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Pro Football Week 14 Sunday Recap

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Some thoughts on yesterday’s pro football games while looking for an oversized Stay Puff Marshmallow Man to walk into the Metrodome after the roof collapsed…

Giants play Vikings in Detroit at 7:20 EST on Fox (NY/MIN) and DirecTV Sunday Ticket

Favre is inactive for the game, breaking his streak of 297 consecutive starts. My guess is that he never plays again.

Giants luck out again as they did when they hosted the Saints after Katrina five years ago. The Meadowlands is actually almost 3 hours driving closer to Ford Field than the Metrodome is. Next time any Giants’ fan complains that the NFL doesn’t like them, point to the multiple instances of road games turning into home/neutral field games. How many Lions’ fans do you think will be cheering for the Vikings tonight? Do you think there are more transplanted New Yorkers or Minnesotans in the Detroit area? Oh, but the Giants have one less day to prepare for the Eagles next week. Yeah, they NEVER play the Eagles do they? I wonder how much the game plan will have changed from their first meeting THREE WEEKS ago? Stop the whining and play!

Bills beat Browns 13-6: Um. Yeah. I don’t care. Jake Delhomme losing a game isn’t headline material anymore. The good news for the Browns and their fans is that Colt McCoy will be the starter next season. The bad news for Bills fans is that Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing himself into keeping his job for next season.

Lions beat Packers 7-3: The Lions were going to get somebody, and this week they got the Packers. Aaron Rodgers suffered his second official concussion of the season and Matt Flynn is no Aaron Rodgers. Where’s Brett Favre when you need him? What was more alarming was the fact that this was the lowest scoring game of the day, yet the only one played indoors in the north. Tonight’s game at Ford Field might have more scoring each quarter than the ten points combined for the whole game yesterday. The Packers gave up 190 yards (44 to QB Drew Stanton) on the ground compared to 31 yards by the Packers (non-QBs). A solid running game was able to cover up Stanton’s atrocious QB numbers that resulted in a 39 rating. The 8-5 Packers are going to need Rodgers next weekend in Foxborough as they play the Pats on Sunday night.

Steelers beat Bengals 23-7: Carson Palmer submitted a Peyton Manning performance yesterday, without the positives. Two pick 6’s by the Steelers provided most of the margin of victory and Palmer was awful against a mediocre Steelers pass defense. Terrell Owens had 1 catch for 22 yards and Cedric Benson ran 8 times for 19 yards. Those numbers don’t usually equate to victories. Big Ben took some more hits but came through with another tough performance completing 2/3 of his passes for over 250 yards. The 10-3 Steelers are in control of the AFC North and host the Jets next week.

Buccaneers beat Redskins 17-16: The Skins find a new way to lose weekly, it seems. This week they botched an extra point with 10 seconds left. Kicker Graham Gano wasn’t guilty in that attempt, but he missed two easy field goals (34, 24 yds.) earlier. Ryan Torain wasn’t to blame either as Mike Shanahan’s newest RB find ran 24 times for 172 yards. The hero, again, for the Bucs was 2nd year QB Josh Freeman. Freeman orchestrated his 7th fourth quarter/overtime comeback victory of his career. Maybe the locals by the Bay will catch on and actually support this young, exciting team. Next week’s home game against Detroit is their first chance to change my mind about them. I’m not holding my breath.

Falcons beat Panthers 31-10: Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen apologized to the defense after the game. Only three more apologies left before Cam Newton takes over. Falcons are still the team to beat in the NFC and play at Seattle next week. That could be a look-ahead game with the showdown against the Saints the following week.

Jaguars beat Raiders 38-31: This was the best game of a rare uneventful Sunday in the NFL. Jason Campbell and Darren McFadden had huge games for the Raiders, but it wasn’t enough. My favorite rookie, Jacoby Ford, fumbled a kickoff in the 3rd quarter, leading to the Jags taking a 28-24 lead after being behind 24-14 minutes earlier. Then Ford caught a pass on the final play of the game that he should have dropped because he couldn’t get out of bounds. For the Jags, they ran, ran, and then ran some more as MJD and Rashad Jennings ran for over 100 yards each. David Garrard wasn’t great, but threw for 3 TDs and ran for 32 yards. Nobody wants to give the 8-5 Jags credit, but they keep winning and get a chance to put away the division next week in Indy. The 6-7 Raiders try to keep their faint playoff hopes alive next week against Denver.

Saints beat Rams 31-13: Malcolm Jenkins picked off Sam Bradford with less than a minute left in the first half and returned the ball 96 yards for a touchdown, making the score 21-6. That’s as close as Bradford and the Rams would get to upset the world champs. Along with Josh Brown’s 46 yard missed field goal, that 14 point turnaround was the difference in an otherwise close game. This has the potential to be the wild card round matchup in the playoffs if the Rams win the division and the Saints make the wild card. That game would be played in St. Louis. The 6-7 Rams play home next week against the Chiefs. The 10-3 Saints go to Baltimore for a tough game against the Ravens. The final three games for the Saints should toughen them up for another playoff run.

49ers beat Seahawks 40-21: Alex Smith and Bryan Westbrook had big games for the Niners. Matt Hasselbeck did not have a good game for the Seahawks. This division stinks. The Oregon Ducks would have a chance to win this division. The Niners have a quick turnaround with the Thursday night game in San Diego. The Seahawks host the Falcons.

Patriots beat Bears 36-7: Is anybody going to stop the Pats? The Patriots became the first team in league history to go five consecutive games without committing a turnover. That’s one key to winning every week. Another stat that helps: total yards for the Pats was 475, Bears was 185. That will help as well. Deion Branch’s numbers in 9 games with the Pats: 44 Receptions for 648 yards and 5 TD’s. Randy Moss’ numbers since being traded from Pats: 18/236/2. Thanks for the 3rd round pick, Chilly. Signed, BB. The Pats host the Packers next Sunday night and the Bears might have to play the Vikings outdoors at the University of Minnesota on Monday night. How cold will it be outside in Minnesota next Monday night? That sore shoulder for Favre should feel really good in that weather. Frostbite alert!

Dolphins beat Jets 10-6: This might have been the most boring game of a bad football day. Despite their best efforts, the Jets were unable to, um, trip up the Fins. The Jets outgained the Dolphins 280-131 and won the turnover battle 3-2. How did they lose? Dolphins’ punter Brandon Fields kicked 10 times for an average of 56.5 yards per punt with NO touchbacks. The 9-4 Jets are now reeling as they head to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers next week. The Dolphins have the longest of shots to make the playoffs, but they host the Bills next week to keep their season alive.

Cardinals beat Broncos 43-13: Who cares, except Jay Feely’s family? Feely kicked 5 field goals and scored a touchdown on a cool fake field goal late in the 2nd quarter. This game only affected those people who have to change the order of their mock drafts.

Chargers beat Chiefs 31-0: The Chargers gave the undermanned Chiefs a thorough beat down in San Diego yesterday. Chiefs QB Brodie Croyle just stinks, as his record as a starter is now 0-10. Former Mets pitcher Anthony Young was overheard calling Croyle a loser. The Chargers outrushed the Chiefs 207-48 and outgained the Chiefs overall 426-67. That’s 67 total yards gained on offense. A 67 yard drive might not even get you into the end zone during a possession. Needless to say, the Chiefs failed to get into the end zone all day. No word if this kept offensive coordinator Charlie Weis from being able to get his hands on a calzone at halftime. The Chiefs just need to win out and they play at the Rams next week. The Chargers host the 49ers on Thursday night.

Eagles beat Cowboys 30-27: Big plays, especially by DeSean Jackson, were the downfall for the Cowboys last night. Jackson only had four catches, but two went for 60 and 91 yards and running back LeShon McCoy ran for a 56 yard run that set up a field goal in the 3rd quarter. Then the Cowboys were unable, or unwilling to stop McCoy on the Eagles final drive of the game when McCoy ran 4 times for 50 yards to run out the clock. After a decent first half, the Cowboys defense reminded everybody how soft they are and that they need an overhaul in the offseason. They might want to start with corner Mike Jenkins, who is allergic to contact. The Eagles lack of discipline, Jackson and returner Jorrick Colvin, could be the downfall for the Eagles later on. Nobody can afford multiple personal fouls and continue to win, especially in the playoffs. BTW, Tashard Choice made a good, um, choice in getting Mike Vick’s autograph after the game. He’ll need the money that he gets on eBay for the autograph after the Cowboys cut him. The Eagles play at the Giants next week in a game that could determine the division winner. The Eagles can win the division if the Giants lose tonight and next week.

Tonight, in the real Monday night game, I like the Ravens. The Ravens are a legitimate Super Bowl contender with an outside chance at catching the Steelers to win the AFC North. The Texans are just an AFC South pretender, continually proving they can’t stop the pass and the coaching leaves little to be desired. The Texans should put Coach Gary Kubiak into a limo and send him to Denver. Bill Cowher would look good on the Texans’ sideline next season. The Texans need toughness, Andre Johnson notwithstanding.

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

1. Tom Brady QB Patriots: Flip-flopping Brady and Vick, because Brady has been historically good for the past 6 weeks, while Vick was historically good for one game.

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

3. Troy Polamalu S Steelers: Between Polamalu and James Harrison, the Steelers provide a level of intimidation that no other team enjoys defensively. It seems like every time the Steelers need a big play defensively, Polamalu is there to make it.

My Super Bowl pick, this week, remains the Patriots to beat the Falcons. That’s sure to change, but hasn’t in recent weeks.

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.

Pro Football Week 10 Sunday Recap

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Some thoughts on yesterday’s pro football games while wondering when the Vikings are going to sit Brett Favre for Tarvaris Jackson…

Bills beat Lions 14-12: The Lions ensured that they won’t be joined as a 0-16 team by losing to the Bills. I don’t know why Shaun Hill throws the ball out of the endzone on the 2-point conversion play at the end. Totally moronic. Put the ball up for grabs at least. An interception doesn’t even count against him in the stats. The race for the #1 pick just got tighter as the Bills now hold a possible tiebreaker over the Lions and are tied with the Panthers. I’m not even interested in who either team plays next week as it’s irrelevant.

Bears beat Vikings 27-13: This was disappointing to watch after last week’s spirited comeback by #4. The ‘Ol Gunslinger just looked old and his slipping receivers didn’t help him. Two ints came on plays where the receivers fell and it just wasn’t meant to be in his “final” season. I don’t normally like what I see out of the Bears, but they continue to win. Jay Cutler was inconsistent as usual but was good enough to make some big plays to get the Bears the win. Although the Bears don’t run well, the commitment is exactly what I’ve been asking for and running it 38 times for 130 yards is only 3.4 per carry, but it helped to dominate the time of possession by 9 minutes. On the other side, the Bears defense was tremendous in stopping Adrian Peterson for only 51 yards on 17 carries and forcing 4 Favre turnovers (3 ints, 1 fumble). That had to be sweet to the Bears and the Chicago faithful as they’ve never had any love for the Wrangler Man. The Bears try to continue their charmed life on Thursday against the Dolphins in Miami. A win in Miami and I’ll start taking the Bears seriously as a real contender in the NFC. The Vikings season is on life support as Favre will face his ex-team, the Packers, for the final time (wink, wink). Now Favre wants us to know that he’s not completely healthy. Any other excuses?

Jets beat Browns 26-20: Both teams tried to give this one away as Nick Folk missed 3 field goals, including 2 chip shots from 25 and 27 yards. The Browns did give it away as they just couldn’t tackle Mark Sanchez in addition to Chansi Stuckey fumbling in overtime after catching a ball in field goal range. Colt McCoy continues to look like a veteran, especially on that game tying drive in the closing minutes of regulation. It looked like this was going to be the first tie game this season until Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes on a quick slant pass for a 37 yard touchdown reception with 16 seconds remaining in overtime. It’s hard to believe that Cleveland couldn’t play a prevent style defense to keep a long play from happening since Folk was awful all day. The Jets haven’t played particularly well in recent weeks but now have the best record in the AFC. That’s typically the mark of a good team when they can win without their “A” game. The Jets go home to face to reeling Texans next week. With that Texan defense coming to town, we could see a Mark Sanchez breakout, big number performance. The Browns travel to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. Their schedule gives them an outside chance at 8-8, but I think 7-9 would be solid for this team as well.

Colts beat Bengals 23-17: The Bengals showed a lot more heart than I expected. Well, except for TO who decided to not even attempt to catch a Carson Palmer pass with just under 10 minutes remaining. The Colts had this one gift wrapped for them they won the turnover battle 5-0. It is tough to beat the Colts any week, much less when you turn it over to them 5 times. You get the feeling that the Bengals are going to look remarkably different next year. I think Palmer, Coach Lewis, Ochocinco, and TO will all be gone. Lewis doesn’t have a contract and there’s been no talk of an extension. Next week should be a win at home against TO’s team from last year, Buffalo. The Colts need to play better next week when they travel to Foxboro to play the Patriots. If they lose the turnover battle next week like this week, they might lose by 5 touchdowns.

Dolphins beat Titans 29-17: Very impressive win for the Dolphins who really needed to beat a playoff contender. It was costly as both Chads who play QB, Henne and Pennington, were lost most likely for the season with injuries. Third string QB Tyler Thigpen takes over and he looked fairly good in his quarter of play. What are crazy are the names of the quarterbacks that are being looked at: Jamarcus Russell, Chris Simms, and it looks like they’re about to sign Patrick Ramsey. I’m interested to see if and when Pennington becomes an offensive coach in the league. I think he could move right into a QB coach role and move up to offensive coordinator within five years. I expect to see him as a head coach in the NFL within ten years; he’s got that kind of understanding of the game. He’s not playing QB in the NFL at his age because of his physical prowess.  The Titans put up a dud of a performance after picking up Randy Moss last week. In two games at Miami, Moss totaled one catch for 26 yards. I’m starting to think that this might be his last year because he’s sort of the Allen Iverson of the NFL and when those guys can’t play great enough to overcome their distractions, things go downhill really fast. Moss was a very good basketball player in high school playing with Jason Williams of the Heat. Perhaps he can join Iverson in Turkey to play a little hoop? I’ve got one question for Jeff Fisher. When you’re not passing well, how do you limit Chris Johnson to 17 carries when he’s running for almost 7 yards per carry? The Titans try to get back on track next week at home against the Redskins. The Dolphins never get a break and next week it’s the enigmatic Bears at home on Thursday.

Buccaneers beat Panthers 31-16: Predictably, the Bucs took care of business against the hapless Panthers. The Bills win helps tighten up the race for the first pick with the Panthers. The Bucs displayed a solid, diverse running game featuring the Cadillac and rookie LaGarrette Blount. Josh Freeman was extremely efficient and prolific passing the ball. He’s going to be a star for years to come. The Bucs get another cross-country trip to San Francisco next week. They need to keep winning games like these in order to be competing for a playoff spot at Christmas time. Their schedule is pretty favorable and I think that they should be at least a 10 win team this season.

Jaguars beat Texans 31-24: Hail Mary! What a finish in north Florida. I knew this would be a great finish when I heard Gus Johnson on the play-by-play. That guy is unbelievable in how he ends up calling the most exciting games. Can the Texans get any positive play out of their defense? Perhaps owner Bob McNair needs to put the PEDs back into the locker room. MJD ran for 100 yards and Garrard continues his renaissance with over 300 yards passing. They’re not dominating, but they seem to have something special going on down there. More wins like this and Magic Johnson won’t be snooping around the owner’s box with proposals to buy the team. When things are going well, the schedule usually doesn’t give teams any favors and the Texans season might be on the line next week when they play at the Jets. A 4-6 record is a tough hole to climb out of when you don’t have a defense. The Jags play the Browns at home. We’re going to find out if they have staying power because the Browns will be a challenging opponent next week.

Broncos beat Chiefs 49-29: Did these teams switch uniforms? This looked a lot like what the Raiders did to the Broncos a few weeks back. The Chiefs are an abysmal 1-4 on the road and won’t win the division if that continues. They’ve now lost 4 out of their last 6 after starting the season 3-0. Next week against the Cardinals at home is as must a win as possible. The Broncos still aren’t going to suck me back in, unless they turn to Tebow full time. Next week’s game at San Diego should bring them back to earth.

Cowboys beat Giants 33-20: Tom Coughlin this is the front desk with your wakeup call! Coughlin should be his upbeat, cheery self when the Giants go back to practice on Wednesday. The Cowboys practiced in pads last week in preparation for this game and I wouldn’t be surprised if Coughlin went that route this week. The Giants actually outgained the Cowboys, but that should have been expected when the Cowboys cornerbacks were all banged up. It’s too bad the scoreboard didn’t reset when the power went out.  This game would have been a lot closer had the Giants not lost the turnover battle 3-1. Interim coach Jason Garrett impressed in his first week in charge and a run of results like yesterday might earn him the job permanently (well, nothing’s really permanent with Jerry Jones except the GM). The Giants went from the experts pick for the NFC champion going into yesterday to going on the road to Philly next week looking at another potential division loss. The Cowboys are probably going to win a few more games this season and the potential high draft choice will diminish. It will be interesting to see how well Romo plays for Garrett as the head coach if he returns this season.

Seahawks beat Cardinals 36-18: The Seahawks bounce back with a big game from ancient quarterback (at least he looks ancient) Matt Hasselbeck in Glendale against the Cards. Hasselbeck broke a few bones in his left wrist but will continue to play. It’s obvious that Pete Carroll had his guys “jacked up” for this one. The 5-4 Seahawks head to New Orleans next week to face the Super Bowl champs. I think trying to stay healthy should be the goal for that one. I think Carroll would take a 5-5 record after next week as long as the team doesn’t get hurt. The Cards get to play at the Chiefs next week.

49ers beat Rams 23-20: The Niners benefitted from a pass interference call in overtime to put them into field goal range for the win. The Niners are now 3-6 and possibly alive again in the Pac-10, um, NFC West. It’s a good thing they’re not in the Pac-10 because I don’t think they could beat Oregon. The Rams looked like they might have the best team in the division but they are now 4-5. The Rams host the high flying Falcons next week. The Niners host the Bucs in a game that they must have if they think they can make a run.

Patriots beat Steelers 39-26: Boy, the Pats came back last night after their dud last week in Cleveland. The Steelers have looked “Super” all season long until the Patriots went into Hines Ward, um, Heinz Field and whipped the Black and Gold. Tom Brady had arguably his best game since coming back from knee surgery following the 2008 season. The young Patriots defense stepped up and played physical and knocking out Ward with a hard hit in the first quarter really set the tone for the evening. By the way, when you have a classic uniform like the Steelers, why do you show up for a great matchup wearing those old black unis with the mustard stains on them? Some teams can pull off the retro jerseys, the Steelers can’t. The only downer for the Patriots is Shaynk Graham, their new kicker who replaced the injured Gostkowski and missed an extra point last night. I liked the way the Steelers kept coming despite their deficit. What was amazing was the lack of running from the Steelers; they only ran 16 times for 76 yards. That’s not Steelers football. The Steelers try to get back on track next week against the Raiders at home. Oh, the classic Raiders and Steelers rivalry is renewed. I can hear the NFL Films music right now. Where’s Stabler and Bradshaw? Mean Joe and Tatum? Madden and Noll? Well, I guess we do get the Cable Guy. Hopefully the Raiders fly in Violator. The Pats go home to play another one of their Belichick era rivals, the Colts. Brady and Manning next week a year after the 4th and 2 play call from Belichick. The Colts put together a Patriots in Cleveland type performance yesterday so I would expect them to bounce back and the Pats can’t possibly play as well as yesterday, can they?

Tonight I like the Redskins and Powerball winner Donovan McNabb. The Redskins come off a bye and the Eagles are the buzz of the league with Michael Vick at quarterback. Perfect storyline for a surprise result and I think McNabb rewards Shanahan and Snyder with a top performance and possibly a comeback win. This should be another great NFC East matchup.

You won’t find many bigger McNabb supporters than me, but $78 million over 5 years? I think he must have had the most productive bye week in NFL history. He was out of shape, injured, and didn’t have command of the playbook two weeks ago and now he’s got one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history. The Redskins are definitely overpaying for him, but don’t discount the stability that they feel he will bring to the team for the next 3-5 years and the ability to double as the “face of the franchise”. The Daniel Snyder ownership era has been marked by a lot of negativity and having a high character guy like McNabb as that face of the Redskins is extremely important when you need to rebuild the goodwill with Redskins Nation. As Buffalo, Cleveland, Oakland and others have shown, it’s not easy to get a top 10-15 quarterback in the NFL. When you do, you’re going to pay a premium, whether they go to Super Bowls or not. Remember, McNabb has played in 5 NFC championship games and in one Super Bowl.

My Super Bowl pick this week is, well, cheesy. I like the Bob Kraft owned Patriots to beat the Packers.

NFL Week 10 Preview

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Here are my thoughts on this week’s NFL slate of games while I try to get over the reports that this will be, sniff, sniff (snicker?), Brett Favre’s last season…

Thursday night review first:

Falcons beat Ravens 26-21: This was a pretty entertaining game that went to the end. A couple of borderline calls and non-calls by the officials during the Falcons final drive have left the Ravens crying foul. Despite the fortunate calls on their last drive, the Falcons were fortunate to win even though they forced two turnovers. Only getting two field goals off of those turnovers almost cost them the game. The Ravens didn’t seem to be in sync all night. They started the game running the ball well on their first possession, then abandoned it until the second half. For the game they gained 116 yards on only 21 carries. Ray Rice is too good of a back to only give 12 carries when he was averaging almost 5 per carry. I think if these teams played again, the result would be different. However, I think the Falcons have shown that they are legitimate contenders for the NFC title. One other note, I was pleasantly surprised by the NFL network announcing team with Matt Millen (sorry, Detroit) and Joe Theismann. Joey T was much better without the insane banter that ESPN requires on their telecasts. With Millen and Theismann, both were able to analyze their specific sides of the ball on each play which made the analysis more informative than usual.  

Sunday’s games:

Lions at Bills: Ugh. Bills fans have to think this is their best chance at getting a crooked number in the win column. The worst part of this game for Lions’ fans? It can’t be blacked out since it’s a road game. The Lions come in without QB Matthew Stafford who hurt his shoulder again. I don’t expect to watch any of this game live, and neither should you. The pick is Buffalo to win their first game this year.

 Vikings at Bears: Brett Favre says this is his last season. If he didn’t hesitate, I might have believed him. No, I wouldn’t. When he’s on Dancing With the Stars next October like Kurt Warner was this season, then I’ll believe it. The Vikings looked like they finally put it together in the second half last week against the Cards. The Bears have no running game to speak of and going against the Vikings defense won’t help. If Jay Cutler doesn’t get rid of the ball quickly, Jared Allen could be in his face all day. Allen woke up late last week with a pair of sacks and a pass deflection at the end of the fourth quarter and in overtime. Percy Harvin has been playing well but is still bothered by migraines. He’s been listed weekly on the injured list but hasn’t missed a game yet. Minnesota’s rushing game has been good, but not great. Adrian Peterson looked like he was running with passion late last week. He’ll need to continue running like that against the 3rd ranked rushing defense in the Bears. The Bears will need some help, like a couple of Favre forced passes that end up in the hands of the defense. If Favre can limit his mistakes, the Vikings will win. I like the Vikings this week because their backs are still against the wall, and Favre knows that it could be over for him if he has a bad game.

Jets at Browns: The suddenly resurgent Browns look to take out another playoff team in the Jets. The battle of the Ryan brothers should be pretty intense given their pedigree. Colt McCoy has looked pretty good in the three starts since taking over. Mark Sanchez had a very impressive comeback last week at Detroit coming back from 10 down in the 4th quarter to force overtime and win the game. As good as the Browns have been, expect the Jets to get LT involved early and often. If the Jets can take care of the football, their defense is good enough to stop the Browns offense and wait out their eventual mistakes. I’ll take the Jets to win by two scores.

Bengals at Colts: I think last week was it for this year’s Bengals team. Losing tackle Andre Smith going into a matchup against Robert Mathis is a nightmare. Carson Palmer was under pressure all night on Monday and combination of Dwight Freeney and Mathis has probably kept him up all week. If the Bengals don’t adjust and run TO more out of the slot on quick passes over the middle, then they won’t have a lot of success on Sunday. Cedric Benson has been AWOL for much of this season as well and needs to show up Sunday. Peyton Manning struggled a little last week at Philly and its rare when he repeats that kind of performance. Getting Addai and Hart healthy is important, but probably not enough this week to keep them from winning. The only way Indy loses this game is if they’re looking ahead to the Patriots next week. I don’t see that happening.

Titans at Dolphins: The Dolphins season is on the brink and the Titans decided take a risk on Randy Moss. Randy Moss last saw the Dolphins in his last appearance as a Patriot, getting shut out on the stat sheet. Moss is notorious for making an instant impact with his new teams and this should not be different. The embarrassment of his last game with the Patriots in mind, Moss should score at least once. Vince Young is questionable, which should help Moss since Kerry Collins and Moss played together in Oakland during the 2005 season and already have a rapport. Also expect Chris Johnson to run well with the Dolphins defense paying extra attention to Moss. The Dolphins haven’t won a home game and haven’t beaten an AFC playoff contender. If the Titans are contenders, and I think they are, then they should effectively end the Dolphins season.

Panthers at Buccaneers: I don’t like the Panthers and I like the Bucs. Both star RBs are out for the Panthers and their challenge is to choose correctly between Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. The only question I have is how many fans show up to support this fun Bucs team in Tampa.

Texans at Jaguars: Let’s call this an AFC South elimination game, loser’s season is pretty much over. The Jags just got some bad news with Aaron Kampmann going down with a torn ACL and is done for the season. In order for the Jags to not follow their teammate’s fate, David Garrard will have to take advantage of the porous Texans defense. Garrard had success against the “other” team in Texas, but who hasn’t? The Jags secondary is no prize either, with their rotation at safety changing weekly. The Texans have been hit hard by injuries and will need Andre Johnson to be healthy and dominate in order to get the tough road win. This game looks close to me, but Gary Kubiak has rarely impressed and is showing signs of being a coach on his way out. I’ll take Jack Del Rio’s Jags in a close one.

Chiefs at Broncos: The Chiefs try to bounce back after last week’s overtime loss to the Raiders. The Broncos haven’t played in two weeks after exposing the Brits to their bad brand of football. Expect the Chiefs to line up and run all over the overmatched Broncos. The Broncos couldn’t stop the Raiders a few weeks back and I expect the same from the Chiefs.

Cowboys at Giants: The Cowboys changed coaches on Monday. I don’t think they change the results. The Giants are too good and are starting to look Super. I just want to see if the Cowboys actually try to tackle this week.

Seahawks at Cardinals: I don’t like the football in this division. It’s starting to again look like 7-9 might get it done and the 49ers actually feel like they’re still in it. The Seahawks get Matt Hasselbeck back for this one after the Charlie Whitehurst fiasco last week. The Seahawks have gotten destroyed in back-to-back weeks against the Raiders and Giants. Expect a lot of Tim Hightower this week and if I were Beanie Wells, I would start feeling healthier as well. Unfortunately for the Cards, they don’t have a QB and their run defense is actually worse than Seattle’s. If Seattle can fix their run defense and take better care of the ball, they should squeak by in this one.

Rams at 49ers: I’m not buying the 49ers yet. I’ve already expressed my feelings for the football that’s played in this division. Rams are the pick.

Patriots at Steelers: Here we go. This might be the best matchup of the year so far. These teams have combined for 5 of the last 9 Lombardi trophies and look to be the top contenders this season. The Steelers pound the QB weekly, but are susceptible to the pass as the Bengals showed on Monday night. It will be interesting to see the how the young Patriots defense responds after mailing in last week’s game in Cleveland. I don’t see anybody on the Pats who can matchup with Mike Wallace at receiver. I expect to see him get hit early and often and passing plays, the refs might have a call or two coming in favor of the Steelers. The Patriots defense will have to stop the Steelers’ running game to even have a chance. If the Pats defense can keep it close, they will have to establish some sort of running game of their own, if only to get time of possession. Look for special teams to be key for the Patriots if they come out on top. Blocked kicks, kick returns, and forced fumbles in the kicking game have always been the great equalizer in the Belichick era. Stephen Gostkowski is out for the year and Shayne Graham takes over at kicker. The Patriots great teams always had clutch kicking out of Vinatieri. It will be interesting to see how Graham responds in tough situations when called upon. Even though Monday night’s game was tough, I think the Steelers are a much more complete team at this point in the season. Combined with playing at home, they should be in the driver’s seat for AFC home field advantage when they wake up on Monday morning.

Notes

There are a few coaches on the hot seat as we enter week 10, and I think the results on Sunday will result in at least one more coaching change early next week. Chilly in Minnesota, Fox in Carolina, and Lewis in Cincinnati are the top 3 on my watch list.

The Cowboys coaching search shouldn’t include a number of names that we’ve been seeing. Tony Dungy had some interesting comments when asked about the job.  I agree with his comments, except for the part about him. He say no, but “you never know”. I take that as a negotiating ploy more than anything. A top level coach could and should demand a 4 year $30 million deal to coach Jerry’s kids. That 100,000 seat stadium will cost a lot more than that if there’s 30,000 empty seats on Sundays next year. Those Super Bowl coaches and a few college guys should be considered. Chris Peterson at Boise State is one of those once in a generation type coaches and I see him as a Belichick-type of coach coming from an offensive perspective. He is as prepared as any coach I’ve seen at the college level and would bring creativity and passion to Big D if offered.

Pro Football Week 9 Sunday Recap

Some thoughts on yesterday’s pro football games while wondering if Jerry Jones is as humbled as he sounded in his press conference today…

Falcons beat Buccaneers 27-21: Josh Freeman turned around and handed the ball off to LaGarette Blount who was stopped by the Falcons defense on 4th and 1 inside the 5 yard line with a little more than two minutes remaining in the game. The Bucs seemed to be living the charmed life with exciting come from behind wins seemingly weekly. Freeman has been the key reason for that success, which is why I question the play call taking the ball out of his hands on the deciding play of the game. A play call involving rolling Freeman out to the left would have given the Bucs options and also given Freeman a chance to make a play. He’s done it all year, so why not in this game? The Falcons continue to win outside the state of Pennsylvania and are now 6-2. Michael Turner continues to run well as he had 2 TD runs and helped run out the clock after that defensive stand. Roddy White injured his knee in the first half and although he returned, he was ineffective. No word yet on his availability for Thursday night’s game against Baltimore. Both of these teams looked evenly matched and their rematch on December 5 should be good. The Bucs get to recover with a game against the hapless Panthers next week. I’m really curious to see the attendance figures for that one.

Bears beat Bills 22-19: Nice win for the Bears, eh? The Bears tried running more as they had 26 carries out of their runners. Nobody was really that effective for them, however. But I think that committing to running more helped to keep the Bills from sacking Jay Cutler more than one time. The Bills continue in their pursuit to get “Lucky” in the draft. It will be interesting to see if the Bills decide to go in a different direction than trying to pick a franchise QB in the draft considering the performance of Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills try to get in the win column against the upstart Lions next week. The paper tiger Bears host the dysfunctional Vikings on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if the Bears give the Vikings a “chilly” reception.

Browns beat Patriots 34-14: Are the new Browns finally starting to play like the old Browns from yesteryear? I think Bill Belichick could sense that his team was riding a little too high and that they were going to be humbled. I just don’t think that he thought that it would happen on Sunday. I think the release of Tyrone Wheatley on Saturday foreshadowed some issues that Belichick is having with his young defense. Cutting Wheatley, a 2008 second round pick, put the players on notice that no matter your past performance or how high you were drafted, if you aren’t contributing, then you’re going to be gone. As for the game, the Browns exposed the Pats weak run defense that looked like had been fixed after the Ravens ran over them in January. Peyton Hillis ran for Walter Payton numbers on Sunday. The only way to describe how he ran was that he imposed his will on the Pats defense. The Patriots got away from running the ball themselves as they only ran 20 times. Colt McCoy continues to look good for the Browns and there have to be more than a few teams that regret passing on the former Longhorn star. After starting five different QBs in their last 11 games, I think the Browns have a keeper. Eric Mangini just might be the answer after all in Cleveland. The Browns current gauntlet of tough opponents continues next weekend against the Jets in a matchup of the Ryan twins. A win in the dog pound next week and we can officially call the Browns back. The Pats could have been looking past the Browns to next Sunday night’s game in the Steel City against the Steelers. That should be a tremendous game.

Jets beat Lions 23-20 in OT: Great comeback win for Mark Sanchise and the Jets. After getting blanked by the Packers last week, the Jets appeared to be heading to defeat again yesterday before Sanchez stepped up and made some big plays down the stretch. It looked like the resurgent Lions were going to win as they held a 20-10 lead after Matthew Stafford’s second TD pass with about 12 minutes remaining. But Stafford got injured with about 5 minutes left and the Lions offense sputtered after that. Injuries were huge in the Lions loss as kicker Jason Hanson was replaced on an extra point attempt by defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. The missed extra point by Suh enabled the Jets to kick the field goal as time expired to tie the game. If they were down by 4 they would have needed a touchdown. The Jets go from playing one up and coming young team to playing another in Cleveland next week. The Jets can get another leg up on the Patriots if they can avoid the same fate as the Pats had yesterday. The Lions will be without Matthew Stafford when they go to Buffalo. I hope Stafford’s injury problems don’t continue in his career as he’s pretty exciting to watch when healthy. Added motivation for the Lions? Help the Bills reach the 0-16 mark that they hit in 2008.

Vikings beat Cardinals 27-24 in OT: The ‘Ol Gunslinger returns with his most prolific passing performance, yardage wise, in his career. Brett Favre was great late in the game fueling the comeback win for the schizophrenic Vikings. The game tying touchdown pass to Shiancoe was a thing of beauty. What is interesting is that the Vikings committed an undisciplined illegal shift penalty that took them out of 3rd and 1 and made it 3rd and 6. The Vikings also hurt themselves by allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown and by fumbling a kickoff return and having that fumble returned for another touchdown. Otherwise, there seemed to be a great energy by the Vikings, especially their defense and the former mullet wearing Jared Allen. Allen got a key sack and then followed that play with a pass deflection on a screen pass at the end of the 4th quarter. Allen again made a great play by sacking Derek Anderson on 3rd down on the Cardinals only possession of the overtime. Adrian Peterson looked like he was running hard when given the opportunity. Overall, the Vikings finally looked resilient as a team for the first time this season. Brad Childress gets another week, I think. I would still consider moving on from Childress and letting Leslie Frazier take the reins for the remainder of the season. I’m sure the looming lockout and the money still owed to Childress is playing a major role in this decision as the Vikings don’t have deep pockets. The Vikings hope to continue this next week at Soldier Field when they play a weak Bears team. The Cards go back to Pac-10 play, er, NFC West play next week at home against the reeling Seahawks.

Saints beat Panthers 34-3: The Saints might finally have turned the corner and are looking like a contender to win back to back titles. The Panthers aren’t good and it showed. Matt Moore is now out for the season and Jimmy Clauson gets half the season to show that he is as good or better than Colt McCoy has been for the Browns. The Saints are now 6-3 and will get a bye before playing the Seahawks in two weeks. The Panthers will continue losing next week in Tampa Bay in front of their 25 fans.

Ravens beat Dolphins 26-10: Impressive win for the Ravens as they continue to look like one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl this season. The Dolphins had a chance to turn the tide of the game when Joe Flacco threw a strike to cornerback Sean Smith that Smith dropped. The open field ahead of him would most likely have resulted in a touchdown. Huge play. The fake punt by the Ravens showed that the Dolphins special teams are still not too special. The Ravens just continued to hammer the Dolphins defense with running plays even though they didn’t average a lot per carry. The Dolphins failed to commit to any kind of running game and that resulted in a huge disparity in time of possession with the Ravens holding the ball for over 38 minutes. While only 4-4, the Dolphins season is hanging in the balance next week against Tennessee. With only two wild card teams and losses to both AFC North contenders, the Dolphins do not hold any critical tiebreakers with the teams that they will be competing against for a playoff spot. The Ravens play Thursday night in Atlanta in what should be a great game. The matchup between the Falcons’ triplets and the Ravens defense should be outstanding.

Chargers beat Texans 29-23: The Chargers are now 4-5 and only 1 1/2 games behind in the AFC West. Philip Rivers continues to put up great passing numbers and could be the MVP if the team can make the playoffs. I would really like to see how this team performs if they didn’t turn the ball over. The Texans have to be disappointed with another loss, this one after holding a 9 point lead more than halfway into the 3rd quarter. The difference in this game was the Chargers scored touchdowns in the red zone while the Texans had to settle for three field goals. The Chargers have a bye next week before facing the miserable Broncos at home on Monday night. The Texans have to get a win next week in Jacksonville if they want any chance of reaching the playoffs.

Giants beat Seahawks 41-7: Early and often the Giants piled on the points. The Seahawks didn’t really look “jacked up” for this one. The Seahawks try to recover at Arizona next Sunday while the Giants host the Cowboys.

Raiders beat Chiefs 23-20 in OT: What a game! The silver and black are back and that has to please Violator. The Chiefs looked in complete control of this game until the end of the first half when Matt Cassel threw an interception in the red zone. When the Chiefs kicked off to begin the 3rd quarter, Jacoby Ford returned it 94 yards for a touchdown. Ford wasn’t only great on special teams; he had great catch in the middle of the 4th quarter and then caught the bomb from Campbell in OT to put the Raiders in field goal range to win the game. The Raiders offensive line looks really good and you see that with the success that Darren McFadden is having this season. The Raiders penalties are still very high and they’ll need to lower them.  The Chiefs now have additional competition in the AFC West as there is only a 1 1/2 game separation between them and the third place Chargers. The Chiefs should get back to winning next week in Denver. The Raiders get the week off before heading to old-time rival Pittsburgh in two weeks.

Eagles beat Colts 26-24: Another good game during an exciting Sunday. The Eagles look like possible contenders with Michael Vick at quarterback. Desean Jackson returned and showed that he might be the best receiver in football. He just seems to make multiple big plays weekly. Vick showed great decision making in determining when to run and when to pass. When he’s doing that, there are many players in the league better than him. The Colts injuries seem to be catching up with them as their running game is virtually non-existent without Addai and Hart. This could be a year where the Colts miss the playoffs with the competition in their division. They get a break next week when they host the bumbling Bengals who could be in the tank if they lose tonight. The Eagles get to play Donovan McNabb on Monday night next week at FedEx Field.

Packers beat Cowboys 45-7: Wow. Well it finally caught up to Wade Phillips. I already wrote about this earlier today so I won’t belabor the point.  The Jason Garrett era begins next Sunday in the Jersey swamps against the Giants. The Packers get a much needed week off before playing Favre and the Vikings in Minnesota.

Tonight I like the Steelers. The Bengals don’t seem to be playing with a sense of urgency and I think they will blow it up at the end of the season. The Steelers probably have the best team in the league. Should be interesting to see how Carson Palmer plays against the defense that changed his career in the 2005 playoffs when he blew out his knee.  Could the Steelers play a role in the end of Palmer’s tenure in Cincinnati as well?

Is there anybody else who is confused as to why Randy Moss didn’t show up in Tennesee until today? Wouldn’t some extra time at the team’s facility help him assimilate into the team quicker? That’s why he’s Randy Moss and he’s on his 3rd team this season.

My Super Bowl pick this week is the Steelers beating the Packers. Two classic franchises with a national following.

NFL Week 9 Preview

Here are my thoughts on this week’s NFL slate of games while I’m waiting for Randy Moss’ new TV show on the Food Network.

Buccaneers at Falcons: The battle for supremacy in the NFC South. The Buccaneers seem to win every week coming from behind in the fourth quarter behind second year QB Josh Freeman.  So impressed is head coach Raheem Morris of his team that he declared them the “best in the NFC“. I think this is a great motivational tactic for a team that is probably a year away from contending for a Super Bowl berth. The Falcons are coming off of a bye week after outlasting the Bengals two weeks ago. Tampa Bay is 3-0 on the road and the Falcons are 3-0 at home. Something has to give. It will be interesting to see if the Falcons defense can stop the Bucs offense. This should be a tremendous matchup on Sunday and for the next few years. I like the Falcons triplets (Ryan, Turner, and White) against the Bucs defense a little more than the Bucs offense against the Falcons defense.

Bears at Bills (Toronto): The Bills play their Skydome game this week against the Bears. The Bears have been lucky and not very impressive in putting together their 4-3 record. Their wins have come by stealing one against the Lions, winning against the bad Cowboys, beating the injured Packers and beating hapless Carolina. A win here wouldn’t be impressive, but given their track record this season, I would give them the nod here against a weak Bills team. It would be ironic for the Bills if they made this their only win of the year. 1-0 in Canada and 0-15 in the US. I think they will win a game or two this season, but I don’t think it will be here.

Patriots at Browns: The Pats have moved into the penthouse when talking about the league’s elite teams. Only one loss on the season has the Patriots possessing the best record in the league. Tom Brady is playing like 2004 Brady and the defense seems to be getting better by the week. Danny Woodhead, ironically with the Jets during the summer, has been a tremendous addition filling in for Kevin Faulk who is out for the year. Eric Mangini knows the Pats as well as anybody and I’m sure there’s no love lost since “Spygate” three years ago when Mangenious was in New York. The Browns defense led by coordinator Rob Ryan has been impressive in recent weeks, especially the win at New Orleans. Despite that, the Browns just don’t have enough to beat the Pats yet.

Jets at Lions: The Lions sold out this game so that means no blackout. The Lions had an impressive performance out of QB Matthew Stafford last week. You can feel the momentum turning in their direction as they have scored 101 points in their last 3 games. The Jets come off a dismal performance against the Packers where they were shutout for the first time in four years. The Calvin Johnson-Darelle Revis matchup should be fantastic. Even though I like Stafford better than Broadway Mark Sanchez, the Jets have been solid for most of the year and should get their running game going early and get the win. Last week’s loss should get them refocused.

Cardinals at Vikings: Derek Anderson gets the start for the Cards. The league’s biggest soap opera franchise of 2010 takes the field in what could be Brad Childress’ last game as head coach. A loss here and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier could take over. A loss also could mean the end for Brett Favre who has gotten beaten down in the last two weeks against the Packers and Patriots. Seeing him take the beatings actually has turned him into a sympathetic character in recent weeks. I don’t like anybody from the NFC West and the Cardinals should see a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson. I like the Vikings to get back on track and have an enjoyable catered meal afterward.

Saints at Panthers: We’re looking for consistency out of the defending champs. This week please, Sean Payton? The Saints barely got by the Panthers in the Superdome a month ago and this week they travel to Charlotte to face what might be the worst team in the league. John Fox took over the Panthers in 2002 following a 1-15 season in 2001. He might be leaving the Panthers after this season with that same record. I’m not sure how the Saints are going to play, but I like them to win and hopefully get back to playing that fun style consistently for the remainder of the season.

Dolphins at Ravens: The Dolphins got a big win last week against the Bengals and need to win this week in order to keep their postseason chances alive. A 4-4 record at the halfway point isn’t bad, but having tiebreaker losses to the Steelers and Ravens would hurt them in the wild card race. The Ravens need this game as well, as they will need to keep pace with the Steelers. Both teams play ball control and very physical. The Ravens come off a bye week and should be rested and ready. This should be a close game, but I give the nod to the home team Ravens.

Chargers at Texans: After Monday night’s defeat in Indy, the Texans need to get back on track. The AFC South is shaping up as the most competitive division in the league with all four teams sporting .500 or above records. If the Texans really want to be a playoff team, they will come out and put together a complete game victory against the Chargers. The Bolts come off a solid win over the Titans last week when they finally put everything together and didn’t shoot themselves in the foot. Can they do it again? The teams in front of them in the AFC West play in Oakland. A win by the Chargers can get them in a tie with the Raiders or a game back of first place. But they will have to do it without Antonio Gates who is out with a variety of leg injuries. I think this is a must win for both teams as the Texans can’t afford to be 4-4 because the AFC wild card teams are going to have at least 10 wins, and probably 11 wins. San Diego hasn’t won on the road yet this season, but I think they break through this week. Phlip Rivers is going to have success against the weak Texans’ pass defense. I can’t believe I’m picking Norv’s boys, but I am.

Giants at Seahawks: The Wally, um, Charlie Whitehurst era begins in Seattle on Sunday. Given the Giants track record of knocking out almost every quarterback they’ve faced this season, Sunday might be the end of the Whitehurst era as well. I can’t imagine the Seahawks faithful can be too “jacked up” about having Whitehurst at QB. The Giants are coming off a bye week and I don’t see them slowing down. They might be the best team in the NFC. It’s going to take some special teams craziness for the Giants to lose here.

Chiefs at Raiders: The battle for AFC West supremacy! Violator and company would like to welcome the Chiefs to Oakland. If Jerry Brown can be governor of California again, can’t the Raiders be good again? The Raiders will continue with Jason Campbell at quarterback and another good week out of him and the Raiders might have found their QB. Darren McFadden is playing well and the defense has stepped up. Can they do it three weeks in a row? The Chiefs roll into town coming off back to back home wins after losing to the Texans and Colts. The Chiefs run the ball better than any team in the league and the Raiders have problems stopping the run. I expect that to continue in what should be an exciting game with some big plays. Look for lots of running yards by each team and a Chiefs win.

Colts at Eagles: Peyton continues to amaze, as the Colts come off an impressive win on Monday night against the Texans. The Eagles might have Desean Jackson back in the lineup after he was cleared to practice this week. The Eagles will have Michael Vick back at quarterback and they’re coming off a bye. The Eagles, who imploded in the 4th quarter against the Titans two weeks ago, looked like possible contenders after beating the Falcons the week before in the game where Jackson was injured. Speaking of injuries, the Colts are as banged up as any team in the league. Dallas Clark is out for the year, Joseph Addai remains out, and Addai’s replacement, Mike Hart, even hurt his ankle on Monday night. Coming off a Monday night game and going on the road is always tough, especially when the opponent is coming off a bye. I expect the well-rested Eagles to win a wildly entertaining game with lots of big plays. Vick should look spectacular and better be for the Birds to win.

Cowboys at Packers: The Packers looked super defensively last week while shutting out the Jets. Aaron Rodgers is still trying to get in synch with his offensive weapons with Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley out for the season. If their offense comes around, they just might be the team to beat in the NFC. The Cowboys, well, stink. From the front office to the coaches to the players, this team has been the most disappointing NFL team that I’ve seen in years. The Cowboys are making their 3rd primetime appearance this season and we can only pray that it’s their last. That Philly game in December is surely to be flexed out by NBC. If the Cowboys have a “pride” game left in them, I would think that it would be on Sunday night. For no other reason than David Garrard calling them out last week, I’m picking the Cowboys for the last time. If they lose, and lose like last week, Wade Phillips will be out on Monday. I predict it will be Campo, not Garrett, who gets the call.

Randy Moss to Titans, Shawne Merriman to Bills on waiver claims

Today we found out where Randy Moss and Shawne Merriman are going. Moss goes to the Titans and head coach Jeff Fisher. Merriman will go to the Buffalo Bills. Neither player has done much this season, no report on what the impact will be on the Titans in-house catering.

The Titans were 23rd in the waiver process which means that a lot of teams didn’t want him. How does this help the Titans? Well, accused nightclub brawler Kenny Britt, who doubles as a big play wide receiver, could be out for the next weeks due to a hamstring injury. Moss is 52 catches shy of 1000 for his career and also 222 yards short of 15,000 for his career. It looks like Moss should have a chance to at least reach his yards milestone with the Titans. Moss also hooks up again with backup quarterback Kerry Collins who was a teammate of Moss in Oakland during the 2005 season. Moss had 60 catches that season for 1005 yards and 8 TDs proving that the two had some decent rapport playing for Al Davis. My feeling is that as long as Moss understands that he will have a limited role, probable #2 receiver, in a ball control, Chris Johnson led offense, everything should work well. I don’t expect Jeff Fisher to put up with any of the garbage that has plagued Moss at times in the past.  The only risk to the Titans is the close to $4 million owed to Moss for the remainder of the season. Moss will finally get a bye week as the Titans are off this weekend.

The Buffalo Bills are the new home of linebacker Shawne Merriman. Merriman hasn’t done much in years and it’s difficult to say whether or not he has much left. He is still rather young, but the cloud of his positive steroid test in 2006 and his deteriorative performance since makes him a long term risk. If anything, this move is a complete indictment of the play of 2009 11th overall draft pick Aaron Maybin. Maybin was a healthy inactive two weeks ago against the Ravens. If Merriman is kept around after this season, I expect Maybin to be shopped and wouldn’t expect anything better than a 4th or 5th round pick in return for the disappointing player. If Merriman plays well, sticks around, and the Bills can get value for Maybin, then they would have made a positive out of blown draft pick. The Bills play the Bears at Skydome in Toronto on Sunday still looking for win #1.