Monthly Archives: November 2015

Thanksgiving Day Picks

After two straight weeks of taking it on the chin with my picks I bounced back last week. We all knew sooner or later that the gambling gods would have their say, two weeks ago we saw Holly Holm knock out Ronda Rousey and 10 NFL under dogs cover the spread. Yet another reason why the house always wins, yes, that even applies to DraftKings and Fanduel, despite what their 25 commercials every hour would tell you.

Here is my special edition of the Thanksgiving Day football picks. I don’t bet on NFL lines……..yet, but if i did, here’s who I’m picking. Caveat here, I am only doing versus the spread picks now and ditching my straight up picks (can you tell I’m really an impulse away from going to Bovada.com and letting it ride). Let’s hope I’m more Sam Rothstein (Casino) than “Mush”(Bronx Tale).

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Vs the Spread:

Last Week: 9-5

Year to Date: 43-35

Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions / Line: EVEN

Who really feels better about themselves at this point? The “Mad King” Chip Kelly just got ran outta town by Jameis Winston and his 5 touchdowns 45-17, AT HOME! At 4-7 he is one more terrible loss from handing out his resume during “Bowl Season” for college football. Meanwhile, the Lions are making history, they became the first team to win back to back games by only scoring 18 points (applause). Although, they really should be tanking and trying to get Jim Caldwell fired because well, he’s Jim Caldwell. A win here does nothing for Lions fans because they really want a high draft pick. A win for Chip and his Eagles, continues the hope that the NFC East can be won with a below .500 record. But do I really want to take Sanchez on the road? Hell, would I ever want to take Sanchez at any point in my life? Gun to my head, I’m going with the Lions to extend their winning streak to 3 games, and yet still piss off every fan in the Motor City because they really want Joey Bosa from OSU to replace Suh and he’s not falling out of the top 3.

LIONS over Eagles

 

Carolina Panthers @ Dallas Cowboys / Line: CAR -1

The line started out Cowboys -2 but the public jumped all over the undefeated Panthers and have now pushed the Panthers to the favorite. Still doesn’t change my opinion on my pick though. I like the Cowboys in this game, Romo is back and even with his rusty play last week, they still won by double digits on the road. Dallas is both rejuvenated but desperate, they really have to win out the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Carolina comes off a short week, has to travel and we’ve been waiting for that “totally understandable won’t hold it against you slip-up game”. The Panthers are the real deal but so were the Cowboys till injuries cut them off at the knees. This game means more to the Cowboys than the Panthers, just watch out for the late Dallas collapse, because it has been known to happen.

DALLAS (+1) over Panthers

 

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers / Line: GB -9

The Packers look to even up the all-time series record of the oldest rivalry in the NFL. Brett Favre will be inducted into the Packers Ring of Fame at halftime as old Packer greats are in attendance, including Bart Starr. The packers are not losing this game. Not after regaining control of the NFC North with a decisive victory of Minnesota last Sunday. While all of the Packers flaws have not been magically shored up, they appear to be out of their funk that had many questioning the validity of this team. As for the Bears, they were sorely lacking their skill players against of the Broncos and while they controlled the game for the majority of the contest, they could generate touchdowns when it mattered. Chicago appears to get both Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery back for the Turkey-Day matchup, I think the mid-season luster for the Bears will wear off. I see the Packer offense fully breaking out in a big way. This is one of my locks, Packers big.

PACKERS (-9) over Bears  – Best Lock

-Mike Visconti

BTL Packers Podcast 2.6

What a difference a win makes. In this episode of the BTL Packers Podcast – Kris, Tim and myself run through the gamut of emotions following the terrible loss to the Lions and the possible season-saving victory in Minnesota.

In this episode we touch on the following:

-Was the loss to Detroit the low point in the Rodgers/McCarthy Era

-Was this the best performance by the Packers defense all year vs the Vikings

-How good is Teddy Bridgewater

-What is wrong with Randall Cobb

This was our best podcast to date. So listen, enjoy and as always, like and share the podcast.

 

Week 11 NFL Picks

Home Team in Caps:

10 AM Games:

Raiders over LIONS (Best Lock)

Colts (+5) over FALCONS

Jets (-3) over TEXANS

Buccaneers (+5.5) over EAGLES

BEARS (+1) over Broncos

Rams (+2.5) over RAVENS

Cowboys (-1) over DOLPHINS (Best Lock)

PANTHERS (-7) over Redskins

 

 1 PM Games:

Chiefs (-3) over CHARGERS

SEAHAWKS (-13) over 49ers

Packers (+1) over VIKINGS

 

SNF Game:

CARDINALS (-4.5) over Bengals

 

MNF Game:

PATRIOTS (-7) over Bills

BTL Packers Podcast 2.5

After failing to navigate the toughest two game road stretch in NFL history, the Packers are 6-2. Is it time to sound the alarms? Or should we just R-E-L-A-X.

Listen to Kris, Tim and myself dish on the following:

-What major flaws stood out the most during the two game losing stretch?

-Is Eddie Lacy done as the Packers starting RB?

-How much is Rodgers to blame for the two losses?

We wrap up with our Prediction Panel as we preview the next four games. Enjoy! And as always, we appreciate any feedback.

-MikeV87

BTL Week 9 NFL Picks

Okay, so last week the football gods blasted me off of whatever horse I was on. Each week there is always the chance of being humbled, whether you are making picks or your name is the Green Bay Packers. But that is what football is about, getting punched in the mouth and getting back up to take another stab at it. I got off on the right foot this past Thursday night with my Bengals pick (-12), hopefully I don’t screw the rest of this up.

Here is my record to last week, yeeesh. Straight Up : 6-8 Vs the Spread: 5-7

To date: Straight Up: 46-25 Vs the Spread: 28-24

After last week’s Broncos-like ass kicking, here are my Week 9 NFL Picks.

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Packers @ Panthers / Line GB -2.5

This game scares me for all the reasons you saw on display last Sunday night. Panthers will have to lose eventually and Sunday could be it. While the Packers still have to navigate the toughest two game road stretch that any team in the NFL will have to deal within 2015. I hope to God I’m reverse jinxing myself but I don’t think Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have bottomed out yet.

Panthers 24 Packers 20 / CAR +2.5

Redskins @ Patriots / Line NE -15

The Redskins have proven to be frisky as of late. While the “Belicheck Machine” has turned in two very different performances at home; a squeaker versus the Jets and and ass kicking against the Dan Campbell’s (Dolphins). Multiple times have teams turned in a back door cover vs the Pats, I’m still picking them to win and win handily, just watch out for the late cover.

Patriots 34 Redskins 20 / WAS +15

Titans @ Saints / Line NO -9

Saint Drew Brees was resurrected last week, after everybody including myself left him for dead on the side of the road after the first 5 weeks. It’s amazing what throwing 7 touchdowns will do for the line. It doesn’t hurt when you fire the worst remaining coach (Ken Wisenhunt) with the best secret stat nobody knew about (4-31 in his last 35 games!). The Saints look to have their mojo back at home and well, the Titans are the Titans. At least they get Mariota back this week, still not enough to pick them.

Saints 31 Titans 20 / NO -9

Dolphins @ Bills / Line BUF -2.5

Lets have an applause for the pretenders of the AFC East division crown. There was a time when Buffalo looked good, and then we realized that Rex Ryan still does Rex Ryan things and he will never be good without a legit quarterback. The Dolphins had that look until last week when they realized they couldn’t keep playing the Titans and Texans every week. Plus the Cameron Wake injury most likely spells the end of their playoff hopes. But there still is 2nd place in the AFC East at stake! Although the winner of this game basically gets a gift bag saying you don’t suck as bad as the other two teams but “no playoffs for you”(Soup Nazi voice)…… Oh yeah, my pick.

Dolphins 23 Bills 20 / MIA +2.5

Rams @ Vikings / Line EVEN

A lot of story lines in this one. It is the quasi game of the week along with GB @ CAR. It could very well be the changing of the guard game for the “Best RB in the NFL”. Adrian Peterson has held the championship belt since 2007 when he wrestled it away from LaDainian Tomlinsen. Todd Gurley has the same look and his play has vaulted the Rams into a legit WC team and possible NFC West Crown discussion if Arizona suffers anymore hiccups on the road. I personally think Minnesota is fraudulent and if they are not, this is the game to prove me wrong……. The Vikings are not going to prove me wrong.

Rams 23 Vikings 20 / STL

Jaguars @ Jets / Line NYJ -9

After looking good against the Pats, the Jets had a WC team feel to them. Then the Raiders kicked their ass up and down the field and took a firm grasp of one of the AFC WC spots. Nothing like facing the Jaguars to get you back into your groove. Only thing, the Jags are not completely terrible as in years past. They have burgeoning offensive weapons in Bortles, Allen Robinson, Yeldon etc. Now while I’m not ready to take the Jags on the road just yet. With the uncertainty at the QB spot for the Jets, 9 is way too much to be giving.

Jets 24 Jags 20 / JAX +9

Raiders @ Steelers / PIT -4

Such a shame for the Steelers offense, their triplets (Ben, Brown and Bell) were on the field together this year for maybe 25 plays? Injuries have had the Steelers just barely hanging on. The Raiders have been impressive in back to back weeks. But now they must take their show on the road. While the Steelers are not at full strength, we have seen their defense make life hell for legit offenses when they play at home (vs AZ and CIN). The Steelers have been here before, the Raiders are now just learning on how to stack success, growing pains often are needed to make the jump to the next level. Gun to my head, I’m going with the Steelers to win but the Raiders to cover.

Steelers 24 Raiders 21 / OAK +4

Giants @ Buccaneers / NYG -2.5

We learned two things last week, the Giants defense is absolutely horrendous and Jameis Winston is starting to do things (“things” my next level analysis for he’s improving). I just can’t get a feel for this Giants team, which is basically the same line toted since the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning era began. Eli and company can score with the best of them, Odell finally looks to be breaking out. The Bucs are still missing Vincent Jackson on the outside and Winston will need as many weapons as he can get. I just don’t see Jameis keeping up in a shoot out if Eli and Odell get hot.

Giants 27 Bucs 20 / NYG -2.5

Niners @ Falcons / Line ATL -7.5

Remember when these two teams played for the 2012 NFCCG? My god what the hell has happened to Kaepernick? He’s fizzled out faster than Linsanity. Ron Jaworski claimed Kaepernick to have the potential to be the greatest QB of all-time?! That is one more reason I hate ESPN for shuttering Grantland, this guy still has a job and Bill Barnwell does not?! Okay, okay, I’m getting off topic. Back to the prediction. Kaepernick is now benched for the 96th Jaguar quarterback to become a 1st RD bust, Blaine Gabbert. The Falcons might be the only team more smoke and mirrors than the Vikings so far in 2015. They have under performed for four straight weeks; after going 15 rounds with the Titans, yes the Titans, Jameis Winston and the Bucs beat them! The only thing saving Atlanta is a cup cake soft schedule, and it will only get easier in facing Blaine Gabbert.

Falcons 27 Niners 16 / ATL -7.5

Broncos @ Colts / Line DEN -5

Is it time to start talking about the 2015 Broncos defense as an all-time great unit? Up there with the ’85 Bears, 2000 Ravens and 2013 Seahawks? It might be. Now granted all the stars aligned for the Broncos on SNF, just like they did for Seattle in SB 48 (sorry Denver fans). But this defense has no weaknesses and I am very curious as to how they match up with the Matinee Idol Tom Brady in a few weeks. Throw along the fact that Peyton looked great last week, as did his offensive line for the first time all year. As for the Colts, the storm is coming, Andrew Luck has gotten the crap kicked out of him all year and is likely playing with fractured ribs for the sole purpose that Chuck Pagano is coaching for his job. T.Y. Hilton is not expected to play and the Colts can’t block. Given those two statements, I’m not sure Luck will make it out of this game alive. I do know one thing, one more ugly loss and Chuck Pagano will not.

Broncos 23 Colts 13 / DEN -5

Eagles @ Cowboys / PHI -3

In the putrid NFC East, everybody still has a shot. The Cowboys defense stood tall last week against Seattle but the same old story popped up again, they will do nothing till Romo gets back. Each week Dallas has needed 2 or 3 plays to turn momentum and win the game, Weeden and Cassell are not going to get it done. As for the Eagles, some how they are still in this thing. It will be interesting if DeMarco Murray can get going in Jerry World. I still don’t know what Chip Kelly’s offensive identity is. I don’t even know who wins this game, the NFC East is that unpredictable. I’m just going to flip a coin, heads its Philly, tails its Dallas…….flips………waiting……….really?! It landed on its side!!!

Urghhhh

Eagles 24 Cowboys 20 / PHI -4

Bears @ Chargers / Line SD -4

The Chargers suffer another big blow in Keenan Allen being out for the remainder of the season. The Chargers have looked good in some games (on the road vs GB) and absolutely terrible in others (at home vs Oak). They have the worst home field advantage in the NFL, away teams routinely come in great numbers and force Rivers to go to a silent count at home (inexcusable for a fan base looking to keep its team). The Bears meanwhile have been frisky as of late and might have been on the road to making some noise but they absolutely blew a very winnable game against Minnesota last week. This is another toss up that I’m not really sure what happens. Screw it. I’m going with the Bears.

Bears 23 Chargers 20 / CHI +4

BTL NFL Mid-Season Awards Podcast

Want to know who’s doing the best coaching job this year? Is the NFL Rookie of the Year award really a no contest?

Check out my buddy Ryan and I debate who are the top three candidates for all the major NFL awards through the first 8 weeks of the season.

NFL Rookie of the Year

NFL Comeback Player of the Year

NFL Coach of the Year

NFL Offensive Player of the Year

NFL Defensive Player of the Year

NFL MVP

-Mike Visconti

An Open Letter to the Packers Offensive Brain-Trust

Dear Brain-Trust,

Mike McCarthy 2006-present: Coach

Tom Clements 2006-present: QB Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Play-caller

Aaron Rodgers 2005-present: Quarterback

Its is now almost 24 hours removed from the most thorough ass kicking the Packers have endured in the modern “McCarthy” era (2011-present). 2-Time NFL MVP and top consenus “most talented” QB in the game, Aaron Rodgers threw for just 77 yards last night, 77 FREAKING YARDS!! How does that happen? Even Brian Hoyer never looked that bad in a game this year. A lot of what happened last night has been a concern for most Packers fans the last few weeks. But not to the level of what we saw last night. That was the most inept showing of offensive football I have ever witnessed as my time as a Packers fan. For the first time ever, at least this far into the season, I don’t know what this teams offensive identity is.

How did it come to this?

How can no one get open? Why is it so hard to get Randall Cobb the ball, when DeAndre Hopkins can get 20 targets a game with 1/10th of the help and quarterback around him. Why have I not seen a damn slant or screen pass sprinkled in the first half when it matters. Greg Jennings on the slant use to be a staple of this offense. I can’t recall the last time I saw a slant. Why is this brain-trust beating a dead horse with the same old shit; Rodgers 7 step drop, wait, wait, wait, nothing, sack, incomplete pass or hoping for an defensive PI. Where is the offense that could count on dinking and dunking all the way down the field, and that was without the threat of a legit run game. When guys like Brandon Jackson and Deshawn Wynn toted the rock. This offensive style and its kryptonite have been brewing for awhile. Remember the Buffalo game last year? They man pressed and rushed four, and it was the same shit down after down. Rodgers dances and dances till he has no where to set his feet, throws off balance and the only reason he doesn’t get picked or tipped ball is because he has enough arm strength and accuracy to put it in a safe incomplete zone. Even with Jordy Nelson last year, there arose times when every Packers fan screamed the same thing, WHY IS NO ONE OPEN?!

What the hell is this present day offense? Why does it seem that the only thing this offense does well is backyard football on a 12-men or off-sides penalty.

Since McCarthy has been here, I have seen his offense go through 3 evolutions.

Evolution #1 (2006-2007)

This was the Brett Favre Years but it was rooted in the West Coast offense. The Packers had no running game to speak of. McCarthy used the short passing game as an extension of the run game. Quick slants, 3 and 5 yard hitch routes and quick outs were the norm under McCarthy/Favre. And Favre fully embraced the West Coast offense in 2007 and had a renaissance year.

Evolution #2 (2008-2010)

This was what McCarthy was brought here to do. Groom and establishment his offensive mindset and scheme with the prototypical QB, Aaron Rodgers. After 3 years of retooling his mechanics and mastering the McCarthy offense, the Rodgers era began. This was known for the same West Coast premise of the previous 2 years but balanced that with the attack of the outside boundaries, middle of the field posts and the patented deep post. But what made these years really excel was the number of different personnel groupings McCarthy deployed. Down after down you saw receivers shuttle in and out, all four tight ends saw exclusive playing time, 5 wide sets, 4 wide sets, tights ends, fullbacks and receivers alike going on and off the field. And each different time, the defense had to react to that and it created advantageous matches.

Evolution #3 (2011-2014)

The Prolific era, really defined in 2011 and 2014, no coincidence that those were Aaron Rodgers two MVP seasons. This offense exclusively attacked the perimeter downfield, no one was better than the Packers at pushing the ball up the field. In 2011 and 2012 the Packers had no run game to rely on at all, but it didn’t matter because no one was better than Rodgers at placing that go route on the money or giving his receiver a 50/50 ball in one on one, and usually his guy won. The 2013 I omit because the main guy in the brain-trust (Rodgers), was not there. They did find a running game in 2013 and that carried over to 2014 where in the first time in the McCarthy Era, the Packers had a balanced offensive attack. They also opted for less variety, going exclusively with a 3WR 1TE 1RB set. The logic was that they could be faster with less substitutions, run more plays, let Rodgers catch them with 12-men and capitalize with some backyard football, everybody go deep and I’ll throw it.

But, teams like the Seahawks, Lions and Bills exposed something, something the Giants did in 2011. Man press at the line, rush with four and “CONTAIN” Rodgers in the pocket. Do that and he begins to dance in the pocket, left, then right, then back, then…….well at this point nothing. So far this season, the Packers offensive identity seems to be wait for an off-sides or 12-men slip up and do some school-yard ball. That is not a reliable offensive scheme. If the opponent is going to line up in man coverage, where are the routes that are designed to beat man coverage? McCarthy? Clements? Rodgers? How come I see Brady, Rivers, Manning hell even Cutler continue to find ways to get their guys open in the middle of the field. Every time I looked Sunday night, a Bronco defender was glued to his hip. Why are their no rub routes, triple sets, screens or crossing routes?! God knows I have seen enough run against us, that shit works. Owen Daniels was out running Micah freaking Hyde on a crossing route. Just throw the damn ball, if old man Peyton can do it, it can’t be that hard. Which brings me to my final point….

Aaron Rodgers

For much of his entire career, Rodgers has been the best at avoiding turnovers. So much so that his TD to INT Ratio is the best in NFL History and its not even close. He has not thrown more than 10 interceptions in a full season since 2010. In fact he hasn’t thrown more than 13 in any season and that was 2008, his first season as a full-time starter. Rodgers and McCarthy believe that ball security is of the utmost importance. But can it get to a point of no return? Some of the Packers fans have wondered whether Rodgers cares too much about his penchant for not throwing interceptions. There were times that Rodgers had guys open, not wide open but NFL open but he refused to throw the ball. Instead looking for a bigger play, and against a defense as good as Denver’s, that will not happen. And lets also point out that Sunday night was his worst game as a professional by far. But it does not hide the fact that for 3 weeks, he has said the receivers need to get separation better, win their one-on-ones better. So far this season that is not happening. Something needs to be done.

For the supposed best quarterback in the NFL, not being able to throw a receiver open is concerning. I saw Philip Rivers do that time and again 2 weeks. Our corners were right there every time. But Rivers countered with back shoulders throws, he fit balls into the tightest of windows. Where is any of that Rodgers? I know you are devoid of Jordy Nelson this year but really? 77 yards! That should never happen under any circumstance, I don’t care if you’re facing the 85 Bears or the 2000 Ravens. 77 yards from one of the best quarterbacks is no excuse. And it’s also time for you to start showing up in big prime-time games. For as much playoff flak that Peyton Manning catches, he always showed up under the big lights during the regular season. Other than the Patriots and Cowboys in 2014, what big game have you won sans your 2010 SB run? You got blasted in Seattle to start 2014. The now benched Kaepernick ran over you in 2012. “Elliot” Manning took it to you in 2011. An all-time great quarterback should not be this average when it counts.

And that is my biggest fear. I know I sound spoiled when just 5 years ago the Packers ran the table and took home SB 45. But I don’t want this team, this quarterback to be just another Drew Brees. I don’t want Rodgers to have all the stats and numbers and have just one ring like Peyton Manning. We’re better than that, you’re better than that. It’s now half way through your career and disturbing trends. When the Jordan comparison surfaced earlier this year, Rodgers said he was not worthy. You’re damn right you’re not worthy. Jordan would never have put up a performance like that on Sunday night. Figure it out, you’re better than this. And I know it is just one loss and a lot of teams would’ve lost to Denver on Sunday night, but things like this harden you for January and that is the only thing that matters. You better figure it out and soon, the undefeated Panthers are up next and that has home-field advantage implications. So if you don’t want to have to go on the road in January, you better bring it this Sunday because another effort like Sunday night’s will just be another wasted opportunity that is starting to become far too common lately.

Figure it out,

Packers Fans