What an unfair injury to all the fans of the NFL. Contrary to how Tom Brady’s ACL injury had 95% of NFL fans thrilled (to see someone else win for once), the loss of Ronnie Brown is a gut punch to anyone who’s a fan of the NFL. Without Brown, the wildcat package is without their primary shot caller. Sure Ricky Williams might have a few cameo’s as their direct snap taker, and maybe we see more of Pat White, but don’t kid yourself, Brown turned the screws in this offense. Averaging 72 yards (on just over 16 carries a game, yielding a respectable 4.4 average) and a score (counting his passing td) per game, he will definitely be missed. More importantly, the team most likely to be played in the popular video game Madden, is going to fall short in their long shot playoff push. Here’s what I do like though. Sparano had muddling, contradicting statements:
“Ricky has been back handling the snaps,” Sparano told reporters Monday. “There is going to be some other people if Ronnie isn’t able to be out there that would come into play.”
And more recently had this to say when asked about the wildcat:
“Who knows? May not even run it,” coach Tony Sparano said on Tuesday. “Never know.”
Despite the loss of their primary wildcat caller, the Panthers will still have to prepare for a wildcat that may never show up. By making the package so effective while he was healthy, Ronnie Brown has opponents respecting the design of the wildcat. So in a twisted indirect way, Brown’s still affective. And he’s not even on the field! It’s like, a “Phantom Wildcat” that has opponent’s heads spinning. Love it. Wildcat, we hardly knew ye.
Last week 11-4, 78-65 on the season. Home teams in CAPS.
PANTHERS (-3) over Dolphins
I’m not going to gush over the wildcat anymore than I already did, so instead I just want to state that the 4-5 Panthers are very well alive in the NFC wildcard hunt.
COWBOYS (-11) over Redskins
If I pick the Skins two weeks in a row as underdogs I’d call myself crazy. This is a traditional “favorite coming off a loss versus underdog coming off a win” scenario, goading gamblers to take the trendy underdog pick. Don’t think it’s happening this week. Keep in mind the context of each team’s week 10. The Cowboys played at a hostile Lambeau, where it’s difficult for any (unfamiliar) visitor to play in. And the Redskins played an Orton-less Broncos for the second half. One interesting thing I’d like to point out: Two years ago, would anyone have ever thought losing Orton would be a devastating blow to your chances at success? Ridiculous. Another (and also far more) interesting thing: 4th and 20 on the Bronco 45, Redskins bring out the field goal unit, then split Todd Yoder out wide INDICATING THAT THE PLAY WAS A FAKE. And, really a net of 15 wouldn’t be worth it to punt. Panicking on the sidelines because they only have ten men on the field, Jim Zorn calls timeout. The only thing dumber than to send out the same play call at that point, would be to not expect it. Shame on you Denver Broncos. SHAME ON YOU.
LIONS (-3.5) over Browns
Last week we got the Chiefs @ Oakland. This week we get the Browns @ Lions. What a delight.
49ers (-6.5) over PACKERS
It’s the 2005 draft all over again. Alex Smith visits Aaron Rodgers. Much has been made of the Packer defense that limited the Cowboys offense to seven points last week, but no one’s saying anything about the 38 that the Bucs dropped on them the week before. Quick are we to forget.
Steelers (-10) over CHIEFS
Why are the Steelers giving only ten points to a Bowe-less Chiefs? Side note on Bowe. Who was really surprised by this? Dwayne Bowe comes into training camp overweight and out of shape, gets demoted from his #1 wideout role, and comes into the season scoring touchdowns in back to back weeks. Suspicious? I am.
Seahawks (+10.5) over VIKINGS
GIANTS (-6.5) over Falcons
After their 5-0 start, 0-4 skid, the media is having a field day tearing at the Giants. Good timing for their bye week. But would we be singing a different tune if they’d beaten the Cards (lost by one score) and the Chargers (lost by one points)? Sure they had crushing defeats to the Saints and Eagles, but take those with the context. Saints were (and still are) an undefeated juggernaut who was priming (and have faced more woes recently) and the Eagles – well the Eagles just flat out have the Giants number. Needless to say, we could easily be talking about a 7-2 team, instead of a 5-4 team. With these things considered, add a struggling Falcons team to the mix, and I would say this is the closest thing to a lock this week.
Saints (-11.5) over BUCCANEERS
Call me a sucker. The last time the Saints covered was week 7 against the Dolphins. This, the match up where so many irregular variables needed to occur for that to happen. I’m picking the undefeated team who couldn’t put the Rams away until the last play was over. I’m a sucker.
JAGUARS (-9) over Bills
The Bills are paltry against the run. Atrocious. I’m going to need thesaurus help on this one. Abhorrent, awful, bad, beastly, contemptible, cursed, despicable, disgusting, foul, grim, grody, gross, hateful, heinous, hellish, horrible, horrid, loathsome, lousy, nauseating, obnoxious, odious, offensive, repellent, reprehensible, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, rotten, sleazy, stinking, terrible, vile, wretched. These are your Bills. MJD’s chance to fantasy redeem himself plus a Bills (insert word synonymous with atrocious here) run defense. Love it!
RAVENS (+1) over Colts
Last week should have been the week the Colts lost. Instead, a 4th and 2 was left unconverted on the field. Much has been said about this controversial decision by Belichick, and I’m not going to get too deep into it. I just want to say one thing: When Belichick was blasted for not having confidence in his defense, no one was saying “Belichick showed great confidence in his offense” instead. It might not necessarily be a lack of confidence in his defense, it was just overconfidence in his offense.
RAMS (+9) over Cardinals
The Cardinals gave up 123 yards on 17 carries to some guy named Justin Forsett last week. You don’t think Stephen Jackson can one up that? The rams were competitive against the best team in the NFC last week. I think we will see a more confident Rams team start to take the field in the second half this season. They had the game TIED last week against the Saints only to have their chances deflated by a fluke-y kickoff return TD. Minus that special teams score, we might have had more of a thrilling conclusion. Just kidding, I’m trying real hard to sell the Rams. Still, love em +9 this week.
Chargers (even) over BRONCOS
Because the writing is on the wall.
Bengals (-9.5) over the RAIDERS
Sad thing about this spread is that it probably improved for the Raiders ever since Jamarcus was benched. Had he been starting, could this be around -12? 13.5?
PATRIOTS (-10.5) over Rex Ryan Tear Factory … I mean Jets
Ha ha ha that was low. In all seriousness, the Pats this season have lost two games prior to the Colts. Both bounce back games (against the Falcons and Titans) resulted in a 16 point win, and a 59 point win. Meanwhile, the Jets are trying to piece together what remains of Jenkins and Washington’s legs for next season. On the bright side, if the Jets can manufacture a win here, they’d be 5-5 and 2-0 against the would be 6-4 Patriots. Meaning they’d be a game out of the lead of the AFC East. With Miami virtually out of this, and the Bills always virtually out of it, the Jets could potentially win this division. Unfortunately, the Jets are 1-5 after their sizzling 3-0 start, and their lone win coming on a platter served by Jamarcus Russell.
Eagles (-3) over BEARS
So Jay Cutler throws five interceptions and the Eagles are only a three point favorite. I don’t care if the Eagles are on a two game slide (both to respectable teams) and Westbrook isn’t playing. You don’t throw five interceptions and only get three points the following week. This is wrong, morally wrong. Who the hell made this line? I deserve an explanation. Someone out there is “earning” a paycheck creating this line. They should provide a detailed explanation why the Cutler Interception Bonanza is only getting three points. Man, I just made myself upset.
Titans (+4.5) over TEXANS
Three weeks ago, this MNF game looked like vomit in HD. Now we might have a respectable game. The Texans are smack dab average against the run while the Titans are among the NFL elite at running the ball. Meanwhile, the Titans are dead last against the pass and the Texans are sitting pretty near the top. The Titans aren’t the same team with Vince Young under center. They literally look like a different team. Unathletic, aging, pocket passing, white quarterback and 0-6 team versus super athletic, youthful, supremely mobile, black quarterback and 3-0. Love the dynamic. Chris Johnson would be a top MVP candidate if Tennessee were even floating around .500.