These are the picks that try mens souls. There are a ton of 4-3, 3-4, 5-3 teams and not a lot of separation between them. Is Dallas better than Cleveland or Washington? Probably, but we don't know for sure. Are the Bills really better than the Jets? DVOA disagrees. Can the Chiefs really win the AFC West? All good reasons why my picks are scattershot. I'm just hoping to stay above .500.
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins: I'd say Philly gave teams a blueprint on how to beat Washington's blitzing scheme on defense, but not every team can do the things Philadelphia can. For instance, Michael Vick isn't nearly as mobile nor is the Niners' receiver corps as good as the Eagles. Still, the Niners will play good enough defense to shut down the Washington offense. Pick: San Fran 21, Washington 10
Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans: Will Andre Johnson be back for this one? Is that question as annoying to everyone else as it is to me? The Cleveland pass defense is actually pretty good and I expect Joe Haden to be matched up on AJ if he plays. That means Johnson sure better be healthy if the Texans expect big things from him. I'd give the Texans running game an edge over what the Browns will do against Wade Phillips' scheme. Pick: Houston 27, Cleveland 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints: As much as I'd like to think the St. Louis Rams just gave the league a blueprint to deal with New Orleans, that was half pressure and half a bad game for the Saints. Don't expect that to continue, especially since the Bucs are down to starting an injured LeGarrette Blount at running back.Pick: New Orleans 31, Tampa Bay 24
Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts: Do you know why Julio Jones is rumored to be playing this week? He can't wait to face that banged-up Colts defense. Indy has been absolutely torched through the air, which should lead to some good things for Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez in this one. Plus, Michael Turner should get plenty of carries in the second half once the Falcons are up big. Pick: Atlanta 34, Indianapolis 6
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills: One team is supposed to be better than they've been. One wasn't ever supposed to be this good in the first place. Is this the game when things start turning around? I'd say yes, but I still can't buy intoMark Sanchez and that receiving corps. Pick: Buffalo 19, New York 14
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys: If this game were in Seattle, I'd be more tempted to take the Seahawks. Dallas definitely laid an egg last week against the Eagles, but they couldn't have a better opponent to get back on the right track. Pick: Dallas 23, Seattle 10
Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans: It's crazy that I feel better about a team with a rookie quarterback (coming off a lockout-shortened offseason), a rookie wideout and a running back who was in jail this season than I do about a team with a playoff tested veteran at QB and a 2,000 yard rusher at RB. But, I do. Pick: Cincinnati 27, Tennessee 7
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders: Whoo, boy. This game is going to be good no matter what the quality of the teams involved. Tim Tebow will be on display along with Carson Palmer. If this were 2007, that matchup would be a lot more meaningful...Pick: Oakland 20, Denver 17
New York Giants at New England Patriots: The mark of a good coach isn't how well his team plays in a given week. Good coaches get their team ready to play the week after a dispiriting loss. Bill Belichick can do that and has done it in the past. I wonder, though, if New England has the horses this year to be that kind of team. Pick: New England 35, New York 21
Green Bay Packers at San Diego Chargers: Do you want to know a sneaky fact about the 2011 Green Bay Packers? Their defense has been vulnerable. The Packers are giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season and are facing one in Phillip Rivers who needs some redemption. Count Vincent Jackson in that group too, as he’s had a pitiful three-game stretch. You also know the Packers will put up points, like they have all season. That means this one could be a high-scoring shootout, which is good for fantasy owners everywhere. Pick: Green Bay 27, San Diego 21
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals: This is the start of a rebound for the Rams. It's their year and it started with the Saints game. This week, they'll shut down the Cardinals and continue a long-term winning streak. Or, they'll revert to being a bad team and this one will get ugly fast. I still think St. Louis can win that game. Pick: St. Louis 28, Arizona 24
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers: Much like the Denver/Oakland game, but with talented teams. The Pittsburgh defense is going to be banged up and the Steelers will struggle to move the ball on Baltimore like they did on the Pats. That's why I give a slight edge to the Ravens. Pick: Baltimore 24, Pittsburgh 23.
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles should not blow out Chicago like they did Dallas. It'll also be an interesting matchup between two very good running backs that excel at catching balls out of the backfield more than they're known as pure runners. When in doubt, go with the better QB and that's Michael Vick. Pick: Philadelphia 31, Chicago 21