As we hit the halfway point of the regular season, contender/pretender season is fully underway.
Finally over the last two weeks, the madness of upsets in the NFL have stopped. Contender/pretender season is very big, because the teams that play best in the middle of the season will be better set for competing for a playoff spot than ones who started hot but have fallen back to Earth. Last week was yet another improved week for me (clearly I’m a contender, not a pretender), as I went 11-2 straight up, and 8-4-1 against the spread. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):
Dolphins (+3) at Ravens
- Ravens 40, Dolphins 0– I’m not going to say this made no sense, because these teams are very inconsistent, especially the Dolphins. However, it’s pretty crazy that a team that had won 3 in a row gets absolutely crushed by a team that had looked horrible 4 of the previous 5 weeks.
Vikings (-9.5) at Browns (London)
Raiders (+2.5) at Bills
- Bills 34, Raiders 14- I’m not going to call the Raiders pretenders, because I don’t think they would have this record or being playing games like this if Derek Carr didn’t get hurt Week 4. However, for once, I think the Bills are finally contenders this year to make the AFC playoffs.
Colts at Bengals (-10.5)
- Bengals 24, Colts 23- The Bengals are not a bad team, but they are pretenders this year. The Colts have improved since Week 1’s blowout loss to the Rams, but may be in a situation where keeping Andrew Luck on the sideline this year will be better for the team’s future. This being in terms of health, and a great draft pick that could be traded for a good haul to a team looking to acquire a franchise QB.
Chargers (+7) at Patriots
- Patriots 21, Chargers 13- Just missed on this one. While the Patriots keep winning, they still do not seem as dominant this season. All of these close wins could eventually turn the Patriots dominant again come playoff time, but I think they are in a better position to be upset in a home playoff game than they have been in awhile.
Bears (+9) at Saints
Falcons at Jets (+5)
- Falcons 25, Jets 20– It should be noted than this spread ended up moving to 6.5, but I’ll still consider it a push based on when I made the pick.
49ers at Eagles (-12.5)
Panthers (+2.5) at Buccaneers
Texans (+5.5) at Seahawks
Cowboys (-2) at Redskins
Steelers (-3) at Lions
Broncos at Chiefs (-7)
2017 Straight-Up: 76-43, 2017 vs. Spread: 58-58-3
The second half of the NFL season is here.
Bills (-3) at Jets
- The Bills for once are on the good side of the wagons, and not circling them. I don’t think they will blowout the Jets, who have been playing everyone close, but I think they continue their great season and win and cover against the Jets on Thursday night.
Falcons (+1) at Panthers
- I really have no clue who’s going to win this game, as the spread is so close, and it is not clear if these teams are contenders or pretenders. However, my gut tells me the Falcons in this one, because while I don’t think a win means they will turn their season around, I think they are a slightly better team than the Panthers.
Colts at Texans (-12.5)
- The Texans may be the greatest 3-4 team of all time. While their defense is not as strong as last season, their offense has been on another planet. 12.5 points is a big spread to give to a team with a losing record, but I think the Texans offense goes off against the Colts defense to win and cover.
Bengals at Jaguars (-5)
- The Jaguars are in a weird situation this week, as something has to give. They are undefeated in odd numbered weeks. However, they are winless in both even numbered games, and in games in Jacksonville. I think the latter gives, and the odd week Jaguars crush the Bengals at home following their bye week.
Buccaneers at Saints (-7)
- The Saints have won 5 in a row now, and are clearly tending upward of late. The Bucs are a pretender this season, and have definitely been trending downward. I think the Saints continue this at home and easily win and cover over the Bucs.
Rams (-3.5) at Giants
- These two teams had opposite projections coming into the season, and both have played opposite of these projections. With both teams coming off a bye, it will be interesting to see if these teams will move in the direction they were projected during the second half of the season. However, I don’t think this will be the case. The Giants defense will keep the young Rams offense in check in the first half, like they did against the Seahawks, but the Rams will pull away in the second half to win and cover.
Broncos (+8.5) at Eagles
- Just like the Saints-Bucs matchup, this matchup features two teams who have been going in complete opposite directions of late. While he’s not very good, I think Brock Osweiler will show that he is a better option than Trevor Siemian, and the Broncos veteran defense will be a tough test for young Carson Wentz. However, I think the Eagles are much better, and will pull this one out despite not covering.
Ravens at Titans (-5)
- If the Ravens are back on track after last weeks great win, I think they have a great chance in this one. However, I don’t think this will be the case, and the Titans will be the team getting back on track following their bye. The Ravens will fall back to Earth and the Titans will win and cover at home.
Cardinals (-2) at 49ers
- This Cardinals team looks much different than the one that took the field early in the season, and in a few weeks, we may be saying the same about the 49ers. However, we still won’t be seeing Jimmy Garoppolo out their for the 49ers for at least another week. I think the 49ers first win comes with their potential future starter as the starter, meaning the Cardinals will win and cover this week, and the calls for Jimmy G to start will begin in Week 10.
Redskins at Seahawks (-7.5)
- While the Seahawks are not as dominant as they once were, they have improved since the beginning of the season and are still one of the top teams in the NFC. The Redskins have came close to covering of late, but have fallen short in the end. I think the same happens this week, as the Redskins will stay in the game, but the Seahawks will pull away late to cover.
Chiefs (-1) at Cowboys
- If Zeke somehow plays, I will be changing my pick. But, unfortunately, the corrupt NFL does not seem to be allowing that to happen this time. I’ll save all of my arguments on the greatest crime in NFL history. The Chiefs are no Patriots of years past, but they have been the best team in the AFC this season. I think their offense plays great against the Cowboys defense, especially Kareem Hunt. I think the Cowboys offense will do fine without Zeke, but the Chiefs will win a close one that leaves us thinking the Cowboys could have run if Roger Goodell was not a fucking idiot. Also, the Cowboys crushed the Niners the only time I picked against them versus the spread this season, so I’m hoping for the same this coming Sunday in Tony Romo’s first ever call of a Cowboy game.
Raiders (-3) at Dolphins
- As bad as the Raiders Week 8 was, it does not even compare to how bad the Dolphins was. The Raiders have struggled too much on the road to call them a road lock, but I think that may be the case here. The Raiders should have no problem winning and covering over Matt Moore and the Dolphins.
Lions (-2.5) at Packers
- The Lions have only won once in Green Bay since 1992, but that won’t matter in this one. The Packers are that bad without Aaron Rodgers under center. The Lions have probably been punching themselves in the face all week after all of their missed opportunities against the Steelers, and I think they will take better advantages of some of theses opportunities to win and cover in Green Bay.
That’s it for this week, be back for Week 10. Will the Jaguars win in odd numbered Week 9, or will they “play by the rules” and lose their even numbered 8th game?