Windy City Baller
Veteran cornerback Charles Tillman is having the best season of his career helping Chicago to a 7-1 start. Will Tillman and the Bears defense continue it’s ball-hawking ways against Arian Foster and the Texans?
Thursday, November 8 8:20 PM ET – TV: NFL Network
Indianapolis Colts 5-3 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 1-7
Jacksonville’s lone win this season was against Indianapolis back in week 3, the last time Colts head coach Chuck Pagano coached before he was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then, Indianapolis is 4-1 in play
off contention with a rookie quarterback. It’s not surprising to see Andrew Luck give signs on being one of the greater ones of the future. But for a team that has youngsters at multiple positions to respond to Pagano’s emotional speeches, is absolutely amazing. By the way, that game Jacksonville won back in week 3, Maurice Jones-Drew ran for over 170-yards. MJD is still out with a bad foot. Bottom-line, Jacksonville is a mess. Pick: Colts 32, Jaguars 18.
Final Score: Colts (6-3) 27, Jaguars (1-8) 10
Sunday, November 11
1:00 PM ET
N.Y. Giants 6-3 @ Cincinnati Bengals 3-5 – TV: FOX
Everyone seems to be perplexed why Eli Manning is on some sort of a slump. I understand he has multiple weapons that filled the void of the injured Hakeem Nicks earlier in the season, but at some point Nicks needs to start being part of the mix here. Problem is Nicks appeared to do some damage to an already banged up left knee last week against Pittsburgh and his status for this weekend is uncertain. And with all the concerns with New York’s passing game, look for offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to have a game plan to get both Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown involved early with the running game, and for Eli to use both running backs on screens and dunk passes. That’ll be a perfect plan to get your quarterback out of a slump. Pick: N.Y. Giants 30, Bengals 21.
Tennessee Titans 3-6 @ Miami Dolphins 4-4 – TV: CBS
If the Titans have any chance in the southeast this weekend, they’ll have to continue running the football effectively with Chris Johnson. Quarterback Jake Locker (left shoulder) makes his return from injury for Tennessee. Therefore, I don’t expect anything spectacular coming from the arm of a rusty quarterback against Miami’s pass-rush. Miami’s defense will focus in on stuffing the run and force Locker into third and long situations. Mainly, Ryan Tannehill is taking care of the football. No interceptions in his last four contest. The better disciplined team wins. Pick: Dolphins 23, Titans 13.
Detroit Lions 4-4 @ Minnesota Vikings 5-4 – TV: FOX
With Leslie Frazier’s Vikings looking to end a two game losing streak, star receiver Percy Harvin’s (ankle) status is questionable. That’s the bad thing. The good thing is Adrian Peterson is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. That factor alone can get Frazier’s team out of a foxhole. On the opposite side of the ball, the Lions have managed to get themselves back to .500 with a balanced offensive attack. Detroit has seemingly found the right guy running the football with Mikel Leshoure. That’s been a key factor for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan evening things out on the offensive end. And “The Megatron” is starting to get free from defenders for Matthew Stafford to get him the ball. That’s who I like in this game, the team that has more weapons in the passing game, the Lions. Pick: Lions 26, Vikings 19.
Buffalo Bills 3-5 @ New England Patriots 5-3 – TV: CBS
Big reason why Buffalo made the move to bring along Mario Williams, sack Tom Brady, the best quarterback in their division. This is when the big bucks have to kick in. Williams has to have a highlight moment at some point this season, otherwise, he may start hearing boos when he heads back home. We all know what the Patriots offensive attack is about, so no need for me to do the explaining. As far as what Buffalo has to do, they need to move the football methodically with time consuming drives to keep Brady and the Patriots off the field. They must win in time of possession tremendously. Here’s where I see the major problem with Buffalo: They turn the football over too much. Sloppy teams don’t win these meaningful games. Pick: Patriots 41, Bills 24.
Atlanta Falcons 8-0 @ New Orleans Saints 3-5 – TV: FOX
Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (ankle) will miss his second consecutive game for the Falcons. Last week, without Weatherspoon, the Falcons defense didn’t allow Cowboys tight end Jason Witten to have huge game without Weatherspoon’s presence in the middle of the field. Witten only caught 7-passes for 51-yards. This week, the defense will have to limit a much more talented tight end Jimmy Graham, who can stretch the field with his receiver type athleticism. That leaves defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to use more nickel and dime packages against a high powered Saints passing attack that uses the entire field. Nolan’s defense may catch a break in this matchup, however. Darren Sproles, Drew Brees’ security blanket when no one is open downfield catching screens, is out with hand injury. As for New Orleans’ defense that ambushed Michael Vick last week with a bunch of blitzes, they won’t be able to do so against a much better offensive line that protects Matt Ryan on third down. You have to be able to get to Ryan, and I don’t think they’ll do this consistently. Pick: Falcons 34, Saints 31.
San Diego Chargers 4-4 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-4 – TV: CBS
In the voice of The Soprano’s Phil Leotardo, “Let me tell you a couple of three things I like about Greg Schiano’s Bucs.” 1: Josh Freeman has thrown 11-touchdown passes and only 1-interception in his last four games. 2: In his rookie season, Doug Martin looks like a running back that Tampa struck gold in drafting him, and receiver Vincent Jackson looks like he found a home to stay put in averaging 22.9-yards per catch with 6-touchdowns. 3: Every time I see coach Schiano getting in one of his players faces with his hard-core demeanor, the more I think about Bill Parcells, the Giants days. Pick: Buccaneers 32, Chargers 29.
Denver Broncos 5-3 @ Carolina Panthers 2-6 – TV: CBS
Carolina’s defense has stepped it up over the past couple of weeks. They’ve been much better upfront and are tackling better. They’ll need to continue doing this against a Broncos offense that is extremely balanced. That’ll be the biggest challenge for Carolina’s defense, trying to stop running back Willis McGahee from having an effective day running the football. If they don’t slow down McGahee, then Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense will go play-action and hit the defense over the top. That’s what I expect Denver to be able to do, get the run game working in the first half to open things up for the passing game in the second half, when they put the game away in the fourth quarter. Pick: Broncos 30, Panthers 19.
Oakland Raiders 3-5 @ Baltimore Ravens 6-2 – TV: CBS
This is the perfect matchup for Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense to get the passing game going against a Raiders defense that’s been dreadful against the pass. And with Darren McFadden (ankle) out, a key part of what Oakland needs to win on the road, you can’t bet on the arm of Carson Palmer to win this game on his own. Pick: Ravens 33, Raiders 16.
4:05 PM ET
NY Jets 3-5 @ Seattle Seahawks 5-4 – TV: CBS
Despite the Jets struggles, cornerback Antonio Cromartie feels the Jets are playoff bound. “The Jets will make the playoffs this year,” Cromartie said Thursday morning on NFL Network. “We believe in each other. We believe in… Coach Ryan and his staff…. So, we definitely are going to make the playoffs this year.” I have to admit, as crazy as this may sound, there’s something real funky about this game. I just have that “Football God” feel of an upset thing pinching the back of my neck about this one. That feeling wants me to pick the Jets, but I have to be realistic about what’s working and what’s not. Ultimate reason for me picking Seattle: Russell Wilson in his four home games this season has thrown 9-touchdown passes and 0-interceptions. Pick: Seahawks 20, N.Y. Jets 17.
4:25 PM ET
St. Louis Rams 3-5 @ San Francisco 49ers 6-2 – TV: FOX
It won’t be a complex job for Jim Harbaugh’s defense. Stop Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson on early downs, and you’ll leave it up to Sam Bradford to stretch the 49ers defense downfield with the pass. That won’t work for Jeff Fisher’s Rams. Only chance a Fisher coached team has is if they can get a couple of touchdowns from the special teams and force 4 to 5 turnovers on defense. Na, don’t see it. Pick: 49ers 27, Rams 13.
Dallas Cowboys 3-5 @ Philadelphia Eagles 3-5 – TV: FOX
Eagles head coach Andy Reid’s job is in jeopardy, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is on the hot seat, both Tony Romo and Michael Vick are turning over the football, and last but not least, Jerry Jones is feeling the heat once again about having too much control of Cowboys. Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach gave his take on Jones’ approach running the team. “Jerry is trying real hard,” Staubach said Friday on the Mike & Mike Show on ESPN Radio. “He goes back to the old days when they won three Super Bowls. I think the formula is he’s got to find a medium ground and delegate more authority.” We can point the finger at so many things on why both of these talented teams can’t put it together. And all of these negative aspects displayed, makes it hard for me to pick a winner. But I have to make a choice and dig real deep to search for reasons, and as usual, I found one. The Eagles will start a former tackle at guard and a former guard at center. Their starting right tackle hasn’t played there in two years, and their starting left tackle played right tackle for more than a half in the last game. Get it? The Eagles offensive line is a mess. That’s a big reason why Michael Vick has been sacked 27 times this season. And I’m banking on Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware to take full advantage of it. Pick: Cowboys 24, Eagles 17.
Sunday Night Football in America 8:20 PM ET – TV: NBC
Houston Texans 7-1 @ Chicago Bears 7-1
NBC has to be thrilled to get a game of this magnitude at the expense of football lovers across America. You have both teams that have one of the better defensive fronts in the league that creates havoc for opposing quarterbacks. Chicago’s defense has created turnovers, highlighted by veteran cornerback Charles Tillman that is in the running for defensive player of the year. Tillman will matchup on Houston’s Andre Johnson and challenge him upfront. Johnson has been more involved in the Texans passing game over the past few weeks, but I’m not expecting him to have a big game. What will be interesting is how Chicago will defend Houston’s multiple tight ends, Owen Daniels, James Casey and Garrett Graham. The Bears defense will have to contain Houston’s Arian Foster on the ground, and keep him from reaching the endzone. The Texans offensive line is arguably the best in the game. No defense has been able to slow down Foster to limit their passing game to stretch the field with play-action passes. The Bears have the talent on defense to put out the fire, but I have to go with the team that has the better offensive line to protect the quarterback on passing downs. Pick: Texans 23, Bears 20.
Monday Night Football, November 12 8:30 PM ET – TV: ESPN
Kansas City Chiefs 1-7 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 5-3
No doubt former Chiefs head coach and now Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley would like put a little more mustard on the hotdog here. Meaning, bash the team that let him go. Revenge is on his mind. Haley has everything he needs on offense to do it. All he needs is “Big Burger Eater Man #7” that will be able to do anything he wants. Roethlisberger will eat a big huge bacon double cheeseburger before the game, and then have a triple decker burger after the game. Yum, Yum, Yum, these burgers taste really, really good. Pick: Steelers 28, Chiefs 10.
Bye: Cleveland 2-7, Green Bay 6-3, Arizona 4-5, Washington 3-6