Tag Archives: Playoffs

“Kaminsky’s NFL Wildcard Preview”

Today we are in for a special treat.  Over the Holiday Break, “TheSportsKraze” added a new writer out of Philadelphia.  His name is Wesley Kaminsky.

Wesley is a sports expert and journalist out of Philadelphia that writes for Bleacher Report.  You can check out all of his work at  http://bleacherreport.com/users/88810-wesley-kaminsky or follow his twitter @Wesley_Kaminsky

The 2010 NFL regular season is in the books, and it was one of the most interesting, unpredictable seasons to date. In the NFC, there is no clear-cut favorite as to who will be heading to the Super Bowl, unlike the AFC, where the Patriots appear to be on a mission.

Here are some questions for every game this weekend.

Can the Seahawks keep it close against the Saints?

Will Mark Sanchez out-duel Peyton Manning?

Can the Chiefs’ running attack beat the Ravens?

Our very own, Wesley Kaminsky, has Mark Sanchez (pictured above) and the Jets taking care of business against the Indianpolis Colts this weekend.

Will the Packers prove they are as good as people think they are?

Game 1: New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks, 4:30 EST on NBC (Saturday)

The first game of the weekend features the 11-5 Saints traveling to Seattle to play the 7-9 Seahawks, who snuck into the playoffs thanks to their win over the Rams.

Yep, you are reading this correctly. A team with a losing record has made the playoffs, while the Giants and Buccaneers, both 10-6, are on the outside looking in.

Do the Seahawks have a chance in this game?

For the Seahawks to win this game, their defense will have to play its best game of the season, and either Matt Hasselbeck or Charlie Whitehurst will also have to play his best game of the season.

One big problem though: The Seahawks rank 27th in the league in total defense and 28th in the league in total offense.

It doesn’t matter which quarterback starts; the Seahawks will need a miracle to win this game.

As I’ve mentioned, the NFC is wide open, and the Saints have their sights set on a Super Bowl return. With an offense as explosive as theirs and a defense that forces turnovers, they have all the pieces to make a run to Dallas.

These two teams met in Week 11 in New Orleans with the Saints winning 34-19. It will be no different here—the Saints will cruise to victory.

Fearless Forecast: Saints 34, Seahawks 17

Game 2: New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts, 8:00 EST on NBC (Saturday)

The second game of the weekend is an AFC Championship Game rematch from last season between the Jets and the Colts. Last year, the Colts took down the Jets 30-17 on their way to the Super Bowl, but now it’s the Jets’ turn to get revenge.

Although the Colts won the AFC South, something just doesn’t seem right with them, and they are struggling to win games. They struggle in two major categories: running the ball and stopping the run. They rank 25th in the NFL in rush defense, giving up 127 yards a game, and 29th in the NFL in rushing, with just 92.7 yards a game.

Is that a cause for concern? Sure, it was in the regular season, but it’s a whole new season now, and remember 2006, when the Colts figured out how to stop the run on their way to a Super Bowl title?

From the offseason on, this season has been a circus for the New York Jets. Between Hard Knocks and Sal Alosi tripping Nolan Carroll, the Jets have become one of the most arrogant, hated teams in the whole league.

Are they good enough to win in Indianapolis? Sure they are. Just like they did last year in the playoffs to reach the AFC Championship Game, the Jets will pound the ball and try to wear you down with their defense. For them to win this game, though, Mark Sanchez is going to have to outplay Peyton Manning, and there are not too many people who believe he can.

I’ve been one of the biggest Jets haters all season long, and it pains me to say this, but I like the Jets’ chances in this one. The Jets win here and set up a rematch in New England with the Patriots.

Fearless Forecast: Jets 23, Colts 20

Game 3: Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 EST on CBS (Sunday)

To kick things off on Sunday, the Ravens’ scary defense will try to contain the Chiefs’ rushing attack of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.

Do I think the Chiefs will win? No. They have a chance though, and I’ll tell you why.

To win in the playoffs, you need to have a good rushing attack, which the Chiefs do have. They led the league in rushing in the regular season, averaging 164.2 yards per game.

This is highlighted by Jamaal Charles’ ridiculous stat of 6.4 yards per carry. He is as explosive a player as we have in the league today, and as long as the Ravens can stop him, they will be in good shape. That’s easier said than done, however.

In addition to Charles, Matt Cassel will need to play his best football for the Chiefs to have any chance in this game. Cassel is coming off his worst game of the season, in which he went 11-of-33 for 115 yards and two interceptions. Don’t let that fool you into thinking Cassel isn’t capable of leading the Chiefs to a win, because he sure is. This season, he finished with 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, hooking up with Dwayne Bowe not once, not twice, but 15 times for a touchdown.

The Ravens won’t be taking the Chiefs lightly; they know this won’t be easy. Similar to the Chiefs, the Ravens have a nice rushing attack, led by Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, and a defense that is always scary. Would you want to be stared down by Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed? I didn’t think so.

The Chiefs may keep it close for a little bit, but I expect the Ravens to pull away and advance to the second round.

Fearless Forecast: Ravens 27, Chiefs 13

Game 4: Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles, 4:30 EST on Fox (Sunday)

The final game of the weekend is perhaps the one everyone is looking forward to. The Eagles and the Packers, two high-powered offenses, will square off in a rematch from Week 1. This time, though, things are a little different than the first time around.

When Kevin Kolb went down with a concussion thanks to a hit from Clay Matthews, the Eagles’ season was forever changed. Michael Vick came in, looking sharp and nearly bringing the Eagles back from a 27-10 deficit. That was enough for Andy Reid to see, and Vick was named the starting quarterback of the Eagles.

Now Vick gets his chance to do what the Eagles couldn’t do in Week 1: Beat the Packers in Philly.

The Packers come into this game having won their last two games and are being deemed the most dangerous team in the NFC. With Aaron Rodgers playing at a high level and a defense that ranks fifth in the league, this Packers team is scary. Vick has struggled to handle the blitz recently, and the Packers will try to swarm him like the Bears, Giants (for three quarters) and the Vikings did.

If the Eagles want to win this game, they will need to run the football more. The Eagles have strayed from the run, and it doesn’t make much sense why. LeSean McCoy is averaging 5.2 yards per carry but is getting just 13 rushes a game. To win in the playoffs you are going to need to run the ball, and the Eagles can do it, but don’t. Vick is hurting, and he won’t be able to do it all.

The Packers, since losing Ryan Grant in Week 1, have struggled to run the football as well; they rank 24th in the NFL with 100.4 yards per game.

The difference in this game, though, will be which defense can step up and make the big plays, and I think the Packers will do that.

It is tough for me to say this as an Eagles fan, but I think the Packers are simply the better team and will beat the Eagles for the second time this season.

Fearless Forecast: Packers 28, Eagles 24

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 17 Predictions”

Aaron Rodgers (pictured on the right) looks to lead the Packers in a "must win" game against the rival Bears while Brett Favre (pictured on the left) appears to be entering his final Sunday as an NFL Quarterback.

We have reached the culmination of regular season play in the NFL.  It is very hard to believe, but we have reached Week 17.  Closing time baby.  What a year it has been.  Full of many highs and many lows.  There have been plenty of disappointments.  Just ask Dallas, Minnesota, and Cincinnati.  There have been many surprises.  See St. Louis, Kansas City, and Philadelphia.  And there have been the usual suspects (Patriots).

Still many questions linger though. Will Tom Brady win the MVP?  Who will represent the NFC West in the playoffs?  We will find all of that out and more come Sunday.

Lets take a look at the Pick’em scoreboard.

TheSportsKraze:   136            CV3: 141

Can I catch CV3 during this final week? I will have to make up some serious ground come Sunday.

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Bengals at Ravens:  A good old-fashioned AFC North tussle.  Sadly this game has lost a lot of its luster due to the Bengals vastly underachieving this season and due to the lack of the TOcho-Show suiting up for this game.  Though Cincinnati has looked very good these past two weeks, it will not be enough against a Raven’s team looking to win the AFC North outright.  Baltimore’s balance on both sides of the ball will prove too much for the Bengals and send Cincinnati home with their 12th loss of the season.  Ravens by 3 at home in a tight one.

Panthers at Falcons:  This game is an interesting matchup.  It pits the NFL’s worst team versus perhaps the best team in all of football.  Not to mention the Falcons are an outstanding when in their friendly confines of the Georgia Dome.  You better believe that the Falcons would love to clinch that number 1 seed in the NFC.  No resting the big guns on this day.  Atlanta, led by their offensive stars Matty “Ice” Ryan, Roddy “talk too much” White, and Michael Turner will provide loss number 14 for a horrible Carolina team.  Falcons by 9 at home.

Steelers at Browns:  One of the NFL’s best rivalries adds another chapter come Sunday.  Though Cleveland has shown some improvement this year and a very strong rushing attack, it will not be enough against a Steeler’s team that is superior in every facet of the game.  Not to mention Pittsburgh knows how to win ball games.  Look for Pittsburgh to win this game with ease behind their tenacious defense. Steelers by 9 on the road.

Vikings at Lions:  So Brett finally received his big punishment.  A whopping $50,000.  This is equivalent to 4.5 minutes of game playing time for mighty #4.  What a joke.  At least it appears his career will be over finally after Sunday.  It has been a horrible year in Minnesota and they have really underachieved, but at least they can begin looking towards next season after a game with their long time foe, Detroit.  The Lions on the other hand have been a pleasant surprise, and have won 3 consecutive games.  Well expect that number to move to 4 on Sunday. Detroit will win a close one by 3 due to their outstanding passing attack featuring the one and only Calvin Johnson.

Raiders at Chiefs: Kansas City has already clinched the AFC West.  A shocker for sure.  But definitely a very strong team that can run the ball as well as anybody.  I fully expect KC to come ready to play, but I also expect the Raiders to be on their “A” game.  Oakland is looking to end the year on a high note and end up 500 for the season.  This will be a game won on the ground. The Chiefs have already won the division and are not really playing for much.  Oakland is looking to end on a high note.  Raiders by 1 on the road in a great game.

Dolphins at Patriots:  It is Miami’s lucky day.  New England has clinched home field throughout and will most likely sit the majority of their starters.  Miami on the other hand is looking to bounce back from embarrassing losses to the Bills and the Lions.  Sadly for Miami, the Patriots are just too good.  Even their 2nd and 3rd stringers.  There is a winning mentality in Foxborough.  Do not expect the Pats to drop a game at home any time soon.  Patriots by 7 at home.

Buccaneers at Saints:  This is one of those games that has a whole lot of meaning.  Tampa is fighting for their playoff lives while the Saints are riding high after knocking off the dirty birds in ATL.  Now the defending champs could gain home field throughout the playoffs.  You better believe that Brees and company will be ready to roll.  It will be a season sweep over the Buccaneers, who earlier this season proclaimed themselves as the “NFC’s Best Team.”  Too bad they will not even make the playoffs. Saints by 7 at home.

Jets at Bills:  The Jets have already clinched a Wild Card and probably will rest a good deal of starters, but that will not stop them from taking care of business in Buffalo.  The Bills are one of the worst teams in the NFL, and showed that last week in getting absolutely pounded by NE.  Buffalo is the worst in the League at stopping the run and the Jets are one of the League’s best rushing squads.  Jets by 6 on the road.

Chargers at Broncos:  Two teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention.  I will admit that I was highly disappointed in San Diego.  They are a team that I, along with many expected to win the AFC West for a 5th straight year.  It didn’t happen.  Now they are looking to end the year above 500.  I guess good stats do not always correlate to a successful season.  San Diego all year has been in the top 2 in the League in both overall offense and defense.  It didn’t matter.  In this game though, stats won’t matter yet again. But San Diego will win this one just based on their raw talent.  Chargers by 9 on the road.

Bears at Packers:  This may be the matchup of the Week.  Green Bay is holding on for their playoff lives, while Chicago is looking to gain home field in the playoffs.  These are two very good teams that are still playing for something.  The difference is Green Bay is playing for more.  Expect the Cheeseheads to come out smoking like they did last game against New York and shred a very strong Bears defense.  Rodgers and the Packers will avenge a tough Week 3 loss to their rivals by 3 in front of a raucous home crowd.

Titans at Colts:  Indianapolis will most likely need to win this game to maintain their playoff hopes.  Peyton doesn’t know how to miss out on the playoffs.  Not to mention they are playing in front of a home crowd.  Chris Johnson and the Titans have looked tough at times this season, but their inconsistency has been far too much to overcome. Not to mention that Tennessee has sported one of the worst secondaries in the NFL all year. Indy by 10 at home.

Cowboys at Eagles:  In the preseason, I picked the Cowboys to win the NFC East and the Eagles to finish in the cellar.  I was wrong.  Since the departure of Wade Phillips, Dallas has played inspired football.  Philadelphia blew a major opportunity at home field advantage on Tuesday.  This week it appears that Vick will not be playing.  No Vick equals no victory.  Plus the Eagles are not really playing for anything.  Cowboys by 3 on the road.

Cardinals at 49ers:  The NFC West has been absolutely horrible.  Both of these teams have underachieved.  Take your pick of the two bottom dwellers in the NFL’s worst division.  I will take San Fran in the post Mike Singletary era by 6 at home.

Giants at Redskins:  A good old-fashioned NFC East battle.  Washington’s season may be over, but you better believe that they would love nothing more than to spoil any hope that their rival has at making the playoffs.  Sadly for Washington though, they have struggled defensively all year.  Not to mention they never developed an effective rushing attack.  Expect New York to come to play.  Giants by 10 on the road.

Jaguars at Texans:  Many thought that the AFC South would be a 2 team race between the Colts and the Texans.  Many were wrong.  Jacksonville is the team battling Peyton and Co.  Jacksonville has a very strong rushing attack and has had a solid year where they have vastly exceeded expectations.  But I will state that Houston, despite its less than flattering record is still a very dangerous team. Sorry Jacksonville, the pressure got to you.  The Jaguars will lose this one, ending any playoff hopes that they were clinging to.  Houston by 7 at home.

Rams at Seahawks:  This is the NFC West Championship game.  Talk about some excitement in Seattle. Who will get to represent the NFL’s worst division in this year’s playoffs?  It has been an uphill battle all year for this abysmal division. The battle for the divisional crown will come to an end on this day though.  I am taking the rookie Sam Bradford to lead his Rams to the playoffs.  Who picked STL preseason?  Rams by 3 on the road.

CV3 Picks:

Bengals over Ravens by 3

Falcons over Panther by 10

Steelers over Browns by 6

Vikings over Lions by 6

Chiefs over Raiders by 1 (Stay undefeated at home)

Patriots over Dolphins by 21

Saints over Buccaneers by 10

Jets over Bills by 8

Broncos over Chargers by 5

Packers over Bears by 3

Colts over Titans by 17

Eagles over Cowboys by 3

49ers over Cardinals by 10

Giants over Redskins by 7

Jaguars over Texans by 6

Rams over Seahawks by 10

So there you have it.  It has been a wild year in the NFL as we head into the final Sunday.  You better believe that a crazy playoffs is forthcoming.  Lets hope that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) gets settled in time so that we get to enjoy all of this yet again next year.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“MVP of Christmas Day?”

Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant (pictured above), wowed a national audience today with a 44 point performance. Is this guy in the same elite class as Kobe Bryant and Lebron James?

Christmas is always one of the most special days of the year.  A day of giving.  A day of reflection.  A day of family time.  But it is also always a day of big time NBA basketball.  And this year had the makings of being one of the all time greatest Christmas Days of NBA Action.  So the games did not exactly pan out to be as close and exciting as expected.  There were some big time performances though.

Some of the League’s main MVP candidates put their talents on display for the whole world to see.  In the early game, the Knicks sported their traditional “festive (green)” Christmas jerseys.  They put on a show and brought home a victory for the jam-packed Madison Square Garden crowd.  Two of the League’s top MVP candidates took part in this one. 

Derrick Rose

Rose almost willed his “Noahless” team to victory by filling up the stat sheet.  He had 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists.  It was quite the performance.  Sadly though, he put up 28 shots and committed 7 turnovers.  It was an impressive performance.  And the 22-year-old out of Memphis continues to wow me with his improvement each time I see him.  But I give him a C+ on the day.  This is due to the fact that not only did his team lose, but he committed nearly as many turnovers as assists, and he shot well below 50 percent from the floor.

Amare Stoudemire

This guy is definitely in the discussion to take home the MVP hardware at this point in the season.  He is absolutely lighting up the stat sheet.  Today was no different as he put up yet another double/double.  20 points to go with 10 boards and a Knick’s victory is a solid day.  He did not exactly wow the crowd with his lowest scoring effort in some time, but he did do enough to lead his team to another victory.  I give him a B on the day.  An above average performance, but no wow factor.

Game two was a very hotly anticipated matchup.  It pitted two teams that have duked it out for the East the past couple of years.  Though neither of these teams have a sure-fire MVP candidate, they demonstrate the importance of team basketball as well as anybody.

Kevin Garnett

KG is not the force that we all once knew.  The guy can still play defense as well as any guy in the League though, and today he showed some of his old school offensive prowess.  Garnett shot a very efficient 10 of 14 from the floor and finished with 22 points.  7 above his regular season average.  I give the guy a B+ for the day’s work.  He played above average, but his team lost for the first time in 14 games.

Brandon Bass

How many of you had heard of this guy before today’s game?  If you were not a Magic fan, you probably had no idea who this kid out of LSU was.  Boy did he show up to play today.  Bass shot 8 of 15 from the floor and finished with 21 points to go with 9 boards.  Bass averages just 11 points and 5 boards a game.  This kid had the best game of his career.  He was a main reason why Orlando picked up their biggest victory of the season.  I give the kid an A for the day.

Game 3 was the most anticipated game of the entire season thus far in my eyes.  All of the talk around the NBA has centered on the Miami Heat since July.  The Lakers are the two-time defending champs yet nobody has been talking about them.  This matchup featured the likes of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Chris Bosh, and Lamar Odom.  Sadly, this game was way overhyped.  LA forgot that they had a basketball game today.  They did the same thing last Christmas in a showdown with Cleveland.  Did it affect the final outcome?

Lebron James

I will admit that I am not the biggest fan of the “King.”  But the guy really played an outstanding game today.  Plus he kept his composure while a pesky Ron Artest did everything he could to throw him off.  James went 8 of 14 from the floor and shot an amazing 5 of 6 from 3 point range.  Who says LBJ cannot shoot from the perimeter?  Plus James ended up with the first triple/double every recorded on Christmas Day. Nobody can fill the full stat sheet like the King.  27 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and 4 steals.  Give me a break.  Plus his team won on the road by 16.  I give the guy an A+.

Kobe Bryant

It is very hard to choose a most valuable player for LA on this day.  Nobody brought their A game, much less their B game.  But Kobe has been the rock of this franchise for some time now.  And he did have the best numbers on the day.  Bryant finished with 17 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds.  He really never got a rhythm going though.  Could it have been Miami’s outstanding defensive effort?  Could it have been the lack of production from his supporting cast?  Whatever it was, I give Kobe a D- on the day.  Do not take this game as an indicator of things to come though.  The Lakers know how to win when they need to.  Today was an off day.  It also could serve as a wake up call.

The 4th game of the day was another big time matchup.  A Nuggets team that has been around the block versus a young and very talented Oklahoma City Thunder team.  Plus this was probably the last Christmas that fans would get to watch Carmelo in a Nuggets uniform.  Sadly, Carmelo did not play.

Chauncey Billups

This guy has been one of the best big game players in the NBA for over a decade now.  He just always comes to play when he is put on the big stage.  Well today was no different.  The former Piston’s star finished with 30 points, on 10 of 16 shooting.  Plus he was a perfect 7 of 7 from the charity stripe.  The guy did everything in his power to give his injury riddled team a chance to win.  It just was not in the cards tonight.  I will give him a B+.

Kevin Durant

This guy may be the best player in the NBA now.  After watching Kobe, Lebron, and Kevin Durant today, it is hard to not consider this guy in the same elite class.  The guy has become the face of this franchise that is all the sudden looking like a contender.  44 points on 14 of 20 shooting?  Absolutely outrageous.  This guy is leading the League in scoring for a reason.  He is the leader of the most exciting team to watch in the NBA.  Today he just continued to do what he has been doing all year.  I give the guy an A+.

Recap

To conclude my thoughts on the first 4 games today, Kevin Durant is my MVP.  With Lebron James in a very close second.  If you have not gotten to watch Durant play a full game this year, tune in next time they are on national television.  He has hit that elite level and is a joy to watch.  Lastly, I will state that the Heat put on the best overall team performance this afternoon.  I know that the Magic’s win over Boston was huge, but they did not exude dominance the way that the South Beach boys did.  Miami looked awesome.  And believe me, ABC Sports Analyst Jeff Van Gundy will make sure you know it.  This guy hated the Heat 10 years ago.  What happened?  LA will be fine though.  They will work out the kinks just like they have in past years.  I still have the Lakers winning the title.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 16 Predictions”

After a heartbreaking loss last week to Philadelphia, New York Giant's quarterback Eli Manning (pictured above), leads the G Men into a must win game at Lambeau.

It is Week 16 baby.  Closing time is near.  The playoff picture is starting to become clearer.  There are plenty of teams that have basically closed up shop and are looking ahead to next season.  But there are still a good few teams fighting for their playoff lives. 

Lets take a look at the Pick’em Scoreboard.

TheSportsKraze:   131                  CV3:  134

I am still 3 back on the great CV3.  Is there any way I can finally catch him during these final two weeks? 

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Cowboys at Cardinals:  NFL action on Christmas?  After a day full of NBA games, the ratings might not be top-notch for this affair, but a good amount of people will still tune in.  In the “Post Wade Phillips Era,” the Cowboys offense has scored 30 plus points every game.  It has been an impressive offensive outburst for Jerry Jone’s squad.  Maybe Jon Kitna is not so bad?  The Cardinals on the other hand are coming off of a loss to perhaps football’s worst team, the Carolina Panthers.  Expect Dallas to shred a very weak Arizona defense all night.  Cowboys by 9 on the road.

Patriots at Bills:  The Patriots have appeared nearly unstoppable over the past month and a half.  Winners of 6 straight, no team has held the potent Pat’s offense under 30 points since the beginning of November.  Do not expect that to change in Buffalo.  Sure the Bills have won 2 straight games, but they have not played a team the caliber of NE.  Good luck slowing down Brady, Welker, Branch, and Woodhead.  Patriots by 9 in most likely atrocious Buffalo weather.

Jets at Bears:  This is one of Week 16’s best matchups.  Though the Bears have already clinched a divisional title, they are still playing for seeding.  Home games in a cold Chicago could be a major advantage in postseason play.  The Jets on the other hand answered their critics with a huge victory in Pittsburgh last week.  Can they answer the critics for a second straight week?  This will be an old-fashioned defensive struggle at Soldier Field.  The difference in this one will be New York’s ability to run the ball effectively against anyone.  Jets by 3 on the road in a very exciting game.

Ravens at Browns:  The Ravens look to keep pace with the Steelers atop the AFC North as they head to face their bitter rival, Cleveland.  You better believe that this will be a cold and physical affair.  Is Peyton Hillis ready to take on the Raven’s mighty defense?  If the Ravens can stop the run, they will win this game.  And my money is on Baltimore to stop the Brown’s solid rushing attack.  Sadly, Cleveland is about to experience their first 3 game losing streak since they started the season on a 3 game skid.  Ravens by 7 on the road.

Titans at Chiefs:  The Titans ended their horrific 6 game losing streak with authority against the Texans last week.  The Chiefs on the other hand look to remain atop the AFC West.  After a huge victory over the Rams, the Chiefs remain a game ahead of a hot Charger’s team.  Can they hold on to their lead?  I am going to go out on a limb and pick the Chiefs to choke away this one.  The Titans have struggled this year.  But with Chris Johnson, they have a guy who can score on any play.  Look for CJ to give KC a little taste of their own medicine.  And run the Chief’s defense ragged all day.  I got the Titans shocking KC by 1 on the road. 

49ers at Rams:  This is San Francisco’s last chance.  If they want any hope of salvaging their season, this is a must win.  Can they make good on their team owner’s promise of the season not being over when the team struggled to an 0 and 5 start?  I think they can.  St. Louis has had a season where they have exceeded expectations in a big way.  Sam Bradford has been even better than advertised.  There is no logic to why I am picking the 49ers.  But I think they will make this NFC West fiasco turn into a photo finish with a victory in this one.  49ers by 3 on the road.

Lions at Dolphins:  Detroit has shocked the world over the past couple of weeks.  Knocking off the likes of a tough Packers team and a solid Buccaneers team.  Can they keep rolling as they head to Miami?  I think so.  Miami has struggled at home this year for some odd reason.  Detroit is playing their best football.  Look for the Lions to continue their late push with a 3 point victory in Miami.

Redskins at Jaguars:  Washington has lost 4 straight games and Jacksonville just let Indianapolis back into the picture.  Neither team is very happy heading into this rumble in Jacksonville.  Sadly for the Jags, it appears Maurice Jones-Drew will not be suiting up.  Without MJD, the Jaguar’s offense will have to rely on its less that stellar passing attack.  Luckily for them, Washington has a very weak secondary.  This will be an ugly game in every sense of the word.  I do expect the Jags to survive and conquer by 3 though.

Colts at Raiders:  Peyton and the boys are once again full of life after a huge victory over divisional foe, Jacksonville last week.  Indy is a team that strictly relies on a lethal passing attack.  The Raiders are the polar opposite, placing all of their offensive stress on the ground attack.  Old school vs new school.  I am taking the new school.  As long as Indy has Peyton Manning under center, it is very hard to pick against the Colts in any must win game.  Colts by 7 on the road.

Texans at Broncos:  Two teams whose seasons are long over.  Back to the drawing board.  Just based on raw talent, the Texans are an obvious choice to win this game.  Denver’s horrific defense will struggle with the Texan’s balanced offensive attack.  I expected much bigger things from the team out of Houston.  But I still go them winning this game.  Texans by 7 in Denver.

Chargers at Bengals:  Teams heading in very different directions.  Both of these teams were favorites in their respective divisions heading into the season.  Cincy got off to a decent start while San Diego got off to their normal very slow start.  Following a Week 3 win, the Bengals then went on to lose 10 straight games.  Even though the losing streak is finally over for the Who Deys, the bleeding is not. The Chargers will demonstrate their great balance in every aspect of the game.  The real question in Cincinnat is who will they draft and which players/coaches will return.  Chargers by 9 on the road.

Giants at Packers:  This is possibly the biggest game of the week with respect to the NFC Playoff picture.  Two teams fighting for their respective playoff lives.  The Giants possibly suffered their most heartbreaking loss in franchise history last Sunday.  The Packers on the other hand, almost shocked the Patriots without their starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.  These are two teams that are very solid in all facets of the game.  It is a toss-up.  I am going out on a limb and taking the heartbroken Giants by 1 on the road.

Seahawks at Buccaneers:  This is a must win for the Buccaneers.  So was last week’s game vs the Lions.  Can the Buccaneers redeem themselves?  I think that they can, but it will not matter.  I see the Buccaneers just missing out on the playoffs even with a win over Seattle on Sunday.  Bucs by 7 at home.

Vikings at Eagles:  Will Brett Favre play?  Who really cares.  Philadelphia is flying high behind their outstanding offensive attack.  Expect to see the Eagles continue to fly high, with a big victory at home.  Eagles by 12.

Saints at Falcons:  Battle for the NFC South.  Roddy White has made it publicly known that his team will be ready.  The Falcons have won 8 straight games.  New Orleans had won 6 straight until they traveled to Baltimore on Sunday.  I would pick the defending champs if this game was being played in NOLA.  But it isn’t.  Atlanta does not lose at home with Matt Ryan behind center.  Falcons by 1 at home.

CV3 Picks:

Pats over Bills by 9
Jets over Bears by 10
Ravens over Browns by 3
Titans over Chiefs by 6
Rams over 49ers by 10
Lions over Dolphins by 6
Jags over Redskins by 10
Raiders over Colts by 7
Texans over Broncos by 8
Packers over Giants by 9
Bucs over Seahawks by 10
Eagles over Vikings by 21
Bengals over Chargers by 1
Falcons over Saints by 3

It is crunch time in the NFL now.  This week will make or break many team’s playoff hopes.  Most teams are looking to do all in their power to clinch a spot in the postseason heading into Week 17.  Enjoy the great matchups highlighted by a big time Monday Night Affair between the Saints and Falcons.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 14 Predictions”

New England QB, Tom Brady (pictured above), has without question been the MVP through 14 weeks of play. Can he lead the Patriots to an 11th victory against a tough Chicago team on Sunday?

Welcome to NFL Week 14.  This is the time of year when the real colors show up.  Who are the real Super Bowl contenders?  The Falcons appear to have flown to the top of the NFC and are now the favorites.  In the NFC West, the Rams, led by rookie stud, Sam Bradford, are currently in first.  And the Patriots once again have risen to the top of the AFC.

Lets take a look at the Pick’em Scoreboard.

TheSportsKraze:  114                        CV3: 118

Sadly, I did not make up any games on the tenacious CV3.  Can I begin the comeback trek this week?

Browns at Bills:  The Bills were traditionally a powerhouse in the mid 90s while the Browns have been in the crapper for some time.  That is not the case this year.  Cleveland has won 2 straight games, and are coming off a big time road victory in South Beach.  I got two words for Buffalo fans. “Peyton Hillis.”  Sure the Cleveland bruiser was slowed by a tough Dolphin’s defensive front.  Well this week Hillis gets to stack up against the worst rush defense in the NFL.  Expect the Browns to ride their bruising back to a 7 point victory in bitterly cold Buffalo.

Bengals at Steelers:  One of football’s best rivalries will add another chapter on Sunday at Heinz Field.  Sadly this year, the Bengals are having possibly the most disappointing year of any team in the League.  Cincinnati has not won a game since September 26th.  Do not expect that to change Sunday against the Steeler’s outstanding defense.  Cincy may make it close, but sadly, I do not see the Who Deys pulling off the upset.  Pittsburgh by 6 at home.

Packers at Lions:  Both of these teams live and die on the pass.  Sadly for Detroit though, they have not figured out a way to win close games this season.  In order to beat Green Bay, you have to be able to win a tight game.  Ford Field will witness a 6th straight loss as Aaron Rodgers shreds a mediocre Lion’s defense.  Packers by 5 over the Try’n Lions.

Giants at Vikings:  In the preseason, this appeared to be one of those games that would go a long way towards determining the NFC playoff picture.  The G Men have won 2 straight games and looked awesome last week against the Skins.  The Vikings on the other hand looked great last week.  Granted they were playing against the Bills.  Can they pull off the upset at home over NY?  All logic points towards the Giants winning this one.  But I got the Vikings playing inspired football as they have nothing to lose.  Vikes by 1 at home in a wild one.

Buccaneers at Redskins:  The Redskins have gone from good, to mediocre, to horrible.  They are on a downward trend.  Sadly for them, the schedule does not get any easier this week against a pretty solid Tampa team.  I think there will be two key determining factors in this one.  First of all, McNabb has struggled with the turnover bug lately.  Josh Freeman has been a pretty good game manager.  Secondly, Tampa can run the ball effectively.  The Skins can not.  These will be the difference as Tampa wins by 3 in DC.

Falcons at Panthers:  This week’s most lopsided matchup.  The NFC’s best vs the NFC’s worst.  Carolina has lost 6 straight games.  Number 7 is on the way.  Atlanta will continue to fly behind an outstanding offensive attack and a stingy defense.  The ATL boys by 14 in a blowout.

Raiders at Jaguars:  Both of these team are coming off big time victories last weekend and are still right in the thick of things in their divisional races.  In addition both of these teams run the ball with great effectiveness, yet struggle with their aerial attacks.  Maurice Jones-Dream vs Darren McFadden.  Who you got?  I am going with MJD and the Jags at home.  Jaguars by 3 at home in a very exciting game that goes down to the wire.

Seahawks at 49ers:  A good old-fashioned battle between a pair of NFC West rivals.  Can the Seahawks keep pace with the Rams?  Or will the 49ers wreck the day as they look to make a run of their own?  Look for SF to bounce back in a big way after a disappointing lost to the Cheeseheads last week.  Neither of these squads do anything especially well.  But I expect the 49ers to come out motivated in front of the home crowd and nab the divisional victory.  49ers by 6 at home.

Rams at Saints:  If you would have asked me about this game during the preseason, I would have laughed.  I would have said, you got the NFC’s best team at home vs possibly the worst team in all of football.  Give me a break.  Ironically, the Rams are leading their division, while the Saints are in 2nd in the NFC South.  The Rams are playing solid football behind their fearless rookie QB, Sam Bradford.  Sadly, it will not be enough though against a Saints team that has now won 5 straight.  Too much offense from the defending champs who have put up 30 plus in 4 straight games.  Saints by 10 at home.

Dolphins at Jets:  The Dolphins are a solid team.  They play solid football on both sides of the ball.  Sadly for them, they have to face a very talented Jets team coming off of a horrific loss on Monday Night Football.  Can you say redemption time?  New York will come out with a chip on their shoulder and show the world that last week was a fluke.  The Jets are the real deal, and will demonstrate this with an easy victory at home.  Jets by 11.

Broncos at Cardinals:  Both of these teams are in the midst of horrible years.  They have a combined 6 wins between them.  Their years are over and they are already looking ahead to next year.  Now the Broncos have been bad in losing 3 straight games, but they are have not been nearly as bad as the Cardinals, who have now lost 7 straight games.  Expect the 2 month losing streak to continue as the Denver boys play inspired football behind a new coach.  Broncos by 3 on the road.

Chiefs at Chargers:  Welcome to the AFC West.  This game means a ton for both teams in their hopes to make the playoffs.  The Chargers had been on a tear until last week’s setback against the Raiders.  KC on the other hand has answered the call of a rising SD team and has won 3 straight games.  Both of these teams get the job done in very different ways.  KC lives on a lethal two-headed rushing attack, while the Chargers air it out better than any team in the League.  This is a pass first League now right?  Chargers by 3 at home.

Patriots at Bears:  The Jets are the frontrunners in the AFC East?  Give me a break.  New England showed the world who the real favorite was on the big Monday Night stage.  This Pats team has been rolling behind monster numbers from their QB, Tom Brady.  Well this week they take on one of the NFC’s best.  No problem right?  Chi Town’s finest has won 5 straight games and currently sit atop the NFC North.  Can they handle the Patriot’s potent offensive attack?  I don’t think so.  Pats by 3 in a barn burner at Soldier Field.

Eagles at Cowboys:  A bitter NFC East rivalry is renewed.  Many envisioned the Cowboys sitting atop this division a few months ago.  Many were wrong.  The Michael Vick led Eagles are currently tied for first, while the Cowboys sit in last.  Can they contain Vick and the potent Eagle’s offense?  Well they gave up 35 points last week to the Colts.  Yet they still won in Indy.  I am going out on a limb and taking the Boys at home to shock the Eagles.  Cowboys by 1.

Ravens at Texans: The Monday Night Affair pits two of the AFC’s most talented groups.  Baltimore is coming off of a devastating 3 point loss at the hands of the Black and Yellow boys last week, while the Texans were “Michael Vicked” by the Eagles.  Though this game is in Texas, I expect Baltimore to display a sense of urgency and really shut down a potent Texan’s offensive attack.  Ravens by 3 on the road.

CV3 Picks:

Browns over Bills by 3
Packers over Lions by 9
Giants over Vikings by 10 (Vikings haven’t beaten a good team yet)
Bucs over Skins by 3
Falcons over Panthers by 14
Saints over Rams by 7
Jags over Raiders by 9 (Battle of two teams that know how to run the ball)
Seahawks over 49ers by 1
Bears over Patriots by 3 (Will the Pats be prepared after a hyped up Monday night win)
Jets over Dolphins by 9 (The only thing buried in this game may be the Phins)
Broncos over Cards by 5
Chargers over Chiefs by 17
Eagles over Cowboys by 7
Ravens over Texans by 1 (Monday night thriller)
Bengals over Steelers by 6 (Big Ben with one Pick 6 and the Bengals hold on to the ball this time)

So there you have a look at this week’s games.  Hard to believe that it is already Week 14.  But realize there is no full slate of College Football games this weekend.  So make sure to savor Sunday.  It is the one full day of football we will get this week.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 13 Predictions”

Welcome to Week 13.  We are entering the final quarter stretch.  3 of the AFC

Can Big Ben (pictured above) lead the Steelers to a huge victory over their divisional rival Baltimore on Sunday Night despite foot injuries?

Divisions have ties at the top.  The NFC West leader has a record of under 500.  Plus the Vikings and Cowboys, 2 of the preseason favorites have a combined 7 victories.  Parity.  The NFL has it.  And you got to love it.

Here is a look at the Pick’em Scoreboard.

TheSportsKraze:  103                         CV3:  107

I still got a ways to go to catch Mr. CV3.

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Saints at Bengals:  The defending Champs head to Cincinnati to take on a struggling Bengal’s team.  This team has self destructed, and all parties involved are already looking towards next year.  The Saints are perhaps involved in the best divisional race that the NFC has to offer.  Expect Drew Brees and the phenomenal Saint’s aerial attack to pick apart a depleted Bengal’s secondary.  Saints by 10 on the road.

Bears at Lions:  Da Bears head to Ford Field to take on the 2 and 9 Lions.  These are two teams heading in very different directions.  The Bears have won 4 straight games and appear to really be coming together both offensively and defensively, while the Lions have lost 4 straight.  In addition, the Lions have not even really looked competitive the past couple of weeks.  It may be freezing in Detroit, but the Bears are going to continue rolling behind their stellar defense.  Bears by 7 on the road.

49ers at Packers:  Green Bay is doing all they can to keep up with Chicago and remain in the playoff picture while the 49ers have vaulted themselves back into the NFC West race.  After starting out 0 and 5, the 49ers are now 4 and 7, and just 1 game out of 1st place.  The 49ers have not really wowed me any respect all season though.  And with Frank Gore going down for the season, they will struggle in the tundra that will be Lambeau on Sunday.  The Packers need a win in a big way to stay in the playoff hunt and they will do just that in front of the home crowd.  Packers by 3 at home in a freeze bowl.

Jaguars at Titans:  Who would have thought that the Jaguars would be sitting atop the AFC South come December?  I know that I did not.  Jacksonville has looked very sharp lately, despite coming off a tough 4 point loss in New York last weekend.  The Titans on the other hand have dealt with much inner turmoil and are currently on a 4 game losing skid.  Well that skid ends this week as Jeff Fisher gets his team hyped, and lights a fire under Chris Johnson, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, and the entire Titan’s offense.  The race in the AFC South could involve 3 teams down the stretch.  Titans by 6 at home.

Broncos at Chiefs:  Times have changed.  And in a hurry.  The Broncos are now the AFC West bottom dwellers while the Chiefs sit at the top.  The Chiefs sport the best rushing attack in the League while the Broncos sport one of the worst.  In a cold weather atmosphere, running the ball efficiently is the key to success. The Chiefs are able to do this while the Broncos cannot.  Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones will be the difference in this game.  Chiefs by 7 at home.

Browns at Dolphins:  The Browns are playing good football.  Yes I said it.  The Browns are actually a team that can go out and beat most teams in this League.  Peyton Hillis, a former 3rd stringer at Arkansas (granted he was behind Darren McFadden and Felix Jones) is turning into one of the best backs in the League.  The Dolphins on the other hand are coming off a big time victory over a tough Raider’s team.  Conventional wisdom would point towards the Dolphins winning this game considering they are playing at home.  Oddly enough the Dolphins are just 1 and 4 at home this season.  Maybe the distraction of that South Beach Basketball All Stars has hindered their performance?  Whatever it is, I am taking the Brownies on the road by 3 in a great game.

Bills at Vikings:  The Bills have played very strong football lately and really should have beaten Pittsburgh last weekend.  The Vikings played better than they have played in a month in Washington last Sunday.  My gut is telling me to pick Buffalo in this one, but logically, I am thinking to go with the home team.  Expect Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, or whomever the Vikings throw in the backfield to have a field day.  Vikings by 3 at home.

Redskins at Giants:  This is a good old-fashioned NFC East throwdown.  In the division that sports the best rivalries in the NFL, there are no gimme games.  Sadly this year, the Giants appear to be far superior in every facet of the game.  I fully expect the Giant’s extremely balanced offensive attack to shred a Redskin’s defense that is lacking in all sorts of ways.  I got the Giants by 9 at home.

Raiders at Chargers:  After a very slow start, the Chargers leapfrogged the Raiders last weekend in the suddenly very competitive race in the AFC West.  Since a major victory in overtime over the Chiefs on November 7th, the Raiders have just looked abysmal.  The Chargers on the other hand have looked awesome since Halloween in winning 4 straight games.  And you better believe that the Chargers are looking for some payback from an October loss to the Oakland boys.  The Chargers will exploit a weak Raider’s running defense which will open up the pass for one of the best QB’s in football, Philip Rivers.  Chargers by 9 at home.

Panthers at Seahawks:  The Panthers are probably the worst team in  football.  They are in the midst of a 5 game losing streak, and do not appear to be making improvement in any facet of the game.  They can’t pass the ball.  They struggle running the ball.  And you better believe that they cannot stop the run.  The Seahawks on the other hand have not been much better in getting blown out the past two weeks. Call me crazy but I am taking Carolina on the road.  They are bound to win again sometime.  Panthers by 1 in Seattle. 

Falcons at Buccaneers:  Two of the NFC’s best will link up in Tampa this weekend.  The Bucs are coming off a tough loss to a very good Baltimore team and are looking to make a statement to the rest of the NFC.  And I will admit that their chances to pull off the upset improve dramatically in getting to play at home, but the Falcons appear to be just too strong all around to drop this one.  The Falcons are looking to remain atop the Saints in the NFC South and will put on a great performance in Tampa.  Roddy White will have a huge day against a weak Buccaneers secondary.  Falcons by 7 on the road.

Rams at Cardinals:  The Cardinals have lost 6 straight games and in the words of Derek Anderson, “This isn’t funny.”  Derek is right, but sadly for Arizona, they are playing a Rams team that continues to improve each week.  Even with Arizona at home, I got the Rams behind rookie Sam Bradford to keep rolling.  The NFC West is wide open folks.  Rams by 3 on the road.

Cowboys at Colts:  In September, this appeared to be a big time matchup where one of the NFC’s best would get to take on one of the AFC’s best.  Sadly, the Cowboys did not pan out the way people expected.  In addition, due to a plethora of injuries, the Colts have struggled more than people expected as well.  Well expect those struggles to end.  Peyton does not ever lose 3 games in a row.  Though I think this will be a very close and high scoring affair, I got Indy by 3 at home.

Steelers at Ravens:  What a matchup this will be.  It is almost as good as the Monday Night Affair.  The NFL got it right in scheduling the night games for this week.  This is probably the best combo of Sunday Night/Monday Night games we will get all year.  Both teams are rolling at the moment and are living large on their stellar defensive units.  Earlier this year, Pittsburgh fell in a very close game against the divisional rival Ravens.  You better believe that they still have that loss on their mind as they head into Sunday Night.  Expect the Steelers to play inspired football behind a banged up Ben Roethlisberger.  Steelers by 1 on the road.

Jets at Patriots:  This may be the best matchup of the entire season thus far.  These two teams realize the importance of this game in gaining a divisional title and possible home field advantage.  Both squads are extremely familiar with each other and have been rolling.  The Patriots have been winning behind an electric offense while the Jets have been relying on their great defensive unit and the timely big play offensively.  The Jets beat the Patriots at home earlier this season by 2 TDs.  Due to home field advantage and a chip on their shoulder from the earlier defeat, I got the Pats by 1 at home in a thriller.

CV3’s Picks:

Saints over Bungles by 16
Bears over Lions by 3
Pack over Niners by 10
Jags over Titans by 3
Chiefs over Broncos by 14
Dolphins over Browns by 1
Vikings over Bills by 17
Giants over Skins by 12
Chargers over Raiders by 2
Colts over Cowboys by 21
Rams over Cards by 7
Panthers over Seahawks by 8
Falcons over Bucs by 10
Steelers over Ravens by 10
Patriots over Jets by 14

This is just a great slate of games.  The AFC will be much clearer after this weekend.  The two night games are especially exciting though as both teams at the top of the AFC East and AFC North lock horns for divisional supremacy.  Can Rex Ryan outsmart the ultimate coach in Bill Belichick?  Who will survive the physical struggle that will ensue in Baltimore this weekend? 

He could go all the way..or could he?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 11 Predictions”

In the game of the week, Tom Brady (pictured above on the left) and Peyton Manning (pictured above on the right) go to battle in New England. Which super quarterback will lead his team to victory?

The NFL Season is nearing the final quarter of play.  No team has been a dominant force and most divisions are still up for grabs.  All of the insanity will begin to become clearer over the next couple of weeks.

The Bears continue to win behind an anemic offense.  The supposed best team in the NFC (the Giants), looks to redeem itself after getting smacked around by one of the NFC’s worst.  Michael Vick is playing like an MVP.  Plus the Oakland Raiders are tied for first place in the AFC West.  Wow is all I have to say.

Here is a look at the Pick’em Scoreboard.

TheSportskraze:    80                     CV3:  84

I still got a way to go to catch up with CV3’s expertise.

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Bills at Bengals:  Two of the AFC’s worst lock horns in Cincinnati.  Cincinnati is still kicking itself after another gut wrenching loss last Sunday.  The Bills are breathing a sigh of relief after finally joining the  one or more win club (not a very prestigious group).  Look for Cincinnati to demonstrate the potential that everyone envisioned this year with a brutal beating of Buffalo in front of the home crowd.  Also expect the Bengals to run all over Buffalo’s terrible run defense. Bengals by 13 at home.

Lions at Cowboys:  This is an intriguing game between a pair of 2 win teams.  The Lions have lost 5 games by 5 or fewer points this year.  They have shown big time potential and the Shaun Hill to Calvin Johnson connection is dangerous.  The Cowboys on the other hand played inspired football last Sunday under their new coach.  Look for more of the same this week as the Cowboys continue to show the League “What could have been.”  Cowboys by 9 at home.

Redskins at Titans:  Both of these teams are coming off getting whooped last week.  Both squads have been extremely inconsistent and hard to figure out.  Well the difficulty continues this week as I got to the Skins upsetting the Titans on the road by 3.  This will be one of the better games of the week, but expect Washington to stack the box and somewhat contain Chris Johnson.  Also expect Washington to  make the big play when they need it.  Skins by 1 on the road.

Cardinals at Chiefs:  The Cardinals are in the midst of a 4 game skid.  Well expect the streak to be at 5 after Sunday.  Arizona has been a mystery to me all season.  Sadly for the Cardinals, the Chiefs are coming off of two tough losses and plan on pounding the rock all afternoon against the Cardinal’s weak defensive unit.  Expect the Chiefs to run wild at Arrowhead on their way to a 8 point victory.

Packers at Vikings:  Before the season, this was definitely a date circled on most NFL fans’ calendars.  Another shot to watch two big time teams match up, with a plethora of underlying storylines.  Unfortunately, Minnesota has been an absolute circus this year and this game does not really hold a whole lot of meaning towards the playoffs.  Brett is struggling with injuries and the pass rush attack of Miss Jenn Sterger.  Expect the struggles to continue as the Cheeseheads complete the regular season sweep of the Vikes.  Packers by 6.

Texans at Jets:  These are two very quality teams.  Though the Texans do not have the most glamorous record, they are still a very dangerous team that will be in the playoff picture come Week 16 and 17.  The Jets are coming off a gut wrenching win in Cleveland where they had to pull out all the stops.  Good teams can win even when they do not play all that well.  The Jets are a very good team.  I expect their overall balance to be too much for Houston as the Texans stumble to 4 and 6.  Jets by 3 at home.

Raiders at Steelers:  Who would have foreseen this game in September involving two teams tied for first place in their divisions?  I will state that I definitely did not.  I would have expected to find the Raiders in the cellar and the Steelers clawing their way back into the AFC North race due to a rough start without their quarterback.  I was wrong.  These two teams are the real deal.  Oakland lives on running the ball with authority and doing a great job at defending against the pass.  The Steelers clog the run better than any team in the League and just flat-out win.  Well expect the Steelers to win this week by 6 at home.

Ravens at Panthers:  Baltimore heads to Carolina to take on perhaps the worst offensive unit in the League.  Well expect Carolina’s offensive woes to continue with Brian St. Pierre under center.  Who is Brian St. Pierre you ask?  Try a 30-year-old quarterback from Boston College, who has played in 2 total NFL games and attempted 5 passes.  Now I will state that 2 of these 5 passes were completions.  How is John Fox going to pass over Tony Pike to start this guy?!  Good luck playing with a stay at home dad against Ray Lewis and the Ravens.  I fully expect Baltimore to drill the Panthers in every facet of the game.  Ravens by 14 on the road.

Browns at Jaguars:  Cleveland has proven itself a team to be reckoned with over the past month.  Though they have only won 3 total games this season, they have beaten both the Saints and the Patriots.  Not to mention they had the Jets on the ropes last week.  Cleveland can play.  The victories will come behind their strong rushing attack.  Look for the Brownies to upset the Jags on the road by 3.

Buccaneers at 49ers:  The NFC’s “Best” team heads into San Francisco to take on the suddenly hot 49ers.  Tampa Bay is one of those teams that really does not do anything especially well.  They have just found ways to win.  And in all honesty, the W’s are the only stat that matters.  This week unfortunately, I do not see them finding a way to win.  San Francisco is finally beginning to gel like many thought they would, and will secure their first 3 game win streak of the season on Sunday.  49ers by 1 at home in a very exciting game.

Seahawks at Saints:  Seattle heads to NOLA to take on Drew Brees and the dangerous Saint’s aerial attack.  This is not an opportune time for Seattle to be heading to New Orleans.  The Saints look to be regaining their Super Bowl swagger from a year ago and are hungry to catch the division leading Falcons.  Expect Drew Brees to absolutely shred the Seahawks weak secondary on the way to a 10 point victory at home. 

Falcons at Rams:  Atlanta appears to be the NFC’s top team.  They have handled their business in a more consistent fashion than any other team in the conference.  Plus Roddy White has been absolutely exceptional.  Well expect that trend to continue against a much improved St. Louis team.  St. Louis normally is a great run stopping team, but sadly the Falcons also have a very strong passing attack.  Falcons by 6 on the road.

Colts at Patriots:  This is a matchup that I have anxiously been waiting to see for some time now.  Manning vs Brady.   You know you are in for a classic every time these two guys line up against each other.  This time will be absolutely no different as both look to make a statement to the rest of the AFC.  The difference in this one will be New England’s inability to defend against the pass.  Even though the Colts are beat up, I am giving them the nod over Brady and the boys by 3 on the road.

Giants at Eagles:  A big time NFC East battle in the Sunday Night Game.  Who will take sole possession of first place after this one?  Though the Eagles have looked much better in recent weeks, I got to go with the G Men.  New York was embarrassed last week in losing to the abysmal Cowboys.  Plus the Eagles  put on possibly the best offensive performance we have seen the entire season.  Vick will continue to play great, but after every high comes a low.  Look for the G Men to steal this one by 1 in the city of Brotherly Love.

Broncos at Chargers:  This is definitely not your typical Denver team.  They do not run the ball.  They do not defend against the run.  What is going on in Denver?  The Chargers on the other hand sport a very balanced offensive attack and also boast a very strong defensive resume.  Look for the Charger’s overall balance to be too much for Denver as Phillip Rivers leads San Diego to a 7 point win at home.

CV3 Picks:

Cowboys over Lions by 14 (New look Cowboys)
Titans over Redskins by 3
Chiefs over Cardinals by 10
Vikings over Packers by 3 (Home field Advantage)
Jets over Texans by 6
Steelers over Raiders by 4 (Slugfest)
Ravens over Panthers by 18
Browns over Jaguars by 4
Falcons over Rams by 1
Saints over Seahawks by 14
Bucs over 49ers by 6
Eagles over Giants by 3 (Michael Vick Experience)
Chargers over Broncos by 9
Bengals over Bills by 6 (Ugliest game of the week)
Patriots over Colts by 3 (Game of the week)

So there you have the picks for Week 11.  The week is highlighted by the outstanding quarterback duel in Foxborough between Brady and Manning, and  the Sunday Night Game matchup in Philadelphia.  This game should be an absolute thriller between the Giants and Eagles as they contend for NFC East supremacy.

Can I begin to catch CV3?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Who Dey Disaster?”

Terrell Owens (pictured above), a star receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals was on the receiving end of over 220 yards today and a Touchdown. But it was not enough to lead his team to victory over their interstate rival, the Cleveland Browns.

If you are a Cincinnati Bengal’s fan, you are probably not having the best of Sunday’s.  Any loss for the home town team hurts.  But a lost to the abysmal Brownies, who were 0 and 3 coming into the 1st edition of this year’s “Battle of Ohio” Throwdown?  Things just went from bad, to real bad.

The Bengals today once again demonstrated why they appear to not quite be ready to join the League’s upper tier.  Now, I am by no means saying this team will not make the playoffs.  I would be crazy to say that with the talent this squad possesses.  But at 2 and 2, things have not looked good for a team surrounded by much hype.

Lets take a quick look at what transpired today in Cleveland.

The Bengals took on a less than flattering Brown’s team led by long time backup, Seneca Wallace.  In this game, the Who Deys had over 115 more total yards than our opponent.  Cincinnati was also more efficient than their opponent both rushing and passing. Cincy’s big time receiver, TO, had over 220 yards receiving on 10 catches. Yet the Bengals took an L, and had their faces smashed in by former Arkansas Razorback, 3rd string RB, Peyton Hillis.  This guy, who defines what it means to be a bruiser, really hurt the Who Deys late in the game, really solidifying the Browns first win of the season.  The difference in this one though, a blocked field goal.  And it was not Cincinnati’s “quarter season MVP,” Mike Nugent’s fault.  A Brown’s defender came in untouched to block Nugent’s field goal attempt.

So are the Bengals in big trouble standing at 2 and 2?  Currently, we are ranked 15th in the League in overall offense and passing offense.  We are only 18th in the League in rushing.  Last year, we were 24th in the League in overall offense, 26th in the passing game, and 9th overall rushing.  So though I would like to see Cedric and the gang get it going more on the ground, there is no reason to panic offensively.  Defensively, we currently rank 9th overall in the League,  with the 11th ranked defense against the pass, and 13th against the run.  Last year, the AFC North Champion Bengals ranked 4th in the NFL in overall defense.  With a passing defense that was ranked 6th, and a ground stopping attack that ranked 7th.  So the defense has fallen a little, but not much.

So sure the Bengals took a very bad loss today.  But there is no reason to give up on this team yet.  Their numbers are not really any worse than last year’s playoff team.  People just have to accept that Marvin’s team plays down to the level of their competition every week and win in somewhat of an ugly fashion.  Either way a win is a win.  But I will state that this year’s schedule is much tougher than last years.

So what are your thoughts?  Maybe Carson is the problem?  Or maybe it is the play calling from Bob Bratkowski? Can this team bounce back and compete for the AFC North Title or are we on the way to a Who Dey Disaster?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 4 Predictions”

Future Hall of Fame Linebacker, Ray Lewis (pictured above), looks to lead his Ravens to a big time road victory over bitter divisional rival, Pittsburgh.

 After this week, most teams will be done with a fourth of the games already.  Boy does time fly by.  But this is the time of year where many of the pretenders start to get weeded out and the contenders show that they are in fact the real deal.  

There are 3 teams that are currently still undefeated.  Those teams are the Chicago Bears, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I have none of these teams making the playoffs and they are truly demonstrating how amazing the parity in the NFL can be. 

After 3 weeks in the pick’em challenge, the scoreboard reads: 

TheSportsKraze:  30                                    CV3:  28 

TheSportsKraze Picks

49ers at Falcons:  An underachieving San Francisco team versus an Atlanta team that is flying high after a big win over the defending champs.  Conventional wisdon would say to pick the Falcons in this one.  The Falcons have ridden a phenomenal offense, that features one of the game’s best rushing attacks to first place in the NFC South.  The 49ers have been very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde like, showing glimpses of a playoff caliber team at times.  If this game was on the west coast, I will give the 49ers a chance.  The 49ers were the “it” pick in the NFC West.  Sadly they will fall to 0 and 4 with a 10 point loss to the Falcons. 

Bengals at Browns:  The Battle of Ohio.  Always a fun game where the stats get thrown out the window.  The Cincinnati offense has looked anemic and many have been calling for a quarterback change, or at least, re-evaluation.  Fortunately for Cincinnati, they are taking on a Cleveland team that is winless for a reason.  They have not gotten the job done from an offensive or defensive standpoint.  Well the Who Deys have owned this series throughout the Marvin Lewis era and I expect a similar outcome on Sunday.  Look for the Bengals to move to 3 and 1 with a 13 point victory against an overmatched Cleveland squad. 

Jets at Bills:  I will admit the Bills surprised me with their effort against New England last week.  They showed some guts and even dare I say, moxy (whatever that is).  But it will not be enough against arguably the best team in the AFC.  The Jet’s stats are misleading due to a horrible offensive performance in Week 1.  Mark Sanchez is finally starting to look more comfortable out there as is the Jets rushing attack.  And good luck to Buffalo in putting up points against these outstanding Jet’s defense whether Revis plays or not.  Buffalo sports the worst overall offense in the League thus far for a reason.  Look for the Jets to run away with this one on the road by 13. 

Seahawks at Rams:  Two teams that each pulled off surprise victories in Week 3.  Seattle has looked very solid in 2 of their 3 games, while St. Louis appeared to finally awake from a preseason hangover against the Redskins.  Do I think either of these teams are serious playoff contenders?  Not really.  But anybody has a shot in the very weak NFC West, that the Seahawks are currently leading.  Neither of these teams rank too well offensively or defensively from a stats standpoint.  But I see the Seahawks demonstrating some poise down the stretch and following the lead of their veteran Matt Hassleback to their 3rd victory of the season.  It will be close, but a costly Bradford interception down the stretch will help Seattle prevail by 3 on the road. 

Broncos at Titans:  An underachieving Broncos team heads to the music city to take on a Tennessee team that has had 2 awesome games, and one against Pittsburgh that they would like to forget.  Though Denver has been solid against the run this year, it will not be enough to stop Chris Johnson and Co.  Look for CJ to be the difference in this game as Tennessee saves face at  home with a 7 points victory. 

Lions at Packers:  The Try’n Lions head to Lambeau to take on the Cheeseheads.  The Packers are coming off of a heartbreaking Monday Night loss to their bitter rival, Chicago.  I feel bad for Detroit is all I have to say.  I would not want to play arguably the most talented team in the League, coming off of a loss on the road.  Though Detroit has had a legitimate chance to win 2 of their 3 games, they have not faced off with a team that has an offense like Green Bay.  The Lions have one of the worst defenses in the League and struggle to stop the run or pass.  Look for Aaron Rodgers to light up the scoreboard as the Packers come out with a vengeance.  This one will be a laugher with the Packers coming out on top by 17. 

Ravens at Steelers:  One of the best rivalries in football here.  The Edgar Allen Poes head to Heinz Field looking to gain back a throne that many expected them to hold atop the AFC North.  The Steelers have shocked everyone, including myself, by starting out 3 and 0 without Big Ben.  This Steelers’s team has looked solid, living on their phenomenal defensive unit.  Pittsburgh’s offensive unit may be ranked dead last in the NFL, but they are also 1 of only 3 undefeated teams heading into Week 4.  The big question mark for a Baltimore team that many expect to possibly win the AFC was their cornerback position.  Well the Ravens are the top rated team against the pass in the NFL.  So they are doing something right.  I see Joe Flacco continuing to demonstrate his ability to make big plays with Anquan Boldin, as the Ravens steal a very close one on the road.  The Ravens will have just a little bit more offensive firepower in this matchup of two of the game’s best defensive units.  I got the Ravens by 1. 

Panthers at Saints:  Sorry Carolina.  Things are about to get worst as you head to Bourbon Street.  This is a similar scenario to which the Lions find themselves in this week.  Playing a very talented team coming off of their first loss of the season on the road.  Good luck.  Drew Brees and the Saints, even though their offense is ReggieBushless, will put up some numbers.  And their defense will feast on whatever young quarterback Carolina puts out there.  New Orleans may not possess a running game, but their aerial attack is one of the best in the game.  Carolina corners better make plays when opportunities are presented to them, unlike they did last week, or this game will be over fast.  I got the Saints by 14 at home. 

Colts at Jaguars:  Peyton Manning heads down to Jacksonville.  The Jags have looked terrible since Week 1.  And they have a major issue in this matchup.  They do not stop the pass.  And they are going up against Peyton Manning, possibly the greatest pocket passer of all time.  Pick your poison in this one.  All directions put to the Jaguars losing a game that shouldn’t even be close to Indy.  I got the Colts by 10 in this one. 

Texans at Raiders:  Houston finally got their wake up call.  The Cowboys took Houston “Back to life, back to reality.”  Well this week, they come back to a good reality.  As they match up with a pretty abysmal Oakland team.  Now I will admit Oakland’s D has been pretty solid so far.  But they also have not faced top-tier offenses like Houston has.  If Oakland clogs the run, look for Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub to hook up early and often.  If Oakland decides to not stack 8 in the box, look for Arian Foster to have a field day.  Either way, Oakland does not possess the horses to score enough points to keep up with the Texans exciting offensive attack.  I got Houston by 13 on the road. 

Redskins at Eagles:  This is quite possibly the most exciting matchup of the week.  Mentor vs Mentee.  Speed vs speed.  Righty vs Lefty.  You name it, the VickNabb show will be fun to watch.  Sadly for Washington though, they do not possess the overall team yet to compete with an Eagles squad that has gelled very quickly.  Now when these two teams match up again on Monday Night Football in November, it will be a completely different story.  But Donovan and this offense have not clicked in any way yet, and will not be able to put up enough points to support a defense that will struggle all day to contain the most athletic player in football.  It will be close, but I got the Eagles by 6 at home. 

Cardinals at Chargers:  Two teams that have surprised for different reasons are matchup up in San Diego.  The Cardinals are an unexpected 2 and 1, while the Chargers have surprised many with a rough 1 and 2 start.  Well the Chargers always start off the year slow.  This is a pick me up game where they get the ball going.  Look for Phillip Rivers to put up some big numbers and lead San Diego to a much-needed victory at home. This will begin a winning streak for the Chargers as they head into a very easy stretch on their schedule. Chargers by 7  in this one. 

Bears at Giants:  Da Bears looked awesome Monday Night.  The Giants on the other hand continued to disappoint and show their lack of consistency.  I got the Bears behind their phenomenal run defense taking care of business on the road and moving to 4 and 0.  Eli will have to have a big day in the air for the Giants to have any prayer.  And I just do not see it happening this week.  Bears by 6 on the road. 

Patriots at Dolphins:  What a great Monday Night Game folks.  Two bitter divisional rivals, looking to make an early statement.  These are two very different teams.  New England lives and dies on their vaunted aerial attack which features Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker.  The Dolphins really survive on a very solid defense led by Jason Allen and Yeremiah Bell.  Monday Night Football Games are very tough to predict in that the underdog commonly walks away the victor.  But for some reason, I expect Brady, who always performs well on the big stage, to lead the Patriots to a huge divisional victory by 1 on the road.  Patriots by 1. 

CV3’s Picks:

There is a distinct possibility that there could be 5 winless teams left in the NFL after week 4. Will those teams fight for a win to avoid the embarrassment of being winless? Also, there are some upset opportunities with the Raiders and Bills looking to shock some teams that are considered on their way to the elite class. Should be an interesting week to watch.

 Falcons over 49ers by 3- If we are following a trend here it is time for San Fran to play well this week. Even if they do, they will still have to overcome a good-looking Atlanta team at home. I take the chances of the Falcons playing well over the chance of San Fran coming out like they did against the Saints.

Packers over Lions by 10- Green Bay should trample the Lions at Lambeau. The Pack has proved that their D is strong and they will eliminate the mistakes made last week against Da Bears. Best should be in the line-up this week but he will be limited by the backers in green and yellow.

Jets over Bills by 8- I want to say the Bills are going to upset the Jets after competing with the Pats last week but I don’t think it is going to happen. The one way it could happen is if the Bills can pressure Sanchize. Again, I don’t think this will happen but I would love to see the J E T S go down this week to a 0-3 team.

Rams over Seahawks by 5- Seahawks have lost the last 16 of 19 on the road. Rams are energized this year with Bradford running the show. Look for them to impress the home crowd.

Titans over Broncos by 3- Chris Johnson is scary but so is Denver’s #1 passing offense. Kyle Orton can have a big day against the Titan’s secondary starting a rookie in place of an injured corner. I still have to go with the Titans because in the NFL you still have to be able to run the ball and the Broncos have too much trouble on the ground. 

Steelers over Ravens by 1- Everyone knows that this will be a low scoring SLUGFEST. If you do not like defense, do not watch this game but you will see some of the hardest hits all season during this game. Steelers take this round at home in this fight.

Saints over Panthers by 14- Notre Dame sucks, so does Jimmy Clausen. Saints win! (Take that BK) 

Colts over Jags by 7- These two seem to play each other tough. In their last 5 match-ups the winning team has won by 7 points or less. This one swings in favor of the Colts with Peyton’s boys clicking. 

Texans over Raiders by 10- The Raiders will prove to be a big match-up problem for Houston. With the Best corner in the league limiting Andre the Giant to 5 catches and 94 yards in their last three meetings, the Texans will need to find another way to get the job done. Either Houston clicks and blows through Oakland or they lose in an upset caused by one the NFL’s top defenses.

Chargers over Cardinals by 7- Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates. As long as these two are still on the field Sunday, San Diego will win the game.

Eagles over Redskins by 6- Michael Vick. 

Bears over Gmen by 9- The Bears offense is catching up to its D. The Giants lost last week at home, look for it to happen again with a pass happy Bears team rolling into town. Don’t kick it to Devin Hester, Gmen. Then maybe you have a chance.

Patriots over Dolphins by 3- Another Monday night thriller is ahead of us with an emerging team taking on the perennial Goliath in the division. The Patriots offense will be too difficult to stop and they will disappoint Miami fans who think they can hang in the division. Sorry Dolphins, you’re number 3, the first two spots are taken.

Bengals over Brownies by 8- D’Natti is making a trip to Cleveland, who will not win a championship in any sport in the foreseeable future. Zimmer will smother the Browns on offense and the Cleveland fans will still remain without hope for their Browns, Cavs and Indians. Hopefully Cincinnati fans get to see some life from Carson Palmer who hasn’t clicked with his new weapons at tight end and receiver yet. WHO DEY

So there you have both my and CV3’s picks.  A lot of very good matchups mixed in with some very lopsided looking affairs.  But the NFL is always unpredictable and fun.  Upsets are inevitable. It is very hard to pick which ones they will be. 

Enjoy the games folks. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze 

Aside

All summer I have written about this phenomenal Red’s story.  I mean who in Cincinnati or the tri-state area hasn’t?  We all wish that we were John Fay this year.  The Cincinnati Enquirer Red’s Beat Writer has had so much great stuff … Continue reading