Saturday, September 29, 2007


So far, so good. If I wasn't an idiot, I'd be better at this than I am. But I can't complain about the start.

On the field, the NFL's remaining unbeatens are New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Green Bay. One real surprise among the five, but the real surprises in the league are the teams that don't appear to be that good.

Kansas City, San Diego, the Giants and Jets, Philadelphia, and Chicago were all playoff teams a year ago. All are 1-2 and in various states of disrepair.

The New Orleans Saints, darlings of the NFL just a year ago, are 0-3. Suddenly, Sean Payton looks like the guy Jim Fassell once stripped of play-calling duties in New York.

Cincinnati, a chic pick to make the playoffs this year, is 1-2 and looks horrible defensively.

That'll be eight teams that probably shouldn't be as bad as they are. For some of them, it doesn't get any easier in Week Four.

Last week: 12-4
Season: 34-14

Green Bay at Minnesota: Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you that I have that "fan" thing in me. I can talk smack when it's warranted, and sometimes I'll even allow myself to say things I know aren't true.

I've done that this week, even going so far as to make a Coldstone ice cream bet with some on-air colleagues. On the surface, this seems like a Captain Obvious deal. The Packers will win. Dig a little deeper, however, and you'll see some potential landmines under the Metrodome roof.

The Packers are struggling with the deep passing game. In reality, they've only hit one real deep pass in three games, that being the bomb to James Jones in the Giants game. Outside of that, Green Bay has been pretty mediocre in this area. The Vikings' defense is similar to the Chargers in a couple areas. They stop the run very well, they don't defend the pass nearly as well, their linebackers can be exploited in space, and they're not deep at cornerback.

However, the Vikings have a couple significant edges in this offense-defense matchup. The safeties, Darren Sharper and (probably) Dwight Smith are much more active than San Diego's tandem. They'll cause problems for the passing game if they can't develop some sort of downfield threat in the game.

On the bright side, Sharper and Smith playing farther away from the line of scrimmage might open up the running game for a few shots. The Packers might have some success with a few quick-hit run plays if they spread out the Vikings' defense. That would either take linebackers off the field or force them to look pass first on a particular play.

The Packers have struggled to stop the run. Luckily enough for Green Bay, it appears that Chester Taylor will play Sunday. This is good because Vikings head coach Brad Childress is probably dumb enough to keep Taylor on the field instead of Adrian Peterson.

Other advantages for the Packers: They've played quite well at the Metrodome recently, Favre is really on his game so far, the secondary looks unlikely to surrender a ton of points to this Vikings' offense, and I think Green Bay has an edge in overall talent. The Vikings will be pumped for this game, but the Packers will slog their way to a 4-0 start.
The pick: Green Bay

Denver at Indianapolis: The Broncos are out to show they're not as bad on offense as Jacksonville made them look last week. The Colts do have some holes on defense, but I think Peyton Manning and the offense are too much for Denver to slow down. I'll take the home team.
The pick: Indianapolis

Other picks (Home team in CAPS)
Baltimore over CLEVELAND
DETROIT over Chicago
Houston over ATLANTA
BUFFALO over N.Y. Jets
MIAMI over Oakland
DALLAS over St. Louis
SAN FRANCISCO over Seattle
CAROLINA over Tampa Bay
SAN DIEGO over Kansas City
Pittsburgh over ARIZONA
Philadelphia over N.Y. GIANTS
New England over CINCINNATI

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