by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
In week five the bye weeks are in full swing as the Vikings, Steelers, Redskins, and Buccaneers all have the week off. But we’ll discuss that later, for the time being we’re concerned with the teams that WILL be playing, and that’s what we’re going to do here. Unfortunately on this day we do have to bid a fond farewell to the Cleveland Indians, who were eliminated from the playoffs last night. We’re big Indians fans here at FOH, so it was sad to see them go. Thankfully, Cleveland is giving us another reason to smile as the Browns are having a surprising season. So let’s get into that…
Thursday Night: Buffalo Bills (2-2) +4.5 at Cleveland Browns (2-2) (41)
Coach: It’s funny but you know most NFL fans saw this game on the Thursday Night Schedule in the preseason and rolled their eyes. On the surface it’s two consistently bad franchises who aren’t in the same division and the only thing they really have in common is their inconsistency with their football teams. However over the past couple weeks this has actually become quite an interesting matchup between two young teams who are both coming off improbable wins last week. Both teams are sitting at 2-2 with Cleveland actually being tied for the division lead with everyone but the Steelers who are 0-4. Wow sorry ‘Cleveland in first and Pittsburgh at 0-4’ that just sounds weird – I thought the government would fall apart before I ever said those words.
Both teams will be bringing young quarterbacks who will be in a prime time matchup for the first time in their career and it’s how they deal with the pressure that could determine which way this goes. The Browns are showing signs of life for the first time in years with special attention going to their defense which has been absolutely lights out as long as the offense is able to stay on the field for more than three plays. This was never more apparent than last week against Cincinnati when the Bengals looked confused and frustrated. I have to think that if the Browns can hold AJ Green to just 51 yards all while only giving up a total of 63 yards rushing that the Bills won’t be able to get a lot going offensively. Of course part of that is dependent on whether or not C.J. Spiller suits up on Thursday but with the Browns sporting the 4th ranked run defense you wonder if that would even matter. The spread on this game is -4 Cleveland and for once I’m picking the Browns because I actually think they will win and not because I’m a fan.
Coach’s Prediction: Browns 31, Bills 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Browns 21, Bills 15
New Orleans Saints (4-0) EVEN at Chicago Bears (3-1) 47.5
Meehan: This is the game that the Bears better hope they play divisional playoff weekend. If this is the game they DON’T play, they’re going end up heading out to the Pacific Northwest to play the Seahawks. And that’s if they even advance wildcard weekend to begin with, which they won’t if they play anything like they did in the first three quarters of the Detroit game. It’s those type of late starts that you just can’t afford when it comes to playing the elite level teams if you do the elite-level shit-talking that Bears fans have become so well-known for. You get behind 40-16 on team like Seattle or New Orleans, and the game isn’t going to end up 40-32. Speaking of the Saints, they are just coming off a huge win against a quality Dolphins team and Darren Sproles has finally gotten into sync. Drew Brees is on the opposite end of the 0-4 start that the Saints were suffering from last season, and looks much more comfortable. He might be able to put up some big numbers against a Bears defense that got worked by Matthew Stafford last week, even on the road. But the Bears do tend to play a little better at home, so it won’t be a blowout but the Saints will win for sure.
Meehan’s Prediction: Saints 30, Bears 20
Coach’s Prediction: Saints 17, Bears 14
New England Patriots (4-0) +1.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) (45)
Coach: If you turned on a sports radio show in the past week you probably felt like you went back in time about five years with all the Brady and Peyton talk. Yes it’s true that Tom Brady has his team sitting at a perfect 4-0 although with the exception of beating an extremely overrated Falcons team I still question how good this team really is. I do think that Brady and company will make the playoffs but I need to see them play better competition before I’m able to draw any serious conclusions, luckily we should have a much better picture of who this team really is in the next month.
First up on that list is the Cincinnati Bengals, who are coming off of being shocked in Cleveland where the Browns limited them to a measly 6 points. As I have mentioned, I think that Cleveland has one of the top young defenses in the league but completely shutting down the duo of Dalton and Green is another story. In the Bengals we have another case of “exactly who is this team?”…yes they lost to Cleveland but just one week prior they were outdueling Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The Bengals have yet to hit the right stride on offense and too often this season have been playing against a deficit where they can’t get any rhythm going.
This game is one of my more intriguing matchups this week just because both these teams are expected to walk away with the division title. Sure New England is undefeated but we all know that there’s something good going on in Miami and until those teams play I’m not handing them anything. The Bengals all of a sudden find themselves in a three way tie in the division and although it’s way too early to start talking must wins you have to think that Marvin Lewis and company are treating this game like one. The spread on the game is -1 Cincinnati and that’s how I’m picking. In the end I think the Bengals have to come together and I think they’re the most complete team the Pats have played so far this season. Bet this game with caution as it really could go either way but I’m going with Cincy with a nail biter at home.
Coach’s Prediction: Bengals 24, Pats 21
Meehan’s Prediction: Patriots 27, Bengals 21
First Order Historians / Blockbuster Video VHS Game of the Week: Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) +11 at St. Louis Rams (1-3) 41.5
Coach: I thought this was supposed to be an NFL blog? How bad is Jacksonville? The spread is 13 points in favor of the Rams. Please let that settle in for a minute, the Rams who have lost 3 in a row by a combined 55 points if favored by 13 this week against the Jaguars. Believe it or not we actually do some research before we break down the games and looking at the Jacksonville’s stats is completely mind boggling. So far this year they are 30th in passing, 31st in rushing, and 32nd in rush defense. I have to think the 11th ranked pass defense has to do with the fact that why would you even throw the ball against this team when you can just run out the clock and put up easy points that way? It seriously seems unfair to all the teams that don’t have Jacksonville on their schedule, the NFL is giving you a win against the team. Looking ahead at the Jaguars schedule this is their most winnable game and they are 13 point underdogs. Yeah I’m going to go out on a limb and pick St. Louis to pull this out although here is my big bet of the year; Jacksonville covers the spread and only loses by 10-12 points.
Coach’s Prediction: Rams 27, Jaguars 16
Meehan’s Prediction: Rams 11, Jaguars 9
Baltimore Ravens (2-2) +3 at Miami Dolphins (3-1) 43.5
Coach: Speaking of a team who seems to be lost and looking for an identity look no farther than Baltimore. Last week the Ravens went into Buffalo and quite literally got smacked in the face. Even though Baltimore only lost by three points they ran for a startling 24 yards, and even though Joe Flacco threw for over 340 yards he also threw the ball FIFTY times getting them, including FIVE pickoffs. There’s something weird going on in the AFC North when neither Baltimore nor Pittsburgh are trying to run and are struggling to find an identity. Even though the Ravens are in much better shape than the Steelers they still look like a team that not just is coming off of a Super Bowl Hangover but seem to have problems that run much deeper. Maybe they spent a little too much money on a good (not elite) quarterback or maybe Suggs should shut his mouth and stop worrying about possible Super Bowl conspiracies about the NFL shutting out the lights.
One of the bright spots this young NFL season has been happening in South Beach. Yes the Dolphins just went into New Orleans and got a rude awakening from the Saints but stay calm Dolphins fans it’s not the end of the world. On a side note if you want to get a giggle go look at local Miami and South Beach media sites you seriously would think this team is 0-15 and just got a beat down from Jacksonville. Miami you are a good team and you are also a young team who just learned what it’s like to go into New Orleans, hear real fans, and deal with one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Dolphins like any young team will take time to be able to handle situations like playing in New Orleans luckily now they get to travel back to the tough life of living in Southern Florida and welcome in a not so good Baltimore team. Even though this season is young like the Dolphins this week will show a lot on which direction the Dolphins are heading. Can they bounce back after a big loss in the Big Easy and get back to their winning ways or will this snowball into losing Fins of last year? Personally I’m too impressed with the Fins to think they will let this one get away. The spread on the game is -3 Miami and I’m going to ride this one out, don’t let me down Miami!
Coach’s Prediction: Dolphins 17, Ravens 13
Meehan’s Prediction: Ravens 20, Dolphins 17
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) +2.5 at New York Giants (0-Forever) 54.5
Meehan: You know, the plan here is supposed to be that Spickler will always do the Browns game and I will always do the Giants games. But I’m not sure that I like this setup so much this year. I don’t really have anything positive to say here. By Monday night: here was the story – Victor Cruz had questioned the Gints decision to go for it on their own thirty at 4th and 3, down 10-7 on the road. The ensuing punt return was that insane Dexter McCluster play where he ran the punt back for 105 yards and a touchdown, burning every player on the Giants roster in addition to everyone that’s been retired since the late eighties. To respond to Cruz’ comments, DE Justin Tuck told reporters that if anybody was going to put his coach on blast like that he would “punch him in the mouth”. Fantastic. I mean, I knew everybody wasn’t exactly getting along but I had no idea that it was this severe. But enough about Big Blue, they don’t even warrant the space I’m using even if I am making them kiss the curb. Since their opening weekend win in Washington, the Eagles have been as bad as bad can be. They’re going to fare much better against the Giants than they did against the Broncos, who may very well still be scoring touchdowns against them with Brock Osweiler as the signal caller. They are also terrible, but not as bad as New York is. I’m saying Eagles by 18 but it could easily spiral out of control into 30 or 35 points. P.S. – Ignore the line in this one. You can pretty much ignore the line in every Eagles-Giants game.
Meehan’s Prediction: Eagles 31, Giants 13
Coach’s Prediction: Giants 13, Eagles 10
Detroit Lions (3-1) +6.5 at Green Bay Packers (1-2) 52
Meehan: This is a very strange one because in a way, this is the Packers’ season right here. If they don’t start to right this ship soon, it may be too late and teams like the Detroit Lions might be the reason why. I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent here, but please stay with me. At the beginning of the year, I made NFL playoff picks at the beginning of the season that excluded the Packers and the Falcons. The Packers have an elite quarterback and the Falcons came close to making it to the Super Bowl, but I had a very accurate feeling about this. Now, I can’t say that the Lions are the reason for that but let me explain how they fit into that picture: I had both the Cowboys and the Redskins making the playoffs this year. My division champions were the Cowboys and/or Redskins, the Seahawks, the Bears, and the Saints. This leaves two wild card spots, one of which would be occupied by whoever doesn’t make win the NFC East, and the other would be occupied by the 49ers.
Since we recently realized that the Redskins are pretty much dead in the water, it looked as if I might be wrong. That is, until the Lions started the season 3-1 after beating an undefeated Bears team last week. When you take out Suh’s dirty play and then factor in the resurgence of Reggie Bush (or emergence, depending on your view of how his pro career has gone so far) along with Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford who can put up huge numbers pretty much any week that they aren’t facing a top ten defense, you have to wonder who is really the favorite to win here.
Meehan’s Prediction: Lions 26, Packers 22
Coach’s Prediction: Packers 33, Lions 24
Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) at Tennessee Titans (3-1)
Meehan: You know, it seems like almost every week I sit here and say something along the lines of “Well, this game didn’t exactly stand out on the schedule before the season started” when it comes to the Tennessee Titans games. But in a way, that’s kind of how this year’s gone for them, hasn’t it? The Chiefs are on a roll – Most of us thought they would certainly top[ last year’s 2-14 season, but nobody thought that they’d be able to pull this off. If they can beat the Titans (which I believe they will) then they will be 5-0 and a sure bet to have the first wild card spot covered unless Alex Smith is taking a pizza home anytime soon. I’m interested in seeing how both of these defenses play in this one, but I can’t bring myself to have THAT much faith in the Tennessee Titans to think they’ll actually pull it off. Thankfully, that’s why we have Coach here to make bold picks like that.
Meehan’s Prediction: Chiefs 29, Titans 10
Coach’s Prediction: Titans 27, Chiefs 24
Seattle Seahawks (4-0) -2.5 at Indianapolis Colts (3-1) 43.5
Meehan: The Seahawks have had stretches this year where they have looked every bit as invincible as the Broncos, and they are the two teams that the sports media has picked to be in the Super Bowl come February. Earl Thomas and Richard Shermann are two of the most violent and precise cornerbacks in the league today, and they just so happen to play on the same team. Seattle is unstoppable at home, where this game will not be located. Indianapolis’ lone loss was to a very good Miami team, and they are doing much better than expected. But I love the Seahawks like they are my second team (and they have become that) and even though I’m not a fan of Pete Carroll it’s hard to deny what he’s been able to do up there. They are indeed the real deal, but I am about to turn my back on them. The Seattle Seahawks will lose this game. And although you will hear that there is no such thing as a “good loss”, this will be a good loss for Seattle. Better for them to have it happen now than later on in the year when it could affect their playoff momentum. This may be the game where they realize they can’t rely on that defense and Marshawn Lynch for everything, and that Russell Wilson is going to have to step up. I hate to a team I like lose, but not as much as I hate to see myself end up being wrong. Colts by 3.
Meehan’s Prediction: Colts 26, Seahawks 23
Coach’s Prediction: Seahawks 24, Colts 23
Carolina Panthers (1-2) -2 at Arizona Cardinals (2-2) 42
Meehan: The newest installment of the bore core genre, this game is the equivalent of low grade NyQuil that takes three hours to kick in. As David Letterman once famously said on the Starland Vocal Band Variety Hour: “Ah yes, I can hear television sets being clicked off all across this great nation of ours”. It’s hard to really analyze Arizona anymore because people stop paying attention to them so early. Even when they got hot early last year, nobody was buying it and we soon found out why. The Panthers are irrelevant, because the Saints are going to waltz away with that division and if anybody gets the Wild Card it’ll be Atlanta. That’s a nice way of saying that if you think three teams from the NFC South are going to make the playoffs, you should be in a padded room with a straight jacket on. That being said, the Panthers are about two points better here, even on the road like Jack Kerouac.
Meehan’s Prediction: Panthers 20, Cardinals 18
Coach’s Prediction: Panthers 16, Cardinals 13
Denver Broncos (4-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Coach: Let’s get something straight, this year the Broncos are almost as good as the Jaguars are bad. They have the best chance to run the table since the 2007 Patriots. Am I saying they are going to go 16-0 and blow out the Seahawks in the Super Bowl? Definitely not, this is still the NFL and there’s a reason only one team has ever had a perfect season. Do I think that the Broncos first loss is going to come at the hands of the Cowboys? Absolutely not and please don’t try to reason with me Cowboys fans it’s not going to happen. I understand the Cowboys are undefeated at home but one thing about Peyton Manning is the bigger the stage the bigger the results. If Denver has one Achilles heel it’s their pass defense which they apparently forgot was the reason they lost in the playoffs last year. That could become a major problem if the quarterback they were facing wasn’t Tony Romo who finds as many ways to lost big games as Peyton does win. At the end of the day the Broncos are favored -8 and although I think Dallas might hang around for the first half I don’t think Manning and company will have any problem at all covering the spread. Speaking of spreads, did you know next week the Jaguars have to travel to Denver?!
Coach’s Prediction: Broncos 44, Cowboys 20
Meehan’s Prediction: Broncos 32, Cowboys 18
San Diego Chargers (2-2) -4 at Oakland Raiders (1-3) 44.5
Meehan: As you may or may not know, this game has been moved to 8:35PM (Pacific Time Zone) which is 11:35PM on the East Coast. This is a very hard thing for me because like many political arguments one may get into, I completely disagree with it but I have no better solution. In my opinion, the NFL kind of trumps any other sport nowadays. I didn’t buy that the Orioles were really in control of the Ravens not being able to host the opening night game, and I don’t buy this either. There has to be something else going on here. Baseball’s had its time, but it has since been passed over by pro football as America’s sport. The argument here of course is that it takes too long for the Colesium to be converted from baseball to football, and the A’s game is on Saturday night. In my opinion that’s a poor excuse, and Oakland needs to stop the penny pinching and build a new stadium otherwise they’re going to lose that team. They’ve already lost it once.
Oh, right…the game. The Chargers have definitely surprised me so far this year. They have looked every bit as good as they did a few years back when Rivers was actually a legitimate threat as opposed to a fake one. They’ll need to rely on him again in this one, because their defense is putrid. Thankfully Oakland’s offense smells just as bad, with the odor of hot garbage stemming from a team that hasn’t had a real wide receiver since Tim Brown retired. I have to hand it to Raiders fans though – they have stuck with their team being this poor for almost a decade, which is more than I could say for myself if my team was that bad for that long. If I was a Raiders fan I would eat entire bags of sugar until I got diabetes. That way it would at least sort of look like an accident. Chargers cover easily.
Meehan’s Prediction: Chargers 32, Raiders 13
Coach’s Prediction: Chargers 21, Raiders 16
Houston Texans (2-2) +6.5 at San Francisco 49ers (2-2) 42.5
Coach: Good job Houston. You had a 17 point lead on the Seahawks in the second half and found a way to lose the game. Not only did you miss a chance to go to 3-1 which would have put you in a three way tie for first in the AFC South but you squandered a major opportunity to let the NFL know that you have elite potential. Who wasn’t score watching with a dropped jaw when you saw that ticker run across the bottom of your screen? I hate to say that was a season crippling loss but you have to think that losing like that at home can make a season take a turn for the worse. Now no lead you have is safe, every team will know think they have a chance to come back against you and why shouldn’t they. Yes Seattle is an elite team this season but if you are going to beat them your only shot is away from Seattle. I would give the Texans way more credit had this happened on the road.
Unfortunately the Texans now have to go on the road to San Francisco for a Prime Time showing against the 49ers. Even though the Niners had a nice win last week in St. Louis for some reason they still haven’t been able to capture the feeling of dominance they had in week one against the Packers. Kaepernick has been good but his touchdown to interception ratio has stopped him from looking great. This week the Niners are going to have to treat like a statement game if they want to look like anything outside of second fiddle to the Seahawks in the West. I expect this game to be a low scoring in the trenches matchup as both teams currently have a top three pass defense. The spread on the game is San Fran -8 which I have to think is a little too high for my taste. I agree that the Niners are going to win but I think it’ll be tighter than the spread.
Coach’s Prediction: Niners 27, Texans 24
Meehan’s Prediction: 49ers 26, Texans 17
Monday Night Football: New York Jets (2-2) +9 at Atlanta Falcons (2-2) 44
Coach: As amazing as last week’s Monday Night Football matchup was this one might be as boring. News Flash to Roger Goodell, please banish the Jets’ prime time matchup to Thursday Night with the rest of the mediocre teams. The most intriguing story line I can come up with for this game is to see exactly how much trouble the Falcons are in. We know the Jets are on a mission to kill Geno Smith by making him continuously throw the ball downfield to his next to no weapons. Due to injuries on the Jets offensive side of the ball the only person it seems he will have as a weapon is Kellen Winslow, yeah the same Winslow who wasn’t even in the league last year.
As bad as it is for New York they actually come into the game with a better record than the Falcons who have to treat this game as a must win, if it isn’t already too late for them. At 1-3 and the slew of injuries they have taken on personally I don’t see this season being anything but a disappointment to Atlanta. That being said I do think their offense is just too much for the Jets defense even though the Jets defense will give Ryan and company some problems. The Falcons enter the game as 10 point favorites which seems a bit much for me. I’m taking the Falcons but not the spread.
Coach’s Prediction: Falcons 27, Jets 20
Meehan’s Prediction: Falcons 24, Jets 17
Washington Redskins (1-3) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)
Coach: The good news for both the Buccaneers and the Redskins is that neither one of them can lose this week. I see the bye week working in different ways for both these teams. In the case of the Redskins any extra time RGIII can get to work on getting back into rhythm is a good thing and I think the early bye helps them as much as any team in the league. Alfred Morris will have a chance to heal his ribs along with tight end Logan Paulsen who has a strained knee. I’m hoping (as well as many NFL fans) that we see a greatly improved Skins team after this week. As far as the Bucs go I can see everyone staying away from the facility doing nothing but getting more pissed at each other by the minute. If you can picture a bunch of high school girls texting each other about how the coach is mean or the quarterback is stinky you get what I’m getting at. If anything hopefully cooler heads prevail but I don’t see the bye week benefiting anyone except for Tampa fans who don’t have to watch this disaster for a week.
Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
Meehan: What am I supposed to say here that will actually make Vikings fans feel better? That last week was a stepping stone for them to leapfrog their way to success? That doctors are going to put a pin in Adrian Peterson’s back so that he can carry the ball forty times a weekend? The worst thing that can happen to you after a win is the realization that your bye week is coming up. It flattens whatever momentum you’ve got, and the Vikings didn’t exactly have a whole lot to begin with. Sure, they’re coming off of a win…but look at who they beat…
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)
Meehan: There are two teams that make me not completely embarrassed to be a Giants fan. One of them is the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the other is the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s really one of the better riches to rags stories in all of sports when you look at it – Guy wins Super Bowl in a bad year, keeps taking him team to the playoffs then three years later posts a legitimate Super Bowl win. Then makes it back two years later, they lose and everything goes to hell in a handbasket. The thing is, somebody’s head is going to have to roll here eventually. Todd Haley’s going to be first, but if this continues, everyone has to go. Nobody needs the bye week more than the Steelers do right now.
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Meehan and Coach