Archive for November, 2009

Week Twelve Picks

November 26th, 2009 Comments off

Here’s what I’m thankful for as a football fan this year (with a side of what not to expect in week twelve).

Green Bay (-8) at Detroit
I’m thankful that I don’t have to play a division rival on a short week with a backup quarterback. Packers by 10.

Oakland (+13.5) at Dallas
I’m thankful for the fact that I don’t have to put real money on either of these teams. For fun, let’s say Dallas wins, Oakland covers.

NY Giants (-6) at Denver
I’m thankful that the one potentially entertaining game on the Thanksgiving schedule is taking place in prime time. I like Denver to win it straight up, partly because I figure the Broncos’ skid can’t go on forever and partly because I have trouble believing a banged-up and inconsistent team can succeed after traveling most of the way across the country to play in Denver’s thin atmosphere on short rest.

Tampa Bay (+11.5) at Atlanta
I’m thankful that I don’t root for a team that’s $30 million under the salary cap and thinks its biggest problem is that its been running the wrong defense for 11 weeks. Falcons by 17.

Miami (-3) at Buffalo
I’m thankful that I’m not part of a cash-strapped organization in hopelessly small market wasting my time on pie in the sky head coach searches. Dolphins by a field goal.

Washington (+10) at Philadelphia
I’m thankful for not having to so much as pretend to be interested in figuring out whom Dan Snyder will waste his millions on next. Eagles win, Native Americans cover.

Seattle (-2.5) at St. Louis
I’m thankful that the NFC West is part of the NFC. And, you know, west. I’m also thankful that I’m not pinning any kind of hopes on Kyle Boller. Seahawks by four.

Carolina (+3) at NY Jets
I’m thankful for teams that know the Super Bowl is played in February, not September, and that are coached by people who don’t feel “disrespected” when opponents play to win. The Jets should be thankful to be catching a weak opponent, because it’s the only way these days that they end up winning. I’m gonna say by six.

Cleveland (-14) at Cincinnati
I’m thankful that I’m not a Cleveland Browns fan. Really, I feel for Browns fans. I do. They’re good folks (the ones I’ve met). And there but for the grace of the football gods, and all that. But wow. Just … wow. It never gets good, does it? Cincinnati by 17.

Indianapolis (-3) at Houston
I’m thankful for having figured out that while the Colts are surely going to drop a game at some point this season, it serves my purposes not one bit to keep trying to guess when it will come. Colts by two (or possibly not — but you didn’t hear that from me.)

Kansas City (+13.5) at San Diego
I’m thankful for the notion that the Chargers may land the four seed in the playoffs and a divisional round trip to Indianapolis. That’s always a fun matchup (though usually not for Indy.) Chargers by 10.

Jacksonville (+3) at San Francisco
I’m thankful that I don’t have to stress about whether my team can slow down Dave Garrard, though I do suspect the Niners will figure something out. San Francisco by four.

Chicago (+11) at Minnesota
I’m thankful that, Brett Favre’s vote of confidence notwithstanding, I didn’t mortgage my team’s future in a trade for Jay Cutler this past off-season. Vikings by 10.

Arizona (+1) at Tennessee
I’m thankful that the Titans have found a way to bounce back from an awful start to become an entertaining team. Seriously, I am. Way too much packing it in after six weeks in the NFL this season, if you ask me. I still think the Cardinals win this game, mind you, but I credit (and thank) the Titans for continuing to fight.

Pittsburgh (+1) at Baltimore
I’m thankful for feeling relatively confident that years from now, when Ben Roethlisberger is complaining about not having been protected back when he was too stupid to take care of himself, I’ll probably be too old to get worked up about it. Ravens by three no matter who starts under center for Pittsburgh.

New England (+3) at New Orleans
I’m thankful for knowing that the Patriots defense is better than it gets credit for being, and that the Saints defense is a good bit worse than it’s perceived to be. This game comes down to turnovers. Two of them, both of which lead to points. New England, 41-27.

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Week Eleven Picks

November 19th, 2009 1 comment

Weeks like this one scare the living bejesus out of me. It all looks sooooo easy, which can only mean one thing: It’s gonna find a way to bite you in the ass. My guess is that at least three of the games with the great big spreads are gonna go the other way. I think I’ve got one of them figured (which means you can count on the favorite to not only win but cover in that game). You’re on your own with the rest. Here’s what not to expect:

Miami (+3) at Carolina
You know, I can’t for the life of me get behind the idea of picking one of these hideously uneven and more hideously unpredictable teams to win. So if it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll just pick one to lose. And there I’ve got to go with the team that can’t move the ball through the air and now finds itself short one running back. Or, turned the other way, I’m taking Carolina, by default, to win. Let’s say by four.

Indianapolis (-1) at Baltimore
You can come at this game any number of ways and it still comes out a coin toss. So here’s what I’m thinking: The Colts are bound to lose a game (maybe two) at some point. And as I look at their schedule this appears to be one of the more likely spots for that inevitable loss to come. That’s really no way to pick football games, but it’s what I’ve got. Ravens by a point.

Washington (+11) at Dallas
So the deal is that the Cowboys are gonna win the NFC East simply because none of the other teams want it, right? And then we’re gonna have to hear Dallas fans doing their little thing for two weeks or so between when the team clinches and when they get eliminated in the first or second round of the playoffs. That’s where it’s going? Great. Thanks, Giants. Thanks, Eagles. Cowboys by 20.

Cleveland (+3.5) at Detroit
OK, here’s the thing, Manjackass. LeBron James isn’t actually going to come and play for your team. Also, if he did, the only thing it would change is ticket sales. Maybe you should get your head out of your daydreams and teach your players how to hold on to the damned ball. Just a thought. I’m taking the Lions and (odd as it is to say) happily giving the points.

San Francisco (+6.5) at Green Bay
Last week, the 49ers put an end to the Bears’ season. This week, the Packers do the same thing to the Niners. Symmetry. Should be about the only thing remotely beautiful about this game. Green Bay by four.

Buffalo (+8.5) at Jacksonville
The last time Buffalo fired a coach mid-season, it was to bring in a guy who would lead them to four consecutive Super Bowls (yeah, I know how those games came out, but that’s not the point; four straight championship game appearances is amazing). This time, it appears they’re at least targeting a guy with the potential to make them a force once again. Should be interesting. For now, though, the team is in disarray. And that rarely sets the stage for good football. Jags by seven.

Pittsburgh (-10) at Kansas City
The Steelers probably were eliminated from real contention for the AFC North title last weekend. But I’m not sure they know it. And even if they do, they’re certainly not gonna put themselves in a position to surrender a wild card slot to Denver, San Diego or Baltimore. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are just finding new holes that need plugging. I’ve generally been reluctant to give double-digit points to Pittsburgh opponents this season, but I don’t see as I have much choice here. Steelers by 13.

Seattle (+11) at Minnesota
I still suspect that just when it looks like Brett Favre isn’t gonna wear down, he’s gonna wear down. But it ain’t gonna happen this weekend. Vikings by 17.

Atlanta (+6.5) at NY Giants
When I heard Gil Brandt point out on Sirius the other day that the home team hasn’t won a game between these two squads since 1991, I initially thought of it as one of those interesting but ultimately meaningless historical points Gil is wont to express. But then I started thinking about the one thing it might reveal about this game, which is that there’s no indication that home field means very much in it. And since a) these teams appear to be fairly evenly matched; and b) the home team in this matchup hasn’t won a game anywhere since October 11, home field is about the only reason I can come up with to even consider picking the Giants. With that off the table, I’m looking for the Falcons to come out ahead by seven-ish.

New Orleans (-11) at Tampa Bay
There’s probably something interesting to be said about this game, but I can’t imagine what it is. OK, well, maybe this: This game arguably pits the NFC’s best team (just don’t make that argument in Minnesota) against its worst. Hooray! Saints by 24, minimum.

Arizona (-9) at St. Louis
With Seattle and San Francisco both headed for almost certain losses, Arizona likely has the opportunity to effectively sew up the NFC West title with a win in this game. So, yeah, that’s pretty exciting, huh? I’m taking the Cardinals and giving the points.

San Diego (+3) at Denver
If I knew Kyle Orton was gonna be able to play, I’d take Denver here without giving it too much thought. I stubbornly remain unsold on the Chargers. But I don’t know about Orton. And I’m scared to death of Chris Simms. So I’m taking San Diego in spite of myself. At least that way if I get burned, I’ll only have myself to blame.

Cincinnati (-9.5) at Oakland
Hey, the Raiders have figured out what everybody else (including a number of people who have never even heard of football) already knew. Good for them. Should really, really help. Like, a lot. Even with some turmoil developing among their running backs, the Bengals should handle the Raiders fairly easily. Cincinnati by nine.

NY Jets (+10.5) at New England
Let the real crying commence. This isn’t the same team you got lucky enough to catch at your place back in week two, Rex. Not by a long shot. Patriots by 31, just to make a point (or maybe a couple of points).

Philadelphia (-3) at Chicago
Neither of these teams appears to have any serious interest in remaining competitive. The Eagles at least have the advantage of playing in a division no one wants to win, which means they still have hope for January even if they shouldn’t. The Bears, on other hand, are thoroughly cooked. Their season ended last Thursday night in San Francisco. And I sort of suspect they’re not gonna be able to play their way through that. Eagles by a field goal.

Tennessee (+4.5) at Houston
Yeah, the Titans have been hot lately. And the Texans are, as ever, hot and cold. But it’s hard for me to imagine a Tennessee defense that’s had limited success this season and that hasn’t really turned much of anything around even during its three-game win streak (which includes home wins against Jacksonville and Buffalo) proving to be much of a factor against a Texans offense that’s been a fairly consistent producer of points since week two. I’m taking Houston and giving the four and a half.

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Week Ten Picks, post-Thursday night edition

November 13th, 2009 Comments off

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen two teams try so hard to lose a game as I did last night. Let’s hope that fiasco doesn’t set the tone for the weekend. Here’s what not to expect.

Detroit (+16.5) at Minnesota
Do you need me to say something about this game? God, I hope not. Because I’ve got nothing. Not one blessed thing. Vikings by 10.

Denver (-3.5) at Washington
I’m very confused by the line on this game. In six losses this season, the Native Americans have once come within three and a half points of their opponent. That was Carolina. And that was with Clinton Portis, who won’t be available for this game. So how does that math work out? For me, it works out to taking Denver and giving the points. Hell, I’d give twice the damned points if I had to.

Tampa Bay (+10) at Miami
You can’t have success against the Dolphins if you can’t play run defense. And man alive can the Bucs not play run defense. Miami by 17.

Buffalo (+6.5) at Tennessee
There are two teams in the NFL that aspire to defend the run as “well” as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do. One of them is the Buffalo Bills. Titans by a touchdown.

New Orleans (-13.5) at St. Louis
There is the potential here for an entire NFL game to be played without a single punt. Why? Because the Saints are likely to score every time they get the ball. And the Rams are equally likely to see their every offensive possession end in a turnover. I’m thinking I don’t really need to say this outright, but, yeah, I’m taking the Saints and giving the points.

Jacksonville (+7) at NY Jets
There’s a perception out there that last week’s win may signal that the Jaguars have figured out how to right their problem defense. And you never know; that could be the case. But you’ll forgive me if I say I’d like to see Jacksonville perform well against a team that isn’t rebuilding before I come to any conclusions. Jets by a touchdown (yes, with the extra point).

Atlanta (-1.5) at Carolina
This is the game for week 10 that’s gonna go the other way no matter how I pick it. I’ve got exactly two thoughts, both of them purely hunch based. First, I think Carolina’s inability to hold onto the football is more likely to be a problem in this game than Atlanta’s inability to stop the run. (But, honestly, it could easily work out the other way around.) Second, I have a feeling last weekend’s collapse will ultimately prove more deflating to the Panthers than their 0-3 start. I’m taking Atlanta and giving the point and a half, knowing I’m gonna be wrong.

Cincinnati (+7) at Pittsburgh
The Bengals took care of business when they got the Steelers at home back in week three. And they handled the Ravens, who run a similar D to Pittsburgh’s, pretty good last week. And they’ve got a damned good run defense and some pickoff specialists lurking in the secondary. So you’ve gotta figure they’ve got a shot here. I’m not sure any of that will be enough, frankly. But it’s something to pin your hopes on if you’re a Cincy fan. And reason enough for me to feel pretty good about the Bengals at least covering. Pittsburgh by three.

Kansas City (+2) at Oakland
Neither of these teams is worth the time it’s gonna take me to type out this pick. But here it is: The Raiders offense manages an average of 9.8 points per game. 9.8. That’s not even two scores. And what’s crazy is, Oakland’s not the lowest scoring team in the league. They’re tied with Cleveland at 31st, .2 points per game ahead of St. Louis. You know where else the Raiders are tied for second-to-last place? Giveaway-takeaway. They’re at -9. And while the Chiefs have shown me very little by way of promise this season, I can’t pick a team as awful as the Raiders. I just can’t. Kansas City by three.

Dallas (-3) at Green Bay
Yeah, I know. The Cowboys are on a nice little run since coming back from their week six bye. And the Packers have looked … let’s say less than good in back-to-back losses to Minnesota and, ulp, Tampa Bay these last two weeks. Still, I have a hard time picking any team to beat a second consecutive strong opponent on the road. And I have to imagine the Packers are gonna be pissed off and looking to prove something (even if only to themselves). So I’m looking for the home squad to pull of the upset here. Packers by six.

Philadelphia (+2) at San Diego
Given the way they’ve been playing of late, I’m not sure I’d be willing to pick the Eagles if they had a secondary. And apparently they don’t. So I’m taking the Chargers and giving the points.

Seattle (+8.5) at Arizona
A team is going to win the NFC West this season. Just like every season. And it’s going to be every bit as much an injustice as it ever is that whatever team that is gets a home playoff game. Oh, well. Cardinals by 13-ish.

New England (+3) at Indianapolis
If I thought there were anything, like one single thing, I could write about this game that hasn’t been said or written a million times in a million other places this week, I’d get right to it. But, let’s face it, this is the most overanalyzed game not just this week but this season. There’s nothing left. So I’ll just point out that the difference in this game will almost have to come by way of defensive plays. Because, look, both teams bring powerhouse offenses to the field. And neither team has been anything more or less than middle of the pack in terms of special teams play (overall, that is; the Patriots are near the top of the list in field goals and the Colts are at the bottom in terms of kickoffs and punting, but overall it comes out to average on both sides of the ball with New England having maybe a very slight edge). So it’s about D. That pretty much means it’s a matter of whether you believe the Colts’ pass rush or the Patriots’ secondary will be the unit that makes the two or three big plays that will decide the game. And I have more faith in New England’s O line than I have in the Colts receivers, particularly given the fact that Indy doesn’t have a running offense you have to worry all that much about, which should free up the Pats DBs to maintain tight coverage. I expect to see a game that’s competitive from start to finish, but I expect the Patriots to come out ahead, by the margin of one score (whether it’ll be a field goal or a touchdown, I can’t say, but it doesn’t matter since the visiting Patriots are getting points).

Baltimore (-10.5) at Cleveland
Nice bit of scheduling here, NFL. I mean, I get that this is a rivalry game (of sorts), but, hell, I knew the Browns were gonna suck this season. Most of the football watching world knew the Browns were gonna suck this season (even Cleveland fans knew it). So how did you not pick up on that? Ravens by 17 (at halftime, which is about as late as anyone will still be paying attention).

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Week Ten, Thursday Night Pick

November 12th, 2009 Comments off

I’m not gonna be able to finish all of my picks before tonight’s game starts, so I might as well kick off the getting things wrong for week ten with the only matchup that matters for the nonce.

Chicago (+3) at San Francisco
There’s not much to get excited about with either of these middling NFC squads, particularly on defense. Ultimately, I suppose I have less concern about how San Fran’s weak pass defense matches up against Chicago’s pass-oriented offense than I have about how the Bears, and their weak run D, match up with the Niners and their balanced offensive attack. I’ll take San Fran straight up, though I think the Bears can hold the margin down to a point or two.

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Week Nine PIcks

November 8th, 2009 Comments off

OK, so this week we’ve got to see a significant upset somewhere in the NFL. Right? I mean, right? Once again, though, I challenge anyone to tell me where to look for it. Here’s what not to expect.

Baltimore (-3) at Cincinnati
Here’s what I’m trying to figure out: What do you do, when you’re looking ahead to this game, with the fact that the Bengals four weeks ago went into Baltimore and upset the Ravens. Because, you know, on one hand if they did it there, they should be able to do it in their own stadium, right? But on the other, it’s hard to sweep a good team in the regular season, and Baltimore has a good team. There’s no answer to be found in the stats. Yeah, the Ravens have a bit of a statistical edge, but a good bit of that is negated by the Bengals’ home-field advantage. And most of the rest has to do with the Ravens being near impossible to run against, something that hardly posed a problem for Ced Benson last time around. Giveaway-takeaway doesn’t help. Nothing. Or at least none of my tricks are holding up. So do I fall back on the home team? Or do I fall back on the favorite? Or do I pull my hair out because I’ve gotta make a choice. Ultimately, I guess what I’ll do is figure that the Ravens need the win more. Lose this game and winning the AFC North becomes pretty close to impossible if you’re Baltimore (they’d be 4-4 overall, 1-2 in the division while Cincy would be 6-2, 4-0). So I’ll take the Ravens straight up, though I wouldn’t give more than a point.

Arizona (+3) at Chicago
So I guess, based on what I’ve been hearing and reading, that I’m supposed to be impressed by the fact that the Cardinals are 3-0 on the road. And I would be, if they weren’t 1-3 at home. I mean, you just can’t go around throwing stuff out there like it’s happening in a vacuum. Plus, guess what: The Cardinals are 3-0 on the road? The Bears are 3-0 at home. I may be getting this wrong, but I’m thinking the home winning streak is the easier one to maintain. So, yeah, the Cardinals are probably the better team, but I’m still taking the Bears. Straight up. It’s a push with the points.

Washington (+10) at Atlanta
Is it just me or are there maybe more important things for the Native Americans’ coaching staff to focus on right now than whether John Riggins is being unfair to Dan Snyder? Falcons by 14.

Green Bay (-9.5) at Tampa Bay
Let’s see. The Buccaneers rank 29th in the league in total offense (though, good news, Tampa fans, they’re tied for 28th in scoring) and 24th in total defense (though, bad news, Tampa fans, they’re 30th in points allowed). Plus, the Bucs giveaway-takeaway differential is minus-two, while the Packers are tied for a league-best plus-12. So, yeah, this ought to be close. I’m taking the Packers and I’d happily give double the points.

Miami (+10.5) at New England
Last season, Joey Porter was back to being a fine football player. This season, he’s back to being just another guy with more talent for running his mouth. than for playing football. That seems unlikely to help the Dolphins in this game. Patriots by 17.

Kansas City (+6.5) at Jacksonville
You know, considering last week’s debacle, I’d be sorely tempted to take the Chiefs if they only had a running game. But they don’t, so it’s kind of a non-issue. Jags by three.

Houston (+9) at Indianapolis
The Colts are gonna start to feel the sting of the major injury losses their defense has suffered. Next weekend. This week they’re offense ought to be able to carry the team. I’ll take Houston with the nine, but the Texans aren’t good enough to challenge the Colts straight up.

Carolina (+13) at New Orleans
I love that there’s this idea floating around out there that the Panthers can beat the Saints. Because, um, no they can’t. I don’t even see them coming within two touchdowns. I’m taking the Saints and giving the points.

Detroit (+10) at Seattle
It’s hard to imagine Seattle beating any team by better than 10 points. Equally hard to imagine the Lions keeping it closer than 10 on the road. So let’s go ahead and expect this one to come in at exactly the oddsmakers’ margin. Seahawks win 27-17.

Tennessee (+4.5) at San Francisco
The 49ers are hardly a great football team, but I assure you, they’re not giving up anything like the 305 yards of rushing offense the Titans got from their last opponents. I’m taking San Fran and giving the points.

San Diego (+4.5) at NY Giants
I can’t imagine the Giants losing a fourth straight game. Or the Chargers winning a third straight. Or, frankly, given the San Diego defense’s complete inability to stop the run, the Chargers offense having the ball more than 20 minutes. Giants by eight.

Dallas (+3) at Philadelphia
I don’t know what to make of either of these teams. (Like everybody else, though some won’t admit it, I’ve got a good feel for the identity of exactly one team in the NFC East, and it’s the definitively sucky one.) All I for sure is this: The Cowboys’ giveaway-takeaway differential is minus-one; the Eagles’ is a league-best plus-12. That’s a difference of nearly two takeaways a game in Philly’s favor, which I figure has gotta be worth at least a touchdown. And since I’m rounding up slightly on the give-take average, I’ll round down by shaving off the extra point. Eagles by six.

Pittsburgh (-3) at Denver
It’s not often the Steelers’ D is the lesser of two in a given game. And there are a lot of people who’ll tell you it isn’t in this one. But it is. And that’ll be the difference. Broncos, 13-10.

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Week Eight Picks

November 1st, 2009 Comments off

It feels like upside-down week to me. I can’t tell you why. It’s just a hunch. And, of course, you can’t pick based on hunches. Or I suppose you can, it’s just not terribly smart. And I like to at least pretend to be … let’s just say unstupid. So don’t look for anything shocking here. Just the usual unreliable picks. And maybe a little more than the usual caution against counting on anything I say to so much as resemble what will actually play out on the field come Sunday.

Seattle (+9.5) at Dallas
No, last week didn’t do much to change my overall opinion of the Cowboys. I still think they’re headed for 8-8, maybe 9-7. That said, there’s not a whole lot of reason to think the Seahawks can win this, or frankly that Seattle’s semi-healthy quarterback won’t get the same treatment on this visit to Dallas that he got the last Thanksgiving. And I’m not sure Hasselbeck can actually survive a seven-sack afternoon at this point. I’m quite sure the Seahawks can’t. I’m taking Dallas and giving the points.

St. Louis (+4) at Detroit
You know what’s a sure sign that a team is really, really awful? When it’s getting four points from the Detroit Lions. On any field. If the Rams don’t find a way to win this weekend, it may be 2010 before they record their next victory. Sorry, St. Louis. Lions by three.

Miami (+3.5) at NY Jets
As I see it, there are two ways to look at this game, and both of them point to the Jets winning. You can look at this thing as a coin toss, which is where you get if you look at the stats. These squads are fairly evenly matched; they’re division rivals who are gonna show up to play, and both probably think they still have a shot at the AFC East title (even though they don’t). So if it’s a coin toss, you go with the home team. That’s New Jersey. Or you can look at the game as the second part of a season series, the first of which went to Miami. In that case, you have to take into consideration the fact that it’s exceedingly hard, unless you’ve got a juggernaut of a squad, to sweep a division rival in the regular season. That point of view also favors the Jets. Now, maybe you’re thinking something along the lines of “blah, blah, blah, Jets won’t be able to stop the wildcat.” And I get that point of view. Sort of. Thing, is, I also dismiss that point of view. Because, look, Miami doesn’t really run a wildcat. They mostly just do direct snaps to the running back out of a single wing formation. And the Jets can mount an effective defense against that.. I expect them to do just that here, and to come out ahead, by let’s say four, as a result.

San Francisco (+12.5) at Indianapolis
The crazy thing about this game is that it actually represents a step up in the level of competition from the Colts’ last cakewalk. So that should make for a compelling two or three minutes of football before this thing is officially over. Indianapolis by 20.

Cleveland (+13) at Chicago
The Browns rank last in the league on defense and second to last on offense. I’m pretty sure it was all Erin O’Brien’s fault. And with that problem fixed, I’m looking for Cleveland to have a huge day. I won’t be at all surprised if the Browns end up losing this one by as few 14 points.

Denver (+3.5) at Baltimore
If you believe the numbers, which I do, these teams are about as evenly matched as you’ll find this weekend in the NFL. That tells me this game’s gonna come down to one key play. And my guess is, it’s going to be a turnover. So I’ll take the Broncos, who are slightly better than the Ravens both at holding onto the ball and taking it away, to come away with a win straight up.

Houston (-3.5) at Buffalo
You can’t win in the NFL when you give up 173 yards a game on the ground. Houston by a field goal.

NY Giants (-1) at Philadelphia
I should probably pick the Eagles. I’m pretty sure I would pick the Eagles if I were smart. Because, look, it’s a divisional game between two teams that are largely evenly matched, both of them dealing with an ever-growing number of injuries, and it’s being played in Philadelphia. That’s all I should need to know. Trouble is, I have a hard time picking a team to win a tough game coming off a short week, which the Eagles are doing. Bigger trouble is that Philly might have to go without Brian Westbrook. And if he can’t play, it’s not an even matchup. So, while I’m pretty sure it’s a stupid move that I’m almost certain to regret, I’m taking the Giants, though if they win it, they’ll probably do it by exactly the one point they’re giving.

Jacksonville (+3) at Tennessee
Can someone explain to me how it is that the winless Tennessee Titans are actually giving three points in this game? Do the oddsmakers really have that much faith in Vince Young? Because I don’t. Jaguars by nine.

Oakland (+16.5) at San Diego
The Raiders have one of the worst run defenses in the league. They’ve given up a league-high 11 rushing touchdowns this season. So while I’m not exactly in awe of the Chargers this season, I have a hard time imagining they’ll lose by less than two touchdowns here. San Diego wins; Oakland barely covers.

Minnesota (+3) at Green Bay
You know, maybe it’s just me, but I’m having a hard time figuring out any interesting angle on this game. I mean, I know there must be some kind of storyline here, but I look and look and look at the thing and I just draw a blank. I do think Green Bay will win it, probably by a field goal. So there’s that.

Carolina (+10) at Arizona
If the Panthers were a better team, you’d have heard a lot of talk this week about them looking for revenge for last season’s NFC Championship loss to the Cardinals. Instead, all you’re likely to hear about Carolina looking for are a new coach and a new quarterback. Arizona by 13

Atlanta (+10) at New Orleans
In which the Saints effectively sew up the NFC South title. New Orleans by 12.

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