It is hard to believe the NFL season is half over. I look forward to it for what seems an eternity every year, and when it arrives, it just flies by.
And working with some of New England's finest fan/experts to put together this weekly series of totally biased predictions has made it rush by even faster. So I must be having a lot of fun.
We have seen some amazing football already this season. Some teams who were expected to do well have struggled, while others who were overlooked have surprised us.
Sounds like every season...
Now the second half begins.
Buffalo , Cleveland , Oakland , St. Louis , Minnesota , and the N.Y. Jets all catch a bye this week, and the only reason I care about that is that nobody will be talking about Vikings QB Jason Voorhees on Monday morning.
Joining me this week are some of the usual suspects: C Douglas Baker , the mysterious E , and our own alien pod boy Glenn Card . (Thanks for that one, MH , I am getting a lot of mileage out of it.) Steve Frith is waiting in the wings for next week.
Sunday November 8, 2009
TR: Baltimore is a talented team, and they should be mad as hell at the Bengals. Carson Palmer has had it going on this season, but I believe that the Ravens D will have something to say about that in this one. Not to mention the impressive Mr. Flacco and company. I'm calling Baltimore in a hard-fought game.
CDB: Tough, tough game. Baltimore put a spanking on the Broncos in the second half of last week's win. I think they are ready to avenge their loss to Cincinnati a few weeks ago. Baltimore.
E: This one should be a hell of a game. In what I expect to be an offensive showdown, I believe Baltimore will come out on top this time, as the Ravens have enough offensive weapons to give somebody some looks at the end zone, be it Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, or Joe Flacco's arm.
GC: The Ravens should have more wins under their belts by now. They showed signs of life with a convincing win last week. The Bengals went into their bye week with a big win, and they needed the extra week off to get healthy. Coming out of the bye at home, Cincy would make it tough for any team to get a win. The Bengals are for real and will win this game.
E: After a horrible week against Carolina for Kurt Warner, this won't be a walk in the park. But I think Arizona has enough firepower on both sides of the ball to get it done, stealing a win away from the Bears at Soldier Field.
GC: The knock against the Cardinals is that they don’t travel well. They have to go through Chicago before they get to a cushy three-game stretch that follows. The Bears have the same barely above .500 win average that the Cardinals have and if they want to get back on track they need to win this game. The Bears find a way to win at home.
TR: The Cardinals are 3-0 on the road, but let's face it, they are a mediocre team sitting atop a lousy division. Da Bears are just a notch above mediocre. Chicago hands the Cards their first road loss.
CDB: Which Arizona team will show up? The one that beat the Giants or the one that laid an egg against the lousy Panthers? I think Arizona loses two in a row because they are playing an away game. Chicago.
TR: When I was a kid, we used to call them "the Deadskins." Things have not changed much, really, except that Atlanta is a far superior team now, and they are looking to get back on track after their Monday night loss to the formidable Saints. Falcons take this one.
E: Following a tough loss to the Saints, it won't be hard for the Falcons to rally around their home crowd to beat this pathetic Washington team.
GC: The Falcons went toe-to-toe with their last, very tough, foe. So they know they're tough enough to do some damage to some very good teams. The Redskins aren't a good team.
CDB: Atlanta played a mostly good game in their loss to the Saints. The Snyderskins are a JOKE. Atlanta.
TR: Green Bay in a heartbeat.
CDB: I feel sorry for Aaron Rodgers because he is a very good quarterback on a mediocre team with trouble on the line of scrimmage. Tampa Bay hasn't shown me enough to think they are ready to win a game yet. Green Bay.
E: This goes without explanation—Green Bay.
GC: The Packers need to get some more wins under their belts and this should be an easy win.
Miami @ New England
TR: Divisional matchups are always tricky, but the Patriots' defense is on to the 'Phins. They will miss Jarvis Green, but Belichick has some other large, warm bodies on deck. Tommy Brady throws to about 17 different receivers, chest-bumps ensue, and Miami goes away, unhappy. In Bill We Trust.
CDB: This game scares me, a lot. Can New England's defense stop the running attack of the Dolphins that has run rampant over people this season? I think the Patriots will be ready and pull out a close one. New England.
E: Ahhh, sweet revenge this will be. The last time the Dolphins came into the Razor, Ronnie Brown had a day for the ages as Miami clawed the Patriots in the throat with their Wildcat offense. As the Wildcat is the only thing keeping the team's offense alive under the helm of Chad Henne at this point, expect New England's defense to be ready for it this time. The Patriots will dominate on both sides of the ball en route to victory.
GC: Everybody knows I could go on for hours about how the Patriots will win this game but I will cut it short and just say, when the Dolphins come to play at the Razor, they lose.
TR: If only I could find it in my heart to care about this game. Okay, we know that Maurice Jones-Drew can get some yardage, and the KC rushing defense is terrible. So, I call it Jags at home. Hey, somebody has to win.
CDB: What a snoozer. Both teams suck. Kansas City sucks more. Jacksonville.
E: P-yew! Jacksonville has been stinking it up lately. Between a 41-0 loss to Seattle, barely eking out a win over St. Louis, and getting blown out by the formerly winless Titans in their past three games, they're probably going to be wishing for another bye week in Jacksonville. Expect the Jags to win this one, but judging by their recent stretch, they may not have a very easy time getting the job done.
GC: The Jaguars gave up a win to a winless team last week. The Chiefs are not winless but damn near. I just can’t see the Jaguars giving up this game to another bad team, especially not when they are playing at home.
TR: Houston being Houston, I would be talking astonishing upset except for one thing: Owen Daniels. The end of his season means end of Houston's story as the Colts put a major beat down on the already inconsistent Texans.
CDB: Houston is another inconsistent team that looks great one week and not so great the next, but they are 5-3. But the Colts are likely to put the smack down on Houston since they're at home. Indianapolis.
E: I'm not too optimistic about Houston's chances this week. Indy's defense is playing very well, and Steve Slaton looks more like he's running with a greased pig than a football. Especially at home, expect Indy to come out on top.
GC: Do the Colts have the easiest season going this year or are they so good it just seems like they do? This is what I do know, the Texans can surprise, and unfortunately they go into the RCA Dome where the Colts are notoriously stingy to opposing teams. I want to pick the Texans for a huge upset but against the Colts? Oh, all right, I’ll make this pick with heart over the stats. The Texans win in a big upset.
Detroit @ Seattle
TR: I guess if I lived in Detroit or Seattle, I would care enough to do some research, maybe spew a few stats and stuff. As it is, I go with what I know, which is that Deion "Soulless in Seattle" Branch is No. 2 on the 'Hawks' depth chart at WR. He's probably injured anyway. At home, that's good for a win. Yes, I will rank on him for the rest of his life, the miserable little sell-out. And I still have his damn Patriots jersey.
CDB: Two more struggling teams, but Seattle has been a little more competitive lately. A little bit. Seattle.
E: I feel really bad for this Lions team, and this Seattle team isn't very good either. Instead of picking the home team, I'll throw the Lions a bone and give 'em the win. They do, after all, at least have a shot.
GC: Ahh, who cares. The Seahawks win a home game, woo-hoo.
Carolina @ New Orleans
TR: Whatever else there is to say about these Cats, they are giving up fewer passing yards than any other team in the league. The Saints are undefeated but not perfect; their run defense has been suspect, a fact not lost on DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. And turnovers have become a problem for New Orleans recently. With Julius Peppers finally acting like he loves his job, I boldly predict the upset of the week. You read it right here, Panthers knock off the Saints.
CDB: The Saints are awesome and will stomp all over Carolina. New Orleans.
E: This game is going to be pitiful for Panthers' players and fans alike. This year Drew Brees and the Saints have been putting up 2007 New England-like numbers, and they won't drop even a tad below par this week.
GC: I didn't expect the Panthers to win their last game but they did. It would be an upset of biblical proportions if they were able to pull off another win in New Orleans. It just ain’t happening.
Tennessee @ San Francisco
CDB: I think last week's win for Tennessee was impressive, but I'm not convinced they are back. San Francisco has been inconsistent, but with Frank Gore back in the lineup and a solid defense they should win a close one at home. San Francisco.
TR: I wish Vince Young all the best, but Frank Gore will eat up that Titans defense. San Francisco wins this one at home.
E: I like San Francisco for this one, but the Titans may have just found what they needed in order to get rolling (a win).
GC: The Titans haven’t won on the road yet this year. The 49ers have had a bunch of tough losses lately after some early success. They have proven that they are tougher than their record, so I don’t think they will have a problem with this home win.
San Diego @ NY Giants
TR: Neither team is giving up much in the air, but it is no secret that Eli Manning has struggled lately. The G-Men have a decided statistical advantage on the ground, but Darren Sproles is capable of busting loose at any time. The Bolts have been plagued with injuries all season and the Giants are relatively healthy. With both teams fighting for their playoff lives, I think it comes down to home field advantage. The Giants win IF they can take care of the rock.
CDB: The Giants are in some disarray, but San Diego can only beat bottom feeders like Oakland. I think with their running game, the Giants should take this one at home. New York Giants.
E: The Giants have dropped three in a row, but the Chargers haven't beat any team widely considered to be good. I think the trend continues for San Diego, and the Giants will rediscover their groove on their home turf against a disappointing Bolts team.
GC: The Battle of the Under-Achievers: The Giants have slipped significantly in recent weeks, and the Chargers have had a couple of easy games. Then we get to the subject of a West Coast team coming East. Gimme a break, it’s only a three-hour difference. The Chargers will have just enough confidence to take this game from the Giants.
TR: Tony Romo will choke in front of this hostile Philly crowd. It could get ugly, but the Eagles are good at winning ugly games. I cannot pick against them at home. Eagles.
CDB: Dallas appears to be on a roll offensively but that Eagles defense is too. This is going to be a tough NFC East matchup. I think Dallas, overall, is a better team, and will take the Eagles. Dallas.
E: The Dallas Cowboys aren't that great of a team. Philly is much better on either side of the ball, and playing at home, there is no way that I would pick the 'Boys over the Eagles.
GC: Finally a game worth watching, both of these teams have rebounded in recent weeks as they keep their eye on the postseason pie. I am going with the Eagles in this home-field battle; but it’s not going to be an easy win.
Monday November 9, 2009
Pittsburgh @ Denver
TR: Let's get real, this is Denver we're talking about. Pittsburgh will dominate them just as the Ravens did. I will laugh, even if it is Pittsburgh.
CDB: Pittsburgh is going to put another dent in Denver's record by making Kyle Orton look like, well, Kyle Orton. Just like the Ravens did. This should be a close game, but Pittsburgh's defense is nasty and ready. Pittsburgh.
E: I still think the Denver Broncos are legit, but not this legit. Barring a Mile-High miracle, the Steelers are going to take this one.
GC: This should be another good Monday night game. The teams are pretty evenly matched, but the Steelers can’t really afford another loss at the moment. The Broncos have been riding a giant high with all their wins until the last game. I think the Broncos stay out of the two-loss streak category with a home win.
And that's our little dog-and-pony show for week nine. Comments? Questions? Observations?