The Illini General's Football Picks

After a one-week, work-caused hiatus, I'm back with a vengeance. Ok, maybe not a vengeance, but I'm back. Two weeks ago, I struggled once again with the student athletes (2-4-0, 17-23-3 overall), but had my best week yet with the NFL (9-4-1, 28-30-2 overall). Can I maintain my momentum after a week's absence? Read here for more.

#13 Michigan Wolverines (5-1, 3-0) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-4, 0-3)
Wolverines by 19

The Illini will look to muck Fichigan, but will most likely continue to muck themselves. The losses continue to mount and the fans continue to grow apathetic. Last week, not one person called into the statewide Ron Turner radio show. At this rate, -27 people will call to question the coach after the Northwestern game.

The Illinois defense made a sub par Michigan State offense look like gold last week in East Lansing and they're supposed to be the bad team from the Great Lake State. Look for the maize and blue to turn Illinois black and blue.

As of Thursday morning, Turner has still not named a starting quarterback. Jon Beutjer, Chris Pazan and Brad Bower are all fair game to try and get the Illini into the endzone against the Wolverines. All are also fair game to be knocked silly by Michigan. Is there any chance that Turner can choose from Tony Eason, Jason Verduzco and Kurt Kittner?

This Illinois-Michigan game will be played utilizing instant replay, but that device is about 4 years too late.

Things don't look great for the Saturday morning contest, but at least the basketball team is starting practice afterwards.

Michigan Wolverines 41, Illinois Fighting Illini 17. Would it be too much to ask if one of the Illini running backs went out of bounds on the Michigan sideline and "accidentally" bumped into Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr?

#20 Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-1, 2-1) vs. Michigan State Spartans (3-3, 2-1)
Golden Gophers by 9.5

Last week against Michigan, the Golden Gophers practically had the Little Brown Jug in their hands until the Wolverines scored in the final minutes of the game. If I were a Minnesota player, I would have turned to the little brown bottle on Saturday night to help me get over that close loss. However, I'm an Illini fan, so I often turn to the little brown bottle during football season.

Minnesota Golden Gophers 33, Michigan State Spartans 21. Michigan State's best chance to stop Minnesota's running backs would be to hit them with bottles.

#23 Ohio State Buckeyes (3-2, 0-2) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-1)
Buckeyes by 2.5

Ohio State was cruising along in their normal style of winning close games, but not blowing anybody out, until they ran into Northwestern. Then, they ran into Wisconsin. Now, they run into Iowa. Does that mean that the Buckeyes lose again? I don't know; I'm just trying to fill this paragraph.

Ohio State Buckeyes 20, Iowa Hawkeyes 19. I'm picking Ohio State to win strictly on the basis that their basketball coach is a much better coach than Iowa's basketball coach.

#12 Wisconsin Badgers (6-0, 3-0) vs. #5 Purdue Boilermakers (5-0, 2-0)
Boilermakers by 6.5

The winner here is in the driver's seat for the Big Eleven championship and an outside shot at a national championship. If you had told me in 1990 that Wisconsin and Purdue would fight it out in a game with such meaning, I'd have said that you were crazy. I also would have said that you were creepy for talking to 11-year olds about what would happen 14 years later in college football.

Wisconsin Badgers 27, Purdue Boilermakers 24. Kyle Orton's dream season hits its' first rough patch. Orton threw two picks against a comatose Penn State team, so I think the Badgers can get to him.

Washington Redskins (1-3) vs. Chicago Bears (1-4)
Pick 'em

Like myself, the Bears took last week off. However, the league scheduled their absence, while I was too busy at work and didn't have the time. Either that or I just couldn't come up with anything funny to say about the games. Of course if you ask some people, they will tell you that I've never had anything funny to say about the games.

After a daunting early schedule, the Bears finally get to play somebody bad. Plus, the game will be in Chicago, so there's another advantage for the Bears. Now that I think about it, Joe Gibbs has had some success bringing in Redskins teams to Chicago and winning. But, those games were in the playoffs in the 80's and this is the 00's and neither of these teams will sniff the playoffs.

The biggest advantage for the Bears is the fact that the Redskins coaching staff contains Greg Blache. Yes, former Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache. The same Greg Blache who thought sacks were unimportant and was the biggest blowhard defensive coordinator in Chicago since Buddy Ryan. There was one giant difference between Blache and Ryan: Buddy Ryan was successful. Jonathan Quinn should have the game of his life. That's not saying much since he's played about five times and none of them have been any good.

Chicago Bears 19, Washington Redskins 15. If the Redskins lose another game, I think Gibbs would rather be run over by the #18 Interstate Batteries car than having to listen to the Redskins maniacal, miniature owner Daniel Snyder.

Miami Dolphins (0-5) vs. Buffalo Bills (0-4)
Bills by 6

If Dave Wannstedt ever gets hired as a head coach in the NFL after this season, the owner that does the hiring should have their team taken away. If Wannstedt were the coach of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins, they would have won about two games.

Buffalo Bills 14, Miami Dolphins 10. Don't you think that Wannstedt watched the 1985 Bears vs. Dolphins Monday Night Football game and laughed maniacally about how he could destroy the franchises if given the choice?

San Francisco 49ers (1-4) vs. New York Jets (4-0)
Jets by 10

The Jets are a surprising 4-0, while the 49ers are an unsurprising 1-4. Actually, the Niners record surprises me. I'm surprised they were able to win a game. It's not like the Jets have played the toughest schedule in the world. New York's opponents are a combined 4-14, with three of those wins being by the Chargers. Y-U-C-K, yuck, yuck, yuck.

New York Jets 24, San Francisco 49ers 16. The poor schedule continues as the Jets next game is against that high school from "Head of the Class."

Seattle Seahawks (3-1) vs. New England Patriots (4-0)
Patriots by 4

My prediction for the Super Bowl match up happens a few months early and in Foxboro, MA instead of Jacksonville, FL. I heard that Seattle was so troubled by their collapse against the Rams last week that Mike Holmgren called the Mariners to see if Eddie Guardado could translate his skills at closing baseball games to the football field.

New England Patriots 21, Seattle Seahawks 18. You would think that a football game between two of the league's best would be a big deal, but there is apparently going to be a baseball series involving Boston this weekend. I'm surprised that ESPN or Fox haven't mentioned anything about that series.

Carolina Panthers (1-3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (4-0)
Eagles by 9

This rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game looks like a mismatch. The Panthers have lost all of their offensive threats named Stephen or Steve to injury and their normally strong defense can't stop anybody. Philly is flying high and everyone is happy. Terrell Owens is in such a good mood and was last seen wearing an argyle sweater vest on Fox during Philly's off week. Apparently, he was trying out his Chandler Bing Halloween costume.

Philadelphia Eagles 28, Carolina Panthers 21. I'm going to take the "Friends" theme just a little bit further. The Eagles can be considered the careers of the cast of "Friends" while the show was on: solid performances week in and week out. The Panthers can be considered the careers of the cast of "Friends" now that the show is over: a lot is expected, but results will be mixed.

Cincinnati Bengals (1-3) vs. Cleveland Browns (2-3)
Browns by 2.5

Football season has hit a rough patch in Ohio. The Buckeyes were cruising along at 3-0, but have lost their last two games to Northwestern and Wisconsin. This season was supposed to mark the return to the playoffs for the Bengals under Marvin Lewis, but they are struggling at 1-3. Cleveland fans were pumped after the Browns knocked off Baltimore in the opener, but they are below .500 at 2-3. At least the state of Ohio still has Columbus Blue Jackets hockey to get excited about.

Cincinnati Bengals 17, Cleveland Browns 14. The loser of this game switches schedules with the Toledo Rockets for the rest of the year. Maybe the Browns can win the MAC West, since they won't win the AFC North.

Green Bay Packers (1-4) vs. Detroit Lions (3-1)
Lions by 2

Brett Favre has always struggled in domed stadiums in Detroit. He struggled when he wasn't feeling the lingering effects of a concussion. He struggled when he didn't have to deal with the recent death of a family member. He struggled when the Packers were great and the Lions stunk. Now that the Packers stink and the Lions are decent, I think he will continue to struggle.

Detroit Lions 24, Green Bay Packers 20. Of course, the Packers woes are not all Favre's fault. The Packers defense has played worse than moldy cheese smells.

Houston Texans (2-3) vs. Tennessee Titans (2-3)
Titans by 6.5

The Titans used to be the Houston Oilers until they left town in the mid 90's. The breakup between the Oilers and the city of Houston resembled that of a breakup in a country music song. It could have been called "All My Ex-Fans Live In Texas."

Tennessee Titans 28, Houston Texans 24. Since all their ex-fans live in Texas, the Titans hang their helmets in Tennessee. Call Randy Travis, I think we've got a chart-topper here.

San Diego Chargers (3-2) vs. Atlanta Falcons (4-1)
Falcons by 4.5

The Michael Vick Experience broke down last week against the Lions, but the park operators hope to have the ride up and running again before Sunday. The Chargers are looking rejuvenated and if teams won games based how cool their retro uniforms looked, San Diego would win the Super Bowl every year.

San Diego Chargers 22, Atlanta Falcons 21. Once again, Atlanta fails in October. Wait, that's the Braves with the history of October collapses.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)
Chiefs by 1.5

Wasn't it just two weeks ago that everybody had left Kansas City for dead and had Jacksonville penciled in for the Super Bowl? By the way, when I say everybody, I mean ESPN. National opinions seemed to have changed on these two, but I still have the same opinion on them: neither team is doing anything of any importance.

Jacksonville Jaguars 28, Kansas City Chiefs 25. Next!

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) vs. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Cowboys by 3

Earlier this week, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells compared Steelers rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's performance this year to that of Dan Marino during his rookie year. The Tuna said that Big Ben is the best quarterback prospect that he has seen in 10 or 15 years. Apparently Parcells doesn't remember how Ryan Leaf and Cade McNown took the league by storm in their rookie years.

Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 18. If elderly Cowboys quarterback Vinny Testaverde gets hurt, maybe Parcells can see what Leaf and McNown are up to these days. I'll give you a hint: it ain't professional football.

Denver Broncos (4-1) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-3)
Broncos by 2

I'm bored with the Raiders. They just don't do anything exciting and crazy any more. There used to be lawsuits and arrests all the time and now everybody on the team has settled down. It's like a roster full of Charlie Sheen's. They need to get back to the good old days. Isn't it about time Al Davis moved them back to Los Angeles?

Denver Broncos 24, Oakland Raiders 19. The only difference between the Raiders and Chuck Sheen is that Denise Richards isn't hanging around naked at the Coliseum in Oakland.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4) vs. St. Louis Rams (3-2)
Rams by 6

These two teams are a long way away from the 1999 NFC Championship Game. Actually, Tampa only scored six points in that game, so their offense is right where it was five years ago. The Rams showed some signs of life last week, with Marc Bulger's walk-off touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald. The game winning score wasn't the highlight of that game, though. Mike Martz's giddy little dance stole the thunder of his team's comeback.

St. Louis Rams 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22. I say forget the football and just let Martz and Jon Gruden have a dance contest to decide the winner.

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