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BOSTON (CBS) — Well, I’m officially embarrassed.
Each week, I sit at this computer and stress out about making NFL picks. I watch as many games as humanly possible every Sunday, all the national games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday, and I go back online later in the week to catch what I missed over the weekend. I guess the lines, check the lines, see what the experts are picking, run through the injury report, read the local headlines from around the country, check every pertinent statistic and run through teams’ head-to-head history.
I do all that, and what do I have to show for it? A 39-51-1 record.
You don’t need me to tell you that’s pathetic, but I will anyway. That’s pathetic.
The abysmal record is difficult enough to deal with, but I made the brilliant decision this year to see how my wife would do against me. Through six weeks, she’s 47-43-1. That’s eight games better than my record, in case doing basic math isn’t your thing (the same way making NFL picks apparently isn’t my thing).
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But I’m not going to quit, and I’m smart enough to realize I need to change my strategy going forward. I only have 11 weeks left to get that record back to being respectable, and it has to start now.
And I’m not arrogant enough to think I can just figure it out all on my own, so I decided I’d check out the games my wife got right which I got wrong and ask my better half why she made her pick.
So, dear, why did you pick the Cowboys over the Ravens?
“I don’t know. Well I feel like normally I would pick Baltimore because I know they’re a strong team, but maybe the Cowboys just kind of popped in my head, so I said, ‘Let’s go with that.’ And one time you told me that it’s good to pick the underdog, so maybe I was just feeling it.”
Well at least it was my advice that worked out for you. And why the Browns over the Bengals?
“I figured if there was no favorite then I might as well go with the home team. It’s better odds.”
Jets over Colts?
“Them being at home and them being favored. I don’t like the Jets but you know. Sometimes you just go with the numbers.”
I don’t even know which numbers you’re talking about. And lastly, what about the Bills over the Cardinals?
“Probably the same reason I picked the Cowboys. I don’t know, I feel like maybe the Bills … I don’t know it just seemed like in my brain that they won more in the past than the Cardinals. Though that might be because I have this association with Jerry Maguire, and they weren’t very good, were they in that movie? Were they good?”
I have no idea.
“Mostly it’s what pops into my head, and I say it. I go with the feeling. I don’t really think that much. Also it helps to be really tired, because then you really don’t think that much about it.
“Don’t talk about that Cardinals part.”
Sorry. Had to.
Now that I’m equipped with that football know-how, it’s time for me to get back to work. I’ll be sure to include plenty of Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week’s Picks while we’re at it.
(Home team in caps; Thursday lines)
SAN FRANCISCO (-7) over Seattle
Of my many problems this season, picking the Thursday night game has perhaps been the biggest. Including the Wednesday night season-opening game, I’m 1-5 in picking the first game of the NFL week. There are many possible reasons for this issue, but I think the games have really unpredictable. This early in the season, with virtually no time to prepare at practice for an opponent, each NFL team responds differently to the challenge. Some play better than usual and others play much worse. If you can predict that one, then I need to hang out with you more.
The task becomes even more difficult this week, with the Seahawks, who are unpredictable anyway, against the 49ers, who looked like the class of the NFC until they laid an egg at home last week.
I’m going with the 49ers, because I don’t think Pete Carroll can focus his team in just three days after winning the Super Bowl on Sunday. That was the Super Bowl, right? I’m just basing it off the reactions of the Seattle players and coaches.
Baltimore (+7) over HOUSTON
The only games the Texans have won by more than a touchdown were against the Dolphins, Jaguars and Titans. I know the Lardarius Webb injury is a big one, but Matt Schaub isn’t exactly lighting up opposing defenses (232 yards per game). And as good as Arian Foster is, the Texans rank behind the Chiefs, Patriots and Bills in rushing yards per game. They’re just not a team built to blow out a good team.
Green Bay (-5.5) over ST. LOUIS
I hate the word “swag.” It is a stupid word. When you say it, you sound stupid. It is the worst word.
Regardless, the Packers appear to have it.
Tennessee (+3) over BUFFALO
My favorite part of the NFL season has been seeing all the shots of Dave Wannstedt up in the coaches’ booth wearing a gray T-shirt and looking utterly perplexed all game long. As much as it is abundantly clear that Shawne Merriman is going to solve all of the Bills’ defensive problems, that’s going to take more than a few days to take hold.
INDIANAPOLIS (-2) over Cleveland
A wise woman once said that sometimes, you have to “go with the home team. It’s better odds.” And who am I to argue?
TAMPA BAY (+2.5) over New Orleans
The only reason I feel like I should pick the Saints is simply because I haven’t seen them in two weeks. It took me four awful weeks to realize just how terrible this Saints team really is, and I can’t let a bye week erase my memory of that. New Orleans ranks 32nd in yards allowed, 26.2 more yards per game than any other team. That’s really something.
CAROLINA (+2) over Dallas
This is a tough one. If the Panthers are to fulfill their destiny as a 5-11 team this year, then they’re going to have to win some games, particularly some of their five remaining home games. But if the Cowboys are to fulfill their own destiny as an 8-8 team, then they’ll likely need to win a few of their remaining five road games.
So lacking anything else, I’ll use my wife’s logic and look at Hollywood for help. I feel like Cam Newton is a real-life version of Steamin’ Willie Beamen, and I know that Beamen could lead the fake Sharks over the real Cowboys this weekend. Hopefully the line of questioning from reporter Dr. Cox won’t get to him too much, and hopefully LL Cool J doesn’t bother him either. Hey, whatever happened to Bill Bellamy?
Ridiculous Quote From Last Week’s Picks: “Hey, if you’re into trusting the guy who threw his fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth interceptions on national television last week, then I guess that’s how you choose to live your life.”
Note: He threw No. 9 but still covered. I don’t regret my choice.
Arizona (+6) over MINNESOTA
So yeah, I know the Cardinals don’t have a quarterback, but hey, neither do the Vikings. Did you see that Christian Ponder pick last weekend? If you haven’t, watch it here. That’s enough to scare you away for the rest of the season. I’ll take John Skelton’s second cousin over that, thank you very much.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-5.5) over Washington
That’s a big spread, but for me this comes down to whether or not I think the Giants can win. And I do.
In their four victories this year, the Giants have won by seven, 29, 14, and 23 points. When they win, they generally win big. And two of the Redskins’ three losses have been by seven points.
Of course, these are the Giants, so a complete flop is always a distinct possibility. I just hope it doesn’t come this week.
RQFLWP: “I saw a headline that said, ‘Robert Griffin III says he has no doubts he can play Sunday.’ That’s nice for him, but I have my doubts.”
Note: Griffin, with his 138 rushing yards, set concussion research back about 100 years.
NEW ENGLAND (-11) over New York Jets
The Patriots have a few issues, no doubt, but they’re also a team that is wildly angry about the going-on in Seattle last weekend. I already feel bad for the Jets for the beating that is going to bestowed upon them.
And if you’re into quirky nonsense that has no actual bearing on football outcomes but is nevertheless considered as though it does, the Patriots will be wearing their red throwback jerseys. I dug into recent history of the Patriots wearing these jerseys, and here’s what I got:
Nov. 28, 2002 vs. Lions: W, 20-12
Sept. 14, 2009 vs. Bills: W, 25-24
Oct. 18, 2009 vs. Titans: W, 59-0
Oct. 31, 2010 vs. Vikings: W, 28-18
Nov. 25, 2010 vs. Lions: W, 45-24
Oct. 9, 2011 vs. Jets: W, 30-21
Patriots’ record while wearing red jerseys: 6-0
Average points for: 34.5
Average points against: 16.5
Don’t bet against Pat Patriot. Unless you’re an idiot.
OAKLAND (-4) over Jacksonville
I really wanted to take Oakland last week, I swear. I even had them written out in my column and everything … but then I looked at it and saw I was picking the Raiders over the Falcons, and I felt stupid seeing that on the screen, even though I was getting nine points. I changed it, and I got burned.
This week, thankfully, the Jaguars give me no such pause.
RQFLWP: “It doesn’t take advanced mathematics to know that the Raiders, who have been outscored 125-67 this year, are lousy. An extra week of preparation might have made them even worse.”
Note: That was me rationalizing the flip-flop. Never rationalize a flip-flop. That’s not what we’re here to do.
Pittsburgh (-1) over CINCINNATI
I really feel this year’s Steelers team is just plain lousy, particularly that pass defense. And yet, I can’t stop picking them.
RQFLWP: “There are maybe a small handful of teams this year which Pittsburgh can beat by a touchdown. The Titans are one of them.”
Note: Pittsburgh didn’t beat the Titans at all.
CHICAGO (-6) over Detroit
The Lions won last week for the second time this season, but it was just the first time they’ve won against the spread since Christmas and the second time they’ve won against the spread since Thanksgiving.
Granted, the Bears might be a little rusty after a two-week break away from NFL competition (sorry, Jaguars), but I’d be afraid of Smokin’ Jay Cutler to get goin’ on Monday night. I just hope Jon Gruden starts busting out the John Wayne comparisons again.
Last week: 5-9