Friday, September 26, 2008

NFL picks, week 4

I'm taking a lot of road teams this week. The thing that strikes me, looking down the list, is not how few of the games look like good games - that's actually fairly common. It's how few look like interesting games. The division matchups are among teams that are bad (Cleveland-Cincinnati) or badly mismatched (Denver-Kansas City, San Diego-Oakland). The upshot is, the picks this week are going to be brief, because I've got little to say about any of these.

Atlanta at Carolina (-7) - Atlanta's already shown more than I expected of them this year. And given Carolina's tendency to play down to inferior opponents, the Falcons might cover this - even an outright win wouldn't be a total shock. But it would be a surprise.

Denver (-10) at Kansas City - Here's a rivalry game. Traditional divisional rivals in the AL West. Pretty good team at the home of pretty bad team. Pretty good team wins handily and covers the spread.

San Francisco at New Orleans (-6) - These two teams used to be division rivals, right? But not really rivals, as the Saints where just a bi-annual effective bye week for the 49ers. So far, San Francisco has played better than New Orleans, but I'm obviously basing this on my pre-season perceptions. If the 49ers win this one, those perceptions will change.

Arizona at N.Y. Jets (-2) - Again, this is obviously not based on the way either team has played so far. I really can't give you a good reason to pick the Jets, so I'll give you the lame ones - home field, Favre's starting to fit in, Arizona's been in hotel rooms for a week rather than at home, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Minnesota (+3) at Tennessee - I generally pick these on Tuesday or Wednesday, and then write the capsules in idle moments during the course of the week. I don't know what I was thinking when I picked the Vikings, but maybe I had a reason.

Green Bay (+1.5) at Tampa Bay - OK, this one should actually be a pretty good game, with two pretty good teams who have played pretty well going head to head.

Houston (+8.5) at Jacksonville - Jaguars win, but don't cover. Why? Because I said so, that's why.

Cleveland at Cincinnati (-4) - It's not often that you see a game this meaningless this early in the season. If the Bengals play the way they played at New York last week, it will be a blowout. They won't. Can Cleveland take advantage? Doubtful

San Diego (-7) at Oakland - See Denver at Kansas City.

Buffalo (-8) at St. Louis - If the Rams lose by 10, it will be a major step forward - their closet game so far is last week's 24 point loss to the Seahawks.

Washington (+11) at Dallas - Here, I think, is one of the good games on the week. Are the Cowboys a better team than the Redskins? Yes, probably. But I expect a tough, hard-fought, divisional rivalry game. Dallas ends up winning late, maybe by a touchdown, maybe by a field goal, but by 10 or fewer points.

Philadelphia (-3) at Chicago - Every year, you can look back at the NFL schedule when the season ends and find a half dozen games which make no sense. How on earth did that happen? Chicago's week one win in Indianapolis will be one of those this year.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-5.5) - Baltimore is 2-0. Thank you, Marvin. Thank you Romeo. This week they are not playing the Browns. This week they are not playing the Bengals. Next week they will not be 3-0.

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