Buffalo at Chicago (-11) – Is any team playing better than the Chicago Bears right now? With the way they dismantled the defending NFC Champions last week, giving 11 points to JP Losman and the Buffalo Bills shouldn’t be a problem.
What is a problem is the way people are suddenly comparing Rex Grossman to Brett Favre. If you watched the game on Sunday night, you probably heard John Madden mention on several occasions that Grossman “has a little Brett Favre in him”. Now, we all know that Madden wishes he had a little Brett Favre in him, but it’s still a bit too early to start comparing the two QBs. After all, Favre has made 225 consecutive NFL starts. Grossman is about to extend his streak to a career-high of 5 consecutive starts. Until he wins an MVP or two, plays in a Super Bowl (or at least 200 more consecutive games), let’s hold off on comparing the guy to a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, ok? Pick: Bears -11
Cleveland at Carolina (-8 ½) – The two biggest problems facing Romeo Crennel and the Cleveland Browns are a pair of nicked up cornerbacks and an inability to keep QB Charlie Frye upright. So it’s probably not the best time for the Browns to go on the road to face the likes of Steve Smith and Julius Peppers. Pick: Panthers -8 ½ (The Panthers are due for a blowout win)
Detroit at Minnesota (-6) – Even though the Minnesota Vikings signed the first left guard in NFL history to use a bizarre technique called “blocking”, the Vikings offense under first year head coach Brad Childress hasn’t been very impressive so far. Minnesota’s defense is playing pretty well, though, and they should keep the Lions well below those 40 points Roy Williams keeps bragging about. Minnesota wins in a close one. Pick: Lions +6
Miami at New England (-9 ½) – I said last week that if the Dolphins couldn’t beat the lowly Houston Texans by more than 3 ½ points, then I’m done with them for good. Naturally, they lost the game, thanks to the baffling decision to call a “halfback pass” on a 2-pt conversion attempt. Calling a pass in that situation isn’t a bad move, but if you’re going to do it, at least have the sense to have your QUARTERBACK make the throw!
I knew something like this was coming, too. Earlier in the broadcast, the camera showed the Miami Dolphins coaches booth. And right there, in the front row, was the Dolphins defensive coordinator/assistant head coach, Dom Capers. Why didn’t someone tell me that Capers was on the Dolphins staff? Had I known that he was an employee, I wouldn’t have picked the Dolphins once this year. Pick: Patriots -9 ½
St. Louis (-2) at Green Bay – I’m sure someone out there can recite Brett Favre’s record in home games following demoralizing road losses on Monday Night Football, or how Favre does after suffering an injury that initially appears to be the one that ends his consecutive start streak, but honestly, I don’t care about any of that. All I know is that I don’t trust the Rams enough to give points to the Packers at home. Pick: Packers +2
Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-6) – The word on Bruce Gradkowski is that he makes as many plays with his feet as he does with him arm. Given the major issues the Bucs have along their offensive line, that skill will help the rookie QB keep his internal organs intact.
You have to admire the job Sean Payton has done in New Orleans. Most people, myself included, had them winning about 3 games all season and this team is already 3-1. Pick: Saints -6
Tennessee at Indianapolis (-18 ½) – Normally, a line like this would scare the hell out of me. The greedy side of me wants to just take the 18.5 points and put them in my pocket. Then there’s the side of me that has actually watched the Titans play this year. With Vince Young making just his 2 nd NFL start, and the Titans fresh off a 31-point loss at home to the Dallas Cowboys, how are the Titans going to keep a game at Indianapolis close? Pick: Colts -18 ½
Washington at NY Giants (-4) – Opposing quarterbacks are having some fun at the expense of the Giants secondary, and one reason for this is that the Giants haven’t been able to put any pressure on the quarterback. Wasn’t that supposed to be the strength of the Giants defense? The duo of Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan has combined for just one sack in three games, and that’s exposed the Giants weak secondary.
In Washington, the Al Saunders-coached offense had another big week thanks to a healthier Clinton Portis. Mark Brunell and Santana Moss finding a couple of plays that work in Saunders’ 700-page playbook (from hell). Pick: Redskins +4
Kansas City (-3) at Arizona – I don’t blame Dennis Green for naming Matt Leinart his starting quarterback this early in the season. The pre-season media darlings are 1-3 and heading nowhere awfully fast, so why not shake things up a bit? For Dennis Green’s sake, let’s hope that sieve-like offensive line doesn’t get the franchise’s future QB killed. Pick: Chiefs -3
NY Jets at Jacksonville (-7) – The Jets 2-0 record on the road this season is impressive, but this week they get their first real road test against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are in “must win” mode after losing two heart-breaking road games, including last week’s overtime loss to the Redskins.
I’ve got to hand it to Eric Mangini. The Jets are playing much better than I expected. The rookie coach has them at 2-2, and they took the Patriots and Colts right down to the wire. I don’t know how long Mangini will be able to keep this up, but the Jaguars are playing without too many key players (Marcus Stroud, Matt Jones) to blow anyone out this week. Pick: Jets +7
Oakland at San Francisco (-3 ½) – Unless you subscribe to “Provincial Rivalry Weekly”, you probably find this match-up as uninteresting as I do. Pick: 49ers -3 ½
Dallas at Philadelphia (-2 ½) – Philly fans cheered when Michael Irvin was carted off the field with a neck injury and booed Santa Claus, so you can only imagine what awaits Owens this Sunday. Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who once left Philly under bitter circumstances, says he knows what Owens can expect this Sunday. Sorry Jeremiah, but you have no idea what Terrell Owens can expect this Sunday.
I almost can’t believe that the NFL scheduled this game for 4pm, giving the Eagles fans all day to have a beer or two (or thirty) before heading into Lincoln Financial Field to toss a “hello” (or a battery) at Terrell Owens. The good news is Joe Buck will be calling this game for FOX. Can’t you already hear him expressing disappointment in the fans’ behavior? Pick: Eagles -2 ½
Pittsburgh at San Diego (-3 ½) – After losing to the Ravens in the final minute last week, the Chargers have to wonder if last years inability to win the close games has carried over into this season. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s ineffective offense and Big Ben’s 34.3 QB rating, leads me to think that the organ most responsible for Roethlisberger’s steady QB play was his appendix. This is the third primetime game in five weeks for the Steelers, who are about to go 1-3 in their defense of a Super Bowl title. Pick: Chargers -3 ½
Baltimore at Denver (-4) – This prediction is brought to you by the number “4”. The Broncos are giving 4 points to the 4-0 Baltimore Ravens, who switched back to a 4-3 defense this year. Baltimore ranks 4 th in the NFL in pass defense and are 4-2 all-time on Monday night. Denver’s QB Jake Plummer has thrown 4 interceptions this year. Pick: Ravens +4
Brian McIntyre refers to Shaun Alexander as "Seamus McTouchdown", and writes about football from all angles. You can contact him here.