Hello and welcome the seventh edition of FanNation NFL GameDay. This will be a weekly feature in which LP, Agrippa, a guest, and I, Pitt Panther, answer questions and have discussions about the NFL, and make predictions about the coming week's games.
Unfortunately, Agrippa was unable to participate in GameDay this week.
Our guests this week are:
It's a TDer in a purple suit!
It's a Canuck, eh?
To volunteer to be a guest on GameDay, go here
Question 1: Who is your darkhorse for the MVP?
Redwing: In this year's MVP voting, there are very few, if any, clear-cut leaders, and many are earning MVP discussion, which makes it very difficult to find a darkhorse. One of these NFLers earning serious MVP debate is Matt Ryan. However, I believe that his teammate and fellow Atlanta Falcons newbie, Michael Turner, deserves serious consideration. He's been the catalyst in taking a rushing offense ranked 26th in the league last year to 2nd this year, and one that was 23rd in total offense last year to 5th this year. He's also leading the league in touchdowns, and is second in yards. The resurgent Falcons would not be anywhere near 8-5 if Turner was still a San Diego Charger.
Pitt: My darkhorse candidate for the MVP is Chad Pennington of the Miami Dolphins. While it seems crazy, I think he should definitely be in contention. Last season, the Dolphins finished 15 games out of 1st place in their division. Their quarterbacks in that season combined for a rating of 69.6, while completing 57% of their passes for 12 TD and 16 INT. This season, Pennington has the Dolphins tied for lead atop the AFC East. He has a QB rating of 93.7 while completing 66.4% of his passes for 12 TD and 6 INT. And he's done all this without much help on offense. His leading receivers are Ted Ginn, Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess, and David Martin. Four guys who no football fan could pick out of a line-up. Pennington has taken basically the same team that won 1 game all of last year to 8 wins and a shot at, not just a wild card berth, but a division title. Now that is valuable.
David: Eli Manning- I actually was willing to defend this choice in a tourney TD vs. someone- but they tapped before even trying to dispute my logic.
Eli has steadied the best team in the NFL- made the throws when necessary, and even though he don't have 6,000 yards- he has over 20 TDs and does not throw many bad picks- he's a better Kerry Collins- he does not have the wideouts of his brother, or Kurt or even Cutler.
That being said I love the pick of Matt Ryan- I have watched NFL seriously more than most people on here have been alive- and the QBs that have scared my Panthers soul more than Ryan are a SMALL handful. Ryan made RODDY WHITE a viable threat.
Roberts: My darkhorse candidate for MVP is Thomas Jones of the New York Jets. I know he has pretty good stats, but I don't think he gets the recognition he deserves. The Jets went 4-12 last season; they brought in many new additions and had high expectations. I'd say they've lived up to them. But it isn't because of their QB, Favre, who gets so much acclaim but is a turnover machine; it's mainly because of the outstanding play from Jones. He is 4th in the league in rushing with 1144 yards on only 243 carries for a 4.7 average with 12 touchdowns. His bounce-back from last season has helped New York tremendously, going from a 3.6 average and one touchdown to 4.7 with 12 TDs and counting. I know a lot of credit needs to go to the OL, but they can't win the MVP.
Question 2: Who is your pick for Comeback Player of the Year?
Pitt: My pick for Comeback Player of the Year is Antonio Bryant. Bryant was a phenom in college and is one of only three sophomores ever to win the Biletnikoff award as a sophomore. The others are Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald. He's always been very talented, but his career has been marred by character issues. Bryant did not play a single down in 2007 due to off the field issues. In 2008, he is leading a very good Tampa Bay team in yards from scrimmage and rushing/receiving touchdowns. He is on pace for over 1,100 receiving yards. Bryant is having a great comeback, and he is my pick for Comeback Player of the Year.
Redwing: My comeback player of the year is Jake Delhomme. Last year, his season was disastrously ended after three games when he suffered an elbow injury against Atlanta and needed Tommy John Surgery. This year, though, he is back and is a key reason why Carolina is leading arguably the toughest division in football at 10-3. He may only be 17th in the NFL in terms of passing yards, but stats here only tell a small part of the story. He has provided Carolina with a steady hand at QB that they were lacking last year, and his leadership is essential on a team that is fairly young and was facing a volatile Steve Smith in training camp.
David: Jake is a great choice- but I HATE IT when comeback player goes to someone hurt- It's kinda cheap.
So I'll give mine to another Panther
Peppers- From a VERY Shittty 2007-8 season to what 4 times the sacks this year? Peppers even blocked and extra point in that Bucs CRUSHING - Peppers seems to have shaken off whatever the heck was wrong with him last year and is back to pro bowl form.
I'd like to give Kerry Collins the second nod by the way- and I'm sure he will be the runaway winner.
Roberts: My pick for comeback player of the year is Joey Porter. He had a bad season last year by his standards, with only 5.5 sacks, but he has bounced back in a HUGE way, with 16.5 sacks and counting. He may end up with a career-low total in tackles, but the tackles he gets count big time. He has been a disruptive force for Miami. Miami's defense isn't very good right now; can you imagine how bad it would be without Porter? I could see them being last in pass defense and a lot lower in every other category. He has been an absolute beast, and might be as important to Miami as Pennington.
Question 3: Who is your pick for Coach of the Year?
Pitt: My pick for coach of the year is Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons. He has done a really great job. This was a franchise in disarray after Michael Vick's dogfighting scandal, Bobby Petrino's douchebaggery, and Bill Parcells turning them away for the Miami job. He has taken a team with a rookie QB and a poor defense into playoff contention in a very tough division. In my opinion, no one has done a better coaching job in 2008 than he has.
Redwing: When somebody takes a team with a very questionable offense, an unproven defense, and a ridiculously hard division to a 12-1 record (so far), they deserve to be honored with the Coach of the Year Award. In case you haven't noticed, that man is Jeff Fisher. He's led a team that still does not have a consistent passing game, still has no experience at RB, and still has wide receivers more erratic than a teenage driver to very likely homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Not to mention that the formerly unheralded Titans have the best record in the NFL. That is what I call a job very well done.
David: Love what Mike Smith has done- but let-s not forget that he took over a team that needed LEADERSHIP and got it in spades- was given a GREAT back that is going to the Pro-Bowl- a Once in a generation QB in Matt Ryan (If he does not improve at ALL over his career- he-s going to be a Multi-Pro bowler) and didn't have too bad an O-Line. Plus a few guys on D that aren't too bad as well
But my award has GOT to go to Jeff Fisher- to pull the plug on Vince, and to have that be a NON story after week 1, and just do what the Titans did is UNREAL- they have almost DOUBLED the wins I personally thought they would have and still have at least 2 wins to go.
Roberts: I know he's already been picked twice, but how do you not pick Fisher here? Coming into the season he had VY at QB. That alone is scary enough, but his backup was Kerry Collins. That's shityerpants scary. People were picking Tennessee to miss the playoffs. But now his team is now 12-1 and cruising towards a bye and home-field throughout the playoffs. He's gotten success out of Kerry freakin' Collins and has made Chris Johnson a star. Coming into this season, I may have considered saying that the Titans have the worst offense in the NFL, and even now I still don't think it's anything special, but Fisher and the defense have pulled a rabbit out of a hat. It would be a travesty if he didn't win.
Pitt: 66-23, 74.2%
Agrippa: 64-25, 71.9%
LP: 53-36, 59.6%
Guests: 49-26, 65.3%
Question 4: New Orleans at Chicago. Who wins?
Pitt: I think the Saints are able to outscore the Bears in a close shootout. Drew Brees should have a big day against the Bears' weak pass defense.
LP: This is a game between 2 pretty evenly matched teams... but the Saints are coming off a big win against the Falcons. I'm taking the Saints over the Bears.
David: I'm going to go New Orleans- Upset pick but the Saints have a Lot of Pride and Reggie Bush might find Kim's personality in the dark recesses of the Starship.
Roberts: I have New Orleans here. I know that it's in Chicago, but the Bears have played a weak division so far this year and they can't defend the pass. Even in the cold conditions, I expect Drew Brees to have a good day. Pierre Thomas is also emerging as a threat in the running game. I just don't see Chicago winning this one.
Redwing: We've all heard about New Orleans' struggles in the cold weather. However, I'm still going to give them the win here. I was really impressed with their win over shockingly great Atlanta last week, especially with what I saw from Pierre Thomas. They just seem to be more motivated.
Question 5: Tampa Bay at Atlanta. Who wins?
Pitt: I'm taking the Falcons at home in a close game. The Bucs have struggled on the road and gave up a lot of yards on the ground to the Panthers. I think Michael Turner leads Atlanta to victory.
LP: This should be another good battle inside the NFC South. I'm taking the Bucs to win this one and keep pace with the Panthers in the division.
David: PLEASE Atlanta- Run turner 50 times this game you can do it! Wear that Tampa 2 out! Ryan make Flacco the Todd Blackenridge of the Draft class!! Oh this counts?
Nuts- pick of the Bucs.
Roberts: This will be a great game and I'm picking Atlanta. Tampa just came off of a game where they allowed 300 rushing yards and are now facing the second best running team coming off a short week and they're on the road. It's up to Atlanta to exploit that run D, and if they do, which they likely will, they will win.
Redwing: This will come down to who wants it more. I like Atlanta, who is currently out of playoff position and wants to be in it, to shut down the Bucs' offense and take the W at home.
Question 6: Washington at Cincinnati. Who wins?
Pitt: The Redskins get back on track by beating a terrible Cincinnati team.
LP: With the struggle of the Bengals this year, they have only scored 3 points in each of their last 2 games. I'm taking the Redskins.
David: Even in Portis plays for the BENGALS- the Redskins still win this game- I don't see anyway the Bengals stay close here- they have given up this season- and I have to think they are going to blow this team up- Personally I'd give Bill Cowher 15% of the team and total control- and I would announce that on the FRONT PAGE of the paper.
Redwing: I'd take just about any team in the NFL at home over struggling Washington right now, except Cincinnati. Expect the Skins to do just enough to win this one.
Question 7: Seattle at St. Louis. Who wins?
Pitt: I'll take the home team (Seahawks) in this crapfest.
LP: 2 struggling NFC West teams battle it out... but the Rams will take it. St. Louis will find its offense this week, and they will throw up 25+ points.
David: These two teams should be one team looking for homefield and the other trying to catch a wildcard- instead we get two teams looking at the draft and wondering if their QBs are worth a paycheck next year - Long is about the only player here I care about- I have yet to see him play. I'll take the Seahawks; they may actually care about their coach.
Roberts: Can Seattle and St. Louis even be considered as football? I'll pick Seattle here, same record, but a better team. The Rams have the 31st ranked scoring offenses and defenses. Frick. Snoozefest.
Redwing: I really liked what I saw out of Seattle last week against New England. This team is just refusing to go down without a fight. St. Louis, meanwhile, has gone down without a whimper for the past six weeks. I also really like Seneca Wallace's ability to perform well in this one. I think Seattle will dominate the Rams.
Question 8: San Francisco at Miami. Who wins?
Pitt: I think the 49ers upset the Miami Dolphins. Shaun Hill looks like he may be a legitimately great QB. I think he takes advantage of a relatively weak Dolphins pass defense and leads San Fran to victory.
LP: Another struggling NFC West team goes up against a surprising team. The Dolphins have surprised everyone with their 8-5 record, and they will improve on that this week. I've got the Fins.
David: I am STUNNED at what Tony Soprano has done in Miami, even the Falcons don't shock me as much- and he has not had to have Ricky Williams capped yet.
Can we get Fat Tony and Mike to arm wrestle instead of flip a coin to get possession?
Roberts: Miami. Shaun Hill is playing well (I knew he had it in him!), but Miami will be able to get a good pass rush on him and San Fran's defense is horrible. Add in Frank Gore being injured, you've got a Miami win.
Redwing: Don't pay too much attention to the 49ers' big win over the Jets last week. They were at home, and the Jets were traveling across the country. This time, it's the Niners' turn to make the trek, to face a resurgent Dolphins team, with a dynamic offense to carve up their weary and mediocre defense. Gulp. Take the Fins.
Question 9: Buffalo at New York Jets. Who wins?
Pitt: I'm taking the Jets. I don't think the Bills will be able to take advantage of the New York's terrible pass defense.
LP: The New York Jets are in a 3-way tie for 1st place in the AFC East, and they need this game to stay at the top. I'm taking the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS... NOT FAVRE. I'm taking the Jets.
David: Now that Buffalo p**ed away home field vs. the ONE team that suffers the most for it last week, I refuse to pick them here. Plus the Man that walks between the cheese (tm) is going to be looking to get back into form.
Roberts: New York. Buffalo can't get anything going right now. (Where did all of the Bills homers go?) The Bills have a bad offense and a decent defense. The Jets will overpower them.
Redwing: Did I mention that the Jets are also making a cross-country trip? This does not bode well for a team that has struggled since their dynamite win over Tennessee. Buffalo may have looked anemic in weeks past, but they still have the tools for success, especially in Marshawn Lynch and their stout defense. I just don't trust the Jets enough right now. Take the Bills here.
Question 10: Detroit at Indianapolis. Who wins?
Pitt: Indianapolis. The end.
LP: The Colts shot out of a cannon in Week 9, and they are still flying. They haven't lost since that week, and that won't change this week against the Lions.
David: Pop Quiz: What is higher margin of victory?
Colts vs. Lions (x2) or Florida vs. OU
I got Florida- but it's gonna be close, and I don't mean the Lions.
Roberts: Indianapolis. But it will likely be too close for comfort.
Redwing: 0-16, here we come! Indy in a laugher.
Question 11: San Diego at Kansas City. Who wins?
Pitt: I'm taking the Chargers. It'll be a close, high scoring game, but San Diego will pull it out.
LP: San Diego beat Kansas City in Week 10, and they will do it again. Even though the Chargers have disappointed, they will still inch closer to a .500 record.
David: In the Battle for Fired Coaches who should have never got the job they have- and for some reason Marty Shot-in-the-himmer is unemployed? I'll take San Diego, only because Norv has assistants that will have a job next year with other teams.
Roberts: San Diego. This is a tough pick for me to make because San Diego is so unpredictable, but they are just flat out better than the Chiefs.
Redwing: Last time they played, the Chiefs were a conversion away from victory over the Chargers. This time, the Arrowhead crowd and, more importantly, a much-improved Tyler Thigpen will lead the Chiefs to victory. The only sad thing is that I can't call this an upset.
Question 12: Green Bay at Jacksonville. Who wins?
Pitt: Neither team is very good, but I think Green Bay takes it.
LP: Both Green Bay and Jacksonville have disappointed this year, but the Jaguars have been worse. They haven't won since Week 10 against the Lions. The Pack really need this win to build up morale. I've got the Packers.
David: Gimme the Bay, I still don't trust the Jags.
Roberts: Jacksonville. Green Bay can't stop the run and that's all the Jags can do, even with their crappy OL, MJD and Fred Taylor are always threats. It's in Jacksonville and I just have a gut feeling about this one.
Redwing: I like the Jaguars in this one, to end their streak of two consecutive losses to NFC North squads. The Packers have been very quickly slipping into awfulness, and don't underestimate the loss of their best offensive lineman, Mark Tauscher. MJD should be able to run all day on the Pack's decimated run defense.
Question 13: Tennessee at Houston. Who wins?
Pitt: I think the Titans will win. They will run the ball effectively and keep Houston's offense in check.
LP: This may be a mistake... but I'm taking the Texans on the upset over the Titans. Houston had an impressive show by the offense last week, and they are on a 3-game winning streak. Tennessee better be on the watch...
David: Tennessee, next question.
Roberts: Tennessee won't take their foot off of the gas pedal until the conference is theirs. They win.
Redwing: I would SO love to pick the upset here. However, Houston's bread and butter on offense is Steve Slaton. He should have gigantic problems running into Albert Haynesworth. Plus, the Titans are the superior team in every facet. Screw the home field, take Tennessee.
Question 14: Minnesota at Arizona. Who wins?
Pitt: I'm taking the Vikings. Kurt Warner has a tendency to turn the ball over against teams that get a lot of pressure. The Vikings will pressure Warner into mistakes and AD will do the rest.
LP: Arizona is coming off a much-needed win last week, and they will end Minnesota's winning streak. I'm taking the Cardinals in this one.
David: I'll take Minny- simply because I think the Cards might be reading their own press, and Warner might miss his geritol.
Roberts: Minnesota. Arizona has nothing to play for anymore, they've already won their division and they won't be getting one of the top 2 seeds in the conference. Minnesota is hot right now and Adrian Peterson should be able to run.
Redwing: Time for me to put on my homer hat. I seriously think the Vikings will win this one. Arizona is looking less and less impressive each day, and I think that Jared Allen will disrupt their vital passing game to the tune of two sacks and many more hurries. I also think the Cardinals will be relaxed after clinching the division, and the more desperate Vikes will take advantage.
Question 15: Denver at Carolina. Who wins?
Pitt: I think the Panthers take care of business and use their great rushing attack to beat the Broncos.
LP: Carolina had a nice win against the Bucs last week on Monday Night. The Panthers have thrown up a combined 73 total points in their last 2 games, and they will put up 30+ again this week. I've got the Panthers.
David: Carolina via Murder Death Kill- to COMPLETE an 8-0 Home record. I think Ken Lucas rebounds from a HORRID game vs. the Bucs to get a Pick vs. Cutler.
Roberts: Carolina. They need to keep winning to win their division and Denver sucks and can't stop the run. But then again, their D can't really stop anything.
Redwing: Carolina's incredible running game has a beautiful match-up against Denver's putrid rushing defense. This is a blowout waiting to happen. Take the Panthers.
Question 16: Pittsburgh at Baltimore. Who wins?
Pitt: I think the Steelers pull out a very close win. They can slow down their rushing attack and Flacco won't be able to beat them.
LP: Both the Steelers and Ravens are on long winning streaks, and one of them has to end this week. Pittsburgh better be on the upset watch... because I'm taking the Ravens.
David: I'm taking Pitt- they want that Bye Week and the harder they work on this game- the more chance they have for that week off.
Roberts: Baltimore. They are at home and have the division title in their grasp. They will tie the Steelers for the lead. It will be a contest of stingy defense; don't be surprised to see some defensive touchdowns. Pittsburgh however can't do anything on offense, while Baltimore can run. If Baltimore can get any kind of running game going they will win.
Redwing: This is going to be one of those rough and tough, old-time special, football games. I can see this game coming down to a play or two to win it at the end, and I trust Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh D to make it a lot more than I do Joe Flacco and the Ravens' D. Steelers win.
Question 17: New England at Oakland. Who wins?
Pitt: I'm taking the Pats. I think Sammy Morris has a big day and the Pats win with relative ease.
LP: New England is tied for 1st place in their division, so they really need this win. Going up against the Raiders, they will most likely get that win.
David: Matt Cassel wins this one for Dad- and the Brett comments over under is set at 55.
Roberts: New England.
Redwing: Don't be fooled by New England's lackadaisical performance against Seattle last week. They will be out and ready to fire. I'm a little worried about Matt Cassel's performance with the death of his father this week, but I'm not at all worried about New England's ability to win this one. Take the Pats.
Question 18: New York Giants at Dallas. Who wins?
Pitt: I think the Giants rebound and win a tough game in Dallas. I think the Giants are able to have success on the ground, control the clock, and, in the end, win the game.
LP: Sunday Night... Giants vs. Cowboys... you think it will be a good game, right? Think again. The Giants beat the Cowboys 35-14 in Week 9, and they will put up 30+ against them again this week. I've got the Giants.
David: Giants- I think they make TO go through a metal detector at valley ranch.
Roberts: New York. They are coming off of a loss and the last time they lost they went on a big win streak after. Dallas will have trouble handling the Giants run game and Dallas is an inconsistent team. New York will persevere in this one.
Redwing: Dallas has never been a great December team. Brandon Jacobs being banged-up may give some pause, but the Giants still have Wind and Fire at full strength. They also have a more than solid defense to shut down a hobbled Dallas offence. Giants will win this one.
Question 19: Cleveland at Philadelphia. Who wins?
Pitt: The Eagles are just the flat out better team. I say they continue their hot streak with a win over the Browns.
LP: Cleveland is just another horrendous Ohio team that desperately needs a win. But they have the Eagles on MNF, and I don't think they will get it. I'm taking the Eagles.
David: Oh you are serious? Philly- Romeo can't even order is pizza delivered- they don't know if he will be in Cleveland in 30 minutes.
Roberts: Philadelphia. They are coming off of an important win against New York and have an opportunity to grab second place in the division if Dallas loses, which I think they will. Cleveland is pathetic and Philly is fighting for a playoff berth.
Redwing: The Eagles have rediscovered their mojo. All of a sudden, Donovan McNabb seems to be off the proverbial death row and back in position to lead Philly to the playoffs. Cleveland's offense will be brutal with Ken Dorsey calling the shots. This may be a huge day for the Philadelphia D. Take Philly.
Last week's upset alerts:
Pitt: Oakland over San Diego; San Diego won
Agrippa: Buffalo over Miami; Miami won
NCshvDavid: Detroit over Minnesota; Minnesota won
Question 20: What team should be on upset alert?
Pitt: Miami. San Francisco has been playing well under Mike Singeltary and Shaun Hill looks he could be great.
LP: The 12-1 Tennessee Titans better be on the upset alert. They are traveling to Houston to face the Texans, who are on a 3-game winning streak.
David: Saints? Minny? How's that?
Roberts: Green Bay. They play against the Jags on the road and neither team has been good recently. I just get the feeling that Jax wins this.
Redwing: I think the New York Jets should be on upset alert. Yes, they may be at home with a great opportunity to reclaim what has been missing for the past week, but Buffalo is still a very dangerous team.
Last week's players to watch:
Pitt: Peyton Hillis: 8 rushes, 58 yards, 1 TD, 1 reception, 11 yards
Agrippa: Adrian Peterson: 23 rushes, 102 yards, 1 reception, 15 yards, 3 fumbles
LP: Kurt Warner: 24/33, 279 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 95.4 rating
NCshvDavid: Eli Manning: 13/27, 123 yards, 1 TD, 73.5 rating
Question 21: Who is your under the radar player to watch?
Pitt: Shaun Hill, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He's been great as a starter and I think that continues against the Dolphins.
LP: My player to watch this week is Shaun Hill... yes, the QB for the 49ers... that Shaun Hill. He went 28 for 39, and threw for 285 yards and 2 TDs. He is going up against the Dolphins defense this week.
David: I'll go with Coles in New Jersey.
Roberts: Not sure if he's considered "under the radar" because he's well-known, but he deserves to be. My pick is Joseph Addai (If he's playing, if not, then Dominic Rhodes). The Colts are cruising towards the playoffs and are facing off against the worst run defense in the NFL. The Colts will run the ball early and often and Addai is just too good of a player to be so bad.
Redwing: My under the radar player to watch is Seneca Wallace. He's got a great match-up against the sieve called the St. Louis Rams defense, but more important is the fact that his weapons are finally ready to help him. I could see 300+ yards passing and 3 touchdowns from him, not to mention some rushing yards.
Last week's players to disappoint:
Pitt: Donovan McNabb: 19/30, 191 yards, 1 TD, 5 rushes, 20 yards
Agrippa: Tony Romo: 19/36, 210 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT, 1 fumble
LP: Marion Barber: did not play
NCshvDavid: Terrell Owens: 3 receptions, 32 yards, 1 TD
Question 22: Who is your player to disappoint?
Pitt: Kurt Warner, quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals. While Minnesota doesn't have a great pass defense, they get a lot of pressure on the QB and I think they force him into at least 2 turnovers.
LP: My player to disappoint this week is one of the Cowboys' RBs. Rookie RB Tashard Choice had a good game last week, but he will face the 5th ranked Giants run defense this week. As for Marion Barber, he didn't even play last week.
David: Cutler; Denver's Line is going to be in trouble this week.
Roberts: Eli Manning. I'm picking the Giants to win, but he doesn't have Plax and he goes up against a pretty good pass defense and an excellent pass rushing team. He had a bad game last week and I can't see him bouncing back. He had 3 TDs against Dallas last time, but only 147 yards. He was also sacked for a total loss of 28 yards and fumbled twice as well as throwing an INT.
Redwing: I think Steve Slaton will disappoint this week. He's going to have a lot of trouble finding holes against a stout and skilled Titans D, and he won't have much of an impact in the passing game either thanks to Matt Schaub's shrinking pocket. I wouldn't be shocked at all if he ended up at only 2 yards per carry on the game.