Thursday, September 25, 2008

Once more. Ignore this, non-football fans!

I have had a few emails asking if I'd be putting up my football picks on my blog this year. I decided early on not to do so, because for non-football fans it's a waste of space. And for many actual football fans, it's a waste of space too, because really they'd be better off listening to Chris Berman. Or Cris Collingsworth. Not John Madden. But I'm going to start doing it again, because it makes me think more about my picks and therefore it helps me do better. And I've had a lousy first three weeks of pool season, so don't pay too much attention.

1. Jacksonville over Houston: This is not so much an endorsement of the Jaguars as it is a condemnation of the Texans. With an extra week to prepare against the Titans, they came out flat and got torched by Kerry Collins. And I'm still not sold on Collins as a replacement for Vince Young. Jacksonville looked like they're going in the right direction against the Colts, and I think they'll make short work of the Texans here.

Jaguars 30-27 (OT) Well...I was awfully wrong. The Jags did NOT make short work of the Texans, and if it wasn't for that trick-play direct snap touchdown, they would have lost this game. Looks like Houston just had an off week last week, but they are actually a force here. And the Jaguars are still the best team in their division, in my opinion, finding a way to come back and win. But it's pretty tight.

2. Philadelphia over Chicago: I am totally sold on the Eagles. They could well have beaten the Cowboys, who could well be the best team in the NFL. Even with their biggest weapon, Brian Westbrook, hurting from an ankle injury, the Eagles should beat up on the Bears, who have proven they can't close out games in the first three weeks.

Bears 24-20. On this one...I was even more wrong. I'm tempted to write this off as an anomaly, because of Brian Westbrook being out and McNabb playing hurt, but who knows? If they can't score with that O-Line on 4th down and a yard at the goal line for the win, are they really as good as they seem? They looked great even in losing against the Cowboys, but then the 'Boys looked human this week too.

3. San Diego over Oakland: And BIG. The Chargers finally turned it on in Week 3, hammering the Jets. Let's not forget that if it weren't for Ed Hochuli's blown call and a miraculous last-play hail mary, the Chargers would be 3-0. They learned their lesson and put New York away early and kept pouring it on. They will do the same to Oakland. Only worse. The Raiders let a game slip right out of their fingers last week against Buffalo.

San Diego 28-18. Seriously. Come on. A seventy-six yard field goal attempt? 76 yards? Janikowski is good, but...come ON! Now, that being said, even if Oakland had managed to pull off some miraculous field goal from that distance, they would still have lost by a touchdown. Oakland really is that terrible, and I really think San Diego is this good. Although against the Raiders I wouldn't read too much into this particular game.

4. Dallas over Washington: Also big. Dallas might be the best team in the NFL right now, and although Washington is pretty good, they just don't match up well here. The Skins are likely the fifth-best team in the NFC, maybe even fourth-best, but they happen to play in a division with the 1-2-3 teams.

Washington 26-24. This is how my season has gone. I know, this was a division game, and a rivalry like this often tosses conventional wisdom out the window. But you have to question the Cowboys decision making here. Throwing the ball to Terrell Owens 20 times, for like three completions? Running the ball only eleven times? Washington played great, but Dallas appeared to out-coach themselves. Although this game convinced me Washington is for real. The four best teams in the NFC could well be in this division.

5. Buffalo over St. Louis: The Bills have amazed me, going 3-0 to start the season. They looked really shaky against the Raiders on Sunday, but managed to pull out a last-second win. I'm not sold on the Bills as a powerhouse yet, but they should easily get to 4-0 against the Rams, the worst team in football.

Bills 31-14. The Buffalo Bills - you ready for this? - are 4-0. 4-0. The Bills. Now, they beat the Rams, the worst team in football. And I'm including most high school teams in that blanket statement. Rams fired their coach after the game, but it isn't really his fault. Stephen Jackson can't do everything himself. But the Bills really do look good.

6. Denver over Kansas City: Denver, of course, does not deserve to be 3-0. But they have managed to find a way to win, and they will easily make it to 4-0 against the Chiefs, who are simply terrible. I'm still not sold on the Broncos either, but I am definitely sold on how lousy the Chiefs are going to be this year.

Chiefs 33-19. Wait...what? Again, division rivalry, a real one, where anything can happen...but could this really happen? The Chiefs winning, and winning BIG? Larry Johnson appears to have found his running game again, but then again it came against a Broncos defense that has not looked good at all this year. I'm still a fan of Cutler and the Broncos offense, but that D has to be at the very least adequate if they expect to make the playoffs. And I am still not sold that the Chiefs are any good. I have the inclination to put an asterisk beside this one - division game an all...jury's still out on both teams.

7. Pittsburgh over Baltimore: Sure, the Steelers are missing some pieces for this game. And the Ravens are off to a surprising (to me) start. But Pittsburgh's biggest weakness is their pass defense, and I just don't see Baltimore being able to exploit that.

Pittsburgh 23-20 (OT). Well, I was right and wrong. The Steelers certainly missed their injured players (and lost one on the opening kickoff, too), but moreso I was wrong about the Ravens. Here's a team with a rookie quarterback, facing a good team and a good defense on the national stage on Monday for the first time in his career. And he looked awfully shaky early. But Joe Flacco hit his stride as the game went on, amd looked pretty decent. He has great arm strength, and even when Troy Polamolu read his eyes and jumped the routes, again and again, Flacco was still able to gun the ball past him to the receivers. It looks like Pittsburgh is still the class of the division, and if they get healthier they will remain the best. If not, look for the Ravens to be the best team in this division by the end of the year.

8. New Orleans over San Francisco: Saints are 1-2. Niners are 2-1. But they should be tied in the division at 2-2 after this one's over. It'll be close, the Niners are certainly better than they were a year ago, but the Saints look to be getting it together, and they do have a better team.

Saints 31-17. The Saints DO have the better team. And they ARE coming together right now. Look for this to be a jumping off point as the Saints make a serious run for the division title. Because this division is not all that good. The Niners have a shot at it as well, but they have to get noticeably better than they were in this one.

9. Carolina over Atlanta: In a close one. The Falcons have been a very surprising team this season, in the first three games. They are 2-1 against some pretty bad teams. But Carolina is a pretty good team. And they should be able to protect Jake Delhomme much better than they did against Minnesota.

Carolina 24-9. Carolina IS a pretty good team. And Jake Delhomme was protected enough to complete some passes and make enough plays to win. And Atlanta, although they have looked pretty decent in the first three weeks, are still not good enough to play with the better teams in the NFL. They could make it to 7-9 this year, maybe the playoffs next year if everything falls into place.

10. Green Bay over Tampa Bay: Brian Griese will have an easier time against the Packers' secondary than he ordinarily would, what with Al Harris being out. But despite their loss to the Cowboys last week, the Pack is still a force to be reckoned with, and Aaron Rodgers could have a really big game.

Buccaneers 30-21. Packers secondary played better than I thought they would without Al Harris. For the first three quarters. And the Pack fought back and got into the game, actually taking a 21-20 lead late into the fourth. Rodgers had an off game, but looked OK. But toward the end of the fourth, when the Bucs made it 23-21, you could tell Green Bay was out of gas, and weren't going to be coming back. They need to pull away earlier when they have a chance in future games.

11. Minnesota over Tennessee: I know, the Titans are 3-0. And I know that Kerry Collins looks good so far. But with the pressure the Vikings were able to bring on Jake Delhomme last week, I think they can get to Collins and throw him off his game. And Adrian Peterson will not be denied his yards.

Tennessee 30-17. And...I was wrong again. The Titans ARE a good enough team that Kerry Collins is not a bad piece of the puzzle. All he has to do is not screw up, and the Titans will be fine. They are 4-0. These are the two teams at 4-0: The Titans and the Bills. (The Giants had a bye, and are 3-0.) And Minnesota is not a great team, but with that run defense and Adrian Peterson, they have shown they can put it all together once in a while and beat anyone on any given day. Just not the Titans on this day.

12. Cleveland over Cincinnatti: Both these teams are 0-3 dreadful so far, but Cleveland still has excellent talent and a real chance to turn it around and make the playoffs in the suddenly-weak AFC. Cincinnatti, on the other hand, may as well throw in the towel on this season right now. They are done.

Cleveland 20-12. After this game, Brady Anderson said the Browns "have their swagger back". It is a little premature to be "swaggering". They beat a truly dreadful team, when that team's best player wasn't even suited up. Carson Palmer is on the sidelines, and the Browns can still manage only an eight-point win? And it was closer than that - this was a brutal game to watch, and both teams are still brutal to watch. Don't look at Cleveland to take that run that was being predicted in the preseason any time soon.

13. New York Jets over Arizona: Toughest game of the week to call. The Cardinals have looked good this year, but turnovers killed them last week. The Jets have lost to the Patriots (enderstandable) and a Chargers team that finally managed to turn it on. The Cards are not the Pats or the Chargers. And the Jets, believe it or not, are thinking they have a shot at the playoffs with Favre at QB, the Colts floundering, and Brady gone for the season. Were this game in Arizona, I would pick the Cards without hesitation. But I think Favre will respond in a big way to the Monday night San Diego debacle, and come out firing. Jets in a squeaker.

Jets 56-35. Again, I was wrong. There was nothing "squeaker" about this game. But consider this - Brett Favre DID come out firing. He puts up 34 points on the Cards in the second quarter alone. The Jets go into half time with a 34-0 lead. And almost squander it in the third quarter! Favre had to come out and throw three more TD passes just to stay ahead of Kurt Warner and the Cardinals as they mounted a hard charge. The Jets defense is lousy. It's just that for three out of four quarters in this game, Kurt Warner was worse. Look for him to play better next week, and don't look for Favre to throw six TDs ina game again any time soon. The Jets aren't all that good. And the Cardinals aren't all that bad. But boy, did they look sloppy on Sunday!

Bye weeks: Indianapolis, New England, New York, Miami, Seattle, Detroit.

My record this week: 7-5. Overall: 36-23.

4 comments:

  1. I have the same picks as you do with the exception of the Cleveland @ Cincinnati and Green Bay @ Tampa Bay games.

    What is your overall straight up record going into week four?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazingly, I have done better against the spread than I have straight up. I'm 30-17 against the spread, 29-18 straight up!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know my exact record ATS (I know you are well ahead of me in the CHEZ pool) However, I have the same record as you do straight up! FYI: (29-18) straight up is not the best record but it's not horrible either.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah, it's not horrible. I think though, last year at this time I was 36-12 straight up. I'll get there!

    ReplyDelete