Pigskin Pick’Em: Choose wisely when you pick winners

  • By Nolan Rose
  • Wednesday, October 29, 2014 9:14pm
  • Sports

The margin for error in the NFL is razor thin. The 6-1 Dallas Cowboys entered week eight with the most feared rushing attack in the NFL, an overachieving defense, and a veteran quarterback playing some of the best football of his career. The 2-5 Washington Redskins were coming to town as a diminished product. Washington was minus its top pass rusher and vagabond Colt McCoy was charged with throwing passes. There was every reason to believe Dallas would roll to an easy victory. That’s not how life works in the NFL.

The Redskins, 10-point dogs, took Jerry’s World by storm. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo absorbed hit after hit, and DeMarco Murray remember how much he liked to fumble the football. At one point Romo look like an old boxer who had taken one too many punches to the gut. A particularly jarring blow forced Romo to the locker room for much of the second half. Moments later Washington left the Metroplex with an inprobable victory.

The 6-2 Cowboys enter week nine with Romo’s status very uncertain, their defense exposed as the inadequate unit it was expected to be at the beginning of the year, and a running back hell bent on fumbling the football. Jerry’s World is crumbling! Amazing the difference a week makes. That’s life in the NFL.

This may come as a shock to you considering past results but I’m incapable of predicting the future. The column recorded an unsightly 6-9 mark in last week’s slate of games. That drops our season total to 66-54-1, a solid record, but far short of our lofty standards. We’ll attempt to makes amends this week.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ Carolina Panthers +3

The 3-4 New Orleans Saints march into Charlotte to battle the 3-4-1 Carolina Panthers. First place in the putrid NFC South is up for grabs. New Orleans has yet to win a road contest in 2014. The Panthers are 2-2 at home. Carolina has won three of the last four meetings between these rivals. The teams enter this contest going in opposite directions. The Saints crushed NFC favorite Green Bay a week ago. Carolina lost a defensive battle at home against Seattle. This is a game the Saints should win. If Drew Brees avoids costly turnovers the Saints will record their first road victory of the season. Saints win 31-24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @
CLEVELAND BROWNS -7

Siding with the Cleveland Browns minus seven is hard to stomach. The Browns have been terrible since I was born. For decades, honest gamblers would be ridiculed for such a move, and rightfully so. In yet another sign of the Armageddon fast approaching the 4-3 Browns are apparently good at football. Tampa Bay is the opposite of that. The season can’t end soon enough for the 1-6 Bucs. Tampa’s minus 90-point differential is only topped by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Florida sucks at football. Browns win 24-16

ARIZONA CARDINALS @
Dallas Cowboys -3

The 6-1 Arizona Cardinals are in the midst of a dream season. Everything that can go right does, everything that can go wrong doesn’t. The Desert Bats received the ball trailing the Philadelphia Eagles 20-17 with a 1:56 remaining in the contest. The Eagles should win right? Or at worst relinquish a field goal to force overtime. Three plays later Carson Palmer hit John Brown on a 75-yard scoring pass to win the game. That’s ridiculous. Cinderella’s story continues. Cardinals win 30-27

Philadelphia Eagles @
HOUSTON TEXANS +2.5

J.J. Watt is a hurricane. He’s a tornado, a super volcano. Watt is an offensive natural disaster. The last defensive player to rag doll 300 pound lineman as frequently as Watt was Reggie White. The guy is incredible. Philly’s offensive line has struggled to run or pass block all year. That’s not good when you’re about to face Watt and his sidekick Jadeveon Clowney. Eagles QB Nick Foles has authored a trend of throwing the ball to the other team under pressure. Foles will be under pressure on Sunday. Texans win 26-23

New York Jets @
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -10

I sided with the Jets a week ago as a small favorite at home against the Buffalo Bills. One hundred interceptions later I vowed to never side with a Rex Ryan Jets team again. I won’t do it. Ten is more points than I’d like to lay backing a plodding Chiefs offense but what’s a guy supposed to do? The Jets are capable of completely imploding at any moment. Chiefs win 21-7

Jacksonville Jaguars @
CINCINNATI BENGALS -11.5

Cincinnati hasn’t lost a home game in two seasons. Jacksonville is 5-19 since 2013. It is likely that Cincinnati loses a home game at some point in the future. It is unlikely Jacksonville will be the team that ends the Bengals home streak. As mentioned earlier, Jacksonville leads the league in getting crushed. Cincinnati, still trying to break out of a patch of sloppy play, should win this battle of cats quite comfortably. Bengals win 31-13

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS @
Miami Dolphins -1

This is the definition of a coin flip. Miami has rebounded from a slow start, winning two straight to get back over .500 for the year. San Diego roared out of the gate winning five of their first six contests before dropping two consecutive games. The Chargers fancy themselves a Super Bowl contender and I tend to agree. QB Philip Rivers is playing the best football of his career and the defense has been stingy. San Diego can’t afford to drop another game to keep pace with the Denver Broncos in the hotly contested AFC West. Chargers win 28-20

Washington Redskins @
MINNESOTA VIKINGS -1.5

Robert Griffin is expected to return this week for the Pre-Columbus Americans. Washington is riding a high after their dramatic victory in Dallas last Monday, but that alone won’t knock the rust off Griffin’s right arm. It feels like RG3 hasn’t played in forever and there’s no guarantee his fragile body and mind will survive four quarters this weekend. I hate to back Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater without getting points, but a surprisingly strong Vikings defense should carry the day. Vikings win 27-24

ST. LOUIS RAMS @
San Francisco 49ers -10

This is the third of four matchups this weekend featuring double digit spreads. Such large numbers always complicate matters. Side with the favorite and you’re susceptible to the dreaded backdoor cover. In gambling parlance getting “backdoored” refers to having a comfortable margin slip away because of a meaningless late score. I expect the 49ers to win rather convincingly but 10 points in a rivalry game is just too many. 49ers win 26-17

DENVER BRONCOS @
New England Patriots +3.5

New England has won four in a row and looked fantastic while doing it, but with the way his majesty (Peyton Manning) is playing lately you can’t turn down an opportunity to side with the Denver Broncos for less than a touchdown. Home field advantage in the AFC playoffs is likely at stake and the winner certainly becomes the favorite to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. The two quarterbacks will garner all the headlines, but Denver’s pass rush will be the difference. Broncos win 38-24

OAKLAND RAIDERS @
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -15

My beloved Seattle Seahawks have been in a funk all season. The team has been hampered by an incredible amount of injuries and off field noise. It’s definitely been the most stressful football season I’ve experience in a while. The Seahawks treaded water last week surviving a scare in Carolina before capturing the win on their final possession. Seattle simply isn’t playing well enough to warrant a two touchdown spread even if their hosting the thoroughly incapable Oakland Raiders. Seahawks win 24-14

Baltimore Ravens @
PITTSBURGH STEELERS +1

Isn’t football better when the two teams rushing the field have a long history of hating each other? This year’s second meeting between the Steelers and Ravens will be contested with added importance. Both teams (plus Cincinnati) are in a tight race for the AFC North crown, and neither can afford a fourth loss and maintain any realistic hope of earning home field advantage in the playoffs. Expect a close contest, one that will be settled in the final minutes. Steelers win 24-23

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @
New York Giants -3.5

Andrew Luck has gotten off to an MVP-caliber start to his third season, but the real story for this Colts team was the surprisingly frugal defense. That storyline didn’t hold up in Pittsburgh. The Colts were shredded for a fifty burger last week by the Steelers. If you’re not familiar with “burger” being used in that way you’re not alone. I have no idea why the term means what it does, but I’m trying to stay young at heart, so I’ll make it a part of my nomenclature. Now that’s old school! Oh by the way the Colts are going to win. Colts win 40-24

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