|Stevie Johnson, When it Counts.|
Happy Sunday everyone! I'll get through this semi-quickly, since I'm running out of time. Last week, I went 11-5 Overall and 8-8 ATS, which is for all accounts pretty decent. (And I nailed the Thursday Night pick this week!) I don't even want to talk that much about the Bills; I'll get to that in the picks. Sorry, no huge theme for the column. Just picks. It's final exams time.
Tennessee at Buffalo (-1)
Last week was a pretty classic sucker punch Bills loss. The team came out and actually played well against the Jets, seemingly saying, "Oh, you thought we were going to just get blown out? No! We're going to play well and make this loss even more infuriating!" Just when you think it's done, they pull you back in. (As a side note: I thought Stevie Johnson's TD celebration was hilarious, going to the ground and drawing a flag was not, along with Dave Rayner's inability to kick off correctly. And Stevie's drop in the clutch? Well, no one likes that, and if he wants #1 receiver money, he has to perform in the clutch.) Anyway, I'm not getting suckered into picking the Bills again. The Titans have a division title to play for now that TJ Yates is starting at QB for the Texans, and the Bills still have no defense and a streaky offense. It might be close, but not seeing the Bills winning this one; they've destroyed my homerism this season.
Pick: Titans win, cover
Kansas City at Chicago (-7.5)
Donovan McNabb could be starting for the Bears and I'd still pick them. Tyler Palko is that bad as the Chiefs' QB. The Bears have the defense and special teams to get it done; Caleb Hanie needs to just hand off to Matt Forte and limit mistakes, and it should be smooth sailing for the Bears. Also, Bears fans hoping to sign Donovan McNabb- really? Why would you want that ever? McNabb, at this point, is leagues away from Hanie. Not worth it.
Pick: Bears win, cover
Oakland at Miami (-3.5)
Miami is actually pretty good. Matt Moore is inexplicably playing well, and the defense, which was very good last year, has returned to that form. Oakland won mostly on field goals last week against a weakened Bears team; and they're coming on a cross country flight. I'll take the Fins to win and further shake up the AFC West division race.
Pick: Dolphins win, cover
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-6.5)
Cinci just barely scraped by the Browns last week, and now come into Pittsburgh. The Bengals still have a good shot at the playoffs, but I can't see them beating an elite team like the Steelers. Steelers have too many weapons on offense and a better defense than the Bengals. The Bengals will stick around, but eventually, the cream rises to the top.
Pick: Steelers win, Bengals cover
Baltimore (-7) at Cleveland
The Ravens just came off a big win against the 49ers; and here comes the inevitable letdown against a crappy opponent that has characterized the Ravens this season. The Browns remain the most uninteresting team in the NFL; literally nothing jumps out at me to talk about. The Ravens have to break out of this play-down-to-their-opponent funk sometime (their coach has been preaching it this week), and I guess I'll go with this week as the one. Although I could definitely be cursing this when it's 13-3 Browns in the 4th quarter.
Pick: Ravens win, Browns cover
NY Jets (-3) at Washington
The Jets are still not that good; Mark Sanchez had the worst 4-TD quarterback performance I've ever seen, and the defense is not impenetrable anymore. Good for the Jets, the Redskins are still pretty bad, despite Rex Grossman's good play the last three weeks. Can't see Rex doing much better than Fitz did last week against the Jets, and the Redskins have a defense that's as good as the Bills- which all leads to another Jets win. As much as it pains me to say.
Pick: Jets win, cover
Atlanta (-1.5) at Houston
Welcome to the T.J Yates era in Houston! Can't think of anyone successful who goes by the name "T.J"in the adult world- so that's never a good sign. The Falcons should be able to stack the box and prevent the Texans run game from taking over the game, forcing Yates to throw. On offense, the Falcons offense goes against the newly tough Houston defense. In the end, I think the Falcons offense will be able to have more success against the Texans defense than vice-versa. Which leads to a Falcons win, but I doubt it will be that easy.
Pick: Falcons win, cover
Carolina (-1.5) at Tampa Bay
Since I'm writing this an hour before the games begin, I get the benefit of knowing that Josh Freeman is out for this game. Which means that an already stagnant Bucs offense will be worse off. The Panthers have no defense, but against Josh Johnson, it won't matter as much. Cam Newton will be able to get it done against a mediocre Tampa defense, and we've got ourselves a fourth Carolina win. Oh yeah, Josh Freeman injured himself because he went to a firing range with an injured thumb on his throwing hand and decided to shoot with a DESERT EAGLE. This story should be much bigger.
Pick: Panthers win, cover
Detroit at New Orleans (-9)
The Lions are without Sir-Foot-Stomper Suh, and their defense already wasn't that good with him on the field. A week after being lit up by Aaron Rodgers, well, Drew Brees comes into town, and it won't be much prettier. Brees is well on his way to breaking Marino's season-passing-yards record, and the Lions won't be a hiccup in that chase. The Lions are still woefully one dimensional on offense (chuck it to Calvin Johnson!), and they will not be able to keep up with Brees and the Saints.
Pick: Saints win, cover
Denver (-1) at Minnesota
Denver is without Von Miller (another benefit to writing so late!), meaning the defense that has kept Tim Tebow is every game will not be quite as good. Lucky for them, Adrian Peterson is still out for the Vikings, and Christian Ponder isn't quite lighting up the stat sheet these days. Once again, Tebow should be able to pull this one out; one they play a good offense without Von Miller, this might be a different story.
Pick: Broncos win, cover
St. Louis at San Francisco (-14)
Yep. St. Louis is that bad, San Francisco has a chance to clinch the division. The NFC West: Clinched by Week 13! And it's not even close!
Pick: 49ers win, cover
Dallas (-4.5) at Arizona
Dallas, for some reason, sucks at Arizona, but Kevin Kolb is returning for the Cardinals, and yes, it's a bad thing when he returns as starting QB. He's taken the crown of "ill advised back foot throws" from Jay Cutler. Dallas will probably win this game; they have more talent all over the field; but I'll take the Cardinals to cover, just in case Dallas continues to struggle in Arizona.
Pick: Cowboys win, Cardinals cover
Green Bay (-6.5) at NY Giants
Remember what Drew Brees did to the Giants last week? Aaron Rodgers has been better than Brees this season; this should be a cakewalk for Rodgers and the Packers' extremely efficient offense. The Giants are not as bad as previous Giants team that swooned in December; I still see them grabbing the division or a wild card. This week, though, will not be pretty.
Pick: Packers win, cover
Indianapolis at New England (-20.5)
Peyton Manning for MVP! There's the effect of not having Manning this year- the Patriots are twenty point favorites, and I'm very willing to take that spread, especially now that Dan Orlovsky is under center for the Colts. They might as well just put their punter at QB; it would be just as apparent that they have no interest in winning games this year.
Pick: Patriots win, cover
San Diego (-3) at Jacksonville
Screw the Chargers. I'm done believing in the talent this team as long as Norv Turner is still the coach. Jacksonville should be energized under their new coach and still have a great defense. Enough for me to believe that they can pull out a win over the underachieving, listless Chargers.
Pick: Jaguars win, cover
Season:114-62 Overall, 88-84-4 ATS (not including Thursday's results)