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The Black Cat's 128K Picks of 2014
WEEK 1: 2-6 ($100 Bet Net: -$418.18, $25 Stars: $-355.68)
WEEK 2: 3-5 ($100 Bet Net: -$227.27, $25 Stars: $-282.95)
WEEK 3: 3-5 ($100 Bet Net: -$227.27, $25 Stars: $-154.54)
WEEK 4: 3-4 ($100 Bet Net: -$127.24, $25 Stars: +$45.46)
WEEK 5: 3-4 ($100 Bet Net: -$127.24, $25 Stars: -211.36)
WEEK 6: 4-4 ($100 Bet Net: -$36.36, $25 Stars: $53.41)
WEEK 7: 3-5 ($100 Bet Net: -$227.27, $25 Stars: $-184.09)
WEEK 8: 3-3 ($100 Bet Net: -$27.27, $25 Stars: -$2.27
Overall: 24-36 (-$1218.13, -$1164.75)
WEEK 9As long as the teams I pick scores 50+ points, they usually win! While last week didn't rack up good stats, it extended my GOW record to 6-2 so even in this disaster of a season, there's something good there. There is no doubt that the 2nd half of the season will be better than the 40% win rate I had in the 1st!
WEEK 8I'm willing to concede the 49ers over the Broncos was a ridiculously horrible pick. I take some consolation that there were actually other people who thought the 49ers were worth +6.5 in that situation...I'm pretty sure that was rock bottom so its all up up and a win from here!
55. New Orleans -1.5 Green Bay (5 Stars -- BET THE FARM) **WIN**
It is not a big surprise to me that the homeless saints have gotten off to a rotten start. But there's no place like domes, right? Everybody is expecting the Saints to light it up and while the Packers won't be a patsy, the Saints must and will find a way to pull this one out. They will outrun AND outpass the Packers on their way to a kickass...win!
Saints 24, Packers 21
56. NY Jets -3 Buffalo (4 Stars) LOSS
The Bills have lost their running backs, their quarterbacks, I'm not even sure they can even field a complete team. So I don't see them having much luck if they get near the end zone. Stat to note: the Bills offense is as sucky as the Jets offense, and that was before their offense went down like it was bitten by an Ebola worm.
Jets 19, Bills 15
57. Pittsburgh +3 Indianapolis (4 Stars) **WIN**
Ben Roethlisberger is attempting to win his 100th game in 150 starts and last time a Qb played for some sort of a record, he beat the 49ers by 80 points and made my pick look like chump cheese. And Shazier is back, which gives hope the Steelers may stop the Colts. Eventually. Congrats to Big Ben on #100, even if L-Bell leads the way.
Steelers 30, Colts 26
58. Tampa Bay -2.5 Minnesota (4 Stars) LOSS
Tampa Bay last played a game like 3 years ago or something. Are they still in the NFL? Two of the league's most implosive offenses offend each other in this stinkbomb match. At least the Bucs seem to be getting healthy at the running back position, and it isn't like the offensive line could play worse.
Bucs 19, Vikings 14
59. Cincinnati +1 Baltimore (3 Stars) **WIN**
The offense is in a league-leading free fall, their best receiver on cripple-reserve, and the defense sputtering like an old Steel Curtain, the Bengals face a Qb so hot he could turn the pope gay. BUT, if the Bengals...I mean if...uhmmm....did I mention the Ravens may be as much as the 4th best team in the entire league right now? Maybe its a trap game?
Bengals 23, Ravens 21
60. St Louis +6.5 KC (3 Stars) LOSS
The Rams were dumb lucky last week and conventional wisdom is they won't win another one until December. However, they have the best offense any really horrible team has ever had, in my recollection. Seriously, these guys are like the Saints of the NFC West and that sure as hell isn't Drew Brees at Qb. Ok, their defense is a wretched mess but here's a hint guys: its a RUN. KC might be the perfect opponent for the Rams who will shock the world by playing 2 good games back-to-back. And it's not like this game means a whole lot for the Chiefs.
Rams 17, Chiefs 21
WEEK 7Every week has gotten slightly less horrible than the previous week. If this keeps up, a clearcut winning week is bound to happen!
47. Tennessee +5.5 Washington (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
I may be a week late to throw in the towel on the Redskins. While they may get some passing yards, the turnovers just will not allow for success and the Redskins are not a strong home team and the defense is bad. This is a bad team slugfest, so take the points!
Redskins 23, Titans 22
48. San Francisco +7 Denver (4 Stars) LOSS
The Broncos are past their post-bye mile high. We know the Broncos don't play great against the NFC West defenses.
49ers 20, Broncos 23
49. Detroit -1.5 New Orleans (4 Stars) LOSS
Don't look at the offenses, look at the defenses.
Lions 26, Saints 20
50. Houston +3.5 Pittsburgh (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Pittsburgh's defense just isn't that good. And Roethlisberger will find it difficult to extend plays against Watt.
Texans 23, Steelers 23 (OT)
51. NY Giants +6.5 Dallas (2.5 Stars) LOSS
While there's not much to argue about who has the hot hand, overall these teams grade out similar.
Giants 23, Cowboys 27
52. Baltimore -6.5 Atlanta (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
Coming off one of his best regular season performances ever, Flaco faces a wretched defense. But the running game is the real secret sauce of this one!
Ravens 30, Falcons 21
53. Arizona -3.5 Oakland (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
Completely unable to run the ball, the Raiders have little chance of success with a young Qb.
Cardinals 23, Raiders 17
54. Buffalo -5 Minnesota (2 Stars) LOSS
BUffalo's defense was overmatched last week, but not in this one.
Bills 24, Vikings 17
WEEK 6I continue to look for my first winning week in what has been my most awful year ever. Last week, I bit the cheese going after a few of the too-good-to- be-true lines and there were several of those this week. I wasn't biting...
39. Chicago +3.5 Atlanta (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
The Bears had it going for me last week -- even matching my predicted score -- until they imploded late. It's a close matchup, but Atlanta's defense just isn't very good to warrant these points.
Bears 26, Falcons 27
40. NY Giants +3 Philadelphia (4.5 Stars) LOSS
With the Giants offense back in the right direction, I have to give the nod against the Eagles lackluster running game and porous defense, and recognition that the Eagles are not a great home team. However, with all the smack talk from the Giants, they jinxed themselves and will choke the game.
Giants 28, Eagles 29
41. Cleveland -1 Pittsburgh (4 Stars) **WIN**
Despite the fact the Steelers offense is clicking, the Browns are doing even better and they get to play a Steeler defense still missing rookie Shazier. Cleveland will force more turnovers and get the sacks!
Browns 28, Steelers 24
42. Baltimore -3.5 Tampa Bay (4 Stars) **WIN**
While the Ravens offense is struggling, they get to play the Bucs and should own the ground game in this matchup, and kick many field goals.
Ravens 22, Bucs 15
43. Cincinnati -7 Carolina (3 Stars) LOSS
The Bengals laid an egg last week, but they'll be all over Cam. Carolina's defense is ranking "overrated" this season due to a porous run defense.
Bengals 27, Panthers 17
44. Detroit -2.5 Minnesota (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
While not have Megatron might even these offenses, the Lions are light years ahead of the Vikings on defense still.
Lions 21, Vikings 15
45. Denver -9.5 NY Jets (2 Stars) LOSS
The Broncos are still fresh from the bye and looked like champions last week, and they are playing the lowly Jets.
Broncos 31, Jets 20
46. Buffalo +3 New England (2 Stars) LOSS
I lived to regret playing the numbers against the Patriots last week, but I'm not ready to crown them yet. They face one of the best defenses in the NFL this week and Brady is a bit gimpy. The Patriots also can't be nearly as geeked up as they were last week and they are on the road.
Bills 26, Patriots 17
With 4 weeks of data, its back to basics for me with traditional value-based computational anaylsis...
32. Cincinnati -1 New England (5 Stars) LOSS
With quite a premium for the Patriots history of domination, its easy to overlook the fact that Brady has trouble passing the ball to the line of scrimmage now. The Bengals may be more Broncos than the Broncos and the Patriots are playing like an also-ran.
Bengals 27, Patriots 13
33. Arizona +7 Denver (5 Stars) LOSS
Arizonaís stellar league-leading defense makes a statement on the runless Broncos. Pressure Manning and he looks more like Brady.
Cardinals 21, Broncos 20
34. San Diego -6.5 NY Jets (4 Stars) **WIN**
Itís time we started paying attention to the Chargers, although itíll be hard while they beat up lifeless dregs like the Jets.
Chargers 35, Jets 13
35. Philadelphia -6.5 St Louis (4 Stars) LOSS
The Eagles offense against the Rams defense? Ouch. But pressure on the Rams 4th stringer by the Eagles figures to be the difference.
Eagles 36, Rams 21
36. Chicago +2.5 Carolina (4 Stars) LOSS
Carolinaís defense isnít looking too hot, and the aggressive Bears are getting it done.
Bears 24, Panthers 21
37. Buffalo +6.5 Detroit (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
Not much separates these two squads other than the 7 points. Lions can pass circles around the Bills, but the mistakes will keep it close.
Bills 14, Lions 17
38. Houston +6.5 Dallas (3 Stars) **WIN**
Houstonís defense is still better, and their offense isnít far behind. Romo wonít look as good with a lot of Watt in his face.
Texans 21, Cowboys 23
WEEK 4: FINAL EDITION of MR. SEPTEMBER 2014
25. Green Bay -1.5 Chicago (5 Stars) **WIN**
Chicago has enjoyed some big games, but they are running on fumes and facing a Packers team ready to bust out. Bears have had surprising success playing attacking defense, but Rodgers is gonna pump them left and burn them right. Cutler's crew is gimpy.
Packers 20, Bears 15
26. Houston -3 Buffalo (4 Stars) **WIN**
As Buffalo continues crashing to earth, they'll have a Watt to think about this weekend. I'll take the Qb not getting his ass kicked every snap.
Texans 22, Bills 14
27. Tampa Bay +7.5 Pittsburgh (4 Stars) **WIN**
The Steelers crushed on primetime while the Buccaneers imploded. I will be a bit shocked if the Buccs don't rebound a bit from last week's phenomenal disaster and the Steelers don't show some of their vulnerabilities once.
Buccaneers 14, Steelers 20
28. Carolina +3.5 Baltimore (3 Stars) LOSS
With RB situations poor on both sides, the ability to complete the forward pass favor the Panthers. The Ravens only deep weapon is former Panther Steve Smith the Ancient, and he will not go unnoticed.
Panthers 17, Ravens 12
29. New England -3.5 Kansas City (3 Stars) LOSS
The Chiefs home field advantage is overrated and Brady is being underestimated. The Chiefs defense is still an emergency room squad.
Patriots 17, Chiefs 9
30. Tennessee +7.5 Indianapolis (2 Stars) LOSS
Indianapolis has not differentiated itself from the Titans...but who outside the experts realize the gift that is 7.5?
Titans 24, Colts 27
31. Atlanta -3 Minnesota (2 Stars) LOSS
While not the sure thing its been the past 2 weeks, riding against the Peterson-less Vikings still seems like a worthy play.
Falcons 27, Vikings 21
Week 2 featured another bloodbath for the home teams and home is off to one of its worse starts in probably a decade. Usually the home field advantage abates for week 3 but we'll have to see how it plays out given the bizarre start. I also noticed that passing yardage was way down in week 2, but -- surprisingly -- I don't see this being offset by an increase in penalty yardage. Pass defenses were actually more effective than usual last week. Perhaps the lack of games coming down to frantic fourth quarter comebacks played a role. I know many sharps have joined me with weak starts this season but we have a long long way to go and I'm in for the longhaul.
WEEK 3: MR. SEPTEMBER #2This week, I'm looking at some teams putting their act together finally, so there's not much to say besides that...
17. New Orleans -10 Minnesota (5 Stars) **WIN**
While I won't get any points for originality here, the Saints play their first home game down 0-2 and playing a Peterson-less Vikings team.
Saints 31, Viking 12
18. New York Jets -2.5 Chicago (4.5 Stars) LOSS
The Jets get to try their new toys against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Jets 27, Chicago 20
19. Kansas City +3.5 Miami (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
The Chiefs are down, but not out.
Chiefs 22, Dolphins 21
20. San Diego +2.5 Buffalo (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
The Chargers are hot, and the Bills luck has just run out!
Chargers 24, Bills 23
21. Green Bay +2.5 Detroit (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Rodgers has career games against Detroit, and he's money as an underdog. He still hasn't had a full game yet either.
Packers 27, Lions 26
22. Tennessee +6.5 Cincinnati (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Locker locked up last week, but he should return to 2014 for the Bengals.
Titans 20, Bengals 23 (OT)
23. Carolina -3.5 Pittsburgh (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Get ready for the Cam Newton show!
Panthers 34, Steelers 27
24. Houston +2 NY Giants (3 Stars) LOSS
And you thought the Skins had trouble with Watts.
Texans 34, Giants 33
Hereís how my top 6 games went last week:
17-10 (line -5.5) Up 1.5 points
6-3 (line -3) EVEN
17-7 (line +6.5) Up 16.5 points
27-3 (line -7) Up 17 points
17-0 (line +10.5) Up 27.5 points
24-7 (line -7.5) Up 9.5 points
Straight up: 6-0
Spread: 5-0-1 (Up 72 points on the spread)
Unfortunately, that was HALFTIME! It was all downhill from there. I ended up 2-4 on these games. Thatís right, I blew a 72 point lead, including losing the 27.5 pointer (Phily) and the 17 pointer (Cleveland). To add insult to injury, #7 and #8 were simply bad picks. Next season, if I refuse to pick week 1 like I typically do, you will know why!
WEEK 2: MR. SEPTEMBER #1
9. Tennessee -3.5 Dallas (5 Stars) LOSS
Back in July, the Titans and Rams seemed to be on parallel paths. Both had oft-injured Qbs that they were expecting to breakthrough this season. We know what happened with the Rams. For the Titans, there are signs that things might go the opposite way. The Titans pulled off a dominant win over the Chiefs last week, always a good sign that your team is at least decent. They are pitted against the Cowboys, another team that flopped at home. The Cowboys may possess one of the worst defenses in football and their offense seems gimpy at best. While the Cowboys Pass D didn't give up a lot of yards, they were torched for over 9 yards per attempt, 4th worst for the weekend. Last season, the Titans would have run and passed all over the Cowboys and still might. They figure to be in the top 10 in rushing yardage and should have a productive passing game. Even if the yardage ends up similar, the Cowboys are a very high-turnover risk judging from last week while the Titans took care of the ball.
Titans 29, Cowboys 20
10. San Francisco -7 Chicago (4.5 Stars) LOSS
Last week, the 49ers gashed the Cowboys for 9+ yards per attempt and they face a Bears Pass D that isn't much better. While Kap won't outpass Jay Cutler in yardage, it figures to be an efficient day. More concerning is the run game, where SF would have obliterated the Bears last season. Even projecting from last weekend, they figure to have a sizeable edge as the Bears struggled to run the ball. The Bears were terrible against the Zone Read last week - and that was against the Bills! Jay Cutler will get yardage but should commit turnovers in the process. This should lead to at least a one TD edge and more if the 49ers run rapshod.
49ers 24, Bears 13
11. Green Bay -7.5 NYJ (4.5 Stars) LOSS
Green Bay is coming off a disaster after drawing the road game in Seattle, something not to be read too much into. Their passing game was anemic and the running game was worse, with Lacy leaving the game early. The Jets, meanwhile, are coming off an absolute laugher vs. Oakland where the Raiders barely showed up offensively. Still, the Jets didn't even cover the spread! I don't think we can conclude much from either game, so lets look at last year. An Aaron Rodgers-led team would have gotten 371 yards breaking 10 yards per pass, while holding the Jets to 150 yards. Last week, the Jets showed no improvement in their passing game. GB should win by double-digits as Aaron Rodgers returns to form.
Packers 31, Jets 19
12. San Diego +5.5 Seattle (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
Seattle finally breaks their run of high profile games with a lackluster road trip against an AFC team. Last year, the Chargers would have matched up for at worst 5.5 points statistically and likely would have kept the game closer that that as they play well at home. Despite the Seahawks dominating their opener and the Chargers falling short, the numbers still stack up as a tight game with the Seahawks yielding significant value against the spread.
Chargers 21, Seahawks 23
13. Tampa Bay -5.5 St. Louis (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Tampa struggled mightily against the Panthers defense even though the Qb situation for the Panthers was poor. I expect the Bucs to play much better in this one.
Bucs 29, Rams 20
14. New England -5.5 Minnesota (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
The Vikings lapped up on the hapless Rams but don't expect that to carry over this week. The Vikings had a great edge in the running game coming in, but don't expect Jet Sweeps to make up for Adrian Peterson being out. The Patriots were decent containing the pass and that'll be easier without a substantial run threat. Brady will play substantially better in this one. Last year, this was a 9 point matchup and I'd expect something similar without Peterson.
Patriots 30, Vikings 21
15. Washington -6 Jacksonville (2 Stars) **WIN**
The Redskins got destroyed on the offensive line last week and RG3 likely led the league in yards per sack. The Skins defense did ok, particularly in the running game. A year ago, the Redskins offense could have obliterated Jacksonville and new weapons like DeSean Jackson should make an impact this weekend. With the offensive line not overwhelmed, the Redskins should look substantially better.
Redskins 24, Jags 16
16. Oakland +3 Houston (2 Stars) LOSS
Kind of hard to feel too good about this one. The Raiders offense was just terrible last week and now a young Qb will face an onslaught of pressure. But Houston is hardly a juggernaut either so perhaps they hang in.
Texans 17, Raiders 16
1. Seattle -5.5 Green Bay (4 Stars) **WIN**
Welcome back! I've never been much for week 1 as the data is a bit non-existent, but I'll make some educated swings of the bat. Looking at the Packers, getting 5.5 points on Aaron Rodgers has to make one drool a bit. Since his 40th game, you'd be hard pressed to find a game that the Packers lost by more than 5 points. Rodgers had a streak of 20 road games in a row without losing by more than 5 points not too long ago and he's basically done this something like 46 out of the last 49 game. He's also played lights out on opening night, throwing for over 300 yards in the last 2 outings against stellar defenses. And yes...there's a "but" coming. The "but" is that in the past two openers -- despite throwing for 300+ yards, Rodgers lost by 6 and 8 points to the 49ers, who are about as close to the Seahawks as one can find. Rating the Packers on the games Rodgers played last season and projecting them against the Seahawks of 2013, this opens as a 7 point game. If the Seahawks are showing chinks in their armor, I haven't seen it. Possibly the best hope for the Packer backers is the preseason showing of their defense looked vastly improved. Add to the consideration that the defending champions have done extremely well at home in this annual kickoff game, and the Seahawks strong home field advantage and their college bowl-type approach to big games makes one think "slaughter". In fact, on average last season I projected the Seahawks in home games by around 5 points -- and they won those games by an average of 14! So I'm going to take the hawkbirds and say its a pretty strong pick.
Seahawks 27, Packers 20
2. Arizona -3 San Diego (5 Stars) LOSS
This could be the best game for the Cardinals since Rod Tidwell yelled, ďShow me the money!" Arizona would be a large favorite in this game in 2013 and Iím not sure what has changed to make people think this game will be different. Arizona plays well in their new stadium.
Cardinals 30, Chargers 20
3. Buffalo +6.5 Chicago (4 Stars) **WIN**
People expect great things out of the Bears offense this year, but that defense may be even worse than the woeful 2013 edition. They led the league is getting their ass kicked this preseason and the Bills always seem to produce more offense than one has any reason to expect.
Bills 24, Bears 28
4. Pittsburgh -7 Cleveland (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Clevelandís offense looked positively woeful in August and Pittsburgh found the fountain of youth in rookie Ryan Shazier. Pittsburgh has gotten off to slow starts that have killed their season and they understand getting this win will be critical for 2014.
Steelers 27, Browns 10
5. Jacksonville +10.5 Philadelphia (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Large home favorites havenít fared well in opening week and the Eagles look like the poster child of a large home favorite that wonít fare well in opening week. They may be worse this year, they face a bad team that can do nothing but get substantially better than last season, and they donít even play that well at home. The line would be fare last year, but I smell substantial opportunity here in 2014.
Jags 19, Eagles 26
6. Denver -7.5 Indianapolis (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Last year, Manning played awful in Indianapolis on a short week. Now, with a month to prepare and at the comfort of home, heíll do much better. While I donít expect much from Indyís defense, theyíll face a rebuilt Bronco defense thatíll be the story of the game. Kicker is a concern for Denver, but it shouldnít factor in this one. Iíll give the Colts 20 points but expect 10 to come too little, too late.
Broncos 34, Colts 20
7. Washington +3 Houston (3 Stars) LOSS
A year ago, this would be a tossup so the question is, ďWho has improved more?' I donít see how you donít answer that in Washingtonís favor. The offense is absolutely stacked with weapons. The defense looks improved (could it be worse?) and while much attention was drawn to RG3Ďs mediocre preseason, did you miss how great the defense did?
Redskins 23, Texans 20 (OT)
8. Baltimore -2 Cincinnati (3 Stars) LOSS
While the Bengals had the edge last year, I think the Ravens have reloaded and will come out significantly stronger this season. With the Bengals having lost their offensive coordinator, signs of the defense sliding back, and their Pro Bowl QB being on thin ice with the fans following the playoff debacle, I feel good about the Ravens starting things off right.
Baltimore 24, Bengals 19