Last week I picked the Cowboys, and they were a disastrous choice. (Miraculously, I had used them already in my "re-buy" pool and instead was forced to go with the Colts.) But it wasn't just the Cowboys. The Jets lost, too, and the biggest favorite on the board, the Chiefs, won only by the slimmest of margins. While we were spoiled by last year's predictability, this past week illustrated how you quickly you can get to the end game in your pool by picking a team like the Pats or the Colts that not too many others were on. (Had Rian Lindell's field-goal attempt gone through the second time, I would have been down to the final three).
For this week, there are once again no double-digit favorites. But here are the seven most popular choices:
|Team||Opponent||% Picked||Vegas ML*||Vegas Odds|
1. Atlanta Falcons
Vegas sees the Vikings as almost equally likely to win, but I worry about the "pack it in" factor if the going gets tough, which isn't an issue with the Falcons. The Bucs are playing over their heads and due for a correction which I think will come this week. I give the Falcons an 81 percent chance to win this game.
2. Minnesota Vikings
I expect the Vikings to roll at home even without Randy Moss, because the Cardinals quarterback situation is arguably the worst in the league. But the Vikings are nearly drawing dead on the season, and I'm a little concerned with what could happen if they get a couple bad bounces early. I give the Vikings a 77 percent chance to win this game.
3. New York Giants
I don't like taking road teams, especially in Seattle which is one of the most unwelcoming venues in the NFL, but the Giants draw Charlie Whitehurst in his first start, and they're playing well on both sides of the ball. I actually don't like that their rhythm was interrupted by the bye, but I still give them a 73 percent chance to win this game.
4. Green Bay Packers
Given the Packers' injuries and Dallas' talent, this game worries me a little. Of course, the Cowboys might have already given up on the year, but in the event they haven't, they're still dangerous. I give the Packers a 73 percent chance to win this game.
New Orleans Saints: They nearly lost to the Jimmy Clausen-led Panthers in New Orleans a few weeks ago, and they lost at home to the Browns two weeks ago. I'm not ready to take them on the road simply because they beat the Steelers.
New England Patriots: I think the Pats are playing a little over their heads, and the Browns are a bit better than total doormats. This isn't an easy game in Cleveland.
New York Jets: The Lions gave the Giants trouble in New York, the Packers trouble at Lambeau and blew out the Rams at home. This isn't an easy game for the Jets.