|Posted by TheBEEZER 19 Hours Ago
Alright...We've done 2B, 3B, SS, C, P, and HR hitter...Today we ask, who do you think is the all-time best MLB 1B?
Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Larry Bird, Wes Unseld, Otto Graham, Bart Starr, Norm Van Brocklin, Elgin Baylor, Larry Wilson, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, Mike McCormack, Pete Retzlaff, Dick Szymanski, Mike Reinfeldt, Stew Barber, Bucko Kilroy, Matt Millen, Eddie LeBaron, Dwight Clark, Gene Shue, Mike Dunleavy, Phil and Tony Esposito help represent Group A.
Ozzie Newsome, Jerry West, Joe Dumars, Mitch Kupchak, Wally Walker, Danny Ainge, and even the influence of Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux can be put into the category of Group B.
Group A is a list of some of the greatest athletes ever to take jobs running professional teams via the front office, only to fail at finding any of the successes they did as players. Group B is the smaller more exclusive list of great athletes who won championships even after replacing their uniforms for a coat and tie a front office executive often wears.
National Football League legend John Elway is back as a Denver Bronco for the first time since retiring after the 1998 season when he became the oldest quarterback to even win a Super Bowl. Now he returns to a franchise that has been struggling to win consistently for several years, hoping his influence upon arrival can propel the franchise to the excellence it enjoyed when he played for them.
Elway's story up until now has been well publicized. The son of a successful collegiate coach, he attended college for four mostly exciting years that had little success. He was an All-American who won the Pac-10 Player of the Year twice and once finished second in the Heisman Trophy race despite never leading his school to a single bowl game.
The biggest moment in his career at Stanford would be in his last game. As Stanford kicked off leading California University 20-19 with little time on the clock, "The Play" transpired. With several laterals and the steamrolling of the Stanford marching band on the field, California returned the kick for a winning score. Ironically, Elway's father was named head coach at Stanford two years later and lasted five seasons. Jack Elway is the only Elway to lead his team to a bowl game.
Selected with the first pick of the 1983 NFL Draft, Elway refused to sign with the Baltimore Colts. He played summer baseball with the New York Yankees until the Colts buckled by trading Elway to the Denver Broncos.
The move worked out for Denver. The Broncos posted a .500 or better record in in six of the previous years, including four years with 10 or more wins. Elway started 10 games as a rookie and won four times. He would have just two more years where he posted a losing record until he retired after the 1998 season.
Elway led the Broncos to five Super Bowl's over his 16 seasons, winning twice in the final two years of his career. He went to the Pro Bowl nine times while throwing for over 51,000 yards and 300 touchdowns, chipping in over 3,400 rushing yards and 33 more scores before being the very first Bronco inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He has enjoyed a post-retirement life where he ran several automobile dealerships, restaurants, and even an Arena League football team successfully. Elway majored in economics while attending the prestigious Stanford University.
Now he is being asked the run the Broncos. Unlike several sports legends who failed trying to handle this type of job before him, Elway grew up breathing football almost daily because of the fact his father was so heavily involved in the game. He spent his childhood moving a few times as Jack Elway climbed the coaching ladder to build his resume by being an assistant at the University of Montana and Washington State University before becoming head coach at California State University, Northridge.
Denver is opening a new era, but still have luxuries in some respect despite such a poor showing last year. Quarterback Kyle Orton had a career year before being injured towards the end of the year. His replacement, Tim Tebow, was a first round pick last year and performed well in his few starts. Whether Denver trades Orton or keeps both will be a question that may not get answered until draft day.
Elway spent his rookie year learning from Steve DeBerg before taking over.DeBerg had served the same role for Hall of Famer Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers before moving on to Denver. After leaving the Broncos, DeBerg mentored future Hall of Famer Steve Young with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Elway knows the value of that type of learning but realizes moving forward is necessary.
If Tebow is handed the keys to the franchise by trading Orton for more draft picks on top of the draft picks they received by acquiring Orton for Jay Cutler, Denver could find themselves in the thick of a battle for the AFC West crown next year. If they feel it prudent to retain Orton, they keep a man who threw for over 3,600 yards and 20 scores in just 13 games during 2010.
Denver is expected to lean heavily on improving the defense now that John Fox has been named head coach. Fox is a defensive oriented coach who won a Super Bowl ring as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants before taking the head coaching job with the Carolina Panthers. In nine years with Carolina, he took the team to a Super Bowl and two NFC Championship appearances.
When Fox was a defensive backs coach with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers, as well as defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Raiders, Elway faced his schemes as a player and knows what Fox can give Denver. Most experts feel the Broncos will use their first pick, the second overall in the draft, on a defensive player. They also have two selections in the second round.
Though the task of rebuilding the Broncos may not be as difficult as some other NFL teams, Elway is expected to complete the task. The franchise has not made the playoffs since 2005, but "Captain Comeback" spoiled their fans when coming into town in 1983. Denver went their first 18 years of existence before making the playoffs in 1977 and had three total seasons of post season glory before Elway was drafted.
He took the team to the playoffs in 10 separate years, and the team has experienced just four more years of such success since his retirement. He was used to such pressure as a player, as have most of the legends who later took over teams from the front office after retiring as players.
Though the list of failure is long for legends, those few who have succeeded prove one can find glory by pushing buttons behind a desk. Newsome won his Super Bowl ring as an executive while never getting the chance as a player. History might be against Elway in his quest, but he has generally spent most of his professional athletic career coming back when the chips were down with circumstances slightly crumbled around him.
While Denver fans brace for his moves to get the team better, Elway is also on the verge of possibly putting the NFL on notice by certain roster moves. Champ Bailey will soon be 33-years old and entering his 13th season in a career that will eventually find him in the Hall of Fame. While Bailey is still an excellent player opposing teams rather not challenge, he is a free agent and is is questionable Denver will offer him the $9 million salary he earned annually during seven years spent with the Broncos.
What Elway decides to do with Bailey and other free agents is certainly worth watching as much as his first draft as Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Broncos, which has him overseeing the general manager and head coach of the team. He is expected to have a prominent hand in who and how the team drafts and builds the roster even though he readily admits that "I don't have that kind of experience to be able to pick those players day in and day out and such".
What the team does will be credited to him much like other legends who went to the front office. As the AFC West improves in trying to be the powerhouse it once was, Denver is attempting to set a pace of their own as well. No one should discount John Elway or the impact he could have, but this has been said before when so many great athletes before. Which group Elway will join gets decided over time, but Broncos fans must thank their captain for once again coming back trying to win.
On with the picks :
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
The oldest rivalry in the NFL has met 180 times in the regular season yet just once in the playoffs in 1941. Chicago holds an edge in both categories, yet the series is so tight knit the Bears have scored just 131 points more than Green Bay and the Packers have won three more titles than the Bears.
How Green Bay reached the NFC Championships this season has been an amazing story. As they suffered more injuries than any other team, coaches Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers have kept the team winning thanks to a deep roster of talent built by general manager Ted Thompson.
While is it well documented the Packers goes as quarterback Aaron Rodgers goes, it should be noted he threw five more touchdowns and five less interceptions than Bears quarterback Jay Cutler this season.
Defense is where it is really at in this game. Green Bay has given up the second least amount of points scored this season while the Bears ranked fourth. The Packers ranked fifth best in yards allowed while Chicago ranked ninth.
Chicago is stout defending the run, but they ranked 20th against the pass. Green Bay ranked fifth against the pass yet 18th against the run. The Packers also had more sacks and created more turnovers than Chicago.
It seems simple on paper. Green Bay must stop Bears 1,000-yard rusher Matt Forte and Chicago needs enough defensive backs to stop Rodgers and the plethora of weapons at his disposal. Cornerbacks like Corey Graham, D.J. Moore, and Zackary Bowman will be major players trying to cover James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and possibly Brett Swain.
Though I picked Green Bay to lose to Baltimire in the Super Bowl before the season began, I picked again the Packers last week in Atlanta. As the Ravens left the playoffs, Green Bay continued. This week wont find me betraying them again, though I expect another taut thriller to the end.
Packers 20 Bears 16
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
All season we have listened to the Jets talk Super Bowl and watched them back it up on the field. As they ready to go into Pittsburgh, there has hardly been a whimper from them. While both teams respect each other, they have met this season.
The Jets won 22-17 a month ago on Pittsburgh thanks to excellent defense and special teams. Of the four losses the Steelers have incuured this season, three came on their home turf. Of the ten road games the Jets have played this season, which includes the playoffs, they have suffered just two defeats.
Defense reigns supreme this week in the NFL, and two of the leagues toughest defenses will battle for the AFC title. Both are spectacular at stopping the running game. The Steelers have the top run defense in the NFL this year while the Jets ranked third. Pittsburgh gave up the fewest points this year while the Jets ranked sixth.
While the teams will both try to establish the run game, both teams were very close in most categories this year. It may come down to who passes the bll best, an area both teams are average at best in doing. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisber has the experience, with his two Super Bowl rings, over Jets second-season signal caller Mark Sanchez. While Sanchez has a sore throwing arm, Roethlisberger has a sore foot.
Special teams and turnovers should stand out in the evenly matched scrum. The Jets used a kickoff return for a touchdown by Brad Smith to help propel them to victory over the Steelers a month ago, a feat they would like to repeat again,
Hall of Fame coack Dick LeBeau and Rex Ryan will match defensive wits and one almost had to flip a coin on a prediction. I am going wih the Jets because they are due. They also are the only team to face the remaining three teams alive in the playoffs, but lost to Green Bay and Chicago earlier this year.
Jets 19 Steelers 17
Now that Mike Shanahan has shut down Donovan McNabb for the rest of the season, his critics grow louder. Critics who say the coach has done nothing more than follow Hall of Famer John Elway to two championships.
While Shanahan's very brief tenure as head coach of the Los Angeles Raiders was unsuccessful, he had a nice stint as a quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos and helped Elway develop. He then won a Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers before returning to Denver as head coach.
Shanahan's first year in Washington is nothing to be proud or even optimistic about. While heading the oldest team in the league this year. He walked in knowing he had a long rebuilding project in front of him with a franchise that has had sparse success since winning four Super Bowls over ten years starting in 1982.
The Redskins 2010 started with him butting heads with defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in where both men looked ridiculous many times. After suspending Haynesworth for the season, murmurs came from Redskins Park that Shanahan lost respect in the locker room. Benching McNabb just increased the rift and puts the rest of the front office in a bind.
While owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen remain quiet in their support of Shanahan, mostly due to the fact Snyder gave him $35 million over five years, there are problems that may plague Washington during his reign. Nepotism is the most prevalent issue.
Kyle Shanahan is not only the son of the head coach, but the inexperienced offensive coordinator's ego is as large as his dad's. The plays called by the younger Shanahan this year have come with mixed results, though he is quick to point the blame on his quarterback.
When playing the Indianapolis Colts this year, Washington was in the game because they ran the ball well against a team that has issues at defending the run. The younger Shanahan showed his inexperience by deciding to start passing, which led to defeat for the Redskins. Almost every pundit agrees Kyle Shanahan is overmatched and couldn't hold the position of offensive coordinator for any team other than the one his dad coaches.
While the Shanahan's egos have help ruin the team, the defense has had trouble adjusting to a 3-4 base defense with personnel best suited for a 4-3. This has led to a ton of yards allowed, thus forcing the Redskins in a position where they have match that offensive production. They have failed to do this for the most part, which allows the glare of the spotlight burn brighter on the play selection.
While McNabb has been mostly off target all year, he is easily their best option. Rex Grossman might be the worst backup quarterback in the NFC, and journeyman John Beck hasn't really seen the field since his rookie season in 2007.
Now with an irate locker room who has a good chance of turning a deaf ear to their head coach, the 2010 season cannot end soon enough for the Redskins. It doesn't hurt either Shanahan that there is an expected large roster turnover next season, as the team tries to get younger, but the coaching staff needs to soon show why they are initiating such abrasive methods to their players. It is hard to see a team be unhappy yet win.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Saint Louis Rams
The Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell picked a bad time to have an appendectomy. Another loss will hurt Kansas City immensely. This bit of bad luck couldn't have happened at a worse time, as San Diego breaths down their necks.
The Rams need to win here, and hope Seattle loses, to have a shot at taking over the NFC West. Though their defense has been the big story all season, they must generate offense against an average Chiefs defense.
Cassell seems likely to miss his second straight game, so the Chiefs will be stuck with the horrible Brodie Coyle at quarterback. That might all the Rams need to win.
Rams 20 Chiefs 17
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans
When quarterback Vince Young had a meltdown a few weeks ago, he pretty much ended the Titans season. Now the only thing left to decide is if to bring him back or head coach Jeff Fisher. One has to go.
Houston is still hoping they can sneak into the playoffs, so the offense should be ready. Considering how Texans star receiver Andre Johnson and Titans star cornerback Cortland Finnegan fought a few weeks ago, tensions should be high.
Texans 31 Titans 20
New Orleans Saints @ Baltimore Ravens
The Saints have been on a roll, showing exactly why they are the defending champions the past few weeks. Baltimore has been inconsistent on both sides of the ball, mainly on offense.
Both teams are in second place in their divisions and need this to have a shot at a division title or home field advantage in the Wild Card round. Can the Ravens defense hold up to the Saints offensive onslaught, or will they tire out like last week? Will Baltimore play a whole game of offensive consistency finally?
This game is a toss up, because both could be Super Bowl bound. We will pick the cold weather as a deciding factor.
Ravens 24 Saints 21
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts
It is amazing Peyton Manning keeps the Colts in the playoffs race despite no running game and a pretty mediocre defense. Jacksonville does one thing very well that the Colts cannot stop : run the ball. Maurice Jones-Drew might go for 200 here.
Jaguars 34 Colts 28
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys
This rivalry has seen better days. Jason Garrett went from one of the worst offensive coordinators in football to a head coach of an improving team the past few weeks because he finally decided to run the ball more. Some theorize he purposely sabotaged former head coach Wade Phillips with bad play calling. knowing he was next in line.
Mike Shanahan went from a respected head coach to an egomaniac who has no respect in his locker room. Some are guessing he is doing this in order to get fired so he can take the Dallas job because the rebuilding the Redskins need has overwhelmed him.
The only thing for certain is that it doesn't matter to many who wins this. Even the fans may be ambivalent. Redskins fans only want to beat Dallas, but it is hard seeing this occur with Rex Grossman starting at quarterback for them.
Cowboys 34 Redskins 10
Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers
Arizona blew out a terrible Denver team last week with a rookie quarterback making his first start. Defense was the main reason this occurred. They will try to duplicate this again against a Panthers team that might be even more terrible than the Broncos.
Cardinals 17 Panthers 13
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
Game of the Week
This might decide who wins the NFC East in 2010, because both teams are tied with identical records right now. Both teams have explosive offenses and solid special teams, but the Giants are much stronger in a key area.
The Giants defense has been stout all year, but Philadelphia has a tiny defensive line that has trouble stopping the run. They also lost their starting middle linebacker for the year because of an injury.
New York had both of their primary running backs get over 100 yards on the ground last week, and it should be expected to see them try to ground and pound the Eagles on their home turf.
Philadelphia needs quarterback Michael Vick to be special if they want to win. Though the Giants secondary has played well this year, the Eagles have three receivers that are hard to stop. This is a game that has all the markings of being decided late in the fourth quarter.
Giants 30 Eagles 28
Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Detroit is a hard working team of youngsters on their way to being a very good team. Next season is looking up for them.
Tampa Bay is pretty much the same way, yet they discovered winning this year and are very much in the hunt for a playoff berth. They need to win this to keep the dream alive.
Buccaneers 28 Lions 24
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals
Eric Mangini has had a roller coaster 2010 season as Cleveland's head coach. Starting out as a perceived lame duck, he seemed to have procured another season a few weeks ago until the team began losing. Part of the reason was having to start Jake Delhomme at quarterback.
Cincinnati might want this game because Terrell Owens ran his yapper again. He blamed everyone but himself, as usual, for the Bengals 2010 woes. We will see if it fires his team up enough to play 60 minutes, something they rarely have done this season.
Bengals 27 Browns 21
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins
Miami still holds onto faint playoff hopes, so they face a Bills team most interested in the first pick of next years draft. Expect the Dolphins to wear Buffalo down.
Dolphins 23 Bills 20
Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks
Atlanta has been on fire, which doesn't bode well for a Seattle squad needing to win on out to stay in the hunt for the NFC West title. Seattle has been winning with mirrors, something the Falcons should shatter along with their playoff dreams.
Falcons 31 Seahawks 17
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
Denver might start rookie quarterback Tim Tebow because starter Kyle Orton is hurting. Oakland needs to win this bad to stay in the playoff hunt.
Raiders 20 Broncos 17
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Jets are in a losing rut now and facing Pittsburgh will add to hurt feelings of a team that spent most of the year bragging how good they were going to be. Reality now has them on the cusp of maybe losing a playoffs bid.
Steelers 26 Jets 20
Green Bay Packers @ New England Patriots
The Packers playoff hopes are fading fast. Quarterback Aaron Rogers is their primary offensive weapon since they have no running game. He won't play, so the red hot Patriots will dominate.
Patriots 23 Packers 9
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
The Bears timing here is perfect as they try to wrap up the NFC North crown. The Vikings are down to a third string quarterback with no experience to speak of. Chicago's defense should eat him alive.
Bears 27 Vikings 10
San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers
The Niners 2010 season falls apart at every sign of turning the corner. First they dealt with a five game losing streak compounded by the fact quarterback Alex Smith regressed to being flop he had been called in his first three seasons.
When he got injured in the seventh game, San Francisco eventually inserted 2006 Heisman winner Troy Smith and have won three of their last four games. Now halfback Frank Gore has been injured for the season, and they head into Green Bay with just one road victory this season.
Green Bay has no running game at all, which will most likely come back to haunt them in the playoffs. They rely on a good defense and star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. San Francisco scores about 17 points a game, the second worst in the NFL. Green Bay allows just 15 points, the best in the league.
Packers 27 49ers 12
Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs
The honeymoon is long over for Denver head coach Josh McDaniels and Broncos fans. While losing to the Rams last week, several fans were seen with signs calling for his firing. A far cry for last year, which saw the then-rookie coach win his first seven wins before losing eight of the last nine games.
Kansas City fans are loving their second year coach Todd Haley. After four wins last year, the Chiefs are on top of the AFC West with seven wins. They have the fourth best scoring offense in the NFL, the best rushing attack, and the sixth best Giveaway/ Takeaway ratio in the league.
Haley also dislikes McDaniels, which was seen when he refused to shake hands after Denver destroyed Kansas City 49-29 about a month ago. Expect the Chiefs fans to be extra loud as Haley's team seeks revenge.
Chiefs 31 Broncos 21
Buffalo Bills @ Minnesota Vikings
Buffalo has looked better the last month, even if they only have two wins. After winning those two games, they took Pittsburgh to overtime last week and were a dropped pass away from victory.
Vikings Pro Bowl halfback Adrian Peterson comes into this game with a banged up ankle, yet appears intent on playing. Minnesota goes as far as their running game takes them. Rookie Toby Gerhart who ran for a career best 76 yards last week, will also see the ball a lot.
Vikings 26 Bills 17
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
Detroit fans have to be proud of their young team. Though they only have two wins, Detroit is a scrappy bunch that has taken quite a few losses to the wire. Their first came off a bad call by a referee than allowed Chicago to win.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had perhaps his best game with Chicago last week. While in first place in the NFC North, they desperately need this win here. Three of their last four games are against the Patriots, Jets, and a Packers team that is one game behind them.
Bears 24 Lions 20
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans
When the 2010 season began, few saw the Jaguars in the running for the division crown. In fact, most thought head coach would be replaced after his eighth year. Yet the team is in first place despite having the worst Giveaway/ Takeaway ratio in the NFL, as well as having been outscored by 54 points so far.
Tennessee is now looking like Jacksonville did. Head coach Jeff Fisher, the longest tenured NFL coach in his 17th year, is now being questioned. Perennial malcontent Vince Young had another brain fart a few weeks ago, and now owner Bud Adams will need to choose him or Fisher. It is highly unlikely they can ever team together again.
Jaguars 31 Titans 17
New Orleans Saints @ Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati will be playing out the last few games with little passion, something they seemingly have done several times in 2010, because they really have nothing left to play for other than pride.
The Saints are in a battle with Atlanta and even a Wild Card birth. They need this win badly regardless if Atlanta wins or not this week. As they get healthier, the defending champions get more dangerous.
Saints 37 Bengals 17
Washington Redskins @ New York Giants
LaRon Landry was well on his way to a Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro bid, as well as contending for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, three weeks ago. He has 85 tackles, eight defended passes, an interception, sack, and forced fumble after nine games.
The safety then hurt his Achilles and might eventually end up on injured reserve. Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers will also not play this week because of injury, but they are facing a Giants receiver corps so depleted than it will be starting guys they just signed off the streets for the second straight week.
New York has the sixth best rushing attack in the NFL, while the Redskins run defense is ranked 26th. While Jints quarterback Eli Manning might pick on mediocre cornerback Phillip Buchanon all day, Washington has no chance if they don't stop the run.
Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb is having the worst season of his career, having two more interceptions than touchdown passes. His accuracy has been wildly erratic much of the year, yet the blocking in front of him has not always given him much time. Since Washington has no real ground game due to massive injuries, the offense will rest on his shoulders yet again. He is on pace to set a team record in passing yards.
One big factor is the turnover game. New York has not held onto the ball this year, and their Giveaway/ Takeaway ratio is 26th in the league. Washington ranks ninth. Both teams desperately need this, the Redskins faint playoff hopes end with a loss and the G-Men would fall a full game behind of division leading Philadelphia.
Giants 27 Redskins 24
Cleveland Browns @ Miami Dolphins
Last week, Cleveland inserted veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme, probably the worst free agent signing this season, to play against the Carolina Panthers team that unloaded him after last year. Though Delhomme tried to lead the Panthers to victory by tossing interceptions, Browns running back Peyton Hillis made sure his team won.
Delhomme will be playing again this week, only because rookie Colt McCoy still has a tender ankle, and that benefits Miami. While the Browns have the fourth worst passing attack in the league, Miami has the fourth best pass defense in the NFL.
It again will come down to Peyton Hillis, something the Dolphins fully realize.
Dolphins 17 Browns 13
Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers
Oakland is in a rut, and that mostly comes from the fact halfback Darren McFadden has run for a pathetic total of 16 yards the past two games after having churned out 757 in his first seven games.
San Diego, on the other hand, is rejuvenated and getting healthy as well. Rookie halfback Ryan Matthews returns with wide receiver Malcom Floyd. They have won four in a row, and it seems likely they win the AFC West yet again when the dust settles.
Chargers 34 Raiders 17
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Atlanta not only has the best record in the NFL, but they are the hottest team in the NFL today with five straight wins. They do it with balance and the fact that they rank second in the NFL in the Giveaway/ Takeaway ratio. Some pundits now view them as the best team in the NFC right now.
Tampa Bay is a Cinderella team in 2010, and one of their four losses this year was by six to the Falcons about a month ago. Their defense is stingy in allowing points, and Josh Freeman is a young quarterback who has a bright future.
The balance Atlanta swallows opponents up with will probably be too much for the young Buccaneers to overcome in the end.
Falcons 24 Buccaneers 16
Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks
Carolina's focus might be on who to draft next season, because this season was over early. Seattle wins despite giving up 66 more points than they scored, and having given away the ball more than they have taken it away.
First year head coach Pete Carroll is a sure fire Coach of the Year candidate, because his Seattle team has no business being on the cusp of making the playoffs in 2010.
Seahawks 20 Panthers 18
Saint Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
The Rams are in a battle with Seattle for first place in the AFC West. Arizona has already tolled up the tents and made vacation plans as soon as the season ends.
Saint Louis has a balanced offense and underrated defense. They could present a problem in the playoffs if they forget their youth.
Rams 31 Cardinals 20
Dallas Cowboys @ Indianapolis Colts
Dallas is playing better since they changed head coaches, but that is because they run the football more. The only way they beat the porous Colts defense is this way, but halfback Marion Barber is out with an injury. Felix Jones and Tashard Choice must step up.
The Colts will look to expose the Cowboys questionable safeties by having quarterback Peyton Manning carve up the middle of the field. Indianapolis has no running game, so they go only as far as Manning can take them.
Colts 28 Cowboys 24
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore is undefeated at home this year, while Pittsburgh comes to town with a quarterback who may have a broken foot. Factor in how much these teams dislike each other, and a brawl will commence for 60 minutes Sunday night.
Both teams sit on top of the AFC North with 8-3 records, yet they are evenly matched in many other areas as well. The Ravens have scored just seven more points and allowed 11 less points so far.
Baltimore may need this worse, because the schedule the rest of the way may favor the Steelers. Both play Cleveland and Cincinnati, but the Ravens face two teams, Houston and New Orleans, fighting for the playoffs. Pittsburgh's only hard game appears to be the Jets.
Pittsburgh is second best in the NFL in Giveaway/ Takeaway ratio, while the Ravens haven given away the ball two more takes than they have taken it away. This is a big stat that shows who has the more opportunistic defense. Baltimore must match Pittsburgh here if they want a good chance of winning.
As similar as these teams are in so many ways, the turnover factor could decide the outcome.
Ravens 26 Steelers 21
New York Jets @ New England Patriots
Game of the Week
This game might decide who wins the AFC East. They both hold a 9-2 record, tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NFL right now. Statistically, it appears the Jets have an edge.
New York has the second best running game in the NFL, and the fourth best defense. They have scored 77 more points than allowed, which is third best in the NFL. They are sixth in Giveaway/ Takeaway ratio, and the 187 points they have allowed is fourth best.
Despite New England having the worst pass defense and second worst overall defense in the NFL in yards allowed, they have the highest scoring team in the league. Their Giveaway/ Takeaway ratio is second best in the league, and the 68 points that they have scored more than allowed is fifth best.
They also have quarterback Tom Brady, a future Hall of Famer having one of the finest seasons of his storied career. Brady has tossed only four interceptions all year, and the Jets have picked off just seven all year. Two came last week.
If New England can stir any semblance of a running game, the Jets could be in trouble. New York's second year quarterback Mark Sanchez has just eight interceptions this year, as opposed to the 20 he had last year.
Obviously the turnover factor looms huge here. New York has created five more than the Patriots so far. Yet New England has experience in winning the big game. Jets head coach Rex Ryan has long trumped his squad as Super Bowl caliber, and winning a game like this would prove him more than just a dreamer.
Jets 28 Patriots 27
Overall Record 80-60
Things are so muddled in Minnesota right now, they can't even spell Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams last name correctly on the back of his jersey. Making Leslie Frazier the head coach is about the only thing the Vikings have done right thus far, though it would behoove them to lift the interim tag off and extend his contract because Frazier is one of the first assistants in the league in line for a head coaching job.
The confusion started before the season began, with Brett Favre sitting in his house once again waffling between playing and retiring. It held the Vikings hostage to his whims, something Favre had done several times while employed with the Packers to the point he wore out his welcome.
After several Vikings went to his house to plead a return to an aging team with perhaps one last gasp left at Super Bowl aspirations, Favre agreed and had head coach Brad Childress chauffeur him from the airport to training camp when it was almost time to begin the regular season.
Since then, Farve has resembled many athletes before him washed up yet trying to extend their careers one season longer than he should have. After 17 interceptions and six fumbles in 10 games by the greatest turnover machine in NFL history, Childress was fired because of just three wins and constant bickering with his quarterback over not running the plays that were called.
While most all of Favre's media buddies have tried to feign surprise at his poor play, some have giving up on spit shining the faux alter they helped create by calling for the benching of the turnover king. Now Frazier, a defensive specialist and former Pro Bowl cornerback, has to fix the offense by removing the cause of his team illness.
While Tavaris Jackson, a second round pick by Childress in 2006, was asked to play too soon, he has won more starts than he has lost and has spent a lot of time on the bench learning since 2008. Now is the time to see if he will start next year and beyond, or if the Vikings should use a draft pick hoping to find a starting quarterback.
Favre is done. Before he would blame his errors on incompetency around him or injuries plaguing him. The excuses have worn out their welcome, and his presence will soon follow. In fact, he already has had a few media buddies write stories on how he may retire before the season ends. Minnesota is going nowhere this year, so Favre has to make it all about him, in an attempt to grab headlines, once more before the season is over.
Frazier's first act needs to be the promotion of Jackson, while demoting Favre to third string status the rest of the season and making him inactive in each of the final six games. This would allow the Vikings to get a better gauge on rookie Joe Webb. Webb is an extremely athletic player some viewed as a wide receiver prospect coming out of the 2010 draft, yet Minnesota decided to see what he could do at quarterback.
Benching Brett Favre is not sacrilegious, it is evolution. The game goes on, something he will not do in the NFL after this season. Deciding whether or not Jackson and Webb will be the guys handing the ball to Adrian Peterson 300 times a year is a much more important question to answer for the good of the franchise. Worrying about the feelings of a self-centered egomaniac is counter productive, and that is why Childress will sit at home until 2013 getting paid by the Vikings for nothing in return.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants
Both teams are 6-4 right now, but miles apart in certain areas. Jacksonville has an erratic passing game and porous defense, but they have the excellent Maurice Jones-Drew toting the rock for them.
The Giants Ahmad Bradshaw is having a very comparable season, but has a tendency to fumble. New York needs to hang onto the ball and get better quarterback play. If they do, they should control this game.
Giants 34 Jaguars 20
Carolina Panthers @ Cleveland Browns
Both teams are playing with third string quarterbacks and reserve running backs. It's just the Browns bench has been on the field longer and have played well. Carolina seems intent on getting the first pick of the 2011 draft.
Browns 23 Panthers 10
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills
Even if Ben Roethlisberger flops into a fetal position, they should win this in the fourth quarter. Buffalo has the ability to expose Pittsburgh's secondary, the weakness of the defense, but they have been so inconsistent this season.
Steelers 34 Bills 23
Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins
The Redskins long, strange trip in 2010 continues. They somehow pulled out a win last week over Tennessee in overtime despite losing a plethora of players to injuries. It was reminiscent of their win over Green Bay earlier in the season, as far as a bunch of players going down for a long time from injuries.
Washington will hope their third string running back holds up, because there isn't much behind Keiland Williams. Washington is so thin at running back, they are making undrafted rookie linebacker Darrel Young tote the ball at times.
Redskins leading receiver Santana Moss could miss the game, so Joey Galloway may play. He just turned 39-years old last week. Tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis may have to carry the passing attack.
Minnesota has their own old man with 41-year old quarterback Brett Favre. Though he and Galloway never teamed up, their combined 80 years has to be the oldest duo to play on a NFL field this season.
Though the Vikings season is over as far as playoff dreams, they still can play for pride under their newly hired head coach Leslie Frazier. The Redskins really struggle at stopping the run at times, so expect Minnesota halfback Adrian Peterson to carry the ball often.
Washington allows four more points per game than they score, while Minnesota allows five more than they score. The difference here could be who holds onto the ball. The Vikings are dead last in the Takeaway/ Giveaway Differential category ant minus-13, while Washington's plus-six is eighth best in the NFL.
Redskins 30 Vikings 28
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans
Houston has one of the worst defenses in the NFL this season, but the run defense is their strength. It is ranked 16th in the league, but it will have to play a lot better this Sunday.
The Titans are playing some rookie quarterback named Rusty Smith, so the plan will be to feed halfback Chris Johnson the ball as often as possible. Tennessee doesn't have a defense much better than Houston, so Arian Foster has the ability to run for as many yards as Johnson.
The offensive balance of the Texans should make the difference, but their defense is bad enough to make Smith a star.
Texans 31 Titans 16
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
Game of the Week
Both teams need to win here badly, and both have been on a roll lately. Atlanta needs to the win to maintain their division lead, and they have won their last four games. Green Bay, who has also won their last four, needs to win to stay on top of their division.
The Packers defense gives up the least amount of points in the NFL, and both teams score an average of 25 points per game. Featuring two young quarterbacks with similar statistics, the difference is that Atlanta has the better running attack.
Turnovers might be the key here, because both defenses are very opportunistic. Atlanta has the second best Giveaway/ Takeaway Differential in the NFL and plus-10, while Packers rank fifth at plus-8. Expect the Atlanta crowd to be louder than usual.
Falcons 27 Packers 24
Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders
Both of these teams mirror each other. Their backup quarterbacks start, even though neither team possesses a very good passing attack. Neither defense can stop the run well, though the pass defense is excellent for both.
Oakland can run the ball, while the Miami veteran backfield has been average at best. If the Raiders halfback Darren McFadden goes off, especially since he did next to nothing last Sunday, Oakland should keep their playoff dreams alive.
Raiders 28 Dolphins 13
Kansas City Chiefs @ Seattle Seahawks
This is a battle of the two teams leading the Western Division in both conferences. They are also two teams very few predicted would lead their division at any time in 2010, let alone in the 11th games of their schedules.
Kansas City loves to run the ball and control the clock, while having the best attack in the league right now. Seattle has been winning despite having the 29th ranked offense and 28th ranked defense.
While both have made nice stories so far, all good things must come to an end eventually.
Chiefs 24 Seahawks 17
Saint Louis Rams @ Denver Broncos
While the Rams still dream of winning their division, Denver might want to start preparing for the 2011 draft. While Denver has the better quarterback, Saint Louis has the edge on defense and rushing attack.
Playing in the thin air of Mile High Stadium always takes a team out each year, and the young Rams are the next victims to fall in the fourth because they cant catch their breath.
Broncos 27 Rams 23
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Baltimore Ravens
A battle of 7-3 teams with a lot riding on this game. While Baltimore needs to win to at least maintain a hold on first place in their division, Tampa Bay winning would place them in a tie that could be for first place if Atlanta loses.
While most every NFL fan expected the Ravens to be here right now in 2010, very few saw the Buccaneers winning more than a handful of games. Tampa Bay has a ball control offense that doesn't turn over the ball much, yet they have a good pass defense that has helped them have the sixth best Takeaway/ Giveaway Differential in the league now.
While the Ravens offense hasn't been consistent yet, the defense has been stellar. The return of free safety Ed Reed has helped them more than words can describe. In four games this year, he has four interceptions, four passes defended, and created a score by pitching one of his interceptions to Dawan Landry for the final 23 yards to the end zone.
If quarterback Joe Flacco can be consistent on third down, something he has not done much this season, Baltimore should win with halfback Ray Rice leading the way against a mediocre Buccaneers run defense.
Ravens 26 Buccaneers 17
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears
Bears defensive end Julius Peppers has quietly had a nice season where Chicago has asked him to wear many hats. Perhaps the hat he wears Sunday will have instructions to shadow Eagles quarterback Michael Vick at times.
Vick has been on a roll which has helped Philadelphia win their last three games, something Chicago has also accomplished. The Eagles rarely cough up the football, but often take it away from opponents with the top ranked Takeaway/ Giveaway Differential in the NFL at plus-15.
Though the Bears allow a league best 14.6 points per game average, they only score 19 a game. The Eagles put up over 28 per game, so the Bears defense has even more stress and responsibility. A loss, coupled by a Green Bay win, will drop them into second place.
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler needs to show why the team gave up so much to get him. The Eagles give up points, and their pass defense can be exploited. If he is on his game, the Bears can win.
Eagles 23 Bears 18
San Diego Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts
The NFL fan sees two quarterbacks, heading towards being nominated to represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl, having great seasons that could bring a pile of points Sunday, though both teams are missing several parts on the attack because of injuries.
The Chargers are capable of throwing up a lot of points on a weak Colts defense, and the San Diego defense could allow the Colts to score just as many points. The Bolts rank first in total defense and passing defense, while ranking third in run defense. Their problem is they do not create enough turnovers and have given the ball away 22 times.
They both have scored and allowed almost exactly the same totals in points. The difference here could be the running game. Though neither team has impressed the league in that area this year, San Diego holds the edge.
If the turnovers are held to a minimum, San Diego's resurgence in their quest to try to win the AFC West for the seventh time in eight years continues.
Chargers 38 Colts 30
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals
Derek Anderson's time as a starting quarterback in the NFL appears to be winding down, while it is dubious that any 49er quarterback on the team this season will stay for next year.
Both teams defenses have underachieved most of this season, so the running game might decide this snooze-fest.
49ers 19 Cardinals 17
When the New England Patriots joined the AFC East in 1970, they won two games and the Baltimore Colts won Super Bowl V after two losses all season.
Since then, the Patriots have mostly dominated the rivalry, even after the Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984 and out of their division in 2002. They hold a 42-28 lead on the series and have outscored them more than any other opponent. New England has also won two of the three playoff games between the teams.
Indianapolis has won five of the last six games of a very underrated rivalry that is still going strong. The teams have faced each other in each of the past ten seasons, and the franchises have gone to eight Super Bowl games between them since this rivalry was forged.
Colts head coach Jim Caldwell was recently heard attempting to pump up his team by proclaiming the season hangs in the balance over the result of their match up with New England this Sunday. While Colts general manager Bill Polian said it is presumptuous to assume either team is headed to the playoffs this year, Caldwell's angle behind his push is understandable.
Indianapolis is hanging by a thread right now because several key players are hurt and the depth has failed to step up. Many critics feel the opportunities for quarterback Peyton Manning having a realistic shot at another championship ring are coming to an end.
New England has tried to win this year with a young secondary and vague running attack. They have found themselves relying on halfback Danny Woodhead, a diminutive player who has been a nice surprise after having been buried on the New York Jets bench the previous two years.
What both teams have are quarterbacks headed for induction into Canton one day. They have led teams that have the best record in the NFL the past decade. The quarterbacks hold too many records to list, and appear in the prime of their careers this season as they are legitimate MVP candidates this season.
What they both want is home field advantage in the playoffs. The Colts are a dome team who are their best on the fake grass. Brady has enjoyed the confines of his turf that have seen him set league records with 10 consecutive post season wins and 21 consecutive wins in the NFL.
Polian is right in that no fan should assume the result of this game guarantees the victor home field advantage, let alone entry into the playoffs. Nor does it end the losers season with 17 teams now within two games of the top record in the league.
Fans look at the past events that also heavily involve the quarterbacks of present. Men considered the unquestioned leaders of their respective locker rooms. Though this game decides nothing, it will go a long way in stroking the egos on the side of the winning team.
Oakland Raiders @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Did Al Davis and Dave Casper run down to the Raiders practice field this week to teach the fumblerooski? Was Dick LeBeau showing Steelers the "Immaculate Reception"? Those are two big moments in the history of those teams and this is a big game for two teams that did not like each other much in the 1970's.
Oakland loves to run the ball to win while the Steelers excel in stopping the run. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been far from sharp since his return from suspension, as was seen by their second loss in three weeks last Sunday. An embarrassing loss that was over pretty early, even if "Big Ben" padded his stats in the fourth quarter.
Oakland has won their last three games, scoring 114 points over that time. They had scored 121 points over the previous six games, winning just twice. Their blocking has gotten better, but this week is the biggest test it has had so far this year.
Jason Campbell gets the start at quarterback, even though head coach Tom Cable has publicly said he prefers the now healthy Bruce Gradkowski. If Pittsburgh becomes Blitzburgh, like they have done so many times, there is a good chance both will play.
This game may come down to the kickers, where Oakland holds a huge advantage. Pittsburgh just cut veteran Jeff Reed and signed erratic journeyman Shaun Suisham. Reed, who has had two job offers already, spent all nine of his seasons in Pittsburgh and had missed only 38 of 227 field goal attempts in blustery Hines Field before missing seven this year. Pittsburgh may have jumped the gun too fast on this move.
Oakland 20 Pittsburgh 17
Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals
Now that Buffalo has finally gotten a win this year, it is time to get greedy and go for two in a row. Cincinnati is playing for nothing and only shows any heart and desire in spurts. The only one who may be fired up this week is Terrell Owens, who played in Buffalo last year. But he left on good terms, the first time he ever did so.
Buffalo has a good secondary and the Bengals throw the ball way too much in order to appease their loud mouthed receivers whose best days are behind them. If halfback Fred Jackson runs like he did last week, Buffalo can pull it off.
Bills 23 Bengals 21
Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys
Somehow the Cowboys are still talking as if their season isn't over yet. Too little, too late. It is hot air from a bunch wanting to keep their jobs.
When they beat up the Giants last week, they ran the ball a lot. Strange how former offensive coordinator and new head coach Jason Garrett decided to look to rediscover the rushing attack against a top rated defense. Maybe all of that inept play calling before was a means to sabotage Wade Phillips?
Detroit has to pass the ball well, especially with top running back Jahvid Best hurt. The Cowboys secondary is thin and injured, so the Lions need to lean on wide receiver Calvin Johnson heavily if they want to win.
Dallas 27 Detroit 21
Arizona Cardinals @ Kansas City Chiefs
Reality has hit the Chiefs hard. After a surprising start to their season, they have lost the last two games. Last week saw them down 35-0 quickly before they scored. Facing an Arizona team that has lost their last four games could get Kansas City back on track.
Chiefs 24 Cardinals 16
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
It is time to bench has-been Brett Farve. Brad Childress and everyone in the Vikings organization has to regret going down south to ask him to return. It would be fitting to see his last start come against the Packers, as well as see him get pulled from the game due to ineffectiveness while his Packers replacement, Aaron Rodgers, wins.
Packers 31 Vikings 20
Baltimore Ravens @ Carolina Panthers
Carolina head coach John Fox sent out a loud message recently. Down to his third string halfback, having lost the staring quarterback for the season and his backup recovering from a concussion, Fox signed journeyman Brian St. Pierre a few days ago and has named him a starter.
St. Pierre threw one pass for Pittsburgh in 2004, and four passes for Arizona last year. Baltimore's defense is drooling so hard, they may have to wear bibs on the field Sunday.
Ravens 45 Panthers 0
Cleveland Browns @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Based of their play the past two weeks, Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini may be saving his job. They started their season thinking they would rely on Jerome Harrison and Jake Delhomme. Seneca Wallace was brought in as a precaution for Delhomme. Now Harrison is in Philadelphia and Wallace sits on the bench with Delhomme watching rookie Colt McCoy steer the ship in the right direction.
Peyton Hillis would win Comeback Player of the Year most season, though Michael Vick seems the front runner now. Hillis has already piled up 726 yards on the ground, most of it earned between the tackles. His hard work inspires the team.
Both defenses give up a ton of yards, so this could come down to Hillis and Maurice Jones-Drew and over 40 rushing attempts between them.
Browns 27 Jaguars 24
Washington Redskins @ Tennessee Titans
Things are not well in Redskins Nation these days, and the timing of this game couldn't be worse. With fans and players frustrated by dishonest coaches with their pampered and unproven kids in tow, the team now faces a fired up Titans team who knows they gave away a game last week.
The Redskins made a statement in front of America last Monday by basically laying down as soon as the ball was kicked off. Owner Dan Snyder has to be worried that he may have given away millions of dollars to another idiot.
Tennessee will look to run the ball down Washington's throats, while the Redskins only real chance is for quarterback Donovan McNabb to get hot and carry them to victory.
Titans 27 Washington 13
Houston Texans @ New York Jets
Houston needs to run to win, but the Jets are tough against the run. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has been erratic all year, plus he just got out of the hospital. Not a formula conducive to winning.
Jets 21 Texans 16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ San Francisco 49ers
Niners halfback Frank Gore needs to be on his game here, because the Bucs struggle at stopping the run. Tampa Bay hasn't won on the Niners home turf in over 30 years.
49ers 24 Buccaneers 17
Seattle Seahawks @ New Orleans Saints
Though no one, including the Seahawks themselves, know which Seattle team will show up for this game, the Saints are starting to get a little healthier after suffering so many injuries early in the season.
Saints 34 Seahawks 14
Atlanta Falcons @ Saint Louis Rams
The Falcons made a big statement beating Baltimore last week. A win here keeps the momentum rolling. The Rams are an up and coming team, but it appears the Falcons have arrived.
Falcons 30 Rams 20
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
Game of the Week
The Colts not only are hurting, but they can't run the ball. Peyton Manning is having one of his finest seasons at quarterback, and he will look to carve up a young Patriots secondary. Expect at least 40 passes from him here.
The Patriots do not have as good an offense or defense as the Colts statistically, but they do have one more victory. Tom Brady's numbers are very similar to Manning's, and they too have a running back by committee that has been banged up all year.
This game won't be which quarterback is sharper, because both will be ready. It comes down to who has the best pass rush and whose wide receivers get open most.
Patriots 27 Colts 24
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
To keep it going for DeSean Jackson, the top dog of the NFL, Roger Goodell, just stepped outside of his boundaries as commissioner by telling the media how proud he is of his pup Michael Vick.
Vick has been turned into a legitimate NFL quarterback thanks to hard work by he and coach Marty Mornhinweg. He is playing like the Falcons envisioned when they drafted him before distractions got in the way. Vick has gone from the NFL outhouse to favorite for the MVP Award in just a few weeks.
The Giants performance against the Cowboys last week was disappointing, and it surely was not the performance of a champion. Though they have several veterans who know how to win, it may not matter against the red-hot Vick.
Eagles 34 Giants 30
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
Look out, because the Bolts have two impressive wins in a row after a 2-5 start to their season. Philip Rivers is having an MVP season, even if no one is talking about it as much as they should. The San Diego defense has been excellent as well.
Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton threw for 469 yards and four touchdowns last week, and he has been mostly excellent all season. Halfback Knowshon Moreno appears healthy for the first time all season, coming off his first 100-yard rushing performance this season.
This game is important to both so they stay within reach of the division lead. The Raiders are on top right now with just a 5-4 record.
Chargers 37 Broncos 23