It’s been a while since Jim Paulsen has picked a winner. He’s missed on his past six picks, allowing colleague David La Vaque, who was 2-1 last week, to blow past him. David is 14-10 on picks, Jim a game back at 13-11. (All games are at 7 p.m.)
MINNETONKA (6-0) AT EDEN PRAIRIE (6-0)
David says: Minnetonka’s offense can run and pass well enough to give Eden Prairie fits. But what about the Skippers’ defense? Last week against Edina, the unit allowed two fourth-down conversions that led to scores and got burned on a quarterback bootleg run for a touchdown. Eden Prairie makes teams pay in both areas.
Pick: Eden Prairie 28, Minnetonka 14
Jim says: I thought defense was Minnetonka’s strength? It still is, but Eden Prairie has the offensive talent and ability to exploit any unit it faces. The Eagles are adept at turning mistakes into points, but even a mistake-free effort by the Skippers is no guarantee of victory. Minnetonka will need the breaks to go its way.
Pick: Eden Prairie 31, Minnetonka 14
MOUND WESTONKA (6-0) at ST. CROIX LUTHERAN (6-0)
David says: Fun fact: Mound Westonka rides a 22-game unbeaten streak in regular-season games. However, the White Hawks haven’t seen an opponent the caliber of St. Croix Lutheran. The Class 3A runner-up Crusaders run the ball with precision and explosiveness that makes the difference.
Pick: St. Croix Lutheran 30, Mound Westonka 17
Jim says: St. Croix Lutheran forces opponents to play disciplined assignment defense. To defeat the Crusaders, a team needs to get enough stops to be able to match them score for score. Mound Westonka has a habit of starting slowly. The White Hawks cannot afford to fall behind.
Pick: St. Croix Lutheran 40, Mound Westonka 20
ANDOVER (5-1) at ELK RIVER (5-1)
David says: Last week, Rogers engineered its upset victory against Elk River through the air, throwing for 227 yards and two scores. That’s bad news for the Elks, who face a more prominent passer in Andover’s Conner Knoepfle. He’s tossed nine touchdowns and no interceptions the past four games.
Pick: Andover 35, Elk River 31
Jim says: Elk River has a remedy — control the ball on the ground, limit possessions and chew clock. The Elks had their 18-game winning streak broken. That’s all the losing they’ll do for a while. Unlike Rogers, Andover has no experience deciphering Elk River’s sleight-of-hand offense
Pick: Elk River 44, Andover 36