Saturday, December 25, 2010

Week 16 Pigskin Predictions

Thursday Night Game
STEELERS 23, panthers 10
(written on Thursday, prior to the game)
Carolina (2-12) shows a lot of defensive pluck tonight, but Pittsburgh (10-4) is too strong for the Panthers to pull the upset. The Steelers get strong performances from running back Rashad Mendenhall and wideout Mike Wallace. The team’s third-year RB (Mendenhall) rolls up 120 rushing yards, while Wallace hauls in 5 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. One positive for Carolina is that the team’s four-time Pro Bowl receiver, Steve Smith, finally has a breakthrough game. I’m predicting for Smith to achieve his first 100-yard game of the season and score his third touchdown of the year for the Panthers’ lone TD.

RESULT: STEELERS 27, panthers 3
Ben Roethlisberger threw for a 320 yards as the Steelers crushed Carolina by 24. Mendenhall didn’t reach the 120 rushing yards I predicted, but Wallace proved me very close to dead-on in catching 4 balls for 104 yards and a TD. So much for the Carolina’s Smith. The Panthers WR caught just 3 passes for 17 yards in his team’s 13th loss of the season. A 4-time Pro Bowler, Smith is having a dismal season as the 31-year-old will enter his team’s final game next week at Atlanta with a mere 46 catches for 554 yards.

Saturday Night Game
boys 31, CARDS 17 (written Saturday morning)
The Cowboys offense stays hot tonight in the desert by celebrating Christmas with a 14-point throttling of the 4-10 Cardinals. Dallas, which comes into tonight’s game having scored 30 or more points in its last five, has a field day against Arizona’s 27th-ranked defense. Back-up QB Jon Kitna has quietly done a superb job filling in for injured starter Tony Romo. Since making his first start this season (Oct. 25), the 38-year-old has passed for 2,250 yards and 15 touchdowns with a 91.4 QB rating. Tonight, Kitna posts his fifth 300-yard passing game of the season, along with 3 TDs. Two of the three include one each for WR Miles Austin and TE Jason Witten. Dallas RBs Felix Jones and Tashard Choice also have solid performances as the Cowboys offense stomps all over Arizona’s weak D. The win improves Dallas to 6-9, while the loss drops the crumby Cards tack on its 11th loss in the team’s first Kurt Warner-less season since 2004.

Sunday Noon Games
pats 31, BILLS 20
Tom Brady and the Pats (12-2) offense extend their impressive streak of 30-plus point games to seven (all wins) as New England beats the Bills tomorrow afternoon in Buffalo. The win also clinches another division title for the Patriots - the team’s seventh in eight seasons - as well as home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs. The Bills compete hard but fall to 4-11. The frustrated franchise finishes its sixth straight losing season next week with a contest against the 10-4 New York Jets.

BEARS 20, jets 13
New York was very impressive last week in defeating the 11-4 Steelers in Pittsburgh. This week the Jets travel to Chicago’s Soldier Field tomorrow with a battle against the Bears. Last week, Chicago (10-4) was able to rebound from a 36-7 pasting at home against New England two weeks ago with a 40-14 romp over the Vikings at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. The Bears have already secured a spot in the playoffs, but a win Sunday gives them a chance to earn a first-round bye. The Jets (10-4) enter the game with its playoff aspirations still in lingo. Despite a sore shoulder, Jets QB Mark Sanchez plays through the pain in hopes of securing a playoff bid for his team. However, ferocious Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher leads the Chicago defense in stopping Sanchez and defeating the Jets. The Bears wins this game by seven.

ravens 24, BROWNS 16
Cleveland is happy to return home after losing to the 3-11 Bengals last week in Cincinnati. Behind the running back plow that is Peyton Hillis, the Browns put forth a feisty performance for their Dog Pound fans. However, Ray Rice and the Ravens show they are the better team by game’s end as Baltimore wins by eight.

CHIEFS 23, titans 17
Following its impressive 27-13 road win against St. Louis last week, Kansas City (8-6) closes in on the AFC West crown by defeating the Titans. Dwayne Bowe reverts to his mid-season dominance with a 120-yard, TD performance. The loss officially eliminates the Titans (6-8) from playoff contention.

niners 24, RAMS 20
The improved 2010 Rams extend the team’s losing streak to three and thus puts its playoff possibility in jeopardy. Fortunately for the Rams, the team remains in contention despite falling to 6-9. Running back Steven Jackson rolls up 150 combined rushing/receiving yards and a pair of scores for St. Louis. However, San Francisco’s Troy Smith passes for 250 yards and two TDs in leading his team to victory. The 49ers’ win bolsters the team’s shocking playoff hopes. After losing five straight games and six of seven to begin the season, the Niners - who with a win would be 6-9 overall and 4-1 in divisional play - could leave St. Louis in playoff position.

lions 17, FINS 13
Upset Special: Detroit, who enters tomorrow’s game as 3.5-point underdogs, wins its fifth game of the season in defeating the Dolphins in Miami. It’s a step in the right direction for a team that has won two games combined through its 2008 and 2009 seasons. To no surprise, the game’s star player is Calvin Johnson - who collects 6 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown is Johnson’s team-leading 13th of the season.

JAGS 33, skins 23
Jacksonville (8-6 overall, 3-2 AFC South) is listing its Pro Bowl running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, as doubtful with a knee injury for tomorrow’s home game versus Washington. With the playoffs on the line after the Jaguars disappointed its fans by losing a crucial game against division foe Indianapolis last week, I’d be shocked if MJD doesn’t give it a go. Not only does he play tomorrow, Jones-Drew plows through the Washington defense for 100 yards and two touchdowns as Jacksonville downs the Redskins by ten.

Sunday Late Games
chargers 27, BENGALS 13
San Diego (8-6) comes into Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium after back-to-back strong performances - in which the Chargers outscored Kansas City and San Francisco by a collective score of 65-7. The Bengals won last week, but still bear a miserable 3-11 record. Expect Chargers QB Philip Rivers to continue his MVP-caliber season, passing for 300 yards and two touchdowns in leading his team to victory. WR Vincent Jackson also has a nice game for San Diego, hauling in two of Rivers’ passes for touchdowns as the Chargers keep pace with Kansas City in a deadlock for AFC West supremacy.

texans 27, BRONCOS 17
Quarterback Matt Shaub and the high-scoring Texans follow up a rare offensive struggle - scoring 17 points at Tennessee last week - in defeating Denver 27-17. Shaub passes for 250-plus yards and RB Arian Foster earns his eighth 100-yard effort of the season. Rookie QB Tim Tebow (Denver’s 2010 first round draft pick) starts his second consecutive game and passes for 200-230 yards but throws two picks in the loss. Following the team’s 8-8 record last season, this year’s Denver club falls to 3-12 as losers of 10 of its last 11 games.

colts 24, RAIDERS 20
Indianapolis builds off its recent resurgence in eking out a hard fought win at a hostile Oakland-Alameda County Stadium. The host Raiders (7-7) compete strongly, but lose its eighth game of the season. Despite the loss, an admirable effort against the defending AFC champion Colts is an encouraging sight for Oakland - a team that hasn’t posted a .500-or-better record since 2002. Indianapolis’ top running back, Joseph Addai, returns for this game after missing seven straight to help the Colts improve to 9-6 and keep pace division foe Jacksonville in its race for the AFC North crown.

PACK 20, giants 17 in OT
Coming of its mind-boggling, inexcusable loss to Philadelphia at home, the Giants - who allowed four touchdowns in the game’s final 7:28 last week - are desperate to redeem themselves against the Packers. However, a visit to Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood isn’t exactly a welcoming sight this time of the year. New York (9-5) can guarantee a playoff appearance by defeating the 8-6 Packers tomorrow, but Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay’s Pro Bowl quarterback) has recovered from a concussion and is poised to lead his Cheeseheads to a huge home victory. On a frigid field with temperatures in the teens, two teams both on the cusp of playoff entry battle into overtime tomorrow with Rodgers’ Pack prevailing by a field goal.

BUCS 27, hawks 24 in OT
Tampa Bay lost at home to the lowly Lions last week to drop its record to 8-6. However, the Buccaneers handle the Seahawks (6-8) tomorrow to keep them in contention for a playoff spot. As one of the NFL’s biggest turnaround stories, after Tampa won just three games last season, Bucs head coach Rahim Morris successfully leads his team to its ninth win of 2010. Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman connects with his pair of rookie wideouts, Aurelious Benn and Mike Williams, for touchdowns in leading his team to victory. In the defeat, Seattle’s Mike Williams - a fourth-year WR - collects 7 receptions and a touchdown. Each team’s Mike Willams wide receivers continue their impressive seasons. Tampa’s Williams enters tomorrow’s tilt leading all NFL rookies in receptions (58), receiving yardage (880) and touchdowns (8). Seattle’s Williams - the 10th overall draft pick in the 2005 draft - has 60 catches for 720 yards this season. Williams has revived his career this season as the ex-USC standout has more than doubled his previous season-highs for each of those categories (Williams had 29 grabs for 350 yards in his rookie season with Detroit).

Sunday Night Game
EAGLES 34, vikes 16
The Vikings’ current players who were on Minnesota’s 2002 roster relive the nightmares that Michael Vick gave them on Dec. 1 of that season as the Eagles QB torments them tomorrow night in Philadelphia. In 2002, as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, Vick rushed for a career-high 173 yards - including a memorable 46-yard, game-clinching scamper - as his Falcons defeated the Vikings 30-24 in the Metrodome. This time Vick will not top that single-game, career high rushing total, but he will pass for 250-300 and 3 TDs in giving Philadelphia its 11th win of the season. For Minnesota (5-9) - who suffered an embarrassing 40-14 home loss with its injured 41-year-old quarterback (Brett Favre) at the helm - finally give Vikings rookie QB Joe Webb his first career start. The athletic, 6-foot-4, 24-year-old shows his speedy elusiveness in avoiding sacks and rushing for 50 yards. However, the task of defeating the NFC West-leading Eagles (10-4) is far too difficult to overcome as Philly wins this game by a wide margin.

Monday Night Football
saints 33, FALCONS 27
Game of the Week: An epic battle takes place this Monday as the 12-2 Falcons take on the 10-4 Saints at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome home. The battle features New Orleans’ 2009 Super Bowl MVP, Drew Brees, against 25-year-old Atlanta QB Matt Ryan. Despite losing 30-24 at Baltimore last Sunday, the Saints have won six of its last seven games with Brees passing for 2,093 yards and 27 TDs during that stretch. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s “Matty Ice” - as Ryan is known - enters tomorrow’s contest with career home record of 19-1. The Falcons defeated the Saints 27-24 in New Orleans earlier this season. On Monday, Brees makes sure his team isn’t swept by its NFC South foe as the Saints defeat Ryan’s Falcons by six.

No comments: