Saturday, November 1, 2014

week nine: quick picks

I'm saving the theme for what will be one of the next two posts.  Not sure what's coming first -- the Chiefs / Jets recap ... or what the theme I wanted to use, will be used for.

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Sorry the picks post is so crappy this week.  Had a long week at work, and in real life.  I can't promise next week will be any better ... but I am a mere ten scheduled working days away from eighteen days away from the office!  (naughty by nature voice) Hip Hop Hooray!  Ho!  Hey!  Ho!

(And for those of you who don't know me?  I have not had more than two regularly scheduled working days off in a row, in three years.  I need this.  Badly.)

The stats:

Last Week ATS: 7-8-0.
Season to Date ATS: 57-62-2.

Last Week SU: 9-6-0.
Season to Date SU: 69-51-1.

Last Week Upset / Week: cover ATS, lose SU.
Season to Date Upset / Week: 5-5-0, both ATS and SU.
This Week's Upset / Week: Texans (+1) over Eagles.

The Non-Chiefs, Non-Jets, Non Ginormous AFC Showdown Picks:

* at Panthers (+3) 17, Saints 13.  I am now 1-8 straight up on Thursday nights.

* at Dolphins (-1 1/2) 24, "Blooper" Chargers 14.  I do not believe in Phyllis Rivers.

* at Bengals (-10 1/2) 31, Jaguars 6.  "Webster Game O' The Week!"

* at Browns (-6 1/2) 34, Bucs 2.  "Good Times Game O' The Week!"  If not of the year.

* at Vikings (pick) 20, Redskins 13.  If the Vikes get this one, they get to 4-5 at the bye.  (And they'll get it.)  Then at Chicago with two weeks to prepare (winnable), followed by three straight home games: Packers (rivalry game; anything can and usually does happen), Panthers, and Jets.  They could easily be 7-6, if not 8-5, headed into three winnable finishers: at Lions, at Dolphins, vs Bears.  If you're looking for this year's NFC "where the hell did they come from?!?!?!" playoff participant, you can do worse than look at the Minnesota Vikings, is all I'm saying.

* at Texans (+1) 34, Eagles 24.  Love Houston in this spot.  Also it's about to get ugly for Philly -- after this one, they get a Monday Nighter against Carolina next week that's the Panthers' "Kitchen Sink" game to save the season, then they get to go to Lambeau on a short week to face the Pack.  They'll get a layup at home after that against the Titans, but then they go to Dallas on a short week to face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving for what might be the division.  I'm not saying the Eagles playoff goose is cooked ... but that bird's starting to give off smoke.

* "Super" Cardinals 20, at Cowboys 6.  1998 Wildcard Memorial Score.

* at 49ers 27, Rams (+10 1/2) 17.  I'll take that half point happily, Danny Sheridan!

* at Seahawks (-14) 45, at raiders 6.  This line could be Seahawks -40, and I'd at least debate laying the forty.

* Ravens (-2) 21, at Steelers 17.  In a moment, Chiefs fans, I'll lay out our rooting interests this week.  Let's just say, we are all Ravens, Sunday night.

* at Giants (+3) 34, Colts 30.  The Giants are 3-4, 2 1/2 behind Dallas, 2 behind Philly, and the Cowboys and Eagles hold tiebreaker.  (Although both squads still have to travel to the Fake Meadowlands.)  The Giants next four?  Colts (MNF) / at Seahawks / vs 49ers / vs Cowboys.  They have to take two of those four, get to 5-6, before a very doable final five (at Jaguars / at Titans / vs 'Skins / at Rams / vs Eagles).  I actually think the Giants are in better shape than Philly right now, to be honest with you.  I'll take them, with two weeks to prepare, to get back to .500, and they're gonna upset one of the NFC West powers, and beat Dallas.

The Game Of Ginormous Significance for the American Football Conference Postseason:

Brady.  manning.  Pats.  donkeys.  Only on ... CBS!

I'll get into the AFC Playoff Race momentarily (Chiefs fans?  We're sitting pretty right now ... especially if two games break our way Sunday ... and I predict both will.  And not only that, neither prediction is really, truly an upset).  But this one is huge.  Or, more appropriately, (mike francesa voice) hu-yuge.

The winner is in tremendous shape to have home-field advantage (especially if the winner is the Patriots).  The loser is still in great shape for their division and the playoffs (as you'll see momentarily), but if the loser is denver?  The Chiefs would control their own destiny, for the playoffs, and would be one Pats loss away, from controlling their own destiny, for home field advantage throughout the postseason.

And yes, it's that Chiefs team, that lost 26-10 to the atrocious Titans, I am referencing.

The pick?

* at Patriots (+3) 38, broncos 35, in an overtime classic that reminds us all why we love this game so damned much.

The American Football Conference Situation:

At this point, it's fairly safe to say, nothing is set in stone.

Here's the relevant contenders at this point:


You think the Patriots are home free?  Their next two are against denver and Indy, and they still have to travel to San Diego in December.

You think the donkeys are home free?  Their next three are on the road (including at the Patriots tomorrow), and they still have to travel to Kansas City, San Diego, AND Cincinnati (on a Monday night, no less) in the last five weeks of the season.

You think the Chargers are in solid shape?  They have a test in Miami this week (that, given their last five, I'd argue is almost must-win), because their last five?

at Ravens / vs Patriots (SNF) / vs broncos / at 49ers / at Chiefs.

Yikes.  You find three wins in there -- which is the barest minimum they're gonna need, if they lose on Sunday, to be ensured of at least one of the two wildcards.

Every playoff contender has flaws ... and all of them have at least three brutal games left.

Having said that ...

If you're a golf fan, you know Saturday at a Major Championship is known as "Moving Day".  You've eliminated half the field overnight with the cut line.  Usually that means every golfer left on the course, is within ten shots of the lead (and usually, it's closer than ten shots).

Saturday is the day, the contenders emerge, and the pretenders from the opening half of the tournament begin to fade.

November in the NFL, is like Moving Day in golf.  Is this the month the Browns, Texans, Bills, and Dolphins begin to fade under the pressure, while the Chiefs, Patriots, Colts, and Bengals rise up?

Is this the month the Steelers prove they can beat a team with defense, and the Ravens prove they can beat a team by outscoring them in a shootout?

I don't know the answer to those questions ... but I'm ready to find out.

Chiefs Fans Rooting Interests for This Week's Games:

* root FOR the Patriots to beat the broncos.  A Patriots win (coupled with the expected outcome at Arrowhead), means if the Chiefs keep winning, nothing the broncos do can prevent November 30th from being the likely deciding game, for the AFC West Championship.

* root FOR the Ravens to beat the Steelers.  I should note, a Steelers loss isn't going to damage the Chiefs at all -- we still play the Steelers in Week Sixteen, so we control our fate against them.  But a Ravens win would give the Steelers four losses, and make that Week Sixteen matchup more important for them, than us, at this point.

* root FOR the Dolphins to beat the Chargers.  Not only because the Chiefs hold tiebreaker over Miami, but scroll back up and look at those last five for San Diego.  A loss here gives them loss numero cuatro.  They'd have to go 3-2 against that murderer's row, which means winning at least one on the road against Baltimore, San Fran, or KC (as well as sweeping denver and New England at home).  The Chargers could be rendered irrelevant in December, by 4pm Sunday.

* root FOR happy outcomes in other contests.  If the Jags want to beat the Bengals, if the Giants want to beat the Colts, if the Eagles want to beat the Texans, if the Bucs want to beat the Browns?  Spectacular!  But there's only one of those outcomes I'd wager on, and I'd only wager on it because Tom Coughlin's had two weeks and a day to prepare for it, and the Giants need this one badly.

The Jets / Chiefs Prognostication (With No Rambling Commentary):

* at Chiefs (-10) 27, Jets 7.  2005 Week One Memorial Score.

I hope to get my thoughts on the team across the parking lot, up early next week.  I'll just say this until then: thank you, Royals.  Thank you, for one of -- if not the -- most magical, amazing, joyful, fulfilling, tear-inducing, high-five slapping, pure pleasurable months, of my life.

Thank you for every stolen base, for every Moose Dong, for every heart-stopping moment, for every tear-inducing moment.

Thank you for new usage to the words "Ace Ventura".

Thank you for making HDH a performance enhancing drug.

Thank you for not just justifying both "The Trade"'s ... but making them worth it.  So bleeping worth it.

Thank you for every amazing catch, every epic throw, every dive into the bag.

And no matter how much it hurts still, thank you for Wednesday.  Thank you for giving me the desire to listen to "St. Elmo's Fire" non-stop for eight straight hours at work on Wednesday, for me emailing "The Voice of Reason" to note how ridiculous that was, and for his only response to be "Man in Motion!"  (Folks?  Mr. Reason does not know his 80s music.  Even he knew "Man in Motion", that's how epic this last month has been, in the KC Metropolitan area.)

Thank you for not one, but two, "holy fucking shit!" blasts to left field, with the season on the line.  The latter by Alex Gordon, off the untouchable Madison Bumgarner, that damned near led to the single greatest bottom of the ninth run in baseball history.

The first?

I suppose that's what I'm most thankful for.

Thank you for this.  For every goddamned minute, of this.  And for every goddamned minute of baseball heaven, that allowed to happen.

And thank you, that four and a half weeks later, I still can't read the open?

Without openly crying.

Hell, I can't even type the link in, without shedding six tears.

(Or is that six beers?)

(chess player voice) Your move, Chiefs.

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