Report Card: Cleveland Browns

Dare we say it but we could be in the midst of a changing of the guard in the AFC North. No team has played with the verve and spirit of the Cleveland Browns consistently in this division. The proof that this team is growing is they were ripe for a letdown. After conducting the greatest come from behind road win in NFL history, they had to face the Steelers who they had been 1-18 against.

Brian Hoyer has put the debate over who should start at QB to rest.

Brian Hoyer has put the debate over who should start at QB to rest.

We would have said rivalry but when it’s this one sided it doesn’t qualify as one. After totally letting the Steelers off the hook in week 1, they battered them 31-10 this time behind a combined 155 yards rushing and 3TDs between Ben Tate and Isiah Crowell. Much like The Chancellor of Football alluded to last week with the Dallas Cowboys, it was the physical nature of running the football that wore the Steelers down. They ran the football 38 times in this game.

Isiah Crowell and the Browns have run by committee this season.

Isiah Crowell and the Browns have run by committee this season.

By owning time of possession you keep the game close and rest your defense. Going into the game yesterday Cleveland was averaging 143.5 yards per game. Not trickery draws and pass formation runs to fool the defense. We’re talking knuckles in the dirt, fire off the ball physical line play up front.

Hats off to Brian Hoyer who has been the beneficiary of this running game. Several times against the Steelers he used play action to full effect hitting downfield receivers. In all actuality if the vote were to happen now Hoyer would figure to be a Pro Bowl quarterback. His play this season has been more consistent than Tom Brady’s believe it or not.

For the season, Hoyer has completed 60.4% of his passes for 1,227 yards 7 touchdowns to just 1 interception. He’s not turning the football over… in fact the Browns as a team aren’t. They only have 2 turnovers in 5 games and are +3 on the season. If their defense stepped up and made more plays they could be 4-1 or even 5-0.

Free agent signee Karlos Dansby and the defense need to step up their game.

Free agent signee Karlos Dansby and the defense need to step up their game.

Right now the defense has been abysmal giving up 149.6 yards per game. They play well at times but have too many breakdowns to be consistent. Lets face it, the Browns overspent on Paul Kruger. His production doesn’t match the $40 million they have committed.

Maybe he can turn that around and Karlos Dansby (42 tot. tackles /2 sacks) and the front seven need to force more turnovers. Did you know no one in the front seven has forced a fumble yet?? Can’t gang tackle when you can’t disengage from blocks. They need to play with more force up front…period.

If the Cleveland Browns are to make a playoff run, the defense raising its play is the key. This team is 3rd in rushing and the defense should be rested. As Hoyer showed in the 4th quarter comeback 29-28 win over Tennessee, he can rally the team. The defense needs to play better to allow them some separation on the scoreboard.

It’s a work in progress…

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NFL Week 11 AFC East: As The World Turns

Patriots rattle Mark Sanchez in the 2nd half

It is at this point that we want to say this has been the strangest season in NFL history. More ups and downs than a roller coaster at Cedar Point and more twists and turns than the end of a mystery novel. Every division in the NFL has several teams within striking distance of their individual races yet one has an all familiar shape to it. No, not the hoodie again?? Yes the hoodie again. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots drew and quartered the New York Jets on Sunday night to regain control of the AFC East.

Sunday night’s tilt saw the Jets beaten at their own game. Usually the Jets play a ball control, close to the vest affair leaning on their defense. Then open up their attack in the second half. However Tom Brady and the Patriot offense beat them to it and pried open a 9-7 deficit and pulled away in a 37-16 laugher. The difference was Brady’s ability to make adjustments to how the Jets were defending them. With Darelle Revis hounding Wes Welker all night, Brady opted to throw to his tight ends. They combined for 12 receptions yet it was Rob Gronkowski’s 8 receptions for 113 yards and 2 TDs that was the difference. Ochocinco was brought out of witness protection for a 53 yarder to introduce another element to their attack.

Ninkovich's second interception of Sanchez was the icing on the cake.

In contrast Mark Sanchez didn’t pass the eyeball test all night. He looked uncomfortable and had to force several throws. Stat-wise his night wasn’t that dissimilar from Brady’s. He completed 6 fewer passes for 23 fewer yards (Brady 26/39, 329 yds v. Sanchez 20/39, 306 yds). Yet of those six, two were interceptions with one being the game clincher by Nickel backer Rob Ninkovich.

After Santonio Holmes the Jets didn’t have a speed outlet that scared the Patriot defense. Subsequently the coverage on the intermediate routes grew tighter and tighter and exposed the Jets offense. As we watched this performance, we saw the same thing the television audience saw. The Jets are a slow football team. Plaxico Burress doesn’t have a burst and is only good from in close. Who wouldn’t be at 6’5 catching over a 5’9 defensive back?? Yes he caught his touchdown from seven yards out but only caught 3 passes on the night for 32 yards. On two occasions he ran pedestrian slant routes that Patriots DBs were able to knock down. The tradeoff of Plaxico Burress for Bralyon Edwards has backfired and their receivers no longer have balance. Edwards could stretch the field more and ran better routes to bail out Sanchez on 3rd down. Had to say it…lets take a look at the standings

AFC EAST W L T PCT HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK
New England 6 3 0 .667 3-1-0 3-2-0 3-1-0 5-2-0 259 200 +59 Won 1
NY Jets 5 4 0 .556 4-1-0 1-3-0 2-2-0 4-4-0 215 200 +15 Lost 1
Buffalo 5 4 0 .556 4-1-0 1-3-0 1-1-0 3-2-0 229 218 +11 Lost 2
Miami 2 7 0 .222 1-3-0 1-4-0 0-2-0 1-6-0 158 178 -20 Won 2

Ryan Fitzpatrick is hounded by the Dallas defense last Sunday in a 44-7 loss.

Now what the hell was that that happened in Dallas?? Fortunately our boss, who is a Bill’s fan, is off this week and it looks like his team took it off also. 44-7?? What had been lost in the Bills 4-0 start was the fact that their defense ranked near the bottom. They were opportunistic in those first weeks leading the league with 12 interceptions yet without those they can’t get the other offense off the field. Losing Shawne Merriman has robbed the Bills of pass rush prowess that’s desperately needed. Right now the Bills are ranked 29th on defense and are tied for 27th in sacks with a paltry 15. If you can’t force teams off the field the last thing the Bills can afford are turnovers. In their first 6 games, the Bills were in rhythm and only had 7 turnovers as they started 4-2. Their last 3 games, 2 of which were losses?? Nine turnovers while going 1-2 in those.  This has to stop for the Bills to right a season that looks like they’ve lost a handle on.

Fred Jackson carries several Cowboys defenders in Sunday's loss.

saving grace for the Bills is the play of Fred Jackson. The underappreciated back hit the Cowboys defense for 114 yards to bring his season total to 917 and 6 TDs. He has emerged as a dual threat with 392 yards on 34 receptions and should make the Pro Bowl. His continued performance is needed to help Ryan Fitzpatrick not face a pass rush that is getting to him more in these last four games. With their center Eric Wood sustaining injury the line isn’t as formidable and could see problems the rest of the way. The Bills can right the ship with a big win. Yet it looks like their meal ticket may come from the ground game as we head toward winter games and 3 of their next four on the road. At 5-4 they are in desperate need of a win to keep pundits and other teams from thinking the sand is out of their 2011 hourglass.

Well one further thing to note: The Taylor Blitz Times in it’s NFL Annual Preview picked the New England Patriots to face the New York Jets in the AFC Championship. Well after being swept by the Pats, the Jets are hanging by a thread with 4 conference losses. The Jets have to nearly run the table just to make the playoffs and they had better find some answers. After a season of antics from Rex Ryan, it’s time for his team to deliver on the field and grow into the unit they say they can be. It’s alright to talk and be verbose when your team is pulling out big wins.

Well if the Jets can’t right the ship, their season will be defined by their losses to the arch rival Patriots. So we know Rex Ryan said “I wasn’t brought in to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings”…well…we just received a fax and wanted to share it with you. We’re not exactly sure what it means…you tell us

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Week 10 AFC West: The Broken Record That Keeps on Playing

Is this the end for Norv??

In the most unpredictable NFL season ever, there have been a few teams who have repeated previous incarnations of themselves. Namely the San Diego Chargers. At some point you learn who you are as a team and as a coaching staff and ever since Norv Turner was called out by Rex Ryan before the Jets game, this team has been in disarray. They already played up and down to the level of their competition, yet at the time stood at 4-1. After blowing a 21-6 halftime lead, they promptly had the Jets take their lunch money and rip the heart out of the team. Oh no?? They haven’t won a game since and as of last night, they dropped their 4th in a row to the revitalized Oakland Raiders falling 24-17. Now this team is in 3rd place with a 4-5 record with 4 conference losses. You can say goodbye to a wildcard and the same to Norv Turner as their Head Coach.

Face it Rex Ryan was right. A good coach in San Diego, with the talent that is in place, should have taken this team to the Super Bowl. They had the #1 offense AND #1 defense a year ago and didn’t make the playoffs. First time that has ever happened. The last two times someone was #1 in offense and defense were the ’87 San Francisco 49ers, who went 13-2 before back to back Super Bowl championships, and the Dallas Cowboys in 1977 who went on to win Super Bowl XII. Norv couldn’t even get them to the playoffs?? This team will play better for another head coach, they just wouldn’t play for him. When his job was on the line they have come up snake eyes each time.

Carson Palmer leads the Raiders to first place with a fine performance v. San Diego

Which brings us to the Oakland Raiders who were down in the dumps, wondering how they were going to right the ship, then they traded for Carson Palmer. Lets see… a former Pac 10 Heisman Trophy winner coming off the bench to resurrect the Oakland Raiders season. Hmmmm now where have we seen this before?? Somewhere Al Davis is smiling. At one point in last night’s game, Carson Palmer hit on 10 of 10 passes for 126 yards 2TDs. He was on pace to become the first quarterback in NFL history to finish with a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 with less than 15 passes. He didn’t make it but finished with 14 of 20  for 299 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception. Oakland now has a quarterback! That pounding sound you’re hearing is Jason Campbell’s sign going into the ground as his house is going up for sale. Rookie Denarius Moore was in sync with Palmer all night. His 5 catches for 123 yards for 2 touchdowns showcased the speed Al Davis always coveted. Once Darren McFadden can come back 100%, look out this team is going to be dangerous. Take a look at the standings

AFC WEST W L T PCT HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK
Oakland 5 4 0 .556 2-3-0 3-1-0 2-2-0 5-4-0 208 233 -25 Won 1
Kansas City 4 4 0 .500 2-2-0 2-2-0 2-1-0 3-3-0 131 201 -70 Lost 1
San Diego 4 5 0 .444 3-2-0 1-3-0 2-2-0 3-4-0 216 228 -12 Lost 4
Denver 3 5 0 .375 1-3-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 3-3-0 171 224 -53 Won 1

Tebow's harsh critics dog him with every incompletion or misread

Again the situation is tenuous out in Denver. Book ending the come from behind miracle in Miami and the signature win vs. their hated Raider rivals was a forgettable 45-10 loss to the Detroit Lions. With one forgettable game, Tebow doubts krept back into the picture. The Broncos need to realize they have a running quarterback the size of a linebacker. They need to call plays that exploit his ability to turn football back into 11 on 11 on some running plays. He and Willis McGahee bludgeoned Oakland with over 100 yards each and the better he runs, the more defenses are going to remain honest in nickel and especially dime defense situations. Instead of 6th and 7th pass defenders back to cover receivers they have to keep them within 10 yards of the scrimmage line to deter him from running. Right now the Broncos have to come up with a hybrid version of the wildcat where the quarterback is as much a runner as a thrower. That simple. They have to go to the collegiate ranks and nab a quarterback friendly offensive co-ordinator to make this work.

Critics are just going to bash Tebow for backlash from the super favorable treatment he received in college. We legitimately thought of him as a tight end going into the draft. Yet when you see a pass play breakdown, he can bull his way to positive yards instead of throwing a pass that could be intercepted. Sure critics point to Kyle Orton’s superior passing percentage (58.7% -46.4%) yet this is the only showcase to Orton’s upside. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/2011.htm Yet when it comes to touchdown to interception ratio Tebow is killing Orton (6TDs /1 INT- 8TDs /7INTS) and Orton has thrown 58 more passes. Orton’s having thrown 6 more interceptions directly relate to Denver’s losing 23-20 to Oakland, the Titans 17-14, and the 29-24 loss to San Diego. Think about it, had they had the ball and possibly have scored 1 more time in each game, this team could be 6-2. The Tebow trade-off for rushing yards (277-17 for Orton) is well worth getting rid of the 6 extra turnovers. The difference is Tebow SHOULD improve passing the football vs this is it for Orton’s upside. Coach Fox, you’re just going to have to live with some offensive breakdowns from time to time, hell the Giants did that with Lawrence Taylor when he’d rush the passer instead of dropping like he should when he was young. This is where you have to close ranks as a team and move on. Yet you’re 2-1 with Tebow v. 1-4 with Orton. Alright make a case for why Orton should be elevated to starter again?? Sorry we can’t hear you….

Can we ask a question: Was Charlie Weiss that important to the Chiefs passing game?? Apparently so. Matt Cassel’s regression from 27TDs to 7 INTs last year has been replaced with a less than modest 61% completion percentage, and 9TDs to 9 INTs is an epic drop. The Chiefs still have the 10th best rushing attack despite losing Jamaal Charles. Completely unacceptable. They drafted a big receiver in Jonathon Baldwin and brought in a Steve Breaston he should be slightly off last year’s pace at worst. With all his arsenal at his behest he threw for a modest 239 yards against the Dolphin’s 27th best defense against the pass last week. At home he should have been more successful than that. Hell, Tom Brady nearly set an NFL record against this bunch back in week 1 with his 517 yard performance. They should be gaining momentum with taking over 1st place in the AFC West instead of falling back to the pack losing to a win-less, hapless Dolphins team.

For the Chiefs to hit their stride their defense has to be better against the run (18th and gave up 90 yards rushing to Reggie Bush) and find a pass rusher to assist Tamba Hali (6 sacks). Which brings up another question..Where is Glenn Dorsey?? No sacks and only 10 unassisted tackles? Pathetic for such a high draft pick. They somehow have to light a fire under his ass and possibly get raw Aaron Bailey (from [[_]]) on the field. Maybe more hussle and less thinking is what the Chiefs need. They clawed their way back into the race, but will they stay there?? The hated Raiders need a running mate.

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Week 8 AFC North: Protecting the NFL Republic

Bengals defense has been beastly the first half of the ’11 season.

With all this talk of wide open offenses in the NFL this year, there is a division where a more traditional game favors the defensive side of the football. The AFC North. Going into yesterday’s games, this division’s four teams ranked 1, 2, 3, & 4 in total defense. Surprisingly it was the Cincinnati Bengals who has led for most of the year before being overtaken by the Ravens. Baltimore luckily had a chance to pad their stats on Monday Night playing an inept Jacksonville team in a 12-7 upset loss.

Each team has the old mantra of running tough, milking the clock, and supplement that with timely passing. Yet the main ingredient is defense, defense, defense. For it was the swarming defense of  the Cincinnati Bengals that knocked the offensive minded Buffalo Bills from the ranks of the unbeaten earlier this year 23-20. This was one week after coming out on the short end of a 13-8 alley fight with the 49ers.

These are your Cincinnati Bengals. One year removed from a season that saw Pri-Madonnas Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco fail as Batman and Robin. Watched their franchise quarterback in Carson Palmer threaten to retire over returning to the team. No problem, Bengals draft TCU’s Andy Dalton and fed Cedric Benson the football. Such thinking has been rewarded with 458 yards and 2 TDs despite the fact he sat out yesterday’s 34-12 beat down of Seattle. Dalton has endured a rookie season baptism by fire where he’s finished the first half of the season with 1,479 yards, 9 TDs and 7 interceptions. He is this year’s Mark Sanchez where he’s not being asked to do to much, rely on his running game and his defense. After a 5-2 start, it’s safe to say that Marvin Lewis and his Bengals have an old tried and true winning NFL formula working for them.

As for the defense, Geno Atkins leads the way with 3 sacks with Jonathon Fanene following with 3. Safety Reggie Nelson leads the way with 45 tackles with Ray Maualuga cleaning up with a hard hitting 38. Were you looking for extremely high numbers?? Sorry you don’t understand the formula. Run the football and minimize how much your defense has to play. Been a staple for over 93 years in the NFL. Lets take a look at the standings as well.

AFC NORTH W L T PCT HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK
Pittsburgh 6 2 0 .750 4-0-0 2-2-0 0-1-0 4-2-0 176 139 +37 Won 4
Cincinnati 5 2 0 .714 2-1-0 3-1-0 1-0-0 4-1-0 171 123 +48 Won 4
Baltimore 5 2 0 .714 4-0-0 1-2-0 1-0-0 3-2-0 185 110 +75 Won 1
Cleveland 3 4 0 .429 2-2-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 2-3-0 107 140 -33 Lost 1

Returning to the leader board after 4 straight wins are the defending AFC Champion Steelers who has seen it’s defense surrender more yards than in year’s past. In 2010 the Steelers were tremendous holding opponents to 62.5 yards per game rushing. This year they have had some struggles yet have bounced back to a respectable 8th allowing 99.1 and this week they get James Harrison back from injury. With a rubber match head knocker this week against division rival Baltimore, all hands need to be on deck. However it was the Ravens that bludgeoned the Steelers with 170 yards rushing in week one. In Harrison’s absence, LaMarr Woodley has picked up the slack and leads the team with 9 sacks. Two of which came in last week’s 25-17 win over decade long nemesis Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Woodley sacks rookie Blaine Gabbert

Yet there are points for concern. Do you realize the win over New England represents their only win over a winning team this season?? Also for all the hard hitting the Steelers have been known for they have only forced 3 turnovers and 2 of those are interceptions. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/pit/2011.htm Right now their leading tacklers are safeties Ryan Clark (50) and Troy Palamalu (48) which shows teams are moving the Steelers off the line of scrimmage. Truth be told they have an easy schedule that may be masking the real Steelers. Right now Pittsburgh is #2 overall in defense yet if you take out the win over New England, their wins come over the Colts (30th in offense), Seattle (31st), Tennessee (25th), Jacksonville (32nd or last), and Arizona (20th).

http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?archive=false&conference=null&role=TM&offensiveStatisticCategory=TOTAL_YARDS&defensiveStatisticCategory=null&season=2011&seasonType=REG&tabSeq=2&qualified=true&Submit=Go

Just think it’s these anemic offenses that have passed for 10 TDs and only 2 interceptions?? This team is still deficient at defending the pass as they were in last February’s Super Bowl. Right now they are winning on the arm of Ben Roethlisberger. His 365 yards and 2TDs were the difference in the Steelers win on Sunday. Rashard Mendenhall has been solid (421 yds /3 TDs) however it’s come down to one frantic 3rd down scramble & throw after another to sustain drives. Can this formula keep?? If they can win this week at home against Baltimore they can sustain that they are in fact still the team to beat in the AFC North. A loss here and indeed the Ravens will have swept their nemesis and dropped them to 1-3 against teams with winning records. Which will really raise serious doubts on their ability to make it back to the AFC Championship Game.

Ready to try and sweep the Steelers are the up and down Baltimore Ravens. How is it the Ravens lost to the 2-6 Jaguars just two weeks ago 12-7 and to the Titans earlier in the season 26-13?? This team needs to quit overlooking it’s lessor opposition. Joe Flacco is coming under all kinds of heat for not showing much improvement over these last few seasons. He checks the football down too much and isn’t running the total offense when it comes to taking to the air. Yet the NFL’s #1 defense has led them to a 3-1 record against team’s with winning records. Ray Lewis (who else) leads the way with 55 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception. As a unit they have 17 sacks, 7 interceptions and 6 fumble recoveries. Again it is up to this unit to carry this team as far as it can go.

The Ravens offense is too reliant on Ray Rice. He’s been super productive out of the backfield with 489 yards rushing, 5 TDs and 33 receptions for 373 yards and 2 more touchdowns. However his playing style takes too many hits and he may wear down by season’s end with this his 3rd season with such a heavy workload. It’s imperative that Flacco make better use of his receivers aside from Anquan Boldin (34 rec. 539 yds 2TDs) and TE Ed Dickson. Flacco is too predictable when you show him zone he won’t throw to the second level and just dumps it to Rice. He will be the reason this team doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl. In his 4th season he should have shown the growth to master more of the offense and learn the nuances of the quarterback position. Will he throw to the second level against the Steelers this week??

Cleveland’s D’Qwell Jackson is having a Pro Bowl season

Rounding out this defensive group are the “No Name” Cleveland Browns who are in the midst of shaping the same gameplan around a young QB in Colt McCoy while pounding the opposition with Peyton Hillis. Yet this season Hillis (211 yards / 2TDs) has been nicked with an assortment of injuries and has shared time with Montario Hardesty (244 yards). The Browns have been playing close to the vest games all year thanks to a defense filled with No Names that have roped teams into defensive struggles. Last Sunday they were out in San Francisco in another slugfest where they lost a close one 20-10. The 49ers jumped to an early17-3 lead and were nearly shut out from that point on. Again this defense was let down by an offense that couldn’t get out of it’s own way being held to 66 yards rushing. In their defense they were down to a second string running back with both Hillis and Hardesty out with injuries.

So how are the Browns just 3-4?? They have been able to best the weak teams in defensive struggles and can’t get over the hump when they require more offense. Their 5th ranked defense has been led by D’Qwell Jackson, a fifth year linebacker out of Maryland, who is having the best season of any MLB /ILB. He’s corralled 64 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries and looks like a young Ray Lewis. In fact this team has 17 sacks while forcing 8 turnovers. Four linemen have multiple sacks so far this season, their first under defensive co-ordinator Dick Jauron. Their a hodge podge group of veteran free agents and a few unheard of stars like Jackson. If they can get through the next three games relatively healthy, five of their final 6 games are against defensive brethren in cold weather. Their defense can only carry them so far. Otherwise they stand a chance to make some serious noise in the division if they can get some offensive help. Will they get it??

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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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