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Thursday Night Football Preview – Colts at Jaguars

December 17, 2009 Leave a comment

MJD will need a big game for the Jaguars to beat the undefeated Colts.

Indianapolis (13-0) vs. Jacksonville (7-6)(7:20 PM CST, NFL Network):

“Is it time for Mercury Morris to pop up in discussion yet?”

The Colts have already wrapped up the AFC’s top seed for the playoffs, with their win last week against the Broncos.  In doing so, they also set records for consecutive single season wins, with 22, and victories in a decade, with 114.  The Colts recent history would indicate that it is now time for Peyton Manning, and other Colts starters, to hit the cruise control for the rest of the regular season and rest up for the playoffs.  Manning will start, get his reps in to keep his consecutive games streak alive, and then pass the ball along to whoever their backup QB is (which is currently Curtis Painter, because usual backup, Jim Sorgi, is hurt)… not so fast my friends.

Rookie head coach, Jim Caldwell isn’t ready to pump the breaks just yet.  He keeps claiming finishing the season is not one of his top priorities, yet he is playing all of his starters in a game this week which means nothing for his team?  To me, that doesn’t sound like he doesn’t care about finishing undefeated.  Peyton Manning has to love this, as he has stated numerous times that he hates missing any game-time for any reason.  He’s also coming off a week where he threw three interceptions, and looked a bit shaky against a solid Broncos team.  This is not good news for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

However, you have a match-up this week of a team gunning for history in the Colts, against a Jacksonville team that is in control of their own destiny.

The Jaguars are an interesting story in the NFL this year.  Sitting at 7-6, they will probably need to win all of their next three games in order to earn a playoff spot.  If they lose it could still happen, but they would need considerable help from other teams.  Their offense revolves around RB Maurice Jones-Drew.  When he is good, the Jags look tough.  If he is off, they look as beatable as any team in the NFL.  The Jaguars are 6-2 when Jones-Drew rushes for over 75 yards.  He will have to get it going this week, after being held to only 59 yards last week.  When Jones-Drew is at his best, he opens up the passing game for the Jags also.

Last week, when Jacksonville’s running game was halted, QB David Garrard completed under 50% of his passes and was sacked three times.  However, even with the up and down offense, it’s the Jaguars 26th ranked pass defense I am concerned about in this game.  They are going to have to show up, and play out of their minds if they intend on keeping Peyton Manning in check for this one.

The Jags are ranked 26th in the league in pass defense, and the Colts love to air it out.  The Colts have given up over 100 yards rushing each of the last three weeks, and the Jags love to run the ball.  The Jaguars are fighting for the playoffs, and the Colts are shooting for the first 19-0 season in league history.  I think this is going to be one the best games of the week.  This is a game the Colts should win on paper.

What to Watch for:

Indianapolis: Will the Colts’ starters really play this week like they have all season?  If so, can Peyton Manning get back on track?  He’s looked so good for most of the season, but has thrown an unusual amount of interceptions in recent weeks.  Can the defense hold up?  They have been battered by injuries all season, and have fought hard.  However, they have appeared a bit slower their last couple games.  Maybe injuries are catching up to them a bit.

Jacksonville: Three letters for the Jaguars playoff hopes… MJD.  If Maurice Jones-Drew is running on all cylinders, I think he will have a huge game.  He’s going to have to if he wants to see some playoff action this season.  The Jaguars only totaled 217 yards of total offense last week, so they are going to have to get it together this week if they intend on making the playoffs.  Never count a team hungry for a playoff birth though… never…

Betting Line: Colts -3

Over/Under: 43

Prediction: Colts will win and cover. Take the under.


NFL Preview and Predictions – Week 14

December 11, 2009 1 comment

Green Bay (7-4) at Chicago (5-7) (12:00 PM CST, FOX):
“Who would win in a fight, Cutler or Grossman?  Trick question, Cutler has pretty much been Grossman.”

How disappointing has this season been for the Chicago Bears?  Answer.  Extremely.  After what was one of the more disappointing Chicago Cubs baseball seasons in recent history (which is tough because there have been so many of them), the Bears picked up right where the Cubs left off and carried it right into football season.

The good news is that they won a game in week 13.  The bad news was that it was and ugly game against a laughable St. Louis Rams team.  After trading half of the team and draft picks, for oh say the next decade, to get QB savior Jay Cutler, Bears fans have seen a lot of the same old situation at quarterback – – interceptions and bad decisions.  Pile on a season ending injury to defensive superstar Brian Urlacher and no offensive line whatsoever to protect Cutler or block for last year’s surprise superstar RB Matt Forte, and you get to the disappointing 5-7 season the Bears have compiled thus far.  Don’t expect it to get any better this weekend either against the rival Green Bay Packers.

I think one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league is Aaron Rodgers.  Once hated, and protested against by Packers fans after departure of now Vikings QB and Wrangler Jeans spokesperson Brett Favre, Rodgers has come in and said all the right things and flat out put up sick stats.  Keep in mind, he has a terrible offensive line that has made him the most sacked quarterback in the league this year.  Through week 13 he has compiled over 3,000 yards passing with 22 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions… He’s the real deal.  Look for him to air it out all day to his hoard of talented receivers (Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, and gigantor TE Jermichael Finley) and open up the ground game for resurging second half RB Ryan Grant.

Home field will play a part for the Bears, and I think they will keep it close, but I just don’t see the Packers losing this NFC North rival game.

What to Watch For:

Chicago:   Can the Bears run the ball?  So far this season the ground game has been atrocious.  The inability to run the ball has forced the Bears to punt early, get behind in games, and force Grossman, oops I mean Cutler, to throw the ball way too much.  Forte did run for 91 yards in week 13, which was one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise ugly win for the Bears.   If Chicago can get something working on the ground with Forte, it should take some pressure off Cutler and allow him to play as well as he can with zero good receivers.

Green Bay:  How many yards will Aaron Rodgers throw for?  Like I said earlier, this guy has been on FIRE all season long.  Their offensive line has stepped it up the last couple of weeks, and Rodgers has rewarded the offense by lighting it up through the air.  Look for Driver and Jennings to put up big time receiving numbers, and James Jones to get a healthy dose of yards as well.

Betting Line: Packers -3 1/2

Over/Under: 41

Prediction: Packers to win and cover. Under.

Denver (8-4) vs. Indianapolis (12-0) (12:00 PM CST. CBS):

“I don’t know where Peyton Manning is better: on the field or in commercials.  Bottom line, he’s good.”

This is a really interesting matchup this week.  Denver has either been really good or really bad this season.  Indianapolis, on the other hand, has just been really good.  However, Indianapolis leads the league in fourth quarter comeback wins this season with four.  One would think that at some point the Colts would drop one of these close games, but so far they have come up with one big play in the fourth quarter after another. Plus, the Peyton Manning guy is pretty clutch.

Before week 13, Peyton Manning had thrown two interceptions in three straight games.  Joseph Addai had a big day against the hot Tennessee Titans last week, which really took some pressure off Peyton Manning, who had another quality start.  I like the Colts in this game, but I look at it as sort of a trap game.

The Denver Broncos have been laughing all season at how bad Jay Cutler has been for the Bears and how good the once QB punch-line Kyle ‘McBeardy’ Orton has been for their organization.  When healthy, Orton has done an incredible job leading the Broncos and winning games.  He is getting on the same page with stud/freak WR Brandon Marshall as well, which is a good sign for both Broncos playoff hopes and Broncos fans as well.  I think the offense will put up numbers this weekend, but it’s the defense that is my concern.  At times, the Broncos defense has looked like one of the best run stopping defensive units in the league.  At other times, they have looked soft, and let teams pile up offensive stats.  If the good Broncos defense shows up, this will be a close game.

What to Watch For:

Indianapolis: Peyton Manning has been so good this season.  Will he be able to stay away from the interceptions that have somewhat plagued him recently?  I like Joseph Addai to rack up a big game on the ground, and new WR target Pierre Garcon to assist Manning with the air attack.

Denver: Kyle Orton.  Can he really be as good as he’s shown this season?  The Bears fan inside of me has a hard time believing it.  However, I’ve also witnessed something similar to this with former Bears letdown and current Bengals sensation RB Cedric Benson this season.  Look for Orton to get it going early with Brandon Marshal.  If the Defense can keep Peyton Manning in check, this could be one of the better NFL games of week 14.

Betting Line: Colts -7

Over/Under: 44

Prediction: Colts to win, but not by 7. Take the Broncos and the points. Over.

Cincinnati (9-3) at Minnesota (10-2) (12:00 PM CST, CBS):
“I’m comfortable playing for a team with Adrian Peterson.  I’m comfortable in Minnesota.” – Gunslinger
I have stated before that I am a Bears fan.  However, I think the Vikings are one of the most fun teams in the league to watch this year.  RB Adrian Peterson in a monster, and Brett Favre is making Percy Harvin and Sydney Rice look like Pro-Bowl receivers.  Pair the awesome offense with a defense that has been lighting up teams around the league and you have yourself a nice recipe for a 10-2 record thus far.  The Vikings did not look good against the Arizona Cardinals in week 13, but I feel this was a fluke.  I think this will serve as motivation for the Vikings, and they will come out for blood in week 14, looking to bounce back after a loss.
The Cincinnati Bengals are having an incredible season.  After being one of the biggest disappointments last season, and being in the news more for team arrests than wins, the Bengals have shown up in a big way this year.  Leading the charge is RB Cedric Benson.  Once tossed away from the Bears, Cincinnati gambled and were rewarded big time giving Benson a second chance.  It’s amazing how much better a RB can look when running behind an offensive line that knows what a block is.  Benson should eclipse the 1,000 yards rushing mark this week, although it will not be easy against a tough Vikings run defense.  Carson Palmer and Chad Ocho-Cinco (er…Hachi Go) have regained their chemistry, and both are looking like the superstars they were once considered.  Both teams are a feel good story, and I expect big running numbers from both teams.

What to Watch For:

Minnesota: Look for RB Adrian Peterson to run with a chip on his shoulder after being held to a season low 19 yards on 13 carries against the Arizona Cardinals in week 13.  It would not surprise me to see Peterson go off for well over 100 yards against the Bengals.  After throwing only three interceptions all season, Brett Favre coughed up two in week 13.  He was hurt, but melted down at the end of last season.  Will he be able to finish this season playing as well as he has thus far, or will his biological clock catch up to him in the coming weeks.  I am really interested to see.

Cincinnati: Can Cedric Benson stay healthy and keep up his pace?  Can Ocho-Cinco (er…Hachi Go) find the endzone?  He pulled out a sombrero and poncho for his touchdown celebration last week.  This week he says he will find and play the Viking horn if he scores. I don’t know what I look forward to more from this guy… his celebratory dances, legal name changes, or waiting to see how much he gets fined each week.  He should have a solid game this week, but I expect to see more emphasis on the ground game.

Betting Line: Vikings -6 1/2

Over/Under: 43 1/2

Prediction: Vikings to win and cover. Over.

New Orleans (12-0) at Atlanta (6-6) (12:00 PM CST, FOX):
How good have the New Orleans Saints looked this season?  I have picked against them a few times this year, but they continue to just put up ridiculous offensive numbers.  Before the season though, everyone knew the offense was going to be good.  It is the Saints defense that has surprised so many people.  They have been really good thus far, but appeared to be a little suspect against the Redskins in week 13.  Injuries played a big part in this, but Atlanta is no stranger to the injury bug either.

The Falcons two best offensive players, QB Matt Ryan (foot) and RB Michael Turner (ankle), have both missed games in recent weeks due to injury.  The depleted Falcons defense even made Michael Vick look pretty good again in his return to Atlanta in week 13.  Matt Ryan saw a specialist for the turf toe that has been bothering him, and the good news for the Falcons is that he does not need surgery.  He may be back for this weeks game against the Saints.  If not, it will be Chris Redman, who has played surprisingly well, starting for the second straight week.  Ryan or no Ryan, I like the Saints offense to torch the Falcons Defense.

What to Watch For:

New Orleans: Will Reggie Bush ever play again?  Is there a more exciting player at times, and a more frustrating player at others in the NFL?  Bush looks so amazing at times and so soft at other times.  He has missed multiple games due to injury, and questions about his commitment to the team have surfaced since they Saints’ big win against the Patriots.  Drew Brees is having an MVP caliber season, and I expect to see this continue and Brees to put up big stats against the Falcons.

Atlanta: Who will play for the Falcons?  Will it be Matt Ryan or Chris Redman at QB?  Will Michael Turner suit up, or will the Falcons rely on RB Jerius Norwood and Jason Snelling for another week?  The one guy I like in this game is WR Roddy White.  The New Orleans Saints pass defense has been pretty beat up, and Roddy White has big play potential every time he touches the ball.  He will need to have a big game if the Falcons want to be in this game.

Betting Line: Saints -10 1/2

Over/Under: 50

Prediction: Saints to win, but not cover (10 1/2 is a lot of points, tough to take that risk). Take the Falcons and the points. Under.

Philadelphia (8-4) at New York Giants (7-5) (7:20 PM CST, NBC):
“Is Eli Manning really as unstoppable as his Citizen Eco Drive?”
The late game on Sunday may hold the most playoff implications of the day.  Right now Philadelphia is in, and the Giants are in the hunt for the wild card.  Another loss though, and the Giants’ playoff hopes may have to be put on hold until next season.  Eli Manning has been bothered by an injured foot, but has battled through it.  While his numbers are down, you have to admire a little toughness on his part.  Brandon Jacobs has been the big story, or the big disappointment, for the Giants this season.  His numbers are significantly down, showing the shelf-life for a RB is nowhere near what it used to be.  All the big hits he has both taken and delivered to opposing defenses seem to have worn this one bruising running back down.  He did have a surprising 74 yard touchdown reception in a win against Dallas, but his ground numbers are still WAY down.  He will need to get it going here real soon if the Giants want to hold on to playoff hopes.

The big story for the Giants last week though was the re-emergence of the defense.  The Giants defense has not been nearly as good as it has been in recent history, but looked very strong in a big game last week.

Philadelphia pulled out a quality win last week in Atlanta.  Michael Vick, the biggest preseason NFL story and regular season enigma, got some playing time in his return to Atlanta.  He returned the favor by running for and throwing a touchdown for the first time all season.  QB Donovan McNabb is expected to start again this week, so don’t look for Vick to see much action unless the game is pretty much sealed up.  The Eagles have had some injury issues in recent weeks, but they seem to always have someone who can step in and fill the void at all roster spots.  Desean Jackson should be back this week at WR after missing a game with a concussion in week 13.  He seems to always have at least one big play per game, so fans a spectators have that to look forward to this week again.  All in all, I think this is going to be an awesome football game.  Getting two teams like this together with so much on the line should spell a very physical, very drama filled game.  After watching the Giants last week, I look for them to begin an end of the season surge and pull this one out in a close 3 point game.

What to Watch For:

New York Giants: Exactly how bad is Eli Manning’s foot?  He looked pretty good against Dallas last week, but his production has been significantly down recently.  Can Brandon Jacobs still run the ball?  It scares me that Jacobs has been recognized more for receptions this season than big plays running the ball.  He looks like he just does not want to take the hits like he used to.  I can’t blame him, but that’s what he need to do to be successful.

Philadelphia: Will Desean Jackson show up after a week off with a concussion?  Look out for FB Leonard Weaver as well.  With injury-prone superstar Brian Westbrook unhealthy as usual, and LeSean McCoy (does he really need 4 capital letters in his name?), it was Weaver who stepped up last week with 5 rushes for 37 yards and a big time reception for 59 yards.  I look for him to see an expanded role this week and possibly put up some large numbers or find the endzone at least once.

Betting Line: Giants -1

Over/Under: 44 1/2

Prediction: Giants in a squeaker. Take the under.





Bills (4-8) at Chiefs (3-9) (12:00 PM CST, CBS):

Line: Bills -1

Over/Under: 37 1/2

Prediction: Take Chiefs for the win and the 1 point. Under.

Dolphins (6-6) at Jaguars (7-5) (12:00 PM CST, CBS):

Line: Jaguars -1

Over/Under: 44

Prediction: Take the Jags for the win and the cover. Over.

Seahawks (5-7) at Texans (5-7) (12:00 PM CST, FOX):

Line: Texans -6 1/2

Over/Under: 45

Prediction: Texans to win and cover. Over.

Panthers (5-7) at Patriots (7-5) (12:00 PM CST, FOX):

Line: Patriots -13 1/2

Over/Under: 44

Prediction: Take the Panthers and the points. Patriots for just the win. Under.

Lions (2-10) at Ravens (6-6) (12:00 PM CST, FOX):

Line: Ravens -13 1/2

Over/Under: 40

Prediction: Take the Lions and the points. Under.

Jets (6-6) at Buccaneers (1-11) (12:00 PM, CBS):

Line: Jets -3

Over/ Under: 37

Prediction: Jets to win and cover. Under.

Redskins (3-9) at Raiders (4-8) (3:05 PM CST, FOX):

Line: Redskins -1

Over/Under: 37 1/2

Prediction: Raiders to win and cover. Under.

Rams (1-11) at Titans (5-7) (3:05 PM CST, FOX):

Line: Titans -13 1/2

Over/Under: 41 1/2

Prediction: Take the Rams and the points. Over.

Chargers (9-3) at Cowboys (8-4) (3:15 PM CST, FOX):

Line: Cowboys -3

Over/Under: 48 1/2

Prediction: Take the Chargers and the points. Under.

Categories: NFL Tags: ,

UGLY FOOTBALL ALERT! Steelers vs. Browns Preview

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Now he's done.

Thursday Matchup – Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Cleveland (1-11)

(Honestly, who in the NFL scheduling office saw this game and decided to make it a Thursday night game that will be nationally broadcast. If you find him, pink slip that dude, please.)

On paper, this matchup looks like a no brainer.  And unfortunately, even after last weeks grotesque performance against the Raiders, it should still be all Steelers this week against the Browns.

Don’t think the Steelers are missing Troy Polamalu?  Think again.  Both Polamalu and starting CB William Gay both expected to miss Thursday’s game, so one would think a door may be opened up for Cleveland’s offense to put some points on the board.  However, Cleveland would have to have an offense and a QB not named Brady Quinn in order that to be true.  The Browns did magically manage to put up 23 points against the Chargers, but their defense (which has been absolutely anemic this season) choked up 30 points in yet another loss.

What to watch for:

Pittsburgh Steelers: After taking direct shots at QB Ben Roethlisberger for being “soft,” WR Hines Ward is questionable for the game.  Something tells me he will still play.  If he doesn’t though, you think Big Ben will come back with a few remarks in Ward’s direction?  Also, it will be interesting to see if that guy from Love & Basketball Mike Tomlin can get the Steelers defense inspired to stop somebody this week.

Cleveland Browns: The only thing I am excited about in this game is to see what RB Jerome Harrison can do as a starter.  The Cleveland Museum’s mobile dinosaur exhibit known as Jamal Lewis is officially done for the season, opening the door for Harrison.   Against the Chargers in week 13, Harrison piled up 97 yards on only 17 touches and hit end-zone pay-dirt twice.  I expect a little let down this week, but if Harrison can repeat anywhere close to that effort, the Browns may keep the game a little closer than expected.

Betting Line: Pittsburgh +9 1/2

Over/Under: 34

Predictions: Pittsburgh with the win and they’ll cover the spread. Take the under, Cleveland can’t score.