Friday, October 3, 2008

At the sports desk: NFL weekly picks

I was 5-8 last week (unfortunately), and am now 32-27-1 for the year.
Still above .500.
(home team in ALL CAPS)

ARIZONA 1 over Buffalo. Pick: CARDINALS. They're at home, and they're a different team there. Buffalo was a bit fortunate to win last week, capitalizing on Ram mistakes (while giving up over 160 yards rushing to the Rams). Their luck will run out this week.

CAROLINA 9.5 over Kansas City. Pick: CHIEFS. Not to win; but to keep the game close. KC finally got their running game in gear last week, rushing for 200 yards. Carolina looked better offensively last week, too. But I think the Chiefs will be able to do enough to keep this game close.

Chicago 3.5 over DETROIT. Pick: BEARS. Firing Matt Millen won't cure what ails the Lions--they still can't run the ball, and their defense is porous. Even Kyle Orton should be able to make some hay against them.

DALLAS 17 over Cincinnati. Pick: BENGALS. Not to win. But to keep it closer than 17; that's an awful lot of points to give up. I sense Carson Palmer will play; the Bengals moved the ball against the Giants defense a couple of weeks ago, and thus they can move it and score points against the Cowboys, too.

DENVER 3 over Tampa Bay. Pick: BRONCOS. The Broncos are at home; and while the Chiefs last week (again) exposed their defense, I worry about the mistake-prone Buc offense under Brian Griese, which tried hard to give away last week's game to the Packers, with 3 INTs. Go with the Broncos at home.

GREEN BAY vs Atlanta. Pick: PACKERS. There was no line on this game as of this writing, and there are questions as to whether Aaron Rodgers will play. I suspect he will, and thus the Pack will prevail at home vs the Falcons and their rookie QB Matt Ryan.

Indianapolis 3 over HOUSTON. Pick: COLTS. Peyton and the Colts just had a bye week; they're rested, their offensive line is pretty much healthy again, and I think they'll outscore the Texans.

JACKSONVILLE 4 over Pittsburgh. Pick: JAGUARS. This pick is simple--the Steelers are banged up, down to 1 healthy running back, and on the road. Go with the Cats.

New England 3 over SAN FRANCISCO. Pick: PATRIOTS. This is a tough one. Obviously the Dolphins exposed the Pats two weeks ago. But, the Pats have had two weeks to prepare, given their bye. The Niners also can exploit the Pats' weak rush defense, with Frank Gore; but San Fran only rushed for 90 yards last week, and amassed 9 penalties. I gotta go, therefore, with the experienced, still-talented Patriots group to prevail here against the still-inexperienced Niners led by J.T. O'Sullivan.

NY GIANTS 7 over Seattle. Pick: GIANTS. The G-men just do their thing; they run it, Eli Manning is much-improved as a QB, and Seattle hasn't shown itself to be a good road team in the past.

PHILADELPHIA 6 over Washington. Pick: EAGLES. By all indications, the Eagles will have a healthy Brian Westbrook back in the lineup; that helps a lot. I don't think the Redskins can get up and play 2 excellent road games in a row.

San Diego 6.5 over MIAMI. Pick: CHARGERS. Again, a tough one--hey, look what the Dolphins did at New England two weeks ago. But the Chargers seem to be coming on, and note--they held the Raiders and Darren McFadden to only 72 yards rushing total last week. I don't see the Dolphins running it down their throat. No running attack, and the Fins will be in trouble.

Tennessee 3 over BALTIMORE. Pick: RAVENS. This is kind of a "gut" pick. But I was impressed with Joe Flacco last week, taking his team all the way to OT in Pittsburgh, giving it a chance to win. And while the Titans have been impressive, utilizing especially a tough defense (which again forced 4 turnovers last week), it's tough to win week after week relying on defense and turnovers. I think here is where a fired-up Ravens club will give Tennessee a big bump in the road. Go with Joe Flacco and the birds.

NEW ORLEANS 3 over Minnesota. Pick: SAINTS. Simple--they're at home; and they have Drew Brees (who again lit it up last week, throwing for over 360 yards) while Minnesota has either Gus Frerotte or Tarvaris Jackson. I like the matchup for the Saints at QB.