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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gone to the 'dogs

We're down to the last four weeks of the regular season in the pro football underdog pool in which I play. Our pool runs through the playoffs, but in those games there are fewer points to be won, and a greater chance that someone you're jockeying with for money is going to pick the same game as you. And so the wide-open part of the season-long competition has about a month to go. That's still a lot of time for the gamblers to get lucky.

Last week, we were among a crowd who correctly picked Atlanta over San Diego, but there were also quite a few players who scored even bigger with the Broncos over the Jets. As things stand, I'm in third place -- 4 points behind the leader and 3½ behind the second place player. Nine and a half points behind me in fourth place is my nearest challenger.

This week's lineup has quite a few big point spreads, and so I'll need to stay on my toes. Remember, in this pool I need to pick an underdog that will win its game outright, and not just beat the spread. If I'm right, I get the number of points that the underdog was predicted to lose by. Here's this week's slate:

14 ST. LOUIS at Arizona
13.5 CINCINNATI at Indianapolis
13.5 CLEVELAND at Tennessee
10 OAKLAND at San Diego (Thursday)
9 KANSAS CITY at Denver
6.5 JACKSONVILLE at Chicago
6 HOUSTON at Green Bay
5 SEATTLE vs. New England
5 WASHINGTON at Baltimore
3 TAMPA BAY at Carolina
3 ATLANTA at New Orleans
3 DALLAS at Pittsburgh
1 MIAMI at Buffalo

Oh, the intrigue! Off the top of my head. I'm sort of liking Oakland, Jacksonville, and Houston, but even Philly could do it to the Giants, who seem about due for a letdown game.

Since the Oakland game is a Thursday number, I'll have to call that one (if it's my pick) in the next 24 hours or so. Otherwise, I've got 'til Saturday night.

I appreciate all the suggestions readers send my way on this -- they give me a lot to think about. Last week everybody seemed to see what was coming. This week, I think, is more difficult.

Comments (15)

Don't overlook how the suspensions will work in all of this (esp. for NO ... and a line on Minnesota v. Detroit if it gets made). This is going to take some thought.

How about a pool on the moment Portland's per capita long-term debt breaks the five-figure barrier?

If it happens, I'll pick the moment five minutes after Adams takes the oath of office.

I like Houston in this one for the points, but Tampa Bay if you want to play it safe and just get a victory.

Washington or Tampa Bay.

I really like Oakland in this one. SD is way broken, and them hooligan Raiders fans love the drive down to Chardonnay-ville.

I'd normally think Cincy is a good upset too, but Indy is playing for their playoff lives. I'm thinking they get it done at home.

Yeah, I like Tampa as the safe(ish) bet. Or Atlanta. If you really want to swing for the fences, you could take KC. I know they suck, but I'm a Broncos fan and ever since their opening day win over Oakland they've lost a bunch of games they should've won (KC once already, Oakland at home, Jax at home) and won a few they should've lost (@ Jets last week, @ Falcons). No one can get their head around this team. There's no way they should lose to KC... so they probably will.

Take the Skins. The Redskins-Ravens game was moved to 8:15 Sunday night, and the Ravens are 0-6 in their past 6 prime time games. The last time they won in prime time was December 2005.

If I haven't mentioned this before, definitely wait until the day before to make your picks. For example, I believe that 5.5 Jets over titans spread was all the way down to 1 by gametime, making it the math pick of the week by kickoff. Closing lines are the most efficient.

That said, Oakland looks good right now, and I'd take them if there are no major shifts in the next 24 hours.

Buy some time. Skip the Oakland game. I like Geek Squad's advice, and I think Nate's logic on Denver being hard to predict is sound too. However, Tim's blowing smoke rings picking games based on what time of day they start.

Where's the Minnesota at Detroit spread?

This could be Detroit's week if the steroid suspensions in Minnesota are reinstated (TRO issued but NFL is fighting it).

see coverage of legal battle:


The Williamses are pillars of the Viking's D line (a run stopper and a pass rusher). Could be worth a shot if the spread is wide enough.

Until it's known whether the players are going to get an injunction against the suspensions, it's probably impossible to set odds on that game.

Philly....McNabb didn't like being benched and showed it last week.

(I told you I would have to get one right sooner or later....GO FALCONS)

That said, Oakland looks good right now,

Like I say, the math and the Vegas bookies take you only so far.

Okay, it's a good thing you didn't pick Oakland to upset. You didn't, did you?

Reaching for the stars pick - Houston could somehow find a way to grind down GreenBay. Houston's getting warmer as the weather is getting colder, and GreenBay has signs of an end of season meltdown coming (see New Orleans).

Safer pick - Dallas to beat Pittsburgh. Dallas NEEDS this win - Pittsburgh doesn't. Dallas has Pacman back, and Willie Parker will be rusty upon his return.

Holy crap...I right 2 weeks in a row

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