Thursday, November 1, 2012

NFL Week 9 Picks

I showed some signs of improvement last week. Hopefully things get fully better this week.

Last Week: 9-5
Year to Date: 73-44

Kansas City Chiefs vs San Diego Chargers
Things just aren't right in San Diego. They put together a woeful performance last week against Cleveland. Philip Rivers had a terrible game, Ryan Matthews fumbled again, and the Chargers offense failed to put together a meaningful drive. Now there are people in San Diego questioning what has gone wrong with this  Chargers team the last few years. Norv Turner has had so much talent and has yet to put together a Super Bowl team in San Diego. The Chargers run defense faces another challenge this week in Jamaal Charles. Charles may be the only real threat that the Chiefs have on their team. They are forced to start Matt Cassel after Brady Quinn was hurt last year. At this point, the Chiefs may wish they had the QB situation Maryland has, starting a linebacker at QB. Kansas City had high hopes this year but the season may be one of their worst in recent memory. Kansas City may not win another game this year. Even with San Diego's recent struggles, they should still win here.

San Diego 21  Kansas City 13
  Denver Broncos vs Cincinnati Bengals
About three weeks ago I said that after their bye week, the Bengals faced a stretch of football that would prove to me whether or not they are a true Playoff contender or not. Well, the problem is the Bengals failed three straight tests before that. I could understand losing to Pittsburgh, but if you want to be a good team, you don't lose to Miami and Cleveland. Miami may be good, but the Bengals have more talent. They should have won that game at home. Now Cincinnati has two difficult tests in a row, the first being against a hot Broncos team. Cincinnati just can't put together a complete game. The offense has struggled to put up points a few times, and when they do the defense has problems stopping the opposing team. The pass defense has struggled, and you know Peyton Manning will be looking forward to facing them. Peyton has played very well the last two games. He lead the Broncos to a big comeback at San Diego and blew out the Saints last week. Denver's defense has also stepped up. Holding the Saints to only 15 points is quite an impressive feat. Denver is playing very well right now and I don't see them tripping up here at Cincinnati. Cincinnati is too inconsistent while Denver is putting it all together.

Denver 28  Cincinnati 20

Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns
Cleveland is playing some good football in the last few weeks. Sure they only scored one touchdown last week, but it was enough to win them the game against San Diego due to a strong effort against the Chargers. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson will be a good QB/RB combo for the Browns in the years to come. Richardson is a very tough runner and is showing his worth as the Browns 1st round pick this year. It is a shame the Browns may blow it up this year if their new owner decides to clean house. The Ravens, meanwhile, had a week to think about their blowout loss to Houston. The offense seemed deflated and the defense truly looked to be missing their top playmakers. Even the return of Terrell Suggs couldn't spark a defense that last their emotional leader Ray Lewis. Baltimore's season now rests on the arm of Joe Flacco. They will go as far as he can take them. I'm tempted to pick Cleveland here, but I think the bye week did Baltimore good. I will pick the Ravens in a close one.

Baltimore 20  Cleveland 17

Arizona Cardinals vs Green Bay Packers
The Cardinals offense is bad. Really bad. Yes I know they played the San Francisco 49ers last week, but teams have been putting up more than 3 points against their defense. It doesn't help that the Cardinals offensive line is a complete mess. They can't open up running lanes at all, and when the Cardinals are forced to pass they can't protect John Skelton. Of course, it doesn't help that John Skelton is wildly inaccurate and can't handle pressure at all. I feel bad for Larry Fitzgerald. And the defense. The defense can only hold up for so long until they realize that the offense can't help them. Look for that to be the case this week against Green Bay. The Packers didn't blow out Jacksonville like I expected them to. The offense actually had problems scoring against a good defense. It doesn't help that the Packers once again have almost no running game to speak of. And Aaron Rodgers was missing Jordy Nelson. I don't know if the Packers over looked the Jaguars, but they didn't play their best. But Green Bay should win again. Cardinals offense can't keep up.

Green Bay 30  Arizona 14

Chicago Bears vs Tennessee Titans
Similar to the Packers, the Bears struggled against an inferior Carolina Panthers team. And they heard it from the Bears fans. Chicago was behind for the majority of the game until a Tim Jennings interception return for a touchdown gave the Bears the lead back. Chicago gave the lead right back until they won the game with a game ending Robbie Gould field goal. The Bears offense struggled to move the ball the entire game. I've been impressed with Chicago for much of the year but they should have played better than Carolina. Jay Cutler needs to keep his emotions in check. He heard it from Bears fans and he mouthed something that I'm sure most Bears fans wouldn't like. Tennessee saw their two game win streak snapped against Indianapolis. The Titans defense had been playing well all game until they allowed an opening drive touchdown in over time. Matt Hasselbeck is the starting QB until further notice. I think it is the right move. The team has been playing well with him under center. Chris Johnson has also come alive in recent weeks. Tennessee's defense needs to step up here, but they have had problems stopping the air attack all year. I see Brandon Marshall having a field day and the Bears pull out a close one.

Chicago 24  Tennessee 19

Miami Dolphins vs Indianapolis Colts
This may be the most interesting game of the weekend. Two 4-3 teams looking to jump two games over .500 and possibly put themselves in position to make a run at the Wild Card spot. Miami is coming off a big road win at the Jets. When rookie Ryan Tannehill went down with an injury, Matt Moore stepped right in and played just like he did last year. Moore didn't blow people away, but he was a good game manager. The Dolphins defense also played a great game, as did their special teams. I don't really know how good Miami is. They don't have a lot of talent, but they are playing very well as a team. Indianapolis is also coming off a big road win at Tennessee. While Robert Griffin has all the flash, Andrew Luck has the better presence and mechanic tools. I would say he has been a better leader on the field too. The Colts are a more surprising 4-3 to me than Miami. But they have done a good job of surrounding Luck with veterans on offense to help him come along. Miami has shown they can win on the road, going to Cincinnati and New York and picking up wins. Another toss up to me, but I think Indianapolis has more talent. Colts win.

Indianapolis 28  Miami 24

Carolina Panthers vs Washington Redskins
Do you like offensive shootouts? This will probably be the game for you. Cam Newton and Robert Griffin may be the two most athletic quarterbacks in the league. But Cam has been struggling this year. And his maturity has been brought into question as well. Carolina went from being a popular Playoff pick at the beginning of the year to a team that looks like it is about to get blown up. The GM was fired. Coach Ron Rivera may be next at the end of the year. The team just hasn't looked right all year. Washington looks a lot like Carolina did last year. They are over achieving and good be doing better if the defense wasn't so banged up. Robert Griffin is taking risks, and sooner or later it may cost him a few games. Why would Mike Shanahan send Griffin out on a WR pass like that? If the Redskins defense wasn't missing arguably their two best players, they could possibly contend for a Playoff spot. Washington's WRs suffered from a case of the dropsies last week in Pittsburgh. As I said, I fully expect a shootout between these two. But Washington has been the better team all year. I'm picking them here.

Washington 38  Carolina 33

Detroit Lions vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week might have been a season altering win for Detroit. They scored on a late drive against a very good Seattle defense. Matthew Stafford played his best game of the season and Titus Young stepped up big time to fill the shoes of Nate Burleson. The defense still has some holes to fix, but the offense looked much better as a unit. The Lions don't have an easy schedule ahead. They play the Packers twice, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta. This may be the Lions most winnable game left. Jacksonville gave Green Bay everything the could handle but it still wasn't enough to take advantage of a Packers team that was sleep walking through the game. Blaine Gabbert actually played okay, and I would expect him to do well against a suspect Detroit secondary. But I still like Detroit to win here. More talent.

Detroit 31  Jacksonville 23

Buffalo Bills vs Houston Texans
Both of these teams are coming off of bye weeks, but that really won't change the outcome of this game in my opinion. If Mario Williams wrist procedure didn't help him to be more productive, then you have to wonder if he's just taking the money and coasting. And he should also be motivated to play against his former team that supposedly refused to re-sign him. But the Bills offense will have a tough time moving the ball against one of the best defenses in the league. Ryan Fitzpatrick played well against Tennessee, but he also made a terrible mistake throwing a late pick. Buffalo needs to rely on their running back tandem of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. As for the Texans, expect them to just hand off to Arian Foster almost all game. The Bills have the worst run defense in the NFL and Foster could run for almost 200 yards. And when the Bills focus on the run, expect Houston to beat them deep with the play action pass. Houston is just too good of a team for this disappointing Bills team to handle.

Houston 35  Buffalo 21

Minnesota Vikings vs Seattle Seahawks
First I was quick to jump on Arizona's bandwagon, and then that team was taken down by injuries. Next it was Minnesota, and it looks like I may have been too quick to jump on that as well. The Vikings have lost two of their last three games. Nothing is wrong with Adrian Peterson. He still continues to amaze after coming back from his knee injury. The problem is with Christian Ponder and the Vikes passing game. Ponder struggled in both of the teams recent losses and in their win against Arizona. I almost wonder where he would be if he didn't have Percy Harvin making plays for him. The defense was also torn up in both losses. Last week they were shredded by Doug Martin on he ground. Seattle has lost two games in a row to fall to .500. Last week their defense couldn't come up with the big stop they needed to. Seattle should rely on Marshawn Lynch here to carry the load. The Vikings run defense has been gashed in recent weeks. Seattle has the best home field advantage in the NFL, and Christian Ponder can't handle the pressure. Seattle wins here.

Seattle 27  Minnesota 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Oakland Raiders
Tampa has had over a week to get ready for this game and they are coming off their best offensive performance of the year against Minnesota. Doug Martin had the best game of his rookie campaign and Josh Freeman had a game that reminded some people of the great promise he showed a couple of years ago as the Bucs starting QB. I like the way Tampa Bay is playing under Greg Schiano. They are playing with intensity on every snap and have never quit during any game this season. Oakland beat Kansas City last week but it wasn't an impressive performance. Oakland's offense still doesn't do a good job of finishing drives. If it wasn't for Sebastian Janikowski the team would have far less points and might not even be in games. But Oakland's defense still has problems stopping teams. I think Tampa can do exactly what they did to Minnesota last week against Oakland. I like the Bucs here.

Tampa Bay 30  Oakland 26

Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Giants
This is the heavyweight battle of the weekend. Two football teams that have been very good in recent years, all because they have a franchise quarterback leading the team and have a good defense backing them up. Pittsburgh, despite those god awful jerseys, shut down Robert Griffin last week. Pittsburgh has been suffering from injuries on both side of the ball, but they have found a way to win their last two. Even with their revolving door at running back, they still have been able to establish a running game to help take the pressure off of Big Ben. The Giants blew a big lead last week at Dallas and were finger tips away from losing to the Cowboys. The problem last week for the Giants was that they couldn't convert turnovers into touchdowns. They had to settle for field goals when the offense sputtered. But like I have been saying, never bet against Eli Manning. The guy just knows how to win football games. But these last couple weeks have also shown that the Giants could be vulnerable against a good football team, which is what Pittsburgh is. Ben is just as clutch as Eli is. This game may come down to who has the ball last. But like I said, until he proves me wrong, I'm never betting against Eli.

NY Giants 29  Pittsburgh 24

Dallas Cowboys vs Atlanta Falcons
The Cowboys had a couple of opportunities to win late last week against the Giants. But no matter how much we want to praise them for coming back, if they had not gotten in to such a deep hole, they might have won last week. Tony Romo had too many turnovers yet again and that seems to be a problem with him when he faces good defenses this year. It happened against Chicago and it happened here against the Giants. Tony Romo, unlike Eli Manning, has yet to show he can be a clutch QB and perform well under pressure. Romo may not be the answer for this team long term. But would Jerry Jones really draft a rookie QB to start next year? I don't think so. Romo may be in Dallas for another year or two. Atlanta, meanwhile, keeps on trucking along. Their passing attack is the best in the league. It helped the Falcons get out to a lead against Philadelphia. One in which they didn't look back from. But as well as Matt Ryan is playing now, he needs to show he can do it in the Playoffs as well. The Falcons also need to find a way to get Michael Turner going as well. Maybe the wear and tear is finally getting to Turner, but the Falcons running game will be called upon eventually if the passing attack struggles. I don't see Atlanta losing here. Falcons keep on keepin on.

Atlanta 34  Dallas 26

Philadelphia Eagles vs New Orleans Saints
Philadelphia is an explosion waiting to happen. Mike Vick is the QB, then he isn't, then Any Reid says he is sticking with Vick. But if Vick struggles this week against a bad Saints defense, I would not be surprised to see Reid make the switch midway through the game. But I don't think Vick was necessarily the problem last week against Atlanta. The defense but the Eagles in a big hole last week that they couldn't get out of. Is that Mike Vick's fault? I don't think so. Is it Vick's fault that Andy Reid just forgets about LeSean McCoy for the majority of some games? While Vick hasn't been playing his best, it also isn't all on him. I would almost blame Reid more than Vick. The Saints were taken out to the woodshed last week by the Broncos. What worried me the most about last week was that the Saints offense struggled against an average Broncos defense. Interim coach Joe Vitt returned last week and it didn't seem to help. It looked like New Orleans might have been in for a turn around, but last week stopped that momentum. But the good news is they play a very dysfunctional Eagles team at the moment. I think the Saints in here and Philadelphia continues to go into a downward spiral.

New Orleans 28  Philadelphia  23

My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week: 1-3
Year to Date: 15-17

Green Bay -11 vs Arizona: Lets try this again. Cardinals offense may be worse than the Packers.
Tampa Bay +1.5 at Oakland: I like how the Bucs have been playing recently.
Indianapolis +2 vs Miami: I will take the home dog in a close match-up.
Detroit -4 at Jacksonville: Lions season may be on the uptake.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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