Friday, September 28, 2012

The Hail Mary - Week 4

Life is going to be pretty busy for me the next few weeks. I get married next Sunday, then have a friend's baby's baptism the Sunday after that. So this Sunday I want to sit on my butt, be lazy, and watch football for ten hours. There are some pretty good games to look forward to so it should be a nice little Sunday.

Sunday, September 30

San Francisco (2-1) at New York Jets (2-1), San Francisco favored by 4

I didn't see the 49ers debacle of a performance against Minnesota but it was quite the shock to the system. This weekend's game against the New York Jets becomes pretty important as the NFC West seems to be much better than in years past. The Cardinals could very well be 4-0 after Sunday, so a loss by the Niners would already have them two back. The Jets suffered a massive blow to their defense as stud corner Darelle Revis was lost for the year. Things are such a mess that the Jets are talking about playing RB Joe McKnight at corner. The 49ers passing game isn't prolific, but maybe Randy Moss can do a little damage, or even Michael Lobstertree will find some openings. The 49ers need to get ahead early, because their offense has trouble coming from behind. Trailing the Vikings led to the running game becoming an afterthought, despite Gore rushing pretty well when given the chance. The 49ers defense needs to return to form this weekend too, and not allow Mark Sanchez to have the success that Christian Ponder had. This is a game where I will believe in coach Harbaugh's ability to motivate and inspire the team. I think the Niners will come out focused, keep Sanchez on his toes all day, and earn a much needed victory.

Prediction: San Francisco 27, New York Jets 17

Minnesota (2-1) at Detroit (1-2), Detroit favored by 4 1/2

I made fun of Bill Simmons a few weeks ago when he suggested the Vikings were possibly sneaky good, but after last weekend it looks like the joke was on me. Christian Ponder has played very well this season and could be making the proverbial second year leap. The Lions defense remains a mess, and for the Lions to have success this year they will need to start winning some shootouts. Matthew Stafford is expected to start, even with his injury that knocked him out of the game last week. This game should be exciting and go down to the wire, but I need to see Minnesota win a road game before I start picking them.

Prediction: Detroit 30, Minnesota 27

Carolina (1-2) at Atlanta (3-0), Atlanta favored by 7

While Ponder seems to be making the leap in his second year, Cam Newton has regressed thus far. It culminated with an embarrassing performance on Thursday night football last week against the Giants. The Falcons have been perhaps the best team in football through the first three weeks, and QB Matt Ryan is playing the best football of his career. The rushing game even showed signs of life last weekend, which if it continues would make the Falcons even more dangerous. The Panthers defense still hasn't proven they can stop anyone, so it will be a long day at the Georgia Dome for them.

Prediction: Atlanta 38, Carolina 21

New England (1-2) at Buffalo (2-1), New England favored by 4

The Patriots are under .500 for the first time since 2003 and if they lose this game will have their first three game losing streak since 2002. Their last trip to Buffalo was a memorable loss, where they blew a huge early lead and was the Bills first victory against the Patriots in 16 games. The Bills have bounced back nicely from their Week 1 debacle, and are expecting RB Fred Jackson to return for this game. The Patriots offensive line has struggled but the Bills high priced defensive line has struggled worse. I think Brady will have tons of time to feel comfortable and a comfortable Brady is a dangerous one.

Prediction: New England 35, Buffalo 24

San Diego (2-1) at Kansas City (1-2), San Diego favored by 1

The Chiefs were trailing the Saints 24-6 and staring 0-3 in the face. Then RB Jamaal Charles went into beast mode and the Chiefs saved their season by coming back to win in overtime. Now they have a chance to be tied for the division lead if they can beat the Chargers. San Diego looked woeful at home against the Falcons, or more accurately, like a Norv Turner coached team. Philip Rivers is so maddeningly inconsistent and is completely schizo much like the Chargers are as a team. I expect to see bad Rivers and bad Chargers in Arrowhead Sunday.

Prediction: Kansas City 26, San Diego 23

Seattle (2-1) at St. Louis (1-2), Seattle favored by 2 1/2

The Seahawks should really be 1-2 but they were the final beneficiaries of the replacement ref era. The Rams looked like the really bad 2011 Rams last weekend at Chicago, and nothing like the improved Rams we had seen the first two games. Steven Jackson's is uncertain and and it is unknown if he will play as he has sat out of practice with a groin injury. Whether he does or doesn't won't matter, the Seahawks offense will have trouble moving the ball, and the Rams will remain unbeaten at home.

Prediction: St. Louis 22, Seattle 17

Tennessee (1-2) at Houston (3-0), Houston favored by 12

The Titans pulled off the victory against Detroit and made me look smart for choosing to stick with them. They are huge underdogs at Houston this weekend, as the Texans are coming off an impressive win in Denver. When your quarterback can lose part of his ear and stay in the game, like QB Matt Schaub did, you know you might be in store for a special season. I will finally pick against the Titans, but can only go so far, I still think they will cover. However, I bet Chris Johnson rushes for under 30 yards.

Prediction: Houston 31, Tennessee 21

Miami (1-2) at Arizona (3-0), Arizona favored by 6 1/2

The 49ers have a legitimate challenger in the NFC West this year and that is the Cardinals. They are winning in similar fashion to the 49ers, with the defense being the driver of the team. The defense has to be licking their chops this weekend as they welcome rookie Ryan Tannehill to Arizona. This is the Dolphins first road game since Week 1 at Houston, and it will be interesting to see if they can show any improvement from that joke of a game. As long as Kevin Kolb continues to avoid mistakes, the Cardinals defense should keep carrying them to wins.

Prediction: Arizona 29, Miami 16

Oakland (1-2) at Denver (1-2), Denver favored by 6 1/2

After a nice start to the Peyton era in Denver the last two weeks have been pretty ugly. The Broncos have found themselves facing huge deficits in their two losses to the Falcons and the Texans and unable to play catch up. They hope to have a reprieve when they host the Raiders. The Raiders showed signs of life with a come from behind win against Pittsburgh last weekend. QB Carson Palmer has quietly been having a strong season. The Raiders were also happy to see RB Darren McFadden finally have a breakout performance. Even with all of those good vibes surrounding the Raiders, I am not sold that they can go into Denver and put forth those sorts of performances.

Prediction: Denver 33, Oakland 21

Cincinnati (2-1) at Jacksonville (1-2), Cincinnati favored by 2

I saw the Bengals offense put a whipping on the Redskins firsthand last Sunday. I'm not sure if the Bengals offense is that good or the Skins defense that bad. The Bengals have put up over 30 points the last two weeks, and their passing game looks pretty lethal. The Jags will give them a test, as their defense is certainly not the reason that Jacksonville struggles to win games. The Bengals defense will be able to pressure Blaine Gabbert and force Gabbert into some costly mistakes.

Prediction: Cincinnati 26, Jacksonville 19

Washington (1-2) at Tampa Bay (1-2), Tampa Bay favored by 3

The Skins just can never seem to get both offense and defense on the same page. Last season the defense mostly kept them in games while the offense struggled. This season, the offense is currently number one in the NFL, but the defense, especially the secondary is downright atrocious. The talk all around here is about how many hits RG3 has been taking and how he can't possibly last the season if he keeps taking hits at this rate. That is likely true but against Cincinnati the option stuff was the only way the Redskins were able to get the offense going. Things might be even harder this weekend, as so far the Bucs have been stingy against the run. The Redskins are really hoping they will finally have Pierre Garcon back from the worst foot injury in the history of the world. The Bucs running game has been decent with rookie Doug Martin but the passing game has mostly struggled. If the Skins defense allows Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson to kill them, their truly is no hope for the Washington defense. Call me crazy but I think for once the defense will step up and make some plays and the Skins will get a much needed victory.

Prediction: Washington 23, Tampa Bay 21

New Orleans (0-3) at Green Bay (1-2), Green Bay favored by 8

Sean Payton seems well on his way to winning coach of the year honors as the Saints stumble through the 2012 season without him. The Packers aren't doing much better, although in reality they should be 2-1, rather than 1-2. Aaron Rodgers has not looked right all year, and he was scrambling for his life Monday night against Seattle. Last year's game between these teams was one of the more entertaining of the year, and even with them being a combined 1-5, I think this year's game will be fun to watch too. The offenses are about even, but the Packers defense has shown improvement this season and will be the difference.

Prediction: Green Bay 34, New Orleans 27

New York Giants (2-1) at Philadelphia (2-1), Philadelphia favored by 2

The whispers are getting louder in Philadelphia that maybe Mike Vick isn't the right guy to be leading the Eagles. He continues to be a turnover machine and the offense was downright terrible against Arizona last weekend. They got behind right away which made their best player, RB LeSean McCoy irrelevant. The Giants plugged in RB Andre Brown and WR Ramses Barden against Carolina, replacing Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks, and didn't miss a beat. Both Bradshaw and Nicks are expected back, but I still expect to see a good dose of Brown and Barden in the gameplan. For the Eagles to win this game, their line will have to protect Vick and keep the Giants fearsome pass rush at bay. I just don't think they will be able to do that for four quarters and turnovers will once again be the Eagles undoing.

Prediction: New York Giants 27, Philadelphia 23

Monday, October 1

Chicago (2-1) at Dallas (2-1), Dallas favored by 4

I like the Bears to win at Dallas but reading about how J'Marcus Webb will have to block Demarcus Ware has me nervous. The Bears will really need Matt Forte to return from injury and play, because the Bears receivers will have some problems against the Cowboys corners Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. That being said, Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense will have their share of problems going against the Bears defense. It comes down to which quarterback, Jay Cutler or Romo has more derp moments.

Prediction: Chicago 21, Dallas 19

Last Week Against the Spread: 7-8-1
Overall Against the Spread: 20-26-2

Last Week Straight Up: 7-9
Overall Straight Up: 25-23

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