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Sunday, Sept. 12 (Note: All times listed are Eastern Standard Time)

Arizona (-3.5) at Philadelphia, 1:00 p.m.

The Prophecy of Nostradamus:

The war of the winged,
Green vying red.
Uncertainty at the helm of the depraved ernes,
Serpent's precision leaves the sophomore's flock dead.

The Author's Thoughts: The last time these two played each other was in Philly during Week 15. Arizona held off Philadelphia 20-17. Expect a different outcome this day. Arizona is a plucky road team, as evidenced by their playoff slaughter of Dallas. The Cardinals have been hit with a lot of questionable personnel decisions and bad luck recently, but they are expected to be in the middle of the playoff hunt in the horrible NFC East. Nostradamus remains skeptical. The Eagles first-line unit couldn't even score against third-stringers during pre-season. They are The Great Seer's favorite for the #1 draft pick next year. Nostradamus cites "uncertainty at the helm;" he alludes to the Eagles QB mess. Doug Pederson gets the nod today, but $50-Million McNab is one bad game away from starting. Nostradamus expects a low scoring battle with these "fowl" teams; however, look for the Cardinals to win, 17-6. The small point spread makes this a good pick.

Straight-Up Pick: Arizona/Point Spread Pick: Arizona


Baltimore at St. Louis (EVEN), 1:00 p.m.

The Prophecy of Nostradamus:

The Folk and Green arm are prepared for this task,
Whilst the one seeking revenge falls short.
The tournament at the field under the arch will be fiercely fought:
For Aries, a victory through tort.

The Author's Thoughts: Here's two teams that Nostradamus held in high regard last year. Both failed miserably. The The loss of Trent Green was a major setback, but the Rams should be able to score with more frequency with the acquisitions of Marshall Faulk ("Folk") and Tory Holt. The key here is that the Ravens will be held to 17 points or less. The thought of Scott Mitchell handing off to Priest Holmes has few teams intimidated. And remember, one of the few strong suits of the Rams last year was pass defense. Now they have some offense too. This should be a very tight game! Perhaps by a controversial call or penalty (tort)!! We like the Rams; but by no means a lock.

Straight-Up Pick: St. Louis/Point Spread Pick: St. Louis


Buffalo (-3) at Indianapolis, 1:00 p.m.

The Prophecy of Nostradamus:

The Indian army smitten with plague,
Besieged by the smallish leader with accurate aim.
The Bisons carry the day,
The horse looks docile and tame.

The Author's Thoughts: The Bills would like to avoid last year's 0-3 start. Meanwhile, the Colts will be a bit better than their two consecutive 3-13 seasons -- but not by much. Nostradamus liked the way Doug Flutie came out of the ashes to lead Buffalo to a playoff berth. Expect another big-yardage season from Antowain Smith; also look for Thurman Thomas to show streaks of his old form in what will be the final season of a Hall-of-Fame career. Peyton Manning and Edgerain James may strike for a couple of scores but Buffalo prevails by a touchdown.

Straight-Up Pick: Buffalo/Point Spread Pick: Buffalo


Carolina at New Orleans (-3.5), 1:00 p.m.

The Prophecy of Nostradamus:

The wounded leopard stalks the Bayous,
Martyrs of the Cross enjoin the fray.
The debut of Great Richard is less than stellar,
But enough damage inflicted to triumph this day.

The Author's Thoughts:  Big debuts here. George Seifert tries to escape the apparition of Bill Walsh. Meanwhile, Rickey Williams (if healthy) will try to prove that he is this year's Randy Moss. Despite a disappointing 6-10 , the Saints are a compelling team at the Superdome (4-4 staight-up/5-3 against the spread in '98). The Saints also have an edge in special teams. Last year, these teams split the series. Carolina was 0-7 when they beat New Orleans, 31-17, for their first win of the year. But the Panthers look very old and depressing from both sides of the ball. It will be within a touchdown, but the Saints win.

Straight-Up Pick: New Orleans/Point Spread Pick: New Orleans


Cincinnati at Tennessee (-9), 1:00 p.m.

The Prophecy of Nostradamus:

The Tiger is famished and plagued,
He is led into the new coliseum for slaughter.
There will be no rescue by Achilles,
Titania leaves the animal cleaved in quarters.

The Author's Thoughts: The Bengals enter the season with lots of ??? Their pre-season has been a disaster. Tremain Mack, their best special teamer, is suspended for the first four games. Even with Akili Smith's recent signing, he won't be near ready for the season opener. Jeff Blake will start. He demonstrated the ability to move the ball in some rare starts last year. And Corey Dillon had another 1,000 yard season. Meanwhile, the Titans have something to prove: new image, real fans and building on lots of positives from last season. They are a valid playoff contender. No contest; the Oilers, er Titans, by two touchdowns.

Straight-Up Pick: Tennessee/Point Spread Pick: Tennessee

Dallas at Washington (-3), 1:00 p.m.

The Prophecy of Nostradamus:

Amidst great purges the Red Chief must prove their worth,

Doubts of their leadership remain unset.

They are crushed by gallant Stars,

Who have the face of a warrior despite loss of Sanders and Lett.

The Author's Thoughts: Deion Sanders may not play this Sunday. However, Dallas made some smart acquisitions with Rocket Ismail to spread out the passing attack and Mark Stepnowski to bolster an already strong OL. Too many questions with the transitioning Redskins. The jury remains out on Brad Johnson and their defense is suspect. Do not judge this game by pre-season performance. Emmitt Smith will have a big game for the Cowboys. Cowboys in a rout.

Straight-Up Pick: Dallas/Point Spread Pick: Dallas


Kansas City (-3) at Chicago 1:00 p.m.

The Prophecy of Nostradamus:

The new leader of Ursus is baptized with pain,
His predators play with passion.
The horde of Red is weakened as well,
But the cunning squad wins in reasonable fashion.

The Author's Thoughts:  The last time these teams met in 1996, the Bears upset KC 14-10. Not the case this year. Kansas City is just two years removed from owning the best record in the NFL. They can't get that bad in just two years. In a similar match-up last year, the Chiefs went on the road to beat the lowly Eagles by 3. The Bears are going to experience a steep learning curve with either Shane Mathews or Cade McNown starting. Chicago may come out fighting but the Gunther [Cunning]ham's Chiefs will be ahead at the final gun.

Straight-Up Pick: Kansas City/Point Spread Pick: Kansas City

New England at New York Jets (-7), 1:00 p.m.

The Prophecy of Nostradamus:

The sure arm of the Invincible is rested,
Whilst the miracles of Bledsoe shall again be tested.
The master teaches his old legions lessons of torment:
Again, the three cornered chapeau is bested.

The Author's Thoughts: Here's two teams moving in opposite directions. The Patriots will be hard-pressed to gain 50 yards with their decimated running attack against New York's strong run defense. However, Drew Bledsoe makes anything possible. The Jets have lots to prove; they started slow last year. And WR Wayne Cherbet's loss leaves Testaverde without his best possession receiver. The difference in this game will be the coaching of Bill Parcels. He knows more about what makes New England tick than Pete Carroll. At home, the Jets were overwhelming last year: 8-1 Straight-up and 7-2 against the spread. They take this game.

Straight-Up Pick: Jets/Point Spread Pick: Jets


Oakland at Green Bay (-9), 1:00 p.m.

The Prophecy of Nostradamus:

The drunken Pirate captain steers a wayward corvette,
His stern teacher out maneuvers him with stealth.
The horde of Green board the ship with sabers raised,
A new era in the Northland starts in good health.

The Author's Thoughts:  Interesting match-up here. Raiders coach Jon Gruden was the offensive coordinator for Ray Rhodes while with the Eagles. The Packers are a great team at Lambeau Field (7-1 S/U & 5-3 against the points). The big X-Factor here is that given reasonable talent, Ray Rhodes can make a team play above their potential. Disregard his effort in Philly last year, it was painfully evident that he lost interest by mid-season. Also, watch defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas ply his trade. The Raiders are on shaky ground with Rich Gannon as the starting QB. After all, why would Gruden go out and get Bobby Hoying from the Eagles -- one of the least effective QBs last year. This has the potential to be a major rout, in Green Bay's favor. 

Straight-Up Pick: Packers/Point Spread Pick: Packers


Detroit at Seattle (-9.5) 4:15 p.m.

The Prophesy of Nostradamus:

The Hawks are a furious flock,
Led by a wizard upon two wheels.
They exert their will on blundering Leo,
The loss of their soul has them on their heels.

The Author's Thoughts:  The Holmgren era will begin with a major obliteration of the Sanderless Lions. Without Barry, the Detroit offense is terrible. This could be a 28+ spread. TRUST NOSTRADAMUS ON THIS ONE!!!

Straight-Up Pick: Seahawks/Point Spread Pick: Seahawks


Minnesota (-4) at Atlanta, 4:15 p.m.

The Prophesy of Nostradamus:

The Viking ship forced aground by noisy birds,
Valhalla just in sight.
The purple scream vengeance,
Their rival hesitant from their most recent fight.

The Author's Thoughts: The Vikings could have beat Denver in Super Bowl XXXIII. Guess we'll never know. The Vikings are burning with emotion after Atlanta took what was just in their grasp. Look at the Vikes to soften Atlanta with the ground game. Robert Smith will do most of the damage (he missed most of the 2nd half in the NFC conference final which was right when the Minnesota offense started going south). The one thing the Falcons did well last January was neutralizing Randy Moss. But he was hurt too. Atlanta's offense will not get untracked. Minnesota makes a statement in Week 1 with an easy win over the Falcons.  

Straight-Up Pick: Vikings/Point Spread Pick: Vikings


New York Giants at Tampa Bay (-5.5), 4:15 p.m.


The Prophesy of Nostradamus:

Expected win for the Skulls is not to be,
The band of Pirates are scuttled.
The Giant weapons cut down the galleon,
Their strategy sound at each huddle.

The Author's Thoughts: Both teams are contenders this year. Expect a low scoring affair with the Giants on top for the Nostradamus' "Upsetus Supremus." 

Straight-Up Pick: Giants/Point Spread Pick: Giants


San Francisco at Jacksonville (-5.5), 4:15 p.m.

The Prophesy of Nostradamus:

The Jungle Feline will stalk the Prospector prey,
But the elusive Youth evades attack.
Cubits of territory gained by the rescued Phillip.
The confident must look elsewhere to get one back.

The Author's Thoughts: It's early. And Jacksonville is going to do just fine this year. But watch the upset take place. The 49ers, with Steve Young [Youth] can still score and Jacksonville's defense may need a week or two of learning curve to learn the new defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, scheme. Their defense isn't that great to start with, averaging 21 points yielded last year. Another factor, WR Keenan McKardell's leg injury will curtail the long ball from QB Mark Brunell. The Niners by a field goal.

Straight-Up Pick: 49ers/Point Spread Pick: 49ers


Pittsburgh (-6) at Cleveland, 8:20 p.m.

 The Prophesy of Nostradamus:

The return of the great Brown back in the fold,
A mortal rival for their first appearance.
The Iron catapult regains its confidence,
The Black and Golden leave with some clearance.

The Author's Thoughts: The "new" Cleveland Browns have the perfect foil in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tim Couch has looked good but the Brownies still look like an expansion team. While Nostradamus doesn't expect much out of Pittsburgh this year, Kordell, the Bus and the Steelers' D will dampen the lovefest in Cleveland. A low scoring game with the Steelers on top; maybe Cleveland can cover the spread. This is one game Nostradamus wouldn't throw too many Francs on. 

Straight-Up Pick: Steelers/Point Spread Pick: Browns


Monday, Sep. 13

Miami at Denver (-6) 9:00 p.m.

The Prophesy of Nostradamus:

The stampeders quest for triperfection,
Against the Fish-men, they begin the trial.
The new Leader is true to his commitment,
James is vexed by his adversary's denial.

The Author's Thoughts: I'm beginning to here "Talking Heads" say that Denver can't 3-peat without the services of John Elway. However, there is no compelling justification that the Dolphins even have a prayer in this game. Denver is simply unbeatable at home, stomped Miami in the playoffs and still have most of the pieces that got them two straight Super Bowls. With a "system" team like Denver, a decent QB, such as young Griese, will do fine with all the weapons available to him. The Broncos can cover this by one touchdown and then some.

Straight-Up Pick: Broncos/Point Spread Pick: Broncos