Rediscovering a Swagger for Week 9 NFL Picks


November 6, 2009

Rediscovering a Swagger for Week 9 NFL Picks Every week, you’ll hear some athlete utter the phrase, “I just need to stay humble.”

How dumb is that?

Humility never earned Rickey Henderson the stolen base record. Humility never handed Dick Nixon the presidency. Nor did it make Kanye West a multiplatinum rapper.

If you want to succeed in this cruel, cruel world, you need to bring a bit of swagger. I’ll admit, I lost mine when I went 19-23 from Weeks 4 through 6. I came back strong, but then suffered the most miserable week of the season in Week 8, with a disappointing 5-8 record.

A lesser man would bow down and accept the fact that nobody can rightfully predict what will happen in a given week in the NFL. But that would require humility.

As we’ve already conclusively determined, humility is for fools.

(Home team in caps.)

ATLANTA (-10) over Washington
The Falcons have been trending downward. Yes, they fell to an unbeaten New Orleans team on Monday night, but the Saints looked as beatable as they have all year. I suppose I still can’t rid myself of the taste of Atlanta’s punishing loss in Dallas in Week 7. Fortunately, the Falcons get to host the Redskins, which is essentially the NFL players’ equivalent of recess. Have fun, Falcons, and don’t get hurt.

Arizona (+3) over CHICAGO
I’m picking the Cardinals a week after a horrific — and I mean horrific — loss to the Panthers for one reason and one reason alone: nostalgia.

The Cardinals will win this game not because they’re a better team, not because they’ll be inspired by the lingering words of Dennis Green and not because they are who we think they are.

No, instead, they’ll win in honor of that poor media relations director, who so calmly explained that Matt Leinart would soon be taking the podium. As if those writers needed any more quotes that night.

CINCINNATI (+3) over Baltimore
I’ve gone back and forth on this game about seven different times. A small part of me wants to go with Chad Ochocinco and his “Ochostinko” care packages. A larger part of me likes the Bengals’ passing offense against that struggling Ravens secondary.

Then the numbers confused things even further: The Bengals are 18th in the league in pass yards per game. The Ravens’ defense allows 226.1 yards through the air (19th). The Bengals? strength is their run game (127.7 YPG), which matches up with the Ravens’ strength (87.6 YPG allowed).

Ultimately, I’m just not ready to pick the Ravens. Their win over undefeated Denver was impressive last week, but until they show some consistency, I’ll stick with Carson Palmer and Stinko.

Houston (+9) over INDIANAPOLIS
I’ve got a good feel on the Colts this year. I’ve won the past four weeks picking for or against them, and this week, I’ve got a feeling the undefeated tag could be dropped.

The Colts haven’t yet dealt with Ryan Moats, Matt Schaub is having a career year, and (surprise, surprise) Bob Sanders needs surgery. I think things will come together for Houston.

NEW ENGLAND (-10.5) over Miami
The story all week has been Wildcat, Wildcat, Wildcat. How about this: The Dolphins give up 236 passing yards per game (21st in the league). Tom Brady is coming off some fairly spectacular performances, one against the worst passing defense in the league (Tennessee) and one against the 15th-ranked pass defense (Tampa Bay).

The Dolphins will need to jump out to an early lead to keep this one close, but given the 2007-like look of the Patriots offense over the past couple of weeks, it’d be hard to bet against Brady at this point.

Green Bay (-9.5) over TAMPA BAY
There is but one variable that has me holding out hope for the Bucs: the throwback jersey.

Tampa Bay, winless and hopeless, is going back to the old orange disasters, which may be the ugliest shirts in the history of cloth. They could, however, give a boost to a team that desperately needs one.

Combine that with rookie Josh Freeman making his first start, and you have the makings for something special.

But, I mean, come on. Really.

JACKSONVILLE (-6.5) over Kansas City

How is there one of these games every week? Last week, it was Rams-Lions. The week before, it was Bills-Panthers. In Week 6, it was Chiefs-Bucs. We’re supposed to try to figure out what’s going to happen in these games?

Maurice Jones-Drew has been unstoppable lately, rushing for a cool 310 yards in his last two games. Granted, he was playing the Titans last week, but he averaged 22 yards per carry. Kansas City gives up 131 rushing yards per game, and they’ve got the whole Larry-Johnson-is-dangerously-crazy thing going on, which might not hurt them, but it’s certainly not helping.

Ultimately, this one ends with me taking Jacksonville in my least enthusiastic pick of the week. Hoorah.

NEW ORLEANS (-13.5) over Carolina
New Orleans’ offense can’t stop scoring. Its defense can’t stop making interceptions (16, No. 1 in NFL). Jake Delhomme can’t stop throwing them (13, No. 1 in NFL).

Yes, please. Moving on.

SEATTLE (-10) over Detroit
The last time I picked the Seahawks, they were three-point favorites over the Cardinals. Seattle lost 27-3. The week before, I picked against the Seahawks. They beat the Jaguars 41-0.

The point: I’m already counting this one in the loss column.

NEW YORK GIANTS (-4.5) over San Diego
I couldn’t be less impressed with either team. I’ve never believed in the Chargers, but I believed in the Giants until their “performance” in Philly last week.

But I’m sticking with the G-Men here. Granted, I’m not sure they’re capable of beating a Pop Warner team at this point, but the Chargers travel east poorly. Very poorly. Last year, they lost in Miami, Buffalo, London (tough flight from SoCal) and Pittsburgh (twice). Their only East Coast win came against Tampa Bay.

Traveling woes aren’t exactly a sure thing in this football league, but when two underachieving, uninspired teams square off, it’s kind of the only stat in town.

SAN FRANCISCO (-4) over Tennessee
The Titans win a game, and now they’re expected to hang with the league’s second-best rushing defense? Vince Young is once again that guy who “only knows how to win”? Chris Johnson is going to flirt with 200 yards every week?

Not this week.

(Fun fact that’s not entirely relevant to this game: The Niners are the only team with a losing record that has a point differential on the plus side at plus-7. The Titans are minus-97.)

Dallas (+3) over PHILADELPHIA
I’m thinking big picture with this one. The Cowboys appear to be on their annual ascent — the one that has everyone convinced they’re Super Bowl favorites by Week 13. They’ll then hit their annual decline, and they’ll probably lose three of their last four (San Diego, at New Orleans, at Washington, Philadelphia). In fact, you can put me down for Philly over Dallas in that Week 17 matchup right now.

With the teams averaging 35.5 points per game over the past two weeks, that over-under of 49 might be toast by halftime.

DENVER (+3) over Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh won’t be able to run the ball (19th rushing offense against third-ranked rushing defense). Denver won’t be able to run the ball (11th rushing attack against the No. 1 rushing defense).

Pittsburgh’s 1-2 on the road this year, but that win was in Detroit, and the Steelers only won 28-20. Plus, they are 2-5 against the spread this year.  And they’ll likely be without starting safety Ryan Clark, who would be risking his life by playing in the thin Denver air (a very interesting story).

We don’t know how the Broncos and Josh McDaniels will respond to their first loss, but if the coach takes after his mentor, losing twice in a row won’t be acceptable.

Last week: 5-8
Season: 62-53-1

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