This week was another rough week in the confidence pool picks. While I did advance in the suicide picks, I lost some big point total games. The worst loss was the 12 points that I put on Baltimore. Just as I thought that team had turned the corner, they suffered a bad loss in Buffalo. The Bengals also offered a disappointing effort in Cleveland, scoring only six points in an 11 point loss. That cost me 10 more confidence points. The great thing about the NFL is that there are so few certainties that every week you are risking big point losses on teams that are favorites.
Each game I assign a number 1-16, although this week it will be only 14 due to the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskin having a bye. The game I assign a 14 is the game that I would pick if I were in a suicide league. The game I assign a one is the game that I am least confident in that week. The next week I will give you the score that I compiled in the confidence picks. I will also keep a running tally of my record in both the suicide pick and all of the games combined. I also will not pick the same team twice in a suicide league.
My record last week was 9-6 and I am now 44-19 on the season. I scored 73 points in the confidence pool. I am 4-0 in suicide picks. My picks so far in the suicide pool are Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Seattle and Denver.
I do not pick games against the spread or project over and under totals. Our site is not a gambling site and we do not pretend to be a gambling site. I have had people who need to pick scores of games for their confidence picks, which I am happy to do. If the confidence numbers or picks do not help you enough, leave your questions in the comment section and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
Top 5 Games
1) New Orleans Saints (4-0) at Chicago Bears (3-1) - The Saints look really good this year. They have the best quarterback in the league not named Peyton Manning (Drew Brees), the best tight end in the league in Jimmy Graham and the best third down back in the NFL (Darren Sproles). They create mismatches better than just about any team in the NFL and they have great balance on offense with head coach Sean Payton back from a one-year suspension. However, playing on the road has never been their strength; they are much better playing at home in the Super Dome.
I think this is going to be a very competitive game; I would not be surprised if either team was able to pull off the win. The key is if Bears QB Jay Cutler is going to take what the Saints defense gives him or if he is going to force the ball when the Saints apply pressure. If good Jay shows up, I like the Bears to win a tight game. If he throws picks to Bob Ryan’s defense, I like the Saints to pull off the road victory. Look for good Jay to show up and the Bears to win a close one. Winner: Chicago (5)
2) New England Patriots (4-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) – This is one of the more interesting matchups of the weekend. The Patriots have been finding ways to win close games and the Bengals have been finding ways to stall on offense. A big setback for the Patriots is going to be the loss of DT Vince Wilfork. He was the anchor of their run defense and helped them create pressure up the middle. Without him it is going to be easier to run the ball and the pressure up the middle will not be as intense. That is a big boost for the Bengals.
However, the Bengals have their own issues. QB Andy Dalton is looking more like a liability than the quarterback that is going to take the Bengals to the Super Bowl. They have weapons all over the field and scored six points against an undermanned Cleveland team. If I am a Bengals fan I am hoping that last week was the result of the Browns being a trap game between the Green Bay Packers and the Patriots. If they lose this game and look lost on offense again, the pressure is going to intensify toward Dalton. I like the Bengals to win a close game at home, but I am concerned. Winner: Cincinnati (4)
3) Green Bay Packers (1-2) at Detroit Lions (3-1) – This has been one of the most one-side rivalries in the league when it comes to the Lions traveling to Green Bay. The last time the Packers lost a home game to the Detroit Lions was December 15, 1991. The Lions were 12-4 and would qualify for the NFC Championship Game that year. The Packers were 4-12 and an off-season away from acquiring future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre. He would debut in 1992 and the Lions have not won in Green Bay since.
Since the Matt Millen era began in 2001, this is probably the best chance the Lions have had to snap this streak. There was 2005, when the Packers were 4-12, but the Lions were 5-11 that season. There was 2008 when the Packers were 6-10, but that was the year the Lions did not win a game. There was also 2011, when the Lions finished 10-6 and made the playoffs, but the Packers were 15-1 that season. I like the Packers offense to do well against the Lions defense and the Packers are at home coming off a bye week, but the Lions offense is explosive and will give the Packers fits. This is the least confident I have been about the Packers beating the Lions in Green Bay in over a decade. Winner: Green Bay (6)
4) Seattle Seahawks (4-0) at Indianapolis Colts (3-1) – This is an interesting battle between two Wild Card teams from the 2012 season that are looking to become division winners this season. The Seahawks are trying to change the perception that they come up small on the road and the Colts are trying to change the perception that they are all about the pass. They would prefer to lean on the power running game, have it set up their passing game and play tough defense.
I am nervous about picking the Seahawks given that they have won their two road games by a combined eight points and are coming off a tough overtime win against Houston. Solid defense, good running games and turnover free football travel well and I think the Hawks are a much more physical team than the Colts. I look for the Hawks to overpower the Colts and win a smash mouth game in Indy. Winner: Seattle (7)
5) Houston Texans (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2) – Houston looks like a disaster to me. Most teams either win close games or lose them; blowouts in the NFL are the exception, not the rule. However, this is a team that does not play even football. They almost lost in San Diego, had it not been for a blown 24-point lead by the Chargers. They won in overtime against the Tennessee Titans at home, were blown out in Baltimore and gave away a 17-point lead at home to Seattle. They have been shutout in the second half the last two weeks.
San Francisco has not been great either. QB Colin Kaepernick has been up and down, due to being in his first full season as a starter and due to injuries to key skill position players, mainly WR Michael Crabtree. The defense has not been as dominant as years past and their best pass rusher (LB Aldon Smith) will not be playing due to rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. Yet, I am still very down on the Texans and do not see them traveling to San Francisco to win this game. I like a low scoring win for the 49ers. Winner: San Francisco (10)
6) Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2) – This would be a sneaky suicide pick, but I hate using suicide picks on Thursday Night football and the Browns are still an unknown to me, although they are definitely an improved outfit since QB Brian Hoyer was inserted as the starter. I like the Browns at home, as the Buffalo Bills have a banged up backfield, but I would not put monster points on that game. Winner: Cleveland (8)
7) Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) at Tennessee Titans (3-1) – This is a much better game in October than it looked in August, as these two struggling teams from last year have started the season well. The Chiefs defense is playing out of its mind right now, but the Tennessee Titans are valuing the ball and playing good defense as well. This game is basically a pick’em; I will take the Titans to win at home. Winner: Tennessee (1)
8) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) at St. Louis Rams (1-3) – There are a ton of sneaky options for suicide picks this week. This is the sneakiest one. Despite having won only one game and having lost their last two games by a combined 66-18, the Rams are opening as a double-digit favorite. The Jaguars are going to win no more than two games and their -24.5 point differential is on pace to be worse than the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their team is all-time bad, but they are getting WR Justin Blackmon back this week, which could help the offense. I am staying clear of this game, I think the Rams win, but the Rams have been a mess too and this game makes me nervous. Winner: St Louis (11)
9) Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-1) – The Ravens are 2-0 at home, but those wins are against a sloppy Texans team and a Browns team that was playing with QB Brandon Weeden. They have lost their two road games. One was an acceptable loss at Denver the other was an embarrassing loss in Buffalo. I thought the Dolphins would shrink on the big stage; they need to play a few games in the spotlight before they thrive in that situation. I like the Dolphins to rebound this week and earn the victory at home. Winner: Miami (9)
10) Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) at New York Giants (0-4) – This is like picking if you hate watching paint dry more or less than you hate watching grass grow. There are no good choices. The Giants allow the most points in the NFL, but the Eagles allow the second most points in the NFL. The Eagles are actually scoring points, ranking second in yards gained and 12th in points scored. The Giants are equally bad on offense as they are on defense. I am going to take the Eagles, because both defenses are horrible and at least the Eagles skill position players are playing well. I do not have much confidence in the pick though, because the Eagles D could just as easily take them out of the game. Winner: Philadelphia (2)
11) Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (2-2) – I tend to like picking teams coming off of their bye week if all things are equal and these teams are evenly matched. However, in long road games, I tend to go with the home team. I will take the Panthers and QB Cam Newton to win, because the long trip should be negated by the bye week. I am not in love with the pick though. Winner: Carolina (3)
12) Denver Broncos (4-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2) – This is a matchup between division leaders, but the Cowboys lead the worst division in the NFL and the Broncos look like the best offense in the history of the NFL. The Broncos have the skill position players to compete, but QB Tony Romo is too turnover prone when playing from behind and the defense is not going to hold the Broncos under 30 points. I like QB Peyton Manning to have another monster game and the Broncos to roll. Winner: Denver (12)
13) San Diego Chargers (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-3) – This is a decent suicide pick, except that the game starts at 11:35 pm ET, due to a conflict with the Oakland As. Even though that is only 8:35 California time; it is a very late game. I am not a big fan of putting suicide points on teams that are playing a game that is outside of their normal routine, I will put big points on the Chargers, but save them for when they play Jacksonville in Week 7. I cannot see the Chargers losing at Jacksonville and that will give me enough time to determine if Blackmon is going to have any positive impact on that team. Winner: San Diego (13)
14) New York Jets (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-3) – This is the game I settled on for my suicide pick. The Jets commit a ton of penalties and turn the ball over excessively; that never travels well. Second, Atlanta is not playing well enough that I would pick them to win a division game nor is there a remaining NFC opponent I would feel comfortable picking them to beat. It comes down to this game or picking them to win a Week 13 game at the beginning of December in Buffalo. I am not into picking the Falcons on the road in a potential snow game and the Falcons have too much talent for me to avoid them in a suicide pool all season.
There are a couple other good stats that make this a good pick. QB Matt Ryan is 34-6 in his career at home as a starter and has never lost back-to-back home games. One of those losses was a home game to Denver his rookie season, one was a meaningless Week 17 game last year, two were to the New Orleans Saints, one was to the New England Patriots last week and the other was to the Green Bay Packers in 2011. What that tells me is if you do not have a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback coming to Atlanta, the Falcons do not lose there. The game might be closer than you hope, but take the Falcons. Rookie QB Geno Smith is not good enough to win there, the Jets commit too many penalties and turn the ball over too many times to win in Atlanta. Winner: Atlanta (14)
Byes: Minnesota Vikings (1-3), Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) and Washington Redskins (1-3)