I Ching Week 9 NFL Picks
A couple weeks into picking games this season, I decided I needed some help. I was picking about half the games right, but I felt I needed a weapon of my own unique to me if I hoped to consistently beat point spreads. In my Week 3 Picks post (http://daodesam.blogspot.com/2011/09/week-three-nfl-picks-little-help-from-i.html), I wrote a little bit about the ancient Chinese book known as the I Ching or the Book of Changes and how it can be used to forecast any future event, even football games. That first week was my first one I picked over 50% right, getting 10 out of 16 games.
After this, I continued using the I Ching in making my prediction, although I haven’t mentioned it further since. The results so far are three straight weeks with over ten straight correct picks, followed by two disappointing weeks before having another week on the good side of .500 last weekend, it was 7-6, yes, but it’s still a win for Sam.
I’ve decided that I’m going to write the I Ching forecasts into my picks post every week. I’ve chose to do this for a number of reasons. The first is that it has become a part of my preparation along with watching as much football as possible and absorbing more research than I can ever hope to retain. So, I think my end product should reflect this side as well.
Second, I know it’s just flipping a bunch of random coins and reading fortune cookie fortunes, but it is still a tool that has been used to predict future change for thousands of years. I think it does give insight into problems to those who know how to use it, and, like anything else, the more you practice it, the better you get at it. If you do invest time and energy, you can improve any aspect of your life, even predicting the future!
The last reason is that I am generally lazy as sin and busy otherwise working on other posts for my non-football fan readers and trying to get a book ready for release by the end of the year. So, I don’t want to have to think of a new gimmick or topic and write a different one page intro every week. Most people probably just skip it any way and jump right to the games, so, let’s give the people what they want and get to the games!
Lines are taken from the ESPN Pig Skin Pick ‘Em Game and my pick is in BOLD.
Last Week 7-6
Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Falcons @ Colts +7.5
Hexagram 58: 兌Open Exchange. The characteristics of this hexagram are an open surface promoting interaction and exchange and stimulating, unhindered passage. Lucas Oil Stadium, the host venue, has been home to explosive, pass-happy offenses for the last decade. This time it favors the road team more than the Colts though, because Atlanta is also a dome-homed team and plays much better indoors. The Falcons went 9-2 playing under a roof last year, are 3-1 in domes this year, (1-2 playing outside) and were just starting to find their rhythm before having last week off. I like the Falcons to win by enough in a high scoring affair.
Jets @ Bills -1.5
Hexagram 10: 履 Treading. Here the trend is finding your way through slow step by step progress. If the Bills want to be a good team this year and not just early season pretenders that fade down the stretch as their schedule gets tougher, they have to win games like this at home. Treading would seem to favor the play style of the Jets, but their usual intimidating defense has not been as strong this year. The defense is 28th in the league in stopping the run. While still very good against the pass, they have been run on by everyone they have played. The Bills have a guy named Fred Jackson at running back. Fred is currently the league’s 4th leading rusher and is 2nd in average yards per rush if you don’t count Michael Vick and Demarco Murray who have far less carries than the rest of the leaders. The Bills are undefeated at home and will beat the Jets one Fitzpatrick hand off to Jackson at a time on Sunday.
Browns @ Texans -10.5
Hexagram 38: 聧 Polarizing. These two things are connected but should not be joined. They are two contrasting, contrary and exclusive forces meeting. It represents two polar opposites in opposition. The Texans are now 5-3 and look like one of the most balanced teams in the league. Despite injuries to their two best players, they already have a jugular force grip on the AFC South. Meanwhile, the Browns haven’t scored 20 points in a game since Week 2 and they will need to get to that number to have a chance, a chance of being within ten that is! Burn on you, Cleveland. Just call me LeSam.
Seahawks @ Cowboys -12.5
Hexagram 44: 姤 Copulation. Here we have primal forces coming together in an intense encounter in which they are merged into one through gravity and magnetism. The Cowboys first five games were all very close affairs. Last week, they were blown out on Sunday night by the Eagles. The week before that though, they hosted the Rams and beat them 34-7, the exact same score they lost to the Eagles by. The Cowboys have all the pieces there to be a good team; an elite pass rusher in Demarcus Ware, 12 sacks through seven games, an emerging young running back in Demarco Murray, a quarterback who is still above average despite the fact that God apparently hates him, and playmakers on both sides of the ball. And this is from a Redskins fan. On this day anyway, I say they put it all together and beat a bad team that’s even worse when not playing at home, and Tony Romo will make sweet, sweet love to JerryLand.
Dolphins @ Chiefs -6.5
Hexagram 56: 旅 The Wanderer. The wanderer is a stranger far from home that mingles and disturbs the status quo. Last week, this was the forecast for the Cardinals/ Ravens game and led me to go against my better judgment and instincts and pick Arizona. After being up by 20 at half, the red birds eventually lost by 3, but still easily covered and scared the collective living shit out of the greater Baltimore area. The Dolphins are proof that no one is trying to “Suck for Luck,” purposely tanking for the rights to draft Stanford wunderkind quarterback Andrew Luck. Last week, they had every reason to not show up on the road against a physical Giants team, but instead they played their best game yet in a three point loss. No player or coach is guaranteed their job next year, so no one directly involved in the games will ever try to lose for draft position. The NBA is a little different because players have (or had anyway) guaranteed contracts and one player can alter the fate of a franchise much more quickly and directly. The Dolphins are better than their record, and I don’t trust Matt Cassell to beat anyone by more than a touchdown.
Buccaneers @ Saints -7.5
Hexagram 7: 师 The Leader. The leader organizes crowds and chaos into functional units. He is a uniting force and knows how to exploit his strengths and hide his weak points. After a shocking loss last week to the previously winless Rams, I say Drew Brees takes the team on his back and avenges that embarrassing loss and their last loss to Tampa in Florida just three weeks ago. The Buccaneers’ defense is in the bottom third of the league and won’t have what it will take to slow down Drew Brees and his Saints at home coming off a bad loss.
49ers @ Redskins +3.5
Hexagram 61: 中孚 Inner Truth. This is a direct quote from Ritsema and Karcher’s I Ching translation and text: “This hexagram describes your situation in terms of the relation between your inner core and the circumstances of your life. It emphasizes that brining your central concerns and your life situation into a sincere and reliable accord is the adequate way to handle it.” The message to me is clear. I have picked the Redskins every week mostly just on my rampant, unashamed homerism. Our offense is downright inept and the 49ers have one of the best and meanest defenses in the land. The West Coast team coming east for an early game and a too small point spread is begging me to take my home team, but I see the trap. I can still love the Redskins and root for them while still be objective about their current stat. We won’t be able to run on them and we can’t throw on anybody. Last Sunday, the Redskins got shut out and my brother wrecked his car during the game, and I don’t have much higher hopes for this Sunday. At least last week the game was in Canada so it doesn’t really count.
Sunday 4:05 PM EST
Bengals @ Titans -2.5
Hexagram 56: 旅 The Wanderer. The mysterious traveler shows up again, and I can’t understand why the visitors are the underdogs in Tennessee. The Bengals have one of the best defenses in the league and are riding a four game winning streak. Both of these teams own unexpected winning records, but I think the Titans are the more fraudulent of the two. Their play has varied wildly, while the Bengals play their ball control style very consistently. The real test will be next week, when the 6-2 Bengals will host the Steelers and we will see just how for real they are.
Broncos @ Raiders -7.5
Hexagram 22: 賁Adorning. In this circumstance, outward presentation and displays of valor are important factors. Passion, eagerness, bravery and embellishments are characteristics of adorning. One can’t help think of Tim Tebow. There has never been a player who divided people so fiercely while having so little impact thus far on the field. Either he’s a super star in the making or he’s a bum who’s propped up because of his college career and religious stance. The reality is that neither of these things is true. He is a young quarterback who can do some unique things on the field, but will never be a prototypical pocket passer. He could conceivably be a good Jake Plummer/ Brad Johnson type game manager on a very good team, but those are not the present circumstances. I think the Tebow drama will take another drastic turn Sunday, but the game result will be more about the Raiders’ own quarterback problems. Carson Palmer says he knows the playbook, is in shape and is familiar with his teammates only a couple weeks out from his semi-retirement. We’ll find out Sunday, but I think he will struggle.
Sunday 4:15 PM EST
Packers @ Chargers +5.5
Hexagram 52: 艮 Boundary. Limits, obstacles, and enclosement characterize boundary. The influences are stilling and quieting. It’s hard to pick against the perfect Packers, but they have to have an off game at some point. Maybe the bye week gave them their first chance to take a breath, look around and realize how good they are since they won the Super Bowl. Maybe it’s finally gone to their heads a little. The Chargers have underperformed their talent level so far and need a few big wins at home if they want to reclaim their division.
Rams @ Cardinals -4.5
Hexagram 21: 噬嗑 Biting Through. Biting through describes a situation where gnawing and scratching will make the difference. Small persistent effort and winning the little individual battles on the field will make the difference in this game between two teams with losing records. Rams running back Stephen Jackson is gnawing through personified. I have always enjoyed watching him play because of how obvious it is that he is trying his hardest at all times. One stat reflects this. Jackson has seen eight man fronts, meaning the defense stacks the line of scrimmage with defenders to stop the run, pretty often due to the inconsistency of the quarterback play for the Rams this year. But Jackson still averages over 4 yards a carry even when the defenses are geared toward stopping him. His tenacious effort helped will them to a huge upset last week and I think they will get their second straight win through him Sunday.
Giants @ Patriots -8.5
Hexagram 53: 漸Infiltration. In this situation the change comes gradually, stealthily penetrating and permeating throughout until it overwhelms the whole system. Sounds a lot like the Patriots’ passing game. The Steelers shut down New England last weekend by playing man coverage on the Pats’ receivers and letting Troy Polamalu roam the field making plays. The Giants don’t have the personnel in their secondary to employ this strategy effectively, and Tom Brady will be content to dink and dunk them to death. Even the best pass rush in the league can be taken out of the game by a quarterback that can release the ball before it has a chance to get there.
Sunday 8:20 PM EST
Ravens @ Steelers -3.5
Hexagram 49: 革 Molting. Whenever games are played between bitter rivals, emotions run high for both the players and the fans. Here the I Ching is telling us to strip away all the feelings and emotion and look at the facts. Take away the Week One beat down the Ravens gave the Steelers. Forget about all the previous games they’ve played against each other. Forget about all the big hits and trash talk in their past. If you take all that away, both teams still have elite defenses, but the Steelers are much more dynamic on offense. Playing at home and out for revenge, I’ll take the Steelers. Did you realize their 6-2? Didn’t they have a terrible start? It seems so long ago now.
Monday 8:30 PM EST
Bears @ Eagles- 6.5
Hexagram 4: 蒙 Deception. Here the coming change is clouded in concealment and obscurity. The Eagles are a team shrouded in such uncertainty. Since starting 1-4, the offense showed signs of life in two much needed wins over NFC East rivals the last two weeks. Maybe about halfway into the season, the assembled super team components are starting to come together. If this happens, it could mean trouble for the rest of the league in the 2nd half of the schedule. Vick loves to put on a show in nationally televised games and I expect him and all his weapons to be too much for the Bears to handle.