I read this week where Nick Foles’ dad said his son was “ready for anything.” Replacing Michael Vick in Philadelphia means he better be ready to play without much rush protection.
Nick’s a big guy and showed a decent arm in emergency duty last week when Vick went down with his concussion. As the game wore on, he got less accurate though, which is not a real hopeful sign.
But there is one thing about saying you are “ready for anything” playing in front of Philly fans. You’re going to get it, so you’d better be. Remember, it was the fathers (and maybe a few mothers) of these fans who pelted Santa Claus with snowballs.
Eagles at Redskins – Speaking of harsh treatment, has anyone seen the Eagles’ defense lately? I know they come out on the field when it’s their turn and all, but after that we sort of lose track. Not a good thing when RGIII is on the field this week.
Washington still self-destructs way too often, but it’s usually not from the QB position. That’s two reasons I like the Redskins in this one. Then there’s the home field thing. Besides, Philly is just playing a defeated brand of ball now.
Packers at Lions – Odd to see these two traditional and (in Detroit’s case at least somewhat) venerable NFL franchises play the sort of ball the old AFL used to specialize in: strong-armed quarterbacking with receivers running routes all over the field and precious little defense between the 20s.
It’s interesting, I suppose, but where’s the running game guys? Throwing it all over the place is some fun for everybody, but winning is more fun. Only fantasy owners follow the game for stats. You want to win, and keep winning? Then run and stop the run.
This game is four days early as it should be the Thanksgiving Day special, but it’s not and I guess the Lions will lose that one too.
Cardinals at Falcons – Atlanta now has its head on straight after a tough loss to division rival New Orleans, which I actually thought they would lose but refused to pick because I never want to pick an undefeated team’s first loss after the midway point in the season. By that point you’ve earned the right to lose on your own terms, which Atlanta did.
Losers of five straight, Arizona limps into town not even a shadow of its former self. Even then they were only about two-thirds of a team. Same problem as Detroit (only worse if that’s possible) – no running game whatsoever, and one of the worst O-lines in the game.
So what if they are getting better. Going from bad to good is not going to beat a great team at home highly motivated by their first loss.
Saints at Raiders – New Orleans’ slow but steady rise to respectability will not be hurt by their swing out to the West Coast. Carson Palmer may throw for 350 yards, but he and his team have the knack of blowing it in the red zone. This is one of those things that makes football much different from life: it’s the destination and not the journey that counts. No one can score more counters than Mr. Brees.
Chargers at Broncos – San Diego loses and it’s all over but the counting. They will probably play their best game of the year and in all likelihood the best game of their lives, but it won’t matter. As usual this year, when the fourth quarter makes it necessary, they will make the mistake (or two, or three, or four) that winds up beating them.
Right now Denver versus Tampa Bay is not a bad Super Bowl pick based on the En Fuego scale. The Chargers are stuck to the Frio scale. The later in the game, the tighter they play. They need to play an equally dysfunctional team, like Dallas, to get a clear read on what kind of talent they really have. Now in his sixth year at the helm in San Diego, I think we’ve waited long enough.
Colts at Patriots – With Big Ben Roethlisberger hurt and now out of the Sunday night game, this becomes the fallback choice for Game of the Day. I’m still taking New England, because I don’t yet trust Indy enough on the road, but Andrew Luck has been solid all year long with occasional spontaneous outbursts of utter brilliance. Not too shabby in the rookie realm.
The matchup between these traditional rivals won’t be the same, for oh-so-obvious a reason, but nothing lasts forever; nor should it.
Ravens at Steelers – Pittsburgh without Ben is like Baltimore without Ray. You’d think the contest would then be even, but I don’t think so. A week of prep work will allow Coach Tomlin to figure a method to get Byron Leftwich out of his own way – a combination of quicker routes and reads, and even more focus on an improved running game.
Then he just leaves it in the hands of a very capable defense and lets the elements do the rest. It’s the squirreliest field ever made for kickers from out of town.
Bears at 49ers – The Monday Night bowl features two teams without starting quarterbacks due to concussions. If both play, I take San Francisco on defensive grounds. If only Cutler plays, then Obama’s team has the edge. If only Smith plays, I think he manages just fine. What a game manager, that guy!
But seriously, Frank Gore has a night to remember against the best defense he will see outside of practice.