Poor Prognostication: Presented by Wile E. Coyote!
Wile E. Coyote and I have a shared experience. Much like in every one of those old Looney Tunes cartoons where Wile E. Coyote would chase the Roadrunner and inevitably fall off the cliff over and over, I have once again run straight off that cliff. Last week was the second straight brutal effort on my part, going 2-7 on picks and rapidly catching my losses up to my wins in the overall record, which now stands at 25-19-1. This week, I would settle for just having an old-timey bomb blow up in my face or run into a wall that I painted a tunnel onto. Bob Costas is very concerned with the way these picks have turned, so I’m going to try to turn it around this week. For Bob! Picks are in bold.
Michigan State (+4) @ Nebraska
Michigan State is on a roll right now. Beating Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin their last three games, they look to keep rolling against their third straight top-15 opponent. The Spartans bring a balanced attack to Lincoln, where the Cornhuskers fell behind a struggling Ohio State team before eventually making a huge comeback in the 4th quarter. The Huskers need the win to keep pace with the Spartans in the Legends Division race, but Michigan State marks only the second ranked opponent Bo Pelini’s squad has faced this season. That opponent: Wisconsin, who rolled Nebraska 48-17. Sparty pulls the upset on the road and all but locks up a spot in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game. Michigan State by 10.
Stanford (-7.5) @ USC
USC is feeling pretty good about themselves after last week’s win in South Bend, but they are not in Stanford’s league right now. Andrew Luck, future Colt or Dolphin, has been lighting up opposing defenses, ranking fifth in quarterback rating at 180.0 and eighth in touchdown passes with 20. Stanford is off to it’s best start since 1951, and they’ve discovered another facet to their offense; a running game that racked up 446 yards last week in a 65-21 rout of Washington allowing Luck to just sit back and watch. The Cardinal rank 2nd in points scored (48.6) while being 4th in points allowed (12.6). In short, the Pac-12 is a two-school race, and the other school is not USC. Stanford by 20.
Oklahoma @ Kansas State (+13.5)
The Wildcats have started the season red-hot, and now look to finish it strong. Standing in their way of that is an Oklahoma Sooner squad who watched their perfect season slip away last week against Texas Tech. They’ll be looking to use their high powered offense to prevent a two-game slide and fall further out of the BCS race. Kansas State has used a powerful rushing attack, averaging over 200 yards per game, to fuel their success this season. Oklahoma’s run defense has been it’s weak point in recent weeks, giving up 264 yards rushing over the last two games, and Texas Tech raked up 572 total last week. The Wildcats will use their running game to control the clock and keep the Sooners high octane passing offense on the sidelines, keeping the game close. Oklahoma wins by 4.
Georgia (-3) @ Florida
Florida hasn’t been able to do anything of late and their team is beat up after facing a tough gauntlet of games (Alabama, @LSU, @Auburn) and now have to try and rally the team for their annual rivalry game with the Bulldogs. Florida will get its starting quarterback John Brantley back for the first time since the Alabama loss, so expect the rust to show and the offense to only get momentary flashes of life throughout the game. Being a rivalry, it will undoubtedly be close, especially since Florida has owned Georgia in recent years. Last year, the Gators snapped a 3-game losing streak against Georgia, but this year will be a different story and the Gators slide will continue to four games. Georgia by 4.
New Orleans (-13.5) @ St. Louis
The Saints get back to back winless teams in a dome, which seems unfair. The Rams defense might be even worse than the Colts one that gave up 62 points to Drew Brees and company, so expect the Saints’ punter to have a quiet night. The Rams turn to backup Jay Feeley for the second straight week as Sam Bradford continues to recover from a high ankle sprain. My condolences to anyone playing against Drew Brees in fantasy this week. New Orleans by a hundred.
Detroit (-3) @ Denver
The Lions are on a 2-game losing streak, falling to 49ers and Falcons in close contests. Expect Denver to get the resulting anger that comes from back-to-back losses at home. The Lions defense is not the Dolphins defense, and the Dolphins defense sacked Tim Tebow 7 times last week before letting him out of the bottle to work his 4th quarter magic. The Lions will take advantage of the Tebow’s miscues passing and Ndamukong Suh is going to set up a permanent residence in the Broncos backfield. Matthew Stafford appears like he’s going to play, so look for him to take advantage of the struggling Denver secondary. Lions by 14.
New England (-3) @ Pittsburgh
The last time these two teams met, Tom Brady put on a passing clinic and the Patriots whipped the Steelers in a game that was over by halftime. Since then, the Patriots have added more weapons on offense, figured out they can use both of their dynamic tight ends at the same time, and somehow made it so nobody ever covers Wes Welker. On the Pittsburgh side, they’re pretty much the same squad, minus Jerome Harrison. Look for a Brady clinic, part 2, but for a closer game because of the Patriots inability to defend the pass. Pats by 6.
Dallas @ Philadelphia (-3)
Neither team has played up to expectation so far this season, but the Eagles are coming off a big win over Washington before their bye week and the Cowboys will have an inflated sense of worth after their scrimmage against the Rams. Andy Reid is 12-0 after the bye as head coach of the Eagles, and Philadelphia seems to be figuring out the pieces they have on offense and defense. Look for them to put together a solid game, DeSean Jackson to make a big play that breaks it open, and Tony Romo to make a back breaking mistake. Eagles by 10.
San Diego (-3.5) @ Kansas City
While I am not impressed by San Diego’s 4-2 record, I am even less impressed with the Chiefs 3-3 record. The Chiefs will say their turnaround came after Coach Todd Haley showed them inspiring footage of the ’89 Steelers, but the turnaround is really thanks to playing Minnesota with a hapless McNabb, the Colts with a hapless everything, and Oakland with the albatross of Kyle Boller hanging around their necks. If it hadn’t been for Boller and then Carson Palmer’s Boller-impression, Matt Cassel and his terrible game and two interceptions probably would have cost the Chiefs the game. The Chargers wins are not any more impressive, but they’ve found ways to beat bad teams, and the Chiefs have been preeetty bad this season. Chargers by 9.