Archive for November, 2008

King Says, Benji Says (Week 13)

November 29, 2008

kingbenjiweek13

I apologize for both the lateness of this post and the idiotic expressions on our faces during our latest photo shoot—both offenses can be directly attributed to the turkey-induced comas from which His Majesty and I recently awoke. If I can’t beat The King (last week I lost yet another pick in the standings), I might as well join him in some wholesome, face-stuffing, artery-clogging fun, right?

Last Week:

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

Overall (not including the Thanksgiving games):

Peter King (115-60-1)
Benji (103-72-1)
Brian (114-61-1)

San Francisco 49ers (3-8) at Buffalo Bills (6-5)

The King says:

Trent Edwards. Reviled to revived.


Prediction: Buffalo Bills 20, San Francisco 49ers 16

Benji says:

You might as well call His Majesty “Mr. A-to-Z,” because he is all about the word play. Personally, I would have preferred something a little more substantive that actually relates to the match-up at hand. I’m also not really buying the Trent Edwards “revival,” because I do not think he is that great a player and I have yet to see him come through against a team with a good defense. Fortunately for The King and the rest of the Trent Edwards fan club, the 49ers’ defense is pretty mediocre, ranking 24th in the league in sacks and 23rd in total yards allowed. Plus, now that winter has arrived, Buffalo’s home field advantage is sure to come into play—Sunday’s weather forecast calls for a game-time temperature in the low 30s with snow showers and squalls.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 23, San Francisco 49ers 12

Baltimore Ravens (7-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-9)

The King says:

Orange juice. It’s not just for breakfast anymore. Baltimore’s offense. It’s not just for nothing anymore.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 30, Cincinnati Bengals 9

Benji says:

Two word sentences that defy the need for proper punctuation. They’re not just for C-level high school English papers anymore. Double negatives. They’re not just for Eve 6 songs anymore. This game. It’s not much of a contest anymore, now that Carson Palmer needs Tommy John surgery and has been replaced at quarterback by Ryan Fitzpatrick. On the bright side, Fitzpatrick, an Ivy League grad, could probably get a job as His Majesty’s writing tutor if he decides to quit playing football.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 26, Cincinnati Bengals 13

Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Cleveland Browns (4-7)

The King says:

The wind won’t be the only thing howling off Lake Erie Sunday, and the turkey won’t be the only thing Browns fans will want on a platter. If you know what I mean.


Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 24, Cleveland Browns 6

Benji says:

It’s a good thing that His Majesty is married, because if his efforts at insinuation here are any indication, his skills for wooing the ladies must be almost as bad as mine. “Want to go check out another buffet spread? If you know what I mean…” Well, Your Majesty, I think that the Browns’ defense (now ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed, just ahead of Denver) is really struggling and the Indianapolis offense looks really good right now, which should add up to an easy win for the Colts. If you know what I mean…

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 30, Cleveland Browns 16

Carolina Panthers (8-3) at Green Bay Packers (5-6)

The King says:

The mysterious season of the Panthers continues. Though if I were John Fox this weekend, I’d insist on a heavy dose of DeAngelo Williams. Last four games for Williams: 108, 140, 120, 101 yards.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 33, Carolina Panthers 17

Benji says:

The mysterious season of the Panthers? How about the mysterious season of the Packers—two weeks ago, the defense completely flummoxed the Bears and last week it was ripped to shreds by the Saints. I solved the Carolina mystery a long time ago—the guilty party is quarterback Jake Delhomme. As he goes, the Panthers go, and if you look at the statistics, he has only faced one top-ten pass defense this season. In that game, against the Buccaneers, he threw three interceptions. Green Bay ranks sixth in the league in pass defense and I would expect an inspired effort from that squad on Sunday, as it is playing at home in a game that the Packers’ playoff hopes hinge upon.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 24, Carolina Panthers 13

Miami Dolphins (6-5) at St. Louis Rams (2-9)

The King says:

Chad Pennington is not just a complementary player anymore. He’s dangerous. Since he’s gotten the offense down pat, he’s been among the top three or four quarterbacks in football. In his last nine games, he’s had a QB rating higher than 90 in seven of them.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 40, St. Louis Rams 12

Benji says:

Pennington has performed very well this season but I still see him as a complementary player. Maybe I could be swayed by a more convincing argument, but by only using his QB rating (a dubious stat that you yourself have called into question) to substantiate your stance, Your Majesty, you are making him out to be exactly the type of role player that I think he is. If and when the Dolphins beat the Rams on Sunday, it will be because Miami’s team is better than St. Louis’s; not because Chad Pennington is an elite quarterback.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 27, St. Louis Rams 19

Denver Broncos (6-5) at New York Jets (8-3)

The King says:

Randy Cross pointed out this excellent stat to me: Of the Denver starting 24 — including punter and kicker — 18 are first-, second- or third-year players. Tough to go on the road in a very tough place with a lousy defense and a team of 25-year-olds and beat the hottest team in the AFC.

Prediction: New York Jets 37, Denver Broncos 13

Benji says:

Do not be fooled by the Jets’ defensive dominance in their game against the Titans last week. Tennessee was due to lose a game and New York’s defense, which does an excellent job of stopping the run (4th in the NFL in yards allowed per carry), matched up well against the Titans’ offense. The Jets still cannot stop the pass, ranking 26th in the league in passing yards allowed, just behind such elite passing defenses as the Saints’ and Broncos’ squads. Do not be drawn in by His Majesty’s ridiculous score line—this is a good match-up for Jay Cutler and the Broncos’ passing attack and it should be a close game.

Prediction: New York Jets 30, Denver Broncos 27

New Orleans Saints (6-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3)

The King says:

Drew Brees just dropped 51 on the Packers, but now he’ll face a real defense, with real speed. And for all of you wondering when I’m going to get my head out of my hiney and put Brees on my MVP Watch, uh, that will happen this week. It’s already happened.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29, New Orleans Saints 26

Benji says:

I know, I already learned the hard way not to bet against the home team in NFC South divisional match-ups, but all streaks were made to be broken, right? The Saints’ offense just looks unstoppable right now and, unlike His Majesty, I have some respect left for the Packers’ defense. I have very little respect for the Tampa Bay offense, which is only capable of scoring on a short field or against bad defenses. The Buccaneers’ defense should be able to contain Brees better than the Packers did, but I still think that this might turn into a shootout, a type of game that Tampa will struggle to win under any circumstance against any defense.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23

New York Giants (10-1) at Washington Redskins (7-4)

The King says:

We talked about this Tuesday with center Shaun O’Hara on Sirius NFL Radio: Who’s the MVP of the Giants? Eli Manning? Brandon Jacobs? Split five ways between the offensive line? Justin Tuck? Fred Robbins? O’Hara said the right thing: This is the best tribute to the Giants you could make — there’s a slew of valuable players.

Prediction: New York Giants 19, Washington Redskins 16

Benji says:

As a general rule, Your Majesty, a good team is comprised of a group of “valuable players” and I think that we can agree that the 2008 Giants are a really good team. How does your discussion of which of these “valuable players” is most valuable relate to your pick, though? The Redskins are 7-4, are playing at home and you predict that they will keep the game close—I want to know why! I’ll tell you what I came up with, while I was surfing the internet on my Apple iMac, drinking Formula-50 Vitamin Water and unbuttoning the top button of my Ralph Lauren striped polo shirt (note to sponsors: if I missed making any plugs for your products, leave a comment and I’ll add them in later)—the Redskins are not as good as their 7-4 record. Their defense is solid (allowing the third fewest total yards in the league) but their offense cannot score touchdowns—they have only scored 201 points on the season, two more than the 199 that they have allowed. Washington will be hard-pressed to keep up with a Giants team that can score on the ground and through the air and has already had offensive success against Baltimore and Pittsburgh (the two defenses ranked ahead of Washington in yards allowed). The Redskins are about to be exposed as the pretenders that they really are…

Prediction: New York Giants 30, Washington Redskins 16

Kansas City Chiefs (1-10) at Oakland Raiders (3-8)

The King says:

What a weird game the Raiders had last Sunday, putting up 31 with the quarterback throwing it 11 times. But that’s a good series of play-calls from the coach — knowing his quarterback is still very much a work in progress and also knowing he can get great traction against a light-in-the-pants Denver defensive front.

Prediction: Oakland Raiders 31, Kansas City Chiefs 19

Benji says:

The Chiefs’ defensive front is certainly not much of an upgrade over the Broncos, as it is on pace to shatter the record for fewest sacks in a season, and the Kansas City defense as a whole has allowed the most yards per game in the league. That being said, the Oakland passing game is terrible and its running game is inconsistent. On the other hand, I really like the direction that Kansas City’s offense is going in: Tyler Thigpen has emerged has a promising young quarterback, Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez are great options for him to throw to and Larry Johnson is rounding back into form at running back. I do not trust the Raiders to put forth two consecutive solid efforts on offense, and I know that Kansas City will put points on the board. Also, is Oakland good enough to sweep a season series with any team in the league, even one that has only won one game?

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 33, Oakland Raiders 16

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) at New England Patriots (7-4)

The King says:

In the last four weeks, Matt Cassel has outpassed Ben Roethlisberger by 93 yards a game. You know why I think he outplays Roethlisberger in Foxboro on Sunday? Because there’s no part of the playbook Josh McDaniels doesn’t trust him with now. With the leash off, I say Cassel will have enough gumption to lead four scoring drives.

Prediction: New England Patriots 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 16

Benji says:

We are in agreement on one thing here, Your Majesty—Matt Cassel has really come into his own over the last few games. The Steelers’ defense is really good (tops in the league in both points and yards allowed) but is it good enough to slow down New England’s methodical passing game on the road? I would never have dreamed of writing that last sentence three weeks ago, but at this point I think that the Patriots are in good position to beat the Steelers at home in a game that they need to win more than their opponent does.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 20

Atlanta Falcons (7-4) at San Diego Chargers (4-7)

The King says:

Here’s the scariest note of all, if Denver loses at the Jets and the Chargers win this one: San Diego would be 5-7, Denver 6-6, setting up the legitimate chance that the AFC West could be won with a 7-9 record. Imagine San Diego hosting Denver in Week 17, with the Chargers 6-9 and Broncos 7-8. Chargers win. Let’s go to the tiebreakers. They’d have split the season series. Now we go to division record. As of this morning, San Diego’s 2-1 and Denver 2-2. The Chargers have Oakland at home and Kansas City on the road before Denver in the last game. Denver has Kansas City at home. If you ask me, the AFC West will be won with a 7-9 record.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 23, Atlanta Falcons 21

Benji says:

The scenario that His Majesty describes, a team with a losing record making the playoffs looks quite plausible at this point. The Broncos have lost games by multiple scores to the Raiders and the Chiefs, two teams that a real playoff contender would defeat rather easily; the Chargers have beaten all of the bad teams (they do not have a loss to a team with a losing record) and have played two likely playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Indianapolis) close over the past two weeks. Denver has one of the worst defenses in the league and no running game to speak of; San Diego has LaDanian Tomlinson, who although declining is still far better than any runner on the Broncos, and a defense that, while not spectacular, can make some stops. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Chargers are a better team than the Broncos, whose only saving grace is their excellent passing game, and if San Diego wins this game, it will be in good position to make a late run at the division title. Let’s give the desperation formula one more try: the Chargers are a talented team, playing at home in a game that they need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 30, Atlanta Falcons 22

Chicago Bears (6-5) at Minnesota Vikings (6-5)

The King says:

Big day for Adrian Peterson, and it had better be one. He’s going to be tough to catch and trap on the carpet of the Metrodome.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 20, Chicago Bears 13

Benji says:

How quickly you forget the last meeting between these two teams, Your Majesty, a 48-41 shootout. Chicago won that game and should be favored to win this one as well, based on the match-up. Both the Vikings and the Bears have phenomenal run defenses, ranking second and third in the league, respectively, in yards allowed per carry, but also struggle to defend the pass consistently, posting average passing yardage numbers that rank them 22nd and 30th in the NFL. The team that gets better quarterback play will win this game, and while Gus Frerotte is 6-3 as the starter for the Vikings, he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in those nine games (12 to 11), including four picks in the aforementioned loss to Chicago earlier in the season; meanwhile, Kyle Orton has thrown only four interceptions during that span, compared to 11 touchdown passes (the same number as Frerotte). At some point, Frerotte’s inability to take care of the ball will derail Minnesota’s playoff hopes and I believe that it will happen this week, in a game between heated division rivals that both teams need to win.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 33, Minnesota Vikings 26

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) at Houston Texans (4-7)

The King says:

I have a feeling the Jaguars players are about to turn the station on Jack Del Rio. If they respond the rest of the season and the Jags win two or three games, I think he survives. If not, even a trusting owner like Wayne Weaver might have seen enough.

Prediction: Houston Texans 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 17

Benji says:

Both His Majesty and I had high hopes for the Jaguars this year (predicting them to reach the AFC Championship Game) as I am sure the Jacksonville organization and fan base did as well. As they say, though, the best laid plans of goobers and doofuses often go awry. The Jaguars’ success last year was predicated on them running the ball effectively and controlling the clock; this year, due to injuries on the offensive line and Fred Taylor’s decline, their running game has been a shadow of its former self. The Texans struggle to stop opposing runners (allowing 4.5 yards per carry) but their offense has played well as of late and if they get a lead, the Jaguars and their anemic passing game will have a difficult time forging a comeback.

Prediction: Houston Texans 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 17

King Says, Benji Says (Thanksgiving Edition)

November 27, 2008

rudolphsantapuppets

I know, I know, The King and I dressed up for the wrong holiday, but we are hardly the first Americans to start celebrating Christmas a little early. These costumes just seemed so much better suited to our current states of being than our fat pilgrim and Pocahontas outfits; my severe cold has left me with a nose red enough to make Rudolph point and laugh and exclude me from his reindeer games, and His Majesty is, um, an overweight, aging white dude. Anyway, on to our Thanksgiving picks…

Seattle Seahawks (2-9) at Dallas Cowboys (7-4)

The King says:

You know, I still think somewhere not so deep in the recesses of Jerry Jones’ mind, there’s a thought that goes something like this when he sees Mike Holmgren: That’s the man who’s going to coach my team someday.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 31, Seattle Seahawks 13

Benji says:

Your Majesty, you are not allowed to take a pick off just because it’s a holiday tomorrow—is it that hard to write a single sentence of constructive analysis that relates to the match-up at hand instead of this speculative statement about the future of the Dallas head coaching position? Well, I suppose I will have to do the honors then. Dallas looks like a team that is peaking at the right time, boosted by the return of quarterback Tony Romo, while Seattle’s offense has looked just as stagnant with Matt Hasselbeck running things as it did with Seneca Wallace as the starter.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, Seattle Seahawks 13

Tennessee Titans (10-1) at Detroit Lions (0-11)

The King says:

How’d you feel if you were Drew Stanton, the Lions’ second-round pick a year ago, a quarterback the team drafted to be the passer of the future? When Rod Marinelli wanted a solution at quarterback, he took Daunte Culpepper off his Orlando couch to play the position. And when Culpepper struggles mightily, Marinelli looks first not at Stanton, but at the first 6-foot-3 popcorn vendor he can see in the lower bowl at Ford Field. An 0-11 team apparently wants nothing to do with him. Humbled. That’s the word I’d use for the way Stanton must feel.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 20, Detroit Lions 16

Benji says:

That’s more like it, Your Majesty. Your paragraph about the tumultuous quarterbacking situation in Detroit does an excellent job of illustrating why the Lions are 0-11 and have a real shot at a winless season. What an incompetent organization. Is it any surprise that the people in charge of the team are the same people who have run a once immensely successful automobile company (Ford Motors) into the ground? Perhaps Congress should take into consideration the considerable number of “bail-out” high first and second round picks the Lions have completely wasted over the past decade before it does anything foolish?

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 27, Detroit Lions 13

Arizona Cardinals (7-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)

The King says:

Turkey Day Game of the Day. Too bad America’s going to be all tryptophaned-out and sleeping through half of it. I can’t blame the Cardinals for cat-napping here either. Do you realize they were due to report to work for a compressed day in Tempe on Wednesday at 6 a.m., and after meetings and practice, were to get on a plane for the 2,300-miles trip to Philly … and then meet some more when they got to the hotel?

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 24, Arizona Cardinals 23

Benji says:

I know one thing for sure, Your Majesty—there’s no way you’ll be able to stay awake for the duration of this game after you polish off an entire turkey by yourself. The Cardinals’ offense looks really good right now, but the Eagles are desperate for a win and will surely put forth their best effort in quite some time, both offensively and defensively. The desperation formula has failed me during my picks for the last two weeks but I’m applying it again here. I was also not very impressed with Arizona’s kickoff coverage in its loss to the Giants last Sunday. How can the Cardinals expect to beat a good team if they let it start every offensive possession on the Arizona side of the field?

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 23, Arizona Cardinals 20

Brian Returns

November 24, 2008

Brian Returns

Brian Returns

Well that was a long hiatus—working on the Obama campaign occupied most of my free time, but since the election I have been selfish (read: lazy) about my commitment to this site. I think Benji has stepped it up and really put me to shame with his dedication and consistency but I am back now, so watch out, Peter King.

So after taking essentially a two month break, I must have something juicy to write about. I mean what misstep or ridiculous claim could have prompted me to return to my laptop after weeks of hiding in my basement and honing my skills at NHL 2K9? Well, Peter King is a dolt—and I’ll prove it to you.

In this week’s MMQB, King writes about his MVP watch: 2. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis. Fourth-and-two inches with 26 seconds and one timeout left in a 20-all tie at San Diego, and John Madden thinks Manning will burrow for the first down. Logical. Then Manning can just spike it and have a fresh set of downs to get into Adam Vinatieri field-goal range.

King, if he spikes the ball, he cannot possibly have a fresh set of downs—it’ll be second down!!

It looks like I’m a little rusty, but anyway, it’s great to be back!

King Says, Benji Says (Week 12)

November 21, 2008

notyinginfootball

There’s no tying in football…oh, wait, yes there is! My picking match-up with His Majesty went the distance last week (a full 16 games!) but neither of us came away with anything to show for it. There’s still time left in the season for me to catch The King, but the weeks are starting to pile up. It’s time for me to make a move before it’s too late…

Last Week:

Peter King (10-5-1)
Benji (10-5-1)
Brian (10-5-1)

Overall (not including the Thursday game):

Peter King (105-54-1)
Benji (94-65-1)
Brian (102-57-1)

Carolina Panthers (8-2) at Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

The King says:

I’m not saying the Atlanta corners are Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders, but apparently these days against Jake Delhomme, they don’t have to be. No player needs a get-well game more than Delhomme.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 24, Carolina Panthers 13

Benji says:

Last week I tried to buck the trend of the home team winning in NFC South divisional games and I came away empty. I will not make that mistake again this week. His Majesty is also correct to point out the recent struggles of Jake Delhomme. The Panthers’ defense is solid (ranked fifth in the league in both passing yards and total yards allowed) but it is not good enough to win games without some sort of support from the passing game. They cannot expect to have two 100-yard rushers every week. The Falcons were a dropped touchdown by Roddy White away from beating the Broncos last week and I expect them to bounce back on Sunday in a game they need to win much more than their opponent does.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 27, Carolina Panthers 17

Houston Texans (3-7) at Cleveland Browns (4-6)

The King says:

Brady Quinn will play with a break at the tip of his index finger; Tony Romo couldn’t play with a break at the tip of his pinkie finger. Come to think of it, maybe Romo was the smart one here.

Prediction: Houston Texans 23, Cleveland Browns 21

Benji says:

Cleveland received a gift-wrapped win from the freefalling Bills on Monday night, but this match-up promises to be much tougher. Brady Quinn is sure to struggle throwing the ball with his injured finger (he became less accurate as the game went on against Buffalo) and it’s hard to imagine the Browns’ porous run defense (ranked 26th in the league in yards per carry) having an answer for Houston running back Steve Slaton, who rushed for 156 yards on 14 carries against the Colts last week.

Prediction: Houston Texans 27, Cleveland Browns 16

San Francisco 49ers (3-7) at Dallas Cowboys (6-4)

The King says:

I see where Shaun Hill was awarded the NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award for his role in the 49ers’ victory over the St. Louis JV team. Who voted? Hill’s aunt and uncle?

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 27, San Francisco 49ers 9

Benji says:

The Cowboys look to be back on track now that Tony Romo is back. They will not take the 49ers lightly (they cannot afford to at 6-4) but they should win pretty easily. Dallas just has too many offensive weapons for San Francisco to contain.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, San Francisco 49ers 17

Oakland Raiders (2-8) at Denver Broncos (6-4)

The King says:

I’ve had this Jay Cutler feature story for SI sitting in my computer so long that when I first did it I went to see a Rockies game while in Denver. With games like this one, I’m hoping Cutler helps me resuscitate my story.


Prediction: Denver Broncos 37, Oakland Raiders 15

Benji says:

Pardon me, Your Majesty, I was unaware that beating up on the hapless Raiders makes a player worthy of a feature story. You must really be struggling for material…

Prediction: Denver Broncos 37, Oakland Raiders 15

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) at Detroit Lions (0-10)

The King says:

I hear all the nice, respectful words the Bucs are saying about the toothless Leos. But this is a horrendous matchup for a plodding Detroit offense led by plumpish Daunte Culpepper. The running back, Kevin Smith, isn’t fast either. Tampa’s defense quasi-smothered Adrian Peterson last week and it will be uglier for the Lions.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23, Detroit Lions 10

Benji says:

Tampa Bay certainly has a team that is far superior to Detroit’s, but the “toothless Leos” are not going to coast their way to a winless season. Professional football players have more pride than that. The Buccaneers are right not to take them lightly…

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Detroit Lions 16

New York Jets (7-3) at Tennessee Titans (10-0)

The King says:

My daughter Mary Beth has caught me in the Peter King Challenge, and she picks teams based on uniform color. So now I’ve got to stop fooling around. I’m not picking against Jeff Fisher until at least 2014.


Prediction: Tennessee Titans 31, New York Jets 20

Benji says:

The Titans are due to lose a game, but it’s not going to happen this week. The Jets will likely suffer a bit of a letdown after their big overtime win in New England last Thursday, and nothing short of a team’s best offensive effort will be enough to beat Tennessee, which is allowing the fewest points in the league (13.1) and has forced the second highest number of interceptions (15).

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 20, New York Jets 10

Buffalo Bills (5-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-9)

The King says:

I really feel for Trent Edwards. He’s going to be a good player and he’s just at the nadir of his confidence and accuracy right now. Playing in a place where you can’t hear a darn thing won’t help.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 20, Buffalo Bills 13

Benji says:

Trent Edwards is a mess right now—his pocket presence is terrible, he shies away from taking hits and short-arms throws, has struggled to throw accurately when he gets good protection and is making horrible decisions. The young quarterback for the Chiefs, Tyler Thigpen, on the other hand, has improved considerably over the course of the season and looks like a viable NFL starter.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 27, Buffalo Bills 17

Chicago Bears (5-5) at St. Louis Rams (2-8)

The King says:

I had a defensive assistant tell me the other day that his team put on video of the Rams’ first defensive series against the Jets to show their players how not to hustle and swarm to the ball. The level of effort, this coach told me, was terrible.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 33, St. Louis Rams 10

Benji says:

No fair, Your Majesty, you received inside information! I was going to pick the Rams this week until you…just kidding, I don’t need an unnamed source to help me figure out that the St. Louis defense is terrible. I have two eyes and a brain.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 27, St. Louis Rams 17

New England Patriots (6-4) at Miami Dolphins (6-4)

The King says:

It’s not nice to embarrass Bill Belichick. He plays a team Sunday that rubbed his nose in the dirt at home with trick plays he should have been able to handle at Wesleyan, and he walks into a place with one of his football godfathers, Bill Parcells, watching down on him from a suite. You don’t often see Belichick under pressure, embarrassed.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Miami Dolphins 23

Benji says:

The Patriots are a very resilient bunch. They are 3-0 after losses this season, with each victory coming by a margin of nine points or more. They also are looking for revenge after the Dolphins embarrassed them in the two teams’ last meeting. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have barely escaped with wins against mediocre teams (Seattle and Oakland) the past two weeks.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Miami Dolphins 17

Minnesota Vikings (5-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6)

The King says:

Assuming the Vikings will lose the best defensive tackle tandem in football — Kevin and Pat Williams — for a month after this game, you would think that since they’re playing for their very playoff existence, they would show up and play better in this game. I just don’t think they are good enough to do that.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 17, Minnesota Vikings 10

Benji says:

The Vikings might not be good enough to beat a team with a good passing game on the road, but this is the Jacksonville Jaguars we are talking about here. Jacksonville can only win if it controls the ball in the running game and Minnesota’s run defense is ranked second in the league in yards per carry (3.1). It’s just a terrible match-up for Jacksonville and one it cannot win unless Minnesota quarterback Gus Frerotte implodes and Maurice Jones-Drew returns a kick for a touchdown.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) at Baltimore Ravens (6-4)

The King says:

Andy Reid calls over Donovan McNabb just before kickoff and says, “Just wanted to alert you – we’re playing four quarters today. Sixty minutes. I’m going to do everything in my power to not get us into overtime because I don’t want you to be mentally taxed with such a difficult concept.”

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 22, Philadelphia Eagles 20

Benji says:

Here we go, I was wondering how long it would take for His Majesty to make a joke about Donovan McNabb’s intelligence in the aftermath of the Eagles’ tie last week with the Bengals. I am not ready to give up on the Eagles yet. Every quarterback goes through bad stretches and McNabb is a much better player than he was last Sunday. I have much more confidence in him rebounding with a good game against the Ravens than I do in Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco coming through against the Eagles’ defense, which is sure to be blitz-heavy after his struggles against the Giants’ pressure-based defense last week.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, Baltimore Ravens 16

New York Giants (9-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-3)

The King says:

If I thought Kurt Warner could be the Kurt Warner of the last months in this one, I’d certainly pick the Cards. But this is not Seattle’s pass rush. It is not San Francisco’s. It’s not St. Louis’. The Giants front seven is going to pressure Warner into making 2-3 throws he wishes he hadn’t and that will be the difference.

Prediction: New York Giants 29, Arizona Cardinals 26

Benji says:

Maybe Kurt Warner and the Cardinals are headed for a fall but I just do not see it. A team with that many skilled receivers and a talented quarterback with a quick release that can get them the ball cannot be stifled by pressure alone. The Giants’ offense will have to score a lot of points to keep up. New York is certainly capable of doing so, and this should be a fun game to watch…

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 30, New York Giants 27

Washington Redskins (6-4) at Seattle Seahawks (2-8)

The King says:

Is it my imagination, or do the Redskins play in Seattle every three or four weeks?

Prediction: Washington Redskins 23, Seattle Seahawks 18

Benji says:

Matt Hasselbeck looked really rusty against the Cardinals last week. Maybe after a game under his belt, he will be more effective this week? I wouldn’t count on it, because Washington’s defense is better than Arizona’s.

Prediction: Washington Redskins 20, Seattle Seahawks 13

Indianapolis Colts (6-4) at San Diego Chargers (4-6)

The King says:

There must be something about the airport in San Diego. Or the air. Since Week 2, San Diego is 0-5 on the road and 4-0 at home. In Week 3 in San Diego, Brett Favre played like he acted in “There’s Something About Mary” which was really not at an Oscar level. Ditto Matt Cassel in Week 6. I don’t know, maybe Peyton Manning will play great out there but home has been a pretty sweet home for the Chargers in the past couple months.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 31, Indianapolis Colts 20

Benji says:

I know, I know, the “desperation formula” technically failed twice last week, but I think that I was too liberal in my assignments of “talented teams.” Upon further review, Buffalo should never have qualified for such a distinction. I am going to give the formula one more spin and see what happens: The Chargers are a talented team, playing at home in a must-win game.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 30, Indianapolis Colts 20

Green Bay Packers (5-5) at New Orleans Saints (5-5)

The King says:

The Saints, who last played at home when Danny Abromowitz suited up, are now in danger of having Drew Brees break one of the sports most respected records — Dan Marino’s 5,084 passing yards in a season — in some meaningless games. Going 5-6 with suspensions looming is not a good sign in a division with three teams better than you.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 36, New Orleans Saints 27

Benji says:

I’ve got to go with my preseason pick for the NFC’s Super Bowl entrant here, the Green Bay Packers. New Orleans cannot play defense at all (ranked 24th in the league in yards allowed) and despite the tremendous statistical season that Drew Brees is having, it has struggled to find week-to-week consistency in terms of scoring points. Green Bay looked very impressive last week against the Bears and nearly beat the undefeated Titans three weeks ago. Its pass defense has allowed the second fewest passing yards per game and has forced the most interceptions (16) in the league.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 30, New Orleans Saints 20

King Says, Benji Says (Week 12 Empty Throne Edition)

November 20, 2008

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Okay, it’s official—His Majesty stood me up. I feel like Lloyd Christmas right now. I’ve been eagerly awaiting his arrival since Wednesday afternoon and as of 1:40 P.M. (EDT) on Thursday, I’m still left sitting next to an empty throne. He must have found a better date—maybe his mom offered to take him out to an all-you-can-eat buffet? Anyway, lucky for me, he left his picks outline on his throne before he took off so I should be able to piece together his prediction…

Cincinnati Bengals (1-8-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)

The King’s Outline says:

Waste a sentence or two reflecting on the Bengals/Eagles 13-13 tie last Sunday. Be sure to include a comical comment about Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis’s reaction to the outcome. Probably include a useless comment about #85 with the sole purpose of calling him by his former name (Chad Johnson) instead of his new legal name (Chad Ocho Cinco). Most importantly, do not include any actual analysis of this match-up between the Steelers and Bengals. Try not even to mention the Steelers if it can be helped.


Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 25, Cincinnati Bengals 5

Benji says:

There’s not a whole lot that the Bengals can take away from their tie with the Eagles. Donovan McNabb played probably the worst game of his career and Cincinnati was completely unable to capitalize. McNabb completed less than 50 percent of his passes while turning the ball over four times and the Bengals were still only able to score 13 points in five quarters of football. And it’s not even as though the Bengals’ defense played particularly well. I witnessed two different occasions when McNabb missed Westbrook when he was wide open and had no defenders in front of him. Cincinnati has scored the second fewest points in the league this season (13.8, ahead of only Oakland) and Pittsburgh has surrendered the second fewest (15, behind only Tennessee). The Bengals’ offense is no match for the Pittsburgh defense—the only way that Cincinnati could win this game would be if Roethlisberger completely imploded. But would that even be enough? Last week, the other team’s franchise quarterback played as poorly as he possibly could and the Bengals still couldn’t muster a win.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Cincinnati Bengals 9

I’ll be back with the rest of my picks tomorrow…hopefully His Majesty will decide to join me this time…

King Says, Benji Says (Week 11)

November 14, 2008

picture-4

So far, I have not offered my voters change that they can believe in, but the NFL season is still young. With nearly half of the regular season remaining, I have plenty of time to make up ground on His Majesty. So what if I cannot win consistently at home…I’m ready to pull a page out of the New York Giants’ playbook and pick up a win on the road during my trip to Virginia.

Last Week:

Peter King (10-4)
Benji (9-5)
Brian (11-3)

Overall (not including the Thursday game):

Peter King (95-49)
Benji (84-60)
Brian (92-52)

Denver Broncos (5-4) at Atlanta Falcons (6-3)

The King says:

I know, I know. The Falcons are hotter than hot, and Denver can’t play defense. I just have a feeling about this one. Jay Cutler just threw for more yards in a game than John Elway ever did. Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall on turf — heck, even Tatum Bell on turf — will present the Falcons more problems that they can solve. I’d be pretty boring if I picked the chalk every week.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 33, Atlanta Falcons 28

Benji says:

While Cutler did throw for more yards than Elway ever did last week, his defense is allowing more points and yards than any Denver defensive unit during the Elway era. The Broncos are especially susceptible to the run (allowing 5.1 yards per rushing attempt) and consequently the play action pass, which is exactly what the Atlanta offense excels at. Once you factor in that the Falcons are the home team, this match-up seems to heavily favor Atlanta.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 30, Denver Broncos 20

Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-8)

The King says:

Sure, let’s fire Andy Reid. That’s a smart idea. Let’s dump a coach averaging 10.5 wins a year, who has piloted the Eagles to more wins than any other NFC team in the past 10 years, because he’s made the playoffs six times in nine previous years but hasn’t won a Super Bowl, and because he lost to the best team in football by five at home. That’s the ticket. That’s what you want to do with your franchise. Let’s let WIP run the team and pick the next coach.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, Cincinnati Bengals 17

Benji says:

Who said anything about Andy Reid’s job security? I want to know why you picked the Eagles to win this game, Your Majesty. I am picking them because the Bengals are a weak team and Philadelphia thrives against weak teams. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 34, Cincinnati Bengals 13

Chicago Bears (5-4) at Green Bay Packers (4-5)

The King says:

The Bears need Kyle Orton to return, and he’ll try. Regardless, this is Matt Forte’s game. Green Bay’s playing the run like Peter King and Dr. Z are the starting defensive tackles.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 23, Green Bay Packers 17

Benji says:

I’m throwing all statistical match-ups out the window and going to the desperation formula here: The Packers are a talented team, playing at home, in a must-win situation.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 27, Chicago Bears 17

Houston Texans (3-6) at Indianapolis Colts (5-4)

The King says:

Don’t fire Gary Kubiak. He deserves one more year. Maybe he needs to tweak his staff a bit, but you can’t give a good man with burgeoning talent two and a half years and decide he’s not the man for the job — unless there’s something lacking in his approach or his skill-set as a coach. Plus he hasn’t lost the team.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 25, Houston Texans 20

Benji says:

In Sage we no longer trust–I’ve officially given up on the turnover-prone Rosenfels. Quarterback play, whether it be Schaub’s inability to make good reads against pressure defenses or Rosenfel’s recent interception streak, is holding the Texans back from being a winning team. The Colts have healed up and are beginning to click just in time to make a run at a wildcard spot.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 27, Houston Texans 20

New Orleans Saints (4-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-8)

The King says:

Unlike the Bucs — who had no respect for the Chiefs — the Saints will enter Arrowhead Stadium with a fear of losing and falling out of what limited playoff contention they’re in. And shazam! Jeremy Shockey will score a touchdown! And Drew Brees will shake his hand! Peace and harmony on the Bayou for a few minutes!

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 30, Kansas City Chiefs 13

Benji says:

The Saints need to win this game, but they better be on their toes. The Chiefs have looked pretty good the last few weeks and quarterback Tyler Thigpen is looking more and more like a viable NFL starter. The New Orleans offense needs to show some more week-to-week consistency if the team has any shot at making the playoffs…

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 30, Kansas City Chiefs 27

Oakland Raiders (2-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-4)

The King says:

Repeat after me: On Sunday night, the Miami Dolphins will be 6-4, tied for an AFC Wild Card spot. On the other side, I don’t care if Lane Kiffin, Greg Knapp, Tom Cable, Larry the Cable Guy or Tom Flores calls the plays for the lowest-scoring team in football. It won’t help.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 37, Oakland Raiders 10

Benji says:

Jake Delhomme had quite possibly the worst performance by a starting quarterback this season (7 of 27 for 72 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions) in last week’s game against the Raiders, and Oakland had absolutely no chance of winning the game. That’s all you need to know about the state of the Raiders’ offense at the moment…

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 27, Oakland Raiders 9

Baltimore Ravens (6-3) at New York Giants (8-1)

The King says:

How do you not love Joe Flacco nine games into his career? He’s on a mistake-free, four-game winning streak (six touchdowns, no interceptions, 107.5 rating in the past month). This is the game, 68 miles north of his Jersey hometown, that humbles him. Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo sends the kitchen sink at Flacco — plus quite a few utensils, plates, pots and pans — and pressures him into two turnovers. The Giants will need those to beat this defense.

Prediction: New York Giants 19, Baltimore Ravens 16

Benji says:

Both defenses are really good (Baltimore has allowed the second fewest yards in the league while the Giants rank third in that category) and both offenses have played very well over the past month. Unlike His Majesty, however, I am still not completely sold on Joe Flacco. He has five touchdowns and zero turnovers over the past three weeks, but his success over that time has come against three weak defenses (Oakland, Cleveland and Houston). I will have to see him succeed against an elite defense before I start taking him seriously.

Prediction: New York Giants 23, Baltimore Ravens 13

Minnesota Vikings (5-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)

The King says:

Very underrated fun game of the weekend. Adrian Peterson gets to run against the Bucs’ speed defense for the first time in his life, but the game will be won, I believe, by the Tampa pass-rush tormenting a slow-on-the-draw Gus Frerotte.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24, Minnesota Vikings 23

Benji says:

Minnesota quarterback Gus Frerotte has thrown eight interceptions in the last three games. The Vikings cannot continue to win with “Gunslinger Gus” throwing the ball up for grabs on nearly every drive. I do not like their chances on the road against a good Tampa defense (which has forced 12 interceptions already this season) that will almost certainly take advantage of every Frerotte miscue.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Minnesota Vikings 10

Detroit Lions (0-9) at Carolina Panthers (7-2)

The King says:

Jake Delhomme is so embarrassed by the worst game of his career (7-for-27 at Oakland, with four interceptions) that he hits Steve Smith on a 78-yard go-route on the first play from scrimmage. Detroit is left to ponder who it might beat in the final six weeks. Current record of final six Lions foes: 32-22 — and none is worse than a game under .500.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 23, Detroit Lions 9

Benji says:

Delhomme better play better in this game than he did last time out. A team like the Lions that is hungry for a victory will not lie down like the Raiders did last week. If the Panthers can take care of the ball, however, their defense should be able to hold down the Detroit offense.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 20, Detroit Lions 17

Tennessee Titans (9-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)

The King says:

Week 11, 2003: Chiefs, 9-0, fresh off the SI cover, travel to up-and-down Cincinnati. The Bengals, destined for an 8-8 finish, stun Chiefs 24-19. Week 11, 2008: Titans, 9-0, a week removed from SI cover, travel to up-and-down Jacksonville. The Jags, destined for an 8-8 finish, stun Titans 24-19.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 24, Tennessee Titans 19

Benji says:

I agree with your pick, Your Majesty, if not your reasoning. Let’s give that desperation formula one more spin, shall we? The Jaguars are a talented team (I picked them to make it to the AFC Championship Game) playing at home in a game that they desperately need to win.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 24, Tennessee Titans 19

San Diego Chargers (4-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)

The King says:

They don’t come much more must-winnish in Week 11 than this one for Pittsburgh, which must stop the bleeding and restore a little bit of Ben Roethlisberger’s confidence after a horrific game against Indy. On the flip side, I predict there will be steam coming out of Charger GM A.J. Smith’s ears after the game — and that does not bode well for the January job prospects of one Norval Turner.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, San Diego Chargers 16

Benji says:

Your Majesty, do you truly believe that the Steelers are in a more desperate situation than the Chargers are right now? If Pittsburgh loses, at 6-4 it is still in good shape to grab a wildcard berth and/or compete for the division title with Baltimore; if the Chargers lose, then their season is pretty much over. Ben Roethlisberger needs to take better care of the ball than he has over the last few weeks because the Chargers, if nothing else, can score some points through the air if given the opportunity. It should be a close game, but I think that San Diego’s playoff chances survive to see another week…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20

St. Louis Rams (2-7) at San Francisco 49ers (2-7)

The King says:

I’m reminded of a “Chicago” song of my youth: Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 23, St. Louis Rams 10

Benji says:

In a battle of the NFC West bottom feeders, I will take the ‘9ers because they showed a tremendous amount of effort and resilience in their Monday Night game with the Cardinals and came up one yard short of a victory, while the Rams were shellacked by the Jets.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 27, St. Louis Rams 20

Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at Seattle Seahawks (2-7)

The King says:

The cavalry rides in for Seattle. The cavalry is bald. See if you can figure that one out.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 22, Arizona Cardinals 20

Benji says:

Matt Hasselbeck’s return to the Seahawks will not be enough to lead them to a win over the division leading Cardinals and quarterback Kurt Warner. Seattle’s defensive backs are no match for Arizona’s talented receivers, and its front seven has struggled to pressure the passer this season. Even if Arizona plays an average game, Seattle’s defense will be unable to stop it from scoring.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 30, Seattle Seahawks 20

Dallas Cowboys (5-4) at Washington Redskins (6-3)

The King says:

King drinks Tony Romo Kool Aid. Totally buys into Cowboys getting fixed by return of fearless leader. Ignores one of leakiest offensive lines in football. Will get comeuppance Sunday at midnight.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, Washington Redskins 23

Benji says:

Benji also drinks Tony Romo Kool Aid…partly because Benji does not drink the Washington Redskins Kool Aid. Washington is a weak 6-3, only scoring 0.3 points more than it has allowed (19 to 18.7). With Romo back in the fold, the Cowboys’ offense should start scoring points again like it has for the past couple seasons. I doubt that the Redskins’ offense, which, again, is averaging fewer than 20 points a game, will be able to keep up.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, Washington Redskins 19

Cleveland Browns (3-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-4)

The King says:

First game in NFL history played with protective netting around both quarterbacks. You know why? Because the offensive coordinators in this game, Rob Chudzinski and Turk Schonert, are smarter than we are.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 20, Cleveland Browns 18

Benji says:

While I have not been overly impressed with Trent Edwards the past few weeks (his lack of pocket mobility and unwillingness to take a hit while delivering the ball were very troubling in last week’s game against Denver), I suppose that with Buffalo at 5-4, this game qualifies for my desperation factor formula as well. Buffalo is a talented team, playing at home in a game that it needs to win if it wants to have any shot at winning the division or earning a wild card berth.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 23, Cleveland Browns 20

King Says, Benji Says (Week 11 Thursday Edition)

November 13, 2008

a_have-a-sweet-thursday4

I’m late submitting this post, so I’ll shy away from the verbal fanfare. Without further ado, here are our picks for the Thursday Night game:

New York Jets (6-3) at New England Patriots (6-3)

The King says:

I know the Jets are on a mission, and the Jets have Favre to torment the young Pats’ secondary, and the Jets’ fans will collectively jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if they lose this game. I get it. I hear it. But since the Pats’ meltdown at San Diego a month ago, I haven’t seen a defense bother Matt Cassel. I still can’t get over the 19-play, 92-yard drive that ate 9:08 of the fourth quarter in the Pats’ win over Buffalo the other day. “We said in the huddle [early in the fourth quarter], let’s score a touchdown or finish the game with the ball in our hands,” Wes Welker said. That’s the confidence this offense has right now, even without Tom Brady and the top three running backs. That plus the fact New England is 11-1 in the last 12 meetings sends me over to the Pat side.

Prediction: New England Patriots 24, New York Jets 16

Benji says:

Are you as excited for this week’s Thursday night game as King and I are? No? Well, you probably do not get NFL Network then. What’s not to like in a game involving our favorite team (the Patriots) and an old gunslinger (Brett Favre) with first place in the AFC East on the line? Okay, so neither of these teams is probably as good as its 6-3 record would seem to indicate. The Jets shellacked the Steven Jackson-less Rams last weekend while the Patriots took advantage of a reeling Bills team. Still, this match-up has major playoff implications and the winner will be in pretty good shape down the stretch. I do not trust the New England secondary, but the front seven (now minus Adalius Thomas though) has played well enough to prevent teams from having time to throw the ball downfield successfully. The Jets’ defense played very well against a Rams team that was missing its best player, but I do not trust it for a second. I’ll take the Patriots here, simply because the game is at New England and their defense is a bit more trustworthy in my estimation.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, New York Jets 20

King Says, Benji Says (Week 10)

November 7, 2008

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After much pomp and debauchery and several cases of champagne during our joint party celebrating Obama’s electoral victory, His Majesty and I have again gone our separate ways. I apologize for the censored version of our celebration photo, but I found out this morning that Elizabeth Dole is on the WordPress board of directors—thus, all “godless” content is subject to censorship. If you wait a couple of days, I imagine that my Lindsay Lohan body shot photo will leak out and get posted on Deadspin. The old adage “What happens on election night stays on election night” went the way of the dodo when Al Gore invented the internet, despite Mrs. Dole’s best attempts at recreating the Victorian age.

Change is indeed in the air—and I’m not just referring to our next president. After a convincing win by the Steelers over the Redskins on Monday Night Football, I ended the week with a two pick advantage over His Majesty. And as of Friday morning, after the Broncos defeated the Browns in a shootout, I have cut The King’s overall lead down to single digits. The football world desperately needs a leader who can inspire and bring hope to millions of fantasy football and pick ‘em players and erase the memory of a fallen King who has led them astray. Can I be that leader? Only time will tell…

Last Week:

Peter King (7-7)
Benji (9-5)
Brian (9-5)

Overall (not including the Thursday game):

Peter King (85-45)
Benji (75-55)
Brian (81-49)

New Orleans Saints (4-4) at Atlanta Falcons (5-3)

The King says:

All those who thought the Falcons would be 6-3 after nine games, raise your hands. Hmmmmm. Only one? No, Mr. Blank! Your vote doesn’t count.


Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 22, New Orleans Saints 16

Benji says:

While the home team’s dominance in NFC South divisional games this year has been well documented around these parts, all streaks were made to be broken. The New Orleans Saints, although they have scored the most points of any team in the division, are just now finding their offensive identity. A now healthy Deuce McAlister is giving New Orleans the hard running balance that its offense desperately needed, and top receiver Marques Colston is finally back and healthy. It all seemed to come together for the Saints’ offense two weeks ago in the team’s London victory over the Chargers and I expect that success to carry over to this game. Could this turn into a shootout? Absolutely. And I’ll take Drew Brees over rookie Matt Ryan in that situation every time until I am proven wrong.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 34, Atlanta Falcons 27

Tennessee Titans (8-0) at Chicago Bears (5-3)

The King says:

Curses! Now we don’t get to see 0-11 Detroit host 11-0 Tennessee on Thanksgiving Day. I’m picking Chicago here because at some point Tennessee is going to lose one of these narrow donnybrooks it’s been winning.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 17, Tennessee Titans 13

Benji says:

Your Majesty, while I agree that the Titans are due to lose a game, this will not be the week it happens. Last week, I detailed Tennessee’s success in forcing turnovers and limiting giveaways. Not surprisingly, against a Green Bay team that generated enough offense to beat it, turnover differential was the difference in the game. The Titans’ defense forced two turnovers, an Aaron Rodgers interception in the end zone that took points off the board for the Packers and a sack/fumble recovery that gave the Titans a short field, while the Titans’ offense took what the defense gave it and did not turn the ball over. This week, unless Kyle Orton’s ankle miraculously heals over the next few days, the Titans’ defense will likely face off against Chicago backup quarterback Rex Grossman, a five-turnover game waiting to happen against a good defense.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 27, Chicago Bears 12

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) at Detroit Lions (0-8)

The King says:

I could easily pick no one here. Jacksonville can’t run. Detroit can’t get out of bed. And how bad must Drew Stanton be if the Lions are talking about playing Daunte Culpepper when he’s been in camp two days and Stanton’s been on the team for two years?

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 19, Detroit Lions 10

Benji says:

Jacksonville has struggled to run, but its offense depends on running the ball successfully; the Lions’ run defense is tied for 26th best in the league. Dante Culpepper still has the field vision to be a good quarterback but does not know the Lions’ offense and has lost the mobility that once made him so dangerous; The Jaguars struggle to generate a pass rush and allow opposing passers to sit in the pocket and read the field. The Lions have looked really frisky as of late, are due to win a game and are playing at home; the Jaguars do not appear to be playing with any sense of purpose, are fighting amongst themselves and are on the road. If I were a betting man, I would want no part of this game.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 20, Detroit Lions 17

Seattle Seahawks (2-6) at Miami Dolphins (4-4)

The King says:

Two things: After Sunday, every team in the AFC East will have either five or six wins — if Miami wins. It’s the lock of this week’s sked. Number two: I feel for Mike Holmgren. Listen to what swan-singing Holmgren told his beaten-up team the other day: “I told them a little story about my first job in construction. I’ll tell you, it was just awful. I mean, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I probably wanted to quit about 25 times. But I didn’t. I was 15 and my hands were bleeding and no one cared. And I wasn’t going to let my dad down, so I didn’t quit. Everybody in the room has to make choices when it gets hard. You have to make decisions. What decision you make says a lot about you and really says a lot about your future. We have a good group of guys in there. They’re professional and they’ll work.” But they won’t win.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 30, Seattle Seahawks 9

Benji says:

Holmgren had his day. Now he has Seneca Wallace. Whatever happened to Matt Hasselbeck? Have the Seahawks just decided to hold him out for the rest of the season since they are already out of the running?

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 30, Seattle Seahawks 9

Green Bay Packers (4-4) at Minnesota Vikings (4-4)

The King says:

Through nine weeks, Minnesota has given up more points than Cleveland. More than Atlanta. More than Miami. And the Packers don’t have that ridiculous Metrodome jinx anymore. Then again, they don’t have Brett Favre either.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 26, Minnesota Vikings 17

Benji says:

The Vikings’ defense, has been a huge disappointment this season, particularly against the pass (23rd in the league in passing yards allowed). If Aaron Rodgers can throw for over 300 yards against the Titans, one can only imagine the possibilities in store for him in the Metrodome on Sunday.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 30, Minnesota Vikings 20

Buffalo Bills (5-3) at New England Patriots (5-3)

The King says:

Remember the Bills’ mid-October optimism, when San Diego left Orchard Park like a beaten dog? Buffalo was 5-1 and in control of the AFC East headed into a three-game stretch of AFC East games. They’ve started 0-2. They’ll add another loss here because two vital defensive pieces, Aaron Schobel and Donte’ Whitner, will be MIA with injuries.

Prediction: New England Patriots 23, Buffalo Bills 15

Benji says:

Buffalo’s defense has not been awful the last two weeks, Your Majesty. The root of the Bills’ problems is their sudden inability to take care of the football on offense (four turnovers in the last two games plus four offensive fumbles that they managed to recover). Losing Schobel and Whitner certainly does not help matters any, though. Can Buffalo get back on track on the road against the Patriots? Anything is possible, but New England looks like the better team at the moment…

Prediction: New England Patriots 20, Buffalo Bills 17

St. Louis Rams (2-6) at New York Jets (5-3)

The King says:

In no city, and with no fan base, does a single game lead to a feeling in the following days of either euphoria or disaster the way it does with Don Maynard’s old team. Speaking of Maynard, he told me something Wednesday on Sirius NFL Radio that I shan’t soon forget. He said he’s been a plumber in Texas in his first four offseasons because he could make $8,500. “I learned two things,” Maynard said. “Them pipes don’t bend. And manure don’t go uphill.”

Prediction: New York Jets 16, St. Louis Rams 14

Benji says:

Your Majesty, perhaps it would make more sense to explain the reasoning behind your pick in a game that you expect to be close rather than discussing pipes and septic systems. I believe that the Rams are in serious trouble in this game, because Steven Jackson is probably not going to play. Marc Bulger can probably have success through the air against a suspect New York secondary but only if his team can get something going in the ground game. The Jets’ passing game is nothing to write home about, but then again, the Rams’ pass defense is not exactly stellar. I believe that the Jets will win this one and become the worst 6-3 team in recent memory.

Prediction: New York Jets 27, St. Louis Rams 20

Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at Houston Texans (3-5)

The King says:

This is the hurricane makeup game from Week 2, and the only benefit to Houston is that the Ravens have most of their secondary blown away with injuries now. But the temporarily hot Matt Schaub will miss a couple of weeks with a sprained knee, so the Ravens will try to knock backup Sage Rosenfels into next week. And succeed.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 29, Houston Texans 13

Benji says:

Maybe I am still the only one on his bandwagon, but I really like Sage Rosenfels much more than Matt Schaub. Rosenfels (who threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns) gave the Texans a shot to win the game against the Vikings last week after Schaub laid an egg (turning the ball over twice in limited action before leaving with an injury). Schaub would have been a sitting duck against the Ravens’ pressure based defense, but I believe that Rosenfels, who has much better pocket presence, will be able to find the openings that are sure to be there in the banged up Baltimore secondary. Also, I am convinced that Joe Flacco’s offensive surge late in the game against the Browns was a rare Cleveland mirage.

Prediction: Houston Texans 24, Baltimore Ravens 17

Carolina Panthers (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-6)

The King says:

Now don’t quote me on this, but I hear Al Davis is going to walk into the locker room at halftime, when the Raiders will have minus-47 total yards, and he’s going to fire JaMarcus Russell, sign Jeff George on the spot, and tell Tom Cable that George is starting the second half.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 16, Oakland Raiders 2

Benji says:

I have nothing good or interesting to say about this game, so let me fill this space by commenting on your predicted score-line. Two total points for the Raiders? I cannot even imagine this defense making a third down stop, let alone force a safety…

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 28, Oakland Raiders 6

Indianapolis Colts (4-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

The King says:

Have you seen a pass rush come in waves like Pittsburgh’s did the other night in Washington? First James Harrison, then LaMarr Woodley, then James Farrior … it got dizzying after a while. I’m not sure of much in Week 10 of the NFL, but I can promise you that Peyton Manning will walk out of the ketchup bottle with more black-and-blues than when he walked in.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Indianapolis Colts 13

Benji says:

Pittsburgh’s defense is pretty stingy (allowing the fewest yards per game in the NFL) and I just do not trust the Colts’ offense. Peyton Manning won a tough game at home against the Patriots in a much-win situation—I cannot see him replicating that performance here, unless he starts getting some help from the running game and his defense does a better job of stopping the run. Willie Parker is out, Roethlisberger is likely out and my prediction remains unaffected, because I know that their backups (Mwelde Moore and Byron Leftwich) are very capable and that this Pittsburgh defense is truly dominant.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Indianapolis Colts 16

Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) at San Diego Chargers (3-5)

The King says:

I repeat my note of 10 days ago: San Diego will win the AFC West. And Norv Turner’s career bio someday will not have an asterisk by the 2008 season, with a notation below of “by default.”

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 23, Kansas City Chiefs 6

Benji says:

I am not quite ready to award the Chargers the AFC West title—they have to beat the Broncos and show some week-to-week consistency before I start taking them seriously again. If they cannot beat the Chiefs, though, they might as well pack it in.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 34, Kansas City Chiefs 24

New York Giants (7-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-3)

The King says:

You mean the Eagles are favored in this game? Like the Jints are somehow diminished on the road, or cowed by playing at the big, bad Linc? They’ve won 13 of the past 14 on the road. I say they make it 14 of 15, because Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward will put a 143-yard combo platter on the JimJohnsons.

Prediction: New York Giants 20, Philadelphia Eagles 13

Benji says:

Vegas handicapping aside, you should consider favoring the Eagles in this game, Your Majesty. The Giants have been playing sloppily the last few weeks and it has to come back to haunt them eventually. The Eagles’ offense is just coming into its own now—Donovan McNabb finally has a full set of capable receivers (Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis are back and in game shape now) and his most potent offensive weapon, Brian Westbrook (who suffered a ribcage injury a few weeks back), has finally healed up. If you are looking for the Giants’ pass-rushers to repeat their decisive onslaught from the last two games, you will be sorely disappointed. The Eagles do a very good job of pass blocking and McNabb will be much more successful in this game than you are implying, Your Majesty. After all, this game means much more to the Eagles than it does to the Giants…

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, New York Giants 20

San Francisco 49ers (2-6) at Arizona Cardinals (5-3)

The King says:

Before the game, Ken Whisenhunt sidles up to Kurt Warner and says, “Hey, wipe that drool off your facemask.”

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 31, San Francisco 49ers 13

Benji says:

This might very well be the worst Monday Night match-up of the season. Look for the Cardinals’ offense to rack up some serious yardage against a very mediocre 49ers defense.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 35, San Francisco 49ers 16

King Says, Benji Says (Week 10 Early Edition)

November 6, 2008

earlyedition

I apologize for not writing any posts earlier this week—The King and I decided to settle our sports writing differences over a case of champagne as we celebrated Obama’s election victory. Our hangovers finally subsided today, just in time for a special early edition of King Says, Benji Says (look for the full slate of Sunday/Monday picks by 12 p.m. on Friday). Hopefully you all subscribe to NFL Network and can actually watch the game tonight…

Denver Broncos (4-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-5)

The King Says:

In a battle of moptopped midwestern high school quarterbacks, Brady Quinn beats Jay Cutler, but not because he’s a better player. Quinn has a defense that gives him a chance.

Prediction: Cleveland Browns 24, Denver Broncos 23

Benji Says:

While, like His Majesty, I’m a firm believer in change, a politician or quarterback who represents change has to prove himself to me before I am willing to back him. Obama passed the test a long time ago. Will Brady Quinn? I am a little skeptical, and not just because he is a Republican. I was never all that impressed with him when he played for Notre Dame. The Browns have good pieces in place around Quinn (tight end Kellen Winslow, receivers Donte Stallworth and Braylon Edwards and running back Jamal Lewis) so if he has the ability that Browns fans believe he has, he will be successful. The Denver defense is truly abysmal but the Browns’ defense (which I celebrated as a much improved unit this season) fell apart against the Ravens’ otherwise inept offense. I believe that this game will either be a shootout (which favors Jay Cutler and the Broncos who are used to such games) or a blowout in Denver’s favor if Quinn falters. Either way I am picking the team that is in first place over the team led by a new quarterback who has yet to prove himself to me.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 30, Cleveland Browns 20