Week 8 Slate Is a Nightmare
Many Tricks, Few Treats for NFL Fans
Time for another lame Halloween-themed picks column.
Can someone please tell me how the Ravens are not playing on the weekend before Halloween? This week's schedule is outright devilish. For all the good Roger Goodell is doing putting his severed foot down, his plans to globalize the NFL are more the idea of a headless horseman. The league nevermore will be the same.
E.A. Poe. It's in the game.
This intro is worse than The Nightmare Before Christmas. Much, much worse.
Say goodnight, Lenore.
Here are the picks:
Sunday, Oct. 28
Indianapolis Colts (6-0) at Carolina Panthers (4-2), 1 p.m.
And undefeated AFC team meets a 4-2 NFC team, and the NFC team is the only team besides the AFC quarterback's own that he hasn't beaten. Sounds eerily familiar, no? Here's another scary fact: Indy is on the road for the second week in a row against a team that was an expansion ballclub the same year as the team they faced last week -- and they're both 4-2. Scary stuff. Oh, the game. Carolina leads the series 3-0. Of course they haven't played each other in 4 years. Do you really think Vinny T can lead Carolina to a win here? Nor do I.
Prediction: Colts, 34-14.
Detroit Lions (4-2) at Chicago Bears (3-4), 1 p.m.
This is a big, hairy battle in the NFC North. Even should Chicago win, they'll still trail Detroit in the standings. I mean, really. The most frightening thing all season is that a Matt Millen team may flirt (or top) .500. Detroit is battling Arizona for surprise team of the year. The last meeting? The Lions mauled Chicago for 34 fourth-quarter points. The last meeting in Chicago? Rex Grossman threw for 4 touchdowns. Which was the bigger miracle? Oh, right. The game. Eight weeks ago, I'd say Chicago by 14. But now they look pretty evenly matched. Chicago's battered defense, especially the secondary, has found ways to keep the offense afloat. Detroit likes to throw. It's Kitna vs. Griese. And people wonder why few people respect the NFC.
Prediction: Lions, 28-20.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-4), 1 p.m.
The first Next Tom Brady is not the reason his team has been winning. Sometimes it looks like he's playing without a helmet. But Pitt should have an easy time with Cincinnati, where injuries are like the plague. Cincy looks like a bunch of zombies on rushing defense, and Pittsburgh should be able to pound their bones into dust. Man, I used to be pretty good at the Halloween innuendo.
Prediction: Steelers, 31-24.
New York Giants (5-2) at Miami Dolphins (0-7), 1 p.m.
What a horrible trick! The NFL has egged us all, and we did nothing to deserve it. Do the Dolphins have any conceivable reason to even get up in the morning? I wonder what markets will get saddled with this pathetic game just so the NFL can market their big overseas matchup? Hey at least both teams have byes next week to get over the travel schedule.
Prediction: Giants, 35-10.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-4) at Minnesota Vikings (2-4), 1 p.m.
Speaking of zombie defenses, have you seen Minnesota's secondary? I don't think anyone in Minnesota has. Philadelphia's own zombie quarterback will need to stop eating his own brain if Philly is to stop embarrassing themselves. Minnesota is a strange team: top rushing offense, No. 4 rushing defense, No. 30 passing offense, last passing defense. It looks like Matt Millen is running the show (OK, that's the last zombie reference). Take the Transylvania Bats.
Prediction: Eagles, 17-16.
Cleveland Browns (3-3) at St. Louis Rams (0-7), 1 p.m.
Cleveland has had two weeks to prepare for the most ghastly team in the NFL. But St. Louis may have a slightly better of grabbing their first win than does Miami. At least these teams will be playing Stateside. Still, this game is far from a treat.
Prediction: Browns, 30-17.
Oakland Raiders (2-4) at Tennessee Titans (4-2), 1 p.m.
Oakland has one win by taking advantage of a bad rule. They have another over Miami. After flirting with first place in the division a couple weeks ago, they're back home. Four of Tennessee's games have been decided by 3 points or fewer. They're 2-2 in those games. Is it me, or would you rather watch an Ed Wood horror movie than the 1 p.m. slate?
Prediction: Titans, 26-13.
Buffalo Bills (2-4) at New York Jets (1-6), 4:05 p.m.
Don't fear the Reaper. Fear the NFL schedule maker. How does the leauge schedule two games with AFC East teams playing at home at 4 p.m.? The good news for both teams is that whichever one loses probably won't be in last place. You can also look at it as a battle for second place. Talk about a game that sucks .. your blood. One of them will probably have the life sucked out of them. "Mangenius" is looking like the man with no brains. Buffalo is the better team, despite injuries giving them a skeletal appearance. Buffalo, who is 2-2 in games decided by 5 points or less, beat the Jets by 3 a month ago. New Jersey beat Miami. I'll take the real New York team.
Prediction: Bills, 17-14.
Houston Texans (3-4) at San Diego Chargers (3-3), 4:05 p.m.
After Week 3, when Houston was 2-1 following a 6-point loss to undefeated Indy, and San Diego was 1-2 following a 7-point loss at overachieving Green Bay, it looked like the Texans would be slaughtering opponents while the Chargers were dead men walking. San Diego then took two of three in its division, which might not have been that tall an order, and has had an extra week to prepare for this one. Houston has dropped two straight in its division, what has been hyped to be among the league's best. Will today tell us much about either team or their respective divisions?
Prediction: Chargers, 30-24.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3), 4:05 p.m.
Huge game for both teams and meaningful for both division races. Tampa is 1-1 against the AFC South, losing big to Indy and squeaking by Tennessee in a game that Vince Young played little. Jacksonville will be relying on quarterback Quinn Gray, perhaps more so because running back Maurice Jones-Drew is questionable with a banged up knee. Prior to the season, this looked like an easy win for Jacksonville. Their back is against the wall now. And they're going to have to face all those Tampa fans in Seinfeld-style Halloween pirate shirts.
Prediction: Buccaneers, 27-17.
New Orleans Saints (2-4) at San Francisco 49ers (2-4), 4:15 p.m.
New Orleans started 0-4; San Francisco, 2-0. Very Jekyll and Hyde. San Francisco's quarterback situation remains cloudy and running back Frank Gore is nursing an ankle injury. New Orleans has been far from impressive in their back-to-back wins. But San Fran's two wins were by 3 over Arizona in Week 1 and by 1 over St. Louis after that. The Niners are probably two plays away from 0-6. This game may make the Bills-Jets game look exciting.
Prediction: Saints, 21-20.
Monday, Oct. 29
Green Bay Packers (5-1) at Denver Broncos (3-3), 8:30 p.m.
Green Bay has had two weeks to prepare, and Denver is coming off an emotional win over Pittsburgh. This may be the first time a Monday Night Football game and a World Series game are played virtually side by side. That all depends on what happens tonight during the game that does not oppose an NFL Sunday nighter. Go Sox!
Prediction: Packers, 23-20.
Last week: 9 - 5.
Just in case I forgot: Go Sox!
Season: 72 - 39 (.649).