Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The Dregs of the League
32.) St. Louis Rams (1-14)
Nothing good to say about this team..... so I won't say anything. However, New York misses you, and Bill Sheridan is really, really wanting you as a boss again, or maybe he just wants you as a shield for when some New Yorker throws slabs of ice at his motionless face.
31.) Kansas City Chiefs (3-12)
They gave up a 98 yard drive to lose the game. That is hard to do, even when your team is already despicable in every level. If he was not Belichick's personal cabana boy, Pioli would be hammered for not making this team better in any tangible way since last year.
30.) Detroit Lions (2-13)
Somehow, they are alive for the last pick, and I'm telling you, if I am Schwartz, Drew the coffee boy is playing QB, not Drew Stafford. Ndamakong Suh is a Haynesworth clone, with a supposed ability to try hard every snap. Jim Schwartz is probably climaxing just at the sight of his frame.
29.) Washington Redskins (4-11)
God, why did I believe in this team at all? Does Mike Shanahan really want to inherit this mess.
Their o-line is average. Their QB is average. Their WRs are below-average (or old). Their defense is good, but Shanny wouldn't know defense if it smacked him in the ass (just ask Larry Coyer). Why? Why, when Chicago is screaming out for you.
28.) Seattle Seahawks (5-10)
What a mess. I bought into the love, but forgot they had a Mr. Collins look-a-like at the helm. That never ends well.
27.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-12)
Good to see them playing hard for Raheem Morris. They could be a landing spot for Cowher, and Morris is probably on the way out, but he has easily risen up to coach rankings (http://loungingpass.blogspot.com/2009/12/nfl-coach-rankings.html). At least he's past Perry Fewell.
26.) Buffalo Bills (5-10)
Speaking of which. That Perry Fewell Fever lasted exactly three games. That was dreadful. Considering that most of the "embarrasment to the league" teams have played much better of late (Tampa, Detroit to some point, Cleveland), it is strange to see what teams have replaced them. And I think losing 31-3 to an average team is cause to put them at those treacherous depths.
25.) Oakland Raiders (5-10)
I will never get this team right. They probably will go out and beat the Ravens now that everyone despises them again after that game against the Browns. I will say this, they are not that far off as people may think. They will be good long before that Pioli-orchestrated mess of a unit is.
24.) Cleveland Browns (4-11)
Take note. The Bengals started last year 1-11-1, and finished with three straight wins. The Browns started this year 1-11, and now have won three straight. Somehow, I don't have the same faith in Brady Quinn and the Browns to do a 2009 Bengals routine than I did in Cincy this year.
Spoilers (or possibly, building momentum that will inevitably be killed over the next eight football-less months)
23.) Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8)
They were a fun tease for 13 weeks. I was in Jacksonville over the last weekend with family. I didn't go out much, but I saw zero enthusiasm for a team that is at least in the mix. That game was on TV as it was a road game, but it got a worse rating than that nights Arby's Crap-a-Burger Bowl.
22.) Miami Dolphins (7-8)
This team has surprised me with the way it layed down the last two weeks. Houston doesn't win those games, against good physical teams. They beat them like Miss Havisham beat Pip.
21.) Chicago Bears (6-9)
Nice performance. However, they still gave up 30 points in one half and blew a 16-0 halftime lead. That is cause for concern, and probably the last nail in Lovie Smith's coffin. It was a nice run for Lovie, taking this team to the playoffs twice, once a Super Bowl, and keeping that team perennially in the mix, but time has come for that train to leave Chicago station.
20.) San Francisco 49ers (7-8)
I still don't think that Alex Smith is the answer, and I even less think that Mike Singletary is the answer. There have been some disastrous lows (the 45-10 home loss to Atlanta that made Bill Walsh stab himself in his grave), but they are around .500, and have improved.
19.) New York Giants (8-7)
God, that was a disaster. This team always took care of business. What happened to the 2008-First5Weeksof2009 Giants? That was the dominant franchise in the league. They were the team to beat. Now, Tom Coughlin is probably fuming again, turning his watch back another five minutes. Eli actually improved, but that running game went to hell. Super Bowl XLII probably bought Coughlin five years, but they better improve next year. This team is as talented as Dallas and Philly. The fact that they crashed and burned is something that needs to be adressed.
18.) Atlanta Falcons (8-7)
They have a shot at finishing over .500. That in itself is cause for celebration. Both of the miracle 2008 teams (Miami, Atlanta) fell off a bit, as expected by me. But in the end, they stayed around .500, setting both up for a good bounce-back year three. That NFC South should be interesting next year.
17.) Tennessee Titans (7-8)
Well, the 2009 resurgence lasted a nice eight weeks. Looks like that loss to Indy killed one half, and the Chargers were the second car, driving them into the ground, breaking into 12 pieces splattering blood and Chris Johnson's hair all over the place. I don't hear near the Chris Johnson is God talk these days.
16.) Carolina Panthers (7-8)
Good way to finish the season. Still not sure if Matt Moore is for real, but if he is, they are immediate contenders next year. DeAngelo and JStew are both in their prime, and Stewart will gain much from this time alone in the spot-light. If they ever get a good second WR, they are the 12-4 team they were in 2008 again.
I Mean, the Cardinals Did It Last Year!!!!
9.) Denver Broncos (8-7)
Now 2-7 in their last nine, they seem to be a team in free-fall. However, they play tough in most games and have had a diffucut shedule. They turned out to be the team we all thought they were, but that 6-0 start wasn't a total mirage. They will be the ultimate playoff fodder if they sneak in, but for a team that had legitimate thought at the top pick, a good year all around.
8.) New York Jets (8-7)
They probably luck in, especially if New England wins earlier in the day, but they are a team I would gladly like to come back to the Luke in round two. They are a mirage. Their defense is not great against premier competition, and Sanchez is a Shaun King type rookie, not a Flacco or a Roethlisberger.
7.) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7)
If Houston loses, and one of the Jet/Raven combo loses, they sneak in. I'm sure that the round one team that they will play does not want any part of them, but they did not impress me at all in that Baltimore game. The Ravens gave them that game. It was simple Salvation Army charity-style. They are the champs, but with Troy being not at full strength, if at all in the playoffs, they will need a serious change to make a real run past the divisional round, if that.
6.) Houston Texans (8-7)
They will look back at some of those games and curse themselves. They have a shot at making one last statement, and either way, Kub-es probably keeps his job. I'll say this: I want to thank Matt Schaub for a full, good fantasy season. That was a good start of what might be a Drew Brees 2006-2009 type run the next four years.
5.) Baltimore Ravens (8-7)
They are a team that if they play the way they are capable, they can beat anyone. They still can hold any team to 17-24. Maybe they won't win playoff games 27-9 or 13-10 like last year, but they have enough firepower, especially with Ray Rice being a mini-Chris Johnson in his explosiveness, to beat teams 23-20 or 24-17.
6.) Dallas Cowboys (10-5)
There is enough there to make a run, but I just don't think they can score enough. That defense is great against the Redskins and Raiders of the world, but when they go to Arizona, or New Orleans (I know, I know, they already beat them) they will have to slow them down, and score, and I think when push comes to shove, it won't happen. The NFC is wide open, and I think that other than the team to follow I could see any team making it to Miami, but I think the Cowboys have the lowest cieling.
5.) Minnesota Vikings (11-4)
I cannot see them in Miami in Super Bowl XLIV, but I would pick them over the Cowboys, since they match up beautifully with them. They can still stop the run, and can still score, Carolina game aside. Also, all those people claiming for Favre-MVP and calling them the best team in football probably feel like Giant idiots, eh Jaworski??
4.) Green Bay Packers (10-5)
They probably scare every NFC team. They can play defense. They had their nightmare game in Pittsburgh. Every good team has one nightmare game (Colts: vs NE. NE: @ NO. NO: vs DAL. DAL: @ GB (or @ NYG). SD: @ PIT. CIN: @ MIN. MIN: the last four weeks), and they've had it. Their running game has really come on strong, which makes them twice as dangerous. Loud, loud out.
If One of Us Don't Win, then the NFL Playoffs is Essentially March Madness without the Co-Eds or the Cheating/Money-Grabbing Coaches
4.) New England Patriots (10-5)
Not gonna get sucked in by one performance against a dead-team. The Jags played their Super Bowl against the Colts, and had nothing left. That was embarrasing for them. Anyway, this team reaks of a team that will suck everyone in. They are the AFC's "You don't want to play this team come playoff time" team. SD would have been, but after 10 straight, I think everyone now knows that you don't want to play them. The only recent team of said label that won the Super Bowl was the 2005 Steelers. That's it. I still don't think they win a gunfight.
3.) Cincinnatti Bengals (10-5)
They will have emotion on their side, with Chris Henry still fueling them. They are a team much like the 2003 Patriots. However, the Pats were able to win their miracle games (the intentional safety against Denver, the goal-line stand at Indy) while the Bengals lost theirs (the Stokley game, the Oakland loss, Caldwell jet-propelled fumble at San Diego). They have only been truly outplayed twice. That is a sign of a good team. They will make noise, and I would seriously think about picking them again in San Diego.
2.) San Diego Chargers (12-3)
This run can't last forever, can it? That was impressive. I have to give them all the credit in the world. Now, after admitting that, I have to wipe myself of the vomit I just induced after making myself say such heinous things.
1.) Indianapolis Colts (14-1)
They still haven't been beaten at full strength. They still are the team to beat. One game does not change that. Also, it's not like their potential round 2 foes are really that scary, like Pittsburgh in 2005 or San Diego in 2007. Cincy and NE may be good, but neither is as good as those two teams. Plus, that dredge of Wild-Card teams is inevitably a whipping stick for SD or IND.
3.) Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
They still have that peak. Believe me, after possibly the Eagles they are the scariest team in the NFC. When they are on, they are almost unbeatable. They nuetered the Vikings so much that they have never recovered. Bryant McKinnie is still weeping in his sleep from the thought of the Cards game.
2.) Philadelphia Eagles (11-4)
Scary, scary, scary. No, not the ability of the Eagles. But the thought that everyone is solidly behind the "They are the favorite" line right now. Knowing Donovan McNabb's history in NFC Title Games, no Philly fan is sleeping easily.
1.) New Orleans Saints (13-2)
Don't want to knock them off yet. It happens. They had nothing to play for. They had already lost, taking away any 16-0 adrenaline. That was meaningless. It was a fluke. They were up 17-0. Sure, I am talking utter crap, and probably just trying to cover for picking them, and going full-force on the Saints bandwagon. I'll just say this, the '99 Rams (my Saints comparison all year) lost to the Lions. The Lions. It happens.
1.) Indianapolis Colts 15-1
2.) San Diego Chargers 13-3
3.) Cincinnatti Bengals 11-5
4.) New England Patriots 10-6
5.) Baltimore Ravens 9-7
6.) Denver Broncos 9-7
1.) New Orleans Saints 14-2
2.) Philadelphia Eagles 12-4
3.) Minnesota Vikings 12-4
4.) Arizona Cardinals 11-5
5.) Green Bay Packers 10-6
6.) Dallas Cowboys 10-6
Friday, December 25, 2009
San Diego @ Tennessee (-3)
Tennessee, much like Cincinnatti, can give the Chargers trouble with their physicality. I finally figured out who the Chargers are. They are the 2003-2004 Colts. Great pass offense, little run offense when it is truly needed, and a pillow-soft defense against good, tough, physical football teams. At home, this formula works (witness last weeks slug-it-out win against Cincy), but on the road it can create problems. That Nashville crowd will be rocking, with the team finally at .500 and the short week kills teams, especially short week on the road, cross-country against a team fighting for its life.
Chargers 20 Titans 27 (TEN)
Seattle @ Green Bay (-14)
The Jim L. Mora era is coming to a crashing end. In the meantime, that supposed sturdy defense of the Packers is in need of a hug after giving up five-bills to Roethlisberger. Well, there is no better elixir to an ailing pass defense, than to play the Seahawks and their stable of average, backup lineman. Walter Jones, that beast is not coming through the door. AJ Hawk and Clay Matthews will likely get enough frequent-flyer miles flying to Hasselbeck's arms to take an offseason trip to Istanbul. Doner Kebabs, Baby!!!
Seahawks 13 Packers 34 (GB)
Oakland @ Cleveland (-3)
Come on, Oakland. Just get this one. They have been awful after each of their previous four wins. However, JaMarcus played a hand in all of them. People forget that the team was winning 13-6 at halftime. JaMarcus saved them from blowing a lead, not a heroic comeback. They can really get momentum going into that last-week mother-of-all-spoiler games next week against Baltimore. They are playing like a team that knows it missed opportunities earlier in the year (opportunites like shoving JaMarcus out of the team plane on the flight to New York - JaMarcus wouldn't die, as his gelatinous fat will act as a parachute, landing him comfortably among the cornfields of Iowa, where he will be among his own, the heffers!!). As for the Browns, unless Jerome Harrison becomes Jim Brown again, and Josh Cribbs returns two to the hizz-ice, don't see them making it three in a row.
Raiders 27 Browns 17 (OAK)
Kansas City @ Cincinnatti (-13.5)
The Chiefs just lost to the Browns at Arrowhead. They just allowed the aforementioned Jerome Harrison to rush for 286. Come on, this is stealing. Also, you just know Larry Johnson wants to stick it to that douche Haley. He just wants to run for 100, and smack a big kiss on Haley's wife sitting in row one.
Chiefs 10 Bengals 31 (CIN)
Buffalo @ Atlanta (-9)
This line is too high. Matty Ice and Turner weren't exactly killing last week. The Bills are very good at pass defense. They held their own, and really cost themselves the game against the Pats. They can go into the Georgia Dome, which will be a live mausoleum, fans greiving the loss of another Falcons season ending before the second weekend of January.
Bills 20 Falcons 24 (BUF)
Houston @ Miami (-3)
This is the toughest game of the week (outside of the IND game, where it is unbeknowst to me whether Manning is playing the game fully or not). These are two 7-7 teams, and they both have legitimate claims to the postseason. The Dolphins are one of the leaders of the 7-7 pack, while the Texans hold a tiebreaker only against the Titans. However, beating the Dolphins kills two birds. This is a game that the Texans, if they ever want to make the postseason, even be it next season, need to win. The Texans suck in showdown games, witness the dual Fails to the Colts and the loss on Monday Night hosting the Titans. All tough winnable games, all losses. They have to make it stop. Andre Johnson is an absolute man. Also, people are writing them off afther that really flukey 16-13 win over the Rams. A win is a win, they come back in a big way.
Texans 27 Dolphins 24 (HOU)
Carolina @ New York (n) (-7)
Carolina is a great running team. The Giants have alternated between '85 Bears and '08 Lions against the run. Not sure how that will play out. Jakle Delhomme has finally been put on IR, which will probably lend itself to every single Panthers player and fan feeling a giant weight of their shoulders. The Giants are in the thick of the race, and the Panthers "We Gotta Win or John Fox will Lose His Job" Game and Julius Peppers "Wait a Minute, I'm the Most Dominant Force in Football. I can Beat This Crap LT" Game is over for the month. That was last week. Not this one. But, this line feels a bit high for a team that rarely gets blown out, against a team that is better on the road. I hope new Giants Stadium is in a wind-resistant bubble.
Panthers 17 Giants 23 (CAR)
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-14)
This is becoming normal in length, so for games like this one, I will just quote that literary lexicologist, Chad Johnson (Ochocinco) (Hachi-Go): Kiss Da Baby. That's all you need to know. Just like Chad, I have no clue what that means, but in these type of games, it fits.
Buccaneers 14 Saints 41 (NO)
Jacksonville @ New England (-7.5)
Tough game. The Jags can play with anyone. They can run, which as shown by last week is another one of myriad problems with that New England defense. They can cover, and they can put up points and control the ball. They are a team that can give the Pats problems, as long as Garrard doesn't channel his inner Byron Leftwich.
Jagaurs 20 Patriots 23 (JAX)
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (-2.5)
They're the defending champs, defending their home-turf. Troy might be back. And come on, we all want 5 8-7 teams and 5 7-8 teams entering Week 17 for those two wild-card spots. KISS DA BABY.
Ravens 16 Steelers 20 (PIT)
Denver @ Philadelphia (-7)
The hottest NFC team in the league is QB-ed by McNabb and coached by Andy Reid. Come on, they can't keep up this torrid pace from now through Jan. They need a game to reassure to their fans that they are still the Eagles. KISS DA BABY.
Broncos 17 Eagles 20 (DEN)
St. Louis @ Arizona (-14)
The Cards just don't get up for those teams. Maybe that is a legitimate criticism of Ken Whisenhunt, but they win most of them. He's still in my top-5 of coaches. Plus, Kurt Warner cannot expend total energy in every game. I would rather him play this one at a octane lower than the max, than do it against Green Bay in round one. As for the Rams, they have played well the last couple of weeks, and look for it to last another week.
Rams 19 Cardinals 27 (STL)
Detroit @ San Francisco (-13.5)
The coach takes his pants off. The team is QBed by Alex "Yeah, I know, my hands are small. You don't need to insinuate that it has anything to do with the size of my doberman, thank you" Smith. Megatron is Megatron. KISS DA BABY.
Lions 24 49ers 20 (DET)
New York (a) @ Indianapolis (-5.5)
This is tough. I say Manning goes all-out one more week, and plays a half, enough time to pad a 21-3 or 17-3 like lead, next week. The defense probably goes without Freeney and Mathis for a long time, but the Jets offense is not what scares me the least. Last home game until Jan 16-17. Please, they show up.
Jets 14 Colts 31 (IND)
Dallas (-7) @ Washington
Let's see. Everyone riding Dallas, the team that just beat the perfect Saints. However, Dallas is still the team that followed a beat-down of the 11-2 Giants last year with consecutive losses to the combined score of 77-30. That bandwagon is stuffed full like a "Joe's Lawn Service" truck in Miami. Washington, who always gets it up for the Cowboys, just got embarrased at home. That bandwagon is emptier than Bill Belichick's soul. KISS DA BABY.
Cowboys 21 Redskins 20 (WAS)
Minnesota (-7) @ Chicago
Cold, snow possible. Brett Favre has looked like excrement in both Arizona (the diametric opposite of Chicago in late-December) and Carolina (not exactly Siberia). Come on, he can't bring it 100%. However, Peterson can, and will. They need this game, because next weeks game will be against a desperate Giants team. They need the game to keep up with the Eagles for that 2 seed. They need this game. Cutler is a gone case this year. It's over for him in 2009. All he has to do is avoid 30 ints. That's it and call it a successful last two weeks. Matt Forte is evidently in witness protection somewhere in Idaho, while lucky fan winner #23 is playing RB.
Vikings 23 Bears 13 (MIN)
Enjoy the Games. More importantly, for my Christian friends, enjoy Christmas. For my non-Christian readers, enjoy break, and the last week of the '00s. Have fun.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Now, for the Power Rankings, to make this easier, I'll split the teams into three catagories: No Playoffs: Wild-Card/Playoff Fodder: Legitimate Title Contenders. When we get to Wild Card fodder, and Legit Title Contenders, I'll split them by conferences. It's weird, but with this incomprehensible surfeit of 7-7 teams, I feel like something has to be done.
The Dregs of the League
32.) Kansas City Chiefs (3-11)
Sure, the Rams have only one win. Then again, the Rams weren't just embarrased at home by the Cleveland Browns. To put it into perspective, I would definitely pick St. Louis, even with Keith Null (who I wrongly called Kraig last week. I'm sorry but really, the guy is Keith Null, how do you expect me to know that) over the Chiefs right now. I'm gonna say that the Scott Pioli, Todd Haley and Matt Cassel triumvirate will never smell the playoffs.
31.) St. Louis Rams (1-13)
Why did they ever change those uniforms. Sure, they are totally ghastly, and look like those yellow stripes are just yellow tape on blue tape, but they won a Super Bowl in those, and immediately changed them. That is no way to show love to the fashion-loving sectre of the football Gods.
30.) Detroit Lions (2-12)
Drew Stafford/Daunte Culpepper, I have never seen two mixed racial QBs look so similar. That was easily the worst performance by a team in a performance that will be universally hailed as a good performance in NFL history. The end is in sight, Lions fans, but you may need a telescope for that sight.
29.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12)
Random dominant win in Seattle on Sunday. However, I have a feeling that it says alot more about where that Seattle franchise has gone to than it being a sign of some Buccaneer ressurection. Sure, the Raiders are the butt of more jokes, but looking at it seven years later, the Raiders are in a better position to win the Super Bowl than the Buccaneers are right now. And to me, that is all that matters.
28.) Washington Redskins (4-10)
That was just despicable last night. Other than the persuasive powers of Dan Snyder's wallet, what would draw Mike Shanahan to this team. Jason Campbell is average at best, however he gets no protection at all. The Devin Thomas/Malcolm Kelly combo has done nothing, they have an aging RB and TE, and have no depth on defense. What is appealling? At least Chicago has a good QB (I know calling Cutler a good QB is a strecth, but he just didn't forget how to play overnight).
27.) Cleveland Browns (3-11)
Josh Cribbs is the second greatest kick/punt returner ever. The Browns are evidently considering turning him into a Wide Receiver. You would think that they would learn from what happened to the Greatest kick/punt returner ever when they tried to turn him into a WR. BTW, his name rhymes with "Kevin Fester".
26.) Seattle Seahawks (5-9)
God, that was even more despicable than what the Redskins did. Good God. Now I see why Mike Holmgren picked Cleveland over Seattle. That is a mess. Mora Jr. is an awful, over-his-head head coach. He has to be right behind Eric Mangini in the "How did this coach ever get a second job" hall-of-fame.
Spoilers, but Really, Nothing More
25.) Buffalo Bills (5-9)
Seems like I overrated Perry Fewell's power. The Bills lost at home when they outrushed and outpassed New England on Sunday. They had every opportunity possible to win that game, or at least send it into overtime, but they just committed penalty after penalty. Imagine telling some Buffalo-ite after their 4th consecutive Super Bowl loss that they would lose 14 in a row to the ragged New England Patriots. They would probably do nothing, since they are from the most unconfrontational city in America, but they would definitely be mad on the inside.
24.) Chicago Bears (5-9)
Jay Cutler is not this bad. That is all I have to say. Maybe if you get him a real receiver, and stop this idiotic conversion of turning most dynamic and exciting player in the NFL into a 3rd-receiver, you may go back to the heights of 2006. I mean, Minnesota is not that much more talented. OK, maybe that last line was a lie, but, Philadelphia is not that much more talented, except for the receiver position.
23.) San Francisco 49ers (6-8)
......... (team didn't show up, their wrap-up is not showing up)
22.) Oakland Raiders (5-9)
They have beaten the Eagles (10-4), Steelers (7-7), Bengals (9-5) and Broncos (8-6). I'm not sure any team has beaten three teams with eight wins currently. Actually the Colts have (and probably some others, but I'm feeling lazy). If they get any passing game, and if they just get like 10% more consistent, they will make a serious Wild Card push next year. Honestly, knowing that they probably have given up on J-Russ (even with that sloppy good performance), makes me so much happier about the prospects of my first wife (NFL-team wise). The NFL is better off when the Raiders are good.
21.) Carolina Panthers (6-8)
Those were the Panthers I expected to show up the whole second half of the year. That 0-3 start just killed them, but they are 6-5 since. They still have a young, talented team (apart from QB). Maybe, just maybe, Matt Moore is that guy. If so, they will be right back at the top of the league next year. Also, Steve Smith is a baller.
20.) Atlanta Falcons (7-7)
Nice win. I did not expect them to pull that game out at all. The actually have a chance at getting their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history. Yes, that's right, they've never done that. The Colts have now seven consecutive 12 win season, and the Falcons have never even had two consecutive 9 win seasons.
I Mean, the Cardinals Did it Last Year!!
Ahhh, yes, the 7-7 Brigade (with some foxy 8-6 teams mixed in, for pure perversion). All of these teams are as likely as the next to make the playoffs. They are all pretty much 6-5 or 5-6 in conference. Some of them even play each other. This upcoming order is subject to massive change in the upcoming two weeks, like Kabeer level change.
12.) New York Jets (7-7)
The Jets, for my money, are the worst. They have a good defense, but it strikes me as one that is a tad overrated, having feasted on too many of the Falcons and Bills of the world. Their QB is still redefining "atrocious" and "catastrophic fall into the lower depths of hell" as we speak. And their coach is now pushing 4-bills. Not good, especially with the Colts, who will have to play Manning so Pey-Pey gets some timing down with the finally healthy Anthony Gonzalez. Look out, that bottom's about to drop.
11.) Denver Broncos (8-6)
That bottom has long dropped. Mother of God, was that pitiful. The Raiders running game, the most variant good running game in the NFL, ran through them like they were a daisy patch. They blew a 6 point lead to JAMARCUS RUSSELL. I cannot believe that this team hooked me in. I thought they would go 2-14. Well, you know what. Screw them. For all I know, those first six wins were all fixed, just so no loony Denver-ian didn't snipe Josh McDaniel's and force-feed Kyle Orton his own beard. They are 2-6 in my books, which makes me close to correct.
10.) Jacksonville Jaguars (7-7)
They impressed me Thursday Night. Of course, they had everything to play for at home against a team with nothing to play for, but still, that was impressive. Reminded me alot of the Week 17 Pats/Giants game in 2007. However, I bet my whole life the Jaguars are not playing in Super Bowl XLIV, like those Giants did. Also, am I the only one who thinks that MoJo Drew is kind of a douchy prick.
9.) Miami Dolphins (7-7)
Heartbreaking loss. Of all the 7-7 teams, they are the crucial one. They play two other 7-7's (hosting both HOU and PIT), and can either make the playoffs by sweeping out, or giving those two hope. Why do I feel they will all end up 8-8 just to screw with the minds of the public. Honestly, that "Playoff Clincher Scenarios" column for Week 17 is going to be longer than Thucydides' Polleponesian War (Oh, Thucydides, how I wish I could meet you and cut off your fingers, dip them in your own excrement, and serve them to you, fondue style).
8.) Houston Texans (7-7)
The ultimate dark horse. Two tough games left, with a trip to Miami followed by hosting the Pats. Now, the Pats will have sown up tha division, but will probably be playing for the third seed. The third seed nets them a trip to San Diego, while the fourth nets them a trip to Indianapolis (or SD). My guess is that the Pats would rather get the 3 seed, so they will be trying. This all leads me to this: I'm pretty sure that even if they win out, they probably don't get it, but they will be a huge thorn in the side of New England.
7.) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
Boy, that Steeler defense is just plain bad. Has a defense ever fallen further in just one year. That was embarrasing. They cannot get near the pass-rush of last year, and that back-end resembles Florida's in that SEC Title Game (no game since Super Bowl XLII has given so much joy to see a team go down). Troy Polamalu cannot mean this much. It's not possible, unless he is hiding HGH in that hair of his.
6.) Tennessee Titans (7-7)
That was a gutty win against two desperate teams. It says so much about Jeff Fisher as a coach that they can get to .500 after that 0-6 start. However, it says more about just how good these Colts are that they are the only team to beat the Titans in the last 8, and not only did they beat Tennessee, they were leading 27-10, before the Titans got a garbage time TD. OK, I'm done heaping praise on the Colts, until the Colts part.
5.) Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
They just feast on these bad teams. Somehow, their defense is right back up to number two in points allowed. They are a scary proposition for that 3-4 seed who has to play them. Joe Flacco has really gotten his level of play back up after that midseason swoon. Ray Rice is second only to Chris Johnson on the "Orgasmingly high Excitement Generator of an NFL-Player-ma-tron". Good team, dangerous round one, but probably not as good as the 6 seed Ravens from last year.
4.) New England Patriots (9-5)
This may be the Patriots hater putting them in this group, but I don't see why they should be as good as the top-3 in the AFC. Sure, they are technically ranked ahead of the Bengals, but if those two teams played tomorrow in some nuetral site, I'm taking the Bengals. Brady just looks off. That was an inexplicably bad performance. The Weather wasn't even that bad. They tried that whole "We'll show you, NFL, for doubting (in this case) Moss" vengeance shit that was so effective in 2007. What did it generate: 5 catches and 70 yards for Moss and a 17-10 win. God, if that's the angry Pats, sign me up. However, as you will see in the upcoming list, I do not want them coming to Indy in round 2.
(Quickie side-bar rankings)
Fear Rankings of these teams on the prospect of them coming into Indy in round 2
8.) Jets (Child Please)
7.) Jaguars (Child Please^2)
6.) Dolphins (They lost when they played perfectly in Week 2)
5.) Ravens (Nowhere near as good against actual competition)
4.) Titans (Chris Johnson is a Greek God)
3.) Pats (They're the Pats)
2.) Steelers (They're the Champs, and they did it to us in 2005)
1.) Texans (They just scare me. Going 3-0 against a team is tough)
7.) Dallas Cowboys (9-5)
I know, I know. I'm knocking them down after a franchise-changing win. Well, I feel like I have reason. Washington may no longer be tough (I mean, they looked like a Division-3 school against the Giants), but with a one game lead, and having been swept by the Giants, that Week 17 game looks scary. The Eagles will probably still be alive for the second seed, so they won't lay down. That will be serious. One game does not a difference make. Last year, they beat the 11-2 Giants in Week 15, and then lost their next two games 77-30.
6.) New York Giants (8-6)
That was impressive. The Redskins were playing pretty well the last couple of weeks, and they did everything short of making the Redskins play the role of the catcher last night. They were so far superior. That is the team that ran roughshod through the league through 13 Weeks last year. Eli Manning quietly is having a very good statistical year. The defense seems to have some swagger back. Hell, Jacobs is head-hunting Albert "I once stomped on a man's face" Haynesworth. Go get them, Gotham-ites.
5.) Green Bay Packers (9-5)
So much for that "Good lord, that Packers defense in FIERCE" sandstorm that was whirling up. They got pressure on Roethlisberger, but pressure is secondary to the simpler things of covering people. Aaron Rodgers continued his good year, and I'm pretty sure he is now outperforming Favre with a slightly weaker supporting cast. I am pretty sure Minnesota wants no part of them come round two (one??).
If One of Us Don't Win, then the NFL Playoffs is Essentially March Madness without the Co-Eds or the Cheating/Money-Grabbing Coaches
3.) Cincinnati Bengals (9-5)
That was a great performance. I really want to see the rematch in the divisional round, but it looks like we're locked into Pats/Chargers (unless Santa answers my call and the Pats get knocked off in Round 1). The finally decided to let Palmer rip, and they exposed what is an above-average secondary. Chad looks like a man-possessed, and seeing from 2003-2007, that is not a one-game thing. Look for this team to win out, and gather steam heading into the playoffs where they will probably be under-dogs against a Baltimore team who they swept.
2.) San Diego Chargers (11-3)
I'll admit it, these are not the 2007-2008 Chargers. These are the exact opposite. Statistically, this is not a great team. However, they now win those big-time games against good competition. They rise to the occassion. They may make it look ugly, and LT may still be cryogenically frozen, with a CGI-d hologram taking his place every Sunday, but they just win. I was wrong, San Diego.
1.) Indianapolis Colts (14-0)
What more can Peyton do. 7 4th quarter comebacks, and to think people considered Brady the better clutch player?!?!?! Two of his top-3 targets from last year are gone, and were replaced by a mormon and a player from Mount Union. What does he do: lead the team swimmingly. Honestly, seeing Manning play QB is like watching Eddie Van Halen play guitar. Just soak it all in. It won't last forever. Manning will eventually retire, like Eddie will eventually have a catfight with David Lee Roth, but while it is here, there is nothing better. Also, that defense is still something. Sure, they were smashed for 3 quarters, but that was with Freeney and Mathis playing sparingly. Those two played much of the 4th quarter, and the Jags were scoreless. Now, it's all up to Caldwell to see whether we can have a second 16-0 team in three years.
4.) Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
I was right, they would have to fight for the 2 seed, I just picked the wrong team to wrestle it away. What was that? At least losing to Arizona, when Arizona is playing on beast-mode is defendable. Getting toad-smacked by Carolina?? That is just too much. Brett Favre wasn't even the 4-int Favre. What happened to that offensive line. I guess Bryant McKinnie isn't the greatest LT since Ogden, as Peter Kings was hailing him as. I guess Adrian Peterson is not Walter Payton incarnate. They are still a good team, and I guess they can hold on to that 2-seed, but believe me, teams are lining out through the door for the prospect of going there in round two and not the Superdome (or Philly, or even Arizona).
3.) Arizona Cardinals (9-5)
I'll say this. On my teams with the highest ceiling list (which I will rank my top-5 at the end of the power-rankings (I know, I know, so many rankings)) the Cards are very, very close to the top. They have a level that very few teams can match. Now, they never seem to want to reach it, unless they are playing a good team, but that isn't too worrying come playoff time. They will be a tough out, as they are vastly better defensively this year than last. Warner has been a bit off since the Vikings game, though. On the flip side, Beanie Wells gives them great balance.
2.) Philadelphia Eagles (10-4)
They are who we thought they were. I thought this team would be one of the better NFC teams (3rd, behind the Giants and the Pack (oops)). McNabb looks like he did back in 2002. DeSean Jackson is creeping up on the "Holy Fuck, Did He Just Do That!?!?" list, and the running game has stayed surprisingly average without Westbrook. Also, let's not forget the job of Sean McDermott, who filled Shaq-sized shoes replacing the late Jim Johnson. That was no easy task, and he is passing with merit. (As a comparison, just look at the job Bill Sheridan has done filling in for Spags, and Johnson's shoes were twice as big.)
1.) New Orleans Saints (13-1)
Sure, they lost one game, but the biggest problem with people trying to analyze the NFL is taking too much stock from one game. It happens. Other than the '72 Dolphins (and up to now, the '09 Colts) everyone has a bad game. Now, if they don't mercilessly destroy the Bucs this week, then I'll think about moving them, but they are still the team to beat in the NFC.
Projected Playoff Seeding:
1.) Indianapolis Colts (15-1)
2.) San Diego Chargers (12-4)
3.) Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
4.) New England Patriots (10-6)
5.) Dont Have The Mental
6.) Capacity to Work These Two Out
1.) New Orleans Saints (14-2)
2.) Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
3.) Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
4.) Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
5.) Green Bay Packers (11-5)
6.) New York Giants (10-6)
The Highest Ceiling Ranking
5.) Pittsburgh Steelers - Troy makes a difference, and their ceiling is a slightly less-good version of the 2008 Super Bowl Champions. If they find their ceiling, I hope to God two other 9-7 teams make it in.
4.) Philadelphia Eagles - They can be explosive offensively, and pressure defensively. Only weakness, no real running game, and that defensive back-end is suspect.
3.) Arizona Cardinals - Witness that Minnesota game. Their defense can be dominant if they want. Their offense, especially the Fitz-Boldin-Warner hook-up can be deadly. They are a team who, when they want to, can beat any team in the league.
2.) New Orleans Saints - Their ceiling is that team that mercillesly clubbed the baby-seal that was the Patriots on MNF. This team has the ability to be the 2007 Pats, regular season version.
1.) Indianapolis Colts - Their ceiling is the 1989 49ers, who outscored their playoff competitions 126-26.
Yes, the marathon, Simmons-esque in length, power rankings is done.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Anyway, the games:
Indianapolis (-3) @ Jacksonville
Gotta believe they will go all out. Mathis and Freeney will be limited, but the Manning Co. will be at full strength, and that should be enough. This is a night game, and Manning is 17-3 in night games going back to 2003.
Colts 31 Jaguars 20 (IND)
Dallas @ New Orleans (-7.5)
Really, if this were a small-market good but not great team against New Orleans (say, Miami), this line is 13. They are just too good in that dome, especially on primetime. Manning will make an MVP statement Thursday, Brees will have to answer. Those Cowboys just cannot get it done in December.
Cowboys 17 Saints 35 (NO)
Miami @ Tennessee (-5.5)
Big line, especially with a team who can stop the run, and is a tough-as-nails foe. Miami rarely gets blown out, and Tennessee doesn't blow teams out, at least those not QB-ed by Kraig Null. Gotta go with the gut, and the gut tells me that Miami is one of the six best teams in the AFC.
Dolphins 23 Titans 20 (MIA)
New England (-7.5) @ Buffalo
Moss is dogging it. Brady is slightly hurt. Defenses are routinely holding them in the 20s in normal conditions. Snow is in the air for Buffalo, and at least cold, cold weather. (When I say snow, I don't mean Baltimore/DC level snow, but flurries). The Bills are playing hard for Perry Fewell, and an interim coach can do nothing better than beat a divisional foe fighting for a playoff spot.
Patriots 20 Bills 24 (BUF)
Arizona (-14) @ Detroit
I doubt Arizona turns it over 7 times. I doubt it matters.
Cardinals 38 Lions 14 (ARZ)
New York (a) (-7) @ Atlanta
No Ryan, no Turner against a defense that feasts on average offenses. The Jets can be beaten defensively by a good team, but against the Falcons/Chris Redman-level dregs of the league, they will make Redman turn Blue (Yeah, I'm that busy, that is the level of jokes this week!!).
Jets 27 Falcons 14 (NYJ)
Cleveland @ Kansas City (-2)
I want to pick Cleveland, but Todd Haley's temper would actually kill someone if they drop this one. Also, I think it is time to call Matt Cassel a bum, and a product of Randy Moss, which puts him in the same level of a 37-year old Cunnincham, Jeff George and Culpepper. I really have no idea. Mangini is probably coaching for his job, with Czar Holmgren staring at him.
Browns 27 Chiefs 24 (CLE)
Houston (-14) @ St. Louis
Houston, somehow, can still sneak into the playoffs, and now, when they are the biggest longshot, they will go on their run and save Kubiak's job. Here's a prediction, and cast it in stone: If Kubiak stays, they win 11 games next year, minimum.
Texans 41 Rams 17 (HOU)
Green Bay @ Pittsburgh (-.5)
The Pack's bandwagon is getting a little too crowded. They are a good team, but they need to drop one to get all this "They are the only team with the defense to beat the Saints" garbage out. Also, come on. The 'Burgh can't lose 6 in a row!! Not happening.
Packers 16 Steelers 21 (PIT)
San Francisco @ Philadelphia (-7.5)
Really, this should be alot higher. Philly is really, really good, and the 49ers somehow made a game where they were giftwrapped 7 turnovers interesting in the fourth quarter. An Owl couldn't see through that smokescreen of a win.
49ers 14 Eagles 31 (PHI)
Chicago @ Baltimore (-11)
I would say this is a tad high, but the snow kills this. Flacco is yet to play in a snow game. Cutler spent the last three years in Denver. I'll say he has the snow advantage. In a blizzard-like snow, throwing is easier than running, and that also helps the Bears, as the Ravens depend on the run more, while Matt Forte is now allowed to spend another week in Guantanamo.
Bears 20 Ravens 24 (CHI)
Cincinnatti @ San Diego (-7)
So, Ochocinco want to wear 15 in honor of Chris Henry. I love it. Roger Goodell, that never-ending dipshit, does not. He will fine Ochocinco. Thankfully, the NFLPA has already said that they will pay Ocho's fine. I love it! Roger Goodell is an idiot, straight and true. He really has done nothing good for the league. The salary cap is on the way out, he wants to play games in London where they could give two shits for the NFL, and wants to ludicrously expand the schedule. Why is he commissioner?
Now, about the Henry situation. It's a real tragedy. He was turning his life around, recommitting himself to his three kids, and being the family man he wasn't three years ago. It is just horrible that three kids will grow up without the father that they deserve and the father that Henry was working so hard to be. RIP Chris Henry, and the Bengals will honor you well.
Bengals 24 Chargers 14 (CIN)
Oakland @ Denver (-14)
This strikes me as too high, and if Gradkowski was starting, I might have even called up Mexico and placed some dinero on the ol' Silver and Black. However, Charlie Frye is starting, the guy who was onced traded to Seattle, and was behind Seneca Wallace on the QB depth chart. That guy. However, the Raiders are in total "ABJ" mode. That's "Anybody but JaMarcus".
Raiders 20 Broncos 30 (OAK)
Tampa Bay @ Seattle (-6.5)
Really, a truly awful game. How the mighty have fallen in Seattle.
Buccaneers 14 Seahawks 27 (SEA)
Minnesota (-9) @ Carolina
Isn't this why flex scheduling was invented. CIN @ SD was not a protected game, so why on earth was that not flex-ed in. This Favre ball-washing has to stop. There is no reason for this to be the primetime games. None. However, since it is, gotta believe the Panthers get it up a little bit. I mean, John Fox has to have pride, and I know Steve Smith does.
Vikings 27 Panthers 20 (CAR)
New York (n) (-3) @ Washington
Not a terrible MNF game, considering the Redskins have been playing better, and will probably be in great spirits after being enshackled from that mafia boss Cerratto. However, the Giants are a team steaming from last weeks win, and since Devin Thomas does not scream "DeSean Jackson" I'll have to go with them.
Giants 28 Redksins 20 (NYG)
Enjoy the Games.
RIP Chris Henry.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
OK, so I did a long, mostly analytical review column yesterday, which means, in this eternally balanced world, a short, joking column (I won't say funny, becuase it's a bit pretentious to assume it will be).
32.) St. Louis Rams (1-12)
Kraig Null?? I guess seeing as Kurt Warner turned out good, they went back to the Hy-Vee to see who was now stocking their shelves.
31.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-12)
They got their first first down in the third quarter. Then the fans cheered, not for the first down, but becuase a new IHOP opened outside the stadium.
30.) Detroit Lions (2-11)
Do you think Daunte Culpepper gets laughed at more for losing by 45, or the fact that he actually once threw 39 TDs in one year.
29.) Kansas City Chiefs (3-10)
I guess it is decided. Scott Pioli had nothing to do with the success in New England. Also decided: Matt Cassel is the worst free-agent QB not named "McCown" of "Feeley" of "Detmer".
28.) Cleveland Browns (2-11)
Considering Mike Tomlin was in that ski-mask thing, and Eric Mangini only in a whale costume, is it amazing that I left feeling that Mangini was the more manly of the two.
27.) Washington Redskins (4-9)
I am pretty sure that when JaMarcus entered the game, all the Redskins defenders thought "Oh, wow, this is just like when we practiced against the Zorn offense."
26.) Seattle Seahawks (5-8)
I bet they dream of Super Bowl XL now. Sure they got royally screwed by the officials (honestly, Tom Donaghy applauds your work, Bill Leavey), but at least they were in position to get royally screwed. Also, Shaun Alexander wasn't wearing adult daipers at that point.
25.) Oakland Raiders (4-9)
I am seriously in depression becuase Bruce Gradkowski is not our starting QB any more. I do not know what is more sad, that or the fact that Darrius Heyward-Bey has fewer catches than Guinton Ganther.
24.) Buffalo Bills (5-8)
I'm pretty sure the Buffalo area is already on that Sabres bandwagon. Ryan Fitzpatrick?? Hmmph. It's all about Ryan Miller, BABY!!!!
23.) Chicago Bears (5-8)
Interesting stat: with Jay Cutler leading the NFL in INTs, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and John Elway have all led the league in INTs. However, so has Marc Bulger.
22.) Atlanta Falcons (6-7)
Did I start hearing a "we want Chris Redman" chant last week? Or are those only reserved for dog killing sideshows?
21.) Carolina Panthers (5-8)
DeAngelo Williams is the king of the "Great Stats, but really zero impact on the outcome of the game" legion. Queen of said region: a tie between Wes Welker and Brandon Marshall.
20.) Jacksonville Jaguars (7-6)
Seems like this Thursday's game will actually be a sell-out. It sounds enticing, but it is "Sign a Petition to Rid Jacksonville of an NFL Team" Day.
19.) San Francisco 49ers (6-7)
Frank Gore looked absolutely Chris Johnson-ian yesterday. Why don't they run it more? Why, in God's name why, are they running a "wide-open offense" with small hands Alex Smith.
18.) New York Jets (7-6)
At least Kellen Clemens knows how to slide.
17.) Houston Texans (6-7)
Andre Johnson is Wes Welker and Randy Moss combined. He's the deep-threat that Moss is (but is capable of taking some hits), and the underneath threat of Wes Welker (while not the ingratiating little witch that Welker is).16.) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7)
Honestly, Mike Tomlin, that was sad. This is not Siberia, or Fairbanks, Alaska. You are from Pittsburgh, you are used to the Cold. What message are you sending your players by having more layers than a leopoard have spots.
15.) New York Giants (7-6)
Interesting loss there. I think it is the first time ever the Giants have lost a heartbreaker of a game and niether Coughlin nor Eli took any heat. They probably don't want this season to end afterall.
14.) Miami Dolphins (7-6)
I guess the Wildcat isn't that important after all.
13.) Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
I guess December does matter after all.
12.) Tennessee Titans (6-7)
If only they did not start 0-6. I also find it good credence to the Colts greatness that the one team to beat them in the last 7 games is the Colts, who had a 21-10 lead on them at half-time. That is putting the HAMMER down.
11.) Baltimore Ravens (8-5)
They need a new influx of players from the U. However, maybe the alternatively need an influx of players from The Rutgers.
10.) New England Patriots (8-5)
I'll take the analytic homer approach here. From 2002-2005, Manning had really only two targets, Harrison and Wayne. Stokley was a nice player, and Clark wasn't Clark. He went 10-6, 12-4, 12-4. 14-2. Brady now has essentially two targets, with a lackluster defense that can own awful teams and do nothing against good teams (much like the Colts from 2002-2004), and has gone 8-5 with 23 TDS and 11 ints. I think this helps settle that Manning-Brady debate.
9.) Denver Broncos (8-5)
If only they had one other receiver that could do anything. I mean, Eddie Royal, that man of amazing ability, had one catch. How come I don't hear anyone calling Marshall a ball-hog.
8.) Green Bay Packers (9-4)
Imagine if Kampman and Al Harris were still healthy. They would have the most dread-locked cornerback duo and the whitest front seven (Kamp, Hawk, Matthews, Poppinga) in the NFL. Sure they would be better as well, but that racial dichotomy is really something.
7.) Cincinnatti Bengals (9-4)
I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong. They are not the 2003 Patriots. They are not the 2008 Steelers. Whatever. Just go beat San Diego, and all is forgiven.
6.) Arizona Cardinals (8-5)
I was not wrong, they are still dangerous as anything in those NFC playoffs. They are a team whose peak is K2 height (Colts and Saints are everest).
5.) San Diego Chargers (10-3)
Phil Rivers is 16-0 in December. Unfortunately for him, he is 3-3 in January. Also, LDT is so bad now, people actually get excited with the statline of 21 rushes 50 yards 1 td.
4.) Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)
Jim Johnson was probably turning over after that defensive performance, but Bill Walsh was giving his most rotund protoge a standing ovation.
3.) Minnesota Vikings (11-2)
Adrian Peterson hasn't really been himself, but somehow they just put up points. It is stunning, they are about to be the highest scoring team in Favre's history. However, Reggie White will sack the hell out of you, Favre, when you meet him in heaven if you continue this "This is the best team I have ever been on" garbage. That 1996 team led the NFL in points scored AND points allowed, something that's happened only twice, EVER.
2.) New Orleans Saints (13-0)
Maybe the saw a lanky white QB back there and just thought Matt Ryan was playing? Becauase other than that, that was inexcusable. Also, Sean Payton, please throw the NFL a bone and get rid of Reggie Bush at the end of the year, and send your stupid visor that you wear indoors and in cold weather strapped to Bush's ass.
1.) Indianapolis Colts (13-0)
Please, please don't rest players until that Buffalo game. Caldwell already said that they will go all out in Jacksonville, but for that last home game, try to win. Please, Jim, Please.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Pittsburgh 6 @ Cleveland 13 (I picked CLE : 1-0)
I got this right, but I am stunned Cleveland pulled this off, and shut Pittsburgh down in a way that essentially emasculated Big Ben and Mike Tomlin (who looked petrified in that ski-mask garb). Having had Rob Ryan as the Raiders defensive coordinator, I know that he can create schemes that can shut anyone down when necessary. There are weeks where the guy just emulates everything that his father was: a gruffy guy who can create Einstein-ian schemes. They did it here, pressuring Roethlisberger to no end. This whole year I was surprised with the protection that the Steelers o-line was giving Ben Roethlisberger, but on Thursday, it was back to 2007 o-line. There were free rushers everywhere. The Browns are a team full of no names on defense, but guys that are all similar, lending that defense interchangable parts that can all rush, and all cover. Also, the corners, especially Eric Wright (who is a good, good player; much like Leigh Bodden from a couple years ago) kept good coverage, bumping them. There were plays to make down the field, but there was no time for Ben to get it too them. Now, the Browns really were nothing special on offense, but they won the field-position battle consistently. Josh Cribbs is a great great player. He's the new Devin Hester, a guy who could single-handidly change games just due to his ability to switch field position, which is all the Browns needed. Great performance by that Cleveland defense and Josh Cribbs. The Steelers are done. Since 2003, every Super Bowl Champion made the playoffs the following year, while the Super Bowl Runner-up missed the playoffs. Strangely, in the two Steelers defenses of Championships, they will miss the playoffs while the runner-up makes it.
Denver 16 @ Indianapolis 28 (IND : 2-0)
Another win for me, and another win for the Colts. Weird game. I've never seen Manning, and really that offense as a whole as there were numerous drops, play that miserably for two quarters. They were dynamite in those first four drives, where they seemingly scored at will. That was the real Colts. Then came the crap Colts. They couldn't run, couldn't pass. Manning was unlucky with those first two interceptions. Credit has to be given to the Denver defense, who showed why they were the top-rated pass defense. As for Denver's offense, sure people will point out that the huge game by Marshall spells doom for the Colts, but that would be so if any of their other WRs did anything. Marshall had 21 catches and Eddie Royal had 1. That is essentially the same as both having 11 catches. If that were the case, we have a problem, as the Colts couldn't stop either. They draped Royal (and Gaffney and the ex-Colts hero Stokley) all day, even with a patchwork secondary. The Colts put their 4th corner on Marshall, and gave him help over the top, which led to 21 catches but less than 10 per catch. That is the more important stat. None of those catches were for huge gains. That was perfect Tampa-2 defense. They bent and bent, but never broke. Interception at the 2 yard line as well as two straight 4th down stops by the Colts defense, and you understand why this team is 2nd in points allowed. I am more and more impressed by that Colts run defense. They tackle well, but the biggest difference is that they can now get pressure with their DTs. Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir have been great the last couple weeks. Also, the signature of the Colts. Clinging to a 21-16 lead, they took over the ball on their 20 with 9:30 left. After doing nothing, they went on a 12 play 80 yard clinic that made the Broncos use all their timeouts. When they needed to, they put that hammer down and just sucked the life out of those Broncos. That is a Championship performance.
New York (a) 26 @ Tampa Bay 3 (NYJ : 3-0)
Great start. The Jets can just constrict these bad teams with that defense. Not sure if that defense can do the same to the Colts/Chargers of the AFC, but with the schedule the Jets have left, they can do great things with that defense in the regular season. They can make noise in the rest of the season. Josh Freeman has really regressed the last two weeks. Sure, the Jets defense is good, but he looked lost. The Jets, on the other hand, looked like a team that relies on that defense too much. Tampa cannot stop anyone on the ground, and although the aggregate number may look nice, it was not an overpowering ground attack like they have in earlier games. Also, Kellen Clemens actually makes me want to see the Sanchize again. The Jets brass should get both slapped for drafting Clemens and having the sense to realize that he is not the answer. As for the Bucs, I think that Glazer family has to realize that the Josh's and more importantly Raheem Morris is not the answer as well.
Buffalo 16 @ Kansas City 10 (BUF : 4-0)
I am on fire. The Bills and Chiefs, not so much. The Bills pounded the rock, but with the Patriots game coming up, I wish they threw it a little more, get that Fitzpatrick to Owens/Evans combo in sync. Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch both ran well. As for the Chiefs, they lost at home when they outgained their 4-8 competition by 81, having their running back (the good prospect Jamaal Charles, a guy who made Larry Johnson an absolutely useless homophobic) average 7.1 ypc. Matt Cassel wasn't even horrible. Again, they lost. They played listless, and acted as if they were all inebriated in the red zone. Not exactly a good performance in front of the Chiefs faithful. It's amazing that the Chiefs fanbase probably unanimously dreams of the Schottenheimer era. At least that man gave the fans the opportunity to lose in the playoffs every year.
Green Bay 21 @ Chicago 14 (CHI : 4-1)
My first loss. I was feeling mighty smart when it was 14-13 in the middle of the third, with the Packers looking like the listless team I thought they were. Then, Jay Cutler happened. Although he was missing his only legitimate weapon in Devin Hester, he was definitely good, for him, through most of the game. When you consider that the Packers defense was on one of the better rolls in the NFL, that performance was more impressive. Of course, the inevitable atrocious pick did indeed uncloak itself, leading to the final touchdown, but they kept it close. It was nice to see a Ryan Grant sighting, but most of those yards were gained in the two big runs. Aaron Rodgers had his second straight sub-par game, but kept the ball out of harms way, taking sacks instead of forcing balls (something Cutler should look into). That Green Bay defense is scary, except I think they are the perfect outdoor, cold-weather defense. They are not built for an indoor track, as much of their success is predicated over slower corner who speacialize in that bump-and-run coverage. This bodes well if they play the Eagles in round one, but if it is any of those other three teams, it will not end well. The Bears should at least take something positive out of this performance. Cutler looked better, fitting balls into tight coverage. Both Johnnie Knox, and even Devin Aromashadu played well. However, what happened to Matt Forte. It's not like the Bears o-line is appreciably worse this year. That has to be one of the more shocking developments of the year.
New Orleans 26 @ Atlanta 23 (NO : 4-2)
Another loss, and I can't feel too bad. I feel like that the Saints could have easily killed them. Brees had a great day, but was limited to short gains much of the time. Reggie Bush played well catching balls out of the backfield. There are rumors that the Saints will look to cut ties with Reggie, and I think that an Eagles or Seahawks type of West Coast team would love him. Credit Atlanta, and moreso Chris Redman, for showing up and keeping up with Brees pass for pass and yard for yard. Here is my impression of the Saints: defensively, they are schizophrenic. Bad days on offense will happen every now and then, so that will be corrected. I expect them to unload that attack on Dallas like they did against New England. As for their defense, when they want to play, and when they feel the need to prove themselves, attack with those Gregg Williams blitz schemes, they can be great. Now, injuries in that secondary to Jabari Greer, Roman Harper etc, have grealty limited their blitzing capabilities, as Williams likes to play straight man behind the blitz, which they cannot do as well with the likes of Pierson Prieleou roaming back there. Also, Atlanta has an underratedly good offensive-line, filled with young talent (that Tyler Clabo and Harvey Dahl are dirt-dog stars), so they blocked the attemtped straight front-four pass rush. Atlanta played well, and they have a shot to finish the year nicely, if Ryan comes back, but they are building that team well and performances like that will help to appeal to their fans.
Detroit 3 @ Baltimore 48 (BAL : 5-2)
Is there any point of this. The Ravens did whatever they wanted against an already junk roster that had injury problems. Ray Rice is a beast, and will probably make all those Rutger-ians proud (except for Parth, who thinks that all ball-sports are played with perfect spheres with yellow-green fuzz). Joe Flacco had a nice bounce-back game with a good performances, but again playing the Lions is really the magic elixir, football version. Can't really take too much out of these games, as these beatdowns are mostly flukes, not indicitave of what is to come.
Miami 14 Jacksonville 10 (MIA : 6-2)
This was probably the most boring close game between two teams in the heart of the wild-card hunt. This game seemed like two teams that were good, but inevitably irrelevant (tell that to New England, though). David Garrard was not good. Maurice Jones-Drew is that whole offense. Stack the box, and Garrard and his stable of random wideouts (Sims-Walker, who is nothing against premier teams, Troy Williamson, the earlier day Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Torry Holt, great player and probably hall-of-famer but its hard to run routes with that cane), and you can shut down that offense. As for the Dolphins, Chad Henne is continuing to grow in front of our very eyes. He is the best young QB in that division, and will likely, assuming Miami can finally draft some competent wideouts, reach that Rivers status in a couple years. It is admirable as to what they are doing without the luxury of the Wildcat and having Ronnie Brown out. Also, Ricky Williams was largely innefective, so that makes the win all the more impressive. Thankfully, the Jaguars are now out of that "If the playoffs started today, they would be in" columns and projections. They are a good-tough football team, but the Jags should not sniff the playoffs, and if they do, that 3 seed is probably going to have the easiest first round game in recent memory.
Carolina 10 @ New England 20 (CAR : 7-2)
I cannot lose. I just can't. This game is a classic 2003 New England win. One problem, they aren't that team. They played against Matt Moore for christ sake. That is one of the least impressive double digit wins. Matt Moore did nothing to show me that he is in anyway that teams future. DeAngelo played well, which is rare. The Patriots are rarely gutted by run-first teams, and give up chunks to pass-first teams. As for the Pats, they still were not able to get any pressure on the quarterback, and there were holes in that defensive back-end. They get another scrimmage type game to sort out those problems this week in Buffalo, but nothing showed me they were back. OK, I've avoided it for too long: let's get to Randy-is-not-going-all-out-gate. How is this news. He's never gone all-out. That's not Randy's thing. Now, he has been worse than usual the past couple weeks, disappearing after that long TD against the Dolphins and doing nothing yesterday. My take is that at his age and experience, he just won't run those slant/cross routes over the middle. He's done with those. He'll either run outs or go deep. Also, if Brady is inaccurate, it's done. He won't become the defender in an interception scenario. Brady is still a bit off, and mainly becuase there is no third option. He has to feed it too Welker. Welker is great, but alot of receivers can put up those numbers in his role. That is why even though Welker can get his catches, they will only score in the 20's. Take away the London game, and the all-time Halley's comet like fluke against Tennessee, these are the point-totals for the Pats: 25-9-26-27-27-34-31-17-21-20. That puts them in line with Houston. That is the real story. People overrated that offense to no end.
Seattle 7 @ Houston 34 (HOU : 8-2)
Nearly got this exactly right. Houston is doing that patented "lets start winning once we are out of it to gain fan interest for next year where we will ultimately fall again" thing again, and at least it is good for my fantasy team. Andre Johnson cannot be contained. I am sure that he can do that every week if Schaub just feeds him the ball. Their running game looks invigorated with Slaton out of there. As for Seattle, why have we not heard any rumblings about Mora's job security. He has done nothing with a team that was universally considered a 9-11 win talented team. Sure there have been injuries, but there is no way they should be this bad. Before the Hawk fans good even get their Coffees, they were down 24-0. If the Texans wanted too, they could have put up like 45. That was an impressive performance by the Texans, who I guess conceivably have a wild-card shot if they win out, and an absolutely reprehensible preformance by the Hawks and that coach.
Cincinnatti 10 @ Minnesota 30 (CIN : 8-3)
Here is where the week starts going awry. I have to admit, I was wrong. Although to me the game seemed closer than that score indicated, and Minnesota was not as good as a 30 point team, that was impressive. They absolutely shut down Carson Palmer and the passing offense. Cedric Benson got his yards, but was a boom-bust type, with a couple long runs and little else inbetween. The Vikings pass defense looked alot better with Antoine Winfield back. Although Jare Allen did not show much, the rest of the o-line was great around him. The Bengals o-line is not overly talented, but the Williams wall and Robinson owned them in every way. It was not a fair matchup. The Vikings are alot better at home, especially that defense which just feeds off those fans. I still think that they will have a struggle if Arizona (or Philly) come to them in round two, but if those front-four can get that type of pressure, than they should be fine to go past it. Cincinnatti has to find a way to air it out a little more. Lavreneaus Coles has done nothing. Nothing. I thought he would at least be 80% of the player T.J. Houshmanzadeh was, but he's been about 8% instead. That offense is not explosive, and if their defense plays like it did, they probably don't get by round two. Of course, it was a bad game against a great opponent, so before we write them off, let's at least see what happens next Sunday in Qualcomm.
St. Louis 7 @ Tennessee (TEN : 9-3)
Let's not even waste time with this garbage. I mean, Kraig Null started, and that is all I need to know. That was pitiful. Chris Johnson is amazing against the bad teams, and just great against good teams. That's really all anyone can take from this game.
Washington 34 @ Oakland 13 (OAK : 9-4)
I feel cheated here too. It was 10-10 when the Redskins got 40 yards on a 3rd and 10 pass interference. That call was the worst call I have ever seen. Santana Moss just tripped on his own, and they gave him the call. That, coupled with Gradkowski's injury in the next drive, and it was over. The Raiders are so pitiful with JaMarcus, and it's not all Russell's fault. I felt bad for him this time. Now, alot of it has to do with Russell's vapid demeanor, but the whole offense seems more commited when Gradkowski is back there. They play harder, try harder, block better, catch better, run crisper routes et al. They do not give Russell any help. That, coupled with sack after sack after sack made a game that was 17-13 in the 3rd into a pitiful blowout. So far, the Raiders have followed 3 good wins against good teams with 3 just blank performances. Now, Gradkowski is done for the year, and we are stuck with three more weeks of Russell. And, to top it all off, Jake Locker is going back one more year, so we are probably stuck with Sam Bradford, or god forbid, Jimmy Clausen. Dark days in the Black Hole.
San Diego 20 @ Dallas 17 (SD : 10-4)
I think that this is the first time I got a score absolutely right. I think it says more about Dallas. Something is just off with that team. They just can't get it done, at all. They put together back-to-back 90 yard drives, which ended in a combined 7 points. Phil Rivers threw an absolutely Russell-ian interception, and then Nick Folk missed a short field-goal. San Diego played a B performance, and easily won. I'm not convinced the Chargers are really all that good. They have given up 100 yards rushing in 12 of 13 games. Missing Jamaal Williams really hurts. Vincent Jackson finally had a good game, but LT is still invisible. Darren Sproles seems to be a thing of the past now. Rivers, like I already said, threw an absolutely awful pick. I think that when they meet a smash-mouth team they are not ready to fight it head-on, like they will have to when they host the Bengals this year. This was a game with two teams, one in a free-fall and one as hot as any team not named "New Orleans" or "Indianapolis".
Eagles 45 Giants 38 (NYG : 10-5)
What a game. DeSean Jackson is a beast. Eli Manning had a Peyton performance. There was no tackling, no covering, no defense of any kind. For two teams that I thought would be right up there in the top-5 to top-10 defenses, this was a stunner. Now, two of the Eagles TDs were non-offensive, a flukey bounce fumble-return and a punt-return that was Hester-ian. The Giants couldn't stop anything. After they finally clawed back to the lead, it took all of 1 play to lose that advantage. What happened to that offensive depth. I am starting to believe that Bill Sheridan, Steve Spagnuolo's replacement, is a dog the size of Randy Moss. That was an awful performance. Really, the Eagles defense was just as bad. They could not stop Manning, and they could not tackle as two 12 yard completions, ended in 60 yard catch and runs to Hick and Hixon. Manning was great, playing with a confidence and poise that we have only seen early last year and in those playoff games in '07. He was amazing, and aside from that fumble, was perfect. There is nothing that he could have done any differently, and the special teams and more importantly and more embarrisingly, that defense was atrocious. As for Philadelphia, they are now in sole control of that division, and with Dallas in free-fall and New York two games back and having already been swept by Philadelphia, anything short of an Eagles collapse and that division is theirs.
Enjoy the MNF game.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
1.) Miami or Carolina makes a serious Wild-Card chase. Well, right, I guess. In my mind, I thought it would be the Panthers, since they have an easier schedule. I was wrong there, but I was right on. In any way, they are both tough outs, and Carolina is still spoiler material.
2.) Pittsburgh goes on a huge run that makes them everyones' "Team you don't want to play". I was imagining the run start in the second half. I still think it starts now, and I still think they garner the "You don't want to play this team" vote, but so far, I've gotten it wrong.
3.) Cowboys fold late and Giants take their spot. This one can't be accurately evaluated yet, but considering that the Giants just beat Dallas, and Dallas' remaining schedule is hell, I think I'm on the right track here.
4.) Both Indianapolis and New Orleans lose. Now, this could still be true, but I said that New Orleans would lose this week, and Indianapolis to Houston in Week 12. Both are (will be) wrong, so I won't take credit for something that could still potentially be right.
5.) Regardless of that weeks Bengals @ Steelers game, the Bengals would make the playoffs. Right on. They even won that game to boot. They are playoff bound.
6.) Regardless of the Pats @ Colts game, the Colts would have home-field. Can safely say I got that right. It seems like ages ago 4th and 2 happened, and home-field was an issue.
7.) Passing Numbers decrease and go to usual standards. Passing Yardage hasn't decreased yet, but touchdowns have. I still say that with players sitting and weather, it kind of lessens, but we are still looking at a record number of QBs at the 4,000 yard mark.
8.) 4 teams go 3-13 or worse. There are currently six teams with three of fewer wins, with four under three. Can't see three of those teams ending up with four wins. We are looking at a historically large amount of awful teams.
9.) Minnesota @ Arizona decides the 2 seed. I still feel good. Arizona has a much easier schedule here on out. They should run the table. Couple that with two Vikings losses, and I am Nostradamus.
10.) Colts and Saints both make Super Bowl. I still hope to God it happens. It will be one fun game, and will make up for Rex Grossman and those Bears ruining that matchup from happening in 2006.
Now on to the Picks!!!
I'm going all-out now. It is time. Now that fantasy playoffs are upon, I'm entering picking playoffs (which is strange, since I'll certainy be picking the playoffs). Anyway, I am going to look under every crevice for information to help me. Scour injury reports, and gloss over forecasts. Seriously. I have challenged myself: 66.6% of the picks right for the last 4 weeks. It's on, Me!!
Pittsburgh (-9.5) @ Cleveland
It says alot about a team when they are hosting a team that is on a four-game losing streak and is giving 10 points. But that is just where the Mangini's are at. The forecast is for high teens and light snow at times (I wasn't kidding. Forecasts. Yeah, it's happening). This really nuetralizes the advantage that Cleveland was due, as the team hosting the Thursday Night Game is undefeated (note: this does not include games that are inexplicably played under Canadian Domes). Also, it limits the already limited offense that is helmed by Brady "I wish the fat goon Weis still coached me, and I actually was good enough to bang the Notre Dame co-eds. Now I'm stuck with the Dawg Pound as sources of poon" Quinn. The problem in Pittsburgh has not been the offense, and even with Ward likely out, they should be able to run on, and throw on, that Browns defense at will. On the other hand, look for the Pittsburgh to retain some of its swagger against that practice-squad of a unit passing as the Browns offense. However, I can't get around this being Cleveland's only chace to do something on a national stage (with that horrendous MNF appearance that every Cleveland fan got permanently deleted from memory). They keep it close, but their inability to move the ball finally kills them.
Steelers 20 Cleveland 14 (CLE)
Denver @ Indianapolis (-7)
Surprising to not see a media groundswell behind the Broncos this week, like there was a week ago for the Titans. I guess the media might finally understand that the Colts are too good to lose these games at home against less than stellar competition. Now, this matchup is easy. Firstly, the Colts own the Broncos. When the Broncos were a good team, much resembling their current one, from 2003-2006, they played each other three times in meaningful games (twice they played late season when the Colts were resting). The scores: IND 41 DEN 10; IND 49 DEN 24; IND 34 DEN 31. The close one was in Mile High. That was at a time where the Broncos had given up six touchdowns in six games. The Colts drilled them on offense. However, the real reason why I see the Colts rolling is that this is the last truly meaningful game they will play until the playoffs. A Colts win here and they clinch home field. A win hear and the get the all-time regular season win streak that the Pats currently own, and knowing the Colts as I do, they will want that record (a want enhanced by the Pats currently holding it). Now, I do not expect the Colts to sit anyone against the Jaguars, but the same motivation won't be there. This is their last chance to impress before the Divisional round. Also, at 8-4, the Broncos don't truly need this game. Just beating Oakland and KC, both in Denver, is good enough for a Wild Card. It's really not that hard.
Broncos 13 Colts 34 (IND)
New York (a) (-3) @ Tampa Bay
If these were the 2008 Mangini/Favre Jets they lose this game, just like they did when they controlled their own destiny in the AFC East last year and laid eggs in Frisco and Seattle. However, these are the Rex Jets, and they will drum Josh Freeman, whose confidence was at the least bombed by successive batallions of fighter planes last Sunday with his 5-pick game (A Sanchize, as it were). Also, even with the forever oblivious Morris at the helm, they cannot dare fall ahead in the "Race for Ndamokong Suh". He's the next Warren Sapp, and he will look good in Pewter.
Jets 27 Buccaneers 17
Buffalo @ Kansas City (PK)
This is a diffucult game to decide. There is no weather forecasted (not like it would have effected the Bills anyway, due to their being from the second coldest, loneliest place on earth. The first being wherever the Hell Purdue is, Indiana; Ashwath, good thinking not going to Miami, where it is sunny and people drink like fish, and can eat things like fish, well done). Kansas City is not as bad as they showed the last two weeks (because other than Cleveland, and Florida in that SEC Title Game, no one is). However, there are rumblings that Haley is losing that team, and the Cassel/Croyle crapitition is effecting the locker room. Contrast that with the weird case of Terrell Owens not effecting that locker room. It's strange. Fitzpatrick is using that Harvard education well, by realizing he has two deep threats to his disposal and actually throwing to them. A theory lost on Trent Edwards due to physical limitations and JP Losman due to mental limitations. Anyway, Fewell Fury, '09! (Note to Buffalo, please don't make that your slogan for the last four games). It's sad that I am confident picking against the Chiefs in Arrowhead against a 4-8 team led by my 31st ranked head coach, however such is life.
Bills 24 Chiefs 20 (BUF)
Green Bay (-3) @ Chicago
Green Bay seems to be too bandwagony right now. They have rolled off four straight since that loss to the creamsicles. Their defense is playing inspired. A hot Green Bay against a Chicago team who managed to look like dung against the Rams - how is this line not higher. Makes me think that Vegas knows something. I won't bother checking the forecast, since it is irrelevant, since Green Bay is colder than Chicago. It seems to obvious to foresee Jay Cutler have a Sanchize game, and Rodgers cut up that injured defense. This line should be a touchdown. That's why I'm leaning towards Chicago. It puts a dent into the playoff picture, it brings up the Rodgers is not Favre creation (which should be put to rest, since their numbers are identical with Favre having a better team around him), and finally gives Cutler-mania some legs to actually begin. I will feel like a fool come Sunday afternoon when Cutler throws his nth pick-six, and Green Bay is romping 27-6 at half-time, but it just seems way too obvious.
Packers 17 Bears 24 (CHI)
New Orleans (-10) @ Atlanta
This seems obvious also, because it is. Even if Matt Ryan were playing, I would pick the Saints. The Saints are on a mission. They want 16-0, and they beat there Miami 1985 game (the game where you are undefeated and everything goes wrong, also known as the Baltimore-New England 2007 game). They are in the clear. They want blood, and the easiest way to gear up for probably their only tough game left next week against Dallas is to drum this Falcons team. Even if Turner plays, it won't be at full rest, and unless Chris Redman started an HGH cycle midweek (always a possibility in sports in 2009), it shouldn't be close. Again, the Saints want this too much to throw it away here.
Saints 38 Falcons 20 (NO)
Detroit @ Baltimore (-13.5)
Interesting line favoring a team that looked like crap by that much. Hard to fathom that the Lions are that bad, especially with a Stafford-to-Megatron sighting last week. Those are about as common as Tiger doing his wife anymore, but they are fun (I'm guessing Tiger doing his wife isn't actually fun for either party anymore, but I had to give a timely analogy). Baltimore can be beaten deep, and Ed Reed is still questionable. However, with the whole world being 6-6 in the AFC, and the biggest tease since those godaddy.com commercials in Jacksonville the only thing between them and a playoff spot, they know that a good month of football, and they are in. It's in their hands. They need a statement win, because it hasn't been pretty, what with the escape against Dennis Dixon and the drubbing they took in Lambeau. They need to lay a team to the woodshed, and Baltimore has shown the ability to do that (against Cleveland and KC early). It happens.
Lions 14 Ravens 30 (BAL)
Miami @ Jacksonville (-3)
It's our paper tigers again. They are not good in any conceivable way, apart from Maurice Jones-Drew. They have been outscored by 48 points, which is ridiculous for a team that is 7-5. That is the scoring differential of a 5-7 team, which is what they truly are. Miami, on the other hand, is a ballsy team, that doesn't beat itself. Teams that beat themselves are all that Jacksonville can handle right now. Well, teams that beat themselves and the St. Louis/Kansas City combo. Miami does not do that, unless they are playing New Orleans. Miami impressed me to no end last week, winning a game without any help from the holy wildcat. That was impressive, and I finally feel vindicated for regarding Chad Henne so highly on my QB Rankings that I did back in like Week 7. They also are among that 6-6 muck, but they also have the advantage of possibly winning that division (something these self-same Dolphins can greatly aid in two weeks up in Foxboro). They need this game, and outside of true trap games, that is usually what wins out late.
Dolphins 27 Jaguars 23 (MIA)
Carolina @ New England (-13.5)
This is just getting insane. Really, a team that has dropped two in a row is favored by 13.5 against a team that is not among that bottom tier. This is insane. To me the Patriots are essentially a slightly worse form of the 2002-2004 Colts. Great QB, great WR's, nothing else. Also, this is great support for the Manning side of the Brady/Manning argument. Brady is finally on a team resembling what Manning had in 2003-2004. Little defense when it mattered, and a good offense. I'll say Manning was a little more impressive in those years. Now, we are hearing that Brady has cracked ribs to go along with the finger (which explains his mysterious foray into the locker-room after the first touchdown to Moss). The team is in disarray, what with players being sent home midweek and Moss acting like Minnesota Moss. Plus, that defense really is awful. Of course, the media will still call Belichick the best drafter in the league when he has failed to replenish that team with his recent drafts. Forecast calls for clear skies, but winds up to 15. That's not a huge number, but when the QB is ailing physically, that is enough to weaken him by about 10%. Couple that with the Williams/Stewart combo, and I think that the Panthers cover. Not win, but cover. If the Panthers win, honestly, Belichick should be fired on the spot.
Panthers 16 Patriots 24 (CAR)
Seattle @ Houston (-6.5)
It's now time for Houston to start their yearly December run. It really is. They still have an outside shot at the playoffs if they win out (not really, but anything could happen), as the sixth spot will likely be a 9-7 team. Seattle really hasn't played well outside of Qwest, and the Texans have played better at Reliant. Schaub and Johnson should torch this secondary, and now that they have the Jaguars-sized tease that is Steve "Let me personally kill millions of fantasy teams this year, just for shits and giggles" Slaton on IR, I think they will improve. Not much to say here, except for this is a meaningless game, which is a surprise to August me, as I thought both teams were playoff bound.
Seahawks 17 Texans 34 (HOU)
Cincinnatti @ Minnesota (-6.5)
Cincinnatti were large underdogs in both Baltimore games, both Pittsburgh games and the Packers game in Week 2 in Lambeau (their forgotten big game). They won each and every single one of those games. They only lost on two flukes (the Stokley week 1 miracle, two fourth-quarter fumbles to the Raiders) and to Houston on Houston's best day all year (it happens). They are a solid team, with the best defense in the NFL this year (I am sure of that fact). They have two cover corners who can shut down Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin or Berrian. They have fast LBs and an underrated nameless D-Line (Fanene Power!!!!) that hasn't allowed a 100-yd rusher since Week 4. Also, I still have an outside shot at my "Cardinals steal the 2 seed" prediction coming through. Brett Favre showed us all something last week, that if you pressure him, which is made easier by the injury-riddled o-line of the Vikes, that he reverts to the old Favre. Cincinnatti's no-name d-line is great at generating pressure up the middle. Perfect situation for the Bengals to get another scalp, and the Favre-machine to take another hit.
Bengals 20 Vikings 14 (CIN)
St. Louis @ Tennessee (-13.5)
This column is starting to run at a Simmons-ian length. So, since there is no reason to spend any time on this game at all, let's do this one quickly. Tennessee is smarting after the Colts game. They are better in every conceivable way. They win, big. Vince Young and Johnson continue to get hyped to the Moon for beating bad teams.
Rams 14 Titans 34 (TEN)
Washington (-1) @ Oakland
How is a Washington team that just lost their "Super Bowl" (Fred Smoot's words, not mine), travelling cross country, to take on a team that is 2-1 with Gradkowski, a favorite. I am a Raider fan, and this year they have only won when we least expect it (like that Bengals game), and I expect it, which scares me. It really does. They should win this game easily. They should take Jim Zorn's sorry ass program and shoot them behind that joke of a stadium the Raiders play in. Commitment to getting better. That's all the Raider Nation is asking for, and that's all they are doing. Now, just get us Jake Locker.
Redskins 14 Raiders 24 (OAK)
San Diego @ Dallas (-3.5)
San Diego has won 15 straight December games. Dallas hasn't had a winning December since Bill Clinton actually had not had sex with that woman. So why do I think San Diego loses. Dallas is really good in that satirization of a stadium. Since their opening loss, they are undefeated there, and are playing great football (apart from the Redskins game, which was the Redskins other Championship game). Also, the Cowboys aren't going to go winless in December. That's not how they operate. They have to sucker the fans in first. Also, the Chargers are do to Rivers it up. They have built this winning streak on a bunch of lies, essentially and I think it all goes down in Dallas, where the crowd will be into it, and Romo shows why he is a top-10 QB (just to un-show it the next three games). This one is my only real gut pick, because everybody sane should pick the better Chargers team.
Chargers 20 Cowboys 24 (DAL)
Philadelphia @ New York (n) (-1)
Depending on what happens early, this is for the division lead. If the Cowboys lose, and the Giants win, all three are tied in an 8-5 quagmire. Manage a tri-NFC East teams we'll call it (please don't call it that). Philadelphia should have DeSean Jackson back, and even in victory the Giants weren't too impressive last week. However, this season is resembling 2006, in that the Saints and the Colts are your Super Bowl favorite, and the craziness in the NFC East. That year, the Giants started out 6-2. The Cowboys switched to Romo, and went on a 6-2 run. They had a game against the 2-13 Lions for the division and lost, and then the Eagles, who were 6-5 when Garcia took over for an injured McNabb, won the division. How does the division become crazy, a Giants win. These two teams at 8-5. Dallas at 9-4 (if my pick goes right, and even more fun 8-5 if it doesn't), with a schedule with an assured loss in six days in the Superdome. It is probably irrelevant, as in my opinion teams 1-4 in the NFC Ultimate Rankings (aka, most likely to go to Super Bowl XLIV) reside outside the NFC East (NO, ARZ, MIN, GB), but it will be alot of fun.
Eagles 17 Giants 20 (ot) (NYG)
Arizona (-3.5) @ San Francisco
Arizona is on a roll (taking away the near win with a Leinart-led team). They are 5-1 on the road, with the only blemish being the forementioned Leinart-game. (There was some 99-yd drive I'm told, but I'm hazy on the details since the wails of happiness that protruded from Dan White's mouth drowned out the memory of said game.) Arizona is just better. San Francisco has lost whatever mental capability they had to play good football. That was a terrible loss for a team that could still potentially have had division aspirations last week. That tells me that this team has checked out, a thing that coincided nicely with the checkin in of Crabtree. Funny how, without any fanfare, the Crabtree's could fall to the same record as the DHB's (Raiders) with a loss. It won't be as high-flying as the Niners can still play adequate defense to stop a hammering, but Arizona can play adequate defense to make Alex Smith cry into his tiny hands.
Cardinals 24 49ers 13 (ARZ)
Enjoy the Games.