Watching NFL Redzone, during the end of the Oakland/Atlanta game, I was actually rooting for the ball to end up in the endzone, as well as for Atlanta to fall on it, so the Falcons would cover and hit the over.

It was one of the close calls of the past week-end—even if it wasn’t that close, it still could have happened theoretically in theory—but the ones that really stick with me are the St. Louis/Miami contest and the Dallas/Baltimore occurrence. I had Miami (-3 ½), so the hook got me, and that always hurts; taking the Ravens (-3 ½), however, proved even more frustrating, because they’re clearly better than the Cowboys, and Dallas still had a chance to win at the end of regulation.

All excuses aside, this columnist went 6-8 last week overall, 2-3 in what I gave here, which brings my year-long totals to 37-52-2 and 11-19.

On with the picks…

Jacksonville @ Oakland (-4). The Raiders’ latest loss came down to one play: The one involving the sack and fumble placing their opposition in the redzone. That’s it. Coming home after a near-win isn’t exactly how they wanted to leave the State of Georgia, but the Silver & Black learned of what they’re capable. The Jags aren’t the Raiders’ equals, yet Oakland isn’t that far ahead of them to look past them. This could turn into a battle of either field position, who makes the costly mistake or which team runs the ball most effectively. Any way I look at this, though, with Jacksonville traveling cross-country to play a Raiders team that almost beat the Atlanta Falcons can only go one way.

Seattle (+9) @ San Francisco. During these week-day games to open the last six weeks in this NFL season the underdogs are 5-1 against the spread. Furthermore, the teams getting points have won these openers four times. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the Seahawks are going into San Fran and posting a W, but then again, myself and those like me didn’t think that either about more than a few of Seattle’s games. (Check last week’s column, for I thought the Pats would hammer the ‘Hawks, or at the very least, beat them easily.) This looks to me akin to the Browns/Ravens contest a few Thursdays ago: The visiting team never has any real chance at emerging victorious, yet they never go away for long enough to allow the host team to cover.

New Orleans (+1) @ Tampa Bay. If you’re wondering if that’s a misprint, I had the same feeling. Tampa may have looked good at home last week, but laying a beating on the Chiefs is one thing; hosting a team fresh of a much-needed week off is something different entirely. Five-out-of-the-six teams coming off their week of rest this early season have covered, and with this number at a measly point, it’d be safe to say you could take the Ain’ts on the money line, too.

Pittsburgh (E) @ Cincinnati. The first pick’em game of the year is upon us. How many of you are excited? You should be, because both of these teams lost last week, and they’re both on the ropes. The Steelers have fallen down quite a few times this year and have been forced to claw their way back into contention in media res a few bouts. The Bengals, however, look as if they’ve fallen and they can’t get up, for Cincy was favored the last two weeks versus the Dolphins and Browns, but they were on the losing end each time. Take the Steelers and worry not about points; why can’t every game be this easy?

Detroit @ Chicago (-6 ½). Da Bears were the last team that needed a week off to regroup and go back to the lab to conjure up some more craziness in the football form. Now that they’ve enjoyed their little break, Chi-Town has the Lions coming to town for Monday Night Football. Detroit was given a win last week because the Philadelphia Eagles can’t close out games with the lead; it’s that simple. Da Bears have the perfect defense to give Detroit problems; Chicago has scored five touchdowns on defense; and Detroit’s second trip to another team’s stadium—let alone Soldier Field—cannot unfold as ideally as the last one did. Something to the tune of 37-14…

“Let’s head on down the road; there’s somewhere I gotta go.”—Tom Petty


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