By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- It's the end of October, and most of the news surrounding the NFL is bad. Right?
You've got Roger Goodell and the owners deciding to do everything in their power to prevent the world from knowing just how awful the working conditions were for women within the Washington Football Team organization. It is, genuinely, despicable.
You've also got the owners on the verge of a 32-way fist fight regarding Stan Kroenke's lack of enjoyment for getting bamboozled into footing the bill for the insane legal fees associated with ditching the city of St. Louis for the promise of that sweet SoCal money. And when 30 billionaires fight, none of us win, that's for sure. (Dear Stan Kroenke, can I have like fifty dollars? Would be sweet. Thanks in advance.)
You've also got Deshaun Watson trade rumors flying every which way. That would be fun if not for, well, everything about why he's available in a trade. Not very fun.
Writing about those topics? You bet it's a downer. Necessary at times, but nevertheless a drain on one's spirit.
With that in mind, we're just going to do some picks here ... but not before I address the most controversial topic in the world. That topic, of course, in the spirit of Halloween, is simple.
The topic is candy corn.
More specifically, it's a message: Shut up already about candy corn, people. Just zip your sugary lips. Please.
There's no need to get into fights about candy corn. If you like candy corn, then bully for you! Grab a handful or two and enjoy that unique sweet/burning sensation on the way down.
If you hate candy corn, then guess what? You don't have to eat any! The Headless Horseman isn't out there shoving the stuff down your gullet, so if you see anyone enjoying it or hear of anyone enjoying it, you are more than free to simply be quiet.
The Constitution of the United States does not require you to tweet your thoughts about candy corn. I assure you, the world will keep on spinning if you keep those in your back pocket. Please, try it. You won't be disappointed when the candy corn discourse fades from your life. I won't mind either. Feels like a win-win.
Man. Did not mean to get so controversial. Suppose it was unavoidable. Such is our current climate.
OK, on the picks.
(Wednesday lines; Home team in CAPS)
ARIZONA (-6.5) over Green Bay
Honestly, I give up on Thursdays. I am now 2-5 picking Thursday night games. Two and freaking five. I've been correct on 61 percent of all non-Thursday games this year. Yet I've been wrong 71.5 percent of the time on Thursday. I don't get it.
So in this one, you've got no Davante Adams, you've got no Allen Lazard, you've got no Joe Barry. Short week. Travel. Against an undefeated team. The Packers are going to get smoked, right? RIGHT!?
I don't know. My plan was to go against my real pick, a real internal conflict. But I can't pick the Packers in these circumstances. I look forward to being wrong once again. Very fun. Very cool.
Cincinnati (-10.5) over NEW YORK JETS
The Jets spent their bye week getting demonstrably worse. Then they lost their quarterback and had to use some guy named Mike White. (I still refuse to believe that's a real person.) Then they compounded their Jetsiness by trading for Joseph Vincent Flacco.
The Jets are an embarrassment.
Los Angeles Rams (-14.5) over HOUSTON
The Rams let us all down by failing to cover against Detroit last week. But the Lions also pulled out all the stops -- onside kicks, fake punts, Jared Goff revenge (such as it is). All of that helped the Lions only lose by nine points. Congrats to them.
Unfortunately for the Texans, they literally don't have any tricks up their sleeves. They tried something against the Patriots and ended up having their punter kick the football off a teammate's head. Incredible. Rams by 40.
Tennessee (+1) over INDIANAPOLIS
In a world where playing at home doesn't matter anymore, you're going to want to take the better team, especially when the better team is getting a point.
DETROIT (+3.5) over Philadelphia
Honestly, the Lions are working entirely too hard to not win a football game. Add in Nick Sirianni's little bit here ...
... and I think the Lions are actually going to do it.
(If not, they'll keep it close before losing in heart-breaking fashion. Doesn't really impact me either way.)
Pittsburgh (+3.5) over CLEVELAND
I have a feeling that Baker Mayfield is going to try to play, only to get absolutely smushed again.
San Francisco (-4) over CHICAGO
I hate this game. I hate this pick. Why would the NFL do this to us?
You have to pick someone, so you have to pick the team that has at times looked somewhat functional. The Bears are not that team.
What gives me pause is that Matt Nagy has been out this week due to a positive test, and the dysfunctional Bears might have some sort of substitute teacher type of attitude where they do whatever they want and find success. I'm also terrifically disturbed to have seen the 49ers' primary defensive strategy being "COMMIT PASS INTERFERENCE." It's such a bad strategy. Someone ought to coach them differently.
BUFFALO (-13.5) over Miami
The Dolphins are toast. They can't beat bad teams. They're in that Deshaun Watson cycle. Now they have to go to Buffalo to face a Bills team that beat them 35-0 in Week 2 and is now coming off a bye. These huge lines are scary sometimes. This is not one of those times.
ATLANTA (-3) over Carolina
I'll be honest. I expected the Panthers to turn into a pumpkin after the 3-0 start. They weren't that good. Sam Darnold isn't that good. Christian McCaffrey wasn't going to stay healthy. The Joe Brady praise was a bit over the top.
So the fall back to earth was always coming. I did not know it would be a full on crash. Yeesh. Four straight losses. The Panthers now account for one-third of the non-Dallas wins in the NFC East. They just got pasted by the Giants -- the Giants!
They're due to win again. But also ... are they? They could drop this one, and next week vs. New England, then the following week at Arizona, which would have them going from 3-0 to 3-7.
The Falcons are a great mediocre team. Very little worry with this one.
New England (+6) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Despite last year's 45-0 win, the Patriots won't win this one. They will, however, run all over the Chargers, who have the worst run defense in the NFL. They may even take a late lead ... at which point Justin Herbert will attack a vulnerable secondary and win the game.
Should be fun though.
SEATTLE (-3.5) over Jacksonville
Fun fact: The Seahawks thought they'd be fine with Geno Smith. LOL!
Another fun fact: The Jaguars' last game was in London. This one's in Seattle. Google tells me those locations are 4,781 miles apart. I'd argue that it's even more than that because I'm smarter than computers.
Anyways. The Jaguars are pretty bad.
DENVER (-3) over Washington
There's no right pick here. If anyone tells you that he or she knows the right pick in this game, stop trusting that person. That person is a liar. Smells like beef and cheese. Disgusting.
Tampa Bay (-5.5) over NEW ORLEANS
The Bucs played kind of bad last week. At least offensively, the did. They won by 35 points. That's how good they are. Bet against them at your own risk. (I think that defense is about to put Jameis in a blender, too.)
Dallas (-2) over MINNESOTA
It feels like the Cowboys are due for a nationally televised flop, doesn't it? How long can Mike McCarthy go without costing his team terribly with the world watching? He tried his best in New England and in L.A. this year but lived to tell the tale. It's coming. It must.
Probably not this week though. Dak Prescott dealing with that calf will force the Cowboys to keep it simple and run the bejesus out of the football. The Vikings rank 26th in rushing yards allowed per game and 29th in rushing yards allowed per carry. The Cowboys rank second in rushing yards per game and third in rushing yards per attempt.
Will it play out as simple as it should? Can Mike McCarthy screw that up? Will things get a little spooooky on Halloween night?
Yes to all three.
KANSAS CITY (-10) over New York Giants
Right here, you're faced with a choice. Do you trust your eyeballs, or do you trust the program?
If you trust your eyes, you're running far, far away from the Chiefs, who have legitimately stunk lately. I am sorry for using the "S" word but there's no other way to describe it. They have smelled. Their defense is a bit of a joke, and Patrick Mahomes has looked completely human (against teams that aren't the Eagles). Realistically, they may continue to stink.
But don't you trust the program? Even if the Chiefs don't climb all the way back to the class of the AFC, isn't there enough talent and brainpower there to regain respectability? With an extra day to prepare, with the sting of embarrassment still hovering over them, with the lights of Monday Night Football looming, all the signs point to a get-right game.
Facing one of the worst teams in the NFL, despite last weekend's result, certainly helps matters, too.
Last week: 7-6
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