As promised, here are the 4 winners you can take to the bank this weekend:
NY Jets @ Cincinnati- Line: Bengals by 2.5
So the Jets have gone from Super Bowl contender to being a few years away to being a bad team to being a good team who can compete for a playoffs spot to a team that "still isn't ready" to now the trendy pick to make noise in the AFC all in the span of 4 months. And to make things even sillier, that "serious threat" status they have now comes on the heels of getting 2 games handed to them by the Colts and the same Bengals they beat last week.
Sure the Bengals tried in the first half and still got their shit pushed in, but the bottom line is they had nothing to play for, they knew it, and they knew the Jets did, so they eased up and let things play out. Now they have almost become the forgotten team despite having a running game and defense just as strong as that of the Jets.
The major advantage Cincy does have is in the QB spot, and in today's NFL that means more than having a big-time RB. Carson Palmer has the experience and the smarts to win a game for you in the playoffs; Mark Sanchez does not. Period. The running game and defense will cancel each other and Palmer will pull a Shooter McGavin on Sanchez, showing him how we do things in the pros, and that will be the difference.
The Pick: Bengals 24 Jets 10
Philadelphia @ Dallas- Line: Cowboys by 4
Dallas seems to be peaking while the Eagles were stru-ggl-ing last week in a game that held big ramifications. Finally, after countless postseason fuck-ups, Tony Romo appears poised to prove he can perform well and win in the postseason and finally earn his spot in the top tier of NFL QBs that so many analysts are dying to put him in.
That being said, Dallas' inability to step up in big games over the past decade does linger in the back of one's mind like a bad fart in an elevator. Their secondary is due for a torching, Roy Williams flat-out sucks at football, and Romo is the same guy who couldn't get a hold down on an extra point and has never shown a consistent ability to hold onto the ball or complete passes to guys in the same jersey he has on in the playoffs.
After getting hacked up last week, expect the Eagles' D to be bringing the heat against Romo and looking to force turnovers while their offense looks to get back on track and test the Dallas secondary with their bevy of burners at WR. McNabb and DeSean Jackson will hook up for 2 TDs and a late Romo pick will kill a Dallas comeback and clinch a win for Philly in an exciting game.
The Pick: Eagles 33 Cowboys 27
Baltimore @ New England- Line: Pats by 3
Baltimore was once again a trendy preseason pick to make the Super Bowl out of the AFC and once again failed to deliver on that hype despite having a solid O-line, multi-talented RB, big-armed QB coming into a second season in his system, and a still respectable defense. The fact is, they just haven't been able to put it all together this season and every group on that team has faltered at one point or another. Not exactly the recipe for a first-round upset.
The Pats, despite losing Wes Welker last week, are still a more talented team and have enough weapons in their offensive arsenal to do what they want to do. Add to that the fact that they will be getting Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren back to anchor the D-line and they have the evil genius Bill Belichick coaching them, and the Pats should be able to handle the Ravens easily on Sunday, using Welker's absence as motivation. Expect Tom Brady to carve up the Ravens like Bernard Pollard carved up his knee last year.
The Pick: Patriots 29 Ravens 16
Green Bay @ Arizona- Line: Even
Arizona was another team that took the week off last week, but as their season has shown, they are the team that can least afford to do that. They have looked great in beating up on the Vikings and absolutely pathetic in getting beaten by the 49ers and have done nothing to earn some of the sleeper praise they are getting from people. The week off combined with the potential absense of Anquan Boldin shouldn't make Cardinal fans feel warm and cozy about their offense going into the game.
Since falling to 4-4, the Packers have been hitting on all cylinders the last couple months. The defense finally got a good grasp of the 3-4 and Aaron Kampman's injury proved to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed for Clay Matthews to spend more time on the field where he belongs. He should be running wild all day on Sunday and there isn't a chance in hell that Kurt Warner is going to be able to avoid his pressure.
Boldin being on the sideline while Charles Woodson is on the field should be a huge difference maker as it will allow Woodson to focus solely on Larry Fitzgerald. Aaron Rodgers will be looking to expose the injuries in the Arizona secondary and connect on multiple deep shots to Jennings and Driver. The Packers will make more plays and fewer mistakes than the Jekyll-and-Hyde Cardinals and advance. (No homerism in that pick at all)
I know it's a bit late, but I just wanted to pay my respects to the recently retired Randy Johnson.
You had a great career, buddy. Certainly Hall of Fame-worthy. But probably more than anybody else, you symbolized what was wrong with the Yankees in the mid-2000s. I, for one, didn't crack a smile when you came into town but was beyond ecstatic when you left.
So adios, big fella, and don't worry; you won't ever have to deal with anybody getting in your face or talking back to you ever again.