September 19, 2008

Week Three Picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

I spend last Sunday night in Cleveland’s Browns Stadium and very thankfully was protected from severe wind and the swirling bouts of rain by the awning in the upper deck. While the game turned into a defensive battle since neither squad had any luck moving the ball in the 25-40 MPH wind (gusts up to 60 apparently), I had some time to look around. There was something that really bothered me about the stadium and more exactly, their staff.

During a strong gust of wind, a mesh-like banner on the upper fence that separates those in the top row of the stadium from a grizzly death falling onto the street came untied at the bottom and proceeded to whip dangerously about in a near “snapping” fashion. Have you ever twirling up a towel and snapped your buddy in the locker room with it? Yeah, it was like that, except with the wind’s velocity, it could have seriously harmed, if not killed someone. Worst case scenario, it could’ve knocked someone from their seat and into a tumble down the stairs.

Not only did no staff remedy this dangerous situation immediately, nobody fixed it for the entire game — and this happened in the second quarter. But aside from that, Browns Stadium looked like a decent place and in a great location (not too far from the bar district and mere minutes from the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame).

Onto this week’s picks, the lines are straight from our guy in Vegas.

ATLANTA (-5.5) over Kansas City
There’s bad, there’s ugly and then there’s this game. Who is this Tyler Thigpen anyways? Sounds like a CFL-calibre pivot and plays like one too. Matt Ryan should be able to get into a better rhythm this week against a sloppy defence like KC’s.

BUFFALO (-9.5) over Oakland
Darren McFadden’s not going to run wild on this defence and JaMarcus Russel’s not going to even keep it close by completing six out of 17 passes. The Bills have looked strong and I haven’t seen a reason to bet against them here.

TENNESSEE (-5) over Houston
The Texans haven’t beaten the Titans since 2004, just so you know. With Kerry Collins at QB, it’s actually easier to envision the Titans as a playoff team with that monster defence and without Vince Young’s turnovers. And how much is Ike still weighing on the Texans’ minds?

NEW YORK GIANTS (-13.5) over Cincinnati
The way the Giants can pass rush and the way that the Bengals seemingly refuse to block for Carson Palmer, he might not make it out of this game. This may be completely jinxing him, but Justin Tuck has a chance to be a truly great defensive end. Also, the Bengals will probably be drafting in the top-5 next spring.

WASHINGTON (-3) over Arizona
I’m not sold on the Skins, even after their comeback against the Saints but I’m even less sold on Kurt Warner having renewed his contract with Satan. If the Cardinals win this one — on the road no less — then I’ll believe they’re the class of the NFC West (still not saying much, eh?).

NEW ENGLAND (-12.5) over Miami
Can the Dolphins score more than six points against this Patriots defence that looks back up to form from their dynasty days when they won with defence as opposed to sign-stealing offence? Maybe they’ve found a way to intercept the QB’s radio signals… Either way, Matt Cassel isn’t horrible but the entire ‘fins squad is.

CHICAGO (-3) over Tampa Bay
This has defensive battle written all over it with both Brian Griese and Kyle Orton starting at QB. The lone reason I would’ve had to watch this game — Devin Hester — has bruised ribs, or torn cartilage or something aching so the TV ratings should be in the gutter. Urlacher and Co. will do a better job than the Tampa 2 crew.

Carolina (+3.5) over MINNESOTA
No better way to shake the confidence of your QB (Tarvaris Jackson) then bench him in favour of an old game managing type like Gus Frerotte. This is Steve Smith’s first game back and I’ll look for him to make up for lost time. It helps that the Vikings secondary stinks.

St. Louis (+9.5) over SEATTLE
Are you sold on a Seattle squad as banged up as this one? When you consider Matt Hasselbeck’s in pain, backup Seneca Wallace is hurt, they’re missing six wide receivers and actually brought back Koren Robinson and traded for Keary Colbert, this team reeks of bad news. This is just an awful sports year for the people of Seattle. I’ll take the points in this one for sure.

SAN FRANCISCO (-4) over Detroit
Shaun Alexander worked out for the Lions this week. How much sense does it make to sign him when you have a line that can’t create holes to run through and all Alexander did in Seattle last year was stutter-step looking for a hole and then take a dive when there wasn’t one there?

Pittsburgh (+3) over PHILADELPHIA
A lot of long-standing streaks have been broken in recent years. What does that matter? The Steelers haven’t won in Philly for 43 years. That’s some sort of run. This match up has game-of-the-week potential and should be a thrill to watch. I can see Pittsburgh’s defence being able to stop the Eagles just enough times to pull out a close win. And about Eagles-Cowboys from MNF, Donovan McNabb proved again that he’s just as clutch as Alex Rodriguez. Way to strike out down the stretch.

DENVER (-5.5) over New Orleans
What a shootout this should be. If you thought MNF was a high-scoring affair, this one could beat it. I’m worried about Drew Brees missing his No. 1 guy Colston though and really, the Broncos have looked damned good so far. Where were they last year when I picked them to make the Super Bowl?

Jacksonville (+5.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
Losing Bob Sanders, defending defensive player of the year hurts the Colts more than potentially having Jeff Saturday back. I guess Indy hasn’t hooked up the speaker system to pump in sound yet like they had at the RCA Dome either. Jacksonville used this off-season to build themselves strictly to beat Peyton Manning, they now have their opportunity.

BALTIMORE (-2.5) over Cleveland
If someone else that wasn’t asleep at the switch was running this team, you know, like not Romeo Crennel, then Brady Quinn will be the starting QB after Derek Anderson throws three picks in Baltimore on Sunday. He’s looked like the guy who lost the starting job to Charlie Frye last year more than the six-week stud he became. It’s time to start the Quinn era in Cleveland.

Dallas (-3) at GREEN BAY
Now here’s the game of the week. As a Cowboys fan, I’m legitimately concerned in this one. Aaron Rodgers was the guy last year who came in for Favre in Texas Stadium and looked every bit ready to be the strong, starting QB that he is now. Two years ago, who ever would’ve thought that Romo-Rodgers would be THE premier QB match up in the NFL in 2008? I actually like the Dallas secondary better with Roy Williams out. Now they have a safety starting there instead of a linebacker.

New York Jets (+9) over SAN DIEGO
When was the last time that Brett Favre was given this many points? Last week, the Jets lost to a New England team that always has their number while the Chargers were screwed by maybe the worst call ever. With Merriman out and LDT and Gates nursing their turf toes, the Jets should be able to keep this game close. Favre is always at his best on Monday nights as well.

Last week: 8-6.
This season: 16-13.

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