Thursday, October 29, 2009
AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan
A good week of picks in Week 7, going 10-3.
This week’s biggest games and toughest to decide were New Orleans against Atlanta, New York Giants at Philadelphia, and Denver at Baltimore.
Three undefeated teams left. Will any of them lose this week?
Two winless teams in action this week. Will either of them get on the board, or will they continue their Detroit Lions-esque slide (coincidentally, one of those teams, St. Louis, will play at Detroit).
Read on to see who I like, then comment and tell me who you like.
Houston (4-3) at Buffalo (3-4)
Houston jumped out to a huge early lead against San Francisco last week, but almost gave it up when Alex Smith entered the game for the 49’ers. Still, this team looks much better than the Bills. Everyone who thought the Texans were just Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson have been notified that there are more weapons in Houston. Tight end Owen Daniels had seven catches for 123 yard and a touchdown, increasing his totals to 497 yards and tying his career high in touchdowns with 5. Steve Slaton is improving his game every week, and last week rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown. The Texans will smoke Buffalo.
Cleveland (1-6) at Chicago (3-3)
The Bears were severely outclassed by the Bengals last week. Cleveland took Cincinnati to overtime when they met for the first time. Can Cleveland pull off the upset against Chicago? No. Every position on Cleveland’s squad is unsettled, including the quarterback spot. Chicago will take advantage of this, especially at home. The Bears will win.
Seattle (2-4) at Dallas (4-2)
How is Dallas 4-2? Are they the worst 4-2 team you’ve ever seen? Still, they beat a good Falcons team last week, and receiver Miles Austin has been superb and has really injected Dallas with some energy, as well as humble play. He caught six passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns and now stands at 502 yards receiving and five touchdowns on the season. Seattle has Matt Hasselback back in the lineup, but they still have some proving to do. I’ll take the Cowboys in this one.
St. Louis (0-7) at Detroit (1-5)
Reports are that Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford have returned to practice for the Lions and will most likely play Sunday against the Rams. With Stafford’s big arm and the skill-set of Johnson, expect them to throw a lot of deep balls against a team that is tied for fourth worst in the league in passes of 20 yards or more allowed. I like Detroit to win this one.
Denver (6-0) at Baltimore (3-3)
Both teams had a bye last week to prepare for this big matchup. The Broncos have surprised this season. And since looking like the most complete team in the league for the first three weeks of the season, Baltimore has taken a nose dive. Baltimore is too good a team to continue to slide. After a bye week to really straighten things out and playing this matchup at home, I will take the Ravens to win.
San Francisco (3-3) at Indianapolis (6-0)
San Francisco has looked awful shaky the past couple games. They’ve played two good offenses in Atlanta and Houston and the defense, which is supposed to be the team’s strong point, could not hold their own. The Colts have one of the best offenses in the league. Expect Peyton Manning to tear through the San Francisco defense. Indy wins.
Miami (2-4) at NY Jets (4-3)
The Jets won three straight, lost three straight, and then bounced back and destroyed the Oakland Raiders. The Dolphins lost three in a row, then won two, and finally took undefeated New Orleans to the limit last week before ultimately blowing a sizeable lead. Chad Henne threw two pick-sixes last week, which hurt the ‘Phins. However, Sanchez threw five interceptions against a weaker Bills team the week before. Both running games have been very good, but the Jets’ took a huge hit with the injury to Leon Washington last week. This game will come down to which young quarterback makes the least mistakes. I’ll take Chad Henne and Miami for the win.
NY Giants (5-2) at Philadelphia (4-2)
After playing meager competition the first five weeks of the season, the Giants have been hit hard by good teams. The Eagles looked solid until they lost to the Raiders two weeks ago, which put a lot of questions on them. A win against the Redskins doesn’t answer much. Running back Brian Westbrook is injured again and looks unlikely to play. Eagles fans are preoccupied with the Phillies in the World Series right now. Can you really see the Giants losing three games in a row? I can’t, and that’s why I’m picking them to beat the Eagles in Philly.
Jacksonville (3-3) at Tennessee (0-6)
Tennesse has been a major disappointment. This is a game against a beatable Jaguars team, who at 3-3 has shown that they are the NFL’s model of inconsistency. Kerry Collins has come crashing back down to Earth, just as he always does after a good season. Reports are that Vince Young will get the chance to start again, which is exactly what this team needs. He’s still only 26, the team isn’t going anywhere, and last time he replaced Kerry Collins, with the Titans at 0-3, he led them to an 8-8 record, had four come-from behind wins, and won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The change, coupled with Young’s dynamic abilities, will give some life back to a deflated Titans team, especially after a bye week. I like them to finally get their first win of the season here.
Oakland (2-5) at San Diego (3-3)
Another NFL game, another bad week for JaMarcus Russell. He went 6 for 11 with 61 yards and two interceptions before being benched. San Diego came out strong against Kansas City last weekend. Vincent Jackson had a great week, catching five passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. LaDanian Tomlinson even rushed for 71 yards. The Chargers offense looks good, and their defense was impenetrable last week, getting three interceptions and scoring off a blocked punt. The Chargers, for a second week in a row, will win big against a cellar dweller in the AFC West.
Carolina (2-4) at Arizona (4-2)
You thought Carolina would have figured it out. With one of the most potent rushing attacks against one of the league’s worst run-defenses last week (Buffalo), the team rushed for only 116 yards, and lost by 11. It also doesn’t help that Jake Delhomme, no longer a good quarterback, threw three interceptions. Meanwhile Arizona was able to beat the New York Giants, a strong competitor in the NFC. The defending NFC champs look to be back on track after a slow start, and they will easily win this rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional playoff game.
Minnesota (6-1) at Green Bay (4-2)
Minnesota got the last one at home. However, they got beat on the road by a very good Steelers team last week. I like to think the Packers are a good team, and this time the game is at Lambeau Field. The Vikings are missing cornerback Antoine Winfield is most likely out with a broken foot, which should allow Packers QB Aaron Rodgers even more of a cushion. Expect Packer fans to be more than hostile towards the rival Vikings and their once-prodigal son Brett Favre. Green Bay needs this game to prove that they are a serious contender in the NFC. At home, I like them to beat Minnesota.
Atlanta (4-2) at New Orleans (6-0)
This should be a great game. These two teams look very good so far this season. The Saints had an incredible comeback last week against the Miami Dolphins and Drew Brees has put this team on his shoulders and lifted them to great things. The receivers have done a good job and the running game has been effective—and yes, that even includes Reggie Bush. At home, I like New Orleans to get the job done.
Byes: Cincinnati, Kansas City, New England, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington
Last week: 10-3
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Finally, after 4,860 games from 30 teams, we have the World Series that we had all hoped for. We have the two Juggernauts of baseball. The two cities, separated by 26 exits of Turnpike through the great state of New Jersey, will indeed give us the World Series that we could only wish for at the beginning of the season.
Now this World Series preview is going to be a two part piece, courtesy of the two most entertaining, unknown sports blogs this side of the Toms River. I am going to give you the Phillies' preview and why they can win this series. My colleague over at Chit-Chat Sports, Mr. Tom DeRiggi (a die-hard Yankee fan) has humbily agreed to give you the New York side of the series.
To see how the Yankees could pull off an upset victory, go over to Chit-Chat Sports for an excellent and entertaining Yankees preview.
No, they don’t have the payroll the Yankees do. Matter of fact, their team salary is about $100 million less.
No, they don’t have the championship pedigree that the Yankees do either. Even though the Phillies franchise has been around 29 more years than the Yankees franchise, New York has 24 more World Series championships.
Even this year, the Yankees had more wins (103 compared to Philadelphia’s 93).
Alas, don’t let these numbers fool you. If anyone can beat this New York Yankees team, it is these Philadelphia Phillies.
May 22-24, the Phillies and the Yankees squared away in New York for a three-game Interleague series. Philadelphia won the series 2-1, and would have swept had it not been for the perfect storm of another Brad Lidge meltdown and another New York Yankees magical walk-off win.
The Yankees have a potent lineup, I can’t argue that. But the Phillies have the offensive firepower and versatility to stand toe-to-toe with New York and challenge them.
At the top of the order the Phillies have a ton of speed (not something the Yankees have much of). Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino wreck havoc on the base paths. Together, they combined for 18 triples (Victorino led the majors with 13) and 56 stolen bases (Rollins was tied for tenth in the majors with 31), while only being caught stealing 16 times. Chase Utley and Jayson Werth also run the bases extremely well, each stealing at least 20 bases.
Then there is the power in the middle of the lineup. The Phillies were the only team to have four players hit for 30 or more home runs apiece: Ryan Howard (45), Werth (36), Raul Ibanez (34), and Utley (31). For extra measure, Rollins also hit 21 dingers.
This is also a team rallying behind tragedy. Last season Manager Charlie Manuel’s mother and Victorino’s grandmother both died during the team’s postseason run. The players got behind their fallen teammates, supported them, and used it as further motiviation to win it all, playing in honor of their fallen loved ones. This season, the Phillies suffered another tragedy, one that touched the whole organization. In April, longtime broadcaster Harry Kalas collapsed in the booth and died. Since then, with a black “HK” patch sewn on their jerseys above their hearts, the Phillies have been playing in his honor. A common phrase from fans has been “Do it for Harry”.
The Yankees have home field advantage in the series. That won’t bother Philadelphia. They were tied for the best road record in the majors, with a record of 48-33 away from home.
The Phillies have two starting pitchers that have performed extremely well in the World Series. Game 2 starter Pedro Martinez is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in the October Classic, and Cole Hamels, the Game 3 likely starter, was last year’s World Series MVP.
New York’s game one starter has been dominant in the playoffs last year. Too bad the Phillies owned him last year when they faced him in the NLDS as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. Sabathia lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up six hits, four walks, and five runs. Lowlights included walking pitcher Brett Myers and giving up a grand slam to Shane Victorino.
The Phillies have a certain swagger to them. It isn’t cockiness, it’s confidence. They proved that they are a team that lives for big moments, not one that cowers when the lights shine bright. They will not be intimidated by the enormous new Yankee Stadium, or the history that goes with being a member of the blue pinstripes. This team is able to separate themselves from all of the outside hoopla and just play good baseball.
The Phillies players have confidence in themselves and their teammates. Everybody knows what their role is. Everyone is held to the same standard of play, from NLCS MVP Howard to reserve utililty player Eric Bruntlett (who scored the game winning run in two of Philadelphia’s victories in the ’08 World Series).
They are able to slow the game down. They don’t see the game in nine innings. They see it in one single pitch. Each play is magnified so that they can get the most out of it. This allows them not to get too ahead of themselves or too far in over their heads. Instead, they are able to relax and come up big no matter how late in the game it is or how many runs they are down by. Each pitch is unique, and the team doesn’t feel the anxiety. It’s how you wind up with the dramatic 5-4 walk-off win that the Phillies pulled off with two outs in Game 4 of the NLCS to beat the Dodgers and go up 3-1 in the series.
Most importantly, they show why having such good clubhouse chemistry is important. Nine key players were homegrown talents that played together in the minors before reaching the big leagues: Howard, Utley, Rollins, catcher Carlos Ruiz, and pitchers Hamels, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers, J.A. Happ, and Antonio Bastardo. They took that core, developed them, and then built around them with guys like Werth , Victorino, and Cliff Lee. The guys have played together for so long they’ve built good relationships with each other and want to win not only for themselves, but for the guy next to them. They don’t want to let everyone else down. The relationships are strong, and that makes every player work harder, so that they all can share in success.
It will be a challenging World Series. The team with the best record in the majors and the defending World Series Champions. But the Phillies have the physical talent and the mental tenacity to take home the trophy and be the first team to repeat as champions since the 1998-2000 Yankees.
Prediction: Phillies in 7
Top: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Brad Lidge: AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Jayson Werth: AP Photo/Rob Carr
Monday, October 26, 2009
For the past few years, many baseball fans have complained that the World Series has not been entertaining or memorable.
Last year’s Series between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay had the infamous suspended Game 5, memorable for all the wrong reasons.
In 2004 the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years, certainly memorable for Boston fans, but the series was awful, with the Sox sweeping easily. The ALCS was much more entertaining than the World Series.
The last really good World Series? I would say 2001, New York Yankees against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Seven games, a walk off win to bring home the trophy, and all the emotion, especially emanating from New York, following the biggest tragedy in the country since Pearl Harbor.
There is no need to fear this year, however, baseball fans.
The saying is that to be the best, you have to beat the best, and that holds true here. The Yankees, with the best record in Major League Baseball this year at 103-59 (the only team in the majors to win 100 games) square off against the Philadelphia Phillies, the defending World Series champions.
Philadelphia versus New York has all the elements to make this year’s World Series truly exciting and memorable.
No, it’s not the Subway World Series of 2000 between the Yankees and Mets, but it’s still close.
American League East champion against National League East champion. Both cities separated by the New Jersey Turnpike. A rich sports history between the two cities (NFL’s Giants-Eagles anyone?).
The geographic tension alone gives this matchup a boost in intensity.
If you’re going to any of the games, either at Yankee Stadium or Citizen’s Bank Park, make sure to bring your glove because there are sure to be a ton of souvenirs.
Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia allowed the 207 home runs, the most in the National League, while the new Yankee Stadium surrendered 237 home runs, the most in the American League.
Both teams led their respective leagues in runs scored.
Chicks dig the long ball, and so will everyone else that watches this series.
Combined, the two teams have: nearly a $315,000,000 payroll, 75 total All-Star appearances, 5 Cy Young awards, 5 MVP awards, and 3 World Series MVP awards.
I could also just list names: Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, Mark Teixeira, Jimmy Rollins, C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Mariano Rivera, Pedro Martinez, and Andy Pettite.
These two teams are like their very own All-Star teams, assembling the best talent in all of baseball. Now they will all be on one field in the sport’s biggest showcase.
Late Inning Heroics
Both these teams have a taste for dramatic wins.
The Yankees led all of major league baseball with 15 walk-off wins and 51 comeback victories in 2009. It wasn’t always the big boppers that got key hits either; Melky Cabrera, Hideki Matsui, and Robinson Cano all got chances to play the hero for New York.
The Phillies also provide their fair share of walk-offs, especially in big games. In last year’s World Series, Carlos Ruiz won Game 3 with a walk off infield single, giving the Phillies a 2-1 series lead that they would not relinquish. Just last week in the NLCS Game 4 Jimmy Rollins came through with a walk-off two run double with two outs, putting the Phillies ahead in the series 3-1 and demoralizing Jonathan Broxton and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
These two teams are very confident in their abilities and those of their teammates. No deficit is too insurmountable and it’s never too late. Their penchant for coming from behind and making it interesting up until the final out will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.
Many fans wanted to see a Yankees-Dodgers matchup to see Joe Torre back in the Bronx as well as the chance to boo Manny Ramirez one more time.
However, these two teams are more familiar with each other than people realize.
For starters, Phillies reserve infielder Miguel Cairo played for the Yankees from 2004-2007.
In 2006, Yankees manager Joe Girardi got his start as manager of Philadelphia’s NL East foes the Florida Marlins, where he was named National League Manager of the Year. The team went 6-13 against the Phillies that season.
Wednesday’s Game 1 starters C.C. Sabathia (New York) and Cliff Lee (Philadelphia) were teammates with the Cleveland Indians from 2002 to 2008.
Sabathia’s manager his first year and a half in the big leagues was Philadelphia’s current manager Charlie Manuel.
Probably the biggest tie between C.C. and the Phillies is last year’s NLDS, when Sabathia was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. In his one start in Game 2, Sabathia was shelled by the Phillies offensive powerhouse. He lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up six hits, four walks, and five runs. Lowlights included walking pitcher Brett Myers and giving up a grand slam to Shane Victorino.
While Manny Ramirez was certainly a popular nemesis to the Yankees, who was really New York’s number one villain? That would be Pedro Martinez of course.
When asked about his history with the Yankees recently, Martinez replied, “Really? They have a long history with me.”
Pedro has a career record of 10-11 against the Yankees, and is 1-2 in the playoffs against them, but the memories Pedro and the Yankees have created have been juicy, perfect to elevate the entertainment of the series.
There was the time, in a bench clearing brawl, that Pedro pushed aside then-Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground, the time Pedro was asked about the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry and he replied, “I don't believe in rivalries. I don't believe in curses. Wake up the damn Bambino, maybe I'll drill him in the ass,” and of course, after a late-season loss to the Yankees Pedro aid in a post-game interview, “I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddies.”
Pedro against the Yankees is first class theatre. Pedro in the playoffs is domination; he is a career 6-2 in the postseason, including a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA in the World Series.
How much more drama can fans ask for?
Finally, there is the prospect of both clubs making history.
For the Yankees, a win would give them their 27th title, extending their stranglehold on the MLB record. It would also be their first championship since their victory in the 2000 series.
The Phillies have an opportunity to be the first team to repeat as champions since the Yankees did it in 1998, 1999, and 2000. They would also be the first National League team to win consecutive titles since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds.
Both these teams are deserving of playing for the championship. They both have become teams that live to play for huge moments like those that await them in the series. The teams are fearless and confident. They will not back down to the other squad; rather they will answer every challenge that is brought up.
It is sure to be an exhilarating series. Just you watch.
Top and C.C. Sabathia: AP Photo/ Kathy Willens
Pedro Martinez: AP Photo/ Julie Jacobson
Friday, October 23, 2009
AP Photo/ Gene J. Puskar
Another 9-5 record last week, but the losses were all close. So now we look ahead to week 7, and we should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from most, if not every team, by now.
The Giants will look to rebound from the beating they received at the hands of the Saints last week, and the Patriots will look to put together another dominating performance, this time in London.
Pittsburgh gets Troy Polamalu back, while San Francisco will get back Frank Gore and will also possibly start first round draft pick Michael Crabtree. Meanwhile the Bengals lose Antwan Odom and the Chargers and Browns have had a number of players miss practice throughout the week due to the flu. How will these personnel shakeups affect their respective teams?
Here’s who I like in week 7, how about you?
Green Bay (3-2) at Cleveland (1-5)
Green Bay took advantage of an already weak Lions team last week that was missing starting quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson. They need to do the same this week, one week before their final showdown with a tough Vikings team. The Browns had 12 players miss practice this week because of the flu, including linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and Pro Bowl nose tackle Shaun Rogers. Nine players returned to the team, but I honestly can’t believe that they are in game shape. The Browns were already a bad team; now they are a depleted, sick bad team. Green Bay gets an easy victory here.
San Diego (2-3) at Kansas City (1-5)
The Chargers also had a few players miss practice because of the flu, mainly LaDanian Tomlinson. However, San Diego is in a better state as a football team than Cleveland is, and Kansas City is not nearly as good as the Packers are. Philip Rivers and Darren Sproles have been the keys to San Diego’s offense this season anyway and they will take advantage of the 29th ranked defense in the league. Victory for the Chargers.
Indianapolis (5-0) at St. Louis (0-6)
Peyton Manning and co. are steamrolling through another regular season, outscoring opponents 137-71 this season. St. Louis? They haven’t even scored 71 points themselves yet, being outscored 54-169. I don’t think this will be a close one. Indy wins easily.
Minnesota (6-0) at Pittsburgh (4-2)
This is week seven’s best matchup. The Vikings have gone up against some very difficult competition the past few weeks, and they have prevailed. However, they haven’t experienced anything like what they will in week 7. The Vikings will travel to Heinz Field, home of the defending Super Bowl champions, where the Steelers haven’t lost this season. Hines Ward went off last week for 159 yards, Rashard Mendenhall has really picked up Pittsburgh’s running game in the recent weeks, and Ben Roethlisberger has been huge this season (1,887 passing yards, 72.5 completion percentage, 10 touchdowns, and only six interceptions) including throwing for 417 yards last week against Cleveland. Troy Polamalu also returns from injury.
Pittsburgh has struggled closing games out, and in a close game, Minnesota will likely look to Adrian Peterson to kill some clock (although Peterson is much more of a home run back than one that will grind out the game), but I think the edge in this game is with the Steelers. Pittsburgh will be victorious.
New England (4-2) at Tampa Bay (0-6)
This is this year’s game being played in London. It really wouldn’t make a difference where this game would be played. The Patriots just destroyed the Titans, winless, last week with an amazing aerial display. Tampa really doesn’t have too much going for them. It looks like they are just next in line for a beat down.
It makes me wonder why the NFL would schedule this as the game to showcase to Europe. I understand getting teams the foreigners are interested in. But did anyone really think Tampa Bay would be a team you want to showcase this year? It’s not even like they are underperforming, everyone pretty much felt they were in for a rough season. Is this the kind of team we want the whole world to see? Would those in Europe really be interested in a blowout? I would think they’d like to see an exciting game. This won’t be one. New England wins big.
San Francisco (3-2) at Houston (3-3)
An interesting matchup here. Houston got a big win last week over the Bengals, while San Francisco had a bye following the drubbing they received from the Falcons a week earlier. All season I’ve said I like San Francisco, and I still do, however, their offense has been stagnant at times. They get a big boost from the supposed return of RB Frank Gore from injury and possible start of first round draft pick Michael Crabtree at receiver this week, but I don’t know if they’ve had enough time to work out all the kinks. Meanwhile Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, and Steve Slaton seem to be putting up points at will. At home, I like the Texans offense to outgun San Francisco’s and win the game.
Buffalo (2-4) at Carolina (2-3)
Well what do you know, DeAngelo Williams rushes 30 times, and Jonathan Stewart gets 17 carries—compared to Jake Delhomme’s 17 pass attempts—and the Panthers win. Williams rushed for 152 yards and two TD’s while Stewart gained 110 yards with 1 TD. Buffalo has the worst rushing defense in the league. Think we’ll see a repeat of Carolina’s rushing performance from last week? I sure do. Carolina wins this game.
NY Jets (3-3) at Oakland (2-4)
The Jets, and especially rookie QB Mark Sanchez, looked awful last week. They lost to a Buffalo team that had put up a total of 3 points against the Browns the week before. Meanwhile, the Raiders squeaked out an upset win over the Eagles. Both were anomalies. Maybe the Jets aren’t as good as everyone thought they would be after the first couple weeks of the season, but they aren’t bad enough to be embarrassed two weeks in a row. The Raiders also aren’t good enough to win two weeks in a row. Even in the win, Oakland QB JaMarcus Russell struggled, only going 17 for 28 for 224 yards (139 of which went to TE Zach Miller, who had a phenomenal weekend) one TD, and two more interceptions. The Jets D is pretty good. I expect them to stymie Russell, create plenty of turnovers, and handle the Raiders. Jets win.
Atlanta (4-1) at Dallas (3-2)
Atlanta looks good so far. They haven’t been the prettiest team, but they are getting victories over good competition. It looks like Michael Turner is starting to get his legs underneath him and Roddy White has had a huge season so far. TE Tony Gonzalez has also been a nice addition to Atlanta, and Matt Ryan has been utilizing all his weapons. Dallas had a bye week to figure out the mess they’ve made this season, but I am not confident in them one bit. Tony Romo has become a turnover machine this season. And their leading wide receiver? Miles Austin. I love Austin, a former Monmouth University product, and think he can be a very good receiver. But for a Cowboys team that a) expected to be a playoff contender and b) has Roy Williams and Jason Witten, how can Miles Austin be the leading receiver. Easy: he’s coming in every game to play and stepping it up while no one else on that team is. Sorry Miles, I really think you’re great, but I think your Cowboys lose to a better team in the Falcons this week.
Chicago (3-2) at Cincinnati (4-2)
Cincinnati suffered quite a few setbacks last week. Not only did they lose to Houston, but they also lost defensive lineman Antwan Odom, one of the league leaders in sacks, for the season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon. Still, it isn’t like Chicago is in better shape. They lost their defensive star LB Brian Urlacher (albeit in week 1) and they too lost last week (to Atlanta in a not-so-pretty outing). The Bengals have two former Bears, RB Cedric Benson and DT Tank Johnson, who had very difficult times in Chicago and could be looking to make statements to their former team. I like the Bengals to find a way to win this game.
New Orleans (6-0) at Miami (2-3)
Drew Brees absolutely tore apart the best defense in the league last week. It was truly an amazing display to watch. He’s a special player. With such a resounding win over one of the toughest competitors in the NFC last week, the Saints proved they are legit. Miami will put up a fight, that’s just the character of their team and their leaders, but in the end they won’t be able to keep up with New Orleans. The Saints will win and continue their undefeated season.
Arizona (3-2) at NY Giants (6-1)
The Giants were embarrassed last weekend against the Saints. Good teams don’t let that happen to them twice in a row. That game was a wake-up call to New York, who waltzed through the beginning of the season against meager competition. I expect them to come out with a vengeance this week, especially against the defending NFC Champions, a status the Giants aspire to get back to. They face another good passing attack this week with the Cardinals featuring QB Kurt Warner and WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston. However, Boldin and Breaston have been banged up all year and I believe this Giants team is still good enough to get past them. Giants Stadium will be rocking, and I believe New York will come to play this week and prove they are the best team in the NFC. Giants win.
Philadelphia (3-2) at Washington (2-4)
An absolutely terrible effort from the Eagles last week against the Raiders. Not only did the Raiders outscore them (13-9), but the Eagles’ baseball counterpart, the Philadelphia Phillies, outscored them in their NLCS win over the Los Angeles Dodgers that night (11-0). Still, losses happen. The Redskins are in much more turmoil than Philadelphia. Washington Head Coach Jim Zorn was stripped of his play-calling duties during the week, which is surprising because it was his offensive abilities that Washington hired him for the position in the first place. Plus, starting QB Jason Campbell was benched in last week’s game. And for the first time in the ’09 campaign the Redskins will play somebody with a win. These are certainly not good signs for Washington. Eagles win.
Byes: Denver, Detroit, Tennessee, Seattle, Jacksonville, Baltimore
Last week: 9-5
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Photo Credit. AP Photo/ Bill Kostroun
Last week saw a bit of a drop in form with my picks, putting together a record of 9-5. Still, I will forge ahead and give my picks for week 6.
I am expecting the Giants- Saints game to be the best of the weekend. Denver against San Diego on Monday Night Football should also be really good (ESPN has done a good job scheduling MNF games so far this season, some really great matchups between rivals). However, there are too many matchups between really bad teams this week (Carolina-Tampa Bay, Kansas City-Washington, even St. Louis- Jacksonville) for my liking. At least they will be competitive?
Here is who I like this weekend, who do you have?
Houston (2-3) at Cincinnati (4-1)
Cedric Benson leads the league in rushing yards, Antwan Odom is tied for the league lead in sacks, and Jonathan Joseph is second in the league in interceptions. I wonder what the odds were before the season on this happening. I know you’d be lying if you told me you saw it coming. They’ve beaten three good teams (Green Bay and then division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore, who they really need to beat to compete for a playoff spot), played lousy but won against an awful team (Cleveland) and lost on a miracle to an undefeated team. But those wins against good teams, were they just luck?
The Texans have been a mixed bad. They’re offense has looked pretty good at times, but their wins have come over Tennessee (winless) and Oakland (would be winless if it wasn’t for Kansas City). Their losses are against two decent teams (New York Jets and Arizona) and one team that is more Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde than they are (Jacksonville). It’s been tough to get a good read on where these two teams stand. I think this game will be another exciting one. Cincy has been playing out of their minds this season and the old saying going, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. I’ll take the Bengals to win this week.
Detroit (1-4) at Green Bay (2-2)
Green Bay at home against the team at the bottom of their division. Coming off a loss and a bye this is a statement week for them. They need to come out and dominate, especially if the Lions are without Calvin Johnson. Green Bay will get the job done and win this game.
Baltimore (3-2) at Minnesota (5-0)
After tearing the league apart in its first three games, the Ravens have unraveled a bit losing two in a row. Meanwhile, the Vikings have stepped it up lately, beating the Packers in one of the most anticipated games in the first half of the season and destroying St. Louis last week to remain undefeated. As I have before, I point out the Ravens fast and aggressive defense. Brett Favre has played very well this season, but he’s not a young kid anymore. Will he be able to evade Ray Lewis and company? Will he stay within himself and play smart or will he revert to the ignorant gunslinger and throw some costly turnovers into the hands of Ed Reed? However, will the Ravens defense be able to keep up with Adrian Peterson, second in the league in rushing? Last week the Ravens went up against the number one rusher in the NFL, Cedric Benson, and he snapped their streak of games not allowing a 100-yard rusher. Are they vulnerable for another attack?
Meanwhile, the Vikings D looks sharp. They have the most sacks in the league—beware Joe Flacco—and are 12th in rushing defense, which could be enough to stop Ray Rice. I may be drinking from the Viking Kool-Aid, but this team doesn’t have the questions the Ravens have developed right now and are really playing some good football. I’ll take Minnesota to win.
NY Giants (5-0) at New Orleans (4-0)
This is the marquee matchup of the weekend. Two undefeated teams. The best defense against one of the most exciting offenses. One can argue that the G-Men haven’t really been tested yet, and their top ranked “d” is a sign of the weak offenses they’ve gone up against. But this is a Super Bowl-caliber team. They have plenty of veteran leadership and guys that have been there before and know what it takes to win big games.
The Saints haven’t won those big games yet and Drew Brees has looked pretty pedestrian in his last two games, not throwing a single touchdown or breaking 200 yards passing. Even with the bye last week for an extra week to prepare for them, I don’t think Brees fares much better against arguably the strongest and deepest defense in the league. Giants will win this showdown and give New Orleans their first loss.
Cleveland (1-4) at Pittsburgh (3-2)
Cleveland is finally on the board for the ’09 season. Still, they only scored six points. Now they go to Pittsburgh, where the Steelers haven’t lost yet in this young season. If Pittsburgh is smart, they keep handing the ball off to Rashard Mendenhall, who has looked very good in Willie Parker’s absence. This should be no contest. Steelers take this one.
Carolina (1-3) at Tampa Bay (0-5)
Two anemic offenses. Two struggling defenses. It’s really a toss-up. I’ve kind of lost faith in anything the Panthers have done. Last week, against the Redskins defense, currently ranked 23rd in the league, DeAngelo Williams only rushed the ball 18 times. It was his highest total of the season (any coincidence that his highest rushing attempts total came in their only win of the season?), but I still think he needs to carry the ball more. Take the ball out of Jake Delhomme’s hands. Tampa Bay’s rush defense sits at number 29, however they have only allowed three rushing touchdowns.
Will the Panthers do the smart thing? Josh Johnson isn’t a bad quarterback and did some nice things last week. Still, three interceptions isn’t going to win you any games. Panthers Head Coach John Fox isn’t dumb; he’s had success in this league and even led the Panthers to a Super Bowl. You don’t do that with just pure lack, or by riding your players alone. He can do the job. I think he and the team take advantage of Tampa’s lack of success against the run, give Williams even more carries, and win this football game.
Kansas City (0-5) at Washington (2-3)
The Redskins are now the first team in history to start the season playing six straight winless opponents. Their record? 2-3, good enough for last place in the NFC East. They have just been a bad team. Their effort on the field has been very uninspired and it only means impending doom for Head Coach Jim Zorn. Not that the Chiefs have looked good either, but it’s very hard to go an entire season without a win, and this is as good a matchup as any for them. I’ll take the Chiefs to “upset” Washington.
St. Louis (0-5) at Jacksonville (2-3)
Jacksonville was embarrassed last week. And that led to Maurice Jones-Drew calling out the coaching staff for its selection in offensive plays and personnel. Had this been a one-time thing, I look past it. But the Jaguars haven’t been the model of consistency, and last week’s performance and Jones-Drew’s tirade are red flags for me, even against the lowly Rams. For the Rams, at least Steven Jackson looks very good this year. The team is messed up at quarterback, but I think Jackson puts the team on his shoulders and goes off against the 20th ranked run defense. I’ll take St. Louis for the win.
Arizona (2-2) at Seattle (2-3)
Matt Hasselbeck returned and the Seahawks dominated. So why is T.J. Houshmandzadeh complaining now? I would’ve understood if it was the past couple weeks, but your QB is back. Maybe he didn’t get you the ball as much as you would’ve liked last week, but it was his first game back from injury. It’s week six, still a lot of season left. Why complain now? Arizona took care of business last week. They are certainly better than Jacksonville and won’t play dead against the Seahawks. I’ll take the Cardinals to win this game.
Philadelphia (3-1) at Oakland (1-4)
Another week, another tough NFC East opponent for Oakland, who was only able to muster up seven points against the Giants last week. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has played fairly well this season. Expect more of the same from both teams, and an easy Eagles win.
Tennessee (0-5) at New England (3-2)
Another loss for Tennessee last weekend. It gets no easier in week six. While the Patriots haven’t been the juggernaut of old, they still have shown flashes. One thing New England is very good at is their passing game. They are currently fourth in the league in passing offense and have all the tools to execute. Tom Brady is still a very good quarterback, their wide receivers, led by Randy Moss and Wes Welker, are very good, and the offensive line, although it hasn’t been at its best this year, is still serviceable. Tennessee will also be without both starting cornerbacks. Nick Harper broke his arm against the Colts last week and Pro Bowler Cortland Finnegan was just recently ruled out with a right hamstring injury. Safety Vincent Fuller also has a broken arm and has not been cleared for contact. This spells disaster for the Titans and another home win for the Patriots.
Buffalo (1-4) at NY Jets (3-2)
Buffalo scored grand total of three points last week. Against Cleveland. And they lost. They have hit rock bottom. The Jets are much better than Cleveland. No way is Buffalo even close in this one at Giants Stadium. Jets win big.
Chicago (3-1) at Atlanta (3-1)
With all the media fawning over Minnesota and Green Bay, Chicago is quietly enjoying a nice 3-1 season so far. This will be a big game for them, but after a very slow start it was encouraging to see Matt Forte go off for 121 rushing yards against Detroit before the team’s bye week. Atlanta’s offense has had a very good year so far. Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White have all enjoyed good seasons so far, culminating in last week’s drubbing of a good 49’ers team. The Bears defense is ranked fifth in the league right now, even without Brian Urlacher, but Atlanta isn’t too far behind, ranked eighth. I feel the Falcons’ offense is more well-rounded, and will pick them to win at home.
Denver (5-0) at San Diego (2-2)
Although it never means as much this time around, you have to think Denver is thinking about getting a little bit of redemption here against the team that basically stole their playoff spot last year. Denver must also be feeling really good about themselves after their big win against New England last week. Knowshon Moreno is starting to come into his own, especially with the injury bug nagging Correll Buckhalter. Moreno still only has one rushing touchdown, earned in week three against Oakland, but the Charger’s defense has been one of the worst against the run this season, ranked 24th. I like the Broncos to continue riding their momentum and beat San Diego, remaining undefeated.
Byes: Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, San Francisco
Last week: 9-5
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, United States National Team striker Charlie Davies was enjoying the height of his soccer career. He had just played a major part in the country qualifying for its sixth straight World Cup.
Tuesday, he was in a hospital in stable but serious condition.
Davies, 23, was involved in a one-car accident Tuesday on the George Washington Parkway in Virginia. He was airlifted to the Washington Hospital Center Medstar to undergo several hours of surgery to repair a lacerated bladder, fractures to the tibia and femur in his right leg, facial fractures, and a fracture in his left elbow. According to the U.S Men’s National Team blog, titanium rods were placed in his leg with no complications and he will be hospitalized for at least another week with more surgeries to come to stabilize his elbow fracture and facial fractures.
“The car was pretty much split in half,” U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser said, according to The Washington Post.
The driver of the car was also injured and the other passenger was killed. It is currently unknown what the cause of the accident was and if Davies’ injuries are career-threatening.
“Injuries of this nature usually require a recovery period of six to 12 months and extensive rehabilitation,” said U.S. Soccer physician Dr. Dan Kalbac, on the team’s blog. ”Due to Charlie’s fitness level, his prognosis for recovery and his ability to resume high-level competition is substantially improved.”
This is an extremely sad day for all of U.S. soccer.
Davies is a budding star. After attending Boston College for two years, Davies went to Sweden and played for Hammarby, scoring 21 goals in 56 league appearances. In July, he signed with French club Sochaux and has two goals in six league appearances.
While his play abroad has been impressive, his biggest impact has come on the international stage.
The first real glimpse many American fans got of Davies was in the 2008 Summer Olympics, where he came on as a sub in the last game against Nigeria. Needing a tie to advance out of group play, the U.S. was down 2-1. The complexion of the game changed though when Davies entered the pitch. His incredible speed allowed him to get behind the defense and caused Nigeria fits. In the dying minutes of the game, he put forth a header that struck the crossbar, nearly earning him the equalizer and hero of the tournament status.
It may not have gone in, but Davies was just beginning to leave his mark.
Davies has 17 appearances for the senior national team and has scored four goals, three of them being extremely important and showing Davies’ value for the team.
His first goal came October 15, 2008, in a World Cup qualifying match against Trinidad and Tobago. The team lost 2-1, but Davies goal had tied the game at 1 and kept the U.S. in it.
His biggest goal came against Egypt in this past summer’s Confederation’s Cup. The U.S. were all but eliminated, needing to beat Egypt by three or more goals as well as Brazil beating Italy by three or more to advance to the next round.
Jozy Altidore sent in a low cross that the goalie got his hands on but didn’t bring in. Davies, running onto the cross, continued to run through the ball and poked it free towards the goal line. Fighting off two defenders, Davies played with the ball, turned it, and knocked it into the net. The goal showed an extreme amount of determination and hustle, and it started an offensive blitzkrieg from the U.S. on Egypt. The U.S. wound up winning 3-0, as did Brazil. The U.S. wound up advancing to the finals of the tournament against Brazil, losing 3-2.
His latest goal came in World Cup qualifying against Mexico. This goal is significant because not only the goal give the U.S. a 1-0 lead (they eventually lost the game 2-1), but the game was played at the infamous Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, known for its grueling altitude and hostile crowd that both paralyze opponents. The 23-year-old became only the fourth American in the history of the game to score against Mexico at Azteca.
It is the heart, hustle, skill, determination, and courage that Davies has displayed on the field and especially on those goals that have made him a special player. Not only do those qualities benefit him, they also rub off on his teammates.
Sometimes, it seems as if leaders like Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey get a bit complacent with their positions on the national team, or the offense is lazy, but never Davies. No matter the situation, whenever Charlie is sent onto the field, he is buzzing around, posing a serious attacking threat. It makes the game more enjoyable to watch and it makes his teammates excited and they to begin to show that same heart and desire.
The Americans are not the most skilled team in the world, by far. However, what they lack in talent, they make up for in grit and determination. Charlie Davies perfectly symbolized that style of play.
In a recent interview, Davies expressed his firm belief that the U.S. could win the upcoming 2010 World Cup in South Africa—even before they had even qualified for it.
“I think we showed we have the potential to really make an impact at the World Cup. If we are all playing well, with the players we have and if we are all on the same page there is no reason why we couldn't win a World Cup that's for sure,” he said.
While it is a long-shot, it isn’t impossible, especially after some of the performances the U.S. has put on against top-competition recently, mainly Brazil, Spain, and Argentina. Improbable or not, I want my players to truly believe that they can win, otherwise why play at all?
This statement was not naivety, nor was it cockiness. It was simply a player make a statement about the confidence in himself, his team, and their abilities.
Davies has also been very interactive and grateful with his fans, with Twitter and Facebook pages dedicated to helping him reach out to those that support him.
Leadership can come from the most unexpected places sometimes. A youngster and newcomer to the team, Davies’ play on the field and his attitude and the way he carries himself off of it truly make him a leader and an example of what American soccer players should strive to be like.
Alas, all that Davies brings to the table will now be missed, for quite some time. While nothing has been made official, it is only practical that he miss this summer’s World Cup. The most important thing for him though is to make a full recovery, to be healthy. Soccer can wait; there are more important things in life.
I will choose not to speculate who will take his spot in the lineup or how the team will learn to play without him. Rather, I choose to make this a wish of all the other players.
I hope that they play with Davies’ heart, hustle, and determination, because it is that desire that Davies brought to the team and will help them succeed.
I also hope that the players, as well as any other normal person, recognize that anything can happen, and your life can be altered in the blink of an eye, so not to take anything for granted, whether it be your status on the playing field, or more important things such as your friends, your family, or your life.
One day you can be on top of the world, only for the world to crash down on top of you the next.
Fans can send Davies their thoughts and get-well wishes to his e-mail account, firstname.lastname@example.org, and the messages will be printed and delivered to him.
Top: AP Photo/ Fernando Llana, File
Side: AP Photo/ Ted S. Warren, File
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Photo Credit. AP Photo/ Rob Carr
Time for my week 5 picks. There are a bunch of matchups I’m really interested in this week, such as the Bengals-Ravens, Texans-Cardinals, Falcons-49er’s, Patriots-Broncos, and of course, Jets-Dolphins. As always, let me know what you think of the picks in the comment section.
Cleveland (0-4) at Buffalo (1-3)
Cleveland pushed a tough Bengals team to the limit last week, eventually falling in overtime. Yet they just traded their number one receiver and are very unsettled at the quarterback position. Buffalo has been very disappointing thus far this season, especially after expectations were raised when they signed Terrell Owens (who has done very little). I think this could be a breakout week from Buffalo against a weaker opponent. Running back Fred Jackson has been a nice surprise for the Bills in the absence of Marshawn Lynch (who returned last week) and Cleveland has the worst rushing defense in the league. I predict a win for Buffalo.
Dallas (2-2) at Kansas City (0-4)
Dallas is not playing well, even in their wins. Tony Romo looks like he has never played football before. However, as bad as the Cowboys are right now, the Chiefs are even worse. Nothing is going right for them and no player is really doing well. The Cowboys, amidst all their frustration this year, catch a break going up against such a bad team this week. Expect them to take out their frustrations on Kansas City and get the “W”.
Minnesota (4-0) at St. Louis (0-4)
Although the game was at home (I think it’s a different story if played at Lambeau), I still give Minnesota credit for beating what I think is a very good Green Bay Packer team. It was a tough test and the Vikings came to play that night, especially their defense. The one positive I see here for St. Louis is the potential for Minnesota to have a huge letdown in energy after such an emotional game Monday night. Still, I think that letdown would have to be of epic proportions for the Rams to win this game. Minnesota gets the win.
Oakland (1-3) at NY Giants (4-0)
Other than the Cowboys game, the Giants have not been challenged at all. It can’t be beneficial to them. They are just cruising right now while other playoff caliber teams are playing decent competition, preparing them for the tough competition they’ll face down the stretch and in the playoffs, if they make it. Not that it’s the Giants fault, they’re taking care of business as it was set out for them, just something to think of down the road. Giants with another easy victory.
Tampa Bay (0-4) at Philadelphia (2-1)
After a bye, the Eagles get Donovan McNabb back. Not that Kevin Kolb did a bad job, he actually looked good at some points, but McNabb is the heart of this team and its leader and that can’t be replaced. Who knows though, the Eagles may start to run away with this one and Kolb will get more playing time to keep McNabb fresh and injury-free. And how many plays can we expect to see Michael Vick in this week? What does McNabb’s return mean for Vick at the QB position? Philadelphia wins.
Pittsburgh (2-2) at Detroit (1-3)
Pittsburgh struggled in the second half against San Diego last week, but they did enough to hold on for the win and even out their record. Looking to build off the momentum of a victory against another playoff team from last year, I see Pittsburgh coming out strong against a much weaker opponent. They’ll be looking to get their first win on the road, and I believe they will do so against Detroit.
Washington (2-2) at Carolina (0-3)
Neither team has been impressive this year. However, Carolina is a much more talented team, especially on offense. Delhomme has been a turnover machine, but hopefully Head Coach John Fox realizes that they key to Carolina’s success is, and will be, running the ball with DeAngelo Williams (maybe even getting Jonathan Stewart going again). At home, I pick Carolina to finally get their first win of the season.
Cincinnati (3-1) at Baltimore (3-1)
Cincinnati has been a nice surprise this season. Still, they needed overtime last week to beat a winless Browns team. Baltimore had its chances to beat the Patriots and remain undefeated but they ultimately fell short. Still, quarterback Joe Flacco is playing very well, Ray Rice (former Ruytgers product)is having a breakout year, Wilils McGahee leads the NFL in touchdowns, and Derrick Mason—after announcing he wished to retire—is having a standout season. Add these new offensive dimensions to an already talented defense and this team is intimidating to go up against. Back at home, I expect the Ravens to not let last week’s slipup get to them, and beat the Bengals.
Atlanta (2-1) at San Francisco (3-1)
This is one of my favorite matchups of the weekend. Both these teams are young, upstart teams with playoff aspirations. 49ers’ Head Coach Mike Singletary has done a great job with this team so far. He has really instilled a great, winning attitude in the players. However, their three victories of the season have come against all the teams in the NFC West, the worst division in the NFL. They did play the Vikings to a good game, but could not finish them off. Then again, Atlanta’s wins (Miami and Carolina) aren’t much to talk about either, and even though Tom Brady struggled, they were outclassed by the Patriots in New England. This game will be a close one. I feel Atlanta has the more explosive offense and will be able to make the big plays that will decide the outcome of the game. Victory for Atlanta.
Jacksonville (2-2) at Seattle (1-3)
Seattle really needs Matt Hasselbeck as their quarterback to be competitive. They just aren’t the same team without him. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are on a nice two-game winning streak after stumbling out of the gates to begin the season. Maurice Jones-Drew has been electrifying lately, and it looks like David Garrard is starting to round back into form. I’ll take Jacksonville to get the win in this game.
Houston (2-2) at Arizona (1-2)
Another interesting matchup this weekend. I like what Houston is doing this season. They have a very exciting offense. It’s becoming more well-rounded as Steve Slaton begins to play a bigger role. After struggling the first two weeks, in his past two games he’s rushed for 141 yards and he scored his first touchdown of the season. Arizona had a bye last week, after getting abused by the Colts. They have the best wide receiver depth chart in the league. The running game however, is the worst in the league. I’m picking Houston to win this game.
New England (3-1) at Denver (4-0)
I’ve gone against the Patriots the past two weeks and what have they done? They won both games and have played increasingly better every week. It is no coincidence that Tom Brady looked more comfortable last Sunday—surprising because he was facing an intimidating Ravens defense—with Wes Welker, his favorite target, back in the lineup. Welker was the leading receiver for New England last week. I like what Denver is doing right now and they are an intriguing team, but I feel the Patriots are stronger and will win this matchup.
Indianapolis (4-0) at Tennessee (0-4)
Tennessee always plays the Colts tough, especially at home. However, I haven’t seen any signs of life out of them (except for Chris Brown) to merit picking them against such a strong opponent. Three things that have turned the Titans upside down this year: 1. Their defense isn’t as good as last year (do they really miss Albert Haynesworth that much?) 2. Kerry Collins is coming back down to Earth (is it time to go back to Vince Young yet?) and 3. LenDale White has done absolutely nothing this year (ironic, after everyone was raving about how he lost all that weight after giving up drinking tequila). As I said before, Tennessee always plays the Colts tough, which is making a lot of people consider that this will be the week they finally get their first win (can you believe the Detroit Lions won a game before the Titans have), but I don’t see it. Tennessee, as a team, has to play well for an entire game before I can even consider them to beat a team like the Colts. Indianapolis gets the victory.
NY Jets (3-1) at Miami (1-3)
Mark Sanchez, Jets fan’s latest hero, got his first taste of defeat last week. The Jets responded by going and getting him a new toy, receiver Braylon Edwards. A one-time Pro Bowler with a nice mix of athleticism, size, and speed, people have sometimes questioned his work ethic, his attitude, and his ability to actually catch a pass. Maybe, a fresh start with New York (coming from an abysmal situation in Cleveland), will prove that the grass is greener on the other side. Who knows how he will perform though, adjusting to a new system. Miami looked good in Chad Henne’s first start last week, and they ran the ball extremely well. It’s not the best matchup, but when two teams with so much history between them matchup, you can, most of the time, throw the records out, they don’t matter. For some reason, deep inside me, I truly believe being at home this week gives Miami their best chance at beating the Jets. It may not be a case of the better team winning, but I have a good feeling the Dolphins will steal one from their division rivals here.
Byes: Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Diego
Last week: 10-4
Friday, October 2, 2009
Photo Credit. AP Photo/ Tom Gannam
So last week I was quite successful with my picks, going 12-4 on the weekend. This weekend features some good matchups, such as Ravens-Patriots, Saints-Jets, and Packers-Vikings on Monday night. Here's who I like to pick up wins this weekend:
Detroit (1-2) at Chicago (2-1)
Congratulations Detroit! You’ve won for the first time since 2007! Time to start another losing streak. Chicago gets the win.
Cincinnati (2-1) at Cleveland (0-3)
The Bengals were my guilty pleasure of the summer. They were a pleasure to watch on HBO’s Hard Knocks. It was really hilarious. I felt guilty though, because I thought they were going to have an awful season. I guess I was wrong. It hasn’t been pretty all the time, and they sure are causing a lot of heart-problems in Cincinnati, as all their results have come in the waning minutes of their games. Literally every game has come to the wire. But they are playing tough, and Cleveland hasn’t. Win for the Bengals here.
Seattle (1-2) at Indianapolis (3-0)
Last week, the Colts were losing 3-0 through the second quarter. I was working my shift at the Boston Globe, and my co-worker and I were wondering if maybe the Colts were starting to decline. Then in just over seven minutes they scored three touchdowns and took control of the game. Sorry to ever doubt you Peyton. I pick them to beat up on the Seahawks.
New York Giants (3-0) at Kansas City (0-3)
Giants. Easily. It isn’t all good news for the G-Men though. Safety Kenny Phillips had microfracture surgery on his left knee and won’t be able to even run for five months.
Baltimore (3-0) at New England (2-1)
Baltimore has looked sharp in every facet of the game this season. Tom Brady played better last week, but he still wasn’t himself, especially in the first half. He doesn’t look confident. How will he react with Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Ed Reed coming at him full speed? I’ll take Baltimore.
Tampa Bay (0-3) at Washington (1-2)
Both these teams have looked miserable this season. The Buccaneers do have a new coach, and they did have to play a tough Giants team last week. Their other opponents, the Cowboys and Bills, weren’t horrible either. What’s your excuse Washington? Embarrassing victory against the helpless Rams and then let the Lions beat you? Ouch. Another team gets their first win of the season courtesy of the Redskins (for the record, if Tampa Bay does win, they will be the third team in four weeks to get their first win against Washington—if that doesn’t say doormat I don’t know what does).
Tennessee (0-3) at Jacksonville (1-2)
What is going through Chris Johnson’s mind right now? In three losses, he’s rushed for 351 yards and two touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 106 yards and another touchdown. He’s got to be wondering what else he can do to help the team win a game. They face another dynamic running back this weekend in Maurice Jones-Drew. Too bad the rest of Jacksonville isn’t as good as he is. I’ll take Tennessee to finally get in the win column.
Oakland (1-2) at Houston (1-2)
Recent Raider first round picks: OL Robert Gallery, QB JaMarcus Russell, RB Darren McFadden, and WR Darius Heyward-Bey. All offense. One would think that they would be pretty exciting to watch, even if they weren’t winning. Not true. In three games they’ve scored 36 points, bad enough for third worst in the league. The Saints have scored more than that in one week—twice. Houston wins.
New York Jets (3-0) at New Orleans (3-0)
The Jets have looked good so far. Strong defense. Mark Sanchez gets better every week, and his rushing touchdown was phenomenal. I have a lot of respect for a quarterback that runs like that to make sure his team wins. Still, I am enamored with Drew Brees. Not only do the Jets have to go up against the best quarterback in the league right now, but they have to do so without cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland. I’ll take the Saints at home.
Buffalo (1-2) at Miami (0-3)
Is Terrell Owens primed for a breakout week? He got into the media this week after some time staying quiet. Poor T.O. He’s so misunderstood. He only ran himself out of San Francisco, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Dallas. But it’s the media’s fault for sure. They pick on him for no reason at all. As for the game? Who knows? Buffalo already blew one against an AFC East foe. As for Miami, the Chad Henne era begins. With his promotion, Pat White gets promoted to number two, where they can actually use him in the Wildcat. This game really is a toss-up, but I’ll take Miami.
St. Louis (0-3) at San Francisco (2-1)
Another NFC West stinker. The 49er’s got beat by another Brett Favre miracle last week. I still think they are the best team in their division, and they showed they can be competitive. St.Louis, well they can be competitive with Washington. San Francisco wins this one.
Dallas (2-1) at Denver (3-0)
Dallas has looked awful so far. Yes, I know, they are 2-1. But they haven’t showed in those wins that they are a good team. They are also banged up at running back right now, with injuries to Marion Barber and Felix Jones. Denver, meanwhile, has looked solid. True, they did get to play Cleveland and Oakland, both extremely weak opponents. But I don’t feel confident in picking Dallas at all right now. I’ll go with Denver.
San Diego (2-1) at Pittsburgh (1-2)
Pittsburgh has really stumbled out of the gate since beating the Titans in overtime in week 1. Think they miss Troy Polamalu? Still, I have faith in them putting everything back together. They get to go back to the comforts of Heinz Field this week after losing two straight on the road. Look for Ben Roethlisberger to live up to his reputation as a team leader and put the Steelers back on track.
Green Bay (2-1) at Minnesota (3-0)
Green Bay is the toughest team Minnesota has faced yet. Favre will be juiced to play his old team. It’s really all he’s wanted to do since he retired the first time. Don’t think Green Bay wouldn’t like to shut him up though and make a stand for Aaron Rodgers. It’ll be a battle, but as long as Rodgers lets his team do the talking and doesn’t try to out –throw Favre, I believe Green Bay will be victorious.
Byes: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Arizona, Carolina