King Says, Benji Says (Week 8)

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While rumors of my demise have been greatly (or at least somewhat) exaggerated, I do think that I got a bit cocky after my one-game win of two weeks ago. I found out pretty quickly how His Majesty would respond to a threat to his throne. Not only did he get mad, he got even—and by even, I mean the way that Russia got even with Georgia for invading South Ossetia. The King took back the pick I gained, pillaged my lands and, for good measure, grabbed two more picks from me. Like President Mikheil Saakashvili, I’m feeling a little emo at the moment, but unlike Saakashvili, I cannot afford to be emo—I don’t have the rest of Europe and America to save me from utter destruction. Time to take matters into my own hands, I suppose…

Last Week:

Peter King (10-4)
Benji (7-7)
Brian (11-3)


Overall:

Peter King (69-33)
Benji (57-45)
Brian (63-39)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) at Dallas Cowboys (4-3)

The King says:

You know the phrase “all hell breaks loose?” In Dallas, a loss would make that phrase more like “sugar and spice and everything nice,” because if the Cowboys lose, Mount Jones will erupt, followed closely by Hurricane Jerry storming the Metroplex. If the players are ever to respond, now’s the week.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16

Benji says:

His Majesty speaks the truth. I do believe that this game is a prime candidate for my desperation theory: Dallas is a talented team, playing at home, in a game it needs to win. Unlike the sports pundits, I actually thought it was a good move by quarterback Tony Romo to announce that he was not going to be playing again until after the BYE earlier this week. I understand that this news allows Tampa coach Jon Gruden the luxury of only having to prepare for one quarterback this week—more significantly, however, it forces the other Cowboys to realize that they cannot depend on Romo riding in on a white horse to save them. The fate of the Dallas season is no longer in Romo’s hands; it’s in the hands of his very talented but to-date directionless teammates.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Washington Redskins (5-2) at Detroit Lions (0-6)

The King says:

It makes no sense, picking Dan Orlovsky to win an NFL game. But I’ve had pretty good luck with the upset recently — Miami over San Diego, St. Louis over Dallas — and I’ve got the Washington-taking-Detroit-lightly feel here, along with the Marinelli-making-life-miserable-for-his-losers feel. Detroit will play very hard get a few bounces, finally.


Prediction: Detroit Lions 20, Washington Redskins 17

Benji says:

You are correct, Your Majesty, it DOES NOT make any sense to pick Dan Orlovsky to win an NFL game—at least not against a quality opponent with a dominant defense. May I remind you that while the score was close in the Lions’ game against the Texans last week (28-21), Orlovsky completed only 12 of 25 passes against the Texans’ 17th ranked pass defense. Orlovsky finished with 265 passing yards on the day but picked up 96 of them on a fluky score by Calvin Johnson. The Redskins’ defense (which is ranked sixth in the league) is going to give the anemic Lions offense fits all day. The Redskins’ offense is led by Clinton Portis and the running game and the Lions’ run defense has allowed an average of 4.8 yards per carry. I do not think that the Lions will go winless this season but this game is a horrible match-up for them. Also, why would the Redskins take the Lions lightly? Don’t you think they already learned that lesson against the Rams a couple weeks ago?

Prediction: Washington Redskins 24, Detroit Lions 13

Buffalo Bills (5-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-4)

The King says:

Marcus Stroud, rightfully, is getting great ink for solidifying the Bills’ defensive line, particularly against the run. But ask the Chargers why they were held to 263 yards last week in a mostly toothless performance in Orchard Park’s and they’ll credit the unknown Kyle Williams, Stroud’s linemate, for a major role in Buffalo’s front-fortress.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 20, Miami Dolphins 16

Benji says:

I should have seen the Chargers’ loss in Buffalo last Sunday coming a mile away. After handily beating the Patriots the week prior, the Chargers were traveling to play a supposedly lesser opponent—the conditions were perfectly suited for a “trap” or “letdown” game. And you know what, Your Majesty? Buffalo finds itself in a similar situation this week. The Bills just beat a quality opponent at home and are traveling to face a team that they are expected to beat. Buffalo does a lot of things pretty well, but does nothing great. The Chargers struggled to run the ball against the Bills last week and committed stupid turnovers. If the Dolphins can run the ball successfully (Buffalo’s defense is only ranked 17th against the run despite the fact that they have only played two quality opponents) and take care of the football, this upset is in the bag.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 23, Buffalo Bills 16

St. Louis Rams (2-4) at New England Patriots (4-2)

The King says:

I’m saving the headline writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch some time on the job Sunday night. Haslett Honeymoon: History. How’s that? By the way, in case you missed my Tom Brady/Matt Cassel early-career comparison Tuesday, taking Brady’s first six starts and measuring them against Cassel’s first six professional games, here are a few good nuggets. Record: Brady 4-2, Cassel 4-2. Passing yards: Brady 1,105, Cassel 1,095. Completion rate: Brady .632, Cassel .663. Anyone else out there still want to consider Cassel doomed?

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, St. Louis Rams 19

Benji says:

Your Majesty, while you were correct in your insistence that this New England team still has some life to it, I am still not convinced that it is very good. That win against the Broncos came at a price—the Patriots lost safety Rodney Harrison, the one stable player in their secondary, for the season and running back Sammy Morris was also knocked out of the game (no word yet on his status). The Patriots are really thin at defensive back and running back and you have to wonder how many holes Belichick can continue to patch before this team ends up falling apart. They should beat the Rams at home, but I would not be surprised to seem them struggle a bit in this game. If a defense cannot stop the run (the Patriots are allowing 4.5 yards per carry, 25th in the league) and has a shaky secondary, its team cannot make the playoffs without a dominant offense, which the Patriots, Monday Night’s performance against the second worst defense in the league aside, clearly do not have.

Prediction: New England Patriots 23, St. Louis Rams 20

San Diego Chargers (3-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (3-4) (at London)

The King says:

Should be a better offensive show than the putrid Giants-Dolphins rain game at Wembley last year, though the two poster men for this game are not at all themselves these days. Reggie Bush is back in the States recovering from arthroscopic left knee surgery Monday. LaDainian Tomlinson is trying, but his injured big toe prevents him from classic L.T.-ness. The NFL is exporting a terrific game, with two 3-4 playoff-caliber teams fighting for their playoff lives.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 23, New Orleans Saints 17

Benji says:

The concept of “consistency” is lost on these two teams. After blowout victories the week before, I picked both the Chargers and Saints to win last week and they both put forth rather lackluster performances. Teams like these frustrate me, because they play so well at times against good teams that you are almost handcuffed into picking them to win only to watch them lose to teams that they should beat. Anyway, the loser of this game is likely out of the playoff race. Normally in this type of situation, I would pick the home team by default, but this is not a normal situation. The two teams are playing in a neutral site, in London, as a part of the league’s ill-advised attempt to market the game overseas. In a tossup, I’ll go with San Diego, just because I think that its defense has the potential to be good while New Orleans’s secondary is absolutely atrocious.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 30, New Orleans Saints 27

Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) at New York Jets (3-3)

The King says:

Not exactly the triumphant return to stately East Rutherford that prodigal son Herman Edwards envisioned, and there’s a reason for that: The Chiefs stink, and Tyler Thigpen is playing quarterback. This one’s going to be ugly.

Prediction: New York Jets 40, Kansas City Chiefs 6

Benji says:

While I agree that the Chiefs have no chance of winning this game, Your Majesty, how can you predict that the Jets will score 40 points against them? They only put up 13 against the nearly as hapless Raiders last week. I guess maybe you are accounting for the good field position that Thigpen will give Favre and co. after each of his many turnovers before he gets pulled from the game. Still, the Jets do not look like a very good team at the moment…

Prediction: New York Jets 23, Kansas City Chiefs 9

Atlanta Falcons (4-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)

The King says:

Love this game. Philly kid born-and-bred Matt Ryan plays on the block where his football and baseball heroes played, and he plays very, very well against Jim Johnson’s bait-and-switch changeup defenses. In fact, it takes a touchdown pass from the quarterback he’s watched since his freshman year in high school, Donovan McNabb, to beat back the NFL’s hottest young quarterback. By the way, I wonder how many Eagles will walk across the street after the game to see Game 4 of the World Series.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, Atlanta Falcons 22

Benji says:

This Falcons team has exceeded my expectations for it at every turn so far this season, but I think that I agree with your pick, Your Majesty. My version of the desperation theory is in play again: the Eagles are playing at home, are a talented team, and need to win this game in order to stay in the playoff hunt. Also, Brian Westbrook will be back in uniform for the Eagles and with him in the lineup, they have one of the most dangerous offenses in the league.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, Atlanta Falcons 20

Arizona Cardinals (4-2) at Carolina Panthers (5-2)

The King says:

If my predictions of Oakland and Arizona losing are correct, by 4 p.m. Sunday, the NFL’s Stat of the Half-Season will be this: Pacific and Mountain Time Zone teams playing in Eastern time this year will be 0-13.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 23, Arizona Cardinals 13

Benji says:

While I find this time zone change theory a little half-baked, I cannot argue with the statistical outcomes this season, especially after San Diego’s loss in Buffalo last week. I like Carolina here, as well, but I am going to shy away from your argument, Your Majesty, and focus on these particular teams. The Panthers have been very good at home this season (4-0) and the Cardinals have struggled on the road (1-2). In those three road contests, the Cardinals lost a close game to a good team (the Redskins), got blown out by a mediocre team (the Jets) and struggled to beat a bad team (the 49ers)—not exactly a resume that is likely to sway me to pick them here. The Panthers, at home, proved just last week that they are capable of shutting down an elite passing game when they blew out Drew Brees and the Saints and held them to just seven points. I want to believe, Arizona—if for no other reason than to see this stupid time zone theory fall on its face—but your track record gives me no reason to do so.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 23, Arizona Cardinals 20

Oakland Raiders (2-4) at Baltimore Ravens (3-3)

The King says:

The Raiders fly east with all the pride and momentum of a win over the Jets. The Ravens will knock the confidence out of them, early and often.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 27, Oakland Raiders 3

Benji says:

Sadly, because there was no other game on at the time, I watched every second of the Jets/Raiders stinker last Sunday. It was really pretty pathetic. In the overtime period, both teams kept exchanging punts and I thought for sure that the game was going to end in a tie. Luckily, Sebastian Janikowski and his golden leg put the game out of its misery before it got to that point, but neither team deserved to win. They were both terrible. The Ravens looked great last week against the Dolphins and boast the league’s top ranked run defense (allowing only 2.8 yards per carry)—a terrible match-up for the Raiders, whose offense is entirely reliant on the ground game.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 23, Oakland Raiders 9

New York Giants (5-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1)

The King says:

Matchup of the game: Outside ‘backer LaMarr Woodley over the top of Giants right tackle Kareem McKenzie. Matchup of the game II: Troy Polamalu coming down into the box to stop megaback Brandon Jacobs. What a fun game this will be to watch.


Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, New York Giants 13

Benji says:

I agree with you, Your Majesty, this should be the best of the Sunday games. Both teams are very good, but in my mind the Giants have not yet proven themselves. They have only beaten one quality team, the Redskins, and that was back in Week One. Over the last two weeks, they have been blown out by the previously and subsequently offensively challenged Browns and won a sloppy game against the 49ers, a team that fired its coach later in the week. Having watched both of those games rather closely, I have surmised that the Giants’ pass rush is much weaker than it was earlier in the season. I am not altogether surprised, given that they lost both of their defensive ends from last year’s team, but at the beginning of the season their defensive scheming to cover up the weakness at this position was infinitely more effective. Perhaps opposing coaches have figured them out, to a certain extent? The only thing holding back Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense is his pass-protection but I do not see it being an issue in this match-up. As for the Giants’ offense, Brandon Jacobs is running harder than ever and is a nightmare for opposing linebackers whom he outweighs and can outrun. Eli Manning, though, has looked a little shaky as of late (he had three interceptions against the Browns and barely completed 50 percent of his passes against the 49ers) and he has yet to face a defense of Pittsburgh’s caliber. The Steelers’ defense is ranked second in the league in run defense, first in pass defense and first in total defense. Finally, the Giants’ top receiver, Plaxico Burress, will probably not play on Sunday, leaving New York undermanned for its toughest test to date. My money’s on Big Ben and the Steelers…

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 23, New York Giants 16

Seattle Seahawks (1-5) at San Francisco 49ers (2-5)

The King says:

The Mike Singletary debut is a fun story. The generosity of J.T. O’Turnover ruins it.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 27, San Francisco 49ers 20

Benji says:

Ok, Your Majesty, so J.T. O’Sullivan is not exactly the heir apparent to Steve Young out in San Francisco that many of you in the media made him out to be a couple weeks into the season. He might look like Steve Young in this game though. Seattle’s defense cannot stop the run, generate a consistent pass rush or guard receivers in the secondary. In the first match-up between these two teams, in Seattle, O’Sullivan threw for 321 yards and DID NOT turn the ball over once as the 49ers escaped with a 33-30 overtime win. The second time around, I would not expect this game to be much of a shootout, with either Charlie Frye or Seneca Wallace replacing the injured Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback for the Seahawks. Here’s a statistic that you should note, Your Majesty: over the last two games with Frye and Wallace playing quarterback, the Seahawks have failed to accumulate over 200 yards of offense in either contest. A final note: from hearing Coach Singletary speak, I would surmise that he is a very motivated coach who believes in this team and I think that this positive energy will translate onto the football field. Remember that Rams team that you so proudly picked to win after they changed coaches?

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 28, Seattle Seahawks 13

Cleveland Browns (2-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)

The King says:

At halftime, out of earshot of the team, Romeo Crennel walks up to offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and asks: “Do you have any idea whatsoever what makes Derek Anderson tick?”


Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 20, Cleveland Browns 10

Benji says:

I could go on a rant here and take the Browns’ offense to task for its inconsistency this season, but what this game really boils down to is the following stat: Cleveland’s run defense is ranked 27th in the league, allowing 4.8 yards per carry. No Matt Jones (and no cocaine supply) for the Jaguars? No problem. All they need to do is hand the ball off to Jones-Drew and Taylor, and the yards will pile up, the clock will run down and the game will end with Jacksonville on top. This formula has worked so well for Jacksonville over the past two seasons…

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 20, Cleveland Browns 10

Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) at Houston Texans (2-4)

The King says:

At some point, I expect Marvin Lewis’ head to explode. Not sure when, but it’s only a matter of time.

Prediction: Houston Texans 30, Cincinnati Bengals 12

Benji says:

As the Bengals are incapable of creating a pass rush, I know that Matt Schaub will have another big game. He really thrives against terrible defenses. However, I do not, for one second, trust the Texans’ defense. Houston allowed Detroit to turn a 21-0 deficit into a 28-21 close margin in the blink of an eye. Cincinnati, even with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, may have a shot to win this game.

Prediction: Houston Texans 31, Cincinnati Bengals 28

Indianapolis Colts (3-3) at Tennessee Titans (6-0)

The King says:

You read it here first: A Colts loss would end their five-year streak of division titles by putting them four games behind the Titans with nine to play — including games against New England (home) and Pittsburgh (road) in the next two weeks.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 23, Indianapolis Colts 13

Benji says:

Are the Colts the rejuvenated team that put up 31 points against the Ravens’ vaunted defense or the disappointing one that struggled to score against the Packers’ banged up secondary last week? Peyton Manning has struggled to play consistently from week to week. If he can throw for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns against the Ravens, I know that he CAN put enough points on the board to beat the Titans—the question is, will he? I think he will, because this is a must-win game for the Colts. They are too far back to win the division at this point, but with a win in this game they can put themselves in position to compete for a wild card spot. I don’t mean to sell the Titans short—their defense has only allowed one passing touchdown to date, after all. Still, they really have not played a very difficult schedule so far and the Colts need to win this game much more than they do.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 26, Tennessee Titans 19

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One Response to “King Says, Benji Says (Week 8)”

  1. Jessie Gurd Says:

    …That’s a Neopet there on the left. Yes, it’s sad I know that.

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