Back on track. 3-1 last week folks, and frankly, it should’ve been 4-0. How the hell the Colts came back to take Carolina into overtime after being down 17 points halfway through the 4th quarter is beyond me. Literally. I went to bed assuming the game was over.
Anyway, the other three came through. Minnesota hit a last second field goal to win and cover over Chicago, Arizona shutout Cleveland to win 34-20, and the NY Giants lost in a shootout to New Orleans, but only by three, just barely covering the spread. By the way, I’m going to stop underestimating the Saints–whatever it is they’ve done, for now it’s working.
That brings the year’s record to 14 out of 26. Not bad, if I do say so myself.
Onto the picks!
Lock of the Week
Jacksonville at NY Jets (-6.5)
A lot of question marks here, but I like the Jets, if only because they’re desperate.
Make no mistake: this is a must win game if the Jets want to be a playoff team. The race for the wildcard spots in the AFC is going to be a dog fight: the Raiders and Jets are 4-3, the Steelers are 4-4, the Bills and Dolphins are 3-4, and the Colts, Texans, and Chiefs are all 3-5. Chances are at least one of those teams goes on a run and gets to 10-6, and there’s probably going to be a logjam at 9-7 for the second spot.
So if the Jets lose Sunday, it means that not only are they 4-4, but they’re a team capable of being beaten at home by Jacksonville (who’s a decent little team this year, but no where near ready for primetime). That’s bad.
Ultimately, I think New York’s defense is what’s going to make the difference here–they were embarrassed last week at Oakland, making for a long plane ride home and I’m sure, some ass kicking practices this week. Look for the Jets to come out angry on Sunday–they win and cover.
Green Bay at Carolina (+2.5)
I’d really like Carolina if I got one more point, but I’ll take an undefeated home dog any day. Rodgers and co. will be looking to bounce back after getting absolutely squashed by Denver, but that’s the problem: they just got squashed by Denver.
If college football has taught me anything, teams can take a big nose dive after playing a physical, dominant team—like Denver—and the Pack were already banged up going into Mile High Stadium.
Plus, I have a feeling Carolina’s going to want this just as much if not more than Green Bay. When you play the class of your conference–which the Packers most certainly are–during the regular season, you want to prove you can hang; otherwise, belief in a potential playoff run gets cutoff at the knees somewhat. If Carolina gets crushed Sunday, why should anyone believe they can beat the Packers when they play them in Green Bay in a hypothetical conference championship?
I expect a lot of defense and a lot of running from Carolina on Sunday, which is as good a recipe against a quarterback like Rodgers as there is—the only question is whether they can avoid a late game meltdown like last Monday.
My guess is they’ve learned their lesson. Carolina wins on a late field goal.
Philadelphia (-2.5) at Dallas
If Philly can’t win this one, they suck.
Chip Kelly’s team is coming off a bye and they’re facing a Cowboys squad with a shaky, turnover prone Matt Cassel under center.
I know Philly fans are ready to fire Kelly even though he’s gone 10-6 the past two years, but seeing firsthand what he did with at Oregon (I live here), the man can flat out coach, and it seems to me good coaches have a particular advantage coming off by weeks.
Especially when they’re going against bad coaches–like Jason Garrett. Dallas has too much talent on both sides of the ball to be 2-5. Now look, I get it, they don’t have Tony Romo and they just got Dez back, but every game they’ve lost—aside from the Patriots—has been winnable. Atlanta, New Orleans, the Giants, and Seahawks: every one of those games was easily within grasp. A good coach would have figured out how to press an advantage or exploit a matchup well enough to win at least one of those games.
But they didn’t.
My choice here is pretty simple: I think Chip Kelly is a better coach that Jason Garrett. Eagles win by a touchdown.
Chicago at San Diego (-4.5)
Talk about a garbage bowl. Monday night’s matchup of two underachieving teams may be interesting to fantasy owners (myself included), but that’s about it.
Let’s start with San Diego: could this team be anymore disappointing? On simple metric of yards per game, they have the best offense in football—but this somehow translates to only the 14th best scoring offense. As I’ve said before, I smell bad coaching. This team it way too talented to be 2-6.
On the other side of the ball, Chicago has a good coach in John Fox, and a quarterback that’s good enough to win a Super Bowl if paired with a good defense and offensive line. Seriously. If you put Jay Cutler on a team like the Jets? Watch out. Sure, he’ll throw a pick or two a game, but that’ll come with two or three touchdowns—with a good defense you’re OK with that.
But I digress. The reason I’m picking San Diego here is that while the Bears have a good coach and a decent quarterback, Chicago just doesn’t have much of anything else. Alshon Jeffry’s great, but all the other receivers on their team I’ve heard of before are injured along with running back Matt Forte. So unless Jeffry catches 15 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns, the Bears aren’t way behind the eight ball.
Now granted, they’ve been so bad this year, it’s entirely possible San Diego figures out a way to choke badly enough to give the Bears a chance, but I suspect Phillip Rivers has had enough of losing and finds a way to salvage some dignity Monday night–other than his spectacular fantasy season.
San Diego wins and covers… I hope.
By the way, this might be the toughest group of spreads I’ve ever seen. Every game is almost exactly where it should be; you gotta hand it to those Vegas sharps—they really know what the hell they’re doing.
Also, sorry for the short post–I’ve been busy… more analysis next week.
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Good luck this week!