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Jimmy The Roman

. . . NFL Week 9 Analysis

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Can it really be that the spark of the St. Louis Cardinals seemingly unbeatable offense is an undrafted free-agent from the laughable Arena Football League? Could Curt Warner really be that important to the offense?

Apparently so. Warner went down early last week as the Rams suffered a thumping to the Kansas City Chiefs. That's OK, we thought, as we watched Warner amble off, holding his broken thumb. With as much talent as there is on this team, surely they won't miss him. But we were wrong again. Trent Green took over at QB and the Rams offense sputtered. The receivers, until it was too late, looked like they had never run their routes before. And suddenly, one team in the NFL had figured out how to stop the unruly Rams offense. And what's more, they did it in true Rams style--running up the score.

Does anybody else have a problem with the label of offensive genius that Brian Billick carries around? Everybody keeps calling him an offensive genius. Now, he may be a decent coach, but an offensive genius?

If he's such a genius, why haven't the Baltimore Ravens scored a touchdown in over 4 games (17 consecutive quarters without a TD)? Why are his top two quarterbacks Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer? Why can't he see what everyone else in America realized years ago--both of those guys suck!

Meanwhile, down in the desert, Arizona Cardinals President Bill Bidwill fired Coach Vince Tobin after an embarrassing loss to the Dallas Cowboys in which the Cowboys amassed a 27-0 lead before QB Troy Aikman even completed his first pass. Two years ago, the Cardinals were the team to beat in the NFC East, having made their first playoff appearance since before they left St. Louis in 1987. Now, they are the laughing stock of the NFL (OK, so maybe the Denver Broncos can share that distinction this week after losing to the league's worst team-- the Cincinnati Bengals).

As usual the following picks are for purely recreational purposes, and all of them fall with the statistical margin of error.

Carolina at Atlanta: The Falcons are hurting at LB, especially now that All-Pro Jesse Tuggle is sidelined for the year. Meanwhile, Panther RB Tim Biakabatuka is averaging 4.0 yards per carry on the ground. Pick: Carolina

NY Jets at Buffalo: The Bills are coming off a close loss to the Vikings, while the Jets squeaked past the Dolphins in a miracle finish. How many miracles does QB Vinny Testaverde have left? Pick: Buffalo

Cincinnati at Cleveland: Since starting the season 2-1, the Browns have been shut out 3 times in 5 games. The Bengals are flying high after their first win of the season against the Denver Broncos. Browns backup QB Doug Pederson managed an impressive 12.7 rating against the Steelers last week. Pick: Cincinnati

Detroit at Indianapolis: Two of the most disappointing teams of the seasons square off in what could turn out to be a defensive struggle. Lions RB James Stewart has finally gotten in a groove--but he's no Edgerrin James. Pick: Indianapolis

Green Bay at Miami: The Packers are coming off a bye week well rested, but the Dolphins are coming off a last second loss to the Jets--and they smell blood. Dolphin DE Trace Armstrong leads the league with 10 sacks. As inconsistent as Packer QB Brett Favre has been, this could be a problem. Pick: Miami

Minnesota at Tampa Bay: About a month ago, people were pointing at this game as a possible precursor to the NFC Championship game. That was before the Bucs dropped 4 straight games and put Coach Tony Dungy's job in jeopardy. My "homeboy" Daunte Culpepper is the real deal--you read it here first! Pick: Minnesota

Pittsburgh at Baltimore: Neither team has a QB that can win games consistently, but Pittsburgh has the edge of momentum. Suddenly, with the Raven's in a red zone slump (see above), this is a VERY winnable game for the Steelers. Pick: Pittsburgh

Philadelphia at NY Giants: The Giants retired former RB Frank Gifford's jersey number this week. The Eagles (winners of 4 of their last 5) are looking to retire the Giants. Giants RB Tiki Barber had a big game against the Eagles in Week 2. Pick: Giants

New Orleans at Arizona: Could these Saints have really turned it around so quickly? This was a team that lost to the expansion Browns in week 8 last season. Ricky Williams has had 5 consecutive games with over 100 yards rushing. The Cardinals fired Coach Vince Tobin because they feared additional losses would harm their stadium levy on election day. As if creating a controversy won't completely break up any hope of salvaging the season. Bill Bidwill, you and Mike Brown (Cincinnati) need huge wakeup calls from AARP. Pick: New Orleans

St. Louis at San Francisco: Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have laid out the blue print for beating the Rams, perhaps the 49ers can take note. Though, at 2-6, the 49ers can hardly compare to the Chiefs. One factor that the Chiefs handled well was Rams RB Marshall Faulk--it ain't gonna happen again. Pick: St. Louis

Jacksonville at Dallas: After a huge win with division rival Arizona, QB Troy Aikman and the Cowboys silenced their critics. The Jaguars are tied with Cleveland and 1 game ahead of Cincinnati in the AFC Central race for the cellar and the No. 1 pick in the draft. Pick: Dallas

Kansas City at Seattle: Easily establishing themselves as a formidable AFC force after thoroughly whooping ass in St. Louis, the Kansas City Chiefs appear poised to do it again this week. The Seahawks will at least enjoy the homefield advantage. Pick: Kansas City

Oakland at San Diego: Three words: the Chargers suck. At 0-7, Mike Riley better start working on his resume, because he's liable to be unemployed come December. Three more words: Tyrone Wheatley rocks. Yet another shining example of the diamond in the rough. Pick: Oakland

Tennessee at Washington: The Redskins offense finally sparked to life last week against Jacksonville. After a shaky start, the $100 million Super Bowl team appears to be on track. The Titans are coming off a defensive struggle with Baltimore that left their top yardage producer RB Eddie George with an MCL sprain. Pick: Washington

The Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots all have BYE weeks

Last week's picks: 8-6 (Overall: 29-25)

Jimmy The Roman, a salute to the deceased sports journalist "Jimmy the Greek," is a periodic columnist at YourMVP.net

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