Now that we have half of the regular NFL season in the books, it’s inventory time. What is the weekly prediction score so far this year and how do the early predictions of divisional winners look?
We’ll begin in reverse order. In the NFC, my choices were Atlanta in the south, San Francisco in the west, Dallas in the east, and Green Bay in the north. If not for the Cowboys’ very creative abilities to lose, those would be a solid slate at the mid point.
As for the AFC, where nearly everybody is at or near .500, the choices of Houston in the south, Denver in the west, New England in the east, and Baltimore in the north are all still good. The Ravens are obviously getting close to the slippery slope. One more key injury could be the banana peel.
In eight weeks, your humble “guesstimator” has had two weeks finishing at .500, two weeks finishing below .500 (6-8 and 7-9: yikes!), and four weeks keeping my head above water, including three of the last four – so things are getting better. The actual score, though, is 68-48, for a .586 average.
Now I can turn the page (yes, I actually keep track of my picks on a page that I just turned over) and can start the second half of the season with a clear conscience and a conviction that more players and teams will become more predictable before we get to Christmas, not that it’s a wish or anything.
Chiefs at Chargers – Both teams appear to have quit. San Diego scores only six in Cleveland? What in the name of Sid Gillman is going on out there? Kansas City catches a break by leaving town for a few days.
The NFL Network presents us with this cubic zirconium of a match up for their Thursday night kickoff to Week 9, and what a way to start the football week. Thanks but we’d all rather watch the college kids. (It’s Virginia Tech at Miami, by the way.)
The Chiefs have not been able to figure out how to move the ball all year, which works out well for us in the prediction business because they haven’t been able to stop anybody else from moving it. While that kind of makes the outcome a foregone conclusion, there’s no such thing in the NFL.
Brady Quinn got dinged by the Raiders last week, so Matt Cassel is back. I know how much that excites us all. The answer to their offensive problem, of course, is to just give it to Jamaal Charles who hasn’t had near enough touches for a man with a five-yard rushing average. Chris Johnson’s had more yards, and we know what kind of year he’s had so far.
San Diego has so much more offensive talent, better line play, and a surprisingly good defense (except during a certain second half in Denver that precipitated their current and apparent total collapse) earned against a decent schedule.
I’ll take the Chargers at home. It’s iffy, because it could be a case where neither team shows up, which is just what I expect the viewing audience to do.
Dolphins at Colts – As potentially bad as the game in San Diego appears to be, what a pleasant and major surprise to be found at Indianapolis on Sunday. Two young, disciplined, inspiring, and interesting squads face off in today’s choice for Game of the Day.
Indy has played much stronger at home with surprising wins over the Vikings and Packers, but then they’ve lost to the Jaguars. They just got their first road win, struggling to beat a weak Tennessee team, but were embarrassed by the Jets, which for New York is a switch.
While some of the Colts’ offensive pieces have developed more quickly than expected, their running game is at best middle of the pack. While Andrew Luck is great for a typical rookie quarterback, he is ust okay for a league starter. He needs a better running game behind him (but then, don’t we all).
Miami started slow and thanks to their thoroughly strange Hard Knocks performance, nobody expected much from them, but their defense has gotten solid, although facing an admittedly weak schedule.
After they started out getting drilled for 30 points by Houston in Week 1, the Dolphins have since walked into Cincinnati and shut the Bengals down (which no one expected) and then flat-out embarrassed the Jets last week. Now everyone has noticed the confidence level rising with and in Miami. This game should be close and fun to watch, but I’m voting with the defense and taking the visitors again.
Ravens at Browns – Now that Art Modell has passed, maybe this can be just another game on the schedule. Baltimore is playing hurt, but every team does that. I still trust Joe Flacco to move the ball consistently and score points way more than I do anyone currently on the Cleveland side.
Bills at Texans – When Halloween costumers went looking for mismatches, this is what they came back with. I hope Mario Williams is really enjoying that fat contract. Since the folks in Houston helped him earn it, it would be a nice gesture if he hosted a homecoming dinner party. They can have Buffalo steaks on the menu.
Bears at Titans – A team that plays great takeaway defense against a team that seems to have forgotten what the word defense means. It would be good if Chicago would spend some time developing its running game a little more. Even though their o-line remains weak, pass rush is not a strong attribute of Tennessee’s defensive front, so Chicago has little to worry about. Just don’t put it on the ground!
Broncos at Bengals – Now that their defense is beginning to make its presence felt, Denver is rounding into a complete team. On the other hand, Cincinnati is just rounding because it’s the same thing over and over again. They are showing all the signs of another 8-8 season looming. It’s like George Jetson walking Astro on the treadmill. “Jane! Stop this crazy thing!! Help!!! JANE!!!”