When my weekly picks dipped to nearly 20 games below .500 back in mid-October, I didn’t panic or throw in the towel. I didn’t walk away from my commitment to posting my picks every Thursday. I didn’t even make excuses.
Because I just knew my year was mirroring the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Tampa Bay Bucs…not nearly as pathetic as my record seemed, destined to turn it around and at least end up with a season that could be classified slightly above “hot garbage.”
But after a November with only one winning week, including a putrid 6-9-1 record in week 13, I’m starting to think my season will end up mirroring the Atlanta Falcons, or worse, the Houston Texans. I started off OK, nosedived almost immediately, tanked even worse at the halfway point, and have now apparently hit rock bottom. My only concern is that this might not be rock bottom. What if I have an 0-16 week on the horizon? Holy shit. That would potentially be the worst moment in my lifetime of following sports. If that happens, I’d maybe think about offing myself and leaving my life savings to my loyal readers as an attempt at reparations. Let’s not spend another second considering that possibility.
For week 14 I’ll be watching the majority of the games in my brother’s man cave in San Francisco. Does the change of scenery perhaps help snap me out of this funk? Doubtful, considering last time I visited San Francisco was week 9 and I put up a gaudy record of 4-9 against the spread.
Is there a hex-breaking dance I can invoke to end this awful year of picks?
Should I try a new strategy? The last two weeks was my trial run of “don’t think, just pick,” and while my cumulative record over that time was a non-disastrous 14-15-1, it’s still not good enough.
Should I go the opposite way and use no instincts? Instead relying purely on Football Outsider’s current DVOA rankings as if there’s no human element whatsoever in picking NFL winners.
In dire times like these, I always fall back on one mantra: What Would Belichick Do?
You may think I’m about to say, “He wouldn’t give up. He’d play til the final whistle. So that’s what I’m going to do.” But actually I’m going another way with this. After Belichick gave Stevan Ridley chance after chance to become a reliable (read: NON-FUMBLING) featured back in the Patriots offense, he was finally left with no choice but to distance Ridley from any situation that could allow him to impact the game. And it came to a climax last week when Ridley was mercifully deactivated against the Texans.
So you know what I’m doing for my week 14 picks? I’m benching myself. And just as Ridley spent that entire game at Houston on the sidelines carrying around a football while in street, I’ll be carrying around a printed out copy of the week 14 lines and will be studying them as I watch each game (in street clothes). Maybe I’ll learn the proper way to evaluate football teams.
But have no fear because I’m replacing myself in the starting lineup with someone who would have most definitely outpicked me had I given her a chance to do so over the course of the year. My girlfriend Julie will be making a pick for each game and providing the logic behind each pick.
(But you don’t think I can skip a week of picks entirely, right? After all, I still need to make picks against the spread for my Pick ‘Em Leagues. So my picks will be included below Julie’s, but I’ll warn you again…if choosing which picks to rely on, go with my girlfriend’s 100 times out of 100.)
Let’s get to the debut of “Julie Outpicks Her Degenerate Boyfriend Even Though She Hasn’t Watched More than 11 Minutes Of Football Since 2007.”
(Note: My comments/explanations on Julie’s picks are in parentheses. And many of her comments read as if she’s having a conversation with me more so than talking to the readers.)
(Note #2: When Julie says things like “I always pick [TEAM X],” she means she picks them in the giant $1 parlay that I let her do on my betting website every week. And since she’s never won any of those bets, you’d think maybe she’d change it up from the teams she always picks. But no.)
Houston (-3) @ Jacksonville
Julie’s Pick: “I’ll go Jacksonville based on the home team advantage. Maybe Uncle Mo will be in the house.” (That’s short for momentum, by the way…I should also note that she repeatedly referred to Houston as “Texas.”)
Ross’s Pick: Never seen a line make less sense than this one. Jacksonville should be favored by 3.5. Jags cover and win outright 36-27.
Kansas City (-3) @ Washington
Julie’ Pick: “Oh, Washington because it’s Werner’s team.” (Our college friend who’s a big Washington fan who probably suspects Julie’s just as big of a jinx as I am. At least now he can blame their 10th loss of the season on her instead of me.)
Ross’s Pick: Best news for Washington players in a long time: After this week, they only have one more home game for the rest of the season. That means only one more opportunity to disappoint their fans. Kansas City covers with a 27-17 win.
Minnesota @ Baltimore (-7)
Julie’s Pick: (She lets out a huge sigh at the mention of this game.) “Baltimore… Maryland… Hmm…I’m gonna go Minnesota because they both have the cold weather advantage and always an underdog wins, at least one, maybe more.” (I honestly have no clue what this means.)
Ross’s Pick: I guess technically Baltimore’s “on a roll” right now. And Matt Cassel’s starting for the Vikings. You know what? Wouldn’t it be just like the annoying Ravens to round into form in December and make people think they have another out-of-nowhere Super Bowl run in them? Disgusting, but I’m taking Baltimore to cover with a 28-17 win.
Cleveland @ New England (-11.5)
Julie’s Pick: “I abstain from the game with the home team always…and by home team, I mean the team that Ross roots for because he’ll be miserable or mad at me if I pick them and they lose. And if it was any other matchup you know I’d pick Cleveland because of Romeo Crennel.” (I did inform her more than a week ago that Romeo Crennel hasn’t been associated with the Browns organization in several years. Never stops her from citing his past employment there as a reason to love them.) “If forced, I’d pick the Patriots.”
Ross’s Pick: Jacksonville just handled the Browns in Cleveland, right? And we may see Alex Tanney, he of the zero NFL regular season career snaps. Fuck it, Patriots roll to a 42-17 win. (CONFIDENCE PICK)
Oakland @ NY Jets (-3)
Julie’s Pick: (She mimed puking motions at the mention of both teams.) “I gotta go with the Jets for the cold weather factor…and I hate Oakland.” (She lived in the Bay Area for six years. I shouldn’t have to tell her that it gets pretty cold there too, right?)
Ross’s Pick: All that “will Geno get benched” talk isn’t fooling me. As bad as the Jets are, the Raiders have quietly lost four of their last five, and they’re 1-5 on the road this year. I also made a preseason bet that the Raiders would finish with less than 5.5 wins so I need this. Jets win 20-10. (CONFIDENCE PICK)
Indianapolis @ Cincinnati (-6)
Julie’s Pick: “I always pick Cincinnati, but wait, how many games in a row have they won?” (I tell her I doubt that number is significant. Then I look it up and tell her two. Two wins in a row.) “Oh, then I definitely pick the other team…Who was the other team again? Colts? Yeah, I pick them.”
Ross’s Pick: Reggie Wayne appears to be almost as important of a player to his team as Aaron Rodgers is to the Packers. Didn’t think that was the case. Bengals cover and win 24-16.
Detroit @ Philadelphia (-3)
Julie’s Pick: “Toss up. I don’t really have a preference for either team. I guess the Eagles because of home field advantage.” (I informed her of the Eagles’ amazing failure rate at home over the past two years and she says…) “Definitely then. They’re due.”
Ross’s Pick: Rare game where I don’t think the three-point favorite covers, but still wins. I have such a soft spot for Detroit this year and I’m not sure why. The Lions cover but Philly pulls it out by the slimmest of margins, 34-33.
Miami @ Pittsburgh (-3)
Julie’s Pick: “Oooh, why are these all so close? Miami won last week, right?” (looooong pause) “I hate to say this again, but I’m going Pittsburgh, cold weather factor.” (I burst into laughter telling her no one has ever put as much stock into the “cold weather factor” as she has.)
Ross’s Pick: But in this case I do agree with her. Miami on the road in the Northeast in December feels like bad news. The Mike Wallace revenge game goes poorly for Mike Wallace. Pittsburgh wins 15-9.
Buffalo @ Tampa Bay (-3)
Julie’s Pick: “I like Tampa Bay. I always pick them.” (I thought she was going to introduce the not-often-cited “warm weather factor” into this pick.)
Ross’s Pick: Flip a coin. Two teams that are evenly matched. I’ll take the points. Bills win 24-23.
Atlanta @ Green Bay (-6.5)
Julie’s Pick: “Well I had that dream about Atlanta, remember?” (I tell her there’s a good chance Aaron Rodgers doesn’t play in this game…) “That changes everything…but I’ll go Green Bay because of my Wisconsin clan.” (Her group of friends in San Francisco, several of whom are actually from Minnesota.)
Ross’s Pick: If Rodgers doesn’t play, this line is too high (Matt Flynn should be spotted somewhere between 14-35 points against any NFL team). And if a rusty, nothing-to-play-for Rodgers does play, this line might still be too high. I’ll take Atlanta to cover and win outright 31-23.
Tennessee @ Denver (-13)
Julie’s Pick: “Whoaaaaa, 13, really? And Tennessee is what, the Titans? Hmm…I gotta go Tennessee. Token upset.” (I ask her if she means the Titans are going to win outright…) “Yes, that’s what upset means.”
Ross’s Pick: Since I don’t feel confident about either side of this spread, I’m defaulting to Julie’s pick. The Titans won’t win, but they’ll cover. Denver takes the 33-24 victory.
St. Louis @ Arizona (-6)
Julie’s Pick: “Yes, St. Louis. I like them.” (She blurted that out before I even told her who the Rams are facing in this game…so do what you want with that info.)
Ross’s Pick: This is the first time in like 10 weeks that I don’t have a great feel for how the Arizona game will go down. After realizing the Cardinals are 5-1 at home this year with their lone loss coming against Seattle, I’m going with Arizona to cover with a 26-13 win. (CONFIDENCE PICK)
NY Giants @ San Diego (-3)
Julie’s Pick: “San Diego because I love that city and they must be happy. They’re in better spirits than people from cold weather cities.”
Ross’s Pick: A matchup 10 years in the making…Eli…Philip…The 2004 Draft…Eli’s refusal to play in San Diego…If San Diegans cared about sports they’d show up and boo Eli. You get it. Sign me up for a San Diego win, 30-23. (CONFIDENCE PICK)
Seattle @ San Francisco (-3)
Julie’s Pick: “Seattle’s been a wild card this year, huh? You just never know if they’re going to win or not. All their games are up in the air…but my gut says Seattle. Let’s go with that one.” (5 second pause) “Does Kaepernick still play?” (She reconsiders.) “No, I never really liked him for some reason. I don’t know why. Did he ever do anything bad?” (Jesus, so many comments here. Do I break the news to her that no team has been more of a lock this year than Seattle? Do I make up a fictitious “Kaepernick is a child molester” story? So many ways I could go.)
Ross’s Pick: Seattle, I hate you. But I might not pick against you until you face the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks win 27-24.
Carolina @ New Orleans (-3.5)
Julie’s Pick: “New Orleans definitely…because of Katrina.”
Ross’s Pick: The Carolina bandwagon probably shouldn’t stop at a weigh station any time soon. But I look at this matchup as the home team having a significant edge. I’ll take the Saints to cover and win 31-24, setting the stage for the rematch in Carolina in week 16. (CONFIDENCE PICK)
Dallas @ Chicago (-1)
Julie’s Pick: “I always pick the Bears. DA BEARS.” (Yep, she threw in the famous SNL quote and then looked at me like I was supposed to applaud her for her detailed knowledge of the Bears.)
Ross’s Pick: My soft spot for the Bears is almost as soft as my soft spot for the Lions. Something about those NFC North teams. Give me a Bears win by a score of 29-21.
For those of you keeping score at home, in week 14 Julie’s taking:
- 9 Favorites & 7 Underdogs
- Of those 7 Underdogs, 2 are Home Dogs & 5 are Road Dogs
And I’m taking:
- 10 Favorites & 6 Underdogs
- Of those 6 Underdogs, 1 is a Home Dog & 5 are Road Dogs
We have the same pick for nine out of 16 games.
Good luck trying to make sense out of this cluster fuck. Enjoy week 14.