NFL Picks Week 14

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Folks, the Bears are back. Sure, they’re only back when they play below .500 teams, but they’re back nonetheless. I don’t know, man, I think I see it with Mitch. You do the draft over again and taking him over Mahomes and Watson seems like a no-brainer. Guy can run and only has five abominable throws a game. You can win with that. Combine it with a revolutionary mind like Matt Nagy and you’ve got a recipe for success. Bears could make some noise in the playoffs. All they need is to win out and hope that the Vikings, Packers, Niners, and Seahawks all forget to show up for all their games. Not too much to ask. Side note on the Cowboys- yikes. Is that Dak contract set in stone yet? Because, umm, yeah.

Special edition this week, I’m writing the picks while watching The Irishman. As someone who is both a man and Irish, this movie was made specifically for me. It’s in the title. As a challenge, I’m going to see if I can finish this before the three-and-a-half-hour run time expires (micro-rant: if you complain about the movie being too long because your brain had been transformed into 2019 phone brain and you can’t focus on anything for more than ten seconds, I hope you die. It’s a long movie, deal with it). Forgive any mob puns.

All lines from Bovada.

Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers (-13)

Me, watch this game? Fuggedaboutit! No, we have fun here.

Pick: Packers -13

San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (-2)

I don’t know how the Niners got stuck with all these east coast gauntlet games at the same time, but they really pissed someone off in the league office. Don’t feel super confident about Jimmy G going into the Dome, if we’re being honest. Relevant Irishman tie-in: the de-aging technology on RDN looks fine, but he still moves like an old man. It’s weird. This applies to Drew Brees this season (and NOT to another old QB who will remain anonymous).

Pick: Saints -2

Denver Broncos at Houston Texans (-9)

Broncos stink. And I think can all agree that the Texans are a juggernaut, right? Easily one of the best teams in history.

Pick: Texans -9

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-12.5)

Hate to say it, but it’s about time someone iced Matty Patricia. He’s about to get blown out by Kirk Cousins, and you just can’t let that happen.

Pick: Vikings -12.5

Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Bucs (-3)

Pretty sure the Colts died last week. Jacboy’s not even close to healthy and Vinatieri’s cost them like five games at this point. They’re down on the mat. You can’t go into Tampa with a broken spirit and expect to contain Jameis. Just not gonna happen. He’ll hang 387 yards, 4 TDs, and 3 INTS on your head before you can blink.

Pick: Bucs -3

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-3)

I will give this game the same amount of undivided attention I’m currently giving The Irishman. Which I think I’m like halfway through.

Pick: Panthers +3

Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) at Buffalo Bills

Improbable at the beginning of the season, this game is actually crucial for the AFC East race. I’m really not used to having to sweat the division out, and I really don’t expect to, but the fact that the Bills are still hanging around is a testament to them. But the Ravens are gonna win, and I prefer it that way. Not getting the one seed sucks, but not winning the division would be humiliating. Another team can’t win the AFC East until two years after Brady retires.

Pick: Ravens -6.5

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-7)

Bengals are the hottest team in the league, and the pushover crybaby Browns won’t be able to stand in their way. Shoutout to Baker’s army of imaginary haters, haven’t heard from them in a while.

Pick: Bengals +7

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-5.5)

Speaking of hot teams. Fitzmagic is officially in full effect, and there’s nothing the Jets can do to stop it. It was sad to see the Jets’ miracle run come to such an ignominious end, but it just opens the door for the Dolphins, who haven’t technically been eliminated from the playoffs, yet.

Pick: Dolphins +5.5

Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars

I’ll tell you what, Big Bob De Niro is Back, although he’s decidedly not Irish. I think old guys are back, in general. De Niro, Pacino, Pesci, LeBron, definitely some others. Makes me optimistic about the Super Bowl this year. Unless 2020 is the year of not-old-guys, in which case I’m very nervous.

Pick: Jags +3

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (-3)

I know it’s nonsensical, but the garbage time offense from last week really has me buying back in. Every pass is either to Edelman or James White, as it should be. Keep playing good D and you never know, right? Just have to get down just enough where teams stop really trying and they’re golden. God, just let me fast forward to a week after the inevitable playoff loss so I can avoid the molten-hot takes and grave dancing.

Pick: Pats -3

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at Arizona Cardinals

The Irishman just ended. Forgive me, it was very distracting. I couldn’t beat the clock, and for that, I apologize. I give it nine old man emojis. This game gets two old man emojis.

Pick: Steelers -3

Tennessee Titans (-3) at Oakland Raiders

Derrick Henry has only started 28 of 59 games in his career. Imagine starting another running back over him. I couldn’t. The Raiders are out on their feet, and one long TD run from Tractorcito will completely end their season. Scientists will be trying to figure out if the Titans are actually good for generations.

Pick: Titans -3

Seattle Seahawks (-1) at Los Angeles Rams

In the Legion of Boom’s heyday, they would always lose one game to the Rams. It was random and inexplicable and easy to predict. It was always the week Johnny Hekker would break out the fake punts and the score would be like 11-6. Even though the Rams are better than they were then, they have less chance to win. They’re just too soft and the Seahawks are too good. Someone lure Sean McVay into a meeting in an empty house before putting a bullet in his head and cleaning up the evidence already.

Pick: Seahawks -1

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-9.5)

Eli’s back, probably. Hooray.

Pick: Eagles -9.5

NFL Picks Week 13

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Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. I know I did, dutifully watching three pretty bad games while not being in physical proximity to my family. Alas, such is the price I pay for my lavish big city lifestyle. At least I was able to avoid questions about why I’m still single and don’t have any kind of career to speak of. Unfortunately, I can’t run from this week’s terrible slate of games, salvaged only by Niners-Ravens and a possibly decent Sunday night-Monday night combo. Really wish they put the Ravens at 4:25, but oh, well, I guess. We got Jets-Bengals to look forward to.

All lines from Bovada.

Green Bay Packers (-7) at New York Giants

Here’s something I’m thankful for: despite being miles away from my family on Thanksgiving, I know I was closer to mine than Aaron Rodgers is to his. Giants stink so they’ll get an easy win, but I wouldn’t feel too happy about this team if I was a cheesehead. Feels like an early playoff exit. What else is new for Rodgers, who fewer and fewer people are calling the GOAT these days?

Pick: Packers -7

San Fransisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens (-6)

Hell yes. The Niners are in the middle of an absurd stretch of games against really, really good teams, and getting out completely unscathed is a little unrealistic. Packers last week, now Ravens, Saints next week, then Seahawks in week 17 (Rams no longer count as competition). West coast team coming east for a 1 o’clock game plus Lamar being completely on fire means this is the one they drop. No shame, but they’d better win the rest of their games if they don’t want to get slapped in the face with a Wild Card appearance.

Pick: Ravens -6

Philadelphia Eagles (-10) at Miami Dolphins

This is a sad, sad game that no one needs to watch.

Pick: Dolphins +10

Cleveland Browns (-2.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Mason Rudolph revenge game that won’t feature Mason Rudolph, sweet! Did you know Myles Garrett hit him over the head with his own helmet a few weeks ago? If, for some reason, you watch more than three seconds of this game, you’ll be seeing the clip at least forty-five times, so don’t worry if you’re a little lost. Browns are in the middle of a classic “we finished the year hot but missed the playoffs, so let’s get the hype going for next year!” run, which is exactly what they did last year. And probably next year, and the year after that. Browns big.

Pick: Browns -2.5

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)

I don’t care that the Titans are back, I don’t care that Ryan Tannehill is taking the next step not playing terribly, and I definitely don’t care that Derrick Henry is doing his annual routine of becoming the best running back in the league the last six weeks of the season. Titans just don’t beat the Colts. Ever.

Pick: Colts -2.5

Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers (-10)

Yuck. Redskins predictably can’t even tank right. What are they doing winning games? Do they want Chase Young or not?

Pick: Panthers -10

New York Jets (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals

I’m addicted to this Jets run. They’re so good now! Completely out of nowhere. That’s the power of a run the table guarantee when used correctly (i.e., when you play all the terrible teams on your schedule). I don’t see why the Jets can’t win out. You know, besides the fact that they’re the Jets.

Pick: Jets -3.5

Tampa Bay Bucs (-1.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

I’ll tell you something- Jags SSSSSSSSSSSTTTTIIIINNNNNKKKKKKKKKK. They’re horrible and they quit three months ago. Can’t wait to watch Jameis put up 408 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs. Either Chris Godwin or Mike Evans will have 200+ yards receiving, and honestly, it might be both.

Pick: Bucs -1.5

Los Angeles Rams (-3) at Arizona Cardinals

Rams are such a disgrace. I understand losing to the Patriots in a Super Bowl kills morale. Happened to the Falcons, happened to the Seahawks, will happen to whatever NFC team makes it this year. But to fall apart so completely one year after reinventing the NFL and getting a thousand new coaches hired simply because they knew Sean McVay like this is embarrassing. Have some pride. Stop sucking so much. Be less boring. Guarantee they lose again this week, even though I kind of forgot the Cardinals existed during their bye.

Pick: Cardinals +3

Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Denver Broncos

It’s time to talk about what’s actually important- Thanksgiving leftovers. There’s a growing swath of anti-turkey rhetoric online these days, but, if you ask me, it’s just typically anti-traditionalism for its own sake. Because if you remove turkey from the equation, you remove the best part (by far) of Thanksgiving leftovers. The post-TG turkey sandwich is what God had in mind when he created food. The turkey tastes 10,000,000 times better day two or three or four (if you’re lucky, day five and six). The mashed potatoes are probably the most versatile leftover in that simply heating them up isn’t the only available option. You can fry them up in little patties, maybe bake them in little patties, if you’re feeling adventurous you can use them as a spread for your sandwich, or simply heat them up with some gravy. Pretty much everything you just kind of have to eat them as-is unless you get really creative. So ends the discussion.

Pick: Broncos +3

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-10)

You’re telling me Andy Reid is gonna lose coming off a bye the same week his appearance on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives aired? Please. Chiefs by a zillion.

Pick: Chiefs -10

New England Patriots (-3.5) at Houston Texans

The Texans could beat the Pats five thousand consecutive times and I would never be worried about them.

Pick: Pats -3.5

Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks (-3)

If, for some reason, I was in charge of making the lines, I probably would have made it Seahawks -4.5, so I’ll take the 3. Kirk Cousins already won a “big” game in primetime earlier this year. It won’t happen again.

Pick: Seahawks -3

NFL Week 12 Picks

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This is a day late, yes. You want to fight about it? I didn’t think so. I’ll be honest, Colts-Texans was so exciting I passed out for an entire day. Just knocked me right out. My brain couldn’t live with the new information it learned Thursday night; that information being that both these teams are somehow destined to lose in the Saturday afternoon Wild Card game. The AFC shouldn’t even have playoffs, it should just be Pats-Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. “B-but what about the Chiefs?” Shut up. Chiefs stink, too. Every team stinks, which is just what the NFL wants.

Mixed bag this week, some really, really good games, some really, really bad ones. For those of you without access to calendars, Thanksgiving is next week, which means we’re getting dangerously close to Playoff Scenario Graphics. Cherish this moment, it’s the best time of year.

All lines from Bovada.

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles (-1)

Am I missing something, here? The Seahawks are good and the Eagles are eh. Just about the only thing in the Birds’ favor is that Seattle is a west coast team coming east for a one o’clock game. Eagles’ season is on the line for the thousandth time this season, it’s time to put them down for good.

Pick: Seahawks +1

New York Giants at Chicago Bears (-6)

Puke city. There’s zero chance the Bears still play for Matt Nagy, right? That team wants nothing more than to quit on their dickhead coach. Giants win despite their best interests.

Pick: Giants +6

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-10)

Do people realize that Mike Thomas is currently on pace to break the single-season record for receptions? Because he is. I’ve established my love of massive reception totals with minimal yardage, but Michael racks up absurd yardage along with his one-yard quick screens and isn’t particularly fast, quick, or athletic. It’s breaking my brain, but I embrace it. This game is a showcase of Mike Furrey All-Stars, with Mike, Kamara, and CMC all likely to get 10+ catches for under 100 yards, which, if the planets align, will protect my browsers from porn for the foreseeable future. I can’t figure either one of these teams out, but I know that Kyle Allen STINKS and that he’s not going into the Dome and winning.

Pick: Saints -10

Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) at Cincinnati Bengals

Distraction-free week for the Steelers, just what you want when facing such an inferior opponent. Just focus on the task at hand, no outside talk about various controversies, onfield or otherwise. What happened last week? I sustained head trauma after an opponent bopped me on the noggin with a helmet and I’m having trouble remembering. I certainly remember how bad the Bengals are, though.

Pick: Steelers -7

Detroit Lions (-3.5) at Washington Redskins

Now that we’re in #YearEndSalesEventSZN, it’s time someone asks the question- has anyone ever actually gotten a car for Christmas? Do they even manufacture bows big enough to put on the roofs? If you woke up on Christmas morning and didn’t have any presents under the tree, wouldn’t you be a little pissed? And then your idiot husband is like “Hey, look, honey, I bought you a new car!” “Dang, Carl, thanks! What’d you do with the old one?” “Well, I sold it and all our other possessions so I could afford to buy this new car upfront since I didn’t find their financing options attractive enough.” “Sick.” What a terrible and impractical gift to give someone. If I got a car for Christmas, I feel like the whole time during the maiden voyage (which someone else technically did, because how else would it have gotten to you?) I’d just be thinking about how much I would have rather just gotten a new sweatshirt or something.

Pick: Lions -3.5

Tampa Bay Bucs at Atlanta Falcons (-4)

I know the Falcons are back and the Bucs are the opposite of back, but I’ll never take the Falcons. Not after I watched them blow a 28-3 lead in the third quarter of the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.

Pick: Bucs +4

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns (-10.5)

This can go one of two ways for the Browns: they can rally behind the loss of their best player, come together, and salvage the season by going on a surprise win streak. Or, they can, you know, be the Browns and lose to the Dolphins.

Pick: Dolphins +10.5

Oakland Raiders (-3) at New York Jets

I know I spat in the face of the rule ten seconds ago, but never pick a west coast team coming east for an early game. Especially not when the Jets are hot and have a Run The Table guarantee in play.

Pick: Jets +3

Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills (-4)

I don’t know, man. Let me know how this one ends.

Pick: Broncos +4

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tenessee Titans (-3.5)

There are diehard Jags and Titans fans out there. Legitimately. Imagine being one of those people. Imagine convincing yourself that either of these teams will be anything other than an irrelevant also-ran. Like, imagine being the Titans fan that’s like, “yeah, this is the year we’re gonna beat the Patriots and go all the way!” I can’t. I can’t imagine living such a pathetic life, and my life is about as pathetic as it gets. You can keep this game if it’s not Color Rush.

Pick: Titans -3.5

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots (-6.5)

I’m so secretly-not-that-confident about this game that I couldn’t be more confident. The Cowboys are a different animal obviously, but the last time the Pats faced an actually good offense it went… not great. Cowboys can rush the passer and theoretically run the ball down their gullet. But, like, come on. Have you watched Zeke this year? He stinks. I’ll bet my life that 1,000-year-old Randall Cobb and Mike Gallup don’t do anything too crazy. Pats can’t block anyone, but they haven’t blocked anyone all year and are 9-1. It’s Jason Garret vs. Bill Belichick. I really should have just said that and saved myself an entire pointless paragraph.

Pick: Pats -6.5

Green Bay Packers at San Fransisco 49ers (-3)

I know I’m obviously making it up, but I feel like they already played this year. Maybe I’m just caught up in the NFL 100 festivities and am just seeing old Packers and Niners highlights wherever I look. I’m seeing T.O., Dorsey Levins for some reason, another guy whose name I’m forgetting but he had 181 yards rushing while also throwing for 263 yards in the same playoff game. Classic helmet matchup; just feels like January. I tell you what, though, I’m stumped. Jimmy G’s been dying to cost them a game or two with a backbreaking pick late in the fourth quarter. Aaron Rodgers is dying to throw a tantrum on his team after they cost him a game late in the fourth quarter. Niners are better, so might as well just pick them.

Pick: Niners -3

Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Los Angeles Rams

Pats murdered the Rams, who are now in one of the more hopeless cap situations in the NFL. They’re about to get steamrolled.

Pick: Ravens -3.5

NFL Picks Week 11

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I was all set to go on a rant against the Browns’ headhunting safeties and my pure hatred for headhunting safeties in general. There was gonna be a lot of vitriol and fury, let me tell you. I turned the game off with like a minute and a half left so I could get some shuteye and wake up early to UNLEASH (h/t Skip) on the safeties of the NFL when I got a notification that the game ended in a brawl and that Myles Garrett used Mason Rudolph’s helmet as a weapon. What the hell, man? You couldn’t have done that two minutes earlier? There’s a lot of pearl-clutching and melodramatic melancholy out there today, but when you take a step back this is so funny. Listen, Garrett’s getting suspended, most likely for the rest of the season. But how can you not see the humor in this? He grabbed another guy’s helmet and bopped him on the head with it. Rudolph ate it, so it’s okay to laugh. Look at that picture. That’s a funny picture. Plus, I guarantee Rudolph is fine with it because now no one is talking about how terrible he was. All the contrarians online are pointing to Rudolph trying to take Garrett’s helmet off first for some reason (seriously, what was his plan, there?) as reason enough to defend Garrett (if you’re a Garrett defender, like, why? He hit someone over the head with a helmet. Not a lot of moral gray area), and I’d like to think this was intentional escalation by Rudolph. He knew what he was doing. He had to take the heat off himself. Now it’s Browns being Browns, not Mason Rudolph stinks. Genius level thinking. The good news for Myles is that this will definitely blow over and no one will ever bring it up again for the rest of his career. Don’t worry, man.

All lines from Bovada.

Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings (-10.5)

You know who’s been playing way too well and is itching to throw a game away? Kirk Cousins. Feel like I’ve gone with this a million weeks in a row, but the point stands. Big win in primetime last week, classic, classic letdown spot here. Broncos stink, but have just enough guys to be frisky in the right situation. This is that situation. It’s about time the Vikings receivers go on another tirade against their QB.

Pick: Broncos +10.5

New Orleans Saints (-5.5) at Tampa Bay Bucs

Last week was the third time this year the Saints didn’t score a touchdown. Third! That’s not good, folks. I know they’ve had a billion injuries or whatever, but they can’t score. At all. But, umm, you know who gives up the most points per game in the NFL? It rhymes with ducks. I bet you thought I was going to say a different word, there. We keep it clean around these parts. Shoutout Mikes Thomas and Evans, number one and two in receiving yards. Also shoutout Ndamukong Suh, no longer the dirtiest player in the league.

Pick: Saints -5.5

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-4)

Let’s try this again: what’s a bigger lock- Falcons getting blown out on the road or that the fun will never stop once a can of Pringles is popped?

Pick: Panthers -4

Buffalo Bills (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins

I don’t like that the Dolphins have dragged themselves up into the realm of the regular old bad teams. That’s boring. Going 0-16 while losing every game by 50 is way more exciting, and smarter. Sick job getting the seventh pick in the draft, guys. That’s what you get for tapping into Fitzmagic. Your season always winds up going off the rails.

Pick: Bills -6.5

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-3)

I’ll take the Colts because Brissett is back, but their season is one giant house of cards that will collapse at the slightest touch. The Titans have a better scoring differential. That’s the ultimate red flag. Both of these teams are so boring.

Pick: Colts -3

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-4)

Let me tell you something about these two QBs- they’re good. I’m not expecting a ton of defense, which is great news. Deshaun and Lamar are gonna trade highlight-reel touchdown drives all afternoon. RedZone might as well always just run double box with Texans-Ravens on one and everything else on the other. The universal law of anti-fun maintains that either one of them will get hurt or this will be a defensive slugfest, but I spit in the face of the universal law of anti-fun. Sparks are about to fly.

Pick: Ravens -4

Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at Detroit Lions

I’m not going to waste anyone’s time talking about two dead teams.

Pick: Cowboys -3.5

New York Jets at Washington Redskins (-2)

Folks,,,,,,,,,, Sam Darnold’s quest to get the Jets back in the playoffs is going to be the most disastrous flight since Dion Waters last passed TSA inspection. Oh! I’ll be here all week, make sure to buy your second drink and tip the wait staff. But seriously, a Jets player displaying optimism in 2019 is just asking to lose to one of the worst teams in history.

Pick: Redskins -2

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-10.5)

Not that I’m complaining, but what was with the lack of ’72 Dolphins coverage this year? We had two teams at 8-0, and not even a mention. Maybe this means we, as a society, are finally forgetting about the ultimate “yeah, but if they played today they’d lose by a billion” team. Anyone who still calls them the best team of all time is either senile or a personal friend of Don Shula, in which case you’re probably also senile. Anyway, I think I’m just addicted to predicting Cardinals backdoor covers even though I think the success rate is like 10%.

Pick: Cardinals +10.5

New England Patriots (-4) at Philadelphia Eagles

Pats’ first game after their first loss. Not to get too dramatic, but if this team is going to do anything in the playoffs (“anything” for the Pats means going to the Super Bowl), they’ll win this game by a thousand. Have to. If they look shaky again, the rumblings and grave dancings will commence. Someone fast forward me to the Bengals game so I can enjoy a blowout win again.

Pick: Pats -4

Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders (-11.5)

With the release of Disney+ (Mandalorian episode one review: pretty dece), everyone is going back and discovering the shows and movies of their youths (shoutout Gargoyles). The show I need to come back is The Mystic Knights of Tir na Nog, Saban’s galaxy brain idea to put Power Rangers in Medieval Ireland. I’m pretty sure I was the only one who watched it but I had, like, five action figures from it. It was awesome, and now that I think about it it’s a good thing I can’t watch it anywhere because then I won’t ever realize that it actually sucked.

Pick: Raiders -11.5

Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (-6)

I’m all in on this Bears turnaround. They won with the season on the line last week, and now they get to go through the soft-ass Cali Brahs and keep the train moving. I’ve determined that the Rams are the least tough team in the NFL, mostly because I know what happens to Jared Goff whenever the temperature falls below 67 degrees.

Pick: Bears +6

Kansas City Chiefs (-4) vs Los Angeles Chargers

Supongo que este juego de la Ciudad de México realmente sucederá. Aunque esto será lo más cercano a una ventaja de campo local que tienen los Chargers durante toda la temporada, esta línea es insultantemente baja. Los Jefes van a ganar por mil. Reservar.

Pick: Chiefs -4

NFL Picks Week 10

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The Raiders. Are they good? I don’t know. I know they’re on track to make the playoffs where they’ll lose in the first round, but I don’t know if they’re any good. I know Josh Jacobs is good. I think Darren Waller is good. I guess Derek Carr is dece. The rest of the roster feels solid and Jon Gruden has been a top ten coach in the league this year (mostly because there’s at least 22 awful coaches, but still). But the Raiders? Good? I don’t know. I’ll never know. They could win the Super Bowl this year (lol) and I’d still be wondering the same thing. I do know that the Chargers stink, though.

This is the third consecutive week I’ve said this, but yikes this is a terrible week. Half the interesting teams are on bye and all the games suck. You’ve gone apple picking two weeks in a row, but you might have to make it three once you take a look at the schedule. But it just means you’ve built up a lot of goodwill with the people in your life who expect you to use Sundays to do something other than watch football. Next week is better, but even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t tell you to skip four weeks in a row. Then it’s a concrete pattern and a lifestyle you can’t escape. Maybe this is a housework weekend where you’ve got the TV on in the background. That could stop the dangerous precedent from being set.

All lines from Bovada.

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-2.5)

There have been a lot of coaches that have looked bad this year, but I’m not sure if anyone’s taken as big a step backward as Matt Nagy. He had the route through the labyrinth last year, but this year he STINKS. Everything he touches turns to poop, every press conference he sounds even dumber than he did last week, and he seems completely over his head and prone to lashing out because he’s realizing alongside everyone else that maybe being Andy Reid’s playcaller is a much better situation than, you know, not having Andy Reid around to do all the work, especially without last year’s cupcake schedule. That being said, I think the Bears win by a lot this week. They aren’t this bad and, as we’ve established, the Lions are dead. Bears think about salvaging the season.

Pick: Bears -2.5

New York Giants (-3) at New York Jets

Jesus. In theory, I could go to this. In fact, I know someone who is. There are going to be thousands of people at MetLife Stadium to watch this “game.” Think about that for a second. Don’t know if the black cat on the field cursed the Giants or Cowboys, but until I do if they are I can’t pick the Giants. Jets might be cursed by proxy, but that changes nothing from their usual state.

Pick: Jets +3

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-14)

What’s the safer bet: the Falcons get blown out on the road or the sun rises in the east? Vegas is undecided.

Pick: Saints -14

Baltimore Ravens (-10.5) at Cincinnati Bengals

Alright, fine, I’ll comment on what happened last week: it happened. There, happy? Now we can move on with our lives. Oh, no, the Pats aren’t going undefeated, what will I do? They’re still gonna win the Super Bowl, so get your jokes in, now. Literally only one team can do what the Ravens did on offense because they’re the only ones with Lamar Jackson. I’m not worried. What I am worried about is the fact that I’ve misspelled Cincinnati wrong on the first attempt at least three weeks in a row, which is a distressing development after I thought I overcame that weakness last season.

Pick: Ravens -10.5

Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (-2.5)

I’ll tell you what, I’m back in on the Bud Knight ad universe. It was tired and played out, but like all great Family Guy jokes, it’s gone on long enough to be funny again. The injection of the Bud Knight Platinum has really brought new life to the franchise. Something about the way the Bud King (Prince? I have no idea what his title is) sadly asks “where are the Bud Light Platinums?” when his crew steps onto the Staring Into the Abyss Turret really tickles my funny bone. Can’t wait for another three years of these!

Pick: Bills +2.5

Kansas City Chiefs (-6) at Tennessee Titans

In a weird way, I think the Titans have a better chance of winning if Patrick Mahomes plays. Everyone will just count them out and bury them, which is the only time the Titans are any good due to Mike Vrabel’s oddly specific deal with the devil. You know what? I actually don’t care who the Chiefs QB is. We’re going Titans, and pretending we didn’t at roughly 1:08 PM on Sunday.

Pick: Titans +6

Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Bucs (-4.5)

I’m unironically excited to watch this completely irrelevant game because these are two of the five most entertaining QBs in the NFL. I can’t take my eyes off Jameis. I want the Bucs to sign him to a 25-year extension because next year he’ll put it all together, and Kyler is just pure electricity. Mike Evans is completely on fire and Chris Godwin is always padding his stats. Larry Fitzgerald is still alive, but barely. There is at least one player named Zane. What else do you need? Because it’s how football works, this game will finish 12-6.

Pick: Bucs -4.5

Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts (-11.5)

I’ll be honest, despite the fact that I’ve been interacting with them most of my life, I have no idea what the dynamic is between Jets fans and Dolphins fans, but I can guarantee it’s contentious now. Once the initial comedy of last week’s win wears off, how pissed would you be if you were a Fins fan? I’d be furious. The only plan this season was to go 0-16. I’d argue they were having one of the best seasons in the league. And the dumb Jets ruin that by accident by being more inept than the team that is intentionally inept. They gave the Bengals a possibly insurmountable one-game lead in the race for Tua. Now you pretty much have to go back to Rosen to ensure they don’t win another game. What a mess.

Pick: Colts -11.5

Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers (-5.5)

Based on my research, the last time a white guy lead the league in rushing was Jim Taylor in 1962. Christian McCaffery currently leads the NFL in rushing yards per game. We could be witnessing history, folks. One thing that’s helped him is that he doesn’t get caught from behind on long runs anymore, which was such a terrible but also hilarious look for white guys in general. How has he gotten faster? Well,,, who could say? I’m worried his quest for the title might take a hit this week since the ‘Thers (that’s what the cool kids are calling the Panthers, now. Deal with it) are gonna be down all game. The rumblings over trouble in Green Bay will just make Aaron Rodgers angry enough to destroy his next opponent.

Pick: Packers -5.5

Los Angeles Rams (-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL teams usually travel on Friday or Saturday for road games, and, given the length of the flight and time difference, I’m guessing the Rams are going to Pittsburgh today. It’s currently 33 degrees in Pittsburgh. This thing is OVER.

Pick: Steelers +4

Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys (-3)

I know this game probably deserves more discussion, but just like the Giants, until I know which way the black cat directed its curse, I can’t pick the Cowboys. And I’m just sick of them on primetime.

Pick: Vikings +3

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-6)

Remember the old Seahawks-49ers games in the mid-2010s? Those were awesome, and this game should be awesome, too. Man, that Niners D was crazy. Willis and Bowman, the Smith brothers (it was funny because they clearly weren’t brothers), some other guys. Aldon Smith was so good, and then he wasn’t. Anyway, this feels like such a sucker line. 6 points is so high that I feel like I’m being forced to take the Seahawks, which is exactly what The Man wants me to do. Which is why I’ll gladly do it.

Pick: Seahawks +6

NFL Picks Week 9

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Welcome, mortals, to another edition of Tales from the Brian’s Den. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations on surviving the horrors of All Hallow’s Eve. Unfortunately, your long night is far from over. I present thirteen bone-chilling stories and real-life accounts of terrifying events sure to curdle the blood. Can you brave the terror? If so, you have more of a spine than Baker Mayfield. But be warned, discretion is often the better part of valor. Proceed at your own risk. And allow me to be the last to wish you a Happy Halloween (if you’re the NFL, how can you allow Halloween to be a game day and not have the Ravens play a home game at night wearing all black? SMH).

Houston Texans (-2) vs Jacksonville Jaguars

You knew the jokes going in. “Moving to England to be a dentist, at least you’ve already got the British taste for irony.” And you wouldn’t lie to yourself, it had been hard. Day after day, another impossible plea for oral salvation. But the pay was good and there was a generous amount of vacation days, which you were happily using now. A trip to the southern countryside to see a friend in Salisbury. You had spent the first few days enjoying the quaint town, but you have to go out and stretch your legs. You drive to the fields between Salisbury and Amesbury, park, and explore the mystical world around you. Stonehenge got all the attention, and deservedly so, but there were countless other menhirs and stone circles in the area. You find a secluded one free from tourists and try to feel the Earth’s energy flow through you. You hear flapping in the wind, and look up to the hill in front of you. A man in a hooded cloak is standing silently, his cape flowing and snapping with the wind. He raises a hand and twirls his fingers. A spectral cat appears, almost as tall as the man.

“Is that a jaguar?” you ask, seeing the distinctive spots.

“In England, it’s pronounced JAG-u-ar,” the man said. “And the circle demands a sacrifice.”

The cat pounced.

Pick: Jags +2.5

Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles (-5)

Mitchell’s had a long day at work. His boss yelled at him, he lost a sale, his lunch got stolen, he parked directly on top of a nail, his boss yelled at him again, and the office printer stopped working. All he wanted to do was go home, crack open a cold locally brewed IPA, and reminisce about his youth and wonder why anyone would ever allow their life to become this. As he finally walked up his driveway and put his key in the door, his phone rang. His boss. Again. Against his better judgment, he answered.

“Hello?”

“Mitchell, you’re fired. Peace.”

He hung up. Awesome.

An hour later, his doorbell rang. Mitchell was buzzed, and he needed a distraction. It was a tall ginger, smiling earnestly.

“Do you have a moment to talk about the teachings of Jesus Christ?”

There was an axe by the door, neglected after a camping trip months ago. Mitchell grabbed it and buried it into the ginger’s skull. He liked the feeling. Maybe he should do it again.

Pick: Eagles -5

Indianapolis Colts (-1.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers

“You sure you want the Death Sandwich?” the pimply teenager behind the counter asked.

“Hell yeah, bro,” you say. You’ve seen a million ads for the sandwich that was impossible to eat, it was time to prove your manhood. Besides, you heard the owner, Mr. Sandwich himself, presented the sandwich to you when you ordered. A bizarre claim, considering how many locations the chain had.

“One Death Sandwich!” the kid called to the kitchen, ringing the large bell beside him. “That’ll be $15.87.”

A little steep, but a small price to pay for immortality.

“Have a seat, sir,” the kid said.

After a few minute wait, an old man approaches your table, barely able to keep the tray he was carrying stable.

“One Death Sandwich,” he said frailly. It was a massive sandwich- pastrami, provolone, coleslaw, tomatoes, and, of course, a mountain of fries. But impossible? Please. To impress Mr. Sandwich, you take a huge bite.

Something was wrong. Your hands were shaking, and it looked like they were getting older. Your skin was looser and wrinkled. Hair was falling out. You look to Mr. Sandwich, who’s growing younger by the second.

“Thank you for choosing the Death Sandwich,” he said, laughing. “Have fun in hell.”

Pick: Steelers +1.5

Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills (-9.5)

Luckily this game is horrifying enough as it is because I think this story would likely end in some kind of litigation.

Pick: Bills -9.5

Tennessee Titans at Carolina Panthers (-3.5)

It was an old, creaky house, but it was especially old and creaky when you have a guilty conscience.

Marcus was buried in the backyard. You killed him in a fit of rage, yet another fight about your mustache. You liked it, he didn’t. It was your face, dammit. But no, Marcus always had to get the last word in. Luckily, you were so much bigger and stronger than him. Strangling him was no issue. But days later, Marcus’s voice is stuck in your head.

Every night, you could hear the footsteps in the walls. The running had kept you up for the last three nights. It was just so fast, faster than a QB should be.

Tonight, a new sound was added to the house’s maddening symphony: the faint strumming of a ukelele. How could this be? Was it the pipes?

You hear a whisper, “he wasn’t turning the ball over this year.” You try to ignore it.

“Just run the option with him and Henry.”

“The defense is good enough to carry the offense as-is.”

“Try out a new offensive coordinator.”

“RYAN’S ABOUT TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP!” you scream into the aether. The house quiets down around you.

A knock at the door. It was so late, who could be calling. You practically spill your ice-cold Keystone Light all over your lap as you jerk up in your seat. You walk over to the door, imagining movement in your peripheral vision. You slowly open the door and come face to face with a pale figure with drooping shoulders. There’s a decaying lei around his neck.

“Hey, coach,” Marcus said. “Remember me?”

Pick: Titans +3.5

New York Jets (-3) at Miami Dolphins

“I don’t want to summon him, you summon him.”

“I don’t want to summon him, you summon him.”

Little Sammy had stumbled in on some of the older kids in the bathroom huddled around an old and thick book. One of them noticed him and dragged him over.

“You say it, kid,” he said.

“Say what?” Sammy asked.

“The summoning spell,” the older boy said. “Just go to the third stall, knock three times, and say ‘backbreaking fourth-quarter interception’ three times. Fitz should appear.”

“I don’t like ghosts,” Sammy said.

“He’s not a ghost, dumbass,” one of the other boys said. “He’s an undead baron of despair.”

“I don’t want to,” Sammy said.

“Just do it, kid,” one of them said. “It’ll make you cool.”

“Yeah, don’t be a baby.”

Hesitantly, Sammy gave in. He crept over to the third stall and raised his fist to knock once, twice, and… three times.

“Backbreaking fourth-quarter interception.”

Nothing happened.

“Backbreaking fourth-quarter interception.”

The lights flickered and the trees rustled in the wind.\

“…backbreaking fourth-quarter interception.”

Nothing happened. Sammy exhaled and turned to the older boys.

They were all dead, a bearded man standing over him. His skin was green and his tattered clothes were barely hanging on his body.

“Harvard,” the creature said, slowly advancing. “Harvard.”

Sammy screamed.

Pick: Jets -3

Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Kansas City Chiefs

It was just a dream, Andy told himself as he got out of bed in a cold sweat. Just a dream. Still, though, it couldn’t hurt to check.

He walked downstairs, keeping his eyes peeling for anything untoward. So far nothing, but the kitchen was what he was concerned about.

He took a deep breath and opened the pantry door. He felt his soul leave his body. He scrambled over to the fridge and yanked it open. Every cabinet door flew open before he collapsed onto the floor. They were all empty. All of his food was gone.

Pick: Chiefs +2.5

Tampa Bay Bucs at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5)

It was a full moon tonight, but the cloud cover was just heavy enough. Russell knew better, but he had been caught outside after sundown. Stupid bible study meeting ran long and he couldn’t leave early.

He was almost home, though, and the clouds were thinning out. If he could just get inside, disaster could be averted…

Someone ran into the road in front of his car. He slammed on the breaks just in time. The man motioned for him to get out of the car. Russell didn’t have time for this, but he got out, anyway.

“What’s the deal?” Russell asked.

“Hey, I’m sorry, sir,” the man said. “But I’m lost and I’m hoping you could help me out. I need to get to the pier.”

“Just go that way. Don’t you have a phone or something? Or couldn’t you, you know, ask someone else?”

“I’m really sorry,” the man said. “I just kind of panicked. My name’s Jameis, by the way.”

“Well, nice to meet you, but I have to get going.”

“Oh, just one more thing,” Jameis said. Russell felt the moon hit the back of his neck. He turned around- the clouds were gone. He gripped the car door tightly. “I’m looking for a decent place to eat. Got any suggestions?”

“Just use Google, man,” Russell said through gritted teeth. The window was starting to crack and crunch as the claws came out. He could feel his mouth elongating and the hair sprouting all over his body.

“Well, that’s not very helpful,” Jameis said. “I’m just looking for some neighborly advice, is all. Just making conversation.”

This man had annoyed him so much Russell no longer cared about keeping the beast at bay. He let go and allowed himself to transform. He had brought this on himself.

Pick: Seahawks -5.5

Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders (-2)

The trader laughed as the flaxen-haired boy named Chucky took the beans home. He had warned the child not to plant them, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to resist. How could he? At that age, disobeying adults was reason enough to do just about anything. Once those beans hit the soil, it was only a matter of time before the beanstalk grew, bridging the gap between this world and the trader’s master’s. Then the plan he had been developing for centuries would finally come to fruition.

Pick: Lions +2

Green Bay Packers (-4) at Los Angeles Rams

Feels kind of messed up to put a story in L.A. with the fires going, so let me ask this #BurningQuestion: Who was the first person with a name? I assume once one person had a name everyone decided they wanted one, too, but what about that period of time where literally one person had a name and no one else did? How did names spread? Why does everyone in the world have names, and how did everyone in the world know to give people names? No, I haven’t eaten anything strange lately, why do you ask?

Pick: Packers -4

Cleveland Browns (-4) at Denver Broncos

The demon looked down on the two in disgust. From his vantage point, he could see the entirety of the labyrinth he had built, right down to the last death trap. He had selected Freddie and Vic and random, but assumed they would be adequate representations of the average human’s resourcefulness. It had been two years, and they had yet to make it passed the door to the maze. It wasn’t even a puzzle, they just couldn’t figure out how to open it. Swallowing his loss, he descended on the maze and killed them, ready to find a new pair to test out his masterpiece.

Pick: Broncos +4

New England Patriots (-3.5) at Baltimore Ravens

Lamar was regretting the decision already. He had let himself get goaded into visiting the castle alone. At night. In a storm. On Halloween. But all he had to do was spend one night here, right?

An hour of sitting in the foyer soon became unbearably boring. He wandered room to room, looking for… he wasn’t quite sure. But all he found were ghostly shapes illuminated by the lightning and an increased heart rate. He went back to the foyer, at least there was a fireplace he could pretend to use.

A huge bolt of lightning flashed and his eyes darted to the great staircase. Someone stood at the top. Lamar yelp and ran towards the door, bet be damned. Another crash of lightning and the figure appeared in front of him.

“Hello, Lamar,” he said. “Welcome to Castle Brady. Are you enjoying your stay?”

Lamar turned and took off down the hallway, but the figure appeared before him once again.

“Running won’t be much use,” he said. “There is no escape.”

Lamar screamed, but no one outside the castle could hear it.

Pick: Patriots -3.5

Dallas Cowboys (-7) at New York Giants

Welcome to the other side, friends. You’ve made it out of the cruel den of horrors and can now settle in at home, as you watch the Cowboys and Giants play on primetime. For all eternity! Mwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! There is no escape!

Pick: Cowboys -7

NFL Picks Week 8

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Did last night’s game even happen? I think it was the most forgettable, irrelevant game I’ve ever seen (I realize that discussing it as such immediately disqualifies it from being the most irrelevant game, but whatever). Imagine if that was the first game of football you’ve ever watched. Imagine if that was the only game you’ve ever watched. I think about that sometimes during nondescript prime time games. If your only impression of football was the week 8 Thursday night game between the Redskins and Vikings, I can’t imagine you’d ever come back for more. It wasn’t even bad enough where you could think it was an outlier and other games would be better. It was just boring. It was nothing. It was a nothing game. I can’t wait to never think about it again (don’t look now, but the Redskins have covered back-to-back games while only scoring 9 total points). It’s a good thing I don’t publish Thursday picks, otherwise I’d extend my streak of being wrong about every Kirk Cousins game to infinity consecutive weeks.

I’ve got some bad news for anyone from the previous sentence who’s experiencing their first-ever week of football this week for some reason- this week STINKS. I know I say that every week, but this week I really mean it. Pick your cliche: it’s apple picking week, it’s pumpkin patch week, it’s housework week, it’s fulfill social obligations so you don’t slowly become a hermit week. Rest assured, I’ll still be watching every second. But you shouldn’t. All lines from Bovada.

Seattle Seahawks (-7) at Atlanta Falcons

I know I said the Bengals had the worst defense I’ve ever seen a few weeks ago, but I have to rescind that proclamation, but the Falcons have the worst defense in the history of organized football. I will not listen to arguments. Their opponents no longer matter.

Pick: Seahawks -7

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (-6)

Here’s a bit of trivia: did you know that the Broncos…are bad? It’s true, they are. And the Colts happen to be good. Beef Brissett has the second-most TD passes in the league. The post-Luck express train keeps rolling.

Pick: Colts -6

New York Giants at Detroit Lions (-6.5)

Lions seem kind of dead, but the Giants are also dead. It would be appropriate if this was the Halloween edition, but that comes next week even though it should probably be this week, but I already started this one normally and don’t feel like redoing it all again. Nothing wrong with some spookiness on November 1, right? I guess I’ll go Lions. Shoutout to everyone who apologized to Danny Dimes. Turns out he actually is horrible.

Pick: Lions -6.5

Los Angeles Chargers at Chicago Bears (-4)

I want both these teams to be disbanded.

Pick: Bears -4

Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints (-10.5)

Folks, it’s finally time to admit I was wrong about the Saints. They did not, in fact, lose all the games I said they would lose. It’s tough to say, but there it is. They won’t lose this game, either (wink, wink). But things have been going a little too well for them, lately. It’s time they get stuck in an unnecessarily hairy game. Cardinals somehow have three wins and a tie. That means the maximum amount of games they can lose is 12. Only 12! This is twisting my brain around and the only way to get it untangled is to pick them on the road in the toughest place to play in the league.

Pick: Cardinals +10.5

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams (-13)

There are 32 teams in the NFL. That’s a pretty good number of teams. Decent sample size. How are 30 of them bad? I don’t get how 99% of NFL teams have absolutely no idea what they’re doing week to week. And we’re shipping two of them to London. Here you go, lads! Bengals-Rams! These two teams are really good, believe us! This league disgusts me.

Pick: Rams -13

New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars (-7)

There are so many awful games I don’t even know where to put my joke pick.

Pick: Jags -7

Tampa Bay Bucs at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)

I regret not doing the Halloween theme this week. At least then it would have been fun to go through these terrible, no good, very bad games. Curse the Gregorian Calendar.

Pick: Bucs -2.5

Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills (-2)

Josh Allen is about to sit down to an eleven-course meal at the finest restaurant in Buffalo (I assume it’s a TGI Friday’s), and bird is on the menu. Eagles are donezo.

Pick: Bills -2

Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers (-6)

What the hell is this? A decent game? I’ll be honest, I love the Panthers. I’m back on board after quitting them for a couple weeks, but this feels like the perfect spot for the Niners to pick up their first loss. Jimmy G’s been teetering on the edge of a real stinker, and facing a good defense is finally gonna pop the pimple. I love the Niners, but they’re not 16-0. Kyle Allen keeps the QB controversy that everyone agrees isn’t a real controversy so why are we still talking about it? going.

Pick: Panthers +6

Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots (-13)

I know no one wants to hear me talk about the Pats anymore (jk, I know you’re addicted), so I’ll keep this short. I’ve seen people making desperate attempts to come up with ways the Browns can win. This is laughable.

Pick: Pats -13

Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (-7)

Am I crazy or are the lines this year 10x higher than they normally are? This feels like it should be Texans -4.5. But I guess the Raiders are back to being bad again so it makes sense. I hate trusting the Texans, which is why I love picking them. Trust me, it makes sense.

Pick: Texans -7

Green Bay Packers (-4) at Kansas City Chiefs

No Mahomes, next.

Pick: Packers -4

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14)

It’s time for my much-anticipated MTG-NFL crossover. We have to start with Bill Belichick. He’s the most obvious blue-black player I’ver ever seen. He’s so committed, I wouldn’t be surprised if he founded House Dimir. He’s just dying to counter everything you do, preferably milling you to death in the process. I think Brady might be blue-white, maybe red-white? Actually blue-white, I could see him- wait, what’s that? No one cares or gets it? Oh, okay. Guess I’ll table this again.

Pick: Steelers -14