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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

But now these days are gone, I'm not so self-assured

This happened to me last year, too: For the first few weeks of the season, it's not that hard to pick an underdog to win its pro football game outright, but after that, the prospects get much more muddled. Oddsmakers have a lot more information to work with than they did when the season was in its infancy, and so the calls for us gamblers become tougher.

'Dogs that are playing at home are always intriguing, and this week there are five of them. But on the whole, after last week's dud (Atlanta), I haven't got a clue as to which of these might pull out an upset (underdogs in caps):

10 KANSAS CITY at Carolina
7.5 SEATTLE at NY Giants
6.5 MIAMI vs. San Diego
5 WASHINGTON at Philadelphia
4.5 PITTSBURGH at Jacksonville
3.5 DETROIT vs. Chicago
3.5 HOUSTON vs. Indianapolis
3.5 SAN FRANCISCO vs. New England
3.5 MINNESOTA at New Orleans
3 BALTIMORE vs. Tennessee
3 TAMPA BAY at Denver
1 BUFFALO at Arizona

No lines are available yet for Cincinnati at Dallas or Atlanta at Green Bay (the latter being a good candidate for your Crummy Game of the Week).

So help me out! As usual, all theories are welcome, but remember: The team I pick has to win its game outright. The point spread is relevant only in determining how many points in the season-long contest I win if I'm right. I've now dropped to fourth place, 11 points behind the pacesetter, but with most of the long season still ahead of us.

Last week, a commenter named Geek Squad pronounced the Redskins over Dallas the value pick of the week, and doggone it, that was right on the money. Steve had Cleveland over Cincy, which was also right on. I heard Atlanta from several helpers, but like me, they were all wet.

Let's go, readers -- this is the part of the season when champions are made.

UPDATE, 10/1, 12:46 p.m.: Here's a biggie to add:

17.5 CINCINNATI at Dallas

Comments (15)

I may be "all wet," but at least I gave you fair warning.....

Let me assure you they WILL loose because I am picking them, but of the teams listed...........ATLANTA would be my pick.

Posted by mp97303 | September 23, 2008 9:19 PM

With that being said, here goes nothing...

Nothing else looks good, KC has rediscovered their run game, they look as good as any.

Washington should be sky-high against Philly. I'm surprised that they're giving 5 on that. Washington could simply win that outright.


Remember, Washington > Dallas wasn't a good pick because it was likely to happen: It was a good pick because it was likely enough to happen that going for the big points was worth it. Think about it: Cleveland has to beat Cincy over three times as often as the Skins beating the Boys for that pick to be better.

Here's this weeks rankings:
1. Kansas City 2.04
2. Miami 1.97
3. Seattle 1.83
4. Washington 1.52
5. Pittsburgh 1.48
6. Minnesota 1.36
7. Houston 1.33
8. San Fran 1.26
9. Detroit 1.25
10. Baltimore 1.24
11. Tampa Bay 1.15
12. Buffalo 0.49

There's a big dropoff after the top three, so I suggest picking one of those. Notice how bad those 3 and 3.5 point options look: They're just not worth it in the long run. Too risky for too little gain.

That said, I can't even bring myself to advocate strongly for you picking the hapless Chiefs, so if you can't stomach that choice, go with the Fins at home against a Charger team that really struggled to beat Oakland last week. At the very least, don't touch any of the small dogs. Math is on the side of "no guts, no glory".

WAS - They are playing good ball and PHI still has Westbrook limping.

Geek Squad - How would your picks have done so far this season? You can only pick one team each weekend, I was curious if your method works.

The spreadsheet for this week is here.

Hey, Geek Squad -- how much do I have to pay you to keep that system just between you and me?


I only started last week, so my average is a completely sustainable 11.5 points per week ;)

My method is the best possible to use if you acknowledge that you wouldn't actually be a successful gambler betting on these games for real. If you feel like you could beat Vegas, pick any game you want and show your mad handicapping skills. But NFL lines are incredibly efficient and chances are, Vegas knows better than you do.

So these aren't really my picks or my method, it's just what's best based on what the book is saying are the underdog's chances of winning and the points the pool says you'll get if they do. Do you see why it would be silly to bet a 50/50 game for one point instead of an 80/20 game for ten points, though?

First, we've got to get Geek Squad involved with solving our financial problems. I sense greatness here.
Washington will lose to Philly. The mighty Eagles, denied a Super Bowl ring by the Patriots cheating, are due a few breaks.
The thing about the Redskins-Dallas game that stunned me was that the Washington center had two penalties in a 4-down sequence. Both were unrelated to the play, and both caused touchdowns to be called back. And the Skins still won. Jim Zorn - like the Geek Squad - also appears to have the mantle of greatness.

Nice! Perfect, well done, that's exactly it. I won't post it from now on.

A quick note: Of course, use your hunches and don't always pick #1 on the list if you don't like it, as I'm sure this is more about fun to you than money. It's just nice to use that as a guide to pick amongst the best bets.

Good luck!

It's a great system, even if it doesn't always work as well as it did last week. Thanks for letting us have it.

+1200 is a good estimate for the Dallas/Cincy game, making it too much of a longshot to go for the big points.


Jack, quit your kvetching. You know that one big pick and you are right back in the thick of things. WASHINGTON nets you 5 points. SEATTLE (after a bye week) needs this badly. That gets you 7.5 Those are your two best shots at redemption.

The KC game is intriguing. With Huard back at QB, they are enough of a passing threat to create opportunities to run for Larry Johnson. And Carolina, as we have seen, is jekyl and hyde. So, that would be worth a lot of pts if KC plays like it did when they beat Denver last week.

Also, Seattle is tough to pick on the road in the east after a bye at NY, but NY is without its main receiving threat, and they damn near lost to a miserable Cincinnati team at home two weeks ago. Seattle finally has their receiving corps back, and they've been running the ball tough.

Hey! I was right!

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