Last week’s NFL slate was the perfect example of why they call them “suicide pools.”
I, for one, felt like the King of Hearts last week – you know, the one who sticks a sword in his head. Across the board of pools that I had remaining picks, I had three entries left entering last week. I have one left now.
One of them, Denver, was simply a complete fluke. Didn’t go against any of my “golden rules,” and who could have seen the Rams pulling another major upset just two weeks after winning at San Francisco and four weeks after defeating Seattle at home (although that wasn’t a shocker).
However, instead of trusting my own hierarchy, I decided to put more trust in the Saints, who couldn’t have defeated Ponchatoula High School last week (although I think they would have squeaked by John Ehret) rather than take Green Bay at home against Mark Sanchez.
Such is the stupidity that lies in knee-jerk decisions. Doing so in the latter part of the season will kill you.
So it’s back on the gravy train this week. No room for error. No more “You Big Dummy” moments.
Yes, I realize I have said this before. But I mean it this time.
(Weekly, overall picks results for Jim Derry and top readers listed at bottom. CONGRATS to first-time player ANTONIO PEREIRA for being the Week 11 winner and to STEVEN RAWLINS, the overall leader among readers for the FOURTH consecutive week.)
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WEEK 12 PICKS (home team in bold):
16 points: NO PICK due to byes. Record: 2-1.
THE “SURE THINGS”
15 points: INDIANAPOLIS over JACKSONVILLE, Sunday at noon
Obviously, I put a bit too much faith in the Colts, not to say this still isn’t one of the best teams in the NFL. However, betting against Bill Belichick during a winning streak is sort of silly, at least in hindsight. One thing for sure is that the Colts have walloped inferior teams, and coming off a loss, I think they’ll do that here. BIG win for Indy. Against the spread: Indianapolis minus-13.5.
NO PICK due to byes. Record: 4-2.
14 points: SAN FRANCISCO over WASHINGTON, Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
My goodness, the Redskins are a bad football team. Meanwhile, it appears as if the 49ers are beginning to enter playoff mode with two big road wins. Colin Kaepernick has been anything but great, but he has been good about not making the big mistake. When looking at the spread, it’s a “something has to give” sort of game. Washington has covered just once in seven games, but San Francisco has won by more than six points only twice and once since Week 1. I think it ends up closer than it should, and that half-point on top of the touchdown makes me lean toward the Skins. Against the spread: Washington plus-7.5.
Last week: San Diego over Oakland (W). Record: 6-2. ATS, Chargers minus-10.5 (L)
13 points: GREEN BAY at MINNESOTA, Sunday at noon
Except for the hiccup in New Orleans – where the score was skewed by some weird plays – the Packers have been absolutely dominating. Not only have they been the best team in the NFC since losing to Detroit in Week 3, they have covered six out of seven. While the Vikings have been consistent and Teddy Bridgewater’s future looks bright, it’s doubtful they have a shot against this freight train. That being said, I’m going to stick to one my key “golden rules,” as that’s way too many points for a division dog to give up at home. Also, one has to figure that Packers offense has to slow down at least a little after putting up 50-plus in consecutive weeks. Against the spread: Vikings plus-9.5.
Last week: Denver over St. Louis (L). Record: 7-4. ATS, Broncos -9.5 (L)
12 points: PHILADELPHIA over TENNESSEE, Sunday at noon
Mark Sanchez is, well, you know how that line goes. I hate to keep dogging the dude – OK, maybe I don’t – but c’mon man, he’s turrible (à la Chuck Barkley). Here’s the thing, though, the Eagles are still a playoff team and Coach Chip Kelly is one of those guys you can trust at home against an inferior team. And the Titans, who have covered just one of their past four on the road, most certainly are inferior. Against the spread: Philadelphia minus-10.5.
Last week: Green Bay over Philadelphia (W). Record: 11-0. ATS, Packers -4.5 (W)
11 points: DENVER over MIAMI, Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
So I have caught a little grief for not giving the Dolphins enough credit, and more specifically, for saying they have defeated just one good team this season: New England in Week 1. Buffalo without its two starting running backs and with Kyle Orton is good? How about a San Diego team that struggled at home against winless Oakland last week? Jacksonville, Chicago, and/or the aforementioned Raiders? Give me a break. The Broncos are ticked off, and they ROLL at home, regardless of the opponent. Against the spread: Denver minus-7.5.
Last week: New Orleans over Cincinnati (L). Record: 6-5. ATS, Saints -7.5 (L)
10 points: NEW ENGLAND over DETROIT, Sunday at noon
No more underestimating the Patriots until this winning streak is over. No other words are necessary, except to say that the jinx I have just placed upon this team is obvious. I apologize in advance. Against the spread: Detroit plus-7.5.
Last week: San Francisco over NY Giants (W). Record: 8-3. ATS, 49ers -4.5 (W)
OUT ON A LIMB
9 points: BUFFALO over NY JETS, Sunday at noon
So exactly what is Woody Johnson waiting for to fire Rex Ryan? Did the improbable win against the Steelers and their multi-personalities really save his job? You know, I know, they know and my 3-year-old daughter knows that it didn’t. All the win means is they were able to enjoy the bye week and now they get to start a new losing streak this week, because it would be highly surprising for this team to win a road division game against a desperate opponent that beat them by 20 three weeks ago. Against the spread: Buffalo minus-4.5.
Last week: Washington over Tampa Bay (L). Record: 7-4. ATS, Bucs +7.5 (W)
8 points: CHICAGO over TAMPA BAY, Sunday at noon
Well, I kept my word and said I wouldn’t pick Chicago again until they proved they could defeat, well, anybody. It’s been so hard to figure out this team all season, but they have been able to conquer bad teams, for the most part. Although Tampa Bay has played better as of late, they still qualify as a “bad team.” Just beginning a stretch of five out of six games at Soldier Field, it gets much tougher after this one. This might be the last time they “roll” this season. Against the spread: Chicago minus-5.5.
Last week: Atlanta over Carolina (W). Record: 6-5. ATS, Falcons +1.5 (W)
7 points: HOUSTON over CINCINNATI, Sunday at noon
Getting AJ Green back makes the Bengals much better, but the Texans continue to be undervalued, most likely because of their instability at quarterback. With or without Arian Foster, they should be able to run the football against this porous run defense. Conversely, many (including me) have overvalued Cincinnati, which has four of its six wins against teams currently with losing record. The other two came against 6-4 Baltimore. Against the spread: Houston minus-1.5.
Last week: Houston over Cleveland (W). Record: 9-2. ATS, Texans +3.5 (W)
YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN
6 points: DALLAS over NY GIANTS, Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Perhaps no team needed a bye week more than the Cowboys. It’s not enough time for Tony Romo’s bad back to heal, but it certainly didn’t hurt. If Dallas is going to prove that it actually belongs with the elite teams in the NFC and it wants to make a run at a bye, it must pounce on this freefalling Giants team that can’t stop giving the football to their opponent. Be warned, however, that the betting public loves Dallas here, while Vegas is lukewarm at best. Against the spread: Dallas minus-2.5.
Last week: Pittsburgh over Tennessee (W). Record: 7-4. ATS, Steelers -5.5 (L)
5 points: KANSAS CITY over OAKLAND, Thursday at 7:25 p.m.
Weird vibe alert! Weird vibe alert! OK, so any reasonable person who knows anything about football HAS to pick the Chiefs here. They have been playing as well as anyone, have one of the best coaches in the NFL and have a quarterback who doesn’t do anything stupid. However, the Raiders WILL win a game this season, and this is the sort of matchup that is prime for the shocker. I don’t have the intestinal fortitude to pick the upset here, but I wouldn’t make this my suicide pick, either. Against the spread: Oakland plus-7.5.
Last week: Indianapolis over New England (L). Record: 7-4. ATS, Colts -2.5 (L)
4 points: NEW ORLEANS over BALTIMORE, Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Will the real Saints please stand up? Here’s one last chance for this team to prove themselves relevant, and it’s where they do their best – in prime time under the roof of the Superdome. Also, they are trying to avoid losing three straight at home for the first time since the final game in 2006 and first two in 2007. They haven’t dropped three straight at home in the same season since the nightmare that was the Katrina season of 2005, where they lost to Tampa Bay and Carolina at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and to Detroit in the Alamo Dome in San Antonio. Against the spread: New Orleans minus-3.5.
Last week: Kansas City over Seattle (W). Record: 6-5. ATS, Chiefs even (W)
3 points: ATLANTA over CLEVELAND, Sunday at noon
Last week’s win at Carolina was anything but convincing, but the fact the Falcons have revived themselves back into the pathetic NFC South race ups their stock. While they have been known to be choke artists – especially under Mike Smith – they generally play well as long as their confidence is high. Meanwhile, the Browns were brought back to Earth last week. Look for this to be a close game that will be won by a Matt Bryant field goal. Against the spread: Cleveland plus-3.5.
Last week: Detroit over Arizona (L). Record: 8-3. ATS, Lions +1.5 (L)
2 points: SAN DIEGO over ST. LOUIS, Sunday at 3:05 p.m.
Just one game back in the AFC West, the Chargers haven’t played like a team that’s close to the Chiefs and Broncos. They’re in must-win territory, as they’re about to close the season against the Ravens, Patriots, Broncos 49ers, and Chiefs. Once again for St. Louis, one has to think they have expended all their energy in the game plan to beat Denver last week. This spread is too low, and the Chargers break their five-game skid ATS. Against the spread: San Diego minus-4.5.
Last week: Miami over Buffalo (W). Record: 6-5. ATS, Bills +4.5 (L)
1 point: ARIZONA over SEATTLE, Sunday at 3:05 p.m.
The Cardinals winning at Seattle? Really? Hey, it’s finally time for me to jump on the bandwagon and admit this team is for real. With a defense and coach like they have, it’s hard to pick against them, even in the air of the 12th man. Meanwhile, Drew Stanton might even be a better fit for the Arizona receivers than Carson Palmer. As one might expect, this one is low-scoring and one that comes down to the wire. (Why in the heck is a 9-1 team getting a touchdown? Absurd.) Against the spread: Arizona plus-6.5.
Last week: Minnesota over Chicago (L). Record: 6-5. ATS, Vikings +3.5 (L)
* Spreads are gathered from oddsshark.com on Tuesday of each week.
Last week STRAIGHT UP: 8-6. Season: 106-55 (.658).
Last week AGAINST THE SPREAD: 6-8. Season: 66-63 (.512). (Didn’t start ATS picks until Week 3.)
Week 11: 63/105 possible points. Weekly rank: 13 out of 88. Overall: 862/1,266. Overall rank: 8 of 194.
Week 11 READERS leader: Antonio Pereira, 85/105.
Overall READERS leader: Steven Rawlins, 896/1,266.
PREVIOUS COLUMNS (click on week to view)
Week 11: 8-6 straight up, 6-8 ATS
Week 10: 8-5 straight up, 7-6 ATS
Week 9: 7-6 straight up, 5-8 ATS
Week 8: 11-4 straight up, 9-6 ATS
Week 7: 10-5 straight up, 9-6 ATS
Week 6: 8-7 straight up, 6-9 ATS
Week 5: 13-2 straight up, 7-8 ATS
Week 4: 10-3 straight up, 10-3 ATS
Week 3: 10-6 straight up, 7-9 ATS
Week 2: 11-5 straight up, no picks ATS
Week 1: 10-6 straight up, no picks ATS
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