This week some interesting games are coming out of the AFC. We've got Houston vs. Tennessee, Buffalo vs. Jacksonville and New England vs. the Jets. All eyes are going to be on the match-up between Randy Moss of the Patriots and Darrelle Revis of the Jets, which will be a battle between one of the best receivers and one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Needless to say, some of the toughest picks this week came from AFC match-ups.
The NFC also looks exciting this week. St. Louis and Arizona go head to head, while New Orleans and Tampa Bay also battle it out. Though the match-up between the Saints and the Bucs is a quintessential David vs. Goliath, Tampa Bay held their own last week against the Dolphins and may give New Orleans some problems. Right now the division battles are more important than ever and we can't wait to see what the results will be on Sunday! Enjoy, football fans.
Thursday, Nov. 19
Miami Dolphins (4-5-0) at Carolina Panthers (4-5-0)
Rose - Miami
Dennis - Carolina
Ava - Miami
Coming off a decisive victory over the Falcons, Carolina's powerful running game is looking great. Left tackle Jordan Gross sacrificed his ankle for the win, though, and Gross's absence on the field could mean that they will struggle to get back into the wild-card mix. Miami's RB Ronnie Brown has a foot injury will keep him out of the match-up, and may prevent an effective wildcat formation. But the Dolphins haven't lost against the Panthers in three meetings, and Miami trumps Carolina in rushing, passing and receiving. Dolphins break the surface.
A staple on Miami's offense, RB Ronnie Brown is out for the season with an ankle injury. Defensive leader LB Joey Porter is also injured and will not be able to contribute as much as the Dolphins would like. On the other hand, Carolina emerged dominant over division rivals in Atlanta with the complimentary forces of runningbacks DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Panthers will show their own version of the Wildcat to the Dolphins on Thursday.
The Dolphins's ego must be bruised after last week. Sure, a win is a win, but a two-point victory over the Buccaneers isn't much to brag about. On the other hand, Carolina will have some misplaced confidence after their defeat of the spiraling Falcons. Despite the attitudes of each team, Miami will come out on top. Running back Ricky Williams is playing well, and their wildcat offense is always a threat. Carolina, however, is not so good at defending running games (a.k.a. one-of-the-worst-ranked-defenses-in-the-league-for-running-yards-allowed-per-game not good). Even without Ronnie Brown (the Miami running back is out for the rest of the season), the Panthers don't have a chance at beating the Dolphins.
Sunday, Nov. 22
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-7-0)
Rose - Pittsburgh
Dennis - Pittsburgh
Ava - Pittsburgh
After allowing a record three kick-off return touchdowns in four games, the Steelers were forced to admit that backup linebacker Arnold Harrison isn't quite adequate. Despite the fact that the team has had ill-timed turnovers and poor coverage throughout the season, Pittsburgh's defense has only allowed 11 touchdowns so far. The Steelers will be able to use this strength against the Chiefs; even Pittsburgh's slight weaknesses won't deal them a loss at Kansas City.
Many blamed the Steelers's offensive line for their loss to the Bengals. Pittsburgh played poorly, letting pressure get to QB Ben Roethleisberger and failing to create holes for RB Rashard Mendenhall. Still, the rest of the Steelers offensive is incredibly capable; the receiver set includes Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace. Kansas City recently lost WR Dwyane Bowe for a violation of league policy and will be without their greatest offensive weapon as a result. Steelers rebound for a 'W'.
The Steelers are clearly the better team in this match-up. Despite Roethlisberger's loss last week, he has been playing very well lately; he gained roughly 400 yards in his past two games. Also, Kansas City's leading rusher last week was Larry Johnson with 132 carries. Since Johnson was let go from the team and didn't play on Sunday, the statistics don't bode well for the Chiefs.
New Orleans Saints (9-0-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8-0)
Rose - New Orleans
Dennis - New Orleans
Ava - New Orleans
The Buccaneers are imperfect at home: their record is 1-4, and up against the Saints, Tampa Bay is sure to let another win slide by at the Raymond James Stadium. Also, New Orleans surpasses the Buccaneers's total yards per game by more than half. Expect a Saints victory march this Sunday.
New Orleans is a sure win this week. They are simply a better team, both offensively and defensively. However, the Bucs have been playing at a much higher level with the emergence of rookie QB Josh Freeman at the helm of the offense. If Tampa Bay wins, it might just be the biggest upset of the season. But they won't.
The Saints are indisputably the superior team in this match-up – they'll trounce Tampa Bay. All I've got to do is predict whether New Orleans will win by a lot or a little. This is a tricky one because the Saints have shown us that they could do either. Remember last week? That sure wasn't the most dominating win in the world, though it should have been.
Atlanta Falcons (5-4-0) at New York Giants (5-4-0)
Rose - New York
Dennis - New York
Ava - New York
New York's defense has been slightly inconsistent over the past few weeks, however they have the best record for defensive yards in the league. They also rank second overall for 168 pass yards. The statistics are with the Giants for this one.
This match-up could turn out to be very interesting: both are teams in need of a win to give them a boost in the competition for a playoff spot. If RB Michael Turner doesn't show up for the game with an injury, all eyes will be on Jason Snelling to carry the team's ground effort. Otherwise, look for both teams to use the passing game excessively to get offensive work done. Coming off a bye, the Giants have the slight edge and that will be enough to propel them to a win.
The Giants are coming off a badly-needed bye, but this game should still be pretty evenly matched. Matt Ryan and the younger Manning have similar stats: Ryan has 2008 yards for the season, Eli has 2070. Ryan has a 59.7 percent completion rate, Eli has 60 percent. Since the numbers are so close, I predict this game will primarily come down to Michael Turner. If Turner's ankle sprain prevents him from playing on Sunday (he's still undecided), the Giants will take this game. If Turner does play, and plays well, then it could be a Falcons game. But I'm not too comfortable putting my trust in an injured player, so the Giants will get the victory in the Meadowlands.
Buffalo Bills (3-6-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4-0)
Rose - Jacksonville
Dennis - Jacksonville
Ava - Jacksonville
The Bills are in a really bad position right now. They've lost another young starter (LT Demetrius Bell), their playoff chances are shot, defensive end Aaron Schobel condemns the team's "lack of direction" and coach Dick Jauron is gone. What a mess! Comparatively, the Jaguars look squeaky clan. They've got three consecutive wins going for them, and will surely add another to those come Sunday.
If worst comes to worst, Jacksonville will be able to count on one player - RB Maurice Jones-Drew - to carry them to a victory. He has been explosive this season, rushing for 860 yards and 12 touchdowns. On the flip side, Buffalo has been looking unimpressive in recent bouts. It's biggest weapon is rookie FS Jairus Byrd who leads the league with eight interceptions. The Jaguars will definitely be hunting some Bills this week.
The Jags are going to win again this week. Buffalo has the unequivocally worst rushing defense in the league. They allow 206 rushing yards and roughly two rushing touchdowns per game. Put that up against the formidable MJD's 12 touchdowns and 806 yards this season (making him the second most prolific running back in the NFL), and the winner is pretty obvious. Oh yeah, and Buffalo's coach was fired. That's never a good sign.
Indianapolis Colts (9-0-0) at Baltimore Ravens (5-4-0)
Rose - Indianapolis
Dennis - Indianapolis
Ava - Indianapolis
Although the undefeated Colts were close to losing their winning streak last Sunday, incredible Indianapolis pushed for a touchdown when Peyton Manning threw to Reggie Wayne with 13 seconds left in the game. The Colts just barely exceeded the Patriots's score. But Indianapolis has proved themselves reliable. Ranking fourth for points and first for passing yards, the Colts will gallop far over the Ravens.
It's true: Indianapolis has had Lady Luck on their side in the second half of their two last games. But QB Peyton Manning has already proven that he's a master in the clutch, and even rallied back against the Patriots from a 17-point deficit. The key for Baltimore will be to shut down the potent Colts's pass attack and let RB Ray Rice carry the load for the offense. Colts are too powerful offensively; expect a 10-0 record after Week 11.
After coming out slow against the Browns, the Ravens stand with a decent 5-4 record. The Colts had a scare on Monday night, barely beating the Brady Bunch in a nail-biting battle. It seems that Mr. Manning will enter Baltimore looking for a little ego boost and a little redemption. For me, that means I can't pick against Manning or his defense, once again.
Seattle Seahawks (3-6-0) at Minnesota Vikings (8-1-0)
Rose - Minnesota
Dennis - Minnesota
Ava - Minnesota
Even coach Jim Mora has admitted that the Seahawks are looking at a "lost season." Their only vague hope of making some headway against the dominant Vikings is with consistent power on offense. No more abrupt offensive power thrusts - the Seahawks will need to maintain possession and run the ball early, since Minnesota hasn't been doing a perfect job against power runs. Regardless, the Vikings are looking to take this win easily.
Minnesota's offense has developed into one of the league's most dangerous, and has caused problems for just about every opponent so far into the season. WR Sidney Rice had a breakout game last week and RB Adrian Peterson is still widely considered the best runningback in the game today. Seattle suffered a disappointing comeback loss to the Cardinals last week and will need QB Matt Hasselbeck to return to an elite level of play as the offensive leader. Vikings sail through the Seahawks.
I've got to go with the Vikings, especially at home against a team that is 0-4 on the road. There's a reason that Adrian Peterson was called A.D. when he was at Oklahoma. The A.D. stood for All Day because Peterson can run all day! As the league's number two in rushing, he's living up to his old nickname. He had two touchdowns and 133 yards last game. Plus, La Favre is playing well also. Definitely Minnesota for this one.
Cleveland Browns (1-8-0) at Detroit Lions (1-8-0)
Rose - Detroit
Dennis - Detroit
Ava - Detroit
Well, this is really the battle of the big guys! Tied at fourth in their respective divisions, the Browns and Lions are both facing weakness. Detroit is well on its way to having one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history, and Cleveland won't be able to use its wildcat formation due to Josh Cribbs's injury, although Jamal Lewis will probably step up to the plate. But Detroit has the slight upper hand, although this won't be a very intense game to watch.
Two 1-8 teams get their best chance to improve to two wins on the season. Offensively, as long as Detroit has young phenom WR Calvin Johnson on the roster, the Lions will have the edge over the Browns. This is also Brown's QB Brady Quinn's chance at redemption after an embarrassing loss against the Ravens on Monday night. Lions roar their way to a 2-8 record.
Ahh. A head-to-head of two 1-8 teams - how riveting. I'll give the Lions another chance in this one; hopefully they won't disappoint. Neither team has standout strengths or weaknesses, and this game really depends on who wants to scrape themselves off of the bottom of the rankings.
Washington Redskins (3-6-0) at Dallas Cowboys (6-3-0)
Rose - Dallas
Dennis - Dallas
Ava - Dallas
Since Clinton Portis's recent concussion will probably keep him out of Sunday's game, the Redskins may be without a running back. Another Washington weakness is that they will be facing a talented Dallas defense, which will require much more running and passing if they hope to upset their opponent. While the Redskins's running game was fairly good last week, they are facing a tougher team this week, and won't hold up well enough to guarantee a victory.
Greatest rivalry in the history of the league? Maybe so. The Washington-Dallas match-up has always proved to be an exciting game. No less should be expected this week, regardless of current records. WR Miles Austin and the rest of the 'Boys seemed to be on a hot streak before a disappointing loss to Green Bay, and the Skins surprisingly upset the Broncos last week. Watch for the 'Boys to stick to their running game against the top-tier Skin's pass defense. Dallas comes up big in a heated rivalry.
I, for one, am disappointed these two teams aren't playing the week of Thanksgiving! I fondly remember having this game on mute during Thanksgiving dinner, but sadly times have changed. Another thing that makes me sad: the Cowboys lost pretty badly last week, just as I was starting to trust Mr. Romo! Still, this game is a traditional rivalry, and I think the Cowboys will show up despite the fact that Redskins faith was rejuvenated last Sunday. Jason Campbell is being a mediocre quarterback as of late, but Clinton Portis won't be joining him on the field on Sunday. This puts pressure on Ladell Betts and the rest of Washington's offense, pressure they won't be able to handle. Cowboys win.
San Francisco 49ers (4-5-0) at Green Bay Packers (5-4-0)
Rose - Green Bay
Dennis - Green Bay
Ava - Green Bay
With defensive heat, San Francisco has become one of the toughest teams to run on. Unfortunately, they don't have a great pass rush. The 49ers may be unable to tackle Green Bay and their ability to pile on the sacs. Coming off a victory over a big-time rival, the Packers should be ready to bring it.
The Packers lead the 49ers offensively in total yards by nearly 100 yards. If QB Aaron Rodgers can play his part, the rest of the offensive can hold up. The Packers have won six in a row over the 49ers. If history does repeat, Green Bay gets this win over San Fransisco easily.
Green Bay is coming off a big win against the Cowboys, so they've got some confidence right now. San Francisco is a fairly mediocre team at 4-5. Frank Gore really is the only threat that the 49ers have, and he alone can't carry his team past the Packers.
Arizona Cardinals (6-3-0) at St. Louis Rams (1-8-0)
Rose - Arizona
Dennis - Arizona
Ava - Arizona
The Cardinals are first in the NFC West. The Rams are fourth. Especially with Kurt Warner's strength (a league-high 72.6 completion percentage and 10 touchdowns), the Cardinals won't be undermined.
QB Kurt Warner is facing his former team and will look to have a major impact on the outcome of the game. In addition, he's facing St. Louis's 25th ranked defense. To their credit, though, the Rams put up one of the biggest challenges to the Saints so far this season. It'll be interesting to see if they can keep up their play. For now, the Cards will emerge victorious.
This one is a fairly easy pick. Kurt Warner hasn't been too shabby, especially last week. In last Sunday's game against Seattle, Warner got 340 yards, had two touchdowns and had a 76 percent completion rate! Sure, it was against the Seahawks, but props are due nonetheless. Runningback Beanie Wells has also been pulling some good stats - he's having a bit of a breakout in this part of the season. As for Arizona's opponent, St. Louis only has one really good player on their team. And even with Steven Jackson, the Rams won't win.
New York Jets (4-5-0) at New England Patriots (6-3-0)
Rose - New England
Dennis - New England
Ava - New England
New York's defensive line is still struggling, which may be why they couldn't quite pull a victory over Jacksonville last Sunday. But they still boast one of the most productive rushing games this season, with 170 yards per game. New England's defense has been inconsistent, but the Jets have really been slipping lately. This win belongs to the Patriots.
New England fell victim to Indianapolis in what turned out to be a last-minute heart-breaker. This game is a very interesting match-up: pitting Patriots's WR Randy Moss against Jets's CB Darelle Revis. In addition, struggling QB Mark Sanchez will face a poised Patriots defense that picked off Peyton Manning twice last week. I'll give this one to the Pats.
New England faced a tough loss to the Colts last week. Thank goodness, too, because Dennis almost caught up to me in the standings! Anyway, the Pats will certainly be fired up at home, and the Jets haven't been doing well. The Patriots will be looking to draw some New York blood and cause some New York tears, especially in this important divisional game.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-2-0) at Oakland Raiders (2-7-0)
Rose - Cincinnati
Dennis - Cincinnati
Ava - Cincinnati
The Bengals are coming off their Pittsburgh match-up feeling pretty good about themselves. They beat the Steelers at home, which ruined Pittsburgh's 10-game Heinz Field winning streak. The Bengals also trump the Raiders in every offensive category, and will have no difficulty conquering the weak Raiders.
Cincinnati took a giant step toward conquering the AFC North after sweeping Pittsburgh last week. They showed that they could dominate on both sides of the ball with their cornerback tandem of Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall this week. The Raiders are looking like a wreck; former first-round pick QB JaMarcus Russell has finally been benched, making Bruce Gradkowski the starting quarterback. The Bengals blow out the Raiders.
We have a 7-2 team against a 2-7 team – it's really not fair for the Raiders. Cincinnati has been playing awesome football throughout the season, and they're really showing what they could've done with a healthy Carson Palmer. Now, Palmer is no excuse for any bad games the Bengals may have had, but their record could've been 9-0! However, after this week, I think Cincinnati will be content with 8-2.
San Diego Chargers (6-3-0) at Denver Broncos (6-3-0)
Rose - San Diego
Dennis - San Diego
Ava - San Diego
In their past three games, the Broncos have slipped. They've allowed their opponents to gain more than 120 yards each time. And the fact that they lost to the Redskins is a clear indicator of their diminishing ability. On the other hand, the Chargers are on an upward trend. Their recent win over Philadelphia shows they're on a roll with four consecutive victories. The Broncos may have been the better team, but recent trends are swaying my pick toward the Chargers.
We haven't seen a spark in San Diego's RB LaDanian Tomlinson for a couple of seasons. Now the ground game can compliment the pass attack. Denver hasn't been looking anything like the 6-0 team they were at the start of the season. Chargers turn the lights off this week.
Denver seems to be deteriorating before our very eyes! Losing to the Redskins? Atrocious. So that makes this game very tough to choose. Three scenarios come to mind. One: The Broncos could be ticked off after losing to the lowly Redskins and looking for a good, fair win. Two: Denver could come out fired up a win. Or three: San Diego could come out early and Denver could lose confidence. So herein lies the problem: picking a winner. I hesitate to pick against Denver at home, so I'll go with the Chargers.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-4-0) at Chicago Bears (4-5-0)
Rose - Philadelphia
Dennis - Philadelphia
Ava - Philadelphia
With Brian Westbrook cast to the sidelines with a concussion yet again (this time, it may be for the rest of the season), RB LeSean McCoy should bring his skill to the field. Right now, McCoy leads the Eagles with an average of 4.1 yards a carry and 353 rushing yards. For the Bears, it hasn't been a great season. In fact, Jay Cutler recently threw five interceptions at San Francisco last week, creating a career record. The Eagles soar high on Sunday.
Both of these teams are in dire need of a boost, which could come in the form of a win this week. RB LeSean McCoy is going to have to step up in place of starter Brian Westbrook to take some of the load off of QB Donovan McNabb. If the Eagles can get a running game going, the 21st-ranked Chicago run defense may be in some trouble. Eagles soar this week.
The Bears haven't done well recently and the Eagles are coming off a loss to San Diego. Though they are away, the Eagles have more positive things going for them. For example, Jay Cutler (despite his annoying whiny attitude) is a definite threat.
Monday, Nov. 23
Tennessee Titans (3-6-0) at Houston Texans (5-4-0)
Rose - Houston
Dennis - Houston
Ava - Tennessee
Despite the fact that Houston is coming off a bye week with a great passing game and productive defense, Vince Young may bring Tennessee the fourth of their consecutive wins. The Titans now boast the NFL's leading rusher, and both Young and RB Chris Johnson can carry the Tennessee team. But the Texans will make it tough for Tennessee to continue their streak. Houston defense is just too good.
This is probably the hardest game to pick this week. With the emergence of QB Vince Young and the play-making ability of RB Chris Johnson in the past few weeks, Tennessee may be the easier choice for fans. However, the Texans are also playing well; they just barely lost against the Colts before their bye week. As a team, QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson make one of the best quarterback-receiver connections, and if LB Brian Cushing keeps up his performance, Johnson might be knee-deep in trouble. Texans win a close one.
Here's a big game in the AFC South for Monday night! This one's another tough choice, but I'm going to stick with the Tennessee bandwagon. Vince has just been tearing things up recently! He's showing leadership and confidence, and will prevail even without the, er, support that Bud Adams was showing his team last week.
Dennis Chae. Whhaazzaaa, I'm Dennis Chae. I love my Baltimore Ravens and shoes. In fact, I collect sneakers and am always looking for a new pair of Nikes. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is probably going to be the greatest thing ever in a year or so. I ... More »
Ava Wallace. More »
Rose Wynn. I love piña coladas, getting caught in the rain and the ladies of the Blair Pom Squad. More »