LAST WEEKÂS RECORD:
DAN K: 3-1
DAN K: 17-13-2
GREEN BAY PACKERS +5.5 AT DETROIT LIONS Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
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ESPO: I like how the entire NFC North decided to patiently leave the division wide open for Green Bay to get Aaron Rodgers back. Detroit especially. “No, no, it’s okay Packers,” they said, “we’ll just drop games to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay so you guys can have a fighting chance down the stretch.” I mean, COME ON. They could have been 8-3 with the division all but locked up! Now they’re up by a half game on Green Bay, and this game becomes a must-win as they already lost to them in Week 5.Â In the worst game of musical chairs ever, Matt Flynn has reunited with the Pack, which I think is his 25th team this season. I’d make fun, but he’s getting paid a shitload of money to be a noodle-armed nobody, so I guess the joke’s on us. The Packers will be content to just feed Eddie Lacy the ball, which is certainly not a bad strategy – the dude is a friggin tank. However, the Lions have been sporting the 4th best run defense (but the 2nd worst pass defense) which doesn’t bode too well for Green Bay’s offensive desires. Rodgers’ injury has all but taken Jordy Nelson out of the gameplan, which is killing them. The three-headed quarterback hydra of Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and Flynn simply can’t reach him with regularity. It’s a huge blow for Green Bay and one that Detroit is likely salivating over. If they can collapse the pocket on Flynn and force him to scramble and try to make plays (ahahahahaha), they’ll have this thing sewn up. Oh, and also Reggie Bush Calvin Johnson something something something. Had the Lions even looked like a remotely respectable NFL team for the past 2 weeks, this line would be north of a touchdown. Lions cover, and obtain some rare Thanksgiving respect.
THE PICK: LIONS -5.5
DAN K: For years, a favorite holiday ritual of millions of Americans has been to gorge on turkey and watch a succession of awful Lions teams get beaten like a rented mule on Thanksgiving. Even though they’re lost their last nine Thanksgiving day games, this edition of the Lions at least has a chance to break that streak. They have the best receiver in football, a gunslinging quarterback, and a defensive lineman who never hesitates when asked to whip the leg. Only…they tend to forget how talented they are and their coach is an ridiculous buffoon and terrible in-game playcaller so they haven’t come anywhere close to realizing their potential. They’ve dropped their last two games against mediocre Steelers and Bucs teams and this week they face another beatable opponent in the Green Bay Packers. There’s no chance in hell that Aaron Rodgers plays and while the starter hasn’t been officially announced Matt Flynn has been taking the most reps so it looks like he’ll be it. The Packers without Rodgers is basically a completely different team and it’s hilarious that no other teams in the division have been unable to capitalize on their 4 game losing (well, 3 games and a tie but same shit) streak. Flynn is a better option than undrafted rookie Tolzien because he’s more familiar in their system but the Packers passing game is basically a write-off because the only way the Packers aren’t gonna get blown out is if Eddie Lacy runs wild like he did last week. That is going to be difficult because Detroit has allowed a whopping 2 rushing yards per carry in the last 4 games. Meanwhile, the Packers secondary has been getting lit up left and right during their losing streak. I can fully see the Lions doing some dumb shit, Jim Schwartz punching a fan or Suh kicking a ref in the balls and them losing the game, but the combination of a backup GB QB + Bad GB Defense + Explosive Detroit Offense means I gotta go with the favorite here. Detroit breaks their Walking Bird Day streak at home.
THE PICK: LIONS -5.5
DICK: Around the time kickoff happens I’ll be cracking the top of a bottle of tequila because nothing says thanks to the wonderful bounty that America and the Holy Ghost has provided me with then spending the morning at work before settling in for a full day of eating food I wouldn’t touch on any other day of the year. Seriously, who the fuck eats three bean casserole? It looks and tastes like puke and for the love of Yahweh, get those fucking candied cranberries away from me. I told you I don’t want the diabeetus. However, I will empty that gravy boat down my throat and thanks for the mashed potatoes. I will be smothering myself in them. Speaking of weird fetishes, why in the fuck are the Detroit Lions a Thanksgiving staple? I get the Green Bay part, but the Lions? When they featured Barry Sanders I could sort of understand it, but considering that Detroit has trotted out such winners as Eric Hipple, Chuck Long, Erik Kramer, and the swollen prune face of Wayne Fontes, it’s almost as if the NFL is poking us with a stick on our day off to prove that they hold us and the wallets of its bachelor fans in a vise grip. Yes, we are knee deep in the muck of the American Dream around here and we will bet on this game even if it means admitting to the world we no longer have any self respect. Consider: The Packers were a pre-season contender, but like every other team with a high-priced quarterback they were left thin when it comes to backups. Who wants to try spelling the name of the guy who may or may not start this weekend? Maybe it’s Matt Flynn, but it could also be someone named Zyreka or Tangiers or Tolzen, yeah, Scott Tolzien! Also of note, the Packers have not won a game since Rodgers went down. Also, Detroit is on a two-game losing streak. Also, Matt Stafford is better than either Flynn or Tolzein. You know what else? The game is in Detroit and Green Bay’s greatest offensive weapon is Eddie Lacey. If Rodgers were on the field, this thing would flip to GB as a three-point road favorite, but since he will be held out at least one more week, it’s fair to say that Detroit will get some nice, warm, fuzzy feelings at home when they win going away after they finally put the screws to someone after blowing a couple of games they should have won. It’s not that I have any sort of real faith in Detroit, it’s that Green Bay is so obviously that much worse without Rodgers. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, but this is the penance Green Bay pays for not keeping another competent quarterback on the roster. Under any other circumstances I’d be on the Pack, but sorry, cheese heads, you won’t be winning any games until the guy who takes up most of your cap space comes back.
THE PICK: LIONS -5.5
OAKLAND RAIDERS +9.5 AT DALLAS COWBOYS Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
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Hey now! Suddenly the Cowboys are spotting teams almost a full touchdown and field goal? That’s, uhÂ
interesting. Dallas has only won by 10 or more three times this year. They demolished St. Louis 31-7 in Week 3, which seems like three YEARS ago now. They beat Washington 31-16, which means little to me because oh man, Washington has to be one of the worst teams in the league at this point. Then they beat a Matt Barkley-led Eagles squad 17-3. Whoop dee friggin doo. I guess Vegas is banking on MCGLOIN having a full-scale meltdown in primetime. Which isn’t crazy I guess, but definitely a line built to appeal to the “casual” fan. You know, your stupid uncle Joe who’s already got a full load on by noon, “McGloin? WHO THE FUCK IS THAT? GIMME THE COWBOYS” By the way, I don’t think I’ll EVER hear the name “McGloin” and not think of the hilarious Irish guy in Gangs of New York ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TPRG6Yqzf4
) That Romo and Byrant, wat a couplea Fidlam BensÂ
Â I don’t know, the Raiders are bad. But they’re bad and don’t know they’re bad. Which is a less nice way of saying they’re well-coached, I guess. I mean, aside from that 7-touchdown shaming by Peyton Foles, they haven’t really been blown off the field this year. This game screams backdoor cover to me. Dallas nurses a decent lead, and then Oakland rallies to ultimately lose by less than a touchdown. Jerry Jones acts as if they just won the Super Bowl by hanging on to beat Oakland at home. God I hate that guy. I wonder if there’s a prop bet for how many times JJ is shown during the broadcast. Over/under’s gotta be likeÂ
12.5, no? Take the over! Raiders cover.
THE PICK: RAIDERS +9.5
DAN K: I never really got calling the Cowboys “America’s Team” because every aspect of their state identity focuses on how different they are from the rest of the USA, as well as being better at big steaks, executing people and allowing dogs to carry guns in church. I figured maybe Jerry Jones just sent a pallet full of unmarked bills to every network airing their games and made them call the team that or something, who knows. Anyway, this year they entertain us while we’re stuffed full of food and liquor by going up against the Raiders and their QB who blows my mind at actually being successful in the NFL based on how he looked in college, Matt McGloin. Even though the Raiders haven’t won a lot of games this year, they haven’t actually looked that bad. Their defense is game and McGloin has looked solid after the injury/benching of Terrelle Pryor. I guess losing Darren McFadden to injury was a blow, but the certainty of Darren McFadden getting injured is such that 60% of private islands are owned by gamblers who found suckers to bet the over on him playing 6 games in a season. His backup Rashad Jennings has been excellent in relief (Fun Fact: Jennings played at Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell, a man who is so foul that the ground periodically rejects his casket, which then has to be reburied) and although McFadden is expected to play some this week, Jennings will be getting the bulk of the carries. I can definitely see a possibility of the Raiders pulling the backdoor cover, but I’m going to diverge from the opinions of my fellow bettors and say Dallas covers in this game. It’s not an important conference or divisional game so Romo can be at ease and just chuck it around. Metro Dallas’ Team wins big.
THE PICK: COWBOYS -9.5
DICK: Normally this would be another pass since betting on Raiders games is like giving your money to the bookie. You go with them and they get blown out. You bet the other side, and they find a way to backdoor cover thanks to some flukey special teams bullshit or outright win when the favorite plays their worst defense of the year. Now I have to pick them in a vacuum because it’s a holiday special? Fuck you, fate, I hate you more than the city of Dallas and child molesters. On paper this should be a blowout since the Raiders have a porous offensive line, really fast receivers who have iron hands, a stable of deficient running backs, but may get Darren McFadden back just in time for him to cleanly break his foot. Also, let’s take a look at their tandem of quarterbacks: Terrell Pryor is a ton of fun, but the offense he runs is comparable to a middle school flag football team. Also, four touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Those numbers count. He may be fun to watch, but the results can be gruesome. Matt McGloin is not much better and the more film teams see of him, the worse he’s going to look. You will see his INT/TD ratio soar if he is kept as the starter. This is a team that will be in transition and rebuild for another three to five years thanks to some disastrous trades and personnel moves that ended shortly after Al Davis passed away. Dallas is not much better. They have a superior collection of talent, but it’s mismatched, overpriced, and lacking both success and cohesion because Jerry Jones knows fuck all about constructing good football teams. Romo alone is good for 24 points in this game and if Dallas can play some semblance of defense they should win by two touchdowns. That’s the problem, Dallas is just as unpredictable as Oakland in many regards and this would normally garner a pass, but because we do this for the people, I’ll put myself in the shoes of even the most degenerate of gambler that would pick this game and take Oakland so I can at least root for them with history and statistics on my side. Also, Dallas tends to play to level of the team they’re up against, regardless of how good or bad said team is. Double-digit favorites can be dangerous and 9.5 may as well be 10. Raiders.
THE PICK: RAIDERS +9.5
PITTSBURGH STEELERS +3 AT BALTIMORE RAVENS Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
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ESPO: Siiigh. Come on. Really? This is the late game, which the East Coasters will be falling asleep on the couch to at 8:30, and the West Coasters will be comfortably ignoring while setting the table at 5:30. I mean, yeah, this is a big rivalry, but fuck, I don’t want to watch this game. I DON’T WANT TO WATCH IT! Both these teams are boring garbage. The Ravens are 29th in yards per game. They can’t run the ball. Flacco is a tool. The defense has been unsexily stout. The Steelers can do everything just okay. BoyÂ
what a TURKEY this game is, eh? Eh? If you didn’t watch that 19-16 THRILLER earlier in the year, you didn’t miss much. I mean, I guess this game does have big playoff implications. If the Ravens lose, that’s pretty much it for them in the Wild Card. Pittsburgh figures to be their main competition for that seed, and losing twice to them might be the final nail in the coffin. Stakes are not QUITE as high for the Steelers, but they still really want this one if they have any designs of clawing in. Agh. I hate this line. On a neutral field this would be a pick’em, which is spot on. I don’t know how much to weigh home field advantage here. Traditionally the Ravens are good at home, and they are 4-1 at home this season, albeit not against what you’d exactly consider a murderer’s row of opponents (Browns, Texans, Packers (loss), Bengals (in OT), Jets).Â There’s a lot of questions. Can Ray Rice have another good game? Which Flacco will show up? Will the Ravens D get to Ben? Can they cover Antonio Brown? In writing this, I’ve already mentally switched my pick three times. In all likelihood, it will end up as a push. My first instinct was to take the points, and I think that’s what I’m gonna do. Good luck watching this through your tryptophan-and-wine addled eyeballs.
THE PICK: STEELERS +3
DAN K: Ugh, I really would rather not pick this game. I definitely won’t be betting on it. The emotional factor is too high. I hate the Ravens and their McPoyle brother coach and their overpaid INT machine of a QB and the schadenfreude over their mediocrity this year has almost overcome my annoyance at the mediocrity of my own team. That said, their matches are usually some damn good games. Although that asshole Dick decided to poach my interesting stat below, it’s very relevant because these teams are a mirror image of each other and it reflects in the final scores. The Steelers have bounced back from their awful start to the year to put themselves in position for a late playoff push. The offensive line has settled in and the defense actually remembered that they’re supposed to take the ball away from the other team. One would hope that a suddenly opportunistic secondary gets to take the ball from Flacco at least once. However, the Ravens are leading the NFL in sacks and if there’s one thing Big Ben knows his way around, it’s the turf after getting planted by a linebacker. Not to mention, the Steelers are out a starting nose tackIe which leads me to believe that the Ravens will have success running against them. I don’t really have much to say about this game because it’s basically been the same game replayed twice a year for the last 5 seasons. Like Espo and history says, this will most likely be a push but I’m going to take the Ravens because they’re at home and I think their defense could cause problems for Pittsburgh. It pains me to say it but I’m taking Baltimore.
THE PICK: RATBIRDS -3
Dankus mentioned an interesting stat: Seven of the last 10 games between these teams have been decided by exactly three points. Considering that the Ravens have been up and down, the Steelers have been steadily surging over the last few weeks, and I tend to go with the hot hand, it’s me on the Steelers because both teams are equally worthless and Baltimore has not done enough to garner faith in them at any point this season. So with the line set at a field goal and the venue not meaning much more than who gets called a motherfucker more, I’m liable to lean on the side of Roethlisberger and his ability to do more with less. Flacco’s solid, but I see the Steelers being able to do more on defense than Baltimore can. Also, I always feel good about the Steelers when they are riding a winning streak and going on the road. They just feel like a winner and even if I drop this bet I’ll feel pretty good by game time because I’ll have been whipped into a frenzy by all of my buddies who are Steeler fans. For those of you keeping score at home, this is not a wise way to bet, and I would pass if I had my druthers, but damn, this sure as fuck is fun.
THE PICK: STEELERS +3