“I never realized how similar that I am to Tom Brady,
I mean, the obvious physical appearance would be the first thing. “
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Weather: 60’s and sunny – Couldn’t be better!
New York – Too many, for sure. DTs Kenrick Ellis and Sione Po’uha are out, along with Safety Eric Smith. Center Nick Mangold and RB Joe McKnight are questionable. Rusher Bilal Powell is out. The offense could have used them all.
New England – Aside from the anticipated absence of RB Brandon Bolden and Safety Steve Gregory, you can’t ever tell much about a Bill Belichick injury report.
Keys to the Game: It’s a good thing Rex lost all that weight, because his team is raising his blood pressure. The defense struggled badly at times against the Colts. And the Colts were running a backup rusher. Hmmmm. Credit to CB Antonio Cromartie, who was awesome for the second week in a row.
Rusher Shonn Greene had one of his once-a-year good games (161 yards and three scores). And it only took adding a sixth O-lineman. Well, if that’s what it takes. Don’t expect a repeat. The offense refreshingly had zero turnovers. Three plays by Tim Tebow kept drives alive. One successful trick play against the Pats will be all you could expect.
Tom Brady got thoroughly frustrated last weekend in the rain in Seattle. Congratulations to Pete Carroll’s defense. Few would say that Carroll is a better coach than Bill Belichick and yet his guys were tremendous. One shouldn’t expect a second week of low production from Brady—even if half of his squad is questionable.
One of the best compliments to Mr. B came from Seahawks FB Michael Robinson, who was mic’d for NFL Films. Featured on Showtime’s Inside the NFL, Robinson was shot on the sidelines lamenting the fact that the Patriots D was “coached up…every single one of those guys was exactly where they were supposed to be.” Yep.
Battle to watch: NE WR Brandon Lloyd versus Jets CB Cromartie. The winner will tip the scales for his team.
Straight Up: New England
Against the Spread: New York Jets +10.5
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders
Weather: 60’s and cloudy.
Jacksonville – Safety Dwight Lowery and LB Daryl Smith are out on D while Blaine Gabbert will not have the services of Laurent Robinson. That leaves rookie WR Justin Blackmon to decide to have a breakout game. You’re up, dude.
Oakland – Gabbert should be encouraged by the fact that CB Shawntae Spencer will not be playing for the Raiders this week. QB Carson Palmer should have a few of his weapons back since WR Denarius Moore is probable, along with offensive centerpiece Darren McFadden.
Keys to the Game: Poor Carson. He has played awfully well with some very suspect WRs and he has lost a couple of close ones recently. Yeah, that pick-six by Atlanta’s Asante Samuel hurt. However, the QB completed 23-of-33 passes, averaging 10.7 yards per attempt. It was simply a vintage Samuel INT—ask Peyton Manning. Darren McFadden 2.6 yards per touch last week. 15 first downs were courtesy of Carson Palmer and only three were achieved on the ground. That has to change.
The Raiders defense intercepted Matt Ryan three times on Sunday. One hates to think what they’ll do to Gabbert. While not a huge fan of the NFL QB rating, I’m pretty sure that a season number of 73.3 isn’t good. The offense scored less than 12 points on average in their past three games. Jacksonville continues to be all about Maurice Jones-Drew. Fortunately for Florida, sometimes even when defenses know this—they can’t stop him.
The Jags D is a perplexing bunch: on occasion they are dominating and approach fearsome. And then they’ll fall apart—allowing over 28 points in the last three games. Ouch.
Straight Up: Oakland
Against the Spread: Oakland -4.5
Sunday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Weather: 50 and clear
Pittsburgh – Ben Roethlisberger twisted an ankle in practice, but is expected to play. Who is going to run the football with both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman sitting on the bench? You’re up, Jonathan Dwyer and rookie Chris Rainey! Dwyer looked exactly like Redman in the preseason, so we’ll see how he can do against a respectable Bengals D. It will help if Center Maurkice Pouncey can play. Troy Polamalu will not play. Can you see that redhead smiling? It’s Andy Dalton.
Cincinnati – RB Brian Leonard is doubtful, leaving BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Cedric Peerman as the backs of record. Otherwise, the tigers are in pretty good shape.
Keys to the Game: Andy Dalton’s interceptions cost them the game last weekend. Still, WR A.J. Green finished with 7 catches for 135 yards. His 108 catches and 13 TDs are the most by any player in NFL history through his first 21 games. While that is a beautiful thing, someone else has to catch the football.
Whoever totes the rock for the Steelers had better gain more than the 77 yards rushing that is the team average in the last few weeks. This may be difficult, since the Bengals are only allowing about 80 rushing yards per game on recent Sundays.
This should be a close game, since the Steelers are averaging two points more on offense but giving up four more points on defense.
Until the Pittsburgh O-line proves that it can stop someone, expect to see lots of striped helmets headed towards Big Ben.
Straight Up: Pittsburgh
Against the Spread: Pittsburgh -2.5 (don’t go over a field goal since it’s a home underdog situation)