Games of the week: week 9

The last time I tried to crow about how I felt good about my picks, I went 1-4. Therefore, I’m going straight to my picks.

Tampa Bay (5-2, 3-0 road) @ Atlanta (5-2, 3-0 home)

Mike’s pick: Atlanta

  • Two divisional teams with identical records meet this Sunday in the for the first time in 2010. Atlanta is coming off of a bye week, and Tampa Bay is coming off of a cross-country shoot-out win over the Arizona Cardinals.
  • Atlanta is my pick because they are rested and they have better players. The culture of football (my new favorite phrase) in Atlanta is one that tell you they know this isn’t just another game. Atlanta is ready for a playoff push, and getting a head-to-head win vs. Tampa Bay is the next step towards that goal.

Miami (4-3, 4-0 road) @ Baltimore (5-2, 3-0 home)

Mike’s pick: Baltimore

  • Like Tampa Bay, Miami will be going on the road for a second straight week to face a team coming off a bye with an undefeated road record at stake.
  • Baltimore knows the Buffalo game shouldn’t have been as close as it was. Look for this game to be low-scoring, at least for Miami. Baltimore should continue to utilize their array of imposing receivers, while sealing the victory by running often in the 4th quarter.
  • As for Brandon Marshall, he’s a great talent, but he and QB Chad Henne aren’t on the same page. Marshall has 47 receptions this season–and one touchdown.

Indianapolis (5-2, 2-2 road) @ Philadelphia (4-3, 1-2 home)

Mike’s pick: Indianapolis

  • This game should be within a field goal, either way. The last time Indy went on the road to face an NFC East team, they won, but only by a field goal. Then (at Washington), they had Dallas Clark in their line-up. Now (at Philadelphia), Clark is on IR.
  • One huge advantage the Colts have that the Eagles could neutralize is the pass rush of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. With Michael Vick coming off a bye week and presumably healthy, he may be able to escape the Colts’ daunting pass rush (at least long enough for him to find an open receiver).
  • Still, I’m picking Indy because of Philly’s struggles with passing teams. The Eagles have lost to the Packers and the Redskins (both games at home, vs. teams that struggle to run well consistently), and only won by three points at Detroit (mostly a passing team).
  • Finally, how can you pick against Peyton Manning right now? He’s the best player in football (for the record, I’d put Haloti Ngata at #2…but who’s counting?).

Pittsburgh (5-2, 3-1 road) @ Cincinnati (2-5, 1-2 road)

Mike’s pick: Cincinnati

  • I would usually pick the Steelers in this situation, but I have a feeling about the Bengals this week. Cincinnati got embarrassed at home last week, losing to Miami, 22-14.
  • This is a divisional road game for the Steelers, the first such game Ben Roethlisberger will be playing in this season. Although he’s been in and performed well in big spots before, this is still going to be challenging.
  • Monday night football + Chad Ochocinco +Terrell Owens + a bad Pittsburgh secondary=a Bengals victory. Seriously though…no matter what you think about those two receivers, you know they get up for the big games. And with the Bengals’ record at 2-5, this is probably the biggest game they have left.

Upset of the week: Arizona (3-4, 1-3 road) @ Minnesota (2-5, 2-1 home)

Mike’s pick: Arizona (+8)

  • Arizona almost pulled out the upset last week vs. Tampa Bay. This week, they go on the road to face the struggling Minnesota Vikings.
  • The Cardinals have virtually no distractions (even their QB situation seems to be straightened out), while the Vikings have defined distractions in 2010.
  • The Vikings lost Randy Moss, Percy Harvin is hurt, which leaves them with Adrian Peterson. Who is the best defender on the Cardinals? DT Darnell Dockett. He probably won’t stop Peterson, but he figures to slow him down.
  • Minnesota is also the home of Larry Fitzgerald. While that probably doesn’t mean much, it should give him some extra motivation. A motivated Larry Fitzgerald is not something the Vikings want to see.

Rob’s picks

TB @ ATL

Pick: Tampa Bay

  • A battle for first place of the NFC South…I love it. Both teams sit at 5-2 and are looking for a win at a crucial point in the season. Even though Atlanta is coming off their bye week, I’ve got to go with Raheem Morris and the “We’re the best team in the NFC” Tampa Bay Bucs.
  • The Bucs are rolling right now and are coming into this game on a two-game win streak. QB Josh Freeman is playing consistently well, while a few young receivers are stepping up to help him out.
  • I say the bye week slows Atlanta down and they are facing a short week with another game on Thursday night vs. the Ravens.

MIA @ BAL

Pick: Baltimore

  • I CAN’T WAIT for my boys to get back to football this Sunday, coming off their bye week. Sure, they looked sluggish against the Bills and they did lose in overtime to the Patriots, but I feel like they’re coming back. Ed Reed looked phenomenal in his return and Donte’ Stallworth is no longer injured.
  • Look for the Ravens to get back to their running game with Ray Rice and Willis Mcgahee, which will open the pass game up. It will be a battle as the “Road Warrior” Dolphins are 4-0 on the road this year, but my boys will pull out the “W”. What’s on the menu for Sunday? FISH!

IND @ PHI

Pick: Indianapolis

  • First off, I have and always will be a Mike Vick fan and he makes his return this week after a nasty chest/rib injury. Also making his return is WR Desean Jackson (concussion). What a tough game for those players to return in, as they face the Colts (5-2, #1 in the AFC South).
  • Peyton Manning is getting it done with 3rd and 4th string guys…he’s that good. This game will be a battle, but I think Freeney and Mathis will keep Vick in check and disrupt the Eagles offense all day. Colts walk away from this one at 6-2.

PIT @ CIN

Pick: Pittsburgh

  • Here we go with a nice AFC North fist fight. Pittsburgh will be heading into this game with vengeance after losing to the Saints on national television on MNF. Cincinnati does have a good defense, but their defensive line must get pressure on and sack “Big” Ben Roethlisberger. If not, he’s going to do what he does best: making something out of nothing.
  • As for the Bengals’ offense aka “the  TO/Ochocinco experiment”, so far this year has resulted in TO getting more catches, more yards and more touchdowns. How does Chad feel about that? Who cares!
  • I dislike both of these teams, but Pittsburgh will come away with the win on the road.

Upset Pick of the Week: NYJ (-4) @ DET

Pick: Detroit (+4)

  • The Detroit Lions are finally making that turn to becoming a force to be reckoned with. A few close losses are all behind them now and they are coming off a big win at home over Washington.
  • The New York Jets are the most over rated team in the NFL. Sure they have some studs, but they don’t have what the Lions have and that is heart. The Lions have been fighting all year, fighting for each other, playing as a unit. Sanchez is a bum and the Jets offense suffers because of it.
  • Also, the Lions defensive line is playing better than ever and the Jets’ offensive line has been spotty this year.
  • Dear Sanchez, I hope you like it down here. Sincerely, THE GROUND. The Lions will kick the Jets right on out of the Motor City with a big ol’ “L”.

Have a great weekend.

To recap, Rob and I both agree that the Ravens and the Colts will win on Sunday. Rob thinks the Buccaneers and Steelers will get inter-divisional road wins, while I think the Falcons and the Bengals will prevail.

We’ll see what’s what on Tuesday morning.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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