King Says, Benji Says (Week 17)

by

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

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