by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson scored big on Monday when he got coupons from the DiGiorgno company for a year’s supply of free pizza. I’ve got some people in my life right now that don’t seem to have a very keen interest in humor. They consider a lot of it to be juvenile and poorly crafted, and can’t see how it applies to everyday life. A guy that damn near killed himself in a car accident because he was reaching for a pizza box just got free pizza for an entire year because of it. And he’s rich, so it was completely unnecessary as he could have just bought the pizzas himself. So if you’re one of those people that doesn’t think humor is a huge part of life, you’re just wrong because you can find it ANYWHERE. Here’s what we think will go down in week nine.
Thursday Night Football: Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) -2.5 at Miami Dolphins (3-4) (43)
Meehan: I have to admit, I am buying into the Cincinnati Bengals as hard as it goes. We all know that the AFC North is pretty much there for the taking. Baltimore isn’t playing well, and as long as they don’t do anything outrageous they should be fine. While that may not have been their goal on Sunday, they beat another professional football team by 40 points and that’s nothing to sneer at. The Bengals have a few guys questionable for this game, but I wouldn’t worry about it. The Dolphins like Coach Ryan said were the “sexy” preseason pick, and have slowly become the “tear your eyes out with a fork” regular season pick. They haven’t won in well over a month, and on a short week I don’t see them making much of a run at the team who might arguably be the hottest in the league. The odds for this game should simply read: “Same as the odds that a horse will be elected president.” Take the Bengals to cover easily.
Meehan’s Pick: Bengals 30, Dolphins 16
Coach’s Prediction: Bengals 27, Dolphins 17
Atlanta Falcons (2-5) +9 at Carolina Panthers (4-3) (44)
Meehan: These two teams have pretty much flip flopped on their preseason expectations. The Falcons were supposed to be the healthier team that we saw come dangerously close to going to the Super Bowl. They convinced Tony Gonzalez to come out of retirement and it’s looking for him like it wasn’t a great idea. The Falcons have constantly lost games this year that you think should be steals. And that’s precisely why they’re looking up at nine points to Carolina, which isn’t the nastiest alley in the city but it’s still ripe with the smell of hobo urine. The Panthers are playing well – that defense has been very solid all year and Newton is managing his temperament a lot better. Now their resume also shows that the best teams they’ve beat has been St. Louis, and that’s not that impressive at all. And when you look at the end of their schedule it’s rough – they play the New Orleans Saints twice between Pearl Harbor Day and Christmas Eve. But the Falcons aren’t playing anything that looks like good football so I’d pick against them facing about 80% of the league now anyway. The game is in Carolina, and I expect them to cover.
Meehan’s Pick: Panthers 32, Falcons 21
Coach’s Prediction: Panthers 30, Falcons 20
Minnesota Vikings (1-6) +11 at Dallas Cowboys (4-4) (47.5)
Coach: You have to give credit to the Cowboys, when it comes down to it they just find new and interesting ways to lose. After last week’s heartbreaking loss to the Lions, the Boys are heading into week 9 on top of the NFC East at a staggering 4-4. The Cowboys have looked exactly like you thought they would winning games they should but still not able to win games that they need to. Unfortunately for the Vikings this is a game where Dallas should win and with their only home loss this year coming in that epic matchup against the Broncos they SHOULD be able to take care of a Vikings team that is completely lost on what to do at the quarterback position. So far Matt Cassel is not just the only quarterback to lead the Vikings to victory this season but he is apparently the only quarterback they aren’t considering starting on Sunday at Dallas. I’m guessing that the decision will come after Freeman runs through the concussion test and if he can go he will. For some reason this whole Josh Freeman being on a team that is having a quarterback meltdown seems to ring a bell. So far the spread on the game is -11.5 Cowboys and although I’m going to pick Dallas for the easy win at this point I’m not ready to give the Cowboys that many points.
Coach’s Prediction: Cowboys 27, Vikings 13
Meehan’s Prediction: Cowboys 26, Vikings 21 and both of these teams can suck a high hard one
New Orleans Saints (6-1) -5.5 at New York Jets (4-4) (45.5)
Coach: The Jets played so bad last week that Rex Ryan refused to watch the game tape with his team, which although is good for morale somehow doesn’t seem like the best idea when going against an offense as good as the Saints. Something tells me that Drew Brees is probably drooling right now knowing that the Jets gave up 5 touchdowns to Andy Dalton last week. The problem with the Jets is halfway through the season and they still don’t know what kind of team they are yet. They can beat the Patriots one week after losing to the Steelers, before getting blown out to the Bengals. Although this far into the season and you know the Jets defense isn’t THAT bad (at least not on a regular basis) I still don’t think the Saints will have too much of an issue traveling this week to New York. The spread on the game is -5.5 for the Saints and unless the Jets fix something fast then Jimmy Graham will cover the spread by himself.
Coach’s Prediction: Saints 32, Jets, 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Saints 37, Jets 10
Tennessee Titans (3-4) -2.5 at St. Louis Rams (3-5) (39)
Meehan: In this less than comparatively significant rematch of Super Bowl XXXIV, the Rams are coming off of a last second loss to the Seattle Seahawks that they should have won. As unimportant as it may seem in a very clustered division with a lot of talent, the Rams are easily the best 3-5 team in the NFL and the best team that you know nothing about. Glover Quin had a huge game on Monday, and St. Louis is definitely a better team than the Titans are. Tennessee is likely going to try and run the ball a lot, but I can’t see them being very effective at doing so. (Note: Both of us are picking the under for total points scored) Nate Washington is Tennessee’s leading receiver, and when it comes to being on top of things their secondary is in the same wheelhouse as MC Hammer’s accountant. The reason why nobody was talking about them when they were 3-1? The same reason that nobody is talking about them now that they’ve lost three games straight since they had that record – They are not very deep.
Meehan’s Pick: Rams 20, Titans 18
Coach’s Prediction: Titans 20, Rams 17
Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) -3 at Buffalo Bills (3-5) (40)
Coach: It’s officially Week 9 and the Kansas City Chiefs are the lone unbeaten team marking the first time in NFL history that a team has gone from the worst record to 8-0. With only the Buffalo Bills and a bye week standing in the Chiefs way of heading into Denver for a HUGE AFC West showdown in Week 11 Kansas City has to be extremely careful not to get caught up in a trap game. Last week the Chiefs let the Browns hang around until the end so one has to wonder if the Chiefs are starting to feel the pressure of being top in the NFL or if teams are starting to expose a weakness or two in their game planning. One thing for sure about Kansas City is their defense is one of the stingiest in the NFL and as long as they don’t look past Buffalo the Bills should be in for a long day at home trying to put points on the board. If Buffalo is going to have a chance at all they are going to need a monster game from Fred Jackson. At this time C.J. Spiller is questionable with a high ankle sprain, which isn’t going to help that cause but the Chiefs defense will be too much for Thad Lewis unless the running game is able to open it up. The spread on the game is -3 Kansas City and although I think this will be closer than people think The Chiefs should be able to cover the spread. Come on Week 11!!!
Coach’s Prediction: Chiefs 24, Bills 20
Meehan’s Prediction: Chiefs 26, Bills 16
San Diego Chargers (4-3) EVEN at Washington Redskins (2-5) (51)
Meehan: This game is huge for San Diego because if they win, it puts some real heat on some of these other AFC teams that are in the playoff hunt. It’s still ways away, but we could see 3 AFC West teams in the postseason this year. On paper this should be a blowout in San Diego’s favor, but these are exactly the types of games the Chargers lose. (See Oakland game from earlier this season) My brain tells me that they will win easily, but my heart tells me that Phillip Rivers will find a way to blow this one and the Chargers will disappear into the background like they always seem to do this time of year. Upset special of the week. Why do you think the line is set at even? That’s a dead giveaway right there…
Meehan’s Pick: Redskins 21, Chargers 17
Coach’s Prediction: Chargers 24, Redskins 21
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) +1 at Oakland Raiders (3-4) (44.5)
Jim Plunkett seems poised to deliver a W against Philly this week
Meehan: Who’s ready to party? I couldn’t imagine having to sit through this one. Chip Kelly’s offense may not be quite what Philly is looking for in the long run, and they better hope Nick Foles is totally healthy (he passed concussion test and is expected to start) because if he’s not, it’s the Matt Barkley show and we all know how that ends. The Raiders are coming off of a big win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is a sentence fragment that was a lot more inspiring three years ago. Only problem is, now it means nothing and the Raiders are screwed either way because everybody else in that division is having a hell of a year.
Also, now that Michael Vick is hurt (again) we can take a look at what a hamstring injury is really like. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s right between your ass and your knee. In many ways, it’s just a guitar string waiting to snap. Michael Vick went out there and started because apparently, he’s Superman. And rightfully so, he came out of the game with the same injury. It would fit that the line on this game would be one point, and it would also fit that both Coach and I predict that nobody wins anything. This is my question: Who’s going to take snaps when Barkley gets hurt?
Meehan’s Pick: Raiders 13, Eagles 12
Coach’s Prediction: Raiders 21, Eagles 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) +17 at Seattle Seahawks (7-1) (40)
Meehan: If you’re into watching things that get ugly fast, you’re definitely going to want to check this game out. I’ve invented a drinking game for this one with one simple rule: Drink every time the Buccaneers do something intelligent. This way, everyone ends up being the designated driver. But seriously, this one is more setup to be a blowout than the Broncos/Jaguars matchup from earlier this year. Seattle is getting a ton of shit right now because they are losing close games on the road, but 7-1 is 7-1. They still have a lot of issues with longevity and such, so we’ll see how that pans out. And another thing: Sydney Rice’s presence is what will be missed, not his productivity. He’s been a decoy all year (If you’re that good and you’re averaging less than two touches a game, I’m sorry – you’re a decoy) so what they are missing there is only a tall guy who didn’t touch the ball a lot. So at the moment, Seattle is fine. Plus, this is the Buccaneers – a virtual bye week for them. By the time week ten rolls around, the offensive line will be healthier and they’ll be fine. Take the Hawks to cover an if you’re looking to complete a parlay this is going to be the game you’ll want to do it with.
Meehan’s Pick: Seahawks 41, Buccaneers 14
Coach’s Prediction: Seahawks 30, Buccaneers 13
Bonus Comment: I know that Coach is going to make a great point as to why the Jaguars are awful here at the end of the article, and without question they are – But I am going on record right now and saying that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the worst team in the NFL. They haven’t done one thing right that has an impact on the game five minutes from said impact all year, and they are the most undesirable team in the league to follow.
Baltimore Ravens (3-4) -2.5 at Cleveland Browns (3-5) (41)
Coach: If you have been reading this blog over the past couple years than it should come as no surprise on where my allegiance lies and although last year I found excuses to pick the Browns this year I have tried to be much more honest with my predictions and put my loyalty aside. That being said I have to admit this is actually a really hard game to pick this week and could go either way. The last time these teams played Cleveland was able to keep it very close at Baltimore with Brandon Weeden under center and last week The Browns actually looked pretty good with Jason Campbell under center in a loss. The Ravens on the other hand did not look impressive at all losing to the one win Pittsburgh Steelers. Here’s what I know for sure: Cleveland has a good young defense who when they aren’t exhausted plays really good defense and tends to play harder as the game goes on. Baltimore’s defense although still solid is starting to show signs of age losing to teams like Buffalo and a bad Steeler team.
In my honest opinion, neither of these teams are going to make the playoffs. If the defenses are both pretty solid, then it’s going to be another grind it out AFC North matchup where Cleveland is hoping Campbell can play another solid game and in a world where Joe Flacco has been struggling to score with the long ball. The spread on the game is -2.5 Baltimore but I’m going to make this an upset special and pick the Browns on the ground that Cleveland’s defense is just good enough to frustrate Baltimore and if the Browns can eliminate as many errors (especially dropped passes) the tandem of Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron should be able to help put points on the board.
Coach’s Prediction: Browns 24, Ravens 23
Meehan’s Prediction: Ravens 20, Browns 13
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) +7.5 at New England Patriots (6-2) (44)
Coach: This is one of those matchups that had everyone foaming at the mouth during the preseason that just doesn’t have the same flair anymore. To give the Steelers some sort of credit I thought that after winning two in a row they were a team that was on the rise and had a chance to cause a headache to a lot of teams the rest of the way. That is until they went into Oakland and let Terrelle Pryor run untouched for a 92 yard touchdown. Although their pass defense was good last week there’s a huge difference between Pryor and Brady and I have to think that Stevan Ridley will be used a lot after last week which should help out Brady who still is desperately missing a true number one receiver or even just a receiving core that can stay healthy. This will be the third game back for Gronk and I’m going to make the prediction that this is the first week that he is able to find the end zone. The spread on this game is -7.5 New England and I think Pittsburgh will continue to struggle offensively which will just give Brady and company too many plays for their defense to keep up with.
Coach’s Prediction: Patriots 30, Steelers 16
Meehan’s Prediction: Patriots 29, Steelers 20
Sunday Night Football: Indianapolis Colts (5-2) -2.5 at Houston Texans (2-5) (44.5)
Coach: Both these teams are coming off a bye that couldn’t have them both feeling more different. Indianapolis got a rest after spoiling Peyton Manning’s return to Indy and feeling like one of the elite teams of the AFC. The Texans on the other hand went into the bye losing five in a row to go with the biggest quarterback controversy this side of Josh Freeman. Surprisingly quarterback Case Keenum stepped in against the Chiefs and played remarkably well. Could we be seeing a Houston superstar in the making? Considering Case is from Texas and played his college ball in Houston along with how the Texans fans and media have treated Matt Schaub could just be the perfect storm for him to be treated that way during his first home game. The problem for Case is that he will be going head to head with one of the stronger teams in the AFC let alone hands down the most talented team in their division. I do think that Keenum and company will have the benefit of brining a quarterback without a lot of film to the table and considering Andrew Luck is down his best receiver this should be a really fun game to watch. The spread on the game is only -1 to Indy and considering all the factors I think this will be a close one but I do see the Colts finding a way to pull one out in Houston.
Coach’s Prediction: Colts 27, Texans 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Colts 24, Texans 21
Monday Night Football: Chicago Bears (4-3) +12 at Green Bay Packers (5-2) (49.5)
Coach: This is the type of matchup that makes it worth wild staying up late on Monday Night. Forget for a minute that the Bears defense seems down or that they’ve lost 3 out of 4. Actually don’t forget any of that. There are two factors here coming into this game which along with a lot of matchups this week seemed way better on paper, Green Bay’s offense against Chicago’s defense. It is going to take the best effort from Chicago just to keep this game close along with fill in quarterback Josh McCown playing the best game of his life. I know that the Packers game was tight last week in Minnesota but I personally put a lot of that on Green Bay looking past Ponder and The Vikings, something I don’t see the Pack doing again with McCown behind center. Even if Chicago’s offense is able to go on the road to Lambeau and put up a decent amount of points Chicago’s defense has continued to look worse on a weekly basis and if you think Aaron Rodgers isn’t aware of the problems the Bears have had at safety you probably shouldn’t be paying attention to point spreads in the first place. The spread on this game is -12 by Green Bay and there’s just too much going wrong in the windy city to think that a bye week could fix it. If anything I hope the Bears can get healthy for their week 17 matchup against the Pack in Chicago, hopefully that will be more like the classic Bears/ Packers rivalry we are used to.
Coach’s Prediction: Packers 37, Bears 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Packers 31, Bears 21
Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
Meehan: The Cardinals are in a weird position because even if they win out they are still going to be looked at as being below the first and second seeds in the NFC West. This is a good team – I know that Fitzgerald will stick around and they still have to decide long term who their quarterback is. For the moment, it’s Carson Palmer and on Sunday he had his best game since week one. Which is kind of like saying Austria breeds great leaders, but it is what it is. And for the record, Tyrann Mathieu is going to end up being a very good player in this league. He’s already one of the quickest, and he’s silenced a lot of the people that suggested he’s be unable to stay out of trouble.
Denver Broncos (7-1)
Coach: We all know that Denver is an elite team in the AFC so they will be taking the bye to prepare for a tough second part of the season. More importantly for the Broncos they will be giving a lot of rest to a lot of banged up players. With questions about Peyton’s ankle and injuries to Julius Thomas, Champ Bailey, Wes Welker, and others the Broncos bye is coming at a great time for them to heal up and get ready to hit the road to San Diego before their huge matchup against the undefeated Chiefs. At this point of the season Denver although still with a few flaws here and there seem to look like one of the most complete teams in the NFL. If they are able to rest up this week and stay healthy going forward there’s no reason to believe that this team won’t be among the most exciting teams going forward with all eyes locked on New Jersey in February. You can almost hear the two weeks of media discussions about Peyton playing in cold weather now…
Detroit Lions (5-3)
Meehan: The Lions were able to get an incredibly sneaky win last week, and are in pretty decent shape in the NFC North. With the East looking weak, and the Panthers making a late run being pretty unlikely, the Lions don’t necessarily have to win the division to make the playoffs.
There is one more thing that I want to bring up here – There were a lot of people who just assumed that Megatron’s huge day on Sunday was the greatest ever by a wide receiver. I was unfortunately one of those people who thought that as well. That is, until I saw the following graphic on Sunday Night Football’s Facebook page.
You read that right – the record for most receiving yards per game in a sport where people are laid out with concussions on an almost weekly basis is actually held by a grown man who at one point in his life was cool with other people calling him Flippers. That fact just blows me away, and the whole time I was waiting for his Wikipedia page to load I was praying that he was also bisexual. My prayers were not answered.
But seriously, the Lions are in pretty decent shape here. They are playing well and eyebrows are raised around the league that Matthew Stafford was not only able to run that one minute drill and win the Cowboys game but also that he had the balls to run that final play. People are starting to realize that despite the babyface this guy isn’t a kid anymore, and he’s in total control of that team.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)
Coach: What can you say about a team that has lost every game this season by double digits and whose biggest accomplishment was only losing to the Broncos by 16 points? At this point there’s nothing positive as the Jaguars have little hope for anything including staying in Jacksonville for the long term. With Roger Goodell recently saying he wants teams in London and L.A. it’s hard to picture any other franchise other than The Jags being on the top of that list. Trust me as a Browns fan seeing a team moved is nothing you want to hear about but sadly it seems to be the culture of this team. I still question why they didn’t make a move for Tebow, if just for the boost in attendance and merchandise sales. Jags fans will be excited going into the NFL Draft but with as many glaring holes as this team has I would have to think that they will trade down for multiple picks as taking a quarterback #1 overall will more than likely not do any good if you can’t protect him. It’s sad especially at this day in age in the NFL that I can’t think of anything better to talk about although at this point outside of the Draft there isn’t anything worth mentioning. I really would like to see Jacksonville win a game but against who? There’s still two against the Titans which as AFC South opponents should at least be kind of competitive then games at home against Buffalo and at Cleveland, maybe. Honestly at this point 0-16 seems to be way too much of a possibility.
New York Giants (2-6)
Meehan: The Giants are winners of two straight, and losers in just about every other sense of the term. That being said, they are still only two games out of first but they have some rough games coming up. After the bye they have the Raiders, a team is better than they are. But the following week they have Green Bay and every game after that they should lose with the exception of Washington, which doesn’t come until week 17. This season’s already a bust, they can’t gain any ground during the bye anyway, not a lot to see or discuss here. Brandon Jacobs is the team’s leading rusher at the halfway mark of the season with a whopping 154 yards. ALL YEAR. Sure he hasn’t played in all of this season’s games, but that might also be the most disturbing thing about that stat. So they can’t run, and they certainly can’t throw as evidenced by their zero offensive touchdowns in the Philadelphia game. And their defense isn’t much better, the only time they HAVE played well is when they run into teams such as Eagles that just can’t turn the page of a book without falling off of their deck. They have a great quarterback who’s having an awful year. There’s seemingly millions of things wrong with the Giants at the moment and they just can’t get out of their own way.
San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
Coach: Rewind to Week 3 when San Francisco was 1-2 and it appeared they were primed for a letdown season. Injuries were piling up and in the very competitive NFC West it seemed things were looking down for the reigning NFC Champs. Fast forward to now and not only are the Niners on a five game winning streak but they are about to reload with players who should be back to playing condition for the second half of the season. As if San Francisco’s offense hasn’t looked good enough lately putting up 30+ points in five straight games they will be going forward with a healthy Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree on offense to compliment the return of Aldon Smith on defense. A good argument could be made about the weak schedule the Niners have played recently but with still having three division games to go as well as traveling to Washington and New Orleans we should have a much better picture of what kind of team this is, more than likely a very solid Wild Card team.
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Meehan and Coach Ryan