A Pig's Pigskin Picks
Raiders at Ravens: A few years ago I came perilously close to completely losing interest in the NBA. It just got to the point where it seemed like there were way too many guys who were...well...assholes. They dogged it in games, the were always being arrested, they beat up coaches in the locker room, etc. It just seemed like the NBA had become unlikeable. Luckily, it's improved in recent years.
Sadly, I'm starting to sense a bit of it in the NFL these days. Oh, I'm not losing interest or anything - at least not yet - but there is an alarming amount of assholes in the league, and it seems to be getting worse. T.O. is only the tip of the iceberg. It's Steve Foley and the Cincinnati Bengals and anyone who played college ball at West Virginia. And so on and so on. There is far too little class anymore.
The point I'm getting to in a roundabout way is that the Raiders' Jerry Porter is rocketing to the top of the list of NFL assholes. First, he doesn't want to play for the Raiders and criticizes Art Shell. Then he, allegedly, was pumping his fists and laughing as his team was pummelled on Monday night by the Bolts. Then he denied that charge by saying he wasn't even paying attention to the game.
Look, kick this fucker out of the league. Now. And anyone like him.
Oh, and the Raiders are garbage. Ravens in another rout.
Straight up: Ravens
Spread: Ravens -13
Texans at Colts: Peyton Manning is surely anxious to get rolling after being limited to one mere touchdown pass last week. The turf in Indy will look real appealing to him, not mention the Texans lining up opposite him. Granted, the Colts are going to have a hard time stopping the run this year, which will cost them a shot at the Super Bowl. (Again.) Unfortunately for the Texans, they have no running game, at least until Reggie Bush becomes acclimated to their offense. Oh, wait.
Meanwhile, can we please, please, please stop with all the talk of the Colts finally reaching the Super Bowl this year. I can't believe how many people think this is their time. The Colts window has closed, baby. Hell, with Manning there to pull his annual choke job, the window was never really open. It was all a mirage and still is. The Colts are going downhill at this point. Mark my words.
Straight up: Colts
Spread: Colts -13
Browns at Bengals: You know, this should really be a great in-state rivalry game. Too bad.
Straight up: Bengals
Spread: Bengals -10
Bills at Dolphins: I caught a bit of Dick Jauron's press conference following the Bills' loss to New England last week and it all seemed so familiar. Here in Chitown we know all about Jauron's Mr. Nice Guy routine. Not that it's fake. Oh, he's a genuinely nice guy. But as a fan it becomes nauseating to witness, week after week, your coach explain away another loss in a tone that would make Mr. Rogers look scary. I get the feeling that Jauron's wife or daughter could be raped and he'd say something like, "Well, now, this is certainly a bad situation, but we all get sexually frustrated sometimes. I'm sure this guy has some issues, but hopefully, he can deal with them and come back stronger than before. I'm confident this can happen."
One of Life's great mysteries is the Bills' fascination with horrible, yet undeniably handsome, quarterbacks. First it was Rob Johnson. Now it's J.P. Losman. (Admit it, you think they're good-looking dudes, too. It's OK. It doesn't make you gay or anything. OK, maybe a litte - but just a little.) Look, they're the same guy...and that guy stinks. It's as if when a guy looks like a quarterback - and both Johnson and Losman have that Hollywoodesque, handsome QB thing going on - then the Bills are convinced that if they trot the dude out behind center enough times he'll eventually be adequate. Wrong. What the Bills need to do is find the ugliest motherfucker they can and start him. Immediately. Think Steve Buscemi with a decent arm.
Straight up: Dolphins
Spread: Dolphins -6
Lions at Bears: What's the over/under on the number of catches Roy Williams makes this week after guaranteeing a victory? I'm putting it at three and I'm taking the under.
For Rex Grossman, this is great opportunity to show that he's arrived. The Lions defense limited the Seahawks to three field goals last week, which is none too shabby. Let's see what Grossman can do against them.
Straight up: Bears
Spread: Lions +9.5
Panthers at Vikings: For all of the ample talk of the Panthers being the Super Bowl favorite in the NFC, I have a question: Does any team in the league depend offensively on one player as much as the Panthers depend on Steve Smith? I'm not jumping off the Panthers bandwagon. I love me some John Fox and think they'll be there when the dust settles, contending away as usual. But it seems that even when Smith returns to health, if you can stop him (or at least slow him down) then the Panthers suddenly are very ordinary. He's clearly the heart, the pulse, the soul.
Straight up: Vikings
Spread: Vikings -1
Giants at Eagles: After being dragged through the mud by the T.O. disgrace last season, I'm a big fan of the Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb revival in 2006. I was left speechless last year when people - and there were more than a few out there - were actually pointing fingers at Reid and McNabb as if they somehow had anything to do with T.O. being a selfish dickhead. It was unreal. Both Reid and McNabb have been nothing but class acts in the NFL and the willingness of some to forget that and side with T.O., who has been nothing but trouble wherever he has been, was truly baffling. I'm certainly hoping that the Eagles bounce back to their winning ways just so Reid and McNabb can have the last laugh.
Meanwhile, the possibility of Eli Manning falling to 0-2 has me giddy with excitement, not to mention the thought of Archie Manning watching in horror. Please make this happen. The only thing that would make it even better would be if Eli throws a late pick or two to seal the Eagles' win. And I bet that's how it actually goes down - just as it usually does with the Mannings. I can't wait.
Straight up: Eagles
Spread: Eagles -3
Bucs at Falcons: Speaking of things that baffle me, I was thoroughly confused by all of the love Chris Simms received in the offseason. Has everyone else been following the same Simms career I have been? Dude has been an underachieving, mediocre quarterback ever since he arrived on the Texas campus as a college freshman. So he had a few solid games in 2005? So what? Look, if Simms is your starting quarterback, you're in big trouble. He's not starter material. He just isn't. Trust me on this. Yeah, I realize this truth might break the heart of Phil Simms, but oh well. His son is mediocre at best, and I'm seeing bad things happening to him in the loud Georgia Dome this weekend. Give it a few weeks and John Gruden will be sorely missing Brian Griese.
Straight up: Falcons
Spread: Falcons -5.5
Saints at Packers: Ugh. The only important question surrounding this dirty diaper of a game is this: If the Pack doesn't win here, might they go 0-16?
Straight up: Saints
Spread: Saints -2
Rams at 49ers: Prediction time: Alex Smith will fail to pass for half of the yards he did last week (288). Just watch.
Straight up: Rams
Spread: Rams -3
Cardinals at Seahawks: Supposedly, this is the year the Cardinals finally turn their fortunes around. They have a new stadium, Edgerrin James, a stellar stable of receivers, and football's Golden Boy, Matt Leinart. Well, if it's going to happen then this is a huge game for 'Zona. Going into Seattle and playing tough against the division heavweight would go a long way in establishing their validity.
However, I don't have much condfidence in a Cards defense that gave up 27 points to Alex Smith and the Niners, especially when the Seahawks are returning home and looking to shake off the doldrums they experienced last week in Motown.
Straight up: Seahawks
Spread: Cardinals +7
Patriots at Jets: Interesting timing for this game considering the Pats have just accused the Jets of tampering following the Deion Branch debacle.
Does anyone else feel like the Pats are messing with karma? They've always been remarkably cheap, but somehow managed to make it work. How often have we heard the media praise the Pats for their ability to penny pinch their way out of a situation with a vet only to adequately replace him with a cheaper, younger player? Oh, how smart the Patriots are, we've been told and told. But this whole Branch thing strikes me as the Pats foolishly angering the football gods. It seems they're letting their stubbornness get the best of them and letting go their best receiver merely to prove a point that they won't be held hostage by anyone. Will it come back to haunt them? I think so. Yeah, Tom Brady is great, but at some point you have to wonder if he has enough toys to work with, maybe not now, but in January.
Straight up: Patriots
Spread: Jets +6
Titans at Chargers: The Chargers will roll to a 2-0, most likely in comfortable fashion, and still nobody will know exactly how good they are. Beating up on the Raiders and Titans proves little, though it is a fantastic way for Philip Rivers to ease his way into the starter's role at QB and gain a little confidence.
Here's hoping Vince Young sees some action if only because it'll be a lot of fun to watch Shawn Merriman try to run him down. Merriman is a man, baby!
Straight up: Chargers
Spread: Chargers -11.5
Chiefs at Broncos: So how long until the Chiefs sign Jeff George? Good lord, their quarterback position is a mess now that Trent Green is out. It shouldn't be long now before Herm Edwards has a meltdown and we all get to witness an absolutely classic postgame press coference. I'm looking forward to it.
I hate to bore you with my fantasy concerns, but I have a request for Mike Shanahan: Forget Mike Bell! Run Tatum Bell left, Tatum Bell right, and Tatum Bell up the middle! And for the love of all that is holy, give Tatum Bell the ball deep in the red zone! Please! The Unknown Column needs it.
Straight up: Broncos
Spread: Chiefs +10.5
Redskins at Cowboys: Hmm. The Cowboys first home game. A national television audience on a Sunday night. Their biggest rival in town. Yup, this seems like a great time for the inevitable T.O. attack of Drew Bledsoe, no?
One of these coachs, Bill Parcells or Joe Gibbs, is about to fall to 0-2 and begin planning what they'll be doing at this time next year.
Straight up: Cowboys
Spread: Redskins +6
Steelers at Jaguars: Great. We get a Monday night telecast to hear all about Ben Roethlisberger's appendectomy. I'll be sure to have no sharp objects near me so as not to be tempted to plunge something into my ears.
Straight up: Steelers
Spread: Steelers -1.5
Straight up: 0-0
Against the spread: 0-0
Straight up: 0-0
Against the spread: 0-0