|It's a sad show, too|
It's not that the NFL is the biggest show on TV now; it's that at times it feels like it's the only show on TV. (Quick, name me another show that's on Monday nights. See? All I could think of was wrestling, and you're not making that media buy if you are running the Star Wars campaign.)
I'm not saying that TV is bad; far from it. In terms of actual quality of work, I think television is as good as it has ever been, especially on scripted series on cable. But in terms of big audiences, nothing compares to the league.
This also means that media is, well, incredibly compromised about covering the league. Opposition to stadium construction, the DC name, concussion issues, Roger Goodell's various errors... all of these scandals seem to get major play, but it's nothing compared to what might happen if all of the biggest networks didn't pay through the nose to broadcast the games. Honestly, the biggest media outlet in the country that isn't in bed with the league might be PBS or Al Jazeera. And the people that keep challenging the NFL keep winding up jobless.
It's all just one more reason why you have to hold your nose to watch these games now... but the smell hasn't kept us from being on the north side of coin flips in picks ever since Week One, and have nearly redeemed the career mark. So we're not stopping now. And with that... on to the picks!
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SEATTLE (-6.5) at San Francisco
Gut check time for the defending NFC champions, who have somehow turned a secondary with two Pro Bowl safeties into an outfit that can't cover a team with a Pro Bowl TE, and nothing else. There's also serious offensive line issues, and some aches and pains to RB Marshawn Lynch and RB Fred Jackson. So why take them and lay the points? Because the Niners have no actual home field advantage, and I just think their pedigree will show in a short week.
Seahawks 27, Niners 17
Buffalo at JACKSONVILLE (+6)
Too many points to give the Jags, who have been frisky despite just one win so far this year, and have more experience than anyone in the NFL at making the big plane trip to London. Besides, Buffalo is banged up on offense, and don't have the pass rush they expected. This game is on Yahoo, which in a related story, just announced a terrible earnings period. Enjoy this game on a new channel, folks! Probably won't happen again!
Bills 24, Jaguars 20
TAMPA (+3.5) at Washington
The Bucs are coming off a bye and have discovered the running game recently, which means they just need rookie QB Jameis Winston. There's also the possibility that the NFC South is just so much better than the NFC lEast that you should always take a team from the former over the latter. Oh, and QB Kirk Cousins is freaking awful.
Bucs 24, Slurs 23
ATLANTA (-3.5) at Tennessee
The Falcons aren't much of a road team historically, and showed that to a disturbing degree in giving the previously lifeless Saints a jump start on Terrible Night Football. But extra time and facing a Titans team with the possibility of a missing QB1 is enough to make me think they'll get it done.
Falcons 27, Titans 20
New Orleans at INDIANAPOLIS (-4.5)
Lost in the insanity of SNF's Puntgate was that the Colts actually played much of a good game, with the WRs making a lot of plays they hadn't been making, and the defense actually slowing down the Pats' Armada for much of the game. This number, at home, against this team qualifies as a very nice gift. So is the Saint secondary.
Colts 34, Saints 20
MINNESOTA (-2.5) at Detroit
Time for the up and coming Vikings to step up and win a division game in a road dome. The Lions finally got a win last week, with QB Matthew Stafford remembering that WR Calvin Johnson exists and is good at catching long passes, but the running game is still a mess, and the defense down to just one actual pass rusher. Look for Minny to grind out a win.
Vikings 22, Lions 17
PITTSBURGH (-2) at Kansas City
Hard game to figure, with the Steelers having QB issues, and the Chiefs in full desperation mode over their own disaster of a year. I think the road team gets it done in something of a coin flip red zone game, but honestly, picking this game before there's clarity on the QB situation is nuts.
Steelers 24, Chiefs 20
Cleveland at ST. LOUIS (-5.5)
The Factory of Sadness has been covering spreads for the better part of a month, but Rams RB Todd Gurley is a monster, and the Browns' biggest problem has been rush defense. St. Louis is also coming off a bye, and could be ready to do a lot of damage with their defense in this one.
Rams 27, Browns 17
Houston at MIAMI (-4)
The Dolphins are ready to do their usual routine of looking good for an interim coach, until he actually gets the gig for real. Miami should just change coaches every week, making sure to alternate between happy talk players coaches and tight ass disciplinarians. Strong possibility they win this game on defense, too.
Dolphins 23, Texans 17
NY JETS (+9) at New England
These games are either field goal affairs or Patriot blowouts, and I'm thinking the former on this one. RB Chris Ivory is playing great, the Jets should be able to sustain offense with their sneaky good WR corps, and the Jet defense should be able to get off the field occasionally. Besides, it's the only 4pm game half of the nation will see, so the refs will do everything they can to keep it close.
Patriots 27, Jets 24
Oakland at SAN DIEGO (-4)
The Chargers have been losing close heartbreakers for weeks now, and have also been losing playmakers at an appalling rate. They also get a Raider team that's off the bye, in the unofficial battle for New LA Team(s). Oakland's got some scary good young talent, but they also have a coach whose name, in Spanish, means Masturbate A River. That can't be good.
Chargers 27, Raiders 20
Dallas at NY GIANTS (-3.5)
Dallas comes in off a bye, with new QB Matt Cassel and new RB1 Christine Michael, to a Giants team that crapped the bed in monumental ways in the MNF game in Philly. I think the home team recovers and does some things on defense, because Cassel is awful and Michael isn't much better, and WR Dez Bryant still isn't back. Oh, and the NFC lEast is a dumpster fire. With the dumpster filled with human waste.
Giants 31, Cowboys 23
Philadelphia at CAROLINA (-3)
Carolina is due for a letdown after an escape in Seattle, and the Eagle defense has been doing great work for much of the season... but the idea that these are equivalent teams (which is what Vegas tends to believe when the home team is given the 3-point cushion) is insane. Carolina is undefeated, has a real QB, is at home. Philly is 3-3 without coming anywhere close to playing a full game on offense, and is also on short rest following the MNF game. I don't have any kind of feel on this one, but I can't help but think the line is cheating a small market team.
Panthers 24, Eagles 20
Baltimore at ARIZONA (-8.5)
Rough road sequence for the DOA Ravens, who just got worked by the Niners, and now have to face the vastly better Cardinals. Arizona also can't sleep on this one, seeing how they are somehow just 4-2. On the MNF stage, where the games have somehow become nearly as bad as Terrible Night Football, I think this gets ugly.
Cardinals 34, Ravens 17
Last week: 7-6-1
Year to date: 49-39-1