As the cold winter winds begin to roll in, we enter week nine and the second half of the NFL season. Our thoughts are with the millions affected by Hurricane Sandy.
After finishing 10-4 last week, I am hoping for another solid week since my week six blowout. Of the four losses, two came down to the last few drives (Seattle & San Diego). It comes as no surprise that the Cleveland Browns upset the San Diego Chargers and the Seattle Seahawks were a few plays away from heading to OT with the Lions. Second guessing is a no no as I changed last minute to the Jets; what a dumb decision that was as the Dolphins took advantage of the Jets at home.
My highlight of the week comes from the meathead of all meatheads: Rob Gronkowski.
That is my favorite celebration of the year. Gronk, a total meat heat (did I mention that yet), is an absolute riot with his celebration at Wembley Stadium.
Anyone else think Gronk and Thad from Blue Mountain State are the same person? I bet this is how practice went at Arizona with Gronk….
AND INTO THE PICKS!
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers
Analysis: This may be the worst prime time game of the season. The Chiefs haven’t led in a single game this year and the Chargers are so inconsistent. The Cassel era ended and restarted when Brady Quinn got hurt. I expect the Chargers to get the W today with Norv Turner on the hot seat but expect an ugly game.
Key Player: Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs MUST get Charles going to stay in this game. The Chiefs must find a way to get the stud running back carries after only having five against the Raiders last week.
Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals
Analysis: Andy Dalton and the Bengals passing attack will have a tough time getting things going this week as the Broncos defense is shutting down opposing pass offenses. After shutting down Drew Brees and the Saints last week, the Broncos D looks to slow down AJ Green and company. Peyton Manning looks as good as ever and will continue to put up MVP (yes I said MVP but more like Comeback Player of the Year) numbers.
Key Matchup: AJ Green vs the Bronco Secondary. Green must rebound from a 1 catch, 8 yard (6 target) game versus the Steelers. The Bronco secondary has been stingy in recent weeks
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
Analysis: The Browns are picking up some steam with a win versus the Chargers. Also, Cleveland is a few drops away from a win against the Colts and a three game winning streak. Trent Richardson had a nice rebound game last week and looks to be recovered from a rib injury that sidelined him earlier in the season. The last time the Ravens & Browns battled, the Ravens won by seven. Although the Browns are gaining steam and won’t lay down, the Ravens will get a rebound W after a bye week and a horrendous loss to the Texans.
Players to Watch: Baltimore Ravens defense. This unit must respond if the Ravens want to be Superbowl contenders this season. The return of Terrell Suggs will provide a boost to this defense but will it be enough?
Arizona Cardinals @ Green Bay Packers
Analysis: The Cardinals…stand no chance in this game. The Cardinals are losers of four straight and this game will be a fifth. The Packers are not the dominating team we all expected them to be this year but expect a nice victory for them here.
Fantasy Dud of the Week: Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz, although one of the most talented players in football, isn’t in a good position this week. Skelton doesn’t seem to get him the ball and the matchup is a rough one. Expect a couple catches for 40 yards (I hope I am wrong though as I need him in fantasy this week!).
Fantasy Stud: Packers defense. Expect a multi-sack effort from this unit. The Packers shouldn’t allow more than 14 points, will have 4 sacks, 1 interception and a fumble recovery.
Chicago Bears @ Tennessee Titans
Analysis: The Monsters of the Midway are back. The Chicago defense gave up a few points to the Carolina Panthers but came through with a pick six in the end. While the Bears offense is slowly getting things done, the defense is good for a touchdown every week. The Titans are getting things together but will have a tough time against a stellar defense. The Bears front seven will take control of this game.
Miami Dolphins @ Indianapolis Colts
Analysis: The Colts are 3-1 at home and are coming off another late game gem vs the Titans. The Dolphins are gaining momentum on a three game winning streak but I am taking the upset here (two weeks in a row I changed my mind on the Dolphins. Will they make me pay again?).
Player to Watch: Ryan Tannehill. It remains to be seen if Tannehill will be ready to go on Sunday as he has been splitting reps with backup Matt Moore. Although I believe Moore gives the Dolphins a better chance to win this week, Tannehill will be the one to keep your eyes on.
Pick Center of the Week: Carolina Panthers + 3 @ Washington Redskins
Due to popular demand, one game a week I will pick a game versus the spread.
Analysis: I am high on the Redskins but this may be the one week the Carolina Panthers can put it all together. With close loss after close loss, the Panthers are due for a W. The Panthers played well enough (almost) to get the W versus the Bears but some late game play calling for the Panthers defense resulted in the Bears calling slant after slant until they kicked a game winning field goal. The Redskins finally took a beating at the hands of an angry Steeler team. I expect the secondary to be exposed again and Newton to have a solid game down the field.
Detroit Lions @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Analysis: The Jaguars didn’t lay an egg against the Packers as we expected and the Lions made a late game comeback against the Seahawks. Blaine Gabbert had one of his best games of his young career even with nine drops by his receivers. Expect the Lions, owners of the second ranked pass offense, to take full advantage of a weak Jaguar secondary. The emergence of Titus Young and Ryan Broyles should open things up for Megatron.
Fantasy Stud: Calvin Johnson. Megatron is poised to break out of his slump and have a solid game against the Jags.
Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans
Analysis: The Texans are coming off a bye and a shellacking of the Baltimore Ravens. The Texans, if they can stay healthy, look to be one of the favorites in a wide open AFC. The Bills, although competitive, just haven’t been able to get things together this season.
Matchup to Watch: Mario Williams vs. ALL. Williams wanted to stay in Houston and wants to show his former team that they made a mistake in letting him walk. Expect Williams to be all over the field and have a solid day chasing the quarterback.
Fantasy Stud: Mr. Arian Foster. Foster is having another solid season and will have another multi-touchdown game in this one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Oakland Raiders
Analysis: This should be a fairly close game between the two bay area teams (opposite sides of the country of course). The Buccs will make the cross country trip into the black hole on Sunday and come out on top. Carson Palmer is quietly having a nice season and is finally connecting with his main target Denarius Moore. Freeman is finally putting things together and will have another solid game against a weak secondary.
Key Player: Doug Martin. After a monster game last week, Martin needs to get things going again to open up the Buccaneer offense.
Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks
Analysis: I am high on the Seahawks bandwagon; the team is playing stellar at home. Minnesota has been inconsistent this season and the matchup doesn’t bode well for them. Again, Christian Ponder needs to limit his turnovers for the Vikings to get a W on the road.
Key Player: Chris Clemons. Clemons is having a fantastic season and should be able to generate a solid pass rush against a Viking offensive line that has given up a number of sacks in its last couple games.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants
Analysis: This game has the makings to be a very good one as both teams are starting to hit their stride. The Giants must take advantage of a Steeler defense that has been battling injuries all season. The X-Factor of this game isn’t a player but the fact that the Steelers will have to fly into New York the morning of because of a hotel room issue. Although this seems like something small, NFL players are in a routine and who wants to play a football game against a great team on the road after a couple hour flight?
Key Matchup: Victor Cruz vs the Steelers secondary. Cruz is a matchup problem for the Steelers as the team likes to deploy four linebackers a majority of the time. When Cruz lines up in the slot, I expect him to make some noise.
Fantasy Stud: Mike Wallace & Antonio Brown. Did you see the stat line of the Cowboy wide receivers last week? Granted Romo threw the ball 62 times but the Cowboy receivers (& tight ends) looked as though they were playing Madden on rookie.
Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons
Analysis: The Falcons keep rolling off victories by any means necessary. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are giving away games and finding ways to lose every week.
Key Matchup: The Cowboys corners vs The Falcons receivers. Oh do we have a thriller on our hands! The Falcon wide receivers are loaded with talent but so is the Cowboys secondary, who shut down the Giant receivers last week.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints
Analysis: This game should be a high scoring affair as both teams are having some issues with their defenses. The Saints offense was held in check last week against the Bronco secondary but I don’t expect the same result this week. The Eagles are in must win mode as both Coach Reid & Michael Vick’s jobs are on the line.
Key Player: LeSean McCoy. McCoy is going to get things going against the Saints defense; expect multiple touchdowns this week!
Phew..that took a while!
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