This is my favorite time of the year. The holiday season is about to get started, and the high school football playoffs are upon us. Also, the McRib is back. Although to be honest, one of those means more to me, in a tangy, delicious way.
This is also the time of year when we start to really figure out what’s going on in the NFL. The first two months are fun, but the middle of the season is when things start to either fall into place, or fall apart completely. Last week we saw that with one of the weirdest weeks of football yet, as almost every probable-playoff team got clobbered like they were the Browns of the 2010’s. Thank goodness for the Lions and Texans, islands of consistency in a maelstrom of unpredictability.
Halfway through the season, we’re starting to figure out what’s truly good and bad in the NFL.
— The Bills and Cowboys. Those losses last week are anomalies, just reminders that anything can happen on any given Sunday. They’re not the expected results, nor are they the way to bet.
— The Tennessee Titans. I hate them, but man, they’re effective. I look at a boring team that runs the ball and plays defense, and think I’m seeing the new Patriots.
— OBJ. Beckham not only figured out a way out of his contract into midseason free agency, but somehow got teams heavily interested in recruiting a wide receiver who TO-ed his way out of two franchises, and hasn’t had a 100-yard game since that awful movie with two Will Smiths was in theatres.
— The NFL. Every time we get a scandal for the league (Gruden! WFT emails! Aaron Rodgers! Atrocious ref calls!) something else horrible pops up and drives it out of the public’s mind, somehow.
— Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers coach has a Super Bowl appearance on his resume. Subtract that year and he’s averaging 10+ losses a season, and he just got whacked by a team with Colt McCoy at quarterback.
— Your fantasy football team, if you drafted Derrick Henry with a high pick. Sorry for your loss.
— The Panthers. Will Cam Newton improve the team? They have one passing touchdown in the last month. Even if Cam starts punting on third down, he’s not going to make them worse.
— That movie with two Will Smiths in it. I know, it was two years ago but man, I still want my money back for that one.
Now on to the picks. In week nine I went 2-4 overall and 3-3 against the Vegas spread. In my defense, I picked the Texans and Packers losses exactly right, which reinforces my reputation at being very good at predicting unwatchable football games. I’m now 31-23 on the season and 24-29-1 against Vegas, which means I’m starting to get invitations from casino owners to come stay at their houses for the holidays, as long as I bring my checkbook. As always, these are for the purposes of comedic discussion only. No wagering.
Atlanta (plus 8.5) at Dallas: Losing to Denver in the middle of an otherwise great season is the football equivalent of that album where Garth Brooks pretended to be Chris Gaines. It made no sense, and we’re all just going to pretend it never happened.
Pick: Cowboys to win but not cover, winning by eight or fewer points.
New Orleans (plus 3) at Tennessee: My usual thought process, “The Saints are playing a backup quarterback? I’ll still pick them.” My thought process this week? “The Saints don’t have Alvin Kamara? What else is on?”
Pick: Titans to win and cover, winning by four or more.
LA Rams (minus 4) at San Francisco: LA signing Odell Beckham Jr. really fills a need for them, because up until now they didn’t have a “locker room distraction.”
Pick: Rams to win and cover, winning by five or more.
Cleveland (plus 2.5) at New England: The last week’s events reveal three possibilities, a) Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t as good as he was, b) Baker Mayfield isn’t as good as some think he is, or c) All of the above.
Pick: Patriots to win and cover, winning by three or more.
Seattle (plus 3.5) at Green Bay: Considering the possibilities for quarterback for both teams, we could be a half hour away from kickoff and still not know whether this one will have the feel of “Game of the Year” or “Last preseason game.”
Pick: Seahawks to win it outright.
Kansas City (minus 2.5) at Las Vegas: Considering what’s happened to the team since they moved there, maybe Las Vegas isn’t the best place for professional athletes. Or young millionaires. Or anyone, really.
Pick: Chiefs to win and cover, winning by three or more.
I’ll also take the Bills over the Jets, Colts over Jags, and the Texans to lose, even though they’re on their bye week. Good luck everybody.
Reid Kerr thinks its OK to start playing Christmas music, because there’s no Thanksgiving music to get in the way. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.