Saturday, December 24, 2011

NFL Week 16 Predictions

SATURDAY (Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve) (EARLY GAMES)

vikes 27, SKINS 24

With the Colts’ improbable win Thursday night, there will assuredly be some Vikings fans out there who hope Minnesota loses its last two games with hopes of drafting Andrew Luck this spring. However, the coaches and the players have too much pride to not to play hard. Adrian Peterson has a monster game and the Purple get a long overdue win today.

BILLS 23, broncos 20

Speaking of wins far past due, how about those Bills? Buffalo overcomes Tebow’s late-game magic and get its first win since Oct. 30 today.

BENGALS 20, cards 16

Former Fordham Rams quarterback John Skelton leads his Cardinals into Cincinnati today on a four-game winning streak. But the Bengals are playing for a playoff bid and TCU alum Andy Dalton is poised to defend his home turf, leading Cincy in accomplishing a crucial victory.

jags 24, TITANS 20

Maurice Jones-Drew rumbles through Tennessee’s defense today, as the Jaguars upset the Titans in Nashville.

raiders 23, CHIEFS 20 (in OT)

Last week’s impressive upset victory over the Packers have suddenly given the Chiefs hope for a playoff birth. What? Chiefs? Playoffs? Oakland quickly dashes this hope, as Michael Bush rushes for 100 yards and leads his Raiders past its division rival in K.C.

PATS 34, fins 17

Tom Brady carries his fire from last week’s win at Denver onto his home field today. New England dumps the Dolphins with ease.

giants 27, JETS 23

It’s the Battle of the Big Apple today at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the New York Giants take on the New York Jets. With both teams fighting for playoff berths, it should be a no holes barred fight to the finish. In the end, Eli Manning redeems himself for his three-pick performance last week and leads his Giants to victory.

STEEL 17, rams 6

It’s a snooze fest in Pittsburgh today, where the Charlie Batch-led Steelers take on the Kellen Clemens-led Rams. Batch against a sub-par St. Louis defense is a better matchup than Clemens against a Pittsburgh defense ranked No. 1 against the pass. The Steelers overcome Big Ben’s absence, pick up the win and improve to 11-4.

PANTHERS 30, bucs 20

What happened to the 4-2 Tampa Bay team that beat the Saints on Oct. 16? Egad! They’ve lost eight games and have become a huge disappointment. Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers have won three of its past four games and surpassed the Bucs in the standings. The NFC south foes meet today in Charlotte, where Cam Newton continues his spectacular rookie season and Carolina tops Tampa by ten.

RAVENS 23, browns 10

The Browns defense proves to be no challenge for Ray Rice. The Ravens running back racks up a combined 160 rushing/receiving yards today, as Baltimore crushes Cleveland and completes its regular season home schedule a perfect 8-0.


chargers 31, LIONS 27

The resurgent Chargers continue its strong late-season play in Detroit today. San Diego contains Calvin Johnson, defeats the Lions for its fourth straight win and keep its improbable run at the playoffs alive.

BOYS 34, eagles 30

With the return of QB Michael Vick, the Eagles have suddenly become an exciting team once again. Philadelphia has destroyed its past two opponents by a combined 71-29 score and become relevant in the playoff picture again. At 8-6, Tony Romo and the Cowboys face a lot of pressure to defeat their NFC East foe at home this afternoon. Pressure can either make a team panic or give them energy to feed off of. Today, Romo is able to use the pressure to his benefit, as Dallas defeats Vick and the Eagles in an offensive showdown at Jerry World.

HAWKS 16, niners 13

An opposing team finally scores a rushing touchdown against San Francisco, as Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch carries the pigskin past the pie line today and the Seahawks upset the Niners.

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL (Dec. 25 – Christmas Day)

PACK 34, bears 10

Green Bay is an angry team after Kansas City ruined its perfect season last week. The Packers take out this frustration against the Bears tomorrow night and deliver their rivals some Christmas coal. Aaron Rodgers returns to precision form, passing for 300-plus yards as the Pack wins big.


SAINTS 38, falcons 28

Drew Brees is on fire right now. Tomorrow night, the Saints QB torches the Falcons in a shootout and New Orleans rolls on to its seventh straight win.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NFL Week 15 Predictions


SAINTS 38, vikes 24

Drew Brees passes for 500 yards and seven touchdowns. Okay, maybe that’s a little steep. Let’s go with 400 yards and five touchdowns. The Saints punish the Purple.

BILLS 27, fins 17

Buffalo mercifully puts an end to its miserable six game skid. Ryan Fitzpatrick gets it together and hooks up with Stevie Johnson for a pair of touchdowns as the Bills top the Fins at home.

hawks 17, BEARS 10

Marshawn Lynch continues his dominant play. Lynch pounds the rock against the Bears in pacing Seattle past Chicago.

COLTS 20, titans 17 (in OT)

It’s hard to believe a team goes from 10-6 to 0-16 by losing just one player, even if that player is Peyton Manning. Somehow, someway, the Colts get it done today.

pack 27, CHIEFS 10

There will not be a 0-16 team this season, but there very likely will be a 16-0 team. The Cheese trump the Chiefs in K.C.

GIANTS 34, skins 24

Eli Manning flirts with his second consecutive 400-yard passing game today, as the Giants stomp the Redskins in New York.

TEXANS 23, panthers 17

The Texans’ defense and running game control the clock against Cam Newton and the Panthers at home today. Houston continues to overcome its key injuries and remarkably wins its eighth consecutive game.


lions 31, RAIDERS 23

Amazingly, the pass defense-challenged Vikings held Detroit WR Calvin Johnson in check last week. Not so much today. Matthew Stafford connects with his star receiver for a pair of scores as the Lions trounce the Raiders in Oakland.

pats 27, BRONCOS 17

How long can the Tebowing, Tebow Train, Tebow Time, Miracle Man, Divine Intervention – call it what you may – continue?! If Denver can neutralize New England and keep this game close, Tebow and the Broncos could very well win its seventh straight game. But that’s a pretty big if. Brady and Belichick prevail as the Pats win by ten.

EAGLES 20, jets 16

New York comes into Philadelphia today hoping to nail down a playoff spot. But Rex’s Crew doesn’t get it done. Michael Vick leads a revived Eagles attack and Philly entertains its suffering home fans with the win.

CARDS 24, browns 6

Cleveland has been stumbling and bumbling. Arizona has been very strong. Browns QB Seneca Wallace throws a pair of picks. Cardinals CB/PR rookie phenom Patrick Peterson touches pay dirt yet again. Arizona wins big.


CHARGERS 23, ravens 20 (in OT)

In an entertaining, back-and-forth, nail-biter, San Diego survives Baltimore in overtime to keep its playoff hopes afloat.


steel 17, NINERS 10

Surprise, surprise, Ben Roethlisberger plods through the pain and heroically leads his Steelers past the Niners in San Fran.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NFL Week 14 Predictions


LIONS 31, vikes 23

Megatron, a.k.a. Calvin Johnson, puts the Fox NFL robot to shame in the Motor City today. Facing a dismal Vikings pass defense, Johnson hauls in eight receptions for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Detroit extends its playoff hopes with a with at home.

BENGALS 14, texans 10

Quietly, coolly and calmly, the Texans are looking for its seventh consecutive victory. A team perennially known for its pourous defense, Houston enters its contest at Cincinnati with the league’s No. 1 defense. However, the team is unable to overcome key injuries (WR Andre Johnson and QB, Matt Schaub) today, as Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the Bengals get the win.

saints 27, TITANS 17

Domed-home New Orleans would like to prove its toughness with a road win against the surging Tennessee Titans today. It will be a tall task, especially having to contain the NFL’s hottest running back (Chris Johnson), but Drew Brees and Co. get the job done and improve to 10-3.

eagles 17, FINS 14

Michael Vick returns to the field for Philadelphia today. But will he be ready against the mystifying Miami Dolphins (a team that is 4-1 in its past five games after beginning its season 0-7)? Vick plays well, but it’s Philadelphia’s defense –

keyed by CB Nnamdi Asomugha’s coverage of Miami WR Brandon Marshall – that particularly rises to the occasion as the Eagles triumph in South Beach.

JETS 23, chiefs 6

The Chiefs pulled off a shocking road upset in Chicago last week. Can they do it again? Not quite. No Tyler Palko-Dexter McCluster miracle today. The Jets win this game handily.

pats 27, SKINS 17

Washington was embarrassed at home last week against the Jets. So the Skins are looking to rebound for its home fans … The problem is, the Patriots are the team invading the nation’s capital today. Tom Brady continues his astounding season, Rob Gronkowski runs his touchdown total to 15 and New England marches to its fifth win

in a row.

PANTHERS 27, falcons 24

Super Cam has already doubled his team’s win total from last season. Newton makes it three wins in a row for Carolina today, as the Panthers earn the upset win and put a damper on Atlanta’s playoff hopes.

JAGS 20, bucs 17 (in OT)

The Jaguars looked lost and distraught last week in interim head coach Mel Tucker’s debut. Today, however, Jacksonville takes advantage of its star running back’s matchup against the league’s 29th-ranked rush defense. Maurice Jones-Drew bowls through the Buccaneers defense and Tucker’s team emerges victorious in overtime.

RAVENS 38, colts 13

Ray Rice has a chance at history today, seeking his second straight 200-y

ard rushing day at home against the Colts. Baltimore wins big.


BRONCOS 17, bears 10

All Chris Carter does is catch touchdowns. All Tim Tebow does is wins games. Tebow’s lack of passing prowess could catch up to him next week against New England, but the Miracle Man does just enough to lead the Broncos past the wounded Bears today. Denver

wins its sixth straight.

CARDS 17, niners 14

Upset alert. Beanie Wells becomes the first opposing player earn a rushing touchdown against San Francisco this season, as the Cardinals follow its upset of the Cowboys last week with an impressive defeat of the 49ers today.

PACK 34, raiders 17

Oakland poses no match for the Pack today.

CHARGERS 38, bills 17

After a dominant win in Jacksonville last week, San Diego takes another big step towards salvaging a woeful season today. The Chargers score early and often in beating Buffalo to a pulp.


giants 23, BOYS 20

Under the radar, Giants WR Victor Cruz could earn a Pro Bowl spot the way he’s playing. The second-year receiver out of Massachusetts adds to his 62 receptions, 1,076 receiving yards and 7 TDs tonight in Dallas, as the Giants improve to 3-0 against its archrival Cowboys in Jerry World.


HAWKS 24, rams 10

Marshawn Lynch has been a wrecking ball for Seattle in recent weeks. So who’s to think the revolting Rams can stop him tomorrow night? Certainly not me. Seattle dispatches St. Louis and improves to 6-7.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

NFL Week 13 Predictions


VIKES 23, broncos 20

The Broncos have been on a roll in recent weeks – winning five of its past six games. The Vikings, meanwhile, have lost three straight and are mired in a dreadful season. The talk of the nation is Tim Tebow, but how about that Vikings quarterback? Christian Ponder looked pretty good last week in Atlanta, especially in the second half. Also, linebacker Chad Greenway played like a man possessed, amassing 16 tackles and stifling Falcons RB Michael Turner. Minnesota is without Adrian Peterson again. But with Ponder and Percy Harvin leading the offense, and Greenway and Jared Allen leading the defense, the Vikings oust Denver in dramatic fashion today.

BILLS 24, titans 20

Buffalo is starving for a victory. After coming oh so close last week at against the Jets, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the Bills to a home win over the Titans today.

BEARS 20, chiefs 13

In a battle of two inexperienced quarterbacks and two mediocre defenses, Bears RB Matt Forte plays the role of difference-maker today. Chicago defeats the Chiefs by seven.

FINS 17, raiders 13

The Raiders march into Miami looking for its fourth straight win. Behind a revived defense, the Dolphins have been a very strong football team in recent weeks. The Fins defend their home turf and defeat Oakland for its fourth victory in five weeks.

PATRIOTS 34, colts 7

Dan Orlovsky takes over the reins at quarterback for the Colts today in New England. The move makes absolutely no difference. Tom Brady, Wes Welker and company lead the Patriots in steamrolling Indianapolis.

STEEL 23, bengals 17

Andy Dalton has brought new hope to the Cincinnati Bengals this season. The team is 7-4 and on the brink of a playoff bid as it travels to Pittsburgh today. However, Big Ben and the Steelers are too tough to handle. The Steel cages up the Bengals by six.

BUCS 27, panthers 24

Quarterback Josh Freeman (injury) yields to back-up Josh Johnson today in Tampa. Johnson steps up and delivers, as he and RB LeGarrette Blount lead the Buccaneers past the Panthers.

jets 20, SKINS 17

Shutdown corner Darelle Revis rebounds from a subpar outing last week against the Bills. The Jets beat its division rival Redskins by a field goal.

falcons 23, TEXANS 17

Atlanta’s No. 2 rush defense against the Texans’ No.1 rush offense makes for an intriguing battle today in Houston. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan against third-string quarterback Tyler Yates proves to be the difference, as the Falcons top the Texans by six.


ravens 23, BROWNS 6

The host Browns are no match for the Ravens today in Cleveland. Baltimore wins big.

pack 34, GIANTS 31

In an awesome shootout at New York this afternoon, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers prevail over Eli Manning’s Giants to go to 12-0.

boys 31, CARDS 17

The Cowboys are all over the Cardinals in the desert today. Tony Romo passes for 300-plus yards, as Dallas wins its fifth straight game.

niners 27, RAMS 10

San Francisco has been licking its chops to get on the field again after the team's Thanksgiving night loss at Baltimore. The Niners crush St. Louis at home today.


SAINTS 38, lions 24

New Orleans’ trouncing of the Giants on Monday night served as a preview for its contest against Detroit tonight. Drew Brees and the Saints clobber the Lions at the Superdome.


chargers 21, JAGUARS 14

Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates put an end to San Diego’s six game losing streak tomorrow night. The Chargers overcome a strong effort from Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew to defeat the Jags by a touchdown.


PREDICTION: eagles 21, HAWKS 17

It's the Battle of the Birds tonight in Seattle, as the Philadelphia Eagles fly cross-country to

face the Seahawks. Both teams are 4-7 and fighting for any shred off playoff hope they can possible grasp onto. Touted as Super Bowl contenders in the preseason, Philadalephia has been a colossal disappointment this season. The Eagles began its year 3-6, then lost its No. 1 quarterback, then lost its No. 1 receiver and last week found itself being booed heavily by its home fans in a 38-20 loss to New England. Seattle, meanwhile, has looked awful at times this season (i.e. 24-0 loss at Pittsburgh, 34-12 home loss to Cincinnati) but has pulled off some quality wins as well (Week 5 at New York Giants, Week 10 vs. Baltimore) ... It may be a lot of travel on a short week, but heading on

the road is the right remedy for Philadelphia right now. The Eagles top the Seahawks by four.

RESULT: HAWKS 31, eagles 14

Philly's pathetic season continues. The Seahawks lambasted the Eagles 31-14 on Seattle's CenturyLink Field last night. The tone of the game was set on Seattle's first drive, when Marshawn Lynch peddled through a plethora of Eagles defenders before breaking through for a 15-yard touchdown. Lynch added another touchdown a few minutes later and the route was on. Missed tackles on defense, four Vince Young interceptions and a shameful performance from should-be star wide receiver DeSean Jackson spelled doom for Philadelphia. Young's counterpart, Tavaris Jackson, was 13-for-16 for 190 yards and a touchdown. Lynch totaled 148 rushing yards.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Caledonia stomps Moose Lake, crowned Class 2A champions yet again

Nearly out of breath, Caledonia running back Connor McCormick savored the moment and dished out the praise after his team’s Class 2A championship victory Friday night at the Metrodome.

“It was like I was dreaming,” McCormick said, referring to his team’s key fourth quarter drive. “I see Teddy [Barthel, Caledonia’s hefty lineman] downfield and think, 'geez he’s fast.' It’s because of that heart and how they were able to keep going that I could keep going.”

The drive resulted in McCormick bursting his way to a 12-yard touchdown run to put fifth-ranked Caledonia up 20-0. The team tacked on seven more en route to an impressive 27-0 blanking of the mighty Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels.

It was the Warriors’ fourth state title in five years.

“It’s about gap control defense and 11 kids out there believing they can stop anything,” head coach Brent Schroeder said.

Schroeder could not say enough of his defense. The No. 2-ranked Rebels entered the game scoring a Class 2A-best 51.7 points per game. ML/WR features a fierce rushing attack, led by junior running back Jake Disterhaupt.

Disterhaupt rushed 2,242 yards this season, including 244 in his team’s state semifinal win last week. Yesterday, Caledonia defenders stifled Disterhaupt, bottling him up for 49 yards on 15 carries.

“It’s the best offense I’ve seen,” Schroeder said about Moose Lake. “They’ve been killing everybody, I haven’t slept for a week and a half.”

Led by senior linemen Travis Frank and Ted Barthel, the Warriors were up to the task. Beside Disterhaupt, ML/WR has two other 1,000-yard rushers – Josh Cisar and Chris Gassert. But none of the Rebels runners had much success Friday.

Instead, it was McCormick and Caledonia quarterback Kennan Bruening who dominated the ground game today.

The first half began rather slowly on both sides. Until, that is, Bruening fumbled on his own 37-yard line – one of three fumbles on the day for him. This set up ML/WR with an excellent opportunity to strike first.

But the Warriors defense stood strong as, with the Rebels facing third-and-six at the Caledonia 14, linebacker Austin Goergen stuffed Disterhaupt and teammate Alex Betz followed with a stop of Gassert on fourth down.

On the ensuing possession, Bruening redeemed himself – leading his team on a nine-play, 87-yard touchdown drive.

“We have some stud seniors on the right side, and our stud fullback and running back just went through the holes and I’d follow them,” said Bruening, who carried the ball six times for 65 yards on the drive.

Bruening then capitalized on his running prowess by lofting a 10-yard strike to WR Adam Drenckhahn, who easily beat his defender for the game’s first score.

The drive consumed 4:21 of game clock and finished one minute into the second quarter. From there, the Caledonia defense was at it again.

Disterhaupt rushed for nine yards on first down. But the Warriors stuffed ML/WR for no-gains on consecutive plays and followed the three-and-out with a blocked punt.

Senior Houston Halverson rejected the Rebels boot and Caledonia recovered on their opponents’ 13-yard line. However, the scoring opportunity went for naught, as a Goergen 30-yard field goal attempt went wide left.

Caledonia would tally another score five minutes later, when Drenckhahn made the offensive play of the game.

Bruening looked downfield to his left and lofted a pass for his senior receiver. The pass may have been a tad long, but Drenckhahn was able to extend his hands, tip the ball up and haul in the reception before tumbling toward the goal line.

McCormick followed with a one-yard plunge to make it 13-0 at halftime.

The second half featured more Caledonia defense. All game long the Warriors harassed ML/WR quarterback Tony Adamczak and his stable of running backs.

Adamczack completed just one pass, finishing 1-for-5 with two interceptions – he entered the game with only three interceptions all season.

On offense, it was a whole lot of McCormick, rushing behind his dominating offensive line that eventually wore out the Moose Lake defense.

“It’s our O Line getting a drive every single play,” McCormick said. “They don’t get tired, they keep

pushing and so do our fullbacks.”

Before long, Caledonia found itself crowned 2011 state champs.

After a raucous celebration with the team trophy, Schroeder spoke of what this year’s title meant to him and his team.

“Awesome,” he said. “It’s just a tribute to our kids, our coaches, how they work in the offseason, in the weight room and what a great community that we have behind us. I just want to thank everybody for all of that.”

** This game, the 2011 Class 2A Prep Bowl, occurred Friday, Nov. 26. I wrote this story for the Rochester Post-Bulletin. The photos used in this blog posting are AP photos provided by the Post-Bulletin. Descriptions of the photos, from top-to-bottom, are as follows: Caledonia RB Matt Peterson (30) leads his team in a post-game celebration. Caledonia QB Kennan Bruening carries the ball by a pair of Moose Lake-Willow River defenders on a first half run. Caledonia RB Connor McCormick rushes past a ML-WR defender en route to one of this three touchdowns in the game.