I know, I know…this is late, and there’s no intro. I’m sorry…
Let’s get right to it.
Bye, Bye, Bye
Browns, Packers, Native Americans, Cardinals
Sunday Games, 1:00 p.m.
Chargers (4-4, won v. Chiefs) vs. Buccaneers (4-4, won v. Raiders)
Both of these teams are coming off of nice and easy, ego-boosting wins. The Chargers probably need this game more, as it’s still conceivable that they could seize this very soft division. However, both could make the playoffs if the chips fall right. Given how tough Tampa Bay’s defense could be–we are talking about the team that almost beat down the Giants earlier this season–they could prove to be a difficult match-up for San Diego, especially given how easy it can be to rattle Philip Rivers. This may be the key. I’m going to go with the Bucs by a possession and a half.
Titans (3-6, lost v. Bears) vs. Dolphins (4-4, lost v. Colts)
The Titans are just wretched. If it wasn’t for Matt Hasselbeck, I could easily see Tennessee being 1-8 like fellow AFC South bottom feeders the Gerbils. Hell, if it wasn’t for Hasselbeck, there would be no hope in Music City.
On the other hand…the Dolphins continue to move in the right direction, even with the loss to Indianapolis last week. I would not be surprised if Miami manages to steal a win away from the ailing Sucking Black Hole of Evil in their two tilts in the coming weeks. They’re well coached, they’re exciting to watch, and their tendency to switch up defensive looks really puts opponents back on their heels. This is a terribly lopsided contest, so expect Miami to net the win by two possessions.
Our Bitch (3-5, lost v. Texans) vs. The Sucking Black Hole of Evil (5-3, Bye Week)
You know, as wretched as Our Bitch is, they have a history of giving The Sucking Black Hole of Evil a black eye. Of course, usually those games were ones where people like Drew Bledsoe was their quarterback and not Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is a goof. As much as I am hoping for one of these massive, jaw-dropping upsets, I cannot think that this is going to be a massacre, and the Sucking Black Hole advances one more step toward their inevitable AFC East Division Championship by three or more possessions.
Raiders (3-5, lost v. Bucs) vs. Ravens (6-2, won v. Browns)
You know what’s interesting? The Ravens are now what the Raiders used to be–a slightly disreputable team that still seems to bust up their opponents and reach the playoffs through a very nasty defense. Of course, the problem now is that Oakland has become a total mess where every time there seems to be some hope that they’ll dig themselves out of the Culture of Losing, the team gets blown up yet again by the front office, and Baltimore…isn’t. Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here.
I can’t possibly see the Raiders taking this, unless the Marlboro Man and The Wall O’ Pain that is the Ravens Defense decides to underplay thanks to Oakland’s surprise decimation of the Steelers. As with the usual way with this iteration of the Silver and Black, expect there to be some brief moments where it looks like Carson Palmer will pull off a win, only to let things get away from him and the Ravens snatching victory by two possessions.
Broncos (5-2, won v. Bengals) vs. Panthers (2-6, won v. Native Americans)
So Cam Newton managed to win one–and even better, won one against the team headed by the man who may be a better example of the kind of quarterback he’s supposed to be, Robert Griffin III. This might hopefully save Cam from going down the Vince Young Road we thought he was going down…emphasis on might.
(Oh, and Warren Moon? I love and respect you, man, but I wasn’t comparing Newton to Young because they’re both black, but because they seem to be unnaturally emotionally sensitive, okay? If Cam came out a decade or so ago, I’d be comparing him to Ryan Leaf.)
And you know what else might save Newton from burning out and becoming a footnote in the history of the NFL? Snatching a victory away from Peyton Manning. The Broncos are at the top of the AFC West, but that may very well because they’re playing, ummm, the AFC West. Manning has been playing well, but he’s not the overpowering engine of scoring he used to be. The Broncos are beatable, and they could be beaten by the Panthers provided they get their stuff together. And because I’m pulling for Newton to become less incoherent rambler and more a decent football player, I’m going to say Carolina can pull it off. It’s going to be a high scoring game, with lots of lead changes…but I’m going to give victory to Carolina by a possession or less.
Giants (6-3, lost v. Steelers) vs. Bengals (3-5, lost v. Broncos)
The Giants are doing their usual thing, stumbling a bit as they hit the midseason, losing just enough games for New Yorkers to start grumbling about Coach Coughlin to be fired…just so they can set up the big run in the last leg and slide easily into the playoffs. And, as such, there might be some expectations that Cincinnati might pull off a victory here. This will be their big shock loss to a team they shouldn’t lose against.
But I don’t think so. As much as I admire Football Spock, the Bengals have regressed quite a bit this season. They’re in danger of not even being considered for playoffs, and may result in the end of the Marvin Lewis era. Even with all the shaky play from Eli Manning and his receiver corps, I cannot see Big Blue not being the top dog in this fight. Figure they will do another of those insane come-from-behind rallies to get the win by a possession and a half.
Lions (4-4, won v. Gerbils) vs. Vikings (5-4, lost v. Seahawks)
I wonder if the Lions have managed to get back on track too late…after all, while they weren’t looking, Minnesota has pulled it together and become a serious threat to take the NFC North. Hell, given Green Bay’s struggles, this may be the best chance the Vikes have had for a while, sliding into a Wild Card behind Chicago. It’s only a question of keeping up the momentum they’ve had for the first half on to the end.
And while the Lions may have lost their first match-up with the Vikes, they have won three of their last four games and they can also make the playoffs. But to do this, they must win this game and rise above .500. Plus, just as the Lions won their last two games, the Vikes have dropped their last two games to respectable teams. I’m going to keep pulling for Detroit and say, after a knock down, drag out battle, they’ll win after a possession.
Falcons (8-0, won v. Cowboys) vs. Saints (3-5, won v. Eagles)
This is the worst possible time for the Falcons to be running into the Saints. New Orleans is finding its footing, and is desperate to re-establish itself as an elite group. And on paper, a finally alive and awake Saints should give any team nightmares and the Dirty Birds rolling in right now might look like a holiday feast for Drew Brees and company…
…because one of the great secrets is how the longer a streak like this goes on, the harder the loss will be. And I can’t help thinking that Atlanta might underprepare for this match-up, assuming their usual arch-enemies are the easy pickings of their last meeting and not the more super-charged group that carved up the Eagles last week. I’m calling for New Orleans–who are playing in their home in front of some of the most raucous, supportive fans in the division, have won three of their last four, and who absolutely need this game to see the playoffs–to be the one to slay the big ol’ Georgia Dragon by two possessions.
Sunday Games 4:30 p.m.
Paper Planes (3-5, Bye Week) vs. Seahawks (5-4, won v.Vikings)
And so my personal pain continues…
To my surprise, the Paper Planes could make the playoffs given their strength of schedule and the overall weakness of the second-tier AFC teams. But my beloved team has so many problems in so many areas that I cannot see them winning enough games to raise them over the .500 mark; by my estimation, the Planes can only win three, maybe four games in this final half of this season. And I’m dreading the massacre as Woody Johnson will end up firing, trading or releasing a number of people–including Mark Sanchez, on whose shoulders this poor performance will be laid upon, and whose fault this is not.
And this tour of torment begins with a trip to Seattle, a place where the Planes have never done well. Hell, you can consider the last time the ‘Hawks met us was when Brett ‘The Penis Mailer’ Farve began to give up on us so he could get released and jump ship to the Vikings. And that was a truly crappy Seattle team…this one is all fired up thanks to Pete Carroll’s coaching style and is actually going toe-to-toe with San Francisco for the NFC West. This is going to be a lop-sided, ugly game with Russell Wilson (who apparently was on the Planes’ radar this past draft day) trampling all over us and leading the Seahawks to win and win big by three possessions.
Cowboys (3-5, lost v. Falcons) vs. Eagles (3-5, lost v. Saints)
And on the flip side, the Cowboys must be licking their lips in anticipation of their tilt with the Eagles.
Philadelphia is in such disarray between the underperforming of its on-field personnel, the firing of team personnel and the reintroduction of a particularly hot seat under Andy Reid’s ass that the future is in doubt. We might be finally witnessing the end of the Reid era the Eagles have been teasing for the last few seasons. It will take a while to pull the team back together, and I sincerely doubt that the Eagles can function reliably this week…which means they’re excellent distraction fodder for an almost-as-in-disarray Dallas. When all is said and done, the ‘Boys are in better condition at this moment than the Eagles, and they should win by about a possession and a half.
Rams (3-5, Bye Week) vs. 49ers (6-2, Bye Week)
Okay…on paper the 49ers should roll right over the Rams. St. Louis looks outmatched on every level…except one.
Fisher may be working with terrible pieces, but he’s making the best of them, and that makes the Rams a dangerous opponent. This could lead to a big upset that will cause all the sports media world to mewl like fat happy babies. Add into the fact that Fisher has had an extra week to go all mad scientist on the 49ers, and I suspect this might be a big shock to the world, as St. Louis might squeak out a victory by less than a possession.
Sunday Game 8:30 p.m.
Texans (7-1, won v. Our Bitch) vs. Bears (7-1, won v. Titans)
Ooooooh…think of all the match-ups here. Matt Schaub versus Kid Nastyman. J. J. Watt trying to punch a hole through Chicago’s O-Line. Arian Foster trying to break free of the dreaded Bears defense. The possibilities for this to be the best game of the week are so tantalizing, that it’s no surprise that this is the marquee game.
Of course, someone has to lose this match-up, and someone has to go 7-2 at the end of the night. I have to think that Houston will be the victor. Wade Phillips’ defensive schemes are tougher than the Bears’ offense and, even though it will be a possession or less–hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if the winning point is scored by a single OT field goal–it’ll leave both team beat up more than a fight between two Brooklyn girls over the same guy at a backyard barbecue.
Monday Game 8:30 p.m.
Chiefs (1-7, lost v. Chargers) vs. Steelers (5-3, won v. Giants)
And, as is the tradition, the Monday Night game will be as sucky in direct proportion to how awesome the Sunday Night game is. The Chiefs are dreadful, and are simply incapable of scoring against a strong defense–even a badly banged up one like Pittsburgh. Now granted, Kansas City does fall under that weird ‘Crappy Teams Are Our Kryptonite’ aspect of Pittsburgh’s season, but I like to think that the last few wins have allowed Tomlin’s schemes to course-correct. There is no way the Black and Yellow will allow themselves to be beaten up by the coughing, sputtering, varsity-like shell of a team that is the Chiefs. Expect a two possession or more win for the Steelers.
Thursday Night Game (Week Eleven) 8:20 p.m.
Dolphins v. Our Bitch
Even this far into the future, I can see the horrors that are about to befall Ryan Fitzpatrick and his crew. The chameleon-like, quick defense of Miami will shut down what little offense the Bills will muster, resulting in a possession to two possession win.
See you next week.