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


  1. Hey! fantastic idea, but will this really work?

  2. [b] go

    shopping NFL Jerseys. What see to You


    To differentiate First?[/b]

    So you're an NFL aficionado and you taste NFL

    jerseys. [url=]nfl football jerseys[/url]

    There is a

    inclusive panorama of


    for NFL jerseys, and it takings to know how[url=]cheap nfl jerseys[/url]

    maybe you'd like to market a bulky looking jersey for a award.[url=]nfl replica jerseys[/url]
    [url=]discount nfl jerseys[/url]