The 2010 NFL Picks
Week Six


Quite a few changes in the standings aound here this week. (And... if we are looking at it properly... they are likely only the first of many changes that will take place before the end of the season. Things are close... a few people will have some great weeks... a few people will toss in some incredible stinkers of weeks... and we have lots of people playing.)

First… no picks in week five from Mike Jr. He gets a zero for the week. Since the finish will be determined by total wins and not winning percentage, he is now in last place... but within sight of Sam, and definitely not out of it.

We also have a tie at the top of the board. Molly stumbled in week 5, allowing me to catch her and Terry to pull within one game.

Now… the games. And as noted in my week five preview… pull out the divisional contests and the waters get muddy. Sure… favorites for the year are 27-44-5. Seems easy enough. But hold on…

Last week San Diego lost the game entirely, which was the only divisional contest. Favorites went 6-7… roughly even… in the other games. By my quick count, favorites in divisional games are 4-17-2 right now for the season… meaning the rest of the games have favorites at 23-27-3. Doesn’t look nearly as crazy, does it?

So… get ready… because this week we have Pittsburgh with a huge spread against Cleveland, and two other divisional contests on the slate.

This week I’m stepping out of the loop for a movie to take quotes from. It’s a favorite of mine that I haven’t seen in a couple of years… Sideways.

San Diego (8½) at St. Louis“Let me show you how this is done. First thing, hold the glass up and examine the wine against the light. You’re looking for color and clarity. Just, get a sense of it. OK? Uh, thick? Thin? Watery? Syrupy? OK? Alright. Now, tip it. What you’re doing here is checking for color density as it thins out towards the rim. Uh, that’s gonna tell you how old it is, among other things. It’s usually more important with reds. OK? Now, stick your nose in it. Don’t be shy, really get your nose in there. Mmm... a little citrus... maybe some strawberry... passion fruit... and, oh, there’s just like the faintest soupçon of like asparagus and just a flutter of a, like a, nutty Edam cheese.” “Wow. Strawberries, yeah! Strawberries. Not the cheese.” Basically, St. Louis is a tale of two teams. On the road… the Rams can’t win, and they can’t score. Two road losses… Oakland and Detroit… 20 combined points scored in those games (14 and 6 respectively). At home, two wins, one loss, and in weeks three and four, against Washington and Seattle, they put up 30 and 20. Normally I’d say something funny… like pointing out that as I recall Washington was the first club they defeated in about two years, or that Seattle stinks on the road. But, given what has happened in 2010 so far, given that they lost last week to Oakland on the road, given that they are led by Norv Turner… well… I’m just guessing that none of you are ready to tell me that the Chargers are bringing along an exceptional team this week. San Diego is 2-3… the wins are big wins at home… the losses were staggering defeats on the road. End result… let’s not go diving into this and expect that San Diego is a sure-fire, no doubt about why so big a spread favorite. They’re not. So guess what? This is the first time in 2010 that any road team has been favored by 8 or more. Of course they are. (Yup… alot doesn’t add up.) The thing is… it’s too early to tell if St. Louis has trouble facing a passing attack. A threat of Calvin Johnson worked miracles last week for Detroit. Does that mean Antonio Gates is going to be a monster this week? I don’t know. I’d like to say yes, but there’s that Chargers on the road thing getting in the way. Does the four games where St. Louis held clubs to 17, 16, 16 and 3 influence me with such a big spread? I want it to… but the Lions… the Lions… repeat, the Lions… tossed up 44. Here’s a funny thing that might help though. San Diego is 2-3 against the spread. The two wins… in both they were favored by 8-points.
Bob: San Diego
Terry: St. Louis
Mike: St. Louis
Mike Jr: San Diego
Molly: San Diego
Gus: St. Louis
Sam: San Diego

Kansas City at Houston (4½)“Uh, no. It’s… it’s a novel. Fiction. Yes. Although there is quite a bit from my own life. So I suppose that, technically some of it is nonfiction.” “Good I like nonfiction. There is so much to know about this world. I think you read something somebody just invented, waste of time.” “That’s an interesting perspective.” Would you believe that no one has cleared 20 points against Kansas City this year? San Diego lost 21-14. Indianapolis defeated Kansas City, but only scored 19. At home the Browns could only manage 14. And the 49ers, who have scored 20 or more against Philadelphia and New Orleans, were held to 10. I have to say, I’m beginning to qualify as impressed. Houston though… heck… they were plastered by the Giants last week. And don’t be fooled… that is a stinging loss for this club. They should be winning their division. Instead, everyone is 3-2 in the AFC South and the Texans have lost two home games in a row. I’m going with the Chiefs here. Not sure why really. Maybe because it should be a solid win for Houston, and last week they kind of smacked me around a bit. Maybe it’s a nod toward San Diego and St. Louis, where I’m keeping in mind that favorites and underdogs are splitting the non-divisional games, so if I take the Chargers, I need an underdog in a different game. And maybe, likely, Kansas City is going to fade, a happy early start followed by the reality of not being a big dog on the porch. But for now… I like the surprises.
Bob: Kansas City
Terry: Houston
Mike: Houston
Mike Jr: Houston
Molly: Houston
Gus: Kansas City
Sam: Houston

Baltimore at New England (3)“Are you chewing gum?” I’m a bit torn here… and when torn, be careful with emotional responses. Part of me wants to believe the hype about New England… new offense with changes in the past two weeks, the coaching staff coming out of a bye week… and take them at home. One of the best teams in the AFC… solid offense… fast, young, and potentially improving defense (Still too early to tell on that one though)… let’s go with the Patriots. Trouble is… the Ravens also seem to be one of the best teams in the AFC. Funny thing is, their offense isn’t quite young these days, but inconsistent is another matter entirely. In three games this season… one a loss… they have posted 10, 10 and 17 points. The reality is this should be a great game… close… interesting moments potentially deciding the outcome (a great defensive stand stopping a touchdown and limiting the scoreboard… a turnover… a special teams effort). I expect the Ravens to win it.
Bob: Baltimore
Terry: Baltimore
Mike: Baltimore
Mike Jr: New England
Molly: New England
Gus: New England
Sam: New England

New Orleans (4½) at Tampa Bay“Christine’s dad has really been talking to me about getting into the family business, showing me the ropes. Which is something, considering how long it took for him to get over my not being Armenian.” Divisional game… favorite hasn’t looked good this season, and the underdog has played quite well. (When compared to what anyone expected from these clubs.) The Saints haven’t looked right since the second drive of game one. They look disorganized, as if the offense is using three different playbooks at the same time. On the other side of this game, Tampa is playing free and easy… no expectations united with the joy of winning. Take those two approaches and compare them to how divisional games are going this year, and you have an easy answer.
Bob: Tampa Bay
Terry: Tampa Bay
Mike: New Orleans
Mike Jr: Tampa Bay
Molly: Tampa Bay
Gus: Tampa Bay
Sam: Tampa Bay

Atlanta at Philadelphia (3)“Hey, what should I wear?” “I don’t know. Something casual but nice. They think you’re a writer.” Have you ever watched the weekly releases of box office totals for movies? Every so often, a movie takes the top spot for the weekend, and you have no clue how it was done… only, when you looked over the listing of other movies playing in theaters that week it becomes apparent that the reason it earned more than anything else was because there was absolutely nothing else. Know what I mean now? Same idea… why is everyone looking at Philly as a good team? They haven’t won at home yet… they have quarterback issues… they haven’t played against a decent, proven offense (with a nod to Green Bay in week one understood, in a game where they were being dominated at the start and lost). And, as if that wasn’t enough to get you scratching your head, since three of their opponents have managed four or more scores, I think it’s fair to question their defense. Atlanta is 4-1… an overtime loss on the road in Pittsburgh is the only loss… and even though they haven’t been truly dominant, I think that’s ok. Sure… they toasted the Cardinals 41-7, and a quick look reveals that every other game was relatively close. Look deeper. Three road games… one against New Orleans… and they’re putting up the wins. Only the Saints managed to crack 20 against them. Philadelphia… they’re 3-2… both losses were home games… and the wins are over Detroit (in a shootout), Jacksonville (a club playing Jekyll and Hyde) and San Francisco (a team that as far as I can tell still doesn’t know training camp ended). Again… how are the Eagles favored in this one? Take the underdog here.
Bob: Atlanta
Terry: Philadelphia
Mike: Philadelphia
Mike Jr: Philadelphia
Molly: Philadelphia
Gus: Philadelphia
Sam: Philadelphia

Detroit at New York (Giants) (10)“Listen, honey. Let me call you right back. Miles and I are in the middle of something. No, it’s nothing serious. Miles is just having one of his freak-outs. Yeah. Love you too.” Interesting game. For two weeks the Giants have put up incredibly solid defensive efforts… smacking around the Bears and Texans. At 3-2, they join the top of a fairly unimpressive NFC East, and arguably might be the best of the three teams tied in the division lead. But don’t dismiss Detroit too quickly, even against a strong New York defense. The Lions have scored 126 points… the Jets, Patriots, Colts and Titans are the only teams that have scored more. (Of course, they’ve also given up 122 points. Another mark that puts them near the top of the league standings.) The thing for me is… the Giants have looked either good or bad. And the question I am left wondering about is simple… can I trust them to win by 10 points? Funny thing about the Giants under Coughlin… they tend to be streaky. When they win, they win in bunches. (Sure… 8-8 last season. Do you recall they started off 5-0?) Each of the previous four seasons (2006 – 2009) includes a stretch of at least 5 straight wins. So yes… I expect the win… and I expect a big one.
Bob: New York
Terry: New York
Mike: Detroit
Mike Jr: New York
Molly: New York
Gus: New York
Sam: New York

Seattle at Chicago (7)“Oh, Stephanie, you bad girl.” “I know, I need to be spanked.” No one is seriously considering the Seahawks here, are they? No. Not possible. They’ve lost both road games this season, and looked bad both times. In the past two season… 2008 and 2009… they’ve won a grand total of 3 road games, and two of those wins came against the Rams (all were divisional). It was 2007, against Philadelphia, that they last won a non-divisional road game. They went 3-5 on the road that year, and honestly, haven’t looked good on the road in almost every loss since 2006… in that year they went 4-4 on the road. While I grant you the Seahawks have looked better on defense than you might expect, the realities are simple… they are not a good team, have no business being considered as a possible winner of this game, and Cutler… provided he plays in the end… doesn’t do hideously at home.
Bob: Chicago
Terry: Chicago
Mike: Seattle
Mike Jr: Chicago
Molly: Seattle
Gus: Seattle
Sam: Chicago

Miami at Green Bay (Pick)“Not now! Not now!” What scares me here is that Miami is having troubles scoring points. They are averaging about 16 a game. (Both New England and New York have scored twice as many as their division rival.) That said… Green Bay has been a bit shakier than many figured, and I don’t know that they feel confident about their quarterback situation this week.
Bob: Miami
Terry: Miami
Mike: Green Bay
Mike Jr: Miami
Molly: Miami
Gus: Green Bay
Sam: Miami

Cleveland at Pittsburgh (13½) “I’m trying to get you a little action. I’d appreciate a little help!” A few years ago the system worked like this… regardless of the spread, take the Steelers at home. They just seemed to win home game after home game, and often by wide margins. Not the same these days. Games are closer, even at home. And in some cases, they are losing what in 2007 or so would have been for me an expected easy win. In 2010 we have three wins and a loss to Baltimore. Pretty good… but only Tampa Bay was a comfortable win. Defeating Atlanta took overtime (at home) and against Tennessee the score was 19-11. Ok… I get it… you’re wondering about the quarterbacking and early season stuff. Fair enough. And they were 6-2 at home in 2009, losses to Oakland and Cincinnati, and games like Green Bay and Baltimore featured wins by 3 or less points. Oh yeah… they split against Cleveland, winning at home by 13 but losing on the road. In 2008 they swept Cleveland, winning 31-0 at home and close on the road. Ok… so far we seem to have to expect at least one battle from Cleveland each season against the Steelers… and it will be delivered in Cleveland, not Pittsburgh. Maybe it’s worth taking the Steelers here. And to that, I say no. First of all, go back to the start of this. While the Steelers have played well, their offense hasn’t been plowing people over. Secondly, the Browns have been playing good defense. Well… for a losing team. In 5 games they’ve only won once… but no one has managed to score more than 24 against them. I can’t pull that trigger and go with Pittsburgh to win comfortably at home. It’s a divisional game, and I think Ben’s return is going to be quite uncomfortable.
Bob: Cleveland
Terry: Pittsburgh
Mike: Cleveland
Mike Jr: Cleveland
Molly: Cleveland
Gus: Pittsburgh
Sam: Cleveland

New York (Jets) (3) at Denver“What’s the title?” “The Day After Yesterday.” “Oh. You mean today?” The Broncos are 2-3 heading in to this game, and they’ve been outscored by their opponents overall. I know… losing record and outscored by their opponents… doesn’t seem surprising. But last year one of the secrets of their early run was a solid defense and error free offense. And I think you could say that this season, the offense hasn’t been hideous. So what’s going on? Well… a string of Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Baltimore certainly doesn’t help. Check this out though… they have only scored once in the first quarter. That was a touchdown against Seattle. The Jets have hardly gone wild early on in games, but they have 20 first quarter points on the year. Basically this is a crazy way of saying that I see the Jets getting off to a quicker start and the Broncos defense doesn’t seem equipped to play from behind. Yeah… you got it… not good for Denver. Can we make a case for the Broncos? As a matter of fact… I think we can. Against Tennessee, they shut down Chris Johnson. With no passing attack in New York (I’m not a huge Sanchez fan just yet… his not throwing an interception this year is nice, but more a stunning piece of trivia than an accurate reflection of his admission credentials for Canton), if the Broncos can (1) score first, and (2) stop the run, they will win this game. Not that they could win the game… they will win the game. On the road… I wouldn’t give them a shot. At home? Yeah. Yeah. I think I will.
Bob: Denver
Terry: New York
Mike: New York
Mike Jr: Denver
Molly: Denver
Gus: Denver
Sam: New York

Oakland at San Francisco (6½)“If they want to drink Merlot, we’re drinking Merlot.” “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving.” Just like last week… if they weren’t the darn favorite, I would like the 49ers here. But as the favorite? Doesn’t make sense. Frank Gore doesn’t just have the most receptions on the team… he’s clear of the second guy by about 2 catches per game while residing about 30-yards shy of being their leading receiver by both catches and yardage. Umm… yeah… that’s effectively their only running back leading the passing attack. (He has 91 carries… quarterback Alex Smith comes in second with 8 credited rushes.) The team was supposed to be built on defense… they’ve given up more than the 122 points I made fun of Detroit for surrendering. (Unfortunately… the teams that have given up more includes Oakland.) Sorry… nothing about San Francisco looks or feels right. Sure, they could win this game easily. There’s just no way to trust that they will.
Bob: Oakland
Terry: San Francisco
Mike: Oakland
Mike Jr: San Francisco
Molly: Oakland
Gus: San Francisco
Sam: San Francisco

Dallas at Minnesota (1½)“Here’s what I’m thinking: you and me, we move up here, we buy a vineyard. You design the wine. I’ll handle the business side. You get inspired, maybe write another novel, one that can sell.” Let’s not get too deep on this one. Ok? In recent years, the image of Favre is collapsing in big games. Dallas… while not awesome in the playoffs… has won some big games. I’m taking the Cowboys to put it all together.
Bob: Dallas
Terry: Dallas
Mike: Minnesota
Mike Jr: Minnesota
Molly: Minnesota
Gus: Minnesota
Sam: Minnesota

Indianapolis (3) at Washington“No, I… I like to think about the life of wine.” “Yeah.” “How it’s a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing. How the sun was shining. If it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it’s an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I’d opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, like your ‘61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline.” “Hmm.” “And it tastes so f**king good.” I have no desire to try and figure out a way to pick Washington. I don’t know how they’ve managed to win three games. Luck… turnovers… timing perhaps. The Colts are better.
Bob: Indianapolis
Terry: Washington
Mike: Indianapolis
Mike Jr: Indianapolis
Molly: Washington
Gus: Washington
Sam: Washington

Tennessee at Jacksonville (3)“Hello, Miles. It’s Maya. Thanks for your letter. I… I would have called sooner, but I think I needed some time to think about everything that happened and... what you wrote to me. Another reason, um, I didn’t call you sooner is because I wanted to finish your book, which I finally did last night. And I think it’s really lovely, Miles. You’re so good with words. Who cares if it’s not getting published? There are so many beautiful and... painful things about it. Did you really go through all that? Must have been awful. And the sister character - jeez, what a wreck. But I have to say that, well, I was really confused by the ending. I mean, did the father finally commit suicide, or what? It’s driving me crazy. Anyway, it’s turned cold and rainy here lately, but I like winter. So, listen, if you ever do decide to come up here again, you should let me know. I would say stop by the restaurant, but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure how much longer I’m gonna be working there, because I’m going to graduate soon. So, I’ll probably want to relocate. I mean, we’ll see. Anyway, like I said, I really loved your novel. Don’t give up, Miles. Keep writing. I hope you’re well. Bye.” Yes… yes… I know… no jokes in this last quote. But if you see the movie, you’ll know how great a quote it is. Anyway the game. We’ve got a divisional game, and a shaky favorite. After defeating Indianapolis, Jacksonville was actually a pick ‘em against Buffalo. Does that scream confidence to you? A few minutes ago, I was talking about how Cleveland had yet to have anyone score more than 24-points against them. Jacksonville is 3-2. Beat Indianapolis. Played Buffalo. Guess how many teams have scored over 24 on them. Nope… you’re wrong… the answer is 4 out of 5. The only club they held to less than 26 points was Denver in week one. Last year these two clubs split the season, with each winning comfortably at home. The thing is… I just see the Titans as a better club, plus I don’t trust divisional favorites.
Bob: Tennessee
Terry: Jacksonville
Mike: Tennessee
Mike Jr: Tennessee
Molly: Tennessee
Gus: Jacksonville
Sam: Jacksonville

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Molly: Last week 5-9, currently 38-33-5
Bob: Last week 9-5, currently 38-33-5
Terry: Last week 9-5, currently 37-34-5
Gus: Last week 7-7, currently 32-39-5
Mike: Last week 7-7, currently 31-40-5
Sam: Last week 5-9, currently 29-42-5
Mike Jr: Last week 0-0, currently 27-30-5

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