The replacement referees’ reign is now over—and thank heavens because they were about as bad as my record against the spread this season: It’s 18-28-2; 5-10 in what I’ve posted here.

However, I’m yet to have a record for an entire season below .500, so even though I sit at something like 37%, there’s only one way for me to go. Up… (At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.)

Oakland (+7) @ Denver. The Raiders aren’t just the most interesting team in football, they’re the hardest to predict. (Maybe that’s why they’re so fascinating?) But one thing’s certain: They play their division well; they play them tough; and they play the three other teams in the AFC West like there’s no tomorrow. Denver has many things going for them being at home for a second week, yet they’re angry at how they lost the last two ballgames—as they should be—but I’ll take points and the team coming off an impressive comeback win versus a Stupor Bowl caliber ballclub over an unstable, emotional Denver Broncos.

Cleveland @ Baltimore (-13). This is the biggest number o’ th’ week, and for good reason. The Browns haven’t won all year for a legitimate reason: They don’t have a quarterback. Cleveland might develop the kid into one eventually, but by going to Baltimore, they’ve got to take their lumps, hopefully leaving in one piece. Look on the bright side Browns fans: This team could have won all those games they lost this year; when was the last time you could say that?

New England @ Buffalo (+4 ½). This is something I harped on last week; the home underdog theory, however, is starting to get downright terrifying. Home ‘dogs are 13-5-1—the one push coming from that insane Jets/Dolphins game that the Fish should’ve won—think about it. My reasoning for this one isn’t just my silly gambling observation though: The Bills could win this game outright, so the number just helps my argument. Plus, there are five home teams getting points this week, and I have four of them in my book.

Washington @ Tampa Bay (-3). The Buccaneers have a fire in them, much like that crazed rage in which they found themselves two years ago, going 10-6 and somehow missing the postseason. Are they that good? No—but this week they’ll be involved in the best television product on Sunday. Therefore, you should enjoy it twofold: Take the home team, give the points, et cetera, et cetera.

Chicago (+3 ½) @ Dallas. Now to the point of playing that Kansas song—I’ve been predicting the demise of the Dallas Cowboys since my preseason picks. (If you’re a doubter, just check my season preview article…if you can find it.) But when are the Cowgirls going to flame out? It’ll probably be this week that the blow from which they cannot recover occurs. The Bears are sneaky good; the ‘Boys deceptively flawed. That mixture of opponents only flows in one direction. It’s Monday Night Football, too, to make things all the more captivating, for the world gets to watch two quarterbacks that can literally do anything—look like hall-of-famers, play like third-stringers, behave like spoiled-children. Just watch it; it’ll be great TV.


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