In what has been consistently labeled the worst division in the NFL, the NFC North has two intriguing intra-divisional match-ups this weekend.
And the visiting teams will appear to be right at home.
Let’s start off with the Minnesota Vikings visiting the Detroit Lions. Vikes head coach Mike Tice has a career coaching record of 29-31. Of those 29 victories, SEVEN have come against the Lions. In fact, since Ford Field opened in 2002, Tice and the Vikings are 3-0 there. The Lions are in a desperate state, having just fired coach Steve Mariucci and also being saddled with choosing between Jeff Garcia and Joey Harrington at quarterback. You either go with the savvy veteran (Garcia) who’s slow and inaccurate or the up-and-comer (Harrington) who’s slow and inaccurate.
One of the oldest rivalries in the NFL is the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. The Pack will be traveling to Soldier Field in Chicago where they are 11-1 in the Brett Favre era (not including the Packers victory in Champaign, IL in 2002). Since 1992, the Packers have employed one quarterback in this rivalry. On the other hand, the Bears have plodded out the likes of Jim Harbaugh, Erik Kramer, Steve Stenstrom, Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Chris Chandler, Kordell Stewart and now Kyle Orton. However, for the first time since 2001 it is the Bears who have the better record at the time of this contest. Nonetheless, the Packers prevailed in that game like they have 12 of the last 13 match-ups in the state of Illinois.
Recent history shows the Lions and Bears having been gracious hosts to this weeks’ opponents. Look for the visitors in both games to cover.
I rebounded last week with a 10-5-1 record against the point spread, bringing my running total to 21-24-1.
While I’m feeling confident about getting to the .500 mark this week, please be advised that the following picks against the point spread are strictly satirical.
Bills (+4) at Dolphins: I heard that LB Zach Thomas of the Dolphins wants to play in this game with a torn labrum. Here I thought I was tough drafting this column with a blister on one of my fingers.
Bengals (+3) at Steelers: In preparation to defend Bengals WR Chad Johnson, the Steelers are viewing the movie scene where James Bond shocks Jaws via his metal teeth.
Texans (+8 ½) at Ravens: Bold prediction of the week: Neither team will score in double digits.
Titans (+15) at Colts: Bold prediction of the week, II: Colts will cover the point spread---WITHIN THE FIRST QUARTER!
Jaguars (-3) at Browns: Jags QB Byron Leftwich requested to play this week with his broken ankle by invoking the Casey Martin ruling.
Cowboys (+3) at Giants: Last Sunday, Giants punter Jeff Feagles set a new NFL record by appearing in his 283rd consecutive game, breaking the previous record set by Defensive lineman Jim Marshall. That’s the equivalent of a NASCAR pit crew worker breaking a “consecutive races” record set by a driver.
Packers (+7) at Bears: Aside to Brett Favre (19 TDs, 19 INTs): your team is wearing WHITE this week!
Vikings (-2) at Lions: If Jeff Garcia is the answer for the Lions, I don’t want to know the question.
Falcons (+3) at Panthers: After a third consecutive week of throwing 2 touchdown passes, Falcons QB Michael Vick now wants his game uniform placed in the Smithsonian museum.
Buccaneers (-3) at Saints: To heighten interest in this match-up, there will be a “sneer contest” after the game between coaches Jon Gruden and Jim Haslett.
Cardinals (-3) at 49ers: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Reggie Bush bowl!
Redskins (-3) at Rams: To perpetuate the pretentiousness of Ivy League grads, the Rams PA announcer will introduce their QB (and Harvard alum) as “Mr. Ryan J. Fitzpatrick”.
Jets (+10) at Patriots: The Patriots can become the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing record. I’m behind you all the way, guys!!
Broncos (-1) at Chiefs: This game features an intriguing match-up at quarterback. Jake Plummer and Trent Green are two of the few QBs who have not been rumored to have dated Tara Reid.
Raiders (+11) at Chargers: Injury listing of the week: Questionable – WR Randy Moss (pelvic/groin/ribs/effort).
Seahawks (-4) at Eagles: Hey, look at it this way Eagles fans. Nine straight wins and you’re Super Bowl champs!!