It’s the most wonderful time of the year…the time of year when the NFL actually has some games on Saturday like in the old days. Until around 2006, the NFL would have games on Saturday afternoon for the last 2-3 weeks of the season. This could only be done after the college regular season ends with the Army-Navy game. In recent years, the afternoon games have gone away and been replaced by a Saturday night game on NFL Network. I suppose they don’t play two games on Saturday because it would limit NBC’s flex schedule options (since you can’t move a game off the scheduled day) but I don’t care about NBC, and neither should you. I want my random New Orleans-Tennessee game back on Saturday at 1 pm. Ok, maybe not those two teams but take my point. Onto the picks, which were 3-2 last week:
Kansas City (-11) vs Cleveland: I am comfortable laying double digits against Cleveland the rest of the way and Pittsburgh is next week. The Chiefs are going to eat Manziel alive because the Browns don’t really want him to succeed too much as they seem pretty certain to move on from him. Arrowhead is a cool place by the way, even if this Patriots fan’s only visit was for that 2014 debacle. Kansas City may well be the most underrated city in the country.
San Francisco (+9) at Detroit: I like to pick a game each week that not a single person cares about. The last time these teams played in Detroit was the infamous postgame shoving match between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz and both guys are gone. I remember that game fondly because I was eating pizza and drinking house-brewed beer at Piece, in the Bucktown section of Chicago. This picks column is turning into a travel column, but when you go to Chicago, visit Piece for some top notch New Haven style pizza. Oh and there’s pinball too!
Pittsburgh (-10) at Baltimore: Big revenge game for the Steelers, who lost at home to the Ravens earlier in the year which seems like a million years ago for folks from Charm City. I have no travel tips for Pittsburgh, but I did spit on someone’s hood after a Bruins-Penguins game at the Igloo in 1998. Martin Straka had a hat trick that day.
NY Giants (+5.5) at Minnesota: A win or die game for the Giants without Odell Beckham Jr. should have them fired up. I like teams in that spot. Minnesota has lost 5 straight Sunday night games and they are 3-18 at night since 2009. No travel advice here other than the Minneapolis airport baffles me and I don’t like the design.
Denver (-3) vs Cincinnati: Sorry, I am not picking the Bengals in a night game. Not with a backup QB at altitude. Also, despite getting trapped in Denver for 3 days due to a snowstorm in March 2003, I very much like the city, even the cab driver who suggested that Bush 41 used the bodies of dead Vietnam vets to smuggle drugs in the country to sell. It was such a big storm the guy still got a 50% tip. The Denver beer scene is among the best in the country and I recommend two offerings: Ellie’s Brown Dog from Avery Brewing and Collette, a Farmhouse Ale from Great Divide.
Last week: 3-2