Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Ching NFL Picks: Week 16

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
Sunday, December 23rd, 2012
1:00 PM EST
Saints @ Cowboys -3.5
Hexagram 45: Massing Together
New Orleans is a scary spoiler team to any playoff hopeful on their schedule. They looked to have packed in after three straight losses, but responded by destroying any remaining postseason hopes of their division rival last week in their 41-0 demolition of the Buccaneers. The Cowboys’ playoff hopes have been on life support for some time now, but three straight wins has them in the thick of the hunt. I feel like they’ve been just hanging on for a while now, winning those three by a combined nine points, and they will be in trouble if they take underestimate this very dangerous Saints team.
Titans @ Packers -12.5
Hexagram 42: Advancing
Green Bay’s 6-1 home record would seem to suggest that they have been dominant at Lambeau this year, but the average margin of those games is just 6.4 points a game in their favor. They have yet to beat a team by more than two touchdowns at home despite such juggernauts as Arizona, Jacksonville, and New Orleans among their visitors. The Packers have managed to beat bad teams at home this year, but they have rarely blown them out.
Colts @ Chiefs +6.5
Hexagram 32: Duration
Halfway through this season, I had to come up with a rule to keep myself from betting on the Chiefs every week. They usually kept games close against good teams, but always lost embarrassingly in more even seeming matchups. Thus, whenever the spread is within seven points, I go against them. Whenever they are getting more than a touchdown, I’m allowed to pick them. I haven't stuck to this religiously, but I should have. This Chief maxim has held true in every KC game save one since Week 10 with the one exception being the Week 13 game that immediately followed the Javon Belcher tragedy. At this point in the year, it's hard to go against that.
Bills @ Dolphins -4.5
Hexagram 50: The Cauldron
Miami hasn’t been able to do many things consisently effective on the football field this year, but the two things they do best is stop the run and get after the passer. Buffalo has only won two games away from home this year and they are coming off a 33 point loss at home, to a Seattle team that also stops the run and rushes the passer well. The Seahawks are a much better all around team than the Dolphins, but if they can frustrate the Bills on the ground, I don’t think Ryan Fitzpatrick will respond well to the constant pressure from Cameron Wake and crew.
Chargers @ Jets -2.5
Hexagram 22: Outward Appearance
The way the Jets have looked lately, they don’t deserve to be favorites over any other NFL team. The Chargers have certainly had a disappointing season as well, but they have a young, underrated defense that plays hard. This will be no easy first assignment for Greg McElroy. Another positive for taking San Diego: If either team wins 2-0, you win the bet.
Redskins @ Eagles +4.5
Hexagram 24: Duplication
Washington’s playoff surge began with 31-6 win over Philadelphia. They have won four more since then coming into this game. I see no reason not to expect a similar result to this game. The Redskins defense has gotten progressively better over this time, and their number one ranked rushing game has been unstoppable. This team is playing too hard, too together and too focused to blow this game.
Bengals @ Steelers -4.5
Hexagram 17: Following Along
I’m not going to trust Pittsburgh again until I see their offense play well with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm. They haven’t really had an impressive performance since their 24-20 win over the Giants the game before their starting QB sustained his injury. The offense hasn’t looked in sync and Big Ben hasn’t looked quite himself since returning from injury. Cincinnati has been playing lately like they want that spot in the playoffs, winners of five out of their last six, and I think they are a better team all around right now than their black and yellow rivals.
Rams @ Buccaneers -3.5
Hexagram 61: Inner Trust 中浮
The question of this game is which team will respond better to getting their playoff hopes dashed against a rock last week. St. Louis and Tampa Bay both are playing just for pride at this point. In this scenario, I like the Jeff Fisher coached team vs. the team that has a recent history of quitting on their coach. I know Greg Schiano is a completely different kind of coach than Raheem Morris, but the core group of players is essentially the same and they have a record of dealing poorly with adversity.
Raiders @ Panthers -8.5
Hexagram 16: Enthusiasm
After a 1-6 start, the Panthers have made a charge, albeit too late, in the second half going 4-3 since Week 9. On the other side, exempting two games against the Chiefs, Oakland has failed to win or cover a spread since Week 7 against the Jaguars. This home game will be a celebration of the seemingly bright future ahead for Cam and the Panthers. These two teams have been going in different directions for some time, and I don’t see either changing course soon.
Patriots @ Jaguars +14.5
Hexagram 59: Obliteration
This is a huge point spread, but I won’t go against Brady and the Pats late in the season when they still have something on the line and are playing a bad team. The Jaguars’ home field hasn’t given them much of an advantage as they are 1-6 playing in Jacksonville and are giving up 27 points a game to visiting teams. New England might double that.
Vikings @ Texans -7.5
Hexagram 40: Deliverance
This pick is really just about Adrian Peterson. AP and his bionic knee are not only having one of the most dominant running back seasons in history coming off an injury late last season that so often derails the careers of guys that rely on their speed and quickness, he is actually getting better as he carries his team down the stretch. The most astonishing part of his assault on the record book is that he only rushed for over 100 yards once in the first six games. He has cleared this milestone in each of the eight games since and is averaging over 176 yards per game over this stretch. Nobody has been able to stop AP in two months, and as good as their defense is, I don’t think Houston will be the team to end his run.
4:05 PM EST
Browns @ Broncos +13.5
Hexagram 9: Taming the Small 小畜
The Browns has been a pesky opponent all year, but I think they were exposed a little by Redskins' fill-in Kirk Cousins last Sunday. After watching the success of Cousins using the play action game and attacking the Cleveland secondary down the field, I don’t think Peyton will have too much trouble dealing with that defense. By the way, the last time the Broncos lost was October 7th, ten games ago in New England.
4:25 PM EST
Bears @ Cardinals +5.5
Hexagram 51: The Shocking
This is a dangerous game for Chicago. They are in the midst of the freefall, losers of five out of their last six games, are slipping in the playoff standings and have to travel to face an Arizona team that defends the pass well and should be brimming with confidence coming off a home win last week. If Patrick Peterson can limit the damage of the Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall connection, the Bears will be searching for answers on offense futilely in the desert.
Giants @ Ravens +2.5
Hexagram 23: Splitting Apart
Everyone has been waiting for Big Blue to start their typical late season run, but if they come up short of the playoffs, it may be irrelevant. I like the Ravens' chances at home today. They Giants are just 1-3 against the AFC North and struggled against the Browns too before putting them away late in the game. The Ravens have lost back to back home games for the first time in Coach Jim Harbaugh’s tenure. I don’t expect this streak to run any farther. Flacco is bound to have a good game eventually, isn’t he?
8:20 PM EST
49ers @ Seahawks +1.5
Hexagram 33: Retreat  
How Seattle can be the underdog at home at this point in the season is beyond me. I know San Francisco is great, but the Seahawks are 6-0 at home this year, they’ve already beaten the Pats and Packers (well, kind of)  at the C-Link this year and they have dropped 50 in each of their last two games. Russell Wilson has had more game action to get comfortable in the NFL than his counterpart Kaepernick, and with both defenses excellent, I think that proves to be the difference.

*This Week: 1-0
Last Week: 11-5
Season: 119-105

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