Week 7 real and spectacular picks
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 22, 2010
Babe Ruth batted .290 in 1925. Peyton Manning threw four picks in the 2003 AFC title game. And Elvis sang "In the Ghetto."
Well, like all the greats of before, whether on the gridiron or otherwise, the mighty, mighty Cold, Hard Football Facts have hit something of a dry spell recently. Here's the weekly performance of our real and spectacular Picks 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, 7-7 ATS*
Week 6: 8-6 straight; 4-10 ATS
Year to date: 54-35 straight (.607), 42-44 ATS (.488)
* originally reported as 8-6 ATS
Yes, not so hot. But the long-term trends are still very, very strong, our flabby brother Troll: just six losing weeks ATS in 23 opportunities since the start of the 2009 season. That's pretty damn good in a very exacting art form. In fact, here's our weekly effort last year, too.
2009 real and spectacular picks ATS
Week 1: 10-6
2009 total ATS: 144-111 (.565).
It all adds up to an impressive 2009-10 total ATS of 186-155 (.545). So stickwith old Uncle CHFF and we'll continue to treat you well.
Cincinnati at Atlanta (-3.5)
How is that high-profile receiving tandem working out for you this year, Cincy?
Let's see: Chad Ochocinco has 1.5 million Twitter followers and 1 touchdown reception this year. Terrell Owens has 600,000 Twitter followers and 2 TD receptions.
We'd say it's not working very well. Back-to-back losses to Cleveland and Tampa before the bye week say it's not working very well, too.
Atlanta, meanwhile, was lit up by Philadelphia last week – but the Eagles boasted an elite passing attack (No. 2 in the NFL with a 103.3 Offensive Passer Rating).
Cincy's passing attack is way down near the bottom of the league (78.26 Offensive Passer Rating). Gee, and some people not called the Cold, Hard Football Facts might tell you that a pair of high-profile receivers would make a big difference in the effectiveness of the passing game. It has not.
It's hard to see the Bengals moving the ball effectively against the league's No. 5 scoring defense (16.8 PPG).
Atlanta 23, Cincinnati 17
Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Miami
We'll make this very simple: Miami is not very good on offense (17.8 PPG, 24th); Pittsburgh is very good on defense (12.0 PPG, 1st).
Most curiously, the Dolphins are 3-0 on the road this year (Bills, Vikings, Packers); 0-2 at home (granted, losses to the very good Jets and Patriots).
The Steelers will easily make it 0-3 at home for the 'Fins, who will find it extraordinarily difficult to move the ball on offense or contain Ben Roethlisberger on defense (257 yards, 3 TD in his first game back last week).
Pittsburgh 23, Miami 10
Buffalo at Baltimore (-13.5)
The good news is that the Bills haven't lost in two weeks. The bad news is that they haven't played in two weeks.
In the "Troll bites Buffalo wing" category of breaking news, the Bills are really, really, really bad, folks. They're dead last in scoring defense (32.2 PPG), dead last in point differential (-74), dead last in Bendability (11.88 YPPA), dead last on the Defensive Hog Index, dead last at forcing Negative Pass Plays (4.93%), dead last in Defensive Passer Rating (114.8) and dead last in interceptions (1).
The Ravens have proven to have explosive games within them: eight 14-point-plus wins in their 24 games since the start of 2009. And Buffalo is clearly vulnerable in so many ways. They've suffered seven 14-point-plus defeats since the start of 2009.
This sounds like another one.
Baltimore 30, Buffalo 14
Jacksonville at Kansas City (-4.5)
The Chiefs were the NFL's Big Story of the Year in September, after their 3-0 start. They've been a big dud here in October, with back to back losses to the Colts and Texans.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, are 3-3, but their defense is a very, very inviting target. Since a Week 1 win over Denver, Jacksonville has surrendered 38, 28, 28, 26 (to the Bills) and 30 points in consecutive weeks. You don't even need our beer-bottle cap abacus to know that those Cold, Hard Football Facts are not good.
Jacksonville is also struggling to pass well on offense – which is why the Jags are dead last in Passer Rating Differential (-32.47). The Chiefs are a middling 17th on the indicator (+0.25).
Even worse for the Jags? Jacksonville is so banged up at quarterback Jack Del Rio may have to suit up and take snaps this week. Hey, as long as he's not calling the plays, how bad can it be?
Here's what we expect: Matt Cassel will have plenty of time in the pocket against Jacksonville poor pass rush and poor Defensive Hogs (28th), while being protected by Kansas City's No. 4 Offensive Hogs and a unit that's second only to Indianapolis when it comes to avoiding Negative Pass Plays (5.04%).
Kansas City 26, Jacksonville 17
Cleveland at New Orleans (-13.5)
The Saints are finally getting their swerve, after hanging 31 points over what appeared to be a solid Tampa club. Of course, they were smoked 30-20 in Arizona a week earlier.
Swerve is such a fickle bitch.
The biggest problem in New Orleans right now is consistency, or lack thereof. You just don't know what you're going to get from week to week, and three of the four wins have been narrow victories over bad teams (five over the Vikings, three over the 49ers, two over the Panthers).
The Browns are not good and can't move the ball (14.7 PPG, 31st). But last week's 28-10 loss to Pittsburgh was Cleveland's first two-touchdown-plus loss in 13 weeks.
New Orleans 27, Cleveland 17
Washington at Chicago (-3.5)
Jay Cutler, as we've noted this week and several times this year, is going to get killed out there behind the worst Offensive Hogs in the biz.
Washington, however, is not equipped to exploit that weakness: 24 teams boast better Defensive Hogs than the 'Skins, and only three teams are worse at pressuring the quarterback. Washington forces a Negative Pass Play on just 6.16 percent of dropbacks.
Chicago will find some success on the ground, easing the pressure on Cutler and paving the way to victory. The Bears, meanwhile, quietly field one of the league's best defenses: third in scoring (16.2 PPG).
Chicago 20, Washington 17
San Francisco (-3.5) at Carolina
The Bills do not play either of these clubs this year, so 49ers-Panthers is officially the worst game of the year: San Francisco is 1-5 and No. 30 in our Power Rankings; Carolina is 0-5 and No. 31 in our Power Rankings.
If you love inept offenses, this is your game: the 49ers are 30th in scoring offense (15.5 PPG); the Panthers are dead last in scoring (10.4 PPG).
If Carolina is going to win a game this year, this is the one: at home against a poor team with a lousy offense traveling from coast to coast. But look for San Francisco to weakly limp over the finish line ahead of the piss-poor Panthers
San Francisco 3, Carolina 2
St. Louis at Tampa Bay (-2.5)
O.K., let's get this straight: the Rams beat the Redskins by 14, the Seahawks by 17 and last week shocked the statistical juggernaut Chargers by three. In between, the Lions destroyed St. Louis by 41 points.
O.K., we don't get it either.
So consistency is not their buddy. But one thing the Rams do have going for them, with the exception of the no-show disaster/mulligan against the Lions, is a consistently good defense: in their five other games, St. Louis has surrendered 17, 16, 16, 3 and 17 points.
It all adds up to a long day for the struggling Tampa offense: they're 29th in scoring offense (16.0 PPG) and have topped 20 points just once all year, at home against Cincinnati.
The Rams have not won on the road this year (0-2), but we like St. Louis to find some success on the ground against Tampa's dead-last defense against the run (5.3 YPA), easing the pressure on a struggling Sam Bradford in a low-scoring yawner from the NFC.
St. Louis 13, Tampa Bay 10
Philadelphia at Tennessee (-3.5)
This huge inter-conference showdown between Super Bowl hopefuls is our Game of the Week at Sports Illustrated.com.
Tennessee 24, Philadelphia 21
Arizona at Seattle (-5.5)
If the NFL thinks it has a problem with helmet-to-helmet hits, maybe it should look at the problems with its consistently awful NFC schedules: Cardinals-Seahawks is the last in a trio of non-descript games among bad to middling NFC teams that seem to arise with great frequency in the senior circuit in recent years.
You know the basic story out of Seattle: Pete Carroll's Seahawks are very Pumped 'n Jacked in home games (2-0, 58 PF, 26 PA). They're not so Pumped 'n Jacked on the road (1-2; 40 PF, 71 PA).
The Cardinals suffer a similar fate: 2-0 at home (54 PF, 43 PA) and 1-2 on the road (34 PF, 95 PA).
We think the obvious thing in this instance is just to ride the trends and look for Seattle to roll at home.
Seattle 27, Arizona 20
New England at San Diego (-3.5)
This game shapes up as a huge statistical mismatch in favor of the Chargers: San Diego is No. 1 in Passing YPA (7.94), No. 1 in Passer Rating Differential, No. 2 in Defensive Passer Rating (67.78), and No. 3 in Offensive Passer Rating (100.8)
New England counters with a Hall of Fame quarterback, sure, and one having a very good season (98.54 passer rating). But they also counter with what is still one of the worst pass defenses in football (96.37 Defensive Passer Rating).
In fact, despite shutting down the Ravens in the second half last week, that lowly DPR means that New England is on pace to field the worst pass defense in franchise history. The Patriots have also allowed opposing passers to complete 70.8 percent of their passes – among the highest completion rates against a team in the history of the NFL.
But as the 4-1 Patriots and 2-4 Chargers have proven this year, some teams are much more or much less than the sum of their parts.
New England is a well oiled, finely coached machine that plays very smart football: No. 2 in Scoreability, No. 17 in Bendability.
San Diego is a gummed up, poorly coached machine that plays very dumb football: No. 18 in Scoreability, No. 31 in Bendability.
The always-difficult cross-country is the final factor in this game, while San Diego has twice won big at home this year.
San Diego 27, New England 26
Oakland at Denver (-6.5)
Kyle Orton must be licking his chops ... or at least his old porn 'stache.
The Denver quarterback averages 323.7 passing yards per game and 7.9 YPA, with a nifty 94.2 passer rating. Oakland responds with one of the league's worst pass defenses (98.6 Defensive Passer Rating), while surrendering 12 TD with just 2 INT.
Oakland is not good ... but they're not the pushover they once were. And the Broncos (2-4) aren't exactly blowing out the competition despite the prolific passing days.
The Raiders might be vulnerable to a balanced offense – they surrender 5.01 YPA on the ground (31st). But the Broncos are not equipped to exploit that opportunity. They're dead last running the ball (2.68 YPA).
Denver 24, Oakland 20
Minnesota at Green Bay (-3.5)
For nearly two decades, the Cheeseheads enthusiastically welcomed BrettFavre when he ran out onto the green green grass of his home at Lambeau Field.
They should enthusiastically welcome him again Sunday night: after all, BrettFavre is one of the worst quarterbacks in football right now (the Vikings are 26th at 5.45 Passing YPA). It was only one gift after another that even allowed the Vikings to win at home against the poorly coached Cowboys last week.
Green Bay needs to right the ship after a two-game losing skid, and a big day against the struggling Vikings could be just what Dr. Feelgood ordered.
Green Bay 24, Minnesota 23
N.Y. Giants at Dallas (-3.5)
The Cowboys are the most beloved bet in football. Just look at the fact that over the course of NFL history (or at least since 1969), they've been favored more than any team in the league (68.9% of their games). And they're often favored in games that they shouldn't be (as we've noted several times this year).
This is one of those games. Put most simply, the Giants are a better team. New York's top-ranked Defensive Hogs, who forced a Negative Pass Play on 13.5 percent of dropbacks, will make life tough for Tony Romo and Co., who have not won a home game yet this year.
N.Y. Giants 26, Dallas 23
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