Happy Thanksgiving to all of you chaps and chapettes who make up the Pickwatch nation (not a real country).
Of course, Thanksgiving means many things to different people, but primarily, it means football. Lots of football, all day. It's the one time of the year it's totally acceptable to be hyped up for a Lions game, and it provides a convenient opportunity to express your contempt for the Cowboys too, so that's a bonus.
That's a joke, Cowboys fans. It isn't. You just have to say that.
Anyway, with this being Thanksgiving, I thought I'd do a bit of a sneak preview of some new features that we'll be rolling out over the next few weeks. For those of you who aren't registered, I strongly suggest that you do get with the program and improve your knowledge of your habits and tendencies in anticipation of next year. We're also running a Christmas prize in week 16, so sign up now to stay informed!
Here's what's coming soon:
Favorite Experts List
Users will soon be able to select any expert as a 'favorite', effectively creating a customized view of the table to show only the experts you care about. You'll be able to select them with a star to the left of their name (think Gmail starring of important emails) and then navigate to your favorites list from somewhere just above the table. This one might be in by this weekend in it's basic form!
New Table Look and Features
Our main table is fine, but it's always bugged me that we couldn't show, for example, who won out of the two teams in the schedule. Well, we've got a new way of doing it that will show that! You'll see the date, time and results of every game from now on, and it'll be applied back into the past too.
In addition, the table has been changed slightly to be more user-friendly (no more scrolling issues) and has a few graphical enhancements (network logos for example) coming this week. It won't be drastic, but eventually it will look a lot better. We've added a couple of features such as the excel button and filters which could be homed in the main table itself, for example.
This one has been in development a while, and we're going to launch it at some point... We're going to start with the expert picks filtered automatically for each game to show, for example, who picks the road team the best, who picks the home team the best, and then who has the best overall out of those two, for ATS and S/U. Then we'll be fleshing that out with way more information in time for the playoffs, ie: game stats, rankings etc.
Make Your Picks Button
This is a little addition that we hope you'll enjoy. We're adding a button that will float above the bottom right of your screen that you can quickly jump into to make your picks without leaving the page. In desktop, it'll only partially cover what you're looking at, on mobile, it will take the whole screen, but be able to be minimized and maximized. As an example, if you were reading upset watch, you could easily open up your picks while reading, pick the complete opposite to who I've suggested, and then minimize them while you read the next game.
This is something we will be bringing in once the above are all in - Saved filters, more lists (eg: a list for each team), some automation to make picks for you based on certain criteria (eg: always pick person x or the person with the best record for the Panthers), notifications when your favorite experts make their picks, selecting your favorite team, avatars and rewards/badges for achievements when picking.
We have a list with dozens of extra features that we get suggested every now and then. As an example, we were contacted last week by a user who had used our data to assess which experts pick best on each time slot, as the win % varies wildly. We love the idea, and while we can't drop everything, it will definitely find it's way into the site asap.
So if you have any good ideas for what you'd like us to automate from our data, we're all ears. Or eyes. We're all senses.
Anyway, on with the picks!
Upset of the week: Chicago @ Detroit +3
If you're reading this, then you already know: I've picked the Bears to lose every week for the last three, and they keep winning. And you know what, I'll be damned if I'm going to stop picking against them now if that's all it takes to win a Super Bowl for the first time in my adult life.
Actually, this one is purely motivated by the news that career backup QB Chase Daniel will likely start for the Bears tomorrow. There's STILL TIME to get on that +3 ATS pick until it inevitably comes in. I'd estimate you might even get a pick'em by game time once it's confirmed, but 'Doubtful' in this context indicates a pretty likely chance that Mitch Trubisky doesn't play.
Incidentally, Daniel is very familiar with this scheme, having worked with Matt Nagy in Kansas City, but I'd expect a little bit of ring-rust, and for all the Lions have been hit and miss this season, they're coming off a huge win against Carolina on Sunday. I'm not suggesting they're going to the playoffs, but a win against the NFC North-leading Bears at least keeps them in with a fighting chance. In fact...
2) Green Bay (+3.5) @ Minnesota
Are the Vikes for real? When they play good teams, the answer is... maybe not. They've lost to the Rams, beat the Eagles by 2, tied with the Packers, and lost to the Saints and Bears. The Packers are probably not as bad as has been made out recently, which makes this an interesting one.
The way the Vikes played on Sunday night was an eye-opener, it spoke of a team that might not love the limelight, indeed they also lost to the Saints in more forgiveable circumstances in week 8 on SNF and the Rams in week 4. I worry that this is one of those teams that doesn't like being on primetime TV. Such teams really do exist (ask Giants fans) for some reason.
Maybe it's Kirk Cousins? He's a combined 2-6 in primetime games since the start of last season, and 4-12 since 2014, when he became the Redskins' starter. That's weird, right? Weird enough for me to back the guy wearing 12 who has a habit of pulling off wins exactly when people start driving a wedge between him and coach Mike McCarthy.
3) Atlanta (+13) @ New Orleans
Alright, we get it the Saints are good, but I mentioned this earlier in the season, these two teams play hard. Only once in Matt Ryan's tenure has it gotten out of hand, a shellacking as Drew Brees set the single season passing record in 2011. That was effectively a dead rubber (the Falcons were assured of a WC spot). That's the only game in the entire series, road or home, between these two QBs, that has finished with a Saints win by more than 10 points.
13 points is a staggering number for an offense as high-octane as Atlanta. Oh, for sure the Saints have one of the best, if not the best offense in the game, but Atlanta are right up there with them, 6th in total offensive yards. I think the Saints have proved they deserve to be favorites, I'm just not convinced that their game against a poor Eagles side last week was indicative of what they'll face in a far tougher divisional matchup.
4) Oakland (+10.5) @ Baltimore
My reaction to this spread was... what? 10.5pts? Yes, the Raiders are bad, I mean REALLY bad, but they will be ready for a big dose of Lamar Jackson, and as much as I don't trust Gruden, I also don't trust this Ravens team with a backup QB who runs the ball more than he throws it. I'm not saying they can't win, but this has 'low scoring' written all over it.
5) Washington (+7) @ Dallas
Did you know: Colt McCoy's last win as an NFL QB came in a primetime game against the Cowboys in 2014? I'm not saying that's a portent on it's own, but McCoy is not inexperienced and showed accuracy and ball security during his last stint as a starter with the Redskins. He's a pretty good dual threat, and this game is really not that different on either side when you consider Dak Prescott's trials this season and last.
It's Thanksgiving, and while that adds a different dynamic in JerryWorld (WHICH MIDDLE OF THE ROAD AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT WILL THEY HAVE TO BORE US WITH AT HT?), the 'skins aren't pushovers. I'm genuinely intrigued by McCoy in this game, it could be one of those moments where people realise he might be capable of winning games at this level. Maybe.
6) Seattle (+3.5) @ Carolina
OH HERE WE GO. You know what this is? This is where we say that the Panthers lost and the Seahawks won, ergo that will happen again. Well... yes that's exactly what I'm saying.
The Seahawks look pretty good on offense at the moment, averaging nearly 27pts a game against decent teams like the Rams x2, Chargers, Packers. They're notoriously slow starters with Russell Wilson at QB, but I think he's beginning to trust some of his weapons and get the Seahawks into a groove offensively.
Meanwhile... what has happened to the Panthers? Two losses on the spin with just 21 and 19 points is not going to cut it in the high-powered NFC South. They haven't been beaten at home yet, but this certainly feels like two teams headed in opposite directions offensively. I think Russell Wilson is rushing an awful lot more, while Cam looks somewhat less comfortable at the moment, rushing for just 12 yards on 4 carries over the last two weeks. Maybe that's the reason for the Panthers struggling? Either way, his injured ankle on Sunday won't make the Panthers more likely to force it...
7) New York Giants (+6) @ Philadelphia
Our methodology (average underdog wins over last 5 years for this gameweek) calls for 6.6 underdogs, so we'll round that up to 7. The Giants are in a funny old spot here. They've turned a corner a little against two bad teams (SF, TB) but could well profit from the seeming disarray in Philly. The Eagles have lost 3 of their last 4 and their last 2 games have gone terribly.
My Eagles supporting friend called the game against the Saints perfectly. They have next to no secondary (4 DB's missed practice today) and it's not an opportune time to face a Giants team on a high after back to back wins. Eli Manning has thrown 5 TD's to zero INT's in that time, and seemingly overcome his gunshy approach to get ODB back into play. This Eagles secondary might not have had anyoen to cover Beckham Jnr. when it was healthy, let alone with most of it's starters injured.
6 Points is a lot of points for one of the most beat-up teams in football to win by in a tough divisional game, particularly given the stakes. A win for the Giants may keep them in play for the playoffs, in the division that nobody seems to want to win...
Here's the rest of the games, ranked by chance of an underdog cover:
Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-3)
San Francisco @ Tampa Bay (-3.5)
New England Patriots (-9.5) @ New York Jets
Arizona @ LA Chargers (-12)
Miami @ Indianapolis (-7.5)
Jacksonville (-3) @ Buffalo
Pittsburgh (-3) @ Denver
Tennessee (+6) @ Houston