Oakland and Pittsburgh are two teams heading in opposite directions of late. The Steelers have struggled, losing to the Patriots at home last week and barely getting by Cincinnati the week before after having started hot in September. Oakland struggled early but has won three in a row. The Steelers and Raiders had a fearsome rivalry in the 1970s but their games since have lacked the passion of the classic period. The Steelers really need to reignite that passion, and they need a big performance from Troy Polamalu, who has had some Achilles tendon problems this week. Ben Roethlisberger and the offense need to get in sync early and keep the Raider offense off the field. I’ll pick the Steelers, 22-14.
Last week was a debacle; I went 2-4, and I had to rely on the Bills for one of those wins. I’m now 33-28, and I’m traveling, so I’m hoping that I turn this around by the time I get home:
- Lions at Cowboys – The Cowboys have suddenly begun to play again, and the Lions are winless on the road. Dallas is coming off a big upset win against the Giants, while the Lions lost to the Bills. I’ll pick the ‘Boys to stretch the Jason Garrett era to 2-0 with a 31-14 win.
- Packers at Vikings – Brett Favre gets his deep threat back as Sidney Rice returns, but the Packers are fighting for the division lead. The Pack usually has trouble in the Metrodome, and they’ve lost a couple they should have won this season. Still, the Packers are a lot more consistent this season, and their defense played a terrific game against Favre the last time. The Pack should win this one, 27-21.
- Giants at Eagles – The Giants looked terrible against the Cowboys, and the Eagles demolished the Redskins last week. I can’t imagine that the two teams would change dramatically enough from a week ago to let the Giants beat Philly. Eagles will win this one, 33-27.
- Broncos at Chargers – This week’s Monday night game probably looked like a great scheduling coup before the start of the season. Now both teams are on the verge of irrelevance. San Diego has more talent in play, and I’d look for the Chargers to put together a complete effort at home. Chargers over Broncos, 28-20.
- Colts at Patriots – I almost never pick against Peyton Manning, but New England and Tom Brady looked pretty tough against the Steelers last week. The Patriots haven’t lost at home, while the Colts are 2-3 on the road. Look for a big game from the Patriot defense and a couple of Brady TDs in a 26-17 win.