Sweet home vs. Chicago
What’s the more profound premonition from last week: the reminder of Michael Jackson’s hair-raising habits or Cincinnati’s upset over Kansas City?Dunno. Either way, my bold-pick mojo was going strong last week, but my overall record could suck a golf ball through a garden hose. I blame this on the fact that it’s hard to get NFL information off the Internet when you’re hiding from your bookie in the bathroom of the Lionshead parking garage.But have no fear, Cincy brought me back online in more ways than one. Still, Week 12 has proved to be one of the toughest to pick all year. This is due, in part, to the precious research time lost when I discovered the Victoria’s Secret fashion show on CBS, but mostly because the Coors Light Twins have a silky-soft, luscious understanding of football that makes for mounds and mounds of distracting double-vision.But that’s enough of my sweet talk. Let’s skip the foreplay and get right down to business.Chicago at Denver: Boredom never felt so good when Doug Flukie drizzled into town and fizzled us with his amazing rizzle dizzle. We can only hope that boredom will once again grip our fair state as Chicago brings their under-motivated, over-Twinkied offensive line to the trenches. Jake Plummer’s back, veterans Rod Smith and AFC player of the week Shannon Sharpe are ready to go on a run, and Betrand Berry and Trevor Pryce are going to stack up the sacks. Fortunately, it’s opening weekend on the mountain, so there’ll be something entertaining to do on Sunday afternoon: Denver 38-12.Carolina at Dallas: Here’s the NFC game of the week. Both teams use the good ol’ fashioned discipline n’ defense method of football, so the question becomes who can play better offense? Although the Panthers have Stephen Davis, QB Jake Delhomme and up-and-comer Steve Smith, Dallas has a Quincy Carter who is looking to have a good game after two terrible weeks, including a shut-out in Week 11. Bill Parcells and home field advantage are the X-factors here, but don’t count on a lot of points: Dallas 16-10.Detroit at Minnesota: The meltdown against San Diego is enough to keep the Vikings on high alert through the rest of the season. And the Vikes are a tough crowd to beat in the Metrodome: Minnesota 30-17.Indianapolis at Buffalo: In honor of a recent local newspaper headline, I am tempted to announce that the Buffaloes will beat the Pacers. Unfortunately, that’s all wrong. Indy’s Peyton Manning has a league-high 2,876 passing yards this year, and Tony Dungy’s stingy defense won’t let Drew Bledsoe even on a good day overachieve in Ralph Wilson stadium (y’ know! Ralph Wilson): Indianapolis 31-24.Jacksonville at N.Y. Jets: Nobody loves hating their teams more than New York fans (except maybe Philly fans), and man, are they going to be angry when Chad Pennington gives up another game to measly ol’ Jacksonville and former Marshall teammate Byron Leftwitch, who will look good if injury-plagued Fred Taylor can play a full game: Jacksonville 17-10.New England at Houston: Houston’s looking good, whether it’s Tony Easton or David Carr in the backfield. But the Texans aren’t a serious threat until next year. New England, on the other hand, is on a Tom Brady-fueled roll: New England 26-20.New Orleans at Philadelphia: Philadelphia is starting to look like they could reach their third NFC title game, but they will hardly light it up against the Saint’s D: Philadelphia 17-14.Pittsburgh at Cleveland: Cleveland’s riding high after a 44-6 defeat of the Cardinals, but Bill Cowher can set up the play-action against the Brown’s D: Pittsburgh 21-20.Seattle at Baltimore: Seattle is soft and Baltimore is tough. Last week the Seahawks won with a 6-6 third-down conversion rate against the Detroit Lions, and Matt Hasselbeck avoided the sack. Ray Lewis will change all that and put the west-coasters in the fog: Baltimore 12-9.San Francisco at Green Bay: San Francisco is 0-4 on the road this season, and Green Bay is looking to avenge a home loss to Philadelphia in Week 10. Ex-Fighting Artichoke Tim Rattay will try and lead the 49ers up north for the first victory against Green Bay in five games played, but Brett Favre and the Pack can take advantage of a banged-up San Fran squad: Green Bay 17-13.St. Louis at Arizona: St. Louis doesn’t play well on grass or on the road, and Arizona is fighting to save face after a 44-6 destruction against the Browns in Week 11. That doesn’t mean they’ll win, it just means it’ll be closer than some think: St. Louis 24-17.Cincinnati at San Diego: San Diego is all over the map, waxing the Vikings then setting new standards of embarrassment against the Broncos in Week 11. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is on the up-and-up: Cincinnati 28-24.Oakland at Kansas City: This is an AFC rivalry, so wipe out the records, the personnel, the injuries and the playoff hopes. That said, this game is at home, and if Kansas City wants to mop up their tears from last week, why not do it with the soppy Raiders? Kansas City 35-17.Tennessee at Atlanta: There’s something in the water down south that makes Atlanta think they’re for real lately. But the boys in Tennessee are professionals they won’t slip up against the Falcons: Tennessee 28-13.Washington at Miami: Steve Spurrier is calling plays again but why? Why not wait a week? That way Miami’s stifling D can make some other sap look bad. Spurrier nails the coffin in Patrick Ramsey’s tomb: Miami 27-16.N.Y. Giants at Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay is making a good call saying goodbye to Keyshawn Johnson. Now that the locker room belongs to John Gruden again, they’ll come out playing like a team essential if they want to make the playoffs: Tampa Bay 21-17.
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