Robert Griffin III finally gets his first taste of the NFC East in Week 7. Elsewhere, the Patriots and Texans look to rebound, desperate teams face off around the league, and the Raiders may not be as dead as you think. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Last Week: 7 – 7 – 0
Season: 56 – 35 – 0
Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)
Seahawks 6 at 49ers 13
No surprises here. Like I said on Thursday, the Seahawks offense can’t compete with good defenses. It’s a shame too, because Seattle’s defense is awesome. As they demonstrated Thursday night, the Seahawks defense will keep Seattle in every game. However, they’ll need to start scoring points themselves if they hope to win more than they lose, especially on the road.
Speaking of the road, Russell Wilson’s troubles away from Seattle continued Thursday night. Wilson completed less than 40% of his passes for only 122 yards. The Seahawks scored six points and Wilson threw another interception. Of course, his receivers didn’t help him much by amassing five drops. Regardless, the development of Wilson will be a season long project. Some weeks he’ll boom (like last week) and others he’ll bust (like Thursday night).
Wilson wasn’t alone, though, as Alex Smith also struggled… again. Is it time for 49er fans to start panicking or are they waiting for another three-interception performance? The goal line interception was especially bad. At some point, Smith must make plays for the 49ers to be successful in the postseason. Jim Harbaugh’s brother, John, knows this better than anyone as his Ravens struggled mightily in the playoffs until Joe Flacco improved. As the Seahawks have demonstrated perfectly in 2012, great defense can only take you so far.
Browsing through “Binders of Women” (Bye Week)
Asante Samuel decided to weigh in on the firing of Juan Castillo via Twitter and took some shots at Andy Reid, claiming Reid is the one to blame and he should point the finger at himself. Samuel’s tweet was the most aggressive act I’ve seen from him in five years. ZING! Even though the Falcons don’t play this week, I can’t miss an opportunity to remind you this team is a fraud. You’ll see soon enough.
Peyton Manning makes great commercials. He’s not afraid to look like an idiot and he’s at his best when he’s self-deprecating. With that in mind, some company out there needs to come up with a commercial centered around Peyton and Robert Griffin III running the 40 yard dash against each other.
Since many teams circle their meeting with the Chiefs as a bye week, it’s only fair the Chiefs get a bye week of their own. Congrats on not losing this week, Romeo.
Andrew Luck is the next Peyton Manning. Robert Griffin III runs through defenses. Russell Wilson is the comeback kid. Brandon Weeden is old. Everyone likes to forget about Ryan Tannehill, the rookie quarterback that has improved more dramatically than any of his classmates. More importantly, he may be the only one of the class to find himself in the postseason.
I had a conversation with my dad this week about how the Eagles lack leadership. Letting Brian Dawkins go was the beginning of the end for Andy Reid’s disciplined, focused locker room. My dad later called me back to say Jeff Garcia echoed that same sentiment on the radio. Leaders aren’t the best players on the team or the highest paid. Leaders are the guys that don’t back down from holding their teammates accountable. There are no leaders in the Eagles locker room right now. In fact, I wonder how many of the young Eagles thought Dawkins was out of his mind for acting all crazy before the Giants game when he wasn’t even a part of the team. It’s called passion. The 2012 Eagles should try it some time.
There’s a running clock in football. Once you have a 24-0 lead after one half, it should be nearly impossible for the opponent to come back and win without a ton of help. Unfortunately for San Diego, Philip Rivers was willing to offer that help in the form of five 2nd half turnovers, including two that were returned for touchdowns.
Early Games (1:00PM ET)
Titans at Bills
It’s hard to predict what the Buffalo Bills will do from week to week. Based on their 3-3 record, I’d say Buffalo can beat the really bad teams (KC, CLE) and has a 50-50 chance of winning against lousy offenses (beat Arizona, lost to the Jets). Against the NFL’s top teams (SF, NE), the Bills simply can’t compete. In which category do the Titans fall? I’m going with the 50-50 club. Though Kenny Britt dropped at least four passes last Thursday, he brought a swagger to the Titan offense that was missing through the first five weeks. Both defenses are bad here, so we could see a shootout between Matt Hasselbeck and Ryan Fitzpatrick. To be clear, a shootout between Hasselbeck and Fitzgerald will likely include 4 to 6 interceptions. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans +3
Redskins at Giants
Now that the Giants proved their dominance by taking out the 49ers, many have asked whether they revert to their underachieving ways. Not a chance, at least not this week. With all the hoopla surrounding Robert Griffin III, you can bet the Giants are licking their chops to humble RG3 in front of a national audience. Rallying as underdogs, beating NFL golden boys, and finding astonishing ways to lose to the Eagles; this is what the Tom Coughlin Giants are all about. The Washington RobertGrffinskins are in for a rude awakening. Welcome to the NFC East, rook. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants -6.5
Saints at Buccaneers
New Orleans is ranked 26th in the NFL against the pass. Tampa Bay is 31st. I think that favors Drew Brees. Every game for New Orleans is a must win at this point if they have any hope of sniffing the playoffs. I suppose desperation and the NFL’s 2nd worst pass defense should equate to a Saints victory. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints -2
Cowboys at Panthers
Not a good situation for the Cowboys. The Panthers are coming off a bye and will likely play their best game of the year. A loss essentially ends Carolina’s season. A loss for Dallas may end Jason Garrett’s career. I want to pick the most desperate team but I can’t even decide which team that is. Oh well. Here’s part of an email I received from my brother (a Panthers fan) in regards to the Panthers bye week:
“Charlotte Observer wrote an article about how Cam still believes in the Panthers, heard his father’s advice, and understands that he needs to lead better. But tucked in the second sentence of the article was this: ‘Newton visited a haunted house, rode Go-Karts, went to a movie and played video games – a lot of video games’ “
I think I’m with my brother on this. A franchise quarterback with maturity issues spending the bye week visiting haunted houses, riding go-karts and playing video games doesn’t scream maturity to me. Unless of course he was playing Madden in order to improve his ability to read defenses. Hmmmmm. Yep, I’m convinced. Newton and the Panthers are in for a big day. Go-kart party afterward!!!! PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers +2.5
Ravens at Texans
The Ravens have every reason to lose here. The Texans have every reason to win. I expect it to play out that way. Baltimore was thrashed physically and emotionally last week against Dallas. Not only did the Cowboys run roughshod over the Baltimore defense, but the Ravens also lost their leader (Ray Lewis) and perhaps their best defensive player (Ladarius Webb). Furthermore, the Ravens have been flirting with defeat since storming back against the Patriots three weeks ago. Following that win, Baltimore fended off Cleveland in less than impressive fashion, barely topped the lowly Chiefs, and miraculously held on to beat Dallas… – actually, let’s rephrase that. – … the Ravens watched as Dallas shot themselves in the foot. Add Baltimore’s recent struggles to a bye in Week 8 and this is a perfect storm for defeat for the Ravens. Besides, the Texans have a lot to prove after being humiliated in front of national audience last week. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans -6.5
Browns at Colts
I don’t know whether the Colts are good or bad. Their victory over the Packers felt more like a Green Bay collapse than a Colts victory. Then a one-dimensional Jets team crushed the Colts. And I still can’t shake that Week 2 defeat to Blaine Gabbert. Yeah, I don’t think the Colts are very good. Lucky for them, though, the Browns are even worse. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts -2
Packers at Rams
Ok, Aaron Rodgers, you proved to the world last week your offense is still as potent as ever. Now we’re expecting a similar performance on a weekly basis. Good luck with that. The Rams are not to be taken lightly, especially at home where they’re 3-0. St. Louis is currently ranked 5th against the pass but I’m not totally buying. Here are the quarterbacks the Rams have faced; a struggling Matthew Stafford, Robert Griffin III (does his best work with his feet), Jay Cutler, Russell Wilson, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Tannehill. If you took the greatest attribute of each of those players and combined it into one quarterback, I’m sure it wouldn’t equal Rodgers. If the Rams can contain Rodgers and the Packers, then I’ll buy them as a top five defense against the pass. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -6
Cardinals at Vikings
At this point, I can’t pick the Cardinals to beat anyone unless the opponent’s quarterback is blind, crippled, or Michael Vick. Arizona was a nice story over the first four weeks but even their talented defense can’t hide the massive warts of the offense. John Skelton may eventually work himself into a groove as he did in 2011, but he’ll soon learn the same truth Kevin Kolb learned; you can’t throw the football from your backside. With no running game and no offensive line help on the way, Arizona can’t slow down the opposing pass rush. Jared Allen may spend more time whispering in Skelton’s ear than the Cardinals offensive coordinator. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings -6.
Late Games (4:25PM ET)
Jets at Patriots
The Jets defense isn’t on the same level as Seattle’s. The Jets offense isn’t even on the same level as Seattle’s (very, very bad news). I know Rex Ryan and the Jets like to think they own the Patriots and all that, but that was two years ago. The Jets aren’t very good right now, on either side of the football. As bad as New England’s defense is, there’s a 2% chance Mark Sanchez keeps pace with Tom Brady and the Patriots blistering offense. Expect New England to make a concerted effort to pound the Jets on the ground after Seattle swallowed up the Patriots rushing game a week ago. Also, I only picked two underdogs this week. I’m gonna get crushed worse than the Jets. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -10
Jaguars at Raiders
The race for 2-4 is on! I expected the Jaguars to stink in 2012. In fact, I expect them to stink through 2014. I wasn’t expecting another disappointing season from the Raiders. It’s amazing how much underachieving 1st round talent there is in Oakland. The season’s not over for Oakland, though. A win over the Jaguars, and wins over the Chiefs and Buccaneers in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively, lands the Raiders at 4-4 through the 1st half of the season. Oakland’s 2nd half schedule includes only one team over .500 (Baltimore). In the top heavy AFC, the Wildcard spots are totally up for grabs, so don’t sell your Raiders stock just yet. RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders -4
Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)
Steelers at Bengals
The Bengals had a cupcake of a schedule through the season’s first six weeks and they pretty much blew it. After opening against Baltimore, the Bengals beat the Browns, Redskins, and Jaguars before losing to the Dolphins and Browns. I thought 4-2 would be Cincinnati’s worst-case scenario. Obviously, I was wrong. The Steelers aren’t the same Steelers we’re used to, but if I can’t trust Cincinnati to beat the inexperienced bad teams in their division how can I believe they’ll beat the veteran mediocre ones? In 2011 the AFC North was all about defense. In 2012, it’s all about passing offenses. Ben Roethlisberger and Andy Dalton both rank in the top 10 in passing yards. They’ll decide Sunday night’s outcome. Since Dalton’s thrown an interception in each game this season AND lost six turnovers over the past two weeks, I’m taking Big Ben. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -1.5
Monday Night (8:30PM ET)
Lions at Bears
It’s only Week 7 and I’m already in full-fledge “root for outcomes that improve the Eagles playoff chances,” mode. Thus, Go Bears! Not that Chicago needs any help. Although the Bears haven’t faced the toughest schedule, you can’t ignore how they’ve been winning. Winning margins of 20, 17, 16, and 38 are quite impressive. I know MVP awards are reserved for quarterbacks these days, but Brandon Marshall should at least get some love as an early candidate for the award. He’s transformed the Bears offense into a legitimate force and given Jay Cutler the security blanket he’s sorely missed. In Marshall’s one bad game the Bears were dominated by the Packers. Coincidence? I think not. BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears -6.5
If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 8 – 5 – 1
Season: 44 – 45 – 2