Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week 12 picks

By Jeff

All hail Tim Tebow. Who needs to complete more than 50 percent of their passes to win in this league? Well, every one but Tebow.

What the hell is going on in the NFL the past four weeks? Why is Tebow succeeding? He takes what seems like eternity to wind up and deliver a ball. Even Byron Leftwich thinks he takes too much time winding up.

I would be a lot closer to .500 if this Tebow thing wasn't happening. That's like three picks I thought were locks only to be smited by Tebow.

Whatever. The miss of last week was taking Buffalo (+2.5) against Miami. And now Fred Jackson is done for the season. It's safe to say the Buffalo Bills 180 has become a 360, as they are back to sucking big time.

I went 6-7-1 last week and am 65-70-7 for the season. But there is still hope. I am off to a 3-0 this week. Wooooo!

Arizona (+2.5) over ST. LOUIS - NFC West games are so friggin boring.

NEW YORK JETS (-9.5) over Buffalo - See above.

CINCINNATI (-7) over Cleveland - Andy Dalton has to be so excited not to be facing the Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens this week. Having A.J. Green back helps too.

Houston (-6) over JACKSONVILLE - Let the Matt Leinart Era begin anew!

Carolina (-3.5) over INDIANAPOLIS - I'm not sure any player on the Colts cares anymore and are just going through the motions for the rest of the season. Has anyone seen Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie or Pierre Garcon recently? Their families are worried.

Tampa Bay (+3.5) over TENNESSEE - Only because one of my fantasy teams is on the decline and I need Josh Freeman to be the man he was last season if I want to defend my title.

ATLANTA (-9.5) over Minnesota - Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has been playing OK, but he hasn't had to play a game without the safety net that is Adrian Peterson before. He is in for a long day. Clearly I don't have much faith in Toby Gerhart.

OAKLAND (-3) over Chicago - Unless the Raiders decide to punt to Devin Hester in the middle of the field every time.

SEATTE (-3) over Washington - Marshawn Lynch might be one of the ugliest men alive, but you have to respect how hard he has been running this season for a very bad team. He could have easily packed it in and tried to save his body a little bit, but he keeps breaking tackles and playing tough.

New England (-3) over PHILADELPHIA - Maybe the two most annoying fan bases in the league. There are no winners here. Only losers, as one of these fan bases will be happy and we'll have to hear endless excuses from the loser's fan base.

SAN DIEGO (-5.5) over Denver - Clearly I'm going to hell for picking against the chosen one.

Pittsburgh (-10.5) over KANSAS CITY - You only need to know two words in regards to this game; Tyler Palko.

NEW ORLEANS (-7.5) over New York Giants - This is just a guess as I have no idea what Giants team will show up. Ever.

Starship - We Built This City (Worst song in the history of music?)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving picks

By Jeff

Sorry I am a little late. Had a really fun drive last night (sigh).

Green Bay (-4.5) over DETROIT

Miami (+7) over DALLAS

BALTIMORE (-3.5) over San Francisco

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fantasy Addiction

I have a severe addiction. I get angry for no tangible reason, I have mood swings that rival any princess from My Super Sweet Sixteen and just recently, I have started staying up at night thinking about my addiction. I am addicted to fantasy football. I have a problem.

I have been playing fantasy football for over 15 years - my first team consisted entirely of Miami Dolphins, I was a homer, but the game was simple and I could just root for my favorite team and my fantasy team in one easy stroke. Fast forward to yesterday, where I sat down at a bar with my friends to watch the Dolphins vs Bills game. My friend, a rabid Bills fan, remembered that I had Fred Jackson, the Bills starting running back on my fantasy team, and I noted that I would be okay with him scoring against my own Miami Dolphins. I have now accepted that part of my universe revolves around a fictional team (The White Devil, named after what NFL players think of the commissioner, Roger Goodell) and that I can root against my lifelong favorite team as long as overpaid members of my fictional team inflict the damage.
I am not entirely addicted to fantasy, although perhaps this is a sentiment that would set me back in my 12 step process. I am (only) in two leagues, which compared to some friends is downright frugal. I only bet $50 combined between the two leagues, and in one league I already made my money back this year. So theoretically, I will only lose $20 this year - or in Sweet Sixteen terms, the price per minute of renting an elephant. Financially and league commitment wise I probably only invest an hour or so a week, not including Sundays.
Which brings us back to yesterday. Yesterday, my girlfriend and I met up with another couple (the bills fan and his girlfriend) and later on two more of my friends came. There were six of us and 3 of us played fantasy football, although not in the same league. This way, there was some understanding of the irrational lapses when one player drops a ball or doesn’t even get to touch the ball. We arrived 30 minutes before kick off of the early games and left as the whistle blew on the late games. Total hours spent at the bar: 6:30. My girlfriend, a pretty big football fan, was beyond bored by the 2nd quarter of the afternoon games, the other couple left halfway through the first game, and thus there were only 3 of us remotely interested in the TVs. This is my Sunday, every Sunday.
The lethargic feeling that comes from sitting stagnant all day, refreshing your phone every minute and forcing your eyes from one TV to the next, is overwhelming. After a day at the bar, I fight the urge not to binge eat myself to death. Somehow binge eating seems to make up for the fact that I did nothing all day long, like eating that extra slice of pizza will trick my brain into saying, “Hey, at least you ate 6 slices of pizza today.” On a day like yesterday, it wasn’t my own self hatred to draw attention to my addiction. It was the looks on my friends faces.
Example 1: The Bills fan was repeatedly surprised about how much I knew about the Bills roster. I noted that I only spend about an hour per week on Fantasy Football, but that does not include the weekly routine of reading MMQB, TMQ, Grantland and every single Miami Dolphins article I can get my hands on. If you count those and the amount of hours that my TV is stuck on ESPN, perhaps the hours per week multiplies to 10. My friend was nearly incredulous that I would know that his team’s back up center got injured last week, and that’s why the Bills mishandled several snaps. This was an early indicator yesterday.
Example 2: As I was watching the Chargers/Bears game I had 3 players involved in the game - Bears’ Matt Forte and Jay Cutler and Chargers’ WR Vincent Brown. My friends were all cheering for the Bears with no higher purpose, they just LIKED the Bears. Meanwhile, I was rooting for Jay Cutler and Matt Forte to score. On an early touchdown opportunity Matt Forte, arguably a top 5 running back in the league, was nowhere to be found on 5 straight plays. Here lies the problem - not only did I rage when his backup got the TD after fumbling on the previous play, I had to explain to my friends why I was so upset. (My given reason was that I had both the Bears’ running and passing options for an offensive TD - I was almost guaranteed to get points somehow). The fact that I even had to explain this to compensate for my actions shows that maybe I’m too wrapped up in football. As the game progressed it only got worse, I yelled at the TV when the Chargers’ QB didn’t even bother to look at my open receiver, I got down and prayed for the first time since high school that Matt Forte would score (he didn’t) and it was then that I saw the looks of horror in my friend’s face. He looked at me as if I had lost my mind, my response was to tell him he didn’t understand because he doesn’t play.
Example 3: The culmination of this weekend and my awakening was my actual fantasy matchup. It’s one thing to get mad at players and condescend the TV as if it were a human, as if your words could change anything, but to get mad at a fictional game, that’s legitimately insane. In my main league, I had reeled off 7 wins to start the season, my team looked great. I proceeded to lose the next 3 games - including one week by one point. This might have been slowly building. So as I look to stop my losing streak and clinch a playoff spot, I play a team that scored a measly 58 points the week before (if I had played him last week, I would’ve won). I will not win this week. The team that could only muster 58 last week will double that this week. To make matters worse the team that I lost to last week, only managed 59 points this week (I would’ve have beaten him this week). This is part of the game of fantasy football, you get different matchups and sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t. My immediate reaction to this unfairness was to spend an inordinate amount of time going over the leagues records this year to see who would beat who each week. In fact, writing this entire paragraph, trying to justify my fantasy record is crazy. If you lose in fantasy, move on. Now, I have lost my mind.
After watching ¼ of the night game last night, I realized I needed to stop checking scores and thinking of scenarios that I needed to happen to make a win possible. We turned off the game and watched Elf. I checked the scores after Elf and realized I would not be winning thanks to an amazing game from a 3rd string WR for the opposing team (sense the hatred here?). This drove me crazy, I couldn’t fall asleep for hours and when I woke up I realized that this was way too much effort over an intangible fantasy game. Fantasy Football is a celebration of two great things - men beating each other savagely and men getting together to celebrate men beating each other savagely. Yesterday, I enjoyed neither. I painstakingly sat through 6 hours of games, only to leave disappointed (even though my Miami Dolphins won for the third week in a row) and then complained externally(and perhaps more so, internally) about how those games would reflect on my fantasy team. When the joy in those two things are gone, it’s time to move on. Perhaps now, I can finally save up my money and time for the more important things in life, like renting an elephant.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dear NHL...

You're on notice.

Go Pens.

Week 11 picks

By Jeff

Another lightning round. Weekend has been full of house hunting. Let me take a few moments to tell you how much realtors suck.

In the past 3 weeks I have looked at 15 houses. Of these 15, I was very excited about three of them and was ready to place offers. When I went to make an offer, I was told that the homes were already under contract, meaning they should not have been active more me to see. Not only was it a waste of time, but it has been soul crushing. Thinking you might have a home only to be bitch-slapped.

I'm done bitching. Well, in regards to houses.

Last week was ugly. I was too late with the Thursday night game, but I went 6-9. I'm 59-63-6 for the season and this week is looking bad as well.

ATLANTA (-6.5) over Tennessee
Buffalo (+2.5) over MIAMI
Cincinnatii (+7) over BALTIMORE
CLEVELAND (-1.5) over Jacksonville
Oakland (+1) over MINNESOTA
DETROIT (-7) over Carolin
GREEN BAY (-13.5) over Tampa Bay
Dallas (-7) over WASHINGTON
SAN FRANCISCO (-10) over Arizona
ST. LOUIS (-3) over Arizona
CHICAGO (-4.5) over San Diego
NEW YORK GIANTS (-6) over Philadelphia
NEW ENGLAND (-15) over Kansas City

Bob Seeger - Against the Wind

Friday, November 18, 2011

Save "Community"!

By Jeff

When you work in a division of Comcast, you pay a lot of attention to ratings of television shows. The past three months I have been following my favorite show, "Community", which is on Thursday at 8 p.m. on NBC. Well, my favorite show is in danger, as it has been since it first aired two years ago.

Granted, the ratings I have been looking at are only in the Philadelphia area, but that is a very big area and the numbers are not pretty. "Community" hovers in the 1.5-1.9 zone. That's not good. In comparison, ABC's "Modern Family" pulls in 9.0-12.0. "Modern Family" is a great show and deserves it's ratings, but then there are terrible shows like ABC's "Revenge". This piece of crap has terrible acting and the storyline is incredibly boring. Yet "Revenge" pulls off ratings in the 4's. What?

"Community" is the smartest comedy on television. The writing and acting is great and almost every episode is a bold move. What I mean by this is they are not common and proven plots. They are mostly original ideas that we haven't seen on television before. When they are not unique, it's because the show copies a previous episode that was very successful and popular.

That has been the only fault with "Community" so far. They had one of the greatest television episodes I've ever seen in Season 1's "Modern Warfare". It was phenomenal. But then they made a two-part episode in Season 2 that was a sequel. It was OK, but it wasn't what the first one was.

They did a similar thing with this past week's episode, as it was a rehash of another one they did in Season 2 (They're on Season 3).

Even with these hiccups, the show is levels above almost everything else on TV, yet it's probably going to be canceled. That is why I am asking you to write to NBC and tell them not to do it. Or at least watch the damn show. You won't regret it.

Queen - Save Me

MLB making smart moves

By Jeff

I'd like to dedicate this space to Major League Baseball for slowly making their way into the 21st century. I'm proud of them.

The cause of this praise is that it was reported yesterday that MLB will work to expand the playoffs one additional wild card team per league, as well as moving the Houston Astros over to the AL and finally have six divisions of five teams. Not like it mattered for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it never seemed fair that the NL Central had six team, while the AL West had four.

What's even more exciting about this move is that interleague play will become a weekly thing. This is the way it should be. Every other sport has teams from the other conference or league play a few times throughout the year, it's about time baseball made the switch.

Baseball enthusiasts (I'm looking at you, Greg) will probably not like this. Granted, they don't like any changes in baseball.

OK, I'm picking on Greg too much. I'm sure, or at least I hope, there are some changes he would or has supported.

Now if you're a Pirates fan, you get to see the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees more often. If you're just a baseball fan, you get to see more teams and great players in person. You're no longer limited to seeing them once every few years.

Now the big question is whether or not the DH will stay or go with this change. No stories have come out saying one way or another, so one would have to assume the DH will stay as long as an AL team is home.

Baby steps.

David Bowie - Changes

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jets over Broncos

By Jeff

I'm a doubter of Tim Tebow facing a touch defense, even if that defense just got lit up Sunday and has little time to prepare for the unique offense that the Denver Broncos run.

On the flip side, The New York Jets are not the team they were supposed to be. Their defense doesn't get much pressure on the quarterback and Mark Sanchez has regressed. So this could be a tough game for the Jets.

As much as I think Sanchez is close to watching his team move in another direction at quarterback, at least if they have the guts to swallow their pride and admit they made a mistake in trading up in the draft to get him, he is better than Tebow. The Jets defense might not pressure the QB, but they are fast and won't let Tebow run wild. And we all know he won't light it up through the air.

New York Jets (-6) over DENVER

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 10 picks

By Jeff

Having a winning record was fun while it lasted, but all good things must come to an end. Last week was brutal and I clearly didn't see a lot of the results coming.

First, if you told me Joe Flacco would lead a 92-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes t beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at any pointin his career, I would have laughed at you and told you his uni-brow does not allow for such sustained drives after gathering so much moisture for 58 minutes. It just weighs him down. Buthe did it and I was angry for the next three days.

Second, I thought the Kansas City Chiefs were over their early season suckiness. Then they go and put up a whole three points against the previously winless Miami Dolphins.

Third, Tim Tebow actually did carry his team to a win using the an option offense in the NFL. I think it will be like the Wildcat and be successful for about one game before he gets killed. Ask Ronnie Brown how his career path has gone since teams adjusted to his trick-play offense.

I would say all of these games, along with Buffalo's offense being manhandled, count as my misses of the week. I went 6-8 and am now 53-54-6 on the year. Week 10 is below with the home teams in caps. I forgot to post the Chargers-Raiders pick. My bad.

Pittsburgh (-4) over CINCINNATI - Yes, the Bengals are currently sitting atop the AFC with a 6-2 record. This is despite starting rookies at quarterback and receiver. And those rookies have played very well in the first eight games of the season. But here's the catch. They have only played two teams with winning records, and of those teams, only the San Francisco 49ers have a really stout defense like the Steelers. Ginger Dalton is going to have a tough day.

Denver (+3) over KANSAS CITY - I don't know which Kansas City team is going to show up.

INDIANAPLOIS (+3) over Jacksonville - For the first time this season, the Colts might have the edge at quarterback.

Buffalo (+5.5) over DALLAS - The New York Jets confused Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. They also have really good corners that makes confusing opponents' offenses a lot easier. Dallas doesn't have that luxury. They just have one of the most overrated defensive coordinators in football.

TAMPA BAY (+3.5) over Houston - Not sure why I keep picking Houston not to cover and the Bucs to cover. You'd think I'd learn. But then you'd look at my season record and realize it all makes sense.

Tennessee (+3.5) over CAROLINA - Hmmm. I'm picking a lot of dogs. This could get ugly.

Washington (+4) over MIAMI - You can't go from winless to four point favorites in one week. You just can't!

New Orleans (PK) over ATLANTA - When did Roddy White go to suck?

Detroit (+2.5) over CHICAGO - The Lions have the defensive front to make Jay Cutler's life miserable.

CLEVELAND (-2.5) over St. Louis - Madden Curse lives on. Peyton Hillis is not only having a terrible season, but he's turned into a bitch. For a man that is seen as a punishing runner who hits defensive players as much as they hit him, you'd think he'd be a little less of a whiner.

PHILADELPHIA (-14) ovr Arizona - That's a lot of points, but the Cardinals really suck. I give Ken Whisenhunt until about Week 8 next season to turn it around before he is canned.

Baltimore (-6.5) over SEATTLE - This is actully a tricky game. It's exactly the type of game the Ravens have struggled with this year. They play down to their competition. They got crushed by Jacksonville and Tennessee, and almost got stunned by Arizona. This could be close.

New York Giants (+3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO - OK, this game screams setback for the Giants. I mean, they are coming off a huge win where Eli Manning showed he can be an elite quarterback, and their defense just shut down Tom Brady. It only makes sense that Eli would suck in this one and Alex Smith would look like Tom Brady supposed to look. But for some reason I think only a field goal will decide this one.

New England (+2) over NEW YORK JETS - Has Brady ever lost three games in a row? Yes, but it was back in 2002. It hasn't happened since, and I don't think it will happen this week.

GREEN BAY (-13) over Minnesota - If I didn't love the Steelers and think they have a legit shot of winning the Supe Bowl this year, I would be cheering like crazy for the Packers to go 19-0 this season. I can still cheer for them to go 16-0.

Kenny Loggins - Footloose

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Not very Happy in the Valley

By Greg

I didn’t know who Jerry Sandusky was until this story broke on ESPN back in March. I skimmed the article and thought to myself, “Wow, that’s horrible. I’m glad he’s been gone for 12 years.” Little did I know that while I was partying with friends and enjoying some of the best years of my life, he was assaulting vulnerable children on Penn State University premises.

The way that Penn State University has handled this situation is embarrassing to say the least. The question that everyone is asking is, “how much did Joe know?” Well, he knew enough to regret not doing more and that’s about all you need to know. The answer that I’m seeking for is why didn’t he contact the police? Was this a cover up for his friend that he had worked with for 30 years? It’s possible and if that’s true I will have lost a lot of respect for him. But what would Joe have to gain by doing that? It wouldn’t have tarnished the football program if he went to the police as soon as he became aware of the crime, but it sure has now.

I truly believe that this was not a cover up of Jerry Sandusky. It was swept under the rug because no one wanted to acknowledge the horrifying things that were happening. This is the problem with sexual abuse. No one wants to talk about it.

I have read every single article that I have been able to get my hands on in the past few days, including the disgusting 23 page grand jury indictment. However, I get the feeling that most people haven’t read that grand jury report. The general population is asking, “why didn’t Joe Paterno and Mike McQueary do anything except contact their superiors?” I came away thinking, “why didn’t anyone do anything?” Shouldn’t the parents, teachers, and principals have done more?

This is a brief summary of missed opportunities for people to report the sexual abuse that was inevitably occurring.

Victim 1, as well as several other students, was routinely taken out of school by Sandusky with no questions asked. They would pull him out of whatever class or study hall he was in and allow Sandusky to meet with the victim in an unmonitored conference room. The victim’s mother called the principal and asked her to check into it. The principal called back in tears, “you need to come down here right away.” Sandusky was barred from the school district and the matter was reported to authorities.

Victim 1 was also involved in an incident one night in the weight room after hours. As Sandusky was lying on him, the school’s wrestling coach walked in to check why the lights were on. Sandusky quickly jumped up and explained that they were wrestling. Since Sandusky was not a wrestling coach and they were just lying on the ground next to each other, the coach was very suspicious. This incident was not reported.

Victim 6 was forced to shower with Sandusky and was sexually assaulted in the shower. When the child was dropped off at home, his mother immediately questioned why his hair was wet. She learned that her son had showered with Sandusky and reported the incident to University Police, who investigated it. This investigation included a second child, who was subjected to identical treatment in the shower as Victim 6. Furthermore, the detective, with the consent of Victim 6’s mother, eavesdropped on two conversations between Sandusky and Victim 6’s mother. Sandusky admitted that he had showered with other boys and he refused to promise to Victim 6’s mother that we would stop showering with Victim 6. When the mother asked Sandusky if he touched Victim 6’s private parts, he replied, “I don’t think so…maybe.” When Sandusky was told that he could no longer see Victim 6 anymore, he responded, “I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.” Two weeks later the detective interviewed Sandusky directly. Sandusky admitted to showering naked with Victim 6, hugging Victim 6 in the shower, and that it was wrong. The detective advised Sandusky not to shower with any child again and they decided there would be no criminal charges.

How is this not what we’re talking about right now?!?! I’ve been hearing over the past few days that Joe Paterno should have contacted the police. The police investigated a case in 1998 involving Sandusky with two identical cases. He admitted to showering with children and they ignored it. In my mind, those detectives were the real enablers and they should be serving jail time right beside Sandusky.

I am not trying to justify the actions of Joe Paterno or Mike McQueary. They obviously could have prevented more incidents from occurring. But as Rick Reilly wrote, “it’s about everybody not taking more steps that might have stopped it.” This is truly a sad story that does not have any heroes. Children’s lives have been destroyed and it is disgusting that these types of crimes occur. According to a 1998 study on child sexual abuse by Boston University Medical School, one in six boys in America will be abused by age 16. For girls, it's one in four by the age of 14. Read that again and think about it. My only hope is that people now have a better understanding of how serious this issue is. We need to educate our children about the initial warning signs to look for before it is too late.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Penn State officials failed humanity test

By Jeff

Penn State University messed up in so many ways with this controversy regarding former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky's alleged sexual abuse of multiple underage boys.

First, the alleged abuse began as far back as 15 years ago, and we're just hearing about it now. These are children we're talking about. If there was any chance this story was true, it needed to be addressed back then.

Second, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz clearly did something wrong. They are being charged with perjury and failed to inform authorities of what they knew regarding the controversy. They could have easily stopped this from the beginning but were apparently too busy with damage control.

Third, if it is true that the graduate assistant saw Sandusky with a 10-year-old in the shower, he should have done more than just go to coach Joe Paterno. I know it's hard to put ourselves in his position, but I'd like to think that if I were in his position, I would either stop the abuse myself by any means necessary, or I would call the police immediately. I would not go running and ask someone else to do so.

Fourth, Joe Paterno may have legally done all he was required to do to not be implicated in this controversy when he told his superiors of what the graduate assistant told him. He didn't see anything himself. I get that defense. But I also think the man had an obligation to not just pass it off and put it out of his mind. A man who worked under him and was allowed access to campus facilities as recently as LAST WEEK, may have been sexually abusing children. Paterno should have inquired the incident further.

The biggest failure of all the people above, especially Sandusky, is that of human decency and morality. You don't just brush off an alleged sex scandal of children because it would give the university a bad name if it made it to the press. Not if you consider yourself a good person. You leave no stone unturned and you do whatever it takes to figure out if the man actually did it or not. If he did, you better make damn sure he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and is never allowed on campus again. You don't just ban him from bringing more children to campus.

Let's look at that part of the story for a moment. If Paterno, the grad assistant, Curley or Schultz went to the police back in 2002 when they first heard about the issue, other children would have been spared alleged abuse from Sandusky. Banning a sexual predator from bringing his prey to a specific place does not protect potential victims. Not in any way, shape or form. It just takes away one place for him to assault children.

Imagine if you're a parent and one of your sons went to one of Sandusky's camps. You know what, I can't imagine that situation. And their anger and distrust should not be limited to Sandusky. They should be pissed at all of the above individuals. Paterno, Curley and Schultz endangered countless children. All it would have taken to protect these children was a simple phone call. All they needed to was dial three digits and report what they knew or suspected.

Instead they took the easy road and completely failed as humans.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week 9 picks

By Jeff

OK, so last week I said my fiancee was making my picks. She made about three before she got bored and said she was going to go downstairs eat. She was very excited at first, but then she didn't like having to pick the points. It's not that she didn't understand the spread, she just thought it was stupid.

Together we went 7-5-1 for the week and improved my season record to 47-46-6. Woooo! Over .500 halfay through the season! But will I have a Pittsburgh Pirates-like collapse? It's very possible looking at some of the picks I made. I'm specifically talking about the Dallas (+3) over Philadelphia. Definitely the miss of the week.

Week 9 is below and the home teams are in caps.

Atlanta (-6.5) over INDIANAPOLIS - Countless people have said it, but I need to repeat that this season has shown just how good Peyton Manning is, and he hasn't played a snap. This team is almost identical to last year's division champonship squad, yet they are 0-8. The one missing piece is Manning.

TampaBay (+8.5) over NEW ORLEANS - I just have no idea what the Saints or the Bucs are going to do.

Cleveland (+10.5) over HOUSTON - The Texans are going to win, but the Browns actually have a real defense this year. They should keep it close.

BUFFALO (-2.5) over New York Jets - The Ryan brothers are really annoying. Has there ever been such an obnoxious duo of people who haven't really won anything in this league? Rob Ryan has never even been a head coach, and Rex talks Super Bowl every year yet they have never been there. And Rex is single-handedly responsible for every one overusing the word swagger. I hope they never win again.

KANSAS CITY (-5) over Miami - The Chiefs are a completely different team than they were the first two weeks of the season. I guess some teams just took longer to get back into shape following the lockout.

San Francisco (-5) over WASHINGTON - Can we please admit that Mike Shannahan is not a very good coach. He had John Elway and Terrell Davis. When he didn't have those stars in Denver he didn't succeed. And he is not succeeding in Washington. His rotating running back strategy doesn't work, and he was OK with Rex Grossman and John Beck as his quarterbacks. Other than awesome teeth, the man doesn't bring anything to the table.

DALLAS (-11) over Seattle - Blah.

OAKLAND (-7) over Denver - Why is kneeling in prayer now known as "Tebowing"? Countless professional athletes pray when they score or win. Tebow shouldn't be singled out. On the flip side, he is really bad and gets more attention than some good to very good quarterbacks. It's really strange.

Cincinnati (+2.5) over TENNESSEE - Who would have thought the AFC North would be one of best divisions in footbll this year? The Steelers and Ravens are usually good, but no one expected the Browns and the Bengals to compete much this year. Yet here are the Bengals, winners of four straight. The Titans started hot, but I think they're going to start tailing off with Chris Johnson playing like crap.

St. Louis (+2.5) over ARIZONA - Is there a bigger "who cares" game this week?

New York Giants (+9.5) over NEW ENGLAND - The Pats don't lose at home in the regular season, but the Giants have the front seven to really annoy and bother Tom Brady.

Green Bay (-5.5) over SAN DIEGO - The Chargers are doing whatever they can to lose. That continues this week.

PITTSBURGH (-3.5) over Baltimore - Is there a quarterback other than Aaron Rodgers playing better than Ben Roethlisberger right now? I would say no. And Joe Flacco is playing pretty terrible.

Chicago (+7.5) over PHILADELPHIA - I think the Bears are fast enough to keep Michael Vick under control. Jay Cutler is still a bitch.

Frightened Rabbit - Backwards Walk