October 01, 2011
Some weeks it's easy to fill this column. I'm not saying it's easy to pick the winners per se, but some weeks I know several days in advance what I'll be using here. Buffalo in Week 3 was a Monday play, there never was any doubt. But I found this week's card to be the trickiest of the year to date. That doesn't necessarily mean anything come game day, but I'm throwing it out there anyway.
As always, I welcome you to make your own five selections and list them in the comments. Defend your picks if you can, and for the love of all things holy, if you're going to bash my picks, you gotta give a reason. Further the conversation, capper.
All lines are drawn from Yahoo! Pro Football Pick'em. If you're going to play along, please go there.
Jets +3.5 at Ravens: In what figures to be an alley fight and a low-scoring game, starting with a spot past the standard three seems like a gift. Mark Sanchez(notes) has been a more effective road quarterback for his entire career (and he's also played very well on the road in the playoffs). For all the sunshine thrown at Joe Flacco(notes) since he joined the league, I'm still not sure how good he is.
Steelers +4 at Texans: Okay, Texans, prove it to me. Show me this is the year you don't pull out the rug, you don't yank the football away as we're ready to kick it. The Houston defense impressed in the opening two weeks against a couple of weak opponents, but it had no answers in New Orleans. Pittsburgh has problems of its own (offensive line is a mess, for one thing, and the defense looks old), but they generally travel well under Mike Tomlin and there's a modest backstop here even if the Steelers don't win.
Rams +1.5 vs. Redskins: As bad as it's looked in St. Louis, at least the Rams are losing to good teams. The Ravens are headed to the playoffs, and the Eagles and Giants look pretty good too. Rex Grossman(notes) reminded everyone last week he still has no clue how to decipher a zone defense. Steven Jackson's return will help keep the Rams offense on schedule. It's now or never, Spags.
Lions +1.5 at Cowboys: How many Dallas players need to get hurt before you downgrade the offense? You've got Romo's ribs, Felix's shoulder, Austin's hamstring, Bryant's miscellaneous (it's always something with him). Calvin Johnson(notes) is never covered, even when he's covered. Matthew Stafford's(notes) pocket awareness has come a long way.
Panthers +6.5 at Bears: Riding with the Panthers means the backdoor cover is always open; Cam Newton(notes) and Steve Smith are making beautiful music together. The fleas never really change in Chicago: Mike Martz eschews the run, the offensive line is a makeshift joke, and Jay Cutler(notes) doesn't know how to negotiate a muddy pocket. I'd like this game even more if I knew the Panthers were ready to push Jonathan Stewart(notes) past DeAngelo Williams(notes) on the depth chart (it's a wonder they bothered to re-sign Williams in the first place).
Survivor: I suppose Tampa Bay is the default pick for a lot of people, especially with Curtis Painter(notes) (Paintball!) getting the Indy start, but something is telling me to stay away from that one. I'll take the Packers at home, daring the Broncos to take down the NFL's best team.
Image courtesy Associated Press