October 26, 2007

Roger Goodell's NFL-in-London experiment is finally here, and so far both the Giants and Dolphins have experienced their share of culture shock. Right off the bat Cleo Lemon had to deal with the soccer-crazed city referring to him only as "Lemondo", while Michael Strahan got to enjoy having above average teeth for once. Things have even been different for Tom Coughlin. When compared with 17th century English monarchs the Giants coach is considered lenient and compassionate.The game is already a big deal in London -- it's so big, in fact, that in order to keep a low profile Plaxico Burress has been pretending he's a British basketball player -- but the real test for the NFL will come when the Liverpool-Arsenal match begins an hour before kickoff. Will Londoners still be willing to queue up outside dodgy pubs to watch the rubbish Dolphins defense after Steven Gerrard and Cesc Fabregas step onto the pitch? Only time will tell. For now, let's move onto the picks.New York Giants at Miami (-9.5): Despite the fact that everything in London closes at 11 p.m, the city is proving to be a big distraction for Eli Manning. The Giants quarterback has already skipped three team meetings so he could spend all day riding the London Eye. Pick: MiamiPittsburgh at Cincinnati (+3.5): This week the Steelers unveiled a 75th anniversary "All-Time" team that includes both past greats and current Steelers such as Hines Ward, Alan Faneca and Casey Hampton. Also unveiled this week was the much less publicized "pretend it never happened" anniversary team headed by Kordell Stewart and Kent Graham. Pick: CincinnatiDetroit at Chicago (-5): After last week's win the Lions gave coach Rod Marinelli the first Gatorade shower of his career. The occasion? The Lions improved to 4-2 and secured sole possession of second place in the NFC North. I won't reveal what the Lions plan to do to Marinelli if they win this week, but let's just say it involves six cases of Milwaukee's Best, a Swedish masseuse, John Mellencamp and an Amazon.com gift card. Pick: ChicagoOakland at Tennessee (-7.5): When Warren Moon saw his old Oilers franchise blow a 25-point second half lead he immediately began having painful Frank Reich flashbacks. Fortunately the Titans won the game and Moon made a full recovery. Pick: TennesseeIndianapolis at Carolina (+6.5): There's no good reason why this spread isn't at least a touchdown higher. That means Frankie "Four Fingers" or whoever is setting the line in Vegas knows something nobody else knows. Did David Carr's back injury improve his throwing? Is Peyton Manning suffering from severe indigestion? I don't know, but don't be surprised if the Panthers keep it close. Pick: CarolinaCleveland at St. Louis (+3): After losing a bet on last week's USC-Notre Dame game Brady Quinn was forced to don a Trojans jersey for a television interview. It was an embarrassing moment for Quinn, but I'm sure it was a nice change of pace to wear the jersey of a team for which he's good enough to start. Pick: St. LouisPhiladelphia at Minnesota (+1): Vikings coach Brad Childress once again spent all week defending his conservative use of Adrian Peterson. He believes that Peterson still needs to improve on certain areas of his game, and I for one agree with Childress. Peterson doesn't hand the ball to the referee quickly enough after long touchdown runs, and the manner in which he carries veteran's equipment leaves something to be desired. Pick: PhiladelphiaHouston at San Diego (-9.5): Chris Chambers is eager to catch a touchdown pass in his first game with the Chargers. As a result he's been spending extra time catching passes from the team's touchdown throwing machine -- LaDainian Tomlinson. Pick: San DiegoBuffalo at New York Jets (-3): The NFL has decided to cut the allotted time for making first round draft picks from 15 minutes to10 minutes. Although the decision won't lead to any drastic changes for NFL teams, the announcement already has ESPN scrambling to shorten its lengthy montages of Jets draft blunders. Pick: BuffaloJacksonville at Tampa Bay (-3.5): Quinn Gray's numbers last week: 9-24, 56 yards, 2 interceptions. On the plus side, his strong arm makes him really good at football-themed carnival games. Pick: Tampa BayWashington at New England (-16.5): The odds on the Redskins winning this game are about 12-1. For those unfamiliar with gambling, it's normally not a good sign when a team is given the same chance of winning as a Kentucky Derby longshot. Fortunately, the spirit of Barbaro will guide the Redskins in their quest to cover the spread. Pick: WashingtonNew Orleans at San Francisco (+1): Reggie Bush silenced some critics by battering his way into the endzone on a hard-fought game winning touchdown catch last week. Bush felt the catch-and-run was so impressive it would have earned him at least a $50,000 bonus if he was still at USC. Pick: New OrleansGreen Bay at Denver (-3): The Broncos are 3-3 despite being outscored by nearly 10 points a game. Mike Shanahan isn't too concerned though; after all, the Diamondbacks rode the "getting outscored" strategy all the way to a division title. Pick: Green BayLast Week: 6-8Season: 52-42-8Got something to say to Eric? E-mail him at extramustardnflpicks@gmail.com

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