October 21, 2011
I found this to be the hardest slate of the first seven weeks, and it took me a while to come up with five selections I felt comfortable with. There's nothing necessarily predictive to that; you can hate a card and do well, and you can love a card and flush it all away. We'll see how the ball bounces in Week 7.
You're cordially invited to play along in the comments, keep score week-to-week. Make five selections against the Yahoo! Pro Football Pick'Em line and see how you do. Please offer rationale behind your selections if you can, and for the love of all things holy, if you're going to slam my picks, you have to provide some sort of reason. (And anyone who slams my winning record through a year and a half of this is basically admitting to the world "I don't understand math." I hope you get a calculator for the holidays.)
Let's see if we can grind out another 3-2 sort of week. The game isn't really about big edges and firework displays; it's about subtle advantages and what happens in the long run.
Chargers -2 at Jets: If you've followed football for 30 minutes, you can probably call out the Jets offensive plays before they snap and execute them. Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer needs to go (or at least be demoted). Darrelle Revis(notes) will lock up one of the San Diego receivers, by hook or by crook (he gets overly respected by the officials), but the Chargers have enough secondary weapons to keep the ball moving. In other words, it should be a long day for Antonio Cromartie(notes), not to mention the ordinary Jets rushing defense.
Broncos +2 at Dolphins: There's a lot of uncertainty with Tim Tebow(notes), from a pro-quarterback standpoint, so let's focus on the Dolphins for a second. We know Miami doesn't have a home field advantage (the Fish have lost 9-of-10 at home), and a large part of Sunday's crowd will be cheering for Tebow, the Gator hero. The Dolphins enter this game off a short week, while Denver had an extra week to prepare. Does anyone want to stump for Tony Sparano at this point? Pour me some Kool-Aid.
Chiefs +4.5 at Raiders: The Chiefs looked like Suck for Luck players in the opening two weeks, but they've played solid ball since — a near-miss at San Diego, and then victories over a couple of bad clubs (Minnesota, Indianapolis). No one knows what Carson Palmer(notes) will do for openers, but I've got enough skepticism in me to grab the points.
Cardinals +3.5 vs. Steelers: The key here is to not let Pittsburgh's name brand trip you up. The defense is missing key people all over the place (and it isn't forcing turnovers), and the offense has a shoddy line and some banged-up skill players (Mike Wallace(notes), most notably). If Jacksonville could make a game of it last week in Pittsburgh, I'll give Arizona a shot at doing the same thing this week, rested and at home.
Packers -9 at Vikings: You can't find bad stats on Aaron Rodgers(notes) these days, but he's particularly transcendent in the first half this year (132.3 rating, just ridiculous). The angle here is the Pack racing out to a big lead, then Christian Ponder(notes) struggling to play catch up. I'm also hoping the Vikings don't use Adrian Peterson much as a receiver; something they've oddly gone away from over the last three weeks.
Last Week: 3-2 (15-11-4 season)
Last Year: 49-34
John Jefferson image courtesy of SI Vault