WEEK 13 REPORT:
WINNERS: 10-6 (.625); SEASON: 125-67 (.651)
ATS: 5-11 (.312); SEASON: 103-89 (.536)
ATS BEST BETS: 0-3; SEASON: 20-19 (.513)
SUNDAY UPDATE: I picked only two upsets this week and one of those (Bears over Redskins) is already wrong. I'll be shocked if favorites go 14-1 over the next two days, but c'est la vie. That's why I pick games before I look at the Vegas line.
Unlucky Week 13 was my least confident week of the season, and with good reason: while I scraped out a 10-6 record on winners, I took a pounding in Vegas, finishing below .500 against the spread. As I said last week, I was happy to break even on winners (10-6), but failing to do so on the ATS picks was a blow to my ego.
But before we move on to this week's picks, I want to look back at the things I was wrong about in Week 13, because I think it's educational:
PATRIOTS (C/F): Yes, I got the win, but c'mon: I didn't predict this win correctly in any sense beyond dumb luck, and I expect better if I'm ranking a game in the Confident category. Doesn't count against me statistically, but I know better.
BRONCOS (NBTF/BB/F): I can't explain this one. They lost 34-20.
REDSKINS (JG/F): The Redskins controlled the game crumbled in the final minute behind a head-scratching coaching performance and lost by a point.
49ERS (JG/U): I picked the upset, but Vinny played well and Dilfer played horribly.
BROWNS (JG/U): Even with Fitzgerald out, the Cardinals just outplayed the Browns.
BEARS (JG/U): My upset prediction looked solid through about 50 minutes of football and was in play up to the final seconds.
SAINTS (JG/BB/F): Every sign pointed towards a Saints win. Instead, they laid an egg at home against a replacement QB.
For the record, favorites went a stellar 12-4 this weekend, and even though I picked only four upsets, I picked the wrong ones (my upset picks went 1-3). Vegas wisdom wins this round, big-time.
But can I say I was unlucky? No, not really. Sure, chance is always in play, but when I look back at the week I see only three games that really came down to a coin flip (Patriots, Giants and Bills), and I went 1-2 in those outcomes. That's not unlucky -- that's just a week-to-week wobble.
Confident (Week 13: 1-0 winners, 1.000; 0-1 ATS, .000. Season: 47-13 winners, .783; 34-26 ATS, .567)
Carolina at (-10.5) Jacksonville (early): Carolina finally won a home game and plays better on the road, but these two expansion mates are on totally different planes of reality in 2007. Jaguars, easily. ATS: Jags.
Dallas at (+10.5) Detroit (early): Dallas and Detroit both play on Turkey Day. That's really all they have in common at the moment though. Dallas rolls in the dome. ATS: Cowboys.
Oakland at (-10) Green Bay (early): Oakland occasionally puts up a surprise, but not this week. Even if Brett Favre struggles we should see more than enough from the Packers to beat the Raiders at home. ATS: Packers.
Minnesota at (+8.5) San Francisco (late): What a reversal, eh? The Vikings look like an Old School Chicago Bears squad (inconsistent young QB, dominating run defense, great line, amazing RBs, forgettable WRs) and are working their way into playoff contention. While the 49ers just flat-out suck. ATS: Vikings.
Pittsburgh at (-10.5) New England (late): Sure, the Pats has struggled the past two weeks. And the Steelers are a Top 4 team who could make this a dogfight. But I'm confident that the Patriots take the win here. ATS: Steelers.
Not Betting the Farm (Week 13: 3-1 winners, .750; 2-2 ATS,.500. Season: 29-17 winners, .630; 25-21 ATS, .543)
Chicago at (-3) Washington (Thursday): Two teams coming off heartbreaking performances, the Bears as a home dog, the Redskins as a home favorite playing their first game since the death of teammate Sean Taylor. Both losses can be accurately described as pressure chokes: Chicago's once-vaunted defense simply couldn't get a stop in the fourth quarter, giving up two long touchdown drives, and the Redskins couldn't stop the Bills when it counted, either. But the worst choke of the season has to be Joe Gibbbs 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. Hell, even I knew that you can't call consecutive timeouts to ice a kicker, and Gibbs' gaffe turned a 50-50 shot from plus-50-yard territory into a relative chip shot. Then there was the embarrassment over defensive coordinator Gregg Williams telling FOX Sports about his 10-man, first-snap tribute to Sean Taylor but not mentioning it to Gibbs.Net result: A day that the players had intended as a tribute to Taylor turned into a leadership meltdown, and that kind of event can have profound ramifications for a team's morale. Neither one of these teams is a meaningful playoff contender now, but the Bears are far less wounded than the Redskins this week. Normally I'd pick the home team to win in a matchup like this one, but between the Buffalo collapse, the coaching mistakes and the Taylor funeral, I'm taking the Bears to play loose and win on the road. I'm not confident, though, because, you know -- these are the Bears. ATS: Dang! I picked another upset. So that means I'm taking the Bears against the spread, too. I kinda hate that, but there you have it. OUTCOME: Wrong on both. Man, the Bears suck this year.
Miami at (-6.5) Buffalo (early): The Dolphins are awful and the Bills really aren't as good as their record, so there's always the chance that these division rivals play a tough game and Miami gets its first win of the year. But I don't think so. Bills win. ATS: Bills.
St. Louis at (-9.5) Cincinnati (early): The Rams start Brock Berlin. I'm taking the Bengals. My trepidation is simply the fact that Cincinnati's defense sometimes plays like 11 matadors on a spa vacation..ATS: Bengals.
Arizona at (-7) Seattle (late): There are reasons to like the Cardinals in this game, so that bends my thinking a bit -- but I'm liking what I'm seeing from the Seahawks at the moment. They might actually be the No. 3 team in the NFC right now. ATS: Seahawks.
Indianapolis at (+8.5) Baltimore (SNF): Baltimore played its heart out against
the Patriots, but it's really not fair to expect a team to play well against the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the NFL back to back. Hence, the Colts win. Then again, this is the Colts returning to Baltimore, so the crowd is going to be electric, and it is a prime time game. Which means -- well, it's a random universe, so I've got my doubts. ATS: Ravens.
New Orleans at (+3) Atlanta (MNF): How much you wanna bet that the NFL schedulers wish they could take a mulligan on this one? What a nothing game, and the Saints are playing without their marquee star, Reggie Bush. Shouldn't matter: Saints to win. ATS: Saints.
Just Guessing (Week 13: 6-5 winners, .545; 3-8 ATS, .272. Season: 49-38 winners, .563; 42-48 ATS*, .466 *= 3-GAME CONTINUITY ERROR)
N.Y. Giants at (-3) Philadelphia (early): I really can't get a bead on either one of these teams, and let's not forget how ridiculously wrong I was about the Giants in the preseason. I'm going to guess that the Giants saved their season in Chicago last week, but that doesn't mean they're a lock to win out the rest of the way. Give me the Eagles here, just based on the nastiness factor. Feeley proved he could play well against the Pats, and this game should have them focused. ATS: Eagles.
San Diego at (+1) Tennessee (early): I got off the Titans bandwagon two weeks ago and won, jumped on last week on a hunch and won, and now this week... what? These teams are both above average, with the Chargers coming in as the classic underachievers and the Titans in the role of the gritty overachievers. I can't figure out who to take here, so I'm taking the Chargers based on talent. ATS: Chargers.
Tampa Bay at (+3) Houston (early): The Bucs are hanging tough despite not playing lights-out football and you've got to respect that, but they'll need some breaks to win this game in Houston. I think they'll get them, but you know -- footballs bounce funny because of the way they're shaped. ATS: Texans.
Cleveland at (+3.5) N.Y. Jets (late): Just when you're ready to start believing in the Browns, they lay down and die on the road in Arizona. I'm beginning to think that other teams are starting to figure out how to play the Browns, and the Jets actually match up with them pretty well. I'm taking the Jets to win at the Meadowlands. ATS: Upset pick! Jets.
Kansas City at (-7) Denver (late): Clearly I have no insights into either one of these teams. Gimme Denver at home. ATS: Denver's the favorite? In that case, gimme the Chiefs.