by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
Week eight is here in the NFL, and there are plenty of storylines to get to. Believe it or not, I thought one of the more interesting moments last week came in the Panthers/Rams game where a fight ensued and there were some harsh words exchanged in the postgame interviews. While I’m a fan of sportsmanship, I thought it was fascinating to see two teams go at it like that when you consider how quickly every writer in America wrote them off this year. Here were two ballclubs that haven’t even been given the time of day by newspapers nationwide throwing punches just out of the locker room after halftime. It really speaks volumes about the intensity of the NFL, and why we love it so much. Speaking of Carolina…
Thursday Night Football: Carolina Panthers (3-3) -5.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6) (40)
Coach: The Greg Schiano Clock has begun and with the recent injury to Doug Martin, you have to wonder just how close to midnight it may already be. At this time Martin is out for the rest of the year, but with Tampa still being one of the NFL’s winless teams you have to wonder if it even matters. On the other side things actually seem to kind of be clicking for the Panthers, who will look to make it three in a row this week in a very winnable game. One of the things that continues to stick out with the Panthers is their top 5 defense that should be able to completely shut down a now completely anemic Tampa Bay offense. Fantasy “experts” may be telling you to run with Mike James as a replacement for Martin, but considering the Panthers are letting up less than 90 yards a game – don’t expect big things. The spread on this game is -7 Carolina and with the latest blow to the Bucs I have to think that Carolina will be able to cover rather easily.
Coach’s Prediction: Panthers 31, Buccaneers 17
Meehan’s Prediction: Panthers 27, Buccaneers 10
San Francisco 49ers (5-2) -17 at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7) – Wembley Stadium London, England (40.5)
Meehan: Playing the Jaguars is like bowling with those bumpers that come out of the gutters at the alleys, and the 49ers are coming into London ready to throw a 300 game. San Francisco has rolled out four wins in a row after a 1-2 start, and they look to be every bit the Super Bowl contender that we expected them to be. WR Michael Crabtree is not expected to play until late November due to his Achilles injury, and that may be part of why the 49ers are next to last in the league in average passing yards per game but then again that may also have nothing to do with it at all. Look what that defense has been able to do without Aldon Smith. When he gets back to the NFL, I’m not sure if the casual sports fan is even going to remember who he is. The Niners have a so many weapons it’s just really hard to gauge who will be the standout any given week.
I’ll give the Jags more credit than they deserve here, but this is the absolute last time this year I’ll be doing that…If they lose this game (which they will) they’ll have blown half an entire season. And I have to believe that if Johnny Manzeil seems to be as big of a dick as he acts, he’s going to pull an Eli Manning and refuse to play for Jacksonville if they end up drafting him. One final note – Am I the only one laughing my ass off that the same major American city who has produced the worst football team of the past seven or eight years is the same city that gave us the ear torturing sounds of Limp Bizkit? Somebody needs to get down there and figure out what the hell is going on in Jacksonville, Florida. I don’t trust the Niners to cover the spread on the on a different continent but it could easily happen. Then again it’s your money – not mine.
Meehan’s Prediction: 49ers 34, Jaguars 20
Coach’s Prediction: 49ers 28, Jaguars 10
Cleveland Browns (3-4) +9 at Kansas City Chiefs (7-0) (39.5)
Coach: This might sound weird but I think there’s a quarterback controversy going on in Cleveland. If you pay attention to social media, the media, or fans around the Cleveland area than you would almost think Brandon Weeden was the second coming of LeBron James. That’s the problem with fan bases such as Cleveland, there’s been so much losing and frustration that something like Brandon Weeden is just enough to put the fans over the edge. As I’ve stated before the Browns have talent although in the NFL that’s why so much of an emphasis is placed on the quarterback position, they literally have their hand in everything. They obviously score points and influence the offense but quick three and outs can be devastating to a defense. Brandon Weeden has completely lost confidence and at this rate it’s either watch him turn into Tim Couch or plug in Jason Campbell who undoubtedly will have similar results. Unfortunately for Browns fans it’s a lose situation that only has The Draft at the finish line.
On the flip side are the Chiefs and one thing about being a 7-0 team is you are going to get everyone’s best effort which was evident last week when the Houston Texans took the Chiefs to the brink. I would actually think this is a game that the Chiefs could look past but I think they learned their lesson last week about underestimating a team that’s down and out. At this point the Chiefs have the Browns followed by a trip to Buffalo (which could be an upset special next week) before the bye. Speaking of not looking ahead if Kansas City can go into the bye undefeated that means in Week 11 they will be heading to Denver, potentially with a better record than the Broncos. Giddy up Chief fans things are about to get interesting. The spread on the game is -9 KC and I would pick the Browns to cover if it wasn’t for last week’s close matchup with the Texans.
Coach’s Prediction: Chiefs 27, Browns 13
Meehan’s Prediction: Chiefs 31, Browns 24
Miami Dolphins (3-3) at New England Patriots (4-2)
Coach: One of the “sexy picks” going into this season was the Miami Dolphins not just making the playoffs but possibly winning the east against a down New England team. Unfortunately nobody was thinking that the Dolphins would have trouble winning games against teams like the Bills at home. With Miami coming off their third straight loss and now sitting 2 games behind New England in the win column you have to think that the Dolphins have to win (or at least be very competitive) against the Patriots in Foxboro.
If Miami has had anything good going for them recently it would be the Patriots being upset by Geno Smith and the Jets last weekend. Every year Tom Brady has a game where he doesn’t play very “Brady Like” and I have to think that last week was just one of those occasions. This week Brady will have Gronk back who was easily his favorite target last week getting more than 100 yards receiving. With another week to knock the dust off, get his rhythm back, and get rid of his Barry Bonds looking arm brace you have to think that Brady and company won’t be dropping two in a row to division opponents. The spread on the game is -7.5 which makes it difficult to pick but I think Brady will be taking a lot of frustration out on the Fins and then celebrating by wearing another fabulous sweater.
Coach’s Prediction: Patriots 34, Dolphins 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Patriots 30, Dolphins 18
Buffalo Bills (3-4) +13 at New Orleans Saints (5-1) (50)
Meehan: The Buffalo Bills are one of those tricky NFL teams that is hard to measure week in and week out. You never know who will be starting at the quarterback position, yet they’ve beat both the Ravens and the Dolphins. On the other hand, with the Saints you pretty much know what you’re getting. They’re coming off of a bye week returning home with the bad taste of the New England loss in their mouth, and they are going to be super pissed that they had to wait fourteen days to avenge that loss. My guess here is the Bills are going to get the nastiest, meanest Saints team that you will find, and the Bills will score late in the game when it’s already set in stone. It’s risky, but I say have some balls and take the Saints to cover.
Meehan’s Prediction: Saints 36, Bills 20
Coach’s Prediction: Saints 30, Bills 17
Dallas Cowboys (4-3) +3 at Detroit Lions (4-3) (51)
Meehan: The Lions are coming off of a loss against the Bengals, and you could make the argument that for them this is a must-win game. The Cowboys are in better shape here because there is less pressure on them to succeed. But on the other hand, the Lions don’t have that cushy division to fall back on like Dallas does. Dallas can lose this game, go back home 4-4, and still be in great shape – Detroit doesn’t have that luxury so I believe they will play better. There was a survey done by Forbes.com this week that said Tony Romo is the seventh most hated player in the NFL. I’ve always found him to be likable, but a little hard headed. I think this mostly comes from the fact that everybody hates his boss, and that maybe if his name was something other than “Romo” he might be more well-liked by football fans.
Another bit of noise disguised as news, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant suggested in an interview this week that he is better than Calvin Johnson and will play better on Sunday. Regardless of what happens this weekend, he’s wrong but he’s just doing what the Jerry Jones publicity machine has taught him to do. He could very well have a breakout game: Dallas has virtually no rushing attack and Detroit is 29th in overall defense with an extremly fragile secondary to boot. But the Lions are very good in playing high octane games and coming out on the winning end. If you remove the Green Bay game from their resume, they’re only losing by an average of three and a half points. This one should be chock full of a lot of big plays and fantasy winners. So it will be close, but I wouldn’t bet the spread.
Meehan’s Prediction: Lions 32, Cowboys 29
Coach’s Prediction: Lions 24, Cowboys 20
New York Giants (1-6) +7 at Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) (52.5)
Meehan: Is this the part where I am supposed to feel great about the Giants’ chances just because they beat a weak Minnesota team while I was listening to “Desperado” being performed live? Because if it is, something doesn’t quite feel right here. The Giants beat a pathetic Minnesota team on Monday that may very well be interested in trading the game’s best running back. It’s hardly reason to celebrate in this joke of a division where they still have no chance at making a late season playoff push. It’s that same joke of a division that has made the Eagles look a lot better than they really are – which still isn’t very good. Even with last week’s drubbing at the hands of the Cowpokes, the Eagles still aren’t anywhere near being a 3-4 team. They can’t stop anything in the opponent’s passing game, and that could be a problem against Eli and the G-Men. But will it? Manning was still been very bad in the first six games this year, and the Giants can’t run the ball at all. But after all that, really – it’s a 60% capacity Michael Vick versus Eli. And after Vick leaves the game because he aggravates that hamstring yet again, it’ll be Matt Barkley in his place. I’m taking the Giants, the spread won’t matter here.
Meehan’s Prediction: Giants 20, Eagles 17
Coach’s Prediction: Giants 17, Eagles 16
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) -2.5 at Oakland Raiders (2-4) (40.5)
Coach: The Steelers seem to be the model image of why the NFL has bye weeks. Going 0-4 before the break the Steelers have won two in a row since including knocking off rival Baltimore last week at the Ketchup Bottle. This week the Steelers will be heading west to take on the Raiders in one of the harder gamest to pick this week. Although nobody would call the Raiders “good” remember they do have identical records to the Steelers and have shown some signs of life since Terrelle Pryor took over quarterback duties. During the bye Pryor had quarterback expert Tom House over to try to give the new Raiders’ QB a workout and see if he could help out some of his throwing mechanics. One thing to keep in mind when looking at this game is that the Raiders have lost their last ten games coming off of a bye week and although I don’t put much weight on records like that you have to wonder how they will react to a Steelers team heading to Oakland with a new lease on the season. Although I don’t see the Steelers making the playoffs this year they have shown that they aren’t going to roll over and die either. With a winnable game like this I have to go with the Steelers to cover the 2.5 point spread and steal a win away from the Oakland.
Coach’s Prediction: Steelers 24, Raiders 21
Meehan’s Prediction: Steelers 27, Raiders 23
New York Jets (4-3) +7.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) (41)
Meehan: In the same way that last week’s game between the Bengals and the Lions was the most intriguing matchup of the week amongst football fans who really enjoy studying the way the game is played. The Jets have played surprisingly well as of late, and have been at the center of some controversy involving the rule book loophole fiasco against the Patriots last week. They’re 4-3 and just one game out of first place in their division. But they still have some issues giving up big plays on defense and making clutch third down stops in the first half. You can only get away with what the Jets have been doing for so long, and that’s why when it’s all said and done they don’t make the playoffs. (Coincidentally, because they have played so well with a rookie quarterback if they can finish at .500 I think Rex Ryan keeps his job. So we have antoher year to listen to his bullshit. Great…)
Queen City’s going to be hosting this game, and the Bengals will be every bit ready to handle everything that Smith and the gang throw his way. They are absolute beasts on defense – remember they did hold the Patriots touchdownless just a couple of weeks back. Any franchise that can find a way to make Pacman Jones work whilst staying out situations where he causes a hail of gunfire is very impressive, and even though their offense isn’t exactly consistent I have this thought that for once that may be a good thing. I read an article this week that said Andy Dalton may be the Bengals’ weakest link, and that very well may be right. But maybe (just maybe) he’s taking a little bit more time to find his comfort level and the later it happens the better chance they have at finally advancing in the playoffs. Big Red’s still 0-2 in the postseason at this point in his career, but with all of the top AFC teams showing some form of major weakness this may very well be the year that he’s able to get his first playoff win and maybe more. Coming out of this game with a win would leave them at 6-2 and take a huge step in that direction.
Overall the Jets have looked good so far this year, but I can’t pick against the Bengals at home. They’re just way too good right now and although Geno and Gang Green have shown signs of brilliance at times, I don’t believe that this will be one of those moments. Too risky to take Cincy to cover, but Coach is saying go for it.
Meehan’s Prediction: Bengals 27, Jets 24
Coach’s Prediction: Bengals 27, Jets 17
Atlanta Falcons (2-4) +2.5 at Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
Coach: The biggest news leading up to this game is that Steven Jackson should be returning to practice this week for the Atlanta Falcons. Although one player can’t completely turn the season around if he is able to play he will definitely be a help to one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL. Considering we don’t know his status yet you have to assume that Atlanta is still going to rely on getting all their offense through the air. To this point Atlanta has only played two games on the road which makes their 2-4 record that much harder to swallow. At this point in the season I’ve started to accept that the Falcons just aren’t a very good team this year and beating a disaster like Tampa Bay just doesn’t do anything to impress me, even with it being a division game. I’m not saying that Arizona is good cause I don’t think that but with the spread being -2.5 Arizona I just have go with the Cards.
Coach’s Prediction: Cardinals 24, Falcons 21
Meehan’s Prediction: (Yawns…) Cardinals 29, Falcons 26
Washington Redskins (2-4) +13.5 at Denver Broncos (6-1) (58)
Coach: If you think that Tom Brady was frustrated after losing to the Jets think how Peyton feels after going into Indy and losing to Andrew Luck who played very “Manning Like.” Even though last week’s game in Indianapolis gave one of the feel good moments of the year when Colts fan stood and gave Peyton his respect that was the probably the last time Manning felt good that entire evening. This week they will be welcoming the same Redskins team that put up 45 points last week on a stingy Bears defense. I honestly think that Denver has some major flaws on the defensive side of the ball which Andrew Luck and the Colts exposed last week but just like the New England game I just don’t think there’s any way the Broncos follow up a tough road loss by losing to a lesser opponent at home. The spread on the game is -13.5 Denver which seems a bit high to me so I’m going to pick the Broncos to win but the Skins to make it slightly closer than the spread. RGIII seems to be improving every game and I think he will keep it closer than that.
Coach’s Prediction: Broncos 34, Redskins 21
Meehan’s Prediction: Broncos 38, Redskins 27
Sunday Night Football: Green Bay Packers (4-3) -10.5 at Minnesota Vikings (1-5) (46.5)
Coach: Anyone who decided to stay up late Monday Night saw one of the sloppiest offensive performances in recent memory by the Minnesota Vikings. I understand the Vikings taking Josh Freeman but what I don’t understand is why they decided to stick with him when it was obvious he still doesn’t have any grasp on the offense. Luckily for Minnesota, a team that couldn’t score on a bad Giants defense, they get to welcome the division rival Green Bay Packers. While Green Bay is coming off their third win in a row things are not good on the frozen tundra as they continue to be a battered and injured football team. It’s going to be a while before Aaron Rodgers has a healthy core of targets to throw to but if the Packers do have one thing going for them it’s that their offensive and defensive lines have continued to be one of the top in the NFL. Whether you’re throwing to Jermichael Finley, James Jones, or Andrew Quarless if you give Rodgers time he’s going to find someone to throw the ball to. That being said I’m shocked that currently the spread is -10.5 Minnesota and so I’m making this my guaranteed bet of the week.
Coach’s Prediction: Packers 24, Vikings 9
Meehan’s Prediction: Packers 31, Vikings 10
Monday Night Football: Seattle Seahawks (6-1) -11.5 at St. Louis Rams (3-4) (42)
Meehan: The Seattle Seahawks have kind of been my baby this year. I’ve nurtured them, chewed food for them and spit it back into their mouth, but most importantly they’ve been the team that has ended up not needing anybody to do those things for them. They are BRUTAL on defense, and even if Russell Wilson can’t put together a 300 yards game every time he steps onto the field they are going to be fine. This matchup (If you’d even call it that) should be no exception and when you consider that Sam Bradford won’t play. The Rams have no shot at winning here regardless of whether they start Kellen Clemens or sign Tim Tebow to a “Fish and Loaves” short term contract overnight doesn’t really make a difference – they won’t win here. You can go ahead and not only take Seattle to cover the spread but hold the Rams to almost nothing on offense.
Meehan’s Prediction: Seahawks 26, Rams 3
Coach’s Prediction: Seahawks 34, Rams 13
Chicago Bears (4-3)
Meehan: The Bears fans that I continuously bash for believing that their team is a conference championship contender every single goddamn year need to understand two things: First, Just because your force fed ESPN Chicago nonsense tells you that Jay Cutler will be out four weeks doesn’t mean he’s going to recover that quick. Second, that’s not even your main concern as a defensive football team when Briggs will likely be out just as long or longer. Remember these are the Chicago Bears, the “Monsters of the Midway”, a franchise that prides itself on defense and they just gave up 45 points to Robert Griffin – a guy who’s lost both of his NFC East matchups so far this year. They are in trouble, but if you want to discuss Cutler, I can do that as well.
This is precisely why ever since that 2011 NFC Championship game there have been some questions about Jay Cutler’s toughness. This is proof those thoughts still exist on that sidelines, and Cutler’s about one more injury from ownership seriously thinking if he’ll be able to be trusted by his teammates. I’m no trainer, but I can name a lot of quarterbacks from the eighties and nineties who would have played through that injury and one of them is Boomer Esiason if that gives you any idea what we’re working with here.
This division is still up for grabs, with three teams within a half game of first place and Minnesota permanently on suicide watch after getting clocked by the previously winless Giants. The Bears can make a serious push to get past teams like the Lions and the Packers and maybe McCown is exactly the shot in the arm that they needed. But if that doesn’t end up being the case, I won’t be the least bit shocked.
Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
Meehan: Jump off this shit while you still can. The Ravens couldn’t beat the Chargers one on one right now, and that’s the exact type of team they’ll be competing for a playoff spot with at the end of December. If they can do one thing correctly in their week off, it’s to remove some of that ego that they’ve been selling themselves. Confidence is one thing, but what Baltimore has is something that’s much more counterproductive than simply believing in yourself. Ray Rice has been shit this year, hurt or not – he’s averaging 2.8 yards a carry and the Ravens (once one of the most well managed teams in football when it came to pace just a year ago) are in the bottom ten percent of the league in rushing. Maybe John Harbaugh can show the team some clips of how good his brother was in college, followed by how awful he was in the pros to show them just how quickly everything can go to hell.
Houston Texans (2-5)
The Texans have bigger problems than violated marijuana-related team rules, and this week they cut three guys for that reason which should be a non-story. There are plenty of players in the NFL who get crisp (I know, it’s shocking…) and if the Texans should be cutting anybody for anything, it should be for being shit. Keep in mind, this was a Super Bowl contending team when the year started. It was a team that had aspirations to play in that game so much that head coach Gary Kubiak was likely going to be fired if he won anything short of a conference championship. Now, I have close friends who are gambling on when he’ll be fired over the next month or so. That’s a big leap of faith off of a tall building, and I don’t see any way they are going to turn it around.
While almost everyone had them losing the Kansas City game last week, nobody saw them getting beat by the Rams at the expense of 25 points. And like I said just two days ago, I can’t see anyway in the world a team who’s ranked first against the pass (giving up under 150 yards per game) hasn’t won in almost a month and a half. It’s baffling, much like everything else that is coming out of this camp.
Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
Coach: The Colts had my most impressive win of the season last week beating Denver at home and in my opinion should be looked at like one of the elite teams in the AFC. Yes Andrew Luck is young and games like he had against the Chargers are going to happen but I do believe that he is good enough to take this team on a deep playoff run. Unfortunately the loss of Reggie Wayne will more than likely prohibit them from making it to Super Sunday but with the schedule ahead this is a team that could end 11-5, 12-4, or even 13-3 if they are able to take care of business without Wayne, I’m looking at you T.Y. Hilton. As much fun as last week’s game was I’m really hoping that the Colts and Broncos can match up in the playoffs, this time in Denver. The Colts need to take the bye to look at what they can do to fill in for Wayne and move forward. I don’t think this is THE year for Indy but they aren’t far away.
San Diego Chargers (4-3)
Coach: The Chargers are going into the bye at 4-3 and are one of the bigger surprises of the 2013 season. Philip Rivers continues to look like the Rivers of old although he is going to have to keep up his excellent first half numbers if the Chargers are to remain relevant in the West. As good as the Chargers have been so far I don’t think they’ll be able to continue at the pace they have so far. They have only played one division game and that at Oakland. With five more AFC West games to go Rivers still has to match up with Peyton twice, play Kansas City two times, and still have to road trips to the east coast. Although I think San Diego may actually be good enough to split with Kansas City in the end it’ll be really hard for this team to continue its pace after this week. Next up is at the Redskins which if they can get past one of the longer trips in the NFL with a win could make for an interesting rest of the year.
Tennessee Titans (3-4)
Coach: Tennessee lost owner Bud Adams who passed away at the age of 90 this past week. Although the Titans have on the field issues they have to address credit has to be given to Adams who was one of the founding fathers of the AFL and the senior owner in the NFL as owner of the Houston Oilers/ Tennessee Titans. Although as a Cleveland fan I have never been a fan of owners uprooting teams I will give credit to Adams for the fingerprint he left on the NFL. With the Titans coming off the bye riding a three game losing streak I have to wonder how the passing of Adams will affect the rest of the seasons. The Titans at this time have no new owner in place and as NFL fans are aware new owners mean big changes. I never thought the Titans were playoff bound before this but with players playing for their NFL lives it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. After the bye the Titans have back to back games against the Rams and Jags both of which are winnable and will tell a lot on how much this team will be playing for the remainder of the season.
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Meehan and Coach Ryan