Tag Archives: Mike Zimmer

Food for Thought 11-8-2011

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton (pictured above) has been better than advertised thus far, leading Cincinnati to a shocking 6 and 2 start.

By Josh Kramer

This weekend was defined by making moves.  Some were positive.  And some were negative.  But football across the land at both the professional and collegiate ranks lived up to the hype and more.  Plus the owners finally put forth an ultimatum towards the players.  The following are the items that have really caught my attention.

Can you say Who Dey? Continue reading

“Bengals vs Panthers In Game”

Bengal's kicker, Mike Nugent (pictured above), has arguably been the Team's MVP through their first 3 games.

The 1 and 1 Bengals travel to Carolina today to take on a struggling Panthers team with a rookie QB making his debut start today in Jimmy Clausen.  Bengal’s D coordinator, Mike Zimmer is looking to feast and should confuse the rookie early and often with a plethora of different defensive schemes.  Look for the Bengal’s offense to wake up as well in a big way today.

My esteemed guests this week are Mr. David Huber, or “Hubes,” Mr. Chris Nesbitt, or “Nez,” and Mr. Grift Krehnbrink,  or “Queen City Kid.”  They will provide their thoughts at the end of each quarter.

1st Quarter:

Weird is the best way to describe this quarter.  The Bengals throw an INT on their first drive only to have Jimmy Clausen mishandle a snap and give it right back.   Late in the quarter, Carson tosses up a horribly underthrown ball to TO that gets picked.  The rookie, Clausen, on the next play, makes a horrible throw to Steve Smith to give the ball right back to Cincy.  Talk about an erratic, back and forth 1st quarter.  The quarterback play has been god awful.     The only adjective I have for this quarter is “weird.”  I feel like I am watching a lower tier high school football game.  Nonetheless, Cincy leads 7 to 0 and has the ball.  In addition, it was nice to see Brian Leonard back out there running hard.

Hubes:  “Carson’s best days are behind him.  Long behind him.”

Nez:  “Despite a lot of sloppy play, the Bengals are in a good spot, as long as Clausen is under center for the Panthers.”

Queen City Kid: “Carson just looks abysmal.  He has not been the same for years now.”

2nd Quarter:

I am absolutely speechless.  Carson has a 22.2 QB Rating with two horrendous interceptions.  Minus the play of Maualuga, Gresham, and Shipley, I am not sure what team I am watching.  The offense is horrendous in every facet.  Thank god we have reliable special teams play in our punter Kevin Huber and kicker Mike Nugent.  Not to mention we are lucky that Jimmy Clausen is the starter for the Panthers on this day.  Also, the clock management for the last 45 seconds was absolutely unacceptable.  Dennis Roland should be ashamed of himself.  I am happy to be up 10 to 0, but just because a team is winning does not mean they are playing well.  This Bengal’s team better play smarter and better in the 2nd half, or they could be on their way to blowing a very winnable game on the road.

Hubes: “Kevin Huber, MVP of the first half.”

Nez: “This is not quality football.”

Queen City Kid: “To the Carolina Panthers, get me a new quarterback, or get me a cheddarwurst.”

3rd Quarter:

Boring and dry.  Other than one extended touchdown drive from Carolina, not too much to say.  The Bengals continue to dominate time of possession and are doing all they can to hold on.  Cedric is carrying the load as Carson’s struggles mount.  Will Carson ever live up the hype?

Hubes: “Bengals better cover the spread.”

Nez:  “This game is too close for comfort.”

Queen City Kid:  “Clausen is showing signs of life.  Probably had a nice halftime.”

4th Quarter:

They did what they had to do.  Got crucial stops.  Nugent continues to make both short and long field goals.  And Cedric Benson came up with some big plays offensively.  Kudos to the defense on a great game even though they were going up against an overmatched rookie QB.

Hubes: “Boring game.”

Nez: “I will take the W.  But it was not pretty.”

Queen City Kid: “I got nothing.  I am speechless.”

Recap:

My MVPs in this one are Mike Nugent, Kevin Huber, and Cedric Benson.  Though the Bengal’s D as a whole played great, they were not exactly going up against a juggernaut of an offense.  Still, a very solid game though, holding the Panthers to under 270 total yards.  The Bengals have now won 5 of their last 6 against the NFC.  The NFL is not about looking good or winning pretty.  And today was a prime example of winning ugly.

The Bengals get to head to Cleveland next week.  Hopefully they can move to 3 and 1 before a Week 5 showdown against the formerly undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Carson if you are out there, please get it together.  This team will live and die on Palmer, especially against quality opponents.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 3 Predictions”

In possibly the best matchup of Week 3, can Matt Ryan (pictured above), lead the Falcons to a big time win over the defending champs?

So with two weeks completed in this young NFL season, the excitement is still there.  The parity is still there.  Two heavy NFC favorites are 0 and 2 (Vikings and Cowboys).  There are two NFC surprise teams that stand at 2 and 0 (Bears and Buccaneers).  And Miami, Houston, and Kansas City are all leading their respective divisions in the AFC.  You got to love it.

Also, in the pick’em challenge, the scoreboard reads as follows:

TheSportsKraze: Week 1/2-20                                                   CV3:  Week 1/2-19

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Titans at Giants:  This is one of those toss-up type of games.  And though Chris Johnson may be the most dangerous offensive weapon in the League, the Titans showed kryptonite against the Steelers last week and I expect the same on Sunday.  Eli and the Giants at home will be looking to redeem themselves after an embarrassing Sunday night loss in the “Battle of the Brothers.”  Both of these teams have strong rushing attacks and defend well against the pass.  Look for a low scoring and tight affair, but expect the G Men to come out on the victorious end by 3 utilizing home field advantage.

Steelers at Buccaneers:  Though this hurts me to say, I am going to have to take the Steelers on the road in this one.  Tampa has been a very pleasant surprise leaping out to a 2 and 0 start, but the Steelers are no fluke.  Their defense, led by Troy Polamalu is the real deal.  Also, they will be utilizing the ultimate “Journeyman,” Charlie Batch as their starting quarterback.  So even though the Steelers sport the 31st ranked offense in the League, their outstanding defense will continue to take care of business in this one.  Steeler nation is enjoying every win they can get before the return of Big Ben.  Look for the Steelers to win an ugly one by 6.

Bengals at Panthers:  Welcome to the NFL Jimmy Clausen.  In your first start, you get to match up against a Bengal’s defense that looked flat-out awesome last week against Baltimore.  The great mind of the Bengal’s D-Coordinator vs the Panther’s rookie QB Jimmy Clausen?  I got Zimmer every time.  Carolina has sported an anemic offensive attack thus far this season.  Look for Carson Palmer to start to redeem  himself with a major day through the air, featuring big games for TO, Ocho, and Shipley.  I got the Bengals running away with this one on the road by 9.

Browns at Ravens:  This game may be a great rivalry.  For obvious reasons.  But this Ravens team is very hungry after a heartbreaking loss in Cincinnati last weekend.  Look for Ray Lewis and the boys to lay some bone shattering hits.  And probably even provide some points for the struggling offensive attack.  This may be a game where the Ravens bring in Marc Bulger for a series or two sporting a big lead?  The only way the Browns hang around in this one is through a special teams TD by none other than Joshua Cribbs.  Do not count on the offense mustering more than a TD though.  I got the Edgar Allen Poe’s by 10 at home.

Cowboys at Texans:  This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the week for obvious reasons.  Two teams heading in very different directions.  A Cowboy’s team, that has disappointed the entire country, and a Texan’s team, that is 2 and 0, having defeated two tough opponents.  My head has been saying go with the Texans all week, especially at home.  But in the “Battle of Texas,” I got the Cowboys to reestablish their rushing attack behind a motivated offensive line, on their way to a gutsy 1 point victory over their in-state rival.  Jerry Jones will be a happy man (or as happy as Jerry can be with a 1 and 2 start).

49ers at Chiefs:  Another very tough matchup to call here.  The Chiefs have been a pleasant surprise thus far, while the 49ers are another one of those surprising 0 and 2 teams.  Mike Singletary had his team on the cusp of beating the defending champs on Monday Night Football.  Now his team is back in action, heading to a very tough environment in Kansas City.  Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones have been a 2 headed monster for KC on the ground, but I do not think it will be enough on this day.  Plus Patrick Willis and the 49ers D have done a great job against the run this year.  Alex Smith, the young San Francisco QB, is beginning to show glimmers of a big time leader following his great drive late in the 4th on Monday.  Expect the 49ers to cut down on their mistakes, and nab a big road win by 1.

Lions at Vikings:  Hail Vikings?  Without a victory in this one at home, it may be all over for the Favres.  The Lions have played very well, losing two games in heartbreaking fashion.  They have definitely stepped up their game and are extremely competitive, but it won’t be enough in this one.  Look for AP to run “All Day,” just like his nickname says, and expect Favre to cut down on the INTs.  Minnesota has done well from a statistical standpoint other than in the turnover department.  The Lions on the other hand, have not been the best team statistically, but their aerial attack has been very solid.  Many had the Vikings as a Super Bowl favorite.  Well their trek begins Sunday as they move to 1 and 2 with a 9 point victory over Detriot.

Bills at Patriots:  Da Bills, will get killed.  The Patriots are coming off an embarrassing defeat at the hands of AFC East Rival, New York (Jets). Belichick , Brady, and Moss all hate to lose.  They showed how dangerous they can be in a major Week 1 romp of Cincinnati.  The Bills are one of the worst teams in football up to this point.  Though the Patriots only major strength thus far has been their passing attack, it will be enough to carry them to an easy home victory over Buffalo.  Look for the Patriots to lay an old-fashioned whooping by 14.

Falcons at Saints:  This is a big time showdown in the NFC South.  Brees showed his grit on Monday Night leading a major drive in the final minute of play.  Atlanta also flapped their wings last Sunday with an offensive outburst against the Cardinals.  Can the Saints hold Atlanta’s outstanding rushing attack in check?  Can the Saints fill the void left by a Reggie Bushless offense?  These will be the determining factors in this one.  And I am going with the Saints by 3 at home in possibly the best game of the Week.

Redskins at Rams:  Sorry St. Louis.  Things are going to continue to get worse.  After a heartbreaking loss against the Texans last week, the Redskins look to recover in a big way under the Arch of St. Louis.  This is just the medicine any team needs after suffering a tough defeat.  Go play the Rams.  Though the Redskins have had little to no ground attack all year and have struggled defending the pass, it won’t matter in this one, as they take on one of the worst in the NFL.  Expect the Redskins to take care of business by 7 on the road.

Eagles at Jaguars:  Michael Vicks heads to Jacksonville as the starter?  Is it 2006 again?  After Andy Reid named Michael Vick the starter earlier this week, the whole city of Brotherly Love breathed a sigh of relief.  The Human Highlight Reel will take the show to alligator central this weekend.  The Jaguars have looked okay in their first two games, but they will have no answer for the best athlete in football on this day.  Look for Michael Vick to “juke” his way to a tough 3 point victory on the road.

Raiders at Cardinals:  The bad and the ugly right here folks.  Two teams that stand at 1 and 1, but are probably in the lower tier of the League in all honesty.  The Cardinals demonstrated how bad their defense can be in giving up 41 points last week.  While the Raiders continue to struggle passing the ball, and will start Bruce Gradkowski in this one.  This is not really a game that I want to tune in to watch.  A lot of this matchup will hinge on how the Cardinals can handle the Raider’s rushing tandem in Bush and McFadden, and how the Raider’s can handle the Cardinal’s receiving duo of Fitzgerald and Breaston.  But I got the Cardinal’s receivers putting up some numbers and rolling to an ugly 6 point victory at home.

Chargers at Seahawks:  The Seahawks have shown glimpses of a quality team.  But the Chargers have been tough for some years now and looked like they woke up from the off-season last week.  Phillip Rivers will have a field day against a weak Seattle secondary on his way to a 14 point win.  There will be rain in Seattle this weekend.

Colts at Broncos:  The Peyton show heads to Mile High.  Just look for more of what you saw last Sunday.  The Colts have a great offense.  And the secondary has done a great job defending against the pass.  Unfortunately for Denver, they do not have their typical tough rushing attack to expose the Colt’s weakness of defending against the run.  Look for Peyton to shred the Broncos all day on the way to a 13 point victory.

Jets at Dolphins:  This is a big time matchup early in the season.  Though the Dolphins sit atop the division, the Jets are still the favorite in my eyes, and most of America.  Can New York produce a 2nd straight big time AFC East Victory?  You better believe it as Sanchez continues to get more and more comfortable in the pocket.  The GQ Star looked great last week, and should continue his solid play against a tough Miami defense.  I got the Jets gutting out a tough 1 point victory on the road.

Packers at Bears:  The Monday Night Games have been as good as ever this season.  I do not see that trend stopping this week either, as two bitter rivals take the prime time stage.  But I will say that Aaron Rodgers will get a chance to show the country why is an elite quarterback against a Bear’s secondary that has struggled.  Two teams looking to take hold of the NFC North early on.  It should be fun.  But look for the Cheeseheads to take care of business by 6 on the road.

CV3 Picks:

49ers over Chiefs by 9- The San Fran D should dominate the Chief’s offense while Frank Gore tears apart the Chief’s linebacking core. Mike Singletary has his team under going in the right direction.

Vikings over Lions by 14- C’mon Vikings… A disappointing start to a season that might end with a wild card bid. I can’t see them going to 0-3, especially against the lions. It’s likely that Brett will get into a groove now that he has a couple games under his belt for the season (since he strategically missed most of the preseason, again).

Patriots over Bills by…. who knows, but it will be a lot- The Pats can’t be satisfied with their play against the Jets. Sorry Bills, but you have to face them on their bounce-back week. Brady will put up huge numbers in this one.

Ravens over Browns by 8- Cribbs will score a long touchdown, but that’s it. Baltimore’s D is still elite and it doesn’t matter that their offense sucks because the Browns suck. With anger brewing due to some questionable calls from last week, look for the Ravens to hit hard in this one and probably score on D.

Texans over Boys by 3- In the Battle of Texas, I take the Texans. They are high powered on offense and have shown they can beat a team on the ground and in the air. That powerful offense is backed by a solid D that should extend the Boys downward spiral for another week. Sorry Jerry but you need an O-line. Maybe you can buy it??

Eagles over Jags by 10- Luckily for Eagles fans their coach watched the game tape. I’m a Vick fan too (on the football field). I feel like going back to Madden ’04 and running from sideline to sideline making a fool of defenders. The Eagles have a lot of weapons and Vick will continue to impress as a starter.

Colts over Broncos by 5 1/2- Two offenses that rely on the pass. The Colts D is back on track but this one still should be a shootout. You have to believe that Peyton reigns supreme over Orton in this one though.

Raiders over Cardinals by 3- Go MAC quarterbacks! Bruce will hand the ball off and make a few good passes to Zach Miller in this Raiders win. Hopefully Michael Bush will get involved in the action as well. He is a fun player to watch and the Raiders may start to show that they have a great tandem in McFadden and Bush. Plus, the Cardinals one hope for this season is busy putting his moves down on the dance floor.

Chargers over Seahawks by 10- I thought the Chargers were going to have some management troubles that would trickle down to the field and effect their play, I was wrong. I still don’t like A.J. Smith, especially for what he did to Marty but it looks like Norv has them focused on the opponent rather than their internal struggles. They should roll in this one.

Giants over Titans by 1- This should be a tight one with two similar teams with good running games and a good pass defense. I give this one to the G-Men only because they are playing at home. 

Steelers over Buccaneers by 4- Unfortunately, for Steelers haters, the Curtain is back. As long as Troy stays healthy they could run Akili Smith out there at quarterback and it wouldn’t matter. They are going to win in ugly fashion with defense doing most of the work. Good luck trying to score more than one touchdown Bucs.

Skins over Rams by 6- Again, Bradford will keep this one close with a decent performance but the Skins D is better than the Ram’s.

Jets over the Fins in this one by 3- Both teams are playing stellar D but the Jets have a lot of confidence after beating their conference foes. If the coaches don’t limit Sanchize then the Jets should fly high to their second victory.

Saints over Falcons by 7- I’m picking the defending champs every week until they lose! No Reggie, no problem, maybe… this one could be close with Matty Ice leading his squad.

Bears over Packers by 3- Why will the Pack be upset? Because its Monday night! Hopefully this adds to the thrilling Monday night games we have seen so far. Two top passers with two solid defenses. Something has got to give in this one the defenses or the offenses, I’m betting its the D. In shootout fashion this high scoring game will end with a game winning field goal.

Bengals over Panthers by 10- C’mon Zimmer, destroy Jimmy Clausen!! Get to the quarterback! Even if the Bengals lack pressure on the QB they will win with solid D and a better offense. Brat better come out with a plan to spread the field otherwise a tough Carolina run D will delay the start of the Palmer show. Who Dey? Not the Panthers!

It should be a great Week 3.  Feel free to see how your picks stack up against mine and CV3′s in the comments.

Get ready for some football folks.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 2 Predictions”

It appears Michael Vick (pictured above), may be starting his first game since 2006 on Sunday. Does he still have the amazing athleticism that once made him the real "Human Highlight Reel?"

One week of the 17 week grind that is the NFL Regular Season has been completed.  Now we enter Week 2.  There is a little bit less mysteriousness to each squad.  There is a bit more familiarity and film to see what lays ahead.  But still, there are a ton of question marks.  A ton of teams looking to prove that Week 1 was a fluke, or for those teams that played well, that Week 1 was not a fluke.  Once again I go head to head with CV3 on picks.

Week 1 Results:  TheSportsKraze: 8             CV3:  9

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Steelers at Titans:  The Steelers proved me wrong last week.  But this week they are on the road with their young 3rd string quarterback in Dennis Dixon.  Not to mention they go up against the most dangerous running back in the NFL Chris Johnson.  Look for this to be a very competitive game, but expect CJ to be the game’s determining factor.  Titans by 3.

Dolphins at Vikings:  You think that Brett Favre and the Vikings like losing?  Now the Dolphins are a solid team, but you have to like Minnesota in their home opener.  The Vikings are a great all around team, that even though they played pretty awful in their opener, they were still in a position to beat the defending champs on the road.  Chad Henne, the former Wolverine, will struggle on the road against the outstanding pass rush of the very tough Viking’s defensive line.  Brandon Marshall, will have to make a couple of highlight reel plays to keep the boys from Miami in the game.  Though I think this game will be competitive most of the way, I got the Vikings by 10 at home.

Cardinals at Falcons:  Arizona is flying high after a big week one win at St. Louis.  Well not really.  They struggled against one of football’s worst teams and looked out of sorts for much of the game.  Other than a great 2nd quarter, and the phenomenal play of Steve Breaston, this team did not look like a team ready to make the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive year.  The Falcons on the other hand, nearly came away with a victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday.  And though their offense only mustered up 9 points, they were going against a whole different animal in the Steeler’s defense.  Look for Matt Ryan to connect with Roddy White early and often, and look for Michael Turner to have a big day on the ground.  I got the Falcons running away with this one by 13.

Ravens at Bengals:  This may be the marquee matchup of the weekend.  Two major AFC contenders and divisional rivals going head to head.  The Ravens surprised many with a major Monday Night win in New York.  While the Bengals shot their load in a bad loss to the New England Patriots.  This is a whole new week.  And expect to see a different Bengals defense, plus more of the offense you witnessed in the 2nd half of last week’s contest.  In the Marvin Lewis/Carson Palmer era, the Bengals are 9 and 5 against the Edgar Allen Poe Bad Boy Ravens.  I will state this though.  If the Bengals play like they did in the first half of last week’s game even for a quarter, the Ravens will throw the knockout punch early.  But I expect Mike Zimmer’s defense to play big time smash mouth defense, and Palmer’s offense to have a big day.  I got the Bengals by 3 in a nail biter.

Chiefs at Browns:  Can you say Jamaal Charles?  Teams have a history of big days on the ground versus the Browns over the years.  Well this game will be no different.  And though the Browns sport the best return man in football, Josh Cribbs, the Chiefs are not too shabby themselves with rookie Dexter McCluster.  The Chiefs were a team that I said would surprise people this year and sneak their way to a pretty solid season. They definitely turned some heads last week with a major upset victory over San Diego.  Look for the Chiefs to be 2 and 0 at the end of Sunday.  I got KC by 9 over Cleveland.

Bears at Cowboys:  Da Bears verse America’s team.  No big deal right?  Wrong.  Both of these teams have a lot to prove after weak performances in Week 1.  The Bears escaped against the Lions on a very controversial call.  I will state that I thought it was a completed pass to Calvin Johnson.  And the Cowboys helped the Redskins shock the world.  By beating themselves.  This week will be different.  Jerry Jones, will not let another team full of big time talent, choke away the season already.  Look for the Cowboys to come out with a vengeance and expect Miles Austin to have another big day.  Cowboys by 13 running away with this one.

Eagles at Lions:  Michael Vick to start again?  I feel like it is 2006 all over again.  Talk about a time warp.  Well both of these teams surprised many with their Week 1 performances.  Though the Lions have weapons with guys like Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best.  Without their former number 1 draft pick, quarterback Matt Stafford (injured), the Tryin Lions will not get to taste victory for the first time this season.  I got Michael Vick leading the Eagles to a 3 point victory in Detroit.

Bills at Packers:  Buffalo heads to Cheesehead Country.  Well it will not be a pleasant visit.  This is the game that I feel could end up with the most lopsided outcome of this week’s batch of contests.  The Bills are one of the worst teams in football in my eyes, while the Packers are perhaps the most well-rounded.  Look for Aaron Rodgers to make up for last week’s 2 interceptions with a 4 TD performance.  Green Bay get excited, as your boys begin the year 2 and 0.  I got Green Bay by 17. 

Buccaneers at Panthers:  Neither of these teams looked great in their openers.  Tampa escaped against a weak Cleveland team, while the Panthers were torched by the G Men.  This game will be close from the start, with two teams that are towards the bottom tier of the League.  At least we may get to see former Notre Dame big shot, Jimmy Clausen, start his first game in the NFL.  Believe me, it won’t matter.  Buccaneers by 6 in a matchup of two bottom feeders.

Seahawks at Broncos:  Seattle may have pulled off the biggest surprise of Week 1.  They absolutely killed the hot pick in the NFC West, the 49ers, relentlessly.  Matt Hassleback demonstrated great management skills at the QB position, while defensive back, Marcus Trufant, led the D to an outstanding performance.  The Broncos on the other hand, surprised many including myself, with a tough loss to the Jaguars.  2 key turnovers killed them last week, and could once again hurt them this week.  Kyle Orton threw for nearly 300 yards, going to Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royals with a great frequency.  Well the Seattle defense is much tougher than Jacksonville’s, or at least they looked like it last week.  I got the Seahawks continuing to surprise and moving to 2 and 0 with a 6 point victory in Denver.

Rams at Raiders:  This is a matchup that I could never tune into unless forced.  Two of the worst teams in the NFL going head to head.  There is really nothing appealing about this one in any way unless you are a Rams or Raiders fan.  I think the difference in this one will be Jason Campbell’s mediocre, yet steady play at quarterback.  I got the Raiders by 3 at home in a game that I do not recommend watching unless you are a fan of either squad.

Texans at Redskins:  Arian Foster, the story of Week 1, takes the Texan’s show to Washington.  The way Houston was able to run the ball last week, and the passing attack we know they posses could cause major problems for Washington (or anybody for that matter).  Though Washington pulled off perhaps the 2nd biggest upset of Week 1 over America’s team, the Texans destroyed a very tough Colts team.  Look for Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson to stay hot in this one.  Texans by 10 in D.C.

Patriots at Jets:  This is a great matchup.  The AFC East favorites locking horns already?  Can the Jets recover from last week’s embarrassing offensive performance on Monday Night?  Can the Patriots continue to play outstanding?  My brain is telling me to pick the Pats in this one, but I got the Jets.  Sanchez must wake up to give his team a chance though.  The Jets tenacious defense will force Randy Moss onto Revis Island, and the Jets will win this thriller by 1 point.

Jaguars at Chargers: Both of these teams surprised in Week 1.  The Jaguars surprised with a win, while the Chargers surprised with a loss.  Well, do not expect San Diego to fall to 0 and 2.  Especially since they are at home in this game.  Norv Turner has led this team to the playoffs every year he has been with them for a reason.  They have a tradition of starting slow, having started under 500 through their first 5 games for 3 straight years.  But they will take care of business this week.  I got SD by 7 at home.

Giants at Colts:  I feel bad for the G Men coming off a big time performance last week.  They are now facing an angry Colt’s team.  And you know what that means?  An angry and motivated Peyton Manning.  Not what you want to hear as an opponent.  Though the Giants are a very good team, good luck in going into Lucas Oil and knocking off Peyton’s Colts coming off of a loss.  I got the Colts by 10 in this one.

Saints at 49ers:  Two popular picks to bring home their respective divisions.  Though I believe the 49ers are much better than what they showed last week, they are playing the defending champs on Prime Time now.  Drew Brees, fresh off his debut appearance on the hit television show “Entourage” thrives on the big stage.  Sorry San Fran.  An 0 and 2 start will not be the end to your season in a weak NFC West by any means.  Saints by 9 in this one.

CV3′s Picks:

FALCONS over Cardinals by 6- Look for the Falcons offense to have a much better week after facing off with the Steelers. Both teams are playing at a similar level but the home field advantage and Falcon D should be enough to edge the Falcons over the Cardinals.

EAGLES  over Lions by 14- No Stafford, no win.

PACKERS over Bills by 10- Packers will roll at home with their offense, even without Ryan Grant. Look for the back-up Brandon Jackson to have a good day. Packers will be one of the teams with an early season winning streak.

Browns over Chiefs by 3- The Chiefs didn’t produce a whole lot when you look at the stats last week. The Browns can match the Chiefs on special teams and defense so I think the Browns have the edge if Delhomme plays. If not it is up in the air with two similar teams.

Cowboys over Bears by 10- The Boys should be embarrassed by their performance against the Skins last week. Jerry Jones will not let that happen in Jerry World. Look for the Cowboys to gel on offense and win a shootout against Jay Cutler and Mike Martz. 

Vikings over Dolphins by 6- Vikings are hungry for the W after a repeat loss to the Saints. They are playing at home and they will most likely stick to the run, as opposed to last week. AP should have a decent day with at least 2 TD’s in this one.

Titans over Steelers by 3- The Steeler’s D will not allow Chris Johnson to run all over them. I believe he will get to 100 yards but it will take about 25 carries. This should be another low scoring one with a good Steeler’s D and a stagnant Steeler’s offense. Unless for some reason DD comes alive the Titans offense will prevail.

Broncos over Seahawks by 8- The Broncos will have a good offensive showing in this one. Last week the Seahawks shut down a poor offense that has trouble throwing the ball. This week Orton will pick through their D with a lot of short “West-Coast” style passes. The Seahawks are on the rise but will take a loss in this one.

Panthers over Buccos by 6- I don’t believe either team will be close to the playoffs but I give the advantage to the Panthers in this one solely on the home field advantage. Last week the home teams won 75% of the games.

Raiders over Rams by 1- These two are pretty evenly matched but again I give it to the home team. I think Bradford will show flashes of a future star but he will fall short again in this one. The Raiders offense should get a boost if Michael Bush is able to play this week. He is a big bruiser that will open up the game for McFadden. Plus if the Raiders are going to win a few games this season you would think St. Louis would one of the few they will beat.

Patriots over Jets by 10- This one will not be very close. The Jets coaching staff showed that Mark Sanchez clearly isn’t ready for the big time game yet. They had no confidence in him and limited him to the short game. The short game is what the Patriots are best at. The Jets D has taken a big hit looking Jenkins and I don’t think they will be able to hang with the Patriot’s high-flying offense that resembles 2007 already.

Jags over Chargers by 3- Last week the Chargers showed that something is clearly off in their organization. I doubt it is a quick fix. The Jags just saw the mighty Colts go down and have some extra motivation now that they realize the Colts can be beat. Unless Rivers can rally his team, the Chargers will struggle again.

Texans over Redskins by 9- WOW… This Texans team is scary! I wouldn’t want to play ‘em.

Colts over Giants by 7- Big brother will show why he is still big brother in this one. Peyton is at home and they are angry. He will not miss a beat in this one. Look for a three or four touchdown performance by him in this one. Little Eli will have to wait another year before he gets to take down big bro.

Saints over 49ers by a lot- Hmm… the tough 49er’s D was not so tough against the Seahawks. I think we know what will happen in this one. The defending champs will show why they are the defending champs.

Bengals over Ravens by 5- I do not have much faith in Bratkowski but if he comes out flat (not using the no huddle) then he should be fired. He should have been gone a while ago but Mr. Brown won’t let that happen. If he cannot recognize how effective that offense was last week (in the no huddle) then he deserves no spot in the NFL. Everyone knows what the Raven’s D is capable of but their offense is not very productive. The Bengals are angry and ready to react (not think) on defense. Playing at home against a division rival, I’m taking the Bengals in this one.

Can I begin to catch up to CV3 this week?  Feel free to post your picks in the comments and see how you stack up.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“AFC North Preview”

How will the arrival of Anquan Boldin in Baltimore and another number 81 in Cincinnati affect the AFC North this year?

Welcome to perhaps the most brutal conference in the NFL.  Or at least the most physical.  These teams are generally tough both on and off the field.  Most off-seasons, you hear a lot of press about what these players are doing with their spare time and normally it is not good news.  You ever hear the saying, “No news is good news?”  Well the AFC North does not believe in that saying.  This is a division with great rivalries, great players, and great fans.  Many say Pittsburgh, or “Shitsburgh” as many Cincinnatians like to say, possesses the best fan base in American sports.  All I have to say is, there is no love lost in the rivalries of this very unpredictable and talented division.

AFC North: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers (alphabetical order)

Cleveland Browns (4th place):  It seems like the Browns have been inhabiting the cellar for some time now.  In actuality, they have resided in this position every year but 2 since the year 2002.  So there is quite a familiarity with always looking up at their rivals in the standings.  And this year will be no different for a town where things continue to get worse.  The Indians have been god awful the past few years.  Their “King” and savior Lebron James, just jumped ship and added insult to the wounds by having a 1 hour special to make the “Decision,”  and the Browns continue to struggle.  Also lets not forget that winters in Cleveland are awful.  But this team truly does not have much to bring to the table.  They had the worst offense in the League last year for a reason.  They had a passing attack that reminded me of watching a high school team (averaging 129 yards per game).  This year they will have a new QB in Jake Delhomme, who can hopefully rekindle the fire a little bit.  Also their rushing attack will rely squarely on the shoulders of Jerome Harrison and the rookie out of Tennessee, Montario Hardesty.  Now Harrison is not terrible, nor was Cleveland’s rushing attack last year.  But this was partly because they ran the ball so much.  Also on the offensive side of the ball, much will be expected of Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs.  Massaquoi had a few big games last year, and has the talent to be a big play receiver.  But does this really sound like an offense that will be able to score against the likes of the Ravens, Bengals, or Steelers?  On the defensive side of the ball, the Browns are nearly just a bad.  This unit will depend heavily on a hopefully healthy Shaun Rogers, a hopefully healthy D’Qwell Jackson, and the always fun to watch Eric Wright in the secondary.  With the arrival of TO in Cincy and Boldin in Baltimore, Wright along with his buddies in the Cleveland secondary may actually need some Pepto Bismal.  Lastly, realize the best play the Browns have is on their special teams.  No team in the League possesses a threat like Joshua Cribbs in the return game.  This may be the Brown’s only hope to steal some games in the brutal AFC North.  As many in Cincinnati say, “If it is Brown flush it down.”  Well the Browns sadly are going to be down, and are in for another long season.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3rd place):  Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the best run franchises in professional sports will go a second consecutive year without tasting the postseason.  It is not that the Steelers are even so bad, it’s that the Bengals and Ravens will be very tough this year.  When talking about Steeler football, defense always comes to mind right away.  And this team does have a rough a tough defensive unit.  They are one of the top run stopping teams in the League, but do struggle with defending against the aerial attack at times.  James Farrior and James Harrison continue to get better with age it seems like.  Troy Polamalu, when healthy is one of the League’s best.  And Ryan Clark is becoming more and more well-known around the League for his bone shattering hits.  But the flash of the secondary cannot hide its inability at times to defend against the pass.  Big hits only can get you so far in this League.  Guys like Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, and all the recently drafted rookies in the secondary could make or break this team down the stretch.  Can Pittsburgh prevent the big play?  Offensively this team has a major issue before the season even starts.  Big Ben Roethlisberger, their quarterback and leader, will miss at least the first 4 games, and possibly more.  This will hurt.  It would not have been as big of a blow in the past, since the Steelers were always a smash mouth running team.  But they have turned into a pass first offense along with most of the NFL.  Can Dennis Dixon make sure the Steelers do not dig themselves another early season whole this year?  Because believe me, the Ravens and Bengals will be too tough to allow Pittsburgh to dig out of a massive early year deficit.  Is Rashard Mendenhall ready to carry the load as the featured back?  How many more solid years does Hines Ward have left?  The loss of their top receiver Santonio Holmes hurts, and it will be interesting to see if young guns Mike Wallace and Limas Sweed are ready to step up.  Pittsburgh will be a good team this year and win probably 6 to 8 games, but they will not be good enough to make the playoffs.  There are just too many question marks on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens (2nd place):  The bad boys out of Baltimore will make the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive year.  And though they would prefer to win the division, they will still be a tough out as a Wild Card.  This team has had a fantastic off-season and finally look to have the tools of a top-notch offensive squad.  So the Ravens will finally have a very tough offense to compliment their always tough defense.  Defensively, it is the same story it has been for the better part of a decade.  They stop the run better than anybody, rarely ever giving up 100 rushing yards in a game.  Ray Lewis, the future Hall of Famer, and possibly the best linebacker of all time continues to perform even at the ripe age of 35.  They also feature a very strong safety tandem in Dawan Landry and Ed Reed.  Plus Terrell Suggs, along with Ray Lewis may be the best linebacking duo in the League (even though Ray is 35).  But the corners have been a question the past couple of years, and may be the only minor flaw on this otherwise awesome team.  Can Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington, and David Carr defend the likes of the Bengal’s outstanding trio of big play receivers?  These matchups will probably determine who wins the AFC North.  So strap in for some excitement there.  There is also the Ravens now revamped offensive side of the ball.  Joe Flacco, looks to be a quarterback that will continue to win in this League for some time.  And now he has some great weapons to throw to in Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, and Donte Stallworth.  He also still has the former ASU standout, Todd Heap to throw too.  Also the Ravens possess one of the best rushing attacks in the entire League.  Between the up and coming Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and big boy Le’ron McClain, defenses beware.  These guys are no fun to deal with.  And with the look of a team that should really be able to throw the ball downfield, teams will not simply be able to just key on the vaunted Raven’s rushing attack.  Look out for the Ravens in 2010, as they look to go deep into the playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals (1st place):  Who Dey Nation has been celebrating for the past couple of days.  The TO Show has arrived in Cincinnati to add to an already solid receiving corps.  This team, which was one of the League’s best in running the ball last year should now be able to throw deep with authority.  They have 3 big play receivers in Owens, Ochocinco, and Bryant.  Not to mention the surehanded Andre Caldwell to act as a possession guy, and Jermaine Gresham at tight end.  Also they have one of the League’s best running backs in Cedric Benson.  Carson Palmer has a heck of a team to work with offensively.  Be ready to witness the Carson Palmer of 2005 all over again. Redemption will be so sweet for the former USC standout.  The Bengals on the defensive side of the ball last year, behind the tutelage of Mike Zimmer, became one of the League’s elite.  Do not expect that to change this season as guys continue to get healthy.  The Bengals were extremely efficient at stopping both the run and the pass.  The cornerback tandem of Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph is now known around the football stratosphere as one of the League’s elite.  Really for the Bengals, there are two question marks.  First of all is Carson ready to start playing like an elite quarterback again(which I think he is)?  And secondly, can the Bengals get healthy at safety and defend against a team like the Ravens, who have so many weapons?  With the Bengals, as with any team around the League, the big challenge is to stay healthy.  But this is by far the deepest and most talented team Marvin Lewis has ever had in Cincinnati.  Look for this team to have a big time year and play deep into the postseason.

So there you have.  The AFC North will be brutal as usual and will be represented in the playoffs by both the Bengals and Ravens like last year.  The only real question in this division is can the opposing secondaries handle the deep threats of the Bengals and Ravens?  We will begin to find out come September.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze