Week 7 Confidence Pool

I would like to personally apologize to anyone who make their picks last week based primarily on my advice. I don’t know how I let this happen. Hitting on 8 out of 14 picks doesn’t seem ghastly on paper, but Kirk Cousins’ passing stats don’t look ghastly on paper, either. My performance in Week 6 was utterly miserable, and as I sit here, attempting so search for answers while simultaneously pumping myself up to make this week’s picks, it feels as though the answers I’m finding merely lead to more questions.

I need to start with the Packers/Bucs game, since this both cost me the most points and has left me the most baffled. If, right now, I were to take a time machine to last week when I was writing this column and warned myself that the Packers were gonna get totally destroyed, I don’t think my past self would believe my present self. My conviction (read: bias) in the Packers nigh-invincibility was so rock solid that I would have assumed my meds went all squirrely on me. As strange as it may sound, I don’t think I can beat myself up too much for this pick, even though I flushed 13 points down the drain. I don’t see how the Bucs showed they were capable of such a shit-kicking until they pulled it off.

But even starting from a place of self-forgiveness, what the hell was I doing with some of these other picks? What business did I have putting 5 points on the Panthers? Why did I bet big on the Rams when half of the text I write in these columns is a warning against putting too many points on division rivalry games? I have no answers for these, either – with the possible exception of the Panthers pick, I’m not sure which of these bad beats I should have seen coming. I can only be grateful that I wasn’t positive Cam Newton was starting for the Patriots. If I had known this, I would have put at least 12 on them, thus sending myself into a unexplored dimensions of pain.

If there’s any legitimately good news to come out of this fiasco, it’s that last week vindicated my rule that one should never put big points on a game between two bad teams. Get rid of the Packers and Rams losses, and the rest of the losses were all in the bottom half of the table. How mad can I possibly be that the Giants beat Washington by a single point? I’m only out 3. How mad can I possibly be that I only put 1 point on the Lions? The alternative was putting more than 1 point on the Lions. How mad can I possibly be that the Vikings ate shit against the hapless Falcons? You know what, I’m not gonna answer that one publicly.

Thank you all for allowing me the space to talk through this trauma; it has proven cathartic. Now that I’ve explained away last week as a good process, bad results fluke, I’m ready to fuck up another slate and ruin my dreams all over again. To the picks!

Week 6 Correct Picks: 8/14

Season Total Correct Picks (Starting Week 2): 49/75

Week 6 Points: 65/105

Season Total Points (Starting Week 2): 452/602

14 Points: BILLS over Jets

Even with Josh Allen turning back into a pumpkin, the rest of the Bills are still entirely too good to lose to the Jets. The normal divisional game caveat does not and cannot even apply here. It’s been a few weeks since the Jets were playing a team I could even sort of trust, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to assign max points accordingly.

13 Points: PACKERS over Texans

Tempting as it may be to back off of Green Bay after they burned me last week, especially since the Texans have shown not at all surprising signs of life since useless butt chin Bill O’Brien got kicked to the curb, there is little reason to believe the Texans have much of a chance, here. The Packers got a bucket of ice water dumped on them in the form of Tampa’s extremely good defense; the Texans offer nothing of the sort. This may still end up as a shootout, but I find little reason to believe the Texans have an actual chance here.

12 Points: RAMS over Bears

Outside of these top two picks, this week is slim pickings when it comes to finding actual mismatches. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe any of the Bears wins have been by more than a touchdown, and they’re still the same old Bears they’ve been since Sid Luckman retired – an excellent defense supported by a big fat question mark on offense. Usually this formula doesn’t work out too great, but every so often it earns them an inevitable playoff disappointment. All of this is to say that the Bears may be sitting pretty right now, and they may have the superior record in this game, but we all know they’re frauds, and this game is in fact a mismatch in the other direction.

11 Points: SAINTS over Panthers

Unfortunately, now the slate is out of such mismatches, at least when it comes to out of division games. In some ways, I think my brain is still stuck in the preseason when it comes to who I consider good; I thought the Saints were the best team in the entire NFC by a country mile, and as it turns out, they are merely good-ish. But since I can’t fully shake the idea that the Saints must be contenders, and that surely they will shake off whatever doldrums may be afflicting them, I find myself putting a lot of trust in them when making picks – quite possibly too much. Hopefully this pick doesn’t force me to face the reality of an aging Brees and busted Taysom Hill gimmick plays; I can accept the Saints will burn me yet again at some point, but I’m looking for a bounce back this week so if they could find a different game to choke in, please and thank you, I would deeply appreciate it.

10 Points: STEELERS over Titans

When this game was postponed, my absolute commitment to my belief in the Titans’ fraudulence was such that I resolved then and there that I would pick the Steelers again when the tilt came back around, hoping I could put big points on it, as well. 10 is nothing to sneeze at even with no byes, but it;s not as many as I was envisioning in this scenario. Now that we’re here, both teams look like actual, honest-to-what-the-fuck-is-even-happening contenders in the AFC, and I am forced to advise extreme caution when picking against the Titans. I don’t really know what to expect from this game. It could be a shootout, it could just as easily be a defensive slugfest. I suspect that the Steelers are the better team, but I can’t be certain.

9 Points: CHIEFS over Broncos

Someday I’ll stop being scared of betting big on KC. Today is not that day, since this is both a divisional game and Denver’s defense looks like it has the stuff to harass Mahomes consistently. That’s not nearly enough for me to consider picking Denver for a single second, but it’s more than enough to be careful with my points here.

8 Points: SEAHAWKS over Cardinals

I missed Seattle last week, since they’re one of a dwindling handful of teams that I’m willing to use my high picks on. With this in mind, perhaps you can comprehend my disappointment to see them come back to a divisional game against a quality opponent. There’s always next week.

7 Points: BUCCANEERS over Raiders

Even more than Steelers/Titans, this is this week’s “I actually don’t have a clue who’s going to win this game but they’re both better teams than the rest of the winners I picked already so here goes nothing” game. I sense that I’m overreacting to Bucs’ defensive masterclass last week; impressive a display as it was, these guys still lost to the Bears a couple of weeks ago, and that’s worth keeping in mind.

For their part, the Raiders exist in a frustrating quantum state. They’re good enough to spoil a high-value pick when I go against them, but not good enough to reward any degree of real trust when I decide to show them my favor. My gut tells me that a Derek Carr meltdown game is forthcoming, but he could just as easily pick them apart, one 5 yard gain at a time.

6 Points: CHARGERS over Jaguars

I’m glad Justin Herbert appears to be good. He slid a bit in the draft, in large part due to Joe Burrow’s meteoric ascent but partially because he got knocked for not-all-that great intangibles in the endless and endlessly noisy draft season. Fuck the draft, first and foremost for supressing player wages but also for creating exactly the sort of sound and fury that could not possibly signify anything.

5 Points: BROWNS over Bengals

4 Points: PATRIOTS over 49ers

3 Points: EAGLES over Giants

It’s pretty hard to find things to be happy about these days, so here’s one we can all agree on – I’m happy that COVID and the schedule have conspired to make every Thursday night game that actually gets played on Thursdays as skippable as possible.

2 Points: FALCONS over Lions

With Julio Jones not only healthy, but also back to his old self, I can easily see Atlanta dropping 50 points on Detroit. as I have no doubt Matt Patricia, in his infinite wisdom, will keep running man coverage no matter how much his team sucks at it. Even if I’m wrong, I’m only out 2 points, and there are worse fates.

1 Point: FOOTBALL TEAM over Cowboys

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