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Pickin' and Grinnin' - Week 7
Bob Cunningham
October 21, 2004

Straight-Up: 50-38 (57%)
Against-The-Spread: 41-44-2 (48%)

Straight-Up: 9-5
Against-The-Spread: 8-6

Comment: Well, I had a feeling I'd miss on the Saints' home 'dog pick, but overall it was a winning week. For those of you who are compelled to bag on me for my selections, offer up some picks of your own for comparison - before the games are played - and perhaps earn the right to talk smack. To those who have been supportive... thanks.

Buffalo (1-4) at Baltimore (3-2)

Line: Ravens favored by 6. ATS Records: Bills 3-2, Ravens 3-2.

Bills Status Report: Buffalo gots its first victory of 2004 last week, a 20-13 home decision over Miami. RB Travis Henry remains questionable on the injury report. Willis McGahee would again play if Henry can't go.

Ravens Status Report: Baltimore was off last week, after having won, 17-10, at Washington the previous Monday. TE Todd Heap is again expected to sit out, and RB Jamal Lewis begins a suspension for pleading guilty on drug related charges.

The Series: The last meeting was in 1998, a victory by a favored Bills team at Baltimore.

Stats Worth Noting: Buffalo is 2-0 ATS on the road. Baltimore has covered following their bye week the last three years.

Game Summary: The Bills are playing tough, but still have a lot of issues on offense. So, too, do the Ravens... but I like the rested contender at home over the visiting also-ran... barely

Prediction: RAVENS, 17-14

St. Louis (4-2) at Miami (0-6)

Line: Rams favored by 6 1/2. ATS Records: Rams 3-3, Dolphins 1-5.

Rams Status Report: St. Louis finds itself alone in first place in the NFC West after a 28-21 home victory over Tampa Bay on Monday night. The Rams are a half-game ahead of Seattle.

Dolphins Status Report: Miami is now the only winless team in the NFL after its 20-13 road loss to Buffalo last week.

The Series: Miami is 3-1 in its last four against the Rams, including 2-0 at Miami. The most recent meeting was in 2000.

Stat Worth Noting: The Rams have covered ATS in six straight interconference games.

Game Summary: This is a major letdown waiting to happen for the Rams. St. Louis has won three in a row, and just played a relatively tough game against Tampa Bay Monday night. And, next week, the Rams host defending Super Bowl champion New England in a game that would be the first meeting between those two since the Pats beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. While Miami has nothing going for it offensively, the defense is tough enough to slow the vaunted St. Louis attack. The Rams probably will come away victorious, but I wouldn't be shocked if Miami... uh, shocks them.

Prediction: RAMS, 20-14

Philadelphia (5-0) at Cleveland (3-3)

Line: Eagles favored by 7. ATS Records: Eagles 5-0, Browns 3-3.

Eagles Status Report: Philadelphia routed Carolina at home last week, 30-8, and is statistically the best team in the league to this point.

Browns Status Report: The Browns manhandled arch-rival Cincinnati at home last week behind Jeff Garcia's four TD passes. They trail AFC North-leading Pittsburgh by two games and Baltimore by a half-game.

The Series: No recent meetings. The last was in 1999, a close Eagles victory.

Stats Worth Noting: Philly is 2-0 SU and ATS on the road this season, the Browns 3-0 SU and ATS at home.

Game Summary: I keep waiting for the Eagles to play down to the level of their competition, just so we know they're human, and instead they just keep rolling along. Cleveland has been excellent at home, but the Browns have yet to face a club anywhere near this good. I hate laying so many points on the road, but there simply is no real indication that the Eagles are going to let up.

Prediction: EAGLES, 23-10

Jacksonville (4-2) at Indianapolis (4-1)

Line: Colts favored by 9 1/2. ATS Records: Jaguars 4-2, Colts 4-0-1.

Jaguars Status Report: Jacksonville snapped a two-game skid with a 22-16 home triumph over Kansas City last week. The Jags trail the first-place Colts by a half-game in the AFC South.

Colts Status Report: Indy was off last week, after having rolled to a home victory over Oakland in Week 5.

The Series: This is the first divisional rematch game in the NFL this season. The Colts won at Jacksonville, 24-17, just two weeks ago and posted a 10-point win at home over the Jaguars last season. Jacksonville won a meeting in between, last season at home, by a 28-23 tally.

Stat Worth Noting: The Jaguars have never won at Indy and have won only once in seven meetings all-time.

Game Summary: The Colts are rested and confident, and Tony Dungy-coached teams usually play well after bye weeks. But Jacksonville has endured only one subpar performance to date, and they match-up tightly with the Colts, who have scored 24, 23 and 23 points against Jax in the last three meetings. I suspect the Colts would have to surpass 30 in this one to cover that gaudy spread... and I don't believe they'll do it. Colts win it, but it's fairly close.

Prediction: COLTS, 27-20

Tennessee (2-4) at Minnesota (4-1)

Line: Vikings favored by 7. ATS Records: Titans 2-4, Vikings 3-2.

Titans Status Report: A week after dismantling Green Bay on the road, the Titans inexplicably lost at home to Houston, 20-10. RB Chris Brown has multiple injuries but is still likely to play. Tennessee is in last place in the AFC South, a game behind Houston and three back of the first-place Indianapolis Colts.

Vikings Status Report: Minnesota rambled past New Orleans Sunday night, 38-31, and has won three straight to take over sole possession of first place in the NFC North, a game ahead of Detroit. WR Randy Moss may be a game-time decision as he suffers from a strained hamstring.

The Series: No recent meetings. Minnesota has won three of the last four overall, including two at home.

Stats Worth Noting: Tennessee is 2-1 ATS on the road, 1-0 as an underdog. Minnesota is 1-1 ATS as a home favorite.

Game Summary: Wow, who can figure the Titans? They've become frequent losers at home, and yet they can win at Green Bay in a romp. What gives? The Vikings are much more predictable -- high-scoring, not much on the defensive side. This could be another shootout. I'm splitting the difference here, taking the Vikes to win but Tennessee to keep it interesting.

Prediction: VIKINGS, 34-30

Atlanta (5-1) at Kansas City (1-4)

Line: Chiefs favored by 4. ATS Records: Falcons 2-4, Chiefs 1-4.

Falcons Status Report: Atlanta rallied from behind to beat San Diego last week, 21-20, and is alone atop the NFC South Division.

Chiefs Status Report: Kansas City lost at Jacksonville, 22-16, and is in last place in the AFC West.

The Series: No recent meetings. The teams split two meetings at Atlanta over the last decade, but haven't met at Kansas City since the 1980s.

Stat Worth Noting: The Falcons are 1-6 ATS in their last seven against the AFC.

Game Summary: Perplexing... both these teams. The Falcons keep playing mediocre football, but win anyway. The Chiefs can't find a way to win games they should win. And on top of that, the oddsmakers still believe the public likes KC enough to install it as a 4-point favorite. Logic says to take the Falcons, underdogs with a far superior record. But this season has been anything but logical. KC is desperate, and at home. Atlanta's inconsistent ways again catch up with it this week, as they did against Detroit two weeks ago.

Prediction: CHIEFS, 23-17

San Diego (3-3) at Carolina (1-4)

Line: Panthers favored by 3. ATS Records: Chargers 4-1-1, Panthers 2-3.

Chargers Status Report: San Diego came from ahead to drop a 21-20 decision at Atlanta last week, and is second in the AFC West, two games behind Denver. WR Reche Caldwell is out, his replacement TBD.

Panthers Status Report: Carolina got whupped at Philadelphia, 34-8, and looks nothing like the 2003 NFC champs.

The Series: Carolina has won both previous meetings, one each at home and at San Diego. The most recent was in 2000.

Stats Worth Noting: San Diego is 2-0-1 ATS on the road, Carolina is 0-2 SU/ATS as a home favorite this season, but 2-0 ATS against the AFC.

Game Summary: It will be tough for the Chargers to avoid a mental letdown after losing a game at Atlanta they should have won. Still, it shows that San Diego has been playing well. Carolina is not -- the Panthers were outclassed by Philly and have been inconsistent overall. That's why they'll win this one at home. They're due for a good effort.

Prediction: PANTHERS, 22-16

Detroit (3-2) at New York Giants (4-1)

Line: Giants favored by 6 1/2. ATS Records: Lions 3-2, Giants 4-1.

Lions Status Report: Detroit is coming off a 38-10 loss at home to Green Bay, by far the Lions' worst performance of the season. They trail first-place Minnesota by a game in the NFC North. WR Roy Williams' status remains in doubt.

Giants Status Report: The Giants were off last week, after having drubbed Dallas on the road, 26-10, in Week 5. The Giants are in second place in the NFC East, a game behind Philadelphia.

The Series: No recent meetings, but the road team has won the last four meetings (the most recent in 2000).

Stat Worth Noting: To repeat, the visitors have won the last four meetings outright.

Game Summary: Based on that stat above, is an upset pick in order? No, because it's my opinion that the Lions will tumble a bit now. They were rudely brought back to this planet by the Packers last week, and while they're capable of rebounding with a good effort at The Meadowlands, I like the rested Giants to get another victory.

Prediction: GIANTS, 21-13

Chicago (1-4) at Tampa Bay (1-5)

Line: Bucs favored by 6. ATS Records: Bears 2-3, Bucs 1-4-1.

Bears Status Report: Chicago lost at home to Washington last week, 13-10, and is in last place in the NFC North.

Bucs Status Report: Tampa Bay lost at St. Louis Monday night, 28-21, and is in last place in the NFC South.

The Series: The Bucs won the last meeting in 2002, 15-0 at Chicago. Tampa Bay has won seven of the last 10 meetings, and the most recent contest at Tampa was in 2000.

Stat Worth Noting: Chicago is 2-0 ATS on the road.

Game Summary: The Bucs have been decent recently, playing the Rams tough last week and winning at New Orleans in Week 5. Chicago, without a true QB, is struggling mightily. I like the home team in an ugly game.

Prediction: BUCS, 17-13

New York Jets (5-0) at New England (5-0)

Line: Patriots favored by 6. ATS Records: Jets 3-2, Patriots 4-0-1.

Jets Status Report: The Jets spotted San Francisco a two-TD lead before rallying for a 22-14 victory at home last week.

Patriots Status Report: New England upped its winning streak over two seasons to 20 with a 30-17 triumph over Seattle.

The Series: New England swept last season's series, 23-16 at home and 21-16 at the Meadowlands. The Pats have won three of the last four meetings.

Stat Worth Noting: The Jets are 8-4 ATS in the last 12 meetings at Foxboro.

Game Summary: Okay, are you ready?... drum roll... UPSET SPECIAL! Here's why I like the Jets to finally end New England's amazing winning streak: Because the Jets' running game can exploit the Pats' average rush D. Because the Jets almost always play tough in this series, even when they're not very good as a whole (witness last season -- two games decided by less than a TD). Because this is the third straight home game for the Pats, and that might mean they're a little too comfortable. You can give me a hundred reasons why the Patriots should win, and I wouldn't argue against any of them, but the Jets and coach Herman Edwards have the wherewithal for the shocker. The streak ends here in a thriller.

Prediction: JETS, 23-20

New Orleans (2-4) at Oakland (2-4)

Line: Raiders favored by 3. ATS Records: Saints 1-5, Raiders 2-4.

Saints Status Report: New Orleans lost at home last week to Minnesota, 38-31, and has dropped three in a row.

Raiders Status Report: Oakland was routed at home by Denver, 31-3, and has also lost three straight.

The Series: No recent meetings. Teams have split the last two meetings at Oakland.

Stat Worth Noting: New Orleans has covered ATS in its last three trips to Oakland.

Game Summary: Both teams look bad right now, but for opposite reasons. It's the battle of the movable force against the resistible object. New Orleans can score, but can't stop anyone. The Raiders can't score... and aren't really stopping anyone, either. Ugh. This may be a now or never game for Oakland QB Kerry Collins, and certainly the Saints defense is a good unit to go against when you're struggling. A very reluctant pick for the home team.

Prediction: RAIDERS, 24-19

Dallas (2-3) at Green Bay (2-4)

Line: Packers favored by 3 1/2. ATS Records: Cowboys 2-3, Packers 2-4.

Cowboys Status Report: Dallas lost at home to Pittsburgh last week, 24-20, and has dropped two in a row -- both at home. The Cowboys trail first-place Philadelphia by three games in the NFC East.

Packers Status Report: Green Bay snapped a three-game losing streak -- all at home -- with a 38-10 drubbing of Detroit on the road. The Packers trail Minnesota by 2 1/2 games in the NFC North.

The Series: The home team has won the last nine meetings, although eight of those games were played at (and won by) Dallas. The most recent meeting was in 2000.

Stats Worth Noting: The home team is 9-0 SU and 8-1 ATS in this series going back to 1992.

Game Summary: Is this a mirage, or does the Pack have itself straightened out? Home has not been sweet to Green Bay this season, where the Packers are an unthinkable 0-3. Dallas is struggling with what was supposed to be the team's strength -- defense -- and it's doubtful the Cowboys have the horses (snicker, snicker) to keep up in this one.

Prediction: PACKERS, 27-17

Seattle (3-2) at Arizona (1-4)

Line: Seahawks favored by 6 1/2. ATS Records: Seahawks 3-2, Cardinals 3-2.

Seahawks Status Report: Seattle lost at New England last week, 30-17, and have dropped two straight after a 3-0 start. The Seahawks trail St. Louis by a half-game in the NFC West.

Cardinals Status Report: Arizona was off last week, after having lost at San Francisco in overtime the previous week. That was a game Arizona seemed to have in hand, so the time off was probably restless at best.

The Series: The Seahawks swept last season's series by a combined score of 66-10.

Stats Worth Noting: Seattle has won the last two meetings in the desert 38-0 and 27-6. In the last three meetings, including one at Seattle, the combined tally has been 93-16.

Game Summary: I usually love to take home underdogs in division games, especially when the spread is a TD or more, but I simply can't ignore the dominating numbers posted by Seattle. The Seahawks are clearly the better team, and obviously coach Mike Holmgren has figured out how to take a team from a rainy locale and have significant success in the Valley of the Sun.

Prediction: SEAHAWKS, 28-14

Denver (5-1) at Cincinnati (1-4)

Line: Broncos favored by 5 1/2. ATS Records: Broncos 2-2-2, Bengals 0-5.

Broncos Status Report: Denver romped at Oakland last week, 31-3, and sports a two-game lead in the AFC West.

Bengals Status Report: Cincinnati lost at Cleveland, 34-23, and has dropped three in a row to fall into last place in the AFC North.

The Series: Denver won last year at Cincinnati, 30-10, and has won three of the last four meetings.

Stats Worth Noting: The Bengals are 0-5 ATS this season, and are just 11-22 ATS in their last 33 games as home underdogs by less than a TD.

Game Summary: I'd love to pick an upset here, because home underdogs on MNF can be lethal to quality teams. But the numbers are preposterously in favor of the Broncos - RB Reuben Droughns against that defense? Struggling Bengals QB Carson Palmer against the Denver secondary? Gotta go with the favorites here.

Prediction: BRONCOS, 27-13

ON BYES: Houston (3-3), Pittsburgh (5-1), San Francisco (1-5), Washington (2-4).