Like a phoenix rising from the ashes or better yet, Edgar Renteria crushing baseballs into the dark Texas night, your LI Press Picks guru is back from the grave. After being haunted with four consecutive of .500 picks or worse, Halloween offered more treats than tricks as a modest 8-5 record last week has righted the ship.
Season scores in LI Press Picks contest (visit LIPressPicks.com for details on how to enter, play and win a trip to two to Hawaii) are the sum of your best 17 weeks of picks. Since we’ll be picking games into the playoffs, there are 12 more chances to secure a spot on a sandy beach in Hawaii. With Novemeber here and baseball gone and the Miami Heat running through the NBA, it’s time to put your best foot forward heading into the second act of the 2010 NFL Season. It’s football season now.
Percentages taken from fan voting on LI Press Picks Football Pool. Picks indicated in bold.
Tampa Bay (5-2) 16% picked @ Atlanta (5-2) (84% picked)
The Bucs (3-0 on the road) and the Falcons (3-0 at home) put their undefeated home and away records on the line in week 9. The Bucs squeaked past the Cardinals last week despite surrendering a dizzying 296 yards of passing offense against a Cardinals squad that ranks close to last in every passing offensive category. The Falcons WR Roddy White is pulling in 106.7 yards a game and is establishing himself as one of the best wide receiver in the game. In a pivotal NFC South game, expect the Falcons to continue their success at home by utilizing their balanced run and pass attack.
Chicago (4-3) (65% picked) @ Buffalo (0-7) (35% picked)
The winless Bills have taken their last two opponents (Chiefs, Ravens) into overtime with both efforts falling short by just three points. The last time we saw the Bears in week 7, Jay Cutler was playing catch with Redskins CB DeAngelo with his four INT’s. While Bills QB Ryan Fitztpatrick has created some excitement for the Bills, their inability to stop the run (188.7 rushing yards allowed per game) will be the key to the Bears success on Sunday. Expect Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz to design a game plan around RB Matt Forte to exploit the holes in the Bills defense.
Survivor Pick of the Week
New England (6-1) (96% picked) @ Cleveland (2-5) (4% picked)
I’m still in shock that the Patriots stole a third-round pick from the Vikings for a few weeks’ worth of Randy Moss headaches for the Vikings while still having a chance to claim the beleaguered wide out. The Pats have the Browns this week with the Steelers looming on the on-deck circle in Week 10.
NY Jets (5-2) (83% picked) @ Detroit (2-5) (17% picked)
Turnovers undid a Jets offense that apparently tried to do too much with their bye week before being blanked by the Packers at home last week, 9-0. The Jets defense did a nice job of bottling up Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week and faces a less daunting task this week against the Lions on the road. Avoiding penalties (seven for 55 yards last week) and turnovers (3 last week) while utilizing a simpler aerial attack for Mark Sanchez to execute are the keys for a Jets victory this week.
New Orleans (5-3) (97% picked) @ Carolina (1-6) (3% picked)
The Saints march into Carolina after making a statement last week against the Steelers with a 20-10 victory. The Panthers offensive line isn’t opening up any holes for their studded backfield rendering DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart all but useless. The Saints march through the Panthers on their quest of repeating as Super Bowl champions.
Miami (4-3) (14% picked) @ Baltimore (5-2) (86% picked)
The Ravens are winners of four of their last five games while coming off a bye week. Miami has had a rough first half schedule and it doesn’t get easier in Week 9. A violent and rested Ravens defense and balanced offense make the Ravens one of the premier teams in the league right now.
San Diego (3-5) (31% picked) @ Houston (4-3) (69% picked)
The Texans will be celebrated for a terrific offense but it’s their awful defense that limits potential playoff hopes for this Houston team. The Texans rank dead last in passing yards allowed (299.4 yards per game) while the Chargers sport the best passing offense with 315 yards of offense coming through the air. Put Philip Rivers down for 300 yards while the Chargers look to build on their win against the Titans last week by defeating the Texans in Week 9 which could be their first road win on the year.
Arizona (3-4) (28% picked) @ Minnesota (2-5) (72% picked)
The Vikings are giving the Jets a serious run for leading the league in headlines this season with Brett Favre’s ankle and Randy Moss’ failed reunion tour. In a must win game for the Vikings, the Cardinals ineffective passing attack and see-through defense should open up a chance for Adrian Peterson and the Vikings to get back on track.
NY Giants (5-2) (87% picked) @ Seattle (4-3) (13% picked)
Seattle has an undisputed home advantage at Qwest Field and it will be tested as a healthier and stronger Giants team will put them to the test. The Giants were less than impressive against Lions and Cowboys in their previous two contests with turnovers and poor special teams play being the lone knocks on a strong ball club. Look for Seattle to try and use their home field advantage to create turnovers and make big plays on special teams to steal one against the G-Men.
Indianapolis (5-2) (77% picked) @ Philadelphia (4-3) (23% picked)
The Michael Vick redemption tour picks back up this week after recovering from rib injuries that held him out of action for the past three weeks. I’m not sure how much longer the Colts can fill in the gaps left behind when TE Dallas Clark’s season ended due to injury even with Peyton Manning calling the signals.
Kansas City (5-2) (47% picked) @ Oakland (4-4) (53% picked)
The Raiders massive offensive line has enabled RB Darren McFadden to establish career highs in rushing attempts, rushing yards and TD’s through only six games. The Chiefs will have to stack the box if they want to stop McFadden and backup Michael Bush and with Raiders fans afforded something to cheer for the first time in a long while, the Raiders have momentum and the edge entering their Week 9 matchup with the Chiefs.
Pittsburg (5-2) (92% picked) @ Cincinnati (2-5) (8% picked)
Robert DeNiro must have had the Bengals in mind during A Bronx Tale when he observed, “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” With a roster latent with talent on both sides of the ball, the Bengals have disappointed with poor execution. The Steelers look to bury their AFC North rivals in a survival game for Cincinnati.
Dallas (1-6) (6% picked) @ Green Bay (5-3) (94% picked)
The Packers defense gets to feast on a Romo-less Cowboys team that will be left to wonder what could have been for the 2010 season. Jerry Jones will be hosting the Super Bowl this season but little did he know that the Cowboys were going to be better suited in hosting the NFL Draft.