Week 9 NFL Picks Trusting Michael Vick in Prime Time, Eli Manning in New England


Week 9 NFL Picks Trusting Michael Vick in Prime Time, Eli Manning in New EnglandIt's OK to have a bad beat from time to time. When you're picking every single game on the NFL slate, they're bound to happen.

So when Olindo Mare shanked a chip shot after Steve Smith's holding penalty, I was OK. I guess. When Houston kicked a field goal to steal a win for me and provide an always-awful push, I was fine. Somewhat.

Then, with a Monday night push seeming inevitable and my reluctant acceptance of my 7-4-2 week already reached, Philip Rivers went ahead and dropped the football. And the Chargers lost the game.

It was the perfect ending to a weekend full of bad beats. There will obviously be no shortage of Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week's Picks (RQFLWP) in this one, with the hope once again that I won't need any next week.

Picking against Rivers is definitely going to help.

(Home team in caps.)

Miami (+4) over KANSAS CITY 
I was hoping and praying that this line would be around a touchdown, because the Chiefs are due for the "bad team letdown" that comes after emotional Monday night wins at home against division opponents. The Dolphins are better than their 0-7 record and minus-59 point differential suggests. Not much better, but a little better.

So while I wish the Fins were getting a few more points, I like their chances to lose by three or fewer points for the fourth time this season.

RQFLWP: "In the words of the almighty Al Borlin, I don't think so, Tim."

Note: As pointed out by trusty coworker Mike Cole, the character on Home Improvement played by Richard Karn was the almighty Al Borland, not Borlin. That one's on me.

Atlanta (-7.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
Yeah, I'm going to pick this team. Sure.

Tampa Bay (+8) over NEW ORLEANS
This pick isn't as much due to the Saints' embarrassing showing in St. Louis last week as much as it is for the way Tampa Bay rose to the occasion three weeks ago against New Orleans. Granted, it's going to be tougher in the dome, but the Bucs have won in New Orleans twice in a row. Eight points is just too much too ignore.

RQFLWP: "Even if the Saints hadn't won 62-7 last week, I'd like them big here [against the Rams]. But they did win 62-7 last week, so this is even easier."

Note: You may remember how this one played out, as the Saints got blown out by the previously winless Rams.

New York Jets (+1) over BUFFALO
The Bills are due for some losses to start piling up. Sure, the Jets have come off their bye weeks pretty poorly the last two years under Rex Ryan, but last week I picked the Patriots based entirely off their bye week history and what did that get me?

As much as I distrust the Jets' offense, Mark Sanchez and Co. will have their opportunities against the league's 26th-ranked defense. I expect one of those miracle comebacks that the Jets seem to enjoy having.

DALLAS (-12) over Seattle
Two weeks ago, I wrote that the Cowboys simply were not a team that could blow anybody out. Then they went ahead and beat the Rams 34-7. So here I am again, looking at that same Cowboys team that lost by that same exact score last Sunday night. Adding to the trouble is that the kiss of death (an NFC West team) is involved in this whole mess.

I'll take the Cowboys based mostly on the fact that the Seahawks are an atrocious road team, one day in New Jersey aside. They are 1-3 on the road. They scored three points in their last road game, a 6-3 loss to Cleveland. They lost 33-17 and 24-0 to start the season on the road. Their head coach is Pete Carroll and their quarterback tandem is Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst.

That's enough to talk myself into Dallas. Barely.

Cleveland (+12) over HOUSTON 
There are four last-place teams in the AFC, and the Cleveland Browns are one of them. The Browns have a minus-33 point differential, while the other three teams have an average of minus-86. The Browns haven't lost by more than 10 points since Oct. 2.

It's not much, but it's enough to believe they may hang tight with Houston, especially if Andre Johnson remains out.

San Francisco (-4) over WASHINGTON
Sometimes, Vegas puts a little too much stock in the whole West Coast team traveling to East Coast thing. The Niners are pretty much coming off a double bye week (bye week followed by game against the Cleveland Browns), and the Redskins are in a tailspin, losing their last three games by an average of 14 points.

When you're bad, you're bad, no matter where your opponent is flying in from.

Cincinnati (+2) over TENNESSEE
The Titans have been trick or treat all year. A win against the dreadful Colts last week won't change that. If this Titans team wants to reach its destiny as an 8-8 team, then it must lose this weekend to fall to 4-4. It's simple math, really. 

New York Giants (+9) over NEW ENGLAND
A part of me looks at Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and says "there's no way those guys are going to lose two in a row." It just doesn't happen very often — it's happened just twice since 2003, to be exact. So if this line were at five or lower, I'd be terrified to pick against the Patriots.

But nine points? That's an awful lot of respect for the 32nd-ranked passing defense going up against the fourth-best passing attack in the league. Sure, Eli Manning is still Eli Manning, but he's been on fire, averaging 345.5 passing yards in his last four games. Granted, that output wasn't against great defenses, but the defense he'll see Sunday will be the worst. Eli probably won't have Hakeem Nicks, but something tells me Victor Cruz will be doing the salsa dance more than once at Gillette on Sunday.

Oh, there's also the little tidbit about the Giants leading the NFL in sacks, and that frightening memory of Brady getting assassinated one night in the desert in February 2008 that I just can't seem to shake.

RQFLWP: "I was really expecting an 8.5-point line for [Patriots-Steelers]. …  I could not possibly feel any more foolish than if I picked Pittsburgh and then watched Brady pick apart that same defense he's been picking apart forever. … You've got yourself one easy pick this week."

ARIZONA(-4.5) over St. Louis
Despite Steven Jackson's monster effort last week, the Rams are in trouble in Arizona if Sam Bradford can't go.

The Cardinals rank sixth in the NFL in yards allowed per rushing attempt (3.8), and if A.J. Feeley lines up under center again, Arizona can fill the box to stop the run. Because A.J. Feeley stinks.

St. Louis (+3) over St. Louis
Sorry, I've never changed a pick before, but just hours after this story went out, Adam Schefter reported that Kevin Kolb likely won't play. As much of a loss as Bradford is for the Rams, Kolb is bigger in Arizona. I can't ever pick John Skelton. Not now. Not ever.

I hope you can understand.

Green Bay (-5.5) over SAN DIEGO
You could say this pick is out of spite for what transpired Monday night in Kansas City, but you'd be .. oh, hell, you'd be right. At least a little bit.

The only problem I have with the Packers this season is that Aaron Rodgers says the words "my touchdown dance" in that insurance commercial. Rodgers seems like a tough guy, and he plays for a hard-working, old-school fan base in Green Bay. He may be the best quarterback in football right now … but the sound and sight of him saying "my touchdown dance" just doesn't jibe with me.

That said, I'm not sure it will affect him from carving up the Chargers' defense, which has a short week to prepare for the lethal Packers offense.

RQFLWP: "Was it stupid [to pick the Chargers in New York]? Yes. Would it be just as stupid to pick San Diego to win and cover on the road in a place where Philip Rivers and Co. looked completely lost last year on a Monday night? Yes! … Norv me once, shame on you. Norv me twice, shame on me. Please don't Norv me twice"

Note: I don't know that I got Norv'd, but I definitely got Phil'd. It hurts either way.

Denver (+9) over OAKLAND
Sorry, I'm not so sure that Carson Palmer is any good. This is the NFL, and this is the quarterback position. You can't just hang out, tailgate at college games, do nothing for almost a year and then show up and perform in the fastest, most intense league in the world — especially when you were only slightly above average to begin with.

Picking Tim Tebow's team frightens me after last week's debacle, but the Raiders were in near-disarray last time we saw them in their only game without their starting quarterback. A week off won't magically make that better.

PITTSBURGH (-3.5) over Baltimore
Tough one here. On the one hand, that 35-7 thumping the Ravens placed on the Steelers in Week 1 truly seems like ancient history, the Steelers are on a bit of a roll (they won the month of October 122-84) and Joe Flacco looks to have regressed to himself in middle school (one touchdown, four interceptions in October).

On the other hand … there is no other hand. Pittsburgh is about to seize control of the AFC. I just hope they do it by a little more than a field goal. That half of a point is scaring me, but you can't let an imaginary half-point steer you from the right choice.

PHILADELPHIA (-8.5) over Chicago
Last week, I listed all the reasons I liked Philly against the Cowboys. The biggest was that they are exactly as good as we all thought they were back in August. They proved that with an exclamation point on Sunday night.

I don't do fantasy football (hate it), but if I did, I'd do whatever I can to get Michael Vick on my team this week. Against the 28th-ranked passing defense, and with the bright lights of Monday night shining down on him, he could be poised for a night similar to the one he had last year against Washington (20-for-28, 333 passing yards, 80 rushing yards, six total touchdowns).

Make sure you tune in early to this one, because it may be over by halftime.

Last week: 7-5-1
Season: 54-56-6

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