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Week 3 Picks

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Welcome to Autumn, My Flock
'Parity' Becomes 'Parody' .. Again

Ahh, the last of summer's campfires. The smell of meat on a tailgate grill. The sound of leaves crunching under foot. The whine of fans from 31 other teams outside New England. I love autumn.

But I'm not liking this slate of games. In addition to stat sheets, game reports and insider information, you needa couple psychiatrists and a witch doctor to figure out some of these teams after two weeks. Sure, there are a few surprises every year, but this is nuts. N-V-T-S.

We should find out if a few 0-2 teams are destined for destruction and if a few 2-0 teams are geared for greatness. Or not. A few 0-2 teams might rebound to make playoff runs, and a few 2-0 teams could be masqueraders. And what about all those 1-1 teams? Who are they trying to fool?

OK, clearly, I'm very tired. Or maybe I'm just nvts.

Here are the picks:

Sunday, Sept. 23
Arizona (1-1) at Baltimore (1-1), 1 p.m.
Did we witness the resurrection of Edgerrin James last week? Probably not. I certainly didn't see it. But Edge might be making a comeback regardless. Good news for the Cards if he is. The Ravens defense will be a good test for them. Then again, almost anyone is a good test for Baltimore's offense. Defense wins (almost) every time.
Prediction: Ravens, 21-16.

Buffalo (0-2) at New England (2-0), 1 p.m.
Please see separately posted game preview.
Prediction: Thanks for reading Pats Pulpit.

Detroit (2-0) at Philadelphia (0-2), 1 p.m.
Are those records right? Yep. Jon Kitna may be onto something in the Motor City. Except this week, his Lions are in the City of Brotherly Love. Can you appreciate all the irony here? Philly's in trouble as long as Donovan McNabb continues to blame everyone else for his lack of production. That may be a while. Eagles fans will be calling for his bowl (of Chunky) if he doesn't notch a win this week. I'm still not sold on Detroit.
Prediction: Eagles, 24-17.

Indianapolis (2-0) at Houston (2-0), 1 p.m.
Houston and Detroit are 2-0? Did I fall asleep for 20 years? Oh, well, look at their opponents. OK, there's no way Houston beats Indy. Despite a tough game against Tennessee last week, the Colts are simply a far better team than Houston.
Prediction: Colts, 34-10.

Miami (0-2) at N.Y. Jets (0-2), 1 p.m.
By the way, New England is the only AFC East team with a win. It's unlikely this game ends in a tie. New York has lost to New England and Baltimore. Very understandable. Miami has a pair of losses against two very good NFC East teams. Neither team has shown any ability to run. Neither has been able to stop it either. They're within 3 points of each other in scoring defense and scoring offense. I expected more out of both of them. I'll go with the "veteran" coach.
Prediction: Jets, 20-17.

Minnesota (1-1) at Kansas City (0-2), 1 p.m.
Minnesota has a good defense. Kansas City has Atlanta to thank for not being the worst offense.
Prediction: Vikings, 21-6.

San Diego (1-1) at Green Bay (2-0), 1 p.m.
Big game for both teams. San Diego needs to show they can bounce back and that they can win on the road. Green Bay needs to show they can beat a legitimate team. I have to stick by my preseason analysis. San Diego has too much on both sides of the ball for the Pack.
Prediction: Chargers, 28-10.

San Francisco (2-0) at Pittsburgh (2-0), 1 p.m.
San Fran is 2-0 by a 4-point margin against two mediocre teams, Pittsburgh by 50 over a couple of chumps.
Prediction: Steelers, 24-14.

St. Louis (0-2) at Tampa Bay (1-1), 1 p.m.
I don't know about either one of these teams. St. Louis might be packing it in early. Tampa looked awful against one NFC playoff team and great against another. Does anybody find it odd that Kansas City with Larry Johnson, St. Louis with Steven Jackson, and San Diego with LaDanian Tomlinson are ranked 27th, 28th and 29th, respectively, in rushing? (Tampa is 25th.) St. Louis can't win at home. Maybe they can on the road.
Prediction: Rams, 24-21.

Cincinnati (1-1) at Seattle (1-1), 4:05 p.m.
Man, I thought Week 1 was hard to pick. All these schizophrenic teams are making me dizzy. Both teams lost on the road to opponents they should have trounced. At least Seattle didn't give up 51 points.
Prediction: Seahawks, 31-21.

Cleveland (1-1) at Oakland (0-2), 4:05 p.m.
You have to be kidding. I'd say this would be one of the few winnable games all season for Oakland, but for Cleveland's 51 points last week. Not sure they scored 51 all last season. Was it a fluke? Was Charlie Frye that bad? Is Derek Anderson the Next Tom Brady? Do I know what rhetorical means? Can we move on now?
Prediction: Raiders, 28-27.

Jacksonville (1-1) at Denver (2-0), 4:05 p.m.
I feel no better about this one. Denver squeaked past Buffalo and Oakland by a total of 4 points. Jacksonville lost to Tennessee by 3 and beat Atlanta by a mere 6. Once again, I expected better of both. Statistically, Denver is the best team in the league, ranked first in overall offense and second in overall defense. That's if yardage means that much to you. They're 17th in scoring offense and 13th in scoring defense. Meanwhile Jacksonville is second in scoring defense, but they can't score to save their lives.
Prediction: Broncos, 13-10.

Carolina (1-1) at Atlanta (0-2), 4:15 p.m.
Speaking of not being able to score to save their lives.
Prediction: Panthers, 17-6.

N.Y. Giants (0-2) at Washington (2-0), 4:15 p.m.
You know the one about the immovable object vs. the irresistible force? This isn't it. I don't know if Tom Coughlin will survive this season. Literally. And I literally mean literally, not figuratively.
Prediction: Redskins, 28-14.

Dallas (2-0) at Chicago (1-1), 8:15 p.m.
I might actually analyze this game were I not curling into the fetal position. Dallas scores a lot, can't stop anyone; Chicago stops everyone, can't score themselves. Wow. I think I just figured out what "parity" means. .. .. .. Nope. That's not it.
Prediction: Cowboys, 16-13.

Monday, Sept. 24
Tennessee (1-1) at New Orleans (0-2), 8:30 p.m.
Last game. Thank goodness. I'm sure you've heard "worst to first." New Orleans did it themselves. Looks like they've cornered the market on role reversal. You keep waiting for them to snap out of it or start clicking or something. And you keep waiting. And waiting. Meanwhile, Tennessee finally gets to play someone outside their division, beating one by 3 and losing to another by 2. It's Beale vs. Bourbon. (Close enough.)
Prediction: Saints, 17-14.

Open Date: None. Byes start next week.

Last week: 8-8.
When Cleveland scores 51 points, you'll have weeks like this. I can't imagine what's going to happen this week. As everyone in Star Wars said at one time or other: I have a bad feeling about this.
Season: 20-12 (.625).