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Week Nine Picks

November 5th, 2004

Depressed about the outcome of the presidential election? Down in the dumps about the Patriots’ first loss of the season last week in Pittsburgh. Offended by the miserable lineup of Monday Night Football games so far this season? Don’t worry. We’re gonna solve two of those three problems this week. Unfortunately, the big one’s gonna haunt us all for another four years. But that’s all the more reason to take the little victories where we can get them. Here are my picks. And here’s my tip of the week: Don’t lose money taking betting advice from me.

Arizona (+3) at Miami
This is without question the number one game of the week — ranked alphabetically by visiting team’s home. And that’s the most interesting thing I can think of to say about this game. Take the Fins straight up. Don’t bet this game at all, because that’s not gonna make it one bit more exciting (and it’s a push, anyhow).

Dallas (-1) at Cincinnati
Please, Bengals, please beat the Cowboys. Please. I just so love it when Parcells’ team loses. Don’t think they will or anything, but I can hope, can’t I?

Kansas City (-3) at Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay’s D hasn’t been stellar this season, and it won’t have a banner day on Sunday. But it should do well enough to keep Priest Holmes from finding the end zone a half dozen times (or whatever ridiculous number he’s averaged the last two games). And Michael Pittman should do well enough to keep the Bucs from being embarrassed in front of the home crowd. But that won’t be quite enough to lift the Bucs to a win, or even to help them keep it within a field goal.

N.Y. Jets (-3) at Buffalo
It’s hard to run against the Bills. And the Bills run the ball well against the Jets. And it’s supposed to rain on Sunday in Buffalo. So, you know, the home team could pull off the upset here. I don’t think they will, though, because I don’t think Drew Bledsoe can survive the Jets’ pass rush. Take the Jets straight up. Against the spread it’s a push.

Oakland (+7) at Carolina
I’m looking for the straight-ahead upset here, but I’m a Raiders fan and you’re probably not. I’m expecting Kerry Collins to have a good enough day that the team won’t squander the big, big day Tyrone Wheatley is gonna have. But you shouldn’t listen to me on this one. You should play it safe and pick the big, home favorites straight up, though I’d still take the Raiders with the points if I were you.

Philadelphia (pick ’em) at Pittsburgh
The Steelers, on the heels of ending the defending champion Patriots’ league-record 21-game winning streak, look to earn themselves a shipment of champagne courtesy of the ’72 Dolphins. Will they be able to knock off the last of this season’s unbeatens? Well, someone’s gonna do it. And the Steelers are hot and at home. Plus they’ve got a solid running game, which the Eagles shouldn’t be able to stop and which should help them keep the dangerous combination of Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens off the field. So I’m gonna go with yes, Steelers by a field goal.

Washington (+3) at Detroit
The Redskins do pretty well against the run, so this isn’t supposed to be the week Kevin Jones breaks out. But it will be. And the Lions will take it by a little more than a field goal.

Chicago (+9) at N.Y. Giants
The Bears are down to like two starters. And they’re both kickers. (This isn’t actually true; I’m illustrating a point here, OK?) So, you know, I kinda like Tiki Barber to outscore Chicago all by himself. Take the Giants to win and cover.

New Orleans (+6.5) at San Diego
There’s potential for a big upset here. The Saints are coming off a bye week. They should be healthy and ready to go. The Chargers are headed into their bye. They’re anything but healthy. They’ve come on strong, but they’re limping a bit at the moment. They can probably afford to give up a game, given the way Denver has been playing of late, and a non-conference game can be hard to get up for under these circumstances. You have to take the Saints with the points, but I still like the Chargers to get it done straight up.

Seattle (-6.5) at San Francisco
The Niners are in full-on self-destruct mode, with players bickering over whether they should or shouldn’t talk about whether they’re better off without Terrell Owens. They’re not. And so they shouldn’t. But the fact that they’re sniping at each other in the press about such a silly matter only shows that these guys’ heads are all in the wrong place. The Seahawks? They just wanna make sure they keep on winning. They will. They’ll cover, too.

Houston (+6.5) at Denver
David Carr could potentially have a huge day against a Broncos D that suddenly can’t stop a damned thing. And he may yet. But the Broncos offense will find a way to compensate, because they really, really have to. The Chiefs are pushing their way back into contention in the AFC West. The Chargers are already there. And so the Broncos can’t afford to drop their third straight. Not in a home game. Take Denver straight up, but go with Houston and the points.

New England (-2) at St. Louis
No Ty Law and no Tyrone Poole are supposed to translate to a loss for the Patriots. That’s the way a lot of folks see it, anyhow. The handicappers, however, still have the road team favored by two. There’s a reason for that. Pats fans should be worried, but not about the missing players. The worry is the same as it is whenever you play on a carpet: It’s easy for more guys to get hurt. Barring some catastrophic injury, however, the Pats should come out of this one smiling. Corey Dillon comes back from his injury to have a big, big day, taking some of the heat off Tom Brady. And Adam Vinatieri makes the difference, just as he did the last time the Pats played the Rams.

Cleveland (+6) at Baltimore
Jamal Lewis is back, and he almost always has a big, big day against the Browns. The Ravens D is as tough as they get. And Baltimore is at home. That adds up to the Ravens by a touchdown, maybe a little bit more.

Minnesota (+6) at Indianapolis
The difference here is Randy Moss. If Moss plays, you take the Vikings to cover. If he doesn’t, you don’t. Either way, you take the home team to win straight up. And, of course, you bet the over. Way, way over.

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