Columns & Blogs

NFL picks: Once more, with feeling (and 3 locks)

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) used to run an offense like a basketball point guard, but now that seems like a long time ago.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) used to run an offense like a basketball point guard, but now that seems like a long time ago. AP

These will be my final NFL picks for the Observer. I’m retiring on Friday.

You can still catch them on each Friday morning on the John Boy & Billy Big Show. But as far as the printed product goes, this is it.

I picked my final Thursday game on Twitter. I predicted that Green Bay would beat Detroit by 4. It’s odd, but I can’t even remember who won or by how many. You want me to check? Sure, why not.

Whoa. The Packers won by 4.

Last week: 10-6

Season: 108-68

Last week’s Locks: 1-2

Season: 7-10

This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS:

Lock No. 1

Carolina (minus-6) 31, NEW ORLEANS 20: If all we knew about the Saints was what they did this season we’d consider them a poorly coached bottom feeder. But we remember how good they were when quarterback Drew Brees ran the team’s fastbreak offense as if he were a point guard.

The Saints have lost their past two games by a combined score of 72-20, on the road to Houston and then Washington.

I think for old time’s sake, the Saints have moments on Sunday. But they can’t stop an adult team from moving the ball, and that’s unlikely to change.

Lock No. 2

Arizona (minus-6) 29, ST. LOUIS 20: I’m not going to finish my season with more Lock losses than victories. There’s something wrong with the Rams. Maybe they’re mad they didn’t get to move to Los Angeles. You already have two teams in California with terrible stadiums – the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers – owned by longtime NFL families. Why should the Rams get to skip out on their loyal (when they have a reason to be) fans? The Cardinals lose Chris Johnson, the league’s eighth leading rusher. But they have enough in reserve to win this one handily.

Lock No. 3

TAMPA BAY (plus-1) 23, Atlanta 20 Detailed statistical analysis: The Buccaneers are pretty good. The Falcons aren’t. Tampa Bay has improved considerably since the beginning of the season. Atlanta has regressed.

Lock No. 4: WASHINGTON (minus-3 1/2) 33, Dallas 26

Washington hasn’t won a road game for, like, 10 years. But it has won five straight at home. The Cowboys are much more effective going at each other on the bench than at opponents on the field. They can’t even pretend they like each other. Coaches have lost control. They’re like the Miami Dolphins West.

The rest

MINNESOTA 26, Seattle 24

TENNESSEE 20, Jacksonville 16

CHICAGO 26, San Francisco 17

NEW YORK GIANTS 23, N.Y. Jets 20

BUFFALO 23, Houston 21

MIAMI 19, Baltimore 16

Cincinnati 29, CLEVELAND 20

Denver 24, SAN DIEGO 20

Kansas City 26, OAKLAND 23

NEW ENGLAND 29, Philadelphia 20

PITTSBURGH 31, Indianapolis 28