This is one of the crazier NFL seasons in the last decade. No team is unbeatable as the Saints proved by beating previously undefeated Atlanta a week ago. A few of our staff members picked that game correctly. Here are last week’s results.
Matt Gajtka – 7-5-1 (85-49-1)
Zac Weiss – 9-3-1 (85-49-1)
Matt Shetler – 8-4-1 (84-50-1)
Jason Harding – 9-3-1 (77-57-1)
As you can tell we added a tie to the count last week. The entire staff picked San Francisco to win, but the game ended in a tie.
Here are this week’s NFL staff picks.
Arizona at Atlanta
The Arizona Cardinals started out the season 4-0 before running into a 5 game losing streak they will look to snap this week. The Falcons are coming off their first loss of the season to division foe New Orleans. The Falcons will need to get back on track as the Saints appear they will push the Falcons to the limit this season. Matt Ryan continues to put up solid numbers this season, throwing for 411 yards 3 TDs and 1 INT last week in the loss. The pressure is no doubt on Arizona’s run defense. If they can stop the run like New Orleans it will give them a chance.
Atlanta: Harding, Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
Cleveland at Dallas
Don’t bet against the Cowboys as Tony Romo is 20-3 all time in the month of November. The Browns are also looking to snap an 11 game road losing streak. The Cowboys are coming off a big win in Philly, but need to keep pressing on with their schedule favoring them. 5 of their last 7 games will be played in Dallas, but questions still remain around their consistency. The Browns may be able to surprise a few people this week and play competitive. Much of their success will of course rely on the shoulders of Trent Richardson. Joe Haden will need a big week as the Browns defense allows an average of 380 passing yards per game.
Cowboys: Harding, Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
Green Bay at Detroit
No question this game will have big playoff implications as well as NFC North championship hopes. The Packers are one game behind the Bears in the division, but defeated Chicago in week 2. A win on the road is a must for the Packers if they will look to control their own destiny. The Lions on the other hand have their backs up against the wall. No doubt this is a make or break game for the Lions if they plan on playing in January. Aaron Rodgers continues to put up MVP-like numbers, but the Packers need to find a way get the run game going.
Packers: Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
Cincinnati at Kansas City
Both teams are coming off big weeks. The Bengals defeated the New York Giants in a season swing game, but the Chiefs are coming off a tough Monday night defeat to the Steelers. The Chiefs surprised many people and forced overtime where they lost after Matt Cassel threw his 12th interception of the season. No doubt Kansas City will play tough this week. Two games against the AFC North, two losses by a combined 6 points for the Chiefs. Third times a charm as many say. The Bengals will need to shut down Jamal Charles and force the ball into Cassel’s hands.
Bengals: Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
Philadelphia at Washington
The Philadelphia Eagles may be in all kinds of trouble this week. They have lost 5 in a row to put their record at 3-6 now they travel to Washington to play without Michael Vick. Nick Foles will get the start for the Eagles and Foles almost made a push last week to keep his team in the game against Dallas. The Bigger problem for the Eagles might be their defense. They lack against the run where the Redskins offense ranks 2nd in the league. Robert Griffin III will need to utilize the play-action game and stretch the field. Washington is only 1-3 at home this season.
Redskins: Harding, Shetler, Weiss
Tampa Bay at Carolina
Coach Greg Schiano has his team at 5-4 and looking to make a playoff run this season. They will play the Panthers for the second time this season, Week 1’s match-up resulted in a 16-10 win for the Bucs. Josh Freeman has solidified his play since then and will look to steal another road win in Carolina. Doug Martin continues to make the replacement offensive lineman look solid in Tampa. He averages 5.0 yards per carry, opening up Freeman’s play-action game. Carolina is in a world of hurt lately. This week they fired their special teams coach and may be looking at the offensive line coach next. The Panthers gave up seven sacks last week in the 36-14 loss at home to Denver.
Bucs: Harding, Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
Jacksonville at Houston
The Houston Texans are coming off a big, sloppy win at Chicago, but a win nonetheless. The Texans defense had four turnovers in the less than optimal weather conditions. The offense wasn’t able to get much going, but the Bears defense is no slouch. Matt Schaub will look to have a big week against the Jags defense. Andrew Luck torched Jacksonville’s defense last Thursday and no question Matt Schaub will be just as efficient if not quicker with his decisions. Schaub may also get tight-end Owen Daniels back this week.
Texans: Harding, Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
New York Jets at St. Louis
People have questioned Mark Sanchez in New York all season. This week a few Jets players said that Tim Tebow is “terrible” and that Mark Sanchez gives their team the best chance to win. Sanchez finished 9 or 22 for 124 yards and 1 INT last week in the loss to Seattle. The Rams played the 49ers last week in a game that ended in a 24-24 tie. Sam Bradford put together another solid game finishing 26 of 39 275 yards and 2 TDs. Danny Amendola’s return was big for the Rams passing game as he caught 11 passes for 102 yards. Steven Jackson will need a big week as the Jets run D isn’t as strong.
Rams: Harding, Shetler, Weiss
New Orleans at Oakland
The Saints have been playing playoff football since week 5. They have won 4 out of their last 5 games. New Orleans knows if they want to make a playoff push that 9 wins will likely get them a wildcard, but a tough schedule ahead of them may cause some trouble. Drew Brees and Carson Palmer have very similar numbers, but Brees has 10 more TDs. No question Brees has the better weapons around him and that’s why New Orleans has found a winning burst. Raiders will need Darren McFadden back in the line-up to help sure up their running game.
Saints: Harding, Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
San Diego at Denver
The last time these two teams met Peyton Manning led his team to a historic victory after trailing 24-0 at halftime. The Broncos can take control of the AFC West with a win this week at home. Manning is putting up MVP like numbers as he leads the league in QB rating after missing the entire last season. You have to wonder when the interceptions will stop for Philip Rivers as he has a 15 TD to 12 INT ratio. The turnovers have killed the Chargers and put them in a 4-5 record and in jeopardy of missing the playoffs again.
Broncos: Harding, Shetler, Weiss
Indianapolis at New England
If you would have told me that the Patriots and Colts would have the same 6-3 record after 10 weeks anyone would have called you crazy. However, the Colts have found some new spirit maybe some coming from Head Coach Chuck Pagano after he was diagnosed with leukemia. The Pats are heavy favorites in this game, but their defense is a reason of concern. The Buffalo Bills were able to get solid movement last week against New England and the Colts offense is better than Buffalo’s. Tom Brady will need to perform to what he is capable of to give his defense a rest and control the clock.
Patriots: Harding, Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
No Roethlisberger, no Polamalu, no Lewis, no Webb, banged up Reed, banged up Clark. I promise you this will not be the same Ravens vs Steelers game that you are accustomed to. The Ravens defense is struggling this season, but with back-up Byron Leftwich starting for Pittsburgh it could make things interesting. Joe Flacco has played well, but very inconsistently. Some weeks he makes you think he could be a top 10 QB and others make you think he is in the mid-20s. Look for the Ravens to involve Ray Rice back into the game plan after Pittsburgh gave up some big yardage to Jamal Charles last week.
Steelers: Harding, Weiss, Gajtka
Chicago at San Francisco
The Battle of the Back-Ups. Alex Smith and Jay Cutler are questionable for this week as both suffered from concussions last week. Colin Kaepernick will be the back-up for San Francisco and Jason Campbell for Chicago. Kaepernick brings more to the table. He was a highly effective quarterback who is capable of using his legs to move the pocket. Campbell on the other hand brings experience to the table for the Bears. Both defenses will look to change the game in a big way as the Bears have done all season in takeaways.
49ers: Harding, Shetler, Weiss
BYE: Tennessee, Minnesota, New York Giants, Seattle