Well, Week 10 is already off to a disastrous start for me.
On Thursday night, as I settled in to watch the Steelers and the Panthers, I ignored every instinct in my body that was urging me to take Pittsburgh. In my head, I knew the Steelers were going to win, and I knew they were going to cover as 3.5-point favorites. It wasn’t overly complicated. They are clicking on all cylinders right now, about as well as any NFL team can, and they were playing at home in primetime.
And just for the record, the Steelers usually thrive when they are playing in primetime.
And yet, my desire to watch a thrilling game between two Super Bowl contenders from each conference got in the way of my better judgement. That’s why I took the Panthers +3.5, and that’s why I paid the painful price.
Pittsburgh 52, Carolina 21. Whoops.
Considering I’m not very good at making NFL predictions, and am currently treading water just a couple games above the .500 mark this season, I really need to listen to my head instead of my heart more often. One of these days, I might finally learn my lesson.
But then again, it is me we’re talking about, and I overthink everything when it comes to football. So that probably won’t happen.
Whatever though. At least this Sunday, the Patriots will be reuniting with Malcolm Butler on the football field for a couple of hours when they play the Titans in Nashville. It might not be a friendly reunion, but let’s face it: Butler will be a Boston sports legend for the rest of time, all because of one simple, but very timely, interception in Super Bowl XLIX.
Things didn’t end for Butler in New England the way they should have, and as a Patriots fan, it’s hard not to feel for the guy. He’s responsible for the single greatest moment of my sports fandom, and I will owe that to him forever. It’s just too bad this game isn’t happening in Foxboro, because if it was, Butler would get an ovation louder than a rock concert when he entered the stadium.
Thanks for the memories, Malcolm. See you on Sunday.
(Home teams in caps, and all lines courtesy of OddsShark.com)
CHIEFS (-16.5) over Cardinals
Taking a team that is favored by 17 points is physically painful. But the Cardinals are one of the worst teams in the league, they have a rookie quarterback who is still trying to adjust to the NFL, and Kansas City’s offense is borderline unstoppable.
The Chiefs haven’t scored less than 30 points since Week 4. In addition, it’s supposed to be a tad chilly in Kansas City and the Cardinals are an indoor team from the desert. There’s no good reason to get behind Arizona in this game, other than that massive point spread.
Falcons (-6) over BROWNS
Since the Browns finally fired Hue Jackson about a year too late, I was on the verge of picking them to pull off some kind of HUE-IS-FINALLY-GONE miracle against the Falcons this week, but I just couldn’t do it. Part of that whole “listening to my head” thing.
JETS (-7) over Bills
The Jets without Sam Darnold are playng the Bills without Josh Allen. Is anybody actually going to watch this? Even Jets and Bills fans have to at least be considering passing up on football this week. If you’re going to gamble on this game, don’t take the Nathan Peterman team, unless you’re betting on which team will turn the ball over at least five times.
BEARS (-6.5) over Lions
Khalil Mack has missed the last two games for Chicago. But if he’s cleared to play, it’s going to be a long afternoon for Matt Stafford, who has been getting sacked a lot lately (what else is new?)
This is just me, but 6.5 points seems like a lot for a Bears team that has struggled against the NFC North this year. But the Lions have seemingly run into a wall lately, and that Chicago defense is pretty resembling of a wall.
Jaguars (+3) over COLTS
Sheesh, you know the Jaguars have hit rock bottom when they are now considered underdogs against the Colts. That defense — supposed to be the best in the league — has been a huge letdown this year (I would know, I have them in fantasy).
But for some odd reason, I picked the Jags to go to Super Bowl LIII, so I kind of need them to get this thing turned around sooner rather than later.
Patriots (-6.5) over TITANS
Sorry we have to do this to you, Malcolm, but the Pats are pretty hot at the moment. October, November, and most of December is usually when they are at their best.
Saints (-5.5) over BENGALS
Speaking of hot teams, nobody is hotter than the Saints right now. They just handed the Rams their first loss of the season. New Orleans pretty much has all of the momentum in the galaxy. Good luck, Cincy. See you next time.
Redskins (+3) over BUCCANEERS
The Redskins will break your heart faster than your first high school girlfriend, but I don’t trust the Tampa Bay defense. Offensively, it’s hard to tell if Ryan Fitzpatrick will throw four touchdown passes or four interceptions. But Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson should be able to do some damage against the Bucs defense. This is a tough one to pick, but I just have to roll with Smith.
Chargers (-10) over RAIDERS
At 6-2, the Chargers look like a very good team right now. Picking them to cover as 10-point favorites against a horrendous Oakland team seems like a pretty reasonable decision.
I’m just looking forward to the first week of January, however, when Philip Rivers fails to get the Chargers past the wild card round. That will be fun.
PACKERS (-10) over Dolphins
Even though the Dolphins are 5-4 and are facing a pretty average Packers team, you can’t count on a team from warm, sunny Miami to play well in a place like Green Bay, Wisconsin in mid-November. It’s supposed to be around 30 degrees in Green Bay this Sunday. Do you think anybody from south Florida would be comfortable in that environment?
This is one of the oldest rules in the book: warm weather teams don’t do well in cold weather environments, and Green Bay is about as cold as it gets.
Seahawks (+9.5) over RAMS
After that brutal defeat in New Orleans last week, are the Rams vulnerable right now? Whether they are or not, they are 4-4-1 against the spread this year. Nine times out of 10, they are a good bet to win the game straight up, but not always to cover the spread.
Their defense got torched by the Saints last week. Can we count on them to play well enough to allow the Rams to win by double-digits? I’m not so sure.
EAGLES (-7) over Cowboys
The Cowboys are never going anywhere as long as Jason Garrett is their head coach. It’s too bad Jerry Jones will never actually move on from Garrett because he has too much of a man crush on him.
It’s not difficult to see that Garrett is a serviceable football coach, but not a good one. Then again, Jerry is about as clueless as anyone, so there aren’t really any surprises here.
49ERS (-3) over Giants
Any time you have the chance to watch a pair of teams that have a combined three wins through nine weeks play each other on Monday Night Football, you absolutely HAVE to do it.
Last week: 8-5
This week: 0-1