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Posts Tagged ‘NFL picks’

Wild Card Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on January 7, 2011

Regular Season record: 150-105

I’m going to venture a guess that I wasn’t the only one who got swamped in the last two weeks of December, hence why you have to go hunting for my picks from the last two regular season weeks.  We ended up with a 58 percent success rate on picking games this season, which was well short of the 67 percent from the 2009 season.  The plus side for me is that I lasted until week 16 in the eliminator pool this year, finally getting done in by San Diego’s pitiful performance in Cincinnati.  With the playoffs starts a new slate and the goal is to go through a playoff year 11-0 once in my lifetime.  I have never done it, and will probably never be able to successfully do it, but it’s a goal nonetheless.  Here we go with the picks for the four wild card games:

– Saints over Seahawks: If this were a regular season game, I wouldn’t waste my breath writing about it.  This is a complete mismatch, so much so that the host Seahawks are 10 and a half point underdogs.  Seattle is in the playoffs with a losing record thanks to winning the worst division in NFL history.  I mean really, is anyone in Seattle proud to be wearing a Seahawks NFC West champions shirt after a 7-9 season?  The Saints destroyed the Seattle at the Superdome in week 11, with 34-19 final score not an indicator of how much a blowout it was due to a late Seattle touchdown in the closing seconds.  Even though the Saints are without running backs Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, they won’t need them.  Drew Brees should have a field day as he always does, and the Seahawks offense will likely struggle to move the football against the Saints, just like they have struggled offensively in pretty much every game this season.  This game is example A for why the playoff format is for the birds.  We really don’t want to see the 7-9 Seahawks when a pair of 10-6 NFC teams (the Giants and Buccaneers) are stuck at home.  The Saints will win this by at least two touchdowns

– Colts over Jets: Indianapolis wasn’t themselves this season, and that was clear thanks to their numerous injuries and a down year for Peyton Manning, but the Colts still managed to win four in a row to end the regular season, and if the league doesn’t look out they might just be primed for a playoff run.  I make this pick based partially on the fact that I do think the Colts could be about to get hot, but I also think that the Jets are the luckiest and most overrated team in the league this season.  The Jets got exposed in December with bad losses to the Patriots, Dolphins and Bears, and during the season they needed fluke late circumstances to beat the Broncos, Lions, Browns and Texans.  That’s a lot of wins that I think were strictly luck for the Jets.  They do have a lot of savvy veterans, but so do the Colts.  Indy is also going to be highly motivated since they’re a perceived underdog on their home field.  Besides, I’ll take Peyton Manning over Mark Sanchez every time. 

– Ravens over Chiefs: Baltimore was my preseason pick to win the Super Bowl, and I am going to stick with them.  The Ravens finished 12-4 during the regular season and appear to have all the pieces in place to potentially make a run.  Baltimore has won three road playoff games in the past three seasons under John Harbaugh, so they know what it takes to win in January.  For that reason, Arrowhead Stadium won’t be a problem for them, particularly since Arrowhead isn’t what it used to be thanks to the new club seating and the Chiefs misfortunes of the past decade.  The Chiefs have had a nice bounce back season thanks to a strong running game, but it will be interesting to see if Jamaal Charles can make any headway against one of the best run defenses in the league.  I like the Ravens’ ability to have offensive balance in this game, but I also like their ability to toughen up defensively and slow down the Chiefs.  I think this could be close early, but in the end I think the Ravens win without too much difficulty. 

– Packers over Eagles: This should be the most entertaining game of the weekend.  Green Bay was my preseason Super Bowl pick out of the NFC, and I think they do have the tools to make a playoff run.  The Eagles are everyone’s sexy playoff pick because of Michael Vick, but he has really struggled in his last two appearances against the Giants and Vikings.  I know the Eagles came back and won in New York, but they were down 31-10 in the fourth quarter.  Against the Vikings, Vick had no answer for any of Minnesota’s blitzes, and I think the Packers will employ many of the same tactics, which they used successfully against Jay Cutler in week 17.  I also think Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing game could be poised for a big afternoon against the Eagles’ secondary.  This will be close, but a hunch says the Packers will win, and I think that will mean three of the four visiting teams will win this weekend.

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Week 15 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on December 17, 2010

By now you surely have realized I never got around to recapping the latest Broncos disaster in Arizona.  Frankly that was largely because I am so disgusted with the Broncos right now that I have decided to wait until after the season to even attempt to analyze them further.  That performance in the desert was so embarrassing that there frankly aren’t any words that can adequately describe it.  This is a new low for the Broncos, and it’s without question the worst they’ve been in my lifetime.  It doesn’t appear to be getting better anytime soon.

Let’s just move on to the picks.  The quickie style is going so well that we’ll keep it going (25-8 over the last two weeks).  The week started with the Chargers slaughtering San Francisco tonight, and that frankly wasn’t a surprise.  The only reason I didn’t go with the Chargers in the eliminator pool (still alive and kicking!) is because I want to use them for another sure slam dunk next week against the Bungles.

Last Week: 13-3   Season: 121-87

– Bills over Dolphins: Upset alert.  The Dolphins should just ask the NFL to let them play every game on the road, since they’re a lot more successful away from Sun Life Stadium.  The Bills won last week and I still think they’ve got an upset in them before the year is out.  A hunch says this it.   Bills fans are still upset because it might cost them a shot at Andrew Luck in the draft.

– Steelers over Jets: I’ve said all the year the Jets are the league’s most overrated team.  They have proven it with two dreadful performances in a row.  They are not a Super Bowl contender.  Pittsburgh is.  I think this may not be that close at Heinz Field.

– Browns over Bengals: Terrell Owens has now started blaming the coaches and says he can’t throw to himself.  It would also help if he didn’t stand there watching last week when Troy Polamalu stepped in front of him for a pick six.  Even though the game is in Cincy, I can’t call this an upset.

– Saints over Ravens: This is a great game and I think most of the country should be pissed that it’s not getting it.  I’ll be curious to see the Ravens defense against Drew Brees.  Given the way Matt Schaub sliced them up on Monday night, I’ll take Brees.  I still think Baltimore is capable of making a Super Bowl run, but their D needs to do much better against the pass.

– Texans over Titans: Houston showed a lot of heart on Monday night.  I think they can carry it over against a team they’ve already destroyed once this year.  The Titans have zero confidence and I can’t see them winning the rest of the year.

– Jaguars over Colts: Upset alert, but is it really? The game is in Indy, but it’s not like the Colts have been themselves this year even at home.  The good news for them is Peyton Manning finally showed up last week.  He’ll need to be on again because Maurice Jones-Drew figures to be in line for a huge day.  I think the Jags have proven over the past month that they deserve to win the AFC South.

– Raiders over Broncos: I’m so embarrassed by the Broncos that I am going with the Raiders as my eliminator selection this week.  I am not confident about the run defense against Darren McFadden.  I am less confident in the offense because Kyle Orton is banged up and that means we might see Tim Tebow.  I am now among those who thinks Tebow should get some snaps, but the Black Hole will be ugly for him.  Oakland won 59-14 in the first meeting.  This one could be a blowout as well.

– Rams over Chiefs: I make this pick regardless of whether Matt Cassel plays or not.  I do think Jamaal Charles could have a big day on the fast turf, but the Rams have played exceptionally well at home this year.  Besides, the NFC West champion HAS to finish better than 7-9, don’t they?  Please?

– Cowboys over Redskins: It seems like a long ago when Washington won the first meeting.  That was back in week one.  A lot has changed since then.  The Redskins are dreadful, and the Cowboys are surging.  Can we smell blowout in Big D?

– Eagles over Giants: This should be a great game as well.  Philly won the first meeting despite three dropped passes in the end zone by their receivers.  Michael Vick has shown that playing on the road doesn’t affect him, and I think the Eagles defense can have success against the Giants’ running game.  This could be closest game of the week, and might decide the NFC East.  I think the Eagles take this one on the road.

– Buccaneers over Lions: Tampa Bay is 8-0 against sub .500 teams and 0-5 against teams over .500.  They will have the opportunity to feast on the Lions Sunday and they also have another game against Carolina.  Their playoff chances are still very much alive if they take care of business.

– Falcons over Seahawks: Atlanta can wrap up the NFC South with a win and a Saints loss.  Seattle has proven to be mediocre at home this year, so the Falcons should roll on paper.  The only reason this game might be close is because it’s Atlanta’s third road game in a row.

– Panthers over Cardinals: This is a really horrible matchup and honestly I don’t know who will win.  I just think the Broncos are the only team that can possibly make John Skelton look serviceable.

– Patriots over Packers: The Sunday night game was supposed to be one of the best of the year, but with Aaron Rodgers’ concussion, this will be a major mismatch.  Johnny Flynn looked like he didn’t belong anywhere near the NFL last week.  Now he goes against Tom Brady.  I think we’ve all seen this move before.  Green Bay’s playoff chances could be in big trouble.

– Bears over Vikings: I am anxious to see an outdoor game in Minnesota.  The Metrodome isn’t usable, so the game will be at the University of Minnesota.  I think the cold temps could make the game very compelling.  That might be about all that’s compelling, because the Bears are much better right now and I see them winning easily.  That is assuming Jay Cutler doesn’t screw it up.

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Week 14 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on December 10, 2010

Last Week: 13-3   Season: 108-84

Last night the Colts got week 14 started with a resurgence from Peyton Manning (naturally it didn’t come soon enough to save my fantasy team).  If the Colts can win out, and their schedule is friendly enough that they have a chance, they might end up in the playoffs after all.  I think they still have lots of work to do and next week at Jacksonville is certainly no gimmie, but they’re not out of it yet.  As for Tennessee, they played with effort for the first time in weeks, but that was still not enough.  I’ll ask the strange question: is Jeff Fisher in trouble?  After all, he’s been coaching the team since they were the Houston Oilers.  In any case, Randy Moss is so useless these days he can’t even get on the field.  I think his career might well be over.

As for the rest of the games, doing the picks faster and just going with my gut seems to be working.  With that theme in mind, here we go.

– Bills over Browns: Cleveland has been a major surprise, but unless they win three of their final four, or perhaps all four, Eric Mangini might still be out.  The Bills stunk last week but have actually played well otherwise.  They’ll win a squeaker at home in terrible weather.

– Jets over Dolphins: Miami couldn’t get it done in this matchup at home, so why would they have a chance to do it on the road?  While I think the Jets embarrassed themselves last week, they’ll rebound on their own field against the inconsistent Dolphins.

– Patriots over Bears: If New England repeats what they did last week they aren’t losing to anyone.  The Bears were fortunate to squeak past a pesky Lions club last week.  This will be close, but I think Tom Brady outplays Jay Cutler and that will be the difference.

– Steelers over Bengals: As I’m still alive in the eliminator pool and haven’t used Pittsburgh yet, I’m taking this as a sure fire slam dunk.  The Steelers made a huge statement last week in Baltimore, while the Bungles lived up to their nickname late last week against the Saints.

– Jaguars over Raiders: Jacksonville needs a win to keep their lead in the AFC South (how strange is that?), and I think they’ll get it against a Raiders team that will be much less motivated against a non-division opponent.

– Broncos over Cardinals: Call it the interim coach theory.  The Vikings and Cowboys are 5-1 under interim bosses, and I think the Broncos will play very hard for Eric Studesville on Sunday.  Besides, Arizona is down to their third quarterback, a guy I’ve never heard of named John Skelton.  Dud game of the week for sure.

– Chargers over Chiefs: Even if Matt Cassel plays, I’m not sure how effective he’ll be off his appendectomy.  The Chargers are sure to be desperate now after the egg they laid last week.  San Diego has no margin for error and needs the game a lot more.

– Vikings over Giants: Upset alert.  I think the Giants have not shown the necessary consistency in recent weeks.  I think they’ll play well in this game, but it’s obvious that Minnesota players are glad Brad Childress is gone.  Since this is at Metrodome, I’m going with the upset.

– Buccaneers over Redskins: The Bucs have had hard luck losses against great teams the past two weeks, but they have shown they can compete.  Washington is getting to be beyond dreadful.  Good thing Mike Shanahan will have more than one year to right that ship.

– Lions over Packers: Upset alert #2.  Look, Green Bay has a very good team, they were my preseason Super Bowl pick out of the NFC.  I think they’ll still playoff quality, but I also think the Lions have played very hard every game and they’re bound to see results sooner or later.  Call it a gut feeling.

– Falcons over Panthers: Atlanta rolls by so much this isn’t worth talking about.  I’m saving Atlanta in the eliminator pool for the Georgia Dome rematch in two weeks.

– Saints over Rams: If this was in St. Louis this could be interesting, but as such I think New Orleans will roll very easily at home.  This sets up a terrific NFC South race down the stretch.  This also once again means the NFC West leader will be under .500 because….

– 49ers over Seahawks: I just don’t think Seattle is very good.  San Francisco is talent that is not reflected by their poor record, but I think at home San Francisco finds a way to win this one and perhaps save Mike Singletary’s job.

– Eagles over Cowboys: This should be an entertaining Sunday night game since the Cowboys are much improved, but I think Michael Vick is playing so well that I’m not sure if I would pick the Eagles to lose to any team these days.  Philly wins a thriller on the road.

– Ravens over Texans: Baltimore needs to rebound from last week’s tough loss to the Steelers.  They will against the league’s biggest underachievers.

 

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Week 13 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on December 3, 2010

Last Week: 11-5 Season: 95-81

The last couple of weeks have been much better for yours truly in the picking department.  Two weeks ago, I sat four games under .500 for the season.  Now, two weeks of success have turned that around (If you missed my selections last week I did them on Twitter, with the Thanksgiving holiday and the fact that I spent it in Nebraska with the Buffs there was just no time).

A quick note on last night’s game: Michael Vick certainly deserves to be in contention for MVP.  The way he is playing, I’m not sure any NFC team wants to see the Eagles in the playoffs.  As for Houston, they continue to stumble and let winnable games get away.  I can’t see any way that Gary Kubiak isn’t in trouble at the end of the season.  At any rate, on to this week’s selections, as we go for several upset specials:

– Bills over Vikings: Upset pick #1.  Look, I know the Vikings won last week, but it wasn’t as if they jumped off the stat sheet against the Redskins.  I do think they are playing harder for Leslie Frazier than they did for Brad Childress, but this team still doesn’t feel right from Brett Favre all the way to the defensive side of the ball.  I pick the upset because the Bills are rapidly improving and no one seems to be noticing.  They would have beaten the Steelers last week if not for a dropped ball in the end zone.  The Metrodome is always loud, but if Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play well and the Bills defense can slow down Adrian Peterson, I think they have more than a puncher’s chance.  I’m going with the upset.

– Browns over Dolphins: Upset pick #2.  Miami played very well last week in Oakland, but they certainly have not been consistent, especially on their home field.  They have just struggled to put back to back solid performances together.  The Browns continue to be among the surprise teams in the league, and I think Peyton Hillis could be in line for another huge day.  Frankly I don’t think this is much of a stretch, I only call it an upset because a vast majority of folks are picking Miami.

– Saints over Bengals: The complete mismatch of the week. a classic case of Super Bowl contender vs league doormat/soap opera.  If I hadn’t already used New Orleans in my eliminator pool, I would do so here without hesitation.  The sad part is the Bengals’ diva receivers probably don’t even regret the disastrous T-Ocho Show.

– Cowboys over Colts: Upset pick #3.  The Colts are simply not the Colts right now.  Injuries have played their part for sure, especially Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai.  Peyton Manning is trying his best to keep it together, but even he is not having a Manning-esque season.  The Cowboys meanwhile look like a new team under Jason Garrett.  Frankly this doesn’t look right because I have a hard time picturing the Colts under .500 and not in the playoffs, but that is rapidly where they are heading.  This is more of a hunch than anything, but I think Dallas wins on the road.

– Jaguars over Titans: Tennessee destroyed the Jags in the first meeting, but a lot has changed since then.  For starters, David Garrard is healthy and Maurice Jones-Drew has looked much more like his old self in recent weeks.  For the Titans, you know things are bad when their best hope is that Kerry Collins MIGHT be healthy enough to start on Sunday.  Chris Johnson was so ineffective last week he was held to five yards, and the Jaguars have a much better rush defense than Houston.  I think Jacksonville wins, and it may not be particularly close.

– Chiefs over Broncos: I gave my in depth assessment of the Broncos earlier in the week.  Frankly, this game is going to get ugly for them.  Arrowhead Stadium has never been kind to Denver (the Broncos are just 2-16 there in December all-time), plus the Chiefs are going to be highly motivated to avenge the 49-29 defeat a few weeks ago.  Kansas City is the best rushing team in the league, and while the Broncos contained Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones in the first meeting, they won’t be able to do it twice.  Kansas City rolls, and perhaps Todd Haley will actually shake Josh McDaniels’ hand this time.

– Chargers over Raiders: San Diego lost the first meeting because of very poor special teams play.  This time, Philip Rivers will have such a good game it won’t come down to special teams.  The Chargers are hitting the gas pedal hard for their annual December run (Philip Rivers has never lost in the month if you can believe that), and they have both momentum and revenge on their side here.  The Raiders went back to looking lost and confused last week against Miami, and this is simply put a bad matchup for them.  The Chargers win this easily.

– Giants over Redskins: Another mismatch on tap.  The G-men had a nice bounce back victory last week and look to get back in the race for the best record in the NFC.  Washington continues to really be a mixed bag, and this just doesn’t bode well for them heading on the road, especially since Mike Shanahan can’t seem to find a healthy running back right now.  I think the Giants win easily behind their strong running game and defense.

– Bears over Lions: This is my eliminator selection for this week (the first time I’ve taken one of these things into December).  When I found out the Lions are starting third string quarterback Drew Stanton, that’s all I need to know.  Shaun Hill was actually doing a capable job leading the offense, but Stanton doesn’t stand a chance against a Julius Peppers-led pass rush that was able to disrupt Michael Vick last week.  The other key for the Bears is Mike Martz has finally discovered his running game.  I think Matt Forte will be more than effective, and the Bears defense will completely shut down Stanton.

– Packers over 49ers: The 49ers are still in playoff contention only because they have the fortune to be part of the worst division in NFL history.  I am genuinely fearful we’ll see a 7-9 champion come out of that division.  The fact that San Francisco is just one game out at 4-7 is downright disturbing.  Despite their playoff chances, I don’t think they have much of a shot at Lambeau Field.   The Packers suffered a tough road loss in Atlanta last week, but they are still very much in play for a division title themselves in a legitimate race.  Green Bay should get this one without too much difficulty.

– Falcons over Buccaneers: It’s hard to believe that is a legitimate big game in the NFC South.  Atlanta won the first meeting at home. but it was much closer than expected.  Tampa Bay is clearly the league’s biggest surprise, but I’m sure they are wishing they were part of the NFC West this year.  New Orleans and Atlanta are both sure playoff teams, so the Buccaneers still have a large hill to climb.  I think this should be a great game, and while I do give Tampa Bay a chance, I think the Falcons are the best team in the NFC right now.  I am starting to think they might be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.

– Seahawks over Panthers: This game could be the dud of the week.  Carolina did nearly pull the upset last week in Cleveland, and that is one reason I shied away from Seattle for my eliminator pick this week.  The other reason is the Seahawks have been flat awful in recent weeks, especially last week at home against the Chiefs.  The only reason I’m not going with an upset here is because Seattle is tied for the division lead despite their sub.500 record.  Therefore, they have something tangible to play for when Carolina does not.  A Carolina win wouldn’t shock me, but if Seattle has any pride at all they’ll win this one at home.

– Rams over Cardinals: Arizona hit a new low last week when they got clobbered at home on Monday night against San Francisco.  Derek Anderson’s postgame tirade made things worse.  If Arizona continues to be that inept offensively, they may not win another game all season.  St. Louis continues to show improvement, for Sam Bradford had his first 300-yard game in Denver last week.  St. Louis might be the least bad so to speak of the awful NFC West teams.  I think they will win this one rather comfortably.

– Ravens over Steelers: For once the night games are the two best games of the week.  Baltimore won the first meeting between these two teams in Pittsburgh, but that was without Ben Roethlisberger.  Speaking of the Steelers quarterback, he’s trying to debunk rumors of a broken foot this week.  I still stand behind the Ravens as my preseason Super Bowl pick because of their defense and balanced offensive attack.  One thing you can bank on with this matchup is it will be decided by a field goal or less.  I still go with the Ravens on their home field, especially after Pittsburgh’s near miss in Buffalo last week.

– Patriots over Jets: The winner of this game will very likely win the AFC East.  Regardless, it looks like both teams are headed to the playoffs.  The Jets won the first meeting, but the Patriots have been retooled since then, subtracting Randy Moss and adding Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead.  I like New England here for two reasons.  One, they are at home, where they rarely if ever lose especially in a big game.  Second, I still think the Jets can owe a large part of their record to luck.  At some point that is going to run out on them.

 

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Week 11 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 20, 2010

Last Week: 4-9 (Yikes!)  Season: 70-74

Last week was terrible for yours truly.  The good news is that one of my four correct picks was my eliminator selection, which means I am still alive there.  Unfortunately, we’re 0-1 to begin things this week.  I’m not really sure what I was thinking picking Miami, because their offense looked lost and confused on Thursday night.  The Bears defense might actually be that good, but I still think they’re winning in spite of Jay Cutler, not because of him.  Now onto very rapid fire picks because the week totally snuck up on me.

– Bills over Bengals: Minor upset alert.  Look, both teams are terrible.  Call this a hunch more than anything.  Marvin Lewis will need a hug by the time this season is over.

– Patriots over Colts: To me this doesn’t have the luster of previous meetings.  I’m actually not so sure this is going to be close, especially since it’s outside in cold weather on grass.

– Jets over Texans: I still say the Jets are the league’s luckiest team, but this week they host the biggest underachievers in football.  I have officially given up on the Texans, for their record always falls well below their talent level.

– Ravens over Panthers: It’s really too bad I’ve already used Baltimore in the eliminator.  Brian St. Pierre under center against one of the league’s best defenses?  Oh boy.

– Jaguars over Browns: Strangely enough this might be one of the best games of the week.  I really like the way David Garrard is playing right now.  If he keeps it up Sunday the Jags can win this battle of surprises.

– Steelers over Raiders: This is not the gimmie it appeared to be a month ago for the Steel Curtain, but at home I think they will find a way to bounce back from last week’s embarrassment.

– Titans over Redskins: Because I would pick the Redskins to lose to any team after what I saw on Monday night.  That would include most of the top 10 teams in college.  I also think Chris Johnson could be in line for a huge day here.

– Chiefs over Cardinals: Kansas City is unbeaten at Arrowhead, and that’s more than enough against one of the league’s doormats.  I think the Chiefs are actually much better than what they showed last week.

– Cowboys over Lions: This is my eliminator selection this week and I’m frankly a little nervous about it, but Detroit never wins on the road and Dallas looked like a legitimate NFL team again last week under new coach Jason Garrett.

– Packers over Vikings: Brett Favre really has to be regretting his decision to come back.  I sense the Packers are about to make a major run and I still think they have an excellent chance to be the number one seed in the NFC playoffs.

– Falcons over Rams: Atlanta is quietly emerging as a Super Bowl contender.  If they truly are in that category, they shouldn’t slip up here, although St. Louis could potentially make this interesting.

– Saints over Seahawks: New Orleans has been very inconsistent this season, but this is part of a very friendly part of the schedule.  The only question here should be Saints’ margin of victory.

– 49ers over Buccaneers: Mini upset alert.  Tampa Bay has been playing well, but I think the 49ers might be starting to get into their groove, and don’t look now but they might still win the putrid NFC West despite a 1-5 start.

– Eagles over Giants: If Michael Vick keeps playing like he did last week, there aren’t many teams that will be able to slow down the Eagles much less beat them.  The Giants have the offense to keep up, but I like Philly on their home field.

– Chargers over Broncos: I picked against Denver last week and they won, so I’m hoping the trend continues.  However, to be honest, this is a tough matchup for the Broncos trying to slow down Philip Rivers.  I will be curious to see if last week’s emergence of the Broncos’ running game was a fluke.

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Week 10 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 12, 2010

Last week: 7-6 Season: 67-64

I’m off to an 0-1 start this week.  I’m picking the Thursday night games on my Twitter account.  Last night the Falcons made a major statement by beating the Ravens 26-21 in the Georgia Dome.  While I am tempted to rip into the Ravens for their inexplicable use of prevent defense, I instead will give a tip of the cap to Matt Ryan for leading the winning drive for Atlanta in the final minute.  Atlanta proved that they belong in the Super Bowl discussion.  I still think the Ravens do too.  Now, on to the picks.  By the way I am still alive in the eliminator pool thanks to picking the Saints last week (and managing to avoid picking the Patriots as they fell flat on their faces in Cleveland).

– Bills over Lions: Because if the Bills don’t win this game they might very well be looking at 0-16.  They have played hard in recent weeks, and this looks to be a game they might finally be able to win, mainly because Matthew Stafford is once again out for the Lions, already his third injury in his first two seasons.  Detroit has shown they can now compete at home, but I’m still waiting for them to show something away from Ford Field.

– Titans over Dolphins: How will Randy Moss fare in his Titans debut?  Perhaps he’s the only one who truly knows, but the presence of a deep threat in the Titans’ offense can only help Chris Johnson.  Tennessee’s defense has been one of the league’s best against the run this season, and that’s not good news for a Miami team that has seen both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams struggle at times this season.  The Dolphins have still yet to win a home game this season despite outstanding play on the road.

– Browns over Jets: I would say upset alert here, but to be honest I’m not so sure this can really be considered that big of an upset.  I’ll say it again: I’m still not buying the Jets hype.  They were extremely lucky to win last week in Detroit, and likely would have lost had Matthew Stafford not gotten hurt in the fourth quarter.  I think Mark Sanchez is highly overrated and could do a much better job utilizing his weapons on offense.  I also think the Browns may the league’s hottest team, having bumped off the Saints and Patriots the last two games.  Last week I nearly called their win over New England but was too gun shy to pull the trigger.  Not this time.  Peyton Hillis is running well and Colt McCoy doesn’t look like a rookie.  I like the Browns to win this at home.

– Colts over Bengals: This won’t even be a game.  Peyton Manning surely won’t allow the Colts to lose twice in a row, and especially won’t allow them to fall at home in a game where they are a clear favorite.  Despite the injuries around him, he continues to be able to move the offense down the field.  As for Cincy, Carson Palmer no longer looks like an elite quarterback, and the Bengals are so much of a soap opera that I don’t see them beating anyone right now, especially if Chad Ochocinco continues to not catch passes.

– Jaguars over Texans: Please do a favor, next season if I pick the Texans to do anything, please send me a nasty note telling me what an idiot I am.  I really thought that this would finally be the year Houston broke out and became a playoff team, especially when they won their first two games.  The more I watch them however, the more I realize their defense still isn’t very good, and despite all the weapons offensively they continue to woefully underachieve.  Meanwhile David Garrard has played out of his mind this year, and I sense a big breakout game for Maurice Jones-Drew this week.

– Chiefs over Broncos: As much as I want to give my Broncos the benefit of the doubt coming off the bye, I just can’t do it.  I really don’t like the look of this matchup, especially in the wake of leading tackler D.J. Williams getting a DUI last night.  The Chiefs run the ball better than any other team, and pretty soon they will run even better once they realize that Jamaal Charles is twice as effective as Thomas Jones.  The Broncos have been atrocious against the run in each of their past four losses, so from a matchup standpoint this just doesn’t bode well for Denver.  Besides, I have picked the Broncos to win each of their past three games and they have lost them all.  I hope that reversing my pick will also reverse Denver’s fortunes on the field.

– Giants over Cowboys: This should be a popular eliminator pick for anyone, except I have already used the G-men this year.  The Giants are playing as well as anyone in the NFC, thanks to a combination of effective running and passing to go with a defense that is more than doing the job.  The time is long past to take the Giants very seriously as a Super Bowl contender?  Dallas may well play harder for new coach Jason Garrett than they did for Wade Phillips, but it still doesn’t change the fact that Jon Kitna is under center.  That alone makes it impossible to back the Cowboys in a road game right now against anyone.

– Vikings over Bears: Minnesota is a bizarre situation considering that multiple players have anonymously stated that they want Brad Childress fired.  Brett Favre is undoubtedly regretting his decision to come back this season, and the defense still isn’t playing anywhere close to last year’s level.  Despite all that, they managed to get it together and pull off a come from behind win last week against Arizona.  I think regardless of what the players think of Childress, they will still be professionals and show up on Sundays.  For that reason, I pick them to win this game because I think they are much more talented than the Bears at virtually every position.  If the Vikings defense can’t sack and intercept Jay Cutler, than things may indeed be hopeless the rest of the season.

– Buccaneers over Panthers: This is my eliminator selection of the week.  Tampa Bay is rapidly starting to show they may not be a fluke after all.  They came very close to stunning the Falcons in Atlanta last week, and we just saw that same Falcons club prevail against Baltimore last night.  They are quietly running the ball with reasonable effectiveness and are also displaying good defense and special teams play.  My main reason this is the eliminator is because I think Carolina might well be the worst team in football, especially if DeAngelo Williams continues to be out of the lineup due to injury.  Jimmy Clausen is back under center, and the poor rookie still doesn’t seem to get it.  I really feel sorry for Steve Smith, who has to be frustrated that no one on the roster is remotely capable of getting him the ball.

– Cardinals over Seahawks: This is an extremely boring matchup.  Both teams will have poor quarterback play, a lackluster running game, and a subpar defense on display.  I pick to Arizona to win on a gut selection, but I really don’t know as both teams are bad.  Let’s just move on.

– Rams over 49ers: I know the 49ers got the monkey of their back and a got a win before the bye, but something still doesn’t seem right with Mike Singletary’s crew.  I’ll be curious to see if Troy Smith can keep up the surprising play he showed in London, and I’ll also be interested to see how the defense plays against a Rams offense that has been surprisingly effective as the season has progressed.  Sam Bradford has to be considered one of the best rookie prospects in the last five years, and the running game continues to hum along with Steven Jackson.  Call it a hunch, but I think St. Louis steals this one on the road.

– Steelers over Patriots: The Sunday night offering should be a dandy, with two of the best teams squaring off.  Both however are coming off losses in their most recent game, so one of them will have a losing streak by the end of the night.  I think these two teams are so similar on paper in virtually every aspect that it’s tough to isolate a factor that will be the difference in the game.  I think the Steelers run the ball slightly better than New England, and I also like the physicality of their defense.  I think since the game is at Heinz Field, that gives Pittsburgh a slight advantage, but this game may not be decided by much more than a field goal.

– Eagles over Redskins: Talk about two teams moving in opposite directions.  The Eagles looked very impressive in their win over the Colts last week, and as long as Michael Vick continues to play like a legitimate MVP candidate they will be very tough to beat.  The presence of DeSean Jackson also really helps their offense.  The Redskins on the other hand are coming off a bad loss to the Lions, made even worse by Mike Shanahan’s boneheaded decision to insert Rex Grossman under center at the end of the game.  How anyone could think Rex Grossman is a better option than the ball boy, let alone Donovan McNabb, is beyond me.  Reports indicate that Shanahan may have caused a division in the locker room with that move.  If true, Redskins fans should start to expect more losses in the near future.

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Week 8 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 5, 2010

Last Week: 9-4  Season: 60-57

Evidently last week’s quickie selections provided better results.  I nailed two major upsets (Jacksonville and Green Bay), and I’m still alive in my eliminator pool.  Let’s keep it rolling:

– Bills over Bears: Upset Alert.  This does give me pause because the Bills are stupidly moving their home game to Toronto, which means there could be more Bears fans in the seats.  The Bills are winless in Toronto home games, but they have played really hard the last two games and nearly pulled upsets.  I think they take advantage of Jay Cutler and sneak away with this one.

– Ravens over Dolphins: Miami’s streak of undefeated play on the road should come to an end here.  Baltimore has had a bye week to rest up, and I think their defense will want to rebound from the horrible effort against Buffalo.  I still think the Ravens are the best team in the NFL, and they will prove it on Sunday.

– Patriots over Browns: I almost went with the upset here but ultimately proved gun shy.  The Browns have played surprisingly well with Colt McCoy under center, and after they won in the Superdome two weeks ago I’m not going to put anything past them.  Still, Tom Brady doesn’t generally lose games he’s supposed to win.  I think this will be very close, but I think the Pats will take it.

– Lions over Jets: Major Upset Alert.  For whatever reason, the Lions are very tough to slow down at home.  Especially with Matthew Stafford back, the offense has plenty of weapons to score lots of points.  As for the Jets, I’m still not buying the hype (after all my dreadful Broncos would have beaten them if not for a questionable call), especially after they got shut out on their own field last week.  Call this one a hunch.

– Texans over Chargers: This should be a very entertaining game, and for me this was the toughest to pick.  The Chargers’ offense has looked a lot more like its old self recently, but I think this will be a desperate game for Houston.  The Texans must win home games like this if they aspire to be a playoff team.  I think this will be a shootout, and I like Andre Johnson to make a big play late.

– Colts over Eagles: This is also a very tough pick.  The Eagles will have a huge home crowd behind them, Michael Vick is back under center, DeSean Jackson should be back, so why am I picking Indy?  Peyton Manning.  I’ve just seen too many Colts road games where they struggle early, the home team has a real chance to beat them, and Manning pulls a rabbit out of his hat for the win.  I sense a similar such game unfolding on Sunday.

– Chiefs over Raiders: Who would have thought this would be an AFC West showdown?  I think both offenses will be able to move the ball well in this game, especially the Chiefs, who have seemed to find some harmony between Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles.  Darren McFadden will also get his yards for the Raiders, but if Zach Miller is still hobbled it could really hurt their passing game.  I think Kansas City pulls this out on the road and starts to put their stamp on the division.

– Giants over Seahawks: The Giants have quietly put one of the NFC’s best records together.  Their running game is outstanding and their defense hasn’t broke yet.  The Seahawks are starting Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback.  This could get ugly in a hurry.  Even though they’re on the road, I’m taking the G-men in a blowout.

– Vikings over Cardinals: The Randy Moss saga proves just how messed up things are in Minnesota.  Even if Brett Favre manages to stay upright all year, the defense needs to shore up its gaping holes fast if they want to get back in the race.  Fortunately for them, they get a home game against one of the league’s struggling teams this week.  Minnesota may not be good right now, but Arizona is worse.

– Falcons over Buccaneers: Tampa Bay has to rank as one of the league’s biggest surprises at 5-2.  This game will tell us a lot about whether that record is a mirage or if we have a surprise playoff threat on our hands.  The Falcons have one of the league’s most dynamic offenses, and they’ll need to solve what has been one of the best defenses in this one.  I think Roddy White will have another big day and that will be enough to give Atlanta the win.

– Saints over Panthers: This is my eliminator selection for this week.  New Orleans looked like they were back last week, especially defensively, in an impressive win over the Steelers.  The schedule is shaping nicely for the defending champs, who get their bye following this one.  Carolina is frankly not very good, regardless of who is under center.  This week it will be Matt Moore who gets to struggle again.

– Packers over Cowboys: The Sunday night game looked good on paper before the season started.  Now it won’t be much more than a blowout win for the host Packers.  Dallas is in big trouble, partially because the offense is worse with Jon Kitna at quarterback, but mostly because the defense is embarrassingly bad.  That means that this week is a chance for Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay offense to have a rebound week and to get some confidence back.

– Steelers over Bengals: This is a rivalry that has been really one sided most of the time.  Cincinnati managed to break through with a win last year, but this year’s Bengals don’t have a lot going for them.  Terrell Owens is putting up monster numbers, but he’s the only one.  I think the odds of Pittsburgh losing two games in a row are less than none, so I pick them for that reason alone.  The fact that it’s against their big rival could make this a blowout and horrible fourth quarter ratings for ESPN.

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Week 8 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on October 29, 2010

Last week: 5-9   Season: 51-54

Ouch last week was dreadful in more ways than one.  The Broncos suffered the worst loss in their history and my picks weren’t much better.  Somehow, I’m still alive in my eliminator pool (and benefited greatly from everyone who went with the Saints last week – I took the Chiefs and it paid off).  This week really snuck up on me thanks to my birthday and a CU road trip to Oklahoma.  Maybe faster, quicker selections will improve my record.  Here we go:

– Chiefs over Bills:  Arrowhead has become a tough home field advantage again.  Kansas City is running better than any team in football.  Buffalo can’t win in an atmosphere like this.

– Dolphins over Bengals: Miami has to win a home game sooner or later (the Dolphins are undefeated on the road and winless at home).  Cincinnati still is a soap opera.

– Patriots over Vikings: My eliminator selection of the week.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Brett Favre or Tarvaris Jackson.  Either way, the Patriots are tough at home and the VIkings look really lost, especially defensively.

– Packers over Jets: Upset alert.  I still think the Packers have the tools to make a deep playoff run if they play to their capability.  Call this one a hunch.  Perhaps I also think the Jets are a tad overrated.

– Jaguars over Cowboys: Major upset alert.  Call this one a hunch too.  David Garrard is back, while Jon Kitna starts for Dallas.  I think Maurice Jones-Drew scores at least two touchdowns.  Wade Phillips might get fired.

– Titans over Chargers: Mini upset alert.  Chris Johnson will have a big day.  Philip Rivers will too, but Tennessee’s defense is among the best in the league.  I think Jeff Fisher’s crew steals this one.

– Broncos over 49ers:  The NFL is sending its dud game of the week to London.  Oops.  Brian Dawkins’ return will help slow down Frank Gore, and I think the Broncos will want to show they aren’t as bad as the Raiders loss might indicate.

– Raiders over Seahawks: I still don’t know what to make of Seattle, and after last week, the Raiders might actually have enough offense to win games like this at home.

– Lions over Redskins: Upset alert (hey I’m under .500, I might as well take some chances).  I think this will be shootout.  I also think the Redskins were fortunate to win last week (they can thank Jay Cutler for throwing it to them).  The Lions have the ability to score lots of points at home.  I think they’ll get a few more than the Redskins.

– Rams over Panthers: Steven Jackson says he’s healthy enough to play.  That’s good enough for me.  Besides, how can anyone back Carolina on the road?

– Cardinals over Buccaneers:  Two bad teams go at it.  It’s in Arizona so I take the home team.  Sometimes this isn’t an exact science.

– Steelers over Saints: Something is clearly not right with the Saints.  Pittsburgh may be the NFL’s best team top to bottom right now.  Good luck Drew Brees, even at home.

– Colts over Texans: Peyton Manning won’t let the Colts get swept by a division opponent.  His programming doesn’t allow it.

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Week 7 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on October 22, 2010

Last Week: 7-7  Season: 46-45

Well, last week we took some shots on upsets that didn’t pan out.  As we get into this week, all of the talk is about the NFL’s new emphasis on violent hits.  I’ll be curious to see who gets fined and suspended, but more than that I’ll be curious to see what effect this has on the game.  A lot of players are going to have to change the way they’ve been taught to hit since high school to avoid getting fined.  I also find it interesting that the league is so concerned about player safety, yet they are prepared to lock the players out in March, which would result in players losing their health benefits.  Player safety is also of course a downside of the proposed 18-game season.  It seems as though the league wants it both ways.  Ultimately, I don’t think the game will change that much in the short term, but that could depend on the amount of fines and suspensions that are handed out in the next month.  Now, on to the picks.

– Ravens over Bills: This is the blowout of the week without question.  Baltimore gave one away to the Patriots last week, so they will be highly motivated at home against a vastly inferior opponent.  Ed Reed is also back in the lineup so that will be further bad news for opponents.  This would be my eliminator pick except I’ve already used the Ravens.  In any case Baltimore will win this one rather convincingly against the hapless Bills.

– Dolphins over Steelers: Mini upset alert.  Miami was very impressive last week against the Packers, so they are playing better than expected.  The odd thing about the Dolphins is they are 0-2 at home and 3-0 on the road, so maybe playing this game in the shadow of South Beach isn’t the best thing for them.  Still, I thought the Steelers looked less than impressive against the Browns for much of that game, and if they play like that this week they could be in trouble against Miami’s defense.  I also think Brandon Marshall could be in line for some big plays in this one, particularly because the Steelers’ defense might be more timid than usual due to the prospect of fines or suspensions from the league. 

– Patriots over Chargers: I know this game is in San Diego, but the Chargers just don’t look right or feel right.  Besides the fact that they keep losing games to those they should be destroying (granted all of those have been on the road), they are actually piling up terrific stats in the passing game, are outgaining almost all of their opponents, yet are not scoring points.  I for the life of me can’t understand why Darren Sproles isn’t more involved in what they’re doing.  He is the type of player that can score any time he touches the ball, yet they refuse to give it to him.  Makes sense to me!  Must be part of the Norv Turner philosophy of not winning.  In any case, the Patriots absolutely own the Chargers, and that’s not likely to change given the Patriots are off to a fast start and the Chargers are still at the starting line.  Something tells me this will be close until Tom Brady leads a drive at the end for the win.

– Falcons over Bengals: I have to wonder if the entire Cincinnati Bengals organization has completely jumped the shark.  In the two weeks since their embarrassing home loss to Tampa Bay I have seen multiple advertisements for the T.Ocho Show on Versus.  I’m sure that’s exactly what Marvin Lewis wants to see: his two star diva receivers hosting their own show instead of concentrating on stopping the team’s current losing skid.  What could more of an issue in this game though is the secondary, which will have to contend with Roddy White and the rest of the weapons at Matt Ryan’s disposal.  The Falcons have been extremely tough at home, and I think the combination of their offensive attack along with an ability to put pressure on Carson Palmer all day gives them the nod.  In fact this may not be close. 

– Saints over Browns: Cleveland is resorting to Colt McCoy for the second straight week, which is obviously bad news.  That said, the Browns hung in longer than expected last week in Pittsburgh, and a hunch says they might be able to keep this one closer than expected if they can run the ball effectively.  I realize this game is at the Superdome, and while I’m not picking the upset, I do think this could be a competitive game.  In the end I think Brees and company will be too much especially on their own field, but something tells me that with Pittsburgh looming next week the Saints might be caught looking ahead.  That might be enough to make this interesting in the fourth quarter.

– Chiefs over Jaguars: David Garrard is out for the Jags.  Trent Edwards might be out as well.  That means Todd Bouman could well be the starter at Arrowhead.  Ouch.  Given that the Chiefs are hungry after two difficult road losses, this could get ugly and fast.  This might be a good week to start the Chiefs’ defense in fantasy because they might score a touchdown if Jacksonville’s offensive performance last week is any indication.  I’m thinking this could be 40-10.  That’s why I’m making the Chiefs my eliminator selection this week.

– Eagles over Titans: I really went back and forth on this game.  The Titans looked very impressive last week especially on defense, while the Eagles also gave a tremendous performance against a good Falcons team.  Both teams have frankly looked great at times and lost at others this season, so it will be interesting to see what unfolds.  Both teams have quarterback issues due to injury.  Kevin Kolb will start again for Philly, although there are rumblings Michael Vick might be available in a limited capacity.  Tennessee as of this writing is unsure whether it will be Vince Young or Kerry Collins.  Philadelphia also won’t have big play threat DeSean Jackson available.  Still, a hunch says that while this will be a thrilling game, I think the Eagles will make one more play and will pull out a close road game heading into the bye week.

– Broncos over Raiders: For several years now, this rivalry has been not been what it used to be.  This used to be one of the more intense and fierce rivalries, and now it’s gotten to the point where both teams have struggled, and it’s hard to feel much excitement about this matchup.  In each of the past two seasons, the away team has won each game, perhaps another oddity of this series.  Last year was particularly painful for the Broncos because they allowed JaMarcus Russell to beat them, and there is no other word besides embarrassing that applies to that.  This year the Broncos could be in a similar situation because there is a good chance Jason Campbell will not be able to go, and that means Kyle Boller could well get the nod at QB for the Raiders.  Denver has lost two in a row but they have also played a rigorous schedule.  Now that it’s getting friendly, the Broncos need to take advantage.  They should be able to get it done on Sunday at Mile High.

– Redskins over Bears: This game actually has a very interesting subplot for us Denver folks.   Mike Shanahan, the coach who led the Broncos to their two Super Bowl wins, going against the quarterback he drafted, Jay Cutler.  It is of course unknown where the Broncos would be today if Shanahan was still coaching and Cutler was still under center, but I think it could be interesting to see them go against each other.  If Shanahan is smart, he will send numerous pass rushers Cutler’s way because the Bears offensive line has been awful.  Cutler isn’t getting the chance to throw his usual interceptions because he is getting sacked so often.  If the Redskins can continue to run the ball with effectiveness, I think they stand to win this game even on the road.  The Bears may be 4-2, but their record doesn’t reflect how mediocre they are.  Washington wins. 

– 49ers over Panthers: Call this one a hunch.  San Francisco is embarking on a long road swing, because they get the London trip following this game.  Carolina is switching quarterbacks again, going back to Matt Moore after Jimmy Clausen has been largely ineffective.  The Panthers should have a good running game with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but both have been big disappointments so far this year.  I think now that the 49ers have a win under their belt, they should start playing with a lot more confidence.  I say it every week, but San Francisco has more than enough talent to get back in the race.  The key is Alex Smith.  As long as he duplicates what he did in the second half last week, the Niners will be fine in this game. 

– Rams over Buccaneers: Both teams have to rank as surprises, as each has three victories under their belt.  Still, this does not rank as one of the week’s better offerings, and a blackout in Tampa for a non-sellout is a certainty.  I think the Rams actually have the look of a team that could pull off a few more surprises, for Sam Bradford is playing extremely well, and he has a good running game to lean on led by Steven Jackson.  Tampa Bay is quietly playing good defense at times, but they haven’t been able to do it against the league’s elite.  Since St. Louis isn’t in that category yet, I think this should actually be a very competitive game, but I think the Rams have a little more offense and will be able to steal this one on the road. 

– Cardinals over Seahawks: The challenge for the Cardinals will be keeping up their surprising play from their win over the Saints two weeks ago.  Since then they have had the bye, but perhaps we might see a resursange of offense from Arizona if Max Hall can continue to play well enough to keep the starting job.  If he can play decently, he has more than enough weapons at his disposal that the Cardinals should be able to pile up yards in the passing game.  Seattle is a tough team to figure because they have won some big games and they have also lost some clunkers.  I think this should be an entertaining game but I think if we see the return of offense from the Cardinals that I expect, than they’ll have more than enough to win even on the road. 

– Vikings over Packers: Did you know that Brett Favre used to play for the Packers?  Apparently that makes this game kind of a big deal.  This is a big game for both teams because neither has played up to expectations so far this season.  Green Bay in particular has disappointed big time in recent weeks, partially because they’ve battled injuries.  Minnesota appeared to get back on track last week against the Cowboys, and with a win at Lambeau they can get right back into the discussion in the division race.  While Favre and Randy Moss are still getting their timing down, both will be highly motivated to play well against the Packers on a national stage.  I think Aaron Rodgers will lead the Packers to some points, but I see the Vikings getting just a few more.  This should be a great game despite all the Favre hype. 

– Cowboys over Giants: In spite of statements to the contrary from Jerry Jones, the Wade Phillips watch is clearly on in Dallas.  Let’s just say that 1-4 starts don’t sit well in the minds of Cowboys fans or in the mind of their high profile owner.  Tony Romo and company actually played well last week, but they ran into an equally desperate Vikings team on the road.  I think the Monday night home crowd should energize this team, and the key will be how the defense handles the Giants’ running game.  Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are both running well, so this could be a tough task for the Cowboys.  In the end I think Tony Romo will have a huge night and that will be enough to help the Cowboys outscore their division rivals.

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Week 6 Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on October 14, 2010

Last Week: 5-9 Season: 39-38

Obviously we were terrible last week.  Granted there were a number of fairly major upsets, but still.  The good news is I’m still alive in my eliminator pool thanks to going with Indy over the Bengals.  Really, this is what makes the NFL so great.  You just never know what’s going to happen.  On to this week’s selections:

– Packers over Dolphins: I am stunned to see that six of the eight ESPN experts are picking the visiting Dolphins.  Really folks?  What are you smoking?  This game is at Lambeau Field.  Plus, the last time we saw the Dolphins, they got completely run off their own field by the Patriots.  Miami looked so lost and confused that game that they aren’t beating anyone unless they get major improvement in a hurry, especially on defense and special teams.  I know the Packers lost last week, but this team has way too much talent to lose a home game like this.  Aaron Rodgers has even been medically cleared to play so that is not an issue.  He will be out there, and that means he’s putting up his usual big numbers.  The Packers are Super Bowl contender and the Dolphins are not.  Did I mention the game is at Lambeau?  Case closed.

– Ravens over Patriots: I picked Baltimore to win the Super Bowl before the season started, and so far I have seen no reason to lack confidence in the selection.  The defense is its usual brick wall self, plus they are scheduled to get Ed Reed back in week seven.  The Ravens also have the offensive weapons to put 30 points on the board, as they did last week.  If the Ravens don’t turn it over, they might just be unbeatable.  The Patriots have played very well certainly, but I think they’re going to miss Randy Moss more than they realize.  Deion Branch should feel comfortable returning where he had success, and while I think the Patriots are still the best team in the AFC East, I don’t see them stacking up to the Ravens even at home.  Let’s not forget Baltimore torched them in Foxboro during the playoffs last year.  This will be closer, but the Ravens will still win.

– Broncos over Jets: UPSET ALERT.  All things being equal, the Jets are the better team.  Their defense has been outstanding (first in the league against the run), and their offense has done enough to win games.  LaDainian Tomlinson has somehow found the fountain the youth, and that is making things easier for Mark Sanchez.  I know this doesn’t look good for the Broncos with their complete lack of a running game (although Knowshon Moreno should be back finally), plus their assorted injuries on defense, but this smells like a big trap for the Jets.  New York has the bye following this, and they are coming off a short week with the Monday night win.  This is a long trip west plus they are going to altitude.  I think these factors coupled with possibly overlooking the Broncos could prove to be trouble for the Jets.  I think Kyle Orton has another huge day, especially if Darrelle Revis sits out as expected.  I think the home crowd gives Denver a lift and they find a way to pull the upset.

– Steelers over Browns: Ben Roethlisberger is back.  Colt McCoy is starting for the Browns.  The Steelers own this series.  Let’s just move on to a more competitive game.  The only reason this isn’t my eliminator pick is I’m saving the Steeelers for later in the season.

– Texans over Chiefs: This one is very interesting.  I am starting to think the Chiefs’ defense might be for real given the way they shut down Peyton Manning last week and held the Colts to a bunch of field goals.  The thing that gives me major pause though is Matt Cassel, who is continuing to prove he is nothing but mediocre.  At least the Chiefs are starting to give Jamaal Charles more carries, which is a really good idea given his explosiveness.  The Texans got mutilated in every way last week, but I would be shocked if their offense laid that big an egg two weeks in a row.  Plus, their defense should continue to get better as Brian Cushing gets settled back in.  This will be close and should be highly entertaining, but I’m taking the Texans at home on a hunch.

– 49ers over Raiders: I feel like Charlie Brown kicking the football when it comes to the 49ers.  I picked them to win the division at the start of the season.  I keep picking them to win every week.  Every week they hang another loss on my record in maddening fashion.  I guess I figure they can’t possibly go 0-16.  The talent is still there.  They have the ability to run, to pass, and their defense should be among the best in the league.  Part of me still says that if they can turn it around, they aren’t out of it because the NFC West is so atrocious.  I think they’ll get it done here because the Raiders have a proven track record of not coming to play two weeks in a row.  Last week they stunned the Chargers, but I don’t think they have it in them to care in back to back weeks.  If the 49ers lose this I’ll be the last one off the bandwagon.

– Chargers over Rams: San Diego is 2-3, which actually isn’t all that different from where they were a year ago.  The Chargers have the look of a team that just hasn’t turned the switch on yet.  Their two wins have been blowouts, and their three losses have been major head scratchers against teams they should have beaten.  I think the Rams could actually give them a challenge at home, especially given the way Sam Bradford is playing in his rookie season, but I also think they don’t have what it takes to stop all of San Diego’s weapons.  I am perplexed as to why they don’t use Darren Sproles more.  Perhaps this is the week they unleash him on the speedy indoor surface in St. Louis.

– Vikings over Cowboys: Call this the disappointment bowl.  Both teams were expected to be major playoff contenders.  Now, both sit 1-3 and in danger of completely falling off the map.  In some ways, this could be considered an early playoff game, because the winner can start to see the middle of the pack again, and the loser will pretty much be TKO’d.  I am highly amused by the way that Jerry Jones says he is not planning on firing Wade Phillips “at this time”.  That has all the makings of him feeling differently in a month.  I think both of these teams have talent that does not reflect their poor record, but something has to give here.  I think given that the game is in Minnesota, I am sensing a big breakout game for Adrian Peterson as well as the passing game.  I also don’t like this matchup for the Cowboys offense (remember the playoff beatdown last year?).  I think the Vikings still could be a playoff team if they can stay healthy, and it just doesn’t appear to be in the cards for the flawed Cowboys.

– Giants over Lions: This is my eliminator selection for the week.  I know the Lions routed the Rams last week, but they still have yet to take their act on the road in a number of years.  I don’t like their chances here with Shaun Hill still taking snaps for the injured Matthew Stafford.  I think the Giants for the past two weeks have been more than solid in every phase of the game.  The defense is getting tremendous pressure without having to use exotic blitz packages, and that is making them extremely effective against both the run and the pass.  I also think the running game is humming along nicely, especially now that Ahmad Bradshaw’s heel should be healed heading into this game.  I think the Giants offense could put up 30 points for the second straight week, and that should be more than enough.

– Falcons over Eagles: Michael Vick still looks to be out for the Eagles, although Kevin Kolb did play pretty well in the win over San Francisco.  Still, the Eagles appear to be one of those teams that looks extremely flashy but can’t seem to put things together on a consistent basis.  I think the Falcons are on the verge of really breaking out, to the point where they could be considered one of the league’s top five teams.  Their passing game in particular has been lighting it up, and I don’t see that changing against anyone.  Their defense has also been playing exceptionally well.  I take the Falcons on the road.

– Bears over Seahawks: Jay Cutler returns after sitting out last week with a concussion.  The Bears were able to win without him thanks to another outstanding defensive effort, plus, well, they were playing a Panthers team that wasn’t much opposition.  Still, the Bears have to rank as one of the early surprises of the season at 4-1, and they have another very winnable game Sunday at Soldier Field.  Seattle has been very up and down, but the one constant is they’ve been awful on the road.  If the Bears defense continues to play as well as it has, I think they’ll cause major problems for Matt Hasselbeck.  I’m still not sold on Chicago’s offense, but they won’t need to score very many points to win this game.

– Saints over Buccaneers: New Orleans losing to Arizona last week was one of many major upsets.  The Saints are starting to see what every defending Super Bowl winner sees: the absolute best effort from every opponent.  That should still be true against Tampa, where the Buccaneers are somehow over .500.  Last week they were able to take advantage of major errors by the Bengals, but I think the Saints have too much pride not to come out fighting after last week’s loss.  Plus, the last time I picked the Bucs to win they got shredded 38-6 at home.  Thus, I pick the visiting Saints.

– Colts over Redskins: Mike Shanahan has quietly put together back to back wins against quality opposition, and the Redskins are 3-2 and in the mix.  This game will tell us a lot about the progress Shanahan has made in D.C., because the Colts are the one team that always shredded his Denver teams no matter what.  The Redskins’ defense has been terrific the last two games, but of course they are about to tangle with Peyton Manning.  The Colts haven’t quite looked themselves this season, but I’m still not one to bet against Manning without a compelling reason.  I think he bounces back with a monster game on Sunday night, and I just don’t think Donovan McNabb and company can keep up.

– Jaguars over Titans: This is an upset alert of sorts, but I only say that because all eight ESPN experts are going with the Titans.  I don’t think a Jacksonville win can be considered much of an upset when they are at home on a Monday night and they are coming off back to back wins.  The Jags’ offense has scored a combined 67 points in their last two games, and David Garrard has shockingly thrown multiple TD passes each week.  The Jaguars also have Maurice Jones-Drew, who has owned the Titans in previous meetings (think multiple 80-yard touchdown runs last season).  Chris Johnson is of course a threat to score every time as well, but I think Vince Young might actually have a tough time with Jacksonville’s defense.  I pick the Jaguars, and I don’t think it’s much of  a stretch.

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