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)
Favorites: 5-5 50%
Underdogs: 7-7 50%
Overall: 12-12 50% (Stars: 35.5-41.5 <50%)
GOW: 1-2 (33%)
Hilton: 7-8 (<50%)
Comment: It got a bit rough this season as I owned week 2 but misranked the board and this week I overbit some trends and lost a Hilton game here due to the late line move and another Charger collapse. It's hard to believe I've actually managed to overestimate the 49ers too! After some early missteps, I expect to rebound next weekend and frankly it is a better start than I had last season! I have a good feeling about the 49ers...
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