By Ron Borges
We came tumbling back to earth last Sunday and it was a hard landing.
After going 4-2 the week before, the Pick 6 reversed field and came in at 2-4 as the Falcons proved Bobby Petrino wasn’t the only problem in Atlanta, the Bills, of all people, proved they couldn’t handle the snow and the Giants proved their name is spelled with a small “g’’ after losing to the Redskins.
But with two weeks remaining in the regular season we venture forth into this weekend with renewed faith. Not in the Falcons or the giants, to be sure, but faith that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.
So with holiday cheer and a Tuna sandwich, we try again.
1. Cleveland – 2 ½ @ CINCINNATI – If the Browns win they’re in. If the Bengals win they still stink. I say ignore the odorous and go with Cleveland, which won their first meeting 51-45 in Week 2. Jamal Lewis is averaging 141 yards a game rushing the past two weeks and the Bengals are 24th in the league in run defense. Lay the points and take the BROWNS in a runaway.
NEARLY 50-50 CHANCE MEANS YOU LOSE THE VIG
2. Green Bay – 8 !/2 @ CHICAGO – That’s a big number to be giving up on the road in December, when the weather can wreck havoc on any team, but Chicago authored one of the Packers’ two losses and don’t think Green Bay has forgotten it because now it’s of great import. For a time it appeared the Cowboys had a lock on homefield advantage through out the playoffs but Dallas’ misstep a week ago vs. the Eagles has opened up the door and given Green Bay something real to play for. The Pack knows what a home field edge it would have if it faced Dallas in the NFC title game at Lambeau Field. Chicago played hard on MNonday night and came up short against the Vikings in a game they could have won. Not much left in their tank so the play is to lay the points and go with the PACKERS.
3. TITANS –8 ½ vs. NY Jets – The Jets may be a spent shell after giving all they had and still coming up short last weekend vs. the Patriots. The teams that have given New England the hardest time this season – Colts, Ravens, Eagles – didn’t cover the next week. That may be because they were emotionally spent or physically beaten up. Whatever it was, respect that streak and go with the team that still has something to play for. Tennessee is 8-6 in the most competitive division in football and tends to beat down bad teams with a defense that shuts down the run and makes opponents like the Jets one dimensional. If they do that Sunday the Jets may be non-dimensional and non-competitive. Take the TITANS giving 8 ½.
THIS IS WHY THEY CALL IT GAMBLING
4. SAN DIEGO – 8 ½ vs. Denver – Giving up more than a touchdown in three games is not advisable but that’s the direction I’m heading, which is probably why my record is what it is against the spread. Still, San Diego seems to have found itself and is hoping for the No. 3 seed, thus avoiding a trip to New England before the AFC championship game. That’s surely something to play for. Denver, meanwhile, was abysmal the first time it played San Diego at home, losing 41-3. Have you seen anything to convince you they’ve changed? If so, you’re a Mile High just like the city of Denver. Lay the points and go with the CHARGERS.
5. BUFFALO + 2 ½ vs. NY giants – The Bills let us down a week ago when they caved in to the Browns in the snow and lost 8-0 but now they get to play for the state championship, which is better than nothing. Weather is supposed to be wet and windy, which doesn’t bode well for Eli Manning. Jeremy Shockey is out, Plaxico Burress is hurting and the giants haven’t beaten a team with a winning record all year. The Bills haven’t beaten a team with a winning record either but they should have one themselves. Appearance of LB Keith Everett will give Buffalo an emotional lift as well. It’s his first time back since being nearly crippled early in the season. Bet on the giants to continue what has become an annual December swoon and take the home dog BILLS.
6. JACKSONVILLE -13 vs. Oakland – The Raiders have been competitive in a lot of games this season, they just haven’t been able to win many so 13 points is a lot to give when the Jags have nothing much to gain. But this is Oakland’s second lengthy road trip in three weeks and they’re coming to face a very physical team that can pound the life out of you. They also seem hellbent on giving JaMarcus Russell some playing time even if it costs them the game, as it may have a week ago. The Jags, meanwhile, need one more win to clinch a wild-card berth by the way so Jack Del Rio will be all over his team to get that done at the Raiders expense rather than going into the final weekend of the season not sure where they’ll end up. Oakland’s also kicking off at 10 a.m. West Coast time, which means they may be asleep for a while. Give the big number and take the JAGUARS.
Last Week: 2-4
Record to date: 14-28
Upset special: 4-3.