Patriots Pickem Week 9

By Chris Ransom

I always start with a recap of what happened heading into week 8 before I jump into my week 9 picks.  I was 64-39 heading into week 8.  During Week 8 on Halloween weekend there were tricks and treats when it came to my predictions.

The treats of my correct picks included the Steelers over the Patriots 28 to 27, the Vikings over the Panthers 28 to 20, and the Bengals over the Seahawks 17 to 14 in overtime.  The tricks included me picking Tebow over Detroit along with missing the final 3 week 8 picks as I had the Browns over the 49ers 17 to 16, the Cowboys over the Eagles 14 to 13, and the Chargers over the Chiefs 20 to 17.  I was right about the Chargers scoring 20.  I was wrong about them winning in week 8.

I was 7-3 heading into my final 3 picks, but ended Halloween on a 3 game cold streak as I ended week 8 7-6.  Most consider week 8 to be a winning week because I aced picks that most betting sites flopped on like the New England VS Pittsburgh game.  I don’t see week 8 as a winning week because I ended on a low note and I got less picks right than Cris Carter who thought Calvin Johnson wasn’t an elite receiver to start the year.  When Cris Carter is doing better than you your doing something wrong.  Carter went 8-5 with his weekly picks on ESPN.

Through 8 weeks I am 71-45 on the year.  I still trail everyone on the Sunday NFL Countdown crew, but I am catching up folks.  I’m only 6 games behind Mike Ditka who has gone 77-39 making picks in 2011 on NFL Countdown.  Ditka’s lucky stache is the only reason why he has 6 more picks than me at this point in 2011.

New York Jets 4-3 VS Buffalo Bills 5-2 -2

Teams coming off of bye weeks have a tendency to lose.  A majority of people picked New England over Pittsburgh and the Patriots failed to win last week.  I pointed out that Brady was 7-0 coming off of a bye week since 2003 and that trends come to an end.

Add the fact that the Bills are 2nd in pass blocking for fewest sacks allowed in addition to 6th in run blocking is going to make people lean towards Buffalo.  To top things off the Bills are at home.  Which makes you wonder why I would consider picking against the Bills.  The Bills are 4-0 at home in 2011 while the Jets are 0-3 on the road in 2011 which will make them the trendy selection.

The Jets probably spent the Bye week working on blitz schemes.  If the Jets blitz well then they can create turnovers with Revis and Cromartie at cornerback.  The Bills have no outside linebacker who pass rushes well plus the Jets have a top 5 left tackle in Debrickishaw Ferguson so Mark Sanchez will enough time to make the proper progressions.  I like the Jets 28 to 24 in a offensive slugfest.  The

The Jets are the hottest team in the AFC East with 2 straight wins.  Fans and gamblers will dismiss them in week 9 for a lot of the reasons I mentioned in my first paragraph.

Final Score Jets 28 Bills 24 Jets cover causing the Bills and Jets to both be 5-3 in the AFC East Standings.

Seattle Seahawks 2-5 VS Dallas Cowboys 3-4 -12

Why are the Cowboys 12 point favorites?  Did Bodog forget to watch the Cowboys Sunday night game against the Eagles?  Dallas will win this game.  I cannot see them winning by double digits given the way they played in 2011.  Dallas should win, but Seattle should cover since they ended up defeating the Giants on the road.

Final Score Cowboys 17 Seahawks 10

Cleveland Browns 3-4 VS Houston Texans 5-3 -10

Houston will win this game defensively.  I think the score will be much closer than meets the eye.  With Mario Williams out and Joe Thomas in at left tackle I see Colt McCoy having some success against the Texans pass defense.  McCoy’s passing touchdowns should be equal to the number of picks he throws.

Final Score Texans 17 Browns 14

Atlanta Falcons 4-3 -8 VS Indianapolis Colts 0-8

The Atlanta Falcons are a weird team.  They play like a top 10 team in domes and play like a bottom 10 team outdoors.  The Falcons are playing Lucas Oil Stadium so expect them to get the victory moving up to 5-3.

Final Score Falcons 20 Colts 7

Miami Dolphins 0-7 VS Kansas City Chiefs 4-3 -14

Jonathan Baldwin began to emerge in the Chiefs game.  Brandon Flowers has been lights out at cornerback plus Tamba Hali has been good with pass rushing and run stuffing.  The Chiefs are at home.  Their only home loss came to the Buffalo Bills when Matt Cassel had bruised ribs back in week 1.  I looked really silly a month ago for picking the Chiefs to go 7-9 in my season preview.  That pick doesn’t look too shabby now.  In fact KC may exceed my expectations by reaching the playoffs again.

Final Score Chiefs 24 Dolphins 13 Chiefs win, Dolphins barely cover 14 point spread.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-3 VS New Orleans Saints 5-3 -9

Both Josh Freeman and Drew Brees have 10 picks for the year.  Blount will be back this week for Tampa Bay plus Tampa Bay ranks 4th in the NFL in pass blocking.  Freeman is 1-0 in domes in 2011 and 4-1 in domes in his career at quarterback. The Saints are 9 point favorites and something tells me Tampa Bay used their bye week wisely.

Final Score Buccaneers 20 Saints 19

San Francisco 49ers 6-1 -4 VS Washington Redskins 3-4

The Redskins have the run defense to keep Frank Gore in check.  The 49ers have the top ranked run defense and I don’t trust either quarterback so I will go with another low scoring game.  Alex Smith and John Beck two quarterbacks that played for rival schools in Utah and BYU clash.  I trust Alex Smith more than I trust Beck.

Final Score 49ers 17 Redskins 16

Denver Broncos 2-5 VS Oakland Raiders 4-3 No Line

I get the feeling that Tebow has a breakout game.  Oakland destroyed Denver last year.  I am no mindreader, but I get this very strange feeling that Moses wants Tebow to drop mind boggling fantasy numbers on Oakland’s defense this Sunday.  I’ll take Denver.

Final Score Broncos 35 Raiders 27

Cincinnati Bengals 5-2 VS Tennessee Titans 4-3 -3

Both of these teams have top 5 pass blocking units.  Both teams have top 10 ability in run defense and pass defense.  I trust Hasselbeck more than Dalton and that will be the difference Sunday.

Final Score Titans 31 Bengals 17

St. Louis Rams 1-6 -3 VS Arizona Cardinals 1-6

Sam Bradford may return along with the possibility that Kevin Kolb could be out.

Final Score Rams 14 Cardinals 3

New York Giants 5-2 VS New England Patriots 5-2 -4

The Giants offensive line is back at full health.  So is New England’s defense though because Mayo will start.  Eli Manning could keep it close if he shows up.  I still like Brady though coming off a brutal loss to Pittsburgh.

Final Score Patriots 27 Giants 21

Green Bay Packers 7-0 -7 VS San Diego Chargers 4-3

On the Dan Patrick Show Podcast yesterday they joked about how the Chargers would beat Green Bay.

I get the feeling that Green Bay could get careless coming off the bye week.  Green Bay’s offensive line isn’t as effective without Chad Clifton.  The Chargers pass rush should get some pressure on Aaron Rodgers with a banged up offensive line and the Chargers have a top 5 pass defense.  I realize this is the 4th week in a row I’ve picked against Green Bay.  I was nearly right when they played the Vikings so 4th time may finally be the charm.

I was the only person who expected Ponder to play well leading Minnesota to a potential upset.

Rivers is coming off a loss and all the bandwagon fans are ready to write off Rivers before jumping back on the bandwagon.

San Diego has the ability to pick apart Green Bay’s secondary when their receivers are at full health.

Final Score Chargers 35 Packers 27

Baltimore Ravens 5-2 VS Pittsburgh Steelers 6-2 -4

Some bandwagon fans are jumping on the Black and Gold bandwagon after Pittsburgh’s win over New England.  I wasn’t that surprised.  I am sticking to the pick I made a few weeks ago about how the Steelers would beat New England, the Ravens would beat Pittsburgh again, and how the Steelers would win if they met a 3rd time in the postseason.

Max Starks has revived the Steelers offensive line from the dead.  The fact that Suggs doesn’t rank in the top 5 in sacks has made people believe that Pittsburgh’s got this game.

I disagree.  Baltimore ranks in the top 3 in 3 defensive categories.  The Ravens rank 2nd in sacks, 3rd in pass defense, and 3rd in run defense.  A defense that ranks in the top 3 in all of these categories can keep Pittsburgh to under 20 points.

I realize Flacco has struggled.  Flacco’s like one of those Madden 12 players who either has a hot streak or a cold streak.  Flacco has had 3 bad games the last few weeks so he is due for a breakout week at Heinz Field.

LeBeau will focus more on using the linebackers to stop Ray Rice rather than worrying about the Ravens tight ends which will be the first reason why I think Baltimore wins.

 New England had high profile tight ends with Gronkowski and Hernandez.  I took that into account last week when I picked Pittsburgh over New England 28 to 27.  LeBeau took the Patriots tight ends into account and prepared properly.  Neither of the Ravens tight ends has had a big game against Pittsburgh to this point so I believe LeBeau will not put as much emphasis on stopping the Ravens tight ends because the Steelers pass defense is #1 in the NFL along with the fact that the Steelers front 7 is depleted.

Since the Steelers linebackers are depleted he will focus more on developing them to stop the Ravens running game rather than using the secondary to stop the Ravens tight ends.  LeBeau believes his secondary can stop Baltimore’s tight ends because they have yet to show up against Pittsburgh and because his secondary stopped New England’s tight ends last week.   LeBeau isn’t certain that the Steelers 2nd team linebackers will stop Rice and LeBeau knows what Rice can do.  I believe he puts a higher emphasis on developing the inexperienced players so they can execute their assignments against Rice.

Baltimore has upstart tight ends who appear to be unknowns to Pittsburgh at this point.  Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta were 2 very talented 2010 NFL Draft prospects.  I would use the same game plan that Pittsburgh used on New England against LeBeau.

 Baltimore’s pass blocking and run blocking dominated in the previous contest making James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley look like 2 smoked salmons fresh on a grill.  The Ravens will go against a weaker linebacking corps so their offensive line has to stay mentally focused by not underestimating what the Steelers pass rush is capable of.

A Ravens offensive line that is not mentally focused along with a poor outing by Flacco is the recipe to a Ravens loss.  Flacco has had 3 bad games in a row and its hard to see him having a 4th bad game in a row.  Joe Flacco is better than Mark Sanchez in my opinion.

I’d throw to my tight ends early the way Arians used Heath Miller against New England early to open things up for the rest of the offense.  If I get enough time I may even have Flacco pump fake to one tight end and throw to the other because this would confuse the Steelers pass defense.  Then I’d go to Rice once the Steelers defense adjusts to zone coverage.  After that, I call some short play action passes getting the ball to Anquan Boldin before setting up Torrey Smith on a deep pass.

Baltimore has yet to use Torrey Smith against the Steelers.  Smith has averaged 21.7 yards per catch and will line up against William Gay on Sunday.  The longer you wait to use Smith the better the odds are of Baltimore unleashing an element of surprise on the Steelers #1 ranked pass defense.

Pittsburgh will mainly focus on taking Boldin out of the game with Ike Taylor and Polamalu double teaming Boldin thinking that’s all they have to do.  That’s where they will lose this contest.

 Torrey Smith is averaging more yards per catch than Mike Wallace did his rookie year.  The Raven’s did not use Smith in their previous meeting against the Steelers which is a huge advantage for Baltimore considering the way of fashion they won in week 1.  Flacco played poorly against Arizona last week.  He did spread the ball though.  Smith was 2nd in receiving yards behind Boldin and dropped 3 easy passes that could have caused Baltimore to score 40 on Arizona.  His tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta both tallied 6 receptions against the Cardinals safeties.

I think Torrey Smith torches William Gay in coverage on Sunday.  Baltimore will also use their tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta to pick apart the Steelers secondary.

Pittsburgh will keep this defensive contest close through 3 quarters.  Flacco makes a clutch play in the 4th quarter to finally silence Steeler fans who doubt his ability.

I really cannot see Pittsburgh winning.  If Pittsburgh’s ahead going to 7-2 on the year when the clock strikes midnight it will be because the Ravens defeated themselves with their poor play on offense.

The Ravens have the unknown players to stretch the field and cause a mismatch within the Steelers pass defense.  The Steelers only chance of winning this game is if Joe Flacco or the Ravens offensive line fails to stay mentally disciplined because the Ravens have the unknown playmakers to execute along with a top 3 defense in sacks, run defense, and pass defense.

The Ravens lost to Jacksonville because they mentally defeated themselves.  The Jaguars aren’t that talented to beat Baltimore convincingly.

Final Score Ravens 24 Steelers 17

Chicago Bears 4-3 VS Philadelphia Eagles 3-4 -8

The Eagles are ranked in the top 6 in pass blocking and run blocking and their team is looking better.  I think the Eagles are overrated as a team in general.  I am simply not ready to buy the Eagles.

Final Score Bears 21 Eagles 17

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