It's November, which means it's time to grow your mustache, raise awareness and funds for men's health. So which Movember style will be yours this year?
As this blog grows from it's infancy, new things are being learned every week. Last week, I learned that it's unwise to make predictions that are heavily weather dependent. (i.e. Matt Ryan's aerial assault of the Eagles.) Baring a few hours notice, stay away from long term weather forecast when considering possible outcomes. Let's rebound and strike it rich!
Make sure to follow my homey @norin_ondeck's in game banter and check out his weekly From the Gut pick in the comments section below.
Ravens -4 @ Browns
A lot of people have written off the Ravens after the injuries to Ray Lewis and Ladarius Webb. Coming off the bye week, the Ravens will be well rested and motivated to prove their critics wrong. It's unacceptable for a team with a talent like Ray Rice to be 30th in the NFL with 22.1 rushing attempts per game. Hopefully Ravens OC Cam Cameron used the bye week to gather some sense. The Browns are 23rd in the NFL allowing 4.4 YPC (yards per carry). If the Ravens are smart enough to run, they should be able to run freely against their opponent this week.
With Terrell Suggs two weeks healthier, look for the Ravens to put Brandon Wheeden under pressure, forcing errant throws or turnovers. Now the question is how the Ravens fare in stopping Trent Richardson. Last time these teams met, Richardson only rushed for 47 yards in 14 carries. With an extra week of preparation, the Ravens will keep T-Rich under 100 yards rushing and cover the spread.
Recap: Baltimore went up early and they thought they could just coast through. Ray Rice was very good and he was used more effectively in this game. Although the Ravens allowed over 100 yards to T-Rich, they kept him away from the end zone and ensured a win.
Bears -3.5 @ Titans
The Bears have taken care of business against inferior teams, except for last week coming off a short week. Chicago has won their games by an average of 16.3 points. The Bears will be able to shut down the Titans biggest strength: their running game. The Bears allow a paltry 3.8 (YPC), 8th in the NFL. And if the ageless wonder Matt Hasselbeck is forced to throw excessively against this D, the Titans day will be very long.
The Bears should be able to move the chains with ease on offense. The Titans D has not been particularly impressive stopping neither the run nor the pass. With a healthy Matt Forte and the duo of Cutler and Marshall, the Bears will score sufficiently to beat the Titans. After a close call last week, the Bears will be sharper this time around, even in a non-conference match up.
Recap: The Bears came out strong against a lesser opponent and their D was dominant once again. The comfort level between Cutler and Marshall and Matt Forte's talents also make this offense a dangerous one. I like them this week against the Texans. More on this to come.
Lions -4 @ Jaguars
Recap: Matt Stafford once again looked like the Stafford of last year. Even though he didn't throw a touchdown in this game, he was accurate and efficient. The Lions will be a dangerous team if they can establish a running game and get healthier on defense.
Buccaneers +1.5 @ Raiders
The early season shenanigans by coach Greg Schiano brought his team closer and they're playing with a 'us vs. the world' mentality this season. The Bucs have been competitive in every single game this season. All their losses have been by 7 points or less, even with a tough schedule so far. Ever since the bye week, the Buccaneers offense has been in sync with key contributions from Josh Freeman, Doug Martin and the receivers. Look for the red hot Freeman to continue his hot streak this week.
To be fair, the Raiders have also been playing better since their early bye week. Unfortunately for them, the Bucs allow a league best 3.5 YPC, so McFadden will be kept quiet. Oakland is also 3-6-1 ATS in its last 10 games at home. Even though I expect a good day from Carson Palmer, the Bucs will be able to keep up with the Raiders and win a close one on the road.
Recap: I wouldn't want to be facing the Bucs right now if I was their opponent. Tampa Bay seems to have bought into coach Greg Schiano's system and approach. However, they are no longer the underrated team they once were coming off their bye :(
Saints -3 vs. Philadelphia
Don't get me wrong, both these teams have their concerns. However, I'm taking the Saints here because they have less issues than the Eagles and because someone named Drew Brees plays for them. The Saints defensive struggles have been well documented so far, but not all hope is lost. With an extra week to prepare with the return of their DC Steve Spagnuolo, the Saints will have a game plan to slow down LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick. More importantly, with the added pressure on Andy Reid and Vick, the Eagles will play conservatively to limit turnovers, allowing the Saints to take an early lead. The Eagles will be under pressure to score throughout the game, which ultimately will result to more turnovers for them. Look for Drew Brees and the Saints to win a high scoring affair.
Recap: Although I was expecting a higher scoring game, the outcome was predictable in this game. The Saints are simply a better team at the moment. I honestly felt bad for Michael Vick. The Eagles O-line inadequacies are shocking and until they fix it, you must fade the Eagles.