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Week Eight Picks

November 1st, 2009

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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