Weekend Football Review (11/22/10)

By Paul Bessire

Monday, November 22 at 8:02 PM ET
I will always recap the weekend in football each Monday afternoon. It is very important to us to be transparent and to honest about our picks. Today's blog will be longer than last week's, yet not nearly as long as most. That should be a good sign to most out there who like to get a hold of our picks as soon as they can because I'm already busy churning out picks this week so I can get NFL done by tomorrow night and college picks posted by early Wednesday. I want to make sure that everyone gets the picks as soon as possible so as to not interfere with the holidays. Obviously, there are several (critical) games in both leagues that take place on weekdays as well. Next week and the week leading into Christmas will be weeks in which I will effort the picks to go up about a day early as well.

I also have not received any pressing questions in the last week, so I'll hammer through this blog now. There are several other topics on my mind though, so don't be surprised to see some mid-week musings later on. As usual, I'm always open to using this space to address any questions or feedback you may have. Please feel free to contact me at any time.

Overall, it was a tremendous week for the Paul's Picks in both college and pro football. We hit all four of our college Paul's Picks ATS and two of three (with one to go) in the NFL. We also hit our top ATS pick each day last week, except for Tuesday (silly Tuesday games). In college football, we were pretty strong with the rest of our ATS and O/U plays. In the NFL, we hit our top seven totals, but did not do nearly as well with our other picks ATS. While it's hard to top our performance in top picks, I can't say our NFL picks had me in a good mood yesterday afternoon. We rebounded very nicely later (which I get is often a very good thing to do in this world), but I can assure you that picks overall should/will be/have been getting stronger with more information and that hiccup was equal parts unlucky, fortunately timed (because we stronger with stronger picks later) and potentially curable. The numbers are the numbers, but we're always trying to stay on top of what is going in the games and anything that can be improved. Sunday's afternoon games may have provided insight into a "tweakable" piece to the NFL Predictalator.

As if often stated here, unless we win (or lose) every single game we post, we cannot ever guarantee that everyone had a winning (or losing) week. I do know that, using the Customizable Predictalator and playing every 60%+ game this weekend, our own bankroll was profitable in both college and pro, which just goes hand-in-hand with the performance of our top picks and marks a fifth straight week of very good NFL numbers at the top to go along another strong college week across the board.

The Football Numbers (through College Week 12 and NFL Week 11):

  • ATS Locks of the Week: 2-0 (Western Kentucky +5 lost narrowly to MTSU 27-26; Philadelphia -3 won 27-17 over the New York Giants)
  • Year-to-Date ATS Locks of the Week: 16-7 (70%)
  • All-Time ATS Locks of the Week: 65-18-3 (78%)
  • YTD Daily Top ATS Plays: 45-20 (69%))
  • Paul's Picks ATS Week: 6-1 (with one game remaining)
  • YTD Paul's Picks ATS: 61-33 (65%)
  • YTD ATS All Games: 56%
  • YTD O/U All Games: 55%
  • YTD SU (NFL and FBS vs. FBS College): 74%

Happy Thanksgiving:
Allow me to be personal/sappy/human here for just a few sentences and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am extremely grateful to all of our readers, users and subscribers for supporting the site over the last year (we launched at the Super Bowl). It took a calculated, yet by nature risky, leap of faith to leave my previous position (almost exactly a year ago today) and start something from scratch that I could call my own. I would count the first year as a great success. I am pleased with the products we have put forth, the performance of those products, the feedback we have received (even when it is negative - that helps us get better) and the interest we have generated. I am very thankful for the perfectly constructed team we have assembled, our friends and families that have been so supportive, the members of the media who get and appreciate what we are doing and, mostly, for you the consumer of this content. As is the nature of this business, I genuinely hope that to have maintained this level of interest, we have always done right by you and greatly benefitted your own interests. Though this technology has been a labor of love for me for seven years, we still have so much room to grow as a site with new applications, products and constant updates. Feedback is extremely important to our growth and optimizing the resources we allocate to new endeavors, so never hesitate to contact me with any thoughts. Have a great Thanksgiving!

NBA Update: Speaking of new developments, we believe we are still on track to launch a daily NBA product during the NFL playoffs. All of the necessary pieces are in place on our end; we just need to complete testing (and open up the time/resources to update the picks daily). I know that it is still very early, but if our Preseason NBA Preview is any indication of our expected performance, we should be in great shape. As of the time of this posting, all nine "normal" or better (57%+ to cover) Over/Under Team Win Total picks are on track to cover. The top two picks - LA Clippers UNDER 36.5 wins 62.2% and New Orleans Hornets OVER 41.5 wins 61.4% - have the worst and best records in the NBA respectively (ironically, they also play each other tonight). The Clippers, who are currently 1-13, would need to go 36-32 the rest of the way for us to lose that pick. The Hornets, who are 11-1, would need to go 30-40 the rest of the season for us to lose the OVER on their line. Looks good so far.

College Best and Worst:

Best Wins: Even though our Lock of the Week, Western Kentucky +5 covered pretty easily, the Hilltoppers found a way to take what looked like an easy cover and STRAIGHT-UP win when they led 26-10 with about 18 minutes left in the game and turn it into a straight-up loss and game that made us sweat a little at the end...

In maybe the most fulfilling game of the weekend, Tennessee pulled out a cover that had to give those on both sides fits. By the time Tennessee-Vanderbilt kicked off, we were 3-0 in Paul's Picks, with a sizeable wager of our own on the game and a chance to get to 4-0 on the weekend. Last week, we had picked on the beat-up Vanderbilt Commodores to earn a Lock of the Week cover at Lexington and we felt strong about their opponent again - even in a rivalry game between two sub-.500 teams. The Volunteers (-8.5) got off to a 14-0 start and were still covering at 17-3 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. It wasn't easy to get to that point. Vanderbilt missed two field goals and had a pass intercepted in the endzone in the fourth quarter. But then, the Northside Tavern in Cincinnati, which put on a tremendous show with three great bands, got a little peak into what my Saturdays and Sundays look like. I typically stay pretty calm - never too high, never too low, always positive - while watching/following games, but this one had extra significance to us and I had a Blackberry and plenty of text messages to keep me posted (I've since seen the video). Led on a two-minute, 74-yard drive back-up QB Jared Funk (who now has 34 career pass attempts), Vanderbilt scored a touchdown with 2:33 remaining to bring the score within seven at 17-10. #$*@! (the bad way) An onside kick attempt was recovered by Tennessee at the Vanderbilt 36 yard-line. Interesting... Four yard loss followed by Vanderbilt timeout. Yuck. Five yard run followed by Vanderbilt timeout. Field goal range? Seven yard run followed by Tennessee timeout. Wait, Tennessee timeout? What are they going to do here? It's fourth down with just over a minute left and you can go up two scores. Just kick (and make) the 45-yard field goal to give us our cover. Another Tennessee timeout. Uh... Tauren Poole 28-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-2 with 1:22 remaining to go up 24-10. #$*@! (the good way) Wow. And Taren Poole is even on my fantasy team. Huge game. Huge day...

Some quick hitters now: Pitt should be the best team in the Big East and USF is not as good as its record (still). The Panthers should have won bigger, but we'll take the top pick... Taking a 30.5-point favorite as an ATS Top Play of the Day is a little scary, but Boise State helped us out. I often recommend staying away from those games, but I understand that it was the only game Friday night... Jake Locker really had very little to do with the Washington cover, but UCLA's horrible defense and a very good homefield advantage still made that pretty easy... I think we finally got on top of the MAC this week. Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan were big picks for us... Go Badgers! Five straight ATS covers for a team that is historically overvalued by the public... Stanford, Notre Dame, Southern Miss, Navy, Missouri and Illinois are all a lot better than you think... UNDERs have been tremendous for us recently. Everyone loves to root for points, but our playable UNDERs are actually 31-15 in the last two weeks.

Toughest Losses: No, real, brutal loss in college (thankfully), so here are some very quick hitters: I'm not sure if the fact that Oregon State dominated USC a week after getting blown out by Washington State says more about the Beavers or the Trojans, but I think it's actually embarrassing for both programs... Similar can be said about Wyoming losing at UNLV and then destroying Colorado State. Not only is embarrassing for those programs, it's disappointing as a sports fan to think that teams, players and coaches can vary that much... The ACC has clearly replaced the MAC as the most frustrating conference to the Predictalator. We had back-to-back weeks earlier in the year where we went a combined 13-1 ATS in ACC games, but that has definitely not been the case recently... What just happened to ECU (and Tulsa, though Tulsa at least still won)? Rice 62 - ECU 38 is one of the more baffling scores that I have seen in awhile... Congrats to Utah. We had San Diego State pulling the upset and that looked great when he Aztecs were up 27-10, but Jordan Wynn and company battled back for a very important win. That could have been an enormous win for the SDSU program, especially on the heels of a near-upset over TCU.

Most intriguing games of Week 13: Texas A&M @ Texas (Thursday), West Virginia @ Pitt (Friday), SMU @ ECU (Friday), Auburn @ Alabama (Friday), Southern Miss @ Tulsa (Friday), Arizona @ Oregon (Friday), Boise State @ Nevada (Friday), Michigan @ Ohio State, LSU @ Arkansas, BYU @ Utah, Florida @ Florida State, Oregon State @ Stanford and Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State. That's the biggest combined college football week we have seen all season - by far.

NFL Best and Worst:

Best Wins: The Eagles have been great for us after a big win last Monday Night and probably the most needed/welcomed win we have had all season last night. Even without the events of the previous week, I was surprised to see Philadelphia as just a three-point favorite at home on Sunday night. The Eagles have been one of our top three NFC teams all season. Even though the Giants are a good team (and ranked ahead of the Eagles in our Power Rankings just a week earlier), they struggle with turnovers and were down a critical receiver. Throw in that the Giants lost to the Cowboys at home the previous week and that Philadelphia destroyed Washington and I expected a bigger line. Fortunately, we took advantage. Fortunately, LeSean McCoy caught a pitch and took it to the house on 4th-and-1 late in the game when Michael Vick almost fumbled the snap. Fortunately, Eli Manning tried to run. It wasn't why he fumbled, but the Giants have to punt on fourth and six with three timeouts and down seven. We have seen this situation at least four times this season and in every situation the team has gone for it. Punt, stop your opponent, use your timeouts, get the ball back in similar (if not better) field position and get another chance. That's not simple, but it's more logical than essentially putting any chance you have at winning the game on one play. That said, after the fumble, the Giants could have stopped the Eagles, but they lost a timeout on the challenge and gave up after the deflating fumble. Our prediction in that game was 27-20. So even though that game made us sweat out the Lock of the Week late into Sunday night, it actually covered by more than our prediction...

Quick hitters: All of those who thought the Atlanta (-3 @ STL) line was so fishy they went the other way only helped to keep the line where it was. We don't even like the Falcons as much as most. And we have a fairly high opinion on the Rams, especially at home. But that doesn't mean that the Falcons weren't/aren't still the significantly better team... The Colts and Patriots played another great game. Greater than that was that they provided one of three triple covers (ATS, O/U and SU) for us on the week. We saw a 29-26 shootout that comfortably covered the 50.5-point total and had a much better than usual chance of seeing the favorite win by exactly three... In addition to the IND @ NE OVER 50.5, we hit our top seven Over/Under totals... Fantasy-wise, Dwayne Bowe and Peyton Hillis, our top players at their respective positions, had great days that were also very close to our projections. The top quarterback, Philip Rivers, plays tonight... And Brett Favre has thrown more interceptions per pass attempt than the Carolina Panthers' quartet Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Tony Pike and Brian St. Pierre. That's a win on many levels...

Toughest Losses: The toughest loss was again at Jacksonville. For the second straight week, we liked the road underdog to go into Jacksonville and win outright over the Jaguars as our second-best play of the day. For the second week in a row, late game heroics and very, very fortunate (for Jacksonville - Mike Thomas Hail Mary and Sean Considine interception) bounces of the ball cost us a top pick and secured wins for the Jaguars. The numbers still don't like Jacksonville's defense. We are only predicting Jacksonville to get 1.7 more wins on average. As of right now, the Jaguars would not be favored in any more games going forward. Along those lines, since we don't like the Jaguars to ultimately make a playoff run and with Tennessee likely starting Rusty Smith at quarterback for the foreseeable future, the AFC Wild Card race may already be locked up by the second place AFC East and AFC North teams. In our rest of season simulation the NFC actually ends up with as many 9+ win teams as the AFC (seven)...

Quick hitters: Even though I can't say I'm a Bengals fan, as a Cincinnatian, it's still embarrassing just to be associated with that team. What happens when a 53-man roster is almost entirely composed of talented players with character issues? The 2010 Cincinnati Bengals. At least Carolina Panthers seem to be trying. The Panthers just aren't talented (of course, that's by design by the franchise as a cost-cutting measure as well - but by his own admission, the Bengals have been in cost-cutting-at-the-expense-of-winning mode since Mike Brown took control of the team)... On just about every radio interview that I did, I mentioned how this NFL weekend would be marked by favorites covering. I guess I did not know how true that statement would actually be... There are no real surprises in the NFL anymore, but the most baffling result of the weekend happened when Washington won at Tennessee... The most baffling team with a good record right now is the Chicago Bears... The most baffling team with a bad record is the Seattle Seahawks... Not too surprisingly then, the Seahawks won at Chicago earlier this year.

Most intriguing games of Week 12: NO @ DAL (Thursday), GB @ ATL, PHI @ CHI, TB @ BAL and SD @ IND

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