Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Week Thirteen Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 27, 2008

As usual buyer beware…..

Last Week: 9-7 (.562)  Season: 108-66-1 (.617)

– Titans over Lions: So apparently I have an inability to pick Titans games correctly.  When I pick them to win, they get beat.  When I pick them to lose, they win and make look foolish.  No doubt Jeff Fisher has a voodoo doll of me now because I stopped picking against them last week, and they ended up getting bombed by the Jets.  Tennessee is still in great shape, as they are still running away with the AFC South, and they still have a two game lead over the Jets and Steelers for the top seed and home field advantage in the AFC playoffs.  The Titans should have some concern though about their offensive line, which had been so dominant early in the year, and got absolutely blown up by the Jets last week.  Tennessee had been winning most of their games with running and defense, which is fine, but last week they found out that you do have to occasionally score points to beat the good teams.  Surely it would behoove them to give LenDale White more than the one carry he got against the Jets too.  The good news for Tennessee is that the have the perfect get well card this week in the form of the 0-11 Lions.  Detroit has actually sold out Ford Field for tomorrow (gasp!) after three straight non-sellouts and subsequent TV blackouts, but something tells me the fans won’t exactly be behind the home team.  Detroit is the only team I know of that could squander the 17-0 lead they let get away against the Bucs.  The Lions do traditionally get up for their annual Thanksgiving day home game, but even extra emotion will not help.  Even if the Titans fail to bring their A game on a short week, they should get several gifts from the hapless Lions to help them to victory.  Tennessee wants to erase the losing feeling, and they will have no trouble whatsoever here, unless of course my picking Tennessee to win is a jinx, in which case I’m sure I will be hearing from Jeff Fisher. 

– Cowboys over Seahawks: The Dallas offense finally looked like its old self again last week, and it’s no coincidence that it’s because Terrell Owens was heavily involved in the game plan.  You can say what you will about Owens, for even though he whines when he doesn’t get the ball and often makes it seem like he’s in it for himself, you can’t deny that the Cowboys offense is much more effective when Owens is featured.  His 75-yard touchdown catch really swung the momentum after the Cowboys sputtered early against the 49ers, and he finished with a season high 213 yards.   Dallas also seems to be playing with more energy after Tony Romo’s return.  The concern for the Cowboys is the running game hasn’t been quite as effective the last few weeks, and their defense gave up some big plays against the 49ers.  The Cowboys definitely have a favorable matchup here though, as Seattle is still struggling offensively even with Matt Hasselbeck back in the lineup.  If Hasselbeck turns it over multiple times the way he has in his first two starts back, it will be long day for Seattle.  The Cowboys know they have a brutal December schedule and they have to get this one to stay in the playoff race.  Dallas wins by a lot in their annual Thanksgiving day game.

– Eagles over Cardinals: The Thanksgiving night game is a good one this year, which is too bad because only 40 percent of U.S. households have access to the NFL network.  Even fewer people will see this game because many of them will be asleep on the couch thanks to all the tryptophan.  Arizona has a real raw deal here, because they have a short week and a trip to the east coast.  Even though the Cardinals flew out this morning and the game isn’t until Thursday evening, they still face the prospect of a very difficult away game, with a short week to prepare, and a trip across three time zones.  If this matchup were to take place on a Sunday a neutral field, I would pick the Cardinals without hesitation because they are actually the better team right now.  My brain says I should stay away from the Eagles in light of their awful performance in Baltimore and last week’s benching of Donovan McNabb, but my gut tells me the Eagles will bounce back with the home crowd and the big advantage of playing at home off a short week.  I believe McNabb got a rude awakening with his benching last week, and I think he will come back with a good effort.  I also see Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson employing a variety of blitzes that the Cardinals will not be able to plan for on a short week.  Arizona’s pass happy offense has had great success at home, but I sense they may struggle in this game on the road in the cold, especially if the weather turns ugly.  If the weather is bad, Arizona’s inability to run the ball could doom them.  Besides, this game is not really important to the Cardinals with their huge division lead, while the Eagles must win to stay alive.  Philadelphia wins.

– Bills over 49ers: I really felt Buffalo was left for dead before last week, and now I’m not really sure what to make of the Bills after their 54 point effort in Kansas City.  Is the Bills offense back?  Was that more a result of a porous Chiefs’ defense?  The answer like many of these things is probably somewhere in between the two.  Trent Edwards gave one of his better efforts in quite some time, including his rushing touchdown, and the Bills will need him to perform down the stretch to stay in the race.  Buffalo has several advantages in this game, not the least of which being they’re hosting a west coast team in an early kickoff.  We all know what that means in any case, but Buffalo has a huge edge in this case being that the weather is likely to be bad and they are hosting a team from a warm weather city to boot.  Meteorology aside, the 49ers run game looked awful last week in Dallas, and that doesn’t bode well for a trip to Buffalo.  The passing game has not been any more consistent with Shaun Hill under center than it was with J.T. O’Sullivan, and the defense has given up way too many big plays.  The Niners are very much a work in progress and are improving overall, but that will not help them here.  Buffalo wins.

– Dolphins over Rams: How bad are the Rams right now, seriously?  It’s rapidly getting to the point where i might consider picking the Florida Gators against the Rams.  St. Louis might get Steven Jackson back in the lineup this week, but their problems go much deeper than that.  There is a quarterback carousel right now between Marc Bulger and Trent Green, Torry Holt has essentially been phased out of the offense except for when he gets throws his way when the game is out of reach, and the defense has more holes in it than swiss cheese.  Miami knows they let one get away last week against New England, and they lost their composure in that game too toward the end.  Miami needs to get its running game going again down the stretch to be successful, for Ronnie Brown’s numbers have dipped dramatically over the last month.  This will be a good matchup for the Dolphins to get that back on track, and their passing game should have success too with Ted Ginn Jr.’s speed on the carpet in the dome.  Miami should win this one comfortably to stay in the race in AFC as they try to complete their turnaround from last year’s 1-15 disaster. 

– Patriots over Steelers: This will be another great game between two teams that historically have enjoyed a lot of success.  The Patriots offense might officially be scary again if last week’s Randy Moss sighting becomes the norm as opposed to the exception.  Matt Cassel continues to play well, and the defense continues to not break in key situations.  Pittsburgh didn’t play its best game against the Bengals last week, and they will need to be able to run the ball much better to have a chance in this one.  Willie Parker does not look like himself, and I wouldn’t be confident turning my running game over to Mewelde Moore in a key game like this.  One thing to watch in this game is that both quarterbacks, Cassel and Ben Roethlisberger, are among the league leaders in sacks, which is not at all a good thing.  That could make this a lower scoring game than expected, although I would also expect Hines Ward to have more balls thrown his way than last week, when he had just one catch.  Ward normally steps up in big games and that could help the Steelers, but a hunch says that the Pittsburgh defense won’t quite be able to contain Moss and Wes Welker if they are both playing well.  It seems strange to say this, but Cassel has been playing better than Roethlisberger in recent weeks, and that will end up being the difference in a narrow Patriots win. 

– Jets over Broncos: I’ll be honest, it really doesn’t look good for the Broncos.  Denver somehow still has a two game lead in the AFC West, but it’s looking like it could be possible we might see a 7-9 division champion here, and if it’s the Broncos that won’t be a good thing for their playoff prospects.  Denver is coming off a very embarrassing blowout loss at home to the Raiders, which is not a good omen as they hit the road to face the hottest team in the AFC.  The Jets are coming off wins at New England and Tennessee, and they played complete football in every phase against the Titans.  They’re running well with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington (who is quickly becoming one of the league’s best game changers), Brett Favre is playing some of the best football of his career, and the Jets are dominating the line of scrimmage offensively and defensively.  This is matchup that looks like it could well be a Jets blowout on paper, especially since the Broncos are making the trip east.  The Broncos ironically have played better on the road than at home as of late, but even if the Broncos offense comes out and plays its A game, I don’t see the defense being able to slow down Favre, even if Champ Bailey does play.  If the Jets avoid a letdown after their two big road wins, they should get this one without too much difficulty.

– Ravens over Bengals: This will be a complete mismatch in every way.  Baltimore bounced back nicely with a blowout of the Eagles, and they did it with offense and defense.  The Ravens could be a scary group, and one I wouldn’t want to play in the playoffs, if they keep up their offensive prowess in addition to their always tough defense.  Joe Flacco has played very well for a rookie, and their long term key will be getting the running game going in big games.  Defensively, the Ravens continue to be aggressive and force turnovers, and that will be bad news for Cincinnati in this game.  The Bengals offense moved the ball early against Pittsburgh last week, but they stalled quickly after the first drive.  It will be interesting to see how the Chad Johnson/Ocho Cinco/whatever his name is distraction continues to affect the Bengals’ offense.  Regardless, Ryan Fitzpatrick has not been the answer at QB and Cedric Benson has not gotten it done in the running game.  Oh, and Cincinnati’s defense also does not have a good matchup here.  Baltimore rolls, even on the road. 

– Colts over Browns: This should be another blowout.  The Colts are one of the hottest teams in the league, having pulled out another last minute victory in San Diego last week.  Inidianapolis has a really friendly schedule down the stretch, which clearly puts them in the driver’s seat for the top wild card spot in the AFC.  That is bad news for Baltimore, New England, Miami and perhaps Buffalo, who will all be fighting for the last spot in the playoff bracket more than likely.  The Colts have a very favorable matchup here, facing a Browns team that is in disarray again after a bad home loss to the Texans, and the news that Brady Quinn is done for the year with a broken finger he never should have tried to play with in the first place.  Derek Anderson does have a chance to take advantage of his opportunity to play out the string to get himself a job somewhere next season, but the Browns have no direction right now and they are facing a hot Colts team looking to solidify playoff position.  Even playing in the shadow of the Dawg Pound, Peyton Manning has no trouble here and the Colts roll. 

– Raiders over Chiefs: Dud of the game of the week, although it is a bitter rivalry.  Oakland blew the Chiefs out in week two at Arrowhead, and that was before the fans stopped showing up in Kansas City.  The Raiders really gave a surprising performance last week in Denver, and they actually come home with momentum.  The Chiefs defense was a complete embarrassment last week against Buffalo, and that should mean good news for JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden this week.  The Raiders defense has also played very well the past three games.  At some point, the Chiefs players will stop with playing with any confidence or energy, and we might have even hit that point already.  If the Chiefs fail to win another game and finish 1-15 on the heels of 4-12 last year, which would mean KC would have just one win in a 26 game stretch, it would be impossible for Kansas City to justify keeping Herm Edwards or General Manager Carl Peterson.  The Chiefs showed effort for several weeks in the middle of the season, but it hasn’t been there the past two games and that is a bad sign.  Oakland by contrast seems to be playing with more and more energy each week, despite the soap opera nature of their season.  The Raiders win their second in a row (gasp!). 

– Falcons over Chargers: I really fail to see how the Chargers are five point favorites in this game, even with them playing at home.  Atlanta is coming off a huge win over Carolina, and they have proven they can play both at home and on the road.  The Chargers had their entire season on the line last week in a night home game, and yet they failed to come up with the win, even knowing the division leading Broncos got waxed by Oakland.  LaDainian Tomlinson has just not been his usual self this season, and Philip Rivers has played solid but not spectacular.  It is clear that the Chargers’ defense really misses Shawne Merriman, and that will hurt them a lot in this game.  It is an interesting subplot that Michael Turner returns to face his former team.  Turner has proven his worth as a starter for the Falcons, especially in his four touchdown performance last week.  The Falcons are very much in the race in the NFC also in part thanks to Matt Ryan and the passing game, as well as their defense which has made plays when needed this season.  The Chargers should come out with an inspired effort at home, but we’ve been expecting that without results for weeks.  The Falcons prove they are for real by stealing one on the road here. 

– Giants over Redskins: This will be a critical game in the NFC East, but it will be more so for the Redskins.  The Giants are very close to having the division wrapped up, although they are still wanting to separate themselves for the top seed in the NFC.  Washington is clinging by a thread to the last playoff spot, but they have several teams breathing down their necks.  The Giants are by far the best team in the league, having proved it once again last week by winning at Arizona without Brandon Jacobs and Plaxico Burress.  The Redskins are banged up too though, as Clinton Portis will once again play despite not being 100 percent.  He ran hard for 143 yards last week at Seattle, and the Redskins will need a similar performance on Sunday to even have a chance.  It seems like an eternity ago, but the Giants dominated the Redskins completely in week one, and something tells me the Giants could once again own the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in this one as well.  Washington is coming off a win, but it wasn’t exactly an impressive one in Seattle.  The Giants are a better team and they are coming in with more momentum.  A hunch says the Redskins are fading, and even if they play their best game it may not be enough here.  The Giants steal a close road win to prove why they are the best team in the league. 

– Panthers over Packers: This is a tough game to figure because both teams are coming off puzzling efforts in road losses.  Carolina’s offense woke up too late to make it close in Atlanta, and though Jake Delhomme played better, the normally dominant Carolina running game wasn’t very effective.  The Packers defense got destroyed in New Orleans on Monday night, and Aaron Rodgers threw two costly picks in the third quarter when the game was still competitive.  Both teams fell out of the lead in their respective division with last week’s loss, so you’ll see two desperate teams battling it out at Lambeau Field on Sunday.  I give Carolina an edge here because their ability to run the ball has been well documented and the Packers defense has really struggled against the run in most games.  If Carolina really does fancy itself as a Super Bowl contender, then this is they kind of game they need to able to win, on the road against an up and down team.  Aaron Rodgers should be able to make some plays in the passing game, but the Packers don’t have enough offense to keep up.  Carolina win a close one.

– Saints over Buccanneers: I’ve been back and forth on this game ten times in the last hour.  New Orleans finally looked like the way they were supposed to look offensively Monday night against the Packers, and they will be coming into this game with a lot of confidence.  I am more convinced than ever that Drew Brees is hands down the best quarterback in the league, and he should absolutely be the MVP.  Now that Brees has his receivers healthy, and with the return of Reggie Bush really appearing imminent this week, the Saints offense should be even more dangerous down the stretch.  The problem the Saints are facing is a brutal schedule, and the logjam of teams they’re competing with for a playoff spot.  The Saints beat Tampa Bay 24-20 in the first meeting week one in the Superdome, so the Bucs should be feeling confident they can reverse the result at home.  Tampa Bay’s defense is capable of at least slowing down the Saints’ attack, but they won’t be able to stop it completely.  The key for the Bucs is that they will need to be able to score enough points to keep up with the Saints, and if Brees and company are clicking that simply won’t happen.  A hunch says New Orleans will win on the road. 

– Vikings over Bears: The Sunday night game will be a good battle for the NFC North lead.  When these teams squared off at Soldier Field in week seven, it ended being a high scoring shootout despite the presence of two good defenses.  Both teams are coming off a win last week, which makes this game equally important for both teams, since the winner will have a one game lead in the division.  Minnesota’s defense really set the tone last week in Jacksonville with two turnovers in the first 90 seconds of the game, and their propensity for being able to force turnovers really gives them a chance to win a lot of games.  Chicago is coming off a blowout of the Rams, so they too have some momentum coming in.  Both teams can run the ball, so the difference will be which defense can better slow the other offense down.  Chicago can force turnovers, but they also tend to get burned for a lot of big plays.  The Vikings always bring pressure and that could spell trouble for Kyle Orton, especially if the Bears fall behind early.  The Metrodome will certainly be loud for this division rivalry, and the Vikings should be able to pull this one out at home. 

– Texans over Jaguars: It’s unfortuante that the Monday night game is such a dud with so many great games on Sunday that many people won’t be able to see.  I realize flexible scheduling would be difficult to extend to the Monday night game, but I think it’s something the league should at least look at for the last 3-4 weeks of the season.  At any rate, the Jaguars have to be a contender for the biggest disappointment in NFL history, and Jack Del Rio’s job has to be in real jeopardy.  The Jaguars running game has never been able to get going all season, and their defense has not been as good as advertised.  Looking at Jacksonville’s tough remaining schedule, it is very possible they don’t win another game if they fail to win in Houston.  The Texans have also failed to meet expectations of improvement this season, although the injury to Matt Schaub does have something to do with that.  The Texans actually came up with a somewhat surprising road win in Cleveland last week, and their defense really did an excellent job, albiet against the musical chairs quarterback situation in Cleveland.  This will be the first Monday night game the Texans have hosted at Reliant Stadium, which means they will be fired up.  If Jacksonville really is just playing out the string, Houston’s offense should explode for points in this one.

Bonus College pick: Oklahoma over Oklahoma State.  This will be one of the best college games of the season, but even in Stillwater, the Sooners are too complete of a team to falter now.  This will create a big time logjam in the Big 12 South.  Will it be Texas or Oklahoma advancing to the Big 12 Championship game?  I also think Alabama and Florida will both win this week (against Auburn and Florida State respectively), setting up a showdown in the SEC Championship.  Things may end up working out for the BCS Championship game, but I believe this year screams for a playoff more than ever.  Stay tuned next week for my proposal for a 16-team playoff and why it would make sense, but also why it is not likely to happen soon.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and I’ll post again after the Broncos-Jets game.

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One Response to “Week Thirteen Picks”

  1. Doug Baker said

    I hope you are right on the Patiots over Steelers pick. As a Patriots fan i am a glass half full guy.

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