Not much in the NFL, a point that San Diego has really driven home all season long.
The Chargers are a team that gains 432.7 yards per game, which is by far the most in the league. Indy is second at 409 and third-ranked Dallas is the only other team with 400, while the drop-off to fourth is significant (Philadelphia, 380.3).
San Diego also allows the fewest yards per game at 255.2 — a sizable lead over the second-ranked Giants (264.8). Quarterback Philip Rivers also leads the league with 2,008 passing yards (averaging 335 per game) and is tied for second with 12 touchdowns.
These numbers are all mightily impressive, and yet, the Chargers are fairly terrible at winning football games. They’re 2-4 and tied for last in the mostly weak division that is the AFC West, and despite those impressive yardage totals, they’re ranked 19th in points allowed and they’ve lost to the likes of the Seahawks, Raiders and most recently, the Rams. In fact, they’ve been outscored 103-78 on the road on their way to an 0-4 record.
But, well, they’re 2-0 at home, outscoring Jacksonville and Arizona 79-23.
This week, they’re a 2.5-point favorite over the 4-1 New England Patriots, who are coming off an overtime win against the Ravens, a team considered by most to be the best team in the league.
And you think making NFL picks is easy?
(Home team in caps.)
Pittsburgh (-3) over MIAMI
Road favorites are winning at just a 41 percent rate this year, but if you’re going to pick one this week, it’d have to be Pittsburgh.
The Steelers are their typical selves, coming off an 18-point win over the Browns. The Dolphins are good enough to win, but they’re 0-2 at home and have been outscored 72-37 at home. Yikes.
(There’s no way that resident nutjob James Harrison is retiring, either. This is a man who refused to go to the White House with the team because President Barack Obama would have had the Cardinals visit had they won the Super Bowl. He likes being the news story, but he also likes getting paid. He’ll have his helmet on Sunday.)
ATLANTA (-3.5) over Cincinnati
I can’t believe this spread isn’t larger. It’s not that Atlanta is all that special, it’s that Cincinnati is all that awful. The Bengals are impossible to take at this point and will likely lose their next four games (at Atlanta, vs. Miami, vs. Pittsburgh and at Indianapolis), which will eventually lead to one of the great Terrell Owens meltdowns of all time.
But at least he’ll have The T.Ocho Show.
Ridiculous Quote From Last Week’s Picks: “Thanks to Michael Turner and Jason Snelling, Atlanta should be able to eke out a close one [over Philly].”
Note: The Falcons trailed 21-0 midway through the second quarter. Whatever.
KANSAS CITY (-4.5)* over Jacksonville
This line is dependent on the health of Jags quarterbacks David Garrard and Trent Edwards, who were both injured Monday night. It’s not surprising, considering those of us who had to watch that game were forced to injure ourselves, just because the game was so brutally unwatchable.
But really, if you’ve read these picks in the past, you know my affinity for one Mr. Romeo Crennel, and despite consecutive losses to Indy and Houston, the Chiefs are one of the few teams in the NFL to look good just about every single week. Love them in just about any sub-7 spread.
Philadelphia (+3)* over TENNESSEE
Another spread that’s dependent on the health of the starting quarterback, but it looks like Vince Young will play (and frankly, Kerry Collins isn’t necessarily a downgrade, so I don’t understand the holdup).
Anyway, road dogs are 33-22-1 this year, and the Eagles are pretty good at football. Granted, they’ll be without DeSean Jackson (he got hit in the head, have you heard the news?), but they’ll be OK against Tennessee on a short week, particularly if Kevin Kolb can channel his inner Joe Montana again.
Washington (+3) over CHICAGO
I really hate to make a pick based solely on an offensive line (mostly because I’ve never been 345 pounds and will always struggle to fully understand the intricacies of the position), but with the Bears, I must.
Allowing 212 sacks in the first half to a ferocious team like the Giants is one thing, but allowing six sacks to the Seattle Pumped and Jacked Seahawks is too much.
Plus, just like the Eagles, it’s not like the Skins are a terrible team here.
NEW ORLEANS (-13) over Cleveland
Hey, look, it’s the 13-point spread!
These are by far the worst creatures in the world, because it takes a confluence of so many events for an NFL team to beat another NFL team by two touchdowns. It’s madness.
The fact that Cleveland is coming off an 18-point loss is a bit deceiving, considering it would have been an 11-point loss had Colt McCoy not thrown a late interception that all but forced the Steelers to score another touchdown.
Oh, but there it is. Mr. McCoy played in some raucous environments in college, but he’s in for a treat in New Orleans this weekend. I’m thinking a few sacks and a few picks are in his near future.
RQFLWP: “The Browns are a competitive team. … They’re only getting outscored by 3.8 points on average, and the Steelers’ offense will need some time to find its rhythm with Roethlisberger.”
Note: The Browns weren’t very competitive.
Buffalo (+13) over BALTIMORE
Back-to-back spreads of 13 points? Come on.
This one’s more because of Baltimore than Buffalo. The Ravens aren’t a home run type of team. They have just one double-digit win this year (14 points over Denver), and I think they win by 10 on Sunday.
San Francisco (-3) at CAROLINA
Admittedly, I have not seen an entire Panthers game from start to finish this year. That’s mostly because the television networks are kind and decent enough to keep that team off my television. So while I know they’re bad, I don’t truly know how bad.
So I went to a Panthers blog to see what the fans are saying about their beloved football team, and I saw this headline: “Is the Panthers in need of more reverse order.”
That story began: “After the signing of quarterback-turned-wide receiver Armanti Edwards recently the Panthers is now seen to have narrowed their ‘yet to sign’ list to two.”
Jeez. It’s bad enough to have an awful football team, but can your bloggers get some copyediting?
TAMPA BAY (-3) over St. Louis
Congratulations, Bucs and Rams, you’ve been tabbed as my “Stay Away From This Unless You Are a Sick, Sick Individual” Game!
I’m still thrown off by that 44-6 Rams loss from a couple of weeks ago. I’m still thrown off by how good Sam Bradford looks. Yet I’m also thrown off by the Bucs’ 3-1 start and their huge blowout losses to the Steelers and Saints.
These are two typical “sort of good but mostly bad” teams that look infinitely different from week to week. Your guess as to which teams will show up on Sunday is as good as mine, but I’ll stick with the Bucs, who are terrible at home, over the Rams, who are terrible on the road. I guess.
SEATTLE (-5.5) over Arizona
This battle of NFC West juggernauts is sure to be brutal. You know, if the league wants to remove “devastating hits,” it should start by removing “devastating divisions,” starting with the NFC West. Who wants to watch this game? Really.
With no discernible favorite, let’s look at two almost-arbitrary stats:
1. The Cardinals are 8-1 against the spread in October.
2. The Seahawks are 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games against teams with a winning record.
Sure, that’s enough for me … except Arizona has been outscored 95-34 on the road this year. In case you’re not familiar with football, that is really, really bad. Let’s go with Pete.
(It is interesting that both teams are 3-2 yet neither team has won two in a row. This one might end in a tie.)
DENVER (-7) over Oakland
The Raiders haven’t been blown out in far too long. Plus, the Tim Tebow Express has left the station.
Oh, and Raiders coach Tom Cable, when asked who his starting quarterback would be, said, “We have no idea at this point. … We have some issues.”
That’s always good.
RQFLWP: “I don’t see any reason to pick Denver [over the Jets]. Literally not one.”
Note: The Broncos were the better team for about 50 minutes of that game. No big deal.
New England (+2.5) over SAN DIEGO
The Patriots probably should have been underdogs in Week 1 (young, untested defense against veteran Cincinnati passing attack), Week 4 (they always struggle in Miami) and Week 6 (matched up against the best team in the NFL), yet they were favorites all three times.
Now fresh off that win over the team considered to be the NFL’s best, the Pats are underdogs. Makes sense, right?
Plus, as described in great detail earlier, the Chargers don’t make any statistical sense, so you’ll just have to count on Norv Turner screwing things up.
Minnesota (+3) over GREEN BAY
Randy Moss‘ return to Lambeau? This could be fun to watch. Just make sure Joe Buck isn’t watching, because there may be a disgusting act or two.
(Wait a second … doing what I used to have to do before Favre’s games as a Packer and checking the weather to make sure his old bones won’t get too stiff on Sunday … and … OK, temperatures in the low 50s. That’s warm enough.)
New York Giants (+3) over DALLAS
The Cowboys are an awful football team, but hey, at least Jerry Jones is sending the team positive messages.
We’ll see what kind of message Eli Manning has for them after beating them again.
Last week: 8-4-2