By Josh Kramer
Everyone is more than aware that football is a rough sport and that the NFL is the pinnacle of physicality. But last week was flat-out bad. I cannot think of a week in recent memory where more guys went down. Despite all of the injuries though, there were some great games. San Francisco found a way to beat a tough Giants team in New York. The Pittsburgh Steelers ripped the hearts out of their rivals in Cincinnati, ending the Who Dey’s first five-game winning streak since 1988. And the Green Bay Packers continued their march towards perfection with a phenomenal showing on Monday Night Football.
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 10, here is the scoreboard.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Good luck to the slumping Buccaneers in stopping the party at Lambeau.
Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Cam Newton, meet Ndamukong Suh. Both of these teams desperately need a W.
Jacksonville Jaguars (CB, CV3) at Cleveland Browns (TSK, DC)
-The Word: Blaine Gabbert leads the League’s worst passing offense against the top ranked passing defense in professional football. Just from that fact, the team from LeBron’s former residence would seem to have the edge.
Oakland Raiders (CB, TSK, CV3) at Minnesota Vikings (DC)
-The Word: Can the anemic Viking’s secondary slow down the “Return of the Palmer?”
Buffalo Bills (CB, TSK, CV3, DC) at Miami Dolphins
-The Word: Would the world come to an end if the Miami Dolphins won a third consecutive game?
Dallas Cowboys (CB, TSK, CV3, DC) at Washington Redskins
-The Word: Will the real Dallas Cowboys please stand up? Two bitter rivals square off in the nation’s capital.
Cincinnati Bengals (CB, CV3) at Baltimore Ravens (TSK, DC)
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Somehow every team won in the NFC West last week. We know that will not be the case this week as the 49ers look to capture their eighth straight wins.
Seattle Seahawks (TSK) at St. Louis Rams (CB, CV3, DC)
-The Word: This would be the perfect week for Marshawn Lynch to go “Beast Mode” against the League’s worst rushing defense.
Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Due to recent events, Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans are right in the thick of things in the AFC South.
San Diego Chargers (DC) at Chicago Bears (CB, TSK, CV3)
-The Word: Two teams heading in very different directions. Never thought I would see the day where a Philip Rivers led Chargers team would go over a month without a victory.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Throw the records out the window. When isn’t this game high in entertainment value?
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Though it likely would not have made much of a difference, Matt Cassel will not be on the field in his return to Gillette Stadium.
Game of the Week: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
-Our top matchup this week features two of the AFC North’s elite teams. Though this rivalry is not as publicized as some around the League, there is a definite disliking there. If you are a fan of defense and big hits, this may be the game for you this week. The real question on everyone’s mind as these two 6 and 3 teams go toe to toe is what Baltimore Ravens team will show up? Will we get the Jekyll or the Hyde?
-It is no secret that Baltimore is widely considered a favorite in the AFC. And rightfully so. Just nobody understands the man behind the beast. The Ravens this year have defeated the Steelers twice, the Jets, and the Texans. All three of those squads are likely playoff bound teams. Yet they have lost to bottom dwellers such as Jacksonville and Seattle. Maybe they have a problem getting up for the big game? I was impressed by the effort put up by the Bengals last Sunday against Pittsburgh. This team is definitely solid. The problem is they are heading to M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens are 4 and 0 on the year. Though the Bengals have been road warriors this season, posting a 4 and 1 mark away from the Queen City, this is the first time Andy Dalton will look across the line and see guys like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs looking to make his Sunday a living hell. Cincinnati is a good team. But Baltimore is a great team that takes it to another level at home.
Stat of the Week:
-Two of the League’s elite rushing defenses will be on the field in Baltimore on Sunday. 177.1 is the total number of rushing yards allowed on average combined, by these two AFC North powers. So do not expect to see Ray Rice or Cedric Benson having a field day on the ground. Who would you rather have leading your offense in this one? Flacco or Dalton? It will come down to which QB makes the least mistakes on Sunday.
CV3: Will Marvin Lewis be able to keep his former team’s defense in check? The key to the Bengals winning is Dalton getting a lot of first downs that keeps the Ravens D on the field. If Dalton manages the game well, I don’t see Flacco being able to take control of this game. Look for the Bengals D to come up big in an important AFC North battle!
CB: Game of the week for me has to be the Bengals vs. Ravens. The winner of this game will move into a tie with the Steelers for 1st place in the AFC North Division. I expect this game to be almost identical to the Bengals game last week against the Steelers. The Ravens will attempt to confuse and blitz rookie quarterback Andy Dalton all day long. They are going to try to force him to make as many mistakes as possible. But, Andy Dalton has shown that he is far from a rookie quarterback because of his poise and confidence in himself and his teammates. This could be a big game for the opposing quarterback Joe Flacco. With the Bengals secondary banged up and missing a key part, I expect him and Anquan Boldin to have a big game. This will be a battle on Sunday.
DC: Round 2 for the Bengals in Baltimore. They showed that they were a good football team last week against a tenacious Steelers squad. But, injuries to Leon Hall and AJ Green might spell out death for the up and coming Bengals. Look for the Ravens to exploit the Bengals offense without Green in the lineup. Ravens win a must-have game for their Super Bowl aspirations. Philly is done without Vick in the lineup. The Dream Team turned out to be quite a nightmare for the city of brotherly love. Don’t worry Eagles fans- the Phillies will be playing in no time.
TSK: Not a plethora of marquee matchups this week like in Week 10. Still some intriguing games though. All four of the teams in America’s favorite division go toe to toe (NFC East). Plus Cincinnati rookie QB Andy Dalton gets his first ever taste of Ray Lewis. It should be fun.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.