This week I’m pleased to be joined by long time chum and fellow Ravens fan (CAW CAW) Mohican Mike (as his mother’s side of the family has significant native american ancestry). As you’ll see Mohican Mike has two picks for each game, so since it’s the Christmas season I’ll be charitable and give MM the record for whichever method (gut or stats) does better. Also, for our more intellectual readers, with our understanding of the knowledge problem, what conclusions should we draw from Mohican Mike’s contrasting picking methods? Now, take it away MM:
I once heard that the best bet in sports is to bet the over-under in baseball games according to which ump is behind the plate. The logic being that if an umpire has a huge strike zone and there is two aces on the mound, its a shoe-in for an under because of the aces and the fact that Vegas wouldn’t track something like which umpire is behind the plate. This of course is ridiculous because Vegas tracks everything. Its a fun thought though and it got me thinking about the best way to gamble. Do you analyze a particular stat thinking you’d get an edge or is just better to go with your gut? I think we all consume enough sports radio, sports center, local newspaper, and barroom talk to get a good feeling about the teams. So I’ve made two picks, one at first glance and the other after some minimal amount of research. It’s probably not a big enough sample size but hey, I needed a gimmick.
HYPOTHESIS: Going with your gut is the way to go. You only out-think yourself when you start to think at all.
GAME 1: Colts -3 @ Raiders
Phil: If Ray Lewis every flew the Ravens away in a space ship to play teams from other galaxies to protect Earth’s honor, I think I would root for the Raiders as my NFL team. Oakland is a gritty city on a bay like Bmore, their logo is badass, and I like the way they run the football. Pey Pey and Indy on the other hand, well my contempt for them is well chronicled. It’s most likely that Manning will carve up the Raiders secondary, but I’m hoping the Raiders can control the ball with their running attack and put enough pressure on Manning to short circuit Indy’s short-staffed receiving corps. Come on west coast Ravens. Raiders 28 Colts 27
Mohican Mike: Gut pick – Raiders seem pretty good this year, right? I watched the Raiders/Jaguars game and Darren McFadden looked great. But of course, you wouldn’t want to bet against Peyton Manning with a division on the line and they did just beat the Jaguars who beat the Raiders two weeks ago. This is the problem with the gut pick. Its really easy to second guess. Still, I like the Raiders at home and they’re getting three points. So I’m picking the Raiders +3 Raiders 28 Colts 24
Stat pick – The Raiders have the fifth best passing defense in the league, allowing just under 200 yards a game. They also play in a division with some high-powered passing offenses so that number is even more impressive. This could be hampered by Asomugha’s recovering ankle but the Colts don’t have their full weaponry either, though it looks like Addai may be coming back after an 8 game absence. The Colts also give up over 130 running yards per game while the Raiders average 157 yards a game. I think the stats show that the Raiders are a quality upset pick here. Raiders 28 Colts 24
GAME 2: 49ers @ Rams -2
Phil: If the 49ers win their last two games they’ll be in the playoffs. I’ve been saying since Week 5 that the Rams are winning this division, and I’m sticking with that. Why? Here are three reasons: 1) the 49ers are starting Troy Smith (although he threw for 356 yards against the Rams earlier this year); 2) Steven Jackson is on the Rams (although the 49ers held him to 81 yards on 20 carries earlier this year); 3) the Rams have a new winning attitude (although they’ve lost 2 in a row). Ok I’m a little nervous about this game now, but I still take the Rams. St. Louis 19 49ers 14
Stat pick – There’s no stat that really jumps out at me here. ESPN lists both teams’ head-to-head records, both straight up and against the spread since 2001. It doesn’t seem smart to put too much stock in this but its really all I have. The 49ers are 8-3 against the spread, including 5-1 as underdogs and 4-1 away, when playing the Rams since 2001. This needs to be balanced against the 49ers terrible 1-6 away record (straight-up) in 2010. But I think when both teams are so bad, you pick the historical stat. So I’m going Niners and the two points. Niners 21 Rams 20
GAME 3: Giants @ Packers – 3
Phil: This is essentially a playoff game. Aaron Rodgers’s temporarily concussed brain versus Eli Manning’s perpetually gooified koala brain. Clay Matthews versus Justin Tuck. Coughlin versus the guy that coaches the Packers. Needles to say, some good matchups. It’ll be close but I take Rodgers and the home field, wrap it up nice, and send it to the 123 Picks Ave. with the note: Packers 26 Giants 21
Stat pick – I’m not sure this really counts as a stat but the Packers are 5-1 at home. Their one loss? To the Dolphins. The Miami Dolphins. I think that says something about how tough the Packers are at home. The Dolphins are a great road team this year but shouldn’t be any good in cold weather locales. Though it was the first game of the year. If the research was more than minimal, I’d check the temperature that day. Looking at the pictures, it looks pretty sunny that day actually. Forget I said I anything. Here’s a good one. Eli Manning has thrown a league leading 20 interceptions. The Packers are 5th in the league with 18 interceptions. They also have an impressive amount of sacks with 40. The Giant’s o-line has only given up 15 sacks this year but if you look at the teams they’ve played, only the Titans and Eagles have good sack numbers. My mathematical mind tells me the Packers -3 are the pick here. Packers 30 Giants 21
TO CONCLUDE, I believe the Giants-Packers game will be a great test of my hypothesis. I feel really good about the Giants. Tom Coughlin seems like an asshole and they make good coaches. And they have two good running backs. But the stats tell me otherwise.
STANDINGS: Phil 24-18-3 CONTENDERS: 23-19-3