To paraphrase Ice Cube, last week was a good week.
My picks went 9-5 in Week 9, and would have fared even better had Patrick Peterson and Joe Flacco not performed so heroically for the Cardinals and Ravens, respectively. That puts me at 64-61-7 on the season, or 51.2 percent, somewhere between respectability and profitability.
So check out this weirdness: None of the league’s 32 teams will enjoy byes this week, but Indianapolis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Houston have open dates next week, which I don’t get. I truly believe a gorilla with a crayon at the Bronx Zoo designed the schedule this year.
Enough chatter. Let’s pick some games. Home teams are displayed in ALL CAPS. Lines for this post were made available by the brilliant folks at Statfox.
So Carson Palmer had two weeks to get ready for the Broncos in Week 9, and he responded by going 19-for-35 with three touchdowns and three picks. This guy was totally worth two first-round draft picks!
Kidding aside, San Diego boasts the fourth-strongest pass D in the league. I flip-flopped on this one a bit because Palmer did light these guys up last season, but the former first-overall draft pick can’t be expected to return to form within a month. Laying an entire touchdown is a lot here, but taking the TD with a turnover-prone Palmer smells like the greater of two evils.
The Bengals are 7-1 against the spread; they’ve been getting it done with a balanced offense and a stingy rushing defense (they’re one of six units allowing less than 100 yards per game). They’ve won five straight games, four of which came against teams of middling repute, and a thrilling last-second win againt the Bills, who currently co-lead the AFC East.
Ben Roethlisberger is the X-factor here; of the seven games he has played in southwestern Ohio, his Steelers have won six. The Steelers haven’t lost back-to-back regular-season games in almost two years, and they’ll answer the bell against Cincinnati, a team that traditionally finds a way to lose when it counts.
Cincy is the hotter team, but the trends point toward the Steelers. Make your own picks accordingly.
Have you had your fill of Tim Tebow yet? Broncos head coach John Fox hasn’t. After a turnover-free performance from his polarizing quarterback last week against the Raiders, the Broncos brass seem content to leave Tebow under center, at least for now.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs were rolling through the middle of their schedule before soiling the proverbial bed at home against the Dolphins last week. Matt Cassel was sacked five times and couldn’t find the end zone. Both teams struggle against the pass, which makes a compelling argument for anyone looking to bet the over at 41 or 42. Expect the running of Denver’s Willis McGahee to be the difference here, and expect Tebow to take the lion’s share of the press in another Broncos win.
Curtis Painter looks like the Dutch Boy, and his last name is “Painter.” I seriously never connected those dots before right now. I feel like I’ve failed all of you.
Let’s (briefly) discuss Tony Romo for a second. He has thrown only one INT in his last three games, of which his team has gone 2-1. Granted, those wins came against St. Louis and Seattle, games which bookend a horrible effort against the Eagles.
So why are the Cowboys laying nearly a touchdown? Running back DeMarco Murray, who has 466 rushing yards in his last three games, is why. The Bills struggle in road games (1-2) and against the run (120 rushing yards allowed per game) despite having their own backfield monster in Fred Jackson. Expect a close, low-scoring game, one that will make you grateful for taking the points here.
Josh Freeman signed a deal with Michael Jordan’s shoe company earlier this week. Shoe deals with football and baseball players always fascinate me, since 14-year-old kids aren’t wearing cleats to school. And the fact that Jordan Brand chose Freeman, a struggling quarterback in a moderately-sized TV market, is equally curious. But good for him.
Too bad his team faces another loss this week from the eventual AFC South champs.
It's nice to see Cam Newton's team favored in a game. Between Newton, Javon Ringer and Chris Johnson of the Titans, it should be fun to see who racks up the most rushing yards. I like Ringer over Newton, but barely.
How does one choose between John Beck and Matt Moore? By NFL standards, they’re both awful. Neither quarterback was good enough to win the starting job for his team at the start of the season. Only Moore has been able to lead his team to a win, that in the Dolphins’ drubbing of Kansas City last weekend.
But the Redskins are stronger on defense. It’s weird that Washington and Philly are both tied in the NFC East basement at 3-5, when each team had sharply different expectations for their respective campaigns. Washington has the better team and they’re getting points. That’s good enough for me.
This is probably silly, and I have no statistical evidence to support this, but I think of every Saints game played in a dome—ANY dome—as a home game for Drew Brees. Outside of that freakish loss to the Rams in Week 8, the Saints’ only other two defeats came in road games against Green Bay and Tampa Bay, both of which were played outdoors.
Even though ATLANTA has played well at home this season, they fared poorly against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, a pass-first team designed similarly to the Saints. Taking New Orleans and the points here seems defensible almost entirely on principle.
Somebody said last week that Chicago doesn’t get the credit they deserve. That person was correct.
Sam Bradford returned to action last week in that overtime loss to Arizona, and he managed to play long enough to suffer a high ankle sprain. He’s still expecting to play against Cleveland, which should be another low-scoring affair akin to the Browns game with Seattle in Week 7. And if you had “akin” in Picks Column Bingo, please step forward to claim your prize.
Kevin Kolb returns to Philly to face his former team. This is almost a playoff game for the Eagles, who sqandered a chance to pull within two games of the NFC East lead with that loss agains the Bears on Monday night. The Eagles have played well against the bad teams in their front-loaded schedule. A win this weekend sets them up nicely for their following tilt with the Giants, who currently lead their division. If the Eagles don’t win here, forget it.
If the Seahawks were on the East Coast, I’m pretty sure Pete Carroll would be on the hot seat right about now. Questions about his team’s discipline are surfacing in local reports, and his bosses are surely watching Jim Harbaugh lead the NFC West with enormous envy. Tarvaris Jackson will be back under center for Carroll, but tracking the quarterback for the Seahawks seems pointless. Look for the Ravens to roll in Seattle.
The Niners are undefeated this season against the spread, and this is why. After this game, we can finally stop with the “Eli Manning is an elite quarterback” talk. Hey, you found your wide-open tight end on a fourth-quarter drive. Congratulations.
Rumors of Tom Brady’s death have been greatly exaggerated. The Patriots defense, on the other hand, is on life support with a feeding tube. The Pats already cut Albert Haynesworth, who (gasp!) wasn’t cutting it on the D-line.
Meanwhile, the Jets seem to have their groove back after winning their last three games.
I keep hearing about Rex Ryan’s cameo in some new Adam Sandler movie. Unless it’s Happy Gilmore 2, I don’t care. But Rex runs his mouth the same way a Patriots fan does, which is why the nation is slowly starting to turn on him.
I expect New England, who have lost back-to-back games for the first time in two years, to return fire against their division rival.
Don’t hate me, Aaron Rodgers. It’s just that the Vikings have had two weeks to get ready for you, and you barely beat these guys by a touchdown just three weeks ago. The Vikes have improved since benching Donovan McNabb for Christian Ponder. Aaron Rodgers loves to play angry, and I really struggled with this pick because of how he takes delight in embarassing teams.
That said, I’m expecting a close game here after watching the Packers secondary struggle against the Chargers last week. Well, closER, at least.