|After gaining 210 yards through the air in a victory over my Cowboys last year, I'm pretty much terrified to see what will happen this time around.|
In looking ahead to Week 8, here are three things that stand out to me…
1. More Awful Schedule – Man am I glad New England/Pittsburgh is on Monday Night! Wait, what? They’re at 4:00pm? What’s that??? Kansas City is on Monday Night?!
The MNF scheduling has been criminally bad this year. Sadly, it’s probably better than anything the 1:00pm games can offer. Unless of course you’re into Colts-Titans, Saints-Rams, Dolphins-Giants, Cardinals-Ravens, Jaguars-Texans, or Vikings-Panthers…yeah, me neither.
2. AFC Showdown – Once again, it looks like Pittsburgh and New England are the class of the AFC. As bad as the Steelers have been, they’re only 1 game behind the Patriots! Throw in the fact that Pittsburgh owes New England a little something from all the butt-whippings they’ve put on them in recent years, and we have the makings of an instant classic.
3. NFC East Separation – The 4-2 Giants have had opportunities before to take over the division (Seahawks game, anyone?), but they’ve allowed the Redskins and Cowboys to linger not far behind. Given the brutal remaining schedule, New York MUST take advantage of this one or they could quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the playoffs again. Both Washington and Dallas have tough games (at Buffalo and at Philly, respectively) and a Giants win over the lowly Dolphins could potentially give them a 2 game cushion.
As for the Week 7 picks…well, things weren’t pretty. We started out slow, did badly in the middle, and finished a flurry of awful. All around, it was a week to forget…so let’s blow through this section as quickly as possible, shall we? Good.
(Remember, Prince and I are going head to head with our picks. No prize has been determined yet, but ideas are happily accepted.)
Week 6 Results (point spread in parentheses)
Landrum: 6-7 (5-8)
Prince: 7-6 (6-7)
Week 4 Winner: Prince +2
Results through Week 6 (point spread in parentheses)
Landrum: 61-42 (50-46)
Prince: 66-37 (51-45)
Overall Leader: Prince +6
Thanks to the stupid Tennessee Titans and stupid Chris Johnson and his stupid new contract, I drop two more games to Prince, giving him a commanding 6 game lead. Hopefully I can turn around my fortunes this week.
Indianapolis at Tennessee (TEN -9)
Jon: Tennessee (TEN -9)
Prince: Tennessee (TEN -9)
Take your pick of teams that got their doors blown off last week! Would you prefer the Colts, who lost by 250 points, or the Titans, who lost by 100 points to a team without its best player? Tough call! On initial review, it’s hard to see Tennessee blowing anyone out. They’ve really struggled since losing Kenny Britt, and “star playmaker” Chris Johnson continues to run like he’s got a 15 pound duct tape ball chained to his right ankle (yes, I do own one!). Once I really thought about it though, I can’t pick the Colts. They suck. Curtis Painter sucks, the defense sucks, everyone is injured, the coaching staff is a mess…the whole thing is just a giant disaster. Unless Peyton Manning randomly suits up, I think I’m just gonna avoid picking the Colts for anything unrelated to the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.
New Orleans at St. Louis (NO -13)
Jon: New Orleans (NO -13)
Prince: New Orleans (NO -13)
The real question is, how high would this line have to be for you to pick the Rams? After what the Saints did to Indy last week, I’m thinking it would need to be somewhere around 24 points. No, seriously. Then again, maybe the Saints gorged themselves on enough Colts blood last week to not run up the score with unnecessary 4th quarter passing TD’s.
Miami at New York Giants (NYG -10)
Jon: New York (NYG -10)
Prince: New York (NYG -10)
And there you have it! The first three games on the slate feature our top three Andrew Luck contenders! What a week! Look, if the Dolphins couldn’t scratch out a victory against Denver last week, after Tebow started the game 0-84 passing, what do you think is gonna happen against the Giants? On the road? Yeah, it’s gonna be ugly.
Minnesota at Carolina (CAR -4)
Jon: Carolina (CAR -4)
Prince: Carolina (MIN +4)
Look, it’s the gem of the 1:00pm games! And it features a one win team vs. a two win team…yippee. Even though it’s a crappy game, Cam Newton is always fun to watch, and seeing him against a fellow rookie should be interesting at the very least. I managed to goad Prince into taking MIN +4, and I couldn’t feel better about it. Newton had a huge game against the ‘Skins last week, and it certainly seems like he’s ready to back it up against a porous Vikings secondary. My guess is that they’ll struggle to cover Steve Smith, and the LB’s will be powerless to cover the Olsen/Shockey duo. In addition, Minnesota’s LB’s are kinda slow and kinda bad. That’s not really a good combination when you need to stop Cam Newton. Even if Jared Allen can flush him out of the pocket, Newton should have free reign to make plays happen all over the place. Carolina wins this one big!
Arizona at Baltimore (BAL -13)
Jon: Baltimore (ARI +13)
Prince: Baltimore (BAL -13)
I seriously can’t believe I’m taking the points for Arizona, but the Ravens are just too inconsistent to give them that much. It’s entirely possible they put together a great game and blow Arizona out of the water, but their MNF performance left an awful taste in my mouth. Ironically, this matchup pits two of the most disappointing QB’s in the NFL against one another. Both Flacco and Kolb carried great expectations into this season, but neither have delivered. My guess is that Baltimore controls the game throughout, with Arizona getting some meaningless scores late in the 4th to make the game look closer than it was.
Jacksonville at Houston (HOU -9.5)
Jon: Houston (HOU -9.5)
Prince: Houston (HOU -9.5)
It looks like Andre Johnson will be back, which makes this game a no-brainer. Yes, Jacksonville beat the Ravens last week. I don’t care. They were awful in that game and my opinion is that the Ravens beat themselves. The fact is that Blayn Gaburtt is the worst QB in the NFL right now and Jacksonville has no business hanging with a talented team like the Texans.
Washington at Buffalo (BUF -4)
Jon: Buffalo (BUF -4)
Prince: Buffalo (BUF -4)
As if the Redskins weren’t bad enough, the loss of Tim Hightower and Santana Moss should effectively put an end to any latent thoughts they had about the postseason. Buffalo’s defense may not be good, but almost anybody can look alright against John Beck and 10 guys from the streets of D.C.
Detroit at Denver (DET -3)
Jon: Detroit (DET -3)
Prince: Detroit (DET -3)
You can’t possibly understand how badly I want this game for Tim Tebow, but I can’t possibly pick them after how awful Tebow was against Miami. Please, don’t try to sell me the “he’s a winner” line. There is nothing magical about Tebow that makes him win…they played the Dolphins who pretty much did everything they could to stay in the Luck Sweepstakes. Against the Lions, Tebow will need to be much better. MUCH better. Still, you never know with a guy like Tebow. He’s obviously got a lot of developing to do, but he flashed some real ability late in the game. With Stafford likely playing, he’ll obviously have to do it for more than 4 minutes, but I’m not counting him out. I know I’m in the minority, but I still think he’s gonna be good. Not here though. Not this week. The Lions badly need this win and I don’t see how Denver can compete with them.
New England at Pittsburgh (NE -1.5)
Jon: New England (NE -1.5)
Prince: New England (NE -1.5)
To be quite honest, I have no idea who’s going to win this game. I can spend thousands of words detailing the specific advantages each team has, but all that will do is serve to point out how evenly matched these teams are. The inclination, then, would be to pick the home team, but Tom Brady’s dominance over the Steelers cannot be overstated. The Patriots have won each of their last 4 games against the Steelers, with Brady racking up a crazy 9-1 TD to INT ratio. Overall, Brady is 6-1 in his career against Pittsburgh. The players have obviously changed over time, but you have to wonder if Brady is just comfortable going against their scheme. Whatever the case may be, I think he’s bound to have more success this week, leading to a tightly contested victory.
Cleveland at San Francisco (SF -9.5)
Jon: San Francisco (SF -9.5)
Prince: San Francisco (SF -9.5)
Yet another awful game, where the 49ers will likely run rampant on the hapless Browns. After a Thursday setback, it looks unlikely that Peyton Hillis will be ready to go in this one…not that it really matters. The 49ers defense has shut down the run all year, and there’s little chance McCoy wins this game by himself.
(Yes, my comments have been short…can you blame me? What can I say about these game???)
Cincinnati at Seattle (CIN -2.5)
Jon: Seattle (SEA +2.5)
Prince: Cincinnati (CIN -2.5)
The trip to Seattle has not been kind to visiting teams, with the Seahawks going 37-18 at home since 2005. Heck, the Seahawks were 6-3 at home last season! And they were bad! Don’t get me wrong, I think Cincinnati is a much more talented team. Down the road, the Bengals should be contenders (if Mike Brown doesn’t screw it up first). Still, this could be a trap for a young squad led by a rookie QB. Seattle, on the other hand, is like an entirely different team at home. They play well even when they’re bad! It appears as if Tarvaris Jackson will play, which is somehow good for Seattle (I just threw up saying that). I think this is a good bet for an upset, and a good reality check for a no-quite-ready-yet Bengals team.
Dallas at Philadelphia (PHI -3)
Jon: Philadelphia (PHI -3)
Prince: Dallas (DAL +3)
In an ironic twist, Prince is taking the Cowboys while I pick against them. That just seems wrong. Still, I’m not any more excited about my ‘Boys after the Rams game than I was before. Yay, we beat one of the worst teams in the league. Good for us. I’d like to say that we can carry over that momentum, but Philadelphia presents some significant matchup problems that I simply can’t overlook. Throwing out the meaningless Week 17 “victory” over Philly, Dallas’ 27-30 home loss in Week 14 is probably a fair gauge of what is going to happen Sunday night. Vick ran for a TD, LeSean McCoy had a big game, and DeSean Jackson had 210 yards receiving. I’m not saying the game is going to exactly like that, but the principle is the same. The Cowboys defense does well against straight ahead guys like Steven Jackson, but shifty outside the tackles guys like Vick and McCoy are problematic. Add in the fact that our secondary is slow and our safeties are generally bad, and you have a sure recipe for disaster. My guess is that this one turns into a bit of a shootout, with the Eagles offense being too much to handle down the stretch. Dallas’ best hope is to establish DeMarco Murray early and win the TOP. Even then, I don’t trust our red zone offense to come through and I don’t think the secondary can play well enough.
San Diego at Kansas City (SD -3.5)
Jon: San Diego (SD -3.5)
Prince: San Diego (SD -3.5)
They laid an egg against the Jets last week, but they have to get something going eventually, right? Philip Rivers has had a tough year, but with a healthier Gates on board, it seems likely that he’ll snap out of it sooner rather than later. I’m sure the Chiefs are a popular pick this week, but there’s very little substance to their victories. Close victories against the Colts and Vikings ring VERY hollow, as does the victory over a Raiders team that had lost their QB the week before and their star RB early in the first quarter. I’m just not buying the Chiefs. I think the Chargers finally put together a good performance and make MNF even less memorable than it looks to be.