BOSTON (CBS) — This really isn’t fun anymore.
The NFL has broken me. And it’s not the first time. In fact, it’s not even the first time this season.
I understand that I’m not alone, that the widespread mediocrity around the league has made predictions tougher than usual, and that the general nature of the NFL is to always expect the unexpected.
Still, not even through sheer dumb luck have I been able to put together any sort of positivity this season. My best week had me with a 7-6 record, and though I haven’t yet flopped completely with a 2-14 stinker, my steady reign of failure defies all logic and explanation. Since Week 8 — which is when I think you really start to understand what teams are and how to evaluate them — I’m 38-42-3 … which stinks.
So I’m done trying to put on a happy face here. I’m now all negative, all the time. Better yet, I’ll be using the sarcasm font for most of this one, just so I don’t look like a total loser. It shouldn’t be too difficult to separate the sarcasm from the serious, but if you get confused, just assume I mean whatever makes the least sense. Got it? Let’s get to the picks, which I’m sure will all be awesome and correct.
(Home team in caps; Wednesday lines)
Houston (-3) over JACKSONVILLE
Wow, hats off to the NFL for this one, a real barn-burner, a must-see extravaganza! Thursday night football has produced such high-quality action all season, it’s only fitting that we get to see these two mighty juggernauts go head to head under the bright lights of northern Florida.
(Turning off the sarcasm font for a moment, how sad/pathetic is it that despite my joking, I know that I will be tuned into this game until the final seconds tick off the clock? Very, very pathetic. If ever there were a time for my loved ones to hold a football intervention for me, this Thursday night would be a good time. I can already see myself saying, “Hang on, can we just postpone this intervention until after this third down? I want to see if Chad Henne can complete a pass. You’re blocking the TV!”)
Oakland (+2.5) over NEW YORK JETS
The high-flying, exciting action from Thursday night is sure to pick up right where it left off when footballs are kicked off around the nation on Sunday, thanks to this marquee matchup of two great AFC contenders. The Raiders (4-8) and Jets (5-7) are contending, of course, for a higher spot in April’s draft, so it’ll be intriguing to watch who wants it more when these two take the field on Sunday.
CINCINNATI (-6) over Indianapolis
A lot will be at stake in Cincy as well, because the Bengals and Colts want to prove which team will earn the right to be known as the second-weakest AFC playoff team. The winner will be on the fast track to face the six seed, aka the worst AFC playoff team, while the loser will likely end up losing at home in the wild-card round against Kansas City. If a one-and-done home playoff loss doesn’t sound like the perfect ending to Indianapolis’ 2013 season, then you haven’t been paying much attention this year.
PHILADELPHIA (-2.5) over Detroit
Nick Foles’ magic fairy dust won’t run out of power this week, not when he’s facing the 26th-ranked passing defense.
(Never mind the fact that the Eagles are proud owners of the very-worst pass defense, and they have to defend Calvin Johnson. Nick Foles has got the magic!)
GREEN BAY (No line until Aaron Rodgers’ fate is determined but oh does it really matter? The Falcons are terrible.) over Atlanta
Pretty much have this one covered … .
Miami (+3) over PITTSBURGH
How can you not believe Mike Tomlin when he says he didn’t intentionally get in the way of Jacoby Jones??!! First of all, people in sports never tell lies, so that’s the big thing. Second, he said he was watching the return on the big video screen in the stadium. How could he know what was going on by watching that thing??!! It’s not like it was displaying the play that was taking place on the field. It was probably showing an old “Friends” rerun or something.
I believe him. That’s a lock-solid excuse if you ask me. He ought to petition that $100,000 fine. He’s innocent.
NEW ENGLAND (-11) over Cleveland
Nothing’s come easy for the Patriots this year, and with both Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell recovering from concussions, I’m sure the Browns will have no problem tearing right through Bill Belichick’s defense. The Browns are already a force when they have a terrible quarterback taking snaps. Just imagine how much better they’ll get when they have no quarterback at all. (#NoDisrespectToCalebHanie, but at the same time, #AllDisrespectToCalebHanie.)
Kansas City (-3) over WASHINGTON
The funniest part of the fiasco at the end of the Redskins’ loss on Sunday night was that Mike Shanahan and the Skins hardly even argued when the officials essentially robbed them of any chance of a comeback drive in the final minute. Even the Redskins players themselves have seemingly lost the belief that they can win football games.
BALTIMORE (-7) over Minnesota
You just have to love Minnesota’s 0-5-1 road record. “No, we haven’t yet won on the road, but we have tied! How many teams can say that?”
TAMPA BAY (-2) over Buffalo
There’s not enough sarcasm in the world to try to even pretend to make this one fun. If this game is something you’re excited to watch, then please seek help. I don’t even want to make a pick, but I did read this week that E.J. Manuel is the least-accurate passer in the league, so I’m not too hot on the Bills right now.
DENVER (-12) over Tennessee
Peyton Manning is nine touchdowns shy of tying the single-season touchdown record. He may break it this week. Eric Decker may catch them all.
ARIZONA (-6) over St. Louis
Just when you thought this weekend of football couldn’t get any better, we get this spectacle.
New York Giants (+3) over SAN DIEGO
Eli Manning was interviewed on the field after beating Washington on Sunday night and was told that his team still has a chance of making the playoffs. His words said something to the effect of “Yeah, we just have to win games,” but his body language and facial expression essentially said, “You are nuts, person.”
But let’s see how the Giants (2-4 road record) do against the Chargers (2-3 home record). Winner gets a worse draft pick.
SAN FRANCISCO (-2.5) over Seattle
It’s important this week for the Seahawks, after disposing of their main NFC competition on Monday night, to quickly regroup and refocus their collective effort on a short week to prepare for a road game against last year’s NFC champion. I have no doubt that Pete Carroll, a disciplinarian who always keeps his players in line, is the perfect man for the job. No doubt.
(By the way, nothing has ever bothered me so much as this gif of Pete Carroll does. It just perfectly sums up everything I can’t stand about the guy. Has he ever actually spoken into his headset during a game, or is he just out there to chew gum and cheer on the guys? Get a job, Pete.)
NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) over Carolina
Drew Brees and the Saints are not the team that likes to get embarrassed on national television, and they’re not going to let it happen twice in six days. Period.
Dallas (+1) over CHICAGO
What better way to end the most exciting week of the NFL season than having the privilege of seeing the Bears, who are the most consistently entertaining team in the league?
Thanks, NFL. We should all mail some gift baskets to the league office as a sign of our gratefulness for this weekend. You’re the best.
Last week: 7-8-1