Week 13 - NFL picks
I'll update this tomorrow morning, but wanted to get the Packers-Cowboys pick up before tonight's game...
Green Bay (+7) at Dallas - Robin Williams is an incredibly talented comedian, but he can be tough in a film role. It is too easy for him to go over the top and back around the other side, too easy to lose focus and end up distracting from what should be going on. But when he gets good direction and editing ("Good Morning, Vietnam" or "Aladdin") the results are marvelous to behold. Relevance? Bret Favre is Robin Williams, and Mike McCarthy is the director that he needed. He's staying on script, the interceptions are down, and the Packers are a real team, which I wouldn't have believed before the season started. Both of these teams are 10-1, and you don't get to 10-1 without being very good, but it's hard to tell how good, because the NFC, as a whole, is still relatively week. The Packers are playing the AFC West, which is down, the Cowboys are playing the AFC East, which is awful except for the Patriots, to whom they lost. So these are good teams, clearly the best in the NFC, but how good? I've gone back and forth on the winner here (picking Green Bay to beat the spread is fairly obvious, I think) and in the end, I trust the Green Bay defense a little bit more than the Cowboy defense. So Green Bay wins a close one, 34-31.
UPDATED WITH SUNDAY'S PICKS....
Atlanta at St. Louis (-3) - This used to be a division rivalry. That wouldn't make it any more exciting.
Buffalo at Washington (-5.5) - Interesting matchup of the two teams that have faced the most difficult emotional situations in the NFL this season. The Bills started the season losing a teammate to a potentially crippling injury during week 1, and the Redskins just lost a teammate as Sean Taylor was murdered. I cannot pretend to have any idea how either of these teams will perform this week. All things being equal, I believe that Washington is a better team, but not a lot better. I don't trust either Buffalo quarterback but I also don't trust Washington's quarterback. Forced to make a call, I'm going to pick Washington playing emotionally high and winning by a touchdown or more, but I wouldn't bet a plugged nickel either way on this one.
Detroit at Minnesota (-3.5) - That these two teams are still relevant to the playoff discussion is really all one needs know about the NFC. Detroit has collapsed, and unless they turn it around, they will not remain relevant much longer. That doesn't mean that Minnesota's a great bet, just a better one this week. There is not a potential result from this game that would surprise me.
Houston at Tennessee (-3.5) - Don't know. Don't care. Flipped a coin, heads came up - obviously, home team Tennessee is the eary pick here.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-7) - The Colts are wounded. The Jaguars beat them last year. There are a lot of people thinking that Indianapolis takes their third loss of the season this week. I don't think so. Colts win by 10.
N.Y. Jets at Miami (-1) - I said earlier that I wouldn't end up picking Miami any week even though I expect them to win a game. Well, I changed my mind. I expect them to win this week, at home, against a Jets team that followed up a shocking home win over the Steelers by getting blown out at Dallas. This won't be a blowout, it won't be a treat for the eyes, you won't want to watch it, but for the Dolphins, it'll be the greatest game ever as they remove that 0 from the win column.
San Diego (-5.5) at Kansas City - When these two teams played in San Diego earlier in the season, I got it wrong. I'll probably get it wrong again this week, but I'm staying on the Chargers (or, rather, off the Chiefs).
Seattle (+3) at Philadelphia - The Eagles played the game of their season on Sunday night. They won't duplicate it. Seattle wins outright.
San Francisco at Carolina (-3) - The fact that I, however briefly, even considered San Francisco in this game is an indication of how far Carolina has fallen. I will not be shocked if the 49ers win, but they've been so pathetic, last week's victory-that-should-have-been-a-loss notwithstanding, that you just can't take them, regardless of how poorly the Panthers have played.
Cleveland (+1) at Arizona - The Browns should not be underdogs in this game. If you lose to San Francisco, you should forfeit any right to be favored again.
Denver (-3.5) at Oakland - Mediocre vs. sub-mediocre.
Tampa Bay (+3) at New Orleans - If the entire NFC West and NFC South went away, the quality of NFL football would increase by 25%.
N.Y. Giants (-1.5) at Chicago - The Giants are a better team than the Bears, despite being blown out by Minnesota while Chicago was winning a thriller against Denver last week. That doesn't mean that they'll win, though that's clearly the way that I'm picking. I absolutely could see another NY meltdown, it wouldn't shock me, it wouldn't surprise me. But that's not what I expect. If it does happen, they'll be done.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-7) - There have been various noises out of Cincinnati to the effect that they've got it figured out, they've got it together, they're going on a run, they're going to win out and go to the play-offs. You can believe it, if you like - I don't.
New England (-20.5) at Baltimore - Will the Patriots cover? Probably. Will they win? Almost certainly. Can the Ravens offense outscore the Patriots defense? Ah, that's a good question...