Thursday, December 31, 2009

NFL 2009: Week 17 Picks

How fitting that my last post of the decade is the one with my picks for the final week of this 2009 NFL season? Also introducing picks with spreads here:

Note: Picks subject to change this week based on changing lines and information about resting starters info from teams as we get closer to game-time.

Colts (+9) at Bills
The Colts are going to start their regulars just to keep their starting streak records in tact and reign them in as soon as they can. Also, they would rather lose this game than be in a situation where they go 1-15 and have a Championship run and have that infamous Jets game as their only loss tarnishing their otherwise perfect season.
Without Spread: Bills
With Spread: Bills (-9)

Jaguars (+1.5) at Browns
The Jaguars will want this game bad to have a strong finish to save their coach's job. The Browns will also want to win this to potentially save Mangini's job.
Without Spread: Jaguars
With Spread: Jaguars (1.5)

Eagles (+3) at Cowboys
This shapes up to be one of those hard fought NFC East rivalry games, only, the stakes are way higher. They may be playing not only for the NFC East Division title, but possibly for the No.2 seed and a first round bye.
Without Spread: Cowboys
With Spread: Eagles (+3)

Bears (-3) at Lions
The Bears will come with a lot of energy into this game following their OT win over Vikings on Monday. If Cutler can avoid throwing to the opponent Jerseys, the Bears can take advantage of the weak Lions' secondary and break this open. With Culpeper the starter for the Lions, the Bears should not have too much of a problem in stopping the Lions offense.
Without Spread: Bears
With Spread: Bears (-3)

Patriots (+8) at Texans
This is an obvious trap game. The Patriots have the No.3 seed at stake here. If they lose and the Bengals win, they will be stuck with the No.4 seed. the Texans may have a potent passing offense, good enough to exploit the Patriots secondary,. But Belichik will play through and hard with his starters, trying to enter the playoffs with a winning streak.
Without Spread: Patriots
With Spread: Patriots (+8)

Steelers (-3) at Dolphins
The Steelers and the Dolphins need to win this game to have any chance of making the playoffs. Plus they will need some extra help, with the Steelers needing lesser help than the fins. Palamalu might start this game for the Steelers, right away making their secondary a strength than the liability it has been the last few weeks.
Without Spread: Steelers
With Spread: Steelers (-3)

Giants (+9) at Vikings
The Giants have been eliminated from playoff contention. But they will want to get some redemption after last weeks no-show. They will play hard, while the Vikes will try passing the heck out of the ball to figure out their offensive identity.
Without Spread: Vikings
With Spread: Giants (+9)

Bengals (+10) at Jets
The NFL scheduled this game to be televised nationally (Sunday Night Football), expecting this to be a hardly fought game for the Jets to fight for their playoff chances (They win, they are in). But, if the Patriots win their game earlier in the game, the Bengals will have nothing to play for, and this game will be nothing more than a sequel to the Jets - Colts game from week 16 - a total charade.
Without Spread: Jets
With Spread: Bengals (+10)

49ers (-7) at Rams
The 49ers will be playing hard to build some momentum they can carry over to next season. the Rams will be in a mood to throw away this game to clinch the No.1 pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
Without Spread: 49ers
With Spread: 49ers (-7)

Falcons (-2.5) at Bucs
The Falcons have never had consecutive winning seasons ever in the history of their existence. They will face a tough TB team that has won 2 in a row and a coach, Raheem Morris, coaching for his job.
Without Spread: Falcons
With Spread: Bucs (+2.5)

Packers (+3) at Cardinals
This might be a game where both teams may end up not playing their starters beyond the 2nd quarter. First, both teams are not going to gain much with a win here (unless the Cardinals are up for the 2nd seed with Vikes loss and Eagles loss). And if these 2 are going to have a rematch in the playoffs the very next week, they both will not want to show their hands and keep the game plan very vanilla.
Without Spread: Packers (toss up)
With Spread: Packers (+3)

Chiefs (+13) at Broncos
The Broncos are also one of those teams that apart from winning, need some other help too, to make the playoffs. They sure will win, but the Chiefs will play hard and keep it closer than the spread indicates.
Without Spread: Broncos
With Spread: Chiefs (+13)

Ravens (-11) at Raiders
The Ravens, win, they make the cut. And they should be able to make it, given that they play the Raiders. But the guys in Silver and Black have wins over the Steelers and Bengals (other AFC opponents). So expect this to be close.
Without Spread: Ravens
With Spread: Raiders (+11)

Redskins (+4) at Chargers
The Redskins had two bad losses the past two weeks against the Cowboys and Eagles. Don't expect them to inflict much damage even if its going to be against the Chargers second tier team.
Without Spread: Chargers
With Spread: Chargers (+4)

Titans (-4) at Seahawks
People might think both these teams do not have much to play for. While, that might be true for the Seahawks, the Titans will try to let Chris Johnson run amok to try break all possible single season yardage records.
Without Spread: Titans
With Spread: Titans (-4)

Panthers (NL) at Saints
The Saints will play hard in the first couple quarters and try to open up a lead. Even if they don't, they will rest enough starters in the second half.
Without Spread: Saints

Record (without spread)
Last Week: 9-7
Year to date: 166-73

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The National Debt Road Trip

Courtesy of the Daily Bail.

This is a visual / graphical depiction of the way the National Debt has been growing over the years under different Presidents and administrations. Very intriguing!!

Playoff Bound......

It's official!!

The Packers are in the playoffs!

Based on the outcome of their game week 17 (and a couple other games if they lose), it will be decided if they will hold the No.5 or No.6 seed in the NFC. The Packers were able to clinch their playoff spot, after they annihilated the Seahawks at home and thanks to the Panthers for destroying the Giants. In retrospect, if the Packers had managed to hold on to a win against the Steelers (where Big Ben made a clutch last second throw for a TD), added to the Viking's loss to the Bears on MNF, the Packers could have been in contention for the Division and the #2 seed in week 17. The caveat being, they would have needed a lot of help from other teams, including another Vikings loss. Anyways, all of those scenarios are moot at the moment.

In all likelihood, the Packers will end up playing the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs. Which would also be a re-match of their week 16 match up. There are a few other possibilities for the Packers too. Here are all the possible scenarios:

1. Vikings bt. Giants, Eagles bt. Cowboys and GB win (or loss): GB plays at ARI in the first round (most likely outcome)
2. Vikings bt. Giants, Cowboys bt. Eagles and GB win (or loss): GB plays at ARI in the first round
3. Giants bt. Vikings, Cowboys bt. Eagles and GB win: GB plays at ARI in the first round
4. Giants bt. Vikings, Cowboys bt. Eagles and GB loss: GB plays at DAL in the first round
5. Giants bt. Vikings, Eagles bt. Cowboys and GB win: GB plays at ARI in the first round
6. Giants bt. Vikings, Eagles bt. Cowboys and GB loss: GB plays at MIN in the first round (most intriguing)


Now that the Packers have their playoff spot clinched, how much do they have to play for week 17? In reality, not a whole lot!! Even though a win would guarantee the No.5 seed for the Packers, there may not be a much of a reward to try earn it. The Packers know that the Cardinals are anyways going to be their most likely opponent either way. The only difference to them between a 5 seed and 6 seed is that the 5 seed will give the Packers a chance to host the NFC Championship game if both the 5 seed and 6 seed make it that far, which rarely happens, if it all it happens.

As a part of their preparation for the playoff push, the Packers have been trying to fix and shore up various parts of their plays. Over the last few weeks, they have been able to protect Aaron Rodgers and suddenly their O line is no more their main liability as it was in the beginning of the season. Also, they are run-blocking really well at the moment, encouraging more run play calls, in the process, giving the offense a good balance. The defense has been steady for the most part of the second half of the season, but some questions popped up after the Steelers game where Big Ben threw for over 500 yards. So they needed to prove to themselves, more than anything, against Seattle that the Steelers game was an aberration. Another area needed fixing was their special team, especially the kicking game.

Play to "win"...... or wait, is it "rest"??

The Colts have been taking a lot of heat for resting their starters against the Jets last week. While it might have been a sensible decision with regard to the health of the team overall, it was a badly conceived decision by the organization in this case just because, the Colts were in pursuit of perfection. If they had lost the first game of the season and had been 13-1 instead of 14-0, even with a 13-0 run at stake, the Colts would not be facing so much of backlash.

In the case of the Packers, they would like to use the first couple quarters of their week 17 game against the Cardinals to tighten up a few loose ends. Against the Seahawks last week, the Packers, even if not by design, managed to let Mason Crosby attempt a 52 yard FG. The successful kick must have been a big confidence booster for the youngster after all his struggles through past weeks. Also, after distancing themselves late in the 3rd quarter, they managed to get their reserve players in to give them some playing time. Look for the Packers to do the same against the Cardinals. This is especially important since the Packers 2nd and 3rd tier players are all young and with very little experience if at all any. Bottom line, the Packers' aim would be to not show too much to the Cardinals (who they will probably play again the next week), and come out of the game healthy so that they can begin an effective playoff push.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NFL 2009: Week 16 Picks


That defines the ending to the Packers- Steelers game last Sunday. The Steelers, although having only an outside shot at making the playoffs, played with a lot of pride. They managed to make some big-plays on offense, building up a 10 point lead (24-14) in the 3rd quarter.

Taking nothing away from the Steelers offense, that clearly had the number of hte Packers defense for most of the game , another reason for their pulling away from the Packers were the numerous drops by Packers receivers, tight ends and running backs, which stalled drives for the Packers offense. But that changed in the second half, when they started making those catches and Rodgers ended the game with a streak of 10+ consecutive completed passes. The Packers offense in the second half was really efficient, just as McCarthy envisioned it to be. The decision by Tomlin to on-side kick when they had the lead is a testament to how the Packers were methodically moving the ball in the second half. This could be another moment in Aaron Rodgers short career that proves to him and his team that he belongs to the big stage and deserves the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Although, the Packers lost this game, it was a remarkable comeback to get into a position to make the Steelers drive about 80 yards in 2 minutes to win the game.

All that lead to the Packers build a 36-30 lead with about 2 minutes left in the half. The Steelers needed a last TD scoring drive to win the game. Also, it was 4 down territory for the Steelers. This is when the clutch decision making of Big Ben hurt the Packers along with the inexperience of the rookie Underwood, who has been getting a lot of playing time since the injury of Al Harris. A penalty on Chillar that negated an INT by Underwood did not help the Packer's cause either. While, one might question the conservative play-calling by Dom Capers in this last Pitt drive, I do not think that was a problem as the Packers were a couple of missed INTs (balls that hit the hands of Packers defenders, but which they could not hold on to) away from sealing that game. Also that last TD throw to Wallace from Ben could not have been more accurate than was executed. Would a little more pressure on Big Ben have helped? Yes, of course, but I do not think we can fault Capers for trusting his team's coverage skills. I do believe that he should trust his LB group more than he does in such critical situations.

Not to mention how much a missed FG by Mason Crosby in the first half, if converted, could have affected the outcome of this game!

Playoff scenario

A quick check on the Packers (9-5) playoff chances after last week's gut wrenching loss to the Steelers:

Week 16: Seahawks
Week 17: at Cardinals

The other teams in the playoff push will be the Giants(8-6), the Cowboys (9-5) and although hard to believe, the Eagles (10-4). Although the Eagles have a one game lead over the Cowboys and the Packers, they still have to play Dallas in Week 17. If Dallas wins that, assuming they beat Washington this week, they might have the tie-break for the NFC East division over the Eagles. So the Eagles enter the wild card fight, in that scenario.

All this makes it imperative that the Packers win both their remaining games to have control of their own destiny. Obviously, if they lose both they are most probably out of the race. Even if they win only one, they will need help with a Dallas or Giants loss. The Packers have a tie-break advantage over Dallas, but they may not enjoy that advantage over the Eagles or the Giants (a tie-breaker with them will come down to Conference record or common games and then to strength of schedule).

From my short analysis of the situation, if the Packers do not win both their games, their season will boil down to 2 games in Week 17: Eagles at Dallas and Giants at Vikings. If either of Dallas or the Giants lose here, the Packers will make it to the playoffs with 10 wins. The caveat here is that Vikings may not play hard, resting their starters for most of the game, giving the Giants a good chance of winning. And Dallas, is hot after beating the Saints, and should handily beat the Redskins this week. Plus the Eagles game is in Jan (not Dec ....darn it!!).

Here's to hoping the Packers can win both their games and control their own destiny to crash the playoff party!

Week 16 Picks:

Chargers (+3) at Titans
Hard to believe the Chargers are 3 point underdogs. Maybe because Vegas thinks the Chargers have pretty much sealed the No.2 seed in the AFC and will not play hard. I still like the Chargers to fight hard and beat the Titans.
My Pick: Chargers

Seahawks (+14) at Packers
Packers need to take care of business here, if they want to be on track for a playoff spot. Also, they would like to give Mason Cosby a few FG chances to boost his confidence which has take na big hit the last few weeks.
My Pick: Packers

Raiders (+3) at Browns
The Raiders after upsetting Denver, are going to start Charlie Frye again. The Browns have Brady Quinn on IR and will start Derek Anderson. If the Raiders can hold off the Browns from running all over them, which the Raiders D is very much capable of doing, they should be pull this one off on the road.
My Pick: Raiders

Chiefs (+13) at Bengals
The Bengals should be able to take care of this at home. But I think KC will cover the spread on this one.
My Pick: Bengals

Bills (+9) at Atlanta
Atlanta has already been eliminated from the playoff race. But they should have enough motivation in them to beat the struggling Bills, even if Turner does not play.
My Pick: Atlanta

Texans (+3) at Miami
The Texans are supposed to have a very good offense, but they struggled to score against the Rams last week, managing to squeak out an ugly win. The Fins are going to have a better defense and the Texans might be hard-pressed to score against them too. Not to mention the fast growth of Chad Henne for the Dolphin
My Pick: Miami

Panthers (+7) at Giants
The Giants are riding a hot wave now. The Panthers offense will not have enough fire power to exploit the Giants secondary. They will just run DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart a ton at the Giants D line. Will be interesting to see how the Giants handle the Panthers defense that tormented Brett Favre last week.
My Pick: Giants

Bucs (+14) at Saints
The Saints are no longer undefeated. But they should be able to handle TB this week.
My Pick: Saints

Jaguars (+8) at Patriots
Home game for the Patriots! Expect them to all but eliminate the Jags from the playoffs.
My Pick: Patriots

Ravens (+3) at Steelers
The Steelers still have a lot of pride left in them, as they showed against the Packers. But can they keep that same level of emotion this week against the Ravens? Expect Micheal Oher to protect the "blind side" of Flacco, while the second-year QB rips apart the Steelers secondary (could not resist not using the Hollywood reference here).
My Pick: Ravens (will definitely cover the 3 points)

Broncos (+7) at Eagles
The Broncos will be playing for their playoff lives this week. Too bad for them the Eagles are red-hot at the moment. Add to that Brian Westbrook is expected to return this week.
My Pick: Eagles

Rams (+14) at Cardinals
The Cardinals are not going to rest their starters this week. But I would expect the Rams to cover the spread.
My Pick: Cardinals

Lions (+12.5) at 49ers
Little known fact: The niners, although out of the playoffs, have never been favored by double digit margin since 2003!! The Lions showed a lot of heart against the Cardinals last week. But with Drew Stanton starting for them, I do not expect them to show up.
My Pick: 49ers

Jets (+5.5) at Colts
The Colts may not play their starters the whole game. Not because they want to rest them, but because the game might be out of Jet's reach real soon.
My Pick: Colts

Cowboys (-6.5) at Redskins
The Redskins may not be able to get over last week's humiliating showing against the Giants. While the Cowboys are soaring after upsetting the Saints last week.
My Pick: Cowboys

Vikings (-7) at Bears
There has been a lot of coverage (in fact, too much coverage) about the rift between Childress and Favre. As much as people want to make a big deal out of it, they are going to kiss and make up and things will be normal between them before you even realize. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see if Favre can get back to playing like he did earlier in the season, or will the rest of this year be like the last few weeks for the vikings. This week though, they have the 12th man to help them: Jay Cutler, who is still getting used to spotting the color of his team's Jersey since he was traded to Chicago.
My Pick: Vikings

Last Week: 9-6
Year to date: 157-66

Thursday, December 17, 2009

NFL 2009: Week 15 Picks

Scrappy Packers

The game against the Bears last Sunday was arguably their biggest trap game thus far. They were entering the game with a 4 game win streak. They had to play at Soldier Field, always been a tough place to get a win for the Packers the last few years. Add to it that the cold weather with sub zero wind chills makes it harder for the precision passing attack of the Packers, making them more dependent on their inconsistent running game. Their D line was decimated with injuries entering the game. Although Jolly, Raji and Jenkins played, they were all playing with injuries and Ryan Pickett was not even active for the game. It had all the makings of a perfect storm and a big time let down. But, the Packers were blessed to play a Bears team that simply refused to win, while the Packers simply refused to lose.

On a day when Aaron Rodgers passes for less than 200 yards, you hope that your defense holds off the scoring from the other side. The Packers defense did just that and some more. They shut down Matt Forte. While one might think that the Bears running game is not that formidable a task, in reality, it was Sunday with the banged up D line of the Packers. To counter that, Dom Capers designed and called a few new wrinkles on defense. He introduced "the psycho" which features just one D lineman and 5 linebackers in a nickel formation. Also, the secondary held their own against Jay Cutler and if they held on to a couple more balls, would have ended up with more than the 2 picks they had for the day.

The Packer offense was on the back of Ryan Grant, who had a 150+ yard day. His first touch on the first Packer snap of the day, he broke out a 62 yard TD run. That play was an indication of how much this O line group of the Packers have improved over the last month or so. They also kept Rodgers off the ground for the most part. The special teams too did not blow on any of the kick / punt coverage, which is a good sign. But, again, Mason Crosby missed one from 42 yards. The coaching staff, after the game, still expressed their confidence that Mason will snap out of this slump of missed kicks he has been having. But what else do we expect them to say? It is too late in the season to try replace your spot kicker.

With this win, the Packers have the inside track for a spot in the playoffs. Probably one win in their next 3 games should be enough the seal the deal, considering the tough schedule for the Cowboys and the Giants. But in the next 3 weeks, the Packers do have other issues to take care of in preparation for the postseason. They need to get both their offensive and defensive lines healthy. They cannot afford to rest players especially on offense, as that would mess with their chemistry to play together. They could possibly, reduce the snaps for the banged up players the next 2 weeks. Another pressing thing for the Packers is their special teams play. Although they did not have a tough time against the Bears, they should continue that effort through the remainder of the season and take it to the playoffs. They cannot afford any setbacks due to special teams going against playoff-level teams. It may so end up for the Packers that after their Week 17 game against the Cardinals, they might have to go back to Arizona for their first playoffs game the very next week. Rarely does it happen in the NFL, that a team plays back-to-back away games against the same opponent. The Packers might have to do it. If the Cardinals do have something to play for in Week 17, it will be a good test for the Packers to get an idea about where they stand against a playoff team.

Week 15 Picks

Colts (-3) at Jaguars
The Colts are probably going to play full strength and not ease up on their push like in years past. Still they have to contain MJD and the Jaguars running game to pull this one off. Also, if they jump off to quick lead and take off their starters, it wouldn't surprise me if the Jags make a comeback against the Colts 2nd or 3rd tier teams.
My Pick: Colts

UPDATE: 12/18/2009 12:20 PM

Cowboys (+7) at Saints
The "December funk" is getting to the heads of the Cowboys. Reality is how many teams can get through a schedule of facing the Eagles, Chargers and then the Saints without a funk.
My Pick: Saints

Packers (+2) at Steelers
The Packers can clinch a playoff spot with a win here and a little help - a Cowboys loss to the Saints (likely) or a Giants loss or tie to the Redskins (not likely but definitely possible). But the Packers have a tough task at hand try to get a win at Heinz Field against an angry bunch of Steelers. The Steelers might come at their opponents hard, but it still doesn't help fixing their decimated secondary. The cold weather will help in curtailing the passing game of the Packers, but 30 degrees in Pitt is like Spring in Wisconsin. Another aspect of this game that will be intriguing is the similarity in the defenses of the Packers and the Steelers. Capers was the one who instilled the now vaunted 3-4 defense in Pittsburgh in 1992-94. Its also a home-coming feel for McCarthy and some of the other coaching staff of the Packers. Although the Steelers cannot be discounted on their home turf, I still think the Packers will extend their win record over 3-4 defenses this year to 5-0.
My Pick: Packers

Dolphins (+3) at Titans
The Dolphins of late have been moving away from their Wild-Cat offense. Partly because they lost Ronnie Brown for the season and also because they like what they see in Chad Henne as a pocket passer. With Vince Young hobbled by his injury, I think the Dolphins will be able to contain Chris Johnson (by contain I mean less than 150 yards, cos that is how good he is), and pull this road win off, to stay in the race for an AFC wild card spot.
My Pick: Dolphins

Patriots (-7) at Bills
With all the fuss about Randy Moss' "giving up" on plays last week, little focus has been on the Moss Vs TO story this week. Who would have thought this story-line will be so irrelevant at the begining of this season? The bigger story definitely is that the Patriots are still to win in any of their opponent's home field this year.
My Pick: Patriots

Cardinals (-12) at Lions
Angry Kurt Warner against the Lions secondary? Good Luck Lions! I would include this game with any parley I make this week.
My Pick: Cardinals

49ers (+8.5) at Eagles
The Eagles are facing a rather confident 49ers team than what the 49ers record would indicate. But can the 49ers duplicate their effort against the Cardinals on the road?
My Pick: Eagles

Falcons (+5) at Jets
The Jets are now the No.1 defense in the country. Revis will blanket White all day long. And the Falcons won't have it easy whoever plays at QB. The Jets too will not care who starts as their QB, their offense will be on the shoulders of Thomas Jones.
My Pick: Jets

Bears (+11) at Ravens
Snow Storm in Baltimore this weekend. That's the last thing Cutler needs right now, especially with Ed Reed playing Sunday.
My Pick: Ravens

Browns (+2) at Chiefs
The Browns go into this game with lots of momentum after pulling an upset over the Steelers last week and will come out of KC with a win.
My Pick: Browns

Texans (-10.5) at Rams
The Texans should take care of business and pad up their wins, as they usually do after being all but eliminated from the playoffs.
My Pick: Texans

Bengals (+6.5) at Chargers
The Chargers are clear favorites here. But with the sad death of Chris Henry this week, emotions will run high and Bengals might try to dig in deep and pull this one out for their team mate. They already did that once upsetting the Ravens in their first meeting this season after the sudden death of Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer's wife.
My Pick: Chargers

Raiders (+14) at Broncos
Clearly, this is the lowest point in Jamarcus Russel's young career. He was benched to let the 2nd tier team play and now with the injury to Gradkowski, they skip him and let 3rd string Charlie Frye start for the Raiders. Talk about showing confidence on your No.1 pick!
My Pick: Broncos

Bucs (+6.5) at Seahawks
The Seahawks have been inconsistent this season. But if you watched closely, they have a pattern, lose to good teams in a blowout..... or thrash bad teams at home. This game falls on the latter category
My Pick: Seahawks

Vikings (-9) at Panthers
Percy Harvin may not play again. Delhomee ain't playing either. Plus the Vikings are on the road away from their cozy dome and astro turf. So this might end up being a game with heavy doses of runs from both teams.
My Pick: Vikings

Giants (-3) at Redskins
Every game now is a must-win for the Giants. Although this week they only face the Redskins, it is still going to be a tough one for them as all NFC East match-ups are.
My Pick: Giants

Last Week: 13-3
This week: 1-0
Year to date: 149-60

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NFL 2009: Week 14 Picks

MNF Review

Are the Packers (8-4) playoff bound for real? If their Monday Night game against the Ravens was any indication, it does seem likely. However, the ugliness of the win is a reminder that the way they played Monday does not bode well for a deep run into the post-season. At this point of the playoff race, the Packers will gladly take a win though, in whatever form it may come. The Packers did jump to an early 17-0 lead by halftime. But, then the problem of letting opponents back into the game came to bite them again. It cost them the game against the Bucs. The 49ers almost did it too. And the Ravens pulled in within 3 points (17-14). Only this time, it was the Packers offense that turned over the football to aid the Ravens in gaining momentum. The multitudes of Pass Interference calls also didn't help the Packer cause, but they were on both sided and so I think they kind of evened themselves out.

Overall it was a solid performance by the Pack. The most impressive facet of the Packers' game was their Offensive Line ..... it ain't so offensive any more. The run game wasn't so effective, but I would like to think it had something to do with Ngata and the Ravens D line. The pass protection could not have been better, allowing just one sack of Rodgers. Chad Clifton still isn't his self yet, and was responsible for the protection break-down of that one sack and a couple of holding calls. If he cleans that up, the O line for the Packs looks good and dare I say, playoff ready. Rodgers was his efficient self, making plays not only with his arm but also his feet. The more I watch him play, the more I am convinced that the Packers made the right choice in letting No.4 go. Another bright spot for the Packers offense was their second-year TE Jermicheal Finley or as "Mr Monday Night" as some call him, because his 2 best games have been in front of the MNF cameras. If he can be more consistent, he could turn into a potent weapon for Rodgers. Driver and other WRs had some drops, but I am not worried about them, they should shake this off and be ready for the rest of the games.

The defense had a real good game. They regained the position of No.1 defense in the league (in terms of Yards allowed) from the Jets, who had temporarily taken it after their Thursday Night performance against the Bills. Capers called a controlled defensive game, with not a whole lot of blitzes. The D linemen were able to control the line of scrimmage for most parts of the game. Charles Woodson was his spectacular self making tackles all over the place. But to me, the most impressive aspect about this Packers defense is that they are doing with 3 rookie starters - Clay Mathews III, BJ Raji and Brad Jones (and a rookie CB - Underwood who comes on to the field more often after Al Harris was injured). Mathew's performance stood out the most not only on the field, but also on the stat lines. He had 2 sacks and a forced fumble along with a couple of tackles for losses and a bunch of QB rushes / hurries. His performance on MNF even eared him the NFC Defensive Player of the week Award (the big boys' award and not the rookie award). After a slow start to the season, BJ Raji got healthier and is getting better every week. He may not have flashy stat card at the end of the day, but he gets so much pressure off the line that he commands double teams on him, which opens up chances for guys like Mathews to do the damage. Brad Jones, a sixth round pick out of Colorado had to start in place of Aaron Kampman after he was out for the season. Jones, may not have the pass rushing ability of Kampman, but he still is more than serviceable as a pass rusher with his speed and size. His biggest edge is in his athleticism, which allows him to be an upgrade over Kampman in terms of pass coverage. He is more than capable of covering a TE or a RB.

The Packers secondary though had a bunch of penalties called on them, totaling 130+ yards. Tramon Williams had more than 100 of those yards. Obviously the calls went to both sides and by no means were the referees unfair to either team. But I thought the refs were calling even close calls, which they could let go of. After all football is a physical game. Tramon Williams did have his moment of redemption when he picked off Flacco in the end zone a couple of plays after he was called for pass interference and the Ravens' ball was spotted at the Packer 1 yard line. I do like the way Tramon competes, being physical with receivers, but he should avoid showing the arm bar (holding/impeding the receivers hands when in coverage). He should learn to be a little more savvy and be physical without being perceived to be committing a penalty. Maybe Woodson can give him a tip or two on that. If Tramon does not fix that, not only will he picked by opponents more often, but refs will start specifically looking for it when he is in close coverage.

The one thing the Packers need to fix real bad and fast is special teams. Mason Crosby missed a 38 yarder. And the punt coverage allowed a potential momentum shifting 68 yard punt return after a Packer TD in the 2nd half. This is one aspect that could come to hurt the Packers in a close game in the near future.

In terms of playoffs hopes, the Packers did themselves some real good with this current 4 game win streak. Their next 4 opponents are: at the Bears, at Steelers, Seahawks and at the Cardinals. Of these they should take care of business against he Seahawks at home and the Cardinals will probably not be playing for much Week 17, resting most off their main players and could be an easy W. The Bears game is a very winnable one, but the Packers haven't done their best against the Bears at Soldier field of late. The Steelers aren't so hot either, but they will be playing for their lives in 2 weeks and being at their home, it's going to be a long shot to get that win. Two wins off these four games will make it very likely for the Packs to clinch a playoff spot. It also helps that the other playoff hopefuls, the Cowboys (8-4), Eagles(8-4) and the Giants (7-5) all play each other and should help the Packers' cause. Ideally, Packer fans will want the Eagles to win out their division, leaving the Cowboys and Giants to compete with the Packs for 2 spots. The Packers have a head-to-head tie break advantage over the Cowboys and a better conference record against the Giants, to salvage one of the wild card spots.

Another potential road block for the Packers is that 3 of the next 4 games (at Bears, at Steelers and Seattle at GB) are going to be cold weather games. How will this young team fare in such conditions is to be seen.

But there is still a quarter of the season left to play before we can talk about playoffs..... ask Jim Mora:

Week 14 Picks:

Steelers (-10) at Browns
Steelers coach Tomlin told after the Ravens loss that he would unleash hell. Turned out they were in the receiving end of that gut-wrenching loss to the Raiders last week. They cannot let that happen to them against the Browns. Doesn't help that the Browns are playing better the last couple of weeks, with Brady Quin really showing he belongs in the pro league.
My Pick: Steelers (Browns will cover)

Broncos (+7) at Colts
The Broncos will try to hand the Colts their first loss of the year. Sadly, they may not accomplish that.
My Pick: Colts

Bengals (+7) at Vikings
The Bengals have an impressive 9-3 record mainly due to their stout defense. They need to be able to score a little more easily to challenge teams like the Vikings that can score at relative ease.
My Pick: Vikings

Jets (-3) at Bucs
Mark Sanchez is not playing this week, meaning Kellen Clemens will be in charge. But the Jet's game plan should be to run more than pass, so he should be alright in the game-manager roll.
My Pick: Jets

Bills (-1) at Chiefs
This is probably going to be the most boring game of the week.
My Pick: Bills

Packers (-3) at Bears
Packers of late struggle at Soldier Field. The line of just (-3) says it all about how close the game will be. I still think the Rodgers and the Packers will take advantage of the injuries on hte Bears secondary to salvage a win.
My Pick: Packers

Saints (-10) at Falcons
Saints will hope last week's redskins game was the only let down they will have in their quest for perfection.
My Pick: Saints

Lions (+13) at Ravens
Stafford is not going to play. Does anybody see Culpeper leading the Lions past the Ravens?
My Pick: Ravens (Lions will cover)

Dolphins (+3) at Jaguars
the Dolphins manage to beat the Patriots at home. But without Ronnie Brown, their wild cat is not very effective. Moreover, the Jaguars will think this game is a must-win for their playoff hopes to be alive as they then play the Colts and the Patriots in following weeks. Plus MJD is due a big game.
My Pick: Jaguars

Panthers (+13.5) at Patriots
Panthers are going to stick with Moore at QB. This helps them as they are forced to run a lot, which is what they should be doing in the first place. Unfortunately for them, they are going against a pissed off Bill Belichik's team, who have lost 2 in a row for the first time since 2006 and have not lost 3 in a row since 2002.
My Pick: Patriots

Seahawks (+6) at Texans
the Seahawks are competetive at home. Not so much on the road.
My Pick: Texans

Rams (+13) at Titans
The Titans' loss to the Colts pretty much shut out all their playoff hopes. But they will still play for pride.
My Pick: Titans

Redskins (-1) at Raiders
The Redskins will be kicking themselves for letting the Saints off the hook last week. They will be all the more focused against the Raiders. I do not think Bruce Gradowski has any more magic left in him.
My Pick: Redskins

Chargers (+3) at Cowboys
The Chargers never lose in December. Ask Philip Rivers who is career 12-0 in December games. And they play the December!
My Pick: Chargers

Eagles (+1) at Giants
This NFC East showdown could go either way. The Giants proved that they are still more than breathing in the playoffs race with their win over Dallas last week. The Eagles will want to win this to consolidate their playoffs chances. It could go either way.
My Pick: Eagles

Cardinals (-3.5) at 49ers
The Cardinals will want to avenge their Week 1 loss to the niners at home. And with their offense clicking like it is, all odds are on that happening.
My Pick: Cardinals

Last Week: 10-6
Year to date: 135-57

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday Shopping!!

Started your Holiday Shopping??

You will find good deals here:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NFL 2009: Week 13 Picks

Being hard-pressed for time this week, going straight to this week's Picks:

Jets (-3) at Bills
The kid from Harvard, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a great game and seems to be feeding TO his due to shut him up. But this week TO goes against Derrell Revis. If the Bills cannot stop the Jets run and as long as Sanchez of the Jets plays relatively mistake-free, Jets should take care of business.
My Pick: Jets

Rams (+9.5) at Bears
The Rams do not have Mark Bulger this week. With Boller at QB, Stephen Jackson has to carry this team on his shoulders. Not going to happen against the Bears run defense. And Cutler is due one INT-free game.
My Pick: Bears

Lions (+13) at Bengals
The Bengals have swept their division 6-0 and are going to the playoffs as long as they take care of business like this week against the Lions. No more Raiders-like slip ups for them.
My Pick: Bengals

Titans (+6.5) at Colts
The Colts might be 11-0, but there is no team coming into Week 13 hotter than the Vince Young led Titans. Both of them are on an incredible streak: The Colts are potentially looking at a possible undefeated season, while the Titans have not lost a game since starting the season 0-6. Something's got to give and I think the Titans will finally hold the Colts from coming back from that 4th quarter deficit. (The Colts have had a 4th Quarter deficit in their last 5 games)
My Pick: Titans

Broncos (-4.5) at Chiefs
The Broncos managed to get off their losing skid on Thanksgiving day and now face the Chiefs to get them on a win streak, even if its only 2 games.
My Pick: Broncos

Patriots (-5) at Dolphins
The Patriots were handed a beat down by the Saints and we know how they are going to respond. And its against their division rivals, if they needed more motivation.
My Pick: Patriots

Saints (-9.5) at Redskins
If at all there was any question about the 11-0 record of the Saints being legit, their whacking of the Pats just proved it. They have to be careful not to have a let down game this next couple of weeks, which happens a lot after such an emphatic win.
My Pick: Saints

Bucs (+6.5) at Panthers
The Panthers just don't learn from their mistakes. They are built to run and they still end up letting Jake Delhomme throw a whole bunch every game and he responds throwing a bunch of picks everytime. The Bucs have good corners and the Panthers need to run more than they throw to win this.
My Pick: Panthers

Texans (+1) at Jaguars
Can the Texans recover from that devastating meltdown to the Colts last week?
My Pick: Jaguars

Chargers (-13) at Browns
The Bolts are having a win streak of their own going on and the Browns are not going to do much to affect that.
My Pick: Chargers

Cowboys (-1) at Giants
The Cowboys may have lost only one game in their last six, but nothing about them seems to instill confidence in them. And its December, time for their yearly slide? I think not this year.
My Pick: Cowboys

49ers (+1) at Seahawks
The 49ers need a win here to stay alive for a chance to make the playoffs. Keeping Alex Smith in more spread formations will help.
My Pick: 49ers

Eagles (-5.5) at Atlanta
The Eagles may not have Westbrook and DeShawn Jackson this week. Falcons may not play Micheal Turner either. In spite of the injuries, the Eagles are a tough one to pull an upset over.
My Pick: Eagles

Raiders (+14.5) at Steelers
Steelers will probably have Big Ben back. And the Steelers defense will want to bounce back after their loss to the Ravens that put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
My Pick: Steelers

Vikings (-5.5) at Cardinals
The Cardinals will have Kurt Warner back. But that does not give them enough to pull out one from the hat against these Vikings.
My Pick: Vikings

Ravens (+3) at Packers
The Ravens have a lot of weapons on offense, but their defense, although filled with big names, seems to be aging. Playing at Lambeau I like the Packers' chances to pull off a win here. But the Packers have to do the following to make it happen: (1) Don't get beat on special teams (2) Stop Ray Rice and the Ravens other running backs, which the Packers are most capable of (3) Pick up Blitzes, as the Ravens Blitz on typically abt 50% of the time.
My Pick: Packers

Last Week: 12-4
Year to date: 125-51