Friday, November 16, 2007

NFL 2007 - Week 11

BUCCANEERS @ Falcons +3

As unthinkable as it would have seemed at the beginning of the season, the Falcons can claw their way back into the NFC South playoff race with a win against Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Falcons haven't really beaten a decent team yet, though. And, with a victory over Atlanta, the Buccaneers would be sitting in the fabled catbird seat. Since Halloween the Falcons have looked sort of like an NFL team; this is the week we all remember, "oh, yeah. The Falcons are bad."

Browns @ RAVENS +3

What a difference a year makes, no? Last year the Ravens had the NFL's second-best record, and the Browns hadn't had a winning season since Tara Reid was hot. Now, barely over halfway into the '07 campaign, Cleveland is favored at Baltimore? The Browns have piled up a few wins against a few not-so-impressive teams, but they surprised and impressed with their showing in Pittsburgh last week, even though they lost.

Still... I'm not convinced that the Browns are ready to wear the big boy pants. If they take care of business in Baltimore, I'll obviously reconsider.

Cardinals @ BENGALS -3

Woof. You've got two teams that are capable of scoring in bunches, but quite frequently don't. I'll hold my nose and take the Bengals, if only because Arizona hasn't been good on the road.

PANTHERS @ Packers -9.5

Did someone just say "good on the road?" The Panthers are 4-1 on the road; apparently nothing could be finer than getting the hell out of Carolina.

And I still don't trust Green Bay, even though there's a distinct possibility that they'll be playing in the Super Bowl this year. The Pack is ranked first in the league in passing... and last in the league in rushing. You can't just keep winning like that. They won't let you play the Vikings every week.

I'm going with the rare "Road Team Will Beat the Spread, But Lose the Game" prediction, normally fraught with peril. I say the Packers win a close one. But I'm picking against the point spread officially, so if the Pack loses I still get to count this one. Follow?

SAINTS @ Texans -1.5

The Saints bandwagon overturned last week with a home loss to the winless Rams. I think that was an anomaly, much like, oh, I don't know... just to pick a random anomaly... Houston's 2-0 start. I know you pick an NFC team on the road against a bye-week-rested AFC team at your own risk, but, I like the Saints.

Chiefs @ COLTS -14.5

Yes, the Colts have fallen back to earth. But hey, you and I both know: those weren't really the Colts. This week they won't have 94 key players out with injuries (maybe just 60 or 70), and Peyton Manning won't throw 6 interceptions. They'll be fine. Against a Chiefs with quarterback Brodie Croyle making his first career start, they'll be fine.

Chargers @ JAGUARS -3

Seriously, Jaguars: make up your minds. Stop teasing us. Either be good or don't. It's too hard to try and pick your games every week. Luckily, the Chargers offense stinks.

RAIDERS @ Vikings -5

Really? The Vikings are going to score five points without Adrian Peterson? How are they going to do it... skeleton power?

(sorry. Needlessly obscure "Simpsons" reference there. When you're a Vikings fan, and you're writing about the 2007 Vikings -- and Adrian Peterson isn't playing -- you've really got to make your own fun. In fact, let's take our minds off of the Vikings by looking at some of the awesome, awesome lists from, shall we?)

DOLPHINS @ Eagles -10

The Eagles have been going lose, win, lose, win, lose, win since Week 2 now. They won last week, but, it's hard to imagine they'll lose to the Dolphins. It's a little easier to imagine they'll beat them by 11 or more, but, not much easier. Dare I make two " Road Team Will Beat the Spread, But Lose the Game" picks in one week? I do.

Giants @ LIONS +3

One of these 6-3 teams isn't for real. This game should help clarify that.

Here's what the Giants have done in the Tom Coughlin era:

2004 - Started 5-2, finished 6-10.

2005 - Went 11-5, okay, fine; but lost 23-0 at home in their first playoff game.

2006 - Started 6-2, finished 8-8.

2007 - Started 6-2, finished... ? .

This, my friends, is more than a pattern; it's a way of life. The Giants, it could be said, are the new Vikings (6-0 to 9-7 in '03; 4-1 to 8-8 in '04; 4-2 to 6-10 in '06). And the Vikings are, like, the new getting punched in the balls.

Also, the Lions have been good-slash-excellent at home this season. And they're three-point underdogs in Detroit?

STEELERS @ Jets +9.5

The Jets just haven't been losing by much, have they? Still... you kind of feel like that gutty Steelers win over Cleveland last week is the sort of game after which at elite team (like, say, the Steelers) goes out and just lays waste to its next opponent. And, really, in the grand scheme of things, who ever went broke picking against the Jets?

REDSKINS @ Cowboys -10.5

Oh, dear. The Cowboys are the class of the NFC, certainly. They've just finished up beating two division foes, decisively, on the road. But this line is too high, this game is too important to the Redskins' playoff chances, and Tony Romo is too capable of turning back into a toad for three hours on any given Sunday. It kills me, but, I feel like I've got to take the Redskins.

Rams @ 49ERS +3

The 49ers are just terrible, aren't they? I mean, so are the Rams, but, the 49ers... pew. And Alex Smith is now out at quarterback, and while he hasn't been great, I don't think there's exists a scenario outside of someone being held captive and threatened with death by torture unless they can produce, within the hour, a balding 6'4" man who went to Fresno State in which anyone might possibly ever utter the words "Thank God Trent Dilfer's here!"

That was a long way to go for a joke, I know, and you'll probably respect me even less when you notice that I have, in fact, actually picked the 49ers. The Rams are averaging 15 points a game, folks. Under 12.5 you don't count last week, when they accidentally won in New Orleans. If the 49ers lose this one bad, I'll never pick them again. That's my promise to you.

Bears @ SEAHAWKS -5.5

Speaking of things you'd never think anyone would ever say as far as NFL quarterbacks go: "Oh, no! Brian Griese is injured! Now we'll have to settle for the guy who quarterbacked us into the Super Bowl last season."

It seems like Devin Hester gives the Bears a puncher's chance in any game, but I'll assume the 24-0 Monday night thrashing of San Francisco gave the Seahawks some momentum they'll be able to build on this week.

PATRIOTS @ Bills +16

The Bills are on a nice little four game winning streak (against sub-par teams, but, a winning streak is a winning streak), and I don't think it's inevitable that they'll simply consent to being embarrassed by the Patriots. I think they'll put up some semblance of a fight. That said, the Patriots are just so, so good, and this could end up being a 20-point game while still seeming closer than that. I was all set to pick against the Patriots, but, I just can't. Damn it. I really want to, too.

TITANS @ Broncos -2

It comes down to this: was Tennesee's ugly home loss to Jacksonville on Sunday a hiccup, or a sign of things to come? I'll go with hiccup. And the Broncos still aren't good.

BUCCANEERS @ Falcons +3
SAINTS @ Texans -1.5
RAIDERS @ Vikings -5
Giants @ LIONS +3
TITANS @ Broncos -2

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