All 32 teams are in action, and just as I've done all season, I've picked every one against the spread.
Of the league’s 32 teams, 22 still have legitimate playoff hopes, with those teams either in the playoffs or within two games of clinching a postseason berth. With the NFL’s schedules back-loaded with divisional games and Indianapolis sucking an egg at 0-12, this December promises to entertain, and at least one of our two national matchups won’t suck.
I split the difference with last week’s picks, finishing 8-8 on the week. That puts me at 92-91-9 on the season. I almost wish I was worse at picking these games so that the Bet Against Josh system was profitable. I feel like we’re treading water here.
Let's do this. Home teams are in ALL CAPS.
The Steelers are 9-3 now, and after a shaky 2-2 start (yes, that counts as “shaky if you’re Pittsburgh), they’ve proven that they can hang on the field with anyone.
Except the Ravens.
Cleveland’s long, slow season death continues. Only twice all season have the Browns scored more than 17 points in a game (at Indianapolis in Week 2 and at Cincinnati in Week 12).
They’re just standing on the tracks now, as they prepare to play the Steelers twice in the span of four weeks. You’ll see that this is a pattern.
The Colts managed to beat that massive 21-point spread in Foxboro last weekend, thanks to an improbable fourth-quarter rally from...Dan Orlovsky?
The former Lion, probably best known for galloping out of the end zone in one of Detroit’s 16 losses in 2008, threw two touchdown passes in the final frame while completing (get this) 30 of 37 passes.
Orlovsky’s performance isn’t unimpressive, but the Patriots pass defense has been a sieve for most of the year. Baltimore currently ranks fifth among pass defenses in the league and first in making unpolished quarterbacks look stupid.
I expect a big game from Ray Rice against the NFL’s third-worst rushing defense and for the Ravens to close this out as they keep pace with the Steelers in the AFC North.
That said, 16 points is a lot to cover. Even at home.
You (yes, you) could have been playing quarterback for Houston, and they probably still would have won their last six games.
This team can run the ball on anybody (and with anybody not named Steve Slaton) and they’ve only allowed more than 14 points in three of their 11 games this season.
Couple that with the fact that the Bengals haven’t beaten anybody at home that still has a winning record, and this looks like a win for the Texans in a half-empty Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.
This game actually opened up at “Oakland plus-12,” but I think the 10-and-a-half is still good here.
Despite what the Raiders gave up for Carson Palmer, they are getting a good return on their trade—the silver and black have won three of their last four, and the former Heisman winner at Southern Cal has settled down since throwing six picks in his first two games back on the west coast.
This isn’t an easy out for the Packers, but I expect a close game.
Covering a nine-point spread is a lot to ask from Mark Sanchez, who has thrown at least one pick in five of his last six games.
Darrelle Revis has appeared especially human this year after being picked on by the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tony Romo.
Shonn Greene will have to carry the load if LaDanian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight can’t play, and he hasn’t proven that he can do that in big games.
If it sounds like we should be taking KC here, consider this—the only two winning teams that KC has beaten are Oakland (Carson Palmer’s first game of the year) and Chicago last week (with Jay Culter and Matt Forte both out).
Tyler Palko’s offense hasn’t scored more than 10 points in a game since stepping into action in Week 10. I think that’s enough for us to cross our fingers and lay the nine here.
Minnesota made a weird trip last year to Ford Field last December to play the Giants after the roof of the Metrodome collapsed under heavy snow.
This season, it’s the Vikings who have collapsed.
Is it really that stupid to suggest that the city should have just ripped the roof off altogether in 2010 and played on that field like it was an open-air stadium?
Yes? Okay then, just checking.
The Saints are perfectly average in rushing defense, 16th in the league overall.
But they’ve given up some big games to Steven Jackson (159 yards in the Rams’ only highlight win in Week 8) and Earnest Graham (109 yards in Week 6).
Both were road games for the Saints. Both were losses.
Could Chris Johnson be the recipient of such charity here? CJ2K has finally found his stride, having rushed for 486 yards in his last four games. That does include a 13-yard stinker of an outing against the Falcons, an outing from which the Titans seem to have recovered.
The Saints are not to be trusted on the road, even if they are facing Matt Hasselbeck.
That near-rally from the Colts has me spooked about this Patriots’ defense, but I’m not putting any faith into Rex Grossman.
The Falcons control their destiny with regard to the NFC wild card. Even though Carolina is only 4-8, they give everyone a good game and Cam Newton seems to be improving with every passing week. See what I did there? Passing? Oh, you’re just no fun at all, are you?
I’m just happy that this game isn’t on national television. Blaine Gabbert needs to get a haircut before he goes back out onto prime time TV. The Buccaneers are in the midst of an impressive six-game losing streak, but I’m taking Josh Freeman, the guy with the Jordan Brand contract, to outperform Gabbert.
Jim Harbaugh will not be icing his own kicker this weekend. Besides, it’s not as fun as when the Cowboys do it.
Denver and Football Jesus at home against a Bears team without Jay Cutler OR Matt Forte?
So it is written, and so it shall come to pass.
Both of these teams are 5-7, which is weird when you consider that the Bills had such a hot start and that the Chargers weren’t supposed to, you know, suck. The Bills haven’t won in a month, but I expect Norv Turner to out-Norv the Bills here. I’d really like to see that Bills franchise finish at .500 on the season. And then move to London, because crumpets!
The Giants haven’t won in their last four games, but managed to take the Packers down to the wire last weekend. Dallas hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record since Week 2, and last weekend Jason Garrett iced his own kicker. Whatever, I’ll take the points.
Unless Albert Pujols signs with the Rams before Monday [UPDATE: they didn't], there won’t be much to enjoy in this one. I’ll give Tarvaris Jackson for his 4 touchdown passes in his last three games while helping his team to a 3-1 record in their last four. Oddly enough, the only wins that the Rams have on the season are that upset against the Saints and a one-point squeaker at Cleveland.
The over-under for this game should be in the single digits and yet we're laying the points. Never gamble, kids.