Blogs > Extra Points

Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Stathead Matt's Week 8 NFL Picks

So, after the "Hard Knocks" preseason, the posturing, the smack talk and LaDainian Tomlinson's tatoo, it was hard to see the New York Jets as anything but overrated. What would it take to back up their preseason boasting? A Super Bowl? A perfect season? It was an impossible task. They painted a target on their backs for opposing teams and the media, and nothing would be good enough.

Now it is Week 8. The Jets are 5-1 coming off a bye and are a sloppy season-opening one point loss from being exactly what they claimed they were throughout the "Hard Knocks" season. At what point do we all begrudgingly acknowledge that the Jets are backing their case as best team in the league?

For some, the denial comes from a morality standpoint. (These guys cannot be the best. Santonio Holmes was pinched for substance abuse. They harassed that female reporter. Edwards had that ridiculous DUI in a city choked with taxi cabs. That is not the team that should finish on top.) The record books do not take likability into account. If they did, the Cowboys and Yankees would not have won their championships in the 90s and 00s.

Right now, the best teams in the NFL all play in the AFC. I have the Jets in the "A" group with Pittsburgh. The "A-" group includes New England and Tennessee. The "B" group is Indianapolis, Baltimore and surprise Kansas City. The sneaky looming "C" group is Miami and San Diego.

Miami is out from a playoff standpoint since all their losses have come to the top teams on this list, but they beat all lesser competition. We are still waiting for their ground game to get going. They have the means to move up.

San Diego has defied the odds by having the top offense and defense in the league yet still stuck at 2-5. The law of averages says they have to turn around and breakout, but the law of the score at the end of the game suggests they are missing that extra something that winners have. They are still not a team to count out.

(3-3) Miami Dolphins at
(2-4) Cincinnati Bengals -2.5

(3-4) Jacksonville Jaguars at
(1-5) Dallas Cowboys -6.5
Backing Jon Kitna? It's a spooky Halloween pick!

(4-3) Washington Redskins at
(1-5) Detroit Lions -2.5

(0-6) Buffalo Bills at
(4-2) Kansas City Chiefs -7.5

(1-5) Carolina Panthers at
(3-4) St. Louis Rams -3.5

(4-3) Green Bay Packers at
(5-1) New York Jets -6.5

(2-5) Denver Broncos at
(1-6) San Francisco 49ers -0.5
The last time the 49ers played abroad, they lost to Arizona in Mexico City in 2005. No NFL team should have an international losing streak.

(5-2) Tennessee Titans at
(2-5) San Diego Chargers -3.5

(4-2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at
(3-3) Arizona Cardinals -3.5

(2-4) Minnesota Vikings at
(5-1) New England Patriots -5.5

(4-2) Seattle Seahawks at
(3-4) Oakland Raiders -2.5

(5-1) Pittsburgh Steelers at
(4-3) New Orleans Saints -0.5

(4-2) Houston Texans at
(4-2) Indianapolis Colts -5.5

Last week: 6-14
Overall: 51-104

Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 World Series a must-watch

Baseball fans rejoice.

The Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants have made it to the World Series, and once the first pitch is thrown on Wednesday night, we will each be able to bear witness to one of the more unique championship series that has happened in our lifetimes. So what if we lost the entire east coast in the two League Championship series and the television outlets are crying over lost revenue, or that neither team has a $100 million payroll — Texas is below $60 million — or that the Yankee lineup and the Phillies rotation will not be seen again this October. I’m here to focus on the decedent positives. Here are the best reasons to love the 2010 World Series:

One reign of futility will end: The last time the Giants won a World Series, 1954, Willie Mays was competing with Duke Snyder and Joe DiMaggio for the title of “best center fielder in New York” — DiMaggio won the title by marrying Marilyn Monroe that year. Teams didn’t even play major league baseball further west than Chicago.

Rangers fans have not waited as long for a championship only because they haven’t even existed for that long. They began their hapless lives as the Washington Senators. First in war. First in peace. Last in the American League. Those Senators.
They weren’t even the cool ones that won a World Series in 1924 or were managed by Ted Williams for a few seasons. Those Senators became the Minnesota Twins.
One of these two clubs has to win the World Series, and it will be nothing like any of their fans who are not collecting social security has ever seen.

Both teams are likeable underdogs: On top of everything I said above, there are more recent debacles each franchise has had to overcome.

When I say “San Francisco Giants”, I am willing to bet Allen Iverson’s Turkish salary that the first image that comes to your mind is still the maligned Barry Bonds. He became the face of the steroid era and did more damage to the image of the sport than Tiger Woods would have if he played for the Mets.

That subconcious image should be of Kung Fu Panda’s doughy frame jovially manning third with an equally doughy Juan Uribe literally filling the gap at short, or Brian Wilson’s playoff beard, which should count against their playoff roster, or Lincecum’s contortionist routine to deliver in the high 90’s despite being listed under six feet tall. That’s a fun team to pull for.

They will still not draw as many cheers from neutral fans, because the Rangers have a World Series story that if it were turned into a movie, you would scoff at it for its unbelievability (editors note: that last word does not exist). It is every classic underdog story rolled into one.

Before the season started, manager Ron Washington resigned from the club and admitted that he had been using cocaine, only management would not let him quit. (Character in need of redemption)

One of the players he manages, Josh Hamilton, was a promising young ballplayer with limitless potential until he fell into drugs that included heroin. Hamilton cleaned up and has redeemed himself by realizing his potential. (Feel-good character and quazi-role model)

The Rangers were bankrupt under owner Tom Hicks and had to be sold. (Team at its low point)

The commissioner continued to let them spend money on key free agents even though all their income came from revenue sharing. (Benevolent leader showing trust in the underdog)

One of the principle investors was none other than Nolan Ryan, the greatest baseball player ever to pitch in Texas. (Hero returning to save the club)

The team traded for the best available player in the game when a better offer was made by another team. (Luck, perhaps divine)

That same team that made the better offer, the Yankees — the reigning World Series champions with four times the payroll who used to routinely beat Texas in the playoffs the last time they were any good — became the last obstacle the Rangers had face in order to get to the World Series and a chance to be the first champions in franchise history. (Overcoming the odds to defeat the antagonist)

The entire season plays out over-the-top.

Even if the Giants win, the average viewer will still have to feel good for the Rangers for getting this far, and cheer the team that saved itself from collapsing simply by playing their hearts out.

Like many here in New York, I was rooting for the Yankees as a loyal fan. But now that they are out I see no reason to abandon my high level of interest in the postseason. I want to see a fan base celebrate for the first time in most of their lives. I want to see Lee duel Lincecum. I want to see if this Rangers movie gets the Mighty Ducks treatment or the Rocky treatment. At least, as baseball fans, we are all going to win.

— Matthew Donato

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stathead Matt's greatest Fantasy Basketball setup plus Week 7 Picks

If you came here just looking for my Week 7 picks, they can be found at the bottom of the post.

There are some fans out there who are still on the fence about playing fantasy basketball, and that is understandable. It lacks the popularity of fantasy football and they intricate statistics of fantasy baseball. Many do not find the appeal. Allow me to present the appeal to you: realism. Thanks to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, we can build a fantasy sports league that can more closely resemble the strategy of a real general manager than we can for any other sport. Just use the CBA as a guide and incorporate the fantasy tools at your disposal to create the league. Here is how it plays out.

Basic Settings: The league has 10 teams, consisting of 12 players. 9 can start in one day while 3 players will sit on the bench. There are 2 slots for injured players. Therefore only the top 120-140 players in the NBA will be used, or about the top 1/3 of the league. This allows for decent players to still be available on the wire, while getting us pretty close to a real NBA roster (15 players, about 10 of which play in a game.)

Scoring: One word: categories. In this league there are 10 scoring categories: PTS, STL, REB, FG%, 3P%, BLK, AST, FT% and TO. Winning a category requires having the highest number in each category with the exception of TO where you want the lesser number. Since there are 10 categories there is the obvious risk of a tie. You want to make sure your team is set up so that it can compete in each of these categories, or can absolutely dominate in more than half of them...otherwise you will lose a lot. In non-category fantasy basketball, one could theoretically fill their team with shoot-first scorers. That would be fine for the fantasy team, but would never work in real life. However...

Ties: In the case of a tie, the tiebreaker will be the PTS category. Basically, basketball breaks down to who scores the most points, and ties are for Europeans and fancy dinner parties.

Draft: This is where it gets good and the strategy comes in. There is a salary cap of $200 or about $16.67 per player. Each team will take turns nominating a player to be bid on. One of the reasons I made the rosters 12 players instead of 15 is to cut down on draft time, but 120 players will be bid upon. This will be slow at first with the superstar players, Durant, Kobe, Miami, and go pretty quickly in the end when most teams have run out of money. There are many draft strategies. One is spend on the big time players and try to grab a bunch of nobodies at the end, (The Heat Method), and the other is that of cap management and saving until the end to grab whoever you want, (The Spurs Method). Either way, you only have as much to spend as you have cap space, which leads me to...

Cap Space: There is an initial soft cap set at $200 for each team. For every dollar you go over the cap, up to $30, you will be penalized in cap space the following season. If you spend $210 in salary this season, the following season you will have a hard cap of $190 meaning you will not be allowed to go over that amount. This will go as high as $230 to $170. If you win the league though, you will not be penalized for going over the cap during your championship season and will have a $200 soft cap the following year like everyone else. If you win without going over the cap, you will be granted a $215 cap for the following season that is not penalized until the owner goes above the $215 limit. Therefore, this season my league's winner from last season, Justin, has $215 in cap space. He will hit the luxury tax only at the $216 mark. His soft cap limit still stands at $230 and does not jump up to $245 because he started at $215. Second place gets the same benefits only close to halved. Either a $208 non-taxable cap or no penalty on up to $15 they went over the cap the previous season.

Keeper Contracts: At the end of an unsigned player’s first season with your team, you are allowed to sign them to a contract of your choosing. You can keep as many as you want so long as you stay under the cap. The contract may be for as long as you want, but it will be $8, or half the value of the average player, more than you paid for them the year before, continuously. If you drafted a player for $10 and sign him at the end of the season to a 4-year deal, the next year he will be $18, then $26, then $34, and finally $42 in his final season of the contract. After their keeper contract ends, the player automatically becomes a free agent to be bid on in the next season’s auction draft. Even if a player is traded to a new team, their contract is still in play like in real salary cap shenanigans. The player will always opt for the free agent market after their contract ends (the auction draft). These contracts can cripple a team that has signed expensive players only to fall out of their cap bracket, because you have to pay your contracts. Someone who signed Gilbert Arenas to a multi-year deal has him on the books throughout the length of the deal, even if he isn’t playing. Even if you have less than 12 players signed and are at the cap limit, you cannot pick up any more. So what do you do when you are pressed by a bad contract...

Releasing players: You cannot drop a player under contract, but you can release them. A bad contract is your mess, and it will cost you to clean it up. You can release a player under contract for half the amount that is owed to the player that year and each year he was signed for. If the $10 player from before has bad knees and is logging 12 minutes a game in year 3, he can be bought out and released for $17 in year 3 and $21 in year 4. Sure it still hurts the team’s cap, but not as much as before. The released player goes back into the waiver pool and can be picked up and purchased by anyone. Wait, how would waiver even work in this system...

Waiver wire: Since your team is locked into a cap for the season after the draft, with only trades being able to change your cap space, waiver wire pickups become tricky. We don’t want a team’s salary moving from frequent waiver wire moves, so there is only one option. Whomever you pick up off the waiver wire takes on the exact salary as the player you dropped back into the waiver wire. So a non-keeper being dropped to the wire at $20 is replaced by a player from the wire at $20. This is both good and bad. If you find a sleeper in the wire and drop a cheap player to get him, then you got that sleeper for very little and can sign him for cheap after the season, but if you drop a more expensive player then the sleeper will cost you more as a keeper, or may not even be worth keeping at that price. Remember, you cannot drop a player under contract. The beauty of this league is that you can manage yourself into a corner like Isaiah Thomas or cruise your way through happy waters like a pre-Grizzlies Jerry West.

Trades: As mentioned, you can change your team salary during the season through trades and releases. These work with similar intentions as real NBA trades. Trade talent for cap relief. Salary dump for a big free agency class. Go for expiring contracts so you’ll have enough to keep your superstar long-term.

Vetos: There are no vetos. You have your reasons to trade. Just keep it under the cap. That is your guideline. This is a game of strategy more than anything else and everyone needs a plan. What looks crazy to some can still work into the plan. Has anyone ever vetoed David Kahn or Chris Wallace? Bad trades happen in the NBA, and if you get screwed over it is your own fault.

(What if I do GM myself into a hole? It would be no fun having a lousy team trying to get back into this thing.) Solution.

Rookie draft: Before the auction draft we will have a rookie draft. There is no lottery. The team that finished last picks first and so on. The rookies drafted are immediately signed for $1. After their first year you can choose to sign them to a rookie contract, a 3-year deal that starts at $8 the following season and progresses as normal or drop them back into free agency. The rookie will immediately go back into the free agent pool after the rookie contract expires. This way awful teams can rebuild through the draft.

I think I covered all the bases here. This is the setup for the most realistic GM experience I can come up with. I think this will be a huge leap from last season and will be more fun and engaging and will involve much more strategy.

Hopefully you made it all the way through the manifesto. Let me know if in the comments if you have any thoughts or questions on the league set up, such as why I chose to hold onto this nugget until so close to the opening of the regular season.

Week 7 Picks

(2-3) Cincinnati Bengals at
(4-2) Atlanta Falcons -3.5

(3-3) Washington Redskins at
(4-2) Chicago Bears -2.5

(4-2) Philadelphia Eagles at
(4-2) Tennessee Titans -3.5

(3-3) Jacksonville Jaguars at
(3-2) Kansas City Chiefs -5.5

(4-1) Pittsburgh Steelers at
(3-2) Miami Dolphins +3.5

(1-5) Cleveland Browns at
(4-2) New Orleans Saints -13.5

(3-3) St. Louis Rams at
(3-2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5

(1-5) San Francisco 49ers at
(0-5) Carolina Panthers +3.5

(0-5) Buffalo Bills at
(4-2) Baltimore Ravens -13.5

(3-2) Arizona Cardinals at
(3-2) Seattle Seahawks -5.5

(4-1) New England Patriots at
(2-4) San Diego Chargers -2.5

(2-4) Oakland Raiders at
(2-4) Denver Broncos -6.5

(2-3) Minnesota Vikings at
(3-3) Green Bay Packers -2.5

(4-2) New York Giants at
(1-4) Dallas Cowboys -3.5

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stathead Matt's Week 6 NFL picks

I have got to make it quick today. Hopefully these meat and potatoes picks will lift me back up from last week's debauchery.

Also, Cowboys-Vikings. This is the closest we will get as a modern civilization to a gladiatorial bout. The loser is dead and the winner is severely injured but pleased to still be alive. Wade Philips is even living the All-Star fight scene from Gladiator, with Russell Crow holding a sword over his head and the Emperor giving the thumbs up for a split second just before bringing the fans to cheers by turning it down. If Wade Phillips loses this game and is still on the sidelines the following Sunday, then the Dallas/Fort Worth search and rescue team will have to divert all its efforts to finding the real Jerry Jones.

Last week - 6 of 14
Overall - 41 of 76

My pick in bold.

(2-2) Seattle Seahawks at
(4-1) Chicago Bears -6.5

(4-1) Baltimore Ravens at
(3-1) New England Patriots -2.5

(1-4) Detroit Lions at
(3-2) New York Giants -10.5

(4-1) Atlanta Falcons at
(3-2) Philadelphia Eagles -1.5

(1-4) Cleveland Browns at
(3-1) Pittsburgh Steelers -13.5

(2-2) Miami Dolphins at
(3-2) Green Bay Packers -1.5

(2-3) San Diego Chargers at
(2-3) St. Louis Rams +8.5

(3-2) New Orleans Saints at
(3-1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5.5

(3-1) Kansas City Chiefs at
(3-2) Houston Texans -4.5

(2-3) Oakland Raiders at
(0-5) San Francisco 49ers -6.5

(4-1) New York Jets at
(2-3) Denver Broncos +3.5

(1-3) Dallas Cowboys at
(1-3) Minnesota Vikings -1.5

(3-2) Indianapolis Colts at
(3-2) Washington Redskins +3.5

(3-2) Tennessee Titans at
(3-2) Jacksonville Jaguars +3.5

Did I really just pick that many road teams? Yes. Yes I did.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


In honor of today's date, let us celebrate some of the best 10s in sports...why not 10 of them?

10. Scooter- Shortstop Phil Rizzuto wore #10 as a member of the New York Yankees from 1941 through 1956 before his 40 year run as the Yankees radio and television announcer. Bonus 10: During his tenure as a Yankee, the Bombers won 10 AL titles. Holy cow!

9. Strikers- Take a look around the world of soccer. All those big-named goal scorers all have something in common. They all wear the number 10. Messi, Totti, Rooney... the list goes on and on.

8. John Wooden- The coaching legend was born in 1910 and passed this summer (2010) at the age of 99. He is one of only 3 men to be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. Bonus 10: Wooden won 10 NCAA championships in 12 seasons between 1962 and 1975.

7. Super Bowl- Sure we are approaching Super Bowl XLV and the media juggernaut that comes with it, but lets look back at a more humble time, 1976, to Super Bowl X. The favored Steelers took care of business, beating the Dallas Cowboys, 21-17. Lynn Swan made a diving end zone catch in the second quarter en route to his MVP award for the game. It would be the second of the Steelers' six Super Bowls.

6. World Series- So long as we are looking back at championships, how about the 1910 World Series. The Chicago Cubs represented the NL and the AL featured the Philadelphia Athletics. (weird, right?) Connie Mack's Athletics took the first three games and eventually the series in Game 5.

5. Bowling- Bowling is rife with 10s. 10 pins. 10 frames. 10 calories burned per game. (citation needed)

4. Cigar- The racing legend won the Breeders' Cup Classic while wearing the number 10 in 1995, finishing in 1:59.58. Bonus 10: Rock Hard 10, winner of the Swaps Stakes and Malibu Stakes in 2004, and winner of Charles H. Strub Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap and Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap in 2005.

3. Wrestlemania- The 10th annual Wrestlemania was showcased in 1994 at Madison Square Garden, and saw the WWF Championship defended twice by Yokozuna. Lex Luger was desqualified in the first match, but Bret Hart succeeded in pinning Yokozuna in the feature match to claim the title.

2. The 10th man- If you are a baseball fan, that's you. So long as you are at the park, cheer the home team, stand up late when the closer has two strikes and reach a new level of cheering and excitement when the team needs it, the 10th man can become a recharged battery that the team can feed off.

1. October- Yeah, it's the first 10 in our 10-10-10 and it is awesome for sports. Every major professional sport is active. Baseball is in its playoffs. College football and the NFL are well underway. Hockey and basketball have begun. NASCAR is in the chase. MLS and EPL are going strong. The Ryder Cup was held in October for the first time since 1983. October is an amazing sports month, and one of the best 10s you can find.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stathead Matt's NFL Picks: Week 5

Last Week: 9-14
Overall: 35-59

(2-2) Jacksonville Jaguars at
(0-4) Buffalo Bills) +1.5

Buffalo's backfield gets a lot less cluttered with the trade of Marshawn Lynch, allowing Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, the two most talented of the group who have been rested while Lynch got the majority of the touches in the last three weeks, to prove their mettle. Expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to hook up with both Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish quite a bit against the Jaguar's 30th ranked passing defense. If the D-line can keep MJD in check, the Bills will lock up their first win at home.

The Pick: Buffalo Bills

(2-1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at
(2-2) Cincinnati Bengals -6.5

This is one of the tougher calls of the week, because neither team has shown us exactly how good they are. The Bucs beat two scrubs before being blown out by a Steelers team led by the immortal Charlie Batch. The Bengals showed promise by beating the Ravens but are also coming off a loss to an underwhelming Cleveland team. If they both play to potential, the Bengals would be the pick, but coming off a bye week, the Bucs are rested and have more to prove.

The Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(3-1) Atlanta Falcons at
(1-3) Cleveland Browns +3.5

Don't get cute. Atlanta is the pick. In fact, you may wat to tease them with...

(2-2) Philadelphia Eagles at
(0-4) San Francisco 49ers -3.5

Vegas is breaking its own rule rewarding the 49ers for losing by basically saying with this spread that they cannot possibly lose five in a row. They can. They will. Niners fans will see their first win soon though, they will just have to wait until next week when Oakland comes to town.

The Picks: Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles

While we are on the topic of Vegas rewarding a loser, they are doing it twice. I cannot remember the last time I saw this.

(2-2) St. Louis Rams at
(0-4) Detroit Lions -3.5

The thought seems to be here that this is the Lions only chance to win, maybe all season. Granted, the Rams have played an extremely soft schedule to get to their 2-2 mark, but at least they have shown they can win. Don't give Detroit any points until they prove they can do the same.

The Pick: St. Louis Rams

(3-0) Kansas City Chiefs at
(2-2) Indianapolis Colts -8.5

The Colts are giving more than a touchdown to the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL? That tells you that everyone still believes the Colts are the Colts, despite their record, the injuries and their 29th ranked rush defense. The Chiefs have Jamaal Charles, one of the most underrated backs in the league, to burst through that defensive hole, and have and a run D that will force Peyton Manning to beat them. Manning will need a shootout, and with his banged up receiving corps, I don't see them putting up enough points to cover.

The Pick: Kansas City Chiefs

(3-1) Green Bay Packers at
(2-2) Washington Redskins +3.5

The Packers haven't faced the stiffest of competition, but have looked like a playoff team nonetheless, whereas the Redskins have stepped up when the games mean something extra, beating Dallas and Philly. This game means nothing more than another Sunday at work, and I expect the Packers to continue their domination of inferior teams.

The Pick: Green Bay Packers

(3-1) Chicago Bears at
(0-4) Carolina Panthers +2.5

Jimmy Claussen was not terrible in the New Orleans game last week, and Jay Cutler is not playing for the Bears in this contest. That honor belongs to Todd Collins. So who would you back in this game, the kid who pushed the defending champs to the wall and may actually get Steve Smith the ball, or the guy you thought was out of the league and whose best target is Johnny Knox? As a kicker, it looked like Carolina's meat and potatoes ground game finally started working last week, and I expect that trend to continue.

The Pick: Carolina Panthers

(2-2) Denver Broncos at
(3-1) Baltimore Ravens -7.5

This would be an easy Ravens pick if Ray Rice had shown any life so far this year. Last season he'd be good for 75 yards rushing and 75 yards receiving a game (or so it seemed as his fantasy owner) but this season he just has not gotten it going. The Broncos have one of the best rush Ds in the league, so I cannot expect him to bounce back yet. The Ravens are the top ranked team against the pass though, and that seems to be all the Broncos do these days. Look for a low scoring affair, with the Broncos covering by default.

The Pick: Denver Broncos

(2-2) New York Giants at
(3-1) Houston Texans -3.5

I have to believe that the Texans are still cruising on that Colts upset vibe because I saw the Giants turn what had looked like a decent Bears team into a pile of ash last Sunday night. Since the Texans beat Indy, they have lost to Dallas, beaten a shabby Raiders team and squeaked by a mediocre Washington team who could only think of the Philly game the following week. Houston should not be giving points to the Giants who looked to have finally come together.

The Pick: New York Giants

(3-1) New Orleans Saints at
(2-2) Arizona Cardinals +7.5

Rookie Max Hall gets the start for the Cardinals and....I think I've said enough.

The Pick: New Orleans Saints

(2-2) San Diego Chargers at
(1-3) Oakland Raiders +6.5

I really thought Jason Campbell was going to do well here, and he seemed like the kind of guy you wanted to do well and succeed somewhere, even if it was for the Raiders. He is running out of windows on a career that could have been much better with a consistant offensive scheme. Gradkowski gets the start. Nnamdi Asomugha will waste his talent covering Malcolm Floyd, and the Rivers-to-Gates scoring tandem will be all too active.

The Pick: San Diego Chargers

(2-2) Tennessee Titans at
(1-2) Dallas Cowboys -6.5

When are the Cowboys not disappointing? It's the longest trend that nobody is following. The Titans are too good to be getting almost a touchdown from anyone. I site the fact that they have yet to lose by that much. The Cowboys are coming off a bye week and won the Texas Bowl the week before that, so maybe they are on the rise, but I cannot back them with 6.5 yet.

The pick: Tennessee Titans

(1-2) Minnesota Vikings at
(3-1) New York Jets -4.5

Remember at the beginning of the season when the Jets lost to Baltimore by a nose in an ugly game and everyone discredited them after their ballyhooed reality show? It turns out that Ravens team was pretty good, and the Jets have yet to lose since. Also, the Vikings may have been the most overrated team going into the season. Favre seems to regret coming back, and Revis gets another crack at Randy Moss after allowing a touchdown to the Vikings new receiver in the Patriots game. This one's already over.

The Pick: New York Jets