From the Bleachers - NFL predictions week 10
NFL Week 9 results 10-3
Season to date 83-47
What's the correct response if an angry Cleveland area sports fan berates you online? Last weeks column, where I foolishly picked the Patriots to beat the Brownies (who were at home and coming off a bye week) elicited an angry, bitter response from a person of just that ilk. The afore mentioned e-mailer of course neglected to mention that I had gone a very decent 10-3 in the other games, but, it's always going to be the bad pick that sticks out, I guess? Be that as it may, what is our responsibility towards angry Cleveland fans at time of writing? Should we go easy on them? They have, in fairness, lost CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Manny Ramirez, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Le Bron James, Bill Belichick and a host of others to various rivals over the last few years. That's it so, we will go easy on them through this tough time.
Meanwhile, if you find yourself at a loose end, go ahead and make your picks too, post them in the comments section, however be ready for the angry retort from the Cleveland folk if you pick against the Brownies!
Ravens @ Falcons
It isn't very scientific, but right now the only way to separate these two evenly matched teams is to take on board the fact Atlanta are at home, and Matt Ryan is unbeatable in Atlanta. By extension, Atlanta are pretty unbeatable in Atlanta. I understand the QB is obviously a disproportionately important position, but in a very 'team' sport why do pundits always say 'This QB or that QB is unbeatable at home or wherever'. How about Falcons Right Tackle, Tyson Clabo, is he unbeatable at home too? Or is it just Matt Ryan?
The pick: Falcons 24-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Jason Snelling to score a TD anytime (3/2)
Lions @ Bills
Guess who's back? That's right, Shaun Hill's back! Mathew Stafford's unfortunate injury means Shaun Hill and his 9 TDs passing are back. Detroit's steamrolling offence shouldn't miss a beat, therefore. Their defence is also quickly becoming the talk of the town. The Lions are the more progressive of these two teams, even given the fact they are on the road, a place they have struggled for a long time. The Lions against the spread, last eight games? 7-1. Just saying.
The pick: Lions 34-30
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Take the over and enjoy the shootout - 44 points (10/11)
Vikings @ Bears
The Vikings have had a pretty insipid season, considering some of the talent on their depth chart, and they have been particularly poor on the road, currently 0-4. A trip to Soldier Field should see them pegged back further to 0-5. Playing at home in front of their vociferous fans, the Bears should get enough of a pass rush to cause serious issues for any QB, let alone a 42 year old on a hobbled ankle. Also, Jay Cutler has had an up and down season, and is currently starting an 'up' streak. Also, the Vikings are a miserable 2-6 against the spread. Just saying.
The pick: Bears 21-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – The Bears -1, not often you get a decent home team, against a 42 year old QB on a team that's 2-6 against the spread at just -1 (10/11)
Jets @ Browns
Peyton Hillis better buckle up on Sunday, 'cause the cat is out of the bag now, and the Jets are going to be gunning for him. The Patriots loss last week in Cleveland felt a little like the crazy Miami 'Wildcat' loss of a few years ago, where Miami unveiled their college like offence and beat the Patriots with it. The Browns ran almost exclusively last week, and if they try that again this week, the Jets will be ready.
The pick: Jets 19-16
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Peyton Hills to score a touchdown any time (evs)
Bengals @ Colts
No need to dig too deep into this one. Do you know when the last time the Bengals beat the Colts was? November 9th, 1997. That’s right, the nineties! Peyton Manning is 6-0 against The Bungles and has 17 TDs and only 3 picks to his name, when playing them. Chad Ochocinco was seen squabbling on the sidelines with coach and QB and others, that will be fun to watch this week. The Bungles are pathetic.
The pick: Colts 34-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Tamme to score a TD any time (3/2)
Titans @ Dolphins
Did you know Tennessee are the highest scoring team in the NFL? (28 points a game on average) Did you know the Titans' Vince Young is the AFC's highest-rated passer at 103.1 and hasn't turned the ball over in his last five games? Meanwhile, Miami are changing their QB, cutting defensive backs and bringing in players ‘off the street’. Chad Pennington is a decent game managing veteran QB, however, I see his inclusion causing a big issue for the Fins. Henne was careless with the ball, and that has cost him his job, however Pennington’s arm would rate a 3/10 if Henne was graded a 7/10 (Henne has a good NFL arm). Pennington can not stretch the field like Henne, and the Titans will adjust to this, meaning less running room for Brown and Williams. Meanwhile the exact opposite will be happening when the Titans have the rock. Randy Moss coming in means Chris Johnson will see less 9-men-in-the-box looks. Room to roam for CJ equates to a Tennessee win.
The pick: Titans 28-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Randy Moss to score the first TD - lets face it, he has a flair for the dramatic. (7/1)
Panthers @ Buccaneers
Let's just say it's a great week to pick up the Buccaneers defence in fantasy football. Carolina, averaging 11 points a game (a game!) are absolutely putrid.
The pick: Buccaneers 24-13
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Josh Freeman to score a TD any time (4/1)
Texans @ Jaguars
Home team coming off a bye week alert! Home team coming off a bye week alert! Not only that, but the Jags, with David Garrard under center, are a legitimate playoff threat. Houston? They are what we thought they were. Not great. They appear to lack heart too, which is possibly the worst sin of all in the NFL. Watch people start to talk about Garrard the next few weeks, he is playing some very good football right now. If he stays healthy the Jags are a serious contender. No, really. They are!
The pick: Jaguars 34-27
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Jaguars to be ahead half time and full time (7/4)
Chiefs @ Broncos
An absolute pig of a game to pick, my advice, stay away. Kansas are brutal on the road (lost three straight) but Denver, well, they are just brutal everywhere. A big loss here could conceivably cost Josh McDaniels his job. Kansas are the more progressive of the two, and you would love to pick them, but they lost last week to Oakland and Denver are a home team coming off a bye, which throws a wrench in the works to say the least. Stay away, but if you have to have it, Kansas and their running game against Denver’s awful run defence.
The pick: Chiefs 17-10
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Kansas -2 (10/11)
Cowboys @ Giants
Any time a new coach comes into the equation, you have to imagine his team is going to be playing hard, playing fresh and looking to impress the new boss. Since Dallas sacked Wade Phillips, the word is training has been feisty and upbeat, with guys playing hard. I may be alone here, but I can see Dallas staying within the 14 point spread this week. The Giants? I smell a rat. Just a few weeks ago, the Giants lost two in a row to two good teams, the Titans the the Colts. Then they embarked on a five game winning spree, that has seen them sprint to the top of the Superbowl betting. Hey, did anyone check who those wins were against? In reverse order, Seattle, Dallas, Detroit, Houston and Chicago. That is hardly a roll call of the NFL's finest now, is it? The Giants are a streaky team, their five game win streak should carry on this week, however Dallas can keep it close, and much closer than Vegas thinks.
The pick: Giants 24-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Dallas +14 (10/11) for all the reasons stated above
Seahawks @ Cardinals
Arizona could not have cherry picked an easier opponent, circumstantially, this week. The Hawks are awful on the road, and missing their starting QB. This one could be a pretty low scoring, drab affair.
The pick: Cardinals 21-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Under 42 points (10/11)
Rams @ 49ers
Okay, let's go for it. The upset special of the week. I don't think the train wreck that is the 49ers season has given us all the drama it can, as yet.The Rams are not a bad football team. They move the ball well, have an elite level RB and a very progressive young QB. The 49ers are the talking-heads golden boys, and every single ESPN pundit picks them to win this matchup. The problem is, they are just not that good. The Rams can genuinely win this football game. Be safe and take the six points on offer, or go for it, take a walk on the wild side and chance them to win.
The pick: Rams 24-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Rams +6 (10/11)
Patriots @ Steelers (Late Sunday night)
If you were to go by the hysterical reaction to the Patriots loss last week, and the Steelers win against the awful Bungles, you would completely understand and indeed endorse the current six point line the Patriots are being given heading into Pittsburgh this weekend. The line that Vegas comes up with is basically trying to tempt the gambling populace at large into backing the peoples favourite, in this case Pittsburgh. This is a game you have to dig a little deeper to come up with a selection, however. For a start, did you know Tom Brady and the Patriots have dropped consecutive games twice in the past eight seasons? Think about that for a second. Twice, in eight seasons. That is phenomenal. Also, did you know the Steelers have given up an average of 272.8 yards through the air the past four weeks? They are very susceptible through the air. Most recent results? The Steelers were delighted to get out of Cincinnati with a 27-21 win, thanks to a last gasp defensive stand. The Patriots are no Bungles. Hey, there’s no doubt about it, the Patriots have a few issues of their own. Bear in mind though, they are not coming off a big losing streak, their loss, shocking as it was, left them with a pretty decent 6-2 record. This isn’t some bunch of schmucks heading into Pittsburgh for a beat-down, as the 6 point line would suggest. Looking for an X-Factor? Pittsburgh has as many turnovers as touchdowns (six) the past three weeks. You would not know that judging by how the pundits are all picking the Steelers to win easily. They ignore those kind of facts in situations like this. Finally, add to all this the fact that the Steelers played Monday night, and are working on a short weeks preparation. With all that in mind, would you rather have the team with (almost) a touchdown head-start, or the team with a (somewhat) hidden host of question marks against it? Plus, a complete douche-bag quarterback, who everyone in Ohio bar the most vociferous Steelers fans hates. Let’s not forget that.
The pick: Patriots 27-24
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Patriots +5.5 (10/11) too many points!!
Eagles @ Redskins (Monday night)
Absolutely no need to dig too deep into this one. With Vick healthy, the Eagles are a very interesting team. Vick can pick up yards with his feet, and he can absolutely fire the ball downfield, he has a cannon of an arm. The Redskins, meanwhile, are becoming something of a bad joke. Their loss to the Lions, and subsequent ridiculous QB ‘controversy’ (it is not a controversy if Rex Gannon is involved) point to a ship without a rudder. I am not completely convinced about the Eagles being touted as potential Superbowl winners, Vick looks very injury prone and takes huge risks, but they have more than enough firepower to put down the Skins.
The pick: Eagles 27-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Vick to score a TD any time (3/1)