Of course, if I really wanted to finish with a flourish, I’d simply steal a peek at John Royal’s picks and just do the opposite of his suggestions. Why this thought hasn’t occurred to me before now is the head scratcher to end all head scratchers. Hopefully the people actually wagering on these games are quicker to catch on.
Anyway, on to the rest of the week 15 picks (home team in caps):
Cincinnati (-8 ½) over SAN FRANCISCO
I hate taking the Bengals here. I really do. For one, they’re road favorites and for two, well, they’re the Bengals. But if you think I’m siding with a 49ers team featuring a Shaun Hill/Chris Weinke quarterback combo, you’re crazy.
Bengals 23 – 49ers 13
Arizona (+3 ½) over NEW ORLEANS
The fact these teams still have a playoff pulse disgusts me. They’re both garbage. If the Texans are really serious about making a playoff push next season, they should apply for permission to join the NFC. What a joke of a conference.
Cardinals 24 – Saints 20
TAMPA BAY (-13 ½) over Atlanta
Poor Atlanta. That city doesn’t deserve to suffer like this. Hold up. These are the same fans who still do the Tomahawk Chop! Of course they deserve this!
Buccaneers 30 – Falcons 10
MIAMI (+3 ½) over Baltimore
I know, I know. I’m taking Miami again. I can’t help myself. I just don’t think they’re going winless this season. And let’s face it, Baltimore isn’t exactly a juggernaut.
Dolphins 19 – Ravens 17
Buffalo (+5 ½) over CLEVELAND
Let’s see now… The Browns keep every game close, win or lose. And I’m supposed to believe that’s going to change against a scappy Bills team fighting for its playoff life? No thanks.
Browns 27 – Bills 24
Green Bay (-8 ½) over ST. LOUIS
I’d usually be wary of taking the Packers here since this is a prime candidate for a sleepwalk game. But Green Bay has been a great road team this year, and they’ve done a good job of taking care of business and putting opponents away. I see no reason that won’t continue against a beaten, bruised and bad Rams team.
Packers 31 – Rams 17
PITTSBURGH (-3 ½) over Jacksonville
The Steelers are back home and have something to prove after that ugly loss to New England. Plus it just feels like the Jags are due for a clunker. Of course, if Ben Roethlisberger’s injury is more serious than the Steelers are letting on, all bets are off.
Steelers 27 – Jaguars 17
NEW ENGLAND (-23 ½) over New York Jets
Will anyone be taking the Jets in this game? Anyone? Bueller? For what it’s worth, with all the talk about the Pats possibly trying to put 100 on the board, I actually think New England will pass up the opportunity to run up the score. It’s just too obvious. Besides, I think Bill Belichick derives enough pleasure just from knowing that his team could put up triple digits if they really wanted to.
Patriots 38 – Jets 10
Seattle (-7 ½) over CAROLINA
Wow, this is the fourth road favorite I’m taking this week. I’m breaking all my rules. Thing is, Seattle is very quietly making some noise. Yes, the Seahawks are taking advantage of the worst division within the worst conference. But ever since they abandoned the run, they’ve been a different team. Is it a formula for postseason success? Of course not. But it should be plenty good enough to get past a Carolina squad that looks like it threw in the towel about two months ago.
Seahawks 24 – Panthers 14
KANSAS CITY (+3 ½) over Tennessee
God help me, I’m taking the Chiefs. But I’ve got to get off this road favorites kick. It’s going to blow up in my face, I just know it. Speaking of which, I really wanted to use a truly horrible analogy just then, but it’s the holiday season, so I’ll abstain. Damn you, baby Jesus. Always spoiling my fun.
Titans 23 – Chiefs 20
Indianapolis (-10 ½) over OAKLAND
Yep, another road favorite. Just go ahead and put me down for a 2-14 week. Holy Hannah Montana. But is anyone playing better than the Colts right now? New England fans have legitimate reason for concern right now. Yes, even with a potential playoff showdown taking place in Foxboro. Trust me, no one’s more surprised than I am.
Colts 30 – Raiders 13
SAN DIEGO (-10) over Detroit
Sorry, Lions fans. Your team gagged its season away last week against Dallas. It’ll take a hell of a lot longer than one measly week for Detroit to recover from that one.
As for the Chargers, I mentioned this last week but it bears repeating: San Diego is primed to finish the season on a six-game winning streak, which is awesome for anyone who gambles on the NFL. Neophytes and fools will think the Chargers are peaking at the right time and worthy of AFC dark horse status. But don’t be fooled. This team is going NOWHERE come playoff time.
Chargers 34 – Lions 17
DALLAS (-10 ½) over Philadelphia
The Cowboys dropped a deuce in Detroit and got away with it. Don’t count on seeing similar Dallas droppings this week.
Cowboys 38 – Eagles 20
Washington (+5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Just feels like a field goal game to me. Also known as: Eli Manning in involved, so hell if I know.
Giants 20 – Redskins 17
MINNESOTA (-10) over Chicago
I have a good buddy who’s a big Bears fan. Check that, he’s a HUGE Bears fan. So it should come as no surprise that he loves the return of the neck beard, a.ka. Kyle Orton. Given Orton’s other, less-appealing attributes, it should also come as no surprise that I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about this move. You beat the Vikings defense through the air, not with the hair.
Vikings 27 – Bears 10
Last Week Against the Spread 10-6 (108-90-10 in ’07) Last Week Straight-Up: 11-5 (122-86 in ’07)
- Jason Friedman