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.

OK, we lied. Last Saturday, some of us were hoofing it around Hazeltine National Golf Club covering the Ryder Cup instead of flailing away at trying to predict the NFL. It was a fun journey that taught me at least two things:

1, All athletes and coaches should spend an hour drinking before doing post-game press conferences. They’re a whole lot more fun and even funnier.

2, You can’t lose an NFL pick if you don’t make all the NFL picks. So Week 4 will go down as the week this guy went undefeated. I picked the Vikings to treat Eli like they always do while beating him. And I didn’t pick the other games. 1 and 0, baby.

As for Week 3, well ….

I just circled back to those picks and realized it’s time to stop picking the Browns to upset anyone with a pulse. I went 6-9 straight-up and 4-11 versus the spread. No money was lost, however, cuz only people rich and/or stupid bet on the NFL.

Week 4 and the first game of Week 5 on Thursday have left the NFL with 11 teams at 1-3 and one team at 1-4. That’s a lot of bad teams chasing the Browns for the first pick in the draft and the rights to a quarterback who will fail miserably if sent to the Cleveland Front. But don’t overestimate the Browns. As the only team still dead enough to be chasing the un-legendary 0-16 Lions, the Browns still have the inside track to the top of the draft.

At the other end of the league, the Broncos, Vikings and Eagles are the only undefeated teams. The Broncos have a first-year starting QB, the Eagles have a rookie starting QB and the Vikings have a guy who showed up from Philly eight days before the opener.

In other words, it might be a quarterback’s league. But it’s not only a quarterback’s league. Defense is kinda important, too.


Texans plus-6 1/2 at  Vikings: Vikings 24, Texans 9.

Why?:  I asked Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on Thursday if he was with Bill Parcells in Dallas when Parcells hung mouse traps throughout the Cowboys facility to remind his players not to look past that week’s opponent. He said he was. I asked him if it helped. He said, “Yeah, just a little reminder. He had a lot of those.” Then Zimmer didn’t like where things were going and said, “Hey, this isn’t a trap game. They’re 3-1 and leading their division. … They have our full attention.” But it does feel like the Vikings — one of only two 4-0 teams in the league — are about to step in something unpleasant. We’ve all placed them atop the football world, or at least the NFC. They have two huge home wins in prime time. Houston is 0-1 on the road, having been shut out 27-0 by New England’s third-string quarterback. And the Vikings have a bye coming up as another distraction. But we’ll bet on Zimmer keeping his boot to 53 necks long enough to get through beating an AFC South team at home.

LAST WEEK: Vikings to beat Giants (No predicted score). The Result: Vikings 24, Giants 10. Record: 3-1.


Falcons plus-4 1/2 at Broncos: Falcons 24, Broncos 21

Why?:  Eventually, Denver’s defense will have a let down and a hot quarterback will tag them with some touchdowns. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it (at least until Matt Ryan gets clobbered on the road and this pick looks foolish).

Last pick (Week 3): Browns plus-10 at Dolphins. Browns 24, Dolphins 23

Saints plus-4 ½ at Giants. The Pick: Browns 24, Dolphins 23. The Result: Dolphins 30, Browns 24 OT. Record: 1-2.

Bears plus-4 1/2 at Colts: Colts by 7

Patriots minus-10 1/2 at Browns: Patriots by 14

Jets plus-7 1/2 at Steelers: Steelers by 10

Eagles minus-2 1/2 at Lions: Eagles by 6

Titans plus-3 1/2 at Dolphins: Titans by 7

Redskins plus-3 1/2 at Ravens: Ravens by 7

Bills plus-2 1/2 at Rams: Rams by 10

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

Chargers plus-3 1/2 at Raiders: Raiders by 7

Giants plus-7 1/2 at Packers: Packers by 3

Buccaneers plus-7 1/2 at Panthers: Panthers by 10

Record (Last picks/Season): 6-9/27-18

Vs. spread (Last picks/Season): 4-11/18-27

CRAIG’S LIST: Power Rankings

1, Broncos (4-0)

2, Vikings (4-0)

3, Patriots (3-1)

4, Eagles (3-0)

5, Packers (2-1)

6, Steelers (3-1)

7, Rams (3-1)

8, Texans (3-1)

9, Seahawks (3-1)

10, Falcons (3-1)

11, Cowboys (3-1)

12, Raiders (3-1)

13, Ravens (3-1)

14, Bengals (2-2)

15, Bills (2-2)

16, Redskins (2-2)

17, Panthers (1-3)

18, Chiefs (2-2)

19, Giants (2-2)

20, Cardinals (2-3)

21, Saints (1-3)

22, Bears (1-3)

23, Lions (1-3)

24, Jaguars (1-3)

25, Colts (1-3)

26, Jets (1-3)

27, Chargers (1-3)

28, Buccaneers (1-3)

29, Titans (1-3)

30, Dolphins (1-3)

31, 49ers (1-4)

32, Browns (0-4)

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