Thursday, November 21, 2013

COAS/SSLYAR Pigskin Pick 'Em Week 12

We're onto the last of the set of bye weeks in this NFL slate, so after this week, it's full-on 16 game sets. For Nathaniel, that might be a key difference in overcoming his defecit. It grew last week, as we both finished under .500, but I took two of the three games we differed on to push my lead back up to six games.

Obviously, as has happened so far this year, anything can actually happen on any given Sunday. And usually, it's gone against common wisdom (or at least, my and/or Nathaniel's wisdom) and has dragged us down to near .500 overall. So really, neither of us is any better at this than you would be flipping a coin to pick games, except our rationales behind them are usually way better than "This is what flipping a coin got me."

This week we disagree on a whopping seven different games, so my lead could be gone by Sunday night. I imagine not, but we're probably looking at a shift of a few games.

So without further ado, let's move on to this week's set of picks.

Thursday Night
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons (+8.5)
Lucas: Saints. I knew New Orleans was due to have a resurgent year based on getting Sean Payton back and the history of the NFC South where nobody wins it two years running. I didn't expect them to be this good. Maybe not Super Bowl good (considering it's in New York this year), but they're a definitely favorite.
Nathaniel: Saints. Formerly one of the most underrated rivalries in the league, currently another in a line of blowout losses for the Falcons. 

Sunday, Early Afternoon
Chicago Bears @ St. Louis Rams (-1.5)
Lucas: Bears. I think even under Trestman, the Bears still have a bit too much reliance on their defense and/or special teams to bail them out, but their offense is certainly scarier. Even with seemingly half the team still hurt I'll take them against a mediocre-at-best Ram team.
Nathaniel: Bears. The one thing I’m most sure of about this game? The weather will be SLIGHTLY better than it was for the Bears’ last game.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns (-2.5)
Lucas: Steelers. Stupid bee uniforms.
Nathaniel: Browns. Neither team’s probably playing in January, but the Browns at least boast one above-average unit (their defense). The Steelers are wholly mediocre right now and don’t have a lot of reason for hope for the future.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions (-9.5)
Lucas: Buccaneers. If you were to make a list of the NFL head coaches who are the biggest scumbags in the league (which doesn't necessarily make you a bad head coach, let me preface this with), after Bill Belichek, I feel like you could put Greg Schiano and to a lesser extent Jim Schwartz not too far down the list after him. The way Tampa has played the past couple weeks, I could see them covering this.
Nathaniel: Buccaneers. Detroit’s defense remains pretty bad and the Buccaneers usually hang tough for three and a half quarters before folding at the end. Getting 9.5 points basically solves that problem, however.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (-4.5)
Lucas: Packers. Listen, Green Bay. I don't ask for much. But for my birthday, is it too much to ask to get one victory behind a backup quarterback against a reasonably hapless division foe who doesn't really have a quarterback either?
Nathaniel: Packers. The bad for Scott Tolzien: he threw three interceptions last week. The good? He threw for over three hundred yards against a good defense and gets rewarded this week with a matchup against the Vikings’ swiss-cheese defense.

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5)
Lucas: Chiefs. Pressure is off of you now, Andy. Also, the Chargers aren't quite in the same league as Denver is.
Nathaniel: Chargers. Bad matchup for Kansas City’s defense: the Chargers not only pass the ball well but they also run very effectively too, which is bad news for the Chiefs’ subpar run defense. A must-win for Kansas City, given that Denver’s coming up on the schedule again in a week.

Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins (+4.5)
Lucas: Panthers. What's going to be in worse shape in a few months: the Miami Dolphins, or Dwyane Wade's new sitcom? That thing is going to be a bigger flop than Dwyane Wade himself. Then again...
Nathaniel: Panthers. I’ll have much more faith in this pick if the officials allow Luke Kuechly to molest tight ends over the middle again like they did Monday night. 

New York Jets @ Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Lucas: Jets. I'm only going based on the pattern the Jets have set up in alternating wins and losses. I look forward to your blowout victory now, Baltimore.
Nathaniel: Ravens. The Jets apparently are only allowed to win their odd-numbered games this season, which means they’ll be 5-7 heading into Week 14. 

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans (-10.5)
Lucas: Jaguars. I don't get it. Why go back to Matt Schaub? Why is Houston getting double digits against anyone, even Jacksonville? Why is this stress Buddha sitting on top of my monitor at work, and why is he wearing a water bottle cap as a hat? These are the questions in life that matter.
Nathaniel: Jaguars. Look, no one’s staunchly stood behind the Texans for no reason longer than I have this year and even I think this line is ridiculous. How does a team that’s lost eight games in a row get favored by 10.5 points over anybody? 

Sunday, Late Afternoon
Tennessee Titans @ Oakland Raiders (-1.5)
Lucas: Titans. I originally went with Oakland, then thought about it a little more. Chris Johnson is starting to have a bit of a resurgence and I think I trust Tennessee more here than I trust Oakland.
Nathaniel: Titans. Mostly because Matt McGloin’s name is too close to a cross between “groin” and “loins.” 

Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)
Lucas: Colts. I still think Arizona could pull off a win here at home, but I'm not counting out Indy's propensity to turn their opponents into Mt. Carmel High School against Greenville, only less extreme and I wouldn't end up in this week's edition of Tuesday Morning Quarterback because of it.
Nathaniel: Cardinals. Starting to look more and more like the Week 17 matchup between San Francisco and Arizona may determine the final wild-card slot in the NFC. 

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants (-2.5)
Lucas: Cowboys. *checks to make sure it's still November* Yeah, Cowboys. Regardless of the fact that the Giants have won four straight, Eli is still a turnover machine, and even as bad as the Cowboys defense is, Romo has enough firepower to win this one. It's not December yet.
Nathaniel: Giants. The schedule starts to turn against the Giants in a couple weeks, so coming all the way back from 0-6 to winning the NFC East still remains a longshot, but they should keep the possibility in play with a win over a listless Cowboys team. 

Sunday Night
Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots (+2.5)
Lucas: Broncos. I belatedly read Simmons' pick column and even though we picked the same result for Chiefs-Broncos, I completely forgot and he ignored what should really be Rule No. 1 for picking games against the spread: "Don't bet against Peyton Manning at night." Especially if we're talking about Evil Manning. I'm not making that same mistake two weeks in a row.
Nathaniel: Patriots. The last two games, Tom Brady has playing back at his 2007-12 level and the Broncos still feel a touch overrated to me. At any rate, let’s make sure to enjoy this latest Manning-Brady faceoff – who knows how many more of these we’re going to get? 

Monday Night
San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins (+5.5)
Lucas: 49ers. Kaepernick certainly doesn't look like the guy that took the NFL by storm last year, though he may show a glimmer of it this week against a bad Washington defense.
Nathaniel: Redskins. San Francisco’s starting to get a whiff of the Super Bowl Loser’s Curse vibe – a strong enough whiff to make me think they’ll blow a must-win game against a 3-7 team.
Records So Far
Lucas: 84-79 (7-8 last week)
Nathaniel: 78-85 (5-10 last week)

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