Archive for September, 2008

King Says, Benji Says (Week 4)

September 26, 2008

It’s the final countdown!

After another embarrassing loss at the hands of His Majesty, I am definitely down, but I assure you, NOT out. Time to do my best Rocky impression—I will overcome this adversity by training hard, injecting myself with steroids and listening to cheesy late 70’s/early 80’s music while I write my column.

Last Week:

Peter King (12-4)
Benji (9-7)
Brian (10-6)

Overall:

Peter King (32-15)
Benji (26-21)
Brian (28-19)

Cleveland Browns (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-3)

The King says:

Why do I have faith in this team, Lord? Why, oh why? “You must hand one to all the people playing The Peter King Challenge,” the voice in my head says. “You must give them a freebie.” The Bengals have more momentum coming out of a good performance last week against the Giants, and the Browns look like a dying team. (Will whoever has kidnapped Braylon Edwards please return him to the Browns’ charter before it takes off Saturday afternoon for Cincinnati?) This is the seventh game of the World Series for both Romeo Crennel and Marvin Lewis. They may both be walking the plank after the season anyway, but the one who starts 0-4 almost assuredly will be. And maybe sooner than that.

Prediction: Cleveland Browns 22, Cincinnati Bengals 20

Benji says:

Pardon me, Your Majesty, but in my humble opinion, your Game 7 of the World Series analogy is one of the worst things that you have ever written. It does not make any sense, logically or ironically. Yes, both teams are 0-3, and yes, both highly regarded offenses have underachieved, but one of the two teams has been involved in a pair of close games and has improved over the first few weeks of the season, while the other has, if anything, gotten worse. The Browns’ offense looks terrible—the line has not played as well as last year, Derek Anderson has been erratic and inaccurate, and Braylon Edwards cannot catch a pass to save his life; the Bengals, on the other hand, played a great game last week against the defending Super Bowl champions and lost in overtime after putting forth a very respectable offensive showing. At the least, it seems like Houshmandzadeh and Palmer are back on the same page. I will go with the home team here…

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 27, Cleveland Browns 20

Minnesota Vikings (1-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-0)

The King says:

I like so many fundamental things the Titans are doing, aside from the obvious 29 points allowed in three games. They have rushed for 157 yards per game, allowed 11 third-down conversions, and, now that Kerry Collins is the man, should be a little less turnover-prone.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 20, Minnesota Vikings 15

Benji says:

His Majesty has already laid out the strengths of this Titans team (and the stats to back up his assertions), so I will not waste any time rehashing them. Let’s talk instead about Tennessee’s weaknesses. The Titans are not going to score a lot of points—their offense, like the Vikings’, is entirely dependent on the ground game. Tennessee’s defense, and specifically its pass rush, is extremely effective at pressuring the quarterback. As the Texans showed last week, however, it is not as strong at stopping the run. Rookie Steve Slaton, in his first NFL start, ran the ball 18 times for 116 yards, an average of 6.4 yards per carry. With the best offensive line in the league and possibly the best running back tandem in the league, the Vikings have the personnel to exploit the Titans’ biggest weakness. They also need to win this game much more than the Titans do.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 23, Tennessee Titans 17

Denver Broncos (3-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-3)

The King says:

Last year, around midseason, Jay Cutler felt himself getting weak and sluggish, losing weight weekly and having no idea why. The pressure of the season, the Broncos thought. Turns out he had diabetes and it wasn’t discovered till late April. But as he struggled with the weakness and the weight loss, he played Kansas City twice — in Week 10 and Week 14, in the throes of the onset of Type I diabetes. Cutler was 37 of 56, a 66-percent completion rate, with five touchdowns and one interception. Denver won by a combined 68-18. I bring that up for this simple reason: Cutler feels like a million bucks now. He’s commanding a team that’s put up 41, 39 and 34 points the first three weeks of the season. Great news for a team struggling as much as these Chiefs-Cutler killed ’em when he felt like crawling under the covers and sleeping the day away. What’ll he do when he’s feeling whole again?

Prediction: Denver Broncos 38, Kansas City Chiefs 18

Benji says:

As much as I want to see the Broncos lose here, it is not going to happen. The Broncos’ offense is too good, and the Chiefs’ defense will not be able to hold it down. I do think that the Chiefs will play infinitely better with Damon Huard at quarterback this week though. Kansas City is not nearly as bad as people seem to think that it is.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 31, Kansas City Chiefs 24

San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (1-2)

The King says:

Drew Brees is on pace for a 5,227-yard passing season. Imagine averaging 327 passing yards per game, which Brees is doing. We think of Dan Fouts as one of the all-time mad bombers, and he averaged 238 passing yards per game in his career. Point is, Brees may look like Clark Kent, but he’s putting up numbers that make him look like he’s playing with a red cape.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 33, San Francisco 49ers 24

Benji says:

The San Francisco defense will not be kryptonite for “Super Man” Drew Brees, even with Colston and Shockey out. Plus, the Saints are at home and they really need to win this game. Their defense stinks, though, so expect another high scoring affair. I would definitely recommend playing J.T. O’Sullivan this week (or really anyone involved in this game), if you have him on your fantasy team.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 38, San Francisco 49ers 31

Arizona Cardinals (2-1) at New York Jets (1-2)

The King says:

“I’ve won way more games than I’ve lost,” Brett Favre said the other day. “I don’t anticipate that changing.” Kurt Warner’s in the way this week. The first quarterback to 300 yards wins. My money’s on Favre, who will finally be unchained to throw it five or six times downfield.

Prediction: New York Jets 26, Arizona Cardinals 23

Benji says:

The Cardinals are probably the better team at this point in the season—their defense has been solid and their passing game has been great. The Jets, on the other hand, looked completely outmatched against the Chargers last week. New York is desperate right now, though, and Favre tends to come through in these types of situations. The defense better follow suit, though…

Prediction: New York Jets 27, Arizona Cardinals 24

Green Bay Packers (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

The King says:

Is this a big surprise? Didn’t think so. It’ll be an anti-Green Bay 87 and muggy at gametime, the Bucs will send the house at Aaron Rodgers, and Brian Griese’s better than we all thought a week ago.


Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Green Bay Packers 17

Benji says:

Is Brian Griese really that much better than “we” thought a week ago? He did throw three interceptions against the Bears. And while Tampa Bay’s defense put on an admirable performance against the highly esteemed Kyle Orton, it still ranks 27th in the league in passing yards allowed. Aaron Rodgers has already shown us that he can handle a pass rush and that he can make plays when it matters. I expect his solid play to continue against Tampa Bay. If the Buccaneers blitz him like they did Orton, he will burn them deep. That’s not a prediction, that’s a fact…

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at Carolina Panthers (2-1)

The King says:

Go easy on Matt Ryan, will you, Julius?


Prediction: Carolina Panthers 23, Atlanta Falcons 10

Benji says:

Before I break down my pick, I feel the need to ask His Majesty why he feels inclined to bring up Julius Peppers in his one sentence analysis of the game. Is this 2005? What has Peppers done in the last two seasons? Anyway, so far Matt Ryan and the Falcons have looked great at home against two terrible teams (the Lions and the Chiefs with Thigpen starting) and really bad on the road against one average team (the Buccaneers). I never know quite what to make of the Panthers, but I consider them to be above average, certainly better than the Buccaneers. Feel free to surprise me Mr. Ryan, but I do not envision you performing very well on the road against the Panthers this Sunday.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 27, Atlanta Falcons 17

Houston Texans (0-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)

The King says:

Most oddball rivalry in the game right now. The Jags are better every year than Houston, yet the Texans have won three of the last four meetings-by 20, 3 and 14 points. I couldn’t pick the Texans here because I just don’t trust Matt Schaub right now. Kyle Shanahan’s first big decision as offensive coordinator might come Monday, when he may have to walk into Gary Kubiak’s office and say: “We gotta play Sage.” Rosenfels, he means. The backup.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 23, Houston Texans 12

Benji says:

I definitely agree with you on the Houston quarterback situation, Your Majesty. Sage Rosenfels should be the starter, and he will be, sooner rather than later. Just for the record, Sage was the quarterback for Houston’s 42-28 win in their final week match-up with the Jaguars last season. To be fair, Houston also picked up 14 of those points via kickoff returns by Andre Davis. Anyway, the King and I are in agreement that Houston’s passing game is terrible right now with Schaub at the helm. This game should be a breeze for the Jaguars—what a relief after their tough win over the Colts last week.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 28, Houston Texans 17

San Diego Chargers (1-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-2)

The King says:

Before the game, Al Davis walks over to the Black Hole, goes eenie-meenie-miney-mo, points to the guy with the studded dog collar painted silver and says: “You wanna coach today?”

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 30, Oakland Raiders 10

Benji says:

I have been quite impressed with the Raiders’ running game so far this year, but their passing game has been abysmal. And if you cannot put up points through the air and you are playing the Chargers, you are in trouble. It will take a lot of points to outscore Philip Rivers and co.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 31, Oakland Raiders 17

Buffalo Bills (3-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-3)

The King says:

Would anyone have guessed the Bills would be a road favorite by more than a touchdown in this decade? Something about this game doesn’t smell right to me. Ram GM Billy Devaney said the other day the team is putting every ounce of energy into winning this one game, and Trent Green will play more decisively than Marc Bulger was, if both of their recent history is any indication. Just a hunch the Rams have a big Sunday in ’em.


Prediction: St. Louis Rams 23, Buffalo Bills 13

Benji says:

I feel as though I need to come clean here. I, like His Majesty, was tempted to pick the Rams to upset the Bills here. My justification for such a pick was as follows: The Bills have been involved in three close games and are not a dominant team; the Rams are 0-3 and desperate for a win; Trent Green gives St. Louis more mobility at the quarterback position and will be better able to escape the pass rush than Marc Bulger. Brian, however, stepped in and straightened me out. Here are his comments in regard to Trent Green and the concussions that he has sustained over the last few years: “Yeah, I just don’t trust scrambled eggs as a quarterback. Like, go look in your fridge, find an egg, and drop it on the ground. Now look at it. Would you want that to lead you against an NFL team?” Enough said.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 24, St. Louis Rams 12

Washington Redskins (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-0)

The King says:

“This game scares me,” says Sirius NFL radio producer Dave Lagreca, the biggest Cowboy fan on planet earth, wringing his hands as he sweated. He should be worried. Santana Moss plays big in Cowboy games, and Marion Barber’s had his trouble running against the Washington Monuments: Last year, he rushed 21 times for 37 yards in their two meetings, including a memorable six times for minus-six in the season-ender.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 23, Washington Redskins 16

Benji says:

His Majesty does bring up a good point here—the Redskins do seem to have Marion Barber’s number. What Barber has now, though, that he did not have last year, is a change-of-pace back in Felix Jones that can fly like the wind. The Cowboys’ offense is playing too well right now for anyone to shut it down. It is still September, after all.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 31, Washington Redskins 24

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) at Chicago Bears (1-2)

The King says:

I don’t like the fact that Philly’s two most important players feel like they just got hit by a truck. Looks like Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook will play, but at what percentage of goodness? The Bears are better than 1-2-you can point to about six plays in the Tampa Bay and Carolina losses, and if they make any two of them, they’re 3-0-and they’ll show up in all their brutishness Sunday night, ready to play a desperate game.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 19, Philadelphia Eagles 17

Benji says:

You know what I don’t like, Your Majesty? I don’t like the fact that the majority of the plays and non-plays that have hindered the Bears from going 3-0 can be traced back to quarterback Kyle Orton. Orton gave the Buccaneers the opportunity to stage a late comeback by essentially giving them 14 free points off of stupid turnovers. I guess I have to give Tampa credit for putting pressure on him, but I do not see how a “game managing” quarterback can be successful if he turns the ball over every time a defender gets in his face. I expect the Eagles’ defense to blitz him whenever possible and I think that this strategy will be quite effective. Oh, and as for McNabb and Westbrook’s injuries? Westbrook has proven for the past two seasons that he can play hurt without any drop-off in performance, and I really do not think that McNabb’s bruised chest is going to bother him nearly as much as His Majesty seems to think it will.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 20, Chicago Bears 13

Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)

The King says:

Astounding game last Sunday. Never, ever, ever, ever did I think I would see a Steelers team run as many times (six) as sacks surrendered (six) in one half of football. But that happened. What team were we watching? Imagine seeing the Steelers with 24 plays in a half, and running six times. Bizarre. It must change. Absolutely must.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Baltimore Ravens 13

Benji says:

Your Majesty, I am disturbed by your lack of acknowledgment of the Steelers’ key injuries. While I do not think that Roethlisberger will throw the ball two thirds of the time this week, remember that starting running back Willie Parker will not be playing. If the Ravens had any offensive weapons whatsoever, I would consider picking them to win against this very beat-up Steelers team. Unfortunately for them, they do not have any players that pose any real threat to Pittsburgh’s excellent defense. This will likely be the ugliest Monday Night game of the season…

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 15, Baltimore Ravens 6

Advertisements

King “Grieses” the stat-line

September 22, 2008

Well, make it two weeks in a row for King beating me with his picks. Part of me is worried because the whole premise of our site loses credibility if we can’t out-pick King. At least I’m doing better than Benji. . .

There is one thing that I can control, however, and that is proving King wrong. So let’s get started. In Week 3’s Monday Morning Quarterback, King makes the following statement regarding Brian Griese:

All Griese did was throw 22 straight passes in the last seven minutes of regulation to bring the Bucs back from a 24-14 deficit, then lead a 90-yard OT drive to win it. Along the way, he attempted the second-most passes — 67 — ever thrown in an NFL game.

Now I don’t go and look up every single claim that King makes, it would take too long, but I knew this one was incorrect. SportsCenter showed a list of the most pass attempts in a single game on last night’s program, and I remember that Griese was further down the list. This list can be found here, and reveals that Griese, while quite prolific last night, ranks no higher than fifth all-time for passes attempted in a single game. While not a huge mistake on King’s part, if he is going to go to the trouble of referencing the record books, he should take the time to fact check said records.

I have reproduced the table from the NFL record books. The number preceding the name is the pass attempts for that game :

70 Drew Bledsoe, New England vs. Minnesota, Nov. 13, 1994 (OT)

69 Vinny Testaverde, N.Y. Jets vs. Baltimore, Dec. 24, 2000

68 George Blanda, Houston vs. Buffalo, Nov. 1, 1964
Jon Kitna, Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh, Dec. 30, 2001 (OT)

America’s Other Pastime

September 22, 2008

While I am willing to temporarily grant Peter King the title of “King,” I must insist that he not overstep the bounds of his football kingdom. In this week’s MMQB, King makes a series of unsubstantiated statements about Major League Baseball, the most egregious being his 2009 solution for the New York Mets’ bullpen problems:

i. I will be shocked if K-Rod is on any team but the Mets next year. How can the Mets not sign him, even if it’s for $18 million a year, or some such number? This is the second straight year the bullpen has ruined the Mets’ season, and they’re moving into a new stadium, charging fans absurd prices for tickets. Those fans won’t settle for Brian Fuentes.

Rodriguez, as you are probably well aware, now holds the record for the most saves by a closer in a single season (60 and counting). Many casual baseball fans and media members have taken to calling his 2008 season the greatest ever by a closer. If you look past K-Rod’s one gaudy statistic, however, his numbers this season do not look quite so dominant.

While K-Rod has saved 60 games this season, he has also blown seven save opportunities. By contrast, the Phillies’ Brad Lidge has yet to blow a save this year and the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera has only blown one. No one is paying any attention to Rivera’s phenomenal year (since the Yankees are not a playoff team) and Lidge’s perfect season (a feat only accomplished by the juiced-up Eric Gagne) has received significantly less recognition than K-Rod breaking the saves record. As sexy as the saves record sounds, how meaningful an accomplishment is it, really? Rodriguez’s team, the Angels, has been involved in an inordinate amount of close games, providing him with, by far, the most save opportunities in the league (and in baseball history). While he has done a lot with the opportunities presented to him, he has not distinguished himself, in terms of the quality and consistency of his play, from the other top-tier closers in the league. I am unwilling to accept K-Rod’s season as one of the greatest of all-time, because he has only saved 90 percent of his opportunities in a year when two pitchers (Lidge and Rivera) have saved 100 percent and 97 percent of their opportunities, respectively, in a similar number of innings.

That being said, one can hardly dispute King’s claim that Rodriguez would make the Mets’ bullpen better. What I take issue with, however, is his implicit belief (likely fueled by the media-created hype surrounding K-Rod) that Rodriguez, at this stage of his career, is a significantly better pitcher than the Rockies’ Brian Fuentes.

King directly compares K-Rod and Fuentes, so I thought that it would only be fair if I did the same—except I will use actual statistical evidence to back up my claims.

2008 Stats (Through September 21st):

Brian Fuentes

G      GS  CG   IP      H      R    ER    HR    BB    SO

66    0    0    61.2    46    22    19    3    21    80

W    L    SV    HLD    BLSV    WHIP    ERA

1    5    29       6        4       1.09    2.77

Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez

G    GS    CG    IP    H      R      ER   HR  BB    SO

73    0    0    65.1  53    21    17    4    34    74

W    L    SV    HLD    BLSV    WHIP    ERA

2    3    60      0         7       1.33     2.34

Fuentes’s numbers this year, other than saves, are quite similar to K-Rod’s. Fuentes has converted 88 percent of his save opportunities, a slightly lower percentage than Rodriguez. The numbers indicate that Fuentes has been a bit more overpowering while maintaining better control of his pitches, striking out six more batters and walking 14 fewer batters than Rodriguez in three fewer innings pitched. Fuentes has allowed significantly fewer baserunners, as evidenced by his 1.09 WHIP (Walks plus hits per inning pitched) as opposed to K-Rod’s alarmingly high 1.33. One can make the case for either pitcher, but it is ignorant of statistical evidence to proclaim K-Rod’s season to be significantly better than Fuentes’s, record book notoriety aside.

One could argue that the difference in age between Rodriguez (28) and Fuentes (32) is a factor in judging the future prospects of both pitchers, but the argument would not last very long. Fuentes has shown no signs of decline, as his numbers improved across the board this year. K-Rod, on the other hand, has seen his strikeout numbers go down and his walk and WHIP numbers go up in each of the last two seasons.

Consider, also, the 2008 salary numbers for both pitchers. According to ESPN.com, Fuentes makes $5 million this season, while Rodriguez makes $10 million, and both pitchers will be free agents at the end of the season. On the open market, sportswriters and league insiders believe that K-Rod could garner as much as $20 million per year for five years. Fuentes, a pitcher with far less hype surrounding him, is likely to cost a pitching-needy team (such as the Mets), at most, $10 million per year. King maintains that the Mets’ fan base “will not settle for Brian Fuentes.” But when presented with a choice between two similar pitchers, does it not make the most sense for management to choose Fuentes, who will cost roughly half as much as K-Rod? King complains about the Mets’ “absurd prices for tickets,” yet opines that they should dole out an absurd amount of money for an overvalued pitcher, rather than explore a less expensive option that would likely provide a similar statistical gain.

The moral of the story, Your Majesty, is that you should stick to picking the winners in NFL match-ups and save the inherently flawed baseball analysis for those who are paid to mass-produce it (i.e. Jon Heyman).

King Says, Benji Says (Week 3)

September 19, 2008

The unthinkable has happened: the doofus out-picked me in Week 2. And not only did he out-pick me, he left me choking on his dust, correctly predicting the outcomes of a whopping 12 out of 15 games as opposed to my lowly eight. As a writer for a blog dedicated to outthinking Peter King, you can imagine how devastated I am by this humiliating turn of events. My only option here is to place myself on probation—and in so doing, force myself to acknowledge King’s picking dominance over me every time that I criticize his analysis. Therefore, until the day when I move back ahead of Peter King in the standings, I am no longer allowed to refer to him as a “doofus” or even by his given name—I am only allowed to address him as “The King” or “His Majesty.” Long live The King!?!

Last Week:

Peter King (12-3)
Benji (8-7)
Brian (9-6)

Overall:

Peter King (20-11)
Benji (17-14)
Brian (18-13)

Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-1)

The King says:

I’m not sure it’s a mark of Matt Ryan’s greatness that he’ll start his career with a 2-1 record. Nothing against Ryan, but most quarterbacks would like to start their season with the Lions and Chiefs in the first three weeks. On the other side, I said it Monday and I’ll say it again: Tyler Thigpen is not ready for prime time. Kansas City’s 12th straight loss awaits.


Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 20, Kansas City Chiefs 6

Benji says:

His Majesty and I are in wholehearted agreement on this game. I also am not sure what to make of Matt Ryan and the Falcons, but I know that the Chiefs’ passing game is terrible, and that their third starting quarterback in three weeks, Tyler Thigpen, is the worst of the bunch. Next…

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 24, Kansas City Chiefs 9

Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-0)

The King says:

The Bills can afford to overlook no one. Having said that, it must be comforting to know that Team Turmoil is coming to town just as western New York is working into a fever pitch over the 2008 Bills. And I don’t want to get Trent Edwards thinking of Honolulu in February yet, but he’s doing what a good quarterback needs to do. He’s being accurate (71 percent completions), mistake-free (zero picks) and avoiding the rush (three sacks taken).

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 20, Oakland Raiders 13

Benji says:

His Majesty has an infuriating habit of bestowing superfluous praise upon players who have not yet earned it. Yes, Trent Edwards has played very well so far this year—but he’s only played two games!!! The Bills are 2-0 this year, but remember that they have played a team with no effective running backs and an entire receiving corps out with injuries (the Seahawks) and a team without three of its starters on the offensive line (the Jaguars). Will they be 3-0 after playing the Raiders? Almost certainly. But I am not yet convinced that Buffalo is an elite team—its resume is a little lacking at this point. As for the Raiders, they proved last week that they can run the ball but their passing game looked terrible. I cannot envision them putting many points on the board against Buffalo’s defense.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 20, Oakland Raiders 13

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) at Chicago Bears (1-1)

The King says:

When I spoke with Jake Delhomme after the Panthers-Bears game Sunday, he talked about the Chicago defense the way a promising young golfer would talk about Tiger Woods: with awe and just a little fear. Not saying Brian Griese will feel the same way Sunday leaving Soldier Field, but I think the Urlachers will leave a couple of nice welts on their old friend.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 16, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12

Benji says:

Keep in mind that Brian Griese, the current starting quarterback for Tampa Bay, was not able to beat out Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, two of the worst quarterbacks in the league, for a job in Chicago. Normally I would take into consideration that, because of his time with the Bears, Griese knows the Chicago defense very well. I honestly do not think that Griese is a good enough player to take advantage of his “insider’s knowledge.” He looked okay against the Falcons last week, but their defense is rather mediocre. My guess is that the Bears will run the ball as much as possible, kick some field goals and rely on the defense and special teams to do the rest. This week, at least, I believe that formula will get them a win.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 17, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9

Houston Texans (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-0)

The King says:

Cris Collinsworth watches as much tape as the Hoge/Jaworksi team at NFL Films, and the other day at NBC, he couldn’t stop talking about how good and stingy and physically dominating the Tennessee defense has looked in the first two weeks, and also how it looked during the preseason. Take a bow, Jim Schwartz. That’s one heck of a unit you’ve designed.


Prediction: Tennessee Titans 20, Houston Texans 15

Benji says:

As The King states, the Titans’ defense has been “physically dominating” over the first two weeks of the season. I cannot dispute that point. I want to pause for a moment, however, to consider the level of opposition that the Titans have faced. The Jaguars, who were already without their starting center, had both of their starting guards knocked out of the game in Week 1, preventing them from running the ball (which their offense is based upon) with any effectiveness whatsoever. The Bengals are just plain terrible. Enter Houston. The Texans have had success against the Titans in the recent past, losing close games 38-36 and 28-20 last season. Texans’ star wide receiver Andre Johnson caught nine balls for 116 yards in the most recent match-up and I expect him to get free from the secondary again in this game. Many people were on the Texans’ bandwagon before the season but jumped off after Week 1; unlike them, I am unwilling to allow the outcome of one game, against a very good Steelers team, affect my assessment of a solid team that certainly has a chance to win this game.

Prediction: Houston Texans 24, Tennessee Titans 21

Carolina Panthers (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)

The King says:

Funny the way football works. A 2-0 team getting its best player (Steve Smith) back from a two-game suspension, going to play an 0-2 team with a gigantic hole at the most important position on the field. And the 0-2 team comes out with its pants on fire, playing for its life. I’m not the first person to say this, but in football, I most often give the pre-game edge to the desperate team, especially if it’s playing at home.


Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 30, Carolina Panthers 13

Benji says:

Desperation is a great motivator for a football team, Your Majesty, but as you yourself point out, the Vikings’ biggest weakness is the quarterback position, the single most important position on the field. The switch from Tarvaris Jackson to Gus Frerotte in no way makes Minnesota a better team. Frerotte played nearly half a season’s worth of football last year, and he threw 12 interceptions as opposed to only seven touchdown passes, while completing only 56 percent of his passes. The Vikings should have acquired a quarterback in the off-season, but they did not and now are doomed to have another mediocre season. As for the Panthers, they have willed their way to victory the past two weeks, but their offense will be infinitely better with Steve Smith back in the fold. His ability to get open deep completely alters the way that opposing defenses can play against them. And that Delhomme guy, it turns out he is still pretty good. I bet the Vikings would trade their first round picks for the next three years to land a quarterback like him. Last but not least, the Vikings’ only consistent offensive player, Adrian Peterson, is hampered by a hamstring problem that may keep him out of the game, damaging the Vikings’ chances even further.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 24, Minnesota Vikings 10

Miami Dolphins (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)

The King says:

Who’d have ever thought in Week 3, by the middle of the third quarter, the Pats-Fish would be a Cassel-Henne duel? By the way, do you think it’s possible that, before the game, Bill Belichick sidles up to Matt Cassel and says, “We’re taking the training wheels off today, kid?” Not sure those words will be spoken, but I do think you’ll see three deep throws to Randy Moss this weekend.

Prediction: New England Patriots 33, Miami Dolphins 7

Benji says:

I guess if Belichick is going to “take the training wheels off” for Cassel, a home game against the Dolphins, one of the worst teams in the league, would be the time to do it. The jury’s still out on Cassel, but the Patriots should not have much trouble with Miami.

Prediction: New England Patriots 28, Miami Dolphins 6

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at New York Giants (2-0)

The King says:

All over America come 4 p.m. Sunday, Fantasy Football players with Carson Palmer at quarterback sprint from their NFL Sunday Ticket perches to the internet, scrambling to pick up Gus Frerotte or Jason Campbell … or — gulp — to offer the dimwit in the league Carson Palmer for J.T. O’Sullivan. Straight up.

Prediction: New York Giants 23, Cincinnati Bengals 9

Benji says:

Oh, how I long for the days when Peter King regularly published posts of obvious and slightly inane fantasy football tips. He does have a point here, though. Anyone who drafted Carson Palmer in a fantasy league this season is screwed. They surely wasted a fourth or fifth round draft pick on a guy who has not been the same since his knee surgery and who plays behind an absolutely atrocious offensive line that does not give him time to throw. Oh, you want one of us to actually talk about the real-life game? Fine, the Bengals are awful and the Giants pass rush will eat Palmer alive. I have nothing else to say.

Prediction: New York Giants 28, Cincinnati Bengals 10

Arizona Cardinals (2-0) at Washington Redskins (1-1)

The King says:

Someone explain this to me: How can Kurt Warner be better at 37 than he was at 27, or at 33? You can look it up, by the way. He’s playing better in the last 12 months than at any point in his career except for his three Superman years in St. Louis from 1999 to 2001.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 34, Washington Redskins 24

Benji says:

Your Majesty, while you are correct to point out that Warner has put up very good numbers as of late, you fail to mention that the Cardinals have played two mediocre teams (the 49ers and Dolphins) to open the season. This game will be Arizona’s first real test, and it will be the first time this year that Warner has faced an actual pass rush. Washington’s defense put a lot of pressure on Drew Brees last week and I expect that it will do the same against Warner. I also think that Jason Campell and the Skins’ offense looked much better in Week 2 and that they will find ways both to attack the shaky Arizona secondary and run the ball effectively, keeping the Cardinals’ offense off of the field. While I do think that the Cardinals are the class of the horrible NFC West, I think that the worst team in the NFC East (The Redskins) is equal to or better than them.

Prediction: Washington Redskins 24, Arizona Cardinals 17

New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Denver Broncos (2-0)

The King says:

Defensive struggle. Don’t laugh. If this game follows the script of the first two weeks for these two teams, it could be 50-47.


Prediction: Denver Broncos 30, New Orleans Saints 27

Benji says:

The Broncos, as we all know, should be 1-1 right now. I will refrain from harping too much on the man who made the call that changed the outcome of the game—everyone involved in sports media has made enough of his mistake already and I blame the rulebook more than I do the call that was made. What I took away from last week’s game against the Chargers was that the Denver defense is not capable of making a stop. Jay Cutler and co. are exciting to watch, but this team is going to find itself involved in shootouts almost every week. As a general rule, a team that relies this heavily upon its high-powered offense will both be capable of beating good teams but will also inevitably allow lesser teams to remain in the game and even have a chance of winning. As The King states in his analysis, this game very well could be 50-47. Both the Saints and Broncos have great offenses and no defenses to speak of. At any rate, it should be fun to watch. My money is on the Saints pulling this one out, despite my belief that the Broncos are the better team right now with Colston out, because I think that Denver will inevitably have a little bit of a letdown after its big win against San Diego last week. I also do not see Denver’s overmatched linebackers having much of an answer for New Orleans tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 38, Denver Broncos 35

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1)

The King says:

My money’s on Jack Del Rio trying to force the run to work better than it has the first two weeks (Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are averaging a somnambulent 47 yards rushing, combined, per game), and my money’s on it working, with Bob Sanders out for a month with the high ankle sprain. By the way, all that’s at stake here is Jacksonville’s season. Nothing else.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 20, Indianapolis Colts 19

Benji says:

You are correct to point out the desperation factor here, Mr. King, but I have some serious reservations about the Jaguars, even when they are at the end of their ropes. Del Rio can force the run all he likes, but their offensive line (missing three starters) is simply not creating openings for Taylor and Jones-Drew. With Bob Sanders out, either running back is capable of breaking off a long touchdown run, but only if they can break through the first line of defense, which has not happened in the first two weeks of the season. But if Jacksonville does not win this game, its chances of making the playoffs will be in serious jeopardy. I’ll go with you on this one, Your Majesty, because I do buy into the desperation theory, as long as competent quarterbacks are involved. The Colts were lucky to win last week and their offensive line has been decimated as well.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 20, Indianapolis Colts 17

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

The King says:

Love this game. How can you not? After watching the Eagles Monday night, you get the impression that Donovan McNabb’s as healthy and energetic and as full of B-12 as he’s ever been, so I don’t worry about a couple of hard hits from LaMarr Woodley. I think McNabb takes a few shots and comes back strong.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, Pittsburgh Steelers 21

Benji says:

I could not agree more, Your Majesty, McNabb looks like he is back and better than ever. I was not as impressed with the Eagles’ revamped defense, however. I believe it will end up being Philadelphia’s downfall, when it’s all said and done. The Eagles can put up points with the best of them, though. Although I like what I have seen out of the Steelers thus far (they hung tough in terrible conditions last Sunday), and I do not think that Roethlisberger’s shoulder hampered his ability to throw last Sunday, I also have yet to see him try to throw a deep ball (the wind took the deep passing game out of play) since the injury to his throwing shoulder occurred. I think that this game could be a wild one, but I favor the Eagles because they are at home and because Roethlisberger’s health is still a question mark.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 20

Detroit Lions (0-2) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1)

The King says:

Not sure the Mike Martz Bowl will end with J.T. O’Sullivan and Isaac Bruce carrying the San Francisco offensive coordinator — one year removed from the Detroit OC job — off the field on their shoulders post-game, but after watching a good dose of O’Sullivan last week in Seattle, I can tell you he’s ready to win in the NFL, and he has Martz to thank for that.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 23, Detroit Lions 13

Benji says:

While I think that the 49ers are much improved from last year, they are still not that good. Good enough to beat a severely depleted Seahawks team (which I picked them to do), but not good enough for me to write, with any confidence, that they will beat the Detroit Lions at home by a sizeable margin. I learned my lesson about picking the Lions to win on the road against weak opposition in Week 1, though, so I will go with the safe pick. I could see the Lions, and their superior receiving corps, having the edge in a high scoring game but they are just as likely to put up another dud of a performance on the road.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 24, Detroit Lions 21

St. Louis Rams (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2)

The King says:

Not saying the Seahawks were getting to the bottom of the barrel in their search for wideouts — no team at any position has been beaten up more in the first two weeks than Seattle’s receiver group — but the next two guys scheduled to come in for workouts on Mike Holmgren’s short list were Steve Largent and Brian Blades.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 33, St. Louis Rams 9

Benji says:

Why His Majesty insists on repeatedly pointing out the Seahawks’ biggest problem and subsequently disregarding it is beyond me. Seattle’s offense did manage to will a 100-yard rushing game out of the overrated Julius Jones, but its passing game still looks terrible—because all of its receivers are hurt. I cannot justify picking the Rams to win, because they are on the road, their offensive line is terrible and the Seahawks’ talented linebackers will be able to disrupt Bulger, but do not let The King fool you into thinking that this will be a blowout. The score will be close, because as bad as the Rams are, the Seahawks are not much better.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 20, St. Louis Rams 17

Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

The King says:

OK. I am officially the only one in the national media who still has a shred of belief in the Browns. And it’s just a shred. But I can’t believe Braylon Edwards will continue to drop balls like this, and I do believe Shaun Rogers is going to be good fit, and disruptive, as time goes on.

Prediction: Cleveland Browns 23, Baltimore Ravens 16

Benji says:

When I turned on ESPN this morning, there was a poll on the screen, with the question “Which of these surprise 0-2 teams will turn things around?” The Browns were one of the teams listed, which I found somewhat amusing. They played the Cowboys and Steelers to open the season, and people are surprised that they are 0-2? Even if this team is a wildcard contender, an 0-2 record to open the season is not especially surprising, at least in my book. What was surprising to me was how sloppy the passing game has looked. I think that Cleveland will rebound and beat the Ravens, because their offense has to play better than it has the past two weeks. I also do not think that Baltimore is very good. The defense is still solid, but the Ravens’ offense is going to struggle all year to score points.

Prediction: Cleveland Browns 20, Baltimore Ravens 13

Dallas Cowboys (2-0) at Green Bay Packers (2-0)

The King says:

You picked a winner, Dick Ebersol. This will be the best Sunday night game of the year. You know how they say Tony Romo can’t win the big one? (Funny, considering he’s 3-0 at East Rutherford and Philly combined, by an average of 12 points per game) Well, if he opens by winning at Cleveland, at home with Philly and at Green Bay, we experts may have to revise our thinking.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 31, Green Bay Packers 30

Benji says:

After two good games against inferior competition, this is Aaron Rodgers’s coming out party. He played well against the Cowboys last year in relief of Favre, but this will be the first game as a starter in which he will face a worthy opponent. I agree with you, Your Majesty, this certainly will be an exciting game. I must digress for a moment, however, to remind you that the reason people say that Romo cannot win the “big one” has nothing to do with games played in the month of September but everything to do with his inability, as of yet, to win a playoff game. As for this game, I think that Rodgers will have his best performance yet. Romo will put up some points, too, but I like the Packers’ defense much more than the Cowboys’ unit, and I think that the Packers will prevail at home. Your Majesty, why do you continue to disrespect Mr. Rodgers? You did not even mention him once in your analysis for this game.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31, Dallas Cowboys 24

New York Jets (1-1) at San Diego Chargers (0-2)

The King says:

In the wake of endless Manginius-bashing for running the ball between the tackles three fruitless times inside the Pats’ 3 last week (and I mean endless; if you live in greater New York, you have been inundated with this as much as the Wall Street collapse), I bring those Jets fans wondering why the team traded for Brett Favre this stat: Last season, the Jets had a 44-56 run-pass ratio, meaning they ran the ball on 44 percent of their offensive plays. In the first two weeks of this season, with both games played in glorious weather, the Jets have run it 49.5 percent of the time. So with Favre, they’re 50-50 run-pass, essentially, and with Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens over a full season last year, they were 56-44 pass. Let’s give this some time to shake out, but the early returns are downright weird. And it’s not taking advantage of your best player on offense.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 29, New York Jets 20

Benji says:

Perhaps, Your Majesty, the Jets will start passing the ball more once your man crush, Brett Favre, learns the rest of the playbook. I guarantee that pass/run ratio will change as the season progresses. I do agree with you, though, that Favre should have been given the chance to pass in that goal line situation. Why did the Jets run on third down after failing to get into the end zone on the first two downs? I am more perplexed, however, by your decision to make your longest paragraph of analysis have the least to do with your pick for that game. What about the Chargers? They are desperate, and playing at home, right? I am assuming that is why you picked them. I like the Chargers, too, but I think they will find themselves in another high scoring game here. Their defense, contrary to my original prediction, looks lost without Merriman. Favre will be able to pick it apart at will. As I said, though, the Chargers are desperate. If they lose here, things would look pretty bleak for them.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 31, New York Jets 28

More Week 2 Stuff

September 17, 2008

(King quotes from this week’s MMQB in italics)

e. I’d like JaMarcus Russell to look a little better than six of 17 for 55 yards at a poor Kansas City team early in year two if I were a Raiders follower.

Hey, I’m allowed to nitpick. Technically it is “year two” for JaMarcus Russell, but he only made one start last season. King’s statement could mislead a less informed football fan into believing that Russell has a full season of starting under his belt. In reality, this was only Russell’s third game as a starter AND his team won.

h. The one crazy stat that’s incongruous to me: Against Buffalo and San Francisco, two teams with middle-rung offenses at best, Seattle’s allowed 67 points.

The 49ers returned an interception 86 yards for a touchdown in Week 2.

The Bills had two special teams touchdowns in their win against Seattle in Week 1.

That’s a total of 21 points scored by non-offensive units. Seattle’s defense still allowed a lot of points in the first two weeks of the season (46), but it is misleading for King to place the blame for Seattle’s woes solely upon its shoulders.

Brady: GOAT (Greatest Of All Time?)

September 17, 2008

I really hate using my “Ace in the hole” right away like this, but Mr. Doofus said something that cannot be ignored. In this week’s MMQB Tuesday Edition, King responds to an emailer’s question about Tom Brady’s legacy with the following quote:

“Not sure I’ve heard anyone call Brady the greatest of all-time.”

Knowing King’s work as well as I do, I knew it wouldn’t be very hard to find a quote contradicting this statement from one of King’s own articles. And, lo and behold, I did:

“Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are already among the alltime greats.” Nov. 6th 2007

I love it when he makes declarative sentences because that is usually when he gets himself into trouble later on. But as this second quote from Oct 27th 2007 reveals, he can also be done in by what he “thinks:”

Tony Kornheiser asked Ron Jaworski Monday night on ESPN who he thought is better right now — Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Jaworski looked like he’d rather answer this question: “Which of your daughters is your favorite?” The answer is simple. We’re living in an era with three of the best 10 quarterbacks (Manning, Brady, Brett Favre) ever to play. We’ll have years to debate what order you’d put them in, and more great ones will be added as time passes. But I go back to point one: To pick one is not to discredit another.

Two years ago, I’d have picked Brady, based on his tradition of winning and being able to win a game when the whole thing was put on his shoulders. After 2006, I’d have picked the monkey-off-his-back Manning — and I did pick him as the best player in football in that list of 500 players you all loved so much.

Now? I’d probably sway back to Brady, because he has shown how dominant he can be with a big-league receiving stable. I wish we’d have heard what Jaws really thought last night, because he watches each guy on game tape every week, but he ended up flipping a coin to make his choice. I think these two quarterbacks will rank in the top five of all time. Maybe 1-2, in some order. To say 15 years ago you liked Marino over Elway wasn’t a knock on Elway. Same thing now.

These two quotes from King’s archives serve to reveal that not only did SOMEONE suggest that Brady might be the best quarterback of all-time, but that King himself has been an active participant in this line of discussion on more than one occasion, which completely contradicts his statement from this Tuesday.

King Says, Benji Says (Week 2)

September 12, 2008

Last Week:

Peter King (8-8)
Benji (9-7)
(and for those of you who care) Brian (9-7)

Well, you can chalk up a victory for me in Week One, but it was hardly an impressive win. Note to self: Never pick three teams that were terrible the previous year (the Lions, Bengals and Raiders) to win in Week One (the Bengals and Lions on the road!), just because their opponents are shaky and/or unproven. Really, as fellow Patriots fans, King and I were both losers last week, as Tom Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury. While this injury had very little effect on my postseason predictions (it certainly affected King’s Super Bowl pick though!), it is sad to see arguably the league’s best quarterback stuck on the sidelines for an entire season during the prime of his career. Brady’s injury also denies the rest of the league the opportunity to play against and defeat the Patriots at full-strength, something that any competitive player who was embarrassed by them last year would relish. That being said, King, I implore you to come to grips with life after Brady and remember that there are 31 other teams in the NFL. And please do not use my plea as an excuse to focus all of your attention on the Jets and your other favorite person in the world, Brett Favre.

Anyway, without further ado, the doofus and I are at it again. Game on, Mr. King!

Tennessee Titans (0-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-0)

King says:

Pointed words from Marvin Lewis Thursday morning on Sirius NFL Radio, regarding the lousy passing game he saw in the opener … and he was pointing at the marquee receivers, not the marquee quarterback. “They are two very proud guys who know they didn’t help us in the opener,” Lewis said of Chad Whatever His Name Is This Week and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 20, Cincinnati Bengals 13

Benji says:

King, I believe that both you and Coach Lewis are missing the point here. Neither the marquee quarterback nor the marquee receivers CAN help the team win without more consistent play from the offensive line. Palmer rarely had enough time to throw any medium or deep passes last season because his protection was horrendous. The defensive specialist’s (Lewis) defense also looked pretty awful on Sunday, allowing the hardly fleet-footed Joe Flacco to take off and run for a long touchdown. But all of this is beside the point. King, why are you picking the road team to win (without dedicating a single word to it) when you frame your analysis to suggest that Marvin Lewis is firing up his best players by talking about them to the media? I am also picking the Titans, but unlike you I will take the time to explain why I am doing so. Tennessee’s defense looked very impressive in the win over Jacksonville last week, sacking quarterback David Garrard seven times and forcing him to commit an uncharacteristic three turnovers. While the Titans’ quarterback play was shaky last week, and starter Vince Young is out for the next month, I think that Kerry Collins will make just enough positive plays to allow the defense and running game to propel them to a road victory against a mediocre team.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 24, Cincinnati Bengals 17

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)

King says:

Catch the ball, Braylon.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Cleveland Browns 20

Benji says:

So, I am to take it that Braylon Edwards was solely responsible for the debacle that was the Browns’ opening week loss to the Cowboys? Okay, he did miss a couple of easy catches, but one should not ignore how terrible their “revamped” defense was. Romeo Crennel can help his team make the necessary adjustments offensively, but I am not convinced that their defense is any better than last year’s shaky squad. I think that Big Ben and the Steelers, who looked pretty impressive on all counts last week, will make short work of the Cleveland defense and roll to victory on the road. After all, the Browns have NEVER beaten the Steelers since Crennel became the coach.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Cleveland Browns 20

San Diego Chargers (0-1) at Denver Broncos (1-0)

King says:

Too many nicked up Chargers. Shawne Merriman takes a seat till 2009, and now LaDainian Tomlinson joins Antonio Gates with a bum toe. The Broncos are new and improved. Jay Cutler is going to be really good. He’s got two good tackles to protect him — Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris. This game could go a long way toward establishing Denver as a contender.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 30, San Diego Chargers 26

Benji says:

You know what, King? You were right about the Broncos/Raiders game last week, I’ll give you that. Cutler did look pretty impressive and the (apparently reanimated) corpse of Darrell Jackson and unheralded rookie Eddie Royal got open at will in the secondary. But I am not about to fall victim to flawed logic two weeks in a row with the same team. I should not have bet against the Broncos when they were facing a team (the Raiders) that was terrible last year just because they were on the road. By that same logic, I should know better than to pick the Broncos to win against the Chargers (a team that was very good last year) simply because they are at home and the Chargers lost last week. Believe me, San Diego’s defense will be much better this week without a clearly hobbled Shawne Merriman. His replacement, Jyles Tucker, is a solid player with a similar skill set to Merriman’s and should fill in nicely. Gates and Tomlinson are both a little banged up but King is overstating their injuries. The Chargers’ offense looked fine last week. As for Denver? The Broncos looked good, at times, last year too, so it’s going to take more than a win over the Raiders to convince me that they are relevant again.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 31, Denver Broncos 24

Green Bay Packers (1-0) at Detroit Lions (0-1)

King says:

Aaron Rodgers continues to be the game manager Mike McCarthy covets. He’ll need to be over the next few weeks, with the ouchy status of Ryan Grant’s hammy.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 23, Detroit Lions 13

Benji says:

I love the backhanded compliment that King bestows upon Rodgers after a very solid game against King’s beloved Vikings. All he “managed” to do was score first, make every throw that was asked of him and put the Packers in a position to win against a good defense. Green Bay did play a little conservatively in the fourth quarter, almost allowing the Vikings to forge a comeback, but that was McCarthy’s doing, not Rodgers’s. He is not Trent Dilfer; he is a more than competent starting quarterback who will lead this talented Packers team all the way to the Super Bowl. There, I said it. Again. As for the Lions? Shame on me for picking them to win last week in Atlanta. They still stink.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 28, Detroit Lions 10

Oakland Raiders (0-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)

King says:

Herman Edwards took offense — not in an over-the-top way, but just a little — at me calling them the worst team in football before the game in New England last week. The Chiefs didn’t play like number 32 in Foxboro. But I think JaMarcus Russell does just enough against the two rookie Brandons in the secondary — Flowers and Carr — to win.

Prediction: Oakland Raiders 10, Kansas City Chiefs 6

Benji says:

I am a bit confused, King. You told me that the Raiders would play terribly at home last week, and you were right. And now you are picking them to win a game on the road against a defense that looked very solid last week against the Patriots. I mean, I know it was Cassel out there and not Brady, but when the Patriots did score, they did so by beating a disciplined defense with accurate throws to very talented receivers (Moss and Welker). The Raiders did not look like they had a single receiver, last week, that could even catch a ball—until they padded their stats during garbage time. Plus, their defense was horrible. The defensive back formerly known as DeAngelo Hall was burned by a rookie on practically every single play. I know you picked the Chiefs as the league’s worst team going into the season, but I think that the results of the first week illustrate that there are several other teams out there with equal or better claims to that title—including the Raiders.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 24, Oakland Raiders 13

New York Giants (1-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-1)

King says:

Game two is not as shameful as game one for the Rams. But this team needs to get a pass rush, and soon.

Prediction: New York Giants 30, St. Louis Rams 16

Benji says:

An offensive line that can block might help the Rams too. Oh, they could also try to find someone other than Holt who can catch the ball. The defending Super Bowl Champions have a very favorable opening schedule, it would seem…

Prediction: New York Giants 28, St. Louis Rams 10

Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Minnesota Vikings (0-1)

King says:

I have no idea who will win this game. How could you? One part of me says Jared Allen on turf, along with the Williams brothers inside, will ravage the patchwork Indy line. The other part says the Colts, who hadn’t lost a September game since 2004 till last Sunday, will rebound. In the end, I go the predictable route — Peyton over Tarvaris.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 27, Minnesota Vikings 23

Benji says:

Mr. King, I feel as though you are too hesitant to listen to the “first part of you.” After all, your prediction that the Vikings’ revamped pass rush would wreck havoc on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers went horribly awry. Such a prediction would make much more sense this week, with the Vikings at home, against a team with a banged-up and depleted offensive line, a starting running back playing hurt, a star tight end unable to play due to injury, and a quarterback working his way back from knee surgery. I know that I picked the Colts to win it all, and I still believe in them—but there’s will certainly be a late-season run fueled by everyone returning to good health.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 20, Indianapolis Colts 17

New England Patriots (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0)

King says:

Who’d have thought two weeks ago the big players in this game would be Matt Cassel and Jay Feely? Cassel, the Patriots quarterback, plays with enough poise to eke one out, and Feely, just signed to kick for the ailing Mike Nugent, almost spoils Cassel’s first start in nine years.

Prediction: New England Patriots 20, New York Jets 19

Benji says:

Shame on you, King. Here we are, in a situation where a Favre reference actually would be relevant, and you fail to mention him once. Cassel is no Brady, but he’s familiar enough with the Patriots’ system and has enough offensive weapons around him to be an effective quarterback. Favre, however, has an excellent opportunity to position his team as a contender for the AFC East crown. The Patriots’ secondary is quite weak and I think that Favre and speedy wide receiver Jericho Cotchery will take advantage.

Prediction: New York Jets 28, New England Patriots 21

Miami Dolphins (0-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-0)

King says:

It is not a coincidence, I believe, that Kurt Warner and Chad Pennington will duel in the NFL’s largest retirement community.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 22, Miami Dolphins 20

Benji says:

I’m not sure what to make of King’s analysis here, except to conclude that he must be making a veiled John McCain reference. Go Mavericks! err, bad team that has more playmakers and has the home-field advantage…

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 24, Miami Dolphins 17

Buffalo Bills (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

King says:

I bet players have not felt very comfy in the Jaguar locker room this week. Jack Del Rio is not a very happy man when he gets his lunch handed to him.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 30, Buffalo Bills 16

Benji says:

While I tend to agree with your assessment of Coach Del Rio’s temperament after an embarrassing loss, do not count the Bills out just yet. Buffalo is a team on the rise, and they have all of the pieces (a good defense, solid special teams, and a much-improved offense) in place to contend for a wildcard spot. That being said, Del Rio will have his team fired up and ready to defend its home turf after an atrocious loss to the Titans last week. I just think it will be a closer game than you might expect. Remember, the Jaguars lost two starting guards last week.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 20, Buffalo Bills 17

San Francisco 49ers (0-1) at Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

King says:

See above. Substitute “Mike Holmgren” for “Jack Del Rio.”

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 40, San Francisco 49ers 17

Benji says:

The difference between Jack Del Rio’s team and Mike Holmgren’s team is that while both teams played very poorly last week and lost, the Jaguars have the offensive personnel to rebound this week and have a good season while the Seahawks do not. I expected Seattle to lose big in Buffalo last week and it did. The Seahawks have a patchwork offensive line, their top four receivers are out with injuries, their running game is a logjam of ineffective running backs, and to top it all off, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck now has a bum back. The defense will have to play very well in order for the Seahawks to win games at this point. The 49ers, as Brian has informed me, were somehow still within a score during the fourth quarter in their game against the Cardinals despite turning the ball over five times. Whether that was the result of San Francisco miscues or good defense by the Cardinals remains to be seen. I know one thing for sure: the final score line will not be anything close to King’s prediction of 40-17. I believe that if the 49ers can take care of the ball this week and make a few plays offensively, they will win this game.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 19, Seattle Seahawks 6

Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)

King says:

Welcome to Monte Kiffin’s world, Matt Ryan. Prepare to see many things you didn’t see on film during the week.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, Atlanta Falcons 9

Benji says:

While I do not think that things will come as easy for the Falcons offensively this week, against a solid if not spectacular Tampa Bay defense, the Buccaneers have offensive issues of their own that seem much more troubling. Brian Griese, the quarterback who could not beat out either of the terrible twosome of Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton for the starting job in Chicago, will start in place of the injured Jeff Garcia. Griese has, on occasion, beaten up on a bad defense, which is probably why he still has a job in this league, but he is not a very good quarterback. The Falcons have an opportunity here to steal a win on the road.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 20, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

New Orleans Saints (1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1)

King says:

Worst road teams in week one, in order: Houston, St. Louis, Seattle, Washington. The Redskins offense, and Jason Campbell, will be better (can it be worse?) at home with the Saints coming in, but at this point, there’s no doubt Drew Brees is more apt to put up big numbers than Campbell.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 26, Washington Redskins 20

Benji says:

I never know exactly what to make of the Redskins, because whenever I think I have them figured out, they do something completely unexpected. Thus, I am unwilling to write them off completely after Week One. The offense looked pretty terrible in the opening game though. Zorn looked about as lost as I have ever seen a coach look on the sideline. Campbell looked confused and took far too long on his reads, allowing the pass rush to reach him on almost every single play. Drew Brees and company, on the other hand, showcased what looks to be a very effective big play-oriented offense this season. Losing number one receiver Marques Colston for several weeks will hurt, but this team has enough offensive weapons to replace him in the short term. I was also impressed by the Saints’ defense, which made a goal line stand at the end of the game to preserve the win. Maybe the Redskins will…pull a Redskins, and come out looking like a completely different team. I still like the Saints here, though.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 28, Washington Redskins 17

Chicago Bears (1-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)

King says:

All you out there who thought the Panthers would go 2-0 without Steve Smith, raise your hands. Now, now, Mrs. Fox. Your vote doesn’t count.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 23, Chicago Bears 15

Benji says:

I will admit, I also was not sold on the Panthers going into the season, but they looked pretty impressive last week, beating the Chargers in San Diego. Jake Delhomme looked much sharper than I expected, coming off of Tommy John surgery, and it has become increasingly clearer to me that he is the key player for this team, not Steve Smith. Without him, last year, their offense was abysmal. The Bears also played very well in Week One, handing the Colts their first September loss since my freshman year of college. Still, Chicago better hope that their defense is as good now as it was two years ago, because it will have to shoulder the majority of the workload with Kyle Orton leading the offense. On the bright side, a Forte/Kevin Jones running back tandem looks infinitely better than Cedric Benson did last year. Anyway, I think that the Panthers will score just enough points to dispatch the offensively anemic Bears.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 17, Chicago Bears 12

Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Houston Texans (0-1)

King says:

The most uninspiring game of the weekend. Not sure what the sales pitch for this one would be. Maturation of Flacco? Redemption of Schaub? Nothing very sexy here.

Prediction: Houston Texans 16, Baltimore Ravens 6

Benji says:

Well, you could start by talking about the Hurricane Ike storyline. I assume that you occasionally watch the news, Mr. King? This game has already been moved to Monday night and could possibly be postponed until the middle of the week depending on the damage from Ike, which will make landfall early Saturday morning. As for a player to use for a “sales pitch,” you could do worse than Houston receiver Andre Johnson, one of the best downfield threats in the NFL. Johnson compiled 851 receiving yards last season in only nine games, despite being the focus of every defense he faced because of the Texans’ lack of a reliable supporting receiver. You could also make a case for the revival of the Ravens’ defense, but I think that storyline is short-lived. The offense scored its only points on a trick play and an improbable run by quarterback Joe Flacco, and will inevitably tire out the defense with its inability to move the ball and maintain possession.

Prediction: Houston Texans 17, Baltimore Ravens 13

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Dallas Cowboys (1-0)

King says:

Donovan McNabb did not face the rush or the coverage or stadium raucousness against St. Louis that he’ll face at Texas Stadium Monday. I think he’s going to have to win a shootout in order to start 2-0.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 28, Philadelphia Eagles 23

Benji says:

It scares me when King and I are in complete agreement. Last week, in several instances when this happened, we were quite wrong. Anyway, I say that the jury’s still out on the Eagles and Donovan McNabb. McNabb fooled me into thinking he was back to his peak form last year by piling up 381 yards passing in a 56-21 win over the Lions. I proceeded to overrate the Eagles for the rest of the year. Last week’s 38-3 win over the Rams could be a similarly misleading game, for all I know. St. Louis, like Detroit, has one of the worst defenses in the league. I know that McNabb can beat a team with a sloppy secondary and no pass rush, but Monday’s game in Dallas will give a better indication of how good the Eagles actually are. The Cowboys looked great, as well, in Week One but I am still concerned about their lack of depth at receiver. An injury to Owens, Crayton or Witten could really hurt this team down the road.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 28, Philadelphia Eagles 23

Favre Favre Favre Patriots!

September 11, 2008

In this week’s MMQB Tuesday Edition, King wrote the following with regards to Brett Favre’s retirement status and the Patriots’ quarterback situation in the aftermath of Tom Brady’s season-ending knee injury:

But my very, very strong opinion is that had Favre stayed retired, and if Brady got hurt, and if the Patriots came calling (which they most certainly would have), Favre would be in Foxboro today.

Only in the world of Peter King do three “if” statements make something a certainty [note: Benji actually pointed this out to me, but I’ll take the credit for it]. What bothers me more than just the sheer speculation and absurdity of this assertion (remember, King originally thought that Favre would stay retired, as he wrote at the bottom of the page) is that King dubbed the reader who contributed the idea “Emailer of the year” for his suggestion. I mean, Favre on the Patriots? That would combine King’s two favorite things in the world. I suppose one can hardly be surprised that he devoted two paragraphs of analysis to entertaining the idea of this fictional marriage.

Doofus Returns (Right on Schedule)

September 9, 2008



This week in MMQB, King wrote: So what do you think of a 17-game season now? Anyone for 18? It can’t happen, folks. It shouldn’t happen. I’m not so naïve as to think if there’s a few more pieces of gold under some TV network rock that the NFL won’t find it.

Obviously King has the right to have an opinion, but last year he wrote an entire MMBQ about the scheduling and what he predicted would happen, and did not seem to have any strong feelings about the issue either way. Here are his words, regarding the addition of a 17th game: But the league’s going to do something. I feel sure of that. And this 17th-game concept, if the players union gets the same-percentage cut of the pie as it has for the existing 16, is the most logical way of doing it.

He concludes that, despite the increased risk of injury, the NFL will eventually increase the schedule to 17 or 18 games in the future.

He wrote in MMQB this week: I maintain the only way to go is to slash the preseason to two exhibition games (one, even), plus two scrimmages, with the bottom 40 or 45 on each roster meeting at neutral sites.

There’s a pretty good quote floating around that counters King’s argument that reducing the games in the preseason will prevent injuries. It’s from Bill Polian, the president of the Indianapolis Colts:

“In order to play football, you have to condition your body for contact. And you have to get that contact, I believe, in a game-type atmosphere, where you adjust mentally to an opponent and what he’s going to do. I think you also have to adjust to the cycle of playing games, the weekly cycle of preparing and playing and recovering. Then there’s the test of seeing how players perform when the lights are on in the crucible of competition. It’s why I love this fourth preseason game coming up. We’ll play all the bubble guys and it’ll be the big Petri-dish game for them. It will decide whether we keep five or four tight ends, six or five wide receivers.

Where did I find that great quote, blasting the notion of reducing the number of games in the preseason? I got it from Peter King, in that same article from last year.

King is a huge Patriots fan and a huge Brady fan. He probably likes Brady only slightly less than he likes Favre (his affection for Favre has reached a “Madden-like” level). I do not buy the logic that a player getting hurt in Week One is an indicator that the season is too long. Brady didn’t even play in the preseason, so you cannot argue that he took punishment during those four games. If he got hurt near the end of the season, like Jeremy Shockey did last year, that is a more valid argument. Players get hurt every week (during all 17 weeks of the season), but it took Brady’s injury to convince King that the NFL should not expand the number of games. Brady could have been injured at the beginning of a 16 game season, a four game season, or a 100 game season! Any way that you look at it, he was knocked out for the year in the first game; it doesn’t matter how long the season is, he got hurt on a fluke play in the first game and no scheduling fix can prevent that type of situation from occurring.

I wouldn’t “Banks” on it

September 9, 2008

Well, I’m annoyed that Peter King didn’t mess up any stats, say anything infuriating, or pontificate like a doofus in his MMQB this week. I’m sure I can find something, but I’ve made two passes over the article and nothing sticks out [editor’s note: we found some things].

Luckily for me, there is always Don Banks, another “esteemed” NFL writer for SI.com who churns out articles that demand constructive criticism. While it’s usually best to approach Banks with a “Don’t ever read Don Banks” attitude, desperate times call for desperate Don.

In Banks’s Week 1 Snap Shots, he wrote, Just last week I predicted that this would be the year that New England’s luck ran out and it would have to make due without Brady for a time,” and he hyperlinked to the part where he predicted the injury. Not believing that he could have predicted something correctly, I checked his earlier article. Here is his prediction that he “got right:”

Speaking of ironman quarterbacks, this will be the year New England finally has to come face to face with its greatest fear: Trying to win a game or three without Tom Brady. We’re not predicting major gloom and doom for the Patriots, like a season-ending whatever to the league’s reigning MVP. But with New England’s offensive line suddenly a point of real concern, protecting the Franchise won’t be as seamless as the Patriots have made it look in recent years.

I do think that Banks deserves half credit, because he got the Brady injury part half right. But he needs to acknowledge that his words were, “[I’m] not predicting. . . a season-ending injury,” and Brady subsequently had a season-ending injury; he cannot rightfully claim to have correctly predicted something that he actually claimed WOULD NOT happen.