Week 9 NFL Picks (And My Search For Gainful Employment)

old-man-crystal-ball

This is shaping up to be a shorter-than-usual picks column. I’ll pause while you scream with joy.

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Done?

Awesome.

Typically I spend most of my Tuesday and Wednesday combing through NFL results, stats, analysis…anything to distract me from my pursuit of writing.

But this week I’m learning a tough lesson. And that lesson is this: Restaurant jobs are a young man’s game.

Deciding after 18 months of semi-retirement that getting some income might not be the worst idea, I spent the last few weeks debating what type of work I wanted to dabble in. The key is for that work not to take away too much time from my writing.

I have experience in only two professions…selling software and waiting tables.

Oh, make that three professions actually. Sunglass sales too.

OK fine, four professions. Library security guarding would be the fourth.

I’ve been out of the sunglass game so long I wouldn’t even know where to begin. And I haven’t seen the inside of a library in 10 years. Do they exist anymore? Didn’t the internet + Kindle + iPad + the world moving towards an uneducated majority put libraries out of business?

So that leaves two options. And I came to the realization long ago that the reason I become voluntarily unemployed for a few months every couple years is because I hate software sales so very much.

The pattern is: work at 70% effort level for three years, save money, don’t put money towards the things adults eventually need money for (house, wedding, kids, timeshare in Aruba), instead drain all that money by “taking a break from the sales career,” decide during that break that I’m never going back to sales, beg my way back into sales when the money runs dry.

Long story long, I started a job at a fancy Mexican restaurant this past Tuesday. Even though I interviewed to be a server, they start everyone off as a busser for training purposes. When I first worked in a restaurant 10 years ago, it was the same thing. But back then I had a young man’s body and energy. Back then it was a bunch of college kids socializing and flirting throughout our shifts. Back then I spent more time figuring out which waitress I was going to bend over a barrel and show the 50 states to later that night.

These past two days I’ve come home from three-hour shifts and felt like I needed to soak in one of those ice baths for 30 minutes. I can hardly walk. I dislike the thin layer of sweat, cooking oil and salsa that covers my entire body. It doesn’t feel like a bunch of college kids hanging out and planning the after-work party. It feels like adults who are actually trying to make a living. I almost threw out my back hauling a full trash barrel to the dumpster on Wednesday.

Part time restaurant jobs do not typically include benefits. Therefore if I do throw out my back, it’s going to take somewhere in the range of 15-20 shifts to make enough money to cover the costs of a chiropractor.

This is not good.

In conclusion, it turns out I don’t hate software sales that much after all.

In further conclusion, my football research time this week was spent trying to play a young man’s game. And I lost.

 

Here are the week 9 picks:

Cincinnati (-3) @ Miami

When I did my line guessing on Monday night, I had Cincinnati as a 6.5-point favorite. So you can probably guess which way I’m going in this game. Now that the Dolphins have lost four in a row to fall to 3-4 on the season, the only result that’s confusing through their first seven games is their win at Indianapolis. Don’t know how to explain that one. But wins over Cleveland and Atlanta don’t seem that good at this point, and they’ve lost home games to Baltimore (3-4) and Buffalo (3-5). They aren’t good and they’re also down an important receiver in Brandon Gibson. What am I missing? The Bengals roll, 27-16. 

Side Note: Another strike against the Dolphins’ chances on Thursday is THISIf the prank was anything other than the rest of the O-line showing him pictures of them gang-banging his wife/girlfriend, he’s a friggen wimp and should be cut.

Atlanta @ Carolina (-7.5)

I would have loved to see Vegas still refusing to give the Panthers the respect they deserve. But alas, the Falcons have been so bad the line makers had no choice but to stretch this to more than a touchdown. I’ve placed my biggest bet of the week each of the past three weeks on a Carolina cover, and they’ve come through each time. I know my luck is going to run out sooner than later, but I just don’t want to bet against them until they face a team that actually has a chance to win. I think Cam Newton can tear up this atrocious Falcons defense. I say Carolina wins by 10….30-20 final score.

Minnesota @ Dallas (-10.5)

I’m making this pick before we even know which terrible option the Vikings are going with at quarterback on Sunday. And before we even know if Minnesota’s going to make the trip to Dallas or just forfeit the game. And I’m still picking the Vikings to cover. This Cowboys team doesn’t deserve to be this big of a favorite against anyone not named Jacksonville. And coming off that loss in Detroit…the Cowboys being the most mentally weak team I’ve ever seen. No way they cover. If Minnesota was starting someone at QB that was at least the caliber of Tim Tebow or Brady Quinn, I’d be picking them to win outright. Instead I’ll go with a Cowboys win, 24-20.

New Orleans (-6) @ NY Jets

I was hoping this line was a little bit higher so I could feel even more sure about the Jets covering. Yes, the Saints were one play away in that Patriots game from still being undefeated. And no team has lost a game by more points in 2013 than the Jets’ no-show at Cincinnati last week. I feel like people would bet on the Saints even if the line was closer to 10. But not me. I love the Jets in this game. I dare you to look at who the Saints have played so far this year and still feel like they’re a sure-thing Super Bowl contender (the combined record of the six teams the Saints have beaten this year? 16-28). On the road against a good defense (I know, I know, that “good D” just got torched for 35 points)…and don’t forget the Saints have the uglier Ryan twin. And looks are extremely important for determining who’s better just as much in football as they are in all parts of life. Give me a Jets cover, but a Saints win, 31-27.

Side Note: As I mentioned in my week 8 recap column, this Jets team might be really difficult to pin down for the rest of the year. Win one, lose one. Keep a game close, get blown out. It seems like as Geno Smith goes, so go the Jets. And rookies tend to be pretty unpredictable. A pick for or against the Jets will almost never be a confident one from me.

Tennessee (-3) @ St. Louis

This is one of those games that leaves you feeling clueless about football. Should the Titans really be favored against anyone on the road? Should the Rams be even more of an underdog because Kellen Clemens is their best option at quarterback? It’s a waste of time to try to pick this game based off of statistics and research. I’m going to say that since the Rams were able to keep their game against Seattle on Monday to a five-point loss, they will also play Tennessee close. I’m taking the Rams to cover with a 21-18 win (I’d really like to call a push here and say the Titans win in overtime, but that seems like a very specific prediction).

Kansas City (-3) @ Buffalo

This line makes no sense. The 8-0 Chiefs against the 3-5 Bills. Of course it seems like this should be a 7-point spread regardless of Kansas City being on the road. But it looks like Vegas won’t let me outsmart them this time. I’ve been picking against the Chiefs the last two weeks and even promised to keep picking against them as recently as two days ago. I was just waiting for them to be a heavy favorite so I could roll over my World Series profit on the Bills (I did actually take the Sox to win it all back in April at 30/1 odds. Hurray for me!). You know what? Screw it. I’m still taking Buffalo to cover. Here comes KC’s first loss of the season. The Bills win 27-23.

Side Note: You know dynamic runner/receiver Jamaal Charles? The guy with all the speed who you think should be able to carry the load for the Chiefs in this game? Well keep in mind Darren Sproles had 0 rushing attempts and only 4 receptions (for 0 total yards) against the Bills last week. Not saying they’re the same player, but this Bills D might be really good against guys like that.

San Diego (-1) @ Washington

This is already the fourth game of the week where we have a road team favored by three points or less. These are frustrating games to pick. In the Norv Turner era, I would have quickly taken the Redskins and moved on, mostly because I would have felt like the Chargers would be looking ahead to week 10 where they’ll be facing Denver for the first time this year. But this is not the Norv era anymore, and the Chargers have had two weeks to prepare for RGIII. And don’t forget that while San Diego was relaxing on the beach last weekend, the Skins were getting beat up against the Broncos. Let’s dub this game “The One That Caused Obnoxious Media Personalities To Start Screaming For Kirk Cousins To Be Named The Starter So RGIII Can Get Healthy For Next Year.”

San Diego wins 31-24.

Philadelphia @ Oakland (-2.5)

On Monday I saw some websites that had the Eagles actually favored by the 2.5 points. Unfortunately my gambling website hasn’t posted a line for this game all week. Probably waiting on more certainty around the Eagles’ starting QB. But if Bovada had listed the Eagles as any kind of favorite at any point this week, I would have bet so hard on Oakland. You already know that I’m sneaky in love with the Raiders so the change to them being favored in this game does nothing to my pick. I’m taking the Raiders to cover and improve that sterling record to 4-4 with a 26-21 win over the Eagles.

Tampa Bay @ Seattle (-17)

Ahh, the final game on Greg Schiano’s season-long farewell tour. It’s the polar opposite of the Mariano Rivera farewell tour. Listen, I’ve been on a team where everyone hates the guy in charge (mine was a sales team, but still). It’s a toxic atmosphere. Guys stop doing their work and instead spend most of their time trash-talking the boss. They stop paying attention to details because subconsciously they want to sabotage the entire operation. Sometimes, like in almost every season of Survivor, a team wants someone gone bad enough that they consciously throw a game/challenge/whatever to further justify that person’s ousting. The Bucs will not compete in this game. And don’t forget that the Seahawks are coming off their version of a loss…a close road win that feels like a loss but still ends up in the win column. Seattle rolls to a 38-9 win.

Baltimore (-3) @ Cleveland

I’m not taking the bait on this one. I get it, you want me to take the Browns. Lots of people are going to be taking the Browns. After all, the Ravens have already lost road games to Buffalo and Pittsburgh, both by three points. And Cleveland played the Ravens very tough at Baltimore in week 2. And Jason Campbell didn’t look “that bad” against the Chiefs last week. And both teams are under .500 so why does it make sense that the road team would be favored? But my counter is this: It’s the NFL. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, you don’t. Oh, and Baltimore’s had two weeks to get ready for a divisional matchup that they’re very motivated to win. These next two weeks are pretty much the season for Baltimore (they host Cincinnati in week 10). I’m picking the Ravens to cover with a 23-15 win.

Pittsburgh @ New England (-7)

I got incredibly lucky picking the Patriots last week. If New England doesn’t block that field goal late in the game, it’s a push. And if the Dolphins don’t screw up another field goal early in the 2nd half, where the ball hit the upright, the Dolphins easily cover. So I should say thank you to the football gods and not take my chances on another Patriots seven-point cover until they prove to be worthy of it. New England’s injury report is still alarmingly littered with important players. Gronk got added this week with a hamstring injury. Amendola, Bolden, Edelman and Marcus Cannon were already on there for the offense. And Aqib Talib’s status remains a mystery. Even if New England plays its best game of the year, this is ripe for a backdoor cover by the Steelers. I see the Patriots winning, but only by four. 27-23 is the call.

Indianapolis (-2.5) @ Houston

Ummmmmm….only 2.5? Is that real? And why isn’t it available on my gambling site so I can bet all of last week’s winnings + the Red Sox money + the cash advance I’m going to add to my balance later today? You want to tell me Reggie Wayne’s absence is going to hurt the Colts? Fine, but what about the fact that both Arian Foster and Ben Tate might miss this game? This Houston team is nothing without its running game. And Gary Kubiak’s worried enough about his running back tandem that he signed three free agent RBs this week just in case. This is not a trap game for the Colts as they literally have no difficult competition on the horizon (next 4 games: St. Louis, Tennessee, Arizona, Tennessee). And Indy’s already proved they can win on the road when they handled San Francisco earlier this year. Please let this game show up on Bovada with the current spread that I’m seeing on other sites. I could forego all restaurant and sales jobs if I can just get money down on this line now. I’m clearly taking Indianapolis by a score of 31-20.

Chicago @ Green Bay (-11)

I spent a solid 20 minutes looking for some logical reason to pick the Bears in this game. I’ve already picked enough favorites this week, including one double-digit favorite in Seattle. I want to go underdog here, but there’s just no statistical evidence that Chicago will put up a fight. Even with Jay Cutler the Packers have pretty much owned Chicago in Green Bay over the past five years. And you may have heard that they won’t have Cutler this time around. My only concern is the backdoor cover, but just like Aaron Rodgers was motivated last week to put up an extra score or two because of the Greg Jennings trash talk and playing a divisional rival, so too will he be motivated against their biggest rival in the Bears. Let’s ignore the backdoor potential and say Green Bay covers with a 36-20 win.

 

For those of you keeping score at home, in week 9 I’m taking:

  • 8 Favorites & 5 Underdogs
  • Of those 5 Underdogs, 3 are Home Dogs & 2 are Road Dogs

Now if you’ll excuse me, day three of the great restaurant experiment is calling.

Enjoy week 9.

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