Each Saturday morning during the NFL season, we’ll wake up early, take a hearty cut at predicting the unpredictable league, wince at how it went the week before and ponder the definition of insanity.

Adrian Peterson should have a happy return, although NFL rules probably prohibit him from wearing a Dash Radio helmet decal. We’ve jumped off the Browns’ Last-Glimmer-of-HopeWagon. And for the first time since the facemask was invented, we’re picking against the Patriots.

Wait, the doorbell just rang.

Sorry. It was Bill Belichick. He just beat us 58-0 and vowed to beat our grandchildren 68-0 whenever they’re drafted into this world.

Week 14 was a decent week — 10-5 straight-up and 9-6 against the spread — for a guy still smart enough not to put actual money on NFL picks. As for this week, I like a handful of underdogs.

In addition to the Broncos beating the Patriots (Sorry, Bill), I like the Bengals to beat the Steelers at home; the Saints to beat the Cardinals on the road; the Chargers to beat the Raiders at home; and the Bucs to beat the Cowboys at Dallas.

Call me crazy on that last one, but the Bucs are playing the best defense in the league right now. They’re also the more desperate team. And do you honestly think we’re going to get through the regular season without ESPN ramping up the Should-Tony-Romo-Play!!!! chatter even further?



Colts plus-4 1/2 at Vikings: The Pick: Vikings 28, Colts 19

Why?: If I were Adrian Peterson and watched tape of the Colts’ run defense last week against Houston (41 carries, 185 yards, 4.5 average, 1 TD), I’d have moved up my return date by a week also. If Peterson is good to go, even the Vikings and their decimated O-line should be able to run the ball well enough to help Sam Bradford put up more points than is typical of this end zone-challenged offense. The key is slamming the door on Frank Gore immediately, making Indy’s offense one-dimensional and unleashing a Vikings pass rush that gets even better when it’s at home.

LAST WEEK: Vikings minus-3 1/2 at Jaguars: The Pick: Vikings 15, Jaguars 9. The Result: Vikings 25, Jaguars 16. Record: 5-6.


Patriots minus-2 1/2 at Broncos: The Pick: Broncos 24, Patriots 21

Why?: Hey, even the Patriots get the occasional hiccup on their way to winning the AFC East for the 312th straight year. The Broncos are at home and are the much, much, much more desperate team. They still have a pretty darn good defense leftover from that Super Bowl team. As for the quarterback(s), well … . (P.S. Yes, I couldn’t take picking the Browns as the upset special any longer. I jumped from the ledge of the Factory of Sadness. The next time they try will be the next time I try to pick them).

LAST WEEK: Bengals minus-5 1/2 at Browns: The Pick: Browns 18, Bengals 17. The Result: Bengals 23, Browns 10. Record: 4-9.

Other picks:

Dolphins minus-2 1/2 at Jets: Dolphins by 12

Browns plus-10 1/2 at Buffalo: Bills by 43

Titans plus-5 1/2 at Chiefs: Chiefs by 7

Jaguars plus-6 1/2 at Texans: Texans by 10

Steelers minus-3 1/2 at Bengals: Bengals by 3

Packers minus-6 1/2 at Bears: Packers by 21

Lions plus-4 1/2 at Giants: Giants by 7

Eagles plus-5 1/2 at Ravens: Ravens by 7

49ers plus-14 1/2 at Falcons: Falcons by 28

Saints plus-2 1/2 at Cardinals: Saints by 7

Raiders minus-2 1/2 at Chargers: Chargers by 3

Buccaneers plus-7 1/2 at Cowboys: Bucs by 3

Panthers plus-4 1/2 at Redskins: Redskins by 7

Record Last week/season: 10-5 / 96-68-2

Vs. spread Last week/season: 9-6 / 79-87

CRAIG’S LIST: NFL Power Rankings

1, Patriots (11-2)

2, Chiefs (10-3)

3, Giants (9-4)

4, Cowboys (11-2)

5, Raiders (10-3)

6, Lions (9-4)

7, Falcons (8-5)

8, Buccaneers (8-5)

9, Steelers (8-5)

10, Ravens (7-6)

11, Packers (7-6)

12, Seahawks (9-4-1)

13, Dolphins (8-5)

14, Titans (7-6)

15, Broncos (8-5)

16, Vikings (7-6)

17, Redskins (7-5-1)

18, Texans (7-6)

19, Bills (6-7)

20, Bengals (5-7-1)

21, Panthers (5-8)

22, Colts (6-7)

23, Cardinals (5-7-1)

24, Eagles (5-8)

25, Chargers (5-8)

26, Saints (5-8)

27, Jets (4-9)

28, Bears (3-10)

29, Rams (4-10)

30, Jaguars (2-11)

31, 49ers (1-12)

32, Browns (0-13)

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Adrian Peterson says he'll play Sunday against the Colts

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Adrian Peterson moved to active roster as Vikings make playoff push