Quick Picks for Week 9 ...
Home teams in caps
BILLS (+3) over Jets
November means one thing: Start riding those home dogs.
(And since I have nothing else to add, was anyone else disturbed by the overwhelming homoerotic overtones in "The OC" season premiere last night? Since when did Ryan and Seth become the new Ace and Gary? Can't they start fighting over a chick or something? If there's an episode where Seth flips out because Ryan wore his favorite sweater without asking first, I'm done. Seriously.)
STEELERS (+1) over Eagles
All the Pittsburgh fans thought I was trying to reverse-jinx Roethlisberger last week. Please. The kid is GREAT. With the crippling rash of New England injuries, isn't Pittsburgh the overwhelming favorite in the AFC right now? Indy and KC don't have the defenses; the Jags and Jets aren't explosive enough; Denver and Baltimore don't have the QB's; the Chargers and Texans are a year away. Everything is breaking right for the Steelers. Very good football team. Remember, I'm in a Double Grace Period right now with the Pats -- I'm perfectly capable of looking at the AFC rationally. Pittsburgh is the best team in the conference. It's a fact.
(Note: We just need to give the QB a nickname like "B-Roe" because I'm tired of spelling his whole name. Let's work on this.)
LIONS (-3.5) over Redskins
The Lions are officially my gambling nemesis. I give up. By the way, if you would like to be a plaintiff in the class action suit by fantasy football owners against Clinton Portis, check out sueclintonportis.com for details.
DOLPHINS (-3) over Cardinals
(Note: To everyone who clicked on that www.sueclintonportis.com link ... I mean, you must feel pretty dumb right now? Do you have anything to say for yourself?)
Cowboys (-1.5) over BENGALS
This feels like one of those "home" games where the Cowboys will have like 25,000 fans there. Always depressing for the home team. By the way, I'm officially anointing the Cowboys as the Good Bad Team - the bad team that's just good enough that they can beat all the other bad teams. Even if they have Mark Bavaro starting at TE this week.
GIANTS (-9) over Bears
Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ... Craig Krenzel ... on the road ...
BUCS (+3) over Chiefs
You know the Chiefs have officially crawled back into the playoff race when Dick Vermeil is choking up in the locker room again. I like this Bucs team though.
Seahawks (-7) over NINERS
Little too much dissension with the Niners this week. My favorite excerpt from the multiple stories: "Barlow and Beasley have had a volatile relationship during their time with the 49ers, but Barlow took the opportunity to blast Lloyd as Beasley had done the day before."
(Translation: Teammates A and B can't stand each other, but they agree that Teammate C is a jerk. Sounds like a good situation.)
Saints (+6) over CHARGERS
Fact: The Chargers have won their last three games at home by a combined 62 points.
Fact: The national media jumped on the "Wow, what's going on with the Chargers?" bandwagon this week.
Fact: Everyone and their brother will be teasing the Chargers with either Seattle or Baltimore this week.
Fact: Everyone in every office pool thought about this game for a total of 0.37 seconds before picking the Chargers.
Raiders (+7) over PANTHERS
But seriously ... this Panthers team shouldn't be favored by seven points over anyone.
RAMS (+2.5) over Patriots
First, how 'bout a round of applause for that 21-game winning streak? Just remarkable.
(Standing and applauding.)
Anyway, we all know that you need a little luck to win the Super Bowl. During the other two title seasons, the Pats suffered some alarming injuries, but nothing they couldn't handle. This time around, it's different. They lose Deion Branch (their only gamebreaking WR) in Week 2. They also lose Ben Watson (their stud rookie TE), meaning that all their 2-TE running packages went out the window. Now they lose both starting CB's and Dillon is playing at 60% because of his hamstring.
Sometimes you pass a point where you're not even the same team anymore - last Sunday, the Pats passed that point. As long as they can hold onto a playoff spot and regroup by January, I'm not too worried. But the fact remains, they're playing in St. Louis this week and Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield are starting at cornerback. This isn't good.
Texans (+6) over BRONCOS
Strangest line of the week. I like this Texans team.
RAVENS (-6) over Browns
I'm just throwing it out there: Let's say Ray Lewis had Terrell Owens killed at some point in the next four months. Like a Biggie-Tupac thing. (I know it won't happen - let's just pretend it does.) Would that be the biggest sports story of all-time? Bigger than Magic getting HIV, or OJ's wife being murdered? I had this argument with a buddy this week ... I say yes. It's a good argument though.
COLTS (-5.5) over Vikings
Even Meg Ryan's sex scenes in "In The Cut" were more passionate than Peyton Manning and the Colts last week. Let's see if they give a crap on Monday night against a Vikes team that looks exceedingly mediocre without Moss. I mean, if you can't get up for THAT game...
Last week: 6-8
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.