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This seems like the proper Segway into…
Oakland @ San Diego : Denver @ Kansas City
The first installment of Thursday Night Football features the battle from AFC West supremacy. Oakland is playing without their starting quarterback and star running back. Is there any doubt at this point who the best quarterback on their roster is? Palmer has thrown six interceptions in a game and a half. That’s 2 more than Campbell threw in 6 games. In the two games since he’s been injured, the Raiders have thrown 3 TDs and 9INT. I don’t care if you gave up a first and second rounder for Palmer, if Campbell is healthy, he has to play. San Diego played admirably and they had a chance to tie the game at the end but does anyone really believe they were going to actually do it? In vintage San Diego fashion, they made the last few minutes nerve racking for their fans, and as always they let them down. In much more significant news, Tim Tebow is 2-1 as a starter this year. Can we just flip a coin or something?
New Orleans @ Atlanta
The people who were on the Falcons when they were 2-3 didn’t recognize the fact that they lost to Chicago, Tampa, and Green Bay, three pretty good football teams. They’re in a position right now, at home where they’re virtually unbeatable (unless you’re Green Bay), to be in first place with a win this week. New Orleans only road wins came at Carolina and Jacksonville. For whatever reason, they are a completely different team on the road than they are at home.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
It’s tough to really tell how good the Bengals are, they’ve only beaten one team with a winning record. They’re 6-2 but in the next five weeks, they play the Steelers twice, the Ravens, and the Texans. We’ll get a clear indication of how good they really are soon enough. Boy did the Steelers miss LaMarr Woodley on Sunday, without him Harrison was the only player on the Steelers who generated any sort of consistent pressure on Flacco.
Detroit @ Chicago
Huge win for the Bears, who are starting to resemble the team that won the North and made it to the NFC Title game last year. Jay Cutler is playing as well as he’s ever played. Maybe the off-season turmoil lit a fire under him because he’s been fiery as ever. Why am I picking the Lions? Chicago is coming off a short week and the Lions have been off for two weeks. Probably also because I’m a Lions fan, I admit it.
New England @ New York Jets
I don’t think the Patriots are good enough to sweep the Jets this year. The Jets have been running it a bit better and playing defense a whole lot better. At this point the Pats are who they are. Which is a good team capable of beating anyone, but who will struggle against good teams. They’re still a playoff team, but they’re far from elite.
Arizona @ Philadelphia
The Eagles were flying high after their dismantling of the Cowboys, everyone was proclaiming them NFC East favorites again. They were exposed once again Monday night against the Bears. They were very sloppy defensively. They had trouble stopping the run. They have an offense that has huge names like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, and Michael Vick, and yet they only put up 17 points. They make too many boneheaded mistakes offensively. Perfect example, fourth and 10 with the game on the line, Maclin running a shallow cross is wide open, Vick throws high, Maclin slips two yards short of the first down. Any throw that allows Maclin to stay on his feet and they had an easy first down.
Buffalo @ Dallas
Reasons why the Cowboys have a chance to win the AFC East, next four games: Buff, @Wash, Mia, @Ari, before they host the Giants. At worse they Cowboys should win three of these games and head into their showdown with the Giants at 7-5. The Giants could easily be 8-4, if the Cowboys win that, they’ll more than likely be in first place. That could potentially set up a juicy New Year’s Day game at the Meadowlands for the division.
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis
This divisional matchup is well, a little less important. The Jaguars still have MJD and a defense that shows up once in a while. What do the Colts have? Oh right they have a chance to draft Andrew Luck.
St. Louis @ Cleveland
Jay Feely is 1-1 as a starter. Sam Bradford is 0-6. Now I’m not saying that Feely is better than Bradford, far from it, but how in the world do you explain stuff like this? Bradford is easily the second best player on that team and yet they can’t beat Arizona with him, yet they beat New Orleans without him? Hard to fathom.
Tennessee @ Carolina
Remember the Cam Newton versus Blaine Gabbert debate leading into the NFL draft? I think it’s safe to say the Panthers made the right decision. I still can’t give the Panthers’ front office all the praise though because well they needlessly signed a running back $21 million guaranteed to touch the ball 10 times a game, puzzling.
Washington @ Miami
HERE COME THE FINS. Two in a row. Matt Moore.
Baltimore @ Seattle
How in the world did the team that played Sunday night lose to the Titans? How in the world did a team as bad as the Seahawks beat the Giants?
Minnesota @ Green Bay
The Vikings must be thinking we have Jared Allen and a running back to keep Rodgers off the field, maybe we have a chance. Not happening.
Houston @ Tampa Bay
These are the types of games that Houston usually loses. This is one of the three games that can stand in the way of Houston and a first round bye (Atlanta and Cincy being the other two). This pick is entirely based on the history of Houston and not at all based on confidence in Tampa. If they want any shot at the playoffs they need to stop this sinking ship quick. A loss here and they’re staring 4-6 in the face with a trip to Green Bay next week.
New York Giants @ San Francisco
I love what the Giants do on passing downs, they line up four pass rushing defensive ends, Osi, Tuck, Pierre-Paul, and Kiwanuka, and get after the quarterback. Steve Smith jumped to Philly for more money. Kevin Boss did likewise when he joined Oakland. They’ve combined for 13 receptions and a touchdown so far this season. Their replacements? Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard, 57 receptions and 7 touchdowns. The Giants need to find a way to scratch out four wins from this point on, and get to ten wins. Nine wins might not be enough to get into the playoffs this year.
The 49ers keep on rolling but were largely unimpressive against arguably the worst offensive team in the NFL. The thing the 49ers are doing really well is spelling Frank Gore, although it may frustrate fantasy owners. They’re really limiting his touches to somewhere between 20-30 times a game. Kendall Hunter is getting plenty of work and it’s helping Gore avoid all those nagging injuries he’s had in the past. They’re keeping him fresh and that can only help the 49ers going forward.
Last Week: 8-6
Upset Special: 4-5