NFL: Week 9 Thoughts

We’ve passed the half-way point, and there are still a couple team looking for a their first win, and the Chiefs remain unbeaten, despite teams best efforts.

6 more teams were off this week: New York, Detroit, Jacksonville, Denver, Arizona and San Francisco.

NFC EAST (A Strange Thing Happened- Everyone Not on a Bye Won)

  • Cowboys: They never make it easy, almost losing to a one win Minnesota team at home.  But Tony Romo shook off a late interception to drive his team to a late second game winning touchdown to Dwayne Harris.  Jason Witten had a good day, catching 8 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.  Their rush defense couldn’t slow down Adrian Peterson, but they did a good job on Christian Ponder in the pass game.  (5-4)
  • Eagles: Nick Foles really doesn’t want to give up his starting job.  He only threw for 7 touchdowns, tying an NFL record with 6 other QBs (Peyton Manning did this in the season opener).   Wide-receiver Riley Cooper was the beneficiary of 3 of those touchdowns, finishing with 139 yards receiving.  Not to be outdone, Desean Jackson finished with 150 yards and a touchdown on the day.  This after a few weeks of struggles on offense, and against a previously top 10 ranked defense in Oakland. (4-5)
  • Redskins: It took overtime, but Washington was able to pick up a win and stay on pace with the rest of their division mates.  As if they needed more weapons on the ground, with RGIII and Alfred Morris on the roster, full-back Darrell Young emerged and found the end-zone 3 times, including the game winner.  Entering action, Young had only carried the ball twice this season.  Add 121 more yards from Morris, and you have why this team survived the Chargers comeback attempt.  (3-5)
  • Giants: Bye Week. (2-6)

NFC NORTH (These Teams Can Score With Anyone)

  • Packers:  A division loss bigger than most.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a what turned out to be a fractured collarbone on Green Bay’s opening drive, and is expected to miss at least 3 weeks.  Seneca Wallace didn’t do much in his absence, completing just 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and an interception.  Rookie runner Eddie Lacy did all he could to make up for the Rodgers injury, picking up 150 yards and a touchdown on the ground.  The loss snaps a 6-game win streak over NFC North opponents. (5-3)
  • Lions: Bye Week. (5-3)
  • Bears: No Jay Cutler. No problem.  Back-up Josh McCown had a good day, throwing for 272 yards and two touchdowns, and no turnovers.  Brandon Marshall had a big day receiving, catching 7 passes for 107 yards and a score.  The wide-out was only outdone by back Matt Forte, who ran for 125 and a score.  Defensive end Shea McClellin had 3 of Chicago’s 4 sacks on the night.  (5-4)
  • Vikings: They had a chance to pick up their 2nd win of the year, but they left too much time on the clock for the Dallas offense.  Adrian Peterson woke up, rushing for a 140 yards and a score.  Ponder added another score on the ground, and threw one to tight-end Kyle Rudolph, who left late with a foot injury.  3 sacks on the day, including two by Brian Robison.  Make it 4 straight in the loss column. (1-7)

NFC SOUTH (New Orleans Has Company)

  • Saints: If you’ve got a good front 7, you can beat this team.  Losing Darren Sproles in the 1st quarter, and being without franchise TD leader Marques Colston didn’t help, but there are too many weapons on this team to lose to an inconsistent Jets team.  But it happened, thanks in large part to two Drew Brees interceptions and a lack of a run game following the Sproles injury.  (6-2)
  • Panthers: Cam Newton wasn’t as mistake free as he’s been, but it didn’t stop Carolina from picking up their fourth straight win.  Newton threw two interceptions, and just one touchdown, but he did run one in.  The defense is a big reason for the win, pitching a shutout in the 2nd half, and picking off Matt Ryan 3 times.  Cornerback Drayton Florence returned one of those interceptions for a 38-yard touchdown.  Fullback Mike Tolbert scored his 5th TD during the win streak. (5-3)
  • Falcons:  So much for this team making a run.  Another 3 Matt Ryan picks meant another loss for a team with superbowl aspirations.  Steven Jackson had his first rushing touchdown as falcon, but littleness can be found in the bright spot category for Atlanta.  Much like Houston in the AFC, this team is a big disappointment.  (2-6)
  • Buccaneers: They managed to carry a 21-3 lead into the halfe time break against a very good Seahawks team on the road.  but then the Seattle defense picked up and their bid for win number 1 came to an end in overtime. (0-8)

NFC WEST (Seattle Hasn’t Looked Great Lately, But Keeps On Winning)

  • Seahawks: For the 2nd week in a row, this didn’t look like the best team in the NFC, but luckily for them, they weren’t playing high caliber teams.  They put themselves in a big hole early against the winless Bucs, and needed an extra frame to finish them off.  A big reason for the win was the contributions of Golden Tate on punt returns and Marshawn Lynch in the run game.  (8-1)
  • 49ers: Bye Week. (6-2)
  • Cardinals: Bye Week(4-4)
  • Rams: It took til week nine, but this team finally picked up their first rushing touchdown of the season.  It was apart of a second consecutive 100-yard game from rookie Zac Stacy, who finished with 127 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.  Too bad for St. Louis, it wasn’t enough.  Kellen Clemens was mediocre, throwing for 210 and a score, but he did lose a fumble.   Their defense did get to interceptions, and record 3 sacks. (3-6)

AFC EAST (Looking Like A Two Team Race)

  • Patriots: They tied an NFL season high with 55 points, and had a big day on the ground and in the air.  Tom Brady had 252 passing yards in the 1st half alone, more than 5 of his first 8 games this season.  He finished with 432 and four touchdowns, including a 2 to Aaron Dobson and 1 to Rob Gronkowski, both who finished with over 100 yards receiving   Danny Amendola also tallied a 100+ yard game, as did Stevan Ridley, though his work was on the ground.  The defense wasn’t spectacular, but you don’t need to be if the offense clicks like it did this time out. (7-2)
  • Jets: This team continues to play to the level of their opponents, and has still yet to lose or win 2 in a row.  They absolutely shut down the Saints on defense, and did a lot of good on offense.  Chris Ivory bounced back from a poor week 8 to deliver nearly 140 rushing yards and a touchdown.  Geno Smith wasn’t great, but he didn’t turn the ball over either.  Nick Foles continues to have a great year kicking the football, making all 4 of his field-goal attempts; he’s now 23 for his last 23, the longest streak in the league.  The defense did a good job stopping the run, and limiting the Saints high-powered offense.  (5-4)
  • Dolphins: It wasn’t pretty, but when you snap a 4-game losing streak, all you want is the win.  For only the 3rd time in NFL history, Miami won on a safety, thanks to a Cameron Wake sack.  It was a strange way to end their skid, but there were a lot of good things Thursday night.  The defense was good all night, forcing 3 Bengals turnovers and limiting too many big passing plays, and of course the game winning safety.  Ryan Tannehill also had a nice game, especially on the drive late in the 4th to help force overtime. (4-4)
  • Bills: They managed a season best 470 yards of total offense against a stout defense. But two turnovers in the 2nd half were returned for scores, killing any chance of handing KC their first loss of the year.  Jeff Tuel’s pass at the goal line in the opening minutes of the 2nd half was picked off and returned a 100 yards to tie the score at 10.  CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson combined for nearly 200 yards on the ground, but no scores.  Their defense did a good job, but it wasn’t enough.  (3-6)

AFC NORTH (Cincy Isn’t All Defense These Days, But They Are All Alone at the Top)

  • Bengals: They didn’t play like a team that entered action on a 4-game win streak.  To be fair, not many teams fair well on a short week, but after the way this team has been playing on offense, they were almost as bad for much of the game.  Two Mike Nuggent field-goals and running back Giovani Bernard wee the scoring offense for Cincy on Thursday.  Bernard found the end-zone twice, while fellow back BenJarvis Green-Ellis helped out on the ground in a nice way.  Andy Dalton had been so great in the past four, but three picks and taking a game losing safety in OT was a big step backward.  This while the defense did an uncharacteristically bad job stopping the Dolphins run game. (6-3) 
  • Browns: Snapping an 11-game losing streak to anyone is nice, but to a division rival, which helps you leap frog them in the standings, is a beautiful thing. Cleveland did a lot of good things against Baltimore, and it all started with Jason Campbell under center. The 31-year-old QB threw 3 touchdowns, 2 to Davone Bess, for 262 yards, while not turning the ball over. Greg Little had a big day, with 122 yards receiving. Cleveland won while getting nothing out of star tight-end Jordan Cameron and very little out the run game.  (4-5)
  • Ravens: The reigning Super Bowl champs countinure to sputter, losing to Cleveland for the first time in the Joe Flacco era. Flacco didn’t have a bad day, throwing for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns to Marlon Brown, but he was picked off once. And you know you have a problem when Flacco leads the team in rushing with 25. Ray Rice continues to struggle mightily on the ground, and this team isn’t the same without him going well. (3-5)
  • Steelers: You’re not going to win many games when you allow a franchise high in points, especially when it’s to the Patriots.  And that’s exactly what happened Sunday at Foxborough.  They got down early, and managed to come back to tie the score at 24 in the 3rd quarter, but were outscored 31-7 the rest of the way.  Jericho Cotchery benefited from a big day by Ben Roethlisberger, catching 3 touchdown passes, but big Ben also threw 2 picks in the loss.  They allowed New England to gain 630 yards of offense. (2-6)

AFC South  (The Luck Still Hasn’t Run Out)

  • Colts: For the 10th time in his young career, Andrew Luck led his team on a fourth quarter comeback. He had some help from breakout receiver TY Hilton, who caught 3 touchdowns. Hilton had really stepped up in the absence of Reggie Wayne. Indy continues to get nothing in the run game, as Trent Richardson continues to struggle since coming over in a trade earlier this year. A couple of two-point conversions on late TDs and a couple of missed Houston field goals helped secure the come from behind win. (6-2)
  • Titans: Jake Locker was not good, but luckily Chris Johnson picked up the slack on the ground.  Locker had only thrown 1 pick all season, but threw two Sunday, though he did score with his legs. The run game was the offense, with Johnson scoring twice, and Shone Green adding another. The defense did enough in the end, and this team is in the hunt, just two games back and two left with Indy, (4-4)
  • Texans:  Case Keenum looked like really good in the 1st half, thanks in large part to Andre Johnson  who had nearly 200 yards receiving before the break.  The young starter had his team up 21-3 over a good Indianapolis squad heading into the break, then things took a turn for the worse.  In a scary moment, head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed as the teams headed to the locker room.  He was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons and was treated at the hospital with medicine that’s “designed to break up clots consistent with people who suffer strokes.”  Wade Phillips took over head coaching duties, and the team didn’t respond.  Randy Bullock missed two field goals and the team was held to just 3 points in the half as the Colts came back yet again  They’re now losers of 6 straight. (2-6)
  • Jaguars: Bye week. (0-8)

AFC WEST (KC Likes Winning So Much They Just Keep Doing It)

  • Chiefs: Another case of making it hard on themselves, but finding a way to get it done for the leagues remaining unbeaten.  Down 10-3 at the half, the defense picked up in the 2nd half to help get them another win.  Linebacker Tamba Hali and cornerback Sean Smith both returned turnovers for touchdowns.  The offense was non-existent, managing just 210 yards of total offense.  (9-0)
  • Broncos: Bye Week – It wasn’t a quiet week off for Denver, as the learned they’ll be without head coach John Fox for an extended amount of time.  The 58-year-old Fox felt light-headed while golfing, went to the hospital, and will have heart surgery.  Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will take over in his absence. (7-1)
  • Chargers: With a chance to win in regulation, what they thought was a Danny Woodhead touchdown was ruled down inside the 1.  And somehow they couldn’t punch it in.  Resulting in a game-tying field goal, and ending in an overtime loss to Washington.  Rookie wide-out Keenan Allen continues to impress, catching 8 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.  Philip Rivers had a bad 1st half, but picked it up in the 2nd half.  In the end, the Skins ability to run it in from inside the 10 proved too much.  This team continues to be very up and down.  (4-4)
  • Raiders: The defense had been on a role, but they had no answer for the Eagles passing game on Sunday.  Their run game led by Terrelle Pryor was good again, with Rashad Jennings getting over 100 yards following an injury to Darren McFadden.  But it’s pretty hard to come back from a 28-13 1st half deficit if you yourself cannot throw the ball too well.  Sure Pryor finished with 288 yards passing, but couldn’t find the end-zone while throwing two picks. (3-5)

That’s it.  Week 10 approaches.

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NFL: Week 9 Predictions

Welcome to the second half of the season.  Another 6 teams have their bye week here in week 9: the Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, Jaguars, 49ers and Lions.

A very good week for me in week 8, as I went 11-2.  Let’s try to match that this week shall we?

Thursday Night Football

  • Cincinnati @ Miami: One team is on a 4-game winning streak, the other, a 4-game losing streak.  And while I think the Dolphins are better than what they’ve shown during their skid, I think the Bengals are too hot right now.  I give the road team with their stellar defense, and on-fire quarterback the edge in this one. CINCY WINS

1PM Sunday Games

  • Atlanta @ Carolina: The Panthers have been really good of late on both sides of the football.  The Falcons have been inconsistent to say the least.  If the birds want to make a run at a playoff spot, they’ve got to start with this road divisional game.  I think it will be close, but I think Matt Ryan limits the turnovers and the defense does just enough to help them get win number 3. ATLANTA WINS
  • Minnesota @ Dallas: The Vikings scored a lot on Green Bay’s defense last weekend.  This as the Cowboys allowed a lot of scoring on their own defense in a bad last-second loss.  And despite not knowing if the Boys will get back their starting running back or not, Tony Romo is a better quarterback than everyone on Minnesota’s roster. So I’m taking the home team. DALLAS WINS
  • New Orleans @ New York Jets: The Saints are cruising atop the NFC South, while the Jets sit two back in the AFC East.  Geno Smith has yet to lose two, or win two in a row in his rookie campaign.  But I think Drew Brees and company will change this, and hand New York their second straight loss to drop them below .500. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Tennessee @ St Louis: The Rams defense did a very good job of stopping the Seahawks high-powered offense on Monday night.  But the offense couldn’t help them out.  The Titans are fresh off their bye with getting to .500 on their minds.  Jake Locker has been a lot better this year than most people realize, because he tends to get banged up a lot.  But I think having had the extra week to get healthy, the Titans are ready to pick up a big road win.  TENNESSEE WINS
  • Kansas City @ Buffalo: Sure the Chiefs are probably due for a loss, and this being a road game against a pretty good defense, this could be the week.  But I haven’t really liked what I’ve seen from Thad Lewis since taking over for the injured EJ Manuel.  I think if Alex Smith continues being smart with the football, this will be a fairly easy win for the leagues remaining undefeated team. KANSAS CITY WINS
  • San Diego @ Washington: The Chargers have been inconsistent this season, but are on an upward trend coming out of a bye.  RGIII is in the midst of a sophomore slump following his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2012.  The biggest difference for San Diego right now is their running game, led by Ryan Matthews, is starting to round into form. I think this continues, and the Chargers hand the Redskins their 2nd straight loss. SAN DIEGO WINS

4/4:25PM Sunday Games:

  • Philadelphia @ Oakland: The Eagles offense is not what Chip Kelly invisioned when he signed on to be the head coach before the season.  A big reason for that is the oft-injured Michael Vick, who left Sundays game against New York after reinjuring his hamstring.  That means Nick Foles will be back under center.  As for the Raiders, Terrelle Pryor has already matched their win total from a year ago, despite not having stellar numbers throwing the football.  His biggest threat has been on the ground, and I think that’s where he, and Darren McFadden get it done again this week.  OAKLAND WINS
  • Tampa Bay @ Seattle: The Bucs remain winless, and now have to go to a place where Russell Wilson doesn’t lose.  And this after Wilson had a bad game in St. Louis.  That just doesn’t seem fair, but this is football.  SEATTLE WINS
  • Baltimore @ Cleveland: Cleveland continues to show improvement, even in losses, but there are no moral victories in Football.  As for the Ravens, they’re coming off a bye and looking to right the ship.  Ray Rice has had a down year, but always plays well off the bye, and will need to this week in order to get a road win.  Also look for Torrey Smith to have a big game.  BALTIMORE WINS
  • Pittsburgh @ New England: The Steelers are another team having a down year, while the Patriots continue to find new and interesting ways to scrape wins together.  I think this will be another close game for the Pats, but they always do well at home, and with Stevan Ridley running the way he is, give me the home team. NEW ENGLAND WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Indianapolis @ Houston: Case Keenum showed something in his first start for the Texans, almost leading them to a win against KC.  But their defense hasn’t been what everyone thought pre-season, and the run game is beat up.  As for the Colts, they’ve beaten some of the leagues best teams, and Andrew Luck has looked good doing it.  I want to say the Texans will make a game of it, but in the end, the Colts get it done. INDY WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Chicago @ Green Bay: This is my favorite match-up of the week.  Two very good NFC North teams looking to establish themselves as the team to beat in the division.  The packers hold the edge right now thanks to already having had their bye week, but a Bears win would go a long way in closing the gap.  Their defense got off to such a hot start, but has seen a drop-off since their 3-0 start.  Losing Jay Cutler didn’t help the team, and he won’t be back this week. So despite the Packers defense letting Minnesota score a lot last week, give me Aaron Rodgers by 7.  GREEN BAY WINS

There you have it.  13 games that are sure to be fun to watch. Enjoy everybody.

NFL: Week 8 Predictions

Week 8. Wow. We’ve come to the halfway point of the season (for teams that haven’t taken a bye that is).

Speaking of byes, six teams are off this week: the Ravens, Bears, Titans, Colts, Chargers and Texans.

I went 9-6 last week in my picks, and now here are my picks for week 8.

Thursday Night Football

  • Carolina @ Tampa Bay: It’s not the most glamorous matchup to get Week 8 started.  Cam Newton and his Panthers offense have been playing very well the last few weeks, while Mike Glennon had a good day in a loss to Atlanta.  The Bucs are still looking for their first win and are without their top back after Doug Martin tore a labrum last weekend.  The Panthers defense has been very good at getting to the quarterback, and if they can do the same thing to Glennon, I see this being another easy win for the cats.  CAROLINA WINS

1PM Sunday Games

  • San Francisco @ Jacksonville: Let’s be honest, the Jags are bad, and the 49ers are hot.  Jacksonville had its best game 2 weeks ago against Denver and still lost by almost 20 points. The revolving door of Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne at quarterback continues, with Henne getting the nod this week.  The run game for the Niners, coupled with a great defense, is just too much for a flawed Jacksonville team. SAN FRAN WINS
  • Cleveland @ Kansas City: Brandon Weedon to the bench, Jason Campbell under center for the Browns.  Off two straight bad performances, Cleveland is trying something different.  A tough time to change quarterbacks when they’re on the road taking on the leagues only undefeated team.  At 7-0, the Chiefs are obviously playing good football, particularly on defense, and should have another big day. KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Miami @ New England: I was surprised at how bad the Dolphins played out of the gate last week, coming off their bye.  The offense got going and took the lead over Buffalo, but couldn’t hold it.  The same came be said for the Patriots, who managed to force overtime against the Jets.  The Pats hold just a one game edge in the East, and the Dolphins are now 2 back.  This is a big game for both squads, but give me the home team. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Buffalo @ New Orleans: The Bills offense played well a week ago against Miami, and the defense made the plays late to secure a victory.  But they have to do a better job of holding a lead if they get one against the Saints, which is easier said than done. And I don’t really see them having a lead, let alone holding one.  I think the week off the Saints good, and not to mention how hard it is to play in the Superdome. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Dallas @ Detroit: Two high-powered offenses in this one. The Lions lost a tough one against Cincy, the cowboys won an easy one against Philly.  But Detroit actually played better on offense than Dallas did a week ago, and with DeMarco Murray still questionable for this week, I think the Lions just have more weapons right now, both offensively and defensively. DETROIT WINS
  • New York Giants @ Philadelphia: The G-Men finally enter a game coming off a win, the Eagles head in on a loss.  Some good news for Philly, who will be getting back Michael Vick. The ground game was better for the Giants for a second straight week, while the defense has done a great job stopping the run themselves.  I think a with a win under their belt, the Giants start to find a rhythm. Rarely do these two teams sweep the season series, and I think the Giants get a big road win, their first.  NEW YORK WINS

4/4:25PM Sunday Games

  • Pittsburgh @ Oakland: They’re still not playing their best football, but the Steelers have no won two straight against good teams. They’re doing a good job stoping the run, which they’ll need against Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders.  Oakland is coming off their bye week and while they’ve played better this season than most expected, I think the Steelers get a third straight and continue to get good progress out of Le’Veon Bell. PITTSBURGH WINS
  • New York Jets @ Cincinnati: The Jets got a big division win last week, while the Bengals increased their own division lead.  Both teams have gotten big performances out of their defenses this season.  But I think the difference will be Andy Dalton finding his rhythm, while Geno Smith continues to have one up and one down game, as to be expected with rookie QBs.  I just really like how the Cincy is playing, and have been able to win without much production in the run game, something they probably won’t get against New York.  Another case of give me the home team here. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Atlanta @ Arizona: Matt Ryan should get back Roddy White and possibly even Steven Jackson, giving him two more weapons to play with.  The Cardinals got off to a good start this season, but I think the Falcons are primed for a run.  ATLANTA WINS
  • Washington @ Denver: The Redskins offense was on point last week, but the defense was not.  And despite a tweaked ankle for Peyton Manning, this offense is going to be motivated coming off their first loss.  It might not be a blowout, but I can’t see the Broncos losing a 2nd straight, especially with this being a home game. DENVER WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Green Bay @ Minnesota: The Packers are now down 2 of their best offensive weapons with the loss of wide-out Randall Cobb and tight-end Jermichael Finley.  But the Vikings are back to a change at QB now that after 1 start Josh Freeman has a concussion, meaning Christian Ponder will be under center.  GREEN BAY WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Seattle @ St. Louis: The Seahawks are just better than the Rams, and without Sam Bradford under center, it doesn’t help.  The Rams have added Brady Quinn and Austin Davis to the roster, after only being left with Kellen Clemens.  No word on who gets the start yet, but I don’t think it really matters. SEATTLE WINS

So that’s it.  Enjoy week 8 everybody.

NFL: Week 7 Predictions

Two teams are on their bye as the NFL heads into week 7.  The Saints and Raiders have time off after they each lost in week 6.

As for me, I had a pretty good week 6, going 10-5 in my picks, so let’s see if I can at least match that this time around.

Thursday Night Football

  • Seattle @ Arizona:  It’s an NFC West showdown to kick off the week of football.  The Seahawks are looking like a top 2-3 team in the NFC, while the Cardinals are much improved from a year ago.  Seattle is coming off a win, Arizona a loss.  I think it will be close for most of the game, but Seattle’s defense will make a big play late to seal their 6th win of the season. SEATTLE WINS

1PM Sunday Games

  • Tampa Bay @ Atlanta: This division game is actually a battle to stay out of last place. Shocking yes.  But still true.  The Falcons are having a down year to say the least, and lost Julio Jones for the year before their bye week.  They’ll also be without Roddy White for the first time in his 8-year career.  The Bucs are win-less and had a hard time stopping any part of the Eagles high-powered offense in week 6. Even without Jones and White,  I see think Matt Ryan can lead his team to win number 2. ATLANTA WINS
  • Chicago @ Washington: The Bears already beat one NFC East team this month, can they do it again?  If their offensive line can protect Jay Cutler like they did last week, they’ve got a shot.  The Redskins weren’t anything to write home about last week, but they’ve got one thing that can really tip the score in their favors.  The bears usually shutdown defense has been suspect of late, and they let Brandon Jacobs turn back the clock and have a big day on the ground.  I’m going with the road team, but if RGII and Alfred Morris can get it going big time running the football, this could be Washington’s night.  CHICAGO WINS
  • Dallas @ Philadelphia: Another week of NFC East fun for the Cowboys, against the team they’re currently tied for first place with.  Neither team has looked good for more than a week at a time, so with both coming off wins, this will give one team their first winning streak of the season.  The Boys will be without starting back DeMarco Murray, and Nick Foles should get another start at QB after a great performance in place of the injured Michael Vick.  I think Dallas is the better team, even without Murray, and Demarcus Ware who suffered a pulled quad last week.  DALLAS WINS
  • New England @ New York Jets:  The Patriots are feeling good after a late second win over the Saints, while the Jets took a step backwards against Pittsburgh.  New England already has a 3-point win over their AFC foes, and I think they get another one.  Their run game is starting to improve, and Tom Brady is feeling a lot more comfortable with his new receiving core.  But don’t be surprised if this is another one-score game.  NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Buffalo @ Miami: The Dolphins are coming off their bye and are looking to keep pace with the Patriots.  The Bills are looking to get back in the win column with a new quarterback.  I think Buffalo showed a lot coming back in the 4th quarter last week against Cincy. But I think Miami is just the better team, and with it being a home game for the Dolphins, that tips the scale for me.  MIAMI WINS
  • San Diego @ Jacksonville:  The Jags played probably their best game of the year against Denver, while the Chargers probably played their best game against Indy.  San Diego has been very up and down this year, while Jacksonville is has looked a bit better the last two weeks, though moral victories in an 0-6 season don’t count for much.  I’d like to say this is the week the Jaguars get rid of the zero, but I think Phillip Rivers and company make it two in a row.  SAN DIEGO WINS
  • St. Louis @ Carolina:  These are two teams coming off easy victories.  The Rams made the Texans look silly, getting big contributions on defense and in e passing game.  While the Panthers pounced on a Vikings team hit by tragedy and controversy.  I know it’s a road game, but give me the Rams in a close one. ST LOUIS WINS
  • Cincinnati @ Detroit: It’s a match-up of two 4-2 teams that are both starting to play well in all facets of the game.  Cincy’s defense almost blew a 14 point lead last week, but they did enough to allow the team to get an overtime win.  They’ve shown flashes of true greatness this year, snapping Tom Brady’s 52-game touchdown streak two weeks ago.  The Lions played really well in Cleveland, stopping a team on a hot streak while getting big contributions from guys like Josesph Fauria and DeAndre Levy.  If the Bengals defense can play somewhere between how they did against New England and Buffalo, and get similar run production, I think they pick up a big road win. CINCINNATI WINS

4/4:25PM Sunday Games

  • San Francisco @ Tennessee: The 49ers have looked very good of late, especially running the ball with Frank Gore.  Tennessee has also looked pretty good, despite losing to Seattle Sunday.  San Fran has had two straight blowout wins, and I think that ends this week.  The Titans didn’t make it easy for one of the NFC’s best last week, and will do the same this week.  But I still think the niners get the win.  SAN FRAN WINS
  • Houston @ Kansas City: The past few years I’d have said this is an easy road win for the Texans, but that’s not the case anymore.  Houston has been dreadful the past couple of weeks, while the Chiefs defense looks like it could be anyone right now.  So while this might not be the blowout Houston has been put through the last few weeks,  That being said, I still think KC remains undefeated for another week.  KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Baltimore @ Pittsburgh: Who doesn’t love Ravens/Steelers?  Over the last few years it’s been a battle for the ownership of the AFC North, but this year it’s a bit of a different story.  The Ravens are looking to avoid slipping below .500, while Pitt is looking for just its 2nd win of the season.  The Steelers looked a bit more like themselves in their win Sunday, while Baltimore continues to struggle running the football.  I see this being a low scoring game, but I think the road team gets it done.  BALTIMORE WINS
  • Cleveland @ Green Bay: Neither team looked great offensively Sunday, but the Packers were still able to pick up a win over Baltimore.  Brandon Weedon had one of the worst games of his career against Detroit.  I think both teams play better in this one, but I think Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have two down performances in a row, especially back home.  The Pack will be without big play threat Randall Cobb, but youngsters like Mylea White look to step up.  GREEN BAY WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Denver @ Indianapolis: This is the game everyone wants to see.  Peyton Manning returns to Indy for the first time in a different uniform and brings his undefeated Broncos with him.  The Colts offense couldn’t get anything going against San Diego, but I don’t see that being a problem this week. As good as Denver’s offense has been, their defense hasn’t been so great.  But I still think the Broncos walk out of Indy with the W, simply because of number 18 and his comfort level at Lucas Oil Stadium.  DENVER WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Minnesota @ New York Giants;  It’s a match-up of two desperate teams in prime-time.  They enter action a combined 1-10, with the G-Men off to their worst start since 1976.  You have to give Eli Manning and the Giants the edge at home, right?  Well as bad as the defense has been, they did a good job of stopping Matt Forte a week ago, and they themselves found a run game. The Vikings will start their 3rd quarterback of the season, benchind Matt Cassel in favor the recently acquired Josh Freeman. If you can find a way to limit the turnovers, and keep the run game going with new back Peyton Hillis, I think the Giants will pick up win number 1 of the year. NEW YORK WINS

So that’s that.  Enjoy another week of big hits, big plays, big wins and big mistakes.

NFL: Week 5 Thoughts

5 down. 12 to go.  And we still have 3 win-less teams, as well as 3 undefeated squads.

Washington, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Tampa Bay were all on their bye weeks.

I’m deviating from breaking this down by record.  Now that we’ve come to week 5, division races are starting to take shape.  So let’s take a look around the league that way.

NFC EAST (The Under .500 Club)

  • Cowboys: Tony Romo had the best game of his career, becoming the 1st Dallas QB to throw for over 500 yards. But a late second interception led to a Broncos game-winning field-goal and a loss. But don’t focus on another Romo turnover.  When you put up 48 points, you should win.  The defense just couldn’t stop Peyton Manning.  To be fair no one has yet this year.  (2-3)
  • Eagles:  Michael Vick went down with a hamstring injury in the 1st half, but Nick Foles didn’t miss a beat. Kicker Alex Henery shook off a shaky start to his season by completing all 5 of his field-goal attempts. (2-3)
  • Redskins: Bye week. (1-3)
  • Giants: The good news? The offense looked a little better.  The bad news?  They didn’t look good enough, with 4 more turnovers, 3 of which came courtesy of Eli Manning in the 4th quarter.  The run-game remained anemic, and the defense generated absolutely no pass-rush once again. Changes need to come, and quick. (0-5)

NFC NORTH (Too Close to Call)

  • Lions: After a big win over Chicago last week, the offense sputtered without Calvin Johnson in the lineup against Green Bay. The running back tandem of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell couldn’t help Matt Stafford and the pass game either.  (3-2)
  • Bears: It wasn’t a horrible performance by the defense a week after allowing 40 to Detroit.  But they couldn’t get much going on offense.  Aside from a huge day from wide-receiver Alshon Jeffery, who caught 10 balls for 218 yards and a touchdown, Chicago couldn’t do capitalize.  Jay Cutler’s two fumbles, 1 which was lost didn’t help.  (3-2)
  • Packers: It wasn’t the prettiest game, but a win’s a win. Most of the offense came from the leg of Mason Crosby, who kicked 5 field goals.  Aaron Rodgers did connect on a long TD pass to James Jones to pull away in the 3rd quarter. (2-2)
  • Vikings: Coming off their bye week, they’ll have a new QB on the roster after signing Josh Freeman, who was released last week by the Bucs.  (1-3)

NFC SOUTH (The Saints Are Running Away) 

  • Saints: After starting last year 0-4, the turnaround in New Orleans has been a big one.  One of the final 3 unbeatens, Drew Brees is having a great start to his year, as is the defense.  Jimmy Graham tied an NFL record held by Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez with his 4th straight 100-yard game as a tight-end. Graham accomplished this feat back in 2011 as well. (5-0)
  • Carolina: Cam Newton had a very bad day Sunday against the Cardinals.  The mobile QB did manage to throw for over 300 yards, but was also picked off 3 times, took a safety and was sacked 7 times.  The defense had an okay day, but that many turnovers is hard to overcome. (1-3)
  • Atlanta: They came from 13 down to take a 1-point lead with less than 2 to play.  Really they should’ve been up 4, but somehow instead of kicking a field goal to end the 1st half to get within 7, the Falcons instead chose to go for it on 4th and goal and were stuffed. For the first time in his career, Matt Ryan loses back to back games at home, and are now essentially 5 games out of 1st. (1-4)
  • Tampa Bay: Bye Week. (0-4)

NFC WEST (The Most Improved Division?)

  • Seahawks: They suffered their first loss of the season, a shootout loss with the comeback kids, the Colts.  Going back even further, it was their first regular season loss since November 25th of last season.  Russell Wilson had 300+ total yards in the loss, including 102 yards rushing. (4-1)
  • 49ers: Another easy win for San Fran, this time coming against a Houston team that is struggling big time.  Tramaine Brock’s pick six of Matt Schaub on the first pass of the game was all the niners needed in the 34-3 win on Sunday Night football. (3-2)
  • Cardinals: Their defense was the real star against Carolina, picking up 7 sacks, a safety and three interceptions.  Carson Palmer’s day was nothing to write home about, neither was the run game, but they did enough to win thanks to short field position.  (3-2)
  • Rams: A good game on all ends versus the now 0-5 Jaguars. Sam Bradford threw for 3 touchdowns, including 2 to Austin Pettis. The run game was pretty good as well.  Big plays were the name of the game, including Matt Giordano’s 82 yard interception return for a touchdown. (2-3)

AFC EAST (You Can’t Just Hand New England the Division Anymore)

  • Patriots: They still lead the division, but they picked up their 1st loss of the year thanks to a shutdown Bengals defense.  It was a low scoring game, something we’re not seeing from New England.  And that’s because  Tom Brady did something he hadn’t done in 52 games, he didn’t throw a touchdown.  (4-1)
  • Dolphins: A 13-6 halftime lead wasn’t enough to save Miami from their second loss of the year.  In a game of field-goals, Caleb Sturgis missed from 57-yards to tie the score with 33 seconds to go.  The run game was non-existent, with starter Lamar Miller picking up just 15 yards on the ground. (3-2)
  • Jets: Geno Smith continues to show growth in his rookie season, leading his team on a game winning drive with under 2 minutes to play. The defense was lock down in the 1st half, but showed some holes in the redzone late.  But it’s a big road win none-the-less. (3-2)
  • Bills: Not only did they lose their game with Cleveland, they lost starting QB EJ Manuel.  On a scramble in the 1st half, Manuel took a hit to the knee, and suffered an LCL sprain, which could sideline him for up 6 weeks.  Fellow rookie QB Jeff Tuel came in for Manuel, but didn’t look very good.  The run game was on point, but it wasn’t enough on the road. (2-3)

AFC NORTH (Where Almost Everyone is 3-2)

  • Ravens: Justin Tucker had himself a day, going 4-4 on his field-goal attempts, including the game winner with 1:42 to go. Joe Flacco wasn’t a whole lot better than his 5-interception performance last week, but Ray Rice finally showed up on the ground, running in for 2 touchdowns.  (3-2) 
  • Browns: Three straight wins, despite losing QB Brian Hoyer to knee injury.  Brandon Weedon lost the starting job to Hoyer when he went down with an injury, but returned to help lead Cleveland to another win. (3-2)
  • Bengals: The offense wasn’t great, but their defense pitched a Brady shutout.  Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis ran in a 1-yarder for the games only touchdown in the 4th quarter. (3-2)
  • Pittsburgh: Coming off their bye (0-4)

AFC South (Houston We Have a Problem) 

  • Colts: Another impressive win for Indy, this time handing Seattle their first loss of the year.  Andrew Luck continues to show why he was the number 1 pick in last year’s draft, leading his team for a 9th career comeback win.  The special teams for both squads showed up, including Delano Howell who scored for Indy on a 61-yard return touchdown of a blocked field goal.  (4-1)
  • Titans: Tennessee lost, but put up a good fight against the undefeated Chiefs.  Ryan Fitzpatrick, in place of the injured Jake Locker, ran in a go-ahead TD in the 4th.  (3-2)
  • Texans: Ever since taking a 20-0 1st half lead in week 4 against Seattle, Houston has been outscored 57-3 in their 2 game losing streak. Matt Schaub threw a pick 6 for the fourth straight game (a 1st in NFL history), and was benched in favor of TJ Yates. (2-3)
  • Jaguars: Things have gone from bad to worse for the win-less Jags.  After getting starting QB Blaine Gabbert back, he left their loss to St Louis with a hamstring injury, and lost 1st round pick OT Luke Joeckel for the year to a broken ankle. Things don’t look better with the 5-0 Broncos coming to town. (0-5)

(AFC WEST) Where You’re Either Undefeated or a Game Under 

  • Broncos: This team has scored the most points through the first 5 games of a season in NFL History.  And yet they almost lost to Dallas.  The defense hasn’t needed to be on much this year, with Manning being so automatic (20 touchdowns, 1 rushing TD and just 1 interception).  But they couldn’t stop the run or the pass against Dallas, something they need to fix, because odds are Manning will struggle one of these days.  Maybe. (5-0)
  • Chiefs: Denver has company.  They got pushed by Tennessee, nearly blowing an early 14-0 lead.  But a Jamaal Charles touchdown in the 4th, apart of a 108-yard rushing performance, put them up for good. (5-0)
  • Raiders: Terrelle Pryor made it known Sunday Night that this is his team.  Two touchdown passes in the 1st quarter put San Diego in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.  The Raiders showed more faith in Pryor Monday, when they released off-season acquisition Matt Flynn. Their defense forced 4 turnovers, including one from veteran Free Safety Charles Woodson, who tied an NFL record with his 13th defensive touchdown. (2-3)
  • Chargers: The dilemma that is Phillip Rivers continues.  400 yards passing, but threw 3 interceptions.  This team was 2-0, and now find themselves at the bottom of the division. (2-3)

So that’s a wrap on week 5.  Week 6 kicks off with two desperate teams on Thursday Night Football.  The win-less New York Giants head to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears.