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NFL Weekly Picks - Week 10
By Bob Cunningham
November 6, 2003
 
STRAIGHT-UP
Last Week -- 5-9 (36%)
Overall -- 71-59 (55%)
AGAINST THE SPREAD
Last Week -- 7-7 (50%)
Overall -- 59-67-4 (47%)
PREMIUM PICKS*
Last Week -- 1-0
Overall -- 8-6 (57%)

See, I knew I'd jinx myself. I'm not superstitious... but I knew it, all the same.

The lesson learned is to pick more upsets... and 'dogs. The Dogs are having their day, it seems, every weekend.

PREVIEW - WEEK 10 (Nov. 9-10)

MIAMI at TENNESSEE Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Titans favored by 5

Records: Dolphins 5-3 (5-3 ATS); Titans 6-2 (6-2 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Dolphins have won five in a row in this series, the last a 31-23 win at Tennessee in 2001. Miami enters this game unbeaten on the road this season. The Titans are undefeated at home.

Game Summary: It will be interesting to see how Miami bounces back after its loss at home to Indy last week. I'm being accused these days of being a Dolphins fan (perish that thought), but I do like teams with great defense and good rushing attacks. Tennessee has been playing well, and has had an extra week to prepare -- two sound reasons to pick the Titans here. But I'm not. There have been many instances where talented teams come off their bye week flat. Miami's recent dominance of this series, for whatever reason you care to fill in, continues.

Prediction: DOLPHINS, 20-17

Dolphins:
Back to basics -- you have to play RB Ricky Williams. As for either of QBs Jay Fiedler or Brian Griese, it's probable that you have a better option. WR Chris Chambers and TE Randy McMichael are solid plays. And I like K Olindo Mare this week as well. The defense is a given, even against Steve McNair and company.

Titans:
It's not a favorable matchup but McNair is a play. WR Derrick Mason has been feast or famine, but he's due to come up big. Bench RB Eddie George IF you have a viable alternative.

Dolphins:
QB Jay Fiedler (ques)
WR Oronde Gadsden (injured reserve)

Titans:
WR Drew Bennett (out)
DE Jevon Kearse (ques)
DB Samari Rolle (out)

HOUSTON at CINCINNATI Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Bengals favored by 5

Records: Texans 3-5 (3-5 ATS), Bengals 3-5 (5-3 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Bengals won the only previous meeting, 38-3, last year at Houston.

Game Summary: The one potential advantage to being the losingest franchise in football over the last decade or so is that one setback isn't a shock to the system. The Bengals fell at Arizona last week despite being favored, but it shouldn't set their trek toward significant improvement back that much. Houston is improving, too, but sometimes teams just don't match-up well against certain other teams.

Prediction: BENGALS, 24-13

Texans:
RB Domanick Davis remains a solid play, and TE Billy Miller is excellent in leagues with TEs as separate category. I'd pass on the rest, except in the largest leagues.

Bengals:
QB Jon Kitna might have a big day, which means so might WR Chad Johnson. Other receivers are less reliable. RB Corey Dillon will get the start, but play at your own risk. The Bengals defense is solid.

Texans:
QB David Carr (prob)

Bengals:
RB Corey Dillon (prob)
TE Reggie Kelly (ques)

CLEVELAND at KANSAS CITY Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Chiefs favored by 10

Records: Browns 3-5 (3-5 ATS), Chiefs 8-0 (7-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: These two have met only three times in the last 10 years, with KC winning two including last year's thrilling 40-39 win at Cleveland.

Game Summary: I smell an upset here... ah, just kidding KC fans. Calm down. Remember the game last season when the player took off his helmet on the field and got a personal foul penalty that essentially gave the game away? This was it. But don't worry, Browns fans. Won't happen again. This game won't be anywhere near that close.

Prediction: CHIEFS, 31-14

Browns:
Without RB William Green, the Browns are hurting. I can't recommend James Jackson. The WRs continue to cancel themselves out. Kelly Holcomb gets the start at QB, but I suggest avoiding the whole lot.

Chiefs:
QB Trent Green, RB Priest Holmes, TE Tony Gonzalez, the special teams -- play 'em all, every week. Opt for WRs only if you can figure out who's going to get the balls each week.

Browns:
QB Tim Couch (prob)
RB William Green (out, suspended)
TE Aaron Shea (out)

Chiefs:
WR Marc Boerigter (ques)

ARIZONA at PITTSBURGH Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Steelers favored by 7 1/2

Records: Cardinals 3-5 (3-5 ATS), Steelers 2-6 (3-5 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Cardinals are 0-3 on the road, straight-up and ATS.

Game Summary: I'm hard-headed. I keep saying the Steelers are better than their record, and they keep getting whupped. Well, not this week, my friends. If Pittsburgh doesn't put a grade-A hurtin' on the visiting Cardinals, coach Bill Cowher will grimace so fiercely he might actually he swallow his own lips. Talk about a tough interview if that happens...

Prediction: STEELERS, 30-10 (*premium pick)

Cardinals:
QB Jeff Blake is a decent sleeper play, if the Cards get behind as I suspect. Rookie WRs Boldin and Johnson remain solid. RB Marcel Shipp won't come up big as he has the last two weeks, but he's worth a look.

Steelers:
QB Tommy Maddox hasn't played well, but he's due to put up some numbers here. His two WR stars, Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress, are go's. So is RB Jerome Bettis, and the D/ST.

Cardinals:
RB Emmitt Smith (ques)
WR Jason McAddley (ques)
K Bill Gramatica (ques)

Steelers:
TE Jay Riemersma (ques)

INDIANAPOLIS at JACKSONVILLE Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Colts favored by 6

Records: Colts 7-1 (6-2 ATS); Jaguars 1-7 (2-6 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Colts have never lost to Jacksonville in five meetings, but the Jaguars have covered two of the last three ATS.

Game Summary: Indy took care of business in the first meeting this season, 23-13. The biggest challenge for the Colts will be getting up for this game. While they're clearly the superior team, Indy could be flat after the big emotional win at Miami last week. Then again, we're probably splitting hairs. Colts win again.

Prediction: COLTS, 31-16

Colts:
RB Edgerrin James looked fit last week -- play him along with automatics Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. I like WR Reggie Wayne and TE Marcus Pollard, too, and the Colts defense.

Jaguars:
RB Fred Taylor and WR Jimmy Smith are good as your second RB or third WR, respectively.

Colts:
RB Ricky Williams (ques)
RB James Mungro (ques)
TE Dallas Clark (ques)

Jaguars:
QB Mark Brunell (doubt)
WR Jermaine Lewis (injured reserve)

ATLANTA at NEW YORK GIANTS Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Giants favored by 10 1/2

Records: Falcons 1-7 (1-7 ATS), Giants 4-4(4-4 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Atlanta has covered in each of the last three meetings, and beat the Giants on the road last season, 17-10.

Game Summary: The Falcons have been outscored a combined 59-3 in their last two road games, and have lost seven straight overall, including all ATS. But I have a real hard time laying that many points with the unpredictable Giants. So I won't. And I suggest you don't either.

Prediction: GIANTS, 20-12

Falcons:
There's no one truly worth playing, really. RB TJ Duckett is your best bet.

Giants:
Even the Giants' woeful offensive line should be good enough against Atlanta's banged-up D, so look for a big game from QB Kerry Collins. His three favorite targets are all plays, as is RB Tiki Barber and the defense.

Falcons:
QB Michael Vick (out)
LB Keith Brooking (ques)

Giants:
none

SEATTLE at WASHINGTON Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Seahawks favored by 3

Records: Seahawks 6-2 (5-3 ATS); Redskins 3-5 (2-5-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Redskins have won the last two meetings, both by double-digits including a 14-3 triumph at Seattle last season.

Game Summary: Redskins coach Steve Spurrier is taking a lot of bashing these days, as is his QBs. But I like Washington at home in this game because of my belief that the Redskins will push themselves to come to the aid of their beleaguered "ball coach." (If I keeping picking Seattle to lose, it will eventually).

Prediction: REDSKINS, 23-20

Seahawks:
RB Shaun Alexander is an auto play, and the passing game led by QB Matt Hasselbeck and WR Darrell Jackson are worth considering, as is TE Itula Mili.

Redskins:
It's tough without a top-notch featured back, but the Skins have two WRs in Coles and Rod Gardner worth a look.

Seahawks:
WR Koren Robinson (ques)
DL Chad Eaton (injured reserve)
LB Chad Brown (ques)

Redskins:
QB Patrick Ramsey (prob)
RB Trung Canidate (prob)
RB Ladell Betts (doubt)
RB Chad Morton (ques)
DL Brandon Noble (injured reserve)
DB Fred Smoot (ques)

CHICAGO at DETROIT Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Lions favored by 2

Records: Bears 3-5 (4-4 ATS), Lions 2-6 (4-4 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Bears have won four of the last five meetings, including a 24-16 victory last month at Chicago.

Game Summary: How odd is it that each of the teams come into this clash off a victory? In fact, the Bears have won two straight. Make it three, because the Chicago defense is playing well. Kudos to the Lions for taking advantage of under-whelming Oakland last week, but the Bears are better prepared to continue their winning ways against weaker foes.

Prediction: BEARS, 23-17

Bears:
The running game led by Anthony Thomas is a strong play. I'd avoid the passing game, because of the questionable health of the WRs and TEs.

Lions:
RBs Olandis Gary and Shawn Bryson looked good against Oakland's league-worst run defense. But bench both here. In fact, I'm not thrilled with any of the Lions as fantasy options.

Bears:
QB Kordell Stewart (ques)
WR Marty Booker (prob)

Lions:
RB James Stewart (injured reserve)
WR Charles Rogers (doubt)

TAMPA BAY at CAROLINA Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Buccaneers favored by 3

Records: Buccaneers 4-4 (4-4 ATS), Panthers 6-2 (4-4 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Two of the last three meetings have finished with final scores of 12-9. The Panthers won at Tampa by that tally earlier this season, and the Bucs prevailed at Carolina last season by that score.

Game Summary: Rarely is a road favorite a lock pick for me, but the Bucs are clearly the play here. The defending champs have been excellent on the road this season, have followed each of their four losses with a win, and have put themselves in a must-win situation. The Panthers are a sound team on a slow decline after their fabulous start. Even if RB Stephen Davis runs rampant, the Bucs will find a way.

Prediction: BUCS, 19-13 (*premium pick)

Buccaneers:
RB Michael Pittman should be a good play, especially in yardage leagues. QB Brad Johnson has been solid, but don't WR Keyshawn Johnson to have a big day as he did last week. In fact, Keenan McCardell is probably a better play. Play the defense and K Martin Gramatica.

Panthers:
RB Stephen Davis is the only automatic choice. I'd suggest benching WR Steve Smith, except that he's so hot you probably can't afford to risk it. Play the defense and K John Kasay.

Buccaneers:
RB Mike Alstott (injured reserve)
WR Joe Jurevicius (ques)
DB Brian Kelly (injured reserve)
DB John Lynch (ques)

Panthers:
WR Muhsin Muhammad (prob)
WR Kevin Dyson (ques)
DL Kavika Pittman (out)

MINNESOTA at SAN DIEGO Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Vikings favored by 5 1/2

Records: Chargers 1-7 (2-6 ATS), Vikings 6-2 (6-2 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: None.

Game Summary: The Vikings have yet to lose on the road this season, but it will be interesting to see how the team performs after back-to-back home defeats. San Diego might hang with the Vikings with a large dose of RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and if the passing game can come up some plays down the field. Minnesota's mindset is questionable at this point, but the Chargers just don't have it in them.

Prediction: VIKINGS, 27-20

Vikings:
RB Michael Bennett looked strong in his return Sunday night, but be aware that he's unlikely to start. Play QB Daunte Culpepper and WR Randy Moss, of course. Skip the rest, except for the defense in larger leagues.

Chargers:
Tomlinson might get 40 touches in this one, but you can also WR David Boston to make plays. The QB situation between Drew Brees and Doug Flutie is touch-and-go.

Vikings:
none

Chargers:
WR Eric Parker (out)
WR Reche Caldwell (ques)
TE Stephen Alexander (doubt)

NEW YORK JETS at OAKLAND Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Jets favored by 3

Records: Jets 2-6 (2-5-1 ATS), Raiders 2-6(0-8 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Oakland, as it says above, is 0-8 ATS this season. But, the Raiders have owned this rivalry in recent years, winning three straight and going 2-0-1 ATS.

Game Summary: It looks as though the Raiders will have to go with Rick Mirer at QB. Ugh. So the question is whether the defense can suck it up before the home folks and end the skid. Jets QB Chad Pennington may be primed for a big day... and as much as I'd like to take the Raiders as home 'dogs (how often does that happen?), the QB comparison is just too lopsided.

Prediction: JETS, 24-10

Jets:
Pennington-to-WR Santana Moss hooked up three times last week. Don't expect that again, but you can be comfortable playing the hot hands (yuk yuk). RB Curtis Martin is also a go, as is the Jets defense.

Raiders:
I'm guessing we'll see a ton of RB Charlie Garner, so play him by sheer volume. The WRs are dead for now, although you'll be hard-pressed to keep Jerry Porter on the pine. Rob Johnson has been signed as QB insurance - more ugh.

Jets:
WR Wayne Chrebet (ques)
LB Mo Lewis (ques)

Raiders:
QB Rich Gannon (out)
QB Marques Tuiasosopo (out)

BUFFALO at DALLAS Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Cowboys favored by 4

Records: Bills 4-4 (3-5 ATS), Cowboys 6-2 (6-2 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: None.

Game Summary: It's more of a hunch than anything, but I like Buffalo to get the upset on the road. I still like its personnel better (sorry, I'm not convinced just yet that QB Quincy Carter can come up big consistently) and it has desperation on its side as well. The big question will be protecting QB Drew Bledsoe. If the Bills' line gives him time to throw, you'll see the upset.

Prediction: BILLS, 17-14

Bills:
If my upset pick is to come true, RB Travis Henry will have to come up big. Bledsoe and WR Eric Moulds are always reasonable plays, and I like the Bills defense this week.

Cowboys:
Carter and his trio of top WRs are fine plays, and RB Troy Hambrick is solid in larger leagues. Stick with the hot Dallas D.

Bills:
none

Cowboys:
RB Richie Anderson (ques)

BALTIMORE at ST. LOUIS Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Rams favored by 7

Records: Ravens 5-3 (5-3 ATS), Rams 5-3 (5-2-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: None.

Game Summary: Baltimore has just the type of quality defense that can cause problems for the Rams, even in their cozy dome home. The obvious battle will be the Ravens' run attack against the St. Louis D in a bid to control the clock and keep the Rams' attack off the field. It will work for a while, but the Rams will get a close win because of their improved defense.

Prediction: RAMS, 24-20

Ravens:
RB Jamal Lewis and TE Todd Heap. Forget the rest, including the Ravens D for this week.

Rams:
Regardless of the match-up, you play the key components of the Rams' passing attack. On the ground, go with Marshall Faulk even though it will be his first start in a while. I like the Rams D, too.

Ravens:
none

Rams:
RB Lamar Gordon (ques)
DL Leonard Little (ques)
LB Tommy Polley (doubt)
DB Adam Archuletta (prob)

PHILADELPHIA at GREEN BAY (Monday) Fantasy Take Key Injuries

Line: Packers favored by 4

Records: Eagles 5-3 (4-4 ATS), Packers 4-4 (4-4 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: In the last four meetings at Green Bay (none since 1997), the Packers have won three outright but Philly has covered ATS in three.

Game Summary: If the Eagles offense was operating more efficiently, I might like them here. But the Packers, coming off a huge victory at Minnesota, might be poised to go on a winning streak. It's getting colder now, and you know how tough Brett Favre is to beat at home when you can see your breath. As long as the Pack defense plays close to how it performed at Minnesota, it's a winner.

Prediction: PACKERS, 23-14

Eagles:
There are still no truly reliable offensive starters. The RB situation continues to change around, and the WRs have only one TD catch - none by its best guy, Todd Pinkston. Beware.

Packers:
QB Brett Favre and RB Ahman Green are auto plays, especially at home. WR Donald Driver has been less of a factor lately, but still rates a go if he's your second or third guy. On a hunch, play the defense.

Eagles:
RB Brian Westbrook (out)
DL Hollis Thomas (out)
DB Brian Dawkins (ques)

Packers:
none