Is this another one we can blame on the lockout? The early-season prime time NFL games have been pretty bad.
Last Sunday night featured the one-win Minnesota Vikings at Chicago, where they lost by 29. On Monday night, the winless Dolphins were aquatic mammals led to the slaughter by the New York Jets.
This week, we get the 0-6 Indianapolis Colts visiting New Orleans on Sunday night, with the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
I am certain I speak for a legion of fans across America when I say simply, "Yuck."
But NBC won't be deterred. Despite the fact that Peyton Manning's only appearance at the Superdome will be in the Colts' coaching box, the network has been hyping Sunday night's prime time affair as "a rematch of Super Bowl XLIII."
Technically, this is correct—the Colts and Saints did in fact meet in Super Bowl XLIII. But without both quarterbacks playing, it would make just about as much sense for CBS to play up the Kansas City-Oakland matchup as a "rematch of the 1969 AFL Championship."
Relevance, people. It's about relevance. Or, in this case, it's about the people in charge of marketing the NFL at NBC falling into the common assumption that the American viewing public is personified by a drooling, semi-conscious pseudo-human creature with a chicken wing in one hand and a beer in the other and a functioning IQ of about eight.
And with that rant taken care of, let's get to the picks:
Houston (+3) at Tennessee
The Titans return from their bye week to get a Texans squad that will once again be without wide receiver Andre Johnson. Houston's lost two in a row to allow Tennessee to take over the lead in the AFC South. Chris Johnson makes sure that lead gets larger. TITANS
Washington (+3) at Carolina
John Beck makes his first start since 2007, when he was a rookie with in Miami, after Rex Grossman threw four picks against the Eagles last week. Mike Shanahan loves John Beck. Of course, he loved Brian Griese and Bubby Brister too. PANTHERS
San Diego (-3) at New York Jets
The Chargers come off their bye against what could be considered their second "real" opponent of the year. The first, New England, hammered San Diego by 14. The Jets are not New England. CHARGERS
Seattle (+3) at Cleveland
The Seahawks will start Charlie Whitehurst. The Browns may not have Peyton Hillis. Cleveland is averaging 3.3 yards per rush and 5.5 yards per passing attempt. Yeah, it might take the Browns eight plays to score a touchdown in an 11-on-zero drill. SEAHAWKS
Denver (+2) at Miami
Tim Tebow at quarterback for the Broncos. The Dolphins honoring the 2008 Florida Gators' national championship squad. Lots of people to cheer on Tebow and the Gators, so much for home-field advantage. BRONCOS
Atlanta (+4) at Detroit
The Falcons are the next team that will have to deal with the NFL's new House of Noise, as opposing offenses have been flagged for 14 false-start penalties in the last two games played at Ford Field. Atlanta struggles to stop wide receivers, which means Calvin Johnson could be primed for a big game. LIONS
Chicago (-1) vs. Tampa Bay at London
So, are the Bucs the team that lost to San Francisco by 45 or the one that beat the Saints last week? As always, reality is somewhere in the middle. BEARS
Kansas City (+4) at Oakland
It might be Carson Palmer at quarterback for the Raiders. It might be Kyle Boller. It could just as well be Kenny Stabler because Oakland is all about the running game, anyway. RAIDERS
Pittsburgh (-4) at Arizona
So, did the Cardinals figure out anything during the bye week? Maybe that they're just not that good. STEELERS
St. Louis (+13) at Dallas
A.J. Feeley will get the start for the Rams. This game feels like one of those that Tony Romo will keep close, just to give Jerry Jones something else to second-guess Jason Garrett about at game's end. RAMS
Green Bay (-10) at Minnesota
The Christian Ponder era officially begins at the Collapsadome, as the Vikings' first-round pick will start at quarterback a week after relieving Donovan McNabb in the blowout at Chicago. The Packers are still pretty banged up across the offensive line, and that means twitchy linemen. VIKINGS
Indianapolis (+14) at New Orleans
There's almost not a line for this one where I wouldn't take the Saints and lay the points. SAINTS
Baltimore (-9) at Jacksonville
Blaine Gabbert is improving slowly. He's progressed to the point where he is just good enough to lose. JAGUARS
Last week: 10-1-2
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