NFL Picks, Week 8:
League Says Oakland at KC to Be Played!

by Pete Tothero

Dollar Tree

Last week: 11-2
Season: 52-35

THURSDAY (written 10/25):

Tampa Bay (2-4) at Minnesota (5-2)

Indoor football, Thursday evening. Right. I'm going to watch the World Series tonight. There is no reason—World Series or not—that the NFL should be playing games on Thursday evenings. It's just silly.

Last week, Minnesota braved the elements of the Metrodome—room-temperature, even lighting—and kept their jerseys super clean while beating Arizona. Tampa Bay knows how to score, but they have no defense whatsoever. I have a hard enough time getting interested in football on Thursday night when the match-up is interesting, but Giants-Tigers in the Series vs. Minnesota and Tampa Bay indoors? No contest. I'll check this score later. Pick: Minnesota.

Update: I was kind of wrong, but kind of right: Tampa Bay won, but I chose the baseball game. I'm confident this was the right choice.

Carolina (1-5) at Chicago (5-1)

I could try and come up with something clever to write about this game, but would it be worth it? Cam Newton is great...for the quarterback of a 1-5 team. It's going to take me a while to get the image of him throwing the possible game-winner against Seattle into the grass a good five yards short of his receiver. When you hurt me that way, Cam—when Seattle is involved—I have a long memory. (Which is weird, since I can't even remember what I had for breakfast. Wait! I skipped breakfast! Wait, no, I had a banana. No, that was yesterday. Man, I feel like I had something...) Pick: Chicago.

San Diego (3-3) at Cleveland (1-6)

The last game San Diego played was their collapse against Denver. They had last week off to sit in the corner and think about it. And speaking of Cleveland, is there any team you'd rather play coming off of a bye week? Coach 1: "I hope we're not rusty after our week off." Coach 2: "We're playing Cleveland, in Cleveland." Coach 1: "Oh, right. Sorry. We'll be fine either way, then." Pick: San Diego.

Seattle (4-3) at Detroit (2-4)

Finally got a Seattle game right last week, picking them to lose against the 49ers. Don't want to ruin it by writing too much here. My relationship with Seattle is very fragile right now. All I will say is that I've decided to be open to the possibility that they are people, too, with their own thoughts and feelings, and I should respect that. I admit that I may not always have kept this in mind, and I am hopeful and optimistic about our future. Also: Don't you dare let me down, Seahawks! I'm picking you, but if you let me down, that's it! Do you understand?! Are you listening to me?! Pick: Seattle.

New England (4-3) at St. Louis (3-4)

Yes, New England is not the force they once were, but it's not like they're going to lose to St. Louis. Is it? I guess we'll find out. Pick: New England.

Miami (3-3) at NY Jets (3-4)

So Tim Tebow pulls off some big comebacks for the Broncos last year and in the playoffs he throws the most-tweeted pass ever, but when the off-season arrived, John Elway was open to trading him. And Rex Ryan didn't think there was anything odd about this? The Jets now have to talk about a non-starting player of limited abilities every single week, while Elway sleeps like a baby. The Jets will probably win this game, but this is one of those picks where I'd be happy to be wrong. Let's go, Dolphins! Pick: NY Jets.

Atlanta (6-0) at Philadelphia (3-3)

Atlanta is good, but they're not 16-0 good, so the game now is trying to figure out when they're going to drop one. On the road...outdoors...an opponent that's good but not too good, so that the Falcons could slip into undermotivated/overconfident mode...boy, this game has all the hallmarks of a first loss for Atlanta, doesn't it?

It would be better for Philadelphia if both of these teams weren't coming off bye weeks, though. I just think it's harder for the Falcons to overlook someone when they've had two weeks to prepare. My kids figured this out long ago. Ask Dad ahead of time if you can buy a toy today, and he'll probably do that annoying thing where he asks if it's your birthday, and when you say no, he says, Well I guess not, then, and thank you for your honesty about your birthday. But ask Dad for a toy suddenly, while you're all in the store, and maybe Dad will be caught a little off guard, see that he's buying a dozen other things anyway, and grumblingly decide to go ahead and throw a toy or two in the cart, too. Dad is not consistent! And neither is Philadelphia. But the bye week has stolen the crucial element of surprise, so I don't think they'll get the toy. Too bad. Pick: Atlanta.

Washington (3-4) at Pittsburgh (3-3)

See the New England at St. Louis game, but insert "Pittsburgh" for "New England" and "Washington" for "St. Louis." Cut "I guess we'll find out"—that's kind of flip and lazy, isn't it? Replace it with something funny—anything is fine. Also, though, should we stay consistent with the insertions and put "Pittsburgh" for the pick? Or is it kind of more likely that Washington will pull off an upset here, since Griffin's ability to run and (are you listening, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow?) also to throw should get some points on the board, and Pittsburgh's offense hasn't exactly been taxing scoreboard operators this season. Maybe this game is actually a little different. Yes, maybe don't use the New England at St. Louis game as a template for this entry. Maybe write something original and moderately funny. No? You're saying no, you don't want to do that, you're tired? So then why did you agree to write weekly NFL picks? You're saying you don't remember agreeing to it? You'd been drinking? Well, that's just your fault, then. Pick: Pittsburgh.

Jacksonville (1-5) at Green Bay (4-3)

This is like when my accountant tries to make an unsubtle hint by telling me how many of his clients bring their tax information to him in February, and how happy they are when they get their refunds soon after and don't have to worry about any deadline stress in April. Come on. Things that aren't going to happen don't merit discussion. Pick: Green Bay.

Indianapolis (3-3) at Tennessee (3-4)

I saw this game for sale for 99 cents at the Dollar Tree. I thought, Hey, an NFL game! But then I picked it up and looked at it and realized no, this isn't right—this is not good. There's something wrong with this. Pick: Tennessee.

Oakland (2-4) at Kansas City (1-5)

I saw this game for sale for 99 cents at the...Oh, I just used that. The NFL should have issued a press release this week that read: "Due to constraints of scheduling and our contractual agreements with the National Football League Players Association, the Oakland at Kansas City game will be played this week." Because even the folks in the league office need to amuse themselves once in a while, right? Pick: Oakland.

NY Giants (5-2) at Dallas (3-3)

How long is Dallas going to stay with Tony Romo before they decide to go ahead and start using the most exciting quarterback to hit pro football since John Riggins? Why do you trade for Tim Tebow and then not use him? It's bizarre! Wait, what? Tebow's not on the Cowboys? I thought you said the league's biggest bonehead traded for him, to use him on a team where the highly-touted quarterback is actually kind of marginal. I assumed you were talking about Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. Tebow is on the Jets? But who in the Jets organization are you saying is the league's biggest... Ohhhhhh. Pick: NY Giants.

New Orleans (2-4) at Denver (3-3)

Brees vs. Manning makes this about the most exciting 2-4 vs. 3-3 game possible. Brees is the far superior quarterback at this point, but let me check the weather in Denver... A high of 39 today, but 59 degrees and no precipitation forecast for Sunday evening. Too bad. If it were going to be cold I'd go with Denver, but they're my yo-yo team, and they pulled off the big second-half comeback to beat San Diego in their last game. This sure seems like the most revealing game of the week, though.

Man. I was about to write "Pick: New Orleans," but I'm a sucker for Denver's home field advantage, and the way Manning picked apart San Diego in the second half leaves me fearing for New Orleans' weak defense. Denver is also coming off their bye week, so they've had two weeks to prepare for New Orleans. Is it possible Denver could win this game 63-60? I think it is. Pick: Denver.

San Francisco (5-2) at Arizona (4-3)

Another revealing game. Is there distance between San Francisco and the rest of the NFC West?

Holy Moses, did I just write that? (And did I just write, "Holy Moses"?) What am I, trying to fill 500 web pages every day for ESPN? "Alex Smith has changed the way he laces his shoes—what can it mean?" "Arizona's players stump for Obama while their fans vote Romney—will it affect the home field advantage?" "Reports out of San Francisco suggest Gore's hangnail is healing ahead of schedule." "Is there distance between San Francisco and the rest of the NFC West?" Pff. Neither of these teams looked very good last week, but Arizona looked worse. I would like, sometime in my life, to see a game end in what I think of as the elusive "perfect (ly awful) score": 3-2. With most games the odds are zero, but this is the kind of game where I feel there's a one or two percent chance.

I actually have an ideal scenario for the awfulness, too: the 49ers, up 3-0 with time running down, have to punt from their own end zone, and elect to have the punter just step out the back of the end zone. They then punt from farther upfield, the Cardinals can't do anything, and the game ends 3-2: the most perfectly awful possible score, achieved most awfully! (3-0 and 2-0 games are less awful than 3-2, but I won't bore you with an explanation—the reasons are obvious.) I'm not saying this will happen, I'm just saying...you never know-oh! Pick: San Francisco. (3-2, please. Please, 3-2!)

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.