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NFL Week 8 Preview

OK I have to admit something: my math was a little bit off when I falsely claimed I had a 10-7 prediction record. After further review my record stands at 10-5, qualifying me as a bad mathematician but a respectable NFL predictor. If you need proof, check for yourself. I’ve been predicting for the last three…er four weeks and I’ve cumulated records of 3-1, 3-1, 4-0 and 0-3. Add ’em up and you get 10-5.

So yes, I am a genius but I’m approaching dangerous waters this week though. Four five-star matchups on the table and I’m only certain about one of them. The rest are toss ups but for a genius like me, I’m sure I’ll come away with another flawless record. And even if I don’t, I’ll just lie to you all and say I got them all right since none of you checked me on my bad math before. Read and enjoy:

Denver Broncos (6-0) vs. Baltimore Ravens (3-3)

I really need to stop picking against the Broncos. I’ve picked against Denver the last three times they’ve been on this board and I’m 0-3 in doing so. They’re fresh off a bye and have their minds set on home field advantage in the playoffs. The Ravens have lost three straight and are falling further behind the curve as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals continue to win.

Although Baltimore QB Joe Flacco has played well throughout the year, the Ravens desperately need to get back to the running game and reestablish their identity. It’s not that Flacco can’t lead the team but their secondary has been allowing opponents to abuse them for the last several weeks. Keeping opponents off the field is probably Baltimore’s best defense nowadays. The days of the Ravens being comfortable to send out a ferocious defensive unit is over and time of possession will now be the deciding factor if Baltimore wants to go far this year.

The Broncos showed two weeks ago that they’re capable of beating a team through all three phases: offense, defense or special teams. Return man Eddie Royal killed the San Diego Chargers with two big return touchdowns that solidified a crucial division win on Monday night. If Royal can provide his team with good field position on Sunday, it would go a long way in the Broncos winning. Everything is flowing for Denver right now. The defense is stout and the offense might not be New Orleansesque, but they don’t make mistakes.

Baltimore starting left tackle Jared Gaither announced through his Twitter page that he would be playing this week and that would be a definite boost to the Ravens. Broncos’ outside linebacker Elvis Dumerville leads the NFL in sacks and held his unofficial coming out party against the Chargers in prime time television. Rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher could probably handle Dumerville on his own but the Broncos move him around so much, he could line up on either side on any given play. Gaither’s return would give Baltimore two solid pass protectors on both sides to counter Dumerville’s movements.

The Broncos front seven demolished the likes of the Cowboys, Patriots and Chargers’ offensive lines but they haven’t faced a protection unit as stout as the one they’ll see when they face the Ravens. Baltimore’s defense is no longer elite but given two weeks to scheme around what isn’t working, they should be up for the challenge against a non-imposing offense in Denver’s. The Broncos have had two weeks to prepare also which makes this game a toss up. A fourth straight loss would be devastating for the Ravens while a loss for Denver would still equal first place in the AFC West. Expect Baltimore to play their best game of the season. Ravens 24-21.

NY Giants (5-2) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2)

Reality set in for the Giants over the last couple of weeks as they were beaten by some pretty solid clubs, ruining a 5-0 start. New York recognizes a loss to the Eagles would not only propel Philly into the driver seat of the NFC East but also mark their third straight defeat. After a brain lapse against the Oakland Raiders a couple of weeks ago, Philadelphia bounced back with their destruction of a reeling Washington Redskin team but paid the price for it.

Starting running back Brian Westbrook left the game and didn’t return after sustaining a concussion in the first half. It’s not known whether Westbrook will play against the Giants but after laying motionless on the ground against the Redskins for a few minutes, it’s probably wise the Eagles keep him out of this contest. Philadelphia will have to rely on a few backups along their offensive line and rookie runner LeSean McCoy if they want to get past an upset Giants team on Sunday. The Eagles knocked New York out of the playoffs last season with a stunning victory in the Giants’ own backyard. New York has had to wait all summer to play the Eagles again and could be catching Philly at the right time.

Philadelphia is really banged up. Even though they beat Washington 27-17, their offensive front was taken to school all night by the Redskins front seven. The Giants may not have a defensive lineman as dominant as the Skins’ Albert Haynesworth, but their defensive front is definitely deeper and more imposing than Washington’s. The Giants defense could probably win this game singlehandedly as long as Eli Manning doesn’t turn the ball over and keeps the offense flowing. Philadelphia gets the game at home which will give them a boost but after watching their offensive line get destroyed by the Raiders and Redskins, it’s hard to pick them against what they’ll see against New York. Giants 26-17

Minnesota Vikings (6-1) vs. Green Bay Packers (4-2)

Game of the week right here. The Packers have bounced back nicely with two straight wins after dropping an emotional contest to Minnesota just a few weeks ago. Green Bay has outscored opponents 57-3 in the last two weeks and will be ready to extend that margin against the Vikings. Minnesota will have one eye on their bye week when they visit Green Bay on Sunday but they’ll have to be extremely careful. Lambeau Field will be insane as former Packer legend Brett Favre returns for the first time and the Pack will be playing with heavy hearts.

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 384 yards the last time he saw the Vikings secondary and that was with Minnesota standout corner Antoine Winfield in the lineup. Wearing his home jersey with the Green Bay fans fully behind him, Rodgers could go off Sunday against the Vikings and expose their depleted secondary. But then again he might not.

Minnesota played pretty well against last week’s NFL passing yards leader in Ben Roethlisberger, limiting him to 175 yards. But Roethlisberger doesn’t let it fly down the field consistently like Rodgers does and the Vikes’ secondary will have to be on their P’s and Q’s without Winfield. I couldn’t go another line without mentioning Minnesota’s explosive offense and it is just that.

Although they only accounted for 10 points last week against the Steelers, the Vikings offensive unit remains a problem. You can be sure the Vikings will put up more than two scores this week against a Packer defense that has feasted on some of the more ineffective units in the league the past couple of games. Third-year wideout Sidney Rice is a bonafide playmaker and couple him with Adrian Peterson and Favre pulling the trigger and you have a dangerous combination.

Sunday’s game could be a shootout and believe that Rodgers or Favre would love nothing better than to go toe-to-toe with one another. Green Bay’s offensive line was terrorized by the Vikes’ front seven the last time the two teams met, sacking Rodgers eight times. Green Bay’s left tackle Chad Clifton could return after sitting out the past few games but his status remains unclear. Regardless if he returns or not, Green Bay should have a better system in place to protect Rodgers after the disaster against Minnesota a few weeks ago. If the Packers can keep Rodgers upright, Minnesota will be in trouble. Packers 28-24

 

Atlanta Falcons (4-2) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-0)
After a thriller last week against the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans will return to what should be an ecstatic Superdome for a Monday night game against a divisional opponent. The Saints came back from a 24-3 deficit on the road to beat the Dolphins 46-34. What was even more impressive about the Saints comeback is that they probably played their worse game of the season and still scored 46 points on the road.

New Orleans can’t be stopped right now and the Falcons will be fresh off a loss and 311 yards put up against them by Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. The Falcons allowed little known receiver Miles Austin to explode for 171 yards and two touchdowns so Marques Colston and Drew Brees have to be licking their chops just thinking about this game.

Atlanta can score with the best of teams but their secondary is their biggest Achilles heel. For a team as talented through the air as the Saints are, that could spell disaster for the Falcons and their chances to pull off the upset. The Saints defense got blitzed last week when the Dolphins showed them just how effective the Wildcat offense could be but they tightened up in the second half and limited Miami to only 10 points. If Atlanta wants to win this game, they’ll have to put the ball into running back Michael Turner’s hands and keep the Saints off the field. Anything less than 25 carries from Turner and Falcons’ defense will get exposed for a second straight week. Saints 40-24

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October 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Revisiting the Weekend

See! What did I tell ‘ya, 4-0 on the weekend and my prediction record is now upped to 10-7. Good for a little bit of respect and ready for me to make a major breakthrough next weekend. But before we get to that, let’s revisit last Sunday so that way you can see how smart I am.

 

Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

What I predicted …
Steelers 27-20

What I said would happen …
The Steelers defense is ranked third overall and with all-everything safety Troy Polamalu back in the fold, Pittsburgh will go into a home game with the Vikings very confident. Pittsburgh’s defense may not be able to shut down Minnesota but they can definitely contain them. Pittsburgh needs this game for validation and they will be ready to capitalize.

 

What actually happened …

The Steelers won 27-17. Pittsburgh’s defense held the Vikings’ offense to 10 points and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley returned a Brett Favre fumble 77 yards before another Pittsburgh linebacker, Keyaron Fox, returned a Favre interception 82 yards to seal the deal with Minnesota driving trailing 20-17. Favre and running back Adrian Peterson did have some success against the Steelers, combining for over 400 yards but with only 10 points to show for it, Pittsburgh got the best of them.

 

My reactions …

Even with Polamalu running around at lest than 100%, his return alone infuses the Steeler defense with a lot of confidence. Polamalu showed how destructive he could be when he made the Pro Bowl in less than a half in the opener against Tennessee. The Steelers will go into a bye week with a chance to get fresher and get standouts youngsters Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace more involved in the offense. Pittsburgh has rebounded nicely from a 1-2 start and appears to be getting stronger. Stay tuned

Even though their offense could only put up 10 points on the road, the Vikings had a chance to win the game before an inadvertent interception bounced off backup running back Chester Taylor’s hands and into Fox’s hands. Minnesota is definitely a Super Bowl finalist, they just need to remain healthy. With third-year receiver Sidney Rice evolving into a top-tier target, the Viking offense gets more lethal by the week. And they’ll need it, next Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers will be HUGE!

 

San Francisco 49ers vs. Houston Texans

What I predicted …

Texans 28-17

 

What I said would happen …

“Niners incumbent QB Shaun Hill struggles to even reach 200 yards so if San Francisco wants to beat Houston, their defense will have to step up and corral the Texans high octane unit. After allowing 45 points in their own backyard, I just can’t see how they’ll do that against the Texans, even with two weeks to prepare.”

 

What actually happened …

The Texans won 24-21. Houston held on for dear life after exploding to a 21-0 lead. Shaun Hill struggled to reach 200 yards because he was pulled at halftime after carving up the Texans for a whopping 45 yards. Backup QB Alex Smith started the second half for the Niners and threw three touchdown passes to tight end Vernon Davis. The Texans went over .500 for the first time all season with the win but star receiver Andre Johnson sat out the last drive with a bruised chest.

 

My reactions …

Even though the Niners lost, they should feel good about themselves on the plane trip home. After battling back from 21-0 deficit, the forgotten Smith gave the team a spark and the Niners may have stumbled upon a quarterback controversy. The lack of playmakers at the quarterback and receiver positions are going to cause the team to be mediocre until they can find suitable upgrades.

The Texans probably played their best half of the season in cruising to a 21-0 lead in the first but they also turned in their worse, getting outscored 21-3 in the second. Such is life for the Houston Texans. They’re not sure if they’re a playoff caliber team or a squad just happy to get by on 8-8 finishes. If they ever can just settle down and focus on being consistent, they could have something special on their hands.

 

 Chicago Bears vs. Cincinnati Bengals

What I predicted …
Bengals 24-20

 

What I said would happen …

“Cincinnati knows that it can’t afford to drop another home game with the Steelers gaining steam and Ravens set to bounce back after their bye week. The Bengals got away from their running game last week when Houston jumped out to a lead, the Bears don’t have the type of offense to push them out to a big lead so the Bengals should be able to stick to the gameplan this week”

What actually happened …
Cincinnati won 45-10 and dominated the Bears from start to finish. Bengals QB Carson Palmer had the best game of his career, throwing for five touchdowns and the Bengals got back to the running game. Cincinnati running back Cedric Benson abused his former team, rushing for 189 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals jumped to a 31-0 lead before Chicago added a field goal to end the first half trialing 31-3.

My reactions …
The Bengals couldn’t have asked for a better first half to the season. They’ll go into their bye week with a 5-2 record and renewed confidence when they host a Baltimore Raven team coming off their bye that they’ve already beaten. The offense appears to be rounding into form and is finally matching the play of a surprisingly good defense. Cincinnati has a legit chance to win the division if they can maintain their play of the first half. Stay tuned.

The Bears fell to 3-3 with the obliteration and will look to rebound against lowly Cleveland next week. Chicago QB Jay Cutler hasn’t gotten much help from his running game this season and is being forced to rely on some inconsistent playmakers at the wideout position. The defense didn’t show up against Cincinnati and with Minnesota and Green Bay surging, a lot of things are going to have to turn around for Chicago to mke some noise this season.

 

 
Atlanta Falcons vs. Dallas Cowboys

What I predicted …
Cowboys 27-21

What I said would happen …
“Austin’s emergence could have a huge impact on the Dallas offense, which was struggling with the loss of Terrell Owens and two hobbled stars in Barber and Jones. Everyone should be healthy for the Cowboys or at least closer to 100% and expect Romo to take advantage of a questionable Falcon secondary. Dallas has the defensive talent to run with Atlanta’s offense and should be able to slow down the Falcons’ attack.”

 

What actually happened …
The Cowboys won 37-21. Romo and Austin shredded the Falcons secondary, resulting in Austin catching 6 balls for 171 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys didn’t run the ball particularly well but the defense corralled Atlanta’s high octane offense and limited them to 21 points with the Falcons scoring a late touchdown with the game out of reach.

 

My reactions …
Austin’s turnaround could have big payoffs for the Cowboys offense going forward. If Dallas could ever get something close to average out of disappointing receiver Roy Williams, the offense could be back on their high level of play from the ’07 season. Burning the Chiefs and Falcons’ secondaries isn’t really a big accomplishment but the impact of Austin’s numbers deserves respect.

Austin has averaged 210 yards in his last two games which is extremely impressive. If he can continue to produce, Dallas could just run away with the division. Stay tuned.

Atlanta is where they should be right now at 4-2. Losing road games to New England and the Cowboys isn’t anything to hang their heads about. But for a team who just got shredded by Romo, a Monday night game next week against Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense could be scary.

If Atlanta wants to avoid dropping a second consecutive game, they’re going to have to scheme around a limited secondary. Falcons QB Matt Ryan and his offensive teammates will need to be at their best if they want to match New Orleans point for point. After getting abused by Romo and the little known Austin, they’ll face their biggest challenge of the year. 

 

October 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NFL Week 7 Preview

This is the week I push forward. A 6-7 prediction record is absolutely horrible and I can’t stand for it. The NFL’s week 7 will serve up some juicy matchups for hungry football lovers and trust I’ll be there to watch it all. The matchups get better and better as the season goes on as we weed out pretenders from contenders. The middle weeks of the NFL season usually allow us to sort out what teams will be in the playoffs and what teams will be sitting at home. If your favorite team is on a bye this week, don’t worry, just turn the channel to one of these games:

 

Minnesota Vikings (6-0) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-0)

On paper, this is the game of the weekend. The living legend, Brett Favre, against the building legend, Ben Roethlisberger. The league’s best back against the league’s second best run defense. The Vikings against the Steelers should certainly highlight the weekend and the Steelers, winners of three straight, need this win to validate them before they go into their bye week. Pittsburgh is 0-2 against opponents with a winning record and toppling the NFC’s best team would certainly give them a boost.

But it won’t be easy. Minnesota comes in after a near loss to the Baltimore Ravens last weekend and will arrive in Pittsburgh calm and confident. Favre has been flawless as a Viking with 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson leads the league in rushing yards and receiver Sidney Rice and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe are growing into legitimate vertical threats, making the Viking offense a very scary unit. Toss in a solid offensive line and a quality backup running back in Chester Taylor and it’s easy to see why Minnesota is second in the league in scoring at 31.5 points a weekend.

The Vikings defense hasn’t been all that stingy and will probably go into the game without their top corner with Antione Winfield walking around Vikings practice all week in a boot. Pass rusher Jared Allen has definitely played up to par but the last three games against the St. Louis Rams, Ravens and Green Bay Packers have showed that if you can block Minnesota’s front four, you can move the ball against them.

Moving the ball is something the Steelers have been getting better at in the last few weeks. Rashard Mendenhall has finally taken over for the ineffective Willie Parker and Roethlisberger is letting it fly. “Big Ben” leads the league in passing yards and he’s in the top five in passer rating and completion percentage. The Steelers all the sudden have weapons everywhere on offense. Hines Ward is tied for the league-lead in receptions and leads the NFL in receiving yards. Tight end Heath Miller is starting to get recognized as a top tight end and is tied for second in the league in TD catches. Santonio Holmes was the Super Bowl MVP last year and Mendenhall has scored four touchdowns in his last three games.

The Steelers defense is ranked third overall and with all-everything safety Troy Polamalu back in the fold, Pittsburgh will go into a home game with the Vikings very confident. Peterson will find running against the Steelers tough but he possesses the ability to cut it back for a big gain on any given play. Favre’s experience will definitely help against the Steelers compound pressure schemes but don’t be surprised if Big Ben outplays him. Pittsburgh’s defense may not be able to shut down Minnesota but they can definitely contain them. The Vikings defense on the other hand, has allowed a few 380-yard passers and as long as Pittsburgh’s offensive line keeps Ben upright, the Steelers will have success. Pittsburgh needs this game for validation and they will be ready to capitalize. Steelers 27-20

 

 

San Francisco 49ers (3-2) vs. Houston Texans (3-3)

The Texans have been tip toeing the edge of average for years but they’re starting to gather some steam as a scary team this season. Signal caller Matt Schaub leads the NFL in passing yards and has been shredding teams as of late. Receiver Andre Johnson has a valid argument if he ever wanted to tell you he’s the best in the league and tight end Owen Daniels is tied for second in receiving touchdowns.

When we last saw the 49ers, they were getting slapped around to the score of 45-10 in their own backyard. You can trust hard-as-nails head coach Mike Singletary had the Niners running some extra sprints during practice the last couple of weeks. Rookie holdout Michael Crabtree will make his debut in the state he built a legendary career in and the team should get do-it-all running back Frank Gore back in the lineup.

The Texans have a chance to go over .500 for the first time all season and last week’s big win over the hot Cincinnati Bengals is a definite confidence boost. It’s hard to trust the Niners after that beating they took against the Falcons. Atlanta really exposed the Niners secondary and Houston’s passing game is in high gear right now. Johnson and Daniels could make for a long day and diminutive running back Steve Slaton is deadly in the screen game and out the backfield.

Niners incumbent QB Shaun Hill struggles to even reach 200 yards so if San Francisco wants to beat Houston, their defense will have to step up and corral the Texans high octane unit. After allowing 45 points in their own backyard, I just can’t see how they’ll do that against the Texans, even with two weeks to prepare. Texans 28-17

 

Chicago Bears (3-2) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)

The Bengals had won four straight before a disappointing loss to the Texans last Sunday. The loss was a double stinger for Bengals, who also lost leading sack man Antwan Odom for the season. Cincinnati’s pass rush left when Odom was helped off the field and their defense gave up 28 points after playing pretty solid to start the season. The Bears don’t have the same kind of weapons that the Texans have but Chicago QB Jay Cutler isn’t afraid to hang the ball downfield regardless of who his intended receiver is.

Chicago is coming off a game in which it should’ve won when they let one get away on the road in Atlanta last week. The Bears turned it over three times in the red zone and that was critical in a 21-14 loss. Cutler has been shouldering a lot of weight due to the ineffectiveness of his defense. The Bear defense has actually become a liability and the loss of Brian Urlacher hasn’t helped at all. Chicago ranks 13th in the league in defense but it’s a far cry from the stingy unit of a couple of seasons ago.

Cincinnati knows that it can’t afford to drop another home game with the Steelers gaining steam and Ravens set to bounce back after their bye week. A loss on Sunday would ruin a 4-1 start and place the Bengals back into the middle of the pack. Chicago also knows it can’t afford to drop further behind Green Bay and Minnesota although they both will go on the road this weekend.

The Bengals got away from their running game last week when Houston jumped out to a lead, the Bears don’t have the type of offense to push them out to a big lead so the Bengals should be able to stick to the gameplan this week. Bengals 24-20

 

Atlanta Falcons (4-1) vs. Dallas Cowboys (3-2)

Dallas has had a week off to prepare for their big game against the Falcons. The week off came at great timing for injured stars Marion Barber and Roy Williams. Dallas will go into the game with their starting receivers set at Williams and rising wideout Miles Austin. Austin is coming off a major game against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cowboys wideouts will have a huge impact on this game.

Although the Falcons are 4-1, they haven’t seen a set of receivers that can successfully challenge their suspect secondary all season. The lone game when Atlanta saw a competent set of receivers, they lost to the Patriots 26-10. Austin, Williams and tight end Jason Witten could be set to have a big day against Atlanta’s defense. Explosive running back Felix Jones could make his return this week from a knee injury and he’s lethal in the Cowboys’ screen game. As long as Cowboys QB Tony Romo can avoid mistakes, the Dallas offense should put up points.

But Atlanta’s offense will put up their own points if Dallas isn’t careful. Falcons QB Matt Ryan has replaced Romo as everyone’s favorite young signal caller in the NFC. Ryan is leading a Falcon attack that has scored 66 points in the last two weeks. Receivers Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez are headaches for any secondary and bruising running back Michael Turner churns out tough yards. Between Ryan and Romo, Sunday’s game in Dallas could be a shootout.

The Cowboys are coming off of two weeks to prepare which makes them risky to pick against. Austin’s emergence could have a huge impact on the Dallas offense, which was struggling with the loss of Terrell Owens and two hobbled stars in Barber and Jones. Everyone should be healthy for the Cowboys or at least closer to 100% and expect Romo to take advantage of a questionable Falcon secondary. Dallas has the defensive talent to run with Atlanta’s offense and should be able to slow down the Falcons’ attack. Cowboys 27-21

October 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Revisiting the Weekend

I told you I’d bounce back. San Diego kept me from going perfect at 4-0 but I’ll take a 3-1 record after a pathetic week 5. I’m a mediocre 6-7 now but I plan to blow past .500 with my next round of picks. If not for that fluke (I said it, FLUKE) weekend of two weeks ago, I’d have a respectable prediction record. I went 3-1 my first week and 3-1 last week which is pretty impressive but that O-for weekend really nailed me. Ah well. It’s a long season and I plan to go at least 3-1 on my next go round. If you were fortunate to catch any of the games last weekend, it was a great weekend. In case you miss anything, here’s your recap.

 

Baltimore Ravens vs. Minnesota Vikings
 

What I predicted …
Vikings 30-20

 

What I said would happen …
“The Ravens aren’t the same hardnosed stout defense that they used to be and teams have been having success against them through the air. Ironically, Minnesota is slowly shifting the focus from a strong running team to a very balanced attack that can beat you through land or air. On the road, no starting left tackle and playing one of the stronger teams in football could be too much for a young QB to handle.”

What actually happened …

Minnesota won 33-31 and the Vikings jumped out to a big lead before allowing Baltimore to come back from a 27-10 deficit. Brett Favre passed for 278 yards and Adrian Peterson ran for 143 yards on the afternoon. The Ravens mounted a serious comeback to take the lead briefly at 31-30 with 3:37 remaining in the fourth. Favre responded with a 58-yard heave to Sidney Rice that set the Vikings up for the winning field goal. Ravens QB Joe Flacco marched the team down for a 44-yard field goal but Baltimore kicker Steve Hauschka couldn’t convert.

My reactions …

The Minnesota Vikings are a good team but also a fortunate one. Games against the San Francisco 49ers and Ravens could’ve gone either way but the Vikings found a way to prevail. If Favre can keep up his superb play up and Peterson remain healthy, Minnesota is going to be a tough out in the playoffs. At 6-0, they’re in a deadlock race with the 5-0 Saints and 5-1 Giants for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Whichever team can secure homefield will be vital for each team’s Super Bowl aspirations. Before those aspirations grow any larger, they must first check the status of top cornerback Antoine Winfield, who was injured in Sunday’s game with the Ravens. Should Winfield miss any time , results could be disastrous. Baltimore scored 28 of their 31 points in Winfield’s absence in the second half. Stay tuned.

The Ravens are at a crossroads. Although they’ve shown they can score points when needed, their defense is surrendering too many yards and points. There’s still a lot of time for them to tighten up as the season goes on but even if they do, signal callers such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Phillip Rivers could be waiting for them in the postseason. Flacco continues to grow as a quarterback and is showing that no game is too big for him and Baltimore in return is showing no hesitation in putting the ball in Flacco’s hands should the running game stall.

The Ravens were rumored to be in talks with both Buffalo and Kansas City concerning trades for their top receivers. Terrell Owens and Dwayne Bowe were the topics of those trade discussions and the acquisition of either could put the offense on Super Bowl level.

 

New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints

What I predicted …

Saints 28-25

What I said would happen …
“The Saints are clicking right now and may come out even fresher from their bye. New York usually doesn’t flinch in the eye of big-time matchups like these but the health of Manning is a serious concern. The Saints have been harassing passers all year and have had two weeks to scheme for what will undoubtedly be the biggest game of the year so far. If Manning was healthy, the Giants would be a logical and safe pick but Manning’s status could be an issue.”

What actually happened …
The Saints blasted the Giants 48-27. Drew Brees aerially assaulted the Giants secondary for 369 yards passing and four touchdowns. Brees surgically operated on New York’s depleted secondary and New Orleans jumped out to a 41-17 lead over one of the league’s best teams. An injured Manning could only produce 178 yards on 31 attempts and the Saints defense took full advantage of Manning’s Plantar Fasciitis. The Giants had their chances to early in the game but New Orleans just jumped all over them. With two weeks to prepare, the Saints were locked and loaded for a big time matchup and it showed.

My reactions …
Every week New Orleans grows stronger and stronger as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Several sports writers picked the Giants as their Super Bowl representative and New Orleans took them apart on Sunday. The fact that the Giants came into the game with two members missing from their secondary and Manning hobbled was key but with the way the Saints played they probably would’ve still won by two touchdowns regardless of who was playing for New York. The Superdome is a serious homefield advantage for New Orleans and when they start putting points on the board in bunches, the setting is just a nightmare for visiting teams. Now the Saints have a swarming defense and Reggie Bush returns punts for them which makes them a pretty solid all-around team. They’re a legit pick to go to and win the Super Bowl. Stay tuned.

The Giants still lead the NFC East at 5-1 so Sunday’s demolishing wasn’t the end of the world. As pointed out on Sunday, the Giants will need to get healthy if they want to compete with Minnesota and New Orleans. Chris Canty, Aaron Ross and Michael Boley all missed Sunday’s contest and Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw came in dinged up. New York may have the strongest roster in the league but they haven’t been fully healthy all season to show what they can do. The fact that they’re 5-1 at this point shows how strong the team is and once they get some key members back, they’ll be more than ready to redeem themselves after Sunday’s embarrassment. Stay tuned.

 

Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons
What I predicted …
Falcons 34-24

What I said would happen …
Cutler won’t be fazed by the raucous Atlanta crowd and his poise will definitely inject the fight into his Chicago teammates. It could be a high scoring game and with both teams relatively healthy and serious implications on the line, the game should come down to the wire. If Chicago can hold off the wave that they will undoubtedly encounter then they should be fine. If they flinch just the slightest bit then the Falcons will cruise to the finish.”

 

What actually happened …

Atlanta won 21-14 and it came down to a last drive to preserve the victory. Cutler and Matt Ryan went toe to toe and if not for three turnovers deep in Atlanta territory, Chicago could’ve left the Georgia Dome 4-1. Atlanta made enough plays to win the game but wasn’t overly spectacular. Ryan was steady and the Falcons found a way to win despite only rushing for 68 yards as a team. The Falcon defense came up with big stops and Atlanta won a game they really had no business winning.

My reactions …
Cutler is a dangerous quarterback. He may throw a pick or two but he’ll keep you in the game until the end. He’s got a live arm and he’s not afraid to take chances down the field. Things haven’t really opened up for Matt Forte or Greg Olsen but their trio has the potential to make for a dangerous combination as they get more accustomed to each other throughout the season. The Bears defense is an average unit but Cutler’s arm strength and courage will keep Chicago in every game.

The Falcons are finding out that they can win ugly as well as pretty. For all the accolades that circle their offense, their defense has been pretty good this year. Running back Michael Turner isn’t having the same type of season he had last year but the passing personnel in Atlanta suggests he’ll pick it up sooner or later. There might not be a better offensive quartet than Ryan, Roddy White, Turner and Tony Gonzalez. Atlanta’s defense may be playing well but they’re not great. If the Falcons want to go anywhere this season, Ryan and Co will be the reason why. The Falcon defense may be a year or two away from being Super Bowl steady but the offense is definitely a unit that teams have to fear.

 

Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers

What I predicted …

Chargers 24-17

 

What I said would happen …

This will be Denver’s first big time game on the road and it will be interesting to see how they respond. The Chargers really can’t afford to leave Monday night 2-3 with Denver 6-0. They won’t and Rivers will make enough big throws to give them the edge.”

 

What actually happened …
Denver won 34-23 and were sparked by a kick and punt return from Eddie Royal. Denver got the stops they needed in the fourth while San Diego couldn’t. Broncos QB Kyle Orton was flawless on a night when his running game wasn’t giving him anything. Rivers played pretty well but didn’t get much help from his pass protection or running game. Orton went 20-for-29 with over 200 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos held the high-flying Chargers offense to 16 points on the road which is extremely impressive. San Diego couldn’t capitalize on a few red zone opportunities and they lost a key game that could’ve sparked a turnaround to their season.

 

My reactions …
There’s still a long season ahead so it’s plenty of time for San Diego to catch up but they must play significantly better on defense for that to even happen. They’re also going to need Denver to lose a few games and even with the Broncos playing incredible right now, they still have some tough opponents ahead. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the New York Giants all await Denver so San Diego shouldn’t be too discouraged from Monday’s defeat.

Denver remains the only undefeated team in the AFC at 6-0 and they’re playing at a high level right now. The defense is clicking and the offense simply isn’t making mistakes. The Broncos are tied for second in the league for fewest turnovers with five. Denver will go into their bye week with a chance to get fresh for the stretch run. With their tough stretch already outlined, health is going to be key if the Broncos want to seriously challenge for homefield advantage. Stay tuned.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

NFL Week 6 Preview

Big Games, big games and more big games. If you were looking for the ultimate do-all-your-work-on-Saturday-so-you-won’t-be-bothered-on-Sunday-weekend then here it is. The NFL will have several five-star matchups on tap for the weekend that should even have teams on their bye week kicking back to catch. Last weekend I went O-for-three in my pickings but I plan to bounce back in a big way this week though. You’re only as smart as the last weekend that you picked so here’s my shot at intellectual redemption.

 

 

Baltimore Ravens (3-2) vs. Minnesota Vikings (5-0)

Talk about your heavyweight matchup. The Ravens will stroll to town, losers of two-straight, to try to get back on track against the undefeated Vikings. Not the ideal place or team to try to break your losing streak against, but if you’re going to reclaim some respect, you might as well knock out one of the biggest teams out there. The Vikings can’t be stopped right now and they’ve handled their last couple of opponents with relative ease.

The Ravens have cooled a bit since their blazing hot 3-0 start and need to get back to Raven football and start running the ball. Backup running back Willis McGahee is the team’s leading scorer but only received one carry in last week’s loss to Cincinnati. It’s good that Baltimore believes strongly in sophomore hero Joe Flacco but let’s not get carried away here. A balanced attack is what made Baltimore so mean-looking in the opening weeks and with 78 passing attempts in the last two weeks for the Ravens, maybe it’s time to rediscover that balance.

Viking defensive end Jared Allen is the scariest pass rusher in the league right now and Baltimore will probably be without left tackle Jared Gaither for a second straight game. Gaither was still having trouble turning his head when he was evaluated in Wednesday’s practice and starting him in the Metrodome against Allen could have disastrous results. Expect for rookie tackle Michael Oher to continue to man Gaither’s spot until he returns and if the rookie doesn’t get help on Allen, it could be a long day for Flacco. Baltimore is one of the better teams at protecting their quarterback so expect head coach John Harbaugh to make keeping Flacco upright a priority.

The Ravens aren’t the same hardnosed stout defense that they used to be and teams have been having success against them through the air. Ironically, Minnesota is slowly shifting the focus from a strong running team to a very balanced attack that can beat you through land or air. Brett Favre has looked young again in the last three wins for Minnesota and expect for Baltimore to force Favre to beat them.

Baltimore gave up 120 yards to Cedric Benson last week and will have to maintain their gap control when they face Adrian Peterson on Sunday. Baltimore really needs to get back to running the ball but Minnesota is one of the best run defenses in the league. Flacco has struggled in consecutive weeks and there might be too many things going against the Ravens for them to pull off the upset this week. On the road, no starting left tackle and playing one of the stronger teams in football could be too much for a young QB to handle. Vikings 30-20

 

 

New York Giants (5-0) vs. New Orleans Saints (4-0)

The Giants are coming off a beat down that they dealt to the Oakland Raiders. The injured Eli Manning didn’t have to play in the second half but he’ll definitely have to play in this one. The Saints will be fresh off their bye and ready to roll and viewers can expect to see the Superdome to be at its loudest that’s it been all season. The Saints are restoring the pride in New Orleans and the city is rallying around their team and showing major support.

And why wouldn’t they? Quarterback Drew Brees is one of the top signal callers in the game. The offense is the best unit in the league and the defense has been stingy and fierce. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans’ top running back, is back in the lineup and things couldn’t be better right now. New York will come to the Big Easy on Sunday with Manning hobbling and may be forced to lean on the ground game to ensure Manning doesn’t try to do too much. The Giants haven’t exactly played top competition this season with their marquee win coming against Dallas on a Sunday night in which quarterback Tony Romo turned the ball over left and right.

New Orleans has gone on the road and blasted a Donovan McNabless Philly team and scored two defensive touchdowns against the at-the-time undefeated New York Jets in a 24-10 win. The Saints are clicking right now and may come out even fresher from their bye. New York usually doesn’t flinch in the eye of big-time matchups like these but the health of Manning is a serious concern.

The Raiders were no threat to Manning and the Giants cruised. The Saints have been harassing passers all year and have had two weeks to scheme for what will undoubtedly be the biggest game of the year so far. If Manning was healthy, the Giants would be a logical and safe pick but Manning’s status could be an issue. Saints 28-25

 

Chicago Bears (3-1) vs. Atlanta Falcons (3-1)

The Bears have won three straight and the Falcons just smacked the 3-1 Niners in their home 45-10. Both squads have upper echelon QBs in Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. Both teams have top shelf running back between the Bears’ Matt Forte and the Falcons’ Michael Turner. With the game being held at the Georgia Dome, there won’t be any weather restraints to hold either quarterback from letting it fly.

We were treated to a wash out in last week’s Sunday night game between an undefeated team and a winless squad but this Sunday’s night game should be the best all season. Last year’s Bear/Falcon game was a classic that saw two field goals kicked in the span of 11 seconds in the fourth quarter in a game which the Falcons won 22-20. Cutler’s team last year, the Denver Broncos, faced off with Ryan last season in a matchup at the Georgia Dome in another highly competitive game that saw Cutler one up Ryan in a 24-20 contest. With Cutler at the controls for Chicago this season, this might be the most entertaining game of the weekend.

The Falcons dropped 45 in their last contest and the Bears put up 48 the last time they took the field. It could be a high scoring game and with both teams relatively healthy and serious implications on the line, the game should come down to the wire. Both the Falcons and Bears are in second place and behind undefeated teams in their respected divisions. Chicago’s behind the 5-0 Vikings and the Falcons are runner up to the 4-0 Saints. Both Minnesota and New Orleans will host some serious competition this Sunday and should either lose, the winner of Sunday night’s contest could be right back in the division driver seat.

Cutler won’t be fazed by the raucous Atlanta crowd and his poise will definitely inject the fight into his Chicago teammates. Atlanta is ranked 24th in run defense so Forte should be able to run late in the game against the Falcons if the game is still close, but that’s a big if. I have no doubt the final score should be close but that doesn’t mean Atlanta won’t jump out to a big lead. They certainly have the offensive talent and the crowd will be fired up to see their first home game in over three weeks. The Falcons offense will definitely feed off the crowd’s energy so expect Atlanta to run sharper routes, hold longer blocks and run faster than they have in close to a month. If Chicago can hold off the wave that they will undoubtedly encounter then they should be fine. If they flinch just the slightest bit then the Falcons will cruise to the finish. Falcons 34-24

 

 

Denver Broncos (5-0) vs. San Diego Chargers (2-2)

The Broncos will finally leave the comfort of their home field to play a big game on the road. Monday night in San Diego against the struggling Chargers couldn’t be any bigger. San Diego has been an enigma for the past few seasons. They’re definitely talented but they continue to be snake bitten with key injuries. Shawne Merriman’s hobbled, LaDainian Tomlinson’s limping and the Chargers have some serious injuries in the middle of both lines. If San Diego could ever stay healthy, they would have a great chance at a Super Bowl but for now, they’ll just have to play with what they have and that’s still plenty more than what other teams possess.

Denver went down to the wire against the Patriots and Cowboys in back-to-back classics and could be somewhat exhausted from two emotional games. The Chargers took it to Denver last year with the division and a playoff birth on the line in a 52-21 slaughter so San Diego will be plenty confident going into this game. San Diego is coming off a strange game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in which they got down 28-0 but made a furious comeback only to fall short 35-28. They’ve had a bye week to get their things together and should know the importance of this game.

This will be Denver’s first big time game on the road and it will be interesting to see how they respond. Although the Broncos have a stout defense San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers knows he can shred any secondary put in front of him. This will be San Diego’s biggest game all season and if there was any time for the Chargers to play their best ball, it would be Monday night at home against the division leader. The Chargers really can’t afford to leave Monday night 2-3 with Denver 6-0. They won’t and Rivers will make enough big throws to give them the edge. Chargers 24-17

October 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revisiting the Weekend

Wow! Imagine my surprise going 0-3 on the weekend? After a near flawless record for the weekend before at 3-1, to come back 0-3 is definitely a blow to my confidence but ah well. My chance to redeem myself will be coming up soon with another five-star weekend equipped with some great games. But first, let’s review the past weekend, although I really don’t want to.

 

 Cincinnati vs. Baltimore

What I predicted …
Ravens 28 – 14

What I said would happen …
“This is a game Cincinnati can certainly win. The Bengals are talented on both sides of the ball and their win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 3 proves that they shouldn’t be taken lightly but the Ravens won’t take them lightly with first place on the line. If Baltimore gets back to running the ball and finds a way to contain Palmer and Ochocinco, they’ll win by two scores.”

What actually happened …
Cincinnati won 17-14 and defeated the Ravens in a big time road game. The Bengals’ defense was stout, limiting Baltimore’s high potent offense to a single touchdown. Baltimore totaled only 257 yards in the game while allowing Cincy to rush for 142 yards on the afternoon. Baltimore didn’t get back to running the ball like they should’ve and only rushed for 82 yards. Cincinnati kept their cool throughout the day and used the sudden death of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s wife to fuel their emotion. Chad Ochocinco is back to being at the top of his game, saving his best effort for the Bengals’ biggest game. 85 finished with seven catches for 94 yards and Carson Palmer threw his second late touchdown strike against a team that has ruled the AFC North for the past few seasons.

 

My reactions …

If it wasn’t evident before, it’s official now: Cincinnati is for real. The Bengals finally have a good defense and expect quarterback Carson Palmer to continue to get healthier and more effective as the season wears on. Once Palmer is back at the top of his game, the Bengals could be quite lethal. Running back Cedric Benson has revived his career in Cincinnati and is the league’s leading rusher. Ochocinco and Chris Henry are dangerous weapons at the wideout spots and the defense is stout. Stay tuned.

Whatever Baltimore was doing early in the season, they need to get back to it and quick. The Ravens could’ve been benefiting from a favorable schedule but that schedule has quickly become brutal. Baltimore will go on the road to play the Minnesota Vikings before they come back from their bye week to host the Denver Broncos. If Baltimore doesn’t rediscover their early season magic, a 3-4 mark could be staring them down after starting the season 3-0.

 

New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos

What I predicted …
Patriots 21-17

What I said would happen …

“The combination of Denver’s effective defense and McDaniels’ familiarity with the New England system should lead to a low scoring game but Denver’s offense may not be able to put up enough points to take advantage”
What actually happened …

Denver won 20-17 and defended their home field in back-to-back wins against two prestigious teams. The Broncos defense didn’t give up a single point in the second half and receiver Brandon Marshall stepped up for his second consecutive big game. Marshall scored both of the Broncos’ touchdowns and continues to thrive in the wake of Jay Cutler’s departure. The Patriots missed on a few opportunities to close the game and Denver kicked a field goal in overtime for another emotional victory.

My reactions …

Denver is a good team and it’s time to group them with Cincinnati amongst teams people should take seriously. Both teams lead their division and have used low-mistake offenses and strong defenses to propel them to good starts. Denver’s strategy the last few weeks has been to keep the game close and give Marshall a chance to make a couple of game changing plays. It’s worked so far but the Broncos have a big game on the road in San Diego on Monday night next week.

New England is just going through the motions right now. Brady is fresh off a year of doing nothing and hasn’t really found the groove with his wide receivers yet. The loss of running back Fred Taylor will hurt the running game and force the Pats to rely even more on Brady’s arm. It’s only a matter of time before the Pats offense begins to click but people could be expecting too much from an offense that hasn’t been the same since its mind blowing ’07 campaign. Stay tuned.

 

Atlanta Falcons vs. San Francisco 49ers

What I predicted …

49ers 20-14

What I said would happen …
“Sophomore quarterback Matt Ryan has a bunch of weapons at his disposal and the Falcons may go into the game trying to get running back Michael Turner back on track. If Atlanta can limit their mistakes, they stand a good chance of winning a critical road game. San Francisco has only passed for over 200 yards one time this season which makes them the type of team that needs a lot of things to go right in order for them to win. So far in three games, things have gone in their favor but facing a potent attack such as Atlanta’s, the Niners are going to have be on their “A” game to get a win”

What actually happened …
Atlanta won and won big 45-10. Ryan threw all day over the 49ers’ secondary for 329 yards and Turner got back on track with 97 yards and three touchdowns. Nothing went right for San Francisco and even when the Niners picked off a pass, a showboating high step by cornerback Dre Bly led to a fumble which was eventually recovered by Atlanta. San Francisco quarterback Shaun Hill failed again to reach 200 passing yards and the Niner offense was grinded to a halt. How bad was the game? You would have to go back to 1967 to find a bigger margin of defeat for the Niners at home.

My reactions …
The 49ers will go into their bye week after getting slapped pretty good by the Falcons. San Francisco obviously needs running back Frank Gore to come out the bye healthy and Hill has to start making some plays to keep teams from crowding the box. The defense was served a reality check after shutting out the lowly St. Louis Rams a couple of weeks ago and head coach Mike Singletary didn’t have one of his better coaching games last Sunday. Ironically, regardless of what happens this weekend, the Niners will still come out of their bye week as the division leaders though so the shellacking they took from Atlanta wasn’t the end of the world.

Matt Ryan might be a top-ten quarterback already in only his second year in the league. Atlanta continues to prove that last year’s turnaround was no fluke and their defense has been playing surprisingly well. Holding any team to 10 points in their own backyard is impressive and dropping 45 on a ballclub is even more eye opening. Atlanta shrugged off their 26-10 loss to the Patriots and will gear up for what is a pretty serious schedule ahead. Stay tuned.

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m going Live!!!!

Catch me next Thursday Oct 15 at 1 pm for a live chat talking week 6 of the NFL & Skins & Ravens

Here

October 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NFL Week 5 Preview

Although Week 5 of the NFL season isn’t anywhere near the five-star weekend that Week 4 was, there are still some juicy matchups worthy of grabbing a seat for. Week 6 promises to be another couch and recliner fest but you can’t go forward until you deal with the present right? Right! So without further adieu, my predictions for the weekend.

 

Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) vs. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

This may not get your vote for best game of the weekend, but it’s the most important one by far. The battle for first place in the AFC North will be on the line at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens were the hot team just a couple of weeks ago before a controversial loss to the New England Patriots cooled their sails just a bit. Strangely, Cincinnati enters the game as the hottest team in the division, winners of three-straight.

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is slowly regaining the form that had everyone calling him the next big thing just a few seasons ago and entertaining but explosive wideout Chad Ochocinco is back to terrorizing secondaries after an off year last season. Ironically, the most impressive unit isn’t the Cincy offense but their all-of-the-sudden stingy defense. The Bengals are the 11thranked defense in the league and the unit has scored touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. Defensive end Antwan Odom is tied for the league lead in sacks and that could spell trouble for a Baltimore team that will probably be without their starting left tackle, Jared Gaither, who sustained an injury last Sunday.

But Baltimore’s offensive line is deep enough to sustain the absence of Gaither and look for the Ravens to get back to running the ball, something that eluded them in last week’s loss. Baltimore signal caller Joe Flacco Flacco threw the ball a career-high 47 times last week. While Flacco may be the real deal at QB, Baltimore should be reluctant to place all of their fortunes in the sophomore’s lap. The Ravens only ran the ball 16 times against New England, odd for a team that was one of the leading rush units in ’08.

This is a game Cincinnati can certainly win. The Bengals are talented on both sides of the ball and their win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 3 proves that they shouldn’t be taken lightly but the Ravens won’t take them lightly with first place on the line. If Baltimore gets back to running the ball and finds a way to contain Palmer and Ochocinco, they’ll win by two scores. Ravens 28-14

 

New England Patriots (3-1) vs. Denver Broncos (4-0)

Both the Broncos and Patriots are coming off of big wins last week against quality ball clubs. Ironically, both wins came courtesy of critical plays by wide receivers. New England barely squeaked by Baltimore after a dropped pass by Raven receiver Mark Clayton yards away from the end zone gave them the win. Denver’s Brandon Marshall made the play of the season when he displayed his catch and run abilities on a 51-yard reception in which he skied over Cowboy cover corner Terrence Newman then eluded about six or seven defenders on a cutback run to the end zone.

Denver’s defense pressured Tony Romo into a 67.1 quarterback rating and limited the usually potent Dallas offense to a 10 point game. The Broncos offense wasn’t spectacular but they limited their mistakes and made plays when they had to. Denver played a gritty game and proved that they need to be respected.

It’s hard to explain New England’s offense. They weren’t at their best on Sunday but they still put up 27 points. Some teams would kill for that type of output but for a Patriot offense that routinely put up 30 and 40 point games in the ’07 season, 27 points is unacceptable to them.

New England’s defense was pretty solid as well on Sunday, limiting a high-scoring Baltimore offense to just two touchdowns. Denver is coming off an emotional win against Dallas so a letdown could be on tap for Sunday. A story that’s really going untold is former New England offensive coordinator and current Denver head coach Josh McDaniels going up against his old buddies. The combination of Denver’s effective defense and McDaniels’ familiarity with the New England system should lead to a low scoring game but Denver’s offense may not be able to put up enough points to take advantage. Patriots 21-17

 

Atlanta Falcons (2-1) vs. San Francisco 49ers (3-1)

No one wants to say it, but the 49ers might be the best team in the NFC West. Head coach Mike Singletary has the defense playing inspired and physical football and their 35-0 domination of the lowly St. Louis Rams is what good teams do to bad teams. The Niners are a last second Brett Favre pass away from being undefeated and will certainly be game to try and get their first win this season against an opponent with a winning record.

Atlanta is coming off a bye week, two weeks removed from their 26-10 loss to the Patriots. Sophomore quarterback Matt Ryan has a bunch of weapons at his disposal and the Falcons may go into the game trying to get running back Michael Turner back on track. Turner is only averaging 75.3 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry after a ’08 season that saw him explode on the scene with close to 1700 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. But the 49er defense isn’t the unit for a team to try to reestablish the running game against so expect Ryan to have a heavy influence on who wins the game.

With running back and focal point Frank Gore out for San Francisco, it’s going to take a total team effort on offense, defense and special teams to beat the Falcons. Atlanta doesn’t have a strong defense but the Niners don’t have the type of offense that can exploit that mismatch. Although San Francisco put up 35 against the Rams, 21 of those points were courtesy of the defense and special teams.

If Atlanta can limit their mistakes, they stand a good chance of winning a critical road game. San Francisco has only passed for over 200 yards one time this season which makes them the type of team that needs a lot of things to go right in order for them to win. So far in three games, things have gone in their favor but facing a potent attack such as Atlanta’s, the Niners are going to have be on their “A” game to get a win. 49ers 20-14

October 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Revisiting the Weekend

Well, I predicted four games last week and came away with a 3-1 record, not bad huh? Although this upcoming weekend isn’t as flashy as the last, don’t worry, week 6 is right around the corner and the matchups are outstanding. Baltimore will visit Minnesota, New Orleans will host the Giants. Chicago will go to Atlanta for the Sunday night game and the Chargers will try to reclaim the division when Denver comes to town on Monday night. Even the Houston at Cincinnati game will be a battle.

The weekend was wild and just in case you missed anything, I’ll revisit the action if you weren’t fortunate to see it for yourself.

 

New York Jets vs New Orleans Saints

What I predicted …

Saints 28-17

What I said would happen …

“The Jets have a premier cornerback, a premier nose tackle and upper echelon players in their linebackers corps and secondary. This could be a low-scoring game Saints wise that may end in the 20’s range. Anything past that and it will be hard for New York to keep up with a rookie quarterback playing only his second road game”

What actually happened …

The Saints won 24-10. New Orleans defense was everywhere, scoring two touchdowns and forcing rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez into four turnovers. The Jets defense held the explosive Saints offense to 10 measly points but their offense couldn’t help them out. New York cornerback Darrelle Revis continued his shutdown of the league tour and held another premier wideout in check. The Saints Marques Colston was held to two catches for 33 yards and Drew Brees was limited to 190 yards passing.

My reactions …

New Orleans won a game in which their offense was pretty much shut down and that’s encouraging to the Saints’ Super Bowl aspirations this year. Their defense played an excellent game and if New Orleans can get home field advantage throughout the playoffs, they’re going to be hard to beat.

Sanchez is still a rookie quarterback and it showed on Sunday. I don’t know how for real Sanchez is but the Jets defense might be the best unit in the league. Revis’ cover abilities allow New York head coach Rex Ryan to do a lot of things with his pressure schemes. Revis has held Colston, Randy Moss and Andre Johnson to a combined 10 catches for 92 yards. If that’s not shutdown corner worthy, I don’t know what is. If the Jets can continue to play outstanding defense and run the ball well, a playoff birth should surely be in the works.

 

Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots

What I predicted …

Patriots 31-24

What I said would happen …

“The Patriots are slowly transitioning into an all-around solid team that can beat opponents with the run game, pass game or defense. They’re going to need all three phases this week to slow a hot Baltimore squad.”

What actually happened …

The Patriots won 27-21. There were a few questionable calls and no-calls in the game that caught a lot of controversy but that really didn’t affect the outcome. New England’s defense held the Ravens, who came in averaging 34.3 points a game, to 14 points. Although a dropped pass was the only thing that kept the Patriots defense from losing the game, they did a pretty good job of containing Joe Flacco and the Ravens attack. The Baltimore defense struggled to stop the Patriots but continued their bend-but-don’t-break philosophy. Aside from holding Cleveland to three points, teams are averaging 25.6 points against the once-feared Baltimore D, something they will have to look at.

My reactions …

Baltimore is for real. Although they were outplayed for much of the game, the fact that they had a chance to win it late just proves how good the Ravens are this season. Flacco is a premier quarterback in the league and the run game and his big arm compensate for Baltimore’s lack of a game-breaking wideout. As evident by Mark Clayton’s drop, the Ravens are an elite receiver away from being a Super Bowl favorite, they still may go this year but the receiving corps aside from Derrick Mason are going to have to step up.

New England continues to have the rules shaped in their favor and that’s beginning to irk people around the league. Two calls against the Ravens for unnecessary roughness might not have been called if it were another team and another quarterback. Regardless, the rules are here to stay for this season at least and defenses will have to adjust. Other than that, New England played a nice game. They still aren’t clicking on offense yet and that’s pretty scary considering they scored 27 against Baltimore. The defense isn’t as stout as it used to be but head coach Bill Belichick is compensating for a lack of talent with effective schemes.

New England and Baltimore may meet up again in the playoffs and the outcome could be the same considering Baltimore hasn’t beaten New England since they were the old Cleveland Browns. But Baltimore has never had a quarterback of Flacco’s caliber before either. Stay tuned.

 

Dallas Cowboys vs Denver Broncos

What I predicted …

Cowboys 24-13

What I said would happen …

“If the Broncos want some respect, they can earn it this weekend but this game is too important to let get away for the Cowboys, who trail Philadelphia and New York in the division”

What actually happened …

The Broncos won 17-10. Denver earned their respect by stifling the Dallas offense and limiting Tony Romo to a 67.1 quarterback rating. The defense played remarkable and the offense didn’t make mistakes. Rookie running back Knowshon Moreno lost a fumble but the defense recovered nicely, holding Dallas to 10 points. Dallas missed the presence of the injured Felix Jones and Marion Barber, who started the game but left after a quad injury tightened up on him. Barber was effective in the first half when the Cowboys were running the ball well but his absence in the second half led to Romo throwing the ball 42 times.

My reactions …

I questioned the competition of Denver’s opponents before the game and I’m still not sold on them but they are 4-0. Quarterback Kyle Orton hasn’t thrown an interception all season and receiver Brandon Marshall is a big play waiting to happen. I’m not sure how far Denver will go this year but their undefeated start is the feel good story of the season, considering the absolute mess they went through during the offseason.

It seems like the league has caught on to Tony Romo. Romo was unbelievable just a couple of seasons ago but maybe the void left by Terrell Owens departure and weight of the Cowboys’ mystique might be too much for the young qb. Dallas definitely needs a receiver to step up and make defenses pull a safety out the box. Teams are now putting seven and eight defenders in the box and daring Romo to beat them. When Owens was in Dallas, he opened the field up for Romo to find tight end Jason Witten for big gains over the middle and even though Owens expressed his displeasure about that very topic, his abilities made the Cowboy offense a lot more fearful than it is now.

Dallas has an elite run game to power them into the postseason but if Barber and Jones continue to be hobbled, the Cowboys are going to have to lean on the aerial attack and without T.O., games against the Giants and Broncos have already showed that may be too large of a task.

 

Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings

What I predicted …

Vikings 31-20

What I said would happen …

A lot of talk will be made about the battle amongst the student and the teacher between Favre and Rodgers but star tailback Adrian Peterson will probably end up being (get this) the “star” of the game. Minnesota’s game plan is to run Peterson first and rely on Favre’s arm second. Neither of the last two offensive lines nor the running backs are as good as what Green Bay will face on Monday and if the Packers couldn’t contain the 13th and 14th ranked rushing offenses, it could be a long night in Minnesota”

What actually happened …

The Vikings won 30-23. Although Peterson wasn’t the “star” of the game, he certainly affected the Packers game plan. Green Bay dedicated their defensive game plan to stop AP and by doing so allowed Favre to go off on them. Favre passed for three touchdowns and the usually respectable Green Bay secondary got abused by selling out to stop the run. Rodgers was efficient when he had time to throw but the Vikings sacked him a ridiculous eight times on Monday and picked him off once. Minnesota’s defense was relentless in their pursuit of Rodgers and the Green Bay signal caller still managed to throw for 384 yards and two scores. Green Bay is going to have to shore up its pass protection if the Packers want to compete with the big boys this season.

My reactions …

Minnesota, New Orleans and the Giants are all undefeated and all look really good. The Vikings in particular, have the best running back in the league and defenses have to respect that. If Favre can keep making teams pay for crowding the box then Minnesota is going to be nearly impossible to beat, especially at the Metrodome. The Vikings defense is a top notch unit, you can’t run on them and the pressure they can bring with just their front four puts Minnesota as the driver in the NFC race.

Green Bay has a lethal offense but is a liability on the defensive side. It’s a tough job to ask them to take away both the run and the pass so they usually commit to just stopping one or the other. The problem is, when they contain one, they really give up big plays in the other. Rodgers is a bonafide star but his pass protection is horrible. Luckily, he’s mobile enough to evade the rush and rarely makes mistakes. If the Packers pass protection and defense can improve then Green Bay will have a successful season, otherwise, they’ll be picking in the top ten again in next year’s draft.

October 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week 4 of the NFL Season a Doozy

Sunday will mark the end of the NFL season’s first quarter. Keep on enjoying it people because the NFL season takes forever to come around then goes by quicker than you would imagine. One benefit of season progression is the number of marquee games that arises over the course of the year. The tap is full this Sunday with a few games that are must sees. If you’re a fan of any of these teams, a win this weekend will offer you bragging rights for the next few days until the next Sunday rolls around of course. This is the time when contenders begin to separate themselves from the pack. Let the games begin.

 

 

 

New York Jets(3-0) vs New Orleans Saints(3-0)

Both teams come into the game undefeated. Both teams come into the game with rejuvenated defenses and both teams come into the game atop their divisions. What could be better? It’s going to be the third-ranked defense against the top offense in the league. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was shut down last week by an inspired Buffalo Bills defense but his first two games of the season were things that NFL video games are made of. The Jets will arrive in New Orleans after shutting down some of the hottest quarterbacks in the league through the month of September and expect New York to apply the same heavy pressure that they presented Tom Brady with.

Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez is the toast of the town in New York and the USC product has already gone on the road and posted some impressive totals. 18-for-31 and 272 yards against Houston in the opener is nothing to sneeze at. The Superdome will undoubtedly be louder than the road game against the Texans and how Sanchez adjusts to much more hostile crowd may decide the game.

The Saints offense showed last week that it could be contained when they ran up against a defense geared to slow them down. The Jets have a premier cornerback, a premier nose tackle and upper echelon players in their linebackers corps and secondary. This could be a low-scoring game Saints wise that may end in the 20’s range. Anything past that and it will be hard for New York to keep up with a rookie quarterback playing only his second road game. Saints 28-17

 

 

 

Baltimore Ravens(3-0) vs New England Patriots(2-1)

The Ravens have never started out hotter, scoring plus 30 in each of their first three games. Sophomore quarterback Joe Flacco looks fantastic and the Baltimore offensive line might be the best in the league. They’re blowing people off the ball and giving Flacco all day to survey the field and use his big arm to find receivers for big gains. The Ravens defense may have taken a step back but the offense is compensating for any shortcomings. Tom Brady may not be the record-breaking signal caller that he was the last time he played more than a week of football but he’s still one of the best in the league.

The Patriots defense did an admirable job shutting down another sensational sophomore quarterback in Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s offensive attack last week in a 26-10 win that saw running back Fred Taylor rush for over 100 yards. The Patriots are slowly transitioning into an all-around solid team that can beat opponents with the run game, pass game or defense. They’re going to need all three phases this week to slow a hot Baltimore squad.

Keeping Brady comfortable in the pocket will be the key to the game. The Ravens are 3-0 but have feasted on Kansas City and Cleveland and narrowly escaped San Diego with a win against the high scoring Chargers. Phillip Rivers and Vincent Jackson lit the Raven secondary up and Rivers threw for 436 yards. A couple of costly turnovers came back to haunt San Diego in the end but the combo of Brady and Randy Moss might be too much for the Ravens to account for and Brady probably won’t make the same mistakes that Rivers made. Patriots 31-24

 

Dallas Cowboys(2-1) vs Denver Broncos(3-0)

The Cowboys are taking a page out of Denver’s old playbook where they can just line up any running back and whoever that back is will have a huge day. The Cowboys lead the league at 193.7 rushing yards per contest and that isn’t some fluke number. Saving their best for their toughest competition, the ‘Boys ran up 251 yards against the New York Giants in week 2. Even though they lost the game, Dallas proved that they could run against anybody at anytime. That might prove useful as the ‘Boys take on the top rated defense in the league when they visit Denver on Sunday. The Broncos are giving up a miniscule 5.3 points per game and their new 3-4 scheme is causing havoc for opponents.

Or are they? The Broncos have played Cincinnati, Cleveland and Oakland in the first three weeks of the season. Although Cincinnati is 2-1, starting quarterback Carson Palmer was coming off an ankle injury to start the season and Cleveland and Oakland may have the biggest quarterback problems of any team in the league. The Broncos have yet to face the caliber of rushing attack or quarterback that Dallas will bring to town come Sunday.

Dallas’ defense may not be elite but they can cause all kinds of problems for average NFL offenses and Denver’s attack falls right into that category. Kyle Orton is no Jay Cutler and the Denver running game isn’t what it used to be. Quality of competition might not be a major factor to some but it is over here and Dallas and all of their opponents would all be 3-0 had they played the same opening schedule under the same circumstances that Denver has played. If the Broncos want some respect, they can earn it this weekend but this game is too important to let get away for the Cowboys, who trail Philadelphia and New York in the division. Cowboys 24-13

 

Green Bay Packers(2-1) vs Minnesota Vikings(3-0)

If ESPN and NFL Network haven’t been all over this game by now, they will be by Monday. The NFL’s only son Brett Favre will run out the tunnel on Monday night to help take down his longtime former team, the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is now the new gunslinger in green and he’s proving his worth. Rodgers has everything going for him to become the next great thing at quarterback in the NFL and Monday will be his opportunity to one-up the guy who kept him on the bench for his first few seasons in Green Bay.

The Vikings are coming off an emotional win against last week’s 2-0 San Francisco 49er team and a last second touchdown pass has the whole town of Minnesota in a Favre frenzy. The Metrodome is a tough place to play on a Monday night but Green Bay will be game. A lot of talk will be made about the battle amongst the student and the teacher between Favre and Rodgers but star tailback Adrian Peterson will probably end up being (get this) the “star” of the game.

The Packers gave up 117 yards to Steven Jackson last week and 141 yards to Cedric Benson the week before that. If you combined both backs they still wouldn’t be as good as Peterson and Green Bay’s leaky run defense and a Monday night showcase might be just the ingredients for an explosive night for AP. Minnesota’s game plan is to run Peterson first and rely on Favre’s arm second. Neither of the last two offensive lines nor the running backs are as good as what Green Bay will face on Monday and if the Packers couldn’t contain the 13th and 14th ranked rushing offenses, it could be a long night in Minnesota. Vikings 31-20

 

 


 

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments