MINNEAPOLIS – After a wonky Week 6, The Coach and The Doc got back on the winning side on Thursday night. Our Boys almost felt as good as Alex Smith.
Thursday in San Francisco, the 49ers got a 12-yard TD pass from Alex Smith to Delanie Walker in the third quarter and outscored the Seattle Seahawks 10-0 in the second half to come away with a grinding 13-6 win over Seattle. It was a lousy football game for the casual fan but probably a masterpiece for both coaches. You often get the sense in the NFL that head coaches would rather lose 7-6 than win 56-10.
Really. Don’t you get the feeling that every week, most NFL coaches want tight defense, long drives, big ground game, two-minute drama, last second field goal from 52 to win? Seriously.
Before Thursday night’s game, Dr. Football wrote: “Two teams with the same record, but coming from different places. The 49ers were humiliated by the New York Football Giants at home last week while the Seahawks rallied for 14 points in the final seven minutes to stun the Patriots. The 49ers head into this one having beaten Seattle the last three times the teams have met, and no matter what kind of momentum Russell Wilson and Seattle have gained, I just can’t see San Fran losing at home twice in a row.”
The Coach said: “I wonder if Richard Sherman will trash talk Alex Smith after this one?”
Sherman was almost as quiet as the Seahawks offense, the Niners are back on top in the NFC West with Arizona and all is right with the world. Both The Coach and The Doc picked San Francisco to win and cover and they did.
Good thing too, because last week was a puzzling one for our fearless prognosticators. The Doc went 7-7 straight up last week (50-41) and was 6-8 (33-58) against the spread. The Coach almost slit his wrists, going 6-8 straight up (53-38) and 3-11 against the spread (37-54).
However, we do not quit. This week, with added resolve and more research, we get back at it. The Falcons, Broncos, Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles and Chargers have the byes this week so there are 11 games on Sunday. The big games include Baltimore at Houston, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, the New York Jets at New England, Washington at the Giants and the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals at the 4-2 Minnesota Vikings.
As always, The Doc writes our rationalizations while The Coach makes pithy remarks.
Tennessee Titans (2-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-3) Line: Bills by 3.
Two terrible teams coming off wins last week, Titans beat up on the Steelers last Thursday while the Bills shocked the Cardinals in ‘Zona. One may want to think “If the Titans can beat the Steelers”…but not so fast. The Titans are winless on the road so far this season, and despite last week’s win, still don’t have a pass defense. Go with the home team. The Coach says, “Everybody’s angry because I don’t treat the NFL with the reverence it deserves, so nothing but important stats today. Some of them even more obscure than those found by ESPN’s Sunday morning version of The View.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE BILLS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BILLS TO WIN AND COVER
Arizona Cardinals (4-2) at Minnesota Vikings (4-2) Line: Vikings by 6
The Cardinals scored at least 20 points in their first four games going 4-0. Since then they’ve dropped their past two and have scored a combined 19 points. And with “Nobody’s fantasy pick” John Skelton getting the start replacing the injured Kevin Kolb, the team is set to continue sinking like an Arizona sunset in the NFC West. The Vikings looked shaky on defense last week against the Redskins, but they should rebound at the Dome where they are 3-0 so far. The Coach says, “Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has a 92.4 passer rating. And a 100 rating in making a pass. Samantha Steele? Nice.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER.
Cleveland Browns (1-5) at Indianapolis Colts (2-3) Line: Colts by 3.
A battle of two good rookie quarterbacks with bright futures in this one with the Browns Brandon Weeden going up against the Colts Andrew Luck. With the Browns winning last week, a little of the pressure is off and with the Colts losing last week, the pressure is back on. I think the Browns, despite having the dismal 0-10 road record dating back to last season, do have a legitimate chance for an upset. The Coach says, “Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden leads all rookie quarterbacks with 1,519 passing yards. Really? Seriously? Who knew?”
THE DOC: TAKE THE BROWNS.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BROWNS.
Baltimore Ravens (5-1) at Houston Texans (5-1) Line: Texans by 6.5.
The Ravens are banged up on defense after losing two of their stars, including linebacker and future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. It looks like they will get Terrell Suggs back this week, but it’s unclear how ready he is for game action. The Ravens are an all-time 6-0 against the Texans who were embarrassed last Sunday night when the Packers came into town and beat them by 18 points. It wasn’t the best nigh for the defense putting it mildly…so they will be looking to redeem themselves. The Coach says, “Two 5-1 teams and no Ray Lewis. In this case, one player will have more to do with any outcome than some obscure statistic.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE TEXANS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE TEXANS TO WIN AND COVER
Green Bay Packers (3-3) at St. Louis Rams (3-3) Line: Packers by 5
Tough spot for the Rams this week. The Packers destroyed the previously unbeaten Texans last week with Aaron Rodgers tossing six touchdown passes making Houston look ordinary. While St. Louis may be 3-0 at home, and at .500 for the year, Sam Bradford just ain’t getting it done. The Coach says, “Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers became the first player in NFL history with at least six touchdown passes against an undefeated team with a 5-0 or better record. Now, that’s an obscure stat.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Dallas Cowboys (2-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-4) Line: Cowboys 2.
What a disappointing effort this year by Cam Newton and the Panthers. Over the past three home games, Carolina has scored just 12 offensive points. Yikes. The Cowboys, despite their record, are a much better team. Felix Jones is in for DeMarco Murray, but it won’t matter since the Panthers can’t stop the run. The Coach says, “Here’s a stat for you: Two teams the pundits thought would be terrific have a combined record of 3-7. You can hear the sucking.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE COWBOYS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE COWBOYS TO WIN AND COVER.
Washington Redskins (3-3) at New York Giants (4-2) Line: Giants by 6.5.
This will be the ‘Skins RG3’s first division game of the season, and he’ll be going up against a fired up Giants defensive front that finally came to life last week in New York’s huge win against the 49ers. The Giants are expected to get more production from Hakeem Nicks this week, and with their running game clicking too, Eli Manning will have an easy of a time against the Redskins’ defense. The Coach says: “Last week against the Niners, the Giants recorded at least six sacks and three interceptions while holding an opponent to three points or fewer for the first time since Nov. 24, 1985. Thank you, NFL communications department.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER
New Orleans Saints (1-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) Line: Saints by 2.5.
The Saints are coming off a bye week and a pretty commanding victory, and they should be able to beat a consistently disappointing Tampa Bay team. Look for Drew Brees to light it up as the Bucs are allowing an astonishing 312 passing yards per game. The Coach says: “Drew Brees, who has 62 career 300-yard passing games, can tied Brett Favre (63) for the third-most 300-yard passing games in NFL history.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BUCS.
New York Jets (3-3) at New England Patriots (3-3) Line: Patriots by 10.5
I’m still unclear on how the Jets are a .500 team…anyone? The Patriots in their past five games have given up at least 20 points, including 14 fourth quarter points to the Seahawks last week. That won’t happen again. Watch for Tom Brady to take out his frustration out on the Jets, because you can’t beat Tom Brady without a pass rush and without Darrelle Revis. The Coach says: “New England has amassed at least 350 total net yards in 15 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in NFL history. They’ll do it again.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) at Oakland Raiders (1-4) Line: Raiders by 4.
Stinker alert! While the rest of North America will be watching the Jets and the Patriots beat up on each other, people in Oakland will have to actually pay money to see this one live. Good grief. The Jaguars have the league’s worst offense, and while the Raiders are not much better, Carson Palmer should have all day to throw the ball because Jacksonville is last in the league in sacks. The Raiders played the unbeaten Falcons very tough last week, and they should win this one. The Coach says, “These teams don’t play each other very often. The Jags lead the all-time series 4-1. That will matter about as much as something Terry Bradshaw says this week.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE RAIDERS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE RAIDERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-3) Line: Steelers by 2.5.
Both teams are definitely not meeting anyone’s expectations this year. The Bengals have lost two consecutive games, while the Steelers lost last week at Tennessee, and in fact are 0-3 on the road this year. Steelers Ben Roethlisberger will feel the heat from the Bengals pass rush that has 20 sacks so far, second in the league. Steelers are beat up, Bengals are healthy. I smell upset. The Coach says, “I smell two mediocre teams. Hey, ‘two’ is a serious stat.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE BENGALS.
THE COACH: TAKE THE STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Detroit Lions (2-3) at Chicago Bears (4-1) Line: Bears by 5.5.
Don’t be fooled by the Lions win on the road last week against a lousy Eagles team; Detroit isn’t very good. But Chicago is. And the Bears are coming off a bye week having won their past three games by a combined 98-27. They should crush the Lions at home. The Coach says, “In the last 10 games Cutler has started, his record is 9-1. Matt Stafford’s record? Not quite as good.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE BEARS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BEARS TO WIN AND COVER.