Real and spectacular Week 6 picks
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 14, 2010
The Cold, Hard Football real and spectacular picks climbed back up into their winning pigskin pumpkin in Week 5, halting a one-week skid during which our attentions were obviously diverted by some very large jugs.
Last week we blamed our dismal Week 4 performance on the fact we were boozing and staring at boobies in Germany. We spent Week 5 humbled and closer to home.
In fact, to prove we were sober and humbled, the Chief Troll attempted to race down the Damariscotta River in Maine in a very, very large hollowed-out pumpkin with an outboard motor attached.
If you look closely, that's the Chubby One with the camouflaged cap, as the people on the dock tend to his badly overburdened gourd. Hell, we've seen Cuban boat people wash up on Florida's coast in more seaworthy vessels.
Needless to say, Captain Pigskin didn't make it very far from the dock. You might even say that he was one Buffalo wing shy of sinking that f'in thing in front of 5,000 people. But thanks to his pioneering spirit, the Pumpkin Regatta now has a firm 255-pound weight limit on captains.
Needless to say, it was a better week once we got off the high seas and back into the cozy confines of our cardboard box. We went 9-5 straight up and 8-6 against the spread. It was actually quite an impressive performance to emerge from upset Sunday with that kind of result. Perceived heavyweights like San Diego and New Orleans suffered shocking defeats in Week 5, wiping out a whole lot of death-pool combatants along the way.
So we missed out on those games. But we were absolutely brilliant in the week's marquee games: Who else had Tennessee winning outright on the road against the desperate touchdown-favorite Cowboys?
In fact, we did a Texas upset two-step last week: we told you the Giants would win outright on the road against 3.5-point favorite Houston, too. We also nailed the big primetime games – though we do feel guilty taking credit for the outcome of the Vikings-Jets game. Everybody knew that BrettFavre would kill his team with costly mistakes.
Well, everybody but the gang of BrettFavre sycophants at ESPN.
Well, everybody but the gang of BrettFavre sycophants at ESPN.
And, finally, as noted on Monday, we had another killer week picking outright victories by road puppies. It's a gift, really.
Here's our week-by-week performance in 2010:
Here's our week-by-week performance in 2010:
Week 1: 8-7 straight; 7-6 ATS
Week 2: 10-6 straight, 7-8 ATS
Week 3: 11-5 straight, 12-4 ATS
Week 4: 8-6 straight, 5-9 ATS
Week 5: 9-5 straight, 8-6 ATS
Year to date: 46-29 straight (.613), 39-33 ATS (.542)
Hell, we're so excited to be back on track it reminds us of the time we almost lost our virginity on our 16th birthday. Twenty-four years later ... still waitin'.
show video here
As always, remember that Uncle CHFF has been very good to you over the long haul. We've suffered just five losing weeks ATS in 22 opportunities since the start of the 2009 season. And we don't pick and choose our spots, folks. We pick every game every week.
Miami at Green Bay (n/a)
The wise guys took this game off the board because of a pigskin pandemic that has left the Packers crippled by injuries.
Most important is that Green Bay's historically proficient quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a wounded cheeseman. He has practiced this week and has been cleared to play. But it's still iffy. And he's only the biggest name on a long list of injured players that includes defensive stalwarts like Nick Barnett and Clay Matthews.
If Rodgers can't go, the starting job will be in the hands of Matt Flynn. The good news is that Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel called Flynn the best back QB up in football. The bad news is that McGinn was tripping worse than Wavy Gravy on brown acid when he made that claim.
Flynn, for his part, has attempted 17 passes in the pros, completing nine with 1 pick and a 37.4 passer rating. We're not rocket scientists here. But we're guessing the drop-off could be substantial if he actually has to play.
We're guessing Rodgers plays. But even then, the Packers have problems. They're losing players faster than the Grateful Dead loses keyboardists. And they're 1-2 in their last three games, with the lone victory a narrow 28-26 win at home over the lowly Lions.
But the Dolphins don't scare anybody. They're merely average in the critical passing wars (18th in Passer Rating Differential). Interestingly, Miami is 2-0 on the road and 0-2 at home. But that streak should end Sunday, assuming Rodgers plays.
Green Bay 24, Miami 20
San Diego (-8.5) at St. Louis
Maybe we're gluttons for punishment. But we're going to ride the hugely underachieving Chargers to win big one more time.
San Diego is easily a far more talented and statistically prolific team, and it took a colossal meltdown on special teams and in the turnover battle for the Chargers to find a way to lose last week at Oakland.
Here's saying that lightning doesn't strike twice.
San Diego 28, St. Louis 16
Baltimore at New England (-3.5)
This is our Game of the Week at Sports Illustrated.com.
New England 21, Baltimore 20
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-14.5)
You know the story. Big Ben returns after The Gridiron Godfather had banished him from the family olive oil business for four weeks.
"I have a sentimental weakness for my children and I spoil them, as you can see," the Gridiron Godfather was overheard saying as he reduced Sonny Roethlisberger's sentence from six games to four.
The difference is huge as it relates to Big Ben's ability to ease back into the game: had he served the full six games, he would have returned during a Monday night showdown on the road in a raucous dome against the defending champ Saints.
Instead, he gets a cozy home game against Cleveland, the Fredo Corleone of the NFL family.
You know the story. Cleveland sucks. Cleveland sucks. The Browns are 1-4 and do little well. Running back Peyton Hillis has been a nice little story here in 2010. But in Pittsburgh, Hillis faces the league's No. 2 Defensive Hogs and the NFL's best run defense.
In fact, the Steelers allow a humble 2.62 YPA through four games. We realize there's a long way to go. But that does put Pittsburgh on pace to field the stingiest run defense in the Super Bowl Era. (The current record of 2.69 YPA is held by the legendary 2000 Ravens.)
We have faith that proven winner Roethlisberger will ease his way back into game shape Sunday – with a big assist from one of the league's worst pass defenses. Cleveland ranks 27th in Defensive Passer Rating (96.7).
Welcome back to the family. Don't stop and pay the tolls.
Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 17
Kansas City at Houston (-4.5)
We've been dead on with the Texans every game this year. We picked them to beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in Week 1, even though they had gone 1-15 against Indy in the previous eight seasons.
We told you they'd win at Washington in Week 2. Just when the bandwagon was getting crowded, and the 2-0 Texans were 3.5-point favorites at home vs. Dallas, we grabbed our wash tub bass and told you to hop off the bus. The Texans lost.
Then we told you they'd beat Oakland 30-24 in Week 4. They beat Oakland 31-24 in Week 4.
And, of course, we told you to hop back off the bandwagon again last week, and that the favored Texans would lose at home to the unpredictable Giants. The favored Texans lost at home to the unpredictable Giants. That's a pretty damn good track record if you ask us.
With all that said, this is the first time all year we don't feel sure about Houston one way or the other.
As was the case last week vs. the Giants, Houston's proficient ground game faces a huge challenge from the Chiefs: they're No. 7 in our Defensive Hog Index, and No. 3 against the run (3.19 YPA). But New York's defense was very, very good at forcing Negative Pass Plays.
Kansas City's defense is not. In fact, they're No 25 at forcing Negative Pass Plays (7.27%).
On the other side of the ball, Houston's defense is an embarrassment, with a 103.8 Defensive Passer Rating. But Matt Cassel is not equipped to fully exploit that defense: he's posted a humble 74.0 passer rating this year.
Houston 23, Kansas City 20
Detroit at N.Y. Giants (-10.5)
The Lions scored a season's worth of points and won a season's worth of games with their 44-6 victory over the Rams last week.
The Giants, meanwhile, remain the most volatile team in football, and an anomalous club during a season otherwise defined by narrow games. Here's how New York's season has unfolded:
13-point home win in Week 1 vs. lousy Carolina
24-point road loss in Week 2 vs. struggling Colts
19-point home loss in Week 3 vs. up-and-down Titans
14-point home win in Week 4 vs. previously unbeaten Bears.
24-point road win in Week 5 vs. favored Houston
The Giants are a great team at the top of their game; but a bad team when they don't bring their A game. The Lions, meanwhile, are just bad.
We say the trends continue: the Giants are involved in a yawner and the Lions turn back into lovable losers. Hey, they avenged their 2009 loss to the 1-15 Rams last week. Certainly, they're emotionally spent after the big win.
N.Y. Giants 28, Detroit 17
Atlanta at Philadelphia (-3.5)
The Falcons have quietly become one of the league's best teams. At 4-1, they share the league's best record, they boast a tough road win at New Orleans, and they haven't loss since Week 1 at Pittsburgh and they're one of two teams in the NFC (Washington is the other) with a winning record vs. Quality Opponents (2-1).
They're also No. 3 on the Offensive Hog Index, No. 4 in Bendabilty, No. 7 at forcing Negative Pass Plays and No. 8 in Passer Rating Differential, the Quality Stat with the highest correlation to victory.
Oh, and Atlanta is the top team from the senior circuit in our Power Rankings.
The Eagles remain a formidable team in their own right. In fact, they're No. 2 in that critical Passer Rating Differential indicator. But it's obvious the Eagles are two different teams statistically with Michael Vick at quarterback (108.8 passer rating) and Kevin Kolb at quarterback (84.2 passer rating).
So that No. 2 ranking is a bit deceiving, especially as it looks like Philly will trot Kolb back out under center again, as Vick has still been sidelined this week. Kolb didn't cost them last week at winless San Francisco. In fact, he played quite well (21 of 31, 253 yards, 1 TD 0 INT).
But the Falcons are a much tougher opponent. And, curiously, the Eagles are 3-0 on the road this year and 0-2 at home. Of course, they've played tough opponents at home (Green Bay, Washington).
Atlanta 23, Philadelphia 20
Seattle at Chicago (-7.5)
Chicago QB Jay Cutler's head has been rattled so often he's got shell shock. Do you think his concussions have something to do with the fact that the Bears are dead last on our Offensive Hog Index and dead last in Negative Pass Plays (18.47%).
Olin and the boys need to do a better job, or they're going to get somebody killed. At the very least, somebody's going to shoot an eye out.
Cutler came out of the gates on fire this season (649 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT in two games). But he fell back to earth against the Packers and Giants.
He then picked the right week to get a concussion: the Bears easily handled the awful Panthers last week, despite an embarrassing effort from Cutler's replacement, Todd Collins (a record -432.6 passer rating).
Cutler is apparently ready to play this week against the volatile Seahawks (two big wins at home, two bad losses on the road).
Seattle is an incredibly ordinary team: 2-2, 75 points scored, 77 points allowed, fairly mediocre in almost all our Quality Stats, and the only team in football that hasn't played a single Quality Opponent through Week 5.
Chicago has a very good pass defense (No. 4 in Defensive Passer Rating) and a very good defensive front (No. 5 on our Defensive Hog Index).
Those rankings are bad news for the 'Hawks: Seattle has trouble protecting Matt Hasselbeck (No. 23 in Negative Pass Plays), and the quarterback has been a shadow of his former Pro Bowl self (awful 70.7 passer rating, 4 TD, 6 INT).
It all adds up to a long day for the Seahawks, who have been outscored 51-17 on the road this year against the Broncos and, ouch, the Rams.
Chicago 28, Seattle 17
Oakland at San Francisco (-6.5)
Wow, folks must love Mike Singletary. The team's 0-5, but they're touchdown favorites in the Bay Bowl.
This is a meeting of two of the worst teams in football when it comes to winning the critical passing wars, but it's a rare game in which San Francisco has even the slightest statistical advantage over somebody in something:
The 49ers are No. 30 in Passer Rating Differential (-25.67)
The Raiders are No. 31 in Passer Rating Differential (-27.91)
The difference in this game is that Frank Gore and San Francisco's struggling ground game (3.70 YPA, 25th) will find some success against the league's worst run defense (4.99 YPA) and win for the first time.
San Francisco 24, Oakland 20
New Orleans (-4.5) at Tampa Bay
Who knew in Week 1 that Saints-Bucs would be a critical mid-season battle in a very tough NFC South? Pas moi, mon amie.
The 3-2 defending Super Bowl champ Saints find themselves in third place right now in the division, ahead of only the lowly winless Panthers. The 3-1 Bucs are trying to keep pace with the 4-1 Falcons.
Short but sweet here? Tampa has been one of the best teams in the league when it comes time to win the critical passing battles: No. 3 in Passer Rating Differential at an impressive +21.48.
The Saints dominated that all-important indicator during their championships season in 2009. But they're a mere +12.24 (10th) here in 2010, despite the fact that Drew Brees is having a very effective season (95.7 rating).
The problem is that the defense simply isn't making the big plays that it produced so often, and in key moments, last year. They've fallen from No. 3 in Defensive Passer Rating to No. 20.
The Bucs, meanwhile, present a formidable defensive foe for a Saints offense that has yet to find its groove: No. 2 in Defensive Passer Rating (65.1). Tampa struggles to stop the run: 4.94 YPA (31st). But that weakness should not cost them Sunday: the Saints are 30th running the ball: (3.26 YPA).
Tampa Bay 23, New Orleans 21
N.Y. Jets (-3.5) at Denver
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez struggled last week against a decent Minnesota pass defense (3 TD passes allowed in 2010).
The Broncos represent a much more inviting opportunity: No. 26 in Defensive Passer Rating (93.01), 8 TDs allowed, 3 INT. Even worse: with the exception of Peyton Manning (a 27-13 Indy win) the Broncos have not faced a particularly impressive collection of quarterbacks.
The best thing Denver has going for them is quarterback Kyle Orton (and who besides CHFF saw that coming when the Broncos traded for him in 2009?). The Horseshoe is no longer the lovable little game manager. He's now in the midst of an incredibly prolific display of passing, with 1,733 yards in five games – an astonishing 346.6 YPG that puts him on pace to pass for a ridiculous 5,566 yards this year.
The Jets, meanwhile, have not displayed the same shutdown pass defense they fielded last year. In fact, they're fairly pedestrian at No. 12 in Defensive Passer Rating (78.73) and have allowed nine TD passes in five games. The J-Men surrendered just eight TD passes in all of 2009.
The difference here will be the ability of the Jets to counter Denver's prolific passing output and slow the pace of the game behind the league's No. 2 Offensive Hogs and third-best ground game (5.07 YPA). Denver tries to meet that onslaught with the No. 31 Defensive Hogs and the run defense that ranks 22nd (4.39 YPA).
The Jets will give up plenty of yards but hold on for the victory.
N.Y. Jets 27, Denver 26
Dallas at Minnesota (-1.5)
Ahh, the Desperation Bowl. This should be entertaining: the most poorly coached team in football against the most poorly quarterbacked team in football.
Something's gotta give.
Here's what will give: BrettFavre. It's just what he is now. He's old. He's wounded. He's a watered-down version of a regular gunslinger. He's not a good QB. And he'll keep costing the Vikings until they get the sense to pull the plug.
The Cowboys are so poorly managed and so inefficient they're a joke, as we've reported several times this year. But at least they get productivity out of their quarterback. And in the NFL, that productivity eventually tips things in your favor, especially when it's the big difference between two highly flawed teams.
Dallas 23, Minnesota 20
Indianapolis (-3.5) at Washington
Donovan McNabb and the Redskins are not only 3-2, surprising most "pundits" (though not us). They're 3-2 after McNabb has engaged in one big-name QB duel after another this season: Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Sam Bradford and Aaron Rodgers. We'd count Michael Vick on the list, too. But he was injured in the first quarter of Washington's 17-12 Week 4 win at Philadelphia.
Now comes the ultimate showdown against the Chosen One himself.
We expect plenty of fireworks. Peyton Manning's track record speaks for itself, while McNabb has morphed into the role of savvy veteran who makes plays to win games and doesn't make mistakes to lose games.
McNabb can beat you on a day when he passes for 125 yards (as he did in the win over Philly) or turn it up a notch when needed and beat you on day when the ground game struggles (51 yards), as it did last week against Green Bay, and he passes for 357 yards. McNabb's three picks in 170 attempts (1.8%), meanwhile is fairly consistent with the record care he's taken of the football. McNabb's great ability to avoid mistakes has been largely overlooked for much of his career.
Both teams play poor pass defense: the Redskins are No. 22 in Defensive Passer Rating (87.95) and the Colts are No. 23 (88.3). So both quarterbacks should have big days in a potential shootout.
Washington will run the ball better than Indy on Sunday, keeping things tight. But Manning has better aim in this gunfight.
Indianapolis 28, Washington 27
Tennessee (-3.5) at Jacksonville
When we looked at this game on the schedule back in August, we yawned. But maybe we should stop drinking at lunch.
In any case, whatever our first reaction, Titans-Jaguars is suddenly a fascinating contest in a division that boasts four teams with winning records through Week 5. We can only assume that this is an unprecedented feat (someone will surely email us a correction if we're wrong).
Meanwhile, division mates Houston and Indy are both solid favorites this week. So both the Jags and the, ahh, what's short for Titans, the Tits(?), will be desperate to keep pace in a foursome in which 3-3 might spell last place on Tuesday.
So both teams are 3-2. But not all 3-2 records are created equally.
The Jaguars do boast a signature win over Indy. But they were also smoked like a Churchill Robusto by the Chargers and Eagles in consecutive weeks. They're kind of a bumbling 3-2: No. 13 in scoring offense (21.4 PPG) and No. 30 in scoring defense (27.4 PPG).
The Titans have won tough road games impressively over Glamour Division foes Giants and Cowboys and have the statistical appearance of a more legit 3-2: No. 5 in scoring offense (26.4 PPG) and No. 10 in scoring defense (19.0 PPG).
Tennessee is also a solid +10.9 (11th) in the all-important Passer Rating Differential indicator; Jacksonville is a very poor -20.23 (26th). The Jaguars and their 25th-ranked Defensive Hogs are also poor against the run (4.43 YPA, 23rd) – not a good sign against Chris Johnson and the NFL's No. 7 ground game (4.58 YPA).
The Titans will overcome the noise and excitement caused by Jacksonville's three loyal fans and keep pace in the tough AFC South.
Tennessee 26, Jacksonville 20
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