Last week my picks were 2-2. I was right on the Cowboys and Ravens, wrong on the Bengals and Packers. All I can say is that the Bengals played like they were the crappy team, although I had to turn the game off because the annoucing crew was so awful. And the Packers game, well, I did say if 1999 Kurt Warner came to play, the Packers would be in trouble. Whichever team lost that game was going to be pissed because they both knew they had a chance to win. On to the games for this week - which is, as others have said, the best week of football all year.
Game #1 - Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints
The Saints didn't look very good down the stretch, but they had very little to play for, and remember, 2 months ago, after they destroyed the Patriots on Monday Night, they looked like one of the great teams of all-time. They are home, in front of what will be a very loud crowd. Drew Brees could have been league MVP this year. The defense creates a lot of turnovers. And the Cardinals gave up 45 points last week, and it looks like the Saints have an even more explosive offense than the Packers did.
Of course, I am picking the Cardinals. If the past two years have taught us anything, it's that Kurt Warner needs to be in discussion as one of the great Quaterbacks of the past 25 years. If he were to somehow get the Cardinals all the way to the Super Bowl this year, and even WIN it all, I think you would have to put him on a list of the greatest of all-time. Against the Packers he threw 5 passes that resulted in TDs. He threw FOUR passes that landed incomplete. That's just shocking. If you are gambling on this game, I just don't think you can put yourself in a position where you lose money because Warner had a huge day. You would feel stupid.
I am picking Cardinals +7, and I think they will win it outright: Cardinals 38, Saints 30
Game #2 - Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have lost in the playoffs at home after a bye 3 times in the past 10 years. They quit playing for keeps during the regular season, and that was about a month ago. Honestly, had they NOT won the Super Bowl a few years ago (which they DID win, I understand, but remember that Rex Grossman was prominently involved), they would be on a short list of biggest chokers in history.
The Ravens made it all the way to the AFC title game last year, and look even meaner than usual, especially last week against a crappy Patriots team. No, I don't like QB Flacco - he looked old last week and he's not old, so that's a bad sign. I think the Ravens will play with more emotion. Look out if the Colts D gets after Flacco too much, but I think the Ravens running game will keep that from happening. And let's face it, I don't think the Colts are too happy about playing the Ravens this week. The Colts won a lot of close games this year, and I think they will lose this one.
I am taking Ravens +6.5, and to win outright, 24-17
Game #3 - Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings
I haven't had this amount of anticipation about a game in a long time. It's almost more than I can handle. This game will come down to how well the Vikins offensive line plays against the Cowboys defensive line. If the Vikings can control that line of scrimmage, they'll be fine. If you see Favre running for his life and getting a lot of pressure, it will get real quiet in the Metrodome real fast. I think that having the extra week to prepare will be a big advantage for the Vikings in that regard.
On the other side of the ball, I am not scared of Romo. He's been ok recently, but he has been a choker in the past. If our defensive secondary can tackle, the Vikings will be fine. Fat Pat Williams and Kevin Williams will be important, too. As always, if Jared Allen has a big game, the Cowboys have no chance.
Vegas seems to like the Cowboys, only giving a customer 3 points to the road team. I don't htink it will be that close.
I am taking Vikings -3. Minnesota 35, Dallas 20
(There's nothing better than beating overconfident Cowboys. It's very satisfying to watch them cry as they leave the field).
Game #4 - NY Jets @ San Diego Chargers
Look, this is a VERY good Chargers team. This is the week that we see the Jets exposed as a very borderline playoff team. I don't see any way that the Chargers can be stopped - they are my pick to get to the Superbowl in the AFC right now. The Jets had a nice run, but their rookie QB isn't taking them any further, and the Chargers have too many passing weapons for the Jets to stop. This looks like a blowout.
I've got Chargers -7. San Diego 38, Jets 13
All you know now is that at least one of these predictions will be wrong. Proceed at your own risk!