Season to Date: 12-21 (huh?!)
Continuing my personal nightmare… here’s the result of last week’s Man-Beaters:
Carolina (-1.5), after handing Detroit 14 pts by way of interception for TD, wins by 1. Which means, in a game where I was giving 1.5 – my team won, but I lost. Nice!
Dallas (-3.5) had triple the Offensive production of the Giants for most of the game, yet only led 7-6 going into the 4th Q. Having survived 2 long G-men drives in the 4th they led 13-6, with less than a minute to go. Oops – TD New York (52 yds in 2 plays). Dallas wins by 3 in OT. Neat.
In an almost identical situation, Atlanta (-5.5) took a Turnover in to go up 31-24 with 4min left in the 4th. They then allowed an 80yd TD drive to force overtime. They won by 3. And I lost again. (I almost had a chance there as the FG was missed, but the Refs - who had conspired against me all morning - called a ridiculous Defensive Holding call to give ATL another shot at winning but not covering). Having fun yet?
All 3 of these games were throwing Turnovers, Penalties, and back and forth scores at me in a brutal barrage of “Yeah – No!”. And let’s not fail to mention the Bengals (who I had a “Guarantee” on. Which means a lot cuz I’ve NEVER lost a published Guarantee game) who were throwing back and forth chaos around in Tennessee – yet managed to advantage the ball and cover my tuckus. That’s 4 winning teams giving small points – for a 1-3 ATS result. The Man has me in diapers sucking on the thumb in my mouth… (good thing my Jaeger bottle has a nipple on it). That 30-minute period Sunday Morning probably took a year off my life. [btw – By Sunday most lines had Dallas –3 and CAR –1, but I post my column on Fridays and I’ll have to be accountable for the line I post at that time. I’ll sacrifice my cash, but never my integrity)].
Fortunately, the Seahawks didn’t play for another 4 hours and I was able to regain my senses in time for… a thorough butt-whupping that The Man could not refuse us! Ah yes – that was glorious. The Texans suck. And we said so better than anyone else has this year. You can be certain I was chewing out Homegrown well into the 4th Q for once again ignoring sensible play-calling, but when the end result says 42-10? I’m not upset.
So the Seahawks supplied one half of my winning total last week and I’ve decided to make a change here at BTM. I’ve never laid down money AGAINST the Hawks, and I rarely put money ON them (as my loyalties may clearly conflict with results) but in the interest of maintaining a reason to read this tripe while staring at a record that makes me wanna hurl – I’ll have the Seahawks on the card each week for the rest of the year. And that would include… picking against them. As I am this week.
DAL +3.5 @ SEA
Now before I delve into the reasons here, let me assure you I will be rooting against this pick voraciously. My loyalty doesn’t sway in the wind. But if The Man had me at gunpoint and said “Pick a team or die!” - I’m taking Dallas.
You may have noticed we managed only 3 sacks against a Texans team that gets shipped like Russet Potatoes more than any in history. Some of that had to do with getting the early lead and dropping all but 3 for much of the 2nd half, but most of it has to do with the fact we’re just not getting to the QB. The Cowboys are very happy with Drew Bledsoe this year and, quite specifically, if he does not get harassed? They have the weapons to pick your Secondary apart. With Hamlin just out of the ICU (obviously his health is priority one here, but keep in mind the guy had bumped his game up another notch this year and had Pro Bowl written all over him. That’s a tremendous loss to our football team right now) they’re matching up quite nicely with us in that area. Be prepared for another 3rd down conversion ratio you can’t stand to look at.
Defensively, Dallas is vulnerable deep (and you don’t need me to tell you that). But with Jackson and Engram still on the shelf, we’re not as threatening as we need to be facing a team of this caliber. Along with our sudden respect tends to come complacency – and the Hawks might find themselves a little bit frustrated when the pistons aren’t firing the way we’re used to the last couple weeks. But if we’re able to fight through a physical 2nd Quarter, and come out with a win here? Then we really do have a team to respect this year. If we can get past this game, we’re looking at a VERY winable November (where we can lock up the Division) and solid positioning for the playoffs. No one wants that result more than I do… but history says otherwise. Here’s hoping they really stick it to me for doubting them.
CIN –1 vs PITT
Oh, you KNEW I wanted a piece of this game. Excellent match-up here that I’m sure much of the NFL will be looking at with every bit as much interest as you and I. As mentioned in previous articles, I’m a little more skeptical than most regarding the Bengals. Which isn’t to say I don’t respect them. I’m just not quite sold on that Defense as of yet. And more importantly, they have not played ANYone who can win with authority… except the Jagz, who beat them - and we can’t be certain have turned the corner just yet either. Having burned through the month of September, Cincinnati has clearly cooled a little heading into mid-season. The fact is, if they want to be considered a contender? They MUST beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and claim rightful ownership of the Division. I am confident that will happen. Because…
I don’t fear Pittsburgh as much as the next guy. After stamping out TEN and HOU, the Black and Yellow fell to both New England and Jax – while managing an impressive win in San Diego. Those last 3 games have been brutal, and left them ailing. You’re looking at an injury list beyond a banged up Big Ben. Like Seattle, both starting Wideouts (Ward and Randle El) are Q for this game which may help keep the Bengals’ impressive Takeaway ratio looking healthy. Add to that list several heavy injuries in the Secondary (an area I think vulnerable even WITH their starters able) and you can see Bengals QB Carson Palmer feeling pretty comfortable slinging it around in the jungle (even without WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who is Q for the Tigers).
The bottom line here is the Bengals are FULLY aware their season depends on this game. Nothing that came before will matter at all if they fall to the Steelers in Cincinnati. They’ve shown a little bit more than I expected entering the season and I have to trust they’ll capitalize and steal credibility from Pittsburgh.
BUF +3 @ OAK
Two weeks ago I jumped off the Buffalo herd with disgust and declared starting QB Kelly Holcomb won’t make a bit of difference. Guess what, that was bad timing – and an incorrect assessment. The QB switch has proven to make all the difference in the world and the Bills are suddenly able to get their WR’s involved in the game plan. They’ve peeled off 2 wins facing the mediocre Jets and Dolphins. They’ve done it with Defense, and a steady ball control Offense featuring Willis McGahee.
Defense is something the Raiders don’t have this year. They gave what little of that they had away for WR Randy Moss. Guess who won’t be playing this week? Oops – double negative! The Raiders will be looking to exploit the 5.3/carry Rush defense of the Bills (and boy howdy THAT is scary!) but I’ve got to believe that’s a flawed number or teams like the Jets and Dolphins would have delivered a win the last 2 weeks with the Offensive approach they prefer. Furthermore, without Moss, the Bills have a better chance to stack the box and take their chances with Porter getting deep on them. I say stack ‘em up and treat Kerry Collins like the pansy he is.
There is nothing in Oakland that makes me believe I should be getting 3 points in this game. The bookman is looking at Buffalo’s road tally’s of 3-19 @ TB and 7-19 @ N ORL. I’m willing to look past that and say they move the ball on this particular Defense.
DEN +2 @ NYG
The Giants did nothing until the final minutes in Dallas last week. In fact, they’ve done nothing all year long beating the likes of AZ, N ORL, and the Rams – while fielding one of the NFL’s worst Defenses in the process. Denver on the other hand has grabbed headlines going undefeated following the week 1 upset in Miami – dropping the Champs, the undefeated Skins, upstart Jagz, red hot KC, and quite relevant Chargers over those weeks. Folks, that’s an impressive list. The Broncos have deservedly captured my eye after I ignored them completely this Pre-Season.
The Denver Rush game is hitting on all cylinders, with Tatum Bell breaking out the last couple weeks for a season long 6.8/carry average. With tough yardage guy Mike Anderson right behind him, we’re liking their ability to control the game. That squad should be looking good facing a beat up LB group in New Yawk. Am I getting on the train too late for a visit to the Big Apple? Perhaps, but stealing points from a highly over-rated Giants team just can’t be ignored.
AZ –3 vs TEN
I’m liking Arizona to turn things around a bit now. It seems they’ve rallied around QB Josh McCown (who understands how to advantage that group of talented Wideouts) and a general sense of unity has returned. This is a team I’ll be keeping a close eye on in the coming weeks. One you may be able to advantage a favorable number with while they remain under the radar (as opposed to the unreasonable expectations they held to start the season).
Word on the street says Titans leader Steve McNair might not make the field. But that is hardly the reason I’m favoring the Cardinals here (as back-up QB Billy Volek may be the best QB on the NFL pine). It’s an area unfamiliar to Tennessee, the Cards are coming of a perfectly scheduled BYE that’s kept them comfortable at home for weeks now. It just doesn’t feel like an Titans win. And we just might see Arizona open some eyes this weekend…
BAL –1 @ CHI
The Bears have been respectable this year and a favorite dog pick of mine. Meanwhile, Baltimore has stunk it up and left it’s supporters (myself included) looking foolish. Naturally – I’ll be taking the Ravens in this spot then, eh.
In Chicago it’s all about Defense, a decent running game… and a promising rookie QB. In Baltimore it’s all about Defense, a disappointing running game… and an inconsistent journeyman QB. The Poe Birds beat the struggling Jets and Browns. While Da Hibernators beat the struggling Vikings and Lions. The Ravens have yet to score 20+ and Chicago has played quite well at home. Lovie Smith’s crew looks like a team on the come, while HC Brian Billick appears to be losing control of his. So naturally, I’ll be taking the Ravens here… Look, I have no idea why I’m taking the Ravens, but sometimes you just see a number and say “Uh huh – that one!”. That kind of selection process can’t be much worse than the results I’ve managed otherwise.
This week’s trip to the poor house includes:
“Beat the Man cuz’… Schlep needs all the help he can get this year”
G. Scott Jones is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Seahawks.NET. Reaction of any sort is always encouraged at email@example.com.