This column went 10-4 picking NFL Week 6 games last week, which was good for its attempt at a Red Sox-like comeback in the Panel o' Experts but even better as support for the dubious theory that its NFL picks are better in October, when it's paying little attention to football.
In honor of the baseball playoffs taking up 93 percent of this column's brainpower, the "fast" October format -- fast being a journalism euphemism for short, or in this case slapdash -- continues for Week 7, with winners in capital letters and the picks of this column's kids, Dioner and Daisuke, included.
Sunday early games
SAN DIEGO (3-3) at Buffalo (4-1)
Two hard-to-call teams, but I think they're both headed toward roughly where their winning percentage should be.
Buster: San Diego
New Orleans (3-3) at CAROLINA (4-2)
Two hard-to-call teams, but while I think the Saints are a little better, I also think they'll find a way to lose on the road to a team that's coming off a brutal drubbing.
Kids: New Orleans
Minnesota (3-3) at CHICAGO (3-3)
Two hard-to-call teams, but the Vikings are going to have a problem with Devin Hester.
PITTSBURGH (4-1) at Cincinnati (0-6)
Two easy-to-call teams.
Kids: Pittsburgh (10-point favorite)
Tennessee (5-0) at KANSAS CITY (1-4)
What the Heck™ Pick of the week, mainly because the Cincy-Pittsburgh rivalry -- Steelers fans, you can probably learn about it from Wikipedia -- gives the Bengals some plausibility.
Kids: Tennessee (8-point favorite)
BALTIMORE (2-3) at Miami (2-3)
With trembling hands, I pick against the Dolphins, and how about that?
San Francisco (2-4) at N.Y. GIANTS (4-1)
Previously undefeated defending champs embarrass themselves on national TV and their next opponent is -- you, 49ers. Good luck with that.
Kids: New York (11-point favorite)
DALLAS (4-2) at St. Louis (1-4)
This column never roots for the Cowboys, but it really wanted Dallas to win last week after Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt cost his team the game in regulation with that gotcha-timeout gambit before the Cowboys' game-tying field-goal attempt at the gun. The Cardinals blocked the kick but, whoops, Whisenhunt had called time. Given another chance, Dallas tied the game, but Arizona still won in overtime. Dang. Those last-second, gotcha, ice-the-kicker timeouts have got to go. They're anesthetic, unsporting and downright unmanly. This is the NFL, people. Snap your chin straps and play the stinkin' game.
Kids: Dallas (7-point favorite)
Sunday late games
DETROIT (0-5) at Houston (1-4)
If a 1-4 team can be a touchdown-plus favorite, we're talking about either a really good 1-4 team or an opponent that tests the limits of that old "any given Sunday" routine. Total trap game for the Texans.
Kids: Houston (9.5-point favorite)
INDIANAPOLIS (3-2) at Green Bay (3-3)
I'll take the veteran superstar over my homeboy in what could be a real air war.
Buster: Green Bay
N.Y. JETS (3-2) at Oakland (1-4)
A nation begs for "Heidi."
Buster: New York
Cleveland (2-3) at WASHINGTON (4-2)
Can the Browns pull off two straight NFC East stunners? The answer to "can" questions in the NFL is always yes, but I wouldn't bet the stock portfolio on it. What's that? Oh. Well, you get my point, and perhaps I should mention here that the What the Heck™ Pick of the week is available for sponsorship.
Kids: Washington (7.5-point favorite)
Sunday night game
Seattle (1-4) at TAMPA BAY (4-2)
I've gotten used to the Seahawks just not being very good. You?
Kids: Tampa Bay (11-point favorite)
Monday night game
DENVER (4-2) at New England (3-2)
The Broncos' biggest problems are on defense, and the Patriots don't appear to be suited to exploit those problems at the moment.
Season record: 53-35
Last week: 10-4
What the Heck™ Picks: 2-4, but two wins in three weeks
Actual names of kids: J.D. The J stands for juvenile