NFL Week 4 picks 2012

The refs are back for Week 4 and it’s almost hard to believe how supportive the public has been. How many times have you ever heard: “Yeah, we lost, but the refs we’re great today!”?

Yeah, never. People don’t like referees. It’s a thankless job with an approval rating that will rarely top 50 percent.

More often than not, the refs are a scapegoat for a player or team looking for a reason other than that they weren’t good enough.

And yet, on every team I’ve ever played on, in every sport, at every level, there have been officials who were … less than perfect. It’s just human nature and even “professional” refs will still make mistakes.

Players and fans alike say they’re excited for the return of “real” refs. That’ll last until the first call that goes against them. How long will that take? Two weeks? Five minutes?

Then it’ll just be back to the way things were: with those darn refs blowing the game for you once again. At least now they’ll be informed mistakes.

(Oh, and it’s Patriots week. I’m taking the Bills +4 with a fourth-quarter drive making the difference in the game.)

New England at Buffalo (+4) — Bills

Minnesota (+4½) at Detroit — Lions

Carolina (+7) at Atlanta — Atlanta

San Francisco at N.Y. Jets (+4) — 49ers

San Diego at Kansas City (+1) — Chiefs

Tennessee (+12) at Houston –Houston

Seattle at St. Louis (+2½) — Seattle

Miami (+6½) at Arizona — Arizona

Oakland (+6½) at Denver — Denver

Cincinnati at Jacksonville (+ 2½) — Jags

New Orleans (+7½) at Green Bay — Green Bay

Washington (+3) at Tampa Bay — Tampa

N.Y. Giants (+2) at Philadelphia — Giants*

Chicago (+3½) at Dallas — Chicago

Overall:

Graham 23-19-3
DiCesare 22-20-3
Skurski 20-22-3
Sullivan, Northrop 15-27-3
Gaughan 14-28-3
IAGS 12-30-3

Best Bets:

Gaughan 2-0-1
IAGS, DiCesare 2-1
Skurski, Sullivan 1-1-1
Northrop 1-2
Graham 0-2-1

Last week:

Bills at Cleveland (+3) — Bills
Bills 24-14. Win

St. Louis (+7½) at Chicago — Rams
Bears 23-6. Loss

Tampa Bay (+7) at Dallas — Dallas
Cowboys 16-10. Loss

San Francisco at Minnesota (+7) — 49ers
Vikings 24-13. Loss

Detroit at Tennessee (+3½) — Detroit
Titans 44-41. Loss

Cincinnati (+3½) at Washington — Redskins
Bengals 38-31. Loss

Jets at Miami (+3) — Jets
Jets 23-20. Push

Kansas City (+9) at New Orleans — Saints
Chiefs 27-24. Loss

Jacksonville (+3) at Indianapolis — Colts
Jacksonville 22-17. Loss

Philadelphia at Arizona (+4) — Cardinals
Cardinals 27-6. Win

Atlanta (+3) at San Diego — Falcons*
Falcons 27-3. Win

Houston at Denver (+2) — Broncos
Houston 31-25. Loss

Pittsburgh at Oakland (+4) — Steelers
Raiders 34-31. Loss

New England (+3) at Baltimore — Pats
Ravens 31-30. Win

Green Bay at Seattle (+3½) — Green Bay
Seahawks 14-12. Loss

* Best bet

Largest line of the season: Arizona +13.5 at New England (Week 2)

NFL Week 17 picks

Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled since signing his extension. A poor finale may have even more fans calling for a quarterback in the first round of the draft.

The last week of the NFL season means it’s the last week for football picks. Milt Northrop leads the Buffalo News picks at 118-105-7. I’m tied in second with Jay Skurski at 114-109-7, with the rest of the News cast on the outside looking in.

But let’s be honest, they don’t know that I’m playing along. So it’s really between Milt and Jay, but I like winning at things so we’re keeping this up.

The tiebreaker is best bets, but I sort of forgot to keep doing those midway through the year. My bad … I’ll concede a tie. Here’s what the standings look like:

Northrop: 118-105-7
Skurski: 114-109-7
Always Game Seven 114-109-7
Gaughan: 107-116-7
McKissic: 107-116-7
DiCesare: 106-117-7
Sullivan: 104-119-7

The Bills play in Foxboro this weekend, where they haven’t won since 2000. Week 17 games are tricky to pick and hard for fans to deal with because we aren’t entirely sure what we want.

We always want the Bills to win. That’s a given. But at the same time, we’d hate for something stupid to happen, like winning a meaningless game that would hurt our draft position. For a team that was thinking playoffs the first two months of the season, we sure have a lot of holes to fill — so much so that we can’t even agree on which to fill first, but that’s another story for another time.

With a loss, the Bills can pick inside the top 10. With a win, we could move as far back as 16. It doesn’t sound like much, but it does matter. And besides, that another 45 minutes you have to watch the draft.

The Patriots have won seven straight and can clinch home-field with a win. Tom Brady is probable while offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer are out. How long will the starters play? Only The Hoodie knows and he’s not telling. For the rest of us, it’s all guesswork. I think Brady gets his team up a bunch and then comes out … leaving garbage time to kill bets this week.

Bills (+11 1/2) at New England
New England

Washington (+9) at Philadelphia
Washington

Tampa Bay (+12) at Atlanta
Atlanta

San Francisco at St. Louis (+10 1/2)
San Francisco

Chicago (+1) at Minnesota
Minnesota

Detroit at Green Bay (+3 1/2)
Detroit

Carolina (+8 1/2) at New Orleans
Carolina

Tennessee at Houston (+3)
Houston

Baltimore at Cincinnati (+3)
Cincinnati

Pittsburgh at Cleveland (+7)
Pittsburgh

Indianapolis (+3 1/2) at Jacksonville
Indianapolis

Jets (+2) at Miami
Miami

San Diego (+3) at Oakland
Oakland

Kansas City (+3 1/2) at Denver
Denver

Seattle (+3) at Arizona
Seattle

Dallas (+3) at Giants
Giants

Last week

Denver at Bills (+3)
Denver
Bills 40-14. Loss
Oakland (+1 1/2) at Kansas City
Oakland
Raiders 16-13 (OT). Win
Jacksonville (+7 1/2) at Tennessee
Tennessee
Titans 23-17. Loss
Arizona (+4) at Cincinnati
Arizona
Bengals 23-17. Loss
Miami (+9) at New England
New England
Pats 27-24. Loss
Cleveland (+13) at Baltimore
Cleveland
Ravens 20-14. Win
Giants (+3) at Jets
Giants
Giants 29-14. Win
Minnesota (+6 1/2) at Washington
Washington
Vikings 33-26. Win
Tampa Bay (+7 1/2) at Carolina
Carolina
Panthers 48-16. Win
St. Louis (+16) at Pittsburgh
St. Louis
Steelers 27-0. Loss
San Diego (+2 1/2) at Detroit
Detroit
Lions 38-10. Win
San Francisco at Seattle (+2 1/2)
San Francisco
49ers 19-17. Loss
Philadelphia (+2) at Dallas
Philadelphia
Eagles 20-7. Win
Chicago (+13) at Green Bay
Chicago
Packers 35-21.  Loss
Atlanta (+6 1/2) at New Orleans
New Orleans
Saints 45-16. Win
8-7

NFL Week 3 picks

Who would have thought Week 3’s only matchup of 2-0 teams would be New England versus Buffalo? The News gave the Bills eight and a half points, but even with Buffalo’s great play this season, I like the Patriots by double digits.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has performed admirably this season, but the Patriots defense will come at him like nothing he has seen so far.

New England (-8.5) over BUFFALO

San Francisco (+2.5) over CINCINNATI

NEW ORLEANS (-4) over Houston

Giants (+7) over PHILADELPHIA

CLEVELAND (-2.5) over MIAMI*

TENNESSEE (-7) over Denver

Detroit (-3.5) over MINNESOTA

CAROLINA (-3.5) over Jacksonville

SAN DIEGO (-14.5) over Kansas City

Jets (-3.5) over OAKLAND

Baltimore (-4) over ST. LOUIS*

Atlanta (+1.5) over TAMPA BAY

Arizona (-3) over SEATTLE

CHICAGO (+3.5) over Green Bay

Pittsburgh (-10.5) over INDIANAPOLIS

Washington (+6) over DALLAS

Last week:
BUFFALO (-3) over Oakland
Bills 38-35. Win
NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) over Chicago
Saints 30-13. Win
DETROIT (-8) over Kansas City
Lions 48-3. Win
JETS (-9.5) over Jacksonville
Jets 32-3. Win
Arizona (+3.5) over WASHINGTON
Redskins 22-21. Win
Baltimore (-6) over TENNESSEE
Titans 26-13. Loss
Seattle (+14) over PITTSBURGH
Steelers 24-0. Loss
CAROLINA (+10) over Green Bay
Packers 30-23. Win
Tampa Bay (+3) over MINNESOTA
Bucs 24-20. Win
INDIANAPOLIS (+2) over Cleveland
Browns 27-19. Loss
Dallas (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO
Cowboys 27-24. Push
Houston (-3) over MIAMI
Texans 23-13. Win
NEW ENGLAND (-7) over San Diego
Pats 35-21. Win
Cincinnati (+3.5) over DENVER
Broncos 24-22. Win
Philadelphia (-2.5) over ATLANTA*
Falcons 35-31. Loss
GIANTS (-6) over ST. LOUIS
NYG 28-16. Win
11-4-1, 0-1

Overall (best bets):
Always Game Seven 16-12-3 (0-1-1)
Skurski 15-13-3 (0-2)
Northrop 14-14-3 (1-0-1)
Sullivan 14-14-3 (0-1-1)
DiCesare 13-15-3 (0-0-1)
McKissic 11-17-3 (1-1)
Gaughan 11-17-3 (0-1-1)