Finally, a decent week, 9-5! This has been a wild, unpredictable year so far, and if I were picking against spreads I would be sporting a very ugly record. As mentioned a few weeks back, there are so many teams that have been impossible to bank on, varying from great to garbage week-to-week. Hoping to get back on a roll, I humbly submit the selections for week ten:
MINNESOTA over Green Bay
Do or die time for the Vikes, who need to jump start the second half with a big home win against a team they should beat. Brett Favre has had a knack of late to throw games away late, and the Minny defense needs to take advantage.
Minnesota 27 Green Bay 13
Baltimore over TENNESSEE
Okay, I’ll admit it now: The Ravens are legit. There, I said it. They seem to be able to come up with big plays, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, when needed. It is hard to imagine a meltdown against the up and down Titans. On a side note, though, did you happen to catch the highlight from last week’s Ravens-Bengals game where Rudi Johnson ran into Ray Lewis at the goal line? We’ve been conditioned to see Lewis stand up and topple anyone who crossed his path, but Johnson churned his legs, and overpowered Lewis on his way to the end zone. The lesson? The emotional leader of the Ravens D is getting old, and they had better win now.
Baltimore 30 Tennessee 10
JACKSONVILLE over Houston
Texans have been a much tougher out over the past few weeks, but Jags are much tougher at home. Despite Byron Leftwich’s attempt to generate a QB controversy, the Jacksonville D will lead the way to a home win.
Jacksonville 20 Houston 7
Kansas City over MIAMI
Very wary of second half resurgence by Saban’s Dolphins, much like last year. What that says to me is Miami plays much better when the pressure is off. No way KC takes Fins lightly after last week’s upset of the Bears. Chiefs are rolling with Damon Huard at the helm, and coach Herm Edwards should be very familiar with prepping for Miami after spending years in the same division. Game should be tight, but KC playmakers will be the difference.
Kansas City 23 Miami 17
NEW ENGLAND over N.Y. Jets
Hey, I’ll be at this game! Pats, coming off loss to Indy, will be pumped. The stat has been floating around this week that they have not lost back-to-back games since 2002, and I see nothing that would point to that streak being snapped here. Jets played Pats tough a few weeks back in Meadowlands, but winning in Foxboro is too tall an order, so long as Tom Brady doesn’t toss up ill advised passes into double and triple coverage, like he did against Indy last week.
New England 24 N.Y. Jets 10
CINCINNATI over San Diego
Bengals are in must win mode now, at home, against a somewhat banged up Charger team. Put up or shut up time for Cincy, and the hunch here is they will find a way to get it done. No Shawne Merriman will allow Carson Palmer a few extra precious seconds to find his talented receiving corps. This could be the game of the week, and in retrospect I imagine NBC would have liked this to be the Sunday nighter.
Cincinnati 27 San Diego 22
DETROIT over San Francisco
Lions showed me plenty last week in dismantling the Falcons, and staying home against woeful road team should spell an easy win. Detroit has the look of a team that will give opponents fits in the second half, by the way. Niners show some life when playing in their soon-to-be-former home, but will not do much here.
Detroit 31 San Francisco 7
PHILADELPHIA over Washington
Will Philly stop the bleeding? Skins pulled off improbable win at home over hated Cowboys last week, but both of these squads have been very tough to predict of late. That said, I’ll stick with the home team, despite the one dimensional attack. Donovan McNabb is the wild card, and he will do just enough to be the difference in this one.
Philadelphia 28 Washington 21
INDIANAPOLIS over Buffalo
Colts looked great in beating Pats last week to move to 8-0. It is hard to see how a team that has been so bad stopping the run can have this much success, and eventually someone will take advantage of that. This will not be the week that happens (I’m thinking it will happen in January, again). I have to say it was somewhat eerie seeing Mr. Automatic, Adam Vinatieri, miss a gimme that would have iced the game last week. It says something that the Colts were able to overcome that, but maybe there is something in the water in Indiana.
Indianapolis 34 Buffalo 16
ATLANTA over Cleveland
Now, we’re looking at an impossible game to call. Will we see the Falcs of weeks 7 and 8, who ran a simple, effective offense and seemingly scored at will? Or, will we see the bungling bunch from last week which couldn’t seem to get out of their own way? Brownies have been competitive of late, but it says here Atlanta finds a way to come out on top in the dome.
Atlanta 30 Cleveland 20
Denver over OAKLAND
Denver has seemingly found their offense, posting back-to-back 31 point efforts, while Raiders seemingly have never had one. Oakland D has been decent, but spending all that time on the field wears them out, and there is no good reason to think the obviously superior team will not be able to exploit that and roll to victory.
Denver 24 Oakland 9
New Orleans over PITTSBURGH
Man, is it ugly in Steel Town or what? Hard to fathom the defending champs are 2-6, but they are what they are, having played just bad enough to lose in each loss. Saints need this one, and winning on the road is a tall order, but something tells me Pittsburgh is done, and the Saints can get out of here with the W.
New Orleans 20 Pittsburgh 17
SEATTLE over St. Louis
Reeling Rams will be hard pressed to get back on track here, despite the Who Dat lineup fielded by Seattle. Hawks defense will have to step it up and dominate again, like it did against the Radiers last week. No shutout this time, but with the help of the raucous crowd, the pick here is Seattle.
Seattle 19 St. Louis 7
Dallas over ARIZONA
Cowboys need to bounce back after horrific finish in DC last week, and playing in Arizona is almost like a home game for them. Cardinals appear finished, but could still put together a solid effort against a hated rival. I just don’t think they’ll have enough in the tank to finish the job, and see the ‘Pokes emerging victorious.
Dallas 23 Arizona 13
N.Y. GIANTS over Chicago
Were the Bears exposed last week in Miami? It certainly seemed like it. Chicago’s schedule has been loaded with cream puffs, but now the fun really begins, as they begin a stretch of games against solid teams, starting with the injury depleted G-Men. Brian Urlacher should play, which will help Chicago, but the Giants banged up defense should have enough to harass and unnerve Rex Grossman. Should be a low scoring affair, but the pick when two good teams clash goes to the home team.
N.Y. Giants 17 Chicago 10
CAROLINA over Tampa Bay
Panthers mired at .500 after two straight losses, and desperately need this one to keep pace. John Fox’s team has a knack for coming up with big wins when needed, and should be able to pull one out against a game Buccaneer bunch. It could be ugly, but the better team should prevail here.
Carolina 23 Tampa Bay 14
Last week: 9-5
Overall: 81-46 (63.8%)