Big weekend for football teams in the Valley. After last week's episodes, there certainly hasn't been a shortage of chatter surrounding the three pigskin teams that matter.
Some positive feedback, some
downright depressing negative feedback.
Still, a new week is upon us. Two teams look to regroup while one team looks to make a statement. Let's take a gander at this week's matchups, Vegas-style.
Arizona State +11 vs. Oregon
Let me just start out by saying that I was way off-base with this one last week. I thought ASU didn't stand a chance against Wisconsin, and
my wallet I was proven dead wrong. Not only did they cover, but they basically should have won the game. To be honest, I still don't quite understand how they didn't.
At this point, the Sun Devils exist in a weird void that the Cardinals clung to during the Denny Green era. The fanbase completely and fully expects to lose the big game. Even when everything is going right, we're all just waiting for the tipping point. When Thomas Weber's extra point was blocked, it was basically a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hell, it wasn't even shocking. The basic reaction I got from all of my ASU buddies was "I knew it," or "That's the Sun Devils for ya." Sad.
Though, I must say that last week's ridiculousness set up the perfect storm for this week's line. By reaching that rare gray area of getting-as-close-to-winning-as-you-can-possibly-get-without-actually-winning against the #11 ranked team in the country, Arizona State has, against-all-odds, become overestimated.
Meanwhile, the Ducks are currently the holders of what may possibly be the most mind-blowing stat these ears have ever heard. Oregon has scored 1.05 points per minute through three games. 189 points in 180 minutes. Outrageous. If there ever was such a thing as gambling lock (which there isn't), it would have to be this spread. The Sun Devils should have no answer for Chip Kelly's explosive spread offense.
Honestly, I think the Ducks have a 99.9% chance of winning this game. Best (worst?) case scenario: the Sun Devils keep it close until completely falling apart in the fourth.
Though, maybe they can prove me wrong again.
Intern Prediction: Oregon 47, Arizona State 17
Arizona -6.5 vs. California
These Cats are legit. Even when they were blowing a lead, their body language exuded confidence. That's the sign of a good team; knowing you're going to win, even when everybody else believes otherwise.
Also, it is worth noting that Arizona Stadium has transformed into one the most considerable home field advantages in all of the Pac-10. The Tucson faithful were absolutely raucous on Saturday. There is something to be said for the power of the 12th man.
This week Arizona actually gets a breather from the usually tough Pac-10 schedule. California lost to Nevada last weekend. Nevada. It wasn't even close either. The Wolf Pack hung up 52 points on the Golden. That's just embarrassing.
I'm going to go out on a limb here, and submit that Arizona is a much better team than Nevada. By that logic, the equation so far goes Arizona>Nevada>California. I see very little chance of Cal springing the upset.
Intern Prediction: Arizona 38, California 20
Cardinals -4 vs. Raiders
I just don't even know what to think about the Cardinals anymore. Last Sunday's game against the Falcons was absolutely atrocious. I quit watching it before they even reached the fourth quarter. How is a defense with so many talented players going to let Jason Snelling, of all people, run up and down the field on them?
After a loss like that, the Cardinals desperately need a self-esteem boost. Enter the Oakland Raiders. The silver & black have the privileged distinction of being the second worst team over the last seven years. Since 2003 they have compiled a record of 29-83, barely beating out the Detroit Lions (28-84). They have yet to win more than five games in a single season throughout that span. The Raiders take losing to a different level.
That being said, Oakland has looked decent as of late. Last weekend they rode the hot hand of newly appointed starter, Bruce Gradkowski, to a comeback win over the Rams. So far Darren McFadden has exploded for 303 all-purpose yards in the first two games and is starting to resemble the manchild he was in college.
With both teams' sole victories coming against the lowly Rams, this becomes a strange matchup. Neither team is really sure of how good they are. While I don't believe that it's panic time yet, Sunday's game against the Raiders could go a long way in proving otherwise. Depending on the manner of it, a loss would be disastrous. If the Cardinals are a middle-of-the-road team, like we all suspect, then this is a game we cannot afford to drop. Mediocre teams have to beat the other mediocre teams on their schedule to even have a shot in this league. At this point, I'm not convinced that the Cards are good enough to be able to sacrifice winnable games and still come out ahead in the division.
Last year the Red Birds didn't lose back-to-back games all season. The veteran leadership on the team simply wouldn't allow it. I think that stat will live on to fight another day.
Intern Prediction: Cardinals 24, Oakland 20
Last week's record: 2-1