After a decent 2-2 set of picks last week and only one pick that was WAY off (Georgia Tech over Miami), we are back for another round. Let’s start with the young guns:
(9) Miami (FL) vs. (11) Virginia Tech
There is no spread on this game but from the looks of it, this should be an outstanding game. Miami vs. VT will be the High Octane Canes vs. the Beamer-Ballin’ Hokie Birds, Jacory Harris vs. Tyrod Taylor, An ACC matchup that is hopefully much closer than Miami’s ACC matchup last week with the Ramblin’ Wreck. Not to mention VT just came off an emotional win over Nebraska at home. So who do we go with? The team that has cruised so far but looked outstanding blowing out opponents? Or the team that has had it rough, but has game experience in close games? I am taking the Canes this time. Maybe it is because they burned me last week, or maybe because I deep down kind of want to believe that “The U” is back, but whatever it is, I am feeling some Miami momentum. That momentum may or may not carry over to their slugfest next week with the potentially Bradford-toting Sooners. For me, this game comes down to Jacory Harris just being better than Tyrod Taylor as an all-around QB. The book on Taylor is to make you beat him with his arm, something a QB rarely, if ever, wants said about him, whereas Harris can beat you with both but is deadly though the air. I think Virginia Tech is still in a little bit of a transition after losing so many leaders on the defensive side of the ball and Miami will cut them up like Alabama did week 1. Miami 28, VT 17.
There are two other college games I think will be worth watching, but not necessarily ideal for picking. Texas Tech travels to Houston (-1.5) and TCU traveling to Clemson as 3 point underdogs. I was planning on taking Tech to cover its spread against Houston, but with such a low spread I would essentially be picking them against Houston. I was extremely impressed with their performance on the road in Austin, and am tempted to pick them again, but I am going to take Houston to cover that spread in a shootout, something to the tune of 42-38. It will be close, but 1.5 is too slim a margin to pick a cover and not a win. I am a little surprised that Clemson is favored over a TCU team that is good every year, but the value of home field is far more pronounced in college than it is in the pros. Regardless, I am going to take the Horned Frogs to cover in this game. Not sure which way it will swing, but I am going with the Mountain West if for no other reason than they have been an outstanding conference for the last 5 years or so. These should both be outstanding games to watch too.
Alright, on to the NFL.
Atlanta travels to New England this week in what is essentially a make-or-panic-wildly game for the Patriots. There is no such thing as a make or break game in week 3 with a conference like theirs, but if they lose and fall to 1-2, Pats fans might start dumping tea, beer and short-sleeved hoodies into the harbor. As a Colts fan, and thus an enemy of the Patriots, I am scared of what I am about to do. Picking against the Patriots is like picking Brett Favre to stay retired: No matter how good your odds look, you will be wrong. But I am going where few men have successfully gone before and picking Atlanta (+4) to not only cover but win. If Wes Welker is healthy, all bets are off, but with Welker out, Atlanta has more than enough ability on offense and just enough on defense to beat the Pats at home. Every bone in my body is telling me not to pick against the Pats, but, to quote the incomparable Mr. Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a changin'”. Atlanta 23, New England 21. Of course if the Pats win by 20, I will shut up and you will forget about this pick. Deal? Deal.
My final pick of the week is a shout out to both my own hometown of Indianapolis, and my Outta Town Clown compadre Ross’ hometown of Peoria, err Phoenix. Indy travels to Phoenix for a Sunday night showdown with the reigning NFC Champs. Call it bias, but I am taking the Colts (+2.5) in what is technically an upset. Is it ever really an upset when Peyton Manning is involved? The one thing that plagues the Colts is not being able to stop the run. Conveniently, the Cardinals barely even try to run the football at times and do not really have a go-to-back who they can hand it off to and say “go get it”. The Colts allowed something like 7 TDs in the air ALL last season and while they will probably give one up through the air this week, expect fireworks, and for most of them to be blue and white. Kurt Warner will look like a Christmas tree draped with blue ornaments from the relentless Colts pass rush, and sadly, the Christmas tree analogy ends with the Colts draped on him because Kurt Warner is less mobile than a tree. Colts 31, Cardinals 21.