Note: Every week, I pick games against the spread on the Michael Irvin Show on ESPN Radio, and I'm putting them on our blog.
I have generally found success predicting the NFL when I focus on picking underdogs to win games or cover. But this week is the week I think some clarity comes to the NFL landscape; So, of course, I'm going with four favorites. (My pick in bold.)
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers -5
The injuries on offense for the Seahawks are troubling, but equally as troubling are the Niners' injuries in the secondary. This is a vibe pick for me: I think the 49ers fired Nolan before the bye week because they didn't want to fire him after a win, and I think that's what they're going to get.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers -4
When West Coast teams play at 1pm on the East Coast, they're getting up at 4am according to their body clocks. That's a lot to overcome. Julius Peppers has stepped up into a leadership role, and the Panthers have responded with the No. 2 pass defense in the League. My guess: Kurt Warner doesn't finish this game.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles -9
Matt Ryan, meet Jim Johnson. Or rather, meet the Lincoln Financial Field turf. The Falcons have played two top-10 defenses this season, both on the road, and lost both games, 24-9. Against Jim Johnson's blitz schemes, Matt Ryan should have a very rough day.
Cleveland Browns +7 at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags' No. 2 rush offense from last season is No. 14 this year. Why? Their offensive line and injuries up and down it. They may get Meester and Naeole back, but they still haven't had a game all season that was decided by more than 7 points.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys -1
Despite how badly the Cowboys have been playing, I am thinking they win one for the Gipper (i.e., Wade Philips) this week. No analysis, just a hunch.
Last Week: 5-1. Season: 22-16-1