My Rapid Fire Week 12 NFL Picks

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In the spirit of giving thanks, let’s all be thankful that 25 NFL teams still realistically have a shot at the playoffs. Seriously, check out where things stand in each division going into week 12:

  • AFC East: 3 teams separated by 3 games for the division lead
  • AFC North: 3 teams separated by 1.5 games for the division lead
  • AFC South: 3 teams separated by 1.5 games for the division lead
  • AFC West: 3 teams separated by 1 game for the division lead
  • NFC East: 4 teams separated by 4 games for the division lead
  • NFC North: 3 teams separated by 2 games for the division lead
  • NFC South: 4 teams separated by 2 games for the division lead
  • NFC West: 2 teams separated by 3 games for the division lead

And also be thankful that I’m giving you a lot of my week 12 picks in rapid fire mode. A little less reading for you during this busy week.

Here are the week 12 picks.

Minnesota at Detroit (-3) | over/under 43

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Detroit 21, Minnesota 20

The Bets: Under (53) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Welcome to the battle for 1st place in the NFC North.

Sure, you can be gun shy with the Vikings and the under after 54 points were scored in their matchup against Arizona last week. But I’d much rather rely on the nine previous weeks where the Vikings game would not have exceeded the teased over here. Minnesota’s defense is good enough to make this an ugly game, but I don’t think it’s smart to pick a side on the point spread here.

Washington at Dallas (-7) | over/under 51

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Dallas 27, Washington 21

The Bets: Under (61) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

It’s amazing that with how good the Cowboys have been this year, a Redskins win on Thanksgiving would put them just 1.5 games out of first place in the East. But Washington going on the road on a short week against the best team in the NFC doesn’t feel like a win.

Washington goes into week 12 with the 4th worst run defense in the league…is that enough alone to pick Dallas and assume they will do whatever they please on offense?

Probably not because the Cowboys are still only OK on defense (they gave up 23 points to Philly in week 8, for example).

Both teams should be able to control the ball, convert lots of 3rd downs, and methodically move the ball down field. I think Dallas will do its normal thing on offense, and Washington won’t be able to make huge plays like they did against Green Bay on Sunday night. So I actually like the under here.

Pittsburgh (-9) at Indianapolis | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 27, Indianapolis 16

The Bets: Pittsburgh (+1) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

You might think I’m exaggerating, but Indy basically turns into the 0-11 Browns without Andrew Luck. They already have a worse defense than Cleveland, and it’s not an exaggeration to think their 15th ranked offense drops 10-12 spots as Scott Tolzien takes over.

I can’t believe I’m backing the Steelers on the road, but if they were ever going to blow out an opponent they absolutely should be blowing out, this would be the game.

Cincinnati at Baltimore (-4.5) | over/under 40.5

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 21, Cincinnati 15

The Bets: Baltimore (+5.5) in a 3-way tease / Under (40.5) / Under (50.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Baltimore (-4.5)

How in the hell are the Bengals even expected to crack 18 points? I know they’re an NFL team and by default they should be able to put up about 20, but this offense already sucked enough, and now AJ Green & Gio Bernard are out. Oh, and the Ravens are still a top 5 defense even after losing by 10 in Dallas last week.

Cincy put up 12 at home against the Bills last week. They put up only 17 at New England in week 6, 14 at Dallas in week 5, 16 at Pittsburgh in week 2, and 23 at the Jets in week 1. All of those defenses absolutely suck compared to the Ravens.

The teased under and the Ravens (teased and straight up) feel like absolute locks this week.

Los Angeles at New Orleans (-7) | over/under 46

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 27, Los Angeles 19

The Bets: New Orleans (+3) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Usually we grab the over in a Saints home game and don’t think twice, but Drew Brees’ offense put up only 23 points at home against the Broncos in week 10 as well as 25 points against Seattle in week 8. The Rams’ defense is a little worse than those two teams, so maybe New Orleans gets close to 30 points. That doesn’t help me come to terms with the fact that LA will probably need to put up 17+ points for this game to go over. I’m staying away from the point total and instead teasing the Saints to +3. Feels like a great move.

Arizona at Atlanta (-4.5) | over/under 50.5

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 30, Arizona 24

The Bets: Atlanta (+5.5) in a 3-way tease / Over (40.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The Cardinals defense has split personalities this year, and it’s all based on whether they’re at home or on the road.

At home, they’ve looked like the #4 defense that FootballOutsiders.com currently has them ranked at. They’ve given up 12.7 points per game in the Cardinals’ Nest. (Is that what they call their stadium or did I make that up?)

But on the road, they’re allowing 28.5 points per game.

Night and day.

Not to mention they’re facing the #1 offense in all of football…an offense that’s coming off a bye week.

San Francisco at Miami (-7.5) | over/under 45.5

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 31, San Francisco 17

The Bets: Miami (-1.5 or +2.5) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

All of my confidence on the Dolphins and them blowing out the Niners is based on Branden Albert and/or Laremy Tunsil coming back to make Miami’s offensive line good again. If they still have significant injuries on the line, I’m staying away entirely.

It feels like the perfect situation for San Francisco to not show up whatsoever.

Jacksonville at Buffalo (-7.5) | over/under 45

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 28, Jacksonville 17

The Bets: Buffalo (+2.5) in a 3-way tease

Supercontest: Yes with Buffalo (-7.5)

Blake Bortles is #28 in passer rating, #26 in FootballOutsiders’ QB efficiency metric, 31st in yards per attempt and 27th in completion percentage. So he’s a rich man’s Brock Osweiler.

It feels really weird that the Dolphins and Bills are both still in playoff contention, are both giving more than a touchdown this week, and I’m strongly considering picking both of them.

Strange times indeed.

Tennessee (-5.5) at Chicago | over/under 42.5

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 23, Chicago 17

The Bets: None

Supercontest: No

Vegas is saying that downgrading from Jay Cutler to Matt Barkley will cost the Bears 3.5 points.

Here’s what’s weird about the Titans: In road games this year, they’ve put up very few points against the worst defenses in the league—16 at Detroit (last in defensive DVOA), 17 at Indianapolis (2nd to last in defensive DVOA)—but they’ve had monster games against solid defenses like scoring 30 at 7th ranked Miami and 35 at 10th ranked San Diego.

So maybe their offense plays down to its competition? If that’s the case, it’ll be a mediocre offensive showing against the average Bears defense.

Considering the Bears have scored more than 20 points just once this season, you really can’t expect them to surprise us with a win on Sunday.

NY Giants (-7) at Cleveland | over/under 44

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 26, Cleveland 12

The Bets: NY Giants (-7) / NY Giants (-1) in a 2-way tease / Under (54) in a 3-way tease

Supercontest: Yes with Giants (-7)

You know what? I was set to write, “If you actually bet this game, you’re a crazy person.” Because the feeling was that the Giant are due to blow a game, the Browns are due to win one surprising game, so why not this one?

Because the Bengals have inadvertently volunteered to be the team that Cleveland beats. Cincy hosts the Browns in week 14. The Bengals will be without Green & Bernard, and the Browns will be coming off a bye. And since this has become the season where everything goes wrong for Marvin Lewis’ team, they are absolutely losing that game.

So breathe easy, Giants fans. Someone else is gonna help Cleveland break their losing streak.

San Diego (-1) at Houston | over/under 46.5

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: San Diego 22, Houston 21

The Bets: None

Supercontest: No

On the one hand, Brock Osweiler looked like his typical horrible self on Monday night against Oakland. On the other hand, the awful refereeing cost the Texans 7-10 points in that game.

As reluctant as I am to go against the 5-0 home game magic the Texans have going on, I’m picking the Chargers because they’ve lost so many games they deserved to win this year while Houston has won several games they should have lost.

Seattle (-6) at Tampa Bay | over/under 45

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Seattle 26, Tampa Bay 23

The Bets: None

Supercontest: No

Even though I’m not betting it, I really think I nailed this game. The Bucs are good enough to make this competitive, but the Seahawks are doing their usual “round into form in the second half of the season.” My only concern is that Mike Evans is basically Tampa’s only viable receiver and the Seattle secondary could essentially eliminate him from the game.

New England (-9) at NY Jets | over/under 47.5

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 38, NY Jets 20

The Bets: New England (+1) in a 3-way tease / Over (37.5) in a 3-way tease

Supercontest: Yes with New England (-9)

This matchup can’t get much worse for the Jets. You think New England’s #1 ranked passing offense is gonna enjoy the Jets 30th ranked pass defense? Obviously a healthy Rob Gronkowski is crucial for a long playoff run for the Patriots, but in this type of game his (possible) absence doesn’t change the probable outcome. New England has so many weapons on offense, with Dion Lewis’ return in week 11 alongside Malcolm Mitchell’s mini breakout game as further proof that they have the deepest offense in the league.

Carolina at Oakland (-3.5) | over/under 49.5

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Oakland 30, Carolina 28

The Bets: Over (39.5) in a 3-way tease

Supercontest: No

I was ready to pick this as a sneaky crazy upset until I realized Luke Kuechly is obviously out for the Panthers. With the Raiders escaping Mexico City with a win on Monday night and Carolina being on extra rest and back in the mix for the NFC South title, I think they’ll play Oakland a lot tighter than you’re probably thinking.

Bank on the over and nothing else in this one.

Kansas City at Denver (-3) | over/under 39.5

The Pick: Denver

The Score: Denver 20, Kansas City 15

The Bets: Under (49.5) in a 3-way tease

Supercontest: No

Even though both teams have struggled running the ball this season, they each get to face defenses this week who struggle to stop the run. I think these division rivals will be terrified to throw the ball into the teeth of each other’s very good defenses so this will play out as a boring run-oriented game.

Green Bay at Philadelphia (-3.5) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Philadelphia 25, Green Bay 17

The Bets: Philadelphia (-3.5)

Supercontest: Yes with Philadelphia (-3.5)

So the Eagles are 4-0 at home this year and their smallest victory was by 9 points. That was against the Falcons. Their other home wins were against the Vikings, Steelers and Browns. Three of those four opponents are better than the Packers. It feels really easy to take Philly in this game.

Here are the season-long stats that I’m tracking:

  • Favorites are 66-87-8 against the spread through 11 weeks (including 8-5-1 in week 11)
  • The Point Total has landed on Over 81 times, Under 77 times, and Pushed 3 times
  • I’m 84-72-5 against the spread

Enjoy Thanksgiving and week 12.

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NFL Week 12 Picks: We Need a Villain!

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If it feels like this NFL season is missing something critical compared to last season, it’s because it is.

We have no villain in the NFL right now. Last year at this time the Seahawks were 10-1 and demolishing every team in their path. They also had a trio of trash talkers in Richard Sherman, Golden Tate and Earl Thomas, three guys who had never won anything significant in the NFL, yet didn’t mind telling the world that they were the greatest. You also had a coach in Pete Carroll who isn’t that hard to hate. And of course, there was the vaunted 12th man. Nothing worse than a group of fans who think they’re affecting games just a little bit more than they actually are.

Seattle gave us the villain we needed in 2013, and of course anyone who actually picked against them ended up being disappointed.

As I looked through all the teams with a chance to make the playoffs, I really struggled to find a candidate for this role. There’s essentially no team that the masses can root against in unity it seems.

Here are the only possibilities I came up with, and even then they’re a stretch:

  • Detroit: If only they still employed Jim Schwartz, one of the easiest coaches to hate. I guess you can hang onto the bad feelings that everyone had for Ndamukong Suh over the last few years and say he’s a dirty player. No one would argue that really. And the Lions did pick up Golden Tate, one of Seattle’s best trash-talkers from last year. But otherwise, what’s to dislike? The Lions haven’t been very successful lately, they don’t have star players that really make you gag at the mere sight of them, and their fan base doesn’t seem particularly obnoxious.
  • San Francisco: Their recent run of three straight NFC Championship game appearances probably sparks some hatred in fans of other NFC teams, and their coach is easily the least likeable head coach in football. Yes, you can’t help but root against the 49ers because it’s fun to see all the ways Jim Harbaugh can act like a three-year-old when the game isn’t going his way. They also have some questionable character guys, but which NFL team doesn’t at this point? Overall, this is probably my favorite team to hate out of the group, but I’m concerned that they might not even make the playoffs so we won’t have a chance to hate them in January.
  • Seattle: The Seahawks could absolutely go on a roll, end up with the #1 seed again, and give us a redo on rooting against last year’s villain. Not much has changed in terms of my dislike for them, except that they’ve been humbled repeatedly this year so a little bit of my passion for them is gone.
  • New England: I would guess that any year where we don’t have a true villain, the Patriots are the backup villain. This is mostly on account of their constant success and the ease with which people can point to Bill Belichick and say “what a dick.” As a Patriots fan, I just can’t understand this. New England is the model franchise and you should all look up to them and pray that your team someday becomes even half as good as they’ve been during this 14-year run. But if someone doesn’t volunteer to be the villain soon, and New England continues its march to another #1 seed, I’m afraid they’ll be the stand-in villain.
  • Baltimore: These guys might be just a hair behind the Patriots in terms of perennial dislike by the rest of the world. These days Terrell Suggs is probably the main reason for that. Just an ass of a person really. This is another team that has had a lot of recent success. As a bonus this year, people can decide to dislike them for the way they handled the Ray Rice situation. And don’t forget this is the team that employed Ray Lewis after he most likely murdered someone!
  • Denver: OK, so I’m well aware that the general public isn’t going to turn on Peyton Manning. They’re way too in love with him. But maybe it’s time to root against the guy who publicly called out a scoreboard operator because he revved the Denver crowd up too much when the Broncos were winning by like 45 points a few weeks back. A humble scoreboard operator probably lost his job, his home, his wife and his kids because of Peyton Manning. Why can’t we root against that?

In conclusion, we need a team to start throwing 80-yard bombs in garbage time when they’re up three touchdowns. Or we need a player to stomp on another player’s head/balls on a nationally-televised Thanksgiving Game. Or we need a coach/quarterback to go all John Rocker in a press conference and offend either an entire city or a specific group of people. WE NEED A VILLAIN!

Let’s move on to week 12, starting with the games we can appreciate for pure competitive reasons. This slate of games isn’t as promising as last week’s, but maybe that just means they’ll actually deliver some intriguing football compared to the week 11 bust. Here they are:

  • Detroit (7-3) @ New England (8-2) – Sunday 1pm ET
  • Cleveland (6-4) @ Atlanta (4-6) – Sunday 1pm ET
  • Cincinnati (6-3-1) @ Houston (5-5) – Sunday 1pm ET
  • Arizona (9-1) @ Seattle (6-4) – Sunday 4:05pm ET
  • Miami (6-4) @ Denver (7-3) – Sunday 4:25pm ET
  • Baltimore (6-4) @ New Orleans (4-6) – Monday 8:30pm ET

Basically any game featuring an AFC North team against an opponent that’s .500 or better will be on this compelling list the rest of the season.

We’re in the final week of byes, and we have only two:

  • Carolina (3-7-1): Hard to believe there was a time this season when Carolina was 3-2 and we didn’t think Cam Newton sucked. Their current six game winless streak makes perfect sense considering who they’ve faced in that time: Cincinnati, Green Bay, Seattle, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Atlanta. OK, they should have won at home against Atlanta last week. That’s a loss that ends a season, except when you play in the NFC South. The Panthers’ remaining schedule isn’t very intimidating and they face New Orleans and Atlanta, the two teams they’re trying to catch in the standings, in December. But of course it’s useless trying to figure anything out in that division.
  • Pittsburgh(7-4): If the playoffs began today, the Steelers would be the #6 seed in the AFC. They still have two games against Cincinnati remaining, and those are huge because the Bengals lead them in the AFC North by half a game. Just like the NFC South, the AFC North is probably a long way from being determined, but for entirely different reasons. A three-team race among Pittsburgh, Cincy and Baltimore for two spots (division and a wildcard) is what we’ll be looking at over the season’s final month.

And now for the week 12 picks.

Kansas City (-7.5) @ Oakland

  • The Pick: Oakland
  • The Score: Kansas City 29, Oakland 24

Well, shit. This was supposed to be easy. Thursday night games are mostly blowouts so why wouldn’t we quickly pick the Chiefs and move on? Two things give me pause: 1) The Chiefs are coming off a very physical game against Seattle and had to travel to Oakland on short rest, and 2) Kansas City hosts Denver on Sunday Night Football in week 13.

If ever there were a combination trap game and letdown game, this would be the perfect spot for the Chiefs.

Could the Raiders pull off the upset? Probably not.

Could the Chiefs start out slowly, struggling to get up for a game on such short rest, and barely pull out the win? Absolutely.

If the Raiders can go a few more weeks without a win, I’ll be able to start hedging my 0-16 bet on them. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.

Cleveland @ Atlanta (-3)

  • The Pick: Atlanta
  • The Score: Atlanta 26, Cleveland 19

One team is 4-6, currently holds the #4 seed if the playoffs started now, and won a division road game last week.

The other team is 6-4, sits at #10 in the AFC’s playoff standings, and lost a home game last week to a QB making his first career start.

Should the 4-6 division-leading Falcons really be favored by three points over the Browns? Are the Browns the road team that beat Cincy by 21 in week 10 or the road team that lost to Jacksonville by 18 in week 7? And does Josh Gordon play a meaningful number of snaps right away, and how big will his impact be?

All these questions, and more, will be answered on Sunday.

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I’m pretty confident the Falcons are taking this game and will be the proud owners of a three game win streak! Easy, there, NFC South. Don’t go being all good on us all of the sudden.

Listen, the Browns are seriously screwed on defense right now, and that’s never a good recipe for a road game against a better-than-average offense. I’m sorry to say, but this run of games that we thought was the winnable portion of the Browns’ remaining schedule—Houston, Atlanta, Buffalo—will probably end up as an 0-3 stretch that ends their season.

Tennessee @ Philadelphia (-11)

  • The Pick: Tennessee
  • The Score: Philadelphia 33, Tennessee 25

I used the most simplistic method as possible to pick this game. I simply repeated to myself out loud five times, “Mark Sanchez is favored by 11 points.”

Try it out yourself and see what conclusion you come to. I’m guessing it’ll be the same as mine.

After watching the Titans pretty closely on Monday night, my guess is that Zach Mettenberger plays just well enough over the final six weeks that the front office tricks itself into committing to him as their starter for next year, causing them to bow out of any QB sweepstakes in the upcoming draft. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing. I just know that Mettenberger will be Tennessee’s starter next September.

Detroit @ New England (-7.5)

  • The Pick: Detroit
  • The Score: New England 27, Detroit 23

The Patriots have covered the spread five times during their six game winning streak, and it hasn’t even been close in those games. They’re destroying the lines that Vegas has been setting.

That’s why I think this line is inflated a bit. My guess on Sunday night was that New England would be a 5.5-point favorite, maybe it would stretch to a full 6 points. The fact that it’s even more than a touchdown is Vegas’ way of saying, “We know you’re all gonna keep betting New England. All we can do is make the line ridiculous and hope they finally cool off a bit.”

What’s really interesting is that Green Bay has been destroying the point spread in their games lately too (five of their past seven games have been double digit blowouts in Green Bay’s favor). In week 13, the Patriots are at the Packers. Something’s gotta give.

I’m taking the Lions because I think both teams will struggle to score, and even though it might be one of those games where it feels like the Patriot are in control the whole time, they’ll only end up winning by 4 or 7.

Green Bay (-10) @ Minnesota

  • The Pick: Minnesota
  • The Score: Green Bay 30, Minnesota 22

As fantastic as the Packers are playing right now, they’re only 2-3 on the road this year, most recently losing at New Orleans and barely pulling out a last-minute win at Miami.

The last time these two teams met up, on October 2nd, Green Bay only won by 32 (In Minnesota’s defense, it was a Thursday night game and they were forced to start Christian Ponder at quarterback).

And while Adrian Peterson isn’t going to be around to help the Vikings, I’m taking them to cover. Maybe the Packers are looking ahead to a season-defining game against New England. Maybe Teddy Bridgewater at QB instead of Ponder is enough to swing this game. Or maybe I just hate taking a road team that’s favored by this much no matter the circumstances.

Jacksonville @ Indianapolis (-14)

  • The Pick: Jacksonville
  • The Score: Indianapolis 29, Jacksonville 20

Now a home team favored by an exorbitant amount…that I can get behind!

Well, actually I can’t. Because this week I’m employing a new strategy: Take the underdog in any game where the point spread is a touchdown or greater. I also appear to be taking almost all underdogs in general so far.

For this particular game, I’m justifying the Jaguars due to their 16th-ranked pass defense and the fact that they’re coming off some extra rest (remember that the Colts are down to Trent Richardson as their only running back. I think Jacksonville knows as well as the rest of America that Indy is throwing 50+ times per game for the rest of the year).

What scares me is that Andrew Luck seems like one of those guys who takes losses especially hard, and I doubt there’s any chance the Colts come out unprepared on Sunday.

But these huge point spreads are just like having a 16 in blackjack with the dealer showing a face card. Either you always hit or you always stay, and you just accept the fact that you’ll probably be right 50% of the time.

Cincinnati @ Houston (-1.5)

  • The Pick: Houston
  • The Score: Houston 33, Cincinnati 17

I’ll admit I was a little premature in declaring weeks ago that the Colts had locked up the AFC South. While it’s still more than likely that they do take the division crown, suddenly the Texans are right on their heels.

If Ryan Mallett is as legitimately un-Fitzpatrickian as he looked in his first start last week, couldn’t you see the Texans beating their next three opponents—home Cincinnati, home Tennessee, at Jacksonville?

If that happens, the Texans will go into Indy in week 15 either tied with the Colts or one game back. And then Houston finishes with home games against Baltimore and Jacksonville. It’s not totally unreasonable to think Houston gets to 10 or 11 wins, keeps the Colts honest through the end of the season, and secures a wildcard spot as the rest of the contenders deal with Big Boy NFL schedules.

Anyway, there’s no way Cincy’s winning this game. Mark it down as my favorite pick of the week.

NY Jets @ Buffalo (-4.5)

  • The Pick: NY Jets
  • The Score: NY Jets 17, Buffalo 3

What if I told you there’s an upcoming NFL game where one team got to practice and go through their weekly routine like normal for the past five days, and the other team was not able to practice once and their professional and personal lives have been chaotic for the past five days? Without knowing the teams or the point spread, you’d want to put a large bet on the team that got to practice all week, right?

Here are some sentences from an espn.com report about Buffalo from Wednesday:

  • “With driving bans in place across much of the area, Bills players were unable to get to the facility Wednesday and may not be able to practice Thursday either.”
  • “It’s very difficult to put in words exactly what is going on,” Doug Marrone said. “It’s just a very, very difficult and challenging situation…”

In case you’ve been in a technology-free blackhole all week, just know that Buffalo got five feet of snow on Tuesday and a couple more feet were due on Thursday.

This doesn’t feel like one of those situations where the home team thrives in the tough elements while the road team struggles, mainly because the home team hasn’t been able to practice in a week.

UPDATE: All of the above was written on Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning New York’s Governor was saying it would be impractical to play this game on Sunday. I have no idea what the league is going to do about this. If you have them play this game on Monday or Tuesday, you’re really screwing the Bills over because they face Cleveland next Sunday and would be on much shorter rest than the Browns. Good luck to the NFL. At least we know they’ll nail this decision like they do everything else.

Tampa Bay @ Chicago (-6)

  • The Pick: Tampa Bay
  • The Score: Tampa Bay 18, Chicago 6

Hey, it’s the matchup of two of the NFL’s worst teams this year who happen to be coming off wins and are trying to build on those! The Bears won their first home game of the year last week against Minnesota, and the Bucs won their second game in general at Washington. Who’s going to continue that slow rise up the NFL standings? And who deserves even the slightest nod of respect by being picked in this game?

I’m going with Tampa because I’m hoping (key word) their pass rush confuses Jay Cutler and that Lovie Smith has a trick or two up his sleeve to slow down his former team.

Also, Tampa can still win the NFC South!!! I won’t stop rooting for that until it’s mathematically impossible.

And it would be borderline criminal not to mention the Josh McCown revenge game factor. You can totally picture the Chicago faithful chanting “We Want McCown” during the 4th quarter as their Bears are losing by double digits, right?

Arizona @ Seattle (-7)

  • The Pick: Arizona
  • The Score: Seattle 23, Arizona 20

This line worked out perfectly because I guessed it would be Seattle by only 3, and because I’m already averse to picking touchdown-or-greater favorites this week.

This is the most confusing line of the week. Drew Stanton or not, how are the 9-1 Cardinals getting a full touchdown against a 6-4 team? Is it because Seattle’s effectively out of the playoffs with a loss and Vegas expects that back-against-the-wall mentality to shine through on Sunday?

Is it because the Cardinals continue to play over their heads and Vegas wants a ton of money on Arizona knowing soon enough they’ll cash in on the fall?

Whatever the reason for the line, I love it. Give me the Cardinals, and I’m looking forward to putting a moneyline bet on them because they will win this game outright.

One very specific thought on this game: It swings on a special teams play.

St. Louis @ San Diego (-4.5)

  • The Pick: St. Louis
  • The Score: St. Louis 26, San Diego 19

In the last 32 days, the Rams beat Seattle, San Francisco and Denver. They also outplayed the Cardinals for 3.5 quarters in Arizona until Austin Davis threw a pick-six and got strip sacked (also returned for a touchdown by Arizona) on back-to-back drives. Somehow, some way, they’re playing really good football.

In this week of picking underdogs when all else fails, all I’m looking for is a reason. The Rams’ recent play gives me plenty of reason to pick them to win outright.

Miami @ Denver (-7)

  • The Pick: Miami
  • The Score: Miami 23, Denver 21

I’m on a roll with the underdogs so let’s keep it going! This was going to be the game where I zigged while you were predicting me to zag. I was set to pick Denver to cover. After all, they’ve just gone through a rough stretch of three straight road games, and now they’re returning to the friendly confines of Sports Authority Field where they’re 5-0 this year.

But based on the information we have at this moment, it appears Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Ronnie Hillman may all be out for this game.

Miami has been good enough to this point to deserve my pick when facing any team that’s not at full strength.

The one danger with this pick: This will be Miami’s first cold weather game in 2014 as it’s expected to be 40 degrees at game time on Sunday. Many Miami teams just haven’t been able to win in cold weather. Will this be one of those teams?

Washington @ San Francisco (-9)

  • The Pick: San Francisco
  • The Score: San Francisco 43, Washington 3

There are enough games I’m confident in this week that I can happily stay far away from this one. What do you even do about these two teams?

In Washington, you have a team that is in utter disarray. In fact, we might have to make up a new word for them, whatever is way beyond disarray, chaos and anarchy. And that’s just in terms of off-the-field B.S. On the field it’s just as bad. They lost at home last week to Tampa Bay, the laughing stock of the NFC South (think about that designation for a second).

In San Francisco, you have a team that’s getting healthier, that’s been able to drown out the non-football noise that was so loud during the first half of the season, and has quietly won five of their last seven. But the concern with them is the nine points. You have to go all the way back to week 1 to find a game where the 49ers dominated (in their 14-point win at St. Louis in October, they were actually trailing 14-0 so that one doesn’t count).

I’m picking San Francisco because I’m certain the PotatoSkins players are just waiting to quit on their team (specifically their quarterback) at this point. If they’re down 10-14 points at any time during this game, I’m thinking it expands to 24-28 points rather quickly. It’s scary to think we maybe haven’t seen Washington’s low point just yet.

I realize I broke away from my “bet against all the heavy favorites this week” strategy, but this Washington team is now being dealt with by its own set of rules.

Dallas (-3.5) @ NY Giants

  • The Pick: Dallas
  • The Score: Dallas 37, NY Giants 17

That the Giants are only one game better than the worst team in the NFC is a sneaky fact. They’re not a shoo-in for the top pick in the 2015 Draft like Tampa, and they’re not a headline-grabbing drama show like Washington. They’re kind of under the radar awful, which means the general population has accepted Eli Manning throwing five interceptions as part of the norm.

Anyway, Dallas actually showed me something with an easy win against Jacksonville in London two weeks ago. It was a good bounce back effort after the Tony Romo injury and the loss to Arizona with Brandon Weeden playing. The Cowboys are a solid enough team to win by more than a field goal. They also happen to be 4-0 on the road, the only team in the league without a road loss. BIG game with Philly coming up on Thanksgiving for these guys.

Baltimore @ New Orleans (-3.5)

  • The Pick: Baltimore
  • The Score: Baltimore 33, New Orleans 16

This is the Ravens’ final game against an NFC South team this year. In their previous three games against that division, Baltimore did the following: win vs Carolina by 28, win at Tampa Bay by 31, and win vs Atlanta by 22.

This is a rare scenario where we know all four NFC South teams are about equal when it comes to winning football games in 2014. I don’t think the Saints at home should give you too much confidence these days. I like Baltimore to keep doing what they’ve been doing to this group of overmatched sorry excuses for a football team.

So I went really heavy on underdogs this week. I’m not making any promises, but this feels like one of those weeks where everything goes berserk throughout all of Sunday. We just haven’t had one of those in a while.

Enjoy week 12.

Week 12 NFL Picks: An All-Instincts Set of Picks

old-man-crystal-ball

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.

Video Blogging the Week 12 NFL Recap Because I’m Missing a Thumb

You know how you usually spend 15-20 minutes each week reading my NFL recap blog post and then think, “Why the fuck did I waste my time reading that?” Well this week you get to waste those same 15-20 minutes listening and watching my NFL recap. That’s right…I’m bringing you my first ever video blog due to reasons beyond my control.

So plug your headphones into your laptop, iPad, phone or walkman and listen up (but also watch because I make very subtle funny faces and I even demonstrate how not to slice a block of cheese). I promise it won’t be the most useless 15 minutes of your week (but it’ll be damn close to it).

Here you go:

Week 12 NFL Picks: Molly Settles the Great Thanksgiving Debate, the Jets Get Embarrassed in Front of a Comatose Nation and Much More

This seems pretty unfair, right? Making picks for the weekend games almost five days before they happen? But that’s life for a professional football blogger. You’ll notice two games below where I’ve declined to pick them at this point in the week because we have absolutely no clue who will be playing quarterback on Sunday for a couple teams. You’ll have to check me out on Twitter Sunday morning to see who gets the nod in those games.

This week of picking early seems to fit right in with the second-half swoon I’m experiencing. I’ve now had three consecutive weeks of a 7-7 record picking against the spread…by far my worst stretch of the year. My season record against the spread now sits at 88-67-5. I guess it wouldn’t be the worst thing if I finish the season 20 games over .500, but I’m convinced I can knock out a 12-4 or 13-3 week eventually. No promises about this week because everything seems off between picking the games on Wednesday morning and having three games played on Thursday.

Don’t get me wrong, I love three Thanksgiving Day games. Nine hours of a built-in excuse not to speak to anyone at your family gathering. Who could ask for more?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to provide you all with some gambling information as a token of my appreciation for your loyal readership. Hopefully it’ll help guide you to backing the correct teams in week 12 and beyond:

Through 11 weeks of football, these are the teams with the best record against the spread:

1). Tampa Bay (7-2-1)

Tied-2). Houston (7-3-0), Seattle (7-3-0**) **should be 6-4-0

Tied-4). Atlanta, New England, Denver, San Francisco, Indianapolis, New Orleans, St. Louis (all with 6-4-0 records)

Out of those 10 teams, nine of them have a shot to make the playoffs. Just thought that was interesting.

And here are the four worst teams against the spread so far this year:

1). Philadelphia (2-8-0)

T-2). Kansas City (3-7-0), Oakland (3-7-0)

4). Detroit (3-6-1)

And as you can probably guess, none of those four teams have a shot to make the playoffs.

If I’m having trouble picking a game that involves one of the best teams agains the spread vs one of the worst teams against the spread, I tend to use their against the spread records as the tiebreaker (like this week’s Houston at Detroit game).

Anyway, let’s fly through week 12’s full slate of games (home team underlined):

Houston (-3.5) over Detroit: I think this line is low because of how quick the turnaround is for these teams that played a 1PM game on Sunday to have to play the early game on Thanksgiving Day. But I don’t see any logical reason why the Texans wouldn’t win, and they haven’t won any of their games by less than six this year. If you’re really trying to create an argument for why someone should take the Lions, I guess you could say two things: 1). Detroit’s out of the playoff picture so maybe this is the last game they “get up” for this year, you know, since it’s their traditional Thanksgiving game on national TV, and 2). This is the first of three consecutive road games for the Texans…after Detroit it’s at Tennessee and then at New England, so maybe they’re going with very basic game plans in the next two games so that they’re ready for the Patriots, a relatively important game for seeding purposes. But I’m not taking one of the worst teams against the spread this year (Detroit) over one of the best teams against the spread (Houston) when the line is this small.

Washington (+3) over Dallas: Let’s say the Redskins win this game, the Giants lose to Green Bay, and Philadelphia handles Carolina on Monday night (all conceivable outcomes, right?). With five games left in the season, the NFC East would look like this: Giants 6-5, Washington 5-6, Dallas 5-6, Philadelphia 4-7. Then you have the Redskins playing for first place in week 13 when they host the Giants. I love the idea of this division somehow coming down to the final couple weeks when the Giants had a three-game lead over everyone else just as recently as two weeks ago. I love even more that my midseason bet of the Redskins to win the East is somehow still in play at this point. For these reasons, I’m picking the ‘Skins to upset Dallas with a huge, HUGE Thanksgiving debut for RGIII.

New England (-7) over NY Jets: I’m spitting in the face of logic on this one…the logic that says, “Don’t give seven points in a divisional road game when the team you’re backing just lost its second best offensive player.” There’s a long list of reasons not to take the Patriots with a big spread this week—short week of preparation, Thanksgiving distractions, Gronk out and no certainty around Aaron Hernandez’s health, Jets treating this game like their Super Bowl, needing overtime at home earlier in the season just to eek out a three-point win against these bastards… But I think the Gronk injury will actually motivate the offense to show the league that Gronk alone isn’t the reason they’ve been dropping 50 on everyone lately. Plus, it’s the Jets on Thanksgiving in front of a national TV audience who literally can’t move off the couch. The Patriots have the country’s full attention on Thursday night. Is there a better time to embarrass Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and the rest of this helpless team?

Side Note: Did I just pick all three road teams to cover on Thanksgiving Day? I think I did. Which one do I feel the worst about? The Patriots, as usual.

Buffalo (+3) over Indianapolis: If you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, this line seems low. Indy’s 6-4 and they’re at home against a 4-6 Bills team that’s looked terrible on the road,” be careful. The whole world knows the Colts have been overachieving for the last seven weeks, and Vegas probably knows they’re due to come crashing back to earth (an action that was jumpstarted in New England last weekend). So by making the line lower than expected, Vegas can cash in on all the idiots who think the Colts really are a playoff-caliber team. I know Andrew Luck is good (and he’s going to be unbelievable in a year or two), but in this game, the best player on the field will probably be C.J. Spiller. I can absolutely see the Bills running Spiller a ton because first of all it’s the best offensive strategy for them, but also because it’ll help them put together long drives that keep Luck and the Colts offense off the field. Give me Buffalo in the minor upset.

Miami(+3) over Seattle: This is the game where after it ends, people go “Oh yeah, how did I not remember Russell Wilson is garbage on the road?” The Seahawks are averaging 15 points in their five road games this year, putting up a 1-4 record. And because I hate them and I’m always looking for reasons to pick against them, that’s good enough for me to roll with Miami.

Molly’s 7-4 record against the spread this season has earned her the right to choose a very important game in week 12. No more Oakland, Jacksonville or Tennessee for her. This week she gets Atlanta (-1.5) at Tampa Bay. Huge playoff implications. A Bucs’ win would put the NFC South in doubt for Atlanta for the first time since week 1. Let’s see what Molly thinks about her biggest responsibility of the season:

 

Oakland (+8) over Cincinnati: The Carson Palmer Revenge Game!! I know it’s not getting a lot of play in the media, but don’t you think he’s more than a little motivated to end his former team’s playoff hopes? The question is, can he do it? Actually, I don’t care who wins this game, I just need to know if the Raiders can keep it to one touchdown or less. Now I know the Raiders have lost their last three games by a combined score of 135-69, but that was against Tampa, Baltimore and New Orleans. Those are three of the best offenses in the league if you only count Baltimore’s home games. Needless to say I don’t think the Raiders D is giving up quite as many points to the Bengals. I’m picking the Raiders because I do think it would be funny to see the Bengals’ playoff hopes come to an end at home against Palmer.

Cleveland (Pick) over Pittsburgh: Charlie Batch against Cleveland in Cleveland and the Browns aren’t favored? Yes please. I would never rule out a Steelers win regardless of the circumstances, but I refuse to be the idiot who picked Charlie Batch on the road.

Jacksonville(+3) over Tennessee: Is anyone else ready for Jacksonville to build on that unexpected-yet-super-exciting game against Houston last week? They put up 37 points on one of the best defenses in football! And let’s not forget a couple other exciting moments they’ve had this year, specifically Cecil Shorts’ amazing catches towards the end of their week 1 loss in Minnesota and their week 3 win at Indy. With Justin Blackmon maybe emerging as a relevant receiving threat, this Jaguars team suddenly has some playmakers. And with Blaine Gabbert’s poor quarterbacking out of the way for the time being, Chad Henne gets to step in for a full game and show us what the Jags have been missing all year. I’m randomly excited for this Jaguars team! C’mon, Jags, let’s take care of that boring Titans team and get on a little roll to end our season!

Denver (-10.5) over Kansas City: Earlier in the season I kept doubting the Broncos’ ability to win on the road, and they responded with three straight road wins by 11, 8 and 22 points. Even though Denver pretty much has the division locked up at this point, I think the AFC race in general is motivating them just fine right now. Peyton and the Broncos know as long as they keep winning, they’re just a couple Baltimore and New England slip-ups away from getting a bye. And we all know Kansas City blows, right? Would you even take the Chiefs if it was a 17-point spread? Probably, but you’d have to think long and hard before you did, right?

Minnesota at Chicago: NO LINE

Can’t really pick this one yet because both Jay Cutler and Percy Harvin’s statuses are uncertain. I’ll post my pick and the spread I’m taking it at on Twitter before kickoff Sunday.

Baltimore (-1) over San Diego: Like I said in my week 11 recap blog post, these Ravens are the luckiest 8-2 team ever. And the luck continues when they get to play a Chargers team that’s clearly given up on the season. You think I’m exaggerating about them giving up? Have you seen the video of Philip Rivers walking off the field with 10 seconds left in a one-touchdown game when his team had the ball? Check it out HERE.

San Francisco (-2.5) over New Orleans: If I’m holding off on picking the Bears game, then I’m allowed to hold off on this one until everything is crystal clear with the 49ers’ QB situation, right? I’m not even sure which QB would inspire more confidence for me to pick the 9ers right now, but I need to give it some more thought later in the week. I’m inclined to take San Francisco regardless, so if I forget to update this pick on Twitter by Sunday morning, that’s who I’m going with.

St. Louis (+3) over Arizona: I famously predicted the Cardinals would go on a six game losing streak way back in week 4, and even though it took them one extra week to start the streak, they finally achieved my prediction with last week’s loss in Atlanta. Thanks to Ken Whisenhunt’s reckless substituting and benching of his three struggling quarterbacks, I’m confident that the beat goes on and Arizona loses its seventh consecutive game. Ryan Lindley, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, it doesn’t matter. By the way, fun fact: Did you know that I was 9-0 against the spread in the Rams’ first nine games this year? So naturally I put everything into them as a 3.5-point favorite last week at home against the Jets (suicide pool pick, biggest bet of the week, highest weighted pick in my Pick ‘Em leagues). This tragic week 11 mistake almost caused me to quit the football blogging all together…but that would have been way too Philip Riversy of me.

NY Giants(+3) over Green Bay: Picking the Giants and not sure why. I guess because I don’t think the Packers are quite as good as they’ve been playing lately. And I don’t think the Giants are as bad as they’ve shown recently. And because I’ve seen a lot of games this year where the Packers had trouble blocking and Rodgers was on his ass all day long (something the Giants D does often to quarterbacks, right?) Also because I haven’t picked one of the teams coming off a week 11 bye yet, and doesn’t one of those teams have to come out strong from the two-week break. I say it’s the Giants.

Philadelphia (-2.5) over Carolina: Well, if my dream scenario of a clusterfucked NFC East is gonna come true, I guess the Eagles have to win this game. If this line was a point higher, I’d be taking the Panthers, but I think the Eagles—even with Nick Foles—are good enough to beat Carolina by a field goal. It may be Andy Reid’s final prime-time game as the Eagles’ coach so you gotta figure they’re going to win big for him. Wait, what? The Eagles have two more nationally-televised games after this one? And we’re gonna sit through both of them because we’re chumps? Great.
Looks like I’m picking at least nine road teams and eight underdogs this week. Let’s hope a little Thanksgiving magic gets me back to my winning ways. Happy Thanksgiving to all my loyal readers (and a Miserable Thanksgiving to all my non-readers)!