Here we are again this year, back for more NFL picks. It is with great pleasure that I take the reins from Jeff Pasquino after writing a guest edition last year. As someone who has won and lost their fair share of money on the NFL (and many other sports), this is bound to be a fun and unpredictable ride. Join me, won’t you?
As with the format in previous years, this article will help those of you who compete in confidence pools and in ranking selections, which may come in handy on those Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as totals or over/unders) with 1-3 “Stars”, which basically highlight the best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted for those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools.
It proved to be a strong week for the picks last week, a 10-3 record lifting my own spirits as well as those among you who followed my advice. Week 11 has thrown up a few lines that surprised, but overall this appears to be a slate that brims with opportunity and potential profits. Teasers, in particular, should be entertained this week, with many heavy home favorites, as well as some road favorites – Kansas City comes to mind – that are worth a punt.
The bye teams this week are the Packers, Giants, Seahawks, and Titans.
Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com
(Thursday) PITTSBURGH at CLEVELAND (-3) (Over/Under 40.5)
Make no bones about it: The Browns salvaged their season with that heart-pounding victory over the Bills. While it would be premature to say the men by Lake Erie have rediscovered their mojo, it is certainly not too much to say they have a chance – a glimmer, yes, but a chance to make the postseason. It starts this week with an elimination game of sorts against division rivals Pittsburgh. With the entire football world watching, will Cleveland be able to rally and get back to 4-6? It will be tough work against a Pittsburgh defense that is singlehandedly winning games.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is a big reason why. The player many panned the Steelers for giving up a first-round pick to acquire is a turnover-forcing machine. His instincts are elite, and he has the ball skills to back them up. Baker Mayfield will have to take good care of the ball in what Vegas is predicting to be a low-scoring affair. Exploiting Mason Rudolph’s deficiencies is the easiest path to victory for the Browns. And yet, it would be unwise to let last week’s heroics cloud things too much. The Steelers are still the better team and know what needs to be done on prime time.
ATLANTA at CAROLINA (-6) (Over/Under 50.5)
Not one person predicted the Falcons storming the Superdome last week and so convincingly extracting the life out of that vibrant stadium. Not one. Such is life in the NFL; you think you know, only to be walloped over the head with the many things you don’t know and never will. Teams can find it difficult to get up for the game after their ‘circle the wagons’ win, so it will be fascinating to see how Atlanta responds. With Matt Ryan, this team always has a chance and should fancy their chances to establish the run against a Carolina defense that was sieve-like in their run-stopping last week. These NFC South tilts tend to be wild affairs; this one should be no different.