With the NBA season under way, we will add the NBA to the list of games I pick every weekend. As much as I would like to pick a weekend World Series game, I really need to look at how the two teams look before really having an idea.
(5) USC @ (10) Oregon
Upset Alert! No one wants to go play in the Autzen Zoo, let alone when it is inhabited by rabid Ducks from Oregon. Since their loss in Boise, the Ducks have gone on an absolute tear, including a demolition of then #6 Cal that defies description. In these two, we have a rested USC team who looked less than amazing against an inconsistent Notre Dame squad and an Oregon team that smells blood. If they take down the Trojans at home, they will control their own destiny to win the Pac-10. Whether or not they can pull it off is one thing, but they can, and will, pull off the upset at home. USC 28, Oregon 38.
(3) Texas @ (14) Oklahoma State
Upset Alert! Again! Texas has really not impressed me this year, coming out of the gates extremely slowly and just not looking like a top 3 team. Games against Colorado, Wyoming, and Bradford-less Oklahoma come to mind. Coming out of the gates slower than Andre Smith’s 40 time is bad, but when you do it in Stillwater in a game that the Oklahoma State faithful are salivating, it can be catastrophic. If Texas can come out and turn the tables on a pumped up Cowboys team, then they might be able to avoid the upset. I realize that the Texas defense is very good, but right now the offense is not keeping up with the defense. I would be much surer of this pick if Dez Bryant was back, but I am doing it anyway. Oklahoma State 24, Texas 20.
Giants @ Eagles
Since the line for this game is “Pick”, I will oblige. I want the Eagles in this game for a few reasons, but ONLY if Brian Westbrook can go. The Giants looked pretty bad last weekend, especially through the air and if there is one thing the Eagles do, it is throw the ball. If Osi Umenyiora has a repeat of his gajillion sack performance of 2 years ago, then all bets are off, but I think the Eagles will be able to protect McNabb and will have the right screen call on for when the Giants bring pressure. It would help even more if the Eagles could get a consistent ground game going through either Westbrook or McCoy, but I know better than to expect that out of Andy Reid. I realize it is somewhat sacrilege to pick the Giants to lose three in a row, but I am doing it. I have liked this Eagles team (with the exception of the Oakland game) since day one, and their season will continue on a positive note as they commemorate Jim Johnson. Giants 20, Eagles 27.
Denver @ Baltimore
Preseason, this game looked like a blowout, but at this point in the season, these two teams have been some of the more impressive teams in the league. Baltimore’s offense has been awesome and Denver has just been solid all around. So how do you go about picking it? Both teams are coming off byes, so we can throw that out. Baltimore’s offense is explosive and the Broncos’ is steady; that’s a slight advantage to the Ravens. The Ravens defense relies on turnovers, but has been less consistent than Jamal Crawford. The Broncos defense on the other hand has been solid all around and should be more than capable of at least slowing the Ravens high-powered attack. One potential tiebreaker for me is that the Ravens defense relies on getting turnovers, and if there is one thing that the Broncos do not do is turn the ball over. I keep trying to talk myself into the Ravens winning this one, but everything points to the Broncos. The Ravens can jump on top, but the Broncos are an excellent second half team. The Broncos have dealt with deficits in their past three games, but none larger than 10, and that one went to overtime against the Pats. The Ravens have an explosive offense and shaky, but occasionally explosive defense, but the Broncos are just solid all around. The dream season continues Broncos fans. Ravens fans; you are home to the absolute best 3 win, 4 loss team I have ever seen. Broncos 21, Ravens 20.
Rams @ Lions
I know, I know, it seems like a joke. They are two of the saddest teams of the last few years and their futility has extended into this year. The Rams are the holders of the longest current losing streak in football, and we all know about the Lions. With all that being said, both teams have at least showed some signs of life. Against the then undefeated Vikings, the Rams made it into the 10 three separate times and came away with 0 points as the result of some bad turnovers. It got out of hand late, but if they could have held on to the ball, they may have at least made it interesting. Usually we would call this bad luck, but with the Rams, it seems like an acquired trait. The Lions, on the other hand, have looked alright this year, a vast improvement over last year’s efforts. If Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford are back, it should be a rout, but if the Rams can get out of their own way, they will have a good shot. Sorry St. Louis, the streak continues. St. Louis 16, Detroit 24.
Magic @ Raptors
It might be a little premature to pick an NBA game this far in advance, but I am going to take the Raptors in this game. They are not quite as deep as the Magic overall, but I like how Toronto matches up. Calderon is probably better than Jameer Nelson at this point though I expect big things from Nelson. Bosh usually plays well against Dwight, Bargnani and Rashard Lewis have similar playing styles, although Lewis is the better player overall by quite a bit. All that being said, I like the Raptors to win at home in this one with Bosh putting up big numbers and Hedo exacting revenge on his former team. Raptors 94, Magic 90.