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Sunday, September 25, 2005

 
Football does not seem important this week in light of the loss of Jerry. As such, I am only offering picks sans analysis. Kim and I were both 8-8 last week, which we blame on the Redskins for winning a game where they got whipped in every sense of the word for 56 minutes. For the season, Kim is 18-14 and I am 20-12. It’s not as strong a start as we would like, but at least we’re not suffering the way that Peter King is.

Carolina
Minnesota
New York Jets
Philadelphia
Atlanta
Cincinnati
Green Bay (Yes, Green Bay)
St. Louis
Dallas (for texx)
Seattle
Pittsburgh
San Diego (If they don’t win this game, the Phillip watch moves to Defcon 1.)
Denver

And the suicide league special for the week is Indianapolis…though if I were a gambler, I might be inclined to take a Romeo Crennel defense and the points.

Home field advantage has meant all the difference in the world so far this year (23-9 thus far). I expect this trend to continue in week three. This is why I am only picking four road teams, three of whom are still the favorites in their games.

Karma.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

 
BOP's own Jerry Barnes passed away on September 23rd at 1:30 PM. He was 53 years old. I could talk for hours about this unique man and I reserve the right to do just that one day. For now, though, I simply want to say that the world has lost one of its most charismatic, zestful people. You lived an extraordinary life and you will be deeply missed, my friend.

Karma.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

 
New England

Carolina received a ton of preseason attention including the Sports Illustrated Kiss of Death world championship prediction. I was a bit mystified by this since on the one hand, they can't beat the Falcons at all (1-9 in the 2000s) and on the other, they did not beat a single winning team last season. If you cannot beat the heavyweight in your division or any other above average team, you are not a legitimate postseason favorite. If the reality of this was not driven home last week, it will be when the real world champions come to visit.

Pittsburgh

Confession: I was smart enough to pick up Willie Parker in three fantasy football leagues but too dumb to start him in any of them last week. Not starting a Steelers RB against the Titans defense is grounds for league suspension in my opinion. I have no idea what I was thinking there. Anyway, the reality is that the Steelers are a strong, aggressive football team but no lock in this game. No NFL team is ever as good or bad as they look in a given game. This is good news for the Texans and bad news for the Steelers...but I am not ready to go crazy here and pick the underdog home team anyway. Special note to Houston: get Andre Johnson more involved. Only 3 touches last week? Come on.

Baltimore

I said last week that I believe the Titans are better than prevailing wisdom would indicate and I stand by that. I expect that they will have a similar season to the one the Ravens had in 2002 when they came out of cap jail. As Brian Billick would say, Tennessee has graduated their seniors and is now ready for the underclassmen to step up. Having said all that, the schedule does Jeff Fisher no early favors. The Ravens were punched in the mouth Sunday night. A team this proud will not accept the embarrassment of being beaten up by the historically soft Colts. Had that game gone better, I could see the Ravens possibly taking their recent nemesis for granted. On a larger point, this game will be the first time in what feels like forever that Eddie George and Ray Lewis won't talk after every play. I am going to miss that terribly.

Indianapolis

Jacksonville seems to play the Colts the toughest of any team not coached by Bill Belichick. Combining that thought with the one above about teams never being as good as they look in week one makes the Jaguars an intriguing upset pick. Or it would if the Colts were not playing at the RCA Dome. They were 9-1 last year playing on the track surface they call home. Of course, upset specialists should note that the one loss was to...you guessed it...the Jags. At the time, I described the win as a fluke, though, and Indy has only gotten scarier since then.

Philadelphia

For the record, I don't see this game as the slam dunk others expect it to be. If the Eagles get on the Niners early and often, they should be fine. If they let San Francisco hang around, though, the underdogs would love nothing better than to laugh in the face of Terrell Owens. As I mentioned in the Falcons analysis last week, the people who watched the team in 2003 know he quit on them. They are out for blood. I just don't think they have the horses to get there. If they pull off the unthinkable, a win on the home field of the NFC champions, the wheels will come off for Philly. Wouldn't that be fun, sports fans? Oh, who am I kidding? Suicide leaguers, engage!

Detroit

Last week's loss to Washington is unfortunately a blueprint of the season to come for the Bears. Detroit finds itself in the odd position of being clearly the more talented team for a second straight weekend. We're through the looking glass here. For the Bears to win, they need too force Joey Harrington into a ton of mistakes while making enough plays vertically to keep the hounds from being released on Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson (who should see more touches this week). I expect the Lions to find themselves 2-0. Unfortunately, they will still have no idea about how good their football team is as they head into the bye.

Cincinnati

This game is the tossup of the week. There is a great piece in the latest Sporting News about the Vikings offense. The argument espoused is that teams no longer have to commit safeties and the occasional linebacker to Randy Moss, so the running game will suffer. The answer to this issue is to attack with the team's Brian Westbrook, Mewelde Moore. The over/under on how long it takes the Vikes to realize this is six weeks.

Buffalo

Detail-oriented readers will note that I indicated last week that I have low expectations for the Bucs this season. An ugly win against a pathetic Minnesota team has done little to change this. Buffalo has the type of defense Tampa had during the Tony Dungy era and a RB who might be the finest in his division...high praise for one that also features Curtis Martin, Corey Dillon, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. All the steroids in the world aren't going help TB avoid the invading onslaught.

Arizona

How bad was Arizona's special teams play last night? It's the worst I have seen on any level this season and I include UT's pathetic performance against Florida in that. William Ponder replaced the 1998/99 NFC Championship Game in Dennis Green's nightmares this week. Something called Willie Ponder scored more often than Hugh Hefner. Has the team righted the ship? If they haven't, I could miss on this prediction by 40 points. Under any circumstance, this game should have more fireworks than the seduction scene in To Catch a Thief.

Atlanta

Chad Lavalais was fined $7,500 for a perfect form tackle. That was the only bad news in Monday's win. It's evident that the Falcons have become the team to beat in the lowly NFC. The question becomes how the team will play as the heavy favorite instead of the disrespected comer. Seattle needs to score early and get a large enough lead to force the Falcons to pass more often. If that doesn't happen, they are going to get beaten up to a degree that would make Nelson Muntz proud.

Green Bay

Much has been made of the talent the Packers lost on the offensive line in the off-season. What was not often noted was that it was two aging guards, guys who were not going to be an asset for much longer anyway. With their dismissal and the loss of Javon Walker, the Packers are now forced to train kids for the future as much as they try to give Brett Favre one last run at a title. I don't see this as a bad situation. Wide receiver is the deepest position for the team, and guards are much easier to train to be solid than tackles. As long as the defense holds up, this team should be fine. If they lose at home against Cleveland, they are in a world of hurt, though.

New York Jets

For all the off-season concern about Chad Pennington's health, the bigger issue was largely ignored. The Jets switched from an offensive system Pennington knew well enough to coach to Mike Heimerdinger's complicated spread attack. Cerebral as coach's son Pennington is, he has not quiet grasped the intricacies of this offense. He isn't even close. The fallout of this was evident across the Jets offense. The snap problems, fumbles, the interceptions, the penalties...all of it was a reflection of his confusion. The end result was a game which is best summarized as this. The first pick the Jets had in the 2005 draft tripped on his first field goal attempt while the first pick in the 2004 draft got punched in the face by one of his own teammates. Suffice it to say that I am really putting myself out there by projecting this team to recover in week two.

Denver

San Diego's game went exactly as I expected. Denver's game went exactly the opposite of what I expected. One of these presumed playoff contenders is going to be 0-2 to start the season. That makes the Chargers regret that this is an away game. They have not won at Mile High Stadium since 1999. I know that it's a bit unfair to ding the current team with stats from when they were pathetic, but then again, the 2004 team lost by 10 points. Needless to say, a win for the Chargers would be a big deal whereas a loss puts them at 0-2 with the Steelers and Patriots on the horizon. San Diego is motivated since they are staring 1-4 in the face (*if* they beat the Giants), but it's impossible to pick against Denver at home. They are 12-4 there the past two seasons. Home field matters in the thin air.

Kansas City

We will find out a lot about the presumably improved Chiefs defense and the Raiders offense this week. One was even better than advertised last week whereas the other one was undressed in Must See TV primetime. The even worse news for the Raiders is that their defense looks terrible and they now face the most potent, balanced offense in football. Good luck with that. If it were a home game for Kansas City or at the very least not an interdivisional match-up, it would be the suicide league pick of the week. I expect a blowout but the fact that the two teams see each other twice a year could create some surprises.

New York

A word of caution to haphazard gamblers: New Orleans appears on sports sheets as the home team, because they technically are. No one informed the NFL that home field advantage means playing somewhere closer to you than the other team...such as, say, their home field. What a bush league decision by the NFL.

Dallas

December 29, 2002 is a glorious day for Skins fans. It represents the only time in the 2000s that Washington has overcome their most hated adversary. What cause do they have to believe that this week two match-up will be any different from nine of the last ten? Well, they've got that young Patrick Ramsey...no. Is Jason Campbell the starter yet? Okay, I will ask again next week. So, that leaves...uh oh. The only good news about Mark Brunell starting this game is that he does so outside of Washington, meaning that the boo birds he hears Monday night will not be from his own fans. And if a miracle occurs and Washington wins, he might even be allowed to return to the District of Columbia sans a police escort. Don't bet the farm on that happening, though. The score becomes Parcells 3, Gibbs 0 in the latest generation of their coaching duel.

Karma.


Friday, September 16, 2005

 
First of all, Survivor is back and Kim and my column is up. I still owe you the finale recap from Season One, but recent health issues have prevented that thus far. Along the lines, don’t be surprised if I miss an update here or there during the football season. I’m currently looking at one surgery and might need more work done depending on some further test results. On the plus side, after my system gets cleaned out this time, I should be golden for a while and the meds…boy howdy, are the meds ever fun! But I digress.

Reviewing last weekend’s results, I was 12-4 on the weekend with slip-ups coming in the Dolphins, 49ers, Bucs and Giants games. I can understand the latter two, but the former two are going to be among my surprising misses of the year. It would be surprising if Miami and San Francisco win on the same weekend any other time this year. For her part, Kim was 10-6. I note that the selections I pick for her would indicate 9-7, but this is my mistake rather than hers. I listed her Carolina/New Orleans selection incorrectly. This was an obvious oversight on my part since there was no way that New Orleans Girl was going to pick against her city the week after the tragedy. Kim and my selections will be posted over the weekend.

Karma.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

 
Okay, sports fans, the time has come once again. Here are Kim Hollis and my picks for today’s games.  If you listened to us on Thursday, you have already successfully positioned yourself into week two in your suicide leagues. Enjoy an afternoon of baiting those whose situations are more perilous! Nothing is worse than going out in week one of a suicide league. It’s like having to start David Terrell at WR.

For those of you who are new to this blog update, Kim and I do not confer on our selections. We do, however, spend all of Sunday curled up on the couch watching football. So, over the course of our Sunday afternoon football dates (how dreamy is my girl?), we do begin to form a sort of group think about various teams, players and coaches. The end result is that without a single moment of discussion about upcoming match-ups, we frequently wind up with results such as you see today where we agree on 13 out of 16 games.

The format for Sunday updates this year is simple. I will post the picks where we agree first followed by the ones where we disagree at the end. At the end of today’s update, I will also list a few predictions for the upcoming season since that’s the trendy thing to do these days. I’m all about giving in to peer pressure.

Kim: Buffalo
David: Buffalo

I actually have serious concerns about this game due to the fact that Buffalo has inexperience and injuries on the offensive line. They also have a de facto rookie QB who seems to have a case of Superman Syndrome. This is the condition wherein a young player stubbornly tries to force the action when the smart play is to tip your cap to the defense on move on to the next down. Were Houston better defensively, I would expect J.P. Losman to prove Buffalo’s undoing but since they are not, I feel that the Bills defense is good enough to overcome a few mistakes.

Kim: Washington
David: Washington

Is Jason Campbell the starter yet? No? Okay, I will ask again next week. It’s staggering to think that Kyle Orton is already an NFL starter considering the fact that there were questions about his play in his last year of college. Having said that, the choice between Chad Hutchinson and him was no choice at all. Hutchinson has no business playing in this league. The good news for the Bears is that their defense is strong, they have two gifted tailbacks, and their WR core is night and day better than last year. Rex Grossman’s injury is what keeps them from being a playoff team but Orton’s arm is plenty strong enough to put a scare in some defenses. Washington just doesn’t happen to be one of them. As long as Patrick Ramsey doesn’t undo the work of Clinton Portis, they should come out of week one with a win. This game is hardly a slam dunk, though.

Kim: Cincinnati
David: Cincinnati

It’s Cleveland. Enough said. Romeo Crennel hopes to duplicate the initial success that Charlie Weis has found, but it’s much harder to win at the pro level when your talent is sub-par. Coaching only goes so far. The Browns have reinvented themselves on defense and should show gradual improvement as the season goes on. A juggernaut of a Bengals offense is a brutal week one draw, though. Carson Palmer will have to be mistake prone if the Browns are to have any chance. I actually expect them to be surprisingly decent on offense with the steady Trent Dilfer leading the way, and the Bengals are not tough defensively. But the talent level is simply too imbalanced on both sides of the ball for the upset to happen.

Kim: Jacksonville
David: Jacksonville

The one place where Kim and I really agree is that both of these teams are being criminally overrated as we begin the season. The Jags WR core is best described as the skeletal remains of Jimmy Smith plus others. If Matt Jones becomes the player I expect him to be (an elite version of Drew Bennett…err, moreso), they will be okay. If not, the team is left hoping for Fred Taylor to be fully recovered from his injuries…and by all accounts, he is not. Even so, we like them at home over a Seattle team that is more inconsistent than a coin flip.

Kim: Denver
David: Denver

Good news, Dolphins fans! When Ricky Williams returns in a month, you will have an offense that includes Ronnie Brown, Marty Booker, Chris Chambers, David Boston and Mr. Tibet 2004. Unfortunately, you will still have Gus Frerotte at quarterback unless any of you knows a guy who knows a guy if you get what I’m saying and I think you do. My bold prediction this year is that the Dolphins are not nearly as far down as everyone is saying. I would not be surprised if they toyed with .500 in December. But Denver’s defense is much improved and their offense is nearly 100% Plummer-proof. To my utter amazement (and the delight of site mate Joshua Rice), none other than Mike Shanahan himself is saying that Mike Anderson has had the best camp of any player he has ever seen. Praise from Caesar is praise indeed. This should be the year where Ashley Lelie finally supplants Rod Smith as the #1 wide receiver and if Darius Watts can just hold on to the ball, this three receiver set is one of the best in the game.

Kim: Minnesota
David: Minnesota

No, I am not one of those people who is sticking his neck out to say that the Vikings are going to be great this year. I watch in bemusement as suckers do that every season. The reality is that this is a middling team as long as Mike Tice is running the show. He’ll meddle just enough to damage team chemistry and wipe out morale. Even allowing for that, though, I like the Vikings a lot in a home game against Gruden’s Finest. For that matter, I am of the opinion that Tampa Bay is a solid contender in the Matt Leinart sweepstakes and possibly even the leader in the clubhouse since San Francisco just drafted a QB. An aging defense desperately needed an injection of young blood during a draft where they had a dozen picks. Instead, the team inexplicably spent nine of twelve picks on offensive players. Can you tell which side of the ball Gruden favors? Even worse, none of the three defensive players has supplanted a starter and one of them did not even make the team. Rich McKay must be tickled to death that he got out when he did. It is not coincidental that his new team, the Falcons, picked more defensive than offensive players the last two years. The men simply had fundamentally different opinions on how to win in the NFL. Even if I were not a Falcons fan, I would be squarely in McKay’s camp on the issue.

Kim: Pittsburgh
David: Pittsburgh

My next bold prediction is that Tennessee is not anywhere near as far down as has been predicted. Their 2004 draft was one which looked toward the short term future. They saw the writing on the wall with regards to cap jail and GM Floyd Reese correctly anticipated the positions they would need players developed to fill. The defensive line was a concentration and the early results have been positive. Antwan Odom has conquered a rare nasal bone condition which tragically killed his sister, and is now poised to be a breakout player this season. The team even picked up a cheap free agent addition in Kyle Vanden Bosch, a talented player who could never stay healthy in Arizona. The real coup, though, is the much chronicled addition of Norm Chow as offensive coordinator. Chow has twin running backs as weapons to toss on top of huuuuuge receivers in Drew Bennett and Tyrone Calico. Do not be surprised if a healthy Steve McNair has the sort of season which reminds people he was considered the MVP equal of Peyton Manning in 2003. Having said all of that, Pittsburgh was 15-1 for a reason last season. Even if Big Ben Roethlisberger struggles with turnovers and their unknown, unheralded third string running back Willie Parker plays like a third stringer (which I doubt, btw), they still should be able to control the Titans in week one.

Kim: St. Louis
David: St. Louis

Mike Nolan strikes me as a coaching savant and I hold out hope he will redeem my beloved 49ers. Any emotional high they might get from their first home game under the new regime will be counterbalanced by heavy doses of Steven Jackson. And as ridiculous as it seems, a team that had two of the top five receivers in football last year with regards to yardage has developed two more. Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald have both shown flashes of brilliance. A four receiver set with Jackson in the backfield would be enough to make any defensive coordinator curl up in the fetal position and thumb-suck the night away.

Kim: Detroit
David: Detroit

Kevin Jones is getting a ridiculous amount of hype for a guy who was 12th in the league in rushing yardage last year. Normally, I would bemoan the bandwagon-jumping mentality which has so many people talking him up. I am not going to do that for two reasons, though. The first is that I felt all along that as great as Steven Jackson and Julius Jones are, Kevin Jones was easily the best back in the 2004 draft. The second is that on those occasions where Jones breaks through the first line of defense and gets outside, the receivers blocking for him on the wing are, in order, 6-2/212, 6-3/220 and 6-4/233. Having monster receivers does not just affect the passing game, after all. If Joey Harrington gets hurt, the wheels come off for the Lions but until he does, I love this team. And Kim likes them even more than I do. She picked up a Roy Williams #11 jersey a couple of weeks ago.

Kim: Arizona
David: Arizona

Nobody noticed but the Cardinals would have made the playoffs last year if Dennis Green hadn’t inexplicably created a quarterback controversy. He incorrectly determined that the NFC West was out of reach (HA!), so he benched Josh McCown coming off of a win against the Giants. No one knows why. The Cardinals lost their next three games. Had they won two of those, they would have been thrust into the 8-8 tiebreaker. So, why am I picking a team that somehow managed to lose to the San Francisco 49ers…twice? What Dennis Green has always done as well as anyone in football is build an organization. His in-game coaching makes Giants fans think Ray Handley wasn’t that bad, but he has an eye for talent which cannot be ignored. Demonstrating this point, the Cardinals are universally regarded to have not just the best draft of 2005 but one of the finest in recent memory. Their first two picks, Antrel Rolle and J.J. Arrington, are both popular choices to be rookie of the year on their respective sides of the ball. They picked up another quality cover corner in Eric Green, a starting guard in Elton Brown and two solid linebackers in Darryl Blackstock and Lance Mitchell. In just two years, the entire Cardinals team has been rebuilt into a contender. Meanwhile, the Giants have to hope that simply getting healthy in the off-season and seeing Eli Manning develop will be enough to turn things around. To their credit, the organization did well with their limited draft picks. Corey Webster looks to be a steal, Justin Tuck is providing a push on the outside in preseason games, and Brandon Jacobs looks like a stud at RB. But with Eli’s arm a question mark, I just can’t in good confidence pick them to beat a young, talented Cardinals team.

Kim: Indianapolis
David: Indianapolis

This is, to my mind, the pick’em game of the week, so I am surprised Kim and I agree on the pick. The Ravens defense has the potential to be special and they finally have weapons on the outside on offense. Derrick Mason is one of the most underrated #1 wideouts in football, and Mark Clayton is going to be a fine deep threat. In addition, Jamal Lewis is the guy I think will be the best running back in football this year. So why am I not picking them? No, it’s not Boller Fear…though I will acknowledge he has looked terrible in the preseason. My largest concern stems from the fact that the last time I saw future Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden matched up against Dwight Freeney, Ogden looked like I do when I play Halo 2 against 12 year olds. He got fragged enough to qualify for short term disability. That’s the franchise offensive lineman for the Ravens, and he can’t stop Freeney. You put that level of disruption on one side of the ball and Peyton Manning on the other side and it’s hard to pick the Ravens. I expect this to be the game of the week, though.


Kim: New York Jets
David: Kansas City

Kansas City is 18-6 over their last 24 home games. Before you consider this a slam dunk, though, I should point out that they were only 4-4 last year. Even so, I consider the Chiefs to be the most explosive offense in football and yes, I include the Colts in that. The Chiefs have three different offensive linemen who can make a case for Canton and they have a TE who is already a slam dunk for initiation there at the ripe old age of 29. For her part, Kim just likes The Nuge. Those of you who skipped the NFL Draft coverage missed out on one of the most priceless live television moments in recent memory. There were tons and tons of Jets fans that waited patiently through six hours of coverage until their team finally made their selection in the middle of the second round. And all they had to show for it was a kicker. Their plaintive cries of “NOOOOOO!” could be held throughout the greater metropolitan area…which is really saying something for a city with five distinct boroughs (and Jersey).


Kim: Atlanta
David: Atlanta

I don’t believe in gambler’s insurance, so I almost always pick the Falcons. Even allowing for my bias, though, I think that this is the team to beat in the NFC. The schedule is a bit scary, but year two is usually when the Gibbs blocking scheme really takes hold. Now factor in the fact that they added a tackling machine on defense in Edgerton Hartwell and got much faster overall through the draft. It’s hard not to love this team. They play my brand of football…smash mouth running offense combined with attacking defense. Meanwhile, the Eagles are poised for an implosion. They have effectively cut a defensive lineman who immediately got a $35 million contract. Their only proven running back is unhappy with his contract and in it for himself this season. Their next best RB options are an untested rookie from a small school and a Miami Dolphins cast-off who averaged 1.8 yards per carry last year. DeAngelo Hall and Terrell Owens will be the focus of the Monday night telecast. If Hall does get in a killshot early on in the game, Owens will develop alligator arms the rest of the way and become non-factor. If that happens, Hall will be the most popular football player in the world Tuesday morning. If Owens is allowed to run free, though, I have concerns. If this game were at Philly, I would be picking the other way but the Falcons are a different football team on turf. Including the playoffs, they were 8-1 last year and only got faster in the interim.

Kim: San Diego
David: Dallas

Here is where we disagree the most. Kim thinks that San Diego was one of the best teams in football last year and not much has changed in the off-season. I agree that they had several impressive wins during the season, but if you look at their schedule, much is revealed. They split with Denver and lost to Indianapolis, Atlanta and the New York Jets. Effectively, they went 1-4 in their five hardest games then flamed out in their first playoff game (poor Nate Kaeding). Beating Kansas City twice is impessive, but the reality is that San Diego had a soft schedule and maximized results from it. I tip my cap to them, but this year’s schedule is the polar opposite with regards to brutality. In week one, they don’t have Antonio Gates, either, because both parties handled the situation poorly. Their proven red zone threat unavailable, the Chargers are forced to rely much more on Drew Brees to find other receivers. The problem with this is in the numbers. Last year, Brees threw 27 TD passes. Antonio Gates caught 13 TD passes. You see where I am going with this. The reason Brees experienced such dramatic improvement and sensational numbers last year was the development of Antonio Gates rather than the play of Ladanian Tomlinson or any emerging wide receivers. The Chargers could swallow this bump in the road if they had an easy opponent.

This brings me to Dallas. I feel that no team in the NFC improved more this off-season than the Cowboys. Their draft was 1A to Arizona’s 1, and they also brought in a fabulous offensive guard in two-time Pro Bowler Marco Rivera.  They added speed on defense and brought in a ridiculous amount of 3-4 playmakers including potential 4th round steal Chris Canty. This player was originally a top 15 talent but innumerable injury concerns including a potential detached retina scared off many teams. Dallas took a chance on a 6-7 monster and by all accounts, the payoff looks to be dramatic. Canty is the *fourth* best defensive player the Cowboys got in the draft after Demarcus Ware, Marcus Spears and my beloved Kevin Burnett. Peter King was raving about Burnett in his latest column as the real diamond of the bunch but unfortunately he won’t be playing the first two games. Kevin’s knee locked up, an irritation likely caused from a prior surgery he had at UT. Even with Burnett’s absence, I think that Bill Parcells has crafted exactly the sort of team he has won Super Bowls with in the past. Dallas can run with authority, have a trio of proven NFL receivers (Peerless Price will be night and day better on a passing team) and are poised to dominate on defense. Frankly, my only concern about them is their placekicker, Jose Cortez…yes, the same guy who washed out in San Francisco and Washington. If you are mainly worried about a kicker, you know a team is good.


Kim: Carolina
David: New Orleans

As you will see in a minute, I have not given in to the hype machine on Carolina like many have. I remember that this team was 1-7 to start the season and it was only after their team became a walk-in clinic that they began to win some games. I also note that Carolina failed to beat a single winning team during their stretch drive for the playoffs last season. Also, the two teams played in the same location the last week of the season with a potential playoff spot up for grabs. The Saints won the game even though they lost a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs. The Panthers have a great defense but they have questions at RB, WR (if Rod Gardner is the answer, the question is ill-formed) and on the offensive line. And if Dan Morgan gets hurt, this team has a tendency to fall apart. New Orleans is the people’s choice this week and I expect them to make a statement for an area of the country that is really hurting right now. More power to them in their laudable endeavor. As a reminder, there are links up to charitable organizations on Kim’s blog though I am sure most of you reading this have already contributed to the relief efforts in some way. God bless you for that.


With regards to preseason team predictions, here goes.

AFC East:

NY Jets 11-5
New England Patriots 11-5
Buffalo Bills 8-8
Miami Dolphins 6-10

AFC North:

Baltimore 12-4
Pittsburgh 9-7
Cincinnati 8-8
Cleveland 4-12

AFC South:

Indianapolis 13-3
Houston 7-9
Tennessee 7-9
Jacksonville 6-10

AFC West:

Denver 10-6
Kansas City 10-6
San Diego 7-9
Oakland 5-11

NFC East:

Dallas 11-5
Philadelphia 8-8
NY Giants 6-10
Washington 5-11

NFC North:

Detroit 9-7
Green Bay 8-8
Minnesota 8-8
Chicago 6-10

NFC South:

Atlanta 11-5
Carolina 9-7
New Orleans 6-10
Tampa Bay 5-11

NFC West:

Arizona 10-6
St. Louis 9-7
Seattle 7-9
San Francisco 4-12

Reviewing, I think that the Philadelphia Eagles got passed by the Dallas Cowboys in the off-season. I feel that the lowly Arizona Cardinals are going to compete not just for a playoff spot but a bye. I am ready to anoint the Lions the NFC North champions instead of the popular picks, Minnesota and Green Bay. I believe that Atlanta winds up with home field advantage throughout the postseason. I like Carolina and St. Louis as the wild cards. I see the NFC Championship game as Atlanta vs. Dallas with the Falcons being the token NFC sacrifice in the Super Bowl.

In the AFC, I expect status quo. The overall quality of play remains superior to its weaker NFC sister. I think that the Jets will win a tiebreaker over the wild card Patriots, a team that will feel some impact from losing its two coordinators. I think that Baltimore rides its defense and power running game (you will notice a theme in all of my picks…running teams with good defenses win) past last year’s sensation, Pittsburgh. The Steelers just miss the playoffs when Kansas City clinches the other wild card spot. Denver edges them in a tiebreaker for the division title. The class of the league is Indianapolis, whose defense accomplishes enough to finally give them home field advantage throughout the postseason. They end the AFC schedule the same way they start it, beating Baltimore in a great game. Finally, in the dream match-up Paul Tagliabue wanted last year but missed by two wins, Peyton Manning beats Michael Vick. The game plays out much like Vick’s freshman year game with Virginia Tech losing to Florida State. He tears up the joint and wins an amazing personal duel with Dwight Freeney, but Atlanta’s improved defense proves no match for the Colts juggernaut. Falcons fans consider the overall Super Bowl experience a win when none of our players is arrested for solicitation the night before the game.

Karma.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

 
Football season begins in a couple of hours. Those of you who have been visiting the site for a while now know that Kim Hollis and I post our football predictions on our blog each week.  Last year, I edged out Kim by two games while she in turn beat out the entire panel at ESPN. Mike Golic, the best on-air talent evaluator at the network, was her closest competitor, but she was two games better than him. Kim and I both selected roughly 65% of the games correctly, which was down a bit from the prior year when each of us was in the 70% range. I say this simply to demonstrate that we have a similar claim to expertise in the realm of football as we do in the movie industry.  I hope that you will find our football commentary entertaining throughout the NFL campaign. I will be making some predictions in the next 48 hours since that’s the thing to do these days, but since there is a game tonight, I need to state the obvious first. Kim and I agree that Oakland is going to lose tonight, Randy Moss or not. New England might not be as good as last year, but the two time defending champions are going to defend their home turf against a team with a defense politely described as inadequate.

Karma.

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