Monthly Archives: December 2009

Week 16 NFL Picks

The Season is winding down, and the Wild Card slots are slowly but surely being decided. Powerhouses like the Giants and Steelers are on the outside of the playoffs looking in while the Ravens, Broncos, Cowboys, and Packers are playing the best they can to hold on to their playoff spot. Home teams in CAPS.

Chargers (+2.5) over TITANS

     Philip Rivers is 17-0 career in December. I wonder who I'm picking to win?

Philip Rivers is 17-0 career in December. I wonder who I'm picking to win?

Whoever made up this line is crazy. Aside from the Colts, the Bolts are the hottest team in the NFL and many have argued that they could beat Indy. The Titans are a team who capitalized on poor teams underestimating Vince Young and Chris Johnson. Give me the team with the taller receivers, better leader, and more ferocious defense. This is the Lock of the Week.

FALCONS (-8.5) over Bills
With Matt Ryan and possibly Michael Turner back, the Bills will stand no chance in the ATL. With Briam Brohm at the helm, who was recently cut by Green Bay, you can’t expect much out of former play-makers Lee Evans and Terrell Owens.

BENGALS (-13.5) over Chiefs
The Chiefs proved again last week how bad of a team they are when they lost to the lowly Browns and gave up 286 rushing yards to little known running back Jerome Harrison and two long return touchdowns to Joshua Cribbs. The Bengals, although they didn’t win, put up a great fight in San Diego after mourning the loss of fallen teammate Chris Henry. Gimme the boys with the stripes.

BROWNS (-3.5) over Raiders
Like I just said, the Browns actually showed up to play, perhaps to show off for new president Mike Holmgren. The Raiders showed us that they are the best of the fail-tastic NFL teams. They can beat the good teams (Denver, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh), but not the bad ones (Redskins, Chiefs, and now the Browns.)

Seahawks (+13.5) over PACKERS
Sure, the Packers are in line to make the playoffs, but that doesn’t make this team good, at all. They own a 9-5 record that includes wins over only the Bears, Rams, Lions, Browns, Cowboys, Niners, and the Bears and Lions again. Not so good now, eh? The Seahawks are too proud of a team to lose by two touchdowns.

Ravens (+2.5) over STEELERS
A 3-4 Defense needs two key components to succeed: A good pass rush and strong safety. Without Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith, the Steelers don’t have that, and their defense has become incredibly porous. The Ravens have a great run game centered around Ray Rice who will slice through the aging Steelers’ D.

Texans (+3.5) over DOLPHINS
The Dolphins are a nice sleeper pick, but the Texans have the most up-side along, yes higher then the Steelers, with their high flying offense, not that potential Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing hasn’t been great. As long as they keep feeding the ball to freakishly athletic Andre Johnson, they will be fine.

PATRIOTS (-7.5) over Jaguars
The Pats are the least talented on defense then they’ve had over the past decade with no more Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Roosevelt Colvin, Richard Seymour, or Rodney Harrison. The veteran free agents they’ve brought in, such as Adalius Thomas,  Derrick Burgess, and Shawn Springs, haven’t been so goo either. That being said, the are far more talented on offense, whether or not Randy Moss is giving it his all. I’ll take New England here big.

SAINTS (-14.5) over Buccaneers
Just like the ’07 Pats, the Saints started out the year winning big and slowly but surely, the margin of victory dropped and dropped. The Patriots never got to play the Bucs at the the end of the season, though, so I’ll take  an exception to the rule here.

PANTHERS (+6.5) over Giants
The Giants are an over-hyped okay team. The Panthers are an under-hyped not-so-good team. The Panthers are playing to save their coach’s job, to their fans’ dismay. The Giants are playing to salvage any shot at making the playoffs. Sounds to me like a dogfight. One that won’t be decided by more then a field goal.

CARDINALS (-13.5) over Rams
As if it wasn’t bad enough already for the Rams, but a case of Swine Flu, or rather H1N1 virus has hit their team. Steven Jackson may miss the game. The Cardinals will have to try hard not to win by more then two touchdowns.

49ERS (-11.5) over Lions
I think that the Lions are trying to prove to the world that they are not that much better then last year. Two wins, maybe, but they are still dysfunctional with or without Matt Millen.

Broncos (+7.5) over EAGLES
I am probably one of the few people who still believes in the Broncos, and they really need a win here. There are six teams one game in the standings behind them, so a road win over a quality team would be huge. I expect this to be another dog fight and like the Giants/Panthers game, but with much larger implications, the game to stay very close.

Jets (+5.5) over COLTS
Jim Caldwell hasn’t been clear about how long he is going to play his starters, but it is pretty clear that going 16-0 doesn’t mean much to his team. Assuming Peyton won’t play the whole game, Rex Ryan will blitz the living daylight out of the Colts to get any shot he can on Peyton.

Cowboys (-6.5) over REDSKINS
The Cowboys can still win the division, and the Redskins can still rid themselves of Jim Zorn, so I’ll take the Cowboys here.

Vikings (-7.5) over BEARS
Even after a prime time collapse and an angry conversation between Head Coach and Quarterback, the Vikings are still clearly better then the Bears by more then a touch down. Expect Adrian Peterson to rush for over 100 yards, for only the fourth time this year.

Season: 111-99

Last Week: 7-9

Lock of the Week: 7-7

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Week 15 NFL Picks

As the season raps up, there is an ongoing debate in the football community of whether or not the Saints and Colts should go for it all. Michael Irvin said he would trade his three Super Bowl rings and his Hall-of-fame bust for an undefeated season, while former ’72 Dolphins say they should rest. What do you think? Anyways, here are my Week 15 picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Colts (-6.5) over JAGUARS
The Jags are always great against bad teams, and the Colts certainly don’t count as one of those. The Colts will find a way to pull this one out, no matter how long Peyton Manning plays.

SAINTS (-7.5) over Cowboys
Just so you know, this is December, therefore the Cowboys will be playing poorly. New Orleans will be fired up, especially their defense, and they will win big.

Patriots (-7.5) over BILLS
The Buffalo winds are always strong, but they won’t be strong enough to stop a fired up Randy Moss. This will be a good wake-up call for the Pats’ defense, and I don’t mean a hard test, I mean to cushion their stats.

Cardinals (-10.5) over LIONS
The Cards just lost a big game Monday Night, and they’ll want to wrap up the division quickly before the Niners close out the year with the Rams and Lions. With Culpepper in,  this game should be a cinch for Warner and Gang.

Dolphins (+3.5) over TITANS
Chris Johnson is in the debate for MVP this year, but I don’t get it? CJ has everything a great player needs, and he can do anything accept for win games. His team is 6-7.

It's like this, just for hours and hours on end

It's like this, just for hours and hours and hours on end

CHIEFS (-2.5) over Browns
The Browns have been in talks with Mike Holmgren about running the Browns. What is so wrong with Mike’s life that he has stooped this low? Does his wife really nag that much? This game is so bad, I’m going to make a list of things I’d rather do then watch this game:
1. Take a three hour AP Calculus exam
2. Get beat up by Elin Nordegren
3. Have to listen to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver for 24 straight hours
This game is that bad.

Texans (-9.5) over RAMS
I’m gonna be honest here, Keith Noll isn’t very inspiring. His scouting report around the league is ‘He is the backup to Kyle Boller. That should be enough to tell you how this game will end.

Falcons (+6.5) over JETS
I still believe in these Falcons after they put a great fight up against the Saints. I still don’t believe in the pass dropping, smack talking J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets! Kellen Clemens? He makes Chris Redman look good.

EAGLES (-7.5) over 49ers
The third best team in the NFC has yet to be decided between the disappearing and reappearing Cardinals and the winner of the not-so-tough NFC East. But the Niners are on a short week and the Eagles are on top of their game.

RAVENS (-10.5) over Bears
These aren’t your daddy’s Ravens, these guys can score. They also can’t defend. But they can defend Jay Cutler and Matt Forte.

Bengals (+6.5) over CHARGERS
Philip Rivers is 16-0 in his career in December, but this is a bigger game for the Bengals. Not just so that they can get more deserved respect, but because the loss of fallen teammate Chris Henry. The last time the Bengals had a loss this big, Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer lost his wife and the team responded with a big win over Baltimore. Big game step up by the Bengals.

BRONCOS (-13.5) over Raiders
You know your team is bad when your group of quarterbacks are JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, and J.P. Losman. The Broncos will get their playoff bye a few weeks early.

STEELERS (-.5) over Packers
The Packers have lost too much on defense to stop the Steelers who are in dire need of wins. Aaron Rodgers will be tought a lesson here as Big Ben and James Harrison defend Heinz Field.

SEAHAWKS (-7.5) over Buccaneers
Anyone who has to watch this game obviously has nothing going on in their life or like torture. Justin Forsett, Samie Stroughter, and Stylez G. White aren’t the most inspiring players. At least we get to see Josh Freeman show off his Jay Cutler-esque arm. That is in strength and pick-ability.

Vikings (-7.5) over PANTHERS
The Panthers are missing both of their starting offensive tackles, so judging by the Vikings’ pass rush, I’m going to have to take the Vikes here. Brett Favre could even turn in a Delhomme-esque game, and the Vikings would run right over the Panthers.

Giants (-3.5) over REDSKINS
This line is a joke. The Giants need a win and the Redskins are the Redskins. Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley are out for the year, and starting in place for them are Quinton Ganther, Rock Cartwright, and Fred Davis. I’ll take the Giants, as they are…the Lock of the Week.

Season: 104-90

Last Week: 9-7

Lock of the Week: 6-7

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Week 14 NFL Picks

The Mercury Morris Watch is on, as there are two undefeated teams left with four games to go. Will the Saints and/or the Colts pull it off, or will there be a collapse this week at the hands of the Broncos or Falcons? Well see on Sunday. As for my picks this year, last week killed me and my Locks of the Week haven’t been so solid either. As the Cubs fans say, wait ’til next year. Home teams in CAPS.

Steelers (-9.5) over BROWNS
Sure, the Steelers have not been playing too well lately, but that doesn’t make them this close to the Browns. Polamalu is out for the Steelers, but Brady Quinn is in for the Browns. It’s that simple.

FALCONS (+9.5) over Saints (with Turner or Ryan healthy)
The Falcons may be out of the playoffs for the most part, but this is their season. Can they stop the undefeated Saints, or at least, keep it in single digits? The Saints just came off a near loss, if not for a missed 23 yard field goal by the now cut Shaun Suisham. I can’t give a team with Matt Ryan and Michael Turner this many points and still expect to win. My one stipulation for this pick is that if Ryan and Turner are both out, I’m going with the Saints.

Packers (-3.5) over BEARS
I absolutely hate the Packers as a team this year, especially with Aaron Kampman and Al Harris out for the year, but I have to pick them if I only have to give just over a field goal. The Bears are horrid, even at home. Without Brian Urlacher, the Bear’s defense won’t be able to stop Aaron Rodgers and his long release time.

If New Englanders see this in February, expect the suicide rate to skyrocket

If New Englanders see this in February, expect the suicide rate to skyrocket

Broncos (+7.5) over COLTS
On a side note, if the Colts win the Super Bowl this year, it will officially be the worst year in Boston sports history, ever. The biggest three rivals in the three biggest Bostonian sports (Lakers, Yankees, and Colts) will have won a championship. So, after coming off five straight tough games, the Colts may be relieved to see a falling Broncos on their schedule. Most people would call this a trap game.

CHIEFS (-.5) over Bills
The Who Cares game of the week. Only difference between them is one team has a semi-competent quarterback (the Chiefs) while one has a QB from Harvard (Bills). Case closed.

Jets (-3.5) over BUCCANEERS
Rex Ryan brought in Yankees skipper Joe Girardi to teach Mark Sanchez how to slide last week. When Sanchez arrived to a sliding situation last week against the Bills, he dove and tore a ligament in his knee. That makes two below-average coaches in the greater New York area. I hate picking Kellen Clemens to win a game, but after Josh Freeman’s performance last week, I have to pick him to win here. To be clear, I would rather have Freeman than Sanchez, but the Jets are far more talented than the Bucs.

Dolphins (+2.5) over JAGUARS
The Dolphins are a hard team to figure out. They’ve beat the Pats but lost to the Bills. They have the Wildcat, but no Ronnie Brown. The Jaguars, on the other hand have been consistently mediocre. Home Field Advantage shouldn’t play a major role in the game, as 15,000 fans usually don’t. I think the Dolphins can contain Maurice Jones-Drew for the most part, and keep rolling on.

RAVENS (-13.5) over Lions
Historically, the Ravens have been an up-and-down team. Over the last 5 years, they have finished the season with 11, 5, 13, 6, and 9 wins. That would mean that this would be a down year. I loved them at the start of the year, and they continued the trend. I certainly love them against the Lions, though.

TEXANS (-6.5) over Seahawks
If the Texans want to make the playoffs or get above .500 for the first time in franchise history, they’re going to have to beat teams like the Seahawks. They need this, and they will get it.

Bengals (+6.5) over VIKINGS
This is just the game that the Bengals show up to win, on the road when everyone doubts them. Brett Favre will be hitting his annual winter wall as he stops the touchdown throwing and starts up the interceptions. If you’re going to give me nearly a TD, I’ll take it.

Panthers (+13.5) over PATRIOTS
Oh, Geez. I can’t pick against the Patriots normally and especially after a loss, let along two, but this is way too many points to give up. The Dolphins just broke the Pats streak of wins after a loss that lasted since 2002. Matt Moore is giving the Panthers somewhat of a spark on offense, so I’ll take the Cats with the nearly two touchdown.

Rams (+12.5) over TITANS
Who ever made the Titans good? They were dreadful for the first six games, then Vince Young decided to play, which wasn’t too hard against pretty bad teams. Now they’ve been exposed by the Colts. I am NOT giving them 12. points here…. this is the Lock of the Week.

Redskins (-2.5) over RAIDERS
Neither team is even decent, although both showed up last week. The ‘Skins were in it the entire game against the undefeated Saints and the Raiders came up with yet another win over a much better team. I still think the Redskins have more talent, especially in the defense, so I’ll take them.

Chargers (+3.5) over COWBOYS
The Cowboys are getting way too much love here, especially in December. Every NFL fan, especially Cowboys fans, knows that Dallas does NOT play well in December. San Diego fans know that the Chargers are fantastic in December. They also have way more talent. This is a really easy game to pick.

Eagles (+.5) over GIANTS
The winner of this game will likely win the NFC East, so this is a very, very important game. The Giants are hurting on defense, and the Eagles are on the top of their game. I’ll take the Iggles with the useless half point.

CARDINALS (-3.5) over 49ers
Like the Packers game, I don’t like the team I’m picking, but I dislike the team they’re playing even more. I like the Niners a bit more than the Bears, but a field goal in near to nothing to give up.

Season: 95-83

Last Week: 5-11

Lock of the Week: 6-6

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The Red Sox need a Blast from the Past

Boston Red Sox fans certainly aren’t happy after a first round exit from the playoffs and watching the Yankees win their twenty-seventh World Series. The Sox are aging quickly and they’ve lost their identity from when they won it all in ’04 and ’07. Gone are the characters of year’s past: Pedro, Millar, Johnny Damon, and the man who must go unnamed. Now they are down to Victor Martinez and the fiery Dustin Pedroia. No more Cowboying up for this group of idiots. So how do the Red Sox get back on the winning track? They need a blast from the past.

The Red Sox have a big off-season coming up because they need to make a statement to counter what the Yankees did this year. Given John Lackey and Matt Holliday are no CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, but big moves can still be made. At the Trade Deadline, they inquired on Roy Halladay, Adrian Gonzalez, and Felix Hernandez, but now it appears that only Halladay is for the taking. In order to land Doc, they will have to give up their two top pitching prospects Casey Kelly and Clay Buchholz, which is way too much for one year of Roy Halladay. Recently, the Padres said that they weren’t going to move Gonzalez and the Mariners are in no mood to move Hernandez. But there is one trade that Boston needs to make.

If there was one need for the Red Sox in the playoffs and late in the year, it was a power bat in the middle. Over the past year and a half, the Red Sox have been missing “that guy” who will always come up in the clutch. They need a clean up bat that hits above .300 for his career and averages over 30 homers and 100 RBIs per year. A player who, when he comes up late in the game with the bases loaded, puts the Fear of God in the opposition and their fans. A guy who can and will keep the clubhouse loose with his antics. To be more specific, a Latino slugger who has worn the number 24 for most of his career. The player on my mind is Miguel Cabrera, and not Manny Ramirez.

As most people know, Detroit is in the lowest point of the valley that is our current economic recession. Tigers’ ownership would love to cut their payroll, which would include trading high priced players like Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordoñez, and Cabrera, along with players who are owed a big pay raise, such as Edwin Jackson. Cabrera is owed $126 million over the next six years, so the Tigers would love to get rid of that contract, and the Red Sox could certainly take it. Plus, he is only 26 years old.

Boston probably doesn’t want to go forward with just Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, and David Ortiz in the middle of their order. Cabrera is an elite talent who Theo Epstein should never pass up. Boston’s brass needs to do everything in their power to get Cabrera because if he can be had, they can’t let another contender such as the Angels or Yankees land him and he will make a gigantic impact in the middle of their order. Even if it will cost them a combination of hitting prospects such as Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish, and Ryan Lavarnway, along with pitchers such as Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, and Felix Doubront, the trade needs to be done. Cabrera commands the highest respect from opposing pitchers, when he’s not getting beat up by his wife while drunk. He will be a staple in the middle of the Red Sox’ order for the next six plus years sandwiched between Martinez, Youkilis, and potentially another slugger or two.

After acquiring Cabrera, the next step for the Red Sox will be to fill the gap in left field left by Jason Bay. They currently have a decent option, in Jeremy Hermida, slated to start in left, but not an impressive one all the same. The top free agent options are lead by Matt Holliday and Jason Bay before there is a drop off to the likes of Vladimir Guerrero, Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, and Rick Ankiel. To me, Bay’s time in Boston is over. He didn’t accept Boston’s $60 million extension offer over the summer, and they didn’t make much of an effort to up his offer. This makes Matt Holliday their number one free agent target of this off-season.

Of course adding a top of the rotation starter like John Lackey would be great, but signing Holliday would be a better use of Boston’s money and draft picks. Holliday is another player who has career averages of nearly 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs and .300 batting average. One knock on the slugger is that he had a very unsuccessful stint in the AL, but the answers to his struggles are that he had very little talent around him in a poor hitter’s ball park and he changed his batting stance for the first five weeks of the season, and when he switched back, he was his old self. Holliday’s agent, Scott Boras, compares his client to Mark Teixeira and wants a deal close to Tex’s 8 year $180 million contract. But most people around baseball believe that he will land a deal around $130-$110 million.

If the Red Sox’s negotiations with Holliday fall short of Boras’ needs, the player they should look at next is, believe it or not Johnny Damon. Damon will provide some speed and power to the Sox’ order and will act as a bridge to prospects Josh Reddick, Kalish, and Ryan Westmoreland. Boston fans will eventually forgive Damon for his “wrong doings”, but in return will likely ask for his beard back. Sure, Damon’s arm isn’t great, but he is great in the lockerroom and a great guy. He still has some speed and some pop. He set a career high in home runs last year and is far from done. He wasn’t offered arbitration by the Yankees, and it’s not like there are teams lined up to sign Damon.

Cabrera is the closest thing resembling a shortstop the Red Sox have had since '04, so why not bring him back?

Cabrera is the closest thing resembling a shortstop the Red Sox have had since '04, so why not bring him back?

The next order of business for the Red Sox is short stop. Jed Lowrie hasn’t been what they expected since they called him up because of injuries, in fact, no short stop has been up to snuff since they traded away Nomar Garciaparra at the 2004 Trade Deadline. They have gone through Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Rentaria, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, Nick Green, and Gonzo again. There are no young studs on the free agent market, so they will most likely be signing a veteran to bridge to highly touted prospect Jose Iglesias. but there are solid veterans Miguel Tejada, Marco Scutaro, and Orlando Cabrera. So far, Scutaro has been the most closely linked with the Red Sox, but he is the worst of the three. Scutaro is 34, and until two seasons ago, he had never had more than 455 at bats in a season, hit above .270, double digit homers, 45 RBIs, or 5 steals. He is just a utility man who picked up some slack recently. The Red Sox nearly acquired Miggy two years ago and Cabrera played on the ’04 World Series team. All three shortstops are type A free agents, which if signed will cost their new teams a first round pick, but because of a clause in his contract, the Twins can’t offer him arbitration. This puts the Red Sox in prime position to bring back their former teammate who can don his number 44 no longer worn by Jason Bay.

At this point, The only things left for Boston would be to acquire some pitching depth and bench help. For the pitching depth, and more specifically starting pitching, the Red Sox have recently looked at injury prone veterans like Brad Penny and John Smoltz. Why do that again when the Sox can turn to old friend Pedro Martinez? Ben Sheets and Rich Harden would also be nice aditions, but they have can never stay an entire year healthy. The Red Sox don’t really need to spend big bucks on a starter when they have a rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, and Tim Wakefield. Pedro is a cheap low risk-medium reward option for the Sox that they should consider.

Lastly, for a look at their bench, the Red Sox are pretty deep at the moment. If they sign Holliday and trade for Cabrera, they will have proven starters Jeremy Hermida, Mike Lowell, Jed Lowrie, Jason Varitek, and Casey Kotchman off the bench. If the situation arises that they can move one of them, specifically Lowell and Kotchman, there are several players who would be great replacements. Since back-ups won’t make a major impact, it’s a good idea to take a big swing on a high risk medium reward player, such as Sox legends Kevin Millar and Nomar Garciaparra.  Nomah and Millah are free agents with no compensation required if acquired and. They both can play first and Nomar is more versitile, as he can play just about every position in the infield.

Here is a look at what the Red Sox 2010 man roster should end up looking like:

CF:  Jacoby Ellsbury – $450K
2B:  Dustin Pedroia – $3.5m
C:    Victor Martinez – $7.7m
1B:  Miguel Cabrera – $20m
LF:  Matt Holliday – $18m (est)
3B:  Kevin Youkilis – $9.1m
DH: David Ortiz – $12.5m
RF:  J.D. Drew – $14m
SS:  Orlando Cabrera – $6m (est)

OF: Jeremy Hermida – $3.5m (est)
3B:  Mike Lowell – $12m
SS:  Jed Lowrie – $415K
1B:  Casey Kotchman – $4m (est)
C:    Jason Varitek – $3m

SP: Josh Beckett – $12m
SP: Jon Lester – $3.8m
SP: Daisuke Matsuzaka – $8m
SP: Clay Buchholz – $415K
SP: Tim Wakefield/Pedro Martinez – $3.5m/$2m (est)

CL: Jonathan Papelbon – $10m (est)
RP: Daniel Bard – $400K
RP: Hideki Okajima – $2.5m (est)
RP: Ramon Ramirez – $1.5m (est)
RP: Manny Delcarmen – $1m (est)

Payroll: $169 million

These moves could very well lead the Red Sox to their 9th championship, but they could also lead to a missed playoff appearance. I’m sure Theo Epstein has a plan in mind whether that is mortgaging their future to land Roy Halladay or another stud, or they could sit back and wait for Lowell and Ortiz’ contracts to come off the books. Either way, nearly all sports fans know that the Sox will have a bright future for years to come.

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Week 13 NFL Picks

We are winding down in the  season and fantasy football playoffs are just around the corner. It’s put up or shut up time, and I know a few teams who need to do the former. Home teams in CAPS

Jets (-3.5) over BILLS
Neither team nor their quarterback is great, but two things separate the Jets from the Bills. The Bills have the 19th ranked run defense while the Jets have the second best. Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene have been great this year, and Leon Washington was until he was placed on the injured reserve. The Jets also put a whole lot more pressure on the opposing offense than the lackluster Bills’ D. The usual home field advantage for the Bills won’t be there since they will be in Toronto, which doesn’t deserve to host an NFL game.

Eagles (-4.5) over FALCONS
Michael Vick comes back to the city that drafted him number one overall eight years ago. But without Matt Ryan in this game, it won’t be too close. Asante Samuel will be able to shut down Roddy White and the blitzing schemes of the Eagles will be able to shut down the not fully healthy Michael Turner. This is the Lock of the Week.

BEARS (-8.5) over Rams
In a recent SportsNation poll on ESPN.com, there was a question asked that was what has been the biggest problem for the Bears: Their quarterback, runningback, O-Line, Defense, or Coaching. Everywhere except Illinois, it was the QB, but they picked offensive line. They know. Jay Cutler is good, but he just doesn’t have a great supporting cast, especially with Matt Forte not showing up this year and depending on rookie Johnny Knox and return man Devin Hester as your go-to receivers. Beating up on the Rams defense should be no problem.

BENGALS (-13.5) over Lions
The Bengals are great and the Lions aren’t there isn’t much more to this.

Colts (-6.5) over TITANS
Amazingly enough, after losing their first six games, Chris Johnson and Vince Young have turned around the season for Tennessee’s season. They think that they can win ten straight and make the playoffs. Peyton Manning doesn’t think so, and he’ll have something to say about it.

Broncos (-6.5) over CHIEFS
Yet again, the Broncos are getting no respect. But this time, they aren’t getting any respect against the Chiefs. I can understand no one believing in them when they play the Pats, Ravens, and Steelers, but this is the Chiefs! Jamaal Charles and Chris Chambers shouldn’t scare these guys! I’ll take the Broncos big here.

Saints (-8.5) over REDSKINS
The Saints are on a roll after destroying the Patriots, and the Redskins are down to their third runningback and just placed Chris Cooley on the IR. Not the formula for success, if you ask me. If New Orleans can beat the Patriots by two touchdowns, why couldn’t they beat the ‘Skins by 9?

PANTHERS (-6.5) over Buccaneers
Each game the Panthers lose, they are one step closer to Bill Cowher. But after a certain point, if you can’t beat the Bucs, why would Cowher want to coach there? The Panthers need to win this to prove they are relevant, even though they will surely miss the playoffs. Matt Moore gets his first start, and if he wins, he could be the starter for the rest of the year.

Texans (+.5) over JAGUARS
I know the Texans just blew a chance to wreck the Colts’ perfect season, but that doesn’t put them below the Jags. Even without Owen Daniels, the Texans’ pass attack is too prolific to be stopped by the lowly Jacksonville defense, especially if All-Pro Rashean Mathis is out.

Dennis Dixon could start in Buffalo, Oakland, Cleveland, Carolina, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay

Dennis Dixon could start in Buffalo, Oakland, Cleveland, Carolina, St. Louis, & Tampa Bay

STEELERS (-11.5) over Raiders
Back in 2007, Dennis Dixon was a front runner to win the Heisman until he hurt his knee and was out for the year. He then fell to the fifth round of the 2008 draft, when the Steelers snatched him up with the 156th pick. Dixon has speed, size, athleticism, accuracy, and a decent arm. The only thing wrong with him was that he had to heal from his knee injury. Even with only one pro start under his belt, Dixon is way better than Bruce Gradkowski, JaMarcus Russel, Charlie Frye, or whoever is starting in Oakland.

Patriots (-6.5) over DOLPHINS
The Pats lost four losses this year have come to teams with a combined record of 34-10. The Dolphins just lost to the 4-7 Bills by 17. The Patriots aren’t getting near the respect they deserve here. This will be a blowout.

Chargers (-12.5) over BROWNS
Every year, the Chargers start slow, then pick up the pace and finish the year strong. This would be the end of the year, and Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates look great. Maybe not so much for LT, but he will in Cleveland.

49ers (+.5) over SEAHAWKS
The Niners are a deep sleeper for the final Wild Card spot this season, and the Seahawks aren’t. If Frank Gore is on his A Game, San Fran is hard to beat. Alex Smith looks a bit like the player the 49ers drafted number one, and they are on the way up.

Cowboys (-1.5) over GIANTS
In case anyone has been under a rock since November 27th, 2008, Plaxico Burress is in jail with a bullet in his leg and his former team is no longer any good. Their losses this year have come by an average score of over two touchdowns. Even though the Cowboys are historically bad during December, that will start after they run over the ‘Boys.

Vikings (-3.5) over CARDINALS
The Cardinals are getting better, but the Vikings, at least to me, are the best team in the NFC. They have the MVP-to-be in Brett Favre who has 24 TDs and 3 Ints, Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Visanthe Shiancoe, Jared Allen, The Williams Wall, Antoine Winfield, and Chad Greenway. With Kurt Warner not 100%, gimme the Vikes.

Ravens (+3.5) over PACKERS
Just because the Ravens haven’t looked dominating as of late doesn’t mean they’re worse than the Packers. They need this game to make the playoffs, so I won’t put my money on the team across the line from Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

Season: 90-72

Last Week: 9-7

Lock of the Week: 5-6

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