Week 10 NFL Preview

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Dear Carson Palmer, I’m Sorry…Sort Of…

I’ve never gotten the impression that a girlfriend was cheating on me, but if I had such a hunch, there are a number of steps I would take to confirm the suspicion before making such a claim. I suppose I would decide to approach her with an accusation if I felt I had a laundry list of evidence against her after having observed and interpreted her actions and mannerisms and asking friends and family to do the same. If she denied any wrongdoing, I would apologize, but I would also stay on my toes and remain wary until she re-proves herself trustworthy to me over an extended period of time. 

It is with that same skepticism that I offer an apology to Carson Palmer. Since the pre-season, I feel like I’ve been crouched in a closet waiting to jump out with a pointed finger and an “I knew it!” exclamation after catching Carson in an act of indiscretion. I almost made my leap after the Tampa Bay game in which he threw a pick six and two costly late-in-the-4th-quarter interceptions to lose on a last second field goal, but I wanted to wait until I had indisputable evidence of worthlessness. After his pathetic performance against Miami, I brought some friends into the closet with me so I could have multiple eyewitnesses to confirm my suspicions against Pittsburgh. But it didn’t happen. And now I have no case. I could point out that 44% of his yards and 50% of his TDs came in the 4th quarter while Pittsburgh was blatantly playing the Cover 2 defense, which anyone who’s ever played a game of Madden could tell you leaves gaping holes 7-15 yards down the field along the sidelines, but I’ll just admit that he played better than I expected. But you listen here, Carson: you might be able to eke your way through this next week against Indianapolis before torching a Buffalo team that has 1 interception this whole season, but after that – after you play three straight games against the Jets, Saints, and Steelers – I’ll be waiting with an “I told you so” grin from ear to ear.

Aside from the fact that Palmer didn’t throw 4 interceptions in the first half, I had a really solid week’s worth of predictions in Week 9. I was 4 for 4 in my eliminator suggestions, crushed my Browns upset pick, correctly predicted the Chiefs would lose in Oakland followed by people jumping off their bandwagon, nailed all 4 of my fantasy league predictions, and even all of my predictions within the fantasy league picks were good. I don’t usually do anywhere near that well, so I had to brag there for a second.

Since I’m not allowed to rant about Carson Palmer for a little while, I need a new topic. Did anyone actually watch the Cowboys/Packers game? Better question: Did anyone other than me actually think the game would be competitive? The Cowboys are atrocious. I’m sick of seeing them. I’m sick of hearing about them. But we’ve only just begun to watch their demise, because they still have 3 prime time games on their schedule, and those of us without the NFL package know we’ll be stuck watching them on Fox in the afternoon at least 2 or 3 other times as well. I realize they were supposed to be the cream of the crop in the NFC this year, but they clearly aren’t, and I really wish we didn’t still have to be subjected to watching them get destroyed by New Orleans and Philadelphia on national television. The real issue is that they’re getting 6 prime time games this season while there are 6 teams (Tampa Bay, Seattle, St. Louis, Oakland, Cleveland, and Buffalo) who don’t even get 1, and all of them are playing significantly better football than Dallas.

Now that we’re more than half way through the regular season, we have a pretty good idea which teams are good or are at least worth watching, and consequently we should be able to decide which games we want to see in prime time. Why can’t the NFL nominate 3 games for the Sunday night game, 3 games for the Monday night game, and let the public decide what they want to watch? How does this not maximize ratings? (Note: No need to conduct a vote for the Thursday night game since each team needs more than a week’s notice to prepare for the short week a Thursday night game necessitates. Not to mention only 8% of the nation has the NFL network anyway. I would actually argue they should get rid of the Thursday night game altogether and play a late Monday night game featuring West Coast teams if you insist on an additional prime time game, but that’s an argument for another day.) With New England/Pittsburgh and Philadelphia/Washington on the prime time slate this week, I’ll start my complaining with Week 11. Denver @ San Diego on Monday night? Who is voting for that game if it’s going up against some combination of Green Bay/Minnesota, Washington/Tennessee, Oakland/Pittsburgh, Houston/New York Jets, and Indianapolis/New England? The week after that we’re stuck with San Francisco @ Arizona when we could have Minnesota/Washington, Tampa Bay/Baltimore, Tennessee/Houston, Green Bay/Atlanta, or Miami/Oakland. Maybe this voting system results in Peyton Manning or Brett Favre on Monday night 12+ times per season, but I would rather watch the greatest quarterbacks of our generation a dozen times than watch the Dallas Cowboys not even pretend to care half a dozen times.

Moving forward to Week 10, my “teams playing at home following a bye week” theory is back with a vengeance after Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Cleveland won at home after a Week 8 bye. Teams in those situations are now 9-2, with the 2 losses coming in the form of a horrible Cowboys team against a formidable Titans team, and a Jets team that can’t move the ball in cold weather playing against my pre-season Super Bowl pick. I think this is more than just coincidence. So, which teams fit the bill this week, you ask? Denver vs. Kansas City, San Francisco vs. St. Louis, Washington vs. Philadelphia, and Jacksonville vs. Houston. The Chiefs will absolutely lose that game (yet still finish the season 10-6 which will hopefully be enough to hold off the Chargers who will hopefully suffer their 6th loss of the season in Week 12 against Indianapolis), and we’re 2 wins away from the part of the season where I predicted that the 49ers suddenly become the most media-loved 4-6 team in NFL history. So, in my eyes 2 of those 4 games are all but locks, and I see no reason why a bi-polar Jacksonville squad can’t win at home against a bi-polar Houston squad; nor do I see any reason why a theoretically motivated Redskins team can’t beat an Eagles team in the middle of a Colts/Giants sandwich. And then next week, San Diego and New Orleans come off of byes to face Denver and Seattle at home, respectively. By season’s end, we may end up with teams playing at home following a bye recording a 15-2 record, and I hope I still remember that by Week 5 of next season. Unfortunately, none of the 4 teams from this week are underdogs by 4 or more points, so I can’t make any of them my Upset Pick of the Week.

If for some reason you’re only able to dedicate attention to 1 of the 14 games this weekend, might I suggest Minnesota @ Chicago? Trivia time: 3 teams in the NFL have yet to allow an opponent to score 24 or more points in a game this season. Can you name them? The New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Chicago Bears. It might be tempting to think the Vikings should easily handle the Bears, who can’t move the ball at all, but both of those teams have been playing in close low-scoring games every single week, so it should be a nail biter. The Bears have the most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL (so difficult that this game at home against the Vikings is the one I think they’re most likely to win, and I don’t even think they’ll win it), so if Chicago wins, it almost eliminates both of these teams’ playoff hopes. However, if the Vikings pull off the road victory, they move to 4-5 and have a chance in the following week to pull within a game of the Packers in the NFC North, and then finish the season with a fairly easy schedule. Considering I bet $25 on Minnesota +700 to win the NFC Championship, this game is by far the most intriguing of the week in my opinion. (Honorable mention for New York Jets @ Cleveland as the Browns have looked like more of a Super Bowl contender than the Jets in the past 3 weeks.)

Eliminator Suggestions:

My 4 weekly Eliminator recommendations are now 29-7 after this past week’s perfect record, however, it’s going to be pretty tough to make 4 picks this week. Of the 11 lines that have been announced thus far, 9 of them feature spreads of a field goal or less, which would seem to indicate a lot of really close games. It never actually plays out that way, but it does mean that it’s tough to make outright predictions. Of the 7 teams I have at the top of my power rankings, 2 are on byes, 4 play each other, and the other might lose in Cleveland. Nevertheless, I think I’ve still got a good quartet for you…

#4 San Francisco vs. St. Louis

I like the Rams. I really do. Steven Jackson and Sam Bradford haven’t been the best fantasy options by any means, but they’ve been perfectly serviceable guys that have kept the Rams relevant beyond Week 9 for the first time in 5 seasons, unless you count ‘They might finish 0-16’ chatter as relevant. But they’re winless on the road thus far this season, and I suspect that won’t change in San Francisco following the 49ers bye. And considering their remaining schedule, I also suspect they won’t win again this season unless they pull a fast one on my Chiefs in Week 15.

#3 New York Giants vs. Dallas

When your team is one of the worst in the league at stopping the run or rushing the passer and you promote your DL coach to Defensive Coordinator, you aren’t even polishing shit, you’re just shitting on shit. In other news, for the 6th consecutive week, the Giants face a team that can’t pass block or defend the pass. Good thing 5 of their last 7 games are against teams that are at least remotely competent in those categories or else they might have gone 14-2 and made a deep run into the playoffs based solely on the self-belief that they’re a great team.

#2 Tampa Bay vs. Carolina

The Bucs at least competed last week against the Falcons, and they’ve been playing well against bad teams this season. Do you even realize who the Panthers will be starting on offense this weekend? Matt Moore’s season is over and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are both banged up. Even with those 3 guys in the line-up, they were averaging 10.1 points per game. No one else is average less than 16. The Colts scored the fewest points in a 16 game season with a grand total of 143 in 1991, and I think the Panthers are a few shutouts away from making a run at that trophy.

#1 Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati

Speaking of the Colts, they have recorded 3 sacks in each of their last 3 games, and they’ve held the last 3 quarterbacks they’ve faced to an average of 225 yards, 1 TD, and 1 Int. Those figures for Carson Palmer, combined with the pedestrian numbers we’ve come to expect from Cedric Benson this season won’t be enough to keep the Bungles within 10 points of a Colts team that’s 44-7 at home since 2004 and hasn’t lost 2 straight regular season games in over 2 seasons (unless you count the end of last season when they weren’t playing their starters…which I don’t).

The Commish’s NFL Upset Pick of the Week:

New England +4.5 @ Pittsburgh

It’s the only game aside from my 4 eliminator picks that even meets the +4 requirement unless the Browns or Redskins slip from 3 to 4 by kickoff, both of which I believe will win their games. Belichick’s teams always bounce back well from losses, having lost consecutive games only once in the past 4 years, and the Steelers will be playing on short rest while New England never even showed up to play this past weekend. The strange thing about these teams is that neither of them have particularly impressive stats aside from a good turnover ratio and a very solid Steelers rush defense. My thought on this one is that the teams are so closely matched (#1 and #3 in my power rankings) that it should come down to the wire, and Roethlisberger has yet to show me that he’s back to his old self enough to finish out a game against a tough team. Hell, against a pathetic Bengals team, he was only responsible for 22 yards and an interception in the entire 2nd half, and they completely took the ball out of his hand after the interception when they needed another score to put the game away. Brady hasn’t been great this year, but I’d rather have him in the clutch right now.

Fantasy League Standings:

#1. Montgomery’s Rams (7-2) 967.4 points
#2. Miller’s Chiefs (6-3) 1027.3 points
#3. Duncan’s Packers (6-3) 1040.2 points
#4. Meyers’ Cowboys (6-3) 935.7 points
#5. Nelson’s Steelers (6-3) 935.6 points
#6. A’s Bengals (5-4) 1028.5 points
#7. Garland’s Giants (5-4) 919.2 points
#8. Harshbarger’s Chargers (5-4) 835.6 points
#9. Gideon’s Bears (4-5) 915.2 points
#10. Dincher’s Dolphins (3-6) 970.3 points
#11. O’Neill’s Buccaneers (3-6) 954.9 points
#12. Yelen’s Texans (3-6) 736.7 points
#13. Travelpiece’s 49ers (2-7) 882.9 points
#14. Damn’s Bills (2-7) 696.5 points

With 5 weeks left to play, there still isn’t anything clear in our standings, although we do finally have 3 teams to top the 1,000 point mark. I predicted that my team and Duncan’s team would win the respective conferences, so I’m not overwhelmingly surprised to see us near the top of the points category. A’s Bengals, on the other hand, have been an unexpectedly consistent point scorer. I think everyone had the Packers D pegged as a fantasy killer considering the Packers were expected to be a run and gun kind of team, consistently winning games by scores of 38-34, but somehow they’re the #1 defense, and Brandon Lloyd is randomly the #4 WR. I guess good things happen when you have Drew Brees on your fantasy team. The only other thing in the standings worth noting is that Dincher lost again, dropping his 6th consecutive game, and 5th straight since the Maurice Jones-Drew trade. Since he stole MJD from me in the 11th hour of trade talks with Damn, I’ve gone 5-0. If nothing else, that’s ironic. It’s not as if Dincher’s team hasn’t been scoring points (this past week’s 60 point effort notwithstanding), he’s just been unlucky with his opponents lately. I think there’s still time for him to turn it around and crack the top 6, but he better start turning soon.

Fantasy Match-ups of the Week

~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~

Harshbarger’s Chargers (5-4) over Yelen’s Texans (3-6)

Suggested Line-Ups:

SD: Freeman, Blount, Jacobs, Holmes, St. Johnson, Welker, Moeaki, Buccaneers D, C. Barth

Vs.

Hou: Roethlisberger, Bradshaw, Stewart?, Smith 2.0, M. Thomas, B. White, Celek, Eagles D, Feely

Without a #2 RB and with a couple of afterthought wide receiving options, Yelen serves as another sacrificial lamb in Harshbarger’s quest for the playoffs. Whether you view it as an opportunity to control your own destiny or as a bummer of a way to end a fantasy season, Harshbarger’s final 4 games are against 4 of the top 6 teams in our league, and he hasn’t done himself many favors in the point scoring department in order to win any playoff tiebreakers. Nevertheless, by Week 2, I certainly wasn’t expecting to see him sitting at 6-4, but by the time Freeman and Blount have had their way with Carolina, that’s exactly where he’ll be.

Final score: 108-81.

~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~

Garland’s Giants (5-4) over Meyers’ Cowboys (6-3)

Suggested Line-Ups:

NYG: E. Manning, CJ2K, St. Jackson, D. Bryant, J. Maclin, B. Marshall, Hernandez, Ravens D, Akers

Vs.

Dal: Garrard, Turner, F. Jackson, D. Jackson, D. Bess, T.O., Shiancoe, Lions D, Folk

This could have been the game of the week if I was more confident that the winner of the game of the week could serve as the upset of the week. But I’m not. So let’s find 5 reasons why I think Garland starts making his run towards the top of the NFC standings.

#1. Eli Manning strikes again.

He’s had 6 pretty good games and 2 really bad games, and I’m not sure how this one would fall into the bad category. In the last game against Dallas (which was literally 1 game ago for the Giants?), he threw for 306 yards and 4 touchdowns, and it’s not as if the Cowboys have gotten any better since then.

#2. No Aaron Rodgers.

Some crucial piece of Meyers’ team has been on a bye for what feels like each of the past 37 weeks, and now it’s Rodgers’ turn. Coming off a bye at home against the worst secondary in the NFL, David Garrard could potentially be a top 10 fantasy QB this week, but I’m not buying it. I think the Jags win, but I think it’s the MJD show.

#3. Brandon Marshall is due.

He’s 4th in the NFL in targets and only has 1 touchdown. Only one other player in the top 25 in targets is lacking multiple touchdowns, and I have a feeling Miami will be playing from behind. Translation: Marshall will get a dozen targets, 6-10 receptions, and will break one of them for a score.

#4. Chris Johnson is due.

If I believe in Brandon Marshall, then I sure as hell believe in the best running back in the NFL coming off of a bye week.

#5. Bad week for Turner.

It’s my theory that running backs don’t do very well on short weeks. I have no evidence to support this theory, but I do have evidence that Turner has had his share of poor performances already this season, and I feel as though he’s going to struggle against the Ravens.

X-Factor: Eagles wide receivers

If Maclin outplays Jackson or if they virtually break even, this should end favorably for Garland. My only fear is that Meyers could squeak out a win if D Jax outscores Maclin by 20.

Final: It should be another high scoring affair for both of these teams, but with Garland at full strength and Meyers without Rodgers and the Saints D combining for 60 points, I have to assume Garland pulls it off. Score: NYG 119-107.

~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~

Gideon’s Bears (4-5) @ Montgomery’s Rams (7-2)

Suggested Line-Ups:

Chi: Brady, McCoy, F. Jones, Nicks, Smith 1.0, Jac. Jones, Winslow, Chiefs D, Bironas

Vs.

StL: Orton, Gore, Rice, Megatron, Thomas, Ward, Keller, Giants D, Reed

If Montgomery wins, he remains at least 2 games on the good side of the playoff cut line with 4 weeks left to play and nearly assures himself a spot in the playoffs while Gideon would move into a situation in which winning all of his remaining games might not even be enough to get him to the playoffs. (Speaking of playoffs, I still need a good nickname for the 6 guys that get to compete in our postseason. Maybe someday my blog will get enough attention that I could get sponsors, because I like the sounds of the Yuengling 6-Pack.) However, if Gideon pulls off the upset, the NFC standings get all muddied up with 5 teams sitting somewhere between 7-3 and 5-5. At least it should be a good game to decide which of those scenarios is in play.

Breakdown:

QB: I think the Patriots and Broncos both win this week, and both teams are going up against good rush defenses, which means if they’re going to win, it’s going to have to be the quarterbacks. I do think Orton will have a slightly better day because Denver throws the ball without ceasing, so he’s bound to rack up more yardage than Brady. Slight edge: Montgomery.

(Sidebar: Did you know Brady is ranked 9th among fantasy quarterbacks and 6th in QB rating? Does that seem high to anyone else based on the lack of love he’s getting this year? Reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated. True, he hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in a game yet this season, but he has thrown for a TD in every game, and has 0 turnovers in 6 of his 8 games. When guys like Bill Simmons overreact to Patriot losses by saying that Colt McCoy (176 yards, 0 passing TDs) outplayed Tom Brady (224 yards, 2 passing TDs), I have to wonder why they don’t put the blame on the lack of a competent defense or running game. New England is the 2nd highest scoring team in the NFL, and yet everyone hates Brady. New England is the bizarro San Diego Chargers where the team is under .500 and people are seriously talking about Philip Rivers for MVP. I don’t understand it. Is it because of Brady’s hair? It has to be, because he’s still a great quarterback.)

RB: For Montgomery, Rice and Gore are both going up against respectable rushing defenses. With the added rest of a bye week and playing in a game I’m pretty sure they should win, I think Gore will have a really solid game. Because he’s facing the better foe on short rest and because McGahee has gotten double digit looks in his last four games, I’m going to assume Ray Rice has a fairly average day. 36 points is my rough estimate for the combo (23 and 13 if I must be specific.) For Gideon, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if McCoy matches or surpasses Gore’s production, but Felix Jones is a fantasy liability. Much like Roy Williams, he showed signs of life for 2 weeks, and has been completely unserviceable since then. But with the last of the bye weeks upon us, Gideon has no other choice but to play Felix in lieu of Brandon Jackson. This could be his death knell. Edge: Montgomery.

WR: With Stafford likely out for the remainder of the season, it should be interesting to see if Megatron is able to still produce at all with Drew Stanton at the helm. Stanton has thrown all of 1 TD in the past 2 years…but it was an 87 yard pass to Calvin Johnson in Week 6. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I think it was an anomaly, and that the entire Lions passing game is going to struggle mightily against a statistically solid Bills secondary.

With Austin Collie out with a concussion and Roy Williams effectively out due to worthlessness, Montgomery is forced to start Demaryius Thomas, who hasn’t done anything since his Week 2 surprise. This basically leaves him to put all his chickens in Hines Ward’s basket, which is a basket that has only contained 6 receptions for 25 yards and a TD in the past 2 weeks. Yikes. This is where Gideon should definitely make up for having to play Felix Jones, because Hakeem Nicks is going to destroy the Cowboys again, and I’m pretty sure the only way Carolina will move the ball on Sunday is by having their third string QB just chuck the ball downfield to Steve Smith, which is bound to work at least once. Anything Jacoby Jones does is just gravy. Big edge: Gideon.

TE: Despite making 3 more receptions than Dustin Keller to date, Kellen Winslow has been pretty worthless this season. I guess that’s what happens when you’re the only tight end in the league with more than 31 targets without a touchdown. He DID have his 2nd best game of the season against the Panthers earlier this season, and the Panthers DO give up a lot of points to opposing tight ends, but Keller is facing an even more tight end friendly defense, so until Winslow actually catches a ball in the end zone, I really can’t credit him too many points. Edge: Montgomery.

D/K: I don’t like the defense or kickers on either of these teams. Play the waiver wire. End of story.

Final: I’m rooting for Gideon and I don’t care who knows it, but it should be a really close game, and Montgomery finds ways to win these tight affairs while Gideon finds way to lose them. Score: StL 112-109.

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2010 Week 9 Preview

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Week 9 Analysis that mercifully has nothing to do with Randy Moss!

Everyone who’s anyone in the football world is talking about one of three topics right now: Shanahan’s shenanigans, Dallas’s completely unexpected 1-6 record, or Randy Moss’s pink slip from Minnesota. No one’s even talking about Brett Favre’s penis/chin/ankle anymore, that’s how badly people have tunnel vision for those other three topics. The thing is: no one cares about any of those topics anymore. Already this season we’ve heard about Shanahan in a power struggle with Haynesworth, we’ve heard about Randy Moss surprisingly being shown the door by a team in the middle of a season, and we’ve heard about how the Cowboys are horribly underperforming and that Wade Phillips should be fired. All this news is nothing new, so I won’t bore you with those topics any further than you’ve already been bored. If you really want to hear about any of that, just go turn on ESPN. You might have to wait up to 45 seconds for them to breeze through the segment where they almost pretend to care about the World Series, but you’ll definitely hear about one of those three topics within two minutes. In lieu of and because of those non-issues, I’ll be hitting on some of the topics that are flying under the radar in this week’s intro.

Kansas City and Oakland play in a meaningful game for both teams for the first time since the 5-3 Chiefs lost to the 7-1 Raiders on November 5, 2000, yet 90% of America will either be stuck with Indianapolis/Philadelphia or no game at all on CBS during that 4:00 time slot.
I can’t blame CBS for airing Manning vs. Vick, because it will absolutely get higher ratings than Cassel vs. Campbell, but this is clearly a once in a decade opportunity to see my favorite team play their arch rivals in a season in which both teams might finish .500 or better. I find it difficult to swallow that unless it comes down to the wire or a controversy, this game will get no national publicity before, during, or after it’s played aside from the obligatory “Maybe the (insert losing team) weren’t quite as good as we thought they were which leaves the (insert winning team) as the slight favorite to win a horrible AFC West” comment. I can already hear people trying to creep towards the back of the Kansas City bandwagon so they can abandon ship when my boys inevitably drop this game in Oakland.

There are an awful lot of overrated teams in the NFL right now.
Having just mentioned them, I feel Oakland has been catching the right teams at the right time, but their 4-4 record is nowhere near as hideously inflated as a couple of other teams. Look, I understand that 6 teams from each conference are required to compete in the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean we have to pretend their records haven’t been a result of dumb luck, or that we have to pretend they have what it takes to win a Super Bowl. The biggest offenders are the New York Giants. Let’s flash back to the end of Week 3. People were calling for Tom Coughlin’s head after they started out the season with an unconvincing win over the Panthers and 2 beat downs courtesy of the Colts and Titans. They didn’t suddenly become the best team in the NFC over the course of the following 4 weeks, but rather got lucky enough to face 3 teams with the worst secondaries and pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL. As such, their wins over the Bears and the Texans were predictable, and I’m not so sure they beat Dallas if they don’t break Tony Romo’s clavicle, which leaves Detroit as the most impressive win on their resume. No disrespect to the Lions, because they’ve been in every game this season, and in an alternate universe where calls go their way, they’re sitting at 5-2 right now, but when a 1 possession win over a team led by Drew Stanton is the best thing on your resume, I refuse to believe you’re the best team in the NFC. This is precisely why I have them behind Atlanta, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Philadelphia in my power rankings, and I would even entertain arguments that they should be behind the Rams as well. 5-2 is nothing to sneeze at, and despite the fact that Seattle has a reputation for playing well at home, I fully expect the Giants to improve to 6-2 against Seattle’s 29th ranked pass defense and the offensive line that gives up more sacks than any team aside from Chicago, but I still think they’re a fraud. I also give an honorable mention for most overrated team to Tampa Bay, which has a 5-2 record despite a point differential of -27 and a resume which would have “most impressive win” as a 1 point last second win at home against the Rams. They get smacked by good teams, and they will get smacked @ Atlanta this weekend.

Carson Palmer sucks
One more quick point before I jump into the usual parts of my post, because it’s not a full weekend of NFL action if I haven’t spewed any hatred upon Carson Palmer. Did you see his stat line this week? Yes, he somehow got more fantasy points than Tom Brady, which I nauseatingly predicted, but look at his actual stats: 17 of 38 for 156 yards, 2 TD, and an Interception against a decent-to-average Dolphins secondary. It’s not THAT horrible, but it’s not good either. But, if you watch this clip you’ll see that he should have actually had 1 less completion, 1 less touchdown, 37 less yards, and 1 more interception:

Do the math and those are JaMarcus Russell numbers at best. The guy is terrible, but rumor has it he’s been playing with a horseshoe up his ass all season. People don’t get lucky against the Pittsburgh Steelers. As much as I hate them, I have to admit that they’re a solid team, and that when they lose games, they get out-performed, not out-lucked. I’ve been saying it all season, and now it’s time for my prediction to come true:Carson Palmer will set the record for most interceptions thrown in one half on Monday night against the Steelers. I can’t find the actual number anywhere. I know the record in an entire game is 8, but no coach in today’s league would leave a quarterback in there long enough to throw 6. However, I’ve never seen a veteran quarterback benched in the first half of a game for poor performance, and I’m saying he throws 4 picks in the first half. Write it down.

Speaking of picks, that conveniently segues into my Eliminator picks. Despite the season not even being 50% complete, our pool has been drained all the way down to one team. Mr. Dincher will be the proud recipient of $100 and possibly $115 if he ends up with the longest streak of the entire season (as opposed to the longest streak to start the season). That $15 “second place” prize along with my desire to finally see someone survive the entire season is more than enough reason for me to continue making weekly suggestions. This past weekend, I had my worst record of the season thus far by going 2-2. I honestly don’t know why I recommended Dallas, because I ended up actually gambling against them, so obviously I didn’t think they were that great of an option. Still, my top 4 picks on the season are 25-7 and have to at least be worth something considering that on average only 0.875 of my 4 picks are losers. I think this is going to be a pretty easy week, but there’s always one game that doesn’t go according to plan. Try to avoid it.

#4. Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati

Unless I’m unable to fight the urge to gamble for the sake of gambling, I’m only betting on one game this week and you’re looking at it. I’ve got $30 on Pittsburgh -4. If that isn’t enough to convince you, my power rankings have Pittsburgh at #4 and Cincinnati at #30, which is the biggest spread between two teams in a single game since the Ravens needed overtime to beat the Bills. Wait…that isn’t reassuring. Damn. There goes $30. At least I can count on Carson Palmer to play worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick did. I was worried there for a second. Plus, it’s a good thing you aren’t allowed to pick this one anyway since it’s a road team in a divisional game and I would have to kill you for breaking 2 of the 3 eliminator commandments on this game.

#3. New Orleans @ Carolina

What did I just say about road teams in divisional games? Whoops. Hey, did you know the Saints have scored twice as many points as the Panthers so far this season, that the Panthers have arguably the worst rushing attack in the NFL, and that the Saints have arguably the best pass defense in the NFL? That has to be enough for the Saints to come out and stomp the Panthers for giving them a scare earlier this year, right?

#2. Minnesota vs. Arizona

Remember what I said last week about the Bears and Cardinals? No? I’ll remind you:

Chicago and Arizona might be the worst teams in the NFC, even though they are 4-3 and 3-3, respectively. At the very least, they have the most anemic offensive attacks aside from Carolina, and if they’re playing against a team that can even remotely stop the run, you can count on them to lose, and should pick up their opponent’s defense in your fantasy league. Too bad Chicago’s on a bye and Arizona is playing against the 2nd worst rush defense in the NFL, so this won’t be applicable information until Week 9.

FYI, it’s Week 9, the Vikings have allowed 47 less rushing yards per game than the Bucs, and the Bean Man was only able to run for 50 yards against them last week. If I’m unable to fight the gambling bug, I might end up taking the under in this game, because I think Minnesota wins by a score of 24-7.

#1. Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay

The Bucs are an unsuccessful 2 point conversion against the Rams away from me being 7-0 picking their games against the spread. This week it’s Atlanta -8, and while I won’t actually bet on it because I probably need to take a Sunday off for the sake of my blood pressure, I don’t see how Atlanta doesn’t win this game by at least 2 scores. They’re better in virtually every aspect of the game except for a slightly worse pass defense than Tampa, which won’t much matter when Michael Turner is running for 150 yards and 2 scores and LeGarrette Blount is throwing right hooks on the sidelines.

The Commish’s NFL Upset Pick of the Week:

Cleveland +4 vs. New England

This line opened at 5.5 and has steadily been crawling in a manner that suggests the Patriots might crap the bed in this game. By putting up a goose egg for 4 quarters, the Jets ruined my theory about teams having their best game of the season after their bye week, but a bye week doesn’t change the fact that Sanchez doesn’t throw the ball as well in cold or windy conditions. Detroit looked good at home after their bye, and I expect similar results from Cleveland. Peyton Hillis has had an extra week to rest a nagging thigh injury, and Colt McCoy has had an extra week of working with the first team offense and should have a decent game now that he won’t be facing one of the top five passing defenses in the NFL, as he had in his first two games. However, all bets are off if Mangini is a giant sack of douche and ends up starting Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme. At that point, I would have to pick Miami +5 @ Baltimore simply based on the weird fact that they’re 4-0 on the road while playing winless football at home. I really don’t like that pick though, so hopefully McCoy gets the nod against the Patriots, who are playing in a classic sandwich game after facing Randy Moss and before going up against the Steelers.

League Standings:

#1. Montgomery’s Rams (7-1) 891.1 points
#2. A’s Bengals (5-3) 933.6 points
#3. Duncan’s Packers (5-3) 951.1 points
#4. Miller’s Chiefs (5-3) 904 points
#5. Nelson’s Steelers (5-3) 833.8 points
#6. Garland’s Giants (5-3) 808.2 points
#7. Meyers’ Cowboys (5-3) 760.4 points
#8. Gideon’s Bears (4-4) 811.7 points
#9. Harshbarger’s Chargers (4-4) 725 points
#10. Dincher’s Dolphins (3-5) 910.4 points
#11. O’Neill’s Buccaneers (2-6) 814.2 points
#12. Travelpiece’s 49ers (2-6) 811.5 points
#13. Yelen’s Texans (2-6) 666.4 points
#14. Damn’s Bills (2-6) 618.5 points

Not a whole lot of change since last week aside from the fact that Montgomery continues to win and Dincher continues to lose. I feel like I should change Dincher’s team to be the San Diego Chargers, because much like the Chargers in the NFL, they might be 3-5 right now, but I wouldn’t ever want to play against them in a must-win situation.

Before I dive into the games of the week, I have to quickly recap my league picks from last week. I had Montgomery winning 114-81 and he actually won 115.8-80.9. I had Duncan winning 106-92 and he actually won 107.2-89.1. I also had Nelson winning by a score of 112-101 and he ended up winning much more convincingly than that, but 3-0 with 2 of the games being almost exactly right is pretty awesome.

*******Games of the Week*******

~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~

Harshbarger’s Chargers (4-4) over Damn’s Bills (2-6)

Suggested Line-ups:

SD: Freeman, Jacobs, Blount, S. Johnson, Jennings, Welker, Moeaki, Raiders D, Janikowski

Vs.

Buf: Sanchez, Lynch, R. Brown, Evans, Walter, A. Johnson, Olsen, Seahawks D, Kasay

Andre Johnson is hurting and San Diego has a solid defense anyway. Each of the past 2 weeks, there’s been one wide receiver on Damn’s roster who unexpectedly scored multiple touchdowns…and in each of the past 2 weeks, that guy was on his bench. Andre and Chris Cooley are the only semblance of consistent production on this team, and in this particular week, one of those guys is on a bye, and the other one may be playing at less than 90% health. In match-ups like that, I have to support the guy who’s been playing Josh Freeman and Steve Johnson for weeks without fear.

Final: SD 107-72.

~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~

Duncan’s Packers (5-3) over Montgomery’s Rams (7-1)

Suggested Line-ups:

GB: Cassel, Benson, Mendenhall, Boldin, Austin, M. Williams, Gates, Vikings D, Gostkowski

Vs.

StL: Campbell, Rice, Ivory, Megatron, Ward, R. Williams, Keller, Bears D, Crosby

I feel as if I’ve written about Duncan’s team in just about every week. I suppose I’ve grown attached to this team since I predicted him to win the league. That being the case, I like his chances this weekend of moving within one game of the NFC lead, and here are 5 reasons why:

#1. The absence of Fryle Gorton

If you can figure out a better way to Brangelina their names, power to you, but Montgomery’s top two performers, Frank Gore and Kyle Orton, are both on a bye this week. That duo has been responsible for 36.25% of his team’s fantasy production thus far this season, and as such, they will be dearly missed.

#2. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Cincinnati

This is an analysis John Madden or Jon Gruden could make, but Mendenhall is a much better fantasy option when he scores a touchdown. When rushing for a TD, Mendenhall has scored at least 15.5 fantasy points. When failing to rush for a TD, Mendenhall has failed to score more than 7.7 fantasy points. Fortunately for his owners, he has carried the ball to pay dirt in 5 of Pittsburgh’s 7 games. Fortunately for his owners this week, the Bengals have allowed at least one rushing touchdown in each of their past 5 games. Not to mention, it’s about time the Steelers get back to Steelers football and start pounding the ball with their 225 pounder. Methinks he scores at least one TD, probably two.

#3. Roy E. Williams is In E. Ffective

A lot of people started committing to him again after his 2 TD performance against the Texans, and he had a couple more solid games after that, but the honeymoon is over, the clavicle is broken, and the replacement isn’t looking his way. Roy Williams has 6 targets in the last 8 quarters of football. That’s downright pathetic. In last week’s game against the Jaguars, a game in which the Cowboys were behind from the beginning and were throwing the ball all day, Roy Williams only had 3 targets, good for 8th on Kitna’s hit list behind Austin (12), Witten (12), Bryant (9), Felix Jones (4), Tashard Choice (4), Sam Hurd (4), and the Jaguars defense (4). The latter 4 of those 7 just make it comical to see how much Kitna isn’t interested in throwing to Roy, but the first 3 are indicative of the fact that he feels he has much more reliable targets.

#4. Vikings D vs. Arizona

The Vikings have forced the fewest number of turnovers in the NFC, but the Cardinals have given it away more than anyone in the NFC. The Vikings have the fewest sacks in the NFL, but the Cardinals give out sacks better than Santa Claus. Something has to bend, and I presume it will be Derek Anderson’s neck under the weight of Jared Allen’s body.

#5. Dustin Keller vs. Detroit

If I were Matthew Berry, he would be on my hate list this week. 95% of the time, I love me the Keller, but this isn’t a good match-up for him. You’re probably thinking: “Really? When was the last time that anyone facing Detroit wasn’t a phenomenal match-up? The commish has gone crazy.” No I haven’t, and don’t call me Shirley. Wait, what? The Lions have yet to allow a opposing tight end to haul in 6 catches or 60 yards, and that includes such tight ends as Greg Olsen, Brent Celek, Visanthe Shiancoe, Jermichael Finley, Kevin Boss, and Chris Cooley. And in fact, only 2 of those 6 caught a TD in their otherwise disappointing afternoons.

X-Factor: Will Antonio Gates play?

A projection of 26.8 points? I realize he’s been the #1 tight end by an extremely considerable margin and that his opponent this week is one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL, but the dude is having serious pain in both of his feet/ankles and might not even play this week. Considering he’s only scored more than 21 points in a week once this season, I think the projections should really be scaled back about a dozen points until we actually know for sure he’s going to play. A potential 30 point swing depending on whether or not a guy is going to start is the definition of an X-Factor, and Duncan doesn’t even have a back-up option on his roster in the event that he’s a last minute scratch. Whether or not he plays will determine not only if San Diego wins (I think they don’t) but also if Duncan can win this match-up (I think he does).

Final score: GB 102-90. Add 15 to Duncan’s score if Gates plays at least ¾ of his game.

~~~~~~~Game of the Week (in which someone is going to get screwed)~~~~~~~

Meyers’ Cowboys (5-3) vs. Gideon’s Bears (4-4)

The projected estimates for these teams are way too conservative. Each owner has 5 amazing matchups. First to 130 wins; and whoever loses will probably be pissed that they scored the 4th most points this week and managed to lose. Without having done much more than a quick surface analysis on this one, I think Gideon comes out on top because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and Fred and DeSean Jackson might be weak links this week for Meyers.

~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~

Miller’s Chiefs (5-3) vs. Garland’s Giants (5-3)

Suggested Line-ups:

KC: Flacco, Forte, Foster, Garcon, Bowe, Fitzgerald, T. Gonzalez, Jets D, Bryant

Vs.

NYG: E. Manning, D. Sproles, R. Williams, Maclin, D. Bryant, Marshall, Hernandez, Ravens D, Dawson

I would like to start off by pointing out that I made these schedules before the 2009 season and haven’t altered them since. That being said, I can’t even pretend to deny the fact that I’m extremely lucky to be facing Garland in Week 9. He’s got 6 guys on a bye, and he’s still going to give me a run for my money. Could you imagine if we were both 6-3 and faced each other next week with both of our rosters at full strength, save for a pair of back-up running backs for the Chargers? It would have to be one of the most intriguing regular season match-ups our league has ever witnessed. As it stands, we’ve still got 2 of the 3 teams I predicted to be at the top of the standings in the pre-season going head to head in an inter-conference game at a point in the season where the winning team takes a giant step towards a playoff spot.

That was an amazing run-on sentence. I think I’m just going to do my entire breakdown in run-on sentences.

Breakdown:

QB: Against a pathetic Seahawks secondary, Eli should have a slightly better day than Flacco will have against a frisky Dolphins team that never fails to impress on the road. Edge: Garland.

RB: Two of the top ten fantasy running backs in the league, one of which is facing the worst rush defense in the NFL, should easily beat two guys ranked in the 30s which are only starting because CJ2K and Steven Jackson are on byes. Big edge: Miller.

WR: Though all six receivers involved are facing difficult secondaries, Fitzgerald, Bowe, and Garcon all appear to be hitting their peaks at the same time and should outscore the trio of an underperforming Brandon Marshall, an unpredictable Dez Bryant, and a decent Jeremy Maclin who becomes a lot better if DeSean Jackson is back on the field. Edge: Miller.

TE: It would appear that Aaron Hernandez has been one of the biggest benefactors from the absence of Randy Moss in New England, but he has yet to score a touchdown, so I’m going to have to give the advantage to the aging Tony Gonzalez who has 3 TDs thus far, despite not having done much in terms of yardage. Slight edge: Miller.

Def: If you didn’t previously know that the Lions are the 6th highest scoring team in the NFL, you do now, and I am concerned enough about the fact that Revis Island has yet to make an appearance this season that I think the Jets defense will play even more poorly than a Ravens defense which hasn’t even remotely been the defense it once was. Slight edge: Garland.

End result: Considering half of his regular starting line-up is on a bye, it terrifies me that this match-up will end up being as close as it will, because it indicates how impressive Garland’s team will be at full strength throughout the rest of the season, meaning that even though he probably loses this weekend, I fear Garland’s Giants are now the team to beat in our league, but I assume that it would only be fair if he won the league after the way he got nothing to show for an amazing year last season. That was definitely the best run-on sentence. 94 words. Guess I’ll give Garland 94 points in this game. Final score: KC 117-94.