That was an entertaining and uneventful week in the National Football League. The Green Bay Packers fight off the refs and win. The Atlanta Falcons throw a hail marry and win. The Arizona Cardinals, who I referred to as a suicidal pick, flew in at the last second to become victorious. Only the person wearing an eye patch ended up deciding to trust Josh Freeman, only to have him literally turn them into a free man and bust out of suicide pools across all pirate waters. 97% of the picks in week 4 survived going forward. This past week was like a ceasefire in the war of 17 weeks; the war began with a blood bath in the battle of underdogs. Do not expect this truce to continue.
Let us recap some of the strategies and theories behind suicide pool selections. I started off by saying home teams are the better bet when deciding between selections. Why? Home teams have an advantage in a lot of different football and non-football areas. Heck, Vegas gives home teams a 3-point or more advantage when determining betting lines; and we all know Vegas wasn’t built by traveling tourists. Wait, maybe it was the money from visitors that built Vegas? When in Rome I guess. Anyways, last week home teams went 8-7, for a year-to-date total of 39-24.
My second approach to making your ever crucial picks was to try and avoid division games. Up until last week we didn’t have a big enough sample size to really get a good sense of the competitive landscape between two teams who know and hate each other more than usual. Last week we had nine division tilts. Some of them went as planned; Denver whooping Oakland, Houston beating down Tennessee, and the Chargers cooking up the Chiefs. But a lot of them, six to be exact, ended up being closer than they appeared; the Browns were unexpectedly one play away from overtime; the Patriots are lucky Buffalo is Buffalo; if the favorite Lion receivers didn’t literally have paws for hands they may have won; the underdog Rams tricked up the Seahawks; and the definition of close can be used on the Atlanta vs. Carolina game or Eagles vs. Giants game. The long winded point is that when picking between two division rivals, the chances of crazy and unexpected stuff going down is much greater. Buyer beware.
Teams Already Used — Houston, New England, Chicago, Green Bay
San Francisco, My Week 5 Pick – Unlike previous weeks, there are a plethora of options to find yourself on this week. I’m going with the 49ers because they are at home, vs. a non-division team, and that team happens to be Buffalo. Since Buffalo only makes rare appearances in this weekly space, I want to highlight some, if not all, of their franchise achievements: they lost four straight Super Bowls, the comeback game of 1993 in which all the fans left at halftime, OJ Simpson, they play home games in Toronto, Scott Norwood, Music City Miracle, Cellino and Barnes, and last but not least this guy. Honorable mention: they did end Brett Favre’s consecutive start streak at 297. What does a Buffalo Bills fan do when he wins the Super Bowl? Turn off the PS3. So yeah, San Francisco.
Chicago Bears – The Bears defense took Tony Romo and made him look like Blaine Gabbert. I’m afraid to see what they turn Gabbert into this week. The Bengals just came into Jacksonville and won with relative ease; and the Bears are a better version of the Bengals. I have already used Chicago, but if you haven’t, fear not the wild cat in Blaine. How many Jacksonville Jaguar fans does it take to change a tire? One, unless it’s a blowout, in which case they all show up.
Green Bay – The Packers need to eventually get the better end of the referees’ calls… I think. Again, another team who I have already used that is a good play this week. The Packers are primed to go on a roll and get back to the top of the NFC standings. Side note: How in the world does a team with over 100,000 owners make any concrete decisions? There must be at least a thousand people vying for a spot on the board to directors. Do they have a cheese carving contests, graded on speed and originality, to determine who gets to sit gratis on the board? I guess so. Want to hear a Packers joke? Greg Jennings! Anyways, the Packers seem like a safer bet than the USPS making a delivery on time.
Minnesota, Potential Suicide – Just like Arizona last week, Minnesota comes into this game with a surprisingly good record after the first month of football. Adrian Peterson is back without skipping a beat, Ponder controlling the offense while minimizing any mistakes (Ponder has zero interceptions this year), and the defense has that toughness stigma back. Coming to town is a team with a backup quarterback and the all-of-a-sudden explosive Chris Johnson. So why is this game a potential trap after all those positive points? The Vikings have played four teams with a combined 6-9 record (Jags, SF, Ind, Det), while the Titans have played four teams with a combined record of 10-6 (NE, SD, Det, Hou). Switch these two teams first four games around, and I don’t think the Vikings are such a solid bet this week. No jokes here, you have been warned.