NFL Wild Card Weekend: How The Last Four Months Finally Made Sense

Is this the end of the road for Ray Lewis?

Is this the end of the road for Ray Lewis?

16 games. That’s the NFL Regular season, 16 games. That’s 1/5th the amount of games played in the NBA, 1/3rd the games played in the Premiere League, and 1/10th the games played in MLB. It seems almost presumptuous to assume any amount of certainty when seen through this lens of statistical minimalism, but the efficient pragmatism of professional football continues to render the schedules of other sporting leagues nearly obsolete. How superfluous does MLB seem every time a team catches fire on the last month and wins the World Series with hot pitching and a soon to be over-rated hitter (Hello Marco Scuttaro). What is there to possibly learn from the NBA when Greg Popovich sits his entire team in nationally televised games, and Lebron James cruise controls so thoroughly through home games against the Bobcats that he’s forced to pedal his bicycle home to achieve any real exercise–Though, to be fair to Lebron, it takes more effort to bike home than it takes to beat Byron Mullens to the rim. When forced through the most common test–The Human Eye Test—The NFL season simply has no competition. With only 16 games there’s no “cruise control”. With only 16 games there is no “sitting starters”.The New York Giants are talented and inconsistent, we saw it with blowouts over Green Bay, and home losses to the Cowboys. The Pittsburgh Steelers finally got too old. There is no guess work here because the NFL is too violent to leave room for such things. There is a scientific precision that exists inside of such mindless violence, a sort of brilliance from the beast. It’s the great dichotomy of the NFL: with only 16 games we know exactly what teams are when the playoffs come around. So with such knowledge in hand, the plan here is to predict the winners and spreads of Wild Card Weekend based on the facts we already know.

 

The Indianapolis Colts v The Balitmore Ravens

 

Fact: The Colts faced the league’s easiest schedule

Fact: The Colts did not have a road win v. a winning team all season.

Fact: The Colts 5 losses came by an average of 16.5 points.

Fact: The Colts DVOA says they’re not only the worst 11 win team in 20 years, they’re also the worst 10 win team in 20 years.

Fact: Andrew Luck led the league on third and long conversions

Fact: T.Y Hilton ranks as the #1 rookie Wideout and it isn’t very close.

Fact: Andrew Luck is really, really good in the 4th quarter. Top 5 QBR in the 4th Quarter.

Fact: The Ravens have the NFL’s best special teams.

Fact: The Ravens are no longer an elite defense.

Fact: The Ravens are in fact in the bottom half of the league in Yards and Points allowed.

Fact: The Ravens defense has been better since Ray Lewis’ injury.

Fact: Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis coming back isn’t nearly as valuable as Ladarius Webb still being injured.

 

Despite everything I’ve said about facts, this game and the Colts entire season is based around one thing: ChuckStrong. It’s circumstantial in most places, but the NFL is one of the few places where emotional turbulence can factor into statistical relevance. With players being so equally talented, something as emotionally hefty as your cancer beating coach returning to the sidelines can be all the difference. Believe in Chuckstrong.

 

Colts +7. Colts 31, Ravens 24.

 

 

 

The Houston Texans v. The Cincinnati Bengals

 

Fact: Arian Foster had five 100 yard games in his first 9 games.

Fact: Arian Foster had two 100 yard games in his last 7 games.

Fact: Arian Foster had 617 receiving yards in 2011

Fact: Arian Foster had 217 receiving yards in 2012

Fact: In the 4 losses for the 2012 Texans, Arian Foster averaged 46 yards per game.
Fact: Matt Schaub completed 58% of 3rd down plays against the blitz

Fact: Matt Schaub completed 34% of 3rd down plays against 4 pass rushers.

Fact: Matt Schaub makes absolutely no sense statistically.

Fact: The Texans have the worst Special Teams in the NFL.

Fact: The Houston Texans use play action more than all but six teams in the NFL.

Fact: The Bengals give up the most yards per play action in the NFL

Fact: Geno Atkins and J.J Watt are both having MVP Seasons from positions that don’t win MVP Awards.

Fact: The Cincinnati Bengals have the 2nd best wide receiver in the NFL

Fact: The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the league’s bottom 10 receiving corps.

Fact: The Houston Texans allowed the fewest yards to #1 receivers.

Fact: Johnthan Joseph is the best deep ball cornerback in the NFL.

 

Everyone is lining up behind Cincinnati this week because they’re coming in hot and the Texans are having an historically bad falling off. But if you look at the Bengals “hot streak” you’ll notice a major flaw: They’re beating the league’s worst teams. It started with a win over the New York Giants that has now lost a significant value. They proceeded to stomp the AFC West and Eagles(like everyone else), and finished it off with wins over the AFC’s New York Giants(The Steelers) and barely beat a Ravens team playing its backups. Don’t forget that this is the same team who lost to the Dolphins, Steelers, and Cowboys at home. In the matchup of “Team Beating Bad Teams” v. “Winning Team Getting Complacent” I’ll take the latter.

 

Texans -4.5. Houston 23, Bengals 10.

 

 

The Minnesota Vikings v. The Green Bay Packers

 

Fact: Adrian Peterson is having the greatest season in the history of running backs. The word greatest is naturally subjective, but the stats remove it rather quickly.

Fact: Adrian Peterson averaged 6 yards a carry. No importance just a hilarious fact.

Fact: Adrian Peterson is not a human being. He may be a robot, an X-Men, or an Alien but a human being he is not.

Fact: The Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers last week.

Fact: Charles Woodson, Randall Cobb, and to an extent Jordy Nelson did not play in that game.

Fact: The Green Bay Packers have the best wide receiving corps since the 2005 Indinapolis Colts.

Fact: The Minnesota Vikings have the league’s worst rated secondary.

Fact: The Minnesota Vikings #1 Corner, Antoine Winfield, will be wearing a cast.

Fact: The Green Bay Packers give up the most yards to #1 wide receivers

Fact: The Minnesota Vikings #1 receiver, Percy Harvin, is out for the season.

Fact: The Minnesota Vikings have one of the league’s five worst receiving units

Fact: Christian Ponder did not complete a pass longer than 15 yards from Weeks 9 through Weeks 15.

Fact: Christian Ponder is the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings

Fact: Christian Ponder is a starting quarterback for an NFL franchise in the playoffs. I’m not kidding.

Fact: No, seriously, he didn’t complete a pass over 15 yards for 6 weeks.

Fact: That stat is more impressive than Adrian Peterson’s yard per carry stat. It’s historically atrocious.

Fact: Aaron Rodgers yards per pass decreases with the number of pass rushers sent at him.

Fact: The Minnesota Vikings blitz less than 28 other NFL teams.

 

Adrian Peterson has turned a 3 win team into a 10 win team. A W.A.R of 7 is great for a baseball player; a W.A.R of 7 for an NFL player is one of the great feats in NFL history. But the sad fact here is that the Green Bay Packers are a vastly more talented team. Peterson has ran for 200 yards in both games against the Packers and both games were still dominated by the Packers. This is the NFL in 2013, a passing league at its core, and comparing Aaron Rodgers to Christian Ponder is like akin to the hotness of women at 3 A.M with alcohol in your system inside a dark room, and women at 3 A.M completely sober in the light. It’s just not very fair.

 

Packers -8. Packers 34, Vikings 17.

 

 

The Washington Redskins v. The Seattle Seahawks

 

Fact: Russel Wilson had a statistically superior season to RGIII and Andrew Luck.

Fact: Russel Wilson has no chance of winning Rookie of the Year.

Fact: The 2012 Seattle Seahawks rank as one of the most balanced teams in 20 years.

Fact: The Seattle Seahawks have a Top 5 Offense, Top 5 Defense, and Top 3 Special Teams.

Fact: Of the 5 losses the Seahawks had, 3 of them came on the road in division games.

Fact: The Seahawks lost by an average of 5 points a game.

Fact: The Seahawks never lost a game by more than one touchdown.

Fact: The Seahawks scored 50 points twice and also scored the most points on the San Fransisco Defense.

Fact: The Seattle Seahawks rank in the Top 5 of the following categories: Rushing Efficiency, Passing Efficiency, 1st 2nd and 3rd down yards per play, red zone scoring, red zone defense.

Fact: The Seahawks are the worst team in the league when facing a blitzing corner.

Fact: The Redskins blitz a corner more than any team in the NFL.

Fact: The Seahawks rank 21st in rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks.

Fact: The Redskins have Robert Griffin the Third.

Fact: Robert Griffin the Third>RGIII

Fact:The Seattle Seahawks have the league’s best cornerbacks.

Fact: The Redskins are the #1 team against the blitz.

Fact: The Seattle Seahawks rank 25th in blitz attempts.

 

As I said before, Seattle doesn’t just rank high in team efficiency, they’re historically great. As FootballOutsiders points out, only twice before has a team as good as Seattle not won its division and had to go on the road: The 2009 Ravens and the 2008 Eagles. Both teams won by double digits. I expect a similar score line here because my Seahawks to the Super Bowl campaign is heating up.

 

Seattle 27, Redskins 14

 

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General Peppers
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Week 15 NFL Power Rankings: Is Anyone Really Good Besides New England?

Can anyone stop Tom Brady?!

Can anyone stop Tom Brady?!

Who doesn’t like end of the season power rankings? Everyone wants to know who is the top dog right now and how would you rank the teams after 14 games of the season. Heres how General Peppers of The Cover 4 ranks them:

1. New England Patriots

And it isn’t even close. After a slow start, including a loss at home to the NFL Record Holding Worst Blowout Ever Arizona Cardinals, the New England Patriots have distanced themselves from the rest of the NFL. They’ve beaten the other best teams in the AFC, The Broncos and Texans, by an average of nearly 20 points. They’ve dropped 50+ twice. They lead the league in both yards and points, and this with both of their elite tight ends missing extensive time on the field. They can run the ball efficiently, beat you deep, short, over the middle, in the red zone. This offense has no weaknesses and is lead by quite possibly the greatest quarterback of all time. What makes them scary is that their defense is finally clicking on all cylinders. Their first round picks, Dante Hightower and Chandler Jones, have given the Patriots their most athletic defense in nearly a decade. Fun stat: Did you know the Patriots are 21-0 over the past 2 and a half years in the second half of the season. Belichick’s ability to improve a team is legendary.

2. New York Giants

Colin Cowherd said it best, “I Trust the Giants.” It’s the greatest compliment one can give a football team. I know they’re gonna lose ugly games to bad teams. I also know they’ll probably lose to the Falcons on the road this week. But with everything on the line, do you think the Falcons are within 10 points of the Giants? Me neither.

3. Denver Broncos

Fact: This is the best defense Peyton Manning has ever had.
Opinion: Demaryius Thomas ight be the most athletically gifted player Peyton Manning has ever had on offense.
Fact: The Denver Broncos have beaten 2 teams with a winning record.
Fact: Both those teams are 7-6 and in the AFC North.
Fact:The Broncos 3 losses all came against teams leading their divisions
Fact:The Broncos were down by 14+ points in all three games.
Opinion: I have no clue how good the Broncos really are but it’s Peyton Manning and that’s better than 95% of the league.

4. Houston Texans

Two blowout losses to two high powered offenses. The Texans have distinct problems, but a majority of them are chalked up to injuries. The one truth is this: Texans cannot get behind early. They need to be able to run the ball and achieve big plays through play action. No play action and this offense shuts down.

5. San Francisco 49ers

The AFC’s Houston Texans. With a lead this team is nigh unbeatable. But if you are able to beat or stalemate them at the line of scrimmage you can bring this offense to a stand still. Still, elite players at every defensive position and depth at all offensive skill positions.

6. Green Bay Packers

Do not be shocked when the Packers make it to the Super Bowl. This is, without a doubt, the most injured team in the NFL. These players are slowly coming back. Aaron Rodgers will not forget how quickly you buried him.

7. Seattle Seahawks

There are 4 things we know about the Seattle Seahawks:
1. Pete Carroll, despite his flaws, knows how to coach a defense. His teams tackle in space, don’t give up big plays, and are efficient at all 3 levels.
2. The Seahawks have the best secondary in the NFL. Ask New England. Ask Green Bay. They also have a top 5 special teams. This combination has a history of working well.
3. The Seahawks have the best home field advantage in all of sports. In a league where parity rules, the Seahawks, no matter how bad they may be, always win at home. If they get a home game in the playoffs they will win it. Ask the Saints.
4. Russel Wilson has gotten better every week and so has the Seattle Offense. Sidney Rice is recovering from his knee(finally) and Golden Tate has exploded in his third year(the typical break out year for WRs). Lynch looks stronger than ever.

8. Atlanta Falcons

Giants v. Falcons. In Atlanta. 2nd Round of the Playoffs. Atlanta -2. Who here isn’t taking New York on the Money Line? Exactly. This is the worst best team I’ve ever seen. They are average to below average in all facets excluding throwing the ball, and even that has slipped recently. They’re gonna win this weekend and I won’t move them an inch.

9. Baltimore Ravens

There isn’t more talent on any team in the NFL outside of New England. For the Ravens it’s about putting it together. Oh yeah, and Flacco not throwing up ducks in the playoffs. Good luck with that.

10. Indianapolis Colts

If I have to hear one more person talk about how RGIII has thrown fewer picks than Andrew Luck I’m going to start breaking things again. Andrew Luck has been given the entire playbook. No babysitting, no holding back. They didn’t craft a college offense around him and ask him to throw bubble screens and safe passes. He’s asked to throw it 50 times a game down the field to rookie receivers and tight ends. He is, without a doubt the greatest rookie I’ve ever seen. Rookie of the Year shouldn’t even be a close vote.

______________________________________________________________________________
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General Peppers
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Week 14 Predictions! ALL GAMES VERSUS SPREAD!

Can AP lead the Harvin-less Vikings to a victory against Chicago?

Can AP lead the Harvin-less Vikings to a victory against Chicago?

Yes Cover 4 fans you read that title correctly! We will be predicting all games this week against the spread. Not only will we be looking at betting lines but you will get opinions from all of the cover 4 activists!

Why the change? Well, we wanted to switch it up near the end of the season. We know our predictions and analysis are doing us justice but we want to give you, the cover 4 fans, a chance to make a little money and see the diversity behind our staff. Additionally, we have had a number of request to predict games versus the spread. I wasn’t giving in earlier in the year but we will now. Going 12-2 and 13-1 is sometimes just too easy!

All of our spreads are from the Las Vegas Hotel (LVH) and are as of Wednesday, December 5th. All favorites will have the (spread) on their team name. Also, all picks were made individually without conversation prior to choices. Each will include a small analysis by myself (James).

We encourage you to join in on the discussion at the bottom of this post!

Denver Broncos (-10) @ Oakland Raiders
James: Broncos
Jesse: Broncos
Long Island Sound: Broncos
General Peppers: Broncos
Analysis: I hate large spreads in divisional match ups but the Broncos are clicking.

St. Louis Rams @ Buffalo Bills (-3)
James: Rams
Jesse: Rams
Long Island Sound: Bills
General Peppers: Bills
Analysis: I really like the Rams defense despite being away. Better defense getting points? Sign me up.

Dallas Cowboys @ Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
James: Bengals
Jesse: Cowboys
Long Island Sound: Cowboys
General Peppers: Cowboys
Analysis: This game can go either way but the Cowboys don’t show up for non-division games; however, they need this W to stay in playoff contention.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns (-6.5)
James: Chiefs
Jesse: Chiefs
Long Island Sound: Chiefs
General Peppers: Chiefs
Analysis: The Browns are almost a touchdown favorite?! When was the last time that happened? Emotional Chiefs cover this one.

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts (-5)
James: Colts
Jesse: Colts
Long Island Sound: Colts
General Peppers: Colts
Analysis: Luck is just too much to handle right now.

Chicago Bears (-3) @ Minnesota Vikings
James: Bears
Jesse: Bears
Long Island Sound:: Bears
General Peppers: Bears
Analysis: Ponder gives the Bears points.

San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers NO LINE (-7½)
James: Steelers
Jesse: Steelers Chargers
Long Island Sound: Steelers
General Peppers: Steelers
Analysis: No line on this one with quarterback issues. We will take Pit tho!
UPDATE: With Big Ben expected to start in this match-up, Jesse has decided to take the TD & hook and jump on the [not so] Super Chargers to cover.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5)
James: Buccaneers
Jesse: Buccaneers
Long Island Sound: Eagles
General Peppers: Eagles
Analysis: Josh Freeman will take advantage of the Eagles defensive woes.

Baltimore Ravens @ Washington Redskins (-2.5)
James: Ravens
Jesse: Redskins
Long Island Sound: Ravens
General Peppers: Ravens
Analysis: I really like RGIII but I can’t see the Ravens losing two in a row.

Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) @ Carolina Panthers
James: Falcons
Jesse: Falcons
Long Island Sound: Falcons
General Peppers: Panthers
Analysis: The first matchup between these two teams was a fluke as the Panthers are inconsistent as they come.

New York Jets (-2.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
James: Jaguars
Jesse: Jaguars
Long Island Sound: Jets
General Peppers: Jets
Analysis: After watching the Jets win 7-6 last week, the Jaguars are a must bet here.

Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers (-10.5)
James: 49ers
Jesse: 49ers
Long Island Sound: 49ers
General Peppers: Dolphins
Analysis: Dolphins offense won’t be able to get anything done against the 49ers defense who just suffered a tough loss (Jim Harbaugh’s 3-1 ATS following a loss).

New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants (-5)
James: Saints
Jesse: Saints
Long Island Sound: Saints
General Peppers: Giants
Analysis: Drew Brees versus a weak secondary. Advantage Brees

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (-10)
James: Cardinals
Jesse: Cardinals
Long Island Sound: Cardinals
General Peppers: Seahawks
Analysis: We know the Seahawks are good at home but 10 points? Can’t do it. John Skelton, who beat the Seahawks earlier this season, is back at QB & stud corner Brandon Browner will be suspended.

Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (-7)
James: Lions
Jesse: Packers
Long Island Sound: Lions
General Peppers: Lions
Analysis: Something is just telling me stick to the Lions in this one. Calvin Johnson is unstoppable.

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots (-3.5)
James: Patriots
Jesse: Patriots
Long Island Sound: Patriots
General Peppers: Patriots
Analysis: New England in December is a tough place to play.

As you can see, we are on the same page on a number of picks. Seriously, we didn’t do this together!

New to our site:
For our COVER 4 play of the week, we parlay: Bears, Cardinals, Chiefs & Colts.

Lastly, the NFL Play 60 commercial with Cam Newton is one of the best I have seen in a very long time. Here it is! Check it out

Thanks for checking out TheCover4.com

______________________________________________________________________________
Thanks for checking out our picks. Dont forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.
James Kaikis
Chief Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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Week 13 NFL Predictions: Meme Edition

Calvin Johnson is on fire!

Different week with same results as The Cover 4 is on absolute fire. Don’t believe us? Let me break it down for you.

Last week we finished 11-5 with a number of very close games where we picked plenty of underdogs. Since the first week the Cover 4 made public picks (week six – 5 wins, 9 losses), the Cover 4 is 69 – 14 – 1 aka a winning percentage of 83%. In those 14 losses, the Cover 4 finished with only ONE loss on three occasions (weeks 7, 10 & 11).

If the numbers don’t speak for themselves, we can explore the number of times we have been correct in our analysis, point predictions, key players and fantasy studs! That subject will be saved for another day.

In a quick recap of week 12, Matthew Stafford and the Lions had more than their fair share of opportunities to defeat the Texans while RGIII completed our prediction and went beast mode on the Cowboys. The Pittsburgh Steelers made me chose with my heart and not my brain, something I rarely do, as they were atrocious in Cleveland. Cecil Shorts was a fantasy stud! Tampa Bay puts us at 4 -0 versus the spread after they were upended by the Falcons by just one point. Money makers realized the easy money was on the Rams as they ruined Lindleys day. Finally, the Panthers made me look so good with their underdog matchup on MNF – thank you Cam Newton.

Lets jump right into the picks!

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New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

Say what you want about this 10 -1 Falcon team. They may have won a number of games this season at the end of regulation but GREAT TEAMS WIN BAD GAMES. PERIOD. How can you not pick the Falcons in this matchup? The Saints may have had the Falcons number once earlier this season but the Falcons will be ready to rock this time around.

Keep your eyes out for: Asante Samuel. The cornerback had a tremendous games last week despite playing through an injury; his health is vital to containing the pass happy Saints attack.

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Pick Center of the Week (1 of 2): Jacksonville Jaguars +6 @ Buffalo Bills

Yikes, did I really just pick the Jaguars to cover? Jacksonville has been steady with Chad Henne behind center and the offense is actually moving the ball. I had high hopes for the playoff bound (or at least I thought) Bills but they have faltered time and time again. Expect the Bills to narrowly come out with a victory in this one.

Score Prediction: Bills 27 – Jaguars 24

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Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears

Seattle is coming off a disappointing loss in Miami and will be traveling into Chicago to take on the Bears, who host a 5 -1 home record. Last week Jay Cutler returned to the lineup and the Chicago defense regained its form against the Vikings. Expect the Seahawks to have a tough time running the ball against the Bears and, as a result, will be very one dimensional.

Fantasy Stud: The Chicago Bears defense. I believe Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will be forced to win this game with his arm, which should result in a few turnovers for the Bears defense (expect one very big play from this unit).

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Game of the Week: Indianapolis Colts @ Detroit Lions

What a heart breaker for the desperate Lions last week. Let me first point out how incredibly disappointed I was watching Brandon Pettigrew play the tight end position. Pettigrew looked terrible on the field for the Lions as he dropped a number of passes and had a costly fumble as well. The former first round pick is vital to the success of this passing game. Did anyone else trade for Calvin Johnson like I did (in two leagues)? Johnson is on pace to finish with the second highest receiving yards in a single season (forget the Madden Curse…knock on wood). This matchup will be very similiar to the Colts game against the Patriots a few weeks ago. The Colts will hang tough for the first half of this game but as the Lions continue to light up the scoreboard, the Colts will struggle to keep up.

Fantasy Stud: Calvin Johnson. How can you not roll with him?

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Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

How the tides have turned as the Vikings, who started out winners in 4 of 5, are struggling while the Packers, winners of 5 of their last 6, are starting to put it all together (excluding last week loss to the Giants- didn’t see that coming). How many more weeks will I pound Christian Ponder as a starting quarterback? What is more important is the impact of Percy Harvin on this teams success. As terrible as Ponder is (10.3 QBR & 58.2 passer rating last week), without Harvin the Vikings have no chance at victory. Adrian Peterson is putting together a magical season in his return from an injury but the Vikings can’t ride the AP train if they continue to play from behind. The Packers are coming off a bad loss against the Giants; I am the first to admit I was terribly wrong in that game as I expected way more than 10 points from the Packers. Rodgers and crew should take care of this Viking defense who allowed the Bears to be 11 for 19 on third downs.

What to Watch: Greg Jennings. The talented wide receiver has spent the majority of his contract season on the sideline rather than the endzone thus less $ at the end of this season. The Packers have a plethora of pass catching options but Jennings, when healthy, is arguably the best of the bunch.

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Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans

Will I ever get a Titans game correct? With Locker running the show, the Titans have a solid nucleus of weapons but, unfortunately, those weapons are never on the same page. While one of the Titans playmakers may be taking aim at a great game, the others decide to take the day off; call it Randy Moss syndrome. The Texans are coming off two close over time gamess but expect this team to be well rested since the Thanksgiving day showdown.

Score Prediction: Texans 30 – Titans 20

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Carolina Panthers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Coming off a strong game on MNF, the Panthers are looking to put together their first two game win streak of the season. We should give the Panthers some slack as they are 3 -8 with 6 of those losses by six points or less (2 of them by a combined 3 points). The Chiefs are playing some teams very tough this year but it just isn’t their year (too bad this wasn’t last year and the Chiefs had a chance at Luck or RGIII because Cassell is not the answer- duh). Cam Newton shows up to play this week!

Fantasy Stud: Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. The Chiefs are giving up a ton of points to tight ends this year and steady Gregy has been a consistent target all season.

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San Francisco 49ers @ Saint Louis Rams

Oh the Colin Kaepernick era has arrived. Tough break for Alex Smith who has done nothing but win ball games since last year. While Smith isn’t going to beat you with his arm, he is a safe bet to finish with a couple touchdowns, no turnovers, and give you just enough to win. On the flipside, Kaepernick is a dual threat with big play potential (he has a pretty deep ball too). Jim Harbaugh knows what he is doing so I’ll back him up on this one (I got you Jim dont worry) but will the Niners still be SB contenders with the second year quarterback? Lets not forget last time these two teams played, they tied! Not this week….

Player to Watch: No brainer here with Colin Kaepernick. The media will have a close eye on Kaep thus any small errors (or another tie) will result in second guessing the coaches decision.

Keep Your Eye On: Aldon Smith. The second year linebacker is on pace to break Reggie White’s record for most sacks in their first two NFL seasons.

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New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins

Another one of my favorite teams, the Dolphins, are tough to pick. Luckily, the Dolphins won’t do me wrong in this one as I am riding Brady and crew. Ryan Tannehill showed big time play making abilities at the end of last weeks games against Seattle; his running game also helped take some pressure off him. That being said, things may get ugly in Miami this week as I doubt Philbin will be pulling out any crazy Wildcat gameplan.

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Arizona Cardinals @ New York Jets

This is a battle of bad teams as the Cardinals aren’t showing any promise while the Jets….

uh…. are the Jets. Rex Ryan and the Jets are the punching bag of the New York Giants media; Mark Sanchez, and his 32.8 QBR, is taking so much heat for his poor performances. To defend this Jets team, they have been derailed by injuries and Sanchez isn’t throwing the ball to the most talented group of players. On the other side, I prefer not to talk about the Cardinals, whom I believe are legitimately in the conversation for the worst team in the NFL. If Beanie Wells can actually put something together and stay healthy, the team may have a chance to be competitive (as they won’t be so one dimensional). The quarterback situation is in flux and Larry Fitzgerald is being wasted as he finished with 3 catches on 12 targets last week (on Lindley’s 52 passing attempts).

Score Prediction: Jets 2 – Cardinals 0 (HAHA)..okay Jets 21 – Cardinals 10

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Denver Broncos

The Broncos survived a trap game last week in Arrowhead but this week they take care of business against a solid Tampa Bay team. Manning must continue to carry this team until the running game gets back on track. Tampa Bay, who are coming off a heartbreaker to the Falcons, will need running back Doug Martin to show up this week as he was held to 50 yards last week. The Buccs will look to rely heavily on Josh Freemans shoulders if they want to cover the 7 to 8 point spread in this one.

Player to Watch: Dallas Clark. Although the tight end isn’t the same player he once was, Clark has opened up the middle of the field for the Buccs this year.

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Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens

It pains me to do this twice in one season but I am going with the Ravens. The Steelers are in a must win situation this week as they can’t afford to lose three straight division games but injuries may hamper them in this one. This testy division rivalry is going to be fierce. If Charlie Batch is starting quarterback in this game, the Ravens will have no problem getting the victory. However, if Big Ben returns from injury, this game will be a good ole’ fashion slobberknocker.

Must Watch: The Steelers quarterback situation. If Big Ben does play in this matchup, the Steelers better find some extra bodies to help block for the injured quarterback. The Ravens and Steelers really don’t like each other and I wouldn’t be surprised if Terrell Suggs is licking his chops to get a shot at the injured Roesthlisberger.

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Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders

The Browns are starting to put things together since a week five beating against the Giants. Although I think it is tough for any east coast team to head to the west and come away with a victory, I believe the Browns get two in a row. Oakland had high hopes this season but is still an organization in flux and rebuilding mode; the team just announced they are releasing former first round pick Ronaldo McClain. Don’t be surprised if this one gets sloppy with the Browns stealing one.

Who We Enjoy Watching: Marcel Reece. I can’t tell you enough how much I respect this guy and how he has played this season. The FULLBACK (yes they still exist in the modern day NFL) is putting up numbers Darren McFadden wished we could consistently finish with. Reece is an all around player the NFL hasn’t seen in a few years. I hope he continues to rumble over players in the run game, make guys miss in the passing game and keep up his devastating blocking.

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Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers

I am trying to pick the underdog Chargers here but I just can’t do it. The Bengals ground game has picked up in recent weeks and this week will be no different. The Chargers are going to have to pay a lot of attention to the Bengal receivers and that alone should open up Lawfirm for another solid game. Norv Turners & AJ Smith time is up in San Diego; this team is just hanging on for dear life.

Key Player: Philip Rivers

Rivers came into this league with HIGH expectations and those expectations are only higher with his fellow companions (Eli & Big Ben) each owning two Lombardi trophies while Rivers hasn’t exactly put together a solid resume. Rivers is a fierce competitor and a tough player but he is forcing the ball too much this year.

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Pick Center of the Week (2 of 2): Philadelphia Eagles +10.5 @ Dallas Cowboys

Two Pick Centers of the Week?! I have to at this point. The Eagles are 10.5 point underdogs in a tough divisional matchup. The Eagles and Cowboys have both had their fair share of ups and downs this season but, at the end of the day, all division games are usually a dogfight. These two teams know each other so well that I can’t see the Cowboys winning by 10.5 points! No Way.

Player to Watch: Bryce Brown. How many of you saw that coming? I know I didn’t but I do know one person who told me that performance would happen. I did research on Brown and found out he was a highly touted player with a strong pedigree. Brown, who once had 50 scholarship offers, was troubled by an adviser who may have been derailed what may have been an outstanding college career. Brown should shine in Philadelphia given the opportunity.

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New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

Again, I am on the Redskins bandwagon at this point. Remember when these two teams battled earlier in the season? I think the Redskins can pull off a victory in this one against the favored Giants. New York is coming off a very impressive win against the Packers but, like I said in my last post, when it comes to rivals something is always different. RGIII is the key factor in this matchup as his style of play gives the Redskins a chance. Although the ‘skins defense is weak, I think RGIII makes enough plays to keep his team ahead in this one.

Fantasy Stud: Hakeem Nicks. Nicks, when healthy, is getting plenty of targets from Manning and this week will be no different as the playmaker should be able to get open plenty during this matchup.

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Thanks for checking out our picks. Dont forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

James Kaikis

Chief Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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Week 12 Predictions- Thanksgiving Edition

Rodgers will be all smiles after he leads his team to a victory in New York this weekend.

The NFL season keeps on rolling and so do the weekly predictions; we can’t stop the fury!

Last week I took a little heat for picking “mostly favorites” but, sometimes, its just a favorite type of week as I call it. Luckily, I was correct in my picks as I finished 13 -1! Oh you pesky New York Jets you got me again. This week is going to be much different though as we have some tight battles; expect the dogs to be barking this week.

As for the short holiday week, nothing is better than some snow on the ground, turkey cooking in the oven and watching some football. I’ll never forget growing up and always watching the Lions and Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Barry Sanders was always my favorite player to watch; I don’t think there was a more elusive running back than Sanders. The guy could cross and turn fields unlike anyone else and is probably the only player in NFL history to run for as many negative yards as regular rushing yards!

Oh how I miss Thanksgiving and the seasons!

Short week for everyone involved including the Cover 4. Now to these predictions…..

Houston Texans @ Detroit Lions

Analysis: Am I crazy? Yeah I think I might be with all these underdog picks this week but after watching Jacksonville torch the Texans secondary last week, I don’t see how the Lions won’t do the same (if not worse- believe it or not). The Jags have struggled all season while the Lions are the number one passing offense in the league. I don’t expect Houston defense to have two rough games in a row (I know the coaches are sleeping in the office this week). In the short week, the Lions will look to emulate the results of the Jaguars last week. The Lions squeak out a victory against the favorited Houston Texans.

Key Player: Matthew Stafford. If you have been watching the young gun slinger this year you can tell he is forcing the ball entirely too much. The strong armed quarterback is making a number of questionable decisions on the field and is not setting his feet while throwing (he looks like Cutler trying to force some throws!). I put a majority of last weeks loss against the Packers on Stafford, who threw ball after ball into the grass. If Stafford has his act together this week, the Lions will beat the Houston Texans.

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys

Analysis: I am going with the underdog ‘skins in this matchup. I understand that this in a home matchup and the Cowboys expect to throw all over the Redskins but something inside of me is telling me the Redskins are going to be turning things around for the rest of the season. I expect RGIII to continue to make all the necessary plays to keep his team in this game.

New England Patriots @ New York Jets

Analysis: The loss of Gronkowski is huge for the Patriot offense as Gronk has been one of the most productive players (touchdown wise) in the past three seasons. Aaron Hernandez must return from injury to provide the Pats offense the matchup issues that are vital to their success. The Jets are coming off a much needed W against the Rams but I don’t think they will get things together two weeks in a row.

Score Prediction: Patriots 35 – Jets 17

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears

Analysis: As much as I don’t trust Jason Campbell (if Jay Cutler isn’t playing), I don’t expect Christian Ponder against the Bears defense (granted they were torched by second stringer Colin Kaepernick). The Chicago offensive line is just terrible and will be the reason the Bears offense continues to falter. The Bears defense must slow down Adrian Peterson and continue to make the plays they have made all season.

Key Player: Brandon Marshall. Marshall is putting up monster numbers this season. The success of the offense is heavy on his shoulders as he takes pressure off the rest of the Bears weapons and allows the run game to get going.

Oakland Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals

Analysis: Should we all give up on Darren McFadden? McFadden posses a top five skill set at running back but can’t stay healthy. The Bengals look good on both sides of the ball. The passing attack will create a number of matchup problems with the Raiders terrible defense. I expect things to be ugly in Cincinnati this weekend as Dalton and crew take care of business.

Fantasy Stud: Marcel Reece. The running back put up solid numbers last week on the ground and in the air. Expect much the same this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

Analysis: Can you believe it? Am I really seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns as a pick ’em?! (Some lines have now moved to Steelers +1 now). Understandably some people believe this may be a little closer than usual but are we all forgetting the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is playing stellar right now? With or without a starting caliber quarterback, the Steelers get the W in this one. Cleveland has had very little luck, if any, against the Steelers since coming back into the NFL just a few years ago. Charlie Batch, although old, has been a more than capable backup in the league and has been productive while doing so. Steelers pull out the W in this one by shutting down the Cleveland offense.

Key Player: Charlie Batch. Obviously this is a no-brainer as Batch must lead the team to victory. Batch won’t be beating anyone with his laser arm but he will manage the game and keep turnovers to a minimum. Expect Batch to make all the necessary (and easy) throws without taking too many big shots down the field.

Buffalo Bills @ Indianapolis Colts

Analysis: After all the sports networks blew up the possibility of the Colts beating New England last week (uh Cover 4 was very correct in how the Colts wouldn’t win if it became a scoring spree), we are now back down to earth and realize the Colts are a good, but not great, football team. The Bills have had their fair share of ups and downs this season but I’m taking Luck in this one.

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

Analysis: The Broncos are really firing on all cylinders right now and that doesn’t bode well for the Chiefs, losers of 7 straight. The Chiefs are 0-5 at home and don’t have much to look forward to for the rest of the season (except obviously the draft boards). Arrowhead is a tough place to play but it shouldn’t be a problem for the Broncos this week.

Seattle Seahawks @ Miami Dolphins

Analysis: I just can’t pick the Dolphins as the team is just too inconsistent and you never know how they are going to play. The Seahawks aren’t the best road team but I believe they go into Miami and come out victors.

Score Prediction: Seahawks 20 – Dolphins 10

Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Analysis: Chad Henne had a great game last week but I don’t expect him to have another monster performance. It was nice to see a Justin Blackmon sighting after his MONSTER game but I like Locker and squad in this one.

Fantasy Stud: Cecil Shorts.

Baltimore Ravens @ San Diego Chargers

Analysis: I really escaped with my pick center last week with the Chargers late touchdown to my fantasy stud of the week Danario Alexander. The Ravens survived a close battle with the division rival Steelers. I fully expect the Ravens to take advantage of the Chargers despite only being one point favorites.

Pick Center of the Week: Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2

Analysis: Yup, call me crazy again but I am riding the dogs this week. The Falcons looked horrible last week but still came out with a victory against a bad Arizona Cardinal team. On the other side of the ball, the Buccs looked horrible for the majority of the game until a fourth quarter rally and a win in OT against the beaten Carolina Panthers. I understand the matchup, on paper, looks terrible for the Buccs secondary as they are allowing the most passing yards per game but the team is finding ways to win. I expect a battle to come down to a late field goal in this one.

Score Prediction: Buccaneers 28 – Falcons 27

San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints

Analysis: This game really doesn’t look great for the pass happy Saints. The Saints, who have been very one dimensional for the past few seasons, will look to throw all over the 49ers. But, we all know that really isn’t going to happen, regardless if the game will be in New Orleans or not. The Niners are coming off a very impressive win against the Bears with a backup quarterback. With Colin Kaepernick starting this week, I expect the niners to pound the ball away toward victory in this one.

Key Player: Drew Brees. Brees will have to be near perfect for the Saints to get the W this weekend as the Niner defense has been very tough to pass against.

St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals

Analysis: After watching the Cardinals offense struggle last week with Ryan Lindley, who posted a 4.7 QBR, I am taking the Rams as a no brainer pick. The Cardinals could be 10 point favorites but I don’t expect them to have the same success running the ball like they dad against the Falcons. Rams win this division road matchup behind Sam Bradfords solid game.

Game of the Week: Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants

Analysis: I expect a great game between the Packers and Giants. The Giants are on a downward spiral but this game will allow them to get back on track and control their own destiny in the NFC. The Packers, winners of five straight, will look to Aaron Rodgers to continue his hot hand in the passing game against a Giants defense that has had a number of subpar games.

Fantasy Stud: James Jones. After a hot start and cooling off a bit, look for Jones to get a number of catches in this outing.

Carolina Panthers @ Philadelphia Eagles

Analysis: Andy Reid on Monday Night Football thus should be taking the Eagles at home right? Wrong. I am taking the underdog Panthers as Ron Rivera and squad is due to get a W this week; this team is being tortured by bad luck and late collapses. I hate to see things go this way for the Panthers but lets not forget Newton put up big numbers as a rookie in garbage time playing catchup (aka this team isn’t ready to take the next step). Foles won’t be able to do enough for his squad as the Panthers win.

Score Prediction: Panthers 27 – Eagles 21

Call it a quick week but we expect a wild one this week. With a number of dog picks, we expect another great week out of the Cover 4. Enjoy the Holiday.

A little video of two of the best: Barry Sanders & Tony Dorsett.

James Kaikis

Chief Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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http://www.twitter.com/thecover4

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