Earlier this week on ESPN SportsCenter, Mike Greenberg of Mike and Mike in the Morning asked Hall of Famer Steve Young who was the better QB, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? Young reacted as if his manhood was being questioned and thought that was a ridiculous question. He didnt attempt to answer the question and moved on from the topic. The next day, Greenberg brought it up in conversation with his co-host Mike Golic and Golics opinion was that Brady is having a better year than Manning, but Manning is the better overall QB. Thats an answer I have no problem with. I think the big man hit the nail right on the head.
Later in show, Phil Simms came on and the guys asked him the same question. He too reacted to the question the same way Young did, but then said the best line to end the whole discussion. It was better than what Golic said. Simms just said, Who cares? You know what, hes right. Who cares? Both players are on great teams and are playing great football this year. They are destined for a battle next week if both teams stay undefeated this weekend.
Brady is putting up some good numbers and with the addition of Randy Moss; the Patriots are just too strong offensively for a number of defenses this year. Manning is playing like he has always played since he entered the league; smart and precise. Hes easily the smartest QB in the league right now and arguably in history of the NFL.
So as a fan of football, I am asking for a favor from my pigskin family. Starting tonight, and every night leading up to Sundays games, light your candles, get on your knees and pray to the football gods. Ask the Holy Trinity of Football (Lombardi, Halas, and Hunt) to keep the Pats and the Colts undefeated for their Week 9 match-up. With the history between the two teams, you know thats going to be one of the games of the year.
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
The Lions won the 1st game between these two teams back in Week 4 with a 37-27 score. Since then, the Lions are 2nd in the NFC North and 6th in the NFC overall. The Bears are 3rd in the NFC North and 9th in the NFC overall. The Lions have shown much improvement on the offensive side of the ball, but their defense is still shaky. The Bears offense has improved with Brian Griese taking over at QB, but their defense is not performing like the Bears defense from a year ago. The Lions are ranked 30th while the Bears are ranked 25th overall defensively. Dont look for too many big plays on the defensive side of the ball for either team. Whichever team wins, it will have to come from the much improved offense of both of these teams.
Lions QB Jon Kitna needs 6 more wins to fulfill his promise of 10 wins for the season. Its possible, but it will be a task. They still have to play the Packers twice and they have the Giants and the Cowboys on their schedule. If the Lions are gong to win this game, they have to establish a run game with RB Kevin Jones. With Jones returning this week, the Lions should be able to wear down an injured Bears defense with a good mix of run and pass. Also, as stated every week by every football analyst in the country, dont kick the ball to Devin Hester. The guy can hurt you in so many ways; its not funny anymore.
The Bears need to protect Griese and make sure RB Adrian Peterson doesnt touch the ball. Despite his 6 INTs, Griese has thrown for 1203 yards for 8 TDs and has completed 62% of his passes for the season. In last Sundays win against the Eagles, he was 27 for 41 with 322 passing yards and 1 touchdown. The good thing about Griese is that he utilizes all of his targets. He shares the wealth with his receivers and opens up the offense.
Peterson is having a miserable start to the season. He has 26 carries for 116 yards and no touchdowns this year and is slowly finding his comfort zone on the bench. The Bears must find a way to keep their secondary locked on the Lions WRs and throw them off their routes and force them to run the ball with Jones, who is seeing his first real action this Sunday. Hopefully a rusty Jones will be the Achilles heel for the Lions.
My Pick: Bears
Location: Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Chad Johnson said that he would stop doing all of his celebratory until the Bengals start winning again. Then there was a rumor this week about the Bengals trading Chad. Hopefully it was rumor and Chad stays in Cinncy. Not only does the team need him, but the city needs him also. Although hes a wide receiver, and WRs can be prima donnas, Chad makes the game fun. He gives the fans a reason to watch because hes enjoying himself on the field. Yeah, he may have had a few choice words with Carson Palmer a few weeks back in their loss to the Patriots, but how many times have we seen that before. Besides, with the way the Patriots have been playing, everybody has a few choice words on their respective sidelines.
Considering the Bengals past, Chad is the best thing to happen to the city of Cincinatti since the Ickey Shuffle. Also, dont even think about getting rid of Marvin Lewis. Hes as good of a head coach as there is in the League. He just doesnt have the defensive tools he has had in the past few seasons to stay on pace with the rest of the league.
The Bengals problem is their defense. The Bengals have the 29th ranked defense in the league. Yikes! Considering they were the 8th ranked defense last season, all you can do is smack your head in amazement. The offense has to run up the scoreboard just so they can stay in the game with their opponents. They are the 4th ranked offense in the league totaling 387 yard from scrimmage and averaging 371.7 yards a game. Carson Palmer has 1717 yards, 13 TDs and 9 INTs for the season in passing. If the Jets hadnt suffered a brain fart in the 2nd half of last Sundays game, the Bengals would have lost that game and would be 1-5.
The Bengals need to do the same thing the Broncos did the Steelers in last Sundays night game. They have to throw Ben Roethlisberger off his game and hold off the Steelers run game. Willie Parker and Najeh Davenport have combined for 172 carries for 815 yards and 4 TDs. The number of TDs isnt staggering, but the combined yardage is what you want from a team that uses a two running back system.
All the Steelers have to do is to make sure Roethlisberger doesnt make any of the mistakes he made in last Sundays loss. Granted, he threw 4 TD passes; he also had 2 INTs and a lost fumble. If the Steelers protect Big Ben and give him time in the pocket, hell make things happen. Defensively, the Steelers are still the #1 ranked defense in the league, so theres no need for any explanation or suggestion on what they need to do defensively to win. The Steelers are already doing it.
My Pick: Steelers
Location: LP Field, Nashville, TN
The Raiders have defense. Make no mistake about that. They have good LBs and a solid secondary. Other than that, theres nothing else to smile about the Raiders as a whole. The Raiders have the 20th ranked offense in the league and it doesnt look like its going to get any better. The only way the Raiders can win this game is to put pressure on the Titans QBs, no matter which one is starting.
If Kerry Collins starts, then the Raiders have a better chance of winning just by putting heavy pressure on him. If Vince Young starts, then it all depends on how healthy he is. If Youngs right quad is healed 85-90%, then hell give the Raiders defense head aches with his movement in the pocket. If its 75-80% healed, he may be a little cautious and may not want to move around as much in fear of worsening the injury.
The Raiders also have to stop the Titans run game. The Titans are the 5th ranked rushing team in the league. They average 144 yards on the ground. The Raiders are ranked 29th against the run. Thats not helping the Raiders cause this weekend. The Titans also have the #1 ranked defense against the run this year. They have allowed 59.7 yards of rushing this season. The Raiders are just above the Titans in rushing. Theyre ranked 4th in rushing yards, averaging 145.8 yards a game.
The match-up to look for is Titans LB Keith Bullock against the entire Raiders offense. Bullock has been a man on a mission this season defensively. Bullock has 28 tackles total. 23 of the 28 are solo tackles and he has 4 INTs.
My Pick: Titans
Location: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, MO
Like the Dolphins, the Rams need to mail in the rest of their season. Marc Bulger came back last week in their game against the Seahawks. He was about as useful as Stevie Wonder doing color commentary at a Lions game. Bulger was 21 for 40 with 225 yards, no touchdowns and 3 INTs in the Rams loss to the Seahawks. RB Stephen Jackson is returning for the Rams this Sunday. Dont expect much from him either. The Rams offensive line is hurting, leaving no protection for Bulger or blocking for Jackson.
Rams DE Leonard Little is out of Sundays game with a torn ligament in his big toe on his left foot. Thats just another set back for a team that had so much promise the start of the season. Truthfully, the Rams are at a big disadvantage against the Browns this Sunday.
The Browns just have to keep doing what they have been doing for most of the season. With a weak Rams defense, the Browns should be able to decimate the Rams secondary and put some big numbers on the board through the air. The Browns have the 7th ranked offense in the league. The match-up Im looking forward to is the Browns passing game against the Rams pass defense. The Browns passing offense is the 8th best in the league while the Rams passing defense is ranked 10th in the league. Considering that the Browns have scored most of their points in the air, its going to be interesting to see how they put numbers on the board.
My Pick: Browns
Location: Wembley Stadium, London, England
This Sunday is the International Grizzly Game as the Phins have a home game in Jolly Ole England against the G-men. Phins RB Ronnie Brown is out for the year with a torn ACL and LB Zach Thomas is out of Sundays game due to whiplash from a car accident after last Sundays game. Like the Rams, theres really not much to say about the Phins that can help them win.
The G-men have the edge in every category possible in this game. The Giants are going into Sundays game with the 8th best defense in the league. Since Week 2, their defense has been phenomenal and has been a key factor in their turn around from a 0-2 start. You just hope that all of this travel wont throw off the Giants momentum. Thankfully for the Giants, they have their bye week in Week 9.
My Pick: Giants
Location: Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
The Eagles have too much fire power on offense for the Vikes. The Vikes defense is ranked 26th overall while the Eagles have the 8th best offense. Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter have combined for 125 carries for 680 yards and 3 TDs. Donovan McNabb has 7 TDs and 2 INTs so far this season with 1447 passing yards and he has the 15th highest QB rating with 88.4. The Eagles have to shut down Vikes RB Adrian Peterson in order to win on Sunday. The Eagles have the 18th ranked defense against the run while the Vikes have the #1 ranked rushing offense in the league.
All the Vikes have to do is run. Thats it. Dont give RB Chester Taylor an inkling of an idea that hell even touch the ball this Sunday. If Vikes Head Coach Brad Childress wants to bounce back from last Sundays loss to the Cowboys, let Adrian Peterson run the ball during the majority of the game. Peterson is the leagues leading rusher. He has 108 carries for 670 yards and 5 TDs at this point in the season. Hopefully Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson, hasnt lost much sleep this week trying to figure out how to stop Peterson.
My Pick: Eagles
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
All season long, we have been amazed with the Patriots and the way they have entered this season like a team possessed. My question to you is this, how did we forget to mention the defending champs? The Colts have been quietly under the radar this year. They have the 3rd best offense and defense in the league this year and no one is even mentioning them to repeat. Weve been hypnotized by New England to only think about the Pats. Its another one of Belichicks devious plans. Hes the Cobra Commander of the NFL.
This could be the game where the Colts get their first loss of the season. Then again, it may not. The Panthers defense is ranked 19th in the league and it doesnt look like they can stop the Colts offense on paper. Panthers have to put pressure on Manning. The only problem with that is he reads defense so well, hell just audible to another play. The Panthers have to try their best to disguise their coverage and do everything in their power to throw Manning off of his game.
Panthers QB, David Carr, practiced this week, so hell most likely get the start. But if he doesnt dont be alarmed by the smell of Ben-Gay in the air, its only Vinny Testaverde. The Panthers are going to have to really utilize RB DeAngelo Williams and WR Steve Smith. Their going to need big numbers to compete with all of the weapons the Colts have on offense. This will definitely be a good game to watch.
My Pick: Colts
Location: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Last week I mentioned that the Jets head Coach, Eric Mangini, should consider making a switch at QB and bring in Kellen Clemens. If Chad Pennington has a bad game this Sunday, dont be surprised if Clemens gets the start in Week 9 against the Redskins. Chad did sow some signs of hope in last Sundays loss against the Bengals, but it wasnt enough. Pennington was 20 for 31 with 272 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception last week in the loss.
Whats killing the Jets is their run game. The Jets are ranked 25th in rushing offense this year. Thomas Jones was the man who was to replace Curtis Martin. How is that working out for the Jets? Jones has 131 carries for 487 yards and no touchdowns. With numbers like that, Id rather have Oran Juice Jones as my running back.
The Bills decided to stay with Trent Edwards as their starting QB and keep J.P. Losman on the bench. Thats a good move. He has given the Bills offense some new life and with RB Marshawn Lynch running the ball, the Bills look like a team going in the right direction in building up their offense. If the Bills can stop Pennington from hitting his WRs for big lays, then they will pull off the season sweep.
My Pick: Bills
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
First, we want to send our prayers to the families in California that have been affected by the terrible fires this week. Hopefully the families will be able to recover and return to their normal lives. Because of the fires, the Chargers had practice in Arizona at the Cardinals training facility. Qualcomm Stadium is being used as an evacuation center for people in the area for refuge from the fires. Reports are now stating that the Chargers will be ready to go this Sunday in San Diego and the game will go on.
The Chargers have got the ball rolling, winning two games straight. They have playing as if Martin Schottenheimer was still the head coach. The Chargers have to continue doing what theyve been doing for the past 2 games, have a soild mixture of run and pass and utilize LaDainian Tomlinson to the fullest.
The Texans have to attack the Chargers QB, Philip Rivers, and mess with his head. They have to force him to make some big mistakes and capitalize on them. They also have to attack the line of scrimmage and slow down the Chargers attack if they want to win this Sunday.
My Pick: Texans
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
The Bucs lost a close game last week to the Titans and the Jags were shut down by the Colts last Monday night. Both teams are hoping to bounce back. Not only did the Jags lose the game, they lost their staring QB. David Garrad sprained his right ankle in the Monday Night game and is now out 3-4 weeks. Back-up QB, Quinn Gray, will be the starter. Thats not good. Since the Jags cant throw the ball the way they would like to, they will have to rely on their running game to put numbers on the board. If RBs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are healthy, the Bucs have a long day ahead of them in trying to stop the run.
The Bucs have to put pressure on the Jags and rattle Gray. Since this is his first start, Gray will have everything thrown at him. With the lack of a passing game, the Bucs can focus on the Jags ground game and shut it down. This Bucs are the 12th ranked defense in the league while the Jags are the 13th ranked defense in the league. Dont look for any big numbers on the board because this is strictly a defensive game.
My Pick: Jaguars
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
The Pats have the #1 offense and defense in the league. The Skins have the 25th ranked offense and the 5th ranked defense in the league. This can be a trap game for the Pats and they have a good chance of losing this game. In this writers opinion, that aint gonna happen. The Skins are a good team and have looked very impressive this season. Theyre just not on the same level of the Pats.
The Skins need to disrupt Tom Brady and his connection to his WRs. If the Skins can use their secondary to throw off the WRs routes, it will be hard for Brady to connect for big plays and big scores in the air. The Pats have to slow down the Skins run game and have to plug up any lane the Skins try to open for RB Clinton Portis. Once again, the Pats have too much power on both sides of the ball for the Skins to handle and this Sunday will be a test for the Skins.
My Pick: Patriots
Location: Monster Park, San Francisco, CA
Both of these teams came into this season with a lot of promise. Then fate reared its ugly head. The 49ers started 2-0 and then lost 4 straight. The Saints lost 4 in a row, then turned it around and have 2 straight. Injuries have been the death of these teams and have pulled the promise of a successful season from under their feet.
The Saints have the 20th ranked offense in the league while the 49ers have the 32nd ranked offense in the league. This game will be interesting. Ironically, the 49ers have the 17th ranked defense in the league while the Saints are ranked 22nd.
With QB Alex Smith returning this Sunday, the 49ers have to utilize their big 3 in Smith, RB Frank Gore and TE Vernon Davis. The 49ers really need to use Gore and run him as much as possible against a solid Saints D-line. He needs to tire that line out as the game goes on so when the opportunity arises, he can break out for a big play. Also, the 49ers O-line has to step up and give Smith time to execute the play. The 49ers lack of protection is what got Smith injured in the first place. Make up for it in this game and give this kid protection.
Defensively, the 49ers have to stop QB Drew Brees and RB Reggie Bush. The 49ers D-line has to step up and put pressure on Brees and shut down Bush as soon as the game starts. Since the Saints WRs are weak, the secondary should be able to contribute in stopping the Saints run game.
The Saints have to continue to work Bush in the offense and allow him to go nuts. Let him run all over the place as if hes a little kid on a sugar rush. On defense, the Saints should throw everything including the kitchen sink at Alex Smith and throw him off. Since hes returning from an injury, Smith may be a little hesitant to move around on the field hoping to prevent another injury. The Saints need to put as much pressure on the 49ers that they possibly can and disrupt their flow.
My Pick: Saints
Sunday Night Game:
No Sunday Night Game due to the World Series
Monday Night Game:
Location: Invesco Field, Denver, CO
The Broncos have the 2nd ranked pass defense in the league. They showed it last Sunday night against the Steelers. The Packers have the leagues 3rd best passing offense. Both teams CBs are very good, but the Broncos have the edges with CB Champ Bailey and Dre Bly.
Also, the Broncos have a run game with RB Travis Henry which will allow them to open up the field using screen plays with Henry. The Broncos have to shut down the Packers passing game and force them to run the ball. Since the Packers run game is not the greatest, all they can do is throw the ball. Take that away from them, theres nothing else left for the Packers to do.
The Packers have to try and stop Travis Henry and force QB Jay Cutler to make big mistakes. Once the Packers can force some big mistakes from Cutler, they can then capitalize on them and put some numbers on the board. Lets not forget, the Packers have CBs Al Harris and Charles Woodson in their secondary and theyre not too shabby. If the Packers can get into Cutlerss head, they have a good chance of winning
My Pick: Broncos