Well last week produced a solid 10-5 mark, putting the season total at 75-68-2. This week does not have very many compelling games, and it shows with the spreads. Eight of the 16 games have spreads of 9 or greater and only three games have a spread of 3 or less. One of the more intriguing matchups took place on Thursday night, and it involved two 4-5 teams. It also marked Ricky Williams return to a feature back role after Ronnie Brown was put on injured reserve. Ricky entered the league in 1999, when the Saints traded all of their draft picks to the Redskins in order to secure Williams with the pick. So in honor of Ricky Williams still going strong, the games are broken down by the 1999 drafted quarterbacks. Similar to this week’s games, there is really only one hit, a couple of flashes, and some ultimate busts. And I’m not wasting my time mentioning the guys picked after the second round (with one exception) because it’s worthless to bring up Brock Huard, Joe Jermaine, Kevin Daft, Michael Bishop, Chris Greisen and Scott Covington.
EDITORS NOTE: I started this on Thursday night before Ricky Williams powered the Dolphins past the Panthers with his 3 TD performance. And I still picked the Panthers to win, which was stupid. And why the random picture of Rebecca Gayheart? She was Maxim’s Hottest Woman in 1999……which just seems strange.
All the standard disclaimers……..recreational use, home teams in CAPS, spreads from the Post, etc.
The Akili Smith Category
The third overall pick in the draft, out of Oregon, Cincinnati thought they had finally found their franchise quarterback to replace Boomer Esiason and erase the memory of David Klinger in 1992. Unfortunately, Smith was horribly unprepared for the pro game, and basically had the intelligence of Carrie Prejean. Smith went 3-14 as a starter, had a QB rating of under 53 and threw 5 TDs versus 13 interceptions in his career. He was out of the league in 4 years. He actually shares quite a bit in common with the recently benched JaMarcus Russell, a sizeable, gifted athlete without the intellect or desire to be a pro quarterback.
LIONS (-3.5) over Browns (Craptastic Game of the Season)
Ladies and gentleman, the “Battle for the 1st Pick in the 2010 Draft” Bowl!! This is an absolutely awful game. Lions already blew one game against pathetic competition (the Rams), but should be able to hold off the offensively-challenged Browns. Cleveland has been shut out twice this year already, and may need to resort the Redskin method of using their punter or kicker as an offensive weapon.
The Cade McNown Category
The 12th pick in the draft by the Chicago Bears, McNown was just another in the long line of poor Chicago quarterbacks…..which has continued today with the acquisition of Jay Cutler. McNown had an illustrious college career at UCLA that included a loss to Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and punishment for using a handicap placard to get better parking around campus. He was 3-12 as a starter in Chicago, throwing 16 TDs and 19 interceptions.
VIKINGS (-10.5) over Seahawks
The Vikings have not been as dominant lately, but their offensive weapons will be more than the Seahawks can handle, especially in the Metrodome. Jared Allen and the Williams Wall should have a game almost as easy as when they played Green Bay against the depleted Seahawks offensive line.
Bengals (-9.5) over RAIDERS
This is a dangerous game with major let-down potential after the Bengals just handled their tough divisional test by beating the Ravens and Steelers. And after benching their pathetic quarterback in JaMarcus Russell, the Raiders will potentially be ready to rally behind Bruce Gradkowski. However, whether the throws are on target or not, Darius Heyward-Bey has shown he couldn’t catch a cold. But at least he is fast.
The Tim Couch Category
Couch was the first pick in the draft, and the first pick for the reinvented Cleveland Browns after the original Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens. The Browns were seriously lacking in talent around Couch, so the University of Kentucky product was fighting with one hand tied behind his back. He managed to win 22 games as a starter, but he lost 37, and had a 64-67 touchdown-interception total in his career. His only real highlight was his relationship with 1999 Playboy Playmate of the Year Heather Kozar – although rumor has it she left him for another 1999 quarterback, the previously mentioned Cade McNown. More large spread games that are not all that appealing in this category.
JAGUARS (-9) over Bills
The Bills have dumped their coach and switched back to ivy-leaguer Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Unfortunately for the Bills, the players actually liked Dick Jauron, and those players still include an over-the-hill Terrell Owens, a terrible offensive line, a terrible defensive line, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. That is not an equation capable of slowing down Maurice Jones-Drew and the surging Jags.
Steelers (-10) over CHIEFS
Ticked off Big Ben and the Steelers defense will take it out on the undermanned Chiefs. The Chiefs and Jamaal Charles will find it more difficult to gain yardage against Pittsburgh than they did in their win over the Raiders last week. Look for Big Ben to treat the KC secondary like an employee at Harrah’s – lots of scoring – and this may be just as consensual.
The Aaron Brooks Category
Brooks is the only quarterback drafted outside the first or second round that had an impact in the league, being drafted by the Packers in the fourth round. He had 6 very uneven years in New Orleans before 1 disastrous season in Oakland. He was 38-52 as a starter and had 123 passing TDs and 13 rushing TDs in his career compared to 92 interceptions and an unbelievable 64 fumbles. More games that have a large spread and look likely to produce a couple of big plays, but also a couple of plays that make you want to cover your eyes – which is the way Saints fans felt every time Brooks dropped back to pass.
COWBOYS (-11) over Redskins
This is a lot of points to lay in a divisional game from a team that only scored 7 points last week to a team that won last week. However, the Redskins offense is awful, using trick plays to score most of the year. The Cowboys defense actually played well against Green Bay, holding them to 3 points in the first half, and one TD after Clay Matthews recovered a fumble inside the 10 yard line. Romo is reminded that the best time for a trip to an exotic island is after your team wins the championship – a lesson Derek Jeter demonstrated with Minka Kelly in St. Bart’s this week.
Cardinals (-9) over RAMS
Rams were surprisingly feisty last week against the potent Saints attack, but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to do it two weeks in a row. Steven Jackson has had an amazingly strong season playing for a 1 win team, proving that when healthy, he is as good as any back in the league. However, the Cardinals aerial assault is cruising and it continues again this week.
The Shaun King Category
King was a second round pick by Tampa Bay, and had a surprisingly successful, if short, career. He was 14-10 as a starter, one of only two quarterbacks from the class with a winning record, including a 10-6 season in his second year, 2000. He’s currently a college football analyst on ESPN – what a surprise that a former football player was immediately given a seat at the big four-letter. We’re finally getting to some games that might be more competitive and could impact the playoff picture.
PACKERS (-6.5) over 49ers
The Niners had no business beating the Bears last week, only scoring 10 points even with the aid of 5 Cutler interceptions. The Packers defense put a hurting on the Cowboys, and should have a field day riddling Alex Smith. In the battle of first round quarterbacks from 2005, Rodgers proves that he shouldn’t have slid all the way to Green Bay at #24. Singletary gets closer to having a Mr. Furious-like breakdown on his team.
Titans (+4.5) over TEXANS
It’s tough to go against the Texans coming off a bye at home on a Monday night. But the Texans defense cannot slow Chris Johnson, which allows the Titans to play keep away from Matt Schaub and the high-powered Houston offense. And although it doesn’t make any sense because he’s not actually doing that much, Vince Young somehow wins games – he’s 20-11 as a starter.
The Daunte Culpepper Category
Culpepper was among the better statistical quarterback’s in the league for a stretch from 2000-2004. In 2004, he threw for over 4700 yards and 39 interceptions, for a QB rating of over 110. Yet despite the gaudy numbers, he only produced one season where he was over .500 as a starter (2000), and has a career record of 41-54 including his time with the Vikings, Dolphins, Raiders and Lions. These games have the potential to be impressive, but may explode like Daunte’s knee did in 2005, ending his stretch as a reliable NFL starter.
RAVENS (+1) over Colts
The Colts are not going to go undefeated this season, and this looks like one of the more likely places they could lose. The Ravens will be without Terrell Suggs after the Brady Quinn cheap shot, but the Colts were lucky to beat the Patriots last week. Look for Ray Lewis to rally his troops to slow down Manning on his march to perfection.
Falcons (+6.5) over GIANTS
Both teams have been sliding lately, the Giants are coming off their bye week at home, and the Falcons have suffered all of their losses on the road. Yet, even with Michael Turner banged up, Matt Ryan should be able to put up enough points with Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White to keep this one close and cover the number.
Eagles (-3) over BEARS
Jay Cutler has thrown 12 of his 18 interceptions in night games this season, so this Sunday night affair does not bode well for the gunslinger. Eagles only have to fly halfway across the country to get to Chicago, after poor performances at Oakland and at San Diego. McNabb, the Chicago native, and 1999 quarterback, will be ready to light up the poor Chicago secondary. Speaking of the oft-injured choke artist McNabb………..
The Donovan McNabb Category
While I am no fan of Donovan McNabb, I mean, he’s from Philly (strike one), he is not mentally tough – throwing up on the field (strike two), and he is not a good leader – whiny whenever someone else gets the spotlight or benches him (strike three). Oh, and I’m not even bringing up that he’s stupid and didn’t know a game could end in a tie. All that said, he has had tremendous regular season success, and is far and away the best quarterback from the 1999 draft. He is 82-45-1 as a starter and 9-6 in the playoffs and has thrown 206 touchdowns versus 94 interceptions. These are the most compelling games of the week, and much like Donovan, are only relevant in the regular season.
PATRIOTS (-10.5) over Jets
Patriots haven’t lost consecutive games in a bazillion years, and have the extra motivation of the week 2 loss to the Jets. Rex Ryan may not be crying passionate tears after this game, as they may be tears of legit pain from having Belichick and Brady’s legs knee-deep in his oversized rear end. The Jets offense will not be able to exploit the Pats defense the way the Colts did and Brady will dink and dunk with Welker until the deep ball for Moss opens up.
Chargers (-1) over BRONCOS
Broncos continue their slide back to the team that everyone expected them to be, especially if Kyle Orton isn’t able to go. Chargers have rebounded from their slow start, like they do every year, and will be able to take back control of the division. San Diego’s fourth-in-the-AFC passing game will put constant pressure on the Broncos secondary and force the Broncos to play a higher scoring game than they would like.