NFL Week 8 Predictions

Ray Lewis

Don’t you just love football?? Here we are after a night of thrilling finishes to college football Saturday, heading into NFL’s week 8 with some pivotal match-ups. This week has most of the teams playing against unfamiliar cross conference opponents which should make for an interesting week. We expect some surprises but one thing we want to point out is after an 0-3 start, the Kansas City Chiefs play Monday Night against the San Diego Chargers with first place on the line. In our never ending comparisons we explained they could match the plight of the ’89 Steelers who lost their first two games by a combined 93-10, yet came back to make the playoffs. Well after being outscored 89-10 in their first two games, the Chiefs can be in first place before we hit November. Now that is a turnaround!! Lets get after the games…

Arizona Cardinals @ Baltimore Ravens: After that disaster Monday Night, Joe Flacco needs to make amends with the fans of Baltimore and his teammates. He has to play better and the Cardinals 26th ranked defense could be the tonic he needs. Meanwhile Anquan Boldin will want to win this one badly also against his former team. Ravens on the strength of their defense which overtook Cincinnati as the #1 unit in football.

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers: The first foray into playing quarterback on the road in the NFL for Christian Ponder. Should be one where Carolina’s defense should rattle the rookie. Yet the Panther’s 29th against the run defense might get scorched by Adrian Peterson. Peterson comes in with 729 yards and 8 TDs and may need a herculian effort to pull this off. We have to go with the Panthers and Cam Newton at home…..barely

Jacksonville Jaguars @Houston Texans: The Texans are coming very close to giving away a season that shaped up to be a special one for them. Of course they couldn’t help the untimely injuries of Mario Williams and Andre Johnson but this team needs to get going. After last week’s 41-7 devestation of Tennessee, this is the game where they need to hammer home the point that they’re the AFC South’s best. All they have to do is stop Maurice Jones-Drew, who has run for 677 yards yet has those two Monday night fumbles dancing in his head. Texans will be going for the football. Rookie QB Blaine Gabbert in his first road start in the NFL shouldn’t be a factor. Texans going away.

Enigmatic Eli

Miami Dolphins @ New York Giants: Where do the Dolphins go after a mind numbing loss to the Broncos?? A mildly cold Gotham. Not good, especially with the psyche of having to relive Tebow’s comeback time after time on NFL Network and ESPN. If only they had quality running backs to exploit the Giants 27th against the run defense they would have a chance. Giants with Eli Manning passing on a suspect Dolphin defense will be enough.

New Orleans Saints @ St Louis Rams: This is going to be a glorified scrimmage for the Saints offense. After getting torched by DeMarco Murray for 253 yards on the ground, the Saints will be licking their chops to take the lead and hand it off to Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. Right now the NFC’s #1 ranked offense is hot with Drew Brees ahead of his 5,000 yard season pace. Yikes!! Saints

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans: After a 62-7 collapse on the road on Monday Night and now they travel to Tennessee?? Titans and Matt Hasselbeck should rebound. Paging Chris Johnson!! Paging Chris Johnson!! If you can’t get running here you may have to renegotiate your contract and give some money back.

Fred Jackson powers Buffalo's offense

Washington Redskins @ Buffalo Bills: The “Land of the Misfit Toys” welcomes in a Redskin team that is coming back to Earth after a 2-0 start. They have gone 1-3 since then and lost RB Tim Hightower for the rest of the season and Rex Grossman has started to throw interceptions with 9. Wrong place, wrong time. The Bills enter the week with the most interceptions with 12 and 16 turnovers forced overall. It will be loud in Orchard Park and Grossman should throw some picks today. On the other hand, Fred Jackson is 6th in the NFL in rushing with 601 yards and 6TDs and should make it to 3rd today if he rushes for over 71 yards. The ink is just drying on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s new $59 million extension and he should be on his game after a bye. Buffalo wins over a sliding Redskin team.

Detroit Lions @ Denver Broncos: Want to hear something funny?? A few years removed from setting the record for the most consecutive losses in NFL history, the Lions find comfort away from home now. They are 3-0 at home and take on a Bronco team giddy over a come from behind win. There is a serious chance at an emotional letdown by the Broncos. Tebow will face a potent pass rush this week and if they minimize turnovers they have a chance at home. On defense they won’t have a good time covering Calvin “Megatron” Johnson who has 10 TDs already. Everyone is waiting for Detroit to wake up and be a bad team again…it’s not happening. Detroit on the throwing of a maturing Matthew Stafford (16TDs / 4 ints) will best the Broncos.

New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers: Here is where the rubber meets the road gang. The #1 offense of the Patriots vs the #3 defense of the Steelers.  So defensive strength belongs to the Steelers right?? Until you inspect and see it’s the Steelers who are 12th at stopping the run to the Patriots ranked 8th. Tom Brady is 4-1 lifetime vs. the Steelers which includes two AFC Championship Games in 2001 and 2004. Somehow the Steelers have to get Mendenhall going early in this one. If the Steelers have to cover Brady’s receivers on a slippery snowy field, Wes Welker is going to have a field day. Roethlisberger may need to make some big plays in this game. Patriots win this one being a more complete team.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Seattle Seahawks:  Cedric Benson is suspended and the Bengals have only RB Bernard Scott to keep Seattle’s defense and crowd noise off of rookie QB Andy Dalton. However the game will turn on the Bengals #2 ranked defense which has forced 9 turnovers and has allowed only 1 team over 100 yards rushing the ball. Bengals

Cleveland Browns @ San Francisco 49ers: One of the surprise teams in the league is out by the bay this week. Yes the 49ers are 5-1 and were the toast of the town for two weeks. However the team I’m talking about is the 3-3 Cleveland Browns who are going into this game with the league’s 4th best defense in all of pro football. Peyton Hillis is sore and a game time decision. Everyone is expressing how poorly Colt McCoy is playing and he does need some improvement. However he has 8 TD throws along with SanFrancisco’s Alex Smith has the same amount of TD passes. This is an upset special… Browns in a tough one.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles: The Cowboys discovered a running game in DeMarco Murray last week with a team record 253 yards rushing against the Rams. Yet it was just that…against the Rams. So was it a coming out party or an aberration? For the first time in many weeks Tony Romo wasn’t asked to pass deep into the 4th quarter where he’s had his troubles. Coming into the game, the Dallas Cowboys come in with the #1 defense against the run and face the #1 rushing offense, so what gives?? Vick with a few scrambles should tire out the Cowboys defense and the safeties are still suspect and may allow DeSean Jackson to get deep. With their season on the line we think the Philadelphia Eagles will right the ship after lamenting their fate all through the bye week.  Jason Garrett has some questionable calls late in close games and will do it again tonight. Sorry Hollywood, Romo will throw a late pick.

AFL Lives On!!

Monday Night Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers: The Chargers had the chance to reverse how others, namely the Taylor Blitz Times, views them as perennial underachievers last week and then went out and did so again. This time with the spotlight on them after Rex Ryan’s comments. They viewed that game as a big game and promptly laid an egg. The team that has gone through a crucible is the Kansas City Chiefs. This summer it was thought this was the best team in the AFC West. First came the 0-3 record, lost their 1,400 yard rusher in Jamaal Charles going down, then rededication and a 3 game winning streak has this team confident again. They have found a sound RB replacement in Battle. With a win they go from worst to first in only 4 games and will lead the AFC West again. Will they get it?? Yes on the strength of their ground game with Thomas Jones, Battle, and McCluster leading the way.

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NFL Week 3 South: Early Season Pivotal Points

Roddy White about to be greeted by the Tampa secondary.

Inside Our NFL rolls on. The NFL has had it’s share of rivalries. Teams that just couldnt’ stand each other and brought out the worst in their opponent. The newest NFL hatefest is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. We’re not sure if it began with General Manager Rich McKay moving from the Buccaneers to the Falcons in 2003, but we do know it’s intense. Last week these two renewed affiliations and played another slugfest this past weekend. One where the Atlanta Falcons were called for encroachment, grabbed Tampa’s QB Josh Freeman’s leg and the young quarterback bucked like a bronco to free himself.  Nearly stepping on a couple of strewn about arms of would be defenders. One where Bucs QB Freeman was sacked, the next series his Buccaneers retaliated with an eight man all out blitz at the line of scrimmage that nearly knocked Matty “Ice” Ryan into next week. What did they do for an encore when they knocked him groggy?? Sent another for one of the most vicious sacks seen in years. In which three players arrived at the same time forcing a fumble and knocking Ryan’s helmet off. Quite simply, the Bucs outhit Atlanta for a 16-13 win.

These young Bucks (pun intended) are growing up before our very eyes. They narrowly missed the playoffs going 10-6 last year yet have started this season slowly on the offensive side of the ball. Right now Josh Freeman has completed 67.9 % of his passes yet has thrown 2TDs v. 4 interceptions.  He’ll have to improve on the his TD to Int ratio, in fact he was second to Tom Brady with the lowest interception ratio last year. With LeGarrette Blount and this young defense, they are playing close to the vest affairs, having scored 60 points while allowing 60. Yet should pad their 2-1 record hosting Indy, traveling to San Francisco, before an important early season divisional matchup with the New Orleans Saints. The division lead should be on the line….speaking of which, lets take a look.

Tampa Bay 2 1 0 .667 1-1-0 1-0-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 60 60 0 Won 2
New Orleans 2 1 0 .667 2-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1-1-0 104 88 +16 Won 2
Carolina 1 2 0 .333 1-1-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-2-0 60 68 -8 Won 1
Atlanta 1 2 0 .333 1-0-0 0-2-0 0-1-0 1-2-0 60 77 -17 Lost 1

Right now the Atlanta Falcons should be concerned since they are 1 miraculous comeback from  being 0-3. Now those first 3 opponents were 11-5, 10-6, and 10-6 last year respectively, yet it’s against top competition where you measure yourself. Of course it’s still early in the season but they’re being gashed on the ground. They have given up 336 yards rushing so far to opposing teams and at least 1 TD in every game. They need a defensive leader to emerge. Yes, John Abraham is good for 10-12 sacks a season (this year 2) but these defensive linemen either have to get off more blocks or their run as division champs could be in jeopardy. Especially with the “Runnin’ Carolinas” comin to town in 3 weeks. Before that they travel cross country to Seattle then come home to a rematch with the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers. Careful Atlanta this season could get away from you quick. Get back to the run.

Jonathon Stewart in a preseason game. Back when Carolina was running with regularity

Sorry kids, but last week the Cam Newton experience, was rained out last week against Jacksonville although they got their first win. What has been surprising in these first two weeks is the Panthers haven’t been able to run the football. Stewart is averaging 3.9 yards per carry to Williams’ 2.3, and did you know each hasn’t rushed for more than 100 yards this season. That’s not acceptable!! They’re not supposed to stand and watch Newton! Go keep the defenses honest. Right now it’s all about Steve Smith and the Hurricane tight end connection Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey in the passing game. They have 16,12, and 9 receptions respecively…couple that with 13 checkdown receptions by Stewart and Newton is distributing his passes well. Just in time because quick passing to TEs is what Ron Rivera needs when his team visits Chicago and Mr. Urlacher this Sunday. Think Greg Olsen will be fired up?? Commit to the run on the Bears or Briggs and Urlacher will make life miserable for Newton this week. Afterward they host the Saints…Stewart and Williams need to find a groove.

Speaking of the ‘Who Dat Nation” they are who we thought they were! Uh..not quite, they sit atop the NFC South  with a 2-1 record yet the only time they haven’t scored is during the writing of this article. Lost in the hoopla with the AFC’s quarterbacks in Fitzpatrick and Brady, is the fact that Brees is on pace for 5,648 yards and 48TDs so far. He has 1,059 yards passing, 9TDs to only 2 interceptions and the Saints have scored 34,30, and 40 points thus far this season. Right now he’s carrying the team on his back…er..shoulder. With their next three games on the road to Jacksonville, Carolina, and Tampa Bay, this looks like a prime spot to get Mark Ingram into the mix running the football. This is necessary to rest a defense that has 3 of it’s top 4 tacklers being defensive backs. Lift some weights frontline!!!

We will find out plenty about this division over these next three weeks…

NFL Week 3 NFC East: Diminishing Returns


Week 3 in the NFC East had teams facing early season gut checks that a couple teams came through with flying colors and one team totally scratching it’s head. Alright, whenever our CEO sees a team that makes a high signing of free agents he always asks the same question: “Are they going to be the 1994 San Francisco 49ers or the 1995 Miami Dolphins?” The two teams contrasted by one becoming a powerful world champion and the other being a talented team with no chemistry, who exited the playoffs in an inglorious fashion. Well with the acquisition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Namedi Asoumgha, and several others, this Philadelphia Eagles team was to be the team to beat in the NFC.

Right now they are a 1-2 football team that is struggling to score in the red zone and Michael Vick has taken a pounding. Vick, stay away from comments about the refs in press conferences please. Just not manly. To reach the promised land they have to show up better than with the 24th ranked defense in the NFL and they should be embarrassed by their inability to tackle. Did you see the 4 missed tackles on Victor Cruz’s (who) 70 yard touchdown reception against the Giants? In fact Cruz went for 3 rec. 110 yards and his second touchdown he out jumped two Eagle defenders for it. Cruz and the Giants played last weeks game like they wanted it. Teams seem to be ready to defend Michael Vick this year by blitzing and putting hits on him. It’s like they watched the old how to defense John Elway tapes where use of the delayed blitz is getting there just as he’s making the decision to scramble for more time to pass, or decide to run. Reid had better put Vick on some rollouts and fire deep passes to Jackson to back off defenses or he won’t last the season. Now with a hurt non throwing hand could possibly be out 4 weeks?? Vick can’t miss more than 1 more game or they’ll be relegated to winning a wildcard at best. They get a San Francisco team this week that is playing spirited football. A 1-3 record looms if they look past them. Careful Philadelphia.

Speaking of the Giants….sigh Just when you count against Eli Manning he comes through with a 4TD passing day. Before we go onto the enigmatic Giants lets take a look at the standings.

Dallas 2 1 0 .667 1-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0
Washington 2 1 0 .667 1-1-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0
NY Giants 2 1 0 .667 1-1-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0
Philadelphia 1 2 0 .333 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0

The Giants seem to find their formula whenever they need it, in fact this was the best they looked this season. They were after Michael Vick from the word go and on offense they ran steady and kept the Eagle defense honest. So honest they slipped heavyweight Brandon Jacobs out for a surprising 40 yard touchdown pass. Taylor Blitz Times was unsure Jacobs could even run that far, but the big man snatched the pass and scooted into the endzone. Eagle Defensive Co-ordinator Juan Castillo is still steaming over that play. However the Giants secondary was active and picked off Eagle quarterbacks 3 times. Should bode well this week when they take on Kevin Kolb and the Arizona Cardinals out in the desert.

Felix Jones and the Cowboys rushing attack had over 120 yards for the game.

How ’bout them Cowboys?? After Dallas fans have roasted Tony Romo over the last couple of weeks they were silenced by a possibly career defining game. With a punctured lung and broken rib protected by a flak jacket he was hit several times by a Redskin pass rush that was averaging 3.5 sacks per game coming in. For the first time this season the Cowboys showed signs of life rushing the football with Felix Jones 1st 100 yard game of the season. Yet this game marked the first time Romo didn’t let his teammates ineptitude derail the Cowboys train. Due to injuries to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant for a period, he had to direct traffic just to get them to line up properly and know what they were doing. He had to get on receivers for running the wrong routes and even had to jump on his center’s ass for a 4th bad snap late in the 4th quarter. Instead of throwing an ill conceived pass, on 3rd and 21, he bought time and ad libbed a rollout, and threw to Dez Bryant for the first down. That wasn’t the Cowboy playbook, that was a quarterback NOT letting his team lose even though they tried for much of the night. This is the growth that we felt Romo needed to do and his locker room and huddle will be better for it. He’s earned league wide respect during these last two weeks and look who is in 1st place all of a sudden. Diminishing returns with Romo at the healm?? Not hardly, a leader is developing.

As for the Redskins, they just came up short in a defensive struggle. Hightower ran well and Rex Grossman performed admirably. Grossman was just a victim of a Cowboy pass rush that fed off the crowd and that last drive was swamped.They lost a tough, tough divisional game 18-16 and they sure we saw some Grossman throws that reminded us of his Chicago days but for the night he was 22 of 37 for a modest 233 yards. He kept his mistakes to a modest 1 interception and didn’t have that nervous Rex look until the final drive. Yet he was draped by a DeMarcus Ware coat for much of it. So modest diminishing returns for the Redskins this week.  However if you told a Redskin fan three weeks ago that they would be a solid 2-1 after 3 weeks, trust me they would have said we’ll take it. So this week they get the St. Louis Rams and if they make it to 3-1, this could prove to be a season of vindication for Coach Shanahan.

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Week 2 NFL Picks

Welcome to the Taylor Blitz Times NFL selections for week 2. We had a catastrophic crash that took down several articles and we apologize for not getting these out sooner. Yet this is about who will win in this second week in the season. Now our picks took a catastrophic turn for the worse also and we need to get back on track. So without further adieu lets jump into the games.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Detroit Lions: We have the Lions in this one. Matthew Stafford stayed healthy and the team is brimming with confidence after they’re fifth straight regular season win. Of course that’s dating back to last season. The Chiefs are still trying to figure out what happened to them last week at home against Buffalo.

Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers: The bad news, the Steelers looked old on defense and a step slow against Baltimore last week. The good news?? They get the referree who officiated the lopsided calls in Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks. The Steelers should pound out a win with Mendenhall breaking the 100 yard mark in the Steelers home opener. Steelers should win big.

Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints: This is an upset alert special. Brian Urlacher will take the field with a heavy heart with the death of his mother and his teammates will rally around him. He’s the heart and soul of the Bear’s organization and his team will elevate it’s play in this one. The Saints have had an extra four days off after their high scoring week 1 affair against the Green Bay Packers and they still haven’t learned to tackle. Just as they acquiesced in a defensive slugfest to Tampa at the end of last year, they won’t have the stones to stay in this one. Da Bears in a tough game

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets: The Jets in this one. Jacksonville comes in with both Maurice Jones Drew and Greg Jones on the injured report this week, and now journeyman Luke McCown is going to throw at Cromartie and Revis?? Ball game over right there. Although they are a slow starting team, Rex Ryan and the boys can seriously add one of those championship mental blocks by taking it to a lesser team and beating them soundly. This is where the Jets need to show another level of growth. Two years ago it was winning against the good teams. Last year it was finding ways to win close games and this year it’s to dominate lessor opponents and rest your starters late in meaningless action.

Cleveland Browns @ Indianapolis Colts: In an announcement to the NFL, it will be hammered home that the Colts have completely fallen from the league’s elite. The Browns were burned on a fluke / mishap last week when they were caught in substitution when the Bengals went ahead in the game. they had led the whole way…in this one. Peyton Hillis will run at the undersized Colts defense who may be missing MLB Gary Brackett also. If the Browns can get ahead and play ball control with Hillis and keep greybeard Kerry Collins from gaining any rhythm, they should pull away. Browns get first win of the year.

Arizona Cardinals @ Washington Redskins: Rex Grossman?? Yes, Rex Grossman. Off of the NFL trash heap to make folks forget all about the Donovan McNabb fiasco and give the Shanahan regime a legitimate quarterback. Skins were spirited in their conquest of the Giants where as last week the Cardinals were busy chasing Panthers all over the field while giving up 422 yards to Cam Newton. So the question that settles this is: If Cam Newton can carve up the CB deficient Cardinals (shouldn’t have given up Rodgers-Cromartie) to the tune of an NFL record at home…what will happen on the road to a resurgent Redskin passing attack?? Redskins in this one

Green Bay Packers @ Carolina Panthers: Intriguing matchup and lets put you in the drivers seat for a second. Lets say you were the defensive co-ordinator for the defending world champions..right?? Now you get to go back to where you had been fired and you were the first coach in that team’s history. Do you think you’d be prepared for that game?? Yes that is the plight of Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers today. What better way to make the Panthers remember who they gave up than to silence the NFL’s new golden child?? Think Cam Newton will be confused?? LOL Capers is drawing up Packer blitzes as we speak. Packers roll in this one.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings: We have no idea why the Vikings are favored here aside from the fact that odds are given to make betting money even on both sides. The Bucs are more physical than the Vikings and this is where they have to build on the aforementioned late season road win in New Orleans last year. They have the physical running style in LaGarrett Blount to run at the Vikings and the defensive heft to stop Peterson. Right now Donovan McNabb is really struggling and Aquib Talib and Ronde Barber are licking their chops. For a bit of history, remember when the Bucs went to the Super Bowl in 2002, it was Barber who sealed the deal with a 95 yard interception for a TD to finish off McNabb in the NFC Championship…yes an abstract. The Bucs win this one…close game though.

Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans: Just don’t see how the Ravens could lose to a team with such little momentum, they lost to the backpedalling Jaguars in week 1. After bludgeoning the defending AFC Champion Steelers last week and coming to town with the AFC’s defensive player of the week in Terrell Suggs?? Adelphi Coliseum will be empty going into the 4th quarter. Ravens pull away in this one.

Oakland Raiders @ Buffalo Bills: Rich Stadium should be brimming with excitement not seen since the 2001 signing of Drew Bledsoe. Is Ryan Fitzpatrick the real deal? Was the blocking performance by the Bills offensive line as stout as appeared, allowing one sack and producing a 100 yard rusher?? Yet before we get ahead of ourselves Bills fans, understand that Kansas City still gained almost a whopping 6 yards a carry to the Chiefs. They controlled the running attack by scoring and taking the running game away from the Chiefs. Can they do the same to the Raiders??

Darren McFadden is showing that last year was no fluke. The Raiders ran the ball down the Broncos throats last week. After a 22 carry for 150 yard performance the Bills better not let the Raiders get a lead because it could be a long one. Yet the noise should allow the Bills to get an early lead and control the game.  The Bills should be 2-0 at the end of the day.

Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers: Both teams played well last week yet the 49ers blew out a substitute NFL team in the Seahawks. The Cowboys dominated the team (Jets) Taylor Blitz Times picked to win this year’s Super Bowl. Only a late game collapse with the injuries doomed the Cowboys in that Sunday night game.  A closer look at all those missing players had alot to do with who was missing on the special teams that allowed the punt to be blocked to seal their fate. This week Romo and the offense needs to keep the petal to the metal and score over 30. We think they will….Cowboys

San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots: Here come the Jeckyll and Hyde Chargers playing up or down to their competition. Last week they played down to Leslie Frazier’s Vikings. Tom Brady nearly assaulted the NFL record  book last week coming within 40 yards of the all time record. Tedi Bruschi lit a fire under Chad Ochocinco in what we feel was a cheapshot, but it lit a fire. So in this one we’re going to take the Patriots in a win by a touchdown.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos: Listen, no team can ever be settled when there is a quarterback controversy. Even the 1971 Champion Dallas Cowboys were mired with a .500 record while they waffled over their quarterbacks. So why should the undermanned Broncos be any different with Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow. Coach Fox needs to put his face on the franchise and if I were he I’d ride Tim Tebow like Seattle Slew. First off, the fans want him and he’ll keep asses in seats all season. Second he allows the Bronco offense to play 11 against 11 down on the goal line and at any time they decide to exploit his 245lb body running the ball. Will he let it happen this week?? He pulls the trigger next week after another loss…..Bengals will find a way to win late

Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins: The NFL’s best receiver is going to play back where he starred in his collegiate years with the Miami Hurricanes. He will be a tad fired up having watched his alma mater (The U) beat down nemesis Ohio St. the day before. His Texans had a seismic win last week pummeling the Indianapolis Colts. Now he gets to go against a secondary that gave up 517 yards to Tom Brady and the Patriots last week?? Yikes!! He might go for 200 himself in this one. Houston’s time to shine. It’s their year in the AFC South. Texans big.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons: Now Deion Sanders has always proclaimed the Georgia Dome to be the house that he built. Maybe, but it did house the Michael Vick Experience for many years until the dog fighting ring derailed a young promising career. How he is received will dictate how he plays and how he plays, so goes the Eagles. If they cheer their prodigal son upon his return, look for Michael Vick to have a terrific game.  He’ll want to showcase all his skills and it’s up to Andy Reid to help temper his game and keep his emotions from getting the best of him. The Falcons will be able to move the football on one of football’s worst run defenses. Its paramount that the Falcons keep #7 off the field and not abandon the running game as they did last week in Chicago. Have this suspicion that Michael Vick is going to do something special. Will it be enough for the Eagles to win in Dixie? We think so as well Eagles!!

There ya have it…week 2 is ready to kickoff…. Here are our selections, tell us yours

2011 Predictions Continued …and the winner of the NFC is…??

The new version of the George S. Halas trophy given out last year. Emblematic of the Champion of the NFC

With every NFL season comes the prognostication of who will win each division and then who will win the Super Bowl. Well we’re not going to reveal that just yet but we are certain of several things. One, is our crystal ball is a little hazy but it usually works. It uses D Cell batteries and Duracell usua…..oops ,excuse me.  This happens whenever I write the article myself while having tequila…yet I digress

Our choices to make this year’s NFC Championship race are as follows:

1. Green Bay Packers – NFC North Champs w/ homefield advantage throughout playoffs.

2. Atlanta Falcons – NFC South Champs w/ second seed in the playoffs. If the Packers stumble in the divisional round, Falcons would host the NFC Championship Game.

3. Philadelphia Eagles -NFC East Champs. Will participate in the wildcard round and can only host the NFC Championship Game if #3 seed and lower meet. Will host the 6th seed wildcard weekend.

4. St. Louis Rams – NFC West Champs. Will participate in the wildcard round and can only host the NFC Championship Game if #4 seed and lower meet. Will host the 5th seed wildcard weekend.

5. Detroit Lions – The top record of non divisional winners and will face the 4th seeded team on the road during Wildcard weekend. Could only host the NFC Championship Game if #5 and #6 teams were to meet. (Has never happened)

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The second best record of a non division winner and will face the 3rd seed during Wildcard weekend on the road. Cannot host any playoff game no matter what.

Now that the lesser teams are vanquished, how would the playoffs line up.  Try the St. Louis Rams hosting the Detroit Lions during wildcard weekend. This would be a game to determine who would have the upper hand between two teams that would figure prominently in the Super Bowl chase in the upcoming years. In a game like that we would have to take the team with the most playmakers and that would be the Lions moving on.  In the other wildcard matchup, Tampa would face Philadelphia in a matchup to mimic those from the 2000 -2003 where a physical battle would be determined by mistake proof football.  The big question would be “Can Philadelphia stand up to the battle-hardened Buccaneers??” We say no…just like in 2010 and most of Michael Vick’s career he would be recovering from a late season injury and wouldn’t be 100%. This game would be a 50/50 toss up and would tilt in the upstarts favor if the game stayed tight.  In a game like this, the Eagles would have to get on top of the Bucs, 14- 0 or 20-3, and get them out of their gameplan early. Being a finesse team would play against the Eagles and they’d go down in wildcard weekend in the second upset of the playoffs.

On to the divisional round where the big boys would then kick things into high gear.  First the Buccaneers would take on the Atlanta Falcons for the third time in the season and would play them to a stalemate. However being that the Bucs were in their first foray late in the playoffs you’d have to figure the Falcons would force an additional turnover that would send Tampa to defeat. The Falcons would then make the pilgrimage to the NFC Championship game for the second time in their history.

There they would take on the Green Bay Packers who would best a Lion team who was in the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. The Lions would be arriving on the scene a year too early for their best effort and would lose to the Packers setting up the NFC Championship Game. Atlanta Falcons @ Green Bay Packers.

In a rematch of the previous year’s divisional playoff game won by the Packers 48-21, this would be a little closer based upon the cold weather. Yes, we’re saying that being in Lambeau Field would benefit the Falcon defense. The year before, the Falcons were carved up in a controlled environment at home.  In the arctic climes of Lambeau, the playing style would bring the teams closer together in terms of score. Yet the Packers would prevail 26-17 to make it to their second straight Super Bowl with the George S. Halas Trophy presented by former Packer legend Jerry Kramer. Hopefully Kramer would be there to deliver the trophy on the backdrop that he would be a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Packer faithful would then descend on Indianapolis in search of their 14th championship.  Would they get it?? Sorry, you’ll have to stay tuned for that.  As for this look into the crystal ball… Green Bay would represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVI… So who would they play??

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Next Up: AFC West Predictions