NYJ @ Buff/Toronto/so not really @ Buff/more like @ the city threatening to steal Buff (+3.5). I root for Buff because I worry often that the Bills will be relocated someday. I like the Bills. They have a great fan base and my hope would be that the NFL considers relocating first, the teams that can’t sell their games out (MN, Arizona, Oakland, StL, Cincy, Jax) before they consider moving the Bills.
Oak @ Pitt (-7.5). Surprising spread – I’d put lots of money on Pitt to cover here. One interesting thing about last week’s Pitt/Balt game was how well prepared Pitt was despite having to go with an unprepared 3rd string QB. Coaching made that a game. Mendenhall may rush for more than 200 yards in this one.
StL @ Chic (-8.5). Urlacher’s quote earlier in the week (calling Orton a winner and Cutler a loser) was harsh, but mostly accurate. Funny that I wrote a post earlier this season about how Cutler was the first Bear in decades to have 3 games with a QB rating over 100. Jay Cutler’s overall 2009 QB rating is 74.4 – so I wonder just how bad a rating he’d have if we were to take out the three 100+ rating games…he’d probably be in Derek Anderson territory, sub-50. That said, for some reason (maybe because StL totally sucks), I think Cutler will bounce back this week and have a 124.8 rating game – though for Chicago fans, all that will do is serve as more evidence that Cutler just can’t win games that matter.
Det @ Cincy (-13.5). Sad that Cincy needs an extension to sell out this game. Sure, I realize it’s Detroit and a well known side effect of watching Detroit Lions football is suicidal ideation. But Cincy is winning their division and likely headed for the playoffs for the first time in a while. Come on Cincy, wake up.
SD @ Cleve (12.5). I’m done making my sneaky “upset” picks and taking horrible home teams mostly just because they’re playing at home. It’s possible this game will be over mid-way through the first quarter. By the way, while I’m never happy when a player gets hurt, Jamal Lewis’ career should have ended a couple years ago when he ran out of…effectiveness.
NO @ Wash (+10.5). Ok, I guess I’m not done making “sneaky upset” picks, taking horrible home teams because they’re playing at home. But Wash has shown something in the past few weeks somehow playing competitive NFL games with very little talent. I can also see a NO letdown here (especially if the weather isn’t so nice).
NE @ Mia (+5.5). While a small part of me (my toe) wonders if Mia could keep this a game because NE may have developed a confidence issue after losing twice in high profile games, a larger part of me (my right leg) believes that NE will blow out Mia and be merciless and unsportsmanlike in the process (Vince Wilfork will have 5 unnecessary hits, only one of which will be flagged).
Den @ KC (+4.5). To me, this may be one of the biggest tests for Denver this year. They’re still trying to establish their identity as a quality team, but it’s sort of like they’re just not sure it’s accurate yet themselves to say they’re “quality”, so they’re playing with that uncertainty. In the end though, because I have to make a decision, I’ll say the good Denver team shows up – and when I say that, I think about Brian Dawkins’ leadership and how other teams that passed him up in the off-season are likely regretting that decision.
SF @ Sea (-.5). I can’t figure out why Jim Mora is being stubborn about keeping Julius Jones the starting RB. He’s clinging to Jones like Jones has Steven Jackson-like talent. Julius Jones, from games I’ve watched, has zero juke, TE-type speed, questionable vision and limited power. (He has the physical tools not of an NFL RB, but of an IRS auditor.) Justin Forsett, meanwhile, has done more in 3 games than Jones has most of the season (and stats almost support this statement). Make the change Mora, playoffs are out of the question anyway.
Hou @ Jax (-.5). Ugh. Don’t like this one. Not sure about this, but it’s possible Jack Del Rio decided earlier in the year to simply not bring his WRs to road games. The difference in stats for WRs on the road vs at home is shocking. This one could be a shoot-out.
Tenn @ Indy (-6.5). I wonder if that Jeff Fisher-wearing-Manning’s-jersey incident earlier this year will somehow come back to haunt him Sunday. Just wondering.
TB @ Car (-6.5). Will Car come out on fire and destroy TB because everyone in the stadium (except John Fox) will be so pumped that Delhomme is finally not in the game? OR, will a hot TB Bucs group (the use of “hot” here is very relative) come in and surprise a reeling Car team that is out of the playoff picture? Judging by recent history, I’ll take TB to at least cover, and maybe sneak out a win (which could be the beginning of the end for John Fox).
Phil @ Atl (+6.5). Two guys in the NFL who annoy me considerably are Donovan McNabb and Hines Ward. Both of these guys like to flash smiles a lot during games and try to come across as cool dudes “just having fun out here”. But the accurate interpretation of their behavior and the way it really comes across is that they’re “just being tools out there”. I don’t want to see a happy Donovan McNabb after the game Sunday – don’t like watching that. This game will end in a tie, because that would help the Packers’ playoff chances the most.
Dal @ NYG (+2.5). I still can’t shake that sad, deer-in-the-headlights, gut-bulging look Wade Phillips sported throughout the Packer game I went to at Lambeau a few weeks back. He seemed to have no idea what to do when the Pack pulled ahead (even though the game was really never out of reach). That said, for some (non-Wade-Phillips-related) reason, I think they’ll win in NY this weekend. The NYG are a team that has gone back to an “achieving level”, down from the “overachieving” level they’ve been playing at for the last few years. This to me, is the real Giants.
MN @ Ariz (+6.5). In the Minneapolis area, it takes 20 minutes to go anywhere. Whether you’re headed to the golf store, or the suburb 2 suburbs over, or to the lame Mall of American Field – 20 minutes. Well, that is, for everyone except Adrian Peterson. He was caught driving 109 mph last Sat night apparently trying to make it to the team hotel on time. (Though I suppose it’s possible that with the police stop, it did end up taking 20 minutes.) This all has nothing to do with this game. Nothing.
Balt @ GB (-2.5). A few weeks ago, after the Pack got embarrassed by MN, I resolved to pick against my beloved Packers for the first time in years. I was mad. (I’m comfortable having zero credibility picking Packer games, zero). Anyway, I went as far as identifying which game this season would be the best one for picking against the Pack. I decided on this week’s game against Balt – because I’ve been a believer in Balt all year. (I still contend that if they had a decent FG kicker, they could be 7-4 or 8-3). Anyway, as game time approaches, I no longer have the stones to pick against the Pack. I don’t even have the stones to say that this will be a close one but that the Pack will win. I do, however, have the stones to say the Pack will coast to an easy victory Monday night – 31-16.
Still can’t figure out how Peterson was going 109 MPH. I know where he got pulled over well and it is a fairly well traveled highway with a speed limit of 55. He claims he didn’t know how fast he was going but he would have been passing everything in sight and having to weave around people. And apparently he might lose his license for 6 months since MN law requires that for anyone caught going over 100 MPH.
packerbelle – if I’m not mistaken, isn’t 62 a fairly windy highway too, and one that has been under construction for a while? I feel like I just drove past the major construction on it coming north from 35W over Thanksgiving.
–The Bills have been mediocre to awful since Doug Flutie was benched for that Bills @ Titans playoff game (aka ‘The Music City Miracle’)
–The Bengals only have one win this season by more than 10 points. A 2-TD margin seems like a lot for them to cover. Remember they just lost to the Raiders partly because they couldn’t get to 21 points.
–The Cardinals’ defense was worn down by the Titans by the end of the game. What’s going to happen when they’re going up against Favre + AP? The good news is KW is likely to start, so maybe the Cards can get some long clock-eating scores to keep them off the field. Otherwise, that’s a game likely to be over by halftime.