Due to some travel on Friday, we were not able to get the picks in before Saturday’s college football games. I had TCU over Utah, but that really does you no good now, since it already happened. How can I make it up to you? You want me to pick 5 NFL games instead of splitting it? Deal. Screw this intro, let’s get to the picks.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
I have been back and forth about 100 times on this one. If I was a Chiefs fan, I’d like my chances. The Chiefs definitely have what it takes to stop the Raiders attack, and Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones should be able to find some running room against the Raiders. As a Chiefs fan, I even like my chances on Special Teams with Dexter McCluster. If I am a Raiders fan, I am thrilled. 4-4, a home game to knock the division leader down a peg, and all the tools to do it. With the Raiders’ defensive style of going man to man around the outside, and putting 8 in the box, I like my chances of stopping the Chiefs. I love the idea of Matt Cassel having to beat me if I am a Raiders fan.
The big problem is how similar they are. Powerful running games, solid defenses for their situations, and on a roll. I think the pick basically has to come down to whether you like Oakland chances at home in a big game (for them), or if you like the consistency the Chiefs have shown this year and think that the Raiders are due for a let down.
The worst thing is that I generally like both of those things to happen. I am going with the Raiders, but it feels like nothing separates these teams. It could be a long week for pickin’ em.
Chiefs 19, Raiders 20
San Diego Chargers @ Houston Texans
This is probably the most intriguing game of the weekend. You get the Chargers off a pretty solid showing against Tennesseee against a Houston team that was really held under control by the Colts on Monday night. Rivers vs the horrible pass defense in Houston would seem to be the deciding factor, but the Chargers complete lack of special teams gives plenty of hope for Houston fans. Just the fact that the Chargers have the #1 offense and #1 defense and are below .500 should tell you all you need to know about them; they find ways to lose games.
I am taking Rivers over the Houston defense, but I really do not know if the Chargers are about to go on their traditional November tear, or if they just showed up, for once, last week. Arian Foster could come out and run the Chargers over, but I just like the Chargers here. And that is saying something.
Yes, even without Antonio Gates.
Chargers 34, Texans 27
Indianapolis Colts @ Philadelphia Eagles
I am not sure if I could be more ambivalent about this game. The best way to beat the Colts is to run the ball and keep it away from Peyton Manning, and if there was ever something that Andy Reid could not do (other than restrain himself at the buffet), it is run the ball. I mean if the Eagles were genuinely better than the Colts, that would not be a huge deal, but they aren’t. That lack of a running game is a serious problem. However, Andy Reid is 11-0 all-time off a bye and he gets Michael Vick and Desean Jackson back.
I guess the question to ask going into the game is whether you trust the Colts system more, even without so many players, or if you like every other rule of football. The Colts are coming off a must-win on a short week against a team coming off a bye week that does not lose off bye weeks. Basically picking the Colts means you reject logic in the case of the Colts, but that is somehow ok, because the Colts have defied logic before by being one of the best teams ever without a running game. Logic may need not apply in the case of the Colts, but should it apply for this game?
I think the loss of Joseph Addai and Mike Hart is a huge deal in picking up the Eagles’ double A gap blitzes, and they will get to Manning a little more than usual. COnsider this pick one of zero confidence. That and you KNOW I wouldn’t jinx my team.
Colts 24, Eagles 27
Chicago Bears @ Buffalo Bills in Toronto
Give me the Bills! They have got to win at some point, right? They are playing well, are playing a very mediocre Bears team, and have got to smell blood. However, there are a few serious problems. The Bills have 11 sacks this season. Yeah, 11. For a team that is going to need to get after Jay Cutler to succeed, that is not too promising. THe other problem is that the game is being played in Toronto, where the Bills, possibly in an act of Buffalo self-defense, never play well. If this game was being played in Buffalo, I would not even hesitate to pick the Bills, but all clarity about this Bills pick is ruined by the Toronto effect. I am going with my heart over my head here, but I do not think I am alone in picking the Bills and hoping they pull it out.
Bears 19, Bills 23
Do we have an upset special this week? Nope. If I had gotten the column in in time I could have dipped into the college games to find the upset, but given the reality of the situation and utter lack of upset candidates I can believe in, I cannot do it. I have one in mind that comes close, but I cannot bring myself to pick it. Some would say it is because I do not have the balls. I think it is much closer that I do not lack a brain.
New England Patriots @ Cleveland Browns (+4.5)
Psssst. Yeah, you. Don’t tell anyone, but the Browns are pretty good. Now, Bill Belichick does always go out of this way to kick the crap out of Eric Mangini, but once upon a time Mangini beat up Belichick in New York, and I think he can replicate some of that in Cleveland. A little known fact amongst the younger generations is that Bill Belichick was once the coach of the Browns, and he sucked at it. Yeah, Mr. Genius Belichick couldn’t do a damn thing with the team. Woe, is Cleveland, right? Yeah, but the point is that the city still hates him more than you would think. The bottom line here, however, is that the Browns are much better than you think, and the Patriots are not as good as everyone thinks. Throw in that it is a road game in a city that is going to smell a fight and things could get tricky for the Patriots. It isn’t like Tom Brady has been racking up lots of points lately anyway. He got shut down by the Chargers, and only managed 21 points against the Vikings in Foxborough. This is the Browns time!!!
To cover at least.
Patriots 21, Browns 20
Admittedly, that was not the most aesthetically pleasing column, but the constraints of time are very real. We will be back next week with a much more detailed, fun, pick’em column.