Sunday, November 25, 2012

I Ching NFL Picks: Week 12: Early Games

Read the introduction to my Week One Picks for more information on what the I Ching is, how it works and how I use it:
My picks in bold. Lines taken from ESPN Pigskin Pick’em Game
Thanksgiving: 3-0 Last Week: 8-6
Season: 83-80

Sunday, November 25, 2012
1:00 PM EST
Vikings @ Bears -5.5
Hexagram 21: Devouring 噬嗑
Whenever you get blown out, people are quick to point out all your flaws and say how overrated you are. This is case with Chicago right now after they got manhandled by the 49ers last week. With their issues defending the run and protecting their quarterback, the Vikings appear on paper to be a dangerous matchup for the Bears. They have certainly looked vulnerable in their three losses, suffered at the hands of the Niners, Packers and Texans. Against all other teams, though they are 7-0 with a +129 point differential. They get Jay Cutler back and their defense has feasted on young quarterbacks at home all season. I think this will be the week the Bears remind the football public about all the good things they can do.
Raiders @ Bengals -7.5
Hexagram 39: Lame
In beating the Raiders, the Bengals would get the rare bonus of improving the 2nd round pick formerly of Oakland’s that they own in the next draft. And beating their former franchise quarterback that refused to play for the team and was subsequently shipped out for said picks is nice frosting on your victory cupcake as well. A year after the Raiders made a desperate trade, convinced they were a quarterback away from a playoff run, it is the Bengals that are eyeing the playoffs while Carson Palmer new team is looking at yet another rebuild. Oakland is coming into this game the losers of three straight and giving up 45 points a game over this stretch. I don’t see Carson’s homecoming going well for the silver and black.
 Steelers @ Browns +3.5
Hexagram 15: Modesty
The Browns have secretly been on a hot streak of late, for their standards anyway. They have won two out of their last five and lost the other three games, played against the Cowboys, Ravens and Colts, were lost by an average of just around 5 points a game. They have been consistently playing pretty good games, get their best player, Joe Haden, this week, and are playing host to the Steelers and their 3rd string quarterback. Getting the points and at home, Cleveland rocks.
Bills @ Colts -3.5
Hexagram 20: Observation
Watching these two teams lately, two observations become apparent and relevant to me. First, the Colts have struggled this year with teams that have good, physical offensive and defensive lines. Their losses to the Bears, Jets, and last week’s 35 point loss to the Pats stand out in my mind. The Bills, on the other hand, got disappointing early season results from their heralded defensive line. However, both their offensive and defensive lines have played better recently. Kyle Moore has given Buffalo a pass rushing threat opposite Mario Williams, who finally looks healthy and dynamic again. The defensive tackle pair of Dareus and Williams has been solid as well, and even Shawne Merriman has given them a boost in limited snaps. An improved defensive front and an explosive CJ Spiller fueled running game give the Bills the edge against the Colts.
Broncos @ Chiefs +10.5
Hexagram 49: Revolution
Beware picking against the Chiefs when they are giving this many points. They have faced spreads around ten points twice this season. In one they beat the Saints in the Super Dome and in the other they suffered an overtime loss in Pittsburgh. The Broncos are probably the hottest team in the league, and I expect them to leave Arrowhead with their sixth straight win, but the Chiefs generally play competitively exactly when everyone least expects it.
Seahawks @ Dolphins +2.5
Hexagram 51: Thunder
The Seahawks are not quite the team they are on the road that they are at home, but Miami has not been kind to its home team either. The ‘Fins are 1-3 at home, and taking out that Week 2 35-13 win over Oakland, their total point differential at home is -40. After a promising start, rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has thrown five interceptions in his last two game and looks to be overmatched against the elite Seattle secondary. The Dolphins have been struggling lately, and a well prepared and rested Seahawks team off their bye should take care of business.
Falcons @ Buccaneers +0.5
Hexagram 60: Celebration
Tampa Bay has the odd dis-stink-tion of simultaneously having the league’ best rush defense, and worst pass defense. The Bucs have won four straight and have one of the hottest offenses in the league, but I think this is where they hit the wall against the big brothers in the division. Atlanta is not 9-1 without reason, and I love taking them in basically a pick-em game. I think Matt Ryan will be able to exploit Tampa’s weaknesses in the secondary, and the Falcons will come away with their first really convincing win in about a month or so.
Titans @ Jaguars +2.5
Hexagram 54: Wedding the Maiden
With Blaine Gabbert on the IR and his season over, the Jaguars will have to proceed with Chad Henne at quarterback. Jacksonville fans should be thrilled with this outcome. The Jags have been a completely different team with Henne on the field and they should consider keeping him around beyond this season. After averaging around 14 points per game in their first nine games with Gabbert mostly at the helm, the offense exploded for 37 last week against the excellent defense of the Houston Texans when Henne came in for the injured starter early in the game. Furthermore, he has shown chemistry with first round pick Justin Blackmon after Gabbert was unable to get anything from him in the first half of the season. I think the Jaguars will play much better down the stretch and Henne will make them reconsider just who their quarterback of the future is.  

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