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The Black Cat's 128K Picks of 2016
2015: 60% Hilton Contest Winner w/ 65%
Week 1: 4-4 50% (Stars: 13-11 54%)
Week 2: 5-3 62% (Stars: 13.5-13.5 50%)
Week 3: 3-5 38% (Stars: 9-17 35%)
Week 4: 4-4 50% (Stars: 15-13.5 52.5%)
Week 5: 2-5 28% (Stars: 6.5-18 26%)
Week 6: 1-5-1 17% (Stars: 2-14 13%)
Week 7: 4-2-1 66% (Stars: 16-7.5 68%)
Underdogs: 12-17-1 41%
Overall: 23-28-2 45% (Stars: 75-94.5 44%)
GOW: 1-6 (17%)
Hilton: 2-3 Last week for Total of 15-20 (43%)
Week 7 Comment: Nice rebound with a 66% score...more to come!
47. Baltimore +2.5 NY Jets (5 Stars) LOSS
Why on earth would you bet on the Jets, especially since it looks like Flacco will play?
Ravens 24, Jets 20
48. Philadelphia +3 Minnesota (5 Stars) **WIN**
The dynamic of this game is certainly interesting enough, but the Eagles should know how to defend their own Qb. I think the Vikings amazing streak against the spread comes to an end this weekend.
Eagles 22, Vikings 19
49. Oakland +2 Jacksonville (4 Stars) **WIN**
The Raiders are better than Jacksonville, and that's not much of a home field advantage in an empty stadium.
Raiders 26, Jags 24
50. Miami +2.5 Buffalo (4 Stars) **WIN**
With McCoy ailing, I don't like the Bills here against their division rival.
Dolphins 21, Bills 20
51. San Diego +5.5 Atlanta (3 Stars) **WIN**
Rivers and The Chargers keep it close every game and this should be no different.
Chargers 27, Falcons 30
52. Cleveland +10 Cincinnati (2.5 Stars) LOSS
The Bengals just don't look that good this year, so this is a lot for them to be spotting their Ohio rival.
Bengals 27, Browns 20
53. New Orleans +6 Kansas City (2.5 Stars) PUSH
Drew Brees is just too hot to stop, and this is the defense that gave up 5 TDs to Roethlisberger he is facing.
Saints 22, Chiefs 26
Week 6 Comment: Not the start of 2016 I hoped for, but as a data-driven prognosticator...it'll turn around soon.
40. Chicago -1.5 Jacksonville (4.5 Stars GOW) LOSS
The Bears defense is good enough to win this one.
Bears 26, Jaguars 20
41. Oakland +2 KC (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Kansas City's offense continues to sputter but at least the Raiders won't offer up much resistance.
Raiders 24, Chiefs 23
42. Green Bay -5 Dallas (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Don't think they'll win a passing battle with Aaron Rodgers.
Packers 26, Cowboys 18
43. Pittsburgh -7 Miami (2.5 Stars) LOSS
A massive mismatch.
Steelers 28, Dolphins 19
44. Lions -3 Rams (2.5 Stars) PUSH
The Rams are massively overachieving, but not this week.
Lions 24, Rams 19
45. Cincinnati +7.5 New England (2 Stars) LOSS
The Bengals are massively underachieving, but not this week. But they need to find a way to cover the Patriots TE if they are to have any hope of covering.
Bengals 20, Patriots 25
46. Arizona -7.5 NY Jets (2 Stars) **WIN**
This matchup is even worse than Steelers/Dolphins...and its at home on MNF. The Jets are terrible.
Cardinals 29, Jets 20
Week 5 Comment: I can't recall ever being so wretched on Dogs, this on what has largely been a good dog year. Of the 10 most obviously wretched picks I've put out there, I'm 0-10. Maybe they are huge underdogs for a reason?
34. Denver -4 Atlanta (5 Stars GOW) LOSS
Wow, it is so nice to go from the 49ers as my weekly failed GOW to the BRONCOS. If there has been one trend this year, it has been not to sweat the Qb in a matchup, and keep an eye on the defense. Atlanta may be running up the scoreboard, but the defense still sucks and it wonít change their odds when they play the arguably best defense in the NFL this weekend.
Broncos 28, Falcons 16
35. Carolina -4 Tampa Bay (5 Stars) LOSS
Stay classy, bettors! Hey, I know it hasnít been pretty for the Panthers so far, but playing that Bucs defense can go a look way to heal your woozy head. If there is one thing weíve learned this season, it is that Qbs donít matter Ė unless you are the 49ers and your Qb throws like a blind squirrel. I think Anderson will light it up on Monday night! See if heís on that waiver wireÖ
Panthers 31, Bucs 19
36. Minnesota -7 Houston (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
Remember when people thought the Texans had the best defense in the NFL? Well, they arenít bad but the offense is again, and the Vikings will feast on them as well.
Vikings 24, Texans 14
37. Chicago +4.5 Indianapolis (3.5 Stars) LOSS
The immovable offense meets the invisible defense in this one as the Bears attempt to get first downs vs the Colts horrendous defense of 2016. And do you REALLY care if Cutler is under center? Most Bears fans donít.
Bears 23, Colts 25
38. Cleveland +10.5 New England (3 Stars) LOSS
Tom Brady must be a bit pissed off they brought him back from vacation to play in CLEVELAND. Seriously? With his Hall of Fame hopes in tatters now that itís clear Chuckie the Clown can Qb for the Patriots and still win, at least he can practice throwing a properly inflated ball this weekend. Ok, Iím shamelessly taking the huge pile of points here at home, a spread worthy of only the 49ers!
Browns 21, Patriots 28
39. Pittsburgh -8.5 NY Jets (3 Stars) **WIN**
Speaking of teams running up the scoreboard, what will happen when the Steelers play arguably the worst defense in the NFL? Thatís right: worst. And there is no Revis Island, you will have to rename it Antonio Brown island after this beatingÖ.Fitzpatrick followed one of his best games with 2 of the worst ever, with a historic number of interceptions. Some bettors are focused on the massive injuries to the Steeler line but with their dynamic weapons and one of the hardest Qbs to sack in the NFL, they will be ok.
Steelers 29, Jets 18
33. San Francisco +4 Arizona (1.5 Stars) LOSS
Guess what? I won't be picking the 49ers as a GOW this week! The pricks put the Cowboys 14 points down with a rookie Qb and still manage to blow it again without covering. But even in losing, they still appear on paper better than the Cardinals this season. Arizona continues to struggle, with things getting worse having a short week and a concussion-struck Qb. The very nature of these struggling squads on a short week makes it look like a marginal win for the Cardinals.
49ers 23, AZ 24
Week 4 Comment: Despite losing a couple games down the stretch that seemed to be going well, the week evened out. But the NFL continues to zig-and-zag like crazy from week to week with often contrarian results.
25. Minnesota -4 NYG (5 Stars) **WIN**
The Vikings top ranked defense should smash the Giants line and neutralize the Giants to midgets.
Vikings 27, Giants 17
26. SF +1 Dallas (4.5 Stars, GOW at +2) LOSS
Before you get too excited about the Cowboys, they just won 2 straight games against the Bears and Redskins, arguably two of the other worst teams in the NFL. They still have a raw Qb, a raw RB, and lost their best receiver with the backdrop of a shaky D. Iím not sure the 49ers can underachieve any more and they have the better offense in this game.
49ers 24, Cowboys 20
27. Denver -3 Tampa Bay (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
Donít expect the Bucs to do a whole lot against the Broncos D and the Bucs defense is still helpless.
Broncos 27, Bucs 19
28. Chicago +3 Detroit (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
Chicago is terrible, but they might generate a bit of offense against the Lions to make this one interesting after 2 straight flops.
Bears 25, Lions 24
29. Cleveland +7.5 Washington (3.5 Stars) LOSS
The Redskins defense continues to be one of the worst in the NFL, and the Browns have been scrappy this season. The Redskins do not play well at home anyway.
Browns 24, Redskins 28
30. San Diego -3.5 New Orleans (3.5 Stars) LOSS
If you have Philip Rivers on your fantasy football team, this is probably the best week of the season to play him. But will the Chargers D fade again under the relentless pressure of Brees?
Chargers 30, Saints 23
31. Kansas City +4 Pittsburgh (2 Stars) LOSS
The Steelers are likely to rebound after last weekís debacle and now have Bell back, but the Chiefs are no easy mark in what figures to be a tough one.
Chiefs 21, Steelers 23
32. Houston -4.5 Tennessee (2 Stars) **WIN**
Now that the Texanís bus is a bit banged up, they may put a decent game together against one of the leagueís worst offenses.
Texans 23, Titans 17
18. San Francisco +10.5 Seattle (5 Stars GOW) LOSS
The Seahawks once again look anemic on offense and will be without the services of Rowles this weekend. The 49ers may not have much offense but their defense has been impressive so far, at least impressive enough to ponder 9.5 points. Last week they scored a ton of points but failed to stop anything all day, but that was against the NFC champs. With the 49ers showing life on defense and then offense against a struggling Seattle offense, this is a good value here.
49ers 21, Seahawks 19
19. Baltimore -2.5 Jacksonville (4 Stars) LOSS
Baltimore already looks a whole lot better than a year ago, and the Jags are still growing. If the Ravens want to keep pace with the Steelers, they need to win here. Last season, the Jags were about on par with the depleted Ravens and they look stronger this year with Flacco back. The 2-0 Ravens do need to defang a desperate Jaguars team but when arenít the Jags desperate?
Ravens 22, Jags 16
20. LA +3.5 TB (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
The Rams Ė surprising winners at home after laying an egg in the opener Ė play home again against the resurgent Bucs. But while the Bucs are popular with gamblers right now, they didnít do much last week to earn confidence. While the Rams are nowhere near as good, expect them to ride the emotion of last weekís victory. With both teams having been up and down, I think the best guide is the Rams being about a point better last season.
Rams 21, Bucs 20
21. N.Y. Giants -3 Washington (3.5 Stars) LOSS
The Redskins are arguably the worst team in the NFL after 2 weeks, apologies to the Bears who are certainly deserving as well. The Giants are the worst team to be 2-0 after 2 games and are due for some reality themselves. So you might think the Redskins bring an A game and get this done. But at this value, I simply canít condone taking a Skins team that has done nothing. I took away a Ĺ star because there is some juice at 3.
Giants 24, Redskins 17
22. Pittsburgh -4 Philadelphia (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Speaking of new Qbs, the Eagles are due for a serious reality check when they go up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are clicking on all cylinders and now get their #2 WR back on the field. Probably no team in the NFLís history has had more success on the road against raw Qbs.
Steelers 26, Eagles 20
23. Dallas -6.5 Chicago (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
If the Cowboys get to play against Brian Hoyer mostly Sunday night, they are going to have a laugher for certain against the weakest team in the NFL.
Cowboys 30, Bears 21
24. New Orleans -3 Atlanta (2 Stars) LOSS
New Orleans canít stop a nosebleed, but Atlanta does a pretty good job of stopping themselves. I think the Saints are on the rise and Atlanta hasnít convinced me they are any more than the same old-same old. Iím riding Drew Brees on this one!
Saints 28, Falcons 23
17. New England +1.5 Houston (3 Stars) **WIN**
New England has no Qb, but neither does Houston still.
Patriots 19, Texans 17
Week 2: The Revenge of Mr. September
9. SF +13.5 Carolina (5 Stars GOW) LOSS
Last year Ė a year the Panthers went to the Superbowl and the 49ers were an embarrassment to humanity Ė Iíd have played this matchup as a 10 point line. So Iím already about 3.5 points ahead of the game. So thereís nothing but upside and downside here and one is coming off a loss to a QB-less Patriots team and one won an NFL game (technically) 28-0.
Panthers 28, 49ers 20
10. KC +2.5 Houston (4.5 Stars) LOSS
Anyone taking Houston must be looking at their one game last week and going ďWow!Ē this team can contend. But seriously, one game Ė and who did they play? No really, whoíd they play againÖ.I already forgot that game. Even if we pretend Houston didnít even have a Qb and this guy was the 2nd coming of Elway, it wouldnít justify this spread in my data against the perennially contending Chiefs.
Chiefs 23, Texans 21
11. Cleveland +6.5 Baltimore (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
So Cleveland is now back to where they were last year essentially, which isnít a great place to be. However, they were about the same as the Ravens last year. How much better have the Ravens improved in one year? Probably not this much better. In fact, the Browns may be better in other areas than a year ago.
Browns 19, Ravens 21
12. Buffalo +1.5 NY Jets (4 Stars) LOSS
Iím a data guy so Iím not picking this on any emotion of yet-another Rex Ryan revenge game. After seeing the Redskins humiliate the Bills backups in preseason, I have questions about their defense. But these two teams were pretty even last year, the Bills were a bit better last week, so I see no reason to ride the Jets here whatsoever.
Bills 23, Jets 21
13. Minnesota +2 Green Bay (3 Stars) **WIN**
Iím not sure what to make of the Vikings Qb situation, with their 1st round pick getting up to speed. Not sure if thatís a big deduction or actually a plus for the Vikings. What I do know is they still have a great defense and they figure to give the Packers as much fit as anyone on their schedule, especially at home. I would not assume the Packers will win this game.
Vikings 24, Packers 23
14. Arizona -7 TB (2 Stars) **WIN**
I play the data but if I were picking personally, this one might be my game of the week. All I saw last week was a scary-good Arizona team with an offense that has almost too many weapons and one of the best defenses in the NFL. So again, I donít really care how good the Bucs looked last week. Am I gonna take them? Hell no!
Cardinals 30, Bucs 21
15. San Diego -3 Jacksonville (2 Stars) **WIN**
This could be the highest scoring game of the week and if I played over/unders, Iíd think long and hard about this one. Rivers is gonna do what Rivers does, which is generally put up points. The Chargers D is probably not as bad as they looked but the Jags have an offense too. This could be a surprisingly good game to watch but I still think the Chargers are a better team than Jacksonville. When you ignore the collapse last week, the Chargers had the playoff-caliber Chiefs down at home 21-3 in the opener, which isnít nothing.
Chargers 29, Jags 24
16. Denver -6 Indianapolis (2 Stars) **WIN**
I just donít know how Indianapolis hangs in this game if CJ Anderson looks anything like he did last week on 10 days rest banging up the middle of the Colts defense. Theyíll need a lot of Luck to hang.
Broncos 28, Colts 20
1. Minnesota -1.5 Tennessee (5 Stars) **WIN**
In 2015, this would have been a massive mismatch in favor of the Vikings. The Vikings may have lost their Qb, but he wasnít exactly Aaron Rodgers to begin with. Hereís a hint: they can still hand it off to AP. The Titans had an eye-popping preseason with a smash mouth team, but they face a fresh defense that will be up to that challenge. The Titans may be a better team in 2016 Ė thatís not saying much Ė but it wonít help them win this week.
Vikings 23, Titans 17
2. Cleveland +4 Philadelphia (4 Stars) LOSS
The table seems set to me for a dynamic debut of RG-3.0 against the draft-ready Eagles.
Browns 24, Eagles 24
3. Oakland +1.5 New Orleans (4 Stars) **WIN**
The recently-respectable Raiders should be clicking against the defenseless Saints in what figures to be a high-scoring game. The Raiders could have won this game handily last season and figure to be more improved heading into 2016.
Raiders 28, Saints 26
4. Denver +3 Carolina (3 Stars) **WIN**
A few months ago, Iíd probably figure for the Broncos to win this game, but now they will replace a barely functioning Qb with an untested leader. How much will that set them back? While replacing a legend, it was a legend that played more soundly than spectacularly last season, so I still feel they have an edge over a potentially declining Panthers team. This Thursday night opener has proven to be a tough one for road teams to win.
Broncos 21, Panthers 21
5. Chicago +6 Houston (3 Stars) LOSS
Houston may be improved but they overachieved on a soft schedule last year. The team may not seem to make as much progress against that backdrop even if the Qb is a spectacular upgrade, which he may not be.
Bears 21, Texans 24
6. Seattle -10.5 Miami (2 Stars) LOSS
Last year, this game would have been so lopsided that the Seahawks could have sent out the Washington State squad to play the 2nd half. I donít see much reason to think this will be any different.
Seahawks 29, Dolphins 16
7. Washington +3 Pittsburgh (2 Stars) LOSS
Even the resurgent Redskins would have been whitewashed last year by the Steelers, but they do get a break with Bell being out of this game as well as a wideout of the Steelers being suspended this year. Then, they acquired Josh to cover the best receiver in football Ė which may not help, but it wonít hurt making the corner matchups a bit less awful. So while the Redskins will be hard-pressed to win this debut against a superior team, maybe they can put up a fight given the clear value on this line against a less-than-fully-loaded Steeler squad.
Steelers 22, Redskins 21
8. NY Giants PK Dallas (Lone Star) **WIN**
This may not be my statistically finest selection and the preseason momentum points to the Cowboys, but my gut says to ignore the preseason and focus on a veteran Qb-Wr combo of the Giants against a rookie Qb with a rookie Rb that may continue to struggle to lead a franchise that has rarely won a game without Romo in the lineup.
NY Giants 26, Dallas 24