First of all, thanks to y'all who've been keeping the banter going on this site in my absence the last few days. We had a few days of rather difficult complications over here at the Shrug Family Ranch, but everybody's okay now, all things considered. This on top of the Zune launch.
But we got our senses of humor back really quickly, thanks in no small part to the new William Shatner game show Show Me the Money on ABC. Still trying to decide if William Shatner boogie-ing down with 12 scantily clad models represents the nadir or our civilization or its last great hope.
Working on a 49ers preview for Sunday morning, and of course I'll be with you all for the open game thread later that afternoon. From Seattle.
In the meantime, here are this week's picks. I'm a little dusty, but hopefully there'll be a good zinger or two. Be gentle with me, 12th Man. You're the only 12th Man I ever loved.
Atlanta at Baltimore -- It has become virtually impossible to determine whether Michael Vick is going to disappoint or save the Falcons on a per-game basis. Or maybe that should be, if he's going to save the Falcons or the Falcons will let him down. I have no idea. As far as the Ravens go, I know very little about their prospects except that Lewis is out, and Baltimore is still my least favorite big city in the U.S. Really, kids, just toss a coin on this one. You can say it was my doing.
Pick: Baltimore, very slightly.
Buffalo at Houston -- David Carr and Andre Johnson: Which one's the smoke and which one's the mirror?
Chicago at N.Y. Jets -- I have no rationale for this upset special at all, aside from the "any given Sunday" BS, plus my catty underestimation of the Jets which they seemed to disprove against the Patriots last week. It was also suggested that I'd been bitten in the keister with "safe" choices over the last few weeks, that maybe I should go on the line with an upset special that makes not even the slightest whiff of sense on paper. I'm taking one for the team this week. However, it's just a doubles-tennis team.
Pick: New York.
Cincinnati at New Orleans -- The Bengals' come-from-way-the-hell-ahead loss to San Diego last week was just nauseating. I got the nail if you got the coffin.
Pick: New Orleans.
Indianapolis at Dallas -- The Colts' struggle with the Bills last week is all the justification I'm using for this pick. That and the constantly postponed inevitability of their losing at least once this year. This is just the kind of game the schizophrenic Cowboys can pull out, to the delirious laughter of the entire world. (Sorry, the proposed "Vanderjagt's revenge" angle to this pick got axed the in editorial phase. Placekickers with revenge motives? That's funny. That's very, very funny.)
Minnesota at Miami -- I read the Vikings were having "problems with their offensive line" lately. Anybody in the Seahawks Commonwealth feel like having a group-snicker? (I hear the Vikings often like to do things as a group. Marine expeditions, for example.)
New England at Green Bay -- I should pick the Packers, but I just can't.
Pick: New England.
Oakland at Kansas City -- Kansas City brings back QB Trent Green against the Raiders, because the Chiefs felt he could use some more simulated game-type situations against a practice squad.
Pick: Kansas City.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland -- I keep forgetting the Browns are in the NFL. Last week's Steelers win was a reminder of how much Ben Roethlisberger can accomplish when he's standing up.
St. Louis at Carolina -- The Rams have lost four straight (twice to the Hawks), and have put up an average of something like 30 points in those games. Wince Central.
Tennessee at Philadelphia -- Let's not and say we did.
Washington at Tampa Bay -- Clinton Portis's season-ending injury now gives the Buccaneers no excuse to lose this. But the Bucs have a way of overcoming that kind of promise.
Pick: Tampa Bay.
Detroit at Arizona -- This game looks so bad, I believe it's being blacked out in the end zone seats at Cardinals Stadium.
Seattle at San Francisco -- The 49ers have won two straight? 404 - File Not Found!
San Diego at Denver -- Hands up, everyone who thought the Chargers would be involved in one of the most pivotal games in the NFL so far this season. Ouch, I just slapped myself. I'm liking the Chargers a lot in this one and can find no reason why they can't win it. But with the startup pistol to my head, I can't go against the home advantage of Mile High, or Coors Stadium, or John Denver Coliseum or whatever they're calling it. I could be very, very wrong about this. The popcorn potential for this game is tantalizing. I think I'll cancel my trip to confession just to see it.
Pick: Denver, barely.
N.Y. Giants at Jacksonville -- I am punishing Jacksonville for blowing it against the Texans twice in the same season. You know what that means, Jaguars:
Pick: New York.
Last week: 10-6.