Poor prognostication: Back to middling!
After back to back weeks of disastrous picks, it’s time to celebrate the little victories. Last week, I was one New Orleans collapse away from picking over .500, but since Tony LaRussa had to show up and inspire another incredible underdog performance, I finished 4-5 for the week, bringing the overall picks to 29-24-1 for the year. 4-5 isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly better than another 2-7 week. Remember when I was good at this? Oh well, onward and upward this week. Mike Tomlin is willing to celebrate my moral victory with me, so should you. Picks are in bold.
Kansas State @ Oklahoma State (-21)
Does everyone remember when Kansas State played another high octane passing offense last week? That’s right, they got trounced by Oklahoma and gave up almost 700 yards of offense, including 505 to Sooners quarterback Landry Jones. This week, the Wildcats get the in-state counterparts of Oklahoma, who may be right on par with them offensively. Kansas State was exposed last week and Oklahoma State is going to use that as the blue print to go wild in Stillwater. Cowboys by 30.
Oregon (-16.5) @ Washington
Washington is an improved team over what it has been the last couple of years, but they aren’t yet on the level of the Pac-12′s top teams, which includes Oregon. The Ducks get healthier this week as quarterback Darron Thomas and LeMichael James return to the lineup and hope to continue the Ducks winning ways against the Huskies. Oregon has beaten Washington seven straight years, averaging a 26.4 margin of victory. The Huskies have been blown out already twice by good teams this season (Nebraska and Stanford) and don’t have the weapons to contain Oregon’s blur offense. Ducks by 28.
Michigan (-3.5) @ Iowa
The Wolverines have lost three straight to the Hawkeyes, but this is a different team than ones under Rich Rodriguez. Mainly, because they’re playing a little bit of defense this year. The defense last season was ranked an abysmal 110th in yards allowed, but this year under first year coach Brady Hoke sit at a respectable 35th in yards allowed. In addition, the Wolverine defense is giving up 20 fewer points per game. Denard Robinson has certainly helped as well, averaging 300 yards of offense per game, and leading the 9th ranked rushing attack in the country. Michigan breaks the streak against Iowa and keeps pace in the race for a conference title. Wolverines by 10.
LSU (+4.5) @ Alabama
I’m pretty sure they’re handing out the BCS trophy at the end of this game, right? Is that what everyone has decided? This is by far the marquee matchup of the weekend and quite possible the year. LSU and Alabama have been playing phenomenal defense while destroying their opponents. Alabama may have a bit of trouble with the speed that goes with LSU’s size and strength, but I feel like Saban will make the adjustments to put the clamps down on the Tiger offense. Either way, this game feels like it will be close and decided by a field goal towards the end, and I’m picking the home team to kick it. Tide rolls by 3.
New York Jets @ Buffalo (-2)
Who would have thought this would be a game with implications for the AFC East race for both teams? The Bills have surprised everyone this year, going 5-2 and sitting in first place in the division. The Jets sit at 4-3 and just want to keep pace with the Pats and Bills. Unfortunately for Sanchez and company, this game is in Buffalo, where the Bills are 4-0 this year. Not helping matters, the Jets are 0-3 on the road and Ralph Wilson is going to be a madhouse this Sunday. Bills stay perfect at home and hold onto first place for another week. Bills by 4.
New York Giants @ New England (-9)
Last week, the Patriots got humbled on their trip to Pittsburgh and suddenly they aren’t considered an elite team anymore. I can’t imagine how mad that’s going to make the Patriots and Bill Belichick, who are not known for their good sportsmanship when it comes to running up scores. The Giants secondary has been decimated by injuries all year long, and the Patriots passing attack is going to go to the next level this week to make sure nobody forgets Tom Brady and the Pats are still a threat. This will be a shootout, but injuries to Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw, and center David Baas will throw enough speed bumps in the Giants offense to allow the Pats to put some distance between them in this game. Patriots by 14.
Green Bay (-5.5) @ San Diego
Green Bay is the last perfect team in the NFL right now, and Aaron Rodgers has been amazing. Coming off a bye week, the team will be at 100% and have had plenty of time to dissect this Chargers defense that couldn’t contain Matt Cassel last week. Rivers will come out wanting to prove last week was a fluke and move past the fumbled snap at the end of the game, but that will just lead to more pressing and bad decisions against a very good Packer defense. I look for Rivers to add to his 11 interceptions on the season and Aaron Rodgers to continue to lead a potent Packer offense to another victory. Packers by 17.
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (-3)
This will be quite a dog fight on Sunday night. These two teams have an intense hatred for each other and they always play a brutal and physical game that is closely contested…except for Week 1 this season. However, these don’t feel like the same teams that squared off to start the season. Baltimore is coming off a Monday night loss to Jacksonville two weeks ago and they had to rally from 21-points down to beat the Arizona Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Steelers are coming off a dominant 25-17 win over the Patriots in which the score is not indicative of the competitiveness of the game. Right now, it seems that the Steelers are figuring it out and trending up, while the Ravens are floundering a little bit and need to rediscover themselves. Will it happen this week? I don’t think so. Steelers by 7.
Chicago @ Philadelphia (-7.5)
Last week, everyone finally got to see the kind of team that the Eagles were supposed to be this season as they gave the Dallas Cowboys a beating that they won’t soon forget. Chicago has won two straight and is coming off a bye, but this is not a good matchup for them. Their cover two scheme relies on keeping their safeties deeper than the deepest man, and with DeSean Jackson on the Eagles, that means the Bears safeties will have to be veery deep. That will open up underneath routes for one of the Eagles other weapons, like Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Brent Celek, or LeSean McCoy. The Bears won’t be able to generate enough pressure to keep Michael Vick from carving up their secondary and the Eagles will put up major yards and a lot of points. Couple that with the Eagles aggressive defense and talented secondary, and Jay Cutler’s history of throwing to the wrong team on nationally televised games, and it spells disaster for Chicago. Eagles by 17.
As always, tell me how your picks are doing, who you’re taking this weekend, or where you think I’m completely off base in the comments. Happy football!