Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Week 10 NFL Picks: November To Dismember

Welcome to the very last bye week of the very last NFL season ever. What, you aren't living in The Fear of the coming NFL Apocalypse Lockout / Mayan Disaster / Tea Party Socialism Zombie Uprising?

Plus, Thursday night games on the cursed NFL Network start this week. Gahhh.

Well, dammit, HAVE SOME FEAR. How am I supposed to get you to click on the ruinous Buy Gold links, get you to buy chalky MREs for your bunker, desalinization tablets to help you choke down your own urine after the infrastructure fails, and the rest of the fun fun fun End Times catalog? I've got a bunker of my own to outfit here, people, and the NFL betting hasn't been doing enough of that fine work.

But it all changes now that it's November, and we've completely figured out who the good teams are, and, um, whatever. Unlike Some People Who Will Remain Obnoxious, I don't claim to have A System, a Track Record, or even enough shotguns to deal with the damn zombies. What I've got instead is a red guitar, three chords, and the truth. The rest? That's up to you.

And with that... on to the picks!

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Baltimore at ATLANTA (-1) (TH Night)

Oh, the sweet misery of the Thursday night game. For the umpteenth straight year, it will be on a cable network that most people do not get, drive untold numbers of fantasy hinks out of their minds due to the failure to set their lineups in time, and cause any number of pick players to also curse the NFL. All for the sake of getting people to pay for the privilege of watching Deion Sanders on their television, and a host of other things to regret. Ah well. On to the actual game, featuring two teams that I like more than I should this year...

I love home dome favorites in short weeks; they've just got all kinds of advantages, really. The Ravens counter that a bit from coming off the bye, but their secondary, despite a fine effort last week at home against Miami, isn't airtight enough to match up to WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez. I also suspect that RB Michael Turner can have some success here, given how RB Cedric Benson, a similar but inferior back to the Burner, has done them repeatedly in the past couple of years. More points than you might expect, given that the Falcons will have secondary issues of their own, but the home team wins.

Falcons 27, Ravens 24

Detroit at BUFFALO (-3)

The second straight week that the winless Bills are a favorite, and the second straight week that I'm getting suckered in. Last week, this didn't end well, as the Bills spit the bit against the Bears in Toronto. This week in upstate New York, look for the effort to finally be enough, as the Lions are going to be giving time to QB Drew Stanton. They also haven't been nearly as good on the road, and I'm expecting something of a lapse after last week's heartbreak at home against the Jets, when coach Jim Schwartz showed that he wasn't all that bright. Plus, dome team on the road in cold weather. That's got to count for something.

Bills 24, Lions 20

CINCINNATI at Indianapolis (-8)

The Bengals are just a maddening team, really. Talented enough to scare any team, division winners a year ago, and DOA before Thanksgiving this year. This week in Indy, they'll face a Colts team that should be primed for a runaway, seeing how they lost a winnable game last week against Philly, and the Bengals might be very close to Quit Mode now that they are 2-6. But the Bengals do run the ball reasonably well, the Colts don't defend that all that well, and QB Carson Palmer is one of the best in the business at getting numbers while behind. Besides, the Colts aren't healthy enough to blow anyone out. The Bengals will cover.

Colts 31, Bengals 24

New York Jets at CLEVELAND (+1)

The second straight week of Mangini Vengeance, and it looks like Vegas is finally giving them a semblance of credit. The Jets won last week in Detroit on smoke and mirrors, and seem like they are straining right now. I like the Browns' offensive line, perhaps the most underrated unit in the league, to eventually exert their will at home... but for the Jets to somehow suck out anyway. It's their year, and more importantly, it's not Cleveland's.

Jets 20, Browns 17

HOUSTON at Jacksonville (-3)

The perpetually disappointing Texans go to the home of the worst .500 team this side of the AFC West. When the Jags lose, they do it with a vengeance, and one of these weeks, the Texans have to remind everyone why they looked like the new power in the AFC South. It's now or never time for either of these middling coaches, and for one of the few times this year, that actually favors the Texans.

Texans 26, Jaguars 21

MINNESOTA at Chicago (+1)

If you could have put odds on the idea that these teams would be a combined 8-8 when they met at the start of the year, the payoff wouldn't have been large... but the idea that the Bears would be the team with 5 wins and a 2-game lead on Team Purple in the standings? Not so much. Despite the home field and the fact that the Vikings can lose to anyone, it's still too damned difficult to imagine that the Bears can keep QB Jay Cutler clean, or that Cutler can avoid back-breaking turnovers. The Save Chilly drive continues.

Vikings 23, Bears 20

Tennessee at MIAMI (+1)

Another week, another team for WR Randy Moss, who seems like an odd fit for a Titans team with a long-tenured coach that's always been a hard-ass. I get the theory -- the speed threat finally gets teams from putting a ridiculous number of guys in the box against RB Chris Johnson -- but the execution is another matter entirely, and I wonder if Moss will even give them enough to make up for the hurt WR Kenny Britt. Meanwhile, the Fish are due for a bounce-back, and QB Chad Hennie seems to be an every-other-week kind of guy, at least at this point in his career. I'm hoping that Miami is smart enough to keep with the program rather than try for the short term help that would be QB Chad Pennington, but either way, they'll get past the Titans.

Dolphins 23, Titans 16

Carolina at TAMPA (-7)

For everyone who wants to claim that the Cowboys are the worst team in football... well, as always, the people from Texas overrate what they have. At least the Cowboys have a QB on the roster, who will eventually come back, that should still be drawing a paycheck in the NFL in two years, whether it's here or somewhere else. The Panthers? Not so much. This week in Tampa, they'll draw a 5-3 Bucs team that gave the division-leading Falcons everything they could handle on the road the last time out. I'm really not thinking they'll have a problem with this Panther team right now. As a matter of fact, I'm really not thinking that many football teams in America, regardless of age or gender, would have a truly hard time with the Panthers.

Bucs 24, Panthers 13

KANSAS CITY at Denver (+2.5)

Gut-check time for the Chiefs, who lost a highly winnable game last week in Oakland, and now have to stare down the 2-6 basement Broncos in their bid to keep the lead in the division. Denver is coming off a bye and better than they've shown recently, which isn't to say that they are actually good. Look for the Chiefs to control it early on the ground, get a big play on special teams, and do just enough in the passing game to cover the number.

Chiefs 24, Broncos 20

ST. LOUIS at San Francisco (-5)

One of these days, the up and coming Rams will show up on the road and make their move to win the division. Why not this week, against a Niner team that isn't coached well enough to take advantage of the bye? I'll probably regret this, but QB Sam Bradford has a way of making me want to believe.

Rams 20, Niners 16

Dallas at NY GIANTS (-13.5)

Is there a number that you wouldn't take in this game? The Giants are hitting on all cylinders, and the Cowboys have quit so bad that no one is blaming Jerruh Jones for finally putting Wade Philips out of his misery. At least this one isn't in prime time.

Giants 31, Cowboys 10

Seattle at ARIZONA (-3)

Do I really have to pick one of these teams? Well, so be it. Home team to cover, road Seahawks might be the worst team in football. Especially if QB Matt Hasselbeck continues to miss time. Seahawk Fan isn't feeling very confident about the Charlie Whitehurst Era right about now...

Cardinals 21, Seahawks 14

New England at PITTSBURGH (-4.5)

Let's see. The Pats just spent the last week getting steamrolled by the inferior power team from Cleveland, albeit one with a solid offensive line and a bye week to rest and prepare. Now they get to go to the Burg and face a similar but superior club in the Steelers for the de facto Regular Season AFC Championship... and we're supposed to take the road team how? Without WR Randy Moss, they are quite defensible until TE Aaron Hernandez and WR Brandon Tate become dependable vets (three to five years), unless you actually believe in the return of WR Deion Branch. The running game's usual collection of replacement level player isn't going to do much, either -- especially in the red zone, and especially against the usually stout Pittsburgh run defense.

On the other side of the ball, look for the Steelers to re-establish the controlled passing game, then mix in back-breakers to WR Mike Wallace. The only thing that's giving me pause is the exceptional Patriot special teams, but you can't live in fear of that.

Steelers 27, Patriots 16

PHILADELPHIA at Washington (+3)

If things were reversed, I'd know exactly what would happen here. The Redskins would be coming to Philly to play Donovan McNabb after a bye. The Eagles would have staggered into the bye with an ugly loss, with a week of media machinations over who was to blame for this tragedy. McNabb would come out to a smattering of boos and mostly applause, have some early success to turn the crowd, then salt it away late. Everything would be fine and dandy in Eagle Land, and the team would be set up to go on a rush in the last 6 to 10 weeks to set up the inevitable playoff fail.

This year, of course, things are very different. McNabb is in DC, fending off screams for his job, questions about racism regarding a poorly timed demotion (what, you think it's easy to call a decent black man lazy, fat and shiftless without someone noticing?), and long-term questions about the team's commitment to him. The Eagles are coming off an unbearably officiated win against the Colts to continue Andy Reid's insane post-bye streak, and if the Giants would only cooperate and fall apart, they'd be the best in a bad division. As is, they look like a very possible wildcard, and a clear favorite on the road if they are only fortunate enough to get the NFC's West representative. (That sound you just heard was the fans of all four of those teams grinding their teeth in silent hate, since they know I'm right.)

The Skins always play this game tough, and if they get back RB George Clinton Portis for this game (rumored) or RB Ryan Torain (better at some things, much worse at others), they will have much more funk in the trunk. But despite Portis' lifelong Eagle Killing, McNabb doesn't have the weapons (particularly deep, since he lacks patience, and you would too with this line) to compete against these suddenly sound CBs (thank you, Dmitri Patterson!).

Besides, there's only so much damage you can do with a TE when your offensive line can't block, and so long as QB Michael Vick doesn't get lit up, the Eagle passing game will put up numbers. Possibly even if he does.

Eagles 27, Redskins 20

Last week: 5-7-1

Year to date: 54-65-12

Lifetime: 334-342-23

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