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The Profit

Alright, this is getting to be a bit ridiculous. Those numbers you see at the bottom of this article are U-G-L-Y. Not just a little bit ugly, like Ashlee Simpson. I'm talking full-on disgusting…more like Nicolette Sheridan.

<cue emails telling me how insane I am>

But I digress. The reason we're here is to talk about my horrid opening to the season. Last year at this point, I was 29-27-2, which is within a handful of games of my current mark. So why is this year considered so poor? Because I was a full 4.5 games better on my best bets. I didn't even get off to a great start last year, at just 9-7…yet the 5-10-1 spot I've put on the board the first few weeks haven't exactly instilled a great deal of confidence. Of course, this cold stretch (my first extended one in three years of picking games) would HAVE to come early in the season, right? I mean, who's going to bother reading the guy who can't even pick games at a 50% clip? If I was at least funny, or taught you something, there would be reason to come around, right? But no. There's very little of that going on, so my only way out is to simply do a better job. How do I go about that? Easy. I stop playing my weekly pool.

That's right, it might sound crazy to you but I've found it has worked wonders in the past. I'm picking games this week with no monetary incentive. I will not have my thoughts clouded by visions of a couple of new DVDs or a down payment on 2006 Yankees season tickets. No, this week I will simply pick games and be done with it. No cash involved. Why does this work? I think it has something to do with taking the pressure off. Just like an athlete who is able to focus better when things are simplified, the football writer also feels pressure. Ok, so perhaps it isn't EXACTLY the same…but it's similar nonetheless. So anyway, these picks are being submitted just for kicks. No ulterior motive for me, I just want to be more right than wrong for a change. Also, we're going back to "Lock Of the Week", which has to this point been known as "Pick Of the Week". I've been lacking in confidence, so using the word "lock" will at least make me feel a bit smarter, even if I'm the same idiot I was a week ago. With that in mind, I'm picking SEVEN dogs to cover the spread this week. Hey, the way I figure…in the immortal words of Jack Buck, at an appropriate time of year…

"Go crazy, folks…go crazy!"

On to the picks…

Source: Yahoo.com

ATLANTA (-3) vs. NEW ENGLAND
After last week's shellacking, a friend turned to me and said, "This is the perfect time to start betting on the Pats…everybody will underestimate them." This game was my preseason Super Bowl preview, and I haven't seen enough to this point to count either team out of the running. Sure, the Patriots have some holes that they'll need to plug, and yes it'll be tough to do so. But does anyone doubt that they'll find a way to get something done? As for Atlanta, that running game is giving opponents fits. I've said for years, if T.J. Duckett can ever learn to be a real running back, this team will be a powerhouse. Save for a tough loss at Seattle in which Vick was injured, the Falcons have pretty much beaten down all challengers so far. I hate going against Atlanta in a home game like this, but I just can't envision New England being a sub-.500 team after Week 5. PICK: Patriots

BUFFALO (-2.5) vs. MIAMI
It really doesn't matter who the Bills throw back there at QB. Their defense is not close to what it was with the loss of Spikes, and it's not as if Losman is being benched in favor of Johnny Unitas' ghost. It's Kelly Holcomb! The Miami defense has come to play each game to this point, and I expect them to do enough on the offensive end to not only cover, but to win the game outright. PICK: Dolphins

CLEVELAND (-3) vs. CHICAGO
If Kyle Orton gets off to another rough start this week alone the lines of what he did in Week 3, I think we'll see him seated firmly on the bench. And make no mistake, the hook will be quick. Each team has had a full two weeks to prepare for the opponent, and you can be sure that neither coach is going to come into this game surprised by anything its opponent will do. When it's a tough call such as this one, I like to use the following. Does either team have a really good offense? Nope. Does either team have a really good defense? Yup. When one team (Chicago) has a dominant unit on at least one side of the ball, my tendency is to lean towards that unit coming through the biggest. It's not rocket science, it just makes sense. PICK: Bears

DETROIT (-1.5) vs. BALTIMORE
Detroit did an okay job of moving the ball against a tough Bucs defense last week. Still, it's nothing like what they'll face this week against the Ravens. Meanwhile, Detroit is one of the few defenses in the league that Baltimore will actually be able to move the ball against. I'm not saying the Ravens are anywhere near a good team, but they should be able to steal a road victory from a very bad Lions team. PICK: Ravens

GREEN BAY (-3) vs. NEW ORLEANS
This, to me, is the toughest game to call this week. I'm not much of a believer in either of these teams right now, and would have a tough time placing too much faith in either of them. The fact that the line is -3 for the home team tells me that Vegas doesn't know what the heck to make of this game either. It's almost like they said, "Hell…they both suck…let's make it three and call it a day." It's such a typical "favorite" point spread. Almost like they gave Green Bay the favorite spot because of the home team angle and Favre. Why else is the 0-4 team favored? In any case, an already bad team, coming off a heartbreaking and basically season-ending loss, with its running back banged-up, is not a team I want to be putting too much trust in. PICK: Saints.

HOUSTON (-3) vs. TENNESSEE
Upon further review, perhaps Tennessee is a bit better than their record indicates. Not that they're littered with talent, mind you. But in looking at their games to this point, they've lost to two of the best teams in the AFC, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. They lost another on the road against Saint Louis, where the Rams are always very tough. And then they beat up on Baltimore. The 1-3 record is a bit deceptive. They aren't going to have a very good season, but they're also probably a step above the dregs of the league. The Texans, on the other hand, are a complete dreg. While I do expect Andre Johnson to take the first step back to respectability this week, I don't think the Texans will have enough to cover even a measly three points against the Titans. PICK: Titans

JACKSONVILLE (-2.5) vs. CINCINNATI
The Jags are the NFL's second-best team against the pass this year, and that's WITH facing the likes of Matt Hasselbeck, Peyton Manning, and Jake Plummer. The problem with the Jaguars is that they're getting torched by the opponents' run games to the tune of 130 yards per game. Now THAT may have something to do with going up against Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, and Mike Anderson. So how do I see this one shaking out? Well, I can't get past the sneaky suspicion that the Bengals are beating up on much lesser defenses. That isn't to say the Cincinnati offense isn't great - it is. But it may be a slight notch below what we've seen against a team like Jacksonville. I also think the Bengal defense has played way over its head to this point, and you can't expect to creat 5+ turnovers against the Jags. Finally, when's the last time a 4-0 team was an underdog against a team coming off a 13-point loss? Sometimes, the oddsmakers can be your friends. PICK: Jaguars

SAINT LOUIS (-3) vs. SEATTLE
The schizos get together under the bit top for another installment of "Whose defense will collapse in a big spot first?" Keep in mind, the line still sits at 3 right now despite the likelihood that Seattle will be without its starting wideouts for the game. Advantage, Rams. Here is the big key to the game for me, though. If the Rams or Seahawks play at home, you usually want to take them. If they play on the road, you usually want to take the team they're playing against. So this week, with both factors in our favor, why wouldn't one take the Rams at home against the depleted Hawks? Anyone? PICK: Rams

TAMPA BAY (-3) at NEW YORK JETS
I'm sorry, but Tampa just hasn't impressed me like they have everyone else. I know, I know, 4-0 blah blah blah. Keep in mind, this is a team that hasn't beaten a single good opponent yet, barely edging Green Bay and Detroit (two of the league's doormats) by a combined 5 points. In fact, had the officials gotten the call right against the Lions last week, the Bucs would be 3-1 and coming off a home loss to the lowly Lions. There's no way they'd then be favored heading into a road game. And now they're Stop 1 on the Vinny reunion tour? No thank you, I'm out for this hand. PICK: Jets

SAN DIEGO (-3) vs. PITTSBURGH
The old adage says to never let yourself be fooled by what you saw the previous week. In truth, I was prepared to take Pittsburgh in this game and not look back. But after injuries to so many key guys (Ward, Haggans, Porter), I suddenly love San Diego's chances. I know it's tough to take a team coming off a bye week, but the Chargers are still riding the high of their past two offensive explosions. This insanely difficult stretch of games they're currently in the midst of will tell us a lot about them, but if there's one thing they showed last week, it's that they are not simply going to roll over like past San Diego teams have done. Another offensive show could very well be in the works, though don't count out Troy Polamalu from having something to say about that. As great as he is (and I expect him to have a big game), I fear he won't have enough help around him to slow the multifaceted Charger offense. PICK: Chargers

BEST BETS

CAROLINA (-2.5) at ARIZONA
Watching the Monday night game, I got this sense that I heavily overrated the Panthers' defense. I mean, sure - they've got great playmakers and some big-name guys. And John Fox is an excellent defensive strategist. But great defenses put teams like Green Bay away. I realize that Favre had a lot to do with that and everything, but if you play good defense, even the great Favre isn't going to crack you. It got me more than a little bit concerned. Now take Arizona. Josh McCown went out and only had the game of his life last week. One would see what happened in the prime time games last weekend, assume that the Arizona offense is legit, the Carolina defense is crappy, and the Cardinals will take this game. Not so fast. While I don't want to overestimate the Panthers defense, I'd feel a lot more comfortable being wrong about that than I would about overrating the Arizona offense. I'll take my chances that the fluke amongst these two teams was the one led by Josh McCown, not the one led by Julius Peppers. PICK: Panthers

DENVER (-7) vs. WASHINGTON
I like the Redskins defense a lot - I really do. But against the Seahawks last week, they allowed Matt Hasselbeck to complete nearly 70% of his passes for almost 250 yards, and allowed Seattle runners to gain about five yards per carry on the ground. That sort of effort just won't cut it in Denver - not by a long shot. There will be those who'll tell you that you have to get on board as Clinton Portis seeks to exact revenge on his former teammates. Don't listen. I'd much rather go with the "Who knows Portis better than Shanahan" philosophy, and expect the Denver scheme to be able to slow him, if not completely stop him. There is little doubt that the Broncos will be able to move the ball downfield against Washington, and should come away victorious. That much was pretty solid. But when the line came out for this game at -7, I must say I was surprised. I expected it to be somewhere around 3-4 points. I figured there's no way an undefeated team could be a touchdown underdog at this point in the season, so I'm betting that Vegas knows more than I do about this game and have propped the line accordingly. PICK: Broncos

INDIANAPOLIS (-14.5) at SAN FRANCISCO
Any defense that allows Josh McCown to approach 400 yards and whip the ball around the field like that certainly causes me to stand up and take notice. For I want to be first in line when they face a real live offense. It matters little where this game is played. The Colts found themselves last week, and the Niners will be starting a first-time QB against a solid defense. The reason this line is "only" 14.5 is because a 21-point spread would make it too obvious. PICK: Colts

PHILADELPHIA (-3) at DALLAS
I'm sorry, but I don't think a change of venue slows this Eagles offense down any. Terrell Owens may set records this week. PICK: Eagles

LOCK OF THE WEEK: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES


LAST WEEK

  • OVERALL: 6-8
  • BEST BETS: 1-3
  • PICK OF WEEK: 0-1

SEASON TOTALS

  • OVERALL: 28-31-1 (47.5%)
  • BEST BETS: 5-10-1 (33.3%)
  • PICK OF WEEK: 1-3 (25.0%)
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