No time for thoughts, just pick'ems.
Buccaneers at Panthers: Tampa keeps making the picks because they seem to consistently produce one of the tightest point spreads each week. This week, they are far and away the narrowest spread, as 1.5 point favorites at home over the Panthers. Seems kind of low for a team on a 3-game winning streak, and one that has won 4 out of 5 since their bye. The 2-7 Panthers, meanwhile, have not been able to get their talent fully on track. Cam Newton has struggled to produce, so much so that Enix hasn't been able to make a Gabbert crack since the start of the season. I don't think the Panther roster is 2-7 bad, but that's where they're at right now. Can't see picking against the Buccaneers here, regardless of how close the handicappers see it.
Ravens at Steelers: This is where Byron Leftwich re-jumpstarts his career! OK, that might be a tad optimistic. I am very interested to see what kind of offense Pittsburgh runs with Leftwich in. When he came in for Roethlisberger last week, the team seemed reluctant to do much, but Leftwich seemed most at home when they did open it up and he could wind up and rifle downfield. He does one thing and he does it well, and the Steelers might be wise to let him wing it downfield to Mike Wallace rather than try to grind the game out on the ground with their sub-par running backs. The Ravens and Ray Rice will win a battle of the ground games. I think Pittsburgh's best chance is to be more aggressive than anyone expects. I don't expect that they will, though, and even if they do, it'd be a tough call to not pick the Ravens.
Packers at Lions: At 4-5, the Lions are not out of it, but their playoff hopes are quickly reaching the point of needing life support. Green Bay at 6-3 has not quite been the powerful team they hoped, but they are still hot on the heels of the Bears in the NFC North. Stafford will not have to worry about Clay Matthews, who will miss the game, making things more interesting. Calvin Johnson's knee didn't seem to slow him down last week, as he eclipsed 200 yards and finally scored on a Stafford-thrown ball. After a slow start to the season (in which, in retrospect, the team started against 3 top defenses), the Packer offense has been rolling, averaging just over 30 points per game. The upset factor is high here, but after the way the Lions defense failed to contain the Vikings last week, I can't see them sufficiently slowing down the Packers.
Bears at 49ers: The two best defenses in football, points-wise, square off on Monday Night, while their starting quarterbacks nurse concussions. Jay Cutler is doubtful to play, meaning there's a good chance it will be Jason Campbell tasked with trying to score on the 49er defense. Alex Smith, however, is said to be likely to play, which sadly means that it is still not yet Kaepernick Time, despite his efficient passing and dangerous running in Smith's absence last week. Regardless of who plays QB on either team, I am taking the 49ers, who should be able to get the job done, so long as they don't let Chicago's defense do some scoring.
And the bonus...
Jaguars at Texans: On the one hand, it's the team with the NFL's best record against the team tied for the NFL's worst. On the other hand, I'll be there at Reliant Stadium cheering the Jaguars on. Bolstered by having a fan in the stands, the Jaguars shock the Texans in a post-Sunday Night letdown game.
Last week's results:
Certis: 4-1 (it's OK, this was just to balance out the one week where it was 2)
Jolly Bill: 0-5
Season to date:
*Legion*: 30-18 (now tied with Certis? f**k)
Jolly Bill: 19-29