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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Week Ten NFL Picks

Time for one of my bi-weekly blog posts, as it's turned out lately. I'll try to make it relatively substantial below, analyzing the games and such. It's probably a lost cause, though, since the more I think about these games, sometimes, it seems like I get even further from what will happen. Last week, for example, I was only 7-7, both straight-up and against the spread. [Insert the "I don't endorse sports betting" disclaimer here.]

Kansas City (-3.5) over New Orleans

OK, the Saints have the worst-rated defense in the league, the Chiefs must beat these guys, right? How KC lost to Tampa in a shootout last week is another one of those results that I can't figure, having not seen the game. Priest Holmes is out with a knee, and when that news came down last night I alertly put Derrick Blaylock in my fantasy starting lineup--aren't I smart? The guy got 4 TDs in one half against the Falcons, so he should be good for a few on New Orleans, which looked like the JV trying to defend the varsity in San Diego last week.

Cleveland (+3.5) to cover but lose against Pittsburgh

I can't quite pick against the Steelers after what they've done the last two weeks, even though they are on the road against a Browns team that is good at home. Roethlisberger & Co. showed good poise in Dallas a few weeks ago, remember. I exoect a tough loss for the Browns, much like the Philly game a few weeks ago. Cleveland also was involved in my favorite gambling moment of last week when, about to go in for a late tying TD, Jeff Garcia was picked off by Ed Reed, who returned the INT for six the other way. Everyone who had bet on the six-point underdog Browns simultaneously cursed.

Washington (-3) over Cincinnati

Bengals, as I've written, are inconsistent, but one thing I do know is they haven't won on the road all year. The Redskins are similarly hard to understand, since they've got the league's top-rated defense, despite the absence of several defensive starters like Lavar Arrington. Meanwhile, the vaunted Joe Gibbs offense hasn't translated into any discernible passing game, even though this team has Brunell, Coles and Gardner. They beat the Lions last week on a Clinton Portis halfback-pass and a blocked punt. Hey, whatever works; I think they have enough to take out Cincy today.

Buffalo (+7) to cover but lose in New England

This Buffalo game actually scares me a little bit. The Bills looked pretty good last week in the Jets game, which I had a chance to watch here in the DC TV market, and Willis McGahee really is a difference-maker for them. If they keep pounding Portis against the Pats' D, they could have some success. But they still have Bledsoe back there, so I'm not too concerned about the outcome, even if we do have some guys off the street playing defensive back. (On that point, a classic moment in this week's Inside the NFL shows a player on the St. Louis sideline last week saying, "Man, they got Troy Brown out there, come on!")

Baltimore (Even) over NY Jets

Hmm, Quincy Carter against the Ravens' D on the road. Not a hard choice.

St. Louis (+1) over Seattle

Jeez, these two teams are hard to pick. I'll guess that those crazy Rams will put together a good performance at home today just because they usually do that, notwithstanding the Patriots game, and because whenever I think they're totally gone they come back and play well. I have to quote Bill Simmons on the Rams:

New England's nickel package last Sunday included a wide receiver (Troy Brown); a backup linebacker (Don Davis); a rookie free agent with the worst-selling jersey in the league (Randall Gay); and a practice squad CB named after Earth Wind and Fire (Earthwind Moreland). Of course, they beat the Rams in St. Louis by 22. How does this happen? How many Mike Martz games can end with everyone saying, "Wow, that was an absolutely ATROCIOUS loss" afterwards? Fifteen? Twenty? Thirty? Give me a number. The man needs to be stopped.

And yet I'm picking them today. The Seahawks have their own issues.

Green Bay (-4) over Minnesota

The Vikings are having their annual collapse a little early this year.

Philadelphia (-6.5) over Dallas

The Eagles are showing some weaknesses, especially in run defense, and they even have put Jeremiah Trotter back in the starting lineup to try to fix things. Unfortunately, the Cowboys only have the artist formerly known as Eddie George to carry the ball. I am looking forward to the Parcells postgame comments for the rest of the year as the trainwreck known as the 2004 Dallas Cowboys gets even worse--especially if reporters keep asking about Drew Henson.

Detroit (+3) to cover and win at Jacksonville

Both teams had nice starts but now find themselves set back by injuries. I'm going Lions for a few reasons here. 1) Detroit has shown good resilience in road games this season. 2) I'm chalking up the Lions' offensive woes last week to facing the Redskins defense. 3) Byron Leftwich has been the key to every Jags win this year, and he's out with some other guy starting in his place at QB.

Tennessee (-6) over Chicago

Another game tape from last week I would need to see to believe. The Craig Krenzel-led Bears put up how many points on the Giants? 28, you say? I don't care if it's Billy Volek starting.

Arizona (+2) over NY Giants

The Giants are struggling after the aforementioned Bears debacle in which they lost both starting defensive ends. The Cardinals, on the other hand, won at Miami and finally have both Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin together to stretch opposing defenses. The Cards are at home and really should win this game. We shall see.

Atlanta (-4) over Tampa Bay

The last time we saw the Falcons, they put together an outstanding performance in winning at Denver two weeks back. Vick ran for over 100, and even though he's struggled in the past against the Bucs D, he does seem to be getting the new Atlanta offensive system, at last. (That win over San Diego is looking a lot more impressive now too, huh?)

Houston (+9) to cover and lose at Indianapolis

My beloved Texans struggled in Denver last week, but I'm not quitting on them. The Colts let the Vikings stick around until the end Monday night, so I see no reason why they won't do the same with Houston.

San Francisco (-1.5) over Carolina

Gee, I wonder why Fox isn't featuring this as their big doubleheader game? Matchups of 1-7 teams are always a good time.