Weekly picks: promises, promises

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 15, 2008



Well, we almost delivered on our promise.
 
But if our promises to you continue to go like all those promises we've made to the women in our lives, you'll be in bed with another website in a couple weeks.
 
Last week, we vowed to go at least 9-5 against the spread, and we entered the Monday night game with an 8-5 record. But in keeping with this topsy-turvy season, the formerly invincible Giants didn't just fail to cover against the Browns – they lost the game outright ... by 21.
 
Our 8-6 mark for Week 6 puts us at 42-44-2 ATS for the season. We actually did better against the spread last week than we did straight-up: Our 7-7 week has us at 52-36 (.591) on the year.
 
By the way, while we're on the topic of broken promises, it reminds us, like everything else in our lives of regret, of a cheesy 1980s song. So, before our picks, here's a little classic Naked Eyes for your entertainment pleasure. If you listen closely, you'll hear strains of the Thompson Twins and Bananarama ... ahh, the good ol' days. 
 
show video here
 
 
Looking ahead to Week 7, we offer the following analysis – free of charge, but with plenty of opportunity for shame:
 
Tennessee (-9) at Kansas City         
The Titans are the league's lone unbeaten, thanks to a stifling defense that is tops in both Bendability and Defensive Passer Rating. They should find little difficulty containing a Chiefs team that ranks dead last in Scoreability. Instead of joining a playoff team, unhappy Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez gets smothered by one.
 
The pick: Titans 23, Chiefs 10
 
San Diego at Buffalo (pk)     
After their primetime drubbing of New England, the Chargers have climbed to second place in both Scoreability and Passing Yards Per Attempt. However, they must now fly across the country to play a game at 10 a.m. body-clock time. We always like going against that angle, especially when the home team is comparable (Buffalo ranks in the top 10 in those same two categories) and coming off a bye.
 
The pick: Bills 27, Chargers 24
 
Pittsburgh (-9½) at Cincinnati                                  
Ryan Fitzpatrick will start his third game in place of Carson Palmer, who is contending with ongoing elbow inflammation. The backup Bengals QB has done little to inspire confidence, posting a passer rating of 57.7. His struggles should continue against the Steelers, who rank second in Defensive Hog Index and sixth in Defensive Passer Rating.
 
The pick: Steelers 28, Bengals 13
                       
Baltimore at Miami (-3)                    
Miami's "Wildcat" formation keeps paying dividends, as Chad Pennington threw a touchdown pass from it last week after lining up at wide receiver. The Dolphins may need more gimmicks against Baltimore, which owns the league's second-best Defensive Passer Rating. Miami's only win last season came against these Ravens, so some revenge could be exacted.
 
The pick: Ravens 17, Dolphins 16
 
Dallas (-7) at St. Louis                                  
It has been a quiet week in Big D ... if you don't count the broken pinkie on Tony Romo's throwing hand, the season-ending foot injury to punter Mat McBriar, the suspension of Pacman Jones and the trade for Lions wideout Roy Williams. All of that chaos could conceivably play to the advantage of the home-standing Rams. But St. Louis still sucks statistically, and Dallas needs a confidence-building win before the schedule gets harder (the Bucs and Giants are on deck).
 
The pick: Cowboys 26, Rams 17
 
Minnesota at Chicago (-3)                            
Both of these NFC North rivals are 3-3 and have been competitive in every game. Adrian Peterson carried Minnesota to victory in the two meetings last year, rushing for over 300 yards and five touchdowns. But an improved Chicago run defense, which currently ranks No. 5 after being No. 24 a year ago, could yield a different result this time around.
 
The pick: Bears 20, Vikings 16
 
New Orleans at Carolina (-3)                       
Drew Brees continues to be an aerial artist, keeping the Saints in the top spot for Passing Yards Per Attempt (and per game). The Panthers, meanwhile, have been solid on the other side of the ball, ranking in the top 10 for Defensive Hog Index, Defensive Passer Rating and Bendability. With the probable returns of WR Marques Colston and TE Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans has the weapons to score the upset.
 
The pick: Saints 30, Panthers 24
 
San Francisco at N.Y. Giants (-10½)                       
Believe or not, the 49ers made this same trip for an early game on Week 7 last year. The result was a 33-15 Giants victory that looked more respectable because of a meaningless TD in the final seconds. Coming off the aforementioned 21-point loss, the defending champs should return to form.
 
The pick: Giants 31, 49ers 20
 
Detroit at Houston (-9)         
The safety that Lions QB Dan Orlovsky took last week wasn't a case of one misstep – he was completely out of the end zone for several strides before the referee's whistle alerted him. Now that Jon Kitna has been placed on injured reserve, Detroit can look forward to that kind of pocket awareness for the rest of the season. Orlovsky's second career start doesn't figure to go well.
 
The pick: Texans 34, Lions 20
 
N.Y. Jets (-3) at Oakland     
When Oakland jumped out to a 3-0 lead last week, Tom Cable was probably thinking "this coaching stuff is easy." Sadly, the Raiders didn't put up another point. They now rank fourth-worst in Scoreability, while the Jets lead that category – making a field goal a manageable impost.
 
The pick: Jets 24, Raiders 17
 
Cleveland at Washington (-7½)
The Browns, who just knocked off a previously unbeaten team, are underdogs of more than a touchdown to the Redskins, who just lost to a previously winless team? Like the denizens of the Dawg Pound, we'll bite. Cleveland actually ranks third in Bendability and fifth in Defensive Passer Rating – two reasons this game could stay within the number.
 
The pick: Redskins 22, Browns 17
 
Indianapolis (-2) at Green Bay                                 
Just as Peyton Manning starts looking like his old self following two preseason knee surgeries, running back Joseph Addai is lost to a hamstring injury. The Colts could also use help in the front seven, as they rank No. 25 in our Defensive Hog Index. The Packers, No. 6 in Scoreability, should put up just enough points to get the home win.
 
The pick: Packers 24, Colts 23
 
Seattle at Tampa Bay (-10½)                       
The two expansion teams from 1976 have each been to a recent Super Bowl, but they are now headed in opposite directions. The Buccaneers top our Relativity Index, having limited the productivity of far better offenses than Seattle's, which will be without QB Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks are languishing near the bottom of almost all of our Quality Stats, indicating that this could be a blowout.
 
The pick: Buccaneers 31, Seahawks 13
 
Denver at New England (-3)
These perennial AFC powers have winning records, but both are coming off losses that have raised doubts. The Broncos rank fourth in Passing Yards Per Attempt, and they will oppose a Patriots defense that is No. 26 in Defensive Passer Rating. With Matt Cassel under center, New England doesn't generate enough offense to trade points with explosive teams.
 
The pick: Broncos 23, Patriots 20

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