By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Bye weeks are funny creatures. It seems that no matter when a bye comes in a season for a particular team, the players, coaches, owners and beat writers will all rush to tell you that it’s coming at a good time.

Don’t believe me?

Week 4:Colts enjoy bye week to rest, reflect on start of new era”

Week 5: “Jones: Bye Week Comes At Good Time For Cowboys”

Week 6: “Lovie Smith says bye week comes at an ideal time for Bears”

Week 7 (two-parter for hilarity’s sake): “Bye Week Could Be Blessing – Philadelphia Eagles” and “Vick: ‘It’s a good time for a bye. I think we need it'”

Week 8:Bye comes at the right time for struggling Ravens”

Week 9: “Patriots’ bye week comes at opportune time

Week 10:Bye week comes at perfect time for Packers”

Week 11:Bye Comes At Perfect Time For Seattle Seahawks”


Maybe there is some sort of miracle for every single team which leads to the perfect bye-week situation for all 32 of them. Or maybe everybody just likes a few days off from work.

Either way, I’m glad things get back to normal with 14 Sunday games each week, so without further ado, let’s get into this week’s picks.

(Home team in caps; Thursday lines)

New Orleans (+3.5) over ATLANTA
I think the Falcons will win this one 100-99.

CHICAGO (-3.5) over Seattle
The Seahawks are 1-5 on the road, with losses to powerhouses like the Cardinals, Rams and Dolphins. The only thing the Seahawks can do is run the ball, but against Chicago, that will be neutralized.

Ridiculous Quote From Last Week’s Picks: “I’m picking the Vikings to win [over the Bears] outright.”

Note: By halftime I was pounding my head into the wall. I took Christian Ponder on the road again, and I got what I deserved.

Houston (-6) over TENNESSEE
I make it a point not to ever let one week’s performance dictate a pick the following week. I make an exception for this rule, though, when a team loses to Jacksonville. If you take the team that lost to Jacksonville last week, then what are you really? Not somebody I want to know, frankly.

(This is sad, by the way.)

RQFLWP: “This might not just be the easiest pick of the day. It may be the easiest pick of the whole week.”

Note: I realized quickly that the early game on Thanksgiving is never an easy pick, especially when a team played nearly five full quarters on Sunday then had to play at what felt like 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. Seriously, Matt Schaub looked like he was going to throw up the entire game.

New England (-8.5) over MIAMI
The Patriots taught me last week on Thanksgiving night that I should just stop picking against them. It never works out well. Sure, they’re only 7-4 against the spread, but when they cover, they really cover, so if you think they’re going to win the game, you’re best to just trust them to cover the spread.

RQFLWP: “With the Jets’ offense clicking last week, and with the Patriots having minimal time to practice with their completely reconstructed offense — not to mention a Chandler Jones injury on defense, too — the Jets are the way to go.”

Note: Patriots 49, Jets 19, Me 0.

BUFFALO (-6) over Jacksonville
The Bills have won by six or more points twice all season, but this week, they’re playing Jacksonville. In Buffalo, where it will be cold and rainy. If the Jaguars are terrible under the warm Florida sunshine, what will become of them in Buffalo?

Indianapolis (+4.5) over DETROIT
Every week, I remind you that the Lions are the least trustworthy “good” team against the spread. Last week’s push on Thanksgiving doesn’t change that.

RQFLWP: “I’m thinking the Colts win 24-13.”

Note: They won 20-13. That may be the closest to being right I’ve ever been in my entire life. Please send me toys, food and prizes.

Carolina (-3) over KANSAS CITY
Romeo Crennel is still the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. This confuses me.

The Chiefs have been underdogs 10 times this season, getting an average of about six points per game. They’ve covered just four times, but in those games they were getting an average of more than nine points. So I mean, if you want to take them this week, getting just a field goal, be my guest. Just call me on Sunday night to let me know how it turned out for you.

Arizona (+4.5) over NEW YORK JETS
No team has troubled me more than the Jets this season. And I finally hopped off the “I still believe in the Jets” bandwagon two weeks ago, right before they steamrolled the Rams. So I hopped back aboard the following week, when their quarterback was running full speed into offensive linemen, their kick returners were throwing touchdown passes to the other team and a man in a full turkey suit berated his favorite team’s players on their way to the locker room.

Because both of these offenses are so horrible, and because no Jets fan wants to pay between $50 and $500 to watch the Jets play football, I suggest the teams engage in some sort of obstacle course competition that looks like this. That would be awesome to watch, and maybe Mark Sanchez would actually look where he’s running if there was a fiery log flying toward him.

(Side note: It says a lot about how few people on this planet would actually put money on the Cardinals that the Jets are a 4.5-point favorite just a week after they essentially got pantsed on national TV.)

San Francisco (-7) over ST. LOUIS
I don’t ever claim to actually know anything when it comes to sports, because I think when you start believing you know things to be true, you end up looking like a fool. However, I can’t help but remain appalled to see how many writers, reporters and talking heads are acting as if Jim Harbaugh is nuts for switching quarterbacks midseason when the Niners are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

We know that Alex Smith stinks. He’s Alex Smith! Along with David Carr and JaMarcus Russel, he’s a member of the holy triumvirate of terrible No. 1 overall picks in the past decade. He’s thrown 81 touchdowns (and 63 INTs) in 79 career games. He throws the ball seven yards on 12-yard comebacks, and he went a whopping 12-for-26 for 196 yards in the Niners’ playoff loss last January. He stinks. We know this.

Colin Kaepernick may not be a great quarterback — we can’t know that yet — but he’s thrown for 230 or more yards in consecutive starts. Alex Smith never did that in his entire rookie season, and he did it just once in his second year in 2006. And he didn’t do it again until the middle of the 2009 season. Alex Smith stinks.

Minnesota (+8.5) over GREEN BAY
Aaron Rodgers has averaged just 215 passing yards over the past four weeks. I don’t know what’s going on, but 11 sacks probably haven’t helped matters. Minnesota’s pass defense (14th in yards, 13th in sacks) is decent enough to at least keep Rodgers somewhat in check.

Tampa Bay (+7) over DENVER
No team gets less respect from Vegas than the Bucs, and their 9-2 record against the spread is proof of that.

RQFLWP: “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.”

Note: I’ll never be convinced that last week’s debacle was not simply Peyton Manning holding a personal vendetta against me and my picks. There’s just no other explanation.

OAKLAND (-1.5) over Cleveland
Hey if this is a game you’d like to bet on then here is a link you should probably click.

Don’t ever say I don’t care about you.

Cincinnati (-1.5) over SAN DIEGO
The Bengals have no issue at all when it comes to beating up on bad teams.

Norv Turner + fourth-and-29 + six losses in seven games + Norv Turner again + still Norv Turner = bad team.

BALTIMORE (-6) over Pittsburgh
This line is sort of made up. I’ve seen it from anywhere between 1.5 and 8.5, so I’m going with six to be fair.

Regardless, I’d take the 8.5-point line anyway. I see headlines that say Ben Roethlisberger is “making progress,” but when your injury is such that getting hit hard will make your rib puncture your aorta, “making progress” isn’t really good enough. And without Roethlisberger, that Pittsburgh offense turned the ball over eight times last week in a loss to the Browns. Try that against Baltimore and see how well it turns out.

DALLAS (-10) over Philadelphia
It is true that the Cowboys have only won one game this year by 10 or more points … but that game was against the Eagles, and it was three weeks ago, and it was in Philadelphia. Add in that the Cowboys enter this game with an extra three days of rest, while the Eagles are coming off a short week after playing on Monday night, and it is the best you can feel while picking the Cowboys -10 in a football game when they’re coming off a seven-point home loss to 5-6 Washington.

I think you really have to wonder if the Eagles are going to win again this season. I say no. And you have to wonder what exactly it will take for Andy Reid to lose his job. A 12-game losing streak to end the season just might do it.

WASHINGTON (+2) over New York Giants
It somehow took 12 weeks for the NFL to get Robert Griffin on national TV, and all he did was go out and throw four touchdowns. I know the Giants are feeling good after the big win over the Packers, but they’re still the same Giants who got smoked by the Bengals two weeks before that.

Plus, that evil, arrogant Tom Coughlin is due for some serious karmic payback after leaving his quarterback in to — gasp — throw passes in the fourth quarter despite being up by 28 points! Cheater jerk arrogant hubris Coughlin!

Last week: 8-7-1
Season: 82-90-4

Read more from Michael by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.


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