Sunday, November 25, 2012

NFL Picks - Week 12

Week 11 Results (10-3) – Overall (100-48-1)

Incredibly short this week; just got back into town.  Reached the 100 win mark last week and could have eclipsed it if I hadn’t gone for the upset reaches with Philly and Chicago.  On to the next one…

Vikings @ Bears
Jay Cutler is playing, and the Bears defense has to be pissed off after last week’s flop in San Francisco.

Raiders @ Bengals
AJ Green should have a field day against the Raiders secondary.  Bengals win their third straight.

Steelers @ Browns
Maybe I’m getting suckered into this one, but Cleveland has played everyone close this year and get the Steelers and their third string QB at home.  Pittsburgh’s game plan is no secret – run game and defense.  Trent Richardson has been fed over and over the past three weeks and responded tremendously.  I’ll put my faith in the rookie.  Having Joe Haden active seals it for me.

Bills @ Colts
Buffalo has shown up two weeks in a row.  Make it three as they pull off the upset in Indy.

Broncos @ Chiefs
They’ll miss Willis McGahee, but Peyton Manning should have little trouble beating a team that has absolutely nothing to play for.

Seahawks @ Dolphins
Miami is reeling with three straight losses and get the smashmouth Seahawks at home.  Each of Seattle’s five road games has been decided by seven points or less.  Expect no different in this one.  Seattle wins 17-13. 

Falcons @ Bucs
This one looks like the shootout of the week to me.  I love the way this Tampa team is playing, and the Falcons have a couple more losses in them.  I think we see one this week.

Titans @ Jaguars
Chad Henne is now the QB of the Jags after shining last week against the Texans.  The Jags are still one of the two or three worst teams in the league, and Chris Johnson is playing at a high level again.  It’s ugly, but the Titans get the win.

Ravens @ Chargers
Trap game of the week.  The Ravens travel to San Diego in between games against the Steelers.  Baltimore is clearly the better team, but if Philip Rivers hasn’t given up on the season after last week’s loss, I think they squeak by the Ravens today. 

49ers @ Saints
Let the Colin Kaepernick era begin.  The Niners new starter rolls into New Orleans looking to knock off the resurgent Saints.  This could be the most entertaining game of the week.  San Francisco clearly has the better defense, and great ones travel well.  This new look offense may not yet rival Drew Brees’ attack, but they’re going to be a dangerous force with Kaepernick under center. 

Rams @ Cardinals
Defense defense defense.  The Cardinals break their six game losing streak on the back of their defense.  New starting QB Ryan Lindley eliminates the big mistakes, and the Cardinals win a low scoring game at home.

Packers @ Giants
Eli and the Giants are struggling and get the under-the-radar Packers at home on SNF.  Green Bay has won five in a row and are quietly back on top in the NFC North.  Randall Cobb has a huge game as the Packers keep the Giants on that downward trend.

Panthers @ Eagles
The Eagles are a team that I think have given up on the season, especially with how pitiful they looked last week at Washington.  The writing is on the wall, and it’s in bold italicized print – the Andy Reid era has six games remaining.  Cam Newton has a big game on MNF.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Talbuc's Take - Week 12

If the Niners-Bears MNF “contest” was the first NFL game you watched all year, you’d think the Niners and Bears were on opposite ends of the football spectrum.  Holy cow did the Bears look horrible.  I don’t care if Jay Cutler was playing or not.  That bad ass defense just got shit stomped by a Niners team that was reeling the last couple of games.  The Niners did literally everything they wanted to do on both sides of the football for 60 minutes.  That was a disgusting football game to watch, but wow, what a dominant effort by the Niners. 

(in-game comments) I was a Colin Kaepernick fan when he came in ’11 (had him rated higher than Cam Newton in my draft rankings for the next level), but I’m flabbergasted with what he’s doing right now to the Chicago Bears.  This is a backup QB getting his first start in the NFL, doing it against the Chicago defense, and he’s absolutely destroying them.  Kaepernick is doing anything and everything he wants at this point – 11 of 13 for 181 yards and a TD late in the first half.  As I mentioned in a comment, how often do you see a team expand its playbook when the backup gets into the game?  Hell of a job young man!

He has a LONG way to go as an NFL QB, but I see a bit of Aaron Rodgers in Ryan Tannehill.  The rookie has made more than his share of mistakes on the football field this season, but his ability to throw on the run reminds me of the MVP.  Tannehill does a nice job of making plays outside the pocket and has appreciable game awareness.  I’d like to see the coaching staff take the reigns off him a bit as I think we’d see a more natural performance from the rookie.  I really think he just needs more reps at the position at this level.  Once he’s comfortable you’ll see more of his natural athleticism shine through.  I really like his upside. 

GO BUCS!!!  These guys are playing some football.  I don’t know if they’re going to be a serious contender this season, and I honestly don’t care.  What I see is a football team that is giving 100% effort week in week out, and I love it.  They’re playing inspired, team football.  They’ve got a huge home game against the Falcons this week with a chance to win their fifth straight game for the first time since early in the ’02 Super Bowl season.  Vincent Jackson has been everything the Bucs hoped he’d be, and rookies Doug Martin and Lavonte David are already establishing themselves as fixtures and leaders of their respective sides of the football.  Buccaneer football games are finally fun to watch again.

You’ve got to appreciate how a team like the Falcons can keep winning games they look certain to lose.  What’s disturbing is that these are home games against teams that won’t sniff the playoffs – Carolina, Oakland, and Arizona.  This stuff won’t fly in the postseason, especially since it’s their QB making the big mistakes.  The playoffs are a time for elite QB play and dominant defensive play.  Atlanta’s defense is far from top notch, which means it’s highly unlikely the Falcons could survive a craptastic game from the Mattural in the postseason. 

I know I’m a closet Packers fan, but I really love where they’re trending right now.  They’re not too hot, but they’re winning football games.  They have a host of top tier talent recovering from injuries – Jennings, Matthews, Woodson, Benson.  The win in Detroit wasn’t pretty, but they spent a lot of time trying to establish a running game.  Great teams can win games like that.  Jermichael Finley has a pulse, and watch out if they get a SNF win at the Giants.  They’ll be 8-3* (Seattle screwjob) with remaining games against Minnesota (twice), Detroit, Chicago, and Tennessee.   It’s not where you are in November but where you are in January that matters.  I love their outlook.

Cincinnati has a good chance of leapfrogging the Steelers in the AFC North with the way they’re playing football right now.  They’re 5-5, but that’s not so bad in the AFC this year.  They have winnable games against Oakland, San Diego, Dallas, and Philadelphia before wrapping up the regular season with Pittsburgh and Baltimore.  If their defense can keep playing at a high level, I like their chances.  AJ Green is one of the few unstoppable receivers in the game, and when you have a guy like that, you’re never out of a football game.

The Texans just got a wake up call courtesy of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Lions may end up bearing the brunt of that one.  Pushed deep into OT against the 1-9 Jaguars, the Texans needed a huge day from Matt Schaub to get a victory that looked like a foregone conclusion before they kicked things off in Houston.  You’ve got to think you’ll see a focused Texans team Thanksgiving Thursday in Detroit.  If things weren’t already awful in Detroit, having dropped to 0-4 in the division with that loss to the Packers, now they get to face a bunch of pissed off Texans.  They’ve also already benched Titus Young for that game due to his continued amateur behavior.  Not a lot of joy in Detroit right now. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NFL Picks - Week 11

Week 10 Results (8-4-1) – Overall (90-45-1)

Last week felt a lot uglier than 8-4-1.  The Cowboys and Saints were good calls, but I should have known better with the Giants.  They’re a very tired team at this point and are definitely in need of a bye week.  Oh well, on to the next one…

Cardinals @ Falcons
Atlanta finally tasted defeat last week in New Orleans but are back home to take on the struggling Cardinals.  Arizona had two weeks to prepare for this one, and Julio Jones is likely to miss the game for Atlanta.  I think Matt Ryan is going to have to work to get this win.  Closer than the experts think, but Atlanta bounces back and moves to 5-0 at home.

Browns @ Cowboys
Here’s another game where I think the big home favorite needs to be on upset alert, even more so than AtlantaDallas survived a tough division game in Philly last week and faces a Cleveland team coming off its bye.  A big factor for me is Joe Haden.  He’s questionable to start, and even if he does, he’ll be at far less than 100%.  Dallas squeaks by at home.

Packers @ Lions
Green Bay is coming off a bye and riding a four game win streak.  Detroit is coming off a loss at Minnesota and sits firmly in the basement of the NFC North.  They’ve yet to win a division game, and I don’t think they get it against the Packers.  Slight upset alert here, but I’ll trust Aaron Rodgers on the road. 

Bengals @ Chiefs
I don’t think the Bengals are anything special, but I don’t expect the Chiefs to be very up for this one after coming up just short on MNF in Pittsburgh.  KC is far and away the league’s worst team in turnover differential with a -20 (next closest is Philly at -11), and Cincinnati forced a total of 6 turnovers in their last two games, against both Mannings. 

Jets @ Rams
The Rams shocked the football world last week by tying the Niners.  The Jets continued to look awful by getting housed in Seattle.  If it was any team other than the Jets, I’d probably take them over the Rams due to a bit of a letdown factor, but who will the Jets turn to to score points?  I like what the Rams are doing on defense, and they’re offense is developing by the week.  It might be ugly, but the Rams get the win. 

Eagles @ Redskins
Have the Eagles given up yet?  They’re not going to the playoffs, and Andy Reid is likely on the way out.  Rookie Nick Foles gets the start in DC, and fortunately for him, he’ll be facing the pathetic Redskins’ pass defense.  Call me crazy, but I think the Eagles get the road upset here.  Look for a big day from LeSean McCoy and for the Eagles defense to do just enough to escape with a 4 point win. 

Bucs @ Panthers
Tough to take road teams in division matchups, but the directions of these two franchises are clear.  The Bucs are playing big time football on offense and getting by defensively, while the Panthers are struggling on both sides of the ball.  With Tampa Bay holding the league’s best run defense, Cam Newton will be forced to make plays, and that hasn’t exactly worked out so well for the Panthers this year.

Jaguars @ Texans
I can’t even find an angle that makes this one close.  Houston rolls.

Saints @ Raiders
Here’s a spot where the Saints are prone to lay an egg.  They’re traveling, not only out of the dome, but to the west coast.  Fortunately, they’ll be facing a one dimensional Raiders team that can run the football.  Carson Palmer may put up some points, but the Raiders aren’t a team I would take to win a shoot out with Drew Brees and the Saints. 

Chargers @ Broncos
Philip Rivers looks completely lost on the football field, and Peyton Manning is a man on a mission.  This isn’t setting up well for the Chargers in any phase of the game.  They’ll need a few Willis McGahee fumbles and Manning INTs to pull off the upset.  They don’t get them. 

Colts @ Patriots
The Andrew Luck bandwagon is at full capacity, and the Patriots struggled to hold off the Bills last week.  The Colts pull off the stunner right?  This one smells like a New England blowout in the making.  Aaron Hernandez looks like he’ll be out again, but it won’t matter as Indy struggles to keep up with Tom Brady and the Patriots. 

Ravens @ Steelers
There’s blood in the water.  Can the Ravens capitalize?  They get the Steelers in two of the next three weeks, and it’s likely that they’ll get to avoid Ben Roethlisberger both times.  Pittsburgh’s only chance is to run the football and get a huge game from their defense.  It could certainly happen, but how in the world can I back a Byron Leftwich-led offense against the Ravens? 

Bears @ 49ers
This will be a battle of teams dealing with concussed QBs.  Chicago will head west without Jay Cutler, but the Niners are expected to have Alex Smith under center on MNF.  I’m not a huge Jason Campbell guy, but I like him better with a week to prepare for a football game.  Great defenses travel, and the Bears have a great defense.  I don’t like the way the Niners have looked since that Giants whooping.  Chicago is a team that can make them look as bad as the Giants did, and I think they will. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Talbuc's Take - Week 11

I don’t have time to do a Talbuc’s Take every week, but here are some random thoughts after Week 10.

1) Wow!  How huge is that Ben Roethlisberger injury?  This sloppy game aside, Pittsburgh was looking like one of the best teams in football prior to him going down on MNF, but my how things have changed.  With Byron “holy hell he’s awful” Leftwich under center for the second half, the Steelers best offensive weapon was Lawrence Timmons.  Wow, they’ve got absolutely NOTHING to go with if Roethlisberger is out.  Mike Wallace can’t get deep quick enough, Antonio Brown is hurt, and defenses will stack 15 in the box against the run game.  They won and remained within one game of the Ravens, but here’s the bad news – they get those Ravens in two of the next three weeks, including this coming Sunday night in Pittsburgh.  How huge would it be for the Ravens to get both of their games against the Steelers with pork chop Leftwich taking the ball from center?  Just looking at the situation, you’ve got to think this is a pretty significant injury.  Roethlisberger is one of the toughest players in the league, and he immediately headed for the locker room.  Hell, he was at the hospital when the game finished.  Wow wow wow.      

2) The Cowboys need Tony Romo more than Tony Romo needs the Cowboys.  Yes, he makes his share of mistakes, but if you really look at things, it’s not like he has a ton of weapons.  Dez Bryant is still situationally clueless, Miles Austin hasn’t been a big play guy, and DeMarco Murray is hurt.  All he has is shufflefoot Jason Witten.  Jerry Jones and Cowboys fans need to look around the league before they go and discard the former Pro Bowler.  Once you get past Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger, Brady, and the Mannings, there aren’t 10, let alone 26 passers better than Romo.  If Dallas doesn’t lock Romo up to a long term deal before next season they’re fools. 

3) I realize the suits think we have to talk about the Jets endlessly because they’re a New York team, but these guys are rivaling the Jaguars for having the least talented roster in football.  Seriously, how many of these guys would you want to start a team with?  Not counting Darrelle Revis, who is on IR, are there even five players worth wanting?  Mangold, Ferguson, Coples, and Wilkerson are the four I came up with.  Maybe David Harris or Stephen Hill.  That’s a bad team that needs to start completely over.  That said, I’m not for tossing Rex Ryan.  I’m pointing a finger at GM Mike Tannenbaum.  Let’s get some talent in here guy!  If things keep trending downward they may be in line to draft Geno Smith or Matt Barkley.  The QB position gets the most attention, but they need help all over the depth chart. 

4) How about those Bucs!  I don’t want to tempt fate by drawing too much attention to these guys, but the team that Vegas slapped with a projected six win season is sitting quietly in second place with a 5-4 record.  No, it’s not the most difficult schedule in football, but they’ve yet to lose a game by more than seven points.  Their pass defense is as bad as expected, but they’re shutting the run down better than any other team in football.  Josh Freeman looks well in control of Mike Sullivan’s offense, and Doug Martin is making plays with the ball in his hands.  They’re a TEAM.  I love stressing that word.  They don’t have the most talent in the game, but they really look like one focused and functioning machine out there.  I don’t know if they’ll be able to stay in the playoff hunt through December, but I’m loving what I’m seeing.  The future looks good in Tampa Bay.

5) Don’t sleep on the Saints.  As bad as their season started (4 straight losses, including Washington and KC at home) they’re coming off a win over the previously unbeaten Falcons and are the most dangerous 4-5 team in the game.  Who wants to play these guys now?  Of their seven remaining games, there’s not one that looks like an absolute loss at this point.  I want to see how they do during the late November early December stretch v. SF, @ATL, and @NYG, but the Saints certainly have my attention. 

Several quick thoughts –

At best, New England is the fourth best team in the AFC.  I think Houston, Pittsburgh (with Ben), and Denver would beat them more often than not, and the biggest reason is defense.  Their defenses shut teams down while the Patriots’ defense hopes to hold the opposition to 24.  Throw Baltimore in their too, even with their defensive questions.  Something just doesn’t smell right about this Patriots team; good not great. 

Hate Jay Cutler all you want, but this team isn’t going anywhere without him.  Their defense can’t score 21 points every game, and Brandon Marshall isn’t the same receiver with Jason Campbell throwing him the football.  Chicago better hope Cutler’s concussion is of the minor variety. 

Why do we still allow for ties in the NFL in the year 2012?  Seriously, we can’t find some way to make sure the game ends with a winner and a loser?  Why do we need an overtime clock?  Just keep playing until someone scores.  I don’t want to hear about players getting tired and/or injured.  These are million dollar athletes playing a game that generates billions.  Finish the damn thing.

Also, during that SF/STL game, was I the only one yelling “CALL TIME OUT!!!” at the tv when the Rams were shifting into their second fake punt of the game late in the fourth?  Several seconds before the snap it was apparent that the Rams were going to once again run a fake punt, and the Niners had timeouts at their disposal.  How do you stop it?  Call time out before they can run the play!  I realize it takes a bit of quick thinking, but with 11 players on the field and a host of coaches on the sidelines, how does St. Louis get that snap off?  If I can think to do it, why can’t Jim Harbaugh?

Ten weeks in, here are the teams I think are non-mathematically eliminated from serious football – Philly, Washington, Detroit, Carolina, Arizona, St. Louis, Cleveland, Tennessee, Jacksonville, San Diego, Oakland, and Kansas City.  That’s 12 of 32 teams. 

Of the remaining, I think the most likely hoister of the Lombardi will come from this six– Houston, Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, and yes, Green Bay.  The Giants, Niners, and Patriots have work to do, and the Steelers better hope Roethlisberger isn’t shelved for long.  Baltimore is looking really sneaky at this point.  If they can capitalize on this Roethlisberger injury, get on a bit of a role, and establish a defensive presence for a postseason run, look out!

My top 10 at this point would be –
1) Houston
2) Chicago (assuming short Cutler absence)
3) Denver
4) Green Bay
5) Atlanta
6) Baltimore
7) Pittsburgh (deep in the teens without Ben)
8) San Francisco
9) NY Giants
10) New England

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NFL Picks - Week 10

Week 9 Results (11-2) – Overall (82-41)

An 11-2 week gave me a season win total that doubles my losses.  If I had stuck with my gut and picked Pittsburgh over New York, I could have had it down to a one defeat week.  Oh well, on to the next one…

Giants @ Bengals
Eli’s struggling, and AJ Green is calling out the Giants’ defense.  I think the Giants will overwhelm the Bengals and get back on track.  Green doesn’t call out any of his remaining opponents.

Titans @ Dolphins
Look for Ryan Tannehill to have a huge game against one of the league’s worst defenses.  The Titans won’t get much going on the ground against the Dolphins. 

Lions @ Vikings
No Harvin = not a tough choice for me.  Adrian Peterson is a beast, but without the versatile Harvin, look for Christian Ponder to have a long afternoon.  Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson FINALLY hook up for a score.

Bills @ Patriots
Aaron Hernandez won’t be playing, but it won’t matter.  The Patriots are coming off their bye, and the Bills wish they could have another week off.  New England rolls.

Falcons @ Saints
The perfect season ends in New Orleans.  Maybe I’m looking too much into a strong win against an awful Eagles team, but the Saints look like they make be gaining some momentum here.  Drew Brees throws 4 TDs. 

Chargers @ Bucs
If you like passing offenses, tune into this one.  The Bucs defense ranks #1 against the run, while the Chargers are no slouch at #4.  Josh Freeman remains on fire and leads the Bucs to their fourth win in five games.  Vincent Jackson burns his old team for 100 yards receiving. 

Broncos @ Panthers
Denver could be in a letdown situation going on the road for the second straight week with a division home game against the Chargers looming next week, but I think Peyton Manning keeps his offense focused.  The Panthers’ inability to put together two straight wins continues into week 11. 

Raiders @ Ravens
No Darren McFadden or Mike Goodson in this one.  That’s not a good thing for a Raiders offense facing a reeling Ravens defense.  The key to this one is easy – Ray Rice early and often.  It’s not pretty, but the Ravens remain on top of the AFC North.  

Jets @ Seahawks
Something smells a little funny in this one.  Will the bye week help the Jets get on track?  I think their only chance is getting to Russell Wilson and forcing the rookie into turnovers.  I trust the Seattle defense, but this will likely be closer than the experts think.  

Cowboys @ Eagles
This is a must-win for both teams.  Dallas is annually overrated but has played well enough to win each of their last four games.  Problem is they continually come up short.  Philly is 7 points from being 0-8 instead of 3-5.  Their offensive line is trash, and Michael Vick is failing miserably.  The boos rain down loudly on the home team.

Rams @ 49ers
I think this will be the ugliest game of the year.  Alex Smith hands off all day, and the Niners win this one by 17.

Texans @ Bears
I can’t wait for this one.  I love JJ Watt, but I need to see the Texans win a game like this before I get completely on their bandwagon.  Chicago has won these types of games before, and I think they do it again on SNF.

Chiefs @ Steelers
I’m in bed by 10:30.  So is Romeo Crennel.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NFL Picks - Week 9

Week 8 Results (9-4) – Overall (71-39)

Another nice result last week.  Really quick this time.  This will probably be the most favorites I pick in a week all year.

Broncos @ Bengals
Denver is starting to roll, and a strong game on the road will be another step towards a deep playoff run. 

Ravens @ Browns
Haloti Ngata is back for this one, and I expect to see a determined Ravens offense.

Cardinals @ Packers
Arizona is reeling, and the Packers get them at home.  Jordy Nelson is playing. 

Bears @ Titans
This might be a bad spot for the Bears, but as Warren Sapp says, good defenses travel.

Dolphins @ Colts
I really like this matchup – two young, impressive teams.  I’m rolling with the road team because I like their defense more.

Panthers @ Redskins
Everyone expects Cam to lose to Cam 2.0 today, so I’ll go (channeling McLovin) against the grain. 

Lions @ Jaguars
Even a flaky Lions team should win this one.  Jacksonville is missing key players in the secondary.

Bills @ Texans
As long as they’re not looking ahead to next week at Chicago the Texans will roll.

Bucs @ Raiders
The Talib-less Bucs head west and outscore Carson Palmer’s Raiders.  Vincent Jackson gets two TDs.

Vikings @ Seahawks
Sorry, but I don’t trust CP7 at home right now, much less on the road at Seattle.

Steelers @ Giants
I’m going against my gut in this one.  The Giants rarely play well at home, and they can’t sleepwalk against the Steelers.  I’ll say Eli pulls out another one late.

Cowboys @ Falcons
Dez Bryant is nursing a bad hip and reportedly fell on it while going through workouts Sunday morning.  I’m rolling with the Falcons.

Eagles @ Saints
If for no other reason than to see what happens Tuesday in Philly, I’m going with the Saints.  With Darren Sproles out look for Pierre Thomas and Lance Moore to step up big.