What a way to start the season. At the end of 14
games last week, contestant Earl Phillips and I were left deadlocked at seven wins and
seven losses apiece. Only after Monday night's game, a 38-21 win by the Miami Dolphins
over the Denver Broncos, did The Chump emerge victorious and avoid starting out the season
on a down note.
It doesn't get any easier for yours truly this week, however, as local radio
personality Dave Wineland attempts to match wits with yours truly. A disc
jockey-slash-production director at QMIX (107.3 FM) in Columbus, Indiana, and a Colts
season ticket holder for the past 12 year, Dave's only hope -- according to his most
recent e-mail -- is to "do better on my picks this week than I did last week."
That makes two of us.
So without further ado, it's time to see if Dave can stump the chump. Listed below are
Dave's picks for each of this week's games, followed by my own picks and a small
commentary on each game.
Good luck, Dave!
Indianapolis at New England
Dave's pick: Patriots.
My pick: Colts. New England may have won the last six games in this series, but this
isn't the same Colts defense that gave up nearly 26 points per game those last six
contests. And this isn't the same New England offense, with virtually no running game and
a pair of offensive linemen (Zefross Moss and Heath Irwin) nursing injuries.
Arizona at Miami
Dave's pick: Dolphins. Dave's first lock of the week.
My pick: Dolphins. Too many weapons on offense (and defense) for Miami, and not
enough on either side for Arizona. Cards were lucky to escape with a 25-24 win over Eagles
last week. They won't have such luck this week against the Dolphins, who have won 14 of
their past 17 at home, including the past five home openers.
Cleveland at Tennessee
Dave's pick: Titans.
My pick: Titans. Lock of the week. The Browns managed just 40 yards of total offense
in their 1999 debut last week, getting whacked by the Steelers 43-0. It won't get any
easier, as they play their first road game against a Titan defense that allowed just 69
rushing yards and had four takeaways. Welcome to the NFL, Tim Couch.
Denver at Kansas City
Dave's pick: Broncos.
My pick: Chiefs. Look for Warren Moon to make his Kansas City debut some time in
the second half. Also look for him to lead the Chiefs to an upset over a Bronco team that
looked flat, out of sync, and could be working on the beginnings of a mutiny against head
coach Mike Shanahan.
Green Bay at Detroit
Dave's pick: Packers.
My pick: Lions. Who needs Barry Sanders? The Lions don't -- not at this point, anyway.
Ron Rivers ran for a career-high 96 yards against the Seahawks last week. If he can
duplicate that feat this week, it'll open up the passing lanes for Charlie Batch, who
shredded the Pack for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns when these teams met last
Jacksonville at Carolina
Dave's pick: Jaguars.
My pick: Panthers. Upset of the week. Call this one a hunch. Jacksonville isn't as
good as their 41-3 trouncing of the 49ers might suggest, and the Panthers aren't as bad as
their 19-10 loss to the Saints indicates. Injuries to Bryce Paup, Bryan Schwartz and Fred
Taylor certainly won't help Jacksonville's cause, either.
New Orleans at San Francisco
Dave's pick: 49ers. Dave's second lock of the week.
My pick: 49ers. Since 1986, San Francisco has never lost a game in which they lost the
previous game by 14 points or more. Or to put it another way: Billie Joe Tolliver vs.
Steve Young. Who would you pick?
Oakland at Minnesota
Dave's pick: Vikings. Dave's third lock of the week.
My pick: Vikings. Between Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Charles Woodson and Erik Allen,
this game will feature more trash talking than a Charles Barkley press conference. Look
for Minnesota to open up the offense and exploit the passing game, which managed just 184
yards against the Falcons in last week's season opener.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Dave's pick: Steelers.
My pick: Steelers. Last week, the Steelers destroyed the "new" Browns
43-0; this week, they get to do the same to the old Baltimore version. Hard to pick
against a team that allowed just 40 yards of offense. Baltimore fans, this might be a good
time to alphabetize your spice racks.
San Diego at Cincinnati
Dave's pick: Chargers.
My pick: Chargers. Last year's top-ranked defense travels to Cynergy Field to take
on a Bengal team that racked up 398 yards against the Titans in their season opener.
Matchup of the day will be the Chargers' run defense against Cincinnati running back Corey
Dillon. The Chargers didn't allow a 100-yard rusher in all of 1998; Dillon and the Bengals
ran for 201 yards last Sunday.
Seattle at Chicago
Dave's pick: Seahawks.
My pick: Bears. Dog of the week. Hard to believe, but after one week, the Bears are
still tied for first place in the NFC Central. They'll somehow manage to continue that
streak this Sunday against a disappointing Seattle team that managed just 31 yards rushing
and was thoroughly outplayed by the Lions in a 28-20 loss last weekend.
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia
Dave's pick: Buccaneers. Dave's dog of the week.
My pick: Eagles. Merge the rosters of these two clubs and you might get a team that
will win eight games this season. Tampa Bay's offense is the second coming of the 1991
Colts; Philadelphia's defense isn't far behind. When was the last time there was a
scoreless tie in the NFL?
Washington at New York Giants
Dave's pick: Giants.
My pick: Giants. Giants have a great defense (four INTs and five takeaways against
Tampa Bay) but very little offense; Redskins have a powerful offense but no defense (Troy
Aikman passed for career highs of 362 yards and five touchdowns last week). Giants get the
edge at home. If Washington loses this game, look for new owner Daniel Snyder to cause
heads to roll by the end of the month.
New York Jets at Buffalo
Dave's pick: Bills.
My pick: Bills. Five words: Jets starting quarterback Rick Mirer. Need I say more?
Monday Night's Game
Atlanta at Dallas
Dave's pick: Falcons. Dave's upset of the week.
My pick: Falcons. If there's such a thing as a must-win game this early in the season,
it's this Monday's game for Atlanta. A loss would drop the Falcons to 0-2, the same number
of losses they had all season. With Chris Chandler's injury, look for Jamal Anderson to
shoulder the brunt of the work on offense for Atlanta early on to set up the team's
Last Week's Results
Earl Phillips: 7-8
The Chump 8-7
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.