Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Week 13 NFL Picks: Winning Time

After three-plus months of wandering in the picking wilderness, two reasonable weeks have brought me back to .500, or within hailing distance of actually making some coin from all of this effort. (I know, I'm as surprised as you are.) So I'm going to try to keep up the momentum by continuing the freeball move of not overthinking this. And with that... on to the picks!

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HOUSTON at Philadelphia (-9)

The line's just too big for a home team that's had trouble all year putting away teams, let alone one with a good power back in RB Arian Foster, and the best WR in the game in Andre Johnson. The Texans' pass defense is historically bad, and a 60-point over is certainly reachable, but without a 100% Asante Samuel, there's no way that the Birds will cover a big number.

Eagles 38, Texans 31

New Orleans at CINCINNATI (+7)

Another fairly simple case where disgust for the home dog is outpacing the number. The Saints aren't the same 2009 pinball machine, and the Bengals have been awfully good at padding the stats in garbage time. Look for WR Terrell Owens to continue his huge payday year for late round fantasy players.

Saints 30, Bengals 24

CHICAGO at Detroit (+3.5)

OK, Bears -- you've sold me. At least on your defense, which is simply disciplined enough to make a team like the Lions give up a short field, and let QB Jay Cutler avoig the crippling mistakes that will wind up costing this team big later. Besides, after making WR DeSean Jackson pull a MIA last week, WR Calvin Johnson does not fill me with terror, and the Lions' collapse in the second half against the Patriots is starting to seem like a habit.

Bears 24, Lions 16

SAN FRANCISCO at Green Bay (-9.5)

Are you really comfortable laying nearly double digits for any home team in the NFC, against any road dog? I'm not so much anymore, especially when the road team has a QB (Troy Smith) that's making some plays, and the road team has protection issues. The Pack will win this thing relatively easy, but a cover is another matter.

Packers 27, Niners 20

JACKSONVILLE at Tennessee (NL)

Man alive, the Titans look like they've quit, or just don't have any hope of doing anything on offense. As much as I don't like the Jags on the road, they gave a reasonable enough effort in New York last week, and they are still playing for something. The Titans? Not so much. The next time you see a fantasy league owner of RB Chris Johnson, don't make eye contact.

Jaguars 24, Titans 10

Denver at KANSAS CITY (-6.5)

The Chiefs' running game is hitting on all cylinders right now, so much so that QB Matt Cassel even looks good. While the Broncos are certainly capable of a cover, the defense looks like they are getting close to quitting, and Arrowhead is not exactly a fun place to play. Add in the potential for a back-breaking special teams play from the Chiefs, and I'm liking the number.

Chiefs 31, Broncos 24

Cleveland at MIAMI (-5.5)

I like this Browns team, but not so much on the road against a quality defense, and you have to think that RB Peyton Hillis can't continue to be the best back in the world. Especially when his QB is this marginal, and the Dolphins line is capable of laying a beatdown. Finally, I'm just not a fan of cold weather teams playing in warm weather in December. Doesn't that sound like a decent theory? If it works out, I'm totally owning it.

Dolphins 24, Browns 16

BUFFALO at Minnesota (-6.5)

This Bills' club is doing everything it can to make Bills Fan put his head in the oven, despite coming into the year thinking that they weren't going to win more than four games. On the road against a Vikings' team that might not have a full power RB Adrian Peterson, I'm seeing yet another heartbreaking cover.

Vikings 24, Bills 23

WASHINGTON at NY Giants (-8)

This Giants' team has injury issues all over the place, particularly at the WR position, and the Redskins' defense isn't completely defunct. Besides, I just can't shake the idea that they are more than a little fraudulent, division games are always tight, and the Giants gave up their home-field advantage once they got a new yard. Such things are almost poetic in their justice, right?

Giants 24, Redskins 20

Oakland at SAN DIEGO (-12.5)

Another year, another big closing rush for the Chargers... and another sudden and inexplicable collapse by the Raiders, who looked like so much more than this before their bye. Since then, the running game has evaporated, no one but WR Jacoby Ford seems to still be playing, and the defense has been better at post-whistle fouls than anything that's actually football-related. The Charger defense will create turnovers, and the Charger offense will convert them. Pretty simple game, really.

Chargers 31, Raiders 17

Dallas at INDIANAPOLIS (-5.0)

The Colts are getting deep into the Just Not Very Good Zone now, but I'm just not trusting QB Jon Kitna to maintain ball control in a road dome game, or the Dallas defense being able to avoid a bounce-back game from QB Peyton Manning. But any game that features a 5-point home favorite is right in the zone of Anything Can Happen, so buyer beware.

Colts 27, Cowboys 20

ST. LOUIS at Arizona (-3)

The Rams finally broke their road cherry last week, and the Cardinals looked terrible at home against the Niners on MNF. In the absence of any other driving feature, give me the team with a QB that doesn't make sighted people envy the blind.

Rams 24, Cardinals 16

Carolina at SEATTLE (-6.5)

The Panthers nearly won last week. I know this isn't really news, but it still needs to be noted, for posterity. This week, I think they more or less mail it in, rather than try very hard on the road, after a long road trip, against a club that got de-pantsed last week.

Seahawks 30, Panthers 17

ATLANTA at Tampa Bay (+2.5)

The Falcons are doing everything they can to lock down the #1 seed in the NFC, and while the Bucs do everything they can to show their fans that they have a good future, that future isn't here just yet. Particularly when the road team brings a top-tier talent trio at QB/RB/WR.

Falcons 24, Bucs 20

Pittsburgh at BALTIMORE (-2.5)

Too many injuries and too much age on the lines is dooming what could have been a great Steelers' year, and while the Ravens have issues and a strangely unproductive year from WR Anquan Boldin, they'll have enough to cover this grudge match. Not that there isn't the huge potential to blow the game on a late defensive penalty that totally makes the Ravens lose their head... but LB James Harrison can match them flag for flag. A worthy prime time game, at least.

Ravens 24, Steelers 21

NY JETS at New England (-3)

The other great game this week actually makes MNF worth watching. I hate picking the Jets to sweep the series, because the Pats are so good at adjustments, and the Jets have some smoke and mirror aspects to them. But it's tough to see how the Pats make enough big plays on offense to overcome negative moments, or how they'll run for more than, say, 60 yards. Like last year's Cowboys versus the Eagles, some teams are just built to beat other clubs.

Jets 24, Patriots 20

Last week: 10-6

Year to date: 82-82-14

Lifetime: 362-359-24

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