I usually make the picture for the weekly picks of either Eli Manning or Tom Coughlin, but I couldn’t help but choose Perry Fewell looking like most people walking through McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on their way to their return flight home. Fewell’s look and demeanor sum up how his defense played last week in Seattle against the run, how the Giants’ season is going and how this picks season has been going for the most part.
I’m running out of time to right the ship that has been devastated by one bad week back in Week 2 and it’s going to take the opposite of that Week 2 performance to fully recover. I have been waiting eight weeks, or basically half the season, for that week to come and it hasn’t, but it needs to.
(Home team in caps)
MIAMI -4 over Buffalo
Last week, I picked the Bengals thinking they would continue to be the Saints 2.0 with their play at Paul Brown Stadium, but that didn’t go so well. (At least I was able to salvage my pick by taking the Browns money line at +250, which is all that really matters.) But this week it’s time get back on track with the old bread and butter that is Thursday Night Football.
CLEVELAND -3.5 over Houston
Well, it looks like the Johnny Manziel era isn’t going to start soon in Cleveland and maybe it never will at this rate. I wish the Jets had taken Manziel with the 18th pick in the draft because it would have meant the Johnny Manziel NFL era would already be underway and it would have meant absolute chaos and a media circus around the Jets, which is exactly what Woody Johnson wants and craves. But if I can’t beat the Browns by picking against them in hopes of Johnny Football becoming the starting quarterback, I might as well join them.
MINNESOTA +3.5 over Chicago
I will pick any team against the Bears right now. Any team. It doesn’t matter who.
KANSAS CITY -2 over Seattle
I have no idea what to do with this game and that should mean “take the points” but I have seen what happens when Russell Wilson has to throw the ball and the Chiefs’ defense isn’t going to roll over like the Giants did a week ago.
CAROLINA -1 over Atlanta
The Falcons are 3-6 and two of their three wins came against the Buccaneers. So if the Buccaneers didn’t exist, the Falcons would be a one-win team, so they should be treated as a one-win team. The disgusting part about the one-win Falcons is that they are still not only alive but they are one game, ONE GAME, back of the Saints for the NFC South lead. I SAID ONE GAME! The NFC South has become the 2010 NFC West and there’s a chance that the South could be won by a team with possibly a .500 record at best. But it would be pretty amazing if the 7-9 Saints (or the 8-8 Saints) host the wild-card Seahawks during Wild-Card Weekend at the Superdome where no team is going to go to and win a playoff game.
As for the Panthers, what’s a more undeserving nickname in sports: James Shields as “Big Game James” or Cam Newton as “Superman”?
NEW ORLEANS -7.5 over Cincinnati
So you know that thing I always say about the Saints? This thing:
The Saints’ last home loss with Sean Payton as head coach came in Week 17 in 2010 when they had nothing to play for. Including the playoffs, with Payton as head coach, the Saints have won all of their home games since that loss and here are their margins of victory in those games: 19, 6, 11, 25, 18, 3, 32, 18, 21, 24, 6, 17, 28, 29, 14, 25, 11, 55, 7 and 17.
Well, I can’t use that anymore. But I can use a new version of it!
The Saints’ have last one home game with Sean Payton as head coach since Week 17 in 2010 when they had nothing to play for. Including the playoffs, with Payton as head coach, the Saints have all but one of their home games since that loss and here are their margins of victory in those games: 19, 6, 11, 25, 18, 3, 32, 18, 21, 24, 6, 17, 28, 29, 14, 25, 11, 55, 7 and 17.
Andy Dalton going on the road after going 10-for-33 for 86 yards and three interceptions and not just on the road, but to the Superdome of all places? The local games and the Red Zone channel might not be enough for me this weekend, knowing that this game is on, I might have to buy DirecTV just for it.
Tampa Bay +7.5 over WASHINGTON
The Redskins are 3-6. Their wins are against the Jaguars, the Titans and the Tony Romo-less Cowboys. RG III has played two games this year and the Redskins have lost both. Which of those facts could give anyone the idea that they should be favored by more than a touchdown against any team?
Denver -10.5 over ST. LOUIS
I’m sure Peyton Manning misses playing in a dome in a controlled environment where the weather is always perfect and wind is non-existent. Peyton might not be at his best when he’s at Gillette Stadium or the stage is its biggest, but he is at his best when he’s in a perfect setting.
NEW YORK GIANTS +4.5 over San Francisco
Now that the season is over (well, unless the Giants run the table … and even that might not be enough with the way the NFC is this year), I don’t have any real reason to pick the Giants.
Oakland +10.5 over SAN DIEGO
At 5-1, the Chargers were considered to possibly be the best team in the NFL, at least for a week. But since Week 6 their season has unraveled with three straight losses to the Chiefs (23-20), Broncos (35-21) and Dolphins (37-0!!!) I always, always, always take the points when the Raiders play the Chargers except when I didn’t back in Week 6 and the Chargers barely got past the winless Raiders with a 31-28 win. This time I’m going back to the basics and that is picking against Philip Rivers to cover spreads.
GREEN BAY -6.5 over Philadelphia
Mark Sanchez did to me on Monday night what I dared him to do, which is the same thing I dared Colt McCoy to do a few Monday nights ago. To my defense, I made my pick in that Cowboys-Redskins game before Tony Romo was ruled out for the game and I made my pick for the Eagles-Panthers game under the assumption that the Panthers were an average football team capable of shutting down a quarterback the Jets chose Geno Smith over. Now the entire world has seemingly forgot how bad Sanchez was with the Jets and he is suddenly a fan favorite in Philadelphia, a city that preys on the exact type of player Sanchez was with the Jets. That Mark Sanchez will show up in Green Bay.
Detroit +1 over ARIZONA
When Drew Stanton filled in for Carson Palmer in Weeks 2-4, the Cardinals knew it was temporary and he knew it was temporary. There wasn’t any pressure on a backup quarterback, who hadn’t started a game in four years, to beat the Giants or 49ers (which he did) or try to be competitive against the Broncos (which he really wasn’t). But Stanton came out of that three-game stretch at 2-1 and two years after being cut by the Jets in favor of Tim Tebow, he proved that he could not only be a viable backup in the event of another Palmer injury, but that he could win in the league. The difference now is that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel for Stanton’s starting time. Palmer isn’t coming back this season and who knows what he will be like next year as a 35-year-old coming off a torn ACL. Stanton is now expected to win because he did in September and he’s expected to lead a 7-1 team to the playoffs and his head coach didn’t do him any favors by saying the Cardinals could win the Super Bowl with him as their quarterback. No pressure or anything, Drew.
New England +2.5 over INDIANAPOLIS
It would probably be a good idea to stop making the Patriots underdogs.
Last week: 6-7-0