2109 Week Fourteen Picks

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I am still annoyed about Thursday Night’s pick because if Dan and I have learnt anything about picking games in the last five years, it is that your first instinct is always better than changing your mind. Now, that is totally un-scientific and could even be wrong and some kind of confirmation bias, but it is yet another thing to account for when picking games. Yes we’re getting to the end of the regular season and yes, I am pretty competitive so first the trivia question and then the picks as I’m running out of time to catch up.

‘Prior to moving to Indianapolis in 1984, what city did the Colts call home?’

I know this one as the Baltimore Colts were famously taken to Indianapolis, but the Colts’ marching band stayed together and played on until the original Cleveland Browns franchise was moved to Baltimore to became the Ravens.

‘Not happy at dropping 2 points last week, and I think Gee will know this one too as it’s quite an easy one. Instantly knew the answer this week – the Colts moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis, and were replaced by the Ravens in the mid 90s and impressively won the super bowl within about 4 or 5 years! I look forward to receiving my bonus points for all of that!’
Panthers @ Falcons (-2.5)

The Carolina Panthers let go of head coach Ron Rivera this week and there is often a new coach bounce, but not as pronounced as in other sports as you can’t overhaul an American football team in the same way you can a football team as to a large extent you are tied to your playbook and personnel. Why do I mention this, because I don’t know what to do with this game. The Atlanta Falcons had a brief two week recovery but have lost two further games to fall to 3-9 but the Panthers’ current four game losing streak that includes last week’s loss to Washington was the last straw for David Tepper and why Rivera list his job. One of these losing streaks is likely to give and the Falcons are actually the better ranked team by DVOA, the points make me nervous but in a divisional game I’m going to reluctantly grab the home team but who knows…

Gee’s Pick: Falcons
Dan’s Pick: Falcons
Ravens @ Bills (+5.5)

This is my matchup of the week as the Buffalo Bills and their sixth ranked defence by DVOA welcomes the Baltimore Ravens who currently head up the DVOA rankings and look like the best team in the NFL. I am really looking forward to this game and the Ravens can put up points against anyone but the Bills are 9-3 for a reason and whilst I think the Ravens are more likely to win, I like getting this many points at home as the Bills defence is really good.

Gee’s Pick: Bills
Dan’s Pick: Ravens
Bengals @ Browns (-8.5)

I’m not getting carried away by last week’s win for the Cincinnati Bengals, and this week they are on the road taking on the Cleveland Browns, but this is a lot of points for a 5-7 team to be laying when possibly the only thing we know about the Browns is they can’t be trusted. The Browns absolutely have the talent to cover this line and may well do so but I’m not picking it.

Gee’s Pick: Bengals
Dan’s Pick: Bengals
Broncos @ Texans (-9.5)

The Denver Broncos were a little lucky to beat the Chargers last week and now travel to face the Houston Texans coming off a win against the Patriots. I like the Texans to win this game as they are the better team by eye test and DVOA but this line makes me nervous. The Texans have a top ten offence by DVOA but their defence ranks twenty-fifth, whilst the Broncos have damn near the reverse offensive/defensive rankings and have lost four games by ten points. I’m going to grab the points and hope.

Gee’s Pick: Broncos
Dan’s Pick: Texans
Lions @ Vikings (-13.5)

The Detroit Lions have lost five straight and may have extra rest having played on Thanksgiving, but a road trip to the Minnesota Vikings is not the kind of game to get right when you’re starting quarterback is still recovering from an injury. This is a lot of points, but the Vikings still have a good home field advantage and even missing Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook hurting his shoulder last week, I’m going to back them in this one and hope I’m not misjudging these teams.

Gee’s Pick: Vikings
Dan’s Pick: Lions
Washington @ Packers (-12.5)

I imagine this line is based in part on the Green Bay Packers big win against the Giants last week, but whilst the franchise is still a mess, Washington come into this game on a two-game winning streak. I’m not expecting an upset but the Packers have only covered this size line twice this season and I think Washington can keep the game close.

Gee’s Pick: Washington
Dan’s Pick: Washington
Colts @ Buccaneers (-2.5)

I hate this line and game from a picks perspective as these two teams are next to each other in the DVOA rankings with the Indianapolis Colts struggling the last few weeks thanks to injury and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing inconsistently all season but have won three of their last four games. I don’t have a strong read on this game at all and so I’m going to grab the team I trust a little more, but I have no idea if this is a good idea.

Gee’s Pick: Colts
Dan’s Pick: Colts
Dolphins @ Jets (-5.5)

The New York Jets lost to the Bengals last week and looked bad doing it as the injuries finally became too much. I don’t entirely trust my gut on this, but Brian Flores is definitely a good coach having got three wins with a team that ranks dead last in DVOA and a fair way behind the Bengals in thirty-first place. I think this is too many points for a team who just lost to the Bengals to be laying and so I’m going to pick the Dolphins for another week.

Gee’s Pick: Dolphins
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins
49ers @ Saints (-2.5)

This is a cracking game that pits two of the best NFC teams together and it’s a tricky one to pick as the San Francisco 49ers have won with a ferocious defence and enough offence. The Saints have a really good, well coached team and have the better quarterback but I think the 49ers might be better and getting this many points I’m going to grab them and hope.

Gee’s Pick: 49ers
Dan’s Pick: Saints
Chargers @ Jaguars (+2.5)

I have no idea about this game as the LA Chargers continue to struggle and Philip Rivers look bad, but the Jacksonville Jaguars have no real identity and are going back to rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew as Nick Foles failed to give them a spark after coming back from injury. The Chargers are the experts in close losses and whilst I can definitely see them winning this one, I’m going to grab the home team getting points even if what I want to do is run a mile from picking this game.

Gee’s Pick: Jaguars
Dan’s Pick: Chargers
Titans @ Raiders (+2.5)

I might be overreacting to the two-game losing streak of the Oakland Raiders and the turn around of the Tennessee Titans since putting Ryan Tannehill in the starting lineup, but I think the Titans are the better team. The DVOA rankings agree with me and the this line is more advantageous than the ESPN one so I’m going to go with the Titans. Watch the Raiders win this one now…

Gee’s Pick: Titans
Dan’s Pick: Titans
Chiefs @ Patriots (-3.5)

The New England Patriots were fighting illness as well as playing the Texans last week, but one of the safer picks in the NFL is the Patriots coming off a loss. However, there are real problems with the Pats’ offence so I wonder how the Pats as a team keeps up with a Kansas City Chiefs team that has Patrick Mahomes back from injury and playing well. This could well be a big mistake as the Pats defence is playing really well too, and the Chiefs defence is only ranked fifteenth by DVOA but this is one where I’m going to trust my gut rather than second guess myself and I just hope that betting against Belichick and Brady isn’t going to look too foolish tomorrow.

Gee’s Pick: Chiefs
Dan’s Pick: Patriots
Steelers @ Cardinals (+2.5)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are winning with tough defence and rookie quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges. They travel to face an Arizona Cardinals team who have now lost five straight. I’m not sure if the Steelers can make the playoffs as barring a big fall off from the Bills there looks to be only one wildcard spot left open in the AFC but I think the Steelers believe they can get there and I think despite their offensive struggles they cover this line.

Gee’s Pick: Steelers
Dan’s Pick: Steelers
Seahawks @ Rams (+1.5)

The LA Rams got back to winning ways last week with a convincing performance against the Arizona Cardinals but I still don’t trust them. The defence may well be third in the league by DVOA, but the problems have not been solved on offence and the Seattle Seahawks have three more wins for a reason. Divisional games can be funny and so I’m not rulling out the Rams cover or win, but I think there is a real gap between these teams and it would take more points than this to make me pick the other way.

Gee’s Pick: Seahawks
Dan’s Pick: Seahawks
Giants @ Eagles (-8.5)

This used to be one of the marquee matchups in the NFL, but not this year. It has been a while since the New York Giants were anything but bad, and this week injury has forced them back into starting Eli Manning and whilst he has handled his benching with class, it has been a several seaons since he has been a good quarterback. That said, the Philadelphia Eagles have not been good this season either, but interestingly are ranked tenth by DVOA and so this line is actually causing me problems. I would be surprised if the Giants won, even if the Eagles have lost three straight and we have to go back to week eight for a convincing win for the Eagles. However, whilst the line is big, it is actually a full point less than I’m seeing online and I just can’t trust the Giants.

Gee’s Pick: Eagles
Dan’s Pick: Ealges

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.

Competition Thursday: 2019 Week Fourteen

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I kept station with 3D last week, but there’s still seven points between us, although Dan has come back to me a little. It’s not too late to make up the points, but there’s only four weeks to do it so if it is going to turn round it needs to be soon.

Dan’s Dad: Week 13:   10-6 Overall:   107-85
Dan: Week 13:   8-8 Overall:   102-90
Gee: Week 13:   10-6 Overall:   100-92

Cowboys @ Bears (+2.5)

This is a tricky pick for me as the Dallas Cowboys are struggling right now, they have fallen back to 6-6 and are on the road playing in a cold and windy Chicago. The Bears have actually won three of their last four and so have fought back to 6-6, but there is still a 19.3% difference between them in overall DVOA. I like the idea of getting points as the home team on a short week, only both teams have had a full week to prepare after playing on Thanksgiving and this number is actually slightly better for the Cowboys than the consensus number I’m seeing. I don’t like either coach but tracking the ESPN number against a consensus number is working better than me second guessing lines so until I get to do the full spreadsheet I had planned in the off-season (but never quite got to) I’m going to use the number comparison system that has me beat by win percentage so far this season.

Gee’s Pick:     Cowboys
Dan’s Pick:     Cowboys

Week 9 Trivia

‘Timing is, they say, everything and football is no exception, particularly at this point in a season. It’s about now that the playoff picture is becoming clearer and that can change the motivation for each team. Some will be keenly preparing for post-season while others whose ship has sailed will be thinking of rebuilding and positioning themselves for next season. I know which group I’d prefer to be in but as so often is the case for the Vikings high hopes can be dashed at the last moment.

I expected the game at the Seahawks to be close and so it was with the Vikes building a first half lead only to see it more than wiped out in the third quarter. Despite a better forth quarter and it still being in the balance at the 2 minute warning, the timing just wasn’t right and salt was applied to the wound with a late field goal.

The result was that having levelled up with the Packers last week, Minnesota once again fell 1 game behind making the last 4 games crucial, particularly the divisional match ups. But I’ve travelled this path before and my gut feel is that once again the Vikes are looking at a wild card berth – unless the Packers really go off the boil.

What is most definitely bubbling are the trivia quiz and the Picks competition. Gee’s picks came through last week and while Dan picked up the pace again, with just 7 points covering us all this is going to be an interesting home stretch.

For last week’s trivia I asked:

In 2002 The Texans became only the 2nd expansion team to win its inaugural game. Against whom?

Dan spotted the nudge about time zones and went for Tennessee while Gee picked the Cowboys. Both good guesses and earning himself 2 points to leave him just 1 point behind on 13 – 14 is Gee. The Texans ran out winners 19-10 in a Home game at the Reliant Stadium – and if you are interested the first winners of their inaugural game was Minnesota in 1961,

This week the train rolls into Indianapolis and the question is simply:

Prior to moving to Indianapolis in 1984, what city did the Colts call home?

This is getting tight again, but we have several more weeks to go before the Superbowl. Bring it on’

On the Home Straight

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There is now only a quarter of the regular season left and week thirteen saw the Bengals win their first game, the Panthers part with one of the longest tenured coaches in the league, and Jason Garrett looks to be heading the same way at the end of the season after the Cowboys loss on Thanksgiving so let’s take a look at a busy week in the NFL.

What I Saw

The first Thanksgiving game saw the Chicago Bears take on a struggling Detroit Lions team who were down to their third starting quarterback, but after a successful first defensive drive – David Blough completed a deep pass to Kenny Galloday for a seventy-five yard touchdown and for most of the game the Lions were able stay ahead or level with he Bears but ultimately the Lions couldn’t hold on and the Bears won 24-20. Things are still not great for the Bears but this was a decent performance whilst the Lions have lost a fifth straight as things are just not working, and not getting pressure on Mitch Trubisky was enough for him to have a three hundred yards passing day, a rare thing for the Bears this year.

Next up the Buffalo Bills rolled into Dallas and ground out a win against the Cowboys to take themselves to 9-3, which gives them a two-game lead against any other second placed team in the AFC. The Bills took the chance to demonstrate the tough defence and steady progress of their second-year quarterback Josh Allen on the national stage. The Cowboys meanwhile continue to confound, and whilst this is not the first time there has been talk about Jason Garrett losing his job it definitely feels like the problems with the Cowboys have become too much for Jerry Jones.

The final Thanksgiving game was a strange contest that saw the New Orleans Saints out-gained by the Atlanta Falcons but ran out winners thanks to some steady kicking and the Falcons three turnovers. The Falcons mini-recovery was not sustainable whilst the Saints are still looking very competitive in what is a loaded NFC. The fact that the Saints managed to get to 10-2 without Drew Brees for five games is a demonstration of how good their coaching staff is and should not be forgotten amongst the other outstanding performances this season.

The first Sunday game I’m going to write about was a match-up of another pair of outstanding 2019 teams as the San Francisco 49ers traveled right across the country and played an early game against the Baltimore Ravens. The 49ers defence were helped by the rain and managed to contain the Ravens all game but lost to a last second Justiun Tucker forty-nine yard field goal from one of the best kickers to play the game. It’s almost unfair for a team who has one of the most explosive offences in the league to have such a good kicker, but the 49ers looked to be every bit as good in this game and I think people would be very happy to see this match-up again in a Super Bowl.

The other Sunday game I watched was the Cincinnati Bengals proving me wrong on Sunday and comfortably beating the New York Jets. The Bengals defence seems to have come on in the last few weeks whilst the injuries have caught up with the Jets who struggled to move the ball all game whilst the Bengals got lots of pressure and Carlos Dunlap racked up three sacks. On offence, Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns to break the franchise record for passing touchdowns on his return to the starting line-up and looked solid in distributing the ball getting help from some impressive catches. I’m really pleased for the Bengals as no one wants to be another team to go winless and what I liked was the talk about not being satisfied but trying to build good habits and momentum for next season. We shall have to see. As for the Jets, they really struggled and I’m really not sure what they will do in the off-season given the disappointment this season has been given the investment over the summer.

The final game of the week was a great contest between the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks where the Seahawks were able to withstand a late game comeback from the Vikings a finish the game 37-30 winners. There will be a lot of talk about Kirk Cousins’ 0-8 Monday night record and I certainly had more faith in Russell Wilson but the injury to Dalvin Cook and a couple of drops by the normally reliable Stefon Diggs didn’t help Cousins. Given the quality of the Vikings’ defence you would expect to score thirty points and win a game but they were competitive and I would imagine they feel like they could still win against any team going forward. The Vikings fell a game behind the Green Bay Packers at the top of the NFC North, but with three divisional games their fate is very much in their own hands. As for the Seahawks, they have the same number of wins as the 49ers in the NFC West and are looking to kick on into the playoffs and see just how far they can get.

What I Heard

There has been plenty of talk about the Cowboys as there always is, but Jason Garrett is not the only coach to be under scrutiny. The LA Chargers found another way to lose a close game, this time not ensuring their opponents had to return a kick off and eat up clock so there was just time for the Denver Broncos to try a deep pass that drew a pass interference penalty and Brandon McManus to hit a fifty-three yard field goal in the thin Denver air to clinch the game.

There had already been speculation around Ron Rivera given the Panthers current losing streak so when the Panthers lost to Washington this Sunday, new owner David Tepper decided he wanted to get an early start on finding a successor and fired Rivera on Tuesday. The two time NFL Coach of the Year who took the Panthers to a Super Bowl stated his desire to get straight back into coaching today and it would not surprise me at all to see him in charge of a different team next season.

What I Think

I have gone through multiple games this week and still the headlines come. The New England Patriots are having problems in the passing game and weren’t helped by an illness running through the team that saw them take two planes to Houston, but segregating the ill players didn’t help them stay in the game against the Texans. I don’t know if the problems the Patriots have are solvable, but I don’t think anyone doubts that if there is a solution, the combination of the coaches and Brady will find it. However, with the Ravens marching on and the Chiefs looking like they are coming into form at the right time it could be a new team representing the AFC after a hat-trick of appearances from the Patriots.

There looks to several strong teams at the top of both conferences and if everyone can stay healthy in the last month we could have an exceptionally good series of playoff games. I don’t want to wish away the season, and there’s plenty of interesting match-ups to come but it does feel like we have a bumper crop of teams with realistic shots at playoff success.

What I Know

There are only four games left and whilst many teams are gearing up for a playoff run, there are also a lot of teams who will be looking at players at the bottom of the roster as they try to evaluate who they think will be the cornerstone of turning things round next season. It seems crazy to be thinking about that already, but this is the reality of the NFL.

What I Hope

I really do hope that the teams at the top of the divisions stay healthy so the outcomes are determined on the field and not in the training room.

2019 Week Thirteen Picks

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I am running out of chances to overhaul 3D in the picks competition and Dan in the trivia, and whilst I’m trying to stay true to my processes, I am feeling the pressure as I am competitive and I’d rather not be last in both competitions on my website, but here goes nothing.

‘In 2002 The Texans became only the 2nd expansion team to win its inaugural game. Against whom?

The only clue I will give is to do with matching time zones but I know that won’t help them at all’

I think Dan’s Dad underestimates my US geography, which is not entirely unfair but I have two hunches for teams this could be. The obvious choice is an AFC team and in particular from their division, which to my mind points to the Tennessee Titans who I believe are in the same time zone whilst both the Colts and Jags are in the Eastern time zone. However, I think I know how NFL schedulers work and I’m pretty sure this is right, although Texas is a big state, I’m going to say the Texans kicked off their existence against their in-state Dallas Cowboys. Fingers and toes very much crossed I haven’t out thought myself.

‘Right, it’s process of elimination time! So Houston’s division is made up of them, the titans, the Jags and the Colts, and I’d say there’s most chance that it’s one of those teams who they beat. Of those three, Tennessee is the only one in the same time zone as Houston, so I’ll go with the Titans this week (although it’s entirely possible that he could make the answer Indianapolis so that it ties into next weeks question…!!)’

Jets @ Bengals (+3.5)

I would just like to urgh, as the Bengals are going back to Andy Dalton as Zac Taylor tries to avoid going winless, whilst the New York Jets come to Cincinnati on a three-game winning streak. This may be an extra half point to the Bengals compared to the consensus number I’m seeing, but the Jets have scored thirty-four points for three games in a row (something of a statistical anomaly) whilst the Bengals have a high of twenty-three all season and so even with the return of Dalton I can’t pick them. Prove me wrong Bengals – please!

Gee’s Pick:        Jets
Dan’s Pick:        Jets

Browns @ Steelers (+1.5)

The Cleveland Browns proved me very wrong last week, and rank better by DVOA as well as finding their way on offence and so I should likely pick them, but I find it hard to believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to lose twice to the Browns this season in what is likely to be a fervent home atmosphere and I believe Mike Tomlin is the better coach so getting points for home team is something I’m not going to pass up.

Gee’s Pick:        Steelers
Dan’s Pick:        Browns

Packers @ Giants (+6.5)

Any team can have a bad game, but it is unusual to see Aaron Rodgers so subdued so the Green Bay Packers will be looking to get back on track after their bad loss to the 49ers last week. The New York Giants are without a win since week four and could be the perfect team for the Packers to bounce back against. This could be a trap but I’m going to back the Packers to get back to winning ways.

Gee’s Pick:        Packers
Dan’s Pick:        Packers

Titans @ Colts (-2.5)

This is a cracking divisional game that sees two teams ranked twelfth and thirteenth in DVOA go against each other, but the Indianapolis Colts are starting to show the strain whilst the Tennessee Titans have won four out of their last five having moved to start Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. I think that the Titans are probably the better team right now and so whilst the Colts only need to win by a field goal to cover, I’m going to grab the Titans.

Gee’s Pick:        Titans
Dan’s Pick:        Colts

Eagles @ Dolphins (+9.5)

The Philadelphia Eagles are really struggling on offence right now, and there are even whisperings around how good Carson Wentz actually is. This is just the kind of game they need to get back to winning ways and thanks to the Cowboys loss on Thanksgiving can get back a share of the NFC East lead. The Miami Dolphins have regressed after winning two games in a row in weeks nine and ten, but I’m willing to have belief in them being competitive for one more week in this kind of game unless they bite me again.

Gee’s Pick:        Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:        Dolphins

Buccaneers @ Jaguars (-1.5)

What do I do with this game? The Jacksonville Jaguars have not got much of a bump from the return of Nick Foles and look a team in need of a new direction, but the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been the model of inconsistency thanks to Jameis Winston’s ability to make fabulous plays and then promptly give the ball away. I’m going to make a points based play in this one as I’m seeing a consensus of the Jaguars getting two and half point so if I’m getting them for the Buccaneers then that’s where I’m going but I have no confidence at all in this one.

Gee’s Pick:        Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:        Jaguars

Washington @ Panthers (-9.5)

Washington won their second game of the season last week, which is more a testament to the way the Lions are playing at the moment, but this week they travel to face a Carolina Panthers team desperate for a win. After a strong 4-2 start the Panthers have fallen to 5-6 and whilst I can see them getting back to winning ways in this one, this line feels too big for me except I just don’t trust Washington at all. Looking back at Washington’s record they have lost most of their games by ten or more I’m going to grab what is apparently a half point advantage to the consensus but I don’t feel great about it.

Gee’s Pick:        Panthers
Dan’s Pick:        Washington

49ers @ Ravens (-4.5)

This looks to be game of the week to me, and I was slightly surprised to see this line given how well both teams are playing. I can absolutely understand the Baltimore Ravens being favourites but I have been really impressed by the San Francisco 49ers’ defence and having got caught out underestimating the 49ers once I am reluctant to do it again. I can see that the Raven winning big is possible, but this screams tight game to me so I’m going to grab the points and hope that one of my favourite teams in the league right now doesn’t make me look foolish.

Gee’s Pick:        49ers
Dan’s Pick:        Ravens

Rams @ Cardinals (+3.5)

This is an interesting line to me as the LA Rams are really struggling whilst the Arizona Cardinals have been much more competitive than many expected with Kliff Kingsbury adjusting to the league and demonstrating that the combination of his offence and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray have a future in this league. I could be wrong about this, but I like the Cardinals chances and with an extra half point to the consensus line I will take the home team getting points.

Gee’s Pick:        Cardinals
Dan’s Pick:        Rams

Chargers @ Broncos (+2.5)

This game looks to pit two bad divisional rivals against each other and so I don’t have a particularly strong lean either way. I think the Chargers are the better team and DVOA agrees, but only by 4.7% so this feels like a big swing towards the Chargers. That said, this line is a full point lower than the consensus I am seeing so I will lay the points and hope.

Gee’s Pick:        Chargers
Dan’s Pick:        Broncos

Raiders @ Chiefs (-9.5)

If I’ve made several picks based on numbers in the last couple of games, this one I am playing a hunch. This is a huge divisional game with the Oakland Raiders being one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs for the lead of the AFC South. The Chiefs have been struggling for balance on offence a little and their defence is not good against the run. The Raiders have been competitive for a lot of the season and although they lost big in week two against the Chiefs, I don’t like this line so I’m ignoring the extra half point I’m losing to the consensus and taking the Raiders to keep this within ten.

Gee’s Pick:        Raiders
Dan’s Pick:        Raiders

Patriots @ Texans (+3.5)

This is another interesting game with the Houston Texans hosting the win ugly New England Patriots. The Patriots’ offence may only rank tenth by DVOA, but that’s still better than a lot of people might think given the coverage and their defence is outstanding. This is enough points to make me consider the Texans, in fact it’s half a point more than the three I’m seeing the Texans get in certain places but I have been bitten too many times going against the Patriots who have only failed to cover this number of points once so far this season against the now terrifying Ravens.

Gee’s Pick:        Patriots
Dan’s Pick:        Patriots

Vikings @ Seahawks (-2.5)

The final game of the week is a great looking NFC matchup that sees the Minnesota Vikings take on the Seattle Seahawks. The Vikings are coming off the bye to find themselves level with the Packers, but they face a tough task in beating the Seahawks who haven’t lost since week seven. This is another matchup of teams ranked next to each other by DVOA and should prove a great contest but with apologies to 3D I think I give a slight edge to the Seahawks (despite them being the eight ranked team vs the seventh ranked Vikings) thanks to just how good Russell Wilson is. I have no problem with Mike Zimmer proving me wrong, but I’m going with my gut and a crucial half point line difference.

Gee’s Pick:        Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:        Seahawks

 

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.

Competition Thursday: Thanksgiving 2019

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So Dan’s Dad extended his lead at the top of the picks competition last week as we edge closer to a second consecutive season  win for him unless Dan or I get on a hot-streak.

I would just like to say that I am thankful for all the help and engagement of both 3D and Dan over the years as well as to any of you for reading this, whether you are a long time reader or only recently discovered our little corner of NFL fandom. Anyway, on to the picks as there are games a coming.

Dan’s Dad: Week 12:   8-6 Overall:   97-79
Dan: Week 12:   5-9 Overall:   94-82
Gee: Week 12:   7-7 Overall:   90-86

Bears @ Lions (+2.5)

The 5-6 Chicago Bears have won two out of their last four games but Mitch Trubisky has been wildly inconsistent and frequently plain bad in his third year and so I’m really not sure how the Bears will fare in this trip to play in the Detroit Super Bowl, the Lions’ annual Thanksgiving game. The Lions have the excuse of their franchise quarterback being out with fractures in his back, but they have been underwhelming for much of the season even before having to start Jeff Driskell and now it seems they are down to their third string quarterback as Driskell has surfaced on the injury report with a hamstring injury. I don’t’ exactly feel great about it, but that’s enough for me to reluctantly to give the edge to a team that actually ranks worse by DVOA. Yeah, avoid picking this game if you don’t have to.

Gee’s Pick:      Bears
Dan’s Pick:     Bears

Bills @ Cowboys (-6.5)

There is a big difference between these two teams in terms of DVOA, but the Bills have won two more games and whilst their offence is not setting the world alight, their defence is top ten by DVOA and they have clear found a knack for winning. I’m not sure they will definitely win this game, but I feel like this line is too high, partially because of how popular the Cowboys are and so I’m going to take the Bills to keep this game within a touchdown. It is hard to have too much faith in the Cowboys given their up and down season and I don’t trust their coaching staff, but I am looking forward to seeing the Bills and how they fare on the big stage.

Gee’s Pick:      Bills
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Saints @ Falcons (+6.5)

Will the real Falcons please stand up? There was a mini recovery after the bye week for the Atlanta Falcons but that didn’t last into last week’s loss against the Buccaneers. However, the New Orleans Saints will be very motivated to get revenge after their surprise loss to the Falcons in week ten. This line make me nervous as I like the Saints to win as they are a much better team and will definitely be motivate, but divisional games are funny and I’m sure the Falcons are going to put forward their best effort. However, having just lost to the Bucs by thirteen points I can’t quite bring myself to back the Falcons in this one and I just hope I don’t’ regret that.

Gee’s Pick:      Saints
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Week 9 Trivia

Well, the only thing that I needed in Week 12 with The Vikings on a bye, was to see the Packers come a cropper against the 49ers and as an early Christmas present it happened leaving The Vikes and the Cheeseheads tied on 8 a piece making for a very interesting final 5 weeks in the regular season and with them facing of in Minneapolis in Wk 16 divisional honours may revolve about that game..

I got to thinking though about what drives fans to pick a particular team. In the US a local preference will dictate many choices, it could be the colours or, radical I know, you may just like the style of play. But with the growth of the game in the UK I wondered if it may be the result of where people have holidayed. That may explain the Miami factor but looking at the crowds at the International series I think all 32 franchises, and more, are represented so I’m at a loss as to why backwater towns get a following.

I do remember visiting Chicago with Dan 11 years ago and took in a high scoring game at Soldier Field. The stadium and the experience generally was amazing but after the game we retreated to a sports bar in our hotel near Grant Park. Remember that only a quarter of Americans possess a passport those we met in that bar were amazed that two Brits were taking on an NFL road trip. I don’t think they realised how big the game was getting over here, let alone that it would be knocking on the door of its own franchise inside 10 – 15 years. Therein lies another question, If (when) there was a UK franchise would all the brits forsake their current teams in favour of the new kid on the block. Somehow I think not.

In trivia for week 12 I asked………   

In the 1996 season, quarterback Brett Favre set an NFC record when he threw 39 touchdown passes in regular season play. Who was the previous record holder?

There are a number of great names it could have been and Dan Marino would have been as good as any, but remember I am a devious so and so and the answer was Brett Favre the previous year and such was his strength in a very competitive position.

So sadly no points this week leaving us on Gee 11 v Dan 14.

Right this week we roll into Houston and the problem is this:

In 2002 The Texans became only the 2nd expansion team to win its inaugural game. Against whom?

The only clue I will give is to do with matching time zones but I know that wont help them at all

See you next time.

Thanksgiving Prep

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With the three Thanksgiving games coming up tomorrow there is a feast of prime-time football for everyone to enjoy so let’s take a look at the run up to week thirteen as we near the final quarter of the season.

What I Saw

On Thursday night we saw a close divisional game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans where the Texans were able to eek out a win. This was not a spectacular game but a tough tense one where the Texans were able to bounce back from their heavy defeat against the Ravens the week before by stepping up their defensive performance and making enough plays on offence with receivers Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins working well as a tandem. The Texans do look a different team when they have both of these receivers fit, but the Colts were as competitive as they have been all season, getting more out of their offence than I feared because of their injuries, but in the end a couple of drops by TY Hilton cost them the game. This was Hilton’s first game back after several weeks out with a calf injury, but he wasn’t using that as an excuse and the backups to Marlon Mack (out with a broken hand) ran the ball well enough but the Colts fell short in the end. Still, the Colts are not out of the race for the AFC South but with the Titans catching them up with another win this week the race for this division could get very interesting. I’m not sold on the Texans being the ultimate winners even if they have a game lead for now.

On Sunday the Cincinnati Bengals welcomed their local rivals, and even led the game for a while but in the end fell to the all too familiar loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a close 10-16 game. The Steelers didn’t look that great doing it as whilst their defence played well, holding the Bengals offence to multiple three and out drives as Ryan Finley never looked comfortable, it took a change in quarterback to spark enough offence for the Steelers to win but more about that in a moment. For the Bengals, Tyler Boyd made some great catches and Joe Mixon showed flashes in the run game but they couldn’t move the ball consistently. The Bengals defence has looked stouter over the last couple of weeks but that doesn’t really matter if you regularly can’t even get to twenty points and the Bengals have barely managed that this season. The desperation for a win is clearly growing as the Bengals are going back to Andy Dalton this week, and with a game against the Dolphins, two against the Browns, and the Jets visiting this weekend they will be hoping to break their duck somewhere. As for the Steelers, they are comfortable in this kind of defensive game as they are not prone to the long touchdown concession the Bengals are, and when Mason Rudolph was struggling Mike Tomlin made the switch to Devlin Hodges in game who promptly threw for the seventy-nine yard touchdown play that did enough for the Steelers to maintain a push for a wildcard spot. They probably need to win three or four games and have results go their way to be in with a shot but they are at least still alive in the chase.

I was planning to watch the Patriots take on the Cowboys, but given the weather in New England I made the switch to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to face the Tennessee Titan’s and it was a curious watch. It was nip and tuck until the third quarter with both teams moving the ball but struggling to maintain drives yet the four point deficit at half time was the closest the Jaguars would get after the Titans opening touchdown. A twenty-eight-point explosion in the third quarter sealed the game for the Titans with Derrick Henry breaking out for the type of monster game that he has proved multiple times he is capable of but we don’t always see. Henry finished the game with one hundred and fifty nine yards, with a seventy-four yard long touchdown run very much being the highlight. The Titans have now won four of their last five games since switching to Ryan Tannehill as the starting quarterback and you begin to wonder where they might be if they had made the switch earlier. It is strange to think that the Jaguars were in the AFC championship game two seasons ago and have a Super Bowl winning quarterback but don’t look great, and you begin to wonder what changes await in the off-season for a coaching staff and front-office who have never been able to repeat their first year of success.

The final game I watched this was the incredible looking matchup of the Green Bay Packers visiting the San Francisco 49ers that turned into a romp for the 49ers. I was worried about the extra half point in the picks competition because of how good Aaron Rodgers is, which turns out to have been no problem at all for the 49ers. Their defence smothered the Packers, holding them to under two hundred yards total offence and Rodgers could only throw for one hundred and eighteen yards. He didn’t throw any interceptions, but fumbled the ball away whilst being sacked and couldn’t get comfortable all game. The 49ers defence limited Rodgers ability to bide time in the pocket, which so few teams have managed to do but this enabled then to get five sacks and numerous hits whilst Fred Warner racked up eleven solo tackles at the heart of the defence. I don’t think the Packers are suddenly a bad team, but there appears to be a gap between the 49ers and the rest of the top teams in the NFC that does still include the Packers. What this game did do was increase my respect yet again for the 49ers defence, who are still second in the league by DVOA to the Patriots’ defence but whilst there is 6.6% between the 49ers and Patriots, there is 14.9% back to the third place Steelers. I knew the 49ers were playing well on this side of the ball, but seeing them play together is really impressive and I can’t wait to see them go against the Ravens next week.

What I Heard

The headlines from the weekend focussed a lot on the fall out of the ugly game between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys, where the weather hampered both teams but the Patriots adapted whilst the Cowboys did not and with Jerry Jones criticising Jason Garrett the speculation about his job security has started up again. There are plenty of valid criticisms of both Garrett’s game management and his game planning but after a number of years without change, the talent of the current Cowboy’s roster seems to giving a Jones a different impression of the job Garrett is doing. Everything with he Cowboys get over-covered, and this is hardly the first time that rumours have started but it is beginning to look like a change is finally coming for one of the longest tenured head coaches in the league.

The other thing that leaps to mind was Ross Tucker commenting on how quietly the Buffalo Bills have gone 8-3 this season. That said they do get a chance this Thanksgiving Thursday to put on a good showing for the nation as they take on the Dallas Cowboys and I’m definitely looking forward to the chance to watch them again.

What I Think

This week felt like an odd one, there were one or two results that I just didn’t see coming, several blow outs, a couple of weather affected games, but not a lot of games grabbed the attention with how one sided the match ups actually played out. I can’t wait to se the Raven take on the 49ers this and the Vikings take on the Seahawks this weekend. I don’t know how I feel about the Bengals’ game against the Jets yet.

What I Know

That this is one of the highlight weeks of the season, where I can get to see an extra two games in a wee and four without knowing the scores (the joys of catching up in the UK) and so I’m determined to sit back and enjoy the games as much as I can.

What I Hope

I hope that whether your watching round work, taking a day off, or are in the States and celebrating the day, that you have a good one!

2019 Week Twelve Picks

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I now only have six weeks to make up the deficit and get back into the race for the picks competition, but first there is the minor matter of the trivia competition where once again I am losing…

In the 1996 season, quarterback Brett Favre set an NFC record when he threw 39 touchdown passes in regular season play. Who was the previous record holder?

I love this question, but I don’t just know the answer. However, my informed guess is that this is going to be one of the great pre-Farve passers, but it has to be from a relatively recent season as if you go back to say the seventies the game was just different and the ball simply wasn’t thrown that much. Under these parameters, you might be tempted by either Steve Young or Joe Montana in the eighties, but I am going to plump for the hall of famer who never won the Super Bowl, or even got back there after his second season and so my informed guess would be Dan Marino – possibly in that 1984 season.

‘Tough one this week and it’s going to need some figuring out. I know the record has been broken since then as I believe Mahomes got about 50-odd last year. If Favre broke the record in the 1996 season it’ll have been someone who played before then, so you’ve got people like Dan Marino, Joe Montana, John Elway… I’ll go with Marino this week. If in doubt, stick with the Dolphins! (Make a note of that mantra, kids!)’

Buccaneers @ Falcons (-4.5)

This is a tricky game to pick as the Atlanta Falcons are on a two game win streak since their bye and look a team transformed, but whilst I expect them to win you just never know what you are going to get out of Jameis Winston. There is also the argument that divisional games are funny and this line is a point larger than I’m seeing as the consensus, which all point to me grabbing the points but I have been burnt several times by the Bucs and so I’m not leaning the other way this week.

Gee’s Pick:        Falcons
Dan’s Pick:        Falcons

Broncos @ Bills (-4.5)

The Denver Broncos took a big lead against the Vikings last week and beat the Cleveland Browns in week nine, but they are 3-7 for a reason and rank eighteenth overall by DVOA with only their defence being in the top ten. The reason this game is awkward to pick is that the Buffalo Bills may have the inverse 7-3 record but they actually rank twenty-fifth by DVOA and so whilst I think the Bills will win at home – this feels like a lot of points. However, that was what I said last week before the Bills convincingly beat the Dolphins. Having been proved wrong last week and not trusting the Broncos offence I’m going to take the Bills, but I am not convinced.

Gee’s Pick:        Bills
Dan’s Pick:        Bills

Giants @ Bears (-6.5)

The Chicago Bears are struggling on offence and all the talk at the moment is surrounding the problems that Mitchell Trubisky is having trying to run the offence in his third season. A game where they welcome the lowly New York Giants might be just the tonic they need, and whilst winning the game by a clear touchdown seems like a big ask, in three of their four wins the Bears have done just that whilst the Giants have only managed to win or be within seven four times this season. What does this mean? I don’t know and I am not sure that I actually want to do this, but I am going to grab the points.

Gee’s Pick:        Giants
Dan’s Pick:        Giants

Steelers @ Bengals (+6.5)

The Cincinatti Bengals’ defence looked better last week, and the focus on running the ball now they are starting rookie quarterback Ryan Finley has increased the running production but this hasn’t got the Bengals a win. This week the Bengals will host a rested but possibly distracted Pittsburgh Steelers team who will be minus their starting centre after last week’s fight with the Browns. I think this will likely be a low scoring affair and for that reason only I’m going to grab the points.

Gee’s Pick:        Bengals
Dan’s Pick:        Steelers

Dolphins @ Browns (-10.5)

The Miami Dolphins had been competitive for a number of weeks, but got beat badly last week. However, traveling to face the ill-disciplined Browns who will be missing Myles Garrett and so minus their best defensive player, I fancy the Dolphins to keep this game within eleven.

Gee’s Pick:        Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:        Dolphins

Lions @ Washington (+3.5)

The Detriot Lions might be playing with a backup quarterback and have only won two more games than Washingon, but I think there is a big difference between the teams and DVOA agrees so for me there’s only one way to go.

Gee’s Pick:        Lions
Dan’s Pick:        Lions

Raiders @ Jets (+2.5)

The New York Jets may have beaten Washington even more convincingly last week than they beat the Gaints in week ten, but that doesn’t mean they have magically turned things around. This week they face a team in the playoff hunt, who may have played a surprisingly tight game against the Bengals, but the Raiders won three games straight at home and I fancy them to win by at least a field goal in this one.

Gee’s Pick:        Raiders
Dan’s Pick:        Raiders

Panthers @ Saints (-9.5)

The Carolina Panthers have only gone 1-4 since their bye and got beaten heavily by a rejuvenated Falcons team last week. It seems that Kyle Allen has struggled more since his opening four game win streak and this week they travel to New Orleans Saints team who made their own statement last week to get back to winning ways. This may be a divisional game, but I expect the Saints to win and with the 35.8% between these teams by DVOA a big win does not seem unlikely. Part of me wants to err on the side of caution but I need to pick some points up somewhere and so I’m going to back the Saints – very nervously…

Gee’s Pick:        Saints
Dan’s Pick:        Saints

Seahawks @ Eagles (-1.5)

The Philadelphia Eagles are really struggling, if not already out of the playoff hunt and so can ill afford to lose again. However, the Seattle Seahawks have if anything been better on the road this season and I fancy them to win this game given how well they are playing.

Gee’s Pick:        Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:        Seahawks

Jaguars @ Titans (-3.5)

This is an intriguing matchup for me as the Tennessee Titans have gone on a run since moving Ryan Tannehill into the starting lineup and he has won three out of  this four games he started. The Titans could still drag themselves into the division race but that will likely involve winning all four of their division games left. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars need to find out what the difference between quarterbaks Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew really is. The Jaguars have won and lost in pairs this season, but such patterns are curious anomalies rather than something you can actually account for. If it feels like I am stalling, it is because I am, there is not much between these two teams in DVOA and that extra half point makes me hesitate but I have more faith in what the Titans are doing right now so I am going to reluctantly back the Titans.

Gee’s Pick:        Titans
Dan’s Pick:        Jaguars

Cowboys @ Patriots (-6.5)

This is a trap game. The New England Patriots have been surviving their problems on offence thanks to stellar defensive play and opportunistic special teams and with Tom Brady surfacing with a elbow injury and this number of points I am tempted to pick against them. The problem with that is the Cowboys’ inconsistency and the pick relying on Jason Garrett to be competitive with Bill Belichick. Still, I said I needed big swings to get back into contention and with Brady already struggling before surfacing on the injury report lets see if the Cowboys can put a performance together and keep it within seven.

Gee’s Pick:        Cowboys
Dan’s Pick:        Patriots

Packers @ 49ers (-3.5)

This is one of the matchups of the week as the Green Bay Packers take their 8-2 record on the road to face the San Francisco 49ers. The problem for the Packers could be that whilst their defence has been better, their rush defence is only ranked twenty-eight in the league and going against the 49ers running game they could really struggle. The 49ers have only lost one game, and have established themselves as one of the teams to beat, but when you have Aaron Rodgers and a competent defence you always have a chance and so I’m gong to grab the points.

Gee’s Pick:        Packers
Dan’s Pick:        Packers

Ravens @ Rams (+3.5)

The LA Rams really need this win, but I think they are in trouble on offence and so despite them having a top ten defence, they have been grinding out wins here and there. The Baltimore Ravens have me totally convinced now their defence is playing better and complementing their fearsome offence. This is a pretty big line to be giving up to last season’s NFC Super Bowl team, but I think the Ravens keep rolling in this one.

Gee’s Pick:        Ravens
Dan’s Pick:        Ravens

 

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.

Competition Thursday: 2019 Week Twelve

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Here are our pick results for week eleven as we start week twelve whether I am ready or not.

Dan: Week 11:   9-5 Overall:   89-73
Dan’s Dad: Week 11:   8-6 Overall:   89-73
Gee: Week 11:   9-5 Overall:   83-79

Colts @ Texans (-3.5)

I’m looking forward to this game, but I am really not sure where to go as whilst both teams have their injury problems, they kind of cancel each other out as the Texans secondary is as injured as the Colts’ offensive skills positions. That might account for the extra half point between these two 6-4 teams who are playing a huge divisional game tonight. In the end, I am going to plump for the always over simplistic better quarterback who has more of his own players available to grab the edge, and whilst that extra half point is going to worry me until the game is over – that’s what I shall have to live with.

Gee’s Pick:      Texans
Dan’s Pick:      Texans

Week 12 Trivia

‘Week 11 was an odd week in many ways with some large spreads making the Picks side tricky. That said we saw Gee return to the scoring we have become used to (9); Dan also reaching (9) to level up at the top after I returned a (8). So, with six weeks to go and six points covering top to bottom, no chickens are yet being counted and the colours of the TWF logo remains in the balance.

The Bengals were 2nd best again but can take some heart in the Raiders failing to cover the spread. The Bills at the Dolphins is a game that Dan and I was a few years back but this year the Bills were too strong and more than covered the spread. The Vikes hosted the Broncos, another game I saw years back, the Randy Moss Lateral game, and I think Dan and I could both see the Vikings win but not by enough for the spread and that in fact is exactly what happened.

Standings wise I think we have known for a while that the Bengals and Dolphins ships have sailed but the NFC North looks like another two horse race with the Packers and Vikes tied on eight wins but with Minnesota on a bye week I have to look to the 49ers beating the packers in Sundays late game. Looking ahead though I think the three weeks of the regular season will be pivotal.

OK – the Trivia bit for week 11 asked:

What highly touted player his entire 9 year career with the Detroit Lions after he was selected with the 2nd overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft?

Well both Dan and Gee knew that this was Calvin Johnson so 2 points each leaves Gee on 11 but Dan’s theme bonus last week edges it for him at 14. Oddly I had considered offering an extra point for Johnsons nickname. Dan included that it was ‘Megatron’ but I hadn’t asked it so there you go.

Here’s one for Week 12 then as our road-trip pulls into Green Bay. Not sure how this will go but I want to know:

In the 1996 season, quarterback Brett Favre set an NFC record when he threw 39 touchdown passes in regular season play. Who was the previous record holder?

There are some great names to play for – who gets your vote?

Bye week for now’

TWF Midweek Post: On the Road Edition

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So this is a bit of an improvised post as I’m on the road for work, in a hotel but still working so I’m going to try a quick sprint through the usual format from week eleven.

What I Saw

The week started with the Cleveland Browns hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning the game and still managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Browns won the game convincingly thanks to the four interceptions Mason Rudolph threw, but on the last play of the game a tussle between players escalated when Myles Garrett not only pulled off Rudolph’s helmet, but used it as a weapon and although he hit Rudolph in the head with it – he got lucky in that Rudolph was not seriously hurt. However, Garrett has been suspended for the season, which is totally understandable, and as the best player on the Browns’ defence this could snuff out what small chances they had of making the playoffs

On Sunday we got to see the Cincinnati Bengals travel to the Oakland Raiders and make the game competitive. I said I wouldn’t back the Bengals to keep a game within ten until I saw it, and on Sunday we saw it thanks to a tougher defensive performance. I don’t know if it can be the start of something, but it was nice to watch a game and not know the result in the fourth quarter. As for the Raiders, well they continue to impress and maintain their place in the chasing pack for the playoff. They may not actually make the post-season but they look like they are heading in the right direction with two more wins than they managed in all of last season.

The final game I saw was the final international game of the season when the LA Chargers hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in Mexico City’s Azteca stadium. Obviously it’s a step in the right direction with the game actually getting played this year, although the turf still looked like it was cutting up a little, but it was quite the spectacle in an impressive stadium. However, it was a curious game on the field as the Chiefs never quite took off on offensive and continued to struggle to stop the run, but they were able to generate enough turnovers, including four interceptions of Philip Rivers to overcome being out-gained by over one hundred and twenty yards and win 24-17. It feels like if the Chiefs do make the playoffs, no one will want to face them whilst for the Chargers, the injuries have combined with Philip Rivers suddenly struggling to hold everything together to sink the season. I’m not saying that Rivers is done or that he won’t play well next week, but if feels like his chance of making a Super Bowl is slipping away.

What I Heard

The big stories have been the brawl at the end of the Thursday night game, with no one questioning Garrett’s suspension or the two Steeler linemen who retaliated for the attack on their quarterback.

Next we had the curious situation with the Colin Kaepernick workout, which was unusual because the league announced it, seemingly out of nowhere and giving him a couple of hours to agree or not. Additionally in the strange column was holding it on a Saturday when most big decision makers wouldn’t attend as they would be preparing for Sunday, as opposed to Tuesday – the tradition day for teams to work out potential new signings. The situation continues to get muddled as Kaepernick then refused to sign an NFL waiver that I’ve heard would have prevented him from future legal action as well as any injury responsibility. Kaepernick’s change of plan was to stage his own workout in front of a handful of NFL people and his own camera crew (who the league also would allow to film/publish) – and whist I think I can understand some or most of this, I get the feeling we won’t be seeing him in the league any time soon, if at all. He stuck to his principles but you can already see how some will spin this as being unwilling to put the team ahead of the individual.

Finally, in a rare side step into college football for TWF, the big news for those in the middle of the 2019 NFL Tankapalooza – was that Tua Tagovailoa dislocated his hip this weekend, throwing again into the question of losing games for draft picks. For me the real shame is that Tua did this in college whilst not getting paid a cent, and I hope that he can get healthy again and play up to his potential whoever it may be for.

What I Think

I think that this season is continuing the transition from the quarterback stars we are so familiar with to the new generation. You can’t see Eli Manning holding on for much longer longer if we ever see him again, for the first time Philip Rivers is struggling to keep his team competitive, and even Tom Brady is looking mortal. Meanwhile, after Patrick Mahomes announced himself last season, it is Lamar Jackson’s turn for a tilt at MVP, whilst Deshaun Watson continues to impress with the Texans. This makes the struggles of Mitch Trubisky even tougher for fans of the Bears to watch knowing that their franchise was tricked into trading up to take him when they could have stayed put and picked Watson or Mahomes.

What I Know

That I seem to be talking an awful lot about quarterbacks this season and I’m beginning to worry about myself.

What I Hope

I would hope that next week I could get back to something like a normal week, but of course it’s Thanksgiving, so I hope we get three good games to watch!

2019 Week Eleven Picks

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Time to find out if I can get back into the picks competition, but let’s start with the trivia competition where Dan also has a strong lead.

‘What highly touted player spent his entire 9 year career with the Detroit Lions after he was selected as the 2nd overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft?’

So having failed miserably to spot the theme, there’s just this week’s question to deal with and I’m very happy with this one as I am sure the answer is Calvin Johnson.

‘Ok, I know this one, but I think Gee will too so I’m not sure it’ll have much impact on the lead unfortunately. Retiring after 9 years would have meant him retiring in 2016 and I remember discussing on the pod how it seemed too early for this guy to retire – the answer is Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson.’

Falcons @ Panthers (-5.5)

The Atlanta Falcons looked like a different team coming off a bye, beating the Saints convincing, but the question is whether this turnaround is sustainable and not just a divisional blip. The Falcons are playing the Carolina Panthers who lost to the Packers last week and whilst I’m not sure the Falcons can manage a repeat win, this is too many points for me to lay on the Panthers.

Gee’s Pick:        Falcons
Dan’s Pick:        Falcons

Bills @ Dolphins (+5.5)

The Buffalo Bills are a confounding team as they are the twenty-fourth ranked team by overall DVOA and yet they currently are in a wildcard spot. They travel to face the now two win Miami Dolphins and whilst I can see the Bills winning, this is once again too many points for me to lay.

Gee’s Pick:        Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:        Dolphins

Cowboys @ Lions (+4.5)

I was totally caught out last week as the Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford could not play as he has a fracture of his transverse processes in his back. A fracture of the back always sounds scary, but these will be playing in a few weeks, but not right now. The Dallas Cowboys are not a team I like to predict as they often seem to be less than the sum of their parts this season, but facing a backup quarterback I like them in this one where I have seen the line as high a +7 for the Lions.

Gee’s Pick:        Cowboys
Dan’s Pick:        Cowboys

Broncos @ Vikings (-10.5)

I hate this line as the Denver Broncos have been really unreliable, and whilst rested and coming of a win in week nine you really can’t trust them. However, whilst I expect the Minnesota Vikings to win, I’m not sure I trust them to cover this line given that they have not exactly been consistent performers either. In the end. I’m going to grab the points in this one as the Broncos defence has got itself back into the top ten by DVOA and the Vikings will be missing Adam Thielen as he tries to get his hamstring healthy.

Gee’s Pick:        Broncos
Dan’s Pick:        Broncos

Jaguars @ Colts (-2.5)

This is a game that I would love to avoid as the Indianapolis Colts might be getting Jaoby Brissett back, but have injuries at receiver whilst the Jacksonville Jaguars look to be starting Nick Foles after he recovered from his broken collar bone. There are so many variables, no real help from the number, and there is only 0.9% between them in overall DVOA so I feel like I need to get hold of a picking pin. The nearest I can get is that the Colts only need to win by a field goal to cover and they are at home so that’s where I’m going but this game could go either way…

Gee’s Pick:        Colts
Dan’s Pick:        Jaguars

Saints @ Buccaneers (+5.5)

This divisional game is curious one as the New Orleans Saints will be looking to bounce back against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having lost to the Falcons last week, but the Bucs have been frequently competitive thanks to the peaks of Jameis Winston and a quality receiving group. However, the unpredictable thing here is what Saints team we are getting and how many turnovers is Winston going to be responsible for. I’m going to grab the home underdog and hope, but this could be a big mistake.

Gee’s Pick:        Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:        Saints

Jets @ Washington (-1.5)

There is very little to rely on here as Washington have been bad all years, whilst the Jets got a second win last week as they announced that Adam Gase will be the coach next year. This being the New York Jets I don’t know if that is actually true, but given the absence of home advantage in Washington I am going to reluctantly pick the Jets.

Gee’s Pick:        Jets
Dan’s Pick:        Jets

Texans @ Ravens (-4.5)

This should be a cracking game that pits two of the more exciting quarterback against each other, The worry for the Houston Texans is having traded away Jadeveon Clowney in the off-season and lost JJ Watt for the season to injury their front seven is not looking nearly as strong and the Baltimore Ravens are just rolling at the moment. There was no let down for the Ravens against the Bengals last week and Lamar Jackson is playing like the MVP candidate he is. The Texans have had a bye week to prepare for Jackson, and given that Deshaun Watson is pretty good with his legs as well there can be informed internal discussions about stopping a running quarterback, but the Texans are too reliant on the spectacular on offence so I’m going to take the Ravens despite the points.

Gee’s Pick:        Ravens
Dan’s Pick:        Texans

Cardinals @ 49ers (-13.5)

I think this line is off. I do think that the San Francisco 49ers will get back to winning ways but on a short week having lost to the Seahawks on Monday I find it hard to see them beating the Arizona Cardinals by two clear touchdowns given how competitive the Cardinals have been.

Gee’s Pick:        Cardinals
Dan’s Pick:        Cardinals

Bengals @ Raiders (-10.5)

I want to pick the Cincinnati Bengals as this is a big line, but even if their offence does improve with Ryan Finley starting his second game at quarterback, I have no faith in a defence that just cut Preston Brown and has real problems at linebacker. I would love to be proven wrong, but I am not going to pick the Bengals until I see them keep it close.

Gee’s Pick:        Raiders
Dan’s Pick:        Raiders

Patriots @ Eagles (+3.5)

This line is horrible as the New England Patriots always respond after a loss and have had a bye to prepare for this trip to the Philadelphia Eagles, but there are problems with the Patriots offence this year as they can’t run the ball. The Eagles are still a top ten team by DVOA despite their injury problems, and I’m really tempted to grab the points at home but I’ve just been bitten too many times betting against the Patriots to do it this time.

Gee’s Pick:        Patriots
Dan’s Pick:        Patriots

Bears @ Rams (-6.5)

Both the Chicago Bears and the LA Rams are struggling on offence, although for different reasons yet both look to be slipping out of the playoffs this season. Given the problem with the Rams’ offensive line you can see Khalil Mack wrecking this game and the Rams have too many other injuries on offence for me to back them to win by a touchdown.

Gee’s Pick:        Bears
Dan’s Pick:        Rams

Chiefs @ Chargers (+3.5)

This Monday night marquee matchup is not quite what it looked like when drawn up as the LA Chargers have been hit by injuries and for first time Philip Rivers hasn’t been able to carry on regardless. This could be a spectacular game as the Kansas City Chiefs finally have all their big names on offence healthy, but the defence is just plain bad. The Chiefs can’t afford many more losses, yet alone a divisional one and so despite them losing to the Titans last week, I’m going to back them on the road against the Chargers.

Gee’s Pick:        Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:        Chiefs

 

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.