Saturday, December 19, 2009

NFL Items, 12/19 and 12/20

So for this week, there are a handful of games that really do pose some interesting questions. We're at the point of the season where all the teams fit into one of about 3 categories:

(1) The few who have locked up the division and are just riding out the string to avoid injuries (Indy, New Orleans, Minnesota, San Diego, Cincinnati, Arizona, etc.)

(2) The crowd of teams with plausible to flickering playoff hopes (New England, Green Bay, Miami, Houston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Tennessee, etc.)

(3) The stiffs who are already done for the year (Buffalo, Cleveland, KC, Detroit, etc.)

Taking a look at the picks and games, what have we got here?

New Orleans vs. Dallas:
How does this not end up at about 38-30? Dallas really doesn't do much on defense, and their offense is good enough to put up some points. To have a shot at the upset, the Cowboys are going to need a couple of huge defensive plays, like a strip sack at the Saint 10 and/or an interception for a TD. Overall, an unlikely scenario.
The Equation: Saints' Explosion - Saint's Ability to Stop the Run + Dallas' Inconsistency = NO, 38-30.

New England vs. Buffalo:
New England has consistently owned Buffalo, and even when they haven't played well (like last weekend), they've done enough to grind out wins over bad teams. Buffalo shouldn't be able to throw much, and NE can stack 8 in the box and force them to win through the air. Look for the Pats to play it safe offensively, and have success.
Equation: Pats Offensive Efficiency + Buffalo's Inability to Consistently Pass = NE, 27-16.

Atlanta at Jets:
If Atlanta was 7-6 and not 6-7, I'd think about picking them here. But they're not. And I have a feeling they're going to pack it up tomorrow in the cold weather. The Jets are going to run it right over an undersized Atlanta D, and make enough plays to keep the Falcon offense in check. I'm looking for a fairly unwatchable game, TV-wise. Although I think Tony Gonzalez could play well, I don't like the Atlanta offense in this game.
Equation: Jet run game + Atlanta's questionable motivation + Solid Jet D = Jets, 20-13.

Green Bay vs. Pittsburgh:
Pittsburgh's really been exposed lately as somewhere between a bully and a sham. They've really relied on beating up on bad teams, and now injuries have removed their ability to do that. Green Bay has played well lately and should be able to throw the ball on an overrated Pittsburgh secondary. Look for Green Bay to play a lot of coverage and make some plays in the secondary.
Equation: Pittsburgh's Suddenly Shaky D + Green Bay's Explosive Passing + Play Making Secondary= Green Bay, 30-20.

Bengals v. Chargers:
Best Game of the Weekend. Both teams are playoff locks, so it's really a matter of home field advantage. And of course, there's the Chris Henry factor. These things have a way of motivating the team to play with a lot of heart, and the Bengals have already shown they respond to these bad situations (Early in the year they had a huge win after the Defensive Coordinator's wife died mid-week). That, and the Cincy cornerbacks are a hell of a lot better than the public knows.
Equation: Bengals Emotional Edge + Healthy Benson + San Diego's Good but Susceptible Defense= Cincinnati, 24-20.

Bears v. Ravens:

By now, it's clear that the Bears are D-U-N. Too bad Chicago couldn't play Thursday night because then when they mailed it in they could have gotten it there by Christmas. Baltimore's going to look like world-beaters, and my guess is that this isn't close. Probably a Raven defensive TD, although I don't think Flacco is going to be the big hitter. Rice is going to have a stat line like 130 yards rushing, 2 TDs.
Equation: Bears Cashing it in+ Ravens running game + Raven Frustration = Baltimore, 34-13.

Vikings vs. Panthers

Hey, speaking of teams that have completely mailed it in, it's the Panthers! This team is really just a pile of shit in powder blue unis. This is a terrible match-up for Carolina, and Jared Allen will have 3 sacks and a forced fumble tomorrow. Even though Favre hasn't played well lately, Peterson can carry them enough to make this a lopsided win.
Equation: Well, Carolina is Junk + Minnesota's Running Game + Minn. D Line = Vikes, 30-10.

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