King Says, Benji Says (Week 9)

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Trick or Treat?!? I believe I just heard a collective sigh of disappointment in response to my choice of costume for this occasion—after all, it’s pretty much impossible for a ghost to show any skin. But as I am no longer a college-age girl, I thought it was a good time to try to bring Halloween back to its traditional spooky roots, my sex appeal be damned. As for His Majesty? Don’t be fooled, he’s not wearing a costume—he really is the Pumpkin King. The overweight, doofusy sportswriter whom he usually presents himself as is an alter ego. Come on, can’t you see the resemblance?

Last Week:

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

Overall:

Peter King (78-38)
Benji (66-50)
Brian (72-44)

New York Jets (4-3) at Buffalo Bills (5-2)

The King says:

Everyone’s looking for reasons why Brett Favre is throwing up some of his folly floaters in the first seven weeks of his Jets career. I am too. My guess: His shoulder hurts, dating back to a hit in the Cincinnati game. Just a guess, and he told me he’s always sore this time of year. But I’m not seeing the same fastballs I’ve seen from him. He’ll need a few, accurately thrown, to win this game.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 27, New York Jets 15

Benji says:

I think it’s official: The Jets are not any good and the Packers made the right decision to let Favre go, regardless of whether or not he is injured right now. I have been riding the Jets as a sleeper playoff pick all year, but I think that it’s about time I jumped off the bandwagon. Two straight terrible games by Favre against bad defenses (a road loss to the Raiders and a comeback win at home against the hapless Chiefs) coupled with inconsistent play by the defense have led me to believe that this team is not going to challenge for the division title after all. The Bills are not the best team in the world, but they are above average in every aspect of the game and they do not commit many turnovers (last week’s debacle against the Dolphins not withstanding).

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 26, New York Jets 19

Detroit Lions (0-7) at Chicago Bears (4-3)

The King says:

Look on the bright side, Detroit: Jason Hanson is perfect this year. Seven games, 20 kicks attempted (11 PAT, nine field goals), 20 made. Let’s see. Any more positives for this team right now? Wait, one more: Martin Mayhew got first- and third-round draft picks for a guy who doesn’t want to be there. That’s it.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 20, Detroit Lions 6

Benji says:

Look on the bright side, Detroit: The Dante Culpepper era is just around the corner. I am not sure if I mean that seriously or sarcastically. There is no way he can be any worse than the other quarterbacks that have suited up for the Lions this year though…

Prediction: Chicago Bears 31, Detroit Lions 19

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)

The King says:

Stat that jumps off the page for this game: last year, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught a combined 205 passes for a 12.6-yard average. This year, BOTH are under 10 yards per reception. Their combined average is 9.6 yards per catch. That’s a lot of third downs not converted.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 23, Cincinnati Bengals 9

Benji says:

Your Majesty, perhaps the drop-off in performance for Chad OCHO CINCO and T.J. Houshmandzadeh has something to do with Ryan Fitzpatrick filling in for the injured Carson Palmer at quarterback? The Bengals are awful right now and if you want an explanation, look no further than the quarterback play.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 26, Cincinnati Bengals 13

Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Cleveland Browns (3-4)

The King says:

What comes out of the bag of tricks this week, offensive coordinators Cam Cameron and Rob Chudzinski, after the 43-yard pass to Joe Flacco and the 51-yard trickery pass to Steve Heiden on fourth-and-one?

Prediction: Cleveland Browns 19, Baltimore Ravens 12

Benji says:

Lost amidst the team’s offensive struggles, the Browns’ defense has emerged as one of the better units in the AFC. Cleveland is allowing only 195 passing yard per game (10th in the league), 17.6 points per game (seventh in the league) and has forced 13 turnovers. Over the course of the season, the Browns have had a below average run defense but were able to shut down the Giants’ and the Jaguars’ running games in their two most recent wins. An offense, such as the Ravens’, that has difficulty moving the ball in the passing game without running trick plays is one that is likely to struggle on the road against a good defense. Joe Flacco, at this point in his career, is not a playmaker. The Ravens’ defense, which is ranked second in the league in total defense, will probably keep Browns quarterback Derek Anderson in check, but it is important to note that despite his inconsistent play, Anderson has not thrown an interception since Week Four. I believe that the key statistic to note when analyzing this match-up is turnover differential: The Browns are +6 and the Ravens are -4.

Prediction: Cleveland Browns 23, Baltimore Ravens 12

Green Bay Packers (4-3) at Tennessee Titans (7-0)

The King says:

Aaron Rodgers needs to throw the ball 43 times in this one. That’s the only chance Green Bay has.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 20, Green Bay Packers 17

Benji says:

Despite their victory over the Colts on Monday night, I am still not completely sold on the Titans. I believe that a team with a good passing game can beat them. The Colts, with a better performance from Manning (many of his throws were inaccurate and he struggled to throw a tight spiral), would have won on Monday night. If the Titans fall behind early by more than a score, it will be very difficult for them to come back. They just do not have the type of passing game that can move the offense down the field. Kerry Collins can throw short passes to the running backs and tight ends and take care of the football, but is he capable of leading a comeback? Green Bay’s offense is playing very well right now and the Packers do not turn the ball over often either—the Titans are +8 and the Packers are +6 in turnover differential for the season. Finally, the Packers’ secondary gets safety Atari Bigby back from injury, which should help Green Bay slow down Tennessee’s solid running game.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 24, Tennessee Titans 16

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-6)

The King says:

Earnest Graham got stuffed all day against Dallas, but I don’t look for the Chiefs to do similar stuffing here.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30, Kansas City Chiefs 13

Benji says:

Wrong holiday, Your Majesty—this is the one where you gorge on an obscene amount of candy, not the one where you gorge on an obscene amount of turkey and stuffing. Don’t worry, that one’s coming up soon too. Oh, as for the game—the Buccaneers’ defense is really good and the Chiefs’ offense is nothing to write home about unless it’s matched up against the Jets.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, Kansas City Chiefs 13

Arizona Cardinals (4-3) at St. Louis Rams (2-5)

The King says:

Dick Vermeil spoke in Phoenix the other day, and he and Kurt Warner had dinner. Vermeil is being honored by the Rams on Sunday at this game, and Warner will be there as the most beloved visiting pro football player ever to return to St. Louis. You know why I love this angle? One: Because Vermeil and Warner are two of the greatest people the NFL has ever employed. Two: So we don’t have to read about how hard it is for the Cardinals to board an airplane, fly east and play a child’s game.

Prediction: St. Louis Rams 26, Arizona Cardinals 24

Benji says:

Despite all of my references to the Cardinals’ poor play on the road in my last blog post and the Rams’ inspired play as of late, I am picking Arizona to win here. Why? His Majesty, based on his analysis here, should understand: Warner’s connection to the Rams. And I’m not just referring to the good times…flash back to last weekend in London where Drew Brees and Philip Rivers faced off in the Underachievement Bowl. Brees played his best game of the season against the team that chose to let him go in the prime of his career after he got injured and the quarterback that replaced him. Sound familiar? After leading the Rams to two Super Bowls, Warner was cut loose and replaced by Marc Bulger. I am officially calling this prediction a Drew Brees formula pick.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 34, St. Louis Rams 24

Houston Texans (3-4) at Minnesota Vikings (3-4)

The King says:

A grim reminder of an 0-3 road September for the Texans. This is Houston’s only road game in a six-week stretch. I give them a shot because of Matt Schaub, who, if you haven’t noticed, has rallied his team and his career. Anybody notice he’s a 68-percent passer?


Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 23, Houston Texans 20

Benji says:

Assuming that the Vikings’ defensive line plays up to its potential and is able to pressure Matt Schaub, this one is in the bag. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When Schaub is under pressure, he makes a lot of mistakes, and when he faces a team with a poor pass rush, he looks like the second coming of Warren Moon.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 26, Houston Texans 16

Miami Dolphins (3-4) at Denver Broncos (4-3)

The King says:

The Broncos can’t stop anyone, but at least they’re coming off the bye and Jay Cutler looks healthy after getting whacked around in Foxboro. Miami’s 25th in the league against the pass.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 29, Miami Dolphins 27

Benji says:

Denver’s defense is truly awful (30th in the league), especially without the services of shutdown corner Champ Bailey. But I’m not entirely sold on Miami’s defense either. I think that a team with a high level passing game can have success against it. Congratulations to the Dolphins for upsetting the Bills last week (which I picked correctly) but their play has been uneven from week to week and I do not trust them on the road against a team that can put a lot of points on the board. I believe that Denver quarterback Jay Cutler is going to have a huge game…

Prediction: Denver Broncos 34, Miami Dolphins 26

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) at Oakland Raiders (2-5)

The King says:

Big, big injury for the Falcons as they attempt to stay in the NFC South pennant race: Sam Baker, the left tackle who was playing better than anyone in the league thought he would, had back surgery in California this week and could be lost for the year. Big blow.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 31, Oakland Raiders 20

Benji says:

That is a big injury for Atlanta, Your Majesty, because much of Matt Ryan’s success can be attributed to the play of the offensive line, which has given him plenty of time to complete all of those deep passes to Roddy White. Speaking of the Ryan to White connection, it will be interesting to see if Ryan throws to White as much in this game when he is matched up with one of the better cornerbacks in the league, Nnamdi Asomugha. Personally, I would rather take my chances with former Falcon DeAngelo Hall, the number two cornerback. The Raiders might be able to keep this game close if their defense plays like it did against the Jets a few weeks ago. But again, similar to the Dolphins’ defense, I’m not sure what to expect out of this unit from week to week. There’s no consistency.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 24, Oakland Raiders 20

Dallas Cowboys (5-3) at New York Giants (6-1)

The King says:

The Cowboys had a goal in mind prior to last week’s game against Tampa Bay: split the next two games before the bye, enter the second half of the season 5-4 with Tony Romo returning from his broken pinkie injury, and go on the kind of run they were on in September, when they started the season an explosive 3-0. Mission already accomplished. And the Brooks Bollinger rumors? True. You should see him early in this game.


Prediction: New York Giants 23, Dallas Cowboys 12

Benji says:

We are pretty much in agreement here, Your Majesty. Dallas needed to split these two games and picked up the ugly gritty win that they needed last week at home against Tampa. It’s a good thing, because the Cowboys have absolutely no chance of beating the Giants on the road this week. New York will put constant pressure on the statue formerly known as Brad Johnson and force him to make plays he is not capable of making. He looks like Drew Bledsoe did at the end of his tenure as the Cowboys’ starter, except older, slower and with a weaker arm. And Brooks Bollinger probably will not be much better. It has become increasingly apparent how important Tony Romo is to this team…

Prediction: New York Giants 26, Dallas Cowboys 9

Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) at Seattle Seahawks (2-5)

The King says:

Jim Johnson versus Seneca Wallace? Almost an unfair fight. Get ready for Blitzes Exotica, young Seneca.


Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 22, Seattle Seahawks 9

Benji says:

The Eagles love to beat up on bad teams. Their offense also looks infinitely better now that Brian Westbrook is back.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 34, Seattle Seahawks 13

New England Patriots (5-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-4)

The King says:

Look at Matt Cassel’s last eight quarters: 69 percent passing, 452 yards, almost eight yards per play, superb in this era’s NFL. He’s not afraid. He’s also 4.7-percent ahead of Peyton Manning right now in completion percentage for the season. Not to stat you to death or anything.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Indianapolis Colts 23

Benji says:

Your Majesty, I want the Patriots to win this game too, but what about the “desperation factor?” My desperation formula continues to work out every time I apply it and I am going to keep riding it until it fails me. The Colts are a talented team, they need to win this game much more than their opponent and they are playing at home.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 30, New England Patriots 20

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) at Washington Redskins (6-2)

The King says:

The real reason is that Jason Campbell is playing out of his mind, and I don’t trust the Pittsburgh line to keep Ben Roethlisberger clean. But there’s an ulterior motive. My brother-in-law, Lou Ranalli of Monongahela, loves it when I pick against the Steelers because he thinks anytime I do the Steelers win. There’s a shoutout to you, Lou. Let’s see if it works this week.

Prediction: Washington Redskins 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 16

Benji says:

I cannot really dispute either of the points that you make in your opening sentence, Your Majesty—Jason Campbell has played very well (although out of his mind seems a bit hyperbolic) and the Steelers’ pass protection has been shaky at best this season. But when I look at the way that these two teams have played as of late, I find that Washington has just as many question marks as Pittsburgh. The Redskins are playing with fire right now. They are 2-1 in their last three games, but after losing to the previously winless Rams, they barely beat Cleveland at home and had to come back to beat the 0-7 Lions last week. Ignore the score of the Steelers’ game with the Giants last weekend—Pittsburgh was in control of that game and blew it in the fourth quarter thanks to some untimely turnovers and an injured long snapper. Going back to Campbell’s success taking care of the ball, he is long overdue to throw an interception or two. He has not thrown one in eight games! If there were ever a time for Campbell to commit some turnovers, it would be this week, in this game against the league’s top defense.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Washington Redskins 17

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