With 6 games in 17 weeks, no matter how you look at it, this week was the official half way point of the NFL season. I don't know whether to be excited about the division races heating up and seeing who the contenders are this year or be depressed because the season is going by too fast. I do know one thing to be excited about at this point of the year, that's the fact that we won't have to go more than 2 days without NFL football for the rest of the year.
For those of you that have nothing good to say about the NFL Network, well to each their own, but I for one will send a Christmas card to anyone who makes my work week easier. After Monday Night Football, we will only have to go 2 days to watch another live NFL game...then it's just 2 more short days for more NFL games. Okay, I've made up my mind, I'm definitely more excited at this time of year.
I watch all the games on Sunday, so the personal attention that each team gets on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday night, allows me to better assess each teams value. I enjoy being able to watch these prime time matchups and put all my focus into these teams. I'm getting ahead a little of myself, let's rewind to Week 9.
Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta
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Just as we all predicted, a fight for first place. Well, maybe I didn't see this coming but who did outside of these respected cities. Atlanta gets Dunta Robinson back this week after the brutal collision he had with Desean Jackson. They need him because they have been struggling against the pass in his absence.
For the first time since early on in Cadillac Williams career, the Bucs have a formidable back. LeGarrette Blount has looked outstanding coming out of Tampa's backfield. What didn't Jeff Fisher see in him? Josh Freeman is quickly becoming Mr. Fourth Quarter. I will enjoy the Roddy White/Aqib Talib matchup in this game. If Blount can keep his power rushing attack going, then I like Freeman hooking up with Mike Williams in another thrilling, down to the wire game. Bucs Win 27-24
New Orleans vs. Carolina
The Saints will go another week without Reggie Bush and proved to me and many others last week that they were for real in 2010. I didn't see any way that they would beat Pittsburgh without Bush. They seem to be hitting their mid-season stride. They'll need to, to keep stride with the Atlanta / Tampa winner. Darren Sharper came back and so did the turnovers. Why did so many teams pass on him this offseason? Just because his age!
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I have no clue who Carolina is? They came out 2 weeks ago and looked impressive. David Gettis had a breakout game and followed it up with no catches. Jonathan Stewart looked like he should stay as the #2 back, even with Deangelo out. My point is Mike Goodson should get the start against the Saints. The Panthers have too much talent on one side and too much youth on the other; there are a million miles between the levels of these two coaches. Saints Win 33-16
New England vs. Cleveland
The Patriots keep finding ways to win games. They don't have an elite running game, so I'm still predicting a fall off in the second half of the season. I really wanted to give the Browns the upset but I feel they will fall just short. Brady's passing will be overwhelming for the talented, young secondary in Cleveland.
Peyton Hillis, Peyton Hillis, Peyton Hillis, should be their game plan. I love watching him run. I haven't seen a physical running back like this since Earl Campbell. I'm not saying that Hillis is that talented, I'm just saying he runs like he will drop his head in your chest, while you are ripping his jersey off, and he keeps going. When you finally bring him down, he hops up with a big smile because he lives for the contact. I wish they would take the reins off of Colt McCoy, just to see what he had before they went back to one of the vets. But they won't. Patriots Win 24-20
No Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee, Buster Davis, and maybe no Antonio Gates...No problem! Even with a struggling running game and a bunch of beat up wide receivers, the Chargers will do the same as the Colts did. This is a rematch of MNF, with the Chargers playing the Colts role and also having a much better defense. Patrick Crayton and Seyi Ajirotutu will have career days.
Matt Schaub has struggled mightily this season and has been caught depending on Andre Johnson. The story of this team however is the horrific defense that can't stop Mike Hart and Javarris James and the defense that makes Jacob Tamme look like Dallas Clark. Bernard Pollard and Kareem Jackson seem to be lost in pass coverage. The D line isn't able to get pressure on a handicapped turtle. Brian Cushing is playing as if he wasn't "over-trained" this season. The only bright note for the Texans is the NFL's best rusher this year, Arian Foster. Chargers Win 30-17
Arizona vs. Minnesota
Back to Derek Anderson. Anderson did play well last week and it is and odd Sunday in the month, so it should be his turn to start. Beanie Wells is getting his time to prove that he's a NFL starter and we'll see if he truly is. The Cardinals need to get Larry Fitzgerald involved early and then pound the ball on the ground before Anderson turns into a pumpkin.
The Vikings are a mess. I kept waiting on them to turn it around. Everyone knows their issues, so I'm not going beat a dead horse. They need this game or they might as well tell Brett Favre to go back to the farm with his open front Levi's (SNL skit).
If I'm wrong this week then I won't pick them again. Vikings Win 28-24
New York Giants vs. Seattle Seahawks
I've stated that the Giants are playing like the best team in the NFC, so more than likely I have jinxed them for this week. Let's just assume they play like they have been. The running game is clicking and the defense has quarterback's blowing snot bubbles ("The Program" go back and watch it- Classic).
Charlie Whitehurst will get thrown to the wolves in his first NFL start. He goes behind an injury plagued offensive line and against a stellar defensive front. Whitehurst doesn't have any true receiving threats and the running game has been mediocre. It's a good thing the Seahawks passed on Whitehurst's former teammate, CJ Spiller in this year's draft. Maybe Hasselback faked an injury to make Whitehurst look bad and save his own health in this one. Giants Win 37-13
Dallas vs. Green Bay
It's hard to figure if Dallas will come out with a chip on their shoulder or have already quit on the season and their next former coach. They have all the weapons to win this game but do they have the mentality left to put it together on the field?.
It seems as if most people are getting back on that bandwagon in Green Bay, now that they have a running game back. This team suffered so many injuries, but unlike their opponents, they didn't quit on the season and keep finding ways to win the game as opposed to finding ways to lose them. Dallas is already wondering who their next coach is. Packers Win 21-13
Chicago vs. Buffalo
Possibly the best NFL return man, Devin Hester vs. one of the best college return men, CJ Spiller. Which one will give their team the boost in field position or house one? Jay Cutler has struggled all year and they have taken away his biggest security blanket since coming to Chicago; a big receiver to bail him out of trouble that he could through boneheaded passes too and a tight end as an outlet.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been putting up great numbers but they aren't amounting into wins. He does have the team playing better, but they keep losing games in the final minutes. This is the week that they get off of the schnide. Bills Win 34-31
New York Jets vs. Detroit
Mark Sanchez vs Matt Stafford. The top 2 quarterbacks drafted in last year's draft face off against each other. The Jets will be looking for revenge, after being blanked last week by the Packers. Mark Sanchez might have shown the teams weakness last week, which is him. LT should get going early to try and ease the pressure on the young Sanchez.
The Lions are the most underestimated team in the NFL. They are capable of winning every week. I believe that the Jets will come in upset but sleeping on the Lions. Matt Stafford has some weapons around him and he knows how to get them the ball. The Lions need to use 4 top draft picks on the O-line next year and Detroit will have a team to be reckoned with.Lions Win 20-16
Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati
The Steelers have struggled in their last 2 games. They should have lost to Miami and they followed that game up by losing to New Orleans. They play a team with a much worse record this week but one that is a division rival.
The Bengals can pass on anybody with the receiving weapons they have. Don't let their record fool you. They get up for divisional games like no other team in the NFL. One of their two wins came against a much better Baltimore team. They'll be fired up for this home game and it'll show on the score board. Bengals Win 23-19
"Water Cooler" Games
Miami vs. Baltimore
The Dolphins need this win to keep pace with the Jets and Patriots. Their defense is actually playing just as good if not better than this Ravens defense that gets all the acclaim. If Chad Henne can ever get Brandon Marshall involved like he was in Denver this offense would be a hard locomotive to stop.
Does anyone know where the Ravens defense has gone? They have fallen off mightily. Ray Rice and Willis McGahee will keep the Dolphins honest and Joe Flacco needs to be able to beat the secondary when they cheat up to stop these 2 backs. Baltimore edges out the win in this one. . Ravens Win 13-12
Indianapolis vs. Philadelphia
Peyton embarrassed the Houston Texans last week with a bunch of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th teamers. It helped that he was facing the worse defense in the NFL but regardless, that was quite a feat. He'll be facing a much better defense this week. Philly also has the privilege of seeing those Colt's backups play on film.
Philly comes in healed up for this game, while Indy couldn't be more beat up. Indy is also going on short rest and having to travel to Philly. All the cards are aligned for the Eagles this week. Lesean McCoy, Desean Jackson, and Michael Vick have healed up for this matchup. Eagles Win 27-16
Game of the Week
Kansas City vs. Oakland
WOW! Surprised that I picked this as the game of the week? I had to. How long has it been, since KC vs. Oakland was a can't miss game? I'm excited about this matchup. I'll be watching every play in this one as these two teams deserve the spotlight. Neither one has a real quarterback but they keep winning.
Darren McFadden vs. Jamaal Charles, two of the most dynamic running backs in the league and two of the highest average per carry. I want to see a shootout of one-up'smanship. I want to see RUN DMC bust an 80 yard run and Jamaal Charles answer back with an 80 yarder of his own. It's possible. Don't miss this game.
Gilbert Arenas vs. Jacoby Ford. This could be the return game version of the running battle. They could be dueling back and forth for field position. There are some exciting matchups in this game.
Matt Cassel vs. Jason Campbell? Boooooo! Booooo! These two could battle with exciting interceptions. Who will throw the least picks?
Eric Berry vs. Rolando McClain! A battle of two of the top defensive players that don't play on the Defensive line. Both have seemed comfortable as rookies starting in their first season. Who'll step up and help their team more? I could see this game going either way but I'm going to have to take KC. Kansas City Wins 30-28
Enjoy this week's games because we are at the halfway point and the season is going going quick. I'll be back next Sunday morning week for Week 10 of NFL GameDay. Don't forget to check out NFL Rage mid week where I vent my frustrations at some of the dumbest calls and decisions from this week's games. NFL Gameday - It's easy like Sunday Morning! - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com.
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