I usually use this space to talk about the state of the Giants or something Giants related, but I’m holding on to that for tomorrow with my thoughts on the latest chapter of Giants-Patriots. It’s been just over four years since the two teams met in the 2011 regular season and nearly four years since they met in Super Bowl XLVI. This will be the third regular-season meeting between the Manning/Coughlin Giants and the Brady/Belichick Patriots and their fifth overall meeting including the two Super Bowls. The Giants hold a 3-1 edge and it’s going to be incredibly difficult to get it to 4-1.
It’s been a pretty mediocre picks season outside of Week 3, which has carried the record to this point and kept me afloat and has helped me avoid falling to .500 or worse. There are eight weeks left in the season to create enough separation that the postseason won’t have to act as the postseason for my picks too the way it did last year when I entered the Super Bowl with a .500 record and finished the season with an under-.500 record thanks to Pete Carroll. That needs to change.
(Home team in caps)
NEW YORK JETS -2.5 over Buffalo
This might be the hardest game of the week and it’s the first game of the week. There’s nothing like getting the week started with a Thursday Night Football toss-up in a divisional matchup that has enormous playoff implications. This game could be a season-deciding game for both teams and could be the difference in both Todd Bowles and Rex Ryan being viewed as saviors to their respective insane fan bases. Ryan’s Jets never showed up for games of this magnitude and I have a feeling his Bills team won’t either given their performance on the road this season. It’s not going to be the homecoming Ryan hoped for when he was hired by the Bills.
GREEN BAY -12 over Detroit
Aaron Rodgers threw for 77 yards in Week 8. Last week, he had 38 yards at halftime before nearly completing a miraculous comeback in Carolina against the undefeated Panthers. Instead, the Packers lost their second straight game and now they’re 6-2 and tied atop the NFC North with the underrated Vikings. I’m not on good terms with Rodgers or the Packers after the last two weeks, but with a return to Lambeau Field against the Lions, who somehow have fired everyone in their organization except for Jim Caldwell, this game is going to get out of hand.
TAMPA BAY -1 over Dallas
The Buccaneers aren’t good. The Cowboys aren’t good. Both teams are going nowhere, but just to make sure, it would be nice if the Cowboys’ season could officially be ended before Tony Romo comes back.
Carolina -6 over TENNESSEE
The Panthers have screwed me over a lot this season. They screwed me over last week by beating the Packers. They screwed me over the week before by blowing an easy cover against the Colts. They screwed me over two weeks before that with a win in Seattle. It’s time for me to finally get in on the Panthers for the long haul since their schedule isn’t exactly challenging the rest of the way. But I fully expect them to let me down as early as this week.
ST. LOUIS -6 over Chicago
Everyone is talking about how Jeremy Langford is the new Matt Forte because that’s what people do. After Week 1, Marcus Mariota was going to be the best quarterback in history. The way Nick Foles was going to be two seasons ago. The way Andrew Luck was going to be after he was drafted. Langford might be good and might be the future for the Bears after this season given Forte’s age, contract situation and now MCL injury, but his big first game also came against the Chargers, who have the worst run defense in the league. It’s going to be a much different story for Langford and Jay Cutler this week.
WASHINGTON +1.5 over New Orleans
I can’t believe the Giants couldn’t win in New Orleans, but the Titans could. That’s how bad the Giants’ defense was two weeks ago. I was close to thinking the Superdome Saints were back, but losing to the Titans at home in overtime certainly proves that the Superdome Saints still don’t exist. If the Superdome Saints doesn’t exist then the Outside the Superdome Saints can’t possibly exist.
Miami +6.5 over PHILADELPHIA
Let’s Go Dolphins! It’s going to be “Let’s Go (insert team playing the Eagles)!” for the rest of the season since they are the Giants’ direct and only competition for the NFC East. As I have already written, the Giants and Eagles are both going to be 8-7 or one of them will be and one of them will be 7-8 and the season will come down to their Week 17 game at MetLife, which will be flexed by NBC to Sunday Night Football. The Giants need to go 3-3 to be 8-7 going into that game. It would help if the Eagles just started losing frequently, so I don’t have to worry about a winner-take-all game to finish the season.
Cleveland +5 over PITTSBURGH
I’m not sure what Mike Pettine is doing in Cleveland by continuing to go with Josh McCown over Johnny Manziel when McCown is healthy, and it’s going to cost him his job. Pettine has all these big plans for Manziel to eventually become the Browns’ starter after “learning” for two years under Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown, but this isn’t Eli Manning under Kurt Warner or Aaron Rodgers under Brett Favre. This is Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown we’re talking about. What could Manziel possibly have to gain by watching them play and listening to what they have to say? If anything, Manziel will regress as a backup under them and pick up bad habits and losing traits.
Jacksonville +5.5 over BALTIMORE
Somewhere someone who isn’t a Jaguars fan or a Ravens fan is going to bet on this game and watch it in its entirety. Thank about that.
Minnesota +3 over OAKLAND
Somehow the Vikings are getting 3 points in this game and the only reason I can think of is that the status of Teddy Bridgewater is undetermined. I have lost a lot of picks (and money) over the years to games started by Shaun Hill and if I had to pick a backup quarterback to have in the league, I’d pick Hill. He will go years without playing in a game and still go out and win. Before Week 9, Hill had played in 13 games in the last four season and nine of those games came last year. I know the Raiders are much improved and they have a good young offensive core and a solid defense that beat the Jets and went toe-to-toe with the Raiders, but it’s hard to bet against the Vikings even with the 35-year-old Hill possibly playing. If anything, Hill makes the Vikings even more dangerous.
DENVER -6 over Kansas City
The Broncos looked like the best team in the NFL when they routed the Packers two weeks ago and I strongly believed in them heading into Indianapolis. And when the Broncos returned a ount for a touchdown on teh final play of the first half to cut the the Colts’ lead to 17-7 and then eventually went on to tie the game at 17, I figured htey would win. But then Peyton Manning did what he has done so many times in big games and threw a pick with about six minutes left to seal the win for the Colts.
The loss didn’t just hurt picks-wise and financially, but it hurt in the standings, giving the Broncos their first loss of the season and putting them in a bad position to have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. That means if the Broncos are going to get back to the Super Bowl, or at least make sure the Patriots don’t, they’re most likely going to have to win at Gillette Stadium this January and I’m not sure they can. If they can’t, it’s up to the Bengals to prevent the Patriots from going to Levi’s Stadium, and I don’t think anyone thinks Andy Dalton is going to outplay Tom Brady with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. I’m not sure anyone thinks the Bengals will even win a divisional round game to get to the AFC Championship.
NEW YORK GIANTS +7.5 over New England
Jason Pierre-Paul has said that the Giants will get to Tom Brady this week though I’m not sure I believe him. Even though the Giants have won their last three games by getting to Brady, they have nine sacks through the first nine games this season. Those nine games were played against Tony Romo, Kirk Cousins, Tyrod Taylor, Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford, Matt Cassel, Drew Brees and Jameis Winston. Two of those quarterbacks are good. Seven of them aren’t. Let’s hope there’s some old defensive magic in this defense and defensive line and they can find it on Sunday afternoon.
SEATTLE -3 over Arizona
After winning the Super Bowl and then handing the next Super Bowl away, I didn’t think the Seahawks would be coming off their bye this season at 4-4 and trailing by two games in the NFC West with the core of their team still intact. But that’s probably what happens when your head coach calls the most controversial play in the history of sports and throws away everything you worked for and all the hits taken and injuries suffered over the course of a season and the punishment that will have lasting effects on your life.
It’s hard not to think that Pete Carroll lost his team and the team’s trust in him after his decision to have Russell Wilson throw the ball on the goal line last February. But it’s also hard not to think that the Seahawks are too good and have too much talent to be a .500 team and let the season slip away from them. Last season, the Seahawks were 3-3 before going on a 9-1 run to finish 12-4. They were 2-4 three weeks ago and are now 4-4 and about to go on a similar run.
CINCINNATI -10.5 over Houston
I don’t want to believe in the Bengals. It goes against my rule about the “Bs” for this season that cost me last season and in seasons before last. I know as soon as I step even one foot on the Bengals bandwagon, it’s going to derail and they are going to lose what should be an obvious win. This game could be that game, but I can’t take the chance that it’s not.
Last week: 5-8-0