By Patrick Stanton
And there I was; a mere 3 plus minutes away from posting a 10 spot in my first ever NFL prediction column until disaster struck. Donavan McNabb successfully completes a pass toâ€¦.Roy Williams?? With shades of Neil Oâ€™Donnell still fresh in my head, I canâ€™t say Iâ€™ve ever seen a team receive more game changing gratuitous interceptions in my life. I stand before you a broken man, but regardless, we shall continue to fight the fight. Iâ€™ll take my 9-5 record last week and move forward.
Philadelphia (4-5) @ NY Giants (6-3)
Besides being in the NFC East, what do these teams have in common you ask? How about week 10 meltdowns that resulted in losses they could both ill-afford. While the Giants still sit in good shape, the Eagles and all of their baggage have reached the point of desperation. Rutgers standout Mike McMahon steps in and will lead the offense for an injured Donovan McNabb against a hungry Giants defense that pitched a shutout last week and still lost. McMahon and his happy feet will be sure to generate another good day defensively for the Giants Defense as I see the Giants being too much for the Eagles.
Arizona Cardinals (2-7) @ St. Louis Rams (4-5)
With a number of 6-3 teams ahead of them, the Rams are fighting for playoff survival right now while the Cardinals continue their yearly quest for a top draft pick. Expect the Rams to get back on track with a strong game from Stephen Jackson against the 25th ranked run defense of Arizona while the Cardinals once again return to the air to makeup for a ground game which has been grossly ineffective all season. While this one may be closer then expected, look for the crowd and the turf to give the Rams the edge over the Cardinals.
New Orleans/San Antonio/Baton Rouge Saints(2-7) @ New England (5-4)
The Patriots have set out this week to prove they are the best 5-4 team in football while the Saints just hope that their luggage makes it all the way to New England in time. Will Antowain Smith get his revenge? Can Aaron Brooks motivate his squad to win one for their battered home city? Will Bill Billichick suit up and play DB for his own team? So many story lines, so little interest. Pats win easy.
Oakland Raiders (3-6) @ Washington Redskins (5-4)
The irresistible force vs. the immovable object? Ok, not quite but its somewhat fitting as these two slightly lopsided teams face off against each other. While showing signs of life at times, Washingtonâ€™s offense has been average at best when Brunell hasnâ€™t been on top of his game but that should change against a suspect Raiders Defense. Look for Collins and Moss to try to test the Redskins pass defense early, helping to establish the run with Jordan. In the end, I see the Redskins defense cracking down and holding Moss in check as the Redskins defeat the Raiders at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (2-7)
â€œOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber doorâ€? â€“ Edgar Allen Poe â€œThe Ravenâ€?. Poeâ€™s visitor? It was Coach Billick trying to convince him that heâ€™s still a top echelon coach in the NFL. If it wasnâ€™t for Baltimore owning one of the most pathetic offenses in the NFL, Iâ€™d say this match up was a major trap game for the Steelers. But I canâ€™t see how the Steelers can blow this one, even with UCLA Sophomore superstar turned XFL MVP Tommy Maddox at the helm. The Ravens just plain suck and with a Steelers offense successfully pounding away on the ground, the Ravens wonâ€™t have many opportunities to let Maddox give the game away. I shall Quote the Raven No More as the Steelers win this one easy.
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) @ Tennessee Titans (2-7) **UPSET SPECIAL**
The Jags continue to fight for a wild card spot as they have as much hope of catching Indianapolis for the division as I have of landing Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie in the sack at the same time. Everything says the Jaguars should win this one easy. My gut, which by itself qualifies as a government tax shelter, says otherwise. I see the Titans somehow managing to pull this one out and beat the Jaguars.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (6-3)
Hey, honestly â€“ Do you think Chad Pennington called Michael Vick last week and said, â€œLetâ€™s have a quick chat about taking on the media.â€?? To state the obvious, this is a must win game for both teams, especially faced with an extremely hot Carolina Panthers within their own division. The storylines are great here: Is the resurrection of Chris Simms legitimate or just a flash in the pan? Can Michael Vick stay in the pocket and go toe to toe with a Bucs defense yielding just 165.8yds passing per game. Regardless it should make for a good football game as I see the Bucs managing to pull this one out and keep the heat on Carolina.
Carolina Panthers (7-2) @ Chicago Bears (6-3)
Soldier Field â€“ the home of the infamous lateral field goal attempt. This is one place where the weather report is just as important as game film on your opponent. This should prove to be one heck of a defensive battle between these two Top 10 defenses. Unfortunately for Chicago, their offense just hasnâ€™t reached the same level of play as their defense and that should be the determining factor in this game. The FG kickers may very well decide this game but I see the Panthers pulling this one out against the Bears.
Miami Dolphins (3-6) @ Cleveland Browns (3-6)
Seriously, would the league be that bad off if they didnâ€™t even play this game? They say that when you multiply a negative with a negative it equals a positive. This game may disprove that long established mathematical fact to the dismay of math teachers everywhere. Yes, Gus Ferrotte vs. Trent Dilfer â€“ Does it really get better then this. If Iâ€™m the Browns I try to get Ferrotte to head butt the wall of the stands as he has been â€œhotâ€? lately by recent Dolphins QB standards. Meanwhile back in South Florida, Dolphins fans donâ€™t even know who they play this week, just that they play their yearly Super Bowl against the Jets on December 18th. This match up is so bad I canâ€™t even concentrate on it anymore. Itâ€™s cold in Cleveland this time of year and donâ€™t think the Fish donâ€™t know that. (Thatâ€™s a double negative!) Browns win this one at home.
Detroit Lions (4-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
Joey-fever has struck the city of Detroit again as much like a case of the Ron Mexicoâ€™s, Harrington made a guest appearance as a decent QB last week against Arizona. While this weekâ€™s starter in Detroit is still up in the air, the Detroit press has indicated that itâ€™s leaning towards Harrington once again. You know and I know, it doesnâ€™t matter. While the Lions defense should put up a good fight, Dallas will prove to be too much for them as they bring Harrington back to Earth. Cowboys win the early battle for the Thanksgiving Day title and soundly defeat the Lions.
Seattle Seahawks (7-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-7)
This game gets nominated as another trap game candidate after Seattleâ€™s emotional win against St. Louis last week. The Peopleâ€™s Republic of San Francisco recently enacted a ban on guns within their city and apparently the 49ers took it a little bit too far because theyâ€™ve yet to find an effective quarterback since shipping Rattay out of town. Look for Alexander to pad his rushing title stats again as the he and Hasselbeck take on a Niners defense that is allowing a league high average of 29.2 points per game. Seahawks avoid the trap for another week and beat the Niners easy.
Buffalo (4-5) @ San Diego Chargers (5-4)
This game could easily prove to be the season for either squad as they both face the possibility of falling behind in the developing wild card race. Buffalo has Tomlinson licking his chops as he enters week 11 facing a Bills defense surrendering 150.7 yards on the ground per game. On the other side of the spectrum, Willis McGahee takes on the best rushing defense in the league, a Chargers squad that is surrendering an average 70.6 yards on the ground. Brees/Tomlinson > Losman/McGahee. And to think I thought Iâ€™d never use math after high school. The Chargers send Buffalo back home with a loss.
NY Jets (2-7) @ Denver Broncos (7-2)
Denver has the 4th ranked run defense in the league and could make it a long day for the flaccid Jets ground game anchored by an ever-aging Curtis Martin. Faced with such opposition, the Jets will be forced to turn to the air and once again put the game in the hands of Wisconsin standout Brooks Bollinger. Meanwhile Jake Plummer is playing some mistake free ball right now. Yes, I said the mustache wearing Jake Plummer. Speaking of that â€˜stache, if you could award the opposition points for bad mustaches, the Jets would start this game up 10-0. Look for Tatum Bell and Mike Anderson early and often as the Jets defense spends another week trying to carry the offense on their backs. I hope the Jets staff brought extra Oxygen. Broncos shouldnâ€™t even make this one close as they bet the Jets.
Indianapolis Colts (9-0) @ Cincinnati Bengals (7-2) **UPSET SPECIAL # 2**
Watch out for flying corks in South Florida. Iâ€™m going out on a limb and saying the Bengals pull this one out. Iâ€™m not even going to go into why, cite statistics or explain my reasoning. Bengals win and the 72 Dolphins are drinking champagne all night Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-4) @ Houston Texans (1-8)
Remember after their week 1 game against the Jets when everyone proclaimed the resurrection of the Chiefs defense and an impending trip to Super Bowl XL for KC? Oh what a difference 8 weeks make. With no offense and no defense, it may be hard for Houston to pull this one off, other than that theyâ€™re set. Fantasy owners of Larry Johnson rest easy, I see a scoring rampage coming on this week. I see no hope for the Texans in this one as KC easily rolls.
Minnesota Vikings (4-5) @ Green Bay Packers (2-7)
Itâ€™s Monday Night matches like these that make one think that flexible scheduling isnâ€™t such a bad idea. Both teams are putrid but Favre enters another dimension when he plays on Monday night at home. This game is going to turn into boxing match where both sides trade a series of jabs until one man is left standing at the end. Packers gold should be replaced by hunters orange this week in the stands meaning only one thing, more ridiculous commentary and rehashing of 15 years of gibberish by John Madden. But I digress, back to football. I see Brad Johnson and Brett Favre having a shootout on prime time television and to all you bettors out there this week, the O/U is 44. Bet the over! Packers pull off their home field Monday Night magic and win.