This is a special time. It's a time when we gather with friends and family and break bread together, a time to reflect on being thankful for what we have, and a time where damned fools gird themselves to risk life and limb (literally) to go out and buy more stuff. But mostly, it's a time for passing out and watching football until gravy and/or cranberry sauce come oozing out of our ears.
This week, I'll spare y'all the bad poetry and pictures of buffalo wings...
::Waits for applause to die down::
...because there will be more than enough food tomorrow.
Personally, I find myself thankful for having NFL football back in Houston. I know it's been a decade, but through all the crappy football we've had to endure, through the Frank Bushes and Richard Smiths and Charley Casserlys that have littered the Texans' existence, I'm still grateful to have a football team of my own to root for. And now that said team has a 9-1 record, y'all should be grateful too.
Now let's move on to this week's picks.
Last week was an exceptionally good week, as I predicted 12 of the 14 games correctly. Because of this, and after 30 seconds of careful consideration, I have decided to grant myself the title of "Oracle." So if you've got a pick'em league, this is the place you want to go...that is unless it's some kind of weird reverse pick'em league.
Last week's record: 12-2
Record to date: 92-66-1
Off this week: None (no more bye weeks)
On with the picks!
12:30 p.m. EST/9:30 a.m. PST
Houston Texans at Detroit Lions (a.k.a. The Only Game That Matters) - The Lions' pass defense is ranked 28th by Football Outsiders and are shown to be particularly weak against tight ends and teams' WR2. I expect Kevin Walter to get a lot of attention as well as our 37 tight ends to send the Texans to 10-1. Pick: Texans (duh)
4:15 p.m. EST/1:15 p.m. PST
Washington Redskins at Arlington Cowfarts - You know why they're playing this game in the middle of the day right? So people will have background noise to lull them off to their tryptophan comas. I can't think of any other reason why they'd put the Cowfarts game on here. Sadly, though, I do think with as bad a run defense as the Redskins have, the Cowfarts will win this one. Pick: Cowfarts
8:20 p.m. EST/5:20 p.m. PST
New England Patriots at New York Jets - Ah, speaking of mediocrity, how about them New York Jets? It must feel good to beat up on the Rams, although I guess it'd be like hitting a home run while playing tee ball. The Pats should make pretty quick work of the Jets and put their playoff hopes (giggle) to an end. Pick: Patriots
1:00 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs - No Willis McGahee should be no problem for the Broncos. The Chiefs currently have the 25th rated pass defense and run defense against DVOA. Really, this is going to get ugly, and ugly fast. Pick: Broncos
Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis Colts - This game should be a shootout since the Bills and Colts sport two of the worst defenses in the NFL. However, I like the Colts offense better than the Bills and will say the Colts win this one. Pick: Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns - The Steelers are starting to bear a strange resemblance to the Texans in the quarterback department. They're down to third string quarterback Charlie Batch to play against the hapless Browns. The sad part is, I still think the Steelers win this one (with help from the refs, of course). Pick: Steelers
Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals - In their last three games, the Oakland Raiders have given up 135 points. To compare, the Texans have given up 163 points all season. Yeah. That's kind of awful, and the Bengals offense is pretty good, especially in the passing game. I almost feel bad for the Raiders. Well, not really, but still they'll lose. Pick: Bengals
Seattle Seahawks at Miami Dolphins - It looks like the Dolphins are finally coming back down to earth. And if you thought Ryan Tannehill struggled against the Texans defense, wait until the Seahawks defense, with the best secondary in the league, comes to town. Oh yes, there will be picks. The bigger question is will the Seahawks finally show up on the road? I think they will. They'd better. Pick: Seahawks
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - This is an odd mismatch. A bad Atlanta run defense up against Doug Martin and the Bucs' rushing attack and the Bucs' terrible passing defense goes against Matt Ryan and a very good aerial offense. It's a tough game to pick, but I give the edge to Atlanta in this one. Why? Because the turkey I'm preparing told me to do so. Do not question the Oracle. Pick: Falcons
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears - Talk about a rough couple of weeks for the Bears; lose a squeaker at home against the Texans, then go to San Francisco and get rolled by the Niners. Oh well, at least they still have the steady leadership of Jay Cu...oh...right. Much as I malign them, and as impressive as Adrian Peterson is, that Bears defense is going to provide some serious headaches for the Vikings offense. Pick: Bears
Northwestern South Carolina BESFs at Jacksonville Jaguars - Under normal circumstances, I'd be loathe to say the BESFs win anything short of a competition for "most loathsome owner," and even then they'd have stiff competition from Jerry Jones. But now that Blaine Gabbert is on injured reserve (well done, Bulls On Parade), the Jaguars are now better and I can pick them with semi-clear conscience over the BESFs. That or I picked a bad week to stop huffing vanilla extract. Pick: Jaguars
4:05 p.m. EST/1:05 p.m. PST
Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers - If you happen to be watching this game, and lord only knows why you'd be stuck watching them, try to listen carefully to your TV set every time Norv Turner is shown. Because when he's on, you can just hear the gentle swirling of water going down the toilet. Weird, ain't it? The Chargers are still, technically, in the playoff hunt just as I could technically woo Scarlett Johansson; and by "technically" I mean not at all. Losing to the Ravens will not help this matter. Pick: Ravens
4:25 p.m. EST/1:25 p.m. PST
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals - A matchup of the dregs of the NFC West. To give you an idea of how badly things have turned for the Cardinals, I will give 50 bucks to the person who can tell me who the quarterback was for the Cardinals last week. If you give me the correct answer, I will assume you Googled it and will thus disqualify you. It's not a perfect system, I know, but at least I don't lose money that way. Pick: Rams
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints - The last time these two played each other, it didn't work out so well for the Saints, as I recall. With their win over the Raiders, the Saints are now at .500 and looking like a threat to get a wild card spot. I suspect the Niners won't let that happen, even with Kaepernick starting at quarterback. Pick: Niners
8:20 p.m. EST/5:25 p.m. PST
Green Bay Packers at New York Giants - Another playoff matchup from last year. Eli Manning got a week to rest his "tired arm," and his team a chance to heal up from injuries. But the Packers have been rolling and could very well take over the division lead this week. Against the Giants, who seem to lead the NFC East by default, they should get a win. Either way, this looks like it's going to be a damn good game. Pick: Packers
8:30 p.m. EST/5:30 p.m. PST
Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles - And then you have the anti-Sunday Night Game, the game where pretty much everyone save for friends and family can probably find better things to do with their time; and I'm not entirely sure about the friends and family part either. As much as I think the Panthers aren't a good football team, at least the wheels haven't come completely off like it has for the Eagles. The Panthers win. Pick: Eagles
The Oracle has spoken! This is what will be. Do you dare to disagree with these picks? Got some other thoughts on some of these games? Enlighten us in the comments section below. Hurry before it's too late!