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NFL Picks, Week 6: Redemption in Raincity

Bruised and battered, can I find my way back onto the podium after what was easily my worst weekend of the young season?

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Man, guys... Last week was a pretty brutal week for me. I was a less than stellar 5-9 on winning picks last week, and 1-8 against the spread.

Take a second to think about how terrible that against the spread number is.

That number is so bad, Michael Jackson would dance to it. That number is so bad, I'll actually be surprised if anyone is reading this weeks column. It's so bad, it's likely to form a company and start singing songs about making love.

I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out how I could do so poorly, when through the first four weeks I was a very successful 12-7-1 against the spread. I was able to come up with a few good excuses explanations:

  1. I picked WAY too many games. I usually pick my five best every week, but chose 9 last week... now 1-4 isn't great but it's not 'make me puke' awful. Picking less games should help in the future.

  2. The Bills did EVERYTHING they could to lose that damn Thursday night game in Cleveland. They were one third down stop away from beating the spread, and could have potentially scored the winning touchdown anyways if not for PNC Bank's WORST Play of the Game.

    I'm blaming an unexpectedly bad special teams performance, and EJ Manuel's baseball slide lack of a baseball slide...

  3. Picking the Detroit game? With Calvin Johnson's playing status in question, that was a mistake on my part. Never bet on a one man team to cover without a surefire guarantee that the player in question will suit up. "But Reggie Bush blah blah blah." No guys, Reggie won't carry a team and he's not a feature back.

    No Megatron? No touching the Lions...

With all the past out of the way, I want to move forward with you, to a better time. A time where my beloved Seahawks play in the friendly confines of Centurylink Field, a time where there are actually five games worth picking. That time I'm talking about friends, is this weekend. I do want to get something out of the way first though.

Why is the NFL Network making me listen to this every week? It's no wonder the Bills were allowing touchdown returns left and right! They were distracted by the beautiful yet annoying Priyanka Chopra.

New York Giants at Chicago Bears (-8)

I'm glad I get to start with what I think seems like a pretty easy game. The Giants travel to Chicago having turned the ball over a staggering 20 times in just five games, to play the Bears, the same Bears that have forced 14 turnovers themselves. In Soldier Field? I'm honestly wondering how the line hasn't already crept up a bit higher. I'd have to assume it's because it's hard to imagine the Giants fortunes remaining so incredibly poor for that much longer.

For me though? They'll have to prove it before I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I think it's safe to bet on the Bears to cover.

Bears win, 33-13

I'm tinkering with some new formatting for the post, trying to find a nice fluid way to present 'against the spread' style picks while also clearly structuring the post. I'm hoping a fresh feel might help me tug out of the funk I wasted no time throwing myself into last week... I'm going to throw out some haiku's at some point in this post I think.

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-9)

A win last week against a San Diego team that has that patented "residual winner" feel has the world believing in the Raiders chances, just not quite enough to put money on them! Zing!

Up to this point the Chiefs have played a handful of pretty average teams, with the Cowboys being the only potential standout. To their credit though, they have won them all, and the Raiders are another average looking team. A nine point spread though? Seems high for me, I like the Raiders to beat the spread.

Chiefs win, 28-21

What else am I doing to move my mojo? Soaking up episodes of The Voice on-Demand.

This is the moment we find out who is who guys. When you read that you unknowingly classified yourself as one of the following types of people:

  • The "Oh yeah I love that show! Let's go Team Christina!" type
  • The "The new season's starting already?! I can't wait to see Adam's team win!" type
  • The "CEEEEELOOOOOOO!" type
  • The "AGH! THE VOICE! BLAKE!" type
  • The "fuck, seriously is this guy going to talk about The Voice right now? Whatever, I'm just going to scroll down to the next pick" type

If you didn't fall into one of those types, you are truly one of a kind. Congratulations.

(-1) Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Eagles are not great

Bucs are better than you think

They will win at home

Bucs win, 17-14

Probably don't touch that spread though, man.

I did that one as a haiku because I don't know how the hell it's going to go really. The Bucs offense is kind of a mess, they're defense ain't half bad though. They're at home, and the Eagles defense is the kind that you kickstart your offense with. Eh, yeah I'm sticking with the Bucs here. Move along.

(-3) Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens

This one is really simple in my opinion. The Ravens need to involve Ray Rice to win. Flacco may be the man with the golden arm, but Rice is the engine that moves that team.

Last week they got him 27 rushes, which he turned into a pretty modest 74 yards. The real importance there is balance though, and with balance they'll find a win at home this Sunday. Don't bet on it though, you just never know when Flacco will "take over" a game, and that's never a good thing.

Ravens win, 31-28

This next one, is the game I'm least likely to get right. Last week I thought for sure the Lions would keep it close against the Packers, then come Sunday, Calvin Johnson isn't in the lineup...

(-2½) Detroit Lions @ Cleveland Browns

The Brownies were saved last week by some pretty big plays. An electric return man could be a very dangerous thing against a sub-par Lions special teams unit.

That being said, if I knew for sure that Calvin Johnson was going to be in the lineup I'd say Lions win, and possibly make it look easy. The Browns defense is solid, but it's difficult for a team with as poor an offense as theirs to keep pace with a fully functioning Lions offense.

If I had to guess, Johnson will play Sunday and the Lions will cover. Keep an eye out for the Friday injury report, if it says he'll play, you can bet on this one.

Lions win, 28-17

I've run out of episodes of The Voice, on to New Girl. That Zoey Deschanel is a real looker isn't she? The chemistry between the characters on this show is really great, they actually almost make me want to start finding roommates on Craigslist. Like, "Hey! That could be a lot of fun!"

The truth is, usually when you find roommates on Craigslist you end up with some guy who refuses to turn down whatever Disney movie he's blasting on his entertainment system that particular night. And no, it's never Lion King or Aladdin. It's the bad ones like Snow Dogs or Pocahontas 2.

Back to it.

Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings (-2½)

The Panthers should be winning games dammit. Their defense is solid, with a front seven capable of slowing Adrian Peterson.

The Vikings should be winning games dammit. Their running game is great, very capable of controlling possession against Carolina's front seven.

You see what I did there? Both of these teams seem to be wildly underachieving to me. I can't figure it out. One of them is going to man up this Sunday, or at least appear to, as they'll be doing it against another underachiever. With a potentially dynamic quarterback at the helm, I'm giving the nod to the Panthers here. Don't you dare put a dime down on either of these teams until one of them shows some consistent ability to play up to their potential.

Panthers win, 20-10

It's so late, and I'm worried now that I'll run out of New Girl episodes... then what will I do? Focus ONLY ON WRITING?!? What do I look like, Danny Kelly?? No. I'm not that guy. I need to giggle to talent shows and sitcoms to work through this stuff, so I'm going to pop a few quick ones out here. Straight to the point like.

St. Louis Rams at Houston (-7½)

The oddsmakers are really making it tough this week. Seven and a half points, for a team that lost by like thirty last week? Over a team that won by two touchdowns?

The worst part? I can't even convince myself to take the points and go with the Rams. That basically means that the Jaguars are god awful, because that's the only way to explain a spread like this given what happened last week.

Houston is two weeks removed from a great first half against one of the best teams in the league, they're playing at home, so I'm going to go in that direction. Avoid betting this one though.

Texans win, 26-14

Up next, two of my least favorite teams...

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets (-2½)

Vegas opened this game with the Steelers as 2.5 point favorites, only to see money being poured onto the Jets after that Monday night win over the Falcons. The masses believe in the Jets here, but I'm not sold. There is a certain amount of inevitability to the Steelers winning at least ONE game this year, and each week that passes without that happening pushes the chances they win one up a bit. Pair that with the relatively low chance that Geno Smith puts together another mistake free outing? Bet on a Steelers win here.

Steelers win, 27-13

... yes, it did hurt to pick the Steelers. It will always be a pain to favor that team in any way, even the most meaningless.

(-7½) Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills

When you're starting a practice squad quarterback, you're in trouble. Maybe this "Thad" is a real winner? I don't know, but I sure as hell wouldn't bet a single dime on the Bills to beat this spread. I could go on about the Bengals, and about how mediocre Andy Dalton is, but really what's the point?

The Bills head coach literally said, "Thad (the quarterback previously on our PRACTICE SQUAD) gives us the best chance. We're going to give him an opportunity to see what he has."

I think he'll lead them down the field for an early touchdown, and that'll be the end of it.

Bengals win, 24-7

I'm looking at the clock now, it's late. Like "Taco Bell is closed" late. I can't imagine I'm going to make it through this last handful of picks sounding very studious.

Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks (-13½)

The Seahawks lost last week, it hurt. It was surprising too really, after the way that first quarter went. Were you as surprised as I was? Were you?? Were you as surprised as this audience? Not pleasantly though, like, in a terrible surprise kind of way right?

Luckily for us, this should be a better week to be a Seahawks fan.

The Titans come in to a hostile environment rocking a backup quarterback, and a dysfunctional offense. Not much to say about this one. This will sound familiar, if you are a Seahawks fan, don't bet on them unless they're underdogs. It's bad juju. However, if you're visiting from another part of the NFL kingdom... you can bet the Seahawks will cover.

Seahawks win, 23-7

How are these picks looking so far? So far I've got the Bears, Chiefs, Bucs, Ravens, Lions, Panthers, Texans, Steelers, Bengals, and Seahawks winning. Up next is the easiest game I'll ever pick, and one that needs no real explanation for those reading.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Denver Broncos (-27½)

The only thing you might ask is, "Will the Broncos cover that spread?"

Well it's only the largest spread ever right? Kevin Bradley, the sports book manager for said in this post that, "With how our bettors have been pounding Denver every week and betting against the Jags like it’s free money, this spread is looking closer to four touchdowns"

The nutso thing is that chances are the Broncos will indeed win by four touchdowns. In 2007 the Patriots were favored by 24 over the Eagles and pulled off a less that impressive 31-28 victory. This Jags team is worse than the Eagles in 2007 though, and it's in the Mile High City, where oxygen will be in short for the Jags. I almost can't believe I'm saying this but, "Take the Broncos to cover."

Broncos win, 52-17

Did you guys hear that Aldon Smith was charged with some felonies? The chances that guy sees the field again in the next few years seems remote to me, honestly. Justin Smith is getting pretty old too guys, are you picking up what I'm laying down here?

That defense in San Fransisco might have some issues moving forward. That's what I'm laying down here.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-11)

One of the best defenses in the league paired with a solid rushing attack last season to make the Niners a Superbowl contender. Flip the script, this year they've been moving away from the ball control style a little bit. They aren't winning the time of possession battle and they're not getting the turnovers they fed off of previously.

A solid effort last week against the reeling Texans has confidence high in San Fran, but the Cardinals had their own impressive effort last week. Don't sleep on the Cardinals, but don't bet on them either.

49ers win, 24-21

Did I mention that I didn't do that well last week? I did?

Oh, well did I mention that my fiance gave me a lot of crap about it? She did. She's into football just enough to think she knows everything, not enough to know you can never know everything. So anyways, I told her, "Hey you think you can do better? Why don't YOU pick a game eh? Just one game!" And this is...

What She Said (That's what she said?)

I know next to nothing about players and teams that aren't the Seahawks, I can't help but watch the ball on every play and therefore see very little of anything else on the field, and I believe I said yesterday that I hoped the Falcons would "make some points." Don't worry, I was laughed at and corrected. Despite all this, the idea of picking a game every week is still too intriguing to pass up, so I'm gonna give it a try

I'm expecting a good fight, but I think the Saints will take this, and here's why. Brees is putting up impressive numbers, and the Saints team is, other than in rushing ypg, beating the Patriots ranks offensively and defensively. I think the Saints have had a harder schedule thus far and have shown more ability to move the ball and score. Also, and I'm not at all sure how much this will factor, but it seems to me that a staggering amount of NE offensive players are hurt and questionable. Now I know the Patriots are favored. They're at home, coming off a loss on the road, and I don't think I'd ever not count on Brady to be awesome just because. I've got a gut feeling that the Saints will win this though, and more than anything else, I'm going with that. Worst case scenario, my first ever pick is wrong, which would suck because I put a lot of work into trying to figure this one out. But hey, at least that'd mean the Saints lost.

You see how humble she started that out? She's not even kind of humble around the apartment guys, trust me. She's soooo pompous. Just wait, it'll start showing if she keeps writing these inserts. Anyways, I like her pick.

New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots (-2½)

You heard the woman... Saint's win it, but don't bet on this game. Gronkowski might well make his return and if so, all bets are off.

Saints win, 35-27

This bad boy is getting kind of long, maybe one too many links to oversized teenagers singing beautiful music? If you don't get that you haven't been clicking all the hyperlinks, keep up people!

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-5½)

Tony Romo gets way to much shit. I just want that out there, he's so incredibly talented. He was the biggest reason that last interception even mattered. Seriously media give the guy a break.

The real question here is whether or not the Cowboys can put together back to back quality performances. Even though it was a loss, last week was a great performance by the Cowboys.

The Redskins have some key players back this week, Robert Griffin has had a full month of play and practice, and I expect him to play well. This is largely a hunch, but I like the Redskins in this one. Not in a betting kind of way though.

Redskins win, 31-27

Someone asked me last week to put bye weeks into the post, which is a good call and easy to do. So here you go Camomilk.

Baby Bye Bye Bye

(don't click that link unless you feel like seeing some old school JT)

The Dolphins are on a bye, they win the bye by default as the Falcons have clearly lost their bye. News that Julio Jones is out for the year is flat out awful for a team that is already struggling.

Dolphins win, because they didn't lose a key offensive player

Monday Night!

(-1½) Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers

Phillip Rivers is playing well, Andrew Luck is player weller. I do like the Chargers, but the Colts have played so well up to this point, and Trent Richardson hasn't even really hit his stride in that offense yet.

It wouldn't surprise me if the Chargers won, but there's a reason the line flipped from the Bolts as half point favorites to the Colts being favorited by a point and a half... Indy is the better team. They just need to show it, and they will. You can bet on that.

Colts win, 31-21

So to recap, here are the teams you can bet on as far as the spreads go, in order of confidence.

Bears (-8)
Raiders (-9)
Colts (-1½)
Lions (-2½)**
Broncos (-27½)
Steelers (2½)

**Make sure Calvin looks to be playing, otherwise that bet becomes risky

Alright fellas that's all. Have a happy Football Sunday!