I was planning on going on a lengthy intro about how great October sports were and how it is my favorite month, but I will save it for anther time, After all, we have some outstanding football lined up this week, and some big picks to make. I continue to get killed on my Upset Specials after my initial KC over SD lightning bolt, with most of my picks not even coming close to pulling the upset. It has been pretty embarrassing to say the least. I mean I know the whole point of the section is to be risky and realize that it probably will not happen (it doesn’t happen every week that a 5 point dog wins), but I have been awful at it. Nonetheless, we will plug right along and do it again along with the rest of our picks for the weekend.
(12) LSU vs. (14) Florida
Don’t you just love how two teams that are just not very good get to be ranked and face off in a “showdown”? Florida got compeltely wrecked by Alabama last week (again) and has really just not looked good all year, however, because they wear orange helmets that say “Gators” on the side, they are ranked 14th. Cool. Not that LSU is any better. They continue to get extremely lucky against the likes of Tennessee and North Carolina (when they were down 9 starters), but sometimes 9 lives are more important than talent in college football. So where do we go for the pick?
Is it about the Tigers’ 9 lives, or Florida’s necessary rebound of pride? Which unproven QB will play better, Jefferson or Brantley? The Mad Hatter or the Urbanator? I am going to cop out on this one and just pick the home team. Why? Because there is really not a huge difference between the teams. Neither is all that good, but has enough speed to hurt the other. Neither has much offensive leadership. Neither is reliable. What is reliable? The Swamp will be loud. That is the list. Call it boring to just pick the home team, but in college football, it is more important to know that neither team is good and go with that, than to try and convince yourself that one of the teams is actually good.
LSU 13, Florida 17
(17) Michigan State vs (18) Michigan
Denard Robinson is going to win the Heisman barring injury (key phrase there). However, Michigan and Michigan State are both fairly mediocre teams. Both were lucky to beat a pretty crappy Notre Dame team (for different reasons), and neither has shown an especially impressive amount of consistency so far. HOWEVER, that does not mean it will not be a very good game. Both seem to have a penchant for playing close games, and with players as explosive as Denard Robinson, you can be sure to see at least 300 yards of total offense from him alone. The onus will mostly fall on Greg Jones, the phenomenal Michigan State LB, to spy Robinson, but, if one thing is clear from watching Robinson, it takes a team to tackle this guy. The defense cannot afford multiple lapses that allows Robinson to go long ways on the ground. The Notre Dame defense held him down for the most part in the second half by forcing him to pass the ball. He is an accurate passer, but you would clearly rather make him beat your through the air that on the ground. Can Michigan State do that? I have no idea, but I do not think they will. Michigan just seems to own this rivalry, and while Michigan State has the emotional factor on their side with Coach D’Antonio, and the edge in big wins (Wisconsin), I am taking Michigan to beat up its little brother one more time, much to the dismay of Sparty faithful. Oh yeah, it is in the Big House too.
Michigan State 28, Michigan 40
St. Louis Rams vs Detroit Lions
Did this just happen? Did the teams with the #1 and #2 pick in the draft just get dapped up in a picks column? Yup. I could have gone with Giants vs Texans (which will be an awesome watch), Philly vs the 49ers in a big statement game, or the sneaky good game between the Broncos and Ravens (take the Broncos to cover and thank me later). Nope, we went with the Rams and Lions. Why? Because it is a game that will tell us just about everything we need to know about these teams, and should be a very good game.
On one side, we have a team that many are pegging for NFC West (relative) glory in the Rams. Sam Bradford has been every bit as good as Rams fans could have hoped for, Steven Jackson is still on the field, and the defense has been a very pleasant surprise. They look like they are capable of beating everyone in their division (a minimal expectation for a team that might win it), and seem to not make too many mistakes. Keep in mind they also beat the Redskins, a team that many are getting higher on as weeks go by, though not me. This is a team that will probably fail to handle the expectations, but at this point, Rams fans are just ecstatic that their team has expectations. They have already doubled their win total from last year.
The Lions are in a very different position. They are winless, and despite some expectations going into the year, their absolutely brutal schedule has really kept them from putting it all together. We went over the case of the Lions somewhat in our NFL Week 4 Column, but just to summarize, the Lions have been sooooo close, but have just not been able to get over the hump and win a game. They lost close games to the Bears, Packers, and Eagles (combined 8-4 with 2 of the losses coming amongst themselves), and ran into a Minny team that needed a win for their other loss. They have been so close to wins, even without Matthew Stafford, but have just not gotten there.
So which team is going to win? I have the Lions winning here for a few reasons. The Lions have been playing too well to not win a game, and they finally have a beatable team in the Rams. I do not think Shaun Hill will rip the Rams apart, but I think Jahvid Best will run it well and Calvin Johnson will be too hard to cover for the Rams to really shut the Lions down. The added Suh vs Bradford intrigue will also swing the Lions’ way as Suh has been a monster so far, and it will be enough to get the Lions on the board.
Rams 17, Lions 28
Minnesota Vikings vs New York Jets
Allow me to start by saying that all the Monday Night games have been good so far, especially as far as picking is concerned. This week is no different as Randy Moss and his new team go up against Gang Green at the Meadowlands. Here are the Vikings next 4 games: @NYJ, vs Dal, @GB, @NE. If the Vikings lose this one, they could easily be on their way to 1-6ville. And you know what happens in 1-6ville? 40 year old quarterbacks quit, and coaches that look like child molesters get fired. That’s what. The stakes will start to get astronomical if the Vikings do not win this game.
The Jets, on the other hand, have been on of the best teams in the NFL lately, and it is all in thanks to a rejuvenated LaDanian Tomlinson and a surprisingly solid (dare I say explosive?) Mark Sanchez. They have beaten everyone in the division, and sit out in front fairly comfortably. However, they come into this week with a weakened Darrelle Revis, a too-hot-to-keep-it-going label, and massive expectations. Now they might like those titles, as they have brought some of it on themselves, but they have got to be worrying labels for Jets fans. Sanchez is more than due for a stinker and the Vikings defense is certainly good enough to give it to him. Imagine the Vikings stopping the Jets running game and teeing off on Sanchez as he takes 7 step drops. Ouch. Even with Santonio Holmes back, the Jets definitely have room to fall short.
I think Moss gets a few productive plays in (maybe a lob inside the 10), Adrian Peterson finds a few holes in the defense, and everything seems good up in Minnesota for the day. They still have to play that schedule, but they need this game too badly to lose it. And if they do? Say goodbye to the playoffs. Yes, I am going there that early.
VIkings 20, Jets 13
Before we get to the upset special, I have an audio clip for you. CLICK HERE, and skip to the 5:45 mark. Wait for Mike Tomlin to start talking about Brett Keisel. I am immature, get over it. Moving on.
Allow me to apologize again for how dreadful these have been. I tried to make it difficult and seem to be succeeding a bit too heartily. However, we will keep at it all season because we know that is what you want as a faithful reader. You want to see us fail.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5) over Cincinnati Bengals
Yup, I am jumping on the Bengals when they are down. Perhaps scarier is that I am also jumping on the Buccaneers while they are somewhat up. The Bengals are just not running the ball this year, and it was something I feared out of them entering the year. They have become enamored with the pass while using a mediocre quarterback, two aging wide receivers, and an offensive line that is better with the run. They lost to the Browns last week even though T.O. had 222 yards receiving. That is bad. You know what is worse? Losing to the Bucs at home.
This is anything but a sure pick, but the Bucs are coming off a bye, looking somewhat hopeful with Josh Freeman at quarterback, and playing fairly respectable defense against teams not named the Steelers. Do not get me wrong, I think the Buccaneers suck. But, I think they are just good enough to pull the upset against the Bengals. I would be a whole lot confident in the pick if the Bengals had beaten the Browns, but as things are, they seem likely to have a bounce back game against the Bucs. Screw it, I am going with it anyway. Look at my other options:
Tennessee (+7) vs Dallas- I would pick the cover but not a Titans win
San Diego vs Oakland (+6)- Already got the Chargers right once, I think they are figuring it out
Denver (+7) vs Baltimore- I would pick a cover, not a win
KC (+8.5) vs Indianapolis- Nope, not happening
New Orleans vs Arizona (+6.5)- No chance
Yeah, I am pretty limited in choices, so Buccaneers it is. Low confidence rating on this one.
Buccaneers 23, Bengals 16
Last Week: 2-3
Upset Special: 1-3
Record without my crappy Upset picks: 10-6