Pick 'em Friday

Three weeks in a row I've gone 11-5 straight up. Well, that won't happen again, if only because there are only 14 games this week. Hooray for change!

As always, winners are in all caps, and you're welcome to challenge me in the comments.

CINCINNATI at Cleveland I'm still not convinced that Cincinnati has returned to respectability, but they're playing Cleveland this week, so they get the nod.

TAMPA at Washington All the experts are saying that this will be a rebound game for Washington after their loss to the Lions last week. Jim Zorn better hope it is, or he'll be asked where he wants the stuff from his office shipped. My question: FedEX or UPS?

NY GIANTS at Kansas City This one might be closer than expected since it's the Giants' third game in a row on the road, but KC really isn't very good on either side of the ball, and while I think the Giants aren't quite the dominant team all the experts are anointing them as, they're certainly good enough to handle the Chiefs.

Detroit at CHICAGO I picked the Lions to break their losing streak last week, but that was mostly because I thought Washington was ripe for a fall. I don't see the Lions traveling to Chicago and knocking them off, not this year anyway. Maybe next year.

Oakland at HOUSTON For three straight weeks, Houston has won when I've picked them to lose and lost when I've picked them to win. Oakland, you're welcome.

Tennessee at JACKSONVILLE I'd be lying if I didn't admit that watching Kerry Collins go oh-fer-thirteen in the second half of last week's game against the Jets gave me a little jolt of evil glee, even though I'd picked the Titans to win. He'll probably go 27-30 for 356 yards and 3 tds this week just to get back at me.

BALTIMORE at New England This season, the Ravens have been winning with offense, which is good against New England, whose defense has been shakier than normal. This game might be close, but I'm guessing it won't be, not really.

Seattle at INDIANAPOLIS I'd pick Indy even if Hasselbeck were 100%. As it stands today, he's questionable, and Indy is at home.

NY Jets at NEW ORLEANS This is probably the most interesting football game of the week. It won't get the most coverage--the Monday night game will, for reasons I'll get into below--but it's the most interesting matchup. The Jets defense has gotten a lot of praise for shutting down opponents, though I'd counter that Houston and New England have both been, if not a disappointment, at least not up to the offensive standards most people expected at the start of the season. Are the Jets that good or have their opponents not been as good as expected? Probably a little of both. The Saints, if they can maintain their success running the ball, have the potential to drop 35 on the board on any given week, and the defense has gotten good enough to keep opponents below that. The Saints defense doesn't have to pitch a shutout for the team to win, though they did last week--they just have to do a decent job. I think they do it at home against a rookie QB.

BUFFALO at Miami Buffalo's defense did a good job against the Saints last week, at least until the fourth quarter, and the Chad Henne era begins in Miami. Miami will have to get 300 yards rushing if they're going to win this game.

St. Louis at SAN FRANCISCO I'm in a pick'em league where one of the tie-breakers is to choose who will score the least number of points for the week. My choices are always either St. Louis or Cleveland.

Dallas at DENVER I've decided I'm going to pick Kyle Orton until there's a reason not to. Dallas is way shakier than even I expected them to be. Maybe they'll play better away from that monument to Jerry Jones's ego known as the new Texas Stadium, but I hope not.

San Diego at PITTSBURGH If I had a clue what was going on with either of these teams, I'd tell you. I'm going with the home team here.

GREEN BAY at Minnesota Minnesota-Green Bay game is the most interesting drama of the week, not the most interesting matchup. When it comes to hype, the drama will overshadow the game, which means I won't be watching much of the inevitable Brett Favre tongue bath ESPN will broadcast, which will get an extra day of coverage thanks to this being the Monday night game. This game will be discussed in tragedic terms; it will be described as an epic battle. There will be talk of revenge and betrayal, of usurpation and hubris, but in the end, it'll be a game between two pretty evenly matched teams. Since they're both potentially playoff opponents for the Saints (well down the road), I'm rooting for injuries here, but I'm picking the packers to win.

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