NFL Picks, Week 6:
This is the AFC West! Dance, Mistah!

by Pete Tothero

Buffalo Bill Cody

Last week: 10-4
Season: 33-27

[Thursday pick written 10/11/12]
Look, I am a font of prognostication, but Thursdays are kind of busy for me. So let's say I pick tonight's game, and then I'll get you the rest of the Week 6 picks—guaranteed to be correct, except for acts of God, warps in the space-time continuum, or games about which I turn out to be wrong—tomorrow. Tonight, though:


Pittsburgh (2-2) at Tennessee (1-4)

There is nothing—nothing!—like the thrill of a Thursday night NFL game between a 2-2 team and any team from Tennessee. Wait—that's not right. There are some thrills like the thrill of this game.

1. A good cleaning at the dentist. It makes you feel like you've done the right thing. You made the appointment, then actually showed up—very mature of you. I bet all of the players expected to show up at this game tonight totally show up and play, as contractually obligated. Good for them. Very responsible and thrilling.

2. Fertilizing your lawn for the fall. The air is crisp, the grass looks good, you're taking care of it—or you're at least doing the thing the lawn fertilizer companies have convinced us needs to be done—and after you're done, you're going to have a beer. After this game that I cannot and do not want to watch tonight is over, I'm totally going to have a beer. I am thrilled.

3. Picking a winner of this game. I am thrilled to pick a winner of this Thursday night NFL game between 2-2 and 1-4 teams. Just entirely jazzed.

There's no reason to pick Tennessee to win a professional football game right now. Pittsburgh seems really shaky this year, and all the injuries don't help, but I'm looking at Tennessee and trying to find a reason to believe...and I can't. Because believe in what? They're starting an ex-Seahawk at quarterback. That's not a serious thing to do. It's not professional. I think the Tennessee Titans are just kind of playing for fun. It's a community thing. They have an NFL football team in Tennessee, and that's a nice thing to have, and I bet the players make appearances at charitable functions and help kids learn to read and all that. It's good for the community. It's for fun, and to learn some lessons about working hard and taking pride in yourself or your neighborhood or the importance of personal hygiene and staying in school or whatever. But it's not about winning actual games. That's something other teams specialize in.

I entirely support the idea that there is a team named the Tennessee Titans who give to the community. I bet they're swell guys. Pick: Pittsburgh.


Oakland (1-3) at Atlanta (5-0)

Remember when Oakland was a team that you dreaded seeing on your team's schedule? Yeah, I kind of don't, either. I mean, I remember it intellectually—I know those years existed, and we can all watch the film clips. But I don't remember the feeling.

Atlanta is a wobbly 5-0—they've barely escaped a couple losses—but I don't see Oakland pulling off the upset. Pick: Atlanta.

Cincinnati (3-2) at Cleveland (0-5)

Last week I claimed Cincinnati could quietly move to 5-1 and lead their division, but then they lost to Miami. Hey, Cincinnati? I'm not angry. People make mistakes. We're cool. But looking at Cleveland, I have to remind myself what a huge achievement it is for a team to actually go 0-16 in this league. It takes serious commitment to being awful, an almost total lack of confidence, and just the right amount of bad luck. And I'm sorry, Cleveland, but I don't think you have what it takes. I played a hunch picking New Orleans to get their first win last week and it paid off, so maybe I'm just getting hunch-greedy, but still. Pick: Cleveland.

St. Louis (3-2) at Miami (2-3)

Have you noticed how often NBC schedules NFC East teams for the Sunday night games? It makes perfect sense, math-wise: schedule the most populous cities, and you'll guarantee a decent television rating. It doesn't make any sense football-wise, despite the network's unceasing attempts to paint the NFC East as if it's the toughest and most dramatic and just plain real football division. Those attempts are usually followed by a game in which the New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles commit at least a dozen errors that any other team would be laughed at for, but which are treated by Al and Cris as if they are just very dramatic moments of adversity, which Eli (they often call him Eli) or Vick (they never call him Michael) or Tony Romo (they always call him Tony Romo) will heroically attempt to overcome. The truth is that the NFC East is not only no better than any other division, but is in fact often kind of lame. I'm whining about this because we should all check the standings in the NFC West. Go ahead, I'll wait a second.

All four teams are above .500! I'm pointing this out despite the fact that I'm not even a fan of the NFC West. Arizona, Seattle, and St. Louis interest me almost not at all. (Okay, that's not entirely true: I love to hate Seattle. I'm fascinated by my total inability to correctly pick any game that involves Seattle. I admit it.) And yet if you asked someone what the Sunday night game was this week, and that someone said "St. Louis and Miami, in Miami," what would your response be? Mine would be bewilderment and displeasure. That's screwed up.

I have allowed myself to write that long opinion piece to mask the fact that I have no idea who is going to win this game. And despite just making a pro-NFC West argument, it's not like I think St. Louis are world-beaters or anything. Pick: Miami.

Indianapolis (2-2) at New York Jets (2-3)

If I said, "Nervous Nellie at Drunk Uncle," you'd pick Drunk Uncle, right? But here's the thing: What if Drunk Uncle falls down? Because Drunk Uncle falls down a lot. And what if Nervous Nellie has one of those moments where Nellie just suddenly shouts, very angrily and assertively, something that makes perfect sense, before immediately apologizing and going to back to what Nellie was previously doing, which was a combination of rapid foot-tapping and slow rocking. In other words, Nervous Nellie at Drunk Uncle is a tough one to call. Anything can happen.

The storyline with the Jets is supposedly when they're going to replace Sanchez with Tebow. Why isn't the storyline when they're going to replace Rex Ryan with a competent coach? I'm neither for nor against Mark Sanchez as a quarterback, but what they're doing right now is purposely destroying his confidence while acting like they're not, and this was apparently Ryan's big off-season move to improve his team. Huh.

Despite all of that, I think Drunk Uncle might remain conscious just long enough to beat Nervous Nellie here. Or maybe Drunk Uncle is going to tag Virgin Tim, and Virgin Tim will jump in and run past Nervous Nellie? I don't know. The metaphor is out of control at this point. Pick: NY Jets.

Detroit (1-3) at Philadelphia (3-2)

Ndamukong Suh just got in another traffic accident and, as usual, the other person in the accident is pretty unhappy about the way Suh behaved. Suh's insurance rates must be astronomical at this point. I wonder who insures him? I would love to see him in a Progressive ad with Flo. One of those ads that take place in the entirely-white backdrop, with just some shelves that are set up in a de facto heaven? And Suh sheepishly peeks out from behind one, and Flo says something witty about how Progressive even has great rates for people that stomp on other people and crash cars and don't exchange information and are on an NFL team that is in total freefall? And then Suh smiles and looks comforted and steps out from behind the shelf with a box that says, "Insurance for the Testosteronically Insane"? And then when he walks over to get in line to ring up his insurance, who is in line in front of him, buying exactly the same box? Jim Harbaugh. And Harbaugh turns and smiles and says, "Hey, Ndamukong." And Suh smiles and says, "Hey, Jim." And they trade just the most intense arm-wrestling type of handshake, maniacally grinning as each tries to crush the other's hand. That would be a killer ad to run in the middle of yet another game the Lions are losing. Pick: Philadelphia.

Kansas City (1-4) at Tampa Bay (1-3)

The doctor says I need to do this at least once a week, to stay limber and prevent the condition from reoccurring, so here goes: "Pick: Kansas Clfl." Oh, no! Wait. Let me concentrate. "Pick: Kansas City." There, got it. Boy, the doctor was right. You really have to stay on top of that stuff. I don't want to slip back into that place where I couldn't even imagine ever successfully typing those words. I want to maintain the full mobility as long as I can. The fact that the Chiefs suck certainly doesn't make it any easier. Pick: Tampa Bay.

Dallas (Everything's Bigger in Texas—The Owner's Buffoonery Included) at Baltimore (3-1-WTF?)

Baltimore beat Kansas City 9-6 last week. In addition to wins and losses, there should be a column in the standings titled "WTF?" Baltimore is 4-1, but after that Kansas City game their record should read 3 wins, 1 loss, and 1 WTF? In fact, I'm going to change it up in the header right now. There. That's accurate.

Dallas is 2-2, but that's like saying a clown in huge clown shoes is still managing to do some soft shoe dancing. You can't refer to that as actual soft shoe. In fact, let me change Dallas's record up in the header to something more accurate, too. There. That seems right. Pick: Baltimore.

New England (3-2) at Seattle (3-2)

Guh. Here's the weird thing: I know I'm going to get this game wrong, regardless of which team I pick. Grr. Let me check the weather in Seattle.

It's raining. Pick: Seattle. No! Wait! I always choose wrong! I should do the opposite! Pick: New England. But no! I've already purposely done the opposite—I purposely switched last week and picked Carolina even though they're awful, and then Newton threw that ball in the dirt when he had a receiver open for the winning touchdown, so my pick was wrong again. Have I tried a double-switch? I don't think I've tried a double-switch. It's raining, and Airline Logic is in play here, so I pick Seattle. But because I'm always wrong about the Seahawks, I intentionally switch and pick the Patriots. But because that doesn't work either, I now purposely double-switch, and boldly declare that the Seahawks will win. But no, that can't be! Do I hate myself, or do I hate Seattle?! I don't know! I'm so confused! Triple-switch! Pick: New England. Ahhhhhhh!

Buffalo (2-3) at Arizona (4-1)

Easy. Arizona.

Do you see, Seattle? Do you see how it's supposed to work? You act normal and be a regular team. That allows me to know who you are, and behave accordingly. Arizona is good, Buffalo is not, and Arizona is tough at home. I am able to pick this game and maintain a cordial relationship with both of these teams. Pick: Arizona. (Now watch Arizona's players run the wrong way as Kolb sails passes ten feet over his receivers' heads while Buffalo grinds out some kind of 12-10 victory. My pick is still Arizona. But do you see what Seattle does to me? They even ruin other games for me.)

New York Giants (2½-2) at San Francisco (4-1)

Marquee match-up. NFC Championship rematch. You can't just use careful analysis and dispassionate reflection to pick a game like this. You gotta bring all you got. That's right: I'm gonna EAPS (Entirely Amateur Psychological Speculation) it.

The 49ers have destroyed their last two opponents, and are looking for NFC Championship revenge here. They want to "make a statement" that 2012 is not 2011. (Ignore entirely that the NFC Championship game actually took place in 2012. You know what I mean.) Meanwhile, the Giants beat Cleveland last week, which probably feels like a victory, though it should only count as a half. (Hold on, let me adjust that in their record—there.) And they're the defending Super Bowl Champions, so they probably feel confident—or, shall I say, overconfident? [insert evil EAPS laugh]—that they can pull out a game like this. Giant hubris travels to 49er statement-making. EAPS says... Pick: San Francisco.

Minnesota (4-1) at Washington (2-3)


What? I'm tired. The whole EAPS process I used on that previous game was tiring. I'm not thinking about this one. I don't care. Minnesota is fine. It's like I tell my wife when she wants to talk: Come on, I can't devote words and energy to everything. Leave me alone. Pick: Minnesota.

Green Bay (2-3) at Houston (5-0)

Man, this is the game I actually should have EAPSed. Green Bay absolutely needs a win here, while Houston doesn't, really. I know the game is in Houston and that Houston is good, but I'm going to employ the reverse of the argument I made in the Cleveland game: it's not like Houston is going to go undefeated. It's too hard. Pick: Green Bay.


Denver (2-3) at San Diego (3-2)

I'd like to say we'll find out something important in this game about which of these two teams is going to run the AFC West, but I don't think that's true. The AFC West is pathetic—it's the flotsam and jetsam of the league. Broken or off-brand quarterbacks wash up here, cast-off coaches paddle their way to new jobs in these outposts where people will politely not ask questions about who the hell they really are (or it will just be the weird passive-aggressive cowboy-ese of "I gotta brutha in Carolina says was a John Fox there did some awful things. Now that wouldn't happen to been you, would it?"), the owners get old and forgetful and call their players by the names of previous players, fans show up to games wearing war paint or spikes or bear skins or barrels while drunk on their own hooch, and those aren't costumes, that's their actual clothing, and they cheer when their own players lie dazed and bleeding in the dirt, and when the team loses they yell, "Dance, mistah!!" before firing their guns at the feet of the kickers until the little guys are high-stepping like crazy while everyone cackles. After the game everyone pees in the dirt and then complains about how someone untied and stole their horses and that you kin never find the laws when you need 'em, probly drunk up the canyon like ever one else, always somethin' shifty goin' on here.

Was that over the line? Sorry. I've decided Denver is a yo-yo team, and they lost last week. Also, San Diego's wins aren't against real teams. Further also: It kind of doesn't matter, because it's all just Buffalo Bill's Waxed Mustache Wild West Revue. Pick: Denver.

Pete Tothero is not a certified professional football analyst, and does not have access to any information unavailable to the average American. He is not contractually bound to watch all of the games.