King Says, Benji Says (Week 14)

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“We’re not so different, you and I…”

-Peter King (sort of)

King, Dr. Evil and every other cheesy super villain seem to be onto something. If you spend enough time dueling your nemesis, there is always the danger that you will end up turning into him. After a three-week stretch in which we picked an identical number of games correctly, I was starting to question my own autonomy as a faux sports analyst. Then last night happened: I jokingly posted a picture of “pocket kings” to represent King and myself and used his pick, which belittled the Browns to no end, as the sole representation of both of our views on the Thursday Night game between the Steelers and Browns. Needless to say, we were really, really wrong…and I feel really, really stupid. Never again will I let His Majesty speak for me! Even if his picks are right, his analysis is nearly always way off base. Ok, rant over. Back to picking against (hopefully) His Royal Doofusness…

Last Week:

Peter King (10-6)

Benji (10-6)

Brian (9-7)

Overall:

Peter King (132-60)

Benji (130-62)

Brian (122-71)

Carolina Panthers (5-7) at New England Patriots (7-5)

King Says:

The sense of urgency has been ratcheted up in New England, with the Patriots having lost three of four for the first time since 2002. On a horrific weather morning Thursday, four Patriots including Randy Moss were late for an 8 a.m. team meeting, and Bill Belichick sent them home. Tom Brady questioned his mates’ dedication this week too. All I can say is this: That run-defense had better be dedicated Sunday against DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, or it’s going to be four out of five.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Carolina Panthers 23

Benji Says:

I would like to either agree with you or disagree with you, Your Majesty, but the truth of the matter is I don’t know what to think of this Patriots team at this point. The Panthers aren’t the greatest team in the world, but they can keep opposing passing games in check and their running game is superb. My gut feeling though? The Patriots take care of business here…

Prediction: New England Patriots 35, Carolina Panthers 17

Cincinnati Bengals (9-3) at Minnesota Vikings (10-2)

King Says:

In September, if you’d asked Cincinnati defensive coordinator MIke Zimmer the two linemen he could least afford to lose, he’d have said Antwan Odom and Domato Peko. Now he’s lost Odom, his best pass-rusher, for the year with an Achilles injury and Peko, his best run-stuffer, till January with a knee scope. Not a good time to be facing the Vikings, on the rug at the Metrodome, with Adrian Peterson determined to get back on track and Brett Favre in the middle of a very good year.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 27, Cincinnati Bengals 17

Benji Says:

While it’s true that the Bengals have lost arguably their two best defensive players, the numbers do not indicate to me that this is a team struggling defensively. Honestly, for all the accolades that quarterback Carson Palmer has received for his “resurgence,” the offense is still the weak link for this team. Cincinnati plays for field goals and lets the defense and running game handle the rest. You can name drop if you want, Your Majesty; personally I judge defenses by how they play as a unit and by the statistics that they compile.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 16, Minnesota Vikings 13

New York Jets (6-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-11)

King Says:

Get that resume tape ready, Kellen Clemens. If you play your cards right, you’ll be dueling Mike Vick on the unemployment line come March. This game could be a good argument for someone to take a chance on a restricted free-agent with a checkered starting record.

Prediction: New York Jets 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Benji Says:

In half a game of mediocre play, Kellen Clemens apparently went from being a career backup quarterback to a free-agent treasure. Were you really that desperate for an angle here, Your Majesty? Couldn’t you have made a “fat joke” about Rex Ryan or something? Or would that have hit too close to home…

Prediction: New York Jets 23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Seattle Seahawks (5-7) at Houston Texans (5-7)

King Says:

This is the kind of game that’s a must win for a coach trying to save his job. Gary Kubiak, I mean; not Jim Mora. And by the way, it’s not a given that Kubiak’s gone. The owner, Bob McNair, thinks the team is closer to the playoffs than the general populace does.

Prediction: Houston Texans 21, Seattle Seahawks 16

Benji Says:

Dramatize all you want, Your Majesty—the truth of the matter is, both of these coaches are in trouble and neither team has a shot at the playoffs. I’m taking the Texans here, just based on the talent advantage (Seattle has no chance in hell of containing star wide receiver Andre Johnson) but I don’t feel very good about it.

Prediction: Houston Texans 23, Seattle Seahawks 20

Buffalo Bills (4-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-9)

King Says:

Please don’t make me say something intelligent about this game.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 9, Buffalo Bills 6

Benji Says:

Shame on you, King. Asking us not to make you say something intelligent only serves to further perpetuate the myth that you ever have something intelligent to say about any of the games…

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 16, Buffalo Bills 10

New Orleans Saints (12-0) at Atlanta Falcons (6-6)

King Says:

I wanted to pick a real game here. But I just don’t see the Falcons slowing down Drew Brees. Falcons have allowed three of their last four foes to score 28 or more. Saints are scoring 36 a game in their last eight. I sense a trend.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 37, Atlanta Falcons 17

Benji Says:

I also sense a trend: in each of the last two weeks, you have failed to acknowledge Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan’s toe injury. Without Ryan (and probably running back Michael Turner) in the lineup, this team has no chance against New Orleans regardless of how the defense plays…

New Orleans Saints 30, Atlanta Falcons 17

Green Bay Packers (8-4) at Chicago Bears (5-7)

King Says:

I’m going to admit one of the biggest mistakes of my autumn: underrating Aaron Rodgers. He’s a smart, accurate, devoted and focused quarterback. The Packers have a top-10 passer who just turned 26 and with limited wear on his body in the house for the next decade.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 29, Chicago Bears 20

Benji Says:

If Rodgers keeps taking as many shots as he has so far this season, there’s no way he stays healthy for the next decade. It’s nice to see you actually own up to a mistake, however, so I won’t nitpick…

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 23, Chicago Bears 16

Miami Dolphins (6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5)

King Says:

Tony Sparano is giving Paul Pasqualoni, his defensive coordinator, that Parcellsesque evil eye this week. It’s the kind of glare Sparano gives when he wants someone to perform better. And the Dolphins’ run defense will be the key to this game. It started to get back on track with the red-zone stuffing of the Patriots last week, but this still is a run game that’s allowed 5.3 yards per carry in the past three weeks, and the Dolphins know Maurice Jones-Drew will be touching the ball 25 times this week. I have faith in the Dolphins D … barely.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 21, Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Benji Says:

Methinks the defense played okay last week, so why all of the Parcells/evil eye jargon? The Dolphins beat the Patriots largely because the defense created several key turnovers. Again, though, you missed the key injury that probably swings the outcome of this game: Jacksonville’s top receiver, Mike Sims-Walker, is out with a strained calf and the Jaguars don’t have any other receivers who can take advantage of Miami’s weaknesses in its secondary.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Denver Broncos (8-4) at Indianapolis Colts (12-0)

King Says:

Two 13-0 teams. Three weeks to play. It’s happening. It’s on. Now the question is: Have you ever heard of Curtis Painter? And Colts fans, are you ready to watch Curtis Painter try to win a couple of games to make you 16-0?

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 23, Denver Broncos 21

Benji Says:

Way to pick Denver to make it a close game and then not justify the pick. Personally, I think the Colts are miles ahead of the Broncos…

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 30, Denver Broncos 17

Detroit Lions (2-10) at Baltimore Ravens (6-6)

King Says:

I’ve been wrong on the Ravens all year. I am the president of The Ravens Duped Me Fan Club. And as I went through my volumes of stats and preview information for the week, I decided to throw logic away and take one more chance. Ravens over the Lions! Come on, Joe Flacco! Channel your inner 2008!

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 30, Detroit Lions 10

Benji Says:

Don’t tempt the football gods, Your Majesty. We both saw what happened when we did that on Thursday with the Steelers/Browns game…

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 23, Detroit Lions 13

St. Louis Rams (1-11) at Tennessee Titans (5-7)

King Says:

Chris Johnson, slightly derailed in his MVP/2,000-yard quest at Indianapolis last week, is back with a vengeance … outdueling the noble Steven Jackson with a 175-yard game. The Titans, by the way, will be .500, with a faint playoff pulse, when the Chargers come to Nashville on Christmas night.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 24, St. Louis Rams 9

Benji Says:

Last time I checked, running for 113 yards on 27 carries (Johnson’s seventh straight game with over 100 rushing yards) qualified as a good game for a running back…

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 27, St. Louis Rams 9

Washington Redskins (3-9) at Oakland Raiders (4-8)

King Says:

Against Cincinnati, Bruce Gradkowski had a nice little win. Against Pittsburgh, Al Davis had to sit up and take notice. With a third win now, this question has to be asked inside the Raiders’ inner sanctum: Could we actually seriously consider making Bruce Gradkowski our opening-day quarterback in 2010?

Prediction: Oakland Raiders 23, Washington Redskins 20

Benji Says:

The Raiders are definitely significantly better on offense with Gradkowski at quarterback, but they’re still not that good, are they? I think Washington finally wins a close game…

Prediction: Washington Redskins 23, Oakland Raiders 20

San Diego Chargers (9-3) at Dallas Cowboys (8-4)

King Says:

Yes, I realize there’s an NFL rule mandating that Dallas loses in December and Tony Romo chokes and Jerry Jones fumes. So why do I have this strange twist of fate, the Cowboys beating the third-hottest team in football, a team with impossible matchups in the passing game? Because I think the Chargers can be run on (they’ve allowed 5.5 yards per rush in the past three weeks), and because I think Felix Jones and Marion Barber are the guys to do it.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, San Diego Chargers 27

Benji Says:

All “NFL rules” aside, I’m still picking against the Cowboys. Their defense has been a strength for most of the year, but it allowed big play after big play against the Giants last week. Against San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, who throws one of the best deep balls in the league, Dallas’s secondary is in serious trouble unless it makes some major adjustments. The Cowboys can run on the Chargers, but I’m not convinced they can outscore them…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 33, Dallas Cowboys 26

Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) at New York Giants (7-5)

King Says:

I hesitate slightly, because the Giants’ run-defense rallied last week against Dallas, if that run defense is as good this week, New York will win. But I’m not buying that the D is permanently fixed — yet. On the pro side for Philly: The Giants have struggled with the Eagles’ new speed, and DeSean Jackson could return Sunday night from a concussion. Eli Manning looked awful last week; his mechanics might be thrown off because of injuries to both feet. And the Eagles are on the right side of the seesaw in this ever-changing series, winning three in a row by a combined 83-42.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 24, New York Giants 20

Benji Says:

I think the gist of King’s run-on sentence is that if the Giants can stop the run as well as they did last week, they have a shot at winning this game. I disagree. Giants quarterback Eli Manning, because he is playing through injuries to both feet and compensating on his throws, will cause his team to lose the game. Philadelphia’s opportunistic defensive backs will surely take advantage of Manning’s miscues…

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 23, New York Giants 14

Arizona Cardinals (8-4) at San Francisco 49ers (5-7)

King Says:

If I were John York and son Jed, I’d be thinking about adding Mike Holmgren to the Mike Singletary-Scot McLoughlan mix right now. Thinking, not necessarily buying. The Niners need to decide on Alex Smith or one of the college guys as their quarterback of the future, and if I were a Niners fan, I’d love to see Holmgren dispatched to work out the top eight kids in the draft this year, then come back to determine if Smith or one of those kids is the long-term solution.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 31, San Francisco 49ers 16

Benji Says:

I don’t know why, but the 49ers always seem to play the Cardinals close despite having a far less talented team. That’s not much in the way of analysis, but it sure beats random speculation about Mike Holmgren becoming a front office representative for a former division rival…

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 27, San Francisco 49ers 20

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