Welcome to the NFL, where last-minute, meaningless field goals in games you should not care about at all can make you swear angrily and loudly in front of complete strangers, who in turn stare at you in disgust as they cast judgment upon your soul.
Not that I know from experience or anything. I’m just saying, did New Orleans really need that extra field goal at the end of the game?
This isn’t about last week, though. This is about this week, when the three-way ties in the AFC East and AFC West will be broken up, when the Steelers make or break their season, when the Niners can prove they belong, and when the Colts lose again.
Let’s not waste any more time.
As always, there will be no shortage of Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week’s Picks (RQFLWP).
(Home team in caps.)
SAN DIEGO (-7) over Oakland
The Oakland Raiders can’t stop anybody. They’re 4-4 and tied for first in the West, but they’ve been outscored by 32 points on the season. They’re 27th in total defense, they’re bad against the pass (20th) and the’re bad against the run (29th).
As frightening as it may be to go with Norv Turner and Philip Rivers, who are riding a nice three-game losing streak out of their bye week, the Chargers will be the better team this Thursday night.
PHILADELPHIA-Arizona (no line)
There’s no line for this one as we await the status of Kevin Kolb. Really? Kevin Kolb? The guy with the 23rd-best quarterback rating this season is causing this delay? Sucks to be John Skelton.
Either way, I’ll take the Eagles on any line that is 8 points or lower, and the Cardinals otherwise. Also, why would you name your team after a bird?
Hope that helps.
RQFLWP: “I can’t ever pick John Skelton. Not now. Not ever.”
Note: Skelton turned out to be mediocre, but I have no doubt he would have never won a game in overtime. Curse you, Patrick Peterson.
TAMPA BAY (+3) over Houston
The Houston Texans are on an absolute tear right now, winning three in a row by a combined score of 95-33. But they’re due for a letdown.
They won’t face competition in their division (sorry, Tennessee), and they know it. Plus, they’ve got a bye week on the horizon. Those factors will play a role when they face the Bucs, who at 4-4 are at a crossroads. They’ve won some big games at home already this year, and I’ve been rewarded for trusting their resolve when their backs are against the wall before. Albert Haynesworth will have only been there a couple of days by Sunday, so he won’t have completely ruined the locker room by then!
Washington (+4) over MIAMI
Jeez. You win one lousy football game and all of a sudden you’re a four-point favorite?
I’ve stated many times this season that I believe Washington to be the perfect picture of mediocrity. And a mediocre Washington team should beat a horrible Miami team. Add in the four points, and I feel way more confident than I should for picking the Washington Redskins in an NFL football game. Let’s move on while I’m still feeling good.
Jacksonville (-3) over INDIANAPOLIS
Every single week, it’s like a joke. Three points? Come on! I like lay-ups as much as the next guy but at some point, Vegas, you’re going to have to challenge me with these Colts lines. Three points?!
(I fully recognize that the Jaguars are redefining pathetic when it comes to passing. They average 124 yards per game. Average! That’s dead last, obviously, but by a full 47 yards! That is so bad. But the Colts are worse.)
KANSAS CITY (-3) over Denver
All the Broncos can do is run the football. They rank fifth in the league in rushing yards per game (147.5) and 31st in the league in passing yards. Problem is, Kansas City can stop the run with pretty good success. I love Romeo Crennel‘s chances to shut down the Broncos with no problem. I actually love Crennel’s chances of shutting down any opposing team, in any sport, in any country, at any time, but that’s a story for a different day.
RQFLWP: “Picking Tim Tebow’s team frightens me … “
Note: I take that back. Picking Tim Tebow’s team entertains me to no end.
Buffalo (+5) over DALLAS
I don’t buy the Bills as a real contender, but I don’t buy the Cowboys as a model of consistency. They’re in win-lose, win-lose mode right now. DeMarco Murray may run wild against that leaky run D, but Fred Jackson will answer right back.
These teams are pretty even across the board, so five points is too much to ignore.
On a related note, have we all pumped the brakes on this Ryan Fitzpatrick fella? A lot of people were ready to build a statue for him after he started with nine touchdowns and three interceptions in the first four games. Since then, he’s got six touchdowns and six picks. Maybe he’s really just Ryan Fitzpatrick, which isn’t all that special.
New Orleans (pick ‘em) over ATLANTA
Pick ‘em games make me queasy. I’m 0-2 this season thus far, so I don’t anticipate being able to actually watch this game. Because I feel unequipped and scared to make this pick, I went to Covers.com for help. The site told me that New Orleans is terrible (2-6) against the spread against NFC opponents, and Atlanta is great (7-3) against the spread in their last 10 games against NFC South opponents.
But this one has no spread, so New Orleans wins. You can thank me later for my brilliance.
CAROLINA (-3.5) over Tennessee
Last week, I said the Titans have been trick or treat all year. I wasn’t wrong, but they treated when I thought they were going to trick. Such is the way that usually goes.
Carolina is an upper-third offensive team but an absolutely brutal defensive team. Hence the 2-6 record. Fortunately, the Titans are weak enough offensively to let Carolina win this one by a touchdown.
Fun fact: Michael Vick ranks first in the NFL with 8 yards per rush. Cam Newton ranks 10th with 5.1. The next closest quarterback? Tim Tebow! What’s fun about that, you ask? What isn’t fun about that?!
St. Louis (+2.5) over CLEVELAND
The St. Louis Rams aren’t very good, but they’re not 1-15 bad. They’re going to win again, and why not against the Browns? They’ll probably beat the Seahawks once or twice, too, thereby keeping us busy with a down-to-the-wire Andrew Luck race. I love the NFL.
RQFLWP: “It’s not much, but it’s enough to believe they may hang tight with Houston, especially if Andre Johnson remains out.”
Note: Don’t ever give Cleveland the benefit of any doubt.
Pittsburgh (-3) over CINCINNATI
The Bengals are on a five-game winning streak. That is the most underreported story in the NFL right now. That’s not without reason, though, because those teams have a combined 13-28 record. Their other win came against the 3-5 Browns. They’re the biggest impostor to ever have a 6-2 record, and four games remaining against the Steelers and Ravens should bring them back to earth.
Andy Dalton has no idea what he’s in for. Pittsburgh wins this one 20-0.
RQFLWP: “On the other hand … there is no other hand. Pittsburgh is about to seize control of the AFC. I just hope they do it by a little more than a field goal. That half of a point is scaring me, but you can’t let an imaginary half-point steer you from the right choice.”
Note: For a few fleeting moments on Sunday night, I thought I had this half-point conquered. Then, the Steelers lose their four-point lead, and the football game, and I may or may not have done some of the angry yelling that was discussed at the beginning of this story.
Baltimore (-7) over SEATTLE
There may be a planet somewhere in this universe where I could pick the Seattle Seahawks as a seven-point underdog against the Baltimore Ravens. I do not currently inhabit that planet.
That is all.
SAN FRANCISCO (-3) over New York Giants
Listen, when the players on a team celebrate a Week 9 win by lifting up their coach in the locker room, they’re due for a kick in the pants a few days later when they realize that it’s only the middle of the regular season and there is no time for celebrating.
I’m excited to see the 49ers prove they’re a viable playoff team.
Detroit (+2.5) over CHICAGO
I pick against the Bears as often as possible, because they’re the Bears, but especially on a short week. Detroit will roll. Thanks for the 2.5 points, though, just to be safe.
RQFLWP: “I don’t do fantasy football (hate it), but if I did, I’d do whatever I can to get Michael Vick on my team this week.”
Note: Like I said, I don’t do fantasy, so maybe I ought to hold off on any more fantasy advice.
New England Patriots (+1) over NEW YORK JETS
These are the types of games where you can break it down 100 different ways, study stats, history and whatever you want, but you still won’t have a damn clue who’s going to win on Sunday night.
Despite the fact that Bill Belichick hasn’t won in New York since Rex Ryan took over, I still like the Patriots in this matchup. Their dreadful pass defense is neutralized against Mark Sanchez, and the murmurs of the demise of Tom Brady‘s passing offense are far too premature.
All those historical stats and trends tend to lean toward the Jets’ favor here. If you’ve watched the Patriots the past two weeks, you know they’ve been taking historical trends and throwing them in the trash (in a bad way). There’s no reason to think they can’t do it the other way.
GREEN BAY (-14) over Minnesota
That insurance company that employed Aaron Rodgers to do the stupid touchdown dance commercial will get its money’s worth on Monday night. All the rest of the advertisers won’t, though, because nobody will be watching this game.
Last week: 8-6