Everybody seems to be talking about this week's big game between the Colts and Patriots, but there is another subject that has been the discussion all week. One of the big questions right now is whether the Patriots have been running up the score on their opponents this year. The answer is quite simple: yes. Others will clearly disagree, but I think it is pretty obvious, especially the last couple of weeks. The ones who defend New England will say they can score as much as they want. It is up to the opponent to stop them, and if they can't that is their problem. That is a valid point. However, a team that is not running up the score does not throw the ball on fourth down, does not do quarterback sneaks near the goal line and does not send in the back up quarterback to throw the ball. New England did all of these things against the Redskins, and also to a lesser extent the Miami Dolphins the week before.
I do not want to hear all of the people out there defending the Patriots. The team has the right to score as much as they want. They are professionals, as are their opponents. But anyone out there who doesn't think this team is running up the score simply isn't paying attention. Tom Brady is padding his stats, which he has a right to do, but the alarming thing is the Bill Belichick refuses to admit to anyone that the score is being run up. A reporter mentioned this to him in his press conference after the Miami game, and Belichick said with an attitude, that if there was another turnover and Miami scored, we are looking at a 14-point game. Please. Miami is arguably the worst team in the NFL. So Belichick responded by putting Brady back in the game to throw another touchdown pass. Don't tell me he isn't running up the score.
It would have been very sad if Tom Brady got hurt last week doing his quarterback sneak. I wonder how much that would have affected Belichick to get his star player hurt. And as for the Washington game, the Patriots were up 38-0 with 10 minutes left in the game. I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than the Redskins did of coming back to win that game. Yet there are still people out there who don't think they are running up the score.
The Patriots have a right to score as many points as they want. We will see how people's reactions change when this happens to the Patriots at some point. Many teams are angry with the Patriots right now because of their belief that they are running up the score. Perhaps the Patriots are trying to stick it to the rest of the league after their "Spygate" scandal. May be they are just that good. But they are clearly trying to score as many points as possible.
As always, home team in CAPS.
Washington 3 1/2 NEW YORK JETS
The Jets are quietly making a statement about being the worst team in the league. The Redskins need to bounce back after last week's pasting. They shouldn't have a problem. The Jets are a real mess right now, and it is tough to pick them in any game. Take the Redskins for this one.
KANSAS CITY 2 Green Bay
The Chiefs are coming off of a bye week, and they are surprisingly in the race in the AFC West. The Packers are on a tear, and playing real well. The Chiefs, though playing decent right now, really aren't that good. I am not sure the Packers are great, but they are a better team than Kansas City. I like the Packers as an underdog here.
TAMPA BAY 3 1/2 Arizona
The Bucs lost a game they should have won last week. The Cardinals were off, but their injuries have really hurt them this year. I think Tampa really isn't that good, but they just got off to a good start. The Cardinals need at least one more year. I have been taking Arizona a lot this year, but I can't this week. Their injuries make them too hard to trust right now.
TENNESSEE 4 1/2 Carolina
This should actually be a pretty good game. The Panthers got crushed last week though, and they need a win to keep pace in the NFC South. The Titans always play tough, but they did struggle against the Raiders last week. The Panthers are simply a better team, and the four and a half points is a lot I think. So I will take them here.
NEW ORLEANS 3 1/2 Jacksonville
The Saints are playing better. It's about time. Another couple of wins and they will be right back in the thick of it in the NFC. They way they are going right now, they should be able to get there. The Jags pulled off a mild upset last week with Quinn Gray at the helm. I don't think they will this week though.. The Saints are a better team than Tampa, and they are playing better right now. I like New Orleans here.
DETROIT 3 Denver
The Lions are another hot team. Maybe Jon Kitna was right about them winning 10 games. The way Denver is playing they are going to lose 10. They haven't been playing well at all. The points seem a little low here. I haven't trusted Detroit much and I haven't been taking them a lot, but that might change, starting with this game. I like them here.
Cincinnati 1 BUFFALO
I am done taking the Bengals this year. They have really disappointed. The Bills have actually been pretty competitive, especially on defense. There is no reason to take Cincinnati here at all. None. The Bills have been pretty good at home, so I will take them this week.
San Diego 7 MINNESOTA
The Chargers are picking up some steam, playing the way everybody expected them to.. The Vikings haven't done much this year but they weren't expected to. Tavarious Jackson is back at quarterback. That's all you need to know about the Vikings. The Chargers could go on a roll. Minnesota isn't going to get in their way.
CLEVELAND 2 Seattle
I was shocked when I saw that the Browns are in the top five in the NFL for offense. They have been very decent this year. The Seahawks were off last week, and the rest of their division is crumbling around them. Another Seahawk win and they might have the division wrapped up. They are simply the better team than Cleveland, even though they have been struggling a bit. I think they will win here.
OAKLAND 3 Houston
Amazing to see the Raiders favored, but they are playing Houston. Oakland doesn't have a great record, but they haven't been getting blown out either. Neither have the Texans. Both teams are headed in the right direction but that direction will take a couple of years. I will take Oakland here.
Dallas 3 PHILADELPHIA
The Eagles have totally disappeared. Ever since their awful ugly uniforms they haven't been good. The Cowboys have been, and they had an extra week to prepare for their division rival. The Eagles absolutely need this game to have any chance of getting back in the race, but I just don't see it happening. They have not been playing well while the Cowboys have. The Cowboys should win this game.
PITTSBURGH 8 1/2 Baltimore
These two teams are the exact opposite right now. The Ravens are still ok, but they can't score to save their lives. But the defense is always solid. Right now, Pittsburgh is solid on both sides of the ball. They are really playing well. The Ravens were off last week, but I don't think it will matter much here. The points seem a little high, but I don't see how the Steelers don't cover. I like them here.
GAME OF THE WEEK
New England 4 1/2 INDIANAPOLIS
I think this choice was pretty obvious. However, I fail to see how New England is favored. I still think right now that the Colts are the better team. They are the defending champs, and until they get knocked off I think they deserve to be considered the best team. They might get knocked off this week. They might not. Last year, I was one of the only "professionals" ( I might have been the only one ) that picked the Colts to beat the Patriots in the regular season. I was right.. I am once again picking the Colts. Once again, I will be right.
STINKER OF THE WEEK
ATLANTA 3 San Francisco
There were a couple of options this week, but I chose this game because of the Falcons. The 49ers haven't been good either, and I can safely say they have been disappointing. They have had some injuries though. The Falcons did have the week off, so that might help them here. I'll go with the Falcons. They have to win again sometime. Might as well be this week.
Record for Week Eight: 5-8 (7-6 without spread)
Record Through Week Eight: 47-62-7 (71-45 without spread)
Game of the Week record: 5-3
Stinker of the Week Record: 3-5
Jim Poore has been a long time contributor to Patriots Insider with his weekly picks column. Let him know what you think. Email him here:
Running Up The Score?