5th-anniversary-redThere are some NFL picks below, but first an invitation.

Five years ago, two days after the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-19 to improve their record to 5-10, my wife gave me the most important Christmas present I have ever received — this site. At the time I was writing two weekly pieces about local sports for the Danville Times, a weekly insert in The Valley Times (a Bay Area News Group paper). The first incarnation of BayAreaSportsGuy.com was bare bones, and for months I’d try to write once or twice a day about the horrible professional teams in our area.

In 2008 the Giants went 72-90. The A’s went 75-86. The 49ers went 7-9. The Raiders went 5-11. The Warriors went 48-34 and missed the playoffs. Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford Cardinal improved to 5-7 after a 4-8 season in 2007. The only team that made the postseason was the Sharks, and I’ve never been a hockey writer. The weekly paper I wrote for was discontinued in a round of BANG buyouts, and I shifted every bit of my spare time (I was working 40-50 hours per week at a desk job I hated at the time) to my passion: writing about all these struggling teams, even though the only people reading were my friends and family.

Since then, things have changed for the better for nearly everyone. The Giants won two World Series; seeing the A’s clinch the AL West in person was something I’ll never forget; Harbaugh brought the 49ers back to prominence, Stanford is a national powerhouse, and even the Warriors are showing signs (we’ll just ignore the Raiders and Cal for now). This site still exists (after a few re-designs), now with contributing writers and actual traffic and ads and stuff!

None of this could have happened without the support of everyone who’s read this site — in 2008, today and every day in between. And to thank you, here is…

The Invitation:

We’re going to watch the 49ers play the Patriots at Northstar Cafe in North Beach, and we’d like you to come join us. We’ll be celebrating our little anniversary too, but there’s a lot in this for you, the hungry reader!

  • FREE Amici’s pizza
  • FREE BASG “Who’s Got it Better Than Us?” Koozie
  • Drink specials
  • 49ers vs. Patriots on all kinds of television screens for your viewing enjoyment

So come join us, and if you’re thinking of coming head over to our Facebook Event Page to check out the details and RSVP (that’ll help us know how much pizza to order).

Onto the picks!

Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles
**Bengals won 34-13**
Bay Area Sports Guy: Bengals
East Bay Sports Guy: Bengals
Bay Area Stats GuyEagles
Ruthless Sports Guy: Bengals
Bay Area Duck Guy: Bengals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (-4)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Saints
East Bay Sports Guy: Saints
Bay Area Stats Guy: Buccaneers
Ruthless Sports Guy: Buccaneers
Bay Area Duck Guy: Saints

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans (-11)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Colts
East Bay Sports Guy: Colts
Bay Area Stats Guy: Texans
Ruthless Sports Guy: Colts
Bay Area Duck Guy: Texans

Denver Broncos (-2.5) @ Baltimore Ravens
Bay Area Sports Guy: Ravens
East Bay Sports Guy: Broncos
Bay Area Stats Guy: Ravens
Ruthless Sports Guy: Broncos
Bay Area Duck Guy: Ravens

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins (-8)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Jaguars
East Bay Sports Guy: Dolphins
Bay Area Stats Guy: Dolphins
Ruthless Sports Guy: Jaguars
Bay Area Duck Guy: Dolphins

Washington Redskins (-1) @ Cleveland Browns
Bay Area Sports Guy: Redskins
East Bay Sports Guy: Redskins
Bay Area Stats Guy: Redskins
Ruthless Sports Guy: Redskins
Bay Area Duck Guy: Redskins

Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams (-1)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Rams
East Bay Sports Guy: Rams
Bay Area Stats Guy: Rams
Ruthless Sports Guy: Rams
Bay Area Duck Guy: Rams

Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Chicago Bears
Bay Area Sports Guy: Bears
East Bay Sports Guy: Bears
Bay Area Stats Guy: Bears
Ruthless Sports Guy: Packers
Bay Area Duck Guy: Packers

Seattle Seahawks (-7) @ Buffalo Bills
Bay Area Sports Guy: Bills
East Bay Sports Guy: Seahawks
Bay Area Stats Guy: Bills
Ruthless Sports Guy: Bills
Bay Area Duck Guy: Seahawks 

Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers (-2.5)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Chargers
East Bay Sports Guy: Panthers
Bay Area Stats Guy: Chargers
Ruthless Sports Guy: Panthers
Bay Area Duck Guy: Panthers 

Detroit Lions (-7) @ Arizona Cardinals
Bay Area Sports Guy: Lions
East Bay Sports Guy: Lions
Bay Area Stats Guy: Lions
Ruthless Sports Guy: Lions
Bay Area Duck Guy: Lions 

Pittsburgh Steelers (-1) @ Dallas Cowboys
Bay Area Sports Guy: Cowboys
East Bay Sports Guy: Cowboys
Bay Area Stats Guy: Cowboys
Ruthless Sports Guy: Cowboys
Bay Area Duck Guy: Cowboys 

New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans (-1)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Titans
East Bay Sports Guy: Jets
Bay Area Stats Guy: Jets
Ruthless Sports Guy: Titans
Bay Area Duck Guy: Titans 

***

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders (-3)

Bay Area Sports Guy: A man has to stick to his principles, I guess. I’m shocked this game sold out and will be shown locally. There must have been a sizable group of fans who bought tickets weeks ago because it’s the Raiders’ last home game, plus the Raiders and Chiefs have a storied rivalry and all that. It’s supposed to rain this weekend, too. Pick: Chiefs

East Bay Sports Guy: The Raiders should win this game. But I can’t pick them in good faith. The Rolando McClain fiasco combined with the recent cuts have provided too many distractions. I think Kansas City runs the ball to victory. Pick: Chiefs

Bay Area Stats GuyThis is probably up their with the worst match ups of the year. Fortunately for one of these teams they will leave with a victory. The model likes the Raiders by 4 points the scary part of the pick is that the most common margin is 3 points so this very well would be a push. Pick: Raiders 

Ruthless Sports Guy: This is kind of a sad line for the Raiders, considering homefield advantage accounts for three points and Oakland is only favored by 2.5. I actually think the Raiders will dominate this game, but not by any of their own merits. Pick: Raiders

Bay Area Duck Guy: Earlier this year, I kept waiting for the Chiefs to figure it out and start winning some games. That really never happened, so I’m going with the Raiders here. It’s in Oakland, so the silver and black should make something happen in this division game. Pick: Raiders

***

San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots (-4.5)

Bay Area Sports Guy: After the NFC Championship Game, I wrote how the saddest part about losing to the Giants was that I was so certain that the 49ers would’ve dismantled the Patriots in the Super Bowl. I stand by that, but these are not the same teams. Both are better, but how much? The 49ers’ offense has more weapons at its disposal now than they did back in January, and the Patriots can run the football now. The one thing I’m wondering is whether San Francisco’s pass rush is as good as it was at the end of last season, Aldon Smith’s sack numbers notwithstanding. I think this is a game where the 49ers come out motivated to prove to a national audience that their defense belongs in a category with the great defenses in franchise history, of which there are many. Even if they Patriots do prevail, I have a hard time believing it’ll be by 5+ points unless the Niners get very sloppy. Pick: 49ers

East Bay Sports GuyFor personal reasons, I hope this game is crazy high scoring, with Wes Welker catching four or five touchdowns. That aside, I think the 49ers’ defense wins the game. I know that’s a shallow reason for picking the 49ers, but really, the Patriots give up 376 yards per game, which is 26th worst in the league. They’re success is predicated on turnovers, which they’ve been very good at achieving thus far. But a Harbaugh-led offense, no matter the quarterback, is one that doesn’t turn the ball over.  Maybe Tom Brady finds a way to outscore the 49ers, but aside from Wes Welker, what weapon does he have that the 49ers do not have an answer to? Pick: 49ers

Bay Area Stats GuyThis will be a tough test for the 49ers defense, if they can keep the Patriots under 25 points I think that they can win this outright but I am not certain that will happen. I am afraid of Wes Welker running wild on them even with the Guy laying out ways to stop him. I have the Patriots winning this game nearly 70% of the time with the model projecting a margin of 7 points. I would be happy to be wrong here. Pick: Patriots

Ruthless Sports GuyMy heart says the 49ers will win this game. My mind says the 49ers won’t. Lets meet in the middle and say they cover the spread. Pick: 49ers

Bay Area Duck Guy: The Patiots shredded Houston in New England last week, and Tom Brady stood upright for most of the game. San Francisco will have to completely demolish New England’s offensive line to have a chance in this game, and I just don’t see that happening in Bill Belichick’s backyard.  My gut tells me the 49ers make it closer than the Texans did, but Colin Kaepernick will really be put to the test in a tough venue on the road. He has the potential to explode on national television like he did in his debut on Monday Night Football against the Bears, but at this point I think that’s a long shot. Pick: Patriots

***

GAME OF THE WEEK:
New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons (PK)

Bay Area Sports GuyI’m having a hard time telling the Falcons and Texans apart at this point. New York will miss Ahmad Bradshaw, but not that much. Pick: Giants

East Bay Sports GuyStatistically speaking, these two teams are heading in the opposite direction. Where the Giants have shown vast improvement, despite the loss to Washington, the Falcons have taken a nosedive. On defense, they’ve given up an average of 412 yards the past three weeks. In that same time, their average scoring margin has been just +0.3,  which is 5.7 points lower than their season average. I think New York easily beats an Atlanta team that has peaked. Pick: Giants

Bay Area Stats GuyIgnoring the Falcons record and looking at what they have actually done on the field, there is no way in the world you would expect them to be among the NFC’s best teams. According to Football Outsiders DOVA they are the 14th best team in the NFL this season, the Giants are the 5th best team. Just looking at this and not even looking at the fact that the model like the Giants by 5 points taking the Giants is a pretty easy choice. Pick: Giants

Ruthless Sports Guy: These damned NFC East teams always seem to teeter on the edge of mediocrity until the very end of the season, which means that we always have the Giants and Cowboys shoved down our throats ad nauseum  this time of year. After annihilating the Saints last weekend, the Giants are following that trend in suddenly playing great football. To my chagrin, they’ll probably pull out another well played game against the Falcons, who looked awful last week. Pick: Giants

Bay Area Duck Guy: You never know what Giants team will show up each week, but Atlanta just isn’t a team that can compete with New York’s pass rush. Even though Atlanta is a very tough place to play, my money is on Eli Manning to get the job done against the Atalanta secondary. Every Falcons game has been close and for some reason I have a feeling Matty Ice will get knocked down too much to win a close game.  Pick: Giants