Saturday, November 04, 2006

NFL Week 9: Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

Well, if I was a baseball player my 3 out of 10 mark last Sunday would make me one of the game's better hitters. But in today's parity-ridden NFL, where if anyone tells you they're doing well with their weekly picks they're absolutely, positively lying, 3 out of 10 puts you right in the middle of the mediocre morass. After coming out of the gate pretty nicely, the season mark now stands at 46-49-5. But I ain't giving up. After all, did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor!? ("The Germans bombed Pearl Harbor??" "Leave him alone - he's on a roll...") This week, I'm going with the dartboard method. No analysis, no research. Just blind luck. Because that's truly what NFL predicting is all about these days. Onto the darts.

@Detroit (+5.5) vs. Atlanta: This one could be an aerial display, given what Ron Mexico has done the past few weeks as well as his underappreciated counterpart, Jon Kitna. The Lions stink - this much is true - but I also think the Falcons (like their flashy QB) are completely overhyped and will look past the Lions. I like the Kitna vs. Falcons DB matchup, and the fact that Kevin Jones is running with authority. The Lions are the pick.

@Baltimore (-3) vs. Cincinnati: This one's for superiority in the AFC North, and logic says the Ravens should take it on their home turf. Of course, it doesn't help the Bengals' cause that nutbag Bengals WR Chad Johnson has managed to rile up Ravens LB Ray Lewis. But getting back to football for a minute, the Bengals have just plain stunk since the Patriots laid the lumber to them, and the Ravens - with Brian Billick now calling the shots for the offense - seem to have awoken from their slumber. (Like that? Lumber, slumber?) I like the Ravens in this one.

Dallas (-3) @ Washington: Call me crazy, but I think Tony Romo's got a chance to hold onto this job for awhile, despite what Drew Bledsoe's blog says. The kid showed me something last week against Carolina. Not only does he have a strong arm, but he can adjust on the fly and get the extra yards with his own legs. The only way Drew can get yards is if he just falls down, but he's usually falling down well behind the line of scrimmage. For all the noise, Dallas has a pretty good nucleus with T.O, Terry Glenn, Julius Jones, and Jason Witten, and their D is solid. Dallas takes it, bringing more misery to the 'Skins.

Green Bay (+3) @ Buffalo: I saw J.P. Losman a couple weeks back against the Patriots. I'm going with Green Bay.

@NY Giants (-13) vs. Houston: I'm going to say it now, on Saturday, November 4, 2006. The Giants are going to the Super Bowl, and they're going to get beaten by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. How ya like them apples? The Giants are in a groove, and in my humble opinion, they have the best balance in the NFC. The Bears might quarrel with that, and they’ll get to settle the issue next Sunday night at the Meadowlands. For now, the Jints and Tiki should run all over the eternally pathetic Texans.

Kansas City (+3) @ St. Louis: I know it’s not the cozy confines of Arrowhead Stadium, but how can you look past what Larry Johnson has done the past few weeks. My goodness. And to think this guy was backing up Priest Holmes a short while back. Plenty of points should be scored, with the Chiefs coming out on top.

@Chicago (-13.5) vs. Miami: As The Who sang, I won’t get fooled again. I actually thought the 49ers might give the Bears a little bit of a fight last week, and that dart was completely missed the board and landed on the pool table. Now the Bears’ exhibition season continues with a matchup against the dreadful Dolphins. Miami’s D might be able to stop the Bears from getting 40+, but it ain’t gonna be pretty. Lucky for me, I get to watch this game since I’ll be in sunny Florida on Sunday.

@Tampa Bay (+1) vs. New Orleans: And this is the other great game I get to watch. I’m just so fortunate. I guess that’s what satellite dishes are for. The Saints got pummeled by Baltimore last weekend while the Bucs lost by 2 touchdowns to the Giants. Really no clue on this one – but because we have to pick ‘em all (it’s in the rulebook). I’ll pin my hopes on Tampa Bay’s defense to rise to the occasion at home.

@Jacksonville (-9.5) vs. Tennessee: Another underwhelming affair. The Jags had a boring but effective win over the frustrating Eagles last weekend, and all reports say that David Garrard will again be taking the snaps. He’s not a threat with the pass, but the kid can run. He’s also a new member of the Reggie Cleveland All-Stars (link), in terms of guys you thought were white based on their names but they’re really black. Tennessee’s run defense is dreadful, which could spell a big day for Garrard, and RB’s Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Go with the Jaguars.

Minnesota (-5) @ San Francisco: The Vikings have to be out to prove that they’re not as bad as Brady & Co. made them look last Monday night – and the Niners could be the right medicine at the right time. Look for Chester Taylor to have a good game, leading the Vikings to victory.

Cleveland (+12.5) @ San Diego: Hey, what the hell. You have to throw a surprise dart every now and then. The Chargers will be without Shawne “I didn’t do it” Merriman for this one, and really, it’s all about LT when it comes to the Chargers. Philip Rivers isn’t going to scare Romeo Crennel and his defensive troops. Romeo will try to take away LT, and I think he’ll be moderately successful. Take the Brownies with the points.

Denver (+2.5) @ Pittsburgh: The second-best game on the board this weekend, with two teams coming off tough losses. The Broncos lost a nail-biter to Indy last Sunday, while the Steelers lost to the Raiders in the most humiliating fashion possible. Pittsburgh will no doubt be revved up in front of the hometown crowd, but I think the Broncos can run on these guys and if Big Ben had problems with Oakland’s secondary, wait till he gets a load of Denver’s.

@New England (-3) vs. Indy: This game really can’t come soon enough. You’ve got all sorts of sub-plots: the return of Adam Vinatieri, the Peyton-Brady talk, the hatred between Bill Belichick and Colts’ executive Bill Polian, and how could we leave this out, the much-discussed issues with the Gillette Stadium sod. Let’s tackle each, briefly. I think the Pats made a rare miscue when they let Vinatieri walk. I understand the whole value thing, but he was one of those rare cases where you make an exception. Isn’t an extra mil worth the late-game comfort? Especially considering how many tight games the Pats have played in recent years? Peyton vs. Brady? No contest. Manning is Marino, Brady is Montana. Who would you rather have? The Belichick-Polian thing is amusing. Supposedly it goes back to the 90’s when Polian was in charge of the silver-medal Buffalo Bills and BB was with the NYG. The two men just don’t have a lot of nice things to say about each other. An article in the papers this week said that some press box observers overhead Polian yelling ‘break his leg’ when Doug Flutie scrambled for a run in last year’s Colts victory. And finally – the grass. The middle of the field has been like playing in a sandbox all year – I’m surprised the kickers and holders don’t bring out little plastic pails and shovels and make sand castles. It’s the same for both teams, but the Patriots have finally acquiesced and made some improvements. We should see a green field come Sunday eve. Oh yeah - a prediction. Pats 28, Colts 20. Indy can’t stop Dillon and Maroney.

Oakland (-7.5) @ Seattle: Not exactly a riveting Monday nighter, but sometimes these are the ones that turn out pretty good. Seattle’s injuries (Hasselbeck, Alexander) have taken a toll, but they did manage to put up 28 points last week against the Chiefs. I think I could actually pull together a team that could put up 28 on KC though. The Raiders, on the other hand, walked away with a gift-wrapped win last week, but their defense is playing pretty well. Just don’t lose by more than 7, baby. I’m going with Oakland.

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