BOSTON (CBS) — NFL players can be really dumb sometimes.
Sometimes, they prove that by getting arrested outside clubs or driving 150 mph on the highway or intercepting passes when they should just bat them down in order to win a playoff game and then afterwards say they don’t regret their boneheaded decision because they always want to score and will never just go down to the ground … but this week, the proved it by voting Bill Belichick the second-most overrated head coach in the NFL.
Sure, it only took 16 knuckleheads to place Belichick in second place behind Rex Ryan, but it was nevertheless a poor showing for the intelligence of NFL players. Just look at the company he’s with: he’s sandwiched between Rex Ryan and Andy Reid, two portly fellows who have as many Super Bowl rings (as head coaches) as you and I. Meanwhile, Norv Turner, who is overrated by virtue of having a job for the past several years, received just three votes, and pumped-up Pete Carroll received just two votes.
I don’t really need to get into reasons why it’s nearly impossible to overrate Belichick … but I will anyway. He’s won three Super Bowls, trailing only Chuck Noll’s four. He’s won five conference championships, second only to Don Shula’s six. He’s won 17 playoff games, ranking him third behind Tom Landry (20) and Shula (19). Sure, he hasn’t won a Super Bowl since the ’04 season, but he led his team to within one play of winning it all just eight months ago, nd it wasn’t all that long ago when he brought an 18-0 team to Arizona and again had his team within one play of going down as the single greatest team in football history.
So yeah, he’s pretty good.
Yes, some people will always hold the whole videotaping coaches’ signals thing against him, but that’s only because they’re mad that they lost (looking at you, Marshall Faulk and Hines Ward!). Anyone who knows anything about the sport knows the actual on-the-field impact of “Spygate” was minimal, and if you think some videos of coaches on the sideline during games, when they’re in public view, constitutes Belichick being overrated, then you’re just not the most intelligent person. That’s OK, but it’s important you accept it and even embrace it.
I’m glad we have that settled. Now let’s get into this week’s picks. Last week was a major turnaround for me, so I’ll probably go perfect from here on out and you won’t want to miss that. A lot of people hopped off the Hurley bandwagon last week, but I expect it to be crowded once again come Sunday. I hope.
(Despite the big week, I still managed to make a few bad decisions, so Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week’s Picks will live on.)
(Home team in caps; Thursday lines)
Indianapolis (-3) over JACKSONVILLE
The #ChuckStrong story is awesome, and it was great to see him rally his team after last week’s win. It’s just as great to see the players shave their heads in a show of support for Chuck Pagano. You just don’t see that real “team” feeling in professional sports, and you can’t help but appreciate the high school-type atmosphere this team has, especially coming off a 2-14 season.
But none of that will really determine the outcome of games. What will determine the outcome of this game is the Jaguars’ inability to play tackle football, which is a crucial element to competing in tackle football games.
MINNESOTA (+1) over Detroit
The Lions are on a remarkable streak in which they’ve gone 4-0 against the spread since their bye. This is remarkable only because they were 0-4 against the spread prior to that bye, and they were 2-10-2 from their bye last season until their bye this season. Betting against the Lions was close to a sure thing for a long time, but their recent run against mediocre to bad teams changed that.
They’re now at a crossroads. They face Minnesota, Green Bay, Houston, Indy, Green Bay, Atlanta and Chicago before the season ends. It’s time to start betting against them every week, especially when they’re favored on the road for no real reason. Things will turn back around.
Atlanta (-2) over NEW ORLEANS
The Saints beat the 3-5 Eagles and the 4-4 Buccaneers, with a loss to the 5-3 Broncos sandwiched between, and they’re good enough to hang with the 8-0 Falcons? On a short week? I don’t think so, Tim.
New York Giants (-4) over CINCINNATI
The Bengals have lost four straight games by an average of 7.25 points per game. Their only wins all year have come against Cleveland (2-7), Washington (3-6) and Jacksonville (1-7). They’re very bad. They’re going to lose badly. No need to think about this one any further.
Oakland (+7.5) over BALTIMORE
Tough one here. Both teams are 3-5 against the spread. Oakland’s offense ranks 15th in yards per game; Baltimore’s ranks 19th. Oakland’s defense ranks 21st in yards allowed; Baltimore’s ranks 26th.
So when you’ve got what should be a fairly even matchup and you’re not sure, just close your eyes, take the points, and hope for the best.
NEW ENGLAND (-11) over Buffalo
The Patriots so thoroughly own the Bills that even when they spot Buffalo double-digit leads, they still manage to win by three or four touchdowns. I know this because the Bills led 21-0 in the second quarter in Week 17 last year and also led 21-7 midway through the third quarter back in September of this year, and the Patriots won those games by 28 and 24 points, respectively.
And something tells me Dave Wannstedt hasn’t been sleeping much this week, knowing he’s going to have to try to figure out Rob Gronkowski, who’s gone over 100 yards receiving in each of his last three games against Buffalo, scoring five touchdowns along the way. Now add in the fact that Bill Belichick’s teams are historically tremendous (9-3) coming out of a bye week, and you just know this one’s going to be a romp. I might have been willing to take the Patriots by 20.
(Because it’s always my favorite stat and I won’t get to use it again this year, the Patriots are 4-1 against the Bills in the past three years. The average score of those games is 41-23. You can play this game going back a decade and get similar results, too.)
MIAMI (-6) over Tennessee
The Titans may have looked worse than any other team in the league last week, but it’s pretty challenging to not look bad against that Chicago D. While they won’t be facing that vaunted Chicago defense this week, they will face Miami’s, which very quietly allows just 18.6 points per game. That’s just a little more than a field goal more than Chicago’s defense allows. Miami’s defense doesn’t quite have that plus-16 turnover differential, but nevertheless, the 24th-ranked Tennessee offense is in for another tough week.
TAMPA BAY (-3) over San Diego
Vincent Jackson is going to have 7,000 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on Sunday.
Denver (-4) over CAROLINA
I’m not trying to take so many favorites on purpose this week. But would you want to take Carolina getting just four points against Peyton Manning?
Ridiculous Quote From Last Week’s Picks: “I continue to stick with the Redskins, even if it’s not working out just yet.”
New York Jets (+6) over SEATTLE
I still believe the Seahawks are going to struggle to consistently win and consistently win big. I’d put the odds of them covering spread of five or more points in two consecutive weeks at Rex Ryan’s 2009 weight-to-1.
RQFLWP: “What would make anyone think the Seahawks are capable of beating anyone by five points, let alone a 5-3 team from a superior division?”
Note: You end up looking ridiculous when you put that much trust in Christian Ponder on the road.
SAN FRANCISCO (-11) over St. Louis
How dominant are the Niners? Offensively, they rank first in the NFL in rushing yards. Defensively, they rank first in points allowed, second in passing yards allowed and fifth in rushing yards allowed. St. Louis respectively ranks 18th, 20th, 17th and 13th in those same categories.
The funny part is that if the Niners had Sam Bradford as their quarterback, they’d probably be well-rounded enough to actually put out notice that they’re a true Super Bowl contender. For now, though, trusting them to cover 11 points should count as enough respect.
Dallas (-1) over PHILADELPHIA
Anyone but the Eagles. Anyone. Even Dallas. … Even Dallas.
RQFLWP: “The Eagles are pretty bad, but they’re not that bad. Right? Right?! If ever Michael Vick could have a monster performance, it would be this one, against the Saints’ dreadful passing defense (30th in NFL) and even-worse rushing defense (32nd).”
Note: I didn’t know the Eagles hired five matadors to play offensive line. I wish someone had reported that earlier in the week.
CHICAGO (-1) over Houston
How ridiculous is it that it’s become a debate whether it’s right that Charles Tillman might miss the game due to the birth of his child? If you missed it, Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk either wanted a lot of people on the Internet to talk about him or is just completely nuts. Either way, he said Charles Tillman is wrong for potentially missing a game to witness the birth of his child, and that football players must plan their babies for the offseason. The Internet has succeeded in calling him a lot of bad names, but really, I see it more as a “So this is what we’ve become … ” moment.
As far as the game goes, I bet the Bears win 6-3.
RQFLWP: “A 3.5-point cover seems tough for the Bears, considering they’ve won their last two games by a grand total of seven points.”
Note: 51-20. Ha, ha.
Kansas City (+12.5) over PITTSBURGH
There are plenty of teams that give me no worries about covering a double-digit spread. The Steelers are not one of them. I’ll play the good team/bad team game with them. It’s a little simplistic, but that’s what we need sometimes.
The Steelers have played, really, two good teams (Giants, Broncos). They beat the Giants by four and lost to the Broncos by 12.
The Steelers have played six bad teams. They beat the Jets, Eagles, Bengals and Redskins. They had one-possession margins of victory in two of those games, while the other two were blowouts. They also lost to the Raiders and Titans.
Now, the Chiefs just may be the worst team of all, but if they’ve only won by double digits in two of their six games against bad teams, it’s a bad bet to trust them to do so on Monday night.
Last week: 10-4