By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- We're at the point of the season where you can't help but wonder: Is any team in the NFL actually good? Like real life, bright lights, big city good?
Because it doesn't really feel like there is one.
That is, of course, an overreaction. Seasons are long. Rarely are teams dominant from September through February. Between injuries, and player development, and team growth, and weather, and stakes, and 10 million different variables, teams change. They mutate.
It makes sense. But (as someone trying to pick every single game correctly to prove to the world what a genius he is), it is a bit maddening.
The Titans remain the best-looking team in the AFC. They've also lost to the New York Jets. That's abominable. We can say no more.
The Cardinals were supposed to be good. And if they lost with dignity to the Panthers (not good), we could excuse it as the result of being without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. But they got smoked. At home. By the Panthers. (The Panthers were fresh off a blowout loss at home themselves to a medium Patriots team.)
The Packers might be good. Aaron Rodgers' whole thing was ... a thing. But they also didn't put the Seahawks (not good) away until late. They were already lacking big offensive talent outside of Davante Adams before Aaron Jones knee sprain, so we'll see how good they are.
The Cowboys are pretty good. Maybe the Bills, too. They both have ugly losses on their résumés -- with the Bills' loss in Jacksonville being perhaps the ghastliest gaffe of the season.
The Bucs and Chiefs look like they should be good. Their inconsistent results say otherwise.
Just when you thought the Ravens might be good, they face-planted in Miami.
Technically, this is all great for the league. It's better for viewership and attention and revenue and everything else if we don't actually know who's going to win every game. That's fine. I just wish we knew ... a little bit more than we do.
OK. Crying over. Maybe that was just a sad, whiney complaint after my first losing week of picks. Who's to say, really?
New England (-6.5) over ATLANTA
As someone who is now 2-8 (TWO AND EIGHT!) on Thursday Night Football, do I even bother giving an explanation? I don't know the right answer to that.
I'll just say the short week and travel are concerning. BUT. The spunkiness of the Falcons is fully faded. And Cordarrelle Patterson's got a bum ankle.
I am officially broken by Thursday Night Football, though. Broken. Busted.
BUFFALO (-7) over Indianapolis
There's no game that screams out "BE CAREFUL - YOU JUST NOTED HOW EVERYONE IS ACTUALLY KIND OF BAD" quite like this one. Feels like a trap.
San Francisco (-6.5) over JACKSONVILLE
I know that they technically competed last week, but it's best to continue going against the Jags as much as possible this year.
Washington (+3.5) over CAROLINA
I feel like the Panthers have no choice but to start Cam Newton. But I also feel there's no way he's caught up to speed in a week of work to be able to effectively run the offense for a full game. His "I'M BACK" celebration was a highlight of the season, though, so I'm dropping it in here:
I didn't know his voice could get that high.
New Orleans (+1.5) over PHILADELPHIA
This may be the "Are They Actually Really Bad?" Bowl. Every time the Eagles teeter on that edge, they win. And the Saints are fresh off back-to-back losses. The Titans loss is understandable. Falcons loss, not so much.
Long story short, flip a coin and call it a day.
Miami (-3) over NEW YORK JETS
Jet Nation (is that a thing?) turns its lonely eyes on Joe Flacco. I'm sure it'll go great.
Not enough has been made about the fact that the Jets, while sitting at 1-5, with their "star" rookie QB injured after starting his career in terrible fashion, gave up an actual draft asset in order to add Joe Flacco to the team. Why? Has anyone asked that? Why? I'd like to ask why? What's the goal? What's the operation like down there? What's going on?
MINNESOTA (+2.5) over Green Bay
My "Bad Pick Of The Week But The NFL Is Dumb So Give It A Whirl."
TENNESSEE (-10.5) over Houston
The average margin of defeat for the Texans during their casual eight-game losing streak is 18.3 points. Per game! That's funny. They've lost by single digits just twice in that span -- by three points to the Patriots (whose O-line was out with COVID) and by eight points against the Dolphins.
CLEVELAND (-10) over Detroit
Was kind of hoping to catch a break with this line, considering the Browns just got SMUSHED by the Patriots. Alas, the Lions are too Liony for a small spread here. They're also too Liony to pick this week, despite their incredibly impressive tie last weekend.
CHICAGO (+6) over Baltimore
I love the Bears plus-six. Two weeks ago they played the Steelers on Monday night and got six points. It was perfect. Feels like a grooved 88 mph fastball up and in. Just turn on that baby and park it. Free money. Love it.
Cincinnati (-1) over LAS VEGAS
Last week I said that the Raiders were dealing with ... a lot. They looked like it. I'm sure they'll put together a good performance at some point before the season ends, but I'm not sure how badly you want to be the first one to predict its arrival.
Dallas (+2.5) over KANSAS CITY
Everybody is saying the Chiefs are back, which feels like the perfect time for them to remind us that they're not back. The Cowboys might have rediscovered a little mojo in pummeling the Falcons last weekend. This one ought to be good.
Arizona (-2.5) over SEATTLE
We always think of the Seahawks as perennial contenders, don't we? Well, they are now 3-6. They've won three playoff games total since the Malcolm Butler interception. They lost a playoff game at home to a team quarterbacked by John Wofford and Jared Goff last year.
I think it's time to finally hang up any idea that this regime of Seahawks will contend for a title again. Crazy.
(I officially unfollowed the Seahawks on Twitter this week. It became worthless to even mock their 12ness anymore.)
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-5.5) over Pittsburgh
The NFL world will spend Sunday night wondering ... wait, is anybody good?
TAMPA BAY (-10.5) over New York Giants
I have some real concerns about that Tampa defense. Getting absolutely worked like that by Taylor Heinicke and Antonio Gibson might have a residual effect.
Buuuuuttt, the Bucs have been kind of in a malaise this year. It happens to championship teams, especially when Bruce Arians is the coach. Yet last year, once they started to show signs of actually being bad, Tom Brady started absolutely losing his mind, screaming at everyone on the sidelines, coaching the entire team (and incidentally forgetting when it was fourth down once). His little boo-hoo press conference show last week might be a sign that the 67-year-old quarterback is not going to let anyone get in the way of his psychotic pursuit of winning one million Super Bowls, and a nationally televised game may be the night that jumps them to that next level that we know they're capable of reaching.
(Or maybe they'll just prove that they're also kind of bad. I don't know. Sick of this.)
Last week: 6-8
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