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Week 9 was divine. We had a stellar showing in picking the winners straight up, going 11-3, our best performance of the season so far. And we scored a 9-5 record versus the spread.
I don't know how many of my readers are on Facebook, but many of my friends are, and I've found I now know far too much about what is going on at any given time in their lives. One of my relatives updates her status so frequently, I'm pretty sure I now know her daily schedule better than she does. (By the way, Heidi, don't forget to go to the gym today.) It got me thinking that if I could have such insight into the goings-on of NFL players, I might be able to nab that elusive perfect week of predictions. Luckily, I stumbled across a new Web site, FaceMask. Armed with the status updates I found there, Week 10 is sure to be a success.
Tale of the Tape
Week 9, Straight Up: 11-3 (Overall: 75-55)
Week 9, Versus the Spread: 9-5 (Overall: 66-64)
Denver at Cleveland (-3½)
"Brady Quinn is tired, but it's a good tired." It's never easy to take over an offense, especially on a short week, when you have no prior experience. And yet, Denver's defense has been so bad this year, we still think the positive vibes from the home crowd will carry the Browns to victory. But the expectations on young Quinn probably will rise to an even more unsustainable level.
Prediction: Browns by 4
New Orleans at Atlanta (-½)
"Drew Brees misses London already." The Saints did what they needed to do to get the win overseas and have had a week off to readjust to their normal time zone. But while they were out of the country, Matt Ryan and the Falcons figured out how to be a winning team themselves. Michael Turner and Roddy White get the game balls here.
Prediction: Falcons by 3
Tennessee at Chicago (+3½)
"Kyle Orton is not a happy camper." This was shaping up to be a decent test for the Titans, and then Orton got hurt and Rex Grossman stepped in. Suddenly, we're not nearly as optimistic for the Bears to continue the celebrations in Chicago.
Prediction: Titans by 3
Jacksonville at Detroit (+6½)
"Daunte Culpepper is dusting off the cobwebs." The fact that Culpepper could sign a contract Monday, after having not played in forever, and be handed the starting job in time for Sunday is reason enough to suspect the Lions' 0-8 record is no accident. Add to that an angry Jaguars team, and this can't end well for Detroit and Daunte.
Prediction: Jaguars by 9
Seattle at Miami (-9½)
"Seneca Wallace is getting his dental records ready, just in case." Seattle has had too many injuries this season to mention, and while Miami's defense isn't the most dominant in the league, it does rank 12th in sacks and have the league's sack leader, Joey Porter. This could be another long and unproductive day for the Seahawks.
Prediction: Dolphins by 11
Green Bay at Minnesota (-2½)
"Adrian Peterson can't do it all himself. A little help, people?" Green Bay has a lousy run defense, and AP should be able to rack up the yardage here, but if Gus Frerotte and his gang can't take some of the pressure off by completing a few passes, the team is going to fall a little short.
Prediction: Packers by 3
Buffalo at New England (-3½)
"Matt Cassel dressed as Tom Brady for Halloween." After a few consecutive losses, the Bills are in a free fall and could find themselves in last place in the AFC East by week's end. If Cassel can get Randy Moss and Wes Welker into the mix early and often, he could make people forget he's the team's very distant second choice for quarterback.
Prediction: Patriots by 3
St. Louis at Jets (-8½)
"Steven Jackson promises not to make any more promises. I promise." Jackson couldn't make it to the end of Week 9's game and isn't practicing, even though last week in his personal blog, he told his fans he was feeling just hunky with an extra slice of dory. Without their best offensive weapon operating on all cylinders, the Rams have zero chance.
Prediction: Jets by 19
Baltimore at Houston (-1½)
"Sage Rosenfels is confused. Wasn't he supposed to be off this week?" This is the reschedule of the game postponed by Hurricane Ike in Week 2, but while Rosenfels is more than competent to fill in for Matt Schaub, he's probably going to wish he hadn't after the Ravens' defense is done with him.
Prediction: Ravens by 4
Carolina at Oakland (+9½)
"Justin Fargas is pretty sure he is neither Huggy nor a Bear." With Darren McFadden operating on eight toes, it looks like it's up to Fargas to lead this rushing attack against the Panthers. It's not that Fargas isn't talented, it's just that unless he's prepared to rush for 300 yards and four scores, we don't see the Raiders coming close in this one.
Prediction: Panthers by 15
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh (-3½)
"Byron Leftwich wishes Ben a speedy recovery, but not too speedy." Ben Roethlisberger's right shoulder might force him to sit against the Colts on Sunday, and that could give Leftwich another chance to showcase his abilities so he can get a starting job someplace else in 2009. However, the more Leftwich has to play, the more his weaknesses will be exposed, and while we think he can pull it off in Week 10, going forward, we're not nearly as optimistic.
Prediction: Steelers by 11
Kansas City at San Diego (-15½)
"Herm Edwards has decided that from now on, we play to get through the game so we can go back home." OK, fine, the Chiefs will try to win. But taking the Chiefs to win on the road against a divisional foe that is coming off a bye week and is in a must-win situation? Suicidal.
Prediction: Chargers by 17
Giants at Philadelphia (-2½)
"Brent Celek is an NFL player. Really." The Eagles have been winning games with standout performances by role players like Celek and by throwing touchdown passes to eligible linemen. That might work against lesser opponents, but versus a quality foe like the Giants, you need A-game performances from your A-list players, and Philadelphia has been somewhat lacking in that department so far this season.
Prediction: Giants by 1
San Francisco at Arizona (-9½)
"Shaun Hill hopes his coach won't moon him this week." Change can be a good thing. But as a recently elected top-ranking government official would point out, this is only a chance to make that change. Yes, there's a new coach, and now a new quarterback. But will that be enough to result in a victory against the current division leaders? We say, "No, they can't."
Prediction: Cardinals by 16
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 9, for the third time in a row, we came within one pick of a 5-for-5 week, and once again, it was that darn DEFCON 1 selection that did us in. For shame, Jacksonville. With another 14 points out of a possible 15, we improved to 77 percent for the season. This week, we're going to take the Jaguars off the board as punishment for last week, even though we do think they'll beat the Lions. The uncertainty of Roethlisberger's injuries makes us steer clear of the Steelers, especially against the Colts, although we're still looking at Pittsburgh for the win. That leaves us with only a few remaining eligible options, the best of which, in our eyes, is Miami over the Seneca Seahawks. We're not sure Mr. Wallace will be able to throw for 100 yards against the Dolphins, and NFL teams just aren't going to win with that kind of anemic offense. So, we put our faith in Chad Pennington and hope that, in this Election Week, he doesn't end up "hanging" us out to dry. Here's the full selection rundown:
DEFCON 5: Dolphins
DEFCON 4: Jets
DEFCON 3: Cardinals
DEFCON 2: Chargers
DEFCON 1: Panthers
Good luck to all of you, and be sure to be on the lookout for FaceTious, the new social utility that brings the gullible together in one place, for both networking and hoodwinking purposes.
AJ Mass is a fantasy football, baseball and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.