It's also been, well, one long turd of a year, honestly. Illnesses, employment challenges, money worries, starting my own business, struggling to meet fitness and fiscal goals and needs... never ending, much of it not as good as what came before. That's what your mid to late '40s is like, or at least has been for me. What can you live with, what must you fight against, and trying just to make good choices.
Such as with this week's picks, written in haste, decided with caprice, and trying to recover so that we can keep what's been a fine year on the side of the angels.
And with that... on to the picks!
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San Diego at OAKLAND (-6) - A big line for an erratic young team, but the Chargers spent their emotional all last week saying good bye to their yard, and just don't have the lines or skill people to get ahead or stay close.
WASHINGTON (+3) at Philadelphia - While DC has been a terrible road team for most of the year, it's not like Chip Kelly's minions of character and limited ability have done much to defend the home ground. In the de facto NFC lEast title game, take the team with the better skill players (especially at, cough, wideout) and the defense that hasn't given up 40+ points in 3 of the last 5 games. It won't be enough to get Nero run, but oh, Lord, it should be.
NEW ENGLAND (-3) at NY Jets - New England wants the bye, while the Jets are just trying to stay in the picture in the white-hot AFC wild card race. (Shame we couldn't just give the missing team the South crown.) While Green is just as good or better in the trenches, and the Pats are missing pieces, I'm counting on HC Bill Belichick to turn Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick back into, well, himself.
HOUSTON (pick 'em) at Tennessee -- Battle of back ups, so take the team with the best unit. That's Houston's defense, and the home field won't matter.
Cleveland at KANSAS CITY (-12) -- A ton of points to give up, but the Chiefs are on a roll, actually still have a home field advantage, and have a defense that might get the killshot score to make the number on their own.
Indianapolis at MIAMI (-2.5) - Which teams wants it least? Going with the home team with the coach who might be here next year, versus the road team who won't. Oh, and the home team has a QB who isn't on the wrong side of 40, and utterly beaten to hell.
SAN FRANCISCO (+10) at Detroit - Smelling a cover for the road team here, as Detroit's got a short week, not very much to play for, and will be one dimensional due to their terrible running game.
Dallas at BUFFALO (-6) - Do the Bills have any pride after back to back lEastern losses? Hard to say, but a Dallas team with QB4 on the road with no good WRs (Dez Bryant is a name, not a player, at least this year) shouldn't be able to do much against any defense of note. Or even this one.
CHICAGO (+3) at Tampa - Bucs haven't done nearly enough at home to stay in the race, and the Bears might have that don't care any more je ne c'est quoi. That's French for "Jay Cutler Don't Care."
CAROLINA (-7) at Atlanta - Last week was the game that the Panthers should have blown, what with all of the referee malfeasance, weird turnovers, special teams miscues and the like. They won anyway, because they've got the best QB in the NFL this year. Against a Falcons team that's only alive by a thread, they'll smell the 16-0 finish line. Besides, thanks to Arizona, they haven't clinched home field yet.
PITTSBURGH (-10) at Baltimore - A huge number by the historical standards of this alley fight of a division rivalry game, but the Ravens are crippled and starting back ups, while the Steelers are hitting on all cylinders on offense. This week, even the defense will look good.
JACKSONVILLE (+3.5) at New Orleans - Do you feel good about a home favorite with a historically weak defense, and an aging QB with significant injury issues? I sure as hell don't. Go with the Jags and their young weapons to pile up more fantasy goodness.
St. Louis at SEATTLE (-13) - Boy, does Seattle look like world beaters right now or what? Usually this division game is tougher than it looks, but going against QB Russell Wilson when he's this hot takes more faith than I'll ever have in Jeff Fisher on the road.
Green Bay at ARIZONA (-4.5) - To go with the Pack here, you have to be sold on the idea that the Honey Badger really was everything to this defense, so much that the sputtering Yellow line will give QB Aaron Rodgers enough time to match serve. Just not seeing it, especially with a Packer defense that's been erratic at best.
NY Giants at MINNESOTA (-5.5) - Big Blue is without their WR1, on the road in a night game, and could easily be playing for nothing if DC does the job the night before. Oh, and Minny's also a lot better in the trenches. Don't know why NBC flexed this game, but they are probably hating the decision hard now that Beckham's out.
Cincinnati at DENVER (-3.5) - The Bengals won't be able to run it, and QB2 A.J. McCarron isn't going to be able to get it done against a quality defense. Denver will also need the game to hold off the charging Chiefs. For once, MNF will be better than SNF.
Last week: 7-8-1