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Pro Football Week 16 Sunday Recap

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Here are my thoughts on this weekend’s games as I still wonder if Tony Dungy is the best choice to be the next coach of the Cowboys

Cardinals beat Cowboys 27-26: Well, the Cowboys found another way to lose as their kicker blew an extra point in this one. That kind of summed up their year, starting with the end of first half fumble against the Redskins and culminating in this. Next week’s game in Philly should be a three touchdown blowout as this team runs to the offseason and Jason Garrett can put 4-4 as interim head coach on his resume. The good news is that the Cowboys could sneak into the top 5 on draft day. With the top level quality in this draft, the Cowboys might be able to drop down and get an additional 1 or 2.

Patriots beat Bills 34-3: Another ho-hum affair for the team that clinched the best record in the AFC. Brady continues to play “perfect” and Pats defense has given up 7 or less in 3 of their last 4 after not holding opponents under 10 all season. Seven straight victories for the Pats are the most since their undefeated regular season in 2007. The 2001 Pats won 6 straight and 8 of 9 going into the playoffs, the 2003 Pats won 12 straight, and the 2004 Pats won 8 of 9 going into playoffs. This team plays similar and the results are as well.

Bears beat Jets 38-34: Matt Forte ran for over 100 yards for only the third time this season as the Jets lost for the third time in four games. Could all of the distractions finally be catching up to the Jets? A month ago the talk was about a Super Bowl and now the coach is becoming a walking punch line and the defense is having problems stopping anybody. The Bears can clinch the 2 spot and a bye with an Eagles loss or a win next week at Lambeau.  Soldier Field is going to be a tough place to win in January. The Jets host Buffalo needing a Steelers loss and a win to get to the 5 spot.

Ravens beat Browns 20-10: The former Browns continue to haunt Cleveland worse than LeBron. The Ravens are hanging in the shadows as the playoffs approach. The Patriots get a lot of hype and already beat the Ravens earlier this season. But the Ravens dominated them last year as they eliminated the Pats from the playoffs. There seems to be even more animosity between the Pats and Ravens then the Pats and Jets. The Ravens can win the division with a win against Cincinnati and a Steelers loss to the Browns.

Chiefs beat the Titans 34-14: The Chiefs clinched the AFC West for the first time since 2003 with the help of the Bengals. The Chiefs have a stellar defense and their own triplets with Cassel, Charles, and Bowe. The best rushing team in football is going to be a difficult out in the postseason. Including this season’s five; there have been 70 quarterback seasons with 30+ TD passes. Matt Cassel is 3 TD passes away from joining that club. The Chiefs are in the 3rd spot but lose the tiebreaker if they’re tied with the Colts. The Raiders come to town to close out their season on Sunday.  

Rams beat 49ers 25-17: The 49ers lost the game and Mike Singletary lost his job later in the evening. Somebody will give him a chance to redeem himself as a defensive coordinator and not regret it. This situation just highlights how difficult it is to coach in the NFL. This team hasn’t had stability at the QB position since Jeff Garcia. The Rams win in Seattle and get into the playoffs. Sam Bradford has to be the ROY if they win on Sunday.

Lions beat Dolphins 34-27: The Lions win back-to-back road games after losing an NFL record 26 straight. The Dolphins finish at 1-7 at home, including the Browns, Bills, and Lions to finish the season. Their home losses were not bad until that string. Tony Sparano will most likely suffer the consequences and probably should since a 1-7 home record doesn’t get you into the playoffs or, more importantly, help fill the stadium. The Lions are a definite sleeper going into next season if Matthew Stafford is healthy.

Redskins beat Jaguars 20-17: Believe it or not, this game didn’t really mean that much for the Jags. If the Colts lose to the Titans next week, the Jags are in a win and they’re in position in Houston. But for that to happen, MJD will need to be healthier and productive against the Texans on Sunday.

Bengals beat Chargers 34-20: This game was the nail in the proverbial Chargers’ coffin. The Bengals have now won 2 in a row and are reportedly petitioning the league to not count their 0-8 record in October and November. Marvin Lewis is completing his contract, but the team has surprisingly not quit on him and so far it appears like he might return. As for Norv Turner, GM AJ Smith is renowned for his hardheadedness and will probably bring Norv back for what might be their final season in San Diego. He’s not old yet, but Philip Rivers will be 30 when next season ends and the window of opportunity with a great quarterback will close sooner than anticipated for the Chargers. That needs to be in their minds when they decide on their coaching situation for next season.

Broncos beat Texans 24-23: Tim Tebow threw for over 300 yards and a TD and then ran for one as he brought the Broncos back from 17-0 at halftime to win his first game as a starter. Tebow has sort of a Doug Flutie feel to him as the talent evaluators find problems with him, but he finds a way to win. Do the Texans move on from Gary Kubiak and if they do, will the Broncos hire him?

Colts beat Raiders 31-26: The Colts running game showed up again (191 yards) and their defense stuffed the 3rd ranked rushing offense, holding them to only 80 yards. The Colts need to win at home against the Titans or have the Jaguars lose in Houston to make the playoffs. If they win and the Chiefs lose, they get the 3 seed and a probable matchup with the Jets.

Packers beat Giants 45-17: This was a beat down in Lambeau. Aaron Rodgers returned and was well protected as he threw for 404 yards and 4 TDs. That had to be the best non-Brady/Vick performance of the year and top 5 overall. The Giants turned the ball over 6 times and that looks like it might lead to the downfall of Coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin’s trademark is discipline and holding onto the football.  The turnovers are indicative of a team that isn’t as disciplined as they should be. Both teams are now tied at 9-6 and need to win next week. The Giants play at FedEx against the Redskins and the Packers host the Bears in Lambeau. The Skins are done but the Bears are still playing for a bye. That should work to the Giants advantage.

Buccaneers beat Seahawks 38-15: Josh Freeman is a beast as he threw for a career high 5 TD passes yesterday against the Seahawks in front of a not so capacity crowd of 46,576. Tampa Bay has their best quarterback since Doug Williams and a winning team and still don’t support this team. Ridiculous. How good was Freeman? His 21 completions were to 10 different receivers. Pretty good. He’s still at the top of the list of first and second year quarterbacks that I would want to build my team around. The Bucs need to win at New Orleans next week and hope. Hope for a Saints loss tonight and either a Giants loss or Packers loss. Or they need both the Giants and Packers to lose next week.

Tonight I like the Saints. The winner of this game might be my favorite to win the NFC as the Saints are rolling and the Falcons haven’t lost outside of the Keystone State. This game should be a pre-playoff statement game where the winner can feel like they will have an advantage if they play again and that could happen as soon as the Divisional Playoff round. The Falcons have to feel like they can do their part to eliminate the Saints if they beat them. They need to feel like it will be easily to beat the Saints tonight rather than in three weeks. The Saints had won 6 straight until last week’s loss to the Ravens. The Saints will probably have to win either tonight or next Sunday against the Bucs to make the playoffs. A win would set them up with the hapless winner of the NFC West in the wild card round. That’s almost like getting a bye week and should be enough motivation for the Super Bowl champs to win tonight.

I concur with Governor Ed Rendell about the Eagles and Vikings game.

Post Week 14 MVP ballot (If I had one):

1. Tom Brady QB Patriots: It’s tough to not vote for Brady when he is having, arguably, the best season of his career. Who is going to be the Patriots’ deep guy without Moss? Hah.

2. Michael Vick QB Eagles: As great as Vick has been, if the Eagles don’t win in Chicago, there won’t be any reunions in Atlanta for the NFC championship game. The Eagles have already lost there with Vick and the weather shouldn’t be better in the middle of January.

3(tie). Julius Peppers DE Bears and Clay Matthews LB Packers: These two have dominated on two of the best defenses in the league. Both seem to make key plays that lead to wins on a weekly basis. That play yesterday by Matthews to rundown Brandon Jacobs was indicative of what he’s brought in his two years in the league. Peppers is the most disruptive pass rusher of his era and his freakish athletic ability enables him to defend passes and rundown running backs like a linebacker or safety.

My Super Bowl pick, this week, is the Patriots to beat the winner of tonight’s game (Saints/Falcons).

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NFL Week 16 Preview

December 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Here are my thoughts on this week’s NFL slate of games while I wonder where TO will be keeping it real next year…

Cowboys at Cardinals: Tonight’s game is the first of a group of “who cares” games. Both teams are positioning for a top 10 pick on draft day 2011. The Cards know they need a QB and the Cowboys fans know they need a new QB. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, the owner/president/general manager doesn’t know this yet. The Cowboys have been winning some ugly football games with Garrett and should continue tonight.

Patriots at Bills: The Pats just need a win to clinch the division and home field throughout the AFC playoffs. The Bills have won 4 of 5 and are taking themselves out of position for a top 10 pick. This week should get them back on track as the Pats clinch.

Jets at Bears: The good news for the Jets is that it looks like Mark Sanchez will start. The good news for the Bears is that it looks like Mark Sanchez will start. Why? Sanchez has thrown for only 4 TD’s and 17 INT’s in games played in less than 45 degrees. Guess how cold it’s supposed to be in Chicago for this one? Add in the Bears stifling run defense and you can imagine Sanchez running from Defensive POY candidate Julius Peppers frequently. The Bears have won 6 of 7 and the key has been Matt Forte and the ability to protect the football. After breaking 45 yards just once in his first 7 games, Forte has gone over that total in 6 of the last 7. The only game Forte didn’t run that well was against the Patriots. He’s averaged over 81 yards per game in those 6 victories. The Bears have also taken care of the football by winning the turnover battle by 8 in their 6 wins. The Jets win this one and they’re in the playoffs. The Bears need this to keep ahead of the Eagles for the NFC 2 seed and a wild card round bye. Look for the Bears defense to force 3 or more turnovers and either score on defense or special teams to give them the win at Soldier Field.

Ravens at Browns: The annual Art Modell Hate Bowl is being held tomorrow in northeast Ohio. The Ravens need to win and they’re in. If they win out they can win the division if the Steelers lose next week.

Titans at Chiefs: The Titans broke their losing string last week, but that was more of a win for the man who pays the checks as they beat Bud Adams’ hometown team. This week, they face the Chiefs who are 6-0 at Arrowhead. The Chiefs are playing well with Cassel at QB and Jamaal Charles might win the rushing title. The Chiefs need to win out with two home games. This will be the first of two needed wins.

49ers at Rams: My favorite division. The Rams control their own destiny and the Niners control theirs if the Bucs beat the Seahawks. Got that? The Niners go back to Troy Smith this week but are still 1-6 on the road. The Rams get the win and play for the division next week in Seattle.

Lions at Dolphins: The Lions broke their NFL record 26 game road losing streak last week in Tampa and stay in Florida to play the Fins. The undercard might be Ricky vs. Gunther. Pedro Martinez against Don Zimmer, football style. The Dolphins are 1-6 at home and heading for 1-7. Lions win.

Redskins at Jaguars: MJD is doubtful, heading towards out. That leaves Rashad Jennings to attack the worst defense in the league. The Skins are slightly better against the run at 27th in the league. The Jags need help to win the division or get a wildcard. But they don’t have a chance if they don’t win this one. The Rex Grossman era started with a 4 TD game in a loss last week for the Skins. Look for bad Rex to show up and the Jags keep their playoff hopes alive.

Chargers at Bengals: The Chargers are 2-4 on the road and need two straight and a Chiefs loss to win the division. They also have a long shot at the wildcard. The weather in Cincy is sure to be un-San Diego like as they expect a wintry mix. This was the site of one of the coldest games in NFL history when the Bengals beat the Chargers on their way to Super Bowl XVI. It’s been over 20 years now since the Bengals appeared in the Big Game. The Bengals broke a 10 game losing streak last week, but will get back into the loss column against the Chargers.

Texans at Broncos: This is the Gary Kubiak Bowl where the winner might have Kubiak as head coach next season. Why? Because he keeps his job by winning and he’s reportedly the favorite in Denver if he’s available. Tim Tebow starts for the second time. Let’s go with the Broncos in this one.

Colts at Raiders: The Colts now control their own destiny after running and stopping the run last week for the first time all season. Can they keep this up? The Raiders have a great running game as they have run for over 239 yards in 4 games already this season. If the small Colts defensive front can’t handle the physical Raiders front, the Jags are back in it. The Raiders are also 5-2 at home and are starting to make the Coliseum a tough place to play for the first time in years. The Raiders have a solid defense and Peyton Manning might need to find somebody besides Reggie Wayne if Asomugha is covering him. This might be the best matchup of the day and the Raiders get a win to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

Giants at Packers: There isn’t a game with more on the line than this one this week. The Giants win and they’re in. The Packers win out and they’re in. Aaron Rodgers returns after missing last week with his second concussion this season. The Giants have knocked out 6 QB’s already this season and an already woozy Rodgers in their sights. The Giants shouldn’t be in this position as they have blown some games (last week) with careless turnovers and play calling. The Packers have to feel the same as they’ve lost 4 games by 3 points and two others by 4. So expect a close game at Lambeau. Matt Flynn showed that he can play with a solid performance last week and could be called on again. If Eli can limit his turnovers, the Giants win. Look for a steady dose of Brandon Jacobs in the cold and short passes to Kevin Boss to keep the chains moving. A screen pass to Ahmad Bradshaw will break this open in the second half and the Giants win by 3 or 4.

Seahawks at Buccaneers: Seattle is home of the 12th man and the Buccaneers are just looking for 12 fans. Expect a post Christmas crowd of less than 50K again in the worst sports region in North America. The Seahawks win out and they’re in the playoffs. The Buccaneers can win out and get in with a Saints loss on Monday and a little more help. The Bucs are 8-1 against teams with sub .500 records. With the Bucs still playing for something expect them to win.

Vikings at Eagles: It looks like the Favre era might finally be done. But he does like the primetime spotlight. The Eagles win and they are in, but they need to beat out the Bears to get a bye. Otherwise they might be seeing a ticked off Giants squad bent on revenge in two weeks. Look for this to be a game for a quarter or two before the Eagles break it open. The Vikings haven’t put together a full game defensively in weeks (months?). Mike Vick continues his MVP march with another big game Sunday night and the Eagles are NFC East champions.

NFL Week 14 Preview

December 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Here are my thoughts on this week’s NFL slate of games while I wonder if Jenn Sterger will be able to extort anything from the ‘Ol Gunslinger…

Thursday’s review first:

Colts beat Titans 30-28: Peyton Manning got well against the tanking Titans. He had no interceptions and two TD passes as the Colts won a lot easier than the final score indicated. Javarris James wasn’t exactly Edgerrin, but he provided some quality runs late in the third quarter when the Colts were looking to run clock and work their way down the field. On the other side, the Titans didn’t look like they were willing to establish their running game. In fact, faced with a 4th and 1 from their own 34 late in the 4th down by 6, they punted instead of giving it to 2,000 yard rusher Chris Johnson. Tough running football teams don’t just punt the ball back to Manning there. One wonders if Jeff Fisher is beginning to grease the skids for his departure at the end of the season. The 7-6 Colts can still win the division if they win out. They get extra rest to prepare for first place Jacksonville next weekend.

Sundays Games:

Browns at Bills: The Battle of Lake Erie doesn’t mean anything. Jake Delhomme is playing QB for the Browns and the Bills are at home. Bills are the pick.

Packers at Lions: The Lions have been so close, losing four games by 3 points or less. They have also lost three more by a touchdown (8 pts.) or less. The Packers won the first meeting in Lambeau by 2. The injured Shaun Hill threw for 331 and 2 TD and also ran for 53. Noted end zone dancer, Drew Stanton, takes the reins this week in Motown. This is what would be called a “trap” game for the Pack. With the Patriots, Giants and Bears remaining after this, the Packers can’t afford to let up here. If the Packers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender (I think they are), then they’ll win. Packers will win this by less than a touchdown.

Giants at Vikings: Gee, what’s the word on Favre’s status this week? He might not play. The streak may end. He can barely throw a football, let alone send a text. Puhleeeeeze! If he doesn’t play, he might not play again. The Giants have been up and down as they’ve won the past two weeks. Their season will ride on these next three games as they need 2 out of 3. The Vikings need to win out and get help. Unfortunately for them, the Packers’ sweep provides them with little margin for error. There is an outside chance at the wild card as they play the Giants, Eagles, and Bears in the next three games. The final wild card might be 9-7 and the Vikings could hold the tiebreaker should they win out. As for the game, if Favre doesn’t play, Adrian Peterson is going to need to dominate, because Tarvaris Jackson struggled last week and the Giants pass rush can fluster the best quarterbacks. The line play in this game will determine the winner as the Giants O-line is still banged up, only David Diehl returns this week, and the Vikings defensive front can be dominating at times. Eli Manning should have Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks back even though they’re listed as questionable. The Vikings have been the best soap opera in the league this season and if they lose this week, it’s over. That and Adrian Peterson are the two reasons to like the Vikings, now to be played on Monday night. This game will be on in New York and Minnesota on the local Fox station.

Bengals at Steelers: The Bengals haven’t played a full game in months and you shouldn’t expect them to this week. It should be cold in Pittsburgh and bad teams with nothing to play for usually don’t bring a complete effort to these types of games. The Steelers won a tough, gritty game last week in Baltimore. This one should be easier. Steelers win by double digits.

Buccaneers at Redskins: The Redskins are losers of 4 out of 5 and this week ended superstar Albert Haynesworth’s season. How could they? They should’ve known that he was a 4-3 tackle, not a nose tackle. Anyway, the Bucs lost a heartbreaker at home last week to the Falcons and look to get back on track at FedEx. The Bucs are 7-0 against teams .500 and under. They are 0-5 against teams with winning records. This is easy folks. The Redskins are 5-7 and will be 5-8 after the Bucs beat them despite the cold weather. Josh Freeman is a Kansas City native, so he knows cold weather.

Falcons at Panthers: The only easy pick every week is, “Who is playing the Panthers?” This week it’s the Super Bowl bound Falcons.

Raiders at Jaguars: This game could have the least amount of plays in an NFL game this season. Both teams like to run the ball and the one who is most effective, will win. The Raiders come of their most surprising win of the season, at San Diego. They were only 1-4 away from the Bay before that game. The Jags will play in front of their 6th sellout of the season. Take that Tampa Bay. The Jaguars need to win out to ensure a playoff berth. The Raiders need to win out and get help. But they might get that help this week in San Diego. Jacksonville is a tough place to play, but it’s going to be even tougher this week as the Raiders will play at 10 AM PST. They get brunch with MJD, which is fitting, because their fans usually have brunch with MGD. The venue is probably the difference in this one, which is why the Jags are the pick.

Rams at Saints: The Rams have won two straight on the road and are looking for three in a row. Screeeeech! That’s the Rams’ train coming to a dead stop on Sunday. The Saints are not the hapless Broncos or Cardinals. They have that Lombardi Trophy from last year and they’re looking for another one. The Saints have won five straight and trail the first place Falcons by a game. They need this and should be focused. The Saints have the 3rd ranked pass defense, 15th ranked run defense and 9th overall defense. Sam Bradford is in the stretch run of his rookie season and will need Stephen Jackson to carry a heavy load. The Rams are 19th against the pass and Drew Brees is still the QB in New Orleans. If the Rams can’t run the ball, this could be over quickly. Expect the Rams to keep this close for the first half and into the 3rd quarter, but the champs will be too much in the end and win by double digits.

Seahawks at 49ers: The Seahawks are 6-6 and have a chance for first all by to their own if they win and the Rams lose. The Niners are tough to figure and this week they turn back to Alex Smith. Seattle’s defense isn’t good against the pass and that should help Smith get going with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. But the key for Smith might be Brian Westbrook out of the backfield. Westbrook is getting a lot more playing time with Frank Gore out for the season. Westbrook is a top pass receiver at running back and if Lofa Tatupu can’t cover him, the Seahawks could be 6-7 at the end of the day. Here’s guessing that is what happens. Niners win and get within a game of first. Prediction for the NFC West: Niners go 3-1 the rest of the way and win the West at 7-9.

Patriots at Bears: The Pats once again put together the best game of the season on Monday night. If you thought their dismantling of the Steelers a few weeks ago was impressive, the Pats one-upped themselves with the 45-3 whipping of the Jets. This week will be different. Soldier Field is a tough place to play usually, but the weather is expected to be a “factor”. With the cold temperatures and the wind blowing, whoever can run the ball and not turn the ball over will win this game. Devin Hester might be a difference maker with his returns as field position will be at a premium. The Pats defense, except last week, hasn’t been that great. They are 19th against the run and 31st overall. The good news is that their 31st ranked pass defense has a 12th man with that blustery wind. But the weather is going to work both ways and the Bears rush defense is dominating (2nd in NFL) and their running game has been better than the Pats since they committed to the run about a month ago. If the Pats didn’t play Monday night, weren’t on the road, and didn’t look so good last week, there would be more of a debate on who would win. But with all of those factors in play, the Pats are due; maybe overdue for a letdown after this tremendous run they’ve been on since losing to Cleveland five weeks ago. The Bears are the pick because of all those reasons, especially being at home.

Dolphins at Jets: So are the Jets frauds? They are 1-3 against teams with winning records and 8-0 against teams .500 and below. That stat doesn’t mean they’re frauds, just that they win the games they are supposed to and struggle, like everybody against the good teams. The Jets are a good team; the Dolphins just haven’t gotten going this season as they’re 1-5 against those teams with a winning record. The Jets get back on track this week as the Dolphins don’t have anything to play for after last week’s final minute loss to the Browns.

Broncos at Cardinals: This game’s in the desert, but I nominate this game to be snowed out, with no makeup date. The Broncos have a new coach after firing Josh McDaniels on Monday. The difference between the Broncos and the two other teams that fired their coaches is that the Broncos are not, and were not expected to be a playoff team. But owner Pat Bowlen is looking for a spark (and a few wins) to give the fans hope for next season (and a desire to renew season tickets). The Cardinals stink and will start rookie quarterback John Skelton. Heads, Broncos, Tails, Cardinals. Heads. Broncos are the pick.

Chiefs at Chargers: This should have been a great matchup, but breakout star QB Matt Cassel is out for the Chiefs after an emergency appendectomy earlier this week. He didn’t even make the flight to San Diego. That means Brodie Croyle, with his 0-9 starting record, takes the reins this week for the first place Chiefs. The good news for the Chiefs is that this game isn’t for first. The Raiders took care of that by running over the Chargers last week. This could be the secret to the Chiefs success this week. Newly signed RB Jamaal Charles (5 yrs/$32.5mil) must be licking his chops after the Raiders ran for 251 yards against the top ranked Chargers defense. The first matchup between these two in KC was a hard hitting affair on the opening Monday night. This one should see much of the same type of physical play. The Chiefs can make a statement that they are a legitimate contender in the AFC, not just the West, with a sweep of the preseason favorite Chargers. Brodie Croyle or not, the Chiefs go in and smash the Chargers to end the Chargers season. Expect 125+ out of Charles on the ground.

Eagles at Cowboys: Michael Vick in Primetime in Jerry’s World. This could get ugly. The Eagles sent the Cowboys packing with a blowout win to end the 2008 season. The Cowboys returned the favor last year, winning in week 17 and in the wild card round of the playoffs against the Eagles to end their season. The Cowboys are 3-1 with Jason Garrett as interim coach. They’ve beat both Mannings and Detroit, while losing to the Saints in a game they should have won. The Eagles and Vick are rolling along, with wins in 4 out of their last 5 games. They also beat both Mannings. This is the first of two between these two teams in the final four games. The Bears showed how to “contain” the Eagles and Vick with Julius Peppers chasing Vick all over the field. The Cowboys have a similar talent in DeMarcus Ware. If Ware can get after Vick continuously, the Cowboys could have some defensive success. The Cowboys are without super rookie wide out Dez Bryant, who broke his ankle last week. But the Eagles pass defense is hurt as well, with Asante Samuel listed as questionable and likely to miss the game. If Samuel doesn’t play, the Cowboys passing game could be more effective. Overall, this should be a shootout, much like the Cowboys game at Indy last week. If their defense can turn Vick over a few times, they will win. But expect Vick to run for over 60 yards and pass for over 350 as the Eagles end the Cowboys ultra-faint playoff hopes of this season.

Pro Football Week 13 Sunday Recap

Some thoughts on yesterday’s pro football games while wondering if the Bengals would fall for the fake throw to third, throw to first pickoff play if they played baseball…

Saints beat Bengals 34-30: Really. That stupid play where the quarterback gets under center with the only objective being to get the opposing team to jump offside actually worked? Only the Bungles would fall for that one. In a game that the Saints should have lost, they pull it out because of the lack of discipline and complete ineptitude of the Bungles. The good news for Coach Marvin Lewis, Carson Palmer, and Chad Ochocinco is that they all will most likely not return to the Queen City next season. Lewis’ contract is up and the two players have expensive contracts and a severe drop-off in production. From the playoffs to 2-10 is impressive. The lack of winning problem in Cincinnati won’t be fixed until Owner/General Manager Mike Brown steps aside. The Saints do what good teams do. They win games that they have no right to win and keep moving towards another playoff berth. Carson Palmer actually played a pretty good game for the Bungles, but their defense literally gave away this game. The 9-3 Saints continue their drive to the playoffs next week against the Rams at home.

Bears beat Lions 24-20: The Lions just can’t get a break. They continue to be in almost every game they play and they play hard, but they’re now 2-10. Drew Stanton played fairly well, not turning the ball over and running for a touchdown for the Lions. The Bears keep winning, period. The defense came up big at the start of the 2nd half after Turk McBride strip-sacked Jay Cutler and recovered the ball at the Bears’ 9 yard line. The Bears defense stiffened and held the Lions to a field goal and what turned out to be the margin of victory. Other than the fumble, Cutler was really efficient despite being sacked four times. No interceptions and he completed over 80% of his passes. If Cutler can continue to play this way, their running game continues to be effective, and their defense maintains their elite play, this team could make noise in January and ruin another Super Bowl. At least it won’t rain inside Jerry’s World in February. The 9-3 Bears schedule gets tougher. In fact, their remaining schedule is the most difficult in the league. They play the Patriots at home next week, followed by at Vikings, Jets, and at the Packers.

Packers beat 49ers 34-16: The Niners kept it close for the first half but the Pack pulled away in the 3rd quarter to go to 8-4. I’m guessing the Packers had to get used to wearing those ridiculously ugly uniforms. Aaron Rodgers continues to impress, almost reaching 300 yards and throwing for 3 TDs. The Donald Driver touchdown reception was one for the ages, as football fans had to flashback, NFL Films style, to Mark Bavaro carrying a bunch of 49ers on a Monday night game in the 80’s. Troy Smith isn’t the answer for the Niners who dropped to 4-8. The Packers go on the road next week to face the hard luck Lions.

Jaguars beat Titans 17-6: The Jags keep rolling as MJD ran for 186 yards. It didn’t look like the Titans got the wake-up call for the noon start. They didn’t start playing until 1 CST, and the Jags were already up 14-0. The Titans have the short week as the struggling Colts come to town on Thursday. Another effort like yesterday and the Jeff Fisher watch will begin. The Jags are in first place by themselves and get the Raiders at home next week. Jack Del Rio is accumulating those “Coach of the Year” votes.

Chiefs beat Broncos 10-6: Yesterday was not a good day to be a Chiefs season ticket holder, except for the win. What an ugly, unexciting game in KC yesterday. But a win is a win and the Chiefs now stand at 8-4 with an outside shot a gaining the bye in the AFC playoffs. Unless the Raiders can put together a run, the Chiefs game at San Diego next week can effectively give the Chiefs the division if they win. The rest of the Chiefs’ schedule is winnable.

Browns beat Dolphins 13-10: The Dolphins are finally done after they lost to the Browns yesterday. The killer play pretty much summed up their season as Chad Henne threw a pass that was picked by the Browns’ Mike Adams with a minute remaining and returned to the Dolphins’ 2 yard line. The Browns ran the clock and kicked the winning field goal. The headline stat of this game is the Dolphins cumulative record at home this season; 1-5. How is a 6-6 team 1-5 at home? If they only took care of half of those home games they would be 8-4 and competing for a playoff berth. Now they look at a pick in the 14-18 range.

Vikings beat Bills 38-14: Is the Brett Favre era finally done? Favre was knocked out on the first passing play of the game yesterday with a shoulder injury that ended up being intercepted. But Tarvaris Jackson didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity as he threw for three interceptions himself. Adrian Peterson ran for over 100 yards and the Bills run defense was ineffective again. This is the same team that started 3-7 for Chilly? Interim coach Leslie Frazier, now 2-0, says that Favre will play if he’s cleared by the docs. With three more starts needed for 300 consecutive starts; expect #4 in the lineup next week. The Vikings are mathematically still alive and play the Giants at home next week.

Giants beat Redskins 31-7: Yuck. Some people had this as their only viewing option at 1:00 EST on Sunday. What a nightmare. This game was over early, and was painful to even glance at every 10 minutes or so. The 8-4 Giants go on the road next week to play the Wrangler Man in the Twin Cities.

Raiders beat Chargers 28-13: This one was shocking as the Raiders ambushed the Chargers early and often. The sub-par special teams play reappeared for the Chargers as the normally reliable Darren Sproles fumbled a punt and the Raiders recovered on the Chargers’ 18 yard line. That led to a Jason Campbell naked bootleg run for a 7-0 lead. On the next series, AFC Offensive Player of the Month Jacoby Ford caught a Campbell pass for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 14-0 first quarter lead. But that wasn’t the entire story of this game. The Chargers came into the game with the best offense and best defense, yardage-wise, in the league. The Raiders ran 52 times for 251 yards. The Chargers ran 8 times for 21 yards. A third-grader could figure out why the Raiders won and the Chargers lost. Hey Norv, you can run the ball more than twice a quarter. Norv has his negatives, but typically, play calling isn’t one of them, until yesterday. I’ve mentioned this before, but that Raiders offensive line has been impressive and Darren McFadden has been the beneficiary. The fourth pick in the 2008 draft is now 130 yards from his first 1,000 yard season and the Raiders are now 6-6. Next week’s game at Jacksonville should be an interesting matchup as both teams will be focused on winning the ground game. The 6-6 Chargers are now up against the wall with the first place Chiefs coming to town next week. A loss and they can make vacation plans for January. A win and they still need help.

Cowboys beat Colts 38-35: Peyton Manning threw another two pick 6’s and the Cowboys go to 3-1 under interim coach Jason Garrett. Manning looks out of whack as he’s now thrown 11 interceptions in the last 3 games. Something has to be wrong here. He’s staring down receivers and there’s no real explanation for him forcing things. The 6-6 Colts are now a game behind the Jags and will have to beat them in two weeks. But they also have a short week this week and Jeff Fisher might be making his last stand as Titans coach on Thursday in Nashville. Another bad game by Manning and a loss by the Colts will most likely knock them out of the playoff hunt. If the Cowboys had beaten the Saints, they would have an outside chance at the playoffs. But it’s not meant to be this year for them.

Rams beat Cardinals 19-6: The Rams win another road game as they even their record at 6-6. Maybe they can go 8-8 after all. Next week they face a professional team in New Orleans.

Seahawks beat Panthers 31-14: This one was scary early as the hapless Panthers held a 14-0 lead. Alas, it wasn’t their day after all. Marshawn Lynch showed up and scored 3 times to help the Seahawks get to 6-6. They play at San Francisco next week. That week 17 matchup with the Rams might be to avoid a losing record AND the division. What an impressive division!

Falcons beat Buccaneers 28-24: 53,955 fans showed up for this one in Tampa. Yawn. If all of the professional sports teams in the Tampa Bay area moved, would anybody notice? Hey LA, we have your team and they’re young and exciting, but they won’t be bringing those bright orange unis. The Falcons continue to show why they have the best record in the NFL as they fended off the upstart Bucs once again. Did any defensive player have a better game yesterday than Brent Grimes? A cornerback, Grimes made 7 tackles, knocked away 6 passes and made the clinching interception of a Josh Freeman pass with less than 2 minutes remaining. The only person who couldn’t have been impressed was Freeman, who jacked smaller Grimes up with a hit out of bounds after the pick. That followed Matt Ryan orchestrating another fourth quarter drive to give the Falcons the lead. The 67 yard drive culminated with a 9 yard pass to Michael Jenkins for 6. The Falcons are in the driver’s seat, and are currently undefeated outside of Pennsylvania. That’s important because they don’t have any more games scheduled in the Keystone State. A win against the Saints in two weeks could give them the division and home field advantage in the NFC. It’s doubtful that anybody is going into the Georgia Dome this year and beating these guys. The 10-2 Falcons have a second bye week; no make that the Panthers next week.  The 7-5 Bucs still haven’t beaten a team with a winning record and try to revive their faltering playoff hopes against the ‘Skins at FedEx next week.

Steelers beat Ravens 13-10: I think the 90 players that suited up last night for this game all feel like they were hit by a freight train when they woke up today. What a hard hitting game, complete with a broken nose for tough-guy QB Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is the embodiment of the city he plays for. Tough and resolute, he kept the Steelers alive with a gutty performance and delivered at the end when they needed him to. The stiff arm on Terrell Suggs on the first play after the Polamalu forced fumble was awesome. The Steelers figure out a way to win games, and Polamalu’s safety blitz and forced fumble of Joe Flacco was an example of the superior coaching that the Steelers have every year. Mike Tomlin empowers Dick LeBeau to coach the defense how he sees fit and he dialed up that great blind-side blitz that won the game. That might be the best defensive play call of the year as the Steelers now are in the driver’s seat in the AFC North. The 9-3 Steelers go home to face the Bungles next week. The 8-4 Ravens are now playing catch-up. They head to Houston for a game next Monday night.

Tonight’s game in Foxborough should be almost as intense as last night’s game. The Jets are talking it and if they walk it tonight, they effectively win the division since they would have swept the Pats. The Jets haven’t played aesthetically pleasing football to the eyes, but they continue to win. Their defense has made plays when they need it and Mark Sanchez has brought the Jets back from deficits three weeks in a row before their last game on Thanksgiving. The Pats are rolling since their week 9 loss in Cleveland. They hold all of the prospective AFC tiebreakers, except one. They already lost to the Jets in week 2 and they have one more AFC loss than the Jets. This week is a must win if they want to win the AFC East. If the Jets win, the Steelers would most likely control their own destiny since they get to play the Jets in week 15. There’s a lot on the line tonight for both teams, so expect some great plays on both sides. If you’re looking for a key player tonight, ex-Jet Danny Woodhead can add his name to the rivalry if he can score a few times. Woodhead began the season with the Jets, but was cut after the first game and picked up by the Pats. Woodhead has replaced the injured Kevin Faulk superbly in the Pats offense and he’s also playing well on special teams. This is the first matchup between these teams since Randy Moss was traded. It should be interesting to see how that affects the way the Jets play defense against the revamped Patriots offense. Tom Brady looked out of sorts during the week 2 loss in New Jersey and that performance most likely led to Moss’ departure as Brady was trying to force it to the wide receiver too much. As for the result, tonight I like the Patriots at home. This should be higher scoring than last night’s game, but it should have a lot of the same emotion and passion from both teams.

Post Week 13 MVP ballot (If I had one):

1. Michael Vick QB Eagles: He’s been too good to ignore. The Eagles might not even be a playoff team without him.

2. Tom Brady QB Patriots: The QB with the Bieber haircut is playing like he did from 2001-2004 and the Patriots might be headed back to their postseason dominance.

3. James Harrison LB Steelers: He’s been fined a king’s ransom, but he’s the best player on the most intimidating defense in the league. Most impressive stat: 6 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. There isn’t an opposing receiver in the league that doesn’t know where Harrison is when they are crossing the middle of the field.

My Super Bowl pick, this week, is the Patriots to beat the Falcons. That’s sure to change, as usual.

And with that, I “Turn Out The Lights” on this week’s recap. RIP Don Meredith.

NFL Week 13 Preview

Here are my thoughts on this week’s NFL slate of games while I keep my eyes peeled trying to protect myself from a James Harrison cheap shot…

Thursday’s review first:

Eagles beat Texans 34-24: What were the refs doing after Brent Celek’s caught the ball with 6:20 left on the game clock in the 4th quarter? The play ended up being reviewed, but only after Andy Reid threw the red flag at 5:10 remaining!!! Are you kidding me? How do the clearly inept Gary Kubiak and his crack staff not notice this? The NFL.com play-by-play recap shows that play starting at 6:36 and the next play starting at 4:56. This is amazing. But even if they played for 90 minutes, the Texans would have found a way to mail it in. As for the game, the Eagles got out early and turned the Texans into a one-dimensional passing team with Matt Schaub getting hit and chased often. Mike Vick continues to play well and every game that he walks off the field healthy gets the Eagles closer to a possible Super Bowl and Vick closer to the most improbable league MVP award in league history. LeShon McCoy had a very good game scoring on a rush and a reception. He was very effective catching the ball out of the backfield. It will be interesting, however, if this “soft” type of offense will stand up to the rigors of NFC football in the north during December and January. The Eagles get extra time to get ready for the hated Cowboys next Sunday night in Dallas. The Eagles will have an opportunity to completely end the Cowboys’ season in that one. The Texans host the Ravens on Monday night next week.

Sundays Games:

Saints at Bengals: The Bengals are counting the days until the season ends and the housecleaning begins. The Saints are revving up for another Super Bowl run. The Bengals haven’t played 60 minutes against the Jets, Buffalo, or Indy in the past 3 weeks. The Saints have won four straight and are starting to round into the form of a contender. If the Bills could score 49 against the Bungles, what can the champs do? Unless weather is a factor, the Saints win easy.

Bears at Lions: Do the Lions get payback for the week 1 robbery in Chicago? Calvin Johnson’s apparent touchdown was ruled incomplete and the seasons for these two teams continued in the direction they started on opening day. This game has the makings of a letdown for the Bears and Jay Cutler. The Lions are starting 3rd stringer Drew Stanton at QB and the Bears have had everything go well for them in the last month. Expect Cutler to throw at least 2 inexplicable interceptions and to get sacked 4-5 times. The Lions will put a huge scare in the Bears, leading into the second half. But, like the season has gone, the Bears will pull it together and get their running game going in the second half to take advantage of the Lions weak run defense and that will be the difference in the game. Bears survive a close one at Ford Field and continue to hold the first round bye in the NFC. If they don’t their schedule is the toughest in the league to finish and they might not win again.

49ers at Packers: The Pack has been playing really well. They’ve now won 4 out of 5 after losing that heartbreaker to the Falcons last week in Atlanta. The Packers have lost all four of their games by 3 points, two games in overtime. That’s pretty impressive. They also have been the last team that former head coaches Wade Phillips and Brad Childress faced before their owners asked them to return their playbooks. A pretty good argument could be made that the Packers are the best team in the NFC, but their win-loss total doesn’t reflect that. Look for the Packers to get on the Niners early and often. Frank Gore is out for the year and the Packers defense is one of the best. This game could be out of hand by midway into the 3rd quarter. Packers win by 20+ and Mike Singletary doesn’t answer his phone on Monday, especially if somebody with the last name of York is on the other end.

Jaguars at Titans: The Titans spanked the Jags back in week 6 in Jacksonville winning 30-3. That made the Titans 4-2 and they appeared to be heading toward a possible division title and playoff berth. Since then, they beat Philly and then lost the last 4 games, including last week’s 20-0 shutout at the hands of an awful Texans defense. To add insult to injury, that was the game when Andre Johnson gave Courtland Finnegan a beat down of his own. Don’t expect Jeff Fisher to allow his guys to play flat this week. It looks like Kerry Collins will be back and that means their 3rd stringer, whoever he is, won’t be starting. Mike-Sims Walker is out for the Jags, who are fairly healthy as left tackle Eugene Monroe returns from a concussion. The Jags gave one away against the Giants last week. Look for the Jags to pound the Titans with MJD early and often, mixing in short to intermediate passes to Marcedes Lewis and Mike Thomas. This should be a vintage ball control type game on both sides, with the Titans running Chris Johnson. Kenny Britt might return as well for the Titans and the Jags secondary is the weakest part of their team. This could be the week that Randy Moss breaks out, especially with former Raider teammate Collins throwing to him. This should be a slugfest, maybe overtime, but the hardnosed Titans will win by a field goal late to keep their season alive. The Titans have a short week with the Colts coming to town on Thursday.

Broncos at Chiefs: Broncos 49, Chiefs 29. That was three weeks ago. No postgame handshake by Todd Haley for Honest Josh McDaniels. This week should and will be much different. Maybe not the score for the winning team, but the Chiefs will win by 3 touchdowns or more. They’re 5-0 at home and they have revenge on their mind. That last game was a fluke.

Browns at Dolphins: The Browns will start Jake Delhomme in place of the injured Colt McCoy. Enough said. The Dolphins continue to keep their faint playoff hopes alive at home with a win.

Bills at Vikings: Evidently Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson didn’t learn his lesson last week as he clearly placed the blame for his game losing drop in the wrong place. Don’t expect that stunt to gain him any favors this week either as that wasn’t the humble response that was desired. The Vikings won their first game for interim coach Leslie Frazier. Brett Favre looked so excited that he might want to return next season. Just keep him away from a cell phone after he gets out of the shower. The Vikings are still a solid team and if Adrian Peterson can go, he might outdo Rashard Mendenhall’s 150+ yards on the ground last week in Buffalo. If Peterson can’t go, it will be ex-Stanford great Toby Gerhart that gets to run wild. Favre is motivated to prove that Childress stunk and it was Chilly’s fault that the Vikings kept losing. So expect another solid Favre performance and a win for the Vikings and keep their fading playoff hopes alive.

Redskins at Giants: Great old-time rivalry game with a new venue in New Jersey. The Giants need a win badly as their remaining schedule is almost as tough as the Bears. The Giants have been injured as much as anybody and they will still be without 3/5’s of their O-line and their 2 starting wide outs. The Redskins have a chance to help ruin the Giants season. Do they have it in them as the weather gets colder and their postseason chances get more remote? The ‘Skins can actually control their own destiny over the Giants as they’re 2 behind them with 2 games coming up against the G-Men. This should be a spirited game on both sides, but although the Giants are undermanned because of injury, the Redskins are just undermanned. The Giants will pull this out in the fourth quarter to get to 8-4 and remain tied with the Eagles.

Raiders at Chargers: Another revenge game in the AFC West as the Raiders got the better of the Chargers in week 5. The Raiders have been awful away from Oakland, going 1-4 on the road. The Chargers are 4-1 at home and they’ve won four straight overall. A solid argument can be made for Philip Rivers as the league MVP should the Chargers make the playoffs. For the Raiders, Jason Campbell has Tom Cable’s job security in his hands for the rest of the season after they put Bruce Gradkowski on IR. The Raiders moved into a first place tie three weeks ago after beating the Chiefs in overtime and have lost the past two weeks. The Chargers still have the #1 ranked offense and defense in the league which shouldn’t help the Raiders. If the Chargers can keep Jacoby Ford in check on kick returns, this one should be relatively easy for them. Vincent Jackson probably won’t play, but Rivers continues to find open receivers. Chargers win by two scores.

Cowboys at Colts: Here’s a pair of teams that didn’t expect to be a combined 9-13 at this point in the season. The Cowboys come off Roy Williams giving away the Turkey Day game and the Colts got destroyed by the Bolts last week at home. Peyton Manning has thrown 7 interceptions in the last 2 weeks. The Colts are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The Colts have been banged up for awhile now, but might get Mike Hart back after missing the last 4 games. Don’t expect Manning to continue his poor play. If the Cowboys are to win this one on the road for interim coach Jason Garrett, they will have to run the ball effectively against the Colts smaller defensive front. If the Cowboys don’t want to play ball control, this game could turn into a shootout with the Cowboys secondary having had some bad games already this season. Reggie Wayne has only scored 4 times this season and only twice in the past 9 games. Look for Wayne to score at least once, probably on troubled corner Mike Jenkins, and the Colts to survive a high scoring game in Indy to go to 7-5.

Rams at Cardinals: Ugh. Another horrendous NFC West matchup. Can’t these teams just go away? How about just fast forwarding until the postgame news conference so we can hear the wisdom of Derek Anderson again? Hey Derek, leave the laughing during Cardinals’ games to us, will you? Oh, this week’s game. The Rams might have broken through last week in Denver, or they might have just done a good job of keeping the Broncos film crew out of their practice facility last week. Either way, Sam Bradford is looking like a legitimate future star and somebody who might someday win another Super Bowl for the Rams. Derek Anderson? He looks like somebody that we’ll be Youtubing for years after last Monday night’s postgame performance. The Cardinals have a solid coaching staff, but sometimes you can’t make chicken salad out of you know what. The Rams get back-to-back road wins for the first time since 2007 and the Cardinals are now looking to get “Lucky“.

Panthers at Seahawks: Time for the weekly “Panthers stink” comment. Could there actually be two 6-6 teams tied at the top of the NFC West after this week? If there aren’t, then the Rams probably lost because the, um, Panthers stink. Seattle wins easy to get back to .500.

Falcons at Buccaneers: The Bucs haven’t sold out this game or any home game this season. This is a ridiculous statistic for the worst sports city in America. Yes it is and the Rays have my back on that. As for the game, the Bucs have an exciting, up-and-coming team that has an opportunity to make the playoffs this season. The Falcons haven’t lost outside of Pennsylvania this season. The problem with the Bucs on the field, however, is that the best team that they’ve beaten is the Rams. They are 0-4 against teams with a winning record and the Falcons have the best record in the league. The Falcons come in with a 5 game winning streak and it would be easy to envision number six, but the last game between these two came down to a bad play call that took the ball out of Josh Freeman’s hands on a 4th and 1 inside the five yard line with a little more than two minutes remaining. If will be interesting to see if they give their young quarterback a chance to make a play in a similar situation if it comes up this week. Everybody is starting to notice the Falcons and when teams begin to get noticed, they tend to let down their guard and lose a little bit of their edge. The Bucs are young and hungry will play hard in spite of the empty seats at Raymond James Stadium. This one should be as close and exciting as the previous game, but with the Bucs coming out with a late Josh Freeman comeback win to make them 8-4. The Falcons have a really favorable schedule after this and their game against the Saints in week 16 should decide the division.

Steelers at Ravens: This should be the hardest hitting game of the season. Everything rides on this game in the AFC North, especially for the Steelers. The Ravens beat the Steelers in week 4 before Ben Roethlisberger came back from his suspension. Big Ben is now hurting, but plans to suck it up with a couple of leg injuries, including a broken foot. The key for the Steelers will be establishing Rashard Mendenhall to take the pressure of Big Ben and try to wear down the aging Ravens defense. The Ravens face the always stout Steelers run defense. Although Ray Rice will probably not have a great game, the Ravens can utilize him to get into more manageable 2nd and 3rd down situations that will help make their play calling unpredictable. But it will be Joe Flacco and the passing game that will determine the winner of this one. Whoever wins the turnover battle will win this game. Flacco turned the ball over twice in the first game, but the Ravens prevailed because the Steelers offense couldn’t get going. The Steelers offense will be better with Big Ben playing this week. This one should be close, if not tied, after the two minute warning and who converts in the 2-minute offense will win this game. Broken foot or not, Big Ben is as good as anybody who has ever played the game in this type of situation and the Steelers will pull one out in Baltimore to take control of the AFC North at 9-3.

NFL Week 12 Preview

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Here are my thoughts on this week’s NFL slate of games while I wonder if the Broncos are videotaping me right now…

Thursday’s games review first:

Patriots beat Lions 45-24: The Pats took care of business after finding themselves down at halftime 17-10. The Lions put up a good fight, but losing the turnover battle 2-0 and Tom Brady’s perfect play were too much to overcome on Turkey Day. Brady to Branch looked like old times and the running game was effective enough (25 car/109 yds) to provide the balance that kept the Lions on their heels defensively. This game looked dangerous for the Patriots early, but they continue to show that they’re one of the best teams in the league. At 9-2, they face the Jets in Foxboro next Monday night. The Lions are 2-9 and hoping that Matthew Stafford can one day put together a healthy season.

Saints beat Cowboys 30-27: The Cowboys are still a team that makes critical mistakes at key points in the game as Roy Williams’ fumble with about 3 minutes remaining in the game. The strip and recovery by the Saints’ Malcolm Jenkins of Williams illustrates that difference between a defending Super Bowl champion that could be going back and a team that got its coach fired at the halfway point this season and “expected” to be playing in the Super Bowl this season. Like most NFL games, the Cowboys lost the turnover battle by one, and lost the game. The Saints did a great job of preventing the Cowboys from sustaining a rushing attack as most of the Cowboys’ yards on the ground came on Miles Austin’s 60 yard run at the beginning of the 3rd quarter and 20 yards scrambling by Jon Kitna. Felix Jones and Marion Barber combined for less than 3 yards per carry. The Saints weren’t great, but they won and are now 8-3 after starting 4-3. The next two weeks are very winnable, at Cincinnati and home to St. Louis before the final three tough games. The Cowboys will continue to scout the best offensive linemen in college.

Jets beat Bengals 26-10: Steady as she goes for the Jets as they win again. Didn’t expect the Bengals to play for 60 minutes and they really didn’t do anything after halftime. It was cold you know. Mark Sanchez came back to earth after the last few weeks, but somebody needs to tell me when Carson Palmer turned into Babe Laufenberg?  If the Bengals had Matt Leinart, they would probably bench Palmer for him, that’s how bad Palmer has become. I don’t know if TO ended up on Revis Island or Gilligan’s Island because he only had 3 catches for 17 yards. Paging Cedric Benson, paging Cedric Benson. The Bengals are easily the most disappointing team in the AFC and would be the most disappointing in the league if the Cowboys and Vikings weren’t having their seasons. It’s beginning to look like the Bengals might be on the clock soon. Andrew Luck anyone? Although nobody would feel Lucky to be a Bengal these days. The Jets are now 9-2 and the showdown with the Pats looms a week from Monday. Can’t wait.

Sundays Games:

Packers at Falcons: Here’s the game of the week in Atlanta. The winner of this game will probably have the inside track on home field advantage in the NFC. The Packers were bitten by the injury bug early in the season but have gotten reasonably healthy which has helped them develop some consistency on both sides of the ball. The Packers have been impressive in winning four straight, if beating Dallas and Minnesota twice can be impressive (they did beat the Jets in week 8). The Falcons have won 4 straight as well since losing in Philly. The Falcons still have not lost outside of Pennsylvania this season. The Packers defense has been great, giving up a total of 10 points in their last 3 games. The key this week for the Pack will be stopping Michael Turner and turning the Falcons offense one dimensional. While Ryan to White has been great, Charles Woodson might be able to keep White from breaking the big plays that have sparked the Falcons to their 8-2 start. The running game might be the key on the other side as the Falcons are stout against the run and the Packers have struggled at times with Ryan Grant out for the season. This could eventually turn into a shootout if the Packers can’t run. Look for a slow offensive start while each team doesn’t take any risks and then things should open up a bit after one team gets out in front. The pick is for the Falcons to be the ones to get out in front and they’ll win behind Michael Turner grinding out first downs in the fourth quarter to remain in charge of the NFC at 9-2.

Steelers at Bills: The Bills have won two in a row after starting 0-8. The Steelers got back on track last week against the Raiders and should eventually overwhelm the Bills. One chance the Bills have is if they can give Ryan Fitzpatrick time, the Steelers have been vulnerable to passing teams this season. Unfortunately the Bills are probably lacking too much everywhere else to challenge the Steelers. The Steelers are the pick.

Panthers at Browns: Jake Delhomme starts for the injured Colt McCoy against his old team. The Panthers stink (every week), and the Browns have played hard, but have been unlucky. The Browns should change that this week and get the win.

Jaguars at Giants: Here are two teams that are heading in different directions. The teams are also coached by the only two head coaches in Jaguars history. The Giants offensive line is a mess, Shawn Andrews is doubtful after missing practice this week with a bad back. The Giants are also missing their starting receivers and are going to former first round pick and UFL player Michael Clayton for some help. The Jaguars are living a charmed life, even better than the Jets. A last second 59 yard field goal beat the Colts in week 4; a Hail Mary beat the Texans two weeks ago and last week they overcame 6 turnovers to beat the Browns. MJD has an abdominal injury but is expected to play. The Giants played well defensively against the Eagles last week, but you wonder if their offense will be able to be as dominate as they have been in the past without all of those lineman and receivers. The NFL season is a war of attrition and the Giants, right now, are the big losers. That’s why the first place Jaguars will remain in first with a win in Jersey.

Vikings at Redskins: The Leslie Frazier era begins for the Vikings at FedEx Field on Sunday. If they lose will the Favre era end? For those of you questioning Donovan McNabb, the skill position players on the Redskins wouldn’t start at Boise State. I’m not kidding. Expect the Vikings to play looser and harder for Frazier and begin a modest winning streak like the Cowboys with Jason Garrett. This trend will catch the eye of other owners and GMs and will undoubtedly cost some coach his job. It’s a copycat league you know.

Titans at Texans: Is this Vince Young’s former team against his future team? Not if Bob McNair is smarter than Bud Adams. Adams’ fascination with Young might cost him one of the best coaches in the league. It will be interesting to see if things go downhill eventually for the Titans as they are a loss away from really being out of it as far as playoffs go. The Texans are on life support as they really need to win out and might need help after that. It all looked so good for Houston on opening day, but they seem to be snake bit with four straight losses, the last two excruciating. The fans should be ready to face their former Oilers and help give the Texans a boost. They can’t get their heart ripped out again, can they? The Texans stop their 4 game slide against a quarterback I’ve never heard of and the Jeff Fisher rumor mill heats up. Get well and good luck, Mike Heimerdinger.

Dolphins at Raiders: The Dolphins get Chad Henne back, but Brandon Marshall didn’t make the trip to Oakland. The Raiders got beat up and embarrassed at Heinz last week so they’ll look to some hometown inspiration in the stands on Sunday. The Raiders have played well at home, going 4-1. But the Dolphins are 4-1 on the road and the Raiders were exposed a little last week. The Dolphins are banged up, but they had a few extra days off after the Thursday night game against the Bears. The Dolphins are typically well coached and their lack of a running game against the Bears will refocus them on ball control and winning the battles on the line of scrimmage. They are a desperate team who probably needs to win out and get to 11 wins to have any chance of making the playoffs. The Raiders are still trying to shake that recent history of losing. Look for a lot more running with Marshall out and the Dolphins to control the clock and win the game.

Chiefs at Seahawks: The Chiefs 1-4 road record is a little skewed since three of those losses were to Indy, Houston when they were good, and the Raiders in overtime. Nothing embarrassing there. Except the Bronco game last time on the road. With the Chargers breathing heavily on their neck, the Chiefs need to start winning on the road. Matt Hasselbeck is wearing a club on his left arm from his broken hand. Mike Williams is questionable with a foot injury. This is the week that the Chiefs get well on the road and win.

Eagles at Bears: Are the Bears for real? We’re going to find out on Sunday when the Birds come to town. Michael Vick is the 10 game MVP of the league and the Eagles are everybody’s pick to win the NFC right now (not me). Bad news for the Eagles as Asante Samuel won’t play. The Bears are abnormally healthy as only one player is listed on the injured list, and he didn’t miss practice time. The Bears have taken advantage of a soft schedule to get to 7-3; they’ve only played two teams with a winning record. The Eagles are rolling in the three games since their bye week and have a chance to capture another potential tiebreaker against the Bears. This might be the last tough game they have as the rest of the schedule is a smorgasbord of interim coaches (Cowboys X2, Vikings), maybe interim coach (Houston), and the beat up Giants who might be fielding a UFL team come week 15. The Bears need to get a big pass rush this week from Julius Peppers and company in addition to keeping DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in front of their safeties. The Giants showed last week that you can slow the Eagles down a bit by making them one dimensional by stopping the run. The Bears are second in the league against the run and stopping Leshon McCoy early could be huge. Once again, with colder weather expected in Chicago, a strong running game might be the key in this one. The Bears haven’t run really well, but they’ve made a firm commitment in recent weeks to the running game and have controlled the clock and limited Jay Cutler’s sacks. This should prove to be the key to this game. The Bears win a close one, maybe in overtime in what could be the Eagles last loss of the regular season. Don’t expect either team to go over 20 points.

Rams at Broncos: The Broncos got destroyed on Monday night and this week fired their video guy for illegally taping the 49ers practice in London a few weeks ago. Everything seems to be unraveling for the Broncos and coach Josh McDaniels. The Rams haven’t won a road game, and they might not have to in order to win the worst division in sports, the NFC West. The opportunity is there for Sam Bradford to have his best passing day as a pro. Can he do it on the road? The Rams pass defense isn’t that good and Kyle Orton has been lighting up defenses all season. The Broncos are the pick to erase the bad memories of the past 6 days.

Buccaneers at Ravens: This should be a good, hard fought game. The young Bucs seem to come across a different challenge every week. This time it’s the battle tested Ravens and their experienced defense. The Ravens defense hasn’t been dominating this season, but they still hit as hard as anybody. While Ray Rice has been quiet for most of the year, the Bucs run defense is not good. If the Ravens can commit to 30 carries by Ray Rice, this should be a win for the home team. Inexperienced offenses tend to struggle, especially in the passing game against the Ravens who have a lot of ball hawks sitting back in the zone reading the quarterback. If Terrell Suggs and company can get consistent pressure on Josh Freeman, it could be a long day for the budding star. The weather won’t be wintry, but it’s going to be a lot colder than the Bucs are used to playing in. The Bucs will play hard and might surprise the Ravens at times, but the Ravens should control this game from start to finish and win by two scores.

Chargers at Colts: The Chargers are streaking, as they’ve won three straight and are just a game behind the Chiefs for first place. The Colts have struggled, losing two of three in tough road games at Philly and New England. The question about the Chargers is: Can you beat a good team? The only good team they beat was Jacksonville way back in week two and the Jags weren’t yet playing well. The Colts showed some really good signs late last week before Peyton Manning threw his third (??!!) interception of the game. Sanders and Collie are out for the Colts who will probably without Joseph Addai again as well. But don’t expect Manning to throw three picks again. The only thing rarer than a consistent Norv Turner team is Peyton Manning putting together back to back bad weeks. The Chargers still rank as the #1 offense and defensive team in the league in terms of yardage. Their offense loses Patrick Crayton, who played well, but gets Vincent Jackson on the field for the first time this season. Gates is still questionable and Ryan Matthews will probably not play. Even so, expect the defensive numbers on both sides to take a hit as this game is destined to be played in the 30s or 40s. And when Peyton Manning is involved in a shootout, I like his team to win. Colts in a close, high scoring game.

NFL Week 12 news and notes with previews of Thursday’s games

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Vince Young vs. Jeff Fisher

This has been festering over the years ever since Young was benched in favor of Kerry Collins a few years ago. Last year, owner Bud Adams forced Fisher to play Young after a 0-6 start and Young played well enough for the Titans to finish at 8-8. Fisher doesn’t like the way that Young leads the offense. This includes his leadership abilities on and off the field where Young isn’t known for his ability to spend a lot of time preparing for upcoming games. During the bye week, instead of rehabbing an injury at the team’s facility, Young went to Austin, Texas to open a new restaurant. Fisher must have been wondering why Young couldn’t have done that in the offseason. This disconnect between these two came to a head over the weekend and now Young has apologized. Well, not in person, but he texted Fisher the apology. Understandably, Fisher isn’t enamored with Young’s method of communication.

Fisher has tried to push this situation off until the offseason, but the media isn’t letting it go. Eventually the interest will dissipate and the Titans will go on with the rest of their season. The offseason is going to include a lot of uncertainty with the labor situation and rumors are circulating that Fisher is looking to get out. Don’t believe the rumors about Fisher yet. Fisher has coached this franchise for 17 years now and owner Bud Adams knows that he has a high quality known quantity. If Adams does jettison Fisher, it will be for high draft picks. But don’t expect this until after the labor situation is resolved as Adams will not want to go into a lockout situation without a head coach on his staff or, even worse, a fired head coach collecting money from him. Expect one more year of Young and Fisher.

Favre giving more input into Vikings offense

This is an interesting situation developing with the Vikings. The first thing that interim head coach Leslie Frazier did was to announce that Brett Favre would be his starting quarterback. This wasn’t that surprising, but if Favre is able to win enough games for Frazier to keep the job after this season, Frazier is going to need a quarterback for next year. If Brad Childress was the biggest problem in Minnesota, and Favre enjoys playing for Frazier, maybe Favre decides to, um, come back for another season. This bears watching as Favre still longs to win another Super Bowl AND Favre lost both games to Green Bay this season, including last week’s embarrassment. Favre is always up in the air about his future, but playing football at the local high in his Wranglers isn’t nearly as lucrative as playing QB for the Vikings.

Thursday NFL Football:

Patriots at Lions: The Lions are home in their traditional Turkey Day game, this year playing the hot Patriots. Unfortunately for the Lions, there won’t be a repeat of the Barry Sanders show that was on display during the game between these two teams on Turkey Day 1994. Sanders was sensational during a better era of Lions football. In recent seasons, the Lions have gotten pummeled on Thanksgiving, losing by an average of 23 points in six straight losses. If the Patriots were to have a letdown week, this would be it. They’ve beaten the Steelers and Colts in back-to-back games and have the Jets coming up next week. This would be the perfect look-ahead game for New England. Unfortunately for the Lions, this isn’t a sandwich game on a Sunday in October where they might be able to ambush the Pats. Turkey Day is a national holiday and everybody in the country will be watching this before pigging out on turkey and pumpkin pie. That should be enough to get the Patriots focused and get them to 9-2.

Saints at Cowboys: If you’re looking for a possible upset on Turkey Day, it might be by the team considered to be the turkey of the year only two weeks ago. The Cowboys have now won two straight since Jason Garrett took over for Wade Phillips. A win here might get Jerry Jones delusional enough to start talking Super Bowl again. The last time these two teams played, the Saints were 13-0 and looking unstoppable. Despite the upset by the Cowboys, the Saints recovered to win the Super Bowl last season. This year the Saints have struggled at times, especially with injuries. Pierre Thomas is out and Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey are expected to not play as well. The difference in last year’s game was the Cowboys’ pass rush which unleashed both DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer on Drew Brees. The Saints had no answer for them last season, but this season Spencer has been inconspicuous all season and Ware has been short of dominant. The corners have been miserable for the Cowboys as well which makes it easier to pick the Saints despite Garrett’s impressive improvement of the Cowboys.

Bengals at Jets: The Bengals are right there with the Vikings and Cowboys as the three most disappointing teams in football this season. It seems like Carson Palmer has a killer interception weekly and the defense can’t seem to get a stop when they need it. The Jets have been the opposite, having lived a charmed life throughout this season. They’ve won every way possible and Mark Sanchez has become a clutch, come from behind superstar in the last three games. TO has been chirping about Darrelle Revis and other nonsense. Why does this guy continue to talk? When he’s not giving up on his own team he’s ripping opponents and former teammates. The word classy has three letters too many for this guy. Owens combined record since leaving Dallas is 8-18. Think about that. How inconsequential has he become? While the Cowboys have been bad this year, they won their first playoff game in 13 years after letting Owens go before last season. There are two things you can count on Thursday night. First, the Bengals receivers won’t shut up and second, the Jets will win.