Friday, October 28, 2011

Week 8 Picks/Spread

@Tennessee (-8.5) over Indianapolis
- The Colts are bad. As great as Peyton Manning is and as much as he means to this team, he's not a shutdown CB or an elite pass rusher. There is no excuse for how poorly their defense played against New Orleans on Sunday Night. I was tempted to pick the Colts against the 8.5 point spread, but it's hard to do so after that 62-7 showing. CJ finally puts up good numbers in a Titans win. TEN by 10.

New Orleans (-13.5) over @St. Louis
- The Saints have made it very clear that they are one of the best two or three teams in football. Drew Brees is having another tremendous year, and everything else is falling right into place. Whoever is running the ball this week for New Orleans should have a good week; the Rams are coming off a performance in which they allowed DeMarco Murray to run for 253 yards in his first career start. Saints win by 20+ points. Blowout.

@New York Giants (-10) over Miami
- The Giants already blew one game that looked like a safe "lock" of the week when they lost a home game to Seattle. Luckily for them, the Dolphins are a total mess right now. Daniel Thomas has run the ball well even when the numbers haven't suggested the same; I think he might end up having a decent career. Unfortunately, I think the Dolphins will fall behind in this one and be forced to throw the ball. Bad news for Miami. Giants win by 14.

@Carolina (-3.5) over Minnesota
- The Vikings definitely played with a newfound spark last week in Christian Ponder's first career start against the Green Bay Packers. Cam & Co. should be able to move the ball against the Vikes and add to their already gaudy offensive numbers. However, I don't think Newton will be able to control this game, as this seems like an Adrian Peterson kinda day to me. I think this game stays close for a long time. {{Last minute change: I had MIN winning this, but with Antoine Winfield out yet again, I think this is a huge day for Cam/Steve Smith and the Carolina passing attack. Ponder looks good, but Carolina wins by a TD.}}

@Baltimore (-13) over Arizona
- The Ravens' offense played absolutely horrible on Monday against the Jags; I think they'll be the opposite in their game against the Cards on Sunday. Arizona's defense is flat out bad right now; Ray Rice should have a casual 20 point fantasy day, and I'd feel comfortable starting several others on Baltimore's offense in fantasy as well. Kevin Kolb just doesn't do it for me; he just looks lost when he's pressured - not a good sign when you're playing against the Ravens. Baltimore wins by 17+.

@Houston (-9.5) over Jacksonville
- The Texans relied heavily on Arian Foster last week, and it definitely paid off. Foster has shown flashes of his 2010 form in Andre Johnson's absence. The Jags caught me by surprise on Monday by beating the heavily-favored Ravens; however, I think Houston's hire of DC Wade Phillips will pay off Sunday. There aren't more than a handful of defensive minds across the league that have seen more than Wade Phillips. I like the Texans against a Rookie QB. Texans by 14.

@Buffalo (-6) over Washington
- Jabar Gaffney is going to break the record for catches, yards, and touchdowns in a single game against Buffalo. Obviously I'm joking, I just hope he does well because I'm starting him in a couple leagues this week. Despite Santana Moss being out of the lineup, I think John Beck will be able to move the ball against the Bills. I think this could be closer than the spread, but I'll take Buffalo. Just because. BUF by 7.

 Detroit (-3) over @Denver
- It looks like Matt Stafford will be able to start on Sunday against the Broncos; if it turns out that he's inactive, I think I'd jump on the Tebow bandwagon for the 2nd consecutive week. Provided Stafford is in the lineup, I love the matchup for Detroit's passing attack. The Lions are coming off two straight losses, and I think they're hungry for a much-needed win this week. No Tebow magic this week for Denver; Detroit covers easily, wins by 17.

New England (-3) over @Pittsburgh
- Brady has always been great against the Steelers, and I see no reason to think that won't continue on Sunday. The Steelers are fortunate to have the 5-2 record that they do; they've struggled in several areas this year. I'm excited to see this game because I think both of these teams are playoff-bound, and I think it'll be somewhat of a shoot-out. Sounds like Hines Ward might be out, but I don't think the Steelers will flinch with Emmanuel Sanders seeing increased time. End of the day, I like New England by 6.

@San Francisco (-8.5) over Cleveland
- I think the 49ers are in it for the long haul, especially in the ultra-week NFC West. At the end of the year, I wouldn't be at all surprised if San Fran earned a first round bye thanks to an NFC West-influenced Win/Loss record. The Browns have played very poorly on offense, and the 49ers boast one of the top defensive units in the league. May be an ugly game, but the 49ers win by 10.

@Seattle over Cincinnati (-3)
(Straight up: Seattle) - The Seahawks always seem to play well at home, and the Bengals aren't as good as their 4-2 record would indicate. Cincy will be without their top RB as Cedric Benson will serve a one-game suspension this week. I think the Seahawks make one more play than the Bengals in an ugly game; Seattle wins by 3.

@Philadelphia (-3.5) over Dallas
- Andy Reid doesn't lose games coming off the Bye Week. I'm tempted to pick Dallas because I could see Rob Ryan devising a plan to frustrate and confuse Mike Vick, but I think the Eagles will play with a little more urgency in this one. At 2-4, the Eagles need to turn things around quickly if they want to make the Playoffs. It'll be interesting to see how DeMarco Murray does following his 253 explosion last week. I like Philly in a close one: 28-24.

Monday Night (6-2) :
San Diego (-3.5) over @Kansas City
- The Chargers will probably lose this game. The more I look at it, the more I can see this being another let-down for San Diego. But I'm rolling with it anyways because I picked the Chargers to go to the Super Bowl this year. Rivers has not looked like himself yet this year, but he's due for an explosion pretty soon. For the sake of my Super Bowl pick, I'm gonna say the Chargers make a statement this week. Rivers plays his best game yet, and the Chargers win by 14 on the road at KC.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Tebow-Mania" ... Enough.

Unbelievable. Tim Tebow, through three quarters, mustered up a meager 24 yards through the air in Miami on Sunday. Pete Prisco, a writer for CBS, tweeted that he couldn't believe Josh McDaniels wasted a 1st Round pick on Tebow. Numerous writers had an abundance of negative things to say regarding Tebow's performance through three quarters; he wasn't making plays.

Personally, I even joked during the game that while usually I'd rather watch any single NFL game rather than any other major sporting event, in this instance, I'd rather watch Pro Bowling instead of Miami vs. Denver.

However, down 15 points in the 4th quarter, Tebow led the Broncos to an unlikely comeback win with under three minutes to play. You could see this coming. I picked Denver to win this game because I knew it'd be an ugly game, as both Offenses are less than stellar - to say the least. If Tebow has a fighting chance to win an ugly game late, he finds a way to do so. And he did, yet again.

"Tebow-Mania" is unlike any situation I've ever seen surrounding any single player. After a win like this, Tebow backers will come out of the woodwork with the "I told you so" approach, and immediately turn to the "this guy is a winner" reasoning. One good thing I'll say about Tebow is that there's definitely something about him that his teammates rally around; he gives his teammates real hope whenever he's on the field. Down late in a game, Tebow and his teammates won't flinch because they've seen him pull off the impossible before.

However, what really bothers me about Tebow is when he wins games or does absolutely anything positive, it's the biggest news in the sports world. I understand that this guy was college football's "golden boy" for four years and in a world where players always seem to find trouble off the field, Tebow represents exactly what you want your team leader's image to be. But based on what we saw from Tebow on the field, this should be merely a side story from Week 7 of the NFL season.

On Sunday, we saw two Quarterbacks play almost flawless football; Aaron Rodgers scorched the Vikings, and Drew Brees carved up the Colts. In the first half, Rodgers had three incompletions - two blatant drops and a spike to stop the clock. Drew Brees finished his game against Indianapolis with as many touchdown passes (5) as incompletions. Each player had a passer rating of well over 100, and both are averaging well over 300 yards per game through 7 contests.

Why is it that Tim Tebow is a bigger story than either of the two aforementioned passers? It doesn't make any sense. Tebow led his (previously) 1-4 Broncos to a frantic, comeback win over the (previously) 0-6 Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins, who haven't played well all season, are currently playing with their backup QB Matt Moore. Tim Tebow beat Matt Moore in Overtime. Period. Congratulations Tebow, I respect the comeback win. But seriously people, be a realist and take this game for what it's worth - one bad team beat another bad team. Enough said.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

UW-MSU: The Aftermath

Wow. What. A. Game.

First of all, despite the fact that I'm a Badger fan, I acknowledge the fact that Michigan State outplayed Wisconsin tonight. In my opinion, the Badgers are still a better overall team than Michigan State is. Tonight, however, was a different story; the offense turned the ball over, and UW's suspect secondary displayed horrible tackling and were outmatched by Cunningham, Martin and the MSU receiving corps.

MSU won and UW lost, I get it. There are just a couple things that bother me about how that game played out. My Facebook and Twitter feed(s) are blowing up with ridiculous claims and/or blame regarding the ending of that game. I just want to get a few things off my chest...

#1 - Yes, I think that was a TD on the game-ending Hail Mary. However, when it's called short of the goal-line on the field, and the replay shows that the play is as close as it was, then I think you need to let the players settle the outcome in OT. If you're an official, don't use a judgment call to determine a game of that magnitude. Let the players decide the game.

#2 - On that game-winning drive, the officials missed a blatant false start on MSU's Left Tackle - on the shovel pass. It was clear as day. If you watched the game, you probably know what play I'm talking about. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch the replay, you'll know.

#3 - Now that UW lost the way they did, it's really easy to second guess Brett Bielema's use of his Timeouts on the last MSU drive. It appeared as if the Spartans were content with taking the 31-31 game into Overtime, but Bielema got greedy and wanted the ball back in regulation. Unfortunately, It came back to bite him, as it allowed MSU to get more aggressive in their play-calling, and ultimately, Sparty had enough time to win the game in regulation.

#4 - (This is what bothers me the most.) Michigan State DE William Gholston missed the game due to being suspended for dirty play against Michigan. The Spartans committed 13 penalties last week against the Wolverines, and weren't penalized ONCE against the Badgers this week. You're telling me that the dirtiest team in the Big Ten, arguably one of the dirtiest in the entire country, cleaned up their game that much in one week? Highly doubtful. Judging by the extra-curricular trash-talking and post-whistle shoving from MSU, I find it hard to believe that the Spartans played penalty-free football in this game.

I don't want to sound bitter. Frankly, it's almost Sunday so my mind is already on the Packers and the NFL; however, to lose this way hurts. Wisconsin just made too many mistakes to beat a good team. Generally, you can't expect to win a game in which you allow a FG to get blocked, as well as allowing a blocked punt for a TD.

Michigan State was the better team tonight, but I firmly believe UW will run the table from here, beat MSU in the B1G Championship, and advance to yet another Rose Bowl. On Wisconsin.

Wisconsin vs. Michigan State

In my opinion, this is the toughest game on the schedule for the Badgers. I'm worried because it seems like Bucky never plays well in East Lansing, and the Spartans have a stellar defense once again. Wisconsin is a good enough team to run the table in the Big Ten behind their elite running game and stud QB Russell Wilson.

As impressive as the Badgers have been so far this year, I'm still not convinced that the Defense is very good. If they fail to get pressure on the QB, Wisconsin's average D-Backs will be tested by Michigan State's passing attack. The Spartans are a pretty complete team on Offense; they will beat some good teams this year no doubt.

Ultimately, I don't think Michigan State will be able to contain all of Wisconsin's offensive weapons, nor will they be able to match points with the Badgers. Wisconsin should be favored in every game from here on out, but tonight should be the team's toughest remaining game. I think the Spartans will do a solid job slowing down Bucky's running game, but the matchup will come down to the Quarterback battle. Russell Wilson over Kirk Cousins ends up being the difference in this game.

Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 27.
-- Russell Wilson (UW) : 280 Pass Yards, 3 TD 1 INT
-- Kirk Cousins (MSU) : 250 Pass Yards, 2 TD 1 INT

Week 7 Picks/Spread

@Cleveland (-3) over Seattle
- The Browns may be without Peyton Hillis in this one, but I like Cleveland playing at home against a poor Seattle team. There are definitely arguments to be made in Seattle's favor here: they're coming off their bye week, which followed their road win over the NY Giants. I see the McCoy-to-Greg Little relationship continuing to develop this week for the Browns; Cleveland wins by a TD.

@Detroit (-3.5) over Atlanta
- Jim Schwartz, while he may or may not have acted like a child last week, usually has his guys pretty fired up. Coming off a tough home loss to San Fran, the Lions will be hungry in this one. I could definitely see the Falcons winning this game, these teams are relatively evenly matched... I just trust Detroit to play more consistent football, whereas Atlanta has been hit-or-miss this year. Stafford 4 TD, Johnson 2 TD - Lions win by TD.

Houston over @Tennessee (-3)
(Straight up: Houston) - Without Andre Johnson on the field, it's no secret that the Texans lose a lot. The Titans are quietly putting themselves in prime position to push for the AFC South title; they suffered a tough loss when Kenny Britt was lost for the year to injury, but the Defense has been among the league's best. I think the Texans still have enough on offense to outscore the Titans. I think this will be one of the best games played on Sunday - I like Houston in a real close one.

Denver over @Miami (-2)
(Straight up: Denver) - Tim Tebow has been consistent when he's gotten the chance to start in the NFL; he beats bad teams. He finds a way to win ugly football games against weak competition; the Dolphins are struggling in many different areas, and Denver will get a little spark from Reverend Tim Tebow. I'm counting on Daniel Thomas to have a big game for Miami, but I don't think it's enough. Tebow comes from behind, and he finds a way to win this one 24-23.

San Diego (-2) over @NY Jets
- I want to pick the Jets really bad. The Chargers are traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast and playing the early game on Sunday...? At first glance, it looks like a sure win for the Jets. However, the Jets Defense simply hasn't been what it has been in recent years. Ryan Mathews should have a huge game in this one, as the Jets haven't been able to stop many teams from running the ball. Chargers win this one; it's close, but the Jets just can't quite match points with San Diego.

Chicago (-1) over Tampa Bay
- I feel like this is going to be kind of an ugly, back-and-forth game. Though I'm a Josh Freeman guy, I think Chicago's Defense will really frustrate him this week. If Freeman doesn't turn the ball over, I think Tampa wins; but, ultimately I feel like Chicago will force Freeman into a couple costly mistakes. I like both RBs (Matt Forte and Earnest Graham) in this one, but Chicago wins this game 20-16.

Washington over @Carolina (-2.5)
(Straight up: Washington) - This is a very winnable game for Carolina, but Washington is a better overall team. The Redskins had every opportunity in the world to win their game last week against Philly, but Rex Grossman was Rex Grossman. Four costly interceptions later, the Redskins suffered the loss. I think John Beck has a decent game here; something like 250 yards and 2 TD. Washington holds Cam to an average game; WSH wins 27-24

@Oakland (-4.5) over Kansas City
- The Raiders, Carson Palmer or not, are a much better team than the Chiefs. Darren McFadden will run all over this Defense no matter who is handing him the ball. It will be interesting to see how Palmer performs if he's given the opportunity to start or play. The Chiefs are in the midst of what's sure to be a very long year. Raiders win by 10.

@Arizona over Pittsburgh (-3.5)
(Straight up: Arizona) - Jerry Rice picked the Steelers over Cardinals as his "lock" for the week. I really don't see this at all. The Steelers are susceptible to spread air attacks. I'm not a huge believer in Kevin Kolb, but I think Arizona will play well coming off their Bye Week. The Steelers have won the games they've needed to win so far, but they were unimpressive in a win over Jacksonville last week. I'm going with the Cardinals in this one, they win a close game.

@Dallas (-13) over St. Louis
- If A.J. Feeley starts for the Rams, I think this will turn into an absolute blowout for the Cowboys. If Sam Bradford is able to start, it may stay close for a while depending on turnovers. If the ball would have taken a couple different bounces, Dallas might be undefeated at this point. DeMarco Murray steps right into Felix Jones's spot and plays well; I really like everyone on the Dallas Offense in this game - Cowboys win easily.

Green Bay (-9) over @Minnesota
- Antoine Winfield was listed as Doubtful on the injury report on Friday. This is very bad news for the Vikings with Aaron Rodgers & Co. coming to town. Rodgers should go for about 350 and 3 in this game. Backup LT Marshall Newhouse has a big test this week in the form of Jared Allen. As long as Rodgers can continue to get the ball out quick, and the O-Line can give him time, it should be a long day for Minnesota's secondary. Packers 31, Vikings 17.

Indianapolis over @New Orleans (-14)
(Straight up: New Orleans) - I'm picking the Colts against the spread; I just think Indy's pass rush is good enough to give the Saints some problems on Offense. New Orleans should win this game pretty easily without question, but this is the NFL and a 14 point spread is a pretty wide margin to have between any two teams. The Saints' Defense hasn't been very good all year; I think Indianapolis will manage to put enough points on the board to cover. Saints 30, Colts 17.

Monday Night (6-1) :
Baltimore (-8) over @Jacksonville
- Plain and simple: the Ravens are a much better team than the Jaguars. Baltimore should be able to move the ball in the air or on the ground against Jacksonville; they're simply a more talented team. I like Flacco, I like Rice, I like pretty much anyone involved in the Ravens' Offense for Fantasy this week. Not much to say, Ravens win this one 27-13.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A.J. Hawk: One-Finger Salute

A.J. Hawk was caught on camera flashing the middle finger in the direction of the Packers' sideline. Hawk explained after the game that it was a some sort of joke with some teammates. Skip Bayless (who else) said on First Take that A.J. Hawk should be suspended for the gesture. Why? Who cares? The play was clearly towards his own sideline; therefore, it very likely had no malicious content whatsoever.

I obviously don't know this to be true, but I imagine it was something like this: (Pregame)

(Insert teammate) (jokingly) - "A.J. you never make the big play. No sacks, nothin'."

Hawk - F*$# you (Insert teammate), I'll show you today."

A.J. goes on to sack Sam Braford in the 2nd quarter, and as he's pointing at the sideline, he clearly seeks out the attention of somebody in particular on the sideline. It's a joke between teammates, nothing more. I'm sure he'll get fined by the league for this, because it was as clear as day on TV that Hawk threw up the middle finger; whereas, in the Harbaugh-Schwartz exchange it's not clear exactly who said what. A fine in this situation is what it is; it's fine. But suggesting a suspension for this is ridiculous.

The Packers are 6-0 and their Quarterback is playing almost perfect football; people are just running out of bad things to say about this team.

Harbaugh-Schwartz: "Handshake-Gate"

First of all, I think it's a little disappointing that we're at a time in which a post-game exchange between two head coaches overshadows San Francisco's road win over previously undefeated Detroit. The 49ers came into Detroit and got a big win over the Lions, who were riding high after their primetime win over Chicago on Monday Night.

I can somewhat understand the angle from both Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz in this situation. The buzz out of Detroit has been louder than ever. For Jim Harbaugh to come into Detroit and get a road win of this magnitude in his 6th game as an NFL Head Coach certainly merits a high level of excitement. Did Harbaugh cross some sort of un-drawn line between contained excitement and over-the-top exuberance? Possibly.

But just as @zheilprin tweeted, "Isn't Jim Schwartz the guy who does that fist pump after every win? You'd think he'd understand a coach being a little fired up after a win"

I completely agree with this tweet. You can most certainly bet that if the Lions had won this game and improved to 6-0, Schwartz would have done his little "fist pump" routine prior to running over and exchanging words with Harbaugh. While a fist pump isn't the same thing as Harbaugh's child-at-Chuck E. Cheese-like, albeit belly-exposing celebration, Schwartz needs to understand a coach being fired up after a win like that. Schwartz's Lions may have been 5-0 prior to this game, but he went 2-14 in his first year and 6-10 in his second. While it may have been an improvement over Rod Marinell's Lions, it isn't like Schwartz doesn't know what losing feels like...

I think what we saw after this game was the clear, black and white separation between the winning coach and the losing coach. Obviously in the NFL, the winning coach is excited and the losing coach is upset, sometimes crushed. By losing in this fashion, on a late TD drive by San Fran, Schwartz was obviously crushed.

Like I said, Harbaugh could have toned it down and waited until he got into the locker room to celebrate like a child, but honestly, why should he? His players were surely just as excited as he was, why should a head coach have to follow a certain code to contain his excitement? He's an excitable guy who's proud and passionate about his football team. Little skirmishes and ego clashes happen between the whistles on the field all the time; let's not allow a handshake after the whistle overshadow what happened on the field Sunday... The 49ers won a big game. Period.

(Here's the video, if you haven't seen already: )

Friday, October 14, 2011

Week 6 Picks/Spread

Carolina over @Atlanta (-4)
(Straight up: Carolina) - This is a tough one to pick. While both Offenses have big scoring potential, there aren't too many good things to say about either team's defense. The Falcons were picked apart by the Packers at home last Sunday in primetime, and the Panthers fell just short of upsetting the Saints. I took the Panthers +4 in my Pick 'Em against the spread because I think it'll be a 3 point game either way. I'm taking Carolina just because.

Indianapolis over @Cincinnati (-7)
(Straight up: Indianapolis) - The Colts, for what it's worth, have been better on Offense since Painter took over at QB. I get the feeling Cincinnati is going to be in a lot of ugly, competitive games this year; it looks like they have a 8-8 defense and a 4-12 Offense. Dalton has continued to play well as a rookie for the Bengals, but I'm going with the Colts with 7 points in this one.

@Detroit (-4.5) over San Francisco
- The Lions are a hot offense right now, and their defense has passed all tests through five games. I wouldn't be shocked if they lost this game on a short week and against a solid 49ers team, but I like Detroit in this one. San Fran has played quite well on defense so far this season, but I think the way to beat the 49ers is to spread them out and throw on them. I'm going with a heavy dose of Stafford to Johnson & Co. in this one. Alex Smith will be without 2 of his top 3 WR's in this game, Braylon Edwards and Josh Morgan. Detroit puts up too many points for San Fran, I'll take the Lions by a TD.

@Green Bay (-15) over St. Louis
- The top three Cornerbacks on the Rams' roster are on Injured Reserve; Enter Aaron Rodgers, who is on pace to throw for 5,500+ yards and 40+ TD. Al Harris may get the start at CB in his return to Lambeau as a St. Louis Ram, and Green Bay training camp cut Josh Gordy will be either the Nickel or Dime CB. Unless Steven Jackson can take over this game for St. Louis and control the clock, the Packers should explode on Offense. Weirder things have happened in the NFL, but this one shouldn't be close. Pack 41, Rams 16.

Buffalo over @New York Giants (-3)
(Straight up: Buffalo) - I said last week that the Giants weren't as good as their (then) 3-1 record, and I think they'll fall to .500 this week. The Giants lost at home last week to the Seattle Seahawks - I think that's pretty telling. I don't think the Bills will have much trouble moving the ball against New York's defense. Buffalo's defense, however, has been quite opportunistic this year; they've picked off Mike Vick and Tom Brady 4 times apiece in games this year. Since I don't have much faith in Eli Manning despite a fast start this year, I'm taking Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills. Buffalo by 3.

@Pittsburgh (-12) over Jacksonville
- The Steelers may have played their best game of the year last week against Tennessee. Another game they should win at home, I think Pittsburgh wins this one easily. Teams that can rush the QB will continue to give the Steelers problems, but Jacksonville struggles at getting after the passer. The Jags will have a tough time winning games this year unless Maurice Jones-Drew can put the team on his back and control the clock. Steelers win easily.

@Washington over Philadelphia (-1.5)
(Straight up: Washington) - The Dream Team is 1-4. Who saw that one coming? Surprisingly to me, the Redskins have moved the ball pretty consistently this year and their defense has been even better. For the second straight week, Philadelphia will be without their starting LT Jason Peters. Vick has struggled against teams with a good pass rush this year, and I think Washington will generate enough pressure to frustrate Vick in this one. The Redskins will control the clock by way of Ryan Torain, Tim Hightower, or whoever the Skins' lead back is this week. WSH by a FG.

@Oakland (-6.5) over Cleveland
- The Raiders are playing some good, consistent football this year. They use a similar recipe as the New York Jets (when the Jets were good) and I'm starting to think that's going to continue. D-Mac will run right through the Cleveland's defense; I wouldn't be surprised to see him end up over 150. For Cleveland, I have a good feeling about WR Greg Little this week in his first NFL start. Raiders win by 10.

Houston over @Baltimore (-7.5)
(Straight up: Baltimore) - Although I like them to win, I don't think Baltimore is 8 points better than Houston. The Texans, even without Andre Johnson, should be able to pass the ball enough to give themselves a good balance to their solid ground game. Baltimore should have a pretty good day offensively behind a heavy dose of Ray Rice. I see this as a close game, but I'll take Baltimore - something like 27-24.

Dallas over @New England (-7)
(Straight up: Dallas) - This is my gut feeling. I'm sticking with the Cowboys this year until the lights finally go out on their season. Dallas is a very talented team and as long as the Romo-Coaster is running smoothly, the Cowboys will win their share of games. The Patriots haven't been able to stop many teams from scoring this year, and I think Dallas should put up around 30 in this one. I think Rob Ryan's defense finds a way to slow down Tom Brady just enough to win this game. I see this being the game of the week - Dallas wins in Foxboro by a point.

New Orleans (-4.5) over @Tampa Bay
- The Saints will put up a lot of points every week. If your offense isn't capable of matching points with the New Orleans offense, you're in a lot of trouble. Tampa Bay has been unimpressive thus far, and don't appear to be as good as their 3-2 record. As a Mike Williams owner, I've been quite disappointed so far, but I'm sticking with him for one more week. This is a good matchup for him, as they'll likely need to throw the ball often to compete with the Saints, so we'll see how that goes. Josh Freeman seems to be throwing checkdown after checkdown, and the team is without LeGarrette Blount this week. That's not a good sign going against New Orleans. Saints win by 7.

@Chicago (-3) over Minnesota
- I'm worried for Jay Cutler's life in this one, as he's going up against Jared Allen and his league-leading 8.5 sacks. That, along with a likely big game from Adrian Peterson, gives me a slight inclination to go with the Vikings. However, I think eventually the difference comes down to Donovan McNabb vs. Jay Cutler. It's not everyday that I give the Bears the edge at QB, but this is one of those rare cases. McNabb simply isn't very good right now. Bears win a close game.

Monday Night (5-1) :
@New York Jets (-7) over Miami
- While I don't really like what the Jets are doing right now, they're simply a better team than the Miami Dolphins. I think Miami will use RB Daniel Thomas a lot in this game and try to expose the Jets' poor run defense. I like Dustin Keller and anything that ventures into the middle of the field against the Dolphins' safeties. The Jets, by way of Darrelle Revis, have the ability to shut down Miami's biggest weapon, Brandon Marshall. The Jets win by 10.

Week 6 Lock: Oakland over Cleveland

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week 5 Picks: Results

Correct; Incorrect vs. Spread

Philadelphia (-2.5) over @Buffalo
@Indianapolis over (-2.5) Kansas City
Arizona over @Minnesota (-2.5)
@NY Giants (-10) over Seattle
@Pittsburgh (-3) over Tennessee
New Orleans (-6.5) over @Carolina
Cincinnati over @Jacksonville (-2.5)
Oakland over @Houston (-6)
@San Francisco (-3) over Tampa Bay
San Diego (-4) over @Denver
@New England (-9) over NY Jets*
Green Bay (-6) over @Atlanta

Monday Night (5-1) :
Chicago over @Detroit (-5.5)

Week 5 Record: 8-5
vs. Spread: 6-6-1

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Week 5 Picks/Spread

Philadelphia (-2.5) over @Buffalo
- The Eagles are among the most disappointing teams in the league thus far; The Dream Team has been more of a nightmare through 4 games. I think Philly will score at will on Buffalo's shaky Defense, but the Bills have enough on Offense to keep it close. Eagles win a close one.

@Indianapolis (-2.5) over Kansas City
- In their Monday Night matchup against Tampa, Indy looked a little better on Offense with Curtis Painter under center. The core of this team has been dismantled by injuries, but fortunately the Chiefs are a beatable team for the Colts. Colts win a close, ugly game.

Arizona over @Minnesota (-2.5)
Straight up: Arizona - I've put too much faith in the Vikings lately. I don't think their 0-4 record adequately reflects the talent level on their roster. However, after blowing so many leads this year I have to go with the hungry Arizona Cardinals coming off a controversial loss to the Giants. Minnesota plays them tough, but Arizona wins by a FG.

@NY Giants (-10) over Seattle
- This is my survivor pick of the week; I'm not fully aboard the Giants bandwagon, but I just can't see the lowly Seahawks traveling all the way from Washington state to New York and then beating the Giants. Big game from Hakeem Nicks, New York wins by 2 TD.

@Pittsburgh (-3) over Tennessee
- With James Harrison out and Rashard Mendenhall likely out as well, the Steelers better not take the Titans lightly this week. This was a tough game to pick because I'm not very high on Pitt right now, and Tennessee's playing well. Pitt's tough to beat at home though, and that was the deciding factor. Isaac Redman should have a productive day if Mendenhall doesn't go, PIT by 7.

New Orleans (-6.5) over @Carolina
- I said last week that Atlanta better be aware of a potential upset at Seattle, and they barely escaped with a 30-28 win. This game feels similar to me. I'm going with the Saints like I went with the Falcons, but I think Carolina has enough on Offense to give New Orleans a competitive game. Saints win by 7.

Cincinnati over @Jacksonville (-2.5)
Straight up: Cincinnati - This has more to do with how poor Jacksonville is on offense than it has to do with how good the Bengals may be. With that said, I've been impressed with Andy Dalton as a rookie starting QB. This is going to be an ugly game between these two sluggish Offenses, but I like the Bengals by a TD.

Oakland over @Houston (-6)
Straight up: Oakland - The Raiders catch a break by seeing the Texans in their first game without Andre Johnson in the lineup. R.I.P. Al Davis; it's easy to make an Al Davis joke about his personnel decisions within the past decade, but he did a lot of good for the Raiders organization. Oakland's a good enough team to push for a Wild Card this year. Raiders run all over the Texans; they win this game in Houston.

@San Francisco (-3) over Tampa Bay
- The 49ers are quietly 3-1 and having a pretty solid season. Tampa Bay won in not-so-impressive fashion on Monday Night against Indianapolis. In this one, the Bucs will have to play a lot better against a legit 49ers' Defense. Even though he's been slightly disappointing in the league so far, I have a good feeling about Michael Crabtree in this one. San Fran has just enough on Offense to win this game, 49ers win by 6.

San Diego (-4) over @Denver
- I considered the Chargers as my Week 5 survivor pick, but I'm trying to hold off on them until later in the year because they always seem to blow a game they should win early in the season. Denver's defense just isn't good by any stretch of the imagination, and the Chargers are capable of putting up a lot of points on anyone. Big days from Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews, Chargers-35 over Broncos-24.

NY Jets over @New England (-9)
Straight up: New England - With Nick Mangold back in the lineup for the Jets and with Jerod Mayo out of the lineup for the Pats, I think Gang Green will be able to consistently move the ball on New England. The Jets have a good enough Defense to slow down the Pats' passing attack. I like the Pats to win, but I'll take the Jets to cover the spread. NE-27, NYJ-23.

Green Bay (-6) over @Atlanta
- From a fantasy standpoint, I like everyone involved the Passing Game for either team in this one. I think either Roddy White or Julio Jones will have a huge day, as the Falcons will be throwing the ball to keep pace with the Pack's Offense. Green Bay has too many weapons for the Falcons to completely stop; as much as Atlanta may think they're at the Packers' level, I completely disagree. Pack wins this one by a TD. Pack 34, Falcons 27.

Chicago over @Detroit (-5.5)
Straight up: Chicago - I'm really excited for this game. Detroit finally has a home game on Monday Night Football and they're 4-0 at the time, hosting the defending NFC North champion Bears. I think the Lions are much more of a legit threat in the NFC than the Bears are, but I think Detroit's Offense will be held back just a little by a stingy Bears Defense. Chicago makes you work for your points, so the explosive plays may not come easy. In a great game, I like CHI to win 27-26.

Week 5 Lock: NY Giants over Seattle

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wisconsin - You Said it All.

The fine state of Wisconsin is about to explode.

How? The current, never-before-seen level of success among the state's athletic teams.

Wisconsin boasts the defending Super Bowl Champion, and 13-time World Champion, Green Bay Packers. The team appears stronger thus far in 2011 than they were at any point in the 2010 regular season. Through four games, QB Aaron Rodgers hasn't missed a step following his MVP performance in Super Bowl XLV. Rodgers has thrown 12 TD passes compared to just 2 INT, putting him on pace for 48 TD and only 8 INT in a full season. This team has leadership all over the field. Rodgers, Jennings, Woodson, Driver, and others act as a set of on-field eyes for Coach McCarthy. One of just two remaining undefeated teams in the league, the Pack is back and looking towards a repeat run to the Super Bowl.

At the college football level, the Wisconsin Badgers are being mentioned as a dark-horse National Championship contender. What more can you say about QB Russell Wilson? The guy has played 2 games as a Badger, and already has 2 athletic apparel companies named after him. Bucky had a high profile matchup on Saturday at Camp Randall against Nebraska; a 48-17 thrashing of the Huskers leaves little doubt as to who the better team is. UW has a better QB than they've ever had before, and perhaps a more confident team than they've had during their recent Rose Bowl runs... Anything short of a Rose Bowl would be a disappointment, and a potential National Championship appearance is a legitimate possibility.

And last, but certainly not least, the Milwaukee Brewers. Fear. The. Beer. The Brew Crew have jumped out to a 2-0 lead in their NLDS matchup against the Diamondbacks, and they look to complete the series sweep tonight in Arizona. Is there a more likable team in baseball than Milwaukee? The Brewers feature several big name players, but it's the under-the-radar acquisitions of Doug Melvin that may lead this team back to the World Series. Not many people across the baseball world had much to say about Milwaukee's mid-season acquisitions of Jerry Hairston Jr. and Nyjer Morgan. Hairston has been a huge improvement over Casey McGehee in the field, while Nyjer "Tony Plush" Morgan instantly became a fan favorite in Milwaukee. While there are several deserving candidates for NL MVP, all voters should quit their job if they choose anyone other than Milwaukee LF Ryan Braun. Braun and Prince Fielder are the engine that keeps the Brewers' offense going, while the pitching rotation has been consistenly good throughout the year. In my (somewhat biased) opinion, Milwaukee has enough balance between pitching and hitting to be the National League's representative in the World Series. This team is special.

It's a great time to be a supporter of Wisconsin sports. Across the world of professional sports, you'll see several cities that consistently see their teams win Championships. In the last 10 years, the city of Boston has seen 3 Super Bowls (Patriots), 2 World Series Championships (Red Sox), a Stanley Cup (Bruins), and an NBA Championship (Celtics.) That's seven championships in four major sports in the past decade. While I'm not complaining that the Big Bad Boston market has an unfair advantage over the smaller-market teams from Wisconsin, it's certainly fun to see such a high level of success among teams representing Sconnie. Nowhere else in the country is there a more unique sports story than there is currently in early October in Wisconsin. So... On Wisconsin, Feer the Beer, and Go Pack Go - Wisconsin is the Sports Capital of America.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week 4 Picks: Results

Correct; incorrect vs. spread

@Chicago (-6.5) over Carolina
Buffalo (-3) over @Cincinnati
Tennessee over @Cleveland (-1.5)
@Dallas (-1.5) over Detroit
Minnesota (-1.5) over @Kansas City
Washington (-1.5) over @St.Louis
@Philadelphia (-8.5) over San Francisco
New Orleans (-7) over @Jacksonville
@Houston (-4) over Pittsburgh
@Arizona over New York Giants (-1.5)
Atlanta (-4.5) over @Seattle
@Green Bay (-12.5) over Denver
New England (-4.5) over @Oakland
@San Diego (-7) over Miami
@Baltimore (-3.5) over New York Jets

Monday Night (5-0) :
@Tampa Bay (-10) over Indianapolis

Week 4 Record: 11-5
vs. Spread: 8-8

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Pack Prediction: GB 34 DEN 16

One of my buddies is a big Chicago Bears fan, so every week I send him my prediction for the Packer game and the Bear game. Last week I nailed the final score (27-17), as well as a couple statistics. (I always try to predict the numbers for both QBs in each game.)

As far as the "good guys" go, I don't think the Broncos stand a chance today. As far as Da Bears go, I want to pick them as my "lock of the week" but I just can't do it with how poorly the Offensive Line has been playing. I also wouldn't be shocked if Cam Newton came out and laid an egg against a Defense that will make him be patient.

GB/CHI Predictions: 6-0 on the year (inc. head-to-head)

Packers 34 > Broncos 16
-- Rodgers: 305 Yards; 2 TD, 0 INT (TDs to Nelson, Finley)
-- Orton: 240 Yards; 1 TD, 2 INT (TD Decker, Picks by Peprah,
-- Starks: 110 Total Yards, 2 TD.

* The Broncos may keep it relatively close early, but eventually the superior team (Green Bay) will outshine Denver. Kyle Orton will likely be forced to try to lead his team from a large deficit, and the Pack will be able to pin their ears back and put Orton under pressure. While I like Jermichael Finley to have yet another huge impact today, it's almost unfair to single him out since he has a big game every week. As far as my X-Factor in this one, I like James Starks a lot in this game. I think he may find the endzone multiple times in the absence of Ryan Grant. Rodgers should put up big numbers against a Denver secondary that gave up 300+ yards to rookie QB Andy Dalton and aging QB Matt Hasselbeck. I expect a big first half for the Packers' QB, but a big lead will lead to a heavy dose of James Starks and the running game in the 2nd half. Pack wins this one easily.

Bears 27 > Panthers 20
-- Cutler: 275 Yards; 2 TD, 1 INT (TDs to Knox, Hester, Pick by Godfrey)
-- Newton: 260 Yards; 1 TD, 2 INT (TD Olsen, Picks by Jennings, Briggs)
-- Forte: 130 Total Yards, 1 TD