The Vikings' quarterback seemed to regress in his second season. Did that tell us more about the player, or the Minnesota offensive scheme?
30 Nov 2005
by Al Bogdan and Vivek Ramgopal
Vivek: With five weeks left to go in the 2005 NFL season, we are pretty certain of a few things.
Sorry about the random wrestling reference, but it seemed appropriate on the heels of last weekend's Survivor Series. All you long-time Scramble for the Ball readers know that we have gently massaged WWE mentions into columns of past, but we apologize for our slacking this year. In a stretch to make it up, we're incorporating a wrestling theme for Scramble's look at the playoff contenders. We'll also throw in some bold predictions while we're at it to double our chances of getting something wrong.
Al: Far be it from us to run a reference too deeply into the ground: we'll award each team a finishing move based on its likelihood of making the playoffs and that move's relative effectiveness. Here are the rankings we'll be using:
Doomsday Device -- No one ever kicked out of the Road Warriors' double team finisher. A hapless victim was placed on top of Animal's shoulders while Hawk climbed to the top rope and leaped off to deliver a flying clothesline. You were lucky if the worst that happened to you after the Doomsday Device was losing the match. The unlucky ones, like the immortal Henry O. Godwinn, suffered a broken neck. These are teams who are locks to make the playoffs.
Stone Cold Stunner -- Steve Austin's modified front facelock into a jawbreaker would usually mean the end to his opponent. But there were rare occasions when just one stunner wouldn't get the job done. Against a midcard opponent on an episode of Raw, the Stunner always ended the match. But against The Rock in a Wrestlemania main event? One stunner wasn't going to get the job done. Sometimes another stunner or two would lead to a win, but on rare occasions even that wouldn't lead to a pinfall. These are teams that we're pretty sure are going to make the playoffs, but could get knocked out if a few things break in other teams' directions.
Figure Four -- Whooo! To be the man, you've got to beat the man! And how Ric Flair used to regularly beat his opponents was to entangle their legs into a figure four leglock until the opponent was screaming in agony. Unfortunately, Flair has gone to that well a few hundred times too often, and it's rarely enough to make an opponent submit anymore. These are teams at the borders of playoff contention. If a team is either in or out because of an arcane tiebreaker, odds are this is the ranking they'll get.
The Worm -- Easily the worst finishing move of all time. There's nothing devastating about someone doing a break dance across the ring followed by a simple forearm shot across the opponent's chest. These are teams that have no shot at making the playoffs.
Current Position: NFC West Leader
Remaining Games: @ PHI, SF, @ TEN, IND, @ GB
Al: The Seahawks clinch their division with another win or a Rams loss. With their upcoming schedule, Seattle should go at least 4-1, if not 5-0. If the Chargers don't give the Colts their first loss of the year, I think Seattle will be the team to do it. The Colts' biggest strength on defense, their stellar defensive line, will be neutralized by one of the best, if not the best, offensive lines in football. Doomsday Device.
Bold Prediction: The 14-2 Seahawks get knocked out by the Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Vivek: Not even a Doomsday Device finisher can knock the Seahawks off their perch atop the NFC. If the Texans could have fielded an onside kick last week, we would be looking at a division champion crowned after only 11 games.
Bold Prediction: Shaun Alexander breaks Priest Holmes' single season touchdown record of 27.
Current Position: NFC North Leader
Remaining Games: GB, @ PIT, ATL, @ GB, @ MIN
Al: Yes, the Vikings are still hanging around two games back, but at a minimum, with two games left against the Packers, Chicago should get to ten wins. That will be enough to hold off the Vikings because the Bears' victory over the Panthers will likely give Chicago the advantage in the common opponent tiebreaker over Minnesota.
The tiebreaker proceeding won't get that far, however, as the Bears run the table until resting their starters in Minnesota in Week 17. Doomsday Device.
Bold Prediction: Super Bowl Champs. They have the one defense in the NFC that has a shot at stopping Indianapolis indoors.
Vivek: Doomsday Device. My tag team partner is right on point. Those two games against the Packers will be enough to hold off the Vikings, even if they drop the other three.
Bold Prediction: The Bears knock off the Panthers (again) in the second round of the playoffs before falling short of the Super Bowl.
Current Position: NFC East Leader
Remaining Games: @ NYG, KC, @WAS, @CAR, STL
Al: This week's game on the road in New York is a must win if they want to hold off the Giants for the NFC East. Like the Von Erichs, these Dallas â€˜boys won't have much success plying their wares up north.
That would leave Dallas a game behind New York with four games to play. Let's say Dallas wins both its home games and splits their road games, finishing at 10-6. The Cowboys would need the Giants to play below .500, or go .500 while losing the right games to give Dallas a tie breaker advantage based on either division record or common opponents.
Even if they don't win the division, however, 10-6 should be enough for Dallas to win the wild card. I'm predicting that three teams will finish in the NFC at 10-6, with the tiebreaker coming down to the â€œstrength of victoryâ€? tiebreaker -- the combined winning percentage of all the opponents that a team has defeated. The Cowboys' victories earlier in the year over San Diego and New York should be enough to hold off the other teams that I think will be tied with them for the final wild card spot. Figure Four.
Bold Prediction: The Cowboys select a defensive back named LaMarcus in the 2006 draft.
Vivek: Doomsday Device. A win this weekend against the Giants could essentially clinch the division for the Cowboys, and I think that is how the game will play itself out. The Cowboys' four losses have come by a total of 16 points, and the team should make it to 10 wins on the season. Drew Bledsoe is having the finest season of his career because he is not flinging the ball around 40+ times per game. The Cowboys do not need Bledsoe to show off what is left of his arm: only 22 percent of his pass attempts are for more than 21 yards, compared to numbers in the high 20s in years past. Not coincidentally, Bledsoe is completing a career-high 64 percent of his pass attempts.
Bold Prediction: Bill Parcells is ousted from the playoffs by his former quarterback's son.
Current Position: NFC South Leader
Remaining Games: ATL, TB, @NO, DAL, @ATL
Vivek: Doomsday Device. Carolina by far has the hardest schedule left out of any playoff contender in the NFC, so they will be playoff tested come Week 18. The Carolina defense carried the team for the third consecutive game and has been getting to the quarterback better than any team in the last six weeks. Defense will give this team the NFC South title.
Bold Prediction: DeShaun Foster becomes a top fantasy play for the rest of the season.
Al: I have the Panthers splitting their games against Atlanta, and winning on the road against the Saints and at home against Dallas. Those three wins should be more than enough to get South title. Unfortunately for Carolina, 11 wins won't be enough for a first round bye. The Carolina offense is not good enough to score on the Bears defense in Chicago, or outscore the Seahawk offense in Seattle, meaning the Panthers do not make it out of the divisional round of the playoffs. Stone Cold Stunner.
Current Position: NFC Wild Card
Remaining Games: DAL, @PHI, KC, @WAS, @OAK
Vivek: Stone Cold Stunner. Want to know how badly those missed field goal attempts at Seattle hurt? The Giants could have been in the driver's seat for the top seed in the NFC playoffs, but now they are tied for the last wild card slot. A win on Sunday would have given the G-men the most wins in the NFC, a tiebreaker against the Seahawks and a one game lead on the Cowboys heading into Sunday's matchup. Still, the Giants should finish the season with a 3-2 record, just barely enough for the playoffs in the highly competitive NFC.
Bold Prediction: Eli Manning outguns former New York quarterback Kerry Collins 350 yards to 320 yards in the season finale, assuring the Giants of the fifth seed in the NFC.
Al: Take this with a grain of salt or two because of my Giants bias, but New York is going to beat Dallas at home this Sunday and virtually lock up the division title. True, the Giants are on the road for three of their last four games, but all three games are against teams that are falling apart. Even if New York keeps up its yearly tradition of losing in Philadelphia, the Giants can beat the Chiefs at home and win out on the road to finish at 11-5. Stone Cold Stunner.
Bold Prediction: Brandon Jacobs doesn't have another carry inside the five-yard line this year.
Current Position: NFC Wild Card
Remaining Games: @NO, @CAR, @NE, ATL, NO
Al: With two games against New Orleans left on the schedule, Tampa is going to have to try very hard not to finish with at least ten wins. All they need is one game out of the remaining three where Anthony Davis and Kenyatta Walker don't let the opposing defensive ends run right around them like they did against Chicago. Ten wins likely only puts the Buccaneers in a tie for a playoff spot. If my projected three team tie happens, the Bucs should hold on for the number six seed because of the strength of their victories. Figure Four.
Bold Prediction: Cadillac Williams wins the offensive rookie of the year award after he puts up big numbers with three games against New Orleans and Atlanta.
Vivek: Stone Cold Stunner. I was calling for Jon Gruden to pull Chris Simms after his first two starts, in which he looked completely lost with the pro game. I will be the first to give him some credit back, as he has thrown for 250 yards in three of his last four games and has had only one pass picked off. Tampa Bay will have the Falcons on their tails until the last week of the season, but an easier schedule will make the difference.
Bold Prediction: See Bold Prediction for Dallas
Current Position: Tied, Second NFC South
Remaining Games: @CAR, NO, @CHI, @TB, CAR
Al: Atlanta is likely the odd team out from the NFC South. The Falcons' strength on offense this year, like it was last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, has been its running game. The Falcons get to face three of the top six run defenses in the league in four of their last five games. Atlanta needs to win three of their last five to get into the tiebreaker mix, but with the strength of their team neutralized I don't see it happening. Figure Four.
Vivek: Michael Vick has suddenly become an effective pocket passer while T.J. Duckett and Warrick Dunn continue to anchor one of the best running games. Another thing that the Falcons have going for them is the fact that they can win on the road (4-1), which will be a mental boost against Chicago, Tampa Bay and Carolina. The bad news is that the Falcons still have to play Chicago, Tampa Bay and Carolina (twice). Unless they win three out of those four games, it looks like Vick's improvement will be for naught. Figure Four.
Bold Prediction: Michael Vick has an 88.0 passer rating for the last five games of the season.
Bolder Than That: The Falcons, looking to equal the Panthers defense, sign former Georgia linebacker and WCW Heavyweight Champion Bill Goldberg.
Current Position: Second, NFC South
Remaining Games: @DET, STL, PIT, @BAL, CHI
Al: So if the Falcons aren't a part of my three-way dance for the NFC Wild Card, who do I predict to be the third 10-6 team? That's right, the Vikings. The Minnesota defense has been steadily improving all year, lead by Darren Sharper and his six interceptions in the past four games. The Vikings should have no problem dispatching the Lions, Rams, and Ravens if they can keep up this pace. They're going to lose at least one game, however, to the Steelers and/or Bears. Tiebreakers won't be too kind to Minnesota because of the weak opposition they beat to get those ten wins. Figure Four.
Vivek: Too little, too late. Nine wins is attainable, but the Vikings need a collapse by the Bears to take the division. The playoffs are slipping out of that Figure Four leg lock.
Bold Prediction: We won't be hearing anymore Party Boat jokes after the Vikings win this week.
Current Position: Third, NFC East
Remaining Games: @STL, @ARI, DAL, NYG, @PHI
Vivek: Joe Gibbs' conservative system has been exposed in November, as the Redskins have blown three straight fourth quarter leads. With the lead, the Redskins prefer to run up the middle when Clinton Portis is best suited to get outside and turn the corner against opposing defenses. I'm not saying that a team has to pass in order to be aggressive, but calling short inside runs is far from aggressive. The Redskins will need to win out in order to make the playoffs, so Worm.
Bold Prediction: Jason Campbell sees his first dose of NFL action in Week 15 against the Giants.
Bolder Than That: Lavar Arrington leaves the Redskins after the season to pursue a career as a driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Al: The Redskins will be lucky to finish at .500 with three division games and three road games remaining. Mark Brunell has been battling calf and groin problems for the past month, which has really hurt the Redskins offense. After blowing their game on Sunday against San Diego, the Redskins have no chance of sniffing the playoffs. Worm.
Current Position: Fourth, NFC East
Remaining Games: SEA, NYG, @STL, @ARI, WAS
Al: If Philadelphia could somehow beat the Seahawks this week, you never know what could happen. Seattle, however, will likely run over the Eagles defensive line, as everyone else has this year, dashing what little playoff hopes Philadelphia has left. Worm.
Bold Prediction: Mike McMahon plays well enough over the next five games to earn himself a starting job somewhere next season.
Vivek: The Worm isn't going to cut it for the Eagles this year, as they miss the playoffs for the first time since 1999 (coincidentally the last year that McNabb wasn't the full-time starter.)
Bold Prediction: The NFLPA finds a way to get Terrell Owens on the field for the final games of the season, but two wins at the end are not enough to top the .500 mark.
Bolder Than That: Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb kiss and make up after the season, and do a Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial together.
Current Position: Second, NFC West
Remaining Games: WAS, @MIN, PHI, SF, @DAL
Al: It shouldn't be that tough to beat the Texans. Worm.
Bold Prediction: Mike Martz finds himself on the Rams sidelines again by the end of the year, but is hauled away by security after he runs in from the stands to get there.
Vivek: Bold Prediction: Marshall Faulk will be in a different uniform next year.
Current Position: AFC South Leader
Remaining Games: TEN, @JAC, SD, @SEA, ARI
Al: Doomsday Device. The playoffs and #1 seed really aren't in question. The big question is whether the Colts will run the table. Like I said earlier, I think the Seahawks end Indianapolis' streak on the road, but like just like when Kevin Nash ended Bill Goldberg's 173-match unbeaten streak, Seattle may need some outside interference to get the job done. A white Christmas in Seattle, or at least a rainy one, may slow down the Colts' offensive weapons and their speedsters on defense enough to let the Seahawks pull the upset. 15-1 ain't too shabby.
Bold Prediction: Edgerrin James wins the MVP after he outshines LaDainian Tominson in the Colts-Chargers Week 15 matchup.
Vivek: Doomsday Device. The '72 Dolphins will be waiting a while to open that bottle of champagne, as this Colts team will come closer to perfection than any team in recent memory. With Byron Leftwich most likely done for the year, the Colts should make it to Week 15 without a blemish. There are already calls for Tony Dungy to rest his stars in order to protect them for the playoffs, but what the Colts could accomplish is too special. The Colts need to show the rest of the league that they can win on the road (at Seattle) and then they can build an insurmountable lead through one half before pulling starters against Arizona.
Bold Prediction: Just like Curt Hennig, this team will be ... perfect.
Current Position: AFC West Leader
Remaining Games: @KC, BAL, @BUF, OAK, @SD
Al: Doomsday Device. I see Denver going 4-1 the rest of the way, losing only the final game to the Chargers after the Broncos have already locked up the #2 seed. None of the teams they will be facing can stop the run effectively enough to make Jake Plummer do something stupid to cost the Broncos a win.
Bold Prediction: The Broncos rest their starters against San Diego in Week 17, propelling the Chargers into the playoffs. Millions of trees are killed by the countless newspaper columns criticizing Mike Shanahan for destroying the integrity of the playoff race by playing backups against a team fighting for the wild card.
Vivek: What a rush for the Broncos fans. I didn't envision any of the imported Browns (most notably Gerard Warren) having as big of an impact as they have had so far. This team should finish with 12 wins and a first round bye. Doomsday Device
Bold Prediction: Ron Dayne will lead the team in rushing for one more game this season.
Current Position: AFC North Leader
Remaining Games: @PIT, CLE, @DET, BUF, @KC
Al: A win over the Steelers would lock up the division, but even without that, the Bengals' schedule is easy enough that they could win their last four games and take the division title anyway. The only team the Bengals will face over those last four games that has even a mediocre run defense is the Chiefs, who can't stop anyone from throwing the ball, unless those balls are thrown four feet over a receiver's head. Doomsday Device.
Vivek: Doomsday Device. Do you think the Texans keep looking at Carson Palmer and wondering what happened to their number one overall pick?
Bold Prediction: Odell Thurman is named Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Bolder Than That: Chad Johnson will make an appearance on the next season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars in order to prepare some 2006 end zone celebrations.
Current Position: AFC East Leader
Remaining Games: NYJ, @BUF, TB, @NYJ, MIA
Vivek: The Pats will easily take another division crown, but the competition within the AFC East is nowhere near what it has been in years past. With a 4-1 finish within reach, the Pats will end the season with a record that surpasses their actual performance on the field. Injuries to the entire secondary, the practice squad secondary, and the defensive backs for Brockton High School have proven too much for even Bill Belichick to overcome. Once the playoffs hit, it will be a Rude Awakening for New England. Doomsday Device.
Bold Prediction: Someone that most fans have never heard of and who was not on the roster to start the season will come up with a game-changing play each week.
Al: I'll go one better and give the Patriots five straight wins to finish the season with an 11-5 record. Doomsday Device.
Current Position: AFC Wild Card
Remaining Games: @CLE, IND, SF, @HOU, TEN
Vivek: The Jaguars' playoff chances are slipping away like a man who has just had the Figure Four reversed on him. Or even more accurate, someone just slapped the ankle lock onto the Jags, specifically Byron Leftwich. The Jaguars were probably the quietest eight-win team in the NFL this season, and were ready to make a move in the AFC with a weak remaining schedule. Now without Leftwich and possibly Fred Taylor for the stretch run, ten wins looks like the most realistic projection in a conference where a team needs 11 wins to make it into the playoffs with a Wild Card.
Bold Prediction: The Jaguars fall flat without their two best offensive weapons and lose to two of the three games against Cleveland, Houston and Tennessee.
Al: I like Cleveland's chances of pulling an upset this week, but those last three games are too easy for Jacksonville not to make the playoffs at 11-5. Stone Cold Stunner.
Current Position: AFC Wild Card
Remaining Games: CIN, CHI, @MIN, @CLE, @DET
Vivek: How big does that 24-22 win in Week 5 against the Chargers look right now? That tiebreaker against the Chargers is the only thing giving the Steelers the last playoff spot in the AFC right now, but that could all change come Monday night against the Bengals. A win at home on Monday would vault the Steelers over the Bengals and into the third spot and home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. A loss, however, could help three AFC West teams make it into the playoffs. The Steelers have a Figure Four lock on the playoff spot
Bold Prediction: The Steelers lose at home to the Bengals and never recoup their season.
Bolder Prediction: The entire city of Pittsburgh is so distraught over the loss that all restaurants stop selling the Roethlis-burger in favor of the St. Pierre Sandwich.
Al: If Pittsburgh goes 11-5, I don't think they'll make the playoffs. They'll drop one of the next three to fall to five losses. The Steelers don't do well in any potential tiebreaker situations, except heads up against San Diego, because of Pittsburgh's loss to Jacksonville and their poor conference record. Figure Four.
Current Position: Tied, Second NFC West
Remaining Games: OAK, MIA, @IND, @KC, @DEN
Vivek: While I think that the Chargers will make the playoffs, they need some help, most notably from Cincinnati this coming weekend against Pittsburgh. This is why the Chargers have a Figure Four hold on a playoff slot in my mind. LaDainian Tomlinson ended his week with a 41-yard touchdown run and should keep that momentum going for the rest of the season. LT will continue his march toward becoming the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.
Bold Prediction: The Chargers knock off the Broncos (who are resting Jake Plummer and the rejuvenated Ron Dayne) in the season finale to clinch the final playoff spot in the AFC.
Bolder Than That: After the season, Antonio Gates pulls an LT and wrestles at Wrestlemania 22.
Al: San Diego can get into the playoffs even if Pittsburgh beats the Bengals. All they need is for another team to finish at 11-5 with both them and the Steelers to eliminate Pittsburgh's head-to-head tiebreaker advantage. Even though they wouldn't make the playoffs if the season ended today, the Chargers are a Stone Cold Stunner for me.
Current Position: Tied, Second NFC West
Remaining Games: DEN, @DAL, @NYG, SD, CIN
Al:Toughest schedule remaining in the league, whether ranked by DVOA or opponent's winning percentage. It's not unrealistic to think the Chiefs could lose out and actually finish with a losing record. Expecting a team at 7-4 not to win another game the rest of the season may be a bit extreme, but Kansas City won't be a favorite in any of their remaining games, unless the Bengals have their playoff position locked up in Week 17 and rest their starters. With so many teams projected to finish with 11 or 12 wins, very little will be settled before the season is over, however. Worm.
Vivek: Ah, some contention here. The Chiefs were a preseason pick of mine, and I'm sticking with them, probably too much because of last week's win against the Patriots. They will need some tiebreaker help, but can make it in. Figure Four
Al: Worm. If you can't get to 11 wins, you're not making the playoffs in the AFC. Where did all the parity go?
Vivek: â€¦ unless he can hit 90-percent of his 60-yard field goal attempts. Has anyone else noticed the drastic increase in the number of missed field goals under pressure? Neither studs out of college nor undrafted rookies demonstrated any sort of consistency this year. Take a look at the Jets' Mike Nugent, who has failed to erase memories of Doug Brien. Or 2000 first-round pick Sebastian Jankowski, who has suddenly regressed to his inconsistent form of past. The drafted and undrafted kickers (Jay Feely, Matt Bryant, John Hall) are going to have the same result through the full course of a season.
Al: If there was ever an offensive line built for Ron Dayne, it's one that makes holes so big even he can't miss them.
Vivek: Sure, it was a stretch, but admit it -- you had fun with a trip down wrestling memory lane.
Vivek: Jay Feely is the easy pick for the obvious reasons and at times I can be Captain Obvious, but I'll point out another worthy candidate: Casey Rabach. After Shawn Springs intercepted a Drew Brees pass, a holding penalty on center Casey Rabach voided a Clinton Portis rush to the 25-yard line. The Redskins never recouped any of the penalized yards, forcing a 52-yard attempt by John Hall instead of a very makeable 42-yarder. One missed field goal, an Antonio Gates reception, and a hand off to LT later and game over.
Al: There are too many Giants worthy of this award this week. Besides Feely, you have the left side of the Giants offensive line, Luke Petitgout and David Diehl, who combined for nine penalties on the day. Frank Walker somehow managed to have two consecutive false starts while lined up as part of the punt coverage team. It is amazing that the Giants were somehow able to stay in the game at all after giving away 114 yards to the Seahawks on penalties.
Nikki from Boston is one of the many fantasy owners who is a bit unnerved after Byron Leftwich's ankle injury.
Is there any reason to hold onto Leftwich? I have Vick as my starter, but would feel better with a good backup just in case. Mike McMahon, Chris Simms, Brooks Bollinger, Gus Frerote and Kyle Orton are out there.
Vivek: Leftwich is out for at least four weeks, which would render him unless for the rest of the fantasy regular and post seasons. Since his debacle against the Jets, Vick has become a good pocket passer for the first time in his career and a good fantasy option. You always have to worry about one hit taking him out though, so grab Simms. Simms faces four weak pass defenses (New Orleans twice, New England and Atlanta) the rest of the way, so he might be a viable fill-in.
Kyle: This week, I've got a Hugh Hefner sort of problem: so many beautiful options I don't know which two to take. Over the course of the season I've amassed a veritable stable of RBs, and I need advice on which two might have an extra edge this week out of D. Davis, T. Jones, S. Gado, Ru. Johnson, and R. Droughns. Right now I'm leaning towards Davis and Jones based on opponent.
Al: I'd start Rudi Johnson over Davis. Johnson has been a top ten fantasy back this year, while Davis has been a huge disappointment running behind the awful Texans offensive line. Droughns against the Jaguars defense would be a better play this week than Davis would.
Adam: Who gets the start -- Drew Bennett @ Ind, or Derrick Mason v Hou? Also, dropping Randy McMichael for Ben Watson killed me this week -- should I bring him back?
Al: Start Mason. Even Kyle Boller should be able to throw the ball against the Texans. Pick McMichael up now if it's not too late. He should be an every week starter at tight end.
Here are your Loser League All-Stars for Week 12:
QB: Joey Harrington, DET: 3 points (66 passing yards)
RB: Patrick Pass, NE: 2 points (26 rushing yards)
RB: Marion Barber, DAL: 2 points (28 rushing yards)
WR: Antwaan Randle El, PIT: 0 points (2 catches, 5 yards)
WR: 7 players tied with 1 point
And believe it or not, Jay Feely did not finish as the lowest kicker. He was worth one point because he made an extra point and two field goals to go with his three misses.
K: Jeff Reed, PIT: -1 point (XP, missed FG)
This week's best team had not one, not two, but THREE of those one-point wide receivers: Mark Clayton, Antonio Bryant, and Dennis Northcutt. Only two of the counted in the 24 points scored by "pass interference," which also features an all-suck backfield of Kevan Barlow, DeShaun Foster, and Jamal Lewis.
Al: (1-2 last week, 19-13 overall)
How are the Cardinals favored on the road against anyone? This Kurt Warner bandwagon is running a bit too fast for my tastes. The 49ers haven't been bad at home, with wins against St. Louis and Tampa and close losses to Seattle and Dallas.
I'm not sure why oddsmakers are still factoring in a home field advantage for the Saints when they have no home field.
There's a little too much David Garrard hype going around for my liking. Yes, he had a nice game in relief for Byron Leftwich, but it was against Arizona. The Browns have been solid at home, winning three of their last four. Their offense revolves around the juvenated Reuben Droughns, who should have a nice day against the surprisingly mediocre Jacksonville run defense. For all the press that Marcus Stroud and John Henderson get, you'd think the Jaguars would rank higher than 17th in our rushing defense rankings. As long as the Trent Dilfer/Charlie Frye rotation doesn't throw too many interceptions, I like Cleveland's chances to pull off an upset.
Vivek: (4-0 last week, 18-22 overall)
For those of you wondering, Al and I did not mix up our picks last week.
If the line was two touchdowns, I would stay away from this game. That single point makes a whole lotta difference.
The Ravens have no business giving eight points to anyone. I doubt the odds makers would favor the Ravens by eight against the Maryland Terrapins. David Carr and Andre Johnson should build on last week's momentum.
This is completely gut versus any sort of analysis of the statistics. Probably some bias on my part to keep my preseason title contender alive.
The Eagles have dropped four in a row when they are the underdogs.
97 comments, Last at 06 Dec 2005, 3:20am by CaffeineMan