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NFL Pigskin Pick'Em: Week 8

Posted: October 23, 2013 - 8:05pm

I don’t pick NFL games often but when I do I pick winners. A 12-3 week against the spread leaves me in the enviable position of challenging the Dos Equis guy for “Most Interesting Man in the World” honors. The dazzling display of football intelligence raised our record to a satisfactory 54-46-7 on the year. Of course gambling success can be fleeting. Ask any 80-year-old grandma suffering from intense elbow arthritis following 10 consecutive hours of playing slots, and she’ll tell you how hard it is to beat the house. The Sultan of Sides will be sure to enter the eighth week a humble man.

This week’s slate of games is uninspiring to say the least. Seven sides are favored by more than a touchdown. Five matchups feature double digit spreads. What’s a handicapper supposed to do in the face of so many lopsided contests? Is it fair to blame NFL schedule makers for our impending boredom? While that may be a stretch, we can surely question the marketing gurus lurking behind the NFL scenes. London, England will host its second NFL game of the 2013 season this week. The contest pits the mighty San Francisco 49ers versus the stumbling, bumbling Jacksonville Jaguars. Just a few short weeks ago the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings squared off in a battle of winless teams for our European friends viewing pleasure. I thought the point of hosting games across the pond was to create a new audience for football, not show them some of the worst teams and matchups the NFL has to offer. After San Francisco bullies the Jaguars into a four-touchdown deficit is it realistic to assume that Wembley’s fans will exit clamoring for more football? I would want a refund!

Before we get to week eight’s picks I want to wish the Soldotna Stars football team luck heading into this Saturday’s State Championship game. The Stars are in the midst of another incredible season. It’s really amazing how dominant the program has become. Success doesn’t come without hard work. It’s great to see the coaches, players, and parents rewarded for all of their efforts over the years. Stars win 55-24!

CAROLINA PANTHERS @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6

Don’t let the uninspiring 3-3 record fool you, the Carolina Panthers can play football. The Panthers are led by a stout defense surrendering a paltry 13.8 points per contest, second-best in the NFL. Tampa Bay enters the contest scoring just 14.5 points per game. Only the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars score fewer points than the Bucs! Don’t anticipate a photo finish when the second-best scoring defense faces off against the second-worst scoring offense. Panthers win 26-9

Dallas Cowboys @
DETROIT LIONS -3

Dallas is travelling to Detroit to face a Lions team looking to rebound after a tough loss at home a week ago to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cowboys, triumphant in two straight contests, have an opportunity to seize control of the NFC East with another victory, but the Fighting Jerry’s have proven allergic to sustained success. A classic Tony Romo meltdown is overdue. Detroit doesn’t lose two in a row at home. Lions win 33-20

CLEVELAND BROWNS @
Kansas City Chiefs -9

Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden’s play has been so emphatically awful that NFL Network analyst Jeff Garcia openly campaigned for a tryout earlier this week. Presumably, at age 43, Garcia requires a cortisone shot just to lift his throwing arm high enough to scratch his own armpit, yet the crusty old vet is confident he would be a an upgrade over the struggling Weeden. The Kansas City Chiefs are the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL led by the league’s top scoring defense. Kansas City is the obvious play. Take the Browns. Chiefs win 20-13

Miami Dolphins @
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -7

Handicapping every AFC EAST team is considerably more challenging than rocket science. I don’t know what to make of the Patriots. The Brady Bunch has a cute 5-2 record but has looked awful at times. The Dolphins started the year with three straight victories before realizing that they were still the Dolphins. An ugly three game losing streak has resulted in PETA accusing the organization of animal cruelty. Patriots win (maybe) 28-17

Buffalo Bills @
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -13

Buffalo has been oddly competitive in every matchup this year. The Bills have shared or held a lead in the second half of every game they’ve played. Laying 13 points to a team with a penchant for playing close football games gives me pause, but I don’t think the Bills can circle the wagons against a powerful Saints team aided by the luxury of playing at home and an extra week to prepare coming off a bye. Saints win 34-17

NEW YORK GIANTS @
Philadelphia Eagles -6

The Philadelphia Eagles can’t win at home. That’s not a typo. Chip Kelly’s crew enters this contest 0-3 in the City of Brotherly Hate. Eagles QB Mike Vick is expected to play after missing the past two contests with an injury. Vick’s return will help, but unfortunately for Philly fans, Vick doesn’t play defense. The Giants are an embarrassment to good football but Eli Manning and the rest of Big Blue have been slowly improving in recent weeks. Which team wants to lose more? Giants lose 23-20

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @
London Jaguars +17

London’s “home” side hasn’t scored a single offensive touchdown as the host team this season. That’s an incredible testament to Jacksonville’s willingness to do whatever is necessary to fail. Will that lack of success travel to Europe? San Francisco has won four straight contests by just over 20 points a game. This matchup is how the NFL promotes its product overseas? Somebody in the marketing department should be fired. 49ers win the London Massacre 34-3

NEW YORK JETS @
Cincinnati Bengals -7

I was wrong about the New York Jets. Before the season I would have all but guaranteed Head Coach Rex Ryan would have lost his job by week eight. Yet, here we are, and the Jets are in the thick of the AFC playoff race at 4-3. A costly 4th quarter interception by neophyte passer Geno Smith will cost the Jets an opportunity to upset Cincinnati, but New Yorker’s will still be proud of Gang Green’s effort. Bengals win 26-20

Pittsburgh Steelers @
OAKLAND RAIDERS +3

Pittsburgh’s valiant attempt to become relevant this season after, opening the year with four losses, will hit a speed bump in Oakland this Sunday. Well, since the game is in Oakland, the Steelers are much more likely to hit a pothole, but you get the idea. The Raiders have been tough at home behind the surprisingly strong play of quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a stingy defense. Raiders win 21-17

WASHINGTON REDSKINS @ Denver Broncos -14

Robert Griffin III’s play over the past two weeks has inspired renewed confidence in the Native Americans. A healthy RG3 will test a very suspect Denver Broncos defense. After a poor performance last Sunday night, at least by Peyton Manning’s lofty standards, the Broncos offense will look to get back on track. Denver isn’t losing a shootout at home, but two touchdowns will be a tough cover. Broncos win 38-31

Atlanta Falcons @
ARIZONA CARDINALS -3

Don’t be fooled into thinking the Falcons have returned to form after last week’s win over the Tampa Bay Bucs. Remember, Tampa is a city in Florida, and Florida sucks at professional football. This is still the same injury riddled Atlanta team that has struggled all season. Arizona can’t afford a second straight defeat in the desert. I expect a spirited effort from the home team. Cardinals win 27-20

Minnesota Vikings @
GREEN BAY PACKERS -11

Can a quarterback not wearing a Cleveland Browns uniform possibly play worse than the newly minted Viking Josh Freeman? Minnesota threw Freeman into the fire Monday night after acquiring the struggling passer just two weeks ago. Freeman looked like a player who hadn’t read the offensive playbook. This level of ineptitude from the single most important position in sports won’t play well against Aaron Rodgers and the prolific Packers offense. Packers win 34-13

St. Louis Rams @
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -12

St. Louis was a middling football team before losing starting quarterback Sam Bradford for the season to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Now the Rams visit Seattle to face the Seahawks and the vaunted 12th man with the rusted Kellen Clemons under center. A backup QB, seeing his first action in years, facing one of if not the best defense in the NFL at home on a Monday night is a recipe for disaster. Seahawks win 30-7

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