Poor Prognostication: Now on the wrong side of .500
If I can say one thing about myself, it’s that I’m consistent. Unfortunately, that consistency has manifested in picking terribly the last several weeks, tanking my once respectable record down below .500 for the first time this year. Last week’s picks went 2-6-1 (I blame Mike Smith) bringing the overall record to 34-36-2. Ouch. This week, I pick a lot of home favorites *gulp* as the college football season hits its home stretch and the NFL begins its playoff push. Eli thinks I’m still “qualified” to be doing this and that I’m really “smart” but he’s a jerk who uses sarcasti-quotes on people. This is why people like Peyton better, Eli. Picks are in bold.
Nebraska @ Michigan (-3.5)
Michigan is 0-2 when I pick them, so I’ll apologize in advance to my friend who is a Michigan fan, but they can’t possibly lose every time, right? They did fire Rich Rodriguez, after all, right? The Cornhuskers head to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines in a battle to keep pace for the Big Ten title game. Both teams trail Michigan State by one game and both need this victory to stay in the hunt. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson left last week’s game against Illinois with an injured wrist, but he will be playing this week, and maybe they’ll throw less often so he doesn’t throw as many picks as he has been in recent weeks. The quarterbacks for this game, Taylor Martinez for Nebraska and Robinson for Michigan, are very similar in that they are both dangerous runners and okay passers, but in the Big House I see Shoelace making the big play that seals this game. I just hope this time its a big play in Michigan’s favor. Wolverines by 7.
USC @ Oregon (-14.5)
It would be understandable if Oregon were to let off the gas a bit this week after their thumping of Stanford at the Farm last week, but Chip Kelly will have his team focused and everyone enjoys beating USC, so the Ducks will bring their A-game to this one. USC’s athleticism and speed make them a better matchup than Stanford was against the Ducks high-powered offense, but their lack of depth will cause them to fall off towards the end of the game and Oregon will pour it on at home late. Ducks by 20.
Oklahoma (-15.5) @ Baylor
Oklahoma had their hiccup earlier this year already when they lost to Texas Tech. Now is the time for them to make their late season push so they can leap frog everyone and sneak into the BCS title game (they always seem to be in the mix). Leading receiver Ryan Broyles for Oklahoma is out for the rest of the year with a knee injury, so expect Landry Jones to use the third and fourth quarter as practice getting the rest of the receiving corps up to speed on the Sooners high-octane passing attack. Sooners by 28.
Kansas State (+8.5) @ Texas
The Wildcats have won the last three matchups with the Longhorns and look to make it four in a row this weekend. They put an end to their 2-game losing streak last week with a 53-50 4-overtime thriller over Texas A&M. Texas, meanwhile, is coming off their worst offensive performance of the season, a 17-5 loss to Missouri and things don’t seem like they’ll be getting any easier for Texas as they lost playmaker Fozzy Whitaker for the year to a knee injury and are uncertain on the status of their top two running backs, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. Look for Kansas State duel threat quarterback Collin Klein (1504 yards passing, 1009 yards rushing, 34 total touchdowns) to follow up his six-touchdown performance against A&M with another big week, pushing the Wildcats past Texas in Austin. K-State by 10.
Cincinnati @ Baltimore (-7)
If there is a more inconsistent team than the Baltimore Ravens this season, I haven’t seen them. Their tendency to play to the level of their competition has infuriated their fans and prevented them from really running away with their division. If they could play the way they do against the Steelers every single week, there’s no reason this team couldn’t be 9-0 heading into their first matchup against the Bengals. Hopefully, the Ravens come to play against the tied for first place Bengals and not the injured and without their top wide receiver Bengals. Even without Ray Lewis (possibly), I think the defense responds, and Flacco moves the offense just enough to beat the spread. Ravens by 9.
San Diego @ Chicago (-3.5)
The Bears are coming off a huge win against division rival Detroit in which their offense barely had to take the field. The defense intercepted Matt Stafford four times, returned two of them for touchdowns, and Devin Hester for some reason was allowed to field a punt. Guess where San Diego struggles? Throwing interceptions (Philip Rivers leads the league with 15 interceptions) and special teams coverage. Plus, a warm weather team on the road in the cold and windy Soldier Field is never a good bet. Chargers lose their fifth straight. Bears by 10.
Tampa Bay @ Green Bay (-14)
I apologize to the Green Bay defense for picking against them last week. I will not be making that mistake twice. Tampa Bay is playing for its playoff life this week, but they picked the wrong place to need a win. Josh Freeman is second in the league in interceptions with 13 so far, and the Packers defense have been ball hawk extraordinaires this season with 17 interceptions. The Packers offense is averaging 40 points a game at home this season, and Tampa historically struggles in cold weather games. Look for the Packers to roll big on the visiting Bucs. Packers by 20.
Philadelphia @ New York Giants (-5.5)
The Giants get to come home after a disappointing loss to the 49ers last week and face conference rival Philadelphia, who was embarrassed after blowing a fourth quarter lead to Arizona last week. At 3-6, the Eagles playoff hopes are on life support, and the Giants are looking to take control of the NFC East once and for all. Now, it looks like Mike Vick will be out with broken ribs, putting Vince Young, Mr. “Dream Team” himself, into the starters role. Young’s stat line this year so far: 0-for-1, 1 interception. In addition, Jeremy Maclin is also out with a leg injury and Desean Jackson is at odds with coaches and management over his contract. Look for Big Blue to bounce back this week and sweep the Eagles, ending their dream of a playoff run in the process. Giants by 13.
Kansas City @ New England (-14.5)
Speaking of disappointing teams with their backup quarterbacks, the Kansas City Chiefs will head to New England to try and keep up with the high powered Patriots offense with Tyler Palko at quarterback. You may remember Palko from not a whole lot, unless you are a die-hard Pitt Panthers fan because Palko has seen limited time with the first team and has been unremarkable with the time he does have. The Patriots are coming off a huge win in New York against the Jets and they’ll be putting their foot on the gas pedal to keep the momentum going. Expect another stinker on Monday Night Football, but Jaws and Gruden will have plenty of material to talk up Tom Brady no matter the score. Patriots by 30.