Cincy @ Balt (-8.5). No respect here for Cincy. Balt is a very good team yes, but no respect for Cincy with this spread. Poor Carson Palmer. A week after several Balt players and the coach brazenly went after the refs for calling weak Tom-Brady-Protection calls (and weren’t fined by the league), I wouldn’t be surprised if the refs look the other way when the Ravens’ D whips Palmer around like a rag doll. My guess is that this will be a decent game though because Cincy is showing a scrappy quality they’ve lacked for years.
Cleve @ Buff (-5.5). Buff is a mess, Cleve is the Cleve. Whenever I pick games, I think about what the headline will likely be the next day. In this case “has there ever been a 3-3 tie before?”
Wash @ Car (-3.5). Blowout alert. Carolina may win this game by 30. The other day, I woke up and I couldn’t get the name Gerald Sensabaugh out of my head (SS for Dallas). I have know idea why – actually wait, I know why. That same morning, I had a competing thought flying around my cloudy head: sudden certainty that the Carolina Panthers are going to look like a different team going forward. I have little to base this on considering they looked rotten in the first 3 games. Their offensive line is pathetic, Jake Delhomme is playing with the confidence of Chuck Knoblaugh and their coach has adopted the “stay the course” approach with a team that should clearly not stay the course. Following hunches like this, it’s no wonder I picked the NYG to be 6-10 the year they won the Super Bowl.
Pitt @ Det (+10.5). Conventional thinking suggests this will be blowout. But Detroit is a bit different team now – I really believe that. Jim Schwartz had the team stick around on the field for a few minutes after beating the Redskins to thank the fans in attendance – smart. They finally may have a coach who is not clueless and the Pittsburgh mini-dynasty may be fading. If Polamalu plays, I reserve the right to take back this whole pick and go with the blowout. But I’ll take Det.
Dal @ KC (+8.5). Soon, Jerry Jones is going to get so worked up and carried away about the fact that his lame, enormous market team keeps the smaller, crappy market teams afloat because of revenue sharing (teams like MN b/c of their worthless Mall of America Field), that he’s going to demand that each small market stadium build a special luxury box suite for him if the Cowboys are coming to town. He’ll make sure the suite is gaudy and insincere to suit him.
Oak @ NYG (-15.5). Someday, maybe in about the year 2020, when the NFL reaches even higher levels of ridiculous focus on superstars/money like the NBA did years ago now, some games won’t be played at all – in order to prevent injuries to any of the superstars. So if this game were played in 2020, for example, Oak would simply be told that they’d have to take the loss, obviously, but they would be given the chance to negotiate the final score. I wouldn’t let Oak negotiate for anything closer than a 20 point loss.
TB @ Phil (-13.5). Phil by as many points as inches on Andy Reid’s expanding waste-line (so, 50?). Like the Oak/NYG game, this isn’t a contest. How does Raheem Morris, a coach with minimal coaching credentials and possibly very little coaching talent, inspire his seriously bad team to do anything positive whatsoever in the nasty confines of Philly? Could TB get shutout for the 2nd time in 3 games?
Atl @ SF (-2.5). Tough one. SF is sexier. LB Patrick Willis is the best LB in the NFL. Having Mike Singletary as a mentor probably doesn’t hurt. It also has to be exciting for their fans to finally see Vernon Davis taking advantage of some of his other-wordly physical tools. But something tells me that the bye week did Atlanta right – and that they will be healed and ready to execute at the high level they did last year again. Atlanta in a great game.
MN @ StL (+10.5). It’s likely not smart that I keep picking so many underdogs and losing teams to cover this week. But it’s still the early part of the season when teams tend to fight against being assigned a crappy identity for 2009. I think the Rams are motivated to reverse the developing possibility that they will repeat their 2008 identity. So, I am expecting a bit of a letdown from MN and a quality effort from StL this week. In the end, MN will escape with the victory. It’s interesting, I’ll bet if someone cared enough to look at the Rams’ season stats in the first halves of games this year, we’d learn that they actually haven’t been that bad at all. It’s the second halves that are killing them.
Hou @ Ariz (-5.5). It’s possible the total number of points scored in this game may exceed 80. Possible. Two offenses that can catch fire and 2 defenses that have stalled so far (though I’m still in denial that Houston’s D is THAT bad.) I’ll bet that both Warner and Schaub throw for over 300 yards, with one throwing over 400 – most of which will happen in the second half. This game does offer some intrigue too in the statistical sickness category – both Andre Johnson and Larry Fitz could eclipse the 200 yards receiving mark and have multiple TDs.
NE @ Den (+3.5). If you had to guess the spread of this game before the season, I’d bet most people would have said over 10, maybe 15 favoring NE. If you had to guess what position Denver’s team defense would be in, you might have guessed 30th, not #2 (for yards against). While conventional wisdom again would say pick the teacher not the pupil (what a strange word pupil is), I’m taking the pupil. This McDaniels guy may have some serious game-flow understanding.
Jax @ Sea (-.5). Jax is really odd. They get blown out at home and then play teams like Indy and Houston super tough on the road. Would make you think this would be another unlikely victory for Jax. I don’t think so. I think this will be the game, with Hasselbeck back, that Seattle shows off it’s revitalized passing offense. Jax will do well against RB Julius Jones, but won’t be able to keep up with Seattle’s passing game. Seattle will put up a ton of points in this one.
Indy @ Tenn (+4.5). Really tough game. While there are a number of analysts who are picking a close game here because they still believe Tenn should be good this year (I was not among them, if I dare consider myself an “analyst”, I had Tenn 3rd in the division, ), I will say, this may be a close game. Let me explain. Tenn isn’t that good, and they weren’t great last year despite their record – they overachieved. But Jeff Fisher is feisty, and I can see him inspiring something good from the defense this week. So as dumb as it is to sort of bet against Peyton Manning lately, I’m going to do it.
NYJ @ Mia (+1.5). I’m glad that the NYJ had a bit of a reality check last week against the Saints. It’s sort of like watching the cheesy, undeservedly arrogant sales guy deflate after losing a big account. The Jets are still a good team, but they will have their puke moments this year with a rookie QB and a stubborn coach. I was going to take the Dolphins here up until today, when I have arbitrarily decided to take the Jets. I have no explanation for this.
Pitt @ Det — You’ve heard that Stafford is out, and Culpepper is getting the start, right? Plus, the Steelers have to be in “no prisoners” mode after giving up 28 second-half points last week. Steelers cover big time.
Dal @ KC — Last week I said the only team the Chefs kept it close on is the Raiders, and the Giants proceeded to miss covering by ½-point. But I’m going to stick with my guns: if Romo plays the whole game, Cowboys cover.
Interesting thought about the Rams and 2nd halves. I think the exact ooposite could be applied to the Vikings. 2nd halves have been their saviours. Suppose Rams could build a big enough lead in the 1st half that the Favrekings couldn’t overcome in the 2nd half? (nah)
Matt Ryan would be my difference maker in the ATL/SF game however, they are playing at SF. That is a tough one.
The pathetic O-line play and stay the course attitude in Carolina–sound familiar?? Fortunately Rodgers is playing better than Jake.
Jax/Sea–Am I reading that right? Jax is a 1/2 point underdog. Gotta disagree, think Jax takes this one easy. (Is Hasslebeck back)
Mornin’ 56, thanks for ruinin’ my morning coffee. The man is a dunce, a complete dunce. The next three games will be the season. If they can’t fix their problems and come out flying against Detroit, the season is over. For a realistic chance at winning the division they have to run the table against the division opponents. They can only lose one division game, hopefully to Detroit, to think about wild card. That’s a tall order.
Lovie and the Bears have a bye today also. What did they do last week? One day of meetings and two days of prctice before he let them take a break. Of sourse, GB is so good they took the whole week off. At the very least they should have kept the O line and D line in and work on blocking and rushing fundementals.
Also got the feeling (which I hope is wrong) that Tauscher is not a lock. They need him back dessperately.
“Jax/Sea–Am I reading that right? Jax is a 1/2 point underdog. Gotta disagree, think Jax takes this one easy. (Is Hasslebeck back)”
Well so much for my football predicting ability.
Sorry about your coffee Ron. Gotta agree about the next 3 games & I hate to say this, but as of right now, I just cannot see us beating the VIkes & I’m worried about the Bears & also Detroit. They gave Pittsburg all they could handle yesterday.
Joshy, it is my understanding that as one gets older they also get colder. Or maybe he just needs the extra padding.
The tough part of the Vikings schedule is coming up. Baltimore should be good & PO’d after yesterday. Hopefully Mr. Lewis can introduce himself to Favre, 3 or 4 times.
Seems Pittsburg has lost a step or two but Troy should be back by then which makes a huge difference in their D.
hear you Joshy – amazing how bad some teams appear to be. If I were in Las Vegas this past weekend, I would have put everything I own on the Giants covering a 15.5 spread over hapless Oak. Everything. I honestly think someone has to step up and do something in Oakland with or to Al Davis. It’s really sad what he’s done to that franchise. And the rest of those teams you named are truly, truly terrible.