Skip to the 40 second mark to avoid the stupid delay thing at the beginning and the F-word.
Why do I include this video? Nope, not because it is just a cool clip. It is because it was how I felt watching most of my picks go down in a blaze of glory. Ok, without glory. Yeah, keep shooting Mac, I’m sure you will hit SOMETHING. Nope. My bad. I actually hit the Upset Special for once (TB over Cincinnati), but did so poorly elsewhere that I was lucky to escape with a 2-3 record. It was frankly just carnage out there this week. Alabama went down, almost no one picked the majority of NFL games right, and we saw some just crazy things happen. Turns out, of those “unlikely” options for the Upset Special, the Cardinals, Raiders, Bucs, and Tennessee all won, meaning that 4 of the 6 options pulled it off. Yeesh.
However, we are back this week and thanks to some true hubris, we will act like last week never happened and keep rolling along strong like we have all season (ummm don’t check my facts on that one).
(12) Arkansas @ (7) Auburn
The SEC is in the middle of a down year. My proof? Other than Florida not being good and LSU being mediocre and undefeated? This game. This game will affirm everything I just said because you will watch and wonder to yourself how these are the 7th and 12th best teams in the country. The quarterback play should be excellent as both Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett have impressed, but just all around, I do not think these teams are as good as they seem. And yet, I think Arkansas can waltz into Jordan-Hare Stadium and come out with a win. I do not especially trust either defense to stop the opposing offense, but I think Cam Newton will crumble (relatively speaking) in the face of the pressure of the big moment. To this point, Auburn has sort of been able to play the “little guy” card and claim that success was not expected of them. Things are a whole lot different when success is expected and not simply a good outcome. All week, all Newton has been hearing is how he could be a pro prospect, and how great he is. Ryan Mallett dealt with that for much of last year, and it showed. Auburn is not ready for prime time, and Arkansas is going to prey on that.
I also just trust Bobby Petrino a lot more than Gene Chizik. Pig Suey.
Arkansas 44, Auburn 35
(1) Ohio State @ (18) Wisconsin
I will admit to not having seen a ton of the Buckeyes or Badgers this year (yes, despite living in Wisconsin). However, there are a couple different arguments as to why each team could win, a few of which make far more sense than the others.
1. Wisconsin almost got them last year, and Ohio State has lost the last two times it was ranked #1.
This one is probably the weakest for me. Wisconsin choked last year, and if anything, that is a positive for Ohio State. They will have no fear if they are down in the 4th quarter. Ohio State’s past is only relevant if it was with the same players. I do not really remember this group being ranked #1 with Terrelle Pryor starting at QB. Neither point seems particularly pro-Wisconsin despite the first impression.
2. Wisconsin is 29-4 at home since 2003.
Both to cite that fact, and just in general, please click this link on Camp Randall, as rated by a blog from Big Ten rival Penn State. They are outstanding at home, and their home, just in general, is outstanding. However, the pink locker room might be less of a help since it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Still, this might be the factor most in Wisconsin’s favor. Well, John Clay is literally bigger, but I think Ohio State can hold Clay and White up fairly well.
3. Ohio State’s receivers are much faster than Wisconsin’s defensive backs
This one seems like a huge deal to me. Speed is big for getting open, obviously, but it also puts more pressure on the DBs to tackle, because if they miss it could be off to the races. All teams face pressures, but ideally those pressures are not present for every single play of the game. Devier Posey should have himself a big day, and once Pryor breaks the pocket, and Posey starts streaking downfield, things could get dicey for Wisconsin. Wisconsin is good, but not nearly as good as they were ranked pre-season.
Apart from those arguments, I know that Tolzien is not that good, is not related to J.R.R. Tolkien, and is therefore unlikely to be the Lord or anything.
Hang on Sloopy, and Terrelle Pryor plays well in big games (maybe).
Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 16
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
Well, according to our Power Rankings, these are the 2nd and 4th best teams, respectively, in the NFL. I’m not sure if that is really the case, but it sure seems like it. The Ravens finally got the ground game going last week as Ray Rice topped 100 yards and they beat up on the still-underrated Broncos. The Pats, on the other hand, dealt Randy Moss, much to the joy of the Ravens, and took the week discussing Justin Bieber and Tom Brady’s hair. And yet… I find myself picking the Patriots. Yeah, the bye week helps, but I almost feel like the removal of Moss was a sign of a change back to the Pats of old. The fact that they brought Branch in (who I think is washed up) certainly furthers that notion, but they are not the behemoths they once were. And that’s not a bad thing. Dinking and dunking works, and while it is certainly not as scary as having a 6’4″ freak to glide down the sideline at impossible speeds, the Patriots have made it work before.
The Ravens, however, killed the Patriots the last time they played, mauling them on the ground in a playoff win in Foxborough. I still think they can push the Patriots around on paper, but I get the sense that the new “team-first” Patriots have something in store for the Ravens, who they have spent the last 2 weeks preparing for. Give Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare for a game and kiss it goodbye.
To me, this is like the game from last year when the Patriots went into New Orleans and got killed. It affirmed the Saints as legitimate threats and they never looked back. I do not think Baltimore is ready to affirm themselves at that level yet. It will be a heck of a game to watch, but I think the Patriots take it and restore some parity at the top of the NFL.
Ravens 20, Patriots 24
Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings
I almost went about a million different directions to avoid talking about this game. I almost decided to talk about how the Chiefs do not have the passing game to take advantage of the Texans’ fatal flaw. I almost talked about how Green Bay’s penalties and injuries vs Miami’s failure to live up to expectations, which is going to be a bad watch. Almost wrote about Titans Jags just so I can keep picking Monday Night games (incorrectly I might add).
But… I just couldn’t stay away. Two of my favorite punching bags in the NFL going at it with the loser getting an appointment with Dr. Kevorkian? To quote the Hispanic pixie in the Dave Chappelle skit, “HOW CAN YOU RESEEEST?” Incompetent coaches. Choker QBs. Ungodly levels of talent. Hilarious failures rationalized by their fans in all the wrong ways (i.e. not blaming Childress/Phillips, Romo/Favre). It will be awesome to witness. To be fair, Vikings fans are far more realistic about this than Cowboys fans, but the organization is so delusional about Brad Childress that it is comical. At least Wade Phillips calls the defense for Dallas.
So why are we picking a couple of 1-3 teams that are jokes? Because they are two playoff teams from last year that could potentially get the ax. Does it hurt that I get to mock two teams that are so similar in their epic failures? Nope. But, it is still a football game and I will, believe it nor not, take the pick seriously despite both teams being sort of a joke right now.
The Vikings hit their stride in that second half against the Jets. Favre (even with the bad elbow) picked things up, we finally got a feeling for what Moss-Harvin would look like (Lord help us when we find out what Sidney Rice adds to this), and the defense stood up. See, this team should be as good as it was last year, and that’s exactly why there is a serious issue with Childress and his team. Players don’t respect coaches who have less backbone than a squid. I feel like Chad Kluwe or Ryan Longwell (punter and kicker) could bully him into getting lunch money if they needed to. However, with all that being said, I still think they can win this game.
The Cowboys have similar problems, though I think Wade Phillips is far more respected than Childress. Their problems are Jason Garrett and Tony Romo. Tony Romo would be one of the top game managers in the league if he was allowed to be. If this team leaned on their chimera of running backs and let Tony Romo pick his spots, they would be 3-1 instead of 1-3. But they don’t. And they won’t. They have too much ego to do it. They did hand Felix Jones the rock last week, but bad penalties, as they tend to with the Cowboys, killed them. There is absolutely no reason any of this will suddenly fix itself this week. The Cowboys will find a way to lose this game. Oh, and in case you forgot, the Vikings completely embarrassed the Cowboys in last year’s playoffs.
The only thing that stops this from going to the Vikings is if Favre’s elbow really acts up.
Cowboys 13, Vikings 30
Here are my options after the self-imposed rule of picking an underdog at least getting 5/4.5 points.
Oakland (+6.5) @ San Francisco
Seattle (+6.5) @ Chicago
St Louis (+8) @ San Diego
Detroit (+10) @ NYG
Cleveland (+13.5) @ Pittsburgh
Tampa Bay (+4.5) @ New Orleans
Kansas City (+4.5) @ Houston
I don’t know about you, but one of those jumps off the page more than the rest. I know, how is Pittsburgh only favored by 2 TDs? But seriously, going through the games, a couple seem likely and one seems almost sure. Pittsburgh and the Giants are locks to win, so it isn’t those games. We picked TB last week, and I do not think they are for real, so count that one out. Kansas City doesn’t have the pass game to take advantage of Houston’s weak D, so it isn’t that one. Seattle isn’t going TO Chicago and pulling it out, and this is about when San Diego starts to figure it out.
Unfortunately, that means we are forced into picking the 2-3 Raiders over the 0-5 49ers. Wait, we can do that? A 0-5 team is favored by almost 7? The Raiders are one Sebastian Janikowski brainfart from being 3-2 and, assuming Jason Campbell doesn’t channel his inner Jamarcus, should be fine all around. Count me in!
Oakland Raiders over San Francisco 49ers
Usually, I have to explain why I would pick such an unlikely upset. Now, I just sort of wonder why I am allowed to pick this. The Raiders are at least as good a running team as San Francisco and are clearly a better passing team purely because they aren’t going to start Alex Smith. Or David Carr for that matter. The Raiders defense is probably as good as San Francisco’s too. Frankly, the only things the 49ers have going for them are home field (though Oakland is just across the Bay), and that they have to win some time. However, the ultimate factor in deciding their fate is the expectation of the win. When they are expected to win (like against the Eagles), they play badly. When expected to lose (like Atlanta and New Orleans), they play well. I cannot figure out if more people are high or low on them, but I just think the Raiders are better than they are.
Raiders 27, 49ers 24
Last Week: 2-3
Overall: 13-12 (While only picking difficult games. Yes this is me justifying my poor performance.)
Upset Special: 2-3