Real and spectacular Week 4 picks!
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 01, 2009
Gruss Gott from Bavaria! The Chief Executive Troll is foregoing football this weekend to spend some quality time with 200,000 of his best Bavarian drinking buddies at Oktoberfest in Munich.
So if this week's real and spectacular picks seem a little foggy, it was just the liters of lager talking.
Last time we sent in picks from another town, down in Auburn two weeks ago, it was a disaster: 8-8 straight up and an embarrassing 5-11 ATS.
But we rebounded last week, with a sexy 11-5 mark straight up and 10-6 ATS.
For the year, we are now 32-16 straight up and 25-23 ATS.
Detroit at Chicago (-9.5)
Lost amid the celebration of Detroit's victory over Washington last week was another pretty poor performance by the pass defense. Redskins QB Jason Campbell put up some pretty big numbers (at least by his standards), even though his team put only 14 points on the board.
Bears QB Jay Cutler will have another big day, putting that Week 1 fiasco even further in the rear view mirror, as the Bears pull off a two-score victory.
Chicago 30, Detroit 17
Cincinnati (-5.5) at Cleveland
O.K., we realize the Bengals are on something of a roll here – 6-4-1 in their last 11 games, and 2-1 this year, with the only loss something of a classic Bungles disaster against Denver in Week 1. We also realize that Eric Mangini and the Browns are mired in more controversy than ACORN.
But 5.5 points seems a bit too rich for a visiting club that still has a lot of question marks. The Bungles win, but not by the generous margin the pigskin public believes.
Cincinnati 24, Cleveland 20
Oakland at Houston (-9.5)
Oakland's problems are well documented here and elsewhere – the insipid 4.33 yards per pass attempt pretty much say it all. But last we saw, the Texans were coming of a loss at home to winless Jacksonville.
The shocking news of the week is that the Raiders are fairly decent on pass defense, 79.04 in Defensive Passer Rating, good enough for 12th in the NFL. So Matt Schaub and the gang will not find any pushovers in the Oakland defense.
We'd bet our last liter of Paulaner Festbier that the Texans win the game. But winning by double digits is a riskier gamble than unprotected sex in an eastern European whorehouse. Believe us ... we're experts.
Houston 21, Oakland 14
Seattle at Indy (-8.5)
We talked yesterday about Peyton Manning's historic explosion of passing effectiveness here in the early stages of 2009.
But it's easy to overlook the fact that this team is pretty good in a number of different areas. Mainly, the Colts are No. 6 in Defensive Passer Rating (66.7) – that combination of superior passing and solid pass defense is almost always a winner, and it's a big winner this week against a team that is not nearly as good in either indicator.
Indianapolis 31, Seattle 17
Tennessee (-2.5) at Jacksonville
If this was 2008, and the Titans were the 13-3 Titans of 2008, we could see favoring them on the road at Jacksonville.
But these are the 0-3 Titans of 2009 and they look lost they need GPS just to find the showers after practice, especially with a pass defense that's fallen off the face of the Earth. The Titans were No. 3 in Defensive Passer Rating last year (69.2). They're 28th this year (100.7).
The Jaguars have just enough on offense in a field-goal filled affair to hold off the Titans, who fall to 0-4 while the Curse of 13 continues.
Jacksonville 19, Tennessee 16
N.Y. Giants (-8.5) at Kansas City
Even the Raiders won by three in Kansas City. So it's easy to envision scenario in which the powerful Giants, No. 1 in our Power Rankings, cruise to a two-score win over the Chiefs.
New York has just about everything going for it in the battle of our Quality Stats. Kansas City has nothing going for it. The the Giants win big.
N.Y. Giants 27, Kansas City 6
Baltimore at New England (-1.5)
The Patriots are favored by virtue of home cooking and reputations. But the Ravens are the better team by most any practical measure in our Quality Stats and by the eyeball test.
For the sixth time this year – and every one has hit – we pick a road dog to win outright.
Baltimore 23, New England 20
Tampa Bay at Washington (-6.5)
O.K., Trolls, explain this to us: the Redskins barely slipped past a very, very bad Rams team, 9-7, two weeks ago. The Redskins then lost to Detroit, bringing home to D.C. the honor of being the team that felt mercy and ended the brutal 19-game skid of the Lions.
And now suddenly they're 6.5-point favorites. We understand the Bucs have more issues than National Geographic. But we they're not 6.5 points worse than Washington.
Washington 17, Tampa Bay 14
Buffalo (-1.5) at Miami
As noted on our radio show and elsewhere this week, Chad Pennington should return to the NFL next year with the word "Fragile" on the back of his jersey. It's too bad. We like Chad. And his teams are historically better when he's in the line-up.
So Miami will have problems on offense. The winless Dolphins also have problems on defense, namely a Defensive Passer rating of nearly 112. Ouch.
Buffalo rebounds from the loss to New Orleans, beats the Dolphins in Miami and, at 2-2, suddenly finds itself in a tie for second place in the AFC East with the Patriots, who will lose to Baltimore.
Buffalo 23, Miami 17
N.Y. Jets at New Orleans (-6.5)
We talked about this statistical bloodbath on Boston's WEEI.com this week. Here's a snippet:
"This game didn't look like much when the schedules came out back in the spring. It looks like a true test of manhood here in the early days of October. The Saints enter the game with what is easily one of the great prolific passing attacks in football. Thanks to Drew Brees, New Orleans leads the NFL with a 118.1 offensive passer rating — just a shade of ahead of Peyton Manning and the Colts (117.7). The Jets, however, enter the street fight with their own statistical switchblade: a Rex Ryan-fueled unit that boasts a stifling 50.2 Defensive Passer Rating."
Those words pretty much sum it up. The Jets have the tools to take some of the power out of the Brees aerial assault, but not enough fuel to pull out the win on the road.
New Orleans 24, N.Y. Jets 21
Dallas (-2.5) at Denver
In what fantasy land is a 2-1 team with a questionable defense a 2.5-point favorite on the road against an unbeaten team with what is, so far, the best all-around defense in football?
Certainly not in our own little Bavarian fantasy land big beers and big bosoms.
Sure, the Broncos have fattened the defensive stats against a series of sub-par offenses. But the Cowboys haven't exactly covered themselves in glory, either. The 21-7 win over the Panthers was unimpressive, as the offense put just 13 points on the board against a team that committed three turnovers.
They'll find it much tougher to put points on the board against Denver, while Kyle the Horseshoe Orton continues to harvest enough lucky bounces on offense for the Broncos to pull out the home victory.
Key stat: the Broncos are fourth in the NFL in Passer Rating Differential. Dallas is just 19th.
Denver 21, Dallas 20
St. Louis at San Francisco (-9.5)
Before the start of the season we said hopes in St. Louis hung on the ability of coach Steve Spanguolo to build a good group of Defensive Hogs with his young core of talent at the position. So far it's not working. The Rams rank just 25th in our Defensive Hog Index. That's not winning football.
Frank Gore looks like he'll miss his chance to pad his stats against this struggling defensive front, but Shaun Hill and the gang have enough juice to put away this dreadful St. Louis team and its dreadful offense.
San Francisco 27, St. Louis 13
San Diego at Pittsburgh (-6.5)
We love the Steelers. But they have very serious issues this year, especially where you'd least expect it – on defense. They're 17th on our Defensive Hog Index and 18th in Defensive Passer Rating.
San Diego, meanwhile, is playing well on defense. For example, they're a very solid seventh in Defensive Passer Rating.
Big Ben pulls out some magic and the Steelers win at home. But it's much closer than a touchdown.
Pittsburgh 24, San Diego 23
Green Bay at Minnesota (-3.5)
Here's a pop quiz for ya: who boasts the higher passer rating this season and the higher average per attempt, Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre, the guy who invented football at Southern Mississippi in 1991 and caused the NFL Network's Scott Hanson to orgasm live on national television last week?
If you said the orgasm machine Favre, you lost!
Rodgers wins the rating battle (97.2 to 94.5) and cruises to an easy win in the YPA battle (7.9 to 6.0).
The Packers enjoy a solid advantage in Passer Rating Differential, too, because they're also playing well on pass defense (fifth in Defensive Passer Rating).
The Packers walk into Minnesota and spoil the day – another victory for a road dog – forcing Scott Hanson to spend some quality time alone in the bathroom Sunday.
Green Bay 27, Minnesota 26
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