Week 18 Observations
That was one of the worst ATS days I’ve had in a while. And I’ve had a lot recently.
Part of it was my confidence in picking Week 18 — my rule of taking eliminated teams to play hard wasn’t the issue. I moronically deviated from it with the Eagles who were a total no-show, and the Panthers fumbled a ball through the end zone, had a long rushing TD called back on illegal formation (after which they sacked fumbled) and missed a FG with their backup kicker in a 9-0 game in which they were getting 5.5 (in my pool.)
The Titans won outright, the Cardinals should have won outright (missed 2 late FGs), but still easily covered, while the Football Team got killed and the Bears lost. So they were 3-3 by my count with only the Team (my favorite pick) being a no-show. But outsmart yourself by taking the Eagles, and you go 2-4 on what’s usually your wheelhouse.
But there were other bad picks. I took the Dolphins possibly because I wanted them to win in the hope the Bills missed the playoffs (Picks in my pool lock at the first Sunday kickoff, and I didn’t know the Jaguars would lose.)
And my worst pick was probably the Patriots on the premise they’d win one for Bill Belichick on the way out. If they could do that, why didn’t they do it the last two years? The rule for legends is exiting with a whimper, not a bang — otherwise they wouldn’t be exiting. I suppose I like Belichick and wished it were otherwise in his case.
Too much wishful thinking in a low-stakes week for me (though I was one game out of first in my pool at the start of it.) It’s a low-stakes pool, but you still want to win it, and I was still pissed I blew it the last two weeks of the year.
Sometimes you’re just out of sync with the league, and none of your heuristics will save you. If you’re smart in that situation, you sit back and wait. If it’s a week or two or five, it doesn’t matter. You don’t bet when you’re cold. You observe and watch and only when you see something do you jump back in, re-test the waters. But when you’re in picking pools or writing columns you don’t have that luxury, so you opine like a donkey every week and take your medicine.
At least my Steak League team did enough — 117 points, finishing ahead of four teams and behind three. That’s at minimum self-buyer and maybe even eater status, depending on who else was in this year. And I’m especially proud of it considering it wasn’t a good team.
Even though I had the Panthers I’m happy for based af Todd Bowles and Baker Mayfield. I hope they crush the Eagles next week.
The Jaguars had Calvin Ridley on a wide open bomb for the potential game-tying TD (they still would have needed the two-point conversion), but Trevor Lawrence overthrew him. Ridley finished 76-1,016-8 anyway, but if Lawrence puts that ball on him, he’s got another TD, another 70-odd yards and maybe more production in overtime. If the Jaguars win the game, they get into the playoffs too. I only care because I had Ridley on a 31:1 Comeback Player Of The Year ticket. Of course, they wouldn't have given it to him anyway because Damar Hamlin survived the Pfizer to become a mascot, and Ridley bet $20 or something on a game. But I thought maybe NFL/Pharma could get behind the depression angle to move some SSRIs!
As a Bijan Robinson owner in three leagues, Arthur Smith’s too-clever-by-half usage annoyed me more than the next guy, but I didn’t harp on it much because every midwit with a Twitter account already was, and I think on balance we’re usually a bit knee-jerk when it comes to assuming we know what’s best for coaches and teams from the remove of our TV screens. But his final act as Falcons head coach after the Saints tacked on a last-second TD was pathetic. This is the pros, not junior high school. If it hurts your feelings, play better next time. That’s your remedy. Unfortunately, he got fired, so take it out on the next defense you face as offensive coordinator. Either way, be a man.
I made the mistake of taking the Vikings because I forgot what a psycho (in a good way) Dan Campbell is. It’s unfortunate Sam LaPorta got hurt, but unless a player were already playing hurt and badly needed the rest, I understand not tiptoeing around injury fears all the time.
Brandon Aubrey “missed” his first FG when his kick was blocked. Thought Scott Jenstad had a good point on Twitter about this:
You don’t want him to become Gary Anderson 1998 where he misses his first one, and it keeps you from going to the Super Bowl.
. . .
All things told, it was a bad year for me — under .500 ATS, no Survivor wins, only the $1100 for third place in the Primetime, and a middling Steak League team that didn’t have to shell out for others. (I’ll do a full accounting after the Super Bowl, as I bought into the NFFC post-season pool and at the very least will make a Super Bowl wager.)