Alex Welch has left the country and is currently seeking asylum in Cuba, so I'm handling picks this week. Get pumped.
Falcons-Seahawks (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. on FOX)
"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" - Ozymandias
It's unanimous: all of us believe the Falcons will lose, at home, to the Seattle Seahawks.
Yes, the Seahawks barely beat the winless Bucs in overtime last week. But much of that was the product of a desperate coach pulling out all the stops for his desperate football team, and even then Seattle managed to pull itself together and come back from a 21-0 deficit.
Their secondary is perhaps the best in the game. Their only loss came on the road against the Colts. And I'm sure Pete Carroll has reminded his team all week who kicked them out of the playoffs last year. Atlanta might keep things close for a time, but the Seahawks will eventually, inevitably pull away this Sunday.
And to think where this team was last year.
Redskins-Vikings (Thursday, 8:25 p.m. on NFL Network)
Most are going with the 'Skins after they pulled off a miraculous overtime win at home over the Chargers.
The trick with Washington is that you never know which team will show up on a given week: sometimes you get the one that beat Chicago, sometimes you get the one that's gone 3-5 through the first half of 2013.
I'm going with the Vikings, who put up a real fight against Dallas last weekend and who still possess the one and only A.P., All Day Adrian Peterson. Even Christian Ponder should be able to pass a little tonight against Washington's porous defense.
Panthers-49ers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. on FOX)
The Panthers have gotten on something of a roll, winning four straight after starting the year 1-3. But then you look at the schedule: Minnesota, St. Louis, Tampa and (ha) Atlanta.
That Carolina defense has been playing pretty lights out, but the 49ers have been just as good on that side of the ball, own the No. 1 rushing attack in the league and are coming off their bye week. Not so sure this young Panthers team can handle that.
I guess Caleb decided to play the brave soul and pick Carolina, though I'm not totally sure why... wait, doesn't he live in North Carolina? OMG HE SECRETLY LIKES THE PANTHERS, GRAB YOUR PITCHFORKS!
Cowboys-Saints (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. on NBC)
Though 5-4, Dallas has lost a number of close games (3 by 3 points or less) to some good teams (Chiefs, Broncos, Lions). As counter-intuitive as it sounds, it might be easy to overlook the Cowboys going into this game.
But their secondary is also about as porous as a pound of swiss cheese, and begrudgingly, we all admit what Drew Brees and Sean Payton can accomplish on a weekly basis. The Aints are at home coming off a close loss on the road to the surprising Jets, and hey I wonder if Rob Ryan knows anything about the Cowboys. Hmm...
Dave's the lone guy going with Dallas, which - as I said before - is not unreasonable. We'll see if Romo & Co. can keep pace with our favorite NyQuil-loving Saints QB.
Dolphins-Buccaneers (Monday, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN)
Schiano men never give in. Ever.
Man, what exec thought this would make for an exciting Monday night game during the off-season? I'd wager that even after their near colossal upset over Seattle, the Bucs still lose this one. They'll find a way.
We're not Schiano men, nor could we ever be. So we'll pick against them and wait until they prove us wrong.
**Note: James probably drank too much and thus did not send in his picks. Thus, his picks were decided by coin flip. Was really hoping he'd get stuck with the Bucs, but somehow he landed all the favorites.**