The Degenerate: Week 14 Preview and Thursday Pick, Cleveland Rocks! (not really)

Ugly. There’s no other way to describe the picks last week. 0-3, loser on the Eagles/Seahawks UNDER 43.5, loser on the Bears -7 and loser on the Chargers/Jaguars UNDER 39. Ouch.

The NBA is here! And so is Phil E. Moose!

Well, I guess the good news is that the NBA lockout is over. I finally get to see some basketball again. Yes, I actually am one of the few (the proud) Sixers season ticket holders. I only have a 10 game plan, mainly because I have a wife and kids and trying to squeeze in a full season of games probably wouldn’t be a good thing for my marriage.

I don’t personally write about hoops but if you’re looking for Sixers coverage, podcasts, fan reactions (and over-reactions) and just general goofiness about the Sixers and the NBA, then SpikeEskin.com is your spot. In fact, check these recent posts out to whet your appetite:

And Spike is hosting a #EndOfLockout party on Friday night at Chickie’s and Pete’s. Details here…The (Un)Official NBA End Of Lockout Party For Sixers Fans

So please come back and visit us during the NBA season here at SpikeEskin.com, I’m sure you’ll find something to make you laugh or teach you something about the Sixers or the NBA that you didn’t already know.

Ok, enough about the round ball, back to football… we did pretty good in Week 12 going 3-1, but last week was a mess, unlucky 13. Our picks went 0-3. And we dropped to 16-15 for the season, still barely above .500. But we’re back this week looking ahead to the Eagles at Dolphins and breaking down and making a pick in the Thursday Night matchup between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Let’s get it on! (do people still say that?)

Week 13 Revisited

0-3? I gotta do a better job.

Last week couldn’t have gone worse. We had a late 4th quarter pick-six in the Eagles/Seahawks game to kill the UNDER, a huge early injury to Matt Forte that torpedoed the Bears pick, and the Jaguars, well the Jaguars forgot that they had the #2 defense in the NFL and they got blasted by the Chargers 38-14, putting the game well over 39 points (we had UNDER).

Not a good week by any stretch, and in fact it was our worst week of the season. But you have hot streaks (like our 8-2 run earlier this season), and you have cold streaks (like this one). The only remedy is to plug away and keep going.

Thankfully this is all for amusement purposes only, so we aren’t really losing any money, right? Right. Good, now let’s move on to the Eagles preview and Thursday pick.

Week 14 Hometown Preview: Eagles @ Miami Dolphins

Opening Line: Eagles -3, O/U 44
Current Line: Eagles -3, O/U 45
Game Trends (via Covers.com): Eagles: UNDER is 7-3 last 10 games on grass; Dolphins: UNDER is 9-1-1 last 11 overall.

Both teams come into this game at 4-8. Eagles are 3-3 on the road, Dolphins are 3-3 at home. Miami has covered their last 6 games, and have won 3 of their last 4. The Eagles, well we know about them. They’ve lost 4 of the last 5, both straight up and against the spread.

Is this season over yet?

But Mike Vick is back! Mike Vick is back? Should we be happy? I guess he’s a better option than Vince Young, but the way the offense is playing lately, anything other than Shady carrying the ball 50 times would not make me confident in our chances of winning.

The Dolphins have really turned it around after starting 0-7, they’ve won 4 of their last 5. Not really in playoff contention, but a huge improvement.

This game opened at Eagles -3 and hasn’t moved. The total did go up a point to 45. That is interesting, considering the Miami defense is pretty good. I guess that is a reaction to the Vick news. But the Dolphins have only given up more than 14 points once in their last five games. That’s not good news for the Eagles who have had trouble getting the ball in the endzone in recent weeks.

Will Vick’s return help? Maybe. Are the Dolphins only winning because they’ve played weak teams the past 5 weeks? I don’t know about that, they played Dallas tight on the road and knocked off the Raiders in the past two weeks.

At first glance, I’m thinking the Eagles laying 3 or less could be a nice play, and maybe lean to the UNDER. But in Friday’s post I’ll break the game down further and make a pick.

Thursday Night Football

TNF Bet #1: (a.k.a the “I think it’s pronounced Cleve-LOL-and” pick): Steelers -14 over Browns

We see you, Mike Tomlin.

I realize that we’re all busy voting for the new Sixers mascot (Phil E. Moose FTW, by the way) so let’s get right to the point… the Cleveland Browns are not a good football team. They come into this game at 4-8, 1-4 on the road, 3-7-2 against the spread. And their QB is Colt McCoy. Well, it might be Colt McCoy. McCoy has a knee injury, but still looks to be starting on Thursday night. But no matter who is behind center tonight, I think the Steelers are going to win, and win big.

Last week against the Ravens the Browns gave up 290 yards rushing. Yes, you read it right 290 yards rushing. So I think RB Rashard Mendenhall is a safe start in fantasy this week.

The Steelers are running on all cylinders lately, 9-3 on the season, winners of seven of their last eight games and in a fight for the top seed in the AFC. So they have no reason to take their foot off the pedal in this one. Big Ben dominates the Browns, 13-1 lifetime against Cleveland. And Pittsburgh is winning games at home by an average of 19 points this season.

It could be a long night for Colt McCoy

Cleveland is struggling lately, only averaging 12 points a game over their last seven games. I mean, last week their top receiver was Peyton Hillis, with 52 yards receiving on one catch. I really don’t see how the Browns will move the ball enough to stay in the game. Steelers LB James Harrison is probably licking his lips right now. He got 3 sacks last week, and this week could be more of the same.

From a handicapping perspective, this game could play out like the Seattle game in Week 2, where Pittsburgh was laying 13.5. In that one, the Steelers dominated from the start and didn’t let the Seahawks do anything on offense (31 yards rushing? 133 yards passing?). They jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead and never looked back. They knocked off Seattle 24-0 in that one, and this one could be the same blueprint. Get an early lead, clamp down on defense, and cruise to a comfortable win.

One team is motivated, is at home and needs a win to stay in the race for homefield advantage in the playoffs, while the other is just riding out the final weeks of a disappointing season.

Here are some trends that I found that really jumped out at me. I don’t usually bet based on trends, but these look pretty good for the Steelers:

Cleveland:

  • 1-7 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
  • 4-16-2 ATS in their last 22 games on grass.
  • 3-11-2 ATS in their last 16 games overall.

Pittsburgh:

  • 10-4-1 ATS in the last 15 vs. Cleveland
  • 8-2 ATS in their last 10 vs. AFC North.
  • 7-2 ATS in their last 9 home games.

Harrison will be ready to roll

I think Big Ben and the passing game will be able to move the ball, but the real action will come when RB Rashard Mendenhall gets the ball. I don’t see any reason why  James Harrison and the Steelers D can’t shut down, possibly shut out, the struggling Browns offense. Colt McCoy is banged up with a bad knee, so that makes his job of eluding the Steelers pass rush even harder tonight. The Pittsburgh running game and defense will do their thing and the Steelers should win this one without a problem.

How about Pittsburgh wins 34-10.

The line is 14 right now, you need to try to get this at -14 or less, even if that means buying a half point or a point. Laying 14.5 could open you up for a backdoor cover. So watch that hook!

The Line: Steelers -14, O/U 39.5
The Pick: Steelers -14
Game trends (via Covers.com): Steelers: 10-4-1 ATS last 15 vs. Browns.

Let’s get this one and keep our head above .500.

 

Fantasource

 

 

 

Season Record: 16-15. You can see all my picks for the 2011 season documented here.

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