Well last week went really well for me picking against the spread, especially considering I never do it. 10-4? I’ll take it. If only I would have actually bet on it… Anyway, we ar going to do it again for a few reasons. The first is that I did not feel like writing on Thanksgiving to prepare for the Alabama-Auburn game (which I would have gotten wrong), and the second is that I am sick of college football. Don’t worry, I will explain in my Bowl Season column (which I will write after the Bowl Schedule is set)). Regardless, I would be remiss in my duties if I did not come back and try to prove that my picks against the spread were not a fluke, so here I am.
However, this week looks brutal for the spread. Last week, I was pretty confident about 8 or so of the spreads. This week? 2. Crap. I am going to go ahead and hide, but keep reading, just know that if you decide to throw rotten fruit at me after the week, I am already hiding somewhere you can’t hit me.
I should also note that I was 1-2 on Thursday games this week. I hit the Patriots cover (like everyone), and had the right idea on the other two but they did not fall. I called the Saints-Cowboys game close, but was off on just how close, and called the Bengals hanging in there, but did not call Brad Smith going nuts. C’est la vie. On to the next ones.
Washington +1 vs Minnesota
Washington is the team that consistently is hardest for me to pick. I have little to no idea on a week to week basis which team will show up. Will it be the team that beat the Bears? Will it be the team that got absolutely annihilated by the Eagles? Will it be the team that gave the Colts a really good game? Will it be the team that lost to the Lions and Rams? Or, finally, will it be the team that builds a huge lead against the Texans and then blows it?
Bottom line, as I am sure you got as I really overdid that last sentence, is that I don’t get them. I think there is a pretty solid chance that the Vikings come out and show their support for Leslie Frazier by ripping the Skins apart, but I think there is an equally good chance that the current trends with the Vikings continue. Favre probably will not play well, the Vikings will probably lose on the road again (something like 9 straight consecutive road losses), and they will probably be anemic all around. But maybe not. I am taking the Redskins to cover because they are supposed to have a bad game after their win last week. We expect them to zag instead of zig so much that I think they can get a win.
But, I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine.
Minnesota 16 Washington 20
Pittsburgh -6.5 vs Buffalo
I am borderline comfortable with this line, but there is plenty of reason for pause. The Bills have been in just about every game for the last month, and the Steelers have this complex where they try to convince themselves they are a power football team when they throw the ball 40 times a game in close games. The Bills cannot stop the run, and if I called the plays for the Steelers, I would just run it 30 times, but that may not happen. I think Buffalo can keep this interesting for far longer than they should, but it will still be the Steelers winning by more than a touchdown.
Ryan Fitzpatrick sounds like a character from the Revolutionary War, but I do not think he can circle the wagons on the men of steel.
Pittsburgh 31, Buffalo 20
Houston -6 vs Tennessee
Don’t worry Texans fans, I am not bullish on your team. I may never be. However, I am fairly confident in picking against Rusty Smith. My general rule of thumb is that you do not pick players to succeed when their first name could be a horse’s name. And I don’t mean racehorses, just regular horses. The Texans pass defense is horrendous, but I do not trust Rusty to pick them apart enough to make them pay. The Tennessee slide continues.
Tennessee 17, Houston 27
New York Giants -7 vs Jacksonville
This might be the game that I am most confused by. Really, Vegas? A touchdown for the Giants? We both know they are 6-4, right? We know that Jacksonville has been playing great lately, and the Giants have been sliding right? And it is Giants by 7? Should be 4.5 right?
Yet, I am taking the Giants to cover. Why? I do not trust David Garrard. Not one bit. The Giants, realizing they are a game back in the playoff hunt, need a win badly and will get one with a semi-inspired performance. The Giants turnover problem should be somewhat nullified by the Jags inability to get turnovers, and I just do not trust the Jaguars this week. I have gotten way too comfortable picking them for it to continue. If I know anything about Jaguars football, it is that they will play the Colts tough, and lose games they ought to win.
Jacksonville 14, New York 35
Carolina +10 vs Cleveland
Free money. If Colt McCoy was playing, it would be different, but he is out. Here is the secret. Some QBs come back and kill their teams in spite (think Favre vs Packers in 2009). Other QBs are completely blindsided by the move, leave the franchise in a teary press conference and are just done. Jake Delhomme is the second. I almost want to pick a Panthers win here, but I cannot go quite that far with Brian St. Pierre and Mike Goodson. There is no way in hell this line should be any higher than 7 with Delhomme in and realistically, I would put it at 4.5. But, people love the Browns revival. Panthers cover, and might even win, but I cannot go that bold.
Panthers 16, Browns 20
Tampa Bay +7.5 vs Baltimore
Tampa Bay has gotten blown out this year by the really good teams they have played, but for the most part, no matter who they are playing, they have played close games. This could be a Pittsburgh-Tampa type game, but I am not sold on Baltimore as a legitimate contender as of yet. If they come out and blow the Bucs out, I will do it. This game is somewhat comfortable too, though the game is one Ed Reed pick away from going TB points to Baltimore cover.
Tampa Bay 20, Baltimore 27
Philadelphia -3 vs Chicago
This one scares me. The Eagles have been playing really well lately and are due for a stinker, and Chicago is coming off a long week after beating the Miami Thigpens in Miami. Quietly, they also have the same record. The Eagles are clearly better, but the bears clearly have just about every other factor going for them. The classic question of on the field factors vs off the field factors could not be better represented than it is here.
I am picking the Eagles to cover, because I think the Bears suck, but I would not be at all surprised to see Chicago win this with some degree of comfort.
Philadelphia 24, Chicago 20
Atlanta -2 vs Green Bay
I would pick Atlanta at home against anyone. It will not necessarily be pretty, but it will be a win. Green Bay is better overall, and the hotter team, but Atlanta would beat anyone in the Georgia Dome.
Green Bay 24, Atlanta 28
Oakland -2.5 vs Miami
Oakland wins at home. That’s all you need to know. The injury situation in Miami would be a bigger deal if the Heat did not suck right now, but it is a huge deal in this game as the Raiders should be able to fine running room against a depleted Dolphins team. Give me the Raiders and the scant 2.5 points. Miami’s long week matters less with all those injuries not healing.
Miami 13, Oakland 27
Kansas City -2.5 vs Seattle
KC is good. Seattle sucks. Done and done. Seattle at home scares me a little, but KC can win by a field goal and still cover the spread, so I would have to be crazy to not take it, right?
Denver -3.5 vs St. Louis
Pick against the Rams on the road. Pick Denver at home. Again, somewhat easy pickins, though this one is at least far more evenly matched than the previous one.
Indianapolis -2.5 vs San Diego
Oh boy. Everything about me as a Colts fan fears this game, but from a neutral perspective, it is a Colts win. Peyton Manning is an absolute beast in general, but add in the night game, in prime time, and the Chargers do not even have a shot at winning. The Chargers are going to make this close, and may even scare the crap out of me on multiple occasions, but I am still taking the Colts to cover.
I would do more analysis but my stress levels from thinking about past Chargers games would hospitalize me.
San Diego 31, Indianapolis 34
San Francisco -1 vs Arizona
Can we get a resounding “WHO CARES” for this game? Is ESPN really trying to market this as two teams staying in the playoff hunt? I am taking the 49ers because I think they suck a little less than the Cardinals, but they definitely have the shops to lose this game. I literally would not watch this game if you paid me $10 and I love football, On the bright side, it is really the first bad Monday night game of the year.
Best of luck not making money on gambling to you all, and remember, if I contribute to your losses this week, I told you up front that my confidence level was 3 out of 10.