Chic @ SF (-3.5). SF by 4. Cutler will have a putrid game, 4-5 picks. Bears D won’t be bad, but Gore will get his.
NO @ StL (+13.5). Shouldn’t be close. StL may play with heart and get hyper people worked up re a possible upset after they go down and score early. But then NO will flatten StL, flatten them. 45-17.
Buff @ Tenn (-6.5). Interesting that a 2-6 team has a 6.5 spread advantage. Shows how much folks think of Buff nowadays. Vince Young is an interesting dude. He’s isn’t that great a QB, but I think he may be one of those guys who just knows how to win. It may surprise some to learn that he is 12-6 as a starting QB in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers, for sake of comparison, is 10-14 as a starter.
Den @ Wash (+6.5). Crack pick alert. I’m going with Wash to win outright. If Clinton Portis were playing, I’d pick Denver in a decisive victory. But as long as Ladell Betts feels reasonably well, I think he may take this opportunity to start and run with it – and in the process, be a bit of a spark for the whole team. He’s done this in the past. Wash won’t continue winning after this and Zorn will get canned, but at least they’ll win one decent game this year.
Det @ MN (-16.5). You know what I miss? Seeing that bewildered “what can we possibly do now?” look that Brad Childress used to sport most of the time. I am not liking his apparent developing confidence. Maybe Jim Schwartz and co can at least scare MN so that I can see that trademark Childress look. (MN actually has struggled with Detroit both home and away for the last few seasons – let’s hope Detroit can give them a game.)
Jax @ NYJ (-6.5). Despite a recent scare from KC, something tells me Jax is going to give the NYJ all they can handle. I hate to say it but I am starting to hope for Jet losses because I find Rex Ryan’s back-tracking entertaining (at the beginning of the season, he was swollen with confidence…not so much now).
Atl @ Car (+1.5). At cbssports.com 80% of the people picking this game have taken Atlanta. I think Atlanta is good, but Carolina probably should have beaten NO last week in NO and they handled AZ in AZ the week before. I think Car is back and this will be a decisive victory for Car. Now, if DeAngelo Williams doesn’t play, they’ll still win, but not by much.
Cincy @ Pitt (-6.5). I don’t like taking so many visiting teams like I am this week, but a lot of these games are important ones and I think a good number of them will be close. This is a huge game for Cincy as a victory here gives them a huge advantage in the division race (will have swept both Balt and Pitt). But winning at Heinz Field is difficult. In fact, if memory serves, one odd Heinz Field fact that I’ve heard is that nobody has kicked a field goal of 50 yards or over in the stadium’s history (GB’s Mason Crosby converted a 52 yarder, but it was during a preseason game). Something tells me this curious fact might play a role in the game this weekend.
Phil @ SD (-2.5). Did anyone else question Andy Reid’s coaching decision in the waning minutes of last weekend’s game? With a little over 4 minutes left, the Eagles were down by 7 w/zero timeouts left and faced a 4th and 11 from the Dallas 35 yard-line. Instead of going for it or punting the ball to give Dallas bad field position and hope for a defensive stop, Reid elected to try a 52 yard field goal. David Akers came in and made it. So, that left Phil down by 4 with 4 minutes left and kicking off to Dallas. Instead of trying an onside kick, Phil kicked it deep, Dal managed an OK return, got the first down they needed and won the game. I just didn’t get the FG try – that wouldn’t have been an option were I coach. Didn’t gain them anything whatsoever. And a miss, which is fairly likely from 52 yards, would have made that decision even poorer. Not sure what Reid was thinking there – seemed like a bonafide coaching error by a seasoned coach.
TB @ Mia (-9.5). Josh Freeman just plain impressed last week in the second half against the Packers. Several times he made quality passes with Packers draped all over him. This may be a better game than some believe. By the way, anyone hear anything lately about Bill Parcells? Either I’m just reading websites that never refer to the guy or the guy has truly vanished from the public scene. I thought for sure he’d have a domineering Jerry Jones-like presence in his role there in Miami. Looks like I was wrong.
Sea @ AZ (-8.5). Still trying to figure out how AZ stuck it to Sea a few weeks ago in Sea. I now they blitzed a lot, but Sea must have just played like total crap. Somehow, I see this being a much better game – it matters big-time to both teams and it may in fact, be the season for Sea.
Dal @ GB (+2.5). Ugh. What to say? I have visions of this game going one of two ways. A few ugly things happen early on to the Packers, Lambeau gets quiet, and the Packers self-destruct as Rodgers gets rolled by DeMarcus Ware and Ratliff over and over again. Dallas runs the ball at will and exits Lambeau with a comfortable 21 point victory. Or, the Packers come ready to play after an emotional week and surprise everyone by taking down a hot team. Rodgers and Grant will go nuts and the defense will pull off a game to remember. Keep in mind, while the Packers lost ugly last week in Tampa, Dallas escaped just a few weeks earlier after barely beating KC in KC. Of course, because I’m a Packer fan, I’ll guess the latter scenario will play out. But I have to admit, I’m starting to consider picking against the Packers going forward – they’re ruining my pools.
KC @ Oak (-1.5). KC is the better team with a better future. They should win this game easily.
Balt @ Cleve (+10.5). There is a simple problem with Eric Mangini’s coaching style: it doesn’t fit his personality. Clark Judge had an interesting interview with Mangini the other day and he was struck by how normal, nice and un-dictator-like Mangini seemed – in light of all of the negative publicity about the guy lately. In past years, I’ve read other stories about how Mangini has a great sense of humor, how he’s a family guy and how he is a tremendously generous human being. But the guy tries to coach like Bill Belichick – who has a different personality. Mangini has had a difficult time getting out from under Belichick’s shadow mostly because, despite denying it, he simply tries to copy Belichick’s style. Seems from all I’ve read about his “real” personality, if Mangini lightened up and encouraged more of a fun, loose environment – an environment he himself would feel more comfortable in – he might find success.