A guessing game now

TREVOR BUNKE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

I have nothing to say other than my picks have been stinky thus far in 2004, so I'll just get right to this week's, rather than trying to justify last week's.

NY Jets (-3) at Buffalo: The Jets needed a late field goal to beat the Bills 16-14 at home last month and that was after blowing a 13-0 lead. Since then, Buffalo has actually won a couple of games and turned the rushing duties over to RB Willis McGahee to complement its No. 2-ranked defence. The Jets (6-1) are good, but not good enough to be 7-1.

BILLS

Philadelphia (Pick) at Pittsburgh: Game of the week. Philly has gone from being a 11/2 favourite to even odds in the past three days. I usually hedge when Joe Fan moves a line like this, but the 7-0 Eagles have been playing with fire the last couple of weeks -- needing OT to beat the Browns 34-31, then hardly overwhelming the Ravens in a 15-10 victory. Both of those Philly opponents are in the AFC North with the Steelers, who lead the way at 6-1. If Pittsburgh rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger (I swear I didn't have check the spelling of his name, I know it now) can beat the champs, he can beat the Eagles.

STEELERS

Washington (+3.5) at Detroit: A perplexing matchup. The Redskins have the league's top-rated defence, but are only 2-5. The Lions sport the league's worst offence, yet have a 4-3 record -- but only 1-2 at home. So the gut says Detroit wins, but not by much.

REDSKINS

Dallas (-1) at Cincinnati: Talk about two teams with split-personality disorders. But here, I like the way the Bengals played two weeks ago at home vs. Denver. Cincinnati is also 3-0 ATS in the last three matchups at home vs. the Cowboys.

BENGALS

Oakland (+7) at Carolina: Despite all their injuries, the Panthers showed signs of life last week vs. Seattle in a 23-17 loss. This week, it looks like they'll have RB Stephen Davis back. The Raiders are simply dead.

PANTHERS

Arizona (+3) at Miami: The Cardinals have taken the torch from the Lions as the NFL's lousiest road team. With 17 straight losses away from the desert, including last week's humiliation in Buffalo, Arizona is still seven losses away from matching Detroit's mark for futility. But along come the Dolphins, who were absolutely crushed by the Jets on Monday night. If Cards can play a quarter of the game the Jets did against Miami, they'll at least cover the spread; if not score they're first road win in 18 tries.

CARDINALS

Kansas City (-3) at Tampa Bay: The Chiefs can't keep averaging 50 points a game like they have the past two weeks, but against the Bucs, somewhere in the mid-20s will be enough.

CHIEFS

Chicago (+9) at NY Giants: Surely, if the Giants can beat the Vikings by 21 points in Minnesota, they can beat the Bears by more than nine at home.

GIANTS

Seattle (-6.5) at San Francisco: The Seahawks are not pounding opponents the way pre-season pundits said they would, although they whipped San Fran 34-0 earlier this season. The 49ers get QB Tim Rattay back this week, but it likely won't change their fate.

SEAHAWKS

New Orleans (+6.5) at San Diego: The Chargers are a highly motivated team. The same cannot be said of the talented but enigmatic Saints.

CHARGERS

New England (-2) at St. Louis: Now that the Patriots have lost, the pressure to keep winning has disappeared. Unlike the Steelers game, New England will have RB Corey Dillon in the lineup, which should be enough to counter the Rams' quick-strike offence. St. Louis is terribly inconsistent -- as witnessed by its 34-17 loss to the Dolphins -- which is not a good thing vs. the defending champions.

PATRIOTS

Houston (+6.5) at Denver: I don't know about you, but I have a hard time giving up a touchdown to a team that was as thoroughly beaten at home as Denver was vs. Atlanta last week. Texans QB David Carr is the toast of the town in Houston. Broncos QB Jake Plummer is close to being lynched in Denver.

TEXANS

Cleveland (+6) at Baltimore: The Ravens get RB Jamal Lewis back from suspension this week to run over his favourite opponent.

RAVENS

Minnesota (+6) at Indianapolis: The Vikings will be without WR Randy Moss and that might be the difference vs. Indy in what should be the highest-scoring game of the week. I can't see the Colts dropping three straight.

COLTS

Bye Week: Atlanta, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Tennessee.

Last Week: 6-8.

Season: 54-59-3.

Best Bet: Kansas City.

Best Bets: 4-4 after 6.5-point favourite Denver lost 41-28 to Atlanta.

Suicide Pick: NY Giants.

Suicide Picks: 7-1 after San Diego beat Oakland 42-14.


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