Posts Tagged ‘Benji’

The Inside Scoop

February 28, 2009

peterkingsnightjob

His Majesty, Si.com’s number one Patriots fan, has dazzled his readers over the past few months with confident claims that suggested he had the “inside scoop” on quarterback Matt Cassel’s future.

Back in the Week 9 edition of Monday Morning Quarterback, King had this to say about the possible “franchising” of Cassel:

I said on NBC last night that Matt Cassel will be in a unique position after the season. In this day and age, it’s highly rare that a young starting quarterback, playing well, would hit the open market. But Cassel, 26, will almost certainly not be tagged by the Patriots after the season, and the team will risk losing him unless Tom Brady looks like he’ll have problems returning from his knee surgery for the start of the 2009 season.

In Week 11, he reiterated his stance that the Patriots would not put the franchise tag on Cassel:

Write this down: The only way they’ll tag Cassel is if Tom Brady’s knee rehab takes a major turn for the worse, to the point the Pats don’t feel confident Brady will be ready to start the 2009 season. That’s it. Because the NFLPA won’t allow teams to franchise players if they have no intention of keeping them, the Patriots won’t be able to franchise Cassel if they intend to trade him. So, barring a Brady setback, expect Cassel to be a free-agent and end up making $9 million a year with (pick one) Minnesota, Detroit, San Francisco, St. Louis or whatever team Josh McDaniels coaches in 2009, should he be fortunate enough to get a head-coaching job.

Not only did I “write this down,” Your Majesty, I saved the link so I could share it with everyone on the internet. As we all know, the Patriots did “franchise” Cassel, and based on the quick timing on today’s trade, did so without the intention of keeping him on the team for next season.

The best stop on this trip down the Royal Memory Lane, however, comes more recently. In the February 9th edition of Monday Morning Quarterback, The King had this to say about the possibility of Cassel being traded to the Chiefs:

That leaves Cassel’s old pal Pioli. I think Cassel and Todd Haley would make beautiful music together. The Hunt family wouldn’t grouse at the money. But I say no — not because Pioli doesn’t love the kid. I say no because of Pioli’s history. The Patriots took Tom Brady with the 199th pick in 2000. They took Cassel with the 230th pick in 2005. Let’s say the Patriots asked Kansas City for its second-round pick in 2009 and 2010. Pioli values picks in the 30s the way most team value picks in the teens. I’d be stunned if he did it. I think he’d trust Haley to pick a Josh Freeman in this draft in the third round, let’s say, and work with Freeman, Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen over the next couple of years and say, “Let the best man win.”

Whoops. As confirmed today in a “breaking news” story by His Majesty, New England agreed to trade Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel in exchange for the Chiefs’ second round draft pick. In the wake of this “stunning acquisition” (to use His Majesty’s words), methinks The King should start looking for some new sources…or learn to stop treating blind speculation as journalism.

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King Says, Benji Says (Divisional Round)

January 10, 2009

kingregroupswhilebenjigiveshimselfavitaminwaterbath

I know, I know, I should probably act like I’ve been here before. The truth of the matter, though, is that I haven’t been here before. Like the Arizona Cardinals, I’ve decided to over-celebrate my first round victory while I still can. In the spirit of good-natured trash talking, I ask you, King and Brian, do you like apples? Four and Oh. How do you like them apples?

Last Week:

Peter King (2-2)
Benji (4-0)
Brian (2-2)

Regular Season:

Peter King (162-93-1)
Benji (155-100-1)
Brian (166-89-1)

Baltimore Ravens (12-5) at Tennessee Titans (13-3)

The King says:

If these teams played 10 times, I guarantee each would win five. Then again, if these teams played 10 times, the equipment guys would have to suit up because about 33 guys per team would be on IR by game nine. I really like that Kerry Collins, the last time these teams met, had the gumption to take the Titans on scoring drives of 80 and 81 yards after doing nothing for 40 minutes; Tennessee won, 13-10.


I’m going with the Ravens because I think their defense will make a couple more plays than they did last time, and because of Flacco. I loved what his college coach at Delaware, K.C. Keeler, told Damon Hack in this week’s Sports Illustrated: “Ice water in his veins. Nothing bothers him. To him, he was just wearing a blue uniform last year and he’s wearing a purple uniform this year.”

At first glance, Flacco didn’t do much to help the Ravens win in Miami the other day, but look deeper. He did play mistake-free — no sacks, interceptions or fumbles. The Titans will have to force him into some uncharacteristic errors to win.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 16, Tennessee Titans 12

Benji says:

Your Majesty, if you really believe that these two teams are equal (as implied by your “guarantee” that each team would win five games if they played ten times), then why would you pick the road team to win, especially after you sing the praises of Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins? I mean, I agree with your pick, but all season long you have been right for the wrong (or nonsensical) reasons. I’m taking the Ravens because I do not believe these two teams are equal—I believe that Baltimore does everything that Tennessee does and more (The Ravens finished second in total defense while the Titans were seventh). Both defenses can pressure the quarterback and shut down the run but are somewhat susceptible to the deep pass play. A team with a good quarterback and a true deep threat can beat the Ravens but the Titans are not that team. Joe Flacco may be a rookie, but his mobility and his ability to throw the deep ball give Baltimore a clear advantage at the quarterback position. Unless Flacco has a terrible game, I do not see the Titans advancing.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 20, Tennessee Titans 13

Arizona Cardinals (10-7) at Carolina Panthers (12-4)

The King says:

Go back to draft day. Remember the deal Panthers GM Marty Hurney made in the middle of round one? He dealt second- and fourth-round picks in the 2008 draft, and a first-rounder in 2009, for the Eagles’ first-round choice (19th overall). Was right tackle Jeff Otah really worth that kind of quarterback-ish ransom? Apparently he was because the Panthers rushed for 30 touchdowns this year. Thirty! John Fox wanted an offense that was more slug-it-out than throw-it-deep. Luckily for him, the Panthers are blessed with the ability to do both, and I don’t trust Arizona’s running game to be as good this week as it was last week against Atlanta, when Edgerrin James swam in the Ponce de Leon pool. I think Carolina controls the clock and the game.


Prediction: Carolina Panthers 26, Arizona Cardinals 17

Benji says:

Say what you will about The King’s anecdotes, but it kind of seems like he has a point here. The Panthers’ successful shift in offensive identity has made them a formidable opponent for any team they might face in the playoffs, let alone an upstart team with a terrible defense. Despite playing six games against teams from the NFC West, Arizona allowed 26.6 points per contest (good for 28th in the league) during the regular season. I went with the Cardinals last week, because I (correctly) thought that their offense would lead the way at home against another team with a mediocre defense. The Panthers, though, are better offensively and defensively than the Falcons and have the home field advantage (they are 8-0 at home this season). Enjoy the lingering odor of your Gatorade bath while you still can, Ken Wisenhunt…

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 30, Arizona Cardinals 23

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6-1) at New York Giants (12-4)

The King says:

The reason the Eagles are major-league dangerous Sunday at 1 is what Brian Westbrook told me the other day: “We feel like it’s our goal to right the wrongs of the whole season.”

I’m hearing things like that more and more out of these Eagles — that they’re determined to prove the ups and downs of the season are out of their system, and they may not be a great offense, but they’re good enough to win any game they play, and they have the kind of veteran presence and experience that will allow them to win a big game. Look at Westbrook’s game last week, for instance — held to nothing for 53 minutes, he takes a screen pass 71 yards to the end zone to turn a nail-biting, two-point lead into a busted-open game.

But the difference here, I believe, will be Brandon Jacobs. Even if Eli Manning can’t go deep two or three times in this game — which he couldn’t do in the Eagles’ 20-14 win over the Giants five weeks ago — I think Jacobs will be the kind of physical presence the Giants need to make it to the NFC title game. I am hedging my bets because of the Westbrook factor. He could win this game by himself. But I think Jacobs and ball-control will win it for New York.

Prediction: New York Giants 27, Philadelphia Eagles 20

Benji says:

I find it interesting, Your Majesty, that you place so much faith in New York running back Brandon Jacobs, a player whose health is uncertain and who, even if he is healthy, will likely be rusty after not playing for the past month. The way you seem to see it, the game will come down to the two starting running backs, Brian Westbrook and Brandon Jacobs, and thus, you have chosen uncertainty (Jacobs) over certainty (Westbrook, who as you pointed out, was the difference against the Vikings). You may get this pick right, but you sure as hell will not get it right for the reasons stated above. The reason that I am picking against the Giants is because, as you mentioned earlier, Eli Manning does not have a deep threat at wide receiver. I believe that defensive coordinators have figured the Plaxico-less Giants out and are loading up the box in order to stop the run, knowing that they will not get burned long. I still believe New York can win this game, though, on the strength of its defense and the inconsistency of the Eagles’ passing game. It’s about time I won a toss-up pick…

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 23, New York Giants 20

San Diego Chargers (9-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

The King says:

I still can’t believe if the Chargers and Ravens win, a team that was 4-8 just 33 days ago would host the AFC Championship Game. That’s not just a great story, it’s an all-time story. But I can’t predict it. Michael Bennett and Darren Sproles won’t be able to dent this version of the Steel Curtain for more than 100 yards; if you wonder why I don’t include LaDainian Tomlinson in the San Diego rushing attack, it’s because he won’t be there — and if he is, he’ll last about three runs.

On the other side of the ball, doesn’t it seem like about three months since the Steelers have played a football game? Time enough to get Willie Parker closer to good health and to get Ben Roethlisberger’s head cleared. But I don’t see this as a big game for Roethlisberger. I think Mike Tomlin wants to play January football in the northeast, and he wants offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to try to pummel the Chargers into submission. This game is going to be won by ball-control and by Parker and Mewelde Moore.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 19, San Diego Chargers 13

Benji says:

Stop the presses: Peter King says that LaDanian Tomlinson will not be a factor in this game. Thanks for breaking that story, Your Majesty, I should have a much easier time making my pick now. Seriously, though, the Chargers’ running game will struggle to gain positive yardage against the Steelers. In an NFL season filled with uncertainty and inconsistent play, the Pittsburgh defense has been constant. The Steelers allowed the fewest yards and the fewest points in the NFL during the regular season and only allowed a team to score more than 21 point in a game once (a Week 10 loss to the Colts). If the Chargers were matched up against any of the other remaining AFC teams, I would give them a fighting chance—against the Steelers, though, I will pick against them without hesitation.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 20, San Diego Chargers 13

Brian’s turn:

Well, I can’t make excuses because Benji did out-pick me last week. I will only say this: How impressive is it that Benji went 4-0 in the first round of the playoffs? Don Banks did it too. So there you have it, I picked the same as Peter King, and Benji picked the same as Don Banks. I’m embarrassed for both of us.

Titans over Ravens

I just feel like too many people like the Ravens. Not the best reason to go against them (I really like the Ravens too) but I feel like I need to pick an upset. I really like Jeff Fisher. I think both teams have great defenses, but the Titans have two good runners. But then again, I thought the Falcons had a good running game and they came out flat last week, so who knows.

Panthers over Cardinals

Just like the Ravens in the last game, everyone is picking the Panthers to win. But I will forgo my analysis from my previous prediction and go with the flow of consensus.

Eagles over Giants

I’m picking the Eagles because I picked a Steelers/Eagles Super Bowl. Philly made it this far, so why would I abandon it now?

Steelers murder the Chargers

I hate Philip Rivers because he makes too many faces and looks like a frat boy. Benji and I have discussed this topic in depth (editor’s note: Jagerbomb!). I can’t root for him and I don’t want him to win. Therefore, the Steelers will crush him. Big Ben’s due for a big day.

King Says, Benji Says (Wild Card Weekend)

January 2, 2009

benjikingcoldweather

With the New Year comes a new picking season. His Majesty may have defeated me in our regular season battle, but the playoff war begins now. The stats over the past four weeks (Benji 43-21, King 37-27) tell an interesting story: When the weather cools down, so does The King. His Majesty enters postseason play as an unquestioned favorite over yours truly, but one of us is clearly more prepared for the winter weather. Unfortunately for me, I dressed up a week too early—the four wild card games will be played outside in the warm weather climates of Arizona, Florida and California, and inside a dome in frigid Minnesota. Maybe I should just go ahead and let Brian do the picking from now on? After all, he was the winner of our three-way picking contest. For those of you who have been waiting all year for Brian to back up his picks with some analysis of his own, look no further than the end of this post. Let the playoffs begin! I feel as though a wild weekend is in the cards, so to speak…

Regular Season:

Peter King (162-93-1)
Benji (155-100-1)
Brian (166-89-1)

Atlanta Falcons (11-5) at Arizona Cardinals (9-7)

The King says:

Obviously, it’s hard to not sing the praises of Matt Ryan, the Offensive Player of the Year. Let’s look at how Ryan performed on the road in the most hostile of environments, in games at 2008 playoffs teams: lost at Carolina and Philly, won at San Diego and Minnesota. Total interceptions: two. Total time sacked: six. Ben Roethlisberger on the road against playoff teams this year: 1-2, two picks, 11 sacks. My point is, I don’t think Ryan flew cross-country Thursday night thinking to himself: “Gee, this game’s going to be too big for me.”


Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 33, Arizona Cardinals 17

Benji says:

The Roethlisberger/Matt Ryan comparison is totally relevant—in an alternate universe where the Falcons and Steelers play in the same conference and face each other in the first round of the playoffs. What about the Cardinals? Arizona’s offense scored the second most points in the NFC (tied with the Giants) and veteran quarterback Kurt Warner threw for over 4,500 yards with 30 touchdown passes. The Cardinals may not be able to run the ball effectively, but in temperate conditions, their aerial attack should be successful against an Atlanta pass defense that was ranked 23rd in the league. The Falcons should be able to score plenty of points against the Arizona defense as well, but in a shootout-style game, I’ll take the team with the playoff-proven quarterback over the one with the outstanding rookie passer.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 33, Atlanta Falcons 30

Indianapolis Colts (12-4) at San Diego Chargers (8-8)

The King says:

The Chargers have the best shot of any home ‘dog to win this weekend. Peyton Manning is on a ridiculous late-season run, but Philip Rivers might be individually hotter (11 touchdowns, one interception in San Diego’s 4-0 December). While I don’t think the Colts will go into this game thinking it might be the swan song for Tony Dungy, who is expected to ride off into the real-world sunset after the season, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the trusted defensive vets like Dwight Freeney goes around to his guys when things get hot late in the game and says we’re not letting our guy go down like this again, in the first game of the playoffs.

Prediction: Indianapolis 29, San Diego 23

Benji says:

If you recall, I picked the Indianapolis Colts to reach and win the Super Bowl this year back before the season began. So, why, you ask, would I consider picking against them after a 12-4 season, when they are facing a team that squeaked into the playoffs at 8-8? Because the Colts team that I expected to see never quite emerged. Indianapolis has no running game and no deep threat at wide receiver (Marvin Harrison looks washed up) and, therefore, has an offense that cannot consistently score points. The Chargers are hot right now and really have nothing to lose at this point. I may be reading too much into their big win over the defensively challenged Broncos, but I see a team in San Diego that has found its offensive identity and has rediscovered its running game. If you cannot run the ball in the playoffs, you are certain to exit early…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 27, Indianapolis Colts 20

Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at Miami Dolphins (11-5)

The King says:

They played in Week 7, at Miami, and Baltimore won 27-13. Lesson from that game: Chad Pennington was an efficient 68-percent passer, and the Wildcat gave the Fish nothing. They ran it five times, for minus-one, five, zero, minus-three and three yards. Pennington will try to test Baltimore’s corners a few times downfield, and his success or failure will determine the outcome. My view, obviously, is that the Comeback Player of the Year will not have one final comeback in him Sunday. Too much front-seven pressure from the unpredictable Ravens.


Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 16, Miami Dolphins 6

Benji says:

The Dolphins have succeeded all year long by limiting turnovers and capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes…oh, and of course, the Wild Cat formation. That formula failed to work earlier in the season against the Ravens, and I would be surprised to see the Dolphins win this game barring a defensive collapse by Baltimore. The Ravens’ defense can be beaten deep (as the Colts and Cowboys demonstrated earlier this season) but a short passing/running-based offense like Miami’s should not pose any problems for it. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, they got stuck with a terrible first round match-up.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 23, Miami Dolphins 13

Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1) at Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

The King says:

You put Brad Childress on sodium pentathol, and he’ll tell you he wishes he didn’t have to run Adrian Peterson so much this year (363 times), helping him to a bad ankle entering the second season. He’ll admit it was about right to have Peterson and Chester Taylor combine for 464 carries, but Peterson running it 78 percent of those carries was just too much. Well, forget that now. The Vikes have to get on Peterson’s back one more time to have a good chance here, and I say the Eagles — better than you think against the run, 3.5 yards per opposing carry — will hold the gimpy Peterson under 80.

Prediction: Philadelphia 20, Minnesota 13

Benji says:

The Vikings are probably the worst 10-6 team in recent memory. Tarvaris Jackson, as anyone who has been watching him play the past few weeks can attest, has decided to take a page out of Eli Manning’s book (circa ’05-’06) by throwing the ball up for grabs, off his back foot, anytime that he faces a blitz. Against an aggressive defense like Philadelphia’s, Jackson is in for a long game. The Eagles, like the Chargers, are playing with house money at this point.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 30, Minnesota Vikings 13

And now let’s check in with Brian:

Playoffs? Playoffs!?!
Benji will back me up, my Superbowl prediction since Week One has been Steelers versus Eagles. I still have two teams in the playoffs, Peter King has zero (he picked the Patriots and Cowboys). I also beat him in the regular season. I win.

Ravens over Dolphins

Good defense beats gimmick offense.

Falcons over Cardinals

Both teams are inexperienced (the Falcons are young, the Cardinals rarely make the playoffs) but the Falcons can run the ball and the Cardinals fail to impress me.

Colts over Chargers

Peyton Manning will figure out a way to win. I don’t think the Chargers are healthy, and I think they’ll have a let down because they are relieved to sneak into the playoffs.

Eagles over Vikings

McNabb has been here before, a playoff veteran. The Vikings don’t impress me that much and I don’t really think their coach is any good.

Note: I picked the exact same way that King did. I really have no idea. I’d rather go with logical picks and be wrong for educated guesses, than do something random like pick the Cards to win because all home teams “can’t” lose.

King Says, Benji Says (Week 17)

December 27, 2008

kingbigbirdandbenjithegrouch

Christmas has come and gone but the King/Benji picking saga continues. Entering the final week of play, His Majesty holds a nine-pick advantage over yours truly. While I have absolutely no chance of winning, I am determined to pick up some “garbage-time” points and make the final score appear closer than it actually is. I also wouldn’t mind playing the role of “spoiler” by keeping His Majesty distracted long enough for Brian to maintain his slim two-pick advantage. Hey, if I can’t beat The King, I’m sure as hell not joining him. I am a sore, grouchy loser…

Last Week:

Peter King (7-9)
Benji (8-8)
Brian (9-7)

Overall:

Peter King (153-86-1)
Benji (144-95-1)
Brian (155-84-1)

St. Louis Rams (2-13) at Atlanta Falcons (10-5)

The King says:

Repeat this piece of 2008 NFL incredulity after me: The Atlanta Falcons are playing for a first-round playoff bye. They need help from the Saints, which just might be forthcoming.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 40, St. Louis Rams 9

Benji says:

As inconceivable as the idea that the Falcons would be competing for the number two seed might have been before the season began, Your Majesty, your “repeat after me” joke falls flat because you failed to “repeat” it. Would another sentence have pushed you past your word count? I suppose that must be the case, because those Si.com editors are really strict about that sort of thing, especially when it comes to your work. Oh, you guys want one of us, at least, to talk about the Atlanta/St. Louis game? Well, the Rams are really bad on defense (they tackle sloppily and allow far too many big plays) and the Falcons’ offense is balanced and consistent.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 30, St. Louis Rams 20

New England Patriots (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-8)

The King says:

Tempted to pick the Bills. Very tempted, because the winds-will-be-strong-Sunday forecast from weather.com, on my PC, comes up in bright red letters “HIGH WINDS” for gameday — and my new underrated combo-platter at running back is Marshawn Lynch and Fred “Drag ‘Em Into The End Zone” Jackson. Last six games: 120 rushing yards per game, 5.0 yards per carry. But this game is too important for the Patriots’ D to not bring the big-boy pads.

Prediction: New England Patriots 28, Buffalo Bills 20

Benji says:

Your Majesty, as a Patriots fan, you should know better than to do something silly like conclude that a team with a good running game gains a clear advantage over New England when the weather is cold and windy. The Patriots’ offense is built around short passing that serves the same function as running the ball. As for New England’s defense, even if it “brings the big-boy pads,” who’s going to wear them? Half of the Patriots’ defensive starters are injured (listed as questionable or out for this game) and the team has very little depth at linebacker or defensive back. For the Patriots to win this game, the offense will have to play well and capitalize on the Bills’ mistakes—which, given Buffalo’s recent track record (last week’s win over Denver notwithstanding), are sure to be forthcoming.

Prediction: New England Patriots 23, Buffalo Bills 16

Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-11-1)

The King says:

Stupid Chiefs. They can’t even lose right. They solidify third place instead of fighting for second in the Matthew Stafford Draft Derby.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 20, Cincinnati Bengals 13

Benji says:

The Chiefs, unlike the Bengals, seem to be going in the right direction. I like their offense and I think that they have a solid nucleus (quarterback Tyler Thigpen, running back Larry Johnson, receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end Tony Gonzalez) to build on. Cincinnati cannot run the ball, has a big-play receiver (Chad Ocho Cinco) who has had more name changes (1) than catches of more than 26 yards (0) this season, and a fill-in quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) who has been unable to sustain drives. Let me assure you, with much confidence, that a three game winning streak is not forthcoming for the Bengals…

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 27, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Detroit Lions (0-15) at Green Bay Packers (5-9)

The King says:

History, sweet history. Sports Quiz: Name the last quarterback of a winless NFL team. I’ll give you a second. Need more time? Answer below, in Arizona-Seattle game.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31, Detroit Lions 13

Benji says:

I love sports quizzes—especially when they have answers so I can check to see if I guessed correctly. Revisit your Arizona-Seattle pick, Your Majesty, and you will note that you did not provide the promised answer to your question. Was somebody drinking spiked eggnog while he wrote up his picks this week? As for this game, I expect that the Packers will win rather easily. The Lions were blown out last week by a team (the Saints) that had nothing left to play for and have lost to the four teams with losing records that they have played this season by an average margin of 16.5 points. And no team, especially one that has already had a disappointing season, wants to be the team that Detroit beats.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 30, Detroit Lions 16

Tennessee Titans (13-2) at Indianapolis Colts (11-4)

The King says:

Vince Young lives! Imagine on Draft Day 2006 if I told you Young would be reduced to the Jim Sorgi role by the end of Year 3 in the NFL. You’d have told me I was crazy. Well, you’d be right there, but not because of the Vince Young answer.


Prediction: Tennessee Titans 28, Indianapolis Colts 13

Benji says:

In a match-up between two sets of back-ups, I will, to no one’s surprise, pick the team with more depth. Vince Young needs the reps, because Kerry Collins’ ancient body could break down at any moment.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 27, Indianapolis Colts 19

New York Giants (12-3) at Minnesota Vikings (9-6)

The King says:

Desperate team wins. Plus, I can’t see Tom Coughlin using knee-plagued Brandon Jacobs much, if at all, on the fake turf of the Metrodome. Smart thing here would be to make sure Jacobs has three weeks of real rehab before the Jints’ playoff opener on Jan. 10 or 11.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 19, New York Giants 12

Benji says:

In this case, the desperate team is lucky to be playing the Giants this week. New York has clinched the top seed in the playoffs and has no reason at all to play its starters. The Giants also pose a favorable match-up for the Vikings’ defense: their offense is run-oriented (Minnesota has the top run defense in the league) and does not have a reliable deep threat in the passing game (neutralizing the Vikings’ secondary problems). As much as it pains me to say it, there is no way that Minnesota will lose this game…unless Tarvaris Jackson completely implodes…

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 20, New York Giants 13

Carolina Panthers (11-4) at New Orleans Saints (8-7)

The King says:

This defies logic, because John Fox is not going to be keen on his team finishing the season in a slump, nor is he going to be pleased that the Panthers have gone all the way from a 2 seed to 5 in the span of eight days. But Sean Payton’s team has been explosive in home games this year — scoring 24, 31, 30, 34, 37, 51 and 29 points at home — and Drew Brees has an outside shot to make history, needing 402 passing yards to break Dan Marino’s all-time single-season record. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but neither did Buffalo winning in Denver and the Jets losing in Seattle. It’s football.


Prediction: New Orleans Saints 38, Carolina Panthers 35

Benji says:

I love the Panthers’ offense but their defense leaves a lot to be desired—Carolina has allowed over 20 points in five of its last six games. As His Majesty points out, New Orleans’ offense has been phenomenal at home this season, having scored 24 points or more in each of its six games at the Super Dome (one of those “home games” was in London, Your Majesty). Carolina has more to lose here, obviously, but the Saints are not going to go down quietly with quarterback Drew Brees gunning for the single season passing yards record. And does it really “defy logic” to pick New Orleans here when the home team is a perfect 11-0 in NFC South divisional games?

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 33, Carolina Panthers 30

Miami Dolphins (10-5) at New York Jets (9-6)

The King says:

Don’t ask why. I don’t know. I do know that Brett Favre, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Thomas Jones, Tony Richardson and Kerry Rhodes are going to play every play like it’s their last. Corny. Also true. I also think there’s a chance Chad Pennington might be a little too geeked up for this seminal event in his life. And I think the crowd will go from angry at the start to euphoric once it sees the Jets in control of the game — if not their destiny — midway through the second half.

Prediction: New York Jets 26, Miami Dolphins 24

Benji says:

Quarterback Chad Pennington has helped lead the Dolphins to where they are right now (one win away from a division title) by playing smart, mistake-free football. Over the last six weeks, Pennington has nine touchdown passes and only two interceptions; during that same span, Brett Favre has five touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Favre also under-threw the majority of his passes during the Jets’ 13-3 loss in Seattle last Sunday, leading to speculation that he has been playing through a shoulder injury. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on the quarterback who has taken better care of the ball and is healthy.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 23, New York Jets 16

Cleveland Browns (4-11) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4)

The King says:

Game ends at 4:01. At 4:01.01, Randy Lerner is dialing Bill Cowher’s cell number.


Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 38, Cleveland Browns 11

Benji says:

I apologize, His Majesty apparently got his pick for the Cleveland/Pittsburgh game confused with his latest Si.com Truth and Rumors post. As for the game, the Steelers’ backups are better than Cleveland’s starters at this point in the season. When you find yourself looking for a replacement for Ken Dorsey at quarterback, you know it’s been a rough year…

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Cleveland Browns 9

Oakland Raiders (4-11) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)

The King says:

Ronde Barber is mad. Derrick Brooks is mad. Monte Kiffin, who doesn’t have a mad bone in his body, is mad. The last game in the proud pro coaching history of Kiffin will not go like the past three.


Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30, Oakland Raiders 0

Benji says:

For Tampa’s sake, I hope all of this anger that His Majesty speaks of translates into some results on the field. The Buccaneers have been unable to stop the run the last few weeks, and it has cost them dearly. Oakland surely will come out rushing (the Raiders are terrible at passing the ball), so Tampa better be ready to hold down the ground game or it can kiss its slim playoff chances goodbye…

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Oakland Raiders 17

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) at Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

The King says:

In the past 10 games, Baltimore’s lost to the full-strength Giants and replay-fortunate Steelers. That’s it. The Ravens have won five road games, toyed with Philly and Washington at home, and built up the confidence of Joe Flacco for his first playoff start ever — at either the Dolphins, Jets or Pats, most likely. Flacco played only one of them this year, Miami. At Miami. And he had his highest-rated game of the year (120.2), a 27-13 win over the Fish.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 9

Benji says:

The two teams that Flacco struggled against during the past 10 games (Pittsburgh and the Giants) were able to pressure him consistently and therefore force him into making mistakes. Jacksonville’s defense struggles to rush the passer, and thus I believe it will not pose much of a problem for the Ravens’ rookie quarterback. Meanwhile, the only weakness I can think of with Baltimore’s defense is its vulnerability to deep passing plays. Rest assured, David Garrard (and his slow-footed, stone-handed receiving corps) will not be able to take advantage.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Chicago Bears (8-6) at Houston Texans (7-8)

The King says:

Tough one to pick, because you don’t know the Houston motivation, and the Bears obviously have hopes for a division title. It comes down to not trusting the Bears’ offense to win a biggie.

Prediction: Houston Texans 24, Chicago Bears 20

Benji says:

In a game between two equal teams, played under favorable weather conditions, I’ll take Chicago, simply because it has much more to gain by winning (the NFC North division title if Minnesota loses). Also, one does have to wonder about the motivation of the Houston players after they lost to the Raiders by multiple scores last week.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 23, Houston Texans 16

Seattle Seahawks (4-11) at Arizona Cardinals (8-7)

The King says:

Solving nothing. No one trusts the Cardinals to do anything but show up at the stadium for the Wild Card game.


Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 20, Seattle Seahawks 16

Benji says:

The Cardinals’ offense has disappeared and they need to find it again fast or they will be blown out of the playoffs. A solid effort here against a weak opponent could help Arizona regain some of its lost confidence. In my mind, the Cardinals have a lot to play for in this game…

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 30, Seattle Seahawks 13

Dallas Cowboys (9-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-6)

The King says:

Not sure what’s louder by game’s end — boos for Terrell Owens or chants to fire Andy Reid. Dallas has won one road game in the past 13 weeks, by the way. I’m picking the Cowboys because I don’t like the Philly offense — at all — and because I think Tony Romo’s tired of hearing what a useless player he is when the games get very big.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 24, Philadelphia Eagles 20

Benji says:

I have seen plenty of evidence of Tony Romo playing poorly in big-game situations, and while I’m not ready to write him off yet, I’m certainly not giving him the benefit of the doubt in a game like this one. The Eagles might very well be eliminated from the playoffs before this game begins, but they will still play hard against their hated division rival.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, Dallas Cowboys 24

Washington Redskins (8-7) at San Francisco 49ers (6-9)

The King says:

Job haiku for the Redskin coach:
Memo to Jim Zorn:
Don’t trust an owner till the
Calendar says “JAN”‘

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 23, Washington Redskins 17

Benji says:

Washington certainly has the more talented team, but Mike Singletary has done a great job of motivating his players and getting them to play hard against teams with playoff aspirations. The Redskins are also sure to suffer a bit of a let-down as they have already been eliminated from the playoffs and are traveling to the West Coast to play after an emotional “spoiler” win at home last week against division rival Philadelphia.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 23, Washington Redskins 17

Denver Broncos (8-7) at San Diego Chargers (7-8)

The King says:

Midway through the fourth quarter, a muscular man with sunglasses and Padres cap on sneaks into the stadium, stands in the end zone, and watches the final minute or so tick off the scoreboard, with Philip Rivers completing a two-point conversion pass to win the game. The man smiles knowingly, and sneaks out of Qualcomm while the fans blow the roof off the place. Strange. No one notices Ed Hochuli leaving.


Prediction: Denver Broncos 39, San Diego Chargers 38

Benji says:

Despite their lackluster record and inconsistent play this season, the Chargers were and still are a better team than the Broncos, and now, because of Denver’s terrible play down the stretch, they will get the chance to prove it on the field. I still do not trust either of these teams, but San Diego has the edge in talent and experience and at least has some semblance of a defense. I need to pause, however, in order to reflect upon your pick, Your Majesty: you clearly state that you expect Rivers to convert a two-point conversion to win the game, but then you pick the Broncos. Someone needs to lay off the eggnog, methinks…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 30, Denver Broncos 20

Benji and the Jets

December 22, 2008

favresackedinthesnow

Rumors of the Jets’ demise have been greatly (or at least somewhat) exaggerated.

In today’s Monday Morning Quarterback, His Majesty sums up the Jets’ recent slide as follows:

The Jets have lost four straight games — games they were favored to win.

Sorry, Your Majesty, but that statement is simply not true. The Jets defeated the Bills 31-27 last week and have therefore lost three of four games, not four straight. The Jets have played terribly over the past month, and lost a game yesterday afternoon to a 3-11 team by only managing to score three points—their recent resume certainly speaks for itself. Yet, you could not resist the opportunity to use hyperbole and false statements to try to make an already undeniable point stronger…or maybe you just need to find a proofreader? I’m unemployed and already spend half of my waking hours reading through your articles…maybe I’ll include my resume in my next post…

Update: The Royal Revisionist strikes again! His Majesty went back and edited his original error. I am to assume then that anything The King writes can be secretly revised after it is published? Thanks, internet…

Ten Things Benji Thinks He Thinks

December 17, 2008

pontificate

The King doesn’t get mad, he gets even: After I abandoned him and our weekly football picking date for a weekend with Brian, His Majesty took advantage of my absence by writing a pair of columns filled with absurd and unsubstantiated assertions. In response, I have decided to create my own version of The King’s favorite (and most nonsensical/disorganized) section of his Monday Morning Quarterback articles. Just as life imitates art, Benji imitates King…

Ten Things Benji Thinks He Thinks:

1. While His Majesty certainly has a fair argument to make about the controversial touchdown call made at the end of the Ravens/Steelers game (I agree with him that there was not “indisputable evidence” to overturn the original ruling that the ball did not break the plane of the goal-line), he concludes his analysis with a strange stance on how people connected to the league might respond to the situation:

I’m sure we’ll hear cries to abolish replay in the coming days, which is ridiculous.

Why people would respond to problems with the way the replay system is utilized by calling for its removal is beyond me. Such an idea does sound “ridiculous,” Your Majesty—as you point out in the following sentence, the reason for the controversial ruling was not a failing in the replay system but one on the part of the referee in charge of making the call. There’s no way that any logical person would complain about the accuracy of a call and then demand the removal of a system which allows a play to be reviewed so that the most accurate call possible can be made.

c. In the Fine Fifteen Section of this week’s MMQB, His Majesty makes an interesting characterization of San Diego’s offensive identity in regard to its match-up with the Buccaneers this weekend:

The Bucs have the proverbial must win coming up Sunday at home against San Diego, and they’d better wear their big-boy pads for that one because the Chargers will come in rushing.

The King must have this year’s Chargers team confused with the ‘06/’07 Chargers. Back in the day, San Diego running back LaDanian Tomlinson rushed for over 1800 yards, scored 28 rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. This season, the Chargers rank 27th in the league in rushing yards per game, and Tomlinson is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry, tying the career low mark he set back in his rookie season. Perhaps Tampa Bay should focus more on quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ effective passing offense, which ranks seventh in the league in yards per game…

10. In this week’s MMQB Tuesday Edition, His Majesty responds to the following email about Matt Cassel and his father’s recent death:

“I’m amazed at how little attention Matt Cassel’s performance in the wake of his father’s passing received on a national level. When Brett Favre had a similar performance in Oakland, albeit on Monday night, the national media went nuts, he was this great warrior, etc. Yet, today, Cassel gets a small note in the middle of a webpage. Not that Cassel’s performance needs to be the lead story for the day, but the disparity is ridiculous. Another great day in the National Favre League.”

The King’s initial argument—that the wretched state of many retired NFL players who receive little to no compensation from the league was a far-reaching and important story that belonged on the front page of his article—seems reasonable. His explanation for why Favre’s dad dying (back in December 2003) was a more important story than Cassel’s dad dying, however, is both inaccurate and insensitive. His Majesty writes, “there was some real question in coach Mike Sherman’s mind if Favre would play in the game” but suggests that there was never any doubt that Cassel would suit up last weekend. First of all, this assertion simply isn’t true: Cassel’s status for the game was most certainly in doubt, evidenced by the team not announcing him as the starter until Friday evening. Second of all, the fact that Favre had less time to deal with his father’s death before his Monday Night game against Oakland (two days as opposed to six for Cassel) does not make Cassel’s situation any less of a tragedy. I understand that Favre, in 2003, was a legendary player, adored by the media and very open with his emotions, which meant that his “triumph” in the wake of his father’s death made for a better story. There’s no way, however, that any human being is capable of recovering emotionally from the unexpected loss of a parent in less than a week. I do not particularly care about who or what His Majesty chooses to write about in his articles, but it would be nice if, at the end of the day, he recognized that the players he covers are not just fodder for his hackneyed story-lines but real people with real feelings.

King Says, Benji Says (Week 13)

November 29, 2008

kingbenjiweek13

I apologize for both the lateness of this post and the idiotic expressions on our faces during our latest photo shoot—both offenses can be directly attributed to the turkey-induced comas from which His Majesty and I recently awoke. If I can’t beat The King (last week I lost yet another pick in the standings), I might as well join him in some wholesome, face-stuffing, artery-clogging fun, right?

Last Week:

Peter King (10-6)
Benji (9-7)
Brian (12-4)

Overall (not including the Thanksgiving games):

Peter King (115-60-1)
Benji (103-72-1)
Brian (114-61-1)

San Francisco 49ers (3-8) at Buffalo Bills (6-5)

The King says:

Trent Edwards. Reviled to revived.


Prediction: Buffalo Bills 20, San Francisco 49ers 16

Benji says:

You might as well call His Majesty “Mr. A-to-Z,” because he is all about the word play. Personally, I would have preferred something a little more substantive that actually relates to the match-up at hand. I’m also not really buying the Trent Edwards “revival,” because I do not think he is that great a player and I have yet to see him come through against a team with a good defense. Fortunately for The King and the rest of the Trent Edwards fan club, the 49ers’ defense is pretty mediocre, ranking 24th in the league in sacks and 23rd in total yards allowed. Plus, now that winter has arrived, Buffalo’s home field advantage is sure to come into play—Sunday’s weather forecast calls for a game-time temperature in the low 30s with snow showers and squalls.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 23, San Francisco 49ers 12

Baltimore Ravens (7-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-9)

The King says:

Orange juice. It’s not just for breakfast anymore. Baltimore’s offense. It’s not just for nothing anymore.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 30, Cincinnati Bengals 9

Benji says:

Two word sentences that defy the need for proper punctuation. They’re not just for C-level high school English papers anymore. Double negatives. They’re not just for Eve 6 songs anymore. This game. It’s not much of a contest anymore, now that Carson Palmer needs Tommy John surgery and has been replaced at quarterback by Ryan Fitzpatrick. On the bright side, Fitzpatrick, an Ivy League grad, could probably get a job as His Majesty’s writing tutor if he decides to quit playing football.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 26, Cincinnati Bengals 13

Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Cleveland Browns (4-7)

The King says:

The wind won’t be the only thing howling off Lake Erie Sunday, and the turkey won’t be the only thing Browns fans will want on a platter. If you know what I mean.


Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 24, Cleveland Browns 6

Benji says:

It’s a good thing that His Majesty is married, because if his efforts at insinuation here are any indication, his skills for wooing the ladies must be almost as bad as mine. “Want to go check out another buffet spread? If you know what I mean…” Well, Your Majesty, I think that the Browns’ defense (now ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed, just ahead of Denver) is really struggling and the Indianapolis offense looks really good right now, which should add up to an easy win for the Colts. If you know what I mean…

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 30, Cleveland Browns 16

Carolina Panthers (8-3) at Green Bay Packers (5-6)

The King says:

The mysterious season of the Panthers continues. Though if I were John Fox this weekend, I’d insist on a heavy dose of DeAngelo Williams. Last four games for Williams: 108, 140, 120, 101 yards.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 33, Carolina Panthers 17

Benji says:

The mysterious season of the Panthers? How about the mysterious season of the Packers—two weeks ago, the defense completely flummoxed the Bears and last week it was ripped to shreds by the Saints. I solved the Carolina mystery a long time ago—the guilty party is quarterback Jake Delhomme. As he goes, the Panthers go, and if you look at the statistics, he has only faced one top-ten pass defense this season. In that game, against the Buccaneers, he threw three interceptions. Green Bay ranks sixth in the league in pass defense and I would expect an inspired effort from that squad on Sunday, as it is playing at home in a game that the Packers’ playoff hopes hinge upon.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 24, Carolina Panthers 13

Miami Dolphins (6-5) at St. Louis Rams (2-9)

The King says:

Chad Pennington is not just a complementary player anymore. He’s dangerous. Since he’s gotten the offense down pat, he’s been among the top three or four quarterbacks in football. In his last nine games, he’s had a QB rating higher than 90 in seven of them.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 40, St. Louis Rams 12

Benji says:

Pennington has performed very well this season but I still see him as a complementary player. Maybe I could be swayed by a more convincing argument, but by only using his QB rating (a dubious stat that you yourself have called into question) to substantiate your stance, Your Majesty, you are making him out to be exactly the type of role player that I think he is. If and when the Dolphins beat the Rams on Sunday, it will be because Miami’s team is better than St. Louis’s; not because Chad Pennington is an elite quarterback.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 27, St. Louis Rams 19

Denver Broncos (6-5) at New York Jets (8-3)

The King says:

Randy Cross pointed out this excellent stat to me: Of the Denver starting 24 — including punter and kicker — 18 are first-, second- or third-year players. Tough to go on the road in a very tough place with a lousy defense and a team of 25-year-olds and beat the hottest team in the AFC.

Prediction: New York Jets 37, Denver Broncos 13

Benji says:

Do not be fooled by the Jets’ defensive dominance in their game against the Titans last week. Tennessee was due to lose a game and New York’s defense, which does an excellent job of stopping the run (4th in the NFL in yards allowed per carry), matched up well against the Titans’ offense. The Jets still cannot stop the pass, ranking 26th in the league in passing yards allowed, just behind such elite passing defenses as the Saints’ and Broncos’ squads. Do not be drawn in by His Majesty’s ridiculous score line—this is a good match-up for Jay Cutler and the Broncos’ passing attack and it should be a close game.

Prediction: New York Jets 30, Denver Broncos 27

New Orleans Saints (6-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3)

The King says:

Drew Brees just dropped 51 on the Packers, but now he’ll face a real defense, with real speed. And for all of you wondering when I’m going to get my head out of my hiney and put Brees on my MVP Watch, uh, that will happen this week. It’s already happened.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29, New Orleans Saints 26

Benji says:

I know, I already learned the hard way not to bet against the home team in NFC South divisional match-ups, but all streaks were made to be broken, right? The Saints’ offense just looks unstoppable right now and, unlike His Majesty, I have some respect left for the Packers’ defense. I have very little respect for the Tampa Bay offense, which is only capable of scoring on a short field or against bad defenses. The Buccaneers’ defense should be able to contain Brees better than the Packers did, but I still think that this might turn into a shootout, a type of game that Tampa will struggle to win under any circumstance against any defense.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23

New York Giants (10-1) at Washington Redskins (7-4)

The King says:

We talked about this Tuesday with center Shaun O’Hara on Sirius NFL Radio: Who’s the MVP of the Giants? Eli Manning? Brandon Jacobs? Split five ways between the offensive line? Justin Tuck? Fred Robbins? O’Hara said the right thing: This is the best tribute to the Giants you could make — there’s a slew of valuable players.

Prediction: New York Giants 19, Washington Redskins 16

Benji says:

As a general rule, Your Majesty, a good team is comprised of a group of “valuable players” and I think that we can agree that the 2008 Giants are a really good team. How does your discussion of which of these “valuable players” is most valuable relate to your pick, though? The Redskins are 7-4, are playing at home and you predict that they will keep the game close—I want to know why! I’ll tell you what I came up with, while I was surfing the internet on my Apple iMac, drinking Formula-50 Vitamin Water and unbuttoning the top button of my Ralph Lauren striped polo shirt (note to sponsors: if I missed making any plugs for your products, leave a comment and I’ll add them in later)—the Redskins are not as good as their 7-4 record. Their defense is solid (allowing the third fewest total yards in the league) but their offense cannot score touchdowns—they have only scored 201 points on the season, two more than the 199 that they have allowed. Washington will be hard-pressed to keep up with a Giants team that can score on the ground and through the air and has already had offensive success against Baltimore and Pittsburgh (the two defenses ranked ahead of Washington in yards allowed). The Redskins are about to be exposed as the pretenders that they really are…

Prediction: New York Giants 30, Washington Redskins 16

Kansas City Chiefs (1-10) at Oakland Raiders (3-8)

The King says:

What a weird game the Raiders had last Sunday, putting up 31 with the quarterback throwing it 11 times. But that’s a good series of play-calls from the coach — knowing his quarterback is still very much a work in progress and also knowing he can get great traction against a light-in-the-pants Denver defensive front.

Prediction: Oakland Raiders 31, Kansas City Chiefs 19

Benji says:

The Chiefs’ defensive front is certainly not much of an upgrade over the Broncos, as it is on pace to shatter the record for fewest sacks in a season, and the Kansas City defense as a whole has allowed the most yards per game in the league. That being said, the Oakland passing game is terrible and its running game is inconsistent. On the other hand, I really like the direction that Kansas City’s offense is going in: Tyler Thigpen has emerged has a promising young quarterback, Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez are great options for him to throw to and Larry Johnson is rounding back into form at running back. I do not trust the Raiders to put forth two consecutive solid efforts on offense, and I know that Kansas City will put points on the board. Also, is Oakland good enough to sweep a season series with any team in the league, even one that has only won one game?

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 33, Oakland Raiders 16

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) at New England Patriots (7-4)

The King says:

In the last four weeks, Matt Cassel has outpassed Ben Roethlisberger by 93 yards a game. You know why I think he outplays Roethlisberger in Foxboro on Sunday? Because there’s no part of the playbook Josh McDaniels doesn’t trust him with now. With the leash off, I say Cassel will have enough gumption to lead four scoring drives.

Prediction: New England Patriots 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 16

Benji says:

We are in agreement on one thing here, Your Majesty—Matt Cassel has really come into his own over the last few games. The Steelers’ defense is really good (tops in the league in both points and yards allowed) but is it good enough to slow down New England’s methodical passing game on the road? I would never have dreamed of writing that last sentence three weeks ago, but at this point I think that the Patriots are in good position to beat the Steelers at home in a game that they need to win more than their opponent does.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 20

Atlanta Falcons (7-4) at San Diego Chargers (4-7)

The King says:

Here’s the scariest note of all, if Denver loses at the Jets and the Chargers win this one: San Diego would be 5-7, Denver 6-6, setting up the legitimate chance that the AFC West could be won with a 7-9 record. Imagine San Diego hosting Denver in Week 17, with the Chargers 6-9 and Broncos 7-8. Chargers win. Let’s go to the tiebreakers. They’d have split the season series. Now we go to division record. As of this morning, San Diego’s 2-1 and Denver 2-2. The Chargers have Oakland at home and Kansas City on the road before Denver in the last game. Denver has Kansas City at home. If you ask me, the AFC West will be won with a 7-9 record.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 23, Atlanta Falcons 21

Benji says:

The scenario that His Majesty describes, a team with a losing record making the playoffs looks quite plausible at this point. The Broncos have lost games by multiple scores to the Raiders and the Chiefs, two teams that a real playoff contender would defeat rather easily; the Chargers have beaten all of the bad teams (they do not have a loss to a team with a losing record) and have played two likely playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Indianapolis) close over the past two weeks. Denver has one of the worst defenses in the league and no running game to speak of; San Diego has LaDanian Tomlinson, who although declining is still far better than any runner on the Broncos, and a defense that, while not spectacular, can make some stops. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Chargers are a better team than the Broncos, whose only saving grace is their excellent passing game, and if San Diego wins this game, it will be in good position to make a late run at the division title. Let’s give the desperation formula one more try: the Chargers are a talented team, playing at home in a game that they need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 30, Atlanta Falcons 22

Chicago Bears (6-5) at Minnesota Vikings (6-5)

The King says:

Big day for Adrian Peterson, and it had better be one. He’s going to be tough to catch and trap on the carpet of the Metrodome.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 20, Chicago Bears 13

Benji says:

How quickly you forget the last meeting between these two teams, Your Majesty, a 48-41 shootout. Chicago won that game and should be favored to win this one as well, based on the match-up. Both the Vikings and the Bears have phenomenal run defenses, ranking second and third in the league, respectively, in yards allowed per carry, but also struggle to defend the pass consistently, posting average passing yardage numbers that rank them 22nd and 30th in the NFL. The team that gets better quarterback play will win this game, and while Gus Frerotte is 6-3 as the starter for the Vikings, he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in those nine games (12 to 11), including four picks in the aforementioned loss to Chicago earlier in the season; meanwhile, Kyle Orton has thrown only four interceptions during that span, compared to 11 touchdown passes (the same number as Frerotte). At some point, Frerotte’s inability to take care of the ball will derail Minnesota’s playoff hopes and I believe that it will happen this week, in a game between heated division rivals that both teams need to win.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 33, Minnesota Vikings 26

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) at Houston Texans (4-7)

The King says:

I have a feeling the Jaguars players are about to turn the station on Jack Del Rio. If they respond the rest of the season and the Jags win two or three games, I think he survives. If not, even a trusting owner like Wayne Weaver might have seen enough.

Prediction: Houston Texans 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 17

Benji says:

Both His Majesty and I had high hopes for the Jaguars this year (predicting them to reach the AFC Championship Game) as I am sure the Jacksonville organization and fan base did as well. As they say, though, the best laid plans of goobers and doofuses often go awry. The Jaguars’ success last year was predicated on them running the ball effectively and controlling the clock; this year, due to injuries on the offensive line and Fred Taylor’s decline, their running game has been a shadow of its former self. The Texans struggle to stop opposing runners (allowing 4.5 yards per carry) but their offense has played well as of late and if they get a lead, the Jaguars and their anemic passing game will have a difficult time forging a comeback.

Prediction: Houston Texans 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 17

King Says, Benji Says (Week 12)

November 21, 2008

notyinginfootball

There’s no tying in football…oh, wait, yes there is! My picking match-up with His Majesty went the distance last week (a full 16 games!) but neither of us came away with anything to show for it. There’s still time left in the season for me to catch The King, but the weeks are starting to pile up. It’s time for me to make a move before it’s too late…

Last Week:

Peter King (10-5-1)
Benji (10-5-1)
Brian (10-5-1)

Overall (not including the Thursday game):

Peter King (105-54-1)
Benji (94-65-1)
Brian (102-57-1)

Carolina Panthers (8-2) at Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

The King says:

I’m not saying the Atlanta corners are Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders, but apparently these days against Jake Delhomme, they don’t have to be. No player needs a get-well game more than Delhomme.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 24, Carolina Panthers 13

Benji says:

Last week I tried to buck the trend of the home team winning in NFC South divisional games and I came away empty. I will not make that mistake again this week. His Majesty is also correct to point out the recent struggles of Jake Delhomme. The Panthers’ defense is solid (ranked fifth in the league in both passing yards and total yards allowed) but it is not good enough to win games without some sort of support from the passing game. They cannot expect to have two 100-yard rushers every week. The Falcons were a dropped touchdown by Roddy White away from beating the Broncos last week and I expect them to bounce back on Sunday in a game they need to win much more than their opponent does.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 27, Carolina Panthers 17

Houston Texans (3-7) at Cleveland Browns (4-6)

The King says:

Brady Quinn will play with a break at the tip of his index finger; Tony Romo couldn’t play with a break at the tip of his pinkie finger. Come to think of it, maybe Romo was the smart one here.

Prediction: Houston Texans 23, Cleveland Browns 21

Benji says:

Cleveland received a gift-wrapped win from the freefalling Bills on Monday night, but this match-up promises to be much tougher. Brady Quinn is sure to struggle throwing the ball with his injured finger (he became less accurate as the game went on against Buffalo) and it’s hard to imagine the Browns’ porous run defense (ranked 26th in the league in yards per carry) having an answer for Houston running back Steve Slaton, who rushed for 156 yards on 14 carries against the Colts last week.

Prediction: Houston Texans 27, Cleveland Browns 16

San Francisco 49ers (3-7) at Dallas Cowboys (6-4)

The King says:

I see where Shaun Hill was awarded the NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award for his role in the 49ers’ victory over the St. Louis JV team. Who voted? Hill’s aunt and uncle?

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 27, San Francisco 49ers 9

Benji says:

The Cowboys look to be back on track now that Tony Romo is back. They will not take the 49ers lightly (they cannot afford to at 6-4) but they should win pretty easily. Dallas just has too many offensive weapons for San Francisco to contain.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, San Francisco 49ers 17

Oakland Raiders (2-8) at Denver Broncos (6-4)

The King says:

I’ve had this Jay Cutler feature story for SI sitting in my computer so long that when I first did it I went to see a Rockies game while in Denver. With games like this one, I’m hoping Cutler helps me resuscitate my story.


Prediction: Denver Broncos 37, Oakland Raiders 15

Benji says:

Pardon me, Your Majesty, I was unaware that beating up on the hapless Raiders makes a player worthy of a feature story. You must really be struggling for material…

Prediction: Denver Broncos 37, Oakland Raiders 15

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) at Detroit Lions (0-10)

The King says:

I hear all the nice, respectful words the Bucs are saying about the toothless Leos. But this is a horrendous matchup for a plodding Detroit offense led by plumpish Daunte Culpepper. The running back, Kevin Smith, isn’t fast either. Tampa’s defense quasi-smothered Adrian Peterson last week and it will be uglier for the Lions.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23, Detroit Lions 10

Benji says:

Tampa Bay certainly has a team that is far superior to Detroit’s, but the “toothless Leos” are not going to coast their way to a winless season. Professional football players have more pride than that. The Buccaneers are right not to take them lightly…

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Detroit Lions 16

New York Jets (7-3) at Tennessee Titans (10-0)

The King says:

My daughter Mary Beth has caught me in the Peter King Challenge, and she picks teams based on uniform color. So now I’ve got to stop fooling around. I’m not picking against Jeff Fisher until at least 2014.


Prediction: Tennessee Titans 31, New York Jets 20

Benji says:

The Titans are due to lose a game, but it’s not going to happen this week. The Jets will likely suffer a bit of a letdown after their big overtime win in New England last Thursday, and nothing short of a team’s best offensive effort will be enough to beat Tennessee, which is allowing the fewest points in the league (13.1) and has forced the second highest number of interceptions (15).

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 20, New York Jets 10

Buffalo Bills (5-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-9)

The King says:

I really feel for Trent Edwards. He’s going to be a good player and he’s just at the nadir of his confidence and accuracy right now. Playing in a place where you can’t hear a darn thing won’t help.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 20, Buffalo Bills 13

Benji says:

Trent Edwards is a mess right now—his pocket presence is terrible, he shies away from taking hits and short-arms throws, has struggled to throw accurately when he gets good protection and is making horrible decisions. The young quarterback for the Chiefs, Tyler Thigpen, on the other hand, has improved considerably over the course of the season and looks like a viable NFL starter.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 27, Buffalo Bills 17

Chicago Bears (5-5) at St. Louis Rams (2-8)

The King says:

I had a defensive assistant tell me the other day that his team put on video of the Rams’ first defensive series against the Jets to show their players how not to hustle and swarm to the ball. The level of effort, this coach told me, was terrible.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 33, St. Louis Rams 10

Benji says:

No fair, Your Majesty, you received inside information! I was going to pick the Rams this week until you…just kidding, I don’t need an unnamed source to help me figure out that the St. Louis defense is terrible. I have two eyes and a brain.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 27, St. Louis Rams 17

New England Patriots (6-4) at Miami Dolphins (6-4)

The King says:

It’s not nice to embarrass Bill Belichick. He plays a team Sunday that rubbed his nose in the dirt at home with trick plays he should have been able to handle at Wesleyan, and he walks into a place with one of his football godfathers, Bill Parcells, watching down on him from a suite. You don’t often see Belichick under pressure, embarrassed.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Miami Dolphins 23

Benji says:

The Patriots are a very resilient bunch. They are 3-0 after losses this season, with each victory coming by a margin of nine points or more. They also are looking for revenge after the Dolphins embarrassed them in the two teams’ last meeting. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have barely escaped with wins against mediocre teams (Seattle and Oakland) the past two weeks.

Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Miami Dolphins 17

Minnesota Vikings (5-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6)

The King says:

Assuming the Vikings will lose the best defensive tackle tandem in football — Kevin and Pat Williams — for a month after this game, you would think that since they’re playing for their very playoff existence, they would show up and play better in this game. I just don’t think they are good enough to do that.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 17, Minnesota Vikings 10

Benji says:

The Vikings might not be good enough to beat a team with a good passing game on the road, but this is the Jacksonville Jaguars we are talking about here. Jacksonville can only win if it controls the ball in the running game and Minnesota’s run defense is ranked second in the league in yards per carry (3.1). It’s just a terrible match-up for Jacksonville and one it cannot win unless Minnesota quarterback Gus Frerotte implodes and Maurice Jones-Drew returns a kick for a touchdown.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) at Baltimore Ravens (6-4)

The King says:

Andy Reid calls over Donovan McNabb just before kickoff and says, “Just wanted to alert you – we’re playing four quarters today. Sixty minutes. I’m going to do everything in my power to not get us into overtime because I don’t want you to be mentally taxed with such a difficult concept.”

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 22, Philadelphia Eagles 20

Benji says:

Here we go, I was wondering how long it would take for His Majesty to make a joke about Donovan McNabb’s intelligence in the aftermath of the Eagles’ tie last week with the Bengals. I am not ready to give up on the Eagles yet. Every quarterback goes through bad stretches and McNabb is a much better player than he was last Sunday. I have much more confidence in him rebounding with a good game against the Ravens than I do in Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco coming through against the Eagles’ defense, which is sure to be blitz-heavy after his struggles against the Giants’ pressure-based defense last week.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, Baltimore Ravens 16

New York Giants (9-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-3)

The King says:

If I thought Kurt Warner could be the Kurt Warner of the last months in this one, I’d certainly pick the Cards. But this is not Seattle’s pass rush. It is not San Francisco’s. It’s not St. Louis’. The Giants front seven is going to pressure Warner into making 2-3 throws he wishes he hadn’t and that will be the difference.

Prediction: New York Giants 29, Arizona Cardinals 26

Benji says:

Maybe Kurt Warner and the Cardinals are headed for a fall but I just do not see it. A team with that many skilled receivers and a talented quarterback with a quick release that can get them the ball cannot be stifled by pressure alone. The Giants’ offense will have to score a lot of points to keep up. New York is certainly capable of doing so, and this should be a fun game to watch…

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 30, New York Giants 27

Washington Redskins (6-4) at Seattle Seahawks (2-8)

The King says:

Is it my imagination, or do the Redskins play in Seattle every three or four weeks?

Prediction: Washington Redskins 23, Seattle Seahawks 18

Benji says:

Matt Hasselbeck looked really rusty against the Cardinals last week. Maybe after a game under his belt, he will be more effective this week? I wouldn’t count on it, because Washington’s defense is better than Arizona’s.

Prediction: Washington Redskins 20, Seattle Seahawks 13

Indianapolis Colts (6-4) at San Diego Chargers (4-6)

The King says:

There must be something about the airport in San Diego. Or the air. Since Week 2, San Diego is 0-5 on the road and 4-0 at home. In Week 3 in San Diego, Brett Favre played like he acted in “There’s Something About Mary” which was really not at an Oscar level. Ditto Matt Cassel in Week 6. I don’t know, maybe Peyton Manning will play great out there but home has been a pretty sweet home for the Chargers in the past couple months.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 31, Indianapolis Colts 20

Benji says:

I know, I know, the “desperation formula” technically failed twice last week, but I think that I was too liberal in my assignments of “talented teams.” Upon further review, Buffalo should never have qualified for such a distinction. I am going to give the formula one more spin and see what happens: The Chargers are a talented team, playing at home in a must-win game.

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 30, Indianapolis Colts 20

Green Bay Packers (5-5) at New Orleans Saints (5-5)

The King says:

The Saints, who last played at home when Danny Abromowitz suited up, are now in danger of having Drew Brees break one of the sports most respected records — Dan Marino’s 5,084 passing yards in a season — in some meaningless games. Going 5-6 with suspensions looming is not a good sign in a division with three teams better than you.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 36, New Orleans Saints 27

Benji says:

I’ve got to go with my preseason pick for the NFC’s Super Bowl entrant here, the Green Bay Packers. New Orleans cannot play defense at all (ranked 24th in the league in yards allowed) and despite the tremendous statistical season that Drew Brees is having, it has struggled to find week-to-week consistency in terms of scoring points. Green Bay looked very impressive last week against the Bears and nearly beat the undefeated Titans three weeks ago. Its pass defense has allowed the second fewest passing yards per game and has forced the most interceptions (16) in the league.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 30, New Orleans Saints 20

King Says, Benji Says (Week 12 Empty Throne Edition)

November 20, 2008

benjistoodup

Okay, it’s official—His Majesty stood me up. I feel like Lloyd Christmas right now. I’ve been eagerly awaiting his arrival since Wednesday afternoon and as of 1:40 P.M. (EDT) on Thursday, I’m still left sitting next to an empty throne. He must have found a better date—maybe his mom offered to take him out to an all-you-can-eat buffet? Anyway, lucky for me, he left his picks outline on his throne before he took off so I should be able to piece together his prediction…

Cincinnati Bengals (1-8-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)

The King’s Outline says:

Waste a sentence or two reflecting on the Bengals/Eagles 13-13 tie last Sunday. Be sure to include a comical comment about Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis’s reaction to the outcome. Probably include a useless comment about #85 with the sole purpose of calling him by his former name (Chad Johnson) instead of his new legal name (Chad Ocho Cinco). Most importantly, do not include any actual analysis of this match-up between the Steelers and Bengals. Try not even to mention the Steelers if it can be helped.


Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 25, Cincinnati Bengals 5

Benji says:

There’s not a whole lot that the Bengals can take away from their tie with the Eagles. Donovan McNabb played probably the worst game of his career and Cincinnati was completely unable to capitalize. McNabb completed less than 50 percent of his passes while turning the ball over four times and the Bengals were still only able to score 13 points in five quarters of football. And it’s not even as though the Bengals’ defense played particularly well. I witnessed two different occasions when McNabb missed Westbrook when he was wide open and had no defenders in front of him. Cincinnati has scored the second fewest points in the league this season (13.8, ahead of only Oakland) and Pittsburgh has surrendered the second fewest (15, behind only Tennessee). The Bengals’ offense is no match for the Pittsburgh defense—the only way that Cincinnati could win this game would be if Roethlisberger completely imploded. But would that even be enough? Last week, the other team’s franchise quarterback played as poorly as he possibly could and the Bengals still couldn’t muster a win.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Cincinnati Bengals 9

I’ll be back with the rest of my picks tomorrow…hopefully His Majesty will decide to join me this time…

King Says, Benji Says (Week 11)

November 14, 2008

picture-4

So far, I have not offered my voters change that they can believe in, but the NFL season is still young. With nearly half of the regular season remaining, I have plenty of time to make up ground on His Majesty. So what if I cannot win consistently at home…I’m ready to pull a page out of the New York Giants’ playbook and pick up a win on the road during my trip to Virginia.

Last Week:

Peter King (10-4)
Benji (9-5)
Brian (11-3)

Overall (not including the Thursday game):

Peter King (95-49)
Benji (84-60)
Brian (92-52)

Denver Broncos (5-4) at Atlanta Falcons (6-3)

The King says:

I know, I know. The Falcons are hotter than hot, and Denver can’t play defense. I just have a feeling about this one. Jay Cutler just threw for more yards in a game than John Elway ever did. Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall on turf — heck, even Tatum Bell on turf — will present the Falcons more problems that they can solve. I’d be pretty boring if I picked the chalk every week.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 33, Atlanta Falcons 28

Benji says:

While Cutler did throw for more yards than Elway ever did last week, his defense is allowing more points and yards than any Denver defensive unit during the Elway era. The Broncos are especially susceptible to the run (allowing 5.1 yards per rushing attempt) and consequently the play action pass, which is exactly what the Atlanta offense excels at. Once you factor in that the Falcons are the home team, this match-up seems to heavily favor Atlanta.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 30, Denver Broncos 20

Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-8)

The King says:

Sure, let’s fire Andy Reid. That’s a smart idea. Let’s dump a coach averaging 10.5 wins a year, who has piloted the Eagles to more wins than any other NFC team in the past 10 years, because he’s made the playoffs six times in nine previous years but hasn’t won a Super Bowl, and because he lost to the best team in football by five at home. That’s the ticket. That’s what you want to do with your franchise. Let’s let WIP run the team and pick the next coach.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, Cincinnati Bengals 17

Benji says:

Who said anything about Andy Reid’s job security? I want to know why you picked the Eagles to win this game, Your Majesty. I am picking them because the Bengals are a weak team and Philadelphia thrives against weak teams. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 34, Cincinnati Bengals 13

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

The King says:

The Bears need Kyle Orton to return, and he’ll try. Regardless, this is Matt Forte’s game. Green Bay’s playing the run like Peter King and Dr. Z are the starting defensive tackles.

Prediction: Chicago Bears 23, Green Bay Packers 17

Benji says:

I’m throwing all statistical match-ups out the window and going to the desperation formula here: The Packers are a talented team, playing at home, in a must-win situation.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 27, Chicago Bears 17

Houston Texans (3-6) at Indianapolis Colts (5-4)

The King says:

Don’t fire Gary Kubiak. He deserves one more year. Maybe he needs to tweak his staff a bit, but you can’t give a good man with burgeoning talent two and a half years and decide he’s not the man for the job — unless there’s something lacking in his approach or his skill-set as a coach. Plus he hasn’t lost the team.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 25, Houston Texans 20

Benji says:

In Sage we no longer trust–I’ve officially given up on the turnover-prone Rosenfels. Quarterback play, whether it be Schaub’s inability to make good reads against pressure defenses or Rosenfel’s recent interception streak, is holding the Texans back from being a winning team. The Colts have healed up and are beginning to click just in time to make a run at a wildcard spot.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 27, Houston Texans 20

New Orleans Saints (4-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-8)

The King says:

Unlike the Bucs — who had no respect for the Chiefs — the Saints will enter Arrowhead Stadium with a fear of losing and falling out of what limited playoff contention they’re in. And shazam! Jeremy Shockey will score a touchdown! And Drew Brees will shake his hand! Peace and harmony on the Bayou for a few minutes!

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 30, Kansas City Chiefs 13

Benji says:

The Saints need to win this game, but they better be on their toes. The Chiefs have looked pretty good the last few weeks and quarterback Tyler Thigpen is looking more and more like a viable NFL starter. The New Orleans offense needs to show some more week-to-week consistency if the team has any shot at making the playoffs…

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 30, Kansas City Chiefs 27

Oakland Raiders (2-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-4)

The King says:

Repeat after me: On Sunday night, the Miami Dolphins will be 6-4, tied for an AFC Wild Card spot. On the other side, I don’t care if Lane Kiffin, Greg Knapp, Tom Cable, Larry the Cable Guy or Tom Flores calls the plays for the lowest-scoring team in football. It won’t help.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 37, Oakland Raiders 10

Benji says:

Jake Delhomme had quite possibly the worst performance by a starting quarterback this season (7 of 27 for 72 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions) in last week’s game against the Raiders, and Oakland had absolutely no chance of winning the game. That’s all you need to know about the state of the Raiders’ offense at the moment…

Prediction: Miami Dolphins 27, Oakland Raiders 9

Baltimore Ravens (6-3) at New York Giants (8-1)

The King says:

How do you not love Joe Flacco nine games into his career? He’s on a mistake-free, four-game winning streak (six touchdowns, no interceptions, 107.5 rating in the past month). This is the game, 68 miles north of his Jersey hometown, that humbles him. Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo sends the kitchen sink at Flacco — plus quite a few utensils, plates, pots and pans — and pressures him into two turnovers. The Giants will need those to beat this defense.

Prediction: New York Giants 19, Baltimore Ravens 16

Benji says:

Both defenses are really good (Baltimore has allowed the second fewest yards in the league while the Giants rank third in that category) and both offenses have played very well over the past month. Unlike His Majesty, however, I am still not completely sold on Joe Flacco. He has five touchdowns and zero turnovers over the past three weeks, but his success over that time has come against three weak defenses (Oakland, Cleveland and Houston). I will have to see him succeed against an elite defense before I start taking him seriously.

Prediction: New York Giants 23, Baltimore Ravens 13

Minnesota Vikings (5-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)

The King says:

Very underrated fun game of the weekend. Adrian Peterson gets to run against the Bucs’ speed defense for the first time in his life, but the game will be won, I believe, by the Tampa pass-rush tormenting a slow-on-the-draw Gus Frerotte.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24, Minnesota Vikings 23

Benji says:

Minnesota quarterback Gus Frerotte has thrown eight interceptions in the last three games. The Vikings cannot continue to win with “Gunslinger Gus” throwing the ball up for grabs on nearly every drive. I do not like their chances on the road against a good Tampa defense (which has forced 12 interceptions already this season) that will almost certainly take advantage of every Frerotte miscue.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Minnesota Vikings 10

Detroit Lions (0-9) at Carolina Panthers (7-2)

The King says:

Jake Delhomme is so embarrassed by the worst game of his career (7-for-27 at Oakland, with four interceptions) that he hits Steve Smith on a 78-yard go-route on the first play from scrimmage. Detroit is left to ponder who it might beat in the final six weeks. Current record of final six Lions foes: 32-22 — and none is worse than a game under .500.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 23, Detroit Lions 9

Benji says:

Delhomme better play better in this game than he did last time out. A team like the Lions that is hungry for a victory will not lie down like the Raiders did last week. If the Panthers can take care of the ball, however, their defense should be able to hold down the Detroit offense.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 20, Detroit Lions 17

Tennessee Titans (9-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)

The King says:

Week 11, 2003: Chiefs, 9-0, fresh off the SI cover, travel to up-and-down Cincinnati. The Bengals, destined for an 8-8 finish, stun Chiefs 24-19. Week 11, 2008: Titans, 9-0, a week removed from SI cover, travel to up-and-down Jacksonville. The Jags, destined for an 8-8 finish, stun Titans 24-19.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 24, Tennessee Titans 19

Benji says:

I agree with your pick, Your Majesty, if not your reasoning. Let’s give that desperation formula one more spin, shall we? The Jaguars are a talented team (I picked them to make it to the AFC Championship Game) playing at home in a game that they desperately need to win.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 24, Tennessee Titans 19

San Diego Chargers (4-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)

The King says:

They don’t come much more must-winnish in Week 11 than this one for Pittsburgh, which must stop the bleeding and restore a little bit of Ben Roethlisberger’s confidence after a horrific game against Indy. On the flip side, I predict there will be steam coming out of Charger GM A.J. Smith’s ears after the game — and that does not bode well for the January job prospects of one Norval Turner.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, San Diego Chargers 16

Benji says:

Your Majesty, do you truly believe that the Steelers are in a more desperate situation than the Chargers are right now? If Pittsburgh loses, at 6-4 it is still in good shape to grab a wildcard berth and/or compete for the division title with Baltimore; if the Chargers lose, then their season is pretty much over. Ben Roethlisberger needs to take better care of the ball than he has over the last few weeks because the Chargers, if nothing else, can score some points through the air if given the opportunity. It should be a close game, but I think that San Diego’s playoff chances survive to see another week…

Prediction: San Diego Chargers 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20

St. Louis Rams (2-7) at San Francisco 49ers (2-7)

The King says:

I’m reminded of a “Chicago” song of my youth: Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 23, St. Louis Rams 10

Benji says:

In a battle of the NFC West bottom feeders, I will take the ‘9ers because they showed a tremendous amount of effort and resilience in their Monday Night game with the Cardinals and came up one yard short of a victory, while the Rams were shellacked by the Jets.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 27, St. Louis Rams 20

Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at Seattle Seahawks (2-7)

The King says:

The cavalry rides in for Seattle. The cavalry is bald. See if you can figure that one out.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 22, Arizona Cardinals 20

Benji says:

Matt Hasselbeck’s return to the Seahawks will not be enough to lead them to a win over the division leading Cardinals and quarterback Kurt Warner. Seattle’s defensive backs are no match for Arizona’s talented receivers, and its front seven has struggled to pressure the passer this season. Even if Arizona plays an average game, Seattle’s defense will be unable to stop it from scoring.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 30, Seattle Seahawks 20

Dallas Cowboys (5-4) at Washington Redskins (6-3)

The King says:

King drinks Tony Romo Kool Aid. Totally buys into Cowboys getting fixed by return of fearless leader. Ignores one of leakiest offensive lines in football. Will get comeuppance Sunday at midnight.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, Washington Redskins 23

Benji says:

Benji also drinks Tony Romo Kool Aid…partly because Benji does not drink the Washington Redskins Kool Aid. Washington is a weak 6-3, only scoring 0.3 points more than it has allowed (19 to 18.7). With Romo back in the fold, the Cowboys’ offense should start scoring points again like it has for the past couple seasons. I doubt that the Redskins’ offense, which, again, is averaging fewer than 20 points a game, will be able to keep up.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30, Washington Redskins 19

Cleveland Browns (3-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-4)

The King says:

First game in NFL history played with protective netting around both quarterbacks. You know why? Because the offensive coordinators in this game, Rob Chudzinski and Turk Schonert, are smarter than we are.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 20, Cleveland Browns 18

Benji says:

While I have not been overly impressed with Trent Edwards the past few weeks (his lack of pocket mobility and unwillingness to take a hit while delivering the ball were very troubling in last week’s game against Denver), I suppose that with Buffalo at 5-4, this game qualifies for my desperation factor formula as well. Buffalo is a talented team, playing at home in a game that it needs to win if it wants to have any shot at winning the division or earning a wild card berth.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills 23, Cleveland Browns 20