Pigskin Pick ‘Em: Column returning to life in NFL season

The column posted its third week in the black out the last four with another 7-5 mark against the spread in the NFL’s 11th ledger of games. The positive total leaves us 69-84 for the year. We’ve slowly inched closer to where we started after an adventurous first month left quite a hill to climb. We’re down to the final six weeks of action, playoff contenders have begun to separate themselves from the league’s middle-class. The AFC appears to be a two-horse race between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. Things are a little less clear in the NFC where four teams currently sit at 8-2 or better. The bottom of the NFL has never been more pathetic. The Bengals, Redskins, Jets, and Dolphins have taken turns upstaging each other over who could appear more hopeless. Enough rambling, let’s get to the picks!

Colts @ TEXANS -3.5

Thursday night football gives us a huge AFC South division matchup this week with the Colts and Texans tied atop the standings. The Colts own a slight edge having defeated the Texans in Indy 30-23 earlier this year. Houston is coming off a season worst performance in Baltimore last week. I expect Deshaun Watson and company to bounce back in this one. Texans win 28-20

SEAHAWKS @ Eagles -1.5

It’s hard to win road football games in the NFL. The Seahawks are 5-0 at home heading into this contest. Eagles QB Carson Wentz is struggling but it’s hard to say if it’s the QB or the lack of viable receiving options that is creating the problems. Seattle’s pass rush, led by the brilliant performance of Jadeveon Clowney, has returned to form. That’s bad news for Wentz and the Eagles. Seahawks win 27-21

Bucs @ FALCONS -4.5

Suddenly the Atlanta Falcons, given up for dead just three weeks ago have reeled off consecutive wins. Atlanta — and this isn’t a typo — has been led by a resurgent defense. Tampa Bay stinks. Wake me up when the Jameis Winston experience is over. Falcons win 31-17

BRONCOS @ Bills -4

The Donkeys have been hard-luck losers all season having lost four games by four points or less. Three of those have been on last-second field goal gone awry! I’m not convinced this Bills team has enough fire power on offense to pull away from Denver. The Broncos can’t lose another nail-biter, can they? Bills win 23-21

GIANTS @ Bears -6

Who is going to play QB for the Bears this week? Will the previously benched Mitchell Trubisky return to the starting lineup? If Trubisky does return, is that good news for the Bears or Giants? Does anyone even care if Trubisky returns? These are just a few of the unintriguing questions surrounding this meaningless affair. Bears win 17-16

STEELERS @ Bengals +6.5

You pretty much just have to side against the Bengals on principle at this point. The team’s well documented tanking efforts reached a crescendo last week when they failed to target top wide receiver Tyler Boyd a single time in a seven-point loss in Oakland. The Bengals will do whatever it takes to lose, optics be damned. Steelers win 27-13

DOLPHINS @ Browns -10.5

It’s seems counterintuitive to list a bad Browns team as double-digit favorites against anyone, especially since Cleveland will be without their best defender, Myles Garrett, who literally tried to knock an opposing player’s head off with a helmet last Sunday. Cleveland will win but they’ll probably stumble their way through the game. Browns win 23-14

Panthers @ SAINTS -10

Another NFL game, another double-digit spread. The Panther’s answer to replacing injured started Cam Newton at QB was Kyle Allen. For four weeks and four victories people were wondering if Allen should replace Newton permanently. A few weeks later, after throwing the ball to the opposing team repeatedly, rumors are Allen will soon be replaced by third-stringer Will Grier. Life changes fast in the NFL. Saints win 35-17

RAIDERS @ Jets +2.5

This feels like the lock of the week. Chucky Gruden has the Raiders trending in the right direction at 6-4. The Jets are coming off a resounding win against the Redskins, but does defeating a team that would likely finish near the bottom of the Canadian Football League mean anything? The Jets are bad. Raiders win 24-13

LIONS @ Redskins +3.5

Speaking of the Redskins. Washington faces perhaps the only team it could beat at the moment. Detroit is without star passer Matt Stafford and is dealing with a slew of injuries at other positions. The Redskins should win this game, but you just get the feeling that the Redskins will do what they always do and find a way to lose. Lions win 27-17

Jags @ TITANS -3

Both of these teams have been riding a roller coaster of wins and losses this season. Tennessee has to win this game to maintain any realistic shot of capturing the AFC South. The Jags are rumored to have passer Nick Foles back under center. Foles was injured in the team’s opener, but his replacement Gardner Minshew, has impressed. Benching Minshew is a dubious decision for franchise desperate for a spark. Titans win 26-14

COWBOYS @ Patriots -6.5

Dak Prescott is on quite a run for the Dallas Cowboys. The young passer has emerged as a dark horse MVP candidate in the last few weeks. New England’s passer hasn’t fared as well. The legendary Tom Brady may finally be showing signs of slowing down as he and the Patriots offense has really sputtered in recent weeks. A dominant New England defense will have to carry this team to another Super Bowl. Patriots win 20-17

PACKERS @ 49ers -3

San Francisco is a different team without star TE George Kittle. So is my fantasy team. With Kittle’s status still in doubt its hard to side with the 49ers against an 8-2 Packers team. Green Bay has had some bouts of mysterious play despite the great record. This would be a huge win for the Packers and their hopes of claiming the NFC North. A loss for the 49ers could really muddy up the NFC West. Packers win 28-23

RAVENS @ Rams +3

This is an elimination game for the Rams in the NFC West. It’s too bad Rams QB Jared Goff is bad at passing, which makes scoring points difficult. The Ravens are led by alien robot Lamar Jackson. Jackson’s play in recent weeks has vaulted him to the top of the MVP race. Can the Rams slow Jackson down? No. Ravens win 34-17

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