NFL Week 4 picks 2012

The refs are back for Week 4 and it’s almost hard to believe how supportive the public has been. How many times have you ever heard: “Yeah, we lost, but the refs we’re great today!”?

Yeah, never. People don’t like referees. It’s a thankless job with an approval rating that will rarely top 50 percent.

More often than not, the refs are a scapegoat for a player or team looking for a reason other than that they weren’t good enough.

And yet, on every team I’ve ever played on, in every sport, at every level, there have been officials who were … less than perfect. It’s just human nature and even “professional” refs will still make mistakes.

Players and fans alike say they’re excited for the return of “real” refs. That’ll last until the first call that goes against them. How long will that take? Two weeks? Five minutes?

Then it’ll just be back to the way things were: with those darn refs blowing the game for you once again. At least now they’ll be informed mistakes.

(Oh, and it’s Patriots week. I’m taking the Bills +4 with a fourth-quarter drive making the difference in the game.)

New England at Buffalo (+4) — Bills

Minnesota (+4½) at Detroit — Lions

Carolina (+7) at Atlanta — Atlanta

San Francisco at N.Y. Jets (+4) — 49ers

San Diego at Kansas City (+1) — Chiefs

Tennessee (+12) at Houston –Houston

Seattle at St. Louis (+2½) — Seattle

Miami (+6½) at Arizona — Arizona

Oakland (+6½) at Denver — Denver

Cincinnati at Jacksonville (+ 2½) — Jags

New Orleans (+7½) at Green Bay — Green Bay

Washington (+3) at Tampa Bay — Tampa

N.Y. Giants (+2) at Philadelphia — Giants*

Chicago (+3½) at Dallas — Chicago

Overall:

Graham 23-19-3
DiCesare 22-20-3
Skurski 20-22-3
Sullivan, Northrop 15-27-3
Gaughan 14-28-3
IAGS 12-30-3

Best Bets:

Gaughan 2-0-1
IAGS, DiCesare 2-1
Skurski, Sullivan 1-1-1
Northrop 1-2
Graham 0-2-1

Last week:

Bills at Cleveland (+3) — Bills
Bills 24-14. Win

St. Louis (+7½) at Chicago — Rams
Bears 23-6. Loss

Tampa Bay (+7) at Dallas — Dallas
Cowboys 16-10. Loss

San Francisco at Minnesota (+7) — 49ers
Vikings 24-13. Loss

Detroit at Tennessee (+3½) — Detroit
Titans 44-41. Loss

Cincinnati (+3½) at Washington — Redskins
Bengals 38-31. Loss

Jets at Miami (+3) — Jets
Jets 23-20. Push

Kansas City (+9) at New Orleans — Saints
Chiefs 27-24. Loss

Jacksonville (+3) at Indianapolis — Colts
Jacksonville 22-17. Loss

Philadelphia at Arizona (+4) — Cardinals
Cardinals 27-6. Win

Atlanta (+3) at San Diego — Falcons*
Falcons 27-3. Win

Houston at Denver (+2) — Broncos
Houston 31-25. Loss

Pittsburgh at Oakland (+4) — Steelers
Raiders 34-31. Loss

New England (+3) at Baltimore — Pats
Ravens 31-30. Win

Green Bay at Seattle (+3½) — Green Bay
Seahawks 14-12. Loss

* Best bet

Largest line of the season: Arizona +13.5 at New England (Week 2)

NFL Week 3 picks 2012

The Buffalo Bills go to Cleveland this week. It always seems like the Browns give the Bills problems, but the defense woke up last week and I like its chances against rookie Brandon Weeden this week.

Bills at Cleveland (+3) — Bills

St. Louis (+7½) at Chicago — Rams

Tampa Bay (+7) at Dallas — Dallas

San Francisco at Minnesota (+7) — 49ers

Detroit at Tennessee (+3½) — Detroit

Cincinnati (+3½) at Washington — Redskins

Jets at Miami (+3) — Jets

Kansas City (+9) at New Orleans — Saints

Jacksonville (+3) at Indianapolis — Colts

Philadelphia at Arizona (+4) — Cardinals

Atlanta (+3) at San Diego — Falcons*

Houston at Denver (+2) — Broncos

Pittsburgh at Oakland (+4) — Steelers

New England (+3) at Baltimore — Pats

Green Bay at Seattle (+3½) — Green Bay

* Best bets

Overall:
Skurski 15-13-2
Graham 14-14-2
DiCesare 14-14-2
Northrop 12-16-2
Sullivan 11-17-2
Gaughan, IAGS 8-20-2

Best Bets:
Gaughan, DiCesare 2-0
Skurski, Sullivan 1-0-1
Northrop, IAGS 1-1
Graham 0-2

Last week:
Skurski, Graham 7-6-2
DiCesare, Northrop 5-8-2
Gaughan, IAGS, Sullivan 4-9-2

Largest line of the season: Arizona +13.5 at New England (Week 2)

Last week:

Kansas City (+3) at Bills — Chiefs
Bills 35-17. Loss

Tampa Bay (+7) at Giants — Giants
Giants 41-34. Push

Arizona (+13½) at New England — Pats
Cards 20-18. Loss

Minnesota at Indianapolis (+1½) — Vikings
Colts 23-20. Loss

New Orleans at Carolina (+2½) — Saints
Panthers 35-27. Loss

Baltimore (+2½) at Philadelphia — Ravens
Eagles 24-23. Win

Oakland at Miami (+2½) — Raiders
Dolphins 35-13. Loss

Cleveland (+7) at Cincinnati — Bengals
Bengals 34-27. Push

Houston at Jacksonville (+7) — Texans
Texans 27-7. Win

Dallas at Seattle (+3) — Cowboys*
Seahawks 27-7. Loss

Washington at St. Louis (+3) — Rams
Rams 31-28. Win

Jets (+5) at Pittsburgh — Jets
Steelers 27-10. Loss

Tennessee (+6) at San Diego — Titans
Chargers 38-10. Loss

Detroit (+6½) at San Francisco — 49ers
49ers 27-19. Win

Denver (+3) at Atlanta — Broncos
Falcons 27-21. Loss

4-9-2

NFL Week 2 picks 2012

The Buffalo Bills’ Week 2 home opener against Kansas City is a game most fans had circled as a win before the season.

How quickly things change.

It’s only one week into the season and the Bills have the same record as teams like the Giants, Saints and Packers right now, but there’s not a lot from last week to build on. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw passes like his ribs were still broken, Mario Williams blitzed like he had all $100 million of his salary in quarters strapped on his back and two offensive starters were lost to injury.

Chan Gailey and the Bills have plenty of time to right the ship on the 2012 season, but nothing they did last week would indicate they can win Sunday by at least a field goal. I could see the Bills pulling out a close one, but until I see further evidence, I’m taking the points.

Statistical odds and ends:

–This Bills are accomplishing the rare right now of leading the NFL in both rushing yards per game and points allowed. That’s including the early game this week.

–Yes, the Bills beat the Chiefs last year 41-7. That’s means … very little. If calling up past success was that easy, the Bills would be 1-0 after Fitzpatrick led the attack over the Jets last week.

–Storyline to watch in this game is Eric Berry on Stevie Johnson. Johnson ended Berry’s season last year on a run block. I’m willing to bet Berry hasn’t forgotten about that.

Kansas City (+3) at Bills — Chiefs

Tampa Bay (+7) at Giants — Giants

Arizona (+13½) at New England — Pats

Minnesota at Indianapolis (+1½) — Vikings (Andrew Luck’s third down passer rating was 0.0 last week!)

New Orleans at Carolina (+2½) — Saints

Baltimore (+2½) at Philadelphia — Ravens

Oakland at Miami (+2½) — Raiders

Cleveland (+7) at Cincinnati — Bengals

Houston at Jacksonville (+7) — Texans

Dallas at Seattle (+3) — Cowboys*

Washington at St. Louis (+3) — Rams

Jets (+5) at Pittsburgh — Jets

Tennessee (+6) at San Diego — Titans

Detroit (+6½) at San Francisco — 49ers

Denver (+3) at Atlanta — Broncos

Largest line of the season: Arizona +13.5 at New England (Week 2)

Last week: Gaughan 3-12, Skurski 7-8, Graham 6-9, Sullivan 6-9, DiCesare 8-7, Northrop 6-9, IAGS 4-11. Rough starts all around. We learn. We adjust.

Overall:
DiCesare 8-7
Skurski 7-8
Northrop, Graham, Sullivan 6-9
IAGS 4-11
Gaughan 3-12

Best Bets:
Gaughan, Skurski, Sullivan, DiCesare, IAGS: 1-0
Graham, Northrop 0-1

Last week:

Bills +2.5 at New Jersey Jets — Bills.
Jets 48-28. Loss

Indianapolis +9.5 at Chicago — Colts
Bears 41-21. Loss

Philadelphia at Cleveland +8.5 — Eagles
Eagles 17-16. Loss

Washington +7 at New Orleans — Redskins
Redskins 40-32. Win

New England +5.5 at Tennessee — Patriots*
Pats 34-13. Win

Jacksonville +4 at Minnesota — Vikings
Vikings 26-23. Loss

Miami +12 at Houston — Dolphins
Texans 30-10. Loss

St. Louis +7 at Detroit — Lions
Lions 27-23. Loss

Atlanta at Kansas City +3 — Chiefs
Falcons 40-24. Loss

San Francisco +5 at Green Bay — 49ers
49ers 30-22. Win

Carolina at Tampa Bay +2.5 — Panthers
Bucs 16-10. Loss

Seattle at Arizona +2.5 — Seahawks
Cardinals 20-16. Loss

Pittsburgh +1.5 at Denver — Broncos
Broncos 31-19. Win

Cincinnati +6 at Baltimore — Bengals
Ravens 44-13. Loss

San Diego +1 at Oakland — Raiders
Chargers 22-14. Loss

4-11, 1-0

*Best bet

Griffs get Syracuse back on schedule

Jim Baron’s first season as Canisius basketball coach will feature games against Syracuse, Temple, UNLV, Buffalo and St. Bonaventure, according to a source.

The team’s schedule was released today, without including games from an event called the Gotham Classic, a relatively new college basketball pseudo-tournament Canisius will be participating in. From the release:

The Gotham Classic is the nation’s newest men’s college basketball event. The format features two high-profile teams hosting three games on campus before advancing to New York City. The other three teams in the event will play a home-and-away round-robin, giving each participant four games in this multi-team exempt event. Canisius is scheduled to play three of its games in the Gotham Classic on the road with the opponents, dates and times to be announced in the very near future. This marks the first time Canisius has played in an exempt regular-season event since the Griffs traveled to the Southern Miss Christmas Classic during the 2009-10 campaign.

According to a source, Canisius’ Gotham City games will be as follows:

–Dec. 15 at Syracuse
–Dec. 19 at Temple
–Dec. 27 home vs. Alcorn St., 7 p.m.
–Dec. 29 at Detroit

With nonconference games against Longwood on Dec. 17 and at UNLV Dec. 22, the Griffs will have six games packed between Dec. 15 and 29 before MAAC play reopens after the New Year.

Canisius opens the season at home on Nov. 14 against Boston University before hosting local rivals St.Bonaventure and UB. Canisius’ Big 4 games are as follows:

–Nov. 17 home vs. St. Bonaventure, 4 p.m. (men’s/women’s doubleheader)
–Nov. 20 home vs. UB, 8 p.m. (doubleheader)
–Jan. 27 home vs. Niagara, TBA
–Feb. 10 at Niagara, TBA

The MAAC tournament opens March 8 in Springfield, Mass.

Only the preseason? Fitzpatrick, Bills look like it’s still the preseason in opener

The preseason doesn’t matter, right? Save it. The Buffalo Bills continued their sleepwalk into the regular season Sunday, dropping the opener for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.

Looking at the final stat lines doesn’t begin to tell the story of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s day at MetLife Stadium. For most of Sunday’s season opener against the New York Jets, Fitzpatrick was a boy lost in a man’s world.

Fans were calling for Vince Young to come back. And you know it’s bad when Mark Sanchez shows you up.

Fitzpatrick and Sanchez both threw three touchdown passes in what would be a 48-28 Jets win, but Sanchez got all three of his when it was still a game, well before Fitzpatrick could put anything together. The Bills finally got the ball moving through the air after New York went up 41-7, with Fitzpatrick’s three garbage-time touchdowns matching his three interceptions.

Saying Fitzpatrick couldn’t get comfortable in the pocket would be putting it nicely. He was terrible in the first half and merely bad in the second.

Fitzpatrick forced passes into windows he’d be lucky to hit at a family picnic, let alone with a pass rush in his face and Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in coverage. He threw to receivers that weren’t even sort-of open, missed reads and was late on his throws. Jets cornerbacks had a field day in the first half — and if they messed up, Fitzpatrick’s throws didn’t make them pay.

The defense wasn’t any better. Mario Williams, Mark Anderson and the new-and-seemingly-unimproved defensive line was invisible. The Bills didn’t have a sack and weren’t even credited with a QB hit.

The secondary got picked apart by Sanchez and a slew of largely unknown receivers. Leodis McKelvin followed Fitzpatrick’s lead of continuing last season’s struggles, getting picked on routinely. Rookie Stephon Gilmore didn’t look good, nor did sophomore Aaron Williams.

For all the time the Bills defense spent worrying about Tim Tebow and the Wildcat offense, Tebow didn’t get to throw once and wasn’t much of a factor. Then again, he didn’t have to be — Sanchez took care of the scoring.

One of the few positives of the game was C.J. Spiller’s career-high 169 yards on just 14 carries (12.1 yards per attempt), though it may have come at the cost of losing Fred Jackson for an extended period of time. We’ll know for certain how bad his knee injury is after an MRI tomorrow, but it looked pretty bad when it happened. Receiver David Nelson’s knee injury could be even worse.

Starting the regular season doesn’t mean there’s some switch the team flips to automatically start playing good football. It’s going to take more practice and more players playing like they should (Mario Williams? Williams? Bueller?). Probably the only good news ahead for the Bills is that Kansas City and Cleveland are the next two opponents on the schedule. But Fitzpatrick and Co. better figure something out soon. If they play like the did Sunday against New England and San Francisco, it’s going get a lot uglier than a 20-point loss.