Pigskin Pick’Em: What’s the big play of the week?

  • By Nolan Rose
  • Wednesday, October 28, 2015 11:38pm
  • Sports

After two weeks of dismal results the column finally returned to black. The positive 8-6 mark against the suits in week seven leaves our season tally at 51-49-4. Of course, all of us at Sultan of Sides Headquarters strive for greatness, and the average record has left us in a foul mood. Like the worldwide leader, ESPN, we’re considering massive layoffs in our prognostication department. The dog may be the first to go!

There’s some tidy matchups in week eight that have left us hopeful as we near the midway mark of the NFL season. Can you believe that? The season goes by so quickly. A number of supposed contenders are already in must-win mode, including my Seattle Seahawks. The Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs, trendy picks in the AFC, have combined for three victories. The Cleveland Browns are still terrible, so at least we can be assured that some things will always remain.

Miami Dolphins @
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -8

Momentum is a weird thing. The Canned Tuna were lost at sea three weeks ago. Fire the coach, replace him with a dude that looks like he should be in a WWE Smackdown ring, run a few Oklahoma drills and say the magic words. That’s all you have to do to have a good football team. New England is momentum’s kryptonite. Patriots win 30-20

Seattle Seahawks @
DALLAS COWBOYS +7

The Seahawks may have finally turned the corner in a near dominant performance last Thursday in San Francisco. The one weakness? The much maligned offensive line. Despite the deficiency Seattle has more than enough to defeat an injury riddled Cowboys team. After Jerry Jones labeled Greg Hardy a respected player, team leader and worthy of a contract extension, does someone in Big D finally submit the elderly owner to a mental health clinic? I haven’t even mentioned Matt Freaking Cassel is the quarterback. Citing anti-jinx policies. Cowboys win 17-14

DETROIT LIONS @
Kansas City Chiefs -5.5

The NFL excels at providing its international audience with great football! Last week Darth Goodell sent the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars across the pond. Thrilling stuff. This week the blokes in London will be treated to an equally riveting Lions-Chiefs matchup. These two powderpuffs are a combined 3-11 this season. Only Goodell could leave all of England yearning for the next Newcastle-Sunderland showdown. Detroit covers, because somebody has to. Lions win 23-20

TAMPA BAY BUCS @
Atlanta Falcons -7.5

Atlanta’s early season rise to prosperity was followed by three straight sub-par performances. In the last three weeks the Falcons have failed to cover against NFL afterthoughts Washington and Tennessee. Paired with a loss in New Orleans, and the Falcons are a shaky bet, despite the lofty 6-1 mark. Tampa will find a way to lose this game, in typical Bucs fashion, but the Jolly Rogers will do enough to cover a two-score spread. Falcons win 27-24

ARIZONA CARDINALS @
Cleveland Browns +4.5

Arizona is a good football team. Cleveland is not. Is further analysis necessary? The Browns are 0-2-1 ATS at home this season. That’s very Browns-like. Starting quarterback Josh McCown is hobbled, and may be replaced by the mercurial Johnny Football. It doesn’t matter who throws the ball, Arizona is not losing this game. Cardinals win 30-14

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @
St. Louis Rams -9.5

Remember Clarion faithful, the Rams are good when you think they’re not, and they’re bad when you think they’re good. St. Louis topped a miserable Browns team 24-6 a week ago. San Francisco looked like they couldn’t beat the Soldotna Stars last Thursday against Seattle. St. Louis is going to roll a dysfunctional 49ers team, right? Wrong! St. Louis wins but fails to cover. Rams win 20-13

New York Giants @
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -3

The Saints are marching! After a lackluster beginning to their 2015 campaign New Orleans has reeled off victories in three of their last four contests to remain relevant in the NFC. The Fighting Blueberries have been playing some good ball as well. Both teams feel like 8-8 teams by seasons end, making it fitting if both leave week eight at 4-4. A New Orleans win will do just that. Saints win 28-21

MINNESOTA VIKINGS @
Chicago Bears even

The 4-2 Vikings travel to the Windy City to take on the 2-4 Chicago Bears. The Vikings have a feel of a good football team. Strong defense, solid rushing attack, to go with an improving young passer. A win this Sunday, vaulting the Vikings to 5-2, right in the middle of the NFC playoff race, would be a huge step forward. The Bears have been up and down, and certainly are capable of winning this game at home, but the play here is the Vikings take that next step and secure a crucial road victory. Vikings win 31-28

San Diego Chargers @
BALTIMORE RAVENS -3

What happened to these two teams? Baltimore was a trendy pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. San Diego was supposed to challenge Denver in the AFC West. Neither of those two things will happen with both teams accounting for three total wins through seven weeks of football. When it’s a coin flip, and the spread is equal to or less than field goal, the safe play is to side with the home team. Ravens win 28-24

Cincinnati Bengals @
PITTSBURGH STEELERS even

This game comes down to who’s playing quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The line suggests that Big Ben is playing. If he wasn’t, an undefeated Bengals team would be a clear favorite. With that in mind we’ll side with the home team, but if Roethlisberger doesn’t play, take the Bengals. Steelers win 26-23

Tennessee Titans @
Houston Texans no line

I can’t find a line anywhere on the internet for this contest. Not ESPN, not Bovada, even Google is clueless. Siri responded, by saying “both teams will lose”… That’s not true, but I wish it wasn’t! The status of Titans QB Marcus Mariota is certainly a factor.

New York Jets @
OAKLAND RAIDERS +1

Oakland is a great play here. The New York Jets are an improved team, but let’s not get carried away with Ryan Fitzpatrick leading Gang Green to glory. After a disappointing loss in Boston to their rival New England Patriots, it will be a challenge for New York to bring that same energy across the country to Oakland. The Raiders are a young, talented offense. Amari Cooper is looking forward to working on his tan on Revis Island. Raiders win 24-20

GREEN BAY PACKERS @
Denver Broncos +3

Broncos fans love to tell you how great their team is. This team’s a mirage. 13-27, that’s the combined record of Denver’s opponents. Hardly murderer’s row. The Minnesota Vikings are the only team Denver has faced with a record better than .500. Let’s see how good the Broncos are against a capable opponent. The undefeated Packers are that and more. If Denver is 7-0 after this Sunday I’ll be a believer in Peyton Manning’s bionic arm. Somebody get the WD-40 out! Packers win 31-20

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @
Carolina Panthers -7.5

Colts passer Andrew Luck is truly a lucky fellow. When Luck plays well, he’s “carrying” a bad Colts team to victory. When Luck plays poorly the team needs to do a better job of assembling a cast around him. This is life for the media-appointed chosen one. It’s never Luck’s fault! The bottom line is Luck has been awful so far this season. At some point he’ll turn the corner and start playing well again. Maybe this is week. I don’t expect the Colts to win this Monday, but a tasty backdoor cover is in play. Panthers win 27-20

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