Today's absurd prediction:
The Eagles rise up and win on Sunday night.
I have some shocking news for you today, FanNation. This Sunday, there will be 12 OTHER GAMES played! And some of them are even going to be pretty good - here's how I think they'll go:
Arizona at Tampa Bay - Both teams are fighting hard and need this win to gain some ground on the division leader. While both vastly improved from 2005; they've been inconsistent and need to string some wins together if they want to overtake current leaders Carolina and Seattle. Kurt Warner is going to need the best protection his line can give him against Tampa Bay's pass rush: he was never very mobile to begin with, but now he's old and hobbled. He won't be evading anyone, and the pressure on him is going to be the difference, as Tampa Bay finally creates some turnovers again and takes the win at home. Arizona 20, Tampa Bay 28. Game MVP: Jeff Garcia - 26 for 33 passing, 279 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs.
Carolina at Tennessee - LenDale White may finally be silencing his critics, including yours truly, after exploding for 133 yards last week. This'll help make up for the fact that Vince Young still isn't 100%. Meanwhile, it looks like David Carr will be starting for the Panthers, which isn't promising. I never rule out the Panthers, who can beat anyone including themselves, but I think Tennessee's defense is too good to let Carolina really get going; and they know how to handle an RB tandem. Panthers 21, Titans 23. Game MVP: LenDale White - 21 rushes for 128 yds, 2 TDs.
Cincinnati at Buffalo - Here's something fun about this game: both teams have beaten the Ravens and the Jets, and nobody else. The Bills have beaten the Jets twice, hence the better record. J.P. Losman is back in the saddle with Trent Edwards' hand injury slowing him down, which may be rough for Buffalo's offense. Both teams are dealing with a lot of injuries, so that cancels out. Lee Evans is finally back to his old self, though, and that'll be the difference against an awful pass defense. Bengals 27, Bills 38. Game co-MVPs: J.P. Losman - 27 for 40 passing, 355 yds, 4 TDs, 1 INT; Lee Evans - 7 receptions for 188 yds, 2 TDs.
Denver at Detroit - AFC supremacy rules state that even though Detroit has a better record, Denver should win this one. However, the interconference record is only 18-14 in the AFC's favor; and the NFC North vs. AFC West is 4-2 in the NFC's favor. Could it be that the AFC's dominance is on its way out? Well, not at the top level. But just below that, it might be so. But back to the game. Detroit's offense has been puzzling lately; and the passing game against Champ Bailey and Dre Bly doesn't look too hot. However, with Kitna's arm, and his receivers' speed, they'll spread out the defense plenty, which means lots of room to run, and that's how the home team will win. Broncos 22, Lions 28. Game MVP: Kevin Jones - 29 rushes for 166 yds, 2 TDs.
Green Bay at Kansas City - Brett Favre goes to Arrowhead, to face the only team he's never beaten, and he has to do it on short rest. Also, I wouldn't get too caught up in Ryan Grant fever (though I picked him up in fantasy football just in case) - it was one good game, and it was against Denver. Kansas City, on the other hand, is 4-1 since Jared "The Drunken Sackmaster" Allen returned to the lineup after a suspension. The interesting matchup nobody's talking about: the top two rookie receivers are facing off here - Green Bay's James Jones and Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe, and both will be looking to make a statement that you shouldn't be writing AD's name in a ballot just yet. I'm going to pick Kansas City to get the upset, since that seems to be the direction this entry is taking. Packers 17, Chiefs 20. Game MVP: Jared Allen - 5 tackles, 2 sacks, FF, FR, TD.
Jacksonville at New Orleans - Plenty on this matchup in my debate with Josh. The gist for me is: New Orleans doesn't have the secondary to take advantage of the Jaguars' big weakness - Quinn Gray at quarterback. He's got the arm to stretch the defense and make them pay if they load up against the run, and they'll score just enough to top what the rejuvenated Drew Brees can pull off. Jaguars 24, Saints 23. Game MVP: Mike Peterson - 8 tackles, INT, 2 PD, FR
San Diego at Minnesota - One of the few games I feel very confident about. Minnesota has a defense good enough to slow the Chargers down, but they won't stop them. They might keep Tomlinson under 100 yards rushing, but with Chris Chambers as the new piece defenses have to account for, Rivers will be able to spread the ball around. And here's a prediction for you: LT gets more receiving yards than rushing. I'd talk about Minnesota's offense, but I don't feel like it. There's only so much AD can do against San Diego's linebackers. Chargers 31, Vikings 13. Game MVP: Philip Rivers - 22 for 34 passing, 269 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs.
San Francisco at Atlanta - The losing team will completely implode. If the 49ers lose, that clinches the end of Mike Nolan's tenure. If the Falcons lose, most of the veterans will be sent packing next offseason. This is a pivotal game for both teams, and I don't want to watch. 49ers 18, Falcons 14. Game MVP: Joe Nedney - 6 FGs, 0 obscene gestures (though it wouldn't be the first time for Falcon fans).
Washington at NY Jets - This would be another one I feel confident in, except I never feel confident about a Redskins game. Years of baffling inconsistency have done that to me. It's pointless to discuss who sees this as a grudge match; be it Pete Kendall, Santana Moss, Lauveranues "Buy a Vowel" Coles, or any of the other Jetskins scattered across both rosters. Because the Redskins are not named the Dolphins, it's a fairly safe bet that Kellen Clemens' first game is a loss. Redskins 24, Jets 13. Game MVP: LaRon Landry - 5 tackles, 2 PD, sack, FF, FR, TD.
Seattle at Cleveland - It's very hard to trust Seattle on the road, so I won't. Seattle ought to be able to do some damage against Cleveland's defense, but is the secondary good enough to stop the Browns how-is-it-this-good passing game? I'm going to go with no. And hey, if Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace both get hurt, Charlie Frye gets to take revenge on his former team. Seahawks 31, Browns 38. Game MVP: Derek Anderson - 25 for 36 passing, 313 yds, 4 TDs, 2 INTs.
Houston at Oakland - This just in: it'll be Sage Rosenfels vs. Josh McCown. Zzzz-huh? Sorry, dozed off for a second there. These are both teams on their way up, but not there yet. They'd both much prefer a 7-9 season to a #1 draft pick; because they need to show signs of progress. So both want the win, but there aren't any more must-wins, since the playoffs are extremely unlikely for either. And sorry about the knock there, Sage and Josh - I actually have a lot of respect for both of you as backups. Houston 20, Oakland 17, OT. Game MVP: DeMeco Ryans - 12 tackles, FF
New England at Indianapolis - God, what a boring game this'll be. Okay, seriously, there's nothing to be said here that hasn't been said. Personally, I'm setting up a story where the Pats run up the score even on the Colts and set themselves up for a nasty bashing in the AFC Championship. Jim Sorgi plays the second half of the 4th quarter. Matt Cassell doesn't. Patriots 49, Colts 20. Game MVP: Tom Brady - 30 for 37 passing, 388 yds, 6 TDs, 0 INTs.
Dallas at Philadelphia - It's Sunday night, and it's a division rivalry. If history has taught us anything, it's expect the unexpected. I think I might have a handle on Donovan McNabb, and it's this: you know all the hype and stupid motivational BS people come up with? McNabb needs it. He need the odds piled up against him, people doubting him, calling for his head, etc. And with all the criticism of Andy Reid right now in the face of his son's legal troubles, plus hatred of T.O., plus the criticism of McNabb himself, plus the fact that it's a home crowd... he's going to rally the team around him and say "Let's win one for coach." And they will. Cowboys 24, Eagles 38. Game MVP: Donovan McNabb - 26 for 31 passing, 291 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh - Baltimore hates the Steelers enough to make a game of this, they're just not good enough. Pittsburgh starts to pull away in the second half, and ends up outscoring the Ravens 24-9 after halftime. Ravens 16, Steelers 34. Game MVP: Willie Parker - 26 carries for 155 yds.
There are a number of differences between these and my Natural Power Rankings' predictions - if NPR kicks my **** again, I'm no longer going to make my own personal predictions, and instead use this space to justify those picks. Of course, I'll still predict scores and MVPs, don't worry.
Make sure to check out Josh's picks, too. He's a good man, and thorough.