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Week Nine PIcks

November 8th, 2009

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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