By Josh Kramer
Last week was a wild one to say the least filled with nail-biters and crazy endings. Tim Tebow once again found a way to win. The Cincinnati Bengals continued their improbable run. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers continued to flex their defending champion swagger. And Joe Flacco had his “One Shining Moment.”
As has become the tradition, we are once again having “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge.”
The participants this season are as follows:
TheSportsKraze (TSK) (defending champion)-Josh Kramer-Founder/Editor-In-Chief of “TheSportsKraze” and former ESPN intern.
CV3-Chad Vordenberge-An elite high school wide receiver and a very successful business owner.
CB-Craig Baker-A former collegiate baseball player and current special education teacher.
DC-David Clark-A dedicated sports fan who was coached by TheSportsKraze on his fraternity flag football team. After playing for TheSportsKraze, he has developed a slow but steady motivation to show his coach who the real pick’em champion is.
After Week 9, here is the scoreboard.
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: A good few of the games athletic freaks and elite playmakers will all be on the same field for this battle in the city of Brotherly Love.
Tennessee Titans (CB) at Carolina Panthers (TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Tennessee cannot seem to run the ball effectively while Carolina struggles to stop the run. Something has to give in Carolina.
Houston Texans (CB, TSK, CV3, DC) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
-The Word: The Texans seem to finally “get it” while the Buccaneers have been sputtering.
Washington Redskins (TSK, DC) at Miami Dolphins (CB, CV3)
-The Word: Miami finally decided to show up last week and departed the club of the “defeated” teams. Could they possibly string together consecutive victories?
Jacksonville Jaguars (CB, TSK, CV3, DC) at Indianapolis Colts
-The Word: Maybe Indianapolis should consider just losing out? The “Lose for Luck Sweepstakes” is theirs to lose at this point.
Denver Broncos (CB) at Kansas City Chiefs (TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: If KC plays like they did last week against Miami, Tim Tebow may be on his way to victory number three of the season.
Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: If either of these teams has aspirations of playoff football, this game appears to be a must win in the big D.
New Orleans Saints (TSK, CV3) at Atlanta Falcons (CB, DC)
-The Word: NFC South supremacy is on the line in the Georgia Dome. Which New Orleans team will make the trip?
St. Louis Rams (CV3) at Cleveland Browns (CB, TSK, DC)
-The Word: Talk about a game filled with quarterback issues. Sam Bradford has taken a major step backward while Colt McCoy has demonstrated that he may not be the guy to solve Cleveland’s misery.
Pittsburgh Steelers (DC) at Cincinnati Bengals (CB, TSK, CV3)
-The Word: One of the best rivalries in football leads to a sellout of Paul Brown Stadium for the first time all year.
Baltimore Ravens (CB, TSK, CV3, DC) at Seattle Seahawks
-The Word: Will the “Flacco Show” continue at CenturyLink Field?
New York Giants (CB) at San Francisco 49ers (TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: New York can neither run the ball or stop the run. Jim Harbaugh’s squad is among the League’s elite in pounding the rock and stopping others from doing so.
Detroit Lions (TSK) at Chicago Bears (CB, CV3, DC)
-The Word: If the Bears can give Jay Cutler breathing room again, this game could come down to the wire.
New England Patriots (DC) at New York Jets (CB, TSK, CV3)
-The Word: Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick. Need I say more?
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Minnesota better learn how to stop the pass or this game could get ugly in a hurry at Lambeau.
Game of the Week: New England Patriots at New York Jets
-The “Game of the Week” was extremely difficult to choose this week. There were three games that were all worthy of the distinction, but I had to go with my gut on this one. Sure Pittsburgh and Cincinnati is a great rivalry that will result in an entertaining and very physical game. And you better believe the NFC South throw down in the Georgia Dome will be fun between the Saints and the Falcons. But no game features the personalities and big names that this AFC East rivalry possesses. Any time teams coached by Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan step foot on the same field, you know you are in for a dandy.
-On one hand, you have Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who really embrace the new age style of football. Pass, pass, and more pass. They lead the League in passing yards per game, but also rank dead last at defending the pass. New York on the other hand does not do much of anything all that well on offense, though have demonstrated the ability to buckle down on defense when push comes to shove. The Patriots got the best of New York in Round 1 a little over a month ago. Expect Round 2 to play out a little differently. New York finally seems to be putting things together while New England is in the midst of a downward spiral. Though I am still confident this New England team will find their way into postseason football, do not sleep on Rex Ryan and the surging Jets as they move to 5 and 0 at home on the year and tie the season series up at one apiece.
Stat of the Week:
-The New England feature the 31st ranked red zone defense in the NFL. Hard to fathom that a Bill Belichick coached team could rank this poorly in terms of defense at crunch time. Red zone defense is always very key towards any teams success of failure in this League. Opponents of New England have scored 18 TDs and 155 points in the red zone this year. In addition, New England ranks dead last in the League in passing defense. This all makes you scratch your head on how the Patriots still are 5 and 3, and tied for first place in the AFC East. We could be looking at New England’s first three game losing streak since 2002.
CV3: Bengals vs Steelers. Steelers struggling, Bengals streaking. If Dalton takes care of the ball, Bengals win! Enough said.
CB: What a huge game this week! If Cincinnati wins, they will at least keep a share of first place. If the Steelers were to win and the Ravens were to lose, there would be a three-way traffic jam atop the AFC North (making Cincinnati the third, first place team because of tiebreakers). All day long, I expect the Steelers D to create havoc for the rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton. But, Andy Dalton has continuously shown that he is able to deal with pressure from different defenses looks and make wise decisions. I hope that the rookie can continue his impressive streak this week.
DC: It is time to put up or shut up this week in the NFL. Can the hometown Bengals silence the critics and come through with a big W at home against a hungry Steelers squad? Can the Eagles right the ship against an awful Cards team? Are the Boys for real? Will the real Chicago Bears please stand up? A lot of answers come our way in Week 10 of the NFL season. I think our Bengals prove that they are not quite there yet. Steelers win big in a statement game after their tough loss to Baltimore. Pittsburgh is too good to be 0-3 in the AFC North and Cincy is a year away with the Red Rocket at the helm. I think the Bears show their running attack off against the impressive Lions’ D line. Bears win 20-17. Also, I like the Pats to bounce back strong against their AFC East rival. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Tom Brady will not be fooled three times in a row.
TSK: This week is defined by three great inter-divisional matchups that have major playoff implications. Expect Drew Brees and Matt Ryan to put on a major show in the Georgia Dome. Look for the Bengals and Steelers slugfest at Paul Brown Stadium to get downright dicey. And finally look for New York’s very opportunistic secondary to confuse Tom Brady, and add to his already surprising ten interceptions total on the year.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.