Perhaps the best thing about professional sports is also the worst thing. You can try and make good predictions, but they’ll always throw you a curve ball when you least expect it. Last year’s champion can be this year’s chump. A team can follow an impressive victory with a stunning defeat. And the Dallas Cowboys can lose to the St. Louis Rams. Stupid Terrell Owens. Stupid Brad Johnson.

I’m trying to enter Week 8 in the NFL with an air of optimism, but there’s no way I’ll know how things will pan out until I watch the games on Sunday. As before, all of these picks are based on the point spread, as provided by Caesar’s in Las Vegas. Wish my luck!

Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)
The Ravens are a better team than their 3-3 record would lead you to believe. Coming off a solid victory in Miami, I see no reason why they won’t have a field day at home against the Raiders.
Pick: Baltimore

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-4.5)
Despite being in one of the competitive divisions in the league, the Panthers have done very well for themselves. Jake Delhomme is taking home another win for Carolina.
Pick: Carolina

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys (-2.5)
Without Tony Romo at the helm and with the rest of the team not performing up to their usual standards, the Dallas Cowboys are a shadow of their former selves. The Bucs, by contrast, have had a great season and they continue to do well. It really pains me to go against the ‘boys, but I’m going to lean toward Tampa for this one.
Pick: Tampa Bay

Washington Redskins (-7.5) at Detroit Lions
Detroit remains winless on the season and I have every reason that will continue after Sunday’s game. At the same time, the Redskins have not exactly been dominating in their wins, so I don’t see them winning by more than a touchdown.
Pick: Detroit

Buffalo Bills (-1.5) at Miami Dolphins
The Bills are the real deal, even if they’re not earning the proper respect in the league. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of their season pans out.
Pick: Buffalo

St. Louis Rams at New England Patriots (-6.5)
St. Louis is hopeless. Yes, they have a two-game winning streak, including victories over Washington and Dallas, but they’re really not that good. The Patriots proved last week that they can win without Tom Brady and Matt Cassel is starting to get in a groove. I don’t think the Pats are going to win the Super Bowl, but they’ll beat the Rams for sure.
Pick: New England

San Diego Chargers (-2.5) at New Orleans Saints
This was one of the more difficult decisions of the week, but the Saints are going to be missing out on some key personnel, including Jeremy Shockey and Reggie Bush. It’ll be a battle, but the Bolts should come out on top.
Pick: San Diego

Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets (-13.5)
I’m reasonably sure that Brett Favre will win this game for his home crowd, but a two touchdown spread is a bit much for the relatively lacklustre Jets.
Pick: Kansas City

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (-8.5)
After winning a couple of close games with Green Bay and Chicago, the Falcons are poised for quite the upswing. They’re in the highly competitive NFC South and Matt Ryan is getting better by the day. Regardless of who comes out on top, this is going to be a close game. Philly is not covering the spread.
Pick: Atlanta

Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.5)
Some pundits had high hopes for the Browns going into this season and they have largely been disappointed. Give this one to the Jags.
Pick: Jacksonville

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-9.5)
Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson and the rest of the Bengal crew really need to get their act together. I don’t think they’re getting their first win of the season in Houston, but I don’t think the Texans have the firepower to win by 10 points either.
Pick: Cincinnati

New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)
The Steelers are a scary team to play at home, but we’re talking about the defending Super Bowl champions here. They’re used to being the underdog, but they’ve also grown accustomed to winning. Eli is currently the better Manning.
Pick: New York Giants

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-4.5)
This is a battle between two hopeless teams in an even more hopeless division. The Seahawks are injury-ridden and they do remarkably bad on the road. With Frank Gore bashing his way through the line, the Niners will win one at home.
Pick: San Francisco

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
You want good Monday Night Football? You’re going to get good Monday Night Football. The Titans are the only undefeated team in the league and it doesn’t seem like anyone can stop them. Can Peyton do it? I think so.
Pick: Indianapolis