Sunday, October 31, 2004

I know no one got to read my original thoughts on Monday night's game between the Jets and the Dolphins, due to the frustrating erasing of my posting....but the whole scene surrounding Monday night's game has changed entirely.

I had written that there was a 2 percent chance the Jets would let the Dolphins pounce, continue the momentum they picked up by beating the Rams last week, and fall victim to an upset. And I said there was a 97 percent chance the Jets would beat the Dolphins soundly. (I also said there was a 1 percent chance Dan Marino and Ricky Williams would rejoin the team and lead them to victory.)

Well, now that the Steelers beat the Patriots, I think the Jets will be inspired. It didn't seem likely that the Patriots would lose anytime soon after they beat the Jets last week, but now, all of a sudden, a win moves the Jets back into a first place tie. So there is NO chance the Jets will let down Monday night, and I think I'll change my original pick - I had picked the Jets, 24-17. I think I'm upping that in both directions, let's go Jets, 31-10. Are you ready for some football!??!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Patriots 13, Jets 7

I'm not really sure how to go about writing about a loss. Hasn't happened until now. I've been spoiled so far, only having to write about wins.

I think we have a better idea after Sunday of where the Jets are. They are a very good team, perhaps not good enough to get to the Super Bowl right now, but a very good team. And, I think, the Jets are a lot more like the Patriots than I thought. Both teams are very similar defensively. I thought the defenses were weak, letting each other's offense drive up and down the field in the first half...but when it mattered, both defenses stepped up big time.

I can't get Jerald Sowell's fumble out of my head. The Jets should have won this game. That fumble is what makes this loss so tough. Still, the Jets had a chance to win it late, and didn't come through. That's the thing about this team, and I've mentioned it before - they always have a chance. Chad Pennington always gives the Jets a shot to win the game. He made a couple of bad passes on that final drive, but, who knows, if some things broke the Jets way earlier in the game, Pennington might have been in a position where he could have been running out the clock later on.

I'm starting to ramble a bit here. Let's go sequentially, in case you missed the game. First drive, Patriots kick a field goal. The defense bent, but didn't break. The Jets' first drive, they came all the way down the field, were on the verge of scoring, and Sowell dropped the ball around the five yard line. The Patriots came back and kicked a field goal. With about a minute and a half left in the first half, Pennington ran the ball into the end zone on a patented play-fake, giving the Jets a 7-6 lead. Then Tom Brady came back down the field, and found David Patten in the end zone for a 13-7 halftime lead. There would be no more scoring, and it's a shame the Jets only rushed three defenders, because Brady had about 30 seconds to find someone in the end zone. A man in his face could have forced a throwaway, and a field goal, and perhaps a different outcome.

The Jets had a few chances later on, but some dropped passes, and a couple of misfires by Pennington on the very last drive added up to a Patriots win. I'm going to take a little bit of issue with some of the playcalls in the third quarter. In a couple of instances the Jets kept running the ball and going nowhere when a pass mixed in might have moved the ball downfield. I think there were a couple of three and outs where the Jets ran three straight times. Wayne Chrebet only had one catch on the day, just FYI. And I think Santana Moss was pretty unsure of his hamstring. The Jets used him on a couple of fake reverses, once on a real reverse, and in my mind, I think they only threw his way twice. One pass was off his fingertips (he should have had it), and another was, I think, over the middle, and it wasn't the greatest throw. But my theory is that Moss couldn't sell his patterns too well, because of his leg. We'll see how he is next week. Actually, when Pennington underthrew Chrebet on the Jets' last play of the game, Moss was wide open shorter, but still past the first down marker. Oh well.

Justin McCareins had his biggest game as a Jet. I think the Jets tried to exploit his matchup with Asante Samuel, and they did a good job of it, for the most part. McCareins looked shaky at times, though - maybe it was the wet ball, maybe it was just me. But I'll tell you where he really looks shaky - and that's returning punts. McCareins had one really good punt return, the rest were, "Just make a fair catch, and hold on. Don't drop it!!" types of punt returns.

So all in all, the Jets matched up well with the Patriots. Which is what most of us, I think, expected. They should have won, which is what I expected, but I don't think most others thought that...and by 'should have', I mean the Sowell fumble - it wasn't a forced fumble, he just dropped it. Looking at the Jets schedule, the Jets have Miami, Buffalo, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Arizona coming up. All of those games are very winnable, with just Baltimore presenting another measuring stick. The Jets need to pile up wins against those teams, because after that, it's December, and the Jets will have to face Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle, the Patriots, and the Rams. Not a tough schedule this year, which basically means, win the games you're supposed to win, and get into the playoffs. Hopefully by that second game with New England, the Jets will figure out a way to beat the Pats, and hopefully it'll be another game with first place on the line.

Before I wrap up, here's the Patriots' remaining schedule: at Pittsburgh, at Saint Louis, Buffalo, at Kansas City, Baltimore, at Cleveland, Cincinnati, at Miami, at Jets, and San Francisco. That schedule matches up pretty well with what the Jets have left. And looking at their opponents, I don't know which of those teams will beat the Patriots. It sure would be wild if the Patriots come into that Week 16 matchup with the Jets with a perfect season on the line...but now we're getting a little ahead of ourselves.

The Jets have the Dolphins next week, on Monday night. Hopefully on their way to 6-1. It would be bad news if the Jets take this Patriots loss hard, and drop one at home against Miami. Your e-mails tomorrow....Send 'em on in:

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Sunday, 4pm, Jets (5-0) at Patriots (5-0) - Gillette Stadium

I've been accused of being a homer. A person who roots blindly for his team, no matter what the situation. A person who always thinks his team is going to win, despite all evidence that seemingly points to the contrary. And all that has nothing to do with why I'm picking the Jets to beat the Patriots this weekend. The reason I'm picking the Jets to beat the Patriots this weekend is because the Jets have played the Patriots very well during New England's recent stretch of dominance, and if anyone is going to put an end to this winning streak, it's going to be the Jets. This weekend. I'm almost positive of it.

FYI, Jets fans, good article in this week's Sports Illustrated about the relationship between Chad Pennington and Herman Edwards. Two of my favorite men in the whole universe. And it is because of these two men that the Jets will find a way to beat the Patriots. Throw in a little Curtis Martin, and that's like a bonus. I've previewed this game all week - there's not much else for me to say about it. I'll keep quiet until Sunday...but I'll end with this: the Patriots are favored by six points over the Jets. That's way too much. I'm glad the Jets are underdogs by that much, and that not a lot of people are picking the Jets this weekend, from what I've seen. That can only help matters. I'm taking the Jets, 24-21. It's going to be a close one, but the Jets will pull through.

Here are the rest of my picks for this weekend, for entertainment purposes only, of course (I went 9-5 last week, a strong showing, but nothing compared to the 13-1 posted by Dave from Brighton...nice work Dave. Perhaps next year in this space we can compete against one another. We'll have to talk. Have your person call my person. Anyway, I'm 47-39-2 on the season.):

In Baltimore, the Ravens are a 5-and-a-half point favorite over the Bills. I haven't liked picking the Ravens much all season, but I have a feeling this one will be all Baltimore.

The Giants are home to the Lions, and New York is favored by six-and-a-half points. That seems like a big spread to me, considering we're talking about the Giants. I've been impressed by them so far this season, and I think they'll win, but I don't think the Giants will cover. I'll take the Lions plus the points.

Philadelphia's a 7-point favorite over the Browns in Cleveland. The only reason this might be kept close is because it's in Cleveland, but the Eagles are looking really good right now. I'll take the Eagles.

The Colts are a 9-point favorite over the Jaguars. Jacksonville kept themselves alive as contenders in my eyes last week...I'll take them plus the points in Indy to stay competitive.

The Vikings are giving six-and-a-half points to the Titans in Minnesota. Tennessee already pulled off an upset (or at least an upset in my eyes) at an NFC North opponent this year when they blew out Green Bay in Green Bay. I don't think it'll happen again, and Minnesota is a lot better than Green Bay right now. The Vikings are my pick.

Carolina is a 3-point favorite over San Diego in Carolina. I'm not sure why. I think San Diego is playing a lot better football right now than the Panthers. I'm taking the Chargers, getting points.

The Rams are a 6-point favorite over the Dolphins, in Miami. There's a slight chance the Dolphins will pull off this upset, since St. Louis is on the road. I don't know why I think that, I just feel it in my bones. But if I were putting money on the game, I'd take the Rams. So that's what I'll do here. Rams, -6.

Tampa Bay is a 7-point favorite over Chicago. This game's in Tampa, and it's probably the worst game of the week. Not probably, definitely. I'll take the Bears.

The Chiefs are a 3-and-a-half point favorite over Atlanta. The game's in Kansas City, but the Chiefs are not better than the Falcons. At least, I don't think they are. I'm taking the Falcons, getting points.

The Cowboys are reeling, and they're underdogs this week. Dallas gets three-and-a-half from the Packers in Green Bay. I'm taking the Packers. I think they're recovering from their recent struggles...Dallas has some recovering to do still.

In Arizona, the Cardinals are getting six-and-a-half from the Seahawks. Two losses in a row for Seattle. They'll put an end to that in emphatic fashion against Arizona. I'll take Seattle.

Oakland is home to New Orleans on Sunday night. The Raiders are favored by three points. Actually, this is the last game listed on the list, but I wonder if there's a Sunday night game this week opposite Game 2 of the World Series. Oh well, this might be a 4 o'clocker. Either way, the Raiders are favored...I'll take the Saints, getting points.

Monday night (for sure), the Broncos are giving six to the Bengals. Denver should run all over Cincy. I'll take the Broncos.

Enjoy the weekend - World Series and Football! And check out for an update there. I'll try to keep updating that site for the World Series.
The following is an open letter-style warning to Red Sox fans, wherever and whoever you are:

Dear Red Sox Nation,

Congratulations on beating the Yankees. The historic accomplishment by your Boston Red Sox is certainly worth being proud of - the Sox did what no other team in baseball history has done. It's really unbelievable when you think that of all the times for a team to come back from a 3-0 series deficit, it happens now, against the New York Yankees, after a 19-8 loss. Just unbelievable. Really.

But be careful. I can't tell you how many times I heard, from many different people, on Wednesday night, that "THE CURSE IS OVER!! THERE IS NO MORE CURSE OF THE BAMBINO!!" There's a curse all right. And it remains to be seen whether or not this curse has indeed been beaten.

Now, I know how silly it seems for a rational human being to believe in a curse. 1978: The Yankees were just playing better baseball, and Bucky Dent got a pitch to hit. 1986: I didn't believe Bill Buckner was the byproduct of a curse. Just a bad luck play. Besides, as I tell everyone I know, the game was already tied when the ball went through Buckner's legs, and who knows what would have happened in extra innings? Maybe the Sox would have won. (Of course, the Mets won that World Series, and there is your New York Mets connection to this story.) That losing streak stemming from the World Series in 1986 continuing into the 1995 post-season - just more bad luck. It wasn't like Sox fans were being teased with close calls - the Sox were getting swept in those series...just not playing great playoff baseball, I guessed.

Then came last year. You know the story. 5 outs away. Aaron Boone. I became a believer in the Curse of the Bambino. 1946? 1975? 1978? 1986? 1988-1995? I've reconsidered - those are all byproducts of a curse.

Which brings me back to my original argument - all you Red Sox fans who believe the curse has been broken. The curse has nothing to do with beating the Yankees. Sure, beating the Yankees after trailing the series 3 games to none, and winning Game 7 at Yankee Stadium may be the cure to the curse, but the curse is that the Red Sox haven't won a WORLD SERIES since 1918. Not that they haven't been able to beat the Yankees (that's just been a large part of the curse). The Yankees had nothing to do with "Pesky Holding the Ball in '46" or "Game 6 (Bill Buckner)" (and the ensuing 1986 Game 7, by the way).

So celebrate. Celebrate an American League Pennant. But just remember - an American League Pennant does not equal an end to the curse. I remember a dramatic, come-from-behind ALCS win by the Red Sox in 1986 that did not lead to a World Championship. It led to a situation where the Sox were one out away from a Championship (2 outs in the top of the tenth, with a 2-run lead)...but then the curse kicked in. This sure has been a dramatic run, but the Curse has been around way too long to not make another appearance. For the sake of all my friends in Red Sox Nation, I hope it doesn't. But I, for one, am recommending you take precautions. It sure is nice to beat the Yankees...but World Champion sounds a lot better than American League Champion.

Good luck in the World Series.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

This is the time of the week where I devote an article to the opposing team. But we all know plenty about the 5-0 New England Patriots, winners of 20 games in a row, winners of two of the last three Super Bowl championships, etc., etc. So we'll just continue my week-long preview of the big game.

Incidentally, some good stats in the New York Daily News on Wednesday. Something I forgot, partly because I stopped keeping track of this at the end of last year, when Pennington started to pitch poorly: Chad Pennington, in his career, has thrown 31 touchdown passes and no interceptions in the red zone. That's my favorite stat ever. I hope he keeps it up. I think Pennington threw an interception inside the 25 against the Pats last year (one of five on the night) that was close to breaking that perfect streak, but the fact remains, he's perfect. The Patriots could challenge that streak...but again, I hope it stays alive.

Another good stat - the Jets are the last team to beat the Patriots in New England. In December, 2002, the Jets beat the Pats 31-17. It was an absolute butt-kicking, if you remember. I think it was a Sunday night, and Tom Brady had one of his worst games - the Jets beat him up pretty good, en route to the division title. Just FYI. It's not impossible for the Jets to win in New England. And another note - Curtis Martin always plays well against his former team. Especially considering he's having such a great year to begin with.

I hate to shortchange another article, but I have lots of homework this week, and there is another New England-New York game I should turn my attention to tonight. If time permits, and I'm not exhausted at the end of the night, might feature a recap of Game 7 of the ALCS.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

There were some website problems last night, contributing to no posting this morning. Sorry about that. There were also no e-mails to talk about, so I had nothing to post from the mailbag.

This is supposed to be an AFC East preview, but really, do we need to look at the entire division? The Bills are 1-4, the Dolphins are 0-6, and the Jets are playing the Patriots this week. I think we all know that this whole week is an AFC East weekly preview, specifically, Jets-Patriots.

I talked sometime last week about how similar Chad Pennington and Tom Brady are in their playing styles. Neither one consistently lights up the stat sheet, although Brady will have a big game more often than Pennington. Look at their stats so far this year, though:

Brady: 84/143 (58.7%), 1159 yds., 10 TD-5 INT, 93.5 rating
Pennington: 107-152 (70.4%), 1151 yds., 5 TD-2 INT, 97.8 rating

Both are very efficient, as evidenced by their ratings. Both are accurate, as evidenced by their completion percentages (I actually only threw that in there because Pennington is on a record pace in that category). But both are smack dab in the middle of the pack in yardage. Daunte Culpepper leads the league in most categories - 1766 yds., 18 TD-3 INT, 72.2 completion percentage - just FYI. Daunte Culpepper produces Chad Pennington's numbers in one possession. Oops - I think he just threw for another touchdown.

Another point I want to bring up before I go back to doing my homework is that during the Patriots' 20-game winning streak, they only beat the Jets once. That could be a point of pride for the Jets (just don't tell them that if you extend the Patriots to winning 21 of their last 22 games, that 21st game would be the Jets during last year's 0-4 start). Did that stat make sense? I'm not sure. But it would be nice for the Jets to be able to show up just once in the winning streak archives, as opposed to the other members of the division (I think the Dolphins will end up on there three times...if not more if the Jets don't win on Sunday). But it would be especially nice for the Jets to be known as the team to break the streak.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Jets 22, 49ers 14

I forget if I ever mentioned this, but Jonathan Vilma has an on-line diary running on, on the NFL page. I read it a lot during training camp, and I thought it ended before the season started. I thought it was a "life of a rookie during his first NFL training camp" sort of thing. But last week I was tooling around the NFL page on and I saw the diary, and read it. It was right after the Jets-Bills game, and if you remember, at the end of that game, as the Bills were driving late in the game, Vilma had a pass in his hands but dropped it. It would have been his first career interception. He wrote about that in his journal, saying something along the lines of, "If you saw the game, you know that I almost had my first career interception. That would have been a big one. I hope when I do get it, it is a big one, and I return it for a touchdown." Something along those lines. Go look it up if you want to read exactly what he said. (But not until you finish reading what I have to say.)

The point of all this is that Vilma got his first interception on Sunday, against the 49ers. And it was a big one. HUGE. Granted, it was partly a bad decision by Tim Rattay, partly a great play by Vilma, and although he didn't return it for a TD, I'm looking forward to see what Vilma has to say about his first career INT.

It came with 1:30 left in the game, after the Jets were forced to punt after another unsuccessful attempt to put away an opponent. After the interception, the Jets FINALLY put the game away on a touchdown run by Curtis Martin, his second of the day.

I partly take the blame for this game being so close. There was an event at my school that caused me to miss the first half of the game. I made it to a bar to catch the entire second half, which included all of the Jets touchdowns, and, now that I think about it, perfect defense. The 49ers didn't score once. So, I think if I had been watching the entire game, it probably would have been a blowout.

For the first time in their history, the Jets are 5-0. So I don't really know how to react. I, like every other Jets fan, have never seen the Jets start a season this well. My concern (because when you're a Jets fan, there always tends to be a concern) is that the margins of victory are getting narrower. This game was a 1-point game, not 8, as the final score indicates. Last week, of course, was 2 points. There's not much more margin for error.

The other thing about the final score is that it didn't have to be that close. It could have easily been a three-point Jets lead towards the end of the game, as opposed to one. Trailing 14-3 at halftime, the Jets scored a touchdown early in the third quarter. Instead of just kicking the extra point, the Jets went for two to try to make it 14-11. They failed, so it was 14-9. When the Jets scored their next touchdown, they had to go for two, and failed again. Hence, the 15-14 score late in the game. This type of game management is one of Herman Edwards' weaknesses as a head coach, and I thought it would be solved this year. But apparently it has not been. The fact that he's going for two in that first instance shows a lack of confidence in his offense, to me. By trying to make it a 3-point game, instead of accepting a 4-point deficit, I am led to believe that Edwards doesn't think the offense can get another touchdown. Maybe it's just me...but I don't think so. And if I'm sitting there knowing that the Jets should NOT be going for two, how come he doesn't know that. That's all I'm wondering. I still love ya, Herm.

A couple of breakout games on Sunday. Martin continues to be great - he had 110 rushing yards and the two touchdowns. But LaMont Jordan finally saw some action. I only saw one drive where he touched the ball a couple of times, but that drive ended with Jordan taking the ball into the end zone from about 15 yards out. So the calls for Jordan to get more playing time are going to pick up again (from more than just Mark in Miami). Also finally getting some balls thrown his way was Anthony Becht. I think the Jets finally lit a bit of a fire under Becht by using Chris Baker so much. And I think Becht was given a shot after a key Baker fumble last week. (Becht has been the starting tight end, but Baker has seen the majority of balls thrown his way.) In this game, Becht had four catches for 47 yards, but it wasn't just that. Becht was thrown the ball on the run, and each time that happened, he barreled over a defender. That hadn't been happening in recent years - Becht would catch a pass and be tackled right away. In short, he looked like an NFL tight end on Sunday. I don't know whether his performance merits the Jets keeping him when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year, but it definitely meant he should have more passes thrown his way. (I have a feeling this also depends on whether or not Santana Moss is back in the picture anytime soon. I don't think he played in this game at all, unless it was early on. But, obviously, Chad Pennington had to find other targets.)

So it's finally here. The Patriots beat the Seahawks, the Jets beat the 49ers. They will both meet next week at 5-0. And, as I wrote here a few weeks back, the Patriots will have the added burden of trying to wash away the bad sports taste left by the Red Sox in New England fans' mouths. The Jets will try to end the Patriots' record 20-game winning streak. I am going to have to be on my A-game this week. Can't miss a posting. No excuses. Send your e-mails by Monday night...they'll be here for Tuesday. Let the hype begin.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Jets (4-0) vs. 49ers (1-4) at the Meadowlands, Sunday, 1pm

The Jets should have no problem with the 49ers this week. Yes, the Jets are dealing with some injuries - to the offensive line, to Santana Moss. But the 49ers are much worse off than the Jets. Two of their best players are hurt - one on offense, one on defense. And I read today that the 49ers' pass defense is horrible, which I didn't realize. That's good news for Chad Pennington, even without Moss. I bet Justin McCareins has his biggest day as a Jet this weekend. Look for the Jets to finally open it up in the passing least, I hope. This is the week to do it. The Jets are not making a big deal about being 4-0, but at the same time, they're well aware they're on the verge of being the first Jets team to go to 5-0. I'm just jumping straight to the pick here - in the last of the "soft" games, before the big matchup with New England next week. The Jets are 10-point favorites. I predict a push. Jets, 30-20, if they air it out...Jets, 20-10 if they play the same conservative game.

Elsewhere, for entertainment purposes only, the rest of the NFL (I was 5-9 last week - what a horrible week - and I'm 38-34-2 on the season):

Winless Buffalo hosts winless Miami. One team has to win, even though I'd love there to be a tie to keep both winless. Buffalo is a better team than the Dolphins, plus, they're home. I even think Buffalo is six points better than Miami, so I take the Bills, -6.

The Patriots are a 4-point favorite over the Seahawks. In New England. Seattle has shown they can win on the road this season, but this might be a bit too much. Still, I think they can keep it to within a field goal. I'll take Seattle, +4.

The Eagles are a nine-point favorite over the Panthers. Some say this is revenge for the Eagles for last year's NFC Championship game. I say, these are two different teams. The Eagles are much better, the Panthers much worse. Again, though, nine points seems like a lot. I think the Eagles win by 7 or 8. So I take the Panthers plus the points.

Cleveland is giving three, in Cleveland, to Cincinnati. I think the Bengals are better than these spreads they've been getting the short end of. And I think this is a game the Bengals can win. So I take Cincy, plus three.

The Lions are a two-and-a-half-point favorite at home over Green Bay. I refuse to believe the Packers are this bad. This is the last week I'll take Green Bay. Don't let me down, Favre.

Chicago is a one-point favorite over Washington, in Chicago. I have to go with Washington, even though they keep letting me down.

Tennessee is giving six-and-a-half to Houston, in Tennessee. After what the Titans did to the Packers on Monday night, I have to take them this week. Who wouldn't? They may win by 50 at home.

Atlanta is a four-and-a-half point favorite over the Chargers at home. I think I'll take San Diego, because I think the Falcons are not for real, despite the 4-1 record. Just a hunch.

Jacksonville is a home underdog, getting two points from Kansas City. I'll try the Jaguars one more time here. If they can't win this game, they're not a real contender either. JAX, +2.

In Dallas, the Cowboys are giving three to the Steelers. Not sure who's the better team here. Pittsburgh's overachieving, Dallas is underachieving. I'll go with the overachievers. Pitt, +3.

Denver is giving two points to Oakland, in Oakland. I'll take the Broncos, because the Raiders are not good.

Minnesota is in New Orleans, and is a three-and-a-half point favorite. I can't figure out the Saints. I thought they were going to be a good team, then last week they lay an egg against the Bucs, who are downright bad. I think they may surprise people and come back and beat the mighty Vikes. But I'm not going to pick them, because I can never pick them right. I'll take Minnesota, minus-three-and-a-half.

On Monday night, the aforementioned Buccaneers are in Saint Louis to play the Rams. The Rams are six point favorites. Another Monday Night Football blowout. I take Saint Louis by a whole lot more than six.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Rather than a San Francisco 49ers-focused preview here, this entry is more of an injury report. Yesterday I wrote about Pete Kendall and Brandon Moore. Today, Santana Moss' name appears on the injury list for the Jets. Moss strained his hamstring late in the third quarter of last week's game against the Bills on one of his best punt returns of the year so far. He returned to the game for one play, then we didn't see him again. Moss is listed as questionable for the 49ers game. The Jets should be able to beat the 49ers even if Moss doesn't play. My fantasy team, unfortunately, I can not say the same for.

The good news for the Jets on the injury front is bad news for San Francisco. I mentioned before, Julian Peterson is out for the year. Now it appears the 49ers' leading receiver so far this season, tight end Eric Johnson, won't play on Sunday because of broken ribs. That makes a thin team even thinner.

One last football note - Mark, you'll get your wish this week. The Daily News reports that Herman Edwards will give plenty of playing time to LaMont Jordan this week. No word on why he decided now is the time to do it, and it remains to be seen whether or not it actually happens, because we've been hearing this for three years now.

Let's shift the focus to baseball for a minute, since 100% of my readers root for either the Red Sox or the Yankees. If I write something baseball on, I will direct your attention there. Being that I haven't written much football today, I'll just finish up here with a couple of baseball notes.

I'll mention this again before the post-season ends, but I have an obsession, which some of you know about. If I have no rooting interest in the post-season, I want the World Series to feature two teams who have never played each other before, so that eventually, every team will have faced every other possible team for the championship. (This doesn't just apply to baseball - it applies to every sport. And even when I do have a rooting interest, I root for a team to face my team that they've never faced before.) I hope I'm not confusing you. For example, we've had a good run in baseball and football the past few years:

Baseball: Yankees vs. Marlins, Angels vs. Giants, Yankees vs. Diamondbacks, Yankees vs. Mets.
Football: Patriots/Panthers, Raiders/Buccaneers, Rams/Patriots, etc..

The Yankees are by far the world leaders in this category. By my unofficial count, I think the Yanks need to play only the Expos, Brewers, Rockies, and Astros to complete the full set. So, needless to say, I am rooting for the Astros to win the NLCS, get to their first World Series, and set up a new matchup, no matter who wins the ALCS.

Speaking of the ALCS, I don't want to upset any of my loyal readers, but the Red Sox are absolutely cursed. If they didn't win in 2003, they're never going to do it. I maintain that. This year's curse appearance definitely has to be Schilling's ankle, in case you're looking for something to point to. I wish you Sox fans good luck...but I also offer my condolences.
It's late, I need to go to bed, but I need to write before I sleep. (I had to work tonight, and while I was passing the hours watching the Sox-Yankees, deciding whether or not I'd have to cut highlights of the game, I realized I should turn the site into a post-season blog. We'll see if that happens...if it does, it would start tomorrow night.)

Anyway, Wednesday is AFC East update day. First, though, a Jets update. The injuries to Pete Kendall and Brandon Moore appear to be more serious than first thought. Both are definitely out for Sunday's game against San Francisco, and both could miss more time. Kendall could miss 3-4 weeks. That's bad news.

OK. AFC East. So the Jets beat the Bills last week to drop them to 0-4, while the Patriots beat the Dolphins, to drop them to 0-5. Everyone knows both the Jets and Patriots are 4-0. First, a word about the Jets' schedule. Yes, it's been weak, but guess who else has had a weak schedule. Thaaaaat's right. The Pats. The Patriots barely beat the Colts in week 1, and the Colts are by far the best team New England has played. After the Indy game, the Pats beat Arizona, Buffalo and the Dolphins. The Jets also beat the Dolphins and Bills, and in weeks 1 and 2, beat Cincinnati and San Diego. So things have been about even between the two teams up until this point. Next week is where the schedules differ - the Pats have to play the 1-loss Seahawks, while the Jets play the 1-win 49ers. And then after that, the two teams play each other, and the talk about who is better can be put aside for another week or so.

I just looked something up that was quite disturbing. I thought that Jets-Pats game was on ESPN, but it's not - it's a 4pm game. Then I looked at the entire Jets schedule and realized the Jets don't have one Sunday night game - their only nationally televised (in prime time) game is November 1st, a Monday nighter against the Dolphins. That makes me mad. For so long, the Jets stunk, and they were never on Monday Night Football. Then the Jets got better, and they'd get at least one Monday nighter, maybe two if we were lucky, plus an ESPN game or two. Then the Jets go and have one bad year (where their quarterback was hurt - mind you, if he was healthy, last year wouldn't have been a bad year), and they're barely on in prime time at all the following season!??! I'm outraged. I'd write a letter if I wasn't so busy writing a blog that 3 people read.

Just to round out the AFC East, the Bills play the Dolphins next week. The Bills should win the game, because they're head and shoulders above Miami. Throw in the fact that Jay Fiedler and A.J. Feely are both hurt, and are both questionable for the game, and Miami's starting quarterback will most likely be Sage Rosenfels, and it adds up to Buffalo's first win of the season, and Miami to 0-6. But still, wouldn't it be awesome if they tied? I think so.

Tomorrow I'll try to slap together a preview of San Francisco. Or maybe my time would be better spent on I'll let you know.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Let's get right to the mail, because we have an unfortunate situation here. I'm going to start with an e-mail from our own Mark in Florida, which somehow just appeared in my inbox this week, even though it's dated October 6th. You may remember I asked Mark to share his experience at Pro Player Stadium with us, since he attended the Jets-Dolphins game there last week. Well, I was wondering where his response was - turns out, it must have been stranded somewhere in cyberspace. Here's what Mark said:

"Like I said, I was at the game and it was hilarious. I would say there were at least 40% jet fans in the stands, but walking through the parking lot, it seemed like a lot more. It was great.
Some good fights in the stands. The Dolphins suck, and the Jets didn't play well, but you are right, a win is a win. And come December/January, all you need is about 10 wins give or take and you should be in the playoffs. In short, it does not matter how good or bad you look doing it.
Pennington did not look good, nor did the Jets receivers except for Chrebet. I will say it again, give lamont jordan the damn ball. I suggest the Jets go to a two running back set and keep the defense guessing a little. Lamont could be the king of the screen pass if Herm would give him the "green" light.

Good pun. "Green" light. That sounds a lot like the atmosphere in Miami the past few years - more and more Jets fans - and when the Dolphins are winless, it doesn't help matters. Funny thing, Mark could have been talking about this past weekend's game - substituting Bills for Dolphins. The only difference is that Chad Pennington (aside from a couple of mistakes) looked better against the Bills than he did against the Dolphins. But the Jets receivers didn't look great, except for Chrebet, and LaMont Jordan was again a non-factor. I am not a huge fan of Jordan, personality-wise, but you're right, Mark, he would be a huge plus ripping off 60-yard screen passes for touchdowns every now and again. The only thing I'll say about his lack of playing time is perhaps he is being put in store for later in the season, this way the Jets will be pulling new plays out of their hats that we haven't seen (and neither have opposing defenses) all season. Just a guess...otherwise Jordan just really is in the doghouse, and we'll never be seeing him again outside of kick returns.

OK - back to the ol' Inbox - this e-mail actually traveled instantly, without a week's delay:

"Dear JohnnyJets,
As a Pats fan, I have to say I miss the era when the Jets could be
counted on to blow a game here or there.
Yesterday's a perfect example -- it would have been so easy to roll over after giving up 14 points
and the lead in the 4th quarter. What jumps out at you as different on this year's Jets team, so those types of mental errors aren't hampering the team?
Dave in Brighton."

Dave - good point. I think I forgot to mention this in the recap yesterday. The Jets reversed roles in Sunday's game. Usually, it's the Jets who rally to take a late lead, leaving time enough for the other team to have one last chance to score at the last second. The other team inevitably does, and it's the Jets who come up on the short end of the desperation pass. Sunday, of course, the Jets gave up the late touchdown, fell behind by a point, then came back down the field, kicked a field goal to take the lead back, then held off a drive by Buffalo in the final minute to win the game. And I've said it before, I'll say it again - the difference is Chad Pennington.

Vinny Testaverde is a good quarterback in many ways. But he's not very smart, which is a little surprising, considering he's in Bill Parcells' good graces - you wouldn't think Parcells would love an unintelligent player. But Testaverde didn't think quick when he was with the Jets. He was king of the "burn-a-timeout-with-11-minutes-to-go-in-the-first-quarter-because-you-can't-figure-out-which-audible-to-call". True, Testaverde led the Jets to his share of late comebacks, and the AFC Championship Game, but whenever Vinny was leading a late drive, he was always looking for help from the sideline. Now, I'm not saying that Pennington never looks to the sideline for help, but I think that's mostly to appease the coaches. Pennington could make things up as he goes if he has to, and I think he takes advantage of that from time to time. Pennington is also very, very smart. He was very nearly a Rhodes Scholar at Marshall. And he rarely makes a mistake on the field. That's why these past couple of weeks have been so surprising - Pennington hasn't played very smart football. But give him the ball with five minutes remaining and his team down by one, and Chad Pennington will take his team to victory nine times out of ten. (Maybe ten out of ten, I don't know.) That's what he did on Sunday - he's very cool under pressure, and makes smart decisions when it counts.

That's why Chad Pennington and Tom Brady are so similar. Brady has two Super Bowl championships to show for his intelligence, and hopefully Pennington is on his way to a first. We're kind of lucky to be seeing what we're seeing right now in the AFC East. Despite the fact that the Dolphins and the Bills are awful, the Jets and Patriots have two of the best quarterbacks in the league, and they're both young, and they're both not going anywhere for a long time. So the two, who are similar in so many ways (not the greatest arms, but they'll find a way to beat you; they're both very cool under pressure; and both very intelligent on the field) will be facing off for many years to come. (In one of those strange moments in life when you get a sign when you don't expect it, both my wife's Tom Brady bobblehead and my Chad Pennington bobblehead dolls are nodding in agreement as I type at the desk.)

So, Dave from Brighton, I think all that answers your question. Chad Pennington is the big reason, but also, it helps to have a guy like Herman Edwards on the sideline. Edwards is the type of guy who believes in his players, and I'm sure when the Bills took the 14-13 lead, he didn't get down on his guys - he probably built them up, and made them believe they'd be coming back. I love Herman Edwards. I should find a bobblehead of him.

In other news: Pete Kendall and Brandon Moore are both questionable, I think I saw today, for next Sunday's game against the 49ers. Hopefully their injuries are not too serious. The Jets are not very deep on the offensive line. They could probably get away with missing some key parts on Sunday, since San Francisco is not very good, and they lost one of their best defensive players for the rest of the season last weekend (Julian Peterson). But if these guys aren't healthy for the following week against the Patriots, that could be a big problem for the Jets....Just FYI (and for entertainment purposes only), the Jets are early 10-point favorites over the 49ers on Sunday. Yikes. I don't like that.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


When I read the New York Daily News this morning, and saw their preview predicting a Jets 16-13 win, I was thinking, what are you, crazy? Then I reviewed my pick, Jets, 28-17, and what I wrote on Thursday - that it would be a little closer than you might expect, but the Jets would still win comfortably. Well, it was A LOT closer than you might have expected...and the Jets won, but not comfortably. (Good prediction, Daily News.)

Again, the play-calling was way too conservative. There were a ton of opportunities in the game for the Jets to put the Bills away. Up 7-0 as halftime was approaching, the Jets had the ball at about the 15 yard line with 13 seconds left, and instead of taking a shot into the end zone to try to get a touchdown, the Jets let the clock run down, called timeout, then kicked a field goal to take a 10-0 lead into the half instead of 14-0. In the second half, the Jets had a couple of offensive series where they went three and out on a few running plays instead of spreading the field and jumping out to a bigger lead. That allowed the Bills to get back into the game.

Chad Pennington had a pretty good game statistically. Probably the quietest 300-yard passing game you'll see. He finished 31 of 42 for 304 yards. He threw 1 Touchdown and 1 interception, and the interception was not a smart play. Instead of taking a sack, Pennington tried to force a pass, which was picked off. (That INT led to the first Buffalo touchdown.) He did that again later in the game, but luckily completed the pass. This is the difference, though, between a Pennington-led Jets team, though, and any other Jets team. After the Jets fell behind 14-13, I felt they would be able to turn it on offensively, and come right back down the field to score and take the lead back. That's what they did. Pennington found everyone on the drive - Chrebet, Sowell, McCareins, and Becht (what a catch!) en route to Doug Brien's game-winning field goal. But again, this is something we've talked about, if the Jets can drive down the field at will when they need to win the game, they should be able to throw the ball a lot more earlier in the game to pad their lead a bit.

Curtis Martin rushed for just 77 yards - his lowest total so far on the year. Not a bad effort, though, considering the Bills' defense isn't too bad. The Bills, by the way, continue to hold the title of "Best Winless Team in the NFL". Another hard-luck loss for them.

The main reason the Jets won this game, though, was the defense. Jonathan Vilma again started at middle linebacker, and did another good job. He was involved in a lot of big plays. So was John Abraham. He's just getting better every week. I predicted two things for this game - the Jets would test the Bills deep on offense often (wrong on that count), and that the Jets would sack Drew Bledsoe a lot. They got him four times - and Abraham had 3 of those sacks. (Vilma had the other.) Abraham was constantly pressuring Bledose, and the 'D' knew just when to put pressure on him to force him to rush a pass. The only two touchdowns for the Bills came late in the game, which isn't good, but, seriously, the Jets should have been up by 24 points, not 13, when the Bills got those two TD's.

All that said, the Jets are 4-0. They're playing well enough to beat teams like the Dolphins, Bills, and 49ers, who they play next week. But the Jets have to work on a lot of things over the next couple of weeks if they want to be able to beat the Patriots on the 24th. They will not win that game unless they open up the offense more than they did on Sunday against Buffalo.

Tuesday's mail day - share your thoughts on Sunday's game, next Sunday's game, or anything else on your mind. Send your e-mails by Monday evening.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

You may have noticed there was no Buffalo preview Thursday morning. My Buffalo fan didn't come through. Too bad. Hopefully we'll get something from him in time for the next game against the Bills.

The Jets have a score to settle with Buffalo. Hopefully they remember that come Sunday. Some of you may remember the massive e-mail I sent out last year prior to the Jets-Bills game (in Buffalo). It outlined the Jets' improbable, but quite possible, path to the playoffs. That path included the Jets winning all of their games - beginning with a win against Buffalo, in Buffalo. Chad Pennington proceeded to have one of his worst games as a pro, as part of what will go down as his worst season ever, and the Jets lost to Buffalo in a game they were never really able to get anything going.

Well, now it's the Bills' turn to try to stay alive (sadly for Buffalo, it's happening in Week 5 instead of Week 15), and the Jets can bury Buffalo. A win would improve the Jets to 4-0, and drop the Bills to 0-4. It would also help the Jets keep pace with the Patriots, who figure to beat the 0-4 Miami Dolphins this weekend in New England. And the for the Jets to bury the Bills, they need to stop Travis Henry.

Henry wasn't a major factor in last week's Bills game against the Patriots, but that game became more of a passers' game than running game. And Henry WILL be a factor this weekend, because he destroys the Jets. So if the Jets stop him, they'll win, because Drew Bledsoe can't beat the Jets. If the Jets can't stop Henry, watch out, because that's enough to help the Bills win.

Here are a couple of things working in the Jets' favor, though. Chad Pennington has been protected pretty well over the first few games. Last week, the Bills blitzed the Patriots on something like 29 of 50 pass plays. Tom Brady wasn't sacked once. So I'd expect more of the same this week against the Jets. The good news - I think the Jets can handle it. And even if Pennington has to get rid of some balls too early, I think the Jets' receivers will have a big day - the Bills are short two defensive backs this week - Lawyer Milloy and Troy Vincent. Santana Moss should burn Terrence McGee. (By the way - watch McGee on kick returns - he took one 98 yards against the Patriots last week. Actually, watch out for Nate Clements on punt returns too - he's explosive.) So I look for good things out of the Jets passing game, and Curtis Martin should be able to get 100 yards again, running a lot late in the game to help put things away.

Prediction: I'll go with the Jets, 28-17. A little closer than you might expect, but the Jets will still win comfortably.

So by taking the Jets to cover the 6-and-a-half point spread, I begin the week's picks. Last week I went 8-5-1 for the second consecutive week, and on the season I'm 33-25-2.

The aforementioned Patriots are favored by 12 and a half over the Dolphins. I think the Dolphins 'D' will keep this one fairly close, and that's a lot of points as it is. So I'll take Miami getting the points.

Pittsburgh is a 6-point favorite over Cleveland. Ben Roethlisberger is going to suffer his first defeat - I refuse the Steelers are this good. I don't care that Cleveland's on the road - I'm taking the Browns, getting 6.

The Colts are favored by 9 over the Raiders. This one's in Indy, and it shouldn't be very close at all. I'd take the Colts by more than 9.

The 4-0 (!) Falcons are home against the Lions. The Falcons are giving six and a half. I'll take the Falcons to keep it going another week. Why not. Falcons, giving six and a half.

New Orleans -3 over Tampa Bay. New Orleans is at home, so the fact this is such a small spread must be because of their running back situation. That's not enough to help Tampa. I take the Saints, giving 3.

The Cowboys are giving three and a half to the Giants. Like I've been saying, the Giants have been playing much better than I thought - I think they'll win in Dallas. I'll take the Giants, plus the points.

The Texans are home 'dogs, getting 4 from Minnesota. The Vikes are well-rested, coming off the bye week - they'll win by more than 4. I take Minnesota.

The Jaguars are 3-point favorites over the Chargers. This is a game where we'll see what the Jags are made of (if they're for real to be considered as a good team this year). This is a game the Jaguars should win, against a weaker team, and the Jaguars are coming off a tough loss. Despite the fact it's out west. I'm buying into the Jaguars this I'll take Jacksonville, -3.

Denver, at home, giving five and a half to the Carolina Panthers. I'll take the Broncos.

Seattle is a 7-point favorite at home against the Rams. I think Seattle will win, but that seems like a big spread. I'll take the Rams getting the points, but there's a good chance this one will be a push.

San Francisco is giving 1 point to the Cardinals. This should be a pretty bad game. San Fran's probably favored because they are the home team - I'll take the home team. 49ers -1.

Washington and Baltimore Sunday night is a pick 'em. These two teams have been the toughest for me to pick all season. I'll go Washington, because they're home, and I hate the Ravens.

Finally, Green Bay Monday night is favored by 3 over Tennessee. I'm not sure what the injury situations are in this game, but I think Brett Favre is playing, and I have no idea about Steve McNair. I have a feeling he wouldn't miss a Monday nighter, but this one's in Green Bay, and Green Bay took a tough loss last week - they're not going to lose this one at home too. I'll take the Packers, minus-3.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


New England: 3-0
NY Jets: 3-0
Buffalo: 0-3
Miami: 0-4

What a weird division this year. The Jets are legitimately a good team, I hope people are now buying what I've been selling for the past few weeks. The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions, and have won 18 straight games, so I have to give them their due. The Bills, and the Dolphins, though, are two of the worst teams in football. Well, at least record-wise.

I don't think it's fair to call the Bills bad. They aren't good, but they're not downright bad. They're by far the best 0-3 team in the league (how's that for a backhanded compliment). The Bills lost in Week 1 to the Jaguars on a last-second touchdown pass by Byron Leftwich that was barely caught in the back of the end zone. Final score: 13-10. In Week 2, the Bills can't get any offense going out west against Oakland, and fall. Final score: 13-10. After a bye in Week 3, the Bills take on the Patriots in Buffalo, looking to keep the Pats from winning a record-tying 17th game in a row. Final score: Patriots 31, Bills 17. The Bills didn't look like a bad team against New England. They looked like a flawed team, and the Patriots were able to expose those flaws at key moments.

That's what the Patriots do. They figure out the flaws, expose them, and then pounce. So many of the games they've won on their current winning streak have come as the result of the one big play that turns the game in their favor. Last Sunday, it was pressuring Drew Bledsoe, and that pressure finally resulted in the turnover that put the game away - a fumble returned for a touchdown. The Patriots should win this weekend at Miami. The next weekend, they host the Seahawks. Seattle is 3-0, and I'll talk more about this potential matchup next week...there's a good chance it features two undefeated teams.

Miami stinks. We established that fact in yesterday's posting, and if you have seen them play at all this season. But here's an interesting thing: Ricky Williams may want to play again this season. He's reportedly trying to get a hearing with the NFL so that he might get back to the team this season. This opens up a huge can of worms, because he's facing a drug suspension, which probably can't be enforced retroactively to the first few games of the year, and then there's the whole issue of whether the Dolphins want Ricky back. Management will probably take him back, because they're desperate. But I doubt he will be well-received by teammates, coaches, and fans.

So that's the AFC East rundown, for now. The Jets host Buffalo on Sunday. I'll try to get a Bills preview posted for Thursday, courtesy of a guest writer who grew up in Buffalo and remains a lifelong Bills fan. If I don't get that, there might not be a Bills preview, because I'm working a late night on Wednesday.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Jets 17, Dolphins 9

It sure wasn't pretty, but the Jets are now 3-0. Chad Pennington had one of the worst games of his career (THE worst, passing yards-wise), but the Jets are still 3-0. Santana Moss had just 17 yards receiving, but the Jets are still 3-0. Et cetera, et cetera.

The Jets looked like they played down to their competition on Sunday. My dad made a good point, saying maybe the bye week was at the wrong time, because the Jets were on a roll, then had to take a week off, and maybe had to shake off some rust. I'm going with that theory, and in that case, it's a good thing the Jets played the Dolphins, because they wouldn't have been able to win had they been playing a team that was good. Anywhere near good...which the Dolphins are not.

Here's the deal with Miami - their defense is still pretty good. So I'm not too dismayed by the fact that the Jets' offense wasn't great. But Curtis Martin still put up pretty good numbers, it was just the passing game that wasn't sharp. The defense played great against a very bad Miami offense, which was what was needed.

Jonathan Vilma started at middle linebacker, in place of Sam Cowart, and I'm pretty sure he had a good game. (I couldn't watch much of this game...but I saw the good parts.) Victor Hobson played well, and John Abraham was the pre-playoff-illness John Abraham of two seasons ago. Which is to say, John Abraham was dominant. So if nothing else, hopefully this game inflates some defensive egos with Buffalo coming to town next week.

Miami is 0-4 for the first time since 1966. Nice. The Jets are 3-0 for just the third time in franchise history. The Jets have not made the playoffs in any season in which they started 3-0. Nice history for this franchise, huh? Remember the last time the Jets went 3-0? 2000. Al Groh. The Jets started the season with wins on the road, I think, against Green Bay and Tampa Bay (I think that's right...I could look it up to make sure, but that would require some effort on my part, and I like my memory better.) That's also the season that ended in disaster...4 straight December losses when A win would have put the Jets in the postseason. One of those losses was to lowly Detroit, at home, in the Lions' last road win before this season started. So anyway, the Jets can go to 4-0 with a win next week at home against Buffalo for the first time since that 2000 season. And I guarantee - if the Jets go to 4-0 this season, they are making the playoffs. That's the johnnyjets guarantee (and those readers of know the johnnyjets guarantee is about as reliable as Browning Nagle with the game on the line).

Anyway, we're back on schedule - I've done the re-cap, which from now on will be posted on Monday (I had a paper to write Sunday night), and now it's time for the regular Tuesday posting - Mail Bag:

"Dear JohnnyJets,
Based on many hours of listening to former football players shout on Sunday morning television shows, it seems that there are two schools of thought in football.
One says a win is a win and you can only get 16 of them so take them how you get them, while the other says if you can't throttle a team in such disarray as the Dolphins, you'd better be worried about October football, not January football.
Where do you fall in evaluating Sunday's game?
Taking The Points in Brighton."

Well, Brighton, first of all, let me say that I have learned a valuable lesson about watching football on Sundays. Don't watch the pregame shows. They all stink. They're not worth your time. Those of you who know me know that I have lots of trouble reading the Sunday paper. There's just too much of it to read. But I find that if I take those extra couple of hours on Sunday morning when the former football players are shouting at each other, between 11am and 1pm, I can really plow through at least 2 of the 17 sections that come each Sunday morning on my doorstep. So that's point number one. Those shows are horrible. Secondly, I am of the school of thought that a win is a win, and when you're a Jets fan, you are used to them not putting teams away, so even if they beat a supposedly bad team by "just" eight points, it still goes in the "W" column, and at the end of the day, you're still undefeated, so I'm very happy that they won. Pennington will play better the rest of the season - you have to look at it as, well, he's now got his worst game of the year under his belt, and the Jets still won. Things are going to get better. Wayne Chrebet probably put it best after Sunday's game. He said something to the effect of, "This team still isn't hitting on all cylinders. When we do, I don't want to be the team that has to play us."

Thanks for the positive thoughts, Wayne. Fireman Mark, if you want to write with reaction to the game in Miami, please send along your thoughts. I'll be attending this coming Sunday's game against Buffalo. And tomorrow, according to the schedule, we'll be taking a look around the AFC East, where it's either feast (3-0, 3-0), or famine (0-3, 0-4).

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Jets-Dolphins, 4pm

Hopefully this coming week I'll be able to stick to my regular schedule, now that I've completed most of the homework I have due on Monday. But here's a quick preview...Jay Fiedler starts against the Jets today. That worries me a little bit, because of his recent success against them. But the fact is, the Dolphins are not good. Their defense is still pretty good, but there should be no way Jay Fiedler beats the Jets, because he's got no one to run the ball, and no one to throw to. Because it's the Dolphins, they will probably stay close to the Jets, but I don't see them winning. Chad Pennington will play smart and not make mistakes against the Dolphins D, and we'll find out how Curtis Martin runs against a good defense. I'll go Jets, 27-20, covering the six-point spread.

Here are the rest of the games (for entertainment purposes only) - I went 8-5-1 last week, on the season, I'm 25-20-1:

The Giants are in Green Bay to play the Packers. Green Bay is a 7-point favorite. The Giants have been looking surprisingly good, but I don't think they'll win this game in Green Bay. I'll take the Packers to win, but the Giants to cover that spread. So my pick is the Giants.

Philadelphia takes it's 3-0 record into Chicago. The Eagles are favored by nine. I think I'll go with Philly.

Washington is in Cleveland, and is favored by three. I think Cleveland will win this game outright...I can't really figure out the Redskins. The Browns are the pick, plus-three.

The Patriots are five-and-a-half point favorites over the Buffalo Bills. This game's in Buffalo, and I think it will be really close. I'm taking the Bills with the points. I don't know why...because Drew Bledsoe has had just one good game against the Patriots in the past few years...but I think Buffalo has a shot at ending the Patriots' winning streak. Bills, plus five and a half.

The Colts are another road favorite, giving three and a half points at Jacksonville. The Jaguars get their first loss of the season, Colts by more than three-and-a-half. I take Indy.

Pittsburgh is favored at home by five against Cincinnati. I don't know why that's such a big spread. I'm taking the Bengals (I think they'll win outright).

Houston hosts Oakland. Oakland has looked horrible this season, and they've looked pretty good. Houston hasn't looked too good at all...until today. I'm taking the Texans, getting two at home.

New Orleans is favored by three at Arizona. There's potential for an upset here, but I don't have the guts to go with the Cardinals. I'll take the Saints, minus-3.

The Panthers are favored by three and a half over the Falcons in Carolina. I've been surprised so far by Atlanta (they're 3-0). The Panthers are 1-1, and haven't looked too good, but I think they'll win this one, at home, coming off their bye week. Panthers, minus three and a half.

Denver is a 3 point favorite on the road, at Tampa Bay. I'm going with the Broncos, because Tampa is not good at all.

Tennessee is giving three on the road in San Diego. The Titans are banged up, and I don't think Steve McNair is playing. So I'm taking the Chargers, getting three at home.

Saint Louis is a three-and-a-half point favorite in San Francisco, another poor team. I'll take the Rams, even though they're on the road.

And Monday night, the Ravens are favored at home, by six points, over the very disappointing Kansas City Chiefs. I keep saying I'm not buying into all that Ravens hype, but I think they'll improve to 3-1 on Monday night, and I think they'll cover six points. So the Ravens are the pick.

Enjoy the afternoon of football!!