Last week was a very rough week for my NFL office pool picks. Thankfully it was also a rough week for the large majority of others as well because it was such a strange week. Tampa Bay over the Bengals on the road? The Cardinals over the Saints with an undrafted rookie QB? The Raiders over the Chargers? Strange week. Here’s hoping that this week makes more sense. The Bills, Bengals, Cardinals, and Panthers are on their bye weeks. Here’s how the week sets up:
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Seattle at Chicago - There is nothing I like about the Seahawks right now. They are wildly inconsistent, they are short on talent, and they just don’t seem to care. They also are a typically poor road team that is living up to those expectations this year. Chicago isn’t without concerns of their own, but they are strong at home, they are tougher, and they have a defense that should confound the Seahawks. Take the Bears.
Miami at Green Bay - There is hardly anyone on the Packers that isn’t banged up or injured. It’s getting ridiculous. The Dolphins have lost two in a row in rough fashion, but they are coming off a bye week that will allow them to get back to the fundamentals and plan well for this one. They are healthy, too. Take the Dolphins.
San Diego at St. Louis - Both of these teams are confounding. San Diego has all the elements to be an elite squad, but they have lost three of their first five games and have looked lousy doing it. St. Louis had won two straight and it was becoming possible to believe in them, but then they came out last week and got crushed by the Lions. Neither team deserves a lot of trust here, so it’s hard not to go with the more talented team. Take the Chargers.
Baltimore at New England - The Pats exchanged Randy Moss for Deion Branch thanks to two bye week trades. That’s not a good deal. That story gets the headlines, but it’s not the deciding factor here. Baltimore may be the best team in the AFC. They are stunning on defense, and consistently improving on offense. They have won two of three road games, so they travel well enough to stand up to the pressure of this situation. Take the Ravens.
Detroit at New York Giants - Both teams are coming off solid games. The Lions, in particular, were impressive. Detroit’s a lousy road team, though, and they are going to be far more challenged by the New York defense than they were by the Rams last week. There could also be a letdown for them after that big win last week. Take the Giants.
Atlanta at Philadelphia - I’ve been frustrated by several things the Falcons have done this year, but they may be the best team in the NFC right now. Philadelphia has been solid at times,but injuries and youth make them hard to trust against good teams. Atlanta will prove that they are a top contender with a win here. Take the Falcons.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh - The Browns are a lousy team that are particularly lousy on the road. Their defense has been a highlight, but doesn’t match up to Pittsburgh’s. Pittsburgh will get a big boost in this one form the return of Big Ben, and his rustiness should largely be offset by the adrenaline boost. Pittsburgh is just plain better. Take the Steelers.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay - I didn’t think that the Bucs would win three games all year, never mind in their first four games. New Orleans has been wildly inconsistent and frustrating, but they have the offense to test the Tampa Bay defense and the experience to stand up under pressure if the Bucs try to mount a late charge again. Take the Saints.
Kansas City at Houston - I can’t explain how the Chiefs have won three of their first four games this year. I also can’t explain how the Texans have lost two of their three winnable home games this year. In short, both of these teams give me a headache. I hate trusting the Texans, but I don’t feel like I have much of a choice here - when in doubt take the better team. Take the Texans.
New York Jets at Denver - I really like Kyle Orton, but he has to do too much by himself on this team, and he’s going to be challenged to pass as well as he has against the Jets’ secondary. Take the Jets.
Oakland at San Francisco - I am disgusted by the Niners. I came into this season thinking that they were an elite team. They are obviously and frustratingly far from it. Still, at some point they are going to win a game - they are too talented not to. Oakland has struggled with consistency and they aren’t a good road team. Take the Niners.
Dallas at Minnesota - Two of the biggest disappointments in the league. Two quarterbacks who love seeing themselves in the news - though one wishes he wasn’t right now. As hard as it is to believe, one of these teams will be 1-4 and all but eliminated from the playoffs after this game - even though a lot of people thought they would be among the top playoff teams. With teams playing this bad all you can do is decide which one you hate less right now. For me that’s Dallas. Take the Cowboys.
Indianapolis at Washington - Donovan McNabb is finding a way to win, but he certainly hasn’t been impressive all the time while doing so. Indianapolis has exposed more faults than they have had in years. I don’t really trust either team, but when it comes down to Manning versus McNabb the decision is a clear one for me. Take the Colts.
Tennessee at Jacksonville - The Jags have been surprising at times this year, and they have done it largely by finding ways to confound the opposing quarterback. Vince Young is a guy they can definitely confound. Take the Jaguars.
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