Halloween weekend football was full of fright as favorites failed and underdogs showed their might. Trick-or-Treaters lusting for ATS winners at every door returned home with a bucket of unpredictable outcomes. No venue in the NFL was as terrifying as Century Link Field. Seattle’s feared home field nearly turned into a house of horrors as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led 21-0 late in the second quarter. How in the name of Ichabod Crane could this be? Remember Clarion faithful, December 24th, 2011 was the last time the Seahawks lost a football game in Seattle! That’s not yesterday. It’s been a while, and yet the putrid, pathetic, winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in position to end Seattle’s streak. It was at this point of the game when I decided to step up and say something. What happened next was magical. Immediately following my expletive laden tirade towards the television Seattle scored its first touchdown. Two more scores and a field goal in the second half forced overtime. Minutes later Seattle escaped with 27-24 victory. Chalk that win up to an inspirational speech delivered by Coach Rose.
The Seahawks weren’t the only heavy favorite to struggle against an inferior foe. The Dallas Cowboys needed a touchdown in the final minute to outlast the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings entered the contest with a sickly 1-6 record but Minnesota had a remedy for everything Tony Romo and the Cowboys threw at them. In typical Vikings fashion the team fell short in the end, but not without giving the Fighting Jerry Jones’ quite a scare.
Another NFC power, the New Orleans Saints, travelled to Gotham to face the ghoulish New York Jets defense. The Jets front seven is as menacing a unit as there is in the NFL. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are monsters in the middle. Jets coach Rex Ryan is beginning to resemble Jabba the Hutt. Facing the Jets is scary stuff! The 6-2 Saints found that out the hard way falling 26-20 in New York.
What horrors will week 10 bring? A 6-6-1 record a week ago leaves us at 69-56-8 for the season. After a lucrative three-week stretch our hot hand cooled considerably. We’re leaning heavily towards the chalk this week, something that I’m concerned about, but you can’t argue with the magical football dartboard.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS @ Minnesota Vikings +1
The Minnesota Vikings will be playing the role of Colonel Custer when they host the Native Americans on Thursday night. Knee troubles that ailed Washington’s star QB Robert Griffin are a thing of the past. RG3 has played wonderfully three of the last four weeks leading the Redskins back into contention in the NFC East. I was surprised by Minnesota’s inspiring effort a week ago in a game they couldn’t afford to win. The Vikings must lose this game to keep pace with Jacksonville and Tampa Bay in the race for next year’s number one pick in the NFL Draft. Redskins win 27-20
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @ Atlanta Falcons +6
Seattle has done nothing to earn my confidence the last two outings. The Seahawks line play on both sides of the ball has been terrible. The offensive line has played as poorly as I can ever remember. We’re talking all-time bad. Taking that into account I’m still siding with the Seahawks. If Pete Carroll’s team has any chance of winning a Super Bowl, which they believe they do, they’ll defeat the injury riddled Atlanta Falcons in a revenge game from last year’s playoffs. Seahawks win 26-17
Detroit Lions @ CHICAGO BEARS +3
No Cutler, no problem? The Chicago Bears travelled to Lambeau last week without their starting quarterback and defeated the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night. Can the Bears repeat that feat at home against the high powered Detroit Lions? They can. Detroit isn’t the same team away from home. Calvin Johnson will do what Megatron does, but Captain Canada’s Bears will outlast the Lions in a high scoring affair. Bears win 34-28
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ Green Bay Packers -2
The Eagles have found a quarterback. It’s time for Philadelphia to move on from the Mike Vick experiment after Nick Foles tossed seven touchdown passes last Sunday in Oakland. Green Bay will be without their top passer as well. All-World QB Aaron Rodgers broke his collar bone and has been ruled out of this contest. Packers fan is about to experience what rooting for the Jacksonville Jaguars feels like. Quietly the Eagles are 4-1 this season in road games. Eagles win 28-20
Jacksonville Jaguars @ TENNESSEE TITANS -11
You know you suck at professional football when you’re a double digit dog to a 4-4 Tennessee Titans team. Welcome to life as a Jacksonville Jaguar. Utterly depressing and humiliating all at once. Jaguars owner Shad Kahn’s quest to secure the number one pick and move his franchise to London moves forward with startling efficiency with an easy loss this Sunday. Tennessee is a fringe playoff contender in the AFC. The Titans should impress against an opponent of Jacksonville’s limitations. Titans win 24-9
St. Louis Rams @ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -10
I’m all in on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. His performance in the second half against a fired up Houston Texans defense on Sunday Night Football was incredible. Luck single handedly won the game. The kid is 6-5 240 lbs. He runs a 4.5 forty. He’s smart enough to have attended Stanford. Andrew Luck was, and still is, the best college quarterback I’ve ever seen. It would not surprise me to make the same statement about his NFL prowess a decade from now. The Rams season falls off the mountain this Sunday. Colts win 30-14
OAKLAND RAIDERS @ New York Giants -8
It’s hard to lay eight points backing a 2-6 team. That’s what Vegas is asking Giants’ supporters to do against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have been oddly competitive this season excluding last Sunday’s debacle against the Philadelphia Eagles. Expecting the Raiders to win may be asking too much, but there’s no reason the Silver and Black won’t push this game late into the 4th quarter. Giants win 24-21
Buffalo Bills @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS -3
If Washington State Cougar legend Jeff Tuel is still under center for the Buffalo Bills in this contest the road team has zero chance. The “Tuel Box” is really bad. His collegiate performance provides zero evidence to suggest he’ll develop into a capable professional quarterback. Pittsburgh’s defense surrendered 55 points last week against the mighty Brady Bunch. There’s too much pride in the Steelers locker room to have another poor performance against a below average Bills team. Steelers win 27-19
CINCINNATI BENGALS @ Baltimore Ravens +2
You can’t win football games with an average Joe at quarterback, and Raven’s QB Joe Flacco has been average at best this season. The Bengals did everything they could to lose a week ago against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. With extra time to prepare Cincinnati will give the defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens a crippling defeat. Bengals win 28-20
Carolina Panthers @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS -6
Carolina has posted four straight victories against weak competition to pull within a game of the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. Cam Newton and the Panthers will find things a bit more challenging in the Bay Area. San Francisco has rebounded well from an early season malaise behind a powerful rushing attack and a strong defense. The 49ers resurgence continues against an improved but not quite ready for prime time Panthers team. 49ers win 24-13
Houston Texans @ ARIZONA CARDINALS -3
Young Texans quarterback Case Keenum played beautifully for 30 minutes Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately for Houston fans NFL games require 60 minutes to be completed. Arizona’s star corner Patrick Peterson will slow Texans’ wide-out Andre Johnson limiting Houston’s big play potential. Carson Palmer and the Desert Bat offense will score just enough points to cover. Cardinals win 27-23
DENVER BRONCOS @ San Diego Chargers +7
The Broncos have had an extra week to prepare without head coach John Fox. Fox is sidelined indefinitely with a heart ailment. Jack Del Rio has been named Fox’s successor on an interim basis, but we all know who’s calling the shots in Denver. As long as Peyton Manning’s bionic neck is straight the Broncos will be just fine. Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense will score points but a slumping secondary will get carved up by Manning and company. Broncos win 30-20
DALLAS COWBOYS @ New Orleans Saints -7
New Orleans is extremely tough playing in the friendly confines of the Super Dome, but the Saints march has slowed in recent weeks. Nagging injuries in the receiving core has negated the Saints usual explosiveness on offense. The Cowboys are good enough to keep this game close into the final minutes. Ultimately a costly Tony Romo interception will end Dallas’ hopes but the Cowboys will play well enough to cover. Saints win 30-27
Miami Dolphins @ TAMPA BAY BUCS +3
This is the week! Tampa Bay is winless on the year but the Bad News Bucs have been very competitive in a handful of games. Miami was a surprise victor last week, but vicious rumors and allegations of bullying continue to cloud the franchise’s future. Nobody walks into venerable Raymond James Stadium and escapes with a win. OK, that’s a lie, most teams leave victorious but this time the Fish will be fried! Bucs win 23-17