Archive for October, 2009

King Says, Benji Says (Week 8)

October 31, 2009

TrickorTreat

So much for my efforts to tamper with fate—as expected, last week was a lose-lose situation for me. King took back one of the games I had gained on him the previous week and Thirteen stood me up for the date I won with her by losing to His Majesty. The kicker? The NFL decided to extend the “Curse of 13” for another week. My only consolation is that His Majesty and I get to wear Halloween costumes this weekend, giving us a decided edge in our attempts to secretly woo Thirteen. In the spirit of the watered-down version of the crane game, I’m adding an extra wrinkle to this week’s plan to ensure that everyone wins: in addition to asking Thirteen for “tricks” and/or “treats,” King and I will also be making a Halloween night visit to the house of Miss Lisa Cuddy. What’s Cuddy’s connection to curses, the number thirteen and Halloween, you ask? Well, I bet she’d look great in a sexy nurse costume…

Last Week:

Peter King (10-3)

Benji (9-4)

Brian (8-5)

Overall:

Peter King (70-33)

Benji (68-35)

Brian (57-46)

 

Houston Texans (4-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-4)

King Says:

Playing in Buffalo on Nov. 1, you’re liable to get any kind of weather. Matt Schaub leads all passers in yards and touchdowns, and for the Texans to make the playoffs in a competitive AFC Wild Card situation, this is precisely the kind of game he has to win. No excuses.

Prediction: Houston Texans 27, Buffalo Bills 20

Benji Says:

If the type of weather you’re hinting at (high winds and rain or snow) ends up occurring in Buffalo on Sunday, Your Majesty, all bets are off. We both know that quarterback play becomes an afterthought during the type of inclement conditions that Buffalo is capable of producing, so why call Schaub out? Running back Steve Slaton will be the one who needs to step up his game if the weather gets nasty…

Prediction: Houston Texans 27, Buffalo Bills 20

Cleveland Browns (1-6) at Chicago Bears (3-3)

King Says:

Jobs are on the line in Chicago. For once, the Bears play — and coach — like it.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 33, Cleveland Browns 10

Benji Says:

If the Bears need a sense of urgency to beat a team as bad as the Browns, then they really aren’t very good.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 30, Cleveland Browns 17

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

King Says:

We don’t talk or react strongly enough when great players like Walter Jones go on IR and appear to be finished. Big Walt’s a very big loss.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, Seattle Seahawks 20

Benji Says:

King brings up a valid point about top-tier offensive linemen being underappreciated, but does Walter Jones going on injured reserve really affect the outcome of this game? The Seahawks cannot run the ball effectively with or without the broken-down Jones and their patchwork secondary cannot match up with the Cowboys’ reinvigorated passing game.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 33, Seattle Seahawks 17

St. Louis Rams (0-7) at Detroit Lions (1-5)

King Says:

In the Obscurity Bowl, give me the team playing at home with the better-protected quarterback. Now, if Matthew Stafford doesn’t play, all bets are off. But I’ll take that risk.

Prediction: Detroit Lions 17, St. Louis Rams 9

Benji Says:

I’ll admit I was tempted to pick the Rams here. My logic: no team with a player as talented as Steven Jackson can go 0-16, right? And what other winnable games does St. Louis have left on the schedule? Last year’s 0-16 Lions also had a top-tier talent on offense (receiver Calvin Johnson), though, and that didn’t stop them from having a “defeated” season. Detroit has better coaching on the offensive end, more talent, is playing at home and has had two weeks to prepare for this game.

Prediction: Detroit Lions 30, St. Louis Rams 23

Minnesota Vikings (6-1) at Green Bay Packers (4-2)

No one, not even Brett Favre, can imagine what it’ll be like for him when he steps on the field Sunday. No one, not even Favre, can know now how much the emotion of the moment will figure into his play. I think both quarterbacks will play well here, but I think Favre will play a lot like he did in Minnesota when the emotions were sky-high for him. Which is to say, he’s going to play very well under pressure. And cascading boos.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 27, Green Bay Packers 23

Benji Says:

Who am I to doubt the great Brett Favre when faced with an emotionally trying situation? Personally, I think the crowd noise will play a huge factor in this game—Favre better get ready to use a silent snap count right off the bat. The absence of the Vikings’ top cornerback Antoine Winfield will also be a key factor. Aaron Rodgers threw for 384 yards in the first match-up, and I see him approaching those numbers again against the Vikings’ depleted secondary (their Achilles’ heel).

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 30, Minnesota Vikings 23

San Francisco 49ers (3-3) at Indianapolis Colts (6-0)

King Says:

Alex Smith, meet the wolves. As in, “getting thrown to them.”

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 34, San Francisco 49ers 17

Benji Says:

How about we give Alex Smith a chance to prove himself (at least one start!) before we start disparaging him? Unfortunately, pragmatism rarely exists for sports journalists in search of dramatic storylines. Personally, I think that the Colts’ secondary can be exposed so long as the opposing offensive line does a decent job blocking defensive ends Freeney and Mathis. The problem here is that the Colts’ offense is too much for the 49ers’ defense to handle…

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 30, San Francisco 49ers 20

Miami Dolphins (2-4) at New York Jets (4-3)

King Says:

Is the Wildcat the most two-faced scheme in recent history? The Dolphins shredded the Jets with it three weeks ago, while another pressure defense, New Orleans, slowed it down. I bet Rex Ryan had the Jets working OT this week to figure out how to stop Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. So Tony Sparano counterpunches with Chad Henne throwing 40 passes Sunday.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 26, New York Jets 24

Benji Says:

His Majesty is so wrong in his analysis here that I almost cried—instead I decided to table my thoughts and turn them into a future post. Stay tuned. As for this game? The Jets proved incapable of stopping the Dolphins’ running game the first time around, and with defensive tackle Kris Jenkins out for the season, I find little reason to think that they’ll do a better job on Sunday.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 28, New York Jets 20

Denver Broncos (6-0) at Baltimore Ravens (3-3)

King Says:

Hardest game of the week to pick. Baltimore has lost three in a row — by six at New England, by three to Cincinnati on a couple of dumb penalties on the winning Bengal drive, and by two to Minnesota after scoring 21 in the last 10 minutes. Ravens will be the more desperate team Sunday. Just a hunch.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 20, Denver Broncos 16

Benji Says:

Strangely enough, your “hunch” seems to be everyone else’s “hunch” as well, Your Majesty. 64 percent of our fellow Peter King Challenge pickers are taking Baltimore here and Vegas has the Ravens favored by three and a half points. You’re hardly going out on a limb…

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 27, Denver Broncos 20

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) at Tennessee Titans (0-6)

King Says:

The smallest TV audience of the season (with Favre at Lambeau on Fox on the opposite channel in two small markets) sees an incredibly inconsequential game. Maybe this is just the anonymity Vince Young needs to shine.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Benji Says:

I’m glad to see the Titans finally make the logical move and switch to Vince Young at quarterback, but the Titans’ pass defense (and lack of a pass rush) are such glaring weaknesses that I cannot envision a scenario in which Tennessee wins this game without a lot of lucky bounces and fluke plays. The Titans really stink.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 30, Tennessee Titans 20

New York Giants (5-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-2)

King Says:

There’s a reason why Andy Reid took LeSean McCoy in the second round last April, and the reason will be apparent Sunday against the Giants. He can block, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and while he doesn’t have the cutting ability of Brian Westbrook, he does have the interior toughness and the ability to break a run or two outside.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, New York Giants 24

Benji Says:

I was willing to grant the Giants a mulligan after their loss to a really good Saints team, but I was really unimpressed by their play against the Cardinals last weekend. Arizona has a talented team, but New York should have been able to better exploit its defensive line’s advantage over the Cardinals’ weak offensive tackles. If the Giants’ defensive line isn’t controlling the line of scrimmage then their defense is very ordinary. As for the Eagles, they have not looked very good the past few weeks either. Having watched their inconsistencies over the last couple of years though, I expect them to get up for this game. They tend to play to the level of their opponent, which means they are capable of beating any team in the league but also capable of losing to the Raiders.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, New York Giants 23

Carolina Panthers (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (4-2)

King Says:

Quirky Note of the Week: Arizona defensive coordinator Billy Davis, who has done a superb job molding the Cards into a fire-breathing D, was a college quarterback at the University of Cincinnati 23 years ago.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 34, Carolina Panthers 14

Benji Says:

What bearing does Billy Davis’s time as a college quarterback have on this game? His defense, after all, struggles to stop opposing quarterbacks but is great at defending the run (tops in the league). The Panthers are in serious trouble—quarterback Jake Delhomme has struggled enough this season with a strong running game. If the Cardinals are able to hold down DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, this could be Delhomme’s ugliest game yet and probably the nail in the coffin as far as his time as the starting quarterback for Carolina is concerned.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 35, Carolina Panthers 13

Oakland Raiders (2-5) at San Diego Chargers (3-3)

King Says:

The Raiders have to be gagging — in the locker room, in the coaches’ offices, and in Al Davis’ suite — at JaMarcus Russell saying the three turnovers in the first 14 minutes last week against the Jets weren’t his fault. It’s pathetic. What does that mean for this game? Not much, other than no one in Oakland can have any faith in this guy.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 34, Oakland Raiders 10

Benji Says:

Why are we wasting time on sound bites from JaMarcus Russell? His play on the field is speaking much louder than any words ever could. He’s terrible in every facet of the game except for athleticism.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 35, Oakland Raiders 10

Atlanta Falcons (4-2) at New Orleans Saints (6-0)

King Says:

Here’s a sports quiz for you. True or false: The Saints’ running game is ranked higher in the NFL than the Saints’ passing game. True. New Orleans is second in the league with 154.5 rushing yards per game. The Saints are sixth in passing yards. Now that is one unexpected little factoid.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 23, Atlanta Falcons 20

Benji Says:

Here’s a sports quiz for you, Your Majesty: What do teams generally do on offense when they are way ahead in the second half? Run the ball. I’m not trying to disparage the Saints’ running game, which is pretty solid, but your surface-level “factoid” does not take game situations into account. The New Orleans passing game will be the deciding factor in the Monday Night game—Atlanta’s secondary was already suspect before losing starters William Moore and Brian Williams.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 35, Atlanta Falcons 26

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King Says, Benji Says (Week 7)

October 23, 2009

LuckyThirteen

The NFL can try to put a crimp in my style, but I am determined to immunize myself against its current brand of jinx—a week with an unlucky thirteen games! After a two-pick victory over The King that pulled me within a single game of him in the standings, I am determined to make my own luck this week; as a true believer in the power of free will over fate, I have decided to counter the league’s unlucky thirteen with a lucky (well, strangely attractive) one. May I present to you Miss Remy Hadley (aka Thirteen)! Much to Foreman’s dismay, the loser of this week’s picking match-up will be awarded a date with the (now single) Thirteen. Get it? Everybody wins…except the actress who plays Thirteen, who is probably applying for the Witness Protection Program as we speak…

Last Week:

Peter King (6-8)

Benji (8-6)

Brian (6-8)

Overall:

Peter King (60-30)

Benji (59-31)

Brian (49-41)

Chicago Bears (3-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)

King Says:

I’m dying to know what Cincinnati is. First a ball bounces stupidly for the Bengals, and they lose a game they should have won. Then they win four games by the skin of their striped tails. Then the almighty Houston Texans hold them to three three-and-outs and three turnovers in the second half last week. I must be an idiot to be picking them. Why am I? Four words: the revenge of Cedric.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 24, Chicago Bears 23

Benji Says:

Let me start things off by telling King what Cincinnati is, since he is “dying to know:” Cincinnati is Ohio’s third-largest city, located in the southwest corner of the state. As for the Bengals, I’m not sure what to make of them either. It seems silly to write them off after one bad offensive half though. As far as bodies of work are concerned, the Bengals have done more so far this season to impress me than the Bears have. Chicago played Atlanta close last Sunday, but was unable to fix its most glaring weaknesses during its bye week—its running game was still non-existent and it committed inane penalties at crucial points in the game.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 23, Chicago Bears 20

Green Bay Packers (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (1-5)

King Says:

I know this after watching much of Cleveland-Pittsburgh: The Browns’ defense will show up. But after losing D’Qwell Jackson for the year, Cleveland’s run support will be a shell of itself.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 23, Cleveland Browns 12

Benji Says:

If the Browns’ defensive performance against the Steelers last week qualifies as showing up, then me playing online Settlers of Catan and drinking a couple of Magic Hats instead of finishing my Americorps paperwork was productivity personified. Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 417 yards last week! Once again, you are utterly wrong in your analysis but undoubtedly correct with your pick—the Browns are terrible and have no shot against the Packers.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 30, Cleveland Browns 17

San Diego Chargers (2-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-5)

King Says:

A must-win for the Chargers, or A.J. Smith would fire people on the charter home, before the plane left Missouri airspace. The one X factor in this game: Matt Cassel’s on a pretty good roll (132 attempts without an interception, 6-0 touchdown-to-interception differential in the last four games), and the Chargers need someone to help the kid, Larry English, generate a rush to throw him out of rhythm.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 23, Kansas City Chiefs 16

Benji Says:

I’ll start viewing Matt Cassel (who I like by the way) as an X-factor when his team acquires an entirely new offensive line with pro-level talent, a running back who at least has the speed to outrun defensive linemen and someone else to throw to other than Dwayne Bowe. Until then, all he will be capable of is grinding out occasional wins against terrible teams—a group I’m not ready to place the Chargers in quite yet.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 40, Kansas City Chiefs 16

Indianapolis Colts (5-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-6)

King Says:

Peyton Manning’s only game in the Edward Jones Dome was a horrible loss — a 42-17 pasting by the Greatest Show On Turf team in 2001 — and produced some of the most pedestrian numbers of his life: 15 of 28, 195 yards, no touchdowns, one pick. If he has a game worse than that this week, this I vow: I will go a year without mentioning the words “Starbucks” and “Red Sox” in Monday Morning Quarterback. Promise.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 40, St. Louis Rams 14

Benji Says:

No Red Sox or Starbucks for a year? Brian must be rooting so hard for the Rams right now. Even in the Week of Thirteen, though, Saint Louis has no chance…

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 40, St. Louis Rams 14

Minnesota Vikings (6-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)

King Says:

If you’re Mike Tomlin, what you’ve got to be telling your offense this week is: Possess the ball. Last week, the Ravens gave the Vikes 13 possessions … and seven scores resulted. The Steelers are second in the league in time of possession (33:53 per game), but I think they need to go the extra miles this week: Receivers should sell out to stay inbounds, and go out of bounds under duress only if forced. Just a thought, coach.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Minnesota Vikings 23

Benji Says:

Way to take a good idea (controlling the time of possession) ten steps too far, Your Majesty—if the Steelers were to shy away from being close to the sideline, they could cost themselves all manner of big plays over the course of the game. That being said, your pick is again right for the wrong reasons. The Vikings are due for a road loss against a good team.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Minnesota Vikings 23

New England Patriots (4-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6)

King Says:

Cheerio! As Roger Goodell flies to London this week, one of The Things I Think He Thinks is: Come on, Bill. Puh-leeeze. Don’t run the score up this week. Not in this showcase game. Liked what Raheem Morris said Wednesday about the partially abbreviated practice schedule for the Bucs, who lose the Friday workout because they’ll be flying across the pond that day. “You’ll miss that extra little bit of time just preparing for Coach Belichick. Great.”

Prediction: New England Patriots 38, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10

Benji Says:

While Tampa’s defensive backs are pretty terrible, they have to put up a better performance than Tennessee’s did in snowy Foxboro last weekend, right? Don’t discount the time zone change—both teams are going to be jet-lagged and this may end up being a sloppy game. Cheers!

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

San Francisco 49ers (3-2) at Houston Texans (3-3)

King Says:

It’s possible that Matt Schaub leads the NFL in normalcy. Nice guy. Not impressed with himself. All he cares about is the next play, the next game. Good to see him be the very odd answer to this question: Who leads the NFL in touchdown passes after six weeks?

Prediction: Houston Texans 27, San Francisco 49ers 20

Benji Says:

Just throwing it out there: Matt Schaub also leads the league in games lost because the quarterback could not generate the tying score from the one-yard line. I’ll take the 49ers in this one—I’m counting on head coach Mike Singletary to have fixed the defensive problems that hurt his team against Atlanta during the bye week.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 20, Houston Texans 17

Atlanta Falcons (4-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-2)

King Says:

Matt Ryan’s 7-1 in his last eight games. He’s good on the road, and the Dallas pass-rush isn’t going to bother him much. On the other side, I say John Abraham is going to be buzzing around Tony Romo’s head all day.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 27, Dallas Cowboys 24

Benji Says:

Matt Ryan and the Falcons have looked solid all year, but their defense is not impregnable—the Bears, despite struggling to run the ball, left several touchdowns on the field because of mental errors and stupid turnovers. If the Cowboys are going to make a run at a playoff spot, they better come out with a strong performance at home after their bye week. Otherwise, I am writing them off…

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 28, Atlanta Falcons 21

New Orleans Saints (5-0) at Miami Dolphins (2-3)

King Says:

You’ve heard all the stories about how Drew Brees is so happy to be in New Orleans, I can vouch for that. He and his wife are happy to live, work, and be positive symbols for the revival of a great American city. But I can also tell you this: He’d be a Dolphin today if the Miami medical staff hadn’t scared him off to Nick Saban. Promise.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 29, Miami Dolphins 20

Benji Says:

Wow, King. Way to waste an entire paragraph of “analysis” on a speculative story you pulled from the Truth and Rumors section (aka the TMZ of sports) of your company’s website. As for my take on this game? The Saints (who if you recall I correctly picked to beat the Giants last week) have an opportunistic defense that takes chances in order to generate turnovers; the Dolphins’ Wild Cat offense thrives on taking advantage of defensive players over-committing. The Saints’ offense is at its most successful when it is in rhythm—this rhythm can and will be disrupted by the Dolphins, who will utilize their running game to control the time of possession and keep the ball out of Drew Brees’s hands (remember that game against the Colts earlier this year?). Most importantly, the Dolphins are playing at home and coming off a bye week, while the Saints are due for a let-down after their huge win against New York last Sunday.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 27, New Orleans Saints 20

Buffalo Bills (2-4) at Carolina Panthers (2-3)

King Says:

Last time they met in Charlotte, Doug Flutie threw for two touchdowns and Thurman Thomas ran for one. I daresay the men of Jauron would have a better shot Sunday with Flutie and Thurmanator in the starting lineup.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 24, Buffalo Bills 17

Benji Says:

I’ve come up with an adapted version of an old adage for you, Your Majesty: If you don’t have something relevant to say, don’t say anything at all. Also, are the Panthers really that formidable an opponent? Their two wins have come against Tampa and Washington, and they only beat the Redskins because of a terrible non-call on fair-catch interference on a punt. Yes, they ran the ball very effectively against Tampa last weekend, and yes Buffalo’s run defense is terrible—but do you really trust Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme, who didn’t even accumulate 100 passing yards last week?

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 20, Buffalo Bills 17

Arizona Cardinals (3-2) at New York Giants (5-1)

King Says:

What a great game, and I don’t say that because I work for the rights-holder to it, NBC. I say it because Kurt Warner and Eli Manning are going to throw for 700 yards and six touchdowns, and it’s going to come down to who makes the big play in the last five minutes. I say Eli gets the very bad taste from last week out of his mouth Sunday night.

Prediction: New York Giants 37, Arizona Cardinals 33

Benji Says:

As much as I like the Cardinals, their Achilles’ Heel is their inability to block pass-rushers from either tackle position. As the Colts showed me earlier this year, any team with two talented defensive ends is going to cause fits for Arizona’s offensive line. Unless the Cardinals bring in extra blockers (ala the second half of the Super Bowl against the Steelers), Warner is going to get hit early and often, which doesn’t bode well for Arizona’s chances of winning this game…

Prediction: New York Giants 30, Arizona Cardinals 20

Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) at Washington Redskins (2-4)

King Says:

It’s almost like the Redskins don’t want to win. Who gives a guy in the building three weeks the keys to the offense?

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 23, Washington Redskins 10

Benji Says:

As someone who ignored the potential dangers of firing an offensive coordinator right before the season started (my bad on picking Tampa to be a decent team), I won’t make the same mistake the second time around. I agree with you, Your Majesty. Washington’s downward spiral (and offensive ineptitude) continues in this game…

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, Washington Redskins 10

King Says, Benji Says (Week 6)

October 16, 2009

GoodVersusEvil

Now that I’ve had a few days to deal with the shock and fall-out from His Majesty’s Monday night comeback (courtesy of the emergence of Miami quarterback Chad Henne), it’s time for me to quit moping. Benjis don’t get mad—they get even! Brian continues to flounder and, thus, I am our only chance at defeating the evil King, rescuing the princess and escaping the castle through the secret passageway. Hmmm, somewhere along the line I think our football-picking “quest” turned into a Legend of Zelda knock-off?

Last Week:

Peter King (9-5)

Benji (9-5)

Brian (8-6)

Overall:

Peter King (54-22)

Benji (51-25)

Brian (43-33)


Houston Texans (2-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)

King Says:

Relayed this on Sunday night on NBC: When I was finishing up on the phone with Marvin Lewis the other day, I congratulated him and he said, “We’re just trying to get on one of your games.” An NBC Sunday-nighter, he meant. OK. Weeks 11 through 17 are flex scheduling on NBC. Let’s see when you might fit in, coach.

Week 11: at Oakland. No dice.

Week 12: Cleveland. Nope.

Week 13: Detroit. Geez! What is this, the Giants’ schedule?

Week 14: at Minnesota. Bingo. Hold on. NBC has dibs on Eagles-Giants that week. Can’t see them switching out of two top-10 TV markets for anything.

Week 15: at San Diego. Very interesting. NBC has Vikings-Panthers, which is compelling only because it’s Favre.

Week 16: Kansas City. Nah.

Week 17: at the New York Football Jets. Another bingo.

So you see it here first: If the Bengals keep winning, they might invade your TV sets for a Sunday-nighter Dec. 20 in San Diego or Jan. 3 at the frosty Meadowlands. Maybe both.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 26, Houston Texans 24

Benji Says:

Way to waste half a page (in a standard-sized Word document) speculating about the Bengals’ chances of making it into a Sunday Night game two months from now, Your Majesty. I’ve seen you go off on random tangents in our picking war many times, but never before have I seen you break the 150-word barrier without providing a single insight into the outcome of the game at hand. Congratulations! As for my thoughts on this game? Both teams have been involved in multiple close games this season—the difference, though, is that the Bengals (the fluke touchdown “pass” against Denver in Week One being the lone exception) have been at their best with the game on the line. Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer’s overall stats do not look good (he seemingly throws a pick-six once a game) but he has come through at the end of games, while his Houston counterpart Matt Schaub has not.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 20, Houston Texans 17

Detroit Lions (1-4) at Green Bay Packers (2-2)

King Says:

Mike McCarthy approaches Aaron Rodgers on the field before the game. Notices drool on the facemask. Asks what’s wrong. “Nothing,” Rodgers says, grinning widely. “You seen the Lions’ pass-defense?” McCarthy nods. League-worst 73.5 percent opponent completion rate. Five games, 15 touchdown passes allowed. Lambeau will be filled with footballs Sunday.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 29, Detroit Lions 17

Benji Says:

I never fancied Aaron Rodgers as a “drooler,” but what do I know? The way that his defense has played so far this season, the Lions’ coaches are probably salivating in anticipation as well. Luckily for Green Bay, both Detroit’s starting quarterback and star wide receiver (Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson) will likely be sitting this one out.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 30, Detroit Lions 17

Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0)

King Says:

Neither defensive coordinator goes home happy after this one, but rookie Ravens DC Greg Mattison has to be scratching his head about his guys. For goodness sake, the Seahawks have played stingier defense through five weeks.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 30, Baltimore Ravens 23

Benji Says:

Your point about the Ravens’ defensive struggles is duly noted, Your Majesty, but I have to go with Baltimore here. The Vikings are by no means invincible (they nearly lost to the 49ers, who got blown out by the Falcons last week) and the Ravens need this game far more than their opponents do.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 30, Minnesota Vikings 23

New York Giants (5-0) at New Orleans Saints (4-0)

King Says:

I know the Giants have faced Lafayette, Colgate and Bucknell the past three weeks, but I say this weekend’s the coming-out party for their Kenny Phillips-less secondary. It’s not just the quality of opposition that’s responsible for Jints holding foes to 105 passing yards a week. Drew Brees will discover how good a corner Corey Webster is Sunday. Seems odd to call this an upset, if it happens.

Prediction: New York Giants 23, New Orleans Saints 13

Benji Says:

It won’t be much of an upset if the Giants win. I also don’t think that many people think it would be as both teams are undefeated—I feel as though you’re trying to create a fake storyline simply so you have something to disprove? All of that being said, I think that the Saints, who have been preparing for the Giants for two weeks (last week was their bye week) and play in one of the few remaining NFL stadiums that provides a home-field advantage, will find a way to win this one.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 30, New York Giants 23

Cleveland Browns (1-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)

King Says:

This is almost unfair. Troy Polamalu is likely to return from his Week 1 knee strain, and the Browns’ O is conjuring memories of the Providence Steamroller. He’ll make up, in part, for the big loss of defensive end Aaron Smith (rotator cuff surgery). But really, Smith’s loss is the kind that will be felt the rest of the year.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 33, Cleveland Browns 9

Benji Says:

The Steelers’ defense has not been the same unit from last year and losing a starting defensive end certainly does not help matters. I have a feeling that the Browns will make things much more interesting than they should be, if the 20 points that Pittsburgh allowed to the Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford-less Lions last weekend are any indication…

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Cleveland Browns 26

Carolina Panthers (1-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5)

King Says:

Let’s just say I have more faith in Jake Delhomme than everyone in the state of North Carolina does. I think Delhomme will have plenty of time to throw, and he’ll riddle the Bucs.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10

Benji Says:

Enough about Delhomme (who has still given me very little reason to trust him)—how about the Panthers’ struggles running the ball? They are only averaging 3.8 yards per carry. Carolina’s offensive line, which was spectacular last season, is underperforming and its defense (specifically highly paid pass-rusher Julius Peppers) has been merely average. This team just isn’t very good. It’s time to move past the memories of last year’s Panthers and accept that this year’s team, traveling to Tampa, should not be heavily favored on Sunday. In fact, I just flipped a coin and decided to pick the Buccaneers. They have to win a game sometime and they’ve shown signs of improvement over the last few weeks.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, Carolina Panthers 23

Kansas City Chiefs (0-5) at Washington Redskins (2-3)

King Says:

I detailed the other day how it’s Week 6 and the Redskins haven’t faced a team with a win yet. (Meaning each team was winless the day they played ’em.) That changes in the next three outings, with Philadelphia, bye, Atlanta and Denver (combined 11-2) upcoming. Bye, however, is winless.

Prediction: Washington Redskins 16, Kansas City Chiefs 12

Benji Says:

The Redskins continue to disappoint against mediocre opponents. Is there any reason for me to expect more from them this week? The Chiefs almost posted their first win last Sunday against Dallas and seem to be developing some sort of offensive identity. As long as they don’t waste too many carries on the now-decrepit Larry Johnson, I like them to pick up their first win against the hapless ‘skins.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 20, Washington Redskins 17

St. Louis Rams (0-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)

King Says:

I hear there are no tickets available. The Jags are tarping all the seats.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 27, St. Louis Rams 20

Benji Says:

Bad joke, bad game, poor use of space intended for insights into this match-up. I’ll let it  slide since I don’t want to talk about the Rams either…

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 35, St. Louis Rams 17

Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) at Oakland Raiders (1-4)

King Says:

A buddy of mine Tweeted this week and asked if there was any hope for his Raiders. Told him I’d get back to him. Still haven’t. I don’t know what to say. What’s the stage beyond pathetic? The body language of JaMarcus Russell last week at Giants Stadium said to me, I wish I was anywhere but here.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 35, Oakland Raiders 10

Benji Says:

Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but…the Raiders aren’t going to improve until they finally bench JaMarcus Russell. End of story.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, Oakland Raiders 10

Tennessee Titans (0-5) at New England Patriots (3-2)

King Says:

The Titans’ plane will be over West Virginia around 11 Sunday night, and Jeff Fisher will be on his third diet Coke, the reality of 0-6 sinking in, and he’ll say to himself: Makes no sense to keep head-butting the wall, with the bye coming up and Jacksonville and Buffalo at home in two of the next three. Time to play Vince Young full-time.

Prediction: New England Patriots 30, Tennessee Titans 13

Benji Says:

Hopefully Fisher has some Captain Morgan to go with that Diet Coke—he’s going to need a stiff drink after the Patriots put another shellacking on his team. What a surprise, right? The Patriots homers both predict that New England will win in a blowout…

Prediction: New England Patriots 30, Tennessee Titans 13

Buffalo Bills (1-4) at New York Jets (3-2)

King Says:

Short week. Home late Tuesday morning from Miami. Bitter loss Monday. Head coach not happy. Borderline miserable, in fact. If you’re the Jets’ next foe, you know you’re in for it. How convenient that it’s the Bills showing up at the Meadowlands, playing like refugees from Noah’s Ark.

Prediction: New York Jets 41, Buffalo Bills 6

Benji Says:

Your Noah’s Ark reference is almost really clever, Your Majesty, but I’m not sure it quite makes sense. How could a refugee from Noah’s Ark still be alive? Wouldn’t they have drowned in that case? You need to be more specific. I also need to spend less time analyzing your references and jokes and more time breaking down match-ups. The Bills scored three points against the Browns. Enough said…

Prediction: New York Jets 35, Buffalo Bills 3

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

King Says:

Surprise! Who’d have thought this would turn into the game of the weekend? Last week, Matt Hasselbeck found some chemistry with T.J. Houshmandzadeh. This week, against Arizona’s good corners, I think Hasselbeck makes tight end John Carlson the fantasy pick of the weekend.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 28, Arizona Cardinals 27

Benji Says:

Seattle’s banged-up offensive line better overachieve in a big way if the Seahawks are going to come away with a win against Arizona. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck can complete passes if he has time to throw (and doesn’t suffer an injury, an increasingly common occurrence for him) but the Cardinals will do everything they can to make sure he doesn’t. They like to take chances and they like to blitz their safeties. Will Hasselbeck complete a few long passes? Probably, but there’s also a good chance he leaves the game with yet another injury…

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 30, Seattle Seahawks 20

Chicago Bears (3-1) at Atlanta Falcons (3-1)

King Says:

Upset special. Head says Falcons. Heart says the rested Bears, with Jay Cutler and Devin Hester making three or four big-gainers on the Georgia Dome rug.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 33, Atlanta Falcons 27

Benji Says:

Thanks for stealing my thunder, Your Majesty—I was totally going to call you out on going with your “heart” instead of your “head” but then you went ahead and included all of that information in your prediction. You truly are the “King” of Freudian slips. As for this game, the Falcons’ offense looked unstoppable last Sunday against the previously stingy 49er defense. I can’t see the Bears’ average defense putting up much better of a fight…

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 30, Chicago Bears 23

Denver Broncos (5-0) at San Diego Chargers (2-2)

King Says:

It’s amazing to make this point in the third week of October: The Broncos will take such a commanding lead in the division that they’d all but wrap up the AFC West with a win Monday night at Qualcomm. That would give the Broncs a 3.5-game lead (four-, in effect, with the tiebreaker head-to-head edge) over San Diego, with games against Washington, Kansas City, Oakland and Kansas City remaining. But I’m picking San Diego because of the desperation factor — and because of Philip Rivers’ deep arm.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 19, Denver Broncos 16

Benji Says:

Spoiler alert: I hate the Broncos and continue to predict a blowout loss for them every week. This week it may happen—the Chargers are desperate for a win and I still think that they are a better team than the Broncos. Then again, that’s what I thought last week when the Patriots played them and look how that one turned out…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 45, Denver Broncos 9

King Says, Benji Says (Week 5)

October 10, 2009

TheSlovenlyKingAndTheHandsomePrince

Different week, same story: King solidified his hold on the throne, I remained the upstart prince and Brian continued to play the role of court jester (and I mean that in the least Shakespearean way possible). I believe that His Majesty has become just a bit too comfortable at the top, however. He has put on weight, bought himself a new decadent wardrobe and seems to have let down his guard a bit. I’m still lurking (three picks back) and if he isn’t careful, he may soon be ousted from his new super cushiony throne chair…

Last Week:

Peter King (11-3)

Benji (10-4)

Brian (8-6)

Overall:

Peter King (45-17)

Benji (42-20)

Brian (35-27)

Cleveland Browns (0-4) at Buffalo Bills (1-3)

King Says:

I’ve been asked 64 times via e-mail, Twitter and one funny talk-show rant how I can possibly still have faith in Trent Edwards as Buffalo’s (or anyone’s) quarterback of the future. I have two answers. One: I watched the first Monday night game of the season, when Trent Edwards hit his receivers in stride, stood up to a hostile crowd and Patriot pressure and had his team up by 11 points with six minutes to play. Once you see enough perfectly thrown balls and coolly executed drives, you tend to want to give a guy chances to do it again. Two: This is his second starting season. With quarterbacks, assuming they work hard and have the requisite talent, patience is a virtue. All the young ones can’t be Ryan and Flacco.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 20, Cleveland Browns 17

Benji Says:

King, how many “perfectly thrown” passes have you seen Edwards complete since Week One or even in the fourth quarter of that game? And how patient are you asking me to be with Edwards? How long before I can safely criticize him? This is his third year as a starter and he has not improved—with better receivers (the addition of Terrell Owens), he has actually regressed. That being said, I like the Bills’ stellar running backs (Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch) to run all over the Browns’ second-to-last-ranked rushing defense.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 23, Cleveland Browns 20

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) at Detroit Lions (1-3)

King Says:

Steelers return to the scene of their One For The Thumb Super Bowl victory over Seattle. Ben Roethlisberger got a ring that day, but I remember how downcast he was in the locker room postgame because he’d played so poorly. Nothing’s forever, kid. Cris Collinsworth had it right on NBC Sunday night: Roethlisberger’s so confident in the pocket, and moves so effortlessly to avoid pressure. He’s really matured into a great player.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Detroit Lions 17

Benji Says:

Roethlisberger’s “greatness” seems sort of irrelevant in this match-up—any team and any quarterback can throw on the Lions’ defense, which is allowing over 30 points a game this season.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Detroit Lions 13

Dallas Cowboys (2-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-4)

King Says:

The Cowboys are averaging 24 points and 401 yards, ranked 12th and fourth in the league, respectively. All is not lost on offense, despite the braying and moaning heard from Cowboy Nation. The problem? Third downs. They’re converting one of every three, on average. That’s what the Rams are doing too, and it’s got to change for Dallas to be the offensive team it thinks it should be.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 26, Kansas City Chiefs 16

Benji Says:

The real problem with the Cowboys is that Tony Romo has completely regressed as a quarterback. He is not seeing the field well and keeps making mistakes whenever he is pressured. The Chiefs’ defense isn’t very good, though…

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 23, Kansas City Chiefs 20

Minnesota Vikings (4-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-4)

King Says:

It just occurred to me that the slate of eight early games Sunday is quite possible the worst set of early games in NFL history. Except maybe for Bengals-Ravens, what game has any feel of importance?

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 31, St. Louis Rams 6

Benji Says:

King, the all-knowing football sage that he is, astutely points out what no one else in the sports media (cue ten seconds of sarcastic cackling) has brought up at all over the last week. I’m not disputing your point about this week’s match-ups being terrible, Your Majesty—all I’m saying is I highly doubt it “just occurred” to you.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 30, St. Louis Rams 17

Oakland Raiders (1-3) at New York Giants (4-0)

King Says:

I say the Giants win even if David Carr plays, which I doubt will happen. You can live with plantar fasciitis, and Eli Manning, I believe, will struggle through it for a few weeks… By the way, doesn’t it feel like the Giants are on the JV portion of their schedule (Bucs, Chiefs, Raiders)? That ends in New Orleans next week.

Prediction: New York Giants 36, Oakland Raiders 12

Benji Says:

I’m going to go out on a limb here, Your Majesty, and agree with you. The Raiders will definitely not beat the Giants. I will go even further out on said limb and say that I do not expect them to win another game until they finally bench historically inept quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

Prediction: New York Giants 26, Oakland Raiders 10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)

King Says:

I only know one thing about this game, other than the outcome: Michael Vick is going to get a lot more action than 11 insignificant plays.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10

Benji Says:

Two players that are integral to the Eagles’ success this season (quarterback Donovan McNabb and tailback Brian Westbrook) return this week, but, in his own words, His Majesty “only [knows] one thing about this game,” and it of course involves Michael Vick’s limited (but apparently expanding?) role in the offense. Like a good media member, he loves an easy (and over-covered) story…

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 26, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13

Washington Redskins (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-3)

King Says:

The Panther mantra has to be this: We’re 0-3, but in 17 days we should be 3-3. Carolina has ‘Skins at home, travels to Tampa, then comes home to face Buffalo. If Panthers survive this game, which will be the toughest, this stretch will be as much a get-well card as it is a schedule.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 19, Washington Redskins 13

Benji Says:

Picking the Panthers to win this game, with one of the worst quarterbacks in the league leading their offense, is not so much an endorsement of them as it is a denigration of the Redskins, who in the last two weeks lost and almost lost to the Lions and Rams, respectively.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 20, Washington Redskins 17

Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

King Says:

The key to this game might actually be whether the Ravens can find, isolate and block defensive lineman Antwan Odom, who is outside on run downs and an inside rusher on passing downs. I have a lot of respect for what Odom has been able to do — be a difference-maker on a line that has long needed one.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 30, Cincinnati Bengals 23

Benji Says:

The Bengals’ defense is much improved this season, but as of yet, I have been unimpressed with quarterback Carson Palmer. In order to beat the Ravens, Cincinnati will need Palmer to play a far better game than any he has had thus far this fall. I’ll believe it when I see it…

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 20, Cincinnati Bengals 17

New England Patriots (3-1) at Denver Broncos (4-0)

King Says:

I fully expect Elvis Dumervil to introduce himself to Tom Brady, forcefully, twice at Invesco. But that won’t be enough. Brady’s rounding into form, and not even the football person who knows him second-best in the world (Josh McDaniels; Bill Belichick would have to be number one) will be able to stop him.

Prediction: New England Patriots 23, Denver Broncos 17

Benji Says:

If Brady is truly “rounding into form” (and I agree with King on this point) then the Broncos are in some serious trouble. Their defense is much better than last year’s but has been given way too much credit thus far. On Sunday, Denver will face a bona fide NFL-level offense for the first time this season, and it’s not going to be pretty. Expect a similar score-line to that of last year’s match-up between these two teams…

Prediction: New England Patriots 38, Denver Broncos 9

Houston Texans (2-2) at Arizona Cardinals (1-2)

King Says:

This is more about liking Houston than not liking Arizona. Even though the game’s in Arizona, I like Matt Schaub to come up with four or five clock-eating, productive long drives to keep Kurt Warner on the sidelines.

Prediction: Houston Texans 23, Arizona Cardinals 21

Benji Says:

Both of these teams have great passing games and terrible pass defenses—in other words, this may end up being the most exciting game of the afternoon if you like offensive football. I like the Cardinals because they are playing at home and have the more reliable quarterback (Kurt Warner).

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 33, Houston Texans 26

Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1)

King Says:

I have only one regret about my awards for the first quarter of the season — that Mike Singletary didn’t make it to the list of top three coaches. (I picked McDaniels, Ryan and Childress, the latter because he went out on a limb and dragged Brett Favre back into football, which, right now, looks like a genius move.) Michael Crabtree will fit right into this new culture Singletary has created, not ruin it.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 20, Atlanta Falcons 16

Benji Says:

Michael Crabtree may fit into the “new culture” in San Francisco, but until he learns the playbook, the 49ers are still without any playmakers among their wide receivers. A strong defense and a running game led by your back-up tailback can only take you so far—I see the Falcons, coming off of their bye week, making some big plays in the passing game and forcing San Francisco to play from behind, something it is not currently built to do.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 26, San Francisco 49ers 17

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Seattle Seahawks (1-3)

King Says:

Matt Hasselbeck. Clean up on aisle five. Matt Hasselbeck.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 24

Benji Says:

Thank God, Matt Hasselbeck is back—his triumphant return should solve all of the Seahawks’ problems. He might actually make some plays against a shaky Jacksonville defense but don’t be fooled by King’s inexplicable love for him: he’s no longer an effective NFL quarterback. On the other hand, the Jaguars’ quarterback, David Garrard, now that he has a pair of receivers (Tory Holt and Mike Simms-Walker) who can actually catch the ball, is very capable of producing points against a flawed team like Seattle.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 33, Seattle Seahawks 23

Indianapolis Colts (4-0) at Tennessee Titans (0-4)

King Says:

Late in the third quarter, much to his chagrin, Jeff Fisher can ignore five winless weeks no longer. He taps Vince Young on the shoulder and says: “See what you can do in there, kid.”

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 31, Tennessee Titans 16

Benji Says:

This is the week that His Majesty and I finally kick our “Jeff Fisher habit” and come to the logical conclusion that the Titans just aren’t that good…

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 31, Tennessee Titans 16

New York Jets (3-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-3)

King Says:

Another MNF winner for ESPN. If I’m Miami defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, I’m throwing the kitchen sink — and new sack sensation Cameron Wake — at the Sanchize early and often.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 20, New York Jets 17

Benji Says:

Somebody (meaning probably Brian and I since both of us have nothing better to do with our free time) really needs to compile a list of all the stupid nicknames that King comes up with for young quarterbacks. As for this game, I also think that it will be close. Miami is a far better team than its 1-3 record would indicate. That being said, the Jets’ defense is bound to force new quarterback Chad Henne into a couple of mistakes. The “Sanchize” experienced some growing pains last week against New Orleans, but this week it’s Henne’s turn…

Prediction: New York Jets 16, Miami Dolphins 13

Bartender, I’ll take a Tom errrr Kerry Collins…

October 6, 2009

KerryPlusTomEqualsAnInappropriateJoke

Peter King, self-proclaimed vodka drinker (read his Twitter page) and unofficial monarch of doofusness, had a curiously alcoholic-sounding tidbit in today’s column. In reference to Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins, King writes: “…Collins has been more productive (51 more passing yards per game) and just as accurate as he was a year ago.” Originally the statement said Collins was “more effective,” but it appears to have been edited because…it was a ridiculous statement! Apparently King doesn’t understand how passing statistics work. It goes without saying that Collins would have more passing yards so far this season, not because he is more “effective,” but because his team has been trailing in every game; thus, instead of feeding the ball to running backs Lendale White and Chris Johnson, he’s been throwing the ball downfield. Collins has not been more effective–in fact, his yards-per-attempt average is down from 6.4 to 6.0, his completion percentage is down from 58.3 percent to 56.9 percent, and his touchdown to interception ratio is down from almost 2:1 (12:7) to less than 1:1 (5:6). Clearly Collins is not playing as well as he did last year, and he’s being forced to throw the ball more, leading to inflated passing-yard totals. King, I love how you edit yourself out of your silly statements before I can even get home from work! You’re taking away all of the fun for Benji and I…(Editor’s note: Or just digging yourself a deeper hole…)

King Says, Benji Says (Week 4)

October 3, 2009

ShhhhhFootballPickingGeniusesAtWork

Yeah, we get it—we’re kind of a big deal. After three weeks (which most experts would conclude is a definitive sample size), His Majesty and I are both averaging more than 10 correct picks per week. Brian, on the other hand, came up short again last week—and that’s all that matters? I suddenly feel like I’ve lost sight of the true objective: defeating King at all costs. Despite my strong performance last week, His Majesty still managed to gain another point on me, and instead of cursing his name and plotting my revenge, I’ve been wasting my time popping collars, drinking Don Perignon and reveling in Brian’s misery. Time to stop sleeping…errr…sipping Starbucks lattes with the enemy and return to battle…

Last Week:

Peter King (13-3)

Benji (12-4)

Brian (9-7)

Overall:

Peter King (34-14)

Benji (32-16)

Brian (27-21)

Detroit Lions (1-2) at Chicago Bears (2-1)

King Says:

Matt Forte’s yards-per-rush in his three starts so far: 2.2, 2.2, 3.1. Just plain weird. But I wouldn’t be overly concerned, fantasy players of the world. Teams can’t crunch the box forever with Jay Cutler winging it back there.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 20, Detroit Lions 10

Benji Says:

Here’s another “weird” stat for you, Your Majesty: Forte’s yard-per-carry average last season was 3.9. I would be concerned as he has yet to prove that he can gain four yards per carry over 16 games. Against the awful Detroit defense, though, he should be able to outperform his numbers to-date. We’ll see…

Prediction: Chicago Bears 20, Detroit Lions 17

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-3)

King Says:

I can’t for the life of me come up with one scenario that has the Browns winning this game.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 33, Cleveland Browns 16

Benji Says:

Have the Bengals really reached the point where no possible scenario exists for them to lose to a bad team? I believe I already saw it happen once this year—Week One against Denver. Just saying…

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 26, Cleveland Browns 20

Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-0)

King Says:

Last week, Aaron Curry looked like the force Tim Ruskell drafted him to be. The only chance Seattle has at Indy, with or without Matt Hasselbeck, is Curry turnstiling left tackle Charley Johnson two or three times and strip-sacking Peyton Manning the way he did Jay Cutler last week.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 27, Seattle Seahawks 20

Benji Says:

His Majesty got so caught up in trying to describe a pass rush in strip club terms that he neglected to point out that the Colts’ star defensive end Dwight Freeney, who dominated the line of scrimmage against the Cardinals last week, will not play on Sunday. If the Colts are unable to pressure the quarterback, their defense is in trouble. Whenever Kurt Warner had time to sit in the pocket and read the field, he had open receivers all over the place. The Indianapolis defensive backs are pretty shaky…

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 27, Seattle Seahawks 24

New York Giants (3-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-3)

King Says:

Now, we don’t normally write about gambling in this column, which I fully support. But I did sneak a peek at the odds for this week’s ballgames, and I did notice the Giants were nine-point favorites here. I think someone in Las Vegas made a mistake. Is that a nine-point spread for the first quarter? If so, it’s a credible line.

Prediction: New York Giants 33, Kansas City Chiefs 10

Benji Says:

There’s no one quite as a gifted as His Majesty at dismissing a particular topic and then spending an entire paragraph analyzing said topic immediately afterwards. That being said, if I were a gambling man, I’d definitely take the over on this game too…

Prediction: New York Giants 30, Kansas City Chiefs 13

Baltimore Ravens (3-0) at New England Patriots (2-1)

King Says:

How about New England facing a young gun (Trent Edwards, Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco) for the fourth straight week? I debated this game with myself for a long time — the arguments were not very intelligent — and came up with the thought that The Most Complete Team in Football won’t see many blitzes from New England. It’s going to come down to whether Flacco, who will have time, can strafe the Patriots secondary. I say the New England defensive backfield, which frustrated Ryan last week, will make it two good Sundays in a row.

Prediction: New England Patriots 20, Baltimore Ravens 16

Benji Says:

So, Your Majesty, in your effort to convince your readers that the Patriots will win this game, you make it clear that your analysis was conceived in a debate you had with yourself in which you made “arguments [that] were not very intelligent.” Forgive me if I’m not jumping with joy to be on the same side as you for this one…

Prediction: New England Patriots 23, Baltimore Ravens 20

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) at Washington Redskins (1-2)

King Says:

Jim Zorn walks into FedEx Field on Sunday morning. Turns to his trusted PR man, Zack Bolno. “Funny thing happened the other night,” Zorn says. “You know I live out in the country a little bit, and I woke up about 2 in the morning to what sounded like howling outside. I went to the front door, and there was, oh, I don’t know, maybe 10 or 12 wolves. Just howling. Right on the doorstep. I shooed them away, but it was, well, just weird. Zack, tell me something: What do you make of that?”

Prediction: Washington Redskins 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12

Benji Says:

King thinks he made a funny? Get it, the “wolves” are all of the fans/media members calling for Washington head coach Jim Zorn to be fired. He forgot about one thing—the Redskins are not capable of scoring 30 points. This game, a match-up between two bad teams, is going to be much closer than his Majesty implies…

Prediction: Washington Redskins 20, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Tennessee Titans (0-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)

King Says:

To: The 31 other teams of the NFL.

From: Jeff Fisher.

Re: The 2009 season.

It ain’t over till we say it’s over.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 23

Benji Says:

I’m pretty sure there isn’t a preset email list for the rest of the league’s front offices titled “The 31 other teams of the NFL” but hey, what do I know, I’m not an NFL executive…or an overly confident sportswriter getting paid to pick the outcomes of football games. That being said, I agree with His Majesty’s sentiments here.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Oakland Raiders (1-2) at Houston Texans (1-2)

King Says:

JaMarcus Russell played the best game of his pro life against Houston last year (18-25, 236 yards, two TDs, no interceptions). The Raiders must be wondering: “Where’d that guy go?”

Prediction: Houston Texans 27, Oakland Raiders 9

Benji Says:

I’m not a JaMarcus Russell fan, but surely the Raiders will score more than nine points against a Houston defense that has yet to allow fewer than 24. They can run the ball after all…

Prediction: Houston Texans 20, Oakland Raiders 17

Dallas Cowboys (2-1) at Denver Broncos (3-0)

King Says:

I don’t care that the Broncos have played two totally inept offenses the past two weeks (Raiders, Browns). The fact they’ve allowed 16 points in their 3-0 start is the most impressive single statistic of September.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 20, Dallas Cowboys 13

Benji Says:

I’m a bit confused, Your Majesty. I really want to make a counterargument to your glorification of the Denver defense, but it seems you already did in the first sentence of your paragraph. One usually waits until after presenting a viewpoint before disproving it?

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, Denver Broncos 13

Buffalo Bills (1-2) at Miami Dolphins (0-3)

King Says:

Trent Edwards is always good (92.0 career rating) against the Dolphins, who will be feeling their way with first-time starter Chad Henne. On a side note: Now that’s real mature, T.O.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 23, Miami Dolphins 13

Benji Says:

Maybe I am in the minority here, but I just don’t think that Buffalo quarterback Trent Edwards is any good. He was unable to lead a single offensive scoring drive last week against the Saints’ defense, which is improved but hardly impregnable. As for the Dolphins, I think that no matter who is at quarterback, their offense will rely on the running game and wildcat formations. What Chad Henne lacks in accuracy and experience, he makes up for with the ability to throw the deep ball out of a trick play.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 23, Buffalo Bills 20

New York Jets (3-0) at New Orleans Saints (3-0)

King Says:

The last time Drew Brees faced a Rex Ryan defense, it was the seventh game of his New Orleans career, at the Superdome. Ravens won by 13. Brees, for the only time in his NFL career, threw two pick-sixes. That’s why I think this’ll be a game that could go either way. Not because Brees will have ugly flashbacks, but because when you face a Ryan defense, you don’t know where the pressure’s coming from, and you don’t know when it’s coming.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 23, New York Jets 20

Benji Says:

The Jets’ defense has looked really good so far this year, but rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has not as of yet been involved in a game in which he had to lead the team down the field to win. If New York is going to win this game, Sanchez will have to play better than he has in the first three games of the season, because Drew Brees is going to challenge the Jets’ defense…

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 27, New York Jets 17

St. Louis Rams (0-3) at San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

King Says:

“How do you like your coffee, Mr. Spagnuolo?” He doesn’t. Not this week, anyway. Glen Coffee: 28 carries, 141 yards, one TD, in relief of Frank (Don’t Call Me Tipper) Gore.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 23, St. Louis Rams 6

Benji Says:

Two jokes in two lines of writing, while still including a predicted stat-line? That must be some kind of record, Your Majesty. As for this game, one piece of news that is worth considering: Kyle Boller is starting at quarterback for the Rams. I say that not because he is a good player, but because he is a significant upgrade over the injured Marc Bulger. The Rams will put up some points in the passing game this week…

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 26, St. Louis Rams 23

San Diego Chargers (2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)

King Says:

The Chargers and Steelers have been playing intermittently since 1971, and never has San Diego won a regular-season game in Pittsburgh. They’re 0-13 at the confluence of the three rivers. It ends here, I say, because Philip Rivers is playing out of his mind. I’ll get some arguments, deservedly, for this statement, but no one in the NFL right now is throwing the deep ball better than Rivers, and he’ll get a couple more of those floated into Vincent Jackson’s arms this week.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 24

Benji Says:

The Steelers are a flawed team right now. They cannot run the ball effectively and are without the services of top back Willie Parker this week. Furthermore, their defense has been shaky since safety Troy Polamalu went out a couple weeks ago. Philip Rivers can throw the deep ball with the best of them (we actually agree on something!) and I think that Pittsburgh is vulnerable at the moment…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 24

Green Bay Packers (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (3-0)

King Says:

Forget the post-game handshake between Brad Childress and Mike McCarthy. I’m looking for the pregame handshakes between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, McCarthy and Ted Thompson. Re the game, I see a shootout, with 600 passing yards, and Favre making one more play than Rodgers.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 26, Green Bay Packers 23

Benji Says:

This is going to be an exciting game, possibly one that comes close to living up to all of the hype. I also see a shootout, but I see Favre taking a backseat to teammate Adrian Peterson, and Rodgers making some plays at the end of the game to pull off the upset. Neither of these teams is as good as advertised in the preseason but I still think the Packers are more talented up and down the roster. Guess we’ll see…

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 26, Minnesota Vikings 23