Saturday, October 28, 2006

NFL Week 8: Trick or Treat Picks

Well, last week was downright fugly. After enjoying a lofty perch above .500 for several weeks, my lame 3-9-1 mark brings the season record perilously close to break-even, at 43-39-4. But I'm feeling good about this week, as any good prognosticator does on the Saturday before. And I think we're in for a hell of a Monday night contest between the Pats and Vikings. Let's do it.

@Tennessee (+3) vs. Houston: The former team from Houston against the current team that calls Houston home. The Titans have come on in recent weeks, and the Texans enjoyed a rare blowout win against Jacksonville last week, which cost me a fair amount of coin. I hate Jack-Ass Del Rio for playing Byron Leftwich. Anyway, this could be a close game but I'm going with the Titans to pull it out.

@Philadelphia (-7) vs. Jacksonville: Speaking of the Jaguars, Del Rio has already announced (a week late, butthead) that backup David Garrard will start this game in place of Leftwich. After a tough loss to Tampa Bay last week, I think Jim Johnson and his Eagles D will be ready, especially in front of the, um, demanding hometown Philly crowd. Eagles are the pick. (TV game: CBS, 1:00)

@Cincinnati (-3.5) vs. Atlanta: Was it a mirage, or did Mike Vick really toss four TD passes last week? Not sure if that's a credit to Vick or if the Steelers' secondary had concrete boots on. The Falcons' secondary wasn't much better, allowing Charlie Batch of all people to pretty much have his way. On the other side of the ball, the Forrest Gump Bengals are like a box of chocolates - you just don't know what you're going to get. But Carson Palmer is a little better than Batch, and it should be another long day for the Falcons' DBs. Take Cincy.

Tampa Bay (+9) @ NY Giants: A couple of factors conspire, I think, to make this one closer than the spread. The Jints won a big divisional game Monday night, and might have a slight letdown. It's also been pretty darn windy here in the northeast this weekend. I think I just saw an SUV go flying by my window, or maybe it was a small shed. Either way, points may be hard to come by in this one. Giants win it, but Bucs cover the nine. (TV game: Fox, 1:00)

San Francisco (+16) @ Chicago: I want to see how the Bears stack up against better teams, and this game ain't going to be a measuring stick. My first instinct was to take Chicago remembering how they completely disemboweled the Bills a couple weeks ago. But Alex Smith is better than J.P. Losman. I may regret this (and probably will) but I'll be a points whore and take the 16 with the 49ers.

Arizona (+4) @ Green Bay: Ah, why not? I know it's hallowed ground and Brett Favre and all that, but this is a desperation game for Arizona. I wish I had a pulse on how much or little the Cardinals players like Denny Green. Lose this one, and the curtain could fall on the Green Era by Monday morning. A win keeps him around. I'll go with the Cardinals, who probably don't want to endure another week of practice like the one they just saw after losing to the Raiders last Sunday. Plus, Matt Leinart's gotta win one for his new baby boy.

Seattle (+6) @ Kansas City: These two teams are losing QBs like the Grateful Dead used to lose keyboard players - frequently. The Chiefs got the ball rolling when Trent Green almost got his head knocked off, and last week Matt Hasselbeck went down with a knee injury. Now we hear that Damon Huard may not play for the Chiefs and they may to rely on rookie QB Brodie Croyle. What's going to happen to Seneca Wallace tonight? I'll go with the Seahawks in this one, and take the under. (Which in this wacky NFL season means the Chiefs will win a shootout.)

@New Orleans (-2) vs. Baltimore: Who'da thunk the Saints would ever be favored over the Ravens? That's what having good skill players on offense will do for you and the Saints have certainly upgraded. Brees, Bush, Deuce, Horn, Colston. And the Ravens have um, ahhh... Saints take it.

St. Louis (+10) @ San Diego: This could be a good one. The Rams are flying under the radar, and the Chargers have had to deal all week with the Shawne Merriman steroids allegations. LT will get his touches, but the Rams and Steven Jackson will cover - and may even steal away with a win.

@Oakland (+9) vs. Pittsburgh: Word on the street is that Big Ben will play after getting rocked last weekend against Atlanta. But Joey Porter is still hurting, and we all saw how bad the Steelers' secondary is. I can't believe I'm typing these words, but Andrew Walter could add some passing yardage to his stats this week, and Randall Moss should be on the receiving end. It will be enough for the Raiders to cover the nine.

NY Jets (+2) @ Cleveland: The battle of former Belichick defensive coordinators could be a pretty low-scoring contest. Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel know their stuff, and in the end my gut tells me the Jets' offense will put a few more points up on the board. Again, let's just all give thanks that we don't have to watch this one.

@Denver (-3) vs. Indianapolis: Can't you just see Mike Shanahan and his awesome defense giving Peyton all kinds of fits? I can. The nice thing about this one is that both of these teams will be in competition with the Patriots for a first-round bye in the AFC, and someone has to lose. The Broncos' home-field edge puts them over the top. And finally, we're all happy this one will be on the tube. (TV game: CBS, 4:00)

@Carolina (-5.5) vs. Dallas: An interesting matchup to say the least. Jake Delhomme and his offense are due to break out, and all eyes will be on the Panthers' D to see what havoc they can wreak on Tony Romo and the Cowboys' weak offensive line. The QB controversy in Dallas drew national attention all week long, and it'll be a tough matchup for Romo to break in with. I'm going with Carolina.

New England (-2) @ Minnesota: This has all the makings of a great ballgame. I can't remember the last time I looked forward to watching the battle at the line of scrimmage. When the Vikings are on offense, you've got Richard Seymour (hopefully), Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork trying to work on Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie. When the Patriots are on offense, the space for Dillon and Maroney to operate will be pretty tight, thanks to an awesome Vikings' D-line. It truly should be a fascinating chess game. I don't know enough about the Vikings' secondary, and I think the Pats DB's have slowly been improving. Call me a homer (homer!), but the pick here is the Patriots because of No. 12. If anyone can guide his team through the loud, chaotic environment the Metrodome promises to be Monday night, it's Tommy Cool. Oh yeah - he's 9-0 in domes. And he shags Bridget Moynahan.

(By the way - the Beavers (Oregon St.) beat the Trojans (USC) today. Again, that was the Beavers coming out on top against the Trojans. Felt it was important to point that out.)

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