Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Hail Mary - Week 12

An abbreviated Hail Mary this week. It is Thanksgiving week and I think I have earned a one week vacation from pontificating 16 NFL games. However, predictions are below and the Hail Mary will be back to normal next week.

Games That I Will Be Watching

Green Bay (6-4) at Detroit (2-8), Green Bay favored by 11 1/2

Prediction: Green Bay 31, Detroit 17

Oakland (3-7) at Dallas (7-3), Dallas favored by 13 1/2

Prediction: Dallas 28, Oakland 10

New York Giants (6-4) at Denver (6-4), New York Giants favored by 6 1/2

Prediction: New York Giants 21, Denver 17

Washington (3-7) at Philadelphia (6-4), Philadelphia favored by 9

Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Washington 17

Chicago (4-6) at Minnesota (9-1), Minnesota favored by 11

Prediction: Minnesota 31, Chicago 21

Pittsburgh (6-4) at Baltimore (5-5), No Line

Prediction: Baltimore 24, Pittsburgh 21

New England (7-3) at New Orleans (10-0), New Orleans favored by 1 1/2

Prediction: New England 30, New Orleans 27

Rest of Week 12

Tampa Bay (1-9) at Atlanta (5-5), Atlanta favored by 12

Prediction: Atlanta 24, Tampa Bay 13

Miami (5-5) at Buffalo (3-7), Miami favored by 3

Prediction: Miami 27, Buffalo 17

Cleveland (1-9) at Cincinnati (7-3), Cincinnati favored by 14

Prediction: Cincinnati 28, Cleveland 10

Seattle (3-7) at St. Louis (1-9), Seattle favored by 3

Prediction: St. Louis 21, Seattle 20

Carolina (4-6) at New York Jets (4-6), New York Jets favored by 3

Prediction: Carolina 28, New York Jets 20

Indianapolis (10-0) at Houston (5-5), Indianapolis favored by 3 1/2

Prediction: Indianapolis 30, Houston 27

Kansas City (3-7) at San Diego (7-3), San Diego favored by 13 1/2

Prediction: San Diego 30, Kansas City 16

Jacksonville (6-4) at San Francisco (4-6), San Francisco favored by 3

Prediction: San Francisco 24, Jacksonville 20

Arizona (7-3) at Tennessee (4-6), Tennessee favored by 3

Prediction: Tennessee 28, Arizona 25

Last Week Against the Spread: 8-8
Overall Against the Spread: 84-75-1

Last Week Straight Up: 12-4
Overall Straight Up: 102-58

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cram Session - Week 13

An abbreviated Cram Session this week. It is Thanksgiving week and I think I have earned a one week vacation from pontificating on over 20 college football games. However, predictions are below and Cram Session will be back to normal next week.

Games That Matter to Me That May Not Matter to You

Nebraska (8-3, 5-2) at Colorado (3-8, 2-5)

Prediction: Nebraska 21, Colorado 20

Notre Dame (6-5) at Stanford (7-4)

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Stanford 24

Top 25

Florida State (6-5) at #1 Florida (11-0)

Prediction: Florida 42, Florida State 21

#2 Alabama (11-0, 7-0) at Auburn (7-4, 3-4)

Prediction: Alabama 30, Auburn 20

#3 Texas (11-0, 7-0) at Texas A & M (6-5, 3-4)

Prediction: Texas 45, Texas A & M 27

New Mexico (1-10, 1-6) at #4 TCU (11-0, 7-0)

Prediction: TCU 52, New Mexico 9

Illinois (3-7) at #5 Cincinnati (10-0)

Prediction: Cincinnati 38, Illinois 24

Nevada (8-3, 7-0) at #6 Boise State (11-0, 6-0)

Prediction: Boise State 44, Nevada 41

Georgia (6-5) at #7 Georgia Tech (10-1)

Prediction: Georgia Tech 34, Georgia 31

#9 Pittsburgh (9-1, 5-0) at West Virginia (7-3, 3-2)

Prediction: West Virginia 27, Pittsburgh 24

#12 Oklahoma State (9-2, 6-1) at Oklahoma (6-5, 4-3)

Prediction: Oklahoma 28, Oklahoma State 27

#14 Virginia Tech (8-3, 5-2) at Virginia (3-8, 2-5)

Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Virginia 13

Arkansas (7-4, 3-4) at #15 LSU (8-3, 4-3)

Prediction: LSU 33, Arkansas 31

#17 Miami (8-3) at South Florida (7-3)

Prediction: South Florida 30, Miami 27

#18 Clemson (8-3) at South Carolina (6-5)

Prediction: Clemson 27, South Carolina 17

#21 Utah (9-2, 6-1) at #19 BYU (9-2, 6-1)

Prediction: BYU 29, Utah 27

UCLA (6-5, 3-5) at #20 USC (7-3, 4-3)

Prediction: USC 17, UCLA 16

Rice (2-9, 2-5) at #23 Houston (9-2, 5-2)

Prediction: Houston 51, Rice 20

#24 North Carolina (8-3, 4-3) at North Carolina State (4-7, 1-6)

Prediction: North Carolina 27, North Carolina State 21

#25 Mississippi (8-3, 4-3) at Mississippi State (4-7, 2-5)

Prediction: Mississippi 35, Mississippi State 24

Last Week: 19-3
Overall: 201-53

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Week That Was

Brett Favre is the MVP of the NFL right now. That isn't a popular belief to have but the season he has had through 10 games has been ridiculous. 21 TDs, 3 INTs, 2, 482 yards passing, and a 69.7 completion percentage. Those numbers are video game worthy and a 40 year old, supposedly broken down man, is performing at that level. He has taken the entire Minnesota franchise to another level. The Vikings are Super Bowl contenders and finally found the one piece they had been missing, a true quarterback.

The Washington Redskins suffered a heart breaking loss to Dallas yesterday, 7-6. The Skins defense played very well but couldn't hold the Cowboys scoreless. The Redskins offense performed at its usualy mediocre level, but were mostly killed by 2 missed field goals by the previously perfect, Shaun Suisham. The Skins had plenty of time to try to come back, but I had no confidence that Jason Campbell would be able to lead them. He then proved me right by throwing an interception. Jason Campbell can get you in a position to win games, but he can't win you a game. It is time to move on and draft a quarterback in this April's draft.

The 49ers lost to the Packers and at 4-6 are looking like a non-playoff team. They are now 3 games behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West, and 2 games out of a wild card berth. They played terribly in the first half, much like the Houston game, rallied in the second half but fell short. Maybe they are just a team that is a year away.

The Eagles came from behind to beat the Bears and get a crucial victory. The offense made some plays when they needed to and Bears QB Jay Cutler looked awful pretty much the entire game.

In college football, Notre Dame lost another close game to fall to 6-5. Charlie Weis is done and the team will have a huge decision to make on the next coach. My choice would be current Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly. I would make a call to Florida and Urban Meyer but I don't expect him to take the job. The team has offense but no defense, and while the offense has played well, they have blown way too many chances. Nebraska has recovered from their mid-season swoon to win 4 in a row. They defeated Kansas State on Saturday night to win the Big 12 North. They still have Colorado this Friday, but the big game will be December 5th when they take on Texas in the Big 12 Championship game.

Due to it being Thanksgiving this week I will be posting both Cram Session and The Hail Mary tomorrow. It won't be my typical column, just predicted scores this week. Things will get back to normal next week.

College basketball is in full swing. I don't really get into college basketball too much until February but have been following Mason and North Carolina pretty closely. Mason went 1-2 in the Puerto Rico shootout. They nearly shocked #6 Villanova, were dominated by Georgia Tech, and beat Indiana yesterday. This is a very young group but they showed some encouraging signs in this tournament. The Tar Heels are also very young, and got demolished by Syracuse on Friday. I think Carolina can compete for the ACC Championship this season but will have some growing pains. Larry Drew III is quite a step down from Ty Lawson. The Tar Heels will shine with their big men, Deon Thompson, Ed Davis, and Tyler Zeller. But in a couple of years, watch out.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Hail Mary - Week 11

The Washington Redskins have added some intrigue to their rivalry game with the Dallas Cowboys this week. With the Redskins season quickly crashing to oblivion it appeared this game would be a cake walk for the Cowboys. However, last week, the Skins upset the Broncos and the Cowboys were manhandled by the Packers. Those performances have given Redskins fans hope that they can beat Dallas on the road for the second straight season.

Games That I Plan on Watching

Changing up the title this week as it is still undetermined if I will be in New York on Sunday. If so the only games I will probably watch are tonight's game, the Sunday Night game between Philadelphia and Chicago, and the Monday Night game. If I am in town then I will get to watch Washington at Dallas, Indianapolis at Baltimore, and New York Jets at New England.

Miami (4-5) at Carolina (4-5), Carolina favored by 3

The Dolphins have been dealt a huge blow with the news that RB Ronnie Brown is now out for the season. That means RB Ricky Williams takes over as the starter, which isn't a bad insurance policy to have. People are wondering if the Dolphins will still run the Wildcat offense without Brown. I expect them to, and I expect them to incorporate QB Pat White much more now with Brown out. The Panthers have won 4 of their last 6 games to get back in the playoff race. QB Jake Delhomme has 0 interceptions in his last three games, while the running game has also been producing. The Dolphins will miss Brown tonight and his absence will be the reason for the loss.

Prediction: Carolina 19, Miami 17

Washington (3-6) at Dallas (6-3), Dallas favored by 11

I think Vegas is giving the Cowboys way too many points for a rivalry game. The Dallas bandwagon had to let some people off last week, after the offense was embarrassed in Green Bay. The Redskins offense seems to have found a spark, whether it be Sherm Lewis calling plays, or the fact that at this stage in their careers RB Ladell Betts is better than RB Clinton Portis. The Redskins played their best game of the season against Denver but I consider that an anomaly. However, the games between these two are always close, and I expect nothing different this year. The Redskins secondary will give up one too many big plays to WR Miles Austin, giving the Cowboys the win.

Prediction: Dallas 27, Washington 20

Indianapolis (9-0) at Baltimore (5-4), Baltimore favored by 1

The Colts are surprisingly underdogs in this game. Indianapolis was a quarter away from losing their perfect season, and then the New England Patriots imploded. I was ready to pick the Ravens to win this game but then watched their awful performance against the Browns on Monday night. The Ravens are a far cry from the team that showed up the first three weeks of the season. Peyton Manning will lead another late game drive and the Colts will remain unbeaten.

Prediction: Indianapolis 24, Baltimore 21

New York Jets (4-5) at New England (6-3), New England favored by 10 1/2

The Jets have really fallen off since their Week 2 win against the Patriots. They have gone just 2-5 since and are barely alive in the AFC playoff race. The big question around the Patriots this week is can they bounce back from their crushing loss to the Colts. If any team can it is New England, led by QB Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. The Jets will play hard and not allow themselves to be blown out, but the Patriots are better.

Prediction: New England 24, New York Jets 14

Philadelphia (5-4) at Chicago (4-5), Philadelphia favored by 3

The Eagles head to Soldier Field for a Sunday night game for the second straight season. Last year, the story was how the Eagles couldn't convert a first and goal from the one, and it ended up costing them the game. QB Jay Cutler will certainly hear some boo birds from the home faithful, following his 5 INT performance at San Francisco last week. In prime time games this year Cutler has 9 INTs. The Bears will be playing for their season, a loss and there are sure to be lots of changes coming. The Eagles are also desperate for a win, as a 5-2 start has deteriorated with two straight losses.

Prediction: Philadelphia 28, Chicago 21

Tennessee (3-6) at Houston (5-4), Houston favored by 4 1/2

Titans QB Vince Young returns home, where last time he played he memorably led the Titans to victory in OT. The Titans have won three straight since putting Young back into the lineup, although the schedule has softened considerably since he took over. Titans fans will be fully behind him if he can lead them to an upset win at Houston. The Texans are still trying to get over the hump from being a mediocre team, to a good team. This is a must win game for them.

Prediction: Houston 31, Tennessee 20

Rest of Week 11

Cleveland (1-8) at Detroit (1-8), Detroit favored by 3 1/2

Watching this game would be like watching a movie starring Nic Cage and Keanu Reeves, torture.

Prediction: Detroit 5, Cleveland 3

San Francisco (4-5) at Green Bay (5-4), Green Bay favored by 6 1/2

The 49ers got a much needed win against the Bears, but it didn't do much to inspire confidence that they are back to their early season form. QB Alex Smith doesn't look nearly as good as he did in that second half against Houston. WR Michael Crabtree has been a bright spot. The team hasn't shied away from getting the rookie involved and he seems to be developing some chemistry with Smith. The Packers looked a lot like the team I expected them to be in their dominating win over Dallas. The defense played very well, especially QB Charles Woodson. I grew to hate the Packers due to their dominating playoff performances over the 49ers in the 90's so it would only be fitting for them to put the nail in the 49ers playoff chances.

Prediction: Green Bay 26, San Francisco 17

Pittsburgh (6-3) at Kansas City (2-7), Pittsburgh favored by 10

The Steelers played like absolute garbage at home against the Bengals and made me lose to an 0-9 team in fantasy football. The Chiefs picked up another win but then found out they will be without their best player, WR Dwayne Bowe for the next four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Doesn't really matter much though, the Steelers were winning this game regardless.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 34, Kansas City 14

Seattle (3-6) at Minnesota (8-1), Minnesota favored by 11

The Saints may be 9-0 but I think the Vikings have proven they are the best team in the NFC. QB Brett Favre continues to play tremendously and the entire team has a Super Bowl feel around them. The Seahawks are on the down slide as this year has proven that even with a healthy Matt Hasselbeck rebuilding years are ahead for them.

Prediction: Minnesota 28, Seattle 20

Atlanta (5-4) at New York Giants (5-4), No Line

This game has huge playoff implications, not only for right now but in any possible tie-breakers between these teams when the season concludes. The Falcons have really disappointed since starting the year 4-1. QB Matt Ryan has not been playing well, and now the Falcons may be without RB Michael Turner for this game. The Giants had a much needed bye week after losing four in a row. New York is already in panic mode but it will be a state emergency if they lose this one.

Prediction: New York Giants 24, Atlanta 23

New Orleans (9-0) at Tampa Bay (1-8), New Orleans favored by 11 1/2

The Saints keep winning but they have definitely showed some chink in their armor. They may be caught looking ahead to next week's Monday night game against the Patriots, which will prevent them from blowing out the hapless Bucs.

Prediction: New Orleans 30, Tampa Bay 20

Buffalo (3-6) at Jacksonville (5-4), Jacksonville favored by 8 1/2

The Bills finally fired coach Dick Jauron and have now decided to go with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their QB. The Jaguars schedule is keeping them in the thick of the AFC playoff race. They aren't very good but they keep getting to play teams that aren't any better than them.

Prediction: Jacksonville 30, Buffalo 24

Arizona (6-3) at St. Louis (1-8), Arizona favored by 9

The Cardinals are quickly pulling away in the sorry NFC West and showing no signs of being hit with the Super Bowl loser curse of the 2000s. If the Niners lose and the Cardinals win, then the Niners can already start thinking about 2010, blargh.

Prediction: Arizona 34, St. Louis 17

San Diego (6-3) at Denver (6-3), No Line

How quickly things can change. After these teams met in San Diego the Broncos were 6-0, the Chargers 2-3, and the Broncos were looking like a sure bet to take the AFC West. But for the second straight season, the Broncos have collapsed and now with a loss to San Diego, the Chargers would be in first place in the AFC West. The Broncos might be without starting QB Kyle Orton in this one, and anyone who saw last weekend's game knows how bad Chris Simms is. The Chargers are hot, the Broncos are not, Chargers win.

Prediction: San Diego 27, Denver 13

Cincinnati (7-2) at Oakland (2-7), Cincinnati favored by 9 1/2

The Bengals are looking like one of the best teams in football but something about this game makes me nervous. It has trap game written all over it. The Raiders have finally pulled the plug on awful QB Jamarcus Russell. It has not been confirmed yet if the reason Russell isn't playing is due to poor performance or because coach Tom Cable beat the crap out of him.

Prediction: Cincinnati 20, Oakland 13

Last Week Against the Spread: 8-7
Overall Against the Spread: 76-67-1

Last Week Straight Up: 9-6
Overall Straight Up: 90-54

I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to Ron Burgundy FC. They defeated the undefeated Black Mambas 1-0 on Wednesday night. The Mambas entered the game 11-0, and had outscored their opponents 46-8. Burgundy was short handed for the game, missing their usual goal keeper and relying on just one male sub. They played the best game I have ever seen them play. I have a feeling me wearing my Champ Kind RB jersey had something to do with the win!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cram Session - Week 12

This weekend's college football action would be a cure for insomnia. Considering I haven't been sleeping well lately, I wish I could just try watch college football all day Saturday so I could get some rest. There is only one game between teams in the Top 25, and all of the undefeated teams are playing against teams they should have no problem with. Pretty much just counting down to December 5th when Alabama will play Florida, and Texas will play in the Big 12 Championship.

Games That Matter to Me That May Not Matter to You

Kansas State (6-5, 4-3) at Nebraska (7-3, 4-2)

This is a de facto semi-final game to determine who will represent the Big 12 North in the Big 12 Championship. Both of these teams are probably just playing for the right to get beat by Texas. Interestingly, if the Wildcats lose this game they not only won't go to the Big 12 Championship, they won't even go to a bowl! Kansas State has earned back some respectability with the return of Bruce Snyder as coach. However, they have been a pretty mystifying team as some of their losses have been awful. Losing to Louisiana-Lafayette, losing 66-14 at Texas Tech, and then losing at home last week to Missouri 38-12. The Wildcats prefer to run the ball and are led by RB Daniel Thomas and his 1,166 rushing yards, and 11 TDs. When the Wildcats do decide to throw most of the passes go to WR Brandon Banks. Nebraska saw some encouraging signs from their offense in the win over Kansas last week. RB Roy Helu has returned to form, scoring 3 TDs and rushing for over 100 yards against KU, and QB Zac Lee has been avoiding mistakes. Nebraska will be at home and really shouldn't struggle to win this game. I think they will struggle but still win and reach their goal before the season started, of reaching the Big 12 Championship.

Prediction: Nebraska 27, Kansas State 20

Connecticut (4-5) at Notre Dame (6-4)

Some people still don't believe the Irish will have a new coach next season due to the enormous buyout required to fire Charlie Weis. I think he is gone no matter what, but he could make a slight case for himself if Notre Dame wins out. That has been said for weeks though and the Irish have proven that them winning out is highly unlikely. However, this is a game they should win. Last year's Senior Day was disastrous as the Irish blew a 4th quarter lead to pathetic Syracuse. Connecticut comes into this game losers of four of their last five. They rely on a dual RB committee of Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon. The problem as it has been all year is the Notre Dame defense and whether the Irish win or not will depend on them. The Irish also need to start getting touchdowns in the red zone, which has been a problem all year.

Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Connecticut 28

Top 25

Florida International (3-7) at #1 Florida (10-0)

Florida's schedule is such a joke.

Prediction: Florida 38, Florida International 10

Chattanooga (6-4) at #2 Alabama (10-0)

Alabama's isn't been much better.

Prediction: Alabama 41, Chattanooga 14

Kansas (5-5, 1-5) at #3 Texas (10-0, 6-0)

Kansas has completely fallen apart, losing five in a row after a 5-0 start. There is also talk that head coach Mark Mangino might have assaulted one of his players! What a mess and not the recipe to compete with Texas at Texas.

Prediction: Texas 41, Kansas 13

#4 TCU (10-0, 6-0) at Wyoming (5-5, 3-3)

TCU has been doing what the other undefeateds can't seem to do, blow good teams out. BYU and Utah caused little trouble for the Horned Frogs, and I doubt Wyoming will either.

Prediction: TCU 47, Wyoming 17

#6 Boise State (10-0, 5-0) at Utah State (3-7, 2-4)

Boise State seems poised to go undefeated a second straight regular season, but they will probably have to win big in their last two games to make their case for a BCS berth.

Prediction: Boise State 34, Utah State 17

#8 LSU (8-2, 4-2) at Mississippi (7-3, 3-3)

People seem to think LSU is really good despite them not beating a ranked team all season. Mississippi fell off the national radar pretty quickly but has slightly turned around their season. This is a tough game to call, but with QB Jordan Jefferson likely to play, I think the Tigers get the road win.

Prediction: LSU 23, Mississippi 20

#10 Ohio State (9-2, 6-1) at Michigan (5-6, 1-6)

Another awful year for the Wolverines and it will be made worse when their hated rivals, the Buckeyes, make them miss a bowl game for the second straight season.

Prediction: Ohio State 27, Michigan 21

#11 Oregon (8-2, 6-1) at Arizona (6-3, 4-2)

This game has Rose Bowl implications. A win by the Ducks will put them one win away from going to face Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Arizona will have something to say about that, as they have their own slim Rose Bowl hopes. Oregon has struggled at Arizona in the past but I think this is a better, more talented team and they will get the job done.

Prediction: Oregon 34, Arizona 31

Colorado (3-7, 2-4) at #12 Oklahoma State (8-2, 5-1)

Colorado gets to be embarrassed on a national Thursday night stage yet again.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 33, Colorado 20

Minnesota (6-5, 3-4) at #13 Iowa (9-2, 5-2)

Iowa saw their national championship and Rose Bowl hopes die in consecutive weeks. This week they will be playing for a BCS at large berth. They put up a good fight at Ohio State without QB Ricky Stanzi and I believe they will play well against the Golden Gophers.

Prediction: Iowa 27, Minnesota 14

#14 Penn State (9-2, 5-2) at Michigan State (6-5, 4-3)

Penn State will finish the season as the most underwhelming 10-2 team EVAR. They might even be rewarded with a BCS berth.

Prediction: Penn State 21, Michigan State 20

North Carolina State (4-6, 1-5) at #15 Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2)

I wonder if NC State coach Tom O;Brien regrets leaving Boston College yet?

Prediction: Virginia Tech 38, North Carolina State 21

#16 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2) at Northwestern (7-4, 4-3)

Northwestern is better than people give them credit for and I feel like picking an upset.

Prediction: Northwestern 25, Wisconsin 23

#25 California (7-3, 4-3) at #17 Stanford (7-3, 6-2)

Stanford is one of the hottest teams in football after winning at home against Oregon and then killing USC at the Coliseum last weekend. Cal surprisingly won against Arizona without RB Jahvid Best, and will likely be without him again this week. I am afraid of what Stanford might do to Notre Dame next week.

Prediction: Stanford 41, California 27

#19 Oregon State (7-3, 5-2) at Washington State (1-9, 0-7)


Prediction: Oregon State 41, Washington State 10

Duke (5-5, 3-3) at #20 Miami (7-3, 4-3)

I love that Miami was just a pretty good team and not this amazing team everyone wanted to anoint them as at the start of the season. Duke will need to win its last game to become bowl eligible.

Prediction: Miami 34, Duke 14

San Diego State (4-6, 2-4) at #21 Utah (8-2, 5-1)

Utah will still be licking their rounds from the beating at the hands of TCU. San Diego State will be the cure for their ills.

Prediction: Utah 28, San Diego State 13

Air Force (7-4, 5-2) at #22 BYU (8-2, 5-1)

Air Force has proven to be a pretty tough team and should give the Cougars some problems. I like BYU to win on a last second field goal.

Prediction: BYU 19, Air Force 16

Virginia (3-7, 2-4) at #23 Clemson (7-3, 5-2)

Virginia coach Al Groh is just playing out the string. Clemson can clinch a berth in the ACC championship against Georgia Tech with a win. Clemson RB C.J. Spiller continues to find new ways to score touchdowns and would be a Heisman candidate on a better team.

Prediction: Clemson 35, Virginia 17

Memphis (2-8, 1-5) at #24 Houston (8-2, 4-2)

Houston QB Case Keenum might have lost his chance to be invited to New York for the Heisman presentation with the Cougars loss to UCF last week. Houston is the only ranked Conference USA team but could miss out on the conference championship if SMU wins out.

Prediction: Houston 51, Memphis 17

Last Week: 20-3
Overall: 182-50

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Hail Mary - Week 10

Before the season began I predicted a 10-6 record and a playoff berth for the Cincinnati Bengals. I liked that they had Carson Palmer back under center, and I thought they had made some really good strides on the defensive side of the ball. However, I never expected them to sweep the Baltimore Ravens, and have a chance at sweeping the Steelers this Sunday. Some people are still iffy about how "real" the Bengals are, but if they win at Pittsburgh Sunday, there should be no doubters left.

Games That I Will Be Watching

Chicago (4-4) at San Francisco (3-5), San Francisco favored by 3

Thursday night football begins with two teams in desperate need of victories. The Bears defense has finally been exposed to the public as the frauds they have been the last two seasons. The 49ers have been struck by the curse of Michael Crabtree, having not won a game since signing him. For the 49ers to win they have to stop turning the ball over. QB Alex Smith threw 3 INTs in the loss to Tennessee and those led to points each time for the Titans. The defense can definitely force Bears QB Jay Cutler into some mistakes. I like the Niners, knowing that a loss essentially ends their season, to get the win.

Prediction: San Francisco 27, Chicago 21

Denver (6-2) at Washington (2-6), Denver favored by 4

Ever since I decided that the Broncos were the best team in football they have gone and lost two straight. Maybe I am a curse because for the first six games I kept picking against Denver and they were doing just fine. The Redskins have been decimated by injuries but one positive will be the ascension of RB Ladell Betts to the starting lineup. When he replaced Clinton Portis in the game against Atlanta, he showed a burst that Portis hasn't shown in a year. I don't think the Broncos offense is high powered so hopefully the Skins defense will not allow the big plays that have been killing them. However, I expect Elvis Dumervil of the Broncos to be constantly harassing Jason Campbell. I think the Skins keep it close but lose their fifth straight.

Prediction: Denver 20, Washington 17

Dallas (6-2) at Green Bay (4-4), Dallas favored by 3

The Cowboys are one of the hottest teams in the league, while the Packers are in disarray. Cowboys QB Tony Romo has played exceptionally during the Cowboys four game winning streak. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is playing behind the worst offensive line in football, but also is taking some heat for holding on to the ball too long. This will be a tough game to watch because these are my two most hated teams. I could never cheer for the Cowboys though so I guess I will root for the Packers. That reason alone, means they will lose.

Prediction: Dallas 28, Green Bay 20

New England (6-2) at Indianapolis (8-0), Indianapolis favored by 3

I decided to be different and lead off this column with Cincinnati/Pittsburgh, but there is no question this is the game of the week. Every year these two teams seem to meet, and every year they are both contenders. Last years game lost some of its sizzle with Tom Brady being out, but he is back and this game should be great. The big question will be which defense will step up and stop the other teams offense. The Colts offense has been having a bit of an issue scoring points the last two weeks. I think the Colts have been surviving by the skin of their teeth lately, and they are due for a loss.

Prediction: New England 28, Indianapolis 27

Baltimore (4-4) at Cleveland (1-7), Baltimore favored by 10 1/2

First Monday night stinker of the season. I love football so I will watch but what an awful game. The Browns did make quite a statement when they were on Monday Night Football last year, destroying the Giants. Brady Quinn is back as the starter, though that doesn't figure to change much. The Ravens have really struggled since looking like the best team in football after the first three weeks of the season. They will win this one but the Browns won't be routed.

Prediction: Baltimore 21, Cleveland 14

Rest of Week 10

Buffalo (3-5) at Tennessee (2-6), Tennessee favored by 6 1/2

The Bills return to the scene of the Music City Miracle, where their disastrous current 10 year run began. Tennessee has shown some life since inserting Vince Young back as the starting quarterback. Not really sure what took that overrated, fluke fraud Jeff Fisher so long. The Bills get back QB Trent Edwards, but might be without WR Terrell Owens. Honestly, makes no difference either way.

Prediction: Tennessee 24, Buffalo 17

New Orleans (8-0) at St. Louis (1-7), New Orleans favored by 13 1/2

I don't expect the Saints to need to come from behind to win this one.

Prediction: New Orleans 49, St. Louis 17

Tampa Bay (1-7) at Miami (3-5), Miami favored by 10

I pretty much blasted Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman last week in this column so I need to give him his due. He played very well against the Packers, leading the Bucs to their first win of the season. Going on the road is a different animal though. Miami, despite being 3-5, has a very manageable final 8 games and still has plenty to play for.

Prediction: Miami 30, Tampa Bay 21

Detroit (1-7) at Minnesota (7-1), Minnesota favored by 16 1/2

Detroit has seemed to give the Vikings fits their last few meetings. The Vikings always come out on top, but its never easy. Brett Favre also seems to save his best for the really good teams, so I expect Vikings RB Adrian Peterson to be the one to lead this victory.

Prediction: Minnesota 31, Detroit 17

Jacksonville (4-4) at New York Jets (4-4), New York Jets favored by 6 1/2

These two teams are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs in the AFC. The loser will be in big trouble, while the winner will still be in the thick of the race. Jacksonville is a pretty fraudulent 4-4, and while I don't think the Jets are much better, they will win at home.

Prediction: New York Jets 30, Jacksonville 23

Cincinnati (6-2) at Pittsburgh (6-2), Pittsburgh favored by 7

Obviously Vegas doesn't believe in the Bengals, making the Steelers seven point favorites at home. The Steelers have looked very good during their 5 game winning streak, especially the defense, which is a completely different animal with S Troy Polamalu in the lineup. The Bengals won at Pittsburgh in 2005 on their way to winning the AFC North. Will history repeat itself here? I don't think so. The Steelers are clicking both offensively and defensively, and revenge will be on their minds due to the Week 3 loss at Cincinnati.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 30, Cincinnati 24

Atlanta (5-3) at Carolina (3-5), Atlanta favored by 1/2

Falcons QB Matt Ryan has not looked very good his last two games, which has coincided with RB Michael Turner going off. If they can both get on the same page, then the Falcons will be very dangerous. Carolina's only chance to win any games are when they can get their running game going. I think RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will be factors, but QB Jake Delhomme and his putrid 5 TDs through 8 games will cause another Panthers loss.

Prediction: Atlanta 31, Carolina 21

Kansas City (1-7) at Oakland (2-6), Oakland favored by 1 1/2

I feel sorry for anyone that has to witness this game.

Prediction: Kansas City 10, Oakland 9

Philadelphia (5-3) at San Diego (5-3), San Diego favored by 2 1/2

The Eagles last trip out west ended with a miserable loss to Oakland. They need to play much better this time to have a chance to win and also to try to keep pace with Dallas in the NFC East. Chargers QB Philip Rivers will look for the big play to WR Vincent Jackson, while Eagles QB Donovan McNabb will try to do the same with WR Desean Jackson. This should be a fun game that comes down to the final seconds.

Prediction: San Diego 27, Philadelphia 24

Seattle (3-5) at Arizona (5-3), Arizona favored by 8 1/2

Surprisingly, the Cardinals are a much better road team than home team this year. They are 4-0 on the road, and just 1-3 at home. That means the Seahawks will hang around in this game, but I don't think the Cardinals have another ugly home loss in them right now.

Prediction: Arizona 34, Seattle 27

Last Week Against the Spread: 7-6
Overall Against the Spread: 68-60-1

Last Week Straight Up: 7-6
Overall Straight Up: 81-48

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cram Session - Week 11

Before the season began it was expected that this weekend's game between Nebraska and Kansas would be one of the top games of the weekend. Instead it is two underachieving and unranked teams fighting just to get a win. Nebraska needs to win to keep pace with Big 12 North division leader Kansas State. The Jayhawks just need a win period, as they have dropped four in a row since starting the season 5-0.

Games That Matter to Me That May Not Matter to You

Nebraska (6-3, 3-2) at Kansas (5-4, 1-4)

As with any game recently, if the Cornhuskers are to win it will be on the strength of their Blackshirts defense. The defense forced Oklahoma QB Landry Jones to throw 5 INTs and only allowed a field goal, in a 10-3 win. The Huskers have a good chance to contain a Kansas offense that has been sputtering its last three games. Kansas QB Todd Reesing's numbers are way down this season, 17 TDs to 8 INTs. During the four game losing streak he has thrown 4 TDs and 5 INTs. RB Toben Oporum has also struggled during the slide, and will need to try to generate something to take some of the pressure off Reesing. Kansas' poor defense is really irrelevant as the Huskers have shown they can't really score on any Big 12 team. QB Zac Lee looks like he might have gotten his job back. One promising note from the game against Oklahoma was RB Roy Helu Jr. getting back to his normal workload. The offense has really suffered since he was hurt. I think the Nebraska defense will cause Reesing to turn the ball over and the Huskers will win this game, setting up a season defining game against Kansas State next weekend.

Prediction: Nebraska 21, Kansas 16

Top 25

#1 Florida (9-0, 7-0) at South Carolina (6-4, 3-4)

Some are predicting this could be an upset but the Gamecocks play the last two weeks suggests otherwise. Florida hasn't looked impressive in weeks but they won't need to as long as they keep winning. South Carolina's defense has struggled mightily in recent weeks, and I could see Gators QB Tim Tebow having an impressive game.

Prediction: Florida 34, South Carolina 20

#2 Alabama (9-0, 6-0) at Mississippi State (4-5, 2-3)

Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen has given them some spark, as they are much more competitive than they have been in previous years. They will hang around in this game for a bit, but Alabama's suffocating defense will shut the door.

Prediction: Alabama 27, Mississippi State 13

#3 Texas (9-0, 5-0) at Baylor (4-5, 1-4)

This game would have been far more intriguing had Baylor not lost starting QB Robert Griffin III to a season ending injury a few months back. Texas in a romp.

Prediction: Texas 38, Baylor 14

#16 Utah (8-1, 5-0) at #4 TCU (9-0, 5-0)

Hopefully this Mountain West showdown is far more entertaining than TCU's blowout of BYU was a few weeks ago. The Utes have won 7 in a row since losing at Oregon in Week 3. For them to win this game they will have to get a big game from RB Eddie Wide. Wide has run for over 100 yards in his last 6 games. I have picked against TCU a couple times this year and it has blown up in my face. TCU knows that a win in this game and they likely have stamped their ticket to a BCS bowl.

Prediction: TCU 27, Utah 20

#25 West Virginia (7-2, 3-1) at #5 Cincinnati (9-0, 5-0)

This is the Bearcats last Big East test before what would be the conference deciding game against Pittsburgh to close the season. West Virginia looked listless on the road against South Florida two weeks ago, and can't have the same effort if they are going to have chance in this one. Star RB Noel Devine has struggled the last two weeks, so he will be one of the key players to watch. The Bearcats are sticking with QB Zach Collaros in this one, although coach Brian Kelly has said usual starter Tony Pike might see some playing time. Not a big fan of rotating QB's but I don't think it will have an adverse effect in this game.

Prediction: Cincinnati 31, West Virginia 20

Idaho (7-3, 4-2) at #6 Boise State (9-0, 4-0)

The Broncos have looked vulnerable in recent weeks, including last week when they nearly blew a huge lead against Louisiana Tech. They also saw their shot at a BCS bowl take a hit with Oregon's loss to Stanford. I'd give the Vandals of Idaho more of a chance in this one if they were hosting it, rather than playing on the blue turf of Boise.

Prediction: Boise State 35, Idaho 20

#7 Georgia Tech (9-1, 6-1) at Duke (5-4, 3-2)

This is probably the biggest game that Blue Devils have hosted in 15 years. The Yellow Jackets barely survived a scare from Wake Forest, and have been a tough team to figure out. They win consistently but some weeks they look unbeatable, while others they look vulnerable. Basically the story of almost every highly ranked team this year. The Blue Devils will play hard but Tech is another team I have learned to stop picking against.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 30, Duke 19

Louisiana Tech (3-6) at #8 LSU (7-2)

LSU in a rout.

Prediction: LSU 41, Louisiana Tech 10

Stanford (6-3, 5-2) at #9 USC (7-2, 4-2)

How USC is ranked ahead of an Oregon team that beat the crap out of them I will never understand. Stanford just ran over Oregon and returns to the scene of one of the biggest upsets in college football. Two years Stanford won at USC as 42-point underdogs. People are giving them much more of a chance in this one, especially with the recent unsteady play of USC freshman QB Matt Barkley. The offense has really been scuffling, but Stanford's defense is pretty weak. No upset this time.

Prediction: USC 27, Stanford 17

#10 Iowa (9-1, 5-1) at #11 Ohio State (8-2, 5-1)

This game lost its national appeal with the Hawkeyes loss at home to Northwestern, but a trip to the Rose Bowl is still on the line. Iowa is without starting QB Ricky Stanzi for the remainder of the regular season. Ohio State looked great at Happy Valley, and far removed from the team that was stunned at Purdue. The Buckeyes will have roses in their mouths by the end of this one.

Prediction: Ohio Stat 28, Iowa 14

Notre Dame (6-3) at #12 Pittsburgh (8-1)

I have already said enough about Notre Dame's struggles, I just hope this game doesn't get ugly. The Notre Dame defense gave up over 300 yards rushing to Navy last week, and now has to contend with freshman sensation RB Dion Lewis. Notre Dame has a very porous defense so the offense can't turn the ball over like they did against Navy. Too much Lewis in this one for Notre Dame to win.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 41, Notre Dame 28

Arizona State (4-5, 2-4) at #13 Oregon (7-2, 5-1)

RB LeGarrette Blount returns from his suspension for punching a Boise State player. Not sure how much he will actually contribute but I am sure his teammates will be glad to have him back. Bad week for the Sun Devils to travel to Autzen Stadium, as Oregon is angry after blowing their national title hopes last week.

Prediction: Oregon 45, Arizona State 28

#14 Miami (7-2, 4-2) at North Carolina (6-3, 2-3)

I haven't bought into the Miami hype all season and while the Tar Heels aren't great, I think they pull off the mini upset.

Prediction: North Carolina 24, Miami 21

#15 Houston (8-1, 4-1) at UCF (5-4, 3-2)

Houston needed a miracle finish to defeat Tulsa last weekend. QB Case Keenum with his 28 TDs and 5 INTs is starting to generate some Heisman buzz. For him to get invited to New York, the Cougars will need to keep finding ways to win.

Prediction: Houston 38, UCF 37

#17 Arizona (6-2, 4-1) at California (6-3, 3-3)

The Wildcats quietly keep winning and are right there in the race for the Rose Bowl. They can't look ahead to next week's game against Oregon. Fortunately for them, Cal will be without stud RB Jahvid Best, who suffered a horrifying injury last weekend.

Prediction: Arizona 24, California 17

Indiana (4-6, 1-5) at #18 Penn State (8-2, 4-2)

The Hoosiers have got to be wondering what might have been for their season if they could have just held on to some of the big leads they have had this year. Penn State hasn't beaten anyone good all season, and after this game will be the fraudiest 9-2 team in the history of EVAR.

Prediction: Penn State 33, Indiana 23

Texas Tech (6-3, 3-2) at #19 Oklahoma State (7-2, 4-1)

The Red Raiders were able to get their fat little girlfriends out of their minds long enough to trounce Kansas last week. Oklahoma State will have them wishing they were back with those girlfriends after this game.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 44, Texas Tech 27

Michigan (5-5, 1-5) at #20 Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2)

The wheels have come off for Michigan. I still can't believe Notre Dame lost to this crappy team. Things won't get better in Madison.

Prediction: Wisconsin 35, Michigan 24

#21 Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) at Maryland (2-7, 1-4)

Virginia Tech should quit football if they can't beat this sorry Maryland team.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 30, Maryland 16

#22 BYU (7-2, 4-1) at New Mexico (0-9, 0-5)

The less said about this game the better.

Prediction: BYU 48, New Mexico 7

Washington (3-6, 2-4) at #23 Oregon State (6-3, 4-2)

That USC loss to Washington keeps looking worse and worse. Wish the pollsters would notice.

Prediction: Oregon State 37, Washington 24

#24 South Florida (6-2, 2-2) at Rutgers (6-2, 1-2)


Prediction: Rutgers 21, South Florida 14

Last Week: 16-6
Overall: 162-47

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Week That Was

For the second time in three years, Notre Dame lost at home to Navy. With the loss the Irish's hopes of a BCS bowl are gone, and the writing is on the wall for pathetic head coach Charlie Weis. The Irish gave the game away, missing two field goals, and turning over the ball multiple times in the red zone. I was worried about this game because Navy always gives tremendous effort, but Notre Dame should beat Navy on talent alone. I could very easily see the Irish losing to Pittsburgh, and Stanford, jeez maybe even Connecticut and finishing 6-6. Weis has the program stagnant, despite having very talented players the Irish are mediocre. That comes back to coaching. Weis needs to be fired and the defense, which has been pathetic, needs to be revamped.

Nebraska gave me something to be happy about as they upset Oklahoma, 10-3. Sooners QB Landry Jones threw 5 INTs, and the Huskers rode their defense for the win. Cody Green was pulled for being ineffective, and while Zac Lee wasn't much better, the offense avoided turning over the ball. The Huskers travel to Kansas on Saturday, to take on the Jayhawks who have dropped four in a row, after a 5-0 start.

Another rough day for me as a fan in the NFL. The 49ers are officially reeling after losing to the Titans. The loss dropped San Francisco to 3-5, and they are now two games behind Arizona. QB Alex Smith played poorly, throwing 3 interceptions. The Niners have a quick turnaround, as they take on the Bears Thursday in a must win game. The Dolphins lost a tough one at New England, to fall to 3-5. The Wildcat offense was effective but the Dolphins couldn't make enough big plays to get the win. The Eagles fell at home to Dallas, and now the Cowgirls are all alone in first place in the NFC East. It was a hard fought game that basically came down to Philadelphia running out of timeouts because of two challenges they lost. The challenges were against the placement of the ball by the officials, and the horrible refs couldn't admit they screwed up each time. As for the Redskins, same old crap, just a different Sunday.

College basketball starts up this week as George Mason has their home opener Friday night against Liberty. Mason has more expectations for the 2010-2011 season than they do this one. Mason has brought in a ton of talented Freshman, including redshirt F Kevin Foster, F Paris Bennett, F Luke Hancock, G Sherrod Wright, and G Rashad Whack (great name). Mason also returns highly talented G Cam Long, F Mike Morrison, and F Ryan Pearson. I think Mason can compete in the CAA this year, but worry how they will fare on the road where they struggled last year. One thing is for sure, it will be fun to watch.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Hail Mary - Week 9

The last time the Dallas Cowboys ventured to Philadelphia was the last week of the 2008 regular season. Both teams had found out that a win would mean they were in the playoffs, and a loss would mean watching the playoffs. The Eagles came out inspired and played like they were fighting for their playoff lives. On the other hand, the Cowboys laid down like little b****** and were destroyed. They meet this Sunday night in Philadelphia and first place in the NFC East will be on the line. Will the Cowboys show up this time?

Games That I Will Be Watching

Washington (2-5) at Atlanta (4-3), Atlanta favored by 10

Redskins fans were spared a weekend of misery last weekend with the Skins bye. It was a nice one week sabbatical but reality returns on Sunday. The Redskins begin the murderer's row stretch of their schedule. I could easily see the Redskins finishing 3-13, with their only win coming at Oakland, and even that could be a loss. The Falcons have dropped two straight and will be thirsting to get back on track. Once again, the Redskins defense will allow them to hang around, but the ineptitude of the offense will never let any Redskin fan feel like they really have a chance.

Prediction: Atlanta 26, Washington 17

Baltimore (4-3) at Cincinnati (5-2), Baltimore favored by 3

The Ravens head to Cincinnati looking for revenge for their home loss to the Bengals. The Bengals can have a 3-game lead, counting the tie-breaker, over the Ravens with a win. Baltimore bullied Denver to their first loss and I expect them to show that same type of swagger at Paul Brown Stadium. The Ravens offense will keep playing well, and the defense will step up again.

Prediction: Baltimore 28, Cincinnati 21

San Diego (4-3) at New York Giants (5-3), New York Giants favored by 4 1/2

The Chargers have won two straight against cupcakes, while the Giants have lost three straight since their schedule turned from cupcakes to contenders. Giants QB Eli Manning has played terribly in those three losses. Interestingly, this game matches up Eli against the QB he was traded for in the 2004 draft, Philip Rivers. If Giants Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride is smart, he will emphasize the run. The Chargers are weak on the their defensive line with the loss of Jamal Williams. I think RBs Ahmad Bradshaw and the disappearing Brandon Jacobs can have confidence building days. If the Giants lose this one their free fall will be complete, this is a must win.

Prediction: New York Giants 27, San Diego 24

Dallas (5-2) at Philadelphia (5-2), Philadelphia favored by 3

The Eagles have always been a tough team to figure out during the Donovan McNabb/Andy Reid era. They can lose to the Raiders one week, then destroy the Giants in another. The Eagles offense has become potent with WRs Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin stepping up. TE Brent Celek is a vast improvement over the waste of space that L.J. Smith was. The Eagles are expecting RB Brian Westbrook to return for this one, and they have a viable second option now in rookie LeSean McCoy. The Cowboys have been playing mistake free football the last three weeks but I expect that to change Sunday.

Prediction: Philadelphia 30, Dallas 20

Pittsburgh (5-2) at Denver (6-1), Pittsburgh favored by 3

After being one of their biggest critics, I had jumped on the Broncos bandwagon and thought they were the best team in the NFL. Then they got smacked in the mouth by the Ravens and the whispers of uncertainty returned. The Steelers have won four straight since a rough start to the season. I am not expecting a second half collapse from Denver, but with a loss here people will be quick to start the fraud talk.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, Denver 16

Rest of Week 9

Arizona (4-3) at Chicago (4-3), Chicago favored by 3

The hype machine was rolling for the Cardinals. After going to New York and winning they had been declared as contenders. Then QB Kurt Warner crapped the bed like only he can, throwing 5 INTs and fumbling once against the hapless Panthers. Knowing the Cardinals and Warner he probably will have the game of his life this week against Chicago. As a 49ers fan, I hope and predict he doesn't.

Prediction: Chicago 24, Arizona 20

Houston (5-3) at Indianapolis (7-0), Indianapolis favored by 9

I guess Vegas missed the Colts escape against the 49ers last weekend, as this line is completely ridiculous. Houston will be looking to make a statement in this game. A win and people will believe they have arrived, a loss and people will think its the same old Texans. I wouldn't be surprised to see Houston get the win but I can't pick them until they prove they can win this type of game.

Prediction: Indianapolis 31, Houston 27

Miami (3-4) at New England (5-2), New England favored by 10 1/2

The Dolphins had almost no offense against the Jets but behind two Ted Ginn Jr. kickoff returns were able to steal a win in New York. The Jets suck so the Dolphins need to have much more punch on offense if they hope to upset the Patriots. Dolphins QB Chad Henne has struggled since a promising game against New York a month ago. If the Dolphins can't get the "Wildcat" going in this game, they stand little chance of winning.

Prediction: New England 27, Miami 17

Green Bay (4-3) at Tampa Bay (0-7), Green Bay favored by 10

The Buccaneers start their third different quarterback on Sunday, as the Josh Freeman era officially begins. Freeman was a mediocre quarterback at Kansas State so honestly I have no idea what Tampa Bay sees in him. This will be a nice recovery game for Aaron Rodgers and the Pack.

Prediction: Green Bay 35, Tampa Bay 17

Kansas City (1-6) at Jacksonville (3-4), Jacksonville favored by 6 1/2

The Jaguars schedule rivals the Redskins for how ridiculously easy it has been so far. Much like the Redskins, the Jags haven't been able to take advantage of it. They will get a scare from the Chiefs, but unlike the Redskins will pull out the win.

Prediction: Jacksonville 24, Kansas City 21

Detroit (1-6) at Seattle (2-5), Seattle favored by 10

The Seahawks are just 2 games behind Arizona in the NFC West and with a win this weekend could be just a game out. The Lions hope to have WR Calvin Johnson back as without him their offense is anemic enough for them to lose to the Rams. Johnson or no Johnson, they won't win in Seattle.

Prediction: Seattle 31, Detroit 14

Carolina (3-4) at New Orleans (7-0), New Orleans favored by 14

Things are lining up for a very intriguing Monday Night game in a few weeks. The Saints could potentially be undefeated and hosting the last team to finish undefeated in a season, the New England Patriots. New Orleans needs to start limiting their turnovers, not many teams can win turning the ball over 4 times in a game, like the Saints have done in the last two. The Panthers kept their playoff hopes on life support with an inspired performance in Arizona. Dr. Jack might be ready to pull the plug after this game.

Prediction: New Orleans 34, Carolina 21

Tennessee (1-6) at San Francisco (3-4), San Francisco favored by 4

After losing a tough game at Indianapolis, a 2 game deficit in the NFC West was staring the Niners in the face. Then the football Gods shined on them and the Cardinals unexpectedly lost to the Panthers. With the way the schedule sets up this weekend the Niners could be back in first place. This is a great chance for San Francisco to end their 3-game losing streak. A win would recussitate the hope and optimism the team and fans were feeling a month ago. A loss would be demorializing and maybe season ending. I nervously think the 49ers are up to the challenge.

On a side note, interesting dynamic in the quarterback match up. Both teams QBs were high draft picks, given the keys almost right away, had some good moments, then struggled, were benched, and both have now returned as starters. Smith > Young.

Prediction: San Francisco 23, Tennessee 17

Last Week Against the Spread: 5-8
Overall Against the Spread: 61-54-1

Last Week Straight Up: 9-4
Overall Straight Up: 74-42

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cram Session - Week 10

Two big games this weekend see the SEC and Big Ten pit Top 25 teams against each other. Alabama tries to remain unbeaten at home against LSU, while Penn State and Ohio State try to stay in the Big 10 race when they meet at Happy Valley. I will be more interested in Nebraska hosting Oklahoma. What was once the greatest rivalry in college football is now infrequent and has lost the luster it once had as both teams already have three losses. Oklahoma doesn't have more than pride to play for, while the Huskers still have a chance to win the Big 12 North.

Top 25

Vanderbilt (2-7, 0-5) at #1 Florida (8-0, 6-0)

Florida should lose their #1 ranking if they win this game by less than 30.

Prediction: Florida 38, Vanderbilt 9

UCF (5-3) at #2 Texas (8-0)

The only potential pitfall I see in the Longhorns last four games is their regular season finale at Texas A & M, and even that is a stretch.

Prediction: Texas 45, UCF 13

#9 LSU (7-1, 4-1) at #3 Alabama (8-0, 5-0)

LSU is a popular upset pick in this one. People jumped off the Crimson Tide bandwagon quickly after they barely defeated Tennessee. I don't think the Vols are as bad as everyone has made them out to be, so that close win didn't really faze me. This will be a defensive struggle but the Crimson Tide, led by RB Mark Ingram will remain unbeaten.

Prediction: Alabama 19, LSU 16

Northwestern (5-4, 2-3) at #4 Iowa (9-0, 5-0)

Iowa looked atrocious for three quarters at home against Indiana and then woke up and blew past the Hoosiers. I expect they will come more prepared to play this week and will avoid looking ahead to their game against Ohio State next weekend.

Prediction: Iowa 31, Northwestern 17

Connecticut (4-4, 1-3) at #5 Cincinnati (8-0, 4-0)

The Huskies have suffered back to back demoralizing, late game losses, while the Bearcats continue to be overlooked by many. I think Cincinnati is better than Iowa and could compete with Florida, Alabama, and Texas. Doesn't matter if its Tony Pike or Zach Collaros at QB, the Bearcats just win.

Prediction: Cincinnati 34, Connecticut 23

#6 TCU (8-0, 4-0) at San Diego State (4-4, 2-2)

TCU might be caught looking ahead to their game with Utah next weekend, and that will allow the Aztecs to gain hope. Not enough hope for a win.

Prediction: TCU 35, San Diego State 17

#7 Boise State (8-0, 3-0) at Louisiana Tech (3-5, 2-3)

Pollsters are looking for any reason to drop Boise State behind Oregon, despite the Broncos dominating the Ducks in Week 1. The Broncos need to keep winning big but I don't think they will this weekend.

Prediction: Boise State 30, Louisiana Tech 16

#8 Oregon (7-1, 5-0) at Stanford (5-3, 4-2)

This has trap game written all over it. Stanford is unbeaten at home and the Ducks are feeling pretty good about themselves after destroying USC. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Stanford upset but I don't think their defense can hang with the Ducks potent offense.

Prediction: Oregon 30, Stanford 27

Wake Forest (4-5, 2-3) at #10 Georgia Tech (8-1, 5-1)

Wake Forest left fraudy Miami off the hook last week. For that I predict they get blown out by the Yellow Jackets.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 42, Wake Forest 21

#16 Ohio State (7-2, 4-1) at #11 Penn State (8-1, 4-1)

Neither of these teams is really that great but the winner will not only have a chance to still contend for the Big 10 title but most likely will have earned themselves a BCS bowl bid. Both teams are led by their defenses and the game will come down to which QB makes fewer mistakes. I trust Daryll Clark of Penn State way more than I trust Terrelle Pryor.

Prediction: Penn State 14, Ohio State 13

#12 USC (6-2, 2-2) at Arizona State (4-4, 2-3)

Having a true freshman at quarterback finally caught up to USC. Besides that, their defense has turned out to be fraudalicious. Arizona State got killed by Stanford a couple weeks ago, they suck.

Prediction: USC 35, Arizona State 21

Syracuse (3-5, 0-3) at #13 Pittsburgh (7-1, 4-0)

Been a rough week for the Orangeman. Their best player, WR Mike Williams mysteriously quit the team. Then in basketball they lost to something called Le Moyne. The Panthers have Notre Dame at home in a week and could be caught looking ahead. No worries though, Greg Pauls is the Orangeman's QB.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 34, Syracuse 14

New Mexico (0-8, 0-4) at #14 Utah (7-1, 4-0)

It will be TCU vs. Utah next weekend for all the Mountain West Conference marbles.

Prediction: Utah 37, New Mexico 17

#15 Houston (7-1, 3-1) at Tulsa (4-4, 2-2)

Tulsa has dropped three in a row, Houston has won four in a row. Pretty easy game to pick.

Prediction: Houston 47, Tulsa 24

Virgina (3-5, 2-2) at #17 Miami (6-2, 3-2)

Even Miami isn't fraudy enough to lose to sorry Virginia.

Prediction: Miami 31, Virginia 14

Washington State (1-7, 0-5) at #18 Arizona (5-2, 3-1)

Still not really buying into Arizona being a Top 20 team.

Prediction: Arizona 35, Washington State 13

#19 Oklahoma State (6-2, 3-1) at Iowa State (5-4, 2-3)

Still can't believe the Huskers lost to sorry Iowa State.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 28, Iowa State 21

Oregon State (5-3, 3-2) at #20 California (6-2, 3-2)

The battle of talented running backs in Jacquizz Rodgers for the Beavers and Jahvid Best of Cal will be a nail biter.

Prediction: California 33, Oregon State 31

#21 Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2) at Indiana (4-5, 1-4)

The Hoosiers have blown huge leads the last two weeks. They won't get the chance this week.

Prediction: Wisconsin 34, Indiana 21

Navy (6-3) at #22 Notre Dame (6-2)

On paper this is a game Notre Dame should win rather easily, but games against Navy are never won easily. The Irish should have no trouble moving the ball, especially with the return of stud WR Malcolm Floyd. Putting together the defensive game plan this week shouldn't be hard either. Navy will run the ball constantly. In fact, their QB Ricky Dobbs has 66 passes through 9 games! The Midshipmen's rushing attack is led by Dobbs and FB Vince Murray. The Irish can't let Navy run the ball consistently because then Navy can control the clock. The Irish's defense will have to play well to slam the door on Navy. I don't think the defense will play great but will play well enough.

Prediction: Notre Dame 42, Navy 28

#23 Virginia Tech (5-3) at East Carolina (5-3)

Virgina Tech has gone from national championship aspirations to likely a December bowl game in two weeks. They will be looking to avenge their opening season loss to East Carolina from last season. I think they do.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 30, East Carolina 23

#24 Oklahoma (5-3, 3-1) at Nebraska (5-3, 2-2)

For Nebraska to have any chance in this game their defense will have to create turnovers and score points. Freshman QB Cody Green will be making just his second start and will see a ton more pressure from the Sooners defense than he did Baylor's. The Sooners are led on offense by QB Landry Jones, who has performed quite admirably since taking over for Sam Bradford. WR Ryan Broyles is their big play man, accounting for 44 catches and 10 TDs so far this season. It is hard to imagine Nebraska losing three in a row at home, but they are not nearly as good as the Sooners. The goal should be to not be embarrassed at home for a third week in a row.

Prediction: Oklahoma 27, Nebraska 17

Last Week: 17-4
Overall: 146-41

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Week That Was

Brett Favre had the greatest return in sports history, throwing 4 touchdown passes and leading the Minnesota Vikings to a 38-26 steam rolling of the Green Bay Packers. The game got a lot closer than it should have as it became apparent that the Vikings were the far better team. Favre threw 7 TDs and 0 INTs in his two games against the Packers this year, and the Vikings keep looking more and more like legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The Green Bay fans, who booed Favre, despite Favre leading them for 16 seasons, and turning a franchise that had become an afterthought into something people cared about, were left wondering if they will ever be able to field an offensive line that doesn't look so over matched.

The San Francisco 49ers dropped their third straight game, but did compete with the Indianapolis Colts like I expected them to. Alex Smith was adequate in his return and the defense did a good job keeping the Colts out of the end zone. The Niners got some good news later in the day when the Arizona Cardinals surprisingly lost to the Carolina Panthers, keeping the Niners just one game out of the division lead.

The Miami Dolphins completed a season sweep of the New York Jets behind two 100-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns by WR Ted Ginn. Ginn had been benched for the game and while he didn't have a catch, he certainly made his presence felt. The win was huge for Miami, as at 3-4 they can still say they have plenty to play for this season.

The Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the Giants. The New York Giants are awful, as evidenced by them having to play real competition in their last three games and looking horrible in each game. The Eagles host the Cowboys on Sunday Night in a battle for first place in the NFC East.

In college football it was a quiet weekend for Notre Dame and Nebraska. Nebraska started a new era at QB with freshmen Cody Green making his debut. I am all for the move as now maybe Nebraska can have a consistent starting quarterback for more than two years. The offense played alright, while the defense continued to dominate. The Huskers renew their rivalry with Oklahoma, as they host them Saturday night. I don't have a good feeling about that one.

Notre Dame crushed Washington State in San Antonio to improve to 6-2. The Irish host Navy on Saturday. They better be up to the challenge as Navy always plays them tough, and despite a loss to Temple this past weekend, come into the game 6-3.

The New York Yankees are just one win away from another World Series championship. The Phillies decided not to take the risk of starting Cliff Lee on short rest for the first time in his career and it might come back to bite them. I predicted the Yankees in 5 and it looks like that might be what will happen.