The Carolina Panthers Are Now Legit Super Bowl Contenders

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The Cover 4.com presents you with The Carolina Panthers Are Now Legit Super Bowl Contenders! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @thecover4 or facebook at theCo VerFour

Before their momentous victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10, the Carolina Panthers put together a four-game winning streak in which they beat their opponents by 30 points or more. That put them in rare company, as Bill Barnwell pointed out:

Year Team Point Differential Final Record Playoff Result
2013 Panthers 82 ??? ???
2013 Broncos 88 ??? ???
2009 Saints 81 13-3 Won Super Bowl
2009 Colts 96 13-3 Lost Super Bowl
2007 Patriots 104 16-0 Lost Super Bowl
2007 Colts 83 13-3 Lost in AFC playoffs
2005 Colts 81 14-2 Lost in AFC playoffs
2004 Eagles 101 13-3 Lost Super Bowl
2004 Colts 125 12-4 Lost in AFC playoffs
2000 Rams 80 10-6 Lost in NFC playoffs
1999 Rams 106 13-3 Won Super Bowl
1998 Broncos 83 14-2 Won Super Bowl
1994 49ers 103 13-3 Won Super Bowl
1993 49ers 107 10-6 Lost in NFC playoffs
1990 Bills 104 13-3 Lost Super Bowl

 

Those are some juicy outcomes for a team that finished 7-9 last year and had calls for their quarterback’s and head coach’s heads on a stake. There were plenty of reasons for me not to like them in my preseason preview, including their patchwork secondary and lack of receiving options for Cam Newton. And with their back to the wall for cap space with an incompetent GM, the long-term outlook did not look too bright. I wasn’t too high on them in the beginning of the season either, when they started 1-3 and started their winning streak by beating up on lowly Minnesota, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. But that chart above deserves some attention, and now that they have a signature win they can hang their hat on against the San Francisco 49ers, I think it’s finally time to respect the Panthers as legit Super Bowl contenders in such a muddled NFL season where it seems like anyone can win it this year.

Although there are other factors responsible for this turnaround, the best visual representation of the Panthers’ newfound success is their franchise quarterback Newton. After all, who scored all those points for them? (Insert your Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams jokes here.) Through the four-game stretch, Newton averaged 229 yards passing, completed 72.3 percent of his passes and threw seven touchdowns against two interceptions. If you prorate those over a full season, the completion percentage, touchdowns and interceptions all put Newton in the top quarter of the league at his position.

23497707_BG1Newton surely deserves credit for the Panthers’  turnaround, but he has always been an above-average quarterback and his No. 1 overall pick aura eliminates any surprise that he is playing at a Pro Bowl-level right now. What really deserves attention is Carolina’s fearsome front seven, and how it is propping up its lackluster and injured secondary. Led by Charles Johnson’s “breakout” season (in terms of mainstream popularity) and the best young linebacker in the NFL, Luke Kuechly; the defensive linemen and linebackers as a group are arguably the best in the league. Johnson has already matched three quarters of his sack total last year and needs only 11 more total tackles to duplicate the previous year’s production. Leading the charge for the linebackers is Kuechly, last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. Even though he is only in his second year, it’s already established that he is one of a handful of the best defensive players in football. He led the league in tackles last year, and is poised to get back to that same number this year, while already getting one more interception than he had his rookie season. Before the Panthers played the 49ers, they were ranked fourth in defensive DVOA. After? Carolina jumped to first overall, an incredible turnaround that really puts a spotlight on the two young game changers for the Panthers.

The last piece of the Panthers’ success that warrants mention is Ron Rivera, or “Riverboat Ron” as he has become affectionately known. In my season preview, Rivera was one of the reasons holding the Panthers back. A good coach often knows when to be aggressive and when to be conservative. When it comes to fourth down, Rivera shouldn’t think twice about going for it if the yards in question are four yards or less. Carolina has the best goal-line back in Newton, and not to mention $35 million invested in running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Well Rivera has taken a turn for the better as a coach in general and especially on fourth down decisions, and there is no coincidence his increased game-managing ability has merged with the Panthers getting hot.

Panthers Chargers Football

So, the inevitable question is where is the correct place to gauge the Panthers’ new found success? On one hand, the chart above is pretty indicative of the success such a powerful four-game winning streak brings. You might say Carolina had a pretty easy schedule, but if you look at all the opponents those other teams faced, they weren’t necessarily world beaters either. I think the balance lands on the other side, in that the Panthers have a pretty good shot at a deep playoff run. I think their defensive DVOA will get worse a tad – their front 7 can only make the depleted secondary look so good for so long – and Rivera is always a candidate for a boneheaded decision at a critical time. Newton will return to Earth due to lack of real receiving options and that I think his high numbers are somewhat unsustainable, but with the stingy defense the pressure wasn’t on him like it was before to perform and win games for them, which the game in San Francisco proved. Their Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots will be their best test so far, and if they manage to beat them and the 49ers in consecutive weeks, I think its time to throw the Panthers in one of the three or four teams to make it out of the NFC and into the Super Bowl.

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The Sound Off by Long Island Sound

The Cover 4 presents you The Sound Off by Long Island Sound…

Let us know what you think!

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Long Island Sound
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Colin Kaepernick is a Game Changer

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History will tell you that a new-age “running quarterback” can’t carry a team to the Super Bowl. Experts and critics will tell you that the read-option offense is a college gimmick that won’t work in the NFL where the athletes are better and defenses are more sophisticated.

Don’t tell Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers that.

The second-year quarterback has defied all odds and silenced every critic during the Niners’ march to the Super Bowl. After taking over for Alex Smith earlier in the season after Smith sustained a concussion against the Rams, Kaepernick took advantage of the opportunity and earned the starting nod over Smith even when the former No. 1 overall pick was cleared to play. Smith is not a Pro Bowl caliber player by any stretch of the imagination, but for a second-year quarterback to replace a healthy established starter who was playing well is a gamble.

Jim Harbaugh knew what he was doing. He drafted Kaepernick in the second round after a stellar career at the University of Nevada where Kaepernick ran Chris Ault’s pistol offense to perfection. Anyone who followed WAC football knew Kaepernick had potential. He had a good arm, great speed, great character and hid the ball as well as any quarterback in the nation on play-action read options.

Kaepernick is the first of the new breed of quarterbacks to truly shine. Michael Vick, Cam Newton and even Tim Tebow have all shown flashes of potential. Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III led their teams to the playoffs as rookies and got more national attention throughout the season. None of them have done what Kaepernick has. Yes, the Niners’ defense is one of the best in the league. Don’t let that fool you; this team would not be in the Super Bowl if it wasn’t for Kaepernick. He does more than simply manage the game: he dictates and controls it.

Harbaugh is not afraid to give Kaepernick the keys to the car. There is nothing Kaepernick can’t do. He’s accurate, he can throw the deep ball, he can throw in traffic and when all else fails he can break the pressure and scramble outside the pocket to extend the play. Most importantly, he is smart and makes great decisions almost every play. The read-option is not easy, especially with the speed of the game in the NFL. One bad decision could get you or your running back knocked out. Instead, Kaepernick keeps defenses guessing, while he and Frank Gore run for big gain after big gain.

The Niners’ offense has been set up to give defenses fits. The Ravens love to rush the passer off the edge with the likes of Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger. In the Super Bowl, the Ravens will have to find a way put pressure on Kaepernick while keeping contain on the outside. If the Ravens decide to stack the box and go to single coverage, the Niners have the weapons to make any defense pay with Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree. If they choose to drop more men in coverage, the Niners can let Kaepernick, Gore and LaMichael James loose through their potent running attack. Pick your poison, Ravens.

None of this would be possible if Alex Smith was under center. Yes, Kaepernick still has his flaws and is not great at taking snaps from under center, which was a significant red flag when he came out of college. However, the risk for the Niners is worth the reward. He brings such a different dynamic to their offense that there is no question he is the best choice. The Niners were a good team with Smith, they are great with Kaepernick. At the time it looked like a risk; no one is questioning  Harbaugh now.

If Kaepernick and the Niners win, the impact for quarterbacks like him is huge. I guarantee it, win or lose, you will see more teams go to the read-option as their primary offense. If they win, more teams will be willing to take risks on dual-threat quarterbacks because there will be a proven recipe for success. Winning championships is paramount in any sport. Teams aren’t going to use a system that has no hope of leading to a championship.

Many of the aforementioned quarterbacks are better athletes than Kaepernick, have better arms and more impressive college credentials. None of them are the complete package like he is. He gives coaches and general managers a new mold of quarterback to look at. He is a system quarterback and that system with him running it has proven to be incredibly successful at the highest level. To win the Super Bowl against the legendary Ravens defense would be a statement for Kaepernick, Harbaugh, the Niners and the new breed of quarterbacks everywhere looking for their shot in the NFL. Victory over a defense of that stature would change the game.

Kaepernick has overcome every obstacle in his path so far. If he comes through on the game’s biggest stage, he will have gone from the backup to a legend in a matter of months. As Kaepernick’s history tells us, he thrives as the underdog and loves to prove his critics wrong. It would be unwise to bet against him this Sunday in the biggest game of his career.

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Your Quarterback is Which Actor?

Your Quarterback is Which Actor?

There are always comparisons between quarterbacks, ranging from Andrew Luck to Peyton Manning or RG3 to Cam Newton. It is quite popular to compare an incumbent to their contemporaries to paint a picture to the public for the future.

Are we going to do that here?  Nope.  In lieu of comparing current NFL quarterbacks to their predecessors, we are going to compare them to actors.  Yes, actors.

For a little appetizer, think of Jamarcus Russell like Lindsay Lohan with all the potential and tools, but caught up in out-of-work trouble. Purple Drink!

Here we go:

NFC East

Eli Manning – Joaquin Phoenix

Both are extremely eclectic people that find ways to put on great performances in crucial times.  They are recognized as the most important person in their biggest career moments.  In Gladiator, Phoenix supported the role of Russell Crowe, much like Manning managed the Giants to their first Super Bowl win.  Next, each person rose to the starring role with Manning guiding the Giants over the Patriots for a second time and Phoenix presenting a remarkable performance in Walk the Line.

Tony Romo – Mark Wahlberg

Ever see someone begin from nothing but, when given their first shot, show such immense potential? Much like Romo, Wahlberg began great with the Italian Job, and continued to show prominence in Invincible and Shooter, but follows up with Ted and The Other Guys.  It is head scratching as much as Tony Romo, but it is undeniable that both men expose themselves to seriously low moments in their career that make you question them.

Michael Vick & Nick Foles – Jackie Chan & Chris Tucker

We have a flashy stunt man, who really does not know how to hone or master his craft (whether it be either acting or quarterbacking).  Their counterpart is serviceable, by carrying the traditional acting techniques, and although either are unproven or average, both Tucker and Foles show flashes of having potential.  Ultimately, neither actor nor quarterback is taken seriously in their profession.

Robert Griffin III – Justin Timberlake

Each person was successful in the early phase of their career, and transferred that into the next level of exposure and immediately succeeded.  RG3 won the Heisman at Baylor and JT went from the front man of Nsync to a prominent solo music career.  At their transition phases, RG3 led his Redskins to the playoffs in his rookie year, and Justin hit the big screen with a splash in The Social Network.  Great things are still to come from these two.

NFC North

Aaron Rodgers – Leonardo DiCaprio

Both of these men are at the top of their respective profession right now and are a must see on the big screen or the football field.  Rodgers continues to get better and better playing the position at such a consistent high level.  Concurrently, Leo manages to remain in elevated form by rolling out Catch Me If You Can, The Departed and Inception just to name a few.

Jay Cutler – Robert Downey Jr.

The overall “I don’t give a $h*!” attitude resemblance between these two is very uncanny.  At the same time, when focused and motivated, Downey and Cutler can put together stretches of absolute brilliance that remind you they are formidable in their respective fields.

Christian Ponder – Josh Hartnett

Essentially, both of these men peaked way too early.  Ponder was drafted well before he should have ever been considered and Hartnett has been on a steady decline since Black Hawk Down.  However, they both have capabilities to present manageable performances with Ponder being efficient and Hartnett with 40 Days and 40 Nights.

Matthew Stafford – Ben Affleck

Affleck and Stafford flourish with talent around them and in the right setting.  Stafford has been fortunate to have Calvin Johnson and numerous weapons to generate his massive yardage seasons.  As much as Affleck has captured us with Good Will Hunting and The Town, he has released some big flops like Gigli and Daredevil, resembling the disgusting sidearm sling Matthew Stafford continually resorts to.

 NFC South

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Matt Ryan – Jeremy Renner

Matt Ryan revitalized a struggling franchise with his first NFL pass going for a touchdown and he has not looked back since.  The same can be said for Jeremy Renner, who really hit us with The Hurt Locker and continued to get better with The Town.  Each of these men is on the rise and aimed for greatness with their professions.

Cam Newton – Gerard Butler

Utterly mind-blowing physical specimens from their initial roles from 300 or Cam’s rookie year, but their dropoff cannot be argued.  It seems both get complacent with their initial success, and relies on their physical tools rather than developing their craft.

Drew Brees – Brad Pitt

Brees’ career began very prominent and flashy in San Diego, which is very reminiscent of Brad Pitt in Fight Club.  Although, each of them went through a dry spell or injury span, they both developed their potential into either a Super Bowl winner or hits with Benjamin Button and Inglorious Bastards.

Josh Freeman – Chris Hemsworth

The physical traits of both men naturally set them above the rest from the beginning. Additionally, they have displayed moments of brilliance in key moments.  Hemsworth separated himself from the bottom feeders of the comic remake world, and lined up multiple runs of Thor.  Freeman has shown to be more than clutch in critical moments leading the volatile Bucs to come from behind wins and fourth quarter drives.

 NFC West

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Alex Smith & Colin Kaepernick – Tobey Maguire & Jesse Eisenberg

Smith came in as a number one overall pick with the expectations to revive a franchise, but failed to do so.  The same result can be seen from Tobey Maguire’s attempt at the Spiderman series; an utter disaster.  Maguire was capable of carrying a movie throughout with Pleasantville or Seabiscuit, but failed to present anything spectacular.  Conversely, Colin Kaepernick has come in a thrived as an absolute star much like Eisenberg in The Social Network.  Look for both Kaepernick and Eisenberg to entertain us for the next generation of professionals.

Russell Wilson – Joseph Gordon Levitt

Levitt’s respectable beginning in TV started with 3rd Rock from the Sun and that can be comparable to Wilson’s stint in minor league baseball, but their adaptation to the professional level has better utterly amazing.  Whether it be Inception, Looper, or leading a Seahawks franchise to the playoffs with utter poise and composure; both of these future stars will be around for a long time to come.

Sam Bradford – Chris Pine Can

Chris Pine showed he was capable of supporting Denzel Washington in Unstoppable and left the public wanting more for the recreated Star Trek franchise.  Similar to Pine, when Bradford gets comfortable and gains weapons around him, the Rams will continue their positive direction to a reputable franchise again.

Kevin Kolb & Crew – Jon Heder, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell

Coach put Uncle Rico in and we saw how that went….

 AFC East

Tom Brady – Denzel Washington

Thriving in roles with good looks and masterful performances symbolizes these two dynamic personalities perfectly.  Denzel began his career being acclaimed in a supporting role and prospered into a top leading man for an extended duration from Training Day to recently released Flight.  Brady stepped in for an injured Drew Bledsoe and never looked back creating a decade of dominance for the New England Patriots.

Ryan

Ryan Tannehill – Zac Efron

With a limited sample size with one year in college and a rookie NFL year, Ryan Tannehill has shown to have immense potential with absolutely no talent around him.  Looking past Efron’s High School Musical days, he has displayed some notable performances with 17 Again and Charlie St. Cloud by showing he can exceed expectations and carry a movie throughout.  It is early, but both Tannehill and Efron have shown glimpses of having a reputable future in their industries.  Plus have you seen their girl friends or wife?  Bonus points!

Ryan Fitzpatrick – Vince Vaughn

Vince Vaughn’s natural sarcastic humor resembles the intelligence of a Harvard graduate like Fitzpatrick.  Essentially both are serviceable in their industry with spotty high moments, but won’t produce anything award winning.

Mark Sanchez – Colin Farrell

They try so hard but it does not work.  We can equate SWAT to Sanchez’s early years with nice playoffs runs, but it has been a steep decline ever since.  Sanchez tried to be an efficient manager but failed.  Farrell tried to match Brad Pitt’s Troy with Alexander, but that was a disaster.  They will remain in their industries, but will never prevail to anything special.

 AFC North

JoeJoe Flacco – Matt Damon

Damon’s character in the Ocean’s Eleven series represents Flacco beyond a reasonable doubt.  Damon struggled to be acknowledged as a main contributor, but gradually was given more respect as each movie continued.  At the same time, Damon carried an entertaining Bourne series for almost a decade and, although it wasn’t award winning, it was very entertaining.  Flacco has shown utter moments of brilliance in big moments, much like Damon in Good Will Hunting and The Departed.

Andy

Andy Dalton – John Cho

You may know Cho has Harold from the Harold and Kumar series, but he quietly has strung together a few noteworthy performances with American Beauty and Star Trek.  He looks to still be a constant within the revitalized Star Trek series, resembling Dalton’s potential lengthy and serviceable NFL career.  It is hard to tell what each person will ultimately become, but each has shown potential that they can be taken seriously looking forward in their future.

Ben Roethlisberger – Christian Bale

Bale and Big Ben can cause some controversy outside the office, but when focused, they compete to be the best in their fields.  Bale transformed the Batman series and was outstanding in The Fighter, while Roethlisberger led the Steelers to Super Bowl appearances and a victories after years of Tommy Maddox and Kordell Stewart.

Brandon Weeden – David Caruso

This one may be self explanatory.  Both were given a shot at an older age and it may work out for Weeden, but if it does expect nothing more than a Lieutenant Horatio Caine performance in CSI: Miami.

AFC South

Matt Schaub – Alec Baldwin

Neither was intended to take on a leading role at the highest level.  Baldwin is perfect at 30 Rock and Schaub was an effective back-up for an injury prone Michael Vick in Atlanta.  Schaub has never quite lived up to a franchise starting quarterback, much like Baldwin in the main character role of a major motion picture.  Both have had memorable moments from big games to priceless lines in The Departed.

Andrew Luck – Tom Hardy

Luck and Hardy came in with all of the physical and mental tools to be successful from the beginning, and lived up to the hype.  Luck led a 2-14 Colts team to the playoffs and Hardy thrived inInception, Warrior and The Dark Knight Rises.  Future success exudes from both of these professionals in such a short sample size already.

Blaine Gabbert & Jake Locker – Taylor Lautner & Robert Pattinson

Gabbert & Locker have proved they are products of the combine hype and beneficiaries of tremendous arm strength, as their on-field product has not been worthy of first-round draft picks.  Translate the aforementioned sentence to motion pictures, and you have Twilight.  The CFL and ABC Family cannot wait for these guys.

AFC West

Peyton Manning – Tom Hanks

Starting as the number one pick in the NFL draft and winning best actor in a children’s movie just conveys the early success of the methodical and surgical (Trent Dilfer talk) careers for Peyton Manning and Tom Hanks.  Both men bring extremely dedicated and intellectual approaches to their roles transcending generations that made up for any physical deficiencies.

Phillip Rivers – Sam Worthington

Has anyone hit the big screen faster and harder than Sam Worthington?  In the blink of an eye, he starred in Terminator and Avatar, but then dramatically took steps down with Clash of the Titans and Man on a Ledge.  This sounds eerily similar to Chargers’ quarterback Phillip Rivers, with his tremendous start under Marty Schottenheimer to his most recent two season decline.  Both began to enter the “elite” conversation, but have quickly entered the above average.

Carson Palmer – Nicholas Cage

This is one of my favorites.  Cage showed some flashes of brilliance when next to Sean Connery in The Rock similar to Carson Palmer surrounded with weapons in Cincinnati.  Both of them believed themselves to be far more talented than what they really are, but show their true worth either in Oakland or anything Nicholas Cage does.  Cage is veteran garbage like Palmer.

Matt Cassel – Seann William Scott

Do you remember Steve Stiffler from the American Pie series?  He was barely in the first one, but his roles progressively grew in an entertaining fashion.  Unfortunately, Seann William Scott cannot be a lead actor. He was amazing in Role Models because he fed off of Paul Rudd.  The Chiefs gave Cassel the keys to the car and how did that turn out?

 Note from the Chief : I believe this to be one of the coolest and funniest articles I have ever seen. I would appreciate it if you would help us spread the word on this article more-so than others. With the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl upon us, this is a perfect time to bring some excitement to the game. Thank you

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Long Island Sound
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Our Final Installment: Week 17 NFL Predictions

Like it or not, all eyes are on Tony Romo this week.

Like it or not, all eyes are on Tony Romo this week.

Can you believe it? We are already in week 17 of the NFL season and the new year is right around the corner. The smell of playoff football is in the air; who will be peaking at the right time to make it to the Super Bowl?

I will commend the NFL on doing the scheduling changes a few years ago, I love watching meaningful games in the last week of the season. Dallas v Washington for the division?! Two years in a row Cowboy fans. Is this year going to be different?

For fantasy reasons, I love watching players play meaningful games in week 15, 16 & 17 because it allows me to win my fantasy football league. Won 1 of 4 – not bad. Pay me Long Island Sound!

From the Cover 4 to our readers, thank you for following along this season; it has had its ups and downs and plenty of changes to meet the demands of our fans but we have enjoyed every minute of it.

THE COVER 4: PHI, CHI, GB, WAS

We hope that you continue to read our website and follow along for some of the best, and most interesting, sports articles out there right now. We aren’t your typical mainstream sports website ; we are for the fans, by the fans. Period!

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New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills (-3) 

Jesse – NYJ –  Both teams are terrible, so I’ll take the points.

Long Island Sound – NYJ – Sanchez will provide a good performance versus a below average defense to prove his worth.

Plumb – NYJ – With McElroy out and Sanchez back, this may be Sanchez’s last time to prove he can play in the big leagues.

James – NYJ – Mark Sanchez is going to play the best game of his life…… maybe?

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Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-10)

Jesse – MIA – I expect Miami to play New England tough and cover the 10 points.

Long Island Sound – NE – Hate big lines, but Miami going to NE never works out well for them.

Plumb – MIA – Well last time around New England overlooked Miami and division games are always tough to win, let alone cover. Dolphins make one last push to cap off a decent season.

James – NE – I like Coach Billy in this matchup; coach always wants to send a message.

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Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals (-2½)

Jesse – BAL – Baltimore destroyed the Bengals back in their Week 1 meeting, and they should be playing for playoff momentum after their drudging of the Giants last week. Baltimore’s the better team & getting points.

Long Island Sound – CIN –  Baltimore is a pretender that faced a Giants team that has been rolling over for the last 2 weeks.

Plumb – CIN – After coming off impressive wins and clinching playoff berths, Cincy is the only team in this matchup that has something to play for.

James – BAL – Maybe its my perception, and familiarity, with the AFC North but I know that when it matters Baltimore will beat the Bungals. I like AJ Green a lot but I think the Ravens cover in this one.

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Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (No Line)

Jesse – PIT – Pittsburgh is out of the playoff hunt, but I don’t expect Tomlin’s team to quit. They should cover whatever number the casinos put up with Cleveland starting Thaddeus Lewis (who?) at QB & Montario Hardesty at RB.

Long Island Sound – PIT – Cleveland’s 3rd string QB versus a disgruntled Mike Tomlin.

Plumb – PIT – Tomlin will have the team ready for this week after last week disappointing loss. Expect Steelers blowout.

James – PIT – Steelers rarely lose to the Browns; it won’t happen twice in one year….

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Houston Texans (-7) @ Indianapolis Colts

Jesse – HOU – Houston NEEDS this win to lock up #1 in the AFC while Indy is locked into the 5th-seed no matter what. On top of that, Houston was flat-out embarrassed by the Vikings at home last week. If they want to prove to the nation that they’re a true contender, it starts this Sunday.

Long Island Sound – IND – Andrew Luck at home.

Plumb – IND – Both are jocking for seeding but Indy is tough at home and getting points makes it even more enticing. The Colts have Luck on their side.

James – HOU – I like Indy but I think Houston takes care of business this week and gets things rolling into the playoffs. If Houston doesn’t cover, it will be because the Colts get a garbage td or two.

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Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans (-4½)

Jesse – JAC – Jacksonville showed life last week vs. Patriots, while Tennessee wet the bed at Green Bay. I refuse to lay more than 4 points with this Tennessee squad after last week’s performance.

Long Island Sound – JAC – Henne has this team playing hard.

Plumb – JAC – Well the worst game on the schedule this week and someone’s gotta win. I’ll take the points just because Henne is showing he can still play and will be fighting for a job next season.

James – JAC – Toilet Bowl of Week 17.

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Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants (-7½)

Jesse – PHI – One of Philly’s 4 wins this season was against these NY Giants and came with Vick at the helm & McCoy in the backfield. Well, they’re back & there’s no reason they can’t keep this game close and cover the TD+ or even perhaps win.

Long Island Sound – PHI – Giants at home against a divisional opponent. Vick gives the Giants trouble.

Plumb – PHI – After Philly lost Nick Foles last week to injury, Vick is back which means two things: unpredictability and dog fighting (j/k PETA). Tough division matchup and the ½ is always a favorites kryptonite. This is a dog’s game (Corny Mike Vick humor). Eagles cover and Vick proves he is still a starter in the League.

James – PHI – This game scares me because the Giants are so unpredictable. I think Vick comes out and takes care of business in his last game in Phili.

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Chicago Bears (-3) @ Detroit Lions

Jesse – CHI – Chicago needs this win +MINN loss to make the playoffs as the 6th-seed, so they’ll be ready for this contest. Pro-bowl CB Tim Jennings (shoulder) should be back & RB Forte (ankle) is optimistic about playing while Detroit is reeling having lost 7-straight.

Long Island Sound – CHI – Cutler and Marshall are in a groove that will not be stopped by the Lions D.

Plumb – CHI – Tough defense, must win game, and Brandon Marshall. Too many factors against the home team in this one.

James – CHI – MUST WIN. Time to put up or shut up Chicago.

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Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Minnesota Vikings

Jesse – GB – Green Bay is ready for their playoff run & earning a 1st round bye would bode well for them. Since starting the season 2-3, Packers have only lost 1 game. They’ll get Minnesota’s best efforts, but they won’t be enough. Green Bay will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Long Island Sound – GB – Finally healthy and Rodgers is back to his unreal form.

Plumb – GB – A very important game for both teams in this matchup. Minnesota fighting for the last playoff berth alongside AP attempting to break the single season rushing record, and Green Bay attempting to clinch a first round bye with a W. Expect this to be a hard nose and close game. Deciding factor: Aaron Rodgers dominant play in domes.

James – GB – I really hope AP can break this record but my PRESEASON Super Bowl pick is looking pretty good right now. I think Rodgers gives the Viking defense his discount double check.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons (No Line)

Jesse – TB – There’s no line on this game because Atlanta might rest their starters. They’ve locked up home-field in the NFC and have no reason to play for anything. I’ll take Tampa, especially if they’re getting points.

Long Island Sound – ATL – Ryan and the Falcons at home. Don’t believe they will sit starts much based on previous playoff woes.

Plumb – ATL – Atlanta is tough at home as they are undefeated in the Georgia Dome.

James – ATL – I don’t care if Chris Chandler is going to be playing quarterback this week, I can’t take the shaky and free-falling Buccs. ATL will play its players for the majority of this one as they aren’t going to rest for two weeks.

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Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints (-5)

Jesse – CAR (ML +205) – I personally think these two teams are relatively even. Carolina’s actually been playing better of late –winners of 3-straight — so I’m getting value with the Panthers, as the spread should be NO -3. Carolina will win this game outright saving Ron Rivera’s job.

Long Island Sound – NO – Should be a shoot-out, but Brees should cover here.

Plumb – CAR – Panthers defense > Saints defense. Plus Carolina has won 3 straight.

James – CAR – Carolina may not get the W but they cover in this one.

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Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos (-16)

Jesse – KC – I cannot get myself to lay 16 points, even if it’s with the perceived “best team in the NFL.”

Long Island Sound – KC – Too big of a spread.

Plumb – KC – Wow this spread is high. I expect Peyton and Co. to play till halftime and call it a day. If this happens, expect KC to capitalize.

James – KC – I know the Chiefs are bad, and I mean bad. I realize the Broncos are really good. I just don’t wanna put 16 on this game. I’ll stay conservative and take KC.

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Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers (No Line)

Jesse – SD – Oakland has quit. Before beating KC two weeks ago, Oakland was losers of 6-straight. They didn’t score a single TD in their 15-0 win over KC in that aforementioned meeting & failed to score a TD last week vs. Panthers. To add insult to injury, Terrelle Pryor will be starting for the injured Palmer (ribs).

Long Island Sound – SD – Just a bad game with a bad team and a very undisciplined team. I’ll take the potential versus the bad.

Plumb – SD – Are you putting your hard earned money on the Oakland Raiders? Yeah, neither am I because I can’t trust them.

James – SD – Norv Turner and AJ Smith get a W in their last game with the organization; Turner has already said he is okay with being an OC again after this year. Smell Yah.

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Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (-16½)

Jesse – SF – Ok, I lied; I will lay -16 in certain situations. Maybe this is me betting with my heart; maybe not. This season following a loss or tie, the 49ers have beaten their opponents by a combined score of 106-26.

Long Island Sound – ARI – Not taking that line in the NFL out of principle.

Plumb – ARI – This is probably the hardest game to pick this week. On one hand you have the Niners who must win to clinch the division as well as a potential second seed in the conference. My only question is how hard are they going to play the Cards without risking injury? Then you have the Cards who may or may not show up at home let alone score a point. The gut wants the Niners but the numbers say Cards.

James – ARI – 16+? What? Luckily its week 17 and this will be the first, and last, time I think the Cardinals will do something good.

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St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks (-10½)

Jesse – SEA – If Seattle wins this game and 49ers somehow slip up and lose vs. Cardinals, then Seattle wins the NFC West and the #3 seed in the NFC. They have everything to play for, and are playing extremely well especially down in the trenches.

Long Island Sound – STL – This team finds ways to cover.

Plumb – SEA – I made this mistake last week and it burned me. SEAHAWKS AT HOME = WIN.

James – SEA – I don’t think I can go any other way with the way this team has been playing.

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Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (-3)

Jesse – WAS – Stop me when you’ve heard this before: Dallas in a must-win? I’ll take the other side.

Long Island Sound – WAS – Washington looking to capture a division title will be ready to play.

Plumb – WAS – Dallas Cowboys! Big Games! Tony Romo fumbling meaningful snaps! Means one thing: Choke artists. Skins win and take the Division.

James – WAS – Maybe this is the year the Cowboys finally win a meaningful game at the end of the season? Naw, I’m going RGIII.

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James Kaikis
Chief Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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