If week 11 in the NFL had one name assigned to it, it would be Houdini. The smoke and mirrors used by Houston, Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta to magically pull victories out of strait jackets is nothing short of miraculous. The top suicide picks all managed to inch out wins in dramatically late fashion: Matt Ryan throws five interceptions yet the Falcons fly passed the Cardinals for the win in the fourth quarter; the Texans become the first team in NFL history to win while scoring twice in overtime; the Buccaneers squeeze out a victory in overtime after a last second touchdown and two point conversion to send the game into said overtime; and the Cowboys, well, were luckier than a rabbit’s foot tripping over a four leaf clover. What could have been the end to many suicide pools now becomes a tighter and more desperate fight to the finish of last man or woman standing.
It is no coincidence that three of those four teams came back to win at home. Let’s give the fans some credit this week and say that they were the deciding factor as the 12th man on the field/grass/turf. Home teams provided us with another winning week at 8-6, for a season tally of 93-66. Time to dive back into the division matchups to see how easy they were to navigate: the Texans as huge favourites needed every single drop of sweat to beat the Jaguars; the Bucs as favourites got some help to squeak out a victory over their Panther rivals; Baltimore needed a special teams touchdown to defeat the quarterbackless Steelers; the favourite Packers got the bounce of the football to barely beat the Lions; Denver, Buffalo, and Washington were the only teams to convincingly take care of business against a division opponent, albeit by less than a touchdown, aside from Washington. Just goes to show you to avoid division tilts as much as possible, even though they seem ripe for the picking, as crazy and wild things can and will happen more often than not.
Teams Already Used – Houston, New England, Chicago, Green Bay, San Francisco, Atlanta, Minnesota, San Diego, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Dallas
Cincinnati, My Week 12 Pick – So Carson Palmer makes his return back to the grounds where he started and thrived as a footballer. It’s like when you go back to the house you grew up in as a kid, reminiscing about all the best hiding spots, the backyard shenanigans, basement destruction, and the soft spots/creaks in the floor. You can bet this game was circled the second the schedule was announced in the off-season. Couple of problems though: the last win by this Raiders team was against the lowly Chiefs, which doesn’t bode well on a resume; the Raiders will be traveling over 13,000 kilometres in the past two weeks (Oakland to Baltimore to Oakland to Cincinnati); the Oakland defense has given up 135 points in their last three games; and the biggest problem for the Raiders is a guy by the name of AJ Green, who has scored in nine consecutive games. You try doing something nine times in a row. I couldn’t even keep my focus on one NFL game for nine seconds without checking another box score. Heck, Carson Palmer only lasted eight years in the house he grew up in. Too bad it wasn’t nine, then maybe he could have trumped the touchdown streak with some Home Alone calibre booby traps.
Denver – Poor old Kansas City, just when you think things can’t get any worse, a guy named Peyton Manning shows up at your front door. He knocks and you politely invite him into your abode, then he proceeds to give you a tour of your own residence. He shows you every room, leaky faucet, creaky cabinet, and the name of every paint colour on the walls. You end up in the kitchen, take a seat at the breakfast table while Peyton makes up a cup of coffee for you to enjoy. He becomes your therapist and you start to talk about the years that have passed, the struggles you have gone through, the changes you want to make but can never find time for, and all the headaches your neighbours have caused you. He tells you things are going to be okay and then leaves your house with a 38 to 17 victory.
Seattle – If you are looking to take a risk, then Seattle may be the team to provide you with that gift. While the majority of participants will be taking either Denver or Cincinnati this week, you can potentially take Seattle and hope one of those other two teams loses on Sunday. I chose Seattle because there is a good chance they are still available for a selection and they have a relatively easy opponent. The biggest problem for the Seahawks, and this where all the risk comes, is that they are a terrible road team. However, their 1-4 road record is a bit deceiving in that they have been fairly competitive in all those games: they lost to Detroit by four on a last second touchdown, outplayed by San Fran but only lost by seven, beat the Panthers in Carolina, lost to the Rams by six, and got Kolbed in Arizona late in the game and lost by four. They could have easily won two of those games and gone into this game with a 3-2 road record. I say they use the bye week to rest up and CSI Miami into a loss.
Tennessee, Potential Suicide – Why are the Titans the fifth most selected suicide team this Sunday? For one, they are playing on the road in a division game, two negatives unless your quarterback rhymes with Meyton Panning. Two, everyone seems to think the Jaguars are a joke and a gimme win every week when they just took the first place Texans late into overtime on the road. Three, Blaine Gabbert will not be starting this game. Four, the Titans are a more sporadic team than an NHL labour talk meeting. Five, there is no five, but you have been warned that you may feel really, really bad, if you lose to a team led by a productive Chad Henne.