And then....there was football. (And hockey.)
This week's picks...
Peter King, Sports Illustrated. Patriots 23, Raiders 20. "The Richard Seymour Revenge Bowl sure doesn't sound like a vengeful game for the ex-Pat. He's soft-pedaled it all week. I'm starting to like Oakland a lot. I won't like them much, though, if Darren McFadden doesn't play like McFadden after straining his groin in the win over the Jets. I'm taking New England because, as if you hadn't noticed, Bill Belichick is not a big fan of losing two in a row ... and because they're putting up 540 yards per game."
ESPN.com staff: Seven out of nine pick the Patriots
CBS Sports.com staff: Four out of five pick the Patriots.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News. Patriots 30, Raiders 17. "Bill Belichick is one of the best coaches in NFL history at avoiding consecutive losses. You can bet he'll help clean up all the little mistakes QB Tom Brady and his defense made in the shocking meltdown at Buffalo. Belichick excels at game-planning to take away his opponent's strength, and in this case that?s McFadden. The Raiders will also help the Pats' cause with plenty of mistakes."
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com. Raiders 16, Patriots 13. "A week after a reprise of the Heidi game, Raiders fans get a taste of the Go Tuck Yourself bowl. This time, Oakland has Richard Seymour and an offense that the Patriots may not be able to handle. The home team needs to grind the clock and get after Tom Brady, aggressively. Maybe after this one people will begin to actually notice that we may be in the early days of a Renaissance in Raider Nation."
Gregg Rosenthal, ProFootballTalk.com. Patriots 34, Raiders 30. "What a great matchup. The ultimate pass-first team against the best smashmouth squad in football. Richard Seymour and Oakland?s deep defensive line against his old buddies Logan Mankins and Matt Light. This matchup scares the Patriots because of Darren McFadden. It should scare the Oakland secondary even more. Tom Brady is the right guy to expose the Raiders' depth issues."
Greg Cote, Miami Herald. Patriots 37, Raiders 27. "Game of the Week first-alternate tops the marquee with NFL's No. 1 passer in Pats' Tom Brady and No. 1 rusher in Oaks? Darren McFadden. The latter will get his yards, but I much prefer the likelihood that Brady will fill the sky with fireworks against a Raiders pass defense allowing 290 yards per game. Oakies have won three of past four at home vs. English, but I?ll trump that trend with Pats having scored 30-plus in 11 straight games. Elite teams don?t lose two games in a row. And New England won't."
Peter Schrager, FoxSports.com. Patriots 28, Raiders 23. "I think I speak for most NFL fans when I say that it's darn good to have the Oakland Raiders respected, relevant and feared again. It's certainly been a while. Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly - one half of the NFL's best defensive line - combined for a sack of Mark Sanchez on Sunday and Seymour got up with his arms crossed, explaining after the game, "When I throw up the 'X,' that means it's time to put the kids to bed. It's X-rated out there. That means if you're 13 and under, don't watch this." There's something awfully '70's Commitment to Excellence-ish about this defense and the power run game screams of 'Just Win, Baby.' No one's been able to stop Tom Brady. This defense, in front of that crowd, can. I'm taking the Patriots, but they'll have to earn every inch in this one."
USA Today staff. Six out of eight pick the Pats.
Yahoo! Sports staff. Patriots across the board.
Sam Farmer, Chicago Tribune. Patriots 30, Raiders 24. "Patriots better be careful. Raiders very dangerous, especially with way Darren McFaddenis running. But Tom Brady seldom has two bad games in row."
It says here: Patriots 27, Raiders 20. Stevan Ridley emerges. For real, this time.