Mac's Picks - Week 9

Unless you've been living under a rock, you already know that the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts are playing a football game against one another this Sunday. ESPN, the NFL Network, Noggin and Lifetime are all filing nightly reports on what is being called "the game to end all games".

There's even word that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may cancel the rest of this season due to the rest of this year's schedule being unable to measure up to the one event that may finally bring peace to the Middle East. Ok, maybe it was erectile dysfunction, but still, you get the point: This game is probably going to be worth watching.

I've been waffling all week on which team I'm going to pick. How can you not be impressed by what the Patriots are doing? They're averaging over 40 points per game, are beating their opponents by 25 points per game and are poised to shatter every record the NFL has kept up to this point.  

Then again, the Colts aren't too shabby, either. All they have done is win each of their last 12 games, including something called a "Super Bowl", by playing well on offense, defense and special teams.

The bottom line is this: If this game were played in Gillette Stadium, I'd take the Patriots since they'd probably win by a touchdown. But it's not in Gillette Stadium, and while the Patriots could easily win this game, I'm predicting that that the Colts will cover. Pick: Colts +4 ½

San Francisco at Atlanta (-3) – If you're watching this game, you're either related to one of the players or your remote control is broken. I'm not sure either of those are good excuses. Pick: Falcons -3

Cincinnati at Buffalo – The Buffalo Bills are a great story, and Dick Jauron deserves a lot of credit for getting these guys to play well despite the injury bug hitting the Bills pretty hard this year. But at some point, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to put an entire game together and play up to their potential. I think this is that week. Pick: Bengals (pick ‘em)

Denver at Detroit (-3) – The Broncos have spent their first seven games living on the edge, relying on hurry-up field goals as time expired or shady timeouts to "ice" the kicker as they've stumbled to their 3-4 record. Aside from the senile Woody Paige, few would argue that the Broncos couldn't just as easily be 0-7 right now. Pick: Lions -3

Green Bay at Kansas City (-2) – An overtime road win in Denver on Monday Night Football, followed by a short week of preparation, and then going to Arrowhead Stadium will be too much for even Brett Favre to overcome, especially when you don't have a running game. Pick: Chiefs -2

Jacksonville at New Orleans (-3 ½) – It turns out that, even on the road, you can win with Quinn Gray at quarterback. I'm just not sold on how Gray and the Jaguars will do against a New Orleans Saints team that has its swagger back after their 0-4 start. Pick: Saints -3 ½

San Diego (-7) at Minnesota – The Chargers are another team that stumbled earlier this season, but has since found its offense at the best possible time.

Four of the next six games for San Diego are on the road, and the home games during that stretch are against Indianapolis and Baltimore. San Diego needs to keep the train rolling this week against Minnesota, and they will. Pick: Chargers -7

Carolina at Tennessee (-4 ½) – I know the Panthers are better on the road than they are at home, but I can't trust them to keep it close against a pretty good Titans team. Not when David Carr is getting the start primarily because 43-year old Vinny Testaverde's prostate is flaring up again. Pick: Titans -4 ½

(Ok, I'm told Testaverde injured his Achilles' tendon, which is just another painful reminder to him about how close that injury was to being called Vinny's tendon.)

Arizona at Tampa Bay (-3 ½) – It's sort of miraculous that the Buccaneers will hit the bye week with, at worst, a 4-5 record. This was a team that wasn't supposed to be very good to begin with, and during the season they've lost their starting running back and left tackle for the season, and lost their #2 running back for at least 6 weeks.

Yes, the Bucs have lost three of their last four, and yes, Jeff Garcia is starting to get careless with the football, but I think they've got enough left in them to win a home game before getting some much-needed time off. Pick: Buccaneers -3 ½

Washington (-3 ½) at NY Jets – The decision by New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini to start Kellen Clemens over Chad Pennington isn't going to somehow salvage the Jets 2007 season. They're done, but still, it was the right time to do it.

I never questioned Pennington's toughness, but I always questioned if a noodle-armed quarterback could ever succeed in the Meadowlands. That issue does not exist with Clemens. Pick: Jets +3 ½

Seattle at Cleveland (-2) – The normal reasons to pick against Seattle are all here. In games after the bye week, they are 2-6 under Mike Holmgren. They're traveling to the east coast, where they rarely perform well. Oh, and they've got undersized cornerbacks going up against a pair of wide receivers who appear to have overcome pituitary disorders at some point in their lives.

Still, there is hope. For starters, those two wins after the bye weeks have come in the last two seasons. Plus, the start time for the game in Cleveland is 415pm ET, which when you factor in that Daylight Savings starts this weekend, when the Seahawks take the field, it'll feel like 215pm PDT for the Seahawks, and 515pm ET for the Browns.

As for the Seahawks defense, the additions of Brian Russell and Deon Grant have kept the secondary from getting beat deep like they have in previous seasons, and that's what the Browns offense has thrived on this season. If this game does devolve into a shootout, don't you have to like Mike Holmgren's chances against the NFL's 32nd-ranked defense? I do, but then again, you probably already guessed that. Pick: Seahawks +2

Houston at Oakland (-3) – I'm guessing neither the Texans or Raiders expected this game to feature Sage Rosenfels and Josh McCown, did they? While I'm on the subject, are we totally sure that the problem in Houston the last 5 five years was David Carr? Pick: Raiders -3

Dallas (-3) at Philadelphia – Tony Romo spent his bye week extracting a nearly $70M contract from the Dallas Cowboys and contracting "something" from Britney Spears. All in all, I've heard of worse weeks. Pick: Cowboys -3

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-8 ½) – If the last game they played was any indication of future production, I'm not sure the Baltimore Ravens offense is capable of scoring 8 points against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Heinz Field.

Let there be no doubt that I will always hate the Steelers with the intensity of 10,000 suns, but I kind of like how this team is flying under the radar right now. Pick: Steelers -8 ½

Last week: 5-8

2007 Season: 53-59-4


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