“Wichita” Lineman’s NFL picks — week 10
With the esteemed Lineman licking some wounds in his bye week after a tough first half of the season, cousin ‘Wichita’ Lineman has strapped on the pads to join the fray for Week 10.
The crystal pigskin reveals that a couple of underdogs will have bite, dysfunctional quarterback situations produce opposite results and brotherly love will be sorely tested on the gridiron this weekend.
Record: 26-28. Last week: 3-3. Pick of the Week: 3-6
PICK OF THE WEEK:
New York Jets (6-2) at Cleveland Browns (3-5) (Line Jets minus-3): New York head coach Rex Ryan donned a long-haired wig this week to spoof twin brother Rob Ryan, defensive coordinator of the Browns, but this game is no joke to the Jets, whose course to a possible Super Bowl landing could be at stake.
AFC East co-leading Jets have squeaked through to wins in their last two games against the underwhelming Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions while the Browns bounced back from a rotten start to register back-to-back upsets over playoff-bound Saints and Patriots.
Motivation is also high for Cleveland head-coach Eric Mangini, who was fired from New York two years ago to make way for Rex Ryan, and his coach Ryan found ways to neutralise QBs named Brees and Brady in the Browns’ previous two games.
On offense, rookie quarterback Colt McCoy has shown surprising maturity directing a Browns offense that has featured the bruising running of big back Peyton Hillis.
For New York, a positive sign saw second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez shrug off the constraints of their usual conservative approach and lead a hurry-up, fourth-quarter charge to overtake the Lions last week.
It’s time for the Jets to take off. Look for New York’s pressure defense to bamboozle the Browns young quarterback and for Rex to trump Rob in their sibling rivalry.
Get on board the Jets and give the 3 points.
Dallas Cowboys (1-7) at New York Giants (6-2) (Line Giants minus-15.5): The Cowboys finally played badly enough for Dallas owner Jerry Jones to give the heave-ho to nice guy head coach Wade Phillips, and come to the big city with former New York back-up quarterback Jason Garrett as the new boss.
Despite impressive players on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys have played with a lack of passion as their season spiralled out of control after losing starting quarterback Tony Romo.
The Giants, meanwhile, have gotten on a monster roll, with an NFL-leading five wins in a row featuring a ferocious, quarterback-sacking defense and a well-rounded offense under the cool hand of signal caller Eli Manning.
New York always relishes a chance to ride roughshod over NFC East rival Cowboys, but it is hard to imagine their competitive blood boiling after watching game film of the inept performances by Dallas.
Expect the coaching change to inject some life into the Cowboys, who ought to put up a fight against their old rivals and bring some pressure against Big Blue’s makeshift offensive line, beset by injuries.
The Giants will win the game, but Dallas finally shows some semblance of pride. Take the Cowboys and 15.5 points.
Cincinnati (2-6) at Indianapolis (5-3) (Line: Colts minus-8.5): Another tale of two teams gone in opposite directions, with the Peyton Manning-led Colts headed as usual toward the Super Bowl tourney while the Bengals have bumbled to the brink of elimination.
The Bengals, who have offensive weapons but have been undone by sloppy play, threw a late scare into the Steelers before falling 27-21 when their last-ditch pass fell incomplete after they drove within knocking distance of the end zone.
The hobbled Colts were nipped 26-24 by the Eagles last week and injuries continue to mount for Indy with receiver Austin Collie the latest to hit the sidelines with a concussion.
Manning may find a way to get it done throwing to an assortment of inexperienced receivers and handing off to back-up running backs, but Cincinnati is capable of putting points on the board with Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco on the wings.
Is admittedly scary to pick against Peyton, but reckon Colts are in for a close race. Take Bengals and 8.5 points.
Dysfunction Part 1:
Minnesota Vikings (3-5) at Chicago Bears (5-3) (Line: pick ‘em): The running soap opera antics featuring grandad quarterback Brett Favre and coach Brad Childress continue to entertain in Minneapolis.
Favre, keeping his amazing consecutive games streak alive despite broken bones in an ankle, stitches in his chin and an alarming interception rate, likely saved the job of Childress by engineering a heroic comeback victory last week against the Cardinals.
Embattled Childress, who has been the subject of endless speculation about his future after cutting self-absorbed wide receiver Randy Moss without consulting the team owner, joked about Favre after beating Arizona but the punchline fell flat.
“I’m not going to stand here like Brett Favre and tell you….I need a hug. I’m all right,” Childress told reporters.
The at-odds duo will leave their feuding aside when it comes time to battle the Bears, whose defense has been ferocious but whose offensive line has been feeble in protection of quarterback Jay Cutler.
Minnesota desperately needs to win to keep up hopes of overtaking Chicago in a drive for a wildcard playoff berth.
Talent will out and personality conflicts aside, take the visiting Vikings to beat the Bears straight up.
Dysfunction Part 2:
Philadelphia (5-3) at Washington (4-4) (Line: Eagles minus-3): Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan created a firestorm by removing starting quarterback Donovan McNabb two weeks ago against the Lions and inserting back-up Rex Grossman to run the two-minute offense needing a touchdown to win.
Shanahan said McNabb was not in sufficient cardio-vascular condition to run the hurry-up offense, that he was not familiar enough with the drill, that he was still suffering the effects of a nagging hamstring injury – a constantly changing explanation that did nothing to affirm his belief in McNabb.
Grossman fumbled on his first play and that ended that.
Following last weekend’s bye, six-time Pro Bowler McNabb will be back under center for Washington to go up against his former team the Eagles, who moved him out of Philadelphia after a run of 11 season in which he led them to the playoffs eight times including five NFC finals and a Super Bowl appearance.
Don’t see McNabb able to win vindication or the game against the surging Eagles, flying high under the in-form direction of Michael Vick.
Vick was victorious last week against Manning and the Colts using calm judgment, a strong accurate arm and his thrilling foot speed.
Envision more of same against the Redskins. Give the 3.
New England (6-2) at Pittsburgh (6-2) (Line: Steelers minus-4.5): The battle between two of the NFL’s heavyweights will be waged Sunday night with the Patriots coming off a stunning loss to the Cleveland Browns, and the Steelers sighing with relief after hanging on to beat the Cincinnati Bengals.
It is strength against strength between these powerhouses with the Tom Brady offense fueling the Patriots and the brawny defense of the Steelers and hard-hitting Troy Polamalu personifying Pittsburgh’s prowess.
Brady, who missed his first practice of the season on Wednesday due to what the Boston Globe reported as a sprained right foot, is expected to play but could have his hands full against the physical Steelers defense.
Linebacker James Harrison has led the league in fines since the NFL has cracked down on helmet-to-helmet hits and explosive tackles on vulnerable receivers.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been slow to shake the rust since rejoining the team after serving a four-game suspension at the start of the season but he could be poised to break out, particularly if he can find the right mix in utilising running back Rashard Mendenhall.
Although defeat last week to former protege Eric Mangini, now coaching the Browns, must have stung Patriots’ triple Super Bowl winning coach Bill Belichick, the Steelers hold the cards and the homecrowd advantage to win the contest.
It could be tight, but view here is take the Steelers and give the 4.5.
PHOTO: New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez looks for his receiver during the second half of their NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan November 7, 2010. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook