Monday, December 27, 2010

Three Up, Three Down


The Indianapolis Colts aren't dead yet. Their defense came to play on Sunday, holding a vaunted Raider rushing attack to just 80 yards on the ground. 1000-yard rusher Darren McFadden was held to just 45 yards rushing with 26 coming on one carry. Even more impressive than their rush defense was their own ground game. Welcoming back injured running back Joseph Addai on Sunday, the Colts' 30th ranked rushing offense ran for 191 yards, close to five yards a carry. A 31-26 victory in The Black Hole sets up the Colts to both win the AFC South and host a 1st-round playoff game with a win against Tennessee next week. Peyton and the Colts are proving you don't win 12-games a year for nearly a decade and fall off overnight.

The St. Louis Rams might just get in here. It wasn't pretty, however the Rams 25-17 victory against San Francisco puts them in position to get into the postseason with a repeat performance in Seattle next week. On an afternoon where the Rams' rushing game was nowhere to be found, rookie quarterback Sam Bradford put St. Louis on his shoulders. Completing 28 passes for 292 yards while staying interception-free for the sixth time this season, Sam Bradford showed yet again why he was the 2010 #1 overall pick. The Rams, at 7-8 from 1-15 a year ago, are by far the biggest surprise this season.

The Green Bay Packers are the real deal, believe it. Their 45-17 dismantling of the Giants on Sunday afternoon should serve notice to the rest of the NFC. They're going to hit the playoffs as the Wild Card team nobody wants any part of. The Packer defense forced six turnovers, a healthy Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, and Green Bay flexed their muscles for the second time in two weeks. In Rodgers return from his second concussion this season he completed 25 passes for over 400 yards passing, torching the Giants secondary. Even more impressive than their Pro-Bowl quarterback is their hard hitting, turnover forcing defense. Ranked 5th in the NFL in sacks and 3rd in INT's, the Packers are causing havoc on opposing offenses. 2Nd-Year defensive tackle B.J. Raji is breaking out in 2010, leading all nose tackles in sacks, he's one of the reasons Green Bay is in control of their own postseason destiny heading into week 17.


The New York Jets continue their slide. Yes, they snuck in the back door of the AFC playoffs despite losing 38-34 in Chicago on Sunday afternoon. The supposed overpowering Jets defense is allowing 117 yards per game on the ground over the past four weeks. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, injured shoulder aside, has looked very pedestrian and as a result so has the Jets offense. Heading into the postseason on the heels of a second half to the season which has seen them go just 4-3, the Jets can't be confident in a deep postseason run. Furthermore, this is a team that can't just stay out of the newspaper. Never mind the off-the-field activities, they've never seen a camera they didn't find a need to stop and talk to. Take something from the 13-2 Patriots, having nothing to say actually works.

The San Diego Chargers are yet again a disappointment. Norv Turner would be fired before weeks end if I had anything to say about it. While I don't, the Chargers should really start to think seriously about both head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith. Why were both Marcus McNeil and Vincent Jackson not inked before the season started? McNeil is responsible for protecting your franchise quarterback, and Jackson is the top target of that very same Pro-Bowl caliber quarterback Phil Rivers, yet these are the players A.J. Smith decides to draw the line in the sand on? As for Norv, who should take responsibility for this club under performing? All this talent and the best Norv Turner can do is produce an 8-7 team in a very winnable division. The Chargers 14-point loss to a 4-11 Bengals team yesterday should shake up a very stale organization.

The New York Giants are in danger. Could their playoff hopes have been extinguished by DeSean Jackson last week? Since their mid-season five game winning streak, the Giants have taken a tumble. Heading to Washington next week, the Giants have won just three of their last seven games including losses against playoff bound Green Bay and Philadelphia. Even more alarming should be the 83-points this Giants team has given up in their most recent two losses. The Giants secondary has allowed seven touchdowns over that time and is showing huge holes for good quarterbacks to pass through. The Giants rushing game has been very average and performances like running back Ahmad Bradshaw's 12 carry, 31 yard game is exactly why. After turning the ball over six times on Sunday, the Giants are not only going to have to beat Washington on the road but also wait for help from the Bears against Green Bay.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Complete Pick 'Em: Week 16

Week 16 has come pretty fast hasn't it? A playoff-like atmosphere coming in Atlanta with an epic NFC South matchup between the Falcons & Saints on Monday night. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns from injury to try to win out and get Green Bay into the postseason. Mark Sanchez and the Jets travel to Chicago with their playoff lives on the line.

Let's Get After It . . .

Quick Word on Pittsburgh v. Carolina: The Steelers Thursday night 27-3 beatdown of the Panthers was probably the easiest 15-point spread I'm ever going to cover. Two teams going in opposite directions, the Panthers are going to part ways with head coach Jon Fox at the end of the season while the Steelers are planning for January football. Easy call. 1-0

Last Week: 8-8
On The Season: 123-93-7

Christmas Night 7:30 PM (EST)

Dallas At Arizona Under interim head coach Jason Garrett the Cowboys are 4-2 heading into Christmas day. Scoring 20.1 PPG over the first eight games, the Jason Garrett Cowboys are scoring 32.1 ppg over the last six. Backup quarterback Jon Kitna leads the NFL's 4th ranked passing offense into Arizona against a Cardinals team allowing nearly 230 yards-per-game through the air. Cowboys -7

Sunday 1:00 PM (EST)

New England At Buffalo The first time these two AFC East rivals met Buffalo lost by just eight points. A week after New England struggled to stop the Packers who ran up 370 yards of offense on the Patriots, they get a Buffalo team coming off a division win against Miami. The Bills can rush the ball and will hopefully avoid turnovers to keep things close against New England. Bills +9

New York (Jets) At Chicago The Bears have something to prove after getting their doors blown off against New England a couple weeks ago, they've got to prove they aren't just a good NFC team. With Sanchez on the mend, going against a Bears team with a quality pass rush isn't a good thing. Bears -1

Baltimore At Cleveland The Ravens passing offense still hasn't come together but running back Ray Rice sure looked good against New Orleans last week. With Baltimore shaping into playoff form, are the Browns still playing tough? With back to back losses to Buffalo and Cincy, I think Cleveland is going to pack it in even if this is a divisional opponent. Ravens -4

Tennessee At Kansas City Quarterback Matt Cassel's gutsy performance (lame pun, totally intended) after returning from an emergency appendectomy last week was great. The Chiefs are making a run at the postseason and aren't going to let Tennessee steal one here. In Arrowhead, the Chiefs are going to give their fans something to get excited about. Chiefs -5

San Francisco At St. Louis With NFC West division title hopes still up for grabs, the Rams are going to make a last ditch effort. The 49ers have been so disappointing this year and their 1-6 record on the road is exactly what I'm talking about it. I've been saying it for weeks, whether or not the Rams get into postseason this year what Sam Bradford has done as a rookie has exceeded every ones expectations. Rams -3

Detroit At Miami The Dolphins were hoping for a better season with less quarterback problems for sure, funny how the same can be said about Detroit. A matchup in Miami with a Dolphins team that is just 1-6 at home and a Lions team that is 1-6 on the road. I'll go with the Lions because they did me right last week. Lions +4

Washington At Jacksonville Still an opportunity for the Jaguars to get into the postseason, I can't see it happening. With Maurice Jones-Drew expected to be out with an injury, the Jaguars are going to have a tough time on Sunday. Washington gets one here, despite controversy flowing through the beltway. Redskins +7

Sunday 4:00 PM (EST)

San Diego At Cincinnati San Diego still has a shot at the postseason, and as long as they do expect big things from Phil Rivers. Winning out and having Oakland upset Kansas City would put San Diego into the postseason, hard to believe after their 2-5 start.Chargers -8

Houston At Denver If I was running the Texans organization, head coach Gary Kubiak would have already been jobless. They opened up the season 4-2 and looking like a playoff team, then they lost seven of their next eight. Tim Tebow gets his first win as a starter in Denver, the Broncos get a late Christmas gift. Broncos +3

Indianapolis At Oakland Did Oakland watch the Colts performance against Jacksonville last week? Indy opened up early slowing down Maurice Jones-Drew and forced the Jaguars offense to turn to their below average quarterback. The Colts game plan will be more of the same, while playing on the road. Oakland shakes things up. Raiders +3

New York (Giants) At Green Bay The Giants don't seem mentally tough after last weeks heartbreaking loss to Philadelphia. Which is exactly what Green Bay looks like after their wake-up call to New England on Sunday night just days ago. An offense that can spread it out, mix it up in the run game lately, the Packers and Rodgers flex their muscles at home. Packers -3

Seattle At Tampa Bay The Bucs are going to hand Seattle a loss almost guaranteeing that the Week 17 match up with St. Louis will decide the NFC West. To think that an either 7-9 or 8-8 team is going to reach the playoffs and host a home game is crazy to me, but Seattle, St. Louis, or San Francisco are poised to do just that. Buccaneers -6

Sunday Night 8:20 PM (EST)

Minnesota At Philadelphia Shouldn't the NFL find a way to flex a game into this Sunday night spot? A night later we're all going to get to see New Orleans @ Atlanta, a potential playoff game and the Sunday night gets the Vikings @ Philly. The Eagles are going to run it up and put this one away very early, that is unless you believe in Joe Webb. Eagles -15

Monday Night 8:30 PM (EST)

New Orleans At Atlanta Allow the hype to be built. Matt Ryan v. Drew Brees. Mike Smith v. Sean Payton. The 12-2 Falcons are preparing for home field throughout and only the Saints are sitting in their way. They bring their 6-0 home record, outscoring opponents 169-112 at home, winning every type of close call you can, the Falcons are bringing it. New Orleans remains in cloudy waters after Monday night. Falcons -3

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday Night: Week 16 Pick 'Em

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I almost let a Thursday night showdown go off without dropping my pick. A .500 slate last week (8-8), LynchyRightNow is aiming to break 130 wins this week. Panthers rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen coming off a 19-12 victory against Arizona last week, will fortunately miss out on playing against the injured Troy Polamalu.

Let's Get After It!

Last Week: 8-8
On The Season: 123-93-7

Carolina At Pittsburgh Pittsburgh is reeling after a costly loss to the Jets last week. With the division and a wild card still at play, Carolina might just be in their way. The Panthers flat out have no shot and clearly are playing for the number one pick. Don't expect much from Jimmy Clausen. Steelers -15

. . . Check back for the complete Week 16 Picks - Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All Football, All The Time: Mailbag

With receiver Austin Collie out, what are the Colts chances? - Whitney, Michigan

Collie's repeated concussions are really going to cause problems for Peyton Manning. Already missing both tight end Dallas Clark & running back Joseph Addai, the last thing Peyton needed was to be without Collie. The Colts 2nd year wide receiver caught 58 balls and scored eight touchdowns in just nine games. Clearly Manning was targeting Collie and hoping he'd be the difference maker in the Colt offense come the postseason. The Colts really haven't played well this season. Ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards and 28th in rushing yards allowed, their main concern should be around running the football. Possible playoff opponents New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Kansas City have all proven they can move the ball through the ground game this season. Too many injuries on both sides of the ball, I'm confident the Colts are one and done.

Thoughts on Mike Shanahan and the mess that has become the Washington Redskins? - Steve, New York

Why? I've never been a Mike Shanahan guy. His most successful seasons in Denver were more a product of Terrell Davis rushing for 1,700 yards and 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, not his coaching. Shanahan is a reputation guy, exactly what Redskins owner Daniel Snyder gives money for. He's paid out countless players on reputation alone because he doesn't know what he's doing, and coaches are no different in the Daniel Snyder world. Shanahan botched the Albert Haynesworth situation from day one, now he's doing the same with Donovan McNabb. He employs his son who has little or no respect as a coordinator in the NFL, at least not from the players. McNabb wasn't brought to Washington to play backup to Rex Grossman and John Beck, if Shanahan didn't think he was the guy they should have never brought him in. In two years Mike Shanahan will be out in Washington and Daniel Snyder will be starting over yet again, they put the fun in dysfunctional.

Which AFC playoff team presents the biggest challenge for the front-running New England Patriots? - Brett, Massachusetts

I'm convinced it's the 10-4 Baltimore Ravens. Three reasons: (1) January 2010, the Ravens went to New England and won convincingly, 33-14. It's going to take a team that has won in Foxboro previously to do it again. (2) Ray Rice is a game changing back, which New England witnessed first hand in last years postseason loss. When Cleveland was able to beat the Patriots earlier this season, they leaned on running back Peyton Hillis (184 yards). When Green Bay took New England to the wire on Sunday night, they leaned on a rushing attack that ripped off 140 yards on the Patriot defense. (3) The Ravens keep games close. Of their four losses, none are by more than five points. Baltimore hasn't given up 30 or more points but once. That is the type of defense and running game that can shake up New England.

Finally, a little college football . . .

As a Boise State supporter, you've got to really be upset about tonight's Utah v. Boise, MAACO Las Vegas Bowl? - Jeff, Idaho

I've had some time to really think about this since their November 26th overtime loss to Nevada. While I would love to see Boise State playing for the National Championship, they don't deserve to be. As for a BCS bowl game against a power conference program, say Arkansas or Ohio State, we'll just have to wait another year for that. Boise State had the smallest of margins to sneak their way into one of those post-New Year's Day bowl games, and they couldn't do it. Let's be realistic, do you know how difficult it is to go undefeated in the SEC as Auburn did or in the PAC-10 as Oregon did? Every close game has to go your way, every opportunity needs to be taken advantage of, every turnover has to land in your hands, kicks through the uprights, tipped passes, fumbled snaps, everything has to go your way. For Boise State, it's only fitting they find themselves playing in Nevada, the same state that saw their dream season hopes get snatched away.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 15

Last Week: 10-6
On The Season: 115-85-7

Thursday Night 8:20 PM (EST)

San Francisco At San Diego The Chargers are going to have to win out and get some help if they plan on reaching the postseason. Luckily, Phil Rivers is 20-1 in regular season games from December on. With Vincent Jackson starting in his second game since returning from his contract holdout, I like the Chargers big against a banged-up 49ers team. Chargers -10

Sunday 1:00 PM (EST)

Cleveland At Cincinnati The first time these two AFC North rivals met the Browns held on late with a 3-point victory on the legs of running back Peyton Hillis. That Bengals loss set off a string of 10-straight losses, a streak they're still in the midst of. Quarterback Carson Palmer is having his worst season of his eight-year career, and the Bengals are facing the reality that his career as a starter in Cincinnati may be over. One last gasp, Bengals -1

Washington At Dallas The Cowboys are 3-2 since Jason Garrett took over as interim head coach. Two 3-point losses to playoff bound Philadelphia and New Orleans have been their only slip-ups. The Redskins on the other hand, well the dysfunction continues in Washington with the benching of Donovan McNabb and starting of backup quarterback Rex Grossman. Cowboys flex their muscles and finally face a team without playoff hopes. Cowboys -8

Houston At Tennessee I feel for the Texans. After storming all the way back on Monday night against the Ravens then only to lose in overtime on an INT returned for a touchdown, rough. Lucky for the Texans woeful passing defense, the Titans don't have much in the area of dominating field general. However, with two underachieving teams squaring off in Tennessee, I'll take the home team. Titans -1

Jacksonville At Indianapolis The highlight of the 1:00 games, an AFC South match up for a playoff spot and the division championship. For all the injuries the Colts have suffered this season, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, and the list goes on, Indy still finds themselves in control of their own playoff destiny. The Jags however are the surprise of the AFC. At 8-5 with three games remaining, a victory in Indianapolis would put them in position to play host to a first round playoff game. This game is going to be close with the stakes that are on the line. Jags +5

Kansas City At St. Louis If backup Brodie Croyle is under center for Kansas City, they're in trouble. Rams running back Steven Jackson is having another good season, his sixth straight 1,000 yard rushing year. Why do I mention this? The Chiefs gave up over 200 yards rushing to San Diego just last week, they're about to do the same. Rams at home still looking for the NFC West crown, I like it. Rams -3

Buffalo At Miami Since the beginning of November the Bills are 3-3 and were a dropped pass away from dropping Pittsburgh in a 3-point overtime loss. Apparently someone forgot to tell Buffalo that they were playing to draft a franchise quarterback. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing a much higher level than expected and the Bills are winning games because of it. For a team that keeps things close, in a division game to boot, they earned some respect on the road. Bills +6

Philadelphia At New York (Giants) If the Giants are going to prove they are still in the mix for the NFC Championship, beating Philadelphia and taking control of the NFC East would go a long way to doing just that. In the Giants last two games they've outscored their opponents 52-10. Looking to put Mike Vick on the run and shake him up a bit, the Giants still have a top notch defense holding quarterbacks to just 185 yards passing against them, good for second in the NFL. Giants finally break through against a team that has beaten them six straight times. Giants -3

Detroit At Tampa Bay The Lions are going to steal one in Tampa today. With injuries swirling around Tampa Bay, losing rookie sensation Gerald McCoy last week, things have turned on the Buccaneers. Narrowly escaping Washington with a one-point victory last week, Tampa Bay will still have a shot at the postseason if they can beat Detroit and get some help from Philadelphia. I expect Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson to have a huge game against a secondary of cornerbacks I'm just not impressed with. Lions +5

Arizona At Carolina How is a 1-12 team favored? The Panthers are giving three points to a Cardinals team that scored 43-points against Denver last week. The Broncos did rush for over 100 yards against the Cardinals last weekend, the one thing Carolina does well. Alright, because I could care less about discussing two teams with no quarterbacks that will for sure be drafting in the top five, I'm going with the home team. Panthers -3

New Orleans At Baltimore How unimpressive is Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco? Flacco is surrounded with a ton of offensive weapons and still can't produce offensive powered victories. With a huge lead in Houston, Flacco still couldn't put away the Texans till the defense ended things in overtime. The Saints could really announce themselves with a victory in Baltimore, which I'm confident they'll do. Pierre Thomas back, Bush back, an offense scoring 30+ points per game in each of their last five. The Saints are planning to put it on Baltimore today. Saints +2

Sunday 4:00 PM (EST)

Atlanta At Seattle Much of the Falcons 2010 success can be put on the shoulders of running back Michael Turner. The Atlanta 1,000 yard rusher has gone over the century mark in seven of 13 games this season. Heading into their week 15 matchup with a defense that allows over 100 yards rushing per game, and over 260 through the air, the Falcons should be in top form today. Expect big games from quarterback Matt Ryan and Mike Turner. Falcons -7

Denver At Oakland What do the Denver brass have against rookie quarterback Tim Tebow? This is the time to start the 23-year old Florida rookie? Against a Raider defense that has sacked the quarterback 38 times, good for fourth in the NFL. The Raiders are going to get after Tebow early and often, expect them to rush the ball down Denver's 31st ranked rushing defense. Oakland big, they'll be licking their chops. Raiders -8

New York (Jets) At Pittsburgh At some point the loss to New England has to be put on the back burner for the Jets. Losing a third straight game in Pittsburgh will really take a toll on their rookie quarterback who is already as shaken as can be. It's about to get worse. The Steelers will rattle Sanchez and force him into mistakes, mistakes the Jets offense has shown they can't recover from. Steelers -5

Sunday 8:20 PM (EST)

Green Bay At New England Enough about New England. The Packers are in a really bad spot on Sunday night. With quarterback Aaron Rodgers out, the Packers playoff hopes are sliding away very fast. Not only are the Patriots going to blow up Green Bay, they're going to send them home very early. Green Bay has the Giants next week and Chicago to close the season out. Keep everyone healthy, get back to Green Bay in one piece and hope Minnesota shows up against the Bears tomorrow night. Patriots -15

Monday Night 8:30 PM (EST)

Chicago At Minnesota Chicago has a shot to put the division away with a victory against a reeling Vikings team. With a win at Gopher Stadium, Chicago will lock down the division and wait for the playoffs to begin. A week after being dismantled by Tom Brady, a week Chicago spent talking about field conditions, they've got be focused here. The Vikings have nothing to lose and should come to play with wrecklessness. Because I don't respect the Bears and haven't all season, Vikings +8.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Clear Cut

As the postseason picture becomes clearer and clearer by the day, things are picking up. Prior to releasing the LRN Week 15 Picks, we've got some house cleaning to do.

Quick Hits!

The New England Patriots should book their flight to North Texas now, because who's stopping them? Since mid-October they've gone on the road dropping San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. As for at home? Please. The Patriots don't lose games in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Ask Indianapolis, Baltimore, and of course the J-E-T-S, all who learned it the hard way. At 11-2 and 6-0 at home, the New England Patriots have carved up everyone in front of them and are leaving a wake of destruction behind them.

Further more . . . Tom Brady is the NFL MVP for the 2nd time, period. It isn't because Mike's a bad guy or Peyton caught the interception bug, it's because no player in the league has been this dominant in 2010. Brady hasn't thrown an INT since October 17th, a span of over 260 attempts. Against All-World defenses in Pittsburgh, New York, and Chicago, Brady has completed a mind numbing 69.4% of his passes to pair with 9 touchdowns and 1,045 yards through the air. Game over.

Jeff Fisher is done in Tennessee after dropping to 5-8 last Thursday night. In the midst of a six-game losing streak, including three straight to divisional opponents, Fisher is most likely finished at seasons end as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. The NFL's longest tenured head coach (16-years at the helm of the former Oilers and current Titans) will suffer his fifth losing season over that time if the Titans don't win out against Houston, Kansas City, and Indianapolis. Between the head coaches fallout with franchise quarterback Vince Young and a losing season, the Titans are in need of shakeup.

Jason Garrett has earned the right to be the next head coach of America's Team. They practice harder, they score more, they win more, and they flat out compete more. This is a different team than what Wade Phillips was putting on the field every week, different than a team that started the season a dreadful 1-7 prior to his firing. Now 3-2 under Garrett, with two losses of just a field goal each against playoff bound opponents, the Dallas Cowboys are playing somewhat like the team we had expected to see in 2010. In the post 45-7 debacle in Green Bay, the Cowboys are playing much better under the direct control of interim head coach Garrett, and they're doing it with 38-year old backup quarterback Jon Kitna. Hey Jerry, let's get this done quickly after the season ends.

The Texans are flat out snake bitten. After their bye week on October the 24th, they've not just hit a wall, they've smashed directly into it head first. Losing six of their last seven, four by a touchdown or less, the Texans now sit behind both Indianapoolis and Jacksonville all after starting out 4-2. After clawing and scratching their way back into their Monday night game against Baltimore, a game which saw quarterback Matt Schaub put together two 90+ yard drives to tie the game, the Houston fans watched it all melt away as Schaub threw an overtime interception resulting in a game-winning touchdown. That's just how things are going in the state of Texas, just how things are going.


It could be worse, you could be the Vikings. What do the Patriots do after Randy Moss? They win eight of their next nine while putting a strangle hold on the AFC postseason picture. The Vikings? They've fired their head coach Brad Childress, turned Tarvaris Jackson into a starting quarterback, and if that wasn't bad enough, had their roof collapse just before two back-to-back ghome games that would end their season at the Metrodome. Tough break!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Heisman Morning: Final Thoughts

[1] Cecil Newton isn't the first parent to ask for a hand out.

For us to sit wide-eyed with our jaws touching the floor, well that's just ludicrous. Is Cecil Newton wrong to 'pimp' his son to the highest SEC bidder? Absolutely, but was he the first? Of course not. I don't feel sorry that Cecil Newton and his son will not get to share what should be a night that father and son remember forever (I respect Cecil more now for willingly staying home), it's the bed they've made. However, I do refuse to hold their feet to the fire and pretend that Cecil Newton is the first parent to look for compensation in exchange for their child's athletic ability. He's a stage dad.

[2] Andrew Luck should be the runner-up in a close vote.

This isn't a one-horse race as much as The Worldwide Leader wants to convince us it is. 'Talking heads' from coast to coast should take a look at the numbers and show a little more respect to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. The junior Cardinal quarterback led Stanford to an 11-1 mark this season and a spot in the Discover Orange Bowl. Luck threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns while completing 70% of his passes carrying the Stanford offense. There is a reason Andrew Luck is in New York, and it isn't to just shake Cam Newton's hand as Newton accepts the Heisman.

[3] In the end, doesn't Cam's controversy make tonight more interesting?

Part of me still believes the Heisman voters are going to snub Cam Newton in the wake of everything that has happened, coupled with it taking place in the same year as the 2005 Reggie Bush Heisman is being removed from the record books. The voters haven't exactly been forthcoming as to who they'll vote for, they've been open about being torn because of 'smoke there's fire' which makes for much more drama than expected. Don't get me wrong, I wish we didn't have to sit through this and they'd just tell us who the winner is, but as a fan of drama, I'm all in.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 14

For those of you who dialed up your office pool picks with a little help from LynchyRightNow last week, you're welcome. Coming off a 13-3 Week 13: Pick 'Em we're feeling the pressure to come back just as strong this week.

A now 6-6 Indianapolis Colts team will be fighting for their playoff lives on Thursday night. The J-E-T-S are looking to regroup against Miami, just five days removed from their disaster in New England. Lastly, the resurgent Cowboys are yet again hosting an NFC East foe looking to improve to 4-1 under interim head coach Jason Garrett.

Let's get after it!

Last Week: 13-3
On The Season: 105-79-7

Thursday 8:20 PM (EST)

Indianapolis at Tennessee - I really underestimated Jacksonville against these same Titans last week. Tennessee is a mess and are seemingly just playing out the string in the midst of a 5-game slide. That being said, are the Colts that much better? The Indianapolis offense is a timing machine, when you pull out three or four parts to that well oiled machine, they're going to struggle. I like Peyton and the Colts to get back on track this week against the Titans setting up a huge AFC South game against Jacksonville next week. Colts -3

Sunday 1:00 PM (EST)

Cleveland at Buffalo I'm not going to act like I haven't been impressed by Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's already thrown for 20 touchdown passes, which is more than MVP candidate Michael Vick, Ravens starter Joe Flacco, and Jets franchise quarterback Mark Sanchez. However, I've been equally impressed by the Browns who have won five games and been in position to win several others. When it's a toss-up, I take the home team. Bills -1

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh These two teams showed who they are better than any in the league last week. Cincinnati jumped offsides on fourth down inside the twenty allowing the Saints to get a fresh set of downs and score the go-ahead, game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The Steelers defense attacked Joe Flacco and the Ravens in a low-scoring, great defensive struggle, winning a 3-point game on the road. So it's only fitting these two teams should meet this week. As bad as Cincinnati has been, throw records out the window, AFC North games are always close and this one should be no different. Bengals +8.5

Green Bay at Detroit It was a 2-point game the first time these two NFC North teams met, but this time the Lions will have to give the nod at quarterback to Drew Stanton because of injuries to Shaun Hill and starter Matthew Stafford. The Packers offense isn't Chicago's, they're more like New England's who put 45 points on the board against the Lions on Thanksgiving. Green Bay isn't in the business of having their playoff hopes crushed by Detroit, too focused to overlook the Lions on the road. Packers -6.5

New York (Giants) at Minnesota At 8-4 the Giants can't start looking to the playoffs just yet, especially when the 5-7 Vikings would love to win their third straight under Leslie Frazier. Whether Favre or backup Tarvaris Jackson gets the start, the Vikings plan will be to run the ball often after having success running it 40 times a week ago against the Bills. If the combination of Peterson and rookie Toby Gerhart can get going and control the clock, the Giants could have their hands full. It'll be close, and I'll take the better team. Giants -2

Tampa Bay at Washington The Bucs loss against Atlanta was huge last week. Dropping to 7-5 is going to make it very difficult to sneak into the postseason, they'll have to win and get some help. Washington is about as dysfunctional as an organization can get in the NFL, and the suspension of Albert Haynesworth is just the tip of the iceberg. The Bucs will get back to their winning ways in Washington holding on late. Buccaneers -1.5

Atlanta at Carolina The Falcons are the team to beat in the NFC flat out. With one game remaining against an above .500 team, the Saints, it seems as though the Falcons will finish with an impressive 13-3 record at worst. Provided they beat these 11-loss Panthers twice and the Seahawks next week, the Falcons will walk right into the playoffs as the top seed. Atlanta rolls. Falcons -7

Oakland at Jacksonville Okay. You got me. I didn't expect the Raiders to lay out San Diego like they did last week, and I certainly did expect Jacksonville to thump Tennessee like they did, two of my three losses in week 13. If I have to pick which team is for real, I'm going with the Jaguars who are more level-headed and will have an opportunity to play Indianapolis for a playoff spot once more. A battle of the 2nd and 3rd ranked rushing offenses in the league should be a good one. Jaguars -4

Sunday 4:15 PM (EST)

Seattle at San Francisco The 6-6 Seahawks are actually in position to win the division here. The 49ers are finishing the season with 3 of their remaining 4 games against NFC West opponents, including both the Rams and Seahawks battling it out for the division and a playoff spot. A surprising game that actually has playoff implications, yet not a person I know would be willing to sit through this game. I think Seattle can hang on the road and possibly take another step toward the postseason. Seahawks +5.5

St. Louis at New Orleans With the Rams competing for the NFC West and Saints looking for a Wild Card playoff berth, this game could be a preview into the first weekend of the playoffs. Despite winning each of their last two, against both Dallas and Cincinnati, the Saints came with in inches of losing both and must be thrilled to return home against a Rams team that is just 2-4 on the road. All due respect to Sam Bradford and everything he's accomplished, but I like the Saints to roll in this one. Saints -9

Miami at New York (Jets) The Jets must have a quality win this week against Miami, just to slap the taste of the New England loss out of their mouths. We'll see what kind of bounce back step Rex and the playoff bound Jets have in them this week. I'll take the Jets at home, simply because I can't think this team is as bad as they looked on Monday night, I do think the Patriots are THAT good though. Jets -5.5

Denver at Arizona This has got to be the week you want to see Arizona and get away from Colorado, the same week you fire your head coach. Like the Cowboys and Vikings before them, you don't want to face your own fans the same week. Arizona is awful and I think the Broncos will rally around their interim head coach. If you can't beat a team which lost each of their last seven, there might just be a bigger problem than the coach. Cardinals +5

Kansas City at San Diego As bad as the Chargers looked against Oakland last week, they'll bounce back against Kansas City for the simple fact that the AFC West just works like that. Oh, and Matt Cassel can't be feeling up to playing every down of a division game just five days after an emergency appendectomy. I'm not the only one who thinks so either, for the same reason that we've got a seven-point line on a San Diego team coming off a terrible showing. Chargers -7

New England at Chicago With any 3-point spread, consider popular opinion to be pretty close to even. I'll use what I saw with my eyes instead of opinion, a Patriots team that smashed a very well coached defense in Rex Ryan's Jets. Tom Brady is preparing himself an MVP caliber season and a convincing win against what many consider to be the best defense in the NFC, well that'd just add to his legend. It worked for last week so I'm sticking with it. Patriots -3.

Sunday 8:20 PM (EST)

Philadelphia at Dallas Down impressive rookie Dez Bryant, Jason Garrett's Cowboys can prove something this week, something that would have served them better in week 1 rather than week 14. However, they can convince everyone they aren't as far away as some thought prior to the firing of Wade Phillips. Garrett and the Cowboys put together gameplans to beat these Eagles at the end of last season and again in the playoffs, who thinks he can't now just because Michael Vick is the quarterback? (slowly raising my hand) But, they're my team . .I can't do it. Cowboys +4

Monday 8:20 PM (EST)

Baltimore at Houston I just continue to be unimpressed with Baltimore each week. Joe Flacco doesn't look like he is taking the strides we'd thought he would given the added weapons, and maybe he just won't. However, Baltimore is fighting to keep their playoffs alive while Houston has lost 5 of their last 6 to fall to 5-7. Baltimore will keep this one close and get a win late. Ravens -3.

For more picks and up-to date commentary, find me on TheRightNowPodcast & Twitter!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

LRN NFL READY: Where they should go

With the regular season over and the Heisman being polished, some college football players are looking toward their NFL futures. As NFL teams jockey for position atop the Spring NFL Draft, let's see who's out there and where we think they'll land . . .

Mock It Up! Get After It!

Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska I've watched some film on the Cornhusker senior and from what I've seen, I'm impressed. Amukamara is a bit undersized listed at 6'1", which I believe to be a stretch from watching him play opposite Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, who is also listed at 6'1". However, after re-watching his performance against Colt McCoy and Texas during the 2009 Big 12 Championship, he makes up for it. Amukamara is very quick and recovers extremely well, more so he's an excellent tackler. Playing under former LSU defensive coordinator and now current Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, Amukamara has learned to play top tier defense.

Who needs him most? The Dallas Cowboys are really in need of secondary help. Third-year cornerback Mike Jenkins has had an awful season and Terence Newman isn't getting any younger (32-years old, 8 seasons). If Prince is available in that 8-15 range, the Cowboys will have to consider him.

Patrick Peterson, CB LSU Hands down, Patrick Peterson should be the most coveted player in the 2011 NFL Draft. He's the anchor of a defense that held opponents to just 17 points a game. The LSU junior cornerback was most recently named to the 2010 Coaches Association All-American team, a team which includes the previously mentioned Amukamara, Air Force's Reggie Rembert, and Sooner Quinton Carter, all the nation's top defensive backs. Peterson has played against two of the top receivers in the country for the past two seasons in A.J. Green from Georgia and Julio Jones at Alabama, and played very well. Whether it's playing the run, blitzing off the edge, or squaring up against the top receivers, Peterson is phenomenal. Did I mention he's also an even scarier return man?!?

Who needs him most? The Detroit Lions need a player like Peterson in their secondary, and they'll have an opportunity to get him as one of the top three picks. Currently Detroit gives up close to 230 passing yards per game, however more alarming would be the average QB rating against them is 96.3!

Andrew Luck, QB Stanford He is and has been the best quarterback prospect in the country, even before Washington's Jake Locker took a step back in his senior season. With former 1,800-yard running back Toby Gerhart graduating, head coach Jim Harbaugh put more of the Stanford offense on Andrew Luck's shoulders in 2010, and Luck took advantage of it. In 2010 Luck increased his completion percentage by 13.9%, his passer rating by 22.63%, his touchdown total by 15, his attempts by 83, and his passing yards by almost 500. The 2010 Heisman Candidate is a prototypical NFL quarterback prospect. At 6'4", 235 lbs, Andrew Luck not only plays the part but he absolutely looks it. Over 3,000 yards passing in the regular season, Luck will take center stage in the Discover Orange Bowl against Bud Foster's Virginia Tech defense, and NFL teams will get one more look the Stanford field general.

Who needs him most? Carson Palmer is done and the Cincinnati Bengals need Andrew Luck most, and a head coaching change. Luck has shown the ability to progress in an NFL style system at Stanford while being coached up by former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh. If the Bengals were to begin cleaning house and rebuilding, Luck would be the cornerstone.

Nick Fairley, DT Auburn With all the buzz around the Auburn Tiger offense that scores a mind numbing 43 points-per-game, people overlook a ferocious defense lead by 6'5", 295 lb. junior Nick Fairley. With 10.5 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss, Nick Fairley has dominated the SEC in 2010. I will admit that there is more than one instance of Fairley showing immaturity on the field whether it be late hits or the near brawl he almost caused against Georgia after driving his helmet through quarterback Aaron Murray, yet those could all be signs of an intensity with which he plays the game. Fairley is one of these guys who should impress people during combine season, he's got enough speed to move his near three-hundred pound frame right into the backfield causing havoc for defensive coordinators. Giving the success of Ndamukong Suh in Detroit, teams will be more likely to draft a player with nearly the same physical dimensions.

Who needs him most? The Buffalo Bills are the worst team in the NFL against the run. Giving up 170-rushing yards per is a massive problem, exactly what Fairley can help improve. Against Alabama this season, Fairley and the Auburn defense held Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram to just 60 yards on 20 carries combined!

Da'Quan Bowers, DE Clemson The ACC Defensive Player of The Year, a first team Coaches Association All-American, Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, Da'Quan Bowers is one dominant defensive player. Recording 16 sacks in his junior season, Bowers broke out. While his inconsistency over his first several years at Clemson is concerning, his speed off the edge as a pass rusher can't be overlooked. I had the pleasure of watching Bowers play in person against Boston College and it's tough to not cue in on Bowers applying pressure to the quarterback and making the running back find his hole even quicker than normal. He's got size and speed that remind me of Indianapolis Colts pass rushing monster Dwight Freeney.

Who needs him most? The Carolina Panthers once drafted an elite Carolina born defensive end who anchored their defense for eight seasons. Now with Julius Peppers gone, the Carolina born Da'Quan Bowers could be the answer to bringing back a defense that currently allows nearly 340 yards per game.

Marcell Dareus, DT Alabama The 'Bama defensive tackle is tailor made for the NFL and has been since last season. Dareus runs a 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, for a guy with a 300 lb. frame that's impressive. However, even with the All-SEC honors and being part of a top ranked defense for at least two seasons, Dareus has character issues. Suspended for the first two games this season due to NCAA infractions, Dareus took a while to get going. For a player who jumped out front and center during the National Championship game a season ago, taking two games off then another two to get going, wasn't exactly what scouts were looking for from Dareus. All things considered, the guy gets after the quarterback which is something every team in NFL needs.

Who needs him most? Whatever the Denver Broncos decide to do with their head coaching vacancy, they've got their work cut out for them. Allowing a head coach with no experience to trade away your frachise quarterback and all-pro receiver is your own fault. Build up your defense by adding Dareus and getting Pro Bowler Elvis Dumervil to come back form injury. It's a solid move.

Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue The Purdue senior is a very, very good football player and he's about as strong a football player as you're going to draft in 2011. Kerrigan is a 6'4", nearly 270 lb. defensive end who stuffs the run in the Big 10 conference. His most impressive game this past season had to be against Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines, a game which saw Kerrigan record 10 solo tackles and sacking Robinson four times while holding him to just over 3 yards per carry. I expect Kerrigan to be a lock high-first round selection given he picks up his speed during combine week. No questions about character, a three-year starter who got a ton of time as a freshman, teams love seniors who have played at a high level throughout their career in the collegiate ranks.

Who needs him most? The Seattle Seahawks went out and got their offensive tackle last season and their linebacker the previous season, time to bolster their defensive line. I like Kerrigan for Seattle, he adds to a defense that is developing a bunch of young talent and adding Kerrigan would certainly continue that trend. Defense is the side of the ball Seattle needs to work on through the draft, 28th isn't good enough for a team playing in the NFC West.

Cam Newton, QB Auburn I'm including the future Heisman Trophy winner, (we'll see on Saturday) just because I actually think he can play in the NFL. A couple things come into play here with Newton: [1] I gave Sam Bradford no shot in the NFL during pre-draft discussions, so I'm not going to be as hard on Cam Newton. [2] We've given everyone a shot in this league in 2010, from Rusty Smith of Florida Atlantic to John Skelton of Fordham, we can give Newton the benefit of the doubt. [3] Tell me the difference between Vince Young and Cam Newton when they played at the collegiate level? Haven't we always said that if Vince could get his head straight he could produce at a high level in this league? Look, Cam Newton is a game changer from what we've seen, I do believe with a quality running game and receivers who can go up and get the ball, Newton can duplicate some of the same success that he has experienced this season early in his career.

Who needs him most? The Arizona Cardinals would be an interesting fit for Cam Newton. I think Ken Whisenhunt wouldn't mind a young athletic quarterback that he can move outside the pocket and find Larry Fitzgerald down the field. If Beanie Wells can stay healthy the Cardinals could have a core of young talent that can take the NFC West by storm. Who wouldn't want to see battles between Newton & Bradford for the next six years in that division? I think it's an interesting fit.

Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State After watching Dez Bryant on Dallas and Blackmon at Oklahoma State, I'm convinced he and Blackmon are the same person. Justin Blackmon is a big, physical wideout that goes up and takes the ball away from defensive backs. He's the only receiver who seemed to get the best of Nebraska All-American Prince Amukamara, that's because he's physically imposing. Again though, he's got the character issues people were concerned about with Bryant which also made him drop in the first round. Let's take a peak at the numbers for a second; The Oklahoma State receiver caught 18 touchdown passes this season, 1,665 yards, averages 16.3 yards per catch, and make no mistake about it, dominated the Big 12. In every game he played this season, he caught a touchdown pass. However, getting arrested mid-season for DUI isn't exactly the way to impress NFL onlookers.

Who needs him most? The Cleveland Browns would be a very good fit. Immediately Justin Blackmon would add to an offense that has had it's share of success this season with running back Peyton Hillis. I've also got to think that the Browns want to surround Colt McCoy with as much talent as they can, if he's their quarterback of the future, why would they wait? With Joe Thomas already a great left tackle in the NFL, the success of Hillis, Josh Cribbs, and even Mohamed Massaquoi, wouldn't Blackmon be a great addition to an emerging offense?!?

Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas Now hold on, I'm not a Mallett fan. For some reason I believe he screams myth. Against LSU, Auburn, and Mississippi, Mallett completed no more than 13 passes in each of those games. Then again he has put together two straight seasons of 30 touchdowns and 3,500+ yards passing, which is more than eye opening. With more than one team in desperate need of a franchise quarterback, the numbers Mallett has put up are going to look really enticing. Allow me to caution teams on another Bobby Petrino product: Brian Brohm, who showed similar production at the collegiate ranks and has yet to get an opportunity in the NFL.

Who needs him most? Tennessee Titans or San Francisco 49ers really need a starting quarterback. Troy Smith isn't the guy in San Francisco and Tennessee really has to make a decision on Jeff Fisher or Vince Young, if they stick with Fisher which is what they should do, then he needs a quarterback he can coach up and rely on week in and week out. San Francisco could be moving toward a coaching change which is the perfect time to bring in your quarterback, like Ravens, Falcons, Lions, and Rams have all successfully done as of late.

Always find more Lynchy at Twitter and audio on TheRightNowPodcast . .

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hasn't it worked out?

Hasn't the BCS as we know it worked out? What questions are left unanswered? The #1 & #2 will play each other for the National Championship. They've been the most dominating teams from wire-to-wire. They've been tested in two of the toughest conferences in the country. Come January 10th, the 13-0 SEC champion Auburn Tigers will meet the 12-0 PAC-10 champion Oregon Ducks for the National Championship. Aside from folks in North Texas, does anyone object?!?

For those undefeated, #3 Horned Frogs, consider the National Championship hopes put to bed. It's an issue that will no longer be at the start of the 2012 season when Texas Christian hits the Big East, but for now they just don't have the quality wins their undefeated counterparts do. Oregon hung 50+ points on a #5 ranked Stanford team that lost just one game. Auburn boasts SEC victories against #8 ranked Arkansas, #11 ranked LSU, #19 ranked South Carolina, and #15 ranked Alabama. Texas Christian's most impressive victory, a 40-point win against a Utah team that while ranked #20 in the country was outscored by TCU and (7-5) Notre Dame to the tune of 75-10. I respect how great Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs have been and how incredibly difficult it is to go undefeated, however I'm not about watch them jump two teams from power conferences with the same unblemished record and get a shot in Glendale. Handle Wisconsin in Pasdena, we'll raise an eyebrow.

A humbled Boise State headed to Las Vegas just doesn't sit well with me. When I went all-in with the Broncos, I understood what I was getting myself into. Playing in the WAC does Boise no favors. They can't lose any games, they can't narrowly pull out victories, they've got to win and win big each and every week. So when Boise State was devastated in #13 Nevada (12-1) the undefeated season, the BCS bowl game, the possible National Championship, it all fell by the way side. However, just for a moment hear me out. The 33-30 victory way back on September 6th against a legitimate BCS heavyweight should mean more. Despite what you think about the Atlantic Coast Conference, Virginia Tech is better than their #12 AP ranking. On September 6th Boise State went toe-to-toe with an eventual BCS conference champion, less than 300 miles from Blacksburg, Virginia and beat them straight up. Yet after a loss to a very good Nevada team, the Broncos are headed to Las Vegas and the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, nope that doesn't sit well with me at all.

Have you seen Auburn quarterback Cam Newton play? Seeing Cam Newton play in 2010 has been the ultimate college football fans treat. He's been more than explosive, as evidence by the 48 touchdowns (20 rushing, 28 passing) he's posted. He's time and again put the undefeated Tigers on his back and taken over games. In Starkville, in Oxford, in Tuscaloosa, in Atlanta during Saturday's SEC Championship game, Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers have handled their business throughout 2010. With their ticket to the BCS National Title game already punched, Cam Newton has some hardware to collect in New York on December 11th. Whether you like or not, excuse me, whether you feel good about or not, Heisman voters have two choices. [1] Make Cam Newton who's been the most electric player in college football since, er . .cough, cough, Reggie Bush, the next Heisman Trophy winner or [2] Don't send in a ballot. If you still want to take a stand on character, don't vote. Cam Newton has been hands down the undisputed best player in the game, and there is no question about it after his performance in the SEC Championship - 335 yards passing, 4 touchdown passes, 73 yards rushing, 2 rushing touchdowns. Nuff' said.

Wisconsin, Michigan State, & Ohio State - you get Roses, Sugar, & 'Bama deal with it! Any time I get a chance to bang on the big, ugly, slow Big Ten conference, I'm taking it. Besides slapping around teams in your own conference, what's so impressive?!? Is it Wisconsin's 20-19 victory at home against PAC-10 foe Arizona State (6-6)? Is it Ohio State's 36-24 win over ACC foe Miami, a team that finished losing 3 of their final 5 then firing their head coach? Or maybe it's Michigan State's win over Notre Dame on a trick play, a Notre Dame team that also lost to Tulsa in South Bend. Oh, and that same Michigan State team had the fortunate Big 10 schedule of not playing Ohio State. You'll get your shots though. We'll see if Wisconsin can go out and hang seventy points on a TCU team that has held opponents to just 11.4 per game in the Rose Bowl. We'll see if big mouth Ohio State can beat a 10-2 Arkansas team in the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes got beat up by another SEC team in LSU back in 2007 and Florida in 2006, think they're excited about playing Arkansas in SEC Country ('Nawlins, LA)? Finally, Michigan State will play a 9-3 Alabama team looking to salvage their season as defending National Champions. As good as MSU has been, they've yet to play a team with as much talent as both of the Tide running backs Richardson and Ingram who've now got a month to get healthy. Sure, the Big Ten are represented well in the BCS, but we'll see what kind of conference tehy really are during bowl season.

With over a month before we ready ourselves for the National Championship the ride this college football regular season has taken us on has been a great one.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 13

Between Thanksgiving, Sunday, & Monday . . .I needed a few days off from all the pigskin action. Finishing last week at 8-7-1, we're looking to bounce back in Week 13 at LynchyRightNow. The Falcons head on the road to division rival and NFC surprise Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh and Baltimore lock horns in another AFC North matchup with first place on the line. Finally, we get what we've been waiting for, Jets at Patriots!

Last Week: 8-7-1
On The Season: 92-76-7

Let's get after it!

Thursday Night 8:20 PM [EST]

Houston At Philadelphia Michael Vick and the Eagles may have been exposed by Chicago's defense, but there aren't to many defenses that can get after you like that. Vick won't have an easy night but his speed receivers will be able to get open against this secondary. Look toward LeSean McCoy to have a big game. I can't decide if Andre Johnson will be able to expose the Philadelphia secondary in the absence of Asante Samuel missing his second straight game. Maybe too many points, but I like the Eagles in their place, if I bet on sports. Eagles -8

Sunday 1:00 PM [EST]

New Orleans At Cincinnati After escaping Dallas on Thanksgiving with a win, the Saints have had more than a week to prepare for the 2-9 Bengals. Finally playing like defending champions, the Saints have won four straight and have their sights on the winning the division first. Cincinnati is what their record is, a nine-loss team. Saints -6.5

Chicago At Detroit The perfect trap game for Chicago. After their dominating defensive performance against Philadelphia on Sunday, Chicago goes on the road to division rival Detroit. The last two times these teams played, the Lions were robbed off a late game touchdown which would have given them their first win of the season way back in week 1. Chicago's offense is still suspect, despite the recent good play of Jay Cutler. I think the Lions can sneak one in here, this is a team they know and play well against. Lions +5

San Francisco At Green Bay The Packers are putting plenty of points on the board winning four of their last five. With Frank Gore out the 'Niners are going to have to lean on veteran Brian Westbrook who went for 23 carries and 136 yards last week against Arizona. The Packers at home are too much for a banged up 49er offense who got shut out by Tampa's defense just a couple weeks ago. Packers -9

Jacksonville At Tennessee The Jaguars impressed me more in a loss last week than any of their wins. Jacksonville put themselves in position to beat the Giants in The Meadowlands to only come away with a 24-20 road loss late. They can put pressure on the quarterback and slow down the run. With Kerry Collins probably starting for the Titans, they won't be shut out like they were in Houston a week ago. Titans +4

Denver At Kansas City The last time these two division rivals played, it got out of hand. The Broncos hung nearly 50 points on the Kansas City defense and head coach Josh McDaniels was called out by the Chiefs for running up the score. This time they're giving nine points to that same Broncos team? The AFC West games are closer than expected and this one should follow the same suit. Even if Kansas City has an axe to grind. Broncos +9

Cleveland At Miami I didn't like how Cleveland seemed to play down to Carolina last week narrowly winning out but blowing a halftime lead. This will be a game between to teams very much needing a win. Eric Mangini is coaching for his job and Tony Sparano isn't that much further behind him. Both of these teams are going to run the ball and keep this one close. Browns +5

Buffalo At Minnesota The Vikings are more behind Leslie Frazier than they were behind Childress. A 17-13 win in Washington was exactly what they needed a week sago. Their key to beating Buffalo is trusting their rushing offense, with or without Adrian Peterson. As well as Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been playing, he's playing for his next job. Vikings -6

Washington At New York (Giants) The Giants have got to be frustrated with their performance against Jacksonville. After Philadelphia took care of business on Thursday night, all New York has to do now is keep pace and get division wins. Washington will slip to 5-7 and look to regroup. Giants by a touchdown seems reasonable. Giants -7

Sunday 4:00 PM [EST]

Oakland At San Diego Oh you have to love what San Diego has been doing. They started off 2-5 and have since shot out of a cannon with four straight wins eyeing two division games in a row with an opportunity to take over first place. In San Diego's 36-14 victory Indianapolis, the Chargers went on the road and torched a good team on their own field. If you're still looking for an MVP candidate, look no further than Phil Rivers who is in the midst of a phenomenal season. If Oakland had shown anything over the last two weeks, there is no way I'd give them 13 points, but I'm going to do it. Chargers -12.5

Dallas At Indianapolis I can't stress how badly the Cowboys needed that victory on Thanksgiving Day, it was that important. I for one did not think that Indy would lose two straight, but three?!? I'm sure Peyton Manning hasn't lost three games in a row since his first couple seasons in the league. I really want to see the Cowboys come out and show how much better they've become under Garrett, but I'm not sold just yet. Cowboys +6

St. Louis At Arizona Derek Anderson, you know who takes this seriously? Sam Bradford. The Rams rookie quarterback can have his Rams back to .500 with a win in Arizona, and that means something. In just his first year he is changing the culture in St. Louis and shows a ton of promise. The Cardinals have no answer at this point and are quickly wasting Larry Fitzgerald. Rams -3

Carolina At Seattle I like Seattle when they play at home and this Carolina team is nothing more than a joke at this point. They're playing for a first pick overall at and will probably get it. The truth is, they wouldn't have been in that game at Cleveland if not for Jake Delhomme and his awfulness. Seattle giving six points?!? Why not?!? Seahawks -6

Atlanta At Tampa Bay Not many thought that a Week 13 game in Tampa would have huge playoff and division implications, but it does. The NFC South is a close race. A game between Tampa and New Orleans, a victory for the Bucs would go a long way to proving how good they really are. With Atlanta coming off a huge win against Green Bay, they better get right back to it this week and not sleep on a quality Bucs team. Falcons -3

Sunday Night 8:20 PM [EST]

Pittsburgh At Baltimore These two teams are pretty even. I can't ignore the fact that Baltimore's 16th ranked passing offense isn't exactly what I had expected from them before the season started. They're still a defense first team trying to get enough points to hold on. I love Pittsburgh's defense who is tops in the NFL in rush defense and close to tops against the pass. A very low scoring game here, the Steelers and Roethlisberger pull one out late. Steelers +3

Monday Night 8:20 PM [EST]

New York (Jets) At New England Tom Brady and the Patriots have had extended time to spend on planning for the Jets. They got their swagger going very strong against Detroit and Indianapolis, it's same old Patriots and the Jets are about to feel that. Whatever doubt you had in Rex Ryan's ability to lead this team Jets team to a Super Bowl, a win in New England would end that discussion. If your a fan of big time professional football, this is a massive game on Monday night, the NFL couldn't have expected how great this is going to be. I'll take Patriots -3

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