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A good week overall, but that 8-6-1 record was completely ruined by a 0-3-1 in the Best Bets. In the three resounding defeats, it was a classic case of underestimating the Vikings and Jaguars, while the Lions should have covered but shot themselves in the foot repeatedly.

Since I went over the lead story, the return of the real referees, yesterday in the process of detailing my incorrect pick. Let’s just get to, for entertainment purposes only, the picks. Home teams in caps.

Patriots (-4) at BILLS: If you think the Patriots are going to be just fine this season despite the 1-2 start it’s a pretty easy 4 points to give.

LIONS (-4) over Vikings: after the 49ers upset last week, “Hey, how ’bout that Christian Ponder?” was one of the weekend’s big stories. In other news, nobody seems too concerned about Matthew Stafford’s leg injury, a bit surprising considering his history. That said Shaun Hill can run the ship just fine if Stafford doesn’t play, 4th and 1 attempts to draw teams offside notwithstanding.

Falcons (-7) at PANTHERS: Cam Newton’s ability to a lightning rod knows no bounds. The defense gives up scores on their first four drives, and all we are talking about is Cam Newton’s leadership and losing record. Not saying those criticisms aren’t valid, but can we get some perspective here? The rest of this team sucks. If Ramses Barden can break out against this secondary, Julio Jones and Roddy White should be ready to embarrass them Sunday.

JETS (+4) at 49ers: Strictly a contrarian pick since it’s seems a 49ers cover, especially coming off a surprise loss to Minnesota, is so obvious. And that’s how Vegas gets rich. If the expected does happen, of course there will be the usual hype about the inevitability of Tebow Time. My thing is, Tebow Time’s already been here! In the less charismatic and appealing form of Mark Sanchez. Look at last week’s game. Sanchez stunk it up for the first 50 munutes or so, missed throws, rallied when it mattered, and got the missed field calls and bonehead moves from the Dolphins he needed to be gifted a win. If Tebow played the same game with the same stats, all we would be hearing about is miracles and moxie and determination and other hosannas about a garbage win in September over the Dolphins.

CHIEFS (+1) over Chargers: The Chargers may not be good. They’re definitely not good enough to be declared road favorites.

Titans (+12) over TEXANS: My long-documented apprehension about Gary Kubiak has not quite dissipated. Plus, the Texans have could fall asleep after taking a big lead.

Seahawks (-3) over RAMS: Seattle’s defense is no joke, people. It might be good enough to where all Russell Wilson has to do is make one or two big TD throws a game to lead Seattle to victory.

CARDINALS (-5) over Dolphins: the Cardinals defense should be enough here as unlike some other much-ballyhooed defenses, they will actually generate a pass rush and knock Ryan Tannehill down. Yes, Jets, I meant you.

Raiders (+7) at BRONCOS: yes, you should be concerned about Peyton Manning’s reduced arm talent. But right now you should really be concerned about Denver’s defense, which is not good right now.

Bengals (-1.5) over JAGUARS: the Jags haven’t been completely stinktastic, but the Bengals are resembling a solid team. It shouldn’t be a shocker considering they made the playoffs last year, but let’s face it. We have different expectations for the Bengals. And not in a good way.

Saints (+7.5) at PACKERS: Another contrarian pick here, mostly because the Saints smack of a little more desperation to me. Not enough to win outright, but enough desperation.

BUCCANEERS (-2.5) over Redskins: if Josh Freeman can’t light up this now-sorry Redskins defense, then it really is time to worry. And it’s nice that Greg Schiano is sticking by his guns on the victory formation thing, but isn’t he tired of lining up against victory formations?

EAGLES (-2) over Giants: Last Thursday’s impressive display totally sets them up to disappoint Sunday. Because that’s how the Giants roll.

Bears (+3.5) over COWBOYS: I think the writing off of the Bears as contenders is a bit soon. And while the Dallas defense is living up to the hype, the offense has been underwhelming. Also underwhelming, of course, will be Jay Cutler’s demeanor and body language.

Best Bets: Patriots, Cardinals, Bengals

Season: 28-20-1, 5-5-1 Best Bets


I actually am not doing this to show off my NFL prognostication skills, I’m doing this to get back into the habit of writing regularly. After all, these things are scheduled once a week every week. When you’ve hit a rut like I have, it’s actually quite a foolproof way to get back into the habit of writing. Whether or not anyone reads this is another matter entirely. As long as I can get back into the habit of typing in long-form format, this will have succeeded wildly.

As far as the authorities know.

Some of you might remember that I have the misfortune of being a fan of the New York Jets. This was probably caused by the fact that when I was a young lad, the bedroom TV my parents gave us only had a couple of channels that worked. One of them was Channel 4, WNBC. Now, some of our younger readers may not believe this, but NBC was once a mighty network with many popular television shows. It was also home of the AFC, before NBC, amongst many mistakes, decided that football was too expensive to pay for, only to discover the network in the toilet without it and eventually overpay to bring it back (despite the fact that CBS had learned this painful lesson only a few years earlier.) This is why Roger Goodell and his cohorts are currently not afraid of any potential replacement-refs catastrophes.

Anyway, the Jets were NBC, the channel that worked on my bedroom TV, and that was that. I feel like I’ve given some pretty solid reasons for a bad decision. In any case, you are right, reader, they are grossly over-covered, so I’m not going to continue talking about them. As a matter of fact, not paying attention to them as they commence their sure-to-be 6-10 disaster is another pretty good reason the internet needs yet another NFL picks column. And by the internet, I mean me.

All home teams are in caps. I am using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick’Em spread game, because let’s face it, we all know who really runs things when it comes to football. Oh, wait, this isn’t a college football post.

Home teams in cap, and as always, this is strictly for entertainment purposes. I need it.

GIANTS (-4) over Cowboys: Because we keep it real around here, I just have to take my loss like a man. I’ll still take Eli Manning over Tony Romo in a huge spot. Now maybe last night was a sign that Tony is ready to take the next step and become not just an excellent stats quarterback, but a guy you can trust can to come up big when it matters most. With Eli, it’s not always pretty, but the guy finds a way to get it done. And he probably would have last night had Romo not made that great throw on third down to run out the clock.

Colts (+10.5) over BEARS: The Bears will win this game, but in today’s pass-happy NFL, how can you not expect Andrew Luck to come out with a huge game that’ll have less-restrained media types talking Canton? I remember hanging at the bar last year for Week 1, and going, “So why was it such a bad idea to take Cam Newton again?”

Eagles (-8.5) over BROWNS: I am definitely in the “Michael Vick can’t stay healthy and therefore the Eagles are going nowhere” camp. That will be temporarily forgotten in this beatdown of the still-hapless Browns.

Rams (+8.5) over LIONS: Ah, let the media redemption of Brian Schottenheimer and Jeff Fisher begin.

Patriots (-6.5) over TITANS: Almost by default, the Patriots are the favorites to win the AFC, owing to a friendly schedule and the widespread belief that Bill Belichick has finally built a respectable defense through shrewd drafting. I generally tend to believe that as well. It’s not like last year, where they were bringing in the likes of Albert Haynesworth and Chad Johnsoncinco and fawning media types were all like, “Bill Belichick must know something” in the absence of genuine analysis. (Oh yeah, don’t think I’m above using straw men in lieu of links to examples of this. I have a full-time other job, you know.)

Falcons (-0.5) over CHIEFS: I am not among those who thought that Romeo Crennel did a bad job in Cleveland. It was Cleveland. He won 10 games with Derek Anderson. It was Cleveland. Where he won 10 GAMES. Who else has won 10 games with the Browns? Pat Shurmur and Eric Mangini haven’t, that’s for sure. I am not saying Romeo shouldn’t have been canned, I’m just saying I don’t think he’s going to be the problem with the Chiefs. That would be Matt Cassel, I’m afraid.

VIKINGS (-4.5) over Jaguars: You know what group of I don’t think is held accountable enough? People who said Cam Newton had too many questions, and therefore, Blaine Gabbert was the way to go. (I know what you’re saying, another straw man, wellwhiskey? Not this time, my friend!) That said, it’ll be interesting to see if Gabbert improves from his first to second year.

SAINTS (-9.5) over Redskins: A pissed-off Saints team with something to prove is not going to welcome in Robert Griffin III with open arms.

JETS (-3.5) over Bills: Only picking this because the public seems to be on the Bills’ bandwagon and everybody and their mom seem to think the Jets are headed for a disaster of a season starting with this game. While I don’t think they’re as bad as they’ve shown, they’re certainly not good. Angry Fan Proclamation Time: If Tebow becomes the starter, they are going 6-10, and the next two seasons will be a disaster. However, if Mark Sanchez has the stones to stare down Tebowmania, his coach who’s all bravado on defense but all scared pussycat on offense, Santonio Holmes, and the right side of his offensive line and starts all 16 games, they’ll be an 11-5 or 12-4 team, because their defense is excellent. I don’t think Sanchez has it in him, I’m afraid, so I am leaning towards disaster. As for the Bills, I still think they’ll have a pretty good season; I’m just going against the public here.

TEXANS (-7.5) over Dolphins: Can Matt Schaub also make the leap from statistically excellent QB to champion? Some people think so, as the Texans, based on their TJ Yates-led playoff run, are a popular Super Bowl pick. I am not one of them. Not because of Schaub, though. I’ll be damned if I trust Gary Kubiak, I’m sorry. As for Ryan Tannehill, for his sake, I hope the Dolphins don’t try too hard to protect him. I think QB’s develop better when they are allowed to fling the ball around the yard and get 25-interception seasons out of their systems, as compared to the “game manager” who slowly develops, only to be unable to step it up when he has to actually fling the ball around the yard (Joe Flacco may finally be there, Mark Sanchez, not so much.) Just a theory of mine.

PACKERS (-6.5) over 49ers: Speaking of game managers, how come there isn’t more buzz about Colin Kaepernick taking Alex Smith’s job? Unlike the more-hyped East Cost version of this (disappointing high draft pick pocket QB is challenged by intriguing athletic QB), this has not been mentioned at all. Is Kaepernick not developing as they’d hoped? Because I am not buying the alternative, that Alex Smith has this thing on lockdown. In other news, Aaron Rodgers now has a Super Bowl ring and no longer harbors any resentment towards the 49ers for passing him over to take Smith in the 2005 draft. Right.

Seahawks (+1.5) over CARDINALS: Russell Wilson clearly cannot be stopped. Well, this week, when he’s going to get a ton of help from John Skelton.

BUCCANEERS (-2.5) over Panthers: I can’t trust a team that inexplicably keeps giving scads of money to running backs, It’s like GM Marty Hurney and Rex Ryan haven’t gotten the memo that it’s 2012.

BRONCOS (-1.5) over Steelers: Old defense + poor offensive line play. This formula is only being accepted because they are the Pittsburgh Steelers. I would be worried. Not four-neck-surgeries worried, or anything. (I kid! Peyton will be fine. He wouldn’t be back out there if he was in serious danger. I think.)

Bengals (+6.5) over RAVENS: Marvin Lewis attempts to have two good years in a row. I think he might have them. I don’t get analysts who like to get on his case. It’s the Bengals, who are still light-years behind the rest of the league when it comes to scouting and facilities. Considering that Lewis has been bringing a machete to a gunfight the last nine years, that he’s inflicted a few wounds here or there is pretty decent. As for the Ravens, they should have been in the Super Bowl, but Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff came up a bit short at the worst possible time. They also have the old defense problem, and Cam Cameron is still running the offense. But as long as Ray Lewis is doing that absurd introduction dance, you gotta think they have a chance.

RAIDERS (-1.5) over Chargers: I don’t know what to expect from Oakland, they might be two-wins bad or seven-wins bad, but I do know this: Norv Turner is sure to give America a reminder that, somehow, Norv Turner is still the coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Best Bets: Patriots, Texans, Saints, Seahawks