by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
Here at FOH we try to discuss what goes on in the field of play as opposed to the hype machine that surrounds the non-stories other websites will toss down your throat. Koz isn’t going to like this, but there are two stories that should be non-issues here and one of them involves his team. The New England Patriots faced a do-or-die situation on the last play of their Monday Night game with Carolina. There was a flag that suggested that another untimed down was to take place, but it was picked up because of a judgment call. The other was a Washington Redskins Offensive lineman (whose name I refuse to mention) that has opened a whole different can of worms because he is accusing a referee of swearing at him – not something that would have happened thirty years ago. The point here is: Both of these are non-stories, and this is what will really be happening on the field this upcoming weekend.
Thursday Night Football: New Orleans Saints (8-2) -9.5 at Atlanta Falcons (2-8) (53)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) +10 at Detroit Lions (6-4) (48.5)
Coach’s Prediction: Lions 31, Buccaneers 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Lions 31, Buccaneers 18
Minnesota Vikings (2-8) +4.5 at Green Bay Packers (5-5) (44)
Meehan’s Prediction: Vikings 20, Packers 17
Coach’s Prediction: Vikings 24, Packers 21
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) +11.5 at Houston Texans (2-8) (43.5)
Coach: Much like the Detroit and Tampa this is a game with a huge point spread and two unpredictable teams. Houston’s not a good team and anytime you give bad teams a double digit advantage in a division game you have the leery. Jacksonville is one of the worst teams in the NFL but never underestimate the potential of how close a division game can be. Although Case Keenum has showed potential he was benched last week by Head Coach Gary Kubiak. Look at the facts; Houston has lost eight games in a row, they have one of the worst quarterback situations in the NFL, they are playing a team within their division, and finally they are playing Jacksonville. I’m almost surprised the NFL didn’t put this game on Monday Night. The good part about this game is that these teams play each other twice within a three week period so perhaps holding off this week to see what happens for Week 14 may be a good idea. The spread on the game is -11.5 Houston and this is another instance where I’m taking the home team but staying away from that huge spread.
Coach’s Prediction: Texans 27, Jaguars 19
Meehan’s Prediction: Jaguars 23, Texans 19
San Diego Chargers (4-6) +5 at Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) (41)
Meehan’s Prediction: Chiefs 26, Chargers 9
Coach’s Prediction: Chiefs 24, Chargers 17
Carolina Panthers (7-3) -4 at Miami Dolphins (5-5) (41)
Coach: This week is really throwing me off on the spreads. With huge spreads in Houston and Detroit we have a really close one in Miami. Last year the Seahawks were my darlings of the NFC and became my favorite team to watch (behind Cleveland of course). As much as I still enjoy watching the Hawks this year my favorite team to follow has hands down been Carolina. The Panthers are coming off yet another massive win on Monday Night against the Patriots and at this point show no signs of slowing down. A lot can be said about Carolina’s struggles on offense but their defense is just plain nasty and in the NFL sometimes that’s all you need to make a run at Super Sunday. Calm down, I’m not saying the Panthers are going to the Super Bowl but they have a defense that could take them there. Worse teams have won Super Bowls with worse quarterbacks. Trent Dilfer ring a bell? Miami on the other hand continues to keep their playoff hopes alive in the crazy race for the second AFC Wild Card after their win against the Chargers last week. Even though the second playoff spot is going to go to a mediocre team I just don’t see the Dolphins being that team. If Miami is going to make a legit run at the last playoff spot they are going to have to win at least 3-4 of their last six games, I just don’t see this as one of those games. The spread is -3.5 Carolina and although I don’t think this is going to be a blowout I think Carolina will win and cover.
Coach’s Prediction: Panthers 30, Dolphins 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Panthers 25, Dolphins 15
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) +1 at Cleveland Browns (4-6) (41)
Coach: If you’re a fan of a sports team you know there’s always that one team that you despise more than anything, for fans in Cleveland that team is Pittsburgh. Cleveland is used to losing along with getting their hopes up before they get shattered like last week in Cincinnati. In Pittsburgh that losing feeling is new and not something they want to get too used to. Over the past few weeks both these teams have shown potential and have had a few good wins to go with a couple bad losses. In the end this game is going to come down to an old fashion AFC North defensive battle for field position. While I obviously give the edge to Pittsburgh on the offensive front the Browns defense is out for blood after letting up a ton of points last week due to mistakes on the offense and special teams. If Jason Campbell is able to play like he did a few weeks ago keeping the defense fresh the Steelers are going to have to rely on their receivers and the way the Browns secondary is playing it could be a long day for Big Ben. The Browns are favored by -1 and I’m taking them to cover and take care of their hated rivalries in a tight game.
Coach’s Prediction: Browns 26, Steelers 23
Meehan’s Prediction: Steelers 30, Browns 24
Chicago Bears (6-4) EVEN at St. Louis Rams (4-6) (45.5)
Meehan: I know that the Bears did knock off the defending Super Bowl Champions last week, and I know the Rams looked awfully good against the Colts two weeks back but Bears fans are probably throwing a fit that they aren’t favored. And why wouldn’t they? It’s not like Kellen Clemens is the next Tom Brady…But that matchup isn’t really what this game will be about. Although St. Louis’ offense is far from powerful, their defense and special teams are exactly the type of squads that can really get at a second stringer and the guys behind him and wreck their dinner plans. And this game has EVEN odds, so it will only take one of these mistakes to bury the Bears and drop them to 6-5. And it’s not even done in a spoiler role, as one might think given the Rams’ position in the NFC West race. While spoiler teams are hell bent on vendettas and revenge aimed at teams that don’t warrant the wrath of their anger, teams like St. Louis are just plain crazy like we saw in the Indianapolis game. Spoiler squads are the guy who carefully crafts a letter to the local paper when he views injustice in his community, but the Rams are the guy who cuts his nipples off with a paper slicer, goes outside naked and bleeding profusely from the chest with a wreath dangling from the tip of his Johnson, and shoots an assault rifle into the air until someone from the police force shows up and informs his family that 1) those funeral arrangements aren’t going to make themselves, and 2) you might want to go inside because you’re probably not going to want to watch this. In other words, the Rams are just plain crazy. I really like them at home to win this one and be much less out of control than the above situation I just described.
Meehan’s Prediction: Rams 24, Bears 17
Coach’s Prediction: Bears 21, Rams 20
New York Jets (5-5) +4 at Baltimore Ravens (4-6) (40)
Coach: In another battle for positioning for the final playoff spot this game is a perfect representation of how strange of a year it’s been in the NFL. Although the Jets are only 5-5 they currently are holding onto the final playoff spot in the AFC just above the 4-6 Ravens who technically still have a shot at it as well. Out of the entire NFL there might not be a more confusing team than the Jets who lost handily to the Bills a week after beating the Saints. The Jets have been awful on the road winning only at Atlanta and Baltimore if anything has at least played well at home. Although the Ravens are favored in this game you have to wonder if what Jets team you’re going to get. Rex Ryan has been able to stop the Jets from losing more than one game in a row and typically is able to get them to play their best football following a loss. The Ravens on the other hand are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Bears and at this point are playing for their playoff lives. The Jets are holding onto their playoff hopes having tough but winnable games the rest of the way with the exception of Carolina in a few weeks. The spread on the game is -4 Baltimore but this is a game that has Jets written all over it. Rex Ryan will have his team ready to play and New York will win a tight one to stay in the hunt.
Coach’s Prediction: Jets 23, Ravens 20
Meehan’s Prediction: Ravens 19, Jets 16
Tennessee Titans (4-6) EVEN at Oakland Raiders (4-6) (41.5)
Meehan: Raiders games are like the 1-800-BETS-OFF games of the Vegas Strip. They don’t want you to gamble on the lines and that’s why they seem to post so many even odds on Oakland regardless of who they’re playing. And I can’t tell if that’s because they really are unsure about the odds or if they just think putting money on it is too depressing. (But then again, that’s what the over/under is there for. You can go back to filling out your payday loan paperwork now…) In this instance, it’s dead on because the Titans are basically in the same wheelhouse here. The Titans actually didn’t start the year out that bad…They were 3-1 but shortly thereafter it became pretty apparent that they weren’t going to be able to weather the same injury-related storms that the rest of the league has, and it’s been a rocky road ever since. Remember that limbo area I said the Chargers were in earlier on in this piece? The Titans are bringing up the rear of that group along with Buffalo, only Tennessee is in 2nd place. I can’t write anymore about this without wanting to call my doctor up and ask him for a Cymbalta prescription, so I’ll wrap it up right here. I don’t get to do this a lot, so Eric – this one’s for you…
Meehan’s Prediction: Raiders 33, Titans 24
Coach’s Prediction: Raiders 19, Titans 16
Indianapolis Colts (7-3) +1 at Arizona Cardinals (6-4) (45)
Coach: In one of the most interesting games this week, Andrew Luck and the Colts head west to take on the Cardinals. It’s been obvious that the Colts aren’t the team they were with Reggie Wayne, but they still are able to sit as the number two seed in the playoff picture. With Indy only having three more games against opponents with winning records starting this week with Arizona. There’s going to be a lot of emotion between sidelines with Bruce Arians having to go up against his former team and mentor, so this should be a really tight game. The Cardinals are going to have to be at their best in their secondary which shouldn’t be impossible considering the lack of running game Trent Richardson has been able to put together. In picking this game you have to go with the idea that the quarterback is the most important position and in a big game I’d much rather go with Luck over Palmer, regardless of who is surrounding him. With the spread at -1 Arizona I’m going to go against them and pick the Colts to pull out a close win.
Coach’s Prediction: Colts 24, Arizona 21
Meehan’s Prediction: Cardinals 30, Colts 28
Dallas Cowboys (5-5) +2.5 at New York Giants (4-6) (47)
Meehan’s Prediction: Cowboys 33, Giants 37
Coach’s Prediction: Cowboys 22, Giants 19
Sunday Night Football: Denver Broncos (9-1) -1 at New England Patriots (7-3) (55.5)
Coach: This will be the fourteenth time we have Manning going head to head with Brady and my advice to you is to sit back and enjoy. Forget that The Patriots are coming off a Monday Night heartbreaker or that Peyton Manning just won his biggest game of the year against the Chiefs, this game comes down to pride between two AFC Powerhouses. The last time these two teams met was last year when New England went into Denver and dominated the Broncos, but that was early in the season and the Broncos have gotten significantly better. Since the Broncos lost that game they have gone 20-1 in the regular season with their only loss coming to the Colts. The Patriots on the other hand have dealt through a lot and somehow have managed to stay near the top of the AFC. Forget last week’s games between these two teams this is the battle of the heavy weights and right now Peyton is favored -1 in the spread. This will be Denver’s toughest matchup to date and although I think they’re the best team in the AFC I think not having Wes Welker combined with a banged up Peyton gives a slight edge to New England. Remember the Patriots are angry after Monday’s Night letdown in Carolina and I don’t think the Broncos will like the Patriots when they’re angry.
Coach’s Prediction: Patriots 31, Broncos 28
Meehan’s Prediction: Broncos 34, Patriots 31
Monday Night Football: San Francisco 49ers (6-4) -5 at Washington Redskins (3-7) (47)
Meehan’s Prediction: 49ers 27, Redskins 10
Coach’s Prediction: 49ers 33, Redskins 17
Buffalo Bills (4-7)
Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
Coach: The Bengals enter the bye after getting away with a huge victory against Cleveland with the help of great defense and special teams. Right now they’re in control of the AFC North and should be able to win the division IF they are able to keep up the good play. Problem is, this has been a team that has been inconsistent at times and doubts are high on if they can put together a deep playoff run. Andy Dalton has struggled at times this season and AJ Green has had a few games where he has been a non-factor. After the break the Bengals will have a tricky rest of the season still having two division games and a huge matchup against the Colts in Cincinnati. Although they are sitting on top of their division they can’t let their standings get in the way of bringing this team together to potentially go deep into January.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-5)
Coach: At the moment the Eagles are leading the NFC East in one of the stranger divisions I’ve seen in a long time. If there’s a team that’s been more inconsistent than the Jets it’s been the eagles who have looked everywhere from stellar to a team that could be getting a top three pick. The most impressive part of the Eagles has been the play of Nick Foles who has given them some stability but you have to question how good they are. Even though they have won three in a row they have done so against teams that either aren’t any good or are lacking an Aaron Rodgers. They have a very tough schedule against teams that could give them some trouble. Then again this is the Eagles so who knows what we’re going to get the rest of the way.
Seattle Seahawks (10-1)
Meehan and Coach Ryan