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- Week 9 round-up, week 10 picks and other thoughts

Ian Hetherington November 11, 2007
Ian Hetherington
NFL Columnist

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NFL Week 9 thoughts

"Game of the Century": It was riddled with mistakes from players on both teams and game officials, but that actually helped this one live up to it's billing as a top-drawer game. This had great scores, great performances and controversy enough to offer talking points but not to turn the game sour. Ultimately, the Patriots deserved to win but if they end up at home to the Colts in the AFC championship game they're not a lock by any means.

Colts controversy: And so the stories that leave a bad taste in the mouth continue to pile up, the latest being more accusations (after Pittsburgh pointed the finger in '05) that the Colts amplify crowd noise through their sound system to try and gain an advantage. Are they up to no good? Did the Patriots imagine it? Was it CBS' fault? Who knows. If they did something, they deserve punishment, but it’d be nice if we could go a couple of weeks where the only story was about the games themselves.

Baltimore defense: The Ravens vaunted defense was obviously pulling the wool over our eyes in recent games against weak opposition because Roethlisberger showed absolutely no fear as he played a huge part in leaving the defense in tatters.

Adrian Peterson: The NFL has a new action hero. Nearly three hundred rushing yards against a Chargers team who are meant to be good at stopping this sort of thing. Some say he’s running too hard and he won’t last, but my he’s fun to watch while he’s doing it.

Impressive rookies: Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch have been stand-outs on the offensive side of the ball (and Joe Thomas has been a big help for Anderson) while on defense the ridiculously young Amobi Okoye has lived up to his draft position while Patrick Willis has been excellent in a poor 49ers team. I like LaRon Landry in Washington too when I’ve seen him, can that boy hit or what?

Surprise packages: Tampa, Cleveland, Green Bay and Detroit. That’s right folks, we’ve had nine week of football and these are teams with winning records that few would have predicted. Not to mention the Rams, 49ers, Broncos and Bengals being shadows of the teams they looked like they could be before the season began.

NFL Week 10

Game predictions
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers
With Steve Smith the best player they have, you’d think he would be the weapon the Panthers would utilise to try and turn around their flagging season, but with injuries behind center they’ve struggled to find anybody who can reliably get the ball to him as much as they’d need. They rectified that against the Cardinals a little and he could be the key again as the Falcons will likely stuff the run and force whoever ends up at quarterback to execute through the air. They’ll make it tough, but the struggling Panthers will still find enough at home against a Falcons team forced to turn back to Joey Harrington.

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins
Sorry Phins Phans, but can you expect anybody to pick you right now? The Bills are to be admired for somehow going 4-4 (if not for Dallas it could be 5-3) in spite of the horrendous amount of injuries they’ve piled up (ten players on IR???) and unless the Dolphins defense of 2006 comes back from it’s vacation in parts unknown Losman, Evans and Lynch will get the job done here.

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
I really want to pick the 5-3 Browns here, I do. They’re decent to watch, they’ve got plenty of players who give it their all week in and week out, and they’ve shown they can dish out the punishment if it comes to a shootout. But for all Derek Anderson’s great performance up to now I can’t see where the Browns are going to find the players to stop the Steelers from scoring. Fast Willie Parker will cause them problems and even if they put on a good pass rush, Roethlisberger is getting to a point where that doesn’t concern him. It’s probably the biggest game between these two teams for a while, but I’m afraid the Brownies will likely end up going away empty-handed.

Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Cutler was pretty candid about the state of the Broncos right now, there’s not much denying it after all. However, a divisional game on the road with a possibility of Pat Ramsey handing off to Selvin Young isn’t the stuff a Denver fan dreams of. More importantly, even with Larry Johnson out the Chiefs have been looking much better on both sides of the ball so the leaky Denver D could look a fine way to extend their good form. Whoever ends up at quarterback for the Broncos (Cutler is listed as possible) they need to protect him against the pass rush, with Jared Allen looking hungry for more sacks.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
Vince Young has been weak this year, the Titans haven’t proven the most explosive in games when kicker Rob Bironas has often been their best weapon. David Garrard being missing may be where this game lies, because the Titans have caused problems for quarterbacks this year, either picking them off or hitting them before they even release the ball. That said, if you’ve got Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor taking it for you on the ground you always have a threat, even against as solid a rush defense as Tennessee’s. Vince Young is somehow not dragging the Titans down though, and I’d expect him to somehow help them scrape to another win against the Jags.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
You always have to give credit to an offensive line when a running back is doing so well, but you can’t help but watch Adrian Peterson and realise how much he manages to do himself once he’s past the line of scrimmage. I still can’t honestly look at the Vikings and see them as a particularly good team. You know fine well Brett Favre is going to do better against the Vikings passing defense, their defensive soft spot. Will it come down to Favre against Peterson? Possibly, neither team are the deepest or most multi-faceted after all, so the question is can Green Bay stop Peterson more than the Vikings can stop Favre? In the tundra, I’d say so.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins
There’s too much going on in the Eagles camp right now causing distraction, which could play into the hands of the Redskins. They didn’t look particularly convincing against the, um, Jets, and the result against the Patriots should be taken with a pinch of salt but they’re still the favourites here. Donovan McNabb has been a wildcard rather than a star this year, so if he should have a day as good as he can have Philly always have a shot, the ‘Skins have a passing defense to rough him a little though and the running game to keep McNabb off the field.

St. Louis Rams vs. New Orleans Saints
Does anybody honestly see the Rams getting this one? Okay, Bulger is fit and Jackson should start this week so they might be getting towards a recovery and it’s a game where they might get some points on the board. On paper, Bush vs. Jackson and Brees vs. Bulger are tasty looking battles, and they would be if the two teams were on an even keel. The Rams are beat up and can’t buy a win though, and the Saints have finally kicked it up a few gears. There’s much better teams than the Rams I wouldn’t pick to win this one.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens
Do I have to pick? This is a game full of match-ups of bad-versus-even worse. I can’t imagine that Baltimore will be as flimsy this week as they were against Pittsburgh. Palmer should lead another solid outing for the Bengals points-scorers but they sometimes lack diversity and even the Ravens should put a couple of touchdowns up on that defensive unit.

Chicago Bears vs. Oakland Raiders
Yet another game where I could happily not make a pick and leave it at that because they’re both deeply flawed, very ugly teams at the moment. The Bears haven’t been anything like the team that got to the Super Bowl, but these Raiders are beatable and the Bears offensive line knows they need to do a much better job of protecting Griese. I can see both teams struggling to get much over 15, and I think the Bears will win when they inexplicably, accidentally make a big play for a touchdown.

***Game of the Week***
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
NFC East matches have a tendency to be an exciting prospect, and this is the best of the two we have on offer this week. Good defenses and running backs but it’s at quarterback where this game should deliver. Romo and Manning are playing different games this year. Manning is slowing the game down when he needs to, and trying to remain mistake-free to move the chains, where Tony Romo throws and throws until it works. It’s this ability to make big plays in clutch situations that might just give the Cowboys the edge.

Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals
I think everybody is going through the same thought process: These Lions might just be for real. Beating Denver isn’t a huge achievement, but they did it in a highly impressive fashion aided by Kevin Jones’ running. That increased dexterity in the playbook makes the Lions even more dangerous and I think the Cardinals have too many problems to solve to be able to beat an on-form Detroit team.

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers
I can honestly say there is one reason that, for my money, tips the balance in the Colts favour. Peyton Manning rarely loses two in a row, and it’s even more rare that he plays poorly two weeks in a row. The Chargers have big players but after the car-wreck of a performance last week I’m struggling to think of ways they can stop Manning and Addai.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks
What was the name of that guy who used to be great with the ball in his hands for Seattle? Was on the cover of a video game, broke a record. Shaun something perhaps? I dunno, but in his absence it’ll be down to Matt Hasselbeck to win this one, which is doable because they are against the 49ers after all.

PFC Staff Fantasy Picks

If you’ve been following this column, you’ll have read the fantasy football game between a few of the PFC staff we’re running for a bit of fun and maybe a few fantasy football pointers

Kevin Figg went for Jason Campbell, Frank Gore, T.J. Houshmanzadeh and Dallas Clark to get him the points this week. Campbell struggled to 1 ½ points, Gore didn’t even get a carry so that’s a 0 as he hadn’t shaken his injury, T.J. reeled one in for him to get him 6 while Dallas Clark also scored 0 as Peyton suffered a bad night. So with Campbell and Clark spectacularly underachieving, Kevin slumps to a total of 8 ½ points for the week.

Chris Pokorny opted for Philip Rivers, Marshawn Lynch, Antwaan Randle El and Dallas Clark. They respectively earned him 3, 12, 0 and 0 points leaving Chris with a low of 15 after enjoying several very good weeks.

And lastly, I selected Drew Brees, Clinton Portis, Patrick Crayton and Heath Miller. Brees got a huge 24 ½ for me, while the remaining picks got 12, 0 and 6 to allow me to run away this week with a sum of 42 ½.

With Brees the difference-maker out of our selections and all of us making a few bad picks I managed to stretch out ahead for the week.

Chris Pokorny - 312 ½
Ian Hetherington - 295 ½
Kevin Figg - 229 ½

Kevin might have to go for a few easier picks next week as some players have performed in a genuinely shocking manner, but whatever he does it needs to be big as I’ve pulled much closer to Chris at the top and he’s been left trailing. That sad, here’s what we’ve gone for in week 10.

Kevin Figg:
QB: Drew Brees (Saints) vs. Rams - Look for the Saints hot streak to continue against a below average Rams defensive backfield.

RB: Willis McGahee (Ravens) vs. Bengals - The Ravens running game was shut downy Cincy in their season opener. Look for Baltimore to respond this week with their playoff chanced dwindling.

WR: Terrell Owens (Cowboys) vs. Giants - Look for Owens to have a big day against the Giants secondary.

TE: Tony Gonzalez (Chiefs) vs. Broncos - Gonzalez saves some of his best games for his division foes, Sunday will be no different.

Chris Pokorny
QB: Brett Favre (Packers) vs. Vikings - Against a run-stopping defense, the Packers are already more than used to becoming a pass-only team under Favre. Greg Jennings has really started to build prestigious chemistry with the deep ball the past few weeks, but watch out for a big game from Donald Driver
after being quiet lately.

RB: Joseph Addai (Colts) vs. Chargers - The Colts are depleted at the receiving position, but that doesn't affect Addai on the ground as seen last week by his performance against the Patriots. A week after the Chargers allowed a record-breaking 296 yards to Adrian Peterson, why wouldn't Addai flourish against a defense without Luis Castillo and Quentin Jammer?

WR: Braylon Edwards (Browns) vs. Steelers - The Steelers may be used to getting to the opposing quarterbacks, but Derek Anderson getting sacked has been a rarity, allowing for Braylon Edwards to get open and/or make unbelievable catches against opposing teams.

TE: Jason Witten (Cowboys) vs. Giants - The Cowboys have so many weapons, but Witten will be the safety valve in case the Giants defense is able to control the tempo a lot better than they did back in Week 1.

Ian Hetherington
QB: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) vs. Browns – The Browns pass defense is on a par with the Bengals, and Roethlisberger has shown greater maturity this season so he should have a good day while the Browns try and stop Willie Parker tearing them up like he often does.

RB: Marshawn Lynch (Bills) vs. Dolphins – The Miami Dolphins are really, really bad at stopping opposing running backs from hurting them, so on a day when J.P Losman should find the Miami pass D forgiving, Lynch could dominate the game.

WR: Marques Colston (Saints) vs. Rams – There’s little to suggest Brees won’t be in charge of the game again this week, Colston should play a big part of that.

TE: Kellen Winslow (Browns) vs. Steelers – He hasn’t proven sack-prone, but Derek Anderson is still likely to need a safety blanket if the Steelers pass rush gets a foothold, and Winslow is a threat all over the field and a big target for Anderson to throw to.

Quarterbacks: Touchdown = 6 points; 50 yards passing = 1 point; interception or fumble (lost) = -½ point

Running back: Touchdown = 6 points; 50 rushing/receiving yards = 2 points; fumble (lost) = -½ point

Wide receiver: Touchdown = 6 points; 50 receiving yards = 2 points; fumble (recovered by defense) = -½ point

Tight end: Touchdown = 6 points; 50 receiving yards = 2 points; fumble (recovered by defense) = -½ point

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