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NFL Picks: Games are getting harder to pick

Published 12:17pm Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I’m coming off my worst week of picks in a long time after getting just five of 14 correct last week. That means one of two things, I lost my touch or we’re getting to the part of the season where everyone is fighting to stay relevant and nobody wants to see their season completely die at the halfway point.

The NFL is always unpredictable, but when the Ravens bounce back from two disappointing performances to knock off the defending AFC champs in Pittsburgh and the Broncos show new life in a win at Oakland, it makes these games harder to call.

I’ll try to rebound this week.

Here are the picks:

Oakland at San Diego

The Raiders are not the same team without Darren McFadden. The Chargers, who were a preseason Super Bowl pick by some, now find themselves in a dogfight in the AFC West as all four teams could still win it.

CHARGERS 31, RAIDERS 10

New Orleans at Atlanta

The Saints offense is still explosive, but there’s something that’s not quite there. They don’t have the vertical passing threat they had when they won the Super Bowl (even though it’s mostly the same players) and they don’t run with enough success.

The Falcons could be that team that hits its stride down the stretch and everybody wonders how they ever struggled in the first half of the season.

FALCONS 27, SAINTS 24

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

The Bengals are tied for first place in the AFC North and nobody wants to talk about them. They’re openly laughed at by commentators and rookie QB Andy Dalton gets little respect, despite all of the talk that’s directed about Cam Newton, who plays on a team with a losing record.

I think the Bengals are sick of the lack of respect they’re getting and I think they come to play for this one. Their defense is as good as anyone’s and they’ve avoided turnovers so far.

BENGALS 19, STEELERS 16

St. Louis at Cleveland

The Browns should be able to hold on at home against a one-win dome team.

Buffalo at Dallas

The Bills simply looked lost against the Jets and that was one of their bigger games of the year. The Cowboys didn’t do much better, but at least they hung on to beat Seattle.

COWBOYS 27, BILLS 14

Jacksonville at Indianapolis

This could be the game the Colts finally win. Jacksonville is solid on defense, but it doesn’t score a lot of points and a couple of turnovers in Indy’s favor could make the difference.

I think those turnovers are more likely to go the Jags’ way as I’m not sure Indy even wants to win at this point. After all, Andrew Luck would be a good replacement for Peyton Manning.

JAGUARS 13, COLTS 7

Denver at Kansas City

Everybody talks about Tim Tebow, but the reason the Broncos beat the Raiders is the return of Willis McGahee and Eddie Royal to the lineup. Any time your team puts two playmakers back in the lineup, it’s going to be a boost.

BRONCOS 24, CHIEFS 20

Washington at Miami

A couple of putrid teams headed nowhere. But at least the Dolphins are riding the momentum of their first win.

DOLPHINS 20, REDSKINS 10

Arizona at Philadelphia

Kevin Kolb’s return to Philly isn’t exactly catching headlines. Maybe it’s because he’s not very good at throwing the football.

EAGLES 31, CARDINALS 17

Houston at Tampa Bay

It’s just not Tampa’s year.

TEXANS 27, BUCS 18

Tennessee at Carolina

Cam Newton has been good all year long, but this week, the Panthers finally let the running backs help him out.

PANTHERS 27, TITANS 13

Baltimore at Seattle

The Ravens are coming off an emotional win after they beat Pittsburgh and the Seahawks are coming off the realization that they are paying Tavaris Jackson $4 million dollars this season.

RAVENS 34, SEAHAWKS 10

Detroit at Chicago

The Bears will be more physical at the point of attack and that will be the difference. I don’t like injuries, but Matt Stafford had better not hold on to the ball too long in this one.

BEARS 17, LIONS 13

N.Y. Giants at San Francisco

The 49ers do the basic things to win – they run the ball and they play defense. I don’t think that will take them to the Super Bowl, but it’s leading to dominance in the regular season.

49ERS 20, GIANTS 13

New England at N.Y. Jets

Are the Pats finished as we know them? The defense is falling apart and they probably had Super Bowl flashbacks when losing to Eli Manning and the Giants last week.

But maybe a big game at a division rival’s place is what they need to get them going again.

PATRIOTS 27, JETS 17

Minnesota at Green Bay

Aaron Rodgers is throwing at a more efficient rate than anyone else in NFL history right now. But James Starks, a bruising runner, may be the Vikings’ biggest concern on a cold night in Lambeau Field.

PACKERS 31, VIKINGS 13

Last week: 5-9; Overall: 79-49


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