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Of Saints and Giants – NFL Picks, week six

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We’re getting pretty deep into the season and already some truths are making themselves evident:

  • Buffalo is mess
  • Tennessee and Tampa Bay are disasters
  • St. Louis and Oakland are interchangeable with a squad of goons from The Road Warrior

Personally, I’m starting to think this is one of those seasons where the winners and losers are separating early, with a wide gap. The kind of year where by week 13 everybody will have a good idea of the playoff picture.

Last week, I went in-depth on two games, and I was right on both of them. Atlanta made Swiss cheese out of the Niners secondary and Cincinnati pulled another late win out over Baltimore. I had a pretty good week, actually – Denver and Cleveland both won in close games.

But it was also an easy week to make picks – a lot of good teams played a lot of bad teams.

Whatever, I’ll take it. Here’s my week six picks.

Cincinnati Bengals over Houston Texans

This game intrigues me. Houston is, as always, a floundering team that’s disappointing. They give up a lot of yards and they pick up a bunch too. They’re third in the AFC in points scored, but only four other AFC teams have allowed more points. If Houston, especially early in the season, makes me think of anything, it’s of a team that’s going to get scored on a lot, if going to score a lot and is, more often then not, a lot of fun to watch.

And that’s why I think they’ll match up so well against Cincinnati.

The Bengals are a team that’s winning a lot of games they shouldn’t, getting a lot of last-minute scores. They’re also a lot of fun to watch, and will be especially be a lot of fun on Sunday.

Why? Because of how they match up against the Texans, both offensively and defensively.

This game is basically a meeting between a team that can run but has problems against the pass meeting a team that can pass but has trouble defending the run. I like the odds of this game being a shootout. And with the Bengals are home, I’m taking them to win.

New Orleans Saints over New York Giants

Don’t look now, but the Saints are undefeated. They’re scoring 36 points a game, highest in the NFL, and have scored more points in four games then most teams have scored in five. Saints QB Drew Brees is having a great season and his 108.4 QB rating is fourth in the league.

And not lost in this shuffle is their defence, which is quietly putting up great numbers: fourth in the NFL against the pass,  second against the rush and seventh in points allowed. Surely, some of this comes from an easy schedule: they’ve played both Buffalo and Detroit this season. But they’ve also beaten Philadelphia and the Jets, too, neither of which is an easy win.

But as they take on the Giants at home this weekend, they’re facing a pretty large test to stay undefeated.

The Giants are pretty much the class of the NFC. They’re 5-0 and rolling. QB Eli Manning is having a great year, ranking just higher then Brees in almost every stat. And losing Plaxico hasn’t even slowed down the Giants, either. Steve Smith has had a great season while Mario Manningham isn’t far behind, either.

But can their offence stand up to the Saints’ D? Their toughest test so far might have been Washington in week one, a 23-17 win where Manning threw for 256 yards against an underrated secondary. But there, they also were able to rush the ball, too.

It’ll be interesting to see how they handle the Saints and I suspect they’ll have a hard time with it. After all, this is a game that means a lot more to New Orleans then it does New York.

A win for the Saints here would cement them as a contender in the NFC and push them solidly on top of the NFC South. A Giants win only reinforces what everybody already assumes about them – they’re a great team and good pick to go deep in the playoffs.

With that in mind, I’m going to take New Orleans.  I think it’s their game to lose.

Other games:

  • Green Bay over Detroit – No way Detroit come even close here
  • Baltimore over Minnesota – I like Baltimore on the road, in a dome
  • Jacksonville over St. Louis – The Rams are really awful. Jacksonville is just kind of bad.
  • Pittsburgh over Cleveland – The Browns looked awful against Buffalo and if they can’t do it there, they won’t get it done in Pittsburgh
  • Tampa Bay over Carolina – Call it a gut feeling, but I think the 0-5 Bucs might pull one out against the 1-3 Panthers.
  • Washington over Kansas City – Neither team is really as bad as they look. The Chiefs don’t beat themselves and can air the ball out. And if there’s one thing the Skins can do, it’s defend the pass.
  • Philadelphia over Oakland – in a blowout, too.
  • Seattle over Arizona – Seattle’s looked good in their last couple games and I like them here.
  • New England over Tennessee – of course. The Titans are reeling like a loose cannon on a clipper ship.
  • NY Jets over Buffalo – I can’t get behind the Bills at all. They just can’t compete.
  • Atlanta over Chicago – The Falcons are decent and need a win to keep pace against the Saints. The Bears are good, too, but I’m going with a gut feeling.
  • San Deigo over Denver – Again, a gut feeling. I just feel like the Chargers need this win more then the Broncos, plus they’re at home.

Last week: 12-2

Overall: 20-9

Written by M.

October 16, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Maybe I’m crazy but… NFL Week Four Picks

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To paraphrase the great Rakim, it’s been a long time and I shouldn’t have left you without strong picks to look to.

It has been a while since I made any NFL picks or watched a complete game even. Life kind of gets in the way and etc and so forth, so I’ll skip the details and just confess that it’s already week four and I still haven’t watched a full NFL game on Sunday yet.

And so, I didn’t make any picks. I felt that jumping in with reckless abandon was an awful idea (I’m pretty sure it was covered in a Worst Case Scenario book). But things have changed.

I’ve done some homework, I’ve looked at some stats and I even read an entire Gregg Easterbrook column. I’m ready to make more fearless picks – after the jump.

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Quoth the Ravens? – Weekly NFL Notebook

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Forgive the cliche, but these Baltimore Ravens, they’re a weird team and they’ve got me all muddled up. First time all season I’ve seen them play and they disappoint, albeit against one of the best teams in the NFC, the Giants.

The phoneme rookie Joe Flacco, who was perfect for a stretch these past few weeks, came fast and sudden back to Earth, throwing two picks (one returned for a touchdown) while the vaunted Raven defence looked old and decrepit against the continual running attack of the Giants.

Take that 77 yard rush by Ahmad Bradshaw against at the start of the fourth: Lewis over-attacked his man and was woefully out of position. Bradshaw got a nice block and boom, hit a seam (or daylight, or whatever cliche you like most) and it was damn close to a touchdown.

So what happened to the Ravens defence? Up until that game, they were good against the run… but they couldn’t make stops. The Giants line was carving into them, opening holes for both Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Their linebacking corps was thusly overworked – sometimes it looked as if they didn’t know what to do. They bit early and found themselves attacking the line earlier.

Which helped him had a solid passing day (13 of 23, for 153 yards, one TD and one INT), but remember – it was the rushing that decided this game. It gave the Giants an early lead, helped them keep the Ravens off the field and was the major reason they won.

Where do they go from here? Down, way down. They’re six and four, but a bad six and four. They’ve already gotten to beat up on helpless teams like Cleveland, Cincinnati, Oakland and Houston. To my eyes, their only solid win was over Miami, back in October. One gets the idea that maybe they’ve already peaked as a team.

We’ll soon find out if they’re wheat of chaff, for here comes the hard part of their schedule: Philly, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Jacksonville. Four teams they’ll be hard pressed to beat. It’s likely they’ll still finish second in the North, but it’s unlikely they’ll make the playoffs.


Once again, Houston and Indianapolis had a wild shootout affair. And just like last time, it ended with a Houston miscue.

For reasons what I don’t quite grasp, bottom-of-the-barrel Houston always comes out swinging against the Colts. In a game where defence meant almost nothing for the majority of the game, both teams racked up yardage and points: Houston had over 350 total yards and Indianapolis had 474 yards, with Payton Manning throwing for 320 of them.

Think about that: 320 passing yards. That’s more then Oakland, Chicago or Cincinnati managed all day. That’s a monster day, yet he only had two majors. One might think that he would have had more scores… but one would be wrong. You don’t get that many yards without a strong running game, one that makes the linebackers cheat up and plug holes. And Joesph Addai’s line for today (105 yards, one TD) reflects this.

Houston, on the other hand, had a more balanced game: 177 on the ground, 179 in the air. And although Rosenfels had a quiet day, he played well – except for his last drive. He completed 70% of his passes and helped engineer a good game for the Texans: they were outplayed on the other side of the ball by a wide, wide margin (nearly a ten minute difference in time of possession, for example) yet they were in the game right until the end.

But the end was the same as last time, although not quite as heartbreaking for Texan fans. Rosenfels was picked off, for the first time in the game, with just 38 seconds on the clock. But other then that, it was a good drive – quick outlet passes, moving the chains, not eating a lot of time of the clock.

All in all, it was fun game to watch. I like the Texans; they’re a lot better then they get credit for. At least sometimes, anyway. In a year or two they could be a team to watch. And the Colts look like they’re back. Forget the Titans being undefeated, the Colts have a good shot at the division in my books.


A tough, physical game in Pittsburgh came to an odd close, with the league’s first 10-11 score. Pittsburgh looked good throughout, and the final score doesn’t reflect how well they did actually play.

It’s odd. With a low score, it’s easy to think this was a defensive battle. But it really wasn’t. It was a slogging kind of game, one where both teams went on long marches.

Ben Roethlisberger looked great for the first half, at one point throwing for something like 10 of 11. He finished the game with 31 completions and 308 yards.

But yet, their passing game was lacking: he didn’t throw for a major and was under constant pressure: he was sacked four times. The majority of his completions went to (no surprise) Hines Ward, who finished with 11 catches and 124 yards.

One might think that when the Steelers dominated so much that they’d have won easily. But it was a weird game: Pittsburgh was able to move around the field with ease, but didn’t get into the end zone all game, unless you count an early safety.

No, it was San Deigo, who despite having half the yards the Steelers did, a six minute difference in time of possession and a lousy game from Phillip Rivers (15 of 26, 159 yards and two INT) led for most of the game and led late.

It was all about LT on this snowy, ugly day in Pittsburgh. He scored the lone touchdown of the day, a three yard score up the middle, and it was the most important score of the day. LT spent a good chuck of the match pounding the ball up the middle, never for much, getting chunks of turf stuck to his helmet.

This was latest in a string of odd games for the Chargers, who seem to be getting more then their share of bad breaks this season. That missed call against Denver; a heartbreaking comeback by Carolina in week one; that surprising Miami upset, when the Dolphins broke out everything in the playbook.

The Chargers are now four and six, second in the AFC West. That’s two wins behind both Denver and anybody likely to win the wild card. But don’t count them out: they’ve only lost one game at home thus far – and four of their next six are at home. They can still bounce back.


Other Notes: After jumping to the Cincinnati/Philadelphia game, Fox cut away again from an overtime game. When will the NFL realize that cutting to a close game, then cutting away as per some anarchic rules, doesn’t serve make any sense? What’s the point of going to going to it, getting the viewer invested in it, then leaving them hanging? I suppose there’s the bonus aspect of it – but wouldn’t going to an extended postgame show serve the viewer just as well? … The Seahawks didn’t play well, but they certainly took advantage of their chances: they scored three touchdowns on drives of less then 20 yards … Somebody on the Raiders has to, absolutely has to show Jamarcus Russell how to manage a game. The Raiders last drive, where Russell hung around and watched time tick away was maybe the worst clock management I’ve seen this year. If the Raiders want him to pan out, they should really look to finding him a mentor, since he doesn’t seem to be learning on the job… Can the Titans go undefeated? Who knows – their rushing game is looking atrophied, but their passing game is dynamic. Just when one thinks they’ve got them figured out (a clock controlling team that outsmarts you), they shift gears and become some other beast entirely. If I had to bet, though, they’ll lose two of their last three, when they let Collins rest up for the playoffs.