Week 8 top 25

This week might have been the hardest rankings yet, as almost every team from 16-25 lost or weren’t playing. We have six new teams in the rankings, some leaping pretty high from the status of the unranked.

1. Texas (1) – The Longhorns proved that last week wasn’t a fluke, totally destroying Missouri and leaving no doubt to their legitimacy. But of course the schedule doesn’t get any easier with Okie State.

2. Alabama (2) – The Crimson Tide have an annoying habit of letting mediocre competition hang out. That’s going to eventually cost them.

3. Penn State (3) – It took awhile for Penn State to wake up, but it eventually had its way with Michigan. Huge game coming up at Ohio State.

4. Oklahoma (5) – The Sooners overcame any hangover they might have had by disposing of a good Kansas team. That, plus Texas’ success, knocks them up a rung.

5. Texas Tech (4) – The Red Raiders are still unbeaten, but they aren’t exactly winning style points, struggling with a bad Texas A&M team after going overtime at home against a mediocre Nebraska squad.

6. USC (6) – USC earned some style points, putting 69 up on hapless Washington State. Too bad Wazzu might be the worst team in Division I-A.

7. Florida (7) – Gators got to take a step back and observe some of the carnage. Florida is still in pretty good position.

8. Ohio State (10) – The Buckeyes finally broke out and played the way they were expected to in the preseason, drilling Michigan State. Big showdown with Penn State awaits.

9. Georgia (9) – Kind of like Texas Tech, Georgia isn’t exactly doing itself favors in the style point department.

10. Oklahoma State (11) – No letdown for the Cowboys, who dispatched Baylor easily. They have a huge showdown with nemesis Texas upcoming.

11. Utah (13) – Utes have been quiet, but they keep winning and now seem to be the next BCS buster possibility.

12. LSU (14) – It won’t make headlines, but the Tigers’ win over South Carolina was definitely no joke.

13. Boise State (16) – Another team that’s quietly moved up the ranks, Boise State made short work of Hawaii Friday.

14. South Florida (20) – Talk about being in the right spot at the right time, the Bulls make a huge jump up, thanks to everyone else around them losing, by beating a bad Syracuse team.

15. TCU (NR) – A humongous jump for the Horned Frogs, but a well-deserved one. They kicked the living stuff out of undefeated BYU, and their only loss is to Oklahoma.

16. BYU (8) – Had to place the Cougars here below TCU on priniciple. Still, its crazy to see three Mountain West teams this high in the poll.

17. Ball State (22) – Another mid-major, the Cardinals moved up five slots without playing. Of course, being undefeated will do that for ya.

18. Pittsburgh (NR) – The Panthers jump up pretty high from the masses of the unranked thanks to a fifth straight win, blowing out a good Navy team, plus a lot of chaos.

19. Kansas (15) – I didn’t drop the Jayhawks much, as they performed pretty well in a losing effort at Oklahoma. However, a loss vs. Texas Tech next week will probably dump them from the rankings.

20. Tulsa (NR) – The Golden Hurricane may have the most prolific offense in the nation, as they put up nearly 500 yards in the first half Saturday against UTEP. FYI, Division I-A schools in Oklahoma are a combined 20-1 this year.

21. Missouri (12) – I penalized the Tigers more than Kansas because they weren’t even in the game with Texas. It was 28-0 early in the second quarter and Mizzou was never within 25 from that point on.

22. Georgia Tech (NR) – The ACC is a jumbled mess of decent but not spectacular teams. The Yellow Jackets get the nod due to quality road victories over Boston College and Clemson.

23. Boston College (NR) – The Golden Eagles never get any hype, but come every October, they seem to be right in the mix.

24. Oregon (25) – The Ducks didn’t play, which was probably a good thing considering all the carnage in this area of the rankings.

25. Florida State (NR) – The Seminoles aren’t impressive, but they have won three straight since looking meek against Wake Forest. That’s good enough for now.

Under consideration: Virginia Tech, Minnesota, California

Dropped out: No. 17 Virginia Tech (lost to Boston College), No. 18 California (lost to Arizona), No. 19 Michigan State (lost to Ohio State), No. 21 Wake Forest (lost to Maryland), No. 23 North Carolina (lost to Virginia), No. 24 Vanderbilt (lost to Georgia).

Week 7 NFL picks

Still not very good at this. I’m sure my readership for this particular service has gone down to a quarter of a person. Just bad times. We’ll keep grinding though.

Tennessee (-9) at Kansas City
The league’s best team against possibly one of the league’s worst. When we had this scenario last week, the Rams somehow beat the Redskins. However, the Titans are great on defense and the Chiefs don’t have an interim coach yet. I’ll go with Tennessee to win a not-so-entertaining one.
Tennessee 23, Kansas City 10

San Diego (+1) at Buffalo
Are the Chargers ready to stop messing around and put together a run of a few wins? Their talent is undeniable, but San Diego doesn’t really seem to play until it has to. With Denver struggling a bit now, it doesn’t really have to. So expect Buffalo to eke one out, especially with Trent Edwards starting.
Buffalo 24, San Diego 21

Pittsburgh (-9.5) at Cincinnati
The Bengals haven’t been that horrible the past two weeks, but at 0-6 and without Carson Palmer, morale isn’t exactly high. The Steelers have had injury issues of their own, but their defensive front seven should make life for Cincy QB Ryan Fitzpatrick horrible.
Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 10

Baltimore (+3) at Miami
Ravens rookie QB Joe Flacco has one touchdown pass and seven interceptions. Even with as good as the Baltimore defense is, it can’t withstand that type of quarterback play. The Ravens’ O is a non-factor, so the Dolphins should do just enough to win here.
Miami 17, Baltimore 12

Dallas (-7) at St. Louis
Will Romo play? Will Terrell Owens have a fit if Roy Williams catches the first touchdown pass Sunday? Will Pacman ever play again? The Cowboys seem to be at a crossroads, but St. Louis isn’t the team that will test their resolve. At least, it shouldn’t be. Then again, the Redskins might beg to differ.
Dallas 28, St. Louis 17

Minnesota (+3) at Chicago
The Vikings are one team I can’t figure out. When they are supposed to win, they struggle, like they did against Detroit. When they are supposed to lose, they thrive, like they did at New Orleans. Minnesota should lose this on the road, so I’m going the other way. Whatever.
Minnesota 23, Chicago 16

New Orleans (+3) at Carolina
The Saints are a team I look at and wonder how they could be 3-3. Even with Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey injured, they still have an obnoxious amount of offensive talent. But something’s missing with them, which is why I’m picking Carolina at home.
Carolina 28, New Orleans 24

San Francisco (+10.5) at N.Y. Giants
The West Coast team playing the early game on the East Coast is almost always an easy cover. Considering that the Giants are going to be peeved after their Monday night stinker in Cleveland, this cover is basically a lead-pipe lock.
N.Y. Giants 31, San Francisco 13

Detroit (+9.5) at Houston
Dan Orlovsky running out of the back of the end zone while going out for a pass has to be a signature moment in Lions history, especially since the two points given to Minnesota ended up costing Detroit the game. Houston got a hard-earned win last week and will get another one this week, though I think Detroit covers.
Houston 23, Detroit 16

N.Y. Jets (-3) at Oakland
I was joking when I called the 49ers-Giants game a lead-pipe lock. This game is the lead-pipe lock. There’s no way the morale-lacking Raiders are staying with Brett Favre and the Jets. No way at all.
N.Y. Jets 30, Oakland 14

Cleveland (+7.5) at Washington
Are the Browns of 2007, namely Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards, back? Or was Monday a tease. Cleveland picked up an enormous win against the defending champs, but a short week coupled with a perturbed Redskins team isn’t exactly the ideal way to follow it up.
Washington 31, Cleveland 20

Indianapolis (-1) at Green Bay
The Colts finally looked like the Colts last week, just obliterating Baltimore. The Packers broke a three-game losing streak as well, but it just seems that Green Bay is a little off, even though Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing that bad. The Colts continue to surge.
Indianapolis 25, Green Bay 20

Seattle (+10.5) at Tampa Bay
The Seahawks are bad, dreadfully bad. It’s been a pretty sudden fall from grace for a team that won the previous four NFC West titles. Tampa Bay seems to be all right now that Jeff Garcia is back at quarterback and with Seattle stuck with Seneca Wallace at that position, Tampa should roll.
Tampa Bay 26, Seattle 10

Denver (+3) at New England
Kind of a tricky game. The Broncos’ offense has slowed down immeasurably since setting the world on fire for the first three weeks, but the Patriots are extremely up and down under Matt Cassel. That and the New England D seems older and more vulnerable. That last fact will give Denver, which traditionally plays well against the Pats, the win.
Denver 24, New England 14

Overall record: 43-45. Against the spread: 40-47-1

Week 8 college picks

Well, last week stunk, as I only nailed half of the winners. I guess I thought I was picking NFL games last weekend. Ah well, lets see if we can’t get back to the realm of the mildly competent this week.

USC (+42.5) at Washington State
Don’t frantically refresh this page. That spread is real, swear to God. USC fans are probably getting the shakes right about now, as the last time they were favored by this much saw the shocking loss to Stanford. However, Wazzu is horribly bad. The Cougars have been outscored 223-33 in its four Pac-10 losses and with the Trojans already having lost a game, Wazzu won’t get much sympathy at all here.
USC 62, Washington State 7

Stanford (-2.5) at UCLA
Stanford has flummoxed me all year, but it seems to enjoy staying within a game of .500. So at 4-3, I guess this week means a loss to the Bruins, who actually played pretty well at Oregon and are slowly but surely improving. We’ll see if the Cardinal ruin me again, but I’m going with UCLA to win a tight one here.
UCLA 21, Stanford 17

California (-2.5) at Arizona
Just when I jump on the Arizona bandwagon and consider them a true force, they lose at Stanford. Pretty typical if you ask me. However, Cal isn’t what I would call great either, despite an opening-game victory over Michigan State, and this is a type of game – on the road against a middle-of-the-road conference team – that they blow. And I think I will. I’m here for ya Zona.
Arizona 34, California 27

Oregon State (-16) at Washington
It must be depressing to be a sports fan in the state of Washington. Seriously, look at the landscape of that state right now. Your two college teams are arguably the two worst BCS-conference teams in the nation. The Seahawks have fallen off the face of the Earth. The Mariners had one of the worst records in baseball and the Sonics are now in Oklahoma and are called the Thunder, which is uber-lame. You see where I’m going here.
Oregon State 34, Washington 13

Missouri (+4) at Texas
This spread has plummeted quite a bit this week, as it opened at 6.5 after Texas’ big win and Missouri’s loss to Okie. State. People are big on the Tigers for good reason, as their offense is still potent and it will be hard for Texas to get as sky-high as it was against Oklahoma last week. This should be a classic and I’m picking the upset, as Texas’ run at No. 1 will be short and sweet.
Missouri 35, Texas 31

Kansas (+19.5) at Oklahoma
For continuity’s sake, we’ll stay in the Big 12 for now. There are two schools of thought on this game. One is that Oklahoma, after losing a hard-fought game with its archrival and ceding control of No. 1, will come out flat and are prone to the upset. Two is that Oklahoma is going to be extremely agitated and pluck the Jayhawks feather by feather. Ok, that’s a little graphic, but it’s in cahoots with my thought process.
Oklahoma 38, Kansas 16

Vanderbilt (+14.5) at Georgia
Well, Vandy didn’t exactly handle prosperity well, as it celebrated its historic win over Auburn by going in the tank against Mississippi State. Meanwhile, Georgia slogged through an uninspiring win over Tennessee, which is in league with UCLA and Michigan for worst highly-regarded BCS school. Anyway, Georgia wants to make a statement and I think it will.
Georgia 27, Vanderbilt 9

Mississippi (+12) at Alabama
Very interesting game. For as well as Bama has done in its big games, blowing out Clemson and Georgia, they tend to let everyone else hang around for longer than they should. Ole Miss is definitely capable of pulling a shocker, already winning at Florida and almost winning at Wake Forest. Expect Alabama to be pushed by the Rebels, but eventually prevail.
Alabama 24, Mississippi 20

Ohio State (-3.5) at Michigan State
Its a Big Ten powerhouse against a school looking for an elusive big-time mid-to-late season win. Ohio State’s offensive struggles of late gives hope to the Spartans, as the Buckeyes are the worst passing team in the nation and can’t seem to keep RB Beanie Wells in one piece. However, the Spartans are known for starting out hot and fading away in October. While MSU may not do that ultimately, I don’t think they are balanced enough to score much against a very good Ohio State defense. It’ll be a slobberknocker though.
Ohio State 17, Michigan State 12

Virginia Tech (+3) at Boston College
Kind of a strange spread if you ask me, as the Hokies have won five straight and the Eagles, while 4-1, aren’t exactly a powerhouse this year. Virginia Tech wins ugly and struggles offensively, which might explain the lack of consumer confidence right now. However, I think that Tech has enough to continue its winning ways, especially since former BC QB Matt Ryan is in Atlanta.
Virginia Tech 16, Boston College 14

Overall record: 49-21. Against the spread: 33-36-1

Week 6 high school picks

League play gets going in almost every league in the county tonight, save the Christian League. I had another good week last week, going 15-2-1 and only missing on Aquinas and Victor Valley.
We’ll see how this week treats us as I cherry-pick games throughout the county.

Redlands at Yucaipa
The Terriers have been rolling on offense, riding quarterback Josh Logan and running back Cam Phillips to 96 points in two CBL teams. Yucaipa isn’t bad defensively, but its offense has struggled, only scoring 3 points during that time. The unstoppable offense vs. the stationary one won’t be much of a contest.
Redlands 34, Yucaipa 7

Carter at Miller
The Lions broke out in a big way against Rialto, putting up 34 points on the Knights after being shut out in their league opener. What does that mean against Miller? Probably not much, as the Rebels have been almost an inpenetrable force this season. The Lions will take a step back after their step forward against Rialto.
Miller 24, Carter 3

Rancho Cucamonga at Etiwanda
For a few weeks I’ve been looking for the Cougars to get a test. Well, they’ll get that, and then some, from Etiwanda. Expect lots of points and a prolific aerial assault from Rancho Cucamonga QB Greg Watson and Etiwanda signalcaller Angel Santiago. I’m taking the home team in what could be the best game of the weekend.
Etiwanda 34, Rancho Cucamonga 31

San Gorgonio at Cajon
This is the game I’ll be at tomorrow and quite frankly, it should be a good one. Both of these teams can score from anywhere on the field, with Marlon Pollard and Walter Kazee leading the Cowboys and T.J. Smith and Tre Meadors leading the Spartans. I think the Cajon defense is a tinge better though.
Cajon 30, San Gorgonio 21

Rim of the World at Serrano
A good, solid Mojave River League matchup between two teams that like to pound the ball. However, the Diamondbacks have shown a propensity for big plays that goes against their typical 4-yards-and-a-clump-of-grass offensive philosophy. Rim will stay close for a while, but Serrano has a little too much firepower.
Serrano 33, Rim of the World 17

Jurupa Valley at Summit
This is where I’ll be in a few hours. It will be interesting to see how Summit, who has backhanded every team it has played this year, does against league competition. This Jurupa Valley team isn’t what it was last year, which was a league co-champion. Summit slowly pulls away and makes history yet again.
Summit 27, Jurupa Valley 6

Silverado at Victor Valley
You look at the records, see 0-6 by Silverado’s name and assume that the Hawks have no chance at doing anything. That assumption would be wrong though, as Silverado dealt with a murderer’s row in the non-league season. They have also beaten the Jackrabbits six years in a row. Never bet against a streak.
Silverado 24, Victor Valley 20

Ayala at Chino
We’ll give the Sierra League some love here, as this game will be going on in a couple of hours. The Bulldogs, with star RB Courtney Samuel, look to finish the job and improve on their second-place finish in league a year ago. Chino is building under new coach Greg Setlich, but isn’t quite ready to topple Ayala.
Ayala 30, Chino 13

Montclair at Chaffey
This Mt. Baldy League opener didn’t look that compelling when the schedule came out, as the Cavaliers were 0-10 last year and Chaffey was 9-2. However, Montclair has shown some spunk in going 2-3 in the nonleague schedule. They’ll need more than spunk against Chaffey, which has stabilized nicely at 3-2 after dropping its first two games.
Chaffey 34, Montclair 12

Big Bear at Yucca Valley
It’s been a brutal nonleague season for the Bears, who are 3-1-1 despite an injury outbreak that has seen their starting QB and RB miss significant time and LB Sutton Burnard suffer a life-threatening head injury. Yucca Valley comes in on a roll with two wins in a row, but Big Bear will be too much.
Big Bear 35, Yucca Valley 16

Other games of note:
Redlands East Valley 45, Rialto 0
Eisenhower 23, Fontana 12
Los Osos 27, Alta Loma 10
Upland 38, Claremont 13
Colton 34, San Bernardino 6
Arroyo Valley 28, Pacific 0
Hesperia 30, Sultana 18
Kaiser 20, Riverside Norte Vista 10
Bloomington 17, Riverside Patriot 15
Ridgecrest Burroughs 27, Barstow 25
Apple Valley 31, Granite Hills 14
Chino Hills 36, Damien 17
Twentynine Palms 23, Desert Hot Springs 18
Arrowhead Christian 26, Los Angeles Salesian 15

Overall record: 101-23-4.

Bloomington game moved to Thursday

Bloomington High School’s league-opening football game with Riverside Patriot, originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, was moved up to 7 p.m. Thursday according to Bruins coach Tom Conner, who cited a shortage of available officials Friday night as reason for the change.

Conner also said that next week’s game at Jurupa Valley has also been moved from Friday to Thursday for similar reasons.

Week 6 top 10

The top of the rankings stayed static, but there was a good bit of shuffling toward the bottom. Aquinas falls out after losing to Twentynine Palms, with Summit taking its place.

1. Redlands East Valley (5-0)
The Wildcats weren’t really challenged by Fontana, but 17-0 isn’t a score that will strike fear in the hearts of Miller or Redlands. The REV defense continues to impress though.

2. Upland (5-0)
Conceiveably could have moved up to No. 1 had it played. But the Highlanders spent this week resting up for a killer Baseline League, though it does get a break by opening with an improved but still inferior Claremont team.

3. Miller (5-0)
REV may be ranked higher, but the Rebels arguably have looked more impressive in CBL play. The offense continues to gain confidence and the defense just blanked Yucaipa.

4. Hesperia (5-0)
Another week, another close call for the Scorpions, who pulled out a tricky road game at Ridgecrest Burroughs. It doesn’t get easier, as although Sultana is 0-5, the Key Game always brings out the Sultans’ best.

5. Los Osos (4-1)
Arby Fields broke out nicely in Friday’s win over Valencia West Ranch, just in time to get the Grizzlies going for league. They start with a tricky game against Alta Loma.

6. Cajon (4-1)
The Cowboys got a nice breather after a pretty good nonleague season. With sophomore QB Thomas Carter finding his groove, Cajon will be tough to beat in the SAL.

7. Rancho Cucamonga (4-0-1)
The Cougars continue to win and, predictably, continue to move up the poll. A tough opener at Etiwanda this week will be Rancho’s first real stern test to 2008.

8. Colton (3-1-1)
I’m dropping the Yellowjackets a couple spots for their tie against Kaiser because realistically, it should have lost. However, Colton shows tenacity and grit, especially for a young team.

9. Chino Hills (5-0)
Forget about Silverado’s 0-6 record – Chino Hills got a quality road win on Friday. These Huskies aren’t as star-studded as they have been, but seem to be more effective at this point.

10. Summit (5-0)
After toeing around the periphery of the top 10, the SkyHawks finally earn their spot, despite giving up points for the first time all season. It will be interesting to see how this success translates in league.

Just missed the cut: Serrano (3-2), Ayala (4-1), Aquinas (5-1).

Week 7 top 25

A lot of movement in the rankings near the top this week, including a brand-new No. 1. Hook ‘em.

1. Texas (5) – You beat the No. 1 team, you deserve to be No. 1, plain and simple. The Longhorns have a long way to go, but thus far they deserve this ranking.

2. Alabama (2) – It was extremely tempting to put the Tide in the top spot, but a bye this week and a shaky week against Kentucky has them still at 2. Not a bad place to be though.

3. Penn State (6) – I don’t care if Wisconsin is struggling or despondent or what, any time you can whip the Badgers by 41 in Camp Randall, you are good. Beating Michigan this week for the first time since 1996 seems to be a formality at this point.

4. Texas Tech (7) – Kind of a shaky No. 4, as the Red Raiders had to overcome a lot of mistakes to take out a scrappy Nebraska team in overtime. However, a win is a win, and Tech got it done.

5. Oklahoma (1) – I’m not going to punish the Sooners severely by losing to Texas. Quite frankly, the game was closer than the 45-35 score represents. OU isn’t dead by any means.

6. USC (8) – Must be nice to turn over the ball 5 times and still win by 28 points. It wasn’t pretty for the Trojans, but they have to be encouraged by the defense.

7. Florida (12) – Tim Tebow finally played like a Heisman winner this week, leading a beating of a trash-talking LSU squad. Note to future Gator opponents – don’t make Tebow mad.

8. BYU (11) – As far as wins go, the Cougars’ victory over New Mexico won’t be particularly memorable. But BYU now has won 16 games in a row, tops in the nation, and is in great BCS position.

9. Georgia (9) – Typically a win over Tennessee holds a little more juice. But the Vols are bad and the Bulldogs’ win pales in comparison of what Florida did to LSU.

10. Ohio State (10) – Another ugly win for Ohio State keeps the Buckeyes stagnant. They have a tough game coming up at Michigan State next Saturday.

11. Oklahoma State (17) – The Cowboys take a huge jump forward, and rightfully so, as they went into Columbia and held Chase Daniel and the Tigers down. No one is laughing at Mike Gundy now.

12. Missouri (4) – After last weekend’s destruction of Nebraska, I don’t think the Tigers expected to be ambushed by Okie State. But they were, throwing a monkey wrench into the Big 12 hierarchy.

13. Utah (13) – The Utes stay undefeated, but stay still in the rankings this week. Beating Wyoming just doesn’t really do much for anyone at this point.

14. LSU (3) – Someone had to take a dive this week, and LSU was nice enough to volunteer. I realize Florida is darn good (hence their ranking), but you can’t lose by 30 to anyone and expect not to suffer for it.

15. Kansas (15) – The Jayhawks got a nice win against Colorado this week and have been keeping relatively quiet lately. Not that being quiet is always bad.

16. Boise State (16) – Southern Miss isn’t what it used to be, so Boise isn’t going to get myany style points for its victory over the Golden Eagles. But its right where it needs to be right now.

17. Virginia Tech (18) – Didn’t play, so I don’t have much to say. Best team in the ACC by default really.

18. California (19) – The Golden Bears also move up without playing, which is pretty cool for them. The better Michigan State does, the better Cal looks.

19. Michigan State (23) – The Spartans handed previously-ranked Northwestern its first loss. Now it hosts Ohio State in a unlikely Big Ten first-place showdown.

20. South Florida (20) – I refuse to move up the Bulls during a bye week. Considering their last game was a loss, they are stuck for the time being.

21. Wake Forest (21) – It was ugly, but Wake got an important win against a Clemson team that typically gives it problems. However, the win wasn’t impressive enough to prevent a Sparty leapfrog.

22. Ball State (25) – The Cardinals are 7-0 and looking pretty good. Now is the time they should start climbing.

23. North Carolina (NR) – Yeah, the Tar Heels are ranked. No, its not basketball season. Butch Davis seems to have things rolling in his second year in Chapel Hill.

24. Vanderbilt (14) – The Commodores dealt with something that is extremely rare – a letdown thing against an opponent hyped to play them. Vandy didn’t handle it too well against Mississippi State.

25. Oregon (NR) – The Ducks move back in the rankings barely by outlasting UCLA. Ranked here more on the quality of their losses than their wins.

Under consideration: Tulsa, Florida State, Pittsburgh.

Dropped out: No. 22 Northwestern (lost to Michigan State), No. 24 Auburn (lost to Arkansas).

Week 6 NFL picks

Not a bad week, but still lagging overall. Oh well, I guess there’s plenty of season to go.

Oakland (+7) at New Orleans
The Saints are extremely close to 5-0, but instead need a win to get to .500. Luckily, they have the Raiders coming to town. The circus which is Al Davis can’t be helping the Raiders and new coach Tom Cable. Look for New Orleans big.
New Orleans 31, Oakland 10

Baltimore (+4) at Indianapolis
The Colts pulled the ultimate Houdini act last week (thanks in large part to Sage Rosenfels), eliminating a 17-point deficit in the final five minutes to beat Houston. Will that give Indy enough momentum to win their first game at brand new Lucas Oil Stadium? I say yes, it’ll pull through in a low-scoring, ugly game.
Indianapolis 16, Baltimore 13

Cincinnati (+9) at N.Y. Jets
I have to admit, Cincy surprised me by hanging with the Cowboys. However, a loss is a loss and who knows what their mentality is after falling to 0-5. I think Brett Favre may still be throwing touchdown passes against the Cardinals. He’ll get a few against the Bengals too and without Carson Palmer, Cincy won’t be able to reply.
N.Y. Jets 27, Cincinnati 10

Carolina (+1.5) at Tampa Bay
The NFC South has quietly become a division to be reckoned with, thanks in large part to these two teams. Both the Panthers and Bucs are solid veteran squads, but the main difference to me is the steadiness of Jake Delhomme versus the volatility of Brian Griese. I’ll play it safe.
Carolina 23, Tampa Bay 17

Detroit (+13) at Minnesota
The Lions are planning on starting Dan Orlovsky in this game. Before you ask who, he was a fifth-round draft pick out of Connecticut in 2005. I think Lions fans would rather have Rip Hamilton at QB right now. The Vikes are flying high after a big Monday night win and will take this going away.
Minnesota 28, Detroit 3

Chicago (-3) at Atlanta
Whoever wins this game will move to 4-2. That’s pretty surprising, especially for a Falcons team led by a rookie quarterback. However, I think the Bears are just a little more solid all-around, as they’ll continue to lead the sad-sack NFC North after this game.
Chicago 24, Atlanta 17

Miami (+3) at Houston
This game is weird to me. The Dolphins have beaten two juggernauts in the Patriots and Chargers, but I don’t entirely trust them. However, Houston blew a 17-point lead against Indianapolis thanks to some pretty shoddy decision-making by Sage Rosenfels. I think that’ll have some hangover.
Miami 20, Houston 16

St. Louis (+13.5) at Washington
The Rams were arguably the worst team in the first four weeks of the NFL. The Redskins were arguably the second-best behind the Giants. Maybe Jim Haslett provides some sort of inspiration to St. Louis, but I’m not seeing it against the red-hot Skins.
Washington 28, St. Louis 13

Jacksonville (+3.5) at Denver
The Jaguars definitely have their backs to the wall, and Denver is never where a team like that wants to go. The Broncos’ offense has slowed down a bit after a torrid start, but the defense seems to have stabilized as well. I’ll take the home team here.
Denver 27, Jacksonville 21

Philadelphia (-4.5) at San Francisco
Another judgement day for a 2-3 team, as the Eagles have Donovan McNabb blogging and Brian Westbrook with broken ribs. Hey, at least the Phillies are winning right? It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles react to the McNabb drama. I think they’ll be Ok, if only for this week.
Philadelphia 30, San Francisco 19

Dallas (-5) at Arizona
I must admit, my faith in the Cowboys has been shaken a bit lately, as Dallas lost to Washington and barely held off Cincinnati. Arizona, while the best team in a bad NFC West, has a hard time defending the pass (see Brett Favre, 6 TDs). I look for Dallas to win a shootout.
Dallas 37, Arizona 34

Green Bay (+1) at Seattle
This seems to be easy money right now. The Seahawks have been absolutely brutal and Matt Hasselbeck will be less than 100 percent – if he even plays at all. I know the Packers have had their issues, but they are much better than Seattle at this point.
Green Bay 27, Seattle 16

New England (+5) at San Diego
The Patriots fans that were threatening to jump off the ledge after the Miami loss are back after Matt Cassel showed some big-play ability last week in San Fran. The Chargers are 2-3 and need a win and although the Patriots have broken their hearts time and again, they’ll get it – but not by much.
San Diego 21, New England 17

N.Y. Giants (-7.5) at Cleveland
Is it me, or does it look like Eli Manning is a whole new quarterback. Winning that Super Bowl seems to have lifted some heavy weight off his shoulders, as Manning is simply dissecting teams. With an aggressive defense, a deep stable of running backs and Manning, the Giants are legit. The Browns, however, are not.
N.Y. Giants 24, Cleveland 12

Overall: 36-38. Against the spread: 35-38-1

Week 7 college picks

I’m consistent if nothing else, going 7-3, 5-5 for what seems to be the 100th week in a row. Let’s see if we can’t finally crack .500 against the spread.

Arizona State (+28) at USC
This spread seems really huge, too huge. I realize the Sun Devils have lost three in a row and seem permanently destined to never have two good years in a row, but Mark Sanchez’s knee seems to be an issue for the Trojans. Look for USC to treat that situation, and this game, with kid gloves. They’ll win and win easily, but not cover.
USC 31, Arizona State 14

UCLA (+19.5) at Oregon
It’s amazing that UCLA shut out the Ducks last year. Of course, Oregon was on its fourth or fifth-string QB at the time and Karl Dorrell was desperately fighting for his job. Well, Rick Neuheisel has job security, UCLA seems incapable of scoring more than 10 points against a decent team and Autzen Stadium will be rocking. Seems like a bad combo for the Bruins.
Oregon 35, UCLA 10

Arizona (-7) at Stanford
I was completely wrong about Arizona last week – or I was just completely wrong about how bad Washington was. I said Arizona wasn’t ready to cover a 20-plus point spread, and they kill Washington by much more than that. Now comes a Stanford team that is seems extremely average, hence the 3-3 record. I say Zona takes another big step.
Arizona 34, Stanford 23

Washington State (+30) at Oregon State
This spread looks stupid, but then again, this game is kind of dumb. I realize that last sentence was completely sophomoric, but Washington State is bad. So bad that it lost by 25 to UCLA. I have no faith that the Cougars are capable of covering any sort of spread and quite frankly, I am dreading the Apple Cup battle between Wazzu and U-Dub next month.
Oregon State 48, Washington State 7

Texas (+6) vs. Oklahoma
This is the premier matchup of the weekend, with the No. 5 Longhorns and the No. 1 Sooners playing in one of the better rivalries in the nation. Seriously, Dallas during Texas-OU week is a celebration of alcohol, corn dogs and trash talk. For all the accolades these teams get though, their games tend to be pretty lopsided. I think the Red River Shootout is overdue for a classic. It’ll get one.
Oklahoma 30, Texas 28

LSU (+6) at Florida
This is one of those lines that just makes me shake my head. What is Vegas seeing from this game that I don’t? LSU is a defending national champion with a lockdown defense and a quickly maturing QB in redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee. While Florida has gloryboy Heisman winner Tim Tebow, it seems a little off and is a few weeks removed from being beaten by Ole Miss. I’m not only taking the Tigers to cover here, but to win.
LSU 23, Florida 20

Oklahoma State (+14) at Missouri
Another undefeated showdown between two Big 12 teams, this game is definitely flying under the radar. It shouldn’t though, as this game should have more fireworks than a Fourth of July celebration in Washington D.C. The over/under for this game is 76.5 points, which is ridiculous, but definitely realistic. I think Missouri pulls away late in a game that will definitely be worth the price of admission.
Missouri 54, Oklahoma State 31

Michigan State (-1) at Northwestern
This biggest game in the Big Ten this week is this one. No, I’m not kidding. The Spartans and Wildcats are a combined 10-1 right now and the winner of this could set up to be a darkhorse in that conference. This matchup has been entertaining in recent years, with MSU recovering from a 38-3 deficit to win two years ago and NW winning in OT at East Lansing last year. I think the Wildcats are a little more well-rounded than the Spartans.
Northwestern 27, Michigan State 24

Penn State (-6) at Wisconsin
This was the game expected to be the headliner on the Week 7 Big Ten slate. But the Badgers have had two stomach-punch losses in a row, blowing a 19-0 lead at Michigan and giving up a game-winning drive at home to Ohio State last week. I guess conceivably the Badgers are due, but Penn State is playing at an entirely different level right now.
Penn State 28, Wisconsin 17

Notre Dame (+9) at North Carolina
This line keeps swelling, going up 2 points from what it was Tuesday. It represents a general skepticism with the Irish, despite Notre Dame getting off to a 4-1 start. North Carolina seems to have it rolling under Butch Davis and look to be on their way back to the way they were in the 90s under Mack Brown, but I think Notre Dame hangs tough in this one.
North Carolina 28, Notre Dame 24

Overall record: 44-16. Record against spread: 29-30-1