We are writing on a short deadline right here, so let’s get to it.
(7) Florida vs. (1) Alabama
Expect the Tide to roll at home. Florida is not what they used to be offensively and the Tide showed last week that those 9 new starters on defense are more than ready to step in and take over the family business of playing great defense. Trey Burton adds an interesting dimension on offense, but I trust Nick Saban to make the defense good more than I trust Urban Meyer to make the offense good, and that is really saying something. It does not help Florida that Jeff Demps is not at full strength either. McElroy remains unbeaten since 8th grade.
Florida 13, Alabama 24
(8) Oklahoma vs. (21) Texas
Some of the glamor is gone from this game after Texas’ humiliation last weekend, but it is still the Red River Rivalry and worth a pick. Throw out the records for a rivalry like this. The Longhorns offensive line in particular came up short, and I think that Oklahoma can do enough to bother Gilbert to force him into some turnovers. Oklahoma has certainly not been very impressive either, but they are going to win this game and continue to climb the ladder toward the BCS picture. I am still not too high on Landry Jones and Co. but I think they will win this game.
Oklahoma 28, Texas 20
(9) Stanford vs (4) Oregon
This game is easily the toughest to pick for me. I think Stanford is the better team. They can run the ball down your throat, they play pretty damn good defense, and they have a pretty good QB in Andrew Luck. They have all the tools to handle an Oregon team that relies on speed, yards after the catch, and finesse, to win this game. However, they have to go on the road and try to get a win at the Autzen Zoo, which is one of the loudest stadiums in the country. Do I go with the better team, or the significant home-field advantage? Logic tells me that Notre Dame is not that good and Stanford is not as good as I think, but I really do not trust Oregon either since they have played no one. I think LeMichael James gets held in check and Stanford pulls this game out, although I am less confident on this pick than any other college pick this week. Should be a great game, and an even better game if you are a Cardinal fan.
Stanford 28, Oregon 27
New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins
This is probably going to be the best game of the week, in part because a lot of the other games are going to suck. The elements involved here are just about a guarantee to make it exciting. The Pats passing attack should shred a fairly mediocre Dolphins secondary. The Dolphins passing attack should give the Pats secondary problems. The Wildcat gets to go up against a Patriots run defense that has looked good, although that might be because teams are just throwing it against them. If this was a day game, I would pick the Dolphins in a heartbeat. The Patriots never get off easy against Miami and the heat would have been just enough to make this an easy pick, but its primetime slot makes it much more difficult.
I am going to go with the Dolphins for a couple reasons. They sort of let people down last week (as they are accustomed to doing) and they really need this game so they can come back in a few weeks and let us all down again. The Pats need to continue their shaky start to send all Patriots fans into a apoplectic tornado of anxiety, and I think this game is the perfect setting for that.
Patriots 28, Dolphins 30
You can’t chase the cards. They say it about Vegas, and I say it about picking an Upset Special. This week in the NFL, the candidates for the Upset Special (underdogs by 5 or more to win) are as follows:
Denver (+6.5) vs TENNESSEE
Detroit (+14.5) vs GREEN BAY
Carolina (+13) vs NEW ORLEANS
San Francisco (+6.5) vs ATLANTA (West coast team on east coast in early game=fail)
BUFFALO (+6) vs New York Jets
JACKSONVILLE (+7) vs Indianapolis
Arizona (+9) vs SAN DIEGO
Washington (+5.5) vs PHILADELPHIA
None of those seem especially likely upsets to me, But guess what? I have never been to Vegas. Nothing wrong with chasing the cards when there is no money on the line.
BUFFALO BILLS (+6) over NEW YORK JETS
If I was overly concerned about my record, I would leave this section blank for the week, but what fun would that be? I think the Bills are the perfect candidate to pull an upset and I am going to tell you why. You probably already knew that, but whatever. The Bills had a pretty great showing against the Pats last weekend and have a very underrated defense. Their special teams have shown explosive potential (a big factor in picking upsets) and Ryan Fitzpatrick looked fairly good too. The Jets, on the other hand, are coming off an emotional Monday night win over the Dolphins and feeling pretty good about themselves. Mark Sanchez has got to come back to earth at some point, and who better to do it against than a team he really struggled with last season.
When I started writing this section, I did not really think the Bills were going to win, but I have pretty much talked myself into it at this point. Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills!
Even though they suck.
Jets 13, Bills 17
Last Week: 3-2
Upset Special: 1-2