Monthly Archives: November 2010

Week 12 Predictions – Power Rankings

This is the first picture that popped up when I Googled "Thanksgiving football."

I feel like last week did as good of a job as any at separating the contenders from the pretenders. So I did a new power rankings

32. Carolina Panthers (1-9) – My favorite Tweet from Sunday’s games came from @fauxjohnmadden: “UFC champion Georges St. Pierre could play quarterback better than Brian St. Pierre.”

31. Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) – I really can’t believe there hasn’t been a TO-Ocho blowup yet. We had a mini one with Owens, but something truly wonderful is going to happen at any time. Stay tuned.

30. Arizona Cardinals (3-7) – Unless the Cardinals get a quarterback soon, Larry Fitzgerald is going to turn into Kevin Garnett circa 2001. Except less of a douche bag.

29. Denver Broncos (3-7) – Of all the coaches on the hot seat, why is nobody mentioning Josh McDaniels? Think about how quickly he’s driven this franchise into the ground. Remember that the Broncos traded Peyton Hillis to the Browns for Mike Bell before the season started. MIKE FREAKING BELL!

28/27. Buffalo Bills/Detroit Lions (2-8) – I’m combining these two because I’m confident they both deserve to be here but don’t know which one is better. These might be the two best, most unlucky 2-8 teams in NFL history.

26. San Francisco 49ers (3-7) – Is it crazy to think this team could still win the NFC West? Maybe a little.

25. Minnesota Vikings (3-7) – Cue the “Frazier has rejuvenated this team! Favre likes Frazier! Look how much fun he’s having! This team looks like they’re enjoying the game again!” headlines.

24. Dallas Cowboy (3-7) – See above, except replace Frazier with Garrett.

23. Houston Texans (4-6) – With Childress and Phillips gone, McDaniels and Gary Kubiak are the current “most likely to be hired next” titleholders.

22. Tennessee Titans (5-5) – This team gets dropped below a few with worse records for one reason: Rusty Smith.

21. Cleveland Browns (3-7) – I’m convinced the Browns are going to win this season’s award for “team that makes late season surge, leading to pundits anointing them as next season’s sleeper, leading to them stumbling horribly next season because of the pressure.” Or for short, the “San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans” award.

20. Miami Dolphins (5-5) – Maybe this ranking is too high because of Tyler Thigpen. In fact, it probably is.

19. Washington Redskins (5-5) – The most confusing team in the league. Easily.

18. St. Louis Rams (4-6) – The Rams are the Browns’ closest contender for the award previously mentioned.

17. Seattle Seahawks (5-5) – I have to put them here because ranking an NFC West team higher than 17 causes kittens to die.

16. Oakland Raiders (5-5) – Sorry, Oakland. It’s San Diego’s year yet again. Some things never change.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) – I know they’re still ahead of the Chargers in the standings, but raise your hand if you think the Chiefs finish the year in first place in the AFC West.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) – The Jags at No. 14 means there are three first place teams ranked 14th or lower in the power poll.

13. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) – This is extremely low for the Colts, but it’s where they belong with the way they’ve played thus far. I still expect them to end up winning the AFC South by 2-3 games.

12. New York Giants (6-4) – The fact that the Colts and Giants are 12th and 13th just shows how much parity is in the league this year. I’m pretty sure both were in the top five just a few weeks ago. But Eli Manning is in a lot of trouble without Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) – Bill Simmons puts it best in saying it: Josh Freeman just wins football games. I know their competition has been soft and they’ve gotten blown out by good teams, but right now this is where they belong. When they finish in third behind Atlanta and New Orleans, that is where they will belong as well.

10. Chicago Bears (7-3) – Some may say this is too low for the first place team in the NFC North, but I want you to look at the next nine teams and say there is one the Bears are definitively better than.

9. San Diego Chargers (5-5) – Ridiculously high ranking for a team at .500, but I guarantee the Chargers finish no worse than 10-6 this season. I also guarantee they lose their first playoff game.

8. New Orleans Saints (7-3) – The Saints must be loving the fact that nobody is talking about them. They have quietly won three straight and the defending Super Bowl Champions will be very dangerous come playoff time.

7. Green Bay Packers (7-3) – Defense is playing better than any team in the NFL right now. Worries about a late-season defensive collapse like last season. The week 16 game against Chicago is shaping up to be a doozy.

6. New York Jets (8-2) – The luckiest team in the NFL. I think they are a shoo-in for top two seed most likely to lose its first playoff game.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) – The offensive line means they are in real trouble going forward. But no defense is more dangerous come playoff time.

4. Baltimore Ravens (7-3) – This is the year that Joe Flacco sets his place in history as either a clutch quarterback or a guy who can’t get over the hump.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) – I know Michael Vick is playing out of his mind right now, but let’s not forget who is still coaching this team. I know Eagles fans didn’t forget when the Giants were inexplicably still in that Sunday night game late.

2. New England Patriots (8-2) – I’m waiting for a defensive meltdown. Still waiting… Tom Brady is playing out of this world right now. I know because ESPN keeps reminding me.

1. Atlanta Falcons (8-2) – The only Falcons fan I know in the world is my friend Brad, and I know he’s going to be horrified that I have them at No. 1. Falcons fans just wait for bad things to happen, but right now they’re the best team in the NFL. Side note: How epic would a Falcons-Eagles NFC Championship Game in Atlanta be? Think about it.

Week 12 Picks:

New England Patriots (-7) at Detroit Lions
This has upset written all over it. Too bad I don’t have the balls to pick it. Patriots to win, Lions to beat spread.

New Orleans Saints (-4) at Dallas Cowboys
Vegas is giving Dallas way too much credit for those back-to-back victories. This one has blowout written all over it. Saints to win and cover.

Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets (-9)
I don’t think they can make this line high enough. Jets to win and cover.

Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns (no line)
This has no line because of Colt McCoy’s injury status, but I read about 5 minutes ago that Jake Delhomme is going to start because McCoy is out. You know what that means? Revenge game! Panthers to win outright.

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (-2)
I’m torn over this game. And you know what I do when I’m torn? I go with the homer pick. Packers to win outright.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants (-7.5)
Giants/Eli Manning aren’t nearly as good without Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith. Giants to win, Jaguars to beat spread.

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins (-1.5)
I’m a firm believer in the “team fires coach and wins next game” concept. Vikings to win outright.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5) at Buffalo Bills
I think we’re giving the Bills a little too much credit for being the sucky team that’s actually good. Steelers to win and cover.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)
What was that about the Bucs getting blown out against all the good teams they’ve played this year? Ravens to win and cover.

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (no line)
Which declining AFC South team is more of a mess right now? I vote for the team that’s starting Rusty Smith. Texans to win outright.

Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5) at Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are good at home. The Chiefs are bad on the road. Seahawks to win outright.

Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders (no line)
I was just kidding about that whole, being a believer in Tyler Thigpen thing last week. Raiders to win outright.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) at Chicago Bears
This week is a win-win for me. My opponent in fantasy football has Michael Vick. So either: A) Vick does awesome and the Bears lose, or B) The Bears defense shuts down Vick and my fantasy team wins! I’m going with the former. Eagles to win and cover.

St. Louis Rams at Denver Broncos (-4)
I don’t think Vegas has realized yet just how bad the Broncos really are. Rams to win outright.

San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts (-3)
This is the worst possible time for the Colts to play a team that has owned them in the past. Chargers to win outright.

San Francisco 49ers (-1) at Arizona Cardinals
Does this really have to be the Monday Night Football game this week? 49ers to win outright.

Record

Week 11 – 10-6 (10-6 against spread)
Overall:
90-68 (79-76-3 against spread)

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Week 11 Predictions – The Obsession With Right Now

Vick's performance has been awesome. But he still has a long way to go to catch Manning and Brady.

After Michael Vick’s utter annihilation of the Washington Redskins Monday night, something began to irk me.

It’s not something all that new. It’s something fans around the country have been guilty of time and time again over the years. Something we, as fans, can’t exactly help, but nonetheless needs to be addressed.

I’m talking about the obsession of “Right now.”

Let me explain with a few examples: In April when Duke beat Butler in the men’s basketball national championship, the debate became whether that was the greatest national title game of all time. When the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl two years ago, it was debated whether or not that was the greatest Super Bowl of all time.

When someone does something in sports that is incredibly great, it makes the masses wonder if it was the greatest of all time. In some accounts, the answer is yes. Those accounts are very,  very rare.

So I woke up Tuesday morning and looked at ESPN.com’s fan poll and the questions was “Who is the NFL MVP right now?” A few hours later they changed it to “Who is the best quarterback in the NFL right now?”

In both of those polls, Michael Vick was one of the candidates, as was Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and a few others. In both polls, Vick was the runaway winner.

Really?

Vick — a quarterback who has started all of five games this season and all of five games in the past 3 1/2 seasons has somehow leaped past Manning and Brady (as well as Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, etc)., and become the best quarterback in the NFL.

Don’t get me wrong. Vick’s performance Monday night was phenomenal. The fact that it was on Monday night magnified it tenfold. But how quickly do we forget the entire body of work of such already established quarterbacks? How quickly do we forget that last year Brees was the runaway winner of “best quarterback in the league?” This year, Brees is an afterthought.

The “best in the league right now” debate didn’t bug me as much. You could make the argument that Vick is playing the position better than any other in the league RIGHT NOW. But for my money, I’d still take Manning, Brady, Rivers, Rodgers or Brees to lead my team. What really irked me was the MVP debate. That’s where the “right now” problem comes from.

In the 1992-93 NBA season, MVP voters gave the award to Charles Barkley over Michael Jordan. In the 1998-99 season, they gave the award to Karl Malone over Jordan. In both cases, writers were awarding guys for having “career-best” seasons and, quite frankly, were likely sick of voting for Jordan. (Bill Simmons dives further into this argument in “The Book of Basketball).

But when you think of those season, and the names of those awards, were Barkley and Malone REALLY more valuable to the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz than Jordan was to the Bulls? The answer is no. And the answer is no when you ask that question about any player compared to Jordan from the years 1990 to 1998.

Baseball has an example, too. While the National League MVP hasn’t been decided on yet, the runaway favorite is Cincinnati Red Joey Votto. Votto had an incredible breakout year and led the Reds to a division title. He was the next big thing in baseball and will likely end Albert Pujols’ two-year run as MVP.

Is Votto more valuable to the Reds than Pujols is to the Cardinals? No way. Regardless of if Votto’s team did better than Pujols, you take Votto away from the Reds and they’re competitive. You take Pujols away from the Cardinals and they’re the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pujols is the most valuable player in baseball, and just because it’s the same old story year after year after year doesn’t make it any less true.

Voters got sick of voting for Pujols. Fans got sick of seeing him way. They wanted the next big thing. That happened to be Votto.

So let’s look at the NFL MVP argument again. Is Vick having a phenomenal season? Absolutely. Probably his best since he entered the league. But if you take Vick away from the Eagles, they still have a pretty capable quarterback in Kevin Kolb and the team around him isn’t so bad. Take Manning away from the Colts. Take Brady away from the Patriots. Those teams are not playoff caliber. They’re below .500. They’re really bad.

The problem is, voters are sick of voting for Manning or Brady. Fans are sick of seeing them win. They’re ready to move on to the next big thing, and right now, the next big thing is Vick.

Was the Butler-Duke NCAA Title game the best ever? It’s in the conversation. But people forget that there was a title game as good or better just two years prior (Kansas-Memphis, anyone?)

Was the Cardinals-Steelers Super Bowl one of the best ever? Sure. It was great. But people forget there was one as good or better just one year prior (Patriots-Giants, anyone?)

People need to take what they see into context when they see it, and it’s impossible to do. Too often do we get wrapped up in the moment and immediately slap the “best ever” label on it without really dissecting the truth. That’s something we, as fans, need to do a better job of realizing.

On to the week 11 predictions.

Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins (-1.5)
A few years ago I had a really bad fantasy team that was riddled with injuries. I picked up Tyler Thigpen when he was starting for the Chiefs and he won me a few weeks with some ridiculously unexpected good statistical games. I’m a Thigpen fan. Dolphins to win and cover.

Baltimore Ravens (-10.5) at Carolina Panthers
I expect this line to move to 12 or 13 points by game time now that Brian St. Pierre was named the Panthers’ starting quarterback. Ravens to win and cover.

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (-6)
The Terrell Owens/Chad Ocho Cinco blowup is days away. Trust me. Bengals to win, Bills to beat spread.

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5)
Every Cowboys fan’s worst nightmare is that Jason Garrett coaches well enough that Jerry Jones sticks with him instead of going after Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher. Cowboys to win, Lions to beat spread.

Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1.5)
I’m buying into the Jaguars as a competitive football team. That means they’re going to get blown out at home by Colt McCoy this week. Jaguars to win and cover.

Arizona Cardinals at Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5)
This line is absurdly high. I think the Chiefs are finally starting to come down to Earth a little. Chiefs to win, Cardinals to beat points.

Green Bay Packers (-3) at Minnesota Vikings
This game has Cowboys-Giants written all over it. But I don’t have the balls to pick it. Packers to win and cover.

Houston Texans at New York Jets (-7)
Remember how high everyone was on the Texans after the first two weeks? How inexplicable that this season will probably end up with Gary Kubiak getting fired? Jets to win and cover.

Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5)
Oakland fans, meet reality. Steelers to win and cover.

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans (-7)
The Titans are one of two teams who I consistently get wrong regardless of who they’re playing or how I pick. Titans to win, Redskins to beat spread.

Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints (-12)
The Seahawks are the other team. Saints to win and cover.

Atlanta Falcons (-3) at St. Louis Rams
This may not seem like a big deal, but road games against inferior division opponents are games you must win if you’re a Super Bowl contender. This game is no slouch for the Falcons. Falcons to win and cover.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
How ridiculous is it that the 49ers still have an outside shot of winning this division? 49ers to win, Bucs to beat spread.

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-4)
Peyton Manning in prime time against a rival? Yes, please. Colts to win outright.

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-3)
Not to sound cliche, but we’re going to find out which team in the NFC East is best this week. I think it’s the Giants. Giants to win outright.

Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers (-10)
The Chargers’ late season surge has begun. Chargers to win and cover.

Record

Week 10 – 6-7 (7-6 against spread)
Overall:
80-62 (69-70-3 against spread)

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Week 10 Predictions – My Take on Phillips, Childress

Blah Blah Blah Jerry and Wade, Wade and Jerry.

I don’t care what Jerry Jones did or did not say. I don’t care what Brett Favre said about Brad Childress or what Childress said about Favre.

I don’t care how badly the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night. I don’t care if the Minnesota Vikings came back to beat the Arizona Cardinals or not.

Well, from a fan’s standpoint, I do. But if I’m judging whether or not Brad Childress or Wade Phillips should keep/have kept their jobs, that has no bearing on it whatsoever.

Both men should have been coach of their respective teams through the end of this season. Right now, Childress still is. Phillips isn’t.

The reason Jerry Jones said Phillips was going to keep his job for the rest of the season is because he really planned on that being the case. I don’t think he was just saying it to say it. He wanted to keep Phillips in that position because canning him more than halfway through an already lost season would do no good.

The reason he bit the bullet and fired him is because fan outcry became so overwhelming that he had no choice. Object No. 1, of course, is to keep butts in the seats. And I don’t think fans were going to be filling his billion dollar stadium much longer with Phillips at the helm. With him out, they still might not.

Childress still has a job and I commend Ziggy Wilf for sticking to his guns thus far. Firing a coach midseason does nothing but put your franchise in a position worse than it already is in. Here’s why:

(We’re going to use the Cowboys for all of these hypotheticals because they already fired their coach. But just assume these apply to the Vikings as well).

So Jason Garrett is the new head coach of the Cowboys. As a Dallas fan, you’re thrilled that the franchise finally got rid of Phillips. Now what?

Worst case scenario – Phillips’ departure means nothing. The team continues to suck under Garrett and the Cowboys finish something like 2-14 or 3-13. The Cowboys can Garrett after the season and completely makeover the organization. They fire all the assistants, a few front office guys, etc.

Next year, Jones makes a splash with a big name coach (Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher) and pays up the wazoo for him. Now he’s paying Big Name Coach and Phillips (whose contract runs through 2011).

Cowboy fans may say: That’s the WORST case scenarion? And sure, that doesn’t sound all too horrible or all too unlikely given the current circumstances, but let me ask you this: Couldn’t that have all been done the same with Phillips sticking around through week 17? In this scenario, what did firing Phillips early accomplish? Putting a few extra butts in the seats? I hardly think Phillips/Garrett makes a difference. Fans aren’t going to pay to watch a 1-8 team regardless of who is at the helm.

Best case scenario – The Cowboys are rejuvenated under Garrett and go on a winning streak and finish somewhere around 6-10 or 7-9. They start blowing away opponents, leading to talking heads around the county saying things like “THERE’S the Cowboys we thought we were getting at the beginning of the season,” and “Garrett sure knows how to get the most out of his players!”

After the season, Jones hires Garrett as the full-time head coach and gives him a fairly large contract because he wants to keep his new hotshot coach around. Offseason hype starts swirling around again because of the hot finish and the Cowboys go into next season with high expectations yet again with Garrett, Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and a (supposedly) rebuilt defense.

So what’s wrong with this scenario? Well, turns out the Cowboys were playing over their heads at the end of the season. Turns out the pressure of expectations gets to Garrett and his new coaching staff. The Cowboys start next season 1-3 and the pressure’s on Garrett and Jones once again. Now what do they do? They’re already paying Garrett AND Phillips this season. They’re stuck in a revolving door of suckiness and bad coaching contracts.

Even Worse Option Than The Others That Nobody’s Talking About – Everything happens that I mention in the “Worst Case Scenario,” except there’s a lockout. Now, Jones is paying Phillips AND Big Name Coach in 2011, and NEITHER man is coaching because of a lockout.

That’s what’s looming over this entire scenario, and it’s the reason teams are smart to wait. Phillips is under contract through 2011, Childress through 2013. You fire them and hire a new guy and you could potentially be two coaches to not coach in 2011. That’s the nightmare scenario that both Wilf and Jones are envisioning. Jones still hit the panic button, Wilf hasn’t yet.

Wilf’s scenario is equally troubling because Leslie Frazier is supposedly the coach-in-waiting. The only difference between his scenario and Garrett’s is that there are expectations for Frazier to be a good head coach. So if they hand him the reins for the rest of 2010 and he flops, you’ve lost your future head coach AND a really good defensive coordinator, because there’s no way in hell he returns in 2011 as anything other than the head coach.

On to my week 10 picks:

Baltimore Ravens at Atlanta Falcons (-1)
Most bizarrely good stat I saw this week: Matt Ryan is 17-1 at home as a starting quarterback. That’s insanely good. Falcons to win and cover.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5)
Not sure why this line is so low. Jimmy Clausen is starting at quarterback for the Panthers. Bucs to win and cover.

Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills (-3)
This is the second week in a row the winless Bills are favored. That’s insane. Also, I can’t believe how much love they’re getting. They must be the best winless team in NFL history. Lions to win outright.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1.5)
Jaguars have been better than they were supposed to be this year and it frustrates me from a picking standpoint. I think this has the makings of a 42-21 game. Take the over. Texans to win outright.

Minnesota Vikings (-1) at Chicago Bears
I’ve been going back and forth on this game all week and still am not confident in picking it either way. Best case scenario: Tie. My gut says the Bears but my brain says the Vikings. That said, Bears to win outright.

New York Jets (-3) at Cleveland Browns
Break up the Browns! I think this is the week they come back to Earth and the Jets lay a stomping. Jets to win and cover.

Tennessee Titans (-1.5) at Miami Dolphins
Is it time for me to jump off of the Dolphins bandwagon? Is Chad Pennington their starting quarterback? Yes and yes. Titans to win and cover.

Kansas City Chiefs (-1) at Denver Broncos
Bold prediction: If Todd Haley is smart enough to give him a majority of the carries, Jamaal Charles threatens the single-game rushing record this week. Chiefs to win and cover.

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (-14)
Vegas has certainly given up on the Cowboys. As has the rest of America. This has letdown game written all over it for the Giants. Giants to win, Cowboys to beat spread.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-3)
Both of these teams piss me off. That is all. Seahawks to win outright.

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-6)
Call me crazy, but I think the 49ers go on a mini run here with Troy Smith at the helm. 49ers to win, Rams to beat spread.

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5)
I’m really, REALLY glad the Patriots finally got exposed last week. They weren’t as good as their record. Steelers to win and cover.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Washington Redskins
I haven’t jumped off of the Redskins bandwagon yet, but I’m slowly moving to the back of the wagon and looking for a clear landing to jump onto. Redskins to win outright.

Week 9 – 9-4 (4-8-1 against spread)
Overall:
74-55 (62-64-3 against spread)

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Week 9 Predictions – New Power Rankings

The Patriots are the best team right now, but won't be by season's end.

I have no methodology behind when and why I do power rankings. Basically, I just do them whenever I can’t think of a good topic to get in-depth about.

So here we go:

32. Buffalo Bills (0-7) – They’re playing well and they seem to be improving. Unfortunately, they still have zero wins. Is Ryan Fitzpatrick the real deal? Signs point to no.

31. Carolina Panthers (1-6) – I don’t know why I thought Matt Moore would have success getting the ball to Steve Smith. I honestly considered putting Carolina behind the winless Bills.

30. Denver Broncos (2-6) – Can we officially start talking about how Josh McDaniels has run this franchise into the ground? Have we started already?

29. San Francisco 49ers (2-6) – Troy Smith > Alex Smith. ‘Nuff said.

28. Dallas Cowboys (1-6) – Romo wasn’t the problem. The offensive line isn’t the problem. The running game isn’t the problem. The wide receivers aren’t the problem. The DEFENSE IS the problem.

27. Cleveland Browns (2-5) – The Browns up by virtue of not playing and having other teams around them play miserably.

26. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5) – I’m really, really excited for things to blow up between Terrell Owens and Chad OchoCinco in a few weeks. It’s going to happen. Really.

25. Detroit Lions (2-5) – Is it too early to start talking about the fact that Sam Bradford and Ndamukong Suh might become the best 1-2 picks in the NFL Draft in history? Bradford might break rookie passing records and Suh looks like a mix between Warren Sapp and Reggie White. It’s pretty ridiculous.

24. Arizona Cardinals (3-4) – Just a hunch here, but I think the Cardinals miss Kurt Warner.

23. Minnesota Vikings (2-5) – I can’t wait until, five years from now, Brad Childress writes a book about the last two years with Brett Favre and titles it “My Own Living Hell.”

22. San Diego Chargers (3-5) – I’m beginning to buy into the possibility of a late season run again. I’ve waffled on that possibility every week.

21. Oakland Raiders (4-4) – I’m not yet going to buy into a Raiders team that decimated the very bad Broncos and very overrated Seahawks. I think that the Chiefs, who I have bought into, will wipe the floor with them Sunday.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) – Not as good as their record.

19. St. Louis Rams (4-4) – Think about what this would’ve looked like in the preseason. The Cowboys at No. 28, Bengals at No. 26, Vikings at No. 23, Chargers at No. 22 and the Rams at No. 19 after week 8. Where are we?

18. Seattle Seahawks (4-3) – The saddest part of this pathetic division is that it could still legitimately win a playoff game. That’s how bad the NFC is this year.

17. Washington Redskins (4-4) – I have to stand by my preseason NFC East champion. And no, I don’t care about the McNabb-Shanahan controversy.

16. Chicago Bears (4-3) – My friend Jeff pointed out to be that every time I write something negative about the Bears I begin with “I’m going to get called biased for this, but…” and he’s completely right. So I won’t do that anymore. That said, the Bears won’t finish this season with any better than an 8-8 record.

15. Houston Texans (4-3) – Their defense is really, really bad. REALLY.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) – Eagles with Vick > Eagles with Kolb. But not by much.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) – I’m not buying into this team and neither is anyone with a direct relation to the organization.

12. Miami Dolphins (4-3) – Legitimate sleeper team to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card and make a Super Bowl run. Love this defense.

11. Green Bay Packers (5-3) – The Packers have always bloomed late under Mike McCarthy, and this year might not be any different. The victory over the Jets tells me they could go on a big run here.

10. Tennessee Titans (4-3) – I like the Moss acquisition for this team better than I did with the Vikings. Yes, I’m a biased asshole.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) – Legitimately good team, but still not good enough to beat the upper echelon of the AFC.

8. New Orleans Saints (5-3) – Another team I think is set to go on a late season run.

7. New York Giants (5-2) – They might win the NFC East by default because there is something wrong with every other team.

6. New York Jets (5-2) – They get taken down a notch because Rex Ryan was stupid enough to have Mark Sanchez throw the ball 38 times in swirling winds against a bad rush defense.

5. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – A little more consistency on offense would be nice. And who’d have thought T.J. Houshmanzadeh would have fallen off so much over the past two years?

4. Atlanta Falcons (5-2) – My favorite to make it to the Super Bowl out of the NFC.

3. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) – I full expect the Colts to start going nuts when they get healthy and reel off like, eight straight victories.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) – Best defense in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t look the slightest bit rusty. They’re my AFC favorites right now, but I can’t but them at No. 1 because…

1. New England Patriots (6-1) – …The Patriots are taking advantage of a soft schedule thus far to lead ahead of everyone. They’re in a great position for a first round bye and I have to rank them No. 1 because they’re playing the best right now. Does that mean I expect them to go to the Super Bowl? No. But these rankings are based off of what’s going on right now.

Onto the week 9 picks:

Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (-9)
This is the game that the Vikings dominate and makes everyone think they’re “back.” Only they’re playing the horrible Cardinals. Vikings to win and cover.

Chicago Bears (-3) at Buffalo Bills
See above. Bears to win and cover.

Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens (-5.5)
Everyone knows how much I like the Dolphins. This will be closer than people think. Ravens to win, Dolphins to beat spread.

New England Patriots (-4.5) at Cleveland Browns
This is a trap game for New England, and the Browns will play them close. Patriots to win, Browns to beat spread.

New Orleans Saints (-7) at Carolina Panthers
Saints = On the rise. Panthers = Real bad. Saints to win and cover.

New York Jets (-4.5) at Detroit Lions
There are no easy games to pick this week. I could easily see a Detroit upset here. But I don’t have the balls to pick it. Jets to win and cover.

San Diego Chargers (-3) at Houston Texans
Two teams heading in opposite directions. Chargers to win and cover.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-8.5)
The Bucs have been blown out by every good team they’ve played this year. All two of them. Falcons to win and cover.

New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks (no line)
Upset pick of the week. Charlie Whitehurst is going to get it done. Seahawks to win outright.

Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
How the Eagles are favored is absurd. Colts to win outright.

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (-2.5)
You can tell how I feel about these teams by reading my power rankings. Chiefs to win outright.

Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers (-8)
The Packers are favored by 8? That’s insane. They don’t win games in blowout fashion. Packers to win, Cowboys to beat spread.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-5) at Cincinnati Bengals
This is the game where the ticking time bomb that is Terrell Owens starts ticking a little bit faster. Steelers to win and cover.

Records

Week 8 – 9-4 (8-5 against spread)
Overall:
65-51 (58-56-2 against spread)

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