It’s very possible the Mayans were onto something. How else do you explain (gasp!) me actually having a winning week?
It’s true. I was 7-4-2 last week (getting a very fortunate push in the Thursday nighter when Jim Harbaugh opted to take a safety off the board).
This week, the NFL returns to London for what I call the “annual game that makes no freaking sense.” Technically, it’s called the NFL International Series and this year the New England Patriots take on the St. Louis Rams at Wembley Stadium in jolly olde England.
I’m not sure the NFL was thinking straight when it decided to send the Patriots to London. I mean, yeah, the United States won the Revolutionary War and everything, but is it wise to just up and rub the Brits’ noses in it?
Then again, it’s been 236 years … if the British haven’t gotten over it by now, that seems much more like their problem than anyone else’s.
Here are this week’s picks, with home teams in CAPS:
VIKINGS (minus 6½) over Buccaneers: For all of the excitement about the improved team in Tampa Bay under Greg Schiano, here’s an uncomfortable fact: The Bucs’ wins this season are over 1-5 Kansas City and 1-5 Carolina.
JETS (minus 1) over Dolphins: Did I really see the Jets put Timmy Sideshow into the game when they got the gift turnover from Devin McCourty late in regulation? Instead, Gang Green gets a field goal, gives Tom Brady tons of time and loses. Whatever happened to Rex Ryan being some sort of gutsy coach?
Chargers (minus 2½) over BROWNS: The Chargers need a win coming out of the bye in the worst way. Cleveland is a mess right now and I don’t think it will get better until Joe Banner gets an offseason to put the house in order his way.
Colts (plus 3½) over TITANS: The hook makes the difference. Tennessee is playing better the last couple of weeks, but they don’t have what it takes to beat the improving Colts by more than a field goal.
RAMS (plus 6½) over Patriots at London: The Patriots aren’t exactly excelling at putting overmatched opponents away late in games (Exhibit A, Seahawks; Exhibit B, Jets). Their three losses are by a total of four points, as well. I think we have to warm up to the fact that New England is dangerous, but it’s not 2004 or 2007 anymore.
PACKERS (no line) over Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert’s injury made Vegas take this off the board? Seriously? Like there is some sort of huge difference between Gabbert and Chad Henne? Either way, this team is total dog meat at Lambeau come Sunday.
Falcons (plus 1½) over EAGLES: You’re giving me points with the last undefeated team in the league against a team that turns the ball over with the regularity of Old Faithful? Sold!
Redskins (plus 4½) over STEELERS: I like the favorites in this one. I just hate the spread. Pittsburgh’s defense likely won’t have a lot of its weapons yet and, well, if Robert Griffin III can punk Jason Pierre-Paul, what chance does any defender of less freakish athletic prowess have?
Seahawks (plus 1) over LIONS: Since Detroit already refuses to run the ball, losing Nate Burleson is a significant blow. It’s not as if teams weren’t already quintuple-covering Calvin Johnson before … oh, wait.
BEARS (minus 7½) over Panthers: Remember when everybody was convinced Carolina was going to be good this year? Was it really just a couple of months ago?
CHIEFS (minus 1) over Raiders: OK, it’s not like I trust Brady Quinn or anything. But I trust Carson Palmer even less at this point.
COWBOYS (plus 1½) over Giants: Dallas can’t keep losing at the JonesMahal to the Giants forever, can they?
Saints (plus 6) over BRONCOS: This is another game where I like the favorites. I just don’t like them six points worth. Interim coach Joe Vitt is back to replace interim to the interim coach Aaron Kromer. That’s got to at least keep the Saints close. Not close enough that their horrific pass defense won’t kill ‘em, but close enough to cover.
49ers (minus 6½) over CARDINALS: This defense? Against that offensive line? Ryan Lindley should be ready to go and they might want to have another QB on speed dial, just in case.
Last Week: 7-4-2
Season: 42-56-5 (couple of more good weeks and I might get back to within 10 of .500 again!)