Last week, we covered every team in at least some detail along with a gimmick. This week, we will really have very little of that. Why bother writing another 4,000 words to update something only a week old, right? Of course we will touch on the new details we discovered about each team (such as the 49ers being really good and the Eagles being really good at the little things that lose games) but I would really rather not devote a couple hundred new words to a team that didn’t even play last week. Let’s get the teams that aren’t playing this week out of the way first.
Bye Week 6
The Chargers, Broncos, Cardinals, Titans, Chiefs, and Seahawks are off this week. In other words, the overall quality of the games this week should be on the rise. No Tarvaris, no Cassel, no Kolb, no Tebow! Ok, the jury is out on Tebow and I probably shouldn’t call Cassel a bad QB after throwing for 4 TDs, but they definitely aren’t good. The Chargers might not be that good either, I mean you look at their roster and it is clearly loaded. You acknowledge that they are slow starters to sort of write off their shoddy play early, and you assume all Rivers’ little mistakes and their inability to put teams away is no big deal. Maybe it isn’t a big deal, and maybe they turn it around after the bye week, but if they keep this up, they might not even win the AFC West with the way the Raiders are playing. There is something to be said for playing like they did and still getting to 4-1 but things need to get better in San Diego.
The Cardinals showed their true colors and were run out of Minnesota with relative ease. That is all I really have to say about them.
The Seahawks were actually pretty impressive against the Giants, but their schedule is still tough and we were banking on a Giants collapse anyway so I can’t give them too much credit. Not a bad team though. Easily 2nd best in the NFC West at this point.
I don’t believe in KC even though they won their last two games. That is a tremendously average team right there missing two of its better players.
The Titans still have a shot at the wild card, but at this point, it is hard to see them climbing over the Jets/Bills/Steelers or Ravens/Raiders or Chargers. They would have to win the South to make the playoffs and unless Andre Johnson misses significant time I can’t see the Titans being better than the Texans without Kenny Britt.
The Broncos have me confused. I like what they have for the most part, I like their front 7 over the next couple of years, like their solid receiving corps, like Knowshon Moreno, and like Orton despite some of his results this year. They don’t suck nearly as bad as their record does and I don’t even think they are going for Luck. Is Tebow any good? I have no idea. He missed quite a few throws against the Chargers, and did most of his damage against a mini-prevent defense at the end. However, the rest of the team seemed to rally around him and played better once he was in. Maybe it was coincidence; maybe they actually are inspired by Tebow. I am leaning toward the first one, but given his charisma, it isn’t the most unlikely thing in the world. Time will tell.
This Week’s Games
St. Louis vs Green Bay
This might be the biggest margin of defeat for the entire season. I know 41-3 from the 49ers was big last week and 41-7 from the Bills was big in week 1, but this could be worse. Maybe it goes 44-10 with a late Rams TD but it will be bad. The Packers are just freakishly good and the Rams are terrible. Seriously, how many teams go into a stadium with a track record like the Georgia Dome, go into a 14-0 hole then just crush the home team that is out for playoff revenge the rest of the game. Scary.
Jacksonville vs Pittsburgh
I still stand by the sentiment that Jacksonville is one of the worst teams in the league though they had a decent showing against the Bengals. Pittsburgh seems to be back on track now that Ben is hurt and the line is dead so all is normal there. Pittsburgh will pretty clearly win this game, but it is more about how they play than the result if I am going to buy back in on the Steelers being threats in the AFC.
Philadelphia vs Washington
I am not sure if I really think Rex Grossman can win this division, and I am not sure if the Eagles will come to their senses and fire their defensive coordinator. I am not sure if the Eagles are this bad or the Skins are this good. Philly will probably dominate the box score like usual, turn the ball over 3 times and miss enough tackles to lose, but they have to turn it around eventually, right? Right? Either way, I think the Redskins are still the better team this week but I keep remembering last year’s night game stuck in my head where Vick ate them alive, so we will have to see. If Philly tackles and doesn’t turn it over, they win by 10. I will take the Skins.
San Francisco vs Detroit
For my money, the best game of the week. Lions coming off an emotional Monday night victory, 49ers coming off a demolition of the Bucs and travelling across the country where they have done pretty well this season. I actually think this is a letdown game for the Lions even though they were awesome on Monday night and even got Jahvid Best going against a respectable defense. I probably believe in the 49ers more than I should, but I think they win this game or at least make it damn close. Both very impressive teams.
Carolina vs Atlanta
I am still very anti-Atlanta in my look at the league, but they haven’t really done much to make me think differently. They have a tough schedule and all, but they barely beat the Seahawks and really only beat the Eagles because Vick was hurt (and the Eagles aren’t that good). Carolina, on the other hand, has been in every game this year and I doubt Atlanta can throw enough new stuff at Cam defensively to give him too many issues. This could turn into a shootout and end up being the most watchable game of the week, if not the best.
Indianapolis vs Cincinnati
For how terrible everyone thinks the Colts are, since Curtis Painter took over, they have lost by 3 to the Steelers, 7 to the Bucs, and 4 to the Chiefs. If nothing else, they are competitive in their losses, and this week will probably be no different. Cincinnati hardly inspires confidence in their wins but they do win and, again, this week will be no different. Cincinnati 17, Colts 13 sounds about right. Maybe 23-20.
Buffalo vs New York (N)
Has the Giants’ freefall begun or was the Seattle game just a warning? Is Buffalo going to keep being able to turn teams over at this pace to make the defense look good? Is Eli going to throw another stinker or pick it back up for a game? Are the Bills going to win this game and start making a legitimate case for a Wild Card spot? I am leaning toward the Bills here, but more out of lack of enthusiasm for the Giants than anything else, and that isn’t a great reason to pick a team. Definitely one of the tougher games of the week for me between two teams that are somewhat evenly matched.
Houston vs Baltimore
Without Mario Williams and Andre Johnson, the Texans are in trouble. They are going to need a virtuoso fail out of Joe Flacco to stay in this since the running game will probably get them nothing. The Ravens might be stuck at 2nd tier contender without any upward mobility all year because of Flacco. Kind of like the Jets last year but with less flash.
Cleveland vs Oakland
The Raiders are legitimate AFC West contenders if the Chargers do not tighten things up over the bye week. The Browns are still just the 2nd best team in Ohio. I see almost no way the Browns really make a game out of this even though they are really not a bad team. Going out west is a tough assignment for a team that isn’t quite there yet.
Dallas vs New England
The Cowboys have played the Redskins, 49ers, Lions and Jets and are 2-2. The sky isn’t falling, it is looking kind of promising. Of those losses, one was in OT and one nearly went to OT. So while most people think of this being the choking Cowboys rolling into town against the steady Patriots, you should look at it another way. There are two teams with fantastic offenses, questionable defenses (some more than others), and a lot of glitz. They really aren’t that different except Brady turns the ball over less than Romo. That is significant, of course, but the teams aren’t so different this year. While I have bet against the Patriots to cover the last two weeks and lost twice, I am coming back for more. The Pats aren’t THAT good, and the Cowboys are still pretty good despite the media hysteria.
New Orleans vs Tampa Bay
Let’s start by just throwing the 49ers game away. That was pretty much unavoidable and things just got out of hand. The Saints got Cammed around a little bit and ended up having to win late, but no cause for panic there either. The bottom (and only) line here is that the Saints are extremely good and the Bucs are just above average. There are very few teams I would pick to beat the Saints, and just about all of them have a significant home-field advantage. Saints roll. The Bucs do not lie in either of those categories.
Minnesota vs Chicago
No idea. The Bears might suck, the Vikings might not be as terrible as they seem at times, and it is a division game to boot. I guess I will go with my old stand-by and pick against the Bears but I am really clueless here. Maybe I should hire someone that isn’t from Chicago just to analyze the Bears for me, because I seem to get them wrong more than almost any other team.
Miami vs New York (A)
Copy and save this paragraph, I may never write this again. I believe in Matt Moore, I believe in Tony Sparano, and I think the Dolphins come damn close to winning this game. The Jets are better at just about everything, but I think they need a little extra spice before Rex Ryan flips out a little and the team gets back on track. I am betting against the Jets to make the playoffs at this point, but they will win this game. Just not by much.
STL vs GB (-14)
JAX vs PIT (-12)
PHI vs WAS (+3)
SF (+4) vs DET
CAR (+4) vs ATL
IND (+7) vs CIN
BUF (+3) vs NYG
HOU vs BAL (-8)
CLE vs OAK (-6.5)
DAL (+6.5) vs NE
NO (-5) vs TB
MIN (+2.5) vs CHI
MIA (+7) vs NYJ
Last Week: 4-8-0