Happy Friday! Playoff baseball is in full swing: The Boston Red Sox are in ALCS (mad cheering from the New England contingent of YouGabSports)....Oakland and Detroit battle it out for the final spot in the American League Championship Series...St. Louis and Los Angeles get ready to duke it out in the National League Championship Series.
The NFL is on, the NHL is back, and the NBA has started their preseason games as every fan hope and wishes that LeBron James and the annoying Miami Heat take a nosedive this season. It’s great to have hockey back, and it’s especially nice when there is no lockout of bologna delaying the start of the season. Those readers who hate soccer have no worries about reading anything about Everton as I’ve completely blocked out last weekend’s beatdown by ManCity. Fortunately, they have a week off to get their defense straightened out and get ready for Hull City (a much easier matchup).
College Football Saturday Preview:
Here’s what I see as my big three games:
First off, Penn State vs Michigan. That game is not going to be the draw it was in years past, but these are two famous (or lately Penn State seems infamous) programs. Michigan needs to run the ball to win, and I’m interested to see tight end Devin Funchess as he seems to be a potential NFL player. Penn State runs out freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, so if he is able to get in rhythm, it could be a tough day for the spotty Michigan secondary.
Second big game, Oregon vs Washington. The Ducks are five and zero and this Huskies team could be their first real competition of the season. The Huskies played a heck of a game against Stanford, and need the win this week. They’re at home, and need all the help they can with Oregon having defeated them nine straight games. The Huskies have an up-tempo offense, but Oregon runs plays at warp speed. Washington will want to control tempo with back Bishop Sankey, who has been playing well. A big game for Sankey could put him in Heisman discussions. For the Ducks, quarterback Marcus Mariota has 14 touchdowns and zero picks in five games. If running back De’Anthony Thomas if finally fully healthy from his ankle problem, a couple big plays could quiet the crowd in a hurry.
Third, Texas vs Oklahoma. Usually, this game is guaranteed to be two top-ten squads facing off at the Cotton Bowl. This year, the Longhorns are about two touchdown dogs in the Red River Rivalry. Oklahoma has won three years in a row (Texas fans don’t want to acknowledge last year). To have a prayer for the upset, the Longhorns need to do things: get pressure on Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell. No pressure equals no chance. On offense, the ‘Horns would have to have a huge game from running back Johnathan Gray. If he gets going (and Oklahoma is missing top linebacker Corey Nelson, so the opportunity is there. I’d love to see a close game, and am rooting for the Longhorns, but think that Bell is going to be abusing the Texas secondary all morning.
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For the record (I know this was touched upon earlier in the week), I love that the NFL is going to decide which team has cameras shoved down their throat over the summer for the HBO Hard Knocks series. I love Hard Knocks, and am giddy in anticipation of the league eventually forcing the HBO crew on Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (technically it can’t happen if the team has made the playoffs in consecutive season, as New England had done, but let me run with this thought anyway). The “A Football Life” episode by NFL Films on Belichick was a tour de force, with him in the meetings behind the scenes, on the sidelines, his reaction returning to Meadowlands one last time...it was fantastic. Also, former columnist and current talking head (what a decline in credibility) Michael Holley was given unprecedented access for the 2002 season in Patriot Reign, another insanely fascinating look into the world of Bill Belichick.
In those cases, Belichick (for whatever reason) was onboard with the project. I know that with “A Football Life” he had come out and stated how he has respect for the NFL Films and especially the Sabol family. With Michael Holley, who knows. Maybe he wanted to chronicle the season as an experiment. But the idea of the league forcing it upon him without his consent is just a magical idea. I read a piece by a local blogger that such a season of Hard Knocks would be boring beyond belief, but I could not disagree more. Imagine the dirty looks at the camera, the condescending statements, the disdain! Oh, it would be the best and most entertaining television since “Curb Your Enthusiasm” ended (Larry David starring as Bill Belichick...what a great tv show that would be...quick, some major network hire me to pitch tv pilot ideas). Entertaining television is all about conflict...and that would be the best conflict ever!
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Thursday Night Special:
Prediction: NY Giants 18 vs Chicago Bears 38:
Oh, you know how I’d pick here. Zero and six? More Eli interceptions. Still bitter about those two Super Bowls? You know it! I’m posting this before kickoff, so I leave myself open for ridicule in the comments (lucky me, no one on Monday hauls out my picks for a good laugh!)
Prediction: Green Bay 48 vs Baltimore 24:
Neither of these teams seem up to last year’s strong play. Aaron Rodgers should be able to torch the weakened Baltimore defense (He’s not Tannehill, who got pummelled last week). The Ravens are giving up big passing plays...Jordy Nelson fantasy football owners are salivating. Joe Flacco may not throw five interceptions this week, but he is not winning these games like he would have last year.
Prediction: Detroit 10 vs Cleveland 13
No Calvin Johnson? That means stop Reggie Bush and unleash Barkevious Mingo at Matthew Stafford. Cleveland is not running the ball, so they have to try to stop the Detroit pass rush. Not sure there turns out to be much scoring, but Cleveland is a team of destiny. Of course, if Megatron plays, change the 10 to 24 and Detroit wins...
Prediction: St Louis 10 vs Houston 24
Expect Houston to run the ball early and often. I have no faith in Sam Bradford, especially with J.J. Watt in his grill. All anyone wants to see really is if Matt Schaub throws another pick-six. I say yes.
Prediction: Oakland 20 vs Kansas City 24
Why not. Kansas City could be 6-0? Hey, I want KC vs Denver to be two undefeated teams when they matchup. Oakland has played pretty well on defense, but their offense is inconsistent still. Close, but no cigar, for the Raiders.
Prediction: Carolina 24 vs Minnesota 21
Two marquee stars: Cam Newton and Adrian Peterson. Neither has been breaking out with a big game. Why should this week be any different?
Prediction: Pittsburgh 21 vs New York Jets 20
God, the Jets can’t be 4-2! Was Atlanta really as bad as they looked on Monday night versus the Jets. The Jets couldn’t have been that good, right? That said, the Steelers can’t be this bad, are they? OK, maybe they are...but they can beat the Jets, right?
Prediction: Philadelphia 31 vs Tampa Bay 20
Nick Foles should be an upgrade for Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay is out-of-sync and hardly looking capable of pulling out a win. Will Tampa get all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis on his island again instead of dropping into zones? That’s like asking Babe Ruth to bunt, or have Jerry Rice stay in and block on every play. Let him play his game and make life easier for the defense, rather than force him into a role that limits his effectiveness. That’s the crap that gets a coach fired.
Prediction: Jacksonville 21 vs Denver 20
Nah, I’m joking. Jacksonville 13 vs Denver 42 looks right.
Prediction: Tennessee 9 vs Seattle 27
Chris Johnson could have run against this defense...five years ago. If Tennessee had anyone but Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, they’d have at least a shot at a win. Fitz sucks. Seattle is angry after losing last week. Sorry, Titans. Not a good spot to be in.
Prediction: New Orleans 27 vs New England 34
I’m not ready to go all in on the New Orleans defense. It’s improved, but not that great. I think safety Devin McCourty is key in keeping Drew Brees from completing those deep passes over the top. I’d feel better with any safety other than Steve “Wow, look at that receiver run past me” Gregory out there as well, but I expect Bill Belichick to pull out a trick or two on defense.
Prediction: Arizona 16 vs San Francisco 34
San Francisco needed a game to get back on track...hey it’s Arizona! Carson Palmer versus Colin Kaepernick? That matchup is like a battle of Neanderthals versus the US Marines.
Prediction: Washington 24 vs Dallas 27
RGIII has the bye week to get his knee just a bit better. Washington should have copied New England with Rob Gronkowski and kept RGIII under wraps until he REALLY ready to play. Dallas has to be so down after last week. That said, they should be able to get up for this one. Sunday night, and--hey NBC--bring back Faith Hill already. My Buddy G and my 12 year old son are all upset about this. There’s some free marketing feedback for you, NBC.
Prediction: Indianapolis 27 vs San Diego 24
San Diego is much better than anticipated, but can Philip Rivers outduel Andrew Luck? Will I be awake on Monday night when this game comes to a dramatic conclusion in the fourth quarter? (Hint: Probably not.) Either way, expect Indy to have just enough.
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OK, Gabbers, that’s all I have for this week. Have a great fall weekend! Thanks as always for reading!
In a recent article posted on ESPN reporter Ashley Fox states that Patriots tight end has the right to be skeptical about the Patriots and their intentions for his return. Fox goes on to suggest that Gronkowski is being cautious simply because of how his forearm injury was handled last season. That being said, is she right in turning Gronkowski’s return from injury into a conspiracy theory? Is Bill Belichick really the mastermind of manipulation and team anarchy?
One could argue that Belichick’s quiet, yet suspicious nature leaves plenty of room for question. One could also allude to Wes Welker’s quick demise in New England, despite concerns from fans and a public display of support from Tom Brady. One could even point to “Spygate” or apparent clash with former defensive coordinator Eric Mangini as signs of Belichick’s debatable nature. However, is it possible that Belichick would stoop to a new low and ignore both Gronkowski’s personal assessment and all professional medical advice simply to win a few games? Actually, I think it is quite possible.
Belichick has been the ultimate secret since taking over GM duties in New England. He has devised, or more accurately, inflated an ego that borders on a God complex. So why would the health of a replaceable tight end be at the forefront of his agenda. In today’s game every player is expendable; every player is merely a pawn in a chess game that caters to marketing and individual profit. So Mrs. Fox while your theory seems a bit preposterous to blind Patriot fans, the rest of us see some validity hidden deep within the context of your words!
Some time in mid August of this year some of the resident Gab/Patriots fans
sat around Mo’s infamous round table
Chewing the fat and discussing the upcoming season of unknowns and
unwanted changes with their favorite team
This conversation was overheard with Tom Waits singing about closing time in the background…
Oldharry: I think that Sudfeld kid will make us forget Hernandez.
Sully: Cuz, are you high man? that Sudfeld is a stiff! He’ll probably be on the Jets before the seasons over.
Lanz: He’s a big kid, should be able to get open, may have potential…we’ll see.
Mo: lets see…5 Sam Adams, 1 Glenlivet 21 on rocks, 1 Woodstock Pigs Ear Brown Ale… Want funions, nuts or chex mix?
Oldharry: Yes, thanks Mo, all around. I think Suds works out Sully, he will be solid opposite Fells or Ballard till Gronk gets back.
Sully: Mo, what do you think about this years Pats?
Mo: can’t you see I’m working Kevin, got an establishment to run...
maybe let you in on something later big guy.
Hal: Ballard looks like he’s running in mud, he won’t be on the final 53
Radatz: Fells can’t block or catch, I say he’s gone too.
Tage: The receivers have me worried, bunch of kids with potential but no experience,
Brady will be screaming at these guys, we’ll be feeling bad for them by week two…
Oldharry: I see Ridley having a big year, maybe 1400 yards and a dozen TD’s.
Sully: I’m a little worried about scoring, the D will be solid if they stay healthy, last thing they can afford is Vince, Spikes or Mayo getting tweaked and missing some time.
Radatz: The D backs should be better if Dennard can stay out of jail, Talib can cover most, Arrington has good ball skills and Adrian Wilson is a pro, he reminds me of Rodney Harrison out there.
Tage: The kicking game is solid, Gostkowski is money and who doesn’t love ZoltanMesko. That guy will be here for the rest of his career and they have that speedster Boyce who should be returning kicks
Lanz: Ridley should be ok if he can hold onto to the ball but I think the key to the offense is Vereen, he’s due for a break out year and Tommy will lean on him with Welker and Woodhead gone. Vereen can line up outside and with that speed he’s a mismatch.
Hal: Amendola should be able to take Welkers slack, it’s the TE’s and outside receivers I’m not to sure of. The most experienced receiver on the team is Edelman and he’s fragile
Oldharry: Welker won’t catch 40 balls in Denver with maybe 2 TD’s, he is Manning’s 4th option. He made a mistake going to Denver. Mark my words, Peyton has no arm strength and the Broncos will be lucky to win 8 games with that D. Atlanta and the Pats are the class of the NFL this year.
Tage: Oldharry that blind loyalty is why NFL fans around the country hate us.
Manning is due for a huge year, Broncos should win 14.
I wonder if Lloyd, Gaffney and Branch will hang around waiting for a call, Brady will contact them if these kids don’t pan out…
Lanz: harry Tage is right, you have to get rid of those rose colored glasses, look around... this cup is half empty…
Mo had heard enough blather, he walked over to the table with another round, this one on the house.
He set the drinks and some pretzels on the table and walked back to the bar. He picked up an object and carried it carefully over and set it down.
Mo: I have a crystal ball. A friend of a friend says its from the old Foxboro Stadium locker room, he left it here a few years back to cover his tab…had it sitting in the back seat of a Rambler parked out front.
My friends, I do have a crystal ball
I’ve been looking into it
What would you Pats fans say if I told you that after five games
the Patriots would:
-Have played the first 5 games without Gronk
-that Amendola has been a non factor since getting hurt in game one
-and Julian Edelman leads the team in receptions with 37
- that Zoltan Mesko is punting for the hapless Pittsburgh Steelers
-and that Ridley has an injured knee and has been pedestrian at best
-fatso Lagarrette Blount at 255 lbs is your kick returner and leading rusher
-that ShaneVereen is on IR until late November
-that Vince Wilfork is on IR with a torn Achilles tendon…
-that A guy named Chris Jones is your starting N T
-WR rookies Tomkins and Dobson have combined for 4 TD’s and 18 drops
-stud TE Zak Sudfeld is on the Jets
-that future HOF QB Tom Brady has a passer rating of 80 and has only thrown for more than 300 yards once in the five games
-and that Matt Mully Mulligan has the only TD by a TE
-this team is 31st in red zone offense only better than the Jags
And with all that being true…
The Pat’s will still be 4-1 and will be just one bad throw or bad drop away from pushing the Bengals into OT in the lone 7 pt loss
We don’t believe you, we aren’t buying that! said a chorus led by Oldharry…
You’ve lost your mind…
Next are you gonna tell us that the Red Sox dropped the Rays 3 games to1 in the ALDS and are hosting the Det/ Oak winner in the ALCS?
Or that the Dodgers are in the NLCS?
Or that the Chiefs are unbeaten?
Or or that the US government is in partial shut down?
Or that Beeze has a dog named Finnegan
Or that Peyton has thrown for 20 TD’s for the 5-0 Broncos
The story of my life. A successful weekend is getting a hair cut, and oil change, take a few old movies and a few beers in me. ...and I want to know who set the schedule for the boy’s U-10 soccer team, because I’m pretty sure they looked at the Patriots schedule and pasted the games right in the middle of them. Mrs. has this recipe for chicken wings that are just the bomb – marinade wings in soy sauce, orange juice concentrate, and ginger. That takes the sting out of sitting at a town park while your team is playing.
As soon as we showed up for game, the sky went from threatening to outright downpour, and of course we were there 30 minutes before game time - at 5 minutes before game time it looked like the other team was going to forfeit...but alas that didn't come to pass. Normally, I would've griped about this, but the Patriots were playing about as bad an offensive game as you can play, so in the end it was a case of "may as well be getting rained on here, than watching that at home."
Gronk hasn’t played yet this season, yet Dunkin Donuts is busy promoting how Gronk-tacular their crappy sandwiches are; the week after Vince Wilfork is done for the season, a local supermarket is advertising their “In-VINCE-able” pizza. Yeah, I’m not getting a steak and egg breakfast sandwich, and I’m not getting a bacon, pineapple, ham, sausage, pepper, and onion. If I see Tom Brady promoting Subway or some other foodstuff, I’m going to go ballistic. It's pretty bad that TB12's two previous backups - Brian Hoyer and Matt Cassel - have been having a better season than he has...then again, he's still upright, while Hoyer isn't...and he's the presumed stater, while Cassel isn't.
On top of that, they released Zach Sudfeld - an undrafted rookie - presumably hoping he wouldn't clear waivers to sign him to the practice squad...only to have him poached by the Jets. Good luck, Rex.
I happened to catch “Jerry Maguire” the other night – I’d forgotten Drew Bledsoe’s bit role. Before Brady was Brady, the Patriots were Drew Bledsoe and as much as some here look back at Mo Lewis’ hit ushering in the Brady era with fondness, I’d like to remind everyone that this was a team that was failing before Parcells/Bledsoe arrived. And why was Bledsoe in the flick? I mean other than the fact that he was available at the time? Seems the plot was based on Lee Steinberg, his agent. Who knew?
The Red Sox have quickly gone up 2-0 against the Tampa Bay Devil Hens – a name Mrs. gave them over a decade ago and one that I think is brilliant so I have kept it. TB had to win 2 – a game 166, and a play-in – just to get to Boston, so they’re a little depleted, but when David Ortiz takes David Price deep twice you know it’s going to be a tough road. At 97 wins, this season was the 6th best in Sox history. Of the top 5, they went to the World Series 4 times and won it 3. Of course, when they didn’t win it, they found spectacular ways to lose. 1978, with 99 wins, they tanked a lead in the AL East, and lost a game 166 on Bucky Flipping Dent’s home run; in 1946, Johnny Pesky took the mantle of goat by holding the ball on Enos Slaughter’s dash home in game 7.
Amazing, that you can have a phenomenal season and be known 70 years later for holding the ball. Anyway, Joe Maddon still believes in his Devil Hens – and made clear that Boston is beautiful this time of year and that he’s looking forward to be back here later in the week. After the run he’s had with Tampa, he’s got a right to confidence, but after the clinic the Sox put on over the weekend, it seems unlikely. 19 runs, and in game one all 9 batters had a hit and scored – only the third time in post-season that’s happened. Of course, the first two were in the 1930’s meaning even the pitchers scored, making that achievement just a little less historic, but significant nonetheless.
Meanwhile, a kid that had thrown exactly 10 major league starts went 8 scoreless innings against the Tigers to bring the A’s even with Los Tigres in their divisional round series. Keep beating the snot out of each other, guys. Boston will be waiting.
And despite the Yankees not being in the playoffs, they’re still in the news, what with A-Hole filing suit in court that MLB and the Yankees are trying to force him out of the game. See here’s the problem for MLB: Mr Rodriguez has a LOT of money, and as a friend who worked in newspapers back in the day once said, don’t get into a war of words with someone who buys ink by the barrel. Is Selig a douche? You bet and I actually kind of like that A-Rod isn’t going quietly – he’ll self destruct and hopefully take Selig with him. End result? Selig is going anyway. A-Rod is going anyway. They used to call the concept, “mutually assured destruction,” and this is what would have happened if there hadn’t been a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missle Crisis. Everyone’s getting blown up here. Get your popcorn ready.
Happy Friday, Gabbers! Well, a nasty cold/flu has beaten me down the end of this week, but nothing that would stop me from Gabbing away. This week had the baseball playoffs kick-off with excitement around the wild card that was actually...wild! Now the NLDS and ALDS are ready to kick-off and what a wonderful New York Yankees-free playoffs it will be.
The NHL kicked off the regular season this week as well (seems hard to think about ice at this time) and the NBA is not far behind. Week six of the NCAA College Football schedule looks like a good kickoff to the weekend with a few more quality matchups, and of course the NFL prepares to start the second quarter of the schedule.
October baseball kicks off following a wild wild-card week with a play-in game and then two “winner-take-all” games. This post-season is great as perennial losers the Pittsburgh Pirates won the wild-card eliminator and now face the St. Louis in a best of five series. I’d love to see the Pirates advance, but with Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller at the front of their rotation, they will be tough to beat. Great story this year in Pittsburgh, but this looks to be one of those “happy to be here” teams. Maybe they can win one at home versus St. Louis in game three?
The other NLDS series has the Los Angeles “No Peeing in the Pool” Dodgers against the “Them Again?!?!?” Atlanta Braves. Both teams skated in September without any real competition, but both teams have strong lineups, strong starters, and strong bullpens. One team is gonna be cheesed by losing in the first round, when both are legitimate World Series contenders. The Braves bullpen is dynamic, but the Dodgers are pretty damn good. The Dodgers top starters are the elite of the elite in baseball, but the Braves are not exactly chopped liver (if not household names). I give the Braves a slight advantage, if only because the Dodgers have no Matt Kemp, a dinged up Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez, and locker-room cancers Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford along with injured beer swilling and fried chicken eating Josh Beckett...whoa, a little Red Sox anger coming out there...reel it in, reel it in...2012 is a bad memory...reel it in...ok, I hate the Dodgers. Go (formerly Boston) Braves.
The 2013 Boston Red Sox run into the same problem as wild-card winning Tampa Bay Rays match-up in the short series by throwing Cy Young Award winning David Price, All-Star Matt Moore, and the best pitcher in second half of the season, Alex Cobb. I would say the Sox lineup is an advantage, but with Wil Myers in the middle of the lineup with Evan Longoria and Delmon Young seemingly always saving his hitting prowess for the postseason, this is a tough matchup for Boston. The Rays got here by eliminating Baltimore, the Yankees, the Rangers, and the Indians over the past week or so. Wow. Here’s one Boston fan hoping the Rays take their foot off the pedal and the Sox move on.
The other ALDS matchup of the Detroit Tigers matching up against the Oakland Athletics is a very intriguing series. A rematch of last year’s ALDS that went the full five, the A’s have a trump card this year: everyone’s favorite Science Fair winner, Bartolo “Performance Enhancing What?” Colon. In addition, Detroit has injury concerns with Miggy Cabrera dinged up and ineffective in September. Can Victor Martinez, Jhonny “Performance Enhancing”Peralta, Torii Hunter, and Prince Fielder step up for Cabrera? Oakland has a lot of no-names who keep winning, but the Tigers have starting pitchers Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez...that’s a big advantage.
This week has an ACC matchup with two top 25 teams (depending on what ranking you use, I guess) with Florida State welcoming Maryland. Florida State is coming off a win at Boston College that was a lot harder than most (especially me) expected. Maryland is no slouch, and they have two stars in quarterback C.J. Brown and receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs opened eyes with a great year as a true freshman, so the sophomore won’t be drafted in the NFL until 2015 at the earliest (no one cares what he says in 2013 about staying four years when first round money isn’t being thrown in his face with a frenzied fervor by potential agents next year), but I want to see him as much as possible as he looks like a future star slot receiver in the NFL with his quickness and speed.
Ohio State and quarterback Braxton Miller face off against the purple powerhouse Northwestern Saturday night. This is a great Big Ten battle of undefeated squads. With Miller stepping up last week against Wisconsin, OSU will be trying to carry that momentum on the road this weekend. Northwestern plays two quarterbacks, dual threat Kain Colter and pocket passer Trevor Siemian. The biggest difference-maker could be Northwestern running back Venric Mark who has been injured since preseason. Mark rushed for over 1300 yards last year, and if he is healthy and effective, this could be an upset special for Northwestern.
Finally, the third matchup of top twenty-five ranked teams takes place late (I may be asleep by then, no guarantees, but if awake, I’ll have ESPN on) as two West Coast Pac-12 powerhouses matchup with Stanford and Washington in Cali. Last year Washington beat Stanford with an impressive defensive display. In 2011, Stanford rushed for almost 450 yards in wiping out Washington and putting up over 60 points. So two undefeated inter-conference power-houses face-off and most of America will be sleeping. Kathy, put the coffee on! It’s football watching night!
Numero uno Alabama is facing off against Georgia….State. These types of games are boring to watch and while I understand the top programs wanting to have these “cupcakes” on the schedule to rest, recover, regroup, and get a look at the second and third teamers, as a sports fan I have no desire to watch a game that’s 35-0 after the first ten minutes.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers: The Lions are in first place. Seriously. The Packers are in a tough start to the season, but coach Mike McCarthy is also 13-1 against the Lions (no wonder Detroit hates this guy--he’s like Don Shula and the Dolphins against all those horrible New England Patriots teams of my youth!). The Lions look like a legit powerhouse with running backs Joique Bell and Reggie Bush to complement Megatron. Can Matt Stafford outduel Aaron Rodgers? In Green Bay? Why the heck not?
Prediction: Lions 44, Packers 27
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears: The Saints are sizzling on offense and are vastly improved with the fatter Ryan brother in charge. The Bears' defense is living off a reputation from three years ago, they are simply not very good. If Jay Cutler has to get into a shootout with Drew Brees, well, it won’t be pretty. If I were coaching the Bears I’d put the ball in Matt Forte’s hands early and often.
Prediction: Saints 54, Bears 17
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns: This is the Thursday night game, so I can’t make a pick, but I expect this game to be more interesting than it looked just a few weeks ago. The Browns lead the NFC North by tie-breaker right now and their defense looks like a playoff-caliber defense (they’re calling to Beezer...come back to the Browns...come back to the Browns...we won’t break your heart!) I love that they are winning with their new starting quarterback, Brian Hoyer, who apparently learned something practicing with Tom Brady for three years. The Bills have a find in quarterback EJ Manuel and are 2-2, too. Great game, I hope. I’m rooting for Hoyer.
Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys: Take the over. Then take over the over. I think this game is whoever settles for a field goal loses. The joke I pulled out is it is Enver versus Allas, because this game has no “D” (wow, that was bad!). I’d like to see Denver lose, but think they should win. I’ll go with heart over head here.
Prediction: Cowboys 42, Broncos 38
Atlanta Falcons vs New York Jets:
The talk out of New York is that Rex Ryan is already considering benching Geno Smith? Everyone but Rex realizes this is a rebuilding year. Matt Simms? Really? The Falcons are 1-3. Matt Ryan, he has gotta be pissed after losing to New England, and looky-looky what creampuff is on his schedule.
Prediction: Falcons 27, Jets 17
New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals: So for the second consecutive week, the perfect Patriots are road underdogs. If I made t-shirts and bumper stickers, they would read “Believe in Talib!” Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib pitched a shutout last week against Atlanta: seven passes thrown at him, no completions. Those are REVIS numbers. If he shut-down Julio Jones, can he do it to A.J. Green? I say why not. Also, I have to state that I hate the Bengals more than any other team. Their lousy bloggers pissed me off to no end this offseason (I’m so glad we drafted chumpzilla Jermaine Gresham over Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez--we’re so much smarter!). Grrrrrr. I hate them. I want to drive out to Cincy and do the Icky Shuffle at midfield after the game when the Pats smack them around. I may be the only one, but I HATE THE BENGALS!!!!!!
Prediction: Patriots 34, Bengals 13
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins: This would be a great tie. I expect Baltimore quarterback will be going for six (interceptions that is)
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Ravens 17
Jacksonville Jaguars at St. Louis Rams: I see this as a winnable game for Jacksonville, even on the road. That said, trading left tackle Eugene Monroe was a head-scratcher...to give away a franchise left tackle for a bunch of late round picks is waving the white flag. There goes Maurice Jones-Drew’s fantasy value with his best blocker gone. How long until Jones-Drew is on the block for draft picks? Rebuilding is one thing--emptying the cupboard completely is another. The Rams are terrible, but not quite that bad.
Prediction: Rams 28, Jaguars 7
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans: This game did not look too marquee before teh season, but Chiefs-Titans looks like a good matchup. Being stuck with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick after Jake Locker got hurt after FINALLY playing so well kills Tennessee.
Prediction: Chiefs 23, Titans 13
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks! Go for 0-5, Eli stinks!
Prediction: Eagles 34, Giants 27
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts: Seattle has been a little off so far this year, but they keep pumping out the wins. The Seahawks pass rush should stop the NFL’s best young quarterback, Andrew Luck.
Prediction: Seahawks 20, Colts 17
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals: Ugh. My preseason super-smart fantasy football pick of quarterback Carson Palmer looks terrible now that he returned to earth in a hurry. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is slowly getting back on track.
Prediction: Panthers 27, Cardinals 20
Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers: Wasn’t this the Super Bowl prediction everyone made last year? Houston vs Seattle Super Bowl this year? Houston cannot win with Matt Schaub at quarterback in a big game. EVER. This counts as a big game.
Prediction: 49ers 31, Texans 24
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders: It's either Sunday Night Football the Late Show Edition or Early Monday Morning Football. The game kicks off at 11:35 PM eastern time. Wow. Well, I’ve been stashing him on my bench in a few fantasy football leagues, but I need Philip Rivers to have a huge game against a questionable defense
Chargers 78, Raiders 17 (hey, I need the fantasy points!)
Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins: These guys can’t lose! (They all have the bye this week)
Finally, in the English Premier League, Everton hung on at Goodison Park against Newcastle U after jumping out to a 3-0 lead at the half. Barring a complete breakdown, at that point the game is over. In the second half, just like the New England Patriots did against the Atlanta Falcons, the boys in blue were forced to hang on with white knuckles and fight off Newcastle for the three points with a 3-2 win. After three straight draws to open the season, this was the third straight league match win. With 12 points after six games, it’s great to see Everton leap into the top of the division and sitting in fourth place a point behind cross-town rival Liverpool and the Spurs, and only three points back of Arsenal. For a transition year, this is a great start. This weekend brings Everton on the road to play Manchester City (aka the best squad money can buy) who are 3-0 at home so far this short season. It’s a tough matchup, but I’ll be cheering the boys in (dark) blue.
OK, all...have a great weekend and enjoy all the playoff baseball, college football, NFL football, NHL action, and of course footy from across the pond.