All lines courtesy of bodog.eu as of 1 November, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. PST.
Okay, so last week with my picks I kinda sorta wet the bed. This week, if I do the same I might have to enter early retirement, at least as far as making picks on NFL action is concerned.
With that noted, let us begin….
FALCONS (+7.5) over Panthers
You know who’s had the easiest strength of schedule in the NFC in 2013? The Panthers, at a svelte .370. The only two clubs that have played a softer schedule in the entire NFL are the Chiefs (.328) and Broncos (.368), who have combined to go 15-1. The Panthers, meanwhile, are 4-3 — nothing to sneeze at, of course — but something tells me if you’ve already began drinking the Cam Newton Kool-Aid, you might be mistaken with your beverage of choice. As far as the Falcons are concerned, even in spite of injuries to their two biggest boundary weapons — Julio Jones and Roddy White — and the fact that this is a road game for them, they might be the best of all the NFL’s trash this year. Especially on offense (5th in efficiency). Since it’s a division game, expect the scoring to be low, which should favor the touchdown-plus road underdog.
Cowboys (-10) over VIKINGS
Tony Romo is a beast playing in Dallas. The Vikings, regardless of venue, are terrible, particularly in the two most important departments on the field: quarterback and defense. With Christian Ponder apparently making his second consecutive start, that doesn’t bode well, even if I was able to muster the fortitude to name anyone on their offense outside of Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph. (Is Greg Jennings still alive?) Conflate that with all of last week’s supposed Dez Bryant sideline drama against the Lions, and all of his sanctimonious detractors, and you might be looking at a super blowout in favor of the team that isn’t Minnesota.
SAINTS (-6) over Jets
Rex Ryan has a penchant for getting his teams ready to play up to the level of stiff competition. This year alone they’ve narrowly lost to the Patriots (Week 2), defeated the Patriots in overtime (Week 7), and beat the Falcons in Atlanta (Week 5) before anyone truly knew how shitty the Falcons were. Though, with that said, 6 points just isn’t enough for me to get tempted in picking the Jets over the Saints. Drew Brees and his core of receivers are just too good, and the Geno Smith-led Jets won’t be able to keep up, or at least they shouldn’t on paper. After this matchup with New Orleans, New York faces Buffalo, Baltimore, Miami (twice), Oakland, Carolina and Cleveland, so there should be plenty of wins for them between now and the end of the regular season, and I’m a firm believer in teams playing their best when they are most desperate. Since that isn’t the case, the Saints shouldn’t have many problems in this one.
Rams (+3) over TITANS
The Seahawks barely escaped St. Louis with a win last Monday night, a shock to almost everyone who is both (a) a football fan and (b) breathing. There isn’t any one thing I love about the Rams (other than, maybe, their defensive line), so it’s really saying something about the Titans that I’m not picking them to win in Jake Locker’s return to action. I’m thinking it will be an ugly, barely watchable game — which is why I’m not going to watch it — with the winner being the first team to 17 points.
CHIEFS (-3) over Bills
Per Advanced NFL Stats’ defensive efficiency ratings, the Chiefs have the best defense in the NFL. So that’s good. Per offensive efficiency, the Chiefs are slightly below average, hanging out with teams like New England and Miami just to the left of the median line. I’m not a fan of this matchup, but I do think Kansas City “finds a way to win,” or whatever, even though Buffalo has two things going for itself: They are at home, and they have some quarterback starting that no one has ever heard of; I’d mention his name if I could remember what the hell it is. This will either spell disaster for the Bills or some magical upset no one saw coming, except me, of course. My heart leans towards the latter — even being a KC fan — but my rational mind still tells me the Chiefs win this game something like 24-7, so I’m rolling with that.
Redskins (+1) over CHARGERS
When Phillip Rivers played at North Carolina State, I could never decide if it was he making them better than they really were, or if the team around him was so good that he won football games simply by being a part of it. At various stretches during his NFL career, I’ve felt the same way. He has played for some excellent Chargers’ teams during his 9- or 10-year professional campaign, and at times he’s also looked like a deer in the headlights. After last season — where it appeared Rivers was done for — he has proven that maybe he isn’t complete dog shit, possibly leading San Diego to a #6 seed in the playoffs in 2013. Will he? We’ll see. With two mediocre, at best, defenses, this matchup has all the makings of a game being played in the upper-30’s, and Robert Griffin III and Washington are just too desperate for a win.
EAGLES (+3) over Raiders
When you see the spread is only a field goal, common sense dictates the game is more or less a tossup as far as Las Vegas in concerned. If this game was being played in Philly, you’d probably see the Raiders getting the points, and you’d probably also see me picking the Raiders. As it stands, however, the Eagles are said road team, the Raiders are said home team, and I can’t bring myself with confidence to pick Terrell Pryor to cover the spread.
Seahawks (-17) over BUCS
Typically with such a large spread, I’m leery in taking the favorite. Factor in that Seattle doesn’t have a very good offense to begin with, and they might not even score 17 points in the entire game, let alone winning by as many (or in this case, more). Still, Tampa Bay is in disarray, actively doing whatever the hell they can to make sure their coach gets… well… canned. I’m hesitant with this pick, but the alternative would be to assume Mike Glennon actually scores some points in the harshest environment in professional sports. And that, comrades, I cannot do.
RAVENS (-3) over Browns
Who would’ve thought Jason Campbell would have led the Browns not only to cover the spread in Kansas City last week, but bring them within one possession of pulling off such a miraculous upset? Not me. Definitely not me. This week Cleveland is at home, playing a lesser opponent, and still I’m like, “No, it couldn’t possibly. Can it?” I won’t be shocked to see the Browns pull one out of their asses against the defending Super Bowl champs, but the Ravens have underachieved all season long, and it’s about time they start playing like they want that whole postseason thing to happen again.
Patriots (-7) over STEELERS
Once upon a time I drafted Tom Brady in the 3rd round of my fantasy football draft. He then went on to throw 9 TDs next to 6 INTs in the first 8 weeks of the football season, averaging 16.1 points per game, good for 20th among qualifying quarterbacks. Wait, what? That was this year. YOU LET ME THE FUCK DOWN TOM BRADY AND NOW I’M STARTING TONY ROMO AHEAD OF YOUR BITCH ASS FUCK YOU. Okay, calming. Calming down right now. Yeah, that’s what I’m doing. What? I’m calm. I swear.
Say what you will, but this is the either the most underrated Patriots team I’ve ever seen, or maybe just the first time they could even possibly be considered “underrated” during the Tom Brady era. The offense isn’t that good — not yet, at least — but the defense is actually quite stout. Teams have had a hard time scoring on them, as they are 2nd in the AFC (behind Kansas City, naturally) allowing just 18.0 points per contest. The Steelers, on the other hand, have averaged only 17.9 points per, one of the lowest figures in the AFC. All signs point to a slugfest, but don’t be surprised when Tom Brady suddenly throws a 40 spot on some defense.
COLTS (-2) over TEXANS
Is Arian Foster healthy? Can the Texans defense stop anybody? And why the hell is Case Keenum starting over Matt Schaub? Oh, it’s the pick 6 thing? Or is it the stupid “He’s lost his confidence” narrative? I don’t know. All I know is the Colts are a better football team, with a better defense and a better quarterback, and Houston is on the precipice of a heavy organizational turnover. Not sure what all that means on Sunday night, but the smart money is on Andrew Luck to be better than Case Keenum.
Packers (-11) over BEARS
This game is predicated on Jay Cutler being inactive. If Cutler was starting, the line would only be about half what it is now, and the Bears would actually have a puncher’s chance of winning in Green Bay. I’m much more in love with Chicago when Jay is healthy than I am with the Packers with their current roster intact (which is a slight overstatement, given injuries to James Jones and Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley and oh hell whoever else is injured over there). Still, Green Bay is pretty good, and the Bears aren’t… not with one of the McCown boys under center.
Last week: 5-7