The 2009 NFL Picks
Week thirteen


Something amazing happened last week… and I want to give credit because of it.

The Dogs leveled us.

I don’t mean they did really well. I mean they destroyed us… nailing winners like New Orleans and Buffalo when all of us missed on those games. And… if Houston could learn how to hold a three-score lead… if Matt Ryan could play with a bad toe… there’s a good shot the Dogs would have turned in a 15-win week.

They started out perfect on Thanksgiving. Then that 3-0 mark was added to with a 5-2 record during the 1pm games on Sunday… where they lost by picking Houston and Atlanta. 8-2 was their record when the 4pm games were underway, and the only really disgraceful loss for them for the week became Jay Cutler and the Bears from that set of games. Heading in to Sunday night they were a solid 11-3, and they added to it with Baltimore and New Orleans winning the last two contests.

So the Dogs now sit at 86-88-2 on the season, and they can definitely see the three leaders just ahead of them. Another week like that and we may see them win this thing yet. (And by the way… history shows Mike and I being unsteady during the final weeks of the year over the last couple of seasons. We’ve had great weeks, and we’ve had bad weeks. So picking based on snacks may be about as good an approach as there is.)

Dad continued his roll. 8-8 may not seem impressive… but count it as part of his entire season. With a slow and steady pace week after week, never winning big but never losing much either, he has managed to create a solid record… and he takes back the top spot for now.

I’m not going to be able to provide a tone of research this week. I’ve got a few things that I’ve noticed… and some things I want to mention. But when you’re facing a decision about Carolina hosting Tampa Bay… and the Panthers are ending the week leading up to the game believing that they may have to call the local elementary school for a quarterback and some running backs, because everyone on their roster may be out… and the Panthers are still favored by roughly a touchdown… well, good luck with your research.

This week we take a look at a quote machine of a movie… so great that I will use one of the earliest quotes from the movie to wrap it up, because that’s one of the most subtle yet brilliant quotes to be found in the movie Stripes.

New York (Jets) (3) at Buffalo (In Toronto)“Oh, it’s not the speed really so much, I just wish I hadn’t drunk all that cough syrup this morning.” Ok… first off… this game isn’t being played in the United States. This is part of Buffalo’s attempt to move without moving, and will be played in Toronto. So… sure… it’s more of a home game than London, but it remains to be seen if Toronto will provide a true home game. That out of the way, it’s very hard to get a grip on this contest. The Jets were leveled by New England two weeks ago, but other than that have looked interesting lately. The second loss to Miami… at home… was a strange game since Miami scored 21 points without putting the offense on the field and then won by 5. (The Jets turned in some decent play to make it competitive.) The loss to Jacksonville hurt, but that was by 2. (And while I don’t think much of the Jaguars, they are winning more than they’re losing, and are in the playoff picture. (For now.)) They defeated Carolina and Oakland. That shows a taking care of business mentality because you have to beat Carolina and Oakland. So… five games… three bad losses… but really, just one loss where they were outclassed. Ahh… but go back six games and we arrive at the first game between these two clubs, and for the Jets, that was just awful. And it was awful in a way that shows this club has a long way to go. It was so awful that Sanchez threw 5 interceptions… meaning that even with over 200 rushing yards for Thomas Jones, they still lost 16-13. (Are you still with me? I wouldn’t blame you if you moved on to Denver at Kansas City… because this one is rough stuff. We’ve got a team that is playing pretty solid defense overall, started the season off looking like a surprise playoff possibility, and in recent weeks has looked every bit like the team with the rookie quarterback. So when they face a divisional opponent that defeated them, but needed 6 turnovers to accomplish that in overtime while allowing a running back to dance all over them… come on… how do you research that? How do you make a sound decision about what’s going to happen? Well… here’s one way…) Since jettisoning their head coach, Buffalo lost a road game against Jacksonville where the Jaguars had to score late to win it… they smashed Miami 31-14, coming from 14-7 down to put up 24 points in the fourth quarter to win… and we had a Terrell Owens sighting, with him going 98-yards for the longest touchdown reception of his career. There are reasons to think the Bills could win this one. But in the end, I don’t see Sanchez being allowed to throw 5 interceptions in this game. (And I mean that literally… if he gets picked off 4 times, they’ll yank him or run the ball for the rest of the game.) So when you take a team that has given up the least amount of points in their division (the Jets), put them against a club that is being outscored by an average of 6-points per game (the Bills), and play the game on a potentially neutral field (Toronto), I think you have to take the better defense that goes with the club actually outscoring their opponents.
Bob: New York
Terry: Buffalo
Dad: New York
Mike: New York
Molly: New York

Denver (4) at Kansas City“Tito Puente’s gonna be dead, and you’re gonna say, ‘Oh, I’ve been listening to him for years, and I think he’s fabulous.’” Last week I watched the Denver team I saw early in the year… solid on defense, with a reliable offense. Steady for most of the game, while letting the other team make the mistakes and get frustrated. It was the first time I’d seen that from them in weeks. The funny thing is, a few weeks ago I predicted struggles for the Broncos, and also that I thought they could recover from those struggles because of the way they were winning at that time (low turnovers, keeping the opponents from scoring). So I’ll go with Denver here… to keep winning and make a run at the playoffs.
Bob: Denver
Terry: Denver
Dad: Denver
Mike: Denver
Gus: Kansas City

Oakland at Pittsburgh (14½)“I’ve had an interesting morning. In the last two hours I’ve lost my job, my apartment, my car, and my girlfriend.” “You still have your health.” (And where was Russell coming from when he arrived at this meeting with John? Well… our first bonus quote…) “Okay, I know you’re anxious to jump right in and start speaking English, but there’s a couple of things I need to know first… because I’ve never done this before. So, how many of you would say you speak English fairly well, but with some difficulties? A little English? Yes? You speak some English?” “Son of bitch. Sh*t.” “Son of bitch. Sh*t.” This game is a brutal one to look at. Pittsburgh is coming off of a tough loss two weeks ago, and last week’s game (against the Ravens) has raised all sorts of questions about the team. (Their locker room must be a thrilling, happy place these days.) I would expect them to be looking for someone to take the brunt of massive frustrations, but seriously wonder what Roethlisberger or any other quarterback will be able to accomplish here. In other words… Pittsburgh should win handily, but is two-plus touchdowns too handily for what has become a shaky team? Enter the Raiders, a club that still hasn’t scored more than 20 in a game. Funny item about the Raiders and the road… you know I hate using divisional games for research, so let’s place the San Diego game (where they scored 16), and the Kansas City game (13), and… sit down, this is a good one… the Raiders haven’t scored more than 7 in any of the other 3 road games. As if 16 and 13 weren’t bad enough, most of the time they really suck. On the road, they average 11 points per game… and give up about 27. I’m expecting nothing from Oakland here. This is one of those contests where after it’s over, people start telling you the Steelers have their groove back.
Bob: Pittsburgh
Terry: Pittsburgh
Dad: Pittsburgh
Mike: Pittsburgh
Molly: Oakland

Houston at Jacksonville (pick)“It’s a standard question we have to ask.” “No, we’re not homosexual. But we are willing to learn.” “Yeah, would they send us someplace special?” I hate the Houston Texans. No… no… I loathe the Houston Texans. They are an organization that simply does not want to be consistent. Now loathe is really far too strong a word, but it gives you an image of the troubles I face when dealing with them. Over the years I’ve considered them to be a team worth watching. But as soon as I believe they’ll win because they are the better team... they lose. And when I expect them to crash and burn because the opponent seems to have all of the advantages… they win. The trick is… when I hesitate… torn between will they or won’t they… then once again, they lose. And that’s where the problem is, because here… I’m torn. They were 5-3 and not too bad for setting up a playoff run. Tennessee on the schedule along with St. Louis. Seattle… a team that can’t successfully plan travel for a vacation, never mind a football game… was set to visit them. They should have been looking at easily getting to eight wins, with 5 other games to play. Of course, since those glorious 5-3 days, they’ve lost 3 times. Now many of you would point and claim there is no shame in any of those losses. 2 to Indy and 1 to a surging Tennessee club. It happens. And if you’re pointing in hindsight, then I disagree with you. Because how they lost is shameful. Last week they were destroying the Colts… and they lost. The week before they scored first against the Titans, were tied at halftime, and simply did squat in the third and fourth quarters. Both games were at home. And the week before… the first loss of this string… a last-second field goal attempt to tie the game was missed. (It was a 42-yard attempt… not a given… but should have been made.) So here we are… with Houston traveling to Jacksonville… and the Jaguars are a mess as well. 6-5… sure… but they just got pasted by the 49ers, and they are one of the biggest fakes in the league. This is not a playoff-bound club. Houston struggling… Jacksonville simply untrustworthy… you can see why this is a shaky place to be. Here’s some history for you… these clubs have split their games the past two full seasons, with Jacksonville winning the first contest this year. Jacksonville has lost every game they’ve played against a decent team this season. Against my better judgment… give me Houston.
Bob: Houston
Terry: Houston
Dad: Houston
Mike: Houston
Gus: Jacksonville

Tennessee at Indianapolis (7)“How’s it going, Eisenhower?” I’m telling you… the Colts are not the best team in the AFC. They’re the luckiest. Now granted… good teams tend to get lucky more than bad teams. And Manning is turning in some stellar performances. We’ll see what the Titans are made of this week… because the fairy tale ends with their next loss. I’m willing to take Chris Johnson for now… but eventually I may have to admit that pissing away a win every week just to stand my ground against Indy isn’t paying off. (By the way… this season, Indy is 2-2 against spreads of more than 7-points. The two wins? They played in St. Louis and defeated the Rams… and the horrendous-on-the-road Seahawks ventured away from Seattle to get spanked.)
Bob: Tennessee
Terry: Tennessee
Dad: Indianapolis
Mike: Indianapolis
Molly: Tennessee

Philadelphia (5½) at Atlanta“I’ve always been kind of a pacifist. When I was a kid, my father told me, ‘Never hit anyone in anger, unless you’re absolutely sure you can get away with it.’ I don’t know what kind of soldier I’m gonna make, but I want you guys to know that if we ever get into really heavy combat… I’ll be right behind you guys. Every step of the way.” So let’s see… Philly struggled against the Bears in a game where Cutler couldn’t have hit the side of a barn if he was standing inside the barn, and then they almost got knocked off by a feisty Washington team. There’s a confidence builder for you. Atlanta is banged up… Matt Ryan not playing has been the story of the week so far… but I’m going to take the Falcons anyway. Why? Because the Eagles have not traveled well this year.
Bob: Atlanta
Terry: Atlanta
Dad: Philadelphia
Mike: Atlanta
Gus: Atlanta

Detroit at Cincinnati (13)“Well, my name’s Dewey Oxburger. My friends call me Ox. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I got a slight weight problem.” (Bonus quote… bonus quote from the friendly, group exchange get together with Sergeant Hulka…) “I’m gonna go out on a limb here. I’m gonna volunteer my leadership to this platoon. An army without leaders is like a foot without a big toe. And Sergeant Hulka isn’t always gonna be here to be that big toe for us.” I hate to cut some of these short… but some of these are based on a quick, gut instinct kind of pick for me this week… and there is just no way the Bengals are covering a large spread. It’s not happening. They’ve won 8 games on the year, and only the Bears was by more than 11 points.
Bob: Detroit
Terry: Detroit
Dad: Cincinnati
Mike: Cincinnati
Molly: Detroit

New Orleans (9½) at Washington“We got a full day ahead of us. We’re gonna start out with a five-mile run.” “I know that I’m speaking for the entire platoon when I say this run should be postponed until this platoon is better rested.” “Well, I’ll tell you what, soldier. Let’s make it ten miles.” In the past 3 weeks the Redskins have toppled the Broncos and scared the crap out of the Cowboys and Eagles. And for all of their faults, only 4 times this year has an opponent hit the 21-point mark. Coming off of arguably the greatest win in organization history… I think New Orleans wins, and probably big, but I’m going to take Washington for the surprise (and the points).
Bob: Washington
Terry: Washington
Dad: New Orleans
Mike: New Orleans
Gus: Washington

Tampa Bay at Carolina (6½)“Soldier, I’ve noticed that you’re always last.” “I’m pacing myself Sergeant.” Carolina is favored by a touchdown and as of this time, considers every offensive player behind the center a game-time decision. I’m not kidding. Quarterback? Don’t know. Running back? Don’t know. I do know the Bucs have been playing much better in recent weeks.
Bob: Tampa Bay
Terry: Tampa Bay
Dad: Tampa Bay
Mike: Carolina
Molly: Carolina

St. Louis at Chicago (9)“I wish I was a loofah.” The Bears have lost four in a row and looked miserable doing it. Perhaps they’re due to explode… but I don’t expect it. (By the way… last year… week 12… in St. Louis… the Bears win 27-3. Worth noting. Of course, that was a Bears team with a real quarterback… Kyle Orton.) A more important note… I have heard Stephen Jackson is fighting a sore back. (I’ll still take the Rams.)
Bob: St. Louis
Terry: St. Louis
Dad: Chicago
Mike: Chicago
Gus: Chicago

San Diego (12½) at Cleveland“You listen to me! You’re gonna finish basic training! You’re gonna keep your mouth shut! And you’re gonna do everything he tells you! You know why?” “Why?” “Because you talked me into this, you idiot! It was your idea!” So, this week I’ve got several chances on the line… probably shouldn’t be tempting fate against Indianapolis and New Orleans by betting against the points… and I’m step-for-step with Terry other than the week’s opening game. Until now. There is nothing to leave to chance here. The Chargers should pound the Browns.
Bob: San Diego
Terry: Cleveland
Dad: San Diego
Mike: San Diego
Molly: San Diego

San Francisco at Seattle (pick)“All right, soldier, let’s see how you fire that mortar.” “What coordinates, sir?” “Coordinates?” “Yes, sir, they determine where the mortar’s…” “Soldier, the army has spent a lot of money teaching you to fire that thing. Now set it… and… fire it.” “Sir, we don’t know where the shell’s gonna…” “Soldier. The only way to learn anything is to do it. Now fire the weapon.” You want more research? Ok. Last week, Seattle won for the first time this season on the road. (I know… they’re playing at home… stay with me.) They defeated St. Louis in that game. Against all the others when they travel, they just rolled over and lost. Read: we’re not dealing with a quality team. So now we have this game at home, where that not-a-quality-team has a list of victories over powerhouses… St. Louis, Jacksonville, and Detroit. My point is… at home or on the road… the Seahawks are not a good club, and in addition to playing lousy on the road, they don’t put up much of a fight at home. The 49ers come into this game at 5-6, and they actually still have a shot at the postseason. But this is a game they simply must win. They could probably afford one more loss… but with Arizona and Philly coming up, you can’t trip against Seattle and get to 9 or 10 wins. The 49ers are only 1-4 on the road this year… but remember that thrilling game against Minnesota? So yeah… it’s not like they’ve played poorly on the road. Alex Smith has been throwing the ball a bit more… but I’d like to see a bit more yardage for the efforts. Other than that, San Francisco is the better team here.
Bob: San Francisco
Terry: San Francisco
Dad: San Francisco
Mike: Seattle
Gus: San Francisco

Minnesota (5) at Arizona “Who saw Old Yeller? Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end? Nobody cried when Old Yeller got shot? I’m sure.” (Which leads us to this bonus quote…) “Where is your drill sergeant, men?” “Blown up, sir!” (Which of course, deserves this bonus quote…) “Are you telling me that you men finished your training on your own?” “That’s the fact, Jack.” Kurt Warner is still dizzy… and the Vikings are running on cruise control to a bye week and one of the top two seeds in the NFC. I am not looking up a thing.
Bob: Minnesota
Terry: Arizona
Dad: Minnesota
Mike: Minnesota
Molly: Minnesota

Dallas (2½) at New York (Giants)“Come on. Let’s take the truck.” “No.” “Yes.” “No.” “Yes.” “No.” “Yes.” “No.” “I’ll drive.” “Okay.” A quick look at things would hint at a Dallas team playing well… winning 5 of their last 6. But get this… 4 of the 6 have been at home, and that includes the recent struggles against Washington. And yet… they did travel to defeat Philly in an important divisional game. Both of these teams have had extra time off following Thanksgiving day games (which the Giants must be thankful for). See… New York has lost 5 of the last 6. And even in the win it took them overtime to get there. This game will make or break New York’s season… simple as that. If I asked you… and you didn’t know the standings… I know you wouldn’t believe they’re 6-5. But they are. The string of games they face is Dallas, Philadelphia, at Washington and Carolina, before ending the year with a trip to Minnesota. Win this game… and I would believe 10-5 before facing the Vikings. But the reality is… New York has not played well against good teams, especially since whispers have surfaced about Eli’s health. And while Dallas isn’t a great team, they are a good team.
Bob: Dallas
Terry: New York
Dad: New York
Mike: Dallas
Gus: Dallas

New England (5) at Miami “Where… where’smytruck? Hey, where’s the EM-50?” “A couple of soldiers took it to get it washed sir.” The Patriots haven’t lost two straight games since November 5th and 12th in 2006. (Before that, go to 2002.) This season, after losses they’ve won the next week by 16, 59, and 17. Bet on New England. It’s probably about as safe as you will see this week.
Bob: New England
Terry: Miami
Dad: New England
Mike: New England
Molly: New England

Baltimore at Green Bay (3)“And then depression set in.” Green Bay has hit a nice roll lately, and looks good. 3 straight wins… over Dallas, San Francisco, and then Detroit. And even the win over the Lions was impressive… short week, and they pretty much cruised from beginning to end, never challenged or concerned. I have to admit… at 4-4 I figured they were set to struggle, but they have instead flourished. The Ravens have been the exact opposite. They had Indy defeated… more or less… until amazingly stupid play at the very end of the game thwarted them. They registered a good win last week over the Steelers… but needed overtime to defeat a Pittsburgh team being led by their third-string quarterback. They show enough to make you respect them… and then toss it all away. The Ravens are competitive on the road. They don’t have a winning record… but the losses are against quality (New England, Minnesota, Cincinnati). I think Ray rice becomes the best player on the field… and when in doubt, that’s the first place I look.
Bob: Baltimore
Terry: Baltimore
Dad: Green Bay
Mike: Baltimore
Gus: Baltimore

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dad – Last week 8-8, season 93-81-2
Bob – Last week 6-10, season 92-82-2
Mike – Last week 5-11, season 91-83-2
The Dogs – Last week 13-3, season 86-88-2
Terry – Last week 11-5, season 74-100-2

Molly: Last week 7-1, season 46-41-1
Gus: Last week 6-2, season 40-47-1

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