Some football folks are trying to save face this week:
* Bill Belichick: If he had just put on a few more pounds, he couldn't have gotten down the sideline in time to call the timeout that kiboshed the Pats' fourth-and-1 conversion deep in Colts territory in the fourth quarter Sunday night. And there's also that lame challenge that put him in a timeout hole.
* Jabar Gaffney: A Patriot victory sailed right through his hands. Best pass Matt Cassel's thrown since high school.
* David Thomas: His late hit turned third and inches into third and 15, killing New England's last best hope.
* The Texas secondary: Colt McCoy led a fourth-quarter rally that should've been a down payment on the Heisman. Instead, they let Texas Tech steal the game and, oops, forgot to tackle Michael Crabtree.
* Agganis: He went 9-11 last week. Think about that. Dude likes to call himself a grid expert, SI.com entrusts him to live-blog NFL games, and he hacks up a week below .500? His sister-in-law (in nine more days) is kicking his arse in the extended family's NFL pool. The lady of Agganis Manor would be pounding him, too, based on her "Which city would I rather visit?" system. That 111-69 overall record for the season doesn't look so impressive, either.
On to the picks (confidence points in parentheses):
BROWNS 17, BRONCOS 16 (9): Brady's back! His ACL's healed! Oh, wrong Brady, wrong team. Still, a listing Denver ship means The Mighty Quinn wins his NFL debut.
PATRIOTS 23, BILLS 13 (11): Did Buffalo just play over its heads in its 5-1 start? Join me on SI.com at 1 Sunday to find out. As much as I kicked the Pats around above, they played a big road game without a turnover or getting Cassel sacked.
FALCONS 23, SAINTS 21 (10): Atlanta may not have the feel of a team of destiny, but it does have the look of an NFC South winner.
TITANS 20, BEARS 14 (8): I'd have picked Chicago to terminate the Titans' unbeaten run, but with Rex Grossman???
JAGUARS 26, LIONS 13 (4): No. Jacksonville is not going to kill the "W" goose egg of back-to-back opponents.
VIKINGS 27, PACKERS 23 (6): Tough call...go with the Pack's less-than-stellar record under the Mylar.
DOLPHINS 17, SEAHAWKS 10 (13): The bird (its offense, at least) rots from the head.
JETS 31, RAMS 15 (14): If New York can avoid getting caught looking ahead to New England next week...
TEXANS 16, RAVENS 13 (5): The Baltimore offense still hasn't quite made the sale.
PANTHERS 27, RAIDERS 10 (12): That Al Davis gargoyle I put on the front step last Friday worked. I'm still scarfing all that leftover Halloween candy.
STEELERS 26, COLTS 16 (15): Really. how do I bet against Pittsburgh after the beatdown it laid on Washington Monday night?
CHARGERS 24, CHIEFS 17 (3): San Diego has only two more wins than Kansas City, believe it or not.
GIANTS 23, EAGLES 21 (7): I got the perfect day Sunday: Pats, duck out for dinner and a movie with the lady of the manor, and return right in time for a Sunday night special.
CARDINALS 34. 49ers 0 (16): At 8:29 p.m. Monday, I will go downstairs and smell my golden retriever. One minute later, the rest of the nation will smell this mangy mutt of a game.
On to college...
UTAH 30, TCU 25: What a week in Utah: the state religion's functionaries made sure those heathen Californians can't enjoy gay marriage, and the state school stays unbeaten.
GEORGIA TECH 21, NORTH CAROLINA 20: I believe in Paul Johnson. If he could win with Navy, he can win with average-sized linemen.
ALABAMA 34, LSU 20: The Nick Saban Grudge Bowl. What, he took the Tigers' whole defense with him?
OKLAHOMA STATE 44, TEXAS TECH 31: Hearken back to '93. Notre Dame wins Game of the Year with Florida State in South Bend, then trips over Notre Dame in front of Touchdown Jesus next week. I smell letdown, which is fatal in the loaded Big 12 South.
USC 37, CALIFORNIA 17: It's not a Washington state school, thankfully. The Trojans rang up a combined 125-0 on the two Washington schools.
PENN STATE 31, IOWA 10: The Nittanies ace their final road test.