This week in sports: F*ck if anyone knows.

I love this picture. It makes me so happy reminiscing how great LaDainian Tomlinson was (is?). It also illustrates the proper way to execute a stiff arm. 1) Place the heel of your hand just under the facemask of the defender. 2) Do not close your fingers because you will be called for a penalty. 3) Shove the defender's helmet off his head. It's a simple three step process. This week, as always, I'm taking the Chargers minus whatever. If the Chargers don't allow a special teams touchdown, I imagine they will win by 30 or so. As for the rest of the league, there are a few bad teams, a few good teams and a lot of teams in the middle that no one including the teams themselves have any idea about. I feel like I'll be taking a lot of points this week.

Seattle @ Chicago (-6.5): The Bears are 4-1? Seattle has the best point differential in the NFC West (-2)? That's right, there's not a single team in the NFC West that has scored more points than it has allowed. The Bears get the no longer concussed Jay Cutler back and Matt Forte is finally averaging 4 yards a carry. All it took was 166 yards rushing on 22 carries to get there. I don't really have much confidence in either team. I think the Bears are better and should win, but [shortcut] I'm still taking the Seahawks plus the points.
Not so bold prediction: Jay Cutler throws an interception.
Bold prediction: No one gets over 100 yards rushing or receiving in this game.

Miami @ Green Bay (OFF): Due to the uncertainty surrounding Aaron Rodgers and his concussion status, Yahoo's pick 'em does not have a spread for this game and it reverts to zero. After doing a little research, other places have Green Bay favored by 3 or 4. Let's say it's 3.5 and I'll take Miami and the points. Green Bay has been one of the better balances of good offense and defense, but they are getting injured and at 3-2, they just don't look like the pre-season NFC favorite everyone thought they would be. I still think the Packers win the division and a playoff game, but I want to see them play well before giving points to a Miami team that plays tougher than their stats and record indicates. The Dolphins might be in the top half of the league, but they are still behind New England and the Jets in their own division and it's going to be hard to come in third and make the playoffs.
Not so bold prediction: Brandon Marshall leads both teams in receiving yards.
Bold prediction: There will be a fumble or touchdown on special teams.

Baltimore @ New England (-2.5): The Patriots offense has been great (leading the league in points scored per game) and the Baltimore defense has only been average. The Patriots defense is really bad (even with Patrick Chung's all world performance against Miami, they still gave up 400 yards of offense) and Baltimore has a lot of weapons on offense (Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin...). I think this game will be an entertaining, fantasy friendly shootout. In the end, I think Tom Brady is a better QB than Joe Flacco and New England wins by at least a field goal.
Not so bold prediction: There will be over 600 yards of offense in this game.
Bold prediction: Someone has 30+ fantasy points (I'm looking at you Tom Brady and Ray Rice).

Detroit @ NY Giants (-10): The confusion from last week about the Giants should be kind of cleared up and transferred to the Texans with their 34-10 domination over Houston. The Lions are 1-4 with a positive point differential thanks to their 44-6 win over the Rams. Are the Lions bad? Kind of bad? Close, but no cigar? Are the Giants good or really good? The Lions actually have a better point differential than the Giants despite two fewer wins. I think this game will be more like Philly's 35-32 win over Detroit or the Packer's 28-26 victory over the Lions than the Giants thrashing of the Texans. I'll take the Lions and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Ahmad Bradshaw leads both teams in rushing.
Bold prediction: Hakeem Nicks leads both teams in receiving yards.

Atlanta @ Philadelphia (-3): Atlanta is 4-1 with the best point differential in the NFC. They have won close games against the Saints and the 49ers (sorry Scott and MP). They have won big against the Cardinals and the Browns. The Eagles have the best backup QB in the NFL, except no one knows if that is Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick. Both have come into games to take over for the injured starter and done well (but ended up losing both games). Every time the Eagles starting QB has finished the game, they have won (aren't small sample sizes fun?). Are the Falcons good, or just lucky (Saints missed 29 yard field goal in overtime and the 49ers fumble away a game icing interception)? Are the Eagles potentially really good except their starting QB keeps getting injured? Both teams do a good job not throwing interceptions and their defenses are both top four in intercepting the other team. Whoever throws more interceptions loses. I think this will be a well-played game between two good teams with a close final score, and as I always do in this situation, I'll take the Falcons and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Roddy White leads both teams in catches.
Bold prediction: There will be a tying or winning score OR a turnover in the last 1:30 of the game.

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-13.5): Ben Roethlisberger returns to a 3-1 Steelers team with a dominant defense. Troy Polamalu is the best defensive player in the NFL right now (I say Antonio Gates is the best offensive player in the NFL right now...and that's only 60% homer talking). Peyton Hillis is banged up and the Browns are starting rookie Colt McCoy, who is making his NFL debut (Why? I guess the theory would be that he can go ahead and get the worst game of his career out of the way. He'll have no where to go but up. The expectations will be so low, he's guaranteed to exceed expectations.). I might put a defensive touchdown as a 'Not so bold' prediction. Cleveland really isn't that bad, but I'm stealing Bill Simmons' joke and saying that Pittsburgh's defense is likely to outscore the Browns. I'll take the Steelers minus lots and lots of points.
Not so bold prediction: Rashard Mendenhall runs for over 100 yards.
Bold prediction: Hines Ward scores a TD. (Because he's on my fantasy team and I'm hoping really hard.)

New Orleans (-4) @ Tampa Bay: People know the Super Bowl was eight months ago, right? The Saints are average on offense and defense (except for Drew Brees who is still completing over 70% of his passes...seriously 70%!!) and actually have a negative point differential and a 3-2 record. They are currently in third place behind the 3-1 Buccaneers. The Bucs best fantasy player is Josh Freeman, who is about the 20th best QB. They are unknown, but as I mentioned three weeks ago, they're frisky. This week has a lot of games that I would not be surprised if I was wrong. I picked Detroit +10, but I would not be surprised if the Giants won by 30. I picked Pittsburgh -13.5, but I would not be surprised if they won 10-7. Now, I'm taking the Bucs and the points, but I won't be surprised if the Saints offense comes together and puts up 40 points.
Not so bold prediction: Drew Brees throws for more yards than Josh Freeman.
Bold prediction: Tampa Bay catches more interceptions than New Orleans.

Kansas City @ Houston (-4.5): So the Colts beat the Chiefs and all is right with the world. Kansas City's 3-0 start was fluky because their quarterback is bad. And Houston showed it was a good team by holding it's own against the Giants. What's that? The Chiefs held the Colts to their lowest score of the year? And the Giants held Matt Schaub under 200 yards passing? And Arian Foster, the league's leading rusher only had 25 yards? While I still think Kansas City's quarterback is bad enough to keep them out of the playoffs and Houston could win this game at home, I will gladly take the Chiefs and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Matt Schaub throws for more yards than Matt Cassel.
Bold prediction: Jamaal Charles scores a TD of at least 50 yards. (Yes, this is the same bold prediction as last week...I'm trying it again.)

Carolina @ BYE (-2.5): I'll take the BYE and lay the points.

New York Jets (-3) @ Denver: So the Jets had a Monday night game and now they are flying across two time zones to play in the thin air? I guess that's why they are only favored by 3. Kyle Orton is throwing the ball all over the place and Darelle Revis' hamstring isn't fully healed. That being said, the Broncos don't even try to run the ball and don't exactly play defense all that well. Mark Sanchez still hasn't thrown an interception and LaDainian Tomlinson looks like LaDainian Tomlinson. The Jets may look sloppy early, but they take care of business and cover.
Not so bold prediction: LaDainian Tomlinson leads both teams in rushing yards.
Bold prediction: Tomlinson rushes for more yards than the Broncos entire team. (The bold part isn't that the Jets will hold the Broncos rushing game in check, but that Shonn Greene won't take away too many carries.)

Oakland @ San Francisco (-6.5): 6.5? 6.5?!?! The Oh and Fivers are favored by 6.5?!?!?!?! You know what, I still think the 49ers are a better team than the Raiders. I wanted to say that Alex Smith has been average and the Raiders keep switching between Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski, but looked up and learned that Smith leads the league in interceptions and the Raiders QBs have been below average. So I guess it's Frank Gore vs. Darren McFadden & Michael Bush. Oakland runs the ball much better, but is second worst in the NFL in stopping the run. I think this game sucks overall and I'll be cheering for the Raiders to lose, but I'll take the Raiders and the points. Although, it will be interesting to see which tight end has more fantasy points.
Not so bold prediction: This game is all kinds of ugly. Dropped passes, missed kicks, fumbles, inaccurate QBs, penalties galore.
Bold prediction: Frank Gore has more rushing yards than either Oakland running back.

Dallas @ Minnesota (-1.5): At 1-3 each, the loser of this game probably misses the playoffs.* Dallas has it is throwing the ball a lot. Brett Favre looks like he's old and likes throwing interceptions. Neither defenses seem to be doing a good job intercepting the ball. It's not that these teams are bad or good...they are just middle of the road. It might be an interesting game because they are pretty evenly matched, but this is a pairing of two average teams, not two good teams. Adrian Peterson should have an ok day. Tony Romo and Miles Austin should have a good day. As the case has been all year, I'll take the Cowboys and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Adrian Peterson leads both teams in rushing yards.
Bold prediction: 6 guys get at least 12 fantasy points. (I feel like I'm playing Liar's Dice. I increased the number of players, but decreased the point total.)

Indianapolis (-3) @ Washington: It's Peyton Manning at night. You know, Peyton Manning, QB of the third place Colts. (Ok, all the teams in the AFC South are tied at 3-2, but the Colts are in third based on division and conference tiebreakers.) And Washington has the above average Donovan McNabb and is starting Ryan Torain at running back. That's right, RYAN TORAIN!! The night games are always crazy. Last Monday, after Randy Moss scored a touchdown and the third quarter ended with the Jets up 15-7, I went for a walk with my wife confident my fantasy team won. I come back and see the highlights and learn that more points were scored in the fourth quarter than the first three quarters combined. Crazy things happen at night, like when Washington beat Dallas without scoring an offensive touchdown or the Colts leading the seemingly good Giants 24-0 at halftime. I'll take Peyton Manning and the Colts to cover, but I don't feel comfortable about these kinds of games.
Not so bold prediction: Peyton Manning leads both teams in passing yards.
Bold prediction: Ryan Torain leads both teams in rushing yards. And usually when you see one team has the leading passer and the other has the leading rusher, it's because one team had the lead and was running the ball while the losers kept throwing to catch up. Expect craziness.

Tennessee (-3) @ Jacksonville: Of course all the craziness could happen in this game. Chris Johnson. Maurice Jones-Drew. Vince Young. David Garrard. Marcedes Lewis is third in the league in receiving touchdowns. EverBank Field! 3-2. AFC South. Cortland Finnegan. Dave Ball. We'll probably have three UCLA alumni on the field at the same time. Jeff Fisher. Jack Del Rio. More not so random names!! The Titans have alternated wins and losses. The Jags looked like one of the worst teams in the league after lopsided losses to the Chargers and Eagles. Both Football Outsiders and my favorite metric say the Titans are a better team and it's not three points close. I'll take the Titans to cover.
Not so bold prediction: Chris Johnson runs for over 100 yards.
Bold prediction: I wanted this to be something about Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Chris Johnson because I like MJD and I think Johnson's expectations for this season are too high...but I think Johnson has the better day. I'm going to say that David Garrard has more rushing yards and passing yards than Vince Young.


  1. No time to read the full post (it looks awesome!), but I wanted to get my picks out there now before I forgot:

    - Bucs +5: Simmons talked me into it...
    - Rams +8.5: I see SD winning this 21-14, but never feeling as if they'd actually lose the game...
    - Niners -7: The Niners D scores the clinching TD with less than 5 on the clock; we win 24-14...

  2. I'm taking:
    San Diego -8, Atlanta +3, Pittsburgh -13.5, Tampa Bay +4, Kansas City +4.5, Oakland +6.5, Seattle +6.5

  3. Wow you are making lots of picks this week.

    I'm taking Detroit +10, NO -4, and Indy -3

    Totally agree with you about the Oh-and-Fivers laying -6.5 points, even if it is to the Raiders. That is like an Oakland anti-tax.

  4. Royce, I picked seven games for the last two weeks as well.

  5. Not your best week Aaron. You picked directly against me with your Tampa Bay +4 pick, and lost. Tamba Bay is awful. Explain yourself.

  6. He bought the Simmons juice as well...

    Updated standings. MP is still winning.

  7. I went 3-4, not that bad. I wasn't buying the Simmons juice per se. New Orleans had thrown 5 interceptions going into the game and only caught 4. Tampa Bay had thrown 4 and caught 8. New Orleans first five games were wins by 5,3,(loss),2 and a loss to Arizona (who I consider to be bad). Tampa Bay had three wins and a loss to a really good Pittsburgh team. As I said in my preview, I was not surprised to see the Saints blow out the Bucs, but I thought the 4 points was a good opportunity, thinking the Saints might win by a field goal or lose outright.

  8. I went 9-5 with my 'Not so bold' predictions and 4-7-2 with my Bold predictions. (The 2 is predictions that were technically wrong, but I was on the right train of Ryan Torain getting a lot of rushing yards and Jacksonville's QB rushing more than Vince Young.)

    My favorite prediction I got right was either Brees throwing more interceptions than Josh Freeman or Hines Ward scoring a TD and helping my fantasy team.

  9. I am a big fan of your predictions and I hope you continue to do them.

    I also need to give you a lot of credit for them - not only for your impressive record, but also for just coming up with them in the first place. I was trying to come up with some for this week and it is significantly harder than I expected. So even though it seems like a straightforward "NFL prop bets I made up and picked" column gag, it actually involves a lot of creativity on your part. Not to mention detailed NFL knowledge.

    Speaking of which, I could use your creative advice - I want to do some NBA preview columns, but I want a bit of a column hook around which to base the columns and our discussion. Kind of like how Simmons' hook this year was "teams I most want to see" and went from there. And his podcast hook was "let's discuss the over/under win totals for every team". Any ideas?

  10. Part of why I like my predictions is that they are very dependent on expectations of the general public. When people think of Vince Young, they think of him running for a touchdown in the national championship game over U$C. They remember him running as much as throwing in the NFL also. David Garrard is seen as a big, hard to tackle guy. But recently, Vince Young has improved his accuracy and been running less, while Garrard's O-line and receivers have been letting him down and he has been forced to run a little more.

    For your NBA preview, my first suggestion would be to name a player on each team who will exceed expectations and one who will disappoint. This could be as simple as finding a former sixth man who is now starting and you think will do well with increased minutes and then naming Kobe Bryant, whose age and role are likely to decrease his overall totals.