Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ask Yourself: Who Needs It More?

I'm inclined to look at many of this week's NFL games and ask, "Which team needs the win more?"

That may not be the most reliable way to predict the outcome of some of these games, but it can give you an idea who is more motivated.

Make no mistake about it. Some teams are at a critical point in their seasons. And that provides a lot of motivation.

Meanwhile, other teams have just about thrown in the towel. Nothing official, you understand. But we're at the midway point in the season, and many teams are beginning to show where they are mentally. Some are focusing on the idea of playing in January, while players for other teams are already planning where they'll be playing golf.
  • Seattle (2–4) at Dallas (4–2) — Two teams going in opposite directions. The Cowboys should take care of business against the Seahawks while hoping the Eagles can top the Giants.

  • St. Louis (0–7) at Detroit (1–5) — It is hard to imagine a bigger "who cares?" game than this one. I'll take St. Louis. No particular reason except that I think the Rams are slightly better than the Lions. Which isn't saying much.

  • Miami (2–4) at New York Jets (4–3) — The Jets are a 3½–point favorite at home. That isn't a resounding endorsement. I'll pick the Dolphins.

  • San Francisco (3–3) at Indianapolis (6–0) — I still think the 49ers are contenders, but they're no match for the Colts.

  • Cleveland (1–6) at Chicago (3–3) — I think the Browns are one of those teams that have checked out. And the Bears are still entertaining thoughts of playing in January. I think the Bears will win.

  • Denver (6–0) at Baltimore (3–3) — With Denver, I feel like I'm waiting for the second shoe to drop. I think the Ravens are straddling the fence, and this weekend can either give them some momentum for the stretch run or tip them over into the offseason mentality. I'll take the Ravens.

  • Houston (4–3) at Buffalo (3–4) — For a November Sunday in Buffalo, I don't think this Sunday will be too bad for a visiting team that is accustomed to Texas weather — partly sunny and 47°. I'll take Houston.

  • New York Giants (5–2) at Philadelphia (4–2) — The Eagles are catching the Giants at a time when Eli Manning's mobility is in doubt. I'll take the Eagles, which should set the stage for a memorable rematch in New York in December.

  • Jacksonville (3–3) at Tennessee (0–6) — It defies belief that Tennessee is a 3–point favorite in this game. I'll take the Jaguars.

  • Oakland (2–5) at San Diego (3–3) — When was the last time you saw a 17–point spread in the NFL? That long? The Chargers can probably cover it, too, but I'm not sure if that's because they're so good — or because the Raiders are so bad.

  • Minnesota (6–1) at Green Bay (4–2) — Brett Favre returns to Green Bay. If he wins, the Vikings will hold a 2½–game advantage over the Packers about midway through the schedule. But if Green Bay wins, the Packers are back in the race. The stakes are higher for the Packers. Will they respond? I think they will.

  • Carolina (2–4) at Arizona (4–2) — Arizona is favored by nine points. I think the Cardinals will win by more than that.
  • Atlanta (4–2) at New Orleans (6–0) — I think the Saints will remain unbeaten (now, there is a sentence I never thought I would write). I'm just not convinced they're 10 points better than the Falcons.
Last week: 10–3.

Season: 73–30.

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