The 2009 NFL Picks
Week six


*** This article was updated on Saturday, October 17, 2009. Dad wanted to change his pick for the Tennessee - New England game, and Mike sent his picks over for the week. ***

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I told you last week was going to suck. I did. I told you.

And if you watched the Cleveland – Buffalo game, you know it sucked. (Although… to be fair, no one could possibly have been watching it. No one. And I actually picked Cleveland in that game, as did Gus.)

But let’s return some focus to the lessons we learned… or may have learned. Think about this…

Four teams were favored by 10 or more points… all of them won the game, and only Pittsburgh couldn’t covert covering the spread (against Detroit).

In seven games with lower spreads… 6-point spread or less, with no line for Jacksonville – Seattle so I’m not counting that one… the underdogs went 5-2, with Washington as the only gambling winner that lost the game. That means 4 of 7 underdogs won the games outright.

And why should you care? Well… get this…

Over the first five weeks of the season, there have been 20 games with a spread of 8-points or more. Favorites have won 70% of those games. Heck… at home these clubs are 11-3! Think about that for a moment… teams this season that have been favored by 8 or more points are .500 on the road (3-3), but put them at home and they are winning at an astounding .785 rate (11-3). In fact, let me separate that thought…

At home this season, teams favored by 8 or more points are both winning and covering the spread almost 80% of the time.

How does that match up overall? Well… favorites overall are 39-36-1 this season. And… simple math people… if the huge favorite are +8 on the season, and overall favorites are +3 on the season… yeah, then in any game with a spread of less than 8-points the record favors the underdogs. (39-36-1 overall… 25-30-1 record for favorites when spread less than 8-points)

In other words… there are times when it helps to forget the stinking spread. That’s why it is so heavily involved in my first impressions when looking things over. And there are times when some obvious things should be considered… a huge, big, heavy favorite playing at home. But otherwise, best wishes. Homework time. (And if you don’t believe me, then show me the person that correctly picked Cleveland – Buffalo and New England – Denver last week, while expecting Kansas City and Detroit to cover. Heck, even Gus split on those first two games, and he picked Cleveland.)

I am very inclined to take every favorite over 10 points this week, and every underdog below that. Especially since picking against Oakland is involved. We’ll see. I doubt it. Especially since I don’t think Green Bay is going to walk over Detroit. But it is definitely worth considering. And why is it worth considering and not just doing? Well...

This week another amazing trend hits us… the home favorite. In weeks one and two we had some overwhelming love for the home team… with four road teams being favored in the sixteen games. This week though… stunning… only two road teams are favorites.


Good luck folks. Enjoy.

The quote of the week… Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (Oh yeah… pulling out the major classics here.)

(Mike’s picks weren’t here in time for the posting. Once I get them, I’ll update accordingly.)

Kansas City at Washington (6½)“You just keep thinkin’ Butch. That’s what you’re good at.” I’m beginning to think no one with a hand in setting gambling spreads is watching Washington play. I mean, sure, they covered last week… in a loss on the road against Carolina. And, they choked in that game. Had a two-score lead. Choked. On the other side of the field this week will be a team that isn’t winning games, but hey… the Chiefs have been scoring some points and making it interesting. So… yeah… of course… let’s favor the Redskins by a touchdown or so. Sorry… not a chance. I don’t see it. (By the way… amazing side stat. Are you ready? Ok… Washington has yet to face a team with a victory this season. Ok, sure, some teams have beaten them and left with a victory. And, the Giants were 0-0 in week one. Got it. But New York… St. Louis… Detroit… Tampa Bay… Carolina. Not one of them had a victory in 2009 when the team took the field to face Washington. And as of today, even including those that defeated the Redskins, only the Giants have victories over another team. St. Louis and Tampa still haven’t won. Detroit and Carolina haven’t beaten anyone else. Heck, the Panthers were losing by 15 at one point before rallying for their victory. And yet this… this is the team favored by 6½? Washington has scored 73 points this year. Kansas City? 84. I’m not saying it can’t happen. Kansas City has been bad after bad after bad recently at a level that is historic, somewhat hidden by such facts and incidentals as they haven’t lost every game in a season the way Detroit did. It just makes no sense to say Washington thumping them will happen. Not when the Redskins have a losing record and scoring problems against these losing teams.)
Bob: Kansas City
Terry: Washington
Dad: Washington

Mike: Kansas City
Molly: KansasCity

Houston at Cincinnati (4½)“I couldn’t do that. Could you do that? Why can they do it? Who are those guys?” How are the Bengals doing so well this year? What’s the difference? Take back just a few seconds from week one and this team is dominating the AFC… not just their division. Basically it’s happening because someone showed Cedric Benson how to run the football. (If he had done this in Chicago, he wouldn’t be in Cincinnati). Obviously that’s not the only thing… the defense has been playing well, and the rest of the offense is fairly balanced. It’s not one thing… it’s every-thing… and the question is simply whether or not it can continue. Houston arrives with a 2-3 record and not much to go on. They’ve split on the road… beating Tennessee (which seemed impressive at the time, but it turns out is something everyone is doing) and losing to Arizona (which, you know, is kind of a vanilla thing to do). About the only thing we do know is that after a simply horrific week one outing, they’ve scored at least 24 points in every game. This is a very interesting game for the Texans because after this they get San Francisco at home before traveling to Buffalo and Indianapolis. In other words, a win here and they could be sitting around .500 at their bye week… a loss and the season could unravel into what-might-have-been. (What-might-have-been referring to maybe 8 or 9 wins. Not the playoffs.) The Bengals have won three games in a row… and each victory by 3 points. Amazingly, at home they stand at 1-1 on the year. I mean… you have to favor the Bengals… but geez there’s just so little to use in supporting it. Not running away in victories… nothing dominant at home. So I’ll take Houston based on three factors… (1) The theme of the week, underdogs within 8 have a winning record on the year. (2) I would expect Cincinnati to win, and Houston wins games when you – or perhaps should I say at least when I – don’t expect them to have a shot. (3) I can’t say Houston has been brilliant on defense… as a team giving up an average of 24 points per game to the opposition… but I honestly think they could slow down the passing attack of Cincy and focus on Benson. Remember… look things over… other than against Green Bay, the Cincinnati offense isn’t putting the ball into the end zone with great efficiency. And even when you’re scoring, eventually if you’re putting 3 on the board instead of 7 multiple times every game, it catches up with you.
Bob: Houston
Terry: Houston
Dad: Cincinnati
Mike: Cincinnati
Gus: Houston

Cleveland at Pittsburgh (14)“Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.” There are a few games I could have placed this quote with, but this one seems right. Cleveland was good to me last week… winning a miserable game against Buffalo. And I’m always good for pointing out that Pittsburgh in recent years crushes the opposition at home. I’ll credit that to vision. Now… the Steelers haven’t been helping me much this season. Games have been closer than I’d like. But I told you how those big favorites do at home… and I think Pittsburgh is going to have a huge game this week.
Bob: Pittsburgh
Terry: Cleveland
Dad: Pittsburgh
Mike: Pittsburgh
Molly: Pittsburgh

Baltimore at Minnesota (2½)“Is that what you call giving cover?” “Is that what you call running?” This game scares me a bit. Baltimore has lost two in a row, and should be poised for take-out-our-frustration efforts. And on the Minnesota side of the equation, they are: (1) undefeated, (2) coming off an emotional victory over Green Bay and an efficient dismantling of St. Louis, and, (3) have travel plans for Pittsburgh and Green Bay lined up for the weeks that follow (so they could be distracted). That said… Baltimore had trouble stopping Cincinnati from running last week. I expect that to be even more difficult for them this week. And, Favre is still having fun, looking sort of fresh and rested, and not being tested much. Spread is too small to think about anything except a winner… and that should be the Vikings.
Bob: Minnesota
Terry: Baltimore
Dad: Minnesota
Mike: Minnesota
Gus: Minnesota

St. Louis at Jacksonville (10)“How many are following us?” “All of ‘em.” “All of ‘em. What’s the matter with those guys?” How can you bet on a team that isn’t scoring 7-points a game? How? You can’t. And that’s why so many people will be following the Jaguars this week. The Rams are bad at a level that simply can’t be described. There’s a real chance they could stay at home this year, forfeit the road games, and not only would the 0-8 record be pretty much what they’ll have anyway, but they might only score like 17 fewer total points on the year than they will by showing up. (Seriously, they should consider it, save the planet and not travel at all.)
Bob: Jacksonville
Terry: Jacksonville
Dad: St. Louis
Mike: Jacksonville
Molly: St. Louis

Carolina (3½) at Tampa Bay“Well, looks like you just about cleaned everybody out, fella. You haven’t lost a hand since you got to deal. What’s the secret of your success?” “Prayer.” Ok… follow me on this one. Last week the 0-3 Carolina Panthers went to halftime trailing 10-2. After a touchdown put them down 17-2, the fun began. The Carolina offense scored a touchdown and a field goal to bring them within 17-12. And that’s when the Redskins botched a punt, the Panthers put it in the end zone, and the game ultimately ends 20-17. Long story short… 11 points in the fourth quarter to win the game… and the output of 20 points tied their high score for the season. The Panthers are not what you would consider as a tremendous threat to run away with this one. Tampa’s season is even harder to gauge though. They’ve changed quarterbacks, so who knows what the offense can do. Against the Redskins, they gave up all 16 of Washington’s points in the third quarter and shut them down in the other three, and giving up multiple scores in the same quarter to the opposition seems to be a habit for them. (Would you believe Carolina has scored 11 points less than Tampa on the year? Sure you would, because they’ve played one less game. But Carolina is only putting 14+ on the board per game while Tampa is hitting 13+… it’s not like there’s some major difference here.) End result… both of these teams stink… both of these teams are inconsistent… and both of these teams are longshots to run away for a lopsided victory. This might be Tampa’s best shot at a victory for the entire season.
Bob: Tampa Bay
Terry: Tampa Bay
Dad: Carolina
Mike: Carolina
Gus: Carolina

New York (Giants) at New Orleans (3)“I didn’t know you were the Sundance Kid when I said you were cheating. If I draw on you, you’ll kill me.” “There’s that possibility.” Very interesting game, but I’m going to take the Saints. And really, the only reason is because the Giants are a bit banged up and hitting the road, while the Saints are rested coming off their bye week. I could try making a case that the Saints really haven’t been challenged yet this season because they have improved their defense. I could also point out that with the Eagles and the Jets as opponents so far, the Saints have beaten the two best clubs of all the opponent these two teams have faced to date. (Or… do you want to argue that the Giants knocking off the Cowboys was harder than one of those two games? Didn’t think you would.) In four games the Saints have won each by 14 or more. Two opponents were held to 10 points or less, and when the other two cracked 20-points, the Saints were over 40 and comfortable. For New York, they also come in to this game sort of never challenged (Dallas was close)… but they’ve never played a decent team either. Oh… don’t get me wrong… the Giants are good. But when you’re tossing aside Tampa, Kansas City and Oakland in weeks 3, 4 and 5… exactly how good can you say you are? Big test for both teams… and this could eventually be a game that separates the top two seeds in the playoffs. From what I’ve seen so far, I have to take New Orleans.
Bob: New Orleans
Terry: New York
Dad: New Orleans
Mike: New Orleans
Molly: New Orleans

Detroit at Green Bay (13½)“You can’t want to get blown up again.” “Butch, you know that if it were my money, there is nobody that I would rather have steal it than you. But, you see, I am still in the employment of E. H. Harriman of Union Pacific Railroad.” In a way, this game makes me quite nervous. Because everyone seems to want Green Bay to be good… and yet every challenge placed before Green Bay this year has been an opportunity for them to underachieve. They’re 2-2 on the year, and St. Louis scored an amazing 17 points against them. (Get this… in that game, the Packers scored 3 times in the opening quarter, including on two turnovers. But each time had to settle for a field goal. I mean… they really should have put St. Louis away in under 15-minutes, but led only 9-0 heading into the second quarter.) So we have losses to Minnesota and Cincinnati for them, and two unimpressive wins if we’re being honest. Detroit has played fairly well this year. But… and this is a big but… they have not played well away from home. They lost to the Saints by 18 and the Bears by 24. On the road so far they’ve been outscored 93 to 51. Yes… it’s been at home where they’ve played their best. Pros and cons on both sides of the equation. So I think realistically, the only way to decide this is to ask two questions. (1) Is the Green Bay offense good enough to outscore Detroit by 14 points? (The Green Bay offense… well… no. Not as a solid pick for it that you should bet on. They’re averaging 26 points a game… which is third in their division… hardly the stuff of impressive dominance. We cannot say they are good enough to outscore Detroit by 14. And so…) (2) Is the Green Bay defense good enough to shut down the Detroit offense? (They’re giving up 23 points per game, opponents have hit 30 points twice against them while they’ve only reached that number once… and we could go on, but you get the point. We cannot say their defense is good enough.)
Bob: Detroit
Terry: Green Bay
Dad: Green Bay
Mike: Detroit
Gus: Green Bay

Philadelphia (14) at Oakland“Do you believe I’m broke already?” “Why is there never any money, Butch?” “Well, I swear, Etta, I don’t know. I’ve been working like a dog all my life and I can’t get a penny ahead.” “Sundance says it’s because you’re a soft touch, and always taking expensive vacations, and buying drinks for everyone, and you’re a rotten gambler.” “Well that might have something to do with it.” The theme of this week has been that big favorites win big, especially at home. So, of course, we get to follow up my pick of a big road underdog (Detroit) with a game where we have a big road favorite over what may be the most hideous team in the league. Great. In the past three games, the Raiders have been outscored by 80 points. In the last four games their top scoring output was 10 points… and that was in the first of these last four games. They’re coaching staff is a mess, and currently the head coach is under an increasingly significant police investigation. Their offense can’t run or pass. (I’m not kidding. They are so bad passing that defenses are concentrating on shutting down the run and not even bothering with the passing game. The Raiders are even worse than a couple of years ago, when Houston’s offensive coordinator seemed to game plan every possession the same way: (1) Run three plays. (2) Punt. (3) If you get the ball back, repeat. If Oakland had any special teams talent worthy of the thought, I’d suggest punting on first down and hoping for a return of an interception as their best offensive plan.) Their defense… well… does it really matter?
Bob: Philadelphia
Terry: Philadelphia
Dad: Philadelphia
Mike: Philadelphia
Molly: Oakland

Arizona at Seattle (2½)“It’s your great ideas that got us into this mess. I never want to hear another one of your great ideas. Ever!” “Australia. I thought that secretly you wanted to know so I told you.” Hmm… this could be an interesting game. Both teams have two wins on the year… with Arizona up by a half-game in the standings thanks to a bye week. Offensively and defensively they’re similar (with Seattle slightly better so far offensively and Arizona a bit better on defense). Seattle has been better at home… 2-1 there overall, with solid victories over St. Louis and Jacksonville. Arizona has only played one road game… and they easily controlled Jacksonville in that contest. Both teams lost to San Francisco. Both teams lost to Indianapolis. I mean seriously… this is close. The Seahawks have shut out two teams at home though… and I feel more confident in their ability to win this game. (Oh yeah… did I mention quarterback? See… the thing that throws everything I noted out of whack is Seattle and their quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck played in their week one victory, left in the first half of a week two loss, didn’t play in the next two losses, and then returned last week when they pounded Jacksonville. And see… that doesn’t show up in all of those stats that show these clubs as being even. Guess what? They’re not.)
Bob: Seattle
Terry: Seattle
Dad: Arizona
Mike: Seattle
Gus: Arizona

Buffalo at New York (Jets) (9½)“Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?” Sure… it may have been a loss for New York… but I was impressed by both the Jets and the Dolphins in last week’s contest. New York scored multiple times late in the game and offensively looked significantly better than they did against New Orleans. Buffalo… I just can’t even remotely fathom what to look at. 3 points… at home… against Cleveland? After looking like they might be able to make some noise once the Patriots and Bucs had faced them… the Bills have rolled over and played dead against the Saints, Dolphins and Browns. Brutal stuff. Just brutal. The Jets need to get their swagger back if they expect a shot in what is becoming a very interesting AFC East. And this game is a perfect opportunity to do just that… with a couple of easy games lined up (Buffalo and then Oakland) before facing Miami again at home.
Bob: New York
Terry: New York
Dad: New York
Mike: New York
Molly: New York

Tennessee at New England (9)“No, no, not yet. Not until me and Harvey get the rules straightened out.” “Rules? In a knife fight? No rules.” “Well, if there ain’t going to be any rules, let’s get the fight started. Someone count 1, 2, 3 go.” I told you I was done with the Titans. And I am. Some gladiators they turned out to be. New England is heading home with something to prove. They’ve played their best at home so far… and, they seem to be getting a bit healthier. For one example, Jerod Mayo should be ready to take on a bigger role this week as he returns from an injury. New England heads to London next week, then the bye, and… well… they return for what could be the most challenging stretch of the year… Miami, at Indianapolis, New York (Jets), at New Orleans, and then at Miami. This game is pretty important if they want to hit that stretch with a winning record and some positive results after an inconsistent start. (Look for the Patriots and the old-school uniforms this week. No word on whether Dan Pastorini will start for the Oilers as part of the legacy game.)
Bob: New England
Terry: New England
Dad: New England
Mike: New England
Gus: Tennessee

Chicago at Atlanta (3)“Kid, there’s something I ought to tell you. I never shot anybody before.” “One hell of a time to tell me.” You could argue that Chicago should be undefeated heading in to this contest… and they are certainly looking a bit better every week. But this is easily the best team they’ve faced all year, and the Falcons demolished a strong San Francisco team last week. In fact… judging Atlanta by what we know now of Miami… for their season, only the Carolina game was against a poor club. Atlanta has a well-balanced offense, and, while not great, I don’t think their defense is getting enough credit. I also haven’t been too impressed by Jay Cutler. I know… I know… win the game and don’t turn the ball over… stop looking at things like passing yardage… the past few weeks his numbers are pretty solid… blah-blah-blah. But against the Lions the game was tied at halftime… and in what turn out to be a bit of a laugher, Cutler only amassed 141 passing yards. Something doesn’t connect with me about him… it doesn’t seem right… and while I can’t describe it, I wonder if he’s getting that team-is-successful-quarterback-credit right now. (Remind me next week to argue that in his division, he is the worst-match for his current team of the starting quarterbacks. Ok?) What does impress me about Chicago is that Matt Forte looked very good against Detroit in their last game. And if he can continue to turn in about 100 rushing yards each game, the Bears will be tough to beat. All of that said… Atlanta has been fairly consistent… dating back to last season… and rarely flops. New England shut them down… but that looks like a blip under Mike Smith and not the norm.
Bob: Atlanta
Terry: Atlanta
Dad: Atlanta
Mike: Atlanta
Molly: Atlanta

Denver at San Diego (4)“Boy, you know every time I see Hole in the Wall again, it’s like seeing it fresh for the first time. And every time that happens, I keep asking myself the same question: How could I be so damn stupid to keep coming back here?” If the Broncos win this game, they would hand the Chargers their third loss of the year and basically be in charge of the division with no apparent challenges nearby. And considering the way San Diego has played, I have no idea how they get favored here. Was it the stirring rally against Pittsburgh when that game was all but over? Maybe. Is it some belief in the idea that San Diego is better than they’ve shown us? Probably. Is it because they’ve dominated the Broncos over the past few seasons? (Ding-ding-ding-winner-ding-ding-ding…) Hold on though… because as we saw in week one with San Diego and New England struggling against teams they’ve controlled for years… recent history isn’t guaranteeing today’s results. Denver has shut down every opponent they’ve played this year. Their defense has been really impressive. San Diego… not so much. Every opponent has hit at least 20 against San Diego, including the ridiculously incompetent Oakland Raiders.
Bob: Denver
Terry: Denver
Dad: Denver
Mike: San Diego
Gus: Denver

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Bob – Last week 5-9, season 41-34-1
Dad – Last week 7-7, season 40-35-1
Mike – Last week 6-8, season 39-36-1
The Dogs – Last week 4-10, season 31-44-1
Terry – Last week 6-8, season 30-45-1

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at