8-8 last week. 94-82 overall (as always, picks against the spread).
(For those following my weekly fantasy picks: for tonight I like Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, David Akers, Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub. Not keen on Arian Foster despite Forte gashing the Philly D last week because Philly will focus on stopping Foster).
- Hou @ Phil (-7.5). Andre Johnson is already the most difficult WR to defend in the NFL. After his beat-down of Cortland Finnegan, I can’t imagine Philly corners will be too inclined to do anything to tick him off. Johnson may finish with 300 yards receiving and 5 TDs. (I joke, but the truth is, Johnson is one of the classiest guys in the NFL and last week’s beating of Finnegan was long overdue. There were a number of players throughout the league who sported big smiles when watching highlights of the fight.) Phil 27, Hou 24.
- NO @ Cincy (+6.5). Cincy is now firmly in spoiler mode. Once a team absolutely knows it has no chance for the playoffs and that the coach will be fired at the end of the year, sometimes the players relax and just play more instinctively. (Though other times the players become too relaxed, and then get rolled by really good teams.) And, I’m not convinced the Saints are 8-3 good. Like I noted last week, they have played a weak schedule and have struggled with some better teams. While I think they’ll pull out a win, I don’t think it will be by much. NO 27, Cincy 24.
- Chic @ Det (+3.5). After throwing a TD last Sunday, the TV cameras showed Jay Cutler’s face – he was clearly proud of himself. He looked like a frat dude who had just polished off a beer bong, impressing fellow frat dudes and some ladies in the process. The problem for Cutler and the Bears though, is that whenever he seems to get his a swagger going, it quickly goes away. In fact, I’d argue that it’s Cutler’s fluctuating confidence, more than anything, that explains Chicago’s inconsistent offense. While Detroit will be starting Drew Stanton at QB, which is not good for Detroit or prognosticators picking Detroit, I can’t shake the thought that an upset may be in the works. For some reason it’s just too easy to envision a Cutler mauling by Kyle Vanden Bosch or Namwy4827n”a93 Suh that erases Cutler’s confidence and gets the Bears’ turnover machine going. I’ll go way out on a limb here and take Detroit to win despite their horrendous QB situation. Det 23, Chic 16.
- SF @ GB (-9.5). Funny that the playoff contending Packers’ lead RB had 6 rushes for -3 yards at one point late in the game last week while the 4-7 49ers squeezed out hundreds of yards and multiple TDs from their 2 back-up running backs after Frank Gore went down Monday. It’s interesting that such quality teams as the Packers and Colts can still win without even the THREAT of a running game. GB 33, SF 20.
- Den @ KC (-8.5). One thing I haven’t read anything about is the likely correlation between Todd Haley’s departure in Arizona and the decline of Arizona’s powerful offense. Sure, Kurt Warner’s retirement hurt significantly, but even with Warner in the fold last year (when Haley was in KC), the Cardinals’ offense was already on the decline. And, look now at KC’s offense. They have a lively running game and finally, someone has been able to help Dwayne Bowe fulfill his immense potential. Todd Haley should probably get more recognition for the coaching job he’s done in KC. KC 33, Den 23.
- Cleve @ Mia (-4.5). Just read an interesting post by Yahoo’s Jason Cole here. He notes that when Peyton Hillis soon breaks the 1000 yard mark for the season, he will be the first white running back to do so since 1985 when Craig James did it for New England. 25 years ago. Cleve to surprise? Cleve 23, Miami 17.
- MN @ Buff (-6.5). Now that Childress is gone, Peterson is hurt and Favre has already made definite statements about retiring, the Vikes are suddenly really boring. Maybe the lack of attention will help them win. As far as Buff goes, much was made of Steve Johnson’s terrible drop that cost Buff a big upset win over Pitt last week…and of course his odd tweet afterward. Read here for interesting take on the tweet from the DC’s own Laura Donovan. MN 31, Buff 23.
- Wash @ NYG (-7.5). Sometimes, when I screw up at work, I’ll suddenly have an image of Tom Coughlin pop into my head – his trademark “my RB just fumbled again” look: eyes of bewilderment, hands on his hips, head tilted to the side. NYG 17, Wash 14.
- Jax @ Tenn (-2.5). With Kerry Collins back, Tenn should be a different team. And there’s no way Chris Johnson has 5 yards rushing again – no way. Should be an intense game this week – wouldn’t be surprised if the intensity led to another Cortland Finnegan brawl, though this time I bet he picks on K Josh Scobee. Tenn 20, Jax 16.
- Oak @ SD (-12.5). Just over two weeks ago, the Oakland Raiders were coming off their bye, healthy again, riding a 3 game winning streak. And lots of NFL “experts” were quick to point to the new, winning culture of this Raider team when calling for an upset of the Steelers in Pitt. Fast forward to today, and Oak sits at 5-6 after getting clobbered by Pitt and suffering a rather humiliating loss to Miami at home last week. And now, they have to face the hottest team in the NFL on the road. Funny to read articles like this one now that the Raiders are likely to go to 5-7 and drop out of the playoff race. SD 34, Oak 21.
- St.L @ Ariz (+2.5). I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team more lifeless than the Cardinals last week in front of their home crowd on Monday night. They brought absolutely nothing. StL 23, Ariz 16.
- Dal @ Indy (-5.5). Wow was Indy bad last Sunday night. SD was up for the game and played tough, but Indy was also just horrible. And it wasn’t just their lack of running game. Manning was atrocious. The defense was atrocious. I did like it when Chris Collinsworth slowed down replays to show that Manning was actually flinching in anticipation of getting hit before he even released the ball on a couple of those horrible picks. The replays indicated pretty clearly to me that Manning’s consecutive game streak isn’t one borne of toughness, but of timing – getting rid of the ball so fast throughout his career that he just doesn’t take many real hits. If San Diego were in the AFC South, Manning’s consecutive games streak would have ended years ago. Indy 30, Dal 20.
- Car @ Sea (-5.5). Outside of seeds #1 and #2, the best position heading into the playoffs this year would be the #5 seed – as that team would get to play Seattle, SF, or St. Louis. Sea 31, Car 17.
- Atl @ TB (+2.5). Huge game for TB at home. They lose here and their playoff hopes are pretty much gone. Something tells me that the hype surrounding Atlanta after last week’s big win over Green Bay will diminish after a surprise loss to TB. TB 24, Atlanta 20.
- Pitt @ Balt (-2.5). If this game were to play out how a true Balt/Pitt game should play out at this time of year, it would start snowing before the game and the defenses would brawl it out for a 3-3 tie. But that won’t happen. Pitt 20, Balt 19.
- NYJ @ NE (-3.5). Neither of these teams seem like they should be 9-2. The Jets have pulled off several improbable comeback victories and the Pats seem to win more by taking advantage of opportunities and opponents’ errors (think the Miami game) than with sheer 9-2 awesomeness. Just when I’m about to pick NE because they never lose at home, I consider the possibility that it would then be just like a team like the Jets to go in there and upset them at home. But then I think about Belichick scheming and what not and can’t shake the thought that NE rolls. I do think NE will fail to show up for a game in the coming weeks, just not this one. NE 28, NYJ 20.