Last Week: 7-5-2
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) over MIAMI DOLPHINS
The award for least recognizable coach in the NFL has officially gone to Tony Sparano. Unless you are a die-hard football fan, there is no way you recognize him sitting at the end of the bar alone drinking Captain Morgan. Then again, why would you want to approach the most boring person in the NFL?
Excluding Channing Crowder (he uses off-color remarks as a means to gain attention because his mediocre linebacking skills cannot do the job), this team may also be the most boring in the NFL. The Marino/Henne comparisons have disappeared. Brandon Marshall has done nothing outlandish. The Wildcat is not exciting anymore because every team uses it. They need something to happen to spice things up. Maybe a trade for T.O. would do the trick.
ATLANTA FALCONS (-3.5) over Cincinnati Bengals
If I told you the Atlanta Falcons were 3-3 or 2-4 and you had no knowledge of their actual record, you would probably believe me. Why is this so? Because they are in the “figuring out” stage. Are they a running team or a throwing team? Are they an offensive team or a defensive team? Can Matt Ryan become a Pro Bowl quarterback? They may not know where they are, but they are definitely better than Cincinnati.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-9) over Jacksonville Jaguars
This line has moved from -4 to -9. If it gets to -13 or -14, I’ll still take the Chiefs.
As is my weekly routine, I must continue to berate Todd Haley for refusing to loosen the leash securely fastened to Jamaal Charles’ neck. One man is singlehandedly handicapping the fantasy potential of millions of teams around the Yahoo and ESPN communities.
Philadelphia Eagles (+3) over TENNESSEE TITANS
When is the last time a quarterback controversy involved two solid QBs? And I’m not talking about a rookie vs. an established veteran battle in which both QBs are understandable choices, but one in which both QBs would start for at least half of the other NFL teams.
If this were any other position, coaches would rejoice. Despite Andy Reid’s lies, which claim that their QB situation is a good one, how does either man not eventually become disgruntled? Kevin Kolb was labeled the preseason starter and has done nothing to lose the job. In fact, he’s played pretty well of late. Michael Vick, on the other hand, was an early season MVP candidate.
This situation will cause locker room issues. Some players will side with Kolb, some with Vick.
Washington Redskins (+3) over CHICAGO BEARS
Chicago suffers from the same identity issue as Atlanta, except to a greater degree. If told you they were 1-5, you would definitely believe me. The demise of Lovie Smith is well under way, especially when there is a Todd Collins sighting.
Imagine the QB controversy if McNabb was still in Philadelphia What if he began the season as the starting QB, but midway through Week 1 he tore his ACL (Especially with McNabb, this is not out of the realm of possibility)? We would be looking at the most complex QB controversy ever.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-13.5) over Cleveland Browns
New Orleans used the underdog card to propel themselves to a Super Bowl. Every Super Bowl team needs an extra motivator to get over the hump. The ’07-’08 Giants had the underdog card. The ’08-’09 Steelers had the potential dynasty card.
Rarely can a team reuse old motivation to fuel another run, but it seems New Orleans is the underdog once again. For no particular reason, everyone picked the Saints to finish behind the Falcons. Because they usually play to the level of the competition, they suffered some early season losses (including one to Atlanta, reaffirming everyone’s pick) that have already pushed them below the radar. Watch out. They are not going to roll over.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (+13) over Buffalo Bills
Nothing like the old “lashing out against an extremely inferior team at home due to a frustrating loss the previous week” factor.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (+3) over San Francisco 49ers
This game can go one of two ways:
1) San Francisco gets another win that sparks a run culminating in a division title.
2) San Francisco loses, ultimately leading to the midseason firing of Mike Singletary and a top 5 pick in the NFL Draft.
The 49ers are coming off an emotionally charged win and are primed for a cross-country letdown. Carolina will get their first and only win of the season.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-3) over St. Louis Rams
Their combined 6-4 record is almost as surprising as the end to season 4 of Dexter (On a side note, how many people were inspired by Dexter Morgan and attempted to emulate his vigilante kills in real life? You cannot tell me that no one at least tried it). I am inclined to think that both teams will fizzle out by season’s end. That said, do not be surprised if by next year they are both surprise playoff teams. They have QBs, defensive pieces and coaches with something to prove.
Arizona Cardinals (+6.5) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
The biggest surprise of the NFL thus far, besides Michael Vick, has to be an undrafted rookie Mormon QB leading the Arizona Cardinals. The second biggest surprise has to be the Seattle Seahawks. They had a general manager blatantly dismantling the team to get younger, a QB who was washed up 3 years ago and a head coach who has already failed miserably in the NFL. In short, they were asking for (and happy with) a 2-14 season.
Obviously that has not happened. As a result, part of me wants to pick Seattle. That and they have alternated wins and losses against the spread the entire season. But patterns do not seem like a good enough reason.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (-3) over New England Patriots
San Francisco and New England have identical cross-country games coming off of an emotional charged win that reek of a letdown. San Diego, it seems, likes to break out just when we write them off. And in case you have not been paying attention to the words of sports writers across the country, they have been written off. Add in their 2-0 home record and New England is walking into a trap game.
DENVER BRONCOS (-8.5) over Oakland Raiders
Neither team is good enough to blow the other out. Denver can call upon the revenge factor after Kyle Orton literally gave the game away by mishandling a poor snap. (Yes, I’m blaming the fumble on Orton. If you watch the replay, he stuck his hand out in plenty of time.
While we can blame the center for a bad snap, quarterbacks are athletes too. They should be able to at least knock the ball in the air towards themselves if they can get a hand on the ball in time, which Orton clearly did.) Eventually the Raiders will put it together because the pieces are relatively there. But until they actually find someone behind center that can throw the ball to the intended target, they are in for a long season.
Minnesota Vikings (+3) over GREEN BAY PACKERS
Minnesota is one of the best teams in the NFL. When they will figure it out for themselves, however, is a completely different story. The fear that the Favre/Moss combo instills garners more respect than it deserves and will allow the true catalyst of the entire team, Adrian Peterson, to get going.
More importantly, what’s the best heckling Green Bay fans can come up with relating to Jenn Sterger? You know they will be chalk full of insults come game day.
New York Giants (+3) over DALLAS COWBOYS
The Giants are an underdog against a team Vegas still thinks will realize its potential. While a Monday Night crowd in Dallas will be louder than most, it will do nothing to solve their on-field issues. But the real problem, as everyone knows, is Wade Phillips. Being a players’ coach in a time of crisis is not the answer.
The Cowboys need someone to answer to. If Miles Austin gets an 80 yard touchdown called back due to offensive pass interference, he needs someone to yell at him on the sideline. A Colonel Sanders lookalike is not the answer.
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