Cowboys at Panthers: The angst in Big D is off to an early start. The September champions are sitting at 2-3 midway through October, and Tony Romo is getting his weekly firing on talk radio every week. The Cowboys' 18.8 points per game only slightly edges out the 18.4 that the Panthers have averaged to date. Carolina's offense, ranked #7 last year, has slid to #23 in 2012, and is no longer outpacing their defense (which has improved slightly this year). One thing that speaks well for Dallas: their offensive line has been improving over the past couple of weeks, and put up a very strong performance against Baltimore last week - enough so to keep the team in the game and a Dez Bryant 2-point conversion drop away from overtime. Cowboys this week.
Jets at Patriots: The Jets are the unlikely #1 team in the AFC East, in a four-way 3-3 tie. A closer look, however, reveals the lie: only the Patriots and Dolphins are actually scoring more points than they yield, and it's by 55 points in New England. Last week, though, the Jets beat up on the Colts and looked like a real NFL team, while the Patriots blew a 4th quarter lead to the Seahawks. There's no way Shonn Greene can run like that for two weeks straight, right? I wonder if the gameplan going forward will be to try and keep Mark Sanchez to 82 passing yards. Somehow, I don't think it will fly this week against the Patriots.
Steelers at Bengals: One by one, Steeler players went down to injury against the Titans on Thursday night - but the remaining players weren't exactly putting on a clinic either. The Bengals have gone from a decent season start to giving the Browns their first win last week. Both teams are watching their margin of error erode, as the 5-1 Ravens begin to run away with the division. One of these teams needs to step up ASAP if the AFC North is going to have a wildcard team. I'm picking the Steelers but I'm not sure they can get it in gear enough to keep from falling behind in the playoff race in these next few weeks.
Cardinals at Vikings: Things looked better for both of these teams a week ago. Then, the Cardinals lost 19-16 at home to the Bills, and the Vikings couldn't keep up with RG3 and the Redskins. Now both teams are 4-2, and one of them is destined to be 4-3 after this week. It's really remarkable what the Cardinals have been able to do considering how out-of-control awful their offensive line has been. Not surprisingly, Kolb got knocked out of the game last week. Ponder continues to look better each week, which just grinds my gears considering how much I wanted him last year. I am all Vikings for this one.
And the die roll pick says the game with the smallest point spread:
Saints at Buccaneers: Tampa showed their first signs of life in weeks against the Chiefs, as Josh Freeman uncorked the ball downfield, passing for 328 yards on only 15 completions. Brady Quinn wasn't up to the task of exploiting the Bucs' 25th ranked defense, but they'll find a well-rested Saints offense to be a much tougher challenge. Question is, will Tampa's offense continue to look like last week? The Saints and their dead-last defense gives Tampa all of the opportunity they can ask for. If they're going to continue to right the ship, this is their chance. I have more faith with the Saints offense, so they're my pick.
Last week's results:
Jolly Bill: 3-2
Certis: 2-3 (only two!)
Secret Asian Man: 0-5
Jolly Bill: 17-11
Secret Asian Man: 9-19