Oh, and my nose has been so jammed up with persistent crud from the El Nino non-winter that I'm ready to just cut it off. It hurts like hell every day, is a constant distraction, doesn't get better with any medication or exercise or sleep or nothing.
Also, I'm short on cash, have an exploding amount of crap work to do, can't get a full night's sleep, feel stressed at work, and so on, and so on. As you might imagine, all of this is just doing wonders for my mood, and even less for my Christmas spirit. I'm really just looking forward to the whole thing being over.
Which just seems awful and terrible and wrong, but that's the great part about middle age. You know that every Christmas does not have to be teats and beer, because that's the way the world works, and some times, you just have to slug through it. Buy the replacement set, eat the expense, know that the nose can't stay like this forever, and try to find joy when you can.
Like, say, the picks, which have been on the winning side many more weeks than not. Or the fantasy league, which actually has a chance of not losing money. (For fantasy football and me, this is a Big Deal.)
And with that... on to the picks!
* * * * *
TAMPA (+2.5) at St Louis -- Tampa crapped the bed last week, but isn't likely to do it again, while opposing a DOA team with only one guy (RB Todd Gurley) on offense who's worth his per diem.
NY JETS (-3) at Dallas -- What does the gambling public need to happen to stop giving the Cowboys short lines? The Jets have a defense, good skill people, and the ability to turn Dallas QB Matt Cassel over, which is to say, they are sentient and warm-blooded. Oh, and one team still has realistic playoff hopes, too.
CHICAGO (-5.5) at Minnesota - Hunch bet for a closer game than the line indicates.
Atlanta at JACKSONVILLE (-3) -- Jaguars put up a 50-burger on the Colts last week, and the Falcons have been roadkill for months now.
Houston at INDIANAPOLIS (even) - Bounce-back game for the Colts, plus the Texans have shorter rest and TJ Yates. Ye gads, the AFC South is horrible.
CAROLINA (-5.5) at NY Giants - Yes, Big Blue is better than their record, but the Panthers are just as good as theirs, and they are undefeated. Plus, well, shorter rest and a monstrous defense.
Tennessee at NEW ENGLAND (-14) - A lot of points to carry, but the Titan defense isn't good, the Pats are usually deadly at home, and they've got just enough injuries for HC Bill Belichick to pull out the Super Genius Card.
BUFFALO (-1) at Washington -- Just not seeing the Bills crapping the bed in back to back weeks, or the Racial Slurs making it. In the trenches, assuming they aren't making it a penalty fest, Buffalo's a lot better.
KANSAS CITY (-7.5) at Baltimore -- The Chiefs survived a scare game last week against the Chargers at home, so this line looks high for a road game... until you consider that the Ravens have had an injury record his year that makes one wonder if they stole the team from some other city or something. What a schedule this team has been gifted with; it's going to make their first round playoff defeat so obvious.
Cleveland at SEATTLE (-14.5) -- Again, a lot of points, but the 'Hawks have been explosive recently, and I'm betting the Browns' run defense won't be able to stop whoever gets the carries for the home team. (Latest word is that's old friend Bryce Brown, on something like his fifth team in three years. Dude's still fast and can turn the corner against air, though.)
GREEN BAY (-3) at Oakland -- All kinds of Trap Game writ large on this one, but (a) they figured some things out in the running game last week, and (b) I don't believe in Trap Games, seeing how you always remember when they happen, and not the 12 other times when they didn't.
DENVER (+6.5) at Pittsburgh -- Just think this number is too high, and that people are overreacting to a bad drop day that cost the Broncos against Oakland last week. The Steeler defense is prone to giving up big plays, and as explosive as the offense can be, they also aren't nearly as deadly in the red zone as the were when they had LeVeon Bell. The home team wins, but doesn't cover.
Miami at SAN DIEGO (-2) - Dog teams, dog game, so give me the dog with more rest and less travel. No chance anyone will be watching this one for anything but fantasy and gambling issues. (I.e., gambling and more gambling.)
CINCINNATI (-4.5) at San Francisco - Gut check time for the Bengals, who are hearing all kinds of Choke Noises and have to win a road game with QB2. They'll get it done with an ugly grinding running game, and a defense that will treasure a game without plus weapons.
ARIZONA (-3.5) at Philadelphia - Philly doesn't really need the game, as all they have to do is win Week 16 and 17 to get the division. Arizona is a lot better in a lot of places, and while the home team might get frisky on the defense and elsewhere, that's not how you bet.
Detroit at NEW ORLEANS (-3). Just for the home crowd. Yet another terrible game for ESPN; couldn't happen to more deserving people,
Last week: 9-7