King Says, Benji Says (Week 8)



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)


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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One Response to “King Says, Benji Says (Week 8)”

  1. Helen Timmons Says:

    Billy Davis was a Receiver at Cincinnati and a QB in High School.

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