Ravens @ Steelers
Put the kids to bed before this one (although, they might argue with you seeing as it would be actually fairly early, particularly in the States, in Ireland you might get away with it, but, as Homer says, and I don’t mean the Greek philosopher, I digest!) it might get ugly in a hurry. Two hard hitting, penalty prone teams going head to head. A tough talking and tough playing rivalry for the ages. The Steelers have really put an emphasis on ‘D’ this season, and their ‘O’ has, for long stretches, struggled to score points. The Ravens made a tricky trip to Arrowhead look easy last week. The Steelers are understandably the home favourite, however the Ravens have a comparable (note, comparable, not equal) defence, and a superior offence with more weapons. Sneaky feeling they waltz into Heinz Field and come out smiling the other end
The Pick: The Ravens 27-24
Packers @ Falcons
Now that’s what you call Saturday night entertainment. What a potentially fantastic game. Here’s the thing, doesn’t it seem every season the Packers play great, entertaining football, beat a few people up and then lose an absolutely fantastic shoot-out against someone? You hate to ‘hex’ a game, but we should expect fireworks here. Matty ‘Ice’, given a minute to work with, drives the Falcons into game winning field goal range, after a barn-stormer of a showdown.
The Pick: The Falcons 38-36
Seahawks @ Bears
Last weekends shocking upset by the Seahawks over the former champion Saints was an incredibly generous gift, beautifully wrapped, for the Chicago Bears. Instead of facing Green Bay they now get to face one of the worst road teams in the NFL. The Seahawks played with great passion and pride in front of their home fans and truly deserved that win last weekend, but this Sunday evening reality will hit home. Reality in the form of that swarming Bears ‘D’ will hit home hard. It is hard to see how the ‘Hawks will move the ball with any regularity against the creative and aggressive Bears blitz packages, and they will certainly not be taking Lovie Smith and his crew by surprise, after unseating the champion Saints. Meanwhile, the last couple of months Jay Cutler, Matt Forte and the rest of the Bears offence look like they have really bought into offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s schemes. The Bears are scoring freely and Cutler looks really comfortable. Hard to see anything but a big Bears win.
The Pick: The Bears 35-17
Jets @ Patriots
Couple of things came to mind this week, as the Jets, and everyone associated with them, ran their mouths all week long. Remember the Steelers had a verbal ‘pop’ at the Patriots in ’07, and Brady and Moss pulled off that humiliating trick play, where Brady threw a backwards pass to the sideline to Moss, who threw a backwards pass back, after which Brady uncorked a 60 yard beauty for a completely demoralizing touchdown? Remember that? Should be interesting to see what Belichick and Co come up with against Cromartie. Bear in mind Cromartie was absolutely torched by Manning and the Colts. All credit to the lad for his nice kick return close to the end, but before that we should all remember he was absolutely abused by Manning and his gang.