Follwing the Patriots this season is like trying to keep up with the stock market.
Tom Brady's torn ACL = bank collapse. Market tumbles.
Pats win the first two games with very conservative offense = bailout talks.
The catastrophe against Miami = bailout collapse.
Defense continues to leak in the first quarter at San Francisco = global markets respond negatively to bailout.
Pats grind out first downs and keep the ball while defense tightens up = interest rate cut temporarily stabilizes market.
Visit to San Diego - another roller coaster ride.
Keep your money in the Patriots' mutual fund? Smart investors ride out tough times, and I haven't touched my 401(K) yet.
But I'll leave the cash crunching to Erin Burnett and Maria Bartiromo, and stick with the picks this week (13-7 last week, 65-35 overall). Confidence points in parentheses:
PATRIOTS 20, CHARGERS 16 (8): Running back woes: the whispers about Laurence Maroney are audible. The ones about LaDanian Thompson are starting to give me tinnitus.
JETS 27, BENGALS 18 (14): Good thing the Pats and Chargers got the Jets before Brett Favre memorized the playbook.
REDSKINS 34, RAMS 10 (16): The 'Skins have already played all three NFC East rivals on the road. They are vegetating in the tall cotton right now.
SAINTS 24, RAIDERS 13 (5): New Orleans can't bumble away two straight at home, can it?
DOLPHINS 16, TEXANS 13 (6): Miami's not a 1-15 team anymore, and Houston's still in shellshock after that final horrible four-plus minutes last week.
COLTS 24, RAVENS 12 (12): Peyton's posse is taking a beating, but keeping its heads about water.
FALCONS 23, BEARS 20 (10): Matt Ryan piles up a few more Rookie of the Year votes.
VIKINGS 20, LIONS 17 (4): Tempting upset pick, if I knew precisely what Detroit was rolling out at quarterback.
PANTHERS 24, BUCCANEERS 21 (7): To your health, Carolina!
BRONCOS 27, JAGUARS 19 (11): Denver's not just a September surprise.
SEAHAWKS 17, PACKERS 16 (3): Go with the home team in a battle of desperados.
EAGLES 31, 49ers 24 (13): Because Philly's too good to be 2-4. I'll be live-blogging this one at 4 on SI.com.
COWBOYS 34, CARDINALS 30 (9): In the Cards' bad old days in Tempe, Dallas was the only game that ever sold out.
GIANTS 30, BROWNS 15 (15): Nothing will light a conflagration under Romeo Crennel's seat like a visit from the world champions.
And for you collegians:
OKLAHOMA 28, TEXAS 27: Damn NASCAR - this should be ABC's prime-time attraction tomorrow night.
MISSOURI 41, OKLAHOMA STATE 33: A second battle of Big 12 unbeatens on Columbus Day weekend. We need a Big 12-SEC challenge, like basketball's annual ACC-Big 10 series.
FLORIDA 20, LSU 15: Nobody gets through the SEC undefeated. Hear that, 'Bama and Vandy?
PENN STATE 24 WISCONSIN 17: Don't playfully tell Joe Paterno to break a leg - he actually did the last time he visited cheese country.
TEXAS TECH 48, NEBRASKA 24: The Huskers finally hit the road, but the road will hit harder.
USC 38, ARIZONA STATE 21: Remember when the Sun Devils were considered a legitimate Rose Bowl contender? You may stop laughing now.