It's rare that a person playing Stump the Chump
will call out the competition and already say what prize he'd like to receive prior to
winning, but that's just what Mr. C. Joseph Richard did in his e-mail for this week's
"Make my prize the golf balls!" he said triumphantly as he sent his picks in.
It may have sounded cocky at first, but considering how things have gone for yours truly
so far, you can't blame him for picking out a prize before this week's games have already
Last year, only two contestants were victorious in Stump the Chump. In the first three
weeks of the 1999 season, however, this year's competitors have already won one week and
tied another. Mr. Richard seems almost certain he'll be victorious, but we'll have to wait
until next week to find out whether or not he's getting those golf balls this year.
So without further ado, it's time to se if Mr. Richard can step up and stump the chump.
Listed below are Mr. Richard's picks for this week's games, followed by my picks and some
additional game commentary.
Good luck, Mr. Richard!
Arizona (1-2) at Dallas (2-0)
C.J.'s pick: Cowboys.
My pick: Cowboys. Jake Plummer is starting to remind Cards fans of another famous
quarterback who wears #16. No, not Joe Montana -- Ryan Leaf. In three games, Plummer has
thrown for one touchdown, nine interceptions and has a quarterback rating somewhere in the
low 30s. Dallas is 8-2 following a bye week and has not lost a regular season game
to the Cardinals at home this decade.
Baltimore (1-2) at Atlanta (0-3)
C.J.'s pick: Falcons.
My pick: Ravens. Upset of the week. Hard to believe Falcons will drop to 0-4 after this
week, but that's my prediction and I'm sticking to it. Atlanta's once-mighty run defense
is now allowing more than 123 yards per game on the ground, while Baltimore's Errict Rhett
has rushed for 214 yards and is averaging nearly five yards per carry.
Carolina (1-2) at Washington (2-1)
C.J.'s pick: Redskins.
My pick: Redskins. Washington currently holds honor of leading league in both points
scored and allowed, so expect lots of offense this game. Panthers RB Tim Biakabutuka
rushed for 132 yards in just eight carries last game, while Redskins' run D is ranked 11th
in NFC. Panthers have allowed fewest points (43) of any team in the NFC that has played
three games this season.
Jacksonville (2-1) at Pittsburgh (2-1)
C.J.'s pick: Jaguars.
My pick: Steelers. Jaguars got a wakeup call with 20-19 loss to Titans last Sunday.
Steelers, meanwhile, were embarrased at home in 29-10 loss to Seattle, with QBs Kordell
Stewart and Mike Tomczak throwing a total of five interceptions. Tomczak gets the start
this week and will hope to get more support from his running game, which currently ranks
third in the AFC.
Kansas City (2-1) at San Diego (1-1)
C.J.'s pick: Chargers.
My pick: Chiefs. San Diego has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the past 21 games. What
people fail to mention is that the Chargers are 7-14 during that stretch. So much for
Chargers may also be without safety Rodney Harrison and cornerback
Terance Shaw, which spells even more trouble for a San Diego pass defense that allowed 404
yards to Peyton Manning and the Colts last week.
New England (3-0) at Cleveland (0-3)
C.J.'s pick: Patriots.
My pick: Patriots. Browns have shown signs of progress last three weeks but still have
worst pass offense and worst overall defense in the NFL. Pats QB Drew Bledsoe leads AFC
with 104.5 quarterback rating and has completed 66% of his passes on the season. New
England K Adam Vinatieri is a perfect 8 of 8 on extra points and has yet to miss a field
goal so far.
New Orleans (1-1) at Chicago (1-2)
C.J.'s pick: Saints.
My pick: Bears. Dog of the week. Interesting defensive battle between two teams already
playing for next year's draft pick. Chicago has converted 21 third down attempts, tops in
the NFC, while New Orleans has allowed only 4 of 23 third-down conversions. Bears defense
leads league in fumble takeaways; Saints are tied for league lead with 12 quarterback
sacks in only two games. For those looking for a high-scoring game, now would be a good
time to clean out the fridge.
New York Jets (0-3) at Denver (0-3)
C.J.'s pick: Broncos.
My pick: Broncos. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Last year, these two teams met in the
AFC championship game. Now, New York is 0-3 for the first time in Bill Parcells' reign,
while the Broncos are the first team in history to win the Super Bowl, then lose their
first three games in a non-strike season. Suddenly New York can't pass, while Denver can't
run. Broncos get the nod because of the home field advantage, but that's the only reason.
Philadelphia (0-3) at New York Giants (1-2)
C.J.'s pick: Giants.
My pick: Giants. Lock of the week. Eagles may be worst team in professional football,
including Cleveland and Cincinnati. Watching them play this year, I now understand why
Philadelphia fans have booed -- at various times -- Santa Claus, Miss America and the
Easter Bunny at Veterans' Stadium.
St. Louis (2-0) at Cincinnati (0-3)
C.J.'s pick: Rams.
My pick: Bengals. Still holding to my word to never pick a football team owned by Georgia
Frontierre despite overwhelming odds. Bengals are springing leaks from every direction,
with Ki-Jana Carter out for the season, Nick Williams doubtful because of a knee injury,
and fullback Brian Milne on the waiver wire. Bengals QB Jeff Blake recently anointed as
the human turnover machine, with three interceptions and four fumbles in just 67 touches.
Tampa Bay (2-1) at Minnesota (1-2)
C.J.'s pick: Vikings.
My pick: Buccaneers. Vikings aren't fooling anybody on offense anymore, averaging just 18
points for first three games of season (last year, they never scored fewer than 24 in a
single game). Bucs, meanwhile, own league's top defense and have allowed just one
offensive touchdown in 1999. Rookie kicker Martin Gramatica is a perfect 6 of 6 on field
goals for Tampa Bay and leads rookie kickers with 21 points.
Tennessee (3-0) at San Francisco (2-1)
C.J.'s pick: Titans.
My pick: 49ers. Last dance for the 49ers, who lost Garrison Hearst before the start of the
season, then lost Steve Young for at least one game after suffering a concussion against
the Cardinals last week. Tennessee opened a lot of eyes by beating Jacksonville 20-19 last
Sunday, but this game will determine whether or not the Titans are for real. In this case,
the experience of the Niners (not including QB Jeff Garcia) will win out, keeping their
home winning streak alive at 19 games.
Oakland (2-1) at Seattle (2-1)
C.J.'s pick: Raiders.
My pick: Raiders. Could this be the return of the Silver and Black we all know and hate?
Raiders are tied for the AFC lead with 12 sacks, lead NFL in run defense and have not
allowed a rushing touchdown. Seattle offense, meanwhile, is ranked 29th on the
ground and did not score an offensive touchdown last week.
Monday Night's Game
Buffalo (2-1) at Miami (2-0)
C.J.'s pick: Dolphins.
My pick: Dolphins. Dolphins may be the most efficient team in pro football, leading the
AFC in red zone efficiency on offense (five touchdowns in six possessions) and tied for
the league lead on defense (only two touchdowns by the opponent in six possessions). Bills
QB Doug Flutie has had to scramble for his life first three games of the year and may not
survive a Miami D that has allowed just 112 points the last 10 home games and has won
eight of past nine at Pro Player Stadium.
Last Week's Results
Mike Blissit: 10-5
The Chump: 10-5
Season Totals to Date
Guest Prognosticators: 28-17
The Chump: 26-19
* * *
Mike Devitt writes the "Twelfth Man" column for the Indianapolis Star-News
Online. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.