with the ball to win it and rate to be very balanced offensively barring special teams or defensive scores or big plays, Atlanta at Cleveland, Philadelphia at Dallas, and San Diego at Detroit and the “Battle for New York” has playoff implications for both clubs and a couple of other teams as well. Good football ahead, enjoy.

The standard disclaimer goes like this; these picks are for amusement value only. They are not to be confused with the recommended picks of the site. I participate in a pick ‘em league and these represent my picks for that league though I may modify my picks there as injury news updates come in 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 evening after reviewing practice reports.

Week 16

Houston at Indianapolis – Indianapolis notched its first win of the season, they still are not good but they haven’t quit either. Houston is good overall, of course the third string quarterback is limiting but last week’s loss will have them focused on trying to secure a playoff bye, Texans win 28 – 14.

Cleveland at Baltimore – The Browns have a reasonable defense but the offense has been mediocre, the running game is better with Hillis but not enough. Baltimore plays like a different team offensively at home and the defense can be dominating, Ravens win 24 – 13.

Denver at Buffalo – Buffalo has largely run out of resources, the defense is banged up and the offense has been limited by the loss of Fred Jackson. Denver has been playing great defense but the offense had been good about ball security until last week, Broncos win 17 – 13.

Tampa Bay at Carolina – The Buccaneers are simply not playing well; injuries on defense have not helped but the overall effort seems to have fallen off. Carolina continues to improve on offense, last week the defense stepped up a bit but the offense should prevail, Panthers win 28 – 17.

Arizona at Cincinnati – Arizona has played well of late, the defense in particular stepped up over the past few games, the offense is limited except for Fitzgerald. Cincinnati has a good defense and a steady offense though the status of Green will be a concern, Bengals win 21 – 14.

Oakland at Kansas City – The Chiefs had an unexpected win last week and it looked like a new coach and new quarterback worked but depth of talent is still the issue here. Oakland has a sound rushing game which is a match up advantage this week but needs the defense to step up, Oakland wins 24 – 21.

Miami at New England – Miami has been playing better defensively and Bush has provided some spark for the running game. The New England offense is still capable of finding weapons and scoring points the defense is suspect particularly the secondary, Patriots win 31 – 20.

NY Giants at NY Jets – The Jets offensive has been unproductive at critical times and Sanchez has not handled pressure well. In the battle of New York the Giants have also been up and down, the defense has been disappointing but the pass rush is still a strength, Giants win 24 – 21.

St. Louis at Pittsburgh – St Louis is still a struggling team with injuries and lack of depth ensuring them of a high draft pick and not much else. Pittsburgh could probably rest players and it would not likely matter but even if they should, Steelers win 24 – 10.

Jacksonville at Tennessee – The Jaguars have no credible passing attack which leaves the defense on the field too much and they wear down. Tennessee should be focused after last week’s loss and they have enough offense to wear down this opponent, Titans win 24 – 14.

Minnesota at Washington – The Vikings are struggling, the passing game has been inconsistent and the passing defense ineffective. Washington has been playing well behind a very banged up offensive line, the defense has been playing well and should be in control here, Redskins win 28 – 20.

Philadelphia at Dallas – Dallas has been playing well of late, the offensive line has some issues and the running game has taken a step back though. The Philadelphia offense has been playing well since Vick’s return though the defense play has improved as well, Eagles win 28 – 27.

San Diego at Detroit – The Chargers have been rolling offensively the past few games but the offensive line is a mess and will have problems this week. Detroit has issues but the pass rush here should control or at least limit big play potential at home, Lions win 28 – 27.

San Francisco at Seattle – Seattle plays well at home and offensively relies on their running game because the passing options are limited. San Francisco has the best rushing defense in the league, though on a short week they should have the edge here, Forty-niners win 24 – 20.

Chicago at Green Bay – The Bears have a good defense but the offense has disappeared with key injuries and a poor offensive line. Green Bay has defensive weaknesses and the offensive line is nicked up but it will not take much this week, Packers win 28 – 14.

Atlanta at New Orleans – Atlanta will have a difficult time in this environment though they are playing well at this point and have the better defense. New Orleans has the offensive weapons to put up points at will, this game will depend on turnovers or perhaps who has the ball last, Saints win 34 – 31.

The Crystal Ball - Week 15

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Week fourteen we went 12 – 4 straight up and it probably should have been better (second-guessed two games that both went wrong); this brings the season record to 140 – 68. Picking against the spread was a greatly improved 11 – 5; which still leaves the season record at a disappointing 94 – 110 – 4. The scheduling now slots games on four different days of the week as the season goes into its final weeks. The Oakland - Detroit game has the over/under for penalties at 26 ½; take the over (officials could wear the yellow off of their flags).

The standard disclaimer goes like this; these picks are for amusement value only. They are not to be confused with the recommended picks of the site. I participate in a pick ‘em league and these represent my picks for that league though I may modify my picks there as injury news updates come in 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 evening after reviewing practice reports.

Week 15

Jacksonville at Atlanta – Jacksonville looked like it had an offense last week, it has a defense and a running game but points will be harder to come by this week. Atlanta showed more explosion on offense than is typical, the defense is good against the run a key for this week, Falcons win 27 – 14.

Dallas at Tampa Bay – Tampa Bay has had a variety of problems, the offense has been mistake prone and the defense inconsistent. Dallas has simply been inconsistent, the offensive line play has been poor but they have a lot of talent at the skill positions, Cowboys win 31 – 21.

Miami at Buffalo – Miami has changed coaches and with possibly Moore and Long injured for this game there are a number of issues here. Buffalo has been decimated by injury the defense has been unable to stop anyone; the offense has lost weapons but a couple of options remain as Bills win 21 – 17.

Seattle at Chicago – Chicago has specific injury issues that have crippled their offense which was never that prolific to start with, the defense wears down. Seattle is traveling on a short week, the offense is limited but persistent, and the defense is sound against the run a key this week, Seahawks win 20 – 17.

Carolina at Houston – Carolina has been improving offensively as the year has progressed, the defense less so giving up a lot of late game points. Houston is playing well with their third string quarterback, the running game and the defense are performing well, Texans win 27 – 20.

Tennessee at Indianapolis – The Colts fall from the heights continues as the offense is inept, special teams terrible, and the defense ineffective. Tennessee is playing good defense the running game has gotten back in gear, the passing game is inconsistent, Titans win 28 – 14.

Green Bay at Kansas City – Kansas City has lost a number of offense weapons and has difficulty scoring points the defense plays well but is on the field too much. Green Bay is playing about as well offensively as anyone; the defense continues to make plays at critical points, Packers win 31 – 10.

New Orleans at Minnesota – The Vikings offense may get Peterson back and the passing attack has its moments but the defense has been declining. New Orleans is not as effective on the road but they have the most prolific offense in the league which is enough this week, Saints win 31 – 21.

Washington at NY Giants – Washington has offensive line problems that keep getting worse, the defense is better than the result last week would suggest. New York has control of their own playoff destiny and cannot afford a letdown at this point, Giants win 27 – 20.

Cincinnati at St. Louis – The Rams have been limited by injury, line issues have limited every facet of the offense, the defensive secondary has been replaced. Cincinnati has been in the tough part of their schedule the offense is limited the defense is solid, Bengals win 21 – 13.

Detroit at Oakland – Oakland has played less than quality defense of late and the injuries to the receiving corps have limited the offense. Detroit has a prolific offense and the defense can be disruptive though somewhat vulnerable to the run, they will need to avoid mental errors, Lions win 28 – 24.

Cleveland at Arizona – The Browns offense has been ineffective; injuries and lack of a quality receiving target are part of the issues. Arizona has improved defensively as the season has progressed the offense has Fitzgerald as a home run option offensively, Cardinals win 24 – 14.

New England at Denver – Denver has thrived in low scoring games, they have a running game and ball control and an aggressive defense. New England has a prolific offense but the line will be tested, the defense will need to slow down the run or time of possession will be a problem, Patriots win 31 – 17.

NY Jets at Philadelphia – The Eagles inconsistencies have been well documented; the defense has been particularly vulnerable to the run. New York has found a certain sense of urgency; the running game seems to be coming on in recent weeks a key this week, Jets win 24 – 21.

Baltimore at San Diego – Baltimore does not always play their best away from home and this trip has some risks, the defense will need to force errors. San Diego has been hurt by a number of injuries along the offensive line; they are getting healthy otherwise though, Chargers win 24 – 21.

Pittsburgh at San Francisco – San Francisco has won their division but is still playing for a first round bye in the playoffs, the offense is limited. Pittsburgh has had a few extra days to prepare and get healthy, the passing game is the strength here but the defense is still a factor, Steelers win 21 – 17.

The Crystal Ball - Week 14

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Week thirteen the straight up picks went 11 – 5 straight up not bad for what turned out to be a rather difficult week; this brings the season record to 128 – 64. Picking against the spread went an even 8 – 8; which after the past couple of weeks seems almost like a win but the season record is a dismal 83 – 105 – 4 making me once again glad that I do not bet football even recreationally. We are into the final quarter of the season, a time when some teams step up and others give up.

The standard disclaimer goes like this; these picks are for amusement value only. They are not to be confused with the recommended picks of the site. I participate in a pick ‘em league and these represent my picks for that league though I may modify my picks there as injury news updates come in 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 evening after reviewing practice reports.

Week 14

Cleveland at Pittsburgh – Cleveland has a decent defense but very limited offensive prospects in the passing game and faces a tough division opponent. Pittsburgh played well last week and the defense is good, the passing offense has been effective setting up the run, Steelers win 24 – 14.

Indianapolis at Baltimore – The Colts have had injury issues beyond Manning, the defense is small and does not hold up well as the game progresses. Baltimore plays well at home but has come out flat in games they should have dominated this season, Ravens win 24 – 14.

Atlanta at Carolina – Carolina is playing well as the season progresses and the offense comes together under Newton but the defense is still bad. Atlanta is not a great road team and will need to get the passing game going, the defense will need to stop the big play, Falcons win 28 – 24.

Houston at Cincinnati – Houston missing some key players is on the road with an inexperienced quarterback, the defense is solid and will need to be. Cincinnati has struggled, the defense is good but nicked up, the offense can produce big plays, Bengals win 24 – 20.

Minnesota at Detroit – Minnesota has a number of problems, defensively they are vulnerable over the top and offensively they are inconsistent. Detroit has been playing, not poorly but rather stupidly, penalties and a lack of discipline have cost them games of late, Lions win 31 – 17.

Tampa Bay at Jacksonville – The Buccaneers have been ineffective offensively and defensively terrible against the run not a good combination. Jacksonville does one thing well, run the ball, the passing game is truly ugly though; the defense is capable Jaguars win 24 – 21.

Philadelphia at Miami – Philadelphia has been underperforming their talent level but have an extra few days to prepare and get Vick back, the defense will be pressed. Miami has been playing well; the running game has been solid and the defense resourceful, Dolphins win 28 – 21.

Kansas City at NY Jets – The Chiefs have a number of offensive problems, including quarterback play though the defense been playing well of late. New York has had their offensive issues as well and the defense has been inconsistent at times, Jets win 24 – 14.

New Orleans at Tennessee – Tennessee is playing good defense and have their running game going on offense but is a team that needs to play from a lead. New Orleans can’t get all of their offensive weapons on the field at the same time; the defense is average at best, Saints win 31 – 24.

New England at Washington – The Redskins have injury issues and now suspensions; the defense has a good pass rush and will need it. New England still has defensive issues against the pass but are not likely to be challenged, the offense is playing well, Patriots win 34 – 17.

San Francisco at Arizona – Arizona been playing better on defense particularly the secondary but the offense is still very inconsistent. San Francisco may be without their best defensive player and have clinched the division but they still have the talent edge, Forty-niners win 24 – 21.

Chicago at Denver – The Bears will be without Forte and their starting quarterback, they have limited resources left, the defense and special teams are good. Denver specializes in playing and winning ugly, this should be a defensive struggle, Bronco’s win 21 – 17.

Oakland at Green Bay – Oakland has been typically inconsistent, they lack discipline but are capable of solid play on both sides of the ball when paying attention. Green Bay is playing at a high level offensively; the defense has been making big plays, Packers win 35 – 20.

Buffalo at San Diego – The Bills injuries have limited them on both sides of the ball but particularly on defense as the season winds down. San Diego is known for their late season surges, they are getting healthy at this point though the offensive line is a mess, Chargers win 34 – 21.

NY Giants at Dallas – New York has had a difficult schedule in recent weeks and injuries have not helped the defensive line needs to get quick pressure. Dallas has been up and down; it looks like Fiametta might return which would provide some help to the running attack, Cowboys win 21 – 20.

St. Louis at Seattle – The Rams have a variety of injury issues and now both quarterbacks are dinged up as well so things are getting worse. Seattle gets extra days to prepare and their running attack is solid, the defense is good and plays best at home, Seahawks win 28 – 17.