Archive for September, 2011

I Make the Call — Week 3 Edition

First of all, sorry there was no Week 2 picks posted. They almost didn’t get posted. I don’t know if that’s why I went 12-4 or not; my results this week will show whether or not I should bother posting again in the future.

After two weeks of games, certain things are becoming very clear about this season. Tom Brady and the Hoodie don’t care about no stinkin’ lockout. Indianapolis is so bad the NFL might revoke their rights to host the Super Bowl in February. The Green Bay Packers are who we thought they were. Buffalo may actually have professional football again.

Now that I’ve given some insight into my thinking, here are my Week 3 picks.

New England vs. Buffalo: Tom Brady has had the precision of a surgeon picking apart the Dolphins and Chargers defenses. The Pats have only beaten Buffalo 15 consecutive times and I can find no reason, even the Bills’ marked improvement this season, to doubt they will make it 16. It will be a closer game than many of those past contests have been. Pats win a shoot out 34-28. Confidence: 9

San Francisco vs. Cincinnati: So far it appears the question being asked in Cincinnati is “Carson who?” Andy Dalton performed really well after a not-so-welcome welcome to the NFL in his first start against Cleveland. For a team not used to recent on-field success, 1-1 is a great place to be. Dalton even has a star receiver in the making hooking up early and often with fellow rookie AJ Green.  SF’s D let them down late last week against Dallas. Me thinks Jim Harbaugh will have them ready to go come Sunday. Still I will take Cinci at home 21-14. Confidence: 7

Miami vs. Cleveland: Miami’s season started with promise—they were able to keep pace for half their first game against New England. Beyond that nothing else is going right for Miami. Henne played almost well enough to get benched last week and the defense is allowing opponents to do whatever they want when they want. Ownership is making things really warm for Tony Sparano to start producing on the field and soon. In the meantime, Cleveland should be 2-0, but couldn’t hold the lead late against their cross-state rival Bengals. They did come back and play well last week. Then again that game was against the Manning-less Colts so that game was almost unfair. Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis have a field day at home. Cleveland 26-18. Confidence: 5

Denver vs. Tennessee: Both teams come into this game after their first wins of the season. For Tennessee it was an impressive doubling up of Baltimore, the team that a week earlier had embarrassed the reigning AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. For Denver, it was a game of attrition where they had to fight and claw their way using 2nd and 3rd stringers in a number of places and turned at one point to Tim Tebow to play the slot receiver position. Chris Johnson who held out of “training camp” waiting for the armored car to pull up and unload on his driveway is not playing like the $56 million man the Titans made him last month. They won by way of Matt Hasselbeck’s arm. Denver is getting back a number of their walking wounded including leading receiver Brandon Lloyd. Denver wins this game 23-20. Confidence: 6

Detroit vs. Minnesota: I really, really hope Donovan McNabb has updated his will recently. Ndamukong Suh and friends are in town and they’ve been rolling this season. So has Matt Stafford offensively. Conversely, McNabb’s play has been offensive. Week 1 had him throwing for 39 yards. If his name were  anything other than Donovan McNabb, he’d have been cut and left in the visitor’s locker room in San Diego. He has thrown for 267 yards this season. There are QBs who’ve done that in a half this season. Even with Adrian Peterson playing, I can’t pick them to win. The Lions are clicking on all cylinders while the Vikings can’t seem to get the car started. Detroit 27-16. Confidence: 4

Houston vs. New Orleans: The Superdome is this spring’s host of the NCAA Men’s Final Four. This game should give the scoreboard operator plenty of practice for that weekend. Yes, New Orleans held Chicago to 13 points at Soldier Field last week, but at the same time, Drew Brees threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He also has yet to throw a pick this season. We all know in Houston it’s Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson. They also have, if healthy, last season’s leading rusher in Arian Foster. His backup, Ben Tate has handled the role very well so far. Houston also has Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. While they are leading the league in yards and points allowed through two weeks, I don’t think that will continue. Both teams protect their QBs well, both can run the ball well which will open up the field. New Orleans wins 41-35. Confidence: 13

NY Giants vs. Philadelphia: The most important brain in America isn’t in a lab somewhere working on a cure for cancer or in New York solving the world’s economic problems this week. It’s on a football field in Philadelphia and it belongs to one Mike Vick. He has been cleared to play and that’s advantage Eagles. His presence on a football field changes how defensive coordinators must game plan. The Giants are depleted on the defensive side of the ball after a number of key pre-season injuries. Last week, they lost one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets in Domenik Hixon, whose season is done after tearing his ACL. Meanwhile, Vick has all his toys at his disposal and torched the same D for 500 yards passing last season. That’s before you figure in that he can also run. Philly wins their home opener and won’t need a punt return for a touchdown as the clock ticks away, either, 30-20. Confidence: 2

Jacksonville vs. Carolina: This one will be brief. The Jaguars (more like the Puddy Tats) just benched Luke McCown after he had a passer rating last week of 1.8. That is not a typo—1.8. This includes four interceptions against a pretty damn good defense in the Jets. They throw out wet-behind-the-ears rookie Blaine Gabbert. This isn’t to say that he won’t do better than McCown (is that even possible to do worse?), but he is facing a much improved Carolina Panthers team and their QB Cam Newton who is lighting up scoreboards and re-writing the rookie QB record books. While his on-field success hasn’t shown up in the W column yet, they are close. They lost by a touchdown to Arizona, a team with a recent trip to the Super Bowl. They also lost by a touchdown against the reigning Super Bowl champs; this game had Carolina up 10-0 before Aaron Rodgers even saw the field. This is the week those learning experiences pay off. Carolina cashes in big 31-7.

NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders:  The Raiders are coming off a game in Buffalo where they had their hearts ripped out and stomped on in the final seconds. Of course their own defensive shortcomings were half responsible for the Bills scoring on all five of their 2nd half possessions. Darren McFadden is having a great start to his season and Jason Campbell has shown that he’s the right guy to play QB in the system owner and crypt keeper Al Davis demands of his team. The Jets, on the other hand, are having issues running the ball, something that came easy the last time these teams played. They did, however, crush the struggling Jaguars last week 32-3. Upcoming on their schedule are two more road games in Baltimore and New England so this game is an almost must win. Their defense that has allowed one 100 yard rusher in the last 25 games must remain solid to set them up in good field position to win. I just think that McFadden is having too good a start to this season and won’t be stopped easily. Raiders pull the upset 17-14. Confidence: 3

Baltimore vs. St Louis: You have to start wondering if someone within the Rams organization pissed off NFL scheduling looking at what they’ve had to face the first two weeks and now in Week 3. In order they’ve had to face Philly, the Giants, and now Baltimore, three of the best defenses in the league.  Sam Bradford has thrown one touchdown and been sacked six times in two weeks. This team was a game from the playoffs last season and right now is looking nothing like that team. They are allowing a league worst 177 yards rushing per game and face a team that is well-known for its ground game. Ray Rice hasn’t had a real break out game yet. I expect him to get the ball early and often. I also expect Bradford on his back early and often. Baltimore wins 20-10. Confidence: 10

Kansas City vs. San Diego: Matt Cassel probably wishes he was back in New England backing up Tom Brady about now. One touchdown, four picks, and four sacks in two games is not exactly what was expected when he signed with the Chiefs. It won’t get any easier facing a San Diego team embarrassed by said New England QB a week ago. Philip Rivers has too big an ego not to go out on Sunday and want to take it out on someone. Rivers may even join the 400 yard club this week for no other reason than pure cockiness. SD easy 38-7. Confidence: 15

Green Bay vs. Chicago: It seems every time you turn around, these teams are playing one another. Last time, it was for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Jay Cutler has come out and questioned his offensive line’s toughness. Seeing as he’s spent more time on his back than the town bicycle this season, it’s a valid question to ask. This week, he’s likely to get to know Clay Matthews up close and personal. The Saints showed the rest of the NFL that applying continued pressure at Cutler is the way to win and the reigning champs are sure to have noticed and have the right pieces to make it happen. Just like the NFC Championship game, Pack rule and Cutler drools 24-13. Confidence: 12

Arizona vs. Seattle: Pete Carroll must pinch himself constantly trying to wake himself up given how bad his team is a season after a division title. They went and got Tavaris Jackson from the Vikings. Uhhh, wasn’t he benched for the Zombie Formerly Known as Brett Favre last season? He’s thrown two touchdowns and been sacked 10 times. Meanwhile, Kevin Kolb has begun to mesh with RB Beanie Wells and WR Larry Fitzgerald. The Cards haven’t put it all together yet, but are far closer to a finished product than whatever it is Carroll is trying to do in Seattle. Arizona wins 23-15. Confidence: 14

Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay: Atlanta is riding high after it’s come from behind win against the, albeit, Vick-less Eagles in the 4th quarter last week. Matty Ice lived up to the nickname guiding the offense down the field on scoring drives of 84 and 77 yards. Not having to face Vick defensively was an added bonus, but overcoming a 10 point 4th quarter deficit is still overcoming a 10 point 4th quarter deficit. This week, they face another team that overcame a large deficit to win in Tampa who came back from down 17-0 to win 24-20 at Minnesota and began looking like the team that went 10-6 a season ago. I believe that Atlanta has too much firepower. Atlanta wins a high scoring game 31-22. Confidence: 8

Pittsburgh vs. Indianapolis: Without an act of god in the next 48 hours, this very well may be the laugher of the weekend. After Baltimore ran roughshod through them, the Steelers came back last week to return the favor to Seattle. Ben Roethlisberger will not have to do much in the way of heavy lifting, but will definitely be able to add to his numbers. Don’t be surprised if the Colts turn from Kerry Collins to Curtis Painter if for no other reason than to try something different. Steelers BIG 38-3. Confidence: 16

Washington vs. Dallas: Will he play? Will he sit? How does one recover from a punctured lung in four days? Who else plays? Who’s out for the Cowboys? Are the 2-0 Redskins for real? It can only mean one thing—Monday Night Football at Jerryworld. In their two wins so far, the Skins have had the luxury of playing in front of people who actually like them. This week, they don’t get that benefit playing in the coziness of Cowboy Stadium. In those two games, they played an injury-plagued Giants team in Week 1 and squeaked by an improving Cards team last week. I believe Romo plays and I believe he plays well, continuing what he started when he returned to that game last week in San Francisco. Low scoring, defensive game with Dallas on top 20-17. Confidence: 1

Feel free to laugh at me if I am completely wrong, but I doubt I will be.

 

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I Make the Call–Week 1

Are you ready for some football? Are you ready for some fantasy football? After watching lawyers and other assorted blowhards on both sides try to steal the game we all love this last summer, it’s time to play real football. More than enough ink has been spent writing about them. Thankfully they can go crawl back into the cesspools they came from for the next decade. On with the show!

So, while the guys on the field prepare to beat the hell out of each other, starting with the last two Super Bowl champions meeting in Green Bay Thursday night and stretching through a double-header for Monday Night Football , I have sat and thought hard about who was going to win this weekend. Some of them just jumped out at me as no brainers. Others required more thought than that. The last few were gut shot picks. It’s a little more scientific than taping the games to a wall and throwing darts. So, without further ado, I present my Week 1 selections. Please don’t laugh too hard.

So, my fantasy football league is a pick’em confidence game. One (1) is the game I had the hardest time picking and 16 represents the gimme game of the week in my opinion. Home team is in CAPS.

GREEN BAY vs. New Orleans:  This game represents a matchup of the last two teams to take home the Lombardi Trophy. It also has two teams that can light up the scoreboard like a pinball machine. Aaron Rodgers, the up and coming super star who finally stepped out of the shadows of Brett Favre against Drew Brees, the man who resurrected the Saints after Hurricane Katrina and brought a Championship to a city desperate for anything to cheer about. Scoring points isn’t going to be an issue. This game will come down to defense vs. defense. In the end, I went with the hometown Cheese heads. These two will likely see each other again in the Playoffs. That game could be a different result, but I saw what the D did to people last year. Pack 28, Saints 17. Confidence: 10

Atlanta vs. CHICAGO: Matty Ice returns to the field with his cadre of weapons to throw or hand the ball off to. He received a new toy in this draft, and though had a much shorter off-season, seems to have connected well with Julio Jones formerly of Alabama. As if opponents didn’t have enough problems keeping up with their receivers last season. They face an aging, decrepit, and disgruntled Bears defense that I’m not quite sure is even the third best in the division. Lance Briggs wants to get paid like he was part of the ’85 Bears D or get traded and the other cornerstone, Brian Urlacher is about as fragile as a Faberge egg. Oh, did I mention the Bears still have Jay Cutler as their QB. Remember him? He quit on them at the end of last season. Yeah, him. Atlanta easy 34-10. Confidence: 6

CLEVELAND vs. Cinci: Can we just anoint this the “Toilet Bowl” and get it over with? These two teams, even in week one are probably playing for the 2nd and 3rd picks in the draft behind Buffalo. This is one of those games that I’m not even sure Sunday Ticket will bother to air. Cleveland has a couple pieces in McCoy, Hillis, and Cribbs (though with the new kickoff rules, his effectiveness in putting points on the board have pretty much been negated). The Bengals, who are a complete mess thanks to their inept, dumbass of an owner, have a QB that so wants out he’s willing to leave $11 million on the table. Lemme repeat that. Carson Palmer so wants to be traded, he’s willing to retire/hold out and leave $11 million unclaimed. Chad Ochocinco is gone. TO is gone. Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski get to battle it out for which one of them gets to get sacked most this season. There are still receivers in Cinci (they weren’t lucky enough to follow Ochocinco out-of-town), but without a competent QB, it’s gonna be rough. Cleveland 17-14. Confidence: 11

KANSAS CITY vs. Buffalo: May god have mercy on the Bills’ souls. Matt Cassel and company come back reloaded after a season where they won the AFC West. The Bills get to take on the best team running the football from last season with over 160 yards a game. Try and stop that and you get to deal with Dwayne Bowe. There’s not much in Buffalo to get excited about this season. It’s a no brainer. KC big 34-7. Confidence: 16

Philadelphia vs. ST LOUIS: I think this will be a fun, offense-filled game between Mike Vick and Sam Bradford. Vick has his receivers and his legs, and last year Bradford showed that he was going to be the next really good to great QB in the league nearly taking the Rams from last place to the playoffs as a rookie. He is the real deal and I expect tons of improvement under his new coordinator Josh McDaniels (great OC/QB developer, shitty head coach). It just won’t happen in week 1. Too many weapons and a great D in Philly. Eagles 27-17. Confidence: 14

Detroit vs. TAMPA BAY: Detroit’s D is gonna be fun to watch this year, especially when Nick Fairley gets back into action. Between he and Ndamukong Suh, good luck. Even without Fairley, keeping Suh off your QB was tough work and Tampa is gonna have issues keeping Josh Freeman upright. If he can, they have a good shot to win. Detroit 21-17. Confidence: 2

Tennessee vs. JACKSONVILLE: Jacksonville decided to cut their starting QB, David Garrard, just a few days from the start of the season. That’s gonna go over well. On that alone, and the veteran presence of Matt Hasselback at QB in Tennessee to help mentor Jake Locker, Tennessee wins and wins easily 24-6. Confidence: 5

Pittsburgh vs. BALTIMORE: This was the hardest pick of the week. These teams just love beating the hell out of each other. Joe Flacco has shown he is a great QB. The Baltimore D is still, well, the Baltimore D. Their sole mission—make the opposing QB think about retirement. Big Ben is back and feeling good. He got married, which means for once his off-season, lockout included, was quiet. Not the same for James Harrison. I don’t think he’ll be getting a Christmas card for Roger Goodell this year. At the same time, his issues last season with the league and his talk this off-season, I believe a BIG season is to come from him. By a hair from Polamalu, I am taking the Steelers 17-14. Confidence: 1

HOUSTON vs. Indianapolis: No Peyton Manning, no chance in hell the Colts are going to be very good this season. After the news of his third neck surgery, second since the NFL draft hit, this team will be lucky to win 6 games this season. That isn’t a knock of Kerry Collins. It’s more on the fact that the entire offensive system is built around Manning. Houston has always been loaded offensively and they bring in one of the best defensive coordinators in Wade Phillips. Collins will be able to do a few things, but not close to enough. Texans make an early statement that the division is now theirs and win 30-10. Confidence: 9

ARIZONA vs. Carolina: Cam Newton can play the QB position and will be a hell of a player in this league. It just will take some time. Newton does have the likes of Steve Smith around to throw the ball to, so it isn’t like they’re totally bare.  Arizona is a couple of seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance. Many of those pieces are still there and they may have finally found the right QB to lead them in Kevin Kolb. He is out from the shadows of Donovan McNabb and Mike Vick in Philly. He still has Larry Fitzgerald to throw to and he now has to start living up to that monster contract he signed. A little more experience and speed in AZ. Birds over Cats 24-14. Confidence: 8

SAN DIEGO vs. Minnesota: Philip Rivers vs. Donovan McNabb. Sounds pretty good right there. Then you look under the marquee. There are actual supporting actors in San Diego in the likes of Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson. Hopefully Rivers’ shoulder will survive throwing it 50 times a game without a running game. McNabb has his own cast including Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Bernard Berrian. McNabb is also looking to regain that form that took him to multiple NFC Championship games while in Philadelphia. He’ll get there, but I have to go with the team that’s been together forever, or so it seems to a guy living in Denver. Bolts 27-21. Confidence: 7

Seattle vs. SAN FRANCISCO: The best part of this game may be the renewal of a rivalry brought to the NFL from the Pac-10. No, not the players; the head coaches. Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh plain don’t like each other. It goes back to Harbaugh taking over at Stanford and not kowtowing to Carroll’s Trojans as had been the norm for the rest of the conference.  Instead, Harbaugh lead Stanford to victories in two of their three meetings. Neither team is really all that awesome. Alex Smith is still the QB in the Bay Area. I swear he’s got naked photos of someone in the 49ers hierarchy to still have a job. Seattle has Tavaris Jackson who never got a fair shake in Minneapolis, but now is the clear starter and has a familiar face to throw the ball to in Sidney Rice. He has a pretty good receiving core otherwise and a running game. He should fare well. Seattle wins 24-14. Confidence: 4

NY Giants vs. WASHINGTON:  The circus that was the Redskins last season has more than convinced me that it wasn’t the coach who made the QB when Mike Shanahan and John Elway won back-to-back Super Bowls here in Denver. He doesn’t have a starting QB. He made a disgrace of himself last year with his fight with Albert Haynesworth in the media. He is on the hot seat. His owner spends money like toilet paper. It’s time to do something with it. Every year we’re told that Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat. Every year he comes prepared to play. No difference this season. He’s still got Eli Manning and he’s still got that defense. Giants in a laugher 28-6. Confidence: 12

New England vs. MIAMI: Bill Belichick hates losing. He also hates being embarrassed when he does. This was the case in New England’s loss at Detroit in the pre-season. You can expect that he will be looking to take out the frustration on that loss on someone. Sadly for the Dolphins, they’re first up on the schedule. Miami has a QB no one likes, not the fans, not the GM apparently since he did everything but take the Bronco training facility hostage to get Kyle Orton. If Chad Henne can get the ball to Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush, they might make some games interesting. NE 31-7. Confidence: 15

DENVER vs. Oakland: The last time the Raiders came into Mile High Stadium (you can shove your corporate sponsorship), they bitch slapped the Broncos to the tune of 59-14. While there are new players in that locker room, the key players from that game for Denver are back. And don’t think they’ve forgotten. They quit and quit convincingly on Josh McDaniels last year. From all indications, they’ve taken very well to John Fox and John Elway is clearly putting his stamp all over this roster. They have shored up the poorest
defenses in the league from a year ago. The Tim Tebow debate has been dispensed with after the pre-season in which he played like he’d never played football before. The Raiders fired the most consistent coach they’ve had since John Gruden lead them to the Super Bowl almost a decade ago. Can Jason Campbell keep up the run he had last season and go undefeated in the division? He’s got the running game with McFadden and Heyward-Bay to pass to. If they buy into the new coach Hue Jackson’s game, they may be ok. They LOVED playing for Tom Cable. Going homer here. Broncos win 31-14. Confidence: 13

Wish me luck!

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