Last week, I managed an 11-5 record (23-9 now overall).
Not bad, but again, I don’t expect this string of luck to continue.
• Cleve @ Balt (-10.5). A couple ugly performances from both teams last week. I do wonder how long Mangenious stays on as coach if he can’t turn things around soon. Mike Holmgren is definitely the type of guy who wants his own coach in there and Mangini was not his choice. Balt 30, Cleve 13.
• Tenn @ NYG (-2.5). Getting a little tired of this whole forced apology thing. Whenever someone does something dumb (or even in some cases, not so dumb), he or she has to offer up an insincere, forced apology. Brandon Jacobs was forced to do this recently after weirdly chucking his helmet into the crowd at last Sunday’s “game”. Who are these ridiculous apologies for anyway? Are there really people out there saying “I won’t support the Giants until Brandon Jacobs apologies for throwing his helmet…(tears…)…I just can’t move forward without an apology.” (Actually that made up quote right there reminded me of social work school…) NYG 23, Tenn 17.
• Cincy @ Car (-3.5). Lost in the chaos of wild T.O./OchoCinco antics, is the fact that Cincy actually has a quality defense. Two forces will collide in this game – the very strong defense of Cincy and the very powerful “it’s my first start in the NFL and the fans and I have so much adrenaline that I’m hoping my adrenaline alone can will us to victory” scenario for Carolina’s new starting QB Jimmy Clausen. I think the adrenaline wins out. Car 24, Cincy 20.
• Atl @ NO (-5.5). I like Garrett Hartley – seems like a nice guy. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player less prepared mentally to carry out a task than Hartley was lining up for the game-winning field goal against SF on Monday night. He looked TERRIFIED. He made that field goal in spite of himself – one of the uglier field goals I’ve seen in a while. You could say he hartley made it, if you wanted to be lame. (By the way, I think kickers should have to call ugly field goals just like basketball players should call “backboard”.) I like Atlanta here – they may simply be the better team this year. Atl 31, NO 27.
• Dal @ Hou (-2.5). I have to admit, it’s fun to read Dallas papers and general NFL websites where Cowboys fans go to whine. I enjoy doing this. But the fact is, Cowboy fans have plenty to whine about right now. I think some blame is appropriately being directed at the lifeless Wade Phillips and the tough-to-figure-out Jason Garrett (weird playcalling). But I think Jerry Jones and the extra pressure his over-the-topness (if you will) puts on his team is also to blame. The billion dollar stadium, the look-at-me personality, his walking-on-the-sidelines-annoying-the-crap-out-of-the-whole-team-during-games habit – no wonder Romo would rather be golfing. Dal 34, Hou 30.
• SF @ KC (+1.5). Gotta wonder what the offseason conversations were like between Todd Haley and his two RBs Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. When courting Thomas Jones, did Haley promise him the starting role? If so, what did he say to Charles about his role? Charles, remember, was one of the NFL’s leading RBs last year as a starter (he started the second half of the season)? Before I accuse Haley of lying to one or both of these guys, to be fair, I do have to say that Thomas Jones has been listed as the #1 RB on the depth chart all off season through to today. So, it is possible that Haley has maintained Jones is #1 from the start. But then I wonder how he spun the acquisition of Jones in the off-season to Charles – a back no doubt thinking he’d be the featured back after dominating last year? Watch for a poor game from Thomas Jones, a KC loss at home and a brewing controversy about who should get the most carries in KC. SF 27, KC 21.
• Det @ MN (-10.5). I really want to believe Detroit can pull an upset here, especially after 2 down-to-the-wire, emotionally difficult losses. This game will be different than the first two – it won’t be close. MN 33, Det 13.
• Buff @ NE (-13.5). You know you’re in trouble when your coach (Buff’s Chan Gailey) tries to put a positive spin on a 34-7 loss by pointing out that it was still sort of a game after the first half (even though Buff was still losing – then Buff went on to let the Packers score 21 unanswered points in the second half). For some reason this reminds me of the North Korea/Portugal World Cup soccer game a few months ago that Portugal won 7-0. I think the North Korea head coach offered up some Chan Gailey-type comments about an OK first half upon returning home. Then he was shot. Look for the Buff offense to show signs of life with Ryan Fitzpatrick in at QB. NE 38, Buff 23.
• Pitt @ TB (+2.5). Charlie Batch is still alive? Josh Freeman, meet Troy Polamalu. Pitt 24, TB 13.
• Wash @ StL (+3.5). Don’t like the timing of this game for Wash. Lots of trouble picking this game. So I flipped a coin. Wash 23, StL 19. (The coin had the score on it too, somehow.)
• Phil @ Jax (+2.5). How can Andy Reid offer up these two quotes within 1 day’s time: “Kevin Kolb is our starter” (after the Detroit game) and then “Vick is playing out of his mind”. Was his head so buried in that laminated play-book thing that he didn’t notice Vick dominating in Detroit? Did he only notice what Vick had done after he had a chance to “watch the film”? I like Andy Reid, but this situation is odd. Many are suggesting that keeping Vick in there isn’t his decision, but then I heard him state something like “and for those thinking others have made this decision, they haven’t, it was my decision”. Lots of confusion around a situation that shouldn’t be confusing. Vick looks fantastic because he’s one of the most athletic football players in NFL history. But there is one important question few people seem to be asking right now – can Michael Vick sustain this level of play? My guess is no. It starts this weekend mysteriously against a weak Jax defense. (Vick might even be out-rushed by D Garrard). Jax 27, Phil 16.
• Oak @ AZ (-4.5). Nice move by Al Davis picking up Jason Campbell. While I never thought Jason Campbell deserved ALL of the criticism he got while in Wash (they’ve had other problems too), I also never thought Campbell was that good of a QB. Oak gave up a 4th round draft pick and $8 million or so (over 2 years) in salary to acquire Campbell. Perhaps with Al Davis at the helm, I shouldn’t be surprised things aren’t working out – but if Campbell is permanently benched, this really represents a foolish loss for the organization (especially after just 1.5 games). Man would being a Raider fan be tough. Given that the benching was apparently the O-Coordinator’s idea, and that signing Campbell appears to have been Al Davis’ idea, I wonder how long the O-Coordinator will be around? (Bruce Gradkowski won’t enjoy the same adrenaline-infused-new-QB-success that Jimmy Clausen will.) AZ 38, Oak 27.
• Indy @ Den (+6.5). On a serious note, I really feel for the Broncos and the family of WR Kenny McKinley. Tragic death. Suicide is brutal emotionally for family/friends/everyone involved. Denver 31, Indy 26.
• SD @ Sea (+5.5). I wonder what Pete Carroll was saying on the sidelines to his defense when Denver scored again to go up 31-7 last week. “Oh, nuts guys, that was a close one. We almost stopped ’em. You sure gave it a good effort though and you know what, I really do appreciate that and I appreciate you and all you bring to this team.” As I pick this game, I am thinking about Seattle’s major home-field advantage, San Diego having a quality offense led by a QB I’ve grown to respect more and more each year, and the Vincent Jackson situation. I’m not sure how popular Jackson is with his Charger teammates, but his situation as well as the situation with starting LT McNeil, HAS to affect the other players. While I don’t know enough about the details of the squabble, I think a fair number of teammates are inclined to side with V-Jack, bringing about the possibility of a growing, underlying discontent. Whether justified or not, this could affect the team. Not this week though. SD 25, Sea 20.
• NYJ @ Miami (-2.5). Consider the team names involved in this game to gain a sense for the theme of this match-up: Jets vs. Dolphins. Jets are very loud things, Dolphins are very quiet things, only offering high-pitched sounds now and again. Did anyone notice that the Dolphins quietly went into the super-loud Metrodome last week and shut up the Vikings? In fact, the Dolphins were so quiet I’m pretty sure I noticed Chad Henne call an inaudible last week. But nobody noticed because all the attention was on the Vikings’ woes and Favre reverting to his interception behavior. Anyway, the real question for this game is: how will the Dolphins deal with such a hyped, crazy, Sunday Night Football environment against the Loudmouth Jets? Answer: they will quietly silence their opponents. Miami 26, NYG 13.
• GB @ Chic (+2.5). How many sacks will Clay Matthews have? 4. Seriously. GB 33, Chic 24.