NFL 2013 Season Preview

Greetings and salutations. It is that time of year again where wives get angry with husbands because Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays are off limits due to a ball made of pigskin. For those of you tired of reading and hearing about Johnny Football, I give you this year’s NFL Season Preview. Submit your picks before Thursday night in order to claim official bragging rights at season’s end. All latecomers will be ridiculed and accused of the crime of bandwagon jumping.

AFC EAST

1. New England Patriots
The Patriots win this division by default. Buffalo has made improvements on both sides of the ball but their uncertainty at quarterback raises questions to their longevity. New England lost the Gator jailbird whom they invested millions in, has Gronk still recovering from injury, lost their top Wide Receiver in Welker, and a Tom Brady who already injured his knee once in preseason. Despite all of this, the competition in this division is laughable. They will eke out 10 wins en route to yet another AFC East crown. Side note: The Pats also magically avoided the kiss of death by cutting Timmy Tebow (Big Bill must have lost a bet to Josh McDaniel for him to get a look in training camp).

2. Buffalo Bills
The Bills vastly improved their team on both sides of the ball. However, watching The Glass Man Kevin Kolb go down to yet another concussion and watching the FSU QB stud EJ Manuel go down to a minor injury, it begs the question… is this an omen of things to come? The great news is 8-8 might be good enough to grab a wild card slot in the weak AFC. With the lowly Jets and Dolphins below them, expectations are low but the ceiling is high.

3. Miami Dolphins
I have not watched a single down or seen a single highlight of the Dolphins. I only place them here because of what you will read below.

4. New York Jets
If the Jets do not make the playoffs this year, I expect Rex Ryan to be fired. The goodwill from two AFC Championship games has worn off and it is time to put up or shut up. Watching the Jets drama play out week to week at the quarterback position will be fun. Sanchez may or may not go on injured reserve, Geno Smith may be highly overrated, and it came across the wires the Jets signed Brady Quinn to be the mentor for Geno Smith. Don’t forget Darrell Revis is gone too. Ladies and gentlemen… this is your 2013 New York Jets.

AFC WEST

1. Denver Broncos
Who decided to hand the Broncos an easy route to the playoff? The Broncs drew the AFC South and the unfortunate NFC East. Broncos go 11-5 en route to the AFC title. Manning looks great and the addition of Wes Welker gives him a go to Wide Receiver.

2. Kansas City Chiefs
I really cannot tell you whether the Chiefs will be good or not. Jamaal Charles is a great back but his age started showing in his limited preseason appearances. I also am not sure what to make of Alex Smith as their quarterback. That said they are far better than either of the two teams below them.

3. San Diego Chargers
If the Redskins are any indicator, the Chargers will have a 4-6 year downturn due to the destruction led by one Norv Turner. I know the preseason does not count but their starters looked dreadful and Phillip Rivers looked particularly awful. The only thing saving them is a decimated Raiders team.

4. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders hit the self-destruct button to rebuild. I cannot blame them personally and wish them well in their future endeavors.

AFC NORTH

1. Cincinnati Bengals
That’s right sports fans. I am not picking the Ravens to repeat as conference champions. Watching the offseason moves and the progression of the Red Rifle has been fascinating. Their defense is improved and their offense started to gel at the end of last season. I am jumping on the bandwagon and there is room for you too.

2. Baltimore Ravens
Too many losses on both sides of the ball. Losing the heart and soul of the team in Ray Lewis is going to hurt them this year. I think the Ravens have a solid year but picking them to win the division this year is a bit dicey.

3. Cleveland Browns
The Browns might actually be ok. Recent GM hire Mike Lombardi did a good job in the draft and assembled a decent roster while getting rid of some of the dead weight. While this year won’t be a picnic, I expect the Browns to look better next year. Lombardi is a decent football mind and he will have them on track for the first time since they were resurrected after the Baltimore fiasco.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Every time I count the Steelers down, they Hulk up, shake their finger, punch their opponent three times, whip their opponent into the ropes for the big boot, and finish them off by dropping the big leg drop for the 1-2-3. This year won’t be the case. Much like when the Undertaker Tombstone Piledrove Hulk Hogan on the chair at Survivor Series 1991, the Steelers mojo dies this year. Their defense is old and beat up and they did nothing to help their offense and putrid offensive line. I don’t expect better than 4-12 for the Steelers.

AFC SOUTH

1. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts really were a good team last year despite my penchant for picking against them most weeks. With (Andrew) Luck on their side and a favorable schedule against the AFC West and South… Welcome back to relevance post-Manning Indianapolis.

2. Houston Texans
It is time to close the book on Matty S. He puts up average – above average numbers but when has he won a truly clutch game in the playoffs? That’s right, never.

3. Tennessee Titans
More of the same from last year. Quarterback struggles, mediocre play by Chris Johnson, and an above average defense carry them to more wins than they should have.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars
I cannot even waste more space on this team…

NFC EAST

1. Philadelphia Eagles
I know I am asking a lot of Chip Kelly and an aging Michael Vick but this feels like the sexy pick. I hate making it but by gosh, who else is there? The Redskins overachieved last year and injured the quarterback we have been looking for since 1993. The Cowboys will be the Cowboys and the New York Giants are the sixth seeded wonder team.

2. New York Giants
I went back and forth on whether the Redskins belonged in this spot but could not bring myself to do it with the quarterback situation. Is RG3 healthy? Can he be the RG3 of last year? The answer is probably not. The Giants will do what the Giants do, win big games and lose letdown games where they look sluggish and out of shape.

3. Washington Redskins
Why you ask? They are just good enough to go 7-9 as listed above. They have the ability to win the division but until we see RG3 on the field, making plays, and not getting hurt, there are too many unknowns.

4. Dallas Cowboys
Jerry’s offseason decisions were laughable. Let’s give Romo, a guy who has yet to win a clutch playoff game, a huge multi-million dollar deal. While we are at it, let’s do nothing to help the worst defense in the NFC East. Brilliant. Keep it up Jerry! I hope you live to 120!

NFC WEST

1. Seattle Seahawks
Welcome to the toughest division in the NFL. Who knew? Last year this division consistently provided great games and two playoff teams. This year will not be much different. I like the Sea Chickens because they will probably not lose at home. They have games against their divisional foes, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and New Orleans. Their non-conference road games include Carolina, Houston, and Indianapolis. With that schedule, they can easily go 11-5 and beat out the 49ers via tiebreakers to claim the crown.

2. San Francisco 49ers
I think this year shows a regression to the mean for “Das Wunderkind” Colin Kaepernick. He an unknown last year and with more game film available for study, teams will find ways to exploit his weaknesses. Their defense is decent but when matched up against Seattle, I have to knock them down a peg or two.

3. Arizona Cardinals
The ‘Cards really had a nice offseason. People make fun of the Carson Palmer trade but he is world’s better than any of the bozos they used last year. Larry Fitzgerald will see more catches and the backfield is slowly growing on me. If their defense steps up, they may be a contender.

4. St. Louis Rams
Sorry, I’m not feeling the Goats.

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers
They win by default more than anything. Picking Minnesota is becoming sexier and sexier as the weeks go by but I’m not biting. The Vikings had unbelievable output from Adrian Peterson and subpar output from Christian Ponder. The Vikings also had one of the best turnover ratios last year and won too many games on fluky turnovers. One or two bounces the other way and they would have never made the playoffs. The Packers look like the Packers, though I would be concerned if Aaron Rodgers gets hurt as their backup situation got dicey with the addition of Seneca Wallace.

2. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikes are a true mystery. There is no way they will get as lucky as they did last year but the Lions have many question marks that make me wary to place them higher.

3. Detroit Lions
The Lions have the potential to be the best team in the NFC North. However, their undisciplined nature will cost them too many games despite a great offensive performance.

4. Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler gets worse instead of better. The hype machine is all behind Jay Cutler, so I’m expecting him to be the same old Jay and stink up the NFC North.

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons
There are two things I know, I dislike the Falcons and their fan base, and I dislike Matty Ice almost as much. The Falcons get lucky playing the Patriots, Sea Chickens, and Redskins at home and their road schedule is laughable. Sadly, they go 13-3.

2. New Orleans Saints
The return of their coach and a healthy offensive line will allow Drew Brees to tee off on opposing defenses. The Saints have a favorable road schedule and I expect them to go 12-4 en route to the playoffs.

3. Carolina Panthers
I really have not studied them enough to give an opinion. Therefore, we will call this a wild guess.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I do not like their coach, quarterback, running back, or defense. Therefore, it is a safe pick.

AFC PLAYOFFS

Wild Card Weekend

Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts

Divisional Round

Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos

AFC Championship

New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

NFC Playoffs

Wild Card Weekend

New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles

Divisional Round

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks

Super Bowl

Seattle Seahawks vs. New England Patriots

SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS

Seattle Seahawks

I know, it is a longshot but they have a favorable schedule, will probably play at home throughout the playoffs, and have a tough defense. Tom Brady will have a poor Super Bowl showing because his no name receivers choke in the big game.

Get your picks in by Thursday night. It’s a rule.

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redefinition

redefinition: (Noun) to reexamine or reevaluate especially with a view to change.

The last year has seen many changes and it caused me to redefine everything in my life. All for the good, I promise.

In the last year I got a new job…

cts

a new city…

bham

a new house…

IMG_0363

a new car…

car

and a new WIFE!!!

married

I shouldn’t forget to include the new family members that came with the wife *wink wink*

horsley

Oh, and my parents and sister moved to Birmingham as well….

myfam

My parents living here also means I get to see my oldest friend on a regular basis…

IMG_0350

In all seriousness, many things I thought were true a year ago are not nearly as true as they once were and this is a good thing. I’ve had to redefine almost everything.

At certain points in our lives, we encounter confrontation with change and how we respond to that change reveals much about our character.

I spent several years after college spinning my wheels, or so I thought. In hindsight, God was preparing and refining me for the time I am in now.

Marriage is the greatest gift I have ever received, but it takes work, lots of hard work. However, to quote Ben Affleck, it’s the greatest work there is and I’m so glad I’m doing it with Sarah. She has brought so much joy to my life and strengthens me when I need it, and also the ability to be real with me about my sin. This is a rare thing and I am eternally grateful the Lord brought us together.

There are many things swirling in my head and it may take a while to get it all on my blog for you to read. As you can see, there have been a lot of new things in the past year and the blog was an aspect of my life that was neglected in all the transitions.

However, football season is coming back soon so my weekly blogs will show back up in the near future.

There are also some other ideas percolating and I suddenly remembered I love to write. So here goes attempt #34001 to blog regularly again. Keep me honest and pester me on Twitter if I don’t post at least once a week. Please……seriously…..badger me on Twitter until I write one. (My friend that is fueled by Diet Coke, I’m looking at you)

Hang on, the Traceman is back….

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NFL Week 16 Predictions

This week is another one of quick picks. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas. I should have quick picks again in next week before my nuptials. The week after I’m on a boat to the Bahamas with my wife so I doubt you’ll hear a peep out of me.

Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions

If Atlanta wins, they get home field advantage through the playoffs. Falcons win this week and rest their starters in Week 17.

Winner: Atlanta Falcons by 10.

New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys

This has “Dallas chokes at home” written all over it. Match up wise, Dallas should be worried because their defense will not stop Brees and company. Romo has played well the last few weeks so it’s time to board the Romo Coaster as they skid out of playoff conversation.

Winner: New Orleans Saints by 6.

Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers

The Titans stink, the Packers don’t.

Winner Green Bay Packers by 9.

Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs

Chuckstrong and the boys ride into KC to grab another win. I haven’t decided if the Colts are this good because the majority of teams they have played stink, or because they are actually good. I think I’m settling in the middle. They should be one and done in the playoffs.

Winner: Indianapolis Colts by 4.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

So, anyone actually going to watch a down of this game? I thought not.

Winner: Miami Dolphins by 3.

San Diego Chargers @ New York Jets

This is Norv Turner’s audition to be the Jets’ Offensive Coordinator next year. Seriously. The Jets are a flaming pile of chicken bones left in La Hoyle’s mailbox. They have been chewed up, spit out, and are laughed at by all who pass by.

Winner: San Diego Chargers by 5.

Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles

At this point, Philly is playing for pride or tanking for a draft pick. Take your pick. I mean, their own fans have booed them all year, their coach is going to be fired, and they have no quarterback solution for next year. One word: disaster. RG3 gets back to playing on Sunday and keeps the ‘skins in the NFC East driver’s seat. (never thought I would utter this under a Daniel Snyder team….ever)

Winner: Washington Redskins by 7.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Has anyone watched the Steelers the last few weeks? Inconsistency and a hurt Big Ben do not a good combination make. In what will shock many people, I’m taking the Bungles to defy history and beat the Stealers to hold on to a playoff spot and kick the Steelers out of it. However, as Geo has so eloquently put it, the Steelers are like Vampires and I would not be surprised to see them beat the odds again.

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals by 3.

St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I don’t care about this game.

Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 3.

Oakland Raiders @ Carolina Panthers

After that sorry win last Sunday, I’d be hesitant to pick the Raiders again, ever.

Winner: Carolina Panthers by 10.

New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars

The Pats usually show up angry and with nostrils flared after a loss. Add in that it was a Sunday night game on national television and I expect Brady will throw the ball so hard flame will shoot out behind it.

Winner: New England Patriots by 17.

Minnesota Vikings @ Houston Texans

Minnesota is a dangerous matchup for the Texans because AP has the ability to run all over them and run all over him they will. That said, I don’t see them losing….or perhaps the Mayans were right.

Winner: Houston Texans by 6.

Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos

LOLZ!!!

Winner: Denver Broncos by 13.

 Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals

Chicago must really like seeing this one on their schedule after the last few weeks.

Winner: Chicago Bears by 6.

New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens

FINALLY, a game with questions. Is Eli going to play well? Can Flacco win against a good defense? Can three Giants’ linemen fit into the backseat of a Volkswagen Rabbit? The Ravens have played like garbage for a few weeks now and it’s time for them to have a bounce back game. I don’t like what I see out of the Giants and I think they drop another one.

Winner: Baltimore Ravens by 3.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

The 49ers had to work hard to beat New England in Foxborough last week and I don’t think they will have enough in the tank to contend with Seattle who is looking more and more like the best team in the NFC. Scary thought huh? I didn’t see that one coming.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks by 6.

Again, have a Merry Christmas everyone, we’ll see you on the flip side.

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NFL Week 15 Predictions

The Armstrong wedding is at a t-minus 16 days so here are the quick hits for this week. I’m 136-71 on the year after going 11-5 last week.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are unpredictable. I did not give them a chance to win last week and they did so on a last-minute field goal on the road no less. This pick comes down to whether you trust the stinky Eagles to hold off the Bungles who choked away a game to Dallas last week. I think Philly does just enough to hang on because the Bungles are an amazingly average team who do a lot of things ok but there is not one area where they are clearly better.

Winner: Philadelphia Eagles by 3.

New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons

I have been saying this all year but I am going to reiterate it. The Falcons are a fraudulent team and Carolina showed just how fraudulent they are. They walked in unmotivated and grabbed some points in garbage time to make it look respectable but it was a very ho-hum game. The Giants will not surrender garbage time points like the Panthers. If New York gets hot, they will run this score up just to prove how terrible the Falcons really are.

Winner: New York Giants by 10.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

The Bears have not played over the past few weeks and it was painfully obvious that Cutler is going to continue heaving the ball Brandon Marshall’s way whether he is open or not. Clay Matthews is back on defense this week and I fully expect the Packers to beat up on the Bears with Aaron Rodgers having one of his superman-like performances.

Winner: Green Bay Packers by 8.

Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns

This is not an easy Redskins win. The Browns have been playing decent football and have been in every game over the past several weeks. RG3 will play and even a hurt RG3 is better than no RG3. I think the Redskins have momentum and that they will use Alfred Morris to control the clock and squeeze out another tight win.

Winner: Washington Redskins by 1.

Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams

The Rams have been tough to play at home and the Vikings are winning only because Adrian Peterson is making the case for an MVP bid. Without AP, the Vikings would have maybe 3-4 wins instead of the 7 they do have. Ponder played well earlier in the season but the last few weeks have been disastrous for him at quarterback. Even though AP will have a big day, I think the Rams pull it out by a small margin.

Winner: St. Louis Rams by 3.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins

Jacksonville stinks.

Winner: Miami Dolphins by 6.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

The Bucs choked away a game to the Eagles at home. They had a victory well in hand but allowed the Eagles to come back and kick a game-winning field goal. New Orleans is probably on a high from the “bounty” program ruling. I think Saints win big here.

Winner: New Orleans Saints by 7.

Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens

Normally I would take the Ravens at home following two losses. However, I am tempted to take the Broncos. The Broncos offense is good and the Ravens have been struggling the last 3 weeks. The addition of Ray Lewis will bring some energy, but will it be enough? The other problem is the Ravens just fired their Offensive Coordinator and the guy calling plays Sunday hasn’t done so since 2000 when he was coaching at NCAA team Wake Forest. Does anyone thing the Ravens offensive woes rebound this week? The defense will keep the Ravens in the game but I think the Broncos squeak it out.

Winner: Denver Broncos by 3.

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

The Colts are going to the playoffs. It’s pretty much a done deal at this point. So are the Texans. The Texans were outright embarrassed on Monday night against the Patriots and will be looking for some damage control. Though, at this point, I would not be surprised to see Chuckstrong roll again.

Winner: Houston Texans by 6.

Seattle Seahawks @ Buffalo Bills

This one is in Toronto so home field advantage probably goes out the window. Bottom line, the Seahawks are good, the Bills aren’t.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks by 10.

Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals

The performance put on by the Cardinals against the Seahawks should make them wear paper bags over their head in public. The Lions aren’t playing well but the Cardinals are a disaster.

Winner: Detroit Lions by 8.

Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers

This is Norv’s time to shine. He knows he’s getting fired so the Chargers will once again win and just like Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire, he just won’t die.

Winner: San Diego Chargers by 5.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Dallas Cowboys

After last week’s pathetic loss, I’d be wary picking against Pittsburgh. They rarely have back-to-back stinkers. Also, Dez Bryant is playing with a broken finger. The word is he wanted surgery but Uncle Jerry Jones suggested Dez should get back out on the field. Gotta love Uncle Jerry.

Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers by 4.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders

The Raiders and Chiefs are no good. Oakland needs a win.

Winner: Oakland Raiders by 2.

San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots

Brady and the Pats looked unbeatable Monday night. This game is in prime-time and other than the Super Bowl, Big Bill and Tommy don’t lose in prime time.

Winner: New England Patriots by 7.

New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans

Wow, after two decent Monday night games we get this stinker? Both teams are rather pathetic and neither is going to the playoffs. For some reason, the Jets find ways to win bizarre games like this.

Winner: New York Jets by 3.

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Looking at NFL Week 12 and Previewing Week 13

I’m back and tired but I must not slack anymore. It’s time to review Week 12 and Preview Week 13.

I went an average 9-7 with my best picks being the Washington beat down of Dallas, Houston over Detroit, and St. Louis over Arizona. That brings me up to 115-60 on the year with room to grow.

The Houston-Detroit game is a great example of people (including me) over selling Detroit this season. They had one good season and made the playoffs and it seemingly erased years and years of horrible teams and games for the overgrown Kitties. Thanksgiving Day was a classic Detroit loss. They were just good enough to send it to overtime and lose with less than 5 minutes to play in OT by a field goal.

Washington beating down Dallas was unexpected. I thought the ‘skins would pull it out but not in the manner they did. What does concern me is at one point Washington was up 21 points and they let Dallas get extremely close to tying the game. Washington still has work to do defensively but it sure did feel good to watch the Redskins go into Dallas on Thanksgiving and spoil the Cowboys annual showcase.

The final Thanksgiving game was a complete abomination to the game of football. The Jets were so pathetic it made my stomach church with nausea. The Jets are drowning and need to clean house. Rex Ryan should be fired as it now apparent he is all bluster. They built the team stupidly and put their hopes in a mediocre quarterback who has no offensive weapons, they trade for Tim Tebow and do not use him in any way that makes sense, trumpeted their “great” Wildcat package, and crowed with 5 losses they were now on their playoff run. I’m sorry, not happening. Burn that sucker to the ground and start over because this team is experiencing Norv Turner level lows.

Speaking of Norv, that Ravens loss Sunday was a remarkable sight. Only Norv can lose on a 4th and 29 check down pass to Ray Rice. The Chargers defense took some of the worst angles on tackling and containment. I mean, Rice had to run more than 29 yards for the first down and he got it. From there, the Ravens tie it up to send it to OT where of course Baltimore kicked the winning field goal. Norv’s Chargers hit a new low Sunday.

The 49ers have a QB controversy that shouldn’t be a controversy. From here out, Colin Kaepernick needs to start. Alice Smith is a game manager and CK showed he can be a playmaker. Yes, New Orleans is not a defense to fear but to go on the road and win in the Superdome is impressive. If I am the 49ers, I start CK, then as the game winds down and you need a game manager, put Alice Smith in and let him hand the ball off. This accomplishes two things. One, you have your playmaker in to make big plays. Two, if CK struggles and needs to be benched or gets hurt, Smith can come in and not be a cold QB as he will have played a few minutes in each game managing the clock. Why more teams don’t do this makes no sense to me.

The Giants laid more smack down than I thought was possible on the Packers. What an impressive win by Eli and the Giants.

Atlanta still does not impress me. They are the most fraudulent one loss team I’ve ever seen. Do not expect to see them in the Super Bowl.

Carolina embarrassed Andy Reid and the Eagles further. Cam Newton ran, passed, and scored on the defense all night long. The Eagles are the mess I thought they would be and they, like the Jets, have to destroy the ship and rebuild it to get back on track.

Now let’s look ahead to Week 13 and see how wrong I’m going to be. I do not have a good feeling about several of these.

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

I have ZERO confidence on the Falcons, that said I’m not sure I want to take the Saints on the road. I am completely at a loss for what to do. I hate to give the cop out answer but when in doubt, take the home team on a Thursday night game due to the short week.

Winner: Atlanta Falcons by 1.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Buffalo Bills

Sure Jacksonville, you won a game. Enjoy it because even though the Bills are fraudulent, they aren’t pathetic.

Winner: Buffalo Bills by 3.

Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears

There are several question marks for this matchup. The biggest is which defense steps up? Both of these teams have great defenses but the difference is Seattle’s defense tends to let their guard down and give up points. Case in point: this past week’s Miami game. They had the game wrapped up, but they got lazy and gave the game to the Dolphins. It would have happened against Green Bay too if it weren’t for the terrible end zone touchdown call. Lightening does not strike twice.

Winner: Chicago Bears by 3.

Indianapolis Colts @ Detroit Lions

Apparently Chuckstrong is going to be in Detroit for this game to root on the Colts. I know I said previously it is impossible to keep up that momentum of emotion but the Colts have somehow found a way to find a new level for weeks now. The Lions are struggling but not struggling enough to drop this game.

Winner: Detroit Lions by 3.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

The Vikings have struggled without Percy Harvin and as long as he is out, the Vikings will not win. They need his special teams help to set up field position for AP and Ponder.

Winner: Green Bay Packers by 5.

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans

This is an easy one.

Winner: Houston Texans by 10.

Carolina Panthers @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Panthers have hit the jackpot. After beating the helpless Eagles on the road, they go on the road to the even worse KC Chiefs.

Winner: Carolina Panthers by 14.

San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams

As feisty as the Rams are, with CK as the 49ers QB, I have a hard time picking against them and their defense.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers by 8.

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins

I’ve not been a fan of the ‘phins all year.

Winner: New England Patriots by 18.

Arizona Cardinals @ New York Jets

This brings us to the first real Battle of the Bottomfeeders this season. Do you take the pathetic Cardinals on the road who have no good quarterbacks, or do you take the pathetic Jets with no quarterback at home?

Winner: New York Jets by 3.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Denver Broncos

I like the Bucs, I do, but I do not see them beating Peyton Manning at home.

Winner: Denver Broncos by 8.

Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders

Hey, Cleveland is coming off a win against the Steelers. Now they get to travel to the Black Hole. Nice.

Winner: Oakland Raiders by 1.

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers

This is a classic, it does not matter anymore so I’ll win a game just to keep you guessing for Norv.

Winner: San Diego Chargers by 3.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens

With Big Ben & Polamalu questionable, it’s an easy Ravens pick. The good news is, the rest of the Steelers schedule is winnable, and the wild card is still possible.

Winner: Baltimore Ravens by 4.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

What a riveting Sunday night game we have here. I’m so excited to watch this. Not.

Winner: Dallas Cowboys by 3.

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

Finally, a December game in Washington that means something for the first time in 7 years. The Redskins are coming off a long rest and they should be up for this home game on Monday night following the win in Dallas. I expect this to be a high-scoring, high-impact game. I know George is going to call me out for being unrealistic and a homer, but I don’t care…

Winner: Washington Redskins by 6.

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Predicting NFL Week 10

Hey everyone, it has been a super busy week at work and in wedding planning world so this week will be an abbreviated column. I went 12-2 last week to bring me back to a healthy 87-45 on the week.

Let’s predict Week 10 in the NFL…

Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars

The Colts are peaking at the right time despite an amazingly average defense. Jacksonville has so many issues they should have their own magazine. Oh wait, they do. Anyway, no way Jax wins this with the Colts on the Chuckstrong surge.

Winner: Indianapolis Colts by 10.

New York Giants @ Cincinnati Bengals

After a very shaky game against the Steelers at home, the Giants get back on the road against a fumbling, bumbling Bengals team. Yeah, you know where this is going.

Winner: New York Giants by 7.

Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins

This game comes at a good time for Miami coming off a tough loss. The Titans defense has been awful and Chris Johnson only breaks runs against mediocre to awful defenses. Expect a tight win at home.

Winner: Miami Dolphins by 5.

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings continue to play well but Ponder’s play has been spectacularly bad lately. The Lions need to find a running game. Of all the games this week, I’m most nervous about the pick on this one. Stafford and company have the ability to score points but their defense has been inconsistent most of the season. As big a fan as I am of Ponder, AP, and Harvin I cannot pick them this week.

Winner: Detroit Lions by 3.

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

I am sure there is no doubt who wins coming off the Patriots bye week.

Winner: New England Patriots by 14.

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

I went back and forth a few times and for some reason, I think the Saints have the Falcons number here. Atlanta is average to above average across the board and do not do anything excellently. They do enough to get the job done which is adequate enough most weeks in today’s NFL but not every week. The Saints are fired up and I foresee a shootout situation unfolding. Saints pull it off, barely, at home.

Winner: New Orleans Saints by 1.

San Diego Chargers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Chargers have played poorly week in and week out and the Bucs are overachieving. That trend continues as Doug Martin chews up yards on the ground and Josh Freeman hits enough big passes to carry them past Norv and the boys.

Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 7.

Denver Broncos @ Carolina Panthers

Carolina beat Washington, but then again who doesn’t score a lot of points on that defense, but with Peyton coming to town, I would be apprehensive about the defensive situation. Peyton will get his points on that defense so Cam Newton will have to play lights out to get the win here. HINT: he doesn’t play lights out.

Winner: Denver Broncos by 14.

Oakland Raiders @ Baltimore Ravens

Carson Palmer pulled a Carson Palmer last week unleashing 400 yards and 3 TDs but still giving up three 3 INTs for the loss. Even with no Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and company should pick him off enough times to give Flacco room to score despite his mediocre play. However, this being Baltimore they will have to let the Raiders keep it close.

Winner: Baltimore Ravens by 6.

New York Jets @ Seattle Seahawks

Oh look, a struggling offense that has no running game and a mediocre passing game is coming to play in arguably the hardest stadium to win in on the road as well as arguably the best secondary in the NFL. I’ve been on this bandwagon for weeks, I’m not jumping off now.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks by 14.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles

Here is the second hardest pick of the week. Do you take a struggling Dallas team on the road, or the equally struggling Philadelphia at home? The Cowboys have a knack for pulling off wins when they desperately need them but so does Andy Reid. I think the Eagles have a bit more heart than Dallas this year so I’ll pick them to steal a close win at home.

Winner:  Philadelphia Eagles by 3.

St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers

Please.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers by 7.

Houston Texans @ Chicago Bears

Ahhh the best AFC team coming up against one of the NFC’s best teams. I know in today’s NFL offensive firepower equals wins but I still maintain defense wins championships. New England has been to two Super Bowls in recent years and lost both to a Giants team that had a good defense that came up with big stops when they had to. Houston has an above average offense and an above average defense in a weak AFC. I know Houston is my preseason Super Bowl winner but the Chicago defense is playing better than any other defense in the league. The Texans will not be able to score at will as they have against other teams and will need to win the turnover battles to win here. If this was played in Texas, I’d take Houston. Since it’s in cold, windy Chicago, it’d Da Bears Da Bears Da Bears Da Bears.

Winner: Da Bears by 6.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Oh really? What a terrible game this will be.

Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers by 20.

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Looking at NFL Week 8 and Predicting Week 9

NFL Week 8 is in the books and I had a rather pathetic week of picks. I went a putrid 6-8 bringing me back down to earth after several weeks of good ones. Overall I’m at 75-43 for the season and ready to get back on track.

Let’s look at what we learned in Week 8.

Tampa Bay’s dismantling of the Vikings caught me by surprise. Ponder had a bad game and only through AP was it as close as it was. Some people are calling the Vikes fraudulent and I tend to disagree. It was a young QB having a bad game against a Bucs team who found a legit running game on the back of rookie Doug Martin.

I should have known better than to take the Redskins on the road but alas, live and learn. What should be noted is RGIII played a good game but Washington receivers dropped 9 passes. Don’t believe me? Read this article and watch the accompanying videos that go with it. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/video-nine-drops-redskins-receivers-put-asterisk-rg3-001337930–nfl.html

While we are on it, I mistakenly once again shoveled dirt on the Steelers only to see them dominate Washington offensively. With Baltimore’s injuries and other issues, Pittsburgh has the ability to steal the division crown once again.

Detroit barely bested Seattle. I’ve been on the Sea Chickens bandwagon or a few weeks and I’m still riding on it. They dropped a tough one in the final seconds, nothing more can be said.

Chicago’s offense was horrible on Sunday. Carolina finally cobbled together a decent game plan but still could not put it all together for a win. The Bears’ defense is a monster but that offense is wildly inconsistent. Something to watch for as the season drags on.

The wheels have completely fallen off in Philly. Andy Reid lost his first game off a bye week and the Eagles played like a team trying to punch their way out of a wet paper bag. Vick was not the problem contrary to the “talking heads” commentary. Reid was, is, and always will be.

My upset special pick looked good for about 10 minutes Sunday as the Rams shot out to a 7-0 lead only to not reach the end zone or kick a field goal for the rest of the game. Good, solid win in Merry Old London for the Pats.

I thought the Titans had the ability to knock off the Colts but boy was I wrong. Nice to see the Colts in the thick of the AFC Wild Card since every team in the AFC is sub-par compared to their NFC counterparts.

7-6. Cleveland beat San Diego 7-6. Norv has had his moments as the Chargers head coach but this had to be Norvtastic. San Diego lost to Cleveland 7-6. Let that simmer….

Miami tore the Jets apart. I had no idea the fishies had it in them. The Jets are a mess with quarterback being the most publicized, and ironically true, disaster.

Green Bay beat Jacksonville. Is anyone surprised by this?

Oakland beat Kansas City. Is anyone surprised by this?

The Cowboys find the strangest ways to lose games and the Giants keep winning. If only Dez Bryant’s two fingers had not hit first. What am I saying? I’m glad it happened. That said, the reason for Dallas’ plight does not fall at the feat of Tony Romo. Jason Garret has called some of the most boneheaded plays that have shown terrible judgment. Leading up to the two finger non-touchdown, the Cowboys had the ball at 2nd and 3 with two timeouts left and about a three minutes left on the clock. Rather than get a first down, he calls an ill-advised pass that fell incomplete. Another short pass brought them to 4th and 1 and rather than go for the first down and use your timeouts, he called the deep ball which fell incomplete. Garret is a big problem and you have to lump Uncle Jerry into it as well because he won’t stay out of player decisions. Having said that, keep burning your franchise down, as a Redskins fan it is a joy to watch.

Peyton completely dismantled New Orleans. Brees and the offense did what they could but that pathetic defense had no answer for the Donkeys who are firmly in control of the AFC West.

Alice Smith had the performance of a lifetime….against the quickly falling Cardinals. Seriously, great effort but with all the problems in Arizona it’s hard to completely celebrate it.

Now it is time to predict Week 9.

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers

The Chiefs are more pathetic than the Chargers are at this point.

Winner: San Diego Chargers by 6.

Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals

The Broncos look really good and the Bungles are merely average in a pathetic AFC.

Winner: Denver Broncos by 7.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

B’more is coming off the bye though they will work hard to give the game away.

Winner: Baltimore Ravens by 3.

Arizona Cardinals @ Green Bay Packers

Wow, what a stellar slate of games thus far. I might actually have nothing to do Sunday afternoon.

Winner: Green Bay Packers by 10.

Chicago Bears @ Tennessee Titans

Tennessee is playing better but the Bears defense should shut down their ability.

Winner: Chicago Bears by 6.

Miami Dolphins @ Indianapolis Colts

Miami is playing well but beating the Jets might actually be easier than beating the Colts which I never would have predicted prior to Week 6. Strange times we are living in that is for sure.

Winner: Indianapolis Colts by 1.

Carolina Panthers @ Washington Redskins

Get ready for a shoot-out. Hopefully the ‘skins defense can play just well enough to get the job done.

Winner: Washington Redskins by 7.

Detroit Lions @ Jacksonville Jaguars

It is not time for an upset special. The Jags stink.

Winner: Detroit Lions by 10.

Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans

I am not a fan of watching blowouts. This will be one.

Winner: Houston Texans by 14.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Oakland Raiders

I truthfully have not seen much of the Raiders this season but what I have seen has not been impressive. Can they beat Tampa? Probably. Will they? Probably not. The Bucs are surprisingly good and have found a running game. Upset special of the week…

Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 3.

Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks

Expect this to be a low scoring 10-7 type game. Both defenses are good and both offenses have their pros and cons. Of all the games this week, this one has given me the most trouble. When in doubt, take Seattle at home.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks by 3.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants

New York is a good team but they have also had some luck (see: the Dallas game last week). The Steelers defense played well against Washington but I am convinced after watching the game and seeing all the dropped passes that the game could have gone the other way or been at least been much closer. With that said, taking the Giants at home is a scary proposition because they are more likely to win on the road in a tight game than they are at home. I might be damaging my record here but here goes…

Winner: New York Giants by 3.

Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons

The Cowboys can’t catch a break and I’m loving it. With all their problems, they need a magic horseshoe to pull this out.

Winner: Atlanta Falcons by 6.

Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints

The Eagles and Saints are desperately trying to save their seasons and picking against the Saints in New Orleans is a tough pill to swallow. On top of that, with that pitiful defense, do you really want to pick the Saints with Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson coming to town? I have no clue so I’m going to punt.

Winner: New Orleans by 3.

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Looking at NFL Week 7 and Predicting Week 8

NFL Week 7 is in the books and there were very few surprises, at least for me. I went 12-1 on the week giving me an overall record of 69-35 on the season.

Let’s look at what we learned in Week 7 and look ahead to Week 8.

Thursday night’s game between the Seahawks and 49ers proves there can be competitive defensive struggles in the “Age of Goodell”. I enjoyed it from start to finish and the 49ers were a smidgen better than the Sea Chickens. We are a far cry from a few seasons ago where the winner of the NFC West was 7-9.

The Tennessee upset of Buffalo was not completely unexpected but I certainly did not think it would actually happen. Had I looked closer, I would have noticed the Buffalo defense is one of the worst run defenses in the NFL and it allowed Chris Johnson to run wild. Tennessee still is not very good (especially on defense) but Buffalo was a hair more awful.

The Weed played a good game even in defeat. The home crowd and Andrew Luck’s solid play handed the Colts a solid victory.

I knew Houston would beat Baltimore but I did not think it would be that bad. Baltimore played awful on offense and defense and Houston made the statement they are the team in the AFC to beat.

St. Louis put up a scrap against Green Bay but Aaron Rodgers went into beast mode and passed for an amazing 30-37, 342 yards, and 3 TDs.

New Orleans used some luck and a bad referee call to escape Tampa with a “W”. Amazing no one was calling for the REAL referees heads after that terrible call. The Saints defense is absolutely terrible. I’m thinking for fantasy purposes I should draft whichever QB is playing the Saints from here on out. Josh Freeman passed for 420 yards and 3 TDs. Yikes.

Dallas did everything it could to lose against the Panthers but eventually Scam Newton rolled over and pouted his way into a loss. Both teams played rather horribly and it was an ugly game to watch.

Minnesota continues to hang in there and snuck by Arizona despite a sub-par game from QB Seminole Ponder. Good thing for Minnesota AP had a 153 yard day.

The Redskins loss can be blamed on one thing: terrible defense. When Washington went up with 3 minutes to go I knew Eli was going to tee off on the secondary and score the winning touchdown. It was plain as day. RGIII played well despite one or two miscues. I can’t wait to watch the rematch at FedEx Field later in the season.

Oakland stinks. For them to go into OT against a pathetic Jaguars team that lost BOTH MJD and Blane Gabbert in the FIRST HALF! They had an entire half of Chad Henne throwing potatoes in the air going 9-20, 71 yards and they STILL could get nothing going. I’m done here.

New England used smoke and mirrors and crept by the Jets. Once again, Tom Brady and company played a terrible second half only putting up TWO field goals. If the Jets were ¾ competent they would have won outright.

The Pittsburgh-Cincinnati was one of the most boring games I have seen in primetime. I did not need any sleep aids as I was out by the end of the third quarter.

The Detroit-Chicago game was interesting and Chicago’s defense impressed me but their offense should have scored more. Chicago has an easy schedule from here out so we shall see how dominant they can be and what precedents they can set for future opponents.

Now, Week 8 predictions.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings defense is really good and Tampa performs well against WEAK defenses. Easy pick.

Winner: Minnesota Vikings by 10.

Carolina Panthers @ Chicago Bears

Carolina is desperately seeking a clue and Scam Newton is acting like a 6’5’’ crybaby. Smokin’ Jay Cutler  (http://smokinjaycutler.tumblr.com/) has a better attitude than him.

Winner: Chicago Bears by 14.

San Diego Chargers @ Cleveland Browns

It’s entirely possible The Weed could stare across the sideline at Norv, laugh and throw for 400 yards. Entirely possible. However, Chargers need a bounce back after several lackluster performances.

Winner: San Diego Chargers by 3.

Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions

This one is a tough call. Detroit is playing at home but Seattle’s defense is good enough to shut down the underperforming Stafford and Megatron. Here’s another low scoring game the Sea Chickens edge out.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks by 3.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Green Bay Packers

Gambling pick of the week for those who are foolish with their money.

Winner: Green Bay Packers by 14.

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans

The Colts have yet to win on the road. Titans are overachieving. Tough call. When in doubt, take the home team.

Winner: Tennessee Titans by 3.

New England Patriots @ St. Louis Rams

The Rams will not roll over for Big Billy and Tomcat. Watching the paint by numbers Patriot offense the last several weeks has left me underwhelmed and scratching my head as to how the “experts” believe they are the second best team in the AFC. Common sense says take the Pats but I won’t. I just won’t do it. Upset special.

Winner: St. Louis Rams by 2.

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

I dislike both teams but the Jets will do just enough to get by.

Winner: New York Jets by 5.

Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles

Atlanta has been coasting the past several weeks and the Eagles have struggled mightily. Andy Reid is backed up against the wall and the Eagles desperately need a solid performance coming off the bye week.

Winner: Philadelphia Eagles by 6.

Washington Redskins @ Pittsburgh Steelers

The instinct is to take the Iron Curtain but the Steelers defense is beat up badly and I think RGIII lights up their battered secondary. I think Washington wins this big.

Winner: Washington Redskins by 10.

Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs

Brady Quinn has been named the starter but the awful Raiders are coming to town. Is it possible for a game to end in a 3-3 tie?

Winner: No one (especially those who watch it).

Actual Winner: Oakland Raiders by 3.

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

Romo and the ‘girls have not played well and Eli Manning is a beast on the road. Then again, if Dallas wins they are right in the thick of the playoff discussion again.

Winner: New York Giants by 4.

New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos

As poorly as the Saints defense has played, Manning should pick it apart all game long. Brees will get his points but Peyton outpaces him.

Winner: Denver Broncos by 7.

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

Anyone remember when the Cards were 4-0?

Winner: San Francisco 49ers by 4.

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What We Learned in NFL Week 6 and Predicting Week 7

We are now entering Week 7 of the NFL season and things are getting more and more interesting by the week looking at the standings. Teams that were picked to be bottom feeders are sitting at 4-2 and Super Bowl favorites are mostly sitting at 3-3 or worse (*ahem* Patriots *ahem*).

I went a stellar 11-3 in Week 6 even with all of the upsets that occurred. Hey, sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut.

Now it is time to examine what we learned in Week 6.

The Tennessee upset of the Steelers surprised nearly everyone. In the Yahoo Sports picks leagues, less than 2% chose the Titans to beat the Roman Empire. I truly believe it is about time to write the Steelers off. They have a ton of injuries, a bad offensive line, and a weak secondary. The Roman Empire has been crumbling for a couple of seasons and this year it is becoming very apparent they need to regroup and rebuild.

Dallas does everything it can to give away victories. They had the Ravens beaten without their defensive leader Ray Lewis and they STILL could not get the job done. What a good showing by the Ravens to battle back and pull out the late victory.

Once again, St. Louis showed they are scrappy but on the road, it is safer to pick against them. Miami had a decent day and are slowly showing they are not as bad as most people thought they would be.

Philadelphia once again watched Vick commit turnovers and their inept defense stood there as the Lions complete a come from behind victory in overtime. Eagles fans are wishing Andy Reid had been fired along with their defensive coordinator I am sure.

Cleveland had an impressive showing against a fading Bungles team at home. Cincy has been overrated most of the season and were due for a “show your true colors” game.

NY Jets 35 IND Colts 9. Four words, I told you so. Almost everyone was thinking the Colts were suddenly good after the impressive win in Week 5. This game shows a crucial difference between the NFL and the NCAA. In the NCAA, a decent time can win several games based on momentum. In the NFL, you are either good or you are not. Maybe once or twice a year a team can pull out that emotional win but rarely is it sustained (unless you are Eli Manning in the playoffs but I digress). The Jets controlled the tempo running the ball thereby keeping Sanchez from throwing it away every other possession.

Wow, KC is really bad. So much for that playoff spot I predicted they would get.

Atlanta barely squeaked by Oakland. I know a win is a win but that is not one I would be proud of if I were Matty Ice and the Falcons.

Yet another upset I called going in. Seattle was down by double digits in the second half and came back to steal the W at home. The reason the Seahawks did it is that while the Patriots offense is good, it is also nothing special. Their basic play schemes and lack of significant playmakers at WR leave it wide open for a good defense to contain. In this case, the Seattle secondary shut down Brady’s passing options and the defensive line never let a run game take hold in the second half. Overall, great home win by the Sea Chickens.

The Cardinals: How the mighty hath fallen. Their defense went from really good to really bad in a span of two weeks. You cannot drop games to the Bills at home; you just cannot and then expect to go to the playoffs.

RGIII had an amazing game against the Vikings. If it were not for the fact that the Redskins offense is firing on all cylinders, I shudder to think what would be happening with that injury-laden defense.

The Giants-49ers game played out exactly how I thought it would. The Giants got on the board early and forced Alice Smith to throw the ball and turnovers resulted because of it. Eli and the Giants look unstoppable right now.

The Houston loss was inevitable. There was no way they were going to go undefeated so a loss now is a good thing so they can get back to the goal of every NFL team, win a Super Bowl. The smack the Packers laid down shows just how far apart the best AFC and NFC teams are in terms of talent level this season.

I knew in the second half after Manning’s first touchdown pass Norv and the Chargers were done for. The epic collapse was in the air and Norv was clueless how to stop it; it was such a treasure to watch.

Now let’s predict what is going to happen in Week 7.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

Seattle is a tough team to play at home but I have a hard time believing they can beat the 49ers on the road. The 49ers will be looking to bounce back this week.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers by 9.

Tennessee Titans @ Buffalo Bills

I know Tennessee is coming off a win against the Steelers but does anyone actually believe lightening can strike twice? For now, no it cannot.  The Bills are not very good but I think they can do enough to pull of an ugly win at home.

Winner: Buffalo Bills by 3.

Cleveland Browns @ Indianapolis Colts

Flipped a coin.

Winner: Indianapolis Colts by 1.

Green Bay Packers @ St. Louis Rams

The way the Packers played against Houston should give many teams pause.

Winner: Green Bay Packers by 10.

Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings

The Cardinals have not played the last two weeks. Until they show they can turn it around, I have a hard time picking them on the road again.

Winner: Minnesota Vikings by 7.

Washington Redskins @ New York Giants

The Redskins had an impressive win against the Vikings but beating the Giants on the road is a lot to ask. I expect a close game the Giants squeak out as time expires.

Winner: New York Giants by 3.

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Saints are coming off a bye and will be primed to beat the mediocre Bucs.

Winner: New Orleans Saints by 14.

Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers

There are many angles to take here but I’m going to stick with the Cowboys this week. They are due for a win and Carolina has yet to execute a good game plan all season.

Winner: Dallas Cowboys by 4.

Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans

The Ravens lost their leader on defense and barely squeaked by the Cowboys. If I’m going to get burned this week, this is the game that will do it.

Winner: Houston Texans by 3.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Oakland Raiders

Jacksonville is tempting to take coming off the bye but that team is in disarray. This has to be a Raiders win. It just has to be.

Winner: Oakland Raiders by an ugly 1 point.

New York Jets @ New England Patriots

Tom Brady rarely loses two games in a row though this season the once mighty Patriots look extremely soft. I think Brady has a lights out game and embarrasses the Jets in front of a partisan Patriot crowd.

Winner: New England Patriots by 14.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

There are few teams I’m wary of this year but the Steelers are one of them. They should be good but they are clearly not. Injuries have killed their defensive unit and the offensive line is once again troublesome. However, they are playing the Bungles and I have a hard time seeing them lie down against that average defense. Oh, and someone please tell me why NBC thought this would make a perfect prime-time game.

Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers by 3.

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears

I think the Lions are going to get destroyed here.

Winner: Chicago Bears by 17.

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What We Learned in NFL Week 3 and Looking Ahead to Week 4

Week 3 will go down as one of the most infamous in recent sports history. You had upsets, incompetent referees, a New Orleans meltdown, and the single worst called game in history on Monday night. The amount of miscalled penalties was atrocious and I guarantee you it will affect the playoff race.

I went a decent 8-8 bringing me closer to .500 with a 22-26 record overall.

Now, let’s look at we learned in Week 3.

Carolina is not very good and Cam Newton is not doing his homework as he did in season one. He looks overmatched and with all the generous pass interference calls offenses have been getting with the replacement refs, you really should be able to score more than seven points.

Congratulations New York Giants, I promise to never bury you again this season. You looked awesome.

I could not have been more shocked the Jags pulled of the road win against the Colts. MJD ran well and Gabbert was just good enough to get the job done. Andrew Luck still has a ways to go but he looks awesome. In 2-3 years if the Colts can rebuild properly, they will be contenders once again with Manning 2.0.

I still believe Buffalo is solidly overrated. They have played some weak teams so far this year and have been catching them at their worst. They have a cream puff schedule and will sadly contend for the playoffs, however, remember this is Buffalo we are talking about. They make a sport out of blowing big games.

The Jets look worse and worse and Miami looks even worse than I thought. Ry Ry is ok, but he has not shown he has what it takes to survive at this level. Out of all the rookie quarterbacks currently starting, he is by far the most overmatched.

New Orleans blew it. There is no better way to say it than that. Roger Goodell made an example out of the Saints and killed the team. They could go 0-16 if they do not get it together. The only way New Orleans could salvage the season is to call a Bill Parcells and have him be the interim coach through the rest of the year. The Saints play as if they are run as a committee rather than as a head coach making in-game decisions. Now that I have written all this, they will go 13-3 just to spite me.

The Bengals-Redskins turned into a shootout that had some of the worst officiating I have ever seen. Only the Redskins can drive down to the 20 for the go-ahead score, jump offside, have a coach receive an unsportsmanlike penalty because the inept referees do not know the rules, and run the last play of the game at 3 and 50. Unbelievable.

Detroit and Tennessee is another game the referees gave away. How a personal foul turned from a 15 yard penalty into a 27 yard penalty is hard to imagine. The fact that the referees did not remember where the original line of scrimmage was located, nor did they consult replay is a travesty. I never thought I would be so glad to see the real referees come back to work this week. In terms of actual gameplay, Jake Locker is getting better and Detroit had better find a running game. Detroit might also want to look at their defense. So much is written about their “unstoppable” defensive line. Trust me, unstoppable defensive lines do not give up 44 point for any reason.

Minnesota sent a shockwave throughout the league with their upset of the 49ers. Perhaps it was fatigue from so many away games, maybe it was a bad matchup, but the 49ers were never really in this game. Christian Ponder played excellently (GO NOLES!!!) and Adrian Peterson ran all over them. Minnesota has moved from the pretender to contender category.

Chicago is looking better but Cutler needs to be more consistent. Their offense did not impress me much at all.

Dallas had better step it up. The Romo Coaster is in full effect as Romo looked excellent in Week 1 against the Giants, and mediocre in Weeks 2 and 3. You cannot blame it entirely on him but as a quarterback, you are to lead a team and motivate them into playing better. It’s how Timmy Teebs got away with being a below average QB but an above average leader for the Broncos last year.

A classic Norv September choke game was on full display Sunday. The Chargers looked pathetic against a sharp Falcons team. I might have to change my “overrated” thoughts on the Falcons. However, until they play an elite team competing at their best, I withhold judgment.

Arizona – Philadelphia….I told you so. Philly has gotten lucky so far this year and ‘zona’s defense is very good. Their offensive line is also very good and Kevin Kolb has not been incompetent. I do not think anyone had the Cardinals on the “must watch” list but I think it is officially time to stop bashing the NFC West. All four teams are playing well, even the lowly Rams. The AFC South is the new NFC West.

I truly did not see Oakland pulling out a win against Pittsburgh. Carson Palmer had a good game, as did McFadden. Oakland scares me on many levels but for one week, they looked solid.

Houston made Denver look silly. Personally, Denver looked good but so far, they have arguably had to play teams that are in the top fifteen of most power rankings. As their schedule lightens up, expect to see them take control in the AFC West.

New England was robbed by horrible officiating. There I said it. I dislike the Patriots on many levels but Baltimore got very generous penalties that put them in position to win in the final two drives. Exhibit A as to why the referee strike had to end, quickly.

Now we come to the infamous Monday Night game. There is nothing substantial I can add to the discussion. If the referees were not returning this week, I might have had a longer rant. The only take away we have here is Seattle’s defense is really and the Green Bay offense is sputtering. Penalties and questionable calls ruined any chance to glean actual information about both teams.

Now, let us predict what will happen in Week 4.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

I believe the phrase is “lambs being led to slaughter”.

Winner: Baltimore Ravens by 10.

Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons

Carolina looked horrible at home and Atlanta is on a roll. Easy call.

Winner: Atlanta Falcons by 21.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

Does anyone really see Tom Brady falling to 1-3? Yeah, neither do I.

Winner: New England Patriots by 10.

Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

Detroit’s defense has played poorly so far this year. On the other hand, the Vikings are doing well, not turning the ball over and allowing Peterson to open up a passing game for Ponder. I expect a similar game plan this weekend with the Vikings picking off the Lions in this week’s upset special.

Winner: Minnesota Vikings by 6.

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

After a poor performance against Atlanta San Diego needs to bounce back. However, welcome back Jamaal Charles as he gained me 31 fantasy points Sunday!!! This could go either way. So I’ll go with San Diego because there is no way Charles has a game like that two weeks in a row.

Winner: San Diego Chargers by 3.

Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams

The Rams have been playing decent football. Not great, but decent football. However, that Seattle defense is really good and I see the Rams struggling to put up points. I’m expecting a low scoring affair.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks by 1.

San Francisco 49ers @ New York Jets

As poorly as the Jets have played, I’d be surprised if they can beat anyone that at season’s end will have a .500 or better record.

Winner: San Francisco  49ers by 3.

Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans

So, did Houston get the easiest schedule in the NFL or what?

Winner: Houston Texans by 10.

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos

Denver gets a nice bounce back after a rough couple of weeks.

Winner: Denver Broncos by 7.

Miami Dolphins @ Arizona Cardinals

We really will be saying after this Sunday, ladies and gentlemen, your 4-0 Arizona Cardinals.

Winner: Arizona Cardinals by 7.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Wow, Cincy really did luck out getting the Redskins on the road and then a road game against Jacksonville. Who’s next, the Dolphins at home then a road game in Cleveland? Oh wait…that really is happening.

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals by 10.

New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers

What a tough break for New Orleans. First, losing to the Chiefs at home followed by a road game in Green Bay after they had a win taken away from them by lousy referees. Yeah, the Packers would never make a statement game following that.

Winner: Green Bay Packers by 14.

Washington Redskins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington is due for a bounce back game. Tampa’s defense is average and their offense is atrocious.

Winner: Washington Redskins by 3.

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles

After last week, how can you not pick the Giants on the road against Philly?

Winner: New York Giants by 7.

Chicago Bears @ Dallas Cowboys

This has nightmare written all over it for both teams. Dallas has played amazingly average as has Da Bears. Overall, it’s a coin flip and I’ll take Chicago and a hot dog with a pickle spear in the bun.

Winner: Chicago Bears by 7.

 

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