When I look back at my picks at the end of each week, I have no idea why I picked the way I did on multiple games. It’s a tradition like no other. No matter how much I try to simplify things, I’m still left questioning myself each week.
I shouldn’t have picked the 49ers to cover 10 on a short week on the road.
I should have listened to myself and my lack of trust for Kirk Cousins even if the Vikings were facing a backup quarterback.
I should have known the Jets would lose to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the winless Dolphins.
I should have recognized the Browns facing a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start wouldn’t suddenly make them not the Browns.
I should have followed my belief that the Chargers aren’t as bad their record and are the same team that went to the divisional round last year, especially at home.
I should have followed the easy storyline that the Patriots always struggle against the Ravens.
These were very avoidable mistakes, but they were mistakes nonetheless, and instead of starting to dig myself out of my under-.500 hole I dug further in the wrong direction. This week is about simplifying things. I need to treat each NFL week as the one-week season it should be treated as. I need to get back to the basics and put together a winning week. It’s already Week 10 and time is running is out to get back to respectability.
(Home team in caps)
Los Angeles -1 over OAKLAND
I don’t think the Raiders are any good, no matter how many times they have screwed me this season. I do think the Chargers are good, no matter how many times they have screwed me this season. If the Chargers are going to return to the playoffs, they have to win this game. If they lose, they will be three games back in the loss column to the Chiefs for the division and three games back in the loss column for the second wild-card spot.
CHICAGO -2.5 over Detroit
The Bears don’t deserve to make the playoffs, and they won’t. But it wouldn’t be a Bears season if they didn’t provide their fan base with an abundance of heartache. The four straight losses, 3-5 start and current last-place standing in the NFC North isn’t the type of heartache I’m talking about. I’m talking about doing enough to get back into the postseason picture in the NFC and then fall short in the final weeks of the season.
Baltimore -10 over CINCINNATI
The Dolphins foolishly beating the Jets and going from having the first overall pick to the fourth at the end of the game led to a sideline celebration in Miami and Brian Flores getting drenched in Gatorade. But the real celebration was happening in Cincinnati where I like to think the Bengals front office was dumping Gatorade on each other following the Dolphins’ win. The Bengals are now the only remaining winless team in the league and control their own destiny to securing the first overall pick in the draft and having a chance to draft Tua Tagovailoa and change the future of their franchise. Let’s see how the Bengals handle their chance with the No. 1 pick.
Buffalo +2.5 over CLEVELAND
The Browns are favored. The 2-6 Browns are favored to beat the 6-2 Bills. I had to check the line three times to make sure I was reading it right, and I am. The Browns are the favorites. It’s been very enjoyable watching the Browns be every bit as bad as the Giants and watching Odell Beckham once again be part of a losing team in a lost season. Beckham has become an afterthought in Cleveland with 575 yards and one touchdown through eight games. And while he might still eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, 1,000 yards for him was always a given. Like a band that once sold out stadiums and areanas and has been resigned to playing college campuses and small clubs, Beckham is no longer who he was a Giant. The non-performance stories like him wearing a watch during games or needing to change his cleats at halftime are now all anyone talks about with him because there’s no on-field performance or moments worth talking about.
NEW ORLEANS -12.5 over Atlanta
There’s going to be a lot of cardboard boxes being packed in the Falcons’ offices in a few weeks. It should have happened the second the team blew the 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, and because it didn’t, it’s hard to feel sorry for the Falcons for their performance these last three seasons.
New York Giants -2 over NEW YORK JETS
The Embarrassment Bowl. If the Giants win, they improve to 3-7 and the Jets fall to 1-8. If the Jets win, they improve to 2-7 and the Giants fall to 2-8. Even though there’s going to be a winner (though a tie would be a perfect result for this game), there’s no winner in this team. Both teams are losers, led by losers.
TAMPA BAY -4 over Arizona
The Buccaneers are the best 2-6 team in the league. I don’t know that a 2-6 team can be the best anything, but I do feel like the Buccaneers are better than their record, even if Bill Parcells would disagree. The Cardinals franchise is historically bad when it leaves its time zone and dome and has to play on the East Coast and outside, even if that outside is in sunny Florida. This logic led me to pick against the Cardinals when they played at MetLife against the Giants even though it didn’t work out. Bruce Arians isn’t Shurmur and it will work out in this instance.
Kansas City -5.5 over TENNESSEE
I’m picking the Chiefs under the assumption that Patrick Mahomes is going to play. If Mahomes weren’t going to play, I would still pick the Chiefs.
INDIANAPOLIS -10.5 over Miami
The Dolphins did everyone who wants to tease the Colts this week a favor by beating the Jets last week. Had the Dolphins lost again, this line would have probably been at least two touchdowns. Instead, it’s a reasonable six- or seven-point tease.
Carolina +5 over GREEN BAY
I think the quarterback controversy in Carolina was over before there ever got to be one. Cam Newton seems to be done for the season, and even if he he weren’t, how could the Panthers start him over Kyle Allen? Newton has most certainly played his final game for the Panthers, and that idea will become more and more real if the Panthers keep on winning.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 over PITTSBURGH
The Rams have gotten back on track after their unexpected three-game losing streak. Even if they got back on track at the expense against a bad Falcons team and a league-worst Bengals team, they still got back on track. With a congested NFC playoff picture, the Rams can’t afford another letdown against a truly inferior opponent like the one they had against the Buccaneers, and I don’t think they will have another one.
Minnesota +3 over DALLAS
There isn’t a combination of two “good” teams I trust less. The only “good” win either of these teams has is over the Eagles and that’s not saying much given how the Eagles have performed in the first half of the season. I fully expect Kirk Cousins to screw this game up the way he screws up nearly every game for the Vikings, but the Vikings are the better, more complete team in this matchup and when the better, more complete team is getting three points, you take them.
Seattle +6 over SAN FRANCISCO
It’s the head coach who OK’d a pass on the goal line in the Super Bowl despite having the best running back in the league on his team against the now-head coach who was the offensive coordinator for a 25-point blown lead in the Super Bowl. If only Dan Quinn could somehow be part of this game. He probably will have the chance to be next season when he’s looking for a coordinator job after he’s finally fired by the Falcons. Six points in a divisional matchup with the division essentially on the line is way too many.
Last week: 7-7-0