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NFL Week 7 Preview

This week features 6 teams on a bye (Detroit, Denver, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Seattle, and Tennessee), but that doesn’t mean this will be a stale week.

We have a marquee matchup in the Steelers vs. Vikings, featuring the defending champs vs. the undefeated Vikings led by Brett Favre. We also have the Falcons vs. Cowboys, Bengals vs. bears, and the Giants vs. Cardinals.

Here’s everything you need to know heading into Week 7:

Roethlisberger leads a red hot Steeler's air attack against a depleated Vikings secondary.

Roethlisberger leads a red hot Steeler's air attack against a depleted Vikings secondary.

Game of the Week: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Minnesota Vikings

The game of the week pits the undefeated Vikings against the defending Super Bowl Champs.

The Steelers have ripped off three straight wins after starting out 1-2.  They finally have  found balance of offense with the backfield duo of d Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker to compliment the very strong passing game.

The Vikings 6-0, but have had more than their fair share of good fortune.  They narrowly survived a late comeback by the Ravens last week escaping on a missed field goal.

Key Matchup: Ben Roethlisberger vs. Minnesota Secondary

The Steelers have not been afraid to air to air it out this season and Ben Roethlisberger is responding leading the NFL in passing yards with 1,887.  Hines Ward may be 34, but he’s playing like he’s 24 and Santonio Holmes is building of his Super Bowl heroics and rookie Mike Wallace has contributed as well.

The Vikings pass defense ranks in the bottom third of the league and were abused by Joe Flacco last week.  To make matter worse they will be without All Pro corner Antonie Winfield, due to injury.  The Vikings will replace home with journeyman, Karl Paymah, and a few youngsters.

Prediction:

The Vikings are due for a letdown and playing in Pittsburgh in never easy.  I expect Ben Roethlisberger to torch the Vikings secondary as the Steelers hand the Vikes their first loss.

Steelers 27 Vikings 20

Top 5 Things to Watch

1. Can Sanchez Rebound?

After his five interception performance last week what will Sanchez do for an encore?  The Jets desperately need a win to save their season.  They can’t afford to lose their fourth in a row and fall another game behind the Pats.

Sanchez did man up and take the blame for the loss last week but it’s time to put up.  Rex Ryan admitted he considered benching Sanchez late in the Bill’s game.  If he puts up another dud this week that could become a reality.

2. Can the Saints stop the Wildcat?

The Saints may be undefeated but that doesn’t mean they can take the Dolphins easy.  The Dolphins have rattled off two straight wins behind the play of young quarterback chad Henne.

The Dolphin’s Wildcat offense has continued to puzzle opponents this season including the Jets and the Colts.  With a bye week to work on new wrinkles in the Wildcat the Saints could be in trouble.

3. Will the Real Dallas Cowboys Please Stand Up

The Dallas Cowboys continue to be one of greatest enigmas of the NFL.  They have as much talent as any team but continue to under produce year after year.

This year is no different.  The Cowboys may be 3-2 but their record doesn’t say everything as they needed overtime to beat the Chiefs two weeks ago.  This week, against the 4-1 Falcons, can dictate the direction the season swings.

Continue reading

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How the Jets can Survive without Kris Jenkins

The New York Jets were the talk of the town after the first three weeks of the season.  Everyone was on the Mark Sanchez bandwagon proclaiming him the “Sanchize” and praising his “poise.”

Now, just three weeks later it has been a complete 180 for Sanchez and Jets.  They have dropped three straight, two to divisional opponents.  Last week in the midst of Sanchez’s 5 interception thriller, Rex Ryan actually considered benching the rookie.  Earlier this week Ryan had to come out and declare he was sticking with Sanchez as the starter.

The Jets will miss Kris Jenkins clogging the middle.

The Jets will miss Kris Jenkins clogging the middle.

Sanchez’s struggles aren’t even the Jets biggest problem right now though.  In the loss to Buffalo this past week the Jets lost All Pro NT Kris Jenkins for the season due to a torn ACL.

After all that they’ve gone through the past few weeks, from the MNF loss to the rival Dolphins to the embarrassing defeat to the Bills, this is the a nightmare scenario for the Jets.

No one man can replace Jenkins.  He is irreplaceable, one of the few players in the league.

Everyone knows that the most important position in the 3-4 defense is the nose tackle.  The first two seasons the Jets ran the 3-4, their run defense was putrid largely because they had Dwayne Robertson playing the nose.  Then before last season they acquired Kris Jenkins from the Panthers he and immediately improved the run defense.  He occupied two blockers almost every play, and when he wasn’t clogging the middle he was in the backfield making plays.  For the first half of the 2008 season Jenkins was a legitimate MVP candidate.

The loss of a nose tackle can be crippling to a team.  Look no farther than the San Diego Chargers this year.  They lost Pro Bowl nose tackle Jamal Williams after the first game of the season and they haven’t been the same since.  The past five seasons they have been ranked in the top half of rush defense every season and haven been in the top 10 three times.  This year, without Williams, they rank 27th in the league.

For the Jets to avoid a Chargers-esq collapse it’s going to take a team effort by the Jets to replace Jenkins.    The guy that will need to step up the most though, is Sione Pouha.  Pouha will step into Jenkins nose tackle position and while he doesn’t have the same play-making ability Jenkins brought, he certainly does have the frame to succeed.  If Pouha can use his 325 pounds to hold up the point of attack that’s one less thing to Jets need to worry about.

Without Jenkins in the middle it makes the job of middle linebackers, David Harris and Bart Scott, a lot tougher.  They will no longer to be able to roam free and make plays.  Teams will start to send guards up to block them and they need to be able to shed those blocks and make plays.  This was a problem for former Jets linebacker, Jonathan Vilma, who struggled in the 3-4 without a true nose tackle in front of him and was ultimately shipped out-of-town. Continue reading

5 Players that Should have been Traded

The NFL trade deadline passed rather quietly on Tuesday with only one deal, the Rams traded Will Witherspoon to the Eagles.  While Witherspoon should be an impact player on the Eagles, taking over at middle linebacker, it wasn’t the big name deal we all were hoping for.

With that being said, here are five players that should have been dealt before the deadline.

1. Browns trade Brady Quinn

Quinn can’t be blamed for the Brown’s struggles but he was the scapegoat.  He has still has plenty of talent and if surrounded by a better supporting cast he could show that.   The 2007 first round pick has never gotten a fair shot in Cleveland but Eric Mangini has chosen Derek Anderson as his man ending the Quinn era in Cleveland.

The Browns should try and ask around to see what they could get for him.  A team like the Redskins, whose offense better suits Quinn, could be interested.  Perhaps the Panthers, who have no one behind Jake Delhomme, would make a play for Quinn.

Merriman has worn out his welcome in San Diego.

Merriman has worn out his welcome in San Diego.

2. Chargers trade Shawne Merriman

Merriman is in the last year of his deal and it appears the Chargers have no intention of keeping him behind this year.  His play has leveled off this year but the talent is still there.  A change of scenery could work wonders from him.

The 49ers look like a good fit.  They are a playoff contender but could use another piece to solidify their spot.  Mike Singletary would whip him into shape and motivate him and get him back to his form from a few years ago.

3. Eagles trade Michael Vick

It’s only been four games but I think we can say the Michael Vick experiment has been a failure.  They brought him in to run the Wildcat but the problem is that he’s not even the best Wildcat quarterback on the team.  DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook, and LeSean McCoy are all better than Vick at running the Wildcat.  At this point he’s only a possible distraction to a team that can contend for a Super Bowl.  The Eagles have a big option for Vick in the off season which they won’t pick up so it’d be smart to get something for him now while they can.

There is only one team that makes sense for Vick: the Raiders.  Al Davis would welcome Vick with open arms to the team.  JaMarcus Russell has been beyond terrible and he can come in be the starter before the end of the season.

4. Chiefs trade Dwayne Bowe

Bowe is the Chiefs only weapon on offense but the Chiefs has shown they’re willing to deal anyone.  Couple that with the fact that Bowe was in Todd Haley’s doghouse before the season and a deal could go down.

The Ravens seem like an ideal target.  Flacco is developing into an elite quarterback but needs a go to receiver, which Bowe could provide.  The Bears could also be a fit.  Bowe would team great with and the Bears have shown they’re not afraid to trade future picks.

5. Bills trade Marshawn Lynch

The first three weeks of the season while Lynch was suspended Fred Jackson did a fantastic job of filling in totaling 425 yards.  Then when Lynch came back they decided to give him the majority of the carries.  Perhaps one of the reasons the Bills are 1-4 and Dick Jauron is on the verge of being fired.

The Bills would be fine with Jackson as their lead back and could get nice value for Lynch.  I could see the Seahawks being a very nice match for Lynch.  They could use a back, as Julius Jones isn’t anything to write home about.  Lynch could be the piece that puts the Seahawks ahead of the 49ers and Cardinals in the NFC West.

NFL Week 6 Monday Morning Quarterback

A wild week 6 in the NFL.  We had two big upsets, Raiders and Bills, and one huge shellacking by the Pats.  Now let’s get to my thoughts on the week in football.

A Giant Surprise

Another win for Brees and the Saints has them atop the NFC.

Another win for Brees and the Saints has them atop the NFC.

What was supposed to be the game of the week, and even the year, turned out to be a complete dud.  The Saints dominated the game in every facet and made the Giants look pedestrian.  The Giants couldn’t get any pressure on Brees and he made them pay carving them for 369 yards.  It’s clear now the Saints are the class of the NFC but the jury is still out on the Giants.

Vikings Living Large

A wild game in Minnesota that came down to the final seconds.  The Vikings looked like they had the game all but won but the Ravens came storming back in the fourth led by Ray Rice, who has been terrific this season.  The loss is the third straight for the Ravens who are now 3-3 after starting 3-0 but the good news is they have a bye this week to recoup.  The defense is not the same this year and looks old and misses Rex Ryan.  The Vikings while 6-0, have started to make a habit of blowing leads and it hasn’t backfired yet but if they keep it up it will catch up to them.

Tom Terrific

The breakout game everyone was waiting for from Tom Brady finally came Sunday.  Brady tore up the Titans, throwing 380 yards and 6 touchdowns in just over a half of play, in the 59-0 blowout.  I wouldn’t expect Brady to revert to his 2007 form though.  The Titans were without their top 3 cornerbacks and were starting young, inexperienced players.

The Titans were flat out embarrassed though.  They have clearly given up on the season and have quit on Jeff Fisher.  They have a number of flaws and several of the defensive stars, Keith Bullock, Jevon Kearse, and Kyle Vanden Bosch, are fading fast.  It’s been the same story for weeks in a row for the Titans.

Bengals Tamed

The Bengals came crashing back to earth and there were no fourth quarter heroics this week for the Bengals.  They were beaten bad in the trenches all day long.  To make matters worse they lost defensive end Antwan Odom, who had 8 sacks, for the season.  I’m also concerned about the offense.  Carson Palmer has gotten a free pass this season because of the comebacks but after looking at his stats he has only one more touchdown than interception and has a completion percentage under 60 percent.

Zorn Stripped

The Redskins were again embarrassed on Sunday and have now given the Lions, Panthers, and Chiefs their first wins of the season.  Zorn decided to bench Campbell in favor of 37 year old Todd Collins at halftime who was even worse than Campbell.

After the loss Zorn was forced to give up play calling duties in order to save his job for a few more weeks.  Newly hired offensive assistant Sherman Lewis, who has been out of the league since 2004, will take over play calling.  Zorn has been over his head since he took over the job, having never even been a coordinator in the league, and the Redskins should have realized that when they hired him.

Sanchize?  Can we take that back?

Oh what a difference a few weeks makes.  It only seemed like yesterday Sanchez was the toast of New York and now he’s the punching bag.  That’s what you get playing in New York; it’s a double-edged sword.  He was downright awful against the Bills but thankfully he gets the Raiders next week to rebound but that’s what he said a week ago about-facing the Bills.

Even more bad news for the Jets could come soon.  Pro Bowl nose tackle and heart of the defense, Kris Jenkins, left the game yesterday and Rex Ryan classified his injury as “probably severe.”  No Jenkins in the middle creates a huge gap in the middle of the Jets defense.

Game Balls

Jermon Bushrod

This could go to the entire Saints offensive line but especially Bushrod did a fantastic job keeping Osi Umenyiora in check, keeping Brees off his back and allowing him all day to throw in the pocket.

Sidney Rice

Rice caught 6 passes for a career high 176 yards in the win over Baltimore.  His biggest play was his 58-yard bomb form Brett Favre with the Vikings trailing late in the fourth which led to the game winning score.

Lame Ducks

Mark Sanchez

The rookie turned in a performance that was bad even by JaMarcus Russell and Derek Anderson standards.  His five interceptions crippled the Jets and leaves this team at a crossroads after such a promising start. Continue reading

NFL Week 6 Preview

This has been one wild season so far that has seen the Broncos still undefeated at 5-0, the Bengals leading the AFC North, and the Titans falling flat on their face at 0-5.

We have some great games this week including Giants vs. Saints, Ravens vs. Vikings, and the Bears vs. Falcons.

Here’s everything you need to know heading into Week 6:

The Giants need to pressure Brees to get him out of sync.

The Giants need to pressure Brees to get him out of sync.

Game of the Week #1: New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints

This battle pits two titans of the NFC against each other for early season NFC supremacy.  Both teams enter the game undefeated; the Giants at 5-0 and the Saints at 4-0, and one will leave with its first defeat.

The Giants have had a cupcake schedule so far and the last three weeks have played the Bucs, Chiefs, and Raiders, who have a combined 1-14 record.   The Saints enter this game fresh off a bye giving them two weeks to prepare for the Giants.

Key Matchup: Giants DE Osi Umenyiora vs. Saints LT Jermon Bushrod

The only way to contain Drew Brees is to apply pressure, which the Jets did with great success two weeks ago against the Saints.  Bushrod is filling in for normal starter Jamaal Brown and doesn’t have an easy job in containg Umenyiora.  Osi has three sacks this season and could be adding a few more to that total after this week.

Prediction:

The Saints have been living off turnovers this year but Eli Manning and the Giants don’t make stupid mistakes.  The Giants will get enough pressure on Brees to slow down the pass game and force Brees out of his comfort zone.

This game comes down to the wire but I see the Giants edging out the Saints in a close one.

Giants 24 Saints 20

Ray Lewis and teh Ravens D need to come to play on Sunday.

Ray Lewis and teh Ravens D need to come to play on Sunday.

Game of the Week #2: Baltimore Ravens vs. Minnesota Vikings

This is a huge game for the Ravens who are trying to avoid going 3-3 after starting the season 3-0.

The Vikings are riding high sitting at 5-0 but may not be as good as their record indicates.  They beat up on the Browns, Lions, and Rams, and needed a last second miracle to beat the 49ers.  They were also outplayed in the first half against both the Lions and Rams.

Key Matchup: Adrian Peterson vs. Baltimore Run D

The Ravens defense has not been the same this season.  They allowed their first 100 yard rusher in their last 39 games last week to Cedric Benson and now get A.D.  If A.D. gets going then it could be a long day for the Ravens, who pass d is in the bottom 10 of the league.

Prediction:

The stats point to the Vikings but I like the Ravens in this matchup.  Ray Lewis and Ed Reed know the importance of this game and won’t let this team lose.

I also expect the Ravens to get back to running the football, their bread and butter, against the Vikings mediocre run defense.

Ravens 27 Vikings 23

Here are my 5 things to watch in Week 6:

1. Does Brady Break Out?

Through the first five weeks of the season Tom Brady has not been the same Tom Brady were used to.   He’s been good but he hasn’t had a huge game yet.  That may come this Sunday against the Titans.

The Titans will be without their two starting corners, Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper.  Couple that with the Titans 31st ranked pass defense and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brady throw for 4 touchdowns, possibly more.

2. Hot Seat in Washington and Buffalo

Both Jim Zorn and Dick Jauron could be out of jobs this time next week.  Zorn is as good as gone if the Redskins lose to the Chiefs this weekend and another embarrassing loss could be it for Jauron as well.

Everyone is calling for these guy’s heads.  Hall of fame John Riggins ragged on Zorn in this online video and Bills fans are calling for Jauron’s head, evidenced by the billboard put up in Buffalo.

3. Must Win for the Chargers

It’s only week 6 but it’s already must win territory for the Chargers.  After yet another slow start the Chargers find themselves 2 ½ games behind the Broncos heading into their Monday Night showdown.  A loss puts the Chargers below .500 and all but out of the AFC West race.

They have had a bye week to prepare for the Broncos and the Broncos are coming off an emotional high so the Chargers should take this game.  L.T. has been huge historically against the Broncos and at this point any contribution from him would be a bonus. Continue reading

NFL Quick Hits: 10/15

Week 6 is almost here and to get you through these last few days here are some of the top reads from around the web:

  • With the trade deadline approaching who should be traded? (Sporting News)
  • Who are Tom Cable’s next punching bags? (Guyism)
  • Jimmy Football Reviews Week 5. (KSK)
  • Playoffs!  You talking about playoffs?  Your Week 5 Playoff Picture.  (Shutdown Corner)
  • This years greatest plays on Techmo Bowl. (Yep Yep)

NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

We head into week 6 now and were really starting to see  separation between teams.  Has there ever been so many bad teams as there are now?

The big mover this week is the Cincinnati Bengals who climbed into the top ten coming in at 9, up 6 spots from last week.

The big loser this week is the Buffalo Bills who after losing at home to the lowly Browns, drop 6 spots all the way down to 29.

1. New York Giants (5-0) —

The G-Men showed no signs of slowing team steamrolling the Raiders.

2. New Orleans Saints (4-0) —

Off this past week.  A big showdown at home against the Giants this week.

3. Indianapolis Colts (5-0) —

Peyton is on fire and the defense gets Bob Sanders back after the bye.

4. Minnesota Vikings (5-0) —

So far so good for the Brett Favre experiment.

5. Denver Broncos (5-0) +5

Josh McDaniels has the Broncos riding high now fresh off a big win over the Belichick and the Pats.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) +2

McNabb looked great in his return and they found another weapon in Jeremy Maclin.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) +2

The Steelers are back on track after two straight victories.

8. Atlanta Falcons (3-1) +5

Got Michael Turner and Roddy White rolling in their dismantling of the 49ers.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (4-1) +6

I’m still not completely sold on the Bengals but u can’t argue with wins over Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

10.Baltimore Ravens (3-2) -5

The Ravens has dropped two straight close games albeit with questionable officiating in both.

11. New York Jets (3-2) -5

The Jets were overwhelmed by the Wildcat but Braylon Edwards looked like the real deal.

13. New England Patriots (3-2) -5

Belichick loses to his pupil.  I think it’s safe to say these aren’t the Pats of years past.

13. Chicago Bears (3-1) -1

Had the week off to prepare for a big showdown against the Falcons on Sunday night.

14. San Diego Chargers (2-2) —

Were on the bye and have an enormous game on MNF against the Broncos for control of the division.

15. San Francisco 49ers (3-2) -4

A week after blowing out the Rams the 49ers get smacked by the Falcons.

16. Green Bay Packers (2-2) —

Hopefully they used the bye week to fix their o-line issues.

17. Dallas Cowboys (3-2) —

Didn’t deserve to beat the Chiefs but escaped with win thanks to tremendous play of Miles Austin.

18. Miami Dolphins (2-3) +3

A big win to get the Dolphins back in the thick of things in the AFC East.  Chad Henne looked like the real deal on MNF.

19. Seattle Seahawks (2-3) +3

The Seahawks are a different team with Matt Hasselbeck at the helm.

20. Arizona Cardinals (2-2) —

Huge goal line stand to beat the Texans.  Finally got Larry Fitz involved more.

21. Houston Texans (2-3) -2

A furious comeback comes up short against the Cardinals.  It’s time to replace Chris Brown as the goal line back.

22. Carolina Panthers (1-3) +3

Salvaged their season, coming back from a 17-2 defecit.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) -5

It must have been a long plane ride home from Seattle for the Jags.

24. Washington Redksins (2-3) —

Counting down the games until Jim Zorn gets the axe.

25. Detroit Lions (1-4) +2

Gave Pittsburgh a tough battle and were in Steeler territory driving to tie in the final minutes.

26. Tennessee Titans (0-5) —

It’s Vince Young time.  What is Jeff Fisher waiting for?

27. Kansas City Chiefs (0-5) +2

Gave the Cowboys everything they had and should have won that game.

28. Cleveland Browns (1-4) +3

It was an ugly win but it was a win.

29. Buffalo Bills (1-4) -6

This team looks nothing like the team that nearly beat the Patriots in week one.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) —

Another tough loss for this young Buccaneers team.

31. Oakland Raiders (1-4) -3

The Raiders don’t even look like an NFL team out there.

32. St. Louis Rams (0-5) —

Actually outplayed the Vikings in the first half but turnovers killed them.