"Here's a bonus for you. Who owns the blimp?"
"Right, honey. But who paid for the blimp?"
"Nope. We did."
"I did? I did not!"
"Well, you kind of did..."
So then I explained taxation, and also gave her the understanding that adults don't always know what they are doing, and that the military spies on people with blimps. All in fourth grade! Who says the kids don't learn important lessons from homework?
Important lessons have also been learned in the picks column this year, and that lesson is that six out of seven winning weeks was all I needed to get past coin flipping for the career. Let's keep the momentum going, shall we?
And with that... on to the picks!
* * * * *
MIAMI (+7.5) at New England
What a difference a coach with a pulse makes. The Dolphins have been slapping down fools ever since moving on from their own fool, and while I doubt that they've got enough to quell the Empire in their own domain, covering the spread with late tempo action seems possible. Besides, they are physical enough to force some drops, which is the key to slowing this offense down. (Because you can't get to the QB with so many quick throws, and the refs tend to call any non-perfect hit.)
Patriots 27, Dolphins 24
DETROIT (+5.5) at Kansas City
Taking another road dog here, because the game is in London and, hence, isn't really a road game for them. Detroit has been better than their record, which isn't saying much, and KC's defense has not impressed.
Chiefs 34, Lions 30
Tampa at ATLANTA (-7.5)
The Falcons have been playing secretly bad football for a while now, and are probably due for an out and out fail... but the Bucs just spit the bit on a huge lead in DC, and this defense just doesn't put enough pressure on the passer, especially in a loud road date. I think the Falcons are going to fade down the stretch and be an easy out, but the tide hasn't come for them yet.
Falcons 34, Bucs 20
ARIZONA (-4.5) at Cleveland
I'm sold on Red as a secretly complete team, because this secondary is just exceptional, and that's the key to being a plus squad in the NFL now. Also, RB Chris Johnson's re-emergence gives them another level, and the Factory of Sadness has to mix in a loss that isn't a heart breaker. For variety.
Cardinals 27, Browns 17
San Francisco at ST. LOUIS (-8)
Road game, dome game, dominant defense and an emerging ground game. The spread is higher than I'd love -- this one has suckout cover written all over it -- but you can't bet on the suckout. This might be one of those games where RB Todd Gurley just ruins everyone's week.
Rams 26, Niners 17
NY Giants at NEW ORLEANS (-3.5)
I just haven't been very impressed by Blue for a while now, who are playing Musical Running Back, can't get push from the lines, and are banged up in the secondary. The Saints have been playing better ball as of late, and could be feisty here.
Saints 27, Giants 20
MINNESOTA (-1) at Chicago
Another winnable division game for Purple, who are setting themselves up for a feel-good, then get crushed, wild-card kind of year. Chicago's lack of healthy weapons also isn't helping them here.
Vikings 24, Bears 20
San Diego at BALTIMORE (-3)
1pm EST / 10am PST game for the Chargers, who look cursed this year, with RB Melvin Gordon putting off Trent Richardson level fail vibes. The Ravens have been in every game, and are due to just win a game flat out.
Ravens 27, Chargers 20
CINCINNATI (pick 'em) at Pittsburgh
Really tough line to select with QB Ben Roethlisberger's status still somewhat up in the air, but even if he's back, you have to think there will be rust. This Bengals team is also coming off a bye, and can beat you in a lot of ways.
Bengals 26, Steelers 24
Tennessee at HOUSTON (pick 'em)
Two of the worst teams in football right now, so give me the home team with attitude about losing a QB over tardiness, and with a defense that gets to face QB2 with not ready for prime time WRs.
Texans 24, Titans 17
NEW YORK JETS (-2) at Oakland
A game that looked like Dog Of The Week in pre-season is now an old-school AFC test, with the Jets trying to bounce back from their defining loss in New England, and Oakland trying to manage prosperity. Give me the road team with the defense.
Jets 24, Raiders 16
SEATTLE (-6) at Dallas
I'm missing something here with this line. Seattle has extra rest, looked very good in dismantling the Niners, and aren't playing QB3, in that QB1 got hurt and QB2 got mothballed, like the home team. Oh, and they also don't have an undiagnosed psycopath throwing tantrums on the sideline, and no home field advantage in a ginormous palace of ego. What a train wreck.
Seahawks 26, Cowboys 17
GREEN BAY (-2.5) at Denver
Exposure Time for Broncos QB Peyton Manning, who just can't get it done often enough anymore to get past a great opponent, no matter how good his defense is. It also does not help that he's doesn't have a running game. As for the Pack, nice way to schedule your tough road game right after your bye.
Packers 27, Broncos 24
Indianapolis at CAROLINA (-7)
Hate giving up this many points for the Panthers, who really are due for a letdown game, but it's hard to see how it happens at home against a fraud club like the Colts. Besides, you have to think that QB Cam Newton is going to put up big numbers on national TV, just to show how he's better than Andrew Luck. (He's probably not wrong, especially this year.)
Panthers 27, Colts 19
Last week: 9-4
Year to date: 58-42-1