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.