Durden and I both split last week (7-7), so he kept his six cheeseburger lead with a record of 29-27-6.
I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and the season’s already a quarter of the way through. So no messing around this week, straight to the picks…
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints -3
Mazzone: I feel like every week I find myself saying, “if the Saints don’t win this one, their season is OVER”, and while that doesn’t make any sense after the first week of thinking it, I’m still saying it. We better see a lot of Reggie Bush and DeShaun Foster, mostly because both are starting for my fantasy team this week. Also, there is positive news for the previously cursed Brees later in this post. Combine that with Kris Jenkins saying his Panthers don’t have any heart, and David Carr being at the helm…
Pick: Saints -3
Durden: While both teams have underachieved, you would think the Saints would be the team with internal turmoil, but it’s the Carolina locker room that appears to be shook up. This isn’t me going with New Orleans, it’s me going with the home team coming off a bye.
Pick: Saints -3
Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs +2.5
Mazzone: The Jags haven’t played well coming off bye weeks under Jack Del Rio, and the Chiefs are fresh off two gutsy comeback wins. I really don’t feel good about either of these teams the rest of the season but with a half point in the line, there must be a winner.
Pick: Jags -2.5
Durden: Khalif Barnes is not a model citizen, and he almost literally drove that point home recently. This is not part of the plan for teams with early bye weeks such as the Jags, who now head to KC without Barnes and Meester on their offensive line, against a stout Chiefs defense. Even worse for them, the Chiefs offense may have actually woken up last week and plus, Eddie Kennison is still a threat in the National Football League…just ask him. "Eddie Kennison is still a big threat in the National Football League.” Kennison told the Kansas City Star.
Pick: Chiefs +2.5
Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins -3.5
Mazzone: Common sense would say that if it’s a high scoring game the Lions would win, and if it’s a low scoring game you might want to take the points. But, common sense has me 6 games behind in this competition. The Redskins have the secondary to matchup with the Lions, but they could struggle on offense if Moss is unable to go. I’ll take the home team, fresh off their bye, and pray I don’t get burned by that half point.
Pick: ‘Skin to win -3.5
Durden: Another home team coming off a bye, the Redskins not only have as much talent in their secondary as anybody to match up with the Lions pass game, but they’ve had the extra time to figure out how to contain it. I’m going to go with Washington in spite of their pathetic collapse against the Giants. I’m also going to go with Washington because the Lions showed last week they could be held in check, if only for three quarters. I don’t know how it happened, so I’ll let Rod Marinelli (kind of, but not really) explain it: "This game was probably like me -- ugly," Marinelli said. "It was also like me because it was a fight."
Pick: Redskins -3.5
Atlanta Falcons at Tennessee Titans -8.5
Mazzone: Vince Young may very well “just win football games”, but not typically by 9 points. Joey Heisman has been playing respectable football. Mike Vick is going to PETA meetings. The Falcons seemed to be turning things around, and I was all set to pick them. Then, I saw this video and couldn’t pick a team with a mascot that would break their own cheerleader’s spirit – on her birthday, no less. Then I watched it again, and I laughed, but still decided to go with the Titans.
Pick: Titans -8.5
Durden: Bobby Petrino, the Falcons' first-year coach, picked up his first NFL win on Sunday. He wore a white cap -- after going without anything on his head the previous week -- in hopes of changing the team's fortunes. "I'm not superstitious or anything," he said. "But I was changing it up until we got a win. You'll probably see the white hat for a while." No Bobby, we won’t. I’ll take any team that gets 2 weeks to prepare for Yoey Harrington and the Falcons.
Pick: Titans -8.5
Ronnie Brown at Houston Texans -5.5
Mazzone: My boy attempts to become just the second running back ever to gain 200+ yards from scrimmage in three straight games (Walter Payton). Houston’s offense is pretty banged up, but how healthy do you have to be to hand the ball off and watch your running back go? The Dolphins are allowing an astounding 199.2 yards per game on the ground. The last time anyone came within 25 yards of that was in 1987 (Falcons 182.3 ypg). If the Texans can limit Ronnie Brown, it’s probably over. If not, there’s hope, albeit very little, unless the defense gets its act together.
Pick: Ronnie Brown +5.5
Durden: We know technology is amazing, but check out what it can do for Jason Taylor: "You can Google all the negative emotions and they're all there for me." Jason Taylor told the Miami Herald following the loss to Oakland. Don’t worry though Dol-fans, I’m here to tell you what Joey Porter wants to tell you. The Texans WILL NOT cover on Sunday – I guarantee it.
Pick: Dolphins +5.5
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers -6
Mazzone: There’s nothing quite like hyping up a regular season game as revenge for a championship loss. It will be interesting to see if Tomlin can get his team to rebound, and care about this game as much as those revenge-seeking Seahawks.
Pick: Seahawks +6
Durden: You want to crown the Steelers? Go ahead and crown their asses, but Pittsburgh is exactly who we thought they are, and Arizona did NOT let them off the hook!" Everyone forgets this but, the Seahawks were robbed of the Super Bowl just two seasons ago! I may have doubts about this Seattle team playing up to its potential, but I have faith that the Football Gods will at least throw them some breaks this time around. Sorry Pittsburgh, they can’t all be cupcakes.
Pick: Seahawks +6
Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots -16
Mazzone: I’ve had a complete change of heart with regards to the Browns from the beginning of the season. Not just because they’re playing better, but because it’d be such a great story if Brady Quinn was never able to beat out an over achieving Derek Anderson and was mired on the bench again next season. Braylon Edwards claims they match up well against the Pats, and with the Cowboys on deck this game screams “TRAP GAME” for the Patriots…just kidding, they’re nearly invincible right now...but I’m going to inexplicably take the points anyway.
Pick: Browns +16
Durden: The juices will be flowing on Sunday, and I’m not just talking about Rodney Harrison being back. Romeo Crennel returns to New England for what should be an ass-whoopin, though I have a feeling Belicheat may take it easy on him. It’s not strong enough though, as the Patriots haven’t won by less than 20 points yet, and I’m not picking the Browns to break that streak.
Pick: Patriots -16
Arizona Cardinals at St Louis Rams +3.5
Mazzone: No Anquan Boldin hurts the Cards, but no team is more ravaged by injuries on offense than the Rams. As much as the Cardinals are beatable, and the Rams have to win one somewhere, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I advocated betting on Gus Frerotte minus an offensive line and Steven Jackson.
Pick: Cardinals -3.5
Durden: I refuse to take this platoon at QB seriously. Warner and Leinart are essentially the same QB: pocket passers who couldn’t beat Christopher Reeves in a foot race. So pick the better one and get on with it! Anyways, they head to St. Louis to face a Rams team that isn’t even worth talking about. Hopefully Fox preempts all Brenda Warner shots with a fair warning.
Pick: Cardinals -3.5
New York Jets at New York Giants -3.5
Mazzone: Wasn’t the Giants season done after week two? Now you could make a strong case for 6-2 before their bye. Thomas Jones and the Jets haven’t had a run longer than 12 yards all season (and they already played the worst run D in the NFL). Also, Jets fans cheer dead babies (scroll about 3/4ths of the way down on the link).
Pick: Giants -3.5
Durden: Chad Pennington said, "It's tough not to get happy feet, it's tough not to try to get rid of the ball earlier because of what's happened in the previous plays. That's the hardest thing." It’s not going to get any easier against an aggressive Giant defense, and I also expect the Giants to not struggle much on offense.
Pick: Giants -3.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts -10
Mazzone: [Insert Caddy in the garage/car’s a lemon joke here] I’m excited to see more reruns of Earnest goes to the End Zone, but I’m also still hoping someone exposes the Bucs as the frauds I believe them to be. Who better to do that than Peyton Manning?
Pick: Colts -10
Durden: While I still maintain that the Colts are a “different animal” at home, you can’t ignore the injuries they suffered last week. In addition to losing Rob Morris and Bob Sanders, they could also be without Marvin Harrison and Joseph Addai. I still expect the Colts to win, but I do think the Bucs can keep it close.
Pick: Bucs +10
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos -1
Mazzone: Ironic that the same week a $3,000 billboard is unveiled encouraging Ricky Williams to play for the Broncos, their starting RB is busted by the NFL for smoking weed. Selvin Young’s 15 minutes of fame begin now. He can thank the curse for potentially ending yet another career.
And even though I don’t feel that good about the Chargers, I just feel like the curse may have changed targets from Brees to Keith's Broncos players. Travis Henry is injured and soon to be suspended. Jay Cutler’s not only hobbling, but the curse may even break up his parents, talk about unprecedented.
Pick: Chargers +1
Durden: The Broncos may have just lost Travis Henry, but it’s actually the Chargers’ season that’s up in smoke. Denver hasn’t been able to stop the run, but that shouldn’t keep Rivers and San Diego’s offense from failing to take advantage. I’m really not much more confident in the Broncos right now, but I’m done waiting for the Chargers to show us something. Hey, at least Merriman found the right time to turn the Lights Out on their season. MAR-TY! MAR-TY!
Pick: Broncos -1
Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers +3.5
Mazzone: 49ers porous run defense (130 yards per game allowed) has to find a way to stop McGahee while the Ravens (71 ypg) should be able to handle Gore, but have to find a way to stop…Trent Dilfer? Even so, they’re both unimpressive teams so I’m going with the home team, the points, and the best player in this game (Gore).
Pick: Niners +3.5
Durden: The 49ers should be in trouble, as the Ravens can stop the run and SF doesn’t have the speed/talent outside to help Dilfer get rid of the ball quickly. The Ravens should be in trouble because their QB is Steve McNair, they lead the league in penalties, and their defense continues to give up big plays. Baltimore badly needs to rebound from the embarrassing loss to the Browns so I can try and forget about last week. San Fran could probably use a rebound too, but I really don’t care.
Pick: Ravens -3.5
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers -3.5
Mazzone: Kurt Warner clearly got Brett Favre in touch with the Devil this offseason. So, now they’ve worked out a deal and every one of us is forced to put up with it the rest of the season. Fantastic.
Pick: Packers -3.5
Durden: Sometimes I wish I was a WR on the Packers, so that when Favre tried to pick me up, I could kick him in the face. Brett didn’t care about the record so much (the one that’s the sole reason he’s playing), that he went to the stands to celebrate with his wife and family, during the game. With that said, there was a tie this week for disturbing Favre-ism.
1a) ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli: “As he hiked up his pants on Sunday evening -- one leg at a time, it should be noted, for those Green Bay fans who believe their future Hall of Fame quarterback is a Superman in shoulder pads -- Brett Favre tore off the button on the waistband, and the pair of khakis slid all the way down to his knees.”
1b) Packer WR, Greg Jennings: "He makes us go, as he goes, we go. He puts the buzz in every one of us."
Sorry, but if I have to read this crap, then I have to bring as many people as I can down with me.
Pick: Packers -3.5
Dallas Cowboys at Buffalo Bills -10.5
Mazzone: Who’s psyched to re-live that one sided rivalry from the early 90’s?!?! NFL Schedule-makers, you fail. Dallas 52 – Buffalo 17 sounds familiar.
Pick: Cowboys -10.5
Durden: Best offense in the league meets the worst defense! Whose idea was it to put Buffalo on MNF??? I don’t know either, but it’s probably the same person whose idea it was to give us Giants @ Falcons next week. Well, at least the Cowboys will put on a show for us, and there is no way TO is held quiet two weeks in a row - most certainly not on Monday Night Football.
Pick: Cowboys -10.5
Bet safely, and always believe in football.