Season Total: 57-33
A couple of things before I get to my picks:
First, the Lions finally came up against a team with a good defence, and the results were predictable. The 49ers largely held Calvin Johnson in check (over 100 yards receiving, but no TDs), and Matthew Stafford wasn’t able to do nearly enough to make the offence really effective. That, plus the 49ers’ ground attack, was enough to seal the Lions’ fate. That’s the blueprint for beating Detroit. Now, the key for the Lions will be whether they can find other ways to make their offense work efficiently. The 49ers game should be a wake-up call for the Lions, and it will be interesting to see how this young team responds.
Second, I really don’t know how much longer I can honestly call myself a Miami Dolphins fan. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not the losing. Any fan knows that there are going to be up years, and there are going to be down years. It’s just that, over the course of the past few years, the organization seems to have become less interested in football. It has become more of a celebrity culture, intent on drawing fans using promotion and star-power as opposed fielding a quality football team. From bringing in Bill Parcells as director of football operations, to making such celebrities as Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Venus and Serena Williams, and Fergie part of the ownership group, to signing Reggie Bush to be the featured back in the offence (as well as many other examples), the Miami Dolphins seem more intent on making entertainment headlines than sports headlines. Winning football games has become an afterthought.
This Sunday, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, there will be a ceremony honouring a past championship team. Is it the ’72 Dolphins, owners of the only perfect record ever in the Super Bowl era? Is it the Dolphins’ other championship team? Nope. It’s the 2008 Florida Gators NCAA Championship team. For those of you who don’t follow the college game (hell, I don’t even watch college football), that team was quarterbacked by one Tim Tebow. Miami’s opponent this Sunday: the Denver Broncos. So, that means that there will be a ceremony during this Sunday’s game honouring the starting quarterback of the opposing team. Are you freaking kidding me?!? From what I’ve been hearing this week, the number of Gators fans expected to attend the game this week will almost make this like a home game for the Broncos.
Hey, look, I know that it’s a business. I just believe that the business, first and foremost, should be fielding a winning team. Trotting out mediocre pop stars and halfbacks in order to get a few lines in the entertainment news might grab a few extra casual fans, but neglecting the supporters who value football above all else is bad business in the long run. Once the casual fans have moved on to the next flavour-of-the-month, what will they have left?
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest:
Broncos at Dolphins
I thought that Miami’s defence played pretty well last Monday night. They need to figure out a way to generate more of a pass-rush. The key to this game will be containing Tebow when he scrambles. I think that the Dolphins are just pissed-off enough. At least they should be. Winner: Dolphins
Chargers at Jets
San Diego has been winning, despite not playing particularly well. The Jets have been winning, despite not playing particularly well. San Diego’s offence has the potential to score a lot of points, whereas New York’s offence has degenerated into disorganization and finger-pointing. Winner: Chargers
Seahawks at Browns
What do I do with this shit sandwich? Who’s starting at QB for Seattle? Charlie Whitehurst, I think. I’ve never even seen him play. I’ll take the home team here, ‘cause I don’t know what else to do. Apropos of nothing, one of my preseason predictions about Peyton Hillis could have (sort of) happened this week. Winner: Browns
‘skins at Panthers
Washington’s defence comes through with a big performance this week against Cam Newton, and John Beck makes less mistakes than Rex Grossman would. Winner: ‘skins
Texans at Titans
The division that Houston was supposed to run away with has now become a two-horse race. This game is huge. It will be a close, hard-fought battle. Winner: Titans
Falcons at Lions
Atlanta went back to basics last week with the run game. That’s how you beat Detroit. Winner: Falcons
Bears at Buccaneers (but not really, because it’s in London, England)
Tampa Bay is coming off a big, emotional win last week against the Saints. Chicago has its confidence back. Winner: Bears
Steelers at Cardinals
It may be time to put to rest my preseason prediction of Arizona winning the NFC West. With the emergence of the 49ers, 8-8 isn’t going to cut it this year. The slide continues. Winner: Steelers
Chiefs at Raiders
Will he, or won’t he? I think that the Raiders should roll with Kyle Boller this week, and give new acquisition Carson Palmer a bit more time to get comfortable with the offensive game plan. Keep things simple for Boller, and run, run, run. Winner: Raiders
Packers at Vikings
Let’s just keep this as simple as possible: there is absolutely no chance that I would pick against Green Bay right now. Winner: Packers
Rams at Cowboys
Dallas gets a much-needed visit from the struggling Rams this week. Winner: Cowboys
Colts at Saints
New Orleans is smarting from that loss to Tampa Bay last week. Pity Indianapolis. Winner: Saints
Ravens at Jaguars
Jacksonville’s offence is in for a very rough night. They will have a very tough time scoring in this one. Winner: Ravens