Hey, look at that. The first lesson to take away from a weekend in which I flaunted my own picking and value-assigning rules out of desperation is that rules are important, and I should abide by them as best as I can. The Texans have no business getting 10 points from anybody, against any opponent. The Saints are still starting Taysom Hill, which was bound to catch up with them eventually. If the Raiders, a team I simply cannot trust, are playing a team that I also cannot trust, it is imperative that I trust the Raiders less. And, I cannot stress this enough, don’t overreact to the result of Super Bowls from two years ago.
Besides this less-than-polite reminder from reality itself as to how I should comport myself, there are very little positives to take away from Week 14. Just when I thought I couldn’t have done a worse job on the year, I put up a sub-.500 performance for the first time. The second, broader lesson from Week 14 is that, to paraphrase King Missile, if you can’t imagine things getting any worse, you have a bad imagination and no sense of history. That feels like a weird thing to refer to as positive, but it’s a teachable point, and I’m not huge on positivity.
Having put both lessons together, I am humbled and ready to trudge through the last three weeks to the very best of my (obviously compromised) ability. To that end, I am pleased to report that the Week 15 slate seems to be pretty easy. There are few divisional matchups, and the ones that do exist are either not tough to pick or not worth putting much points on, anyway. There is a bevy, nay, dare I say it, a King’s Ransom of good-to-great teams facing off against helpless puds. I can’t recall a single week this season where I spent less time making picks and assigning point to them. You may think that, if I am indeed as humbled by last week’s disaster as I say I am, this should give me pause. How can I possibly trust my instincts at this point in the year? I suppose I can’t but in a week like this, I don’t need to trust. I need only react to what I see on the schedule; to do otherwise would be to overthink, and in the confidence pool racket, overthinking is folly.
I am reminded of the end of Cool Runnings. After the Jamaican bobsled team wiped out due to mechanical failure, they picked up their sled and carried it across the finish line. I may have ruined this season beyond repair, but I can still finish with dignity. Maybe. We’ll see, I don’t wanna assume too much.
Week 14 Correct Picks: 7/16
Season Total Correct Picks (Starting Week 2): 124/192
Week 14 Points: 71/136
Season Total Points (Starting Week 2): 1,066/1,518
16 Points: RAMS over Jets
Bless the scheduling gods for putting the Jets in an unwinnable game for the second consecutive week. Nothing feels better than not having to worry about what game you’re going to assign max points to, and one of the real joys of late-season confidence pooling. Knowing who is going to win is one thing, but knowing who is going to lose is even better.
15 Points: CHIEFS over Saints
I’ve been suffering from a bit of cognitive dissonance with respect to the Chiefs. I both believe them to be as invincible as a professional football team can be, but I have also been hesitant to place super-high point amounts on them. Part of that is quality of opposition, and part of it is that time I put second-to-max points on them the one time they decided to lose to the Raiders. This is a silly attitude! It is manifestly true that the only way fro the Chiefs to lose is for Mahomes and the offense to be out-dueled. Playing outstanding defense is not sufficient. Going into the 4th quarter with a sizable lead is not sufficient. It follows that it is wise to put large amounts of points on the Chiefs in any game where I believe their opposition is incapable of outscoring them.
The Saints are very good, but they can’t outscore the Chiefs. They certainly can’t outscore the Chiefs with Taysom Hill (or fucking Jameis Winston, for that matter), and they probably can’t outscore the Chiefs even if Drew Brees is back (please note that I have no idea if he is going to be back this week or not at this time). I get the impression people get worried about the Chiefs whenever they don’t put up video game numbers, which has been a semi-regular occurrence this year. This is not cause for concern, in fact, it’s the opposite. The Chiefs are practically invincible, even when things don’t go their way and they’re not firing on all cylinders; their win against Miami was further demonstration of this. That makes them more impressive, not less.
14 Points: TITANS over Lions
13 Points: PACKERS over Panthers
It is tempting to place this game even higher, but I am still a little shaken from that one time the Packers seemed to seriously entertain the notion of losing to the Jaguars. I k now that was a while ago now since, and the Packers have done little to screw me over since, but the possibility that they’ll lay an egg lingers, especially against a team of the Panthers’ caliber. The Panthers are bad, but they’re not so bad that they’ve forsaken their dignity.
12 Points: RAVENS over Jaguars
Feels weird to brag about anything I did last week, but I was right about the Ravens, wasn’t I?
11 Points: STEELERS over Bengals
I’m not super invested in the Bengals or anything, but we all agree that Zac Taylor needs to go, right? I’m usually the last guy to call for a coach’s head after two seasons of running an untalented roster, but does anyone see Taylor working out, long term? Didn’t think so.
10 Points: BROWNS over Giants
I had this game penciled in higher at first, but I had to stop myself before putting, like, 13 points on this one. I’m glad I did, too; the Giants have improved from ‘quite terrible’ to ‘active agents of chaos’. There can be no predicting which version of the team is going to show up in a given week. I know the Browns beat the Titans a couple weeks ago, but it still seems like they’re only good enough to beat the cupcakes on their schedule, and haven’t leveled up past that. They may be in trouble if the good Giants show up, is my point. Pick the Browns by all means, but exercise caution.
9 Points: COLTS over Texans
8 Points: BILLS over Broncos
Hey, look at that! The Buffalo Bills have emerged as legitimate contenders in the AFC! That’s pretty neat! It’s always nice to see a formerly hapless franchise turn things around (unless it’s the Bears). That said, this one of the most obvious trap games I’ve ever seen. The Broncos are pesky, and the Bills are going to spend all week being feted for overcoming a floundering Steelers team. For all of the Bills’ improvements, it remains unclear whether they’ve improved enough to avoid traps of this caliber. As with the Browns, feel free to pick the Bills, but exercise extreme caution.
7 Points: BUCCANEERS over Falcons
6 Points: SEAHAWKS over Football Team
Everything I said about the Giants earlier applies to Washington, as well, which is compounded further by my lack of trust in Seattle. I haven’t seen enough of the Seahawks this year to be able to explain just what the fuck their problem is, however, I can only assume that it must be Brian Schottenheimer’s fault, somehow. Who watched film of the Jeff Fisher-era Rams and decided that was the offensive attack they wanted to replicate?
5 Points: DOLPHINS over Patriots
4 Points: RAIDERS over Chargers
3 Points: VIKINGS over Bears
Again, feels weird to flex about anything I said last week, but I was right about the Vikings, too, wasn’t I?
2 Points: CARDINALS over Eagles
Not that I needed that much help picking the higher-point games this week, but man, I’m real pissed the Eagles won on Sunday. I lost 15 points as a result and, to make things even worse, I am forced to conclude that the Eagles remain capable of winning a game, now and again. To make things even worse, I have no insight into what the Cardinals’ problem is. What little I saw of their game against the Giants on RedZone suggests that they won in spite of themselves, which is a really weird thing to say about a three-score victory, yet here we are. Once again, it’s OK to pick the Cardinals, but exercise the most extreme caution you’ve ever exercised if you do.
1 Point: 49ERS over Cowboys