Week 11 Confidence Pool

Well, I finally hit on double-digit picks again last week, but at what price? Success in quantity cannot make up for failures in quality; I am therefore tempted to offer up a couple of my lesser wins from Week 10 up as a sacrifice, that I may still be able to claim the 13 points I unknowingly threw away on the Ravens. Those of you familiar with grief cycles no doubt recognize this for the Bargaining Stage that it obviously is, and are also champing at the bit to remind me that that’s not how any of this works.

I know that’s not how any of this works, and really, I am at least sort of grateful for the amount of picks I nailed. But, you’re never gonna see me happy to lose that many points, regardless of how much success it is surrounded in. This kind of failure calls for a shift in policy; the obvious error at play here was putting that many points on a struggling (at least, struggling relative to preseason expectations) Ravens team. Therefore, I’m gonna stop giving the Ravens this kind of respect, even against lesser opposition.

Much thornier is this question of how many points I can keep putting against the Patriots. Last week, I wrote that I feel like I’m adjusting to a new reality with respect to their post-Brady shittiness, and going against them so heavily was my means of course-correcting after a few of weeks of assuming them still good enough to emerge triumphant in a string of games they ended up dropping. The temptation is to interpret this win as a sign that they’re fine, and that their battle station is fully operational; the tyranny of the Patriots’ mega-dynasty has been so absolute that it’s all too easy to see their losses as some kind of galaxy-brained, 4D chess move.

Again, we see the pernicious evils of over-reacting at play; it is in this spirit that I am taking their Sunday night win to be the sort of thing that happens from time to time. There is no master gambit at play here. As such, I perceive it to be in my interests to continue proceeding as though the Patriots suck. This hasn’t happened since before I had my learner’s permit, and we, as a society, have been waiting for the Patriots to suck a gain for at least 80% of that time. What kind of monster would I be if I didn’t at least try to enjoy this auspicious turn of events?

Any way, enough about the past. I feel as though my constant harping that the schedule sucks to pick each and every week is verging on self-parody. It is through this flimsy facade of self-awareness that I wish to declare that no, seriously, this week is awful. The good teams are playing the other good teams, and the bad teams are playing the other bad teams; there’s also a handful of divisional games to wade through. Even the glorious return of the storied 2020 New York Jets to competition does not provide a significant mismatch. The Week 11 Confidence Pool advises Extreme Caution.

Week 10 Correct Picks: 11/14

Season Total Correct Picks (Starting Week 2): 88/131

Week 10 Points: 83/105

Season Total Points (Starting Week 2): 761/1,021

14 Points: STEELERS over Jaguars

This is it. This is the best I can do for this week. As a citizen of the football internet, I have seen complaint after complaint after complaint from Steelers fans, sick bastards that they are, that under Mike Tomlin, the team plays down to its competition. Much as I hate to agree with any Steelers fan about anything, ever, I must admit that this feels anecdotally true, at very least. How else can one describe their scare against the Cowboys a couple weeks ago?

It is in this context that I make this pick with an oil-and-water mix of confidence and apprehension. I have picked the Steelers in this game because I cannot do otherwise. Since it is the case that I could not pick the Jaguars for any reason, and since the disparity in team skill levels at play here is, uhm….notable, my confidence in this pick is higher than all others this week. Therefore, assigning maximum points is warranted. Like I said, this is the best I can do.

13 Points: PACKERS over Colts

I don’t feel good about this! The Packers just squeaked out a win against a garbage Jaguars team (but alas, I repeat myself), and the Colts are tough enough on defense that I cannot assume Aaron Rodgers is going to be able to do whatever he wants. There is no shortage of readily conjureable scenarios in which the Colts play this game tough, and only slightly fewer scenarios where they get the win, themselves. In a just week, this would be in the “coin flip between two good teams” range. This week, I’m stuck with what I got.

12 Points: CHIEFS over Raiders

Last time these teams met, my blind confidence in the Chiefs lost me 13 points. This time will be different, if only because the worst that can happen is I’ll lose 12 points. In a week like this, the fact that the Chiefs are good, generally, and the fact that I didn’t seriously consider picking the Raiders for a single second is enough for this many points, even if I am nearly replicating one of my biggest blunders to date.

11 Points: BUCCANEERS over Rams

10 Points: BROWNS over Eagles

9 Points: DOLPHINS over Broncos

No doubt that some of you are experiencing mighty temptations to put a whole bunch of points on this game. While I’m as impressed with the Dolphins’ turnaround as the next guy, I must nonetheless urge caution. They are much improved, yes, but the Dolphins are both inexperienced and flawed enough to lose against inferior opposition. Their victory here is likely, but far from guaranteed.

8 Points: SEAHAWKS over Cardinals

Overreaction potential is high here, both with respect to the Seahawks’ recent struggles and the Cardinals miraculous victory over the Bills. I’m not enough a believer in the Cardinals’ overall skill level to think they can pull off the sweep.

7 Points: TITANS over Ravens

6 Points: VIKINGS over Cowboys

5 Points: SAINTS over Falcons

Funny story, I almost put 13 entire points on this one, until I remembered that Drew Brees got his organs liquefied on Sunday. The Saints/Falcons rivalry is hilariously underrated in terms of pure entertainment value. Granted, it is rare for both teams to be good at the same time, thus dulling its appeal for the national audience, but the two fan bases truly despise each other enough to be funny about it.

4 Points: PATRIOTS over Texans

I know I just said I was gonna go back to assuming the Patriots suck, but c’mon, it’s the Texans.

3 Points: PANTHERS over Lions

2 Points: CHARGERS over Jets

The Chargers are the exact caliber of franchise to allow the Jets to snag their first (and quite possibly only) win of the season. That is not enough for me to actually pick the Jets, mind you; that would be lunacy. My point is that if you’re thinking about putting big points on this just to bet big against the Jets, think again.

1 Point: BENGALS over Football Team

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