December 05, 2019
For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 14 NFL picks. To note, the team logos indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.
Cowboys (-3) at Bears: Over the Bears' last four games, Mitchell Trubisky has looked like a passable NFL starter, completing 65 percent of his passes while throwing for 8 TDs vs. 4 INTs.
On the other side of the ball, I do like the Bears' defense's chances of getting pressure against Dak Prescott, especially with Connor Williams now done for the season with a torn ACL. Williams isn't a great starter by any stretch, but he's a hell of a lot better than Xavier Sua-Filo, who will filo in for Williams.
If Trubisky can just be good enough on Sunday, the Bears, who have won two straight games, can maybe pull off an upset at home Thursday night, but I'm not hitching my wagon to him.
Bengals at Browns (-8.5): The Bengals got their one win, and now they'll go into full-on tank mode the rest of the way.
Ravens (-5.5) at Bills: The Ravens are beginning to pull away from the pack as favorites to win the Super Bowl, and this will be a another good test for them after beating the Niners last week.
Panthers at Falcons (-3): I would say, "Who cares" about this matchup, but I love the Falcons here to cover a team that has lost four straight and truly has nothing to play for, especially now that their respected head coach has been fired.
Washington at Packers (-12.5): Next.
Broncos at Texans (-9.5): Drew Lock got his first NFL start last week, and he beat the Chargers, though not very impressively. On paper, taking the 9.5 points looks pretty tasty, but I just can't do it with a rookie quarterback playing a team with a divisional title on the line.
Lions at Vikings (-13): This Lions team seems to be in "one foot out the door" mode, and not exactly in the mood to play hard for their head coach.
49ers at Saints (-2.5): Earlier this year, the Niners had to play consecutive road games on the eastern side of the country, when they played in Tampa Week 1, and in Cincinnati Week 2. They stayed in Youngstown, Ohio, and won both games, by a combined 38 points.
Last week, the Niners played in Baltimore. This week, they'll play in New Orleans, and once again they'll stay on the east coast, this time at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, which looks pretty cool, and I'm jealous of the Niners beats who get to cover the team there all week.
The Niners lost in Baltimore, which reminds me a little of when the Eagles lost in Seattle in 2017, stayed in Orange County, and then won a tough game the next Sunday in L.A. That week on the road felt like a good bonding and refocusing wake-up call for the Birds, and I think it could have the same effect for the Niners.
Dolphins at Jets (-5.5): Huge game for draft positioning here. Otherwise, I'd rather just take a nap.
Colts at Buccaneers (-3): The Colts have performed admirably for a team that saw its quarterback retire just before the start of the season, but it's just been too hard to win games without Marlon Mack and T.Y. Hilton. Meanwhile, the Bucs have won three of four, and are in full-on, "Let's convince ourselves that Jameis Winston is good" mode.
Chargers (-3) at Jaguars: Who cares?
Chiefs at Patri*ts (-3): After losing to the Texans last Sunday night, the Patri*ts need to pull out all the stops against the Chiefs for playoff seeding purposes. It'll be all hands on deck, from the videographers, to the deflators, to the radio signal tamperers, to the assistants staring down the Chiefs' warmups, to whatever other competitive advantages the great Patri*ts have been able hide for the last two decades.
Steelers (-2.5) at Cardinals: The Steelers have won six of seven while the Cardinals have lost five straight. I know the Steelers are banged up, but why is this line only 2.5 points? This seems too good to be true. OK, I'll bite.
Titans (-2.5) at Raiders: The Titans are 5-1 in Ryan Tannehill's six starts. In those games, Tannehill is completing 71.9 percent of his passes on 9.1 yards per attempt, with 12 TDs, 3 INTs, and a QB rating of 117.1. He has also run 27 times for 124 yards and 3 TDs. Where the hell did that come from?
Meanwhile, the Raiders have lost their last two games by a combined score of 74-12.
Again, like in the Steelers-Cards game above, why exactly is this line only 2.5 points? I'll bite again, Vegas.
Seahawks (-0.5) at Rams: Ooh, a rare 0.5 line! You pretty much have to bet that just on principle, and I'll take the clearly better team, thank you very much.
Giants at Eagles (-9.5): Eli Manning will very likely be starting against the Eagles on Monday Night Football, as he will replace Daniel Jones, who will be sidelined with a mild ankle sprain. Jones thinks he can play through it, and as such, conspiracy theories have arisen on why Manning is replacing him anyway. They range from getting asses in the seats again to see Manning play a few final games, to keeping Jones from playing badly the rest of the season so there will be no calls for the the Giants to draft a quarterback in the first round again in the 2020 NFL Draft.
I don't buy either of those, to be clear, as they don't make much sense to me. How many dorks are buying tickets just to see Eli Manning lose a game in an already lost season? And clearly, the Giants have more than proven that they don't care what their fans think they should do in the draft.
That said, if I may propose a conspiracy theory of my own, it could be that the Giants are trying to lose.
If the season ended today, at 2-10, they would have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. A visual, via Tankathon.com:
As you can see, there are three teams below them at 3-9, all of whom are more like 2 games back of the Giants because the Giants' strength of schedule, which is the first tiebreaker in draft order, is also super weak. If they win fewer than two games the rest of the way, they pretty much have at least that No. 2 pick wrapped up.
Should they lose out and the Bengals win just one more game, the Giants will have the No. 1 overall pick.
And then they'll draft soon-to-be NFL star edge rusher Chase Young.
And so, while the Eagles can't be trusted to beat anyone at the moment, I do trust that they should be able to handle this garbage team at home that may or may not be begging the Eagles to beat them. I know this is crazy, but I'll lay the 9.5 points.
• Picks against the spread: Falcons (-3), Steelers (-2.5), Titans (-2.5), Seahawks (-0.5), Eagles (-9.5).
• Eagles picks: 6-6
• 2019 season, straight up: 110-82-1 (0.573)
• 2019 season, ATS: 33-26-1 (0.558)
• 2018 season, straight up: 173-94-2 (0.647)
• 2018 season, ATS: 41-36-2 (0.532)
• 2017 season, straight up: 181-86 (0.678)
• 2017 season, ATS: 36-32-2 (0.529)
• 2016 season, straight up: 171-94-2 (0.644)
• 2016 season, ATS: 41-34 (0.547)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)
• Last 5 years, ATS: 197-158-6 (0.554)
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