In my Pride of Detroit debut, I finished above .500 with a 5-3 record for the week. Not too shabby considering a 75-yard Derrick Henry touchdown was a bad, bad beat, and I had to finally learn my lesson about the Lions. But more importantly, I finished with a better record than the “Fearless Leader”—and slippery meme thief—Jeremy Reisman, who went 4-4 on the week.
But that’s not good enough. I have to be better. I hold myself to a higher standard, kind of like your local Meijer.
Higher standards, less bad beats. Let’s get to the picks.
SAINTS -4 over Falcons
You can have the points. Take ‘em. The Saints don’t need ‘em. They’re running roughshod over every team in their path, and they have been since they dropped those first two games of their season in unceremonious fashion.
Since Week 2’s loss to the Patriots, the Saints have been nothing short of incredible, on both sides of the ball. New Orleans is their same high-octane self on offense, averaging a whopping 31.4 points per game since their loss in Week 2 to New England. And all while Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are setting the world on fire from the backfield, the Saints defense has finally turned a corner. From Week 7 to Week 10, the Saints put together an impressive string of defensive performances, holding opposing team’s to less than 13 points per game.
Let’s hope the Saints get rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore back for this “Thursday Night Football” game. The Ohio State product has been absolutely sensational this season, ranking third among cornerbacks according to Pro Football Focus. A matchup with Julio Jones would truly be primetime.
BENGALS -6.5 over Bears
Look, if there’s one player I don’t want to play against while they’re upset, it’s probably Vontaze Burfict, right? After getting knocked out of Monday night’s game against the Steelers by the now-suspended JuJu Smith-Schuster, Burfict could miss this Sunday’s game against Chicago, but what if he doesn’t? I wouldn’t want to share any part of a field with the guy after reading this:
Burfict jumped up off the cart and walked into the #Bengals locker room. He's livid.— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) December 5, 2017
Side note: I can’t believe I’m putting my faith in Andy Dalton, but on the other side, we have Mitchell Trubisky, the guy who John Fox trusted to throw the ball 15 times against the San Francisco 49ers—the 30th ranked pass defense according to Football Outsiders. We all lose in this one.
49ERS +3 over Texans
Speaking of the San Francisco Garoppolo’s, I’m all in. The 2018 NFC West is going to be next year’s version of the 2017 NFC South, and I invite Freezing Cold Takes to come hit me with their writing hand emoji right now.
Give the Texans three points in this one for all I care. Jimmy G against Tom Savage? Remember when Savage’s agent was throwing a pissy fit after his client was benched for Deshaun Watson? Yeah, the same Watson who hasn’t played since Week 8 but is still 11th in the NFL in passing touchdowns.
We don’t rock with Tom Savage over on this side.
BROWNS +6 over Packers
Hear me out, and ignore my Cleveland Browns bias in case you knew about it, but the Browns are 100 percent covering this week. The Packers will probably win the game because, you know, Aaron Rodgers is coming, but there’s no way the Browns aren’t keeping this within a touchdown. Home underdogs, folks. Learn to love ‘em.
VIKINGS +1 over Panthers
If there’s something Cam Newton doesn’t like, or any quarterback for that matter, it’s being pressured. Last week, the Panthers struggled to give Newton time to operate, seeing him get sacked twice and hurried a bunch. Minnesota is another football team that can Bring Da Ruckus, and I expect Carolina to have a long day on offense.
The NFC Wild Card race is still too close to make any declarations with certainty, but I have a feeling the Panthers will be the team on the outside looking in at the end of this season.
GIANTS +6.5 over Cowboys
Always been a big fan of ‘eff-you games’ by teams who finally decided to fire their “relationally challenged” head coaches, and this one is no different. The Cowboys looked better against Washington last week, but this one figures to be a little tighter with the Giants defense finally playing the way everyone expected to from the beginning of the season.
RAIDERS +4 over Chiefs
Yeah, the Chiefs are home, so what? As a proud member of the #HuntHive, I’m never forgiving Andy Reid for just flat out ignoring that he has one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL. After starting 5-0, and beating the likes of New England, Philadelphia, and the Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs are now 6-6 and struggling to keep their heads above water in the AFC West. In their six victories, Kareem Hunt averaged 23 touches per game. In their six losses, Hunt averaged less than 16 rushes and receptions. In other words:
HEY, ANDY REID, USE KAREEM HUNT MORE BECAUSE, Y’KNOW, OF COURSE YOU SHOULD.
JETS +1 over Broncos
One thing I’m really not looking forward to next season is Eli Manning assuming the quarterback mantle that’s been left void ever since older brother Peyton retired and playing for the Denver Broncos next season. The Broncos offensive line can’t protect their motley crew of quarterbacks—ranking 28th in adjusted sack rate—and unless it undergoes some serious revamping this offseason, I can’t imagine it getting much better.
But yeah, give me the Jets in a pick ‘em game because Robby Anderson is the truth.
CHARGERS -6 over Washington
Even in their faux-home, the Chargers are finally starting to hit their stride because, shocker, they’re a pretty good football team when they actually make it to the field and aren’t completely decimated by injuries.
Keenan Allen is finally getting a chance to be the receiver people thought he could be, and nobody is more excited about it than me. He’s a target machine like Jarvis Landry, but actually good and not like Jarvis Landry at all. It’s awesome. Look at his last three games:
- Week 11 vs. Buffalo - 12 receptions, 159 yards, two touchdowns
- Week 12 at Dallas - 11 receptions, 172 yards, and a touchdown
- Week 13 vs. Cleveland - 10 receptions, 105 yards, and a touchdown
TITANS -2.5 over Cardinals
What do the Titans do on offense? They run the ball to the tune of 4.5 yards per carry. And when they run the ball, they’re running it into the end zone roughly every 20 carries, the second-best average in the NFL behind the Saints.
What do the Cardinals do well on defense? Stuff up the running game, holding opponents to just 3.7 yards per carry. So which unit will be able to bend, but not break?
I don’t have the answer to that question, but I do know the Titans are in contention with the Jaguars for the AFC South title, and I no longer believe in #CatTeamBrotherhood. Go Titans.
SEAHAWKS +3.5 over Jaguars
See the paragraph above.
Also, 2017 Russell Wilson is how you played Madden when you were 13. Snap the ball, run backwards 10 yards, proceed to run from sideline to sideline, and then rifle a ball to a receiver with pinpoint precision as your quarterback of choice gets obliterated. You did it because you were 13 and didn’t know any better—plus, the game didn’t penalize you for it, so shame on you, EA. Wilson does it because he needs to manufacture time while his offensive line dissipates into nothingness once he calls for the ball.
RAMS +2.5 over Eagles
Jared Goff, this is the most endearing thing I’ve ever said about you: You’re the biggest goober that ever goob’d, and I mean it. You’re also playing quarterback like I never imagined you could, but getting rid of Jeff Fisher does work wonders. I can only begin to imagine the reaction by Eagles Twitter when Goff outguns Carson Wentz by a score of like 45-42. It’s going to be as beautiful as a sunset, wherever that happens.
STEELERS -7 over Ravens
A whole touchdown and extra point to the Ravens, but I don’t even care about the spread. I don’t even care that JuJu Smith-Schuster is suspended for this game. I couldn’t care less about anything when it comes to this game. The only thing you need to know is that Joe Flacco reached Jameis Winston status after last week’s game against Detroit because he ate a ‘W’ and for that he is forever the lamest quarterback in the room as long as Winston isn’t in that room too.
Usually I don’t like laying this many points in a divisional game, especially one that involves “AFC North football,” but it is what it is.
DOLPHINS +11 over Patriots
You’d think the Patriots would still be able to roll right along without Rob Gronkowski after he laid a disgusting and inexcusable cheap shot to a defenseless, and completely unaware player in Tre’Davious White, but you’d be wrong. They won’t. I said it before, I’ll say it again: I love home team underdogs, especially those who are getting more than two scores.