JackSmack: Issue #24

Oh, Tiger fans, our only, and I mean our only salvation of this football season can come with a win Saturday in Columbia. Right now, we're (+4 ½) point dogs. With a win, we would have a shot at the Peach Bowl. With a loss, I see us where CBSsportsline.com has us: in the Tangerine Bowl against Pitt.

Maryland will go to the BCS, and FSU will be in the Gator. How about the ACC last week: NC State over FSU, Wake over UNC, and Virginia over GT. I hate to say it, but it's really a pretty sorry conference this year. I'd put us right there with the SEC West, which is still better than the Big East. By the way, did Julius Peppers surprise anyone by announcing his intentions to go pro after this season?

As for last week's picks, I had another subpar 1-2 Saturday. Thank you Ken Dorsey for the 4 interceptions, and Washington didn't even show up as Oregon State routed them. I did get Oregon correct (+3) winning 21-20 over UCLA.

As for the Heisman race, bye Mr. Dorsey. It's down to two. I don't know who continues to talk about Joey Harrington, but it's between Crouch and Grossman.

In the BCS, three teams control their own destiny: Nebraska, Miami, and Oklahoma. Nebraska has to play @ Colorado the Friday after Thanksgiving before the Big 12 Championship, while OU has to play @ an underrated Texas Tech squad to get into the Championship game. Miami certainly has no cakewalk with Syracuse, VT, and Washington left on the schedule. I would like to see the Gators get in and if they win out, they've got a great shot, with FSU this weekend, a 6th ranked Tennessee team the next, and then a possible top-15 Auburn team in the SEC Championship. It could get interesting.

Last week nationally, Auburn beat Georgia to wrap up it's berth in the SEC title game. In the Pac-10, Oregon can win only if they beat Oregon State at home, and Washington State loses @ Washington. (Another loss for the Huskies wouldn't help Miami's cause either.) In the Big-10, Michigan gets Ohio State at home to end the season in 2 weeks, which would send Illinois to the Citrus Bowl who slipped by a fighting Penn State team last week.

This week, there are a lot of good games. Here they are: (*--who I'd take)

(13) Syracuse* @ (2) Miami (-21) (A lot of points to give to a real solid team.)

(20) FSU @ (3) Florida* (-15) (The ‘Noles haven't been ‘dogs by this much in a dozen years, but the Gators are clicking with Grossman.)

(4) Oklahoma (-7 ½) @ Texas Tech* (I think the Red Raiders will take it to the wire.)

(9) Maryland* (-7) @ NC State (I think the ‘Terps roll with the ACC crown at stake.)

(10) Wash. St.* (-1) @ (14) Washington (Again, I like the Cougars with Pac-10 title on the line.)

(12) Illinois* @ Ohio State (-2 ½) (Why are the Illini getting points?)

(17) Virginia Tech (-15) @ Virginia* (This is one of the strangest spreads I've seen this year.)

Alabama* @ (18) Auburn (-3) (I'll take the points in this heated rivalry that ‘Bama also needs to become bowl-eligible.)

(21) UCLA (-1 ½) @ USC* (The Bruins have just burned me too many times this year.)

(23) Georgia Tech (-7 ½) @ Wake Forest* (I'll take the points in this weird one.)

For my picks of the week, I like Florida (-15) over the ‘Noles, and Iowa State giving (-9) @ Kansas. My take of the week, though, is Virginia at home, getting (+15) against the Hokies of Virginia Tech.

On to the NFL, where I gave you 3 winners last week in a 3-0 week of picks. The Rams routed Carolina, the Packers were a solid cover over the Bears, and the Ravens held on to cover against a hungry Titans team.

Also last week, Miami, Pittsburgh, and San Fran got to (6-2) by winning divisional games over Indy, Cleveland, and New Orleans respectively, and sending these latter 3 to (4-4).

The Jets and Ravens both got to (6-3), while the Pats and Giants both jumped to (5-4). Denver beat San Diego to put each team at (5-4). Seattle gave Oakland it's 2nd loss of the season behind Shaun Alexander's impressive 266 yards.

Philly blew out the Vikings to get to (5-3), and Cincinnatti fell to (4-4), while the Falcons climbed to (4-4).

This week's crucial games: (*--who I'd take)

Chicago* @ Tampa Bay (-4) (I don't buy the Bucs, but it's almost a must win.)

Cleveland* @ Baltimore (-8) (Too many points for the Raven's offense to cover.)

Indianapolis @ New Orleans* (-5) (No James, no defense, no cover.)

NY Jets* @ Miami (-6) (A lot of points in a big game.)

San Diego @ Oakland* (-9) (The Chargers start to fall apart.)

Washington* @ Denver (-8) (A lot of points for a team playing well.)

Sunday Night:
St. Louis* (-9) @ New England (The Pats are tought at home, but it's the Rams.)

Monday Night:
NY Giants @ Minnesota* (-2) (The Giants aren't winning, they're squeaking by.)

Before I get to the picks of the week, here's my top ten with the Saints, Broncos, and Seahawks on the bubble. (last week's ranking in parentheses)

1) St. Louis (7-1) (1)
2) Green Bay (6-2) (3)
3) Oakland (6-2) (2)
4) Miami (6-2) (4)
5) Pittsburgh (6-2) (5)
6) Baltimore (6-3) (7)
7) San Francisco (6-2) (8)
8) NY Jets (6-3) (UR)
9) Philadelphia (5-3) (9)
10) Chicago (6-2) (6)

Here are my picks this week: I like the ‘Niners (-6 ½) @ Carolina and Seattle (-3 ½) @ Buffalo. My take of the week is the Saints giving (-5) at home versus the Colts.

Here's my halfway look at who's going to the playoffs, who the spoilers could be, and what the best games left are for the rest of the season.

In the AFC, I see the top 2 teams in each division going to the playoffs. In the West, it's Oakland and I give the edge to Denver over San Diego. In the Central, it's Pittsburgh and Baltimore. And in the East, it's Miami and the Jets.

The NFC may be a bit more complicated. In the West, you've got the Rams, ‘Niners, and maybe the Saints. In the Central, I'm looking at Green Bay and Chicago's a maybe. In the East, Philly will go. The Giants might and who knows how hot the ‘Skins will get?

Here are my spoilers who could steal a game here and there and shake things up a bit: New England, Seattle, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Washington, and yes, Detroit.

By week, here are the big games left the rest of the season:

Week 12: NO @ NE, Oak @ NYG, Wash @ Phil
Week 13: Den @ Miami, NE @ NYJ
Week 14: Chic @ GB, NYJ @ Pitt, SF @ StL
Week 15: Oak @ SD, Miami @ SF, Phil @ Wash, TB @ Chic
Sunday Night: Pitt @ Balt
Monday Night: StL @ NO
Week 16: Miami @ NE, Phil @ SF, Chic @ Wash, NO @ TB, Sea @ NYG, NYJ @ Ind
Week 17: Balt @ TB, NYG @ Phil, Oak @ Den, Sea @ SD
Week 18: GB @ NYG, NYJ @ Oak, Phil @ TB, SF @ NO, Cleve @ Pitt

As you can see, there are 4 teams who have a ton of big games left that will determine who's in and who's out: the Giants, Saints, Bucs, and ‘Niners.

Some quick college hoops notes: it was great to see Arizona come out and win the Coaches vs. Cancer IKON Classic. It's always great to see Kentucky lose, but at the same time, do you realize WKU's coach was Barnes' old assistant at Clemson who we could have had in a heartbeat. They play serious defense and will go to the NCAA's again this year.

Well, go Tigers, we need this one badly!

Any questions, comments, or barbs, feel free to contact me at jacksmackcu01@yahoo.com.

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