I'm the type of person who can't enjoy anything. You tell me I got 19 out of 20 correct on a test, I'll kick myself for missing that last one.
That's why, when looking at my NFL picks against the spread from last week, I can't enjoy the tight one-point "victory" from the Broncos. No, I have to lament the half-point loss in Chicago or berate the Giants for their "class" instead of of kicking that sweet push-giving field goal.
But I'm working hard to treasure the positives and ignore the negatives. So instead of worrying about the rough, unpredictable season to date, I'm looking at the next seven weeks as a golden opportunity to end this year on a high note.
So welcome to my zen Week 11 picks against the spread. Because serenity now.
Last Week's Record: 7-7
Season Record: 59-85-3
All player rankings and individual stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus and require a subscription. All team stats were provided by ESPN. All lines were sourced from FootballLocks.com.
Was last week's trouncing a one-game blip or a midseason swoon?
Actually, don't answer that. It doesn't matter because the Tennessee Titans will be trotting out Ryan Fitzpatrick.
This is a situation where a good-but-not-quite-great team gets a break and plays a team that is clearly drowning. And that's the only possible description of the state of your team when you lose at home to the Jags.
In all seriousness, the Indianapolis Colts have gotten themselves into the dirty habit of falling behind early and expecting Andrew Luck to get it done. Luckily for them, the Titans can't put up points quickly. It's not in the team's DNA.
Pick: Colts -3
A lot of times, when reviewing the lines, I text a buddy the spreads I'm having trouble with. His final pick on Sunday doesn't always jive with his first reaction, but it helps sort things out considering the short turnaround time for my picks.
So this week, I texted: "atl at Tb pick em."
In the quickest response we've had to date, he replied: "Can't back atl at all."
He's right. How could anyone take this Falcons team on the road?
But we're still talking about the Bucs, who hate their coach and possibly winning.
Tampa Bay has at least been competitive as of late. The Falcons haven't shown up for a game in a month.
Pick: Bucs PK
I told you last week that EJ Manuel wasn't that good yet. He's still a rookie on a talent-deficient roster. It wasn't a hard call.
But you remember those late-game heroics against Carolina and assume he's good because no one outside of Western New York watches the Buffalo Bills.
Plus, the Jets have a feisty defensive front that made life hell for Drew Brees and Tom Brady. That alone has me leaning toward the New York Jets.
There is that whole the-Jets-have-alternated-wins-and-losses-every-week thing. But is that consistent inconsistency a win-loss thing or an odd week-vs.-even week thing?
I'm just going to side with the meanest defense against a terrible offense.
That didn't clear it up either, did it?
Fine. I'll take the points and an aspirin.
Pick: Jets +1.5
The opening line of only four points seemed a little odd, which is probably why it shot up to 6.5 with the quickness. However, that's one of the advantages of picking the games on Monday.
Make that the only advantage.
But even at 6.5 points, the New York Giants are still the play.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien only posted a 70.5 passer rating against an extremely poor Eagles defense. Why should we think he's going to fare much better on the road?
Throw in the Giants' love for stuffing the run and Andre Brown's return, and this has the makings of a blow out.
Pick: Giants -4
Call it a homer pick.
Tell me I'm drunk on Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid and this isn't the first time you've had to talk to me about it.
Just don't tell me this Steelers team is within a field goal of the Detroit Lions.
These Lions have a winning road record. All of their losses look reasonable. And they've seen the effects of letting a win or two go to your head. That's how they ended up with the fifth overall pick last year.
In addition to maturity, Detroit has shown a great deal more discipline on the field. The defense hasn't been giving up long runs and dropped to seventh from 14th against the rush after limiting Matt Forte to 33 yards on 17 carries. That's the result of guys sticking to their assignments and not getting sucked in, which is also known as playing with discipline.
Sure, the Steelers can throw the ball, but the Lions won't find much resistance from the Pittsburgh offensive line.
Pick: Lions -2.5
I watched the Washington Redskins' last game. I'm still not sure how they lost. In fact, I'm not convinced they did.
Yet the Minnesota Vikings ended the game with more points. That's a scary thought.
But there's way too much hype surrounding Nick Foles' 16-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. And not enough is made of the horrendous Philly passing defense.
Besides, it's my only real chance to grab a half-point and hold on tight.
Pick: Washington +3.5
A rampaging virus or something has been having its way with me the past few days, leaving little strength to make it through another atrocious Monday night game. But I saw enough to know the Miami Dolphins are probably done.
I didn't realize this bullying scandal was going to keep building steam the way it has. There's talk now of "cleaning house," according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, if the NFL's investigation uncovers certain dirt, and Shannon Sharpe is laying into the Dolphins locker room.
This team doesn't need games to escape the pressure. They need the offseason.
I had given up on the Chargers because they have no killer instinct, and at some point, just being a few plays away from a good record no longer cuts it. But that's how bad things are in Miami right now.
Pick: Chargers -1
The Baltimore Ravens were only too happy to choke away a win last week. But the Bengals bested them at their own game.
So in a way, they can't even lose properly.
To be fair, the Ravens defense has played extremely well. Since the Broncos game, the Ravens have only given up 20 or more points twice in six games. They've even held opponents to single digits twice.
But trusting an offense that absolutely cannot run the ball in the Windy City? That seems like a special type of dumb.
And we've seen all we need from Josh McCown. The backup quarterback won't do something stupid and has two huge targets who are cranking out 100-yard games regularly.
Pick: Bears -3
What happened? Did the Cleveland Browns bring Trent Richardson back?
Because I cannot figure out how the reeling Cincinnati Bengals are giving 5.5 points, even if they are at home.
It seems like I have to say this every week, but the Browns can play defense. And both teams will lean hard on the running game in an effort to control the matchup.
That means this divisional game is going to be close.
And have you seen what Andy Dalton has been doing? Who knew the injuries to Geno Atkins and Leon Hall would affect him so heavily?
Yes, I snuck in a little snark. It's not my fault they've broken my heart by losing in overtime twice in two weeks. Not my fault at all. Luckily, I don't hold grudges.
Picks: Browns +5.5
Isn't this perfect? The Houston Texans are laying seven points.
Coincidentally, they've lost seven games.
In a row.
The Nick Foles-ation of the Oakland Raiders was one of those weird moments that happens when someone forces a joke too far. It's awkward for a couple minutes and then is forgotten quickly.
The Raiders defense has enough to keep a Case Keenum-led offense without Arian Foster reigned in while the offense runs wild on Houston's mediocre run defense. I'll take the points.
Pick: Raiders +7
I've treated Jacksonville Jaguars games like Bills games. I suffered through the updates so I could see how my fantasy players were doing. And my players were always the opponents, never Jags.
I've neglected Jacksonville so much that I had forgotten they had Maurice Jones-Drew. Turns out, he's still pretty good.
But he's not the reason I'm going against the Arizona Cardinals here. That honor belongs to Carson Palmer.
Palmer, on the road, in an early game for a West Coast team, is not worth giving up 6.5 points.
You just can't make me do it.
Pick: Jaguars +6.5
I checked this one multiple times. It was eight points all day.
Then I got nervous. If this line is so big, there has to be something I'm missing.
I know the Denver Broncos are an offensive juggernaut, but their MVP quarterback is playing on a bum ankle against a defense that hates the passer.
Seriously. They have two guys (Tamba Hali and Justin Houston) who have amassed double-dight sacks.
It's possible that the Broncos could make an example out of the Kansas City Chiefs. We just witnessed the Rams dropping the Colts by 30 on the road. Flying pigs and a Tim Tebow aerial assault are all in play right now.
But the Chiefs are undefeated because they know a few things about football. And now, Andy Reid gets to play the disrespect card in the locker room.
That's a lot of points, and I just made a few good ones. Don't pay the Peyton premium.
Picks: Chiefs +8
I wanted to believe in the Minnesota Vikings. Not because I'm a fan (remember the Lions homerism?), but because of the 13.5 points.
I thought about Adrian Peterson against a defense that struggled against Zac Stacy. Surely Peterson is worth taking that mountain of cover.
Then I thought about Percy Harvin. He seems like the vindictive type. He was just activated off the PUP list.
Harvin is joining an offense that re-established its swagger last week when it hung 33 on the similarly lost Falcons. That's not good news for the Vikings.
It looks like Pete Carroll got the wake-up call his team needed from Tampa. That's not good news for anybody.
Pick: Seahawks -13.5
It seems like the perfect time to take the San Francisco 49ers against the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints are coming off of a steam-rolling win and are getting showered with accolades.
The 49ers are coming off of a tough loss to a rising star and are getting thrown under the bus.
But I can't go against the Saints again at home. I've learned my lesson there. I am concerned about the Saints trying to slow Frank Gore, but Brees can cut through anything in the Superdome.
Forget everything you read in the last slide. It doesn't apply here. And the logic is simple.
I've seen the Saints succeed and handle everything that comes with that success. I can't say the same for the Carolina Panthers.
Sure, they're technically getting a half-point, because home teams usually get three. But that's not the same as getting almost a touchdown against the 49ers.
The Panthers have been accepted as a contender by the public. Now, let's see what they do with it.
Throw in a bye week for Bill Belichick and I'm going to need Carolina to prove that it's great instead of just good.
Pick: Patriots +2.5