Onto the picks:
Minnesota over Tampa Bay
-Scott Hanson helpfully pointed out the exact rule of the Mike Williams TD/out of bounds nonsense on Sunday. According to Rule 8 and yada yada, an offensive player is allowed to re-enter play and touch the ball if he's forcibly pushed out of the endzone by the defender. Tampa Bay was screwed, and I can only assume Schiano spent the week hiding in the bushes outside of Minnesota's practice facility a la Ed O'Neill in the Little Giants. Minnesota's really fun to watch. Each week they get a boost out of a specific aspect of their game. A couple of games ago the special teams scored twice. Adrian Peterson went off last game. Sunday could be the defense's time to shine on goody Thursday night football.
Chicago over Carolina
-Chicago's defense used to be the prized one of fantasy drafts. As sure as Dan Dierdorf speaking demonstratively about Joe Flacco is, so too was someone drafting the Bears defense very high in drafts. I overheard two gentlemen talking about the great Bears D on Tuesday. Jay Cutler may be despised by football fans, but the Bears D is not. Cam Newton's also nearing total national disdain. Simmons now mentions Cam beating terrible teams last season. The Panthers are a horrible team. Cam Newton replaced Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen. Of course one would think the Panthers were great because Cam was great. They were 6-10 last year, and will win 5 or 6 games again.
San Diego over Cleveland
-I assume San Diego went into the mountains after losing to Denver. There's speculation that a loss to Cleveland will be the end of the Norv Turner era. I doubt it. The time for a coaching firing is during the bye week. Norv's the guy to take San Diego to a .500 record again and an early playoff exit. Paul Holmgren had his farewell news conference this week. He regrets the lack of victories during his tenure but is convinced the team will win more with the new ownership and the way the team's been built. I absolutely doubt that.
Detroit over Seattle
-I miss watching hockey, friends and well-wishers. Hockey's one of my favorite sports to watch, just behind soccer. I chose a team to follow on Friday night. I watched the Erie Otters battle the London Knights on the NHL Network. Erie has 15 year old Connor McDavid, whom Jeff Marek of Sportsnet believes is the next Big Player to take the NHL by storm in about three years. Erie Otters is 'my team' until the lockout is over. I chose them before I learned about the big deal their best player is. There's a backstory to my Erie choice which I will not divulge in this post. Anyway, why the hell am I picking Detroit? Was I extremely tired last night when making the picks? Did I think their 7 fourth quarter points are a sign of exciting things to come? I mostly don't trust Russell Wilson on the road and refuse to acknowledge the hype surrounding Seattle. This could be a surprisingly miserable game to watch.
Green Bay over Jacksonville
-CBS immediately cut to Chad Henne after the Raiders won in OT. Henne walked disappointingly to the middle of the field to socialize with Oakland. I wonder if anyone wrote a story pondering would the game been different if Blaine Gabbert didn't get hurt. Jags/Raiders was as bad as watching two terrible teams in an NBA regular season game. NBA regular season games are more horrible than not. Teams milking it in for three quarters as the arena entertainment crew tries to destroy your brain with sounds and images. I'm always surprised when the Jags have a chance to win the game. If MoJo is out for an extended period, they are absolutely screwed. The Green Bay Packers will continue to roll this week.
Indianapolis over Tennessee
-Chris Johnson rushed for 102 yards and 2 TDs on four carries against Buffalo. I was stunned for several minutes. My fantasy team benefited greatly from Johnson's insane day on the ground (195 yards total; he could've rushed for 2 more TDs if Munchak didn't insert Harper into the game). Tennessee's the favorite. I don't understand why. Indy's defense is bad, of course, but not nearly as bad as Indy's. I have a better chance of getting Jerk Chicken straight from Negril tomorrow night than Chris Johnson repeating his 195 yard performance. Andrew Luck, meanwhile, is the backburner guy for sports writers now. RG3 is the QB national writers want to write about. Luck will be written about again in glowing fashion if he helps Indy stay in the wild card picture in Week 14. I recently learned what a backburner guy is to a girl after realizing I've been a backburner guy for nearly a year in the absolute unsexiest way possible. I make W.B. Yeats' Maud Gonne nonsense seem less humiliating.
New England over St. Louis
-The NFL sucks at marketing their London games. Yes, this is the London game. They're usually awful to watch. I question the interest level of the 70,000+ plus in Wembley stadium. The game kicks off minutes after England's own Match of the Day ends. A regular season NFL game in London has the spark of a lifeless club friendly during the summer months in the United States.
Miami over New York Jets
-The Jets receiving corp. is going to cost them more wins. I got my first extended look at the Jets this season. The team's not so terrible, against the Patriots that is. They were crisp and coached well. The Jets are inconsistent, though. Beating Miami isn't as motivating as beating New England. I'm weary of picking against Miami. They've shown a consistency in winning with good defense and adequate play from Ryan Tannehill. The Jets can definitely be had.
Philadelphia over Atlanta
-Asante Samuel declined to chat with the Philadelphia media about Sunday's game. Samuel, of course, is very despised by the Philadelphia media. The day free agency hit and Asante Samuel was officially allowed to leave New England for greener pastures, I texted/called my friend through my journey home from campus for updates. Samuel was one of my favorite corners. I didn't care if he didn't tackle well. He was a ball-hawk and the Eagles signed him for that reason. Every week the media bitched about Asante's poor tackling and dismissed him as a football player for that, routinely observing his ability to intercept the ball. Anyway, Asante declines to participate in a conference call with the Philly media and the Daily News was petty about it. The second he left town via trade, Marcus Hayes wrote a horrible op-ed that was more of an attack on Asante's character than his football ability. Asante could've taken part and simply wished the collective media a 'bleep you,' but that would've been classless. Continue ignoring the media, Asante!
The storylines are easy to create this week: Andy's never beaten an undefeated team off the bye, and he's also undefeated in the first game after the bye. The offensive line is shambolic as currently constructed. The defensive line can't hit the quarterback. The max-protection excuse is a bit tiresome now. I liked it when Washburn admitted it wasn't just the max-protect scheme of the other teams. Vick continues to think the offense is fine and dandy. Andy Reid always has his team ready to win after the bye, so that's why I like the Birds. Of course, I'll always pick the Birds.
The Falcons didn't play well in their last game before the bye. Questions about the team popped up, as predicted. The NFC South is horrible so the Dirty Birds should win the division if some slump happens. I'm also retiring the Valencia-Falcons comparison no one noticed, until Valencia and Atlanta inevitably lose in their respective playoff competitions.
Washington over Pittsburgh
-Again, what the hell am I thinking? I'm turning into an ESPN personality. I'm essentially picking RG3 to beat the Steelers. Dick LeBeau destroys rookie quarterbacks. The Steelers have the 2nd best pass defense in the NFL. I don't know how they'll contain RG3 when he takes off, though. The Steelers are slower now, so I expect RG3 to exploit the team's slowness. Pittsburgh's usually unimpressive in the first part of the season. By week 16, I'll wonder how they won 10 games.
Oakland over Kansas City
-What a game this will be. KC has a humiliating QB controversy. I don't know how Oakland's offense manages to get first downs in their series. Oakland and KC used to have an aura about it. Their games were fun to watch even during Oakland's 2 win seasons, Art Shell staring blankly ahead. Romeo Crennel of the Chiefs tends to stare blankly into space when shown on camera. Dennis Allen looks really nervous on the sidelines, eyes wide and head turning in different directions to see who's near; maybe he's looking for help or he lost his car keys and needs to find them--it's that sort of expression.
New York Giants over Dallas
-The Cowboys beat NYG in Week 1, spawning too many decrees of the Cowboys as a power team in the NFC despite the knowledge that week 1 shouldn't be used to gauge how a team will play in week 10. Dallas had a nicens little win against Carolina. I expected embarrassing defeat. Victor Cruz eluding three Washington defenders moved the Giants to 5-2. Collinsworth described Romo's Week 1 performance as the 'performance of his life.' Romo only has a few of those performances that inspire hyperbolic compliments from broadcasters every few years. The Giants are possibly America's New Team now. NBC plays salsa music for Cruz during TD celebrations. I'm positive Eli will host another SNL before the current season ends. The Cowboys are the team fans want to laugh at, sort of like how fans love to laugh at the Mets.
New Orleans over Denver
-Denver's going to trail by 20 points before the fifth Papa John's commercial of the night. A 20 point hole isn't difficult to overcome against the Chargers. Drew Brees and the Saints will score even more points. Each Denver TD will be matched by the Saints. I'm going to guess a 42-21 final. Watch out for 90 shots of Joe Vitt and numerous explanations of the Saints bounty situation.
San Francisco over Arizona
-Monday Night RAW had its lowest ratings in 15 years. The three hour format is sort of a catch-22. Three hours is a stiff time commitment for most people. If I cared enough I'd search for a breakdown of ratings throughout the three hours. I watch RAW every week for no discernible reason (on DVR; sometimes it takes a few days). Simply, Vince has me in his clutches again, like he did in the late 90s and early aughts. The length of the show, plus competition with so many script and reality shows and also MNF, are all reasons for the dip in ratings, Vince's return, and the horrible soap opera storyline between John Cena and AJ Lee. Of course, the quality of RAW's been consistently good since the 1001 episode. Matches have time to develop and tell a story. Midcarders are showcased more. The tag team division matters for the first time in nearly a decade. The product's fairly good for WWE right now, considering Wrestlemania season is a little less than 3 months away. Anyway, San Fran-Arizona would've been a more exciting game if the Cardinals didn't turn into their 1-6 selves.
Last Week: 9-4
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK