I was going to fill this space with how big the Giants-Cowboys game is this week, but I decided that a game of this importance needs a lot more than the introduction to my picks, so I saved it for Friday.
When it comes to my picks, so much for Matt Christopher and Ice Magic and Pie Pennelli since my theory about the Giants’ success controlling my picks success was destroyed in Week 11. The Giants beat the Packers 27-13, but I went 5-8-2 for my first under-.500 week since Week 6, marking the first time the Giants won and I didn’t produce an over.-500 week. There are just six weeks left (and the playoffs too, of course) to get back to .500 overall and dig myself out of the hole I put myself in starting in Week 1 with the 3-12-1 disaster to start the season.
Week 12! Let’s go!
(Home team in caps)
New Orleans -10 over ATLANTA
It’s never a good idea to trust the Saints to cover outside of the Superdome, but when their road venue is also a dome and they are playing a 2-8 team with absolutely nothing to play for as they count down the days until the end of the season, well I guess that’s pretty much the same as picking the Saints to cover in the Superdome.
DETROIT -8.5 over Tampa Bay
The Greg Schiano Buccaneers lost to the Seahawks in Seattle in overtime in Week 9 before picking up their first win of the season over the Dolphins in Week 10 and then they won again in Week 11 over the Falcons. Suddenly the Schiano firing stories have stopped and there is talk that he might be coaching his way into staying with the Buccaneers for the 2014 season. Real life? Yes.
But I’m not buying into Schiano coaching his way into staying with the Buccaneers for the 2014 season. The Bucs still play at Detroit and Carolina, home against Buffalo and San Francisco and at St. Louis and New Orleans to finish the season. There’s a real chance, actually it’s likely, the Bucs finish the season 2-14, but even if they were to get to 3-13 or 4-12, given everything the team has endured this season, that won’t be enough to save Schiano’s job.
HOUSTON -10 over Jacksonville
There it is! It’s that Game of the Week …
Somewhere someone who isn’t a Texans fan or a Jaguars fan is going to bet on this game and watch it in its entirety. Think about that.
Minnesota +5 over GREEN BAY
Since the 2006 season, the Vikings are 1-7 at Lambeau, including the playoffs, with their last win in Green Bay coming on Nov. 1, 2009 in Week 8 when Brett Favre threw four touchdowns against his former team. If Aaron Rodgers were playing on Sunday, I would have a hard time taking the Vikings no matter how high this line would grow. But when it comes to choosing between Christian Ponder playing for nothing other than to try and not embarrass himself or Scott Tolzien playing with the pressure of keeping the Packers’ season alive, I’m going to choose Christian Ponder.
KANSAS CITY -5.5 over San Diego
I’m not sure how the Chiefs didn’t manage to knock Peyton Manning and his two sprained ankles down in the biggest game the Chiefs franchise has played since their 30-7 loss at home against the Ravens in the 2010 playoffs. It was the worst job a team has done to expose another team’s weakness in a big game since the Yankees decided to not bunt against Curt Schilling’s hanging-by-a-thread ankle tendon/sheath thing in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. Thanks, Joe Torre! Eighteen-year-old me appreciates that managerial job!
Carolina +4.5 over MIAMI
So how about the Footballs Gods deciding not to bring the Panthers back to reality by having the officials pick up their game-ending flag only to run off the field, stealing the Patriots’ +120 money line from many on their way through the tunnel? If you thought the Panthers hype train was adding passengers and picking up speed heading into Week 11, well it’s traveling at full capacity at a dangerously high speed now entering Week 12. I looked up tickets for the Panthers hype train on StubHub this morning and standing room only tickets were going for $485 thanks to the national attention and love the Panthers have been getting from anyone with a microphone, camera or keyboard. Not only do all of these things add up to present a textbook recipe for disaster for anyone thinking this line is low and the perfect opportunity to try and double up on the mortgage or the first-born’s college tuition, but it’s also the perfect storm for the Football Gods to show up and remind people never to get too high or too low and on a good team in the regular season. This game makes a lot of sense for the Football Gods to show up and do what I thought they would do … last week.
CLEVELAND -1 over Pittsburgh
Just when you thought the Steelers were done at 2-6, they win two games and now are one game out of the playoffs thanks to every potential AFC 6-seed sucking. But the Browns are also right there, also at 4-6, and whoever loses this game can start making offseason vacation plans for the Monday after Week 17.
Chicago +1 over ST. LOUIS
In the four games that Josh McCown has seen action as the Bears’ quarterback, the team is 2-2 with their two losses coming by a combined six points. Not bad for having to start a 34-year-old backup, who had attempted just 61 passes since the start of the 2008 season.
Meanwhile, the Rams have had to use a backup quarterback of their own in 30-year-old Kellen Clemens. The Rams are 1-2 with Clemens as their starter (their two losses were a 14-9 loss to Seattle and a 28-21 loss to Tennessee) and are coming off a 38-8 blowout win over the Colts.
So in a battle of the backup quarterback, I’m going to go with the team that has something to play for.
BALTIMORE -4 over New York Jets
The Jets have alternated wins and losses every week of the season through 10 games, which means they should win this week if the pattern continues. However, after putting my faith in the Jets last week despite saying, “Everything about this game says I should probably pick the Bills,” and then not picking the Bills, there’s no way I can take the Jets again on the road … in Baltimore … against the defending champs … who are trying to keep their own postseason plans alive. Goodnight, J-E-T-S.
OAKLAND -1 over Tennessee
It looks like we have another of that Game of the Week …
Somewhere someone who isn’t a Raiders fan or a Titans fan is going to bet on this game and watch it in its entirety. Think about that.
ARIZONA -2.5 over Indianapolis
Not only are the Cardinals a surprising 6-4, but they have just one home loss (to Seattle). And not only are the Colts the weirdest team in the NFL with wins over Seattle, San Francisco and Denver, but losses to the Dolphins, Chargers and Rams, but they can’t be trusted on the road and to continue to produce epic comebacks.
NEW YORK GIANTS -2.5 over Dallas
I will get to this game on Keefe To The City on Friday.
Denver -3 over NEW ENGLAND
Things don’t usually go well for Peyton Manning at Gillette Stadium. Actually they go terribly. But if the Patriots’ secondary is as banged up as it looked in the fourth quarter in Carolina on Monday Night Football then this might be the easiest pick of the week.
San Francisco -6 over WASHINGTON
If the playoffs started today, here is how the NFC would look:
1. Seattle, 10-1
2. New Orleans, 8-2
3. Detroit, 6-4
4. Philadelphia, 6-5
5. Carolina, 7-3
6. San Francisco, 6-4
Right now, the 49ers would be the 6-seed in the NFC and would be looking at going to Detroit to face the Lions at Ford Field for Wild-Card Weekend. That’s a pretty drastic letdown from where the 49ers looked to be entering the season and even as they headed into their bye three weeks ago. But now at 6-4 with back-to-back losses and one of their six remaining games being against the Seahawks, the 49ers need a convincing, confidence-boosting win in the worst. What better opponent for that than the 3-7 Redskins (whose locker room has turned on each other)?
Last week: 5-8-2