For decades, The News has been publishing weekly NFL picks, made against the point spread, by a group of sports staffers. This is done for entertainment purposes only although there’s a good amount of pride at stake – and ribbing involved.
Earlier this season, Jerry Sullivan sent in his picks and said they felt like 2-10. Turns out he was overconfident. He went 1-11-1.
Like longtime picker and multi-time pick champion Milt Northrop says: It’s just as easy to miss ‘em all as hit ‘em all. (No one in the history of News staff selections – which covers more than three decades – has done either during a regular-season week).
Staff selections are proof that picking most every NFL game, week after week, is a futile exercise and a bottomless source of exasperation.
Just look at these six games from Sunday – all of them reasons never to seriously bet the NFL.
- Patriots (-7½) at Jets – Leading by 5, New England faces a third-and-2 from the New York 26 with 1:37 remaining. If Pats fail to convert they’re looking at about a 43-yard field goal attempt to cover. Instead, LaGarrette Blount breaks away to the 3, Pats kneel out the clock 9 feet from the end zone and 22-17 victory leaves NE backers fuming. (I had the Pats as my best bet).
- Ravens (-4½) vs. Bengals – Down 5, Cincy drives from own 19 to Baltimore 16 with 1:16 remaining. From there it goes incomplete/incomplete/strip sack and Ravens hold on to cover by a half point, 19-14. (I had the Ravens).
- Titans (-5) at Bears – Chicago leads in most statistical categories and is primed for an upset behind first-time starter Matt Barkley. Bears drive from own 35 to a first down at Tennessee 7 with less than a minute remaining. Four straight incompletions doom the drive and the Titans hold on, 27-21, to cover by one. (I had the Bears).
- Raiders (-3½) vs. Panthers – Oakland appears to have this one in hand at 24-7, falls behind, 32-24, ties it at 32 and wins 35-32, on Sebastian Janikowski’s field goal with 1:47 remaining to miss covering by a half point. (I had the Panthers).
- Dolphins (-8) vs. 49ers – Miami leads, 31-14, with 11:41 left and Dolphin backers are taking a Sharpie and marking this one in the win column. Still nothing to fear when the one-win 49ers cut it to 31-21 on a 75-yard drive with 7:52 remaining. Plenty to fear when San Fran starts marching again and closes within seven on a field goal with 2:20 to go. And then the 49ers do it again, marching to the Dolphins 5 with five seconds left. At this point, “neutral” fans backing the Fish want a Miami loss on principle. They don’t even get that satisfaction. Colin Kaepernick throws incomplete, then is tackled at the 2 and Miami, up 17 early in the fourth quarter, wins, 31-24, and fails to cover. (I had the 49ers).
- Broncos (-3) vs. Chiefs – Life is good for Bronco backers as Denver takes 24-16 lead with 3 minutes left in a game dominated by defense. Not so fast. Here come the Chiefs, dinking here, dunking there, until they’re in the red zone. Then Alex Smith and Tyreek Hill connect on a 3-yard replay-awarded touchdown pass with 12 seconds left. Bronco backers need OT at this point and get it when Chiefs convert two-point try. Reprieve! Broncs drive to go-ahead field goal in OT to set up push possibility, which is suddenly looking good to their backers. Chiefs counter with FG of their own. Broncs' next drive stalls at Chiefs 44 and Broncs coach Gary Kubiak – much to the delight of Denver backers begging for a push – is contemplating a 62-yard do-or-likely-die FG attempt. The try misses badly. Chiefs come down and kick FG to win outright, 30-27. (I had the Broncos).
Just another Sunday in the NFL.