Last week: 4-8-1 (ouch)
Overall: 42-51-7 (ouch again)
Six-pack: 18-21-3 (not good)
Six-pack: Cincinnati, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia
Texans at Titans
The difference: Since there's nothing even remotely interesting to say about this game, I will lead this week's picks with a recap of a reader's comment after last week's disaster:
You're the luckiest man on earth. They pay you to pick games wrong and write about them on baltimoresun.com. 3-8 this week. Tight work. I'm taking the opposite of you next week, so choose wisely, and maybe you can stick it to me. I seriously doubt it.
Well, needless to say, my self-confidence is at an all-time low. But on the bright side, at least someone other than my mom reads these picks each week. Things are looking up.
Fantasy nugget: I recently dealt Eli Manning for Tatum Bell in one league and picked up David Carr. I still don't trust him, but the Houston QB is having a phenomenal year. He's completing over 70 percent of his passes and has tossed nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
The pick: Houston (+3)
Jaguars at Eagles
The difference: I stick by the notion that only the Eagles could put up over 500 yards of offense, hold the opposing team to no offensive touchdowns and still lose on a 62-yard field goal. Brutal loss to Tampa Bay last week.
Fantasy nugget: I thought Byron Leftwich would be a solid fantasy option this year, but you can add that to the list of things I've gotten wrong. He played injured last week, but managed just 125 yards in Jacksonville's terrible loss to the Texans. It looks like David Garrard will get the start Sunday.
The pick: Philadelphia (-7)
Falcons at Bengals
The difference: Michael Vick has only played on the road twice this season, and he completed less than 50 percent of his passes in both those games. Meanwhile, did you see what Ben Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch did to the Falcons secondary last week? Look for a big day from Carson Palmer.
Fantasy nugget: Chad Johnson has been a major fantasy disappointment this season, but he's about to get hot. He made a big-time play late in Cincinnati's win over Carolina last week, and he was back to his old self when talking to the media. I think he starts a big second half against Atlanta this week.
The pick: Cincinnati (-3.5)
Buccaneers at Giants
The difference: The key to New York's three-game winning streak has been its pass rush. The Giants had just two sacks in their first three games but have 16 in their past three. They'll win again this week, but Tampa Bay has shown it can keep games close against some pretty good teams.
Fantasy nugget: Did you see what Tiki Barber said about people who are criticizing his decision to possibly retire at the end of the season? He called them idiots and added this about Micahel Irvin, who said Barber is quitting on his team: "That includes the ultimate character guy, facetiously speaking of course, Michael Irvin. Please get a clue on how to be a journalist." Finally! An athlete who says what the fans are thinking! Barber leads the NFL with 647 rushing yards, but has yet to find the end zone.
The pick: Tampa Bay (+9)
49ers at Bears
The difference: How nervous are Rex Grossman fantasy owners right now? His six turnover performance a couple weeks ago vs. Arizona further enforced the notion that he's going to have to play well for a full year before we should start believing.
Fantasy nugget: Thomas Jones didn't play well in Chicago's last game either. He is a good start against a San Francisco defense that has given up nine rushing touchdowns on the season.
The pick: San Francisco (+16)
Cardinals at Packers
The difference: Green Bay has only been a favorite once this year, and its four losses have come to pretty good teams: Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, St. Louis. Arizona is falling apart. They need to set up a special locker room for Matt Leinart so he doesn't become part of the Cardinals' losing history.
Fantasy nugget: That being said, there's nothing like the Packers defense to remedy your passing game. Green Bay's pass defense ranks dead last in the NFL, allowing more than 293 yards per game. Leinart's not a bad play if you need a QB fill-in.
The pick: Green Bay (-4)
Seahawks at Chiefs
The difference: Seneca Wallace vs. Brodie Croyle? Hmm...this matchup looked much better before the season started. Do the defending NFC champions have any fight left without their two best offensive players? I hope so.
Fantasy nugget: Who's been counting on Damon Huard so far this year? He's tossed seven touchdowns and one interception filling in for Trent Green. It's unclear whether he'll start in this one after suffering an injury in practice Thursday.
The pick: Seattle (+6)
Ravens at Saints
The difference: Give credit to Baltimore's defense for not making excuses after Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith lit it up a couple weeks ago. The Ravens have been tremendous against the run this year, and while New Orleans has a balanced offense, it doesn't have a guy like Smith who can just take a game over.
Fantasy nugget: Reggie Bush is the one guy who could emerge as that playmaker in the future. He's been a disappointment as a fantasy running back this season, but there's no question that his presence has opened things up for Drew Brees and the rest of the offense. He has 38 catches on the year.
The pick: Baltimore (+2)
Rams at Chargers
The difference: St. Louis has not been good on the road so far this year. The Rams squeaked out wins against Green Bay and Arizona and lost to San Francisco. Meanwhile, the Chargers are coming off a tough loss to the Chiefs and have scored at least 23 points in every game except the loss to the Ravens.
Fantasy nugget: Marc Bulger threw nine interceptions in eight games last year. He's only thrown one in 2006, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect huge numbers against the league's second-ranked pass defense.
The pick: San Diego (-9.5)
Steelers at Raiders
The difference: I thought Pittsburgh was ready to make a push, but the Steelers came up short against the Falcons last week. What's up with Ben Roethlisberger's luck this season? It's like he was on the cover of Madden and Sports Illustrated at the same time.
Fantasy nugget: Did LaMont Jordan screw any other fantasy owners last week, or am I the only one with a team bad enough to start him? Jordan was active for Oakland's game with the Cardinals and was seen running and stretching on the sidelines, but he never got on the field. Jordan is questionable once again this week.
The pick: Pittsburgh (-9)
Jets at Browns
The difference: Games like these usually prove oddsmakers to be geniuses. The Jets are 4-3, with their only bad loss coming against Jacksonville in week five. Meanwhile, the Browns are 1-5 and haven't won at home yet this season. Yet Cleveland is favored by a point and a half. It's pretty much a lock that the Browns will win by one or two, but I can't pick them.
Fantasy nugget: Jets running back Leon Washington ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns last week and gets to face the league's 29th ranked rush defense. He's a great start this week. Reuben Droughns has been disappointing this season, but the Jets have given up a league-high 12 rushing TDs.
The pick: New York (+1.5)
Colts at Broncos
The difference: Last week for my Monday night pick, I went with the logic of never picking Drew Bledsoe's team in a game you think is going to be close. Even though Jake Plummer has shown he can bring teams back in his career, I'm applying the same logic. Something tells me that Indy will be able to muster at least 21 points in this one, meaning Plummer will have to make a play at some point for Denver.
Fantasy nugget: As I mentioned earlier, I traded for Tatum Bell in one league. He is a great start here against a Colts defense that is giving up 158 yards per game on the ground. I also traded Edgerrin James for Joseph Addai. Addai isn't a great start this week, but after watching him last week against the Redskins, the rookie looks poised to take over the No. 1 spot.
The pick: Indianapolis (+3)
Cowboys at Panthers
The difference: What is with Tony Romo when he's interviewed? Talk about no presence. This guy makes Peyton Manning look like Chad Johnson as far as entertaining quotes are concerned. Romo is the guy that's supposed to take over the Dallas offense and lead the Cowboys to the playoffs? And he gets to face Julius Peppers in his first start? Yikes. Good luck.
Fantasy nugget: Is there another wide receiver that can take over a game like Steve Smith? I say no. The guy just always looks like he wants it more than anyone else on the field. After missing the first two games of the season due to injury, he's been phenomenal, racking up over 100 yards in three of five games.
The pick: Carolina (-5.5)
- New York Jets
- Arizona Cardinals
- Atlanta Falcons
- Steve Smith (wide receiver, born 1985)
- Cleveland Browns
- Dallas Cowboys
- Indianapolis Colts
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Baltimore Ravens
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Chad Johnson
- Peyton Manning
- National Football Conference
- Houston Texans
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Los Angeles Chargers
- San Francisco 49ers
- Seattle Seahawks
- Jacksonville Jaguars