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B. Duane Cross


In the two-plus years of writing the Weekend Pickoff, I've penned picks based on song titles, '80s movies, books, the birth of a friend's daughter. I've even talked football in a few of these.

This week, there's more than meets the eye. More than an 18-game winning streak. Or 29 consecutive games with a TD pass. Or getting off the schneid to end the league's longest current losing streaks.

Christina Zitterich and Jason Schoellen, a friend and co-worker, are gettin' hitched Saturday. And those of you who know Jason grasp that he's "marrying up," as we like to say down here where the tea is sweet, the green beans are cooked and the tomatoes are served raw.

So without further ado, best wishes for a lifetime of love songs:

(And a few football thoughts for the hardliners ...)'s B. Duane Cross weighs in with his NFL forecast.
Week 5 -- All Times Eastern
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Preview | Matchup
Detroit at Atlanta
Just smile for me and let the day begin
You are the sunshine that lights my heat within
I'm sure that you're an angel in disguise
Come take my hand and together we will rise

  • Expectations for the Lions were on the rise after ending their 24-game road losing streak, but it'll be déjà vu all over again about 4 p.m. Sunday.
    Atlanta 24, Lions 14
    Sunday, 1 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Tampa Bay at New Orleans
    All my thoughts seem to settle on the breeze
    When I'm lying wrapped up in your arms
    The whole world just fades away
    The only thing I hear
    Is the beating of your heart

  • The Bucs are tied (with Buffalo) for the longest losing streak in the league (0-fer-6), so with the playoffs a pipe dream, starting Chris Simms is a good move.
    Saints 21, Buccaneers 14
    Sunday, 1 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Oakland at Indianapolis
    Someday when I'm awfully low
    When the world is cold
    I will feel a glow
    Just thinking of you
    And the way you look tonight

  • The Colts' offense proved last week it can adapt to playing on grass, but back on turf its speed will be the difference against the sloth-like Raiders D.
    Colts 31, Raiders 21
    Sunday, 1 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Minnesota at Houston
    One more night, one more night
    I've been trying ooh so long to let you know
    Let you know how I feel
    And if I stumble if I fall, just help me back
    So I can make you see

  • If you're looking for an upset, this is a prime candidate. The Texans' offense is rounding into form, while the Vikings' defense is wobbly -- at best.
    Texans 21, Vikings 17
    Sunday, 1 p.m.
    Preview | Preview
    N.Y. Giants at Dallas
    Now, all my hopes and all my dreams
    Are suddenly reality
    You've opened up my heart to feel
    A kind of love that's truly real
    A guiding light that will never fade
    There's not a thing in life that I would ever trade
    For the love you give and won't let go
    I hope you'll always know

  • Vinny Testaverde is averaging one TD pass for every 38 passes and 297 yards? ... Those numbers could improve against the Giants' secondary.
    Cowboys 24, Giants 20
    Sunday, 1 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Cleveland at Pittsburgh
    Could this be the greatest love of all
    I wanna know that you will catch me when I fall
    So let me tell you this
    Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this

  • Jerome Bettis' five TDs are only two shy of his total from last season -- in 228 fewer carries. The Big 3 should learn to conserve fuel as efficently.
    Steelers 24, Browns 17
    Sunday, 1 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Miami at New England
    How do I
    Get through one night without you
    If I had to live without you
    What kind of life would that be?
    Oh I, I need you in my arms
    Need you to hold
    Your my world my heart my soul
    If you ever leave
    Baby you would take away everything good in my life.

  • Are there any superlatives left in Roget's repertoire to describe the Patriots' 18-game winning streak? We've heard 'em all, except for 'fantasmo,' maybe.
    Patriots 17, Dolphins 9
    Sunday, 1 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Jacksonville at San Diego
    Rollin' at sea, adrift on the water
    Could it be finally I'm turning for home?
    Finally, a chance to say hey,
    I love you
    Never again to be all alone

  • Drew Brees' passer rating is 95.5, which ranks above the likes of Joey Harrington and Jake Plummer, but you don't hear about them losing their job ...
    Jaguars 21, Chargers 17
    Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Buffalo at N.Y. Jets
    I am the man who will fight for your honor
    I'll be the hero that you're dreaming of
    We're gonna live forever knowing together
    That we did it all for the glory of love

  • Be careful what you wish for, Jets fans. The last time the team began 4-0, it finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Not that history repeats itself.
    Jets 24, Bills 14
    Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Carolina at Denver
    Somehow ever since I've been around you
    Can't go back to being on my own
    Can't help feeling darling since I've found you
    That I've found my home
    That I'm finally home

  • Stephen Davis' return would do wonders for the Panthers, but rookie receiver Keary Colbert needs to step up and be a go-to target down the field.
    Broncos 28, Panthers 21
    Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Arizona at San Francisco
    There's no love -- like your love
    And no other -- could give more love
    There's nowhere -- unless you're there
    All the time -- all the way

  • Last week the Cardinals played up to their competition in KO'ing the Saints. Now on the road, we'll see if they play above the competition.
    Cardinals 24, 49ers 20
    Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    St. Louis at Seattle
    I need to know that you will always be
    The same old someone that I knew
    What will it take 'till you believe in me
    The way that I believe in you

  • Is it time we dubbed the Seahawks' defense? Some of the great ones had a nickname: Steel Curtain, Purple People Eaters. How about the Shore Patrol?
    Seahawks 35, Rams 24
    Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Baltimore at Washington
    Now I know it's right, from the moment I wake up till deep in the night
    There's nowhere on earth that I'd rather be than holding you tenderly

  • Remember Clinton Portis' 64-yarder on his first carry? Well, he's now averaging 4.0 ypg -- the same as noted ground-gainer Mike Alstott.
    Ravens 20, Redskins 14
    Monday, 9 p.m.
    Preview | Matchup
    Tennessee at Green Bay
    And ever since the day
    You put my heart in motion
    Baby, I realize that there's
    Just no getting over you

  • The Packers' D-line is in such shambles that the team has re-signed Larry Smith. C'mon, Larry Smith? I just saw him walking to the Headline News set!
    Packers 21, Titans 17
  • Last week: 7-7 (50%). Overall: 35-25 (58%). Bye: Bears, Bengals, Chiefs and Eagles

    B. Duane Cross is a senior producer for

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