NFL picks still leave a lot to be desired

So much for my wonderfully useful theory that the locked-out officials’ return would bring clarity back to the increasingly complex endeavor of picking winners against the spread in the NFL. Suffering through an awful 5-9 week will leave you scrambling for alternative answers. Searching, searching, still searching... Listen, picking winners is hard. It may sound easy on the surface. Team A is better than Team B, Team A is only favored by a field goal, pick Team A. Say the magic word, abracadabra, and Vegas sheepishly hands out free money for everyone!


Unfortunately it’s not easy. If it was we’d all be millionaires lounging by a Las Vegas pool, right? Instead, someone like myself chooses to work at a golf course in Alaska, where there’s snow on the ground five months of the year (snow is bad for golf), and spends his free time writing articles where “pretending” to know who is going to win a football game is entirely acceptable. If you’re questioning my sanity I don’t blame you, I’ve been doing the same thing for the better part of the last decade, and after a replay review, there is not indisputable evidence to overturn the ruling on the field of insanity, Nolan Rose will be charged a time out. Fortunately, I have two timeouts remaining! That’s why I’ll forge forward, in this 2012 NFL season, with the same persistence as the kid who continuously pushes on the door when it must be pulled. Undaunted, I will try to make sense of this pigskin rubik’s cube. The answers are out there. In theory, you have a 50% chance to pick each game correctly. Sitting at a very uninspiring 35-40-2 for the season, that may be a little too optimistic.

Just take a look at the chaos from last weekend. The 1-3 Miami Dolphins went into Cincinnati and defeated the 3-1 Bengals. That was an easy call wasn’t it? I actually predicted that if you go back to last week’s column, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy weekend. The undefeated Houston Texans did everything they had to do, including allowing a 100 yard kick-off return for a touchdown, to allow the New York Tebow’s a backdoor cover. I was too cautious with large spreads favoring the San Francisco 49ers and Bill Engberg’s Chicago Bears, both teams covered easily routing the helpless Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars. I was too confident siding with the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers as large favorites on the road. Arizona was a bad choice to remain undefeated against a greatly improved St. Louis Rams team playing at home. It was a comedy of ATS errors. Luckily my performance against the spread wasn’t the only thing that stunk last weekend. How about the poor play from a self-declared “Superman”, Cam Newton? Young Cam set quarterback play back a decade with his effort against the Seattle Seahawks. I realize my Seahawks are fantastic defensively, but nobody is confusing them with the ‘85 Bears just yet. Seahawks fans are conditioned to take wins any way we can get them though, thank you, Mr. Newton.

There are a number of interesting games to cover in week 6 starting off with the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to Nashville to take on the proud owners of the worst uniforms in the NFL, the Tennessee Titans. The game of the week features the New York Giants visiting the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game. Other notable matchups feature the Seattle Seahawks hosting the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers taking on the Houston Texans in Montana. Just kidding, the game is in Houston. Fooled you didn’t I? OK enough joking around, let’s move on to a more serious matter, the Week 6 picks!

Pittsburgh Steelers @
Tennessee Titans +6

Tennessee is a mess after imploding last weekend against the Minnesota Vikings. The Titans seem incapable of running and/or passing the ball effectively. That’s not a recipe for success in the NFL. Pittsburgh is coming off a big win at home over my dog Togiak’s least favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Rashard Mendenhall’s return from injury has given the Steelers a boost. Steelers win 24-17

Oakland Raiders @
Atlanta Falcons -9

The ghosts of Al Davis travel to Atlanta to take on the undefeated Falcons. Atlanta is making a habit of allowing lesser teams to hang around and the Raiders certainly qualify as a lesser team. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Oakland pulls off the upset, but the voices in my head tell me they keep this closer than it should be. Falcons win 31-23

Cincinnati Bengals @
Cleveland Browns +1

Cleveland has lost 376 consecutive games. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but it sure does seem like it doesn’t it? The Bengals have already defeated the Browns 34-27 at home this season. I expect another close matchup that ends with the Browns finding yet another unique way to lose. Bengals win 28-24

St. Louis Rams @
Miami Dolphins -4

Both of these teams have exceeded my expectations heading into the season. The Rams suffered a serious blow last Sunday when they lost Danny Amendola to a shoulder injury. Miami’s run defense is one of the best in football and should be able to hold Steven Jackson and the Rams rushing attack in check. Will the Dolphins score enough points to cover the spread against a stout St. Louis defense with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill under center? Dolphins win 19-16

Indianapolis Colts @
New York Jets -3

The Colts are coming off a huge come from behind victory over the Green Bay Packers last weekend. Their first game since Head Coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with Leukemia. The Jets are a mess at quarterback. Mark Sanchez has to be feeling the pressure of having the divine Tim Tebow waiting for an opportunity on the sidelines. Tebow will get his chance this Sunday. Jets win 21-17

Detroit Lions @
Philadelphia Eagles -4

The 1-3 Lions are desperate for win. Traveling to Philadelphia to play an Eagles team still stinging from a narrow, last second defeat, in Pittsburgh last weekend probably isn’t the best place to accomplish that feat. Detroit has had an extra week to prepare, but they just seem lost this season. As long as Michael Vick doesn’t put the ball on the ground the Eagles will soar. Eagles win 31-20

Kansas City Chiefs @
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -4

If there is such a thing as a coin flip game this is it right? Both Kansas City and Tampa Bay have been awful early in the season. The Chiefs should be without starting QB Matt Cassel. Typically when a team loses its starting quarterback they’re in trouble, but that might not be the case here. Brady Quinn will have an opportunity to resurrect his career from the dead. Tampa Bay rookie running back Doug Martin, affectionately known as “The Muscle Hamster”, finally has his breakout performance. Buccaneers win 24-21

Dallas Cowboys @
Baltimore Ravens -4

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has a tendency to throw the ball to the opposing team repeatedly. Ed Reed, the free safety for the Baltimore Ravens, has made a Hall of Fame career out of intercepting passes from players like Tony Romo. Ravens win 28-17

Buffalo Bills @
Arizona Cardinals -5

The Buffalo Bills can’t stop the run. The Arizona Cardinals are incapable of running the ball forward. Something has to give doesn’t it? With Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller finally healthy the Bills should have enough to keep this game interesting. The Cardinals aren’t as good as their 4-1 record indicates. Bills win 20-17

New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks +4

I haven’t been this excited about a football game since the Green Bay Packers visited the Seahawks a couple Monday’s ago. Everyone remembers how that turned out. Crazy things happen in Seattle. New England hasn’t faced a defense anywhere near as strong as Seattle’s this season. Of course, Seattle won’t face an offense this good, maybe ever. The Patriots looked unbeatable against Denver last weekend. For obvious anti-jinx purposes I refuse to side with Seattle. Patriots win 27-20

New York Giants @
San Francisco 49ers -7

The 49ers have outscored their last two opponents 79-3. Yes, I typed that correctly. 79-3, Wow. The Minnesota Vikings actually beat this team, unbelievable. The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants won’t be intimidated at all by the 49ers early season prowess. This is the same Giants team that beat San Francisco in an absolute war in last year’s NFC Championship game. That game was decided in overtime. I expect a similar, close affair this time around. 49ers win 24-20

Minnesota Vikings @
Washington Redskins -2

This is a tough matchup to predict with the uncertainty surrounding Redskins star rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin suffered a concussion last Sunday. Twenty years ago he would have been told to take a big whiff of the smelling salt and toughen up, but in 2012 he’ll be forced to pass a battery of tests to prove his brain is working properly. I’m going with thought that Griffin plays. Redskins win 27-24

Green Bay Packers @
Houston Texans -4

Houston is coming off a short week having played Monday Night. The Packers are getting close to must win territory in light of the fast starts by division rivals Chicago and Minnesota. If anyone had Green Bay at 2-4 after the sixth week of the season they’re lying. That may very well be the case because the Pack has to play the best team in the NFL this week. Can Green Bay right the ship on the road against the mighty Houston Texans? Texans win 27-20

Denver Broncos @
San Diego Chargers -1

First place in the football challenged AFC West is on the line Monday Night with a matchup of strong armed, but incredibly slow quarterbacks. The Chargers have been an enigma for years, always performing below their talent level. I don’t see Denver, more importantly Peyton Manning, falling to 2-4 on the season. Broncos win 31-27


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