Sunday, October 23, 2011

NFL 2011: Week 7 picks

So Troy Polamalu gets fined $10,000 for using a cell phone on the sidelines last Sunday? Well, sure, the league doesn't really want players using electronic equipment during a game -- I get that. But Polamalu, who was suffering concussion-like symptoms that knocked him out of the game, just used the phone to call his wife and let her know he was okay. Surely the league can make an exception... no? Either way, he's still my favourite player.

Here he is with Hines Ward and Brett Keisel:


In other news, Richard is becoming more and more insufferable as a result of his recent pick'em success. He's now in first in the little three-man competition we've got going here, and he's quickly moving up the ranks in a Yahoo pick'em group I run. Not a day goes by, it seems, that he isn't gloating, reminding us how he's doing. It isn't trash-talking, it's smugness. But give him credit, he's good at it. He went 11-2 last week and even picked San Fran over Detroit (I wrote that that was a distinct possibility but wasn't prepared to go with it).


We had a great time in Pittsburgh last weekend. What a wonderful city. The game was way too close for comfort, but it never should have been close at all. The Steelers looked great in the first half but slowed down in the second, letting the Jags back in the game, down by just four with the ball on one last drive. It came to that, yes, and those of us in the stands weren't amused.

I'm not sure why this is. Maybe we're just not that good -- if I may use the "we" for my team. But the problem doesn't seem to be ability as much as will and determination. There's a ton of talent on offence, with the potential for a potent passing game to go with some solid RBs, but we just seem to take our foot off the gas. Maybe it's boredom. Maybe such a veteran team lets up a bit too easily whenever the competition is weak. Certainly the Steelers have played down to the level of their competition repeatedly the past several years, leading to some embarrassing losses and otherwise making every game a terribly anxious affair.

And then there's the weird problem of not being able to turn the ball over despite having the #1-ranked D in the league this year. That surely will change. Even with James Harrison, Casey Hampton, and Aaron Smith out, Smith for the season, they still have loads of talent, starting with Polamalu. A few more turnovers could propel them to elite status -- as long as the offence chugs along with an improving o-line giving Big Ben time to make smart decisions, Rashard Mendenhall back to form, and that outstanding group of WRs and TEs spreading the field.


Anyway, let's get to it...

As you may know, my associate editor Richard, a friend of ours nicknamed Comfortable Kid, and I are tracking our picks this year, with posts going up each Sunday at 11 am. We get one point for each correct pick, along with two bonus points if we get our Upset of the Week right. If we get our Lock of the Week wrong, we lose two points as a penalty. Below you'll find our picks, plus comments. First, though, here's how we're doing so far:

Last week

RKB: 11-2 (plus upset) = 13 points 
The Kid: 9-4 = 9 points
MJWS: 9-4 = 9 points

Season to date

RKB: 64-26 (3 upsets right, 1 locks wrong) = 68 points
MJWS: 63-27 (2 upsets right, 1 locks wrong) = 65 points
The Kid: 56-34 (2 upsets right, 3 locks wrong) = 54 points

Here are this week's games:

Seattle at Cleveland
Atlanta at Detroit
Houston at Tennessee
Denver at Miami
San Diego at N.Y. Jets
Chicago at Tampa Bay (in London, England)
Washington at Carolina
Kansas City at Oakland
Pittsburgh at Arizona
St. Louis at Dallas
Green Bay at Minnesota
Indianapolis at New Orleans
Baltimore at Jacksonville

Stickings' Pickings

Picks: Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Miami, N.Y. Jets, Chicago, Washington, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Green Bay, New Orleans, Baltimore.

Some tough ones this week, and I know I'm going against Richard in many of the early games. Given how well he's been doing, that worries me.

-- Cleveland over Seattle: A possible upset for a Seahawks team coming off a shocker over the Giants last week, but I'll take the "east coast" team at home over a west coast visitor. With the NFL package, I usually watch at least a bit of every game (even flipping around during breaks in the Steelers game). I may make an exception for this one. Is there any reason to watch, let alone care? Not unless it's fantasy-related.

-- Detroit over Atlanta: You know, the Lions haven't been that great this year, despite a great record. A lot of close games, a lot of come-from-behinds. And Matt Ryan plays well in domes. You never know.

-- Houston over Tennessee: Sure, Houston minus stud WR Andre Johnson and (when he's healthy, which is never) stud LB Mario Williams, but there's still Arian Foster to lead the way, and still a lot of talent in the passing game. And the Titans' early-season success, up until getting crushed by the Steelers, was a mirage.

-- Miami over Denver: Another game I may not watch at all... well, no, there's Tim Tebow (see The Kid's hilarious report below). I find his brand of evangelical Christianity sickening, but by all accounts he's a really nice guy. And while he may not be much of QB yet, and may never be much of one, there's no denying his appeal. Why am I picking the Dolphins again? Oh right, they're at home, Tebow doesn't exactly have great weapons to work with, and the Broncos' D sucks.

-- Jets over San Diego: I don't know. I just don't know. If it's Rivers vs. Sanchez, the Chargers win in a rout. But the Jets still have a good D and might just be able to manufacture a tough win at home.

-- Chicago over Tampa Bay: It's at Wembley in London, meaning there's no home team. The Bucs have been wildly inconsistent, losing 48-3 to the Niners before beating the Saints last week. So are they good or not? The Bears have been inconsistent, too, but I like what I saw last week, keeping enough protection to give Jay Cutler time to make the most of his mediocre WRs (suggesting that the obstacle to a decent passing game in Chicago is offensive "guru" Mike Martz, who likes to spread the field and leave his QB vulnerable) and letting vastly underrated Matt Forte prove he's one of the top all-around "skill" players in the game, the heir to the likes of Marshall Faulk (who thrived under Martz in St. Louis) and Priest Holmes.

-- Oakland over Kansas City: I'm tempted to take KC, given that Boller is likely starting for the Raiders, but... ah, whatever, let's stay with the home team.

I'll have more on the later games below...

Lock of the Week: New Orleans

Could be any of the favourites in the later / prime-time games: Pittsburgh, Dallas, Green Bay, Baltimore, maybe even Oakland (even without Palmer starting, though KC has shown signs of life recently). But I'm going with the Saints.

The Steelers could struggle against a former coach (Ken Whisenhunt used to be the Steelers' offensive coordinator), particularly if they take the Cards too lightly and are looking ahead to upcoming home games against the Pats and Ravens the next two weeks instead of focusing on the task at hand. The Cowboys should clobber the Rams, particularly with Romo out to prove he's not a detriment to the team (and that the coaches can trust him), and the Rams won't have Sam Bradford to throw the ball to newly-acquired WR Brandon Lloyd, but this one could be closer than expected with A.J. Feeley looking to prove he's not entirely washed up. I could pick the Packers every week, but what's the fun in that? Besides, it's possible the Vikes rebound from a terrible Sunday-night showing against the Bears and actually put some pressure on Aaron Rodgers. There's no way rookie QB Christian Ponder keeps up, but they do have all-day Adrian Peterson. This one could also be closer than expected. The Ravens shouldn't have a problem with the Jags, but, again, I'll take the home team (Saints) coming off a loss. The Colts could put up some points, but there's no way Curtis Painter will be able to match Drew Brees.

Upset of the Week: Washington.

It's either the Redskins or the Seahawks, but I'm taking the Browns over the latter, leaving me with only one choice. Switching from Rex Grossman to John Beck likely won't make much of a difference, but I suspect Mike Shanahan will find a way to keep the Panthers' rookie sensation Cam Newton in check and to get just enough out of Beck to win a squeaker. No, I don't feel comfortable with this pick at all.

Barry's Tea Leaves

Picks: Seattle, Detroit, Houston, Denver, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Green Bay, New Orleans, Baltimore. 

Lock of the Week: New Orleans.

Upset of the Week: Seattle.

Seattle vs. Cleveland will not be a pretty football game. I'm still smarting from the Seahawks' win against my Giants, and maybe that's why I think they are better than they really are. The Browns can't throw the ball. The Seahawks can't defense the pass. It'll be one of those games. Matchups that don't matter and somebody winning because someone has to. Call it Seattle.

Everyone is going to pick Detroit to beat the Falcons. It will be interesting to see how the Lions come back after their first loss, though. Good teams shake off loses, and the Lions will have to prove they can do that. The Falcons are weak against the pass and Stafford can light it up. The Lions are weaker against the run, so if Atlanta can play a ball-control game and keep the score low they might have a shot. It's the Lions to lose, and they won't.

I picked up Hasselbeck to fill in for Eli on my fantasy team this week, so I'm hoping the Titans do well. I'm still picking the Texans to win. Should be a very good game with no real reason to assume that one team will dominate. As they say, it'll come done to turnovers and quirky things. That's my guess.

Okay, okay, the Tebow era begins in Denver. And what a cream-puff game for him to get his start. The Dolphins really suck. Denver wins.

The Jets are at home against the Chargers, which could be a significant fact. I'll pick the Chargers, though. Rivers vs. Sanchez. Jets weak against the run. Chargers strong against the pass. The Jets just aren't going to do much this year, and they are not the class of New York City. Not now. Sorry, Rex.

Tampa and Chicago? Closely matched. Close game. Hard to know which Josh Freeman will show up. And I have liked Jay Cutler this year, despite the fact that the rest of his team has failed to show up on a fairly regular basis. Bucs by a hair.

The Redskins go into week seven with QB problems. Grossman started off the season well, but who really thought things would end that way? Anyone? Anyone? And John Beck? Not yet. Maybe not ever. No, Rex, the Redskins are not going to win anything this year. Still, Newton is now showing that he can, given a chance, play like the rookie he is, and the Redskins can play defense. I'm going with the Panthers. The early-season hype is over for D.C.

The Raiders vs. the Chiefs? Carson Palmer rides into Oakland on a white horse, which would be an interesting thing to see if he were to actually do it. Lots of variables with a brand-new QB no matter what his skill level. It's just that KC has been really bad at times this year and I think the Raiders will step it up for the new guy. [Ed. note: It looks like perennial backup extraordinaire Kyle Boller will be starting for the Raiders this week, with Palmer on the bench. But Palmer will take over sooner rather than later. You don't (insanely) give up two first-rounders (and more) for a bench guy. -- MJWS] I picked up Jackie Battle for my fantasy team to fill in for Ahmad Bradshaw in the Giants' bye week. Sadly, I was one of those poor bastards who had Jamaal Charles at the start of the season. Maybe someone in Kansas City can produce for me. Anyway, Raiders here.

Pittsburgh is starting to play Steelers football and Kolb has not been what Arizona hoped he would be. Unless something odd happens, Pittsburgh should be fine.

If Dallas can't beat the Rams, it is over, over, over for them. Romo should have a big game if he doesn't throw the ball with his eyes closed too much, which he sometimes seems to do.

Green Bay vs. Minnesota; New Orleans vs. Indy; and the Ravens and the Jags. Not gonna waste the key strokes. If anyone is picking against the favourites here, they should have their football prognostication licence pulled. (Of course, the moment you say that, one of these teams will probably lose. Nah.)

Comfortable Kid

Picks: Seattle, Detroit, Houston, Denver, San Diego, Chicago, Carolina, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Green Bay, New Orleans, Baltimore.

Lock of the Week: New Orleans. (NO after a loss at home against Curtis Painter.)

Upset of the Week: Seattle.

Who wants to talk about Tim Tebow? Alongside everyone else in the world who likes football, Jesus, trucks, and children's happiness, I do.
As the all-American hero and super-prophet will start this Sunday against Miami, I figured I would investigate, and report on, some of the things beat writers were saying about Him -- I mean, Tim. It's hard to believe these are true, but I'll rifle off the facts I've uncovered about Tim not only as a football player but as the man you wish you were:

  • Death once had a near-Tebow experience.
  • When Batman needs help, he turns on the Tebow signal.
  • The Double Rainbow cries when it sees Tim Tebow.
  • Tim can see the forest and the trees at the same time.
  • When Tebow touches water, it turns to Gatorade.
  • Tebow can access Wii Channels on his PS3 through Xbox Live.
  • Tim Tebow shot the sheriff and the deputy.
  • Santa asks Tim Tebow for Christmas gifts.
  • Tim Tebow used to set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.Cars look both ways in case Tim Tebow is crossing the street.
  (Credit: @tebowisms)

(Photos: Along with Polamalu, a couple of the best safeties in the game, LaRon Landry of the Redskins and Ed Reed of the Ravens. I could have included the Chiefs' Eric Berry, who was on my fantasy team until he tore his ACL in Week 1 and was lost for the season.

Actually, free and strong safety are deep positions these days, with the Titans' Michael Griffin and Chris Hope, the Dolphins' Yeremiah Bell, the Patriots' Patrick Chung, the Jets' Eric Smith, the Bills' Jairus Byrd, the Colts' Antoine Bethea, the Chargers' Eric Weddle, the Redskins' Oshiomogho Atogwe (making up a nice pair with Landry), the Giants' Antrel Rolle, the Packers' Morgan Burnett, the Saints' Roman Harper, the Buccaneers' Sean Jones, the Cardinals' Adrian Wilson, the Rams' Quintin Mikell, the Seahawks' Earl Thomas, and others I've neglected to mention playing well this season or, if not, being consistent defensive staples the past few years, core members of their teams' defensive units.

And, of course, that's Tim Tebow -- in University of Florida garb, because, let's face it, he hasn't done much at the pro level yet.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home