By Neil Keefe
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Right now things aren’t good. Since the Yankees were eliminated, I watched the Rangers lose both of their games in Sweden (though they did get a point in each) and watched the Giants embarrass themselves and every Giants fan with a home loss to the Seahawks as they knocked me out of my survivor pool. And to top it off, I went 4-8-1 in my picks last week. So yeah, it’s been a phenomenal week for my sports life! The only thing keeping me from avoiding every sports channel on TV and becoming an avid fan of Lifetime and Oxygen and ABC Family (Who am I kidding? I’m already a fan of ABC Family) is that the deconstruction of the Boston Red Sox is taking place 24 hours a day on the channels I want to avoid. As I wait for CC Sabathia to opt out and possibly leave and for the Yankees to inevitably pick up Nick Swisher’s option for 2012 and for the Giants to play 60 minutes of football and not six and for the Rangers to score more than two goals in a game, at least I have the Red Sox to fall back on as everything they have worked for since 2002 has been destroyed in the last two weeks. (I wish you all could see the smile on my face.)
But the one thing the fall of the Red Sox can’t do is make picking games in the NFL in 2011 any easier. “Parity” has taken on a whole new meaning this year and it’s ruining my theories, ideas, thoughts, and plans for picking games, and has virtually erased any normal logic I would use to make a pick. I’m one more bad week from constructing a Cootie Catcher to pick the games for me.
In other words, I need a pick-me-up. I need something to get going here. I’m hanging around .500 like it’s the Wendy’s in my hometown in high school, and I’m looking for something to get me out of this slump. The problem is Vegas doesn’t care.
This week is a week of huge lines. There are 13 games and in seven of those games, the spread is at least a touchdown. I feel like we’re looking at the opening week of college football with cupcake games all over the board. If we were talking about these lines in the teaser world then yes I would feel a lot more comfortable, but we’re looking at a group of lines that can destroy a season. So, in Week 6 I’m faced with possibly digging myself a hole that I can never climb out of.
Every week my picks get tweeted out by WFAN with the “Quest for .500 Continues” and if my picks were a Pittsburgh Pirates season that would be something to be proud of. But when you’re trying to pick NFL games and the .500 mark keeps sucking you back to it like a vacuum, it’s nothing to be proud of. I have a feeling things are about to change in Week 6, and if they don’t I will have a Cootie Catcher for Week 7.
Week 6 … let’s go!
(Home team in caps)
GREEN BAY -15 over St. Louis
If you don’t have a ticket to get on the Packers bandwagon, well you’re in the wrong place because I’m not selling mine. And if I did, I would put it on eBay with a “Buy It Now” option of $100,000. That’s how good the Packers are at covering spreads. And that’s why I thought this line would be at least 17 points. So while 15 is a lot, it’s a bargain.
PITTSBURGH -12 over Jacksonville
This is a scary line (as most of them are this week) because I don’t trust the Steelers yet and might never in 2011. But I know I trust them a whole lot more at Heinz Field than I do the Jaguars.
Philadelphia -1.5 over WASHINGTON
Why do I keep taking the Eagles? I really have no idea. I hate the Eagles and they have done nothing this year but destroy my picks, my parlays and my teasers. The last team I should be taking is the Eagles. The problem is at this I have to take them. I have to take them because I have taken them so many times and they have let me down that I know if I go the other way and they finally cover I will be livid.
The Eagles are 1-4. That means they have to go 9-2 to make the playoffs or better since 10-6 wasn’t good enough for the Giants or Buccaneers to get into the playoffs last year. At some point if the Eagles are as a good as everyone thinks they are or that they would be, then they actually have to win a game. That means their three-game losing streak needs to end Sunday against the Redskins who are just waiting to come crashing back to reality. (Sorry, Ray.)
So, I’m going with the Eagles once again, and either they will finally prove me right, or they will lose and virtually end their season. Can you say, “win-win?”
DETROIT -4.5 over San Francisco
No team has screwed me over the last two years more than the 49ers. (Actually the Eagles might have something to say about that.) So while the rest of the country is falling in love with the revival of the 49ers, I’m not. I have had Alex Smith ruin my picks too many times to begin to put faith into him now. Yes, I’m being stubborn and will continue to be with the Eagles and the 49ers, but at some point things have to change for the better for me. Don’t they?
ATLANTA -4 over Carolina
How could the Falcons be this bad? Hmm … I don’t know. Maybe because they were overrated last year and therefore went into this season even more overrated? What I just wrote would mean that I am taking the Panthers. WRONG! I’m taking the Falcons. Why? I don’t know, but when you’re 34-39-4 you can throw logic out the window.
The Panthers have been covering all over the place, but this weekend I think the Falcons at home from 2010 will show up. If I’m wrong … well it won’t be the first time.
Indianapolis +7 over Cincinnati
Last week I said, “I will stop picking against the Colts when they give me a reason. So far they haven’t done that and I don’t expect them to in Week 5.” They didn’t give me a reason, but after a 4-8-1 week, it’s time change some things up. Let’s go Colts!
Buffalo +3 over NEW YORK GIANTS
I think odds makers were sitting around a table on Sunday night and just to eff with everyone they said, “Let’s make the Giants home favorites!”
Listen I want the Giants to win this game and I think they can and will, but how are they favored here? Vegas tells us that these two teams are even, but they’re not. The Giants think they can just play the last 5-8 minutes of games and get away with it while the Bills seem to play only the second halves of games. But the entire second half is still more than the final minutes of the game. The Giants will probably win on a late field goal and I will push on this line because that’s how things go for the Giants, Giants fans and my picks.
BALTIMORE -8 over Houston
The Texans must think they are cursed. They finally get a year with no Peyton Manning and a clear path to their first postseason berth and then they lose Andre Johnson and Mario Williams. Now they have to go on the road to Baltimore, which is currently the home to the best team in the AFC. Good luck! And by “good luck” I mean lose by at least nine.
OAKLAND -7 over Cleveland
Oakland is going to be rocking on Sunday. The last thing you want to do is take Cleveland in this game then turn on the game and see Oakland on the verge of a riot the Coliseum and you’re wondering why you ever took the Browns on the road in this atmosphere. Take the Raiders and make it easy on yourself.
Dallas +7 over NEW ENGLAND
Tom Brady has won 30 home games in a row. That’s regular season home games of course since he hasn’t won a home playoff game since the 2007 season and has lost his last two.
The Cowboys are coming off bye week and I don’t care what Bill Parcells says, the Cowboys are better than their record says they are. A Patriots loss at home will only add fuel to the fire of Bostonians still trying to comprehend what is going on at Yawkey Way, and I’m not only picking the Cowboys to cover, but this is my upset for the week. (I know I’m crazy. People probably said that about anyone that thought the Seahawks could beat the Giants.)
New Orleans -4.5 over TAMPA BAY
Last week I said, “The Saints cover spreads. That’s what they do. They check the line and then make sure they go out and win by more than it.” So, what did they do? They went out and barely won in Carolina. Awesome.
I’m sure Sean Payton isn’t happy about the things I have written about him and his visor over the last couple of years or when I picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl against him, but come on! Cover against the Panthers! I’m trying to get over .500 over here!
Minnesota +3 over CHICAGO
Hey, the Vikings finally won! Not only did they win, but they covered. So now they are 1-4 despite leading in all five games and leading big. Always take the points in divisional games you’re unsure of when it’s three or less. Always.
NEW YORK JETS -7 over Miami
I think the Jets are going to beat the Dolphins like they beat the Jaguars, but I’m actually not rooting for it. Jets fans are one more loss away from jumping ship, and a loss to the Dolphins (which would mark a four-game losing streak) will basically end the Jets’ season. Kings of the city? I don’t think so.
LAST WEEK: 4-8-1
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilKeefe