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Week Thirteen Picks

December 6th, 2015

Finally getting these on record, and I don’t expect it to be pretty. I don’t offer this as an excuse, but my work life recently has got busier and busier. That means I get home exhausted. And that means I’m not in much of a position to spend my evenings obsessively tracking football stats and trends. Not that I haven’t been doing it at all, mind you. It’s just that time and attention span aren’t what I’d like them to be.

And that means I’m not expecting the kind of brilliant football insights that got me all the way to 9-7 straight up during Thanksgiving week. So that’s gonna be a problem. Though I’ll note that I did manage a 9-7 finish against the spread, which ain’t half bad when there’s no actual money involved. Maybe not thinking too hard is helpful there. For the season, my record stands at 105-71 (.597) straight up, 80-92-4 (.466) against the spread. (This doesn’t factor in that I’m 1-0 straight up, 0-1 against the spread so far this week.)

Let’s move on then. What not to expect.

San Francisco (+7) at Chicago
I haven’t quite bought in on the whole Bears turnaround thing. But I can’t see how anyone could not be on board with the 49ers disaster thing. Chicago by 14.

Cincinnati (-9) at Cleveland
And speaking of disasters … . Bengals by 5,000 points. Or actually, 5,000 isn’t divisible by seven. So let’s go with something that is. Say, 28.

Jacksonville (+2.5) at Tennessee
Two meetings between these two powerhouse teams over the course of three weeks. Will the AFC South excitement never end? The Jaguars took their home game. Now the Titans take theirs. Tennessee by a field goal.

Houston (+3.5) at Buffalo
If the Bills are to have any chance of qualifying for a wild card spot, they absolutely have to take this game. Ultimately, Buffalo won’t make the playoffs. But the Bills will nudge their way past the Texans here on the strength of their ground game. Buffalo by a point.

Baltimore (+3.5) at Miami
And now we start to see some of these terrific matchups in which the winner’s prize is to move behind the loser in the draft order. Congratulations, Dolphins. Miami by three.

Seattle (-1.5) at Minnesota
You’re trying to tell me that the Vikings are playing to hold on to the lead in their division and a shot at the NFC two seed, while the Seahawks are trying to hold on to the last wild card spot? That can’t be true. Can it? If one of these teams were better equipped to slow down the other’s rushing attack and the other were better equipped to move the ball through the air, I’d have a tough time picking this one. But since Seattle comes out ahead in both of those areas, I’ve got to go with the Seahawks. Seattle by a field goal.

Arizona (-4.5) at St. Louis
One suspects the Cardinals may be going into this game feeling like they have something to prove — if only to themselves. Arizona by a touchdown.

Atlanta (+1) at Tampa Bay
The Falcons opened their season with five straight wins. Here’s a fifth straight loss to balance things out. Buccaneers by four.

NY Jets (-2) at NY Giants
The Jets really ought to be able to pull out a win in the middling New Jersey football team championship. Which is how you know the Giants are coming out on top. Giants by three.

Denver (-4) at San Diego
If won’t be long before opposing coaches have enough film on Brock Osweiler to take advantage of some of his weaknesses. But even if we were already there, the Chargers don’t have the defensive weapons to get it done. Denver by six.

Kansas City (-3) at Oakland
The Raiders have the offense to make this a spectacular and exciting game. But they don’t have enough defense to carry the day. Chiefs by a point.

Carolina (-6.5) at New Orleans
Sooner or later, the Panthers are going to drop a game. And a visit to a divisional rival, no matter how weak, is a solid candidate for that eventuality. Which is to say that anything can happen. But still, the disparity between these two teams is far too significant for me to be willing to predict anything other than a decisive win by the Panthers. Carolina by two TDs.

Philadelphia (+9) at New England
You can talk all day about the Patriots injury-depleted receiving corps. And, yeah, it’s a problem. But it didn’t stop New England a week ago from forcing overtime on the road against the Broncos, a team with one of the NFL’s best defenses. And it seems unlikely to pose a significant challenge this week as the Patriots host an Eagles squad with one of the league’s worst Ds and a struggling offense. Patriots by 21.


Indianapolis (+7) at Pittsburgh
The Colts still can’t stop the run. Steelers by 10.

Dallas (+4) at Washington
Boy, oh, boy, is the NFC East awful. I’ll find out how this game came out on Tuesday morning, because you couldn’t pay me to watch this dog. Racists by six.

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