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Week Eleven Picks

November 19th, 2009

Weeks like this one scare the living bejesus out of me. It all looks sooooo easy, which can only mean one thing: It’s gonna find a way to bite you in the ass. My guess is that at least three of the games with the great big spreads are gonna go the other way. I think I’ve got one of them figured (which means you can count on the favorite to not only win but cover in that game). You’re on your own with the rest. Here’s what not to expect:

Miami (+3) at Carolina
You know, I can’t for the life of me get behind the idea of picking one of these hideously uneven and more hideously unpredictable teams to win. So if it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll just pick one to lose. And there I’ve got to go with the team that can’t move the ball through the air and now finds itself short one running back. Or, turned the other way, I’m taking Carolina, by default, to win. Let’s say by four.

Indianapolis (-1) at Baltimore
You can come at this game any number of ways and it still comes out a coin toss. So here’s what I’m thinking: The Colts are bound to lose a game (maybe two) at some point. And as I look at their schedule this appears to be one of the more likely spots for that inevitable loss to come. That’s really no way to pick football games, but it’s what I’ve got. Ravens by a point.

Washington (+11) at Dallas
So the deal is that the Cowboys are gonna win the NFC East simply because none of the other teams want it, right? And then we’re gonna have to hear Dallas fans doing their little thing for two weeks or so between when the team clinches and when they get eliminated in the first or second round of the playoffs. That’s where it’s going? Great. Thanks, Giants. Thanks, Eagles. Cowboys by 20.

Cleveland (+3.5) at Detroit
OK, here’s the thing, Manjackass. LeBron James isn’t actually going to come and play for your team. Also, if he did, the only thing it would change is ticket sales. Maybe you should get your head out of your daydreams and teach your players how to hold on to the damned ball. Just a thought. I’m taking the Lions and (odd as it is to say) happily giving the points.

San Francisco (+6.5) at Green Bay
Last week, the 49ers put an end to the Bears’ season. This week, the Packers do the same thing to the Niners. Symmetry. Should be about the only thing remotely beautiful about this game. Green Bay by four.

Buffalo (+8.5) at Jacksonville
The last time Buffalo fired a coach mid-season, it was to bring in a guy who would lead them to four consecutive Super Bowls (yeah, I know how those games came out, but that’s not the point; four straight championship game appearances is amazing). This time, it appears they’re at least targeting a guy with the potential to make them a force once again. Should be interesting. For now, though, the team is in disarray. And that rarely sets the stage for good football. Jags by seven.

Pittsburgh (-10) at Kansas City
The Steelers probably were eliminated from real contention for the AFC North title last weekend. But I’m not sure they know it. And even if they do, they’re certainly not gonna put themselves in a position to surrender a wild card slot to Denver, San Diego or Baltimore. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are just finding new holes that need plugging. I’ve generally been reluctant to give double-digit points to Pittsburgh opponents this season, but I don’t see as I have much choice here. Steelers by 13.

Seattle (+11) at Minnesota
I still suspect that just when it looks like Brett Favre isn’t gonna wear down, he’s gonna wear down. But it ain’t gonna happen this weekend. Vikings by 17.

Atlanta (+6.5) at NY Giants
When I heard Gil Brandt point out on Sirius the other day that the home team hasn’t won a game between these two squads since 1991, I initially thought of it as one of those interesting but ultimately meaningless historical points Gil is wont to express. But then I started thinking about the one thing it might reveal about this game, which is that there’s no indication that home field means very much in it. And since a) these teams appear to be fairly evenly matched; and b) the home team in this matchup hasn’t won a game anywhere since October 11, home field is about the only reason I can come up with to even consider picking the Giants. With that off the table, I’m looking for the Falcons to come out ahead by seven-ish.

New Orleans (-11) at Tampa Bay
There’s probably something interesting to be said about this game, but I can’t imagine what it is. OK, well, maybe this: This game arguably pits the NFC’s best team (just don’t make that argument in Minnesota) against its worst. Hooray! Saints by 24, minimum.

Arizona (-9) at St. Louis
With Seattle and San Francisco both headed for almost certain losses, Arizona likely has the opportunity to effectively sew up the NFC West title with a win in this game. So, yeah, that’s pretty exciting, huh? I’m taking the Cardinals and giving the points.

San Diego (+3) at Denver
If I knew Kyle Orton was gonna be able to play, I’d take Denver here without giving it too much thought. I stubbornly remain unsold on the Chargers. But I don’t know about Orton. And I’m scared to death of Chris Simms. So I’m taking San Diego in spite of myself. At least that way if I get burned, I’ll only have myself to blame.

Cincinnati (-9.5) at Oakland
Hey, the Raiders have figured out what everybody else (including a number of people who have never even heard of football) already knew. Good for them. Should really, really help. Like, a lot. Even with some turmoil developing among their running backs, the Bengals should handle the Raiders fairly easily. Cincinnati by nine.

NY Jets (+10.5) at New England
Let the real crying commence. This isn’t the same team you got lucky enough to catch at your place back in week two, Rex. Not by a long shot. Patriots by 31, just to make a point (or maybe a couple of points).

Philadelphia (-3) at Chicago
Neither of these teams appears to have any serious interest in remaining competitive. The Eagles at least have the advantage of playing in a division no one wants to win, which means they still have hope for January even if they shouldn’t. The Bears, on other hand, are thoroughly cooked. Their season ended last Thursday night in San Francisco. And I sort of suspect they’re not gonna be able to play their way through that. Eagles by a field goal.

Tennessee (+4.5) at Houston
Yeah, the Titans have been hot lately. And the Texans are, as ever, hot and cold. But it’s hard for me to imagine a Tennessee defense that’s had limited success this season and that hasn’t really turned much of anything around even during its three-game win streak (which includes home wins against Jacksonville and Buffalo) proving to be much of a factor against a Texans offense that’s been a fairly consistent producer of points since week two. I’m taking Houston and giving the four and a half.

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  1. Anonymous
    November 19th, 2009 at 17:09 | #1

    well since i agree with almost all of these picks, that means they are doomed to fail. sorry.


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