By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You play. To win. The game.
The famous adage managed to become the most memorable part of Herm Edwards’ coaching career, even though that career ended with a lowly win-loss record of 54-74.
Now, in a losing rut of my own here with these stupid godforsaken terrible no-good stupid stupid stupid NFL picks, I could go one of two ways. I could follow the Herm Edwards model, trumpeting my desire to win while routinely falling flat on my face. Or I could take the road less traveled. I could embrace my role in society as the world’s biggest loser, the man who defies all odds by losing at an unfathomable rate — a rate so unbelievable that folks will start to wonder if it’s not being accomplished on purpose.
It’s the same way I play Keno, to be honest. While all you fools pick 11 or 12 numbers hoping to land a jackpot, I pick the 12 numbers I don’t expect to see pop up. And when they don’t? That’s four big ones in my pocket. Four smackaroons, as they say on the street.
You can chase your jackpots. I’ll be sticking with my oh-fers for $4.
(This is all just a terrible way of disguising my deep, deep shame from the first five weeks of the season. But it shouldn’t suggest that my confidence is low. Quite the contrary. All I need is a 15-0 record this week and I’m almost back to .500, and then the season can actually begin. No big deal, people.)
(Also, because of the brutal record, the picks are going to be short. You can only rant and rave about how terrible the Bears or Browns are when you’re arguably much worse at what you do.*)
(*Temporarily speaking, of course. I’m much better than the Browns in the long run.)
(OK. Let’s go.)
(Home team in CAPS; Thursday lines)
Denver (-3) over SAN DIEGO
The Chargers got mad at their kicker for smiling after losing on a botched hold on what would have been the game-tying field goal but instead led to their fourth heartbreaking loss of the young season. That one sentence perfectly sums up the 2016 Chargers season.
TENNESSEE (-7) over Cleveland
How dumb are the Browns? I mean, really, you’re 0-5, and you cut a man named Clipboard Jesus — a guy who sacrificed his body last week in a blowout loss in front of thousands of Patriots fans in Cleveland? Have you guys never heard of karma?
BUFFALO (-8) over San Francisco
Before you share your opinion on one Mr. Colin Kaepernick, no matter what it is, let me give you a spoiler alert on that opinion: It stinks! Thank you for your time. (In an unrelated story, if you had told me in early September that I’d be taking the Bills by eight over anyone, I probably would have saved myself the trouble and quit the picks column right there on the spot. I wish someone had told me that.)
CHICAGO (-2.5) over Jacksonville
And we wonder why NFL ratings are on the decline.
Pittsburgh (-8) over MIAMI
The Dolphins haven’t even covered a spread since Week 1. The Titans just ran for 235 yards against them. What a mess. Good luck with Le’Veon.
NEW ENGLAND (-9) over Cincinnati
The Bengals just got run over by a rookie running back and a rookie quarterback. How will they fare against the best QB in history who happens to be playing his first home game since being suspended and thus unleashing an incredible level of fury on whichever defense is unfortunate enough to have to deal with him on this day? I think he’ll probably do all right.
Philadelphia (-2.5) over WASHINGTON
Only because I want to badly to buy the hype on a good young quarterback. With Manning gone, with Brady at 39, with Newton looking not-so-great, I’m trying to get excited about some great passers rising to fame sooner than later. The good karma from that $500 tip this week can’t hurt, either. (Are you paying attention, Cleveland Browns?)
NEW ORLEANS (+3) over Carolina
I thought I was being clever, continuing to pick Carolina even as the losses started adding up. I was not being clever. Now, I like the idea of the rare opportunity to take the Saints as a home underdog, a position from which they’re 3-1 since 2009.
Los Angeles (+3) over DETROIT
Who is watching this game? If you are watching this game, I sternly offer you this advice: do not watch this game.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-3) over Baltimore
John Harbaugh’s team is 8-13 since putting in a phone call to the Colts to tip them off about some football tomfoolery in New England after blowing two different two-touchdown leads as well as a three-point fourth-quarter lead on a night when they didn’t know the rules of the game. Life, truly, comes at you fast.
OAKLAND (-1) over Kansas City
The Raiders are the NFL’s most fun team. This is a true statement of fact. I can’t believe it either.
Atlanta (+6.5) over SEATTLE
Picking the Falcons now is the classic case of buying in way too late, but at the same time, have the Seahawks looked like a team that can handily beat an actual contending-type of opponent? I need me those points.
Dallas (+4.5) over GREEN BAY
Dez Bryant is returning to the scene of the crime. Look out.
HOUSTON (-3) over Indianapolis
Until Ryan Grigson learns that offensive lines are important in football, I’ll happily and easily pick against the Colts. On a sidenote, special shoutout to whoever’s fault it is for giving us two Houston prime-time games in a span of three weeks. That’s awesome. Love it. Lastly I’d just like to note that Brock Osweiler has completed 58 percent of his passes and has thrown more INTs (7) than TDs (6) while averaging a tick over 225 yards per game. Clearly, $37 million guaranteed doesn’t get you what it used to.
ARIZONA (-7.5) over New York Jets
Gross! Another Monday night ratings windfall for the National Football League!
As a reminder, these picks are guaranteed* to either go a perfect 15-0 or an imperfect 0-15. I just don’t know which one at this moment in time.
*Not at all guaranteed.
Last week: 6-8