Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Ching Week 14 NFL Picks

For a little on what the I Ching is and how I use it in my system click here :
Lines are taken from the ESPN Pig Skin Pick ‘Em Game and my picks are in BOLD.
Last Week 6-10
Season: 104-91
Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Texans @ Bengals -3.5
Hexagram 35: Moving Forward. The Texans continue to march on, despite being on their 3rd starting quarterback. They have won six straight games mainly on the strength of their defense and running game. The rushing totals in their six straight wins are 222, 156, 261, 185, 88, and 162. That’s over a thousand yards rushing in just six games (1,074) and averages out to 179 per game. The Bengals have the league’s 6th ranked rush defense, but this is more a testament to their early season dominance against bad teams and does not tell the story of their defense the last month. They only allowed 100 yards rushing to the opposing team once (Week 2 loss the Broncos) in their 6-2 start to the season. However, they have allowed teams to go over the century mark against them in all of the last four games, going 1-3 during this stretch. I see the Texans’ running game marching on to another win Sunday.
Vikings @ Lions -7.5
Hexagram 7: The Infantry. Both of these teams are dealing with injury problems. The Vikings might be without their starting rookie quarterback and their star tailback on Sunday. Both Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are questionable to play. The Lions have their own issues, with five of their defensive starters questionable, doubtful or out for this game. Detroit should be in the better position to take advantage of their opponent’s weak points. Minnesota won’t have the offensive firepower to make the depleted Lions defense pay and the Vikings have issues of their own on that side of the ball as well.   The Vikings’ pass defense is ranked 26th in the league, their secondary has lost most of its opening day starters to injured reserve and even Tim Tebow was able to throw on them last week. This all bodes well for Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson; and very bad for the Vikings.
Colts @ Ravens -16.5
Hexagram 6: Conflict. A week after beating the new team in their franchise’s old city, the Ravens now have to face the old team from their current city. There are still bad feelings between the people of Baltimore and the Colts. After the franchise left Charm City for Indiana in the middle of the night back in 1984, Baltimore fans had to wait 12 years until professional football was back. I’ve heard some people say this week that this game will lack the usual intensity of a Colts vs. Ravens matchup, because of the sorry state that Indy is in, but I doubt it. The Ravens know they can’t have any more slipups against bad teams if they want to hold off the Steelers for the division crown and they have rediscovered their running game during their recent three game winning streak. After running the ball just 12 times in their Week 10 loss at Seattle, the Ravens have responded by running the ball 118 times in their last three games capped off by a 55 attempts for 290 yards on the ground in their win at Cleveland last week. The Colts are ranked 30th in the league against the run. Expect a huge day for Ray Rice and the Ravens and for coach Harbaugh to not being above rubbing it in a little against Baltimore’s suddenly unattractive ex.
Chiefs @ Jets -8.5
Hexagram 62: 小过 Small Passing. The Chiefs’ last two games are a 13-9 loss to the Steelers and a 10-3 win over the Bears. They have been able to stay in the games by playing great defense and keeping their offense very conservative. The Jets are on a two game winning streak and are in the thick of the playoff hunt, but the quality of their play has been pretty poor for their standards for the past month. After two bad losses to the Patriots and Broncos, they have beaten the Bills and the Redskins, but without being totally convincing in either game. Both games were still in question all the way to the final quarter. The Jets might do enough to win and keep their playoff hopes alive, but I think the game will be a lot closer than nine points. (Let’s go Dexter McCluster! I believe in you, Dex!)
Patriots @ Redskins +7.5
Hexagram 38: Running Counter To (Logic?) Yes, I’m taking my Redskins in this game. I could make all kinds of arguments for it: this hexagram portends the reversal of trends and for the unexpected to happen, Rex Grossman averaging almost 300 passing yards a game in his last three against a bad New England pass defense, the Redskins having averaged over 20 points in these three contests and all were against good defenses; Cowboys, Seahawks and Jets, but it ultimately comes down to me just wanting this game so bad. My favorite family of Patriot fans is taking me to the game, and they are fully expecting to witness the destruction of my beloved home team by their guys. I’m praying that doesn’t  happen.
Buccaneers @ Jaguars +1.5
Hexagram 59: Dispersing.  The attrition of this Jaguars team is reaching a critical level. They have fired their head coach, cut their starting quarterback on the eve of the season, and have suffered a rash of injuries that has crippled their surprisingly good defense. Their defense was what kept them in games earlier this year, but now that unit will be hardly recognizable on the field Sunday. They will be without their two starting defensive ends, putting one, Aaron Kampman on IR this week, plus their two top corners and a starting safety. Their linebacker play has been excellent all year, but the Monday night loss to San Diego showed just how vulnerable this Jacksonville defense is now. The Buccaneers have been disappointing this year, but I think they are the better team of the two right now.
Falcons @ Panther +2.5
Hexagram 22: Building Energy. The Panthers are on a two game winning streak. That might not sound overly impressive, but those two straight wins match their total for the first ten games of this season and the entire 2010 campaign as well. It’s evident that things are starting to turn around in Carolina, and the primary reason is rookie quarterback Cam Newton. Last week, he almost completed the unheard of touchdown trinity; a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown, but fell a yard and half short of pay dirt on an ingeniously designed quarterback screen. Oh, and he broke the NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, too. The Falcons run defense has been good all year, ranked 3rd in the league, but really good rushing teams have still had some success against, as seen by the Houston game last week. The Panthers certain qualify as such a team, at 5th in the league in rushing, and that offense is one that Atlanta will have trouble stopping on Sunday.
Saints @ Titans +3.5
Hexagram 50: Bubbling.  Lots of people see this as an upset special for the Titans. The Saints have a comfortable lead on the NFC South. They haven’t played a game outside a dome since their October 16th loss at Tampa Bay. Chris Johnson is just starting to find his stride and the Saints defense won’t be up to task in stopping him. I don’t think so. The Saints’ strengths on offense aren’t limited to Drew Brees and the potentially record breaking season he’s having. The Saints are also ranked 8th in rushing the ball, they are first in passing, and have enjoyed very good play for their offensive line. Even the Saints passing game has moved to feature their tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Darren Sproles more than the receivers. The short and intermediate routes they run won’t be as susceptible to bad weather affecting them. I don’t see any signs of the Saints slowing down this week.
Eagles @ Dolphins -3.5
Hexagram 56: The Wanderer. The Wanderer always comes into a situation to disturb the status quo and sow seeds for chaos. Every time I have pulled this hexagram the road team has covered and won in most cases. The wanderer this week is Michael Vick, back from injury after missing a few games due to broken ribs. I’ve noted before in picking the Vince Young led Eagles over the Giants a few weeks ago how the Eagles have done the opposite of what people have expected of them all season. Miami is currently one of the hottest teams in the league, but the Eagles still have a far more talented roster. I say the Dolphins come crashing back to Earth and Vick and the Eagles soar all over them Sunday.
Sunday 4:05 PM EST
Bears @ Broncos -3.5
Hexagram 14: 大有 Great possessing. At this point, I gotta just keep rolling with Tim Tebow until he loses. This is a direct quote from Hexagram 14’s reading: “All things come to the man who is modest and kind in a high position.” That couldn’t sound more fitting for Tim’s current condition. The Broncos are coming home for this game after winning two straight on the road to extend their winning streak to five. They also get rookie linebacker Von Miller back after he missed last week’s game due to minor surgery on his thumb. Miller’ play has been overshadowed by Tebow, but the Broncos defense has played just as vital a part in engineering their current hot streak and the rookie of the year front runner is one of the big reasons behind its emergence. He’s made over 50 tackles without missing one, has 10.5 sacks and 7 more tackles for loss. His dominance has led some to say that he not only deserves to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, but be in the conversations for Defensive Player of the Year and even MVP. ( This article claims that according to their stats, he rushes the passer more often and is more efficient at doing it than anyone else in the league. Miller and crew vs. a Bears’ offense that scored just three points, at home, against the Chiefs, last week, plus the magic of Tebow spells trouble for the Bears.
49ers @ Cardinals +3.5
Hexagram 37: 家人The Family. When these teams met three weeks ago in San Francisco, the 49ers beat the Cardinals soundly, winning 23-7. There were, however some encouraging signs in this game for Arizona. The Cardinals trailed just 9-0 at halftime and were competitive in the game until giving up two touchdowns in a three minute span at the end of the 3rd quarter. They also held Frank Gore to just a 3.7 yard average on his 24 carries. That loss to the Niners is Arizona’s only loss in their last five games. Their offense will be better this time around with Kevin Kolb and Beanie Wells healthy and their run defense has continued to improve, limiting Demarco Murray to just 38 yards on 12 carries in last week’s overtime win.  This is the week the 49ers would be most prone to slipping up on the road against a division rival with next week’s Monday night matchup against Pittsburgh looming on the horizon.
Sunday 4:15 PM EST
Bills @ Chargers -6.5
Hexagram 4: Obscurity. Both of these teams watched their seasons unravel after starting the season 4-1. The Bills have lost five straight games and the Chargers ended their own six game losing streak last Monday night against Jacksonville. The Bills last two games have been more encouraging, losing by 4 away at the Jets and losing by 6 to Tennessee at home last Sunday. The fact that Maurice Jones-Drew was able to keep the Jags in the game with virtually no help from his quarterback for the first half of the game against the Chargers is discouraging. The Bills are better offensively and defensively than Jacksonville, and I don’t think Phillip Rivers’ struggles this season are over yet, especially not against a Bills’ defense that is top five in the league with 16 interceptions.
Raiders @ Packers -11.5
Hexagram 12: Obstruction. The Packers will probably improve to 13-0 Sunday, but I think they will have trouble covering this spread and I do see the potential for a Raiders upset. The Raiders, at 7-5 are tied with the Broncos for the AFC West lead, obviously need this game more than the Packers. Also, the Packers’ problems on defense have allowed good teams to stay relatively close to them. In their six wins against teams with a winning record, they have won by an average point differential of 11.3 points. In their six wins over teams with a losing record, they have outscored their opponents by 14.7 points per game. That’s not a huge gap, but it makes all the difference that matters with this spread. Plus, I think the Raiders matchup with the Packers as well as just about any team can. They will be able to run the ball with Michael Bush and keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline for long stretches of the game. They get after the quarterback, top five in the league in sacking the opposing quarterback, and the Green Bay offensive line has struggled to protect their quarterback, ranking near the bottom ten in sacks allowed. I say the Raiders keep it close in Green Bay, and maybe prove to be the roadblock between the Packers and their perfect season.
Sunday 8:20 PM EST
Giants @ Cowboys -3.5
Hexagram 19: Approaching. Despite their overtime loss to the Cardinals last week, I still think the Cowboys are rounding into their best form at the best time possible. The Cardinals always play them tough in Arizona, and they are a far more complete team than their only rival for the NFC East title. The Giants are losers of four straight and I don’t see them getting up for a big game again after coming so close to knocking off the Packers last week. One unsung hero of the Cowboys is rookie tackle Tyron Smith. He has been as good at protecting his quarterback as any tackle in the league in his first season.  The overall improvement in the play of the offensive line is one big difference between recent disappointing Cowboys teams and this year’s edition. If they can establish the running game and neutralize the Giants’ dangerous defensive line, it will be all smiles in Jerry Land Sunday night.
Monday 8:30 PM EST
Rams @ Seahawks -6.5
Hexagram 26: 大畜 Great Taming. The identity of the St. Louis starting quarterback will not known until closer to the game, but with Sam Bradford and A.J. Feely both not practicing this week, it appears Tom Brandstater may make his first NFL start. There is maybe no worse place in the NFL to make your first NFL start in than Seattle. The Seahawks play better at home, have a raucous crowd of fans that make a ton of noise and have enough of a defense to make life difficult for whoever is leading the Rams inept offense.

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