Antigonish - November 12, 2011 - Pigskin picks has now gone 5 for 5 in consecutive weeks, bringing my season record up to 36/45, an 80% success rate! Correctly predicting the upset Miami victory was undoubtedly the high point of my prognostications thus far this year - here is to getting a few more of the upsets right as we head into the back half of the NFL schedule, and see playoff spots won and lost!
Now on to Week 10!
Game of the Week - Giants at 49ers - Both teams come into this one hot! Eli led the Giants to a last minute victory at New England, and the 49ers, led by RB Frank Gore, continue to run over opponents with a 7-1 record. The real surprise with the 49ers is the decent play of QB Alex Smith, who is helping the team win by leading a largely turnover free passing attack. Eli Manning meanwhile, is stepping up as more than just Peyton's little brother, and has become a star QB in his own right. How these two emerging QB's deal with the opposing defenses will be the difference, as the Giants pass rush will be sure to unsettle Smith, while Manning has not faced a defense as good as the Patrick Willis led 49ers D to this point in the season. Look for the home team to prevail in a close one! 49ers win.
Upset of the Week - New England at Jets - This one is being billed as Tom Brady vs the Rob Ryan defense, and while the Jets are the favorites on the basis of a stifling defense led by shutdown corner Darrelle Revis, let it not be forgotten that the Jets offense is no great shakes, despite the emergence of RB Shonn Greene. While the Pats defense has certainly struggled against the pass, Mark Sanchez is unlikely to exploit that weakness, and Brady is well, Brady. While Revis is a force, he cannot shut down all three of Welker, Gronkowski and Hernandez. Look for the Pats to reassert their divisional dominance. Pats Win!
Cardinals at Eagles - Backup QB John Skelton looked no better than Kevin Kolb last week - a shame for Larry Fitzgerald, who has had consistently poor QB play since Kurt Warner retired. Poor QB play and an inability to stop the run are ely trademarks of the 2011 Cardinals, and do little to inspire confidence vs QB Michael Vick and a talented group of playmakers on offense for the Eagles, who have struggled to live up to their preseason status as the "Dream team", but are clearly the more talented team, and should pull within a win of .500 with a victory at home. Eagles win!
Lock of the Week - Baltimore at Seattle - The Ravens are fresh off a huge victory against bitter rivals Pittsburgh, and while a bit of a let down may not be a surprise, it shoudl take more than that to lose to a punchless Seattle team that struggles in all facets of the game. Look for Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and company to dominate this match from the onset, and move to a 7-2 record! Baltimore wins.
Washington at Miami - With the Fins having won their first game last week vs the Chiefs, optimism reigns in Miami, and Reggie Bush and company look to make it two in a row vs a Redskins team that seems to have found a running game (read - passing game out of the backfield) with Roy Helu, but offers little else to scare opposing defenses. While Miami is by no means a strong team, they have the opportunity to post back to back wins here against a Redskins team that (Sorry Mike Shanahan!) seems to be a disorganized mess at present. Dolphins win!