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.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Week 10 Results

Denver 34, Cleveland 30 (predicted: Denver 20, Cleveland 27) - Looks like Denver set an example other teams will inevitably ignore and for some reason weren't figuring out the last couple weeks: Cleveland's secondary sucks. Granted, it's hard to defend Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal...oh wait, the Dolphins managed. Brady Quinn had an acceptable game despite the fact that he lost. 239 yards, 2 TDs, no picks, and no sacks is "good not great." On an interesting side note, the Broncos became the first team in a western division to travel to the eastern division and win.

New Orleans 20, Atlanta 34 (predicted: New Orleans 27, Atlanta 24) - Ok, never pick the road team to win in a divisional NFC South game. The Saints are so up and down they can't possibly consider themselves a playoff team, while Matt Ryan is looking like a lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Tennessee 21, Chicago 14 (predicted: Tennessee 30, Chicago 16) - Ugly victory for the Titans, who managed just 20 yards rushing. Kerry Collins showed he can win a game with the pass, throwing for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Jacksonville 38, Detroit 14 (predicted: Jacksonville 27, Detroit 23) - Welcome back Maurice Jones Drew. I guess if the Jaguars were going to bounce back, the Lions would be the team to do it against.

Baltimore 41, Houston 13 (predicted: Baltimore 23, Houston 21) - How does Baltimore's offense get 41 points? Houston is terrible. Sage Rosenfels might be one of the better backups in the league, but 4 interceptions is just bad. Todd Heap also reminded everyone that he's still alive with 2 touchdowns.

Seattle 19, Miami 21 (predicted: Seattle 17, Miami 27) - This game was unacceptably close, and came down to the last play. The Dolphins should have been ahead by a lot more anyways against the miserable Seahawks, keeping the no-wins trend intact for Western-division teams traveling East.

Green Bay 27, Minnesota 28 (predicted: Green Bay 28, Minnesota 24) - The Packers can't stop the run to begin with, and they lost Nick Barnett for the year. Ryan Grant had a passable day, but was overshadowed by Adrian Peterson's 192 yard, 1 touchdown showing.

Buffalo 10, New England 20 (predicted: Buffalo 17, New England 28) - Buffalo looked terrible again and their mid-season slide seems to be a repeat of last year. Matt Cassel appears to be developing nicely, and has look much less lost in recent weeks than he did in the first few. He's silencing his doubters and is legitimately carrying the team on his back in the absence of a running game.

St. Louis 3, NYJ 47 (predicted: St. Louis 20, NYJ 27) - We all knew the Rams were bad, but didn't know exactly how bad they were. This was just pathetic.

Carolina 17, Oakland 6 (predicted: Carolina 30, Oakland 10) - You know a team is terrible when the opponent can throw four interceptions and they still can't manage a touchdown.

Indianapolis 24, Pittsburgh 20 (predicted: Indianapolis 14, Pittsburgh 24) - This was such a ridiculous game. First of all, Reggie Wayne is clearly the #1 receiver, not that there was any doubt. Second, the Steelers secondary needs to learn how to either intercept passes or bat them down, not just pop them up in the air and let Wayne catch them. Third, Ben Roethlisberger is terrible (and the Colts, learning from their dropped interceptions against the Titans, made 2 huge interceptions at critical moments). Lastly, the Steelers almost pulled out the victory on a last second bomb to the end zone. So close, yet so far away. Way to give up first place in the division to the Ravens.

Kansas City 19, San Diego 20 (predicted: Kansas City 20, San Diego 31) - At least Herm Edwards knows that it's pointless to go to overtime on the road against a decent opponent. Some people have been giving him heat for the attempted 2 point conversion, but it was the right thing to do. The Chiefs are out of the playoffs, and any more games they win just ruin their draft pick.

NYG 36, Philadelphia 31 (predicted: NYG 27, Philadelphia 24) - The massive hit on Brandon Jacobs to cause the fumble was pretty funny. Eli Manning bootlegged out of the pocket twice, but John Madden said the word "bootleg" a total of 11 times. Philadelphia killed themselves with penalties in the second half, and how many times can NBC show the replay of the stupid forward pass challenge?

San Francisco 24, Arizona 29 (predicted: San Francisco 17, Arizona 34) - Arizona's offense has become this year's New England Patriots. That's probably the reason that Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are at the top of the touchdown list, with 10 and 6, respectively. Boldin, playing for a new contract, is making his case for being one of the best receivers in the league. San Francisco continues their losing streak and interim had coach Mike Singletary remains winless.

10/14 this week, 88/143 on the season.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Torain put on IR

Ryan Torain, a rookie 5th-round draft pick, was put on IR by the Broncos today after tearing his ACL Thursday night against the Browns.

This leaves the Denver running back situation in a sad state, as Michael Pittman (IR- neck), Selvin Young (nagging groin injury), Travis Henry (released in the offseason), and Andre Hall (IR- hand. Maybe that's why he kept fumbling in New England?) are all currently unavailable.

Basically, 2008 Denver running backs are the AFC equivalent of 2008 Seattle receivers. Luckily running backs are somewhat easier to replace, and the main challenge associated with the position is learning the team's pass blocking schemes.

One possible replacement is Peyton Hillis, the fullback who had a huge game against the Dolphins and has a very real chance of being the best player named Peyton by the time the year finishes should he win the starting job. The more likely scenario is that Denver signs someone off the street. Former Bronco Tatum Bell is available after being cut by the Lions (he should consider himself lucky), as are former Broncos Mike Bell and Vernand Morency (who spent 2007 on the Packers).

Fantasy-wise, this is the merciful end to probably the most overhyped rookie in recent memory. He was owned in something like 70% of leagues despite being on the PUP list for the first 6 weeks, then kept off the field for the next two. People, realize that Denver is simply not a good team this year no matter who their running back is. Since they have no defense Denver is going to play from behind late in games a lot for the remainder of the season, which means Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler, and Eddie Royal are the fantasy-relevant Broncos. I'm sure that those owners who stubbornly refused to give up hope could have found SOMEONE to fill that bench spot even for the first couple of weeks if they wanted to pick him back up in week 5 or 6 before people started caring again.

Hall signs with the Redskins

Well that didn't take long. DeAngelo Hall, ex-Oakland Raider, cleared waivers and immediately signed a 1-year deal with the Washington Redskins for about $500,000.

I guess the price is right, as there seems to be little question about Hall's athletic abilities. But the Redskins already have depth at cornerback behind starters Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers, both of whom are not true shutdown corners but can normally be counted on not to get burned by the big play. Can't say the same for DeAngelo Hall, and I would be absolutely shocked if he immediately became anything higher than the nickel back.

To put Hall's first half of the season in perspective, according to the article he allowed 40 catches for 552 yards, or a dismal 13.8 yards per catch. That is horrible considering deserving NFL starters allow 6-8 YPC. While he did have 13 passes defensed and 3 interceptions, I think that's more a product of him getting thrown at more often than real skill. To top it all off, he's already shown that he can be a distraction in the locker room. Maybe the whole getting-cut-despite-the-huge-contract experience was humbling, but is the upside really worth it?

Top Draft Picks- Where are they now?

1. Jake Long OT (Miami Dolphins) - Long is having a good rookie season and has certainly been a factor in Chad Pennington's low sack number- in 255 dropbacks, he's been sacked 13 times- 5%. By comparison Jason Campbell has been sacked 23 times in 296 dropbacks, or about 7.7% of the time.

2. Chris Long DE (St. Louis Rams) - Long has 28 tackles and 4 sacks on the awful St. Louis Rams. While part of this might be due to the Rams always being down by 20 points and his opponent running the ball the entire second half, Long seems to have adjusted to the NFL nicely. He says he doesn't talk to his dad about football. I don't believe him.

3. Matt Ryan QB (Atlanta Falcons) - A virtual lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year (if Vince "Emo" Young can win it completing 51% of his passes for 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2006...), the Falcons hit three home runs in Ryan, running back Michael Turner, and wide receiver Roddy White. These three are only going to get better, and should put the Falcons back on the map. This season he's started all 8 games, thrown 227 attempts for 133 completions and 1661 yards with 9 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions, but more importantly he has his team at 5-3 and is in the playoff hunt in the weak NFC South.

4. Darren McFadden RB (Oakland Raiders) - McFadden showed flashes early this year... against the miserable Chiefs. Then he got turf toe...and then he got it again in his other foot. Not sure what the Raiders practice on during the week, but the McAfee Colliseum is a grass field. Anyway McFadden's future looks bright, as Al Davis clearly drafted him to be the feature back for the Raiders even though Justin Fargas has been doing a fine job in the first half before the Raiders start getting blown out. One wonders if the Raiders really needed another injury-prone running back on the roster...

5. Glenn Dorsey DT (Kansas City Chiefs) - Dorsey has 22 tackles (17 solo), no sacks, and no fumble recoveries. In other words, with less than 3 tackles per game on a team that sees the run up the middle a lot, he's not exactly the difference maker the Chiefs thought he'd be. Looks like the Warren Sapp comparisons can be shelved for now.

6. Vernon Gholston OLB (New York Jets) - What a colossal bust to date. Linebacker is widely acknowledged as one of the best positions for a rookie to make an immediate impact, but Gholston has 7 tackles (4 solo) and nothing else. In fairness he was a full-time defensive end in college, but seriously. 4 solo tackles for a player compared to the second coming of Jack Ham? Please.

7. Sedrick Ellis DT (New Orleans Saints) - He was injured for 3 games, but otherwise has just 10 tackles (7 solo) and a sack. Nowhere to go but up. His job gets harder with the recent season-ending injury to defensive end Charles Grant and the possible suspension of defensive end Will Smith. He and offseason acquisition Jonathan Vilma (MLB) have kept the Saints at a slighty-worse-than-average 18th against the run this season.

8. Derrick Harvey DE (Jacksonville Jaguars) - After a holdout that would have made Lance Briggs jealous, he is clearly still learning the Jaguars' defensive schemes and has 6 tackles (5 solo) and no sacks. I guess the Jaguars will have to wait another year to see if it was worth trading all the way up to #8 to take him. Meanwhile fellow rookie Quentin Groves has 8.5 tackles (6 solo), 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. And Groves hasn't even started a game...

9. Keith Rivers OLB (Cincinnati Bengals) - Currently he's sitting on his couch watching the Bengals continue to suck with a broken jaw, courtesy of a massive block from Hines Ward. Before the injury he had 37 tackles (24 solo) and an interception. 5 tackles per game put him on pace for an 80-90 tackle season, which is respectable. Rivers should only get better.

10. Jerod Mayo MLB (New England Patriots) - Mayo leads NFL rookies with 59 tackles (46 solo) but has no sacks or interceptions. The problem is that most of his tackles come several in front of the line of scrimmage. According to KC Joyner, when teams run at Mayo they average 7.2 yards per attempt. Ouch. The upside for the Patriots is that Mayo is young, and with Teddy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel in the twilight of their careers youth is certainly a virtue.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

DeAngelo Hall to be released...

ESPN is reporting that the Raiders plan to release cornerback DeAngelo Hall as soon as Wednesday. This is high on the heels of a 24-0 loss to the Falcons which saw Hall's coverage assignment- Michael Jenkins- go for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Hall was one of the biggest names in an offseason spending spree that saw the signings of players that nobody really thought were worth it, including Hall, DT Tommy Kelly, and WR Javon Walker. Hall's deal was 7 years for $66 million dollars with around $25 million guaranteed.

What a waste.

Unfortunately we will not be rid of the DeAngelo Hall disease this season. I'm betting he's signed with either the Cowboys or the Patriots in a matter of days.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Week 10 Predictions

Denver 20, Cleveland 27 - Well I guess if you're going to make your NFL starting debut, you might as well start at home against a horrible defense that gave up a 300 yard game to Chad Pennington the week previous. The Browns aren't playing a good team until the Colts come to town in week 13, so we'll have plenty of time to see whether or not he's ready to play at the NFL level by then.

New Orleans 27, Atlanta 24 - If Brees and company can't beat the Falcons on the road they might as well give up on the playoff hunt. Sure, Matt Ryan actually looks pretty good... but it's still the Falcons.

Tennessee 30, Chicago 16 - Rex Grossman is starting for the Bears, which is pretty much all one needs to know about who should win this game.

Jacksonville 27, Detroit 23 - Will Daunte Culpepper play? Honestly I don't think that's the best idea considering that ever since his casual trot out of the back of the end zone a couple weeks ago, Orlovsky has actually kept the Lions competitive against some decent teams. Jacksonville, like the rest of the AFC South, is in bad shape after two inexplicable losses against the Browns and the Bengals.

Baltimore 28, Houston 20 - Sage Rosenfels is not a bad backup. Sure he made some stupid mistakes in the game against Indianapolis, but don't count on that happening again. The Texans defense, however, is sieve-like, and considering Joe Flacco put up 30 points against the similarily defensively-challenged Browns, the Ravens ought to win handily.

Seattle 17, Miami 27 - Miami dominated Denver on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks can't stop anything, so I don't think there's any reason to suspect an upset here. How's Julius Jones working out for you?

Green Bay 28, Minnesota 24 - The Packers played with the league's best team for about 65 minutes in week 9. Now they get to play the floundering Vikings, who, despite major offseason acquisitions on defense, have averaged 26.4 points allowed. If Aaron Rodgers can protect the ball a little more, the Packers should be able to sweep the series.

Buffalo 17, New England 28 - An unusual mistake-filled game against the Colts from Bill Belichick won't be repeated at home against a team that's probably the biggest rival to the Patriots' chances of winning the division. The Bills have fallen to 0-2 in the AFC East, and haven't won on the road against New England since 2000 under Doug Flutie.

St. Louis 20, NYJ 27 - Two factors will be significant in the Rams' upcoming loss to the Jets. First, no West Coast team traveling East has won a game yet this season. Second, it's the Rams.

Carolina 30, Oakland 10 - Oakland recently announced they would be releasing several veteran players as early as Wednesday, including DeAngelo Hall. Too bad they gave up a second and sixth round draft pick for him. So while Nnamdi Asomugha should shut down Steve Smith most of the afternoon, if you've got Muhsin Muhammed on your fantasy team he's going to have a big day against whoever is Hall's replacement.

Indianapolis 14, Pittsburgh 24 - The Colts should be that much closer to exiting the playoff picture against a Steelers team that embarrassed the Redskins on Monday night, despite having Byron Leftwich under center. I wouldn't expect the Colts defense to be that strong against the run, although I wouldn't be surprised if Willie Parker re-hurt himself trying to duck out of bounds.

Kansas City 20, San Diego 31 - After a tough loss to the Saints in London, the Chargers should get back on track against the Chiefs. As odd as it sounds, the Chiefs have put up two respectable games in a row against teams that aren't exactly pushovers. Now we'll see how the youth movement fares on the road.

NYG 27, Philadelphia 24 - This should be the game of the week, pitting two of the league's most intriguing teams against each other. The Giants are looking every bit like a team that means to repeat their Super Bowl season. Their defense is stifling and the offense has been doing a great job keeping them off the field behind Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. Eli Manning has been spectacular on third down. The Eagles are a hard team to figure out. The defense is in the top 10 against both the run and the pass, but the offense struggled against the only good defense they've played so far this year (the Redskins, where the offense only put up 10 points). The Giants have the momentum after thrashing the archrival Cowboys last week.

San Francisco 17, Arizona 34 - Why on Earth is this a Monday night game? San Francisco is looking at a repeat of last season- make some noise early, hit rock bottom, and then start to show signs of life towards the end of the season. Maybe Mike Singletary will drop his pants again after Kurt Warner and company pick apart the porous secondary. Patrick Willis can't have 18-tackle games if all of the plays are 20 yards down the field, after all.