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Week Seven Picks, Part Two

October 22nd, 2005

Wanna know why you shouldn’t put any stock into what I have to say about who’s gonna win this weekend (or ever)? Scroll on down to my brilliant breakdown of Friday night’s Kansas City/Miami matchup. That should tell you everything you need to know. Go. Now. OK, so you came back for whatever reason. Well, that’s your mistake, buster. I’m just gonna go ahead and make my picks. You do what you like.

Detroit (+3) at Cleveland
The first of two games this week wherein I’ve no idea who’s gonna be taking snaps for one of the teams. But you know what? I don’t really care about it in this case. Yes, I do believe the Lions would be better off with Jeff Garcia than with Joey Harrington (who’s shown no ability to complete passes even with an array of talented wideouts at his disposal), but I don’t think Garcia can turn an exceedingly poorly coached Detroit team around in a single game, especially since he’s unlikely to get the official tap much before Sunday morning (and probably not until halftime). I like Trent Dilfer to have a good (though not great) day against an ever-more-tired Detroit D and Romeo Crennel’s improving Cleveland defense to put the clamps on the Lions’ O no matter who’s under center. Take the Browns and give the points.

Green Bay (-1.5) at Minnesota
Goddamn, am I tired of hearing and reading apologists for Mike Tice. “It’s not Tice’s fault that the Vikings traded Randy Moss in the off-season.” “It’s not Tice’s fault that Onterrio Smith would rather smoke weed than play football.” “It’s not Tice’s fault that half the team was out on the lake getting blown by hookers when they should have been working on improving their play.” What? OK, maybe the Moss thing wasn’t Tice’s fault, but he’s surely at least partially culpable in the other matters. Tice, the Super Bowl ticket scalper, has no moral standing with his players. And he clearly has no ability to lead or his guys would have been working to get better during their bye week instead of partying down like they’d just won the Super Bowl. And, of course, there’s also the fact that Tice can’t coach for shit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Vikings won’t turn it around until Tice is out on the street, which, incidentally, is where he belongs. There are guys out there who can coach and who can lead. Give one of them a chance, Mr. Wilf. You’ll be glad you did. The Packers, meanwhile, lost their offensive line to the cap, lost key offensive skill players to injury, and keep on working their asses off and playing their hearts out every week. That’s a team you can get behind. It’s also a team that I like to win this one by seven.

Indianapolis (-15) at Houston
Unstoppable force meets Jello mold. Take Indy. Give the points. Whatever.

New Orleans (+3) at St. Louis
Did the Saints get robbed last week? I don’t know. Maybe. But then, so did the Fighting Irish. Maybe. Both ended up with losses, and there’s no taking either result back (plus, maybe if the Saints did have a game taken away from them by a bad call, it’s just a bit of instant karma for an owner who’s scheming to move his team to San Antonio while the city that’s supported it for decades is under water), so let’s shut up about it already. Let’s talk about the Rams’ quarterback situation, which has a good bit more bearing on this game. I don’t really trust Jamie Martin, who’ll be in for average quarterback/far below average defensive back Marc Bulger this week. Martin’s maybe a half step below Bulger in talent, and the thing is, the Rams have been about a half step away from sucking outright pretty much all season, so Martin’s presence in the starting lineup might just complete the job. I’ll say this: I won’t be surprised no matter who wins this game. I’m picking St. Louis because they’re at home, but that’s about it. I’m not putting any money on this thing, but if I had to, I’d say the Rams are as likely to win by three as they aren’t, so what the fuck.

Pittsburgh (even) at Cincinnati
Me, I’m still waiting for the Bengals to start their usual collapse. I guess it might not happen, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Still, with half a Hines Ward (or less) and no Antwaan Randle El to throw to, I can’t see Ben Roethlisberger accomplishing much. And I don’t see the Steelers’ D being able to shut down Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson. And the Bengals are at home. So, yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and take Cincinnati and not much care if I turn out to be wrong.

San Diego (+3.5) at Philadelphia
All I can say is that, home or not, and perfect record after a bye week notwithstanding, it’s very hard for me to understand how a team with a 23rd-ranked run defense is giving three and a half points (the opening line was four) to a team that has LaDainian Tomlinson, maybe the best player in the league right now, leading its fourth-ranked running offense. Just can’t see it. Yeah, Terrell Owens lines up on the other side. And he and Donovan McNabb should have a decent day against the Chargers’ 27th-ranked passing D. But the Chargers pass way better than the Eagles run. And the Chargers stop the run way, way, way better than the Eagles stop the pass. So the balance, as I see it, tips to San Diego. I’m taking the Chargers to win it outright.

San Francisco (+13) at Washington
There’s no way, given the sloppy play I’ve seen out of the Redskins at times this season, that I’d take them to beat anyone by two touchdowns. Not even the struggling 49ers. Hell, not even the awful Houston Texans. But I will take them to win straight up, because that’s what they’re gonna do.

Dallas (+3) at Seattle
I know a lot of people are looking to this as a possible letdown game for the Seahawks, whose last opponents (yup, the Texans) are looking less like an expansion team and more like a Pop Warner team every week, but I’m not so sure. The Cowboys do a pretty good job of stopping the run, but Shaun Alexander’s playing for money and records, which are clearly the things that motivate him most, making him tough to stop. And while the Cowboys have been passing the ball very well, they’re heading into Seattle with a guy at left tackle who lost his last job (right tackle) to a sixth-round draft pick last year. The guy he’s replacing, Flozell Adams, has been one of the Cowboys’ key offensive linemen. And while Drew Bledsoe’s been having a terrific season so far, those of us who watched him play in New England and Buffalo know what happens to Drew when he doesn’t get good protection. I’ll be interested to see what happens with Peerless Price in the lineup for Dallas. Last time Price and Bledsoe were teammates, they connected 94 times (which is what got Price his job in Atlanta where his attempt to become a number one receiver was a complete bust). With Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn and Price catching balls, things could get interesting if the line is able to hold. I’m betting it isn’t, though. I’m taking Seattle to win it, though only by a point.

Baltimore (+1) at Chicago
I picked against Baltimore last week, opining that the team is in too much of a tailspin to get it together and save its season. I was wrong. With the pick anyway. I stand by the rest of it. And I expect the Chicago defense to have a field day with Baltimore’s half an offense. In particular, I see Anthony Wright putting the ball into the hands of Charles Tillman and Chris Harris a few times, at least one of which will go for six the other way. I’m taking Chicago, rookie QB and all, and giving the point.

Buffalo (+3) at Oakland
Here’s why you should put your money on Buffalo: I’m taking Oakland (straight up, anyhow), and I can’t possibly pick this game right. Here’s another reason: If you want to know what a team that can’t get things done with Randy Moss catching passes looks like without Randy Moss catching passes, take a look at the Vikings. Get my point? Still, Buffalo hasn’t proven anything as far as I can see. And I’ll take LaMont Jordan against the Bills’ ultra-soft run defense any day of the week (twice on Sundays). I expect the Raiders to make enough mistakes in the passing game and on defense, and to commit enough penalties to ensure that it’s a close game (and anybody’s to win in the closing minutes), but I’m taking Oakland to win it by two.

Denver (+2) at NY Giants
The big question here is how bad is Plaxico Burress’ back? Because if Plaxico’s in the game and able to play as well as he’s capable, he and Eli Manning are gonna be burning the Broncos’ young, soft secondary all day long. If not, the Broncos should be able to pull off the victory. I’m gonna close my eyes, throw a dart and … yes, the dart says Plax will be just fine by game time. So I’m taking the Giants and giving the points. If I’m wrong, it’s the dart’s fault.

Tennessee (+3.5) at Arizona
The second of the week’s quarterback mystery games. Will Dennis Green play the kid who wins games (Josh McCown) or the veteran who loses them (Kurt Warner)? Dunno. I know what I’d do if I were Green, but I’m not, and Dennis has shown that he’ll bench McCown no matter how well the kid is doing if he thinks it’ll help his team lose a game. Maybe he’ll smarten up, though. And if he does it should pay off. I think McCown, Larry Fitzgerald and Marcel Shipp all could have great days against the Titans’ awful D. And while Tennessee’s steadfastly average offense probably doesn’t get any worse with Billy Volek in for Steve McNair, neither does it get any better, which sort of indicates the Titans D could spend a ton of time on the field. I’m taking Arizona straight up, assuming McCown will get the tap. But I’m warning you that if Warner goes, it’ll go the other way. And I’m taking Tennessee with the points either way, if only because it seems like a nice hedge.

NY Jets (+7) at Atlanta
I’m so glad I’ve got Falcons DB DeAngelo Hall on my fantasy team. With Vinny Testaverde under center for the Jets and New York’s starting center, Kevin Mawae, lost for the season, I’m expecting to see some pickable balls thrown up Monday night. I’m also expecting to see a lot of T.J. Duckett as the Falcons’ top-ranked rushing offense makes fools of the Jets’ 27th-ranked run D. Long night, kids, but if you hate the Jets it should be fun. Take Atlanta and give the points.

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