This is the last week of the bye weeks, which means fans will be treated to a heaping helping of pigskin action this coming Thanksgiving weekend. That’s good for America.
Five-star upset special o’ the week: Bengals over Ravens. Got totally burned by Baltimore as a “lock of the week” last week, so now the Ravens are a predicted loser in this spot this week. The winner of this game gets a share of the AFC North lead.
Lock of the week: Patriots over Chiefs. Tyler Palko will be the starting quarterback for the Chiefs on Monday night. That is all you need to know about this game. The Patriots, meanwhile, might not lose a game the rest of the way. Don’t believe it? Check out their remaining schedule.
Jets at Broncos
The pick: Broncos (expect plenty of Tim Tebow late-game magic, then Tebowing from the man himself)
Bengals at Ravens
The pick: Bengals
Jaguars at Browns
The pick: Browns
Panthers at Lions
The pick: Lions
Buccaneers at Packers
The pick: Packers
Bills at Dolphins
The pick: Bills
Raiders at Vikings
The pick: Raiders
Cowboys at Redskins
The pick: Cowboys
Cardinals at 49ers
The pick: 49ers
Seahawks at Rams
The pick: Rams
Titans at Falcons
The pick: Falcons
Chargers at Bears
The pick: Bears
Eagles at Giants
The pick: Giants
Last week’s record: 10-6
2011 overall record: 94-52 (.644 winning percentage)
Five-star upset special record: 4-6
Lock of the week record: 7-3 (ugh … Ravens, I will never, ever through perpetuity, make the Baltimore Ravens as a “Lock of the week” selection. Ever!)
There are some references to burgers here. Can you find ‘em?
Five-star upset special o’ the week: Seahawks over Bengals. Yes, I’m very much aware of the three-burger the Seahawks put up last week in Cleveland (by the way, what would a three-burger look like? Like, a half-eaten slider that’s falling all apart, with no fixings, on a stale bun?). The Bengals, meanwhile, would be in the AFC playoff field if the season ended today (which, thankfully, it doesn’t). But, we get a rookie quarterback (Andy Dalton) going into a place known for its raucous crowds (“12th Man” … 36,000-plus strong for Major League Soccer games). That’s going to be a tough assignment. Given the relative strength of the Bengals’ defense (second in the NFL), and the equally relative ineptitude of the Seahawks’ offense (31st in the NFL), this game could come down to how the rookie performs in that hostile environment.
Lock of the week presented by the official Twitter page of Murder Killingfield: Saints over Rams. For the second consecutive week, the explosive Saints get to face a winless team. When last we saw the Saints, they were throwing down a 60-burger on the Colts. What sort of burger will the Saints put up against the Rams? What will be the combined score of the Saints’ two games against these winless teams? Can they crack 100 total points over two weeks?
Cardinals at Ravens
The pick: Ravens
Vikings at Panthers
The pick: Panthers
Jaguars at Texans
The pick: Texans
Dolphins at Giants
The pick: Giants
Saints at Rams
The pick: Saints
Colts at Titans
The pick: Titans
Redskins vs. Bills (at Toronto)
The pick: Bills
Lions at Broncos
The pick: Lions
Patriots at Steelers
The pick: Patriots
Bengals at Seahawks
The pick: Seahawks
Browns at 49ers
The pick: 49ers
Cowboys at Eagles
The pick: Eagles
Last week’s record: 8-5 (7-6 in Week 5, 8-5 in Week 6, 8-5 in Week 7 … looks sorta-kinda like a slump during these dog days of the midseason)
2011 overall record: 69-34 (.670 winning percentage)
Five-star upset special record: 3-4
Lock of the week presented by the official Twitter page of Murder Killingfield record: 6-1
1. Cincinnati Bengals — There’s nothing this team can do to make their uniforms look good (well, aside from getting a new team nickname and all news colors).
2. Carolina Panthers — Real men don’t wear teal; or goofy-striped pants.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Again, teal is so 1993. Maybe moving this team to Los Angeles will help change its image.
4. New England Patriots — The team’s awesome throwback uniforms make its current gear appear even more awful.
5. Denver Broncos — These uniforms weren’t cool when the team made the switch in 1997, and they’re even less cool now. The only redeeming quality of the Broncos’ current look are the helmets, which are quite nice.
Five-star upset special o’ the week: Vikings over Giants. This one makes all kinds of sense if, somehow, the Giants manage to knock cash-for-clunkers QB Brett Favre out of the game early, thus bringing Tarvaris Jackson back into action. The Giants’ game plan should really be to keep Favre upright and in the game, otherwise they are doomed.
Lock(s) of the week presented by Greatest Pro Bowls of all time, and other stuff: Steelers over Bengals. Cincy is coming off an epic, point-and-laughing at the Bengals moment against New Orleans last week. This Bengals team is looking for a reason to cave, it appears. Enter the Steelers, who are mean and nasty, and decidedly uncaveable (<– that's not a word. We're inventing words here Rhino’s Sports Pub and Bacon Symposium). Carson Palmer is good for a couple picks; Ben Roethlisberger is good for a couple of plays in which you totally think he’s going to get sacked, only to somehow manage to escape and fire a pass to an open receiver for a big play.
Colts over Titans
Browns over Bills
Falcons over Panthers
Packers over Lions
Jaguars over Raiders
Steelers over Bengals
Buccaneers over Redskins
Saints over Rams
Seahawks over 49ers
Broncos over Cardinals
Patriots over Bears
Jets over Dolphins
Chargers over Chiefs
Eagles over Cowboys
Ravens over Texans
Vikings over Giants
Last week’s record: 13-3
2010 record: 117-75 (.609 winning percentage)
Five-star upset special o’ the week record: 4-9
Lock(s) of the week presented by Greatest Pro Bowls of all time, and other stuff record: 12-4
Lock(s) of the week presented by Rhino’s Sports Pub: Thanksgiving football. Thanksgiving Day games between NFL teams is a tradition that dates back to the league’s inaugural season, when the Akron Pros pig-in-a-poked the Canton Bulldogs 7-0, the Decatur Staleys rin-tin-tinned the Chicago Tigers 6-0, and the Dayton Triangles crusty-bobbed the Detroit Heralds 28-0. Since that time, teams such as the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys have taken over as hosts of annual Turkey Day games and the game of football has become almost as synonymous with the food-themed holiday as turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and tryptophan-induced comas. This is all good for America.
What else is good for America? The so-called “America’s Team” losing. Here, we’re picking both the Cowboys and Lions to lose, to the Saints and Patriots respectively, on Thanksgiving. We’re also going to pick the Jets to defeat the bumbling, stumbling Bengals in the Thanksgiving night game on NFL Network.
Five-star upset special of the week: Packers over Falcons. Rhino’s Sports Pub and Bacon Grille would hate to get too far ahead of itself, but this showdown could decide home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. With that being said, Rhino’s Sports Pub and Bacon Grille would also prefer that the NFC playoffs go through the proverbial “Frozen Tundra” over some climate-controlled, boring dome with fake grass. Domes and fake grass are no fun, so let’s go Packers.
Thanksgiving Day games
Patriots over Lions
Saints over Cowboys
Jets over Bengals
Giants over Jaguars
Steelers over Bills
Redskins over Vikings
Browns over Panthers
Packers over Falcons
Texans over Titans
Seahawks over Chiefs
Raiders over Dolphins
Eagles over Bears
Broncos over Rams
Ravens over Buccaneers
Chargers over Colts
49ers over Cardinals
Last week’s record: 14-2 (OK, that’s more like! Only the Titans and 49ers kept me from having a perfect week, which — I think — would have been a first-ever occurence in the nearly three seasons of doing NFL picks in this spot)
2010 record: 94-66 (.588 winning percentage)
Five-star upset special record: 3-8
Lock of the week presented by Rhino’s Sports Pub record: 8-3
Five-star upset special of the week: Bills over Bengals. The Bills, meanwhile, are coming off an inspiring first victory of the season. The Bengals, meanwhile, are riding a six-game losing streak. Thanks to the horrific seasons of the so-called “America’s Team” and that one team with old-man Brett Favre on the roster, the awfulness that is the Bengals has slipped under the radar. Terrell Owens — formerly of the Bills (and Cowboys … and Eagles … and 49ers) — has had a splendid season. His T.Ochocino sidekick? Not so much.
Working in the Bills’ favor is a nine-game winning streak against the Bengals. Also possibly working in the BIlls’ favor is the relative hideousness of the Bengals’ uniforms, arguably the worst in the NFL (Shameless plug: My worst uniforms in the NFL power rankings soon to come!).
Lock of the week presented by Rhino’s Sports Pub: Jets over Texans. Remember a couple months ago when the Texans were 2-0 and many a football pundit was saying that perhaps this year, 2010, would finally be that year that the Texans took that next step. That next step, of course, would be the playoffs, a lofty height that the Texans — members of the National Football League since 2002 — have yet to achieve. Then, the Texans lost to the Cowboys. That loss was embarrassing, given it took until last week for the Cowboys to finally win again. The Texans? Well, they’re now sitting in last place in a very competitive AFC South. It is clear that Houston just doesn’t have what it takes to be a winner in their current incarnation.
The Jets, on the other hand, aren’t winning pretty (consecutive overtime victories … the first time ever that was accomplished in road games), but they find ways to win games. They should have no problem with a Texans team that appears ready to get to 4-8 before finishing the season with a four-game winning streak to hit 8-8 once again.
Ravens over Panthers
Bills over Bengals
Cowboys over Lions
Jaguars over Browns
Chiefs over Cardinals
Packers over Vikings
Jets over Texans
Steelers over Raiders
Titans over Redskins
Saints over Seahawks
49ers over Buccaneers
Falcons over Rams
Patriots over Colts
Eagles over Giants
Chargers over Broncos
Last week’s record: 7-7
2010 record: 80-64 (.556 winning percentage)
Five-star upset special record: 2-8
Lock of the week presented by Rhino’s Sports Pub record: 7-3
When not watching the RedZone channel, I’ll be checking out these games with great interest …
1. Patriots at Jets: The Jets were wildly uninspiring in a Week 1 loss to the visiting Ravens on Monday Night Football. Perhaps they didn’t get the point of Rex Ryan’s epic “now let’s go eat a g–damn snack!” speech. Randy Moss notwithstanding, the Patriots don’t do a lot of talking. The contrast in styles makes this matchup so intriguing. Oh, and it’s a rivalry game between the two teams expected to contend for the AFC East title. No big deal.
2. Ravens at Bengals: Cincinnati battered Baltimore last season, sweeping the Ravens en route to the AFC North title. On Sunday, the Ravens could exact a measure of revenge by putting the Bengals in a devastating 0-2 hole.
3. Steelers at Titans: The Titans look to eradicate the “Curse of the Terrible Towel,” the unfortunate set of events that were kicked off when then-Titans RB LenDale White stomped on a Terrible Towel during a victory late in the 2008 season. All that happened since then was the Steelers won a Super Bowl when it was the Titans who had home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs, then the Titans went on to a 0-6 start in 2009 — including a loss to the Steelers in the Kickoff game — that ruined their season.
4. Texans at Redskins: This is the sudden showcase showdown of Week 2. Both teams are 1-0 after upset victories over division rivals in Week 1. Both looking to open up the season 2-0. Pay close attention to these Texans. If they can avoid that dreaded “letdown game,” they could be for reals.
5. Giants at Colts: Eli takes on big bro Peyton on national television. It’s the defending NFL MVP who’s under the most pressure to succeed in this one, as the Colts have not opened a season 0-2 since Peyton’s rookie season in 1998. Yup, 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were baseball heroes chasing Roger Maris’ home-run record and France was coming off a victory in the World Cup.
Just missing the cut: Saints at 49ers
Not even close: Rams at Raiders
Please note that this was written after the Saints beat the Vikings in the Thursday night Kickoff game. That game would have made the cut.
1. Ravens at Jets — The war of words escalated on Thursday, which is a good thing for those who plan on tuning into this matchup and expecting a good show on Monday night.
3. Bengals at Patriots — The regular-season debut of T.Ochocinco is enough reason to watch, but you can also throw in the fact that both teams have Super Bowl aspirations. I personally think one team’s aspirations are more realistic than the other’s.
4. Packers at Eagles — The Eagles are where the Packers were two years ago … with a first-year starter replacing a team legend.
5. Falcons at Steelers — Dennis Dixon starts for the Steelers against the team many are picking to unseat the Saints atop the NFC South.
Just missing the cut: Raiders at Titans, 49ers at Seahawks
Not even close: Cardinals at Rams
Once again, at it has for many, many years, the National Football League has stormed into September, kicked aside that sport known as the “National Pastime.” And, right when the cranks should be getting all bugged out about the pennant chase, pro football steals the headlines and the public’s attention.
Here, the return of the NFL season is celebrated. Rejoiced with a fist bump and slap on the rear end.
This, the 90th NFL season, offers Rhino’s Sports Pub another opportunity to test its pigskin prognostication prowess. These picks, however, are not made with gambling in mind. There’s no picking against spreads. Rhino’s Sports Pub only deals with winners and losers … mostly winners.
Let’s get this party started …
‘Twas the night before the NFL opener, when all through the apartment
Not a creature was stirring, just my computer’s mouse
The NFL Films DVD was playing on the TV over there
As the excitement of football season was in the air
‘Tis the season, they say. As the games will soon be under way.
But, before they kick things off in N’awlins, let’s discuss a very good word.