“You must set up a skeleton at the feast, and while you quaffed the wine of success, you must hear a voice behind you whispering, ‘Memento mori!’”—from Oil by Upton Sinclair

Not to send mixed signals here, but the two of these artists have had quite an effect on me, so if I can use both of them in a lead, Why on Earth not?

“Memento mori” is Latin for “Remember your mortality”, and the only way I seem to be able to do that is to live dangerously—extremely dangerously. The closer I come to the other side, the more alive I feel, and that’s scary yet refreshing.

What does this have to do with football? Not a whole lot—but it’s a valid preface nevertheless, because the song and the quote speak for themselves if one’s willing to listen.

This writer went 5-0 in this column for the second straight week, but my overall numbers are still subpar (58-70-2) leaving me without reason to celebrate, even if my tally in this regard (24-21) has yielded a profitable harvest thus far.

Let’s do it…

Oakland @ Baltimore (-7 ½). To begin my season prep for everyone in whom I’m interested, I look for games that’ll be either huge for their success or just plain nightmares. For the Oakland Raiders this game fits the latter’s criteria. To be fair, however, I’m only batting .500 with the Raiders in this regard so far having been right on the Denver matchup in Week Four and wrong on the Atlanta game after their bye. (Full disclosure: I picked each of those contests wrong in this here column, so take that for what it’s worth.) The Ravens have the kind of defense to make the Raiders throw the football and then pin their ears back and attack the passer—spelling doom for Oakland. Flying cross-country after a home loss is bad enough, but the trip home will be worse because the week after this one only spells more hardship for the Silver and Black with the Ain’ts coming to town next week. Get ready for hard times in the other city by the bay.

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville (+3). The Jags, for some strange reason, always play the Colts tough. Even when both of these teams were playoff contenders and Indy was obviously better, bettors would be glued to the side from Florida for no other reason than it was just so. Some things need an explanation; some things don’t. This one certainly doesn’t. But if you need one: The Jags beat the Colts once this year (22-17 in Week Three), and that was a shock to me, for I thought the past was over. Yet I’d rather be wrong with a legitimate reason other than test the adage that history repeats itself.

Denver (-4) @ Carolina. This looks like one of those games that’ll be over at the half, not for the reason you’d think however. Carolina could hang with Denver for thirty minutes like most teams do, yet when the second session rolls around, the Broncos shall explode, for they’re scoring more points than anyone in the NFL in the latter half of ballgames. The Panthers had their moment in the sun last week going into DC and beating the Redskins, and now it’s time to get back to normal. Broncos big.

New York Jets @ Seattle (-6). Given a week off, one can be certain that the Jets realized something: There’s little hope for them this season. Sorry J-E-T-S fans, but this week’s endeavor will be flashes of brilliance ending in utter despair. Coaching wins in the NFL; that’s inarguable. The victor on the sidelines in this one is obvious. The team flying cross-country may look like they’ve got their act together early, yet as time ticks away, they can only hide their flaws for so long. Plus, Seattle’s D is better than most, and the Jet’s O is scattershot at best. Not a good combination. Add the Twelfth Man, and it’s the ‘Hawks all the way.

Houston @ Chicago (-1). This is basically a pick’em. In fact, it was one when it opened, but the money flowed slightly to the home team—and for good reason. Da Bears’ D terrifies people, as it should, yet that’s not the reason I’m on board with the gentle line shift, nor would I claim to be swayed entirely by Soldier Field. The other side of the ball for Chi-Town has been as much a reason for their success as their defense, although when adjusted for inflation, Da Bears’ D scores as often as the offense. Houston may be the class of the AFC as of right now, but coming from the weaker conference makes them vulnerable in this spot. It’ll fun to watch Stupor Bowl contenders battle on Sunday Night Football, so double the fun by laying the points here.


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