Monday Night NFL analysis: The Tennessee Titans host the Pittsburgh Steelers for the week 11 edition of Monday night football from LP field in Nashville, Tennessee.
Before last Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the toast of the town, and Ben Roethlisberger had fantasy owners jumping for joy as they has reeled off 3 straight impressive wins over Houston, Indianapolis, and Baltimore. Ben Roethlisberger became the second quarterback in NFL history to have 6 touchdown passes in 2 consecutive games. All the high praises suddenly stopped last weekend when they looked like the Steelers we saw at the beginning of the season, losing to the now 2-8 New York Jets 20-13. The Steelers committed 4 turnovers (2 fumbles, 2 int’s) and looked sloppy in what some were saying was a big letdown spot for Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger has a plethora of weapons at his disposal, with running back Le’Veon Bell, and wide receivers Antonio Brown, Marcus Wheaton, and talented rookie Martavius Bryant. The defense has been inconsistent, but they’ve played better as of late. They are ranked 23rd in the league in total defense, and have dealt with their fair share of injuries throughout the season.
There hasn’t been much to celebrate in Tennessee this season, as they sit at 2-7 and are 3rd in the AFC South. Their season started out on a good note, with a 26-10 victory at Kansas City. Since then they’ve lost 7 out of their last 8, and 3 in a row. They are coming off a 21-7 loss at Baltimore, a game that might have been a lot closer if it wasn’t for two turnovers, one being at the Baltimore 1 yard line. The Titans have had their fair share of close losses this season, losing at Washington by 2, and losing to Cleveland by 1. Rookie quarterback Zach Mettenburger will be making his third NFL start after taking over the starting position in late October. He’s had his struggles, completing 61% of his passes for 495 yards and 3 touchdowns with 3 interceptions. His decision making has been somewhat slow, as he’s been sacked 7 times in his two starts. He definitely has some talent around him, with tight end Delanie Walker, and wide receivers Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, and Nate Washington. The Titans actually have one of the better secondaries in the league, with veterans Michael Griffin and Jason McCourty. They have the league’s 11th ranked pass defense allowing just 232 passing yards per game, but are struggling to stop the run, surrendering almost 137 yards per game.
The Steelers will look across the sideline tonight and see a familiar face. Tennessee head coach Ken Wisenhunt was the former offensive coordinator a while back and was passed up for the head coaching position. Wisenhunt knows Ben Roethlisberger’s tendencies very well, and also is familiar with Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau. The Steelers had an impressive 3 game run, but they were all at home. Now they are playing their second straight road game against a former assistant that knows their personnel very well. I give the Titans a fighting chance in this one, and I think they can keep this within the number. You might look at the matchup for Mettenburger against Lebeau and have your doubts, yet Pittsburgh will be without nose tackle Steve McClendon, safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Ryan Shazier, so Pittsburgh isn’t the healthiest right now, and might be looking forward to their bye week. I’ll take the points here, ultimately I think the Steelers win, but the Titans will be sure to put forth a max effort in their first primetime appearance this season to keep this within the number.
Free Week 11 Monday NFL Pick: Tennessee +6.5, Over 46
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans Score Prediction: Steelers 27 – Titans 23
Sunday NFL analysis: The Philadelphia Eagles travel to Green Bay, Wisconsin to take on the red hot Green Bay Packers from Lambeau Field.
The Philadelphia Eagles sit atop the NFC East at 7-2 and are coming off a 45-21 win on Monday night over Carolina in the first start of the season for quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was 20 for 37 for 332 yards with 2 touchdowns with his two touchdowns going to rookie Jordan Matthews. Matthews had his best game as a pro with 7 receptions for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns. Darren Sproles was also a factor with a punt return for a touchdown and an 8 yard touchdown run. The Eagles defense really stepped up dealing with the absence of middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who was lost for the season the week prior. The defense frustrated Cam Newton and sacked the dual threat quarterback 9 times, led by Fletcher Cox’s sacks while Connor Barwin and Trent Cole added 2 apiece. The Eagles are ranked 5th in the league in total offense averaging 403 yards per game. On defense they are below average, allowing 366 yards per game and struggling against the pass allowing 251 yards per game.
The Green Bay Packers are one of the hottest teams in the league winning 5 of their last 6 games after starting the season 1-2. The Packers are coming off a 55-14 thumping of division rival Chicago. To say Aaron Rodgers is in the zone would be an understatement. Rodgers led the Green Bay offense to a 42-0 halftime lead with 6 touchdowns in the first half to 5 different receivers. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson continued his stellar season with 6 receptions for 152 yards and 2 touchdowns. Their defense last weekend had a new wrinkle as they moved Clay Matthews to inside linebacker, and he responded with a great performance with 9 solo tackles and 1 sack. The Green Bay offense is ranked 12th in total offense averaging 357 yards per game, and their defense is ranked 23rd in the league, but are excellent against the pass allowing just 227 yards per game. They have struggled against the run however allowing 142 yards per game.
In normal situations I would like to take the points here, but this isn’t a normal situation. You have a team in Philadelphia that just scored 45 points on Monday night in the first game with Mark Sanchez as the starter. You got a great performance from the whole offense in general as everyone stepped up their game to support Sanchez. You also got that from the defense, as each player on defense stepped up their performance to compensate for the loss of their leader, DeMeco Ryans. It might have been against the Panthers, but it was a big win for the Eagles. Now I think they come back to earth on Sunday as their facing a team that rarely loses at home. The Eagles will be on a short week, and this will be their third road game in four weeks. I think the Eagles are really up against it this week, and the fact that they’ve struggled to run the ball lately doesn’t bode well against a Green Bay defense that’s really starting to hit their stride. The Eagles are a good team, but in this spot I have to lay the points with the Packers.
Free Week 11 Sunday NFL Pick: Green Bay -6, Over 54.5
Buffalo vs. Miami Score Prediction: Green Bay 37 – Philadelphia 24
Thursday Night NFL analysis: The Miami Dolphins host the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East battle on Thursday night from Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida.
The Dolphins lost a heartbreaker last Sunday on the road to Detroit 20-16. Miami held a 16-13 lead over the Lions, but Matt Stafford completed an 11 yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick in the end zone with 29 seconds remaining. Before Sunday’s loss, the Dolphins had won 3 straight and were playing solid in all 3 phases. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has definitely progressed this season, passing for 2114 yards and completing 64% of his passes. Their leading receiver is Mike Wallace, who has completed 40 receptions for 519 yards and 6 touchdowns. Leading the way out of the backfield is Lamar Miller, who has rushed for 528 yards and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Their defense has been solid, led by defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake (13 combined sacks), they have helped the defense that is only allowing 210.8 yards passing per game, 2nd best in the league. They are allowing just 99 yards rushing per game as well, which ranks 10th in the league.
The Buffalo Bills sit at 5-4 and are also coming off a heartbreaking loss at home. The Bills held a lead for a better part of their game against Kansas City, yet the Chiefs scored twice in the final four minutes to notch a 17-13 victory in Buffalo. The Bills offense is led by 10 year veteran Kyle Orton, who replaced EJ Manuel as the starter in week 5. The Bills are 3-2 with Orton, and he has been efficient completing 65% of his passes for 1387 yards with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The running game suffered a blow this season with C.J. Spiller being placed on injured reserve. Running back Fred Jackson has dealt with some injuries this season, yet he made his return last Sunday and has tallied 249 yards on the season. Their leading receiver is none other than rookie of the year candidate Sammie Watkins, who has 617 yards on the season with 5 touchdowns. Robert Woods is a nice compliment to Watkins, and has 346 yards and 2 touchdowns. Their defense features the leagues best pass rush, with Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes leading a defense that ranks 1st in the league with 34 sacks. They are ranked 22nd in the league in total defense, allowing 320 yards per game.
It may seem that Buffalo has Miami’s number, as Buffalo has won the past 3 meetings by an average of 13.3 points per game. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is questionable with right shoulder and ankle injuries, and even if he plays, they’ll be without starting left tackle Brandon Albert, who was place on injured reserve last weekend. More often than not in the NFL, games are won and lost with matchups. On paper, I think the Dolphins are a better team, but I think that this Buffalo team really gives Miami problems and matches up extremely well with them. One stat that can’t be ignored is that Tannehill has had little success against Buffalo. The Miami starter has been sacked 18 times and owns a 67.0 passer rating while going 1-4 against the Bills. It’s a disturbing stat, and without their starting tackle it can’t be ignored. I’ll grab the points with Buffalo on Thursday night. If Miami is able to squeak out a win, Buffalo certainly won’t make it easy. I expect this to be a dogfight, and in these divisional games a field goal could be the deciding factor.
Free Week 11 Thursday Night NFL Pick: Buffalo +5.5, Under 42
Buffalo vs. Miami Score Prediction: Miami 17 – Buffalo 14
Monday NFL analysis: The Carolina Panthers travel to the city of brotherly love to take on the Philadelphia Eagles for the week 10 edition of Monday night football.
The Carolina Panthers come in for Monday night’s contest with a 3–5–1 record and have lost 3 games in a row. They are coming off a lackluster 28–10 home loss last Thursday night to New Orleans. Quarterback Cam Newton was sacked 4 times and only passed for 151 yards as they failed to have any consistency on offense. They struggled on third down as well, converting on only 6 of 14 third down opportunities. Newton as completed 57% of his passes for 1794 yards with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and has been sacked 21 times the season. Newton is also second on the team in rushing with 257 yards, there’s something to be said for that as their leading rusher Jonathan Stewart has only 263 yards on the season. They’ve struggled in the run game averaging 3.7 yards per carry and have yet to eclipse 1000 yard mark this season. Newton’s struggles on offense may be due to the fact his lack of weapons on offense, rookie wide receiver or Kelvin Benjamin has 589 yards receiving with 5 touchdowns, and tight end Greg Olsen has 539 yards on the year with 5 touchdowns as well. Their defense is led by All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly yet they have struggled the season as they are ranked 25th in the league and total defense, and are struggling to stop the run allowing 131.8 yards per game.
The Philadelphia Eagles are 6–2 and lead the NFC East division. They are coming off a 31–21 win over Houston, a game that saw their starting quarterback Nick Foles go down with a collarbone injury. Foles looks to be out of commission for the remainder of the season so now the Eagles will rely on veteran Mark Sanchez to carry the team. In a relief role, Sanchez completed 15 of 22 to pass attempts for 202 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. There are some that say if the quarterback competition was an open competition in training camp, Sanchez might have won the job and he certainly looked impressive in the preseason. Sanchez is primarily known for his time with the New York Jets, and also for the ‘butt fumble’. Many forget that Sanchez also led the Jets to consecutive AFC championship game appearances. As a team the Eagles are 4th in the league in total offense, averaging 409.2 yards per game, and they are running the ball effectively averaging 124 yards per game behind LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is having quite a season, with 790 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. The Eagles rank 24th in the league in total defense, allowing 373 yards per game. They have struggled against the pass allowing 256 yards through the air per game.
I’d really like to take the points here, with Carolina being embarrassed last Thursday night on national television. However, in their previous game on national TV they were embarrassed at home by the Pittsburgh Steelers. I just can’t trust this Carolina team, even getting points. They have no continuity on offense, and defensively they definitely aren’t the team they were last year. Philadelphia is dealing with the key injury on offense, and their starting middle linebacker, DeMeco Ryans is also out for the year. I expect both the offense and defense to rise up to the challenge and compensate for these losses. Mark Sanchez is well liked by his teammates, and I think the team will rally around him to put on an impressive performance on Monday night. Philadelphia has a lot to play for, and as for Carolina? Yeah they do, but this team hasn’t shown me anything and honestly they just cannot be trusted even getting points. I’ll lay the points with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.
Free Week 10 Sunday NFL Pick: Philadelphia -7, Under 48.5
Carolina vs Philadelphia Score Prediction: Philadelphia 31 – Carolina 14
Sunday NFL analysis: The Miami Dolphins Travel to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Lions from Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.
The Detroit Lions are coming off the bye week, and have won 3 games in a row. They’ve done this without the services of all world wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has been out with an ankle injury. The offense has been getting it done, but they’re winning with defense. The Lions are leading the league in total defense, allowing just 216 yards passing and 74 yards rushing per game. Matthew Stafford is completing 61% of his passes for 6612 yards with 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. One player who has stepped up in Calvin Johnson’s absence is Golden Tate, who has 88 yards receiving this season with 3 touchdowns. Joique Bell is leading the team in rushing with 313 yards, while Reggie Bush has struggled to stay healthy, but will make his return this week.
The Miami Dolphins opened some eyes last week with a 37-0 victory over San Diego. The Dolphins got a big win for head coach Joe Philbin, whose father had passed away earlier in the week. They too have won 3 games in a row since a heartbreaking home loss to Green Bay in week 6. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been pretty efficient this season, completing 63% of his passes for 1907 yards with 14 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. His main target is Mike Wallace, who has 35 receptions for 468 yards and 5 touchdowns. Rookie Jarvis Landry has been a difference maker as well, with 30 receptions for 301 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Dolphins lost their starting running back Knowshown Moreno for the season, but that’s cleared the way for Lamar Miller, who has run for 518 yards and 5 touchdowns while averaging almost 5 yards per carry. Miami’s defense is ranked 3d in the league in total defense, and can get to the quarterback, registering 25 sacks this season.
This should be quite the interesting matchup between two of the top defenses in the league. I really like the way Miami is playing, and I like them to continue their momentum into Sunday’s contest. Detroit has been playing well, but the last thing you want to see when you’re in the midst of a win streak is a bye week, and that’s what they’re coming off of. Yeah, Calvin Johnson is coming back into the mix, but you don’t know how effective he’ll be, and with him coming back after considerable time away might be more disruptive than people think. Detroit also has a big game against Arizona next weekend, and some of the players might be looking ahead just a tad. Many people might feel that there might be a letdown after the big emotional week for their head coach, but I feel it’s more of a confidence builder. I like Miami to get the job done in Detroit Sunday, they’re playing with a lot more consistency on offense than Detroit, and I think after Sunday, this team will be under the radar no more.
Free Week 10 Sunday NFL Pick: Miami +2.5, Under 43.5
Miami vs Detroit Score Prediction: Miami 17 – Detroit 14
Sunday NFL analysis: The New York Giants take on the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC matchup from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.
The New York Giants are currently 3-5 and are coming off a demoralizing 40-24 loss at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. They were coming off of their bye week, and just failed to get anything going on offense in the first half, as they fell behind 16-3 in the first half. Indianapolis outscored the Giants 21-7 in the 3rd quarter, and it was all she wrote after that. One bright spot for the Giants was the performance turned in by Odell Beckham Jr., who had 8 receptions for 156 yards. The Giants offense couldn’t sustain drives early on, and looked totally out of sync for a better part of the game.
The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a less than impressive 30-24 win over the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks forced 3 Oakland turnovers, yet managed to win by a slim margin, much slimmer than the experts predicted. Russell Wilson completed less than 50% of his passes for 179 yards and Marshawn Lynch had 143 yards from scrimmage and two scores. It was their first game back from a two game road swing, and they looked less than impressive. The defense played well, allowing just 189 yards of total offense, but the offense struggled gaining just total yards.
As everyone knows, when you are the defending Super Bowl champions, every week you have a huge target on your back and each week is tough because you’re going to get your opponents best effort. Well now you have a New York Giants team that just got embarrassed on Monday night football coming into town. Last Season the Giants were embarrassed by this same Seattle team, being shut out in MetLife stadium 23-0. Revenge is often overused when it comes to handicapping, but I do think that loss stung for New York, and I look for the Giants to bring a maximum effort on Sunday. This is not the same Seattle team folks, they have no deep threat since trading Percy Harvin, their defense isn’t nearly what it was last year, and you have to wonder what the vibe of the locker room is. Many bettors might have a bad taste in their mouth if they backed the Giants on Monday night, and might want no part of this team. Well, I had the Giants, and I like them to take it to Seattle on Sunday. This may not be the best Giants team that we’ve seen in recent years, but I know for a fact that this is not the best Seattle team we’ve seen. I’ll gladly take those points, revenge combined with the fact that they are doubted my many, makes this underdog all the more live.
Free Week 10 Sunday NFL Pick: New York +8.5, Over 44.5
New York at Seattle Score Prediction: Seattle 24 – New York 23
Thursday NFL analysis: The Cincinnati Bengals host their in-state and division rival Cleveland Browns in a key AFC North matchup on Thursday night from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Bengals started out the season 3-0 and looked like a true contender in the AFC. They ran into a buzz saw in New England in week 4, and got their doors blown off. The next week they battled a struggling Carolina Panther team to a 37-37 tie. The next week they were dominated at Indianapolis losing 27-0. They have rebounded since that 3 game slump, and have won 2 straight over Baltimore and Jacksonville. Quarterback Andy Dalton is having a respectable year, completing 64% of his passes for 1874 yards with 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. A.J. Green made his return last Sunday, and had 44 yards and 1 score. The guy that’s picked up the slack in Green’s absence is Mohamed Sanu, who leads the team in receptions (39) and yards (628). The Bengals have two talented backs in Giovanni Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill, who have combined for 795 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. The defense hasn’t been as good as last year, as they are 30th in the league in total defense, allowing 394.8 yards per game and are 17th in the league in scoring defense, allowing 23.3 points per game.
The Browns sit at 5-3 and have won 2 in a row after a 24-6 road loss to Jacksonville. Against the Jaguars, they were coming off a huge 31-10 win over Pittsburgh and were due for a letdown. Their offense is led by veteran Brian Hoyer, who has completed 57% of his passes for 2014 yards and 10 touchdowns with 4 interceptions. Leading the receivers is Andre Hawkins, who has 39 receptions for 504 yards and 1 touchdown. Tight end Jordan Cameron will miss his second straight game Thursday night with a concussion, and his presence on the field will be missed. The Browns have a good number of solid running backs with Ben Tate, Terrance West, and Isaiah Crowell, who have combined for 866 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns. Their defense was thought to be the strength of the team but that hasn’t been the case, as they are ranked 28th in the league in total defense, allowing 391 yards per game, and are struggling against the run allowing 139 yards per game.
I’m laying the points with the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night. This will be a highly emotional game for Cincinnati, as defensive tackle Devon Still’s cancer-stricken daughter will be attending the game to watch her father play for the first time. Still’s story has touched many throughout the league, and I feel that the Bengals will be bringing a max effort. Cleveland has been pretty competitive in most of their games this season, but there is one disturbing trend I’ve noticed in the past 3 weeks…They’ve struggled to put points on the board. Since their big win against Pittsburgh, they’ve lost to the lowly Jaguars, struggled against the Oakland Raiders, then escaped past Tampa Bay…that’s 3 of the worst teams in the league, and they were outgained in yardage in all 3 games. Las Vegas linesmakers value different positions; of course the quarterback is the most valuable, but the 2nd most valuable? That would be the center position, and that has something to do with the Browns’ recent struggles as center Alex Mack has been missed after being placed on IR. The team has struggled to run the ball, against Jacksonville they had 69 yards, and then against Oakland they had just 39. Last week against Tampa? Just 50 yards…They are flat out struggling to run the football, and a team that’s struggling on offense and can’t run the football has no shot of keeping up with the Bengals offense. I think the Bengals will have success on offense, and I don’t see this being close at all. Yep, it’s looking like another Thursday night blowout. I’m laying the points with the Bengals on Thursday night; they’ll be emotionally charged and will be the better team on Thursday night.
Free Week 10 Thursday NFL Pick: Cincinnati -6, Over 44.5
Cleveland vs. Cincinnati Score Prediction: Cincinnati 34 – Clevaland 14
Monday NFL analysis: The Indianapolis Colts travel to MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the New York Giants for the week 9 edition of ESPN’s Monday night football.
The Colts had been on a roll until last weekend, when they faced a juggernaut known as the Pittsburgh Steelers and had to deal with 522 yards passing from Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger’s stellar performance was too hard to overcome as they lost at Heinz Field 51–34. Before that game, the Colts had won five straight and were coming off an impressive 27–0 victory over Cincinnati. Andrew Luck has certainly taken a huge step forward this season, with 2731 yards passing with 22 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a 99.2 QBR. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has also taken a big step forward this season with 866 yards and 2 touchdowns. Reggie Wayne is of course a mainstay in the offense, and is probable for Monday night after missing last Sunday’s game. Leading the way out of the backfield is former New York Giant Ahmad Bradshaw, who has 371 yards rushing and 264 yards receiving this season with 8 total touchdowns. The defense is ranked 14th in the league allowing 99.2 rushing yards per game and 252 yards through the air per game.
The Giants are 3-4 and coming off their bye week, and in their last game they lost at Dallas 31-21. The Giants have been up and down this season, losing their first two games and looking rather unimpressive, then winning three in a row. After that small winning streak they were blown out in Philadelphia 27–0. Eli Manning has completed 64.9% of his passes for 1573 yards with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. The Giants are running the ball with some effectiveness, due to the contributions of free-agent acquisition Rashad Jennings and rookie Andre Williams. Jennings will not be active on Monday night, so the bulk of the carries will go to the rookie Williams, who seems capable of doing the job. The wide receiving corps took a big hit with a season ending injury to Victor Cruz, but still have a lot of talent with Rueben Randall and rookie standout Odell Beckham Jr., who has definitely turned some heads. Another guy that is definitely on the rise is tight end Larry Darnell, who at 6’6″ has caught 34 balls for 332 yards and 4 touchdowns. The defense hasn’t been up to par the season although they have the talent, they just haven’t put it together. They are 26th in the league in total defense, allowing 122 yards rushing per game, and 262.43 passing yards per game. The pass rush has been effective at times, as the defensive line has tallied 16 sacks so far this season.
This should be a pretty entertaining game tonight, but I think Indianapolis is in a bad spot here. The Colts will be playing their second straight road game, and they’ll be playing a desperate New York team that can’t afford to fall further behind in the competitive NFC East. The best thing that can happen to a team that’s lost two in a row is a bye week. I think it’s a good opportunity for Eli Manning to get acclimated with the offense sans Victor Cruz. Not only will this be the Colts second straight road game, but they have their bye week up next, followed by a big game coming up afterwards. Who do they play? That team that just dominated Denver on Sunday, the New England Patriots, on Sunday night. One would have to wonder if the Colts will be 100% focused for this game with a break looming and this being a non-conference game. I think we get a good effort out of the Giants on Monday night, and I think we’ll get an inspired defensive effort as well. I think the Giants will have success on offense against a defense that is banged up and missing a few key players. I’m getting points with a desperate team with a coach that hasn’t lost a coming off the bye week since 2007. Giants win outright on Monday night.
Free Week 9 Monday NFL Pick: New York +3, Under 50.5
Indianapolis vs. New York Score Prediction: New York 24 – Indianapolis 20
Sunday NFL analysis: For the 16th time in their stellar careers, future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet as the Denver Broncos travel to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots.
The Denver Broncos are coming off a 35-21 win over San Diego and have won 4 straight since losing at Seattle in week 3. In those victories, Denver has been dominant, winning by an average of 18.5 points per game. Peyton Manning is once again having another great season, completing 69% of his passes for 2134 yards and 22 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions. His two main targets are Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who both have 47 receptions, and have combined for 1401 yards and 10 touchdowns. Speaking of touchdowns, tight end Julius Thomas has a few, leading all receivers with 9 trips to the end zone. Ronnie Hillman is carrying the majority of the load in the backfield, with 349 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. On defense Denver is much improved compared to last season, ranking 1st in run defense allowing just 72 yards per game. Their secondary has been decent, allowing 242 yards per game through the air. The pass rush for the Broncos is exceptional with the acquisition of defensive end Demarcus Ware (7 sacks), and Von Miller is reaping the benefits with 7 sacks.
Many thought that New England was done after the week 4 Monday night debacle in Kansas City. Well, they were wrong…as a matter of fact, since that loss New England has hit their stride, winning 4 in a row. They are coming off their most dominating performance of the season, dismantling Chicago 51-23. In the month of October Tom Brady was on fire, completing 69% of his passes for 1268 yards and 14 touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady is no longer throwing to Julian Edelman every other passing attempt. He’s distributing the ball evenly amongst his receivers, including wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who is really broke out this season after struggling in Carolina. LaFell has 461 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns, and has gained the trust of Brady. Tight end Rob Gronkowski looks to finally healthy, and he’s back to being his old dominant self with 558 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns this season. Shane Vereen is leading the way out of the backfield, with 281 yards rushing and 208 yards receiving. The season ending injury to Stevan Ridley has forced others to step up, and rookie Jonas Gray has looked good in limited action averaging 4.9 yards per carry. The defense is second in the league in pass defense allowing 210 yards per game, and lead the league in takeaways with 16.
If you don’t think New England head coach Bill Belichick has stressed to his team that they are underdogs at home, think again. Belichick is not only a great coach, but a great motivator as well. Denver’s offense is clicking right now, but the weather conditions might not be in their favor. It will be cold and the winds are forecasted to be 20 mph. If you’ve seen Peyton Manning’s passes, he’s not exactly zipping the ball to his receivers, so I do think the wind will play a role in this game. As far as matchups, I really think New England has the secondary to challenge Denver’s receivers. They now have Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, and it was evident last week that they are starting to gel as a unit. New England has the weapons on offense to give Denver problems, and I feel with the home field, and the weather possibly being a factor, I have to take the points with the home dog here. New England knows the importance of this game, for if they should lose, home field will most certainly be in Denver’s control. I think the Patriots offensive line is starting to really round into form, and I think they’ll be able to provide good protection for Brady. Denver has looked unstoppable the past few weeks, but this will be Denver’s toughest test to date. I think the opportunistic defense of the Patriots will be the difference in this one. New England wins on Sunday.
Free Week 9 Sunday NFL Pick: New England +3, Under 54.5
Denver vs New England Score Prediction: New England 27 – Denver 23
Sunday NFL analysis: The 6-1 Arizona Cardinals travel to the Lone Star State to take on the 6-2 Dallas Cowboys in a key NFC conference matchup from AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a loss on Monday night to division rival Washington, their first since the opening week of the season. Dallas’ offensive line was a tad exposed in terms of pass protection, as quarterback Tony Romo was sacked 5 times. Washington employed different blitz schemes that frustrated Romo for a majority of the night. Tony Romo went to the locker room with a back injury in the third quarter with a back injury; he returned in the fourth quarter but was ineffective. Demarco Murray was effective as usual with 141 yards rushing, but did have a costly fumble in the red zone. Dallas leads the league in rushing behind the best offensive line in the league, averaging 161 yards per game. Demarco Murray continues to amaze, with more than 100 yards rushing in all 8 games. Their defense is much improved and opportunistic, and are allowing 237 yards passing and 119 yards rushing per game.
Well folks, Arizona got it done once again last week as Carson Palmer threw a 75 yard touchdown pass to John Brown to take the lead for the eventual win over Philadelphia. Quarterback Carson Palmer is enjoying quite the resurgence of his career, completing 61% of his passes for 1136 yards with 8 touchdowns and only one interception. Palmer did miss some time this season, but the Cardinals have persevered. Palmer has plenty of weapons at his disposal, with wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald (443 yards) and Michael Floyd (353 yards) along with the aforementioned speedster John Brown (316 yards, 4 TD’s). Andre Ellington leads the backfield with 464 yards rushing and 274 yards receiving. Their defense is stout, allowing just 77.9 yards rushing, but have struggled against the pass ranking 32nd in the league allowing 302.9 yards per game. Their defense is forcing turnovers though, with 14 takeaways and ranking 2nd in the league with a +9 turnover ratio.
I’m grabbing the points with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Reports surfaced this weekend that Tony Romo had two small fractures in his back and his status for Sunday’s game is uncertain. Whether or not Tony Romo plays on Sunday, I like Arizona. I do believe that the Cowboys were a tad exposed last Monday night, and I do think Arizona has the personnel on defense for Todd Bowles to employ blitz schemes on passing situations. Dallas will have success running the ball, but they won’t have as much success as they’ve had against other teams, and I believe this puts Romo (or Brandon Weeden) at a disadvantage. I think Arizona will have a lot of success against a shaky Dallas defense that’s banged up and will be missing linebacker Justin Durant, who is the team’s leading tackler. On a short week, I’m getting points with a team that’s clicking on all cylinders in all 3 phases of the game, against a team that’s unsure about its quarterback and on a short week. I like the Cardinals to win on Sunday.
Free Week 9 Sunday NFL Pick: Arizona +2.5, Over 44.5
Arizona vs. Dallas Score Prediction: Arizona 24 – Dallas 21