Each Saturday morning during the NFL season, we’ll wake up early, take a hearty cut at predicting the unpredictable league, wince at how it went the week before and ponder the definition of insanity.

These, Vikings fans, are tough times. And when times get tough for some modern NFL  players, irrelevant outside doubters must be trotted out for motivation that’s apparently not found in oversized paychecks.

The Vikings are at home Sunday, where they should beat an underachieving Cardinals team that starts slow, doesn’t always finish well and has beaten three teams (including San Francisco twice) with a combined record of 8-20.

But, folks, this calls for the ultimate in reverse psychological pickfare. So (wink, wink) there’s no way the Vikings will beat the Cardinals at home on Sunday.

Cards 28, Vikes 19.

The start of this game will be interesting. Using evidence from recent starts, it will be the movable object versus the resistible force.

Last week, the Vikings gave up 10 first downs and trailed 14-0 after 18 Redskins snaps. This year, the Cardinals have scored a league-low 14 first-quarter points and are one of only two teams, including Jacksonville, that hasn’t scored on an opening drive.

Let’s skip the first quarter and play three.



Cardinals minus-1/2 at Vikings: The pick: Cardinals 28, Vikings 19

Why?: No idea. I like the home team in a close matchup like this. But I’d also like to see the Vikings, you know, win a game first before picking them to win another game.

LAST WEEK: Vikings plus-2 1/2 at Redskins: The pick: Vikings 24, Redskins 23. The result: Redskins 26, Vikings 20. Record: 4-5.


Steelers minus-7 at Browns: The Pick: Cleveland 28, Steelers 27

Why?: I’m not coming off this ledge until the Browns triumphantly avoid the second 0-16 season in league history. Visions of chanting “We’re not No. 32 in every single useless NFL Power Rankings!” are dancing in the heads of all Clevelanders. Whoever the quarterback and head coach are this week, we believe in them 110 percent.

LAST WEEK: Packers minus-2 1/2 at Titans: The pick: Titans 27, Packers 24. The result: Titans 47, Packers 25. Record: 3-6.

Record: 63-46-2

Vs. spread: 53-58

Buccaneers plus-7 1/2 at Chiefs: Chiefs by 10

Jaguars plus-6 1/2 at Lions: Lions by 1

Bears plus-7 1/2 at Giants: Giants by 21

Ravens plus-7 1/2 at Cowboys:  Cowboys by 3

Titans plus-2 1/2 at Colts: Titans by 7

Bills plus-3 1/2 at Bengals: Bills by 3

Dolphins plus-1/2 at Rams:  Rams by 1

Patriots minus-13 1/2 at 49ers: Patriots by 28

Eagles plus-6 1/2 at Seahawks: Seahawks by 7

Packers plus-2 1/2 at Redskins: Redskins by 10

Texans plus-5 1/2 at Raiders: Raiders by 14

CRAIG’S LIST: NFL Power Rankings

1, Seahawks (6-2-1)

2, Cowboys (8-1)

3, Patriots (7-2)

4, Chiefs (7-2)

5, Raiders (7-2)

6, Broncos (7-3)

7, Giants (6-3)

8, Eagles (5-4)

9, Falcons (6-4)

10, Lions (5-4)

11, Dolphins (5-4)

12, Ravens (5-4)

13, Bills (4-5)

14, Texans (6-3)

15, Redskins (5-3-1)

16, Panthers (4-6)

17, Saints (4-6)

18, Titans (5-5)

19, Colts (4-5)

20, Vikings (5-4)

21, Cardinals (4-4-1)

22, Steelers (4-5)

23, Packers (4-5)

24, Rams (4-5)

25, Buccaneers (4-5)

26, Chargers (4-6)

27, Bengals (3-5-1)

28, Jets (3-7)

29, Bears (2-7)

30, Jaguars (2-7)

31, 49ers (1-8)

32, Browns (0-10)

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