I make my picks as early in the week as possible, and as a consequence I have a curious and unfortunate tendency to forget what picks I actually made in about one third of that week’s games, give or take. This is for the best when it comes time to sit down and actually watch those games – I ostensibly watch football to enjoy myself, and that’s pretty hard to do when I’m spazzing out about dropping six points – but it’s a real kick in the teeth when Tuesday morning rolls around. There can be no denying that I’m slumping this year, and inevitably, tallying up my points has proven to be an exercise in saying to myself, “I picked THEM!? WHY!?!?” This week, that team was the Bears. Never again.
Today, this effect is even harsher than normal, but ironically, this is ultimately owing to one of last week’s success stories. The logic of being in a slump dictates that one must, you know, do something in order to pull out of it. My mechanism for doing so is trying, really, really hard to find a game where I can outsmart the public consensus. After all, good teams drop games all the time. The public consensus, invariably, will not see this coming (or so I like to tell myself), and therefore, if I can accurately determine when to go against said consensus, I can profit greatly.
Naturally, this can make the slump even worse when I can’t make good picks in this regard. I’ve already noted my embarrassment in not just picking the Bears and their non-functional offense, but assigning all of 7 points to this disaster, as well. But even when it works spectacularly, as it did when the Saints justified my 9 point faith in them with an awe-inspiring demolition of a very good Bucs team, it has a tendency to underscore the rest of the week’s failures. One good pick does not a resurrection make.
But I didn’t think of any of that in the time between Sunday night and now. I was too busy patting myself on the back for rolling with New Orleans, and therefore zigging when everyone else was zagging. I’m also a little too proud of myself for snagging Miami, even if they only barely pulled their win out. This made the reminder of my other failures, which add up to a deeply middling week, all the more of a slap in the face. Picking the Colts was trying entirely too hard to outsmart everyone else, but I only outsmarted myself. I feel I’ve belabored the point with respect to my Bears pick enough already. There’s also my Seattle pick, which was an 11-point whiff.
My point is, the Saints win, in conjunction with surviving the massive scares in both the Steelers and Chiefs games, in further conjunction with my tendency to forget what picks I made exactly, had me thinking that perhaps I had turned things around in Week 9, only to re-discover that no, I hadn’t really. 9 out of 14 is better than 8 out of 14, and 74 points is better than 64, but neither is good enough.
Therefore, the slump continues into Week 10, where mismatches are again precious and few. To make things worse, I’m out both a team a trust to win (the Chiefs) and a team I trust to eat shit (the Jets) due to this week’s byes. This week doesn’t lack for divisional games, either. It’s gonna be a tough one; best to grit my teeth and get this over with.
Week 9 Correct Picks: 9/14
Season Total Correct Picks (Starting Week 2): 77/117
Week 9 Points: 74/105
Season Total Points (Starting Week 2): 678/916
14 Points: PACKERS over Jaguars
Remembering picks from Tuesday to Sunday seems like maybe it shouldn’t be a problem, but keep in mind, I can’t seem to remember a slate of games for 10 minutes after looking it over, hence my whining that this week was short on mismatches. Somehow, seeing this game did not scan as an obvious mismatch, despite being an obvious mismatch. The Packers are by no means invincible, but the Jaguars are good at precisely nothing except being adorably hapless. Their defense couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers if they were granted permission to use machetes.
13 Points: RAVENS over Patriots
I still haven’t fully adjusted to this new reality wherein the Patriots suck, and as such, I’m feeling a few stings of fear putting this many points against them, even though I’ve adjusted enough to make changing this pick utterly out of the question. If last week taught me anything, it’s that rumors of the Ravens’ demise have been highly exaggerated. They are sufficiently dangerous on both sides of the ball that an off game from one unit is not enough to sink them, and it’s worth remembering that their only two losses were to the two best teams in the AFC, and one of them was exceptionally close. The Patriots aren’t even one of the best teams in their own division. Don’t overthink this.
12 Points: SAINTS over 49ers
Oh right, this game is happening as well, and is also a major mismatch with all of San Francisco’s injuries. If you wanted to bump this up to your 13 pointer, you would be plenty justified in doing so.
11 Points: STEELERS over Bengals
The temptation is to back off even further from the Steelers this week and put this somewhere in the 6-8 point range. They almost ate it against a terrible Cowboys team, and this is a division matchup, after all. But the Bengals are still a ways away from being any real good, and they couldn’t beat the Steelers back in the days when they were better and the Steelers were worse.
10 Points: BUCCANEERS over Panthers
It’s really hard to avoid panicking when it comes to the Bucs given how awful they looked last week. Even good teams get rolled from time to time, but even so, few good teams get rolled quite like that. On top of that, the Panthers, while not quite good, are plenty frisky and gave the Bucs a good scare way back in whatever week it was they had their first game. However, that’s still not enough for me to give real consideration to picking them outright, and since the schedule only gets dicier from here on out, not wanting to pick otherwise at all is worth 10.
9 Points: BROWNS over Texans
The Browns, despite their record, are not the sort of team that you can trust to pull out a win against quality opposition, and that alone may seem like enough to put less than 9 on them regardless of who they’re playing. How much confidence can you put in a team that you have minimal confidence in? The good news, as far as this week is concerned, is that the Texans don’t count as quality opposition. As weird as it is to start thinking of the Patriots as crap, it’s even weirder to contemplate putting even this much respect on the freakin’ Browns. What a year, amirite?
8 Points: COLTS over Titans
7 Points: RAMS over Seahawks
I’m not beating myself up all that much for picking Seattle last week, but the loss did help me realize that I’ve developed a tendency to pick them reflexively, without giving real consideration to the ways in which that pick could backfire. I still suspect that the Seahawks are the better team in absolute terms (whatever that means), but the Rams always play them tough and their offense seems to have a good bit of their old mojo back, while the Seahawks defense is as crap as advertised. Also, this is a friendly reminder that, for the first time this season, the late afternoon slate is deep with intriguing matchups, while the early games are pretty whatever. Plan your day accordingly.
6 Points: BILLS over Cardinals
This is the coin flip game of the week. I have no real idea which of these teams will actually win, although as I typed that it occurred to me that perhaps I’m putting a little too much faith in the overall quality of the Cardinals. Still, I’m wary of putting too many points on this, so I’m not gonna.
5 Points: DOLPHINS over Chargers
A professional football writer would dedicate some words to hyping up the rookie quarterback matchup in this game. I’m glad I don’t count as a professional, then. It’s exciting, yes, but I don’t have any insights more trenchant than that.
4 Points: RAIDERS over Broncos
3 Points: EAGLES over Giants
2 Points: VIKINGS over Bears
I don’t wanna get too deep in the weeds here, but I have to point out that this is a homer pick. The Vikings have looked better in the past couple of weeks, but they’re still far from world-beaters, and they haven’t beat the Bears since 2017. In particular, there’s little reason to believe the Bears will allow Dalvin Cook to go off, and if they contain Cook there’s a very real chance the rest of the Vikings’ offense collapses into goo. If you’re neutral, consider picking the Bears, but regardless of who you pick, put as few points on it as possible.
1 Point: LIONS over Football Team
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