Monday, October 27, 2008

Jets escape Meadowlands with win over inept Chiefs despite Favre's 3 interceptions

Thank goodness.

Say what you want about the performance of the team and anything else, but all that matters is who wins and who loses. The New York Jets won this football game. Forget about how they played, and forget about the negatives. They accomplished what they needed to do, and they are in the same position they would be if they had beaten the Chiefs by 40.

That being said...

Brett Favre, I know you're a gunslinger who likes to take chances down the field. But can they at least be calculated risks? Not double coverage down the field or quick sidearmed passes over the middle? Sometimes, you just need to throw the ball away or dare I say check it down?

I know I was on the playcalling for the Raiders game because they didn't go downfield at all, but I'm angry this game because the Jets tried to be too aggressive. It's just that the coaching staff has no clue what to do on offense. Throw the ball twice as often as you run the ball against the 13th ranked pass defense and the dead last rush defense. It makes no sense.

They pass the ball when they should run the ball, and they run the ball when they should throw the ball. I can't complain too much because for the most part they were able to score, but the turnovers also allowed the Chiefs to score.

Three turnovers, one returned for a touchdown, and two others giving the Chiefs fairly good field position helped them score and stay close.

But what might have been even more alarming is the way the Jets treated Tyler Thigpen so hospitably. The Jets made the previously horrible Thigpen look like a seasoned veteran, as he went 25-36 for 280 yards and 2 touchdowns.

It was the third straight game the Jets' defense did not force a turnover after forcing 7 against the Cardinals, a very bad sign heading into Buffalo next week. The Jets were able to move the ball well enough offensively and forced just enough stalled Chiefs drives to win this week, but they can't expect to play the same way as they have for the past three weeks next week and expect to come away with a win.

This team just has no identity right now. Hopefully next week, the Jets can take a step forward and establish some consistency on offense and develop a way to force turnovers on defense. Consistent pressure on defense will also be a priority as the Jets have trouble rushing quarterbacks into bad decisions. Thigpen had open receivers and plenty of time to find them.

There were a few positives though. Leon Washington had two electric touchdowns, and Laveranues Coles's game-winner was a thing of beauty. Favre was able to lead a late 4th quarter drive to get the Jets in position to have a chance to win for the second straight week. Chansi Stuckey and Dustin Keller also had more extended roles in the offense, and Laveranues Coles and Chansi Stuckey both had good games, though Coles and Keller both had drops.

The Jets survived and advanced from the three cupcakes, going 2-1. 3-0 would have been a huge boost to this team, but the Jets clearly are not yet among the elite in the AFC. The talent is there, but can the coaching staff get this team on the same page in time to get a playoff spot?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

NFL Picks: Week 8

Well, 0-3 last week, kills my run. 11-8-2 on the season, but I'm pretty happy with these picks.

Rams vs Patriots under 43
The Rams' defense has finally shown up to play in recent weeks. The offense? Yes, last week against Dallas was good, but I'm still not a believer, especially since Steven Jackson is banged up. New England can't really throw the ball; last week was an aberration until Matt Cassel shows me he can play against someone other than Denver. Both defenses are pretty good, and I expect this to be a tight, low-scoring game.
Rams 21, Patriots 20

Eagles vs Falcons under 45
Philadelphia plays under games after the bye week, and both teams have pretty good defenses. Philadelphia should be able to contain the Falcons' offense, and I still don't think Philadelphia's offense is that great. Kevin Curtis is probably back, but how will Westbrook be? Both teams really want this win, and that could mean a more hard-fought game.
Eagles 23, Falcons 17

Arizona vs Carolina under 43
Let's do three unders! I was originally going to do Carolina -4 because I'm very confident in their defense playing against an Arizona team playing on the East Coast. The Panthers are always play good defense at home. The bye week could help Arizona adjust, and I think their defense could come out with a good performance. Carolina should make Arizona one-dimensional, and a well-rested Arizona team should be able to hold an average Panther offense enough to keep it under.
Panthers 24, Cardinals 17

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From one bad AFC West team to another: Jets look to get back on track.

Despite the Oakland Raiders' best effort, they were able to take on our beloved New York Jets and win 16-13 in a performance that screams SOJ (same old Jets). The Raiders committed 14 penalties, more than half of which occurred in the first quarter. Yet, the Jets could only manage one measly touchdown in the 4th quarter.

What went wrong? Well, the passing game was the main issue as the Jets' offense once again could not take advantage of playing a bad football team. Early in the game, the Jets spread out the defense only to keep throwing the ball less than five yards down field virtually every play. Brett Favre, he of the cannon arm, was again used as a checkdown quarterback, something a little guy named Chad Pennington could do just as well. Favre threw two interceptions in the game, but an early interception in the endzone really hurt the Jets early on. That and Leon Washington's muff of a punt were two turnovers that directly took points away from the Jets and gave them to Oakland.

What makes the inability to pass the ball at all even more alarming is to see just how well Thomas Jones ran the ball. His three touchdown game against Cincinnati wasn't as impressive as some think, but this game his 24 carries netted 159 yards, as the offensive line consistently gashed holes, letting Jones take advantage. Brad Smith and Leon Washington added another 78 yards on the ground on just 7 carries.

Normally, when a team runs the ball that well, they are able to win football games, but abysmal playcalling helped kill any shot the Jets had to put the ball in the endzone. It was all passes early, mostly short passes to Chris Baker, and then later on, it was all runs. It's almost as if Brian Schottenheimer

Field position certainly did not help, as the Jets started most of their possessions deep in their own territory, forcing each drive to need to gain more yards to end in points. Shane Lechler was a true weapon for the Raiders.

But a Jay Feely 52-yard field goal after a Raiders' time out tried to ice him sent the game into overtime, until Sebastian Janikowski one-upped him late in overtime with a 57-yard game winner.

But it's Saturday now, so you probably don't care about that game anymore, so let's move onto tomorrow's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

I want to tell you that the Jets will annihilate the Chiefs. But I said that last week, so I understand if you don't believe me as much.

But keep this stat in mind: the Chiefs allow more than 200 rushing yards per game. No, that was not a typo. If you still don't believe in Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, this game may alleviate some doubts because Kansas City is quite simply a joke of a football team right now.

Oakland at least has talent. Kansas City has a good tight end and a good receiver in Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe, but Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith will run the ball instead of the "suspended" Larry Johnson, and Tyler Thigpen will throw the ball. If you've heard of any of them, kudos, and you probably realize that there isn't much of a threat there. And if you haven't heard of them, there's a reason for that.

Thigpen is the 3rd string quarterback, who has been forced to play in four games so far (one start) due to the injury problems of both Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard, and let's just say that he hasn't claimed the job so far. Here are his stats on the season: 38-90 (42.2%), 392 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. When all is said and done, he has a 44.3 quarterback rating.

As bad as the loss to the Raiders was, a loss this week, and you can officially hit the panic button. Because this isn't just a team that good teams beat, this is a team that BAD teams beat.

The Jets might not have Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles, both of whom are injured and might not play. Then again, the Jets probably won't need to throw the ball to win, so Chansi Stuckey and Brad Smith might both start just to give them both some rest. We'll see.

I just don't see how the Chiefs are going to be able to score. They are simply inept offensively, even by Cincinnati Bengals' standards. The only chance the Chiefs have is if the Jets are looking forward to Buffalo next week, and if Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles can break open some big plays. The Chiefs also will need to take advantage of turnovers to have a chance to win as we all know Favre can throw some picks.

Jets 24, Chiefs 6

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jets vs Raiders preview

I already made my prediction, 28-10 Jets in my week 7 picks post below, but let's take a look at the matchups and the reasons on why I believe the Jets will end up on the winning end in the Black Hole.

Jets pass offense vs Raiders pass defense
Brett Favre leads the 15th ranked Jets passing offense against the 25th ranked Raiders pass defense. Presumably, Favre will pick on DeAngelo Hall, the free agent bust who plays opposite shutdown cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, a player who should get more recognition than he does. Oakland has allowed 16 passes of 20 yards or more, so if Brian Schottenheimer wants to throw the ball down the field, this could be the game to do it. Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles split the receiving duties pretty equally, and it will be interesting to see who puts up the numbers this week. Favre has been good this season, but he is always prone to the occasional bad turnover. However, Oakland's leading pass rusher Derrick Burgess will likely miss this game, so Favre should have plenty of time to pick apart the Raiders' secondary, which will also start Hiram Eugene at safety over former first round pick Michael Huff. He will likely be thrown at more than Gibril Wilson, who is simply a better all-around player than Eugene or Huff. Look for Cotchery and Coles to take turns abusing Hall and Eugene on the way to a big game for Favre.

Jets run offense vs Raiders run defense
Coming off his first career three touchdown game, Thomas Jones will try his luck against a Raiders defense that has limited opponents to 3.9 yards per carry. Jones has still struggled to gain consistent yardage, but the three touchdown effort went a long way in showing that the running game could score in the redzone. Tommy Kelly, Kirk Morrison, and Thomas Howard lead a decent front seven that has a lot of size and speed, typical elements of an Al Davis football team. The Jets only average 3.7 yards per carry and only three teams have rushed for less yards, so the pressure is on Jones and the offensive line to take some pressure off Favre. Expect something similar to what you've seen for much of the season: Jones should be able to run the ball decently, probably something like 17 carries for 65 yards like last week. Leon Washington and Jesse Chatman may see more time.

Raiders pass offense vs Jets pass defense
JaMarcus Russell threw 35 times last week, completing just 13 passes against a porous Saints defense, and even Tom Cable admitted that he isn't quite ready for primetime. Nonetheless, Russell leads the 29th ranked passing offense, which is going through lots of changes as Ronald Curry and Javon Walker's playing time are expected to be cut in favor of younger players like Chaz Schillens and Johnnie Lee Higgins.
The Jets have the no. 28 pass defense, so they have been susceptible to the pass, especially on rookie Dwight Lowery's side. Teams don't want to throw the ball at Darrelle Revis. Kerry Rhodes hasn't made a major impact yet, but he's too talented for that to last too long. It will be interesting to see if the former no. 1 pick Russell can get anything going Sunday.

Raiders run offense vs Jets run defense
This is the Raiders' bread and butter, and their only real chance of winning. Oakland averages 4.6 yards per carry on the ground, and have gotten good production from Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden, and Michael Bush. McFadden and Fargas are both recovering from injury, but all three runningbacks can put together good games. Of course, for this to matter, they need to be in the game or ahead. Otherwise, they could be forced to abandon the run, and then the game would be in Russell's hands. The Jets have been very difficult to run on this season, as teams have averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Only Baltimore and Pittsburgh have held teams to less yards per carry. So even if Oakland stays in the game, they could have trouble getting consistent yardage against a front seven led by Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis, Calvin Pace, and David Harris.

Special teams
The Jets' punting circus may finally have calmed as Reggie Hodges is healthy, and he punted pretty well last week. Jay Feely will still be the field goal kicker, but he's been better of late, too. The Raiders feature some of the biggest kicking legs in football, with Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski, though Janikowski sometimes struggles with accuracy. Higgins and Washington are the main returning threats on each team, and both have the speed and skill to be touchdown threats every time they touch the ball.

Oakland usually plays well after getting killed, but with Lane Kiffin out and Cable in, it's hard to know what the players are thinking. They may have just thrown in the towel. The Jets have to show up and not take this game for granted with a big game at Buffalo the following week. The Bills game is one of the biggest games on the Jets' schedule, but they can't look ahead because the Raiders have raw talent, and they could be able to score.

As I said before, I predict a 28-10 Jets victory. Oakland will try to establish the run, and they'll run a little better than other teams have been able to do against the Jets, but Russell should be under pressure and struggle to put points on the board. As long as the Jets can keep pressure off Favre, he should be able to dissect the Raiders' defense to a pretty big game. Besides, they can't lose to the Raiders, can they?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week Eight NFL Picks: 9 in a row?

3-0 last week. 6-0 last 2 weeks. 11-5-2 on the season. Now THAT is more like it. I'll put up a preview of the game against da Raidazz tomorrow, but this should be able to reveal a lot of how I feel about the game tomorrow.

I got the time, so let's look at all of last week's games, and see what we learned.

Jets 26, Bengals 14
You take a lot more away from the Bengals in this game than the Jets. With Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, the Cincinnati offense is inept, and each first down is a victory. Their defense is underrated, but the offense is just so bad that it's hard to watch. The Jets made some mistakes, but they did what they had to do, unlike Washington. Watching Brett Favre lead the Jets offense to a touchdown right after a strip-sack returned for a touchdown gave the Bengals a 7-0 lead was a thing of beauty for Jets fans, and it showed that they weren't about to have a let down.

Saints 34, Raiders 3
The Raiders let JaMarcus Russell loose, and 22 incompletions to just 13 completions later, Tom Cable realized he's not ready. They will try to revert to a run-first, run-second, run-third offense because Russell can't lead them to victories. The Saints have an explosive offense, and their offense did what they had to do against a bad team trying something they simply could not accomplish.

Packers 27, Seahawks 17.
Seattle is awful. Charlie Frye is awful. Green Bay isn't quite as bad because Seattle is usually tough to beat at home, but until proven otherwise, the Seahawks are one of the five worst teams in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is a very good quarterback.

Eagles 40, 49ers 26
San Francisco simply cannot stop the run (or the pass, really). They made Correll Buckhalter look like Brian Westbrook out there. Eagles scored 23 in the 4th quarter to pull away and win. Bad choke job by San Fran, who might get destroyed by the Giants this week. The Eagles are a good team, but performances like this don't convince me they are among the NFC elite.

Rams 19, Redskins 17
This had all the makings of a trap game for Washington, but still, it was hard to go against a team that had just beaten the Giants and Cowboys, both on the road, especially when the Rams looked abysmal for four weeks. Washington was the better team, but when you lose three fumbles, you don't deserve to win. Redskins are still a good team, and the Rams are still bad.

Colts 31, Ravens 3
I admit, this one surprised me. I thought the Ravens defense would be able to slow the Colts down enough to keep it close. For a month Baltimore was a better team than Indianapolis, but Peyton Manning is back. Watch out, AFC. I still need to see them do it again though. Baltimore is a pesky team, but with a rookie QB, their upside is limited.

Buccaneers 27, Panthers 3
A blocked punt and a pick six in the first quarter works wonders for teams. Tampa Bay needs to make plays on defense and special teams, and they did, and then they were able to efficiently run the ball on Carolina until the game ended. Tampa is a tough team to come from behind on. So is Carolina, for that matter, who should bounce back.

Texans 29, Dolphins 28
The first of the truly exciting games. A back and forth battle between two evenly matched teams. Both have talent and can play with good teams (ask the Colts, Pats, and Chargers), but neither is a true contender. Houston's offense looks dangerous now with Schaub, Slaton, Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, and Owen Daniels, which could lead them to some upsets, while we've already seen what the Dolphins can do. Neither team will make the playoffs, but both are sneaky upset picks.

Falcons 22, Bears 20
Kyle Orton and Matt Ryan combined for 587 yards in this game! Both defenses had bad let-downs toward the end, but my opinion of both quarterbacks has improved immensely because of this game. The Bears' offense is no longer a complete joke, and the Falcons organization is no longer a complete joke. I don't know how much I believe in Atlanta yet, but at 4-2, you can't ignore them.

Vikings 12, Lions 10
Seriously? Lions QB Dan Orlovsky running out the back of the endzone for a safety marks the difference in this game? Brutal defeat for the Lions, who played hard. Minnesota tried as hard as they could to lose, making one big passing play to Bernard Berrian for 86 yards and kicking a field goal at the end to win the game. The teams combined to go 5-28 on first down. Ugly, ugly football game, and it does nothing to tell us who the Minnesota Vikings are, which still remains a question.

Jaguars 24, Broncos 17
Denver's offense is good, but until the defense can stop teams, they're not going to beat the top teams in the AFC. Jacksonville makes a big statement on the road that they are still a top contender, even without any receivers. Two teams known for giving the ball to several different runningbacks were forced to give the ball to one guy each, and both Maurice Jones-Drew and Michael Pittman responded.

Cardinals 30, Cowboys 24
Who are the Dallas Cowboys? Well, who they were in this game, and who they are now with Brad Johnson and Roy E. Williams is a new question, but is Dallas that good? They have no secondary, and as exciting as Marion Barber is, he hasn't been as effective as people hoped he would be as the feature back. Arizona couldn't run the ball either, but they were able to make enough plays to win the game on both sides of the football. The Cardinals are dangerous.

Chargers 30, Patriots 10
Well, what do you know, the Chargers showed up this week! The Chargers might have the most talent in the AFC, and the Patriots were never in this game. Matt Cassel looked awful, showing that the Patriots are no longer among the elite in the AFC. San Diego is a tough team to read, but this game shows some of their potential. New England sits at 3-2, but they are a very unimpressive 3-2.

Browns 35, Giants 14
It isn't surprising that Cleveland played hard and were able to score. What was surprising was just how little resistance the Giants defense provided. Derek Anderson was able to settle into a comfort zone and run the offense perfectly. Eli Manning threw his first two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown which essentially ended the game. Cleveland isn't this good, but this game should provide a ton of confidence for them. Until I see otherwise, this is just a fluke and a wake-up call for the Giants.

Now onto this week's games...

New York Jets -3 at Oakland Raiders
This line shows that people do not believe in the Jets yet. A good AFC team would be favored by more in this spot, but to be fair, Oakland usually responds well off blowouts. Still, Kris Jenkins is playing, and that means the Jets will be difficult to run on. If Oakland can't run the ball, they proved last week that they couldn't score through the air. Oakland's defense has typically been victimized by whoever DeAngelo Hall is guarding. That means Nnamdi Asomugha will either take out Laveranues Coles or Jerricho Cotchery, but the other should be able to have a good game. The Jets will not be phased playing in the Black Hole, having played there seemingly every year this decade.
Jets 28, Raiders 10

Cowboys -7 over Rams
I hate to pick two road favorites as my top two picks, but the Rams are awful. The Redskins shot themselves in the foot constantly, otherwise St. Louis would still be winless. I know they have no secondary, and I know they have Brad Johnson starting ahead of Tony Romo. I don't care. St. Louis won last week, if Marion Barber, Terrell Owens, Roy E. Williams, and Jason Witten put some points up early, the Rams could easily fold up shop. Dallas was embarrassed last week to an underrated Arizona team, they should take it out on an overmatched Rams squad.
Dallas 27, St. Louis 13

Saints vs Panthers over 44.5
New Orleans can score and they don't play defense on the road. Carolina has a great run defense, but New Orleans will throw the ball more anyway. Marques Colston, David Patten, and Jeremy Shockey should also both be back for the Saints, giving them three more weapons to put up points and help the over. The Saints haven't played on the road in a while, and I expect Jake Delhomme to throw early and often to Steve Smith, and they'll try to get the ball to their playmakers in space.
Saints 28, Panthers 24

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jets' Roster Moves, Plus a look at the next few weeks in the AFC East

To make room for S Eric Smith, OL Will Montgomery has been released (again). Former Rutgers LB Brandon Renkart was released off the practice squad, so there's now a spot available there.

So through the first five games, the Jets sit at 3-2. If they can take care of business against Oakland on the road this Sunday and at home against Kansas City the week after, they will be 5-2 heading in to Buffalo to take on the Bills in what could turn the tide in this division. The Bills host the San Diego Chargers this week before traveling to Miami to face the Dolphins. That could be an 0-2 stretch, but more likely, they'll split the two games, setting up a battle of two 5-2 teams on top of the AFC East.

What about the Patriots you ask? They sit at 3-2, tied with the Jets, ready to host the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football and then the St. Louis Rams the following Sunday. The Broncos pose an interesting matchup, as they usually play well against the Patriots. On paper, they have the cornerback to stop Moss and Welker, but could Matt Cassel get them the ball anyway? Even without Brady, they should be able to beat the lowly Rams though. Then they face Indianapolis on the road the same week as the Jets-Bills matchup.

I have to mention the Dolphins, who are 2-3 and right there in the divisional race. They host the Baltimore Ravens and the Bills the next two weeks, and even though most people thought they were a shoe-in for last heading into the season, beating the Patriots and Chargers proves that they belong in the conversation for now.

The AFC East shapes up to be one of the more difficult divisions in football. Hell, the AFC in general is fairly even for the top 11 or 12 teams. Taking care of business against the dregs of the NFL like the Chiefs and Raiders (and the Rams after the Bills game) will go a long way towards determining the playoff scenario.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Jets defeat Bengals 26-14 in war of attrition

Sunday the New York Jets beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-14 in a strange football game. The Bengals simply could not run the ball, looking completely inept offensively. A strip-sack of Brett Favre returned for a touchdown gave them an early 7-0 lead, but the Jets answered with a quick touchdown. A huge drive by Favre and the Jets after giving the Bengals a jolt of energy and an early lead on the road. It took the momentum away from Cincinnati and made the game even. Of course, they had to score three times (after the first two scores were taken off due to penalties), but Thomas Jones eventually got into the end zone for his first of three scores.

Then Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Perry, TJ Houshmandzadeh, and Chad Ocho Cinco took the field.

It was not pretty.

Perry and Cedric Benson simply could not run at all against the Jets' suddenly stout run defense, leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead the offense singlehandedly, and for most of the first half, it was embarrassing to watch. The joke was on the Jets, however, when Fitzpatrick capped off a scoring drive at the end of the 2nd quarter with a QB sneak in the only first half drive in which they even got a first down.

One drive and one defensive play made the Bengals just three points behind at halftime, but the offense squandered decent field position on their first drive. Another impressive performance by the defense, not letting the winless Bengals get back-to-back scoring drives which could have given them immense confidence. Cincinnati was shut out for the rest of the game.

The Jets were unable to take advantage of fantastic field position on numerous occasions. They started five drives in Bengals' territory, but they struggled to convert on 3rd downs early, and Favre threw two interceptions on jump-balls that Jerricho Cotchery could not come down with, killing two probable scoring drives. At one point they were 1-7 on 3rd downs, until the final 10 play, 41 yard drive that took 6:18 of the remaining 8:40 off the clock put the Bengals away for good.

Jones scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, making this his most productive game as a Jet statistically, but he only ran for 65 yards on 17 carries. Brad Smith, Chansi Stuckey, and Laveranues Coles all took handoffs on end-arounds or reverses, totaling 15 yards. Leon Washington took five carries for just seven yards, while Jesse Chatman saw his first action as a Jet with one carry and one reception.

Favre ended up 25-33 for 189 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 1 key fumble. It was his worst game as a Jet, but it seemed like Brian Schottenheimer was playing the game pretty close to the vest, not allowing the Bengals' defense to make any more plays that could pick up their offense. The two interceptions weren't horrible, but they are still turnovers. Coles and Cotchery had 8 catches each, for 61 and 65 yards respectively. Leon Washington, Jones, Chris Baker, and Chatman also had receptions.

Abram Elam led the defense with six tackles in his one-game stint as starter, replacing the suspended Eric Smith. Calvin Pace, Hank Poteat, David Harris, Eric Barton, and Bryan Thomas combined for five sacks, and Pace and Poteat both forced fumbles as well. The Bengals offense was putrid, but give the Jets defense credit for only allowing the one touchdown drive. For the rest of the game, Cincinnati could barely get first downs, much less touchdowns.

Jay Feely made both of his field goals, giving Jets fans reason to have confidence in him until Mike Nugent returns, whenever that ends up being. Reggie Hodges punted just twice, with a 37.0 yard net, but both had good hangtime and one was fair caught at the 4 yard line.

Next up is Oakland on the road this coming Sunday, but I should have more reaction on this game later.

And did I mention I went 3-0 for the second straight week on my picks?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jets vs Bengals Preview

Two weeks after destroying the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets are well-rested and ready to take on the winless Cincinnati Bengals. Don't be fooled by Cincinnati's 0-5 record as they've played some of the better teams in the league (New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys) down to the wire, but without Carson Palmer, it could be a struggle to put up points. Still, winless teams are dangerous because they are desperate. But can Ryan Fitzpatrick come into the Meadowlands and upset the Jets? Let's take a look at each facet of this game.

Jets passing offense vs Bengals passing defense
Cincinnati's defense actually ranks sixth against the pass, and their number one cornerback Johnathan Joseph is fully healthy this week, a welcome sight for the Bengals. He and Leon Hall are a talented tandem of young cornerbacks, but they will have their hands full against Brett Favre and the Jets. If the front seven can generate some pressure, Favre might force a few passes and make a few turnovers, but that seems unlikely, as they have just three sacks in five games. Still, don't look for Favre to have a field day on this secondary, but he should be able to make enough plays with Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Look for Dustin Keller to possibly have an increased role.

Jets rushing offense vs Bengals rushing defense
Teams have been able to rush for an obscene 171 yards per game against a porous Bengals front seven. Keith Rivers is a good young player, but he has little help, but most of those yards came against the Ravens, Titans, Cowboys, and Giants, four of the better rushing teams in the NFL. The pressure is starting to mount on Thomas Jones. He ran for over 100 yards against Miami, but he hasn't been much of a factor since. If the Jets do not run fairly well on Sunday, it will be alarming. Don't expect 171 total yards on the ground, as a lot of those yards in the other games were in garbage time, but expect it to be much better than it was the past three weeks.

Bengals passing offense vs Jets passing defense
With Carson Palmer at the helm, this would be an extremely interesting matchup to look at. With Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick, not so much. You may recall Fitzgerald playing great in his first game with St. Louis back in 2005, but since that 300 yard game, he has thrown two touchdowns and ten interceptions in his last four starts, including a 21-35, 156, 1, 3 performance against a shaky Cleveland defense. Chad Ocho Cinco is clearly not himself after a preseason shoulder injury, and as good as TJ Houshmandzadeh is, he's not the fastest receiver, and isn't a major big play threat. Fitzpatrick ran four times for 41 yards last game, so he's a minor threat to run. Look for a lot of passes to slot receiver Antonio Chatman, tight end Reggie Kelly, and runningback Chris Perry in check-downs. Jets' starting safety Eric Smith is out with a suspension, but Abram Elam should be an adequate replacement. This won't be another seven-turnover game, but the Jets' defense should be able to have their way with Fitzpatrick. Bengals' receiver Chris Henry is in his second game back after a four-game suspension, and he could present matchup problems, but until they use him, it's hard to right much about him.

Bengals rushing offense vs Jets rushing defense
If you've watched the Bengals at all this year, you might have a question right now. What Bengals rushing offense? Chris Perry has fumbled five times in five games, and he has averaged just 2.8 YPC. The former Michigan star (whom I hyped up as a fantasy football sleeper this offseason) has struggled to shake off rust, and the rest of the team hasn't helped him out much. Former Bear bust Cedric Benson also figures to get some carries. As far as the Jets are concerned, Kris Jenkins is playing, so they should be able to stop the run. It really is that simple. Playing against the Bengals' offense helps, too.

Special teams
Both teams have kicker problems, as the Bengals signed Dave Rayner to possibly kick for Shayne Graham this week. Jay Feely will kick again for the Jets, replacing the injured Mike Nugent. Reggie Hodges will make his long anticipated debut as the Jets' punter, replacing Ben Graham, who replaced Hodges, who replaced Graham. Got it? Kyle Larson is a consistent punter for Cincinnati. Both teams have return threats, especially the Jets with Leon Washington, but Glenn Holt and Chatman have both made plays for the orange and black, too.

Fitzpatrick is a relative unknown, so that could be a plus for the Bengals, but the Jets have had two weeks to look at tape of both quarterbacks. The Jets have been a traditionally strong team after the bye week, especially under Eric Mangini. With two weeks to prepare against a team missing its leader, the Jets should have intangible edges. The Bengals might also be due for a letdown after losing a heartbreaker to Dallas.

Injury/Suspension news
Chris Henry is in his second week back for the Bengals, who will lose Carson Palmer. A few other starters are also listed as questionable, SS Dexter Jackson, DT John Thornton, and OT Levi Jones.

The Jets will welcome back RB Jesse Chatman after his four-game suspension, but K Mike Nugent and WR David Clowney are still out. DT Kris Jenkins and WR Laveranues Coles should play despite their questionable status, while CB Justin Miller is more of a question mark. The cold of RT Damien Woody is the only real big news for the Jets, as his status is still a question mark. If he is out, backup Wayne Hunter will get the start.

I just can't see how Cincinnati will score. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not an NFL quarterback, and we saw how badly the Jets harassed Kurt Warner. Don't expect 34-0 at halftime, but this is a mismatch. With Carson Palmer at quarterback, this would have been a tough game, but with him gone, this could be a rout.
Jets 34, Bengals 13.

Late NFL Picks for Week 6

All these lines are pretty sharp now, but hopefully after a 3-0 week, I can keep it rolling. 8-5-2 on the season, here are my three for this week.

Chicago vs Atlanta under 44
44 points is a little high for Kyle Orton and Matt Ryan. I know both have played pretty well, but come on now. Atlanta's defense is underrated as long as sack leader John Abraham (remember him?) is healthy. Chicago's strength is stopping the run. Atlanta's strength is running the ball. I'll trust Chicago to slow Turner down enough, but the Falcons play well enough at home to keep it close. Chicago's offense doesn't impress me too much yet. Did I mention that Roddy White missed Friday's practice? Hopefully for my fantasy team, he plays, but he could be slowed down a bit.

Chicago 17, Atlanta 13

Green Bay +1 at Seattle
I know the Packers are hurting on defense. I know Aaron Rodgers is one hit away from being knocked out of the game. But Seattle got blown out 44-6 last week to the Giants, have looked horrid all year, and now Charlie Frye is going to start? And the Packers are getting a point? Seattle is better at home, but let's call a spade a spade here and say the Seahawks are a bad football team right now.

Green Bay 28, Seattle 9

Arizona +5 vs Dallas
Second straight week I'm on Arizona. It's easy to pick against Dallas with the spread each week because they are such a public team, and this week that is certainly the case. People remember the Jets putting up 56 on this Cardinals defense, but with Adrian Wilson back, the secondary is much better. Cowboys fans travel well, but it's still in Arizona, and their fans should be fired up. Besides, is it possible that Dallas is just overrated? The defense allowed 37 points to the Eagles, Kurt Warner and company should be able to put points on the board even without Anquan Boldin. I don't know if Arizona will win; I make this a coinflip game. In that case, give me the 5 points.

Dallas 27, Arizona 24

Will preview the Jets vs Bengals later (and I don't expect it to be close).

Friday, October 3, 2008

NFL Picks: Week 5

2-1 last week. 5-5-2 on the season. I like these three picks this week in terms of situational plays, especially the last two. The first game, I just think could be a shootout.

Cincinnati vs Dallas over 45.
Dallas is good, especially on offense, where they will want to take out frustrations on a slightly overmatched Cincinnati defense. The question is, can Cincinnati's offense contribute enough points to the total? Cincinnati is devalued because of how badly Ryan Fitzpatrick looked, but Carson Palmer sounds like he's playing, and that's like night and day. The talented Chris Henry will actually play. Forget all his off-field concerns, the kid can play, and he might be able to make enough of an impact right away to help. That gives Palmer three nice weapons offensively against a secondary that got torched at times last week. They should be able to put up at least 2-3 touchdowns as a team, and Dallas will likely raise that another score or two, bringing this game over the total.
Dallas 34, Cincinnati 24

Arizona -1.5 vs Buffalo
Arizona is a different team at home. Buffalo will be on the road for the 2nd straight week, in hot and humid Arizona. I think the Cardinals will come out angry after getting embarrassed by the New York Jets (that felt good to write). As good as Buffalo is, their passing game is not particularly impressive, and Terrence McGee's absence hurts Buffalo's defense more than Anquan Boldin hurts the Cardinals. Not the best spot for Buffalo, and I think Arizona comes out fired up. They self-destructed in the first half against the Jets, and after losing two in a row on the east coast, they will be happy to be home again.
24-14 Arizona

Miami +7 against San Diego
A west coast team flying across the country to play at 1:00 on the road against a team coming off a bye week, laying 7 points? I'm not believers in the Dolphins just yet, but this is a great scenario for them. San Diego was losing by two scores heading into the 4th quarter against Oakland last week. I do know that Miami beat a team that hadn't lost in the regular season in two seasons by 25 in their own building. Fluke? Probably, but impressive enough where they shouldn't be underdogs by this much.
24-20 Chargers