NFL Week 10 Predictions: Make the NFL Great Again Edition

“It’s the heart of nuclear winter and I’m scared as hell.” – Glassjaw

Before we get into the preview, I’d like to get personal in what has been a trying week. Some events are too important to just remain silent. So skip down if you must, or if you need a sports-only rant, I ripped Tom Brady’s top games pretty good here.

This week, I’ve had the livelihood of my career threatened due to some behind-the-scenes issues with the rights of NFL data that you guys don’t need to know the details of (we’re working through it). I’ve felt a lack of safety in my own home this week after the threat of a gas leak that has thankfully been fixed on my street. On Friday, my community faced the threat of a crazy man who stabbed six people in a nearby mental facility (SWAT team took him down). That actually used to be a hospital years ago, and I remember going there one time as a kid after a late-night accident that required stitches and has left a little scar on my chin.

Yet I don’t think anything that happened this week is a bigger threat to scar this nation than the absurd election of Donald Trump as president. What more can be said about this scumbag that hasn’t already been said? Well, apparently we needed more, since we just elected him despite his long history of hatred, racism, misogyny, allegations of sexual assault (including child rape), that he has a total lack of experience, thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax, wants to build a wall (that Mexico won’t pay for), and the fact that he only cares about himself. “Make America Great Again” is nothing more than code for “I want wealthy white men to rule this country, and believe me, they will all know that I am the greatest supreme ruler, daddy-o.”

Charlie Chaplin made one of his finest films, The Great Dictator, back in 1940 as a satire on Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. His speech at the end of that film is one of the finest ever written, and it still resonates as much today as it did during World War II. Please take a few minutes of your time to watch this if you have never had the pleasure before.

People uniting to help each other — what a novel concept. That’s why I never cared about the Republican vs. Democrat aspect of this election. It never should have been about that as long as Trump was involved.

This was supposed to be an election for the lesser of two evils, but evil won.

What does it say when the KKK is so openly happy about Trump’s win? It’s one thing for a hillbilly in a white coat to be brazen in their racism, but Trump has empowered hatred throughout this country. Now as a straight white male, I’m not a target of the Trump movement, but what about the black community that I live in? What about my best friend who is half-black, half-Spanish, or my Jewish boss, or my Mexican relatives? How much more bullshit will they have to put up with now? You’ve already seen the stories from state after state this week of what Trump supporters are doing to innocent people. I’ve never seen the phrase “Go Back to Africa!” as much as I have this week. These feelings of hatred are deeply rooted, but it’s downright scary that the election of Trump has given so many a reason to act out, and it will likely only get worse. I thought we were going to hit a racial boiling point after the police shootings in Dallas this summer, but I really do fear what’s to come. As I said, as a white male, I’m not going to be personally affected too much by a Trump presidency, though the fear of nuclear war certainly endangers us all. But from a more realistic standpoint of what Trump will be allowed to do, I have real concerns with health care. If it wasn’t for Obamacare, I might not be here right now. After I lost my health insurance after college, I was denied coverage for a pre-exiting condition: hemorrhoids. Yes, a minor case of hemorrhoids over nine years ago denied me health care coverage. My doctor apologized before laughing about that, because he had never heard that one before. Now that I have had some serious health problems (a pulmonary embolism and sleep apnea this year), I worry about losing coverage again. While Obamacare has its issues — and those price hikes likely led to some Trump votes — it at least has helped people get covered.

Was this election the litmus test for drawing a line between stupidity and common sense? I already kind of figured that I generally don’t like many (most?) human beings, but I just want to thank the 60,265,858 Trump voters for helping me to put a number on it. I would love to know what percentage of that number actually voted for Trump because they support him as a person vs. how many were just voting for the Republican party. The two-party system is a joke in this day and age. It’s like a fan who roots for his team no matter what player is wearing the jersey. Sometimes, you need to read the name on the back too, and think about what kind of person you are supporting. If Trump ran as an independent without the backing of a major party, would he have ever gotten this far? Highly doubtful.

Did I vote this week? No, I’ve voted one time in my life, and that was 2004 (Kerry over Bush) when I turned 18. Hillary won my county, but perhaps she would have won Pennsylvania if people like me weren’t so apathetic towards this particular election. And I’m sorry, but if you voted for Gary Johnson, or anyone not named Clinton or Trump, then you wasted your vote. Voting for someone who you know has ZERO chance of winning is a fvcking waste of time.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Hillary was a terrible choice for the Democrats. I just thought it was painfully obvious that she’d make a better president than Trump, as would the dildo thrown on the field in Buffalo, but the votes still went the other way. I listened to a relative slam Trump over and over on Friday afternoon, and yet she still voted for him. Figure that shit out. She voted for Obama in 2012 too, and usually votes Democrat. We underestimated the amount of people who took a “they both suck, but I don’t want another Obama in there for four years” vote. And while change can certainly be a good thing, just remember that you are voting for a Giant Douche.

I look for a good week of NFL action (read: not Browns-Ravens) to take my mind off of the problems ahead, but as long as Trump is going to be president, there will be constant reminders of just how divided we are as a nation. And you can’t even really root for Trump to fail miserably, because a failed POTUS is bad for all of us. It might be funny to joke that he’s a puppet for Putin, but that is actually a terrifying thought. So thanks to Trump, we can’t even get schadenfreude out of this. I don’t think Trump will make it to 2020, one way or another, but I just hope the rest of us do.

Sometimes I like to end on a quote, so here’s that ending to the Chaplin speech from The Great Dictator.

“You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite.

Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!

Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance!

Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”

We can still learn more from The Tramp than we ever will with Trump.

NFL Week 10

We are now just past the halfway point of the 2016 NFL season. Week 10 has some really interesting games, but I already wrote a full preview of Seahawks-Patriots at FO, so be sure to check that out.

Broncos at Saints

At what point does a unit sustain too many injuries to be considered a different unit from the team’s norm? I’m not saying the absence of Aqib Talib and Derek Wolfe makes it impossible for the Broncos to play well in New Orleans, but it certainly makes things a little easier on Drew Brees and the offense. This is not the usual Denver defense at its best. If the Saints were without Drew Brees, we wouldn’t consider that the usual Saints offense, while we probably would if Brees was playing without his LT and a starting wide receiver. That’s just the importance of the quarterback position. For a defense, no one player has that type of impact, as even the Houston defense is still functioning about as expected without J.J. Watt. Again, this is more of a philosophical point than something specific to this particular game, but I am interested to see how the Broncos fare on the road against a team capable of scoring. Trevor Siemian will have to be much sharper, and while the Saints defense has the reputation it does, it hasn’t been scorched earth like last year. I feel iffy about picking New Orleans here, especially when I can see a good rushing performance coming from Denver, but I think I like Brees at home here against that depleted Denver D. He has rarely been pressured this season, and that’s how Denver thrives with Von Miller & Co.

Falcons at Eagles

Yes, we have the Eagles still first in DVOA, even though they’re the worst team to ever be No. 1 at this point of the season. Realistically, the Eagles are about a 5-3 team trapped in a 4-4 team’s record, with some really dominant wins and a few close losses. If it’s a close game, give me Matt Ryan any day over Carson Wentz, who has yet to prove he can win a game late or win a high-scoring affair (sound familiar?). However, I think the Eagles rebound in this one at home and play very well on defense to get the win. Ryan has historically seen a big dip in his production on the road, and I think the Eagles can contain the run and Julio Jones enough to keep the score down. Also, every team but Denver has scored at least 26 points on Atlanta’s defense, which could be susceptible to all the short passes in a YAC-based passing game like the Eagles have. Maybe I’m banking on DVOA too much here, but I just think the Eagles have a good game in them this week, and that the Atlanta D is still a major hurdle for the Falcons to do damage in the playoffs.

Cowboys at Steelers

I don’t know what kind of odds I could get on that, but I’d probably drop $50 on it happening without any concern. I just think this is a bounce-back week for the Steelers at home. The Dallas defense has been kind of smoke and mirrors, not allowing more than 23 points in any game this season, but I expect a 34-27 type of game where Pittsburgh exposes them with its talented offense. Remember, Morris Claiborne and Barry Church are out, so that’s two big injuries in the secondary. Don’t forget about Sammie Coates and his weekly 40-yard reception when he was healthy. The good news from last week’s game was that Ben Roethlisberger looked fine physically by the end of it. The struggles were more about rust/lack of practice time, a bad game plan, and too much familiarity against a good Baltimore defense. The Cowboys are an unfamiliar opponent, and for whatever reason, the Steelers home/road splits are massive in recent years. You saw how they destroyed the Chiefs on SNF a few weeks ago. I don’t think they can do that again just because of how efficient the Dallas offense is, but I see a shootout here with Ben having one of those special games. Think 2009 Packers or 2013 Lions or 2006 Saints. Yes, I ended up picking all NFC home games there. Roethlisberger is 18-4 at home against NFC opponents. The Cowboys are about due for a defensive letdown, and what better offense on the schedule to do that to them than Pittsburgh?

Besides, this will just set things up perfectly for the Steelers to take this huge win into Cleveland next week and lose to the 0-10 Browns.

2016 Week 10 Predictions

I had the Ravens on TNF, and I fell asleep on the game, but apparently they did win big.

Winners in bold:

  • Chiefs at Panthers
  • Bears at Buccaneers
  • Vikings at Redskins
  • Falcons at Eagles
  • Rams at Jets
  • Texans at Jaguars
  • Packers at Titans
  • Broncos at Saints
  • Dolphins at Chargers
  • Cowboys at Steelers
  • 49ers at Cardinals
  • Seahawks at Patriots
  • Bengals at Giants

Alright, no ties last week. That’s good.

  • Week 1: 7-9
  • Week 2: 10-6
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 8-7
  • Week 5: 7-7
  • Week 6: 12-3
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 7-6
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Season: 77-56

NFL Week 10 Predictions: The Andrew Luck Injury

So much for that IND-HOU Thursday night game in Week 5 being the “last significant game in Matt Hasselbeck’s career.” Andrew Luck is out for 2-6 weeks with a lacerated kidney and abdominal strain. The Colts, now on a bye week, are still favored to win the AFC South anyway, but it’s another big injury to a quarterback in a season filled with them.

A kidney injury does not sound like something you want to take lightly. Keenan Allen is out for the season in San Diego with one, so let’s assume Luck’s return is closer to the 6-game end of that forecast.

From a statistical standpoint, that means Luck won’t be adding his name to the year-4 record here, and he may not catch up to a record pace again until year 14, which would be the 2025 season.

MPYYX

It was in his 14th season that Peyton Manning had the four neck surgeries and missed the entire year (2011), setting up the Colts to draft Luck in 2012. Drew Brees only played one game as a rookie and was benched for five games in 2003. Otherwise he has been remarkably healthy, only missing one game due to injury (this year in Carolina). Manning will break the all-time yardage record in the ninth game of his 18th season. Brett Favre threw for 71,838 yards by the end of his 20th season.

Luck is in an era where there are more passing yards averaged each year, so he could catch up much sooner than expected, but every injury and game missed is a big deal when you’re talking about competing for records with great quarterbacks who almost never missed any time like Manning, Brees and Favre.

I’m going to have a more formal post (somewhere) about Manning and the passing record this week, but it is impressive when you think about what it takes to get to that number. A QB can throw for 5,000 yards 14 years in a row and still need another big season. Matthew Stafford aside, you have to be a pretty good QB playing at a high level to throw for 5,000 yards. Hell, even Stafford played at his highest level in 2011. How many quarterbacks can extend a prime performance out to 14-15 years? Luck was easily the favorite among all the young players to chase down this record, and even he has been questioned this year if he should be benched for poor play. We know Stafford isn’t going to see enough starts to ever come close to this record.

Yards are rarely a driving force in QB arguments as people tend to focus more on touchdowns, MVPs, WINS, RINGZ, but once you start talking about throwing for 50,000 or more, that has to be done by someone who was pretty damn good for a long time. Jon Kitna threw for 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons in Detroit, but he never did it well enough that the Lions or any other team would want to keep him as a long-term starter even if he was 10 years younger.

Time will tell what rule changes have done to this game, but I still like to believe this has been a special era of QB play. Greatness is found through consistency, and you have to be durable too.

Week 10 Games

Some random musings

I think you can forget about the Super Bowls the Giants have won over New England, because I don’t see a defense capable of holding the Patriots under 24 points on Sunday. Oddly enough, the only win in the last four meetings for NE was the only high-scoring game and the only game played in New York: the 38-35 final that pushed the Patriots to 16-0 and gave the Giants confidence that they could hang with the best.

I smell an upset of Tennessee over Carolina, yet I’m not ballsy enough to go through with that pick. Obviously this team is much better with Marcus Mariota at QB. And I don’t really want to credit Mike Mularkey yet, but Ken Whisenhunt had to go.

Another year, another Detroit loss to come in Green Bay. This would make it 25 in a row.

25 is a bit of a magic number for the Seattle Seahawks, as in 0-11 in the Russell Wilson era when allowing at least 25 points. Technically, Seattle allowed at least 27 in all 11 of those games, and rarely does a team score 25 or 26. So Arizona really needs to eye 27-28 for a win on Sunday night, but I think the defenses take over, both quarterbacks struggle and we get a low-scoring game that favors the home team. I still believe in Seattle, but it’d be a lot more believable if they played well in this big game.

2015 Week 10 Predictions

Screwed by the Jets again on TNF. Should have seen that one coming, but I would have said the exact same thing about Buffalo if things went the other way. You just can’t trust either team, yet these are supposed to be among the best teams in the AFC not named NE/DEN/CIN. Ugh.

Winners in bold:

  • Dolphins at Eagles
  • Bears at Rams
  • Panthers at Titans
  • Saints at Redskins
  • Jaguars at Ravens
  • Cowboys at Buccaneers
  • Browns at Steelers
  • Lions at Packers
  • Vikings at Raiders
  • Chiefs at Broncos
  • Patriots at Giants
  • Cardinals at Seahawks
  • Texans at Bengals

Season Results

  • Week 1: 10-6
  • Week 2: 6-10
  • Week 3: 14-2
  • Week 4: 11-4
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 8-6
  • Week 7: 10-4
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Season: 86-46 (.652)

NFL Week 10 Predictions: 2014 Midseason Awards

Now that every team has played at least eight games, here are my picks for NFL awards at the midseason point. Unlike some ridiculous experts who decided to make their choices based on what they expected in August, I’m basing my picks on what actually happened in Weeks 1-9.

Most Valuable Player – Peyton Manning

By definition MVP almost has to be a quarterback, and there are some really good seasons in progress right now, but Manning has outclassed them all so far.

Manning leads the league in:

  • DVOA (35.5%) and DYAR (962) (see FO)
  • Total QBR (86.9)
  • Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (8.69)
  • Touchdown pass percentage (7.8%)
  • Win Probability Added (2.99)
  • Expected Points Added per Play (0.32)

Otherwise, not much going on here. Andrew Luck is barely beating him out in EPA and TD passes, but he’s also played one more game than Manning, which will equal out this week with the Colts on a bye.

Plain and simple, no quarterback has been more consistently valuable this season than Manning. Philip Rivers is on a three-game losing streak that has buried him in the race, which he really never led in my view. Aaron Rodgers has been great, but his three road losses certainly look worse than Manning’s two, especially the respective efforts in Seattle. Ben Roethlisberger has been white hot the last two weeks, but he scored a total of 26 points in Baltimore, Jacksonville and Cleveland this year. It’s nice of the Chiefs to light a fire under Tom Brady’s ass, but that September start leaves him well behind the lead.

Offensive Player of the Year – DeMarco Murray

While I’m really starting to warm up to Antonio Brown for this award, let’s take a chance to reward Murray’s consistency at a position that has been so neglected in recent years. Eight 100-yard rushing games to start a season is a heck of a record to set in 2014, and it’s helped to keep that Dallas defense off the field. Now if only he’d stop fumbling.

Defensive Player of the Year – J.J. Watt

Is this one already wrapped up? Who else even stands out? While WPA is a pretty flawed stat when used for defensive players, I like that it says Watt is so far and away the best DE in the NFL. His WPA in 2012 was 3.20 and 2.32 last season. He’s already at 2.22 this season with seven games to go. He impacts the game in so many ways and he’s done it this year with virtually zero help from Jadeveon Clowney, which was supposed to be the plan.

Coach of the Year – Bruce Arians

I said BA had a death grip on this award after Week 8 and some Dallas fans weren’t too pleased with that. Well, he proved it again last week with a convincing win in Dallas after Jason Garrett spent the week playing an injured Romo in OT and getting away from DeMarco Murray with Brandon Weeden in the game. Arians has been COTY material for the last three years now. He does it by being aggressive on both sides of the ball and getting the most out of his flawed teams. Imagine if the Cardinals had Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington and John Abraham on defense this year. They’ve held everyone but Denver under 21 points without those guys so far.

The Arizona Cardinals have the best record in the entire NFL at 7-1. That fact alone is worthy of the award.

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Zack Martin

I like some of the rookie WRs, but wish the best ones (Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin) had better QB play to show off their skills more. And I guess the Steelers waited too long to get Martavis Bryant involved for him to be in the discussion, though keep catching TDs every week and we’ll see come December. So for now let’s just go with the boring choice of Martin, a guard who was like the final piece of the puzzle to Dallas’ high-resource cost OL.

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Anthony Barr

This definitely looks headed to a linebacker, whether it’s Barr, C.J. Mosley or don’t forget Oakland’s Khalil Mack. I’m going with Barr for now based on impact plays, and few were better by a defender this year than his strip, recovery and return for a game-winning touchdown in overtime against Tampa Bay. I know one of Mosley’s interceptions was caught off a deflection this year, so I’m not terribly impressed with that one, but he’s working out as expected for Baltimore.

Comeback Player of the Year – Rob Gronkowski

Always hate this award with its goofy criteria, so let’s just go with the guy who tore his ACL in December and has returned to being the best TE in football, and arguably the toughest overall skill player to defend.

NFL Week 10 Predictions

I should know better than to trust the Bengals in a prime-time game with a division lead at stake, but since when am I supposed to trust the Browns too? Crazy year in the AFC North.

Winners in bold:

  • Falcons at Buccaneers
  • Cowboys at Jaguars
  • Chiefs at Bills
  • Steelers at Jets
  • 49ers at Saints
  • Dolphins at Lions
  • Titans at Ravens
  • Broncos at Raiders
  • Giants at Seahawks
  • Rams at Cardinals
  • Bears at Packers
  • Panthers at Eagles

I sure don’t trust the Falcons, but Mike Smith might be out of a job if he takes a bad loss in Tampa Bay here. Remember Week 3? It’s the last time the Falcons looked competent for more than three quarters.

Put the Steelers on upset alert in New Jersey. That’s exactly the kind of game they should win, which is exactly why it’s the kind of game they’ll make a nail biter and possibly lose. I didn’t pick them to lose, but I know Michael Vick has started three times against Pittsburgh and every game was decided on the final snap. Injuries on defense should allow for Vick to have some favorable matchups with the weapons available to him. Ben Roethlisberger will come back to Earth eventually and the Jets have a defensive line capable of helping in that.

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-5
  • Week 9: 11-2
  • Total: 87-46-1

Had Colin Kaepernick scored last week I would be forever cursing the Chargers for that 37-0 ass-whipping straight out of The Twilight Zone for costing me a perfect week. Even if it was just 13-0, I want a perfect week at least once in my life.

NFL Week 10 Predictions & 2013 Midseason Awards

The 2013 NFL season is halfway over and we know just a little more than we did in August.

We know four fairly consistent teams are sitting at 2-6 and possibly (likely?) headed for their first losing season in some time: Texans (2010), Falcons (2007), Giants (2004) and Steelers (2003). The Ravens (3-5) may soon join them for the first non-playoff season in the John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco era. Too bad that “championship gene” dissolves easily in the offseason without enough talent and luck to keep it together.

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It’s unclear how the coaches feel, but Mike Tomlin’s thoughts are easy to predict.

“Obviously, a variety of things create the end result, but it’s a result we’re going to take. We’ll tighten the screws, put a hat on a hat and continue to scoop the proof out of the pudding. We accept every serving we get this season. Sometimes it’s tough to chew, but everyone with a willing, hungry mouth will continue to get his plate filled this season. We have eight games remaining on our schedule and you can guarantee we look forward to completing each and every one of them.”

Speaking of standards being standards, we have a new high and low when it comes to 0-8 teams. The Buccaneers are the best 0-8 team ever while the Jaguars are the least competitive team since the 1970 merger. The Jaguars have trailed thru the end of every game after the 11:34 mark of the second quarter. It wouldn’t shock me if both win this weekend, but as far as 0-8 goes, these teams couldn’t be much different in how they’ve played.

It’s not only the win-less teams standing out for some of the wrong reasons…

  • Are the 2013 Chiefs the worst 9-0 team ever? Well, despite the soft schedule, their scoring margin is +104, which amazingly is one point ahead of my 2008 Titans (+103) comparison.
  • Are the 2013 Seahawks the worst 8-1 team ever? This has not been a dominant team and falling behind 21-0 to Tampa Bay will hopefully be a wake-up call.
  • Are the 2013 Patriots the worst 7-2 team ever? No, thanks to the Pittsburgh defense. With a favorable schedule, don’t count out a No. 1 seed (again) for them.

Oakland will not be the worst 2013 team as I predicted, but Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia sure looked like the team I expected to see often. Thanks for letting Nick Foles devalue the single-game touchdown pass record.

The Colts and Seahawks lead the league with three fourth-quarter comeback wins. Okay, not everything’s changed from last year. We’ll watch Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson battle for the most game-winning drives thru a player’s first two seasons:

GWD1st2

We’ll also watch Peyton Manning try to break the records for passing touchdowns and yards in a season. The schedule will likely be too difficult to set any efficiency records, but the volume could go down. He also has the Broncos on pace for 686 points, which would smash the previous record (589):

MPts

Week 10 Viewing

Here are some mini-previews for what I’ll be focusing on Sunday afternoon.

Bills at Steelers – I can go on a really long rant about this one, but I’ll try to keep it short. This reeks of a game where the Steelers will do well at home against a rookie quarterback, bringing out the “Dick LeBeau is a master of defense!” narrative because he has a great record against rookies since 2004. He didn’t have to play against Ben Roethlisberger (2004). He didn’t face Matt Ryan (2008). He didn’t see Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson last year. When he played Robert Griffin III, the Redskins had damn-near 12 dropped passes in the game. They stopped themselves. I think the Buffalo running game is a major asset in this one, but EJ Manuel will have to play well in his first game back from injury, which I don’t particularly see happening.

Yet why should anything on Sunday erase the 55-point, 610-yard ass-kicking this defense suffered last week? How does he get a pass for this season for that matter? How can he live down TEBOW? That’s the root problem with the Steelers. No team rests on their laurels as much as they do. As deficiencies have crept up, there’s been no solutions from the GM or Tomlin on how to fix them. Apparently they will fix themselves because “we’re the Steelers, we’ve won six Super Bowls and we’re just going to do what we do.”

Well, the NFL is moving on without you, Pittsburgh. Hopefully you’ll soon turn out the lights in the trophy room and read up on how to build a winner in today’s NFL.

Panthers at 49ers – Both teams have a mobile QB drafted in 2011. Both teams have a stingy defense. Both teams have been on an ass-kicking run against ass-sucking competition. Is it as simple as going with the home team, who just so happens to be the more reliable option? I’m not quick to accept teams without a proven track record. This would be Carolina’s biggest win since at least 2009. We know this team is historically awful in close games and has very few quality wins over the years, so this would be a big step forward. The 49ers, we can trust them more due to the talent they have and their results the last two years under Jim Harbaugh, who had a bye week to prepare for this one.

If Carolina wins I can start to admit I was wrong about them, but they have to show it first. A team I was skeptical on years ago was the 2005 Bengals when Carson Palmer broke out and the defense was getting a ton of interceptions. Without a track record I refused to believe they were legit. I even foolishly made a statement that Palmer would never win a playoff game in his career. Well, he hasn’t, and the Bengals still haven’t won one either. However, I cannot take much credit as that torn ACL suffered in the playoff game certainly had an impact on his/their future.

That’s the NFL sometimes. You can make a prediction, be right about it, but if the reason is something you never had in mind, should you really take credit?

So I’m all about seeing what the Panthers do not only in this game, but against the Patriots in Week 11. Please, make me believe this year is different.

Broncos at Chargers – “Can” the Chargers beat the Broncos? The answer’s always yes to the “can” question, but what would be the reasons? One of them will not be “Mike McCoy knows the Denver offense because he used to be their coordinator!” as that’s a sorry excuse you often hear but rarely ever see matter in a game. Not everyone is as foolish as the 2002 Raiders in how they called the game against Jon Gruden.

Besides, it’s not McCoy’s offense, it’s Peyton Manning’s offense, which defenses haven’t really stopped since he was a rookie. However, when Manning plays San Diego, some weird shit tends to happen. Ask Kenton Keith or San Diego punter Mike Scifres. Last year, Eric Decker tripped and fell on what would have been an 85-yard touchdown.  Three plays later Matt Willis ran the wrong route and it cost Denver a pick-six. In the rematch in Denver, Manning had a bubble screen tipped and returned for a touchdown.

If San Diego can put together long drives against a suspect defense (like they did against the Colts), but finish them for touchdowns, while getting some mistakes from the mistake-heavy Broncos, then of course they can win this one. It probably helps that John Fox is out and Jack Del Rio is the interim coach. Though that could actually benefit the Denver offense if Jack Del Riverboat returns and allows Manning to try some fourth-down attempts not done on Fox’s watch. This could be another very interesting shootout or a big Denver comeback.

I’m just happy to finally see a 2013 AFC West game that doesn’t involve Oakland.

2013 Midseason Awards

  • MVP – Peyton Manning (would be first NFL player to win MVP with two different teams)
  • Coach – Andy Reid
  • Offensive – Calvin Johnson
  • Defensive – Richard Sherman (someone notable from a top defense)
  • Comeback – Philip Rivers (for previously being lousy?)
  • OROY – Eddie Lacy
  • DROY – Kiko Alonso

Those picks of Jamaal Charles for MVP are a cute way of trying to be different and get some page hits, but let’s be honest. No way is the MVP a player on a sub-par unit for a team being carried by its defense against one of the easiest schedules since 1989.

There’s plenty of time left for most of these competitions to heat up, though I have to think Andy Reid has the coach award on lockdown, unless he suffers a second-half slide that could make Josh McDaniels blush.

2013 NFL Week 10 Predictions

Well I’m on a TNF losing streak now after Washington faded following a 27-14 lead.

Winners in bold:

  • Bengals at Ravens
  • Bills at Steelers
  • Lions at Bears
  • Raiders at Giants
  • Eagles at Packers
  • Rams at Colts
  • Seahawks at Falcons
  • Jaguars at Titans
  • Panthers at 49ers
  • Texans at Cardinals
  • Broncos at Chargers
  • Cowboys at Saints
  • Dolphins at Buccaneers

Season results:

  • Week 1: 11-5
  • Week 2: 12-4
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 9-6
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 11-4
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-3
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Season: 88-45

I don’t feel confident about picking the Eagles and Bengals, but that’s too many home teams if I didn’t.

I’m not picking the Buccaneers to win because Miami has no leadership and is distracted by douchebaggery, but I just think the two teams are pretty even and Tampa Bay’s been so close to getting a win. It’s time.

Also, the Jaguars are 1-20 in their last 21 games, but the one win was over Tennessee. Mike Munchak’s already lost to an 0-13 team (2011 Colts) in his career. Watch out…

But don’t ever be shocked anymore.

NFL Week 10 Predictions, Midseason Review and Award Predictions

In writing a NFL midseason review, it takes a lot of work to come up with something for all 32 teams. I learned that this week, passing the milestone of having written 200 articles (all but eight of them done since mid-July 2011).

But even after making playoff predictions and second-half predictions for the teams, one thing I did not write anywhere were my picks for the individual awards, so here they are. The picks are based on who I think has deserved it in the first half, and not necessarily who willl win the award at the end of the season.

First-Half Awards

  • MVP: Matt Ryan
  • Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson
  • Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Andrew Luck
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chandler Jones
  • Coach of the Year: Mike Smith
  • Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 9: New York Giants Shell-Shocked by Pittsburgh Steelers – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Pittsburgh came back on the road from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win for the third time in the Ben Roethlisberger era. Andrew Luck led his fourth game-winning drive in just his eighth game. Matt Ryan (27 years, 171 days) became the youngest QB to reach 20 game-winning drives. Also included is a review of how each team’s offense has done in 4QC/GWD opportunities this season. Only Houston and San Francisco has yet to face one.

NFL Midseason Report – NBC Sports

This is one of three articles I did for NBC Sports this week as part of a midseason review special, and this is the central piece that looks at all 32 teams: where they have been this year, and where they are headed.

Five Biggest Surprises of 2012 NFL Season – NBC Sports

Which surprises continue to amaze us halfway through the season? A look at Peyton Manning’s comeback in Denver, Andrew Luck and the Colts’ quick rebuild, the five rookie quarterbacks, the disappointment of the New Orleans Saints, and the recent dominance of Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin.

Are These NFL Teams Pretenders or Contenders? – NBC Sports

Finally, I take a look at some playoff hopefuls and just how legit their chances are, focusing on the remaining schedule and conference playoff races. Teams included: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, San Diego, Miami, NY Giants, Seattle, Minnesota, Detroit, and Tampa Bay. I conclude with a prediction for the 12 playoff seeds when it’s all said and done.

Andrew Luck: Midseason Review for Colts’ Rising Star – Bleacher Report

How good has Andrew Luck been so far? I break down his first eight games by the numbers and find all the records he’s already set or is on pace for. Hint: there are a lot of them.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 9 vs. Miami Dolphins – Colts Authority

My traditional Luck column, breaking down his record-setting performance by Miami where he passed for 433 yards and converted 12 of 17 third-down opportunities.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 10 Predictions – Bleacher Report

You voted for change? Well, not really, but change has come. Not only did I give a marquee preview of Texans/Bears, followed by Colts/Jags, Chargers/Bucs and Falcons/Saints, but I picked every game this week, and will continue to do s.

Predicting the Second Half of a NFL Season Using the First Half – Cold, Hard Football Facts – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Is the second half of the season just a repeat of the first half? Not quite, but we can learn some things from it. Since 2002, 71.3 percent of teams leading their division through eight games go on to win the division. Also some interesting results on the sustainability of offense versus defense, and more playoff predictions.

2012 NFL Week 10 Predictions

Dallas didn’t quite come through last week, marking the first time I picked against Atlanta this season. I am doing it again this week, but promise to only do it one more time at most going forward (regular season at least).

Winners in bold:

  • Raiders at Ravens
  • Broncos at Panthers
  • Giants at Bengals
  • Titans at Dolphins
  • Lions at Vikings
  • Bills at Patriots
  • Falcons at Saints
  • Chargers at Buccaneers
  • Jets at Seahawks
  • Cowboys at Eagles
  • Rams at 49ers
  • Texans at Bears
  • Chiefs at Steelers

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Week 6: 5-9
  • Week 7: 12-1
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Season: 85-47