It's 888 Miles to Chicago...
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Another week, another romp through the NFL making predictions along the way.  Come on in, pull up a bar stool, and settle in for a nice rambling look at this coming week in the NFL.  Don't like what you've read?  Don't agree with the picks?  Don't worry, the saying "getting there is half the fun" truly applies to this blog.

Due to factors outside of my control (family visiting, my wife being born in October) I was unable to get to my regular “Hey, what a crazy weekend” post.  For those that regularly look forward to my posts and find the true meaning of life in them…yes, all 5 of you…I apologize for cheating you out of a nice read on the crapper…or where ever you might read it.

To make up for the laziness of this week…let me first do a quick week 5 in review…

Stanford – USC – WOW….seems like every week another huge upset in the NCAA…they speak of parity in the NFL, but don’t look now, looks like there is parity in College as well.

Dartmouth – Yale – As part of my weekend, I attended this game to watch my cousin play DE for Dartmouth.  The mighty Bulldogs of Yale stream-rolled them, but there was a silver lining…got to hear my cousin’s name over the PA, and it’s a blast to watch a Division IAA game.  Stadium is smaller, you’re closer to the field, which means you can see and hear more of the game.  It’s awesome to be able to hear defenders yell out “Draw!!” or “Screen!!”  If you have a decent 1AA program near you, get out to a game, support college athletics, and see a different game…trust me, if you’re a fan of football, it’s worth it.

Chargers Norv’s boys finally came to play.  This was the team everyone was expecting to see at the start of the season…now it will be interesting to see if this gets them rolling, or if it was a 1 game blip against a limping Denver team.

Baseball Playoffs – Could these be more boring and anti-climatic right now?  Fantastic finish to the regular season…and then 3 sweeps, and an almost sweep. Blah.  Here’s hoping the LCS are more exciting.

Bears – Packers – That’s the Bears team that I remember…creating turnovers, taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes…this was a watchable game.  Although, if Tillman doesn’t create those 2 fumbles…it’s a blowout.  And 300+ yards allowed in the first half?  Not to mention Benson averaging 2.4 yards a carry?  Still a long way to go, but there is a pulse again, and sticking it to the Pack is always a good thing.

Cowboys – Bills – Did anyone else get a Bears at Arizona feeling from this game?  The Boys didn’t so much win this game, as the Bills just gave it up.  Why in god’s name did they throw that ball when they were deep in Dallas territory…the one that got picked off?  Run the ball, kick the FG, the game is iced.  And why did they not cover the sidelines on the last pass to setup the FG?  They were covering the middle of the field…why?  The Boys had 1 play…pass to the sidelines…why was the coverage bunched in the middle of the field?  Ah, that’s right…Jauron.  Sorry.  But Bills fans…the core is there, once you have a new head coach, this team will be going places.

Trents – Dan and I debated which Trent would have the better weekend…the criteria we put forth was QB rating…but Trent Green didn’t make it out of the first half…so he gets an incomplete grade.  And Trent Edwards was looking solid until he throws the pick at the end of the game…gotta say, this was a draw.  No one played well.

Turnovers – They are the great equalizer.  The Bills almost pull off the upset, and the Bears steal one from the Pack all on the strength of winning the Turnover battle.  It’s a huge stat, and teams that are good at taking the ball away, and holding onto it are always high in the standings.

That was the quick, quick version…let’s move onto the picks….

Minnesota at Chicago

The door to the bar swings open, you make your way through the crowded room towards the bar.  You holler at the bartender above the loud roar of voices and the irritatingly loud “Mambo No. 5”…the bartender nods, and starts work on your favorite drink.  Your eyes roam the bar…at the end of the bar you spot a girl giving you the once over…nothing all that exciting to report, she’s not a future playboy centerfold, and seems rather shy and introverted…your eyes continue on…

Its 3 hours later…you’ve been shot down by every girl you’ve talked to…the bartender is hard at work making the 10th version of your favorite drink…you scan the bar as you wait…and suddenly, you see the most gorgeous creature checking you out.  As you grab the drink from the bartender, and hurriedly leave a tip, you wander over to the goddess, and start feeding her every line you can think of…of course you’re stumbling over your words…spilling on yourself…and managing to insult her friends…but despite all that, you’re able to seal the deal.

The next morning you wake up to find yourself lying next to introverted girl you passed over on first glance…

Yep, that about sums up the Bears win over the Pack.  The Bears weren’t on top of their game…but the Pack wanted to give them the win so badly that they turned the ball over 5 times and committed a ton of crucial penalties.  Not a great win, but hey, we’ll take it.

If you’re scanning the bar looking for a uglier offense than the Bears…look no further than the Minnesota Vikings!  Yes they have a talented rookie…but outside of that they have no QB, no talent at WR, and that talented rookie (by far their only playmaker on offense) spends a large part of the game on the sidelines because he’s having problems with his pass blocking….just sad.

The Vikings roll into Chicago hoping to sneak away with a win…and while it’s a bit too close for comfort, the Bears get the win the way they always do…defense, special teams and turnovers.  For another week, Lovie can relax and think happy thoughts…and pretend that Rex Grossman is the name of a nice young boy that used to live down the street from his mom.

Miami at Cleveland

All this talk about 3 undefeated teams, and whether anyone will go undefeated this year…and yet, we also have 3 winless teams.  Why aren’t we debating whether one of these teams will ever see the win column?  Miami, St. Louis, and New Orleans…not a win among them…which one cracks first?

The question begs to be asked…is it easier to go undefeated, or winless?  Assuming you have the talent in place to do either (superior for the undefeated run, substandard for the winless)…going winless seems to be the harder thing to do.  The reason being that EVERY team and every player wants to win.  Losing is against the competitive nature of all players, and so even when the walls are crashing down around a poor team, the players are still playing to win, cause it’s the only way they know how to play.  It also follows that if a team is struggling that much, they would be playing a lot of young or inexperienced players…players that are getting their first or only shot to make it…and those type of players will leave it all on the field.

A second thought…what if in the season we get an undefeated team, the Dolphins go winless?  Wouldn’t there be some weird cosmic forces at play if that happened?  Would the ’72 Dolphins hunt down Cam Cameron and bludgeon him with their champagne bottles?  Not expecting this to happen, just wondering out loud if it could….

A scrappy Cleveland team keeps Miami out of the win column again.  The Browns seem to be a team that finds ways to win and stay in games…while the Phins seem to be good at finding ways to lose games…not a good matchup.

St. Louis at Baltimore

Everyone said picking the Rams over the Cards last week was crazy…and yes, my pick was wrong…but the Rams almost pulled it off.  Bulger sitting down was actually a good thing for this team…no, Gus Ferrotte is not a better QB…but he’s healthy.  Bulger had been playing with cracked ribs…one of those super painful injuries that hurt more than they should.  Ribs and Backs are 2 places where minor injuries are amplified due to location.  Marc, get healthy, and then come on back…Gus will keep things warm for you.

The Ravens stole one from the Niners…but it was ugly.  Luckily for the Ravens, the Niners have NO passing offense, so they were able to clamp down on Frank Gore, and call it a day.  Bulger isn’t in, but this team can still sling the ball…so the Ravens better be careful or they might be sweating this one.

Baltimore will need more than 9 points to win this one…but thanks to the Rams horrid D, they’ll be able to score enough.  The D looks ragged, but the Ravens eek out a home win over the hapless Rams.  Lots of Rams fans can be seen saying “Remember the greatest show on turf?  Those were the days…man, I wish Mike Martz was still the coach…why did we want him fired?”

Washington at Green Bay

Four things we learned about the Packers this passed weekend:

  1. They can run when the Defense expects pass.
  2. The CAN’T run when the Defense expects run.
  3. Brett Favre, no matter what Madden says, is human.
  4. Madden covering a Packers game is still the most irritating thing in sports broadcasting.

Wait, hold that…second most irritating to “Any game with Tony Kornhiser in the booth”.

The Packers won’t lose 2 in a row at home…but they can’t take this game lightly.  The Pack pull out a game against the Skins on a heroic Favre drive.  But be weary Packers fans, this Skins team has a solid Defense, and just enough on offense to give Green Bay fits…don’t overlook this game.

Cincinnati at Kansas City

Things I missed this passed weekend:

  1. Playing NCAA football during commercials on Sunday (With family here, and the Baseball playoffs I had a different type of commercial filler)
  2. My Daughter as my football watching companion (she had plenty of other things to keep her busy with all the family around)
  3. Chad Johnson starting for my Fantasy team.

This weekend, my wife will be out with friends for most of Sunday, so it will just be the Little one and me hunkering down for football.  That means 1 and 2 are taken care of.  And with Chad Johnson facing the Chiefs…well, all is right with the world again.

The Bengals win a…get this…high scoring game against the Chiefs.  Start all your Bengals this week…as well as all your Chiefs…this could get ugly.

Philadelphia at NY Jets

Back in college (you can feel the strange analogy coming, can’t you?) I worked with this guy named Landon.  Good guy, great sense of humor really smart…just a lot of fun to talk to and hangout with at work.  As the Super Bowl approached, my roommates and I decided to hold a big Super Bowl party…the invite was extended to lots of people we hadn’t had over before, including Landon.

It was the year of the Broncos-Falcons Super Bowl…one of those, “This is the matchup we get” kind of games.  There’s a nice crowd gathered watching the game, and consuming the large amounts of beer and food we had…if I remember correctly, it was tacos…when all of a sudden Landon barges in holding a bottle of Southern Comfort…that is half empty.  The events of the night went like this…

Every 5 minutes, you’d hear a “Go Broncos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” from Landon, regardless of who had the ball, if the game was even on, or if he was in the can.

At one point he said, to no one in particular “Count to 10 and while I chug this bottle of SoCo!”  Not really sure what the goal was there, since he was chugging without anyone counting.

He fell on our coffee table, breaking it, and spilling everything all over the room…luckily it was after the game was over…but still, cleaning up a spill like that when you’re drunk as well…not fun.

Finally, he insisted that we play “Big Balls” by ACDC…even though we didn’t have the album…and then produced a MP3 player (they had just come on the market) and insist we play it off that…which of course our stereo wasn’t equipped for.  He decided that he would just listen to it, and sing it for us…always a great choice.

The next day at work, he was normal, funny, and easy to talk to, Landon…the Mr. Hyde routine the night before completely forgotten.  And this would be the norm…wondering which Landon would show up…

Which Eagles team shows up this week?  The sober one that beat the Eagles?  Or the Southern Comfort-Chugging one that lost to the Giants?  And talk about eerie…in the last 3 weeks, the Eagles have only played in the Meadowlands.  Giants…bye…Jets…just whacky how that works.

The Eagles show up a little drunk, and the Jets steal one at home.  Although, if Mangenuis keeps having Pennington throw short outs, then all bets are off…he doesn’t have any zip on those passes, and they are some of the most dangerous passes to throw when that’s the case.

Houston at Jacksonville

If Andre Johnson plays, then Houston has a shot in this game.

But he won’t, to the detriment of both the Texans and my fantasy team.

Jaguars beat a Johnson-less Texans squad.  Matt Schuab is seen trying the Mr. Miyagi tactic on Johnson…knowing that the only way to get to the Pro Bowl is by having Johnson catching his passes out there.

Tennessee at Tampa Bay

Two stats jump out at me when looking over this game…

22 – That’s where Tampa’s D ranks in Rush Defense.  Not good when you’re facing the Titans…if you look a little closer though, they are only allowing 3.9 yards a carry…not too bad…but the fact remains they are still allowing 124 yards a game.

128.7 – That’s Vince Young’s 4th Quarter passing rating.  Not too shabby for a guy that doesn’t have perfect mechanics.  It shows that he can make the throws when he needs too.

The Titans storm Tampa and run away with one.  Their power run game will prove too much for Tampa’s smaller LBs.  If it’s not apparent, the Titans have a fan here in Connecticut…just gotta love the power running game.

Carolina at Arizona

There are only 2 things you need to know about this game…

The Cards are at home, where they are undefeated.

The David Carr era has begun in Carolina!!

Panthers’ fans, please seek out the nearest Texans fan, and inquire about the pros and cons of one Mr. Carr.  You’ll here a lot of cursing and moaning.  Don’t take this lightly, this man is damaged goods.  Throwing from your back for 5 seasons will damage most QBs.

Also, for those that own Steve Smith in Fantasy…sell high right now.  You should be able to fleece someone out of a couple solid players…trust me, just do it.  Smith is awesome, but as we’ve seen with Andre Johnson the last few years…a great WR + David Carr = Fantasy Bench.

The Cards win, and the soap opera that is the NFC West continues to get stranger.

Oakland at San Diego

I want you to close your eyes…let your mind drift…you’re going back…way back…you’re very comfortable now…you start to drift off to sleep…a deep sleep…deeper and deeper….way back…when I snap my fingers you will be in a deep sleep…SNAP.

Now, its July…we’re looking at the NFL schedule, at the Oct 14th game between the Chargers and Raiders…now, when I snap my fingers again, you’ll wake up in the present day, but you’ll remember all those thoughts from July…SNAP!

Okay, this game features the AFC West Division leader…and a team tied for last in the division…

Due to the hypnosis I just put you under; you’re going to assume that it’s the Chargers leading the division…and the Raiders in the cellar…ah, the magic of hypnosis works again!!

For those that were hypnotized, that’s just what you think…thanks for the wire transfer.

In the whacky division that is the AFC West…the winner of this game secures first place, the loser tumbles to the basement…just a whacky game.  This is a game that everyone should circle on their calendar and hope it’s showing in their area.  This should give us a great idea of the state of the Chargers.  Are they back or did they catch Denver sleeping?  Call me cynical right now…

Denver’s D has looked awful this year.  They can’t stop anyone from running the ball…as evidenced last week.

Denver’s offense is not built to come from behind.  They are a play from ahead team…run the ball, and then play action pass off that.  That’s not the combo you want when trying to come back.

There is definitely a feeling that they caught a break meeting Denver last week…but you can’t deny the total dominance of the win.  You also can’t help but look at the fact that the Chargers are great at defending the Run and only okay against the pass…but running the ball is the strength of the Raiders.

This is going to be an old-school AFC West battle…the Chargers pull one out at home…but this is going to be a battle.  The Raiders D is really tough, this isn’t going to be a high scoring affair…but the Chargers have more playmakers on O than the Raiders do…in the end that’s what wins it for them.

New England at Dallas

Romo picked a bad time to pull a Grossman.  Now, unlike Grossman, Romo was able to rally his team back and drive for the winning FG.  But the bigger issue is...he just exposed himself on national telelvision....don’t you think maybe, just maybe, that Belicheck was watching?  Master of all things Videotape...Ole’ Bill has already analyzed it a thousand times...and guess what Boys fans....it means more of the same for Romo.

The Bills weren’t doing anything tricky, and they had a very depleted defense...now the Pats roll into Dallas...and we all get to hear about how the AFC is mightier than the NFC.

Everytime the Pats are on TV (which is all the time out here) it is quite obvious that they have a very tailored gameplan to their opponent.  The Boys have been on TV a ton as well...and they always look the same.  It appears that their philosophy is “we’re just going to do it this wait till they beat us”.

Well, get ready to change gameplans Wade Phillips...if last week wasn’t enough of a wake up call, this week will be.

New England wins....the game is close for awhile, but the Patriots pull away in the 2nd half.  The eerie silence that falls over Texas Stadium is similar to the hush that fell over Soldier field last year...when Bears fans realize...”Oh, the AFC is that good....crap.”

New Orleans at Seattle

First, always take Seattle at home.

Second, the Saints don’t look to f***ing good.

That adds up to be “great” Sunday night game.  And with Holgremn involved, Madden has an easy connection to Favre to exploit, so we’ll get to hear plenty about Favre and the Packers Super Bowls.

Word of warning to Seahawks fans, and people that have Shaun Alexander in Fantasy…Mack Strong’s career is over due to a spinal injury.  This is a big blow for Seattle football, Mack is a great teammate, blocker, and human being.  It’s a huge loss for the Hawks, and even a bigger loss for Alexander.  It is well established that Alexander runs better with a lead blocker…and the Hawks just lost on of the best in the business.  The running game is going to stagnate in Seattle, shouldn’t matter this week, but it will come into play down the road.

Mack, hope you recover quickly, and good luck, it’s been a pleasure watching you lace‘em up.

The Hawks win one over the Saints.  Hopefully they have a tribute to Mack that gets aired nationally; just so all those that aren’t in the Seattle area will know just how good a player and person he is.

NY Giants at Atlanta

Why is this a Monday night game?

Seriously, why?  Yes, I know the schedule came out before the whole Vick thing unraveled, but even then, why?  Isn’t the goal on Monday night to highlight good teams or key match-ups?  Even with Vick…this wouldn’t qualify on either account.  The Giants looked bad coming into the season…and their D is still having problems stopping people…and the Falcons with or without Vick, were putting in a new coach and new system…and they weren’t a playoff team last year….so I ask again…

Why is this a Monday night game?

What we get now is 3 hours of Kornhiser’s take on Vick…yay.

Have you ever been super excited to open a present?  It’s your birthday, wedding, barmitzva, or retirement...and on the present table there is a present that is sensationally wrapped, and is the exact size and shape of something you really want. You keep staring at it, thinking of all the uses it might have....and then the time comes to open the presents, and you tear into it....only to find it’s something you already have.  The letdown you feel is just huge...and it’s really hard because you can’t let a lot of it show.  Just a terrible position to be in.

Looking at this game, that’s the feeling I get.  Monday night has such a special feeling to it for football...ad when you get a game like this...man....

Of course now this is going to be the greatest Monday night game of all time...me and my big mouth....

Giants win this one...their offense will prove just a bit much for the Dirty Birds.  Leftwich will get into the game again, and look just as bad...allowing me to feel okay that the Bears didn’t pick him up.

We’re almost to the halfway point of the season...man, it’s just flying by.  For those that care, I’ll be putting together a Mid-Season review of the teams...a quick blow by blow of all 32 teams, and what they have to look forward to this year.  And yes, there will be more than one post next week as well.

As always...if these picks don't float your boat, try Dan's on for size! 

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