King Says, Benji Says (Week 7)

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The unthinkable has finally happened—after four consecutive losing weeks, I came back to edge His Majesty in the correct picks column, 9-8. Will Week 6 be the week that I finally came to my senses and swung the picking momentum in my favor? Or will it instead be an anomaly in the picking season of The King’s life? Only time will tell. For now, I’ve got some of my swagger back…

Last Week:

Peter King (8-6)
Benji (9-5)
Brian (8-6)

Overall:

Peter King (59-29)
Benji (50-38)
Brian (52-36)

San Diego Chargers (3-3) at Buffalo Bills (4-1)

The King says:

Great game. Game of the week, if you ask me. I say it follows a time-tested NFL script: West Coast team traveling east after an overly emotional, desperation win. Eastern team playing at home with pleasantly surprised fan base that begins drinking game-prep Friday at 5. I do not see good things for the Tomlinsons here, though like every Buffalo game, it’ll be interesting well into the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 23, San Diego Chargers 20

Benji says:

“Overly emotional desperation win”? The Chargers completely dominated the Patriots in every facet of the game and I do not think it all had to do with desperation, Your Majesty. Also, did you not get the memo that this team is no longer the “Tomlinsons”? It’s now the Philip Rivers show. Do not be so quick to dismiss this offense—San Diego is averaging nearly 30 points a game, the best scoring output in the league. Just because Tomlinson is not the same player he was two or three years ago does not mean that the Chargers are not just as dangerous offensively as they were then. Also, I seem to remember the Bills allowing 44 points to Arizona two weeks ago. Buffalo was a great story at 4-0, but they did not play a team with a good passing game until Week 5. Their first loss came that week, in blowout fashion. Coincidence? I think not…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 30, Buffalo Bills 20

Minnesota Vikings (3-3) at Chicago Bears (3-3)

The King says:

Chants of “Fire Childress” fill the Metrodome air, no Minnesotan knows his quarterback of the future, and we’re only 11 days removed from leaving the Vikings for dead at 1-3. How nutty is it, then, that a win at Soldier Field this week — which I don’t believe is in the cards, but who knows in this nutty league — could give Minnesota sole possession of first place in the NFC North at 4-3?

Prediction: Chicago Bears 19, Minnesota Vikings 10

Benji says:

It’s never a good sign when fans start yelling for the coach’s head during a game. The Vikings have not lived up to their fans’ expectations (but have proved mine correct) and just do not seem to be a playoff caliber team. They were lucky to squeak by winless Detroit last week and capitalized on fluky plays to beat New Orleans the week before. Their luck runs out here, I would imagine. The Bears have a good defense and a surprisingly effective offense. Their Achilles’ heel has been late game defensive lapses in the secondary. It will take another botched fourth quarter by the Bears for the Vikings to gain control of first place in the division. I do not see it happening…

Prediction: Chicago Bears 23, Minnesota Vikings 16

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-6)

The King says:

Very tempted to pick Cincinnati, but I cannot foresee Ryan Fitzpatrick making plays against the well-rested Steelers.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Cincinnati Bengals 13

Benji says:

His Majesty is only tempted to pick the upset because of the two improbable upsets last week. If Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback for the rest of the season, the Bengals might very well go winless. It could happen. He’s that bad.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Cincinnati Bengals 9

Tennessee Titans (5-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-4)

The King says:

Titans off a bye? Hide the women and children. And Chiefs.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 31, Kansas City Chiefs 3

Benji says:

As if this pick was not obvious enough already, word just leaked that the Chiefs suspended starting running back Larry Johnson for the game. Yikes…

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 26, Kansas City Chiefs 3

Dallas Cowboys (4-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-4)

The King says:

Before the game, Jerry Jones walks around the Jones Dome field in a daze. “Tony? Adam? Mat? Felix the Cat? Hey, where’d everybody go?” he says.

Prediction: St. Louis Rams 20, Dallas Cowboys 15

Benji says:

Your Majesty, you seem to forget that perhaps the Cowboys’ most important player, Marion Barber, WILL be playing on Sunday. Assuming that Dallas calls a smart offensive game, he should get 30+ effective carries against the Rams, who are ranked 30th in the league in rushing defense. If the Cowboys establish the run, their passing game will be successful because they have plenty of weapons, regardless of who the quarterback is. Congratulations to Jim Haslett and the Rams, who won their first game last week against a good team (the Redskins) on the road. They were lucky to win, however. Washington out-gained St. Louis 368 yards to 200 and St. Louis did not score an offensive touchdown in the game. Do not count on the Rams getting that lucky two weeks in a row.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 26, St. Louis Rams 15

Baltimore Ravens (2-3) at Miami Dolphins (2-3)

The King says:

Underrated stat of this game: Homestanding Dolphins surrendering only 3.5 yards per rush. That puts the game in Joe Flacco’s hands, barring a slew of Miami turnovers. That translates to a win for the home team.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 20, Baltimore Ravens 9

Benji says:

Methinks we are in agreement, Your Majesty. Joe Flacco is terrible and the Dolphins are not going to turn the ball over enough for the Ravens’ defense to win the game.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 20, Baltimore Ravens 9

San Francisco 49ers (2-4) at New York Giants (4-1)

The King says:

Wouldn’t matter if this week’s foe was the ’78 Steelers or the ’08 Niners. They’re going to get an angry Giants team. The loss to Cleveland means the Giants have gone from having their hands around the throat of the NFC East to being the lead dog in a tight division separated by 1.5 games from top to bottom.

Prediction: New York Giants 30, San Francisco 49ers 10

Benji says:

The ’78 Steelers reference might be slightly hyperbolic, but His Majesty and I are basically in agreement here. The 49ers are not very good and the Giants are going to be very motivated this Sunday after being embarrassed by Cleveland on Monday Night Football. This game could get ugly…

Prediction: New York Giants 33, San Francisco 49ers 15

New Orleans Saints (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (4-2)

The King says:

One of these weeks, Drew Brees is going to complete more passes than he attempts.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 32, Carolina Panthers 23

Benji says:

His Majesty has reached a new record high on the hyperbole scale with his assessment of Drew Brees’s accuracy passing the ball. I like the Saints here, too, since they really need to win this game and their offense is better than Carolina’s solid but not spectacular defense—I’m not nearly as confident as The King, though, because as we have seen so far this year, anything can happen in the NFC South division games. For whatever reason, home-field advantage has been the deciding factor by a huge margin thus far.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 30, Carolina Panthers 28

Indianapolis Colts (3-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-3)

The King says:

This week — at Lambeau, playing an underachieving .500 team — is a great test for the Colts. Are they the classic Indy, a smooth-running Porsche on offense and athletically opportunistic on defense, that routed the Ravens last week? Or the sputtering Colts of the first four weeks? I say they got their groove back last week.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 27, Green Bay Packers 16

Benji says:

Your Majesty, while I do think that Peyton Manning is back on track and will have continued success throwing downfield against Green Bay’s depleted secondary (top cornerback Al Harris is still out and both starting safeties are banged up), keep in mind that the Colts’ starting running back Joseph Addai will miss the game, making the offense somewhat one-dimensional. Also, while the Indianapolis defense looked good against the inept Joe Flacco and an injured Willis McGahee, facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense (which has averaged 26.7 points per game this season) will be a much stiffer test. I have a feeling that both offenses will overshadow the opposing defense, making for an exciting game that will come right down to the wire. For those of you who read my preseason predictions column, you will remember that I picked these two teams to represent their respective conferences in the Super Bowl. That match-up could still happen, but both teams have a lot of work to do in order to get to that point. I am a firm believer in consistency, so in a toss-up game, I will predict the same outcome for this game that I did in my preseason column: a win for the Colts.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 32, Green Bay Packers 30

New York Jets (3-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-4)

The King says:

Congress should investigate if the Jets aren’t in this race till the end. They’re in the midst of a genial four-week stretch, with Bye, Cincinnati, at Oakland, Kansas City on the docket. If I were a real wise guy, I’d say Bye’s the toughest test of the four.

Prediction: New York Jets 23, Oakland Raiders 9

Benji says:

The Raiders are a mess right now. I’m not sure if the Jets’ defense is any good at all, but it matches up well against the Raiders’ offense. The Jets cannot defend the pass effectively, but are third in the league in rushing defense; The Raiders cannot pass the ball effectively (quarterback JaMarcus Russell has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in three of Oakland’s five games and less than 40 percent in two of those games) but have a good running game. Oh, I almost forgot: Brett Favre plays for the Jets. He likes to throw the ball a lot and Oakland’s overpaid secondary has been horrendous this year. Yikes.

Prediction: New York Jets 31, Oakland 9

Cleveland Browns (2-3) at Washington Redskins (4-2)

The King says:

The real Browns are stepping up, apparently. The other night, I thought Cleveland cornerback Eric Wright said precisely the right thing when I asked, “Do you think you guys can still be a playoff team?” His words: “We can’t think about the playoffs. All we can think about is the next practice.” Right answer.

Prediction: Washington Redskins 20, Cleveland Browns 19

Benji says:

The Browns really put on a show in the Monday Night game against the previously undefeated Giants, but they will be hard-pressed to repeat that performance on the road against the Redskins. Washington was embarrassed at home last week by St. Louis and will respond with an inspired effort on Sunday. His Majesty’s score-line looks about right—I think that the Redskins’ defense and running game will keep the score down but the Browns will do just enough offensively to keep things close.

Prediction: Washington Redskins 20, Cleveland Browns 19

Detroit Lions (0-5) at Houston Texans (1-4)

The King says:

Nine people watch this game on TV, and all have the last name “Marinelli.”

Prediction: Houston Texans 27, Detroit Lions 13

Benji says:

It is match-ups like this one that have allowed and will continue to allow Matt Schaub to be the Texans’ starting quarterback. The Lions are ranked 30th in total defense, but more importantly cannot sustain a consistent pass rush. When Schaub is given time to throw, he is very successful; when he is pressured, he makes mistakes. Congratulations, Houston. You can beat up on the Detroit Lions, a winless team that cannot score or defend and whose starting quarterback does not know where the back of the end zone begins. Better start punching your playoff tickets, right?

Prediction: Houston Texans 38, Detroit Lions 13

Seattle Seahawks (1-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)

The King says:

Seneca Wallace fed to wolves! Film at 11! On a lighter note, this is some Sunday-nighter, isn’t it? I hear NBC Sports honcho Dick Ebersol, one of my 432 bosses, had a dream the other night. In the dream, he kept calling Roger Goodell. Over and over and over Ebersol called, and he kept getting one of those old-fashioned, before-the-days-of-voice-mail busy signal, and he could never get through, and he woke up in a cold sweat, screaming, “We’ve got to start flex-scheduling this week, not in November!”

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, Seattle Seahawks 9

Benji says:

I actually think that Charlie Frye will be starting at quarterback for the Seahawks, Your Majesty, not that it would in any way affect the outcome of the game. Seattle has looked really bad on both sides of the ball this year, and with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck out indefinitely the future looks bleak. As for the present, I cannot help but shudder every time that I hear Charlie Frye’s name. Why is this guy still in the league? I think I may shy away from watching this game so as not to give myself nightmares. There’s nothing that scares me more than a completely inept passing game.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34, Seattle Seahawks 13

Denver Broncos (4-2) at New England Patriots (3-2)

The King says:

For all those dancing on the Patriots’ 2008 tombstone, I would say this: New England has averaged 13.2 wins a year over the previous six seasons, and it’s not all because of one player. I still say I’d be stunned if this team doesn’t win seven of its last 11 and contend for January football; five of the next seven are at home, with an eminently sweepable Seattle-Oakland road daily double to follow.

Prediction: New England Patriots 28, Denver Broncos 23

Benji says:

I am not exactly “dancing on the Patriots’ 2008 tombstone”, Your Majesty, but I did lay out an all-black outfit on my bed and pick some roses from my garden. I understand that, as a long-time Patriots fan, you are in denial, but New England is no longer a good team. Tom Brady was not the sole reason that the Patriots were successful, but his injury coincided with key defensive departures (Randall Gay and Asante Samuel) and age finally catching up with linebacker Teddy Bruschi. The defensive line is still one of the best in the league, but overall the defense is a mediocre unit, full of holes that can be exploited by a good offense. And to return to the quarterback situation, over the last two games Matt Cassel has thrown four interceptions as opposed to only two touchdown passes against two middle-of-the-pack defenses. Denver’s defense is not very good, and New England’s offense will probably have more success than it did in San Diego last week—but New England’s defense will not be able to stop Jay Cutler and the Broncos’ passing game, and its offense is not good enough to win a shootout.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 33, New England Patriots 23

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