Friday, October 17, 2008

NFL Predictions: Week Seven

I'm not sure I'll top my predictive powers last week. Or, more optimistically, I'm starting to get a feel for these teams and what to expect out of them. The one thing that has become clear, though, is that we know more about how bad the bad teams are than how good the good ones are. More about that in the picks . . . .

BUFFALO (-1) over San Diego
Definitely and obviously one of the harder games to pick. If you have money, stay the hell away from it. We know neither of these teams is awful, but we've still no clue at all if either are good. It's pretty amazing, though, how quickly everybody jumped off Buffalo's bandwagon after they were destroyed in Arizona, even though they had the heart-and-soul of that team knocked out of the game. Nobody even bothered to amend their judgment when Arizona proved against Dallas that, at least at home, they're a damn good football team. And yet now, San Diego beats the Retirement Village Patriots, and they're hitting their groove? I'm not so sure. Plus, San Diego was absolutely awful the last time they hit the East Coast. They win this week and I might start getting some confidence in them.

CHICAGO (-3) over Minnesota
Because both of these teams are so delightfully mediocre, I think we have a pretty firm idea of what they're going to be about the rest of the way. They'll play good teams tough, and get beat by inferior teams. And when they play one another, all bets are off. Chicago has to want a little redemption against the Minnesota, after Peterson embarrassed them last year on their home turf. Plus, and it's weird to even think this, Chicago would actually seem to have more offensive efficiency. But, really, who knows. Might be a wonderful 15+ point game for the kickers.

Pittsburgh (-9.5) over CINCINNATI
After spending years watching Bengal football, I know one thing ... the Steelers own the Riverfront. It seems like it's a home away from home for them, in terms of their sheer domination down there. If they were playing any other team, I might go for the underdog -- arguing that there might not be a real sense of immediacy for the Steelers, considering their dominance in that division right now. They hate the Bengals too much, though, to let up. This one gets ugly early. Palmer will be breathing a sigh of relief from the sidelines.

KANSAS CITY (+8) over Tennessee Tenessee (-8) over KANSAS CITY
I just deleted a paragraph about how Tennessee walks all over Kansas City, and will probably regret doing so, but decided that this game kind of screams out as a potential upset. Or at least as a potential scare. Sure, Kansas City has the league's worst rushing defense, but Tennessee's running attack (even w/ Chris Johnson) isn't what it was with Vince Young. And surprisingly enough, the KC secondary isn't half bad: they've only given up five passing TDs so far. Plus, doesn't it just make sense for the another AFC South to give the Colts a chance to rip the stake from their own heart?

I completely forgot last night that Larry Johnson is suspended. No chance in hell they pull this one off without him. Pray for Tony Gonzalez this week.

Dallas (OFF) over ST. LOUIS
The line is turned off here because nobody knows if Romo is going to do his best Steve DeBerg impersonation. Either way, it really shouldn't matter. How hard is it to hand the ball off to Barber and let him wreck havoc? Dump the ball to Witten eight to ten times. Hit T.O. about four to six times. How has this turned into rocket science all of a sudden for the offensive geniuses at Big D? BTW ... the solution to their growing problems with T.O. is clear: hire Charles Haley to scare him straight.

MIAMI (-3) over Baltimore
I'm still not sold on Miami at all, and do not think they'll cause the same kind of problems Indy did last week against Baltimore. Baltimore is 2-3, but their three losses are against three of the best teams in the league (Tennessee, Pittsburgh & Indy). And yet, they still can't score, no matter who they play. Miami, at the very least, has shown some creativity in all of their games. The AFC East's standing really could be pretty interesting by the end of this weekend.

NEW YORK GIANTS (-10.5) over San Francisco
If SF can figure out a way to protect O'Sullivan (which they've not yet shown they're capable of doing), they could make this one interesting. O'Sullivan will make a couple of plays, but he'll make more bad ones. Welcome to 49er football. Let me say something about the Giants. I can't remember if I said it before, but I never once so far have said, "The Giants are the best team in football." In fact, it really kind of infuriated me that people seemed so set in that belief. They may very well get things together, but the only win that really impressed me was against the Redskins. The rest of their games were against the worst of the worst. Eli is still erratic. Plax is a ticking time-bomb. I'm not jumping on the bandwagon of a fluke Super Bowl champion. Just not doing it. But yeah, they should cover this week.

New Orleans (+3) over CAROLINA
I went out of my way to praise Carolina last week, and then they went and looked absolutely awful on the road against Tampa Bay. Now, of course, Tampa Bay is pretty good, but looking that bad is still pretty inexcusable. They're facing a worse defense, but a considerably better offense. New Orleans just seems hungry to me, and not winning in fluky ways. If anything, their losses have been fluky. They just seem more "there" than Carolina right now -- esp. with corp of receivers they have (bolstered even more by Colston's return). I normally do not excuse the lack of a conventional running game, but right now in non-playoff football, it may not matter all that much. (Incidentally, Reggie Bush made me wonder recently why so few teams allow points for kick return TDs. I can see not allowing yardage points -- I was in a league that did that once, and we ended with Dante Hall as the number one WR -- but some kind of reward for kick returns seems fitting, esp. for players like Felix Jones and Bush, who also contribute offensively.)

HOUSTON (-8) over Detroit
Houston may be shit-stained to me, but Detroit is outright shit.

Indianapolis (-1) over GREEN BAY
Indianapolis just knows how to win games even when they're not playing like they'd like. Green Bay, not so much. Green Bay can't do well the one thing Indy can't stop: the run. And Indy's pass defense will burn you if given the chance. Green Bay is just not a tight enough unit to survive Indy's opportunism. They make you pay for your mistakes ... and Green Bay is not yet a mistake-free football team. Indy makes their fair share of mistakes, too, of course, but I've just not seen that killer instinct in the Packers. If anything, I've seen the exact opposite.

OAKLAND (+3) over New York Jets
I've no reason for this pick at all. It just seems like one of those random scores you see, pause a second over, and move on. I mean, really, would it shock if you the Raiders had a random win against Brett Favre? The Jets could win this game by forty, and we still wouldn't know if they're any good. They could lose by ten, and we still wouldn't know if they're bad.

WASHINGTON (-7.5) over Cleveland
I'm not yet ready to concede that Washington is awful after one horrible performance in St. Louis. Really, you're almost invited to overlook the Rams. It's probably bad for the Browns that they beat the Giants so badly last week -- now nobody will be sleeping on them. I'd love to see Cleveland turn it around. Braylon Edwards has been sitting on my bench the past couple of weeks, and I'd love to have cause actually to play him. But, I found their success last week a little dubious. One ... you simply cannot win with that many false-start penalties. Well, they obviously did win, but the football gods will not tolerate it on a regular basis. Two ... for some reason the Giants just stopped using Jacobs, despite the fact he was getting close to six yards a carry against Cleveland's not-so-good run defense. I don't think Zorn will make that mistake with Portis, who has suddenly turned into a fantasy monster. (If I can just get him and Westbrook on the same page, I'll cruise through the rest of my season.)

TAMPA BAY (-10.5) over Seattle
Ugh. Flex scheduling cannot come soon enough. Come on ... I live in the Bay Area, so I get stuck with at least two awful games in the day already. Monday night is ruined by the asshats on ESPN. Sunday night is supposed to be the highlight of my day. Not only will this be an awful game in terms of real football, can you think of a game that has less fantasy implications? Earnest Graham ... Warrick Dunn (maybe) ... Engram ... and who else? Poor Seattle. Maybe you should've kicked the football team out and kept the Sonics.

Denver (+3) over NEW ENGLAND
I reserve the right to change this pick sometime Friday afternoon/evening. I need to check up Denver's injury report. But really, I have a hard time seeing how this isn't kind of a replay of last Sunday's game against the Chargers. Marshall and Royal owners' eyes should be lighting up at the prospect of 40-yard bomb after 40-yard bomb.

Last week: 9-5
Season: 42-43-3