Welcome to the last pre-Thanksgiving weekend of the year, which means two things. First, it's too late to have done your Christmas shopping early, so be ready to wait in line with me for hours finishing things up on Christmas Eve, and fighting to the death in a packed toy store for the last whatever-gadget-remains-on-the-shelf.
Also, and more importantly, things in the NFL get really important from this point forward.
My least favorite seven words in existence would have to be "Reid, the consultant wants to see you." Coming in a close second, though, is the old standard line of discussion, "If the season were to end today…"
I hate that one. Hate it hate it hate it. Normally when you hear it, someone is taking a very narrow sample slice to try and prove some outrageous line of thinking, such as the Titans making the playoffs or the Browns having a Pro Bowl player.
After this week, we don't have to make those considerations any longer. The bye weeks are over, and it's a six-week sprint to the finish. There's no time to consider the long-term possibilities of short-term results.
Like the great Al Davis said, just win, baby. Win, hit the other team's quarterback, and then move to Los Angeles.
In week eleven, we also enter the perilous realm of backup quarterbacks. Hello, Case Keenum, Mark Sanchez, T.J. Yates, Blaine Gabbert, and Matt Hasselbeck.
The Texans will start their third quarterback of the season this week, in a game Ryan Mallett is sure to oversleep and not watch. The Steelers have already burned through a starter and two backups this year, the Bills have started three, and the Browns are finally at the "Yeah, whatever, man" point of the season where they'll let Johnny Manziel play.
Picking the Broncos-Bears game is hard enough with Peyton Manning facing his former coach, John Fox, especially because Fox knows that Denver defense like the back of his hand. Taking Manning out and putting in a human question mark like Brock Osweiler throws the whole situation into flux.
By the way, my crack research staff has assured me that this "Brock Osweiler" is actually a person. When I tried to Google "Brock Osweiler," it asked "Did you mean ‘bronchitis?'"
Even with players like Roethlisberger and Romo back, looking at the sad state of quarterbacking in the league this week just reaffirms my belief that an eighteen-game season is a bad idea. If you want eighteen games, get ready for a world where Monday Night Football pits a twenty-two year-old sixth-string backup getting his first start against a guy who was drafted during the Clinton Administration and is throwing his first pass since "Friends" was on the air.
On to the picks.
I took Tennessee by three Thursday's night's game. Why? Because I am entirely composed of stupid. I have no excuse here. I said in this column a week ago that I expected Jacksonville to win that division, but for some reason, I felt like the Titans would pull this one off, or at least get within three. For those of you who didn't watch this game, which was all of you, I'll recap the last three minutes. Titans lead by four. Jacksonville runs a punt back to the five, then scores to lead by three. I've got the Titans (+3), so I'm still safe. On the very next play, Tennessee fumbles, causing me to throw a full Shirley Temple at the hotel bar television screen.
Jags kick a field goal, Titans just sit there and lose by six, and I drop a Thursday night game I shouldn't have bothered to watch anyway. Sometimes when you're betting, you outthink yourself. This was one of those times.
So I start week eleven at 0-1, for a total of 39-23-2 on the year. That's still not bad, but blowing the first game gives me an awful taste in my mouth. Let's see if we can straighten this up.
Here are my picks for week eleven. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.
Washington (+7.5) at Carolina – You know you're having an MVP season when enough people have seen your touchdown celebration to start complaining about it.
Oakland (NL) at Detroit – It would be easy to give up hope in Detroit right now. Also, the Lions are not very good.
Dallas (-1.5) at Miami – The good news? Tony Romo is back! The bad news? Romo still does not play defense or catch passes.
Green Bay (NL) at Minnesota – This is a hard one to pick, the Vikings look good but have played the softest schedule this side of Baylor. Meanwhile the Packers are in a stretch best described as "Cowboys-esque."
NY Jets (-3.5) at Houston – Ryan Fitzpatrick always plays well against his former teams, which is good, since he has about sixteen of them.
Denver (-1) at Chicago – In Peyton Manning's new Papa John's commercial, he encourages us to "eat like the pros." I don't think he means "while limping around the kitchen, watching the game on television."
I'll also take the Cardinals to beat the Bengals, Eagles over the Bucs, and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" as the best holiday song, secular division.
- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid's novel "The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape" is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.