Last Publish (Week 4): 3-2
Season: 13-7 (.650)
Because of a glitch which will not be discussed on this page, Chuck’s Choices, which had been running under the title Inside the Lines on another website, was not published last week. Since my picks were unable to be viewed, it would be misleading to include them in my season total. For that reason, we will pick up where we left off (with a 3-2 record in Week 4) and move on with a smile and a positive attitude. For the rest of the season you will find Chuck’s Choices right where they belong—on Chuck’s World, for as long as I create this crazy column.
Three years ago—after a hiatus of some 30 years—I was talked into joining another Fantasy Football league by my brother, Gary. Little did I know how much my research each week in putting my fantasy team together would give me clarity into the probability of some teams beating the Las Vegas point spreads each week. There is a certain amount of knowledge which can be gleaned each week, simply by knowing that Team A is 3rd in the NFL in points allowed to running backs, and is a 7-point underdog this week to Team B. In other words, fantasy research is, in essence, real world research. My choices to beat the spreads each week include much reading on football and gaming websites like SportsMemo and Pregame.com, but there is also as much time spent on the ESPN Fantasy Football website digesting information from Matthew Berry and the rest of the fantasy experts. This is the reason why, in some of my capsules, you might see fantasy tidbits thrown in as well. It is the ultimate “fantasy meets reality” scenario.
On to Week 6 of the NFL season. May all your parlays come true. (Home Team in ALL CAPS)
Chiefs (+4.5) vs VIKINGS—The Chiefs are 1-4 this season, but are probably better than some 3-2 teams. They opened the season with a win over Houston, but have since lost games to the Broncos, Packers, Bengals and Bears. With the exception of Chicago, it has been a “Murderer’s Row” of a schedule. They have not given up on the season, and Coach Andy Reid can motivate his team on the road (84-54 against the spread). In their last 20 road games, Kansas City has lost against the spread only six times. Fantasy-wise, the Chiefs are strong against running backs, and may force Teddy Bridgewater to win the game with his arm. With Jamaal Charles out for the season with a knee injury, the Vikings defense will have to respect both the run and pass. In this scenario, I will take more than a field goal. Chiefs 27, Vikings 23
BROWNS (+4) vs. Broncos—It is hard to pick against the Broncos, but this game is simply a feeling. If Broncos fans are honest, they will admit their team has been extremely fortunate in reaching their undefeated 5-0 record. They got a pick-6 late in the game to beat the Ravens in Week 1, a fumble return for a TD to defeat the Chiefs in Week 2, and they beat the Raiders last week without scoring an offensive touchdown. Down through the years, when Denver had their great teams, their stumbling block was always their first venture into the early game in the Eastern Time Zone. The absence of DE Demarcus Ware won’t help, either. Look for the Browns to score a few early TDs before the Broncos defense wakes up on Sunday morning. Cleveland hangs on for, at worst, the point spread win. Browns 17, Broncos 10
Dolphins (+1) vs. TITANS—There is always an infusion of both energy and positive attitude that comes with a coaching change, and we get a double-dose in this game for the Dolphins. Coach Joe Philbin was fired following the team’s loss to the Jets in London two weeks ago. The most important change, however, happened when new coach Dan Campbell fired defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, replacing him with defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo and reassigning several others on the staff. Reading between the lines, the players really seemed to want the change at the top on defense. When the season started, the Dolphins seemed to have the talent to challenge New England for the top spot in the AFC East. It is hard to say if they are that good, but they do have the talent on both sides of the ball to embrace the change and beat Tennessee. If these coaching changes mean anything at all to the Dolphins players, they had better bring it to the field quickly. New defensive schemes should be enough to stifle Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense. Anything the Miami offense can contribute is gravy. Dolphins 27, Titans 9
Cardinals (-4) vs. STEELERS—It is very hard to pick a favorite on the road—especially on their second straight foray into an early game in the east. The Cardinals, however, are a bird of a different color this year. Coach Bruce Arians seems to have the golden touch in preparing his team each week and the Steelers will, once again, be without QB Ben Roethlisberger. Even with the win last Monday night in San Diego, Pittsburgh was unimpressive—especially QB Michael Vick. There is a bit of extra incentive for Arians in this game, as he was fired as the Steelers’ OC in 2011. Arizona has always had a great defense, and now the offense, behind QB Carson Palmer, is beginning to reach that same “juggernaut” status. Cardinals 31, Steelers 17
Patriots (-9) vs. COLTS—It is time to jump on the runaway locomotive called the New England Patriots and ride it out. The Pats are on an exhibition tour of the U.S., and the next stop is Indianapolis. Coach Bill Belichick seems determined to not only beat teams, but whip them into submission. The “Deflategate” scandal has put a scowl on the faces of every New England player, and they are taking no prisoners. Now they visit the home of the team who ratted them out to the NFL for a contest they have had circled on their calendar since Brady was freed in the week before the season began. If the Patriots have a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter of this game, there will be no taking time off of the clock. Belichick will be trying to score at every moment, and then deny it in his news conference after the game. The amazing part is that New England has the team to do it. Patriots 45, Colts 13