To date, I’ve been picking games at a 62% clip on the season. Not bad, not great. It’s enough to come out ahead, but not enough to bet the farm. Still, now that I know how I’ve been doing, I want to do better. It’s that always the way that it is.
This is going to be an interesting week. I’ve established some patterns this year which I may need to go against if I am to be successful this week. I’m still conflicted about whether or not to pick the Steelers over the Broncos. My head and my heart suggest that I should pick the Steelers. I know they’re better than the Broncos – but they’re playing so poorly that only Houston and Miami trail them in the AFC. The Steelers are 14th in the conference. That’s fugly.
I’ve been wrestling with the NFC North and the AFC East all year long. The Buffalo Bills are killing me. One week they beat the Vikings…the next week they lose to the Lions. Impossible. I’m going back to the ROOTS. Picking from the gut – and not trying to be too smart. Here we go!!
NFL Lines For Week 9 – NFL Football Line Week Nine
NFL Game Lines 11/5 & 11/6, 2006
|Date & Time||Favorite||Line||Underdog||Total|
|11/5 1:00 ET||At St. Louis||-2.5||Kansas City||48|
|11/5 1:00 ET||At Baltimore||-3||Cincinnati||41.5|
|11/5 1:00 ET||At NY Giants||-13||Houston||43|
|11/5 1:00 ET||At Jacksonville||-9.5||Tennessee||37.5|
|11/5 1:00 ET||Dallas||-3||At Washington||42|
|11/5 1:00 ET||At Buffalo||-3||Green Bay||40.5|
|11/5 1:00 ET||New Orleans||-1||At Tampa Bay||38.5|
|11/5 1:00 ET||Atlanta||-5.5||At Detroit||47|
|11/5 1:00 ET||At Chicago||-13.5||Miami||37.5|
|11/5 4:05 ET||Minnesota||-5||At San Francisco||42.5|
|11/5 4:15 ET||At San Diego||-12.5||Cleveland||41|
|11/5 4:15 ET||At Pittsburgh||-3||Denver||36.5|
|11/5 8:15 ET||At New England||-3||Indianapolis|
Monday Night Football Line
|11/6 8:30 ET||At Seattle||-7.5||Oakland||37|
Up first…the team I love to hate: the St.Louis Rams. I hate the Rams because they hired Mike Martz and because Martz ran the team like a lunatic. He ruined my FFL chances by “defending” RB Stephen Jackson the way Dean Smith once “defended” Michael Jordan. Limited touches = Limited success. Of course, now that the Rams have banished S-Martz to the NFL hinterlands (Detroit), Jackson is getting more touches and being more productive. But this week, the Rams face a team that is totally committed to the run. I like Larry Johnson and the Chiefs to continue what they’ve started over the past two weeks. Big wins over the Chargers and Seahawks have the Chiefs in prime position to make some hay in the AFC. Since this game is “on the road” in St. Louis and bragging rights are at stake, both teams should be sharp. I going with the Chiefs. I think Ty Law knows a little bit about defending the Rams (2 SB picks). And, I think LJ knows a little bit about bludgeoning a weak defense. Damon Huard has to get the job done. Kansas City 40, St. Louis 31.
The inconsistency of the Bengals has been killing my picks. I was surprised that they weren’t able to pull it out against the Falcons – but I’m not a believer precisely because I was so shocked they were able to pull it out against the Panthers. The Bengals are not performing like a well-oiled machine and a road trip to Baltimore is no place to get healthy. These teams know one another intimately and “Ocho Cinco” did some smack-talking to Ray Ray. It was all in love – and that’s a good thing. If you can’t talk smack about your boys, it’s not a game anymore – and this should be some game. The Ravens were lit up late in the game by Colston and Horn last week. If Palmer is better than Brees and CJ, TJ and Chris “Don’t Lock Me Up – Again” Henry are better than the Saints corp, the Ravens should be twisting in the wind. Steve Smith had a field day in Baltimore. That said – I don’t see Rudi Johnson (the real key to the Bengal offense) having much more than 80 yards – unless the Bengals throw to set up the run. Sunday would be a great time to start out with 4 wide – and run short crossing routes for a quarter or so…4 yards here, 3 yards there…Rudi up the middle on 3rd and short…Double moves in the second and third quarter – and boom. Not gonna happen. Baltimore 20, Cincinnati 19.
The G-men have it all right where they want it – don’t they. Isn’t this the typical lay an egg game for the Giants? Of course it is. Here in New York, many fans I’ve spoken with are nervous because the table is set for this TRAP GAME. Tiki and Company are on a mission, though. I think the Texans already opened their mystery cup when they surprised the Jaguars 27-7. That shocker resulted in Byron Leftwich losing his gig. It could also result in a very prepared Giants team seeking to leave no stone unturned and no QB unsacked. Interestingly enough, the Texans have scored some points this season…27 against the Jags, 22 in a loss to the Titans, and 24 in a loss to the Colts – but they’ve been crushed by their NFC East opponents. Expect more of the same from the class of the division. New York 40, Houston 10.
The Jaguars are at home against the Titans and favored by 9.5. I don’t this happening with David Garrard at QB. I really like Garrard, but the Jags don’t put up points when he plays – they just win. I like the Titans to cover, but be overwhelmed on the road. Too much Fred Taylor, too much Maurice Jones-Drew. 50 rush attempts = Jags win. Jacksonville 21, Tennessee 10.
The resurgent Cowboys are headed to Washington (or Landover) to take on the Foreskins led by Tony Romo. Dallas hasn’t been the most consistent team in the league this year, but it’s hard to imagine a team that beat the Panthers on the road losing to Washington anywhere. They could play this game in Afghanistan with the Cowboys wearing Taliban jocks and they’d still win. Sure, it’s a rivalry game, but these guys barely know each other. There are no beefs here. Romo’s quick release and Santana Moss riding the pine. Dallas 33, Washington 15.
Rich Stadium – my prognostication House of Horrors. Another NFC North team on the road. Bills destroyed by Bills, defeated by Lions. W at home over Minnesota. I’m going with the Bills to pull it out over the Packers. That place should be rocking. I don’t the last time the Packers played in Green Bay. It will be Brett Favre’s last game in that stadium. The Bills should be ready to rock and roll because their coach, Dick Jauron used to coach the Bears and play the Packers two times a year. The Bills have to stop Ahman Green – but they can play with 8 in the box because their corners can run like the wind. I’ll take the Bills to cover. Buffalo 24, Green Bay 14.
New Orleans and Tampa is a tough game for me to pick because I’ve ridden the recent hot streaks of both of these teams – but they both lost last week. I think the Saints can score points wherever they go and were a bit shell shocked last week against the Ravens. They’ve already beaten the Bucs so this game is critical…but the funny thing about this division is that teams have a tendency to lose two games in the division. The Bucs used to beat Atlanta twice a year with regularity. The Falcons used to beat the Panthers twice – and everyone beat the Saints twice. I think the Saints can do it again. New Orleans 17, Tampa Bay 7.
The red-hot Falcons are going to Detroit. Do they still play football in Detroit? The funny thing about the Lions is that every year, around this time of year, they play a great game. I don’t know if it will be this week, but the table is set. Roy Williams could have a big day because as good as DeAngelo Hall is, he can’t cover Roy. Besides, I’m sure Jon Kitna was able to get his hands on some really good film and scouting reports from the Falcons last game against the Bengals. I’m looking at Rod Marinelli (former Bucs LB coach) to conjure up some magic containment with his backers, but the Lions are going without Shaun ‘Roid Rogers. Close game. Even Vegas has the Falcons as less than a 7 point favorite. Atlanta 28, Detroit 23.
The Bears at home are brutal. Chicago 40, Miami 13.
I like the 49ers to beat the Vikings. Frank Gore has gotten his yards against almost team the Niners have played. That means you San Diego. Alex Smith has to use that Tom Brady script from last week to get it going. What could be better than watching your upcoming opponent lose a blueprint game on Monday night? If the 49ers are going to pull a shocker this year, this is it. San Francisco 20, Minnesota 10.
The Chargers have really been putting some serious points on the board. The Browns have been performing much better than anticipated. The problem is that I don’t expect the Browns to rock and roll on the road. I like the explosive Chargers to cover. San Diego 31, Cleveland 14.
What to do, what to do? The Steelers are playing the Broncos at Heinz Field. Believe it or not, the Steelers (14th ranked in the conference ahead of only Houston and Miami) is a 3 point favorite. I’m going to do something I haven’t done in years…I’m picking against the Steelers playing at home in a non-playoff game. We all know about the franchises’ recent difficulties playing in the playoffs at home: San Diego, Denver, New England. Argghh!!!! Denver won’t be able to run or throw but they’ll find a way to win – or rather the Steelers will find a way to lose. 2-6. Season over. Denver 13, Pittsburgh 6.
Who’s the best? Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? It doesn’t really matter. They’re both awesome. ESPN’s Michael Smith wrote a column arguing that at the end of their careers, we’ll agree that these two were the best QBs of all time. I won’t be in that group. It would take a good deal more than I’ve seen to date for me to put them ahead of Montana and Elway. As far as passers go, Manning won’t ever eclipse Marino, Fouts and Moon. He’s right there with them, but he won’t go to the head of the class because these four guys threw the best balls I’ve ever seen. That’s a group you can join, but not a group you can outdo. Enough about that…Patriots get 30+ carries and about 145 on the ground…Manning throws 1 or 2 picks, take 3 or 4 sacks (Hello World! My name is Jarvis Green.) New England 31, Indianapolis 27.
Since the Raiders beat my Steelers, I really can’t do any Raider games this year. Seattle 23, Oakland 10.
There…that’s the week that will be. How about that Michigan State free fall? It’s a beautiful thing!