Thursday, November 08, 2007

NFL picks, week 10

Buffalo (-3) at Miami - There is apparently no truth to the rumor that Senate Democrats demanded that Michael Mukasey pre-emptively declare that the showing of videotapes of this game to incarcerated prisoners be considered illegal torture. CBS is, however, wisely limiting its distribution, hoping not to drive too many fans away from the NFL. As bad as the Dolphins have been, they'll beat someone, and it wouldn't shock me if it were this week, at home, against an offensively-limited Bills team. But when they do beat someone, it'll happen without me picking them, because there won't be a game when they represent a good bet. Unless it's the Jets re-match.

Cleveland (-10) at Pittsburgh - I know that Pittsburgh went into Cleveland and won big in week 1. That resulted in Charlie Frye being dispatched to Seattle and, since then, the Browns have been very competitive. More than that, they're 5-2, and 5-1 outside of New England. They kept the Patriots game relatively close, and only a last-second fumble return for a touchdown prevented them from losing by just 10. Pittsburgh will win this game, but it won't be a blowout, and 10 points is too many against a team with Cleveland's offense.

Denver (+3) at Kansas City - I have made no secret of my dislike for the Chiefs. Intelligence would suggest that the Broncos are done, the Chiefs are at home, Kansas City's defense against Denver's back-up QB is a bad match-up for the Broncos, and I don't disagree with any of it. I'm picking Denver to win anyway.

Jacksonville at Tennessee (-4.5) - I like Peter King. A lot. I think his "Monday Morning Quarterback" is appointment reading, because he has a ton of information and opinions. Despite that, he never writes anything that makes me say, "wow, I wish I'd written that." But in his picks this week, he did. (He wrote it about Cincinnati-Baltimore, I'm going to use it here, recognizing that these are better teams than those two.) "Do I have to pick someone in this game? OK. I'll take the [Titans]... but only if you don't make me watch it."

Minnesota at Green Bay (-6) - Minnesota is undefeated when Adrien Peterson runs for 296 yards. There's a good chance, however, that Green Bay won't spend the afternoon in a nickel defense. Since the Vikings can't do anything else to score, it's tough to pick them unless you think that Peterson's going wild. So I'm not picking them. Packers win, Packers cover.

Philadelphia at Washington (-3) - If an NFL player had a judge in open court refer to his home as a "drug emporium," I'm thinking that Commissioner Gooddell would have something to say about it. While one can feel tremendous sympathy for Andy Reid, it's tough to see how that sympathy ought to lead to the position that "of course he shouldn't step down." If one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, what is Andy Reid doing to avoid with his younger children the fate that has befallen his older children? And what, exactly, is Reid accomplishing with the Eagles right now? The Redskins have been inconsistent at best, and I think you might even expect Philadelphia to play better on the road right now, but I've got to go with Washington to cover here.

St. Louis at New Orleans (-12) - The Rams averaged 40 points a game last year - if they score 7 this week, it'll give them 40 for the season. OK, both of those figures are obviously lies. Hyperbole, exaggeration, literary license, "meant to give an air of artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." Suffice it to say, the St. Louis offense has been weak. Bad. Practically non-existent. The Saints spent a month that way, too, but unlike the Rams, have chosen to actually play the NFL season after taking the first four weeks off. 12 points is a lot to ask of any non-Foxborough-based team to cover, but since it actually only requires that they score 13 (OK, more exaggeration - bear with me), I'm willing to give the points.

Atlanta at Carolina (-4) - Well, here's a scintillating division game. Not. I can't believe that I'm actually picking the Panthers to cover a 4-point spread, but the alternative, picking Atlanta on the road, is equally unpalatable.

Cincinnati (+4) at Baltimore - This is actually an interesting game, a match-up of obvious weaknesses and overblown strengths. Cincinnati is not the offensive powerhouse that people perceive or expect them to be; Baltimore is not the stalwart defense that people still imagine. The Bengals defensive ineptitude is matched by the Keystone Kops Kluelessness of the Ravens' offense. I was trying to come up with an outcome to this one that would surprise me, and I just can't do it. In the end, I won't give 4 points with a team as woeful offensively as Baltimore, and I won't pick the Bengals to win on the road. The Ravens win by a field goal.

Chicago (-3) at Oakland - I remember a Mad Magazine piece about "If TV Guide had to follow Truth in Advertising Laws" (or something like that) which had a set of TV listings, one of which was for a PBS documentary. "Peanut Farming in Senegal - This would be dull if the main crop were something other than peanuts. As it is, the potential for viewer boredom is unlimited." Not sure why I'm thinking of that right now...

Dallas (-1) at N.Y. Giants - There are a couple of interesting games this weekend, and this is one of them. The Cowboys spanked the Giants in week one, but New York is currently on a six game winning streak. They've been beating up on the little sisters of the poor, however, and the questions about the actual quality of this Giants team have not been anything close to answered. We may get some answers this weekend. Until I see them do something against a real team, I'm an unbeliever.

Detroit (+1) at Arizona - If this game were in Detroit, I'd pick the Lions to cover anything up to double-digits. I haven't yet seen compelling evidence that they're capable of traveling effectively. In this case, I think that the Lions are enough better that they can win.

Indianapolis (-3.5) at San Diego - The game of the week. Questions abound. Do the Chargers react to that embarrassment in Minnesota? Do the Colts suffer from Patriots Hangover? Are they beat up? Has San Diego given up on the season? The Colts are a better team, better coached, with better talent, but they're also coming off a really tough weekend. I see them starting slowly, but not falling far enough behind to let the Chargers get comfortable in bully mode. In the end, Indy wins by a touchdown or more.

San Francisco at Seattle (-10) - This may be the first time ever that ESPN pre-empts NFL football for replays of the 2006 World Series of Poker, on the grounds that the year-old, muliply-shown and viewed Poker tournament will be more action-packed and interesting for sports fans than a "live" "NFL" "football" game.

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