(2-4) RAIDERS AT (3-3) RAVENS
The Line: Ravens - 7 1/2
Baltimore needed a win last week in Miami to avoid a 4 game losing streak and their season becoming an exercise in futility, and they got it. Now they've got a golden opportunity to get back above .500. They face a one dimensional Raiders team. That dimension is the ability to run the ball, which is good for the Ravens, because the Ravens defense has allowed the fewest yards per carry in the league this year.
The Dolphins thought THEY were wacky with their lining up Ronnie Brown at QB, well mister, you want to see wacky, look at the Ravens lining up with 2 quarterbacks on the field at once, and Troy Smith tossing a 43 yard pass to Joe Flacco. Now that's wacky. As for the Raiders, they have enough trouble putting one viable quarterback on the field, let alone 2. JaMarcus Russell has a horrible 15 of 33 day, but makes up for it with the nice quote, " “It’s tough out there, man—I promise.”
Final- Ravens 29, Raiders 10
Fantasy Heroes: Joe Flacco QB BAL 23 pts; Demetrius Williams WR BAL 13 pts
(4-2) CARDINALS AT (5-2) PANTHERS
The Line: Panthers -4 1/2
If any team is a lock to make the playoffs right now, it's the Arizona Cardinals. That seems like a wacky statement, but the rest of the NFC West is horrible, and may not have another team that's going to win 5 games, so when you think about it, the Cards really can clinch this thing with a win this week. To do that, they'll need to be a lot better than they were the last time they went east for a road game. That was when the Jets hung 56 points on them a few weeks ago. The Panthers don't have the luxury of playing in a lousy division. In the NFC South, you've got to win every week to keep pace. They're 4-0 at home this year, and have outscored their opponents 108-33 in those games.
Anquan Boldin walks into a bar, and the bartender says "Why the long face?" Ahahaha. Seriously, I don't know if its because he just had his whole jaw reconstructed or not, but I never noticed how long that dudes face is before this game. Note that he caught 2 TDs in his first game back, a couple weeks after having his face reconstructed. He's officially the toughest player in the league now.
The Cardinals are making progress, but my God, it is just inch by inch by inch by inch by inch. Today they had a chance to go to 5-2, pretty much salt the division away, and prove they can get a big win on the road against another NFC team that will probably be in the playoffs. For a while, it looked like they would do all those things, they led 17-3 at one point. Then Steve Smith started scorching their secondary, and next thing you know they are 4-3 and on another long, cross country flight home hanging their heads in shame.
Final- Panthers 27, Cardinals 23
Fantasy Heroes: Jake Delhomme QB CAR 21 pts; Steve Smith WR CAR 25 pts; Anquan Boldin WR AZ 18 pts; DeAngelo Williams RB CAR 19 pts; Larry Fitzgerald WR AZ 13 pts; Kurt Warner QB AZ 28 pts
(5-2) BUCS AT (4-3) COWBOYS
The Line: Cowboys -2
How can the Cowboys keep losing with all that talent on offense? They lose because they give up a lot of points. They've surrendered over 20 in 5 of their 7 games, and over 30 in 3 of them, including the last 2 in a row. Tony Romo is out again in this game, but the Cowboys need to do something to keep the other team's offense off the field. If they were smart, which it looks like they're not, they would pound the ball on the ground with Marion Barber and take time off the clock to keep that shitty defense off the field. Thing is, that might not work against a really tough Bucs D.
Wade Phillips took away the remote control from his defensive coordinator, Brian Stewart, and all of a sudden the Cowboys D turns it around and wins a game the team had to have. It was important that Dallas' D come thru, because Brad Johnson is re-defining ineptness at the quarterback position right now. He's Craig Krenzel bad.
The Cowboys will certainly take this win though, and though it seems like they're 1-7, they're actually 5-3, which is not bad for a team who has had all kinds of issues to deal with. That's the good news. The bad news is they've got road games at the Giants and Redskins sandwiched around a bye week, so they ain't out of the woods yet.
Final- Cowboys 13, Bucs 9
Fantasy Heroes: None. Nooooobody. Cowboys Cheerleaders, though, always fantastic.
(5-2) REDSKINS AT (0-6) LIONS
The Line: Redskins - 7 1/2
On the face of it, this should be a blowout win for the Skins. Of course, that's what we said last week when they were at home against the Browns, and they won by a field goal, and the week before, when they hosted the then-winless Rams, and lost. The offense has had problems scoring lately, but this week they face a Lions team that can't stop either the run or the pass, so they should get their mojo back.
A win for the Redskins, but once again it was a lot more difficult than it really should be given their opposition. The offense is putting up yards, it just is not getting the ball in the end zone. They busted out Santana Moss as a punt returner and got an 80 yard TD from him that turned out to be the deciding score. The Redskins run of fortuitous scheduling is over. Their next 5 games are at home against Pittsburgh and Dallas and the Giants, and on the road against Seattle and Baltimore. If they play like they've been playing the last month they are going to lose a lot of those.
Rod Marinelli was asked after the game why his Lions are such losers, and he said, "“I don’t deal in couch therapy. I’ll never do that. I’m going to go back and coach them.” Then he went back to the locker room and drew up that play on the chalkboard where his quarterback rolls out 5 yards out of the end zone.
Final- Redskins 25, Lions 17
Fantasy Heroes: Jason Campbell QB WSH 21 pts; Clinton Portis RB WSH 14 pts; Santana Moss WR WSH 22 pts; Calvin Johnson WR DET 11 pts
(5-1) BILLS AT (2-4) DOLPHINS
The Line: Bills -1
Buffalo enters a stretch of three straight division games, which will give them a chance to put some more distance between them and the rest of the AFC East. They kick it off today against a Dolphins team that has dropped 2 close ones in a row. The Bills are pretty solid all around, although the running game hasn't been as strong as they would like. That's OK though, because the Dolphins big weakness is their pass defense, where they rank 29th in yards per pass attempt.
Last year, the Dolphins made a much-maligned decision to use the ninth pick in the draft on Ohio State WR Ted Ginn Jr., who holds the distinction of being the world's tallest midget. After 16 months, this decision finally paid off, as Ginn exploded for 175 receiving yards. This represents 22.6% of all the receiving yards he has ever had in the NFL.
Chad Pennington throws for 319 yards and posts a 117.9 passer rating. Hey, let's compare these two randomly selected QBs' stats thru week 8.
Chad Pennington 69.3 Comp%, 1710 yards, 7 TD/3 INT, 100.5 QB Rating
Brett Favre 68.5% Comp%, 1611 yards, 15 TD/11 INT, 89.5 QB Rating
That was a nawesome move by the Jets to get Brett Favre. Not only did they get a 1 year commitment from a quarterback worse than the one they already had, but they enable that other quarterback to join a team in their own division who would have been completely inept without him, and he'll probably be their quarterback for at least the next 3 years, and haunt you twice a year. That's some great general managing.
Final- Dolphins 25, Bills 16
Fantasy Heroes: Ted Ginn WR MIA 19 pts; Marshawn Lynch RB BUF 15 pts; Lee Evans WR BUF 13 pts; Chad Pennington QB MIA 20 pts; MIA DST 12 pts
(2-4) RAMS AT (4-2) PATRIOTS
The Line: Patriots - 7 1/2
I'll give you 3 guesses as to who the Patriots starting running back will be this week. Laurence Maroney? No, out for the season. Sammy Morris? No, he's doubtful. Lamont Jordan? Doubtful. Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis? Whaaaa? So now the Patriots offense is relying on Matt Cassel at QB and Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis at RB. Now throw in that the Rams have beaten the Redskins and Cowboys in back to back weeks, and that 7 1/2 point spread looks mighty tasty. That line opened at 4 1/2 but jumped 3 points after the Patriots beat the Broncos 41-7 on MNF, but, well, the Broncos have been really bad lately. This could be a third straight giant slayed for the Rams.
The Rams came up short this time, but this team is still making me horny. The defense is playing aggressively and making plays, and the offense has turned loose Donnie Avery, who was the first wideout taken in this years draft, and he is the goods. He's been heating up since Week 4, and sublimated this week with 6 catches for 163 yards and a TD. Avery said after the game, “The numbers don’t count if you can’t get the win", but oh, they count. You just earned yourself a big fat contract from my fantasy team. A tip o' the cap to the Patriots as well, they're 5-2 with a decimated offense, and Bill Belichick is proving that yes, he really is a very good coach even without Tom Brady or illegal peeping tommery.
Final- Patriots 23, Rams 16
Fantasy Heroes: Donnie Avery WR STL 24 pts; Kevin Faulk RB NE 16 pts; Randy Moss WR NE 12 pts
(3-4) CHARGERS vs (3-4) SAINTS; LONDON
The Line: Chargers -3
I don't know whether it's bad luck or ignorance that the NFL scheduled this London game on the same day that Liverpool is playing Chelsea, but whatever. It's going to take away from any attention this game might receive over there. Both of these teams really, really need this game, although the Saints probably need it more since the Chargers play in a pretty forgiving division that's just waiting for them to win it. The Saints are going to have to totally re-design their offense for this one, as they won't have Reggie Bush, who seems to touch the ball 50 times a game when he's healthy. That's going to be a problem.
Longtime friend of the site Oli Porter was at this game, and he'll be posting about it, so I won't steal his thunder. I will make a note though, that the Chargers have fired D Coordinator Ted Cottrell and promoted linebacker coach and former Bears coordinator Ron Rivera to fill his spot.
Final: Saints 37, Chargers 32
Fantasy Heroes: Drew Brees QB NO 33 pts; Philip Rivers QB SD 33 pts; LaDanian Tomlinson RB SD 24 pts; Deuce McAllister RB NO 14 pts; Antonio Gates TE SD 15 pts; Vincent Jackson WR SD 12 pts; Lance Moore WR NO 15 pts
(1-5) CHIEFS AT (3-3) JETS
The Line: Jets -14
It's been an interesting week for both teams. The Chiefs had Larry Johnson getting suspended for spitting water on a woman, the Jets had Brett Favre having to answer for being a woman and trying to jealously sabotage his old team.
My increasingly delusional mind tells me that Brett Favre has caught wind of my disapproval of the exuberance he shows on every touchdown, as lately it seems like whenever the Jets score he starts to jump up and down and run around like they just beat the Johnny Unitas Colts, and then he catches himself, claps his hands, and runs off the field. This was interesting game, Favre threw 3 picks, 2 of which were really ugly, and 1 of which was returned for a TD, and was getting booed by the home fans.
The zombie Chiefs burst out of their tomb and were hungry for brains, as Tyler Thigpen looked for all the world like a competent NFL QB with athleticism and accuracy. The Jets survive though, thanks to a couple big plays by speedy RB Leon Washington, who had 274 all purpose yards, those purposes being rushing, receiving, and kick returning, and a nicely executed throw and catch by Favre and Lavaeraneus Coles with 1 minute left.
Final- Jets 28, Chiefs 24
Fantasy Heroes: KC DST 13 pts; Tyler Thigpen QB KC 25 pts; Brett Favre QB NYJ 20 pts; Leon Washington RB NYJ 21 pts; Thomas Jones RB NYJ 11 pts; Dwayne Bowe WR KC 12 pts; Tony Gonzalez TE KC 13 pts; Jerricho Cotchery WR NYJ 12 pts; Lav Coles WR NYJ 12 pts
"Hey Herm, Got a Couple Hours? I'd Like To Talk To You About How to Beat the Packers."
(4-2) FALCONS AT (3-3) EAGLES
The Line: Eagles -9
Both of these teams are coming off a bye week, and both of them had important wins heading into those bye weeks. The Eagles are getting a lot of guys back healthy for this one, most importantly Brian Westbrook, but also WR Kevin Curtis who should be taking the field for the first time this year. An interesting stat, Andy Reid's teams are 9-0 following a bye week. So, if the Eagles can successfully lobby the league to make the season 6 months long and play every other week, they should go undefeated every year.
I'm going to say something that may shock you. Roddy White is the best wide receiver in the NFL today, and I'll tell you why. Last year he had a 1200 yard season with Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman throwing the ball at him. I don't know how that is even possible. This year, he's third in the league in receiving yards despite having a rookie QB and being the only viable receiving threat on the team. There is nobody better at that position. He's the best. The Eagles win this one entirely because they had Westbrook healthy, which will not last long. On one of his TD runs in this game he looked like he blew out both of his hamstrings despite not being touched by anyone. I think he's OK though.
Final- Eagles 27, Falcons 14
Fantasy Heroes: Brian Westbrook RB PHI 34 pts; Matt Ryan QB ATL 21 pts; Roddy White WR ATL 25 pts
(0-7) BENGALS AT (2-4) TEXANS
The Line: Texans -9
This is the 4th home game in a row for the Texans. What kind of scheduling is that? It doesn't get much easier than back to back to back home games against the Dolphins, Lions, and Bengals, and the Texans can complete the sweep of that gauntlet with a win today.
At the rate the Bengals are going, by the end of the season they are going to be losing games by 100 points. They look worse and worse every week. Just like me. The Texans are 3-4 now, and in a weak AFC that puts them in the hunt for a wildcard spot. Of course, when you go hunting, you never know if you are going to bag a mighty buck, or get shot in the face by Dick Cheney. I'm thinking for the Texans it's going to be something closer to the latter.
Final- Texans 35, Bengals 6
Fantasy Heroes: Steve Slaton RB HOU 12 pts; Matt Schaub QB HOU 29 pts; Andre Johnson WR HOU 16 pts; Kevin Walter WR HOU 19 pts
(2-4) BROWNS AT (3-3) JAGUARS
The Line: Jaguars -7
"Jaguar" is probably actually a Meso-American word, which means it should really be pronounced "HA-gwarrrr". Just thought I would throw that in there. Jacksonville has won 3 out of their last 4, with the only loss coming against a strong Pittsburgh team, so there's really no shame in that. They face a Browns team that has won 2 out of its last 3, and gave the Giants a tough game last week, but yet still has an aura of stink about them. They've given up 181 and 193 rushing yards in their last two games, and that's dangerous against a team that theoretically has a strong running game, although not really in practice so far this year.
The Jaguars are a nauseating team to watch right now. There is not a team in the league that plays more differently than the way they should play. This should be a Tennessee Titan-esque team that beats you with the running game and defense and it isn't. The defense has been awful, so the team has been getting behind more than they'd like, so they're throwing the ball more than they should. Fred Taylor needs to be getting the ball more than 8 times in a game. They're running the Boise State offense that their offensive coordinator invented and it's ridiculous with this roster. That, and they have a horrible group of wide receivers who aren't getting open, so most of the time they call a pass play, it end up being a check down dump off that doesn't go anywhere. If they continue to play like this for the rest of the year, the whole coaching staff needs to go, because they should be better than this, than losing at home to a Browns team that sucks at everything and is missing their best player.
Final- Browns 23, Jaguars 17
Fantasy Heroes: Jamal Lewis RB CLE 14 pts; David Garrard QB JAX 28 pts; Matt Jones WR JAX 19 pts
(5-1) GIANTS AT (5-1) STEELERS
The Line: Steelers -3
This has been a season where the pendulum has swung over to the side of teams with dominating defense, and here you've got two teams at 5-1 who fit that description. The Giants D did have one slip up two weeks ago at Cleveland though, but tightened things up big time against the Niners last week. On paper, this game should be low-scoring and hard hitting. Which of course means, we'll probably have a 41-40 game that resembles Cirque de Soleil, complete with clowns carrying jars of rainbows.
Well whaddaya know, a game actually unfolds the way that it's actually expected to. What's next, a talking banana? Interestingly enough, this game seemed to hinge on Pittsburgh's long snapper leaving the game with an injury. His replacement, Pro Bowl linebacker David Harrison, launched a punt snap 5 rows into the end zone seats to tie the game for the Giants, and then the champs scored on the ensuing possession to win it. The Steelers D kept them in this one longer than they should have been, because Roethlisberger and the Steelers' line against the Giants pass rush is a matchup that led to Ben getting pummeled all evening long and throwing 4 INTs.
Final- Giants 21, Steelers 14
Fantasy Heroes: Giants DST 17 pts; Mewelde Moore RB PIT 15 pts; Nate Washington WR PIT 12 pts
(1-5) SEAHAWKS AT (2-5) 49ERS
The Line: Niners -5 1/2
A little coaching intrigue here spices up what otherwise would be a dismal matchup. The Niners fired Mike Nolan this week, and replaced him with Mike Singletary. Seattle meanwhile, already knows this is Mike Holmgren's last year, and now speculation is frothing over that Holmgren will take over the Niners next year, which of course, Holmgren denies. So that's all very juicy stuff, but otherwise this should be a horrible, horrible game.
By now you've all seen the Mike Singletary press conference. If you haven't it's posted below. There's really not a whole lot I can add there except for my opinion that it would have been a great speech to give to the team behind closed doors, but not so much to give to the media and 1,000,000 YouTube viewers. At least, that was my opinion until I heard about what his halftime speech was like, and let's just say he literally was not wearing any pants for it. I'm not making this up. So, amazingly, the press conference was actually toned down from what he told his team. As for the Seahawks, they win by 3 touchdowns despite averaging 1.9 yards per on 28 carries, and having their fullback be their leading receiver. This game was scarier than The Ring, and that scared the shit out of me.
Final- Seahawks 34, 49ers 13
Fantasy Heroes: Seneca Wallace QB SEA 20 pts; Leonard Weaver RB SEA 26 pts; Frank Gore RB SF 15 pts
(3-3) COLTS AT (6-0) TITANS
The Line: Titans -4
Tennessee hasn't lost yet, but of their 6 wins only one has been against a team with a winning record, and that team was the Ravens. I don't know how they have a winning record. The Colts hope to have a winning record after this one is over, and if they don't than they can kiss their distinction of being the only champion the AFC South has ever known goodbye. Indy's been getting gashed against the run all year long, and that's what the Titans do best, as the Chiefs found out when the Big Powder Blue Machine hung 332 rushing yards on them last week.
They kept touting this game as a "MUST WIN" for the Colts, and they didn't win it, so that would mean they are finished. They're not finished though, and this wasn't a must win. They're missing their best defensive player, Bob Sanders, who as much as he's hyped really does make a difference when he's out there, and their offense is going to run so much better when Joseph Addai is back and healthy. Yes, the Titans pretty much clinched the AFC South here. But, if the playoffs started today, the Ravens would be the last team in the AFC playoffs at 4-3, the Colts are 3-4, so they're 1 game back with 9 to play. I think that gap is closeable no?
Finally, this was my first long look at Kerry Collins in hi-def for a while. He must have partied REALLY hard back in the pre-rehab days, because, my God, does he look old. If he grew his hair out and got a peace sign tattooed on his hand he'd look just like Steven Adler does on Celebrity Rehab.
Final- Titans 31, Colts 21
Fantasy Heroes: Chris Johnson RB TEN 14 pts; LenDale White RB TEN 13 pts; Dallas Clark TE IND 21 pts; Peyton Manning QB IND 24 pts