THROUGH WEEK 13, I'm hitting on 56.7 percent of my picks, which isn't all that bad. Problem is, my pool requires us to rank each team that we take, No. 1 through No. 8. The No. 1 team is worth eight points, the No. 2 team is worth seven, the No. 3 is worth six, and so on. Long story short, I haven't had the greatest of luck with where I rank my teams. So now it is going to take something close to perfection, a "Remember the Titans"-type run to finish the season near the top of the standings. Let the quest begin:
1) Baltimore +3 at Washington
The Redskins are 1-3 as a favorite this season, their only victory coming against the Eagles in Week 11. The last time Robert Griffin III faced a 3-4 defense, Washington suffered a 27-12 loss in Pittsburgh. More than anything, though, propriety dictates that the Redskins will not make the playoffs. And for that to happen, they need to lose to the Ravens, because they still have the Browns, Eagles and Cowboys left on the schedule. A rare nod to the Fighting Flaccos.
2) New England -4 1/2 vs. Houston
The relevant game occurred in Week 6, when the Packers rolled all over the Texans in Houston in a 42-23 victory. Star cornerback Johnathan Joseph could return this week, but I have a hard time believing the struggles of this secondary are the result of one man. This Houston team has not faced many great quarterbacks this season. They will this week.
3) Arizona +10 1/2 at Seattle
The Ryan Lindley era appears to be over, and while John Skelton is 1-4 as a starter this season, the Cardinals scored at least 14 points in four of them. The Seahawks are averaging 20.2 points on the season. As bad as Arizona is, and as good as Seattle can play at home, I'll take 10 1/2 points from a non-elite team any time Vegas offers them.
4) Indianapolis -5 1/2 vs. Tennessee
I caught some grief on Twitter during the preseason when I proclaimed Andrew Luck to be a top-10 NFL quarterback. Regardless of his interceptions and completion percentage, I think he has removed any doubt about that designation. The Titans, meanwhile, lost to Blaine Gabbert 2 weeks ago. The Colts beat Tennessee, 19-13, in their first meeting. They should score plenty more this time around.
5) NY Giants -4 1/2 vs. New Orleans
New Orleans is 2-4 straight up on grass. The Giants always seem to play well in big non-division games. And that Saints defense: Woof.
6) Atlanta -3 1/2 at Carolina
The Panthers played the Falcons tough in a 30-28 loss earlier in the season. Atlanta hasn't made it look pretty as of late, but the Falcons just keep winning. Oh, and they are 5-0 on grass, so I'll use the home-team bump to my advantage against a suspect defense.
7) Dallas +2 1/2 at Cincinnati
I'm going to keep betting against the Bengals until I am right. Disclaimer: I have been wrong 4 straight weeks.
8) Buffalo -3 1/2 vs. St. Louis
The Bills have looked surprisingly competent over the last month. That hasn't necessarily resulted in wins, but St. Louis is just 1-3 on the road this season. There is a reason I have this game ranked eighth.