There can be no doubt that I have established some kind of mystic bond with the Ravens that allows me to predict with amazing accuracy what they are going to do from week to week.
Did anybody else say last week that Steve McNair and the Ravens would "carve up" the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome? Is anybody else 6-1 against the spread picking games involving our beloved local NFL franchise?
It's almost eerie how I know what's going to happen before it does, unless you count the World Series and my performance against the spread in the other 13 NFL games last week.
I'm not running away from my record, though that's a popular thing to do in an election year. I went 5-9 against the spread last week (including the Ravens game) and appear to be - to use the vernacular of the statistics business - regressing toward the mean. My overall record remains positive, but my aura of infallibility clearly has been punctured.
That's why Week 9 is so important. I need to shore up my season record and continue to dazzle you with my Ravens intellect, but the Bengals game presents a particular challenge to my objectivity.
Carson Palmer is one of the best quarterbacks in the game and he's a USC guy, which is tough for this Trojans fan to overlook, but I'm guessing that Ravens defensive guru Rex Ryan will close a couple of holes in the secondary and the Ravens will enjoy another uplifting afternoon.
Bengals at Ravens (-3): The oddsmakers are treating this game like it's a tossup, if you figure that the home-field advantage is worth about a field goal. The Ravens will win by 10 and Samari Rolle will gain a small measure of redemption after a rocky few weeks. Ravens.
Cowboys (-3) at Redskins: The Redskins were undefeated last week, which should boost their flagging self-esteem. The Cowboys are suddenly playing with a lot of confidence behind new starting quarterback Tony Romo, but I'm going counterintuitive on this one. The 'Skins can't be this bad, can they? Redskins.
Chiefs at Rams (-2): Chiefs quarterback Trent Green is getting close, but the Rams will jump out fast and hold on. This is largely a home-field play, since both teams move the ball and both let their opponents move it, too. Rams.
Titans at Jaguars (-9 1/2 ): The big spread has been coming in all year, except when I'm on it. The Jags should be able to stifle Vince Young and the underproductive Titans attack, so I'll go against my better judgment and give a bucketful of points. Jaguars.
Texans at Giants (-13): If I was actually going to bet - and I'm not - I would hide under the bed when this action came my way. It's got sucker spread written all over it. The Texans had a better chance at the Alamo, but I know I'm going to regret this. Giants.
Packers at Bills (-3): This is one of my patented pendulum plays. The Packers are playing over their heads and the Bills have been unable to do much of anything right. The Bills will make it look easy for a change. Bills.
Saints (-1) at Buccaneers: The Ravens let the air out of the Saints last week, and I think it's going to be tough for them to get reinflated on the road. It's possible they weren't that good to begin with. Bucs.
Falcons (-5 1/2 ) at Lions: The Lions are so bad that their fans are starting to pine for the Matt Millen era. On the brighter side, at least they won't have to listen to the Tigers brag about their World Series title all winter. Falcons.
Dolphins at Bears (-13 1/2 ): The Bears are on such a roll that they've already asked Steve Bartman not to attend the Super Bowl. Bears.
Vikings (-5) at 49ers: The 49ers are on pace to give up 537 points this season, or an average of 33 a game. That would seem to argue for a bigger point spread, but the Vikings are coming off a short week and aren't exactly a touchdown machine. 49ers.
Browns at Chargers (-12 1/2 ): Believe it or not, the Browns could cause some problems for the high-scoring Bolts offense, but not enough to stay in the game for more than a half. Chargers.
Broncos at Steelers (-3): The Steelers have that wounded animal look about them ... or maybe that's just the way Ben Roethlisberger is going to look from now on. Either way, the defending champs are going to get off the mat today. Steelers.
Colts at Patriots (-3): Pats coach Bill Belichick is a master at preparing for high-powered opponents, but I don't think he'll be able to stop Peyton Manning this time. Colts win outright. Colts.
Raiders at Seahawks (-7): The Raiders have reached their victory quota (two) for this year and Halloween's over, so it's time for their fans to take the Viking costumes back to the party store and face reality. Seahawks.
As always, these picks are for entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as an encouragement to wager, especially now that my overall record (58-51-5, .532) has slipped dangerously close to coin-flip country.
The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.