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Sunday, April 22 2018

NFL Predictions 2006: Week 8

EntertainmentRapidly approaching the halfway mark. Now that the World Series is over can we officially call it football season?

Arizona (1-6) @ Green Bay (2-4): pick GB -4/over 44.5

 

For all the talk of the teams like Detroit, Oakland and Buffalo who passed on Leinart I imagine there will be a few Packer fans in the house wondering what they missed in the draft. Green Bay took star linebacker A.J. Hawk who has delivered as the teamís second leading tackler with 2 Ĺ sacks, but the unit as a whole is allowing 23+ points every time out. They even turned Miamiís stagnant offense into something tangible, letting Joey Harrington throw for 414 yards in the process. The only question I have no is if Favre can outscore the self destructing Cardinals. Considering that Arizona is coming off a three field goal performance in Oakland the outlook is promising. This is a matter of pride, and while the Pack hasnít won at home yet they have played competitively. Start the clock on the firing of Dennis Green.

 

Green Bay 33, Arizona 24

 

Atlanta (4-2) @ Cincinnati (4-2): pick CIN -3.5/under 45

 

Both of these teams have to be feeling good about pulling out narrow victories last week. The Falcons got some unusual passing prowess from Vick to kick past Pittsburgh 41-38 in overtime while the Bengals turned on the second half defense in a 17-14 win over Carolina. It is obvious that Atlanta will attempt to run right at Cincinnati, but Iím not sure this plan works very well on the road against a team coached by Marvin Lewis. On the other side Cincinnati is hoping to have some success in the air. Their chances are better if Chris Henry can play any sort of role or should T.J. Houshmandzadeh continue to take advantage of ďocho cincoĒ drawing defensive attention. With DeAngelo Hall around it will get interesting. Overall I believe Cincinnati is just starting to gain momentum. They might also have Chris Perry for a spell to help their offense along. I donít expect another passing explosion from Vick so the eight man fronts slow them down.

 

Cincinnati 20, Atlanta 16

 

Baltimore (4-2) @ New Orleans (5-1): pick NO -1/under 37

 

Everyone wants to see what will happen when rookie Reggie Bush runs into Ray Lewis. Heíll have to catch him first. After starting the season 4-0 the Ravens have stumbled to a pair of losses and fired their offensive coordinator during the bye week. The Saints are also off a bye, but picked up two home wins preceding it so they have more momentum. The emotion of a city recovering from tragedy might be wearing off, but I still like the guts of this team. Brees steadies them while McAllister and Bush provide enough to keep defenses off balance. Baltimore canít move the ball and their defense is not suited to playing in a dome. They want to get physical. Instead I think they will be looking for the oxygen.

 

New Orleans 20, Baltimore 14

 

Houston (2-4) @ Tennessee (1-5): pick TEN -3/over 41

 

There are two things I never could have imagined about this game a few weeks ago. One is the Texans coming in with two wins. The other is how quickly Vince Young has notched an NFL victory as a starting quarterback. The talk in this game should be how much pressure is on David Carr to assure fans and team management alike they made the right move keeping him and not drafting the hometown Rose Bowl king from Texas. If he only had a running back the job might not be so tough this week against the worst rushing defense in the NFL. The flip side of that coin is Travis Henry taking on run stoppers who are almost as bad, and as we have seen in recent weeks he can take over games. After almost single handedly leading a stunning upset at Indianapolis (19 carries for 123 yards) he ran until he dropping two weeks ago in Washington (32 Ė 178). With two weeks to rest he should be ready for another big week. Both teams are pretty inept on both sides of the ball so Henry is really the difference. Carr is having a very mediocre season and at this point I find him incapable of leading this team to a road win.

 

Tennessee 27, Houston 19

 

Jacksonville (3-3) @ Philadelphia (4-3): pick PHI -7.5/over 39

 

At various points this season both these teams have been very impressive. The Jags apparently just donít travel well. Two home shutouts are great until three road losses giving up 21, 36 and 27 saddle them with a .500 record. The Eagles are scarily close to having a 7-0 record if a few kicks and passes go the other way. After two last second field goals ruined them on the road in the past two weeks they are happy to be home where they have scored 24, 31 and 38 points. Mixing in the fact that Jacksonville looks to have David Garrard under center I just donít see him being able to match drives with the hot handed Donovan McNabb. Westbrook might be running on egg shells, but he was healthy enough to pile up an astounding 214 total yards on 20 catches last week in Tampa Bay. Until Humpty Dumpty falls down he helps them get back in the win column.

 

Philadelphia 28, Jacksonville 16

 

Seattle (4-2) @ Kansas City (3-3): pick KC -4/over 36.5

 

These teams played a lot of memorable games when they were rivals in the old AFC West. This meeting doesnít appear to be heading for the highlight reel. The Seahawks are forced to start Seneca Wallace and Maurice Morris in their backfield while it appears the Chiefs might resort to rookie Brodie Croyle at quarterback. Irrespective of that, Arrowhead Stadium has been pretty unkind to visitors of late. The 49ers brought in a rejuvenated offense and failed to score. The Chargers went from being called the best team in the NFL to 30-27 losers last week. Enter the Wallace Experiment that just took a home beating to the Vikings trying to part the Red Sea. Something happens to the defense of the Chiefs in their house, and I expect it to happen in a big way this week. Croyle has the luxury of handing the football off to Larry Johnson who I hear is pretty good.

 

Kansas City 24, Seattle 13

 

San Francisco (2-4) @ Chicago (6-0): pick CHI -15.5/under 42

 

The 49ers played this team pretty tough in their last visit to Soldier Field. Unfortunately for them this is a much more balanced offense and the weather conditions donít figure to impact moving the ball as they did in 2005. Rex Grossman didnít start that game and now has to get the home crowd behind him again after his disaster in Arizona last week. It is amazing to think they won the game thanks to three non-offensive touchdowns because of how poorly the offense performed. This is an easy game to figure really. Chicago has scored at least 19 in every game, and has allowed a grand total of 20 at home in three wins. San Francisco has no chance whatsoever. Alex Smith has come a long way in his sophomore campaign, and while his first start ever in Chicago wonít be as bad as Cody Pickettís 1 for 13 showing last year he is not going to work this defense. As poorly as Chicago played in Arizona, the 49ers canít get an opposing offense off the field.

 

Chicago 27, San Francisco 6

 

Tampa Bay (2-4) @ NY Giants (4-2): pick NYG -9/under 38.5

 

The Barber Bowl will be the focus of this game as twin brothers face off for likely the last time. Tiki has managed to pile up 869 total yards while carrying the offense yet hasnít scored a single touchdown. More important than this oddity is the fact that New Yorkís defense is quietly rounding into form following their bye week. First they held Washington to a field goal, then they shut down Atlanta in the second half and last week it was plenty of stops to hold Dallas in check. Now they face a rookie quarterback who is one play away from being 3-0 as a starter. Gradkowski has led the Bucs on two game winning drives in as many weeks and now seeks his first road kill. Unfortunately I donít think he has the offensive firepower to keep up with Eli, Tiki and Plaxico. Not by a long shot. Tampa Bay has played valiantly of late and I think in this one they show up like a team out of breath.

 

NY Giants 26, Tampa Bay 10

 

St. Louis (4-2) @ San Diego (4-2): pick SD -9/under 45.5

 

Last year the Chargers held the label of being possibly the best team not to make the playoffs. If they keep losing games like the one last week in Kansas City they might be heading back in that direction. Rivers had his first opportunity to really stand up and be counted after the team fell behind 14-0 early, but despite rallying them repeatedly he was unable to deliver in the two minute drill with a chance to break a tie score. The result was a 53-yard field goal to beat him. The Rams faced similar heartbreak in their last game after their stunning 67-yard touchdown to Holt seemed to give them a victory. That was until Josh Brown connected from 54 yards out. Off the bye they will need to figure out a tough Charger defense led by a very angry Merriman who is appealing his drug suspension. Statistically San Diego is a dominant team, but part of that is two blowout wins over the struggling Bay Area teams. Still, I like them to control this game with Tomlinson more than the Rams can by trying to slam Jackson into the line. This is where his talents really shine. Bulger will also be good for some timely turnovers to seal the deal.

 

San Diego 27, St. Louis 17

 

Indianapolis (6-0) @ Denver (5-1): pick DEN -2.5/under 40

 

These two teams have had some memorable meetings in recent seasons. Typically the Colts would lay down late against the Broncos in the regular season before destroying them in the playoffs. Last year it never transpired as both teams dropped home tilts against the Steelers. Now once again this appears to be a battle destined to be played over in the playoffs, only this time Peyton Manning will be the quarterback. Denverís defense has been downright silly thus far, allowing just two touchdowns all season. Both of them were on the road while leading 17-0 in the fourth quarter. Can Manning solve the puzzle? More importantly will Denverís offense wake up from a season long slumber to take advantage of Indianapolisí suspect defense. Shanahanís offense has yet to score more than 17 in a game with an average of just 13.2 per outing. It might be time to release the hounds so to speak. Rod Smith has only 34.2 yards receiving a game after picking up 64.1 over the course of his illustrious career. Other than team leader Javon Walker (29 receptions) and running back Tatum Bell (13) no one outside that trio has more than 5 catches. It isnít Bellís receiving that will determine this outcome though, it should be his running. Peyton historically struggles outdoors against tough defenses. Without his stud Edgerrin James around this time I think history repeats itself.

 

Denver 19, Indianapolis 13

 

NY Jets (4-3) @ Cleveland (1-5): pick NYJ +2/over 37

 

Two former Patriot coordinators square off with their new teams in this one. The Jets have been able to grind out two straight wins in a row, both at home, to gain a measure of momentum for their season. Already it is a vast improvement over 2005. The Browns sputtered into yet another lackluster loss last week. Just once have they lost by over 10 points, but this is not a team seeming to be on the verge of turning the corner. Quite simply they canít stop the run or run the ball themselves. Some of the pieces are there for the future, but while it appeared Droughns might breathe life into the running back position last season with 1,232 yards he has regressed into a typical Cleveland rusher this season (3.2 average). New York is having issues on defense, but their offense should be able to keep that group off the field most of the day. Pennington is finally healthy and Leon Washington could turn into Curtis Martinís successor after his second trip past 100 yards rushing last week. Those two pieces are enough to sway this game.

 

NY Jets 24, Cleveland 20

 

Pittsburgh (2-4) @ Oakland (1-5): pick PIT -9/under 39

 

Maybe the Steelers start Big Ben at quarterback and maybe they donít. It really doesnít matter. They are a team capable of executing an offense either way. The Raiders conversely have struggled mightily to move the ball and score. First year starter Andrew Walter finally got a win last week and in the process made his first professional trip past 200 yards passing. Too bad it was against the weak Cardinals. This Steeler defense will come at him from all angles. This is a recipe for disaster given how poorly the Raider offensive line has played. Jordan might miss the game at running back even though he wasnít missed last week when the teamís committee of Fargas, Crockett and Lee ran 33 times for 117 yards. If the Raiders want to compete it will take a great effort from their underrated defense and mistake free performance on offense. They might get half of that, so they donít get blown out.

 

Pittsburgh 24, Oakland 12

 

Dallas (3-3) @ Carolina (4-3): pick CAR -5/under 41

 

The Cowboys let Keyshawn Johnson escape to the Panthers when they decided to sign Terrell Owens. Now the mouthy receiver has a chance to really make them pay. Everyone is talking up Tony Romo as if he gives Dallas a better opportunity to turn around their lackluster underachieving season. Not even 3 interceptions in 25 relief tosses last week were enough to sway Parcells from giving Bledsoe one more shot. Those turnovers made it 12 on the season from the quarterback position which explains how a team with the #5 rushing offense and #4 rushing defense has a .500 record. Actually, the Panthers have done quite a bit of plodding along themselves after entering the season as Super Bowl contenders in the eyes of many. Only one of their wins is by more than a field goal, a 20-12 win over Cleveland. The offense was stifled in the second half last week in Cincinnati, leading to their firs loss with Steve Smith in the lineup. Heading into their bye week I expect them to draw on every bit of energy under the SNF lights to turn away the Cowboys. Romo is a no go on the road.

 

Carolina 23, Dallas 17

 

New England (5-1) @ Minnesota (4-2): pick NE -1/over 38.5

 

No one is talking about the Patriots, but here they are again ready to coast to another division title. No one is discussing the Vikings either, but they might start after their decisive 31-13 victory in Seattle last week. Is this a Super Bowl preview? No, but it is definitely a battle of playoff contenders given Minnesotaís sudden ability to stifle the run. No one would have guessed they would lead the NFL through six games with just 70.8 yards allowed per contest. The total will be challenged by a homecoming from local star Laurence Maroney out of the University of Minnesota. The Gopher rookie has shared the rushing duties beautifully with veteran Corey Dillon, totaling 361 yards and carrying a 4.2 average. Throwing that two headed monster out there should give them a fighting chance. If the game is close you have 3-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady faced with dueling past Brad Johnson, who has a ring of his own. What I wonder is how far New England can go with a receiving corps led by a tight end, ageless receiver and two guys cast off from their former teams. The quartet of Watson, Brown, Gabriel and Caldwell wonít scare an opposing defense. Then again, Minnesotaís group wonít either. In the end this looks like a defensive struggle won by the team who knows how to deliver in these situations. Only this time it wonít be Vinatieri delivering the big field goal.

 

New England 23, Minnesota 20

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