This is it. Patriots vs. The Indianapolis Colts. Bill Belichick vs. Tony Dungy. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. These are the type of games that a sports fan lives for. With the history between the two teams and the stakes that are on the line, this makes for an exciting match-up. .
The winner of this game will be the front-runner to win it all in February by most of the analyst and sports writers and I dont agree with that. Lets wait and see. Will the winner of this game have an edge on the majority? Yes. Does it necessarily make them the champs before the seasons ends? No.
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Dear Coach Nolan,
My name is The Rowdy One and I have been a 49ers fan since I was 4 years old. The 49ers are the reason why I love football. So it saddens me to see our beloved 49ers in a state of flux. On that note, if youre going to win this game, you have to use RB Frank Gore. You need take advantage of the fact that the Falcons have a hole in their D-line when they released DT Grady Jackson.
Also, you need to find some kind of offensive spark. The 49ers are last in the league in total offense. You have some solid weapons on offense and you need to try to let them loose. Your players on offensive are starting to question your Offensive Coordinators play calling abilities and thats not good for a team who has been struggling this season on offense. Stay with your game plan, but spice it up a little
Since youve been known for you defensive intellect, then you should already know that all you have to do is stop the Falcons passing game. The Falcons have the 25th ranked team in rushing. Since their run game has been stagnant for the majority of the season, you should be able to force the Falcons to throw the ball and force them to make mistakes with your pass coverage. None of the Falcons RBs have rushed for 100-yards this season and they only have 2 TDs between them.
Offensively, the Falcons will throw the ball all day. With QB Joey Harrington returning to the starting role for the injured Byron Leftwich, the Falcons are going to test the 49ers Secondary and look for the big plays in the air. If you want to win Coach Nolan, set the tone early in the game on the defensive side of the ball and shut down the Falcons WRs and bring the heat to Harrington. This fan believes that you can pull off the win this Sunday and possibly get the ball rolling in salvaging a team that looks to be in the basement of the NFC for the remainder of the season.
Gold Rush for Life,
The Rowdy One
My Pick: 49ers
Location: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY
The Bengals need to find their run game. With RB Rudi Johnson back, the Bengals have a three-pronged running attack with Johnson, Kenny Watson and DeDe Dorsey. We wont know who will start at RB for the Bengals, but whoever gets the start will have to come out of the gates early and force the Bills to stop the run.
We already know the Bengals can throw the ball, Carson Palmer is the 11th ranked QB in the league. His numbers would suggest that the team would have a better record, but with no defense and a one-sided offense, theres not much Head Coach Marvin Lewis can do. All he can do is pray that his team finds a way to turn things around on the field and find some life for a team that has the tools and the know-how to get the job done.
The Bills are a ray of sunshine in a weak AFC East. They may not have the best record, but they have come out each week with the testicular fortitude of a champion. You cant tell the bills that their record is 3-4 because they play each game like its their last. Those are the type of teams youve got to respect. Their record may not be the greatest, but they make you want to cheer for them because they give you their all.
The Bills have the better defense and the better RBs than the Bengals. RB Marshawn Lynch is a work horse and he likes to grind it out on the field when hes running the ball. He can wear down a defense just as good as any other RB in the league. J.P. Losman is back in the starting QB role for the injured Trent Edwards. Hopefully, Losman paid attention to what the Bills have been doing on the offensive side of the ball and can come into Sundays game ready to keep that momentum flowing. Defensively, the Bills have a solid Secondary that has been playing very well and will shut down the Bengals WRs from making big plays. It looks like this is the week the Bills get to .500.
My Pick: Bills
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
The Broncos must like giving their fans heart attacks. With the exception of the 18 point loss to the Colts and the 38 point stomping by the Chargers, the Broncos have won or loss by an average of 4.4 points. They have the 7th ranked offense in the league, so they can make things happen with the ball. But with WR Rod Smith out for the season with a hip injury, the offense will have to rely on their running backs to make it happen on offense.
If the Broncos win this game, its going to have to come down to stopping the Lions passing game. Jon Kitna has been leading the charge by airing out the ball all season long to WRs Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams. Johnson is returning this weekend from a back injury and will help give the Broncos Secondary headaches at Ford Field. The Broncos have the 31st ranked passing defense.
The Lions are a surprise this year with the way they have been playing on offense. Kitna is at the half-way point with his promise of 10 wins and with 8 weeks of football left to play, it looks as though he may cash in that promise. The Lions dont have the greatest defense in the league right now. Theyre ranked 28th in the league and have to face off against the 11th ranked rushing offense. Its going to be a challenge for the Lions, but I see them pulling out the win this weekend.
My Pick: Lions
Location: LP Field, Nashville, TN
Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher is doing a good job in managing a Titans team that has been under the radar this season. Their defense is ranked 1st against the run and their offense is ranked 3rd in rushing. The Titans have been able to find ways to win when they have had their backs against the wall and their defense has steeped up big time in big moments.
The Titans need to use their top ranked rush defense to stop the Panthers 10th ranked rushing offense. They have to find a way to stop RBs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams. David Carr will probably get the start this Sunday due to Vinny Testaverde injuring his ankle last Sunday against the Colts. With Carr coming back from his back injury, he may be a little rusty and it will benefit the Titans if they can make him throw the ball and force mistakes.
The Titans must also find a way to shut down WR Steve Smith. Smith is always consistence year in and year out. Despite the fact hes ranked 21st among the Top 25 WRs in the league, his numbers are still good. Smith has 37 catches for 514 yards and 6 TDs. Hes averaging 73.4 yards per game. The Titans have the better QB and the better O-line in this game; those two factors give them an edge against the Panthers this weekend and will help keep them close in the NFC South.
My Pick: Titans
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
If Brett Farve could play all of his games on Monday Night Football, he would definitely go down as the greatest QB in the history of the NFL. MNF to Farve is like the suns energy to Superman. It gives him energy and it showed with the game winning touchdown in last Mondays win in overtime.
Farve has to have the same magic this weekend against the Chiefs. The Packers are 2nd in the league in passing, but last in the league in rushing. With RB DeShawn Wynn out for the year with a calf injury, and Vernand Morencys status up in the air, the Packers will have to turn to rookie RB Brandon Jackson to run the ball. Thankfully, the Packers get back WR Koren Robinson for his suspension for violating the leagues substance-abuse policy. If the Packers are going to live by the pass, the addition of Robison will make it easy for the Mississippi Gun Slinger.
The Chiefs have to do the opposite of the Packers and run the ball. With RB Priest Holmes back in the line-up, the Chiefs have a run game that can possibly end up as the best in the league with Holmes and RB Larry Johnson. It all comes down to how healthy Holmes can stay. If Holmes can remain strong through the remainder of the season and there are no major injuries, the Chiefs may have the best chance of winning the AFC West crown. I just dont see the chiefs winning this game. The Packers have the better WRs matching up against the Chiefs secondary. It looks like its going to be a long day for the Chiefs this Sunday.
My Pick: Packers
Location: Metronome, Minneapolis, MN
The theme for this year in the NFL is Pick a QB, any QB and the Vikes have fallen right down that rabbit hole. Tavaris Jackson is hurt and Kelly Holcomb is hurt. It looks as though Jackson will play injured. Not a good move. Jeff George (Yes, that Jeff George) offered his services and Brad Childress made jokes about it. Hes using a QB by committee game plan and you play down the possibility of signing a Free Agent QB as a precautionary measure. Good Luck.
The only way I see the Vikes having a chance in winning this game depends on how well RB Adrian Peterson run the ball. The Chargers defense is looking alive and it will be interesting to see what the Chargers D-line has in store for the rookie RB. The odds of Peterson having a big game this Sunday are slimmer than that chick in Calvin Klien pantses.
The Vikes defense has been nothing to brag about, so I wont delve into what they need to on that side of the ball. The only thing I can say is that the Chargers are starting to find their groove on offense and if Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, and the newly acquired Chris Chambers get the ball rolling, its a wrap for the Vikes.
My Pick: Chargers
Location: Superdome, New Orleans, LA
The Saints have won 3 games in a row and are looking to get to .500 this weekend. The Jags pulled off a close win against the Bucs, so theyre feeling good and riding high. Both of these teams look to make a statement this weekend. The problem is only one team will make a statement and Ill give you a hint which team wont: their name rhymes with The Aints.
As much as the Saints have somewhat turned the start of their season around, it wont be enough to stop the Jags this Sunday. The Jags have a better defense than the Saints and they have the capability to stop the Saints offense. Plus, with the addition of Grady Jackson to the D-line, he will fill in nicely for the Jags if DT Marcus Stroud is suspended for violating the leagues steroids and related substances policy. Stroud is facing a 4 game suspension. Thats not good for a team whos in the thick of a playoff hunt at the midway point of the season.
The Saints have to try to stop the Jags running game. Quinn Gray will start again for the Jags this Sunday. Although they won last week against the Bucs with Gray under the center, the Jags still have to rely on their running game with their passing game being below par. I believe it shouldnt be a problem for the Jags to score on the ground. Chalk this one up the Jack Del Rio and the Jags.
My Pick: Jaguars
Location: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
The Jets have made the switch. Chad Pennington out, Kellen Clemens in. Ive got some extra stamps here in the house for the Jets that I sent to the Rams and the Dolphin. They might as well find some envelopes and mail in the rest of their season also. To quote my man Stephen A. Smith, Theyre terrible!
The Skins need to keep doing what theyve been doing to get them to 4 wins. Have a solid mix of run and pass. The Jets defense is weak and it doesnt look like its going to get any better. The Skins defense has been solid and their Secondary will shut down the Jets WRs.
My Pick: Redskins
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
The Cards had the week off. They needed it. Like most of the league, theyve been banged up pretty bad this year. Kurt Warner has to be 85-90% healthy in order to give the Cards a chance. They also have to get Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin involved in the offense early to get a feel of what the Bucs plan to throw at them. The Bucs are the 2nd ranked pass defense in the league. So, Warner and the Cards have a tall task ahead of them.
On the defensive end, the Cards need to stop Jeff Garcia and their passing game. The Cards need to put pressure on Garcia in the same way the Jags did last week and force him to make mistakes.
The Bucs need to make sure Garcia is protected and give him time to execute the play. Thats it. Hes the key to success for the Bucs. Since he can move in the pocket, hell be able to avoid pass rushers and hopefully draw the defense to him. That allows his WRs to be open for big plays. The Cards have a good chance of winning, but the Bucs are probably still upset after last weeks loss and are ready to get the Pirate Ship back on track in Tampa.
My Picks: Buccaneers
Location: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Wow, what a difference a year makes. The Browns have the 6th ranked offense in the league. The Browns Derek Anderson is the 6th ranked QB in the league. They have had big plays from WR Braylon Ewards and TE Kellen Winslow, Jr. The Browns still have their work cut out for them. They are worst ranked defense in the league and should be thankful that they are in the thick of the AFC North. They know they are hanging on by a string and they have to find a way to stop the Seahawks offense.
Despite the fact that RB Shaun Alexander is having a lack luster season; the Seahwks still have the lead in the NFC West. Its been the Seahawks defense that has kept them alive and its going to have to be there defense if they plan on winning this Sunday. The Seahawks have to pressure Anderson from jump.
The Seahawks cant allow any wiggle room for the Browns to get back in the game. Their offense is good, but not that good. The one advantage the Browns have this weekend is that they have the 12th man. Since theyre playing at home this weekend, you know the Dog Pound is going to be live. If anyone knows the importance of the 12th man, the Seahawks know. It looks as though the Seahawks are about to get a taste of their own medicine.
My Pick: Browns
Location: RCA Dome, Indianapolis, IN
This is by far the best rivalry in pro-football right now. This is also the hardest game to pick a winner for in this season thus far. A fan can pick either team and they wouldnt be wrong. Heres my assessment:
1) The Pats have the #1 ranked offense in the league
2) The Colts have the #2 ranked offense in the league
3) The Pats and the Colts are ranked #3 and #4 in total defense in the league in that order
4) The Pats are 41-26 All-Time against the Colts
5) The Colts have won the last 3 games against the Pats. Thats including last years AFC Championship game.
With all of that in mind, there was one thing I didnt mention; motivation. In that case, Im picking the Colts. As I mentioned in the opening at the top, we have all been so mesmerized by the Pats, and Bradys numbers and the addition of Randy Moss; we have forgotten that the Colts are the defending champs and theyre going to come out Sunday and show the world why they are still the champs. To me, thats the best bulletin board material any team can have.
My Pick: Colts
Location: McAfee Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Matt Shuab is out this Sunday. Sage Rosenfels gets the start for the Texans at QB. Daunte Culpepper is out; Josh McCown is back in the starters role for the Raiders at QB. Throughout all of this, JaMarcus Russell is still on the bench and is 4th on the Raiders depth chart behind QB Andrew Walter. If that was the case, pay me $61 million dollars to ride the pine.
As weak as the AFC West is, the Raiders will still remain in the basement. They might as well play this kid now. I still got some stamps left to mail in the season. I do think the Raiders will win this game. The Raiders have a better defense than the Texans and with Rosenfels starting this Sunday, the Texans might as well add another L in the loss column.
My Pick: Raiders
Sunday Night Game:
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
The Eagles need to win this game and they need to win it bad. Not just for the numbers, the stats, and the standings but for themselves. This season had started with turmoil with Head Coach Andy Reid and his family. Most of you are already aware of whats going on in the Reid household, so theres no need to get into that. You add that with the comments Donovan McNabb made on HBOs Real Sports and the plague of injuries the Eagles have gone through, and sometimes as a fan you wish their season was over right now so that they can start fresh next year.
The Cowboys had a very busy bye week with the teams owner, Jerry Jones, extending QB Tony Romos contract. Romos new contract is for 6 years, $69 million dollars. Not bad for a 2nd year starter. So what does he do, goes out and parties with Britney Spears. Ace of Spades bubblin. Hopefully that will have no effect on his game play.
The Cowboys have the better offense and its too explosive for the Eagles injured defense. With Romo, T.O., and Barber; the Cowboys will try to embarrass the Eagles defense. The Eagles just need to try to make it happen on offense. McNabbs injured knee is improving and it will be a factor this Sunday as he tries to fend off the Cowboys pass rush. The Boys have too much to bring to the table this Sunday and should beat the Eagles easily. This is the Cowboys game to lose.
My Pick: Cowboys
Monday Night Game:
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
I love the AFC North. Everybody just hates each other in this division. This division has their far share of rivalries and each year, they get better and better.
First of all, dont look for either team to run up the score board. Were looking at the Top 2 ranked defenses in the league. The Steelers are #1, the Ravens are #2. There wont be a whole bunch of TDs in this game. The TDs that will be scored on offense will come from the Steelers side of the ball. And thats who Im going with to win.
The Ravens have had too many issues with their offense at the QB position. This week, Steve McNair gets the start. Not a good week to come back from injury and start at QB if youre the Ravens and Steve McNair. Like the Ravens, the Steelers like to hurt people and with the rash of injuries McNair has sustained in the past, its not looking good for the Ravens.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers know how to move the ball on offense. The Steelers are the 4th ranked offense in the league. They have the better WRs, RBs, and O-line. The Ravens can run the ball with RB Clinton Portis, but thats about it. In terms of the Ravens WRs, its not looking like the greatest right about now. The Ravens are the 15th ranked offense in the league. You tell me who has the upper hand in this game.
My Pick: Steelers