NFL Week 7 Picks!

I had made the bold proclamation that my early season struggles were due, in large part, to the replacement referees and not my murky crystal ball. After going 6-8 last week, I am starting to wonder…
One thing is certain regardless of whether or not the officiating was on point or not; there is a distinct sense of parity this season that has been missing from most pro sports leagues. Despite my bad weeks, I’m going at the same clip as most other Yahoo! Users (which is 52-39). For the first time in years, I don’t have a clue who’ll be in the Super bowl.
And I’m not worried about it right now. Right now, I’m focused on navigating this brave new NFL.
Read on.
Seahawks at Niners
Both of these teams were involved in late game stunners albeit in significantly different ways. The Seattle defense (and their 12thman) gave Brady and the Patriots fits all day, Russell Wilson had a career defining moment and the Seahawks validated their fast start. The 49ers were supposed to be the best team in the NFL this year, the team that could not be beat and instead they were touched up at home by the defending champs in a game they were expected to exact their vengeance. Now these two divisional rivals tangle in primetime and we’re in for a low scoring, defensive clinic treat. Is it Halloween yet? Scary linebackers are going to be running amuck all night long. The Seahawks are built much like the Niners with Marshawn Lynch the engine of an offense that is provided opportunities by their killer defense. But can they beat the incumbent on the road? Coming off a beatdown, I expect the Niners to bounce back with Harbaugh’s fire very visible on both sides of the ball and win at home.
Ravens at Texans
Like the Seahawks/Niners tilt, this matchup’s going to be reduced to a defensive struggle. How much will the loss of Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis affect the defense? Nevermind what Ray’s non-football influence offers the Ravens, his on-field presence makes all the difference in the run game. A run game, mind you, that Arian Foster and the Texans can’t wait to get back on track in a big way. Coming off a disastrous showing at home in primetime, the Texans will be looking to establish the run and take advantage of Baltimore’s dinged up secondary. It’ll be interesting to see how Baltimore exploits Brian Cushing’s absence and whether or not that really was the difference for the Texans against Green Bay last week.  Baltimore is notorious for being tough to beat in the face of adversity and the odds and might be in the perfect position to win on the road with a Texans team that might be feeling human for the first time this year. Not in my estimation, though.
Packers at Rams
This has trap game tattooed across its face. The Rams have a tough defense, have been very well coached and are getting just enough production offensively to overachieve and get to .500 in a very tough division. Will it be adequate at home against a Packer team coming off an explosive offensive performance? My guess is not. While Packer fans I know are all concerned about it, I’m not. The Pack should continue the momentum and win on the road.
Titans at Bills
I hate to admit it but I really did flip a coin on this one. On one hand, the Titans look a bit better managed with Hasselbeck under center and CJ2k is due for another big game which is not a stretch against this awful Bills defense. On the other hand, the Bills have explosive potential on offense especially with  both Spiller and Jackson available and involved. Fitzpatrick is much better under center when they are. Awful when they’re not. This will be a barn burner much like the Titans/Lions tilt was. My coin flip went with the home team and I’m sticking to that story.
Browns at Colts
I’m happy for the Browns getting their first win of the season (and having called it! Hehe) but there’ll be a letdown this week when they travel to Indy. The two areas where the Browns can give the Colts trouble especially on the road is in their run game (Indy is awful against the run, just look at what Shonn Greene did to them last week) and in their secondary where they can limit Andrew Luck’s effectiveness in the air. It just won’t be that much of a limitation. I think in the end, Luck will find a way to take this winnable game at home. The Browns won one at home; I just don’t trust them on the road just yet.
Saints at Buccaneers
The Saints finally got their first notch in the win column but it does not get them out of the woods. They still only outscored a team in the Chargers that we now know is not as good as advertised (at least defensively) and otherwise have been unable to stop ANYONE to help Brees out. The Bucs have been surprisingly solid this year after stinking up the joint last season, having a nice running game from rookie Doug Martin and a much improved passing game from Josh Freeman and his new weapons. Their defense plays tougher at home than on the road… and they always play the Saints tough. I know a lot of folks will disagree with me but I think the Bucs are going to bring the Saints back down to Earth. Brees was having a special night when they got their first win of the season; coach Payton was in the house, the cameras were all on Brees as he broke the record and the Chargers expectedly choked away the game. The Saints’ problems (many of which surround their defense and lack of middle linebacker presence and passrush) will not have gone away in a week. The Bucs will not provide the Saints with those comforting circumstances.
Cowboys at Panthers
Upset alert. Most folks are taking the Cowboys in this one and with good reason. They barely lost to the Ravens (they shot themselves in the foot is more like it) and have had the potential of being a contender this season (like so many before it) and can turn it around at any moment. However, here are a couple things to consider: with Murray out, an already ineffective running game (due to an offensive offensive line) will be even more so with the grossly underachieving Felix Jones taking over. Romo is volatile when forced to throw and the Panthers, for all their defensive issues, can pick people off in bunches. Consider also that Cam Newton had an absolutely awful outing his last time out when Seattle’s elite defensive front made life miserable for a team that is predicated on running the ball from both the half back and quarterback position. After an extra week to prepare for the Cowboys and with a concerted effort to right the ship on what has so far been a disastrous sophomore effort, I expect Cam to have a monster day. At home.
Cardinals at Vikings
A few weeks ago, we were talking about the surprising Arizona Cardinals. They were winning with stifling, aggressive front seven defense and just enough offense. Then that offense became less than enough and just got even more so when Kevin Kolb was added to the laundry list of injured players that has already claimed Arizona’s entire running game, it seems. This is no good against the Vikes who, despite coming down to earth last week in D.C., will bounce back at home to stifle an already stifled offense. Ponder was uncharacteristically mistake prone en route to an ineffective day for the offense. Expect a bounce back effort by the whole squad and multiple sacks for Jared Allen on Skelton behind that nonexistent Arizona offensive line.
Redskins at Giants
What to make of the Giants? They have played exactly as you would expect of them. They’ve lost both divisional games this year. Beaten everyone else. Struggled with Cleveland and Tampa at home… but smashed the Niners in San Francisco. Maybe trends mean nothing to Eli Manning (and as a result to us armchair football analysts) but everything points to a loss at home for the G men. RGIII seems like he can run against just anyone (as long as he slides and keeps his head from getting rung) and Pierre-Paul can dish all the warning he’d like but RGIII and Alfred Morris will kill the Giants on the ground, an area of weakness for them. Then again, they didn’t seem too phased by San Francisco’s run game a week ago. At any rate, they’re the favorites in this game and as a result are most likely going to lose. I’m counting on the Redskins’ rushing attack to set the tone early and often.
Jets at Patriots
The dynamic here is so simple, it jumps off the screen like a mike blitz. The Jets ran shod on Indy’s awful run defense and it set the tone for them to win. The Patriots lost a very tough game against one of the best defenses in the league that not only shut down their run game but gave Brady nowhere to pass the ball on most downs. This is a bad situation for the Jets to be in coming off their win, lined up behind the cue ball with Belichick staring them down. These bad beans will eventually spell doom for them in Foxborough. I don’t envy Sanchez this weekend.
Jaguars at Raiders
When I picked against the Raiders last week, they nearly pulled off the monumental upset of the Falcons in Atlanta, picking off Matty Ice three times in the first half after not having picked anyone off all season! So by that logic, I ought to pick against them every week, no? No. The Jaguars are probably the only team where it might be safe (emphasis on the might) to say the Raiders are a lock to win. The Raiders haven’t been nearly as bad as their record or their blowouts have indicated. They’ve lead or been tied or trailed by a few points at halftime in every game this year before blowing it in the 3rd quarter. The Jags have been even worse coming out of halftime and the Raider running game behind McFadden should get the job done in closing this one out. It’s possible that the Raider defense is turning the corner finally in getting pressure on the QB as evidenced by their impressive performance on the road last week against Atlanta’s explosive offense. The Jags defense isn’t much of a test for the Raider offense even if it does go off but it’ll be an opportunity to gauge them anyway. Then there’s the possibility the Raiders blow it anyway.
Steelers at Bengals
The Steelers are having a very pedestrian year. Their defense is not nearly as good as they’ve been in past years and their running game is dinged up and ineffective. This has drastically altered the team’s identity, turning it into a passing offense that looks to outscore their opponents rather than grind it out. Lucky for them they draw a date with the Bengals who are looking very streaky at this point… they win three straight and look like they’ve turned the corner, then lose back to back games to Miami at home and the previously winless Browns in Cleveland. Which Bengals team shows up? The Steelers hope the recent trend continues. However, I’m convinced that playing at home against division rival and previously anointed monkey-on-the-back Steelers, the Bengals come out strong running the ball well and Dalton making smart, big throws.
Lions at Bears
You never know with these Monday Night NFC North games but how can you bet against the Bears at this point? They were embarrassed in a similar spot earlier this season by the Packers but that was in Green Bay and that was, well, the Packers. The Lions come in being one of the bigger underachievers this season (although they beat a very uninspiring Eagles team in dramatic fashion) due largely to not having an effective running game, porous defense and not many receiving weapons outside of Megatron (and sometimes Burleson) for frustrated stud QB Matthew Stafford. The Bears feast on QBs with limited options and no running game to back them up. On the other side of the ball, I just can’t figure out who the Lions will use to stop Brandon Marshall. And if Matt Forte is on point, this game is a wrap. Which I think it will be.
Da Bears
Dig it.

NFL Week 6 Picks!

So…  when I suggested that I thought the replacement refs were inadvertently doing a number on picks across the prognostosphere, I was met with incredulity. “Maybe you just suck, weed” was what I was told.

But the numbers don’t lie. I went 25-23 before the lockout ended (for all intents and purpose, a .500 clip that means a penny could have done a better job)… and after going 11-3 last week, 21-8 since.

No, it’s not a coincidence.

Steelers at Titans
The Titans might be the worst team in football except the Jags still play in Jacksonville (for now). Their defense is horrendous and CJ2K is MIA meaning it doesn’t matter who suits up under center for the Titans,  a one dimensional passing attack with that stable of receivers is going to get smoked by a defense like Pittsburgh’s even if Troy still can’t go. With Mendenhall back in the mix and looking good, the Steelers have regained the balance in their offense that had been missing.
Rams at Dolphins
I seriously did try to ignore the Dolphins after the number they dropped on the Raiders in Week 2 attributing their explosive win to taking advantage of a shitty Raider team. Except that since then, they lost a couple games by a single field goal each time (while Carpenter was missing ‘em left and right, mind you) and won another on the road in Cincinnati. Tannehill looks better than I expected, Bush really is running the ball like more than a gimmicky change of pace and Hartline might just be a serviceable #1 (did I just say that?)… I like the Rams and their tough defense and how they grittily edged out the Cards but on the road against this Dolphins team, they won’t get too far with that offensive production.
Cowboys at Ravens
I guess you never know and any given Sunday and blah blah but there’s nothing here to indicate that the Cowboys are going to straighten out their issues in the run blocking and pass protection to help Romo not make half a dozen mistakes per game in time or effectively enough to survive the Baltimore defense. The Ravens are a mystery themselves; after showing signs of their offense waking up this season after years of being Ray’s sidekick, they win a weird one against KC 6-3. The Cowboys have a decent D but I’m not sure it’ll be enough to stop the Ravens from bouncing back at home and putting up some big points.
Lions at Eagles
The Eagles have been in a lot of very close games this year and their loss to the Steelers by less than a field goal has to sting given how absolutely awful Vick was, again, at protecting the football. His job security is certainly in question but not in the immediate future and I expect the Eagles to atone for their abysmal loss last week by handling the Lions at home this week. The Lions have regressed big time this year. Given the expectations, I think moreso than any other team in the league. Their total lack of everything outside of Stafford-to-Megatron is nauseating to watch. Even though they are atrocious against the spread this year (and even last year), I’m still going with the
Bengals at Browns
It’s hard to figure out these Bengals, that much is certain. When they’re good, they’re good and when they’re bad, they’re bad. The Browns played them very tough in Cincinnati as Weeden had the best game of his young career in almost upsetting the Bengals on the road. Didn’t work out that way but after how stifled the Cincy offense was against Miami, I’m a little hesitant to look for a repeat. The Browns looked solid for stretches of their tilt with the defending champion Giants before Eli went bezerk and threw three TD passes to Victor Cruz in, what, five minutes or something? I am starting to like this young offense the Brownies have going with Weeden, Richardson and their young receiving corps. Cleveland gets its first win of the season.
Colts at Jets
The possible let down for the Colts after such an emotional win over the Pack with what’s going on with Coach Pagano is very real… especially considering they have a rookie QB. That said, Andrew Luck may not be an ordinary rookie and if he continues to distribute the ball the way he has (and if Reggie Wayne continues to have a career year), there’s nothing that the Jets can do to stop it with their overrated defense and punchless offense. I don’t hide my disdain for the Jets and the circus going on over there in New York.
Chiefs at Bucs
The Chiefs looked a little more resilient this past weekend against the Ravens in losing only by a field goal instead of the demolition many had anticipated. Cassel is knocked out and Quinn is going under center this week on the road. Even with Jamaal Charles studding it out for them, the Chiefs are going to be pressed to beat a solid Bucs team coming off a bye at home.
Raiders at Falcons
Why even bother. Funny trend: they win when I pick against them. So
Patriots at Seahawks
This could be a nasty situation for the Pats having to travel West to tangle with a tough defense in one of the toughest places to play in the league. The line is aptly sitting (currently) at 3 ½ and if the Pats are going to win they’re not going to do it by too many scores. I still think they’re too strong for the Seahawks and their hit or miss offense (Marshawn Lynch excluded).
Bills at Cardinals
The Bills probably have the worst defense in the league and that’s after they spent a boatload of cash on defensive upgrades. They’ve been shredded by everybody with two working arms while their own QB has routinely thrown it to the other team (more often than he’s thrown to his own).  That isn’t going to change on the road against a Cardinals team that just lost their first game of the season and have had a week and a half to prepare for the Bills. As long as they keep Kolb upright, this could be a blowout. Even if not, they’re probably still going to win. The real question now for the Cards is how effectively they will run the football with so many injuries in their backfield. Still, this doesn’t look good for Buffalo.
Giants at Niners
One of the games of the week if not it. These two franchises historically don’t like each other much as they almost always run into each other when games matter most and after the Giants rolled into San Fran and basically stole the NFC Championship from under their noses, you can expect the Niners to come out with a bit more oomph than they normally would. The line is sliding towards the Giants right now and they are pretty awesome on the road against the spread but the Niners are undefeated at home against it since Harbaugh took over. I’ve learned never to count Eli out or readily bet against him but the Niners have also just wiped the turf with the last two teams they’ve met to the combine tune of 79-3… sooo…
Vikings at Redskins
The Redskins are in trouble and it’s most unfortunate. What looked like such a promising season after drafting RG3 and looking solid in the preseason (was there really talk about them challenging for the NFC East???), they have been ravaged by injuries to key players the latest of which being a concussion to their prize signal caller. Even if he is able to play, he’ll be doing it with a little cobweb action going on regardless. The Vikings, on the other hand, have been one of the many surprises in the NFC. They are very tough on defense, play smart conservative football on offense and Ponder is getting a very favorable matchup against Washington’s weaksauce secondary. I can’t believe that the Vikes might be on the verge of going 5-1
Packers at Texans
The nightmare continues for the Pack. What was supposed to be a bounce back season for the Packers has turned into an utter mess. They’re under .500 in the early going, chasing two 4-1 teams, were robbed on national television of what would be a 3-2 record and just lost their offseason prize RB, Cedric Benson for likely the year (just ask the Raiders how that 6-8 week Lisfranc prognosis worked out for them).  They can certainly bounce back and all that jazz but trying to get that process started against the Texans who have not shown any weaknesses thus far is no easy task. The Texans can run the ball against anyone and against a soft run D at home, that shouldn’t be an issue. JJ Watt is going to be chasing Rodgers all day behind that swiss line of his. This doesn’t look good for the Pack.
Broncos at Chargers
With the way the Chiefs and Raiders are stinking up the joint right now, this is a fight for the top of the division. Right now, the Chargers are in the driver’s seat even in spite of their second loss of the season. But not by much. Peyton Manning is really special in primetime football and with a chance to put his team into first (it’ll be a tie in terms of straight up record) in the opponent’s house, I wouldn’t dare bet against him. I hate both of these franchises but this is our division and I’ll be watching with a very close eye.

NFL Week 5 Picks!

After an improved 10-5 record last week (still unacceptable), I feel I’m moving in the right direction.
At 35-28

Here we go…

Cardinals @ Rams
Straight to the point, I don’t think the Cards can go 5-0. They are due for a loss, are playing a division rival that always plays them tough and who are fairly underrated themselves, and are on the road. This adds up to what ought to be an upset in St. Lou. The Cards have been getting it done with elite pass rush, one of the best secondaries in all of football and just enough offense to get by. The Rams should be able to get in just enough offense to get the job done. I’m goin with the..


Browns @ Giants
The Giants at home are just too good at finding ways to win for the Browns to be able to come in and steal one. Especially if Trent Richardson is a bit dinged up. The Browns will continue to slide.
Eagles @ Steelers
The Eagles have won three games by less than 2 points and face a Steeler team that gets their defensive studs Polamalu and Harrison back…. In Pitts. And I hear Vick is a dogowner again. That doesn’t bode well for the Iggles.
Packers @ Colts
You never overlook an opponent but after the airshow that the Pack and Saints put on last week, it’s hard to imagine A-Rod with a poor follow up effort against a young, rebuilding team.
Falcons @ Redskins
This one took me some time to decide on mostly because it does seem that RG3 finds a way to win in the sort of way that makes it almost impossible to predict the outcome of any game involving him. Like that Bucs game. The Falcons are the hottest team in the NFC right now, though and might be a little too much for an RG3 heroic.
Dolphins @ Bengals
The Bengals have been a nice surprise this year although Andy Dalton and AJ Green were no secret coming into the season.  The Dolphins got lucky with an awful Raider team and will sadly be on the losing end of this one as well.
Ravens @ Chiefs
The Ravens look to continue to roll against a Chiefs team that has given up the second most points this season already. Romeo Crennel’s improved defense hasn’t turned the corner yet and the Ravens offense has.
Seahawks @ Panthers
The Seahawks had a difficult loss last week on the road against a team in the Rams that struggled to move the ball against them. The Panthers are getting healthy and Cam is a bigger threat under center than Bradford was. Panthers bounce back from a couple of rough losses and take this one at home.
Bears @ Jags
The worst possible matchup for a mistake prone team is to face the mistake grubbing Bears. Couple that with the Bears’ revitalized passing attack going against one of the softest secondaries in football and you have yourself a recipe for a buttwoopin.
Da Bears
Broncos @ Patriots
Yay, Peyton and Tom rivalry rematch reunion! And not a particularly fair one as the Patriots are probably going to stomp all over the overrated Bronco defense so bad that Peyton won’t be able to bring them back by himself… which he’d have to as there really isn’t anyone else on this team that is that caliber a player on either side of the ball for Denver. Too much firepower for the Pats in this one, at home and starting to get rolling.
Bills @ Niners
The slide will continue for the Buffalo Bills. They got smoked last weekend in the 2nd half by a Patriots team that flipped the switch. The Niners blanked the Jets and stifled them in every facet of the game. Expect Fitzpatrick’s mistake-prone ways to be made a mess of by the Niner defense at home.
Titans @ Vikings
The Titans are the worst defense in the world right now, their only win coming at home against a team that gave up 44 points to them … to overcome the 41 they gave up! The Vikings have been playing a mistake-free, hardnosed, run the football, play solid defense sort of operation this year and will continue the trend at home against a Titans.
Chargers @ Saints
Well, the Saints get another shot at breaking the seal and winning their first game of the season. Coach Payton will be at the game watching, they’ll be at home and I expect Brees to go nuts. They can be scored on at ease and I don’t expect the Chargers to be far behind but the Saints should have enough moxie to get their first win.
Texans @ Jets
The Jets are headed in the wrong direction. I saw this coming from last offseason. The Texans pose the same threat as the Niners did last week except with a better run game, better passing game and the confidence of an undefeated team. Defensive injuries, questions at QB and an ineffective running game will spell doom for New York.

Dig it !