There are two things I’d like to talk about before making my picks for this week.
First, what happened to Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer on Thursday night is super sad.
Hoyer was an undrafted player who backed up Tom Brady for his first three years in the league. He was then cut, and bounced between Pittsburgh and Arizona last year.
This year he was backing up Brandon Weeden in Cleveland. When Weeden got hurt, Hoyer had his chance. And he made the most of it. He won two games, and appeared to be playing pretty well.
Then, in his third game as a starter, he had a season-ending injury with a partial ACL tear.
The Browns have a solid defence, and a great kick returner. But with Weeden as QB, it’s hard to see them winning very many games. It’s easy to imagine them getting a top-10 draft pick. This year’s draft is deep with QB talent, so expect the Browns to pick a QB in the first round.
That means Hoyer will be hosed. He’ll be returning from an injury. He’ll be a fourth-year journeyman QB with a two-game resume competing against someone the team will have made a serious investment in.
It’s possible defenses would have figured him out and he would have lost a ton of games this year anyway. It’s also possible, however, that he would have gotten better and better, and established himself as a good quarterback.
Now, all of that’s out the window.
Imagine dedicating your entire life to one goal — being a starting quarterback — finally reaching that goal and then having it all taken away from you in one moment. Heartbreaking.
Hopefully he recovers, and he gets a second chance.
Second thing on the agenda: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Boy are they a total mess.
I don’t know the ins and outs of what’s going on in Tampa, but it looks ugly. The team seems to be trashing Josh Freeman as it kicks him out of the building. Greg Schiano appears to embody the worst aspects of an overly enthusiastic college coach trying to take over a professional team.
And yet… if there’s one team in the league that I see as having reason for hope, it’s the Bucs. They seem destined to be next year’s Kansas City Chiefs.
The Bucs will stink this year, which will give them a good draft pick. With the right quarterback and better coach, the team could be great. The defence is solid, the offensive pieces around the quarterback appear to be good. They just needs those two pieces, then voila, they’re a contender.
Now, on to this week’s picks…
I nailed Thursday night’s game on Twitter, calling for the Browns to win. I must say I got a little nervous when Hoyer went down, but it all worked out. That makes me 4-1 on Thursday game this year. Follow me on Twitter to get that pick in the future.
Last week I went 5-1 with my picks, which astounds me. Picking games is hard, especially when you watch as little football as I do. For the year I am now 14-12-1, which means if you’re foolish enough to bet based on my picks, you’re making money. I do not recommend betting on my picks. NFL games are largely a crapshoot. You are just burning your money. But, it is a fairly thrilling way to burn money. I’ve never literally set money on fire, but I’m willing to bet it’s not exciting.
I’m not feeling great about this week’s picks. There’s a lot of in-between games.
As always, I took five games I feel good about. The lines are from the Las Vegas Hilton, via Vegas Insider.
Soon to be hall of fame coach Andy Reid.
Kansas City is on the road against the Tennessee Titans, who are getting 3 points.
I’m new to picking games. I think there are unwritten rules. Or maybe they’re written. I don’t know. But, one of those wise man-type things people say is, “Don’t take road favourites.” This is the only reason I can think of to stay away from this game. The Chiefs are good. The Titans, while not bad, just lost their quarterback. Do we really believe that Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Titans backup, is going to beat Kansas City’s fantastic secondary? We do not.
The pick: Chiefs, -3
(For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, this means I think the Chiefs win by 3 or more.)
Philadelphia Eagles are on the road against the New York Giants, who are 1 point favourites.
This line opened at Eagles +4, and moved to Eagles +1. The reason? People think the Eagles can win. I’m one of those people. Maybe I’m a sucker. The Eagles are the team I root for. This year, I’m 1-2 picking Eagles games, so beware. My rationale on this one: The Eagles aren’t as bad as they looked against the Broncos. The Giants just aren’t any good this year. Their weaknesses match up with the Eagles’ strengths, so Chip Kelly should get his second win of the year.
The toothpick: Eagles, +1
(For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, this means I think the Eagles win or lose by 1.)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Denver is on the road against the Dallas Cowboys, who are getting 7.5 points.
This game opened with the Broncos as just 3.5 favourites! I hope you were lucky enough to grab it then. Because that’s nuts. The Broncos are a juggernaut and this line should be double digits. I suppose even juggernauts have off weeks, and it’s possible the Cowboys lose by less than 7, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that wager.
The T. Boone Pickens: Broncos, -7.5
(For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, this means I think the Broncos win by 8 or more.)
Detroit is on the road against the Green Bay Packers, who are 7 point favourites.
A 7-point spread in a division game? I’m not a big believer in the Lions, but they clearly have some juice with Reggie Bush in the lineup. The defence is serviceable, and it’s possible the Packers aren’t good this year. The Packers are coming off a bye week, so they should be primed to get after Detroit and win this one. But, I just see those seven points and have to do it. Maybe it’s a sucker’s bet, but I like the Lions here.
The stone cold lock pick: Lions +7
(For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, this means I think the Lions win or lose by 7 or less.)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Seattle is on the road against the Indianapolis Colts, who are getting 3 points.
How good are the Seahawks? We’ll find out this weekend. They’re clearly awesome at home, but on the road they’re a little shaky, with a near loss at Houston and a close game in Carolina. The Colts are pretty good, and QB Andrew Luck might be enough to get a win here. So… why not, one of the unbeaten teams has to lose eventually.
The Lock Ness Monster pick of the week: Colts +3
(For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, this means I think the Colts win or lose by 3.)
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