Its been hard to pick one thing to talk about this week. So I figured with Christmas being next Tuesday, I would share with you my Christmas list. Hopefully, Ive been a good boy this year and Santa fills up my stockings with goodies.
1) The NFL finds a way for at least one Jacksonville Jaguar to make the AFC Pro-Bowl team. It didnt make any sense that there is not one Jaguar on the AFC squad considering how they have been playing for the past month.
2) The Pats go undefeated. With all of the turmoil thats been going on in sports this past year, an undefeated season would be a good way to end out the year.
3) That Buffalo Bills TE Kevin Everett will be able to attend the Bills season finale Oh wait, somebody else wished that already.
4) The Dolphins find some form of new leadership to help steer that team in the right direction Oh wait; somebody else wished that one also. Whos been peeping at my Christmas list?
5) That the College Bowl games are just as unpredictable as the regular season. Guys, if you havent watched much College Football this year, now is the time. You want to see what players are out there before you team drafts them in April.
6) Lastly, that all of you have a Safe and Happy Holiday.
With that aside, lets talk football.
Saturday Night Special:
12-22-07, 8:15 pm, NFL Network
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
After a terrible performance last Sunday, the Cowboys have to win in order to keep their lead in the NFC for home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Since the Cowboys beat the Packers in Week 13 in the Thursday Night game, they hold the tiebreaker in case both teams finish with the same record. But we knew all of this already.
The Cowboys can expect heavy pressure from the Panthers defense in this game. The Panthers season is over. Right now is their time to play spoiler. It would be a great momentum builder for the Panthers to win this week because it will give them the confidence and the assurance that they can hang with a playoff caliber team. Thats what you want to have if youre a head coach as you head into the off-season in terms of rebuilding and improving your team.
The Panthers also have to execute the run attack effectively. The Panthers have a two-headed rush offense with DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams. Their running game has to be on point in this match-up so that they can wear down the Cowboys defense. Also, the offenses for the Panthers have to control the ball and keep the Cowboys offense off of the field. Rundown the clock as much as you can, it worked for the Eagles last Sunday. Thank You Mr. Westbrook, you helped me advance in my Fantasy Football league playoffs.
The Cowboys are the favorites to win this game according to the numbers. But, with 2 weeks left in the season, and a match-up against a team with nothing to lose, any thing is possible.
My Pick: Cowboys
Game of the Week, Pt. 1
Location: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY
The G-men are looking like the Giants of old. When the 2nd half of the season hits, they Giants seem to lose half their minds. I dont understand how a team that was solid in the 1st half of the season could have such a brain fart in the 2nd half of the season. All the G-men need is 1 more win and their in the playoffs. Thats it. Come on fellas. Get your head right and finish this thing. The Bills lost a good game last week. So what if the score of the game was 8-0 in the loss to the Browns. It was still a good game due to the elements. Good, cold, body numbing football. Thats what Im talking about. Wish I could have been at Cleveland Browns Stadium last week. Thats what I call football.
The Giants offense has to control the ball. Eat up the clock. With TE Jeremy Shockey out of this game and quite possibly the year with a broken leg, QB Eli Manning does not have all of his weapons to make it happen on offense. The Bills have to go after the Giants O-line all game long and put pressure on Eli. Force him to make mistakes.
The Bills have to run the ball. The have to take it to the Giants defense and wear them down. Despite the elements being a factor, RB Marshawn Lynch did run for 82 yards on 21 carries. This is the game where Lynch has to carry the Bills on his back. That means the Giants defense has to have their Secondary ready for the pass. The Bills will use their run game to help open up a big play on a pass. The Giants D-line has to go after QB Trent Edwards this Sunday and attack the rushing lanes. They have to shutdown the Bills offense before they have the opportunity to let a play develop.
The Bills will come into Sundays game with last weeks loss behind them. They know that they are still in the playoff chase and with the home crowd backing them up; they can and will win this game.
My Pick: Bills
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
The last time the Packers and the Bears met, it was in Week 5 and the Bears won 20-27. The Packers had 5 turnovers in that game and the QB for the Bears in that game was Brian Griese. What a difference 2 months can make. The Packers are in 2nd place in the NFC, the Bears season is done and Kyle Orton is starting for the Bears this Sunday. But this is a rivalry game and the Bears would want nothing better than to beat their Black and Blue division nemesis. Its not likely.
The Packers will have 1 of the best gifts to have at this team of year, an inexperienced QB in Orton. Since Orton hasnt played much, the Packers defense will bring the heat on the Bears O-line. Thats when the Bears O-line has to fight it out in the trenches to protect Orton and open up lanes for RB Adrian Peterson.
The Bears defense is now tested with not only defending the pass, but also the run. RB Ryan Grant didnt play in the last match-up, so look for the Packers to utilize Mr. Grant this Sunday against the Bears depleted defense. The Packers offense is more balanced in this game than what it was 2 months ago, so the Packers have the edge in this match-up. But like I said before, this is a rivalry game, so anything can happen.
My Pick: Packers
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
When these two teams last played, it was in Week 2 and they had a shootout for the ages. The Browns won the game 51-45. It was Browns QB Derek Andersons 2nd start and people werent sold on his ability to play QB in the NFL. I was one of them. How stupid do we look now? The Bengals were just coming off of a MNF win in the season opener against the Ravens. We all thought the Ravens were going to make some noise in the AFC this year and quite possibly go to the playoffs. Once again, how stupid do we look now?
Both teams defenses need to serve notice to their respective Secondary and let them know to be ready for Rnd. 2 of the aerial attack. The Bengals have the 5th best passing offense in the league and the Browns are ranked 11th in the NFL. The RBs for each team will touch the ball in order to execute the play action, but this game will be the game for the WRs.
This game will be a drag out dog fight. The Browns are looking to enhance their playoff positioning while the Bengals are looking to avenge the Week 2 loss. The momentum the Browns are riding into this Sundays game is too high. They are too hungry right now and they have too much at stake. The Browns will win this Sunday and look ahead to their season finale against the 49ers.
My Pick: Browns
The I Could Care Less Game of the Week, Pt. 1:
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Both teams seasons are over. The only thing these two teams are doing is fulfilling their obligations before they go on vacation. Although the Chiefs have the 8th ranked defense in the NFL, the Lions offense is powerful enough to hang with them. The Lions have the tools in the pass and the run to take it to the Chiefs defense. QB Jon Kitna has to spread the wealth in this game. He has to spread the ball around to each and every option he has on offense while RB Kevin Jones has to be the enforcer on offense and run down the Chiefs defense.
The Chiefs offense is ranked 31st in the NFL. Theres really not much on the Chiefs offense to scare the Lions defense. RB Larry Johnson is still injured and it doesnt look as though hell be in this Sundays game. RB Kolby Smith will get most of the touches for the Chiefs this Sunday in the run game. This wont be a pretty game and if youre not a fan of either of these two teams, I suggest you go ahead and put up the rest of your Christmas ornaments until the 4pm games start.
My Pick: Lions
Location: RCA Dome, Indianapolis, IN
This is actually an intriguing game. The Texans are still in the playoff hunt by the numbers. Their defense has been playing well and their offense is clicking again. The Colts are in the #2 spot in the AFC and will do whatever it takes for them to hold on to that spot.
This looks to be game similar to the Browns/Bengals match-up. The ball will be in the air all day long in this game. The match-up to look for will be the battle of the WRs, Texans WR Andre Johnson vs. Colts WR Reggie Wayne. Whichever WR has the better game, his team will win. The Colts have the edge in this game because they have the better run game and the better coaching. But look out for the Texans defense to give Peyton Manning and the Colts O-line stomachaches this Sunday. The Colts will win, but it will be close.
My Pick: Colts
Game of the Week, Pt. 2:
Location: Superdome, New Orleans, LA
The Eagles played smart football last week in their win against the Cowboys. So dont be mad at RB Brian Westbrook for taking the knee at the 1 yard line last Sunday. It was a smart move and I commend the Eagles for thinking with their heads last Sunday instead of their hearts. It would have been great if the Eagles had scored on Westbrooks run, but why risk giving the ball back to the Cowboys with 2:19 left in the game. It was a 2 possession game and if the Cowboys had gotten the ball back, they could have done some trickeration and won the game. My hats is off to the Eagles for smart play calling.
The Saints won a close game last week against the Cards. QB Drew Brees has taken over as the main man on the Saints offense. And with Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush being injured, RB Aaron Stecker has done a solid job in holding down the rush offense. Well, word has it that Bush may be back for this game. Surprise!!!
This is going to be a good game. The storyline for this match-up are the RBs. Its going to come down to whichever team can run the ball effectively. Although Bush may be back for this game; and Stecker has been holding it down for the Saints, Westbrook is the main focus of this game. His performance will determine the outcome of this game. In a one RB (Westbrook) vs. a possible two RB (Bush and Stecker) match-up, the odds are in favor for the one RB.
My Pick: Eagles
Location: ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, FL
I really feel sorry for the Raiders in this game. The Jags may not show it, but I betcha they as mad as hell. For the Jags to not have one representative in the Pro-Bowl is a joke. Besides the Pats, the Jags have played some of the best football this season. Its sad. Too bad the Jags will have to use the Raiders to prove their point.
The Raiders are an enigma wrapped in a riddle. You have the #1 pick overall from this years draft, riding the pine. Its time to prepare for the future and your future is holding a clipboard with a head-set. Your season is over!!! Its now time to start the young guys. If JaMarcus Russell is not ready to play by now, then the Raiders wasted their money. Play this boy now.
The Jags are going to run up and down on the Raiders in Sundays game. And theres nothing they can do about it. RB Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew will murder the Raiders 31st ranked rush defense. This game will get ugly early. It will also be over early.
My Pick: Jaguars
The I Could Care Less Game of the Week, Pt. 2:
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
The Cards record at 6-7 is solid improvement from last years 5-11. The Cards have a good chance of finishing the season at 8-8. The Falcons wish they can say the same. Theyre be happy if the can get 5 wins this season. After looking over this match-up, it doesnt look like thats going to happen either.
Comparing the 2 offenses is like night and day. The Cards offense has been consistent this year. They had a QB that can manage the game well Kurt Warner. A passable run game in Edggerin James and arguably the best WR duo in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.
The Falcons offense has been miserable this year. Their inconsistency this year has been their downfall for weeks past. And it will continue this week. The Cards defense, especially their Secondary, will not let the Falcons get a play off on offense. They will come after the QB all day long. This game will be over before it even starts.
My Pick: Cardinals
Location: Monster Park, San Francisco, CA
The 49ers shocked the world last Saturday when they won their match-up against the Bengals. The Bucs clinched their division last Sunday with a convincing win against the Falcons. Now, Bucs QB Jeff Garcia returns to San Fran with his new team looking to up their position in the playoffs.
The 49ers offense, especially the O-line, has to step it up in the trenches. They have to give QB Shaun Hill time to get the play off. The 49ers also have to control the clock and make sure RB Frank Gore is active in the offense for big yardage.
The Bucs have to attack the 49ers O-line and get to the QB when their defense hits the field. On offense, the Bucs have to let Garcia be Garcia. Since last week was his first game back from being out for 2 weeks with a back injury, the Bucs have to let Garcia find his footing again and get back into the flow of the game.
The Bucs have the better numbers across the board. Theyre the better team stating at QB and ending in the coaching department. This will be a sweet homecoming for Garcia.
My Pick: Buccaneers
Location: LP Field, Nashville, TN
The Jets have a long road ahead of them in the post season. They have so many issues to attend to, that this game is more a scrimmage for the Titans. The Titans are still in the playoff chase, but each week their chances are getting slimmer with the Jags and the Browns ahead of them in the AFC. Looks like Jeff Fisher and his Titans will be on the outside, looking in this year.
The Jets need to focus on running the ball. The Titans have the 7th best rush defense in the league. Its going to be a task and a half for the Jets to run against the Titans. But whatever they do, they cannot stray away from that game plan. They have to tire the Titans defense and keep the offense off of the field.
The Titans have the 4th best rushing offense. So the Jets have to go after the Titans RBs and take them out in the backfield. The Jets cannot allow Vince Young and the Titans RBs to run all over them. The must attack at the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped.
The Titans have the better defense and offense than the Jets. Although the Titans are not officially out of the playoff picture, their odds of getting in are slim. But winning games, such as this game, will help their cause.
My Pick: Titans
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
THEY DID IT!!! As much as I was hoping that they wouldnt do it, the Dolphins did it. They finally won a game. Congrats to the Dolphins for winning their first game of the season last week. Your reward is the undefeated Pats. Good Luck.
The Dolphins have to play the same this week like they did last week. Its not about numbers or play calling, its about heart. Imagine how things will be in Miami if they put an end to the Patriots undefeated streak after the win they had last week? Wow!
Then our alarms went off and we remember its still the 1-13 Miami Dolphins. It was fun being in the Land of Make Believe for a little bit, wasnt it?
My Pick: Dolphins
Location: Qwest Field, Seattle, WA
Former Ohio State QB and Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith, will get the start for the Ravens this week. Good for him. Truthfully, he should have been starting weeks ago. There was a reason why the Ravens drafted him last April. They have no faith in Kyle Boller and Steve McNair is being held together with Elmers Glue. The Seahawks clinched the NFC West already, so this is practice for the Seahawks before the playoffs.
The Ravens offense and defense stinks. With LB Ray Lewis and CB Samari Rolle out on the defense and TE Todd Heap out on offense in Sundays game, the Ravens do not have the bodies to keep up with the Seahawks in this game. All the Seahwks have to do is move the ball on the ground and this day will be as easy as Sunday morning. This is the Seahawks game easily.
My Pick: Sehawks
8:30 pm game:
Game of the Week, Pt. 3:
Location: Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
I thought the playoffs started in 2 weeks? This game has a playoff type atmosphere to it. Both teams are still in it for the NFC Wild Card. The Vikes are holding on to the last spot. The Redskins are behind the Vikes and the Saints in the NFC. This will be a good game to watch Sunday Night. What a way to end your Sunday evening?
The Vike have to have a solid mix of run and pass in the Sunday Night Game. Everyone knows that the Vikes have been running through defenders all season long on the shoulders of the soon to be Rookie of the Year, Adrian Peterson. The Vikes have to spread the ball around in the Sunday Night Game and make the Redskins defense work for it. Keep their heads on a swivel.
The Redskins have to wear down the #1 rush defense by running the ball. Although the Vikes have the best rushing defense, the Redskins have a good RB in Clinton Portis. Portis has to have a big game this Sunday and steer the Redskins offense into the end zone through the ground.
This will be a good game. Both teams are evenly matched. Who would want anything else the day before Christmas Eve? As much as the Redskins have impressed me the past 2 weeks, the Vikes seem to be a little more balanced on both sides of the ball and will utilize their running game to the fullest. Vikes will win, but similar to a number of match-ups this weekend, the score will be close.
My Pick: Vikings
Monday Night Mania
Monday, 12-24-07, 8:00 pm game, ESPN:
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
When the Chargers faced off against the Broncos in Week 5, the Chargers blew them out, 41-3. In the 2nd round of this match-up, the Chargers have already clinched the AFC West and are now trying to climb in the standings in the AFC for a weaker Wild Card opponent. The Broncos are alive, but barely. With half of the AFC in front of the Broncos in the standings, its time to get ready for next year.
The Chargers have the better numbers across the board against the Broncos. The Charges offense is getting it together and the defense is solid. With LB Shawne Merriman out of Mondays game with an injury, the Chargers defense did take a hit, but nothing major. The Chargers D-line has to go after QB Jay Cutler. Cutler is the catalyst for the Broncos offense. Throw his rhythm off and the whole offense is shut down.
The Broncos have to try and take advantage of Merrimans absence. Attack his side of the defense every chance you get. On defense, the Broncos need to get to Philip Rivers and force him to make mistakes. Once he starts making mistakes, the Broncos can capitalize on them for big plays.
The chargers are in the playoffs. Since this is a game against a divisional opponent, the Chargers are looking for the win to improve their team numbers. With the Broncos struggling like they are, this is a good time for any to pad the stats.
My Pick: Chargers
The bottom line is this; with 2 weeks left in the season, there are only two types of teams to look for: the clinchers and the spoilers. Most of the division leaders have clinched and it comes down to which teams will be the Wild Card representatives. Right now, thats the best back-story. Theres so much mystery involved when it comes down to the Wild Card. But there are re a few other things to look out for.
Will the G-men continue to fold in the 2nd half of the season? Can the Vikes hold on to their current playoff spot and possibly jump over the G-men in the Wild Card? Will the Jags play spoiler to the Colts or Pats in the playoffs? How much gas is left in the tank of the old Mississippi Gun Slinger and can he get his team to the promise land for his 2nd Super Bowl ring? All these questions and more will be answered when the playoffs start in two weeks. As the song says, Its the most wonderful time of the year.
Once again, have a Safe and Happy Holiday