October 24th, 2008
The good news is that last week I picked up two games on Al. The bad news is that I’m getting even further away from breaking even, as I went 6-8—meaning Al went 4-10. We suck, or at least we sure did last week. Al still leads for the season, I’m 48-51-3 and Al is 51-48-3. I was happy to see my Texans win a second game in a row, but beating the Lions by only a TD is kind of a dubious honor. And I always love seeing the Cowboys self-destruct, and that was in full swing last week as well. The Bills are clearly better than I thought, and I have no idea what the hell is going on with the Saints.
Anyway, on to this week’s picks…
Raiders @ Baltimore(-7)
Oakland is 2-4 and Baltimore is 3-3, and it’s in Baltimore. Is that worth 7 points? Meh, I don’t like either one of these teams, but I think Oakland is still bad enough that even the punchless Ravens can cover this… maybe. Possibly. I hope. Ugh…
Cardinals @ Carolina(-4)
This is one of those “which version of each team will show up” kind of games. I think if this game were in Arizona, I’d go with the Cards. But it isn’t, so I’ll take the Panthers.
Buccaneers @ Dallas(-2)
Did I mention that it just warms my heart to see Dallas implode? While the bickering and finger-pointing is great theater, the real issue here is that the Cowboys are really banged up and Tampa appears to be putting it together. I like getting points here.
Redskins @ Detroit(+7.5)
If the Texans are seven points better than the Lions, Washington is certainly ten points better, even on the road. Were I in a suicide pool, this would be the game this week.
Bills @ Miami(+1)
This seems wrong to me, as Buffalo appears to be the real deal, and Miami, while improved, is still not in the top half of the league. I’ll certainly give the one point.
Rams @ New England(-7.5)
St. Louis has been a great story the last couple weeks, but I still don’t believe in them. I’ll give the points.
Chargers(-3) vs. Saints @ London
I have no idea what to do with this one—both of these teams should be better than they are. On a hunch that the Saints might be better than people think without Bush, I’m going to take the points.
Chefs @ New Jersey Jest(-14)
KC is absolutely hopeless, but WTF is up with the Jest? Should be a good week for Thomas Jones, but I just cannot give that many points when Gang Green is so inconsistent. I could see the Jets winning by 20, but I can see them honking this game, too. I’ll take the two TDs.
Falcons @ Philadelphia(-9)
OK, they’re saying Westbrook is back, but I still don’t think he’s 100% and if the Eagles have shown me anything this year, it’s that they’ve been overrated by the pundits. Eagles win but don’t cover this big a number.
Browns @ Jacksonville(-7)
Hmm, I think I’ve seen this situation before: Cleveland is 2-4 and Jax is 3-3, and it’s in Jacksonville. Is that worth 7 points? I’m not that surprised the Browns are down this year compared to last year, but the Jags puzzle me—they should be better than they are. I have to think they’ll start to turn it around eventually, but seven seems like too many against a Browns team that does still have some weapons.
Bungles @ Houston(-9.5)
Look, the Texans should win this game and probably will. But they have yet to beat anybody this badly, and I’m not giving a huge number like this until they do.
Giants @ Pittsburgh(-2.5)
If Parker were going to play, I’d give this. But I don’t think he’s supposed to, so I’ll take the points.
Seahawks @ San Francisco(-5.5)
Seattle on the road? Horrific. I’m taking the Niners.
Colts @ Tennessee(-4)
Man, that seems way too low. They’re just begging you to take the Titans here, which makes me worried. Oh, wait, the Colts can’t stop the run, and Tennessee leads the NFL in rushing. Uhh, yeah, give the points.
October 17th, 2008
Well, last week was a train wreck for me and I’m running the risk of being completely out of it before we even get to the halfway point of the season. Ugh. The numbers: I went 4-10, Al went 6-8, so for the season I’m 42-43-3 and Al is still a rockin’ 47-38-3. I think it’s time to replace me with some very dumb regression model… On the other hand, I’m 6-0 in FF, so that’s something.
Titans @ Kansas City(+9)
That seems like a lot of points, but the Titans seem to have it all together this year, so I’m going to go with Tennessee.
Chargers @ Buffalo(-1)
The Bills are 4-1 and at home against a 3-3 team, and yet the spread is only one. Something about the Bills seems fragile, but of course the Chargers haven’t exactly been the model of consistency. I like the Bolts’ talent to win out here, though, so I’ll take the point.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati(+9.5)
I can’t imagine that Fitzpatrick will fare very well against the Steelers’ pass rush, and Big Ben always plays well against the Bungles. I’m giving the big number.
Baltimore @ Miami(-3)
The Dolphins are legitimately not awful any more. The Ravens have a good D as usual—though they sure got lit up last week—and are again struggling to move the ball on offense. I guess I like Miami slightly better here.
Cowboys @ St. Louis(+7)
There are few things I like better than seeing the Cowboys implode. The Williams trade seems completely bizarre to me from the Cowboys standpoint; exactly how are Barber, Witten, Jones, T.O. and Williams all supposed to get the ball enough? And is Romo playing or not here? Ah, well, it doesn’t matter, the Rams are awful, last week notwithstanding. Dallas.
Vikings @ Chicago(-3)
I really don’t know what to do with this game, and obviously neither does anyone in Vegas, as we have the generic “home team by three” spread. I have no faith in Minnesota, though, so I’m taking the Bears.
Saints @ Carolina(-3)
Another game Vegas doesn’t want. I’m going to ride the current Drew Brees hot hand and say the Saints outright win this one.
Niners @ New Jersey Giants(-10.5)
I certainly expect the G-Men to win, but that’s an awful lot of points. I have to go with SF here with that many points.
Lions @ Houston(-9.5)
Bold move by the Detroit front office, unloading Williams for three picks. They’ve completely sold out this year for the future. I have no idea how the Lions stayed in the game against the Vikings last week, but without Williams who’s playing offense? Of course, they’re playing the Texans here. My boys have actually played quite well the last two weeks, but even I’m not ready to say they’re about to blow anybody out, even the Lions. I say they repeat last week in that they win, but fail to cover.
Jets @ Oakland(+3)
Did you hear what Warren Sapp was saying about the Raiders, that Al Davis was changing game plans and sending down plays? Crazy stuff. I hope Kiffin gets his money. Oh, and I see the Jets covering this—they seem to be on the upswing.
Browns @ Washington(-7.5)
I’ve seen Cleveland twice this season, week 1 against the Cowboys and last week against the Giants, and it’s kind of amazing that it’s the same team in both of those. Which Browns team do we get this week? And which Redskins team, the one that was on a mini tear or the one that lost to the hapless Rams? Too much uncertainty, and with that much uncertainty, that’s too many points. Cleveland.
Colts @ Green Bay(+1)
The Colts have looked good for exactly one game this year. Granted, that was last week, but the Packers seem like they at least kind of have it together, plus they’re at home. Green Bay.
Seahawks @ Tampa(-10.5)
The Seabags on the road starting a backup QB? Give the points.
Broncos @ New England(-3)
Al, I think you’re right, I think the Pats just aren’t good this year. I’ll take Denver and the points.
October 14th, 2008
So, today Apple announced new MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and a new 24“ cinema display. I have a MacBook Pro that I bought in June of 2007 so I’m not really in the market for a new one, but one of the things that kind of surprised me about the new MacBook Pros is the lack of a speed bump. I’m typing this on a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, and the default configuration for a new MacBook Pro? 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo. If you get the first level of upgrade, you go to a whopping 2.53 GHz. Yes, all the new gizmos on it are cool (I admit I’d like the multitouch trackpad), but I don’t see much of a gain in terms of performance—certainly not enough to justify blowing more than two grand on one of these.
The new MacBooks are very cool indeed, but I can’t really even consider one because of the lack of FireWire 800. I live on a FireWire 800 drive that I sync between home, work, and laptop. FW400 is even too slow to make this convenient, and USB simply will not cut it. However, if I weren’t already wedded to this system that’s a nice package for $1300.
The new monitor is actually more interesting. I spend enough time at my computers that I think it’s worth the money to buy really good monitors. Right now my desktop configuration is a 23” Cinema display along with a 20“ Cinema display. The 23” monitor (which I use as the main) is fantastic but it lacks an iSight camera, which I’ve always wanted to have on it. I would also like the lower LED power and the idea of having a MagSafe on it to charge the laptop is a stroke of brilliance, no doubt about it. (However, I don’t see how to make this work smoothly with the USB and display connection coming from a MacPro under my desk. Hmm.) And adding an extra USB port is also very nice. What I want to know is what happened to the FireWire? The last generation of Cinema displays have two FireWire 400 ports on them, which was terrific. Where’s the FireWire? Irritating. Nonetheless, I’ll certainly consider ordering one of these.
October 10th, 2008
So, first, last week I went 8-4-2 and Al went 7-5-2; the two pushes were of course games that Al and I picked differently. For the season I’m 38-33-3 and Al is 41-30-3; man, Al, you’re tearing it up!
Now, comments on last week’s games. Obviously, the Steelers have some kind of juvenation machine, because Big Ben looked fantastic after weeks of looking crappy. I think the Jags just aren’t as good as before. And the Saints have nobody but themselves to blame for losing that game; they should have finished the first half up by 10 or 14. The absolutely most gut-wrenching game was the Colts and Texans—a game I watched almost all of. Hideous, just hideous. The Texans outplayed them for 56 minutes and then just freaking gave away the win. Made me ill—almost as ill as watching Michigan this year. Ugh, let’s just move on…
Bears @ Atlanta(+3)
Chicago is starting to look more and more like they did two years ago. The Falcons are obviously much improved, but they still haven’t beaten anybody good yet, and the Bears are at least a little good, so I’ll give the points.
Raiders @ New Orleans(-7)
Oakland is a train wreck with the coaching situation, but something is seriously wrong in New Orleans as well. However, Colson and Shockey might both be back and that will be enough for the Saints to cover.
Panthers @ Tampa(-1.5)
Carolina is just plain better, I’m going with them.
Rams @ Washington(-13.5)
Have the Rams yet played within two TDs of anyone? And the Redskins are actually even decent—I would think they should cover this.
Bungles @ New Jersey Jets(-8.5)
Palmer is out, which means Cinci will have no offense; even the Jets should be able to pound them.
Lions @ Minnesota(-13)
I don’t think even the Vikings can mess this one up—I’m giving the points.
Dolphins @ Houston(-3)
OK, yes, the Texans have actually looked pretty good in both of the last two weeks, but they still lost both of those. The Dolphins are also looking better—and they’ve won. I think I’ll wait for the Texans to actually win one before I start giving points with them.
Ravens @ Indy(-4)
The Colts are living on borrowed time—they are just a hair away from being winless. I think even the Ravens will be able to move the ball on their hapless D, and look for Manning to have to run for his life—and watching Manning run is always good for a laugh. Anyway, I’m taking Baltimore and the points.
Jaguars @ Denver(-3.5)
One would think the Jags will just run like crazy, but they haven’t been running very well lately, and the Broncos D finally made an appearance last week, and I generally like the Broncos at home, so I’ll go with that.
Cowboys @ Arizona(+5)
If the Cowboys were an animal, right now they’re looking like some kind of animal that eats their own young. They looked so good early and now look like they’re trying to implode. Nonetheless, Dallas just has better talent. They’ll get after Warner and force some turnovers and the Cards won’t be able to stop the Barber/Jones tandem. Give the five.
Eagles @ San Francisco(+4.5)
Westbrook is out, I’m taking the Niners and the points.
Packers @ Seattle, pick
How on earth is this a “pick” game? The Seabags are cover-your-eyes horrible, and the Packers are at least average. Green Bay all the way.
Patriots @ San Diego(-5)
You’d think the Bolts would be a lot better, given their talent, but they just don’t have it together so far. I’m taking the road ‘dog and the points.
Giants @ Cleveland(+8.5)
The Browns are a mess (with Winslow possibly out) and the Giants seem to be firing on all cylinders. And all the press on politics (ooh, rich white stiff Notre Dame grad Brady Quinn is a Republican? Really?) isn’t good—the coach should be worried about football, not fivethirtyeight. Easy pick, give the points.
October 5th, 2008
As the alert reader will note, a few months ago I test drove four cars. In mid-August, I actually bought one of them, but not the one that was first in those rankings; instead, I bought a MazdaSPEED3. I got the Grand Touring package because I wanted the xenon headlamps, the better AC and the upgraded seats. Well, OK, and the rain-sensing wipers and the trip computer.
So, the obvious first question is why I went that way instead of buying the MINI Cooper Clubman S which I ranked first in my drive review. Yes, the MINI seemed more fun to drive, at least for a while, but there were multiple factors which spoke in the Mazda’s favor:
 Money. To get the MINI comparably equipped, the price tag was about $5k more. And with the extra options I would have gotten on the MINI, it would have been some $7k more. BMW has certainly figured out how to nickel-and-dime you to death with this car; why on earth is a limited slip diff a $500 option and not standard? I simply could not justify the expense, particularly given the second concern.
 Less practical. Yes, I could have gotten my two kids in to the MINI through the one-half of a back door and buckled in the little one via leaning over the flopped-forward front set, and I could have crammed the trunk to the max when I’m doing soccer duty or whatever, but it would have been a pain and gotten old quickly. Why pay ~$6k extra for a car that limits me like this?
 Ergonomics. The MINI interior is so focussed on being retro that the designers seriously sacrificed usability in how the controls are laid out. No self-respecting human factors person should reward that nonsense. And the cupholders suck. Oh, and my seven-year-old is enough of a backseat driver as it is, the freaking plate-sized speedo right in the middle of the dash is practically an invitation for him to comment endlessly, and that’s something I just do not need.
 Reliability. Now, the MINI is covered by a better warranty and all service is included in the first 3 years, but there is basically one MINI dealer in my area and it’s not a particularly convenient location. Also, there have been reports of some first-year problems with the Clubmans. This was not a huge factor but it was a consideration. (Incidentally, reliability is why the VW GTI never even got a test drive.)
 Appearance. The MINI is butt-ugly, and I mean that literally; the back end of the Clubman is a busy, ugly mess. You basically have to get the black roof and trim to cover up the ugliness of it. I know that’s a shallow reason but someone needs to punish MINI for that nastiness. (I’ll note that Top Gear agrees that it’s hideous.) While the front is still MINI-cute, the tail end is simply awful. And the barn door design, while very unique, is dumb. With a standard hatch, if you’re loading or unloading in the rain, the hatch provides cover. Plus, it leaves a dumb blind spot in the rear outward view. Also, this means a second rear wiper and fluid delivery deal; this means more blades to replace and more moving parts to fail.
And, of course, we’ve had at least one Mazda in the garage for a while now, so it has some additional familiarity. In fact, the SPEED3 really is the natural evolution of the Protege5 which it replaced in my garage. That is, it’s still a wagon-hatch thing, but with updated safety and convenience features and an incredibly kick-ass engine. The auto press really likes this car (see Edmunds, Automobile.com, NextAutos, AutoBlog, and Car and Driver for examples of this) and I can see why. However, most auto press reviews are based on fairly short-term tests. Since I’ve now put about 1500 miles on it I figured I should share my thoughts—not just my initial impressions, but really living with it day-to-day for over a month. As with all cars, there are strong points and weak points—in this case, the strong far outweighs the weak, but both deserve consideration.
• Fast. Fast as hell. I mean, no, it’s not Ferrari fast and it won’t kill an STI at a stoplight (not that I race at stoplights) but it’s a torque animal and just flat-out moves when the gas pedal is stomped. I have, without really trying to go fast, looked down at the speedo at the bottom of a highway entrance ramp and realized I was in triple digits. The kicker is that you get all that 280 fl-lbs of torque goodness at a modest 3000 rpm. It kind of has the opposite problem as the Honda VTEC in that there’s not much advantage flirting with the redline; the engine does tend to start giving up at high rpms (around 6000), but I find that more manageable than having nothing until you reach high rpms. The other really impressive thing about it is the lack of turbo lag. There is a very tiny bit of it, but very close to none. And, technically, actually it is Ferrari fast in some sense. One of the cool Ferraris of my youth was the Ferrari 308 GTB, which made 240 hp and 209 lb-ft of torque and weighed almost exactly the same as a Speed3. (It was also somewhat less practical, being a 2-seater.) So, 24 years later I get in the same performance ballpark for a small fraction of the price.
• Great handling. The nice thing is that this isn’t just straight-line speed, the car can actually corner, and do it well. There’s some understeer, yes, (it is still front wheel drive), but the suspension is terrific, there’s very little body roll, and the road feel is very good. No, the road feel is not as good as the MINI, but this car has so much power on tap that you can compensate on the back side of a turn by just powering out. One thing that deserves comment is the torque steer issue. The various mags and sites certainly have reported a range on this. Obviously, running 280 ft-lb through only the front wheels is a recipe for torque steer. Mazda engineers must have figured that since it has stability control, the ECU knows the steering angle. Therefore, in first and second gears, it backs off the turbocharger as a function of steering angle. Thus, if the wheels are straight ahead, you get pretty much the full boost, but if the wheels are angled a lot, the waste gate opens and you get less boost. This system works very well. It doesn’t eliminate torque steer completely, but it moderates it quite well. This car has about the same amount of pull on the steering wheel as my old Protege5, which had more like 130 lb-ft of torque. I cannot figure out why some folks have complained about it, it’s really not that bad. Oh, and the brakes are fantastic.
• Comfort and ergonomics. The driver’s seat is excellent. It’s well-bolstered but not over-bolstered. I really don’t care for leather seats and the good news is that the seating surfaces aren’t leather, they’re alcantara, which I wasn’t sure about at first, but which I love. It’s more grippy than leather and breathes better, but is just as comfortable.The other good news here is that the initial impression of comfort conveyed by a short ride is maintained over longer drives and over time. And, quite unlike the MINI, the controls are all in sensible locations and easy to reach. Also unlike the MINI, it has a nice split-storage armrest (with power and aux jack in the larger section). Oh, and the glove box is enormous (but, not chilled like the MINI). The other thing, and this one is key for living in Houston, the AC is terrific. It’s so much better than the AC in my old car that I almost don’t miss the moon roof. Oh, and the auto wipers are trippy.
• Appearance. It’s not a fantastic-looking car (you know, like an Aston Martin), but it’s a decent-looking car. One thing I like about it is that it doesn’t look radically different from a regular Mazda3 though the differences are certainly there (particularly the spoiler). You have to know what to look for to know that this is the version that does 0-60 in less than 6 seconds; there’s a certain understatedness to it. The Speed3 doesn’t scream “look at me” in the way that the MINI does, and while the new WRX looks better than the old one, it’s still kind of ugly. I do like the way the Civic Si looks, but not dramatically more than the Speed3. The weakness here is that there are only four color choices: black, white, gray, and red. And the red is red, bright fire-engine red. The red clearly looks the best (there’s a reason that most of the promo photos from Mazda are of the red) and so I went with that, but I’m not sure I really need any extra attention from anyone with a radar gun. On the plus side, my wife has always wanted a red car so I get some points there. I do still wish they made it in the same bright blue that Subaru provides for the WRX or, better yet, the british racing green you can get for the MINI. That would be beautiful.
Regardless, here is a photo gallery, with pics from both before and after the tint job and rear bumper guards. And yes, the car’s nickname, courtesy of my seven-year-old, is “Lightning” and so I had to get the sunshade with the eyes. (If you don’t get this reference, you need to catch up on your Pixar movie viewing.)
• Great exhaust note. This is not a major thing, I know, but it’s nice to have a sporty car which sounds like a sports car. It’s throaty but not overmuch. It’s not like a stupid coffee cans bolted on a Civic, it actually sounds more like a V8, even though of course it isn’t. The other Mazda sports car, the RX-8, is fatally flawed in this regard, and so is the Civic Si. A friend was over for a visit when I came home and she asked how I liked the car and I noted that it’s way fast, and she said “yeah, you can tell from how it sounds.” That’s what you want to hear.
• The shifter. This I have to say I do not get. I have indeed gotten more used to the shifter over time and it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, but the shifter in this car simply isn’t that great. It’s on the vague and rubbery side, especially when shifting from 2nd to 3rd. I know Mazda is capable of making a better shifter, and the shifter on the RX-8 is excellent, though of course the RX-8 is another torqueless wonder like the Honda. (Don’t get me wrong, I love the way the RX-8 handles and feels, but it’s about as practical as the MINI and has reliability issues of its own.) Maybe Mazda hasn’t figured out a decent shifter that can handle torque? I don’t know, but if I replace anything on this car, it’s likely to be the shifter.
• The Bose “premium” stereo. Kudos to Bose for one of the greatest marketing departments in the world, because there are people out there who actually seem to think Bose products don’t suck. Well, they do. I guess for a stock car stereo I guess it doesn’t completely suck, but it’s not good. In my Pro5 I put in relatively inexpensive JBL GTO speakers and an amp, and that sounded substantially better than the Bose in the Speed3. The bass is muddy and the treble resolution is awful. The mids are tolerable but unimpressive. My understanding is that the Bose system is wired in some nonstandard way, making it difficult to simply drop in better speakers. Ugh.
• There are a few pretty minor quibbles. For instance, it would be nice to have Bluetooth and a turbo boost gauge, and the speedometer could use more of the dial (the scale is a little cramped). The other thing I’ve seen people complain about is the lack of heated seats. Overrated, and certainly not necessary here in hot and sticky Houston. Some have griped about AWD but I think the car is heavy enough as it is; the MazdaSPEED6 was AWD and the weight just killed the fun.
These are things I feel the need to comment on but which aren’t necessarily good or bad.
• No moon roof. Now, from a performance standpoint, the lack of moon roof is forgivable—added weight that high up on the car is less than optimal, and Mazda engineers apparently felt they needed the extra rigidity provided by a full roof since they gave in and provided 60/40 rear folding seats (which you could not get on the MazdaSPEED6). On the other hand, I park my car in the Houston sun most days (and the only interior color available is black), and being able to crack the moon roof provides meaningful ventilation. I know when I take the car to the track (which I will do eventually) I won’t miss it but I park in the sun more often than I go to the track, so it might be nice to have.
• Mileage. I’ll be right up front about this: the car does not get particularly good mileage. It’s rated at 18 city and 26 highway, only marginally better than the WRX. Oh, and it requires premium. So far I’ve been getting around 21 mpg when I fill up, which is right on the nose. Now, when I’m a little more aggressive, it’s less than that, and when I’m more moderated, I get about 23 mpg. And, frankly, this is not a car which wants to be moderated. On the other hand, I knew all this going in and I’m unlikely to put more than 10 or 11 thousand miles a year on the car. Our family hauler, which also has a longer daily commute and therefore gets about 18k miles/year, is a Highlander Hybrid which gets more like 24-26 mpg (on standard octane gas) and is not ULEV rated, but SULEV. So I felt like it was OK to be a little less green with my car. Would I like better mileage? Sure. But this is a performance-oriented car, so I wouldn’t really list this as a complaint, either. (This is one area where the MINI really has a big advantage, however.)
So, overall, a few relatively minor issues and a whole lot of wonderful performance while still being practical and comfortable. Given the modest price tag on this car, I have to say that’s a huge win. It’s not a perfect car but I’m confident that it’s the closest thing for under $25k.
October 4th, 2008
I am not having a good season; last week I went 6-7 and am now 30-29-1 for the season, while Al went 7-6 and is 34-25-1 for the season–nice work, Al! On the plus side, I’m 4-0 in fantasy, so there is at least some compensation.
Without further ado, the picks…
Titans @ Baltimore(+3)
I loved Trey Wingo’s comment on this on NFL live: “You may want to hide the women and children for this one.” I rate this as this week’s “game most likely to produce multiple season-ending injuries.” I can’t wait to see this one. Oh, and I think the Titans will prevail—both the Ravens and the Steelers gave everything they had last week and the Titans will just have a little more in the tank here.
Seahawks @ New Jersey Giants(-8)
Seattle is terrible, particularly on the road. Even without Plax, the Giants cover this.
Redskins @ Philly(-6)
Ugh, worst possible outcome; Westbrook will play, but clearly isn’t 100%. I think Philly might just pull this game out, but I don’t see them blowing out the Redskins, who seem be finding their rhythm. So I’ll take the points.
Chargers @ Miami(-6.5)
The Bolts do seem to have it together now, so I’ll go with San Diego here.
Bears @ Detroit(+3.5)
The Lions play the Rams sometime this year, right? That could easily be the first win for the victor of that game. I’m taking Chicago.
Falcons @ Green Bay(-4)
Man, this “game time decision” thing for Rogers is a pain. I’m going to guess that even if he’s healthy he won’t be completely effective and the Packers are #26 against the run, so I’ll take Atlanta and the points.
Colts @ Houston(+3.5)
I have to say, I was really surprised at how well the Texans played last week against the Jags. But the Colts are coming off a bye, so I’m giving the points and going with Indy.
Chiefs @ Carolina(-10)
I was impressed with KC last week, but that was a divisional game at home. Even though it’s a big number, with the game in Charlotte I’m taking the Panthers.
Bucs @ Denver(-3)
Well, the Broncos looked horrible last week, but I do not trust the Bucs, so I will again take Denver.
Bills @ Arizona(-1)
Oh, come on, man, give Buffalo a little love! They’ll win this game.
Patriots @ San Francisco(+3.5)
I don’t see New England having the same kind of awful week two weeks in a row, especially with a bye in there. I’ll go with the Pats.
Bungles @ Dallas(-16.5)
That is just a truckload of points. I have to take them.
Steelers @ Jacksonville(-5)
If you’re a fan in the stands in a Steelers jersey, there’s a reasonable chance they’ll pull you out and make you play running back. I have the Jags here.
Vikings @ New Orleans(-3.5)
I don’t understand why Minnesota’s defense isn’t better—they have the personnel to be great, and they’re merely OK. And the Saints offense is on fire; I will give the points.
How was your vacation, Al? Where’d you go? Did you get your Strahan jersey?