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BOSTON (CBS) — Every man has his breaking point, and I think I’ve reached mine.
There’s no way to keep track of how many hours I put into making these picks each week, from watching just about every game played across the league to digging through endless piles of statistics to spending energy on making bad jokes full of snark, writing this picks column is truly a labor of love. Yet it hasn’t loved me back this year, as evidenced by my abysmal 35-53-4 record. It is straight-up difficult to be that bad, and I’ve now essentially turned into the mid-20s former high school football player who still wears his varsity jacket and tells people how good he used to be. I used to be able to successfully make NFL picks! Really, I was good! I’ll show you an old tape of how good I was!
Alas, I’m apparently not very good anymore, but I may have passed the power on to my wife, who in this column will be known only as Sweet D. She is a first grade teacher who hardly watches any football at all, but she’s good at this. You see, two years ago, she thought it would be fun to compete against me in picks, because she enjoyed seeing how badly people make fun of me on the Internet. And she is killing me. Just destroying me. She’s 50-38-4 this year, good for a .543 success rate, which is a bit better than my .389 percentage.
So I went to the master and asked her what went into some of her decision-making last week in some of the picks which I got wrong but she got right.
On why she picked Kansas City to cover an 8.5-point spread over Oakland: “I don’t know. Sometimes I just close my eyes and whatever name pops into my head first, that’s usually what I go with if I’m not sure. But I think that’s why I picked them, because they were favored by 8.5 and that meant there was a lot of confidence in them.
On why she picked Jacksonville to stay within 26.5 points of Denver: “Well, I just thought that was impossible and silly. That seemed like a very extravagant choice to make, but I guess some people are risk takers [dismissive laugh in my face].”
On why she picked New England to beat unbeaten New Orleans: “Ride or die. New England all the way. I do like the Saints, but I thought that New England had to make up for last week, so I felt like they were going to play better.”
On why she picked the winless Steelers to beat the New York Jets: “The Jets are really bad. They’re not very good. … I do hate the Steelers, but I just had a feeling.”
On why she picked San Francisco to cover an 11.5-point spread over Arizona: “It’s just stuck in my head that Arizona was a bad team in Jerry Maguire. It’s just there. I don’t know anything about them, except for that fictional depiction of them. That’s why. And it hasn’t led me astray thus far.”
So there you have it. She’s got gut feelings and impressions from a movie that’s 17 years old, and she’s 15 games up on me through six weeks. This week, in lieu of Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week’s Picks, I’ll include D’s picks as well as her reasoning for each. We do our picks separately, so the fact that we have so many of the same ones this week could be good news for me.
(Home team in caps; Wednesday lines)
Seattle (-6.5) over ARIZONA
The Cardinals are a perfectly average team, but they can’t hang with the big boys. Granted, it’s a Thursday night game, which means a thousand nutty things are probably going to happen, but you can’t make a pick based on the unpredictable.
D’s pick: Seattle (-6.5)
D’s reasoning: “I think we’ve been over this before. Jerry Maguire.”
San Diego (-8) over JACKSONVILLE
Jacksonville stinks at football.
D’s pick: San Diego (-8)
D’s reasoning: “I just have this feeling that the Chargers are better. And it’s Florida. And we know how we all feel about Florida.”
DETROIT (-2) over Cincinnati
I just continue to be unimpressed with the Cincinnati Bengals overall. They make dumb decisions and mistakes in the fourth quarter, Andy Dalton connects with A.J. Green just 50 percent of the time he throws to the receiver, and they continue to hand the ball off to their second-best running back more often than their best. They were lucky to squeak past the Bills in overtime, and they needed a 10-year storm to prevent the Patriots from coming back a week earlier.
And look out for the Lions. They’ve won big in their two home games, outscoring the Vikings and Bears 74-56, and with six of their remaining 10 games being at Ford Field, we could be looking at the Lions besting the Bears and Packers in the NFC North this season.
D’s pick:DETROIT (-2)
D’s reasoning: “I just closed my eyes, and that was what popped in my head.”
MIAMI (-7.5) over Buffalo
It’s been a while since the Dolphins have put it all together, and considering I bought into them early on, I’d be a man of little principle if I didn’t trust them coming out of their bye facing a team with perhaps the grisliest quarterback situation in the league.
D’s pick:MIAMI (-7.5)
D’s reasoning: “Oh, I guess that goes against what I said before about Florida. … I don’t really know. I have no feelings toward either one of the teams.”
ATLANTA (-8) over Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers are such a lovely little mess. Just an absolute disaster. Considering I think college coaches are some of the slimiest folks in the business, I can’t say I feel all that bad for Greg Schiano. He may be the nicest guy in the world for all I know, but I, um, don’t think he is.
If the Falcons can’t win this game, they might as well cancel the rest of the season.
D’s pick: ATLANTA (-8)
D’s reasoning: “I feel like Atlanta’s a good team usually, and you told me Tampa Bay’s record and it wasn’t really good.”
New England (-3.5) over NEW YORK JETS
Did somebody make a mistake with this line? I mean I know that Jerod Mayo’s gone, and I know that these two teams played a pretty close game early in the season, but come on. The Jets just lost to the previously winless Steelers, while the Patriots were beating the undefeated Saints. The Jets will probably be able to run it up the gut with Vince Wilfork and Mayo not on the field, but come on. For real. As a wise woman once said, ride or die with New England.
D’s pick: New England (-3.5)
D’s reasoning: “I like the Patriots better than the Jets. They [stink].” (First grade teachers don’t use bad words.)
Dallas (+2.5) over PHILADELPHIA
The NFC East has been a real hoot this season. This epic battle for first place between two 3-3 teams should keep that trend alive.
The Cowboys have been terrible on the road this season, so this isn’t a slam dunk pick by any means, but I believe it would be wise to go ahead and take the points any time Philadelphia and its 32nd-ranked defense is favored to win a football game. I know Dallas’ defense is only two spots better, but Dallas had that high school game against the Broncos which altered too many stats, and also has the second-ranked scoring offense.
They’re close, but the points are the right choice.
D’s pick: PHILADELPHIA (-2.5)
D’s reasoning: “They’re home. So I went with the favorite.”
Chicago (+1) over WASHINGTON
It’s really difficult to pick NFL games when special teams play as big a factor as they did Sunday night for the Redskins. My goodness.
The bad part for the Redskins is that they’re not very good, even when their special teams aren’t losing football games for them.
D’s pick: Chicago (+1)
D’s reasoning: “Bears seem strong. Really, that’s what I thought. I don’t support the Redskins name. That’s terrible. That’s just as bad as Christopher Columbus.”
St. Louis (+6) over CAROLINA
Here we have the truly unpredictable game of the week. A Rams team that was 0-2 on the road before blowing the doors off Houston last weekend, and a 1-3 Panthers team that likewise blew out the Vikings in Minnesota last weekend. You just have to figure that neither team is going to be able to play two straight games very well, so the six points have to be your best friend.
D’s pick: St. Louis (+6)
D’s reasoning: “Umm … well … I decided that, you know, their city is doing pretty well right now with sports, so they’re probably feeling great, so I went with them.”
San Francisco (-4) over TENNESSEE
Frank Gore is going to run wild. I can say the same thing about the Titans that I can about the Cardinals: A perfectly fine, mediocre team that stands no chance against the best teams in the league.
D’s pick: San Francisco (-4)
D’s reasoning: “I love San Francisco. I just feel a tie to them. I feel like they’re good. Are they good? (Yeah.) Oh, good. So I’m right.”
GREEN BAY (-10) over Cleveland
I was all in on Cleveland last week. The Browns had their chance, and they blew it. As far as I’m concerned, me and Cleveland are done.
D’s pick: GREEN BAY (-10)
D’s reasoning: “I always pick Green Bay. I have good feelings towards them, I feel like they’re a good team, good players, I don’t really hear any controversy about them, and it’s kind of funny that the whole city owns them. I think that’s pretty cool.”
KANSAS CITY (-6.5) over Houston
This goes against my better judgment, and I can’t believe I’m doing it, but the Texans are that bad. Still, I won’t jump on the Chiefs believers bandwagons. After they win this game by 25 points, they’ll be 7-0. But right now, those six teams that the Chiefs beat have a combined record of 11-25. When they beat the 2-4 Texans, that record will be even worse. Woopty-do.
D’s pick: KANSAS CITY (-6.5)
D’s reasoning: “I don’t remember why. … Probably because Kansas City is at home.”
Baltimore (+1) over PITTSBURGH
I hate to admit it, because I didn’t think it to be possible after Week 1, but the Ravens are steadily working their way toward being OK. The Steelers? They would kill to be even in the same zip code as “OK.”
D’s pick: PITTSBURGH (-1)
D’s reasoning: “Ugh. I wasn’t happy about it. But, I just couldn’t shake Pittsbrugh from my brain. I feel like they have something to prove, because they [stink], and they’re at home, and they don’t want to [stink] in front of their fans.” (Seriously, with the language!)
Denver (-6.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
The Colts’ defense got exposed on Monday night in San Diego. And if Phillip Rivers makes you look that awful every third down, imagine what Peyton Manning is going to do in his return to Indianapolis — especially after a sub-par week against Jacksonville, and double especially after everyone spent the week talking about how Jim Irsay got rid of Peyton in order to win more championships. Oh man. I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw 10 touchdowns.
D’s pick: Denver (-6.5)
D’s reasoning: “I know Denver’s really good. I can’t stand Peyton, but I know he’s damn good.”
Minnesota (+3.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants are favored. Ha! Good one! (Realizes Josh Freeman is starting for Minnesota. Excitement evaporates. Still picks the Vikings)
D’s pick: NEW YORK GIANTS (-3.5)
D’s reasoning: “Well the Giants are at home. Haven’t they been struggling too? I feel like they’ve got to prove something so they might win at home. I feel like teams do better when they’re home and they have their fans.”
Considering we have all but three games picked the same this week, hopefully I start to do better at home too. I’m tired of losing.
Last week: 5-9-1
D’s Season: 50-38-4