With last week’s 7-6-3 record, Durden moved to two games over .500 for the season (22-20-6). As severely average as that is, it’s good enough for a commanding and embarrassing six cheeseburger lead over me. Fortunately, the season’s 17 weeks long, and I’m reminded of a quote from a very wise man. “It’s not a race, it’s a marathon!” EXACTLY.
Between the Mets, Dolphins, and my pick’em record, I was barely able to muster up the energy to get through these picks. Hopefully Durden will pick up the slack with regards to the entertainment value…
So, the bye weeks are upon us, and none too soon for the kursed Saints. I’m anxious to see what happens. Does the kurse take the week off? Does it find a new target (temporary or permanent)? Do the Saints somehow come out of their bye week 0-4? Only time will tell…
As for the teams that are playing, here’s your ticket to free money...
Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins -4
Mazzone: The Miami defense thought this week was a good time to hold a meeting to try and solve the crappiness. Travis Daniels claims they have, “Everybody got together today and had our talk and we know what we've got to do…We're going to be clicking on all cylinders.” Nice of them to take the time to sort that out, I feel much better now. Joey Porter’s guaranteeing victory, “Write it how you want to write it. We will win on Sunday.” While Cam Cam said we might get a look at Cleo Lemon this week…on special teams. “…I say everybody is available. Now, is Cleo Lemon going to run down on a kickoff? He might, but we're going to do whatever we think we need to do to win a football game.” Who the hell knows.
Pick: Dolphins -4 (planning a game preview for Saturday)
Durden: I'm really not big on players making stupid guarantees, but I'll let Mazzone touch more on that in his Dolphins' preview. The real storyline for me is Daunte returning to Miami, and while I think he could be capable of pulling out a win on Sunday, it would really add salt to the already painful wound that was last week's loss for Dol-fans. I won't be rooting for that, and I really don't feel strongly enough about either team here, so I'm just going to stick with the (TPS) home team.
Pick: Dolphins -4
Houston Texans @ Atlanta Falcons +3
Mazzone: I have a bad feeling about this one. Aside from DeAngelo Hall, the Falcons almost looked like a professional football team last week. Due to injuries, the Texans best offensive weapon is now a 4th string WR with a dislocated finger, never a good sign. I know most are expecting a big day, but I’m worried Schaub could be in for a dogfight (too soon?) and may try to do too much in his return to the ATL. I still think the Texans are in it for the long haul, but they could trip here and need to get healthy on offense. In related news, Vick is doing everything he can to get back to football ASAP.
Pick: Falcons +3
Durden: I really do think the Falcons are due for a surprise win or 2 before their bye week. That's not exactly going out on a limb though, since any win for them would be a surprise at this point. I'd also like to think the Football Gods cut Falcon fans some slack here and let them at least beat Matt Schaub, but I just can't pick Yoey Harrington. Plus, I gotta give Houston some credit for hanging tough against the Colts last week.
Pick: Texans -3
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns +5
Mazzone: I ALWAYS get this game wrong. Over the last three years, I’d guess I was 0-6 against the number when these two teams play. In my defense, those games were quarterbacked by the likes of Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Steve McNair, Derek Anderson, Jeff Garcia, Charlie Frye – if you can figure those f#@*^&s out then you are a better man than I. Conventional wisdom tells me to just take the points and the home team, but since I’m always wrong on this game…
Pick: Ravens -5
Durden: I hate the Browns more than any other team, with only the Steelers even coming close. Instead of really getting into that though, I'll just leave you with a couple of recent quotes that will let you know where my head's at, regarding my pick.
- "That's what it smells like," Bart Scott said. "It's on a landfill that's toxic, and I think it gets to some of the fans' heads a little bit. They struck up the lake and put it on a landfill, and all of the algae and stuff is coming up through the end zone. "We're going to take some soil samples. Before I go out there and play on the field, I usually put some hydrocortisone on to make sure that I'll be straight when I hit the ground. They have a lot of staph infections out there.
- "Offensively, we couldn't get untracked," coach Romeo Crennel said. "Defensively, we couldn't stop them. They threw it, they ran it. We couldn't stop the run no matter what front we happened to be in. We were out of position a lot."
Pick: Ravens -5
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions +3
Mazzone: The focus will be on the QB change, where the Sex Cannon was moved to the bench in favor of Brian Griese, but the bigger problem going forward for the Bears will be the lack of healthy bodies on defense. Mike Brown’s on injured reserve along with Dusty Dvoracek, starting corners Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman are both out this week (what do they plan to do against Martz’s 5 WR sets?), Urlacher, Briggs, and Alex Brown are all nursing injuries. In the past, it wouldn’t be a big deal to give some ailing players the week off with the Lions coming to town, but these aren’t your father’s Lions! I try to like Roy Williams but every time he opens his mouth he makes it damn near impossible.
Pick: Lions +3
Durden: Unlike Roy Wiliams, the Lions' defense is far from stingy. Hell, Bob Griese could probably suit up and do some serious damage on Sunday. However, the Bears' secondary (and defense, overall) is decimated with injuries, and that is especially bad news going on the road against the Lions' potent aerial attack.
Pick: Lions +3
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings +2
Mazzone: I’m gonna let Darren Sharper’s comments in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel handle this one for me:
“Former Packers safety Darren Sharper said the Vikings are well aware that quarterback Brett Favre has a good chance of breaking an NFL record inside the Metrodome.
"Yeah, he does," Sharper said. "He's three away."
Sharper, of course, was referring to the all-time NFL interception record Favre is closing in on, not the all-time touchdown mark. Sharper picked off Favre last year for the first time in a 9-7 loss at Lambeau Field and would like nothing more than to add to Favre's career total of 275.
"The interception record? That's the only record I'm thinking about," Sharper said.”
I couldn’t agree more, in fact, I’m hoping that third INT gets returned to the house so I can make jokes about Fav-ruh breaking the INT and TD records on the same play.
Pick: Vikings +2
Durden: Similar to the Lions in Week 1, the Packers won't be able to run on Minnesota, but they probably aren't planning on doing much running either. You can think the Vikings stand a chance this Sunday, or you can think like Packer LB Nick Barnett: "I thought we could be 3-0. I think we could be 16-0." By the way, here's the latest of Favre-ism (courtesy of Sean Salisbury): "He's got the guts of a burglar." Gotta go with the Pack again, but please, wake me when this dream start of theirs is over. Pick: Packers -2
TPS LOVES (read: loathes) people gushing over Favre.
St. Louis Rams @ Dallas Cowboys -13
Mazzone: Most of the offensive line is incapacitated, or at the very least, banged up. Marc Bulger is playing with broken ribs, Tory Holt with a bum knee, Steven Jackson is out with a torn groin and Brian Leonard is on Keith’s fantasy team. The Cowboys have already proven they can put up points, while the Rams are 29th in points scored and don’t play much defense either. Outside of just having a hunch, or thinking Jacque Reeves is lining up at all 11 defensive positions, there’s no real reason to think this one won’t get ugly in a hurry.
Pick: Cowboys -13
Durden: I have an angry plea for Nike, on behalf of many fantasy owners: STOP SHOWING THE STEVEN JACKSON COMMERCIAL. The next time he hurdles over anybody this season, will probably be the first. In related news, the 2007 St. Louis Rams are dead to me and they shouldn't stand a chance at Dallas, especially with an injury list that seems to be growing exponentially.
Pick: Cowboys -13
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills +3.5
Mazzone: The Bills are a complete mess, but this video is encouraging as it shows Kevin Everett’s fighting spirit has lead to astounding progress in his recovery…
Pick: Jets -3.5
Durden: The Bills are another team that has just been crushed by injuries. The difference between them and the Rams, is that the Bills never had a chance to be good in the first place. Maybe it's a sucker bet, but I don't see how the Bills should be getting anything less than 7 against non-comatose teams.
Pick: Jets -3.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers -3
Mazzone: Say what you want about Tampa (and I have), but Chucky has this team playing some football despite a lack of talent. Combine that with the fact that there’s a good chance the guy on the right could be at QB for Carolina and it’s tough to like the Panthers. But, I’m really stubborn and refusing to buy into the Bucs, so…
Pick: Panthers -3
Durden: Ironically, a man known to some as Delhomo, may have drawn the ire of Village People fans everywhere. Jake, on coming out (of last week's game, not the closet): "It was just kind of bothering me a little bit," Delhomme said. "I didn't want to be macho." Unfortunately for Carolina, his backup has been seen exploring his femininity as well. I'll go with the team whose QB at least pretends he's a manly man's man.
Pick: Bucs +3
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers +1.5
Mazzone: I have nothing to say about this one as both teams are uninteresting and playing poorly, but are somehow 2-1. However, I do have an amusing article on dirty and racist race horse names.
Pick: Seahawks -1.5
Durden: Apparently, it's true that teams in the Northwest are completely ignored, because Seattle is a team that Keith has quietly been sabotaging since they reached the Super Bowl. Can anyone else explain how a team who has only bolstered an already talented roster (in a weak division/conference), has managed to actually get worse since they were robbed of the Super Bowl trophy?? Alexander and Branch have been two of Keith's best players, but instead of laying low, he snatched up their Defense this week. Still, I think the Kurse gives him a break this week, yet the Seahawks will keep this one far more interesting than it should be against an inferior 49er team.
Pick: Seahawks -1.5
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Arizona Cardinals +6
Mazzone: TPS has been saying all along that the Steelers won’t get tested ‘til about midseason. While that should be the case, if there was ever a let-down game in the works it’d be right here. This game means a lot more to Whisenhunt and Grimm than it does to Tomlin. The Cardinals haven’t been terrible (11th in total offense/14th in total defense), they just can’t put a full game together. Maybe a little extra motivation and preparation, along with home field advantage, will be what they need to make this one interesting.
Pick: Cardinals +6
Durden: When I cited Brenda Warner's love for God in Week 1 while discussing Jon Kitna's potential this season, due to his similarly fanatical faith, it may have actually woken up the Warners. Maybe nobody deserves to even be in the same sentence as the Warners when it comes to loving God. I mean, since then, Kitna's suffered a concussion that required a miracle to heal and the Cardinals have created a platoon situation at QB. Dear Tiny Jesus, in your golden fleece diapers with your tiny, little fat balled up fists, please make the damn Steelers lose for once. Ah, who am I kidding? God punishes Arizona for not giving K-Dub the start.
Pick: Steelers -6
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers -12.5
Mazzone: I went to war with the Chiefs in my survivor/suicide pool last week. To show my appreciation for their comeback win, I’m giving them 12.5 points this week. Which is generous, because without it, they’d probably end up with 3.
Pick: Chargers -12.5
Durden: This game is as good as any for the Chargers offense to break out. I really think the line is too high here, but if San Diego does indeed go off, it won't matter against with the Chiefs' miserable offense.
Pick: Chargers -12.5
Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts -9.5
Mazzone: Hopefully Javon Walker, John Lynch, and Jay Cutler are able to play at close to full strength, otherwise it could be a long day. But, I do think the Broncos are better than they’ve shown and they have the DB’s to be able to keep Peyton in check… as much as you can keep Peyton in check, anyway. If you’re not sold on the Broncos, here’s an article about Peyton Manning and his boyfriend.
Pick: Broncos +9.5
Durden: While the Broncos are as equipped to handle the Colts' pass game as well as anyone, and should be able to run well on Indy, I'm simply tired of Denver letting me down. In spite of their 2-1 record, I still think they're far better than they've shown, but they're going to have to prove it first. The Colts have been in some close games themselves, but they're a different animal at home.
Pick: Colts -9.5
**Note: We never see each other’s picks/write-ups until they are posted. The similarities in this one are uncanny, and yet we picked different teams, go figure.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants +2.5
Mazzone: McNabb is coming off his perfect game, and the Giants off a stellar comeback. Has the Philly offense turned the corner? What about the Giants defense? It’s a critical game for both teams. A Giants win would turn the season around in a hurry as they’d be 2-2 with a schedule that shows five very winnable games (Jets, @ Falcons, 49ers, Dolphins in London) heading into their week 9 bye. What I don’t know is how effective B-rabbit will be with ailing ribs, if he plays at all. I also don’t know if McNabb will be able to find Curtis without the Non-hetero uniforms being on display. What I do know is Drew Brees is on a bye this week, and my cursed brother is a Giants fan that will be going to the game, you do the math.
Eagles 19- Giants 17 on the leg of David Akers 4 FGs including the game winner as time expires.
Pick: Giants +2.5
Durden: People said McNabb wasn't likely to be criticized after last week's performance, but I don't get it. Isn't he still black? Anyways, I'm actually going to be at this game and am very excited about it. Was Eli ever that injured to begin with? Regardless, he, Plax and Ward have really been the only Giants who have impressed me thus far, but if Manning has been throwing with a separated shoulder, he deserves more credit than he's gotten. For my own sake, I hope it's a close one but I would be surprised if the Eagles didn't win. This isn't to take away from New York's victory last week, but as much as the G-Men fought back, the Redskins were really pathetic in rolling over.
Pick: Eagles -2.5
New England Patriots @ Cincinnati Bengals +7.5
Mazzone: Good coaches win. Great coaches cover.
Pick: Patriots -7.5
Durden: After last week's game, Carson Palmer said he was "very disappointed not to get the ball back because we were going to take the ball down the field." Chad Johnson cockily added: "We could beat them on anything we wanted to beat them on." This was apparently on anything except in the game itself. Of course, I don't know why they bother explaining it because we probably just don't understand. It's probably only because I'm not capable of "understanding" the Bengals, but I see more of the same from the Patriots on MNF.
Pick: Patriots -7.5
Enjoy the games, bet safely (against me), and always believe in football.