One man's Week 8 NFL picks, made while basking in the sweet glow of an 8-6 record last week. Come on, you can smell an 11-2 week, right? The stars are aligned, it just seems right. I only wish I could have done it while Tom Bosley was alive.
To the picks we go ...
DALLAS (-6) over Jacksonville
This is Jack Del Rio's eighth season as coach of the Jaguars, and if he loses Sunday at Dallas his career record will be 60-60. He has won one playoff game in those eight years (hey, one more than Marvin Lewis in the same span) and since the end of the 2007 season the Jags are 15-24. A loss and some people think he'll be canned during the Jags bye week. My point I guess is this is the last time in 2010 that Wade Phillips might have more job security than the guy across the field.
ST. LOUIS (-3) over Carolina
Steven Jackson is only 27 years old. Doesn't seem like he's been around forever? If he stays healthy and keeps up this pace, he'll be right around 8,000 career rushing yards. Think he can play another four seasons and average 1,100 yards? Not impossible. And if he did that he would rank ninth all-time in rushing yards. He might turn out to be this generation's Curtis Martin -- who was never one of the two or three best backs in football but always in the top six or seven and managed to stay productive long enough (in a position that has the shelf life of a presidential term) to finish high on the career charts.
SAN FRANCISCO (PK) over Denver
This is the London game (did Tim Tebow walk across the Atlantic Ocean?) and it is an all-time stifferoo. Sending these two soon-to-be 4-12 teams to England is retribution for Emerson, Lake & Palmer, I guess.
Buffalo (+7.5) over KANSAS CITY
Two quarterbacks have a passer rating over 100.0 in 2010 -- Peyton Manning and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills will score points on Sunday (they put up 34 points and 506 yards at Baltimore last week) but Andy Dufresne's lawyer put up a better defense than these guys in 2010. Five straight games with at least 34 points allowed and are looking like a real threat to give up the most points in a single season (on pace for 528, NFL record is the 533 allowed by the Baltimore Colts in 1981).
Miami (+1.5) over CINCINNATI
Wow -- one good year and the Bengals are the Bengals again. Their 2009 season is the equivalent of Robert De Niro's character in "Awakenings" fooling around with Penelope Anne Miller for three weeks before the L-Dopa failed and he slipped back into a cationic state. And the reason you and I and everyone else knew this was going to happen? Terrell Owens. Problem is that Owens has been great. It has been Carson Palmer (2011 starting QB for the Raiders) and the defense (gave up 30 more points twice in 2009, have already matched that in 2010).
NEW YORK JETS (-5.5) over Green Bay
Lot of people had this as their Super Bowl pick (me included) before the season started, and I'm guessing anyone who made that pick is feeling pretty good about the Jets. I still think even with the injuries (10 guys on IR) the Packers have a shot to make some noise in an Alpha Dog-free NFC, but they are turnover-prone and have a hard time protecting Aaron Rodgers. The Jets score at least one defensive TD and are able to run the ball with LT (Packers have allowed 346 rushing yards the last two weeks) in an easy double-digit win. Yup, it's your Lock of the Week (6-1 on my LOTW this year).
Washington (+3) over DETROIT
Ugh. I have no idea who wins the game. So instead I'll offer you the No. 1 trending story on Yahoo! News as of 5:00 p.m. Thursday. Care to guess? The midterms? Nope. Tsunami in Indonesia? Close. China ending its embargo of exports to the U.S. and Japan? Well, not quite. How about "Facts of Life" star Mindy Cohn getting a makeover? And we have a winner! About time a member of that cast got some serious pub, I'm still shocked that the Charlotte Rae-Conrad Bain sex tape from 1982 didn't take off nationally.
Tennessee (+3) over SAN DIEGO
Why aren't the Titans thrown into the mix when serious Super Bowl contenders are discussed? They rank second in the NFL in points scored, third in points allowed and first in point differential. They average 4.3 yards per carry (Chris Johnson on pace for 1,513 yards and 16 TD rushes) and Vince Young -- who is probably reason No. 1 for the non-believers -- has thrown two picks in 101 pass attempts and has a 98.8 passer rating. Titans QB's: 12 TDs against five picks and they have allowed just seven TD passes with 12 INTs. I'm not sure this isn't the most complete team in the NFL as long as Vince Young plays like a top-12 quarterback.
Seattle (+3) over OAKLAND
Another coin flip. I have no idea if the Seahawks (who, with a little help from the Cardinals, could have a two game lead in the NFC West after this week. Current number of teams with a two-game division lead? Zero.) are actually good or if the Raiders are actually bad. I think both are somewhere in the middle, part of the parity orgy in the NFL this season. If they played on a neutral field somewhere I guess the Seahawks would win six out of 10 times. I'll take the points if only because Seattle has done a good job against the run this season (3.3 yards per carry) and have allowed more than 14 points just twice. Tough to think Jason Campbell will make enough plays on his own.
Tampa Bay (+3) over ARIZONA
Same thing, good luck trying to sell anyone on the idea that one team is definitively better than the other. What I like about Tampa, though, is that they have won the games they were supposed to. Sure, they were blown out twice by Pittsburgh and New Orleans, but that's almost immaterial when trying to figure who should be positioned where in the parity orgy. Tampa has beaten Cleveland, Carolina, Cincy and St. Louis. And I'll take Josh Freeman (7-3 TD/INT) over Max Hall (43.7 passer rating).
Pittsburgh (PK) over NEW ORLEANS
Drew Brees in 2009: 11 INT in 514 pass attempts
Drew Brees in 2010: 10 INT in 287 pass attempts
Brees has been by most standards pretty good in 2010 -- leads the league in TD passes, 10th in passer rating -- but fails of course next to the almost impossible standard he set in 2009. It's not totally dissimilar to what happened to Jonathan Papelbon in 2009, dropping from historically good to just good.
INDIANAPOLIS (-5.5) over Houston
The Colts are vulnerable and I think there's plenty of reason to think this is the the year they finally go 9-7 (kind of giving off a 2010 Red Sox vibe with the injuries, no?) but I just have no faith in the Texans' defense. They allowed 24 points to the Colts in Week 1 and that's their best effort this season. Plenty of bumps ahead for Indy but I think Manning shreds the Texans' D (who have allowed 1,837 yards passing and 14 TDs with just four INTs) in a two-TD win.
NEW ENGLAND (-5) over Minnesota
Backup Lock of the Week. Here's hoping Tom Brady is 30-year sportswriter level bitter about being ranked behind Brett Favre on the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of All-Time list (one of the three biggest miscarriages of justice in history, right next to Sacco and Vanzetti and the Hebner brothers screwing Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night's Main Event in 1988). But I think the Pats win 2001-style, lots of short stuff on offense and taking advantage of Favre (who is going to play, he really thinks he's Gary Cooper) with a couple of picks. Call it 34-20, Pats.