Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Wild Card Weekend Predictions

No. 5 Atlanta Falcons 27 at No. 4 Arizona Cardinals 31- I honestly don't understand the hype surrounding the Falcons. Sure, they had a good record this year but looking at their schedule they had two wins that were actually impressive (on the road against the Vikings in week 16 and at home against the Panthers in week 12) while the rest were mostly vanilla. Not that the Cardinals have been particularly impressive this season either, but at least Kurt Warner has playoff experience, good receivers, and an offense that demands he throw to them on 65% of the snaps. No matter how you swing it, Atlanta's secondary just isn't that good, and while Matt Ryan probably has a bright future I wouldn't expect a road win.

No. 5 Indianapolis 20 at No. 4 San Diego 23- Now three-time MVP Peyton Manning has carried, dragged, and willed the Colts to 9 straight victories after a rocky 3-4 start. Despite finishing 8-8 the Chargers have the momentum after taking the division from Denver in a brutal 52-21 rout in the regular season finale. While the Colts have only allowed 6 passing touchdowns all season, the run defense is still the same porous unit we saw in 2006. If the Colts can manage to slow down LT (who finally looked like himself again in week 17) and the up-and-coming Darren Sproles, Philip Rivers will probably make some turnovers and give the Colts a chance. The simple fact is that the Chargers are a dangerous team again.

No. 6 Baltimore 14 at No. 3 Miami 17- Again, experience should trump the hype surrounding Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh's renewed Ravens squad. Chad Pennington posted a career year in yards and threw 19 touchdowns to only 7 picks, and was a deserving candidate for MVP. After getting the Dolphins into the playoffs over Brett Favre and the Jets, look for Pennington to keep rubbing salt in Mike Tannenbaum's open wounds with playoff victory.

No. 6 Philadelphia 24 at No. 3 Minnesota 31- Somehow the Eagles managed to sneak their way into the postseason with losses by Tampa Bay, Chicago, and their resounding victory over division rival Dallas in the final week of the regular season. However, the Eagles have been a spotty team all year and it's hard to believe that any quarterback (yes, even Tarvaris Jackson) could have trouble finding open receivers when they've got Adrian Peterson in the backfield waiting to break a 70-yard touchdown.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Week 17 Results

St. Louis 27, Atlanta 31 (predicted: St. Louis 17, Atlanta 41) - Atlanta earned the #5 seed in the NFC by beating the hapless Rams in the week 17 finale. The Falcons get to play the Cardinals, who have recently lost 3 out of 4.

Chicago 24, Houston 31 (predicted: Chicago 20, Houston 27) - Chicago's loss to the Texans ended up not mattering as the Vikings managed to edge the Giants on a Ryan Longwell field goal as time expired. The Bears are going to have to address some significant age and skill issues in the offseason, especially on defense and at wide receiver.

Minnesota 20, NYG 19 (predicted: NYG 20, Minnesota 31) - The Vikings claim the NFC North title, while the Giants played their backups for three quarters and still put up a fight. By the way, other than Adrian Peterson's 67-yard touchdown run, he had 36 yards on 20 carries. By the way, 9 fumbles on the season for Peterson? That has to stop.

Carolina 33, New Orleans 31
(predicted: Carolina 24, New Orleans 34) - Drew Brees needed 16 yards to tie Dan Marino and would have had it if his final throw hadn't been so low. The Saints lost their chance to knock the Panthers out of the #2 seed despite having a 21-point fourth quarter.

Cleveland 0, Pittsburgh 31 (predicted: Cleveland 9, Pittsburgh 23) - Make that 6 games without a touchdown. GM Phil Savage was sent packing, and Romeo Crennel is next to go. Ben Roethlisberger got slammed to the ground and has a concussion, he'll have a week to recover as the Steelers have the #2 seed in the playoffs.

Oakland 31, Tampa Bay 24 (predicted: Oakland 17, Tampa Bay 30) - As soon as Monte Kiffin announced he was leaving to go to the Vols, the Tampa Bay defense fell apart. Michael Bush rushed for 177 yards and 2 carries. When's the last time you read that sentence??

Tennessee 0, Indianapolis 23 (predicted: Tennessee 24, Indianapolis 21) - Peyton Manning has his 9th straight 4,000 yard season, Dallas Clark sets the franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end, and Marvin Harrison moves to second in the all-time receptions list. The Titans don't do much of anything and hand the Colts their 9th straight win.

Detroit 21, Green Bay 31 (predicted: Detroit 13, Green Bay 28) - PERFECTION!!! One can only hope that the Lions manage to draft 21 starters in April.

New England 13, Buffalo 0 (predicted: New England 31, Buffalo 23) - The Patriots managed to blank the Bills in some of the windiest conditions I've seen in a game. The crossbars were slanted a good 5 degrees from the horizontal in opposite directions at either end of the field. The Bills looked good in the first quarter running the ball 100% of the time, but you know that it's not going to work for longer than that. It didn't. It's too bad that the Patriots' and Matt Cassel's efforts ultimately ended up being for nothing due to the Dolphins capturing the AFC East division title.

Kansas City 6, Cincinnati 16 (predicted: Kansas City 16, Cincinnati 21) - A long season ends in a whimper for both of these struggling teams.

Jacksonville 7, Baltimore 27 (predicted: Jacksonville 20, Baltimore 27) - Baltimore clinches the 6th seed in the conference and heads to Miami to the site where they gave the Dolphins their only win last season. The Jags took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter before LeRon Mcclain and Willis McGahee scored in the second to put the game away.

Miami 24, NYJ 17 (predicted: Miami 24, NYJ 23) - Bye bye Brett Favre. After throwing 3 interceptions (one of which panned to a shot of Eric Mangini mouthing "Why throw it??" afterwards), I'd be surprised if the Jets wanted him back. Chad Pennington adds insult to injury by beating his former team for the Dolphins first playoff appearance since 2000. Just goes to show that sometimes not even $140 million dollars in free agency will buy you a playoff berth.

Seattle 21, Arizona 34 (predicted: Seattle 24, Arizona 17) - The Cardinals showed that they won't necessarily roll over and die in their first playoff game in years. They'll have to deal with Michael Turner and Matt Ryan, both of whom are capable of beating nearly anything the lackluster Cardinals defense can throw at them.

Washington 24, San Francisco 27 (predicted: Washington 17, San Francisco 27) - Mike Singletary wins again. He certainly deserves to be the 49ers head coach, finishing with a 5-4 record (1-0 against Vernon Davis).

Dallas 6, Philadelphia 44 (predicted: Dallas 10, Philadelphia 7) - What? Another choke job? My favorite part of this game was the drive summary for the Cowboys in the second half: fumble, fumble, fumble, punt, punt, field goal, punt. Jerry Jones claims he's not going to make changes in the offseason to the coaching staff, but with the Cowboys' performance this season not matching up to the talent they have on the roster it's hard to see him sitting on his hands for another season. TO's not getting any younger, and their time is clearly now.

Denver 21, San Diego 52 (predicted: Denver 31, San Diego 37) - The Chargers absolutely trounced the Broncos and their "defense." Philip Rivers seemingly had all day in the pocket, and several times he went through all 5 of his reads before going back to an earlier option and launching it down the field (usually a completion). Thank you, San Diego, for invalidating Denver and their horrible defense as a playoff team. Not that the Chargers really deserve it either, but the real winners in this situation are probably the Indianapolis Colts who travel to San Diego in wild card weekend.

11/16 this week, 159/254 on the season (62.5%).

Week 17 Predictions

St. Louis 17, Atlanta 41- Atlanta goes up 27-3 in the first half, pulls all their starters, and still scores two more touchdowns. With a Falcons win and a Panthers loss, the Falcons win the NFC South. Who saw that coming? Not Bobby Petrino.

Chicago 20, Houston 27- Must-win for Chicago to keep their hopes alive in the NFC North. The Vikings still have to lose to the Giants second-stringers, but hey... with Tarvaris Jackson, anything's possible (yes, anything- even four touchdown passes). But considering Chicago can't stop the pass and Andre Johnson can't really be covered by anyone, I give the Texans the edge.

NYG 20, Minnesota 31- The Giants won't play their starters for more than a half, even though they have absolutely nothing riding on this game. By contrast, the Vikings and Adrian Peterson can get into the playoffs with a victory over the defending champs.

Carolina 24, New Orleans 34- The Saints are just going to throw the ball 50 times to try and get Drew Brees the record. Hey, it's not as good as a playoff season, but at least it's something.

Cleveland 9, Pittsburgh 23- The Browns haven't scored a touchdown in the past 5 games. Make that 6.

Oakland 17, Tampa Bay 30- The Bucs managed to put themselves in a must-win situation in their final game by losing in spectacular fashion to the Chargers. Even then it probably won't be enough for the wild card.

Tennessee 24, Indianapolis 21- I'm sure everyone is thrilled to see a Jim Sorgi vs. Vince Young matchup. Oh wait, it's exactly like week 17 last year... without the playoff intrigue.

Detroit 13, Green Bay 28- PERFECTION!

New England 31, Buffalo 23- A loss eliminates the Patriots. Don't count on it against the floundering Bills.

Kansas City 16, Cincinnati 21- The 5 people watching this on TV will be sorry they wasted their time. Not to mention the other 5 in Paul Brown Stadium.

Jacksonville 20, Baltimore 27- If the Ravens win they get into the postseason and eliminate the Patriots. Sweet, sweet revenge for Bart "Flag Thrower" Scott after last year's 4th quarter, 4th down debacle.

Miami 24, NYJ 23- Chad Pennington's chance to make the Jets regret trading for a washed-out quarterback with an ego. I love how the Packers managed to structure the deal so they can still cheer for Favre; a playoff appearance means they get a second round pick instead of a third round pick.

Seattle 24, Arizona 17- Arizona has looked awful since winning the NFC West a few weeks ago, while Seattle is looking to go out with a bang after beating the Jets in Seattle and putting a serious damper on their playoff hopes.

Washington 17, San Francisco 27- Don't expect Washington to care too much about this one, as they're eliminated from contention. Clinton Portis probably won't play, while Mike Singletary reportedly will sign a multi-year deal to become the 49ers head coach. I like it.

Dallas 10, Philadelphia 7- Knowing the 2008 Eagles they'll suck again in what will probably be a weather game. Seriously, I wish both teams could lose so I will stop having to listen to announcers say the phrase "pre-season Super Bowl favorites" over and over again.

Denver 31, San Diego 37- The only good thing about this game is that both teams usually don't play defense, so it should be a shootout. Since it's in San Diego it probably won't be a weather game. Otherwise I question the flexing of the most anti-climactic division title game since we saw the Cardinals "clinch" the NFC West. That Denver can even be in a position to not win the division says a lot about their team. By the way, someone needs to remind all of the Chargers that you *can* tie in the NFL- a tie gives the division to the Broncos.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Week 16 Results

Indianapolis 31, Jacksonville 24 (predicted: Indianapolis 27, Jacksonville 21) - Indianapolis secured the #5 seed in the playoffs with Keiwan Ratliff's TAINT late in the fourth quarter. At the half the Colts were down 17-7 before outscoring the Jags 17-7 tying at 24 with around 6 minutes to play. The game ended with a Dwight Freeney sack in the Colts red zone. Peyton Manning had a stellar performance; 29/34 for 364 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. He's a late bloomer in the MVP race, and the way early-season favorites Brett Favre, Drew Brees, and Kurt Warner have been playing (or not playing, by the looks of it) lately he's got a strong case.

Baltimore 33, Dallas 24 (predicted: Baltimore 13, Dallas 24) - This game was hilarious. The Cowboys kept things under control in the first half, going into halftime down only 9-7. The fireworks really started in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys took a 19-17 lead and then let Willis McGahee break of a 77 yard run. The Cowboys answered with a Jason Witten touchdown reception before Le'Ron Mcclain scored on an 82 yard run. 82 yards for a fullback. The funniest part was that nearly the entire Cowboys team had a chance to tackle him, but were either stiff-armed, blocked by their own teammates, or owned by Mark Clayton. The Cowboys go into their week 17 game against Philadelphia with everything on the line for both teams. Oh, and to make it even better: Jerry Jones asked the NFL to schedule the Cowboys' Texas Stadium finale against the Ravens because it "looked like a winnable game."

Cincinnati 14, Cleveland 0 (predicted: Cincinnati 20, Cleveland 17) - Posting a donut at home is pretty pathetic, but it's the Browns. Romeo Crennel says that if he's given a chance he can turn things around- but I would argue that he's already done that this season. 10-6 in 2007 to 4-12 in 2008 is quite a turnaround. They're the AFC North version of the Jacksonville Jaguars- playoff teasers that actually suck.

Pittsburgh 14, Tennessee 31 (predicted: Pittsburgh 13, Tennessee 10) - Just when everyone was singing Pittsburgh's praises, they commit 4 turnovers to Tennessee's zero. How Pittsburgh has managed to win 11 games with an "offensive line" I have no idea. Oh wait... usually their defense makes up for it. It didn't in Tennessee.

San Diego 41, Tampa Bay 24 (predicted: San Diego 17, Tampa Bay 27) - With the Charger victory on the road and the Broncos' loss against Buffalo in Denver, the AFC West title is still undecided. This is the most uninteresting division race since ... well, I can't even remember when. The Bucs watched their playoff hopes dwindle in the form of Antonio Gates in the back of the end zone and a bloody Jeff Garcia throwing a pick-6 to Antoine Cason.

New Orleans 42, Detroit 7 (predicted: New Orleans 20, Detroit 31) - Well, this prediction is probably one of the worst of the year... but the Saints looked vulnerable before the game at least. Dan Orlovsky earned the starting spot in week 17 going 10/23 for 125 yards and 2 interceptions. Thrilling.

New England 47, Arizona 7 (predicted: Arizona 10, New England 34) - My hatred of FOX is solidified after they made me watch this entire game. There isn't much to tell; Kurt Warner looked old, the Cardinals' defense couldn't tackle, and Wes Welker got a 15-yard penalty for making a snow angel. At the half the Patriots were winning 31-0, yet for some reason both teams kept playing their starters until well into the fourth quarter. It's not like I wanted to watch Miami/Kansas City, or San Diego/Tampa Bay, but at least those games were still in doubt at halftime.

Miami 38, Kansas City 31 (predicted: Miami 26, Kansas City 20) - Miami keeps the pace with New England for the division lead going into their final game against New York. Tyler Thigpen needs to stop throwing to the other team and maybe the Chiefs will win a game. Herm Edwards says he isn't stepping down as Chiefs' coach... does he even have a say in the matter? Resign while you've still got some dignity left.

San Francisco 17, St. Louis 16 (predicted: San Francisco 27, St. Louis 16) - Mike Singletary improves to 4-4 even though two of those wins are against the Rams. He should be able to keep his job as head coach. Can't say the same for Jim Haslett.

Buffalo 30, Denver 23 (predicted: Buffalo 7, Denver 24) - The main jist of Western New York's sports pages on Monday morning was "too late" which is certainly true. Denver lost a golden opportunity to seal the division against the basement of the AFC East. Trent Edwards returned to his game-manager ways with a 17/25, 193 yard, 1 touchdown performance that strangely recalled his oh-so-long-ago September and October days.

NYJ 3, Seattle 13 (predicted: NYJ 30, Seattle 10) - Did Favre lose this game on purpose to Mike Holmgren (his former coach) in his send-off from Qwest Field just like he gave Michael Strahan the single-season sack record? The only conclusion that anyone could possibly come to is that Brett Favre is ruining the game of football. He should retire... again.

Houston 16, Oakland 27 (predicted: Houston 33, Oakland 17) - I would berate Houston for losing to the Raiders, but in a game where both teams were long-eliminated from contention improving your draft spot is the way to go.

Atlanta 24, Minnesota 17 (predicted: Atlanta 20, Minnesota 28) - Uh yeah the Vikings, as well as the Broncos, lost a chance to put the division away and guarantee a playoff spot. Now the Bears are still alive and get to play Houston, while the Vikings have to beat the Giants. Needless to say, I think this loss will come back to haunt them.

Philadelphia 3, Washington 10 (predicted: Philadelphia 30, Washington 21) - Just when Eagles fans were starting to celebrate, Andy Reid and co. put up this stinker against a very mediocre Redskins team that had been floundering for the better part of two months. Leave it to Reggie Brown to come up just short of the touchdown on the Eagles' last possession- a microcosm of both his career and the 2007/2008 Eagles if I ever saw one.

Carolina 28, NYG 34 OT (predicted: Carolina 23, NYG 27) - This was a pretty good game which one might expect from two very good teams. The Giants were down 21-13 at the half and scored in the third quarter to bring it to 21-20 before a DeAngelo Williams touchdown followed by a Brandon Jacobs touchdown/2 point conversion tied it at 28. In overtime, three huge Derrick Ward rushes allowed Jacobs to punch it in again. Luckily for both teams they won't see another rushing attack anywhere near the caliber of the display they put on tonight, as neither defense could stop the other.

Green Bay 17, Chicago 20 OT (predicted: Green Bay 24, Chicago 31) - The Packers miss their second-to-last chance to be relevant and impact the Bears' postseason plans after a blocked field goal. Their remaining chance at being remembered in the 2008 season is if they lose to the 0-15 Detroit Lions in week 17.

Bad week at 7/16, 148/238 on the season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hilarious tidbit from NFL Network

Jamie Dukes on Dennis Northcutt being the Jaguars' #1 receiver: "There's something fundamentally wrong about this situation."


Week 16 Predictions

Indianapolis 27, Jacksonville 21 - With a win in Jacksonville the Colts can clinch a wildcard spot, capping off an impressive 8-game winning streak. The Jaguars are mired in their own problems with team chemistry, injuries, and suspensions. On the bright side, they're looking at a top-10 pick in the 2009 Draft, which may or may not be a good thing after how they handled Derrick Harvey.

Baltimore 13, Dallas 24 - The Cowboys are back and are looking to quell rumors that team chemistry could get in the way of a Super Bowl run. A win over the tough Baltimore defense keeps them a half game ahead of the Eagles and keeps the pace with the Bucs and the Falcons if they both win as well.

Cincinnati 20, Cleveland 17 - Last week's victory over the reeling Redskins showed that the Bengals aren't totally irrelevant. The Browns and the Ken Dorsey era look even worse than usual. Side note: Braylon Edwards wants out of Cleveland... what is he using as a bargaining chip here? Is he going to argue that he didn't drop all of those passes?

Pittsburgh 13, Tennessee 10 - Two of the best defenses square off to decide the first seed in the AFC, a prospect that seemed ridiculous just 3 weeks ago. The Titans, who had gotten to 10-0 on the legs of rookie Chris Johnson and bruiser Lendale White, have been exposed recently with losses to Houston and the Jets. The 2008 Steelers defense ranks among the top 5 in league history, and really have no glaring weaknesses. You can't run against Casey Hampton. You can't pass against Troy Polamalu and Bryant McFadden. Outside linebackers James Harrison (15 sacks) and Lamarr Woodley (11.5 sacks) are dominating. If the Titans can't get the run game going and with the absences of DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Albert Haynesworth, they could be in for a long day.

San Diego 17, Tampa Bay 27 - San Diego pulled a win out of nowhere against the lowly Chiefs to keep their postseason hopes alive. Sadly for them, the Bucs have not lost a game at home and could become the second team in the division to post an 8-0 home record (along with the Panthers). The Bucs need this game to stay in the wild card race.

New Orleans 20, Detroit 31 - Surprisingly the Lions do have two more realistically winnable games in their final two weeks of a dismal 2008 season. The Saints travel to Detroit, out of the playoff race and with Reggie Bush on injured reserve. The Lions played 50 minutes of great football in week 14 before falling apart on defense against the Colts. The Dan Orlovsky/Calvin Johnson duo should have a big game.

Arizona 10, New England 34 - Ever since claiming the division title the Cardinals haven't won a game. On the road across 3 time zones facing a desperate Patriots team, the Cardinals have a realistic shot at an 8-8 playoff appearance. And besides, last week they got ripped apart by Tarvaris Jackson. You read that right.

Miami 26, Kansas City 20 - The Chiefs really have nothing to play for at this point. Their front office is on the verge of a huge makeover with the resignation of longtime GM Carl Peterson. With the regime change will probably come a new starting quarterback and the replacement of many familiar faces among the ranks, including Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson. The Dolphins are amidst a historic turnaround and need to win to stay in the AFC East division race.

San Francisco 27, St. Louis 16 - Despite the obvious disparity in their records, the Rams have easily looked like the worst team in the league in recent weeks. At least the Lions are scoring.

Buffalo 7, Denver 24 - If Trent Edwards winds up starting then I could see Buffalo making a more respectable showing along the lines of 20-24 or so. The Broncos have dropped several games to vastly inferior opponents, and the defense hasn't even been the problem in all of them. Jay Cutler, who was previously annointed as the second coming of John Elway, has just plain sucked against the Panthers, Raiders, and Patriots. If the Broncos win they win the division.

NYJ 30, Seattle 10 - The Jets need to get back on track after the Bills lost to Dick Jauron in week 14 and to the 49ers in week 13. A loss to the Seahawks and a Patriots victory means that everything comes down to the week 17 matchup against Miami.

Houston 33, Oakland 17 - The Texans have been impressive in late November and late December and currently are on a 4-game winning streak (which I believe is a franchise record). The most interesting matchup will be arguably the NFL's best receiver Andre Johnson against arguably the best shutdown cornerback since Deion Sanders in Nnamdi Asomugha.

Atlanta 20, Minnesota 28 - The Vikings can finish where they left off last year by securing the division title and a playoff spot over the Falcons in the Metrodome. To make things interesting, they have to do it without the Kevin half of the Williams wall and are facing one of the best rookie quarterbacks in history who happens to be paired with an elite wide receiver (Roddy White) and a Pro Bowl running back (Michael Turner).

Philadelphia 30, Washington 21 - With the Redskins in disarray, half of the conference has to lose their next two games for them to make the playoffs. The Eagles under Donovan McNabb have returned to 2004 form and have racked up impressive victories since McNabb's benching against the Ravens. A Washington loss eliminates them.

Carolina 23, NYG 27 - The winner of this game takes the first seed in the NFC with one week to play, and like Pittsburgh-Tennessee the teams are of similar composition. Great defense, a game manager quarterback, and a strong running game. The Panthers have the edge on offense due to Steve Smith, while the Giants lack a dominant receiving threat on the outside. If Brandon Jacobs can't play, this will be a really interesting game for both teams.

Green Bay 24, Chicago 31 - The Packers are at 5-9 and are searching more for answers than for victories. The Bears need a win to stay in the wild card race, as the division title is probably out of reach at this point. A series of questionable moves in the depth chart as well as injuries to key defensive starters have taken their toll on the Packers' season.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Week 15 Results

New Orleans 24, Chicago 27 (predicted: New Orleans 20, Chicago 28) - The Saints are mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, and are now fighting to have a winning season. They play the 0-14 Lions in week 16 followed by the Panthers at home in a game that could decide the #1 seed in the NFC.

Tennessee 12, Houston 13 (predicted: Tennessee 30, Houston 17) - A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how the Titans could lose this one looking ahead to next week's match against Pittsburgh. Of course I didn't think to stand by that in my prediction, but there it is. The Titans had no answer for Andre Johnson, who set a franchise record with 207 receiving yards.

Detroit 21, Indianapolis 31 (predicted: Detroit 10, Indianapolis 37) - Dallas Clark finally woke up with 142 yards and a touchdown, and this game was actually tied with about 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Calvin Johnson had his way with the small Colts defensive backs, but once again the Lions couldn't close.

Seattle 23, St. Louis 20 (predicted: Seattle 26, St. Louis 14) - Someone had to win.

Green Bay 16, Jacksonville 20 (predicted: Green Bay 27, Jacksonville 24) - Ouch. The Packers have dropped 6 of their last 7 games since their impressive 34-14 thrashing of the Colts in week 7. Good thing Brett Favre isn't doing any better in New York. Oh wait...

Buffalo 27, NYJ 31 (predicted: Buffalo 20, NYJ 33) - Dick Jauron has to be fired for this one, right? Inside two minutes when your opponent has no time outs and 5 yards to go for a first down and a running back that had been destroying the opposing team all day, and you call a play action pass? Wow... what could possibly go wrong? Then you remember that your quarterback is JP Losman and that the Bills are one of the most unlucky teams in the league. A forced fumble and recovery by Shaun Ellis returned for a touchdown gave the Jets an improbable win, and the deadlock remains at the top of the AFC East.

San Francisco 9, Miami 14 (predicted: San Francisco 13, Miami 27) - How many different receivers are going to score for the Dolphins this season? Honestly, who has ever heard of Joey Haynos?

Tampa Bay 10, Atlanta 13 (predicted: Tampa Bay 24, Atlanta 31) - The Bucs are probably going to have to hope for a wild card spot (again) after losing to the Falcons, who are also 9-5 but are behind Tampa Bay at the moment by virtue of the conference record tiebreaker.

San Diego 22, Kansas City 21 (predicted: San Diego 31, Kansas City 24) - Well the Chiefs actually did pull a minor victory out of this ugly come-from-ahead loss to the Chargers. Chiefs GM Carl Peterson announced his resignation at the conclusion of the season.

Minnesota 35, Arizona 14 (predicted: Minnesota 20, Arizona 27) - In what should be a minor preview of whatever playoff game Arizona plays in first, the Vikings sat back to defend the pass and stymied the Cardinals one-dimensional offense the entire game. Meanwhile Tarvaris Jackson threw 4 touchdowns to one interception. doubling his previous career high. What's going to happen when the Cardinals play the Bucs, Bears, or Cowboys?

Piitsburgh 13, Baltimore 9 (predicted: Pittsburgh 17, Baltimore 14) - Fun game to watch, but the Steelers pulled it out in the end. I do think Santonio Holmes scored legitimately, and even if he didn't the Ravens shouldn't have let him get wide open in the first place. So there.

Denver 10, Carolina 30
(predicted: Denver 21, Carolina 34) - The Panthers finish up 8-0 at home, and now have two tough road games against the Giants (which could decide who gets the #1 seed in the NFC playoff picture) and the Saints (who would love to play spoiler in their home finale). Denver could have locked up the division title, but their loss and the Chargers' victory keeps the AFC West champion up in the air.

New England 49, Oakland 26 (predicted: New England 27, Oakland 6) - On one hand JaMarcus Russell looked like an actual NFL quarterback, throwing for 242 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception. Haven't checked in detail, but I'm willing to bet those are some of his best numbers on the year and, by extension, in his career. I think that's more due to the Patriots' defense being bad than Russell turning any kind of corner.

NYG 8, Dallas 20 (predicted: NYG 27, Dallas 23) - First of all, I don't buy into the current belief that Plaxico Burress' absence throws a wrench in the Giants' offense. In his last six games before he got suspended, he posted yardage totals of 0 (Arizona), 47 (Baltimore), 17 (Philadelphia), 34 (Dallas), 15 (Pittsburgh), and 24 (San Francisco). He scored 2 touchdowns in those 6 games. The Giants offensive line had a bad game of epic proportions and allowed DeMarcus Ware and the Dallas front 7 to sack Eli Manning seemingly at will.

Cleveland 10, Philadelphia 30 (predicted: Cleveland 27, Philadelphia 36) -And the Eagles are still making noise, although nobody honestly believes they'll get into the playoffs. Seems like Donovan McNabb could have used a benching in the Bears game in week 4 to get him on track.

10/15 this week, 141/222 on the season.

Week 15 Predictions

New Orleans 20, Chicago 28 - New Orleans has trouble winning on the road. With a competent (?) offense and a passable defense, the Bears are also fighting for a playoff spot while the Saints are all but out. I don't see the Saints spoiling the Bears' postseason aspirations in Chicago.

Tennessee 30, Houston 17- The Texans don't beat the Titans unless Sage Rosenfels is quarterback. Matt Schaub will probably get knocked out (again), and the Texans will be spending another season in the AFC South's basement.

Detroit 10, Indianapolis 37 - Possibly the league's hottest team against the worst team possibly in NFL history. Prediction 37 for the Colts is probably conservative.

Seattle 26, St. Louis 14 - Tough loss against the Patriots on the Seahawks' final possession to the Patriots at Qwest Field in week 14. Look for them to bounce back on the road against the Rams, who would be ranked at the bottom of every major statistical category if it weren't for the Lions.

Green Bay 27, Jacksonville 24 - With Fred Taylor's thumb injury probably ending his season and possibly ending his career in Jacksonville, the Jaguars can't wait for this season to be over. If it weren't for the San Diego Chargers, they'd definitely be the league's biggest disappointment after making it to the Divisional round of the playoffs last year. Meanwhile the Packers are nearly out of the race as well and the Green Bay defense, whose deficiencies were once masked by Brett Favre and the offense, has been exposed. This game is really more about bragging rights.

Buffalo 20, NYJ 33 - The Jets had two huge wins over the Patriots and the Titans, but then dropped two in a row to the Broncos and the 49ers. The alarming thing (or maybe it's a good thing come playoff time, if the Jets make it that far) about their losses is that the offense performed worse against higher-level defenses. Tied for first in the AFC East with New England and Miami, the Jets basically need to win out in order to guarantee a playoff spot.

San Francisco 13, Miami 27 - Miami has been scraping by, with a 16-3 victory over Buffalo in Toronto in week 14. Like the Jets, they need to win their remaining games in order to make the playoffs. What makes the situation interesting is that the Dolphins and the Jets play each other in week 17- neither will be able to rest their starters, and the additional Chad Pennington/Brett Favre drama makes it that much juicier.

Tampa Bay 24, Atlanta 31 - No NFC South road team has won a divisional game this year. That's pretty amazing, and the Bucs' defense got trounced by the Panthers on Monday Night Football in week 14. Atlanta doesn't have nearly the talent or depth at pretty much every position, but at home in the Georgia Dome they turn into a different team.

San Diego 31, Kansas City 24 - Sadly, amazingly, ridiculously, however you want to put it- the Chargers aren't out of the playoffs at 5-8 with 3 games to go. They must win all of their games including week 17's finale with Denver to get in by virtue of the third tiebreaker (record in common games). Denver also must lose all of their games, which could very well happen since the Broncos have been one of the most roller coaster teams this season.

Minnesota 20, Arizona 27 - Arizona locked up their first division title in 30-something years last week, and unfairly they have to face the Vikings and the Williams Wall. It doesn't matter too much as the Cardinals don't run the ball anyways, but the Cardinals still want to win and try to get a home playoff game. Does anyone see Arizona traveling to an NFC East stadium and winning? Didn't think so.

Pittsburgh 17, Baltimore 14- If you like defensive games, it doesn't get much better than this. These two teams are brutal to each other, and it should be fun to watch Ray Lewis cream Mewelde Moore.

Denver 21, Carolina 34 - In addition to the NFC South home team's perfect divisional record, NFC South home teams have lost something like 2 home games total. Denver just beat the Jets while the Panthers just destroyed the Bucs. Expect a shootout.

New England 27, Oakland 6 - This prediction hinges on the status of Matt Cassel, whose father recently passed away. I expect him to play and put up a Favre-ian like performance in Oakland (the good kind).

NYG 27, Dallas 23 - Probably the most storied divisional rivalry in recent years, Dallas is coming off of a tough-to-swallow loss to Pittsburgh while the Giants got outmuscled in Philadelphia. Last year the Giants harassed Tony Romo in both their second divisional matchup in Dallas as well as in the Divisional Round. The Cowboys are in the midst of their usual late-season collapse, while the Giants will be looking for someone to take out their anger on.

Cleveland 27, Philadelphia 36 - The Eagles' late season run should continue against the Browns, who have lost both of their starting quarterbacks. On Monday Night I'd even expect the Browns to put up some points, but I don't see them winning this one.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Week 14 Results

Oakland 7, San Diego 34 (predicted: Oakland 20, San Diego 23) - This was a lot more one-sided than I thought it would be. I guess the Raiders aren't capable of winning two games in a row, even against bad teams.

Jacksonville 10, Chicago 23 (predicted: Jacksonville 24, Chicago 31) - After Fred Taylor calling this year's Jaguars team "the worst he's ever been on" I find it highly unlikely that he'll be back next season. For that matter, Jack Del Rio's future should be in question, and David Garrard's $60 million contract extension isn't quite working out like they expected. Chicago isn't a great team, but they stayed in contention for the division title and gains ground in the wild card race.

Houston 24, Green Bay 21 (predicted: Houston 27, Green Bay 28) - This one probably stings as Houston ended Green Bay's playoff hopes for good. Matt Schaub's return from injury was highlighted by an impressive game-winning drive. Steve Slaton puts up yet another 100-yard game (120) while Kevin Walter continues to benefit from Andre Johnson's presence on the opposite side with 146 yards and a touchdown.

Atlanta 24, New Orleans 29 (predicted: Atlanta 27, New Orleans 38) - It's a tough spot to be in, but I honestly don't understand Mike Smith's decision to punt with 3 minutes left and down 5 points. Ok, maybe your defense can hold against some of the teams the Falcons have been playing lately, but Drew Brees at home? I don't think so. Atlanta missed a huge opportunity to take advantage of a weak team and possibly tie for second place in the division.

Cleveland 9, Tennessee 28 (predicted: Cleveland 6, Tennessee 34) - The Titans clinched the AFC South, ending the Colts' 6-year run. Pathetic effort from the Browns' offense, which was held to 185 total yards.

Philadelphia 20, NYG 14 (predicted: Philadelphia 34, NYG 40) - Apparently the Giants thought that they did a good enough job on Brian Westbrook in their first meeting and decided to take their chances. Oops. Westbrook was basically the Eagles' entire offense with 131 rushing yards and 72 receiving yards with a touchdown in each category. It's a good way to beat the Giants- throwing short to a quick running back who can take advantage of the Giants' defense which is built to rush the passer and not cover for very long on the back end. Luckily for the Giants they won't see another running like Westbrook for the rest of the year. Since nobody else is even close to the Giants in the standings, this game doesn't mean much.

Cincinnati 3, Indianapolis 35 (predicted: Cincinnati 13, Indianapolis 35) - The only surprise in this game was that Reggie Wayne didn't score a touchdown.

Minnesota 20, Detroit 16 (predicted: Minnesota 22, Detroit 30) - So close yet again. The Lions were holding a 13-10 lead until about a third of the way through the fourth quarter. With the remainder of their season being Indianapolis (who needs to keep winning to maintain their hold on the wild card), New Orleans (who wants to finish with a winning record) and the Packers (also just playin for pride), 0-16 is looking even more certain.

Miami 16, Buffalo 3 (predicted: Miami 24, Buffalo 20) - Ouch. The good news for Miami is that the Jets lost, so they're in a 3-way tie for first place in the AFC East and can put themselves in a position to control their own destiny when they play the Jets in New York in week 17. If the Jets tie with the Patriots, they currently hold the advantage by conference record.

NYJ 14, San Francisco 24 (predicted: NYJ 27, San Francisco 17) - OK seriously, how do you beat the Titans and Patriots on the road and then lose to the 49ers? Yes I realize that traveling cross-country is hard. Yes I realize that the 49ers have looked a lot better as of late after they beat the Bills in Buffalo. But come on, just a week ago everyone was talking about the Jets representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Kansas City 17, Denver 24 (predicted: Kansas City 23, Denver 30) - This was a close game, tied at 17 until about 10 minutes in the fourth quarter when Brandon Marshall caught a 6 yard pass for the game winner. Tony Gonzalez afterwards put up an outspoken defense of Tyler Thigpen, saying he deserves to the the Chiefs' starter next year. The Broncos lost their third (or is it fourth?) running back of the season when Peyton Hillis suffered a hamstring injury in the first half and did not return. He was later put on IR.

New England 24, Seattle 21 (predicted: New England 34, Seattle 14) - Ultimately it was the defense that sealed the game with an embarrassing blitz & strip from Brandon Meriwether, recovered by Richard Seymour. Matt Cassel didn't do anything to impress against the worst defense against quarterbacks in the league.

St. Louis 10, Arizona 34 (predicted: St. Louis 17, Arizona 37) - The Cardinals claim the NFC West title with a bludgeoning of the hapless Rams. Capped by two defensive touchdowns (including a 99 yard interception return by DRC, who by the way is having a much better season than his cousin Antonio) the Cardinals offense remains one dimensional as their running backs combined for a woeful 63 yards on 22 carries. Playoff team? Only by default.

Dallas 13, Pittsburgh 20 (predicted: Dallas 21, Pittsburgh 31) - Oh, so much drama surrounding this one. Terrell Owens continued to be nonexistent. Tony Romo couldn't complete a pass. Marion Barber didn't play and had the team owner question his toughness. His backup had 166 yards from scrimmage against the best defense in the league. Pittsburgh showed why their defense is ranked #1 and won the game for the Steelers in the final 3 minutes or so. The Cowboys continue their late-season tradition of collapse.

Washington 10, Baltimore 24 (predicted: Washington 24, Baltimore 20) - What happened to the Redskins? They are now at the bottom of their division at 7-5 and have lost something like 4 out of their last 5. Big road wins against Philadelphia and Dallas should have been huge building blocks, but they haven't won a division game since then. If the Redskins can win all of their remaining games they might be able to squeak into the playoffs. Honestly I doubt it.

Tampa Bay 23, Carolina 38 (predicted: Tampa Bay 17, Carolina 28) -When I think of quarterback stat lines, I don't think "Jeff Garcia" and "317 yards." The Panthers literally danced around Tampa Bay's cover-2, which is a little alarming for a team aiming for the 5th or 6th seed in the playoffs. The numbers put up by the Panthers are frightening: 186 yards and 2 TDs for DeAngelo Williams on 19 carries (9.8 YPC!), 115 yards for 2 TDs on 15 carries (7.7 YPC!) for Jonathan Stewart, 117 yards for a TD on 9 receptions for Steve Smith, and even Jake Delhomme gave us something to worry about with 173 yards, 2 interceptions, and a touchdown on 20 attempts. The Bucs on the other hand ran their offense through Antonio Bryant, who had a freakish game with 200 receiving yards (career high) and 2 touchdowns on just 9 receptions. I guess it was his way of congratulating Chris Gamble on that huge contract extension he just signed. Carolina secures first place in the NFC South.

11/16 this week, 131/207 on the season.

Week 14 Predictions

Oakland 20, San Diego 23 - The first game between these two teams was a horrible game that saw the Raiders imploding and the Chargers barely scraping by. I feel bad for anyone who watches this game, as both of these teams are going nowhere.

Jacksonville 24, Chicago 31 - The Jaguars eliminated themselves from playoff contention last week by dropping a Monday night game 30-17 to the Texans, but they can still play spoiler to the Bears- a loss which would severely hurt their playoff chances. Neither team has been playing well, but with home field advantage and a strong running game the Bears should be able to handle the Jags over-par defense.

Houston 27, Green Bay 28 - The Texans won on the road in week 12... against Cleveland. The Packers are at home, pissed off, and desperate for a win to keep their postseason hopes alive. Houston's defense stepped up against the Jaguars on Monday night, but despite their record the Packers' offense has averaged 31 points over their last 4 games. I don't think Houston's defense will be able to repeat.

Atlanta 27, New Orleans 38 - Here's Drew Brees' chance to prevent the Saints from falling to 6-7 and spoil Atlanta's chance to move into a tie for first place in the NFC South. At home and desperate, expect a big day from the Saints offense. And Atlanta's for that matter, since the Saints defense is terrible. The Deuce won't be loose this week after being suspended for using a diuretic.

Cleveland 6, Tennessee 44 - The Titans handled the Lions in spectacular fashion on Thanksgiving and have a 10-day rest to prepare for... Ken Dorsey! Good lord this is going to be a massacre.

Philadelphia 34, NYG 40 - Once again the Eagles are in last place in the NFC East, and once again they don't even have a losing record. They've got the misfortunate of playing in the best division in the league with a system that doesn't fit their quarterback, loads of unnecessary controversy, and a coach with multiple personality [playcalling] disorder. If the Eagles want to climb back into the playoff race, they have to beat the league's best team while on the road. Good luck...

Cincinnati 13, Indianapolis 35 - The Bengals are an awful team. Cincinnati's receivers are all they have going for them (well... TJ Houshmandzadeh, anyways) but unfortunately the Colts have given up exactly 4 passing touchdowns the entire year. Something tells me they'll play the pass and allow (chuckle) Cedric Benson his chances.

Minnesota 22, Detroit 30 - The suspensions of the Williams brothers by the NFL for the same substance abuse as the Deuce is going to have a huge effect on the outcome of the Vikings' season. It'll start against easily the league's best team, and the suspensions even make this game worth watching. If Detroit can learn to tackle and control the clock on the ground, the Vikings can be had. Their defense isn't that good, and without the tremendous pressure generated up front the Lions can double team Jared Allen and maybe give Daunte Culpepper some time to throw.

Miami 24, Buffalo 20 - The Bills did a really good job early in the season making us forget that they're just not that good. Losing to the 3-8 49ers at home? Come on. A win by the Dolphins and losses by the Patriots and Jets would move them into a tie for first place. Wouldn't that be hilarious?

NYJ 27, San Francisco 17 - The Jets were lucky that the Patriots lost to Pittsburgh dropping an easy matchup against an overrated Broncos team in New York. Traveling west, they play an intriguing 49ers squad that became the first team to travel east three time zones to win a game on the East coast this season. This is a must-win to stay ahead of the Patriots, although they remain a full game ahead in conference play.

Kansas City 23, Denver 30 - Someone has to win this game, and even though I wouldn't be surprised if the Chiefs won against bipolar Denver honestly...who cares? It's still in the realm of possibility that we'll have two 8-8 playoff teams coming from the *FC West. I really need to go back and check, but this year's *FC West divisions have to be some of the worst ever since the realignment. Three teams at 2-10, one and 3-9, two more at 4-8, and the division leaders at 7-5 is just pathetic.

New England 34, Seattle 14 - New England's uncharacteristicly sloppy game against the Steelers shouldn't happen again this season. Balls bouncing off Randy Moss's facemask in an open field and touchdown passes hitting him in the hands before falling to the ground are something that you probably won't see for years to come. The Seahawks are one of the friendliest defenses to opposing quarterbacks in the league, and Matt Cassel, despite taking a pounding last Sunday, won't face anywhere near the pressure in Seattle.

St. Louis 17, Arizona 37 - The Rams are still terrible, while Arizona is the best 7-5 division leader in the league. I don't see Jim Haslett using this game as a reason for keeping his job next year.

Dallas 21, Pittsburgh 31 - The Steelers are coming off of a dominating victory in New England in which they shut out the above average New England offense in the second half. Dallas is still getting its bearings back after suffering through the Brad Johnson era, and while the damage was done in the standings Romo and Co. are working hard to right the sinking ship. At home on the crappy Heinz field turf, any sort of inclement weather heavily favors the Steelers.

Washington 24, Baltimore 20 - I'm still of the belief that Washington is not as bad as they have been playing. Clinton Portis is banged up after a first half season in which he was on pace for 1,800 yards. Jason Campbell is not the model of consistency and ball protection that he was earlier in the season. However, the Redskins know they're not out of the race yet and are primed to make a final push to get in the playoffs. The Ravens are chasing the Steelers, and a loss doesn't end their postseason aspirations but it remains to be seen if rookie Joe Flacco can pick it up when the pressure is on.

Tampa Bay 17, Carolina 28 - Has an NFC South team lost at home in a division game yet? If they have it certainly doesn't happen very often. This is a big game to decide first place in the division, and if Atlanta can beat New Orleans the loser of this match moves into a tie for second place.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Week 13 Results

Tennessee 47, Detroit 10 (predicted: Tennessee 34, Detroit 17) - No surprises here as the Titans running backs never even got touched rushing for 292 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Seattle 9, Dallas 34 (predicted: Seattle 17, Dallas 38) - I couldn't tell if Seattle's defense was that bad or if the Cowboys offense is back to normal. I'm leaning towards the latter, as Tony Romo completed passes to 7 different receivers and instead of forcing the ball to Terrell Owens he got Jason Witten involved for 115 yards.

Arizona 20, Philadelphia 48
(predicted: Arizona 28, Philadelphia 41) - I still don't understand why there is a quarterback situation in Philadelphia. Donovan McNabb is clearly still the Eagles' best chance to reach the postseason. A new offensive coordinator that doesn't have him throwing slants to crappy possession receivers and check downs to Brian Westbrook would do more than starting Kyle Kolb.

San Francisco 10, Buffalo 3 (predicted: San Francisco 14, Buffalo 30) - Mike Singletary gets his first road win against a Bills team in freefall. For all practical purposes the Bills are out of the division race and in poor position to catch a wild card spot. Hey, it's just like last year... except this time they don't have injuries to half their starting lineup. San Francisco also becomes the first team to travel three time zones west to east and win.

Baltimore 34, Cincinnati 3
(predicted: Baltimore 33, Cincinnati 20) - Once again I overestimate the dysfunctional Bengals.

New Orleans 20, Tampa Bay 23
(predicted: New Orleans 17, Tampa Bay 27) - The Bucs are undefeated at home, and even though Drew Brees threw for 296 yards he threw two bad interceptions in the fourth quarter to knock the Saints out of playoff contention.

NYG 23, Washington 7
(predicted: NYG 27, Washington 20) - After Clinton Portis left the game early with a neck injury, Washington looked deflated and their performance showed it. Jason Campbell turned in a craptacular performance while the Giants wore the Redskins' defense down the rest of the game.

Miami 16, St. Louis 12
(predicted: Miami 41, St. Louis 6) - Ok I give Miami some credit for completely turning their franchise around in a year, but barely handling the awful Rams is a little worrisome, especially if the Dolphins want to still have a shot at the playoffs.

Indianapolis 10, Cleveland 6
(predicted: Indianapolis 31, Cleveland 20) - Errr.... ok? 10-6? Really? For two "explosive" offenses, this is a pretty pathetic score. Maybe it's just me, but when I think about the Browns and the Colts the term "defensive battle" isn't the first term that comes to mind.

Carolina 35, Green Bay 31
(predicted: Carolina 17, Green Bay 30) - Carolina has had trouble winning on the road, while Green Bay has had trouble winning in general. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers turned on the gas in the second half but were undone by a very Favre-like bomb to Steve Smith (followed by DeAngelo Williams' 4th rushing touchdown of the day) and an interception by middle linebacker Jon Beason to seal the game.

Atlanta 22, San Diego 16
(predicted: Atlanta 30, San Diego 38) - Again the Chargers flounder against a team that they are more than capable of beating. San Diego had every chance to win this one and still couldn't take advantage. A Nate Kaeding 4th-quarter field goal was blocked and Philip Rivers was sacked twice by Jonathan Babineaux, while Michael Turner posts his 6th 100-yard game as a starter. The Chargers fall to 4-8.

Denver 34, NYJ 17
(predicted: Denver 14, NYJ 37) - Err, who knows what to make of the Jets now? After beating the Titans handily in Tennessee, it's a little mind-boggling to think that they only put up 17 points against one of the worst defenses in the league at home. The Jets remain a game up on the Dolphins and the Patriots, but the AFC East is still up for grabs.

Pittsburgh 33, NE 10
(predicted: Pittsburgh 17, NE 24) - After going into the half tied at 10, Dick LeBeau and company turned out the lights on Matt Cassel. A hilarious string of 4 consecutive turnovers by New England absolutely killed them: a muffed kickoff returned that the Steelers recovered in the red zone, two forced fumbles by James Harrison, and an interception returned to the one yard line. The game ended with a Troy Polamalu interception.

Kansas City 20, Oakland 13
(predicted: Kansas City 24, Oakland 13) - Someone had to win. It's so fitting that the game-winning touchdown came on a botched field goal fake returned for almost 70 yards.

Chicago 14, Minnesota 34
(predicted: Chicago 21, Minnesota 30) - Minnesota takes control of the NFC North with a big win over the Bears. Even if somehow Chicago or Green Bay manages to tie the Vikings for first they'll probably still be the third or fourth seed in the NFC and win the division title due to conference record, especially if (or should I say "when" ?) they beat the Lions next week.

Jacksonville 17, Houston 30
(predicted: Jacksonville 24, Houston 34) -Call this one the Steve Slaton show; he had 130 rushing yards, 52 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns against a jaguars defense that carried them to the playoffs last year. Maybe trading Marcus Stroud to the Bills wasn't the best idea.

11/16 this week, 120/191 for the season.

Week 13 Predictions

San Francisco 14, Buffalo 30 - West Coast teams don't win traveling east. Especially not the dismal 3-8 49ers. The 0-14 stat for teams traveling west three time zones might be because of the time difference, or it might be more due to the fact that NFC teams are a combined 28-62 for the season. The Bills are looking to build on last week's trouncing of Kansas City and can still slip into the playoffs.

Baltimore 33, Cincinnati 20 - The Ravens figured out their offensive problems against the Eagles in the second half last week and got a little help from the defense. It figures to play out the same way against the Bengals who have lost half of their starting defensive lineup to injury and they weren't all that good to begin with.

New Orleans 17, Tampa Bay 27 - Always take the home team for NFC divisional games. A loss by last-place New Orleans would almost certainly put them out of the playoffs.

NYG 27, Washington 20 - In the season opener the Redskins offense looked lost, while the Giants were clearly sorting out their offense and the game ended in an underwhelming 16-7 finish. Washington traveled to Seattle and got an important win to stay in the playoff hunt, but the Giants have only given up that fluke loss to Cleveland and have otherwise looked like champions. The problem with the Giants is that they don't have any glaring weaknesses, and while the Redskins defense hasn't allowed more than 24 points all season the Giants have been virtually unstoppable on the road.

Miami 41, St. Louis 6 - The Rams are terrible. Amazingly they aren't the worst team in the league.

Indianapolis 31, Cleveland 20 - Brady Quinn's broken finger means we get to watch Derek Anderson and the Browns take on the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year... at least in spirit. I almost wish they had won so the Browns would have gotten destroyed in the first round by a then-competent Chargers and the expectations wouldn't have been so high.

Carolina 17, Green Bay 30 - Carolina has not been playing well as of late, and traveling to Lambeau against the desperate Packers doesn't figure to be an easy game. A loss to the Panthers eliminates them from controlling their destiny with their best possible record being 9-7.

Atlanta 30, San Diego 38 - Turner the Burner returns to his old stadium against a weak but finally improving Chargers defense. Since the AFC West is so brutally awful, a Chargers loss doesn't eliminate them from playoff contention as the division winner, but it does mean they have to win every remaining game (including the season finale at Denver) while Denver can only win 2 of their remaining 4 games. Not out of the realm of possibility, believe it or not...

Denver 31, NYJ 37- The Jets have an extra long week to recover after thrashing the Titans in Week 12 in Tennessee. Now Brett Favre and the Jets newfound power running game gets to face a Broncos squad that is in the bottom 5 in the league in points allowed, total yards allowed, and rushing yards allowed. This should be a shootout.

Pittsburgh 17, NE 24 - A lot has been made about the recent success of Matt Cassel, but this is the money game for him. If the Cassel-led Patriots can pull off a victory against a Super Bowl-caliber defense, he's in for a huge payday in free agency. The Patriots have been playing well lately, while the Steelers have only been getting by as Ben Roethlisberger and the offense continue to flounder.

Kansas City 24, Oakland 13 - Oakland pulled out an impressive win over Denver last week, but it doesn't matter. It's still a mess, and the Chiefs have vastly improved since their week 2 meeting that resulted in a Kansas City loss.

Chicago 21, Minnesota 30 - So, anyone know why the Williams brothers (among other players) aren't suspended for using steroids yet? Me neither. The last time these two teams met the Bears won in a weird 48-41 shootout between Kyle Orton and Gus Frerotte. What are the odds of that happening again? Bernard Berrian has been quiet for the last couple of weeks, but the Bears pass defense recently took another hit with Nathan Vasher being lost for the season. Since the Bears (and any other team) have to make stopping Adrian Peterson a priority, Berrian and the Vikings receivers should be able to get open.

Jacksonville 24, Houston 34 - The Texans haven't won a division game yet, while the Jaguars' supposedly potent offense has been lackluster, scoring only 224 points so far on the season. Despite being ancient, Sage Rosenfels has been filling in ably for Matt Schaub while the Jaguars haven't been able to generate a pass rush. That's a bad sign when Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter are running through your secondary.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Week 13 (Thanksgiving) Predictions

Tennessee 34, Detroit 17 - The Titans travel to Detroit on a short week after their first loss of the season, an embarrassing thrashing at home to the Jets. The Lions won't be able to get much going on offense, while Chris Johnson should enjoy the lack of tackling displayed by the Lions in the last, oh... I dont know... 12 weeks.

Seattle 17, Dallas 38 - The Seahawks are still a bad team even with Matt Hasselbeck. I couldn't tell you if their starting receivers are back from injury yet, because they haven't done anything in games lately to make me want to check. At least Mike Holmgren is leaving Jim Mora, Jr. with a nice parting gift; a top 5 draft pick.

Arizona 28, Philadelphia 41 - Provided that Donovan McNabb can avoid throwing up, taking the game into overtime, or play badly enough to get benched during halftime, the Eagles are pissed, at home, and desperate. Another loss surely ends their playoff hopes, while if they can pull out a win the Redskins and the Cowboys are still not locks to get the wildcard. Factor in the crappy Cardinals (pass) defense and the fact that Kurt Warner seems to fumble 5 times a game and it's hard seeing the Cardinals coming out with the win on the road.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Week 12 Results

Was it just me or was pretty much every game that anyone paid attention to (read: not any game involving Cleveland) a major blowout? Ok, I guess the Colts/Chargers and Redskins/Seahawks were close, but they shouldn't have been... anyways, this was a rough week.

Cincinnati 10, Pittsburgh 27
(predicted: Cincinnati 17, Pittsburgh 30) - No surprises here. The Bengals are still terrible and the only interesting note was that Chad Johnson was inactive due to a violation of team rules (or something similarily meaningless). I guess it's a team rule that you can't talk big and then waste a starting spot for 90% of the season.

Philadelphia 7, Baltimore 36
(predicted: Philadelphia 31, Baltimore 29) - Ouch. Whoever thought the Eagles were playoff contenders, this game should change your mind. I had the unfortunate experience of watching part of this game and it was just ugly. I can understand benching McNabb, but why throw Kyle Kolb in against the Ravens' starters? That's just mean...

Chicago 27, St. Louis 3
(predicted: Chicago 27, St. Louis 10) - So in the last 5 games, the Rams have averaged 3 points per game when not in garbage time. 2 of those games they couldn't even score against the opponent's second-stringers. Sorry Jim Haslett, you're not making a very strong case for keeping your job. The Rams are clearly going to have to go into rebuilding mode next year. Too bad it'll be a year too late.

NYJ 34, Tennessee 13
(predicted: NYJ 20, Tennessee 24) - Well on the bright side we don't have to listen to Mercury Morris for another year. Ugly loss for the Titans, who couldn't get anything going against the Jets until they showed some life midway through the fourth quarter. Brett Favre and the Jets receivers ran short patterns over the middle of the field the entire game and wound up getting long gains after the catch when the Titans overcommitted. With the pressure off, the Titans can now focus on locking up the division which is theirs unless this is the start of an epic collapse.

New England 48, Miami 28
(predicted: New England 27, Miami 24) - Apparently Joey Porter and the Dolphins haven't been watching Matt Cassel's performances lately. He's totally different than he was in his first start against the Dolphins, and Randy Moss returned to dominance with 3 touchdowns and 125 yards. Matt Cassel becomes the first Patriot to throw for 400 yards in consecutive games, and there is a quarterback controversy in the making!!!!

Houston 16, Cleveland 6
(predicted: Houston 28, Cleveland 33) - Kevin Walter scored the only touchdown in this game about halfway through the first quarter and then there was nothing but field goals. I'd rather watch paint dry, but that's a pretty good indicator of how these two teams' seasons are going.

Tampa Bay 38, Detroit 20
(predicted: Tampa Bay 27, Detroit 16) - The Lions jumped out to an early 17-0 lead before the Bucs started playing lights-out. Big plays on special teams by Clifton Smith and Ronde Barber put the game away, as the Lions drop to 0-11. 5 games left for the perfect season!

Minnesota 30, Jacksonville 12
(predicted: Minnesota 24, Jacksonville 20) - The Jaguars just aren't that good, and it's probably for the best that they aren't in the playoff race at this point. It's hard to pin their season's lack of success on one particular thing... oh wait, no it's not. Granted, Minnesota is a tough defense to run on until the Williams brothers get suspended, but 35 total yards????? For one of the "best rushing tandems in the league" that's pretty pathetic.

Buffalo 54, Kansas City 31
(predicted: Buffalo 20, Kansas City 21) - 54 points? Where did that come from? Tyler Thigpen had himself a decent game despite throwing two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. The Kansas City defense let Trent Edwards- hardly the second coming of Michael Vick- rush 6 times for 38 yards and two touchdowns. Turnovers were definitely the problem, as Kansas City lost 3 out of 4 fumbles while not recovering any. The Chiefs also were unable to get a sack, which keeps them ahead of the record pace for fewest sacks in a season. They still seem to be playing hard, and are the best 1-10 team in recent memory. Like a third party in the national election, they could still throw the playoff seedings into chaos as they have three division games remaining as well as a game against the Dolphins.

San Francisco 22, Dallas 35
(predicted: San Francisco 19, Dallas 24) - I guess the 49ers weren't dumb enough to fall for the old, "TO needs the ball more" speech by TO himself. Oops. Owens dominated the 49ers secondary all over the field, catching a season-high for wide receivers 213 yards including a 75-yard touchdown. Tony Romo looked like himself again throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns, while Marion Barber got most of the leftovers with 59 yards rushing and 50 yards passing. Poor Mike Singletary...

Oakland 31, Denver 10
(predicted: Oakland 21, Denver 30) - Denver's god-awful defense came back to bite them as Oakland embarrassed the Broncos at Mile High with a surprisingly balanced offense. 158 yards rushing and 160 yards passing with no turnovers isn't flashy, but it works against bad teams. Jay Cutler, after dissecting the Raiders in Week 1, managed only 204 yards, no TDs, an interception, and a fumble. Second coming of John Elway? Not quite.

Carolina 28, Atlanta
45 (predicted: Carolina 23, Atlanta 28) - Michael Turner continues his dominance in the Georgia Dome, averaging almost 5 yards a carry and scoring 4 touchdowns against what everyone thought was a strong rush defense. The Falcons wisely chose not to take many chances via the pass, as Matt Ryan completed 17 for 259 yards with no TDs or interceptions. The Panthers are now in a tie for the division lead with the Bucs, with the Bucs currently ahead due to their 2-1 division record to the Panthers' 2-2.

NYG 37, Arizona 29
(predicted: NYG 34, Arizona 24) - The Giants proved against the Ravens that they can get the better of any team with Brandon Jacobs and the running game. Against the Cardinals without Jacobs and losing Plaxico Burress early in the game to injury, Eli Manning answered the call and went 26/33 (that's 79% completions) for 240 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Predictably the Cardinals stuck to their aerial fireworks and rushed 15 times to Warner's 52 attempts, but the Giants did a good job of playing the "bend but don't break" game and played well enough to let the offense get ahead. While I don't think this is an NFC Championship preview, both of these teams are looking at first-round playoff byes.

Washington 20, Seattle 17
(predicted: Washington 23, Seattle 27) - Clinton Portis, why do you tease us with your injuries and then rush for 143 yards? Interestingly both teams on big slides (Buffalo and Washington) got to play crappy teams this week and ended their losing streaks. It remains to be seen whether they can climb back to the top of their respective divisions, which remain among the league's most competitive.

Indianapolis 23, San Diego 20
(predicted: Indianapolis 30, San Diego 27) - Even though the Chargers seemed to have the Colts' number in recent matchups, this is a big win for Indianapolis. Improving to 7-4, they remain the default for the wildcard tie-breaker and the fifth playoff seed due to head-to-head wins over the Patriots and the Ravens. Indy should be able to win the next three (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit) handily, and could even manage to win the division if the Titans fall apart. Interestingly, the week 17 matchup against the Titans could have huge implications if everything lines up right.

Green Bay 29, New Orleans 51
(predicted: Green Bay 35, New Orleans 27) - Remember when Green Bay traded Brett Favre and then everyone thought Aaron Rodgers was doing great when he managed the game against the Vikings and then slaughtered the hapless Lions? It was a brilliant move by Ted Thompson, right? I wonder where those people are now.

A brutal 9/16 this week, 109/175 for the season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spellchecking in Seattle

Today the Mariners announced the hiring Don Wakamatsu as their new manager. This means that the Mariner payroll now includes:

Manager Don Wakamatsu
GM Jack Zduriencik
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
OF Wladimir Balentien
C Kenji Johjima
LHP Ryan Feierabend
3B Matt Tuiasosopo

All this leads me to just one question: If you're a Seattle Mariners beat writer, aside from the team signing Doug Mientkiewicz, how could this possibly be worse?

Week 12 Predictions

Cincinnati 17, Pittsburgh 30 - Cincinnati came off an impressive tie (wow, that sounds weird) with the Eagles, but I wouldn't expect the same against the Steelers. The offense is shaky, but the defense is an elite unit. The Bengals are a great cure for a struggling quarterback.

Philadelphia 31, Baltimore 29 - Well as long as this one doesn't go to overtime the Eagles should be fine. Unless you're the Giants, you beat the Ravens through the air. Donovan McNabb is a fairly good vertical passer, and DeSean Jackson has the speed to make the Ravens' injury-ridden secondary vulnerable to the big play.

Chicago 27, St. Louis 10 - What was that about Matt Forte getting too many carries? I don't think it'll be too much of a problem in this one, as he'll be averaging somewhere in the 5-10 YPC range. The Rams are terrible in every aspect of the game, and since there will probably be more Bears fans at the game they won't even have a home-field advantage.

NYJ 20, Tennessee 24 - 11-0? The Titans need to lose every game from now until the end of the season to give the Colts even a chance to win the division. Don't count on that happening against the Jets, who despite being fourth against the run have that stat skewed by New England, who put the game firmly in the hands of Matt Cassel. The Titans will run and will run often- and if that doesn't work Kerry Collins has shown he can still throw it if he has to.

New England 27, Miami 24 - The first time Joey Porter trash-talked the Patriots, New England was a different team. Matt Cassel has completely changed everyone's perception of him, and he looks like a legitimate NFL quarterback. The Dolphins defense has been stiff against the run (especially at home), but it wouldn't surprise anyone if Bill Belichick let Cassel throw 40 times against the Dolphins' weak secondary.

Houston 28, Cleveland 33 - Brady Quinn injury aside, the Texans just lost to the Colts and let Joseph Addai go off on them for 105 rushing yards and a rushing TD (not even including the receiving TD he had). Jamal Lewis isn't Addai, but he is a pounder behind an offensive line that, after a shaky start, has started to become something to worry about. Quinn continues to protect the ball and use his checkdowns, and the Houston defense isn't that great to begin with.

Tampa Bay 27, Detroit 20 - The Lions' offense is showing signs of improvement, mainly because nobody can cover Calvin Johnson and he even gives double coverage a run for his money. Daunte Culpepper is slowly getting back into the swing of things, but with the total absence of a running game against one of the better defenses in the league it won't be pretty for Detroit.

Minnesota 24, Jacksonville 20 - Troy Williamson issues aside, neither of these teams look very good right now (with the exception of Adrian Peterson). Jacksonville showed promise in the first half against the Titans, before the Titans defense decided that they'd actually play like they meant it and virtually shut them out in the second half. MJD and Fred Taylor can't find any holes, while David Garrard hasn't lived up to the largish contract he signed in the offseason. Remember when the Jaguars said they weren't worried after starting 0-2? I wonder if they're worried now.

Buffalo 20, Kansas City 21 - If you made a movie about Buffalo you'd call it "First to Worst". The Bills look awful. The offense apparently is not capable of functioning when Lee Evans is double covered. You know a team sucks when the opponent can scheme out the best player and they can't adjust to make up the difference. Buffalo is far and away the worst team in the AFC East. On the other hand, the Chiefs took the Chargers down to the last possession and barely lost, while Tyler Thigpen has been the best quarterback in the league over the past five games. Arrowhead is a great place to finally turn a good performance into a win.

San Francisco 19, Dallas 24 - If Romo's pinky was fully recovered, I'd expect the score to be a lot higher. As it stands, Marion Barber will probably be dancing around the 49ers' defenders not named Patrick Willis.

Oakland 21, Denver 30 - Denver still doesn't have a defense, but Oakland still doesn't have an offense. Jamarcus Russel is already starting to look like a colossal bust- his fault or not. The Raiders should run the clock with the ground game - Justin Fargas is a perfectly acceptable running back - and maybe take a shot or two down the field with Dre' Bly playing awful and Champ Bailey not at full health. Otherwise check down to the tight end. Of course, the Broncos are going to do the same thing... except they actually have a vertical threat for Oakland to worry about.

Carolina 23, Atlanta 28 - NFC South division game... take the home team. With Jake Delhomme coming off two atrocious games, he should be able to bounce back nicely- but the Falcons have done a complete 180 since last season and should be able to pull out the win.

NYG 34, Arizona 24 - I actually think this will be one of the better matchups of the week. For one, the Cardinals match up nicely with the Giants. Anquan Boldin catches the short balls and creates yards after the catch, negating the Giants' pass rush. Larry Fitzgerald is a huge target anywhere on the field. However, the Giants just made the Ravens' run defense look like amateurs, and Brandon Jacobs is simply dominant. Literally nobody can stop him (ask LaRon Landry how that worked out), taking the pressure off Eli Manning and forcing opponents to bring a safety up to support.

Washington 23, Seattle 27 - There's nowhere to go but up in Seattle, and with Matt Hasselbeck getting another week of practice with his receivers that have returned from the dead and a home crowd, they should be the favorites. Plus Washington is the NFC version of the Buffalo Bills- a big slide down from first place in their division and suddenly seeing their playoff aspirations in doubt.

Indianapolis 30, San Diego 27 - Indianapolis has had trouble with San Diego over the years, losing to them twice last year. With the absence of Shawn Merriman and the rest of the Chargers defense playing noticeably over-par, Manning and company should have a field day. Remember when everyone thought Antonio Cromartie was in the conversation for best cornerback in the league? Not so much this year. Since he'll probably draw Reggie Wayne in coverage, I'd expect Wayne to have a big day.

Green Bay 35, New Orleans 27- The return of Reggie Bush to the lineup should make this a fairly exciting Monday night matchup. Drew Brees is ahead of the pace to break Dan Marino's single-season passing record, but somehow the Saints are going to miss the playoffs. Green Bay is probably going to remain tied for first place in the division unless the Bears and Vikings both lose, and need to start separating themselves from the pack if they want to guarantee a playoff berth.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Week 11 Results

NYJ 34, New England 31 (predicted: NYJ 24, New England 21) - Crazy overtime game. Shouldn't have even gotten to that point as the Jets were up by 21 at one point before the Patriots started coming back. One thing that's been a recurring theme so far this season: when will teams learn to start putting a spy on Matt Cassel? Honestly- stop letting him break 30 yard runs. The Jets are now in sole position of first place in the AFC East, with the Patriots moving to the top of the Wild Card queue.

Denver 24, Atlanta 20 (predicted: Denver 21, Atlanta 34) - Big win for Denver against a tough opponent. The Broncos defense, while it didn't play spectacularly, held the Falcons to 20 points and their offense played well enough to get the win. Jay Cutler didn't throw an interception and Peyton Hillis (!) ran for 2 touchdowns.

Detroit 22, Carolina 31
(predicted: Detroit 10, Carolina 38) - Detroit started out strong but then fell apart midway through the second quarter. Calvin Johnson continues to be the only relevant player in Detroit, while the Panthers produced two 100 yard rushers (Jonathan Stewart- 15 carries/130 yards, 1 TD, DeAngelo Williams - 14 carries/120 yards, 2 TD). The Panthers maintain their 1-game lead on the Bucs for the title in the NFC South.

Minnesota 13, Tampa Bay 19
(predicted: Minnesota 27, Tampa Bay 28) - The Bucs did the smart thing and forced Gus Frerotte to beat them by holding Adrian Peterson to 85 yards and no touchdowns. That's not to say the Bucs did anything special on offense; BJ Askew scored the only touchdown for the Bucs on his only carry from the 1-yard line. The Bucs at 7-3 are now currently the 5th seed in the NFC.

Baltimore 10, NYG 30
(predicted: Baltimore 20, NYG 31) - Brandon Jacobs is going to be a top-5 fantasy pick next year, possibly top 3 (after AD and Westbrook). He's headed for 1400 yards and 18 touchdowns in hands down the best running offense in the league. Apparently the Ravens can be had through the air (Indianapolis) or on the ground, depending on your strength. The Giants brutalized the Ray Lewis and co. for 207 rushing yards on 33 carries.

Oakland 15, Miami 17
(predicted: Oakland 9, Miami 30) - Another craptacular performance from the Dolphins, who for some reason almost lost to the Raiders at home. This game included a priceless forced fumble/safety, which was actually a pretty good play by the offensive lineman to recover and prevent the Raiders from getting the touchdown. Why are the Dolphins having so much trouble beating bad or mediocre teams at home?

New Orleans 30, Kansas City 20
(predicted: New Orleans 23, Kansas City 27) - The Saints got their first road win with only an average performance from Drew Brees (266 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). Tyler Thigpen continued his impressive streak of games with a respectable 235 yards, 2 TDs, and an interception, but the Chiefs couldn't stop the Saints when it counted. In Reggie Bush's absence, Pierre Thomas went for 88 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown as well as a goal-line rush from Deuce McAllister. The NFC South, AFC East, and NFC East are alike in that none of those divisions contain a team with a losing record.

Philadelphia 13, Cincinnati 13
(predicted: Philadelphia 29, Cincinnati 16) - Yes that's right, a 13-13 tie. Apparently Philadelphia is incapable of running (68 yards) on the #23 ranked rush defense in the league. A tie in the standings doesn't hurt the Bengals at all, but for all practical purposes Philadelphia tie-d themselves out of the playoff race. Maybe Donovan McNabb (and the rest of the Eagles) should learn more about NFL overtime rules and play with a little more urgency next time.

Chicago 3, Green Bay 37
(predicted: Chicago 20, Green Bay 33) - This game was pretty brutal for the Bears. After stacking 8 in the box against the Titans to stop the run and being torched through the air (by Kerry Collins no less), the Bears started to drop more into coverage. The result? Mr. Overrated Ryan grant goes nuts for 145 yards on 25 carries. Meanwhile the offense can't even get it going on the ground (Matt Forte- 16 carries, 64 yards) while Chicago QBs combined for 151 passing yards and no touchdowns. Who the hell knows what's going on in the NFC North (other than the Lions being pathetic), as the Bears, Packers, and Vikings are all tied at 5-5.

Houston 27, Indianapolis 33
(predicted: Houston 17, Indianapolis 31) - The score is a little deceiving, as nobody I was watching with ever felt like Houston had much of a chance (and none of us are Colts fans, either). Kind of a pyrric victory for the Colts, as they continue to give Steve Slaton career days (14 carries, 156 yards, 1 TD). The Colts are a great cure for the rookie wall, apparently. Bob Sanders hurt again? Surprise! Both Marvin Harrison and Joseph Addai returned from the dead, while the Colts gained important ground in the wild card picture.

St. Louis 16, San Francisco 35
(predicted: St. Louis 14, San Francisco 23) - 28 points in the second quarter will doom pretty much any opponent, which is exactly what the 49ers scored against the still-miserable Rams. Jim Haslett has to lose his job after this season, right?

Arizona 26, Seattle 20
(predicted: Arizona 36, Seattle 27) - Somehow Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald managed to gain 186 and 151 receiving yards but no touchdowns. Two were vultured by JJ Arrington (1 rushing, 1 receiving, both plays going for a total of 10 yards) while the Tim Hightower bandwagon continues to shrink on his 11 carry, 35 yard performance aginst the crappy Seahawks. The Seahawks should be getting better with the return and improvement of Matt Hasselbeck, who looked about as comfortable with the offense as anyone can be after missing a month with an injury. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie put his first-round talent on display with 2 picks. Arizona all but solidifies its division title, not that the NFC West champion really means anything.

Tennessee 24, Jacksonville 14
(predicted: Tennessee 23, Jacksonville 21) - Tennessee pulls off another impressive victory after being down 14-3 at the half. What impressed me the most was the way they won it; not on the ground, and not with short passes. Kerry Collins sealed the game with passes of 56 and 38 yards to Justin Gage, while the Titans defense dominated the Jaguars in the second half. On the 56 yard TD to Gage- what was Reggie Nelson doing? He made contact at the 15 yard line and just kind of ran along with Gage with his hand on his jersey. Maybe he thought he was playing tag or something.

San Diego 10, Pittsburgh 11
(predicted: San Diego 21, Pittsburgh 27) - Probably the most unnecessarily long end-of-game ever. After what was called an illegal forward pass and Troy Polamalu picking it up and taking it to the endzone, the play was called dead and the game ended even though the touchdown should have counted. Oh well, it's the first 11-10 finish ever. San Diego is probably out of the playoffs unless they somehow run the table from here on out. So much for this being "their year."

Dallas 14, Washington 10
(predicted: Dallas 27, Washington 20)* - Well, both Tony Romo and Clinton Portis did play, but both of their teams might have been better off with them on the bench. Romo- 198 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT. Portis- 15 carries, 68 yards. I guess Brad Johnson wouldn't have done better (not to mention Brooks Bollinger), but I have to think the Redskins might have been better off with their backups rather than risk the potential offensive MVP's knee. Meanwhile, by the grace of the mediocrity of the rest of the league both Dallas and Washington are still in the wild card picture (Washington currently holds the advantage over Dallas by virtue of conference record), but these teams are moving in opposite directions. Dallas is seeking to recover from the Brad Johnson administration, while Washington is reeling after consecutive losses to the Cowboys and Pittsburgh.

Cleveland 29, Buffalo 27
(predicted: Cleveland 27, Buffalo 28) - Losing at home on national TV is just unacceptable. Where is all the Trent Edwards love now? 3 interceptions in the Bills' first four drives? Wow. Apparently a Stanford education isn't that valuable. The Bills are now in sole possession of last place in the AFC East and are going to have to play more or less perfectly for the rest of the season to make the playoffs. With the second round of division games still to go (2 home, 1 away), they'll need some luck as well.

12/16 for this week, 100/159 on the season.

Week 11 Predictions

NYJ 24, New England 21- The Jets are on a hot streak and have won three straight... against bad teams. The win against the Bills was convincing, and the Patriots still aren't all that great. While Ty Law is more of a subtraction by addition, as long as Favre doesn't return to his old ways of throwing whenever and wherever he pleases the Jets can get behind Thomas Jones and the power run game. The Patriots front seven....actually, never mind. The Patriots entire defense isn't that good.

Denver 21, Atlanta 34- Denver is just awful. Matt Ryan has the Falcons knocking at the playoff's door. If Brady Quinn can pick the Broncos' defense apart, Ryan shouldn't have any trouble... not to mention Michael "Unstoppable" Turner. Also the time zone effect guarantees a Denver loss.

Detroit 10, Carolina 38- Carolina fans are praying that Jake Delhomme's 4-interception performance against the Raiders was just a fluke. I'm pretty sure it was.

Minnesota 27, Tampa Bay 28- Tampa Bay should game plan to stop the Vikings rushing attack and make Gus Frerotte throw as much as possible. As well as Bernard Berrian has done the past couple of games, I think that's more due to opponent than skill.

Baltimore 20, NYG 31- Baltimore's hot streak should cool off against arguably the best team in the league, and certainly the best team in the NFC. The Giants brutalized the Eagles run defense (that was supposedly a strength) and set the pace from the start. While the Ravens defense is elite, the offense is too conventional and Joe Flacco too inexperienced to beat the Giants.

Oakland 9, Miami 30- Let's not kid ourselves, JaMarcus Russell got benched. Andrew Walter isn't going to win any games either, but what's the point? Like the Lions and the Bengals, the Raiders should already be scouting who they want to take with one of the top 5 picks in the draft.

New Orleans 23, Kansas City 27- One of these weeks Kansas City will vindicate my picking them to win. New Orleans just hasn't looked that great for some reason. Last week they only scored 20 because of a ridiculous Hail Mary at the end to salvage Drew Brees' fantasy day. Meanwhile the Chiefs in the second Tyler Thigpen regime have played almost well enough to win, while Thigpen himself has been one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league. Against the mediocre Saints defense, I'd expect good things.

Philadelphia 29, Cincinnati 16- Philadelphia should bounce back after a tough loss to the Giants on Sunday night. The Bengals are still horrible despite beating the Jaguars, and if Marvin Lewis isn't fired after this season his reputation as a coach has nowhere to go but up.

Chicago 20, Green Bay 33- Chicago can't create nearly the same pressure on Aaron Rodgers as the Vikings did, and at home against a weak secondary the Packers should be able to take advantage and open up the ground game for Ryan Grant. When's the last time anyone uttered the sentence "I can't wait until Kyle Orton gets healthy" ? Bears fans are doing that now. By the way, Devin Hester? Anyone seen this guy on special teams lately? Didn't think so.

Houston 17, Indianapolis 31- Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne kill the Texans.

St. Louis 14, San Francisco 23- Both of these teams are going nowhere fast, and if the 49ers can't give Mike Singletary his first career win as a headcoach against the Rams then I don't know who they're going to beat.

Arizona 30, Seattle 27- Arizona is dominating with Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, and Larry Fitzgerald. The Seahawks are doing their best to make Mike Holmgren not regret his decision to retire, but the possible return of Matt Hasselbeck should help them out.

Tennessee 23, Jacksonville 21- Jacksonville kept their playoff hopes alive by handily beating the Lions (whoop-de-doo...) and now have a chance to pull even with the Colts if they lose to the Texans. Unfortunately they have to beat the league's top team to do just that, and with a weak interior offensive line Albert Haynesworth is going to make life very difficult. With a win and a Colts loss, the Titans are virtually guaranteed the AFC South title. Apparently the Jaguars were laughing at the Lions last week during the game, which is pretty ironic considering the Jaguars are probably out of the playoffs and that the Lions are going to have a better pick in the draft. Who really loses in that situation? The Lions season was over in week 7.

San Diego 21, Pittsburgh 27- Average western division team travels 3 time zones east to play the #1 defense in the league. Tomlinson or not, I don't see the Chargers winning this one, especially after the Steelers are angry about their loss to the Colts.

Dallas 27, Washington 20- It's hard to call this game because as of right now, the status of both Tony Romo and Clinton Portis are in question. One or both of them being out might have a small impact on the outcome... (both out: Dallas 17, Washington 20. Romo out- Dallas 17, Washington 27. Portis out- Dallas 31, Washington 24) At least we can "look forward" to seeing a lot more of Shaun Alexander this week.

Cleveland 27, Buffalo 28- Who thought this would be a good Monday night matchup, even last year? The Bills have dropped all three of their division games (in a row!) while the Browns just lost to the Broncos and let Jay Cutler have a career day. The Bills look like they turned back the clock a year with their anemic offense and shaky quarterback play, except this time Marshawn Lynch isn't making up for those shortcomings by moving the offense on the ground. Apparently Buffalo doesn't accept that they have no other legitimate receiving threats outside of Lee Evans and have yet to figure out an alternative. Brady Quinn makes his second start under center, and unless he crashes and burns a win against the Bills will solidify his status as the starter from now until when the Browns release him.

Can the Tennessee Titans go 16-0?

I don't think they will. Here's a look at their remaining schedule.

Week 11 at Jacksonville- The Jaguars have looked like a shell of last year's team, and a weak offensive line is probably the reason. Unfortunately against the best defensive front 4 in the league this hurts. Tennessee's defense is leading the league in points allowed with 13.0 / game, while Kerry Collins has shown he's equally comfortable handing the ball off to the running backs or throwing short, controlled passes to keep the chains moving. I wouldn't expect the Jaguars- 20th in rush defense and 17th in pass defense- to be able to take away both those options.

Week 12 vs. NYJ- The Jets have a chance in this one. Their revamped offensive line has paid off in the last few weeks, and like it or not Favre has turned into a game manager. Still, the Jets have been as roller-coaster as any team in the league, winning big one week and losing the next. It all depends on whether the good Jets show up, but I still doubt that they've got the game plan to beat the Titans' defense.

Week 13 at Detroit- The Lions are great candidates for 0-16. They can't stop anything, and their offense is anemic at best. I'd expect Calvin Johnson to be double teamed by Cortland Finnegan and Chris Hope more or less the entire afternoon and stack 8 to hurry Daunte Culpepper and stop Kevin Smith. This one will be a blowout.

Week 14 vs. Cleveland- The Browns aren't doing so great this year. I guess the 10-6 honeymoon has worn off. The thing about the Browns is that they don't do anything particularly well. They had a great game against Denver (even though they lost) under Brady Quinn but Denver is in the running for worst defense in the league (it's a close contest with the Lions). I could see Quinn and the Browns winning their next three, as they don't play great teams, but this should be his "welcome to the NFL" moment.

Week 15 at Houston- This is one of the two remaining games that I actually think Tennessee will lose. I think they'll get caught looking ahead to week 16 against Pittsburgh or week 17 at Indianapolis. Matt Schaub will have had a couple weeks to get back in sync with Andre Johnson, who is even hard to double cover. Steve Slaton had a decent game against the Titans in week 3 with 116 yards and a touchdown. By now the Titans will almost certainly have locked up a playoff spot and possibly a first-round bye. (Note: if Sage Rosenfels plays, the Texans' chances might actually go up. In 4 career games against the Titans including two last year, Rosenfels averages 178 yards, 2 touchdowns, an interception, and a 102.9 passer rating.)

Week 16 vs. Pittsburgh- Too many people give the Steelers credit for being an "elite" team. Sure- the defense is good, but the offense is so streaky and their fortunes fall squarely on the sore shoulders of Ben Roethlisberger. I'm really not sure how or why they lost against the Colts at home this past week, but on the road against the hands-down best team in the league is a tall order unless they start a major turn-around.

Week 17 at Indianapolis- The other game I think the Titans will lose. The Colts will probably be finishing strong, as their schedule after week 10 gets much easier. With 4 losses at the conclusion of week 10, the Colts play Houston, San Diego, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Jacksonville. If they can win 4 or 5 out of those 6, week 17's result determines if they get into the playoffs. They will be desperate. Meanwhile the Titans will have little to play for, and would probably only play their starters for the first half in an exact reversal of last season's finale.

So there you have it. 14-2 with a first-round bye isn't bad.