Hey isn’t Coach Ryan that guy who always rants and raves about the NHL and disappears from time to time all together? You’re damn right I am but I also am a little limited on what to write about as I have already said my piece on the No Hockey League. That being said a guy has to make his living and writing for free at least gives me a distraction from real life and also an excuse to throw back a few cocktails Don Draper style. Plus not only do I love to write I also love the NFL, especially the Cleveland Browns which really makes me drink, so I decided to bring you some NFL picks for the upcoming week of NFL football.
The last week taught us all a few things: the refs are back and everyone loves having them back until the game starts, the Texans look good, the Browns look bad, and the J-E-T-S are S-C-R-E-W-E-D. But it’s another week of NFL football and that always brings excitement as anything can happen on any given Sunday so let’s look at what we have in store…
Thursday Night: Cardinals (4-0) at Rams (2-2)
If you have been following Meehan’s blogs about Thursday Night Football you know he isn’t a fan. I must admit even though last week’s game with my Browns and the Ravens was the perfect excuse to create a three day weekend, the every week Thursday Night game has already lost it’s flair. First off it’s really cute the NFL gives every team a prime time game but unless you’re a fan of the Rams than having this game keep you up till well after midnight makes about as much sense as the Seahawks’ Hail Mary completion. I don’t mind the Thursday Night game when it comes down to the end of the season to feature some playoff races but every week makes it even harder to keep track of fantasy and pick ‘em leagues. Not to mention the fact the game doesn’t even start until close to 9:00 EST.
Ok I’m getting side tracked so let’s get onto the Rams and Cards. The undefeated Cardinals are heading into the Mediocre Show on Turf to take on the Rams, hold on here comes my excitement. Although the Cards’ defense looked impressive in the first few weeks of the season they struggled mightily last weekend at home against the high powered offense of the Miami Dolphins. Yes folks that’s called sarcasm. St. Louis despite their 2-2 record have both their wins coming in front of their home crowd where as Arizona has only had one game away from home. All this considered I’m still predicting a win for the Cards, covering their 1 point spread.
Prediction: Cardinals 24, Rams 19
Dolphins (1-3) at Bengals (3-1)
What to make of the Cincinnati Bengals? Yes they are a playoff team from a year ago in the toughest division in football and they are 3-1 but their week one showing against the Ravens left me with the question of just what Bengals team is showing up? Cincinnati has a unique ability to come out of nowhere for an amazing playoff run one season and then vanish for a few years. You also have to consider that last week the Dolphins look like a much improved team and outside of playing in Houston have kept both their road games very close. That being said I think the Bengals hold on to win but don’t cover the 3.5 point spread, and look for another possible overtime loss for the Dolphins. Unfortunately for Fins fans the combination of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are just too much to handle.
Prediction: Dolphins 21- Bengals 24 in OT.
Packers (2-2) at Colts (1-2)
I feel like this is one of those games that during the preseason looked to be a terrible match up although come week 5 has some intrigue. I don’t know if anyone knows what to make of either one of these teams. Indianapolis’ one win came against the extremely surprising Vikings and the Packers have looked both good (vs. Chicago) and average (look at the first half of the Seattle fiasco). The Packers also struggled last Sunday vs. the winless Saints although I don’t think anyone knows what to make of the disaster in New Orleans. One the flip side for the Colts, Andrew Luck has looked better than advertised and has over 300 yards in two out of three games, both of them losses. However I think the Pack is catching their stride and I just don’t see the Colts’ defense being able to get to Aaron Rodgers anywhere near as much as Seattle did. The spread is 7 and see the Pack covering that although for my bold prediction, Andrew Luck for over 250 yards passing.
Prediction: Packers 36, Colts 24
Ravens (3-1) at Chiefs (1-3)
If there is any team that has had a crazy start of the season, it’s Baltimore. The Ravens have played four games in under three weeks to start the season and are an impressive 3-1. They finally have had a long layoff after beating the Browns on Thursday Night Football and are traveling into Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Outside of upsetting the winless Saints, there hasn’t been a ton to cheer about with the exception of Jamaal Charles. Kansas City has been living by being one of the top rushing teams in the league although I think that will come to a halt when they go up against Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense. The spread on the game is 5 and I don’t think a well rested Baltimore will have trouble covering that.
Prediction: Ravens 28, Chiefs 17
Falcons (4-0) at Redskins (2-2)
If you’re looking for a game of the week, this might be it. The league, for good reason just can’t seem to get enough of RGIII and the Falcons finally seem like they are clicking on all cylinders. They already have posted a win over the Denver Broncos in a game where Peyton looked like a draft pick of the Cleveland Browns. The Falcons currently rank 29th in rush defense where the Redskins are leading the league meaning that Atlanta’s defense could be in for a long day. I know that Atlanta has a high powered offense and that’s where the Skins will have trouble as they currently are 31st in pass defense. I expect Atlanta to march down the field a few times with quick Roddy White and Julio Jones long touchdown passes but can their defense contend with the dual threat of Alfred Morris and RGIII? I’m going with the upset here as Robert Griffin covers the III point spread and gets his III win in front of his home crowd.
Prediction: Redskins 24, Falcons 21
Browns (0-4) at Giants (2-2)
Coming into the week as the biggest spread with 10 is the Super Bowl Champion Giants at home over the winless Cleveland Browns. The Browns are coming off a Prime Time loss to the Ravens and the G-Men are set to bounce back from a heart breaking Sunday Night loss against the Eagles. This game is a no brainer when it comes to predictions, I am going hands down with the Cleveland Browns taking out the Giants! Oh wait, I see pick on the “homer” for taking his hometown and beloved Cleveland Browns in a no win situation. What’s that? Impossible? The Browns are without several starters including Joe Haden? I’m going Browns all the way and I actually do have good reason behind it, ok maybe not good reason but A reason. For what seems like forever the Browns have been a bad football team, however since 2008 the Browns have beaten every Super Bowl Champion they have played the year after that team came off their Super Bowl victory. Seriously, look it up. In 2008 the Browns beat the Giants on Monday Night Football in Cleveland. In 2009 the Browns beat their hated rival, the Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium. In 2010, the Browns beat the Saints IN New Orleans and then last year the Browns didn’t play the Packers. So that’s my logic in picking the Browns, well that and I’m a Browns fan who does this writing for the love of football and my Brownies so I’ll find justification to always pick my Browns. Deal with it and GO BROWNS!
Prediction: Browns 24, Giants 20
Eagles (3-1) at Steelers (1-2)
One thing that is great about football is every year you start researching different teams, their records, and their stats and it just makes you scratch your head. The Steelers are one of those teams. I give them a pass for losing in Denver to Peyton Manning the first week but at Oakland? They at the moment rank 31st in rushing yards and are giving up over 100 yards a game on defense. I understand that a lot of this has to do with Rashard Mendenhall being injured but what happens if he has another knee injury or isn’t able to bounce back the way the Steelers would like? As a fan of the Browns and the AFC North in general that is a far cry from the “Steel Curtain” defense and the history of dominant running backs. The Eagles are another team that I can’t figure out. Seriously how many people have picked the Eagles to be NFC Champs this year? I honestly don’t think they are a great team, let alone an elite team. I’ll give them the fact they already have beaten the Giants and the Ravens and they do have a very balanced offensive attack and they rank in the top half of the league on defense. I also am wondering if the Steelers although still a playoff team are the elite team of years past. I am going to pick the Steelers to win this game but the Eagles to cover the spread of 3.5.
Prediction: Steelers 24, Eagles 23
Seahawks (2-2) at Panthers (1-3)
Seattle may be one of the most confusing teams in the NFL this season. They have showed flashes of greatness like the their defensive performance against the Packers in the now infamous Hail Mary game and they have an outstanding running game. The problem with the Hawks is their 32nd ranked passing offense, getting only 130.8 yards a game. Then you have the enigma that is Cam Newton. To be honest I was never a huge Cam fan but I was the first to admit last year that I was out of line by bashing the dazzling quarterback. However now you can’t search the internet without finding articles questioning and outright bashing the young quarterback’s desire to win and team play. Knowing Cam Newton’s history who would have thought he would have character issues? I think that Cam is a good quarterback with some personal issues but the problem isn’t him it’s the rest of the Panthers team, exception here to Steve Smith. The point spread here is 3 points to Carolina but I am going to give the edge to Seattle and play dumb to them losing last week to the Rams. My advantage is based squarely on the potential of Seattle’s defense combined with Carolina’s inability to consistently stop the run going up against Marshawn Lynch.
Prediction: Seahawks 17, Panthers 10
Bears (3-1) at Jaguars (1-3)
If I was in a suicide league or ran a gambling site this would be the “Coach Ryan Free Guarantee of the Week.” Jacksonville ranks no higher than 15th (rushing yards) in any major offensive or defensive category and the Bears are giving up less than 70 yards rushing a game. The Bears are one of the elite teams in the NFC and have looked good against everyone except for the Packers. Their defense is tough but if they have any weakness it’s their inconsistency on the offensive line. Jay Cutler although still drawing criticism has looked solid despite throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. They need Matt Forte to be able to stay healthy and their biggest negative is competing in the toughest division in the NFC. I’m not saying the Bears should start doing a Super Bowl Shuffle but against an anemic Jacksonville offense in a stadium that will be half empty and a quarter Chicago fans the Bears should be able cover the 5.5 point spread and go into their bye with a record of 4-1.
Prediction: Bears 28, Jags 14
Titans (1-3) at Vikings (3-1)
With the exception of Houston the AFC South has to be the weakest division in football. Indy is showing signs of life but Jacksonville and Tennessee just don’t look like they can compete in any way shape or form for a playoff birth. That being said the NFC North has the complete opposite issue; every team in that division is good and it could be possible that all of the teams could be battling throughout the season. The only thing these teams really have in common at the moment is that they have both beaten the Lions. I’m not saying the Vikings are on par with the Bears and Packers although they already have beaten their rivals the Lions and also have a very impressive win over the 49ers. On paper this match should be a blowout and a huge fantasy week for Peterson and Harvin but if the Vikings want to stay in the thick of things this is the type of home game that they simply have to win. I’m taking the Vikings to cover the 5.5 point spread on this one.
Prediction: Vikings 28, Titans, 13
Broncos (2-2) at Patriots (2-2)
Even though I said earlier that Washington and Atlanta is one of the premier match ups of the week, let’s be honest the game football fans are drooling over the most is the Broncos and Pats. Sure their records say .500 but you have Manning vs. Brady in New England, I can’t seem to recall if these two have ever played before but I think they match up pretty well. Yes it may not be for the AFC Championship this time but the winner leaves with a winning record and the loser is back to playing catch up. The more you analyze the numbers on this the more I have no idea who to pick. Both have lost to good teams and won games they should have. Yes Denver beat Pittsburgh but like I said earlier that was week one and Pittsburgh hasn’t looked as dominant as years past, yet. To make it harder Denver is 0-1 on the road and New England is 0-1 at home.
There are two things that stand out to me when trying to pick this game, on one end the home field advantage for New England but also that the Pats are ranked 25th in the NFL in passing defense. One would think that Peyton will pick apart a low ranked pass defense but do you see Tom Brady and the Pats not stepping it up against Manning, at home? Vegas has the Pats at 6.5 point favorites and for some reason I am taking them to cover the spread. I just don’t see Tom Brady letting the Pats fall to 0-2 at home and Peyton is still looking a bit shaky at times plus after a scoring onslaught by the Pats last week, chances are they keep it going. One thing is for sure whoever loses this week could come out on top if these teams just happen to meet again in say, the playoffs. If you know these two quarterbacks and their history then you know that could be a strong possibility. One thing is for sure, the NFL sure messed up by not putting this in one of their prime time spots.
Prediction: Patriots 38, Broncos 31
Bills (2-2) at 49ers (3-1)
Oh Buffalo, outside of your rivals the Jets you seem to be one of the biggest messes in the NFL. Put it this way it is never a good sign when your coach is questioning your mental toughness, but that’s just what Chan Gailey is doing after Buffalo gave up 45 second half points to the Pats. It’s funny you look at the final score of 52-28 and you think that New England destroyed the Bills but remember Buffalo was actually winning that game 14-7 at halftime. The one thing Buffalo has done is taken care of opponents that they should have beaten (Cleveland and Kansas City) but have lost both their matches against their division opponents, including giving up 48 against the Jets. If there is a positive for the Bills it’s C.J. Spiller, unfortunately for Buffalo fans the 49ers are only giving up 79.5 rushing yards a game. Let’s be honest with the exception of being shocked by the Vikings, San Fransisco has looked dominant all season winning at Green Bay and absolutely manhandling the Jets in New York. San Fransisco right now is looking up in the standings at Arizona and you know that’s not sitting well with Jim Harbaugh. Unfortunately it’s going to be a long weekend for Bills fans and if you have Alex Smith in fantasy be sure to start him as the Bills defense even gave up 300 yards to Matt Cassell. This game sits with the second biggest spread at 9.5 points which is always scary for picking games although I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Niners cover.
Prediction: 49ers 28, Bills 17
Sunday Night: Chargers (3-1) at Saints (0-4)
And with the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft the New Orleans Saints just want Sean Payton back. Yes I realize the Saints aren’t going to be top pick in the draft bad but who would have thought they would be 0-4, losing games to Kansas City and Carolina. If you break down the Saints stats at the quarter season mark they are 24th or worse in every major category except for passing, where they are 3rd. What the Saints really need is some sort of program where they pay their defensive players to go out and hit the other team so hard they get hurt, maybe they could add some sort of monetary reward on it. Maybe a bounty?
The Chargers on the other hand have a very misleading 3-1 record due to beating Oakland, Tennessee, and Kansas City. This actually is one of those games where anything could happen and really nothing would shock me. With the spread set at 3.5 points in favor of the Saints it seems Vegas can’t decide on anything except it’s going to be a close game. Picking this game feels similar to picking the Denver and New England game, the Saints really can’t go 0-5 can they? I actually could see myself picking the Chargers to win if it was in San Diego but I just don’t see Drew Brees letting that happen. I don’t think anyone thinks that the Saints are as bad as their record indicates and they are going to win games. New Orleans has bounced back from Hurricane Katrina and this week I think they’ll cover the spread and bounce back from Bounty Gate as well.
Prediction: Saints 21, Chargers 13
Monday Night Football: Texans (4-0) at Jets (2-2)
No matter how bad you think your team has it, I don’t know if anyone is in as much trouble as the New York Jets. In consecutive weeks they lost both Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes. To make matters worse Carlos Rogers of the Niners made headlines this week by claiming the team quit during their blowout in San Fransisco. The Jets are in major trouble and they have to find someway to stop the bleeding and fast. If this trend continues with injuries you’re going to have Tim Tebow throwing passes to Plaxico Burress and no Jets fan wants to even joke around about that. So the Jets are in desperate need of a win and in walks the undefeated Texans who appear to be one of the NFL’s best teams. I hate to say it but the Jets are going to have to put all their controversy aside and play a near perfect game, especially on defense to compete with the Texans. The Jets are giving up 172.8 rushing yards a game so expect Arian Foster to have an absolute monster game to the point the defense may just collapse from exhaustion The Jets anemic offense isn’t going to match up well with Houston’s defense who are 11th in rushing yards per game and an impressive 2nd in stopping the pass. The spread on this Monday Night match up is 8 and I think the Texans will cover easily meaning I may be able to go to bed before midnight.
Prediction: Texans 41, Jets 16
Bye Weeks: Dallas, Detroit, Oakland, and Tampa Bay
With all of these teams being .500 or under they all will spend the off week trying to figure out ways to avoid me bashing them in future blogs. The team that is in the most trouble though is obviously Detroit as they are 1-3 and digging a huge hole in a really tough division.
On a personal note I also am giving a bye to FOH author Ryan Meehan for asking to me to do this and then telling me he already had someone doing Week 5 with him. See you next week unless I decide to blog with Cal Meacham.