It’s amazing how lost I felt without access to that computer and all its high-speed glory. Being relegated to the work-issued laptop and a dial-up connection felt like I was back in the stone age of the internet where I’d be checking scores on Prodigy. Not good times.
Speaking of bad times, how about that 5-9 record I had last week? Efforts like that compel me to put up the disclaimer that this column, and these picks, are “For Entertainment Purposes Only”. I’m not a gambler, and picking these games against the spread is just my masochistic way of ensuring that I won’t be successful.
Last Week: 5-9
2006 Season: 47-63-4
Atlanta (-5 ½) at Detroit – The skeptic in me is wondering how long Michael Vick can keep up this “I’m a real NFL QB” routine. The wise-ass in me is wondering if Valtrex should be on the NFL’s list of performance-enhancing substances. Pick: Falcons -5 ½
Cincinnati at Baltimore (-3) – Of all the guys on the Baltimore Ravens defense, Chad Johnson decided to call out Ray Lewis? Isn’t this reminiscent of the “Bad Idea Jeans” commercial from Saturday Night Live?
Normally I wear protection, but then I thought, “When am I gonna make it back to Haiti?”
I thought about it, and even though it's over, I'm going to tell my wife about the affair.
You’d have tobe incredibly tough, or incredibly stupid, to call out someone like Ray Lewis. Pick: Ravens -3
Dallas (-3) at Washington – Mark Brunell is ailing, which means Jason Campbell could be quarterbacking this team before Sunday is over. The Redskins may also be without their best offensive weapon, Santana Moss. You just know that Bledsoe is wondering why he didn’t get breaks like this when he was the starting quarterback. Pick: Cowboys -3
Green Bay at Buffalo (-3 ½) – I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed, but Brett Favre is playing pretty well and the Packers are winning football games. Buffalo is not. Pick: Packers +3 ½
Houston at NY Giants (-13) – The more I see from Gary Kubiak, the more I like. Pulling David Carr, the NFL’s 6 th-ranked passer, to prove a point, is something Dom Capers would never dream of doing. Kubiak recognized that his team needed a spark, and while it didn’t pan out, it was much better than what the Texans got from their previous head coach. In situations like that, Capers would be staring off into space.
Ever since the Giants were embarrassed by the Seahawks in Week 3, they’ve played extremely well. The Giants have also been fortunate to catch teams at opportune times. Washington is terrible and they got the Falcons before Vick’s latest “flare up”. Then they got the Cowboys when Parcells was itching to pull Bledsoe and last week, they got a rookie QB attempting 48 passes in 40-mph winds. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Pick: Giants -13
Kansas City at St. Louis (-2 ½) – Missouri is a key battleground state, so two days before the election, the NFL schedule-makers are sending the Chiefs (red) into St. Louis to play the Rams (blue).
The way I see it, Larry Johnson is coming off a 181-yard, 4-touchdown game against Seattle, and the Rams defense was just gashed for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns by LaDainian Tomlinson. It’s strength against weakness, and as well as Marc Bulger and Torry Holt are playing right now, I don’t think it’ll be enough to stop what Johnson is going to do the Rams defense. Pick: Chiefs +2 ½
Miami at Chicago (-13 ½) – The Chicago Bears are the best team in the NFL. They’ve got the defense, they’ve got the offense, and at the rate they’re going, they’ll have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs clinched by Thanksgiving.
Twenty-one years ago, the Miami Dolphins ended the Chicago Bears hopes of an undefeated season on Monday Night Football. Can the same thing happen this year? For starters, this game will be played on a Sunday. Secondly, Joey Harrington will never be confused with Dan Marino. And that’s all I have to say about that. Pick: Bears -13 ½
New Orleans (-1) at Tampa Bay – Has anyone figured what the thinking was behind Jon Gruden’s play-calling last week? In a windy Giants Stadium, Gruden has a rookie quarterback attempt 48 passes. His workhorse running back? A career-low 8 carries. It wasn’t like the Bucs were being blown out and had to throw to get back into it, Chucky just abandoned the idea altogether.
Keeping the Saints out of a tailspin after last week’s loss will be the first in-season coaching challenge in Sean Payton’s career. Pick: Saints -1
Tennessee at Jacksonville (-9 ½) – I can’t quite figure out the Jags. One week, they look horrendous and lose to the Houston Texans by 20 points. The next week, they change QBs and go into Philadelphia and hold the Eagles to 6 points. I’m not sold on David Garrard to leave this many points on the table. Pick: Titans +9 ½
Minnesota (-5) at San Francisco – Joe Theismann began last Monday night’s game praising Brad Johnson’s ability to manage the game, how he makes the right decisions and doesn’t turn the ball over. Naturally, Johnson tossed a trio of interceptions and was benched before the night was over.
Still, this is the 49ers we’re talking about here. Even after being embarrassed last week, and traveling on a short week, the Vikings should be able to handle the 49ers. Pick: Vikings -5
(It’s been mentioned a few times this week, but if the NFL has no problem with Bill Belichick dressing like he’s got the lead role in a transvestite rendition of “Flashdance”, why can’t Mike Nolan wear a suit on the sidelines?)
Cleveland at San Diego (-12 ½) – I don’t care if the “lights are out” on Shawne Merriman for the next four weeks, the Chargers are stacked defensively, are playing at home, and can throw a pair of quality running backs at a team that can’t stop the run. Pick: Chargers -12 ½
(Speaking of the Browns, they were very lucky to get a win in regulation last week. Take a look at this video, and explain to me how Baker wouldn’t have come down in-bounds. Why wouldn’t the officials even review this play?)
Denver at Pittsburgh (-2 ½) – The defense is playing very well, but with Big Ben doing his best Tommy Maddox impersonation, the Steelers don’t appear to be heading back to the post-season in 2006. I guess it’s true what they say about Bill Cowher: When expectations on his team are high, they come up short. Pick: Broncos +2 ½
Indianapolis at New England (-2 ½) – Monday night’s win over the Vikings was vintage Bill Belichick. The Patriots knew that the Vikings are good against the run, so they came out with a bunch of 4 and 5-wide receiver sets, throw the ball every down and make no attempt to be balanced. That resulted in a 4-TD game for Tom Brady in a 31-7 Patriots win.
This week, I’d be shocked if the Patriots even bother to pass the ball. Not because Indianapolis has a ball-hawking secondary (they don’t), but because everyone has been running on the Colts this year and New England has Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney.
Personally, I can see Belichick doing just that, but I can’t pick the Patriots this week. Indianapolis can score pretty quickly, against any defense, even on the road. Pick: Colts +2 ½
Oakland at Seattle (-7 ½) – Growing up a Seahawks fan, there was nothing I hated more than the Los Angeles Raiders. Every year, I’d get the Pro Football Handbook, a pocket-sized book that had rosters, stats, etc…and when Todd Christensen was on the cover, the thought of having to see #46 on the Raiders every time I opened that book was too much for me. So I ripped it off on the car ride home. I was 7.
The Seahawks will be playing without Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander, but the passing game appears to be in capable hands with Seneca Wallace running the show. The ground game is still struggling, though, and that’s a concern. It’s not as big a concern as the Seahawks defensive woes. Seattle entered the season with one of the most talented and deep defensive units. Thus far, with only a few injuries (Marcus Tubbs, DD Lewis), this unit has struggled mightily. Facing an inept Raiders offense could be just what this team needs to get their confidence back. Pick: Seahawks -7 ½
Brian McIntyre writes about football from all angles, and unlike Terrell Owens, he can easily think of eighty-one words that rhyme with "Romo". You can contact Brian here.