Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We went 7-7 last week, which was a bit disappointing because we were 7-5 during the day on Sunday, and felt good about the Sunday and Monday night games. But feeling good doesn't always correlate with winning - or at least I hope because I feel terrible about a lot of the picks we agreed on this week. I'm a bit torn between going against what I think because my mind works the same way as everyone else's and trusting my gut, because that's what I think. In other words, fading the public is really just fading your own simplistic thought processes, because we're all susceptible to the same faulty logic. But in fading your own thought processes, you have to be wary of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, i.e., are you also fading your observation-based hunches?
I didn't change any of the games we picked - didn't want to get panicky about it, but I came close in a few instances. Here are the ones I hate: Rams, Chiefs,
Jaguars, Texans, Titans. And here are the ones I'm lukewarm about: Raiders, Saints. I'd probably take 3-4 out of that group and be happy.
The rest of the slate I'm comfortable with, particularly, the Dolphins, Lions, Eagles and Seahawks. So this week will be a good (though very limited) test to see if feeling good about games makes any difference.
Raiders +7.5 at Ravens
On paper you'd think the Ravens would roll. They should be able to run against a soft Raiders front, and they should be able to stop the run and force the Raiders to throw (which could get ugly). But Damon wanted Oakland (no one else is going to take them), and since the games aren't played on paper, I went along. Back the Raiders.
Ravens 16 - 9
Cardinals +4.5 at Panthers
My first instinct was to take the Panthers at home against a Cardinals team coming off two big home wins, but as I thought about it more, this could really be an up-and-down-the-field game where you'd really prefer to have the points. But I won't second-guess it - we're sticking with Carolina.
Panthers 27 - 20
Buccaneers +2 at Cowboys
The Book is pushing us toward Tampa, it would seem. Otherwise why isn't this a pick 'em, or even Tampa minus two? Dallas just got blown out by the Rams! But we're going to be suckers and take the bait. The Bucs are a solid, well-coached team, and Dallas has to show some heart before we'll take them as any kind of favorite against a contender. Back Tampa who rolls.
Buccaneers 27 - 16
Redskins -8 at Lions
We're not sure how many of you realize it, but the Lions have covered the last two weeks, showing some fight in both games. The Redskins are the better team, but laying eight on the road against a desperate team that hasn't quit is asking a lot. Back Detroit.
Lions 23 - 20
Bills -1.5 at Dolphins
Buffalo's off to a nice start, but we don't see them as an elite team that can reliably be favored on the road against game opponents. Back Miami who handles its business at home.
Dolphins 19 - 17
Rams +7 at Patriots
Honestly, we'd like to pick against both of these teams as we suspect both are a little inflated after last week. I have a Pats feeling here, but Damon liked the Rams, and when it doubt, we usually take the points. Back St. Louis.
Patriots 21 - 16
Chargers -3.5 at Saints (London)
If you're wondering why the Chargers are laying more than a field goal as a road team, that's because the game's at a neutral site in London. Also, Reggie Bush is out, and we're not yet sure Marques Colston is fully back. But that shouldn't matter too much - the Saints get it done with whoever they plug in, and after a bad loss, we expect them to be competitive. Back New Orleans.
Chargers 27 - 24
Chiefs +13 at Jets
With these big spreads, it's often a crap shoot, and this game is no different. While the Chiefs are possibly the worst team in the league, we can't imagine too many other people will take them, so we might as well. Back Kansas City.
Jets 20 - 10
Falcons +9 at Eagles
The Falcons have been one of the year's big surprises, but Damon and I both feel this is a regression-the-mean week for them against a tough Philly team on the road. It could be a long day for rookie quarterback Matt Ryan. Back the Eagles.
Eagles 30 - 13
Browns +7 at Jaguars
We went back and forth on this game, but in the end we settled on Jacksonville which has played better of late and badly needs this win. The Browns strike us as team that's close to unraveling - Romeo Crennel could be fired, Derek Anderson could be benched, Braylon Edwards is dropping passes and Kellen Winslow is suspended. Back the Jaguars at home.
Jaguars 31 - 20
Bengals +10 at Texans
Normally we'd go with the winless team in this case, but the public is all over the Bengals for some reason. It probably means nothing, but it makes us want to roll the dice with the Texans who have the offensive firepower to cover a big number. Back Houston.
Texans 27 - 10
Giants +3 at Steelers
I've delegated Giants games to Damon lately - completely removed myself from the equation. He was good with them last year, and he's been on target again this season. This is the first time all year they're a dog, and he likes them in that role. Back New York.
Giants 20 - 19
Seahawks +5 at 49ers
Damon and I both agreed the Niners have no business laying five points against anyone these days, and Seattle actually showed some fight in the second half against Tampa last week. Back the Seahawks.
Seahawks 23- 20
Colts +4 at Titans
We went back and forth here as well. On the one hand, we like to pick against undefeated teams on the theory that everyone especially wants to knock them off, i.e., rarely does the opposing team not get up for a game against the top dog. On the other, the Colts are still a big brand name, and the public is slow to lose faith in them - I mean if anyone's going to derail the Titans, you'd have to think it's the Colts who lit up the Ravens two weeks ago. But anyone you'd "have to think," is probably wrong. Take Tennessee.
Titans 24 - 17
We were 7-7 in Week 7, to put us at 57-42-3 on the season. We were 127-120-9 last season. From 1999-2007, we were 1184-1018 - not including ties - (53.8 percent).
Article first appeared 10/22/08