What a disaster. One week ago, I was living the prognosticator’s dream, with my eyes on an epic 50 games over .500 season. I wasn’t just living the good life, I was eating ambrosia with the gods. But today, I stand before you a broken man. My kingdom lies in ruins at my feet. That’s what a 3-13 week will to do to you. Yep, in the crapshoot that is the NFL, life changes that fast.
Making matters worse, this week is already off to a bad start. A plethora of tough breaks and poor play from the Packers allowed Dallas to cover the spread, meaning I’m going to have to dig out of an 0-1 hole. Any other week, and I wouldn’t even be breaking a sweat. But this isn’t any other week. Right now, my confidence is shot and I’m as skittish as David Carr in a collapsing pocket. So I guess there’s nothing else to do but get back in the huddle, call the play, and hope like heck these pretty white gloves can work their magic.
On to the week 13 picks (home team in caps):
Houston (+3 ½) over TENNESSEE
On the plus side, at least the Vince vs. Mario talk has calmed down of late. On the not so plus side, horrible things happen to the Texans when these two teams face off. I do think Houston will keep it close. They usually do. But I also expect the nightmare to continue, and VY to play his best game of the season.
Titans 23 – Texans 20
ST. LOUIS (-3) over Atlanta
No Marc Bulger for the Rams. He’s still suffering from a concussion. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Joey Harrington has no such issues, so he’ll be playing.
Rams 31 – Falcons 27
WASHINGTON (-6) over Buffalo
You never know how a team will react to tragedy. Here’s hoping the ‘Skins honor Sean Taylor with their best performance of the season.
Redskins 27 – Bills 10
Detroit (+3 ½) over MINNESOTA
I’m really starting to hate the Lions. They’ve stymied me at just about every turn this season. So consider this your last chance, Jon Shitna. If you blow this game, you can kiss my support goodbye. You’re shaking, I know.
Lions 27 – Vikings 24
Jacksonville (+6 ½) over INDIANAPOLIS
I do not trust the Jags at all. Every year about this time, people start talking about how underrated they are. And every year, they reveal their true colors and show themselves to be nothing but a slightly above average team. Will this year be any different? I doubt it. But I will say this: The Jags do match up well with Indy. So there’s no reason they can’t keep this game close.
Colts 17 – Jaguars 13
MIAMI (-1 ½) over New York Jets
In the history of the NFL has an 0-11 team ever been favored to win? Better question: Why on earth am I picking them? Are the Jets really that bad? I’m afraid so.
Dolphins 13 – Jets 10
KANSAS CITY (+6) over San Diego
Doesn’t look like Brodie Croyle is going to play this week for Kansas City, which is a good thing. Man, what has happened to the quarterback position in the NFL? Among the starters this week: Damon Huard, Vinny Testaverde, John Beck, Tavaris Jackson, Joey Harrington, Gus Frerotte, Rex Grossman, Trent Dilfer and Kyle Boller. I mean, all those guys belong in NFL Europe, right? Football is the most popular sport in America. How can’t we produce 32 decent starting quarterbacks? Am I asking too much?
Chiefs 23 – Chargers 20
Seattle (+3) over PHILADELPHIA
So the Eagles played their best game of the season Sunday night. Big deal. They still lost, didn’t they? Does anyone actually think they’ll duplicate that performance? Put me in the “No freaking way” camp.
Seahawks 24 – Eagles 20
San Francisco (+3) over CAROLINA
I know Vinny is supposed to be starting, so we should all be spared a David Carr sighting this week. However, Testaverde was supposed to play last week, too, until his prehistoric back tightened up on him Sunday morning. So unless someone can promise me Carr’s not stepping on the field, I’ll be taking the 49ers, thanks.
49ers 17 – Panthers 14
Tampa Bay (+3 ½) over NEW ORLEANS
If Jeff Garcia were healthy, this would be my lock of the week. But he’s iffy for Sunday, so this game is a toss-up. Still, I like Tampa’s defense to at least keep things close. Especially against a New Orleans offensive attack that is nowhere near as explosive as people are led to believe.
Buccaneers 17 – Saints 16
Cleveland (+1) over ARIZONA
You know how I feel about road favorites, but the Browns are rolling and Arizona is the perfect picture of mediocrity. Kind of like James Blunt.
Browns 31 – Cardinals 23
OAKLAND (+3 ½) over Denver
The Broncos blew their season last week in Chicago. That’s not the kind of thing from which you quickly recover.
Broncos 20 – Raiders 17
CHICAGO (+2) over New York Giants
If Eli’s four-pick day surprised you last week, you must be a soccer fan. Because anyone who’s seen this kid play understands he’s always been a disaster waiting to happen. At this point, it’s fair to wonder whether that’s ever going to change. My guess is no.
Bears 24 – Giants 23
PITTSBURGH (-7) over Cincinnati
True, Pittsburgh has not impressed the last two weeks. But a visit from the Bengals should be just the thing to stir them from their slumber.
Steelers 31 – Bengals 17
New England (-20) over BALTIMORE
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My lock of the week. Not only are the Ravens impotent offensively, their ballyhooed defense is but a shell of its former self. And when you’re playing the best team in the NFL, that’s a problem. Especially when that team is out for blood after a week’s worth of listening to people go ga-ga about their close shave with the Eagles.
Patriots 38 – Ravens 10
Last week against the spread: 3-13 (92-74-10 in ’07) Last week straight-up: 7-9 (103-73 in ’07)
- Jason Friedman