Tag:Giants
Posted on: October 21, 2010 8:35 am
 

Week 7 probabilities

One of the more intriguing matchups this weekend, and possibly the most puzzling prediction of the efficiency model all season, is the Patriots at Chargers. The Patriots come into Week 7 at 4-1, fresh off a dramatic win over the contending Ravens. The Chargers enter the weekend at 2-4, fresh off a loss to the rebuilding Rams. But somehow the model makes the Chargers heavy favorites over the Patriots  at 0.85 to 0.15.

In fact, the Chargers sit atop all other teams in the weekly rankings produced by the game probability model thanks to their passing efficiency on both sides of the ball. Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense are in a class by themselves, averaging 7.9 net yards per pass attempt. San Diego’s pass defense is also best in the league at 4.9 net yards per attempt. The Chargers’ running efficiencies on offense and defense are both better than average, as are their turnover rates.

So what is going on? How can a team that leads the league in efficiency (and in total yards) on both sides of the ball have only a 2-4 record to show for it? A big part of the answer is very clear: special-teams play. The Chargers have given up  three touchdowns on kicks and punts, and have had further difficulties on special teams.

But things still don’t add up, so let’s look at turnover differential. Although the Chargers are better than average in interception rate, they pass so often that they actually have a turnover differential of -3. This certainly isn’t good, but even combined with their special-teams failures, it still doesn’t fully explain four losses for such a statistically dominant team. Something else is going on.

I think a big part of the Chargers’ 2-4 record is bad luck. Statisticians might call it sample error or randomness, but whatever you call it, it’s not going well for San Diego. I’m not talking about leprechauns or superstitions or the random bouncing of footballs. (Although the Chargers have lost 9 of 11 fumbles, and the league-wide rate is about 50 percent. Fumble recovery is a notoriously random event in football — just look at the shape of the ball.)

Rather, I’m talking about a concept I call “bunching.”

Let’s say there are two baseball teams, completely equal in ability, playing one game at a neutral site. Each team performs perfectly equally, both hitting exactly nine singles over nine innings. But let’s say one team gets all its singles in one inning, and the other has its singles spread out one per inning. The first team might win, 7-0. It’s an extreme example, but it illustrates an overlooked point about many sports. Successful plays are not enough. Consecutive successes are required to win.

In football, two equal teams could each have 12 first downs in a game. One team could have three drives of four consecutive first downs, each leading to a touchdown, and the rest of its drives could be three-and-outs. The other team could have 12 drives consisting of one first down followed by a punt. Both teams could have equal yards, first downs and efficiency stats, and yet one team could win, 21-0. It’s easy to imagine a game in which one team has many more first downs and yards, but still loses. Could something like this bunching effect be cursing the Chargers?

It’s a given that N.F.L. offenses tend to score in proportion to their yards gained. It’s actually an extremely tight correlation, and the best–fit estimate of a team’s points per game is to take just under 10 percent of its yards per game and subtract 10. For the Chargers, who lead the N.F.L. with 433 yards gained per game, we’d expect the offense to score about 32 points per game, but they’ve actually scored only 26.

A similar analysis for the Chargers’ defense, with the special-teams scores set aside, shows that it has  allowed almost 2 points more per game more than the yardage total implies. That’s a total difference of 8 points per game.

If we could magically add those 8 points onto the scoreboard for each game this season, the Chargers would have five wins, no losses and a tie. Of course, things aren’t that simple, and we can’t just add points after the fact. But it’s an exercise that illustrates just how random game outcomes can be, even in the N.F.L.

Here are your Week 7 game probabilities:

Win ChanceGAMEWin Chance0.45Cincinnati at Atlanta0.550.37Washington at Chicago0.630.40St. Louis at Tampa Bay0.600.49San Francisco at Carolina0.510.19Buffalo at Baltimore0.810.45Philadelphia at Tennessee0.550.14Jacksonville at Kansas City0.860.52Pittsburgh at Miami0.480.28Cleveland at New Orleans0.720.13Arizona at Seattle0.870.15New England at San Diego0.850.19Oakland at Denver0.810.26Minnesota at Green Bay0.740.53Giants at Dallas0.47
Posted on: September 24, 2010 9:14 am
 

Week 3 in the NFL

Can you believe that it's already week 3 in the NFL? If I told you that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be 2 - 0 and the Cowboys were going to be 0 - 2, you would have said that I'm crazy. The unpredictable season is always exciting.

Fans can be a fickle bunch, myself included. The collective mood varies week to week, quarter to quarter, possession to possession. This sentiment is amplified following a team's season opening performance. A win correlates into a franchise's followers booking their Super Bowl accommodations; a loss spirals supporters into panic. This is especially the case in Philadelphia. Another example: the New York Jets, who arrived with unparalleled hype and hoopla thanks to HBO's Hardknocks and proclamations from coach Rex Ryan. Yet after suffering a defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, seemingly the entire football world wrote off Gang Green's title aspirations. Pigskin pundits blasted New York management for cutting ties with running back Thomas Jones, signing washed-up veterans, and welcoming the distraction of a reality series into training camp. Former star Joe Namath took issue with the team, stating the current Jets needed to "shut up and play." Ryan was crucified for his game plan, whose conservative nature seemed to contradict the coach's brash attitude and assertions. Keep in mind, New York lost by just ONE POINT. But in the NFL, there's a thin line between bliss and bitterness.

On to the game of the week:
The Atlanta Falcons were the recipients of similar vitriol after a Week 1 defeat to Dennis Dixon and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Falcons were expected to bounce back from a disappointing and injury plagued 2009, and competing against Dixon, a 3rd string quarterback, appeared to be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Troy Pomamalu and the Steeler defense had a different itinerary in mind, as Pittsburgh came out victorious in a 15-9 overtime slugfest. Soon after, Mike Smith's squad was showered with criticisms and condemnations. Would Matt Ryan fall short of his projected potential? Was Michael Turner's 2008 an aberration? After Roddy White, were there any viable weapons in the aerial arsenal? So on and so on...

A 41-7 drubbing of defending NFC West champion Arizona seemed to lay to rest doubts among the Dirty-Bird backers, if only for a week. Ryan threw for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns, with a QB rating of 117.3. The Burner rushed for 75 yards on just 9 carries before succumbing to an injury (although not feared to be serious). Receivers not named White accounted for 14 receptions on Sunday. In short, Atlanta looked like the playoff-contending team that many had forecasted.

In reality, the Falcons fate is somewhere between their two performances. The Pittsburgh D, after shutting down Chris Johnson and Vince Young in Week 2, looks to have reclaimed their tenacious tendencies that led them to a Super Bowl in 2008. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are doing their best Little Giants impersonation. Atlanta travels to the Big Easy this week to play the Saints, off to a 2-0 start in their title defense. I give the edge to New Orleans; prediction: 28-19.

But rest assured, no matter what the outcome, one fan base will be making January playoff plans while the other will willow in its own misery. At least until next week's game.

These are my picks for the rest of the NFL:
Vikings over the Lions
Ravens over the Browns
Patriots over the Bills, aka the worst team in the NFL
Raiders over the Cardinals
Texans over the Cowboys...how bout dem cowboys? 0-3
Dolphins over the Jets
Steelers over the Buccaneers
Titans over the Giants
Bengals over the Panthers
Colts over the Broncos
49ers over the Chiefs
Eagles over the Jaguars
Redskins over the Rams
Packers over the Bears
Chargers over the Seahawks

Posted on: September 15, 2010 6:13 pm
 

What are the rules of trash talk?

Wilfred Winkenbach created fantasy football. He set the rules for engagement. Check out this funny video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX1ncpOXoDw
Posted on: December 17, 2009 3:11 pm
 

Unsuspecting Fantasy Studs

This week I'm identifying unsuspecting players who I believe could emerge as the "fantasy stud" for the week. Each player/defense will be owned in less than a third of all leagues. I settled on 33% primarily because I'm working under the assumption that most people don't have the luxury of plucking Jonathan Stewart off the waiver wire at this point of the season.

Jason Campbell (vs. Giants) I won't spend a great deal of time on him. His Week 15 opponent, the New York Giants, is much better than it appears and should be someone to consider for fantasy owners with non-elite QB options. After a great start to the season, the Giants have become a sieve against the pass, allowing the third-most fantasy points/game to QBs over the last three and five weeks. Over the last two weeks, Campbell has turned Devin Thomas into a late-season fantasy option and Fred Davis into a somewhat reliable TE play with scores in three straight games. Defenses still must respect Santana Moss and new starting RB Quinton Ganther showed last week he is a capable receiver as well. So while the black-and-blue reputation of the Giants (and the NFC East in general) may scare off some owners, it should be noted that only Washington has the defense that each of its division rivals envy. Thus, feel free to trust Campbell this week if you felt comfortable with him last week, as I did.

Chad Henne (@ Titans) I'd much rather recommend a Titans' QB here, but Vince Young's hamstring injury makes the thought of playing him or Kerry Collins dicey at best this week. Therefore, I am forced to turn to the other sideline and give a slight nod to the fast-improving second-year Dolphins signal-caller. While Tennessee ranks as the third-most favorable defense for opposing fantasy QBs this season, it has been the sixth-best unit over the last five weeks. While I admit it would take a pretty desperate owner to put Henne in your lineup this week, I certainly would play him over the likes of players such as Josh Freeman or Brady Quinn (perhaps in two-QB leagues) just because of the matchup. Here's why: what the Dolphins lack in terms of quality WRs, they make up for in quantity. Over the last month, Davone Bess has started to emerge as a quasi-WR1 for the team, but in recent weeks, Henne has come to trust Brian Hartline and Greg Camarillo as well. Because Ricky Williams should have a difficult time with Tennessee's eighth-ranked rush defense, Henne will probably be responsible for Miami’s ability touchdowns this week the few times the Dolphins get into scoring position. I don't anticipate much more than 210 yards and a score, but again, he should provide a usable fantasy point total if you find yourself in a truly desperate spot at the QB position.

Arian Foster (@ Rams) You have to hand it to HC Gary Kubiak. When he decides to make a change at RB, he seems to give that back a chance against a team in which he should be able to succeed. What do I mean? When Steve Slaton lost his fifth fumble of the season in Week 8, Kubiak turned to Ryan Moats against Buffalo's league-worst rushing defense (at the time) and he promptly went off for 151 total yards and three scores. With any luck, Part 2 of this drama may be coming just in time for desperate fantasy owners as the coach is "fixing to pick it up big-time for Foster" with a contest on deck against the 28th-ranked rush defense of the Rams in Week 15. With Slaton on IR, Chris Brown had been named the de facto starter, but that seemed like a place-filler move for Kubiak, and after three carries in Week 14, that appears to be the case. Of course, as luck would have it, Moats apparently picked up on a bit of his predecessor’s ball-handling issues (fumbling for the second time in three games of which he has played and contributed to the box score). On a team that has shuffled through its backs like Houston has this season, nothing is set in stone and certainly Kubiak isn't the most committed coach when it comes to sticking with the run or a particular RB for that matter, so he's certainly a gamble at this point of the season. However, the matchup is so juicy and Foster's pedigree is good enough - especially for an undrafted free agent - that I would be willing to roll with him over several established starting NFL RBs this week.

Kevin Faulk (@ Bills) If there is a Rodney Dangerfield (someone who gets no respect, for the younger crowd) among likely free agent RBs available each year, it has be Faulk. PPR leaguers already know Faulk is a great end-of-the-roster filler, but he has always been a RB that has gotten the most out of his limited touches. We all know the drill with Patriots RBs (and last week's 38 carries by New England RBs was definitely a one-time deal), but if there has been one constant over the years with the Pats’ runners, it has been Faulk. His chances of putting a huge number in your fantasy box score are extremely remote from week-to-week, but at this point of the season, fantasy owners are quite often searching for a RB who won't hang them with a bagel (right Chris Brown?) or near bagel (are you listening, Jerome Harrison?); this from supposed starters on players' real teams. (For what it's worth, I don't hold Brown or Harrison near as accountable for last week's sorry performances as I do their coaches, but I digress.) The Bills and their fifth-ranked pass defense are next on the schedule for the Patriots and given the state of New England passing game right now - more specifically, the fact that Bill Belichick revealed that Tom Brady was a true game-time decision last week - it may be wise for the AFC East leaders to take the same run-heavy approach they did last week vs. the Panthers' sixth-ranked pass defense. In that scenario, Faulk could push 12-15 touches, which is more than enough for him to put up 75-90 total yards.

Good luck, gentlemen.

Posted on: December 11, 2009 5:25 pm
 

Eagle view of Cowboys and Giants - week 14

There are a lot of good games in week 14, but frankly, I don’t care. The two games that I’m focusing on are Philly vs New York, and Dallas vs San Diego.

Let’s start with my birds:

Passing Attack: Donovan McNabb has played well this season (2,427-16-6), but the offense did not skip a beat (in fact on some levels it was more productive) when highly drafted backup Kevin Kolb took over for the injured McNabb in the early season. McNabb is still an upper tier QB, but age and injuries have taken away his running game which was a dangerous part of his skill-set in the past and he has been inconsistent at times. When he is on his game this offense flows as well as any unit in the game, but some weeks the passing game just seems out of synch. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are two young emerging stars at WR, and perhaps a move to Kolb will allow them all to grow together. Jackson missed last week’s game after suffering a concussion the week prior, but is expected to return this week –keep an eye on his status. Also note the Giants tendency to allow opposing TEs to have big games.

The Giants beat their rival Cowboys last week but the depleted Giant secondary did not contribute much to that victory. Tony Romo threw for over 300 yards and 3 TDs against the Giants who at one point had the top ranked passing defense but have fallen down the rankings steadily for the last several weeks. They are still ranked seventh in passing yards allowed (199.0 ypg), but their 21 TDs allowed in 12 games says that they are easily beaten through the air. They will be best served by trying to keep Desean Jackson in front of them in New Jersey this weekend in order to try and limit big plays or that TD total could grow. I’m not expecting the Gmen to shut down DJack. He was at home last week, and he is ready to explode.

Running Attack: Brian Westbrook may return this week from his post-concussion syndrome, but if he does he will likely be very limited. LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver have been very effective in Westbrook’s absence and should get the bulk of the carries even if Westbrook does play. Like the Cowboys, the Eagles tend to abandon the run early so it may be the second week in a row that the Giants run defense looks good merely because it wasn’t really tested.

New York is ranked 15th in the league in run defense, allowing 102.6 ypg. They have allowed 15 TDs in 12 weeks including long TD runs to both McCoy and Weaver in the Week 8 matchup. Under-rated tackle Barry Coefield doesn’t get much recognition in a defense loaded with bigger names but with fellow “up the middle” players like Antonio Pierce and Kenny Phillips lost for the season, Coefield will be a key to the run defense going forward.

Predictions:
Donovan McNabb: 245 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 5 yds rushing
Jeremy Maclin: 50 yds receiving, 1 TD
Desean Jackson: 65 yds receiving
Brent Celek: 55 yds receiving, 1 TD
LeSean McCoy: 65 yds rushing, 1 TD / 35 yds receiving

On to the GMen:

Passing Attack: Eli Manning peaked during the first five weeks of 2009, but also played well against the Falcons and the Cowboys sandwiched around a stinker against Denver during the last three weeks. Manning is playing with pain in his foot – and it’s well known that December has not been kind to him – but to his credit he has emerged as the leader of this offense. He is largely responsible for making the Giants biggest question mark heading into this season – their WRs – into a true strength of the team. Third year WR Steve Smith is only a handful of catches away from breaking the Giants record for receptions in a season and has been a steady presence for Eli to rely on all year. TE Kevin Boss wasn’t used much earlier this season but has really stepped up his game and has been a factor in recent weeks. Like the Giants the Eagles also have a tough time stopping opposing TEs so consider Boss if your options are limited.

The Eagle defense harassed Eli during the last meeting between these two teams, and have generally fared well against the younger Manning in past years. The Eagles are allowing 205.3 ypg and 18 TDs on the season. While they can be susceptible to big plays at times, this is a team that loves to blitz (33 sacks) and force opposing QBs into mistakes (20 interceptions). Eli will need to be sharp and smart if the Giants wish to beat their second consecutive division rival.

Running Attack: Brandon Jacobs turned short swing pass into a 70+ yard TD catch and run last week against Dallas. In other strange news, it snowed in Dallas last week. Not sure which occurrence is more unbelievable. Ahmad Bradshaw has struggled since injuring his foot but ran hard last week in the Meadowlands and will be needed down the stretch for the Giants playoff run. This offense works best when they can hit opposing defenses with a one two punch in the running game.

On the season the Eagles are allowing only 98.8 ypg on the ground and only 8 TDs, so it’s not an easy matchup for the Giants. Will Witherspoon acquired from the Rams at the trade deadline has helped shore up the middle of the run defense and Trent Cole, known more for his pass rushing ability, has developed into a pretty good run stopper as well.

Predictions:
Eli Manning: 275 yds passing, 3 TDs, 2 Ints.
Steve Smith: 70 yds receiving, 1 TD
Mario Manningham: 50 yds receiving
Hakeem Nicks: 80 yds receiving, 1 TD
Kevin Boss: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Brandon Jacobs: 60 yds rushing / 5 yds receiving
Ahmad Bradshaw: 55 yds rushing / 20 yds receiving

My crystal ball says: Giants 24 Eagles 27 (fly eagles fly)

Now, on to dem boys vs the Chargers

 

Passing Attack: Vincent Jackson presents a difficult match up for any defensive back as he has elite deep speed in a 6’5”, 230 pound frame, but has disappeared the last few weeks much to the dismay of his fantasy owners. TE Antonio Gates has picked up Jackson’s slack during that time much to the joy of his fantasy owners. Jackson has improved each season and is a gifted player. One would have to think that he’ll turn his season back around. Although it’s risky during this important part of the fantasy season to start players that have not been producing recently Jackson seems due for a big game and I’d recommend starting him. Unfortunately I will be facing him in my opening round playoff matchup this week, further cementing his chances for a big game from him.

The Dallas defense ranks 20th in passing yards allowed, allowing 225.9 yards per game this season with 17 TDs. Teams have been able to move the ball through the air against this team despite a talented pass rush and secondary. Expect the Chargers to attempt to exploit this weakness as Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates are all big fast targets that should pose problems for even the physical Dallas secondary.

Running Attack: After a slow return following his ankle injury that caused him to miss a few weeks, LaDainian Tomlinson was buried by many fantasy pundits. However, he has scored 8 TDs over the last 6 weeks. He’s obviously not the same back he once was, but is still effective and his numbers improved once the Charger offensive line returned back to health. Tomlinson is no longer elusive and his burst is not what it was in years past but he still has that nose for the endzone and the Chargers know it. As long as expectations are lowered he’s still a fantasy asset.

Dallas has been a solid run defense this season, allowing 102.5 ypg, and has managed to keep opposing backs from scoring (only 5 rushing TDs allowed). Former Falcon Keith Brooking and veteran line backer Bradie James lead the team in tackles with their relentless pursuit of the football. Don’t expect LT2 to post big numbers against the Cowboys, but perhaps he can take a plunge into the endzone.

Predictions:
Philip Rivers: 285 yds passing 2 TDs
Malcolm Floyd: 40 yds receiving
Vincent Jackson: 105 yds receiving, 1 TD
Antonio Gates: 85 yds receiving, 1 TD
Darren Sproles: 35 yds rushing / 20 yds receiving
LT: 45 yds rushing, 1 TD / 10 yds receiving

Everyone knows that the Cowboys play their best football in December…lets break it down.


Passing Attack: Miles Austin has over 900 yards and 9 TDs on the season, with most of those stats coming in his 8 starts. I hate to admit it, but it’s pretty impressive. Miles is big and fast and has been just what the Cowboys needed (and more) to replace Terrell Owens production. People expect Tony Romo to falter in December but last week’s loss cannot be pinned on him. He’s been pretty consistent over the course of the season, so we’ll see if he can maintain that consistency or be subject to yet another late season swoon…I sure hope he fails.

San Diego’s pass defense is allowing 204.4 ypg and has given up 14 passing TDs on the season. Shawn Merriman’s return to health has helped the pass rush become more effective which has improved the defense as a whole. Romo’s tendency to make mistakes has not been as prevalent this season, but strange things happen in December in Dallas.

Running Attack: The Cowboys seem to have something against running the ball despite having 3 capable backs and an obese o-line. They inexplicably abandon the run almost every week. Barber fumbled early last week and was more or less placed on the shelf while the Boys tried to run Felix Jones on outside sweeps, when they ran at all, despite the Giant injuries to the middle of their defense. San Diego does not have a strong run defense and if the Cowboys once again do not attempt to exploit that weakness, the coaching staff should come under major scrutiny.

San Diego was stunned by the loss of NT Jamal Williams before the season got under way, and their early season run defense suffered. They are still not a great run defense, but have bounced back a little since mid-season. They are currently the 21st ranked run defense, allowing 117.8 ypg and 8 TDs on the season, but have only allowed 1 rushing TD since Week 9.

Projections:
Tony Romo: 225 yds passing 1 TD, 2 Ints. / 15 yds rushing
Roy Williams: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Miles Austin: 70 yds receiving
Jason Witten: 45 yds receiving
Felix Jones: 60 yds rushing, 1 TD / 20 yds receiving
Marion Barber: 65 yds rushing, 1 TD / 5 yds receiving

Prediction: Chargers 28 Cowboys 24 (yes…another Cowboys loss in December…no surprise here)

Posted on: December 4, 2009 4:52 pm
 

An Eagle view of the Giants vs Cowboys

As an Eagles fan, I will be watching the Cowboys and Giants game very closely. It should be a classic NFC East battle. This is the way I see the game breaking down:

Passing Attack: Tony Romo got back on track against Oakland. Oakland does have a tough pass defense despite being a poor overall team, so Romo’s performance was impressive (even though I hate to admit it…just keeping it real). When the passing offense is clicking this is a unit that can move the ball quickly. Romo has one of the quickest releases in the NFL and his mobility allows him to buy some time and make plays down field where Miles Austin and Jason Witten’s size and speed combinations make them extremely difficult matchups. Roy Williams of course has first round talent, but just does not seem able to put it all together and has quickly fell down the ranks of the Cowboys pass game pecking order. I bet Jerry Jones is pissed that he gave up all those draft picks on a BUST. The Lions are still laughing.

The injury depleted Giants secondary got a major piece back with the return of Aaron Ross but the results just weren’t there against Atlanta and Denver the last two weeks. Whether it’s because of the departure of Steve Spagnola or just because they’ve been banged up a little, the D-line just isn’t putting as much pressure on opposing QBs as they used to, allowing teams to take advantage of the banged up secondary. Statistically the Giants still rank 4th in pass defense from a yardage allowed perspective (185.0 ypg), so they appear to be a sound pass defense but the 18 passing TDs they have allowed speaks otherwise. I can’t wait until Donovan McNabb gets to torch them.  

Running Attack: The Dallas running game was also able to get back on track on Thanksgiving Day, but the Raiders run defense is as piss-poor as their overall team. Felix Jones had his most explosive game since returning from his knee injury and could be ready for a very nice stretch run...if he doesn’t get injured. Marion Barber also had a big day and should be healed up from his earlier quadriceps pull. This could be one scary offense in December (if Romo doesn’t go back to his ways of old).

New York is ranked 11th in the league in run defense, allowing 107.8 ypg. However, just as their pass defense looks deceivingly good when only looking at the yards allowed, the team has allowed 15 rushing TDs, so it hasn’t been all that effective either. Marion Barber had his best game of the season against the Giants in Week 2 and now that Antonio Pierce has been lost for the season there isn’t much hope that they will shut him down this time either.

Looking into my crystal ball:
Tony Romo: 275 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 20 yds rushing

On to the GMen:

Passing Attack: Eli Manning’s performance generally “fades” when the December winds blow into dirty Jersey, and this year he may have a built in excuse. His foot that has been hampered by plantar fasciitis is now further burdened by a potential stress fracture. This offseason all the talk was the inexperience at the wide out position, but Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks bring hope for an explosive duo at the wide receiver position going forward, and Steve Smith continues to be rock solid; the guy is a catching machine. This unit did very well in Dallas against the Cowboys and will need to do so once again if the Giant season is to be saved.

Dallas is allowing 224.9 ypg and has given up 15 passing TDs in 11 games so it’s been a vulnerable unit. Like the Giants, the Cowboys have been hit by injuries in the secondary and the team has not generated as consistent a pass rush as it did last season. This pass defense may be the Achilles heel to the Cowboys Super Bowl hopes if they end up facing Brett Favre or Drew Brees in January.

Running Attack: The Giants could be hurting at RB this week. Ahmad Bradshaw missed last week’s game in Denver with an ankle injury and his availability for this week’s game is not a certainty. Danny Ware who was being worked in as a 3rd down back and took Bradshaw’s reps last week was knocked out of that game with a concussion and will miss this week’s game. Brandon Jacobs has not been as effective this season as the last couple of seasons and no one really seems to know the reason why. Maybe his body is finally feeling the beatings that he took over the last few years. Jacobs seems to genuinely dislike the Cowboys (can you blame him?) so he should be fired up for this game and see almost every carry, but will he run with the power he’s shown in the past?

Dallas has been playing the run very well this season, allowing 102.7 ypg, and only 4 rushing TDs so it will not get any easier for Jacobs this week to turn his season back around.

Looking into my crystal ball:
Eli Manning: 295 yds passing, 3 TDs, 1 Int.

And the verdict is….Cowboys 20 Giants 27

If you think I’m wrong, you need your head examined, but let’s hear your argument…bring the noise.

Posted on: December 4, 2009 8:36 am
 

Safe bets by DC

With 12 weeks in the books, it is becoming exponentially more difficult to find games that I like each week, especially because this year a lot of teams have played Jekyll and Hyde with us (looking dominant one week—and losing to Oakland or Kansas City the next). Parity is obviously important to the NFL, but this season has made sports betting feel like Russian roulette, thanks in large part to the inconsistency of teams such as the Steelers, Packers, Eagles, Bengals, Cardinals, Ravens, Broncos, Texans, and the New York Giants. Wildly erratic play makes this part of the season very difficult. Good luck to you; I know I’ll need it!

The games are listed in order from 1 to 3. 1 is my most confident pick.

(bet? beware): Tennessee over Indianapolis

I liked Houston as a trap game pick last week, but ultimately thought that Indianapolis was too good to lose to them. Most people suspected that Peyton Manning would find a way to score a bunch of points at will in the second half and win the game. Well, that’s more or less what happened, with one small difference: Peyton didn’t beat Houston; Houston beat Houston with terrible defense, bad penalties, and offensive ineptitude in the second half.

This week, things will be different. The Titans are as hot as ever, as I mentioned when I picked them two weeks ago to beat Houston, and they are really playing some inspired ball behind Vince Young. I never thought he would be a great NFL quarterback, but he sure is running that team well recently. It helps to have an unstoppable running back like Chris Johnson. He is part of the reason why my fantasy team is in first place…not like anyone cares about that, though.

The other thing going for Tennessee this week is that the Colts have been struggling, despite their spotless record. Peyton has faltered of late, matching his career high for consecutive games with 2 interceptions. The last time that happened was 2001. He sometimes looks uncomfortable in the pocket and is doing things that are generally beneath his caliber of play. For example, against Houston for most of the game he had tunnel vision for Pierre Garcon, at one point throwing 5 or 6 consecutive passes to him, multiple times into double coverage. At his best, Peyton never does that; he usually spreads the ball around.

If the Colts don’t clean up their act, they very well could see their first loss of the season on Sunday.

3. Chicago over Saint Louis

I have more confidence in this game than its #3 spot suggests. I am convinced that it would just be too much for Saint Louis to head into Chicago and win a game. Jay Cutler is an interception machine, but the Rams don’t have a good secondary. I expect Cutler to have a decent game.

As usual, Chicago can only hope to contain Steven Jackson. Luckily for the Bears, however, the Rams don’t have a single offensive weapon other than Jackson; don’t give me Donny Avery. Even though the Chicago defense is uncharacteristically weak this season, and the offense is inconsistent, the Bears should be able to move the ball at will against the Rams. This pick isn’t as safe as it normally would be, but there’s just no way that the Rams keep up with Cutler & company in a scoring race, and no way Chicago fans could stomach losing at home to a St. Louis team that obviously needs to be rebuilt.

2. San Diego over Cleveland

I have less confidence in this selection than its #2 designation might suggest. San Diego is traveling into Cleveland, and away games always seem to give the Chargers trouble. Perhaps they have grown accustomed to the beautiful weather out in SoCal, but whatever the reason for their missteps, I try not to pick them for away games, but the Browns make it very tempting.

That said, the Browns are playing such consistently terrible football recently that even if their opponent is no better than mediocre, one cannot afford not to select the team playing against them. They have no offense, a defense riddled with injuries, and very little hope of winning this game. I don’t wholly trust the Chargers, but I trust they can stomp on one of the worst teams in the NFL.

1. Cincinnati over Detroit

I was on the Detroit bandwagon for a while this season, but the injuries to Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson have proven too costly for the Detroit offense to overcome. When you can assume your defense will allow 28+ points per game and your two most talented offensive players are injured, it’s pretty difficult to win games.

Cincinnati, though sometimes Jekyll (sweeping Pittsburgh) and sometimes Hyde (losing to Oakland), should manage to win this one handily. Their defense has drastically improved over the last couple of years, with a young, talented secondary allowing the front seven to get very aggressive and go after opposing quarterbacks. Cedrick Benson has resurrected his career and is leading a reinvigorated Bengals offense; even if he doesn’t play, Bernard Scott should have no trouble topping the century mark against the Lions. Pick the Bengals this week with confidence. This game is my lock of the week.

Before anyone calls me a “homer,” the Eagles should put up a double digit win over the Falcons. With Matt Ryan out, and Michael Turner and Roddy White fighting injuries, the Eagles should rout the Falcons. I would expect to see Michael Vick taking some snaps in the 4<sup>th</sup> quarter, after the game is in the bag. This game isn’t my lock of the week, but I’ll list this one as 1.A. I plan to take all 4 games in a nice little parlay: Bears, Chargers, Bengals, and Eagles.

Just remember, in betting you will win some and lose some. I’m hoping that these bets don’t lose money for me, because my fiancé is expecting xmas gifts…

Posted on: November 8, 2009 8:42 am
 

Week 9: safe bets by DC

When one bets on the NFL, there is no such thing as a safe bet. The number one rule in investing is NEVER LOSE MONEY. If you are like me, your 401k has lost a lot of money over the last few years. Since I was losing money on Wall Street, I decided to put some money into NFL bets. At least if I lose money, its still entertaining.  Here is my new rule: NEVER LOSE MONEY...UNLESS YOU ARE GETTING ENTERTAINMENT FROM THE RISKY INVESTMENT.

With that being said, here are my bets for week 9. I'll be back in the middle of the week to discuss.

(Home team in CAPS)

Jaguars (-6.5) over Chiefs

The Chiefs have a sign in their locker room that says, "Losers assemble in small groups and complain about their coaches and other players. Winners assemble as a team and find ways to WIN."  Their alternative option was a sign that said "Hey, Larry Johnson, get the F out of Kansas City."

Bengals (+3) over Ravens

If the Ravens play like they can, like they did last week, they'll cover. But much like last week, I'm still going to pick against the Ravens simply because of the spread. The Bengals shouldn't be the dog at home.

Texans (+9) over Colts

The Colts don't blow out good teams. The Texans will be able to keep it close. Apologies to Steve Slaton fantasy owners who probably ran their collective heads through a wall last week as Ryan Moats exploded on the scene to, at worst, take over Slaton's job, and at best, make the Texans join the dreaded group of teams with a running back by committee situation.

Falcons (-10) over Redskins

Nothing helps you recover from two losses in a row like playing the Redskins, the team who loves to give wins to others feeling down and out. I feel badly for the Skins fans.

Packers (-9.5) over Buccaneers

The Packers have beaten other members of the Sucky Bunch -- the Rams, Lions, and Browns -- by an average of over 23 points. They can't beat good teams, but they can sure beat up on bad ones. LOCK OF THE WEEK.

Cardinals (+3) over Bears

In the opposite of last year, the Cardinals are very strong on the road and can't get it done at home. But after last week I wonder if we are due for another Kurt Warner implosion, when he's done on a team he really sucks it up for his final few games.

Dolphins (+11) over Patriots

When the Dolphins drafted Ted Ginn Jr. with the ninth overall pick in 2007, they knew it would pay off for them in the return game for one game in the middle of the 2009 season. That must have been the plan all along.

Saints (-13) over Panthers

Congratulations Panthers, you no longer suck. Unfortunately for you, your schedule is far too hard for below average to translate into a playoff berth. Delhomme is due for another messy game.

Seahawks (-10) over Lions

I wrote this down, then felt there is no way I can pick the Seahawks to cover a 10-point spread. Then I wrote down the Lions and said there is no way I can pick the Lions. So, I'm back to square one without an ounce of confidence. Seattle does have two blowout wins at home, but they are also the most injured team in the NFL.

49ers (-4) over Titans

The All-Disappointing QB Bowl! The winner will be the guy who hands off to their star running back the most.

Chargers (+5) over Giants

And this is the Paper Tiger Bowl. The Giants only have one quality win and are falling apart. The Chargers maybe have one quality win, it's debatable. These teams are no good.

Eagles (-3) over Cowboys

DeSean Jackson frightens me more than any man in the NFC East. My Eagles will beat the Cowboys. I feel 95% confident about this bet.

Steelers (-3) over Broncos

The Broncos were exposed last week. They are an average team. Luckily for them, average is way better than the rest of the AFC West.

There it is. Safe bets by DC. (by safe bets, I'm talking about the safest risk that can be taken, when you expect to lose a little)

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com