The 2009 NFL Picks
Week three


Are you ready for this one? Ok… how many underdogs beat the spread last week? Since New Orleans was in a pick ‘em situation, we won’t include them. That leaves us with 8. In half of the games, the underdog covered. And actually, that probably sounds about right. It isn’t… since the line is designed to get betting on both sides and shouldn’t truly be considered a solid opinion of what is expected to happen. But… for our casual viewing… when the favorites win half the time, lose half the time, and an occasional tie is tossed in… it works.

So guess how many of those eight won the game outright.


Seven… 7… one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. And so it goes… if you plan to pick the underdog, having a sense that they can win the game is important. (And… well… it’s still a shot in the dark.)

Seven of them not only beat the spread, they won… with only St. Louis beating the spread but losing the game. (And I blame Washington for that. How the hell are they favored by a touchdown again?)

Two weeks done and now we start to learn some things. New England and Pittsburgh… still in my mind the two best teams in the AFC… need to do some work, because even so much as a playoff spot isn’t a given for them the way they’ve played.

Baltimore… holy crap they may have found an offense.

San Diego… I know, stunning… gets distracted. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

New York has alot to be happy about. The Jets and Bills have created a situation where the AFC East isn’t a bunch of misfits for the Patriots to thrash. The Giants are methodical.

There are some big games this week. Tennessee against New York… and if the Titans lose, they’ll be 0-3 with 2 huge conference losses. New Orleans against Buffalo and Atlanta against New England are good ones. I see these games as almost critical for the Saints and Falcons. They are running strong in the NFC South, and the Saints are clicking offensively… while the Falcons may be catching the Patriots at just the right time (before they sort out their offensive troubles).

For this week’s movie quotes… This is Spinal Tap

Tennessee at New York (Jets) (3)“Certainly, in the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is often useful.” For me… biggest game of the week. First… the Titans. Chris Johnson delivered an insane performance last week… 197 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns… 87 yards receiving and 1 touchdown. Dominating. Opposition-spirit-crushing. And the Titans lost. They’re 0-2 right now, and this includes a conference game they’ve lost to Pittsburgh. So if we assume that the Steelers and the Jets are playoff candidates, a loss here could be a major blow against the Titans when we start sorting out tie-breakers. For the Jets… at 2-0 they have a chance to really establish themselves in the playoff hunt with a third win. They have yet to allow a touchdown. A win here gives them major victories over Tennessee and New England. Here’s three things that concern me for the Jets in this game… and I’ll lead in to them by saying I do believe the Jets are for real, are more talented on defense than I gave them credit for, and they should get to 9 or 10 wins and be in the hunt for a playoff spot. But… (1) Have you noticed that their victories came over teams with probably the two best receivers in the AFC… Andre Johnson and Houston, Randy Moss and New England? Neither the Texans or Patriots are known as ball-control, run-first offenses. So while it’s really nice that the Jets have been playing amazing pass coverage so far… check out Chris Johnson’s stats again. (2) Always be wary of a desperate team. Now don’t just throw that term around loosely. Desperate doesn’t mean having a coach in trouble or an upset fan base. I’m talking about when a talented team absolutely needs a win. Make no mistake… the Titans cannot afford to lose this game. And, (3) did anyone else feel like the Jets won their Super Bowl last week? They put so much energy into it… and so much emotion into it… that there has to be some room for a letdown. So there’s three things that I think you can focus on. Jets defense facing a top-notch backfield. Titans will be desperate and focused. Jets are coming off a huge, draining victory. Let’s add one more thing… the Titans defense may be the best overall defense the Jets have seen. (By the way… the Jets play this game and then face the Saints and Dolphins on the road. A loss in this game could be more than a speed bump.)
Bob: Tennessee
Terry: New York
Mike: New York
Dad: New York
Molly: New York

Jacksonville at Houston (3½)“This tasteless cover is a good indication of the lack of musical invention within. The musical growth of this band cannot even be charted. They are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry.” “That’s just nitpicking, isn’t it?” I hate games like this when it comes to Houston. See… last week… upsetting Tennessee… that’s the Houston Texans. They win when you really would never expect to see them win. Then they’ll play the Raiders in a game that could set them up for a playoff berth and fizzle out. The trouble is… Jacksonville just has no life at all. After fighting against the Colts, they were slammed last week by the Cardinals. They can’t score. I shouldn’t even be considering them. And yet Jones-Drew is averaging about 80-plus yards per contest. These teams play great battles… as I recall, and last year’s went into overtime… in Jacksonville. This game is in Houston.
Bob: Houston
Terry: Houston
Mike: Houston
Dad: Houston
Gus: Jacksonville

Kansas City at Philadelphia (8)“The Boston gig has been cancelled.” “What?” “Yeah. I wouldn’t worry about it though. It’s not a big college town.” Yeah… the quote doesn’t seem to work here. Really out of place. But I have a better one for New England. And… it’s so out of place… that if you consider it, it actually works. Because with McNabb a question mark, we are looking at a team with lots of quarterbacks (read: colleges) and yet Vegas refuses to set a line on them on in any game because they have no quarterbacks (read: not a big college town). Even so… unless the spread suddenly clears 10 (and it won’t)… expect the Eagles to win this game and cover. The Chiefs managed to score against the Ravens on the road… but they effectively got shut down by the Raiders at home in week two. They are even talking about who should start at quarterback… as if some of us outside of the Kansas City Chief offices are surprised that Cassel isn’t leading their high-powered attack to 70-plus points a game. Vick is back… not sure that this is a potential distraction yet. They managed to put 22 points on the board in last week’s lost cause. And… basically… I expect a big game out of Brian Westbrook.
Bob: Philadelphia
Terry: Kansas City
Mike: Philadelphia
Dad: Philadelphia
Molly: Kansas City

Cleveland at Baltimore (13)“We’ve got Armadillos in our trousers. It’s really quite frightening.” So the Ravens have an offense… that is pretty scary. In fact, if they keep acting like this, I may have to re-evaluate my idea of the best teams in the AFC. Last year… with the rookie Joe Flacco… the Ravens swept the two games with the Browns, winning by 18 at home and 10 on the road. The Browns started slowly last year… earning 10 points or less in the first 3 games. (They ended the year even worse.) And, frankly, looking at the results of their offense so far, there is no reason to think their fortunes are going to improve this week. (Excuse me… I need to go activate Ray Rice and make a decision about Todd Heap’s stats in my fantasy league.)
Bob: Baltimore
Terry: Cleveland
Mike: Cleveland
Dad: Cleveland
Gus: Baltimore

New York (Giants) (6½) at Tampa Bay“Listen, we’d love to stand around and chat but we gotta sit down in the lobby and wait for the limo.” Last year Tampa hit a 9-3 record and then fell apart. I’m not saying the 9-3 was an accurate reading and rebuilding wasn’t necessary… it wasn’t and it was. But for a team basically one win from the playoffs… for four straight weeks they played for their tenth win… this is really interesting to watch. Dallas didn’t need much effort to beat them in week one, and Buffalo cruised last week. Especially scary was the way the Cowboys torched them for big plays. The Giants have done exactly what they needed to do to win so far. But, realistically, both of their games could have turned from victory into defeat. I actually think this is a big game for the Giants. They open with a schedule very heavy on road games… 3 of their first 4, and 5 of their first 8. Dallas is out of the way now… but 2 of the others belong to the Saints and the Eagles. This game may ultimately be closer than I expect… with Tampa having reached 20 points in both contests this season… but I can’t see how they win, and can’t pick them because of it.
Bob: New York
Terry: Tampa Bay
Mike: New York
Dad: New York
Molly: New York

Washington (6½) at Detroit“May I start by saying how thrilled we are to have you here. We are such fans of your music and all of your records. I’m not speaking of yours personally, but the whole genre of the rock and roll.” Who watched the Redskins play the Rams and then installed them as a 6½ -point favorite? Who? I’m not just taking the Lions to cover… I’m taking them for the outright victory. (Calm down… calm down… I know. Insanity.) So far Detroit has lost both games. In the first they faced New Orleans… a team that is only blowing everyone out offensively so far, with 90-plus points in 2 games. In the second they faced Minnesota… a potentially lethal offense residing with the Vikings. I just don’t think you can penalize this particular club for those two losses. What you can penalize them for is turnovers. Rookie Matt Stafford has been picked off 5 times so far. And yet… Washington has scored a whopping 26 points this year, while Detroit has 40. If they don’t turn the ball over, the Lions should be in decent shape here. When these two teams played last year at Ford Field… so we’re back in a familiar setting… the Redskins won by 8 (25-17). Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m putting too much into that St. Louis game. But last year, after losing to the Rams in what I described last week as a fluke, the Redskins struggled at home to hang on against the Browns. I see a Lions victory… I expect a close game.
Bob: Detroit
Terry: Washington
Mike: Detroit
Dad: Washington
Gus: Washington

Green Bay (6½) at St. Louis“Do me a favor. Just kick my ass, okay? Kick this ass for a man, that’s all. Kick my ass. Enjoy. Come on. I’m not asking, I’m telling with this. Kick my ass.” For every team that has been exciting this year… and raising expectations… it’s Green Bay that has me stumped. They should be 0-2. And so hitting this week with almost a touchdown to cover makes me very nervous. And yet… on the other side we have St. Louis. Last year, most of their 14 losses were demolitions, with 10 that would cover a 6½-point spread, and 9 by double-digits. So far in 2009, they have one touchdown. That’s it. There’s really not a decision to make… no matter how nervous Green Bay makes me.
Bob: Green Bay
Terry: St. Louis
Mike: Green Bay
Dad: Green Bay
Molly: St. Louis

San Francisco at Minnesota (7)“For one thing that goes wrong... one... one single thing that goes wrong, a hundred things go right. Do you know what I spend my time doing? I sleep two or three hours a night.” This could be a dandy… since two of the most explosive running backs in the game will be on the field. Both of these clubs have been the winning selections in their games so far (San Francisco was the underdog in week one though). The reality is… both of these teams are quite similar. The Vikings might be slightly better offensively… but the 49ers have been better this year on defense. Both teams feature not just above average, but best in the game running attacks. It’s a tough one. And honestly, you can’t even read too much into San Francisco’s recent history in evaluating it, because Mike Singletary has completely turned the organization around. Personally… I didn’t see the dominance from Minnesota you might expect when facing Cleveland and Detroit. I think their one of the shakier 2-0 teams… despite the talent.
Bob: San Francisco
Terry: Minnesota
Mike: Minnesota
Dad: San Francisco
Gus: San Francisco

Atlanta at New England (4)“I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object.” And I for one don’t believe all the people examining the Patriots and pointing at things like the defense. Take out the turnover against Buffalo and no opponent has gone over 20 points against the Pats. That should mean 2 victories for this club. No… the problem wasn’t emotion or anything else. Don’t look too deep. It’s easy to see… good defense from the opposition, and honestly, a lack of anything dangerous from New England on offense. (I couldn’t believe this when I heard it… but it’s true. New England had more penalties than points in their game against New York. 9 points… 11 penalties.) Atlanta has a good club. I like them alot. Several people will be cheering for Matt Ryan in this one. This may be the best offense the New England defense has been tested by… it’s definitely the most balanced. But with Baltimore next week, and then Tennessee coming in after a trip to Denver… this may just be New England’s biggest game of the season. (I need to go make sure Randy Moss is active for my fantasy team as well.) If New England’s offense struggles again, Atlanta could win this one. I just don’t expect that to happen.
Bob: New England
Terry: New England
Mike: Atlanta
Dad: New England
Molly: Atlanta

Chicago (1½) at Seattle“I feel it’s like… it’s more like going, going to a… a national park or something. And there’s, you know… they preserve the moose. And that’s… that’s my childhood up there on stage. That moose, you know.” “So when you’re playing you feel like a preserved moose on stage?” “Yeah.” Look… I don’t buy what the Seahawks are selling. They beat the Rams… but who hasn’t? Or… more precisely… when an opponent can’t score, you’d better win. But they were completely shut down by San Francisco last week. In short… to my mind… two unimpressive efforts. On the other side… yeah, the effort against Green Bay bothers me, but this Bears club took out a solid Steelers team last week. They’ve presented virtually no running attack so far, and Jay Cutler was brought in with a ton of pressure on his shoulders. I think last week’s win will do him a world of good. I think it will do the entire team a world of good. The Bears need one thing… to get Matt Forte on track. He’s had roughly 20 carries a game… but he’s not gaining any ground (2.2 yards per carry, with his longest run going for 10-yards). If the Bears can get him running again, at something comparable to last year, this club only has a trip to Atlanta staring at them as a tough game between now and mid-November.
Bob: Chicago
Terry: Seattle
Mike: Chicago
Dad: Chicago
Gus: Seattle

New Orleans (5½) at Buffalo“Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?” “I don’t know.” “Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?” “Put it up to eleven.” “Eleven. Exactly. One louder.” You can tell me whatever you want to… luck, good effort, whatever… but the fact is the Bills lost to New England on the road and then beat an inferior Tampa club at home. With the roll the Saints are on, they are clearly the better team.
Bob: New Orleans
Terry: Buffalo
Mike: New Orleans
Dad: New Orleans
Molly: New Orleans

Miami at San Diego (6)“We’re lucky.” “Yeah.” “I mean, people should be envying us, you know.” “I envy us.” “Yeah.” “I do.” “Me too.” I don’t envy Miami. After losing to Atlanta… which I expected… they did everything possible to beat Indianapolis. They controlled the ball, and one or two plays during the game… or just another 10 seconds on the clock… might have changed their fortune. And now, as a reward after two tough losses, they get to travel across the country to play should be, honestly, an embarrassed San Diego team. Almost upset by Oakland. Last week they did lose to Baltimore. Funny thing though… I don’t think the Chargers are smart enough to be embarrassed. They certainly don’t view this as a must-have game. Last year, in Miami, the Dolphins held the Chargers to 10 points in a 17-10 victory. This didn’t follow a tough cross-country flight after a Monday night game though… it was after an emotional win over New England and then a bye week. (You know… at home, happy, and rested.) I think this game will be close, and I think Miami will actually win it. The trouble is… short week, travel… alot of things could come crashing down on them.
Bob: Miami
Terry: San Diego
Mike: San Diego
Dad: San Diego
Gus: Miami

Pittsburgh (4) at Cincinnati“The sustain, listen to it.” “I don’t hear anything.” “Well you would though, if it were playing.” In 2008, Pittsburgh never lost 2 games in a row. And while Cincinnati did finish the season with some victories, they weren’t exactly impressive victories. In fact, Pittsburgh pummeled the Bungals both times they met. And that’s all I really have to say about that.
Bob: Pittsburgh
Terry: Pittsburgh
Mike: Pittsburgh
Dad: Pittsburgh
Molly: Pittsburgh

Denver (1) at Oakland“This pretentious, ponderous collection of religious rock psalms is enough to prompt the question, ‘What day did the Lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn’t he have rested on that day too?’” These teams split their contests last season… each winning on the road. But that was then… with alot of changes in coaching staffs and players between 2008 and 2009. Heading in to this contest, I think all eyes are on Denver. They’ve done exactly what they needed to do… defeating Cincinnati and Cleveland. And while the victory over the Bungals may have been in doubt until late, it was a victory on the road when the game ended. Denver then controlled every aspect of the game against Cleveland. At 2-0 they lead the division and can take a big step with a victory in this game. Do I trust them? No. Do I believe they might honestly be 2 games up in the division standings when the day is done? Yeah… actually… you could get me believing this is possible. Kyle Orton hasn’t turned the ball over, and everything has actually been fairly balanced on offense. And the defense… well… Denver has shut down both opponents to date. On the other side… Oakland… 13-10 to beat Kansas City? Really?
Bob: Denver
Terry: Denver
Mike: Oakland
Dad: Oakland
Gus: Denver

Indianapolis at Arizona (2½)“We’re very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel. They’re like poets. Like Shelley and Byron. They’re two distinct types of visionaries. It’s like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water.” Indianapolis hasn’t looked brilliant in both of their victories this year… but they are victories and they have looked very good in certain ways. Arizona on the other hand has been on both ends of the spectrum… rebounding from a loss in week one to snag a big victory that really wasn;t in doubt in week two. The thing is… in making a decision… I just don’t think Arizona will have the ball for 75% of the game. So if the Colts get the ball more often on offense… and do what they do best… I like them to win.
Bob: Indianapolis
Terry: Arizona
Mike: Indianapolis
Dad: Arizona
Molly: Arizona

Carolina at Dallas (9)“Well, I’m sure I’d feel much worse if I weren’t under such heavy sedation.” Yes… Carolina looked better against Atlanta than they did against New Orleans. Still… they’re giving up about 30 while scoring 15. So heading in to Dallas to face an embarrassed Cowboys club is not exactly a perfect situation for them. But on the other side, the Cowboys haven’t been playing amazingly well either. Despite splitting their first 2 games, the victory over Tampa featured several big plays on scoring drives. And, Marion Barber is hurting. I should take the Cowboys… to win big over a weaker team in a big game at home. But Dallas just isn’t a big time team right now.
Bob: Carolina
Terry: Dallas
Mike: Dallas
Dad: Carolina
Gus: Carolina

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bob – Last week 6-9-1, season 16-15-1
The Dogs – Last week 7-8-1, season 15-16-1
Dad – Last week 8-7-1, season 15-16-1
Mike – Last week 9-6-1, season 14-17-1
Terry – Last week 5-10-1, season 13-18-1

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at