Friday, October 17, 2008

At the sports desk: NFL weekly picks

Somehow last week, in the midst of all the upsets, I squeaked out a 7-7 record.
I'm now 45-40-3 for the year.

BUFFALO 1 over San Diego. Pick: BILLS. San Diego's been very inconsistent, especially on the road. Yes, they sliced through the Pats' defense last week; Buffalo's D is better.

CAROLINA 3 over New Orleans. Pick: PANTHERS. Carolina's at home; and they have a better defense than does New Orleans. The Saints always seem to end up on the losing end of games like this on the road.

CHICAGO 3 over Minnesota. Pick: BEARS. The Vikings offense couldn't get much done last week against the lowly Lions. How will they get much done in Chicago against a Bear team desperate to, at home, atone for last week's blown opportunity?

Dallas 11 over ST. LOUIS. Pick: RAMS. Not to win; but to keep it close. I think the Cowboys will wind up having to go with Brad "Checkdown" Johnson (as Patrick Crayton called him last week), so don't expect much explosiveness out of Dallas' offense.

HOUSTON 9.5 over Detroit. Pick: TEXANS. Yes, the Lions beat the spread for the first time last week. But this week they're not playing Gus Frerotte and the struggling Vikings; they're playing Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and a Texans team that is much better than its 1-4 record.

Indianapolis 1 over GREEN BAY. Pick: COLTS. This is a tough one. Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers got a big win on the road last week. But last week, in their win over the Ravens, I saw the old (and very good, Super Bowl contender) Colts. They played fast; they were aggressive; the offense had explosiveness. I look for that to continue.

MIAMI 3 over Baltimore. Pick: DOLPHINS. The Fish have been very, very good against the spread this year; I think they might be unbeaten. Their offense and Chad Pennington have actually executed the "wildcat" stuff very well. Meanwhile the Ravens appear to have hit a bump in the road. Joe Flacco's confidence is down. I doubt it will improve this week.

NY GIANTS 10.5 over San Francisco. Pick: GIANTS. That's a lot of points but, at home, the Giants have shown this year that they can cover. I see the Monday night mess at Cleveland as an aberration. They'll move the ball against a leaky San Fran defense; meanwhile, J.T. O'Sullivan is making too many turnovers; the Giants will cause more this week.

NY Jets 3 over OAKLAND. Pick: JETS. The Raiders still appear to be a mess; JaMarcus Russell still has a long way to go. Meanwhile I see Brett and the Jets O gaining confidence week to week. The Jets won't blow out Oakland, but they'll win by a TD.

Pittsburgh 9.5 over CINCINNATI. Pick: STEELERS. Simple--the Steelers had a bye week and so Big Ben should be more healthy; meanwhile, the Bengals won't have Carson Palmer. They'll have to go with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Not a good matchup vs Troy Polamalu and the hard-hitting Steelers.

TAMPA BAY 10.5 over Seattle. Pick: SEAHAWKS. No, not to win the game. Instead, 10 and a half points is just too much to give, when you're dealing with a Bucs team that doesn't have an explosive offense, that instead relies on turnovers and the defense scoring TDs to blow teams out. I just think Seattle will hold onto the ball, and thus lose by less than 10.

Tennessee 8 over KANSAS CITY. Pick: CHIEFS. Yes, I know, no Larry Johnson for the Chiefs. But again, remember that Tennessee is not an explosive offensive team, relying on running LenDale White and company, and safe throws from Kerry Collins. I think the Chiefs will, at home, find a way to get the ball to Tony Gonzalez, slow the Titans down, and keep this one close.

WASHINGTON 7.5 over Cleveland. Pick: REDSKINS. I just gotta believe the 'Skins will bounce back this week, at home; and although I give the Browns congrats for their win on Monday night, still I'm not convinced they're fixed. Did you see all those illegal procedure penalties by the Browns? It was embarrassing. They'll make more mistakes in Washington, and it'll get them beat by 10 points or more.

NEW ENGLAND 3 over Denver. Pick: PATRIOTS. Well. Who knows what to expect here--neither team played well at all last week, really. Both have obvious weaknesses. The key as I see it: a good defense can take advantage of Matt Cassel's weaknesses. But Denver doesn't have a particularly good defense; and so the Patriots' run game and short passing scheme can work. Go with the Pats at home.