The definition of the word sagacious is as follows, “having or showing keen mental discernment and good judgment”. As hard as I try I can’t think of a more appropriate word to describe myself. A spectacular 9-4-2 performance last week has returned our record to 42-43-7 for the year, but more importantly the positive slate has restored confidence in the vast chasm of football knowledge residing between my ears. We enter the seventh week with no intention of resting on our laurels, instead we plan to strike while the pigskin is hot with another brilliant batch of prognostications.
Before I reveal my selections let’s quickly review some things we think we know about the NFL. The state of Florida sucks at professional football. Florida’s current inability to construct a functional football franchise is superseded only by its failures in administering political elections. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a combined 0-11 this season. Florida’s remaining franchise, the Miami Dolphins, are a respectable 3-2, but how confident are we in the fighting fish? The Dolphins last won a playoff game in the year 2000 A.D.
There are a number of interesting theories bounding about the world wide web that attempt to answer why Florida is so bad at winning football games. Is staggering humidity to blame? Perhaps, the wonderful scenery available on Florida’s warm beaches prove to be an overwhelming distraction? Inquiring minds may someday solve the mystery. For now it’s best to side against the sunshine state which enters the weekend an alarming 5-11 against the spread.
Did you know that there are five NFL franchises with bird mascots? The Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, and Philadelphia Eagles comprise the flock. Through exhaustive research we have ascertained that siding with birds west of the Rockies is far more profitable than backing their fowl football cousins from the East. The Seahawks and Cardinals have a .667 win percentage ATS compared to a bankrupting .412 mark from the Eagles, Ravens, and Falcons.
Loyal readers, this is the type of high level information you can only find in the Peninsula Clarion’s Pigskin Pick’em column. I work extraordinarily long hours to provide you with statistical revelations and insight so your Sunday can be a success. That is my gift to you, the football faithful.
P.S. Justin & Jessie Ruffridge owe Marina and I dinner. My Oregon State Beavers crushed his hapless Washington State Cougars 52-24 last Saturday and he refuses to pay up! I’m convienently ignoring the fact that we never actually made a wager. It’s standard alumni protocol. A win is a win.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @ Arizona Cardinals +6
Something has to give in this NFC West battle of the birds. An incredible 58 points separated these two teams the last time they met. I don’t anticipate the Seahawks being nearly as successful this Thursday. The desert bats possess an excellent defense and always play well at home. Seattle’s offensive line has struggled to protect miniature QB Russell Wilson all year and the team has struggled to consistently move the ball forward as a result. Sadly, for desert bat fans, Carson Palmer’s propensity for throwing the football to the wrong colored jersey will ultimately be the difference in this contest. Seahawks win 23-14
TAMPA BAY BUCS @ Atlanta Falcons -9
The city of Tampa resides within Florida’s state boundaries so immediately we know not to trust the Bucs. Unfortunately, the Falcons have been equally unsuccessful ATS at 1-4 for the year. Atlanta is also dealing with a number of significant injuries which has crippled the productivity of its formerly high flying attack. Home field favors the Falcons but laying nine points with a side as beat up as Atlanta doesn’t appear promising. Falcons win 27-20
Cincinnati Bengals @ DETROIT LIONS -3
The suits in Vegas are telling us this contest would be a coin flip on a neutral field with a -3 line favoring the home side. The Bengals struggles away from Cincinnati suggest the Lions should be favored by a touchdown. Just a week ago Andy Dalton and crew nearly blew a two score lead in Buffalo against a Bills team quarterbacked by Thad Lewis. If you’re wondering who the heck Thad Lewis is I can’t help you. Football is never apples to apples but the Lions bested the Cleveland Browns 31-17 last Sunday. The Browns defeated Cincinnati 17-6 two weeks prior. The magic dart board tells me that’s enough to back the home team. Lions win 30-20
BUFFALO BILLS @ Miami Dolphins -9
Buffalo has led or been tied in the 4th quarter of all of their losses this season. The Bills play close football games, and it apparently doesn’t matter who is throwing the passes. Buffalo has used three quarterbacks already this season, E.J. Manuel, Jeff “Wazzu Wizard” Tuel, and Thad Lewis. The Dolphins are attempting to rebound after two consecutive losses prior to their bye week. Miami’s struggles largely stem from an inability to protect the quarterback, the Dolphins are on pace to break the dubious NFL sacks allowed record. The Bills circle the wagon one more time to cover in South Beach. Dolphins win 27-24
NEW ENGLAND PATS @ New York Jets +4
The Patriots are coming off a thrilling last second victory over the New Orleans Saints last weekend it what could be considered the game of the year to date. Unless you prefer the nuggie Seattle gave the San Francisco 49ers a few weeks ago. I keep waiting for the Jets to crash under the unsteady leadership of Geno Smith and Rex Ryan. The Jets come out of this one with stinky feet much to the delight of their embattled coach. Patriots win 30-17
DALLAS COWBOYS @ Philadelphia Eagles -3
I still don’t trust this Philadelphia Eagles ensemble. The defense is anemic and the offense, while explosive, turns in too many three and outs. The NFC East closely resembles a dumpster fire, but it’s becoming evident that one of these two teams will win the division. I’m not high on either, but if I had to pick a side today I’m going with the Boys, and since I’m contractual obligated to do just that, I’ll take Tony Romo and the points. Cowboys win 30-27
Chicago Bears @ WASHINGTON REDSKINS -1
It’s hard to believe the Washington Native Americans are favored against any team after a disappointing stretch in the schedule, but here they are at 1-4 laying a point to the Bears. I really want to side with Jay Cutler and crew, but I have a hunch that Washington covers. Native Americans’ quarterback Robert Griffin III looked more like the electrifyingly elusive play-maker he was during his rookie campaign a week ago. RG3 finally has a big time performance leading his team to victory. Native Americans defeat Manifest Destiny 26-23
St. Louis Rams @ CAROLINA PANTHERS -7
The Panthers return home a very unimpressive 2-3 on the year, but quietly Carolina carries a plus 41 point differential. Statistical geeks would like me to remind you that point differential is a better indicator of future success than win-loss records. Why? Because point differentials aren’t affected by the variability of a single contest. Carolina’s mark is third in the National Football Conference. St. Louis may have a better record at 3-3, but the Rams minus 13 point differential fails to inspire confidence. Cam Newton and Panthers roll the Rams in Charlotte. Panthers win 31-14
San Diego Chargers @ JACKSONVILLE JAGS +9
You have every right to question my sanity. It’s true that I’m siding with the Jacksonville Jaguars for a second consecutive week. Vegas doesn’t care if the Jaguars are the worst team in NFL history and neither do I. Luckily, we don’t need Jacksonville to win the game, we just need them to lose with their dignity intact. The Chargers are the Dallas Cowboys of the AFC, a true Jekyll and Hyde team. The week following a huge Monday Night win over the Indianapolis Colts is the perfect spot for a letdown. Chargers win 27-19
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ Tennessee Titans +4
After three consecutive winning performances the 49ers appear to have righted the ship after a slow start to the season. Will the wine and fool’s gold make it four in a row against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville? The Titans enter the contest at a sneaky good 3-3. Tennessee can play football, but they will again be without top passer Jake Locker who is nursing a hip injury. San Francisco will be the popular play, and that concerns me, but Titans reserve QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will make a mistake late that costs Tennessee the game. 49ers win 26-20
Cleveland Browns @ GREEN BAY PACKERS -9
The Brown Baggers are back! Please tell me you saw the brutal reverse shovel pass Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden attempted late in the 4th quarter against the Detroit Lions last Sunday? A fourth grade girl could have intercepted that softball! Not only did the play end Cleveland’s chances, it left the Dawg Pound wondering what Weeden was smoking. Green Bay’s receiver group has been ravaged by injuries, and the Pack are still without star defender Clay Matthews, but how can you possibly back Brandon Weeden at this point? Packers win 33-13
HOUSTON TEXANS @ Kansas City Chiefs -7
This is the challenge of writing a NFL pick’em column for Thursday’s print. If Texans QB Matt Schaub suits up I would side with the visitors. Without Schaub I would lean towards the Chiefs. The embattled passer is questionable heading into the latter part of the week so we’ll assume Schaub plays. No matter who takes the field for the Houston offense the team still enters the contest with the league’s top rated defense. Kansas City, although undefeated, isn’t built to blow teams out. Houston can win this game if they take care of the football. Texans (with Schaub) win 24-17
Baltimore Ravens @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS -1
The Steel Doilies finally reached victory lane after four straight losses to open the year. Now, Big Ben and company welcome an old adversary to town for a pivotal showdown. With a win Pittsburgh can put itself in position to salvage their season. A loss would drop the Steelers to 1-5 and football purgatory. The Ravens appear to be suffering from a Super Bowl hangover, either that or losing Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin and more in a single off-season has proven too much overcome. Steelers win 23-20
Denver Broncos @ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS +7
Indianapolis has the potential to be a very good football team if their coaching staff realizes the obvious. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is a superstar, or at least he should be, but the Colts offensive game plan has insisted to rely on a shaky rushing attack. Free Andrew Luck! Throw the football down the field! The fact that Luck is my fantasy football quarterback has nothing to do with my impassioned plea for more passes. I swear. Denver wins a close one in Peyton Manning’s dramatic return to Indianapolis. Broncos win 31-28
Minnesota Vikings @ NEW YORK GIANTS -4
The Toilet Bowl on a Monday Night? This is an outrage! The Vikings travel to New York to play the winless Giants in an epic battle of bad football. If the NFL wasn’t amazing, and if football wasn’t everything that’s wonderful in the world, I wouldn’t even watch this stinker. The Giants win a game nobody cares about, a safety is the difference. Giants win 8-3