Who cares about last week when we have THE...SINGLE...MOST...IMPORTANT...GAME...OF...THE...SEASON...this weekend?
But for those of you who do care, congrats to bl! Here are last week's results:
bl - 10
David Stefanini - 9
EdMcGon - 8
J. Mark English - 8
FunkyPundit - 8
Snave - 8
Robert A. George - 6
Bill Barker - 5
Give a welcome to newcomer Snave. You have to appreciate someone who is willing to enter the weekly race without a chance of winning the YTD. Kudos!
Speaking of the YTD (with weekly wins in parentheses):
David Stefanini(2) - 72
EdMcGon(1) - 66
Robert A. George(1.5) - 63
J. Mark English(1) - 60
bl(2) - 54
Bill Barker - 45
FunkyPundit(0.5) - 41
SoloD - 28
Dave O'Leary - 21
Rigel - 17
Snave - 8
Mike - 8
For this week's picks, since we all only really care about one game, that's the only one I will comment on (this week, my picks are in green, with the exception of the last game):
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
Jacksonville Jaguars at New Orleans Saints
Washington Redskins at New York Jets
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans
Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns
Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts: The undisputed game of the week, possibly of the entire season. This one deserves a "Super Bowl" quality analysis:
Passing offense: The Pats are head and shoulders above everyone in the NFL. 73.6% completions, 8.65 yards/attempt, 303.8 yards/game, 30 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 8 sacks allowed, 133.2 pass rating.
The Colts have a great pass offense, but they don't match the Pats: 65.4% completions, 7.58 yards/attempt, 258.7 yards/game, 13 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 5 sacks allowed, 102.5 pass rating. EDGE: Patriots.
Rushing offense: For all the press generated by Tom Brady and the Pats passing game, their running game is no slouch, averaging 135.8 yards/game with a 4.2 average per attempt for 8 touchdowns.
However, the Colts have been slightly better: 140.3 yards/game with a 4.4 average per attempt for 12 touchdowns. EDGE: Colts.
Rushing defense: The statistics are a bit deceptive in this category, mostly because the Patriots have forced opponents to abandon the running game early (Pats: 87.0 rush yards/game allowed; Colts: 107.4 rush yards/game allowed). But look at what the Pats do to teams with decent running games (rush attempts/pass attempts, rushing yards allowed, rushing average, td's):
vs. Chargers (20/30, 52 yards, 2.6 avg., 0 td's): The Chargers rank 12th in the NFL in rushing yards/game.
vs. Cowboys (15/29, 97 yards, 6.5 avg., 0 td's): The Cowboys rank 9th in the NFL in rushing yards/game.
vs. Dolphins (30/37, 179 yards, 6.0 avg., 3 td's): The Dolphins rank 15th in the NFL in rushing yards/game.
On the surface, it would seem that if you run a balanced attack against the Patriots, you can actually beat their run defense. Actually, this is misleading because the Dolphins did most of their rushing damage in the 4th quarter when they were already down 42-7. The Dolphins gained 72 yards rushing and scored 2 rushing touchdowns in the 4th quarter of a game they had already lost. EDGE: Patriots.
Passing defense: This is where both of these teams really shine.
Patriots pass defense: 59.7% completion percentage, 5.09 yards/pass attempt, 181.5 yards/game, 10 td's, 11 interceptions.
Colts pass defense: 65.7% completion percentage, 4.79 yards/pass attempt, 165.4 yards/game, 5 td's, 9 interceptions.
The big difference: The Pats have 22 sacks vs. the Colts 12 sacks. EDGE: Patriots.
Special teams (returns): The Pats are averaging 29.2 yards per kickoff return with 2 touchdowns and 10.1 yards per punt return. The Colts are averaging 23.9 yards per kickoff return with no touchdowns and 9.0 yards per punt return. EDGE: Patriots.
Special teams (punting): Neither of these teams has had to punt very often this year. But when they do, the Pats get the better results with a net punt average of 36.7 yards vs. 32.0 yards for the Colts (worst in the NFL). EDGE: Patriots.
Special teams (kickers): Not a lot of difference between the two kickers in this game statistically, as both have only missed one field goal so far this year. However, Adam Vinatieri is a money in the bank clutch kicker. EDGE: Colts.
Coaching: Three Super Bowl wins for Belichick. One Super Bowl win for Dungy. However, the Colts have won the last three times they have played. EDGE: none.
My prediction: Patriots win 35-17. Defense and special teams win big games, and the Patriots carry the edge there.
Pigskin Pick'em Rules:
1. Pick the straight-up winners of all this weeks NFL games (excluding any Thursday games). Picks will be accepted in the comments section of the following websites: Politics and Pigskins, Ragged Thots, and American Legends. All picks must be posted by 1 pm Eastern Time on Sunday (otherwise known as "The Barker Rule"), or by the kickoff of the first NFL Saturday game on weeks when that happens.
2. The winner gets...bragging rights! (you weren't expecting money, were you?)
3. And new for this year: I will be keeping a running tally for the season, so the person who gets the most picks correct for the whole season, including the playoffs, gets...even BIGGER bragging rights! (and still no money)