King Says, Benji Says (Week 10)

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week101

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

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