Another week, another losing record against the spread. At this point with my season record being something like 20 games under .500 (refusing to actually go back and look), it’s time to try different things.
This week’s theme is: Don’t think, just do it. What it means is that I made all of my picks this week without visiting a single website to do any research. Every pick was based on either my instincts or knowledge I already have stored in my head. There was no visit to Football Outsiders, each team’s schedule, the NFL standings page or sites that would give me injury news on key players (this probably means there will be some major inaccuracies in this column). A typical picks column probably takes about five hours for me to research and write. This week’s picks took me less than an hour.
If I go 14-0 this week, I will feel like I wasted roughly 44 hours over the first 11 weeks of the season.
Before I jump into the picks, I want to address one oversight from my totally justified Patriots-Panthers rant from Tuesday’s column: The 49ers have almost as much of a claim to getting jobbed by the referees last week as the Patriots do. The Ahmad Brooks roughing the passer penalty when he tackled Drew Brees around the shoulder was outrageous. There were three marquee games in week 11. It was perfect timing for such good matchups because November is when the football season really feels like every game is of vital importance. I was looking forward to watching all three games and hoping they’d be memorable. Unfortunately the referees destroyed the joy in two of the three games (only the Broncos-Chiefs game was spared a controversial ending, but it was downright boring…so much for a good weekend of football). This week was the first time I’ve ever thought about reconsidering how much I really enjoy watching football.
In the words of the increasingly-looney Alex Rodriguez: “This is ridiculous!” (while slamming my hands on a table).
Let’s just get on to another week of failed picks and lost money:
New Orleans (-10) @ Atlanta
Atlanta is particularly horrible so even the fact that the Saints struggle on the road shouldn’t be enough to deter me from picking them to cover this very large spread. But the fact that it’s a Thursday night game is what’s really making me pick the Falcons to cover. New Orleans is coming off an intense, physical game against San Francisco, and we’ve already seen so many teams struggle with the quick turnaround on Thursdays. I like the Falcons to cover while the Saints take the road win, 30-24.
Tampa Bay @ Detroit (-10)
The Bucs are on a roll! The Lions refuse to get on a roll! I feel like this game could see 147 failed trick plays because of the coaches involved. This line seems high based on the way Tampa Bay is currently playing. Tampa covers. Lions win 26-21.
Jacksonville @ Houston (-10) (CONFIDENCE PICK)
I want to make sure I fully understand this. Vegas made the Texans a 10-point favorite last week when they learned that Matty McGloin would be the starting QB for the visiting Raiders. Then Houston went out and got owned by those Raiders. And Vegas said, “Fuck it, let’s run it back…Houston by 10 again!”?? I guess we’re going with three heavy underdogs to start week 12. I say Jacksonville wins outright, 29-24.
Minnesota @ Green Bay (-5)
I meant to bring this up last week. I think the Vikings should treat the quarterback position like it’s a baseball pitching rotation & bullpen. Make one QB the starter. He gets to stay out there until he starts to have a meltdown or gets tired later in the game. Then they insert their middle reliever to be the bridge from starter to closer. The closer would be whichever QB is best at kneeling down and draining the clock because ideally your closer comes in when you have a lead and just need to end the game.
Anyway, as bad as I thought Christian Ponder would be coming into this year, I never thought the Vikings would have the most dysfunctional QB situation. Maybe it makes Minnesota fans feel better to know the rest of the country is genuinely enjoying the QB carousel and Leslie Frazier’s apparently strong motivation to lose his job.
None of those previous two paragraphs help me decide on this game because Mr. Scott Tolzien will be starting for Green Bay once again. I’m going with the Vikings to pull off the upset, making people even more aware of Aaron Rodgers’ irreplaceability. Minnesota wins 31-27.
Did I just pick four underdogs to start the week? Three of whom are on the road and all of whom are five-point or greater underdogs? I think I did. I’m sure that’ll work out perfectly.
San Diego @ Kansas City (-5) (CONFIDENCE PICK)
Either the Chiefs respond to their first loss in a big way by crushing the Chargers at home (after all, this Charger defense might make the Kansas City offense look competent). Or they start to fall apart…still burned by the Denver game, already thinking about the week 13 Denver rematch. Taking a frisky San Diego team lightly. This game almost feels like a coin flip, but there’s one important aspect. Let’s say the Chiefs have a narrow lead late in the 4th quarter. Traditionally they play conservative and rely on field position and defense to wrap up the victory, but knowing that Peyton’s offense comes to town in week 13, I think Andy Reid gets a little more aggressive offensively in this game to prepare for the Broncos. Instead of holding onto a three-point lead, maybe he takes a chance and gets an extra touchdown. Sure, let’s go with that. Chiefs cover and win, 31-21.
Carolina (-4.5) @ Miami
It’s tough to predict this game because we don’t know if the referees are fixing games for the Panthers only when they’re at home or regardless of where they’re playing (I’m joking, relax). Listen, Ryan Tannehill has been hit a lot this year, and he’ll still be dealing with an offensive line comprised of mostly backups. I can’t wrap my head around why San Diego wasn’t able to beat the Dolphins last week, but it might be as simple as “The Chargers suck.” We know Carolina is a solid football team. The only way they don’t cover is if this turns into a letdown game after two HUGE wins the past two weeks. I can’t make a pick based on a team maybe having a letdown. Let’s go with a Carolina cover as they win 33-21.
Pittsburgh @ Cleveland (-1) (CONFIDENCE PICK)
If you read my picks regularly, you know I’m going with Cleveland. The streak of the home team winning these AFC North matchups is unbroken this year. This should actually be Cleveland -3, but people are getting roped back in by the Steelers. The Browns win 24-20.
Chicago @ St. Louis (-1)
Don’t see how the Rams are favored here. Josh McCown hasn’t looked any worse than Jay Cutler for the most part. In fact, is there a chance the Bears let Cutler sign with another team in the offseason because they think they have his much cheaper equivalent already on the roster? Probably not, but it’s fun to think about Cutler taking over for Carson Palmer in Arizona next year. The Bears win 38-28.
NY Jets @ Baltimore (-4)
Well, it’s an even-numbered week so the Jets should win. But their road record doesn’t inspire much confidence. But on the other side of the ball, the Ravens don’t inspire much confidence no matter where they’re playing. The Jets defense is probably going to hold up pretty well against the anemic Baltimore offense. I think the Jets’ season record after this week will look like this: W-L-W-L-W-L-W-L-W-L-W. That means the Jets cover and win, 16-12.
Tennessee @ Oakland (PICK)
I hear Matty McGloin is starting again for the Raiders even though Terrelle Pryor is healthy…Hmm…I’m going to predict that Oakland will be punished by souring on Pryor so quickly. The Titans win 30-13.
Indianapolis @ Arizona (-1) (CONFIDENCE PICK)
Whereas the Colts don’t have any make or break games left to earn a playoff spot (because their division is really really terrible), this has make or break all over it for Arizona. They’re 6-4, right in the mix with teams like San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit and Carolina for a wildcard spot. To get to 10 wins, I think they’re going to need this game. Do you think Chuck Pagano takes it easy on Bruce Arians since Arians did such a good job of babysitting Indy last year while Pagano was undergoing treatment for cancer? Doesn’t really matter as I think a road game against such a good defense will be too much for the Colts. Arizona wins 28-20.
Dallas @ NY Giants (-3)
Sign me up for the Giants creeping even closer to the division lead. I’m hoping the three way tie between Philly, Dallas and the Giants for the division title comes down to at least the third tiebreaker (win-loss record in common games). There’s a reasonable chance all three teams finish with the same overall record and the same divisional record. Can’t wait. This is one of those games where I want to predict a push, but let’s go with a four-point win by the Giants, 24-20.
Denver (-2.5) @ New England (CONFIDENCE PICK)
Last time the Patriots felt boned/screwed/utterly perplexed by an end-of-game referee’s decision, they went on to win their next two games by a combined 34 points. I didn’t have to think that far back since the previous boning happened only five weeks ago. So that’s one reason why I think they take care of business on Sunday night.
Another reason: One of my high school friends passed away almost a year ago. Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine who was also a good friend of his was trying to convince me that the deceased friend’s spirit had intervened in her life and communicated with her via a coupon to Banana Republic (long story to understand exactly what she was talking about). I laughed it off even as she told me others have felt this guy looking down on them over the past year. No more than 10 days later I had a dream that the Patriots lost to the Panthers 10-9 (didn’t exactly work out that way, but close enough) and I was pissed. But our new guardian angel came to me in the dream and told me not to worry, the Pats were going to take care of business in a big way sometime soon. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how this friend died on November 24th last year. And I immediately figured out that the 24th falls on a Sunday this year. And I felt like he was telling me big things were coming for New England on that specific day….without even looking at the Patriots’ schedule, I just knew the Broncos game fell on the 24th.
That was the most roundabout way that anyone’s ever said they think someone up in heaven is going to affect a sporting event. I probably should have just said, “I have a friend who’s going to pull an ‘Angels In The Outfield’ for the Patriots this week.”
Hey, if Danny Amendola is suddenly leaping 14 feet in the air to make catches, and LeGarrette Blount is running through tacklers like he’s got another person pushing him down the field, just remember that I warned you. Patriots win 49-35.
Side Note: The part of the story I’m leaving out is that I woke up thinking Tom Brady would throw 8 touchdowns against Denver in this game. But no amount of heavenly intervention can make me predict that.
San Francisco (-6) @ Washington
I have no spiritual intervention story for you on this particular pick. I just think the Redskins are a really really crappy team. There should be red flags all over this game telling us to stay away from the 49ers. They haven’t looked the Super Bowl contender we all thought they’d be, and they’re coming off a long road trip to New Orleans last week. But I think the Redskins’ crappiness trumps the 9ers’ mediocrity and tough travel schedule. San Francisco covers with a 23-14 win.
For those of you keeping score at home, in week 12 I’m picking:
- 6 Favorites & 7 Underdogs
- Of those 7 Underdogs, 2 are Home Dogs & 5 are Road Dogs
Enjoy week 12…hope the refs don’t fuck it up for everyone.