King Says, Benji Says (Week 12)

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Now that our Thanksgiving food hangovers have finally subsided, His Majesty and I are ready to “gobble” up some more tasty football match-ups for your entertainment. We’ve agreed on quite a bit lately, but this weekend’s set of games looks to be a perfect storm of analytical dissonance for the two of us. Sit back, grab a leftover turkey leg and enjoy…

Last Week:

Peter King (13-3)

Benji (13-3)

Brian (12-4)

Overall:

Peter King (111-49)

Benji (109-51)

Brian (99-62)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-9) at Atlanta Falcons (5-5)

King Says:

Feel free to call me on this prediction: Matt Ryan’s in the midst of a 1-4 run of losing. It’s the last time in his career he’ll be on such a run.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 26, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10

Benji Says:

As always, Brian and I will be sure to call you out on this prediction, a textbook King unwittingly fearless prognostication. I’m with you on the Falcons winning—the Buccaneers are terrible, after all—but I don’t feel that strongly about it.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 26, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Indianapolis Colts (10-0) at Houston Texans (5-5)

King Says:

And so the dream dies here, the dream of a perfect Indy season, at Reliant Stadium, where the Colts have had an increasingly difficult time winning. I understand the Colts are 14-1 against the Texans in their history together, but in the past three years, the Colts have been just one measly touchdown better than the Texans in Reliant. Composite 2006, ’07 and ’08 score when they meet in Houston: Colts, 85-78. One final factor: Houston has much to play for. Indy? Not so much. Because the Colts know their new coach, just like the last coach, will probably yank the starters as soon home-field in the AFC is clinched, rendering the run for perfection moot.

Prediction: Houston Texans 30, Indianapolis Colts 27

Benji Says:

What you forgot to mention in the midst of your analysis of the Colts/Texans games over the past three years, Your Majesty, is what the Texans have done in the last three weeks. Houston, since losing its second best offensive target (tight end Owen Daniels) for the year, has struggled to score in the red zone and has no running game to speak of. Is it possible that the Texans win this game? Yes, after all, the Colts made key mistakes when these two teams met three weeks ago and only won by a field goal. I just don’t think that picking the Colts to lose here is by any means a sure thing (as your analysis implies it is).

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 30, Houston Texans 23

Miami Dolphins (5-5) at Buffalo Bills (3-7)

King Says:

At various points in the past five years, Ricky Williams has been a) a new-age medical student; b) high on life; c) totally disinterested in football; d) the key to any playoff hopes the Dolphins have; or e) all of the above. Correct answer, obviously, is “e.”

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 27, Buffalo Bills 16

Benji Says:

The correct way to utilize writing space dedicated to football analysis is a) as a forum for discussing Starbucks cappuccino flavors; b) as a way to rehash off-the-field issues about a team’s star player that in no way pertain to the game at hand; c) by creating a silly set of multiple choice answers that are clearly (to the average NFL fan) all applicable and then telling us the answer anyway; or d) attempting to mock the original offender by using the same lame format because you don’t feel like analyzing what looks to be a terrible game.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 30, Buffalo Bills 16

Washington Redskins (3-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-4)

King Says:

Welcome to the DeSean and LeSean Show. Jackson and McCoy account for 21 points at the Linc, and fans get off Andy Reid’s back for one Sunday.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, Washington Redskins 16

Benji Says:

Why, Your Majesty, do you insist on making such specific stat predictions about Eagles players this season? The chances of you being wrong are so much higher than you being right, even if the point you’re making in your analysis (DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy are the keys to the Eagles offense) ends up being correct. My take? The Washington defense, which has been solid all year, will probably put up another strong performance, but its offense simply cannot score…

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 17, Washington Redskins 10

Chicago Bears (4-6) at Minnesota Vikings (9-1)

King Says:

The Vikings and Bears will meet twice in a 29-day span. Chicago will regret both encounters.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 33, Chicago Bears 27

Benji Says:

Maybe it’s just me, but usually when one brings in the clichéd “these two teams will meet twice in a ___ span” statement, I find that he/she is referring to a situation in which the two teams are playing each other twice in a short time period. A month is a long time between games…. The part about Chicago regretting both encounters, though? Probably true…

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 30, Chicago Bears 20

Carolina Panthers (4-6) at New York Jets (4-6)

King Says:

How long’s it been since a team with two three-game losing streaks in one season is in wild-card contention? Ever? A win here could have the Jets a game out of the second wild card Sunday night with five games to play. Pretty fortunate for a team that’s 1-6 since September and playing like lost sheep in the pasture of life.

Prediction: New York Jets 23, Carolina Panthers 20

Benji Says:

Usually a team has to show some signs of life (as in maybe winning some games and not turning the ball over five times a contest?) before hyperbolic sportswriters begin to write about it mounting a comeback in the standings. The turnovers are what really have me shying away from taking the Jets here—rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez (once dubbed the “Sanchize” by His Majesty earlier this season) looks lost on the field and is making terrible decisions throwing the ball.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 23, New York Jets 17

Arizona Cardinals (7-3) at Tennessee Titans (4-6)

King Says:

Something’s got to give in Nashville. Titans have won four straight. Cards are 5-0 on the road. Vince Young’s on fire. Kurt Warner left last Sunday’s game with a ringing headache. It might be that simple — plus, I think Warner’s only going to have nine or 10 possession. That’s what the ball-control offense of the Chris Johnson-led Titans can do to you.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 27, Arizona Cardinals 20

Benji Says:

Something is going to give in Nashville—I believe it will be the last semblance of Arizona backup quarterback Matt Leinart’s self-confidence. The Cardinals aren’t going to take any chances with Warner with the NFC West all but sewn up…

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 23, Arizona Cardinals 16

Cleveland Browns (1-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-3)

King Says:

In the sixth round last April, the Bengals had two picks. They selected cornerback Morgan Trent of Michigan and running back Bernard Scott from Abilene Christian. This weekend, they’ll be terrorizing Brady Quinn and rushing for 100 yards, respectively, in a rout of Cleveland.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 38, Cleveland Browns 10

Benji Says:

Enough with the super-specific stats, Your Majesty! You have a better chance of undermining your likely correct analysis than you do of picking exact stat-lines for players. Your point is valid, however—the Browns are really bad…

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 30, Cleveland Browns 13

Seattle Seahawks (3-7) at St. Louis Rams (1-9)

King Says:

If you sell this one out, Kevin Demoff, you’re executive of the century.

Prediction: St. Louis Rams 23, Seattle Seahawks 20

Benji Says:

Come on, there have certainly been worse games to pick on than this one—the Rams did play the Browns after all.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 27, St. Louis Rams 20

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) at San Francisco 49ers (4-6)

King Says:

Aubrayo Franklin and Isaac Sapoaga over Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD held to 43 total yards, and the 49ers advance to 5-6. They’ve got a wild-card pulse.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 17, Jacksonville Jaguars 15

Benji Says:

First of all, the 49ers run defense may be good (ranked second in the league, allowing 3.5 yards per carry) but is it really good enough to completely shut down Maurice Jones-Drew, who has rushed for 463 yards over the last four weeks? Second of all, for the last time, quit it with the exact predictions on players’ stats! Trying to guess a player’s exact stat-line is the gambling equivalent of placing all of your money on a single number in roulette…

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 17, San Francisco 49ers 15

Kansas City Chiefs (3-7) at San Diego Chargers (7-3)

King Says:

Oh, how I wanted to pick the Chiefs to make it three in a row. I would have, if I thought they could cover the basketball team known as the San Diego receiver group. Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, Kassim Osgood, Antonio Gates ??? it’s an NBA team, a bunch of 6-foot-5 athletes with great hands.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 31, Kansas City Chiefs 21

Benji Says:

I guess it has been at least three weeks since you made a comment about the height advantage that the Chargers’ receivers have over an opposing team’s defensive backs…still, though, isn’t there something else you could talk about with San Diego other than its tall receivers and its perennial Pro Bowl tight end (Antonio Gates) being overlooked (see Brian’s post from last week)? How about this: the Chargers have a major talent advantage over the Chiefs and should win this game easily unless they don’t show up to play (which is always a possibility)…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 34, Kansas City Chiefs 20

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

King Says:

Hines Ward, James Harrison and James Farrior have circled the wagons this week in Pittsburgh. Last year, when the veterans drew a line in the sand and said Baltimore’s not crossing over, the Steelers beat Baltimore by 3, 4 and 9 points. I respect Baltimore resiliency, but I like Pittsburgh’s players better, even in the killer Maryland venue. The one thing I know about this game is that midway through the third quarter, after Ray Lewis knocks Rashard Mendenhall into next week, Dick Ebersol’s going to be in the NBC truck, smiling, and thinking, “Thank God I didn’t flex out of this game.”

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 22, Baltimore Ravens 17

Benji Says:

Wow, King. Way to mention five players involved in this game without making any reference to the key player whose presence (or lack thereof) will likely decide the outcome of this game: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. If Big Ben plays, the Steelers have a good chance to win, but I highly doubt the team (despite suggesting otherwise during the week) will let him play a week after sustaining a concussion. If he doesn’t play (and I believe he won’t), second year player Dennis Dixon (Pittsburgh’s only healthy quarterback) will struggle mightily against the opportunistic Baltimore defense.

Baltimore Ravens 28, Pittsburgh Steelers 6

New England Patriots (7-3) at New Orleans Saints (10-0)

King Says:

Slightly alarming trend: Pats have been outscored in the second half of their three losses 47-10. More alarming trend Monday night: Drew Brees has about 11 favorite receivers. There can’t be too much hype for this game. It’s going to be really good. Gregg Williams is going to have to be really good to put his beat-up secondary in position to make enough plays against the great Brady to win.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 37, New England Patriots 33

Benji Says:

How about this for a “slightly alarming trend:” The Saints have only played one team (the Eagles) with fewer than five losses so far this season. They also almost lost to both the Rams and Buccaneers. Yes, the Saints’ offense is great (ranked number one in the league in case everyone in the media hasn’t already mentioned it)—but are they really an elite team? Right now they are the NFL equivalent of the undefeated college football team at Boise State. Here’s a great chance for them to prove me wrong—the Patriots are right behind them in nearly every offensive category and have, at the least, proven that they are capable of beating the also-undefeated Colts. If the Saints win this one, I will have to start taking them seriously…

Prediction: New England Patriots 30, New Orleans Saints 27

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