Revisiting the Weekend

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Revisiting the Weekend

I told you I’d bounce back. San Diego kept me from going perfect at 4-0 but I’ll take a 3-1 record after a pathetic week 5. I’m a mediocre 6-7 now but I plan to blow past .500 with my next round of picks. If not for that fluke (I said it, FLUKE) weekend of two weeks ago, I’d have a respectable prediction record. I went 3-1 my first week and 3-1 last week which is pretty impressive but that O-for weekend really nailed me. Ah well. It’s a long season and I plan to go at least 3-1 on my next go round. If you were fortunate to catch any of the games last weekend, it was a great weekend. In case you miss anything, here’s your recap.

 

 

 

Baltimore Ravens vs. Minnesota Vikings

 

What I predicted …

Vikings 30-20

 

What I said would happen …

“The Ravens aren’t the same hardnosed stout defense that they used to be and teams have been having success against them through the air. Ironically, Minnesota is slowly shifting the focus from a strong running team to a very balanced attack that can beat you through land or air. On the road, no starting left tackle and playing one of the stronger teams in football could be too much for a young QB to handle.”

What actually happened …

Minnesota won 33-31 and the Vikings jumped out to a big lead before allowing Baltimore to come back from a 27-10 deficit. Brett Favre passed for 278 yards and Adrian Peterson ran for 143 yards on the afternoon. The Ravens mounted a serious comeback to take the lead briefly at 31-30 with 3:37 remaining in the fourth. Favre responded with a 58-yard heave to Sidney Rice that set the Vikings up for the winning field goal. Ravens QB Joe Flacco marched the team down for a 44-yard field goal but Baltimore kicker Steve Hauschka couldn’t convert.

My reactions …

The Minnesota Vikings are a good team but also a fortunate one. Games against the San Francisco 49ers and Ravens could’ve gone either way but the Vikings found a way to prevail. If Favre can keep up his superb play up and Peterson remain healthy, Minnesota is going to be a tough out in the playoffs. At 6-0, they’re in a deadlock race with the 5-0 Saints and 5-1 Giants for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Whichever team can secure homefield will be vital for each team’s Super Bowl aspirations. Before those aspirations grow any larger, they must first check the status of top cornerback Antoine Winfield, who was injured in Sunday’s game with the Ravens. Should Winfield miss any time , results could be disastrous. Baltimore scored 28 of their 31 points in Winfield’s absence in the second half. Stay tuned.

The Ravens are at a crossroads. Although they’ve shown they can score points when needed, their defense is surrendering too many yards and points. There’s still a lot of time for them to tighten up as the season goes on but even if they do, signal callers such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Phillip Rivers could be waiting for them in the postseason. Flacco continues to grow as a quarterback and is showing that no game is too big for him and Baltimore in return is showing no hesitation in putting the ball in Flacco’s hands should the running game stall.

The Ravens were rumored to be in talks with both Buffalo and Kansas City concerning trades for their top receivers. Terrell Owens and Dwayne Bowe were the topics of those trade discussions and the acquisition of either could put the offense on Super Bowl level.

 

 

New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints

What I predicted …

Saints 28-25

 

What I said would happen …

“The Saints are clicking right now and may come out even fresher from their bye. New York usually doesn’t flinch in the eye of big-time matchups like these but the health of Manning is a serious concern. The Saints have been harassing passers all year and have had two weeks to scheme for what will undoubtedly be the biggest game of the year so far. If Manning was healthy, the Giants would be a logical and safe pick but Manning’s status could be an issue.”

 

What actually happened …

The Saints blasted the Giants 48-27. Drew Brees aerially assaulted the Giants secondary for 369 yards passing and four touchdowns. Brees surgically operated on New York’s depleted secondary and New Orleans jumped out to a 41-17 lead over one of the league’s best teams. An injured Manning could only produce 178 yards on 31 attempts and the Saints defense took full advantage of Manning’s Plantar Fasciitis. The Giants had their chances to early in the game but New Orleans just jumped all over them. With two weeks to prepare, the Saints were locked and loaded for a big time matchup and it showed.

 

My reactions …

Every week New Orleans grows stronger and stronger as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Several sports writers picked the Giants as their Super Bowl representative and New Orleans took them apart on Sunday. The fact that the Giants came into the game with two members missing from their secondary and Manning hobbled was key but with the way the Saints played they probably would’ve still won by two touchdowns regardless of who was playing for New York. The Superdome is a serious homefield advantage for New Orleans and when they start putting points on the board in bunches, the setting is just a nightmare for visiting teams. Now the Saints have a swarming defense and Reggie Bush returns punts for them which makes them a pretty solid all-around team. They’re a legit pick to go to and win the Super Bowl. Stay tuned.

The Giants still lead the NFC East at 5-1 so Sunday’s demolishing wasn’t the end of the world. As pointed out on Sunday, the Giants will need to get healthy if they want to compete with Minnesota and New Orleans. Chris Canty, Aaron Ross and Michael Boley all missed Sunday’s contest and Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw came in dinged up. New York may have the strongest roster in the league but they haven’t been fully healthy all season to show what they can do. The fact that they’re 5-1 at this point shows how strong the team is and once they get some key members back, they’ll be more than ready to redeem themselves after Sunday’s embarrassment. Stay tuned.

 

Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons

 

What I predicted …

Falcons 34-24

 

What I said would happen …

Cutler won’t be fazed by the raucous Atlanta crowd and his poise will definitely inject the fight into his Chicago teammates. It could be a high scoring game and with both teams relatively healthy and serious implications on the line, the game should come down to the wire. If Chicago can hold off the wave that they will undoubtedly encounter then they should be fine. If they flinch just the slightest bit then the Falcons will cruise to the finish.”

 

What actually happened …

Atlanta won 21-14 and it came down to a last drive to preserve the victory. Cutler and Matt Ryan went toe to toe and if not for three turnovers deep in Atlanta territory, Chicago could’ve left the Georgia Dome 4-1. Atlanta made enough plays to win the game but wasn’t overly spectacular. Ryan was steady and the Falcons found a way to win despite only rushing for 68 yards as a team. The Falcon defense came up with big stops and Atlanta won a game they really had no business winning.

 

My reactions …

Cutler is a dangerous quarterback. He may throw a pick or two but he’ll keep you in the game until the end. He’s got a live arm and he’s not afraid to take chances down the field. Things haven’t really opened up for Matt Forte or Greg Olsen but their trio has the potential to make for a dangerous combination as they get more accustomed to each other throughout the season. The Bears defense is an average unit but Cutler’s arm strength and courage will keep Chicago in every game.

The Falcons are finding out that they can win ugly as well as pretty. For all the accolades that circle their offense, their defense has been pretty good this year. Running back Michael Turner isn’t having the same type of season he had last year but the passing personnel in Atlanta suggests he’ll pick it up sooner or later. There might not be a better offensive quartet than Ryan, Roddy White, Turner and Tony Gonzalez. Atlanta’s defense may be playing well but they’re not great. If the Falcons want to go anywhere this season, Ryan and Co will be the reason why. The Falcon defense may be a year or two away from being Super Bowl steady but the offense is definitely a unit that teams have to fear.

 

Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers

 

What I predicted …

Chargers 24-17

 

What I said would happen …

This will be Denver’s first big time game on the road and it will be interesting to see how they respond. The Chargers really can’t afford to leave Monday night 2-3 with Denver 6-0. They won’t and Rivers will make enough big throws to give them the edge.”

 

What actually happened …

Denver won 34-23 and were sparked by a kick and punt return from Eddie Royal. Denver got the stops they needed in the fourth while San Diego couldn’t. Broncos QB Kyle Orton was flawless on a night when his running game wasn’t giving him anything. Rivers played pretty well but didn’t get much help from his pass protection or running game. Orton went 20-for-29 with over 200 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos held the high-flying Chargers offense to 16 points on the road which is extremely impressive. San Diego couldn’t capitalize on a few red zone opportunities and they lost a key game that could’ve sparked a turnaround to their season.

 

My reactions …

There’s still a long season ahead so it’s plenty of time for San Diego to catch up but they must play significantly better on defense for that to even happen. They’re also going to need Denver to lose a few games and even with the Broncos playing incredible right now, they still have some tough opponents ahead. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the New York Giants all await Denver so San Diego shouldn’t be too discouraged from Monday’s defeat.

Denver remains the only undefeated team in the AFC at 6-0 and they’re playing at a high level right now. The defense is clicking and the offense simply isn’t making mistakes. The Broncos are tied for second in the league for fewest turnovers with five. Denver will go into their bye week with a chance to get fresh for the stretch run. With their tough stretch already outlined, health is going to be key if the Broncos want to seriously challenge for homefield advantage. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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