This week is all about the best teams surviving against lesser opposition.
CINCINNATI (-9) over West Virginia - The Bearcats won't have a late meltdown this week, after letting UConn back in the game. Let's remember what the score was in the 3rd quarter of that game.
Iowa (+17) over OHIO ST - Everyone in the world thinks OSU will pound the Hawkeyes in this game, and they may be right. But let's remember that Iowa's defense is what the team is built around, not Stanzi. Plus the backup will have actually prepared to play this week, and the coaches have had a chance to modify the offense to suit his skills and inexperience. I still think OSU will win, but I'm taking the points.
DUKE (+12.5) over Ga Tech - The Jackets' pass defense has looked vulnerable at times this year, and it would be hard to underestimate how huge this game is for Duke football, even after the loss to UNC last week. I still deep down have confidence in GT but I'm betting the other way. I'd take a solid 10 pt win.
Stanford (+10.5) over USC - Two years ago, Stanford stunned the world with a victory at the Coliseum. This weekend, two programs are headed in different directions, at least momentarily. USC is rebuilding and the Cardinal just beat a team that pounded USC. The Trojans may still get their win, but we may see something more similar to the 14-9 score from last week at ASU.
Alabama (-12) over MISS ST - With the division clinched, I think a loose, confident Tide pounds the Bulldogs.
Utah (+19.5) over TCU - I know the Horned Frogs are good, but that is a huge spread playing a team whose only loss was at Oregon. And yes, TCU blew out BYU on the road, but 19.5 pts against the second-best team in the league?
Last Week: 2-4-1
November 13, 2009
This week is all about the best teams surviving against lesser opposition.
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Everyone got torn apart pretty good last week with their picks (the Magic 8 Ball was the league leader last week) - the only news to come out of that is that somehow Russell took advantage of two consecutive 0-5 weeks from Brien to take the lead. Moral of the story - don't have kids and expect to be successful gambling. Last week of byes and first week of Thursday night football games means that your picks need to be in to your favorite "odds-making associate" a little earlier this week.
OK, this week hopefully I'll get at least one pick correct.
Denver (-3.5) over WASHINGTON - I still think the Broncos are decent, and the Redskins really aren't.
Philadelphia (+1) over SAN DIEGO - Tough loss to Dallas last week, but I think the Eagles bounce back.
Dallas (-2.5) over GREEN BAY - It's time to admit that we were all wrong about the Packers this year.
ARIZONA (-8.5) over Seattle - I still think the Seahawks really suck, even though they blew out the Lions last week.
New England (+3) over INDIANAPOLIS - The Colts aren't going to go undefeated, and this seems like an obvious place for them to lose.
I beat Brien in picks. He beat me at fantasy. Stupid Chris Johnson....
Denver (-3.5) over WASHINGTON - This could very well be a trap line. Denver's offense has looked atrocious the past few weeks and the 'Skins D can be pretty stout. However, with Portis and Cooley out and Campbell under center, I just don't see where the Redskins' points come from.
PITTSBURGH (-7) over Cincinnati - Revenge factor, at Heinz Field, huge division implications, Cincinnati barely eeked out a win on their home turf earlier this year - I think Benson gets bottled up and the Steelers tool on the Bengals.
Kansas City (+2) over OAKLAND - The Larry Johnson distraction is gone, Matt Cassel has Chambers to balance out Bowe, and the Raiders are an all-around horrible team. I'll take the Chefs.
New Orleans (-13.5) over ST. LOUIS - Let's put it this way - one of my two fantasy teams has Drew Brees and Marques Colston. I really like my odds this week.
New England (+3) over INDIANAPOLIS - Anytime a healthy Tom Brady is getting points with a healthy Wes Welker and a healthy Randy Moss, I'm generally going to take the points, especially given that Indy's offense hasn't been as prolific at scoring this season.
Magic 8 Ball (17-29-0)
Cincinnati (+7) over PITTSBURGH - "Don't count on it." (Steelers won't beat the spread)
Kansas City (+2) over OAKLAND - "My answer is no." (Raiders won't beat the spread)
New Orleans (-13.5) over ST. LOUIS - "No." (Rams won't beat the spread)
New England (+3) over INDIANAPOLIS - "My answer is no." (Colts won't beat the spread)
First place! I'd like to thank our sponsors, my team, my family for supporting me in this endeavour, and most of all, Brien for going 0-10 the last two weeks to allow me to catch up.
Baltimore (-10.5) over CLEVELAND - The old Browns over the new Browns. The Ravens will look like the team that pounded the Broncos a couple weeks ago.
Dallas (-2.5) over GREEN BAY - The Pack have serious O Line issues, and just managed to lose in Tampa.
New Orleans (-13.5) over ST LOUIS - Does this need an explanation?
Denver (-3.5) over WASHINGTON - The Broncos aren't this bad, even on a short week traveling to the East. If the Skins could be the tonic for the Lions, I'm sure a decent Broncos team can find something to feel good about in Washington.
ARIZONA (-8.5) over Seattle - The Cardinals are starting to figure things out and look like the NFC Champs again.
Brien: DEN, PHI, DAL, ARI, NE
Jason: BAL, CIN, KC, MIN, WAS
Jeremy: DEN, KC, NE, NO, PIT
November 8, 2009
Note, I have to handle this week's selection to give a degree of neutrality to the proceedings. Brien is a Steelers fan, J-Red is a Ravens fan, and they'd undoubtedly pick the other if they had the ability to do this week's poll. I have a feeling the runner-up this week may well be a wildcard selection.
Yeah, I had to find the safe-for-work picture. The fact that this alone happens in the stands at Paul Brown Stadium by somewhat attractive girls (and trust me, I've seen the not-safe-for-work version - they're real, and they're spectacular) gives them the nod for having decent fans. Hey, when the product on the field sucks year after year after year, you have to entertain yourself somehow. Good for Bengals fans to have something to cheer about this year.
Steelers fans are annoying as fuck. They're EVERYWHERE. Seriously, I would venture to guess that every city in this country has a Steelers bar somewhere for Pittsburgh fans to congregate on Sundays. But, that's the counter - Steelers fans know their football, they're about as far from bandwagon fans as you can find, and they live and die by the Steelers. You get the feeling that it almost means more to Steelers fans than any other fanbase when their team wins the Super Bowl. That doesn't excuse them from being obnoxious, from thinking that the Terrible Towels are some unique invention by Myron Cope, and from in general being guilty of not shutting the hell up. I nominate the Steelers for a wildcard selection. But they're not going to win this division.
I will carve out one subset from this group - the members of the Baltimore Marching Ravens who were formerly members of the Baltimore Marching Colts and who were the subject of the ESPN documentary The Band That Wouldn't Die. Aside from that, Ravens fans are obnoxious in so many ways, I can barely get into it in my limited time here. I'll save most of it for the playoffs. But camouflage pants, the Essex/Dundalk/Glen Burnie accent, refusing to let the fact that the Indianapolis Colts took the Baltimore Colts' statistics die, the fact that they have blind hatred for Redskins fans even though Redskins fans couldn't give half a good goddamn about Ravens fans or their team, the fact that they treat their one Super Bowl victory/appearance in 13 seasons of existence as if they have the tradition of the Pittsburgh Steelers - yeah... Ravens fans... you win. Just look at the guys in the picture above - like the Village People in purple. And unfortunately that's not all that unusual at all in the 500-level on Russell Street on an NFL Sunday.
Grown men who chew dog bones and dress up like dogs. This is pretty annoying. However, they've suffered through more indignity than just about any other fanbase. Getting their hearts torn out by John Elway and Ernest Byner in the 80s, losing their franchise in the 90s, and getting a "franchise" back in the 2000's that is an NFL organization only in the loosest sense of the word. Add this to the fact that Cleveland has been torn to shreds by the economy, the fact that Browns fans sit through some of the shittiest weather of any NFL team, and the fact that you don't hear Cleveland in any of the same breath as NFL teams who are in danger of blackouts and you know what Browns fans - keep dressing up - do whatever you need to do.
THE BIG WINNER:
In the closest competition we've had so far, the nod goes to the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers could very well be a wildcard selection when we get down to the end. However, on the gestalt, Steelers fans at least can both talk the talk and walk the walk. They may well be obnoxious, but they have more reason to be obnoxious than Ravens fans. And on the scale of fan IQ, the average Steelers fan is going to score well ahead of the average Ravens fan.