Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday football picks (and other stuff)

Last week I was 11-4-1; I'm 17-10-1 for the season.

ALABAMA 17.5 over Arkansas. PICK: CRIMSON TIDE. Big talent gap, and they're at home.

California 5.5 over OREGON. PICK: GOLDEN BEARS. This is a tough one, and could go either way. But you had to be impressed with Cal's victory in a tough environment at Minnesota. And the Duck defense is, well...more quack than quick.

CINCINNATI 16.5 over Fresno State. PICK: BEARCATS. They're at home, and they can score a lot of points. Watch out for this Cincy team.

CLEMSON 2.5 over TCU. PICK: HORNED FROGS (upset special). TCU has a lot of speed, a good defense, and they've been pointing to this game. Gary Patterson's team has won in tough environments before.

Florida 21.5 over KENTUCKY. PICK: WILDCATS. Not to win; but, at home, with a capable offense, Kentucky can score enough points to keep this one closer than 3 TDs. Kentucky has played these guys tough before.

GEORGIA TECH 2.5 over North Carolina. PICK: YELLOW JACKETS. Paul Johnson has had some time to correct problems since their loss to Miami; and his option offense can give teams fits.

HOUSTON 1 over Texas Tech. PICK: RED RAIDERS. Tech showed some toughness last week, despite the loss at Texas. They gave the "Horns a tough battle. And they can score, and Houston's defense is leaky. Look for Mike Leach's offense to outscore 'em.

Miami 2.5 over VIRGINIA TECH. PICK: HURRICANES. Because I'm so impressed with Jacory Harris, Miami's QB. And Va Tech's play has been uneven; they struggled to beat a less-than-awesome Nebraska team last week.

MICHIGAN 20.5 over Indiana. PICK: WOLVERINES. Their running game will continue to shine.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE 1 over Pittsburgh. PICK: PANTHERS. Dave Wannstedt's team has steadily improved when it comes to winning road games.

NORTHWESTERN 1.5 over Minnesota. PICK: GOLDEN GOPHERS. Because their defense is better.

Notre Dame 7 over PURDUE. PICK: FIGHTING IRISH. Purdue won't be able to slow down Jimmy Clausen and the Irish offense, even with Michael Floyd out. Look for Armando Allen to have a big game.

STANFORD 7.5 over Washington. PICK: CARDINAL. Look for the Huskies to suffer a letdown in this one, on the road.

WISCONSIN 3 over Michigan State. PICK: BADGERS. The Spartans look to me like a team, this year, that's going to be good at finding ways to lose.

Last week I was 10-6; not bad! I'm 18-13-1 for the season.

NEW YORK JETS 2.5 over Tennessee. PICK: TITANS. Yes, the Jet defense has been tough. But I have to believe that the Titans have too much talent and too good of a coach in Jeff Fisher to lose 3 straight games. Tennessee's secondary has struggled against the pass this season so far; but the Jets don't throw it much. Look for the Titans' D to rebound.

HOUSTON 4 over Jacksonville. PICK: TEXANS. The Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson tandem is heating up. The Jaguars, meanwhile, seem lost.

PHILADELPHIA 9 over Kansas City. PICK: EAGLES. Because KC has such trouble scoring. Look for variations of the "wildcat" formation with Michael Vick to confuse the Chiefs.

BALTIMORE 13.5 over Cleveland. PICK: RAVENS. Usually I'd say this is too many points to cover. But the Browns' offense so far has looked inept; now they must face Ray Lewis and co. And Joe Flacco and the Ravens' O is clicking.

NY Giants 6.5 over TAMPA BAY. PICK: GIANTS. Eli Manning to have his way with the Bucs' secondary.

Washington 6.5 over DETROIT. PICK: REDSKINS. I'd love to be able to predict that the Redskins will overlook the Lions. But that possibility is all anyone's been talking about in Washington and Detroit all week--making it unlikely it'll happen. A Redskins team under fire in the nation's capital will be hungry for a win. Meanwhile the Lions so far keep making too many mistakes.

GREEN BAY 6.5 over St. Louis. PICK: PACKERS. Aaron Rodgers will have his way with the Rams' secondary; and the Rams just can't score, period.

MINNESOTA 7 over San Francisco. PICK: 49ERS. That 49er defense is much improved. It will at the least keep this game close, very close.

NEW ENGLAND 4 over Atlanta. PICK: PATRIOTS. I just think that at home, with time to make lots of corrections in how their O-line will handle blitzes etc, Brady and Belichick will figure out ways to get it done against a good Atlanta team.

Chicago 2 over SEATTLE. PICK: BEARS. Because the Bears' offense and Jay Cutler seem to be figuring things out...and the Seahawks are bedeviled by injuries, especially to Matt Hasselbeck.

New Orleans 6 over BUFFALO. PICK: SAINTS. Have you seen Drew Brees and that Saints offense? It is fast, it is dynamic, it's put up 45 and 48 points in the first two weeks. And it's not just a pass-happy deal; the Saints have a run game too with Mike Bell. I don't think the Bills will slow them down, either.

SAN DIEGO 6 over Miami. PICK: DOLPHINS. I have a hunch Philip Rivers will pull this game out in the end. But it will be close, very close, given the Chargers' many injuries and that I think Miami now has its run game going.

Pittsburgh 4 over CINCINNATI. PICK: STEELERS. Cincinnati is improved. But the Steelers historically have played well, and much smarter, in Cincy than the Bengals.

Denver 1.5 over OAKLAND. PICK: BRONCOS. I'm just not sold on JaMarcus Russell and the whole situation in Oakland.

ARIZONA 2.5 over Indianapolis. PICK: CARDINALS. I'd love to pick the Colts here. But I can't--they have a short week of practice, given their Monday night game; their defense was gassed at the end of that battle, and still has trouble stopping the run. They've got to go on the road again and face a dynamic offense in Kurt Warner and the Cardinals. Look for AZ to outscore 'em.

DALLAS 9 over Carolina. PICK: PANTHERS. Not to win the game; but to keep it close. The Dallas defense has given up over 800 yards total these first two games. One suspects Tony Romo's confidence is wavering. Jake Delhomme has his own problems, which is why I see Dallas winning this one when all is said and done. But a blowout? I doubt it.

BASEBALL DIARY: The Detroit Tigers again did what they had to do last night, completing the sweep of Cleveland, 6-5.
I said yesterday this was a vital game--and the Tigers won it. Give credit to Justin Verlander,
who pitched well; to Tiger batters like Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge, and Aubrey Huff, who got key hits after showing patience at the plate; and to ghe bullpen, which always gives us a scare, but more often than not has gotten the key outs.

"Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned President Barack Obama against pressing Tehran about new revelations that Iran has been constructing a secret uranium-enrichment plant. "If I were Obama's adviser, I would definitely advise him to refrain making this statement because it is definitely a mistake," Ahmadinejad told TIME in New York on Friday. "It would definitively be a mistake."

Will Obama stick to his guns? And will he be able to rally the entire Western alliance behind his stand--including Germany, for instance, which has yet to be heard from on Iran lately? We'll see. And how long have we known about this Iranian facility? It appears we've known about it for some time. If so, why all this eagerness to trust Iran enough to re-engage with them? They sure didn't earn it.

"On The Charlie Rose Show, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said that health-care legislation will pass and will be bipartisan even if only Democrats vote for it. His justification: The bill will include "bipartisan ideas," including some that Senator John McCain advocated in his presidential campaign last year."

Wow! Usually a reference to "bipartisan" legislation means that members of both parties voted for it. Now, according to Mr. Emanuel, it doesn't matter WHO voted for it, as long as you can make vague references to bipartisan "ideas." Folks, that is Bill-Clintonian-it-depends-on-what-the-definition-of-"is"-is dishonest verbal gamesmanship; don't fall for it.