Week 6 picks and it's really not going well.
Nine games under .500 for the season? Back-to-back 5-9 weeks? Losing my first Lock of the Week? It's falling apart -- I feel like Henry Hill in the third act of "Goodfellas." Whenever I get ready to make a pick I look out the window and see helicopters.
But it's time to turn it around, I can feel it. I smell an 11-3 week. It's close. And it better be: On Tuesday Rob Bradford gave me the vote of confidence. We know how that goes. I'm thinking another 5-9 week and next Friday you'll be lucky enough to read the first installment of "Bean Picking: D.J. takes a look at Week 7."
To the picks we go ...
HOUSTON (+3.5) over Kansas City
I'm starting to remember why I didn't trust the Texans in the preseason, when everyone was picking them to make the playoffs. Remember, they needed to beat the Patriots in the 2009 season finale just to keep their head coach from getting gassed. For some reason that was considered a huge win for them, but it came in a game that meant nothing to the Pats (they lost Wes Welker in the first quarter and Brian Hoyer was on the field at the end of the game). I just felt they graduated -- at least in the eyes of the media -- to a status they hadn't earned.
So why do I pick them? Simple. I'm just going with the desperate team. The Texans lose this game? They'll be 3-3 and looking at this for the next eight games:
Just a quick once-over and I've got them at 6-8 after those games with a loss this week. I think the Chiefs are for real (if they had the Matt Cassel of 2008 they would be a dead ringer for the 2001 Patriots) and are going to win the AFC West (easy schedule) but the Texans put up enough points to steal a win and in reality keep their season alive.
Miami (+4) over GREEN BAY
This line is based on Aaron Rodgers playing Sunday. Assuming that what we witnessed a week ago Monday was a special teams outlier, I'm cooling off but still OK with the notion that the Dolphins are legit. I think they take a look at how the Redskins beat the Packers last week -- 157 yards rushing -- and unleash some Ricky and Ronnie to win outright.
ST LOUIS (+9) over San Diego
Look, I know the Rams produced a "Gigli" last week in Detroit, but I cannot pick the Chargers as a nine-point favorite on the road over any team in the league. They've just done nothing to deserve that. Three road games, three losses. And this isn't to the Pats, Colts and Ravens. We're talking Kansas City (understandable -- AFC West rival in Week 1,) Seattle and Oakland (just another 117.1 passer rating for Jason Campbell and 104 yards rushing from Michael Bush.
(Sad to see the Chargers cut ties with Shawne Merriman, one of my all-time favorite guys. Whether it was getting busted for steroids or being charged with choking a bisexual reality TV star, Merriman was always there to be dominated by Matt Light in a playoff game or do his "Lights Out" dance after picking up a sack in a 30-point game. A modern-day Chuck Bednarik. Hard to believe he hasn't already won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.)
Detroit (+11) over NEW YORK GIANTS
If, if, if …
If that Calvin Johnson play at the end of Week 1 is ruled a catch (which it would have been before this year and will be starting next year) and if the defense makes just a couple of plays in Week 2 vs. the Eagles the Lions could be 3-2 heading into this game. I don't think they go into New York and win (both Johnson and Jahvid Best are iffy with injuries) but the Lions have been competitive in every game this season. Oh, and I'm 0-8 picking double-digit favorites the last three weeks. So there's that.
New Orleans (-4) over TAMPA BAY
I'm still buying the Saints, though blowing a double-digit lead to Max Hall and the Cardinals might be the early shocker of the NFL season. If anyone ever tries to tell you that turnovers aren't the most important statistic in football just show 'em the box score for that Cards-Saints game.
Total Yards: Saints 358, Cards 194
First Downs: Saints 20, Cards 12
Yards per pass play: Saints 6.8, Cards 4.6
Yards per rush: Saints 3.9, Cards 1.7
Turnovers: Saints 4, Cards 1
Cleveland (+14) over PITTSBURGH
Colt McCoy with a brutal assignment in his first NFL start, but the Browns have been surprisingly frisky -- especially on defense -- and you have to think Ben Roethlisberger might be a little sloppy in his first week back. Not as sloppy as, say, the Milledgeville, Georgia, police department but sloppy enough to keep the Browns within a couple of scores.
CHICAGO (-6.5) over Seattle
Good luck figuring this one out -- Which NFL head coach posted the following on his Twitter account on October 6?
"The new Facebook movie is really good! it's cool because it's so contemporary... you gotta see it if you haven't yet!"
No luck? Maybe this Tweet will crack the case for you:
"@RyanSeacrest thanks for your support Ryan. We're making progress but we need all the help we can get... appreciate your support!"
Don't feel bad about being stumped, there's so many candidates. More hints next week …
Atlanta (+2.5) over PHILADELPHIA
Still don't know if Vick plays Sunday, but unless he's going to put on a fat suit, jump on the D-Line and do a terrific Ted Washington impression, it's not going to matter much. The Falcons have rushed for 686 yards over the last four weeks, best in the league. And the Eagles have allowed 130 rushing yards per game (and nearly 4.4 yards per carry) this season.
Oakland (+7) over SAN FRANCISCO
If there was ever a game that could end in a legitimate brawl between the two head coaches this would be it, right? Mike Singletary will plunge deeper into madness after another loss. Two more losses and he'll be Joe Pesci in "JFK," complete with the toupee and about 600 whacked-out theories on how the NFL, the Cubans and Howard Hunt have teamed up to keep his team out of the red zone.
New York Jets (-3) over DENVER
Really? The best defense in the league only three-point favorites over a team that can't run the ball? A team that leads the league in rushing yards per game a three-point favorite over a team that is 25th against the rush? Am I underrating the Mile High Factor? The Broncos have had two shots against the elite this year -- Indy and Baltimore -- and lost by 14 both times. No reason this will be any different. Lock of the Week.
Dallas (+1.5) over MINNESOTA
Loser leaves town match. No way either team comes back and gets into the playoffs after a 1-4 start.
(Not to get all Tony Dungy here, but how has Roger Goodell not met with Brett Favre over Dong-gate yet? This is a guy who has acted quickly -- some say too quickly -- to hand out punishment since he took over as commish. Why is Favre different than all the other cases? I'm not saying what he allegedly did is worse than Vick or Roethlisberger or whoever else, but I have to think texting naked pictures of your package to another NFL employee probably violates the personal conduct policy. Goodell has been Chief of the Morality Cops the last couple of years, and he's been invisible during the whole Favre ordeal. Is it crazy to think that if this were, I don't know, Tarvaris Jackson instead of Favre there would already be a punishment handed out?)
Indianapolis (-3) over WASHINGTON
The Redskins have scored 20 or more points exactly once this season, or the same amount of times the Colts have failed to score 20 or more points. The Redskins are 3-2 and have done so even though Donovan McNabb has been quietly kind of awful: only four TDs in 170 pass attempts, a percentage that would be the lowest of his career (and his completion percentage -- 56.5 -- is 27th in the league). Hard to argue that he's better than Kolb or Vick right now, particularly when you factor in the money.
Tennessee (-2.5) over JACKSONVILLE
Through five games Vince Young has a passer rating of 95.2 and has thrown just two INTs. If he plays anywhere near that level for the rest of the year the Titans will be a top three seed in the AFC playoffs.
(Aside: You want a "Secretariat" review in about 100 words? Skip the movie and watch the SportsCentury, or better yet read William Nack's book. The greatest horse who ever lived, and instead of focusing on that we get two hours of people telling Diane Lane's character how proud they are of her because … why? I guess because she toughed it out and lived in a huge house in Virginia instead of with her family in a huge house in Denver. Just a Disney hokefest, a copy-and-paste job of "The Blind Side" with about three tweaks. I've written this before: The sports movie is a dead genre.)
Baltimore (+2.5) over NEW ENGLAND
The idea of this as a "revenge game" for the Patriots is just dopey. I'm pretty sure if they beat the Ravens on Sunday that the NFL won't go back and change the result of last year's playoff whipping. Tough to get playoff revenge in October. And also this: The players don't think like that. They just want to win this game to get to 4-1. Nothing else matters. I don't believe, with 6:18 left in the third quarter on Sunday, Tom Brady thinking about last January is going to help him get out of the way of a blitz any faster. Revenge games sound great but what does it really mean? The reality is that the Ravens were a better team that day and they have gotten better. We still don't know about the Pats, but it's tough for me to say that this team -- with this defense and now without Moss -- is even the equal of the 2009 group. I think they'll be better at the end of the year, but on Sunday they lose a close one to a Baltimore team that I still feel is one of the three best in the NFL. Call it 24-21.
Last Week: 5-9