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Thursday, October 9, 2008
Week 6 Pigskin Pick 'em/Eliminator preview

By AJ Mass
ESPN.com

Well that was a little bit better. Week 5 was a vast improvement over Week 4, especially against the spread, where I narrowly missed out on a 10-win week when Reggie Bush tripped over his own feet thus preventing the Saints from running away with Monday Night's game against the Vikings. Still I'll take a return to being better than .500 as my birthday present. That's right gang, I celebrated a birthday this past week, and while I'm not going to reveal my age, let's just say I'm past my prime. (Meaning, of course, that my age was a prime number for the past 365 days, and now, well, I'm past that.) But of course, I'm not alone in getting older. In fact, there are many people far more famous than yours truly who earned themselves another tree ring the same day that I did. So I thought it only fitting that I help them celebrate by using my fellow Libras as inspiration to help weigh my options for Week 6. Here we go:

Tale of the Tape
Week 5, Straight Up:6-8 (Overall: 40-34)
Week 5, Versus the Spread:9-5 (Overall: 38-36)

Sunday, October 12

Chicago at Atlanta (+2)

Bob Geldof formed Band Aid in 1984 and recorded "Do They Know It's Christmas" to raise money for charity. Perhaps that served as inspiration for the Bears, who decided to record "Super Bowl Shuffle" the following year. Maybe not, but we still pick the Bears to be inspired enough to stop Michael Turner and Roddy White.

Prediction: Bears by 3

Carolina at Tampa Bay (-2)

Guy Pearce starred in "Memento," a movie in which his character suffers from a form of amnesia and can't remember what just happened to him. Sounds a lot like the quarterback situation in Tampa Bay, where Brian Griese is … no wait, Jeff Garcia is … no Luke McCown … no, wait it's Bri … Je … Forget it! We're picking Carolina.

Prediction: Panthers by 2

St. Louis at Washington (-13)

Kate Winslet won the hearts of America as Rose in the film "Titanic," which featured a song that kind of got on everyone's nerves after a while. (Or at least its singer did.) "Near … Far … Wherever they are … you know the Rams losing streak will go on!"

Prediction: Redskins by 29

Miami at Houston (-3)

Steve Miller had a big hit with his song "Abracadabra," and its accompanying music video with a magical theme. Speaking of which, some folks think the "trick" plays the Dolphins and Ronnie Brown have been utilizing are the only reason they've been winning. That's not true, but if Houston believes that to be the case, then they're the ones who are going to end up as the Joker.

Prediction: Dolphins by 9

Baltimore at Indianapolis (-4)

Daniel Baldwin is greatly overshadowed by his other, more successful brothers, Alec, Steven and even to some degree, Billy. While Peyton Manning has been the Alec of his family for some time now, it's clear that Eli is quickly garnering a lot of rave reviews of his own. But none of that really matters this week. No, Ray Lewis is what matters.

Prediction: Ravens by 4

Detroit at Minnesota (-13)

Donald Pleasance was not only Bond villain Blofeld, the inspiration for Dr. Evil, but also was in "Halloween" with the evil Mike Myers. Last week in New Orleans, it looked like someone stole Adrian Peterson's mojo. This week, against the Lions? Yeaaaaaah, baby!

Prediction: Vikings by 19

Oakland at New Orleans (-7)

Robert Goddard is considered one of the fathers of modern rocketry. If there's one thing we've learned from watching Drew Brees so far this season, it's that he is able to launch bombs regardless of what defense he comes up against. Now if the rest of his team could just rise to his lofty level of performance, we just might have something.

Prediction: Saints by 11

Bengals at Jets (-5)

Sadly, it's not for his role in "Grease" or his spot on "Taxi" that Jeff Conaway will be remembered. No, it will be his televised stint in rehab with Dr. Drew that will likely ring a bell with most of today's youth. You know, the same youths who are going to make you feel old a few years from now by referring to Brett Favre as "that old guy who wins for the Jets."

Prediction: Jets by 10

Jacksonville at Denver (-3)

Josie Bissett was part of the original cast of "Melrose Place," a show about an apartment complex with a rotating cast of characters moving in and out over the course of seven seasons. It's kind of reminiscent of the soap opera in Denver, with any number of running backs taking center stage during any given contest. Luckily for Denver fans, it's a proven formula for success.

Prediction: Broncos by 8

Dallas at Arizona (+5)

Barry Switzer was 45-26 as the head coach of the Cowboys and led them to victory in Super Bowl XXX over the Pittsburgh Steelers 2717. I was leaning toward going with the Cardinals in an upset this week, but Jerry Jones came up to me on the sidelines and politely asked me to change my mind.

Prediction: Cowboys by 1

Philadelphia at San Francisco (+5)

Harold Faltermeyer composed "Axel F," the theme from "Beverly Hills Cop," a movie about a Midwestern cop who goes to California to stop the bad guys and triumphs brilliantly. Donovan McNabb, a Midwestern boy, now heads out to California to get the job done. We think he has a happy Hollywood-style ending as well (as long as he doesn't fall for the banana in the tailpipe trick.)

Prediction: Eagles by 6

Green Bay at Seattle (-2)

Vaclav Havel is a famous Czech playwright who later became the country's president. A large theme in his work is the absurdism of conforming to the rules of the majority. Aaron Rodgers has done well so far in forming his own identity within this already established system in Green Bay, and while he's getting his share of bumps and bruises, he's also getting his share of positive results.

Prediction: Packers by 9

New England at San Diego (-6)

Chester A. Arthur became president when James Garfield died in office, and actually died himself shortly after leaving the position. Matt Cassel only became quarterback because Tom Brady got injured. He's not likely to have a long life in the NFL once 2008 is over, either.

Prediction: Chargers by 6

Monday, October 13

Giants at Cleveland (+7)

Clive Barker is a "master of horror" and his work is often punctuated by gory, bloody acts of violence. This is especially apropos for this game, because we envision this one being a complete and utter massacre.

Prediction: Giants by 24

Eliminator

The ESPN Eliminator requires that you make one and only one pick each week. You win and you live to pick again. You lose and it's all over. In Week 5, we earned 14 out of a possible 15 points for the week, with only those pesky rascals from New Orleans failing to come through for us. Thanks a lot, Martin Gramatica! That's raises our success ratio to just less than 75 percent overall (56 of 75) for the season. This week we're not overly confident with any game for our DEFCON 5 selection. We've already used the Giants for this entry, and quite frankly, normally I'd avoid taking a road team on Monday Night Football. Although we think the Redskins will win and win big, the coaching change in St. Louis, along with a bye week and the return of Marc Bulger under center all make me a tad nervous. It just seems too easy … and that's the kind of game that usually burns you. Wouldn't you agree, all of you who selected New England over Miami in Week 3? But, since there's nothing else jumping out at me too strongly, I'll go with Jason Campbell and company and hope everything goes as expected. Here are all of our Week 6 selections:

DEFCON 5:Redskins
DEFCON 4:Giants
DEFCON 3: Jets
DEFCON 2: Packers
DEFCON 1: Vikings

Good luck to all of you, and if you happen to see Nicky Hilton, Parminder Nagra or Teresa Heinz-Kerry (hey, it could happen, her stadium is on a bye this week) be sure to wish them a happy belated birthday, too.

AJ Mass is a fantasy football, baseball and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.