Mac's Picks - Week Eleven

There is nothing worse than being without internet access while traveling. The hotel claimed to have high-speed internet access in every room, so I wrote the column on the plane on my way to Seattle, figuring I'd just pass it along once I got there...

After checking in, I discovered that only some of the rooms had a high-speed modem, and since I don't have a wireless card, and this place didn't have a data center, I was up a certain creek without a paddle. I ended up cobbling together a column at an online café on 1st Ave in Seattle, where buying a coffee also got me 30 minutes of free internet time. I'd blame my 5-11 record on having to make the picks Domino's style (30 minutes or less), but let's face it, my prognosticating skills aren't too good this year.

Aside from that hiccup, the trip out to Seattle was phenomenal. The "Get Snowed In" party at the Pyramid Brewery last Friday night was a blast. The beer was great, and getting to see Built to Spill is always a treat. The next night, I headed over to El Corazon to see one of my favorite bands, and the greatest live band I've ever seen, The Supersuckers, who didn't disappoint. Follow that up with a Seahawks win over the Rams on a rainy Sunday, and I have to say that I couldn't have asked for a better weekend in Seattle. That I spent less than $150 in the Seahawks Pro Shop probably needs to be investigated.

I went to the game with my brother, Pat, who a week earlier went to the Colts-Patriots game in Foxborough. As a neutral observer (he is more of a Patriots fan, though I'm working on it), he couldn't believe how loud Qwest Field is. Everything you have read about that place is 100% true. It is the loudest stadium in the NFL, and yes, Mr. Accorsi, it's all natural.

Last Week: 5-11
2006 Season: 58-82-4

Atlanta at Baltimore (-4) - Jets fans aren't surprised that John Abraham will be missing his 8th consecutive game. With Patrick Kerney out for the season, and Jason Webster and Edgerton Hartwell ailing, is there anyone left on the Falcons defense that can stop Steve McNair and the suddenly potent Ravens offense? Pick: Ravens -4

Buffalo at Houston (-2 ½) - Just the thought of picking JP Losman on the road prompts me to throw up in my mouth a bit. Pick: Texans -2 ½

Chicago (-7) at NY Jets - Here's a nugget of information for you Bears fans: I've flown out to Seattle to see the Seahawks play the Rams the last two years, and on both days, a Chicago Bear has returned a missed field goal 108 yards for a touchdown. I'm not saying that me being in Seattle has had anything to do with it, but you Grabowski's would be wise to donate heavily to my travel fund once the 2007 schedule is released. You know, just to be on the safe side. Pick: Bears -7

Cincinnati at New Orleans (-3 ½) - At 4-5, and with the Saints, Ravens, Colts, Broncos and Steelers still on the schedule, the Bengals' road to the playoffs has hit a DUI checkpoint. As for New Orleans, putting up 31 points against the Steelers in Pittsburgh tells me that the offense is legit. I'm still not sold on the defense, but this is a game the Saints can, and should, win. Pick: Saints -3 ½

Minnesota at Miami (-3 ½) - Duante Culpepper won't play this week, rendering the game's most intriguing subplot moot. So I'm forced to actually analyze this game, which is never a good thing. Minnesota likely won't do much against a pretty good Dolphins defense, and we know that the Vikings will stop the struggling Dolphins ground game. So the question is this: Is the Vikings secondary so bad that Joey Harrington can pick them apart? I wouldn't bet on it, but this game is in Miami, and the Dolphins are on a bit of a roll. Pick: Dolphins -3 ½

New England (-6) at Green Bay - After 4 years of playing on grass that even Ricky Williams wouldn't smoke, the Patriots have finally decided to switch to FieldTurf. The only question I have is why the Kraft family didn't make this switch sooner. The Patriots share Gillette Stadium with the New England Revolution (MLS team), and the playing surface has always been an embarrassment. Switching to the fake stuff is a wise move. Pick: Packers +6

Oakland at Kansas City (-9 ½) - I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Herm Edwards on the decision to name Trent Green the starting quarterback this week. Damon Huard may not be a dynamo back there, and word is he was playing a little scared against Miami, but Green has to be rusty and without Tony Gonzalez, I'd think that continuity would take precedence over early season depth charts. Pick: Raiders +9 ½

Pittsburgh (-3 ½) at Cleveland - They're not "back" or anything, but the Steelers looked pretty good on Sunday. Pittsburgh won't be going to the playoffs, but they could possibly get some respectability back with a strong finish. Respectability is what they had in mind heading into this year, right? Pick: Steelers -3 ½

St. Louis at Carolina (-6 ½) -
I have to admit, I kind of chuckled when I picked up this week's Sports Weekly (published by USA Today). On the cover was Rams RB Steven Jackson, with the title "Ram Tough" on the front page. "Forget finesse, St. Louis and Steven Jackson look to get bullish on the rest of the NFL".

Good timing, guys. St. Louis has lost 4 straight, were just swept by the Seattle Seahawks for the 2nd year in a row, and while everyone was raving about how improved the defense is, they still rank 23rd in total defense and 29th against the run. Oh, and they lost starting CB Travis Fisher and Pro Bowl LT Orlando Pace for the rest of the year. Whoops! Probably not the best time to go up against a Carolina team that appears to be hitting its stride. Pick: Panthers -6 ½

Tennessee at Philadelphia (-13) - As if the 2006 NFL season couldn't possibly get any more bizarre, Andy Reid relinquished play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and it resulted in the Eagles committing to the running game and a 27-3 win. It doesn't get much stranger than that. Pick: Eagles -13

Washington at Tampa Bay (-3) - Thanks to the "flex scheduling" the NFL is applying to the season's final 8 weeks, I thought NBC would be all over this one when decision time was near. After all, these two teams met twice last year in Tampa, and both games were thrillers. With the Redskins at 3-6, and Tampa Bay at 2-7, NBC didn't have to think long about the decision to pass on this one.

No Clinton Portis, and Jason Campbell making his 1st NFL start against a still frisky Bucs defense equals a Bucs win. Pick: Buccaneers -3 (FOX is sending Matt Devlin and Bill Maas to Tampa to call the game. Couldn't they have just left two open microphones in a nearby sports bar and let whoever walked by call the action? Wouldn't that be better than inflicting Bill Maas on the general public?)

Detroit at Arizona (-2 ½) - Live from University of Phoenix Stadium, it's "Sleeper Bowl '06"! This is why I don't go crazy trying to identify "sleepers" before the season. Most of the time, they just hit the snooze button on the season and catch some extra winks.

Combined, these two teams have won three football games this year. THREE! Check out any of the NFL preview magazines, or online columns, and 75% of them will have one of these two teams in the playoffs this year. Didn't these people realize that Dennis Green and Matt Millen were still employed by these clubs? Pick: Cardinals -2 ½ (Those 2 ½ points aren't ever enough to pick the Leos on the road)

Seattle (-6 ½) at San Francisco - For the second week in a row, the Seattle Seahawks face their closest competitor in the NFC West. The 49ers gave the 'Hawks trouble in the Bay Area last year, and this week, Seattle could be distracted by the 49ers coach wearing a suit. Why would you wear a suit in a profession when looking like a homeless guy (see Belichick, Bill) gets you more street cred?

Seattle likely won't have Matt Hasselbeck for this one, but Seneca Wallace is proving to be a capable #2 QB in the NFL. Seattle does get Shaun Alexander back, and though he'll likely be eased back into the action, just having him there should improve the offense. Pick: Seahawks -6 ½

Indianapolis at Dallas (Pick 'em) - The worst kept secret in the NFL is that the Colts can't stop the run. Dallas has a pair of running backs (Julius Jones and Marion Barber) they can ride to move the chains, control the clock and keep Peyton Manning on the sidelines. Mrs. Doubtfire (Bill Parcells) is smart enough to do that, right? Um…right? Pick: Cowboys

San Diego at Denver (-2 ½) - Is anyone surprised that Jake Plummer is wilting under the pressure of having a 1st round pick breathing down his neck? The Broncos are 7-2 because of their defense and the chants for Jay Cutler are growing louder and louder with every sub-par performance Plummer turns in. The Chargers defense, even without Shawne Merriman, won't make life easier on "Jake the Snake". Pick: Chargers +2 ½

NY Giants at Jacksonville (-3 ½) -
Tom Coughlin makes his 1st trip back to Jacksonville since he coached the Jags in 2002, and he brings with him a team that has to hang on to the top spot in the NFC East despite playing without many key starters. The Jaguars wide receivers keep dropping David Garrard's passes, so they may make things easier on the depleted Giants defense. Personally, I think the injuries are too much for the Giants to overcome, and Coughlin once again leaves Jacksonville a loser. Pick: Jaguars -3 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. Top Stories