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.

Then-Cardinals receiver Nate Poole got a key to the city of Green Bay when he caught the winning touchdown to beat the Vikings and knock them out of the playoff race and put the Packers in the post-season as time expired in the 2003 regular season.

I’m sure that rings a bell or two.

Well, after weeks upon weeks of picking the Browns as the upset special here, all it took for them to avoid going 0-16 was last week’s white-flag prediction that the Chargers would beat them by 50.

Browns win. You’re welcome, Cleveland. Now where’s my key?

The 11-4 record last week was a Christmas miracle. Going 8-6 against the spread was a nice change in sides of the weekly .500 mark. Of course, thanks goes out to Bill Belichick. When you pick the predictable Patriots to win by 35, Bill goes out and gives you a 38-point win.



Bears plus-5 1/2 at Vikings. The Pick: Vikings 24, Bears 19

Why?: I think the 7-8 home team playing out the string on New Year’s Day will have more energy and desire not to stink up the season finale than the 3-12 road team playing out the string on New Year’s Day.

LAST WEEK: Vikings plus-6 1/2 at Packers: The Pick: Packers 27, Vikings 24. The Result: Packers 38, Vikings 25. Record: 6-7.


Packers minus-3 1/2 at Lions. The Pick: Lions 38, Packers 31

Why?: I know the Packers have won five straight. I know Aaron Rodgers is, despite the all-too-familiar reports to the contrary, still Aaron Rodgers. And, yes, I know good things haven’t happened to the Lions since the ’50s. But they’re at home in prime time and they have Matthew Stafford, whose season would end fittingly with a fourth-quarter comeback to win Detroit’s first division title since 1993. Also, at some point, the turnover ratio gods will stop smiling upon the Packers (see: A center snapping the ball and it not moving as a Packer falls on it at midfield to set up a touchdown drive). The Packers are plus-12 with no giveaways the past three weeks. If the turnovers start to even out, Green Bay’s defense will be exposed. 

LAST WEEK: Falcons minus-1 1/2 at Panthers: The Pick: Panthers 31, Falcons 27. The Result: Falcons 33, Panthers 16. Record: 4-11.

Other picks:

Cowboys plus-4 1/2 at Eagles: Eagles by 3

Panthers plus-6 1/2 at Buccaneers: Buccaneers by 7

Browns plus-6 1/2 at Steelers: Steelers by 3

Texans plus-3 1/2 at Titans: Texans by 6

Ravens plus-2 1/2 at Bengals: Bengals by 3

Bills minus-5 1/2 at Jets: Bills by 6

Jaguars plus-4 1/2 at Colts: Colts by 10

Patriots minus-9 1/2 at Dolphins: Patriots by 10

Seahawks minus-10 1/2 at 49ers: Seahawks by 7

Cardinals minus-6 1/2 at Rams: Cardinals by 3

Saints plus-6 1/2 at Falcons: Falcons by 2

Raiders plus-1 1/2 at Broncos: Broncos by 7

Chiefs minus-4 1/2 at Chargers: Chiefs by 7

Giants plus-8 1/2 at Redskins: Redskins by 3

Record Last week/season: 11-4 / 115-79-2

Vs. spread Last week/season: 8-6 / 93-102

CRAIG’S LIST: NFL Power Rankings

1, Patriots (13-2)

2, Cowboys (13-2)

3, Raiders (12-3)

4, Falcons (10-5)

5, Steelers (10-5)

6, Chiefs (11-4)

7, Packers (9-6)

8, Dolphins (10-5)

9, Texans (9-6)

10, Lions (9-6)

11, Ravens (8-7)

12, Eagles (6-9)

13, Giants (10-5)

14, Cardinals (6-8-1)

15, Seahawks (9-5-1)

16, Redskins (8-6-1)

17, Saints (7-8)

18, Buccaneers (8-7)

19, Broncos (8-7)

20, Colts (7-8)

21, Panthers (6-9)

22, Bills (7-8)

23, Vikings (7-8)

24, Bengals (5-9-1)

25, Jaguars (3-12)

26, Titans (8-7)

27, Jets (4-11)

28, Bears (3-12)

29, 49ers (2-13)

30, Rams (4-11)

31, Browns (1-14)

32, Chargers (5-10)

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