Stump the Chump, Week Three

 


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Mike Devitt -- the Man, the Myth, the Managing Editor

 

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Stump the Chump

Last Article Written: September 23, 1999


Stump the Chump, Week Two: Down, But Far From Out


By Mike Devitt


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 today … 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 game.

Good luck, Mike!

Sunday's Games

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 passes.

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 this week.

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
Dave Wineland:11-4
The Chump: 8-7

Season Totals to Date
Guest Prognosticators: 18-12 (60.0%)
The Chump: 16-14 (53.3%)

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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 elpresidente@mindspring.com.


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