Do you know what it's like to look in the mirror and see Matt Schaub looking back at you?
I do. It's painful.
I showed some flashes early in my career, making a few picks with buddies in college. Then I started picking the big games each week and was bringing home winners more often than not.
Basically, I was an above-average starter who wouldn't lose you the game. I was a game manager but could single-handedly win a few games, too (Schaub circa 2009).
Now, I'm struggling to maintain my composure. While Tom Brady was crushing my over-.500 early-game record (5-4), Carson Palmer was throwing my last shred of sanity.
So it's come to this. I'm pining for mediocrity and making my NFL Week 7 picks against the spread while "tubthumping" blares in the background.
Last Week's Record: 6-9
Season Record: 36-53-3
All lines provided by footballlocks.com. All rankings and advanced metrics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus and require a subscription.
My first reaction included the Seattle Seahawks performing some sort of vile act at the expense of the Arizona Cardinals. I was thinking double digits or bust.
But I'm going the opposite of my first thought (H/T George Constanza). And it feels good.
The Seattle Seahawks haven't played well on the road this season. They struggled to move the ball, only scoring 25 offensive points in their two road wins.
Adding to that toxic mix will be the the talented Arizona Cardinals defense. The Cards front seven will give the overmatched Seahawks offensive fits making the secondary's job easier, where Arizona again has the advantage.
Granted, the Cards won't be scoring much. But both teams are only getting a few days rest after a physical contest, meaning this game has defensive slugfest written all over it.
Lastly, the Seahawks won't find a hospitable atmosphere when they arrive in the valley. The Cards play well at home, and the crowd will give them just enough energy to lose in a respectable manner.
Oh, and if Bruce Arians wouldn't mind taking the ball out of quarterback Carson Palmer's hands and giving it to running back Andre Ellington (eight yards a carry last week), I'd appreciate it. Thanks.
Last year, the New England Patriots won their first matchup with the New York Jets by three, then rolled them by 30 a month later.
In 2011, the Pats took the first game by nine points, only to turn around and smack the Jets by 21 five weeks later.
I'm not going against that mojo.
Not when Tom Brady is finding undrafted free agents in the end zone with five seconds left to knock off an unbeaten juggernaut.
Not when everyone is questioning tight end Rob Gronkowski's love for football.
Not when head coach Bill Belichick has plenty of tape on rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
Not when—well, you get the idea.
How do you reverse a gambling rut? By completely bucking the obvious and throwing caution into the wind.
That's right. I'm taking the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The San Diego Chargers are coming into town after a big win over the Colts. Therefore, we have trap game potential.
Then there's the 1 o'clock start time for a West Coast team. That's never fun for the visiting franchise.
And there are those 7.5 points, which could be just a half-point too much. And if you've been following along over the past two years, you know I love half-points.
This line seems like a gift. Honestly, it's so enticing that I'm worried about a too-good-to-be-true scenario that ends with trying to convince my girlfriend that fast food is a classy evening out.
But I still can't go against my first instinct here because my second, third and fourth thoughts all confirm it.
This is a great line to make some money on.
We're talking about a Houston Texans team that was manhandled by the St. Louis Rams last week. At home.
Now, the Texans hit the road with T.J. Yates at quarterback against a defense that racked up 10 sacks against the Raiders. And Yates isn't nearly as mobile as Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the victim of all those hits.
That's not a good sign for the Titans.
Plus, Arrowhead Stadium provides a legitimate home-field advantage.
Doesn't it seem like there's no way the Texans can cover? Am I nuts?
Two of the most schizophrenic teams in the league face off, and you expect me to just blurt out a winner? Fair enough, but I need to get in a lame joke or two first. It's what I do.
But first, let's address that schizophrenia.
The Cincinnati Bengals physically pounded the New England Patriots and held Brady's boys to six points. The following week, the Bengals allowed Thad Lewis to lead a game-tying touchdown drive in the last two minutes.
And the Detroit Lions? They look like a different team depending on what half it is.
However, the difference between these two teams is the Lions' offensive switch. When they flip it, they can pour points on any defense, as they did with 24 straight in the second half against the Browns.
Plus, the Lions love playing at Ford Field. The fans will be rocking hard for their first-place ball club, giving Detroit too many advantages to ignore.
"So on one slide, you make fun of the Bengals for not stopping practice-squad quarterback Thad Lewis, and now you're picking him?"
The Buffalo Bills have been in every game they've played. Despite a defense that doesn't really stop the pass or the run, they pound the rock and keep the score close.
Even their 13-point loss to the Browns was a three-point contest with three minutes to go. And there isn't any definitive proof that the Browns and the Miami Dolphins are on the same tier of competitiveness.
In a world where the Jacksonville Jaguars can cover the spread against Peyton Manning, why can't Thad Lewis lead me to victory in Miami?
The Chicago Bears defense is not good. They haven't held one opponent to fewer than 20 points and even gave up 30 to the Minnesota Vikings.
And I still won't take the Washington Redskins.
Quarterback Jay Cutler leads a balanced offense that has too many interchangeable weapons now that Alshon Jeffery is killing it. That's a problem for a defense that would have trouble tackling kicker Robbie Gould, much less running back Matt Forte.
Seriously. The Redskins have missed 60 tackles in just five games. For perspective, the Jaguars have "only" missed 55, and they played one more game.
Yup, there's no way I'm taking Washington.
As a rule, fans are generally deluded about their team. They can't help it. That's why they're fans.
But do Philadelphia Eagles fans actually think their team is good? It's obvious they aren't, right?
Just in case some fans out there think the .500 record means something, allow me to assure you it doesn't. Those three wins came against Washington, Tampa Bay and New York. They're the teams that the Cleveland Browns' "factory of sadness" outsourced its misery to.
My point is that those teams have one win among them.
The Dallas Cowboys aren't great, but they're better than the Eagles. Don't overthink this one.
Could the Carolina Panthers actually be decent?
Their defense ranks in the top 10 against both the run and the pass. They also run the ball well behind quarterback Cam Newton and the somewhat resurgent DeAngelo Williams.
So long as Newton isn't throwing bonehead picks, they can be good. But Newton does throw bonehead picks.
Despite Newton's mind-numbing mistakes, I still can't take the St. Louis Rams getting six points against the possibly OK Panthers. The Rams have gotten torched by the only two respectable teams they faced.
And, at the very least, the Panthers are respectable. That defense demands it.
The Green Bay Packers have blown the doors off of one team this season, and they're not playing the Washington Redskins this week.
No. They have the Cleveland Browns, who aren't in the habit of allowing a lot of points.
Unfortunately for Green Bay, that means cornerback Joe Haden will be on Nelson all game. And that means Nelson will have little room to operate with and a tough time bringing passes in cleanly.
Can an offense exist solely on back-shoulder throws? Seriously, I'm asking. Because there will be little else left for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers may win, but they won't be running away with it.
I'm back, baby!
A week after ditching the Tennessee Titans for the 12th Man, I've come back with dunce cap in hand and a hole in my sole. No, I mean sole. When you suffered as many heartbreaking defeats as I have this season, you tend to kick things.
While I have done the Titans wrong, there is somebody in the league office who has taken his hatred for the Titans too far. Pitting them against the physical San Francisco 49ers a week after playing the pounding Seattle Seahawks when they're not even in the NFC West is sinister.
But giving them 4.5 points at home more than makes up for the NFL's bias.
After watching my shirked man crush keep it close in Seattle, Tennessee should be able to hold its own at home against a depleted 49ers team. This game has the smell of field goals and defense. Grab those points.
This isn't a vote of confidence for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's an indictment of a season gone awry for the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons can't run the ball, lost their best player for the season and may be turning on their coach. Do you want to lay more than a touchdown with that team?
And it is a little bit about the Bucs, too.
Aside from Philly's 31-point outburst this past week, Tampa Bay has played decent defense. They hate their coach, but that hasn't stopped them from holding most opponents down.
Additionally, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon's confidence and comfort level should benefit from playing decently. He realized what he has in tall wideout Vincent Jackson last week. Here's hoping he can remember that lesson moving forward.
Did the Pittsburgh Steelers sign an entire offensive line and nobody told me? That's the only explanation I'll consider for this line.
Pittsburgh's win over the New York Jets was only a reminder that the Jets are mediocre. It didn't put the Steelers back in the race for the AFC North. It just took them out of the 0-16 race.
On the other hand, the Baltimore Ravens are a maddening team hell bent on personifying parity. But they haven't completely given up on winning this season, as the trade for tackle Eugene Monroe proved.
And that mentality is certainly worth more than one point.
A classic gambling mistake is to overreact to each game and let the outcome affect your next pick. So I'm going against my instinct here and grabbing those six points.
The Indianapolis Colts laid an egg on Monday night. Indianapolis' receivers dropped passes routinely and the rushing attack looked inept.
But you have to look past that horrific outing and remember that the Colts are built around Andrew Luck. This team will soak in his quiet intensity this week, and Indy will be fully prepared when the Denver Broncos arrive in town.
There is the revenge factor for Peyton Manning. Regardless of what he says, any human would love validation from the ex-girlfriend that dumped you. It's only natural.
However, there's too much on the line here for Luck and the Colts. They have the weapons on offense to strike where the Broncos are vulnerable—through the air. This one has back-and-forth shootout written all over it so those points will come up huge.
Are you ready for some football? Err, well, a football will be used but I'm not sure that we should classify this particular exhibition as "football."
In all seriousness, this game will get the New York Giants off the mat, because they certainly can't go 0-16. Okay, maybe they could, but the odds aren't in favor of it.
The biggest hope for the Giants is their run defense. It's true.
When you look past the 123 yards per game they allow, which ranks 26th in the league, you'll notice that New York allows only 3.9 yards per carry. That's a middle-of-the-road average. And that's with the defense getting worn out from facing the most rushing attempts in the league.
Conversely, the Minnesota Vikings are terrible against the pass. For all of New York's troubles running the ball, they still crank out 272 yards through the air each week and have receivers who can make plays.
Holy crap. I just took the Giants.
I need a drink.