Friday, October 10, 2014

The Hail Mary - Week 6

Sunday, October 12

Green Bay (3-2) at Miami (2-2), Green Bay favored by 3 1/2

Each team will have plenty of rest coming into this game. The Packers will have not played in 10 days and the Dolphins in 14 days. Maybe that means we will see each of these teams at their best and a highly competitive game. Ryan Tannehill is coming off a superb performance but that was against the Raiders. For him to really solidify himself as the Dolphins starter he needs to perform well in this game. Ever since Aaron Rodgers told Packers fans to relax, the offense has been hitting on all cylinders. I think that will continue this weekend and the Packers will win their third straight.

Prediction: Green Bay 33, Miami 21

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

Lions gonna Lions. Detroit found a way to blow a game at home against Buffalo, as kicker Alex Henery, who used to be a beast at Nebraska, has apparently lost all of his talent. Henery missed three kicks, which cost the Lions the game. He was cut the next day and with his suspension now over, Matt Prater is the new Lions kicker. Prater was awesome in Denver and I guess we will find out if he is legitimately awesome or was just a product of the Mile High air. The Vikings played like a team that wanted nothing to do with Thursday night football in getting blown out by the Packers. They also played like a team quarterbacked by the terrible Christian Ponder. Teddy Bridgewater will return for this game and look to build off the promise he showed in his first start a few weeks ago. I think Bridgewater will be the difference in this game and help Minnesota spring the mini upset.

Prediction: Minnesota 27, Detroit 23

Jacksonville (0-5) at Tennessee (1-4), Tennessee favored by 6

You couldn't pay me to watch or attend this game.

Prediction: Tennessee 3, Jacksonville 2

Baltimore (3-2) at Tampa Bay (1-4), Baltimore favored by 3

The Ravens offense looked horrible at Indianapolis last week. Bad Joe Flacco returned and threw 0 TDs, a pick and only averaged 6 yards per completion. Torrey Smith has been invisible this season, which is odd, because with how well Steve Smith has played you would think that would take some of the focus off of him. The Bucs came oh so close to their second straight road upset but couldn't hang on to an 11 point lead in New Orleans. Mike Glennon continues to play well and he and Vincent Jackson could be in line for some big plays against a Ravens defense that is terrible against the pass. Tampa Bay is also terrible against the pass, so each quarterback has a chance to have a big game.

Prediction: Baltimore 20, Tampa Bay 16

Denver (3-1) at New York Jets (1-4), Denver favored by 8

Eric Decker will face his former team, although I am not expecting him to completely decimate the Broncos like Steve Smith did to Carolina. Decker has been battling a hamstring injury that forced him to miss last week's game but I am sure he will do whatever it takes to get on the field against Denver. Geno Smith remains the Jets starter despite getting pulled last week and also having a hard time figuring out time zones. Most likely he is the starter because Michael Vick seems intent on showing no interest in playing. He admitted that he didn't prepare as he should leading up to the game since he didn't expect to play. Peyton Manning is coming off a vintage performance against Arizona, and facing the Jets leaky secondary, he should be in line for another great game.

Prediction: Denver 35, New York Jets 14

New England (3-2) at Buffalo (3-2), New England favored by 3

I finally picked New England to lose so of course they came out and obliterated the Bengals. It seemed that Tom Brady and the Patriots didn't take too kindly to everyone shoveling dirt on them in the build up to last week's game. The Bills also didn't seem to appreciate dirt being shoveled on to their season, as they pulled a win out of their asses against Detroit. The Patriots will have to be successful passing in this game, because the Bills rush defense is superb. While Buffalo will need to get their running game on track to counteract New England's defense, which is excellent against the pass. Kyle Orton appeared to be an upgrade over EJ Manuel in this game, and will have his hands full with a tough Patriots secondary. I have learned my lesson and will resume picking the Patriots to win.

Prediction: New England 28, Buffalo 24

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

The Panthers return to facing their own house of horrors, the AFC North. In previous meetings with Pittsburgh and Baltimore the Panthers were destroyed. They got back on the winning side of things against the Bears last weekend. The defense still is having problems stopping people and can't regain their form from the first two weeks. The Bengals were embarrassed on national television last Sunday, leaving people to conclude that this is the same old Bungles. However, at home, at least for the past two regular seasons they have been unbeatable and downright dominant. Even without A.J. Green I expect a complete and thorough whipping of the Panthers to happen on Sunday.

Prediction: Cincinnati 30, Carolina 16

Pittsburgh (3-2) at Cleveland (2-2), Cleveland favored by 2

The Browns got down 28-3 to Tennessee last weekend and I tweeted out "Same old Browns". But then, the Browns ended up completing a miraculous comeback, winning 29-28 and it looks like we could have the new Browns. For the first time in forever, Cleveland is favored for the second week in a row, this time as they host arch rival Pittsburgh. The Steelers are coming off an ugly win over Jacksonville where they tried extra hard to make sure Antonio Brown continued his streak of consecutive games with at least 5 catches and 50 yards. This is a rematch from Week 1 when the Browns got down big but were unable to complete the comeback that time. I don't think they will need any miraculous comebacks this week, I expect them to be the better team and win in less spectacular fashion.

Prediction: Cleveland 28, Pittsburgh 25

San Diego (4-1) at Oakland (0-4), San Diego favored by 7

The Chargers continued their roll with an easy victory over the Jets, recording the first shutout in the NFL this season. They looked poised to win their 5th straight and with how well he is playing, there has to be some talk of Philip Rivers for MVP. Especially because of how banged up the Chargers are at running back where they have started using previously unknown Branden Oliver, who is being called the Chargers new Darren Sproles. This will be the first game for Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano, who replaces the fired Dennis Allen. The Raiders need way more than a new head coach in order to find the win column.

Prediction: San Diego 34, Oakland 13

Washington (1-4) at Arizona (3-1), Arizona favored by 3 1/2

The Redskins have gotten so used to losing that their players now take moral victories when they aren't embarrassed on national television. Those were pretty much the words that came out of the mouth of overrated Brian Orakpo following Monday's loss to Seattle. Orakpo might feel alright then after this game against Arizona, because I expect Washington to lose their fourth in a row but at least make a game of it. The biggest reason I think the Redskins could keep this close is the question mark that is the Cardinals quarterback situation. Drew Stanton left last week's loss to Denver with a concussion, and Carson Palmer is still battling his shoulder injury. That opens up the possibility of rookie Logan Thomas making his first career start. Thomas was a disgusting 1 for 8 when he replaced Stanton, but his one completion was an 81 yard touchdown. No matter who the quarterback is for Arizona, as long as their rush defense can continue to play well and shut down the struggling Alfred Morris, then the Cardinals should be fine. The Redskins will have a chance to make some plays passing, including DeSean Jackson, who has been on fire, and Pierre Garcon who has not. But you can trust that Washington will commit turnovers and stupid penalties and cost themselves the game.

Prediction: Arizona 24, Washington 20

Chicago (2-3) at Atlanta (2-3), Atlanta favored by 3

Jay Cutler and the Bears offense has started to come under some fire for not living up to their potential. They rank 14th in passing and 22nd in rushing, nowhere near the numbers people expected them to put up. Some of that criticism is because of the lack of touches Brandon Marshall has gotten the last few weeks. An interesting subplot to this game will be Devin Hester facing his former team for the first time. Hester has been a consistent weapon for Atlanta as a receiver this year, something the Bears decided that Hester wouldn't be able to help their offense with. The Bears defense has been hit with the injury bug again this season and once again looks like the awful unit we saw last season. The Falcons are an abysmal road team but much tougher to beat in the Georgia Dome. Matt Ryan should have a big game, along with receivers Roddy White, Julio Jones, and expect Hester to make his presence felt somehow.

Prediction: Atlanta 35, Chicago 31

Dallas (4-1) at Seattle (3-1), Seattle favored by 8

Sunday we find out just how much Dallas' 4-1 record really means. The Cowboys have won four straight but I don't think anyone truly thinks they are an elite NFL team. The Cowboys four wins have come against teams with a combined record of 7-12, with only Houston having a winning record. Now if they can go to Seattle and at least be competitive, then I think the public perception of Dallas will change tremendously. DeMarco Murray has rushed for over 100 yards in each game this season, but has also fumbled just as much. But when he is running the ball so well, there is no way that Dallas can move away from making him the focal point of the offense. The media continues to love slobbing the knob of Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. He had some spectacular plays against the Redskins last Monday night, but so does just about every quarterback in the league. To Wilson's credit he does have impressive numbers so far this season, throwing 2 TDs in every game. I think Dallas will keep this close for a bit, but will then eventually realize they are in way over their heads and the Seahawks will run away with the game.

Prediction: Seattle 38, Dallas 21

New York Giants (3-2) at Philadelphia (4-1), Philadelphia favored by 2 1/2

Some would say this is the best NFC East rivalry going right now, over Dallas/Washington. The Giants will look to continue their recent winning streak, while Philly could be all alone in first place in the division by the end of the night. The Giants rush defense is in the Top 10, so it could be another long night for LeSean McCoy, who hasn't been able to truly get going this season. However, the Giants struggle to stop the pass, so that should bring big smiles to the faces of Nick Foles and his favorite target Jeremy Maclin. Eli Manning has somehow gone two of his last three games without throwing an interception, and seems to be relishing the new offense of Ben McAdoo. This game will also mark the first start for Giants rookie bruising running back Andre Williams as he replaces an injured Rashad Jennings. Manning should be able to make plays on the Eagles secondary but I also expect him to make a few mistakes. Those mistakes will help catapult the Eagles to a victory.

Prediction: Philadelphia 28, New York Giants 23

Monday, October 13

San Francisco (3-2) at St. Louis (1-3), San Francisco favored by 3 1/2

The 49ers offense struggled once again but the defense came up huge for the second straight week in the second half, and the Niners are back over .500. They have a great chance to move 2 games above .500 when they go to St. Louis on Monday night. The Rams might have found their quarterback of the future in rookie Austin Davis who has thrown for over 300 yards in back to back games.  The Rams will know a lot more about Davis based on how he plays in a national stage and against a pass defense that has allowed less than 200 yards passing in their past two games. The 49ers back to back wins have coincided with a renewed emphasis on the run. The Rams defense struggles mightily against the run so I hope Greg Roman plans on working Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde in this game. The 49ers have a very challenging game at Denver next weekend, so hopefully they can keep their positive momentum going and knock off the Rams on Monday night.

Prediction: San Francisco 30, St. Louis 17

Last Week Against the Spread: 6-8-1
Overall Against the Spread: 32-43-1

Last Week Straight Up: 12-3
Overall Straight Up: 44-32

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