This week, it's all business. No foolish statements like "The Titans are too good to be 0-4" or "Chad Henne is perhaps the worst quarterback to step on the field."
Though the final damage (6-8) wasn't awful, that's only due to a couple of nail-biting covers on Sunday and Monday night.
This week, it's all or nothing. It's time to achieve the impossible. It's time for a perfect week.
Though on second thought, I'll probably maintain my stance on Henne.
(Home team in caps.)
Minnesota (-10) over ST. LOUIS
The Vikings are firing on all cylinders right now, and it'll take more than an 0-4 Rams team that has been outscored 108-24 and has given up an average of 135 rushing yards per game to slow them down. Brett Favre's shoulder is likely a little sore after the aerial assault on Monday (he's old), so be prepared for an "are you kidding me?" game from Adrian Peterson.
BALTIMORE (-8.5) over Cincinnati
Without totally going off the wall here … these Ravens are mad. Really mad.
They played well enough to win last week, but they didn't. The Bengals played well enough to lose, but they didn't. Apparently, this kick was good.
Baltimore ranks third in offense and eighth in defense. And they're mad.
Washington (+3.5) over CAROLINA
Oh. Really? This one's going to happen? Just don't make me watch.
Washington inspires 2 percent of my confidence, compared to Carolina's .783 percent confidence rating. The Panthers are riding the momentum of not losing last week (it was their bye). At least the Skins are coming off an impressive second half.
(And so ends my goal of refraining from foolish statements.)
Pittsburgh (-10.5) over DETROIT
I almost liked Detroit to keep this one within 10 at home, but Matthew Stafford's questionable status and Rashard Mendenhall's potential to tear through the NFL's 20th-best rushing defense (the mighty Lions are surrendering 5.2 yards per carry) have me thinking the champs can cover.
KANSAS CITY (+8) over Dallas
I keep picking the Chiefs, and I keep getting burned. So I've learned my lesson, right? Well …
Dallas is 2-6 against the spread in their last eight road games. The Chiefs have a mediocre running game (101.5 yards per game), but their biggest weakness (145 passing yards per game) matches up directly with Dallas' biggest weakness (256 passing yards allowed per game). Plus, well, it just makes Sundays more fun when you can root against the Cowboys.
(Regardless of the outcome of this one, the majority of America wins by getting the unique opportunity to watch this game in its entirety.)
Oakland (+15.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Eli Manning and his plantar fasciitis injury are the wild cards in this one. With David Carr under center, the Giants lose much, if not all, of their offensive firepower. Well, at least we think so. They've only let him throw the ball five times this year.
Even with Carr at quarterback, it's still hard to pick the Raiders, who have lost by an average of 24.5 points the last two weeks. And that's what I'm here for — making the hard decisions.
(Once again, the American viewing public is treated to the luxury of watching this game from start to finish. The good news? At least you'll have an extra few hours in the afternoon to get those chores done. Chances are you can survive without seeing Raiders-Giants and Cowboys-Chiefs.)
Tampa (+15) over PHILADELPHIA
I've picked against the Eagles in all three of their games, and I've gone 1-2. I don't understand this team, and now I'm forced to pick them to cover a 15-point spread?
I just can't buy that.
Not even against Tampa.
Cleveland (+6) over BUFFALO
The Bills lost any shred of legitimacy in last week's thrashing in Miami. The Dolphins had scored 43 points in their first three games before unloading for 38 against the Bills.
The Browns, meanwhile, showed signs of life last week. Braylon Edwards is gone, and the door is open for Mohamed Massaquoi and Jerome Harrison to put up some stats. You're not alone if your first thought was "uhh … who?"
Ultimately, you'd have to be moderately insane to even consider having a conversation about this game, let alone put money on it.
SAN FRANCISCO (-2.5) over Atlanta
There really is no way to even begin to assume how a team comes off its bye week. Given that the Falcons are probably still a bit bothered by their loss in New England, I wouldn't expect any lethargy.
Still, the Niners just continue to impress, and a perfect 35-0 shutout of the Rams was the perfect practice for this week's real game. Their defense will be flying high and ready to shut down Matt Ryan's crew after scoring three touchdowns on defense last week.
What? What's that? You don't believe me? Then I can only assume you haven't rocked out to this video yet.
ARIZONA (-5.5) over Houston
1. I can't pick against every team coming off the bye week.
2. The Texans' defense is susceptible to the deep ball.
3. The Cardinals looked so horrifically bad the last time we saw them. I can't imagine any team putting up two epic stinkers like that in a row. … Except maybe the Cardinals. Uh-oh.
New England (-3.5) over DENVER
It's just hard to pick Denver when the Broncos haven't beaten a tough opponent (those 2-2 Cowboys are not tough).
Are the Patriots for real? Well, it's hard to say for sure, but they've looked capable lately. I expect that the Patriots have had this game in mind since the summer, and they could have something up their sleeve on Sunday.
Plus, it's hard to forget last year's 41-7 win over the Broncos. That was with Matt Cassel under center. I'll take Brady this week.
Jacksonville (no line) over SEATTLE
Matt Hasselbeck is a question mark, but so is the rest of the team. Qwest Field used to be one of the toughest places to play in the league, but the Seahawks have been outscored 151-142 at home in their last eight games.
Maybe last week's offensive outburst was an aberration from David Garrard and the Jags, but after I insulted them for four weeks, they're due for at least another week of success.
Indianapolis (-4) over TENNESSEE
There has been no team that's been as big a disappointment as the Titans through the first quarter of the NFL season. In fact, nobody even comes close.
Gone are the days of stomping towels, replaced with Garrard throwing for 323 yards against their once-respected defense.
The Colts have looked like the Colts, and against this year's edition of the Titans, that should be plenty.
Unless, of course, someone gets LenDale White his Patron.
Jets (-2) over MIAMI
Wait. The Dolphins look like a football team for the first time while the Jets and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez go through some growing pains, and all of a sudden the Jets are only two-point favorites?
Here I come, 14-0.
Last week: 6-8
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