Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week 6 NFL Pick: The Full Heisenberg

A couple of weeks ago, Netflix added "Breaking Bad" to its Instant Queue, giving me the chance to rewatch my favorite show like, well, ever. (A small point here: I have not watched the current season. I just watch these on DVDs; I can't be bothered with DVRs or remembering when the live show is on. So please don't spoil it for me by talking about the current year. Moving on.) I'd rented the DVDs and more or less devoured them all when they came out, so taking my time with the episodes now is just great, and keeps me from thinking too much about the wasteland that is sports right now for my laundry.

In the first season of the show, the lead character starts to adopt a second persona -- Heisenberg, the namesake of the scientist who coined the idea of an uncertainty principle, or chaos. He shaves his head, buys an old-school hat, and more or less becomes a total bad ass, at least as much as a middle-aged high school science teacher and family man can go in that regard. And that's me, this year, in picking games, at least so far. I cheerfully cash in on the misery that is the Eagles, aka the worst running favorite in the history of the league. I enjoy the Packers running up scores, reading the back and forth world of the Ravens and Raiders, and riding the fact that the world can't accept that the Lions are this good.

It will, of course, all come crashing down around me later and ruin my life, but for now? Whatta rush. Over the vig, baby!

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Carolina at ATLANTA (-4)

Everyone loves Cam Newton, and he makes sure that his Panthers are in every game and make a ton of high point covers... but this isn't a high point cover any more, and the Falcons are coming off a very rare home loss. They will be missing WR Julio Jones, and WR Steve Smith will do damage in this game... but the Panthers' secondary isn't good enough to keep WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez down, and Newton will turn it over a couple of times in a loud dome, especially when his OL doesn't keep him clean.

Falcons 31, Panthers 20

INDIANAPOLIS at Cincinnati (-7)

Too big of a number for a team that isn't as good as they've shown so far, against a Colts team that has shown some signs of life behind QB Curtis Painter. As a Cedric Benson owner, I'd also like to personally thank his crack legal team for keeping him on the field for this matchup. Fight the good fight, gentlemen!

Bengals 24, Colts 21

San Francisco at DETROIT (-4.5)

Not sure what else the Lions have to do to convince people after the MNF beatdown of the Bears. Against the far less useful on the run Alex Smith, they'll get turnovers along with sacks, and eventually wear the game Niner defense down. The final score won't be as close as the game, and this could even be a playoff preview. What a year for the league.

Lions 30, Niners 20

St. Louis at GREEN BAY (-15.5)

Is there a number you won't take with this Packers team at home, against a winless dome team that's been DOA since Week One, when RB Stephen Jackson limped off and took their chance against Philly with him? The Packers are going to be focused on staying clean before the bye, on taking care of the missteps that kept last week's game in Atlanta in doubt, and on providing the unstoppable fantasy goodness that is Aaron Rodgers' year. And to think, some people (not me) thought he wasn't going to be the MVP again.

Packers 34, Rams 13

Buffalo at NY GIANTS (-3)

I get that Giant Fan is bent over his team losing to the Seahawks last week, and that holes were shown. I also get that this Buffalo team is just the feel good story of 2011; the little market team that could, with the secondary that keeps nailing TAInts to the wall, and the skill players that anyone could have had in their fantasy league free agent pool. But it ends here. The defense is starting to get healthier, they'll come in angry, and Buffalo doesn't need the game that much. Besides, having watched them nearly blow a big lead to the gutless Birds last week, let's just say that I'm not that thrilled with their talent.

Giants 24, Bills 17

Jacksonville at PITTSBURGH (-13)

A big number to give up for an erratic and old Steeler team that isn't completely healthy in the backfield... but lo, this Jaguars team is going to have a large amount of trouble dealing with this defense on the road, and they'll have real issues with Pittsburgh's sneaky great WRs. It will be a sweat cover all the way, with Jacksonville making late moves to make it even sweatier, but a cover nonetheless.

Steelers 31, Jaguars 17

Philadelphia at WASHINGTON (+1.5)

I don't know how many games the Eagles have to lose before the world accepts the fact that they aren't good, or talented, and that winning the division or going to the playoffs isn't going to happen, not ever. It's a pretty simple game; give up five yards a carry on every running play and turn it over a ton, and you aren't going to win games. Oh, and if you also suck in both the offensive and defensive red zones? That doesn't help. Washington has a week of rest, multiple RBs, TEs that can catch the ball and the division lead to protect. And I'm not buying the idea that the Eagles will come in desperate and clean; that was the story for the last two weeks, against teams that weren't as good on the lines as this Skins team has shown so far this year. Unless Sexy Rexy turns it over 3 to 4 times himself, the home team wins. And soon, the schedule actually turns hard, and Green starts losing games by double digits. But it's all OK... because Andy Reid is Coach For Life!

Redskins 31, Eagles 26

Cleveland at OAKLAND (-6)

A big line for the erratic Raiders, who are usually good for enough penalties and problems to make any line safe... but Cleveland just isn't showing the veracity you'd like to see away from home, and RB Peyton Hillis isn't the terror that he was in 2010. Look for Darren McFadden to make up for last week's sub-par performance, the Browns to not react well to the freshly energized hate coming from those stands, and for the Raider WRs to continue to be, well, deep and good. In a world where Darrius Heyward-Bey doesn't look useless, all things are possible. Oh, and if Sebastian Janikowski is just going to make 50+ yard field goals left and right, this offense is going to just keep adding up points all day.

Raiders 26, Browns 16

HOUSTON at Baltimore (-8)

Ah, the AFC's two best tease teams. Houston blew a game at home against Oakland and lost Mario Williams; Baltimore enjoyed their rest. I don't like the upset chance here, but I am pretty sure about the cover, just because the Texans have the kind of dual-threat attack that makes the bully Birds look old and ordinary. And if they came in with Williams and Andre Johnson? Well, I'd like the upset then.

Ravens 24, Texans 20

DALLAS at New England (-7.5)

The number's too high. Dallas has the rest, the urgency, and the weapons to do damage against the suspect Patriots secondary. They also come in with the scars of that Lions' comeback, and with a running game that can keep Tom Brady off the field. The Patriots continue to drive everyone crazy with suckout ref calls, TE mismatches, RB depth and Brady's accuracy... but still. Look for the home team to win it in the fourth, but not by enough to make the money. And I'm not even certain they'll win it, either. Just smells like a letdown game to me.

Patriots 31, Cowboys 30

NEW ORLEANS at Tampa Bay (+4)

Wow, some bad things happened to Tampa last week, no? A 45-point beatdown in San Francisco just does not seem like someone you can attribute to one bad week, and while they usually play the Saints tight at home, the bayou team just has too many weapons, and a reasonable nose for the ball in the secondary. With LeGarrette Blount likely out with a knee problem, the Bucs aren't going to be able to slug out 35 minutes of ball control, either. I like the Saints with a fair degree of comfort here.

Saints 30, Bucs 16

Minnesota at CHICAGO (-3)

Comfort time for the home team, who will get well at home against one of the league's top underperformers. Minny's chance is to run Adrian Peterson all day, and this Bears team will take that away. After that, it's just a surprisingly ordinary group of Viking WRS -- seriously, why is Bernard Berrian still in the league? -- and a QB in decline, against an offense that's oddly efficient, given its Mike Martzian pedigree. Prepare to hear that Bear fight song a lot, and Jay Cutler to have one of those great games that fools the gullible.

Bears 31, Vikings 16

Miami at NY JETS (-7)

QB Matt Moore, on the road, against a team that needs a win desperately, with a shutdown CB that will take away his one breakout WR? Look for the Jets to get well here, and Mark Sanchez to continue the recovery from that nationally televised depantsing by the Ravens two weeks ago. The lesson, as always, is this: healthy and solid interior line play matters a lot. With C Nick Mangold back from his troubles, the Jets should get that, and a lot more.

Jets 30, Dolphins 16

Last week: 9-4

Year to date: 43-31-3

Career: 450-436-18

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