The NFL is cruel. Just when you think you have it all figured out, the league changes the rules and you're out on the streets.
No, I'm not talking about the short lifespan of playing careers. I'm talking about my NFL picks against the spread.
I was flying high last week. I had picked so well that I didn't lose a single early Sunday game.
And then Week 10 happened. Let's just say I'm not enthusiastic.
However, the show must go on. Click through for this week's picks.
Last Week's Record: 4-10
Season Record: 65-78-2
All lines provided by bovada.lv, sportsbook.ag and espn.go.com.
A mediocre team that is getting three points on the road, or a bad team giving three at home?
Not particularly enticing options.
However, the Miami Dolphins are a better overall team, and last week was an aberration in an otherwise surprisingly pleasant season for South Beach fans.
Ryan Tannehill had his first bad game in almost two months. He'll be fine.
Plus, he's going against the Buffalo Bills, a.k.a. the worst scoring defense in the league. The Bills give up 31.7 points per game and boast the 32nd-best rushing defense in the league.
I'll take my chances with the points.
The quarterback matchup that we've been clamoring for since last April's draft!
Just kidding. If you really think Nick Foles is anywhere near Robert Griffin III's level, well, I can't help you.
With Michael Vick likely out, the offense will have to lean on LeSean McCoy to get anything done. While the Washington Redskins start defensive backs that Alabama would redshirt, they are capable of stopping the run (96.2 yards allowed per game).
Griffin should have plenty of fun against a defense that excels at nothing and hasn't really stopped anyone in over a month. Although, he might not get a chance as Alfred Morris could dominate the game himself.
I almost took the points, but did you see how inept the Detroit Lions can be? Last week was brutal.
A pick against the Green Bay Packers would have been predicated on injuries.
The loss of Clay Matthews downgrades the defense from occasionally troublesome to let's-hope-they-fumble. And the loss of Bryan Bulaga significantly weakens the offensive line.
But the most relevant injury looks to be a thing of the past. Reports indicate that Jordy Nelson is looking good in practice and will likely return this week.
The effect of losing Matthews on defense is outweighed by the return of Nelson on offense. He's that good.
This shootout will likely end late, and you have to like Aaron Rodgers in any quarterback duel.
Ten points is about three too many.
The Atlanta Falcons are still a great team, and they'll most likely beat the Arizona Cardinals. However, winning the Battle of the Birds by double digits seems a little too much.
Defense is what will keep this game close. The Arizona Cardinals have one, the Falcons somewhat do.
Arizona's biggest weakness is the offensive line, which is a deficiency that Atlanta is not well suited to exploit. We're talking about a team that released a highly paid defensive end to try to spark the rest of the players into performing.
I'm not buying it.
I'm going to continue to take the bait. In this ridiculous NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have become the only thing I can rely on every week.
The Bucs continue to roll up enough points to not only win, but to win by enough to cover the spread. Such audacity needs to be celebrated.
Conversely, the Carolina Panthers have erased any thoughts I had about them becoming an interesting team. It's over.
Cam Newton continues to throw balls "away" when being sacked, only to watch someone in a different jersey return the ball to the end zone.
Maybe it's just good strategy. By throwing a pick-six, Newton gets a new set of downs with which to work.
I don't like this game. At all.
Too many possibilities and probabilities.
Tony Romo could tear apart the Cleveland Browns defense or throw four interceptions.
Trent Richardson could rush for 120 yards or 20.
Sounds like a grab-the-points type of game. And the Dallas Cowboys are giving eight of them. The Cowboys shouldn't give that many points to anybody.
The New York Jets are more than a half-point worse than the St. Louis Rams. We can all agree on that, right?
Apparently not Vegas. Take away the three-point home-field advantage, and that's what you're left with.
Perhaps the casinos expect New Yorkers to rally around the Jets with their money. That seems awfully ambitious.
What we do know is the Jets have spent the last two weeks receiving spankings from the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks, while the Rams tied the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick this past Sunday.
You can have the points.
The Cincinnati Bengals are not a good team. Neither are the Kansas City Chiefs.
I don't care who either team beat (or almost beat) last week. That doesn't change the facts.
But the Bengals are at least passable at times. The Chiefs, while they hung with the Pittsburgh Steelers, are due for a huge letdown after losing such a tight game.
That gets us to the three points. Now, we just need to figure out why to lay the other half-point.
A.J. Green's 2012 season: 58 receptions, 820 yards, nine touchdowns.
Good enough for me.
I'm going to keep the reasoning pretty short here. There is just no way I can actually lay 15.5 points.
At no point during the game would you get to relax. I can't stomach watching the lead fluctuate between 14 and 21 points.
I just can't.
The Houston Texans are not losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, I'm not willing to say that with 15.5 points worth of certainty.
Plus, Cecil Shorts is pretty good. So there's that.
Too much going against the New Orleans Saints to take them in a blowout.
This game occurs in between taking down the undefeated Atlanta Falcons and battling with the San Francisco 49ers.
That's the definition of a trap game.
The Oakland Raiders have been absolutely destroyed for two straight weeks on defense. These types of trends are difficult to continue, no matter how hard Oakland's defense tries to do so.
Lastly, the Saints defense isn't nearly as improved as it seemed last week. The unit still gave up 411 passing yards to Matt Ryan.
Yet another points grab.
This seems a little too easy, doesn't it?
The young, rising team that's coming together is getting nine points against the old guys who refuse to blow anybody out at home?
Makes me nervous.
Yet I can't go against Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne facing a terrible pass defense. Even if the New England Patriots come out hot against the worse-than-most Indianapolis Colts defense, the possibility of a garbage-time coverage is too large to ignore.
Yup. Too many points again.
Part of this pick is a gut call. Another part is I have to lay the points somewhere.
And the last part is that Peyton Manning is not going to let the Denver Broncos rest now.
Remember his Indianapolis Colts teams? Do you remember them throwing up many stinkers when the team was actually good?
He keeps the pressure on by being focused all the time. Others don't have a choice but to follow his lead.
Plus, the San Diego Chargers can't be trusted against a defense that has found itself. Actually, they can't be trusted against any defense.
I'm scared, okay? I wasn't kidding when I said I'm having a crisis of confidence.
I don't have the cojones to take the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not when the lifeblood of their offense has bones so precariously positioned as to threaten his own life.
The Steelers defense will make things difficult on Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens, but it's hard to see how Pittsburgh is going to score.
And without points, how will they keep Baltimore from covering the spread?
The Chicago Bears need this game. They might have to play Jason Campbell, but the defense has won games on its own before. Why not now?
It's scary to pick against the San Francisco 49ers though. They seem likely to have their own starting quarterback, so that's a plus for them.
And I've done some reading. The quarterback position is somewhat important in the game of American football.
However, this game should be close no matter who is under center for either team. I'm taking the points.
And that's brave and scary all at the same time. Maybe I still have some confidence!
I really shouldn't have said that.
Here's hoping when we see each other next week, I'm suffering from overconfidence.