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Avoding the losers is an all-too-common phenomenon when picking NFL games

November 8, 2012
By STEVE BROWNLEE - Journal Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

Now maybe it's just me, but there's been a disturbing trend for most of this season when it comes to picking winners of NFL games.

Half the time, I find I'm not picking the winner of a game as much as I'm avoiding the loser.

For example, on Monday night, I didn't necessarily think New Orleans was going to come out with a victory. I just thought their opponent, Philadelphia, was a sure-fire dud.

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And trust me, if the Saints had played one of about 20 other teams, the same could've been said about New Orleans.

I guess that's a good thing if you're a Green Bay Packers fan, or like me, a Detroit Lions rooter.

Geez, our favorite team gets a 5-0 or 6-0 pass against these dregs of the league, and if we simply win half of the other games, we're already 10-6 or 11-5.

The teams that I put on the bottom-of-the-barrel list right now have to start with the Eagles and include Kansas City, Jacksonville, Oakland, Buffalo and Cleveland. Not much higher on the list - as in teams that generally lay eggs but at least fly high on occasion - include Arizona, Carolina, New Orleans, San Diego, Tampa Bay, the New York Jets and Dallas.

That's 13 teams, or about 40 percent of the league. Isn't that a lot?

The key to using this list is knowing when to adjust it, not to mention what happens when drudges play each other (just take the home team, by the way).

Philly wasn't a really bad team until the past couple of weeks when all their turmoil really shifted into high gear, not to mention the complete decimation of the Eagles' offensive line due to injuries.

Arizona, San Diego and particularly Dallas looked good early on, but have really hit the skids lately.

And finally, the most important thing to picking winners - don't get cute. You may get lucky picking the upset of the year, but in the process you'll look dumb about 10 times more often.

With all this said, here's the Week 10 slate:

Today, 8:20 p.m.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville - Yes, Indy plays much better at home. But the Jaguars may make us question that theory. Colts, 27-17.

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Detroit at Minnesota - I try to pick with my head and not my heart. The Vikings started out hot at home, but lost there two weeks ago to Tampa Bay. Add in a Minnesota win at Detroit already, and Lions, 28-24.

Oakland at Baltimore - Cracks in the defense may keep the Ravens out of the Super Bowl, but Baltimore hasn't fallen to the Raiders' level yet. Ravens, 27-20.

Denver at Carolina - Carolina feels good about winning at Washington. The Broncos feel better about Peyton Manning at quarterback. Broncos, 31-17.

N.Y. Giants at Cincinnati - The defenses may outscore the offenses. Giants, 23-17.

Tennessee at Miami - Just when Titans running back Chris Johnson has found his touch again comes the league's best run defense in Miami. Dolphins, 16-12.

Buffalo at New England - If this was horseshoes, hand grenades or slow dancing, the Bills would get a win just for staying close. Patriots, 20-13.

Atlanta at New Orleans - Atlanta should lose eventually, but picking them every week is a notch in the plus column until that happens. Falcons, 37-29.

San Diego at Tampa Bay - Uh, oh. The first double-dud game of the week. Like I said, take the home team. Buccaneers, 20-10.

Sunday, 4 p.m.

N.Y. Jets at Seattle - It's probably easier for the Jets to get out of town and away from the effects of Superstorm Sandy. But this is a long trip and doesn't solve their problems on offense. Seahawks, 19-9.

Dallas at Philadelphia - Dallas plays dumb, but how smart do you have to be to run roughshod over Philly's offensive line? Cowboys, 24-13.

St. Louis at San Francisco - The key to beating San Fran is forcing them to play catch-up. With Steven Jackson the Rams' only viable threat, the best St. Louis can hope for is a 0-0 halftime tie. 49ers, 13-6.

Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

Houston at Chicago - These teams are undefeated when they don't play the Packers. Houston looks more like Green Bay than Chicago does. Texans, 24-16.

Monday, 8:30 p.m.

Kansas City at Pittsburgh - For Pittsburgh, this is a "trap" game. But how hard is it to unbury yourself from a pile of Styrofoam peanuts, otherwise known as the Chiefs? Steelers, 30-20.

Last week - 13-1 (yes!), 93 percent. Season - 82-50, 62 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.



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