By: Jamie Samuelsen
You wouldn’t know it, but they’re still playing football in this state.
Combine the Lions bye week with two college road games with that pesky little baseball team which is still playing games and it seems like football has been pushed to the back-burner altogether. Now, the local football teams could change the narrative a little bit by doing silly things like…winning games, completing passes and tackling opposing ball carriers. And Michigan started trending in that direction last Saturday with a convincing win over Purdue. Michigan State appears to still be idling, unsure whether it wants to contend for a Big Ten title or retreat back to the mediocre masses of the conference. (Sadly in 2012, both of those places are one and the same.)
And the Lions are the Lions. They spent the week angrily denouncing the charges of an anonymous rival GM that they weren’t all that good. (Memo to the Lions – the best way to denounce those charges is on the field, not off the field). Now they have to head out on the road to take on the Eagles and the Bears. And I can guarantee you that right now the Lions are seen as a very welcome houseguest in both of those cities. It’s up to them to make sure they don’t bring a gift, trash the place and try to ensure they don’t get invited back.
As for the picks, Wojo has been focused on baseball over the past few weeks. That’s his excuse. I don’t have an excuse other than I’m thinking of pulling a George Costanza and simply picking the opposite of every pick I’m inclined to make. Wooley needs no excuses. He rolled to a perfect weekend in the picks last weekend and pulled away in the season standings.
IOWA (+9 ½) AT MICHIGAN STATE – All season long, we’ve waited for the Spartans to get going on offense and on defense. All season long we’ve been disappointed. And it sure seems unlikely to happen this week. Iowa is third against the run in the Big Ten and MSU has made it pretty clear that they need Le’Veon Bell to run the ball consistently in order to win. Add to that the fact that tight end Dion Sims won’t play this week to try to heal up for a little game next Saturday in Ann Arbor. Iowa also has a folk hero fullback turned tailback named Mark Weisman who is generating Heisman buzz for the simple reason that his last name rhymes with the actual award. Next thing you know they’re going to try to give Steve Buscemi an Emmy. Honestly, the rationale for the pick here is simple. If MSU couldn’t get it going against Indiana – they sure as heck aren’t going to get it going against Iowa. PICK –IOWA
WOJO – MSU
WOOLEY – IOWA
ILLINOIS (+23 ½) AT MICHIGAN – Illinois is a lot like Nicolas Cage. Every so often, Cage rises up and gives a brilliant performance that makes the critics wonder why he makes so much other schlock the other nine years a decade (the money of course). And every so often, the Illini wake up and play like a Big Ten power and usually end up in a BCS game. It has to drive MSU fans nuts that the Illini have been to TWO BCS games and the Spartans have been to zero. Fortunately, this is not one of those years. Illinois comes in scoring the fewest points in the Big Ten. But they counter that by allowing the most. Now I didn’t play football much past the eighth grade, but that seems like a poor strategy. Add to that the fact that Denard Robinson is once again playing like Denard Robinson (and FEASTS on lousy defenses) – and this one seems rather easy. PICK – MICHIGAN
WOJO – MICHIGAN
WOOLEY – ILLINOIS
LIONS (+4) AT EAGLES – The NFL is titling this “The We’re REALLY Not That Bad Bowl” which hasn’t sold a lot of t-shirts so far. But it does match up two teams that we’re expected to be factors in the NFC as opposed to factors in the top of the first round of the draft. In fairness, the Eagles are 3-2 and technically tied for first in the NFC East. But they’re the worst 3-2 team in NFL history and have actually been outscored by 19 points through five games this season. They also really like to give the ball away. They’re tops in the NFC with 14 giveaways. That would appear to be a good sign for the Lions. Only problem? The Lions are dead last in the entire league with just three takeaways. That might change with the return of Louis Delmas to the lineup this weekend. But the Lions are 0-4 against the spread so far this season. And I refuse to give this team credit until they prove that they deserve it. PICK – EAGLES
WOJO – LIONS
WOOLEY – EAGLES