Earlier this week I was watching cartoons with my kids. Kennison and Owen love Johnny Test, so we were watching an episode in which Johnny's older twin sisters, Susan and Mary, invented a machine that could do me well when it comes to picking football games.
The twins were making magic fortune cookies that were fueled by the power of positive thinking, so that when the fortunes were read the reader would make the fortune come true by thinking positively.
With the way that my picks have been a mere .500 at best -and really bad at worst - the idea of a magic fortune cookie to help me with my picks would be a good way to get over the hump that's got me down so far this season.
Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes things just won't go your way?
If so, you know how I feel when it comes to picking games for this Armchair Quarterback column.
Last week was the first time this year that I was happy with my picks. After a disappointing 7-7 showing, I'm really not sure what went wrong. I thought there were a lot of no-brainers, a lot of one-sided games and only a few challenging picks.
With the way the season is shaping up, I'm thinking of straying from the way I pick games. I've been looking at matchup histories, injuries, defense-offense matchups, betting lines and statistics. It seems that picking teams out of a hat or throwing darts while blindfolded would be more prosperous than what I've been doing.
There's got to be some sort of strategy - since fortune cookies aren't magic - that can improve my luck.
I love Johnny's dog, Dukey, by the way. Too bad I didn't have a talking dog to help with making picks for this column.
Miami, New England, Pittsburgh and Seattle all have byes.
Onto the games:
Sunday, Oct. 10
Baltimore, 1 p.m.
The game between these teams is one of the toughest to pick. Kyle Orton has been having the season of his career at QB for the Broncos, but the Ravens have the No. 2 ranked defense. The Broncos have been able to put points on the board against teams like Jacksonville, Seattle and Indianapolis, but none of them have the defensive skills that Baltimore does. Throw in a salty Joe Flacco and the Ravens' home crowd, and Denver drops to 2-3.
Pick: Baltimore, 28-17
Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Buffalo dove to 0-4 against the Jets, who were able to run and pass well against the Bills. The Jaguars hung on for a last-second win when Josh Scobee booted a 59-yard field goal to sink the Colts. However, I'm not sure the Jacksonville win wasn't just luck. The fact that Buffalo gave up at least 30 points in a game for the third time in a row makes things easier for me.
Pick: Jacksonville, 36-10
Carolina, 1 p.m.
There are a lot of unknowns that make picking this game really tough. Will Jay Cutler -who was sacked by the Giants nine times -play after suffering a concussion last week? If not, can his backup Todd Collins -who suffered an undisclosed injury on New York's 10th sack - play? Do the Bears have another quarterback? On the other hand, are rookie Jimmy Clausen and RB DeAngelo Williams enough offense to beat the Bears' defense? Tough to make a pick with so many unknowns.
Pick: Carolina, 20-14
Tampa Bay at
Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Tampa Bay is coming off a bye week, while the Bengals will continue to lick their wounds after a 2-2 start to the season. Terrell Owens had a big day for Cincinnati, but it wasn't enough to beat Cleveland. The Bucs are are 2-1, but have given up more points than they score. Cincinnati has a slight edge in this one.
Pick: Cincinnati, 24-21
Cleveland, 1 p.m.
The Browns finally were able to get a win after surviving Owens' big day. Peyton Hillis rambled for 100-plus yards, and after losing the first three games by 12 combined points, Cleveland was able to take advantage of Cincinnati's mistakes. The Falcons got lucky at the end of the game to beat the 49ers, but had to come from behind against one of the four winless teams left in the NFL to do so.
Pick: Atlanta, 17-14
St. Louis at
Detroit, 1 p.m.
Arguably two of the worst teams in the past few years, the Rams and the Lions will give everything they have Sunday, though for different reasons. The Rams, who won their second game in a row after rookie Sam Bradford threw for a pair of scores and 289 yards, will be trying to make improve their win streak to 3 in a row, while the Lions will be looking for win No. 1. The Lions have been playing good football all around, but just haven't been able to close the deal. I think they'll do it this week.
Pick: Detroit, 24-17
Kansas City at
Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
The Chiefs are the only team in the NFL left with an unblemished record. Peyton Manning - who threw for 352 yards and two TDS -and the Colts will be looking to break the perfect streak. However, after working out the kinks during their bye week, Kansas City is going to be tough to beat, which makes this a tough game to pick.
Pick: Indianapolis, 28-24
New York Giants at Houston, 1 p.m.
With the way that the Giants defense was able to get through the Bears offensive line, I'd hate to be Matt Schaub this week. Osi Umenyiora had three of the Giants 10 sacks, but Arian Foster is still racking up the yardage on the ground - and making my fantasy season worth while, for once - for the Texans. I like Houston's offense more than New York's defense, so that's enough for me.
Pick: Houston, 21-14
Green Bay at
Washington, 1 p.m.
The Packers beat Detroit in Green Bay for the 20th time in a row, but only by two points. Washington was able to knock Michael Vick out of the game and without the Eagles running-passing attack, the Redskins were tough enough to win. With the questions in Green Bay's running game, I'm not sure if the Packers can stay at the top of the NFC North, but will pick them because of their defense. Hard to beat Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and A.J. Hawk prowling the field.
Pick: Green Bay, 17-14
New Orleans at
Arizona, 4:05 p.m.
The Cardinals give up too many turnovers and too many sacks to be able to beat the reigning Super Bowl champs. The Saints, however, haven't been as impressive this year as they were last year. I want to know what happened to the 40-plus points per game and the Drew Brees launching bombs into the end-zone show? I still think New Orleans will top Arizona.
Pick: New Orleans, 20-14
Dallas, 4:15 p.m.
Though their record doesn't show it, the Cowboys are a decent football team, and they should even be better after last week's bye. Tennessee, on the other hand, looks like a good football team with the combination of a strong running game and a defense that had six sacks against Denver last week. I like the Titans defense against Tony Romo, so I'm going with Tennessee.
Pick: Tennessee, 28-20
San Diego at
Oakland, 4:15 p.m.
I was hoping that the AFC West was going to be a lot more competitive this year, but with Kansas City going unbeaten so far and the Raiders continuing their downward spiral from last year - and the Chargers inconsistancy -it's not. This seems like an easy pick, with San Diego out-scoring Oakland 113-76, while the Raiders give up over 30 points per game.
Pick: San Diego, 38-10
San Francisco, 8:20 p.m.
Because of the loss of Vick -with an injured sternum and ribs - and the horrible performance by one-time and soon-to-be starter Kevin Kolb, I'm losing confidence in the Eagles in a big hurry. San Francisco seems to be getting better with Mike Johnson running the offense, but they're going to need a twist of luck to get them that first win.
Pick: San Francisco, 27-24
Monday, Oct. 11
N.Y. Jets, 8:30 p.m.
This could be the game of the week, depending on how well the Vikings used their bye week. And, Now that Minnesota has Randy Moss, who knows what the NFC North could end up looking like. The Jets - once Mark Sanchez was enabled to throw the ball down the field -have been looking really strong, but I still see a lot of potential in Minnesota. New York is riding three wins in a row (all to AFC teams), but might have trouble against the Vikings defense. Then again, I'm sure Rex Ryan will have a special package set up for Brett Favre, and Darrelle Revis will be back in the lineup. That means an awesome rematch between one of the NFL's premiere receivers and best cornerback in the game.Can't I just pick a tie?
Pick: Jets, 21-20
Week three picks, 6-6, 50 percent.
Season record 27-33, 45 percent.
Bill Harris can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His e-mail address is email@example.com.