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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 9

October 31st, 2013 Comments off
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Miami’s offense is so bad it makes Dalton appear to have a soul

It’s Halloween and this should be a night I enjoy not because of costumes and candy, but because last week I did well on my picks. I went 7-6 against the spread and 10-3 straight up. Looking back, I have no idea why I picked the Steelers because the Raiders always beat them. And I’m officially off the Philadelphia Eagles bandwagon. They are about to be in Jacksonville status where I will refuse to pick them every week regardless of the matchup.

Overall my record this year is 77-43 straight up and 57-63 against the spread.

Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-4)
Thursday, October 31 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Dolphins (+2.5)

This matchup gives me a bit of pause. The Bengals have played relatively well these past few weeks with Andy Dalton having a solid outing last Sunday. That likely means that Dalton is due to lay an egg this week. I think Miami’s defense is good enough to keep Dalton in check. Especially since Andrew Whitworth hasn’t practiced all week, and Cameron Wake is the healthiest he’s been in six weeks. Brent Grimes should be matched up frequently with A.J. Green, which should also be a boon for the Dolphins defense rather than Nolan Carroll facing him.

The problem of course is the Dolphins offense stinks. They got off to a fast start against New England last week, but that was thanks in large part to an erratic Brady and an early interception. There was absolutely no vertical element to their offense, thanks in part to the fact that there is no trust in the pass protection in front of Ryan Tannehill. And now they are facing a very formidable Bengals front, which will feature times where we’ll see John Jerry blocking (or not) Geno Atkins. That is not a good recipe for success for the Dolphins, and thus in good conscience I cannot pick them.

The one thing I like for the Dolphins offense is the fact that the injury to Leon Hall has forced the Bengals to move Adam Jones to the outside and they are platooning Dre Kirkpatrick and Chris Crocker in the slot at nickel cornerback. That means that if Miami’s passing attack is going to be able to overcome Cincinnati’s defense, it will rest largely on Rishard Matthews, who could be a big target over the middle.

Spread Pick: Bengals
Straight Pick: Bengals

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 8

October 26th, 2013 1 comment

For some silly reason, I feel good about this week’s picks. I’ve had previously good feelings in weeks where I bombed, but I feel a little bit of momentum with a relatively solid week of picking last week.

Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
Sunday, October 27 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Cardinals (-2.5)

This is a must-win for the Falcons in the sense that this is their most winnable game for the remainder of the season, with possible exception to their Week 11 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cardinals have a very good defense that should be able to keep the Falcons offense in check for most of the game, but they have a very poor offense that even the Falcons lowly defense should be able to overcome. I believe the Falcons defense will have another solid performance this week and win a squeaker on the road that will likely come down to the final drive. Matt Bryant better be ready.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Dallas Cowboys (4-3) at Detroit Lions (4-3)
Sunday, October 27 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Lions (-2.5)

The reason why you probably like the Cowboys in this game is because their secondary is better equipped to match up against Calvin Johnson than the Lions secondary is to go against Dez Bryant. But I think I like the Lions because I believe they will have more balance to their offense. I know, I don’t think the words “balance” and “Lions” have been used in the same sentence in the past four years. And I also like Detroit’s pass rush more to create some mistakes by Tony Romo, who is prone to do so on the road. Matt Stafford is quietly a solid year, so I like Detroit in a close one at home.

Spread Pick: Lions
Straight Pick: Lions

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 8

October 24th, 2013 Comments off

It was a bit of a better week picking games in Week 7 for me. I finished 10-5 straight upup, while going 7-8 against the spread. The Colts win over the Broncos was the big shocker from last week. Obviously there were several outcomes that I wouldn’t have predicted, but nothing that came out of left field.

My season totals stand at 67-40 straight up and 50-57 against the spread.

There’s been talking recently about the possibility of a Thursday Night doubleheader. I’d honestly be in a favor of it. Frankly I’d also be in a favor of a Sunday night doubleheader, assuming they started the games relatively early. Like say around 6 Eastern. If a West Coast team is hosting, it will always be the late game. I just don’t want to be up to 1 am watching games. It’s fun every once in a while but would get taxing if it happened every week.

I’m thinking many of these new schedule changes are eventually going to come so that the NFL season is longer, not necessarily in terms of number of games (18 games seems a decade or more away), but in length of time the season covers. I don’t think we’re that far from seeing the double bye week, and wouldn’t be shocked to eventually see a triple bye week. After all, if the goal is truly to make the game safer, giving players more rest makes sense. And I’m sure the networks wouldn’t be upset over having an NFL-dominated programming block over 23 weeks instead of 20.

Carolina Panthers (3-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6)
Thursday, October 24 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Bucs (+6.5)

The Panthers have dominated bad teams this year, beating the Giants, Vikings, and Rams by an average of 26 points. But they did lose to the Cardinals on the road, and with a Ron Rivera-coached team and Cam Newton-led team, there is always the potential for a letdown. But the Bucs were so bad last week vs. the Falcons and looked to be on the verge of quitting on Greg Schiano. Having a short week is usually a bad recipe for success in such a situation.

Arizona beat Carolina with tough defense and pressuring Newton. Patrick Peterson locked down Steve Smith, and if Revis can do the same, they got a shot. Losing Martin is huge but may not be that big a deal this week since they were unlikely to run the ball well against Carolina’s front anyway. So they will hope Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams can exploit the Panthers secondary and keep it close. With a couple of Newton turnovers, and there’s a chance Tampa gets their first win.

Spread Pick: Panthers
Straight Pick: Panthers

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 7

October 19th, 2013 Comments off

Another week of picking games, and hopefully a better week of picking games. Apparently my success in picking games last year was a fluke because I just can’t get right this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) at Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
Sunday, October 20 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Falcons (-7.5)

Obviously the line makers do not think highly of the Bucs. Understandably, because the Bucs offense has been nearly as bad as how good their defense has been this year. But this is not a great matchup for the Falcons, as their offense will probably also struggle to score against that Bucs defense. And thus the onus is on the Falcons defense to play well, which really hasn’t occurred  the past few weeks. I think the Falcons win at home,  but in a closer game than this line indicates it should be.

Spread Pick: Bucs
Straight Pick: Falcons

Chicago Bears (4-2) at Washington Redskins (1-4)
Sunday, October 20 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Redskins (-1.5)

The key to slowing down the Redskins is stopping hte run, something Chicago didn’t do last week against the Giants. Brandon Jacobs had over 100 yards rushing against a diminished Bears front. Rookie Jon Bostic will be making his first career start at middle linebacker and thus that’s not a recipe for success for the Bears, although I think Bostic will be fine. The bigger question is going to be whether the Redskins defense can stop the Bears offense. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery against one of the league’s weakest secondaries is not a recipe for success. The Redskins have played better in recent weeks, and that might be enough to get the win at home.

Spread Pick: Redskins
Straight Pick: Redskins

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 7

October 17th, 2013 Comments off

Another bad week against the spread, where I went 5-10 in Week 6 picking against the spread. Ten of the fifteen games last week were decided by two-score margins, and a few of them were complete surprises. Jacksonville covered the huge spread against Denver, and both St. Louis and Carolina obliterated Houston and Minnesota, respectively. And Brandon Weeden ultimately proved the downfall of my picks with his terrible play, allowing the Lions to get a 14-point road win.

I did better straight up, going 9-6, which is the first time I’ve finished above .500 since Week 4. That brings my season total there to 57-35, much better than my spread record, which is 43-49.

Seattle Seahawks (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (3-3)
Thursday, October 17 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Cardinals (+6.5)

This should be a solid defensive matchup between two of the better defenses in the league. That usually means that the game is going to be decided by one score or less. The problem for the Cardinals is that their offense is not very good and thus if they get behind early, they will struggle to make it close. But the positive for them is that they are playing at home on a short-week, and thus with their defense playing up to par, the Seahawks shouldn’t get off to a fast start.

The way the Cardinals can win this game is by controlling the line of scrimmage on defense, because we know their offensive line cannot do so on the opposite side of the ball. I have enough confidence in the Cardinals defense at home to keep this game relatively close and low-scoring.

Spread Pick: Cardinals
Straight Pick: Seahawks

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 6

October 13th, 2013 Comments off
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Steelers get their first win in 2013 this week?

I was not at all surprised that the Giants managed to cover in the Thursday night game. I said as much in my pick, but given that thus far this season I was 0-3 when picking the Giants, I could not pick them a fourth time despite an unwieldy spread in favor of the Bears. So this week I start 0-1 against the spread, but 1-0 straight up.

No Falcons this weekend, and I’m thinking perhaps that maybe that will bring me luck to get this season back on track as far as my picks go. I don’t know if I can say the same for the Falcons season, but I’m optimistic for myself.

I think part of my problem has been that I’ve made too many “unilateral” picks this year. Meaning too often I’ve taken the same team to win the game as to cover. And generally speaking when the spread is under 3 points, it makes sense for that to happen. But when it’s larger than that, I should be much more willing to take the underdog.

Detroit Lions (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (3-2)
Sunday, October 13 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Browns (+2.5)

Brandon Weeden is starting, so how can I pick the Browns? But the concern with the Lions is if Calvin Johnson is once again out, the Lions really have nothing offensively they can throw at that tough Browns defense. But I trust Suh, Fairley, and that Lions front to wreak havoc on a week Browns’ front line, but the Lions looked completely out of sorts without Johnson last week. But even if Johnson does play, I can’t imagine him to be that effective going up against Joe Haden at less than 100-percent.

Spread Pick: Browns
Straight Pick: Browns

Green Bay Packers (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
Sunday, October 13 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Ravens (+3.5)

Baltimore had a dozen listed as questionable or worse on their injury report this week, but I suspect most of them will play. I believe that Torrey Smith should feast against a weak Packers pass defense that is made weaker by the absence of Clay Matthews. But it should be noted that the Packers are 4-2 in games that Matthews has missed over the years, so it’s not as if they haven’t been able to overcome his absence. I simply don’t trust Joe Flacco, and the Packers are looking for their first road win, as they blew fourth quarter leads to the 49ers and Bengals earlier this season.

Spread Pick: Packers
Straight Pick: Packers

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 6

October 10th, 2013 Comments off

I managed to go a quasi-respectable 8-6 last week against the spread. That means that this week I won’t have to flip my picks since I promised that I would if I didn’t finish above .500. My season total against the spread now sits at an adequate 38-39, although that means a coin is better at picking games than me. But like the Falcons, I’m hoping I’m just off to a slow start and right about now I’ll start to hit my stride.

I finished 7-7 on straight picks last week. I don’t think I’ve ever done better vs. the spread than straight up. For the year, I’m 48-29.

New York Giant (0-5) at Chicago Bears (3-2)
Thursday, October 10 at 8:25 on NFL Network

Line: Bears (-7.5)

I’ve picked the Giants three times this year, and they’ve burned me each time. For that reason alone I’m picking the Bears. But I really don’t love the Bears in this one. Charles Tillman is a game-time decision and without him, I have a feeling that Cruz & Co. might go off. But the Giants line isn’t very good, so Eli should be under steady pressure. The Bears defense is good at creating turnovers and few teams in NFL history have been worse than this year’s Giants team at preventing them. David Wilson is also out and thus I have no clue who will be running the ball. But I also have this gnawing feeling that this is the week that JPP resumes being JPP and forces a bunch of Cutler turnovers. I’d feel better about picking the Bears if the line was 6.5 instead of 7.5. It’ll epitomize my entire year of picks if this is the week that the Giants finally look good.

Spread Pick: Bears
Straight Pick: Bears

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 5

October 5th, 2013 Comments off

It all seemed to be spiraling down the drain on Thursday night. After two weeks of picking against the Cleveland Browns, I decided to take them in their NFL Network matchup against the Buffalo Bills. But then Brian Hoyer went down with an injury, and the Bills were off to a quick 10-0 lead. And with Brandon Weeden coming into the game, it seemed doubtful that they would be able to mount the comeback to cover the 4.5-point spread. Well, thank goodness for the Browns special teams and defense. The Bills scored only one offensive touchdown under E.J. Manuel, thanks to a long run by C.J. Spiller. And then Manuel got bounced out of the game in the third quarter, and we discovered at least one quarterback that is worse than Brandon Weeden: Jeff Tuel.

So I’m off to a 1-0 start this week. But in truth picking Thursday games haven’t really been the problem this year, as I’m now 3-2 there. It’s been Sundays that have plagued me as I’ve wound up with losing records on each of the past three weeks thanks to abysmal weekend picks. And I’m not backing off on my promise I made Thursday. If I don’t go at least 7-6 on today’s picks, then next week I’m going to make the opposite picks. I will analyze the games as I normally would, and then pick the opposite of the team that my analysis would indicate.

New York Jets (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
Monday, October 7 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

Line: Falcons (-9.5)

There is no doubt in my mind that the Falcons are far and away the best 1-3 team in the league. It would be a toss-up between the Jets and Arizona Cardinals as to who is the worst 2-2 team. The positive thing for the Jets in this matchup is that they have a very good defense that could give fits for the inconsistent and struggling Falcons offense. But I’m also hopeful that this is the week the Falcons start to put it all together and get out of their rut, by being more balanced, scoring in the red zone, and generally just looking like the playoff team that most people envisioned we’d see in 2013. The Jets have struggled on the road to score points, mainly because they have a young quarterback. But a 10-point win is a fairly big margin which gives me pause considering Atlanta’s offensive inconsistencies. But I’m going to ride or die with my team and pick them to cover. Especially given the injuries the Jets have at wide receiver, which will cause them to struggle to generate offense and score enought points.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

New Orleans Saints (4-0) at Chicago Bears (3-1)
Sunday, October 6 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Bears (-0.5)

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 5

October 3rd, 2013 Comments off

It’s getting to a point that the only reason you should be reading this is to know who not to pick. Last week, I went 6-9 against the spread and 8-7 straight up. That brings my season totals to 30-33 against the spread and 41-22 straight up.

Had you simply looked at my picks the past three weeks and made the opposite picks against the spread, then you would have gone 28-19. If I can’t turn it around this week, then I’m going to just basically flip my picks. Whatever my gut tells me, I’ll choose the opposite. It can’t hurt at this point, right?

Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Thursday, October 3 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Browns (-4.5)

For a moment consider how long it’s been since either of these two teams could have squared off in a relevant game. Not since 2002, have the Bills and Browns both finished a year .500 or above. And not since 1989, have both these two teams both been playoff teams. The Browns did beat the Bills in the playoffs that year, thanks to a then 26-year old Bernie Kosar.

Now Cleveland is helmed by a 27-year old Brian Hoyer, who alongside wideout Josh Gordon has energized a lackluster Browns offense over the past two weeks. Meanwhile tight end Jordan Cameron continues to kill it and is following in the footsteps of other former basketball players turned successful NFL tight ends.

The Browns defense is playing well and is ascending into a top unit. Arizona should have never gotten rid of Ray Horton! And while it’s surprising to say it, for the third week in a row the Browns have the head-to-head quarterback advantage as Hoyer is outplaying E.J. Manuel. Manuel started the season relatively strong, but has tailed off in recent weeks. Frankly, without getting a combined 203 rushing yards from their ground game and Joe Flacco throwing 5 picks (leading to 13 points), the Bills really had no business winning that game last week. Manuel turned it over three times himself, and if not for Stevie Johnson timely recovery on another fumble it should have been four turnovers. And if they are that sloppy at home, then how are they going to be on the road on a short week?

Especially when they may not be able to counter Manuel’s shoddy play with a ground game since C.J. Spiller will be a game-time decision due to an ankle injury. They are also still beat up in the secondary, as cornerback Stephon Gilmore will miss another week, and now fellow starter Leodis McKelvin may also be out of the lineup. The saving grace for the Bills might be their defensive front, as the Browns have gotten subpar production from their offensive line, particularly on the right side with Oniel Cousins and Mitchell Schwartz. If players like Kyle and Mario Williams can disrupt and prevent Hoyer from connecting with his playmakers in Gordon and Cameron, then the Browns offense really doesn’t have much to go on. Unless you think Willis McGahee has something in the tank. But I’ll still pick the Browns because they are playing at home, and that defense has been rock solid. But if it does become that sort of defensive battle, then that often boils down to a kicking duel between Dan Carpenter (Bills) and Billy Cundiff (Browns). Cundiff missed two kicks last week, so advantage Bills?

Spread Pick: Browns
Straight Pick: Browns

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 4

September 28th, 2013 Comments off
Matt Ryan throws a pass against the St. Louis Rams

If you didn’t already know, Matt Ryan is very good at home

After two disappointing weeks of picks, I’m off to a good start this week with the Thursday night game being a win. The 49ers did not disappoint, and the lackluster Rams continue to be slow starters.

I honestly feel much more confident with my picks this weekend, as the matchups and lines seem to be fairly straight-forward. But given how 2013 has played out, I may wind up eating those words next week. If I can’t at least get eight wins this week, it’s not going to be pretty for me the rest of the year. Frankly, I’m expected at least 10 or 11 wins this week. Famous last words…

New England Patriots (3-0) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Sunday, September 29 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

Line: Falcons (-1.5)

I just haven’t been that impressed with the Patriots, and I think the Falcons match up fairly well with them. Especially at home where the Falcons are nigh-unbeatable and their defense typically plays much tougher. I don’t see the Patriots having enough firepower with their young receivers and a beat up Gronkowski, to match the Falcons offense. And while they do have some things on defense that can give the Falcons a bit of trouble up front, I don’t think it’s going to be as impactful in the Georgia Dome.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Chicago Bears (3-0) at Detroit Lions (2-1)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Lions (-2.5)

The Lions surprised me last week with their road win over the Redskins considering how bad the Lions have been under Jim Schwartz in road games. The Bears have owned the Lions in the Schwartz Era with a 7-1 record over the past four seasons. A big reason for that has been because the Bears are very effective at containing Megatron, as he’s only went over 100 yards receiving twice in that span. But a big part of that is having Charles Tillman, who is questionable this week with a groin injury. Henry Melton is also out, and I think that might be enough to push the Lions over the top. Reggie Bush will also be back this week, giving something else for the Bears defense to have to deal with. The Lions are the classic team that the minute they look to be building momentum, it quickly evaporates. So even though the matchups do seem to favor them, if the Lions are the Lions, then my pick is going to be wrong.

Spread Pick: Lions
Straight Pick: Lions

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