Papa’s Picks: Top 5 2010 NFL Week 12 Underdogs
So yeah, I was 1-4 last week as the favorites killed the dogs in Week 12. Give me a break, you can’t win them all! The Rams stumbled late, the Lions did the same – the Broncos, they just stunk it up after the first 5 minutes, and the Giants eliminated themselves from winning when Eli Manning spiked himself after a run, fumbling despite not getting contacted by a defensive player, giving the ball up along with the game. Tampa won, however, making sure I didn’t go winless in Week 12 – good squad, those Buccos, like ‘em a lot! Here’s Week 12′s – write them down!
Week 12 Free Picks
Buffalo Bills (+7) @ HOME VS. Pittsburgh Steelers: I see the Steelers dropped the hammer on the Raiders last week, a team, like Buffalo, that had been playing some tough football despite being a laughing stock for the last few years in the league. So maybe the Bills are supposed to get crushed at home by the big bad Steelers – I don’t know – but call me crazy when I tell you the Bills are a nice bet. Unlike the Raiders who can really only run the football, the Bills’ passing attack is potent, and big-play-worthy, and the Steelers have struggled with that area of their defense. Upset? Probably not – but a close game just like the ones Buffalo has been playing for the better half of the season? More likely than not.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+9) @ New York Giants: I wonder if the oddsmakers have seen the Giants injury report lately, or if they’ve watched them play at any time over the last couple weeks. The Giants have always been streaky under Tom Coughlin and they’ve always been a bad cold-weather team under Eli Manning. The Jags have been playing well enough to give them a nod getting 9 points against a struggling Giants squad.
Green Bay Packers (+1) @ Atlanta Falcons: Aside from Michael Turner and the Falcons run game (which hasn’t been all that great this year anyway) I don’t know one thing the Packers aren’t better at than Atlanta. So I’ll take the Packers to beat the 8-2 Falcons in Atlanta – big day for Mr. Rodgers and company.
San Diego Chargers (+3) @ Indianapolis Colts: Did the Chargers go and do what the usually do and make me a believer in the 2nd half of the season after struggling to win games throughout the first half? Yes, I’m hooked. I hate getting lured into stuff like this but with Indy hurting in more places than any other and San Diego playing well, getting their best receiver back, and committing to the human bowling ball that is Mike Tolbert – well, I’m lured. The Chargers are shiny right now, how can I help myself?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+9) @ Baltimore Ravens: I know the Ravens are good, and despite always picking dogs, and the Ravens always being favorites, I don’t pick against them very often – that’s how I show respect. But this line is just too good. How good? Too good! The Buccos find ways to win and the Ravens find ways to play close games. Baltimore doesn’t put points on the board quickly, and Tampa Bay has some nice physicality to them. Could and should be a tight one in Baltimore!
Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders Point Spread Pick & Preview: This game still doesn’t have a line at any of the books that I use, so I won’t be betting it this weekend unless something I really like comes up on Saturday. But there are a couple casinos that have the Raiders as 2.5 point favorites, and the way the Dolphins are playing lately, teamed up with the way the Raiders have become a physical team on both sides of the ball, and we’ll raise the pot with the quarterback situation in Miami – I think I’ll go with the home team Raiders in this one.
Now, Miami is pretty good defensively, ranked 7th in total defense this season, but I think the Raiders can run on just about anyone, and that running should set up a couple big plays via the air. I don’t think it will take took many big plays to win this game – as a scoring fest it won’t be.
Miami’s inability to run the ball lately really has me questioning their value going further. I don’t know if it’s their failure in the run game as much as it’s their coaching staff’s quickness to give up on that part of their offense, even when their passing attack has huge holes.
To add to Miami’s troubles on offense, Brandon Marshall looks unlikely to make the trip to Oakland, which means he probably won’t be playing. That takes away a big weapon for them (though they haven’t used that weapon much of late). But I’m worried about just about anything missing from Miami’s attack, they haven’t looked all that good of late. I’ll take Oakland and their 5-1 ATS mark over their last 6 games.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Seattle Seahawks Point Spread Pick: I got this one when the getting was good earlier in the week, -1 for the Chiefs – but listen, it’s not much different, -1 or -2 or -2.5 – they all cover if your team wins by a field goal, and I expect that from the Chiefs at last. Earlier in the year, even when the Chiefs were winning football games, I would have expected them to lose this game in Seattle – but they aren’t a one dimensional football team anymore, as finally Matt Cassel has been looking like the guy KC expected when they traded a 2nd round pick for him and paid him a boat-load of money two seasons ago.
Cassel has 18 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions this season – that’s one of if not the best ratio in the entire league. Like I said, earlier in the season, I would have taken Seattle at home, but in his last 6 games, Cassel has thrown 14 touchdowns to just 1 interception, leading the Chiefs to a 6-4 record on the season, and showing he’s not just a hand-it-off quarterback.
Not that handing it off in Kansas City is bad, even against a solid Hawks defensive front, I expect Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones to gain a nice bunch of yards on the Hawks. It will be cold and rainy in Sea-Town most likely – so the ground game will be important.
But Seattle hasn’t been able to stop the pass, staking their claim as one of the worst pass defenses in football.
A couple warnings here: The Hawks almost always screw me. I pick this way, they go that way, I zig, they zag, I throw a Hail-Mary to the 6 yard line like Kellen Moore did with 1 second left, and the Hawks come in and miss the short field goal. The Hawks and I are not a good match by any means. Also Kansas City is 5-0, undefeated at home. They are 6-4 overall. The easy math will tell you they are 1-4 on the road. Seattle is 3-1. I’m just saying, the warnings are there, I’m just going against those warnings.
Week 12 NFL Picks Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills: The Buffalo Bills keep blowing my mind with their tough-nosed play. It’s been quite some time since they weren’t in a ball game – I mean, they are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games, and in 2 of their 3 losses prior to that it was a close call going into the final frame. So, looking at their schedule, their last beat down came October 3rd against the New York Jets, a team pretty dang similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Only there’s one glaring difference: New York has the corners to lock down on the Bills’ receivers and Pittsburgh does not.
As you can see, I have some questions with this pick – but in the end, it’s going to the Steelers. Like I said, Pittsburgh is a pretty dang similar team to the Jets – they play close games a lot, they can run the ball, and they go for jugular shots through the air. Defensively they straight eliminate the run, and take their chances through the air – seeing if you can get open before their pass rush eats you alive.
That Jets game was in Buffalo just like this one. The Bills have certainly improved since they got slapped around by the Jets, as overtime losses in Baltimore and Kansas City, and wins over Detroit and Cincinnati will show you. Yes, the last team without a win has now won 2 straight – one more and this things is a regular winning streak.
But that’s not going to happen against the Steelers. They need to be able to run to set up the pass, and as well as Fred Jackson has been running the football, he’s not going to dent the Steelers’ front line. I like Pittsburgh by 10.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ USC Trojans Week 13 NCAA Free Pick: It’s nice to see this game not meaning a damn thing. Okay, I guess Notre Dame still has a chance to steal a good team’s spot in some bowl game somewhere, but even that seems unlikely with their starting quarterback ruled out for the season – the bottom line is that this game almost has never meant less, and as a full time hater of these two programs, it’s fun to see.
That being said, I’m not completely sure what to make of these two teams without their starting signal callers.
On one side, Barkley has had one heck of a year, on the other side, Dayne Crist hasn’t been too great, but the fact that nobody took his job during his downs says something. Oh it’s a tough call, but I’m going with this hurting USC more than it hurts Notre Dame. Mitch Mustain isn’t the worst option the Trojans could have, but I definitely think that he’s a huge drop off from what Barkley is, and I’m not so sure that’s the case across the field.
Tommy Rees, ND’s QB this Sunday, has played well in his time this season – completing a higher percentage than Crist and gaining more yards per attempt. Since Crist’s injury, Rees has stepped in and put up some good numbers for sure. He threw for 334 yards and 4 TDs in his first action, after Crist went down early against Tulsa. He put up 3 touchdowns in the team’s big win over Utah, and he led them to an easy win over Army. So far, he’s 2-0 as a starter. I don’t know what I’m hoping for, but I’ll bet on Notre Dame.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+4.5) @ USC Trojans
Oklahoma Sooners @ Oklahoma State Cowboys Pick & Preview: I think the Cowboys are better than the Sooners and they’re playing at home. That’s basically what it comes down to, and I don’t think 3 points is going to matter much – so I didn’t take that spread into account, really. It’s just a field goal, anyway, a short one at that, and who misses short field goal, eh Boise?
The common theme in this game has been, “Oklahoma always owns this rivalry” and that’s true, Oklahoma State hasn’t beaten the Sooners since way back in 2002. Also, if winning hasn’t been enough, in the betting world its been damn near the same outcome – Oklahoma has won ATS in 6 of the last 7 years. But, there’s a reason for those 7 straight wins, the Sooners were the better football team during those years. And it wasn’t close very often. Oklahoma has been favored by double digits in 8 of the last 10 meetings. You feel me, here? History is always an interesting thing to look at, but just because Sam Bradford kicked the Cowboys’ butts doesn’t mean Landry Jones will, right?
Speaking of Landry Jones, there’s a chance he doesn’t play in this game, because of his “head injury” suffered last week in the team’s beat down of Baylor.
Oklahoma has been good lately, pounding Baylor after destroying Texas Tech – but those teams aren’t what I’d call good, OK State is.
#13 Oklahoma Sooners @ #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-3)
Oregon State Beavers @ Stanford Cardinal College Football Picks: Oregon State has a lot of work to do with they want to go Bowling – talk about a dizzy schedule the last couple weeks of the seasons; first it’s Stanford this week and it only gets tougher with a match-up against their big time in state rival, Oregon a week from Saturday. But I’m not taking the Beavers because I think they’re going to pull the upset, nope – I’m pretty sure they’re losing – I’m taking OSU because they play their best football against their best opponents (like when they smoked USC 36-7 last week or when they beat Arizona in Arizona or when they played a tight one against Boise State).
Now, Stanford is what I’d call a better team than all those other teams maybe outside of Boise, but maybe including Boise – they are good. And this game is on the road for the mighty Beav, but they’re getting a tid-bit more than two touchdowns, and they way they’ve played up to their opponents’ level – it seems like a good enough bet to me.
The Beavers may be 1-3 on the road this season, but they are 3-1 ATS on the road this season, and we just so happen to be in the ATS business here. Defensively, the Beavers are better than they’ve played in half their games this season – if they can step it up, a nice cover here would do the trick. Then all they have to do is beat Oregon next week to secure a bowl-bid.
Oregon State Beavers (+14.5) @ #6 Stanford Cardinal