Maybe my own words came back to haunt me.
Last week, I touched on the likelihood of a major shift coming, and how it would wipe out those not prepared. As “prepared” as we were, we still weren’t immune.
But, as always, these weeks are inherent with the game we’re playing.
The good news – and I say this out of realism and not optimism – is that much of what happened doesn’t change the state of the league. Teams that were supposed to perform a certain way either did or were given the opportunity to and simply missed. The numbers may look bad, but the results – the real results on which we focus – say otherwise.
And that’s where we will look in Week 7.
Below are predictions for each game against the spread. Spreads have been taken from various websites and are subject to change. The spread in parenthesis denotes the selected team. An asterisk denotes a confidence pick.
*Confidence Picks – 2019 Season: 22-15-1 (Last Week: 2-3)
(2018 Season: 63-48-4) (2017 Season: 53-48-4) (2016 Season: 53-67-3) (2015 Season: 69-45-2) (2014 Season: 61-46-2) (5-Year Total: 299-254-15)
All Picks Against Spread – 2019 Season: 47-44-1 (Last Week: 5-9)
(2018 Season: 137-118-12) (2017 Season: 137-119-11) (2016 Season: 123-136-8) (2015 Season: 143-117-7) (2014 Season: 149-114-4) (5-Year Total: 689-604-42)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals
Sometimes, I take notes after a game. It’s always with the same intention of deciphering which element was valid and which was a product of opponent.
For example, I wrote about the Jacksonville Jaguars that I can’t and won’t bail on Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars’ offense, but the combination is probably going to be a function of opposing defenses and head coaches. Playing against the Saints’ defense – which had allowed fewer than 260 total yards of offense in back-to-back weeks – and Sean Payton – who has now orchestrated three consecutive wins via a backup quarterback – should have been signs of trouble. I apply these notes to the future.
When Jacksonville’s opponent is someone like New Orleans – given the aforementioned constraints – we should be careful. But, when the Jaguars are playing a Cincinnati Bengals team allowing the second-most yards-per-game, the fifth-most points-per-game, and after giving up more than 1,000 total yards over the past two weeks, the only concern would be ignoring the head coach. So, we won’t. We’ll add Zac Taylor into the mix.
Taylor’s team is 0-6 and now preparing for a trip to London to face his former employer.
If the Jaguars are a threat to be stopped by defense and head coaching, then the Bengals are arguably the least capable team of rising to the occasion.
Jacksonville gets back in the win column via a ten-point victory, covering the spread
Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5)
Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers
Where is the love for the Oakland Raiders? If not love, then where is the respect?
There was no such respect when the Raiders were big underdogs in Indianapolis. And Oakland won.
There was no such respect when the Raiders then went to London as underdogs against the Bears. And Oakland won.
And yet, heading into a game against the Green Bay Packers after a bye week, the Raiders are still heavy underdogs.
Where is the respect?
There is none. Because, Oakland is still being viewed as the franchise that traded away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper and still has years to go before it can compete.
Except, that isn’t true. It clearly isn’t true, because the Raiders are competing now.
At 3-2, Oakland has not exactly lit the world on fire in any single category. But, perhaps it is well-coached and well-prepared. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Raiders gave head coach Jon Gruden a ten-year deal. Maybe, just maybe, he knows what he’s doing. With an additional week to prepare for the Packers, Gruden’s influence will only increase.
Conversely, Green Bay will enter Sunday’s game on a short week after playing a hard-fought, one-point game against a division rival. This, with a trip to Kansas City on Sunday night looming. I write about ‘traps’ whenever I see them. This one goes under the category of ‘sandwich game,’ where a perceived weaker opponent – Oakland – is “sandwiched” between two ‘more important’ ones. Again, the Raiders will be overlooked.
And the Packers will be overbought. They, too, do not light up the world in any singular statistical category. Perhaps the 5-1 Packers and 3-2 Raiders are closer than people think. If they each have two losses after this week, this realization might start to spread.
The Raiders pull off another outright ‘upset,’ winning by a field goal and beating the spread.
Confidence Pick: Oakland Raiders (+5.5)
Click here to sign up for Sporfolio to see the rest of Mario Mergola’s NFL picks against the point spread. Mergola finished with the highest total of correct NFL picks against the spread for 2015 and 2016 – tracked by NFLPickwatch, and finished 2018 with an accuracy of 56.8% for his confidence picks. His 5-year record for all NFL games against the spread is 689-604-41!