I’m coming off my best weekend of the year so far — enough to win some cash from most office pools. Now, in the first week in far too long that we don’t have to deal with a bye week. We also get to enjoy the best single day of the NFL season — a triple-header plus more turkey and fixings than any human being would need to consume to survive for a month. What could be better? I’ll tell you one thing better — all that plus winning some more cash. Let’s find us some straight up winners for our office pools:
Houston at Detroit - Almost losing to Jacksonville doesn’t help Houston’s case here — especially when the Lions came very close to beating a strong Packers team. The Texans get some credit, though, because Chad Henne is an underrated quarterback who was very comfortable in relief, and Houston wasn’t expecting him. Detroit, meanwhile, is having a heck of a time getting their offense working. Take the Texans.
Washington at Dallas - Dallas needed overtime and a lot of luck to win last week. At home. Against freaking Cleveland. The Redskins, meanwhile, were almost as good as they could possibly have been to beat Philadelphia. I have some issues with both teams, but I’ll take a gamble on the Redskins because they are playing to their potential and beyond while the Cowboys are, as always, a disappointment. Take the Redskins.
New England at New York Jets - The Patriots may be the best team in football right now — though that’s not saying much given how strange this NFL season has been. The Jets really, really aren’t the best team — or even close to it. This one shouldn’t be close. Take the Patriots.
Oakland at Cincinnati - I detest the Bengals and have no respect for Marvin Lewis. For the second week in a row, though, I have no choice but to pick them because they are against a team more frustrating and more troubled than they are — and that’s saying something. Take the Bengals.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland - Ben Roethlisberger is out. So, likely, is Byron Leftwich. Next lamb for slaughter? Charlie Batch. The good news for the Steelers is that they are one of the very few teams in the league with three decent options at QB. Take the Steelers.
Buffalo at Indianapolis - The Colts got a seat at the big boy table last weekend, and they proved that they weren’t quite ready for prime time. This week they get a somewhat easier game. This will be a very good test of what this team is made of. Can they pick themselves up and fight again, or will they just feel sorry for themselves? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt — for now. Take the Colts.
Tennessee at Jacksonville - Chad Henne was very impressive in relief last week, and his chemistry with Justin Blackmon must have been a joy for both players. He’s starting this week, and I like his chances of continuing his success — he’s an underrated player hungry to prove it. Take the Jaguars.
Denver at Kansas City - The Chiefs? You obviously can’t take the Chiefs. Even if they were playing a scrimmage against themselves you wouldn’t take them. Take the Broncos.
Minnesota at Chicago - I’m not high on the Vikings right now. On the road against a strong defense I just can’t justify picking them — even if I don’t love Chicago’s offense. Take the Bears.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay - The records say I’m about to gamble here, but I feel good about it. The Falcons were terrible last week — five interceptions and spotty defense. They are not nearly as good as their 9-1 record right now. They face a Tampa Bay team that is confident, playing well on offense in all phases and is just plain gritty. Take the Bucs.
Seattle at Miami - A couple of weeks ago I was very high on these Dolphins. I’m not anymore. Their offense is broken, and they are too sloppy. Seattle comes into this one rested, and their defense will make it hard for Tannehill and company. Take the Seahawks.
Baltimore at San Diego - I wouldn’t pick the Chargers against any good team in the league right now. Danario Alexander is a great story, but he’s the only bright spot for this heartless team. Rivers is lousy, and the focus is pathetic. Take the Ravens.
San Francisco at New Orleans - At the beginning of the year this was clearly the highlight game of this week of the season. Then, for several weeks, it wasn’t. Now, with the Saints playing very well all of a sudden, it is again. Despite their inconsistencies, though, I still believe in the Niners and their defense. Take the 49ers.
St. Louis at Arizona - Arizona has the worst quarterback situation in the league right now — and that’s really saying something given what we see in Kansas City and with the Jets. St. Louis isn’t a great team, but they are clearly the better one here. Take the Rams.
Green Bay at New York Giants - If I had a coin right now I’d flip it. I can construct scenarios to support either team. This one is close. In the end I’ll just be purely subjective — I can’t stand Eli Manning and haven’t been able to since his days at Ole Miss, so take the Packers.
Carolina at Philadelphia - Regardless of who you pick in this one, just don’t watch it. This is a terrible, terrible game — the worst prime time game of the season. Both teams are broken. Take the Panthers. I guess.
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