I’m going to football school.
It’s a special kind of football school too. It’s more of a camp, really, for people who know very little about the sport but who are willing to learn. At this Football Camp For Dummies, they’ll teach me all aspects of the game.
I’ll learn the basics. For example, did you know that a touchdown is worth six points? Not only that but after a team scores one of those so-called touchdowns, they line up for an extra point which they’re awarded only after the kicker successfully kicks the ball between two, tall yellow things called uprights.
There are apparently different positions too. Some players are called quarterbacks. Others are called running backs and wide receivers. These players are primarily responsible for scoring the touchdowns while opposing defenses try to stop them from doing so. At the end of the season, there’s this thing called a Super Bowl. The team that wins this game is crowned champion for the year. Apparently, it’s a grand accomplishment.
The reason I’m attending this football camp is because… I CLEARLY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT FOOTBALL. After picking two weeks against the spread rather successfully, I have reverted back to my old ways of incorrectly picking games with pinpoint precision, 41% compared to KP’s 55%.
This is my not happy face. Vegas wise guys should hire me to set an example of how NOT to place a wager.
So off I go to football school with my lunch packed up and my boots tied tight. I promise to send a postcard detailing everything I learn and hopefully, that knowledge will take.
Our celebrity guest this week is another former Fox blogger, Big Papa. He was walking out of football camp with his diploma while I was walking in. His also had a gold star on it. Not sure what that means.
Anywho, here are my picks for the week.
SPORTSCHUMP’S CLEARLY WRONG AND OFF I GO TO FOOTBALL CAMP AS A RESULT PICKS
INDIANAPOLIS -2.5 at HOUSTON
I mentioned last week, in one of the few games that I managed to pick correctly, that I wanted to see some toughness out of the Indianapolis Colts. They were hosting the Ravens and needed a solid victory. They got it. Now they travel to their division rival Texans. The winner of this game will have a serious leg up in the AFC South. While it’s still early in the season, the loser might have to settle for a wild card and from the early looks of the AFC, this division might not get the wild card. So which is the better team of the two teams? In my mind, it’s the Colts. This is a big home game for the Texans considering they play their next two on the road but I still don’t trust them. The Colts are better and they’re laying less than three so I’m taking Indy to cover.
DENVER -10 at NY JETS
The Rex Ryan removal rumblings are getting louder by the second. That can only mean he’ll rally his troops to beat Denver at home, right? Or do they really suck that bad? Taking the Jets would be the ballsy pick since Geno Smith is absolutely horrible, hence last week’s Michael Vick sighting. The Jets rank dead last in the league in passing yards which means they’ll be running the football a lot this Sunday. The only problem is that the Broncos have one of the league’s better defenses against the run, especially when they know it’s coming. Ten is a lot to lay on the road, particularly against a team whose back is up against the wall. I’ll tell you what. I think the Jets, as craptastic as they are, will come out and give their all for their coach. They’re horrendous but I don’t think they want Rex Ryan fired. While Denver has the capability to cover, I’m going to give Rex Ryan’s motivational skills the benefit of the doubt here. The Jets cover the ten.
PITTSBURGH +2 at CLEVELAND
Cleveland’s riding high off their come from behind victory in Tennessee last week. That comeback might not have happened, however, had Jake Locker not reinjured his wrist. Pittsburgh knows that. This will be the Steelers’ fourth road game so far this season. The good people of Pittsburgh are wondering if they’ll ever get to see their team play at home again. Not to fret, Steel Town. Your next three games are at Heinz Field. One of the things they teach us at football camp is that the better team generally wins. That being said, I think the Steelers are the better of these two so I’m taking them and the points.
JACKSONVILLE +6 at TENNESSEE
Oh, Jacksonville, how you frustrate me. You’re the worst team in the league yet for some reason I expect you to keep covering spreads. I’m considering this my bad break-up with the Jaguars which can only mean they’ll come back to bite me in the butt. This spread seems to indicate that Jake Locker is still hurt but considering Jacksonville’s futility, that should hardly matter. I’m taking the Titans and laying the six regardless of whom they start at quarterback.
CHICAGO +3 at ATLANTA
Can I just not pick this game? Both these teams are 2-3 and impossible to get a bead on, even after five weeks of play. They’re also both coming off two-game losing streaks. This will be Chicago’s first indoor game of the season and the Falcons are desperately trying to get back to the comforts of the Georgia Dome. The Bears had last week’s matchup against the Panthers wrapped up early. Unfortunately for them, football games last four quarters. That’s another thing they taught me at football camp. I like Atlanta to end their losing streak at home and cover the three.
GREEN BAY -3 at MIAMI
Green Bay is one of the hottest teams in the league. So why are they only laying three on the road at Miami? They’re starting to look like a playoff team while Miami, at 2-2, does not. Like the rest of America, I have a hard time picking Ryan Tannehill over Aaron Rodgers. Give me the Pack in the last game they’ll enjoy playing in warm weather for quite some time.
DETROIT -2 at MINNESOTA
Detroit should be embarrassed for having lost to the Buffalo Bills last week and I’m not just saying that because I had them in one of my remaining eliminator pools. Kyle Orton came out of semi-retirement to throw for 300 yards. How’s that for defensive pressure. On the other hand, Minnesota is coming off an ugly 32-point, Thursday night loss to the Green Bay Packers. But that’s because the Vikings suck wholeheartedly. Detroit only sucks some of the time. The Vikings still don’t know who to start at quarterback and we’re already in Week Six. I look for the Lions to bounce back, taking to the road and beating the Vikes and their quarterbacking carousel.
CAROLINA +6.5 at CINCINNATI
I predicted the Panthers would lose at home to the Bears last week. They won by seven. I also predicted the Bengals would go into Foxboro and beat the Patriots. They lost by 26. The Panthers have been waxed by the two AFC North teams they’ve already played, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. So does this trend continue or does Camolina step up to the plate finally? With D’Angelo Williams injured, Carolina has difficulty running the ball, meaning Cam will have to go aerial. Aside from their blowout at the hands of the Pats last week, Cincy has been the far more consistent team. I’m gonna go ahead and take the Bengals to cover here since the AFC North, at least right now, seems like the better division.
NEW ENGLAND -3 at BUFFALO
I think New England turned a corner last week by beating Cincinnati. While Buffalo shocked Detroit at Ford Field last, New England’s victory was far more impressive and one they desperately needed. Both these teams sit tied atop the AFC East meaning, with a win, one of them will be in the driver’s seat in that division. The team we expected to do that all along was New England, right? So why wouldn’t I take the Pats and lay the three on the road. That’s exactly what I’m doing.
BALTIMORE -3 at TAMPA BAY
The Buccaneers haven’t played at home in a month and what a month it’s been. We saw them get blown out by Atlanta, shock the world with a win at Pittsburgh, then lose in overtime to New Orleans. The new-look Bucs are still trying to work out the kinks under Lovie Smith. One thing Smith promised was a change in culture and that meant making Raymond James Stadium a tough place to play. The Bucs have the talent. It just hasn’t translated into wins. It will this weekend. The Buccaneers cover the three points they’re getting.
SAN DIEGO -7 at OAKLAND
San Diego is one of the hottest teams in the league. They haven’t scored less than two touchdowns in any game they’ve played so far. The Oakland Raiders are one of the worst teams in the league. They haven’t scored more than two touchdowns yet in a game this season. They just fired their head coach but he was only the tip of the iceberg. I’m going to take San Diego to cover here. Tony Sparano can bury all the footballs he wants. That doesn’t change the fact that his team is devoid of talent. A solid Chargers defense should have a field day with a Raiders team that simply can’t find the end zone.
DALLAS +8 at SEATTLE
Great game here and a great line too. Anything less than a touchdown and people take the Seahawks all day long. Make it eight points and bettors start to think twice. Those two little points make all the difference in the world, don’t they? Well, they shouldn’t. Remember what the Seahawks did to the Packers on opening night? They also beat Denver by six. Meanwhile, the Cowboys struggled against Houston last week. I know the Seahawks are coming off a short week having played on Monday but I think they’re just too tough to beat at home. I’m taking the ‘Hawks and laying the eight points.
(THAT TEAM FROM) WASHINGTON +3.5 at ARIZONA
Here’s one thing that I don’t quite understand about the Arizona Cardinals. They’re counting down the days to Carson Palmer’s return. Meanwhile, his replacement hasn’t played all that poorly. Sure, he got smoked at Denver last week but who doesn’t? He did manage to beat the Niners the week before that. (That team from) Washington looked absolutely lost against the Seattle Seahawks and while the Cards are no Seattle, they’re still one of the better teams in the league. I look for Stanton to manage the game and Arizona’s defense to do enough to eke this one out against a Washington team that is still trying to figure things out.
NY GIANTS +2.5 at PHILADELPHIA
With the Mets, Yankees or Phillies not making the playoffs here, a Sunday night football game is all these cities have to look forward to. Before I continue, let me just chuckle at the fact that I mentioned “Mets” and “playoffs” together in the same sentence. I like the Eagles in this one. I think this line has been skewed because the G-Men are on a three-game winning streak while the Eagles have struggled of late. Things should return to normal this week as the Eagles win, putting some division distance between themselves and the boys in blue.
SAN FRANCISCO -3 at ST. LOUIS
Again, these three point spreads don’t seem like all that much to lay in games where I feel the lines should be much higher. I get that San Fran is going through some coaching drama but at 1-3, what have the Rams done so far this season to lead me to believe that they can beat the San Francisco 49ers who are 3-2, even if it is at home on a Monday night game? I’m taking the Niners to cover.
BIG PAPA’S BOUND TO BE BETTER THAN MY PICKS PICKS
My thanks to Chris and KP for allowing me to make picks with them this week. I’m a long-time reader and fan of the Chump and other than pissing off Kevin Garnett fans with my venomous hatred, there is nothing I’d rather do than channel my inner Jimmy the Greek and wildly prognosticate this week’s NFL slate of games
Favorite Line Underdog
Indianapolis -3 At Houston
Indy has won three straight and Andrew Luck has been putting up Pro Bowl numbers this season. Indy should cover on the road.
Big Papa Pick: Indianapolis
Denver -8.5 At NY Jets
Peyton comes into this game with 498 passing touchdowns for his career. He should easily surpass the 500 mark and could break Brett Favre’s record of 503. The Jets are a dumpster fire with an unsettled quarterback situation and no threats at skill positions.
Big Papa Pick: Denver
At Cleveland -2 Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh beat Cleveland in the season opener and have dominated the series against the Browns as of late winning eight of the last nine matchups and four straight. Expect a big day by Leveon Bell.
Big Papa Pick: Pittsburgh
At Tennessee -5.5 Jacksonville
Jake Locker is doubtful for the Titans this week. You know what else is doubtful? A Tennessee win. With Charlie Whitehurst at Quarterback and the underperforming-preseason-fantasy-darlings Bishop Sankey and Justin Hunter failing to produce for the Titans it looks like the Jaguars get off the snide. Plus, they are playing the game in Nashville which means there will actually be fans at the game!
Big Papa Pick: Jacksonville
At Atlanta -3 Chicago
Both teams are coming off tough losses. Both teams have solid offenses and inconsistent defenses. One team has Matt Ryan at quarterback and the other has Jay Cutler, coach killer.
Big Papa Pick: Atlanta
Green Bay -3.5 At Miami
I was born in 1971. Incidentally, in the 42 years that I have been on this Earth, Green Bay has only won one game in Miami. This week they will double their win total and move to two wins in South Beach (sounds better than Miami Gardens).
Big Papa Pick: Green Bay
Detroit -1.5 At Minnesota
Sorry George Edwards, the Vikes defense will not be carrying you off the field on their shoulders this week. No Calvin Johnson means a closer game but Detroit will pull it out if they can keep their penalties and undisciplined pay to a minimum.
Big Papa Pick: Detroit
At Cincinnati -7 Carolina
Will the real Bengals please stand up? Please stand up? Will we see the Bengals that dominated the first four weeks of the regular season or the team that went to New England and came away suffering a beat down? The Bengals of the first four weeks should show up at home and take care of business.
Big Papa Pick: Cincinnati
New England -3 At Buffalo
The Pats have won 21 out of 22 against Buffalo. This week they should ride the momentum of last week’s Cincy game and head into the hostile environment of Ralph Wilson Stadium and come away with a win.
Big Papa Pick: New England
Baltimore -3 At Tampa Bay
The Bucs have allowed the third most fantasy points for wide receivers in the NFL this season. That should be good news to get Torrey Smith on track and Steve Smith should be able to exploit the holes in the Tampa 2 defense.
Big Papa Pick: Baltimore
San Diego -7 At Oakland
Philip Rivers is playing like a potential MVP and Oakland is simply playing for the right to draft Marcus Mariotta this spring.
Big Papa Pick: San Diego
At Seattle -8 Dallas
Should be one of the more interesting week 6 matchups. Seattle defense should be able to keep DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant in check while the Cowboys defense will probably resemble what we thought they would resemble this season…a horror show.
Big Papa Pick: Seattle
At Arizona -3.5 Washington
Arizona, just like Cincinnati, is hoping to redeem themselves after a tough week 5 loss to Denver. Bringing the 1-4 Redskins to town are the perfect remedy.
Big Papa Pick: Arizona
At Philadelphia -2.5 NY Giants
Like Deion Sanders, “I believe in Eli” and I think the Giants offense is starting to click. Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy and could prove to be a big weapon for the G-Men.
Big Papa Pick: NY Football Giants
San Francisco -3.5 At St. Louis
San Fran has struggled a bit this season and with all of the controversy surrounding the Jim Harbaugh-Trent Baalke relationship, this is not a comfortable pick but San Francisco swept St. Louis last season and the Rams anemic offense should not be able to keep up with Kaepernick, Gore, Davis and Crabtree.
Big Papa Pick: San Francisco
KP’S HE’D BE LATE FOR HIS OWN FUNERAL PICKS
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (+2.5)
The Colts have the second-highest rated offense (441.6 ypg) and top ranked pass offense (321.8 ypg). Andrew Luck continues to be very effective under center, and should fare well taking on the Texans in a hostile crowd. Houston has allowed just five sacks on the season, and due to Indy’s mediocre pass rush, it’s a safe bet that the Texans will have time to throw. But Is Houston’s offense potent enough to keep up with Luck and the Colts? Not likely. Indy covers on the road.
Against the Spread: Indianapolis Colts
Straight Up: Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins (+3.5)
Lamar Miller has run well and there is chatter that Knowshon Moreno could be returning from injury, which would give a boost to a Miami ground game that hopes to have success against a Green Bay defense that is ranked last against the run. Coming off a bye, Miami has had time to get healthy and prepare for the Pack. The run game is key, because if Rodgers has success, the Dolphins will be forced to throw, and have to deal with a Green Bay pass defense that has 7 INT’s and has held opposing quarterbacks to a 70.5 rating this season. Have faith in Rodgers. Packers cover.
Against the Spread: Green Bay Packers
Straight Up: Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (+3.5)
We criticize the Pats and Tom Brady, and look what happens… New England goes out and trounces the Bengals on Sunday Night Football. As I said last week (after picking the Bengals): “Something just tells me that in the end, I’ll regret it”. Regret it, I did. Now, New England faces Buffalo on the road. The Bills are tied for the most sacks in the NFL, with 17, and own the second ranked rushing defense, allowing just 71 ypg. But should that lead me to doubt Brady again? Not this week. Fool me once. Pats cover.
Against the Spread: New England Patriots
Straight Up: New England Patriots
Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5)
A.J. Green is reportedly out on Sunday, leaving the Bengals without its biggest weapon on offense. Carolina – and its recently struggling run defense – can put more focus on shutting down Giovani Bernard. The Panthers have key names likely to miss Sunday, as well. The result could lead to a defensive battle and a low-scoring affair. I’m tempted to take the Panthers outright, but I like Cincy’s defense too much at home – and yes, that’s even after last week’s blowout loss to New England. Take the Panthers and the points. Bengals win by 3.
Against the Spread: Carolina Panthers
Straight Up: Cincinnati Bengals
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (-1.5)
The Browns are favored over the Steelers, a rare occurrence in recent memory. The Steelers are an interesting bunch, ranked fourth in total offense (404 ypg), yet are 18th in total points. Part of the issue is Pittsburgh’s iffy line that has allowed 15 sacks, the third most in the NFL. Cleveland’s pass rush has only generated 8 sacks on the season, and I look for Big Ben to have a solid day through the air. In a tossup game, I like the Steelers to find a way to win ugly, yet again.
Against the Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers
Straight Up: Pittsburgh Steelers
Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5)
A few weeks ago, this line would have been a no brainer, but the Bucs have put together back-to-back impressive performances. But keep in mind, opposing quarterbacks are posting a 103.9 rating against the Tampa Bay defense, which is the worst mark in the NFL. Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are both questionable, which could be another issue for Tampa Bay. Finally, Baltimore’s defense is 27th against the pass, but has allowed just four TD’s through the air. Last week’s opponent, the Saints, has allowed nine with just one pick. For these reasons and more, I like the Ravens to cover.
Against the Spread: Baltimore Ravens
Straight Up: Baltimore Ravens
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-6.5)
The Jags may be winless, but they are a scrappy bunch, pushing the Steelers to the limit last week. Blake Bortles will continue to make mistakes, but he’ll continue to show flashes of brilliance, too. Rain is in the forecast, which could make this a sloppy, low-scoring affair. The teams have combined to allow 35 sacks, another reason why this could be an ugly game. If the Jags were at home, I’d be tempted to take ‘em to win. Tennessee rebounds after a tough loss last week, but it’ll be close.
Against the Spread: Jacksonville Jaguars
Straight Up: Tennessee Titans
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (+2.5)
The key is on the injury list, where Calvin Johnson is doubtful. With Megatron on the sidelines, this is a different Detroit offense. Minnesota also has the home field advantage and will see Teddy Bridgewater back on the field. Detroit is number one in the NFL in total defense, allowing just 282.4 yards per game. But when you look at Bridgewater returning and Calvin Johnson out, that’s enough for me to make a pick. Vikings win this one outright, and the legend of Bridgewater continues, you betcha!
Against the Spread: Minnesota Vikings
Straight Up: Minnesota Vikings
Denver Broncos at New York Jets (+8.5)
Let’s make this one pretty simple, shall we? The Jets, with the worst passing offense in the NFL (184 ypg), along with a 66.5 QB rating and more interceptions than passing TD’s, is expected to hang tough with Peyton Manning and Denver’s potent offense? What’s that you say? The Jets have an NFL best 17 sacks? Yeah, well, the Broncos have allowed just four in four games. Good luck with that, Rex. Manning and the Broncos cover on the road.
Against the Spread: Denver Broncos
Straight Up: Denver Broncos
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (+7.5)
A few weeks ago, I picked the Raiders to keep a game close, because they were playing at home. Oakland was playing in London. I get another opportunity to take them again. But Oakland is facing a Chargers team that is ranked in the top ten in passing offense (7th), pass defense (2nd) and rushing defense (9th). Heck, Oakland might as well be playing in London again. San Diego covers quicker than you can say “fish and chips”.
Against the Spread: San Diego Chargers
Straight Up: San Diego Chargers
Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals (-3.5)
Offensively, the Redskins are a lot like the Steelers. Washington is 7th in yards and 5th in passing yards, yet 19th in points per game. Inefficient. Turnover differential is one big piece, as the Redskins are 29th in the league with a -5 mark. Washington has also allowed 11 passing TD’s and a 108.3 rating to opposing QB’s. There are also reports of the Redskins locker room being upbeat following its loss to the Seahawks last week. That was a Monday nighter, meaning the Redskins are playing on short rest, too. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are 31st in passing yards allowed, but that number is heavily skewed by Peyton Manning’s monster performance last week. Yes, all signs point to the Cardinals covering.
Against the Spread: Arizona Cardinals
Straight Up: Arizona Cardinals
Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (-8.5)
This may be the most interesting matchup of Week 6, featuring the top two rushing offenses in the NFL. The Dallas run game, headlined by DeMarco Murray, is averaging 160 ypg, and will be facing Seattle’s top-ranked run ‘D’, which is allowing just 62.2 ypg. The 12th man also gives Seattle a huge advantage. However, the combination of clock-eating run games and some surprisingly strong game plans by Dallas tell me that the Cowboys have what it takes to keep this game at a touchdown or less. Seattle wins at home, but I’m taking Dallas and the points.
Against the Spread: Dallas Cowboys
Straight Up: Seattle Seahawks
Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5)
Here’s a matchup of two underachieving teams with very strong offenses. Playing on Atlanta’s turf, it could be a high-scoring aerial assault with guys like Julio Jones, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery running all over the field. Matt Ryan typically is strong at home, too. But the biggest factor for me is the revenge factor. It panned out for Steve Smith against the Panthers, and also for Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Bills. This is Devin Hester taking on the Bears, and we all know the explosiveness that he still has. Shootouts usually involve the exchanging of touchdowns. With this logic in mind, I like the Falcons to win by a TD. Atlanta covers at home.
Against the Spread: Atlanta Falcons
Straight Up: Atlanta Falcons
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
Rain is expected, but how will that affect each team? Sloppy conditions could lead to sloppy play, and looking at the overall turnover margins, the following trends step to the forefront: 1) The Eagles are dead last in the NFL in giveaways, with 12, 2) The Giants are tied for 5th in the NFL with 10 takeaways and 3) The Eagles are 28th in turnover margin, with a -4 mark. Sure, the Eagles have the high-octane offense and the home field advantage, but the Giants have been clicking offensively over the last few weeks. Even with Rashad Jennings out, Andre Williams should pick up the slack and New York gets a late field goal, leading to a huge divisional rivalry win. Giants win outright.
Against the Spread: New York Giants
Straight Up: New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (+3.5)
Both teams are ranked in the top five in pass defense, so each team could struggle to move the ball through the air. The eye-opening stat comparison is San Francisco’s 3rd-ranked rushing offense versus the Rams’ 29th-ranked run defense. That, and the stat I keep coming back to, which is the Rams having just one sack on the season. One. Give Colin Kaepernick time? Watch out. Niners cover.
Against the Spread: San Francisco 49ers
Straight Up: San Francisco 49ers