Pop Quiz: What has all the accuracy of a Phil Mickelson drive on the 18th hole of day four, all the consistency of a Barry Zito start in the playoffs, and all the best intentions of a relationship with “Left Eye” Lopez? If you guessed picking NFL games against a spread, you got it! People who pick based on who has the more fearsome mascot (Hmmm..I think a lion would rip up a steeler, whatever the hell that is, I’ll take the lions!) will usually do just about as well as a 40 year veteran of picking games.
But, as it is written into the official code of sportswriters and pseudo-sportswriters (like myself): If thou hast a podium, thou shalt weigheth in with thine two cents. Now, I shouldn’t have to tell you, make sure you don’t bet the farm on anything I say, ever. All disclaimers aside, here are my picks for week 7.
Arizona -3 over Oakland
After the record breaking level of ineptitude in Arizona last week (the Bears are the only team ever to overcome a 20 point deficit without scoring an offensive touchdown), the Cardinals only have to cover 3 points against what may be the worst “professional” football team of the last 25 years. The good thing is, even if the Cards find a way to lose (which is entirely possible) Matt Leinart will always have Nick Lachey waiting to console him with open arms, a shoulder to cry on, and an orange mocha frappuccino.
Kansas City +5.5 over Chargers
With all the bad hoodoo floating around the Chargers and how much everyone hates the way Marty Schottenheimer runs the team with a lead, I think this could be the week that Martyball backfires and Philip Rivers blows out his knee taking a knee sometime in the third quarter. It’s going to happen. It’s just a question of when.
Packers +4 over Miami
The league announced Wednesday that the Packers would be without wide receiver Koren Robinson for the rest of the year. Robinson was suspended without pay for violating the both league’s substance abuse policy and their policy against driving away from the cops at 100 miles per hour while drunk (commonly referred to as the “Bengals Clause”). Early reports indicate that Brett Favre’s ego will still play Sunday, leaving the Packers at the mercy of a -5 turnover ratio when he throws every third pass into triple coverage.
NY Jets -3.5 over Detroit
Detroit has set themselves up nicely for the number two pick in the 2007 NFL draft this coming April, and I can just feel a Teddy Ginn Jr. “surprise” pick coming on. Still, with as bad as the Lions have been this year the Jets are only .500 in the worst league in the AFC. All in all, I’ll take New York because they’re playing at home..in New Jersey.
Jags -9.5 over Texans
New Orleans has a bye this week, which was a particularly kind thing for the league to do. Texans fans are already dealing with enough having a team that has not done anything in the last four years and a defensive end who is the best thing since Sam Bowie. They don’t need to see jumbo-tron highlights every week of Reggie Bush doing his best Gayle Sayers impression. That’s just cruel.
Steelers -2 over Falcons
It’s been a rough road this season for the Steelers and their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He really hasn’t been all there after his appendectomy in week one (thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week). With as tough as the road has been, they showed some promise last week by wiping the proverbial floor with the Chiefs. Unfortunately for the Steelers they have to face one of the league’s “premier” quarterbacks this week in Mike Vick, who to this point has posted a quarterback rating of 66.0 and a completion percentage of just barely 50 percent. So be afraid Pittsburgh, be very afraid.
Broncos -4.5 over Browns
So, I feel obligated to pick a winner in this one, seeing as how I live in Colorado. As far as I can tell, the Broncos can’t score when Jake doesn’t have a full on ‘stache, and since there is no sign of it coming back anytime soon they will have to continue to settle for letting their defense beat up on weak teams like St. Louis, Kansas City, a toothless New England, the Raiders, and the Browns.
Giants +3 Cowboys
T.O., in case you haven’t been paying attention, has a bit of a reputation of complaining about how much he gets (or doesn’t get) the ball. Look for him to be silent Monday night though, as he will have the opportunity to catch both the passes from Drew Bledsoe that happen to come his way, as well as the 8-10 balls Eli Manning overthrows to his receivers and sails over to the sidelines.
(Note: In honor of the Border War, I am cutting off the rest of the NFL games to address something of much more importance.)
Rams +4 over ‘Pies (and to win)
It would appear that in addition to forgetting to look at records (Wyo is 3-4, the Rams are 4-2) Vegas forgot that we have both the boot and Kory Sperry. How odds makers can keep their job after such a gross oversight is beyond me.
In all seriousness, the Rams are poised to keep the hardware in Fort Collins this year, with Hanie posting a completion percentage of just over 70 and Gartrell looking like he may be getting better after last weeks 75 yard performance (almost double his average).
Last week I had the opportunity to go up to Wyo and watch the ‘Pies tear the Utes a new one in a 31-15 shellacking. My brother Drew is a high school quarterback and they are looking at him to help them move up from 9th in the Mountain West to somewhere around 7th sometime in the next five years.
Now, I really, really, really, really don’t like the ‘Pies but I was there for four reasons: one, we were going to get the full tour of a D-1 program’s facilities (locker room, coaches offices, field, steer wrestlin’ pen, the works) which as a sports fan I have a hard time turning down; two my brother was there, and there’s still time to save him from the plains of Wyo; three my buddy Harm was going with us, which means we would be able to crack jokes for eight hours straight about Wyo; and four I wanted to get a feel for the stadium and the fans before we went up there this week.
Let me tell you, it was everything I thought it would be. We walked into athletic center and met with the quarterback’s coach who gave us the full tour. It’s a pretty nice setup, the weight room comes complete with kegs for the players to lift (true story, you couldn’t make this stuff up), the coaches offices are fully equipped with “com-pu-tors”, and the locker rooms even have floors.
We met the head coach, Joe Glenn, who seemed WAY too excited that we were there, a real outgoing guy who wore his hear like Pat Riley and looked like he had been to the John Daily school of fitness and back. Let’s put it this way, he threatened to lock me in his office after I mentioned that I went to school at CSU, and I had to turn around to make sure he didn’t have someone with a lasso behind me ready to follow through on the threat.
We cruised by the Wyo hall of fame, which included Theo Ratliff, Kenny Sailors (the guy who invented the jump shot), and, uh, did I mention Theo Ratliff? In the next room their trophy case was filled with Holliday Bowl participant trophies, which made me smile inside.
We made our way out to the field, where all the mediocrity happens. Fun fact: when the stadium is full, it has as many people as the third largest city in all of Wyoming.
Joke of the day: We were sitting at one of the picnic tables on the boardwalk that goes around the stadium, and I was doing my best to enjoy a “soft” pretzel with “cheese”. The announcer was testing the PA, which led to this exchange:
Announcer: Test, Test, Test, 22.214.171.124.5.6.
Me: Damn, how much testing does that thing need?
Harm: Congratulations sir, you just earned your degree from Wyoming.
Drew: Shut up man, you guys suck.
Announcer: Test, 1.2.3.
Harm: Whoa! He’s working on his masters!
Just typing it here, I can’t know for sure if that is a “you had to be there” story, but I can tell you that I almost cried at the time and I’m still laughing as I write this.
Anyway, we get to our seats with all of the recruits in their lettermen jackets and thankfully it was about 30 rows and an entire tier away from the students. Harm was in a CSU shirt and I didn’t feel like facing the business end of a six-shooter, who knew where the nearest hospital was.
We (that is, Harm and I) came into the game fairly confident that the Utes would roll. Just to give you a window as to how good I am at picking games, Wyo went on to win by 16 and never really looked out of control of the game. So, there’s that. But when you look at it, the Utes had critical fumbles in their own territory, and their quarterback had trouble telling red from brown and yellow. I don’t know, I was 45 rows back and I could tell the difference. I don’t think Hanie should have too much trouble distinguishing between a green and gold uniform that looks good and a brown one that looks like crap.
So here’s where I think they are weak:
1. They are running a new quarterback out there named Karsten Sween, who looked pretty good against the Utes, but they didn’t get nearly enough pressure on him. Their sacks were coverage sacks or they came when Sween in his inexperience would hold the ball to long. If the Rams get good pressure on him I think he will crack.
2. Their secondary was letting guys slip behind them all day, but Utah’s quarterback kept throwing the ball 15 yards over their head. Walker and Morton should be open for a much more accurate Hanie all night.
3. I was really surprised at how quiet their fans were. Obviously they should be more fired up next week, but from what I saw it was not a very intimidating place to go into and play (unless the visiting players are scared that their bus will break down and they will be trapped in Laramie, which is a thought terrible enough to rattle anybody).
All in all, I think the boot stays where it rightfully belongs. And because I can think of no better way to end a column about football and the Border War:
Ram fans, we roll Saturday night, to the guitar bite, and for those about to rock. I salute you.