I’ll keep taking 4-2 weeks until the end of the season. I found this week’s slate of games dull in match-ups, but tough in lines. Honestly, despite my statements below, I only “love” my Denver pick.
M: Well, since we were both out of town last week, things got a little skittish. Since I was away presenting a paper at a conference in Cincinnati, Rich was kind enough to take a week off from destroying me in W&L. By the way, if you ever need to stay downtown Cincinnati, the Netherland Plaza is a gorgeous, art deco hotel. They do, however, make you pay for internet in your room. Also, I've been sick all week, so if the reasoning seems loopy, I have gone well past simple congestion and may be diagnosed with the, uh... brain fever.
Den (-3.5) @ Cin
R: Is it possible that this is a Peyton Manning Eff You season? Think about it. His idiot little brother whom he had beaten and been better than his whole life now has more Super Bowl wins AND the stupid media (myself included, if I can be included as the tampon string of sports media) decided to question the smartest quarterback in the game because his arm lost some juice. Doesn’t that sound like a couple good reasons to say Eff You? Plus, he was pushed aside by his team for someone who is supposed to be the next “him,” but better athletically. The Bengals secondary has been suspect and they have to wonder if Leon Hall will ever be like his old self. PICK: Denver
M: With eight weeks in the books, is there any denying that Peyton Manning has been the MVP of the first half of the NFL season? He's begun to hit his stride in Denver, and over the last four weeks--in which time Denver is 3-1--he's thrown for 1289 yards, thrown 12 TDs and only 1 pick. We'll see how things go as we get into November, but I can't see the Bengals' defense in its present state slowing down a red hot Manning. He has completed an astonishing 75.3% of his passes on 142 attempts Pick: DENVER
Min @ Sea (-5)
This was a hard one for me. If feels like Vegas put this one a point or two too high. I get the home field advantage and I get that Christian Ponder seems like he has regressed in only two weeks, but have we forgotten that Russell Wilson is the other quarterback and that the Vikings do have some more rest coming into this one? That is pretty compelling, I think. The game may come down to special teams. So, according to Football Outsiders, the Seahawks are 9th in ST and the Vikings are 13th. I don’t love this pick as I make it, but it just feels closer than 5 points. PICK: Minnesota
M: Each of these teams is pretty good. Each of these teams is also not that good. You get the feeling that, with Minnesota at 5-3 (and coming off a big loss at home to Tampa Bay) and Seattle at 4-4 (riding a two-game losing streak), this is basically an elimination game in the NFC playoff race. The winner would obviously have the tie-breaker, and it's hard to see a team with more than six losses claiming a wild card in the NFC. I think I like Seattle at home, but I can't give 5 whole points. I might have taken them even at 4.5, but not 5. Pick: MINNESOTA
Pit @ Nyg (-3.5)
I know that this is down to 3 in a lot of places, but I normally stick with the lines from Tuesday. A hurricane got in the way of that one, so this is from Wednesday. The Giants are very beatable at home in the last five years and the Steelers Todd Haley-led offense is the type to mitigate the great New York pass rush. Of course, there are other circumstances at work here. How will the Giants react to even playing the game when some players are still taking care of their families? How will Mike Tomlin call this game knowing that his team has to catch a flight? It’s just weird. Now, if it was the type of weird that involves late Giants playoff runs or something like that, I’d believe that. But, I’ll do what many did on Wednesday and Thursday and grab the points. PICK: Pittsburgh
M: For some reason, I expect these two superior teams to play a sloppy game against each other. I can't really decide if I think that means it will be high- or low-scoring, but I think New York wins a close one. Pick: PITTSBURGH
Dal @ Atl (-4)
I have seen a lot of columns name this as a trap game from Atlanta and it being the perfect game for the Cowboys to show up? My question is why, unless someone is just calling this an opposite game. What kind of respect should Dallas even have at this point? The Cowboys will stop Michael Turner, but the Falcons are 7-0 despite him becoming a 23 carry, 70 yard type of back. I am one to pick “opposite” games, but not here. PICK: Atlanta
M: This is exactly the kind of game Dallas will show up for. They're coming off a tight division, everyone's talking about how much they suck, and then they get the chance to crap in the pie of the last undefeated team in the league on national television. In their four losses, Dallas has turned the ball over an astonishing 14 times. In their three wins, they still have five turnovers, but three of them came in one ugly game against Tampa Bay. This is a pick against all logic, because the Falcons carry a +8 margin into a game in the Georgia Dome, but it just feels like a win for the Cowboys to me. I can't make an argument for it other than, you would figure Dallas would win this game, wouldn't you? Right? Pick: DALLAS
Phi @ No (-3), o/u 52
How many weeks can Mike Vick buy himself when he fumbles so much? Just how bad can the Philly pass rush be? Drew Brees is simply being his normal 300+ yard, 3TD self lately and the Saints play well at home. The only problem is that the defense is on pace to be the worst in yards allowed of all time. Rule of this season: If a QB cannot gain confidence against the Saints defense, no one can. I expect a ton of points and one more Vick redemption story. For one week, anyway. PICK: Philadelphia, and I select the over.
M: You just can't trust either of these teams. You can't trust Philly because it's on the road and because they turn the ball over constantly (kind of like Dallas, above); you can't trust New Orleans because they don't have their coach and they quite possibly have the worst defense in the history of professional football. I picked New Orleans for the Council, but I'm taking the points here. Pick: PHILADELPHIA and the Over (because New Orleans will dictate the tempo; interesting fact, not a single Eagle game has scored 52 aggregate points this season, but five Saints games have beaten that number)
Andy saw the comments about his sauce from last week, so he was kind enough to share his secret chili recipe:
1 can of Hormel chili
1 can opener
1 microwave oven
For beers on a budget, recommend the upstate New York Matt brewing company that produces all the Sananac line of brews. Solid taste at 70% of the cost.
LAST WEEK: 4-2
FP NATION: 8-16