The 49ers have been one of the most consistent teams in football this seasob. Under Jim Harbaugh’s leadership the 49ers have moved past “trap” games or “letdowns”. They’ve moved beyond the phase of being “lucky” or “pretenders”. The 49ers vs. Steelers matchup was already enticing before the season even started. Tack on two of the top records and you now have one of the best matchups of the season.
A national game between two of the NFL’s top teams, in San Francisco no less!
Then it got weird.
Candlestick Park suddenly lost power due to a blown transformer (whatever that means). Now I’m not saying there was a conspiracy by Jed York or anything, but if he wanted to show the NFL that the 49ers really do need that new stadium, what better way than on national TV in one of the best games of the year? It showed the world what most Bay Area sports fans new already: that Candlestick is a dump.
It isn’t just San Francisco that needs a new stadium either. Both Bay Area football teams are sporting the most filthy, grimy and downright nasty stadiums in the NFL. Oakland has to share its trash to the MLB as well. That lovely baseball track during the first month of the NFL season is a beautiful sight. Sigh. At least San Francisco has AT&T Park.
This is no way breaking news. The Monday Night fiasco only highlights and hopefully accelerates the efforts in Santa Clara. I still dream of a joint stadium but that window is closing faster than Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. A new football stadium in the Bay Area is long overdue. The Bay Area knows it and now the sports world does as well.
5-10-1 last week
113-91-6 for the season
Home team in BOLD and CAPS
Texans (6½) over COLTS
Leave it to those pesky Titans to ruin my picks last week. All they had to do was beat the win-less Colts by a TD. I remember after the Colts victory that the Titans were also the ones who screwed me in Week 2 when they beat the Ravens. I vowed never to put money on either the Titans or Ravens. Lo and behold I did. My wallet suffers.
Raiders (+2) over CHIEFS
Did you know that the Raiders haven’t lost in Kansas City since 2006? A shocking statistic when you consider the Raiders recent history. The Raiders took care of Kyle Orton in Week 1, if they can limit Dwayne Bowe (i.e. not Calvin Johnson numbers) than the Raiders should win this game. If there is a clear definition to the phrase “letdown game” than this is it for the Chiefs.
Broncos (-3) over BILLS
The Patriot blowout last week was expected and anyone who thought otherwise was drunk off the Tebow Jesus Juice. Against a downtrodden Bills team Tebow and Co. should have no problem this week.
TITANS (7½) over Jaguars
The only reason I lean towards the dreaded Titans is the location of the game. By the way, is there a worse starting QB in the league than Blaine Gabbert right now? Sheesh. I know it’s only his first year and he doesn’t have any WR’s but I see no hope in sight for this guy. I’m not even mentioning the hair…
BENGALS (-4) over Cardinals
The Cardinals are playing well. Let me repeat: the Arizona Cardinals are playing well. John Skelton is Tim Tebow minus the Christianity, the national titles, the Heisman’s and the Skip Bayless-esque blowhards. Here’s a question, which deal was worse: the Kevin Kolb trade and immediate extension or the Carson Palmer trade? The Cardinals can opt-out of Kolb’s deal after this season while the Raiders have to give up (at a minimum) their 2011 first round pick and 2012 second rounder. Just win baby?
PATRIOTS (-10) over Dolphins
The last three meetings between these two teams have all been blowouts in favor of the Patriots. With the Patriots rolling I see no reason why this should be any different.
RAVENS (-13) over Browns
The Ravens at home + Baltimore defense + Ray Rice + Seneca Wallace = a multiple TD victory.
Giants (+3) over JETS
Leave it to Eli Manning and the G-Men to kill my holiday funds last week. In a must win game at home the Giants were giving seven points to the Redskins. They continued to not show up at all and talks of Eli being “elite” quickly flushed down the toilet. Since they played like dogs last week it’s only fitting they play like Super Bowl contenders this week. The universe will restore order.
Vikings (+6½) over REDSKINS
This will be ugly. Don’t expect a shootout. Don’t expect beautiful football. Expect a close game.
PANTHERS (-7½) over Buccaneers
The Panthers have quietly won three of four and sporting a very potent offense. If their defense was healthier they could be a .500 team this year. Watch out for them next year. This week? Take them against a horrible Bucs squad.
STEELERS (-13½) over Rams
Big Ben’s decision to play or to sit out doesn’t matter. The game is in Pittsburgh and the lowly Rams are opposing a tough Steelers defense that’s getting back James Harrison.
LIONS (-3) over Chargers
Whatever the over/under for this game is, take the over. Two of the best offenses in the league playing each other in turf. This will be a great game to watch. One late killer Rivers interception seals the deal for Detroit.
49ers (-2) over SEAHAWKS
Seattle is playing better, it’s always tough to play there and after the 49ers loss in Arizona a couple weeks ago I’m not as confident as I should be in this 11-3 team. The 49ers are oblivious to “trap” games at this point and I expect (once again) tons of FG’s. All they need is one.
Eagles (+1) over COWBOYS
OK, the Cowboys surprised me last week with their shellacking of the Bucs last Saturday. The Cowboys still haven’t convincingly beaten a great team this year. Have they had a “statement” game this year? When was the last time you combined the words “great win” and “Cowboys” in the same sentence? Take the soaring Eagles on the road.
PACKERS (-13) over Bears
It’s been awhile since anyone can say this but…the Packers COMING OFF A LOSS should be ready to roll over Josh McCown and the Bears. The game is in Green Bay too? Sounds like an easy victory to me.
Falcons (+7) over SAINTS
I was tempted to take the roaring Saints at home but the Falcons have been showing a lot of fight lately. Many wrote them off after a disappointing start to the season. Prediction: a lot of TD’s will be thrown. Expect a 34-31 or 27-24 type game. A great way to close out an otherwise horrible MNF schedule.
My expert predictions for the upcoming NFL season. Go ahead and put your life savings on these picks. You can trust me.
Philadelphia Eagles – 11-5
Dallas Cowboys – 9-7
New York Giants – 8-8
Washington Redskins – 4-12
I really like the Eagles this season…but I don’t love them. The Cowboys will be better. With Tony Romo back and the emergence of Dez Bryant they’ll be explosive, too bad their defense won’t be. The Giants are…well…bleh. They don’t excite me at all. They’re not bad but they’re not good. They’re just there. As for the Redskins…Rex Grossman or John Beck? How about slitting your wrists or hanging yourself?
Green Bay Packers – 13-3
Chicago Bears – 9-7
Detroit Lions – 8-8
Minnesota Vikings – 6-10
The Packers are still the cream of the NFL crop. An explosive offense and tenacious defense is usually a formula for success. This year will be no different. The Bears can’t be great with Jay Cutler as QB. You throw any elite QB on the Bears and their Super Bowl contenders, but with the mopey looking Cutler they’re only slightly above average. Everyone is jumping on the Lions bandwagon but I don’t see them making the jump this season. If Stafford stays healthy I could easily see them making the playoffs and causing teams trouble. But when do “Stafford” and “healthy” ever coincide? The Vikings are Adrian Peterson’s team but the McNabb trade will pay dividends…and by “paying dividends” I mean not being Tavaris Jackson.
Atlanta Falcons – 11-5
New Orleans Saints – 10-6
Tampa Bay Buccanears – 8-8
Carolina Panthers – 4-12
A tough division to pick. I can see either the Falcons or the Saints taking the South. I like the Falcons simply because of Julio Jones. That guy looks like a man possessed out there. Expect big things from Julio this season. The Saints are the Saints: great offense, better than average defense. The Bucs are interesting. They snuck up on the NFL last year but have looked awful this pre-season. Yes it’s preseason but the NFL now knows who Josh Freeman and Mike Williams are. I really like Cam Newton as an NFL prospect. If he had decent options around him they would be a six or seven win team. Too bad he doesn’t.
St. Louis Rams – 9-7
Arizona Cardinals – 7-9
San Francisco 49ers – 5-11
Seattle Seahawks – 4-12
Ugh. Do I really need to pick this division? I guess I pick the Rams but honestly any team could win this division. It’s awfully wide open. The reason I have the Rams on top: they have the best QB in the division. This division is like picking the best looking chick in a molecular engineering class.
New York Jets – 11-5
New England Patriots – 11-5
Miami Dolphins – 5-11
Buffalo Bills – 4-12
The Jets have the swagger don’t they? I think the Plaxico Burress signing will pay more dividends than people think. He’ll take some pressure off Santonio Holmes (which would help my fantasy team) and gives Sanchez another huge target. They’re defense is one of the best in the league too if you haven’t noticed. If Sanchez plays decent they can go along way. The Patriots will be good as they usually are. The Dolphins will be they’re slightly below average, boring selves. I guess I have to mention the Buffalo Bills…so there it was.
Pittsburgh Steelers – 12-4
Baltimore Ravens – 10-6
Cleveland Browns – 6-10
Cincinnati Bengals – 3-13
I love Pittsburgh. The uniforms, the stadium, their defense, Mike Wallace, Mike Tomlin and the Harrah’s in Tahoe. The prototypical sports franchise will once again take the AFC North. The Ravens have everything they need for a Super Bowl run but an elite QB. I don’t trust Flacco when it counts. People are getting a tingle from Colt McCoy this pre-season. Too bad he plays for the Browns. Peyton Hillis will be a bust this year, hence why I didn’t choose him for any of my fantasy teams. The Ginger will lead the Bengals to victory…three times. Honestly though: how does Marvin Lewis still have a job?
Indiannapolis Colts – 10-6
Houston Texans – 8-8
Jacksonville Jaguars – 7-9
Tennessee Titans – 6-10
Peyton Manning looks like he’ll miss Week 1. Even if he comes back Week 2 it’ll take some time for him to get back to his normal self. I still like the Colts. Houston is once again a sleeper this season, and I’m not falling into the “It’s their year!” talk. They have an extremely talented offense but their defense is still horrid. Add Wade Phillips and the fact they can’t close out games and you get 8-8. The Jags seem to always just be average. Garrard at times looks like he could be someone…then quickly looks like no one. The Titans are platooning Matt Hasselback and Jake Locker? No thanks.
Oakland Raiders – 10-6
San Diego Chargers – 9-7
Kansas City Chiefs – 6-10
Denver Broncos – 5-11
BOOM! My homer pick? Yes. Possible? Absolutely. Probable? Maybe. Would I put money on it? No. The Raiders swept the division last year, something EXTREMELY hard to do. I see a little Rex Ryan in Hue Jackson. Just a little. The Raiders hopes lie in Jason Campbell and that secondary. The Chargers might be the most talented team in the NFL. They also have the mentally anemic coach in the NFL. You think if Bill Bellichick coached the Chargers they wouldn’t have won at least two Super Bowls by now? The Chiefs had their “Wow where’d that come from!” season last year. I don’t like them this year at all. John Fox was an interesting choice for the Broncos. Tebow WILL be traded. Brandon Lloyd will NOT be as good as last year. Kyle Orton IS under-appreciated as an NFL QB. That DOESN’T mean they’ll be good.
NFC Wild Card
Saints over Rams
Let’s be real here…
Falcons over Cowboys
Actually think this is closer than people think. Both QB’s are unproven in the playoffs. Falcons are the more complete team, they pull it out.
AFC Wild Card
Patriots over Chargers
Great game. Pats take it in a shootout.
Ravens over Raiders
The Raiders fought to make the playoffs, and unfortunately are shown the door early. The better team wins.
NFC Divisional Round
Eagles over Saints
Love this matchup. Eagles take it at home.
Packers over Falcons
Rematch of last year’s playoff matchup. The Falcons won’t get blown out like they did last year but Packers still win.
AFC Divisional Round
Steelers over Ravens
The best rivalry in the NFL. Steelers have had the Ravens number and it doesn’t change here.
Jets over Pats
Another juicy one. Jets take it with a late FG.
NFC Conference Finals
Packers over Eagles
The Packers defense is too much for Vick to handle. Rodgers spreads it around and beats The Dream Team.
AFC Conference Finals
Jets over Steelers
Just a grinder game here. Very little offense. Rex finds a game plan that works in an epic battle.
Packers 31 — Jets 24
A repeat? Yes. The Packers are returning 11 starters. 11! Rodgers will once again prove why he’s the best QB in the league. Tons of options, a great defense and the best QB in the league prove too much for Sanchez and the Jets. Maybe next time Rex. Time for a foot rub.
MVP/Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers
Defensive Player of the Year: Ndamukong Suh
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Julio Jones
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcell Dereus
Coach of the Year: Hue Jackson