Week 7 NFL Recap: The Good, The Bad and The Spilled Wine

calvin johnson catch

What a polarizing weekend of football.

In the “holy shit, what an amazing Sunday” department: Seven of the 13 games yesterday came down to a final minute score or failed game-winning drive. If you’re a betting man, you can add three more games to that list of excitement as the covers for three big favorites were in doubt until the very end (Atlanta, Carolina and Green Bay). So really we only had three games that didn’t register on the overstimulation meter (Dallas over Philadelphia, San Diego over Jacksonville and San Francisco over Tennessee). And the whole thing was capped off by one of the best games of the year when Indianapolis held on to beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos. A great, great weekend of football.

Or was it?

In the “holy shit, what a terrible Sunday for the NFL” department: Way too many players suffered season-ending/long term injuries. Sam Bradford is done for the year in St. Louis (and possibly done forever for that particular team). Jay Cutler could be done for a while in Chicago (like Bradford, he’s a free agent after the season, terrible timing). Nick Foles is the only one of these three QBs who suffered a possible concussion, but he might be the only one not out for the season. Either way Philly is screwed if Matt Barkley spends any time as their starter. Doug Martin and Arian Foster are causing fantasy football owners everywhere to hold their breath as we wait for word on the severity of their injuries (UPDATE: I just turned on the NFL Network and saw that Marin has a torn labrum and is done for the year). Poor Brian Cushing is out for the season for the second consecutive year with a knee injury. The Colts probably felt like their huge win over Denver was bittersweet as news spread late last night/early this morning that Reggie Wayne might have a torn ACL (UPDATE: I’m also seeing now that the torn ACL is confirmed. Welcome to infirmary Monday). And worst of all…Jermichael Finley is in an intensive care unit with a neck injury as I write this. He took a vicious hit to the head in the Packers’ win over Cleveland. He also suffered a concussion in week 3. You’ve got to figure he’s out for the year.

And the lone overtime game of the weekend was marred by a controversial penalty that put the Jets in position to knock off the Patriots (This is not me saying the penalty was incorrect, just that it looks bad for the NFL to have a game end in such a questionable way…more on this below).

Football giveth and football taketh away…

It seems every year that most of the 32 NFL teams get leveled by injuries at one point of the season or another. If you got to choose for your team, you’d obviously pick for them to suffer key injuries in the preseason or early in the regular season rather than mid-to-late season.

Some examples of teams that started the year with key players missing (or lost them early in the season) and are just now getting them back healthy: Seattle (Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons, Percy Harvin), Buffalo (the entire secondary it seems, and Stevie Johnson), Denver (Champ Bailey, Von Miller), Baltimore (Jacoby Jones, Ray Rice).

Some examples of teams that have only recently been decimated by injuries: Green Bay (Randall Cobb, James Jones, Finley, Clay Matthews), Chicago (even if Cutler is the only one, their season is ruined), Atlanta (Julio Jones is the new one, Roddy White, Steven Jackson and Sean Weatherspoon are the lingering injuries from earlier in the year), New England (Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Aqib Talib, Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen), Houston (Matt Schaub, Cushing, possibly Foster and Ben Tate).

Most of those teams I just listed were legitimate playoff and even Super Bowl contenders. Unfortunately, like every year, injuries will play a major part in determining which team will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on February 2nd, 2014.

 

I’ve been patiently giving teams the benefit of the doubt for seven weeks, but it’s time to eliminate a handful of this year’s disappointments from playoff contention. If you remember back to weeks 9 and 10 from last season, I incorrectly wrote that Washington and Cincinnati were two teams with no shot at the playoffs. They both rallied in major ways to make me look bad (as if we needed more examples of my terrible NFL predictions). It wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of the following teams does the same thing this year. But let’s take a stab at it anyway:

AFC

Jacksonville

Why? At 0-7 it’s pretty self-explanatory, but let’s go with…because they haven’t scored a friggen touchdown at home yet this season. Seriously, they have three field goals and a safety to their credit through three home games.

Houston

Why? Because at 2-5, they can only lose two more games to have a chance at the playoffs. They still have two games against Indianapolis and one each against Denver and New England. With injuries at quarterback as well as to both running backs and key linebacker Cushing, it’s doubtful that they’ll be able to win any of those four games.

Buffalo

Why? Their next three games are @New Orleans, home vs Kansas City and @Pittsburgh. They also have to go to New England in week 17. With EJ Manuel out for a little while longer, there’s no reason to think they’ll win any of those games. That means 8-8 is their best case scenario.

Cleveland

Why? Because by running Brandon Weeden out there week after week, they are basically admitting they’re not interested in competing this year. That’s not to say they’d be a Super Bowl contender without Weeden, but they’re good enough to maybe squeak out 9 or 10 wins in that division if anyone else with a pulse was playing QB.

Team I’m not eliminating yet that might surprise you: Oakland

Why? Yes, they’re 2-4. Yes, they were projected to be the worst team in football. But they’re not really playing that bad. And their QB situation is in much better shape than a lot of other teams. Oakland’s upcoming schedule after their bye looks like this: home Pittsburgh, home Philly, @Giants, @Houston, home Tennessee. What if they go 4-1 in those games? Anyone can beat the Giants in New Jersey right now, and Houston is falling apart quickly. It’s a long shot, but I’ll wait a couple more weeks before I write them off.

NFC

Tampa Bay

Why? Because their coach is probably getting fired after week 9. Because Mike Glennon is their QB. Because even if they magically become competent after their 0-6 start, they still have dates with Carolina (twice), Seattle, San Francisco and New Orleans.

Atlanta

Why? Julio and Roddy. They just can’t compete with the good NFC teams due to key injuries. There are at least four more losses on their schedule, which puts them at 8-8 in a best case scenario.

NY Giants

Why? After tonight they’ll either be 1-6 or 0-7. There’s just no coming back from that hole.

Minnesota

Why? I’m counting on the Vikings being 1-5 after they lose to the Giants tonight, but even if they win that game, they’ve still got games against Green Bay (twice), @Dallas, @Seattle, @Baltimore and @Cincinnati. Without consulting the numbers, I’d be willing to guess they have the hardest schedule in the NFL from now through the end of the year.

Chicago

Why? This team was already worse than its 4-3 record showed before Cutler apparently suffered a serious groin injury on Sunday. The defense is terrible. If they’re going forward with the Josh McCown/Jordan Palmer combo at QB, they’re beyond done.

St. Louis

Why? They weren’t likely to make the playoffs with a healthy Bradford. Now that his season is over? They might be one of the worst teams in football going forward.

Team I’m not eliminating yet that might surprise you: Arizona

Why? They’re the Cleveland of the NFC. Good talent on defense and special teams but a QB/O-line combo that’s holding them back. But the schedule might break right for them. They’re actually OK at home and they still get to host Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis, St. Louis and San Francisco (in week 17 when the 49ers could be resting). Let’s say they go 3-2 in those games. Their remaining road games are Jacksonville, Philly, Tennessee and Seattle. All but the Seahawks could be in shambles by the time Arizona gets to them. What if they go 3-1 in those games? By my math, that’s a 9-7 record for the Cardinals. I know, I know, I should have just put them on the eliminated list and written “Carson Palmer.” But having a wild imagination is so much more fun.

This means the AFC has 12 teams fighting for six playoff spots, and the NFC has only 10 teams fighting for the same amount. Aren’t you glad we went through that useless exercise?

 

Going into the 2013 season you could have argued the following coaches were on the hot seat:

Rex Ryan

Ron Rivera

Jim Schwartz

Jason Garrett

Mike Munchak

Greg Schiano

Here’s what that hot seat list looks like after 7 weeks:

Gary Kubiak – Probably more of a warm seat here. He did just lead this team to 12 wins last season and back-to-back playoff appearances. But it looked like the Texans were heading for a rough season regardless of health. Now that Matt Schaub is missing time, Cushing’s out for the year, and their running backs are banged up, the heat is off Kubiak because he’s not playing with a full deck.

Gus Bradley – Another warm seat more so than a hot seat. Typically a first year coach who was hired into an obvious rebuilding situation wouldn’t sniff the hot seat. But if the Jaguars go 0-16 and never score a touchdown in a home game? The organization might want to distance itself from 2013 as much as possible.

Tom Coughlin – A room temperature seat. Two Super Bowl Championships and possibly the most injured roster in the league gives him the leeway to lead this team to an utter disaster in 2013 without ownership relieving him of his duties.

Leslie Frazier – Lukewarm. I have no idea what ownership thinks of Frazier’s coaching skills. I have no idea what I think of those skills because he’s been hamstrung with Christian Ponder for the past couple years. Since I don’t hear any rumors in the media, I’m going to assume he’ll be given another chance in 2014.

Greg Schiano – BURNING HOT SEAT! THIRD DEGREE BURNS ON HIS ASS! I mentioned above that he might get fired after week 9. Why that specific spot on the schedule? Because I think the last straw comes when they lose at home to Carolina on Thursday. But you don’t want an interim coach’s first game at the helm to be at Seattle, which is where the Bucs play in week 9. So after Tampa falls to 0-8 with an embarrassing loss in Seattle, Schiano gets the pink slip. Part of me is excited to be right about this, part of me is sad that his foolishness will be out of our lives at least temporarily.

So if you’re keeping score at home, Schiano is the only coach to make the preseason hot seat list and the current hot seat list. What’s most exciting to me is that Josh Freeman was jettisoned from the Bucs because Schiano wanted to get his own guy, Mike Glennon, in as the starter. When a new full-time head coach takes over next year and ultimately drafts a QB in May, will Glennon suffer the same fate as Freeman?

Let’s quickly empty out the week 7 notebook:

  • During Thursday night’s broadcast of Seattle’s win at Arizona, the NFL Network guys mentioned that the Cardinals’ athletic trainer is retiring after this week, ending a lengthy career as the team’s trainer. Is that a really weird time to retire from your job? Or is it normal for trainers of sports teams to retire midseason? Did he see the direction this season is going for Arizona and decide he wants out before the shit hits the fan? I’d like someone to tell me if this is normal or not.
  • It seems like every Sunday morning a near-disaster almost causes me to miss the start of the early games. Last year my puppy suddenly came down with a severe flea infestation just one hour before week 1’s kickoff. Twice this year my internet went down about 30 minutes before kickoff (setting fantasy lineups and placing bets gets difficult without internet). Well yesterday the disaster was self-inflicted. My dog was laying on my bed. I decided to be funny and throw a blanket over her. As the blanket was in the air, I noticed a full glass of wine sitting on my nightstand. The blanket obviously knocked the glass over…except it was one of those stemless glasses, so rather than just fall onto the ground, the glass started spinning around on the nightstand, splattering red wine all over the bedroom. I’m talking on the walls, in the closet, all over my girlfriend’s clothes, on every piece of furniture in the room, and even on the dog. This resulted in a 30-minute cleanup effort that almost forced me to have to choose between hunting down a breakfast burrito and catching the opening of the Patriots game. I need to start waking up earlier to account for these interruptions.
  • I love watching good football, but a close second for me is seeing completely inept football. You can imagine I loved the opening 10 minutes of the early games on Sunday since we got opening drives across the league that resulted in two Pick-Sixes (Ryan Tannehill and Sam Bradford) and a Fumble-Six (Mike Glennon).
  • Pick-Sixes would rule the day as Geno Smith, Tom Brady and Jay Cutler would all join in on the fun.
  • This week’s example of football making no sense on a week-by-week basis: It took nearly 42 minutes of game time on Sunday for the first points to be scored in the Dallas-Philadelphia game. Going into week 7, Dallas had the 8th-ranked offense and 21st-ranked defense. Philadelphia had the 2nd-ranked offense and 30th-ranked defense. This should have been a shootout, except football makes no sense.
  • I’m going to take the high road on the ending of that Patriots-Jets game. It sounds to me like the rule actually exists and the referee called it as the rule book states. But I saw several reporters mention that the NFL recently circulated video to the refs showing that they were repeatedly missing this call. The refs were on high alert, and the Patriots were just unlucky to be the first team to commit the infraction under the heightened scrutiny. And really, what are we arguing about? If I played a game of 1-on-1 basketball against a four-year-old right now, and I was called for a foul at the end of the game that A). was a bullshit foul, and B). resulted in that four-year-old pulling off the win, I would look ridiculous blaming the entire thing on that one foul. Why is the toddler within one basket of me when I should be absolutely dominating him? That’s a perfect comparison to that game.
  • The Patriots clearly win my Vitriol Award of the Week. Especially the 2nd and 3rd quarters when they had chance after chance to stretch the lead to 18 or 21 points.
  • It was with 1:30 left in the 3rd quarter, when the Jets took a six-point lead, that I uttered these words for the first time in my life: “I wanna quit watching football forever.”
  • Still looking for a silver lining to that game, Pats fans? Well for long stretches of last night’s game against Indy, the Broncos’ offense looked as bad as the Patriots’. Yes, even the record-setting Broncos, with a mostly healthy offense, can look terrible.
  • Jim Irsay’s comments, the tribute to Peyton Manning while he was warming up, having the roof open (which they never do)…you gotta give Indy credit. They weren’t shy at all about going to great lengths to throw Manning off his game.
  • Speaking of the Colts…I was screwing around on my betting website on Saturday night and noticed their odds to win the Super Bowl were still 20/1. I immediately put a few bucks down on them to win it all. Call it a hunch, call it financial irresponsibility…all I know is that as of this morning, their odds are down to 14/1. If Andrew Luck stays healthy, this is an 11-5 team at worst. And very possibly the #2 seed in the AFC.
  • This week’s “semi-amazing cover”: I had Houston as a 7-point underdog. They’re down by 1 with the ball on their own 5-yard line with under two minutes to play. Case Keenum gets strip sacked by a Kansas City defender who grabs the ball and rolls to the 1-yard line. He’s barely touched by a Houston player so he’s down at the 1. My first thought is, “Fuck, from the 1-yard line they’ll probably still punch it in because what else are you gonna do from that spot on the field?” And then I realize scoring a touchdown gives the Texans the ball back and it would still be a one score game. Three kneel downs by Alex Smith later and I’m a slightly richer man. Thank you, gambling gods.
  • Oh, but my record for the week sits at 6-8, another disappointing set of picks. Bite me, gambling gods.

Week 8 picks coming on Thursday.

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Week 7 NFL Picks: Everyone’s Favorite Teams to Hate, the Official Death of One Team’s Playoff Chances and More

Have you heard that the AFC has only two teams above .500? Did you hear that true parity has arrived in the NFL as only nine total teams are above .500 after six weeks? How many weeks away do you think we are from hearing all the analysts bitch and moan about potentially having several playoff teams at 8-8 or 7-9? Or better yet, someone getting up on their soapbox and arguing how it’s unfair that some good 9-7 NFC teams might miss the playoffs while some mediocre 8-8 or 7-9 AFC teams might make the playoffs? Well before you buy into the theory that the NFL has been steadily moving towards being a league of average teams, I went ahead and did some mind-bending research for you.

Since 2002, the NFL has had between 12 and 17 teams finish the year over .500 every season. And over those 10 years, 14.4 teams on average finish above .500 each season. The past three years, we’ve had 14, 14 and 15 teams end up at 9-7 or better. So, no, there’s been no gradual decline in the number of good teams. There’s not a lot of variance from year-to-year on this sort of thing. And digging a little deeper, I found that the amount of teams in the AFC who finished over .500 in the past 10 years has been either seven, eight or nine. The NFC’s been a little broader with anywhere from four to nine teams finishing over .500 in that same timeframe. So to think we’re suddenly going to drop off from that 14.5 range to only nine is ridiculous. You know how this works: the Patriots and Packers will start to play like the Patriot and Packers, the Broncos or Chargers will rise up above the rest of the AFC West, someone like Cincinnati or Buffalo (or both) will get to that magical 9-7 mark, and suddenly we’ll be at the normal level of above average teams for the year. No big deal. Just don’t be the guy caught betting on all the current 3-3 teams to stay average.

As far as spreads go, this week we have seven games that I consider a “big spread.” That’s my name for a spread that’s six points or larger. I went back through the first six weeks and found that the favorites in the “big spread” games are only 15-17-2. Not very impressive. While it might be wise for me to choose no more than three or four favorites in these games this week, I’m predicting a bit of a correction in favor of the favorites this week. At some point the favorites have to start covering more games. And I really do think this week’s the start of it. So how many of these big favorites did I choose to cover in week 7? You’ll have to read on to find out (home teams underlined):

San Francisco (-9) over Seattle: Fuck Seattle and Fuck Richard Sherman. He’s now the only player in the NFL who I’m rooting for to have a season-ending injury. OK, so underdogs are now 5-1 in the Thursday games this season. And in last week’s blog, I wondered if maybe the short turnaround between playing a game on Sunday and then playing again four days later had an adverse effect on the favorites. I think last week’s game was more about Pittsburgh having 44 injured players by halftime. Anyway, it would be easy to pick against San Francisco this week because they’re giving more than a touchdown against a 4-2 team only four days after getting annihilated at home to the Giants. I get it. But when you think about the Seahawks and 49ers and their mental states last Sunday night and all day Monday, which team do you think was able to turn the page on week 6 quicker? I think it’s the 9ers. They got killed in every aspect of their game and I’m sure it wasn’t difficult for them to say, “OK, we got our asses handed to us. Let’s turn the page.” But for Seattle, they really did act like they won the Super Bowl after beating the Patriots. There was lots of celebration, after-the-fact trash-talking, and I’m thinking their focus stayed on that great win well into Monday. On a short week against one of the best teams in football, I think Seattle feels the full wrath of San Francisco on Thursday night. Oh, and against a competent defense like the 49ers, the Seahawks’ offense goes back to its natural 12 points per game state. (Editor’s Note: I wrote the above paragraph on Thursday morning when the 49ers were favored by 7.5. The fact that it jumped to 9 just a few hours later really scares me, but screw it, I’m sticking with them.)

Minnesota (-7) over Arizona: I already mentioned in my week 6 recap blog that the Cardinals are currently in the midst of a six-game losing streak. They just don’t know it yet. In this week’s installment of “no one wants to play quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals,” we’ll see John Skelton take the field because Kevin Kolb is busy getting his ribs reattached to his sternum via staples and Krazy Glue. So we know the Cards are going to lose, but can they cover the touchdown? Well, they’ve scored one touchdown in their last two games, and that includes week 6 against the 31st-ranked Buffalo defense. As far as Minnesota letting up 38 points to the Redskins last week, well, I think every defense struggles against RGII this season. I’m willing to give them a pass on that, and I think their defense is a lot closer to the one that let up a combined 33 points in the three games prior to that. I’m confident enough in a big Vikings win to make them my suicide pick this week.

Dallas (-2) over Carolina: I love how all football fans root against the same three teams no matter what, 100% of the time. Those teams of course are the Jets, Eagles and Cowboys. And if you think about it, those are the three teams that are all hype. Every year, it’s Super Bowl or bust for those teams, except none of them ever gets close. It’s all self-created preseason hype from them, and it sets us on a season-long quest to see them fail miserably. So as much as I’d love to pick Carolina on Sunday, it just doesn’t make sense. The Panthers shouldn’t be able to throw on Dallas very easily, and they really haven’t seemed committed to the run this year. The Cowboys, meanwhile, can and will throw all day on this Panthers D. As long as Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are healthy, the Cowboys should move the ball easily, even without DeMarco Murray. But hey, if you decide to pick Carolina solely because the thought of Dallas having to execute a clutch game-ending drive to setup a winning field goal makes you sick, I completely understand.

New Orleans (-3) over Tampa Bay: So, uhh, Mike Williams makes some pretty good catches, huh? Between him and Vincent Jackson, how do the Bucs only have the 25th-best passing offense? Oh, Josh Freeman’s the QB? Gotcha. In a battle of two teams who aren’t gonna beat anyone with the run, I like Drew Brees and the Saints coming off a bye more than Tampa at home. If it wasn’t for the bye week, I’d be wary of the road favorite, but the Saints have had plenty of time to get ready for this one and put all the other distractions behind them. And remember that they’ve lost four games only by a combined 20 points. Could New Orleans be 3-2 right now? They could.

Green Bay (-6) over St. Louis: OK, I’m willing to get on board with the popular opinion that Green Bay’s about to go on a run and leave a path of destruction in their wake. I’m skeptical about it, but for this week at least, I’m in. I keep asking myself how a team that just owned the 5-0 Houston Texans could potentially not cover against the 3-3 Rams? I worry that St. Louis plays hard, they’re well-coached, and they could at least keep it close enough to get the dreaded backdoor cover at the end of the game. And the Packers injuries scare me (Greg Jennings, B.J. Raji, Sam Shields, D.J. Smith, Nick Perry). But I don’t wanna be that guy stuck with a bet on the Rams as the Packers are rolling to a 27-6 halftime lead. Green Bay, make me proud or else I’m blindly picking against you the rest of the year.

Washington (+6) over NY Giants: Remember when I wrote about the three teams we all love to root against? I have one more: the Giants. I really want them to lose every game in the most devastating possible way. On the flip side, it’s suddenly really fun to root for the Redskins…mostly because they have Black Jesus. So I’m admittedly picking with my heart and not my head in this game. Sometimes you just wanna root for the fun team, not the evil team. By the way, can you believe that if the Skins somehow win this game, they have a great shot of going into their week 10 bye with a 6-3 record? Incredible, especially for a team I projected to win four total games this year. Don’t worry, Redskins fans, I’m now totally onboard with your team. Not only am I backing them this week, but I just put a bet on them to win the NFC East at 7-to-1 odds. Is it possible I’m jinxing this team big time right now? It is. Consider the text I sent my two Washington friends on the night of game 5 of the Nationals vs Cardinals after the Nats took a 6-0 lead: “Nats!!! Don’t worry I’m not a jinx anymore.” Oops. Am I secretly trying to get back at them for my bitterness over the Capitals ousting the Bruins from the Stanley Cup Playoffs earlier this year? Nah, I’m not that vindictive when it comes to hockey. Anyway, the pick is RGII/Bob/Black Jesus to keep this game close.

Houston (-7) over Baltimore: Both teams come into this game with their star linebacker out for the year (Ray Lewis for Baltimore, Brian Cushing for Houston) and their top cornerback banged up (Lardarius Webb for Baltimore, Jonathan Joseph for Houston). Though in Baltimore’s case their “banged up” corner is out for the year while Houston’s is questionable for this week. Injuries or not, Baltimore has looked unimpressive against the Browns, Chiefs and Cowboys in recent weeks (three teams whose combined record is 4-13). Meanwhile Houston is barely finished cleaning the blood off their abused assholes after Sunday night’s raping courtesy of the Packers. But other than that, the Texans have been very impressive in most of their games. This is a bounce back game for Houston and I expect them to be up for it. An already suspect Ravens defense in Houston should be ripe for the picking.

Buffalo (-3) over Tennessee: Hmm, with the AFC mired in mediocrity are the Bills still in the playoff conversation? Well of course technically they are since their 3-3 record ties them for 1st in the AFC East right now. But with how bad they looked against New England and San Francisco in back-to-back weeks, plenty of people (including me) were ready to rule them out. But if they just win the games they’re supposed to, they can still get to 9-7. Well, this week is one of those games they’re supposed to win. If you can’t beat an atrocious Tennessee team at home, in a must-win, then you’re done. I think the Bills rise to the challenge and keep pace with the Patriots in the East.

Indianapolis (-3) over Cleveland: This Colts team is really easy to figure out. Shame on you if you thought they’d cover against the Jets last week. They are obviously going 2-6 on the road at best, but they’ll play really tough at home (where each of their first three games has been decided by five points or less). In a worst-case scenario, they’re pushing this game with a late Vinatieri field goal. I couldn’t be more confident in my knowledge of how one team will perform this week.

New England (-11) over NY Jets: Let’s see…the Patriots were expected to win 12 or 13 games by most people and they currently sit at 3-3; they’re playing pissed off at home after an embarrassing loss to a mediocre Seattle team; they hate the Jets probably more than they hate the Giants still; the Patriots are 8-3 in games where they wear throwback uniforms (which they’ll be doing on Sunday). It’s not a matter of if the Patriots will win. It’s just a question of how much they’re gonna win by. Since 2007—not including 2008 when Tom Brady was out—the Patriots have outscored the Jets by almost exactly 20 points in each of their wins. I will not predict that to change this weekend at Gillette Stadium with New England staring at an unheard of 3-4 record if they blow it. Patriots roll, Sanchez gets benched, the universe returns to order.

In the only 1-4 vs 1-4 matchup of the week, I’m giving Molly first crack at this one. She’s back to .500 for the season with her winning pick of St. Louis last week. Let’s see if she can finally put together a little winning streak. Oakland (-4) is at home vs Jacksonville. And as you’ll see, all Molly really did was decide who has smellier feet between Julie and I:

Cincinnati (+1.5) over Pittsburgh: C’mon, Pitt’s not winning a divisional road game with the sad state their team’s currently in. Everyone’s injured, right? Couldn’t win at Tennessee last week? Can’t contain A.J. Green with a beat up secondary? Listen, neither team is playing inspiring football these days, but for Cincy to be a home underdog is a little insulting. The Bengals are another team I bet on earlier this week to win their division. The odds aren’t great for them to do it since Baltimore’s sitting on top at 5-1, but with all the injuries to the Ravens and Steelers, it feels like a wide open division.

Chicago (-6) over Detroit: No underdog is scarier to bet against than the Lions because they almost always seem to get an end-of-game touchdown. Sometimes that touchdown gets them to overtime, and sometimes it just gives them a close loss. But it almost always gives them the cover. The Lions’ problem is that they’ve been favored in almost every game this year. Now that they’re a “big underdog,” I should probably consider their late game “heroics” when picking this matchup. But with the Bears coming off a bye and outscoring opponents in their four wins by a combined 91 points, this was an easy pick. Detroit’s playoff hopes officially die on Monday Night Football.

And finally, the breakdown of my picks this week:

Favorites: 10

Underdogs: 3

Home teams: 8

Road teams: 5

Home underdogs: 1

Road underdogs: 2