Archive for December, 2008

King Says, Benji Says (Week 17)

December 27, 2008

kingbigbirdandbenjithegrouch

Christmas has come and gone but the King/Benji picking saga continues. Entering the final week of play, His Majesty holds a nine-pick advantage over yours truly. While I have absolutely no chance of winning, I am determined to pick up some “garbage-time” points and make the final score appear closer than it actually is. I also wouldn’t mind playing the role of “spoiler” by keeping His Majesty distracted long enough for Brian to maintain his slim two-pick advantage. Hey, if I can’t beat The King, I’m sure as hell not joining him. I am a sore, grouchy loser…

Last Week:

Peter King (7-9)
Benji (8-8)
Brian (9-7)

Overall:

Peter King (153-86-1)
Benji (144-95-1)
Brian (155-84-1)

St. Louis Rams (2-13) at Atlanta Falcons (10-5)

The King says:

Repeat this piece of 2008 NFL incredulity after me: The Atlanta Falcons are playing for a first-round playoff bye. They need help from the Saints, which just might be forthcoming.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 40, St. Louis Rams 9

Benji says:

As inconceivable as the idea that the Falcons would be competing for the number two seed might have been before the season began, Your Majesty, your “repeat after me” joke falls flat because you failed to “repeat” it. Would another sentence have pushed you past your word count? I suppose that must be the case, because those Si.com editors are really strict about that sort of thing, especially when it comes to your work. Oh, you guys want one of us, at least, to talk about the Atlanta/St. Louis game? Well, the Rams are really bad on defense (they tackle sloppily and allow far too many big plays) and the Falcons’ offense is balanced and consistent.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 30, St. Louis Rams 20

New England Patriots (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-8)

The King says:

Tempted to pick the Bills. Very tempted, because the winds-will-be-strong-Sunday forecast from weather.com, on my PC, comes up in bright red letters “HIGH WINDS” for gameday — and my new underrated combo-platter at running back is Marshawn Lynch and Fred “Drag ‘Em Into The End Zone” Jackson. Last six games: 120 rushing yards per game, 5.0 yards per carry. But this game is too important for the Patriots’ D to not bring the big-boy pads.

Prediction: New England Patriots 28, Buffalo Bills 20

Benji says:

Your Majesty, as a Patriots fan, you should know better than to do something silly like conclude that a team with a good running game gains a clear advantage over New England when the weather is cold and windy. The Patriots’ offense is built around short passing that serves the same function as running the ball. As for New England’s defense, even if it “brings the big-boy pads,” who’s going to wear them? Half of the Patriots’ defensive starters are injured (listed as questionable or out for this game) and the team has very little depth at linebacker or defensive back. For the Patriots to win this game, the offense will have to play well and capitalize on the Bills’ mistakes—which, given Buffalo’s recent track record (last week’s win over Denver notwithstanding), are sure to be forthcoming.

Prediction: New England Patriots 23, Buffalo Bills 16

Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-11-1)

The King says:

Stupid Chiefs. They can’t even lose right. They solidify third place instead of fighting for second in the Matthew Stafford Draft Derby.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 20, Cincinnati Bengals 13

Benji says:

The Chiefs, unlike the Bengals, seem to be going in the right direction. I like their offense and I think that they have a solid nucleus (quarterback Tyler Thigpen, running back Larry Johnson, receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end Tony Gonzalez) to build on. Cincinnati cannot run the ball, has a big-play receiver (Chad Ocho Cinco) who has had more name changes (1) than catches of more than 26 yards (0) this season, and a fill-in quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) who has been unable to sustain drives. Let me assure you, with much confidence, that a three game winning streak is not forthcoming for the Bengals…

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 27, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Detroit Lions (0-15) at Green Bay Packers (5-9)

The King says:

History, sweet history. Sports Quiz: Name the last quarterback of a winless NFL team. I’ll give you a second. Need more time? Answer below, in Arizona-Seattle game.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31, Detroit Lions 13

Benji says:

I love sports quizzes—especially when they have answers so I can check to see if I guessed correctly. Revisit your Arizona-Seattle pick, Your Majesty, and you will note that you did not provide the promised answer to your question. Was somebody drinking spiked eggnog while he wrote up his picks this week? As for this game, I expect that the Packers will win rather easily. The Lions were blown out last week by a team (the Saints) that had nothing left to play for and have lost to the four teams with losing records that they have played this season by an average margin of 16.5 points. And no team, especially one that has already had a disappointing season, wants to be the team that Detroit beats.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 30, Detroit Lions 16

Tennessee Titans (13-2) at Indianapolis Colts (11-4)

The King says:

Vince Young lives! Imagine on Draft Day 2006 if I told you Young would be reduced to the Jim Sorgi role by the end of Year 3 in the NFL. You’d have told me I was crazy. Well, you’d be right there, but not because of the Vince Young answer.


Prediction: Tennessee Titans 28, Indianapolis Colts 13

Benji says:

In a match-up between two sets of back-ups, I will, to no one’s surprise, pick the team with more depth. Vince Young needs the reps, because Kerry Collins’ ancient body could break down at any moment.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 27, Indianapolis Colts 19

New York Giants (12-3) at Minnesota Vikings (9-6)

The King says:

Desperate team wins. Plus, I can’t see Tom Coughlin using knee-plagued Brandon Jacobs much, if at all, on the fake turf of the Metrodome. Smart thing here would be to make sure Jacobs has three weeks of real rehab before the Jints’ playoff opener on Jan. 10 or 11.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 19, New York Giants 12

Benji says:

In this case, the desperate team is lucky to be playing the Giants this week. New York has clinched the top seed in the playoffs and has no reason at all to play its starters. The Giants also pose a favorable match-up for the Vikings’ defense: their offense is run-oriented (Minnesota has the top run defense in the league) and does not have a reliable deep threat in the passing game (neutralizing the Vikings’ secondary problems). As much as it pains me to say it, there is no way that Minnesota will lose this game…unless Tarvaris Jackson completely implodes…

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 20, New York Giants 13

Carolina Panthers (11-4) at New Orleans Saints (8-7)

The King says:

This defies logic, because John Fox is not going to be keen on his team finishing the season in a slump, nor is he going to be pleased that the Panthers have gone all the way from a 2 seed to 5 in the span of eight days. But Sean Payton’s team has been explosive in home games this year — scoring 24, 31, 30, 34, 37, 51 and 29 points at home — and Drew Brees has an outside shot to make history, needing 402 passing yards to break Dan Marino’s all-time single-season record. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but neither did Buffalo winning in Denver and the Jets losing in Seattle. It’s football.


Prediction: New Orleans Saints 38, Carolina Panthers 35

Benji says:

I love the Panthers’ offense but their defense leaves a lot to be desired—Carolina has allowed over 20 points in five of its last six games. As His Majesty points out, New Orleans’ offense has been phenomenal at home this season, having scored 24 points or more in each of its six games at the Super Dome (one of those “home games” was in London, Your Majesty). Carolina has more to lose here, obviously, but the Saints are not going to go down quietly with quarterback Drew Brees gunning for the single season passing yards record. And does it really “defy logic” to pick New Orleans here when the home team is a perfect 11-0 in NFC South divisional games?

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 33, Carolina Panthers 30

Miami Dolphins (10-5) at New York Jets (9-6)

The King says:

Don’t ask why. I don’t know. I do know that Brett Favre, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Thomas Jones, Tony Richardson and Kerry Rhodes are going to play every play like it’s their last. Corny. Also true. I also think there’s a chance Chad Pennington might be a little too geeked up for this seminal event in his life. And I think the crowd will go from angry at the start to euphoric once it sees the Jets in control of the game — if not their destiny — midway through the second half.

Prediction: New York Jets 26, Miami Dolphins 24

Benji says:

Quarterback Chad Pennington has helped lead the Dolphins to where they are right now (one win away from a division title) by playing smart, mistake-free football. Over the last six weeks, Pennington has nine touchdown passes and only two interceptions; during that same span, Brett Favre has five touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Favre also under-threw the majority of his passes during the Jets’ 13-3 loss in Seattle last Sunday, leading to speculation that he has been playing through a shoulder injury. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on the quarterback who has taken better care of the ball and is healthy.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 23, New York Jets 16

Cleveland Browns (4-11) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4)

The King says:

Game ends at 4:01. At 4:01.01, Randy Lerner is dialing Bill Cowher’s cell number.


Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 38, Cleveland Browns 11

Benji says:

I apologize, His Majesty apparently got his pick for the Cleveland/Pittsburgh game confused with his latest Si.com Truth and Rumors post. As for the game, the Steelers’ backups are better than Cleveland’s starters at this point in the season. When you find yourself looking for a replacement for Ken Dorsey at quarterback, you know it’s been a rough year…

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Cleveland Browns 9

Oakland Raiders (4-11) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)

The King says:

Ronde Barber is mad. Derrick Brooks is mad. Monte Kiffin, who doesn’t have a mad bone in his body, is mad. The last game in the proud pro coaching history of Kiffin will not go like the past three.


Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30, Oakland Raiders 0

Benji says:

For Tampa’s sake, I hope all of this anger that His Majesty speaks of translates into some results on the field. The Buccaneers have been unable to stop the run the last few weeks, and it has cost them dearly. Oakland surely will come out rushing (the Raiders are terrible at passing the ball), so Tampa better be ready to hold down the ground game or it can kiss its slim playoff chances goodbye…

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Oakland Raiders 17

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) at Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

The King says:

In the past 10 games, Baltimore’s lost to the full-strength Giants and replay-fortunate Steelers. That’s it. The Ravens have won five road games, toyed with Philly and Washington at home, and built up the confidence of Joe Flacco for his first playoff start ever — at either the Dolphins, Jets or Pats, most likely. Flacco played only one of them this year, Miami. At Miami. And he had his highest-rated game of the year (120.2), a 27-13 win over the Fish.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 9

Benji says:

The two teams that Flacco struggled against during the past 10 games (Pittsburgh and the Giants) were able to pressure him consistently and therefore force him into making mistakes. Jacksonville’s defense struggles to rush the passer, and thus I believe it will not pose much of a problem for the Ravens’ rookie quarterback. Meanwhile, the only weakness I can think of with Baltimore’s defense is its vulnerability to deep passing plays. Rest assured, David Garrard (and his slow-footed, stone-handed receiving corps) will not be able to take advantage.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Chicago Bears (8-6) at Houston Texans (7-8)

The King says:

Tough one to pick, because you don’t know the Houston motivation, and the Bears obviously have hopes for a division title. It comes down to not trusting the Bears’ offense to win a biggie.

Prediction: Houston Texans 24, Chicago Bears 20

Benji says:

In a game between two equal teams, played under favorable weather conditions, I’ll take Chicago, simply because it has much more to gain by winning (the NFC North division title if Minnesota loses). Also, one does have to wonder about the motivation of the Houston players after they lost to the Raiders by multiple scores last week.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 23, Houston Texans 16

Seattle Seahawks (4-11) at Arizona Cardinals (8-7)

The King says:

Solving nothing. No one trusts the Cardinals to do anything but show up at the stadium for the Wild Card game.


Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 20, Seattle Seahawks 16

Benji says:

The Cardinals’ offense has disappeared and they need to find it again fast or they will be blown out of the playoffs. A solid effort here against a weak opponent could help Arizona regain some of its lost confidence. In my mind, the Cardinals have a lot to play for in this game…

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 30, Seattle Seahawks 13

Dallas Cowboys (9-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-6)

The King says:

Not sure what’s louder by game’s end — boos for Terrell Owens or chants to fire Andy Reid. Dallas has won one road game in the past 13 weeks, by the way. I’m picking the Cowboys because I don’t like the Philly offense — at all — and because I think Tony Romo’s tired of hearing what a useless player he is when the games get very big.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 24, Philadelphia Eagles 20

Benji says:

I have seen plenty of evidence of Tony Romo playing poorly in big-game situations, and while I’m not ready to write him off yet, I’m certainly not giving him the benefit of the doubt in a game like this one. The Eagles might very well be eliminated from the playoffs before this game begins, but they will still play hard against their hated division rival.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, Dallas Cowboys 24

Washington Redskins (8-7) at San Francisco 49ers (6-9)

The King says:

Job haiku for the Redskin coach:
Memo to Jim Zorn:
Don’t trust an owner till the
Calendar says “JAN”‘

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 23, Washington Redskins 17

Benji says:

Washington certainly has the more talented team, but Mike Singletary has done a great job of motivating his players and getting them to play hard against teams with playoff aspirations. The Redskins are also sure to suffer a bit of a let-down as they have already been eliminated from the playoffs and are traveling to the West Coast to play after an emotional “spoiler” win at home last week against division rival Philadelphia.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 23, Washington Redskins 17

Denver Broncos (8-7) at San Diego Chargers (7-8)

The King says:

Midway through the fourth quarter, a muscular man with sunglasses and Padres cap on sneaks into the stadium, stands in the end zone, and watches the final minute or so tick off the scoreboard, with Philip Rivers completing a two-point conversion pass to win the game. The man smiles knowingly, and sneaks out of Qualcomm while the fans blow the roof off the place. Strange. No one notices Ed Hochuli leaving.


Prediction: Denver Broncos 39, San Diego Chargers 38

Benji says:

Despite their lackluster record and inconsistent play this season, the Chargers were and still are a better team than the Broncos, and now, because of Denver’s terrible play down the stretch, they will get the chance to prove it on the field. I still do not trust either of these teams, but San Diego has the edge in talent and experience and at least has some semblance of a defense. I need to pause, however, in order to reflect upon your pick, Your Majesty: you clearly state that you expect Rivers to convert a two-point conversion to win the game, but then you pick the Broncos. Someone needs to lay off the eggnog, methinks…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 30, Denver Broncos 20

Brian and Herm Edwards

December 23, 2008


https://i0.wp.com/cache.deadspin.com/assets/resources/2007/12/herm.jpg

In this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback, Peter King tells a funny story about how well running back Leon Washington has worked out as the fourth round pick the Jets received as compensation when then head coach Herm Edwards left for the Chiefs. King writes:

Remember at the time how the Jets got bashed for not getting enough for Edwards? I’d say Washington is plenty good: 2,187 yards from scrimmage (5.6 yards per touch from scrimmage) and 18 touchdowns in his three years as a change-of-pace back; this year, he leads all NFL players with 10 gains of more than 40 yards. In Edwards’ three years, he’s coached one playoff team, has a record of 15-33, and is on thin ice as the Chiefs move to replace Carl Peterson soon after the season.

Well, King, I actually didn’t remember there being an uproar over this coach-for-draft pick exchange so I went back and checked what you wrote at the time (January 2006). Here’s your take on what happened.

Why is the league sitting idly by and basically allowing coaches to be traded for draft choices? Is it in the best interests of the league for a coach with a perfectly valid contract to be traded? And to be traded for the absurdly low price of a fourth-round draft pick?  Do you honestly think the value of a coach who has led his team to the playoffs in three of his five seasons is worth a four? That’s absurd enough. But the NFL, in letting a trade like this to happen, is prolonging a practice that is slowly but surely become a sordid, greedy part of the NFL.

I guess when King writes that “the Jets got bashed,” he really means, “I bashed the Jets.” King, please write what you mean, and besides, you enhance your arguments when you write in the active voice. C’mon, that’s Writing 101.

Benji and the Jets

December 22, 2008

favresackedinthesnow

Rumors of the Jets’ demise have been greatly (or at least somewhat) exaggerated.

In today’s Monday Morning Quarterback, His Majesty sums up the Jets’ recent slide as follows:

The Jets have lost four straight games — games they were favored to win.

Sorry, Your Majesty, but that statement is simply not true. The Jets defeated the Bills 31-27 last week and have therefore lost three of four games, not four straight. The Jets have played terribly over the past month, and lost a game yesterday afternoon to a 3-11 team by only managing to score three points—their recent resume certainly speaks for itself. Yet, you could not resist the opportunity to use hyperbole and false statements to try to make an already undeniable point stronger…or maybe you just need to find a proofreader? I’m unemployed and already spend half of my waking hours reading through your articles…maybe I’ll include my resume in my next post…

Update: The Royal Revisionist strikes again! His Majesty went back and edited his original error. I am to assume then that anything The King writes can be secretly revised after it is published? Thanks, internet…

King Says, Benji Says (Week 16)

December 20, 2008

benjiandkingknowkungfu

Thursday night picks are so overrated. Am I right? His Majesty and I needed some alone time so that we could settle our differences in the wake of our “trial separation” last week (when I briefly left him for Brian). Both The King and I (as well as nearly every other football analyst out there) expected the Colts to win and they did. The Jaguars kept the score close, however, losing by a single touchdown. I see myself as the picking equivalent of a 5-9 division rival in my match-up with The King, and while he has an insurmountable lead on me with two weeks remaining, I would love to narrow that gap and make the final score a respectable one. After all, I need to find something to build on for next year…

Last Week:

Peter King (11-5)
Benji (11-5)
Brian (9-7)

Overall (not including the Thursday game):

Peter King (146-77-1)
Benji (136-87-1)
Brian (146-77-1)

Baltimore Ravens (9-5) at Dallas Cowboys (9-5)

The King says:

Although I arrived late, I scalped a ticket and bought a permanent cushy seat on the Joe Flacco bandwagon. And maybe this is unfair, but it’s time for Flacco to make a play to save the Ravens’ season. In the past two weeks, Flacco’s a 43-percent passer. In the past two weeks, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s averaging 6.9 yards per attempt, Flacco 5.1. I know the defenses are getting paid too, but kid, it’s time to grow up. Fast.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 16, Baltimore Ravens 13

Benji says:

I’m trying to figure out why you’re jumping on the Flacco bandwagon now, Your Majesty, when, as you point out, he has not played well down the stretch. It actually sounds to me as though you are jumping off his bandwagon, as you call on him to “make a play to save the Ravens’ season” and then predict that he will not come through. Clichés and effective analysis have always had a rocky relationship at best, but you just took that disjunction to a whole new level. As for the game? The Ravens have a very good defense but it can be beaten by big plays, as the Colts demonstrated last month. The Dallas offense, which is more than capable of producing big plays in the passing game, is playing really well right now in contrast with its Baltimore counterpart.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 27, Baltimore Ravens 17

Cincinnati Bengals (2-11) at Cleveland Browns (4-10)

The King says:

Someone check Braylon Edwards’ birth certificate. I think he’s 12. Did you see those woe-is-me comments from him the other day? Wrong time, Braylon. Waaaaaaaaay wrong.


Prediction: Cleveland Browns 23, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Benji says:

Your Majesty, while I agree with your assessment of Braylon Edwards—he really does come across as having the emotional maturity of a 12-year old—I fail to see how this observation is helpful in explaining why you think that the Browns will win the game. The Bengals just beat the Redskins (a decent team), while the Browns were blown out by the Eagles on Monday Night. While Cincinnati’s quarterback situation is not ideal, Ryan Fitzpatrick looks like Carson Palmer compared to Ken Dorsey. But what do I know? Braylon Edwards’ immature antics will surely inspire his team to play at a higher level…

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 26, Cleveland Browns 13

New Orleans Saints (7-7) at Detroit Lions (0-14)

The King says:

You know, if I keep picking the Lions, they have to win some week. Don’t they? I guess I look at it this way: I can’t believe a team can go 0-16 in this era’s NFL, and I can’t believe with the effort Rod Marinelli has these guys giving they’re going 0-16. If Detroit can stop Pierre Thomas (this is what it’s come to for New Orleans), the Leos will be 1-14 Sunday night.


Prediction: Detroit Lions 23, New Orleans Saints 21

Benji says:

History says that the Lions will find a way to win a game, but I don’t see it happening against the Saints. New Orleans’ offense will put plenty of points on the board and I cannot see the Lions keeping up unless the Saints’ defense completely falls apart. I maintain that Detroit’s best opportunity to win a game was two weeks ago against the Vikings…

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 34, Detroit Lions 23

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) at Tennessee Titans (12-2)

The King says:

I want you to understand what a feat it is that Pittsburgh has not allowed 300 yards in any game this season. Case in point, Atlanta is playing good defense this year — only 11 teams have allowed fewer points. The Falcons have allowed 12 of 14 foes to gain more than 300 yards in a game this year.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 19, Tennessee Titans 12

Benji says:

Your Majesty, I agree with you that Pittsburgh’s defense this season has been pretty impressive but I wish that you had spent a little more time discussing this very important match-up, which will likely decide the number one seed in the AFC. The Titans are hurting right now, so I do not seem them pulling this one out either. Without defensive tackle Albert Haynseworth and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch in the line-up, Tennessee will struggle to produce a consistent pass rush without blitzing. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is more than capable of finding openings down the field and should be able to take advantage.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Tennessee Titans 13

Miami Dolphins (9-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-12)

The King says:

If you haven’t noticed, this is the score of every Miami game. Every week.


Prediction: Miami Dolphins 20, Kansas City Chiefs 16

Benji says:

I am more than a little confused by your analysis for this game, but I suppose that The King’s words work in mysterious ways. Miami has not scored exactly 20 points in any game this season, only one of its opponents has scored exactly 16 points in a game, and you normally predict strange lopsided scores in Miami’s games, despite the fact that its offense cannot convert on third down. All that being said, the Dolphins do not make critical mistakes on offense and are much less likely than the Jets to lose a late-season game to a bad team.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 20, Kansas City Chiefs 17

San Francisco 49ers (5-9) at St. Louis Rams (2-12)

The King says:

So I’m on a two-game losing streak in my WEEI Fantasy League in Boston. (Don’t ask me for fantasy tips. I stink like swine.) And this morning, I picked up Shaun Hill to replace Donovan McNabb at quarterback. Shaun, if you want positive press in the most prestigious sports magazine in the world, you’ll throw for 343 and three touchdowns Sunday.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 31, St. Louis Rams 13

Benji says:

As a former reader of The King’s “fantasy tips” segment a few years back, I can attest to his swine-like stinking. He could be onto something here, but I would still take my chances with McNabb. Oh, sorry, we were supposed to talk about the game, not the fantasy implications of a single player involved. Well, regardless of how Shaun Hill plays for the 49ers, I still think they win easily against the Rams, who are truly awful.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 26, St. Louis Rams 13

Arizona Cardinals (8-6) at New England Patriots (9-5)

The King says:

Cards have lost three East Coast games by an average of 22 points, and I will join A-Rod at Kabbalah classes if the Pats don’t make it 0-4. Forecast for Sunday, 1 p.m. in Foxboro: 33 degrees, 17-mph winds, 60 percent chance of flurries.

Prediction: New England Patriots 29, Arizona Cardinals 10

Benji says:

Regardless of the weather forecast (and worrying about flurries in your pick is a bit of a stretch), the Cardinals have almost nothing to play for right now. They clinched their division and cannot move up or down in the playoff seeding. Arizona may bench receiver Anquan Boldin so as to get him healthy for the playoffs, which leads me to believe that it is not really concerned with the outcome of this game. New England needs to win out in order to be assured of a playoff spot and will surely put forth a good effort in this game.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Arizona Cardinals 13

San Diego Chargers (6-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5)

The King says:

The Bucs need to beat the Chargers and Raiders at home to be in prime playoff position. I can’t confirm this, but I think Jon Gruden just sent a love letter to Howard Katz, the NFL TV honcho who presides over schedule-making, for this sweet end-of-season slate.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24, San Diego Chargers 6

Benji says:

I’m sure the schedule didn’t look quite as sweet back when it was made, as the Chargers were widely viewed as Super Bowl contenders. San Diego is still capable of winning this game, but I do not trust this team at all. The Chargers have been inconsistent all season long, and have not played well enough on the road for me to justify picking them to win here. Still, Tampa’s defense has not looked very good over the past few weeks and its offense has trouble scoring points…

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16, San Diego Chargers 13

Buffalo Bills (6-8) at Denver Broncos (8-6)

The King says:

The Bills will play hard, and I’m not sure what the Broncos will play for, after learning they’ve clinched the AFC West shortly after the opening kickoff.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 20, Buffalo Bills 19

Benji says:

I tend to agree with you, Your Majesty, because I do not see the Chargers traveling to Tampa and beating the Buccaneers. The Bills make so many critical mistakes, however, that, like you, I cannot in good conscience pick them to win a game right now.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 20, Buffalo Bills 19

Houston Texans (7-7) at Oakland Raiders (3-11)

The King says:

Prediction: This will be a single-play highlight on NBC’s “Football Night in America.” And it will be Matt Schaub throwing a 63-yard touchdown pass in the McAfee muck to Andre Johnson.

Prediction: Houston Texans 38, Oakland Raiders 13

Benji says:

After knocking off the Titans and the then-desperate Packers in consecutive weeks, the Texans are starting to turn some heads. It’s too bad that they started off the season so poorly (and with so many road games due to Hurricane Ike) because they are playing well enough to beat just about any team in the AFC right now. I agree with you, Your Majesty, The Raiders will be completely outclassed in this game.

Prediction: Houston Texans 38, Oakland Raiders 13

Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at Minnesota Vikings (9-5)

The King says:

Pat Williams’ absence with a broken shoulder is the answer to the prayers of Michael Turner (27 carries, 120 yards, 37 minutes of Falcons possession time).

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 23, Minnesota Vikings 16

Benji says:

Even with Pat Williams out, I don’t think you can beat Minnesota simply by running the ball. The key to this game will be Atlanta receiver Roddy White, who should find plenty of openings against the Vikings’ unreliable pass defense (22nd in the league in yards allowed). I also feel like Minnesota’s inconsistent starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is due for a bad game after two straight solid outings…

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 27, Minnesota Vikings 19

New York Jets (9-5) at Seattle Seahawks (3-11)

The King says:

A 19-point loss at San Diego is understandable. A three-point loss at Oakland is not. A 10-point loss at San Francisco … well, that’s what you call a trend. The Jets and the West Coast don’t mix this year, particularly not when it’s the relatively beloved Mike Holmgren’s last game in Seattle … and Kathy Holmgren is raising the 12th Man Flag up the flagpole in the south end zone before the game. If you haven’t been to Qwest, let me explain this: Raising that flag is the latter-day equivalent of Harry Caray singing in the 7th. Very big out there.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 22, New York Jets 20

Benji says:

I’m not sure if it’s just the West Coast travel element that has hurt the Jets this season—I think they might just have a mediocre team. New York’s run defense is solid (ranked sixth in the league at 3.7 yards per carry) but its pass defense is ranked 29th in the league in passing yards allowed. Its running game is solid but its passing offense is a complete mystery, looking unstoppable some weeks and completely ineffective in others. The Jets are more than capable of losing to a Seattle team that almost beat the Patriots a few weeks back—the weather conditions (an 80 percent chance of snow) would seem to favor the team with the better running game and run defense, though, so I’ll stake my claim with the Jets.

Prediction: New York Jets 23, Seattle Seahawks 16

Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) at Washington Redskins (7-7)

The King says:

Late in the game, all Dan Snyder can think is: “Now where’d I put Mike Holmgren’s cell number?”

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 24, Washington Redskins 16

Benji says:

The Redskins have completely imploded at this point, and will likely be without the services of running back Clinton Portis. The Eagles should win this game very easily. Any speculation about the future coaching situation in Washington seems a bit premature, though, Your Majesty. We are picking football games here, not gossiping on Si.com’s Truth and Rumors site…

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, Washington Redskins 13

Carolina Panthers (11-3) at New York Giants (11-3)

The King says:

Well, look on the bright side, Giants: At least you’re going to score a touchdown. This game will come down to a battle of run defenses, and a duel of the biggest back in the game, Brandon Jacobs (playing hurt) and a mid-sized back playing like Brandon Jacobs, DeAngelo Williams. I think Williams breaks 100.


Prediction: Carolina Panthers 17, New York Giants 13

Benji says:

The Panthers’ running game looks unstoppable right now and the Giants’ looks completely stagnant. Teams are playing base defenses against New York and forcing quarterback Eli Manning to beat them by throwing deep. Without a deep play threat and with Brandon Jacobs still hurting (even if he plays), the Giants’ offense is in serious trouble right now. Three weeks ago, I would not have even considered picking the Panthers to win this game, and now I do not see how they can lose.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 27, New York Giants 17

Green Bay Packers (5-9) at Chicago Bears (8-6)

The King says:

For those wanting to blame the Packers falling to 5-10 on Aaron Rodgers replacing Brett Favre, I bring you these two numbers: 339 and 243. The first is how many points the Pack has allowed through 14 games this year. The second is how many points they allowed through 14 games last year.


Prediction: Chicago Bears 24, Green Bay Packers 20

Benji says:

I believe that a few weeks back, YOU implied that the Packers would have a better record right now with Brett Favre at quarterback, Your Majesty. I’m not going to let that one slide, either—expect a follow-up post in the near future…. As for this game, the Bears’ offense has looked shaky as of late, but Chicago has so much more to play for than Green Bay right now. I expect running back Matt Forte to have a huge day against the Packers’ horrendous run defense, which is allowing 4.8 yards per carry.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 23, Green Bay Packers 16

Ten Things Benji Thinks He Thinks

December 17, 2008

pontificate

The King doesn’t get mad, he gets even: After I abandoned him and our weekly football picking date for a weekend with Brian, His Majesty took advantage of my absence by writing a pair of columns filled with absurd and unsubstantiated assertions. In response, I have decided to create my own version of The King’s favorite (and most nonsensical/disorganized) section of his Monday Morning Quarterback articles. Just as life imitates art, Benji imitates King…

Ten Things Benji Thinks He Thinks:

1. While His Majesty certainly has a fair argument to make about the controversial touchdown call made at the end of the Ravens/Steelers game (I agree with him that there was not “indisputable evidence” to overturn the original ruling that the ball did not break the plane of the goal-line), he concludes his analysis with a strange stance on how people connected to the league might respond to the situation:

I’m sure we’ll hear cries to abolish replay in the coming days, which is ridiculous.

Why people would respond to problems with the way the replay system is utilized by calling for its removal is beyond me. Such an idea does sound “ridiculous,” Your Majesty—as you point out in the following sentence, the reason for the controversial ruling was not a failing in the replay system but one on the part of the referee in charge of making the call. There’s no way that any logical person would complain about the accuracy of a call and then demand the removal of a system which allows a play to be reviewed so that the most accurate call possible can be made.

c. In the Fine Fifteen Section of this week’s MMQB, His Majesty makes an interesting characterization of San Diego’s offensive identity in regard to its match-up with the Buccaneers this weekend:

The Bucs have the proverbial must win coming up Sunday at home against San Diego, and they’d better wear their big-boy pads for that one because the Chargers will come in rushing.

The King must have this year’s Chargers team confused with the ‘06/’07 Chargers. Back in the day, San Diego running back LaDanian Tomlinson rushed for over 1800 yards, scored 28 rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. This season, the Chargers rank 27th in the league in rushing yards per game, and Tomlinson is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry, tying the career low mark he set back in his rookie season. Perhaps Tampa Bay should focus more on quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ effective passing offense, which ranks seventh in the league in yards per game…

10. In this week’s MMQB Tuesday Edition, His Majesty responds to the following email about Matt Cassel and his father’s recent death:

“I’m amazed at how little attention Matt Cassel’s performance in the wake of his father’s passing received on a national level. When Brett Favre had a similar performance in Oakland, albeit on Monday night, the national media went nuts, he was this great warrior, etc. Yet, today, Cassel gets a small note in the middle of a webpage. Not that Cassel’s performance needs to be the lead story for the day, but the disparity is ridiculous. Another great day in the National Favre League.”

The King’s initial argument—that the wretched state of many retired NFL players who receive little to no compensation from the league was a far-reaching and important story that belonged on the front page of his article—seems reasonable. His explanation for why Favre’s dad dying (back in December 2003) was a more important story than Cassel’s dad dying, however, is both inaccurate and insensitive. His Majesty writes, “there was some real question in coach Mike Sherman’s mind if Favre would play in the game” but suggests that there was never any doubt that Cassel would suit up last weekend. First of all, this assertion simply isn’t true: Cassel’s status for the game was most certainly in doubt, evidenced by the team not announcing him as the starter until Friday evening. Second of all, the fact that Favre had less time to deal with his father’s death before his Monday Night game against Oakland (two days as opposed to six for Cassel) does not make Cassel’s situation any less of a tragedy. I understand that Favre, in 2003, was a legendary player, adored by the media and very open with his emotions, which meant that his “triumph” in the wake of his father’s death made for a better story. There’s no way, however, that any human being is capable of recovering emotionally from the unexpected loss of a parent in less than a week. I do not particularly care about who or what His Majesty chooses to write about in his articles, but it would be nice if, at the end of the day, he recognized that the players he covers are not just fodder for his hackneyed story-lines but real people with real feelings.

King Says, Benji Says (Week 15 Thursday Edition)

December 11, 2008

benjibrianquebec

Surprise! His Majesty didn’t show up for work on time yet again. I’m okay with it, really, because if I had sustained the beating that he did last week, I would be too embarrassed to show my face around these parts too. Whatever, he can play football by himself in an empty studio—now that I’ve proven that I can live up to my true picking potential, I am in search of cooler friends. How about Brian? He almost picked as many games correctly as I did last week (12 to my 13) so I guess that he’ll do for now…

New Orleans Saints (7-6) at Chicago Bears (7-6)

Benji says:

I’m sure that His Majesty will have something to say about the warm weather Saints traveling to cold weather Chicago. He might be onto something there—while the conditions won’t be terrible (a low of 19 degrees with scattered snow showers and 10-15 mph winds), they certainly will work in Chicago’s favor: The Saints are 6-1 in their weather-neutral domed stadium, but only 1-5 on the road; quarterback Drew Brees has 19 touchdown passes and four interceptions at home, and seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the road; finally, the Bears seem to have the Saints’ number at home, as New Orleans’ season has ended in Chicago each of the last two years. There’s also a 50/50 chance that The King wastes his entire paragraph of analysis on some inane anecdote about Bears running back Matt Forte. I do tend to agree with His Majesty that Forte gives Chicago an edge, because in late season, cold weather games, passing games are neutralized to a degree and the team that can run the ball more effectively usually wins—still, unlike The King, I try to make comprehensive and coherent arguments in my analysis. Is that too much to ask for? Far too often His Majesty ends up being right, but is right for the wrong reasons or for reasons that only make sense to him.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 23, New Orleans Saints 16

King Says, Benji Says (Week 14)

December 5, 2008

benjistoodkingup

After dealing with The King’s absences and tardiness numerous times over the past few weeks, I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine: instead of showing up for work at the usual time, I came in several hours late, long after our scheduled photo shoot and pre-picks buffet lunch. As you can see from the picture, His Majesty did not handle my absence very well. I was told that he quickly brightened up, however, when he was reminded that he has a thirteen-pick lead over me in the standings. He may be an emotionally needy doofus with questionable writing skills, but dammit, the man knows how to pick football games!

Last Week:

Peter King (10-6)
Benji (9-7)
Brian (11-5)

Overall (not including the Thursday game):

Peter King (125-66-1)
Benji (112-79-1)
Brian (125-66-1)

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) at Chicago Bears (6-6)

The King says:

This game’s got Matt Forte written all over it. Strange that a guy in Chicago would be underrated, but Forte is. No other player in the NFL has touched the ball from scrimmage as much as Forte — 296 times for 1,360 yards and 10 touchdowns. (Adrian Peterson has 288 rushes/receptions, Michael Turner 286, Clinton Portis 278.) And Forte’s the reason the Bears — with three straight home games now, in December weather, in the Windy City — are still in the pennant race.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Benji says:

I was a little thrown off by your mention of the Bears’ involvement in a “pennant race,” Your Majesty, but I suppose that even playing a different sport, they have a better chance of making it to the World Series than the Cubs do. As for the Bears’ chances of making the NFL postseason, they still have a shot at winning the division if they are able to win all three of their home games down the stretch. Jacksonville should not pose much of a threat, with an offense that can only succeed by running the ball effectively matched up against Chicago’s third-ranked run defense.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Minnesota Vikings (7-5) at Detroit Lions (0-12)

The King says:

Vikes make deal with NFL devil: Take the Williams tackles back with help of some very good lawyers, win game, then lose Williamses for four games, including the wild-card game they’d have to play the first weekend of January.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 26, Detroit Lions 6

Benji says:

I know that the Lions are terrible, but I do not believe that any team in the modern era is capable of losing all of its games. Detroit will find a way to win one of its four remaining contests and as of right now this one looks like the most winnable game. The Lions are at home, against a team that does not have a consistent offense, has a weak secondary and is dealing with the distraction caused by looming suspensions to its star defensive tackles. I should also add that no team with a quarterback (Gus Frerotte) who throws an interception returned for either a touchdown or inside the ten-yard line in every game deserves to make the playoffs. At some point, these horrendous turnovers will come back to haunt Minnesota…

Prediction: Detroit Lions 20, Minnesota Vikings 16

Houston Texans (5-7) at Green Bay Packers (5-7)

The King says:

“We’re not worried about the playoffs right now,” Green Bay safety Nick Collins told us on Sirius NFL Radio’s “Opening Drive” this week. Hmmmm. Confucius say, “Man not worried about playoffs in December will be on Florida golf course in January.”


Prediction: Green Bay Packers 23, Houston Texans 20

Benji says:

Confucius say, “Man not worried about context of quote doomed to misinterpret meaning.” Your Majesty, would not your natural assumption be that Collins means the Packers are focused on winning one game at a time right now, realizing that there is no margin for error? That is, unless there is something imbedded in the rest of the quote (which you conveniently failed to disclose) that leads you to believe otherwise? As for this particular match-up, the Packers will be playing with a sense of desperation that should be enough to overcome another big game from Texans running back Steve Slaton against Green Bay’s porous run defense.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 30, Houston Texans 20

Cleveland Browns (4-8) at Tennessee Titans (11-1)

The King says:

When Josh Cribbs is taking practice snaps at quarterback, it’s time to start dreaming of April 25, 2009. NFL draft day.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 37, Cleveland Browns 12

Benji says:

Your Majesty, you seem to have completely forgotten about Ken Dorsey, the star-in-waiting quarterback primed to make his first start on Sunday. Dorsey will…ah, who am I kidding…

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 37, Cleveland Browns 12

Cincinnati Bengals (1-10-1) at Indianapolis Colts (8-4)

The King says:

Bengals radio voice Dave Lapham on Marvin Lewis’ future: “If he doesn’t come back next year, it’s his call.” Agreed. And I say he returns, unwilling to forego $7 million over the next two years.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 23, Cincinnati Bengals 9

Benji says:

His Majesty has spoken: Marvin Lewis will return as coach of the Bengals next year, if he so desires. Bengals owner Mike Brown apparently has little say in the matter—after all, to fire Lewis would mean going against a royal decree. As for this game, the Colts are poised to make a run to the playoffs and the Bengals are looking to make a run at a high pick in next year’s draft.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 27, Cincinnati Bengals 10

Atlanta Falcons (8-4) at New Orleans Saints (6-6)

The King says:

Matt Ryan haiku, just for the fun of it. At home or on road, This rook’s mindful of one man Named Peyton Manning.


Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 31, New Orleans Saints 30

Benji says:

It turns out King’s a poet and I didn’t even know it. His clever haiku, however, fails to mention the trend that has dominated the NFC South divisional match-ups this season: the home team wins every time. I have picked the Saints to buck this trend twice already and there is no way I let them snooker me in again just because their season is basically over and they are playing a team that has a realistic playoff shot.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 30, Atlanta Falcons 27

Philadelphia Eagles (6-5-1) at New York Giants (11-1)

The King says:

Or, should I say: Giants 19, Distractions 9.

Prediction: New York Giants 19, Philadelphia Eagles 9

Benji says:

Say what you will about the Giants being able to play through distractions and without Plaxico Burress—I, however, believe that the controversy surrounding Antonio Pierce (the Giants’ defensive signal caller) and his involvement in the Plaxico fiasco will end up hurting the team in the short term. Do not sell the Eagles short, either—Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook both looked much better last week and while their success came against a weak and tired Arizona defense, the Eagles’ offense is much better than it showed against the Bengals and Ravens. Remember the first match-up between these two teams: The Giants won a 36-31 shootout that could have gone either way. The Eagles know they can put up points against the Giants and need to win far more than their opponent does…

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, New York Giants 27

Washington Redskins (7-5) at Baltimore Ravens (8-4)

The King says:

I wouldn’t say the Redskins are in free-fall just yet, but I did note how strange it was the other day to see them all lined up in the locker room being fitted for parachutes.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 29, Washington Redskins 16

Benji says:

I also heard that Tom Petty is scheduled to sing the national anthem for this game. I cannot say I am altogether surprised to see a team that allows more points (18.5) than it scores (17.3) start to play down to statistical expectations…

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 23, Washington Redskins 17

Miami Dolphins (7-5) at Buffalo Bills (6-6)

The King says:

This goes against the grain of everything about the Bills playing in Toronto. This is the biggest scheduling break any road team could get in 2009. Instead of playing in December in lovely Orchard Park (forecast: 23 degrees, snow showers, 20-mph winds), Bills will play host on the fast track of Rogers Centre in Toronto, where it will be 72, or warmer. So why am I making this pick? Because I trust Marshawn Lynch. He’ll have a big day.


Prediction: Buffalo Bills 23, Miami Dolphins 16

Benji says:

So let me get this straight, Your Majesty—the conditions completely favor the Dolphins, the team that is used to playing in warmer weather and would have been at a disadvantage had the game been played in Buffalo, but you favor the Bills based on your trust in Marshawn Lynch? The same Marshawn Lynch who has averaged fewer than four yards a carry in seven of the Bills’ twelve games this season? I suppose believing in Lynch is better than placing your support behind Buffalo quarterback Trent Edwards, who only completed 10 of 22 passes against the 49ers last week and has more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (17). I think I’ll stick with the team that the conditions favor (Miami) and the quarterback (Chad Pennington) who takes care of the football (only eight interceptions thrown this year).

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 27, Buffalo Bills 16

Kansas City Chiefs (2-10) at Denver Broncos (7-5)

The King says:

The two-headed, first-round running-back combo platter from Arkansas, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, have a combined 671 rushing yards through 12 games. The guy who got them coffee and shined their cleats, Peyton Hillis, drafted in the seventh round (227th overall), has 285. I’ll bet you an egg nog latte Hillis outrushes the one inactive back (Jones) and the one active one (McFadden), combined, in December by more than 150 yards.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 42, Kansas City Chiefs 13

Benji says:

As impressed as I am by Peyton Hillis’ ability to out-rush a player who is out for the year with an injury, I do not think that this game will be a walk in the park for the Broncos. Kansas City defeated Denver rather easily earlier this season, and I believe that its offense has improved significantly since then. Luckily for the Broncos, cornerback Champ Bailey is finally healthy and should be able to contain the Chiefs’ top receiver Dwayne Bowe. If Bailey were still out, I might have favored Larry Johnson (who is sure to have another big day against the league’s 30th ranked run defense) and the Chiefs to pull off the season sweep; as it is, I can still guarantee it will be a much closer game than His Majesty seems to think it will be.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 26, Kansas City Chiefs 20

St. Louis Rams (2-10) at Arizona Cardinals (7-5)

The King says:

Odd. The Cards are going to be 8-5, with a playoff spot locked and only three games remaining … and we’re not going to have any idea if they can win a game in January.


Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 37, St. Louis Rams 13

Benji says:

Odd. An adjective with a period after it is not a complete sentence. On the other hand, the use of this flawed writing technique, in this instance, does create a sense of melodrama that might momentarily pique the reader’s interest in a lopsided match-up. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, Your Majesty, since I was so mean to you earlier.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 40, St. Louis Rams 16

Dallas Cowboys (8-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)

The King says:

Flip a coin. Really. I have no clue who’ll win. I’m picking the Steelers because I don’t think we’ll see any sort of impact game from Marion Barber and whatever device they put on the bottom of his shoe to help him run in pain with his bad toe. If the Cowboys just run spread formation stuff primarily and the Steelers can tee off on Tony Romo, I think it’s trouble for Dallas.


Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Dallas Cowboys 15

Benji says:

According to the guys at Football Outsiders, “the only skill position player to play on a dislocated toe without missing a game is Antonio Gates, and he was a non factor for all of last season’s playoffs because of it.” The track record for this type of injury suggests that Dallas running back Marion Barber, who sustained a dislocated toe last week against the Seahawks, will either miss the game or be ineffective. The Cowboys are pretty thin at running back behind Barber and will likely be forced to pass on nearly every down. I cannot see them winning on the road with a one-dimensional offense against the league’s top defense.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Dallas Cowboys 17

New York Jets (8-4) at San Francisco 49ers (4-8)

The King says:

Fear this game, Fireman Ed. Shaun Hill is playing well, and the Jets had better pressure him or he’s going to strafe that secondary.


Prediction: New York Jets 22, San Francisco 49ers 16

Benji says:

If I’m Jets coach Eric Mangini, I’m terrified of Shaun Hill right now. I mean, he quarterbacked an offense that scored a whopping ten points against the Bills’ defense last week—ten points, against the Bills! For those of you scoring at home, that would be the same Bills team that allowed 31 and 29 points to the Chiefs and Browns over the previous two weeks. I realize that the Jets’ secondary is weak and Hill could have a decent day throwing the ball, but do not give that much credit where it is not due, Your Majesty.

Prediction: New York Jets 26, San Francisco 49ers 16

New England Patriots (7-5) at Seattle Seahawks (2-10)

The King says:

Most impressive player on a loser on Thanksgiving: Seattle rookie tight end John Carlson. Second-most impressive player on a loser on Thanksgiving: Matt Hasselbeck. That’s why this will be a game at the two-minute warning.


Prediction: New England Patriots 30, Seattle Seahawks 26

Benji says:

I cannot decide what impressed me more about Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s Thanksgiving performance: the nine points his offense scored or his 3 of 13 conversion rate on third down passing plays. There’s no way this game will be “a game at the two-minute warning,” because as bad as New England’s secondary is, Seattle’s is worse and the Seahawks really do not have the type of personnel to capitalize the way that the Patriots will.

Prediction: New England Patriots 35, Seattle Seahawks 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) at Carolina Panthers (9-3)

The King says:

You want to watch a great TEAM defense, with examples of players running from across the field on practically every snap to make sure there are seven men around the ball on running plays instead of four, and to assure that every receiver is tackled by a unit and not a man? Watch the Bucs on Monday night. I love the way the defense is flying around. You’re not going to see five great offensive highlights out of this game, that’s for sure.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Carolina Panthers 13

Benji says:

Your Majesty, I believe that both of these teams have solid defenses—Tampa Bay’s offense leaves a lot to be desired, though. The Buccaneers simply do not have any playmakers on offense now that age and injuries have finally caught up with Joey Galloway. Carolina’s offense, particularly its passing game, has been inconsistent at times, but the Panthers still have receiver Steve Smith (whose long reception in the fourth quarter led to the winning score against the Packers) and a very effective running back tandem of DeAngelo Williams (who had four touchdowns last week) and Jonathan Stewart. Plus, do you really want to pick against the home team dominance trend in NFC South divisional games? Look at how well that worked out for me last week…

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13

King Says, Benji Says (Week 14 Thursday Edition)

December 4, 2008

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If you have a complaint about the lateness of our Thursday Edition post, take it up with his Majesty—he showed up twenty hours late for work again and I have spent the last hour or so trying to revive him from his latest food-induced coma with a pot of Starbucks coffee and some good old fashioned exercise. Really, though, can you blame the man for overindulging? If you had to decide between going on an all-you-can-eat buffet binge and analyzing a Thursday Night game between the Chargers and the Raiders, which option would you choose?

For those of you curious about the glittery symbol on my shirt: roughly translated from Kanji to American, it means, “The King is open in the end zone.” Unfortunately, as Brett Favre and Tom Brady can attest, His Majesty has worse hands than Braylon Edwards…

Oakland Raiders (3-9) at San Diego Chargers (4-8)

The King says:

I saw where one of the promos for this game referred to the Chargers still being in contention for the playoffs. Right. If the Chargers (at Tampa Bay in Week 16) go 4-0 down the stretch and the Broncos (Kansas City and Buffalo at home remaining) go 1-3, they’re in.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 24, Oakland Raiders 9

Benji says:

I think it is entirely possible for Denver to go 1-3 down the stretch (its run defense is horrendous) but I do not envision San Diego winning more than two of its final four games. The Chargers do not do anything well this season—they cannot run the ball, they are unable to pass the ball consistently, and they struggle to defend both the run and the pass. As much as it pains me to say this, Denver is the better team. At least the Broncos can do one thing well: pass the ball downfield. I still believe that Philip Rivers is a solid quarterback and that the defense will improve next year with the return of Shawne Merriman, but it is clear to me after their loss to the Falcons last week that the Chargers have checked out at this point. They really should be able to beat the Raiders (who are pretty inept on offense) but Oakland seems to be playing much harder than them right now and has made some strides defensively over the past month or so. If I were a betting man, I would stay as far away from this game as humanly possible…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 20, Oakland Raiders 19

Michael Clayton?

December 1, 2008

michael_clayton_movie_poster2

In today’s edition of Monday Morning Quarterback, The Monarch formerly known as Doofus loses yet again at the “naming players correctly” game. Observe his paragraph on the Baltimore Ravens in his Fine Fifteen section:

6. Baltimore (8-4). A hard, but relatively friendly, remaining schedule. Three of four at home. Washington and Pittsburgh at home, at Dallas on a short week (Saturday night), Jacksonville at home. I asked sudden star wide receiver Michael Clayton what kind of rivalry the Ravens had with foe number one — Washington, seeing that the District of Columbia is 38 miles down the road from Baltimore. “I’m not sure,” Clayton said. “I don’t know really. All I know is they’re our next game.” The Ravens, obviously, are burning with passion to face their hated Beltway cousins.

I hate to break it to you, Your Majesty, but George Clooney does not play for the Ravens. Neither does Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Michael Clayton, a perpetual underachiever who has not gained as many as 400 receiving yards in a single season since his rookie year. Mark Clayton, the Baltimore Ravens receiver whom I believe you are referring to in your article, did have a career day (five catches for 164 yards) against the Bengals (the team with the second worst record in the league) but is he really a “sudden star”? In 2006, Mark Clayton had 67 receptions, 939 yards and five touchdowns. He is on pace to come up well short of those numbers this season—according to ESPN.com, his projected statistics are 37 catches, 633 yards and four touchdowns. Thanks for playing, Your Majesty. Better luck next time…

Update: As of 11 a.m., it appears that His Majesty (or some overworked intern who got a break from buffet-stocking duty) went back and edited the Clayton naming gaffe—which makes sense, I suppose, since the truth can be adjusted…