Too many damned road teams giving points. That’s what I see when I look over this week. And then I look at the individual games and, for the most part, it seems like the road teams should be giving points. That’s a recipe for disaster. A few teams that go in looking like they can’t lose are gonna come out of this week looking like they aren’t what we thought they were. Which ones? I have no idea. (Well, OK, I have a few ideas, but they’re almost certainly the wrong ideas.) Here’s what not to expect.
Kansas City (+8) at Philadelphia
If you wanna be excited about Michael Vick, that’s fine. I mean, pretty much everyone is at least interested to see how the Eagles will use Vick and to get at least a hint of what he’s capable of. Ultimately, though, Vick is a side show. He’s not gonna single-handedly revive the seriously banged up Philadelphia offense. And at least for this week he shouldn’t need to. The Eagles D should be able to give the Chiefs’ offense just about everything it can handle. I like the Chiefs to keep it ever so slightly closer than eight, but I can’t see them actually pulling off an upset straight up.
Green Bay (-6.5) at St. Louis
So you know that thing about heavy road favorites making me nervous? Not so much in this game. The rebuilding Rams won’t stand in the way of the Packers, who have already fallen a win behind the Vikings in their division and can’t afford to give away wins to less talented teams no matter where they’re played. Green Bay by nine.
San Francisco (+6.5) at Minnesota
Yeah, I’ll admit my exposure to the Niners thus far this season has been by way of highlights shows, so maybe I’m missing something. But I don’t get how there’s this idea that San Francisco is gonna be able to upset Minnesota on the road. I mean, it’s not even like the Vikes are just about one outstanding player (nor are they about one outstanding player and one over-age QB). Last I checked, they also had a hell of a defense. And that’s not gonna make it an easy afternoon for Frank Gore. I’m taking the Vikings and giving the points.
Cleveland (+13) at Baltimore
I wouldn’t watch this game if I were the parent of one of the Browns’ starters (for a couple of reasons). Baltimore wins handily, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Browns (assuming the can stick to football and not end up brawling with each other on the sidelines) make it at least a push with the points with a meaningless touchdown late in the game.
NY Giants (-6.5) at Tampa Bay
The Giants keep getting more and more banged up. Eventually, that’s bound to present a problem. But not until they play an actual professional football team. That ain’t this week. I’ll take the Bucs with the points, but only because I think the Giants are gonna keep it on the ground and make this a very low-scoring affair. The outcome, a New Jersey win, is never in doubt.
Jacksonville (+3.5) at Houston
I don’t know what to make of either of these teams. And, frankly, I don’t trust either of them. I’ll take the home squad and give the points, but I’m not gonna pretend to feel confident about that pick.
Tennessee (+3) at NY Jets
I’m not sure how you transition a team from winning a week two “super bowl” to preparing to face a tough but winless non-division squad. But I’ve got a pretty good feeling about how a team that’s way better than its 0-2 record and that can’t afford to get to 0-3 gets revved up for the same game. The Titans win it straight up.
Atlanta (+4) at New England
There’s a sense out there that the Patriots are in trouble. I’m not buying it. In fact, I won’t even believe the Patriots are in trouble if they lose this game. (Though if they lose because they’re out of healthy receivers, that’s a problem; how much of a problem depends on how bad the injuries are.) But the Patriots aren’t going to lose this game. Not for mystique or coaching or quarterback play. But because New England is playing better defensive football than most experts realize and also, and mostly, because Atlanta has no ability to stop the run. New England by a touchdown.
Washington (-6) at Detroit
This is it, right? Detroit’s big week. The game where they finally get off the schneid after 19 straight losses. That’s the romantic pick of the week, anyhow. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s not gonna happen, but you know, it’s a nice little thought. Portis or no Portis, Washington wins this one. Let’s say by four points.
Chicago (-1.5) at Seattle
So, I don’t know if you’ve heard — and if you haven’t be prepared because this may very well send a chill down your spine (or up your spine depending on which direction chills move in your personal lexicon) — but T.J. Houshmandzadeh says he’s gonna make the Bears pay for not signing him as a free agent during the off season. Best yet, apparently he’s gonna do it with Seneca Wallace throwing him the ball. So, yeah, that should teach Chicago to “ain’t holler” at T.J. Bears by three.
New Orleans (-6) at Buffalo
Here we are again. Yes, a road team favored by six officially should scare me to death. But it’s hard to imagine that Buffalo’s D can hold the Saints to less than 34 or that Buffalo’s offense can score more than 23. So I’m giving the points. Because what else am I supposed to do?
Miami (+6) at San Diego
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Miami pull off an upset here. I’m not picking it that way, because the Dolphins are traveling across the country and coming off a Monday night game, but it could happen. San Diego is contending with some significant injuries and hasn’t exactly been lighting it up so far this season. So I’m definitely not willing to give six. But three, probably. And certainly one.
Pittsburgh (-4) at Cincinnati
This is one of the week’s toughest games to pick. I think Cincinnati is going to be able to pull of the upset at home. But I’m not sure why. I know the Steelers struggled last week, but I’m kinda inclined to believe that only makes them all the more dangerous here. Likewise, while the Bengals played well in Green Bay, but I really need to see a bit more before I jump on a bandwagon. Still, this is a division matchup. The Bengals are at home. And I have picked more road favorites than I’m comfortable with. (Plus, look, I’m not gonna feel comfortable no matter how I pick.) So I’ll go with the Bengals to win, and at least half expect to be wrong.
Denver (-1.5) at Oakland
The Broncos are an uneven team. The Raiders are just plain bad. Denver by four.
Indianapolis (+2.5) at Arizona
The Colts are without a doubt the better team in this matchup. But they’re on the road for the second consecutive week. And they’re coming off what had to be an exhausting Monday nighter (for the defense anyhow) in Miami. So I’m taking the Cardinals straight up. But I’ll look for the Colts to make it a one-point game.
Carolina (+9) at Dallas
The defenses could end up doing the bulk of the scoring in this game. A pick six one way here. A pick six the other way there. And before you know it, you’ve got the Cowboys D beating the Panthers D, by, oh, hell, let’s say six. That’s my pick.