The Illini General's Football Picks

You'll have to excuse me; my focus hasn't exactly been on football this week. I've been a little preoccupied with the NLCS. But, I've gathered my thoughts on the Big Eleven and the NFL and I'm ready to pick some winners. I broke even last week (2-2 last week and 17-23-3 overall in college and 7-7 last week and 28-30-2 overall in the NFL). Read here for this week's choices.

Illinois Fighting Illini (2-5, 0-4) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-2, 2-2)
Golden Gophers by 18.5

In previous editions of my football picks, I'd spend a few more paragraphs actually breaking down the offense, defense and coaches of Illinois and their opponents. It's reached a point where that's not worth it and this is just another game to pick the winner.

Once again, as a write this piece, Ron Turner has still not named a starting quarterback. Once again, it's between three different quarterbacks, but this time one of them is not Jon Beutjer. Considering all of the trouble the Illini have had behind center, it probably would be best just to directly snap the ball to Pierre Thomas.

Minnesota has two great running backs and tackling doesn't seem to be the strong point of the Illinois defense. This game could take a long time.

Minnesota Golden Gophers 35, Illinois Fighting Illini 17. Another game, another Big Eleven loss for the Illini. Do you think Ron Turner is starting to feel like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day?"


Indiana Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (3-3, 0-3)
Buckeyes by 14

This game reminds me of a Jeff Foxworthy joke: If your opponent has lost three straight games and your team is a 14-point underdog, you might be the Indiana Hoosiers football team.

Ohio State Buckeyes 28, Indiana Hoosiers 13. I'd say that Ohio State might want to try and get Craig Krenzel's eligibility restored, but there's a good chance that he replaces Jonathan Quinn as the Bears quarterback this week.


Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2, 2-1) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (2-4, 0-3)
Iowa by 2.5

Do they still have football in State College, PA? Since Illinois and Penn State haven't played in a couple years and the Nittany Lions haven't been that good, I haven't heard much about Joe Paterno's squad. Are Kerry Collins and Kyle Brady still on the team?

Iowa Hawkeyes 25, Penn State Nittany Lions 21. If Kerry Collins isn't under center, I'm not picking Penn State to win anything.


Northwestern Wildcats (3-3, 2-1) vs. #7 Wisconsin Badgers (7-0, 4-0)
Wisconsin by 12.5

Remember a few weeks ago when Northwestern beat then-undefeated Ohio State? Well, they won't duplicate that feat against the Badgers. Why? Well, that game was at Evanston and Ohio State has proven that they weren't that good.

Wisconsin Badgers 28, Northwestern Wildcats 15. Wisconsin = good, Northwestern = not as good.


#11 Michigan Wolverines (6-1, 4-0) vs. #12 Purdue Boilermakers (5-1, 2-1)
Boilermakers by 4.5

Purdue gets another chance to knock off a Big Eleven top dog at home. They didn't do it last week against Wisconsin, so why do I think they can do it against Michigan? Michigan has shown signs of struggling all season and I think Purdue just caved under the pressure of Homecoming against another undefeated team. Plus, Joe Tiller told his team that if they lost again, they would be hit with Purdue Pete's sledgehammer.

Purdue Boilermakers 24, Michigan Wolverines 21. In addition to the sledgehammer beat down, the Boilermakers also will be run over by the world's largest drum.


Chicago Bears (1-4) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)
Buccaneers by 6.5

In previous editions of my football picks, I'd spend a few more paragraphs actually breaking down the offense, defense and coaches of the Bears and their opponents. It's reached a point where that's not worth it and this is just another game to pick the winner.

The Bears were great during the 80's, while the Bucs were terrible. The Bucs were great during the late 90's and early 00's, while the Bears were awful (not counting 2001). Now, they're both terrible. Maybe in 2014 both teams can be good? That's probably asking for too much. I'd like to ask for a Bears win, but with Jonathan Quinn and Krenzel in command, that would be asking for too much.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16, Chicago Bears 13. I read where the Bears are bringing in Tim Couch for a physical and workout. If they sign Couch, I hope they go after Akili Smith so they can say they have had all the first round quarterback busts of the 1999 NFL Draft on their roster.


Buffalo Bills (1-4) vs. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
Ravens by 6

I was just watching "SportsCenter" and saw on the ticker that Buffalo extended the contract of defensive coordinator Jerry Gray. Seriously? I know the Bills haven't given up a lot of points, but handing out more years and more money to the coaching staff of a 1-4 team seems odd. They should worry about the possibility of Drew Bledsoe being killed on the football field from the next sack he takes.

Baltimore Ravens 17, Buffalo Bills 10. This just in: the Baltimore Ravens have granted water boy Frank Zybowski two extra weeks of vacation for not spilling a drop of water over the first five games of the season.


Detroit Lions (3-2) vs. New York Giants (4-1)
Giants by 6.5

I think this feel good Lions season might have ended last week when they were torched by a sub par Packers team. This feel good Giants season has to end sometime soon, doesn't it? It will end soon, but not this week.

New York Giants 24, Detroit Lions 20. The soldiers continue to follow the orders of Giants head coach/drill sergeant Tom Coughlin.


Philadelphia Eagles (5-0) vs. Cleveland Browns (3-3)
Eagles by 7

It's reunion time for Terrell Owens of Philadelphia and Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia. Something tells me that these two aren't going to have a slumber party on Saturday night and eat popcorn and gossip about their old teammates back in San Francisco.

Philadelphia Eagles 30, Cleveland Browns 16. Actually, I could see Garcia doing all that stuff above, but I don't think Owens would join in with him.


Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2) vs. Indianapolis Colts (4-1)
Colts by 9.5

This game doesn't appear to be as important as it was just a few weeks ago when these teams first played in Jacksonville. With the Jags slowing down a bit and the Colts coming off their bye week, Peyton and his track stars go nuts.

Indianapolis Colts 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 21. I think the Colts should have entered their wide receivers in the 400 meter relay at the Olympics.


Tennessee Titans (2-4) vs. Minnesota Vikings (4-1)
Vikings by 7

Randy Moss is questionable for Sunday's game due to a hamstring injury. Steve McNair is always questionable. Both teams have a lot of lingering injuries, so the NFL is forcing Illinois to stay in Minneapolis for Sunday, in case either the Titans or the Vikings need substitutes.

Minnesota Vikings 22, Tennessee Titans 18. If McNair goes down, the Titans should skip backup Billy Volek and move right to Jon Beutjer.


San Diego Chargers (3-3) vs. Carolina Panthers (1-4)
Panthers by 3

Weren't the Panthers supposed to be really tough and possibly get back to the Super Bowl? Weren't the Chargers supposed to be awful and possibly not win more than one game? The NFL makes my brain hurt.

San Diego Chargers 23, Carolina Panthers 21. I bet Panthers management had wished they spent Jake Delhomme's contract money on lottery tickets. It looks like that might have been a smarter investment.


St. Louis Rams (4-2) vs. Miami Dolphins (0-6)
Rams by 6.5

Forget about this game for a minute, because it's going to be bad. The Dolphins are bad, so their games are bad. What I want to talk about is the rumored "Miami Vice" movie. I know that it will most likely be Colin Ferrell and Jamie Foxx as Crockett and Tubbs, but I have a different casting vision. I think Dave Wannstedt and Ricky Williams should be reunited as buddy cops.

St. Louis Rams 28, Miami Dolphins 13. Wannstedt might not want to do it, though. He'd have to shave his mustache for the Don Johnson stubble beard.


Atlanta Falcons (5-1) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4)
Chiefs by 4

What is up with this point spread? Sure, the Falcons have struggled recently, but they've still only lost one game. The Chiefs were picked by many of the national media to make the Super Bowl, but their offense has made like their defense and sucked. Arrowhead Stadium is a great advantage for the home team, but the Chiefs only win this year came at Baltimore.

Atlanta Falcons 24, Kansas City Chiefs 22. Apparently, Dick Vermeil gets to set the spread for all of the Chiefs games.


New York Jets (5-0) vs. New England Patriots (5-0)
Patriots by 6.5

It's not very often that a game between two unbeaten, division rivals gets completely forgotten, but that's the case for this contest. I guess there was some sort of baseball series between teams from New York and Boston this week. In an act of revenge, George Steinbrenner buys the Patriots and cuts or trades all their star players and fires Bill Belichick. Steinbrenner proceeds to fill the Patriots with homeless people he finds in shelters. The Jets win and New York gets their revenge.

New England Patriots 27, New York Jets 20. That's a fun scenario, but buying a team is a very long process and I don't think The Boss can pull it off in a couple of days. If he wants revenge, he'll just have to sneak into the stadium and pee on the turf or something.


Dallas Cowboys (2-3) vs. Green Bay Packers (2-4)
Packers by 3.5

Which of these teams do I hate more? I can't stand the Cowboys for all their thugs from the 90's and the fact that those derelicts won three Super Bowls during that decade. I can't stand the Packers because, well they're the Packers. I think I'll just sit back and enjoy the fact that both teams have losing records.

Green Bay Packers 19, Dallas Cowboys 15. I think I'm picking the Packers to win solely on the fact that if they do win, both teams will still be under .500.


Seattle Seahawks (3-2) vs. Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
Seahawks by 7

The Seahawks are doing their best New York Yankees impression after winning the first three games and now losing two in a row. To match the Yankees, they'll need to lose two more in a row. Arizona seems like they will help Seattle not become the NFL's version of the Bronx Bombers.

Seattle Seahawks 25, Arizona Cardinals 19. If the Seahawks wanted to copy the Yankees, you would think they would try and copy their 26 titles, instead of their recent losing streak.


New Orleans Saints (2-4) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-4)
Raiders by 3

Do they really have to play this game? Would anybody outside of New Orleans or Oakland notice if they didn't? I know I'm not going to be searching out the highlights.

New Orleans Saints 21, Oakland Raiders 20. I got nothing.


Denver Broncos (5-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (1-4)
Broncos by 6

I think it's time that Monday Night Football changes their scheduling rules. Teams are supposed to have finished the previous season with a .500 or better record. Occasionally, they make exceptions for the Bears, Giants or Jets, but they stick by their standards for the most part. In today's NFL, teams quickly go from good to awful. That's how you end up with dogs like the 1-4 Bengals playing on national television.

Denver Broncos 27, Cincinnati Bengals 22. Of course, I picked the Bengals to make the playoffs this year, so I clearly don't know anything about what teams will be good or bad.


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