QB Power Rankings
The premise is simple: I'll rank the 32 teams based on their current quarterback situations. All factors are factored in - wins & loses, stats, tangibles, intangibles, age, etc. Let's start at #32 ...
32) Carolina Panthers - Matt Moore and Jimmy Claussen
Of the 48 quarterbacks who have attempted at least 50 passes this season, Moore ranks 44st and Claussen ranks 46th in terms of passer rating. The good news? Of the two quarterbacks who are worse than Claussen, one of them is former Panther Jake Delhomme.
31) Arizona Cardinals - Max Hall and Derek Anderson
Hall's QB rating is 48th out of 48 and his yards per attempt (YPA) is also dead last. His competition, Anderson, has a stunning QB rating of 60.2, an improvement over last year's mind-boggling 42.1.
30) Buffalo Bills - Ryan Fitzpatrick and the #1 Overall Pick
Statistically speaking, Fitzpatrick isn't terrible. He's actually been a fantasy gem. He's a top 10 quarterback in terms of yards-per-game and his 60% completion percentage and 85 passer rating are quite average. But let's be honest. The Bills are going 0-16 and they'll be taking Andrew Luck #1 overall.
29) San Francisco 49ers - Alex Smith and Co.
The worst part about Smith isn't his 9 INTs or his 75 QB rating or even the 2-6 record. It's the fact that last season he put together a QB rating of 81.5 (18 TDs, 2350 yards) and made everyone believe in him. And then he reverted into bust mode.
28) Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler
The antithesis of leadership and poise. He racks up interceptions and sacks and loses and somehow maintains a reputation as a "star" player. Bizarre. Cutler's career record as a starter: 28-32.
27) Minnesota Vikings - Brett Favre
Based on this season alone, Favre deserves to be this low and possibly even one spot lower. His QB rating is sub-70, with 7 TDs and 11 INTs. He's having career lows across the board. He's got an All Pro running back to rely on, and he still can't score touchdowns or beat good teams. Yuck.
*Edit* I wrote this paragraph prior to Favre's 446 yard game. He's now got a QB rating of 75.7 with 9 TDs and 13 INTs. But I ain't moving him any higher until I'm convinced he could run one mile faster than I could run two.
26) Seattle Seahawks - Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst
The 35 year old baldy has 6 TDs on 236 passing attempts this season; that's the lowest TD/attempt ratio in the NFL. He's also got 7 INTs and the second lowest YPA among regular starters. His replacement, Whitehurst, had 64 passing yards and 2 INTs through 3 quarters against the Giants. I wonder why Pete Carroll hasn't traded for Leinart yet?
25) Cincinnati Bengals - Carson Palmer
True story - Carson's backup is his little brother Jordan, a former 6th round pick. Because of how badly Carson is playing (83 passer rating, 7 INTs, the Bengals are 2-6), it's only a matter of time before Carson is replaced by his little brother. How humiliating. How deflating. How hilarious.
24) Washington Redskins - Donovan McNabb and a dash of Rex Grossman
Certainly the strangest QB 'controversy' in recent memory. Has a Hall of Fame QB ever been benched for a career bust in a close game? There was no injury. It just made no sense. But all that aside, McNabb is having an awful year with 7 TDs, 8 INTs, and his lowest completion percentage in 9 seasons.
23) Oakland Raiders - Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski
Despite the Raiders outrageous 3 game winning streak, they still aren't getting much for the QB position. Among the 36 QBs with at least 100 attempts, Gradkowski ranks 35th and Campbell ranks 31st in terms of completion percentage. Although some of that blame goes to the receivers.
22) Detroit Lions - Stafford, Hill, and Stanton
I've spent more than enough time ranting and raving about Matthew Stafford. I disagreed with the decision to draft him #1, but I hoped he would prove me wrong. He hasn't. He now has more shoulder injuries (4) than career wins (3) and appears to be the complete antithesis of toughness.
Sunday he was tackled by the ankles on a wussy 2 yard scramble - a completely NORMAL and PAINLESS tackle - and he needed to roll around in pain for 5 minutes before getting his shoulder covered in ice, his arm wrapped in a sling, and his fucking backwards hat on.
In fact, Stafford's entire professional career can be summed up in two words: Backwards. Hat.
That's it. That's his legacy; that's why we're paying him $72 million. To wear a backwards hat and a cutoff-shirt and stand around smiling like a jackass. He doesn't even hold a clipboard like Scott Mitchell did. He doesn't wear a headset. He just stands there in a backwards hat.
Truly, Stafford didn't play horribly against the Jets. He was excellent on the opening drive, and okayish the rest of the game. He's an okay quarterback with the potential to be pretty good. But he's the wussiest son of a bitch I've ever seen. He's made out of porcelain.
I didn't want to draft him #1 overall because of concerns with accuracy, personality, leadership, decision-making, and general overratedness. But you throw in major injury concerns and a complete and total lack of toughness or competitiveness? No thank you. I'll take Shaun Hill.
Hill is the only reason Detroit is ranked #22 and not #29.
*Breaking news! As of the morning of 11-9-10, Matt Stafford will miss the rest of the season with a grade 3 shoulder separation. This injury is unrelated to the previous injury. And he's meeting with Dr. James Andrews (honestly, at this point, can't we just call him Dr. Jim?) to discuss the possibility of offseason shoulder surgery. I will now strangle myself with my belt.
21) Cleveland Browns - Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, and Jake Delhomme
How depressing is it that I'm ranking Colt McCoy's Browns ahead of Stafford's Lions? Extremely depressing. But it's also completely realistic, and I almost moved the Browns up a few spots. In 3 starts, Colt McCoy has beat the Browns and Patriots and almost beat the Steelers. Delhomme is finished (and making $7 million this season) and Seneca is much more valuable in Madden than he is in real life. Seriously, if you ever need a QB in Madden, trade a 5th round pick for Seneca Wallace and you've basically got Diet Michael Vick. For some reason Madden has always made Seneca inexplicably fast. Maybe it's because of this legendary college play, known simply as 'The Run.' Who knows.
McCoy has definitely proven to be the franchise quarterback for Cleveland, and looks like a bonafide steal for a third round pick. He's so much better than Jimmy Claussen that it's ridiculous.
20) Kansas City Chiefs - Matt Cassel
In 8 games this season, Cassel has yet to complete more than 20 passes. He's got a lousy completion percentage of 58.4% and averages just 177 yards per game. But the Chiefs are a running team and Cassel's only job is to limit mistakes. And with a 12/4 TD to INT ratio and only 11 sacks allowed, I'd say he's doing pretty well.
19) Jacksonville Jaguars - David Garrard
He's been the epitome of average for about 5 seasons, and is finally starting to dip into slightly worse-than-average. He has 4 games this season where his passer rating exceeded 120, and 3 times it was lower than 70. He doesn't have any games where his rating is between 63 and 121. WEIRD. If Jacksonville ever wants to turn the corner and be competitive in the AFC South, they've got to replace Garrard.
Here's a story that explains my point perfectly. After last week's win over the Texans, Peyton Manning was asked about the AFC South division race. Here's what he said:
"We have lots of good quarterbacks in this division, like Matt Schaub... Vince Young ... uhh... Jerard..."
It's probably a bad sign when your greatest rival doesn't even know how to pronounce your last name.
18) New York Jets - Mark Sanchez
It depends what stats you look at. The TD/INT is ratio is pretty good - 10 TDs and 5 picks. The yards per game (212) and the yards per attempt (6.7) are solid. But there's a reason Sanchez's QB rating is only 79.4, and that's his league-low 53.5% completion percentage. Bottom line is he's just not very accurate in the pocket. He's a great play-action QB and a great roll-out QB, but he still has a lot of developing yet to do.
17) St. Louis Rams - Sam Bradford
I actually considered ranking him a few spots higher based on his potential, but this is about as high as he can go right now. His stats aren't overpowering; they're actually just mediocre compared to the rest of the league. But in terms of pure potential and intangibles, Bradford's the best QB in the league under 25, and no one's close. The Rams are 4-4, and should be considered the favorites to win the NFC West this year.
16) Miami Dolphins - Chad Henne
Henne's got all the physical tools (size, strength) but something seems to be missing. It's tough to put your finger on. Maybe it's a lack of confidence. Or something. He's just not a cut-throat competitor and never really was at U of M. His stats are very ho-hum. 8 TDs, 10 INTs, 238 yards per game, 63.5% completion percentage. That's not good enough when you have an elite receiver like Brandon Marshall. But let's be honest: Miami is 4-4 and 3 of their loses are to Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and the Jets. Henne has faced a brutal schedule. The jury is still out.
15) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Josh Freeman
In the preseason, I would have ranked Freeman somewhere between 32-30. I had zero confidence in him. Which goes to show that I broke one of my Cardinal rules: the importance of YouTube. I just assumed that Freeman was useless without actually watching him play. I was wrong. Check out this throw from his Kansas State days. Or this hilarious play from his rookie season. He's a stud in the making, and I totally missed the boat. It's one of my 5 biggest regrets from the 2010 offseason. (The other 4, in random order: buying the Cowboys hype; not giving Arian Foster a chance; thinking Carolina would be able to run the ball; and predicting the 49ers would run away with a pathetic NFC West without realizing that they are part of the patheticness.)
All that to say: I didn't understand Josh Freeman. He was a big slow black guy. I thought, "How can a QB be black and slow? No way. That won't work."
Well, I was wrong, and here's what I've learned. Josh Freeman is The Black Ben Roethlisberger - without the rapist tendencies. From now on, I resolve to call Freeman The BBR.
Ben was drafted in 2004, the third QB off the board, and was the largest starting QB in the league at 6'5", 240 pounds. The Big Ben nickname is quite literal.
Freeman, also the third QB taken in his draft, is even bigger at 6'6", 250.
Even more coincidentally, the QBs taken in 2004 were picks 1 and 4 - Eli and Rivers. They were considered slam-dunks, while Ben was considered a risk because he went to a smaller college.
In 2009, QBs were taken with picks 1 and 5 - Stafford and Sanchez - and again, both were considered sure-things. Freeman slid down to pick 19 largely because he went to Kansas State.
The comparisons continue. Freeman is unsackable. Ben is unsackable. Freeman throws a great deep ball. So does Ben. Freeman is at his best when he's scrambling, but he's not fast. Same goes for the Big White Rapist. Neither has a great offensive line, but they both improvise. Neither are flashy, but both produce wins. And the most obvious comparison - they both are at their best in the two minute drill.
Roethlisberger has 15 fourth-quarter comeback victories in his career, including six as a rookie. He's on pace to shatter the current record of 36 held by Dan Marino.
Freeman already has 5 such victories - in only 17 starts. He's 8-9 as a starter. Tampa's next two games are against doormats (Carolina and San Fran), so it's reasonable to assume that he'll soon be above .500 as a starting QB. That is amazing, especially when you consider that he's got no running game, a lousy defense, and not much of a receiving corps. I'm no longer a doubter; I'm officially on the bandwagon for the BBR.
14) Tennessee Titans - Vince Young and Kerry Collins
Ever since the melodramatic 2008 season where Vince Young went mysteriously missing and was reportedly depressed and possibly suicidal, I've had difficulty trusting him as the Titans starter. His stats this year have been awesome (103.1 QB rating is second best in the league) and he's thrown just 2 INTs compared to 9 touchdowns. But can you really trust the guy? I'm not sure. He's unquestionably one of the greatest college football players of all time, but I'm still not sold on his skills translating to the NFL, or on his mental state from week to week. I think his 103.1 rating can be directly attributed to Chris Johnson commanding 8 in the box on every snap. I think on an average offense VY's passer rating would be in the mid 80s.
Collins has made 3 starts this year (2-1), and 6 starts last year (1-5), but went 12-2 in 14 starts during the Titans 2008 season. At 37 years old he's not in peak athletic shape, but he can still throw a deep ball. He gets the job done like a typical 15 year veteran. Efficient, but not exciting.
13) Denver Broncos - Kyle Orton & Tim Tebow
The good news? Kyle Orton is on pace to throw for 5,024 yards, just 60 yards shy of the NFL record.
The bad news? They drafted Tim Tebow with the 25th overall pick, passing up on Nate Allen, Koa Misi, Devin McCourtey, Dan Williams, Taylor Mays, Brandon Spikes, and about 15 other defensive players that they really could have used to bolster their 31st ranked rushing defense.
But back to the good news. Orton finally shaved his hideous neckbeard, and now looks and plays like the real deal. He's making a Pro Bowler out of Brandon Lloyd. He's a fantasy dreamboat. He's completing better than 61% of his passes and has twice as many TDs as INTs. The reason Denver is only ranked 13 and not in the top 10? For one, because of the impending Tebow controversy which is only about 8 months away, and for two, because it's difficult to trust Kyle Orton until he proves his longevity.
12) Dallas Cowboys - Tony Romo and Jon Kitna
I bet you thought they'd be ranked a whole heck of a lot worse than this, didn't you? Well, they probably should be, considering the Boys woeful 1-7 record and negative 71 point differential this season. But I'm not a reactive type, I'm more big-picture. For one thing, I think Dallas finishes the season with at least 5 wins, and for another thing, I think Tony Romo bounces back next year with at least an average quarterback season.
Prior to his season-ending injury, Romo ranked 7th in the NFL in passer rating, throwing 11 TDs compared to 7 INTs, and a 69.5% completion percentage which ranked second to only Drew Brees. Romo's YPA was 8th, his YPG was 5th, and that was all without any semblance of a running game in Big D. I know this sounds preposterous in the wake of Dallas's abysmal season and Wade Phillips's firing, but I'll say it anyway: Tony Romo is a good quarterback.
And next year, the Cowboys are going to sneak up on people. Especially if they land a top 3 draft pick (which they might) and draft lockdown cornerback Patrick Peterson (who they desperately need.)
11) Baltimore Ravens - Joe Flacco
My preseason pick for Super Bowl MVP has been adequately successful with a 88.9 passer rating and a tidy 6-2 record. But with Boldin, Mason and Heap at his disposal, as well as a top 5 running back and an elite offensive line, I hoped his rating would at least be in the 90s. I'm frankly a little disappointed.
10) Houston Texans - Matt Schaub
Another mild disappointment. Schaub threw for 4,770 yards last year and this year is only on pace for 4,016. Still good. Still worthy of the top 10. But I honestly expected more, given his receiving crew. The emergence of Arian Foster has actually hurt Schaub's production when it should have helped. And the bottom line is this: Schaub is a great QB for the first 3 quarters, but I don't trust him when the game is on the line.
9) Atlanta Falcons - Matt Ryan
At home, Matty Ice is 17-3. He's thrown for 25 TDs and 11 INTs. He has a 64.3% completion percentage, a 7.8 YPA and did I mention, a sparklingly 17-3!! record.
On the road, Ryan is 9-11, with 26 TDs, 18 INTs, a 57.5% completion percentage and 6.5 YPA.
In the Georgia Dome, Ryan is a top 6 NFL quarterback hands-down. But overall, 9th might be generous. If he ever wants to win in the playoffs, he better learn to win on the road.
8) New York Giants - Eli Manning
You might be surprised to see Eli this high, considering I've called him Dopey and Goober and said that he wouldn't even be in the NFL if his last name was Jones. Those were all truisms a couple years ago, but he's really emerged into a real NFL quarterback. He might be the second smartest QB in the NFL (behind his brother) and he really understands how to spread the ball around to 3 different receivers, an underrated quality that only a few quarterbacks have.
He's also one of the few QBs who realizes that when you're on the goal-line, it's okay to audible to a running play if you know it'll get you the score. It won't show up on your stat sheet, but it will help your team win. Peyton does this all the time. So does Brady. But look at a guy like Cutler or Stafford or even Favre. Never in a million years will they call a running play on the 2 yard line. They want that score. Not the case with Eli. He really gets it. And the Giants are 6-2. No coincidence.
Here's a true story which explains my love/hate relationship with Eli Manning:
A couple weeks ago, after an embarrassing softball game in which I batted 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a weak groundball to the pitcher (yes it's possible to strike out in softball!), my dad and brother and I went to the Beltline Bar for the best wet burritos in Grand Rapids. It was Monday night, and the Giants were playing Dallas. Eli was warming up, throwing fade routes to Nicks and Manningham, and he looked towards the camera in his signature dopey way, like he was trying to figure out a math puzzle in his head. That's when I said, out loud:
"Every time I look at Eli Manning, the first thought I have is what a dopey-looking loser he is. Then, I realize that I look a lot like him. We have the same haircut and we make the same facial expressions. If I was in the NFL, I would be Eli Manning. And that makes me kinda depressed."
7) Philadelphia Eagles - Mike Vick and Kevin Kolb
From a football perspective, I'm a believer in both these guys. Philly might be the best quarterback-controversy team of the past decade. Both guys can play. It's a good problem to have. In psychology, they call it positive stress, or eustress.
Vick is still an incredible athlete despite the years in jail. He can elude the pass rush better than every other quarterback in the NFL. Maybe ever. He can run for 15 yards on every down if he chooses, but he's learned to use his teammates and throw the ball. And believe it or not, Mike Vick's 105.3 passer rating is the league's best. No wonder the Eagles are unbeaten when he starts.
Kolb is a great passer. He's very similar to Rodgers or Rivers in terms of his playing style. He stays in the pocket and throws downfield. He's probably the QB of the future for Philadelphia, because Vick is a free agent in 2011 and unless the Eagles win the Super Bowl you can bet he'll be taking the best offer.
Obviously, I don't like Michael Vick as a person. (I think I've talked about this before). But as a quarterback, I've got to rank him as 7th best in the NFL right now.
6) Pittsburgh Steelers - Ben Ruthlessraper
See Freeman, Josh.
Ben is amazing on the run, and amazing with 2 minutes left in the half. He's a competitor, a proven winner, and a leader. Unfortunately, he's also a two-time rapist and that fact is undeniable.
If he can get his life together, or at least do a better job of hiding his disgusting lifestyle, he'll stick with the Steelers for another 10 years, break all Bradshaw's records, win another Super Bowl or 2, and be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. If he rapes another 16 year old girl or crashes another motorcycle or does one more stupid thing, I think his career is pretty much shot. He's walking a very thin line.
5) New England Patriots - Tom Brady
This is where it gets difficult. Identifying the top 5 was easy, but ranking them in order was brutal. Tom gets the short stick not because he's a slouch, but because four other guys have just outplayed him for the past 3 seasons.
Since his magical 2007 season, Brady's been on the fringe of elite quarterbacks. Last year his QB rating was 96.2, and this year it's at 95.7. Very consistent, but not overly astounding. He's playing like the 2004 Brady who limited mistakes and won games, and not like the 2007 Brady who tore defenses to shreds and ran up the score every single week. His cut-throat mentality seems to be missing, and instead we find him on magazine covers holding roses and petting baby bunnies. His haircut alone should keep him out of the top 3. He's got a ways to fall before I could kick him out of the top 5, but he's also lost some ground on his biggest rival, namely Peyton Manning.
Does this mean the Patriots aren't serious Super Bowl contenders? Not at all. Brady's dink-and-dump routine won them 3 Super Bowls before Moss ever showed up.
4) Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers
You may remember me calling Rodgers the favorite to win league MVP this season. Turns out that prediction won't come true, but Rodgers has played pretty darn well despite losing most of his team to injuries. He's got 15 TDs (plus 3 rushing TDs) to 9 INTs, 256 yards per game (and 20 rushing yards per game), and a 63.4% completion percentage. Solid. Especially considering the complete lack of a running game and the oft-bogus protection of the offensive line.
But one statistic stands out when it comes to Rodgers. Zero. As in, zero career playoff wins. I know this is only his third season as the starter, but he's got to at least make some noise in the playoffs if he wants to be taken seriously in the future.
3) New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees
All the Madden Curse did was knock him from #2 to #3. That's not bad. In fact, Brees is set to lead the NFL in completion percentage for the second straight year and the Saints are heating up at the right time. They''ll win their next four games easily (Seattle, Dallas, Cincinnati, St. Louis) and then they'll be 10-3. As good as the Packers, Falcons and Giants look right now, I'm not betting against Brees making another Super Bowl run.
Despite ugly loses to the Browns and Cardinals, it's been an impressive season of resilience for Brees. Remember last year he had that hideous 3 INT game against Miami? People started to doubt him, and he responded by winning the next 7 games.
He's not going to break any records this season, but he'll be in the playoffs again and I sure won't bet against him once that happens.
2) San Diego Chargers - Phillip Rivers
Where to begin ... how about by copy-pasting something I wrote a week ago:
From a stats perspective, Rivers is the unquestioned MVP right now. He's throwing for 331 yards per game and is on pace to shatter the single-season record. He's a top 5 quarterback in every stat, and has a QB rating of 98.9 (*make that 102.9) In fact, Rivers's career passer rating is a 96.9, better than Manning, Brady or Brees. Or Montana, or Unitas, or Elway, or Marino, or ... any quarterback to ever play football in the NFL.
I'm not saying Rivers will keep up this torrid pace, but I am suggesting that his nickname should henceforth be 'The PR Machine.' Because his initials are P.R., because he plays like a machine, and because of the P.asser R.ating thing. It's too bad the Chargers are 3-5 (*now 4-5), otherwise we'd have our MVP right here.
The PR Machine continued his assault on the record books last week by torching Houston for 295 yards and 4 TDs. He began the game by completing his first 12 passes and oh by the way, he was missing not only Antonio Gates but also the first 3 receivers on the Chargers depth chart. His leading pass catcher was Seyi Ajirotutu, who had 111 yards and 2 TDs.
After the bye week, Rivers will get not only Gates back but also Floyd and Naanee. And Vincent Jackson could come back the week after that. All he did last season was catch 9 TDs and 1167 yards. As record-breaking as Rivers has been from weeks 1 to 9, he might be even better the second half of the season.
I mean, what else can you say? He's on pace for 5,232 passing yards and 34 TDs and has a league-best 8.95 yards per attempt. His yards per completion (13.6) is just unbelievable. If the Chargers make the playoffs, Rivers has to be named MVP.
The question is: how big of an if is that? Remaining on the schedule is one tough game (@Indy), two vital division games (KC and Oakland), and 4 seemingly easy games which San Diego can't afford to lose. If they go 5-2 in those games for a 9-7 finish, that should win the AFC West. Which will win Rivers the MVP, save Norv Turner's job, and make the next guy on the list pretty upset.
As Mike Greenberg brilliantly said on the radio this morning: "However good you think Phillip Rivers is, he's even better than that." Couldn't say it better myself.
1) Indianapolis Colts - Peyton Manning
Somewhat of a lifetime achievment award I guess, because Rivers has really outplayed Manning (and everyone else) this season. But consistency and stability are the intangibles which Peyton has proven and Rivers has not. Manning has the right demeanor, and that might be Phillip's one weakness.
You can try to argue with Peyton being #1 if you want, but it would be futile. He's got 16 TDs and 4 interceptions, 310 yards per game, a 65% completion percentage, and a 96.1 passer rating. All of those stats rank in the top 5 among quarterbacks, and as much as injuries have decimated Rivers' offense, Peyton has been just as affected. Garcon and Collie have been in and out, the running game has been basically worthless, and Peyton's favorite target Dallas Clark is going to miss at least 10 weeks. And despite all that, Peyton's having one of the best seasons of his illustrious career.
When quarterbacks such as Matt Stafford throw interceptions, you hear this phrase a lot: "That one really wasn't his fault." Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's a stretch. But here's something for you to consider:
Peyton is second in the NFL in passing attempts with 351, and yet 28 quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions than him. Maybe the 'not your fault' INTs could have been avoided by a better play call or an audible? And maybe, since Peyton is the only quarterback with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things football, the reason he doesn't throw INTs is because he sees them coming before he even snaps the ball? Maybe excellence at the QB position isn't just about hearing the play, taking the snap and letting 'er rip, but maybe it's about preparation, study, and improvisation at the line of scrimmage. Maybe the reason Peyton is set apart from the other 31 guys is because he is not only the best player in the NFL, but also the best play-caller in the NFL.
With that, let's hit the week 10 Picks:
Baltimore (6-2) @ Atlanta (6-2) - Thursday Night
Predicted Line: ATL by 2.5
Actual Line: ATL by 1
As I mentioned above, Matt Ryan is a beast at home and that's the only thing that makes this a tough call for me. Baltimore's greatest strength is stuffing the run (Haloti Ngata is having an All Pro season) and that presents a problem for Michael Turner.
On the other side of the ball, Dunta Robinson will match up against Anquan Boldin in a battle between two very physical players. Should be interesting to see if Ray Rice can do anything against Atlanta's 5th ranked run-defense.
I think this'll be a really close game. Neither team will have much luck running the ball, which should mean it comes down to special teams, and one or two big plays on offense. In that case, it's unpredictable. I wish the line was a tad higher because I would take the points either way. I don't think either team will win by more than 3 or 4. But in a straight-up pick, I've got to lean towards the QB who is 17-3 at home.
Bonus pick: the over/under for total score of this game is 43.5, and I really like the under.
Detroit (2-6) @ Buffalo (0-8)
Predicted Line: BUF by 1
Actual Line: BUF by 3
If you're wondering why this line is what it is, it's because Matt Stafford is out. And Vegas, like the rest of the idiots in football world, still think he's a rock star. It's ridiculous. Fortunately for the Lions, Shaun Hill is twice the quarterback Stafford will ever be, and that makes this an easy pick. Even if Detroit loses the most depressing game of the decade to 0-8 Buffalo, I don't think it'll be by more than 3 points. But if they do lose ... well let's just say that Schwartz's job instantly falls into jeopardy, thousands of fans stop watching, the Lions become a laughingstock all over again, half the players get depressed, Calvin Johnson checks out mentally, and it probably sets the Lions' rebuilding process back about 2 seasons.
A win means nothing, but a loss would be detrimental. This is the most important game in years.
For that reason alone, I have to pick the Lions.
Minnesota (3-5) @ Chicago (5-3)
Predicted Line: MIN by 2
Actual Line: MIN by 1
Okay, so here's the latest update:
-4 weeks ago: Favre plays his old team the Jets, and it is revealed that he also takes pics of his private parts on his cell phone and sends them to girls. Creepy, weird, and Vikings lose.
-3 weeks ago: Favre plays his old team the Packers. He gets booed, he can barely walk, Vikings lose.
-2.5 weeks ago: Moss lashes out at local caterers and says he wouldn't feed their food to his dog. Teammates and coaches are concerned.
-2 weeks ago: Moss plays his old team the Patriots; he has 1 catch for 8 yards. Favre still can barely walk. Vikings lose.
-2 hours later: Moss laments in his postgame conference about how much he misses New England. He makes a fool of himself and says he'll ask the questions from now on.
-The next day: Moss is waived by Minnesota. Vikings players are stunned. Brad Childress yells: "Ask yourself THAT!"
-Last week: Percy Harvin gets in a screaming fight with Childress just minutes before kickoff. Vikings go down 24-10 to horrible Arizona but end up winning in OT. Favre has a career day with 446 yards.
-This week: anonymous Vikings players say they "hate" Childress and "are winning despite him."
Here are my first two thoughts:
1. Percy Harvin is being quite clever by using the alias "anonymous " to state his feelings for Childress.
2. Whichever Vikings player said they are winning despite their coach should check the standings. Minnesota is actually losing. They're 3-5.
And as if that's not enough, here are a couple more tidbits to add to the drama:
1. Another Vikings player (or maybe Harvin again) added a little fuel to the fire by saying: ""We got too many good football players, and we won't lay down like Dallas. " Nothing like picking on the 1-7 team who just fired their coach. Real classy.
2. Percy Harvin is out for this Sunday's game with migraines. Very convenient time for migraines. Hmm... I wonder if they'll mix up the Vikings injury report and it will say: "Anonymous is out with migraines"? Wouldn't surprise me at this point.
So ... just another week in the Soap Opera that is Minnesota 2010 football. I don't even care about this game, I just want to see what kind of crap happens this week.
As for a pick, I'll take Minnesota. Dysfunctional team triumphs over a sucky team.
Cincinnati (2-6) @ Indianapolis (5-3)
Predicted Line: IND by 9
Actual Line: IND by 7
Peyton Manning doesn't lose at home, and he doesn't lose two in a row. Colts will win.
Now that we got that settled, let's look at the line. Seven. The question with a line like this is whether Cincy can keep it close or score some TDs in garbage time. Ultimately this spread will be determined by whether the Colts blow it open 14-0 in the first quarter or not. All the Colts injuries worry me just a little. And Cincy has two pretty good CBs so Peyton might opt to run the ball early. Plus there's always a chance that Ced Benson runs well and controls the time of possession and keeps Manning on the sidelines. That's the smartest way to play against the Colts, but my guess is the Bengals aren't quite that smart. And the Colts will stack the line on 1st and 2nd down and force Carson to throw on them.
I'm not overly confident with either outcome. Carson usually puts up some gaudy numbers in garbage time. But there's the Freeney & Mathis factor once Cincy is in obvious passing mode. So, I guess I'll pick the Colts +7.
Houston (4-4) @ Jacksonville (4-4)
Predicted Line: JAC by 2.5
Actual Line: JAC by 1.5
It's kind of strange that these teams are both 4-4 because I think of Houston as a good team and Jacksonville as a bad team. But this pick isn't easy. Jacksonville always rises to the occassion against division rivals. Well maybe not always. But usually. And DeMecco Ryan's season-ending injury has really hurt Houston's defense. Plus Andre Johnson has been somewhat injured since about week 2. So I dunno ...
Both of these secondaries are awful (Jags rank 28th, Texans rank 32nd). In terms of passing offense, Houston ranks 11th and Jacksonville ranks 28th. Both teams can run well (Houston is 5th, Jax is 8th) and both are average at stopping the run (Jags are 22nd, Texans are 11th but just lost Ryans). This game should be high-scoring. The over/under for total points scored is 50, which is the highest of the week. And if it's gonna be a shootout, I guess I'll have to lean towards the better passing offense. Which would be Houston.
Tennessee (5-3) @ Miami (4-4)
Predicted Line: MIA by 1
Actual Line: TEN by 1.5
This line gives no respect to Miami who has lost 4 games all to elite teams. But, let's take a look at the two big stories of this game:
1. Randy Moss. He'll play for the Titans. Will he do much? Probly not. Will he stretch the defense and let Sonic the Hedgehog run wild? Probably.
2. Chad Pennington. He's starting for the Fins in place of ineffective Chad Henne. Is that a good thing for Miami? Will he be a spark for them, or will he be Chad Pennington?
Both of these things favor Tennessee. I'm a little hesitant to pick a road team for the 4th time in 6 games, but whatev. I'll take the Titans.
NY Jets (6-2) @ Cleveland (3-5)
Predicted Line: JETS by 2
Actual Line: JETS by 3
Everyone's picking the Browns, after they've beat New Orleans and New England in consecutive games. It would almost be an upset if i took the Jets.
But based on last week alone, the Browns beat the crap out of a 6-1 team while the Jets only beat Detroit because Detroit beat themselves. Cleveland is playing with TONS of confidence right now and Peyton Hillis is, dare I say, unstoppable. The Jets looked like trash last week. LT is still hiding the fact that he's washed up. Sanchez didn't look good. And the defense was basically Revis and a bunch of overrated clowns. In short, the Jets are who I thought they were.
So I, like everyone else, am taking Cleveland.
Carolina (1-7) @ Tampa Bay (6-2)
Predicted Line: TB by 7.5
Actual Line: TB by 6.5
You may have heard that Matt Moore is lost for the season. Jimmy Claussen will take over for Carolina and both of his running backs will be out, leaving Mike Goodson (who??) in the backfield. Stud RT Jeff Otah, who's been trying to recover from a knee injury all season, was just placed on IR as well. In short, the Carolina offense is in shambles.
But I'm tenative to pick Tampa to cover a 7 point spread when they're so young and unproven. Josh Freeman doesn't win blowouts, he wins comebacks. And as bad as Carolina's offense is, Tampa's defense isn't much better. There's a chance that Goodson actually does something against Tampa's 30th ranked rush defense. According to wikipedia, Goodson is relatively fast and ran a kickoff back for a TD during the presseason. Maybe he'll be a fantasy sleeper this week. I'm not rushing to pick him up. But just saying ... maybe.
Either way, I'll take Carolina to cover. This line just seems too high.
Kansas City (5-3) @ Denver (2-6)
Predicted Line: KC by 1
Actual Line: KC by 1
On the surface, I'd say that Denver is terrible against the run and KC's two-headed rushing attack should go wild. I'd say that Denver is one-dimensional on offense and the Chiefs are clearly the better team and all they have to do is win by 1.
But, two questions:
1. Isn't the NFL still a quarterback league?
2. Isn't Kyle Orton due for another 400 yard, 3 TD game?
Because of how futile Matt Cassel has been over the past ...err, two seasons ... and because of how dominant Kyle Orton has been this season ... I'm gonna go with Denver as my Upset of the Week.
Dallas (1-7) @ NY Giants (6-2)
Predicted Line: NYG by 8.5
Actual Line: NYG by 13.5
That line is hilarious.
I really don't know. I mean, how am I - in Grand Rapids, Michigan - going to predict whether or not the Cowboys' players actually give any sort of effort on Sunday in New York?
For the past few weeks Dallas simply gave up. The anonymous Vikings player was right. They just didn't try. But was that in an effort to get Wade Phillips fired? Are they going to start trying now for Jason Garrett? Or do they want to get rid of him too so they can have Bill Cowher next year? And why doesn't Jerry Jones starting cutting players like Mike Jenkins who are clearly not trying?
All those questions and more will be answered, but this game is basically a coin flip as far as the line. Dallas isn't as bad as their record indicates, but I've picked them 2 weeks in a row and been burned. They simply aren't trying. But I think 14 points is too high. I'll pick them again. I'm an idiot.
Seattle (4-4) @ Arizona (3-5)
Predicted Line: ARZ by 3
Actual Line: ARZ by 3
Could I possibly be less interested in this game?
Last time these squads played Seattle won 22-10 in Seattle. I think Arizona should return the favor and win at home. But three things make me want to pick Seattle:
1) Arizona lost an OT heartbreaker last week and might be deflated.
2) Hasselbeck is at least 4 times better than Derek Anderson.
3) The spread. Very possible that the Cards win a tight game and Seattle covers.
So what the heck. I'll go with Seattle.
St. Louis (4-4) @ San Francisco (2-6)
Predicted Line: SF by 2
Actual Line: SF by 6
This spread is so horrendous that it makes me wonder how corrupt the gambling industry might be. Are there crooks like Tim Donaghy all over football? I mean, this line is just preposterous. 73% of the public is betting on the Rams, and I'm surprised it's not 99%.
Before I looked at the line I thought about taking San Fran to pull the upset. I thought they might be a sneaky pick. But to cover a 6 point spread? That's absurd! Isn't Troy Smith still their quarterback? How is the better team a 6 point underdog?!
I'm taking the Rams to at least cover the spread and I'll make that the Lock of the Week.
New England (6-2) @ Pittsburgh (6-2)
Predicted Line: PIT by 4
Actual Line: PIT by 4.5
So Tom Brady, one of the greatest players in NFL history, has one bad game against Cleveland and all of a sudden he's a 5 point underdog?!?
Give me New England as the Upset of the Week, thank you very much.
Philadelphia (5-3) @ Washington (4-4)
Predicted Line: PHI by 5.5
Actual Line: PHI by 3
This line sucks. No wonder 90% of the voting is on the Eagles. I'll add to that percentage gleefully. This line should be closer to 7, not 3. The Eagles are clearly so much better than the Redskins in every possible way. Washington is 28th against the run, and they now face LeSean McCoy and a certain QB who can run with the ball if he chooses. They're also 31st against the pass, and face two deadly receivers in Jackson and Maclin.
Philly's defense isn't much to write home about (15th against the pass, 12th against the run) but Washington's feeble offense and retarted play-calling doesn't worry me much. Especially given the cerebral understanding that Andy Reid and Co. have of Donovan McNabb's tendencies. That is, if McNabb isn't mysteriously benched for Rex Grossman again.
How could anyone want to take Washington in this game? I know they're at home in a critical Monday night game against their hated rival, but still ... Philly is just so much better.
That's all I got. Enjoy week 10.