BOSTON (CBS) — There’s an old saying in the NFL that the season doesn’t really begin until Thanksgiving. As the not-so-proud owner of a 74-83-3record against the spread thus far, I fully embrace that concept.
This is a short week for everyone, so there’s no time to waste with a long, fancy intro. Click here if you want to check out my Thanksgiving picks, and carry on for all the rest of them.
(Home team in caps; Wednesday lines)
Denver (-10.5) over KANSAS CITY
The Broncos are a solid 6-4 against the spread this season, though this will be their first week as double-digit favorites. Against some other opponent, I may be concerned, but come on now. These are the Chiefs.
Ridiculous Quote From Last Week’s Picks: “The Chiefs aren’t the worst team in the world. They may even be the best 1-8 team there is!”
Note: This still may technically be true.
Tennessee (-3) over JACKSONVILLE
Oh, come on. The Jaguars show some life for the first time all season and they get this kind of respect from the oddsmakers? That’s insane.
INDIANAPOLIS (-3) over Buffalo
The Bills struggle to score touchdowns. That’s problematic in the NFL. There is some hesitancy to trust the rookie quarterback to rally his teammates after a beatdown like the one the Colts received last week, but that Indy team has resolve. I’m thinking the Colts win 24-13.
Minnesota (+5) over CHICAGO
This is the spread that assumes Jay Cutler will play. If Cutler is out, I’d imagine the spread to be more like one or two points, but no matter, because I’m picking the Vikings to win outright.
Now I don’t expect the Bears’ defense to get embarrassed for the second straight week, but stopping Adrian Peterson is no easy task. Even if Cutler comes back, that Bears offense isn’t exactly clicking. Would you have guessed the offense with Cutler and Brandon Marshall ranks 31st in passing yards per game? Would you have guessed the rushing offense with Matt Forte ranks 10th, behind such teams as the Chiefs, Patriots and Buccaneers?
Oakland (+9) over CINCINNATI
The Bengals are hot right now, and the Raiders are … not so hot right now, but no, I can’t trust the Bengals to win by 10. Yes, I know they’ve done it the past two weeks against the Giants and Chiefs, but that doesn’t erase their first eight games of the year, when they won by more than a touchdown exactly once.
Plus, Carson Palmer turning into a Garbage Time Hall of Famer (seriously, he’s third in the league in passing yards) almost guarantees the Raiders will score a late, meaningless touchdown to cover this one.
CLEVELAND (pick ’em) over Pittsburgh
Charlie Batch vs. Brandon Weeden! If RedZone goes to this game at all, send your hate mail toward Culver City, Calif. It just might save the USPS!
MIAMI (+3) over Seattle
This game is a complete crapshoot, so I’ll stick with the home team getting points against the potentially rusty, definitely traveling-across-the-country team with the doofus coach.
Atlanta (pick ’em) over TAMPA BAY
It’s the cool thing to do to rag on Matt Ryan for throwing a million interceptions last week, despite the fact that most of them were tipped at the line. One bounced off a helmet and straight into the hands of a linebacker for crying out loud. Matt Ryan is just fine, and so are the Falcons.
Baltimore (Pick ’em) over SAN DIEGO
Ed Reed is probably going to decapitate someone. Legally, of course.
ARIZONA (-1) over St. Louis
Some teams have three quarterbacks dressed each week, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s say every team has two. That makes for 64 quarterbacks in the NFL. With 64 being the number, where would you rank John Skelton? He must be in the 50s at best, right? Wouldn’t you rather take your chances with Ryan Mallett, Matt Flynn, T.J. Yates or David Carr over Skelton? It’s just bizarre to me that the Cardinals entered a real life NFL season with Kevin Kolb, Skelton and Ryan Lindley as their quarterbacking options.
All that being said, the Arizona defense is for real, and the Rams haven’t won since Oct. 4. Yes that win was against the Cardinals, but it was also a night when Kolb took nine sacks. I’m pretty sure we won’t see that happen this time.
San Francisco (-1) over NEW ORLEANS
I said last week that eventually, a team was going to slow down the rolling Saints. The Raiders were not equipped to do so last week, but there’s no team in the NFL better suited for that job than the 49ers.
One thing that’s bugged me this week has been the talk of a “quarterback controversy” in San Francisco. You have got to be kidding me. I know Colin Kaepernick may not be the second coming of Joe Montana, but the kid can play. Alex Smith? He cannot. There should be no controversy whatsoever.
Consider that Monday night, in his first NFL star, Kaepernick threw for 243 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Smith didn’t have such a performance until December 2009, his fifth season out of college. Watching Smith these past two years has been painful, as his short hops to open receivers are second only to Tim Tebow’s in terms of style points.
Sure, it’s risky to stick with a young quarterback without much experience when you have a team that can win the Super Bowl, but you’re taking the same risk by lining up Smith every Sunday and hoping something good happens.
Green Bay (+2.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants are the most unpredictable team in the NFL and have been for five years. Will they go on a run eventually? Maybe, but don’t count on it. A lot of people say this is the Giants’ annual “midseason malaise” but don’t worry because they can do this but still go on a run and win the Super Bowl. I’m not so convinced. There’s a reason teams don’t repeat as champions in this league (dynasty Patriots aside), and the 2012 Giants don’t look to be the team to buck that trend.
RQFLWP: “I don’t do a ‘lock of the week,’ but [GB (-3.5) over Detroit] is my lock of the week.”
Note: I knew I was in trouble once I said that, but a last-minute, nearly meaningless field goal saved me. Had it all the way!
Carolina (Pick ’em) over PHILADELPHIA
There are such things in the world as “betting experts” and whatnot, but your 7-year-old nephew could watch the Eagles and know that they are the last team on earth you’d ever pick to win a football game these days. I’m just hoping Cam Newton puts on a better show on national TV than he did on that Thursday night thumping by the Giants, just so there’s something to watch here.
Last week: 8-6