Last week, Indiana's own Dave Wineland became the
first guest prognosticator of the 1999 season to outstump the chump, picking 11 of 15
football games correctly and putting a dent in this reporter's Super Bowl-sized ego. This
week, it's Mike Blissit, a resident of Arlington, Texas, who has the chance to step up and
get his lumps in.
The 50-year old Blissit has been a fan of the Colts since he was in the sixth grade,
which has caused him considerable grief in a place where the Dallas Cowboys are king.
"I've never been a Cowboys fan," said Mike, "and still am taking shots
by my son's friends who can't understand why I'm not. Cowboys fans treat you like a 'card
carrying Communist' (a phrase best understood by those of us who predate the breakup of
the Soviet Union)."
Back in those days, Mike remembers, information about the Colts was hard to come by.
" I remember the only information I used to get was a small paragraph in the Sunday
newspaper about the game, and the box score, and that was all."
The advent of the Internet, however, has changed all that. "It is so different
Now, I love getting the instant information about injuries, trades, and
quotes from the players."
So how will all that information help Mike pick this week's football games? We won't
know until next week, so your guess is as good as mine. In the meantime, it's time to see
if Mike can follow in Dave's footsteps and stump the chump. Listed below are Mike's picks
for this week's games, followed by my own picks and some additional commentary for each
Good luck, Mike!
Indianapolis (1-1) at San Diego (1-0)
Mike's pick: Colts.
My pick: Chargers. Great matchup between a high-powered, multidimensional offense and a
tough, smashmouth-type defense. Chargers gave up only 47 yards rushing and forced five
turnovers in 34-7 rout of Cincinnati last Sunday. Colts, meanwhile, lead AFC with eight
offensive touchdowns, but defense surrendered 400 yards to the Patriots in 31-28 loss.
Starting cornerbacks Tyrone Poole and Tony Blevins are both questionable with thigh and
groin injuries, respectively.
Atlanta (0-2) at St. Louis (1-0)
Mike's pick: Falcons.
My pick: Falcons. Already a must-win game for Atlanta, which gets Chris Chandler back in
the starting lineup but lost running back Jamal Anderson for the season with a torn ACL.
Big test to see if Rams QB Curt Warner is for real. After throwing for 316 yards and three
touchdowns in his first start as a pro against Baltimore, he faces an Atlanta pass defense
ranked second in the league.
Chicago (1-1) at Oakland (1-1)
Mike's pick: Raiders.
My pick: Raiders. Lock of the week. Oakland kicks off home opener with "Handgun and
Hard Liquor Day," handing out free tickets to any fan with a blood alcohol level
below .08. Bears QB Shane Matthews is one of only three NFC quarterbacks yet to throw an
interception this season, but that stat will change this Sunday. Raiders defense has been
solid first two weeks, sacking opposing quarterbacks nine times and picking off five
Cincinnati (0-2) at Carolina (0-2)
Mike's pick: Panthers. Mike's first dog of the week.
My pick: Bengals. Agree with Mike as the dog of the week. First-ever meeting between both
teams, which is unfortunate for the fans at Ericsson Stadium who actually paid for this.
Meaningless stat of the week: Bengals are 10-24 since the start of the 1997 season.
Panthers, meanwhile, are 11-23. Can you smell the Alpo?
Cleveland (0-2) at Baltimore (0-2)
Mike's pick: Ravens. Mike's second dog of the week.
My pick: Ravens. Ex-Colt Stoney Case gets to show what he can do against a Cleveland
defense ranked 30th in the league against the pass. Browns are also missing
starting DBs Antonio Langham and Tim McTyer with thumb and forearm injuries. Ravens
running back Errict Rhett rushed for 101 yards against Steelers last week and could reach
that number by the end of the first half this Sunday.
Denver (0-2) at Tampa Bay (1-1)
Mike's pick: Buccaneers.
My pick: Buccaneers. Bucs lead league in total defense, allowing 129 yards per game. Team
had nine sacks against Philadelphia last week and are second in league with 11 sacks
overall. Tampa QB Trent Dilfer may have his share of critics, but he has a 100.8
quarterback rating in is 3-1 in his last four home games against an AFC opponent.
Over-under for Broncos coach Mike Shanahan having a stroke on the sideline now down to
seventh week of season.
Detroit (2-0) at Kansas City (1-1)
Mike's pick: Lions.
My pick: Chiefs. Loss of running back Kimble Anders to torn Achilles' tendon will
definitely hurt KC ground game, which was averaging 4.5 yards per carry and ranked seventh
in the league. High scoring game definitely favors Kansas City -- Chiefs have won last 43
home games when they score at least 21 points.
Minnesota (1-1) at Green Bay (1-1)
Mike's pick: Vikings.
My pick: Packers. Crucial early-season matchup for two teams fighting to make it to the
Super Bowl. Vikings racked up 885 yards of offense in two games against Pack last season
but has struggled offensively this year, with just 34 points first two games of 1999.
Green Bay's pass offense ranked third in the league and could wreak havoc on a Minnesota D
that was desperate enough to coax both Chris Doleman and Corey Miller out of retirement
Philadelphia (0-2) at Buffalo (1-1)
Mike's pick: Bills. Mike's lock of the week.
My pick: Bills. Eagles have fifth-ranked defense in NFC but are next to last in the league
in total offense. Bills have won seven of past eight at home and limited Jets to just 190
yards last week. Expect to see more of Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb, who could replace
Doug Pederson if his injured shoulder acts up.
Seattle (1-1) at Pittsburgh (2-0)
Mike's pick: Seahawks. Mike's upset of the week.
My pick: Steelers. Seahawks have looked lethargic first two weeks of season, losing to
Detroit at home and barely getting past poor Bears team last Sunday. Steelers have looked
like world beaters in comparison, destroying Browns 43-0 in Week One before pummeling
Ravens 23-20. Steelers are 45-11 at Three Rivers Stadium under Bill Cowher and have won
three of past four home openers.
Tennessee (2-0) at Jacksonville (2-0)
Mike's pick: Jaguars.
My pick: Titans. Upset of the week, and also probably the closest game of the week.
Visiting team has won seven of eight meetings, with each game decided by eight points or
less. Key injuries run rampant on both sides: Jaguars are missing running back Fred
Taylor, while Titans will be without the services of quarterback Steve McNair.
Washington (1-1) at New York Jets (0-2)
Mike's pick: Redskins.
My pick: Jets. Must-win game for New York, which could fall as many as three games behind
New England and Miami with a loss. Redskins lead league in points scored and posted 50
against Giants on the road last week, but Jets coach Bill Parcells in 7-2 all time against
Washington at the Meadowlands. Interesting stat of the week: the last two teams Parcells
coached that started the season 0-2 -- the 1996 Patriots and last year's Jets team -- made
it to at least the AFC championship game.
New York Giants (1-1) at New England (2-0)
Mike's pick: Patriots.
My pick: Patriots. New York starting cornerbacks Conrad Hamilton and Jason Sehorn still
recovering from knee and hamstring injuries. Lack of Giant pass rush could give Pats QB
Drew Bledsoe plenty of time to pick apart a New York defense that gave up 50 points to
Washington the week before. Giants are also pathetic on offense (30th rushing,
28th overall) and have made just three of 24 third-down conversions.
Monday Night's Game
San Francisco (2-0) at Arizona (1-1)
Mike's pick: Cardinals.
My pick: 49ers. San Francisco owns best record on Monday Night Football this decade at
20-3. Niners will need early start by WR Terrell Owens in order to be successful. Since
joining 49ers in 1996, team is 20-3 when he catches a touchdown pass. Cards QB Jake
Plummer appears to have taken a step back from last season, throwing seven interceptions
in his first two games.
Last Week's Results
The Chump: 8-7
Season Totals to Date
Guest Prognosticators: 18-12 (60.0%)
The Chump: 16-14 (53.3%)
Mike Devitt writes the "Twelfth Man" column for the Indianapolis Star-News
Online. He can be reached by telephone at (714) 841-9696, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.