Posted 1/13 by Michael Brown, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Alright, before we begin - there's something I need to address.
To the approximately 10,368,412 of you who wrote to remind me about how insanely
wrong I was about the Steelers: Um
I would say about 90% of my e-mails regarding that game referred to how I horribly
underestimated Pittsburgh and wildly overrated the Bengals, and how I can't
blame Palmer's injury and yada yada. Here's one in particular that amused me:
"Nice job on the Bengals/Steelers pick, by the way. You're probably
going to make some lame excuse next week about Carson Palmer getting hurt. But
Kitna played just as good as Palmer would have, and it made no difference in
the game that he got hurt. The end result would have been the exact same thing."
So wait, then you're saying that the end result is that the Bengals would have
continuously beaten the Steeler DBs for 66 yard completions at will all game
long? Yeah, I can buy that. In fact, the VERY FIRST pass play of the game for
Cincinnati was representative of exactly what I expected.
People, please tell me this e-mail is not representative of the FBG population.
I'll grant you that the Bengals may not have won anyway even with Palmer. They
played poorly in other areas besides QB. But let's not make the assertion that
Jon Kitna played as well as Palmer would have, m'kay? He's not Palmer. Not.
Even. Close. He played "OK" for about two quarters, and then the complete
lack of a threat in the deep passing game KIND OF hurt the Bengals. Like I said,
I'll make no excuses for being wrong. But I find it a bit ludicrous that so
many chose to jump down my throat after the team I picked lost oh, I don't know,
one of the best players in the history of the franchise?
Now that that's out of the way...
The Pats really rose up and surprised me this week. It was sort of a "Katie
Holmes in The Gift" moment. Sure, we knew all along they had talent and
were pretty good, but nothing that made you stand up and cheer. But then all
of a sudden, it was like "Holy crap look at that!" I know, everyone
else was on the Pats well before they beat the Jags. But I just couldn't fully
buy into the four game winning streak when three of those wins came against
the awful Jets and Bills. I really expected Jacksonville to put up a 60 minute
fight, not just 30. The Patriots are officially back on the "scary"
The Giants, Plaxico Burress specifically, quit. I'm not saying there weren't
individual players who continued to play hard the entire game. But several players
out there just didn't seem very enthused about playing a home playoff game.
It was an embarrassing effort, and Burress for one is a disgrace. My only saving
grace in this game is how many others liked New York to come up large in a big
spot at home. I didn't have a great feeling about them to begin with and thought
it could go either way, but I'm full-steam ahead on the Panthers now. I had
mentioned that I expected the winner of Giants/Panthers to go on to the Super
Bowl. I'm wavering on that a bit, but not for reasons you may think. I'll explain
As for the one game I was actually correct about, yes I did intentionally wait
until last to bring it up. That way, you have it fresh in your mind that I was
actually right about something. Then when you read the picks below, you'll be
thinking, "Hey this guy picked the road dog Redskins - he might have a
clue after all." Then you'll put down the crack pipe and slowly step away
from your computer.
On to the picks
DENVER (-3) vs. NEW ENGLAND
As mentioned above, the Patriots finally impressed me last week. I figured they'd
win the game, but did not expect them to do so in such a convincing fashion.
Of course, I would have liked to see the more mobile David Garrard in there
to exploit some weaknesses in the Patriots' secondary, but I'm not egotistical
enough to question Jack Del Rio about what's best for his football team. I'm
That's about the only thing that worries me for this game - the mobility of
Jake Plummer. I think that aspect can give New England some trouble, but the
way this defense played last week I'm not sure it'll really matter much. I think
Denver's run game is excellent. I think Denver's pass game is solid. I think
Denver's defense is underrated. Yet with all of these positives in Denver's
favor, you know what is leading me in the other direction? History. Plain old
history. The matchup stats are telling me that the Broncos should win this game,
and win convincingly. And if the Steelers can be road favorites at Cincinnati,
then if Vegas really thought New England was all the way back, wouldn't it stand
to reason that they'd make them road favorites at Denver? I haven't found many
people this week who actually like the Broncos in this game, yet the line is
maintaining right where it opened. Where are all these people betting Denver,
I ask? And how do you have the guts to go out and lay money against Tom Brady
in a playoff game, when he's never lost one to this point? Again, there's that
history creeping back in. It's amazing, I'm not even remotely tempted to go
with Denver and the only reason why is out of fear of the Patriots.
Can you think of a better reason to take a team? Because I can't. PICK:
SEATTLE (-9) vs. WASHINGTON
This line is confusing to me. OK fine, based on my record this year I suppose
a lot of things are confusing to me. But with this game, I know that everyone
loves Seattle because hey, they've got the MVP of the league, the top seed in
the conference, and they're playing at home (not to mention having had basically
three weeks of rest). But nine points is an awful lot to lay against a ball
control, defense-oriented team - especially one as good as Washington is. The
Redskins are being wildly underestimated, and it's a bit surprising. Take a
look at their season-to-date. They have exactly one blowout loss, a drubbing
at the hands of the Giants. Amongst their other five regular season losses were:
- Two point loss at Denver
- Seven point loss at Kansas City
- One point loss at Tampa Bay (a game lost on a two point conversion)
- Three point loss to Oakland
- Six point loss to San Diego (a game they led late in the fourth quarter)
Of those games, only the loss to Oakland can be characterized a "bad"
loss, and even that game the Skins led with about a minute left in the game.
Not only that, there was a controversial non-fumble call and it was Norv Turner's
return to Washington. Again, not making excuses, just saying there were extenuating
circumstances. And sure, Washington caught some breaks in several other games
that they won, so a lot of times things evened out. But there can be no question
that they competed week-in, week-out. In other words, Washington was "in"
all but one game they played. And now suddenly they're nine point dogs when
they've only lost by that many points ONCE all season? And they're playing their
best football of the season now? I just don't get it. I realize the bye week
is not to be underestimated, but I don't think that should account for this
big of a line. Tell me, would anyone be shocked to see Washington march in there
and win the game outright? I can't say that I would. I also don't feel comfortable
with this matchup for Seattle. The Washington run defense at least partially
slowed Shaun Alexander the last time these teams hooked up, albeit in Washington.
But I just think the Redskins will have enough offensively to if not win the
game, then to hang around in it. A loss by less than double-digits is what I'm
expecting. PICK: Redskins
CHICAGO (-3) vs. CAROLINA
So as mentioned above, even though I made the claim last week that the winner
of Panthers/Giants was going to the Super Bowl, I'd like to clarify.
I did expect the Redskins to beat Tampa and set up a matchup against Seattle.
What I failed to mention was that I liked the winner of this side of the bracket
to come out of the NFC. Meaning, had the Giants won I would take the winner
of this week's Giants/Bears game all the way to Detroit. Since Carolina won,
I'll take the winner of Panthers/Bears to represent the NFC. I just can't knock
Chicago, not after being all over them since very early on in the season. I
still don't fully trust their offense, but then again I can't say I'm completely
on board for the Panther offense either. The Bears have simply proven to be
too tough defensively for some teams. Sure, DeShaun Foster had a phenomenal
day against New York. Guess what though. New York is not Chicago. He won't find
running room against the Bears. What's more, since they can actually STOP the
run, it'll put that much more pressure on the Carolina passing game. Something
they may or may not be up to the challenge of. Which leaves us with Bears offense
versus Panther defense.
It's an interesting matchup, because both have shown signs of weakness, with
the Chicago offense looking absolutely horrid at times. And at other times,
both units have looked very solid. The Panthers obviously had their way last
week with the New York offense, but even if they are able to bottle up the Bears
I don't know that it's enough to offset Chicago's huge advantage when the defense
is on the field. I suspect it'll take a couple of fluke things - perhaps a Steve
Smith punt return, a Julius Peppers fumble recovery TD, an interception run
back, something of that nature. If the Panthers don't catch a number of breaks,
I just don't know that they have the offensive firepower to move the ball consistently
enough to outscore Chicago here. Thank you for being a part of my rambling stream
of consciousness. We hope you didn't hurt your head. PICK: Bears
INDIANAPOLIS (-9.5) vs. PITTSBURGH
Maybe it's just because I'm under 50% for the season, I don't know. But I have
a tough time understanding this line. How is it that the Seahawks are giving
the Redskins 9, but the Colts are only giving the Steelers 9.5? I know the technical
reason - the Colts are better than Seattle just as much as Pittsburgh is better
than the Redskins. But I think that line of thinking is just plain wrong. The
Redskins are, and have been, a quality team all season long. Read my Redskins'
write-up above to see what I think of them. So if the Redskins are a notch or
two below Pittsburgh but the Colts many several notches above Seattle, then
why are the spreads on the two games basically the same?
A lot of people are jumping off the Indy bandwagon because of what has happened
over the last few weeks, between a couple of losses and the death of Dungy's
son, etc. But I think that's all the more reason to like them. This team is
still intensely hungry - and oh yeah, talented as hell. And now there's the
extra motivating factor (as if they needed one) of trying to win for their coach.
What's not to love about this team right now?
I'm finding a difficult time seeing what's so different with this game as opposed
to the first time these two met, when the Colts had their way with Pittsburgh
on both sides of the ball en route to a 19-point victory. I know it was Roethlisberger's
first game back from injury that night, but it's no excuse - especially since
we've already decided that we're not using injuries as excuses, right? And now
the Colts are favored by only 9? Doesn't add up. I expect this to get ugly.
LOCK OF THE WEEK: Indianapolis Colts
- OVERALL: : 1-3
- LOCK OF WEEK: 0-1
SEASON TOTALS (Includes playoffs)
- OVERALL: 120-133-7 (47.4%)
- LOCK OF WEEK: 8-10 (44.4%)