What would you rather do on a Saturday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?
CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Broncos (6-0)
Why: Although he’s completing 74.2 percent of his passes, perhaps Peyton Manning can let one of them slip off line just enough to enter the owner’s box at Lucas Oil Stadium and whap Jim Irsay upside his ungrateful head when the Broncos visit Indianapolis and the stadium that Peyton built.
2. Seahawks (6-1); 3. Patriots (5-1); 4. Saints (5-1); 5. Chiefs (6-0); 6. 49ers (4-2); 7. Bengals (4-2); 8. Packers (3-2); 9. Lions (4-2); 10. Bears (4-2); 11. Chargers (3-3); 12. Cowboys (3-3); 13. Ravens (3-3); 14. Colts (4-2); 15. Dolphins (3-2); 16. Rams (3-3); 17. Titans (3-3); 18. Eagles (3-3); 19. Browns (3-3); 20. Cardinals (3-4); 21. Raiders (2-4); 22. Panthers (2-3); 23. Steelers (1-4); 24. Jets (3-3); 25. Bills (2-4); 26. Falcons (1-4); 27. Redskins (1-4); 28. Texans (2-4).
29. Vikings 1-4 (Last week: 25): One more loss against the winless Giants on Monday and this is officially the part of the movie where the glass in the sinking diver’s underwater helmet begins to explode.
THE REST OF THE REST
30. Giants (0-6); 31. Buccaneers (0-5).
WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Jaguars (0-6): The Jaguars have a new battlecry following a spirited game against the No. 1 Broncos: “We only lost by 16!” One superior slip by the Giants or Bucs this week could even lead to chants of “We’re No. 31” in Jacksonville.
Vikings plus-3 ½ at Giants: Giants 21, Vikings 14: It might be flawed thinking (see record picking Vikings games below), but I’ll take even a struggling Eli Manning at home in his 142nd consecutive start as opposed to Josh Freeman on the road in his first consecutive start after a grand total of four practices with the Vikings’ first-team offense.
Last week: Panthers plus-2 at Vikings. The pick: Vikings 27, Panthers 21. The final: Panthers 35, Vikings 10. Record: 1-4, 0-5 vs. the spread.
Patriots minus 3 ½ at Jets: Jets 19, Patriots 16.
Why?: The up-and-down Jets are in their up week. They played loose and aggressively two weeks ago (and knocked a certain disgruntled prognosticator out of his knockout pool with an upset win at Atlanta). Then they lost at home against a winless Steelers team last week. The Jets also played the Patriots close in a 13-10 loss at New England in Week 2. The Patriots are coming off a comeback win over New Orleans in the closing seconds. Normally, that would leave them exposed to a normal NFL-style letdown the following week. But Bill Belichick is the antidote to the normal nonsensical ebbs and flows of week-to-week NFL parity. So, in other words, this basically is a wild guess.
Last week: Saints plus 1 ½ at Patriots. The pick: Saints 34, Patriots 31 OT. The final: Patriots 30, Saints 27. Record: 0-6.
Chargers minus-7 ½ at Jaguars: Chargers by 3.
Texans plus-6 ½ at Chiefs: Chiefs by 7.
Bengals plus-2 ½ at Lions: Bengals by 3.
Bills plus-7 ½ at Dolphins: Dolphins by 10.
Bears pick at Redskins: Bears by 3.
Cowboys plus-3 at Eagles: Cowboys by 3.
Rams plus-6 ½ at Panthers: Panthers by 3.
Bucs plus-7 at Falcons: Falcons by 3.
49ers minus-4 at Titans: 49ers by 7.
Browns plus-10 at Packers: Packers by 14.
Ravens plus-2 at Steelers: Steelers by 3.
Broncos minus-6 ½ at Colts: Broncos by 14.
Record: Last week: 9-4; 8-5 vs. the spread. Overall: 43-42 (OVER .500! ... And, yeah, I know that's not a big deal when you're picking straight up); 31-52-2 vs. the spread.