Organized Sports is a recurring sports column named for a seminal DC avant-hardcore song by the equally stupid and brilliant (to me, “equally stupid and brilliant” pretty much just means “brilliant”) band Void. Take from that what you will.
Having gone .500 last week with my cliché-ridden picks, and still unable to make any progress toward the positive side of the ledger for the year, and running out of gimmicks, I’m going to resort to what truly is the last resort for me when making NFL picks: trying to make reasoned, smart decisions using football knowledge and gambling tactics. Could it work? Probably not. But it’s worth a shot.
(Note: All point spreads listed here are the lines at the time bets were made. Be sure to consult your very legitimate and legal sports book [cough] before making a bet of your own; lines move constantly due to the action on particular games. Also, gambling is illegal in many states. And watch out for those offshore betting sites, lest you end up like an online poker professional. Okay? Okay. Onward and upward.)
Last Week’s Record: 8-8
My Record So Far: 87-97-8
Thursday Night Game (12/5 8:30PM ET)
Houston Texans -3 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Coming into the year, the Houston Texans were an outside contender for a Super Bowl berth, having made consistent progress to the top of their division and the top of the AFC. Now, as it stands, they’re at the top of the draft board after a quarterback collapse of epic proportions, some bad luck, and some other bad play. The Jaguars, starting off the year as the consensus worst team in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, no longer are—in fact, I’m surprised the Texans are favored, and thus I’ll take the home dog Jaguars.
My Pick: Jaguars +3
Sunday Early Games (12/8 1PM ET)
Kansas City Chiefs -3.5 at Washington Redskins
The Chiefs’ 9-0 start was pretty amazing, but their 0-3 stretch now seems to be how pundits are defining them. Remember, they were the worst team in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE last year, so if they lost all of their remaining games this season would still be a success. They won’t, though, because they’re playing the very disappointing Washington football franchise.
My Pick: Chiefs -3.5
Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens -7
I get that the Vikings are not very good, but favoring the Ravens, who are mediocre, by a touchdown seems like a stretch. I’ll take the Adrian Peterson + Supporting Cast to cover the seven points.
My Pick: Vikings +7
Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots -11.5
The person with moderate gambling knowledge inside me cannot lay more than ten, even with how dysfunctional the Browns are. At this point, though, I feel like they’re more likely to keep it close and eke out a loss near the end of the game than they are to just get blown out. It’ll hurt the poor Cleveland fans more that way.
My Pick: Browns +11.5
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets -3
Geno Smith has had a couple of good games and a bunch of bad ones. The Raiders are bad, but probably not as bad as their record. As a result, I’ll take them covering the spread in New York, even though they’re traveling across the country and playing the early game, because #yolo.
My Pick: Raiders +3
Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals -5.5
The Bengals are among the best of the good/bad/other teams that make up the AFC besides the Broncos and Patriots. The Colts were, until they lost badly by spotting several supposedly lesser teams huge leads before failing to make their trademark late comebacks. I think they may do that again, but they’ll wind up close enough that it’s smart to take them on the road, plus the points.
My Pick: Colts +5.5
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles -3
After what happened to New Orleans last week, playing a very similar team in the Seahawks to what the Panthers have been doing since their rough start, I find it hard to take them, even though they’re at home. The Panthers look for real.
My Pick: Lions +3
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers -3
This game will be boring to watch unless Mike Tomlin steps further out on the field and trips Ted Ginn, Jr. on a runback.
My Pick: Dolphins +3
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers (No line)
There is no line up for Falcons-Packers, so that means I don’t have to wrongly choose for this game, which no one will watch except for Packers fans.
My Pick: N/A
Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5
Crickets chirp. A fart rings out in the distance, breaking the monotonous hum.
My Pick: Buccaneers +2.5
Sunday Late Games (12/8 4:05/4:25PM ET)
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos -12
Once again, I think the highly favored team to win, but cannot lay more than ten points.
My Pick: Titans +12
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals -6.5
The Rams took the first meeting between these two teams in the opening week of the season, after which I could say, “Hey, the Rams are undefeated hardyharhar.” Since then, the Cardinals have improved, and the Rams have fluctuated down, then way up, then back down again. They’re on one of those downward slides, and they’re playing in Arizona, so I should pick against them, but that spread seems a little ridiculous so I’ll take the Rams to cover, and probably be wrong.
My Pick: Rams +6.5
New York Giants at San Diego Chargers -3
I wonder how life would have been different had Eli Manning stayed with the Chargers, and Philip Rivers gone to the Giants. Actually, I don’t, but that’ll probably be a manufactured storyline for this otherwise mostly inconsequential late game that no one will watch because everyone’s tuned in to 49ers-Seahawks.
My Pick: Chargers -3
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers -2.5
I understand that the 49ers are playing at home and that’s why they’re favored over the Seahawks, who aren’t nearly as awesome on the road as they are at home. But after watching both teams play quite a bit, I just think the Seahawks are flat out better in every way.
My Pick: Seahawks +2.5
Sunday Night Game (12/8 8:25PM ET)
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints -3.5
I must admit I have no idea how to choose this game. Both teams have excellent passing attacks and athletic running backs who can break one open at any time. They also both seem like they could collapse at any moment. Nick Foles seems due for a major regression at some point—might as well say it’ll happen this week, and the Lions will take this one on the road.
My Pick: Panthers +3.5
Monday Night Football (12/9 8:30PM ET)
Dallas Cowboys -2 at Chicago Bears
The Dallas Cowboys are two games over .500, which means they have to lose sometime soon to get back to that line of mediocrity by which they have been defined for so long. I think it happens in Chicago, and I’ll take the home team in a pick-em.
My Pick: Chicago (PK)
Thus ends this peak of wicks.