Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bill's momentum keeps on rolling, right into the playoffs

First of all, I guess everyone is saying this but I might as well too: rest in peace Stu Scott.  I'd be lying if I said I thought he was the greatest, or if I tried to pretend like I never wrote anything mean about him on this blog.  But when push comes to shove, he was an entertaining dude who made sports fun.  That's all that really matters.

With that out of the way, let's get back to the important task of hating everything.  I'll comment more about the Hall of Fame election next week, and how dumb it is that Piazza and Bagwell are still not and (and not even good bets to make it next year--watch the voters only put in Griffey and no one else).

For now, though, let's get back to sports gambling savant Bill Simmons, who has a well-refined manifesto that is perfectly internally consistent, and who is apt at spotting a Vegas line that is a point too high or too low.  I lost track of his total numbers, but when we last left him a month ago, I had him at 59-61 plus some pushes.  He claimed at the end of last week's wild card round picks that he finished the regular season at 101-93 (after subtracting out the perfect 58-0 score he gave himself for the time he was suspended).  Something went awry in there, because at that time there were only four regular season weeks left for the NFL, and he has himself having picked roughly 75 games, or roughly 19 per week.  I dunno.  I'm not going to check his work, I'm just going to reiterate that he's a fucking dumbshit, and let him back that up as I analyze his wild card picks below.  He did the never-entertaining "Things about both teams that could make you regret picking them" format, and I'm commenting just on his logic for the teams that ended up winning, because, come on, isn't it great that when he publishes a set of picks in that format he's spoon feeding us a well-developed line of idiotic thinking that, if he followed it while placing bets, could have him going 0-for on the week?

He went 1-3 against the spread and 2-2 straight up.  THANKS FOR THE FREE MONEY, VEGAS!

PANTHERS (-6.5) over Cardinals

Obviously the only one he got right against the spread.

Why You Eventually Regretted Taking the Panthers: You laid nearly a touchdown with a lame division champ that went 64 days between wins. 

Against a team starting Ryan Lindley on the road.  (Really, I could just copy and paste that sentence for all of his comments about this game, but I'll get creative and actually mention other stuff as well.)

You backed a 7-8-1 team with the 25th DVOA over an 11-5 team with the 22nd overall DVOA. 

Don't those rankings show that the Cardinals were even more flagrant overachievers than the Panthers?  The Panthers probably would have been a 4-12 team in most other divisions, but cripes, the Cardinals were really only a 5-11 or 6-10 team themselves.  At least the Panthers didn't really have an identity crisis.  I'm sure they're aware their season sucked.

You got too carried away with an end-of-the-season winning streak over four teams that finished a combined 22-42. 

I don't think anyone who took the Panthers was really that enthralled with that winning streak.  But they might have been pretty interested in the way the Cardinals fell apart in November and December.

You ignored an old-school Playoff Manifesto Rule: 


“When In Doubt, Check the Coaching Match-ups” (Rivera vs. President-Elect Arians). 

Arians is (supposedly) really good (with the caveat that he doesn't have a huge body of work).  Rivera is definitely nothing special, but he's at least average.  I'm not sure how any of that accounts for Cam Newton vs. Ryan Lindley.

You didn’t see Barnwell’s nugget about how three of the other four “Worst QBs To Start A Playoff Game Since 1972” won those games. 

Oh, Bill has a little Peter King in him these days!  So good to be receiving nuggets from both of them!  I don't know any other method of conveyance of factoids I prefer to nuggets.

You spent too much time worrying about Arizona scoring and not enough time wondering what would happen in a 13-10 game if Cam made one dumb mistake. 

What?  I'm no TMQ, but that's a little hyperspecific for me for the purpose of betting.  "Sure, Newton is a million times better than Ryan fucking Lindley, and the Cardinals are coming apart at the seams, BUT WHAT IF IT'S 13-10 AND NEWTON THROWS A PICK SIX ON 3RD AND 2 FROM THE ARIZONA 27 WITH 4:25 REMAINING?"

Worst of all, you backed the wrong Wonk Team — you thought it was Carolina when it was really Arizona all along.

WONK TEAM!  ANOTHER MANIFESTO WEIRD TRICK THAT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MOMS USE TO MAKE THOUSANDS PER WEEK ON THE INTERNET!  "Wonk team" is about as cool as "hoops fan nerdgasm."  Don't say either unless you're super intoxicated or trying to annoy someone.

The Pick: Panthers 23, Cardinals 7

Not bad.  And it's all way, way, way downhill from here.

STEELERS (-3.5) over Ravens

Why You Eventually Regretted Taking the Ravens: You ignored the probability of Baltimore’s putrid secondary getting overpowered by the NFL’s most dangerous passing attack. 

Yeah, maybe Baltimore's secondary wasn't exactly full of A-listers, but they still ended up middle of the pack in most pass defense categories (17th and yards/attempt allowed, 19th in QB rating allowed).  This might have something to do with the fact that they tied for 2nd in sacks.  Hmmm, anyone see Saturday night's game?  Anyone happen to remember if Roethlisberger got his ass handed to himself like seven or eight times?

You mistakenly thought the weather might cripple Pittsburgh’s offense. 


You forgot that the Lewis era officially died in Baltimore when Ed Reed left. 

"I can't possibly pick this 10-6 team that split its two regular season games against their upcoming opponent!  They had two really old HOFers on their team as of two seasons ago, and now they have zero old HOFers!"

You forgot that Baltimore’s offensive line was all kinds of banged up, and that Pittsburgh rushes the passer pretty well. 

Pittsburgh's offensive line was a disaster most of the year, and against the Ravens.  Pittsburgh also finished the season 26th in sacks.

You forgot how scary it was to wager against Big Ben in Big Games unless he’s going against Tim Tebow during the final 15 minutes of Fourth and God. 

I get that Roethlisberger has a good playoff career record (10-4 before this game), but he's also only got 21 TDs against 19 picks in those games, and an 83.3 rating.  His defense has bailed him out big time in some important games, notably Super Bowl XL against the Seahawks, and the 2008 and 2010 AFC championship games.  I think Tebow himself could have probably won all three of those games with the support Roethlisberger got.

You forgot that the Ravens went 4-0 against the NFC South (congratulations!) 

More damning--that, or the fact that the Steelers managed to lose to the Buccaneers at home?

and or that they beat one above-.500 team all season (in Week 2, no less). 

Fair point, but that team was the Steelers.

You forgot about Pittsburgh’s many playmakers, 

With Bell sitting, that list includes Antonio Brown and.... uh....

and you definitely forgot about the great Antonio Brown. 

Who had an amazing highlight-reel game on Sunday Night Football in week 17.  Easy to forget about that.

You forgot that Pittsburgh’s destiny might be taking out Manning on the road as heavy underdogs again, just like it did nine years ago. 

Yeah!  Destiny!  That's how gambling works!

Most of all, you forgot about karma. Was there a better karmic ending to this 2014 Ravens season then “Destroyed by their most hated rival in Round 1?” Of course not.


The Pick: Pittsburgh 37, Baltimore 24


Bengals (+4) over COLTS

Given the way he journalistically fellates Luck (just like pretty much everyone else who writes about the NFL), this pick shocked me.  Was he going for THE DREADED DOUBLE REVERSE JINX to prevent THE FACKIN' PATS from having to face Luck if the Steelers and Colts had both won?  We may never know, but the answer is yes.  I hope the Ravens beat the Patriots by 50 this weekend.

Why You Eventually Regretted Taking the Colts: You forgot that the Colts were 2014’s Good Bad Team; they got destroyed three times in the last nine weeks. 

Not really.  Their game against New England wasn't really an ass kicking.  The Dallas game definitely was, and maybe Pittsburgh too, but the week before the Pittsburgh game they beat the Bengals 27-0, so yeah.

You forgot that Ahmad Bradshaw’s injury created the NFL’s most pathetic running back crew. 

It was pretty crappy even with Bradshaw.  I don't really think Chuck Pagano shit himself when Bradshaw went down, at least not to the same extent Mike Tomlin almost surely did when Bell went down.

You forgot that New England and Dallas ran the ball down Indy’s throat … and Jeremy Hill could do it, too. 


You forgot about the 3.3 percent chance that Jim Irsay would wander onto the field like Shooter in Hoosiers. 

*crickets*  *tumbleweed*

You forgot that Gio Bernard turned into a frightening third-down back. 

Who got way worse from his rookie year to his second year, always a sign of a dangerous player!

You forgot about A.J. Green’s Ewing Theory potential as well as the resulting “Nobody Believes In Us” potential. 


You forgot that Luck throws it up for grabs too much, 

Very true, and also the meanest thing I think I've heard anyone say about Luck in the last five months.  Seriously, the guy gets the kid gloves treatment worse than Jeter did this past summer.

and that Cincy’s excellent secondary loves picking off dumb passes. 

Other secondaries don't do that!  Only Cincy's!

You forgot that Indy’s home-field “advantage” just hadn’t been overpowering, 

Sure, only 19-5 since Luck arrived in 2012.

and that four favorites never cover in Round 1. 

That's a really good point.  Maybe I'll put my money on the Ravens and Lions.

You forgot that Cincy’s overall roster was just better than Indy’s roster. 

Correct.  Also like the 8th most important thing to consider when predicting the winner of a single playoff game.

You forgot that Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning and Randall Cunningham also lost THEIR first three playoff games. 


You forgot that Dalton could destroy Cincy’s postseason without necessarily doing it this weekend.

That's a really good point, if Cincy had won this game, they'd still be playing this coming weekend.  Ppl forget that.

The Pick: Cincinnati 23, Indianapolis 20


COWBOYS (-7) over Lions


Why You Eventually Regretted Taking the Cowboys: Tony Romo. Jason Garrett. Tony Romo AND Jason Garrett. 

Huh?  I know they don't have the best playoff reputation or anything, but Detroit hasn't won a playoff game in decades.

You ignored how Dallas’s biggest strength (running the ball) conflicted with Detroit’s biggest strength (stopping the run). 

Good defense beats good offense, the team with the most playmakers who make plays always wins, and cold coach = victory.  Science.

You laid a touchdown with a crummy defense against a playoff team with multiple big-play weapons. 

That finished 19th in total offense and 22nd in points per game, while playing home games in a dome and with a mostly healthy Calvin Johnson.

You forgot about Megatron. 

No one forgot about Megatron.

You forgot it was Golden Tate’s destiny to have a Revenge Game in Seattle in Round 2. 

Maybe he can still be cut by the Lions and picked up by the Panthers?  It's his destiny!

You forgot that you were backing Jerry Jones in the playoffs, 

Haha, that's like the Romo + Garrett point but on super moron steroids.

that Dallas crowds sucked this season, 

Most NFL crowds suck these days.  The BEANTOWN FAITHFUL weren't exactly all smiles and support back when the Pats looked like assholes in September and early October.

that a worn-down DeMarco Murray had carried the ball 392 times already. 

He went for 100 yards on 20 carries in week 17.  I think it's pretty likely he wears down by, like, 2018.  I don't think it was very likely he'd wear down between week 17 and the wild card round.

You forgot how sad Troy Aikman sounds when he’s announcing a big Cowboys loss. 

*another tumbleweed*  *coyote howls*

You teased the Panthers and Cowboys and stupidly forgot to hedge with Lions +7. 

You're terrible at gambling.  Shut up.

You got a little too excited about Round 2: Romo vs. Rodgers in the Ice Bowl 2.0. 


You forgot about Stafford’s Back Door cover potential. 


And you forgot that (a) Suh’s appeal getting reversed, 

That was odd.

(b) Suh shutting down Dallas’s run game as part of Detroit’s upset victory in Round 1, then (c) Suh signing with the New York Giants in March would be a classic under-25 Cowboys fan trifecta.

THAT'S why it made sense to pick the Lions.  Because Suh might leave Detroit via free agency this spring.

The Pick: Cowboys 33, Lions 14

But the Detroit run defense vs. the Cowboys run offense!  Strength vs. strength!  Oh wait, that's actually how it played out (73 rushing yards for Dallas).  Hmm.  Shit.  This looks kind of dumb when I mock him for explaining why Dallas might not cover, and then they don't even though they win the game.  Maybe when underdogs cover but lose, I should comment on his analysis for the team that COVERED, not the team that won.  Damn.  Well, I'll do it differently for the divisional games.  Go Ravens!


Anonymous said...

"You laid a touchdown with a crummy defense against a playoff team with multiple big-play weapons."

1. Why is he specifically pointing out that its against a playoff team???? They are all playoff teams. There are only playoff teams!

2. nearly every team in the league has 1-2 big play threats, especially the playoff teams. That's part of what makes the playoff teams playoffs teams -- they're good.

Chris W said...

RIP Stu Scott. Anyone played by Tim Meadows is aces in my book. Sweet sassy molassy!

tony harding said...

"You forgot that Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning and Randall Cunningham also lost THEIR first three playoff games."

He was referring to Dalton (not Luck) and his 0-3 playoff record (now 0-4). That seems like a stat that was pushed way too much by the media, but having seen many Bengals games over the last 4 years, it's 100% true. Dalton really does shrink under the lights. Can't tell you how many Cincy fans wanted to get rid of Dalton after his 2nd playoff loss.

That was by far Simmons's worst pick of the four, especially given that Green was out and Gresham was hobbling around. The other 3 games were tossups before the round began, but there was no way Cincy was going to win on the road in Indy.


The Ravens have shitty karma because of Ray Rice! The Football Gods should definitely have intervened to help legendary respecters-of-women Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison.

jacktotherack said...

@tony harding

Isn't Dalton consistently mediocre for the most part? I mean really, he is the epitome of a guy who is just good enough to not kill his team's chances most of the time. He's like a slightly more athletic Kyle Orton. And some of his most cringe-worthy performances weren't exactly against great teams (the Thursday night Cleveland game this year springs to mind).

That's what has always bugged me about this whole "Andy Dalton shrinks on the big stage" narrative. He's really just nothing all that special to begin with.

tony harding said...

Yes, Dalton is incredibly mediocre. If you look at his numbers in all 4 seasons he's been in the league, he's been ranked between 14-25 in most categories (Newton and Flacco actually have similar regular season numbers. However, in primetime and in the playoffs especially, he turns into Ryan Leaf. Not that the rest of the Bengals play well either, but he normally has a few killer mistakes in those games. His numbers in 4 playoff games: 55% completion, 1 TD - 6 Int. That's not close to mediocre; that's just terrible.

Even when they win in primetime (Denver this year), it wasn't due to his play. He was his usual mediocre self, but the D stepped up with 4 picks of Manning. The Cleveland game kinda makes this point. He played terribly against the Browns, and they had no shot of winning. When he plays like he's capable, the Bengals have a chance to win. When he's in primetime or the playoffs, he usually plays horrible. Hence the "shrinks on the big stage" narrative.

Anonymous said...

I may not bet on NFL games this weekend. All my picks agree with Simmons, and that scares the shit out of me.