Well, I picked a bad week to do a supersized crop of picks, especially with a Thursday night game among them. This is going to be as short & sweet as possible, not only because of that game, but our Steelers (whose games we never pick) are playing tonight too, so the goal is to have this posted before kickoff. Nothing like cutting it close, right??
My Season: 32-27
Zach’s Season: 28-31
North Carolina at Pitt (-5)
Head coach Mack Brown probably has the Tar Heels heading in the right direction, although the numbers don’t necessarily reflect that. At 4-5 they’re just fighting for bowl eligibility at this point. Conversely, the 6-3 Panthers are still in the thick of the race to lose to Clemson in the ACC title game. Pitt has the theoretical home field advantage, but I suspect a lot of fans will be disguised as empty seats at Heinz Field while many folks stay home to watch the Steelers game. Zach likes what Brown is doing at UNC. He feels like this is going to be a really close game one way or another, so he’s rolling with the underdogs to atleast cover.
My Pick: North Carolina
Z’s Pick: North Carolina
Texas at Iowa St. (-6.5)
I really thought the Cyclones would be much better this season, but at 5-4 they’ve not met my high expectations. Meanwhile, the 6-3 Longhorns are just about where most believed they’d be but surprisingly find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the Big 12 title game, making this a must-win. I don’t usually abandon my pre-season picks too easily, but despite having the home field I think Iowa St. will fall to a more talented Texas team. Zach sees Texas spiraling a bit since the Red River Shootout a month ago, and retains a lot more faith in Iowa St. than me. But he’s not comfortable with the points and feels like Texas will atleast cover on the road.
My Pick: Texas
Z’s Pick: Texas
Michigan St. at Michigan (-13.5)
The talking heads always say to throw out the records when it comes to rivalry games. Are they right?? The Spartans come into this weekend below .500 and losers of four straight. Conversely, the Wolverines are 7-2, although a lot of dominoes are going to need to fall just right for them to play in the Big Ten title game. The Big House is a significant home field advantage, but is it two TDs big?? Those kind of points make me nervous….especially in a rivalry game…but I’m going to roll with the oddsmakers. Zach, on the other hand, doesn’t like the points. He likes the Wolverines at home but doesn’t feel like their offense is clicking just yet and thinks State will put up enough of a fight to cover.
My Pick: Michigan
Z’s Pick: Michigan State
TCU (-3) at Texas Tech
Do I wish my WVU Mountaineers could play in a more…geographically appropriate…conference?? Yes. But I must admit that the Big 12 is sufficiently entertaining. Both teams come into this game at 4-5, so a win seems like it’d be huge as far as bowl eligibility. The Horned Frogs have the home field, but I think I lean toward the underdog Red Raiders to get a late game winning field goal in a high scoring shootout. Zach likes TCU to come up with a big stop late in the game to come out on top.
My Pick: Texas Tech
Z’s Pick: TCU
Georgia (-3) at Auburn
The Bulldogs would be in the playoff if it were played today, but we found out a week ago just how precarious those four positions can be. Auburn still harbors conference title & playoff hopes as well, although their climb will be quite tricky. I love chaos when it comes to the playoff, and War Eagle has a nice home field, so I’m pulling the trigger on an upset. Zach is intrigued by Auburn’s freshman QB Bo Nix, but feels like Georgia is the better team right now.
My Pick: Auburn
Z’s Pick: Georgia
Oklahoma (-10) at Baylor
I don’t think anybody would have predicted a couple of months ago that this game would be so huge, but that’s exactly what it is. It’s a must win for the undefeated Bears who are getting zero respect from the playoff committee, and almost as important for the Sooners, whose inexplicable stumble at Kansas St. a couple of weeks ago could end up being quite costly. It looks like the playoff committee aren’t the only ones disregarding Baylor…when was the last time an undefeated home team in November was a ten point underdog?? I’m hoping for a close & exciting game, so I have to pull for Baylor. Like so many others Zach doesn’t believe Baylor is the real deal. He thinks they might keep it close for three quarters but the athletically superior Sooners will pull away for a comfortable victory.
My Pick: Baylor
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma
South Carolina at Texas A&M (-10.5)
I’m not sure what to think or how to feel about this game. The Gamecocks are 4-6, but defeated Georgia in double overtime a month ago. The Aggies have one of the toughest schedules in the country but are 6-3. Losing to Alabama, Clemson, & Auburn is nothing to be ashamed of, and they’ll finish the season with road games at Georgia & LSU. A&M needs to go into those final two contests strong, even though they’ve already attained bowl eligibility, which is something South Carolina is still seeking. They call the home crowd in College Station The 12th Man, and this would be an excellent week to earn that nickname. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M
Dallas (-3.5) at Detroit
Few things in life give me more pleasure than seeing the Cowboys lose, especially when so many “experts” propped them up as Super Bowl contenders not that long ago. At 5-4 they are in a dogfight with the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East, but I feel like Philly is trending upward while Dallas is heading in the other direction. Perhaps that is wishful thinking. Anyway, the Lions are who I thought they’d be, although they’ve battled in every single game. The Vibes are telling me that this could be a one point game either way, so I’m going to be cheering on the home underdogs. Zach doesn’t like the Cowboys any more than I do, but he just can’t get behind Detroit backup QB Jeff Driskel, who is likely to sub for a second straight week while Matthew Stafford deals with a back injury.
My Pick: Detroit
Z’s Pick: Dallas
New Orleans (-5.5) at Tampa Bay
Speaking of divisional dogfights…well, I guess that really doesn’t apply to the NFC South. Despite the injury & absence of QB Drew Brees the Saints are going to win the division easily, especially now that Brees is back. I realize that the Bucs have the home field this week, but just like the oddsmakers I don’t think it matters. Zach agrees.
My Pick: New Orleans
Z’s Pick: New Orleans
Houston at Baltimore (-4)
I’ve been on Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson since college, and now the “experts” are beginning to recognize him as one of the best in the NFL. Having said that, the talking heads are really buzzing about his counterpart in this game, Ravens’ signal caller and former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who has already surpassed retired NBA baller Lamar Odom and former U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander on the list of best Lamars. Despite the quarterbacks getting all the hype I suspect this game will be decided by special teams, time of possession, & turnovers, and I think Houston is the better overall team. Zach thinks Baltimore might overlook Houston a bit and get taken by surprise.
My Pick: Houston
Z’s Pick: Houston
Kansas City (-3.5) at LA Chargers
The Chargers have failed to live up to my lofty expectations and currently sit third in the AFC West. However, some chinks in the armor of the Chiefs have been spotted, and their division lead is by no means safe. This is the Monday night game, so we’re all hoping for an entertaining battle. I’m not sure the home field is any kind of an advantage for the transplanted Chargers, and I think Kansas City wins this one rather comfortably. Zach thinks KC’s defense might cost them down the line but has no doubt they’ll take care of business this week.
My Pick: Kansas City
Z’s Pick: Kansas City