2019 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 17

Well folks, we’ve reached the end of the road…kind of. The NFL still has the playoffs & there are a few more college bowl games remaining (including the national championship), but the final week of the NFL regular season means the last round of picks for us. Last week was a really good one for me (5-0), although Zach (4-1) did pretty darn well too. He’s not going to catch me for the season, but it looks like he’ll finish well above .500, which is atleast 14 games better than a season ago. I finished 2018 five games below .500 and will be solidly above this year, so perhaps we are finally getting the hang of this. Or not. Who knows?? Who cares?? We have fun doing it which is all that really matters. There was no Thursday night game and will be no Monday nighter, meaning all the action takes place on Sunday. So grab a beverage, fix yourself a plate full of whatever Christmas goodies remain, & settle in for a fun day with RedZone.

My Season:     59-40

Zach’s Season:       52-47

 

 

 

 

 

Cleveland (-3)              at                Cincinnati

It’s the Battle of Ohio!! The Bungles have wrapped up the #1 overall pick in next spring’s draft and are preparing to make Heisman Trophy winning QB Joe Burrow’s life miserable (but atleast he’ll be rich). Meanwhile, the Browns came into this season full of piss & vinegar. There were people that actually thought they’d win the AFC North. Alas, the Factory of Sadness is alive & well. QB Baker Mayfield has looked good at times, but something just isn’t clicking. Enigmatic receiver Odell Beckham Jr. apparently wants out of Cleveland already, which has to be some sort of record. Head coach Freddie Kitchens is in way over his head. On paper this looks like a mismatch; Cleveland is talented but underachieving, while Cincy is just a big ol’ mess. Having said that, The Vibes are telling me the home team will defend their turf and put an hilarious exclamation point on yet another pathetic Browns season. Conversely, Zach likes the Browns ground game to lead them to a double digit win.

My Pick:     Cincinnati

Z’s Pick:     Cleveland

 

 

 

Oakland                       at                Denver (-3.5)

The Raiders still have an outside shot to make the playoffs. I’m not going to bother explaining it a) because I don’t even understand it myself & b) it’s not going to happen. Still, kudos to them for continued improvement. Next season the Las Vegas Raiders will make their debut, and that’s when the fun will really begin. The Broncos are going thru some growing pains as well and seem to be treading water. The Joe Flacco Era seems to be over, and going forward Denver will need to decide if Drew Lock is the long term answer at quarterback. This has been a great divisional rivalry over the years and I don’t think it’ll matter that both teams are going to be watching the post-season on TV. I’m picking the home favorites for no real reason, and Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Denver

Z’s Pick:     Denver

 

 

 

Chicago                       at                Minnesota (-1)

Which Trubisky will show up for the Bears?? Who are the Vikings going to grab off the street to play running back?? These will be the burning questions of the day. Minnesota has already locked up a playoff berth, while Chicago just wants to finish a very disappointing season at .500. I don’t foresee a high scoring game, and in a defensive battle in which field position, turnovers, & time of possession will be key factors I think I still trust the Bears defense a little more. Zach thinks Vikings’ QB Kirk Cousins will have a big day and lead his team to victory.

My Pick:     Chicago

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

 

Tennessee (-3.5)                  at                Houston

This is a huge game…especially for us Steelers fans. Yeah yeah…we know, Pittsburgh has to beat Baltimore, which will be no easy task even if they are resting most of their starters. But the Texans MUST defeat Tennessee!! The problem is that Houston is locked into their playoff spot and may very well rest most of their starters just like the Ravens. I’m not even going to try to be objective. My hope is that…even with a team of backups…the Texans find a way to make us all remember why the Dolphins gave up on QB Ryan Tannehill and why he entered this season as a second stringer in Tennessee. Would I be willing to put money on that happening?? Ehhh…let’s not get crazy. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Houston

 

 

 

San Francisco (-3.5)           at                Seattle

Who will be the top seed in the NFC?? San Francisco, Green Bay, New Orleans, & Seattle are all still jockeying for position. The loser of this game will be knocked down a peg, while the winner will almost certainly earn a first round bye. It feels to me like the 49ers may have already peaked, while the Seahawks are just now hitting their stride. ‘Frisco will win a Super Bowl with Jimmy G under center someday, but it’s not going to be this season. The Seattle home field is just too much and I think they’ll handle business rather comfortably. Zach thinks it’ll be close but believes the suddenly unretired Marshawn Lynch could make the difference for the home team.

My Pick:     Seattle

Z’s Pick:     Seattle

2019 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 2

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. – Robert Burns

 

I know what you’re thinking…”Week 2?? What happened to Week 1??”.  Well, your humble Potentate of Profundity made a slight miscalculation. We did actually make picks, but due to a new work schedule (well new since last football season anyway) for myself and a busier than usual weekend I just didn’t get anything written & posted. In years past I could hammer out something quick on Saturday morning before kickoff if necessary, but that’s not the case anymore and last weekend it just messed up the whole deal. At any rate, in life one must learn to occasionally adapt on the fly, so that’s what we’re doing. Zach & I made picks on the following games a week ago: South Carolina/North Carolina, Northwestern/Stanford, Boise St./Florida St., USC/Fresno St., & Oregon/Auburn. Zach went 1-4, while I fared slightly better at 2-3 (thank you Southern Cal for not covering the points). Not exactly the beginning either of us hoped for, but we’ll just move on. The NFL begins their season this week, so to celebrate that and to make up for my previous error it seems like a fine idea to do some bonus picks. Enjoy.

Sam’s Season:   2-3

Zach’s Season:  1-4

 

 

 

 

 

Syracuse           at                Maryland (-2)

So I guess…after almost two decades of futility (with occasional sprinkles of mediocrity)…the Orange is allegedly competitive again. To be fair, they did post a 10-3 record last season and easily handled my WV Mountaineers in a bowl game in which the WVU coaching staff clearly phoned it in. The Terrapins beat the snot out of some junior high team last week, but does that really tell us anything?? I’m not ready to buy into Syracuse being “back” quite yet, but neither do I believe Maryland should be favored…even at home…based on one dominating performance against clearly inferior competition. Where does that leave us?? Well, hopefully with a fairly entertaining game. Zach believes Maryland’s hot start is legit and will continue.

My Pick:     Syracuse

Z’s Pick:     Maryland

 

 

 

LSU (-6)               at                Texas

Neither team was challenged a week ago, but we’ll see what they’re really made of now. If this game was in Baton Rouge the pick would be easy, but at home I think the Longhorns might have a legit shot to win. Texas has a kicker named Cameron Dicker…Dicker the Kicker, which I find entertaining in a juvenile sort of way. My vision is a last second game winning field goal in which Dicker just can’t get the ball where he needs to and falls a bit short. It’s okay. It’s common. It happens to every kicker. It’s no big deal. But atleast in that scenario Texas would cover the points. Zach thinks Texas might be a bit overrated, but also feels like LSU often fails to win big games. He’s calling for the outright upset.

My Pick:     Texas

Z’s Pick:     Texas

 

 

 

Stanford             at                USC (-1)

The Trojans won a tough battle with Fresno St. a week ago, while Stanford beat Northwestern. This game is essentially a pick ‘em, which means the folks in Vegas seem to agree that USC’s abysmal 2018 was a blip on the radar. They have a chance to make a statement by defending their home field and getting a leg up in the Pac 12, and I believe that’s exactly what will happen. Zach likes Stanford’s defense, especially considering USC lost starting quarterback JT Daniels to a torn ACL and will now be led by a freshman QB.

My Pick:     Southern Cal

Z’s Pick:     Stanford

 

 

 

Texas A&M                  at                Clemson (-18)

I’m really looking forward to this game. Fortunately it’s a 3:30pm kickoff, which fits into my day perfectly. A&M has a brutal schedule, and they’ll deserve respect for even becoming bowl eligible. However, I think they’ll do better than that and pull off a couple of upsets this season. Will that happen this week?? Well…no. Clemson is a well-oiled machine whose spot in the playoff is virtually guaranteed. Having said that, I’m a little taken aback by the points. I’m not sure if it indicates just how awesome the Tigers are, or possibly a lack of respect for the Aggies, which in my humble opinion would be a mistake. I don’t believe Clemson will lose, and the game might not be particularly close, but The Vibes are telling me it’ll be a 14-17 point victory. Zach likes Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence & RB Travis Etienne, but feels like A&M is also an improving team. Like me, he thinks the points are just too much.

My Pick:     Texas A&M

Z’s Pick:     Texas A&M

 

 

 

Kansas City (-3)                    at                Jacksonville

The oddsmakers have the Chiefs as one of the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl, and I don’t disagree. There is no question that QB Patrick Mahomes will lead the offense to some big numbers, so if KC’s defense evolves into something they could become almost unstoppable. The Jags usually have a solid defense, but they’ve been lacking where it counts most…behind center. Will QB Nick Foles change that?? Will he continue to be the quarterback that led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Lombardi trophy a couple of years ago?? Or faced with the task of being the unquestioned starter for an entire season will Foles be exposed as the journeyman backup many always thought him to be?? Those questions will be answered in due time, but in this specific contest I don’t believe Jacksonville has the firepower to keep up or a defense elite enough to stop the Chiefs offense. Zach doesn’t think Mahomes will put up MVP numbers like he did a year ago, but winning this game won’t be an issue.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City

 

 

 

Indianapolis                at                LA Chargers (-6)

It’s been just another quiet, uneventful summer in Indianapolis. Well, except for the bombshell retirement of QB Andrew Luck before he even turns 30 years of age. Not to be outdone, the Chargers have been dealing with their own drama in the form of running back Melvin Gordon’s holdout. This game would probably be a lot more interesting with Luck & Gordon both playing, but their absence creates a sense of mystery & intrigue. The Colts’ coaching staff & front office can talk up new quarterback Jacoby Brissett all they want, but he’s got to prove it to me first. I’m rooting for the guy because wide receiver TY Hilton and RB Marlon Mack are integral pieces of my fantasy teams, but the reality is that it’s a huge change. The Chargers might have a bit of a dropoff without Gordon, but I think they’re equipped to weather the storm. Zach believes the Chargers are overrated, but Luck’s abrupt departure has doomed Indy’s season.

My Pick:     LA Chargers

Z’s Pick:     LA Chargers

 

 

 

NY Giants                       at                Dallas (-7)

I’m going to offer an opinion that some may find odd. I believe the Cowboys would have been better off had RB Zeke Elliott’s holdout lasted a few more weeks. I think Dallas will have a nice season and contend for a playoff spot, but in the end they’ll fall short like they always do. It might have been nice for Zeke to have fresher legs going into the last few games of the season. However, in regard to this game I don’t think any of that matters and the Cowboys will handle business easily. Zach concurs, predicting a three TD victory for the favorites.

My Pick:     Dallas

Z’s Pick:     Dallas

 

 

Houston                       at                New Orleans (-7)

This will be the earlier of two games on Monday night, and it should be really fun. My fondness for Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson is well-documented, and the team has made several moves in recent weeks that could prove to be helpful. The RB tandem of Duke Johnson & Carlos Hyde could be sneaky good, and JJ Watt will lead a stellar defense. The problem is that Houston is taking on my Super Bowl favorites in The Big Easy. A loss won’t destroy either team’s season, and I believe both will get into the playoffs. The home field is enough for me to go with the Saints, and Zach agrees, opining that New Orleans will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after being erroneously knocked out of a trip to the Super Bowl last season.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 18

Well sports fans, we’ve reached the end of the road. Another season of picks will soon be in the books. I know the non-sports types out in The Manoverse will be happy about that, and rest assured that there is plenty of content on the drawing table for 2019, provided that I can stay motivated and not give in to my more apathetic tendencies. For those of us that love football there are still a few college bowl games and the NFL playoffs on the horizon. Zach (4-1) smoked me (1-4) last week, which means that it is still mathematically possible (though not likely) for him to win the season crown, while I’ve got some work to do to finish the year above water. I briefly pondered doing a big season ending blowout where we would pick every game on the schedule, but decided against it, though you’re still getting bonus picks. There are no Thursday or Monday night games, meaning that everything is happening on Sunday afternoon except the Sunday night game on NBC. So RedZone will be even more fun to watch than usual. The playoff situation in both conferences is mostly settled, though there are a couple of berths to decide as well as some seeding to resolve. Happy New Year friends. Thanks for reading what we have to say here, and as always don’t ever hesitate to leave comments. I look forward to more fun in 2019.

My Season:     51-56

Z’s Season:     47-61

 

 

 

 

Chicago              at                Minnesota (-5)

If the Bears beat the Vikings and the Rams lose to the 49ers, Chicago would be the NFC #2 seed based on their victory over Los Angeles a few weeks ago. However, if the Rams win (or tie) the Bears are the #3 seed regardless of the outcome of this game. With a win the Vikings could be the #5 seed if the Seattle Seahawks lose or the #6 seed if Seattle wins. Minnesota could even make the playoffs if they lose this game…if the Philadelphia Eagles also lose (or tie). I feel like Chicago has been the more consistent team this season, but with their backs against the wall & the home field I’m riding with the Vikings this week. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

 

LA Chargers (-6.5)               at                Denver

Will the Chargers be the AFC West champs and the #1 seed…or a wildcard #5 seed?? To win the division they need the KC Chiefs to lose (or tie). The Broncos are 6-9, and head coach Vance Joseph might get fired this week regardless of the outcome, although I have to assume an upset victory could help his cause. Denver has the home field, and they did beat the Chargers back in November…but I just don’t think that’s going to happen again. Zach thinks the Broncos are clearly a better team at home, and he’s a little uncomfortable with the points.

My Pick:     LA Chargers

Z’s Pick:     Denver

 

 

Philadelphia (-6.5)                at                Washington

The media has to be pulling for Philly because let’s face it…another improbable playoff run with Nick Foles under center would be a cool story. However, the Eagles have to win and hope Chicago beats Minnesota. I suppose that’s not too far-fetched, and I’d like to see it happen. Can the Redskins play spoiler?? It’s possible, but I’m going to say no. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

Jacksonville                at                Houston (-7)

The Texans could be the #1 seed in the AFC if they win this game and the Chiefs, Chargers, & Patriots all lose, but the odds are against all of that happening. If only New England loses (or ties) then Houston could be the #2 seed. They might end up as the #3 seed with a loss and a tie in the Indianapolis-Tennessee game…an unlikely scenario…or if they win and all of that other stuff doesn’t happen (much more probable). If Houston loses and Colts/Titans doesn’t end in a tie they’ll fall to the #6 seed. Meanwhile, the 5-10 Jags are left to wonder where it all went so wrong this season and can begin the process of evaluating free agent quarterbacks and who they might be able to snag with their first round draft pick. We both feel like Houston should win by a comfortable margin.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Houston

 

 

Oakland                       at                Kansas City (-13.5)

The Chiefs can win the AFC West and secure the #1 seed with a victory or if they tie and the Chargers lose (or tie). I think there are some other possibilities, but it probably doesn’t matter because if KC can’t beat the 4-11 Raiders at Arrowhead they’re in big trouble anyway. Zach doesn’t like the points at all and believes Andy Reid tends to choke in big games.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

 

 

 

Cleveland                              at                Baltimore (-6)

There will be no bigger Browns fans on Sunday than Zach & myself. What it boils down to is this: if the Ravens win they are the AFC North champs and depending on what happens with a couple of other teams could be the #2, #3, or #4 seed, eliminating my Steelers in the process. If Cleveland wins Baltimore is eliminated from the playoffs and the Steelers are in. A year ago I would have already been in a mood of quiet resignation, but I think there’s a chance that the Browns could actually pull this off. Zach believes in Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield to do just enough to lead his team to victory in a low scoring defensive struggle.

My Pick:     Cleveland

Z’s Pick:     Cleveland

 

 

 

Indianapolis (-2)                  at      Tennessee

This is the Sunday night game on NBC, and it should be really fun. Atleast these two teams will have the advantage of knowing exactly where they stand before kickoff. The Colts have to win to get into the playoffs, and they’d either be the #3, #4, or #6 seed, depending on other outcomes. It’s a must-win for the Titans as well, and they could land anywhere from the #2 to the #6 seed in the AFC. After a rough start Indy has won 8 out of their last 9, and I have heard a couple of talking heads state that they’re the team no one wants to face in the playoffs. Tennessee is riding a four game winning streak but QB Marcus Mariota has been battling injuries. Regardless of Mariota’s status I trust Colts’ QB Andrew Luck much more, and I think he’ll find a way to lead his team to a hard fought victory. Zach foresees a high scoring affair, with Indy coming out on top.

My Pick:     Indianapolis

Z’s Pick:     Indianapolis

 

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 17

Time flies when you’re having fun. Isn’t that the common expression?? I can hardly believe that we’re near the end of another football season. It seems like just yesterday the warm summer breeze of August was blowing as we began this journey, and now the cold winds of the holidays are making cozy blankets & hot mugs of cocoa the accessories of choice as we watch another year come to a close. I am pondering a slam bang finish to our entertaining little project next week, but for now we move forward after a week in which Zach (3-2) bested me (1-4) and point spreads were a key difference. He probably doesn’t have much of a chance to catch me for the season crown, but a strong finish is always nice, and I’m just trying to get back above .500.

My Season:        50-52

Z’s Season:        43-60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cincinnati                    at      Cleveland (-8.5)

In my season preview I predicted that for the Browns “winning more games than they’ve won in total over the past couple of seasons would be cause for optimism. If that actually happens then it could mean a last place finish for the Bengals”. As we near the conclusion of the season Cleveland has already won the six games I said they would and they’re currently a half game above Cincinnati in the standings. So basically my prediction comes down to this game, and it just so happens to be in Cleveland. Zach likes the way the Browns have been playing and believes they will win the game…but he isn’t comfortable with the points and doesn’t think they’ll cover.

My Pick:     Cleveland

Z’s Pick:     Cincinnati

 

 

 

 

Green Bay (-3.5)                   at      NY Jets

In that same season preview I gave the Packers eight wins, and said they “are leaning on their reputation but in reality aren’t that good”. As it turns out they’re even worse than I thought. The Jets have also been even worse than I imagined they would be since I predicted they’d get to seven wins. Neither team seems to have any momentum and both seem to be limping to the finish line, so I’m not sure where to go with this one. New York has the home field, so I’ll lean in that direction. Zach thinks both teams are bad but still believes the Jets are worse.

My Pick:     NY Jets

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

 

 

 

 

Houston             at      Philadelphia (-2)

Could history be repeating itself?? Will backup QB Nick Foles spell an injured Carson Wentz, get his team on a run, & lead them back to The Super Bowl?? Ehhh…probably not. I suppose they could still get into the playoffs, but this game is probably a must win, and the Texans have won 10 out of their last 11 games. I am somewhat surprised that Philly…even with the home field…is favored. That seems more than a little disrespectful to Houston, and I’m not buying it. Zach is all in on Foles and is predicting another Philly upset.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

Kansas City (-2.5)      at      Seattle

I was way off in my assessment of the Seahawks. I opined that “Seattle’s Legion of Boom has been relegated to the dust bin of history and their once imposing defense looks totally decimated” before predicting that they’d win only five games. They are currently 8-6 and could clinch a wildcard with a home victory against the celebrated Chiefs, who need to keep winning to secure a division title or else they’ll be one of the best wildcard teams in recent memory. Both teams have plenty of motivation and something to play for…I just think KC is the better team. Zach thinks the home field for Seattle is an advantage that the Chiefs won’t overcome.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Seattle

 

 

 

Denver (-2.5)      at      Oakland

There have already been rumors that Broncos head coach Vance Joseph is about to lose his job. They are 6-8, which is atleast better than the 2-14 I penciled in for them a few months ago, but I suppose when combined with a 5-11 finish a year ago one can understand a lack of patience from the front office. The Raiders are a few games worse than their opponents, but we all know that Gruden will get a pass for a couple of years before the powers-that-be start to get restless. Once this season is finished their focus will quickly turn to the team’s impending move to Las Vegas as well as the three first round draft picks they’ll have this spring. So, while both teams are suffering thru an horrendous season I think it’s fair to say that they are on opposite ends of the hope spectrum. The stark contrast in future outlook might be enough to make a difference. Conversely, Zach foresees Denver scoring an easy victory.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Denver

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 12

It is weeks like this that I am thankful for these silly little football picks that we do. Have you ever experienced one of those moods when you don’t necessarily feel bad but you just don’t have much…pep?? I call it a funk. Perhaps others would refer to it as a malaise or melancholy. It’s not quite depression, but kind of depression light. I get this way on occasion, especially when there is a time change. I’m always able to shake it off eventually, and with the holidays fast approaching I’m confident that I’ll get my mojo back soon enough. Until then there is football, and last week wasn’t half bad for me (5-3), but Zach (3-5) might have a different perspective. At any rate, we’re back to our normal five games for now, with the balance being tipped in the NFL’s favor for once since the college schedule is atrocious. Really Alabama?? You’re playing The Citadel in November?? That’s shameful. The Tide ought to lose their #1 ranking just for that.

 My Season:        30-34

Z’s Season:        26-38

 

 

 

 

 

 

Syracuse           at      Notre Dame (-9.5)

I’m old enough to remember when Syracuse was legitimately good back in the late 80s & early 90s, but they haven’t had a nine win season since 1997. However, they are currently 8-2 and a Top 15 team. The Orangemen aren’t going to be a playoff team or make it to the ACC title game, but could they derail the National Championship dreams of the undefeated Irish?? This is a “neutral site” game being played at Yankee Stadium, which is a good thing because I just can’t enjoy watching games that emanate from The Carrier Dome. It looks too much like an Arena League game and I can’t take it seriously. At any rate, as much as I’d love to see an upset and the resulting playoff upheaval I’m not buying into the Syracuse hype. They’ve played three decent opponents and lost two of those games. I’d love to be wrong, but I think we’re looking at a blowout situation here. Conversely, Zach remembers Syracuse upsetting Clemson a year ago and thinks anything can happen in college football. He won’t go so far as to predict the upset, but believes that ‘Cuse will keep things close enough to cover the points.

My Pick:     Notre Dame

Z’s Pick:     Syracuse

 

 

 

 

Arizona               at                Washington State (-10.5)

I must admit that my initial reason for including this game was purely selfish. I figured it’d give me something to watch that I actually have a stake in during a boring Saturday night at work. But then I remembered that I’m actually off Saturday night!! I’ll probably watch anyhow since it might actually be rather entertaining. The 5-5 Wildcats don’t have the best results, but they are usually fun to watch. Conversely, the Cougars are 9-1 and still have playoff hopes if the dominoes fall just right. The points look a little risky, but I think the home team will cover. Zach thinks Arizona might be building something good for the future, but feels like State is clearly the better team right now.

My Pick:     Washington State

Z’s Pick:     Washington State

 

 

 

 

Houston (-3)                at               Washington

I’m starting Deshaun Watson at QB in my dynasty league this week over Ben Roethlisberger & Marcus Mariota, so the Texans better have a big game. They have taken the lead in the AFC South and have won six straight games after an alarming 0-3 start, so momentum is there. Meanwhile, the Redskins also lead their division, but since the other three teams are terrible I’m not sure it means all that much. It is interesting that the home team has been deemed the underdogs by the oddsmakers, but I am inclined to agree. Zach thinks Washington is overrated while Houston is on a roll.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Houston

 

 

 

 

Minnesota                    at                Chicago (-3)

Who’d have believed a couple of months ago that the Bears…even with the home field…would be favored in this game?? However, after trading for sackmaster Khalil Mack things have gone very well for the division leaders, especially with second year QB Mitch Trubisky looking like a legit first rounder. Conversely, the Vikings have been somewhat disappointing. At 5-3-1 they are hardly awful, and could take the division lead with a victory, yet I can’t help but feel like they’ve underperformed thus far. Chicago is certainly capable of scoring 30+ points, but I don’t think that’ll happen against Minnesota’s defense. This feels like a 21-ish to 17-ish kind of game, and I’m going to trust Kirk Cousins to get that one extra score on Sunday night.. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

 

 

Kansas City                at                LA Rams (-2.5)

This game was supposed to be played in Mexico City on Monday night, but apparently raging wildfires in Los Angeles are still less of a threat than a football field in Mexico that looks like the golf course at the end of Caddyshack after Bill Murray bombed the hell out of it trying to kill the gopher, so back to California it is. Could this be a Super Bowl preview?? Maybe. The Patriots, Steelers, & Saints might all have a say in that particular debate, but right now the Chiefs & Rams look like the two best teams in the NFL. Los Angeles suffered their first defeat a couple of weeks ago, but are averaging about 34 points per game with RB Todd Gurley already near the 1000 yard rushing mark. KC can score a lot of points too, so I’d definitely take the over in this one. With two prolific offenses I assume the outcome will be decided by special teams & turnovers. I’m sure ESPN would love a high scoring shootout that comes down to a last second field goal, and I wouldn’t mind either. It’s pretty much a pick ‘em game, but I think I like the underdogs to pull off a mild upset, and so does Zach.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 4

kickoff_footballThe mediocrity continues. Zach & I both went 2-3 last week. He correctly predicted Louisville’s destruction of Florida St., an outcome I still can’t wrap my mind around, while the Buckeyes of Ohio St. didn’t let me down. I’m stunned that the L.A. Rams actually won and that Minnesota somehow beat Green Bay in the first game in the Vikings new stadium. The NFL season is difficult to figure out just yet, but we have seen injuries take their toll and some young stars begin to emerge. Half of the teams in my pre-season college Top 10 have already lost a game. If I were getting paid to do this I’d have a lot of explaining to do, but thankfully we’re just having some fun.

My Season:     8-9

Z’s Season:     6-11

 

 

 

 

 

Florida      at      Tennessee (-6.5)

tennessee_volunteers_football_iphone_wallpaperThe Volunteers are very quietly hovering just outside the Top 10 with a 3-0 record and victories over…well…nobody in florida gators imageparticular, unless you want to give them kudos for beating Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway a couple of weeks ago. The Gators are also 3-0, in the Top 20, and haven’t really played anyone, but their defense has only allowed 14 points thru three games, and that’s impressive no matter what kind of cupcakes a team has beaten up on. Having said that, we cannot overlook the fact that their starting QB is injured. The good thing is that Florida’s backup signal caller is a graduate transfer who started 11 games in four seasons at Purdue, so that is atleast better than some 18 year old freshman being thrown into his first taste of bigtime college football in front of 100k fans on the road. Did you know that Florida has won this matchup 11 straight times?? Can they make it 12?? Ehhhhh…I don’t think so. Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs is a real talent who will be playing on Sundays in the not-so-distant future, and I think he is the difference. This will be a close one, but I think Tennessee covers the points. Conversely, Zach isn’t sold on Tennessee…at all. He thinks the Gators will win easily.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Florida

 

 

Stanford (-3)      at      UCLA

ucla_bruins2The talking heads are really pushing Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey as a leading Heisman contender and I have no reason to photo.stanfordtreeargue. In two games McCaffrey, a hybrid RB/WR, has over 400 total yards and four TDs, and both victories were against solid competition. Stanford doesn’t blow the doors off of anything, but they get the job done. Meanwhile, the Bruins are 2-1 after the season opening overtime loss to Texas A&M. UCLA doesn’t even get the respect of a home field advantage, and I think that might be a mistake. For no reason in particular I’m going to venture out on a limb and predict the upset. Afterall, with my record what do I have to lose, right?? Zach is riding the Heisman hype and thinks Stanford will win by a touchdown.

My Pick:     UCLA

Z’s Pick:     Stanford

 

 

Penn St.    at      Michigan (-19)

I chose this game simply because of the challenging point spread. I have no doubt that the Wolverines will win, especially in The Big House. They have penn-state-logocruised to a 3-0 record and are probably glad to get into the conference schedule. The Nittany Lions are still alternately worshiping and fighting against the ghost of Joe Paterno, which atleast gives the talking heads something to yap about, but on the field they are 2-1, with a close loss to in-state rival Pitt balanced out by a close win over in-state rival Temple. I’m going to roll the dice again by predicting that Michigan will win but it’ll be a little closer than the folks in Vegas seem to think. Probably something along the lines of 42-24. Surprisingly Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Penn St.

Z’s Pick:     Penn St.

 

 

 

Arkansas  at      Texas A&M (-6)

I feel like the Razorbacks are a team that gets lost in the shuffle amongst the glitz & glamor of the SEC. I suppose that’s understandable given that theyarkansas-razorback-logo haven’t even sniffed ten wins since 2011. However thus far they are 3-0, including a triple OT win over highly regarded TCU. The Aggies are also 3-0, with solid victories over UCLA & Auburn. I must be in a gambling mood because I’m leaning toward another upset. I think this might come down to a last second field goal or something similar, meaning it’s possible that A&M could win the game but not cover the points. Zach thinks A&M is…scrappy. However he too is picking the upset.

My Pick:     Arkansas

Z’s Pick:     Arkansas

 

 

 

Houston (-2.5)   at      New England

houston-texans-mobile-wallpaperThis is really interesting. It isn’t often that you see the Patriots as underdogs at home. However Lil Tommy is still on Fidel Goodell patriotsimposed home confinement for tampering with his balls, and things got worse when backup Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder was injured last weekend. So now third string QB Jacoby Brissett, a rookie from NC State chosen in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft, steps up to the plate (I love me some mixed metaphors). The talking heads don’t seem to be all that concerned about the situation, which is confusing to me. Either Tom Brady is the best quarterback that’s ever graced a gridiron, or Bill Belichick is a mastermind with the combined coaching prowess of Vince Lombardi, Knute Rockne, & Mr. Miyagi who could lead the Patriots to the Super Bowl with the love child of Uncle Rico & Jamarcus Russell behind center…you can’t have it both ways. I tend to lean toward the latter since I think there are atleast a dozen legendary quarterbacks better than Brady, but there’s no denying that New England can never be counted out. If they were playing Cleveland or the Rams or Miami this week I’d probably be persuaded toward the Pats despite the QB situation. However, the 2-0 Texans have looked pretty darn good so far and have emerged as the clear favorites in the AFC South. The point spread is almost nothing, and I think Houston covers easily. Zach likes Houston’s defense, but like so many others he trusts Belichick’s particular brand of magic (which oftentimes looks an awful lot like cheating in my opinion).

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     New England

2013 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 5

Damn you Boise State!! The Broncos were the only thing standing between me & my first ever perfect week with these picks, but when they scored a touchdown with 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter last Saturday I knew both Zach & I were doomed. Fresno St. had enough time to come back and win the game with 2 minutes remaining, but they weren’t able to cover the 3 points. Oh well…c’est la vie. I did win a head-to-head matchup in which I picked Stanford and Zach chose Arizona St., so that provided some measure of comfort. For the week I ended at 4-1 and Zach ended up 3-2, making our season look thusly:

Your Humble Potentate of Profundity  =  11-9

Zach  =  9-11

Now on to the task at hand.  At this point the season is beginning to take shape. Most teams…both college & pro…have shown us just enough so that it’s becoming clear who is good and who’s going to have a tough road. Theoretically that should make these picks a bit easier, but I know from experience that that is a little too optimistic. At any rate, there are atleast 9 or 10 games that pique my interest this week so I had a tough time narrowing the choices to just five, but I am really making an effort to spread the love and not pick games involving the same teams all the time. Enjoy!!

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Florida  (-13)                      at            Kentucky

florida gators imageThe Gators just lost their starting QB for the season to a broken leg and a key defensive tackle due to a torn ACL. Against better competition those Kentucky-Basketballlosses might be a killer, but with this week’s opponent being the Wildcats I doubt if Florida has too much to be concerned about…except, for our purposes, covering the points. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Kentucky gives a spirited effort, meaning they lose the game but not by two touchdowns. Zach doesn’t think Florida’s personnel deficiencies will be a big deal and believes that Kentucky will only be competitive in the first quarter.

My Pick          Kentucky

Z’s Pick           Florida

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Oklahoma (-3.5)               at            Notre Dame

This might be one of the best games on the NCAA schedule thus far in 2013. The Irish come into the game 3-1 but I think many people might say they have been the NotreDame1more impressive team. The Sooners are 3-0 but struggled to beat my WV Mountaineers, a team that can’t seem to score a touchdown most of the time. I am shocked that the Irish aren’t favored. Zach thinks both of these teams are overrated but believes Oklahoma is the more overrated of the two.

My Pick          Notre Dame

Z’s Pick           Notre Dame

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Wisconsin                            at            Ohio St. (-7)

WisconsinBadgersI’m really looking forward to this one. Good old-fashioned smash mouth football with the occasional big play and lots of solid defense. The Badgers Ohio_State_Buckeyesare 2-1 but really should be undefeated (remember the incompetent refs screwed them at Arizona St.). The Buckeyes are 4-0 but really haven’t played anybody. This game is in Columbus, which is a huge advantage. I picked Ohio St. #2 in my pre-season rankings, and if they continue winning that may just be where they end up. But my vibes are telling me that this is going to be a very close game. Ohio St. may or may not win, but if they do I think it’ll be by the slimmest of margins. Zach is a Michigan fan and thinks that Ohio State hasn’t played anybody yet (he’s right), but is willing to overlook the pain it causes him and pick the Buckeyes.

My Pick          Wisconsin

Z’s Pick           Ohio State

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Baltimore (-3.5)                                at            Buffalo

Buffalo_Bills_HelmetThe defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens are 2-1 but have clearly regressed since last season, although last week’s 30-9 demoliotion of Baltimore_Ravens2the Houston Texans was impressive. Meanwhile, the Bills are an impressive 1-2…if there can be such a thing. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel has been solid and will continue to get better. Buffalo could easily be 3-0 if a few balls had just bounced their way. I’m going against the grain one more time and picking the underdogs to finally put it all together. Zach thinks the Bills will keep the game close in the first half but eventually Baltimore will pull away for the victory.

My Pick          Buffalo

Z’s Pick           Baltimore

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Seattle  (-3)                         at            Houston

Not only did the Texans get beaten handily by Baltimore last week, but they really didn’t look that spectacular in their two wins. It took a 17 point 4th quarter seattle-seahawks1comeback to beat the San Diego Chargers and overtime to get past the Tennessee Titans. Conversely the Seahawks have barely broken a sweat in going 3-0. Houston will almost certainly put forth their best effort of the season, but I just don’t think it’ll be good enough. Zach concurs.

My Pick          Seattle

Z’s Pick           Seattle

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2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 9

I am not feeling particularly verbose this week, so neither this intro nor my thoughts on each game will be extensive. I seriously pondered giving myself a bye week because hey…the football teams do it so why can’t I?? But at the end of the day I just couldn’t wuss out. There are several interesting games in both the NCAA & NFL, so you are getting bonus picks, which is quite magnanimous of me if I do say so myself. At any rate, I am 22-38 overall and hoping to slowly improve, so there is no time like the present.

 

 

NC St.                    at            North Carolina (-7)

Intrastate & regional rivalries are one of the coolest things about college football. Both of these teams are having decent years thus far (NC St. is 52, UNC is 5-3) and are in the hunt for a trip to the ACC championship game. When everything else looks fairly even I usually pick the home team, but my vibes are telling me the Wolfpack gets the mild upset this time.

 

 

UCLA                     at            Arizona St. (-6.5)

These are two more solid teams (both are 5-2) in the thick of a battle for the conference crown. Both still have games against USC, a foe they’ll have to slay to win their division. But first they face each other, and my money (proverbially) is on the Sun Devils.

 

 

Duke                     at            Florida St. (-27.5)

I never thought the day would come where I would even notice Duke football enough to pick one of their games. However, the Blue Devils are a respectable 6-2 and actually lead their division in the ACC. It looks like the oddsmakers aren’t buying into it though since they have made the 7-1 Seminoles nearly 4 TD favorites. I have no doubt that Florida St. will win, but I don’t think it’ll be by that much, so Duke is the pick.

 

 

Navy                      at            East Carolina (-3.5)

I had the Pirates at #18 in my pre-season rankings, so at 5-3 they have underachieved yet still have an opportunity to get there with a strong finish. Navy is a pedestrian 4-3, and I think they go down to East Carolina.

 

 

Seattle                 at            Detroit (-2.5)

The Seahawks are better than most expected, while the Lions have underwhelmed those of us who were convinced they were a playoff caliber team. That being said I think Detroit gets the win here.

 

 

Miami                   at            NY Jets (-2.5)

No one has really been impressive in the AFC East (not even the Patriots), but I think it is fair to say that most have been pleasantly surprised that the Dolphins don’t completely suck and have been bewildered by the circus that the Jets have become. I gave QB Mark Sanchez a pass a couple of weeks ago (pun unavoidable) and he came through. Then last week he fought hard before New England pulled out an overtime victory. Miami is riding a 2 game winning streak and I think it goes to 3 with a win this week.

 

 

New Orleans     at            Denver (-6)

Drew Brees vs. Peyton Manning. Does anything else really need to be said?? I think the Saints have things figured out after their atrocious 0-4 start and I’m picking them to get the win here.

 

 

Indianapolis       at            Tennessee (-3.5)

Neither of these teams has a prayer of catching the Houston Texans and winning the division, but this game is vital if they want to stay in the wildcard race.  Injured Titans’ QB Jake Locker is still on the shelf, and Colts’ rookie signal caller Andrew Luck is quietly have a rather decent inaugural season. I’m going with the rookie to get the upset.

 

 

NY Giants (-2.5)                at            Dallas

The Giants have looked impressive in defense of their Super Bowl title this far, and I see no reason why that won’t continue here. The Cowboys continue to be mired in mediocrity, something that is unlikely to change as long as owner Jerry Jones continues to run amok.

 

 

 

 

2009 NFL Preview – AFC

The word for this year’s NFL season is parity. Yes…..I realize that’s not an original thought. You hear it dozens of times from all the talking heads on ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC…..your friendly neighborhood purveyors of NFL action. But honest to God I really believe it to be the case this year. There are a few teams (Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit) that continue to wallow in the land of dreadful despite all the usual machinations such as new coaches and noteworthy free agent signings or trades. And there are a few elite teams (Pittsburgh and the New York Giants for example) that continue to ride the tasty wave of success with no signs of decline. But the vast majority of the league seems to be atop a high wire, where a key injury or bad move by the coach will dictate the fickle difference between 7-9 and 11-5 but no amount of tinkering will make them neither elite nor awful. It’s one of the reasons we love the NFL…..it’s unpredictable and somewhat random. That being said, here’s my take on how we might see the season unfold. As always…please, no wagering. I don’t claim to actually be good at this.

We’ll take a look at the AFC first, and then I will post a look at the NFC in a few days:

AFC EAST

Miami Dolphins 11-5

Bill Parcells is large and in charge. And his head coach Tony Sparano seems like a true disciple. That’s a good thing. There’s a sense of stability in Miami that hasn’t been present for awhile, and in the NFL stability is usually a positive trait. The big question will be whether or not The Wildcat offense is something the rest of the league has figured out, or if the Dolphins can add enough new twists to keep it  fresh.

New York Jets                      10-6

The Jets are on the right path. I have a good feeling about rookie QB Mark Sanchez. Sure he’ll have some growing pains, but he can’t be any worse than what the departed Bret Favre was the second half of last season. New coach Rex Ryan is a defensive guru, so that side of the ball should see improvement.

New England Patriots       10-6

I can’t explain it, but I just sense the magic slipping away in Foxboro. I’m not convinced that Tom Brady is as healthy as desired, and a running attack featuring a three headed monster of Laurence Maroney, BenJarvis Green, and Fred Taylor just isn’t that overwhelming. I’m not saying New England will be a bad team, but I think they are in for much more of a dogfight in their division than most folks seem to believe.

Buffalo Bills                          4-12

No, I do not think that Terrell Owens is the savior this team needs. Though he’s been quiet thus far it is likely only a matter of time before he becomes the divisive force he’s been everywhere he’s played. Unfortunately for the Bills they are not in a position of strength where they can withstand such distractions. Dallas and Philadelphia thrived despite T.O.’s antics. Buffalo will not. Plus, this division is just too tough. The Bills may be looking at 6 losses just within their own division, and then they have games against Tennessee, Atlanta, and Indianapolis. Dick Jauron is a decent coach with the misfortune of being hired by subpar teams. Time to update the resume again Dick.


AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts               10-6

The Colts, much like the Patriots, have been the cream of the crop for a long time. Did you realize that Peyton Manning is 33 years old and a veteran of 11 years?? Chinks in the armor have slowly developed over the past couple of years, but they have merely downgraded Indy from elite status to extremely good. And some of these emerging concerns aren’t so much a function of this team getting worse, but a recognition of other teams’ improvement. This division used to be Indy’s for the taking, but it has gotten quite competitive. The Colts have a new coach and Marvin Harrison isn’t around for Manning to throw to anymore. However, at the end of the day I still feel like no one is up to the task of dethroning the kings just yet…..until they get to the playoffs of course.

Tennessee Titans                10-6

Speaking of dethroning, Tennessee did do exactly that last year to the Colts. But I don’t believe they can pull off another 13-3 season. The defense is always above average, but the loss of DT Albert Haynesworth in free agency will have an impact. On offense the question is whether Kerry Collins, who up until last season had the aura of career backup, can continue his magic carpet ride. And what about Vince Young?? He all the sudden became a headcase in 2008 which is what allowed Collins to emerge as a star. The running attack is solid with the fleet of foot Chris Johnson and the bruising (and apparently sober) Lendale White. Whomever ends up being the QB has a few folks to throw to now thanks to the additions of free agent WR Nate Washington and first round choice Kenny Britt.

Houston Texans                  9-7

I keep waiting on the Texans to break through, but they continue to be just so-so with occasional flashes of potential. I’m not sure Matt Schaub is the answer at QB, and another receiver is needed so defenses can’t just key on Andre Johnson. Steve Slaton proved all the talking heads who said he wasn’t feature back material wrong, but I do believe the running game would benefit from adding a big battering ram for goal line and short yardage situations. Defensively this team just seems to be missing a piece or two. Being in the same division as Indianapolis and Tennessee doesn’t help matters, but that’s out of anyone’s control. The best game plan in Houston might be to sit tight and continue to improve one player at a time until that inevitable day when Peyton Manning retires.

Jacksonville Jaguars           7-9

I think the Jags will be slightly better than last season, but not much. The team took significant steps to improve the offensive line, and I’m of the opinion that that is the vital foundation of any good football team. RB Fred Taylor absconded to New England in a desperate attempt to win a ring, so Maurice Jones-Drew (some people call him The Space Cowboy, some call him The Gangster of Love) is the man now, and that’s probably a good thing. Veteran wideout Torry Holt will bolster the receiving corps along with a seemingly rejuvenated Troy Williamson who is determined to shed the “bust” label with which he has been saddled. There are two threads on which Jacksonville’s season hangs. The first is the defense. They are usually among the league’s best, but dropped off noticeably in 2008. The other is QB David Garrard. Once upon a time Garrard had a Randall Cunningham vibe. Last year it was more like Richie Cunningham. Nothing has happened this offseason to make me believe a momentous turnaround is on the horizon.


AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh Steelers                        11-5

Full disclosure…..I am a lifelong diehard Steeler fanatic. Admittedly it is hard for me to be completely objective when talking about my team. But I’m going to give it the old college try and leave it up to the reader’s discretion as to whether I’m on point or completely delusional. The Steelers are the defending Super Bowl Champions…..but let’s look deeper. They won last year despite having what was almost unanimously regarded as the league’s toughest schedule. They won despite both star RB Willie Parker and first round draft choice Rashard Mendenhall having major injuries and having to rely on third string RB Mewelde Moore. They won despite having an offensive line that no one was expecting to be very solid. So, extrapolating some logic from those statements, one could possibly surmise that with an easier schedule, both top runners healthy, and an offensive line that gelled better than anyone expected and now has an extra year of experience the Steelers might be even better in 2009. But not even I am willing to go that far. Defending Super Bowl champions haven’t had much luck the past decade or so, and this team did suffer some personnel losses. Will Limas Sweed validate being a high draft choice last year by stepping into the 3rd receiver role vacated by Nate Washington?? Will free agent signee Keiwan Ratliff be a suitable replacement for departed cornerback Bryant McFadden?? I’m not sure about the answers to those questions right now. Plus, the target is bigger than ever and one team in particular, the hated Ravens, will be gunning for the champs. But I get the sense that Mike Tomlin won’t let his team become unfocused, so to be honest I’m not all that concerned. I am predicting another banner year for the black n’ gold.

Baltimore Ravens                           10-6

The Ravens were oh-so-close last year. It’s rare when an 11-5 record doesn’t lock up a division title. QB Joe Flacco had a surprisingly proficient rookie season and the defense was as intimidating as everyone has come to expect. I don’t expect much of a drop off this year. It will be interesting to see how the departure of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan (the new head coach of the New York Jets) affects the chemistry. My guess is not much, atleast not in any measurable dynamic. I suppose a sophomore slump is possible for Flacco, but it is unlikely. Ray Lewis isn’t getting any younger, but he’s still got a couple great years in the tank. In almost any other division in the league Baltimore would be a runaway choice to come out on top. They just have the misfortune of playing in the same division with the only defense better than theirs.

Cincinnati Bengals                          8-8

A lot of folks derisively call them The Bungles, and it is a richly deserved bad reputation. They’ve had a lot of issues both on and off the field. Carson Palmer is theoretically healthy and fully recovered from past injuries which should help tremendously. Still, questions…and doubts…abound. I personally don’t believe that Laverneous Coles is an upgrade or even an even swap for departed receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh, and when your team is relying on underachieving Cedric Benson to carry the rushing load that’s a bad sign. The team drafted an OT with the 6th overall pick in the draft, but first he held out until late in the pre-season and then he broke his foot in practice, so there goes that idea. Long removed from the Super Bowl hay days of Boomer Esiason, Chris Collinsworth, and  Icky Woods, the modern day Bengals just seem snakebitten. I really like coach Marvin Lewis, who had much success as a defensive coach in Pittsburgh, Washington, and most notably Baltimore.  But I’m not sure even the re-animated corpses of Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry combined could polish this turd. It’s a testament to the talent of Palmer (and having Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit, and Cleveland – twice, on the schedule) that I’m even predicting a .500 finish.

Cleveland Browns                          6-10

I’m a Steelers fan so I hate the Browns, but I missed them when they were gone from the league for a few years. I was glad when they were reborn. But holy cow have they been dreadful since that triumphant return. They just can’t seem to find even a glimmer of hope, a small buoy in a raging sea of mediocrity. Atleast the Bengals have Palmer. The Browns pinned all their hopes a couple years ago on Notre Dame alumnus Brady Quinn. I never thought Quinn was that good even in college, and he hasn’t been good enough to seize the reins for the Browns. If you aren’t good enough to be the clear cut starting QB for such a bad team then you aren’t good enough period. New head coach Eric Mangini is a Bill Belichick disciple, which has been proven to mean diddly squat. Former Browns coach Romeo Crennel was a Belichick guy too, and that didn’t work well at all. Mangini himself was run out of New York, although I think maybe the Jets pulled the trigger a bit prematurely. Maybe some guys are meant to be really well respected coordinators and aren’t necessarily head coach material. Being in the same division with the Steelers and Ravens is just brutal.


AFC WEST

San Diego Chargers           14-2

Predicting the best record in the NFL for San Diego is as much about the atrocious division they play in than anything else. There are probably even a handful of college teams that could beat the three other teams in this division this season. San Diego has been a rather good team the past few seasons, and I don’t expect that to change. Yes, Ladainian Tomlinson has lost a step. But that’s like saying it’d take Mike Tyson 5 rounds to knock out Michael Spinks rather than the 1 round it took him 20 years ago. So what?? Shawne Merriman should be fully healthy now, so the defense will be better than it was in 2008. Philip Rivers just signed a fat contract, which might make him lazier but instead I believe it’ll make him relaxed and more effective. Vincent Jackson needs to step up and be the go to receiver many have thought him capable of being, and big time TE Antonio Gates needs to stay healthy. I truly believe that last year’s 8-8 season was a mirage, a one time off year that can be attributed to injuries to a few key players. That is unlikely to happen two straight seasons.

Denver Broncos                  8-8

The Josh McDaniels era hasn’t exactly gotten off to a rousing start…..and they haven’t even played a game yet. McDaniels is another of the aformentioned branches on the Belichick coaching tree, one that hasn’t proven very fruitful thus far. I don’t think this guy is going to change that fact. The whole Jay Cutler debacle was an inauspicious launch for the new regime, and even though Cutler undoubtedly acted like a petulant child the blame must be shared by coach McDaniels. I understand wanting “your guy” as a new coach. I get it. But it wasn’t as if Cutler was a bad quarterback. It’s not even like the Broncos were a bad team. They were 8-5 last year and then lost the final 3 games. If they would have won the last game they would have been in the playoffs. The biggest issue was the defense, which ranked near the bottom in most categories. The coach obviously miscalculated what bringing in QB Matt Cassel, whom he had worked with in New England, would do to Cutler’s psyche. Cassel didn’t even end up with the Broncos, but that didn’t matter. The damage was done and Cutler whined his way out of Denver and into a pretty decent gig with Chicago. The Broncos?? Well…they ended up with Kyle Orton. It’s akin to having Russell Crowe lined up to star in your new movie but he drops out and you end up with Keanu Reeves. This will not end well. They did draft what most considered the top RB in the draft in Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno, and he’ll be backed up by Correll Buckhalter and Lamont Jordan. Not a flashy running attack but it should be effective. I atleast like this trifecta more than New England’s. Some pieces were added on defense thru the draft and free agency, but I don’t see any real difference makers. In 2008 the Broncos finished with a .500 record, and I’m generously predicting the same record in 2009, which begs the question…why exactly did they fire Mike Shanahan??

Oakland Raiders                 5-11

Al Davis is still alive and kicking, and that is bad news for the once mighty Raiders. Seriously, what has happened to this team?? It is one of the premiere franchises in the NFL…..infamous, successful, bold. But the aging and apparently crazy Davis has turned them into a laughing stock. The man is 80 years old. Someone needs to make him retire. I’m just not impressed by anything the Raiders have to offer. They have a new coach. Whatever. They have Jamarcus Russell as the QB of the future and brought in Jeff Garcia to be a mentor and capable backup. Sorry…..still doesn’t stir anything within my soul. Even Darren McFadden is an overhyped RB who’ll get you 2 yards but just look flashier doing it than most other backs. They didn’t draft anyone inspiring either. It’s just more of the same from a team that seems to have no direction.

Kansas City Chiefs              3-13

Speaking of no direction, that brings us to the Chiefs. All you need to know about this team is that their new head coach is apparently going to attempt to be the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator too. The man is clearly a control freak and in over his head. The jury is still out on Matt Cassel, the newly acquired starting QB. Cassel wasn’t even a starter in college at USC, where he backed up both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Last season he got his opportunity with the Patriots after Tom Brady went down with a knee injury. I get the fact that almost anyone is an upgrade over Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen, but the fact is that we are talking about a guy who shined for only one season and that happened to be with one of the best supporting casts in football. The road to hell is paved with the short lived careers of football players who were really good for a year or two. Running back Larry Johnson has seen his production dramatically curtailed the past two seasons, and he is on the threshold of 30, the age when rushers traditionally begin a steep decline. Perennial all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez got tired of losing and demanded a trade, so he’s now in Atlanta with the Falcons. There just isn’t much good news for the Chiefs. If Cassel proves himself more than just a one year wonder, and if Johnson has a career renaissance or possibly Jamaal Charles steps into that spot and breaks out, then maybe this team can do better than last season. But my gut instinct is that improvement will not manifest itself until next season.