King Says, Benji Says (Week 4)

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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

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