Forgetting Perfection for Week 6 NFL Picks


October 16, 2009

Forgetting Perfection for Week 6 NFL Picks OK, so maybe last week I went a little overboard. Maybe if you seek perfection, the football gods hand you defeat.

And defeat I was handed.

A second consecutive 6-8 week has my season record at a dangerous eight games above .500. That's not good, but like the Patriots, Ravens and Steelers, my best days are ahead of me.

I think.

(Home team in caps.)

CINCINNATI (-5) over Houston
Remember before the season when the Texans were going to be in the Super Bowl and the Bengals were just going to be the Bengals again?

Things have kind of changed there, and the Bengals are 4-1 and in first place in the AFC North. They quieted the Ravens' offense, holding Ray Rice to just 69 rushing yards and Joe Flacco to 186 yards and two picks — both season lows for Flacco.

The Texans? They showed some fight in the fourth quarter last week, and Matt Schaub threw for three million yards, but 45 team rushing yards? It's hard to trust any team that averages just 75.4 yards per game on the ground.

Detroit (13.5) over GREEN BAY
The Lions have become perhaps the trickiest team to try to figure out. You know one thing about them — they probably won't win. But the manner in which they go about their epic not-winningness is where the trouble lies.

One week, they lose by 24 points to a mediocre Chicago team. The next, they're losing by eight to the defending champs. They even throw a win in there just to mess with you.

But this game could be kept close by Green Bay's inept offensive line. The Packers have allowed a league-high 20 sacks … and they're coming off a bye week. Three of their four opponents' defenses are in the top four in the league in sacks (Minnesota is No. 1 with 18, with Chicago and Cincinnati tied for fourth with 14). Detroit has 10, spread fairly evenly throughout the defense. A few sacks of Aaron Rodgers and perhaps a defensive touchdown could keep the Lions close.

Baltimore (+3) over MINNESOTA
This pick is based solely on my confidence that John Harbaugh has not stopped swearing since that dreaded Sunday afternoon in Foxborough. The man swore on national television during the game before losing yet again last week to the Bengals.

Inspired purely by the curse word, the Ravens will prevail.

NEW ORLEANS (+3) over New York Giants
The matchup of the week pits two undefeated teams against each other.

The Giants are first in the NFC in yards allowed per game. The Saints are fourth.

The Giants are second in the NFC in yards gained per game. The Saints are third.

The Saints are first in the NFL in points per game. The Giants are fourth.

While they're pretty evenly matched teams, I'm taking the Saints coming off their bye and coming off the Drew Brees feature on SportsCenter in which nobody knows what he's saying in the big team huddle before the game. I like my teams to be shrouded in mystery.

Cleveland (+14) over PITTSBURGH
Yes, yes, I know it seems crazy to pick the Browns after that disaster last week, but hear me out.

The Steelers are horrible in the fourth quarter. I mean really horrible. How horrible, you say? Try getting outscored 55-13 horrible.

I'm picturing a 28-10 Steelers lead heading into the last quarter before Mohamed Massaquoi catches a couple of deep balls to close the gap.

Mike Tomlin has been saying all year that his team needs to figure out how to close games, but until his players back up his words, I have no trust.

TAMPA BAY (+3.5) over Carolina
The Panthers won last week by default and largely thanks to one of the dumbest rules in football.

The Panthers benefited from a punt that hit off a Redskins player, who was pushed directly into the punt returner. A fair catch had been signaled, but according to the VP of officiating Mike Pereira, that ball would only be dead if the player pushed into the returner is a "passive player."

If you're a "passive player" on an NFL field, you'll quickly become a "headless player."

Tampa, which lost horrifically to the Eagles last week, wins this one because sometimes karma knows when to step in.

Oh, and because Jake Delhomme has three touchdowns to eight picks.

Kansas City (+6.5) over WASHINGTON
When you pick the same team so many times and continue to guess wrong, you start to genuinely believe you have an effect on the outcome of the game. So much so that you decide that if you pick against that team, they'll almost assuredly win. So you pick that team to prevent against such a fate. Yet you're still convinced that by picking that team you are essentially guaranteeing that they don't cover.

It's a vicious cycle.

And I'm picking the Chiefs.

JACKSONVILLE (-9.5) over St. Louis
Normally, the words "Jacksonville" and "minus (any number)" are not exactly promising, but these Rams … well, these Rams look prepared to take the reigns from the 2007 Dolphins and 2008 Lions as the new team to flirt with imperfection.

They've been outscored 146-34. They've been shut out twice. Yuck.

David Garrard and the Jaguars are coming off a yuck performance of their own, but they've at least looked like a football team at times this season.

Philadelphia (-14) over OAKLAND
I didn't take the big spread last week for the Eagles, and they won by a million. I also passed on the Giants at -14 over the Raiders, who lost by two million. In the first half.

The Raiders were so terrible last week that Antonio Pierce compared the game to a scrimmage.

This week, it's Philly over Oakland. I don't care what the spread is.

SEATTLE (-3) over Arizona
I was stuck on this one until I learned that Matt Hasselbeck's mom will be in attendance. The significance of that fact, of course, is that the Seahawks are 16-0 when Hasselbeck's mother is in attendance at Qwest Field since 2002, the quarterback wrote on his Twitter page.

Who says Twitter is useless?

NEW ENGLAND (-9.5) over Tennessee
That's a mighty large spread for a team that struggled to do anything in the second half in Denver last week, but despite the spotty performance, the Patriots have given everyone reason to believe they'll play better. At what point? Who knows. But we do know that the Titans haven't given anybody any reason to believe anything.

The whole "Patriots-don't-lose-two-games-in-a-row" thing is in effect, as is the fact that everyone in the world seems to be doubting Tom Brady. He was even told he will be going to Hell on Thursday.

Brady's well aware of the criticism, so when he faces a Titans team that surrenders the second-most yards per game in the entire NFL, look out.

NEW YORK JETS (-10) over Buffalo
In the NFL, you usually can't base everything off last week. In some cases, you can.

Take this game for instance. The Jets, after facing one of the most complex and confusing offenses in the league, will take on Buffalo, a team that lost to the Browns last week despite Derek Anderson's 2-for-17 afternoon.

What's puzzled me all year is the fact that nobody has informed Trent Edwards that Terrell Owens is on his team. Seriously. He's over there. Throw the man the football, and watch what he does with it.

ATLANTA (-3.5) over Chicago
The Falcons showed they could absolutely maul a San Francisco defense that had been a force until last Sunday. The Bears rode a three-game winning streak into their bye week.

This one's too close to call. Run away.

Denver (+4) over SAN DIEGO
When the Broncos were 4-0, everyone said they hadn't played anyone. So then they beat the Patriots and now they're 5-0. Yet they're four-point underdogs against a San Diego team that has yet to beat a worthy opponent?

I suppose you could get a letdown game out of the Broncos, but this is a rivalry game. Remember Philip Rivers acting tough on the sidelines, smacking his lips at Jay Cutler a couple Christmases ago?

Yeah Cutler's gone, but don't you think a few Broncos might want to let Rivers know they haven't forgotten?

Not to mention the fact that the Broncos let the Chargers waltz into the playoffs thanks to three straight losses at the end of last season, concluding with a 52-21 domination at the hands of the Bolts themselves.

These Broncos will be determined not to suffer the same fate, and a win over the Chargers could all but guarantee Denver a trip to the playoffs, even if it is Week 6.

I just hope Josh McDaniels gets to run a few plays at middle linebacker.

Last week: 6-8
Season: 42-34

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