Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NFL Picks, Week 8: Knee Deep In The Grind

There's no better time for a sports fan than mid-October. You've got the World Series, the NFL, college football, the start of the NHL and NBA seasons, and cheerleaders in fetishistic costumes. It is, I am convinced, the only thing that keeps people from completely freaking out over political stuff.

It's also a pure grind time for blogging, because here I am, post midnight again, with (many) paragraphs to go before I sleep. Last week, we continued to pay the rent and do noble work with an 8-6 week, lifting us to 14 games over even money. Just call me Shooter Knish. And now, on to the picks!

TAMPA at Dallas (-2)

Two forces at work here -- Tampa not being worth a bucket of warm spit on the road, against a cratering Dallas team. Subplots here include The Brad Johnson Vengeance Game, Jeff Garcia's historic pwning of the Cowboys, and the sudden and shocking collapse of the Dallas defense. There's also the additional worry that Warrick Dunn, the Bucs' most effective RB this year (and who saw that coming?), could miss the game. But given the Cowboys injuries, I don't think it's going to matter... and since I'm picking an NFC South team on the road, bet the farm the other way. I hate this division.

Bucs 24, Cowboys 16

WASHINGTON at Detroit (+7.5)

Detroit actually got a road cover last week against Houston, while the Redskins struggled mightily against the Browns at home, finally holding on for an ugly win. Can the Lions actually break through against a 'Skins team that really hasn't played a good game since beating the Eagles, and that was a while ago. Can they possibly get the upset? No... and I kind of hate picking the Lions to cover, too. The Washington defense doesn't score or get a lot of turnovers, but the friskiness the Lions showed was against the godawful Texans' defense. Washington is better than that.

Redskins 24, Lions 16

BUFFALO at Miami (+1)

The 5-1 Bills go to Miami to face the puzzling Fish, who followed up back to back wins over New England and San Diego with back to back losses to Houston and Baltimore. Which team shows up in this one? The losing one, because they can't defend Lee Evans, and when you can't do that, Marshawn Lynch kills you.

Buffalo 24, Miami 17

ST. LOUIS at New England (-7.0)

After back to back wins over the once-mighty NFC East, the Rams go on the road to New England, where the Patriots took advantage of an awful Broncos performance to make them feel much better about themselves. Make no mistake -- the Rams aren't a good team -- but I'm thinking the short week, absence of Rodney Harrison, and the Rams taking a little bit better control of the ball will help them get to the cover. Watch for rookie Rams WR Donnie Avery to do some damage here against the suspect Pats' secondary, but only if the Rams can keep fragile QB Marc Bulger upright. If franchise RB Stephen Jackson can play, I think they'll do just that.

Patriots 20, Rams 17

SAN DIEGO "at" New Orleans (+3), in London

Two wildly disappointing teams that both need the win badly. The Chargers slept their way through a power-free game in Buffalo, and it says something to how depressed Charger Fan is about the sudden deterioration of LaDanian Tomlinson that there isn't even a movement to fire Nor Turner. The Saints looked to be getting back on track with healthy star pass catchers Jeremy Shockey and Marques Colston getting back last week in Carolina... only to see the former get hurt and the latter provide nothing. One crush job later, they're in the muck.

So who the hell wins this thing? I'm going with the Chargers, just because with Reggie Bush on the shelf, I think Drew Brees is finally starting to run out of people to throw the ball to. Plus, the last time the NFL inflicted a game on us from Wembley Stadium, it was a slow dog track, and that helps the Chargers more than it does the Saints. But don't be fooled, fellow degenerates -- this is a pure Stay The Hell Away Game.

Chargers 23, Saints 17

Kansas City at NY JETS (-13)

The last of the Good Time Games for the NY Bretts, who should run for over 200 yards and have wacky fun times against the I-AA Chiefs. The only way New York doesn't win this game is if they're dumb enough to throw the ball, and if Favre is dumb enough to throw picks. Even if that happens, Kansas City will be without noted piece of crap Larry Johnson, and probably working with QB3 Tyler Thigpen. Woof.

Jets 31, Chiefs 14

ATLANTA at Philadelphia (-9)

I've lost enough picks on this Falcons' team to even think about a big number here. Sure, the Eagles will get their points, but it's not as if Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood will be completely stopped, and while Matt Ryan might make some bad mistakes against those ever-exotic Eagle blitzes, he's done too much against other defenses to expect him to deliver the Full Hoying. Besides, the Eagles are good at keeping teams around, especially since David Akers can't make any field goal from distance.

Eagles 28, Falcons 20

ARIZONA at Carolina (-4)

Do you believe in the West Coast team with the 1pm EST start time curse? The evidence is all that way now, and after Carolina spanked the Saints at home, you'd be foolish to go with the road team... but the Cardinals are off the bye, they get back Anquan Boldin this week, Steve Breaston's looked good as well... and for heaven's sake, the Panthers are incredibly erratic in their own right. As Groucho Marx says in "Horse Feathers," I have to stay here, but there's no reason you have to.

Cardinals 27, Panthers 24

Oakland at BALTIMORE (-7.5)

The Raiders come west for... a 1pm kickoff! Against a Ravens team that rediscovered the running game last week, against an Oakland defense that gave up 200 yards on the ground while *winning*. Hard to do, Harry. Look for Baltimore to use Willis McGahee early and often, and for their defense to put points on the board directly late. If I were so moved to make Locks of the Week, this would be the game. That's just how very, very stupid the Raiders coaching is, and how little chance they've got on the road against a good and aggressive defense.

Ravens 24, Raiders 10

CINCINNATI at Houston (-9.5)

Ryan Fitzpatrick! Cedric Benson! And a surprisingly competent defense, all leading to a team that keeps covering, except when they really, really don't, like they did last week at home against Pittsburgh. I'm actually looking for them to cover this number, as Houston kept even the Lions around last week, and really can't defend the pass. If the home team isn't careful, they could even lose this game. But they won't, because when the chips are down, the Bengals will remember that they really, really want to get Marvin Lewis fired.

Texans 31, Bengals 27

Cleveland at JACKSONVILLE (-7)

Shh... the Jaguars are starting to look like themselves again, and they are at home off the bye. Against a Browns team that had its moment in the sun against the Giants, I'm thinking they'll run early and often. It also doesn't hurt matters at all that David Garrard is starting to look much more like his Expert Game Manager Self. Finally, they lost Matt Jones this week to a league-mandated suspension for off-season cocaine stupidity. Given tht Matt Jones is a moron and not very productive, look for a surge from the team from his absence.

Jaguars 23, Browns 13

NY Giants at PITTSBURGH (-3)

Not a good matchup at all for the road team. They don't get to the quarterback very well, which is deadly against Big Ben. By not getting to him enough, they also open up Heath Miller as a target, adding to the matchup troubles. What they do best on offense is wear teams down with the running game; that doesn't usually work against the Steelers, especially on the road. Finally, the Pittsburgh home crowd is loud and proud, and I've never really bought into the idea that the Giants were Mystic Road Warriors. Should be a good and tight game, but I like the home team here.

Steelers 24, Giants 20

Seattle at SAN FRANCISCO (-5)

There's no truth to the rumor that watching this game counts as time served or community service. But maybe it should be. Do you pick the gutless team that never shows up on the road and has no QB, or the turnover machine QB with the rookie head coach and the questionable talent level? I'm going with the latter, under the Jim Haslett theory that when you have a bad team that's quit on its coach, they're going to have a brief burst of professionalism to impress the new guy.

Niners 23, Seahawks 16

Indianapolis at TENNESSEE (-4)

Perhaps the week's most intriguing game, as the last unbeaten team is at home for the fading power in the division. The Colts looked like they had righted the ship after a trashing of the Ravens, then soiled the sheets on the road in Green Bay. Tennessee played happy bully against the I-AA Chiefs.

I've held a light in the candle for this Colts team for a long time this year, but the simple fact is that only the Ravens game counts as a quality win rather than an escape. They don't scare anyone without Bob Sanders on defense, their running game hasn't been good all year, and so long as they keep trying to pretend that Marvin Harrison is better than Anthony Gonzalez... well, it's not going to work out for them. This game won't, either.

Titans 24, Colts 17

Last week: 8-6

Year to date: 55-41-2


CMJDad said...

Why? Why oh why did you pick my Steelers? You know I hate when you do that. You are The kiss of death.

Tracer Bullet said...

The Eagles run defense is lousy because of the offense. The team is built for the offense to score a bunch of points and make the opposition one dimensional so the defense can rush the passer. When the offense doesn't score, the defense can't stop the run consistently.

DMtShooter said...

I picked the Steelers because they're going to win. The fact that since the pick was made, Santonio Holmes went wacky weed, and Willie Parker continued to wuss out... means nothing!

As for the Eagle run defense... why not blame the weather, Andy Reid's kids, the move to the Linc, or how WIP talk radio destroys the brain cells required to fight off a tun block? You're paid to stop the offense. Do it.

CMJDad said...

Uh huh, The kiss of death (you!) strikes again. Do me a favor and pick against the Steelers EVERY DAMN WEEK.

mberenis said...

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