Friday, November 6, 2015
The Hail Mary - Week 9
Washington (3-4) at New England (7-0), New England favored by 14
The Redskins have had two weeks to bask in the glory of their come from behind win against Tampa Bay. That has meant two weeks for Redskins fans to continue to try to convince themselves that Kirk Cousins is good and more than just a placeholder for this season. Kirk Cousins is capable of having good games, he also is capable of having very bad games. He lives up to the definition of mediocre and if Redskins fans feel that putting up good stats against a middling Tampa Bay team makes him a franchise quarterback, then I can't convince you otherwise. I feel pretty confident in saying that against the Patriots on Sunday Cousins will throw multiple interceptions. The Patriots will get up big and then Kirk might put up some garbage time numbers and look halfway decent. The Redskins obviously have next to no chance in this game. They can't run the football so they won't be able to control possession and they can't rush the quarterback so Tom Brady is going to kill them. The Redskins just need to try to get out of this game with some dignity and prepare for a game they have a chance in when they play New Orleans next week.
Prediction: New England 38, Washington 20
Miami (3-4) at Buffalo (3-4), Buffalo favored by 3
The good vibes from the first two games of the Dan Campbell era quickly disappeared after the Dolphins were embarrassed on national television by the Patriots. The offense went back to looking toothless and the defense lost its best player, Cameron Wake for the season. With a week and a half to prepare and revenge on their minds, I am hopeful for a much stronger performance from the Dolphins this week. Last time they played Buffalo was at home and the Bills completely dominated the game. The Bills offense has been without Karlos Williams, Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins the past few weeks, but are hopeful to have all of them back for this game. Miami has always struggled winning at Buffalo and I am not confident about Ryan Tannehill's ability to win in a tough road environment. The Dolphins will have to get Lamar Miller rolling in order to have a chance in this game.
Prediction: Buffalo 24, Miami 17
St. Louis (4-3) at Minnesota (5-2), Minnesota favored by 2 1/2
The Vikings are just one game back of the Packers in the NFC North. The Packers have a challenging game at Carolina, so Minnesota could possibly be in a first place tie if they can knock off St. Louis on Sunday. The emergence of Stefon Diggs at wide receiver has helped to improve Teddy Bridgewater's play and given a whole new facet of the Vikings offense that defenses have to account for. The Minnesota offensive line will be challenged all game by the fearsome Rams defensive front. Both teams can be offensively challenged at times, so more than likely this will end up being a defensive struggle. I think the defenses will cancel each other out, and the passing games will take a backseat to the powerful running of Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley. Fans will be in for a treat watching those two running backs, arguably the two best in the game right now. I think the Vikings will win with a late Blair Walsh field goal and keep rolling.
Prediction: Minnesota 20, St. Louis 17
Green Bay (6-1) at Carolina (7-0), Green Bay favored by 2 1/2
The Packers laid a big, giant turd on national television last Sunday night in the battle of the unbeatens with the Broncos. Aaron Rodgers had the worst game of his career, being held under 100 yards passing, something I wasn't sure I even thought was possible. They better brush themselves off fast though, because it gets no easier as they travel to unbeaten Carolina. Carolina did everything they could to choke away a fourth quarter lead against Indianapolis, but they eventually prevailed in overtime. Honestly, the Packers have been scuffling on offense for the past month, the Broncos game just brought it to a shinier light. I've been accused by some of being too hard on the Panthers, and it is hard to hate on 7-0. I will likely be called a hater for my prediction that the Packers will be the team to end their undefeated run, and also that they will hang 30+ on them. I feel like we will see a Packers team with a ton of fire after their embarrassing performance. They have a defense that lives and dies off of turnovers and Cam Newton has been turnover prone at times this season. Then you have Carolina having to recover on a short week after a Monday night game, and I think it will be too much for them to overcome.
Prediction: Green Bay 34, Carolina 27
Tennessee (1-6) at New Orleans (4-4), New Orleans favored by 8
A three game winning streak has the Saints right back in the thick of things for the playoffs in the NFC. For the Titans, they have lost six straight and fired coach Ken Whisenhunt this week, replacing him with interim coach Mike Mularkey. Some people thought it was unfair that Whisnehunt only got to coach for four games with new franchise QB Marcus Mariota playing but to those people I say look at Whisenhunt's 4-30 record in his last 34 games as coach. Some guys are just meant to be coordinators and Whisenhunt is one of those people. I don't think we will see an initial Dan Campbell like effect on the Titans with Mularkey. This is a deeply flawed team, and one not filled with a lot of talent. Last week, Drew Brees had seven touchdown passes against the Giants and it looked like the Saints offense of yesteryear as they piled up 52 points. The Titans pass defense has been strong this year, but they have struggled stopping the run, so it could be Mark Ingram's time to shine on Sunday.
Prediction: New Orleans 38, Tennessee 14
Jacksonville (2-5) at New York Jets (4-3), New York Jets favored by 2 1/2
The Jets will have Ryan Fitzpatrick starting this game, busted up thumb and all. It is a must win for New York as they can't lost their third straight and start to feel in free fall mode. For Jacksonville, they are just a half game out of first place in the putrid AFC South. Blake Borkles is having a very strong season and has kept one of my six fantasy teams afloat while Tony Romo nurses back to health. The Jets defense had a poor showing last week, so I expect better out of that unit in this game. With Fitzpatrick back, even if he is hurt, I expect their offense to be much more in sync and Brandon Marshall to be a big factor in why the Jets snap their two game losing skid.
Prediction: New York Jets 27, Jacksonville 21
Oakland (4-3) at Pittsburgh (4-4), Pittsburgh favored by 4
Are the Raiders for real? They pounded the Jets in Oakland last week and sure it helped that they got to face Geno Smith instead of Ryan Fitzpatrick (never though I would type something like that), but they were still facing a good Jets defense and Derek Carr torched them. Michael Crabtree has benefited from all the attention being paid to Amari Cooper and is having a strong season. Crabtree always showed that he was good enough to be a number two in San Francisco, but it was trying to live up to the weight of being a number one that doomed him. The Steelers savior Ben Roethlisberger returned last week, then threw three picks and played no better than Mike Vick or Landry Jones had played. The Steelers are hoping that his poor performance can be chalked up to rust and he will be in for better play against Oakland. They really need him now that Le'Veon Bell has been lost for the season. De'Angelo Williams stepped in nicely the first two weeks at least, so the Steelers have to feel some security that he will be able to keep the running game afloat the rest of the season. I think the Raiders are definitely on their way up, but I am not convinced they can go cross country and win a tough road game just yet.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 33, Oakland 23
Atlanta (6-2) at San Francisco (2-6), Atlanta favored by 7
The big news out of San Francisco this week was the benching of Colin Kaepernick in favor of Blaine Gabbert. It is hard to believe that the guy who was lighting up the league just a few years ago and made Aaron Rodgers his bitch on a regular basis is now considered worse than the awful Gabbert. The falls of Kaepernick and RGIII have been stunning to watch. It seems like the end of the road for Kap in San Francisco and with the Niners losing week after week they might have a shot at trying to draft a franchise quarterback come April. The Niners have been decimated by injuries at running back as Carlos Hyde may be shut down for the season with a stress fracture in his foot and Reggie Bush tore his ACL sneezing. Then the other move the 49ers made this week was trading Vernon Davis to Denver. You may have forgotten Davis was still in the league since he has done next to nothing the past two seasons. But more than likely, he will go to Denver and start thriving, pouring further salt in the 49ers wounds. Matt Ryan has been the definition of mediocre this season but even if he doesn't play well, I am sure Devonta Freeman will run all over the 49ers. Plus, Ryan just has to hit Julio Jones with one or two throws, as the 49ers secondary will no doubt be burned constantly by him. Hey, they may even make Roddy White relevant again for a week. Sigh.
Prediction: Atlanta 23, San Francisco 9
New York Giants (4-4) at Tampa Bay (3-4), New York Giants favored by 2 1/2
The big story for this game is the return of Jason Pierre-Paul for the Giants. For those that don't know Pierre-Paul mangled one of his hands in a fireworks accident on the 4th of July. Pictures recently came out of what his hand now looks like and it isn't pretty. But JPP insists it won't stop him from rushing and sacking the quarterback. It is not often that you score 49 points and still lose but that is what happened to New York last week against the Saints. Eli Manning has been crushing it this season, throwing 17 touchdowns and just 4 picks. If the Giants had a true running game they would probably be a good team instead of a mediocre one. Tampa Bay had a very nice win at Atlanta last week and showed great resolve a week after blowing a game they should have won against Washington. Jamies Winston has been showing improvement week after week and the Bucs have been far more competitive this season than I think anyone expected. If they want to legitimize their playoff chances, a win against New York would go a long way towards that. Unfortunately, I think Eli is going to pick apart their defense, like he did New Orleans and the Giants will creep back over .500.
Prediction: New York Giants 34, Tampa Bay 31
Denver (7-0) at Indianapolis (3-5), Denver favored by 4
Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis a second time doesn't have near the luster it did the first time. The Manning these Colts fans will see is nothing like the Manning they watched for years and years. Peyton did play well against Green Bay last weekend, but still didn't throw any touchdowns. For the first time all season, the Broncos rushing game was on points with CJ Andreson going over 100 yards and Ronnie Hillman contributing as well. Earlier this week Denver traded for Vernon Davis, and are hopeful that a change of scenery can revive his career, as Virgil Green and Owen Daniels just weren't getting it done. The Colts made changes to the coaching staff this week, firing Andrew Luck's coordinator going back to his Stanford days, Pep Hamilton. Rumor has it if the Colts lose this game then Chuck Pagano could be next to go. It appears they are dealing with the same type of dysfunction that sunk the 49ers season last year. The Denver defense is not one you want to play if you are looking to get back on track, and I expect another long day at the office for Luck and the Colts on Sunday.
Prediction: Denver 28, Indianapolis 17
Philadelphia (3-4) at Dallas (2-5), Philadelphia favored by 2 1/2
Quite a bit has changed since Dallas defeated Philly in Week 2. The Eagles have gone 3-2 since then to creep back into the NFC Least race. It was that game where Tony Romo was injured and since his injury the Cowboys are 0-5. They are expecting Romo back in two weeks against Miami, but they need to at least scrape one victory while he is out to have any hopes of salvaging their season when he returns. This game will mark DeMarco Murray's return to Dallas and he will be hoping it goes much better than his first effort against the Cowboys this year. There has been talk that he should be supplanted in the starting lineup by Ryan Mathews, but Chip Kelly seems to prefer Mathews as more a change of pace kind of guy. The Cowboys defense has given up over 100 yards rushing in four of their past five games, so if Kelly is smart he will commit to the run. Sam Bradford and Matt Cassel will likely make plenty of mistakes, so each team will have ample opportunities to convert turnovers into points in this game. Dallas hasn't proven they can win without Romo and even with Dez Bryant back for a second straight game, it doesn't matter if he doesn't have a quarterback that can consistently get him the ball. I think Philly takes the win, splitting the season series and pushing Dallas closer to the brink of a lost season.
Prediction: Philadelphia 26, Dallas 20
Monday, November 9
Chicago (2-5) at San Diego (2-6), San Diego favored by 4
A pretty lousy Monday Night game although seeing guh huh Philip Rivers and dope faced Jay Cutler play each other will bring back memories of their Broncos/Chargers tilts. Those two had a feud four years ago or so, but it seems to all be water under the bridge now. Both are fathers, I think Jay has one kid and Philip has his clan of 25 children. The Chargers lost Keenan Allen for the season, so it might be time for Stevie Johnson, Malcom Floyd and of course old dependable Antonio Gates to shine. It certainly won't be Melvin Gordon's time to shine because he is a bum. The Bears have injuries of their own, as Matt Forte will miss this game and likely the next one with a knee injury. That means rookie Jeremy Langford should get the start and who knows, maybe he will teach Gordon a thing or two about being an effective rookie rusher.
Prediction: San Diego 29, Chicago 16
Last Week Straight Up: 9-5
Overall Straight Up: 79-40
Last Week Against the Spread: 6-7-1
Overall Against the Spread: 56-59-4