Thursday picks (including last night): 4-4-1 (.500)
Sunday picks: 51-47-4 (.520)
Monday picks: 2-7-0 (.222)
The only two Monday picks I've gotten right? Green Bay over Kansas City in Week 3 and Philadelphia over the New York Giants in Week 6. Every other Monday night game has been an unmitigated disaster.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled picks (home teams in CAPS).
PITTSBURGH (-4.5) over Oakland
I'm going against the power poll numbers in this one, as they have Oakland as the better team by a hair. I am buying the Raiders as a legitimate threat to make the playoffs (it's sad really, I've had to dump a whole box-full of sorry Raiders jokes* that will now never see the light of day). But for a team that's building an identity as something other than a bottom-feeder, it's hard to go on the road and beat good teams. If this game were in Oakland, I'd pick the Raiders.
*The sorry here applying to the Raiders as a team, not the jokes themselves of course. No, really.
NEW YORK JETS (-7.5) over Jacksonville
My power poll metrics have the Jets as the 4th best team in the NFL. I'm not willing to put them that high (and I'm feverishly working on incorporating whether or not a team's starting quarterback went to Harvard into my formula), but I do buy them as a playoff team that could be dangerous in the right matchup. That's still eons away from what the Jaguars are right now.
MINNESOTA (-2) over St. Louis
Two great defenses. Two outstanding running games. One decent quarterback. Add in the year-in, year-out unpredictability of the Rams (which tends to be magnified on the road), and I'm taking Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings.
BUFFALO (-3) over Miami
It's a lot harder to be a head coach when you're not playing the AFC South, right Dan Campbell?
NEW ORLEANS (-8) over Tennessee
The best summation of the Ken Whisenhunt era: his Titans were 1-20 in games where they had less than 8 months to prepare.
NEW ENGLAND (-14) over Washington
Yes it's a very high spread. No I can't think of a good reason to take the Redskins.
CAROLINA (+2.5) over Green Bay
I don't want to overreact to last Sunday night, because the Broncos defense is on its own level right now. But Aaron Rodgers has seriously struggled against top defenses on the road for at least a year and a half now. Carolina's D may not match Denver's, but they will cause problems for Mr. Rodgers. My hesitation relates to the Panthers' offense putting up enough points, but I'm optimistic for this reason: you can run on the Packers. It's been true for years under Dom Capers. It's why Seattle and San Francisco were such terrible matchups for the Packers until Seattle napalmed their offensive line and the 49ers did the same to their entire organization.
Atlanta (-7) over SAN FRANCISCO
I am in the process of jumping off of the Atlanta bandwagon. It's not that their losing, it's how. I expected the defense to eventually take a step back, because while I have all the respect in the world for Dan Quinn, as my grandfather used to say, "You need the horses" and the Falcons D is still short a few. But it's not the defense that's letting them down, it's the offense. And that should be a constant. So why am I picking the Falcons to cover that high a spread? Two words: Blaine. Gabbert.
TAMPA BAY (+2.5) over New York Giants
As long as Jameis Winston doesn't start dispensing interceptions all around (and don't look now, but he hasn't thrown even 1 pick in his last 3 games) Tampa has enough pieces to win this one over the very limited Giants. Quite frankly I don't trust either defense, New York's because they don't have players (though JPP should be back), and Tampa's because their coach is stubbornly sticking to a scheme better suited for 10 years ago.
Denver (-5) over INDIANAPOLIS
Chalk me up as skeptical that Denver's running game got untracked last week. Frankly I think that said more about Green Bay's run defense than it did Denver's rush offense. But we'll have to wait another week to find out for sure, because we've seen Indy's run defense in action many times over the last few seasons, it isn't pretty.
Philadelphia (-3) over DALLAS
If you needed more evidence, Deadspin has put together a report complete with photos of what led to Greg Hardy's arrest. The thing is, we knew most, if not all of this, and most importantly, knew Hardy was filth already. It didn't matter. Heck, it didn't matter that he was convicted in a bench trial. He's free, he's being enabled again, and the victim in this incident was right when she said,
“It doesn’t matter,” she told [a police officer]. “Nothing is going to happen to him anyways.”Chicago (+4) over SAN DIEGO
Both of these teams are bad, but Chicago can run and pass the ball, while the Chargers can only throw it, and they've lost their best wide receiver for the rest of the year. Seems like a good time to take the points, which judging by my Monday night picks this season, means the Chargers will win by 30.
This week: 1-0 (Whoo-hoo!)
Last week: 7-5-2 (.571)
Season: 56-58-5 (.492)