by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
On Tuesday the Houston Texans finally cut Ed Reed, a guy who did not go out of the league in the manner which he wanted to be remembered. He had a great career, but it’s probably over now (or at least a scenario where he is effective) and I thought that maybe he might have done himself a favor if he just retired with Ray. The Miami Dolphins story has appeared to slowly go away, which is fine with me. You can only discuss grown men’s texting relationships so much before it just gets weird and uncomfortable. So thankfully, although this week’s slate of games isn’t the greatest it does give us a few things to watch. Here’s what’s up in week eleven…
Thursday Night Football: Indianapolis Colts (6-3) -3 at Tennessee Titans (4-5) (42)
Meehan: The Colts had a hard luck game last week where they got worked by the St. Louis Rams at home. And as I’ve previously stated, there’s no reason to hit the panic button on the Colts because of that one game. They are still a damn good football team and on a short week I expect them to take care of business in Nashville. The Titans are coming off of losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the equivalent of striking out in tee ball where you get 7 chances on the last strike. Jake Locker will not be playing in this game, and Ty Hilton should have a good day even though the Titans secondary is their strong point. This game here is more about the Colts getting themselves back into the groove of winning. They should be favored by way more than three and I expect them to take this one by double digits.
Meehan’s Pick: Colts 27, Titans 16
Coach’s Pick: Colts 31, Titans 24
New York Jets (5-4) EVEN at Buffalo Bills (3-7) (40.5)
Coach: With Miami suddenly appearing to be an insignificant factor in the overall playoff picture the Jets all of a sudden sit in last place in the Wild Card. In order for the Jets to keep their playoff hopes alive they are going to have to win games like this against a Buffalo team that desperately needs to have a good game out of EJ Manuel to prevent them from going into their bye week as losers of four games in a row. The biggest problem in picking this game is simply the inconsistency of the Jets who haven’t won or lost two games in row all season. The biggest example of this comes from their last two games where they got blown out to the equally inconsistent Bengals before taking care of the very good Saints the following week. The Jets definitely have had problems winning on the road with their only victory coming in Week 5 in Atlanta which although not a great team still is a tough environment to play in. The last time they played the Bills lost in New York by a touchdown although I’m guessing this game is going to be much tighter. Right now the spread on the game is EVEN and I think the Jets have the upper edge this week. Not only are they coming off of a bye week but they also finally will be healthy on offense with the return of both Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow. With the Bills passing game up in the air they’re going to have to rely a lot on the running game and if the Jets have been dominant in anything all year it’s their run defense. Expect this to be a tight game with New York finally squeaking an impressive win out on the road.
Coach’s Pick: Jets 24, Bills 22
Meehan’s Pick: Jets 22, Bills 13
Atlanta Falcons (2-7) -1 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) (42.5)
Meehan: What’s funny about this is that right now the Buccaneers are one of the maybe four teams in the NFL who the Falcons can beat. Which of course is hilarious, because it’s unlikely that they will. Tampa is coming off of a less than thunderous victory against the Dolphins, so this one is a real toss up. We were discussing on KUGR this week how fun it’s been to bag on Atlanta, as they are playing miserably. I called this way before the season started, and nobody should be surprised that the Falcons are headed nowhere fast. Every two or three years the Falcons can’t put humpty dumpty back together again, and then magically next year before the season starts the media lifts their quarterback’s name on high. They label Matt Ryan as this “elite level” quarterback (they like to throw that word “level” in there because even they don’t really believe he’s elite. And that’s one of the ways that they get around telling the truth…) So what is the truth? That Matt Ryan is a mirage, and at 2-7 regardless of any injury report that team is pathetic. I’m really wondering how much longer people are going to continue to believe in this guy. I hope the Buccaneers score 37 or more points in the game, but I just know I won’t be that lucky.
Meehan’s Pick: Buccaneers 20, Falcons 16
Coach’s Pick: Falcons 22, Buccaneers 20
Detroit Lions (6-3) -1 at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-7) (47.5)
Coach: This should be one of the more intriguing games of the week as the Lions have to go on the road to a tough environment and show they’re king of the NFC North. Green Bay seems to be done for the season and with Detroit sweeping the Bears for the season they sit in the driver’s seat if they just can take care of business and not play like, Detroit. The Steelers with as bad as they’ve played this season have won 3 out of their last 5 and although they aren’t a good team they don’t have the hardest schedule the rest of the way out. They still play the Browns twice, the Ravens who they’ve beaten, and the very down Dolphins and Packers. Am I saying the Steelers are going to make the playoffs? Not at all but the outside possibility is there if they can finally gel as a team and put together a typical Steelers second half. Unfortunately for them the Lions are coming off a week where their defense stood strong and with the recent news of Rodgers broken collarbone should be walking into Pittsburgh with a little more swagger. In the past this would be a game that typically the Steelers would have no problem winning but with as unpredictable as this season has been it’s hard to know what to expect especially from Pittsburgh. The odds makers are calling it a toss-up with another EVEN spread and this would be a game I’d advice to bet with caution. The Steelers have a good secondary that shuts down most teams passing games but most teams don’t have Megatron and combined with the way the Lions defense played last week has me taking Detroit. I’ll be paying special attention to this one Sunday as I predict whoever walks out of this game on top could have a solid final stretch the rest of the year.
Meehan: I know this is Coach’s game, but I’m jumping in here…-1…Really? The Detroit Lions, who have two tree trunk sturdy guys catching the ball everywhere and are arguably one of the two hottest teams in the NFL are only one point better than Pittsburgh because it’s a goddamn road game? That’s ridiculous. I don’t think anybody realizes just how bad the Pittsburgh Steelers are.
Coach’s Pick: Lions 27, Steelers 24
Meehan’s Pick: Lions 41, Steelers 20
Washington Redskins (3-6) +3 at Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) (52.5)
Meehan: Both of these teams are in an odd yet familiar place: The Eagles are .500 and are tied with the Cowboys for the division lead…The Redskins have the same record as the Giants and have an awful lot of explaining to do…And right now, they aren’t as good as the Eagles. On paper the Eagles should win easily, but on that same piece of paper you have to realize that Washington just lost to Minnesota. I’m hearing that there is a possibility the Redskins could look to make changes to Jim Haslett AND Mike Shanahan’s position if this continues, and that means they are in rough shape. Either way, this to me is the simplest pick of the week for me. I can see Foles having another big day (lo leave Chip Kelly with a very big decision to make) and destroying Washington here. Take the Skins to cover no questions asked.
Meehan’s Pick: Eagles 35, Redskins 17
Coach’s Pick: Eagles 30, Redskins 26
San Diego Chargers (4-5) EVEN at Miami Dolphins (4-5) (45.5)
Coach: The worst case scenario has happened in Miami and the season is all but lost for this team who started off with playoff aspirations. I generally don’t call teams out of it unless you start off like the Jags or are mathematically eliminated but all the football world got to see just how affected the Dolphins were on Monday Night. Not only is the Incognito disaster a huge distraction from the team but it took an already below average pass blocking front line and turned them into an awful pass blocking line. I’m not saying that San Diego has a great defense but if Tampa Bay was able to get to Tannenhill than so should the Chargers. The one thing the Dolphins have going for them is the distance that San Diego has to travel but after last Monday Night I’m back to thinking that the Dolphins are one of the lesser teams right now in the NFL. The last time I thought that they were able to beat Cincinnati but that seems like a lifetime ago in terms of what has happened to this team over the past week and a half. The spread on the game is -1 San Diego and I’m going to with Phillip Rivers and company getting a big win to stay in the AFC playoff hunt and the Dolphins to continue to sink.
Coach’s Pick: Chargers 24, Dolphins 20
Meehan’s Pick: Chargers 23, Dolphins 16
Baltimore Ravens (4-5) +2.5 at Chicago Bears (5-4)
Coach: It’s amazing how many teams this season are on par with one another as far as making this an incredibly hard season to predict. Both these teams in my opinion have their problems and are about .500 teams, but both have shown upside as of late. Surprisingly in Chicago the upside lately has been quarterback Josh McCown, who almost saved the game last week for the Bears and might have if Cutler wouldn’t have been pulled so late. Credit Cutler for returning early, but it was apparent soon after the game started that Cutler was still hobbled by his high ankle sprain. The Ravens on the other hand won in overtime against the division rival Bengals, but that was after blowing a 17 point second half lead. The problem with Baltimore this year has been their struggles on the road, going 1-4 with their only win being Week 5 in Miami. The problem with Chicago is they are relying on a bad defense and a backup quarterback. Even though I think this game is going to be a shootout Chicago’s defense has just been awful this year, especially their front seven. I know Ray Rice has struggled but at some point he has to have a decent game and the Bears matchup perfect for that. The spread on the game is -2.5 Chicago and I’m going against the spread and taking the Ravens to stay in the congested AFC North.
Coach’s Pick: Ravens 27, Bears 26
Meehan’s Pick: Ravens 23, Bears 20
Cleveland Browns (4-5) +5.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) (42)
Coach: The Bengals just haven’t been able to play the big man on campus this season. Over the past two weeks the Bengals have had their chance to start pulling away from the division but with overtime losses coming against the Dolphins and Ravens they just haven’t been able to step up. They do play in the AFC North were the Ravens and Steelers were showing their age and the Browns are just the Browns, no need to pay attention to them. Except the Browns haven’t just been the Browns lately and at 4-5 are starting to believe in their system and themselves. Reading through the Cleveland media over the past week or two the Browns are treating this game as a playoff game, a must win calling it their biggest opportunity since 2007. The last time these two teams played Andy Dalton was shut down throwing for no touchdowns and one interception. If the Browns defense is able to play like they did in that game the Bengals are going to find themselves in a load of trouble as they continue to let the division slip away. The Browns aren’t going to be able to put up a lot of points so it’s going to come down to two good defenses going head to head, the one that causes the most turnovers and wins the field position battle will win the game. Jason Campbell may not be the answer as the Browns quarterback but if he can string together a couple drives to keep the defense fresh the Browns may be able to steal another one from the AFC North. It’s a long stretch to picture the Browns sweeping the Bengals but at -5.5 Cincinnati, that’s just what I’m going to do.
Coach’s Pick: Browns 20, Bengals 16
Meehan’s Pick: Bengals 24, Browns 19
Oakland Raiders (3-6) +7.5 at Houston Texans (2-7) (42)
Meehan: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the people who make the Vegas odds don’t see the same things in Terrelle Pryor that they see in Geno Smith. Much like the people who compile the NFL’s power rankings, who have the Raiders at a hearty 27th. But giving 7.5 to Case Keenum is way more embarrassing than either of those things. Teams are threatened by the Oakland Raiders, teams view them as pedestrian. The Texans probably will win this one, but it won’t matter much to how any other team will finish. Both of these teams are way out of it when you consider their schedule so I don’t see either of them playing spoiler this year. Take Houston to cover. Point total should be a solid bet to take the under – neither of these teams have real firepower.
Meehan’s Pick: Texans 20, Raiders 14
Coach’s Pick: Raiders 28, Texans 19
Arizona Cardinals (5-4) -7 at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) (4-1)
Coach: Congratulations to the Jacksonville Jaguars who not only finally won a game against the obviously embarrassed Titans but also weren’t the last team to win this season. Now all Jacksonville has to do is keep their winning streak going the rest of the way out to finish .500 for the year. First up Arizona who was able to hold off the Texans last week at home in a game that featured a good defensive effort from the Cards. Right now the Cardinals are sitting one game out of the Wild Card in the NFC West but with games against the Niners and traveling to Seattle the Cardinals must not look past the Jaguars and have to take care of business traveling to the east coast. Although the Jags were able to take care of the Titans last week the victory did come with a price when Paul Posluszny, the Jags best defensive player went down with a concussion. Psoluszny has two interceptions and an insane 88 tackles in just nine games is listed as questionable although you have to think it’d make no sense to play him in this game and risk further injury. The spread on the game is currently sitting at -7 Arizona and between the injury to Psolusnzy and Arizona treating this as a must win I think the Cards pull away in the second half to cover.
Coach’s Pick: Cardinals 28, Jaguars 17
Meehan’s Pick: Cardinals 27, Jaguars 15
Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) at Denver Broncos (8-1)
Coach: I generally like to close with the spread and how I’m going to call it but I find it quite shocking that the spread on this game is -9.5 for the Broncos. I have stated how I think the Chiefs are slightly overrated and have had the luxury of an easier first half schedule but 9-0 is still undefeated and I’m surprised on the size of the spread. Consider the factors; Kansas City has a solid defense, Peyton Manning’s’ ankle isn’t 100%, and this is a division matchup that tends to produce very close games. The biggest factor to me is how Peyton’s ankle will hold up. Kansas City is leading the league in sacks with 36 going into this week. Denver can’t afford to let the Chiefs apply that kind of pressure to Peyton, bottom line. If Kansas City is going to have a chance to win Alex Smith is going to have to play better than he has all year and Andy Reid is going to have to go for the kill instead of playing the field position game due to Peyton. Like I said the spread on the game is -9.5 Denver and I’m going to pick Denver with the win but I’m definitely picking Kansas City against the spread.
Coach’s Pick: Broncos 27, Chiefs 19
Meehan’s Pick: Broncos 26, Chiefs 24
Minnesota Vikings (2-7) +13 at Seattle Seahawks (9-1) (45)
Meehan: Thirteen might seem like a lot to give to a team that before last week had struggled to make statement wins against so-so teams. But Russell Wilson showed some real talk in that game, and the Seahawks should cover here easily. Minnesota has been playing a little bit better, but that’s still several layers of play beneath where Seattle is at. Here again, the Seahawks need another huge blowout win otherwise everyone will be questioning “what’s wrong” with them. I can’t believe that Christian Ponder was 17 for 21 before he got hurt last week…(and they got outgained in that game by 125 yards) What a mess in Minnesota. They just can’t seem to get out of their own way when it comes down to it, and I project an awful lot of running into each other caliber play in this game. Seattle covers EASILY.
Meehan’s Pick: Seahawks 34, Vikings 13
Coach’s Pick: Seahawks 34, Vikings 20
San Francisco 49ers (6-3) -3 at New Orleans Saints (7-2) (47.5)
Meehan: This is the game of the week. It’s the most important game because whoever wins this game is essentially the two seed in the NFC, at least for now. The Saints looked good against the Cowpokes on Sunday night, but seriously who wouldn’t. They have all weapons loaded at all times, and look invincible at certain moments. The only type of team that can beat a team like the Saints at home is … a team like San Francisco. It’s a bad matchup for the Saints because everyone of the previously mentioned weapons can be countered almost immediately. The 49ers have a bunch of different guys (especially on the defensive side of the ball) who can step up and make plays, it’s just that in last week’s game against Carolina – Nobody did. And I believe they will but I wouldn’t gamble on this one if I were you. Also, if the Saints drop this one and the Panthers can take out New England, that division is tied with those teams still facing each other twice before the season is over. Plus, if they can remember where that circuit breaker is and just cut the power out again the second half could easily go their way. Upset special of the week.
Meehan’s Pick: 49ers 33, Saints 31
Coach’s Pick: Saints 31, 49ers 27
Sunday Night Football: Green Bay Packers (5-4) +6 at New York Giants (3-6) (42.5)
Meehan: This is how I know that the Packers aren’t that good without their QB – look at that line. Six points to the New York Giants this year is more than just saying you’re missing your QB. And the Giants should cover this spread. Don’t get me wrong – this is not some legit campaign which I believe will end in them catching Philly or Dallas when it matters most, the Giants are still not very good. But right now, the Packers are worse. Not only are they missing their stud arm, but they are getting buried under the Lions in the headlines which you know makes them upset. The last seven minutes of the Bears game clearly had an effect on their confidence level, so expect them to come out flat. And I like Matt Flynn but for some reason I can’t see him making this situation work, a lot variables have changed since the last time they were here.
Meehan’s Pick: Giants 30, Packers 18
Coach’s Pick: Giants 21, Packers 13
Monday Night Football: New England Patriots (7-2) +1 at Carolina Panthers (6-3) (46)
Coach: Last week Monday Night (and too many MNF) featured two terrible teams in the Dolphins and the Buccaneers while this week lends to a huge matchup as New England travels to Carolina. In case you were wondering if Carolina is a legit team in the NFC last week’s victory over San Francisco should have shown you they are. They have won 6 out of their last 7 and are sporting the most intimidating defense this side of Seattle. This game is going to come down to how well Brady can adjust to the pressure and if New England will be able to contain Cam Newton. Last weekend’s game in San Francisco was a dog fight where Colin Kapernick looked like a clueless young quarterback. This week’s game brings in one of the best at adjusting to tough defenses in Tom Brady which I think will be the difference in the game. New England is coming off the bye which gives Brady and Belichick way too much time to study film and get ready for whatever the Panthers throw at them. Don’t get me wrong this should be a game of cat and mouse but the experience of New England is enough to have me pick them over the -1 Panthers spread. Although I’m picking New England I think this game will be tight and could be a loss that actually motivates Carolina the rest of the way which includes two huge games against the Saints.
Coach’s Pick: Patriots 26, Panthers 23
Meehan’s Pick: Panthers 28, Patriots 23
I’ve noticed that the Cards are playing the Jaguars, and that the Saints are hosting San Francisco. If I am wrong about the New Orleans game, all Arizona has to do is come out with a win and all of the sudden they have the same record as the 49ers do. I wouldn’t sleep on them just yet – I wouldn’t bet the farm on them making the playoffs – But I think that there has been this assumption that everyone in that division that isn’t Seattle or the 49ers just sucks and that can’t be further from the truth. Arizona could knock off a couple NFC teams with playoff hopes that I can think of off of the top of my head. (Particularly Chicago and Green Bay) They have a lot of personnel stuff to fix in the offseason, but they aren’t there just yet and that team may be one very good trade away from being a playoff team again.
Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
Meehan: Awesome. Because there’s nothing I want to talk about more than the Cowboys right now. At 5-5, they’re in first place in what is slowly turning into more of a snuff film than anything else. They’re not ranked in the top ten in anything and their defensive stats are about to get a lot worse. Without DeMarcus Ware, that squad was eaten alive by Drew Brees last Sunday and he doesn’t seem to be recovering from his thigh injury very well. The Cowboys’ hope in their bye week is for the Redskins to come out and put a hurting on the Eagles and then have everybody in that game get injured at the end. Seriously, there’s this idea that because the rest of the division is so bad that the Cowboys control their own destiny and it’s bullshit. Their only hope is relying on the failure of others, because they sure as hell can rely on themselves. Assuming that the Giants can’t get anything going late and make a run, I really REALLY hope the Eagles win this division just so we don’t have to hear or see anything Cowboys after New Year’s.
St. Louis Rams (4-6)
Coach: Last week the Rams shocked me and most of the football world when they laid the gauntlet down on the Colts. They didn’t just win the game they dominated the game from start to finish making a name for Kellen Clemens along the way. This is a team that despite their record has some potential in the future especially if Sam Bradford is able to remain healthy going into the 2014 campaign. From the bye on it’ll be interesting to see if Clemens is able to conduct a few more upsets and the Rams should be able to squeak out a couple wins as they still have to play teams like the Buccaneers. Although the Rams won’t be a team that many of you will be paying much attention to the rest of the way I want you to remember Clemens. If he is able to play like he did against Indy the Rams might be able to get a nice little trade package together for him in the offseason for a couple extra draft picks which could turn this team’s fortunes around in a hurry.
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Meehan and Coach Ryan