Last Week: 11-3
Season Record: 51-24
“Lock of the Week”- 3-1
“Upset of the week”- 4-1
As expected, last week was full of gimmes. Several blowouts- seven to be exact- made some people think that this season will be one without much parity. While I don’t think this is necessarily bad, it is true up to this point of the season. Think about it. Last year we had a few divisions finish with all the teams having decent records, even the team that finished in last place. This season it seems that every division has at least one really bad team in it.
Last year the AFC East was filled with competitive teams, and Buffalo finished in last place with a mediocre 7-9 record. This year Buffalo is already seemingly dead, sitting at 1-4, half thier defense injured, and is making fans so angry that they literally are making billboards telling Ralph Wilson Jr. to clean house. That’s a really bad team.
The AFC West has still has the same two horrid squads; with Oakland no longer competing at 1-4, and the close-but-no-cigar 0-5 Chiefs.
The AFC North has the Cleveland Browns, who were along with the Bengals at the bottom of the division in 2008. Fresh off a beautiful 6-3 shootout win, led by their fantasy stud Derek Anderson (2/17, 23yds, int), the Browns do have a win, and I’m sure they’ll be cherishing it for the rest of the season. All the way up until they found out the Bills are picking before them in April. The Bengals, on the other hand, turned a new leaf over this season. Who Dey?
The AFC South, of course has those disappointing Titans. They may be the best 0-5 team ever, but the last two weeks have shown us that they simply don’t have the strength as a team to recover. Vince Young is a considerable option for the Titans, as the last time they started 0-5, they pulled Collins and threw in Young, who finished 8-3, and would be the Titans starter the following season. If it’s time to see if he truly is the future, it’s now.
The NFC East has the Washington Redskins, who aren’t completely out at 2-3, but are playing like a team that’s full of people who seem like they don’t know each other or even talk much. That’s how much miss communication this offense has had this year. And even an average team would be better than 2-3, as the Redskins have faced by far the easiest schedule in the league, and possibly in NFL history.
The NFC South features Tampa Bay, who, since starting 9-3 last season, have been 0-9 since. Honestly, the team has talent. Josh Johnson may not be a guy you want starting, but he does bring another dimension to the game with his feet. And remember Antonio Bryant? He looked like a top-10 receiver at points of last season, but this year has been invisible. I should also mention the 3 quality backs on this roster. Why haven’t we seen the re-emergence of Cadillac? Where’s Derrick Ward? Whatever happened to Earnest Graham? Is he a fullback now? Either way, this team is really young, and has players- but if they don’t start playing a little defense soon, they could end up giving the ’08 Lions a run for their money.
The NFC North has those Detroit Lions, but honestly, I’ll take them any day over several of these teams. They have guys who have stepped up and made plays this year, and who knows- the loss of Jim Schwartz has painfully wounded the Titans, so he must be really good at what he does.
And the NFC West has the St. Louis Rams. I think they probably will finish up at around 1-15. Steven Jackson may really be helping his market value for when he mercifully becomes a free agent. He still hasn’t scored this season (his team rarely does), but he’s showing up, and taking the load in each game. Other than that, the Rams haven’t competed much at all this year- and coach Steve Spagnolo will probably be watching that Texas-Oklahoma game this weekend pretty closely.
Overall, the proof is there…this season may be lacking in parity just a little bit. When the good teams have played each other this season, they’ve played good games. Either way- some normalcy in the league is a bit refreshing to me to be honest. Though I love to see it happen every few years or so, and I usually vote for the underdog, if the NFL had continuous seasons with the level of parity we saw last season, things would kind of seem like a little too much of a toss-up each year. Let’s get to the games.
1:00 EST Games:
Houston Texans (2-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4-1): The Cardiac Cats indeed. I can do nothing but give props to the Bengals for proving me wrong through the past 4 weeks of the season. Right now this team has balance, they field a consistent running game with Cedric Benson, their defense is able to hold it’s own when the team needs the ball back, and their passing attack is always hot at the right times of their games. Winning in Baltimore proved to me that this team is here to compete this season. The Texans, on the other hand, aren’t quite as balanced. They have an above average passing attack. And…..that’s about it. If the Bengals control the clock, and put the pressure on Schuab, limiting his success, they can take this one easy at home. Bengals 23-10.
Detroit Lions(1-4) @ Green Bay Packers (2-2): The Packers could be in a little bit of trouble in this game. Detroit was able to keep with the World Champion Steelers last week in an 8-point loss, and will come into this divisional match-up with high hopes. If the Packers made the right adjustments and had a good bye week, they should be just fine for this one…but if they come out rusty…look out. Packers 35-24.
St. Louis Rams (0-5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3): An unfamiliar foe and a long west-coast trip was too much for the Jags to handle last week, but this week they are spared the trip and face a foe that may be unfamiliar, but also one that is minus talent, dignity, and basic football skills. Jags 28-10.
Baltimore Ravens (3-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-0): Both teams can exploit each others weaknesses in this game. Brett Favre and the Vikings passing game get a good match-up against the Ravens vulnerable pass defense. Same goes the other way around, as Flacco and co. look to get the high-flying passing attack back in the air against the suspect Vikings pass defense. This is by far the best team the Vikes have faced this season, and the Ravens, in a tough AFC North, can’t afford to lose 3-in-a-row. Percy Harvin is questionable for this game, so we don’t know for sure if he’ll play. If he does, I believe that he could make a play that could be the difference in the game. But I’ll assume he’ll be on the sidelines. Ravens 23-14.
New York Giants (5-0) @ New Orleans Saints (4-0): Game of the week. I think it’ll live up to the expectations. It can really go either way, but I feel like in New Orleans, the Saints have been tested more this season than the Giants have. New York has had a schedule to die for, but they did what good teams should do to bad teams- dominated. It’s an even match-up, and I think that New York can bring enough pressure to contain Drew Brees. How can they fair against that over-looked ground game? Will Eli and the offense be able to move the ball well against a rising defense? Let all the questions be answered in this great football game. It’s still early, so the winner of this one doesn’t necessarily tell me which of these teams is better- we may see this game again later down the line. Saints 23-20.
Cleveland Browns (1-4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2): The pick here isn’t difficult, but Pittsburgh is barely a lock for victory lately. They’ve been struggling to finish games. They almost fumbled away the season opener, they lost late to Chicago and Cincy, and had problems sealing the deal against San Diego and Detroit. But it’s the Browns. They have a win under thier belts, but they won’t touch the Steelers, who get Polamalu and Parker back in the picture. Steelers 31-3.
Carolina Panthers (1-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5): Carolina was able to get win #1 very sloppily against a weak Washington team. Tampa Bay continues to keep taking it in the chin. When you look at a team like Tampa, you take a glance at their schedule to see if they have any possible hopes for a victory this season…and this is one of them. Maybe- just maybe- they can get some payback on the team that beat them in a game that year that the they still haven’t recovered from. In the upset of the week, the Buccaneers pull one out, 17-12.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-5) @ Washington Redskins (2-3): Kansas City, though still not winning, manages to keep it’s games close. A win against Dallas last week would’ve been wonders for the morale of the team, but same ol’ result. The Redskins looked at another easy but ugly win last week against the Panthers, but blew the 15-point lead in the end. So with neither teams finishing out games this year…what will the result be? A tie? Well, maybe, but I shouldn’t count on that. Kansas City 20-16.
4:00 EST Games:
Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) @ Oakland Raiders (1-4): Hmm…talk about the tension of opposites. Both of these teams are headed in two completely different directions- Philly is hot, looking to go streaking, and Oakland, once again, is dropping like an anvil falling from a skyscraper. Even at home I like the Raiders to get pasted in this one. Big day for McNabb in store. Eagles 51-14. Lock of the week.
Arizona Cardinals (2-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (2-3): The Seahawks season- though it has plenty of hope and by no means is in any serious danger- has been a blooper reel. First we have those shocking Lime-Greens, then a kicker who misses a couple and gets called out by the coach, and now a backup fullback who splits his own head open with his helmet. I guess it was good enough motivation though, as they played a flawless game and won 41-0. The Cards had a little trouble with a big lead against the Texans, and needed a goal-line stand to prevent overtime. Heck, Houston even handed them the game winning touchdown. Seattle is finally healthy, and the T.J. Houshmandzedah-Matt Hasslebeck connection can finally wake up. Seattle is tough at home. Seahawks 27-21.
Tennessee Titans (0-5) @ New England Patriots (3-2): Compared to the level of play we are used to seeing, Tom Brady and the Patriots have had an up-and-down start in a tough opening schedule. On the flip side, Tennessee has absolutely tanked with the tough start. Brady hasn’t lost in his last 12 games in Gillette Stadium- and in those 12 games- 25 scores, 5 picks. Not looking good for the leagues second worst pass defense in Tennessee. Patriots, 31-17.
Buffalo Bills (1-4) @ New York Jets (3-2): A couple tough weeks for the Jets here, as they’ve lost two in a row, but now they hit an easy stretch to get things back on track. They play maybe the most poorly coached team in the NFL in Buffalo at home, then they travel to Oakland to face the Raiders. The Bills have lost 8 straight in their own division, and the Jets aggressive defense might tear Trent Edwards and the Bills conservative offense in half. The Bills only hope would be if Marshawn Lynch were to explode and make some huge game-changing plays. Won’t happen against this defense. Jets 21-10.
Sunday Night Football: Chicago Bears (3-1) @ Atlanta Falcons (3-1): Let’s see if this one can finally give Al & Chris something to do other than patronize each other in the 4th Quarter. Micheals sure isn’t showing any ill effects of losing his “pal” John. The Bears have a chance here because they can hit Atlanta in their weakest spot- the secondary. But those young, inexperienced wideouts seem to have some issues playing in the national spotlight. Doesn’t help that they’re on the road either. The Falcons went out west and rolled over the Niners in an impressive blowout. Lovie’s squad is good, but I’m still not putting the Bears with the big boys. Falcons 27-18.
Monday Night Football: Denver Broncos (5-0) @ San Diego Chargers (2-2): The stage is all set for McDaniel’s Broncos. Monday Night. San Diego Chargers. In a season of proving the doubters wrong. It’s time for revenge on those Chargers. The Donks just needed to win one game at 8-4 last season to clinch the West, with San Diego sitting at a lowly 4-8. They both go in different directions. They meet in the final week- Denver 8-7, San Diego 7-8- winner lives, loser dies. The Chargers steamroll the Broncos 52-21, and it all went downhill from there for Denver. The Broncos will have the ultimate chip on their shoulder- and there’s no better time to have that when you’re playing the Chargers in the early stages of the season. San Diego just can’t start seasons with a spark. Denver 38-14.