Wednesday, October 1, 2008

OK. More football.

Here's how I see it this week.

1. Dallas over Cincinnatti: OK. this is a no-brainer. Isn't it? But shouldn't Dallas have run it up on the Redskins? And shouldn't Cleveland have rolled over the Bengals easily? Neither of those things happened...but come on. This is the gimme game of the week. The Cowboys had a blip last week, the Bengals' entire season (especially without their only great player, Carson Palmer) will be a blip. Cowboys huge over the Bengals.

Dallas, 31-22. Well, Carson Palmer made it back into the game. And, for a second, the Bengals actually made this game very interesting. If they had converted that two-point conversion to make it 24-24, who knows how this game would have ended? But...they didn't, they lost, they're still the Bengals. Cowboys win, Cowboys cover.

2. Carolina over Kansas City: The Chiefs are still terrible. Yes, they stunned the Broncos (and me) last week. But that was simply a resurgent Larry Johnson and a competent rest of the offense exposing a truly terrible defense. Carolina does not have a terrible defense. And they are at home. And they are good on offense too. They have perhaps the best receiver tandem in the NFL, and they will hammer the Chiefs, who will get very little momentum out of their inter-divisional stunner.

Carolina, 34-0. Yep. The Chiefs win over Denver was a blip. And they are right back at it, being the Chiefs, one of the worst teams in football. And although this game wasn't much of a test, Carolina is serving notice that they are really quite good. Panthers win, Panthers cover, Chiefs suck.

3. New York Giants over Seattle: The Giants are still undefeated this year. They are showing that they are still the team to beat in the NFC. And they have had a bye week to rest up for the Seahawks. The Seahawks are a very disappointing team who will not make the playoffs this year, and who will not win this game on Sunday. Giants in a walk.

Giants, 44-6. Yep. A walk. The Seahawks are more and more disappointing week after week. They were supposed to win their division. I picked them to win their division. But they are 1-3 and trailing the Cardinals and the Niners, neither of whom is that good. They got absolutely hammered by the Giants here. Giants win, Giants cover, I'm totally right.

4. New England over San Francisco: The Patriots have to make a statement here that they are not done without Tom Brady. And the bare bones of this team are good enough to hammer the Niners. Does anyone think that with two weeks to prepare for San Fran, that Bill Belicheck won't come up with an unbeatable game plan? I think not. Patriots big, don't let that (truly amazing) Miami game throw you off. However, if the Patriots struggle in winning this game, it might be time to wonder about the rest of their season.

New England, 30-21. Well, the Patriots did win. And they did cover. So I was right about that. But they didn't look as good as I imagined they would. And they didn't seem as prepared as I figured they would be. That direct snap that beat them in Miami? Yeah...San Fran beat them with that again...I think it's time to worry in New England.

5. Indianapolis over Houston: I don't like to put too much emphasis on teams coming off the bye week, because I don't think it's often that big a deal. Unless that team is the Giants. Or New England. Or in this case Indianapolis. The Colts must make a statement in this game, and Houston is a team that has not done well against the Colts in the last few years. Then again, no other team has fared particularly well against them either. But this is a big game for Indy and Peyton Manning, and they will show it in a big way against the Texans.

Indianapolis, 31-27. Well, the Colts DID make a statement, but they waited until the game was almost out of reach to do so. And had Houston told their quarterback to slide at the end of all plays, the Colts would be 1-3, and so would the Texans. Although that comeback was certainly remarkable, and Indy is impressive simply by virtue of the fact they can take advantage of turnovers like they did here, it was Houston that lost this game more than it was Indy that won it. It may be time to panic in Indianapolis as well.

6. Jacksonville over Pittsburgh: Not in a blowout, of course, but the Jaguars seem to be gelling somewhat - their two losses have come against Buffalot and Tennessee, which looked bad to start the season but doesn't look so awful now. Pittsburgh is hurting, and had some trouble putting away a team they should have beaten on Monday night. The Jaguars are coming off two emotional late-game wins, and they are at home. Jaguars win in an upset, and cover the spread of 4 points to Pittsburgh.

Steelers, 26-21. Nope. The Steelers won, and they covered that 4-point spread. Just barely. Although, frankly, Pittsburgh looked much better in this game than the score indicates. After thowing a pick for a TD on the very first series of the game, Ben Roethlisberger settled down and looked very solid. David Garrard, on the other hand, looked somewhat erratic and while the Jaguars defense continued to hit hard and make big plays, they still couldn't seem to stop the Pittsburgh offense three plays in a row. Jacksonville is still a very, very good team. But so are the Steelers.

7. San Diego over Miami: The Dolphins pulled off one of the major upsets I've ever seen over the Pats two weeks ago. The win wasn't such a big upset in itself, but the fact that it was an utter domination was incredible. I am going out on a limb here, but I don't think Miami is that good, and I think they ran through their best plays two weeks ago. San Diego will certainly be ready for that direct snap thing! Chargers are coming together. And they will win, covering the spread, which sits at 7 points.

Miami, 17-10. OK...what? What is going on here? What's the matter with the NFL? The Dolphins have now, in back-to-back games, beaten the two AFC Championship Game teams from last year. You know, last year, when the Fish were 1-15? And almost winless all season? Remember when I said San Diego would be ready for that direct snap thing? It's right there in the paragraph above this one. Yeah...that was not the case...how can you not prepare for that? But then, a gimmicky offense can get you...seventen points. What happened to that Chargers offense? Is the Miami defense actually...good? Either the Chargers are not the team we all thought they would be, or the Dolphins are a team to be reckoned with. I'm not prepared to deal with either possibility. And I'm totally confused.

8. New Orleans over Minnesota: The Saints are really looking good of late, and Minnesota has begun to come apart. Unless Adrian Peterson has a monster game, the Saints will roll and cover the spread and move to 3-2 while the Vikings remain stuck with but one win.

Minnesota 30-27. OK. Apparently I can't even predict the outcome of games in the fourth quarter of those games, let alone before they begin. when Reggie Bush ran that second punt back for a TD, and almost broke a third, and the Saints were able to move the ball in the third quarter even though they were losing, I thought this game was over. New Orleans had taken the lead, and once they had it they weren't giving it up. Well, no. Wrong again. The Saints let the Vikings back in it, now they are last in their division. A position the Vikings would hold in theirs, were it not for those lousy Lions.

9. Tampa Bay over Denver: I think the Broncos have really been exposed, in last week's debacle against the Chiefs. The Broncos have no defense. At all. And Tampa Bay is 3-0 since Brian Griese took over as the starter. He looks good, their defense looks pretty good, and Tampa Bay will continue to expose Denver as a pretender.

Denver, 16-13. I don't know how much more wrong I could have been. The Denver defense actually showed up, holding the Bucs to 13 points! A defensive battle! Again, I don't know what's going on here any more, and I feel lost. Denver may well be for real. But again, I'm not prepared to deal with that.

10. Philadelphia over Washington: The Eagles have to be reeling a little after their tough-fought loss to the Cowboys and their shocking (for me, anyway) loss to the Bears last week. And Washington is riding high after they knocked off Dallas last week. But you can never tell with a divisional game like this, especially when these could be two of the top four teams in football. I'll take the Eagles, simply because they are home, this game is a more important game for them so they can stay in the divisional race, and I truly think that overall they are a better team.

Washington, 23-17. The Redskins must be considered to be a Super Bowl contender. Notwithstanding that egg they laid in the opening week against the Giants, Washington actually looks good. More than that, they look amazing. And the Eagles seem incapable of winning the close ones in their own division. Three teams from this division will make the playoffs, and it's starting to look like the Eagles will be the team that gets left out.

11. Chicago over Detroit: I am still not a big believer in the Bears at all, but I am certainly a Lions detractor. They are absolutely terrible, and firing people and changing personnel won't help them at all. I think with Devin Hester in their lineup, the Bears have a chance to beat absolutely any team in the league. I think with Barry Sanders and Herman Moore and Joe Montana in their lineup, the Lions would still be lousy. They will lose, and the Bears will win. By default.

Chicago, 34-7. Yep, the Lions are dreadful. Even with Devin Hester held in check on kick returns, he managed to get free as a receiver and score. Detroit is one of the worst teams in football now, and Chicago is not all that good. But the Bears are certainly better than the Lions.

12. Packers over Atlanta: The Falcons look to be losing any early-season momentum they may have had. And if Aaron Rodgers goes against the Falcons, the Pack will win easily. However, if he can't go, this game could be ugly. Atlanta covers the spread if Rodgers is out, Packers cover if he's in.

Atlanta, 27-24. Well, the Falcons may have regained their momentum. And even with Aaron Rodgers playing, the Packers just couldn't get it done. I still think the Pack will win their division, but that's only because they play with the Bears and Lions and Vikings. And Atlanta might have a real shot at their division, all of a sudden.

13. Baltimore over Tennessee: I am almost completely sold on the Titans. I really am. I think they are a very, very good team. But I also think they haven't faced a defense like Baltimore's, which certainly impressed me in their game against the Steelers. The Baltimore rookie QB was fairly impressive, too, considering how he was thrown to the wolves so quickly. I think the Titans are due for a small letdown, and it will come in Baltimore.

Tennessee, 13-10. Close. Really close. If the Ravens defense could have held for 60 minutes, and hadn't given up that 80-yard drive at the end of the game, they would have won this thing. What was more impressive, however, was the Titans defense, which really made Baltimore's QB look like a rookie. With that defense, the Titans are actually the team to beat in the AFC!

14. Buffalo over Arizona: The Cardinals showed promise early this season. And then they started to show that they really, really know how to lose. They looked great in the third quarter against the Jets. Too bad they were already down by 34 points when it started. This team let Brett Favre throw SIX TD passes in their last game. The Bills don't have Favre, but they have enough skill to beat Arizona right now. And then they will have an amazing 5-0 record. Amazing.

Arizona, 41-17. Well, the Bills' bubble had to burst at some point. But who would have thought it would happen in such a big way, against Arizona? The Cardinals are actually leading their division now! And they will likely win it this year! The Cardinals! Not that they are a great team, but their division sucks. And while the Bills are still leading in their division, it looks as though they will have a pretty tough time holding on to it from now until the end of the season.

This week: 6-7. Overall: 42-30.

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