Pick' em Friday

10-4 last week after 3 straight weeks of 11-5. But the second I put a penny on a game, Jamarcus Russell will complete 70% of his passes and the Rams will score 80, you can bet on it. So I'm sticking with picking and that's it. Winners in all caps.

Oakland at NY GIANTS Eli Manning might not play. Eli Whitney could rise from the grave and beat this Raiders team, and Whitney died a hundred years before football was invented.

Washington at CAROLINA Washington is playing badly enough that Tampa nearly beat them last week. Tampa.

Cincinnati at BALTIMORE Let's see if Carson Palmer gets the same bullcrap roughing-the-passer calls that Tom Brady got last week. Somehow I doubt it.

DALLAS at Kansas City Dallas is not very good. Kansas City is really bad, but at least Rush Limbaugh isn't interested in buying them. Not very good > very bad.

Tampa Bay at PHILADELPHIA Donovan McNabb will be back this week, apparently. It's good to scrimmage before you have a real game when you're coming back from an injury.

PITTSBURGH at Detroit Detroit will win again this season. Just not this week.

Cleveland at BUFFALO Sucky game of the week, which means it will be on television down here, and nothing else will be.

MINNESOTA at St. Louis Side note: anyone who thinks black players will hesitate to sign with St. Louis in the future because Rush Limbaugh is part-owner is crazy. Maybe an elite player with options will think twice, but most players will grab the opportunity. There are only so many roster slots to go around in the NFL, and players have limited career opportunities.

Atlanta at SAN FRANCISCO My hatred for teh Atlanta Falcons dates back to November 12, 1978. I was ten years old, just getting into football and the Saints were my home team. Steve Effing Bartkowski led the Falcons to two scores in the last 2:23 to beat the Saints, with the last touchdown coming on a Hail Mary.

Years later, when the Saints had a brief run of excellence under Jim Mora, they were always in the shadow of the San Francisco 49ers, led by Joe Montana. I can take no sides here. This is my rooting for an earthquake to swallow both teams whole game.

Jacksonville at SEATTLE Someone's got to win this thing, I guess.

NEW ENGLAND at Denver I would dearly love to be wrong about this one, but I don't think I will be, especially if the refs continue to treat Tom Brady like Michael Jordan in a playoff game, throwing a flag anytime a defensive player breathes on him. I have to admit, there's a part of me that admires Brady's willingness to pull such a wimpy move asking for that flag on Suggs--he needed to keep the drive going. Too bad he had to sacrifice his dignity to do it. I'd be willing to bet that the next time those two teams face off, someone on the Ravens defense is going to earn a fifteen-yarder, get his money's worth.

Houston at ARIZONA Houston finally broke its streak of doing the opposite of what I projected last week. Let's see if they can start a new one. Maybe this very special Houston Texans bear will inspire them to, umm, greatness?

INDIANAPOLIS at Tennessee This shouldn't be a contest, no matter how desperate the Titans are to win.

NY Jets at MIAMI I don't really know why I'm picking the Fins here, but I am. Conventional wisdom says the Jets will be up for revenge for the end of last season, will be looking to redeem themselves for last week, and are the better team. But I've gone with conventional wisdom for most of these picks, so I'm taking a chance here. The Fins will win big enough to get all their fans' hopes up, and then will dash them on the rocks as the season progresses.

Now, back to the stack of papers that won't grade themselves no matter how much Tiger Woods Golf I play. They're really starting to bum me out.

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