Every once in a while you close your eyes and you can see a big board registering a final score. It's so vivid that you even forget that it's in the future. Thus, I close my eyes and see the scoreboard in Giants Stadium this Sunday, and it says, JETS 24, DOLPHINS 17. And in the parking lot after the game, happy fans are lighting up their kielbasas and playing catch with oversized meatballs, and it's a happy frolic all around.
There's only one problem: This pick defies all logic. The Jets went south on both sides of the ball against Kansas City on Sunday. The Dolphins, showing life and verve and a real willingness to battle hard for their new coach, Nick Saban, scored the day's most shocking upset (unless you count the 49ers upending the Rams), running one up on the Broncos. So how, under God's blue sky, can I pick the Jets in this one?
First reason: They're traditional rivals. The Jets don't seem to like the Dolphins very much. They play 'em tough.
Second reason, and this is what's known as a formula pick, according to a formula of my own creation: Based on what happened last weekend, the Jets shouldn't logically be favored at all. Or if you feel that home field advantage is that important, you might make them a very small favorite. But lo and behold, New York is one of the heavier overlays of the week (six-point favorites on Monday). It's as if Vegas is begging investors to come on strong for the Dolphins. This I don't like. I don't like to be steered in any direction. So I'm going against logic and taking the Jets.
"Wise-guy thinking--going against what looks most logical," Sonny Reisner, the oddsmaker at the Castaways in Vegas, once told me. "You think we don't have our share of wise guys out here? Come on out and play your formula.... I'll have a limo pick you up at the airport."
I'm on the upset wagon this season and can't get off. I've got three for you this week. TheSaints keep it going against the Giants in the Meadowlands in the added Monday-nighter. Always ride the hot team, in this case a team whose emotions are running high. TheBills win in Tampa Bay. I think J.P. Losman's been given the straight talk: Play it careful. Don't mess things up for our defense, which is one of the best in the league. He's a smart kid. He listens. And the third? You'll never guess. At first glance at the slate of games, this one barely caught my eye. But the more I think about it, the more I feel that Daunte Culpepper will return to form this Sunday. Thus the Vikings upset the Bengals.
I'll take the Patriots over the Panthers. It seems logical that New England will stay with the 4-3 defense that destroyed the Raiders last Thursday night. The fourth lineman, Jarvis Green, who came off the bench, is better than either of the Pats' two inside linebackers, one of whom had to sit. Last year I thought Green was the best player on the field against the Steelers in the AFC title game, and I guess the club must have thought a lot of him too because Green was given a new five-year contract, worth $18 million. Not bad for a guy who has been a career backup.
Wow, San Diego is a tempting pick over the Broncos in Denver, where the Chargers have lost their last five. Do I have the guts? Why not? San Diego in an upset, which is number 4. The Rams held the ball forever and still lost to the 49ers, but I figure St. Louis will straighten itself out against the Cardinals. Detroit wins in Chicago, Kansas City wins in unfriendly Oakland, and in the other Monday-nighter Dallas takes Washington, although the Skins always seem to play the Cowboys tough in showcase games. -- Paul Zimmerman
Last week: 6-3 Season: 6-3